Alleged witchcraft: Son, 35, stabs mum to death in Akwa Ibom

Written by Udeme Utip, 

A 65-year-old woman, Madam Atim  Akpan, at the weekend met her death, as she was stabbed to death by her son, Mr Okon  Akpan, for alleged wizardry.

Nigerian Tribune gathered that Akpan, who hails from Ifa Ikot Okpon in Uyo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, had, in the early hours of Friday, July 27, allegedly stabbed his mother to death, accusing her of being a witch and the cause of the family’s misfortunes.

An eyewitness told the Nigerian Tribune that Akpan had on the afternoon preceding that morning, complained of stomach disorder, but later went out in the evening of same day to prepare a corpse he had embalmed for burial on Friday.

The source, who lived in the same compound; No 6, Archibong Street, in Ifa Ikot Okpon, disclosed that Akpan latter came back at about 1.00 a.m. on Friday morning and went to the mother’s room to sleep, as he was the only one staying with her and also taking care of her needs.

Akpan, the Nigerian Tribune gathered was trained in shoe making, but opted to engage in private embalmment of corpses, the trade, which family members noted had been very successful.

On how they knew that Akpan actually killed his mother, the Nigerian Tribune gathered that about 2.00 a.m., they heard Akpan crying and muttering words from the mother’s room, saying that  “I am ready to die and I’m  doing this for the sake of my elder sister. I will tell her not to cry for what has happened.”

The source also said at day break, Akpan was seen outside with blood stains all over his body and when his mother’s door was forced open, she was found lying dead in the pool of her blood, having been butchered with broken bottles, which littered the floor of the room.

Steve Ibanga’s Little Stream Farm Destroyed By Gov. Akpabio

By Franklyn Isong

Gov. Akpabio: Accused of ordering thugs to cause wanton destruction of property.

The governorship candidate of the Progressive Action Congress (PAC), in the April 26, 2011 governorship election in the state, Hon. Steve Ibanga, has accused the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Chief Godswill Akpabio, of destroying his Little Stream Farm in Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area, saying that it was part of the government’s calculated plots to get him withdraw his petition at the election petition tribunal.

The PAC guber hopeful who made this assertion yesterday, while fielding questions with Weekly Insight on the issue in a telephone. He accused Governor Akpabio of doing the same thing in 2007 to frustrate Chief James Iniema who contested that year’s governorship election against him (governor) on the platform of the Action Congress (AC) and later challenged the outcome of the election at the tribunal.

The former aide to ex-governor Victor Attah who has filed a petition at the State Governorship/Legislative Petition Tribunal, challenging the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for “unlawfully” excluding his political party’s logo on the governorship ballot paper used in the April 26 election in the state, said that he has petitioned the relevant security agents in the country on the matter, noting that, it would not deter him from pursuing his petition at the tribunal to its logical conclusion.

He lamented that properties looted and destroyed in the farm by the state government agents were worth several millions of naira.

Asked whether his petition at the tribunal could be responsible for vandalizing his farm, Mr. Ibanga argued that he had no personal grouse with the state governor, noting that his petition at the tribunal had nothing to do with the state governor as he (governor) was not INEC that conducted the April governorship polls.

He maintained that he was asking INEC to explain to the tribunal whether it had the powers to exclude his party from contesting the April 26 elections in the state, saying that his position was simple and straight.

He said that despite several entreaties made to him by the government and its agents, that he remained resolute in his case at the tribunal, saying that no amount of intimidation can stop him from seeking for justice in the matter.

Mr. Ibanga denied being a surrogate to anybody as being speculated, saying that his ambition was a divine one from God and that he would seek the ambition to the supreme court level before his spirit can be at rest. He assured his supporters to remain calm, peaceful and law-abiding even at the height of injustice meted out to them by INEC.

He assured his supporters and the people of the state that no amount of money offered him by the government and its agents was enough for him to betray their confidence, thanking them for the goodwill they gave to him during and after the election.

Obama’s Mother is also African!

Surprising link found in Obama’s family tree

(CBS News) WASHINGTON — It’s no secret that President Obama comes from a very diverse background.

Now, there’s new information about his ancestors.

The surprising connection goes all the way back to the earliest days of colonial America.

It’s already been learned that Mr. Obama is related, however distantly, to people as diverse as Warren Buffett, Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh and George W. Bush.

Now, researchers at Ancestry.com have discovered a startling new connection in his mother’sfamily tree.

The president’s diverse roots are widely known to range from Kenya to Kansas, but researchers have found a new link.

“President Obama is the 11th great-grandson of John Punch, who was the first documented African to be enslaved for life in the American colonies,” says Joseph Shumway, a genealogist at Ancestry.com.

He says the president’s white mother is a direct descendant of the first known slave in the American colonies through a family by the name of Bunch.

“We found that, through DNA testing done by members of the Bunch family, that their direct ancestors are of sub-Saharan African origin. … Eventually, we were able to make a connection with the earliest Bunch family members and a gentleman by the name of John Punch,” Shumway notes.

In 1640, John Punch, an African, was a servant in Virginia who escaped, was caught and sentenced to remain in bondage to his master for life.

As for the difference in the names – Punch with a “P” as opposed to Bunch with a “B” – researchers say that’s not unusual, that early record-keepers wrote names as they sounded.

Though records are incomplete, the Ancestry.com genealogists say the slave John Punch is the only likely person to have been the father of John Bunch, sometime before 1637.

John Bunch’s mother was white, and so was his wife, which means President Obama descends from the first known black and white couple who left traceable descendants.

“We’re extremely confident in the conclusion that we’ve reached,” Shumway says, adding that, “At the time, in the early 1600s, the racial attitudes in colonial Virginia were quite a bite different than they later came to be. … (Inter)-racial marriage wasn’t as looked down upon until about the 1660s and on upwards. (Only) into the early 1700s did laws (come into being) to prevent that from happening.

” … The bunch family over the generations continued to intermarry with white people and just became white for all intents and purposes.”

The first John Bunch in Ancestry.com’s Obama family tree is the first in a seven-generation line of Bunches, originally in Virginia, moving to Tennessee, Arkansas and finally to Kansas, where President Obama’s great-grandmother, Leona McCurry, his grandmother, Madelyn Payne, and his mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, were born.

Race is a subject the president has dealt with all his life, and never more urgently than when he broke with his former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, in 2008 over Wright’s divisive racial views.

