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Ex-Militant Leaders Meet Jonathan

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President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday assured ex-militants that the Federal Government was committed to the implementation of the amnesty programme and total transformation of the region.

Jonathan said this when he received the ex-militants who visited him at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on solidarity over the October 1 twin-bomb blasts in Abuja.

The president, who received the former militants alongside Vice-President Namadi Sambo, said the “little hitches’’ hampering the implementation of the programme would be resolved very soon.

Jonathan said: “I sincerely appreciate your coming to tell, not only Nigerians, but the world what you stand for.

“As somebody who is also from the Niger Delta, I have a fair knowledge of the oil industry and the evolution of the Niger Delta issues.

“ I want to plead with you that even though like most programmes, we might have hitches, but I want to assure you that the government is actually committed.

“‘By God’s grace, most of these little hitches will be resolved.”

The president wondered why anyone would choose the jubilee celebration of the nation to express misgivings, if at all there was any.

He said the visit by the group had further confirmed the position that it was not a militant group, MEND, that was the mastermind of the attack, but a terrorist group sponsored from outside the country.

“I am happy that you are here because I am from there and I know all the actors and leadership of MEND.

“I am happy that you have told Nigerians and the rest of the world that it is not MEND that did it,’’ he said.

Jonathan said the bomb incident had “opened the eyes of the government’’ on how to improve on security network to forestall future recurrence.

“He thanked the ex-militants for their pledge to work with government to expose the perpetrators of the blasts.

“I want to thank you for coming to reassure us and pledge with the government to help it unearth some of these issues,’’ he said.

Our correspondent reports that the ex-militants numbering more than 90, in one voice dissociated themselves from the bombing.

They also promised to work with the Federal Government to fish out those who were the mastermind of the dastardly act.

The group also noted that the name “Gbomo Jomo’’ is a pseudo name that did not exist and could be used by anybody that has access to the group’s password.

Notable ex-militant leaders in attendance include Alhaji Mujahedeen Asari Dokubo, Chief Government Ekpomolo (Tompolo) and Ebikabowe Victor (Boyloaf).

Ateke Tom, Comrade Fara Dagogo, Shoot At Sight, Eberi Papa and Buster Ryme were also in attendance.

Boyloaf told the audience that MEND was not responsible for the condemnable act.

“We have disarmed. We say so to the world, these people claiming that they are MEND are impersonating.

“It is a terrorist act. The people responsible for the act should be dealt with accordingly,” he said.

Tompolo, who is the overall Commander of MEND, corroborated Boyloaf that MEND was not responsible for the act.

“I am the leader of MEND. We are not part of the incident of October 1. MEND is not involved. I am the owner of MEND.

“We are going to work with you to save this country for everyone,” he said.

The President of Ijaw Youth Council, Kuromiema Mabiye, who led the group, described the act as “dastardly irresponsible and morally reprehensible’’.

Alhaji Mahajeed Asari Dokubo, the Leader of the Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force, described the action as heinous and condemnable.

He denied the involvement of any of the genuine agitators from the region in the incident.

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GoG: Nigerian, Ghanaian Navies Meet On Joint Operations

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Against the backdrop of renewed piracy and hostage-taking incidents in the Gulf of Guinea, Nigeria’s Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo and his Ghanaian counterpart, Rear Admiral Issah Adam Yakubu, have commenced a security engagement aimed at joint security initiatives to tackle the situation.
Speaking during the meeting held at Naval headquarters, Abuja, Vice Admiral Gambo said, “The Gulf of Guinea is currently bedevilled by the activities of criminal elements who take advantage of limited capability of the navies in the region to adequately secure the area.
“The threat posed by the activities of these criminal elements constitute a major challenge not only to the littoral states but equally undermines regional development and global trade.
“Notably, the trans-boundary and trans-national nature of maritime crime makes the security of the maritime domain a task beyond the capacity of any country acting alone.
“It is against this backdrop that this bilateral engagement was convened at the instance of the Heads of Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Republic of Ghana towards addressing the maritime security challenges within the region”.
Vice Admiral Gambo expressed belief that “the engagement would foster greater collaboration and burden sharing that is hinged on cooperative maritime security framework as envisioned in the 2013 Yaoundé Protocol to arrive at strategies that would help address the maritime insecurity for enhanced economic prosperity in the region”.
Declaring the technical session open, the CNS said, “In deliberations, please consider amongst others: maritime area of interest covering Zone E and integration of the capabilities of the countries in Zone E, emplacing a robust intelligence sharing mechanism and collaboration with international partners”.
On relations between both countries, Gambo said, “This good relation is equally manifest in the several interactions between the Nigerian Navy and Ghana Navy. I must not fail to mention the remarkable contributions of the Ghana Navy-CNS to manpower development during his tour of duty at the prestigious AFCSC, Jaji as a member of the Directing Staff. I have no doubt that this engagement would further strengthen the existing cordial bilateral relations between Nigeria and Ghana navies.
In his address, Chief of Naval Staff of Ghana, Rear Admiral Issah Yakubu, noted that he and his delegation were in Nigeria at the behest of President Nana Akufo Ado to engage the Nigerian Navy and come out with collective strategies to tackle insecurity which is in the ascendancy in recent times in the Gulf of Guinea.
“We hope our navies will buy into this engagement to improve security in the Gulf of Guinea. We know our big brother Nigeria has bigger capacity to chart the way forward”.
He disclosed that, “Since year 2020, the situation has bot been good in the Gulf of Guinea”, noting that “Last May, two Ghanian vessels were attacked and 10 persons were abducted with investigations still ongoing”.
Consequently, the Ghanian Navy Chief said, “We are proposing an ECOWAS naval task force and joint maritime security architecture to checkmate these threats, adding that this was done in the past successfully during ECOMOG operations without problems with inter-operability and doctrinal issues.
Furthermore, he proposed the setting up of a ‘transit corridors’ where ships from fellow West African countries can go to anchor for assistance and joint naval assets will conduct regular patrols especially for protection of commercial fishing vessels.

