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Serena Williams outlasts Azarenka to win US Open title

World number one Serena Williams captured her fifth US Open title, and second in a row, by outlasting second-ranked Victoria Azarenka 7-5, 6-7 (6/8), 6-1 Sunday to claim her 17th career Grand Slam crown.

The 31-year-old American became the oldest Open Era women’s winner in US Open history, 293 days older than Margaret Court when she set the prior mark in 1973, and the third-oldest Grand Slam women’s champion of the Open Era.

Williams won $3.6 million, including a $1 million bonus for her success in US open tuneup events.

She is the first top-seeded champion since Justine Henin in 2007 and the first woman to defend the US Open crown since Kim Clijsters in 2010.

Williams won a rematch of last year’s US Open final that gave her and Azarenka a combined total of six of the eight major titles from the past two years.

Williams improved to 13-3 in their rivalry but two-time Australian Open champion Azarenka had won two of the previous three, most recently in last month’s Cincinnati final.

“It was never over until match point,” said Williams, who was broken twice in the second set when serving for the match.

“Victoria is such a great competitor. She was really able to push me into a third set. I was really stern with myself. I knew that if I wanted to win, I had to play better.”

Azarenka admitted Williams was the superior performer in windy conditions at Arthur Ashe Stadium that baffled both players at times and sent Williams’ pink dress fluttering above her waist much of the match.

“It’s a tough loss but being in the final against the best player, who deserves the win, it’s incredible,” Azarenka said. “I gave it everything I had. I fought hard.”

Williams matched Steffi Graf for second on the Open Era list with five US Open trophies, one shy of Chris Evert’s record, and moved one adrift of Martina Navratilova and Evert for second on the Open Era Slam win list.

Graf has the Open Era record of 22 while Australian Court owns the all-time mark of 24, although Williams has matched the men’s Slam record title total of 17 won by Roger Federer.

“Yeah, that’s pretty cool,” Williams said.

The match lasted two hours and 45 minutes to become the longest US Open women’s final since timing began in 1980, five minutes longer than the old mark set in 1981 when Tracy Austin outlasted Navratilova 1-6, 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/1).

“I haven’t taken any of it in yet. I feel like it’s deuce right now,” Williams said 45 minutes after the match. “I feel like a zombie. I feel like there’s another match.”

Williams became the first woman since Henin in 2007 to win the US and French Opens in the same year.

With the victory, Williams has won more than $9 million in 2013, a one-year women’s record, and boosted her career winnings above $50 million as well as capturing her ninth title of the year, a one-season personal best.

She also has 55 career titles in total.

Serena Williams of the US holds the trophy as she celebrates her win over Victoria Azarenka of Belarus during their 2013 US Open women's singles final match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center September 8, 2013 in New York. AFP

Serena Williams of the US holds the trophy as she celebrates her win over Victoria Azarenka of Belarus during their 2013 US Open women’s singles final match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center September 8, 2013 in New York. AFP

 Williams, who lost only 16 games over her first six matches, battled windy conditions and a determined foe in a rematch of last year’s final to add to the New York hardcourt trophy haul that included wins in 1999, 2002, 2008 and 2012.

Williams said her Slam triumphs mean more after suffering blood clots in her lungs in 2011 that jeopardized her life and left her at times “lying in bed and thinking I will never play again.

“It’s definitely sweeter,” she said. “When I was 17 and won my first time I was really happy. Yet there were times I thought I would never pick up a racquet again so every one feels greater.”

Williams seized a 4-1 lead in the second set but Azarenka broke her twice as she served for the match, later admitting she had lost focus “completely”, and took her into a tie-breaker.

After being twice denied on set points by Williams, Azarenka swatted a service winner to lead 7-6 and Williams sent a forehand long to put herself into a third set.

“I was really disappointed,” Williams said. “I felt like I had some chances. I didn’t play a smart match in that second set. When I was up I didn’t play like I could have and I should have.”

Azarenka owned the momentum entering the final set but double faulted away a break to Williams, who promply fired three aces in the fifth game to hold for a 4-1 lead, one of them the fastest of the tournament by anyone at 126 mph.

When Azarenka netted a baseline forehand to surrender a break, Williams had her third chance to serve for the title.

This time, she did not fail.



PDP: ‘Divided we stand’

The affront, last week, on President Goodluck Jonathan and the leadership of the ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP, was, perhaps, the most tendentious action ever driven by any group of individuals within the party that is giving it sleepless nights. Like an earthquake, the launching of the revolt and the unveiling of the forces behind the mutiny shook the party to its foundation.

