There is outrage and misgivings among a section of the military, over the decision of the General Court Martial convened by the Commander, Army Headquarters Garrison in Abuja, Brigadier General B.T Ndiomu, to try a Lieutenant Colonel (names with-held) and 37 soldiers who were under his command for mutiny even after it emerged that the officer single-handedly, braved the odds and led troops to storm Sambisa forest in search of the abducted over 200 girls of Government Secondary School, Chibok.
It would be recalled that the General Court Martial to be presided over by Brigadier General Musa Sain Yusuf will October 15, commence the arraignment of 97 soldiers including four Lieutenant Colonels, one Major and four Captains on charges related to Mutiny, Assault; Absence without leave (AWOL); House breaking, Conduct prejudicial to good orders, and Service discipline as well as Offences relating to Service property, among others.
Nearly 100 soldiers tasked with fighting Boko Haram militants in the North East appeared at a military court martial last Thursday, facing a range of charges including mutiny.
The hearing comes just weeks after a tribunal sentenced 12 soldiers to death following their conviction for shooting at their commanding officer in the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, in May.
It was gathered that several officers including some retired Generals and soldiers who knew about the exploits of the Lieutenant Colonel and his daring foray into Sambisa forest where he personally led from the frontline and coordinated the attack on and destruction of Boko Haram Camps before retreating were shocked that such an officer could be treated with a court martial arraignment.
According to sources, the officer as Commander of the Battalion in Konduga, led Special Forces of the Nigerian Army to stop daring attacks from Boko Haram terrorists into Bama several times before the massive attack that led to its fall when a Brigadier General who was in charge at 21 Brigade could not with stand Boko Haram infiltration.
The Lt. Colonel and his men successfully held Konduga and stoutly provided the leadership that enabled his troops to lead from the ground while airforce jets provided air attack during the attack and killing of over 50 Boko Haram terrorists in Kawuri, resulting in the seizure of a cache of arms and ammunition.
Reliving what happened when the officer led his men into Sambisa, an officer who spoke on condition of anonymity said, “During the botched operation to locate and rescue the Chibok girls, several Battalions were programmed to enter the vast jungle and forest area from the North, East, West and South of Sambisa.
“The officer and his men entered from the Konduga axis and took on any enemy on sight, killing terrorists and destroying camp after camp, until they were called back”.
“The officer and his soldiers were later to discover that the other battalions that were to infiltrate the forest from their sectors did not move in, obviously due to superior orders”.
However, the military authorities have intensified security around officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army involved in the on-going General Court Martial in Jos, Abuja as well as other parts of the country.
Investigations revealed that military authorities decided to move the Court Martial from 1 Division, Kaduna, to the 3rd Armoured Division, Jos for security reasons.
A security source who pleaded for anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media, confided in our correspondent.
He said the military high command decided to move all the cases emanating from the on-going operation in the North East to Jos and Abuja, because of the need for a more effective security arrangement for those under interrogation and those conducting the trial.
The source said members of the Boko Haram Islamic Sect had written a letter to the headquarters of 1 Division, Kaduna, where the trial was initially supposed to take place that they would attack the trial venue for reasons yet to be made clear.
The sect members were also said to have written a similar letter to the headquarters of the Division 3 of the Nigerian Army, in Jos.
Investigations revealed that the situation made Army authorities to tighten security around the venues of the court martial and the detention centres to ensure the safety of those under trial and those responsible for conducting the trials.
It was gathered that it became necessary to move the court martial from Kaduna to Jos to try offences committed in relation with the on-going operation because of the distance between the detention centre and the venue of the court.
It was gathered that unlike the Mogadishu Cantonment where the officers’ mess is located within, the Officers Mess in Kaduna is located on Kanta Road, which is some distance from the 1 Division Headquarters venue of the trial.
However, another security source explained that the movement of the Court Martial from Kaduna to Jos was not because of the letter written by the Boko Haram to the Army authorities.
It was argued that even if the military had taken a decision to carry out the court martial in Maiduguri, which is close to the centre of the on-going operation, a strong security arrangement would have been put in place to secure the venue of the trial, and those involved in the trial.
The source said, “The military authorities have tightened security around the detainees facing trial because of a letter by the Boko Haram members who threatened to attack the trial venues.
“It would be right to say that the decision to move the trial venue from Kaduna to Jos was for security and convenience.
