Category Archives: Current Affairs

Nigeria: A Boko Haram Republic Or A Future U.S. Military Base?

The national anthem of Nigeria hails the country as “one nation bound in freedom, peace and unity.” But when one reflects upon Nigeria’s somewhat chequered past, it is quite clear that even when the anthem was adopted in 1978, freedom, peace and unity was more a thing of hope than reality.

Nigerians are a resilient people. And despite wholesale embezzlement of public funds, pseudo democracy and long-standing austerity measures, the average Nigerian has managed to survive — albeit by careful scrapping.  But terrorism is a totally different kettle of fish. Since 2010, the terrorist group Boko Haram has sustained a steady campaign of bombings in northern Nigeria. And with President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration having very little grip on internal security, the urban guerrillas now have the country on lock-down.

With the Nigerian administration being evidently clueless on how to effectively contain Boko Haram, one wonders what then is the African Union (AU) doing about the volatile situation? Well, if Africa cannot sort out her own problems, there’s always “global rent-a-cop” ready to charge to the rescue.

The U.S. clearly has a vested interest in Nigeria. Most of us know that already know that the U.S. always closely follows the crude oil trail, just as files follow animal feces and garbage. According to Professor Paul Lubeck of University of California, Nigeria “is a major source of petroleum and natural gas for international markets, especially for the U.S., because it’s outside the Persian Gulf, it’s close to American refining, and it’s of a particular quality of oil that many gallons of gasoline could be developed from every barrel of oil.”

It is therefore little wonder that the U.S. is closely watching the situation in Nigeria. The White House spokesman, Jay Carney, released a statement on Boxing Day saying that the Obama administration contacted the Nigerian government over the Boko Haram Christmas Day church bombings, offering to help bring those responsible to book.

Strangely enough, I am always somewhat wary of U.S. involvement in global political situations.  There is just too much spin, deceit, manipulation, misinformation and self-aggrandisement for my liking.  Consequently, it’s quite understandable that President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration is pussyfooting over whether to accept U.S. help or not.  But of course, this doesn’t diminish the fact that President Goodluck Jonathan and the AU ought to step up to the plate ASAP and demonstrate true and effective leadership at such a critical time.

Nigeria the Boko Haram Republic is just as bad as Nigeria the U.S. military base.  Neither is a viable option worth exploring.  And as these are clearly testing times in the already chequered history of the sleeping giant of Africa, there is no better time for Nigerians to resoundingly invoke the part of the national anthem that says:  “O God of creation, direct our noble cause. Guide our leaders right, help our youth the truth to know……….”

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The International Criminal Court V New Libya

Since his capture six days  ago, nearly every politician of repute, as well as so-called “political experts” on middle east affairs, have waded in with an opinion on where Saif Al Islam Gaddafi should stand trial.

Those calling for Saif to stand trial in the International Criminal Court (ICC), in the Hague, point to the fairness of a ICC trial, the appropriateness of the ICC to hold war crimes trials, the current inadequate court system in Libya and the nonrecognition of the death penalty, as key decision factors.

On the other hand, there are those, including the Libyan authorities, who want Saif to stand trial in Libya, under Libyan law, for his alleged crimes against humanity among others.

Whichever way we choose to look at it, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that Libya recognises the death penalty. The ICC doesn’t.

According to the Associated Press, the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, who met with Libyan authorities on Tuesday 22 November, “conceded the Libyans have the authority to try him at home but he wants judges from the Netherlands-based court to be involved.”

But then a more cautious Reuters report quotes Mr. Moreno-Ocampo as saying: “The issue of where the trials will be held has to be resolved through consultations with the court. In the end, the ICC judges will decide. There are legal standards which will have to be adhered to.”

So far, an official decision on where to try Saif Gaddafi has not been reached and it’s anyone’s guess  how long the legal wranglings between the ICC and the Libyan authorities will continue for.  What is, however, plausible is that the longer it takes for both sides to agree modalities, the more precarious Saif’s safety in captivity will become.

Strangely enough, I don’t particularly remember there being so much drama over where to try Saddam Hussein following his own capture in 2003, even though  he  was accused of far more heinous crimes against humanity than Saif ever will.  It was almost as if the West clamored for an Iraq-based trial for Saddam to exterminate him once and for all. Where was the ICC then? Taking a power nap….possibly?

Michael Jackson’s Death A Hoax?

Unsurprisingly, a number of conspiracy theories have floated around since Michael Jackson’s sudden death in 2009.  According to some conspiracy theories, the Illuminati is behind Michael’s death. Others hold a more outlandish view that Michael is simply manipulating the media with his disappearance, but he will be returning soon. Make what you will of this, conspiracy theories and hoaxes are as old as the hills and simply part of human nature.

In the aftermath of Michael Jackson’s personal physician, Conrad Murray, being found guilty of involuntary manslaughter, the conspiracy theory mill went into overdrive.  A few days ago, M7HE productions published a short documentary   (posted below) showing six procedural issues with the Dr. Conrad Murray involuntary manslaughter trial, which it feels may suggest a possible death hoax.

For instance, a photograph of Michael taken at the time of autopsy erroneously had a date-stamp of 25 August 2009. The autopsy was actually conducted on 26 June 2009, the day after Michael died.