With their heads lifted above the mainstream party, those holding forte at the original PDP began to shriek over what to do in order to contain the uprising.

Its strategists continued, last week, to ward off the looming debacle that has all the potentials to cause its huge political assets to nosedive. Barely a week after, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and seven governors announced the formation of a new leadership over that of the mainstream PDP headed by Alhaji Bamanga Tukur; the import is not lost that the once united, veritable and ambitious party is in bad shape.

The crack in the leadership of the party has once again brought to the fore the underhand politicking, bare faced manipulations and outright frustration of the perceived ‘opponents’ or recalcitrant members of the party. Those are the victims of the selfish politics of the PDP, which has been going on over the years, who now feel imperiled and marginalised and need a vent in order to recoup their places or perish forever as far as the PDP is concerned. They may indeed consider themselves lucky that their first sneeze has made the party to catch cold.

Vice-President Namadi Sambo, President Goodluck Jonathan, Dame Patience Jonathan and Bamanga Tukur at the PDP Convention in Abuja

Vice-President Namadi Sambo, President Goodluck Jonathan, Dame Patience Jonathan and Bamanga Tukur at the PDP Convention in Abuja

By midweek, it was obvious to Jonathan, Chief Anthony Anenih, the Chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees, BoT, and its National Chairman, Bamanga Tukur, that they might have, indeed, inadvertently stepped on a dangerous viper, whose venom can be very mortal to them and the party, which they have been using in the last 14 years to gain access to the leadership of Nigeria and derive both tangible and intangible benefits in the process. The fever of what initially started with seven governors later spread to the National Assembly and took root. No fewer than 26 senators and 58 House of Representatives members opted for the faction as soon as it came on stream. By the close of work on Friday, more lawmakers had served notice of their intention to dump the mainstream PDP for the New PDP all in a bid to show them how frustrated they have been with the party in the past.

Almost all the members of the NASS from Kano also threw their weight behind the parallel group. The same situation is expected to play out in Rivers State, whose Governor Rotimi Amaechi is part of the New PDP and has been unduly provoked by the Tukur group.

An immediate solution was not in sight, last week, as the President and his strategists struggled to find a way out of the logjam, which they, unconsciously, brought on their shoulders through selfish actions, which, among them, was the attempt to manipulate the controversial special national convention, to produce and which produced a pre-determined outcome.

Although the Presidency and the party leadership ‘got’ their way and imposed those they wanted to return as members of the National Working Committee, NWC, of the party, all in the name of ‘special  convention’, they nevertheless got more than they bargained for when the Atiku group shocked them with a revolt. The group was unmistakable as it laid bare the litany of its grouse against the Tukur-led PDP and went ahead to announce it had broken away in order to salvage the party and Nigeria from imminent collapse.

On that sunny Saturday afternoon, former National Chairman of the PDP, Abubakar Baraje, sandwiched by Atiku, the seven governors, lawmakers, and some former national officers of the PDP and hordes of supporters, who had come for the controversial convention, shook the foundation of the Yar’ Ádua Centre with the announcement that a new leadership had been put in place to pilot the affairs of the party.

While Baraje was named the National Chairman, Sam Sam Jaja emerged the Deputy Chairman while the former Osun Governor, Olagunsoye Oyinlola got the post of National Secretary of the new group. It was not difficult to see how elated those present in the hall were once the jolting announcement had been made. Ecstasy was in the air. Shouts of ‘carry on’ rented the air for a moment and resounded as new names were rolled out as members of the faction.

Baraje did not disappoint the group and its supporters as he mounted the podium to assume the mantle of leadership entrusted on him by a combination of circumstance and ambition to offer himself to lead the group all in a bid to effect a positive change at a time the PDP was losing steam and missing the fine points enunciated by its founding fathers in 1998.

Shortly after being proclaimed the factional National Chairman of the party, Baraje said he was ready to make the PDP the party that would give priority attention to all members and give them a level-playing field to achieve their political ambitions.

Baraje said the Tukur-led PDP had destroyed the core values, which the founding fathers of the PDP bequeathed to Nigeria and frustrated many key members out of the party, while those who knew nothing about the philosophy of the party were now the leading lights.

New PDP Faction:  From Left, New National Secretary and Former Governor of Osun State Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Former Nasarawa State Governor Abdullahi Adamu, Kwara State Governor Dr. Abdulfatah Ahmed, Rivers State Governor  Rotimi Amechi , New PDP Factional National Chairman Abubakar Kawu Baraje, Kano State Governor Rabiu Kawankwazo  and Jigawa State Governor Sule Lamido at Press conference announcing new PDP  Factional Leadership in Abuja.   Photo by Gbemiga Olamikan.

