Buhari's Management of Petroleum Trust Fund under Abacha's Government
By Ebele Chukwu. Obasanjo never hid his disgust for General Sani Abacha who had jailed him for a “phantom coup”. Released from jail and still wallowing in a fit of new found spirituality, he wrote a book and called it “The Animal Called Man”. And he elected to wage a battle on this “Animal Called Man”. While taking his oath of office at the Eagle Square on 27th May, 1999, he had pledged to wrestle corruption out of our national psyche. In a fit of mediaeval triumphalism, he chanted: “there will be no sacred cows!” But his first attack was a disaster. No sooner had he made that declaration than he dispatched Mallam Haroun Adamu to the headquarters of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF), an intervention agency run by General Muhammadu Buhari, to start the war on corruption. Haroun Adamu’s public brief was to wind down PTF but the hidden one was to disgrace General Buhari by exposing the “shady deals” in PTF. Contractors working for PTF were used to picking their cheques across the counter without much ado. Under the new inquisitor, contractors discovered they now had to oil their cheques out, something alien to the PTF they knew. They cried foul. And there were several other fouls after the first foul. To say that Obasanjo was thoroughly embarrassed by his minions would be an understatement, so much so that till date he does not discuss PTF in public. As a General, it would appear that Obasanjo read Sun Tzu’ s “The Art of War” upside down. Sun Tzu had counselled: “Know thyself; know thy enemy. You will fight a thousand battles without defeat.” The blitzkrieg he deployed only showed he did not know PTF. He might not have needed to fire a shot to win or wean PTF. To date, most Nigerians knew how PTF started, what it did but not how it ended. Not known as one who forgives, was it not surprising that General Buhari walked the streets with his head high throughout Obasanjo’s imperial majesty when the fear of EFCC was the beginning of political wisdom?
In October 1994, General Sani Abacha increased the pump price of petrol from N3.25k to N11.00 per litre. Nigerians assailed him with criticisms for this unpopular move and to assuage their feelings, he quickly established the Petroleum (Special) Trust Fund to use a portion of the proceeds of the increase to intervene in critical sectors of the economy. Nigerians never took Abacha seriously on this project until Gen Muhammadu Buhari was announced and inaugurated the chairman of the PTF in March 1995.
That PTF awarded contracts worth billions of naira is not news. The news the PTF made within the four years it existed was and still is that contracts awarded were executed to their logical conclusion and for those not executed, the PTF got every kobo back. Before PTF, contractors were used to abandoning contracts and bolting away with their advance payments. It never happened in PTF. When Buhari visited the Onitsha end of the Enugu-Onitsha express way awarded to a local contractor and discovered the job was abandoned, he simply called on the bank that guaranteed the contractor to pay back. There and then, the contract was terminated and later awarded to another contractor. From that moment, banks and insurance companies that provided bonds to contractors learnt that the old order had changed and had to monitor projects it guaranteed.
For the years it existed, PTF published its annual reports and always addressed press conferences to respond to issues arising from the reports. And each time it did, it challenged anybody who could deliver on any of its projects at a price cheaper than what it cost the PTF to submit his proposal. Nobody ever did.
In one of the presentations of its annual report, the Executive Secretary of the Board of the PTF, Chief Tayo Akpata, maintained that the roads constructed by the PTF not only cost less than World Bank funded roads but were also better qualitatively. He challenged anyone to prove the contrary. Until the PTF was scrapped, nobody did.
While the PTF existed, contractors never needed to lobby and grease palms to get LPO’s. You only needed to belong to the appropriate group of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria and other professional groups to qualify. Not a few contractors received requests to supply the PTF in the comfort of their offices. It was so unbelievably true that some had to travel to Abuja to reconfirm if the LPO’s they received were genuine. And genuine they were.
To be paid for a completed contract, all the contractor needed was to present a certificate of completion issued by the ubiquitous consultants engaged by the PTF and his cheque would be prepared. And with a proper letter of introduction, a contractor could send a third party to pick his check across a counter in the Finance Department without any ceremony. Picking a cheque then was just like walking into a bank to withdraw cash across the counter. As staff of Set and Sell Communications Ltd and later Media Trust Ltd, I personally picked several cheques on behalf of these firms. The challenge the finance department of the PTF faced then was getting contractors to come and pick their cheques which would pile up for months as a good number never knew it was so simple.
