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Lest We Forget … Whither Jos Murderers?



24051003It is gradually assuming the pedigree of a  norm in Nigeria, to loudly condemn mass murders, politically motivated killing, especially of journalists and senseless bloodletting; assure the usually believing Nigerians that culprits will be brought to book and pronto, its business as usual.

Let me not bore readers with the long chronicle of such unresolved murders, which include Chief Aminasoari Kala-Dikibo, until his untimely murder, National Vice Chariman, South-South of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Marshal Harry, Dikibo’s counterpart in the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Chief Bola Ige, then Attorney-General and Minister for Justice among many others. Need I mention the novelty of a parcel bomb which cut-short the eventful life of the founding Editor-In-Chief of Newswatch Magazine in 1986, Mr. Dele Giwa?

Long after these, no fewer than five journalists have been murdered in cold blood and like the rest before them, earned merely the familiar national rose on their graves- assurances that no effort would be spared to fish out their killers and make such criminals face the full weight of the law.

But my worry today, is not so much about these isolated deaths grounded on the mindlessness of hired assassins, and common criminals, not so much because society ought to feel such losses any less but the Jos debacle has become urgent because of the fear of greater mayhem should the nation’s loud silence continue and as usual let inaction become a norm.

So recurrent and with a high degree of human losses, unless the lingering ethno-religious intolerance that has  for years now, resulted in mass murder of defenceless men, women and children, is addressed and in a timely and decisive manner, there’s no telling when, Nigeria’s once most peaceful city will boil again.

This is because, after all the hue and cry, following the March 8, 2010 massacre of more than 350 people, mostly Christians, Nigerians were told of some arrests and likely trial. Never lacking in fresh agenda, the controversy over Late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s health and the need for a Goodluck Jonathan Acting Presidency, soon took centre stage and since then, very little of nothing is today being heard of the Jos killer squad and the need for justice.

On the said Sunday, a supposed sacred day of worship for all Christians, including, of course inhabitants of Jos, Plateau State, Hausa-Fulani fighters, believed to be Moslem fundamentalists had attacked Dogo Na-Hawa, Ratsat and Jeji villages, all in Foron District of Jos South Local Government Area of the state, leaving behind some 350 dead, most of them women and children.

That senseless massacre had taken place at a time when a dusk-to-dawn curfew was in place, thus creating the suspicion and rightly so, that the invaders enjoyed some form of patronage from the vigilant Joint Military Task Force assembled to check the growing unrest in the city.

Of course that aspect of the blame game took more urgent preference over the human casualties and the need to find the murderers and lay a solid foundation for lasting peace and harmonious co-existence, which only truth and reconciliation, many believe, can guarantee.

At that time, even then Vice President Jonathan ordered various military establishments to take over the security of the state, with assurance that the federal government would do everything within its power, to not merely fish out the killers but address, in a lasting manner, the issues responsible for the near frequent recurrence of large scale unrest that have rubbished, in unimaginable degrees the ambrosia of Jos city.

Expectedly, all Nigerians seemed united behind the Federal Government, in hope that the March 8, 2010 episode would be the last. I did not and still don’t believe so, because of the apparent silence that has now replaced the enthusiasm and drive that followed the killings, as is usually the case.

On Monday, March 22, this year, this column had warned against the traditional choice of sweeping under the carpet, the events of that dark Sunday. Titled, In This Place of Horror: Tears For The Warning Ambrosia Of Jos, that work attempted a chronicle of earlier killings which attracted little or no action, and which apparently served as a potent incentive for the senseless killings and desecration of a Christian’s day of worship.

For instance, between September 7, and 17, 2007, when the first ethno-religious riot occurred in Jos, in which more than 1,000 persons were killed not a single soul has, to date been punished for such inhumanity to fellow humans.

Naturally, because none was punished for the crime, barely three years later in 2004, the Plateau boiled again. That time, after clashes, in Yelwa, more than 500 were again killed, but the best then President Olusegun Obasanjo could do was to declare a state of emergency, the type which was in place before the March 8, 2010 debacle took place, that claimed 350 lives.