New PDP Faction: From Left, New National Secretary and Former Governor of Osun State Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Former Nasarawa State Governor Abdullahi Adamu, Kwara State Governor Dr. Abdulfatah Ahmed, Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amechi , New PDP Factional National Chairman Abubakar Kawu Baraje, Kano State Governor Rabiu Kawankwazo and Jigawa State Governor Sule Lamido at Press conference announcing new PDP Factional Leadership in Abuja. Photo by Gbemiga Olamikan.

He also denounced the tendency by the Tukur administration to breathe down the neck of members, who do not do the bidding of the Presidency and its lackeys, saying that such a practice was undemocratic and retrogressive.
Giving some form of assurance to deviate from the ‘provocative manner’ in which Tukur was running the PDP, Baraje said he would bring about a new lease of life for all by democratising the party to give a sense of belonging to all the members and stakeholders.

Baraje said, “From now, the new leadership of the party under us will strive to build a fairer as well as a more transparent and accountable PDP that will put the  interest of members and indeed all the people of Nigeria above that of one single individual. “For all the members of our great party who may have become disillusioned by the anti-democratic tendencies of the Bamanga Tukur leadership, there is a new lease of life in the horizon. It is a new dawn for the Peoples Democratic Party.

The forces arrayed against Jonathan, Anenih and Tukur are fully aware that unless they act fast, the ticket for the 2015 election might have been delivered on a platter to the President by the BoT Chairman (Anenih) and his associates. Anenih did not mince words at the mid-term dinner organised by the Presidency, where he canvassed for the amendment of the party’s Constitution to make it possible for Jonathan to run without a primary election as is the case in America and other advanced democracies in the world. He is not wrong on that score. That is the norm.

Many other stakeholders had known beforehand that the main purpose of the PDP special national convention was to weed out those in the NWC considered to be anti-Jonathan and serving as moles to either former President Olusegun Obasanjo or the governors who spearheaded their emergence as members of the NWC.

Such members were also not considered useful to the re-election bid of Jonathan and a decision to edge them out of the NWC had been in the works for some time.

For instance, Atiku, who is suspected of still nursing a presidential ambition, had to raise the alarm before his name was included as a delegate on the Adamawa list to the convention. But knowing that the Rivers governor, Amaechi, whom the PDP leadership had suspended and refused to lift the suspension even after the stipulated one month, would not attend the convention, it had his name dubiously smuggled into the list of voters. Paradoxically, the same party excluded the names of all the commissioners and other statutory delegates from the state from the list predicating its action on their refusal to appear before the Felix Obuah exco in the state to answer to charges of anti-party activities.

Beyond the manipulations that manifested prior to and during the special convention, the alleged attempt by the President to seek re-election in 2015 appears to have quickened the resolve by the aggrieved parties to move against him before they lose ground.

A source close to the Atiku camp said that the former Vice President and many northern governors elected on the platform of the PDP were convinced that some forces were set to field Jonathan as presidential candidate of the PDP in the 2015 election, contrary to an earlier agreement to run for just one term of four years.

There has been unease in the PDP since Niger State Governor Babangida Aliyu challenged the President, last March, not to contemplate running for second term since he had a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ with them in 2010 not to go for second term if he was elected in the 2011 election.

Although the letter has not been made public, thereby fueling speculation that it remains a conceptual variable, many presidential aides have challenged the anti-Jonathan forces to produce the said agreement as a proof or shut up forever.

The former VP, who is alleged to have had a hand in the newly-registered Peoples Democratic Movement, PDM, was said to be ready to challenge the forces bent on imposing the President on the PDP in 2015 not minding how long it would take. A source noted that the move against Jonathan’s re-election was a popular decision backed by many northern governors and political leaders in the PDP and that many other governors might jump on the band wagon in the coming months.

The move, it was gathered, is aimed at weakening the PDP to a point that whoever emerges as its presidential candidate would not stand a chance of winning the next election.

The source said that although the PDM was registered to provide a fallback position for those to be thrown out of the PDP as a result of the rebellion, most of the actors would want to remain in the ruling party until it crumbles.

One of the key actors said, “It is true that what has been happening in the PDP lately has given Atiku and other stakeholders in the country a serious cause for concern. It is clear to all of these people that Jonathan is desperately plotting to return in 2015 against an earlier agreement he had with some northern leaders to run for a single term.

“What the Niger State Governor Babangida Aliyu exposed, last March , is nothing but the whole truth. Jonathan pleaded with them to support him only for one term and his decision to run is against that ‘gentleman agreement’ and that is what is causing ripples in the party.

