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Nigeria militants start peace talks with president


Nigeria militants start peace talks with president

ABUJA, Nigeria — Nigeria’s main militant group in the oil-rich Delta region said Sunday that it had started formal peace talks with the country’s president for the first time since it declared an indefinite cease-fire last month.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta called Saturday’s dialogue with President Umaru Yar’Adua useful.

“This meeting heralds the beginning of serious, meaningful dialogue between MEND and the Nigerian government to deal with and resolve root issues that have long been swept under the carpet,” militant group spokesman Jomo Gbomo said in a statement Sunday.

The president’s spokesman, Olusegun Adeniyi, said Saturday that Yar’Adua met with a group of negotiators “in continuation of his efforts to find lasting solution to the problem in the Niger Delta and following on his earlier promise to meet with any individual or groups in that direction.”

The group had declared an indefinite cease-fire on Oct. 25 after a meeting between the Nigerian President and its longtime leader, Henry Okah. Gbomo had said that after the meeting, Okah had “indicated the willingness of the government to negotiate” with the militant group, which then formed a team to negotiate, Gbomo said.

Gbomo said Sunday the negotiating team that met with the president included four men. Okah and another field commander, Farah Dagogo, sat in the meeting as observers, he said.

Attacks by the militant group and unrest in the Delta region had cut Nigeria’s oil production by about a million barrels a day, allowing Angola to overtake it as Africa’s top oil producer.

The group’s key commanders, Dagogo, Government Tompolo, Ateke Tom and Ebikabowei Victor Ben, are among more than 8,000 militants who surrendered their arms in the government’s amnesty program, which ended Oct. 4.

The militants say they are fighting to force the federal government to send more oil revenue to the southern region that remains poor despite five decades of oil production.

Police: Mike Tyson in scuffle at Los Angeles airport

LOS ANGELES — Mike Tyson allegedly hit a photographer at Los Angeles International Airport and was booked and released on suspicion of misdemeanor battery Wednesday, police said.

Tyson and the unnamed photographer both want to press charges for misdemeanor battery, police said.

The paparazzo told police that the former heavyweight boxing champion struck him once, airport police spokesman Sgt. Jim Holcomb said. The photographer fell to the ground and was treated for a cut to his forehead at a hospital.

Tyson’s spokeswoman Tammy Brook said the boxer was traveling with his wife and 10-month-old child Wednesday afternoon when he was attacked by an overly aggressive paparazzo. The 43-year-old acted in self-defense to protect his child, she said.

“There’s a lot of different versions to this story and that’s all going to come out later,” Holcomb said. “Some witness statements support Tyson’s version, others support the photographer’s.”

Paparazzi often camp out at Los Angeles’ largest airport to get shots of celebrities in transit.

“I’ve heard people were following him into the men’s room and trying to take his picture there,” said Tyson’s defense attorney, David Chesnoff. “My advice to him is going to be to vigorously press charges against what everyone agrees are ridiculously aggressive photographers.”

Tyson was cooperative as he waited in a holding cell at the airport police station, Holcomb said. The photographer will also be booked once he is released from the hospital, police said.

Tyson became the youngest heavyweight champion ever in 1986 when he won his title as a 20-year-old. But his life since then has been marred by accusations of domestic violence, rape and cocaine use.

Tyson was convicted of rape in Indiana in 1992 and served three years in prison. He was disqualified from a 1997 heavyweight title fight when he bit off part of Evander Holyfield’s right ear, and in 1999 he pleaded no contest to misdemeanor assault charges in Maryland.

In 2003, Tyson filed for Chapter 11 protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. He served 24 hours in an Arizona jail in 2007 after pleading guilty to cocaine possession and driving under the influence.

Indiana State Bar names 1st black president

INDIANAPOLIS — The new president of the Indiana State Bar Association will be the first African American to lead the lawyers group.

The bar association says Roderick Morgan of the Indianapolis-based firm of Bingham McHale was named president of the group at its annual meeting last week.

Morgan says the state bar’s efforts toward inclusiveness and diversity are essential to its growth. It currently has more than 12,000 members.

Morgan is a retired Army judge advocate general and has served as an associate professor of law and legal advisor to political and military leaders. Morgan also served as chair of the board of trustees at Vincennes University and is a past president of the Indianapolis Black Chamber of Commerce.

His law degree is from Georgetown University.

(Associated Press)