Again, since 500 lives were not worth quarrelling over, hiding under laughable council election disputes, same traditional master-minds of the near recurrent Jos mayhem struck less than a year after claiming more 700 lives. Expectedly, nothing tangible was done except the familiar rhetorics and near pretentious condemnations.

As if begging for more blood, years later in January, this year a minor dispute over a plot of land reportedly claimed another 350 lives although that state government was economical with the true figure of human casualties.

Regrettably, those expected to act did nothing even after the Ajibola Commission had, in fact, investigated the matter and submitted its report, in which very influential politicians and members of the Obasanjo Presidency, were indicted.

It was killings of the nature and government’s seeming helplessness in checking the frequent ethno-religious disturbances in the North, that might have pushed former Libyan strongman, Muammar Gaddafi to suggest the break-up of Nigeria along religious lines, as was the case between India and Pakistan.

As would be expected, all especially, those who Nigerians had depended upon to act, but who didn’t, quickly decided to feast on the Libyan in apparent display of love for and faith in our phoney unity, no matter how fragile it seemed.

Of course, that controversy at once took precedence over the deaths which were begging for vengeance and the truth of their circumstance, which only justice cold have easily guaranteed.

What is the position of the police investigation, arrests and eventual prosecution? Are we to expect justice or accept the familiar, pick and charge to court, the wrong suspects, build a weak case around them and leave a dutiful judge with no other option than to discharge and acquit the accused persons for lack of evidence?

Now is the time for both the state, and the police to convince Nigerians that human life is still sacred and that like all reasonable governments, ours also value lives of her citizens. Silence will not do, neither would the focus on other political issues.

The security of lives and property of the citizenry should be paramount to any good government, and the Jos example should be used as a launching pad towards proving the desired change of attitude.

My Agony is that now, it is already business as usual in Jos, with a kind of peace that is more dangerous than war. It is the peace of the graveyard.


Soye Wilson Jamabo

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RSHA Donates One-Month Salary To Fight COVID-19 …As FG, Govs Agree On More Palliatives For Nigerians



Members of the Rivers State House of Assembly, yesterday, resolved to collectively donate their one-month salary to assist the state government fight the spread of the novel Coronavirus pandemic in the state.
In a press conference in Port Harcourt, yesterday, the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Rt Hon Ikuinyi-Owaji Ibani, said that the members arrived at the decision after an interface with officials of the Ministry of Health on the concerted fight against Coronavirus.
He said: “Based on this feedback so far received from the joint committee on the proactive and preventive measures put in place by the State Security Council headed by the Rivers State governor, and bearing in mind that as responsible representatives of our various constituencies, we resolved that one month salary of all members of the Rivers State House of Assembly be deducted by the Ministry of Finance and remitted to the committee set up to fight Coronavirus in the state.
“This sacrifice by members is not to the exclusion of other individual contributions of members in their respective constituencies to ameliorate the shocks associated with the pandemic.
“We restate our commitment to the fight against Coronavirus pandemic and our full support of all efforts and actions taken by the Rivers State Government to keep our people safe and healthy.”
The speaker further added that members took the decision bearing in mind that as responsive and responsible representatives, they cannot turn their back on the yearnings of the people.
He also clarified that the decision was based on the feedback from Standing Committees on Health and Information mandated to interface with the Ministry of Health and other agencies set up by the state government.
Ikuinyi-Owaji was flanked by principal officers of the House, including the Deputy Speaker, Hon Edison Ehie, and other prominent members at the briefing.
Meanwhile, the Special Committee of the National Economic Council on COVID-19 has its second meeting as it continues its task of coordinating the federal and state governments’ responses to the impact of COVID-19 on Nigerians.
The NEÇ Committee meeting, presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, agreed to finalise its work towards developing additional measures to alleviate the challenges being faced by Nigerians because of the implications of the global pandemic in the country.
Present alongside the Vice President at the meeting held via videoconference anchored from the Presidential Villa are Governors Kayode Fayemi, Ekiti; Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, Kaduna; Abdullahi Sule, Nasarawa; Mohammed Abubakar, Jigawa; Godwin Obaseki, Edo; David Umahi, Ebonyi; Dapo Abiodun, Ogun; and Atiku Bagudu, Kebbi.
According to the VP’s Spokesman, Laolu Akande, the meeting was also attended by the Finance Minister, Hajiya Zainab Ahmed; and the Director-General of the Budget Office, Mr. Ben Akabueze; among several other top officials.
The NEC Committee received the report of its Technical Working Group which proposed an array of policy options and recommendations on how federal, state and local governments can bring relief to the people and take other adequate measures in containing and responding to the adverse economic effects of the pandemic.
Speaking at the meeting, the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, emphasized the importance of the assignment and the urgency required, asking that public enlightenment and sensitization on the seriousness of the pandemic should be further intensified at all government levels so that more and more Nigerians would become aware of the compelling and critical dimensions of the situation.
He assured the governors that the Federal Government is already packaging further resources for a comprehensive economic response to alleviate the challenges of the pandemic, support the states and provide succour to Nigerians in a timely and effective manner.
He disclosed that the newly created Economic Sustainability Committee (ESW), constituted by the President will also be meeting this week to start its work and respond to the situation appropriately.