“Atiku even met with Jonathan shortly after the 2011 election and he told him he would not run again. I can tell you that it was that assurance that prevented Atiku from challenging Jonathan’s emergence as the candidate of the PDP in the 2011 primaries”.

The Tukur group, which had earlier dismissed the revolt by the New PDP as a child’s play, later got the message and knew how serious the group was. It moved fast to checkmate the recalcitrant elements with a sledgehammer but did not apparently know how to go about it. First, Tukur threatened to jail all members of the faction and declare the seats of the lawmakers vacant if they dared to defect.

PDP Special National Convention: Delegates casting their votes at 2013 PDP Special National Convention . Photo by Gbemiga Olamikan.

PDP Special National Convention: Delegates casting their votes at 2013 PDP Special National Convention . Photo by Gbemiga Olamikan.

With support from the Presidency, Tukur took it upon himself to tackle the rebel governors and lawmakers from two fronts: judicially and politically. But all these moves are yet to bear fruit.

While claiming that Baraje and others in the parallel PDP were jesters and impostors, Tukur threatened to mobilise the security agencies against them.

He boasted, “The PDP has only one duly elected National Working Committee (NEC) under my chairmanship. I wish therefore to state with all emphasis that any group of persons parading themselves as leaders of NWC or any other organ of our party are impostors and I urge all Nigerians, especially the security agencies and other institutions of democracy, to regard them as such.

But, in a swift reaction, the chairman of  the New PDP, Baraje, described Tukur and those on his side as jokers.
He said: “They are all jokers; they don’t know what party politics is. We are not surprised because he (Tukur) is ignorant of party politics. In any case, the process of declaring a seat vacant or recalling members of the National Assembly is well known in the constitution; to wake up and say he is going to recall people or declare their seats vacant is sheer ignorance. He is not fit to be called the National Chairman of the PDP.”

Baraje had hardly ended his statement when the spokesman for the House of Representatives, Hon. Zakari Mohammed, who hails from Kwara State and is in support of the New PDP, thundered like a volcano.

“The man (Tukur) should go and read the Electoral Act as that will guide his utterances. This is about the law. What he does not understand is that when a party is factionalised, I can decide to say that I belong to PPA today. It doesn’t matter because it is public knowledge today that we have two factions of the PDP and nobody can pretend about it”.

Still from that state, members of the executive of the party joined their governor and threw their weight behind Baraje.

The state chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Ishola Balogun Fulani, speaking at a press conference at the party secretariat in Ilorin, recalled that Baraje was able to maturely handle the crisis in the party to a minimal level and even won more electoral victories for the party.

According to Fulani, who was represented by his secretary, Prince Yemi Afolayan, the Tukur-led PDP has committed several constitutional breaches, which has made it impossible for members to reap the dividends of democracy and should quit office with immediate effect”.

The present crisis rocking the PDP has all the trappings of a tug-of-war and can consume those who are not well-rooted in the game they are trying to play. As it has always been in Nigeria, the expectations of the Presidency and the Tukur group is that, at the ‘right time’, the renegades would be ‘settled’ one way or the other in order for them to drop their opposition to Jonathan’s re-election in 2015. But given the calibre of personages involved in the ‘new struggle’ to bail out the party ‘from predators and pretenders’ and the need for them to also have a shot at the pinnacle of power, it may turn out that the projection of the pro-Jonathan group may not hold. The anti-President elements may decide to hold their heads up and fight to the finish and earn the applause of many Nigerians and those who believe that the PDP under Jonathan has failed to deliver the goods to them in the past and can therefore not do any magic in the future.

The split in the party leadership also has the capacity to stop the President from returning to the Aso Rock in 2015. If the situation remains as it were, Jonathan may then need to appease the gods in order to salvage him from sinking into the abyss of political failure in 2015. Now, with Lagos solidly in the kitty of the APC while Kano and Rivers states, two former PDP strongholds with large voting population, glibly tilting towards the opposition, the President may need to take extra steps in order to win re-election.

The browbeat being undertaken by his loyalists in order to clear the way for him to win second term may not deliver the expected result since the tactics may not readily add up. Those who have convinced Jonathan to use his ministers and other aides to deny governors of the structures of the party may have missed the point and unlikely to get it right in the final analysis. The situation in Rivers State is a case  in point where the governor is still able to swim against the tide despite having been stripped of the party structures and given to Obuah and the  Minister of State for Education, Nyesome Wike. It may sound good to those plotting for Mr. President but the truth remains that in Nigeria the greater power to elect and be re-elected still resides with the man who signs the cheque at the end of the month – the state governor.