One cannot also forget in a hurry the PTF drug revolving scheme. Under this, the PTF set up offices in hospitals across the country and supplied them with drugs. The financial consultants employed by the Fund ensured that receipts from the sales of the drugs were used to replenish the stocks in an unending cycle that banished out-of-stock anthem the Nigerian public were forced to listen to before then. And it was not easy to divert PTF drugs to the parallel market. The smallest tablet supplied had PTF logo engraved on it. Somebody attempted diverting the drugs and was caught. General Buhari took up the case personally and ensured the culprit went to jail. After that, nobody heard of diversions again.
The strategy of the PTF in procuring these drugs is worth reviewing. Over 60% of the drugs supplied to the PTF were locally produced. In fact, the PTF only imported drugs that could not be produced by the local pharmaceutical firms. The pressure on the existing pharmaceutical companies was so much that almost all these firms had to increase their capacity by expanding and employing more hands. Neimeth Pharmaceuticals, Emzor Pharmaceuticals among others can be contacted to affirm or disprove this. This policy was deliberately made to ensure that more jobs were created within the economy.
Builders who built for PTF would also tell you that they were not allowed to import paints. There was a list of all the paint manufacturers in the country maintained at the PTF from which builders bought paints. Within the same period, the capacity utilisation in these companies soared as they expanded and created more jobs. A look at the records kept by IPWA plc and other existing paint makers within the period under review is worth attempting to digest the profundity of the PTF intervention in the building sector; and other sectors it intervened in as its model was so overarching that critics labelled it “the alternative government”.
This column is not enough to put in a proper perspective the job General Buhari undertook and did while in PTF but it suffices through this glimpse to understand the mindset and the strategy of this maelstrom which the ruling elite hate for his forthrightness – a quality in short supply in governance today.
One can cite the number of roads and hospitals rehabilitated by the PTF. One can also quote the billions it spent. The essence of the PTF, however, lies more in the multiplier effect its intervention had on the economy as a whole than in the number of what it did, which on its own was equally impressive. This distinction is what differentiates growth from development. While the former is quantitative, the latter is qualitative. As a political economist, I know that the economic development of any third world country lies in qualitative transformation.
Before the coming of PTF, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida had introduced the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) which he had claimed had no alternative. The revered economist, Professor Sam Aluko, had also reminded him that economics was a science of alternatives; that even death had an alternative which was life and that SAP was a kiss of death. IBB was to acknowledge the failure of SAP when out of frustration around 1991, he exclaimed that “the Nigerian economy had defied all known economic theories and was surprised that the economy had not collapsed”.
The economy did not collapse. The PTF intervention ensured it did not. This was the lesson OBJ failed to grasp when he dissolved the Fund with executive fiat in 1999. As at 1997, funds available to the PTF was about N115 billion and Nigerians could point at projects the fund was expended on. A decade after PTF, the governments from OBJ’s to date had spent much more than that in the power sector alone and have not been able to generate even a megawatt more of electricity.
Managing public funds is serious business. General Muhammadu Buhari was fond of telling contractors on visit to sites: “If you perform well, you get a handshake. If you perform badly, you get a handcuff”. This is the mantra we need at this historical juncture. The man that incarnates this mantra out of the available presidential candidates is General Muhammadu Buhari.
There is also a lesson to be learnt from the day Buhari left PTF. Obasanjo, on assumption of office, announced the setting up of the interim management committee led by Mallam Haroun Adamu to wind down PTF. The following day, Buhari addressed a press conference and invited the new management to immediately take over. He told Nigerians that everything the new management needed were in the records to which they would have unhindered access. He bid his staff farewell, descended the stairs, literally jumped into his four wheel drive that took him home to Daura. He never stepped into that premises again to this day. And he never fled the country to escape the EFCC.
The likes of Obasanjo should go back to the military academy to understand “The Art of War” before going on another offensive.
Ebele Chukwu writes from Eziora, Ozubulu (email@example.com, 08186482246 sms only)
OBEHIOYE: The most interesting thing I noticed on these visits was the name and dates on the commissioning plagues of these plants: Lt. Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo was the name while the dates ranged from 1977 to 1979. I immediately fell in love with Obj and when he became president later I silently wished and prayed he would perform the same magic until he began to scheme for 3rd term and that I couldn’t stomach. When Obj failed bw 1999 and 2007, I tried to understand and then I realized and got to know that the master-mind of all those developments during his military stint was Brig. Gen. Mohammadu Buhari who was the Minister of Power and Energy during that period. Buhari it was, being in-charge of that ministry, built all those plants Obj had commissioned and I had visited. We are also all aware of the magic that same Buhari performed as head the PTF, which ran a parallel government in Nigeria by getting JUST 3% of every litre of petroleum product purchased in Nigeria. Projects started and completed by the PTF are too numerous to mention here. Buhari has never been indicted by any probe or inquiry as haven stolen any money. We have seen how prudent and useful the ministries and agencies he ran were yet we refused to vote him because we have been fed with lies upon lies that he was a religious bigot, he would make Sharia national thing etc.
