…Captain Hashim Abdullahi
1. US LAUDS NIGERIA’S EFFORTS IN TACKLING BOKO HARAM INSURGENCY
The United States has advised countries facing challenges of terrorism to take a cue from Nigeria in winning the war against global terrorism. The U.S. Secretary of States, Mr Rex Tillerson, gave the recommendation on Thursday at the ‘Meeting of the Ministers of the Global Coalition on the Defeat of ISIS’ in Washington. The meeting was convened at a time when the activities of terrorist groups across the globe were on the increase. Experts identified sharing of ideas at different fora as an important step in winning the war against terror. Mr Tillerson also noted that information sharing was one way countries could defeat terrorism, adding that Nigeria and West African countries have done well in sharing information which he said resulted in foiling a great number of attacks. He asked countries that have challenges of domestic terror groups to build up their information sharing systems, just as Nigeria did to win the war against Boko Haram insurgency. The U.S. Secretary of States, however, recounted with sadness the attacks on some countries by terrorists groups and proffered solution on how to tackle them. Nigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonishakin, on his part pledged Nigeria’s resolve to mobilise resources in order to confront violent extremists.
2. ARMY DENIED THE KILLING OF SCHOOL BOY IN BENUE, WHILE RESCUING ARMED FULANI HERDSMEN
One person has been reportedly killed by soldiers attached to 707 Special Forces Brigade in Makurdi, Benue State. The victim, a secondary school pupil, identified as Ayew Atume was killed by stray bullets fired by the troops. It was gathered that the pupil, who until the ugly incident was a resident of Jato Aka in the Kwande Local Government Area of the state, was having lunch in his parents’ compound after returning from school on Tuesday when the stray bullet hit him. He died on the spot. It was gathered that problem started when members of a vigilante group in the community had intercepted a car conveying some suspected Fulani herdsmen with arms. The herdsmen quickly alerted soldiers in the Kashimbila area of the state, who stormed the scene and allegedly freed the men, shooting continuously. In the process, one of the bullets killed Atume. The resident said, “Youths keeping vigilance on the town acted on a tip-off and intercepted a vehicle conveying some suspected herdsmen who were in possession of arms. The suspects called soldiers in Kashimbila who then called their colleagues stationed in Jato Aka to rescue the men. “The soldiers arrived at the scene and took the car and the occupants to their base. The continued insistence of the youths for the vehicle to be handed over to the police angered the soldiers who started shooting indiscriminately into the air to frighten them. “Ayew (Atume) was killed by a stray bullet. The boy just returned from school and was taking his lunch in his parents’ compound near the scene of the incident when the bullet hit him. He died instantly.” Reacting, however, the Assistant Director, Army Public Relations, 707 Special Forces Brigade, Makurdi, Maj. Olabisi Ayeni, claimed that the army never fired bullets during the operations. Ayeni, in a statement on Thursday, accused them of harassing motorists and other road users, adding that those rescued by soldiers were victims and not suspects.
“Youths in the town mounted an illegal roadblock, especially along the road linking Jato Aka to Taraba State, arresting innocent road users coming into Benue State. “They detained some visitors, alleging they were Fulani herdsmen. Our soldiers got a distress call and moved there immediately. They were able to rescue seven people and they were moved to our base to ensure their safety. “At the time of the arrest, they were searched and their vehicles were also searched, but nothing incriminating was found. The police were immediately contacted for further investigation if actually they were coming in with arms. “While this was going on, the youth regrouped in their hundreds and surrounded the military base, demanding that the seven commuters be handed over to them. “On the refusal of our troops to hand them over, they became aggressive and started throwing stones into our base. They later started firing at the camp. They destroyed our operational vehicles. “They also killed a boy in the process. Furthermore, they attacked some traditional chiefs and the Sole Administrator of Kwande LGA who came to appeal to them. “Our troops rescued the chiefs, but one of them was injured. Therefore, the claim that our troops are protecting Fulani herdsmen is not true. The illegally arrested commuters are not Fulani people; they are innocent Nigerians going about their business peacefully. “The Nigerian Army has the constitutional responsibility to ensure the safety of all Nigerians. In as much as we share the pains of those youths, we won’t allow any Nigerian to be unjustly punished or allow their fundamental rights to be tampered with,” the statement added.
