As a result of the current crisis in Jos, capital of Plateau State, the Rivers State government says it has commenced evacuation of its citizens from the area.
In a statement, the State Information and Communications Commissioner, Mrs. Ibim Semeniari said that so far about 250 indigenes of the State have been moved back to the State.
According to the statement, those evacuated comprised mainly students, Youth Corpers of Rivers State origin and others who may want to come home as a result of the killings in Jos.
The release which said that the Rivers Sate government is prepared to evacuate as many Rivers people as would indicate interest to return home with their families as a result of the crisis, described the situation in Jos as unfortunate as it has once again brought untold hardship to not only indigenes of Plateau State, but indeed the entire country.
It however reiterated the determination of the Amaechi-led administration to protect the lives and property of its citizens anywhere in the country and internationally no matter the cost, provided such citizens live and do their business within the confines of the law wherever they are domiciled.
Charred bodies with scorched hands reaching skyward lay in the streets and a mosque with blackened minarets smoldered Wednesday after several days of fighting between Christians and Muslims killed more than 200 people, according to reports..
There are conflicting accounts about what unleashed the bloodshed. According to the state police commissioner, skirmishes began after Muslim youths set a Christian church ablaze, but Muslim leaders denied that. Other community leaders say it began with an argument over the rebuilding of a Muslim home in a predominantly Christian neighborhood that had been destroyed in November 2008.
Corinne Dufka, senior West Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch, said what caused the latest spark was beside the point. The deeper problem, she said, is the government’s failure to address underlying conflict in the region.
After similar bouts of violence in the past, Nigerian authorities have “come up with analysis, but they don’t respond properly with concrete measures and policies,” Dufka said.
More than 13,500 Nigerians have died in sectarian violence in the last decade, and at least 2,500 people had been killed in Plateau state alone since 2001, according to Human Rights Watch. Dufka said no one has been held accountable, leading to a climate of impunity.
“It’s not just the perpetrators who often murdered people in horrific ways who have not been held accountable, but also the political leaders and sometimes the religious leaders that foment violence, as well as the security forces who’ve used excessive force to respond to it.”
Authorities imposed a 24-hour curfew, but on Wednesday people could been seen walking around the center of the city. When an army convoy passed, they stopped and raised their hands above their heads to show they were not a threat.
“We want the government to come and help us,” said Abdullahi Ushman, who said he had seen rioters attacking people with firearms and bows and arrows.
Plateau State governor Jonah Jang said the violence was not provoked by a lack of opportunity in this rural farming community. He claimed many of the attackers were from Muslim-dominant northern Nigeria and from the nearby, predominantly Muslim nations of Niger and Chad.
“There are people masterminding this for their own selfish reasons,” said Jang, who is Christian.
The Minister of Police Affairs, Ibrahim Yakubu Lame, issued a statement Tuesday blaming the violence on “some highly placed individuals in the society who were exploiting the ignorance and poverty of the people to cause mayhem in the name of religion.”
The chief of Army staff, Lt. Gen. Abdulrahman Danbazau, confirmed accounts that some residents had been dragged out of their homes and shot by men dressed in what appeared to be army uniforms.
However, following the deployment of troops to quell the religious crisis in Jos, Plateau State, the federal government has warned trouble makes and those responsible for the mayhem to desist or face the full wrath of the law.
The warning came in a national broadcast made by Vice President Goodluck Jonathan over the crisis yesterday.
The Vice president who expressed shock over the spate of killing and destruction said the federal government cannot fold its arm and watch people take the law into their hands.
According to vice president Jonathan those arrested in the course of the crisis would be brought to justice no matter who was involved.
His words; “we would not hide anyone who hides under the canopy of crowd action to elude justice… the federal government is determined to secure the conviction of the perpetrators of this crime no matter how highly placed”.
He assured Nigerians that the federal government is on top of the situation and has the capacity to put the crisis under control by preserving the lives and properties of the citizenry irrespective of their ethnic and religious affiliation.
The vice president equally assured foreign nationals residing in the state of government protection saying that the government had convened high powered security meetings to study the situation.
One Year Anniversary: Governor Wike Sues For Unity
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has called on Rivers people no matter their political affiliation to join hands with his administration to build a stable and vibrant economy.
In a state-wide broadcast to mark the first year of his second term in office today, Governor Wike noted that the state can overcome the present global economic situation if citizens come together in unity of thought and purpose.
“Yes, we can if we resolve to downplay our individual differences and work together for the common good of our heritage, our lovely State, our communities and our people. As a government, we welcome constructive criticisms devoid of politics and mischief, because they serve to make us better performers.
“This is a time for governance, not politics, and we welcome everyone on board to create an environment that promotes balanced economic growth, thriving private investments, boundless opportunity and a State we can truly call our pride and heritage.
“For us, nothing matters more than Rivers State, our people, our interests, our treasures, our enormous resources and assets, our accomplishments and our greatness,” he stated.
The Governor pointed out that within the last one year, his administration had embarked on urban renewal programme in the State capital and the construction of the multi-billion naira three flyover projects at Rebisi, Okoro-nu-Odo and Rumuogba.