from page three of this thread, you've been basically talking to yourself, except a few interruptions by jakumo if this is not a classical case of monologue and pure madness i wonder what is. your man is not popular he is an extremist we need a leader
The fact many young Nigerians are ignorant of Buhari's performance whilst he was in power, a testament to Nigeria's corrupt and dishonest and useless press media and journalist, who simply spread whichever lies and confusion that the corrupt elites pay them to spread.
Buharinomics was General Buhari’s economic program marshaled out to salvage the nation in 1984. He summarized the objective of his economic policy (as articulated in the 1984 budget) as follows: "To arrest the decline in the economy, to put the economy on a proper course of recovery and solvency, and to chart a future course for economic stability and prosperity" (West Africa, May 14, 1984). He had previously done similarly, in March while receiving the visiting Sudanese President, Gaafar Nimeiri. Upon his inquiring of what the new military government had in mind for the nation it then ruled, Buhari said to him: "The priority [of his administration] is for economic recovery, providing employment opportunities, improving people's living conditions, consolidating internal security and ensuring foreign respect" (Africa Now, March 1984). In a nutshell, Buharinomics set out to arrest the decline in the economy and refocus it towards recovery. Buharinomics was to wean the nation off consumerism and profligacy, while channeling it towards frugality and productivity. To accomplish this, the government was to cut down on its expenditure, engage in more efficient restricting and controlling of foreign exchange outflow, undertake the revival of the country's productive capacity (concentration was on agriculture), and broaden government's revenue base.
The first test of Buharinomics was implemented to revive the comatose banking industry and arrest local currency hoarding. In April 1984, the government ordered a change in the color of the Naira. This action was dubbed the “real coup” by unscrupulous business men and politicians who had almost eliminated the need for commercial banking in Nigeria by keeping their moneys under their mattresses or by trafficking them into neighboring West African countries. This currency change, which forced all holders of the naira notes into exchanging them for the new naira notes at commercial banks, infused billions that had remained unaccounted for into the banking industry and eliminated counterfeited currencies, which had inflicted inflationary and other nefarious effects on the economy. This measure had an immediate revitalizing effect in the banking industry and was an unqualified success. Banks that were close to collapsing became vibrant again, to the extent that some of them began to hire hitherto unemployed Nigerians.
To cut down on government expenses, the federal work force was cut by 30% and imports for 1984 pegged at 4 billion pounds (mostly on basic foodstuffs, spare parts, and raw materials for local industries), against 14 billion pounds spent in 1983. To ensure that Nigeria remained respectable on the international business world, Buhari committed to honoring Nigeria’s debt payment schedule irrespective of the limited earning potential of Nigeria. In August 1984, Buhari was on one of his meet-the-people nationwide tours, which he began as soon as the administration got on its feet. Everywhere he went, the people embraced him, coming out en mass and ushering him tumultuous cheers and unreserved applause. In one of his speeches to the people (this one in Owerri), he reiterated Nigeria’s commitment to honoring its debts, the dire economic situation notwithstanding. "The task of this administration is how to persuade Nigerians to understand that for a number of years to come, we would be paying debts, the roads may be long and thorny but we believe that on our shoulders lies the responsibility to save our fatherland from devastation that has resulted from mismanagement" (Newswatch, February 18, 1985).
Buhari could not have been any more correct in his statement above. Assuming Nigeria took no further loans, its breakdown of loan repayments was as follows: 3.9 billion naira ($4.4 billion) in 1985, 3.7 billion naira ($4.19 billion) in 1986, 2.8 billion naira ($3.2 billion) in 1987, until a decrease to 703 million in 1991 (Concord Weekly, May 6, 1985). Nigeria’s precarious financial situation made it impossible for it to finance capital projects and meet up its balance of payment obligations. With oil export pegged at 1.3 million barrels per day by OPEC, borrowing from external sources became necessary. To this effect, Nigeria proposed borrowing 1.795m naira to finance its capital project from the IMF. The patriotism with which General Buhari handled Nigeria’s dealings with the IMF was the highlight and beauty of Buharinomics.