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IPMAN Kicks Against Fuel Price Reduction To N123.50



The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association (IPMAN), yesterday, kicked against the N123.50 new fuel pump price announced by the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) effective April 1, saying that its members would not comply with the adjustment until they have exhausted their old stocks.
This was as it says that its members incurred losses to the tune of N5.5billion from the N125.50 price adjustment from N145 per litre barely two weeks ago.
The Chairman, Kano branch of IPMAN, Alhaji Bashir Danmalam, stated this while speaking with newsmen in the state on the development of the new N123.50 pump price.
It would be recalled that the Federal Government reduced the price from N145 to N125 and now to N123.50, yesterday.
Danmalam said, “the last time the Federal Government reduced the pump price of the product from N145 per litre to N125 per litre, our members nationwide lost over N5.5billion as a result of the sudden reduction.
“We called on the government to compensate or support our members who incurred the huge losses due to the sudden reduction in fuel pump price but nothing was given to us.
“But to our surprise, the private depot’s owners were paid but none of our members was supported to cushion the losses they incurred. This time around we will not sell our product at that price until the old stocks are exhausted. We will not continue to operate at loss.
“Apart from the Federal Government, IPMAN is the largest employer of labour in the country and we cannot afford to continue to support the government at this trying time while as business people we are operating at loss.
“Even though we are happy with the new development and the Federal Government should be commended for the gesture but the government should consider the fact that no sane marketer or businessman will continue operating his/her business at loss.
“Before the last announcement, many of our members have already bought and loaded their vehicles with the product at old prices from Lagos, Port Harcourt and Warri and we spend five to seven days before reaching our destinations. So, we are not going to sell the product at the new price until we sell the old stocks.
“The management of the PPPRA should be accused of trying to sabotage the Federal Government’s efforts to ensure sustained fuel supply and distribution across the country through some policies that could plunge the sector into a serious crisis.
“We would not hesitate to ask our members to withdraw their services should any filling station of its member is closed for not selling at the new pump price of N123.50 per litre.
“We hope the Federal Government will see reason and come to the aid of our members as it supported private depots because our members will not continue to operate at loss,” Danmalam stated.
Earlier, the Federal Government, had further slashed the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), also known as petrol, to N123.50 per litre, with effect from April 1, 2020, from N125 per litre. The new price, which would last throughout the month of April, was coming on the back of a continuous decline in the price of crude oil in the international market.
In a statement in Abuja, Tuesday night, Executive Secretary of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), Mr. Abdulkadir Saidu, stated that the new price was in line with the approval of the Federal Government for a monthly review of the price of petrol.
He said, “PPPRA, in line with the government approval for a monthly review of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) pump price, hereby announces Guiding PMS pump price of N123.50 per Litre.
“The Guiding price which becomes effective 1st April, 2020, shall apply at all retail outlets nationwide for the month of April, 2020.
“PPPRA and other relevant regulatory agencies shall continue to monitor compliance to extant regulations for a sustainable downstream petroleum sector. Members of the public and all oil marketing companies are to be guided accordingly.”
The Federal Government had on March 18, announced a reduction in the price of fuel from N145 per litre to N125 per litre.
Hours after the announcement of the reduction, the PPPRA explained that there is the possibility of a new price regime for the commodity from April 1, noting that the new N125 per litre pump price would last till the end of March, 2020.
Addressing newsmen in Abuja, Executive Secretary, PPPRA, Mr. Abdulkadir Saidu, had stated that the agency would be undertaking a review of PMS price, and would announce a new price for the commodity, April 1, 2020, if there is a change in the parameters used in determining the current price.
He noted that the price announced Wednesday, March 18, 2020, would apply till March 31, 2020, and a new price might come into effect after the review, adding that henceforth, PPPRA would be undertaking a review of petroleum products prices on a monthly basis.

