Umaru Yar'Adua looks serene in the official portrait hanging in a courtroom where lawyers in black robes are trying to unseat him as president of Nigeria. But his position may be less secure than the photograph. The presidential tribunal is a special electoral court empowered to hear petitions against his victory in April by losing candidates.
Guns, machetes and looted public funds are the real instruments of power in Nigeria, where politicians backed by unelected ''godfathers'' use hired thugs to win office, Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday. Nigeria returned to civilian rule in 1999 after three decades of almost continuous army dictatorship, but civilian governments have routinely abused basic human rights.
Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua came to power under the shadow of disputed elections and an overbearing predecessor, but his first two months in office have shown evidence that he is quietly asserting his authority. The soft-spoken former state governor was plucked from obscurity by former president Olusegun Obasanjo to run for the top job.
The main rebel group in Nigeria's oil-producing Niger Delta said on Monday the abduction of a three-year-old British girl was unrelated to political violence and the armed struggle over oil revenues would continue. Margaret Hill was released on Sunday night after four days in the hands of unknown ransom seekers.
A three-year-old British girl was freed on Sunday four days after being kidnapped in Nigeria, and her mother said the toddler was in good health except for mosquito bites. Gunmen had snatched Margaret Hill from the car in which she was being driven to school while it was stuck in traffic on Thursday morning in Port Harcourt.
A Nigerian militant group responsible for most of the attacks that have crippled the country's oil industry has called off a one-month truce, the group's spokesperson said on Wednesday. Gunmen attacked an oil rig and kidnapped five expatriates overnight, police said.
Tentative moves by Nigeria's new government to subdue attacks on the oil industry have drawn mixed reactions from rebel factions in the Niger Delta and sporadic violence is hampering the fledgling peace process. A one-month truce declared by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta expires on Tuesday.
A former Nigerian militia leader whose release has raised hopes of improved security in the oil-producing Niger Delta has pledged to continue his struggle for local control of oil wealth, but not in a criminal way. The situation in the region remains volatile despite the release of Mujahid Dokubo-Asari on Thursday.
Umaru Yar'Adua took office as President of Nigeria on Tuesday, promising to tackle a catalogue of crises in Africa's most populous nation and conceding that his own election was ''not perfect''. In his inaugural address at a military parade ground in the capital, Abuja, Yar'Adua began by saying there were ''lapses and shortcomings'' in the vote.
A stay-at-home protest meant to embarrass Nigeria's incoming president over flawed elections foundered on Monday as apathy and an unexpected public holiday diluted the effect. Nigerian cities were quieter than usual on the eve of the inauguration of Umaru Yar'Adua as president.
Fighters from the rebel Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend) destroyed three major oil pipelines in Nigeria's southern delta on Tuesday, the group said in an email statement. Mend said the Italian oil firm Agip's Brass terminal, which normally exports about 200Â 000 barrels per day, had been affected by the attacks.
Nigeria's president-elect, Umaru Yar'Adua, intends to tackle violence in the oil-producing Niger Delta by initiating dialogue with militants when he assumes office after disputed elections, he told the media on Thursday. Yar'Adua said he would get to work immediately on solving the crisis in the lawless delta in southern Nigeria.