In order to qualify for the loan, IMF gave Nigeria certain conditions which must be met. In 1984 when the naira exchanged for $1.34, the IMF demanded a minimum of 60% devaluation of it. Buhari refused, agreeing only to a "crawling peg"—a mechanism whereby government would realign the currency gradually, forestalling or minimizing economic and social dislocations because of such drastic devaluation of its currency. In addition to the devaluation of the naira, IMF demanded that government took other drastic actions: (a) The government must remove its subsidy on petroleum. (b) It must curtail its expenditure. (c) Government must rationalize its tariff structures. (d) It must put a freeze on its wages. (e) It must put a total end of non-statutory transfers to State governments, (f) Government must at least institute a 30% raise on interest rates—government resisted this because the decline in its revenue earnings and its debt obligations made it almost impossible to raise interest rates without triggering inflation (West Africa, May 14, 1984).
The Nigerian government and veteran economists in Nigeria (like Aluko, Onosade, Okigbo, etc) could not make sense of being asked to devalue its currency when Nigeria’s imports were in dollar and its export (fixed quantity of oil) was also in dollar. The implication of devaluation was that Nigeria would pay more to import lesser quantity of goods than it did prior to any devaluation. It would also export the same amount of oil it exported before any devaluation and derive lesser revenue than it received before any devaluation The impacts of it debt payment would have harsher effect on the citizenry if the naira was devalued. This did not make any economic sense to Buhari; it struck him as an insult on the intelligence of the African. Finance Minister Onaolapo Soleye and Alhaji Abubakar Alhaji who led the Nigerian delegation to the last negotiation in Washington were chewed out by US Federal Reserve Chairman, Paul Volcker, for presenting the Nigerian governments rejection of most of these recommendations. For rejecting the IMF conditions and the loan, the Buhari administration got into the black book of Washington. Already, it had earned the dislike of 10 Downing Street for cutting down Nigeria’s imports from the UK by about 350%. In any case, without the IMF loan, government was still in a bind as to how to finance capital projects and pay for imports, especially spare parts for local industries, food items, etc. At this juncture, the genius and resourcefulness of Buharinomics illuminated to the delight of the African.
First, the administration sent Oil Minister Tam David West to OPEC to seek a raise in the quantity of oil that Nigeria could export. If OPEC agreed, Nigeria would expect to generate extra revenue in the long run from any increase of its oil quota and this would assist tremendously in augmenting the shortfall in the nation’s purse. Professor West came back empty handed—the US and Britain had put pressure on their puppets in OPEC (like Saudi Arabia) to refuse Nigeria’s request.
To counter OPEC’s bluff, the Buhari administration entered into a $2 billion barter trade agreement with four countries. Nigeria daily bartered 200,000 barrels of oil as follows: (a) completely knocked down parts for automobiles from Brazil. (b) Construction equipment from Italy (c) Engineering equipment from France, and (d) Capital goods from Austria. This barter trade took care of the administration’s need to have borrowed money but it intensified the ill will the US and Britain had for Nigeria. By bartering this oil, Nigeria was: (a) solving those needs which the proposed IMF loan was geared toward. Doing so without borrowing or feeling the pains of spending the meager amount generated from its OPEC approved 1.3 billion a day oil export is the stuff an economic wizard is made of. (b) Britain had been cut off as Nigeria’s major supplier of the goods which the countries in the barter agreement sent to Nigeria. (c) The US usurious money lenders were denied the chance to suck Nigeria dry through the IMF loan. (d) American and British oil companies were irate that the oil being bartered would flood the oil market, cutting in on their profits. (d) The oil being bartered was oil that used to be illegally bunkered before Buhari put illegal oil bunkering artist out of business. For once, an African country had put positive economic mechanism in place to salvage its ailing economy without swallowing IMF’s poison pills.
As far as America and Britain were concerned, there was a price to be paid by this Buhari, who thought he was smart enough not to accept subservience to their authority. To begin with, a London newspaper (The Financial Times) published Nigeria’s barter trade agreement with Brazil (which, in truth, was done in secrecy because Buhari treated some aspects of his economic policy as State secret). The British thought it was going to incite OPEC against Nigeria since OPEC as a body did not support oil bartering. Oil Minister Tam David West, in a press conference, said, “If a nation believes it is part of its strategy for national survival to do this [barter trade], why not?” To assure OPEC that Nigeria was not indulging in barter trade in order to pull out of OPEC, he added ”Our strategy is to stay in OPEC and make its presence felt, and work together on programs that will be for the economic interest of all” (Concord Weekly, May 6, 1985). There is more to this barter trade than time will permit one to detail in this piece. For now, it is worth noting that it was the major reason for which Britain and America wanted the Buhari administration overthrown.
