14/11/2010 09:26

Nigeria, Iran face-off over imported weapons, reported in Nigeria

Lagos, Nigeria - Developments on the 13 containers of weapons imported recently into Nigeria, labour's three-day warning strike, which lasted just one day, captured front pages in Nigeria this past week. The Guardian on Saturday headlined its story 'Nigeria Takes Iran To UN Over Arms Shipment' with the rider 'Names The Gambia As Third Party.'

The paper said' 'Without reference to a possible diplomatic showdown with Iran, the Nigerian Federal Government has said that it will take whatever action it deems necessary and appropriate should the Islamic Republic of Iran be found culpable in the recent shipment of weapons to Nigeria.'

The government said security operatives were still interrogating the Iranian national who applied for a Nigerian visa in Teheran on 14 July, 2010, (and has been linked with the Nigerian consignee of the arms disguised as building material).

The suspect, Mr. Azimi Adajani, is taking refuge at the Iranian embassy in Abuja and cannot be arrested under the Vienna Convention on diplomatic practice. But the Nigerian consignee, Abbass Usman, who still being held, also goes by other names.

Armed with these facts, Nigeria is formally reporting the incident to the United Nations in line with relevant Security Council resolutions, the Guardian reported, quoting Nigeria's Permanent Representative to the UN, Prof. Joy Ogwu.

'Iran accepts secret weapon shipment - Ajumogobia 'Nigeria may report incident to the UN', the Trust newspaper reported on Saturday.

It said Nigeria's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Odien Ajumogobia, revealed that the Iranian government had officially accepted that the secret shipment of high-caliber weapons discovered last month at the Apapa port in Lagos actually originated from Iran but claims that contrary to reports, the weapons were in transit to Gambia and not meant for Nigeria or the Gaza Strip.

The Leadership reported the same story under the headline 'Seized Arms: Iran Govt Owns Up' while the Nation ran the story under a staccato of headlines, including 'Seized arms: SSS rejects Iran's condition', '...FG: no plan to expel Iranian diplomat' and '... consignment meant for Gambia, not Nigeria, says Iran'.

The Independent said, 'Arms shipment: Iran accepts to release suspect for interrogation', reporting that the Nigerian government had finally secured the permission of the Iranian government to have Nigerian security agents interrogate the suspect behind the arms shipment intercepted at the Lagos port recently.

The Vanguard headline was 'Arms seizure: Iran behind shipment â' Security agents'.

All the newspapers reported developments from the three-day warning strike called by Labour to demand the payment of the agreed monthly minimum wage of 18,000 naira (US$ 120).

However, labour called off the strike after just one day action following a last-minute meeting between President Goodluck Jonathan and labour leaders, who eventually gave the government just three weeks to resolve the matter or face further action.

The story was told with different headlines in varying styles like 'Labour strike shuts down ministries in Abuja'; 'Strike disrupts activities nationwide'; 'NLC strike paralyzes activities in Ilorin'; 'Govt, labour officials clash'; 'Strike paralyses activities in courts'; 'Banks shut, ATMs to the rescue'; 'Pay minimum wage now, CPC tells FG'; 'Offices, banks, schools closed in P/Harcourt, Calabar, Uyo, Yenogoa'; 'Aviation unions disrupt flights'.

The Vanguard reported that the nation's fragile economy on Wednesday suffered a hitch as most of the critical sectors of the economy such as the banks, power, petroleum, ports and others were shut down in full compliance with directives of organised labour to compel the Federal Government to implement the new minimum wage.

The Guardian said, 'Labour reaches truce with govt, suspends strike.....Gives November 30 for presentation of wage bill to N'Assembly.'

The Nation newspaper reported that after emergency meetings, Labour on Wednesday suspended its three-day warning strike to press its demand for a better minimum wage. It was the first day of the action, which recorded a mixed success across the country.

The Tribune reported that the organised labour Wednesday suspended its three-day warning strike for three weeks following an undertaking by President Jonathan to immediately place the Minimum Wage Bill before the National Assembly for legislative process after the National Council of State meets on it on 25 November and ensure that the bill is given an accelerated hearing.

The Trust said the government got three weeks' respite, adding that the Chairman of the Joint Strike Committee of both labour unions, Promise Adewusi, after a meeting of their leaders in Abuja, said President Jonathan had at a meeting they had on Tuesday night promised speedy implementation of the new national minimum wage as soon as it is passed by the National Assembly.



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