Guardian Newspapers Limited appoints new editors

THE management of Guardian Newspapers Limited has announced the appointment of new editors for its titles.

In the new appointments approved by the Chairman and Publisher, Lady Maiden Alex-Ibru, last week, and effective from February 1, 2013, Mr. Abraham Ogbodo was named Editor of The Guardian on Sunday. He replaces Mr. Jahman Oladejo Anikulapo who voluntarily retired from the company early this year after 10 years as editor of the Sunday newspaper.

Former Chief Sub-Editor and News Editor, Mr. Julius Omokioja Eto, was named Deputy Editor of The Guardian daily. He replaces Mr. Jewell Dafinone who assumes a new position as General Editor of the newspapers. Mr. Alabi Williams, until now Assistant Political Editor, has been named Deputy Editor of The Guardian on Sunday while Mr. Taiwo Akerele, former Night Editor of The Guardian, is the new Deputy Editor, Saturday.

In the new deal, Mr. Ehichioya Ezomon is the Group Political Editor. He was until last week Acting Editor, The Guardian on Sunday. Mr. John-Abba Ogbodo of the Abuja Bureau who was promoted as Assistant Political Editor died last Thursday in a car crash.

Mr. Paul Onomuakpokpo, a former Senior Sub-Editor, is the Chief Sub-Editor while Mr. Emmanuel Nwagboniwe, also a former Senior Sub-Editor, is Deputy Chief Sub-Editor.

The newly-appointed News Editor of The Guardian is Mr. Nnamdi Inyama, who was hitherto the Assistant Metro Editor. Mr. Felix Kuye, a Senior Sub-Editor, will also be his deputy.

Former Assistant Features Editor, Nike Sotade, is the new Metro Editor.

Mr. Madu Onuorah, former Deputy Bureau Chief and a very resourceful Defence and State House Correspondent is Abuja Bureau Chief. Mr. Onuorah replaces Mr. Martins Oloja who was appointed Editor, The Guardian, in October last year when the restructuring began. Mohammed Abubakar, Senior Political and Education Correspondent, is Abuja Deputy Bureau Chief.

Mr. Oghogho Obayuwana is the Foreign Affairs Editor. Assistant Art Editor, Kabir Alabi Garba, is the Art Editor.

In the same vein, the newspaper has created three more bureaux for operational efficiency as the company begins satellite printing in Abuja soon.

Consequently, Mr. Saxone Akhaine, a veteran Senior Correspondent in Kaduna, has been promoted the Northern Bureau Chief. Similarly, Mr. Kodilinye Obiagwu, a Senior Political Correspondent, is the Eastern Bureau Chief. The

South-South Bureau Chief’s position just vacated by the new Editor of The Guardian on Sunday will be filled shortly.

Mr. Marcel Mbamalu is now the News Editor of The Guardian on Sunday and Mr. Godwin Ijediogor is his counterpart at The Guardian on Saturday.

Meanwhile, to cover Lagos, Nigeria’s capital, a complex metropolis, a new department has been created. Named as Lagos City Desk, the Deputy Editor in charge is Geofrey Okpugie who has been a veteran Correspondent of Business and Style on Sunday Desk. He will be assisted by Mr. Tope Templar who has been co-ordinating the Sunday Desk’s City File.

Mr. Mathias Okwe is Assistant Business Editor.

Abraham Ogbodo has operated in the media industry for over 20 years, reporting politics, economy, arts, environment, health, energy, education and foreign affairs.

He was born on January 1, 1963 in Ughelli, Delta State. He attended Orogun Grammar School, Orogun (1975-1980) and St. Patrick’s College, Asaba (1982-1983). He graduated with a B.A. (Hons.) in Theatre Arts from University of Calabar (1983-1987).

For the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme, he was an English Language teacher at New State High School, Mushin, Lagos (October 1987-July 1988). From a Sub-Editor Trainee and Sub-Editor (August 1988-August 1990), he became a Staff Writer/AG Head, Special Features Unit (May 1992-July 1994), African Guardian magazine.

A former Head, Special Projects (Supplements Unit), The

Guardian (October 1995-June 2002), Ogbodo was Senior Correspondent (Politics) (June 2002 – July 2007) and was promoted Deputy Editor (Politics), The Guardian, in 2007. In November 1, 2012, he was promoted as the Regional Editor in charge of the South-South (South-South Bureau Chief.)

Widely travelled within and outside Nigeria and a recipient of awards, Ogbodo has served in various public capacities.