Baraje and Tukur

Baraje and Tukur

How the President and his supporters will navigate their way out of the imbroglio remains a miracle.
But a founding member of the PDP and former Education and Petroleum Minister, Prof Jubril Aminu, believes Jonathan will always trounce his political detractors, if he  remains focused on the job Nigerians gave him to perform.

Aminu said, “President Jonathan appears to be too concerned about his second term and there are some persons who are making a capital out of that obsession, which provides a very good menu for others to capitalise on.

“If Mr. President continues to put too much emphasis on the 2015 election, he may lose focus on the job he was elected by Nigerians to deliver. My advice to him is to concentrate on the work that Nigerians gave him to do. He will certainly get his second term if he does the work well.

“As long as he continues to work towards resolving the contentious issues in the education and health sectors as well as the security challenges facing the North, he will certainly be re-elected when the time comes.

“My fear is that some people are taking advantage of Jonathan’s second term ambition to cause more avoidable problems in the country and distracting him in the process.”

While kicking against the action of the former Vice President and the seven governors, the former Education and Petroleum Minister said the ‘rebels’ could not be acting in the interest of Nigerians but for their personal interests.
Aminu pointed out, “I don’t support what Atiku and the seven governors are doing because I don’t think that what they have done is right. I don’t think that they are motivated by altruism but I suspect that they are just trying to protect their ego.

“I strongly suspect that what the governors and their backers are doing is a bit of political gambling aimed at settling scores, distracting the PDP or pure mischief”.

It may well be that it would have been too late to salvage the PDP by the time the forces behind the ‘coup’ is unveiled. That is why those who want to still relish in the comfort, which the PDP has come to offer them since inception, should rise to the occasion and reconcile the Tukur and Baraje factions in order for the two groups to arrive at the same destination in 2015. Failure to do so at once may still give some people a fleeting comfort and massage their ego for a while but such reticence has the dangerous potential to drive the final nail in the coffin of the PDP and consign it to the history books of Nigeria.

– Source:

Jonathan faults ICC on trial of Kenyatta

President Goodluck Jonathan

International organisations should be seen as agents for the resolution of crisis in countries.

President Goodluck Jonathan on Friday in Nairobi lent his voice to the ongoing debate on whether the president of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, should be tried by the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague.

Delivering an address to the joint session of the Kenyan Parliament on the sidelines of his state visit to that country, Mr. Jonathan stressed that international organisations were created to resolve problems and not to compound them.

He said international organisations should be seen as agents for the resolution of crisis in countries across the world and not contributing to problems of nations.

Specifically, Mr. Jonathan said that the insistence on the trial of Mr.Kenyatta by the ICC would further compound the political crisis which had already been doused in Kenya.

He recalled that a general election in Kenya in 2006 plunged the country into political turmoil, which was later resolved.

Mr. Jonathan noted that with the successful completion of the recent peaceful presidential elections in Kenya, the ICC should not be seen as a body to derail the progress made in the country.

“I believe that any law, whether local or international as well as Treaties and Conventions, should be instruments for the resolution human problems and not to compound them,” he said.

He called on the international community to support Kenya in its social-economic development.

The trial of Mr. Kenyatta and his Deputy, William Ruto, over alleged crimes against humanity committed before their elections had generated controversies in that country. On Thursday, members of the Kenyan Parliament were recalled from recess to vote for the withdrawal of the country from the ICC.

The lawmakers, who successfully voted in favour of the motion, had contended that they were taking the steps in defence of Kenyan sovereignty.

However, the global court has insisted that the trial of Mr. Kenyatta and his deputy would go ahead.

In a contrary opinion, Mr. Jonathan argued that the 2013 presidential elections which brought Mr. Kenyatta to office had demonstrated that Kenyans were capable of resolving their problems without interference from the international community.

“I believe and I share the sentiments of the government and people of Kenya when I say that we in Nigeria do not embrace democracy and the rule of law in response to external pressure or demand. We have embraced democracy and its underpinnings such as free, fair, credible and transparent election; rule of law; respect for human and peoples’ rights because they are the right things to do and they are good for us.

“We do not seek the validation or endorsement of our democracy outside the collective will of our people, the citizens and electorates of our respective countries. Democracy is not a one-size-fits-all system; rather it is a dynamic political system which must be operated within the particular context it finds itself,” he said.

Mr. Jonathan also called for the reform of the United Nations, UN, Security Council and other multilateral Organisations with lopsided membership.

“The on-going debate about the emerging global governance architecture should be of interest to our two countries and Africa as a whole. The existing international system is undemocratic and unfair,” the president said.