In a critical speech while running for president in March 2008, Mr. Obama declared, “I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. … The issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we’ve never really worked through.”

David Maraniss, author of a new Obama biography, did extensive research into the Obama family for his book, “Barack Obama: The Story.”

“At that point, it included Luo, the tribal clan of the Obamas, and English and Welsh and Irish and Scottish and German from the white side of his family. And now we’re discovering something more!”

Maraniss, who traveled to Kenya and Indonesia in search of the influences that shaped Barack Obama, says the president’s diverse roots make him hard to categorize.

“Because of the color of his skin and his father’s background, he was African-American,” Maraniss points out. “But culturally, he was not. He had to learn it. … He’s never been easy to pigeonhole. That’s part of the attraction and mystery of Barack Obama.”

The Ancestry.com team did two years of research to puzzle this out and looked through thousands of pages of colonial records. The researchers got the DNA from the Bunch family and, even without the documented connection to John Punch, they say they’re very certain of their finding about the president’s slave ancestor on mother’s side.

AKHA Members’ American Trip Comes Under Fire!

By  Weekly Insight Newspapers

Elder Samuel Ikon-Leader Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly

The planned trip by the members of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly to the United States of America has come under intense criticism and attack. An association of Ibibio people in the Diaspora under the aegis, Ibibio Peoples Union has sent a strongly worded protest letter to the American authorities, requesting them not to issue visas to the house members because the trip was wasteful and a ploy to launder the people’s money.
In a letter sent to the United States Secretary of State and the American Embassy in Nigeria, and signed by the leader of the group, Mr. Thompson Essien, the organization said it was guided by their concern for good governance, the dart of which has triggered off unrest in the country, including the Boko Haram menace. The IPU said it was wrong for the lawmakers to embark on such trip at a time the state civil servants were being owed salaries for three months.
“Whether it is the jihadist Boko Haram in the north or the kidnapping in the south, the underlying cause is the poverty of the populace engendered by the misuse of public funds. We bring to your notice and action a proposed waste of public funds in a state where the state employees have not been paid in three months. You can and we request your help to stop this”, the letter made available to Weekly Insight, said.

“We have been reliably informed that the entire members of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly (AKSHOA) together with the Executive branch are headed to Houston, Texas, to deliberate on how to site industries in the 31 local government areas in the state. This was a campaign promise in 2007. Last year a contingency of about 60 people also came to Houston purportedly to seek investors. One year later, not a single investor has shown any interest in the state and the government wants to repeat the wastage of public funds.
Madam Secretary, is it not absurd that after 5 years in office (enough time to have fulfilled this campaign promise), instead of visiting each local government area to determine what raw materials exist there and consequently what type of industry is viable there this wasteful government would travel 7000 miles to a foreign country to make this decision in a foreign hotel? It has been reported that some Nigerian officials received estacodes of up to US$1,000.00 per day when they travel out of Nigeria. Compare this to the minimum wage, which is US$112.50 per month. Last year these people spent at least two weeks here in the USA. This year they plan to have a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the creation Akwa Ibom State in Houston instead of Akwa Ibom. After which another week is slated for learning how to govern. Then it is off to Europe to repeat the same events.

“From a conservative standpoint, a minimum of 30 days will be spent out of the state accruing $1000.00 per day for each attendee. You can imagine the total cost of this enterprise to a state where civil servants are owed salaries of the past three months. While we appreciate the boost to the local economy here, we must point out that robbing Peter to pay Paul does not augur well for the American companies trying to conduct lawful business in Akwa Ibom, where Peter resides”, the document further stated.

The Rt. Hon. (Elder) Samuel Ikon, Speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, is billed to lead a team of twenty-six honorable members of the Akwa Ibom State legislature to Houston, Texas. While in Houston, the legislators will participate in the Akwa Ibom State Economic Summit and Investment Expo 2012 that would commence early August 2012. The members would follow up the summit with a week-long Legislators’ Workshop on effective governance.

Letter of Request to Deny Visas to Akwa Ibom State Members of House of Assembly

Godswill O Akpabio – Akwa Ibom State Governor

Elder Samuel Ikon-Leader Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly

Within the past several days, Akwa Ibom people have been crying about the decision by Godswill Akpabio to launder the people’s money under the pretense of sending the entire members of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly for a meeting in Houston.

This is to inform you that Ibibio People’s Union sent a letter to the US Secretary of State, a copy was also sent to US Embassy in Nigeria, requesting her to deny or cancel the visas that were already issued by the United States Government to members of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly for this purpose.

We could have notified you of our efforts earlier than now, but we were waiting to make sure that the Office of the Secretary of State and the American Embassy in Nigeria are in receipt of the letter. Below is a copy of the letter. Enjoy.

Ikpafak Thompson Essien
Portland, Oregon

IPU/Presidency/Letters/2012-X

July 16, 2012

The Secretary of State of the United States of America
U. S. State Department
Washington DC

Re. Request for Denial of United States Visas to Members of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly (AKSHOA)
Madam Secretary:

We extend to you the greetings and well wishes of the great people of Akwa Ibom State in Niger Delta of Southern Nigeria. We have followed and admire the indomitable spirit and zeal that you have exhibited in your present position as Secretary of State, fighting to bring peace, democracy and good governance to all countries.

We are writing on behalf of Ibibio Peoples Union (IPU): http://ibibiopeoplesunion.com/about-ibibio-peoples-union/who-we-are.php/) a non-profit, non-political organization of Nigerian- Americans promoting good governance for Nigeria.

We have noted that the current situation in Akwa Ibom State is of such concern to the USA that the USA has issued an advisory to her citizens against visiting the State. IPU shares your concern and is determined to get to the root of the problem so that the state might return to its erstwhile most peaceful place in Nigeria.

Madam Secretary, we are constrained to bring to your attention that a root cause of the unrest all over Nigeria is poor governance, looting of public funds and a lack of justice. Whether it is the jihadist Boko Haram in the north or the kidnapping in the south, the underlying cause is the poverty of the populace engendered by the misuse of public funds. We bring to your notice and action a proposed waste of public funds in a state where the state employees have not been paid in three months. You can and we request your help to stop this.

We have been reliably informed that the entire members of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly (AKSHOA) together with the Executive branch are headed to Houston, Texas, to deliberate on how to site industries in the 31 local government areas in the state. This was a campaign promise in 2007. Last year a contingency of about 60 people also came to Houston purportedly to seek investors. One year later, not a single investor has shown any interest in the state and the government wants to repeat the wastage of public funds.