He said that the dualization of Kira- Sapkenwa-Bori-Kono Road straddling three local government areas in Ogoni heartland has reached 92 percent completion.
The Oyibo(Mbano camp) road to Iriebe linking Oyigbo and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas had been completed while Alesa-Agbonchia-Oyigbo, Rumuakunde/Isiodu and the second phase of Isiokpo community Roads had also been completed.
Rumuji-Ibaa-Isiokpo, Omoku-Egbema, Odufor-Akpoku-Umuoye, Ula Ehuda-Odioku-Anwunugboko-Ubeta-Ihuechi-Odiereke, Umueze-Umuogba-Umuokpurukpu-Umueke-Umunju-Umuelechi-Eberi, Eteo-Sime-Nonwa and Abonnema Ring Roads have reached various stages of completion.
In addition, the governor said, work has commenced on the expansion of the entire stretch of Ikwerre Road from Education Bus Stop to the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa.
According to him, the long abandoned roads to the coastal communities of Opobo and Andoni in Opobo/Nkoro and Andoni Local Government Areas has almost been delivered with appreciable work already done on the Ogoni-Andoni-Opobo Unity Road.
On healthcare delivery, the governor said the Mother and Child Hospital has been furnished, equipped and only undergoing necessary testing and preparations for commissioning.
The Braithwaite Memorial Hospital, he said, has been fully equipped and converted to the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH) leading to the accreditation of the programmes of that facility for the training of medical students by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria.
Governor Wike stated that the regional referral hospitals in Degema, Bori and Degema are presently being equipped while structural work is on-going on the ones located in Omoku and Etche.
The State Chief Executive pointed out that funds had been released for comprehensive upgrade of Enitonnia High School, Comprehensive Secondary School, Borikiri, Obama High School, Degema, Community Secondary School, Tombia, Community Secondary School, Omuanwa in Ikwerre Local Government Area and Kalabari National College, Buguma.
Others include, Community Secondary School, Kugbo in Abua/Odual Local Government, Community Secondary School, Obeakpu in Oyigbo Local Government and Community Secondary School, Eteo in Eleme Local Government Area.
On Real Madrid Academy, Governor Wike announced that the construction of students’ hostels is progressing and that the school would soon open for simultaneous football and related training programmes.
He said in line with the promise to refocus on agricultural development, the Datco Cassava Processing Plant with a guaranteed off-market opportunities for 3000 local cassava farmers would soon be completed to stimulate cassava revolution in the state.
The governor regretted that despite the advisories and regulations on social distancing and compulsory wearing of face masks, most residents are flouting the directives to the collective peril of all.
“These are all irresponsible and risky behaviour in the face of the invisible and ravaging pandemic and the enormous threat it poses to public health and the safety of human lives.
“We shall bring the full weight of the law to bear on every recalcitrant person, business or institution, irrespective of status who decides to treat the existing orders and regulations for mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in our State with contempt.
“Government may be forced to reinstate lockdown if members of the public continue to flout and disregard the established regulations on social distancing and the compulsory wearing of face masks,” he said.
Governor Wike however, commiserated with the families of those that lost their loved ones to the pandemic and prayed for the peaceful repose of their innocent souls.
He said that while we pray for the quick success, for the global search, for vaccines, the responsibility still rests on everyone to strictly comply with the established mitigating measures.
A Statewide Broadcast By His Excellency Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, CON, GSSRS, POS, To Mark The First Year Of His Second Term In Office …My Dear Good People of Rivers State
Rivers State Set To Inaugurate Cassava Plant …To Employ 4,500 Persons
The Rivers State Cassava Processing Company located at Afam, Oyigbo Local Government Area will soon come on stream.
Governor Nyesom Wike who stated this Thursday after inspecting the plant, pointed out that the company when fully operational would employ 4,500 persons and also boost agriculture in the state.
He stated that the State Government has 70 percent equity share in the project which is in partnership with Shell Petroleum Development Company(SPDC) of Nigeria.
“We are quite happy that this project which was initiated by the previous administration in 2012 and abandoned has come to the stage of completion.
“When we came on board and saw the usefulness of this project to our economy, we did not hesitate to release funds to complete it.
“As you can see this project which is about 90 percent complete would have been commissioned this month if not for the COVID-19 pandemic which has negatively impacted global economy.
“Let me commend the management of this plant for fast-tracking the completion and the novel initiative that will use mobile machines to collect cassava from the farmers at their various clusters.
“This, will no doubt, reduce the challenge of logistics and increase farmer participation, ” the governor stated.
Earlier, the Managing Director of the Rivers State Cassava Processing Company, Ruben Giesen noted that the cassava processing plant when completed would increase income for small holder farmers by providing an enabling environment for them to sell their cassava tubers.
He also disclosed that the plant would produce about 45 thousand metric tons of cassava flour daily while about 12 thousand metric tons of cassava tubers would be needed for collection by its mobile plants from farmers around the state for processing.
Mr. Giesen commended the State Governor for embarking on the project, which he described as the first of its kind in sub-saharan Africa.
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