3. BOKO HARAM IED FACTORY DISCOVERED AND DESTROYED IN KONDUGA, BORNO STATE
Troops of 103 Battalion, 7 Division, Nigerian Army of Operation LAFIYA DOLE along with some Civilian JTF today, conducted clearance operation at Gombole, Konduga Local Government Area of Borno State. During the operation, the troops neutralized a number of Boko Haram terrorists hiding in the area. They also discovered and destroyed an Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) factory located at the village. The team further recovered 3 motorcycles, 4 primed Suicide Vests and 4 stolen military desert camouflage. They rescued 4 females and 6 children from the terrorists. Unfortunately, a soldier sustained injury and he was evacuated by Nigerian Air Force. The soldier is in stable condition.
4. EX-MILITANTS CAUTION ON DANGERS OF NON-RELEASE OF 2016 AMNESTY FUND
Former militant leaders in the Niger Delta region have again warned that the continuous delay in the release of the 2016 supplementary budgetary allocation for the Presidential Amnesty Programme may derail Federal Government’s peace initiative in the volatile region. In a letter to the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, the ex-militants warned that the reluctance of the ministry to release the funds was creating a sense of frustration among beneficiaries of the amnesty programme and delaying the peace process. Speaking after an emergency meeting on Wednesday in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State under the first phase leaders of Presidential Amnesty Program known as the Leadership, Peace and Cultural Development Initiative (LPCDI), they urged the ministry to quickly release the funds to prevent another break down of law and order in the region.
5. WOMEN PROTEST ALLEGED RAPE OF 70-YEAR-OLD WIDOW BY HERDSMAN
The women of Isu in Onicha Local Government Area of Ebonyi State on Wednesday stormed Abakaliki protesting the activities of herdsmen in the area. Scores of women carried placards with different inscriptions such as “Fulanis have destroyed all our crops and polluted our rivers and ponds,’ ‘Fulanis have humiliated us.’ They alleged that one of the herdsmen raped a 70-year-old widow to coma. According to the leader of the protesters, Florence Okoro, the herdsman sneaked into the old widow’s house while she was preparing her evening meal and raped her. Ms. Okoro, who added that the hands and legs of the old widow were broken in the process, appealed to the state government and security agencies to come to their aid. Addressing the women at the Fatilami Abubakar Park, Abakaliki, the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Augustine Nwankwegu, condemned the rape of the woman and the destruction of the farmlands by the herdsmen. Mr. Nwankwegu assured them that the government would take decisive action against the perpetrators of the crimes.
6. HOW HERDSMEN, LAND-GRABBERS ARE TAKING OVER ARMY LAND IN OGUN
THE recent visit by the General Officer Commanding (GOC), 81 Division Nigerian Army, Major-General Ebenezer Oyefolu to 35 Artillery Brigade, Alamala, Abeokuta, Ogun State, revealed that some parcels of the land belonging to the Nigerian Army in the state might have been encroached on either by land grabbers or herdsmen. Vanguard gathered that the 35 Artillery Alamala Barracks had a very large expanse of land running into 50 acres that stretched from some part in Lafenwa, Abeokuta and ended at Alamala village along Ayetoro, Yewa North Local Government. It was further gathered that apart from the Army day secondary school and a cemetery in Lafenwa, some other parcels of the land from Lafenwa till Alamala village seem to have been taken over by land grabbers and others except the range and the barracks in Alamala. Miffed by the development, the new Brigade Commander of the 35 Artillery Alamala Barracks, Brigadier General Basil Adonkie took the step to prevent further encroachment of the Nigerian Army land in the area. The Brigade Commander facilitated the commissioning of some projects, which include ; reactivated boreholes, micro booster station reticulated water point and another borehole at Vulcan’s House, Abeokuta. He said that the authority of the Nigerian Army must be quickly exercised so as not to lose its lands to land speculators. Adonkie said the porosity had made the barracks prone to all manners of infiltrators that might want to take the advantage of the development to embarrass the Nigerian Army.
7. NAVAL RATINGS BATTER BAYELSA CIVIL SERVANT
No fewer than 10 men of the Nigerian Navy, attached to the NNS Soroh, Gwegwe, in the Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, have allegedly battered a civil servant with the Bayelsa State’s Board of Internal Revenue, Alexander Ebipadou. It was learnt that the naval ratings, led by one Seaman A.P. Adamu, were armed with daggers, horsewhips, sticks and belts, among other weapons. They reportedly pounced on Ebipadou, popularly known as Biggie, and beat him to a pulp over an offence he said he knew nothing about. PUNCH Metro gathered that the incident occurred on Friday, March 17, 2017, at about 7.30pm on Customs Street in the Biogbolo-Epie area of Yenagoa metropolis. The 22-year-old Ebipadou, a Business Administration graduate from the North American University, Republic of Benin, had reportedly gone to buy a bottle of soft drink when the naval personnel assaulted him. Eyewitnesses said earlier on the day, Adamu had fought with an unnamed boy in the area. They said the Seaman, a former driver of a former Flag Officer Commanding, Central Naval Command, identified only as Rear Admiral man-hood, came back in the evening with his colleagues and went berserk, beating youths they found in the area. One of the eyewitnesses said Ebipadou was pummelled until he became unconscious.