Madam Secretary, is it not absurd that after 5 years in office (enough time to have fulfilled this campaign promise), instead of visiting each local government area to determine what raw materials exist there and consequently what type of industry is viable there this wasteful government would travel 7000 miles to a foreign country to make this decision in a foreign hotel? It has been reported that some Nigerian officials received estacodes of up to US$1,000.00 per day when they travel out of Nigeria. Compare this to the minimum wage, which is US$112.50 per month. Last year these people spent at least two weeks here in the USA. This year they plan to have a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the creation Akwa Ibom State in Houston instead of Akwa Ibom. After which another week is slated for learning how to govern. Then it is off to Europe to repeat the same events.

From a conservative standpoint, a minimum of 30 days will be spent out of the state accruing $1000.00 per day for each attendee. You can imagine the total cost of this enterprise to a state where civil servants are owed salaries of the past three months. While we appreciate the boost to the local economy here, we must point out that robbing Peter to pay Paul does not augur well for the American companies trying to conduct lawful business in Akwa Ibom, where Peter resides.

It is also well known that many of these House of Assembly, or HOA, members have surrogates here in the USA who have purchased real estate in the USA for them that their annual salaries cannot support such purchase. It is plausible that this trip is a cover for money laundering, legal looting (aka legislooting) and squandering of public funds. It should interest Madam Secretary to note that this HOA has not passed a single bill that was aimed at benefiting the people of the state. Instead they are notorious for being the only state in the country (with goading by the governor) to hurriedly pass Decree #2 (http://www.thenigerianvoice.com/nvnews/50758/1/akwa-ibom-state-decree-no-2.html) aimed at silencing all opposition. We are constrained to request that you cancel any visas that may have been issued to these people and to deny others from the government that may apply. The exorbitant expense of this jamboree would be better used to pay the salaries of state workers. We make our request in an effort to assist you to achieve your goal of seeing the entrenchment and growth of democracy in all corners of this world.

We thank you for your indulgence and acquiescence to our request.

Sincerely,
Ikpafak Thompson Essien
For and on behalf of Ibibio People’s Union (IPU)

Attachments:

(1) All states going bankrupt, owe N2.4trn
By: ADETUTU FOLASADE-KOYI, Abuja
Friday, July 13, 2012
*Senate seeks review of revenue formula
…Laments cost of governance
Unless the Federal Government acts fast to curb the appetite for foreign debts, all the 36 state governments may go bankrupt, the Senate warned yesterday. This was the verdict of the upper chamber of the National Assembly when it received the report of its Joint Committees on National Planning, Economic Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Finance, Appropriation and States and Local Government Administration, presented by the Chairman, Senator Barnabas Gemade.
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Senate said all the states depend on federal allocations and foreign loans, a development which it said, is anti-development.
The Upper House also canvassed a review of the extant Revenue Formula Act which was enacted by the Babangida military regime in 1992.
Senate is also pushing for a new revenue formula that would favour states and local governments, with periodic reviews henceforth.

The states owed a hefty N2,390,900,305,399.84 as at last December.
A breakdown given by the joint committee showed that total foreign and other loan deductions from January 2009 to December 2011 stood at N266,892,065,000.06 while gross statutory allocations during the same period was N2, 657, 792, 370, 399.90.
Gemade listed the Federal Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) files from 2009-2011 as its source with a further note: “The above table is only in respect to foreign debts and other loans directly tied to the Federation Account so, it does not include other exposures to commercial banks and the capital market which are substantial.”
On the demand for a review of the revenue formula, Senate noted that previous attempts made by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) particularly in 2002 and 2004, the system of revenue allocation has remained that of 1992 with only a slight modification.
“Since the approval of the existing revenue formula in 1992, there had been changes in the political structure of the country. Six additional states were created in the country in 1996 and are yet to be taken into consideration.
“Similarly, when the same revenue allocation formula was approved, the local government councils were only 589, with the additional 185 councils created in 1997, the number increased to 774. This, too, has not been taken into consideration by the existing revenue allocation formula.
“The existing revenue allocation formula does not include the new principles to be used in revenue sharing among states and local government which were clearly spelt out in the 1999 Constitution and that the increased constitutional responsibilities as encapsulated in section 313 of the Constitution and New National Minimum Wage as well as recent increases in salaries and wages of political office holders and the judiciary were not envisaged by the existing sharing formula.”
To forestall states going totally bankrupt, Senate is considering new laws that would limit exposure of the state governments to just 20 percent of their federal allocations.
“The legislature should consider appropriate legislations limiting the total exposure of states to external and domestic borrowings to not more than 20 per cent of their allocations from the Federation Account. Such borrowing should be for economic projects only and when it is absolutely necessary. Further, there should be strict compliance to the relevant provisions of the Borrowing by Public Bodies Act (CAP. B10,LFN,2004);
“Application of the 13 per cent derivation principle be properly implemented, considering the Supreme Court judgment in suit SC28/2001 on April 5, 2002.”
Besides, Senate urged government to ensure that future proceeds from the Excess Crude Account are geared towards projects that would impact on the economy.
“Stabilisation Funds and allocations from the Excess Crude Account to states should be targeted at economic projects that have direct impact on the people.” The Gemade report specifically slammed governors for grossly misappropriating and misapplying public funds.
“There is high rate of corruption and corrupt practices through misappropriation and misapplication of public funds, abuse of immunity clause by some state governors and the incapacitation of the various anti-graft agencies through political subterfuges.”
Senate further said that viability should be one of the major considerations for states creation in the future. “There is a fundamental issue of non-viability of the 36-state structure. The fragmentation of the original three-region structure at independence to one of the four regions, 12 states, then 19 and now, 36 states, with the multiplication of governors, state Houses of Assembly, ministries, commissioners, secretariats.
“Most of the revenue accruing to the states and their LGAs end up being misappropriated as states fail to remit the LGAs share since they control the joint state/LGA account,” the report said.

(2) 31 FACTORIES FOR 31 AKS LOCAL GOVT. AREAS…. JOIN THE INDUSTRIALIZATION PLAN AND GET DETAILS

By Dr. Moses Udoh and Dr. Ndem U. Ndem

We specially invites all Akwa Ibom professionals and business executives resident in the USA, Canada to Houston, Texas (August 3-4, 2011) and Europe (October 12-13, 2012) for the Akwa Ibom State Economic and Investment Expo 2012. During the events, Akwa Ibom citizens in the Diaspora will celebrate the State’s Silver Jubilee (25 years anniversary) and we want you to join us and our visiting government officials for the celebration.

The Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom State, His Excellency Chief Godswill Akpabio, CON, will be the Distinguished Keynote Speaker. He will be accompanied to the event by a strong delegation of top federal and state government officials, members of the Nigerian diplomatic corps, the global press as well as business and social leaders.

As there will be opportunities for you to interact with top level government officials in order to present and discuss your investment interests, we strongly encourage your attendance and look forward to seeing you at the summit, knowing fully well that your attendance and participation will be invaluable and most memorable. There are spaces available for participating industrialists, investors or companies to exhibit their products and services. If you are interested, please send your request to exhibitor@akwaibomdiaspora.net.

The WESTIN HOUSTON MEMORIAL CITY
945 Gessner Road, Houston, TX 77024
Tel: 281 501-4300
Click Here To Reserve
Group Rate: $92.00
Cut off date for discounted rate is July 15, 2012. Regular rate is $240/night.

Please, share this important information with your professional colleagues and friends. The event will offer excellent opportunities for social and business networking and to celebrate Akwa Ibom State with the Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom State, His Excellency Chief (Dr.) Godswill Akpabio and key political, business and social leaders from Nigeria.

If you want to participate/register as a potential investor or to make a presentation during the event, please contact the undersigned:
Dr. Moses Udoh
Chair, Economic Summit Committee moses_udoh@yahoo.com (803) 608 8452
Dr. Ndem U. Ndem
Co-Chair, Economic Summit Committee ndemundem@aol.com (706) 464 1164

(3) [NIgerianWorldForum] Re: ||NaijaObserver|| All AKS Legislators to visit Houston for Legislators Workshop and Akwa Ibom State Economic Summit/Investment Expo 2012

Ref: AIDN/S/2012/032

July 13, 2012

PRESS RELEASE

ALL MEMBERS OF THE AKWA IBOM STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY TO PARTICIPATE IN
THE AKWA IBOM STATE ECONOMIC SUMMIT/INVESTMENT EXPO 2012 AND LEGISLATORS’ WORKSHOP
IN HOUSTON, TEXAS

Rt. Hon. (Elder) Samuel Ikon
Speaker, Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly

The Rt. Hon. (Elder) Samuel Ikon, Speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, will lead a team of twenty-six honorable members of the Akwa Ibom State legislature to Houston, Texas.

While in Houston, starting early August 2012, the legislators will participate in the Akwa Ibom State Economic Summit and Investment Expo 2012 followed by a week long Legislators’ Workshop on effective governance.

AIDN warmly welcomes the State legislators, proudly noting that the fifth session of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly has registered already as one the most prolific sessions ever in the history of Akwa Ibom State.

While we are honored to have all members of the State legislature participate in the Akwa Ibom State Economic Summit and Investment Expo 2012, we also acknowledge their outstanding and creditable contributions towards the establishment of the Akwa Ibom Investment Corporation, the Public-Private Partnership Council and Bureau of Public Partnership.

We wish the honorable legislators and all attendees the most valuable and rewarding week in Houston, Texas.

Signed:

Barr. Uduak Ukpeh, Secretary General

Re-China pledges $20bn credit for Africa at summit

I found the story below very interesting. Today China is basically taking over the continent of Africa. The story below says that China will extend credit (loans with interest to be paid back) in the amount of $20 billion to the continent over the next 3 years. This comes out to be about $6.6 billion a year to the whole continent.
Food for thought: World Bank records indicate that Nigerians in the diaspora remit anywhere from $15 billion to $17 billion every year to Nigeria – free money that will not be paid back, but will stay in the country. In the meantime, can we determine any discernible impact of such huge sums of money each year? This is largely because these remitted monies are not targeted at specific investments in infrastructure, agriculture, education, industries, small business development and the like. It appears the Nigerian governments (federal and states) seem incapable or even unwilling to purposefully engage its citizens abroad as a veritable source/partner in national development. Meanwhile, they are so happy to troop to China, line up embarrassingly in front of the Chinese president for $6 billion to the whole continent and are used for photo-ops to demonstrate Chinese benevolence and “positive” partnership with the continent. And then we have the case of the entire government of a state, executive and legislative, trooping all the way to Texas to solicit for foreign investments. How about clean up your act? Run a functional democracy with unbridled transparency, transparent honesty, uninhibited accountability, rule of law, respect for human rights and unabridged citizens’ rights to participate in governance and you see the trust factor going all the way up, inducing the kind of needed partnership between home government and its citizens abroad, enough to drive unlimited investments and endless capital and skills flow to transform the place in no time. Just food for thought.
 
Ufot Inyang
Albany, GA 

Re-China pledges $20bn credit for Africa at summit

I found the story below very interesting. Today China is basically taking over the continent of Africa. The story below says that China will extend credit (loans with interest to be paid back) in the amount of $20 billion to the continent over the next 3 years. This comes out to be about $6.6 billion a year to the whole continent.
Food for thought: World Bank records indicate that Nigerians in the diaspora remit anywhere from $15 billion to $17 billion every year to Nigeria – free money that will not be paid back, but will stay in the country. In the meantime, can we determine any discernible impact of such huge sums of money each year? This is largely because these remitted monies are not targeted at specific investments in infrastructure, agriculture, education, industries, small business development and the like. It appears the Nigerian governments (federal and states) seem incapable or even unwilling to purposefully engage its citizens abroad as a veritable source/partner in national development. Meanwhile, they are so happy to troop to China, line up embarrassingly in front of the Chinese president for $6 billion to the whole continent and are used for photo-ops to demonstrate Chinese benevolence and “positive” partnership with the continent. And then we have the case of the entire government of a state, executive and legislative, trooping all the way to Texas to solicit for foreign investments. How about clean up your act? Run a functional democracy with unbridled transparency, transparent honesty, uninhibited accountability, rule of law, respect for human rights and unabridged citizens’ rights to participate in governance and you see the trust factor going all the way up, inducing the kind of needed partnership between home government and its citizens abroad, enough to drive unlimited investments and endless capital and skills flow to transform the place in no time. Just food for thought.
 
Ufot Inyang
Albany, GA 

The Many Reasons Gov. Godswill Akpabio Should Be Incarcerated.

Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan

 A few days ago, Steven Nelson writing from London, I suppose, reaffirmed one of my earlier writings about the Diasporans who purchase bigger shovels to dig bigger pit toilets in Akwa Ibom even in this era of electronic toilets. This is an analogy. While I am not going to waste my time responding to his, I want to share below my write-up…, sent to Nigerian president on Gov. Akpabio. In a normal society, Gov. Akpabio would be in prison.  Whether in office or out of office, that prospect is still very good. Anyone that doubts this should contact convict, Gov. James Ibori whose criminal activities never came close to that of Gov. Akpabio. To have the likes of Steven Nelson who supposedly live in one of the magmas of democracy come out to the street dancing naked is shameful. I wonder if he had ever heard of the name Adolf Hitler who reigned supreme through 1945 in Germany. Like Akpabio, Hitler also built roads, bridges, flyer-overs, how about autobahn (first in the world)? And there again,Akpabio fools the indigenes with what he calls E-Library (first in the world) – a building with, may be, a handful of books at a price tag huge enough to give every Akwa Ibom child free education through university! Only in Nigeria would criminals rule with reckless abandon!!!

Akpabio: accused of tyranny and human right violation.

See below the many reasons Gov. Akpabio should be incarcerated.
 
His Excellency Goodluck Jonathan       
President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
State House, Aso Rock
Abuja, Nigeria
November 16, 2011
 
    TYRANNY AND THE BREEDING OF TERRORISM IN AKWA IBOM  STATE, NIGERIA
 
Dear Mr. President:
 
On several occasions in the last few years, I have stressed repeatedly the fact that Nigeria is not practicing a true democracy. The only difference from military government is that the players involved in the current charade are mostly civilians with no military uniforms. Prime example of this is Akwa Ibom State which is one of the premier oil producing states in the Niger Delta area of Nigeria. It is an established fact that until May 2007 when Gov. Godswill Akpabio became the governor, Akwa Ibom was known as the most peaceful state in Nigeria. No sooner did Akpabio assume power than the state became the killing field, rife with kidnappings and assassinations. This is why tyranny with kleptocracy is the most appropriate description of what is going on in Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria presently.
This write-up becomes necessary following the recent revelation that the government of Akwa Ibom State and her paid agents in and outside Nigeria have now branded me and other innocent Akwa Ibomites residing in United States as terrorists. Led by the evil government, effort is also being intensified to shut down Ibom forum and Ibibionation forum, the two main email groups where Akwa Ibomites around the world are not afraid to voice their concerns on the corrupt and repressive nature of GodswillAkpabio. This write-up, takes a snap-shot of the tyrannical government of Gov. Akpabio to show why this writer believes he is neither fit nor deserve to be the governor of Akwa Ibom State.
To make sure he had no opposition for his second term bid and that no one dares to ask him of accountability, Gov. Akpabiofrom the outset devised schemes, from outright bribery, unprecedented election rigging to all kinds of illegality, much like in the days of Gen. Abacha, a military tyrant who wanted to succeed himself. As a result, Akpabio’s political opponents or those perceived to be a threat were either kidnapped, assassinated, or are now living in exile.
The following is just a tiny fraction of the ordeal Akwa Ibomites are facing since Gov. Akpabio assumed power in May 2007. Attached is, by no means exhaustive, a list of those kidnapped, assassinated or jailed during this reign of terror.
 
1)      Repressive Regime:
 
a)         Essien Ewoh and Fresh Facts Newspaper
 
No sooner did Gov. Akpabio assume the mantle of leadership in Akwa Ibom in May 2007 than he stepped on oppressive and repressive buttons. Barely one month in office, he ordered the arrest of a newspaper vendor, Mr. Essien Ewoh who was thrown into prison for distributing Fresh Facts newspaper that published a story critical of the governor.
 
The wave of arrests and sedition charges against the media in Akwa Ibom were reported in drove internationally per CPJ – New York publications of June 27, 2007. These were some of the citations by CPJ: “Newspaper Copies Seized in Southern Akwa Ibom State”, on October 17, 2007 “Nigerian Publisher Charged With Sedition Over Story Critical of Governor”; and on January 25, 2008, “Nigerian Newspaper Distributor Arrested, Charged”.
 
The publisher of Fresh Facts newspaper, Mr. Sam Asowata was arrested in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, and “tucked into the trunk/booth of a vehicle, and driven all night to Uyo – a distance of about 500 miles. Mr. Asowata’s young daughter, who happened to have been in her father’s office at the time of the arrest, was also arrested, presumably on the orders of Gov.Akpabio as well.”
 
b)         AKPF – The Terror Network
 
From his early days in office, Gov. Akpabio began to act like someone who was possessed or a person with mental problem. Unknown to many was the fact that Gov. Akpabio before coming to office had secretly set up a group called AKPF (Akwa Ibom People Forum). Their primary goal was to kill, maim and destroy any potential opponent to the governor. All hell broke loose. Akwa Ibom became the killing field, and the kidnapping and assassination capital of Nigeria. AKPF was only disbanded following pressure by the federal government as a result of so much out-cries by the citizens. But its members continued with their terrorist activities nonetheless.
 
c)         The Man Died – Ordeal of Chief Ononokpono
 
Chief Ononokpono a sick and frail Octogenarian, had in The Nation newspaper courageously asked Gov. Akpabio some cogent questions about his administration and financial accountability. Rather than respond to those questions, Gov. Akpabioordered the arrest of Chief Ononokpono who was denied bail and “remanded in dehumanizing prison custody from March, 25, 2010 to May, 14, 2010.” Chief Ononokpono’s health condition worsened since then. On December 7, 2010, Chief Ononokpono died.
 
d)         Destruction of AMAKPE Refinery
 
True to his repressive nature, on Saturday, October 27, 2007, Gov. Akpabio shut down a foundation laying ceremony of AMAKPE refinery project at Eket. Embarrassingly, this happened after dignitaries from around the world including American Embassy, had assembled at the venue. Unmindful of the millions of dollars the principals of AMAKPE, American residents, have sunk into the project.  Gov. Akpabio blocked every effort made by the principals to raise funds by threatening the banks and potential investors. He never give a damn about some 1,000 direct and over 5,000 indirect employment the refinery would have generated in a state with over 80% unemployment.
 