“Africa’s non-representation in the Councils and Chambers of international decision-making in the past was always explained in terms of our lack of sovereign independence. This claim is no longer valid. We call for the reform of the inherited global governance institutions. We call, especially, for the reform of the United Nations and its Security Council.

“Africa and other regions of the world, either not represented at all or inadequately represented, should be admitted into the permanent membership category of an expanded UN Security Council. Similar expansion and reform should also apply to all the other multilateral institutions with lopsided membership such as the Bretton Woods institutions. This would ensure that the decisions of these organisations enjoy the respect and credibility of their members,” he said

The Speaker of the Kenya National Assembly, Justin Muturi, acknowledged President Jonathan’s support for the Kenyan position that its people should be allowed to solve their problems.

He noted that the decision on the position of the ICC could plunge Kenya back into the unfortunate incidents of 2007.



Gov. Amaechi’s life in danger, Rivers Govt cries out

Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi

The Rivers State Government on Thursday night raised the alarm that the Commissioner of Police in the state, Joseph Mbu  was taking measures it believed were endangering the life of Governor Rotimi Amaechi.

In a statement made available to PREMIUM TIMES, the state Commissioner of Information, Ibim Semenitari, accused  Mr. Mbu of making curious, discreet enquiries about the governor’s movements.

Mrs Semenitari also accused the police commissioner of redeploying the police officer in charge of Mr. Amaechi’s convoy for failing to furnish him with details about the governor’s movement.

“After redeploying the Escort Commander, CP Mbu also requested the Camp Commandant of Government House, Port Harcourt, to give him prior briefing of the Governor’s daily movement. A request which in practice would be difficult to comply with unless the Camp Commandant gets prior knowledge of the Governor’s movement,” the statement said.

The commissioner added, “We suspect that the request for daily prior briefing on the Governor’s movement may be to furnish strange persons with necessary details of his movement and, thereby placing him in harms’ way.

“At different times, CP Mbu has compromised Governor Amaechi’s security and safety, and even personally led an attack on Government House, Port Harcourt on July 10, 2013. As Commissioner of Police, CP Mbu, refuses to brief the Governor, who is the Chief Security Officer of the state on the state of security in Rivers State.”

Read full statement below.

Today, Thursday September 5, 2013, the Commissioner of Police in Rivers State, Mr. Mbu Joseph Mbu redeployed the Escort Commander, in charge of the Convoy of the Governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi. The redeployment according to CP Mbu was because the Escort Commander had refused his directive to “furnish (the CP) with prior information of the movement of the Governor.” The Escort Commander is not in charge of the Governor’s Protocol and cannot have prior knowledge of the Governor’s movement, especially in the prevailing circumstances regarding security in the State.

After redeploying the Escort Commander, CP Mbu also requested the Camp Commandant of Government House, Port Harcourt, to give him prior briefing of the Governor’s daily movement. A request which in practice would be difficult to comply with unless the Camp Commandant gets prior knowledge of the Governor’s movement.

The Government of Rivers State is most uncomfortable with these developments and their implications for the security of Governor Amaechi. This is more so, as the developments are coming on the heels of the Rivers State Police Command’s declaration of Governor Amaechi’s ADC (which is receiving medical attention) as a deserter.

This sudden interest of CP Mbu regarding the daily movement of Governor Amaechi cannot be borne out of love. If his intentions were noble and above board, CP Mbu has Governor Amaechi’s telephone number and could have reached him directly to make the request of prior briefing of his movements. Alternatively, he could have written officially to the Secretary to State Government to make the same request.

This would be the first time, since Governor Amaechi assumed office in 2007, that a Police Commissioner would be requesting prior information of his movement. This was not the case even in the hey days of militancy in Rivers State. As far as we know this is an exception rather than the rule.

The fact that CP Mbu waited for the Governor to travel out of Port Harcourt to issue the invitation to policemen attached to Government House is curious and indicative of ulterior motives. His sudden interest in the Governor’s movement is suggestive of a more sinister motive.

CP Mbu has not hidden the fact that he holds Governor Amaechi in disdain and would stop at nothing to either harm him or aid those planning to harm him. After all in May 2013, he allowed ex-Militants to barricade the gate into the Government House after parading major streets of Port Harcourt. He has even acknowledged before the media that he found nothing wrong in fraternizing with militants.

We suspect that the request for daily prior briefing on the Governor’s movement may be to furnish strange persons with necessary details of his movement and, thereby placing him in harms’ way.

At different times, CP Mbu has compromised Governor Amaechi’s security and safety, and even personally led an attack on Government House, Port Harcourt on July 10, 2013. As Commissioner of Police, CP Mbu, refuses to brief the Governor, who is the Chief Security Officer of the state on the state of security in Rivers State.