The counter trade showcased Buhari as a visionary. He made America and Britain feel silly and they swore to get him out of office. When Babangida took over, on his maiden speech to the nation he promised to revisit the counter trade agreements. Within two weeks in office, September 17, 1985, he setup a panel to review it and recommend to his administration how to revive the economy without the use of counter trade. Babangida rolled back counter trade at the behest of his imperialist masters and at the detriment of the Nigerian nation and people.
By the time the Buhari administration was overthrown in August of 1985, Buharinomics was beginning to yield dividends. For example, the inflationary rate had fallen from 23.2% in 1983 to 5.5% in 1985. Nigeria did not regret rejecting the IMF loan because it was meeting its obligation of prompt debt payment and the bartered goods were, to some extent, holding up within the austerity measure which had been in place since the Shagari days. Food was becoming reasonably available for two reasons: (a) The emphasis paid to agriculture had resulted in abundant food harvests, especially yam tubers. (b) The border closure made it impossible for unscrupulous business men to continue smuggling food items into neighboring countries where they sold for twice their value in Nigeria.
Had Buharinomics continued for at least five years, Nigeria would have joined the Asian tigers in economic growth and self reliance. We know that to be true because Babangida came into office and did everything the IMF asked and the Nigerian economy took a dive into the gutter and has not recovered yet.
GenBuhari:21st January 1984 - The NY Times Buhari's new Government Recovers stolen Millions From Ex-Ministers
. .LAGOS, Nigeria, Jan. 20— Nigeria's military Government has recovered millions of dollars in currency hoarded by former officials and is trying to retrieve millions more smuggled out of the country, a member of the new regime says.
Brig. Tunde Idiagbon told reporters Thursday that the stockpiles of money ranged from $56,000 found at the home of former Vice President Alex Ekwueme, to $4.5 million at the residence of the last civilian governor of Kono State, Alhaji Sabo Bakin Zuwo.
28TH FEBRUARY 1984 - ITN NEWS LEBANESE AND INDIAN COMMUNITIES IN NIGERIA UNDER ATTACK BY NEWSPAPERS.
The large Indian and Lebanese communities in Nigeria have been under attack by the leading Nigerian independent newspaper, accusing them of economic sabotage.The Guardian editorial followed another one last week in the National Concord.
The Indian and Lebanese communities have been accused of bribing bank officials to illegally move foreign currency out of Nigeria, and hoarding goods.The economic success of the Lebanese and Indian communities has been the subject of some jealousy.Between the two communities, they own numerous factories and small businesses.
The new military government which seized power on December 31, 1983 has promised to fight corruption and bring down food prices. Indians and Lebanese are alleged to be some of the power behind corrupt middlemen. Long jail terms for economic sabotage are being mentioned in the national press.
GenBuhari:12TH APRIL 1984 - ITN NEWS BUHARI'S MILITARY TRIBUNAL MEMBERS SWORN IN TO PROSECUTE 500 DETAINED POLITICIANS, OFFICIALS AND OTHERS CHARGED WITH FINANCIAL FRAUD The swearing-in took place in Lagos on April 11 of members of Nigeria's special military tribunals which will try 475 detainees charged with financial misdemeanour.
The military government, in power since a coup on December 31, 1983, arrested public officials and businessmen accused of diverting millions of dollars of public money under the previous civilian regime. The tribunal members, 20 military officers and five judges, were sworn in by Chief Justice Sodiende Sowemimo, and will begin their work around the end of April in five regional centres.
When Major-General Mohammed Buhari came to power in the New Year's Eve coup, he promised a crackdown on public corruption as one way of solving Nigeria's economic crisis.
In February, 1984, his government launched a "War against Indiscipline" to encourage a more efficient society. More recently, security forces in Lagos rounded up 6,000 suspected criminals, political extremists and illegal aliens.
A drive is currently in progress to force down food prices through raids on shopkeepers and others suspected of hoarding food.
TRANSCRIPT: NAVAL OFFICER: (SEQ 5) "I (name indistinct), affirm that as member of the special military tribunal in (indistinct) set up under the recovery of public property (special military tribunals) decree 1984 and 1984 Number 3, I will faithfully and impartially, and to the best of my ability discharge the duties devolving upon me under the tribunal, so help me God."