e)         Sealing off CRARN at Eket
 
The Good Samaritan, Sam Itauma, who established CRARN to cater for the abused children at Eket is presently in hiding fromGov. Akpabio’s fang for his dear life.  Sam is being hunted down because he had the love and courage to cater for children accused of witchcraft and who have been brutalized, mutilated, abused, and some buried alive. Sam’s efforts  attracted worldwide attention including CNN. Gov. Akpabio prefers such atrocities not be mentioned or publicized. This is Sam’s crime for saving these children.
 
f)          Muzzling of the Citizens
 
In calling for Nigerian President’s intervention, Mr. Ime Mbatessien stated how as a result of the petitions he sent to the Chairmen of EFCC and ICPC dated September 16, 2010 cataloguing the high corruption index of the administration of Gov. Godswill Akpabio, he is being hunted like a common criminal. And to avoid being treated like late Chief Ononokpono or killed, he has resorted to sleeping from hotel to hotel in the capital city of Abuja.
 
g)         Infamous Criminal Bill: Decree 2
 
Today, we see the return of the Gestapo, perhaps an innovation in democratic dictatorship! What next? It was Gen. Abacha who passed a similar bill in 1995 in order to justify the hanging of Ken Saro-Wiwa, the Ogoni environmentalist. Gov. Akpabiohad, days before the April 2011 gubernatorial election done exactly the same to the chagrin of many around the country. With this decree, Gov. Akpabio arrogated to himself the power to detain his political enemy or opposition as long as it pleases him.
 
Prof. Itse Sagay, SAN, stated as follows: “By this monstrosity of a Decree 2 of 2011, Akpabio has joined the select group of infamous dictators like Sergeant Doe, Hastings Banda of Malawi, Mugabe, Gbagbo, Papa Doc of Haiti, the late Eyadema of Togo and a host of others who have turned their countries into horrific nightmares for their citizens and residents.”
 
2)      Kleptocracy and Financial Irresponsibility
 
Just as the late Col. Ghadaffi practiced kleptocracy in Libya so is Gov. Akpabio in Akwa Ibom State. Gov. Akpabio runs Akwa Ibom as an estate rather than a state. In a kleptocracy, “a government is subject to control fraud that takes advantage of governmental corruption to extend the personal wealth and political power of government officials and the ruling class via the embezzlement of state funds at the expense of the wider population, sometimes without even the pretense of honest service…” The term in Greek means “Rule by thieves”.
 
a)      Gov. Akpabio embarks on grandiose white elephant projects such as the Tropicana Entertainment center whose price tag more than triples a similar size project in Abuja. From the cost/benefit analysis standpoint, there is no justification for dumping over N40 billion (initial cost was put at N33 billion) into the Ibom Tropicana when nearly 90% of the population live under $2 a day. Whereas a similar project in Abuja is said to cost a mere N12 billion and his privately funded by the same contractor, Silver Bird entertainment group that is contracted by Akpabio.
 
b)      How about the N13 billion bribe Gov. Akpabio gave to members of his political party in August 2010 to ensure his re-election in April 2011? How about countless donations of vehicles to friends, cronies, pastors, judges, lawyers, etc? Many contracts are awarded with excess kickbacks. Some contracts are awarded as many times as possible such as the Akwa Ibom Airport where the original contractor, Dyncorp from United States, was kicked out and contract re-awarded at inflated amount. All these monies are taken directly from the public treasury.
 
3)      Ethnic Politics:
 
Owed to misguided belief that second term ought to be automatic, CAN opposition party’s  event in Ikot Ekpene was violently disrupted. This action was followed by a pronouncement by the Annang leaders barring non- Annang candidates from campaigning in the Ikot Ekpene Senatorial district. Any discerning leader would have stepped in with alacrity to denounce such actions knowing that ethnic issue is very volatile, much like a minefield. But Gov. Akpabio kept mum in the face of such grievous missteps.
 
The effect of that pronouncement manifested on March 22, 2011 when Akpanudoedehe, the ACN gubernatorial candidate went to Ikot Ekpene to campaign. His convoy was welcome with “…weapons, bricks, building blocks, sticks, machetes, and AK47 machine guns, etc. The protective escort of the convoy was surrounded in both ends and the stones began to rain on the cars, on the roofs and the windows, smashing cars like fallen trees. Those who tried to escape were gunned down and their heads smashed with five inches, six inches and nine inches blocks with blood and body parts strewn everywhere….”
 
This was followed by more destructive mayhem at Uyo, the state capital, where many more lives were lost. Gov. Akpabio, consequently, came up with the hasty criminal Decree 2 and trumped-up charges and arrest, after arrest, of Akpanudoedehe, the opposition candidate, without arresting those who started the mayhem at Ikot Ekpene. This action meant to deny Akpanudoedehe his fundamental human right became a hallmark of irrationality expected only from a dictatorial and kleptocraticgovernor like Akpabio.
 
4)       Insecurity: Kidnappings and Assassinations
 
Unlike Col Ghadaffi, “Gov. Akpabio never came to power through a coup d’tat, that’s an open secret. But for the two to remain in power, violence became the readily available tool used with ease. Criticize and be kidnapped! Criticize and die.”
 
Dr. Ime Umana, the ACN deputy governor candidate re-affirmed this allegation when he mentioned that: “Mike Ejiofor, then SSS Director in the State openly told Akpabio that he was behind killings and assassinations in the state….”
 
a)      On Sunday, January 31, 2010 while worshipping, a retired army officer, Gen. Edet Akpan was abducted  from a sacred House of God and stuffed into the trunk of a car.  Imagine the king of kings, the Oku Ibom Ibibio tribe being assassinated after returning from the funeral of a church pastor who was assassinated days before! Imagine countless other assassinated victims such as Madam Philomena Udonwa whose only crime was to have a son with ambition to run for the highest office in the state? The son, Engr. Udonwa only escaped with bullet wounds on May 12, 2010, a day the mother was abducted and later killed by her abductors. Imagine the state of fear and insecurity that dominates the citizens who become afraid of sleeping even in their houses, afraid of going to church, afraid of so many unknowns.
 
b)      Barrister Imo Udonwa was a former member of the State House of Assembly who was slated to be the next PDP (ruling party) chair in the State. He became an active contributor to Ibom forum group-mail and a fierce critic of Gov. Akpabio. As a lawyer, he supported his allegations against the government with certified documents.  Consequently, he was gunned down for daring to speak out against evil government.
 