Eto was born on July 12, 1965 in Ghana but returned home after the Ankrah-Afrifa junta that ousted the Kwame Nkrumah government sent Nigerians away.

Back in Nigeria, he attended primary schools in Sapele and Isokoland as well as Government College, Ughelli and Emore Grammar School, Oleh (1977-82) and Delta State Polytechnic, Ozoro (1982). He was at the University of Benin (1983-87) where he earned an Upper Class B.Sc. (Hons.) from the Department of Political Science and Public Administration. He also attended the University of Lagos where he got an M.Sc. degree from the same department (1995). He had received a post-graduate diploma from the Nigerian Institute of Journalism (1993). A winner of many awards, he also has a BBC London Journalism Training Certificate (2001).

For his youth service, he was a graduate lecturer at Imo (now Abia) State University (1987-88) after which he worked at The Guardian as a reporter and sub-editor. He later worked at Newbreed magazine as Assistant Editor as well as Head of Foreign Desk (The Punch) and of News (Sunday Punch), 1994-96. He was Asst. News Editor and later Chief Sub-Editor of THISDAY (1997) and Editor, The Diet (1998).

Eto returned to The Guardian in 1999 as News Editor and was, from 2007, also the Chief Sub-Editor until last week when he was elevated to the position of Deputy Editor.

Williams, who joined The Guardian in 1992 as a reporter, has a Master of Arts (Literature) degree of the University of Lagos, 1998. He has a Bachelor of Arts (English) of the same university. Before then, he was at Auchi Polytechnic, Auchi (now Federal Polytechnic), where he earned a National Diploma in the Department of Mass Communication (1984).

Dafinone (55) graduated in 1985 from the University of Benin with B.A (Hons.) French. He joined The African Guardian magazine 1986 as Production Sub-editor and rose to Production Editor. In 1995, he became Production Editor, The Guardian. In 1999, he was appointed Assistant Editor and two years later Deputy Editor, The Guardian.

Akerele was born in Lagos on October 9, 1959. He attended Yaba Methodist Primary School, Lagos (1965-1966); Alafia Institute, Mokola, Ibadan (1967 – 1969) and Eko Boys’ High School, Mushin, Lagos (1970-1974).

In 1977, he was employed by Royal Exchange Assurance Nigeria (REAN), Marina, Lagos, and left in December 1979 for the College of Journalism, Fleet Street, London. He graduated in 1982 with HND in Journalism and Mass Communication.

When he returned to Nigeria in 1983, he was posted to Jos, Plateau State, where he served with the Nigerian Standard newspapers.

He joined GNL in 1987, working first with the now rested Guardian Express before he was posted to the defunct Lagos Life in 1993 as Acting Editor.

In 2005, he was made Production Editor of The Guardian on Saturday before he was appointed Night Editor of The Guardian in 2010.


Lagos Traffic Law: Panic Over Enforcement, Imprisonment


TO transport operators of different categories, the signing of Lagos State Road Traffic Law (2012) has been generating fright and panic over imprisonment clause despite repeated attempts by Governor Babatunde Fashola and his aides to allay fears that the law was not enacted to sentence traffic offenders, but rather deepen the culture of public safety.

The law, which repealed the 2003 Road Traffic Law, according to the governor, contains some innovative clauses that were brought into the legal regime, first to ensure public safety within the state, and second, to boost Lagos megacity status.

Section 36 (3) of the law states: “In sentencing a person convicted of committing an offence, the court may, in addition to or in lieu of the prescribed sentence, direct suspension or revocation of the driver’s license and direct the person convicted to render community service,” thereby setting a tone for deterrence and voluntary compliance.

But the section is not complete in itself. It is only operational under Section 347 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law (2011), which sets definite circumstances and conditions by which any court of competent jurisdiction can order a person convicted of certain offences to render community service.

Also, the court, under the same section, can direct a person convicted of committing an offence to enroll for and attend courses at the Lagos State Drivers’ Institute (LASDRI) for a period not less than seven days at his cost. At the discretion of the presiding magistrate, such person may be sentenced to both community service and enrolment in the drivers’ institute.

This, thus, explains why Fashola during the week, said the law is all about the safety and benefit of Lagos residents as it was not meant “to send anybody to jail. A jail sentence will be an extreme case, especially when the presiding magistrate has identified an offender to be hardened or such person has been committing a particular offence over and over again.

“Unlike the provision of the old traffic law, the new law has made provisions not only for payment of fines, but for convicted offenders to engage in community service such as directing traffic for a specified period among others. The objective of the new law is to get people to comply rather than getting them arrested or apprehended. There is nothing spectacular about the provisions in the new law that is not applicable in distant locations.