GenBuhari:23 March 1984 - ITN News BUHARI’S GOVERNMENT LAUNCHES “WAR AGAINST INDISCIPLINE”
Nigeria's military government is stepping-up its campaign against corruption, mismanagement and indiscipline at all levels in Nigeria society.
Preliminary hearings into corruption and abuse of office against former politicians and civil administrators have already begun and on March 21 the government launched its war against indiscipline.
One of the first areas under attack is Illegal Street trading in the capital Lagos. The military government of Major-General Buhari has promulgated a decree forbidding the street trading, a major source of income for many thousands of Lagos people. Police have already begun arresting street vendors and confiscating their wares.
The campaign is also designed to foster greater personal and social discipline with Nigerians being urged to queue for buses in an orderly fashion. The crackdown on indiscipline was announced by Brigadier Tunde Idiagbon, a member of the Nigerian Supreme Military Council.
BRIGADIER TUNDE IDIAGBON: "I want you to bear in mind the need to emphasise self-discipline and leadership by good example. Begin by drawing public attention to little but important everyday manifestations of indiscipline such as rushing into buses, driving on the wrong side of the road, littering the streets, parks and dwelling compounds, cheating, taking undue advantage of scarcity to inflate prices for quick monetary gains, constituting ourselves into public nuisances, walking without commitment and devoting little or no time to the upbringing of our children.
Up to this moment there has been no formal declaration of war against indiscipline, it is my pleasure therefore to declare today a launching day for the war against indiscipline."
The Buhari administration identified indiscipline as the bane of the nation's ills and therefore decided to fight it in all its ramifications. Hence the pre-occupation of the regime was the launching of the different phases of the War Against Indiscipline (WAI) which has become a household word in may Nigerian homes. There were five phases of WAI, namely:-
a. Queuing (March 20, 1984)
b. Work Ethics (May 1, 1984)
c. Nationalism and Patriotism (August 21, 1984)
d. Anti-Corruption and Economic Sabotage (May 14, 1985)
When he rejected IMF loan because their conditions for the loan was unacceptable, Buhari decided to negate the need for cash for capital projects by entering barter trade agreements with four countries.
GenBuhari:14th March 1984 - The NY Times Buhari signs Barter Trade agreement with Brazil who would refine and return Nigeria's oil in exchange for crude oil
RIO DE JANEIRO, March 13— Brazil has won an international bidding contest to refine Nigerian oil this year, the state oil company, Petrobras, announced today.
The $1.2 billion agreement calls for Brazil to import Nigerian crude and return refined gasoline, jet fuel and diesel oil to Nigeria, a Petrobras spokesman said. He added that the accord would allow Brazil to reduce its idle refining capacity and earn a margin of profit.
Brazil imports about two-thirds of the one million barrels of oil it consumes daily, mostly from the Middle East. It buys 10,000 barrels daily from Nigeria.
Buhari was an enemy of religious fanatics - so liars take note!
GenBuhari:29th April 1985 - The NY Times General Buhari Imposes Curfew To End Religious Riots
. .BAUCHI, Nigeria, April 28— A dusk-to-dawn curfew has been imposed on the northern Nigerian town of Gombe, where more than 100 people have died in religious riots, an official statement said today.
Officials said the deaths occurred in two days of fighting between the police and members of the banned fundamentalist Maitatsine Islamic sect.
The Bauchi state government said that anyone violating the curfew ''will be regarded as a fanatic and will be shot on sight.''
The statement said the situation in Gombe was under control and most members of the sect were fleeing the town. A total of 146 suspected members of the sect had been arrested, it added.
Shooting broke out at dawn on Friday when the police tried to arrest Yusufu Adamu, the sect's leader in Gombe. Officials said nothing had been heard of him since, and it was unclear whether he was among those killed.
The initial police action cleared the sect out of its stronghold, but Nigerian television said many more lives were lost that night when the sect killed local people they had taken hostage.
Scenes from Stansted Airport where exiled former Nigerian minister, Umaru Dikko, was yesterday (5.7.84) found drugged in a crate. 17 people have been arrested - three of whom were in crates at Stansted with Mr Dikko.
Nigerian govt deny involvement with the kidnapping, but the crate in which Mr Dikko was found was sent from the Nigerian High Commission and addressed to the Ministry of External Affairs in Lagos, where Mr Dikko is wanted for embezzlement. A British Caledonian plane is being detained at Lagos in a diplomatic move by the Nigerian govt.