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Wike Orders Destruction Of Criminal Hideouts In Rivers

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has ordered the destruction of all criminal hideouts in Ahoada, Elele, Eleme and Onne to prevent attempt to undermine security of the state.
The governor said criminals were already coming to terms with the reality that Rivers State was too hot for them to invade at will and detonate their foolish attacks on targeted security posts and personnel.
Wike, who made this assertion in a state broadcast, last Friday, disclosed that the state government has identified the hideouts, safe houses and secret places that provide both cover and comfort for the hoodlums to plan, execute and return to after operations.
“This was the reason we ordered the destruction of all the shanties and makeshift structures located along Elele to Ahoada expanse of the East–West Road to deny the criminals the opportunity to continue to undermine our security from these hideouts.
“We have equally decided to destroy all the shanties, illegal shops and mechanic sheds along the Eleme to Onne stretch of the East-West Road having discovered these places also as hideouts and operational bases for criminals and criminal activities in the state.
“Consequently, I hereby direct owners of such shanties and illegal structures along the Eleme – Onne axis of the East-West Road to vacate the area within two weeks from June 11, 2021, as the state government will go ahead to destroy these structures without any further notice.”
Wike said the government was not unmindful of the economic effect these measures would have or may have had on residents carrying out businesses in the affected areas.
He, however, stressed that government was merely discharging its constitutional responsibility to advance the collective security of all with no ethnic targets in mind or attachment to political sentiments.
He explained that the existing curfew in Rivers State will not last one day beyond necessary, and pleaded with all residents to endure the temporary inconveniences in the interest of the state and collective wellbeing of all.
“We will continue to take the war on criminality and insecurity to the den of the criminals and we will neither yield nor lower the tempo of our assault until they are comprehensively neutralized. As a matter of fact, they want us to prematurely terminate the state wide night time curfew in order for them to have the leeway to operate again and roll back the gains of the last few weeks.”
Wike said he has received reports about the excesses of the State Task Force on Illegal Trading and Parks, especially the alleged shooting of motorists, extortions and abuse of the human rights of citizens.
He assured that government would not hesitate to bring the full weight of the law on any member of the task force who crosses the boundaries of the law and rational behaviour.
The governor, who appealed to motorists and residents to be responsible road users by complying with the clear regulations against illegal trading, indiscriminate parking and irresponsible driving, noted that the situation where some motorists would have the effrontery to compete for traffic space with or even attempt to block his official vehicular convoy leaves much to be desired.
He has meanwhile, directed the management of the Rivers State Waste Management Authority to clear the state of filthiness within one week or be disbanded without any further notice.

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Army Begins Shooting Exercises In Rivers

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The Nigerian Army, 6 Division, has announced that it would commence its annual range classification exercise from yesterday to Sunday, June 27.
The division’s spokesman, Lt.-Col. Charles Ekeocha, said in a statement in Port Harcourt, that the exercise aimed at ascertaining the professional competence of troops on the use of firearms.
He said troops from the division and its affiliated formations and units would conduct the exercise at the Army Shooting Range in Igwuruta and Elele Barracks, both in Ikwerre Local Government Area of the state.
“The shooting exercise is a routine activity in the Nigerian Army which involves the firing of various calibre live ammunitions.
“Members of the public, especially residents of Igwuruta and Elele, as well as its environs, are advised to keep away from the general shooting area,” he stated.
The Army spokesman also advised the public not to panic over the movement of troops, military hardware and sound of gunshots.

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