“So, the popularity of the law is very evident. Everybody should comply. For anyone who is convicted, he will either undergo compulsory training at the drivers’ institute or community service by managing traffic. Traffic management is a reality of the country’s large population. That is why we have also introduced a traffic radio to provide advance information to residents on how they plan their route,” Fashola said.


AN in-depth examination of the law gives an insight into various challenges it intends to solve. Under Section 1, for instance, the law prohibits the use of any specified road by vehicles of specified class; regulates the conduct of persons driving, or riding any vehicle or animal on a highway and restricts the use of sirens as well as the sounding of horns or other similar appliances either in general or during specified period.

Subsection 2 and 4 gives power to the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) officers “to arrest where appropriate and prosecute any persons reasonably suspected of having committed any offences under the provisions of the law.” But LASTMA’s power to prosecute any suspect is subject to the provisions of the 1999 Constitution.

Section 3 also prohibits any person from riding, driving or manually propelling a cart, wheel-barrow, motorcycle and tricycle from no fewer than 11 highways, 41 bridges and 496 routes, which are all stated under the Schedule II of the new traffic law. As contained in the schedule, these categories of vehicles are restricted from plying any route in Eti-Osa Local Government, which covers Victoria Island, Lagos Island as well as Ikoyi.

Under Subsection 4, commercial motorcycle riders are expected not to carry more than one passenger at a time. Aside, the subsection also states that a pregnant woman, a child below age of 12 and an adult with a baby or heavy load placed on her head or which obstruct normal sitting shall not be carried as a passenger, an act, which authors of the law, believe can cause untold suffering and multiple loss.

If any operator fails to comply with these provisions, subsection 5 therefore spells out stiff penalties ranging from serving a three-year imprisonment or rendering community service or the offender might have his vehicle forfeited to the state government, but an award of such penalties will be at the discretion of a presiding magistrate.

The Schedule I x-rays a wide range of traffic offences, which relates to any form of action that precludes drivers from operating with two hands, such as eating and drinking, making use of mobile phone, counting money and smoking while driving.


THE law has equally stoked stern reaction from different quarters. Chairman of Motorcycle Operators’ Association of Lagos State (MOALS), Tijani Perkins, described the law as anti-people. He observed that the new traffic law might create more social problems than it intends “to solve originally. Furthermore, the law breached an agreement, which associations of motorcycle operators had with the state government on August 24, 2010. The agreement spelt out the routes on which okada riders can operate in the state.”

An okada rider, Tope Aronipin, said the law is meant to punish operators for practising in the state. “For a long time, Fashola has been trying in vain to stop us from ‘eating’, and this time around, he won’t succeed. I am, however, happy for the law banishing agberos from the road. These people are just criminals and touts, who rob commercial bus drivers and okada riders in broad daylight in the name of collecting tolls.”

Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Adeola Ipaye, cited instances where human heads were smashed due to reckless operations of commercial motorcycle riders, traffic gridlocks created as a result of lawless driving of many motorists, and diverse cases of armed attacks on unsuspected residents, all of which he said, necessitated the enactment of the law “to avoid a situation whereby Lagosians are used to such gory scenes.”

In 2010, Perkins said it was agreed that okada operators would not ply all bridges and highways across the state. But he expressed dismay at the enactment of the new traffic law, which he said, was designed to disengage all okada operators out of business. “It is unfair to restrict our operations to Trunk C and D roads. This is unacceptable to us. On the 2010 agreement, we stand. We also have rights under the 1999 Constitution and shall exercise them.”

He explained how socio-economic challenges brought thousands of his colleagues to eke out a living from okada business. “How can the state government decide to disengage people going about their lawful activities without providing alternatives, especially in this era of depressed economy. As a body, however, we have decided not to take the matter to the court of competent jurisdiction until the law is gazetted and its enforcement equally takes off,” he said.

Musiliu Saka, like many of his colleagues, is not too happy with the enactment of the law, which he believes, will threaten sources of livelihood for many citizens with its adverse ripple effects on the society.

On his part, a bus driver, who plies Ketu-Oshodi route and simply identified himself as Bamidele, said the law would not work, urging that what the government had succeeded in doing was to empower LASTMA officials to continue their extortion spree. “This is a way of further enriching the highly corrupt LASTMA officials. Tell me how one could drive in a day without falling foul of the law. The government is indirectly saying we should pack our bags and go to our villages. Some aspects of the law are simply draconian,” he said.