Lagos, Nigeria - The new 5-million-square-metre Eko Atlantic City, dedicated in Lagos on Thursday, government's move to settle 'disengaged' electricity workers and the death penalty for terrorists dominated front pages in Nigeria this week.
Also reported during the week were the prominent Nigerians on terror hit list and the court order on the Federal Government to compensate a community raided by soldiers during President Olusegun Obasanjo's regime.
The TRIBUNE headlined its story on the planned mega city as 'Jonathan, Clinton back Fashola’s effort to transform Lagos.'
The story said in furtherance of land reclamation exercise and the quest to successfully construct the Eko Atlantic City, President Goodluck Jonathan and former president of the United States, Bill Clinton, have thrown their weight behind efforts by the Lagos State governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, to make Lagos State a tourist destination.
They were on hand on Thursday for the dedication of the city which will be Africa's first mega city when completed.
The Eko Atlantic City is about reclamation of land hitherto lost to the Atlantic Ocean in the last 100 years. When completed, the city, near the popular Lagos Bar Beach, will be the first modern smart city in Africa to be built on reclaimed land from the Atlantic Ocean. The first phase of the project will be completed in 2016.
Promoters of the project said about 250,000 people would live and work there, while 150,000 will commute daily to the city. It would provide world class infrastructure, shopping malls, schools, financial houses and hospitals, among others.
The leaders, who spoke at the event one after the other, noted that the city, when completed, would be a cynosure of all eyes and would bring people all over the world to study its technology.
The land reclaimed from the Bar Beach was commissioned by President Jonathan on Thursday
Speaking at the event, President Jonathan described the feat as a landmark, adding that “the project was one of the good news that we will continue to tell in the country'.
According to THISDAY, which headline was 'Clinton: Eko Atlantic City, Destination for Global Investment', former US President Bill Clinton on Thursday joined President Jonathan and Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), among others, to unveil the Eko Atlantic City, reclaimed from the Atlantic Ocean.
Clinton, who spoke at the dedication ceremony, said the city would attract people worldwide in the next five years and improve the domestic economy of Nigeria and bring enormous opportunities to the world.
The GUARDIAN also ran the story under the headline 'Jonathan, Clinton, Fashola, others laud Eko Atlantic City project'.
The TRIBUNE, reporting the story on payoff for electricity workers with the headline 'PRIVATISATION: PHCN WORKERS GET N348 BILLION PAY OFF', said the Federal Government on Wednesday announced that it would commence the payment of 348 billion Naira (about US$ 2.3 billion) being the agreed entitlements of sacked staff of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).
The paper quoted the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Emeka Wogu, and his Power counterpart, Professor Chinedu Nebo, as saying in a joint briefing, that President Jonathan had approved the payment of what had been agreed with the workers.
Following the privatization of the assets of the company, government had agreed with organized labour to pay off workers made up of about 50,000 regular and 4,000 unregularised staff such that whoever would be absorbed in the new company would sign on to new conditions of service.
In its second story on payoff for electricity workers, the TRIBUNE screamed 'Prepare to pay more for electricity - FG tells Nigerians' with the rider 'As FG, PHCN successor investors sign handover agreements'.
The paper quoted the acting Director-General, Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Mr. Benjamin Ezra Dikki, as advising electricity consumers in Nigeria to be prepared for increased electricity tariff.
Dikki, speaking at the signing of Transaction and Industry Agreements (TIA) for the PHCN successor companies in Abuja on Thursday, said, however, that the increase would only be in the short run, as tariffs were bound to fall in the long run as a result of massive investment in the sector.
He reminded Nigerians of the crash in the price of SIM cards in the telecoms sector, as a result of competition and investments in the industry, adding that the same development would unfold in the power sector.
The PUNCH treated the story under the headline 'Nigerians’ll soon enjoy regular electricity supply – Elumelu'. It said that the Chief Executive Officer of Transcorp/Woodrock, the consortium that won the bid for Ugheli Power Plc, Mr. Tony Elumelu, on Thursday said with the signing of transaction and industry agreements for the Power Holding Company of Nigeria’s successor companies, the stage was set for the citizens to enjoy uninterrupted power supply.
The VANGUARD headline on the story was 'Power sector: New owners to take possession of assets June 2013.'