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We Won’t Allow COVID-19 Spread Into Prisons -FG



The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, has assured that the ministry is doing everything necessary to see to it that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) does not spread into Nigerian prisons.
He also explained the reason for the disruption at the Kaduna State Prison on Tuesday, assuring that it was effectively managed and that it would not repeat itself in the system.
The noted that while making efforts to keep people in detention safe from the disease, government was also being careful not to resort to a measure that might put the larger society in danger, specifically speaking about the suggestion being made that the custodial centres be decongested.
”The congested custodial facilities are in some of our urban centres – not all urban centres though – they are in areas where you have a huge population of people and understandably those who have the cause to be detained are more than the facilities we have, particularly the awaiting-trial persons.
“I can assure you that all efforts, all actions required to ensure that there’s no occurrence or spread of COVID-19 in any of those custodial centres, are being made.
“I spoke about Kaduna yesterday (Tuesday); there was a mild disturbance in Kaduna yesterday (Tuesday) and it was put under control. It happened because the inmates in the condemned section were anxious to know the outcome of our efforts to decongest some of the centres and they became agitated.
“It was put down without any casualty and I want to believe that, having been handled, information has gone round the commands to appraise the inmates of the efforts we are making, to see that the approval given by the president is effected very soon.
“I must add that what we are trying to do cannot be done by us as the Federal Government alone. More than 80% of the inmates in the awaiting trial group are from the states; they are state offenders.
“We are, therefore, working with the state governments, along with our own system, to break down the profile basis of incarceration in terms of detention and several other factors to ensure that if at all people will be released, they will be released without jeopardising the security of the nation. We are, therefore, careful and sensitive on the steps we take, even with the threats of COVID-19.
“I must add this because it is important, the NJC has been of tremendous help. By the middle of last week, NJC issued a directive to all courts in Nigeria to suspend trials that could lead to any detention in the custodial service.
“I must equally commend the directive from the IGP to all police formations in the country to release offenders or suspects detained on minor offences and that will go a long way in ensuring social distancing and reduction of detainees in those centres so as to ensure that occurrence of COVID-19 infection and the spread will be reduced, if not eliminated.”
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, while addressing some questions raised by journalists, said the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) had directed all cable television service providers to leave all local channels as free service to their subscribers, even when subscriptions had yet to be renewed during this period. He said this was meant to make the public adequately informed.
He also said he had been informed, after consultations with coordinators of bankers services, that all banks had been permitted to open for services across the country while the restrictions last.
On the operations of construction companies, he said the Minister of Works and Housing had approved the suspension of all ongoing construction works across the country till April 20th, explaining that the suspension was meant to allow for social distancing.

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