c)      Chief Paul Inyang, a known member of Gov. Akpabio’s political party and was also slated to be the Chair of the ruling party in the State. It was reported that he shifted allegiance to an another governorship candidate, an opposition to Gov.Akpabio. While worshipping in the church on Sunday, June 20, 2010, he was gunned down.
 
d)      Never before in the history of Nigeria has a Paramount Ruler been assassinated. HRH, Edidem James Robert Obot, the Oku Ibom III, the Paramount ruler of Ubium Clan and the leader of the Ibibio ethnic group was assassinated in his Palace on January 30, 2011 for his “anti-establishment” stance.
e)      Until her death, Christy-Essien Igbokwe, a reknown entertainer was hounded and persecuted by Akpabio’s government. In a press statement released on June 3, 2011, shortly before her death on June 30, 2011, Christiana Ibokwe Essien wrote:
 
I have been called and informed … how Akpabio’s government has continued in the plan of eliminating members of my family through planned kidnapping and deployment of cover-staff whose assignment probably was to poison us…Governor Akpabio must have renewed (though he never ceased) this attack on my family because of my insistence that the evil that is presently in Akwa Ibom must be removed so that the respected peace that existed amongst our people returned.”
 
f)        On December 21, 2010, Miss Faith Udo, a 26-year old student was brutally murdered by one Yusuf Salihu believed to be a member of Governor Akpabio’s killer squad. As in previous cases, immediately after Salihu was arrested, he was summarily released and set free following pressure from the above.
 
g)      On July 16, 2011, Abasiema Sunday Peters, a 23-year old man was shot on both legs by the Gov. Akpabio’s wife security detail. Instead of providing medical treatment, the man was handcuffed and taken to the police station for detention. His only crime was that he did not move off the road fast enough for the governor’s wife motor convoy passing by.
 
h)      A national publication, TELL magazine No. 45 of 15th November 2010 titled it succinctly: “Reign of Terror in Akwa Ibom State”.  It described a case in August 2010: The State Vs Dr. Chris Ekong; who was framed-up, arrested, detained and eventually charged to court on phantom murder charges. It quoted Andem E. Ndem, attorney for Dr. Ekong saying, “When the matter (case) came up in court, the Attorney General (AG) did not even want the charge read to the accused Dagogo Minayo, alias Puff Daddy who admitted killing the Ekpenyong brothers in the open court. AG quickly informed the court that he had entered a nolle prosequi (stop prosecution order) in the said charge. Consequently he applied that the charge be struck out.”
 
“We recall with disgust, a similar case involving one Mr. Nathaniel Uyoh, (accused in the first kidnapping incident during administration of Governor Akpabio). Here, the AG deliberately stayed away from court on several occasions until the court was constrained to strike out the charge for want of diligent prosecution. Today the accused person is moving around freely ingovernment vehicle campaigning for the return of Governor Akpabio in 2011.”
 
Attorney Andem also states that there are a number of cases like the above involving known state sponsored killer squads walking freely in the street today because the state makes sure they mount pressure or bribe those in judicial and the police to stop prosecution.
 
i)        Prince Ikim and the Killer Squad called Peace House
 
In January 2011, Attorney U. Frank-Igwe representing Mr. Prince Akpan Ikim filed a petition with the Inspector General of Police (IGP) alerting that Ikim’s life was in danger. Prince Ikim, a former SSS officer, was a known member of Akpabio’s killer squad called Peace House. According to Atty. Frank-Igwe, Peace House is “a conglomeration of the K.K.K Cult members, armed robbers and kidnappers who get financial rewards from the Governor of Akwa-Ibom State, Dr. Godswill Obot Akpabio for a job well done…”
 
After falling out with Gov. Akpabio, Prince Ikim defected from Peace House with the inside secrets. Gov. Akpabio and Peace House members went after him and he ran into hiding in Abuja from where his lawyer petitioned the IGP. Two members of the Peace House, Uyoh Nathaniel and Godswill Friday Nkamiang also mentioned above by Lawyer Andem Ndem, were those paraded by the then commissioner of Police, Mr Mike Zuokumor at the police headquarters at Ikot Akpan Abia for kidnapping one Mr. Sassive Khali, a Lebanese Engineer with Stemco Construction Company based in Ikot Ekpene (see Weekly Insight newspaper of Wednesday 25th June Tuesday – 1st July 2008, page 12. Titled IKOT-EKPENE KIDNAP SAGA, KIDNAPPERS IN POLICE NET).
Atty. Frank-Igwe stated, “It is amazing to note with dismay that it was Mr. Don Etim, the Commissioner for Works, that facilitated the release of these celebrated kidnappers using his position in Government’. This re-confirms what Atty. Andem said in (h) above.
 
Conclusion
 
A governor is supposed to be a LEAD SERVANT of the people and should be endowed with Responsibility, Objectivity, Open-Mindedness, Flexibility, Inspiration, Respect, Connectedness, etc. On the contrary, Governor Akpabio’s governmentprides itself of lack of accountability, inefficiency, and ineffectiveness just as it is devoid of legitimacy and due process because these can never be expected in a despotic and kleptocratic government.
 
Gov. Akpabio wastes no time clamping down on his critics as cited above. He has made several attempts in the past to shut down Ibom forum and other fora, even threatening litigations against the Moderators.
 
In Nigeria, a lot of the journalists are in the payroll of the Akwa Ibom government so that they cannot report any news deemed negative by the government. No news on corruption or incident of kidnapping and assassination is ever reported by the state media and those media on government payroll.
 
Therefore, the only sources of information the indigenes of the state have access to and can express their feelings are the Ibom forum and Ibibio Nation forum which Gov. Akpabio now directs his attacks. Ironically, most members of his cabinets led by the Commissioner for Information are also members of the forum and periodically get sound advice from this forum. It is also not uncommon for Akpabio’s agents to use the forum to threaten critics of his government.
 
Ibom forum was first created in 2002 and re-established in 2003 and has continued to serve the people of Akwa Ibom well. Unfortunately, the forces of darkness would love to wish it away. A member writes recently, “His Excellency and his men are now frustrated that the Diaspora critics can neither be contained nor silenced with intimidation and arrests. His attack dogs have been unleashed with instructions to do all that has to be done to rein in those who cannot keep silence in the face of tyranny. Dissenting voices must be gagged. Opposing views must be eliminated…”
 
Finally, the terrorism experienced in Akwa Ibom today is the handiwork and a hallmark of Gov. Godswill Akpabio. He knows how and when it was introduced to Akwa Ibom State and it is only him who can turn it off.
 