The papers also ran stories on the approval of the death penalty by the Nigerian Senate.
'Senate okays death penalty for terrorists', according to the VANGUARD which reported that the Senate on Wednesday descended heavily on terrorism perpetrators with a recommendation that the capital punishment awaits those found guilty of the act.
Considering a report on “a Bill for an Act to amend the Terrorism (prevention) Act, 2012,” brought forward by its Conference Committee during plenary, the Senate in an unanimous resolution, held that there was no alternative to punishing terrorism offenders than death.
Still on terror, the TRIBUNE screamed 'IBB, Dasuki on terrorists’ hit list - SSS', reporting that the Department of State Security Service (SSS) on Wednesday revealed that it had arrested an Iran-trained Nigerian-born international terrorist along with two others for espionage and terrorist activities.
The arrested persons were said to have placed the former military President, General Ibrahim Babangida, the deposed Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Ibrahim Dasuki, and other prominent Nigerians on their hit list.
It said the spokesperson for the Service, Marilyn Ogar, who paraded the suspects before newsmen in Abuja on Wednesday said that the arrests were made possible “as a result of painstaking investigations which lasted six months”.
According to her, the Service arrested Abdullahi Mustapha Berende on 17 December, 2012, for his active involvement in espionage and terrorist activities.
She revealed that during investigation, it was discovered that Berende, a 50-year-old local leader of the Shiite Sect in Ilorin, was observed to have made several suspicious trips to and from Iran where he interacted with some Iranian elements known to operate a high-profile international terrorist network.
She further disclosed that Berende also confessed that in 2006, he gained admission for a six-month course in Modern Shi’a Islamic Teaching at Imam Khomeni University, Iran, and was recruited by some Iranian elements when he returned to Iran for further studies in 2012 where he was subsequently trained on the use of AK 47 assault rifle, pistols, production and detonation of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
According to her, “after his return to Nigeria, he was invited by his handlers to Dubai for further briefing in April, 2012 where he was tasked to establish a terrorist cell in the South-Western part of Nigeria with particular emphasis on Lagos”.
Ogar said that in a bid to establish the network in the South-West as directed, Berende recruited three others out of whom two were picked up with him while one escaped.
According to her,”the Iranian sponsors directed Berende to identify and gather intelligence on public places and prominent hotels frequented by Americans and Israelis to facilitate attacks.
He was to provide specific details on the following targets organizations like UsAID, Max, Zim International Shipping Company, A A Consulting, Peace Corps and the Jewish Cultural Centre in Lagos.
She added that the suspect was also tasked to provide names of prominent Nigerians, who, if attacked could unsettle the west which prompted him to give the names of General Babangida and Alhaji Dasuki as targets of attack to his Iranian handlers
THISDAY newspaper ran the same story under the headline 'Iran Linked to Terrorist Plot to Kill IBB, Dasuki' with the riders 'US, Israeli interests targeted' and 'Ambassador summoned over espionage allegation'.
With the headlines 'Federal Govt to pay N37.6b damages for Odi massacre' - NATION; 'Court orders govt to pay N37.6b for invasion of Odi' - the GUARDIAN; and 'FG to pay N37bn compensation for Odi’s invasion'- the PUNCH, the papers were awash with stories on a court order on the Federal Government to compensate the Odi community in the South South Bayelsa State, president Jonathan's home state.
According to the NATION, 14 years after the military invasion of Odi, a court on Tuesday awarded 37.618 billion Naira (about US$ 280 million) damages for the killings.
It said Justice Lambi Akanbi of the Federal High Court, sitting in Port Harcourt, awarded the damages in his judgment on the 100 billion Naiar suit filed by the community against the Federal Government.
The plaintiffs sought the damages for the destruction of lives and property in Odi during the administration of President Obasanjo.
Obasanjo recently condemned President Jonathan’s handling of the Boko Haram crisis, saying when he faced such a situation in Odi he acted swiftly and decisively.
But President Jonathan rejected the criticism, saying Odi invasion was callous and brutal.
Justice Akanbi ordered that the money be paid by the Federal Government within three weeks.
He awarded N17.618 billion as general damages and N206 billion as special damages — as pleaded by the plaintiffs.