The documentary also highlighted concern with respect of the jury verdict form showing a wrong incident date of 6 June 2009 – Michael was still alive on this day. Although the form was later corrected by the jury foreman, according to the documentary,  a supplementary form should have been completed explaining the initial error, but this wasn’t done. Apparently, there is precedent for wrongly completed jury verdict forms resulting in tossed verdicts.

Other trial oddities shown in the documentary include the unconventional handcuffing procedures used to restrain Dr. Murray after he was found guilty, and court papers wrongly referring to Michael as “Michael Joseph  Jackson” instead of “Michael Joe Jackson.”

While the case for a Michael Jackson death hoax doesn’t hold weight and the various conspiracy theories are generally unfounded, it is evidently clear that  some aspects of the criminal trial were somewhat unusual.  Not being a lawyer myself, I wonder if the highlighted trial concerns provide sufficient basis for an appeal ? That is a matter for Dr. Murray’s defence team.

Anyway, when it’s all said, done and dusted, the bottom line remains that the evidence against Dr. Murray was overwhelming and by extension, supports a guilty verdict. As for Michael Jackson……. gone too soon.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Please, Let’s Keep It Real

Watching the huge display of celebrations outside the courthouse in Los Angeles, after the announcement of the guilty verdict in the Michael Jackson manslaughter trial, I couldn’t help but wonder why we always have to find someone to blame when things go wrong. It was almost as if the fans outside the courthouse were ready to exert mob justice on Dr. Conrad Murray, who had just been officially held responsible for Michael Jackson’s death.

Arguably,  Michael Jackson was, if not the greatest entertainer ever, then one of the greatest. As a Michael fan myself, I think musically, it doesn’t get  any better than Billie Jean, off the wall, rock with you and human nature. But having said that, I think it takes a certain type of fan to camp outside the Los Angeles courthouse everyday for six weeks, all in the name of justice for Michael. I found it quite bizarre that some fans became quite emotional when the guilty verdict came down and others broke out into a frenzy of  Michael’s trademark moonwalk and electric slide dance routines. To me, these celebrations were a touch over the top considering the fact that most of these fans only knew Michael from afar.

I agree that the Jackson clan, and some of Michael’s fans, may find the verdict  somewhat therapeutic.  Nevertheless, it is important that we all keep things real for a number of reasons.

1) While the guilty verdict may help the Jackson clan and fans deal with their grief, it doesn’t bring Michael back from the dead.

2) Dr. Murray is held responsible for Michael Jackson’s death within the realm of law. Although Dr. Murray was evidently professionally negligent, there was clearly no intention on his part to kill Michael. The manner of Michael’s death, though tragic, was purely accidental.

There are times in life when things happen that we cannot unscramble. When faced with these situations, we should learn from them, accept them as fate and then move on. As I mentioned earlier, this doesn’t reincarnate Michael, but it helps put sad situations like this in perspective.  On a spiritual level, maybe we ought to also accept that no matter how short a life, it is indeed a life spent.

3) Michael Jackson was clearly addicted to controlled drugs and he engaged Dr. Murray to help him obtain them. If it hadn’t been Dr. Murray, it would have been someone else willing to oblige for money. When we view things from this angle, it’s hard not to conclude that Michael Jackson’s tragic death was, maybe, an accident waiting to happen.

Consequently, it is ironic that Dr. Murray’s “once in a lifetime opportunity” turned out to be his nemesis. However, his woe was self-inflicted by greed. Surely he must have known that in using controlled drugs in the way that he did, he was over-skirting the borders of medical ethics.

Dr. Murray deserves to lose his medical license and be held accountable, albeit as a scapegoat, for his greed-fuelled medical negligence. However, finally, I hope that the Jackson clan takes solace from the verdict and then find it in their hearts to withdraw their multiple civil lawsuits against him.  The man is financially ruined and professionally damaged as it is.  Isn’t this enough?

Condoleezza Rice: “No Higher Honor”

Just in case you have been wondering whatever happened to former U.S. Secretary of State, Dr. Condoleezza Rice, after she left Washington, well, she actually went back to Stanford University (USA) where she is currently a professor of political science.

Last week Dr. Rice published her memoirs titled “No Highest Honor.” The book which is published in the UK by Simon & Schuster and Crown in the U.S., details key events of her time in Washington during the George W Bush years.

In a recent interview to promote her book ( posted below), Dr. Rice was asked if she had any regrets over the case made for going to war with Iraq. In response, Dr. Rice opined that the case for war perhaps  “overemphasized intelligence nuggets rather than the totality of the picture about Saddam Hussein.”  But when grilled further that Saddam Hussein didn’t have weapons of mass destruction (WMD), Dr. Rice remarked that he “just didn’t have stockpiles of them.”  I am sorry Dr. Rice, but the end doesn’t always justify the means. Waging war against Iraq, or any other sovereign nation, based on fabricated evidence, is ultimately an unjustifiable blatant act of aggression.

During the course of the interview Dr. Rice also opined that if Saddam Hussein hadn’t been removed from the scene there wouldn’t have been the chain reaction of Arab uprisings recently seen in the Middle East. Not that Dr. Rice’s memoirs would give credence to this theory, but for all we know, the Arab spring and the demise of Saddam Hussein and Colonel Gaddafi could have been prescripted as part of a bigger Middle East hidden agenda.

On a much lighter front, Dr. Rice confirms that the late Colonel Gaddafi was, indeed, fascinated with her and that he actually had a song written for her: “Black flower in the Whitehouse.”