Sincerely,
Dr. Tom Mbeke-Ekanem, REA
Moderator
Author, Beyond the Execution -
Understanding the Ethnic and Military Politics in Nigeria
Los Angeles, California
Tel:             (951) 640-0737      
Email: tedey@aol.com

Ghana’s President John Atta Mills dies

Ghana’s President John Atta Mills dies

Ghanaian President John Atta Mills President Atta Mills came to power in 2009

Ghana’s President John Atta Mills, who was suffering from throat cancer, has died in hospital in the capital, Accra.

A statement from his office said the 68-year-old died a few hours after being taken ill, but did not give details.

“It is with a heavy heart… that we announce the sudden and untimely death of the president of the Republic of Ghana,” the statement said.

Mr Atta Mills had ruled the West African country since 2009.

The BBC’s Sammy Darko, who is at the military hospital in Accra, says Mr Atta Mills’ voice has been degenerating in the last few months.

‘Rumours’

According to a presidential aide, the leader had complained of pains on Monday evening and died on Tuesday afternoon.

Continue reading the main story

Analysis

image of Thomas Fessy Thomas Fessy BBC West Africa correspondent

This is the first time that a president has died while in office in Ghana. In a country hailed as a solid democracy, John Atta Mills’ sudden death should not spark a political crisis but will certainly test the country’s democratic institutions. As Vice-President John Dramani Mahama steps in as interim head of state, the question people are asking in the Ghanaian capital Accra is: “Who is going to run for president with the ruling party in December?”

Mr Atta Mills had just been nominated by the National Democratic Congress to stand for a second term. But his nomination had illustrated a split within the ruling party with Nana Konadu Agyemang-Rawlings, the wife of former ruler Jerry Rawlings, who leads a faction critical of Atta Mills’ management. Mr Atta Mills’ health has always been a subject of great debate in Ghana, even before he took office in 2009. But his illness was never officially declared and Mr Atta Mills himself insisted he was doing well.

He had recently returned to Ghana after visiting the US for medical checks, the news agency says.

Vice-President John Dramani Mahama will be sworn in as president at 1800 GMT, in line with Ghana’s constitution.

Journalist Elizabeth Ohene, a former BBC editor and member of Ghana’s former government, said she had not believed the news at first, as there had been many false reports about his death.

“For the past three or four years there’s been news he’s been unwell and rumours of his death – twice – and he appeared with grim humour to say they were exaggerated, insisting he was well,” she told the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme.

Mr Atta Mills served as vice-president to former Ghanaian military ruler Jerry Rawlings between 1997 and January 2001.

He came to power after narrowly winning against a candidate from the then governing New Patriotic Party, Nana Akufo-Addo, in polls in December 2008.

His predecessor, John Kufuor, stepped down after having served the maximum permitted two four-year terms.

It was Mr Atta Mills’ third attempt to win the presidency, after defeat in 2000 and 2004 to Mr Kufuor.

Under Mr Atta Mills’ leadership, Ghana joined the ranks of the world’s large-scale oil producers. He was to run for a second term in December.

Our reporter says the NPP’s presidential candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo, has cut short his election campaign in the west of Ghana.

He is expected to express his formal condolences when he reaches the nearest town.

What are you memories of John Atta Mills? Did you ever meet him? Send us your comments and experiences using the form below.

Ghana’s President John Atta Mills dies

Ghana’s President John Atta Mills dies

Ghanaian President John Atta Mills President Atta Mills came to power in 2009

Ghana’s President John Atta Mills, who was suffering from throat cancer, has died in hospital in the capital, Accra.

A statement from his office said the 68-year-old died a few hours after being taken ill, but did not give details.

“It is with a heavy heart… that we announce the sudden and untimely death of the president of the Republic of Ghana,” the statement said.

Mr Atta Mills had ruled the West African country since 2009.

The BBC’s Sammy Darko, who is at the military hospital in Accra, says Mr Atta Mills’ voice has been degenerating in the last few months.

‘Rumours’

According to a presidential aide, the leader had complained of pains on Monday evening and died on Tuesday afternoon.

Continue reading the main story

Analysis

image of Thomas Fessy Thomas Fessy BBC West Africa correspondent

This is the first time that a president has died while in office in Ghana. In a country hailed as a solid democracy, John Atta Mills’ sudden death should not spark a political crisis but will certainly test the country’s democratic institutions. As Vice-President John Dramani Mahama steps in as interim head of state, the question people are asking in the Ghanaian capital Accra is: “Who is going to run for president with the ruling party in December?”

Mr Atta Mills had just been nominated by the National Democratic Congress to stand for a second term. But his nomination had illustrated a split within the ruling party with Nana Konadu Agyemang-Rawlings, the wife of former ruler Jerry Rawlings, who leads a faction critical of Atta Mills’ management. Mr Atta Mills’ health has always been a subject of great debate in Ghana, even before he took office in 2009. But his illness was never officially declared and Mr Atta Mills himself insisted he was doing well.

He had recently returned to Ghana after visiting the US for medical checks, the news agency says.

Vice-President John Dramani Mahama will be sworn in as president at 1800 GMT, in line with Ghana’s constitution.

Journalist Elizabeth Ohene, a former BBC editor and member of Ghana’s former government, said she had not believed the news at first, as there had been many false reports about his death.

“For the past three or four years there’s been news he’s been unwell and rumours of his death – twice – and he appeared with grim humour to say they were exaggerated, insisting he was well,” she told the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme.

Mr Atta Mills served as vice-president to former Ghanaian military ruler Jerry Rawlings between 1997 and January 2001.

He came to power after narrowly winning against a candidate from the then governing New Patriotic Party, Nana Akufo-Addo, in polls in December 2008.

His predecessor, John Kufuor, stepped down after having served the maximum permitted two four-year terms.

It was Mr Atta Mills’ third attempt to win the presidency, after defeat in 2000 and 2004 to Mr Kufuor.

Under Mr Atta Mills’ leadership, Ghana joined the ranks of the world’s large-scale oil producers. He was to run for a second term in December.

Our reporter says the NPP’s presidential candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo, has cut short his election campaign in the west of Ghana.

He is expected to express his formal condolences when he reaches the nearest town.

What are you memories of John Atta Mills? Did you ever meet him? Send us your comments and experiences using the form below.