8. NIGERIAN NAVY DEPLOYS SHIPS, HELICOPTER FOR OBANGAME EXPRESS
A multi-national annual maritime Exercise nick named OBANGAME EXPRESS starts tomorrow 23 March 2017. The Exercise is sponsored by U.S Africa Command and is designed to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness, information-sharing practices and tactical interdiction expertise to enhance the collective capabilities of Gulf of Guinea and West African nations to counter sea-based illicit activity. The Exercise will be conducted in phases within the territorial waters of the participating nations. Thirty nations are scheduled to participate in this year’s exercise including Angola, Belgium, Benin, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, Equatorial Guinea, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Nigeria, Norway, Mauritania, Portugal, Republic of Congo, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Spain, South Africa, Togo, Turkey, the Netherlands, and the United States, along with regional organizations such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS). The Nigerian phase of Exercise OBANGAME EXPRESS is scheduled for 24 – 28 March 2017 and will be conducted in the nation’s waters. Nigerian Navy Ship OKPABANA, Nigerian Navy Ship CENTENARY, Nigerian Navy Ship SAGBAMA and 1 helicopter will be participating in the Exercise along with a French Navy ship, JACOUBET, which will sail into the Nigerian waters from Cameroon. The ships will perform several exercises as will be presented by the exercise scenario.
9. BOKO HARAM: FG SPENT $2.6BN ON HUMANITARIAN CRISIS IN 2016 – GEN OLONISAKIN
In 2016, Nigeria spent more than $2.6 billion to address humanitarian challenges caused by Boko Haram terrorists, Chief of Defence Staff, Abayomi Olonisakin has said. Olonisakin made this known at the meeting of the ‘global coalition working to defeat ISIS’ in Washington, DC, United States. “After over $2.6 billion was spent by the Nigerian government to address humanitarian needs in 2016, more needs were seen when areas were recovered from Boko Haram. “Many in this room joined us in Oslo, Norway, just last February to show support with Nigeria. “Coalition is fundamental. We, therefore, commend Secretary Rex Tillerson and President Donald Trump for remaining committed to fighting the global enemy of us all, terrorism.” The defence chief explained that Iraq’s story in the war against ISIS was similar to Nigeria’s story in the fight against Boko Haram. “This meeting, therefore, will further strengthen our collective resolve and determination to destroy and defeat ISIS. “To this end, Nigeria is prepared to work with the coalition in the pursuit of the first lines of efforts towards the realisation of the aims of the global coalition,” he said. He commended the steady progress made in Iraq, and Syria in denying ISIS access to territories and closing up their supply routes. The defence chief said it was, therefore, imperative that as part of the objectives of the meeting, global leaders consider the value of timely sharing of information and best practices on addressing cross-border threats. He also emphasised the need for mobilisation of resources for partners in the conflict and confronting violent extremist organisations with the digital battle space or cyberspace. He added that reshaping the public narratives around ISIS to one of failure, was also critical in the battle to defeat ISIS.
10. NIGER POLICE NAB ROBBERS, RECOVER COWS
THE Niger State Police Command has said it arrested suspected robbers in different parts of the state, including one Usman Yuguda who was on admission at the Federal Medical Centre, Bida. Yuguda was trailed and arrested by the Special Anti-robbery Squad, the Command Public Relations Officer, Bala Elkana, told the Northern City News on Thursday. Elkana said the suspect was arrested for being a member of a gang that attacked and killed 18-year old Salihu Amadu of Epogi village in Agaie Local Government Area. The spokesman said the operatives recovered from him one locally-made AK-47 rifle with three rounds of ammunition. The anti-robbery squad also recovered 28 cows from cattle rustlers in Kamache village forest in Munya Local Council of the state. According to him, the operation lasted for hours as the suspects abandoned the cows and escaped into the bush with bullet wounds. Similarly, a team of policemen on patrol reportedly arrested one Abubakar Mohammed of Beji Maikunkele at Gulu, Lapai Local Government Area with two locally-made pistols.