The Governor had made formal report to the Police High Command concerning his worries about the CP and nothing has come out of the complaint. We have chosen to cry out to Nigerians and the rest of the world about this threat to Governor Amaechi’s life as a last resort. We therefore wish to alert Nigerians and the rest of the world that CP Mbu should be held responsible should anything evil happen to the Governor of Rivers State Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, any principal officer or top government functionary in Rivers State. We believe that his current actions are sufficient warning to us “as a tree that cries out cannot kill anyone on its path.”

Ibim Semenitari
Commissioner Of Information and Communications


Lawyer: George Zimmerman’s wife filing for divorce

  • Shellie Zimmerman, wife of George Zimmerman, pleads guilty at the Seminole County Courthouse in Sanford, Fla. on Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013. Shellie Zimmerman pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor perjury charge for lying during a bail hearing after her husband's arrest, and she was sentenced to a year's probation and 100 hours of community service. (AP Photo/Orlando Sentinel, Gary W. Green, Pool)ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — George Zimmerman’s wife filed for divorce Thursday, less than two months after her husband was acquitted of murdering Trayvon Martin and a week after she pleaded guilty to perjury in his case.

Shellie Zimmerman made the decision because of “disappointment,” her attorney, Kelly Sims, wrote Thursday in a short email to The Associated Press. The 26-year-old Zimmerman told ABC’s “Good Morning America” last week that she was having serious doubts about remaining married.

The interview came just after she pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor perjury charge for lying during a bail hearing following her husband’s arrest for the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in February 2012. Her husband, who was acquitted on second-degree murder and other charges in July, wasn’t in the Sanford, Fla., courtroom as she was sentenced to a year’s probation and 100 hours of community service — even though she supported him and lied about their finances.

ABC first reported the divorce filing. Email messages and phone calls to Zimmerman’s attorney, Mark O’Mara, were not immediately returned.

Zimmerman’s brother, Robert Zimmerman, wrote on Twitter: “Pray 4 them.”

George Zimmerman said he acted in self-defense when he killed Martin and the polarizing case opened up national discussions on self-defense laws and race. Martin was black. Zimmerman has a white father and Hispanic mother.

Shellie Zimmerman’s felony perjury charge came after she lied about the couple’s assets when her husband was trying to be released on a lower bond. If convicted, she had faced up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Court records show that in the days before the bond hearing in June 2012, Shellie Zimmerman transferred $74,000 — broken into eight smaller transfers ranging from $7,500 to $9,990 — from her husband’s credit union account to hers. It also shows that $47,000 was transferred from George Zimmerman’s account to his sister’s in the days before the bond hearing. Amounts of over $10,000 would have been reported to the Internal Revenue Service.

Four days after he was released on bond, Shellie Zimmerman transferred more than $85,500 from her account into her husband’s, records show. They also show that the jail recorded George Zimmerman instructing her on a call to “pay off all the bills,” including an American Express and Sam’s Club card.

Most of the money had come from donations to a website that had been set up to pay for George Zimmerman’s defense.

Despite the large transfers, at the bail hearing, Shellie Zimmerman testified that the couple, who married in 2007 and had no children, had limited funds because she was a full-time student and her husband wasn’t working. Prosecutors say they actually had then already raised $135,000 in donations from the website.

Shellie Zimmerman admitted to ABC that she did not tell the truth during the bail hearing.

“I can rationalize a lot of reasons for why I was misleading, but the truth is that I knew I was lying,” she said.

She said she plans to do her community service with a Christian ministry.

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George Zimmerman's wife, Shellie, watches her husband …

George Zimmerman’s wife, Shellie, watches her husband leave the courtroom during a recess in his tri …

“I’ve made mistakes and I want to own them right now,” Shellie Zimmerman said.

During her appearance on “Good Morning America” following her husband’s acquittal, Zimmerman refused to say if she and her husband were still together.

She added that she “wants to have children and stay married.”

“With George?” the interviewer asked.

“That’s something I’m going to have to think about,” Shellie Zimmerman replied.

Earlier this week, her 29-year-old husband was ticketed for speeding in Lake Mary, Fla. Police say he was going 60 mph in a 45 mph zone.

In the ABC interview, she also revealed she wasn’t at their home the night of Martin’s shooting in their gated community outside Orlando because she’d had a fight with her husband.

“I was staying at my father’s house,” she said. “We had gotten into an argument the night before and I left.”

Shellie Zimmerman says that while she believes her husband’s version of the events leading to the shooting, “I can’t tell you how many nights I’ve gone or laid awake at night just thinking that I wish to God the circumstances had been different.”

