By Capt Hashim Abdullahi
1. MILITARY PREPARES 498 SOLDIERS FOR RETIREMENT IN OSHODI LAGOS
Four hundred and ninety-eight Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) of the Nigerian military were Tuesday inaugurated into a six months course preparatory for their retirement. The personnel, comprising 352 from the army, 130 Air Force and 16 navy would spend the next six months at the Nigerian Armed Forces Resettlement Centre (NAFRC) in Oshodi to learn different self-reliant skills. They would be taught business management skills, fashion design, shoe making, laundry, fine arts, photography, printing, soap making, agriculture, wood work, building and civil engineering works, electrical/electronics, fabrication as well as welding to help them re-integrate into civilian life and provide a source of living for them after retirement. Admitting the participants Tuesday, NAFRC Commandant, Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Ajibola Jekennu said the skills acquisition programmes were specifically designed to help build up profitable post-retirement ventures towards self-sustenance and integration into civil society with relative ease. He said: “Over the years, NAFRC has evolved from a rehabilitation centre for demobilised soldiers of the Nigerian Army, who were wounded in the Second World War and the civil war, to a resettlement centre, which today, prepares retiring servicemen, women of the Armed Forces of Nigeria for productive life after service.
2. NIGERIA: ARMY TRAINS SOLDIERS ON WEAPONS HANDLING, MAP READING
The Army Headquarters Garrison in Abuja on Monday began a five-day competition and general drill for corporals and ranks below. The drill involves marching manoeuvres, weapons handling, map reading, physical fitness and obstacle crossing. Speaking during the event, John Malu, the commander of the garrison, said weapons handling and map reading were very vital aspects of soldiering. He, therefore, charged the soldiers to take the training seriously. “I enjoin you to particularly take the weapons handling and map reading training very seriously because a soldier who cannot handle his weapon is not a soldier even though he is competent in other trades. “Our first and foremost concern is to know how to handle the weapons and I expect you to use this period to brush up your weapons handling skill if it has become rusty; same with your map reading ability. “You should be able to find your position, move from point to point and return to base. “That is the essence of soldiering,” the commander said. General Malu, further said that the training was a serious exercise as it was meant to re-awaken in the soldiers the military training they had undergone.
3. MONARCH WANTS RIVERS INDIGENES RECRUITED INTO NIGERIAN ARMY
The Chairman, Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers and Amanyanabo of Opobo Kingdom, King Dandeson Douglas Jaja, Jeki V, has expressed dismay over the lopsided recruitment into the Nigerian Army.
King Jaja stated this when the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Burutai paid the council a courtesy call at old Government House, Port Harcourt last Friday. According to him, the people of Rivers State have not had their fair share in the recruitment into the Nigerian Army, pointing out that, “Time was when we had Army officers from Rivers State”, but that it is unfortunate that the few left were retired at the last retirement exercise. Jaja insisted that Rivers people want to see that their sons and daughters are counted among officers of the Nigerian Army and occupying good positions. He noted with delight that within two years in office, Burutai has re-established professionalism in the Army as it had regained its primary position in Africa to the admiration of international community especially by checking Boko Haram insurgency and returning peace to the North-East and other flash-points in the North. King Jaja called on the federal government to recruit more able-bodied Nigerians to beef up the strength of the Army in defence of the country’s territorial integrity, and wished President Muhamadu Buhari speedy recovery. In an interactive session, the Amanyanabo of Kalabari, King T.O.T Princewill and the King of Ekpeye Land, Eze Robinson O. Robinson, in their separate speeches, called for the recruitment of more able-bodied men and women into the Army for them to defend the country and fight Boko Haram insurgence to a standstill.
4. CALL FOR BOKO HARAM PEACE TALKS MASKS ETHNIC TENSIONS
A group of community elders in northeast Nigeria where Boko Haram has waged a bloody eight-year insurgency are urging the Islamists to enter peace talks, a move some see as motivated by ethnic self-interest. The Borno Elders Forum of retired military and civilian officials, all ethnic Kanuri, said it was “time they (Boko Haram) put down their arms” and they should “repent and rejoin the larger society”. “If our leaders had the leeway to negotiate with the Boko Haram for the release of some of their captives, they should employ the same tactics to negotiate for the end of the insurgency,” they said in a newspaper advertisement last Friday. “The Government of Nigeria had earlier negotiated with the Niger Delta militants and succeeded. Let the Government do the same with Boko Haram.” President Muhammadu Buhari, a former army general, has given no sign of wanting to negotiate a settlement since he came to power in 2015. His government has, however, held back-channel talks that secured the release of more than 100 of the 219 Chibok schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram in 2014. But the call for negotiations by the elders of Borno state, where the Kanuri is the main ethnic group, has led to speculation that it is driven less by a desire for peace than by ethnic issues.
5. PRESIDENCY TO NIGERIANS: IGNORE DASUKI’S CLAIM ON BOKO HARAM
The Presidency yesterday denied claims by former National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd), which maintained that the Goodluck Jonathan administration cleared the Northeast of Boko Haram terrorists to make elections possible in 2015. A statement by the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said the remark was untrue and should be dismissed. According to him, the claim was another attempt to rewrite the history of Nigeria. He said: “The superlative claims by the former National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki that the Goodluck Jonathan administration cleared the Northeast of Boko Haram terrorists to make elections possible in 2015 is untrue and should be dismissed as an attempt to deceive Nigerians with blatant lies. “The claim as contained in a new book by a journalist is just another unfortunate attempt by inglorious Nigerians to rewrite the history of our country in such a way as to cover the sins of the past.