She says the couple lived in hiding while awaiting his trial.

“We have pretty much lived like gypsies for the past year and a half. We’ve lived in a 20-foot trailer in the woods, scared every night that someone would go and find us and that it would be horrific,” she said.

She also told ABC she is deeply sorry for the Martin family’s loss. “I can’t even begin to understand the grief a parent experiences when they lose a child,” she said.

World leaders pressure Obama over Syria at G20 summit

  • G20 SummitPresident of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, (R) and President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping meet at the G20 summit on September 5, 2013 in St. Petersburg, Russia. 
ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama faced growing pressure from Russia’s Vladimir Putin and other world leaders on Thursday to decide against launching military strikes in Syria, which many of them fear would hurt the global economy and push up oil prices.

At a summit of the Group of 20 (G20) developed and developing economies in St. Petersburg, Putin greeted Obama with a thin smile and a businesslike handshake, a clear sign of the strains between them over how to respond to a chemical weapons attack in Syria.

Obama also wore a stiff smile before talks began over dinner on the world economy and then on Syria, and there was none of the arm clutching or hugs between the two presidents that is typical of such occasions.

The rift over Syria overshadowed the discussions on how to revive growth but not before splits emerged within the group over a U.S. plan to wind down an economic stimulus program. The G20 accounts for two thirds of the world’s population and 90 percent of its output.

The first round at the summit went to Putin, as China, the European Union, the BRICS emerging economies and a letter from Pope Francis all warned of the dangers of military intervention in Syria without the approval of the U.N. Security Council.

“Military action would have a negative impact on the global economy, especially on the oil price – it will cause a hike in the oil price,” Chinese Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao said.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon later told the leaders over the dinner in a tsarist-era seafront palace that any military action must have the Security Council’s backing.

“Let us remember: every day that we lose is a day when scores of innocent civilians die,” his office quoted him as saying. “There is no military solution.”

Obama blames forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for the August 21 poison gas attack in the Damascus suburbs that killed up to 1,400 people. Moscow says Obama has not proven that claim and says rebel forces may have carried it out.

In New York, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power left no doubt that Washington had given up trying to work with the U.N. Security Council over the attack.

She said there was “no viable path forward in this Security Council” and accused Russia of holding it hostage. Moscow has signaled it would veto any resolution on the use of force unless Washington produced stronger proof.

Obama has asked the U.S. Congress to approve military action and France has said it is ready to support U.S. intervention.

Showing he was undeterred by the criticism, Obama said before talks with Japan’s prime minister on the sidelines of the summit that using chemical arms was “not only a tragedy but also a violation of international law that must be addressed.”

Aides said he would set out his views at the leaders’ dinner and hoped to build support for military action, although they acknowledged a consensus might be hard to find.

Long after midnight, there was still no word from officials on how the dinner discussion had gone.

Putin was isolated on Syria at a Group of Eight meeting in June, the last big summit of world powers, but could now turn the tables on Obama, who recently likened him to a “bored kid in the back of the classroom” who slouches at meetings.

Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, portrayed the “camp of supporters of a strike on Syria” as divided, and said: “It is impossible to say that very many states support the idea of a military operation.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel saw no chance of agreement between Putin and Obama on Syria. U.S.-Russian ties have long been strained by political differences but went into free fall when Russia harbored Edward Snowden, a former spy agency contractor who leaked details of U.S. intelligence programs.

Any G20 decision on Syria would not be binding but Putin would like to see a consensus to avert military action in what would mark a significant – but unlikely – personal triumph for the Russian leader.


The G20 achieved unprecedented cooperation between developed and emerging nations to stave off economic collapse during the 2009 financial crisis, but the harmony has since waned.

Member states are at odds as the U.S. recovery gains pace, Europe lags, and developing economies worry about the impact of the Federal Reserve’s plans to stop a bond-buying program that has helped kick-start the U.S. economy.

“Our main task is returning the global economy towards steady and balanced growth. This task has unfortunately not been resolved,” Putin said. “Therefore systemic risks, the conditions for an acute crisis relapse, persist.”

The BRICS agreed to commit $100 billion to a currency reserve pool that could help defend against a balance of payments crisis, although the mechanism will take time to set up.

There is likely to be an agreement on measures to fight tax evasion by multinational companies at the summit in the spectacular, 18th-century Peterhof palace complex, built on the orders of Tsar Peter the Great.

An initiative will be presented on refining regulation of the $630-trillion global market for financial derivatives to prevent a possible blow-up.

Steps to give the so-called “shadow banking” sector until 2015 to comply with new global rules will also be discussed.