6. SEARCH FOR MILITANTS: WOMEN, CHILDREN TRAPPED IN DELTA FOREST
Following the military siege to Ijaw communities in Delta and Bayelsa states over the killing of a soldier, last weekend, the leadership of Bilabiri community in Ekeremor Local Government Area of Bayelsa State has said that the suspected militants were not from the community. Similarly, Peoples Development Initiative, IPDI, A rights group, yesterday, appealed to the Nigerian Army to lift the siege to the waterways of Letugbene, Bilibiri, Amatu and other riverine communities in Bayelsa and Delta states, saying that many women and children were still trapped in the forest and denied access to food, five days after soldiers barricaded the waterways in search of suspected militants that killed a soldier, last Thursday. Chairman of Bilabiri Community Development Committee, CDC, Mr Ebimobowei Deboh, in a statement in Yenagoa, while reacting to insinuation in some quarters that some of the perpetrators are from the community, said that the community has no militant camp as they do not harbour criminals and militants. Deboh, who called on the security agencies to carry out their investigations properly with a view to fishing out the perpetrators where ever they maybe, however, appealed to the military authorities to resist the temptation to invade the community under the guise of searching for the militants.
7. TWO BRIGADE NIGERIAN ARMY HOSTS COMPETITION
Six Division Warrant Officers and Senior Non-Commissioned Officers competition has commenced at Wellington Bassey Barracks, Ibagwa, in Akwa Ibom State. This year’s event, which is hosted by 2 Brigade Nigerian Army, Akwa Ibom State, will continue till Friday this week. According to the Assistant Director, Army Public Relations, Capt. Umar Shuaib, troops of 2 Brigade Nigerian Army Uyo, 16 Brigade Nigerian Army, Yenagoa and 6 Division Garrison Port Harcourt, will compete for honours in many aspects of their profession.
8. NORTH EAST: NIGERIAN MILITARY LIBERATED OVER 25 TOWNS DURING JONATHAN, NEW BOOK REVEALS
The newly-released book “Boko Haram Media War: An Encounter with the Spymaster”, has listed over twenty-five major towns and cities recaptured by the Nigerian military during the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan before the final handover to President Mohammed Buhari. The book, authored by Yushau Shuaib, revealed: “At the twilight of Jonathan’s administration when Sambo Dasuki was the National Security Adviser, dozens of towns and cities in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states were recovered and confirmed with video and pictorial evidence through military press releases. “Some of the liberated towns include, but not limited to: Abadam, Askira, Baga, Bama, Bara, Buni Yadi, Damboa, Dikwa, Gamboru-Ngala, Goniri, Gujba, Gulag, Gulani, Gwoza, Hong, Kala Balge, Konduga, Kukawa, Marte, Madagali, Michika, Monguno, Mubi, Vimtim among other communities with pictorial and video evidences provided by the Defence Headquarters. “In one day alone, April 30, 2015, at least 234 abductees (women and children) were rescued by the military who had stormed sections of the Sambisa Forest. “A clear testimony to some of the accomplishments was the official DHQ release dated March 16, 2015, with reference No: DHQ/ABJ/901/32/DDI and titled: “Troops Finally Rout Terrorists from Bama and Last Stronghold in Yobe.” The book in other sections, revealed glowing tributes paid to detained former National Security Adviser (NSA) Sambo Dasuki by some current top officers of the Buhari administration.
9. WE WERE BRAINWASHED, SAY REPENTANT BOKO HARAM TERRORISTS
Four Boko Haram terrorists have surrendered to the troops of the Nigerian Army in Goniri, Borno State, saying they were brainwashed by terrorist leaders to commit heresy against Islam and to take up arms against the army. One of our correspondents learnt that the terrorists on Monday emerged from a desert and surrendered to troops of 120 Task force Battalion in Goniri. According to the army, one of the four terrorists is a high-profile member identified as Konto Fanami, who led Boko Haram terrorists operating along Ajigin-Talala-Mungusum road. During interrogation, Fanami said, “We abandoned the terrorists because of incessant hardship. We realised we were being misled by the leaders. We were erroneously informed and brainwashed about Islam, the military and the society in general.” The Director, Army Public Relations, Brig Gen Sani Usman, said the military wished that other terrorists would surrender to the troops as “humane treatment” would be given to them. He said, “We call on those remnants of Boko Haram terrorists to follow suit and renounce the devilish creed. Adequate arrangement has been made to receive all those who voluntarily renounce terrorism and surrender themselves. They will be treated humanely.” Meanwhile, the United Nations and National Emergency Management Agency are collaborating to create awareness and stem cases of sexual violence at internally displaced persons camps. The two bodies, towards reducing the vulnerability of women/girls in camps and non-camp locations, have organised a four-day capacity-building workshop on strengthening state response to sexual and gender-based violence in humanitarian setting with the theme, ‘Needs and justification in addressing gender-based violence in humanitarian situations.
10. POLICE, AIR FORCE CLASH IN DELTA
It was a war-like scene at Jeddo in Okpe Local Government Area of Delta State as operatives of the Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU) of the police and personnel of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) engaged each other in a gun duel over an alleged assault on the daughter of an officer. THISDAY findings revealed that the exchange of the gun battle, which lasted for several hours, forced residents to escape into the bush due to the only one route to the community. Several people, it was gathered, sustained various degrees of injuries as they struggled to escape from the exchanges of flying bullets from both the air force and the police. Security sources told THISDAY that the incident, which occurred on Monday night, started when an argument ensued between a CTU operative and a lady which resulted in the policeman slapping her. Unknown to the policeman, the lady is a daughter of an air force personnel who returned home and reported the incident to her father. It was gathered that the angry air force officer mobilised his colleagues and stormed the scene where the policeman, realising later that the girl is a daughter of an officer, also reinforced his men to counter provocation.