“You know that officers’ mess where they were being detained is in Kanta Road and it is not within the 1 Division Headquarters at Kawo, Kaduna.
“I believe, they considered the distance between the detention centre and the venue of the trial and also noted the fact that a bomb attack had taken place along that route in the past.
“But the insurgents also wrote to the Army authorities in Jos and the Army authorities have put in place elaborate security arrangement.
“That might inform the decision to restrict access in a way to the trial venue.”
But another source explained that security provision remained a major aspect in any General Court Martial.
The source said that it was in line with the tradition of the military to place emphasis on the safety of those whose freedom had been restricted and those playing various roles in the ongoing trial.
“You should know that the letter by the Boko Haram was written long ago, it is not new. Those guys are always writing with the intent to cause panic.
“But what I will tell you is that those being tried are human beings; those being kept in one place for the trial are human beings; they have their sympathisers, they have their brother so it is compulsory to secure the place.
“That is to tell you that even without any Boko Haram letter, the military would still have provided security.
Meanwhile, investigation revealed that another court martial had opened at the Second Division of the Nigerian Army Army, Ibadan.
The General Court Martial was said to have been inaugurated two week ago to try various acts of misdemeanours in the Army.
When our correspondent contacted the Director of Defence Information, Maj. Gen Chris Olukolade, he said that court martial are traditionally expected to take place at the level of divisions to try emergent offices in the military.
“It is normal for court martial to take place at the level of the Division, to try offences in accordance with military laws,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army has concluded arrangements to arraign 16 soldiers over the April 14, 2014, abduction of over 200 students of the Government Secondary School, Chibok in Borno State.
Three of the soldiers are officers while the remaining 13 soldiers belong to other ranks.
Our correspondent gathered in Abuja on Monday that barring any last minute change, they would appear before the General Court Martial at the Maxwell Khobe Military Cantonment, Rukuba, Jos in Plateau State after the Sallah holidays.
The officers are Lieutenant Col. A. O. Ojo, Capt. O. O. Ogunrinde, and 2nd Lieutenant V.I. Godknows.
The 16 are among 117 soldiers facing a GCM convened by the General Officer Commanding 1 Division of the Army in Kaduna, Maj.Gen. K. C. Osuji, on August 6, 2014.
A source said their trial would take place at the headquarters of the 3rd Armoured Division, Rukuba in Jos for security reasons.
The GCM panel comprises Col. J.J. Ogunlade (President); Col. J. O. Sokoya, Col. M. Kadiri, Col. M. W. Abubakar, Col. A. A. Bamgbose, Col. A. Garba and Col E.M. Albara.
Lt. Colonels B. Garke and O. S. Obot are the waiting members of the panel which has Captain A. Mohammed as the judge advocate and Lt. G. B. Suleiman as the liaison officer.
Investigations revealed that Ojo, who was the Unit Commander, in Biu, was summoned to the GCM in relation with the conflict in the number of girls said to have been abducted by Boko Haram insurgents and those rescued at the time of the incident.
The officer is also being charged for alleged failure to reinforce the Chibok community when the incident occurred.
It was gathered that the officers were being charged for failure to perform military duty, an offence that attracts a maximum of two years’ imprisonment.
A source, who confided in our correspondent said that the Lt. Colonel had stated that the number he gave was not the one that was used in a statement by the Defence Headquarters on the reported rescue of some of the abducted girls.
The said that the statement was later withdrawn.
The source said, “The Lt. Colonel is being charged for allegedly giving information without verification, negligent performance of military duty and not going to reinforce the place where the incident took place. The charge attracts a maximum of two years’ imprisonment.”
He also said that Ojo had not completely taken over from his predecessor and had complained about the number of men and equipment on the ground when the abduction took place two days after his arrival in Biu for the mission.
It was stated that the shortage of men was shown by the fact that only the 2nd Lt. and 13 soldiers were in Chibok in spite of the fact that the place had a heavy presence of insurgents.
It was gathered that the other soldiers led by Godknows were on duty at the headquarters of the Chibok Local Government Area on the day of the incident.
Another source told our correspondent that the Army was not notified of the examinations that were going on in the school.
The source said that a statement by the Principal of the school, Asabe Kwambura, corroborated the soldiers’ claim.
Investigations revealed that the soldiers left their location in Chibok to lay in ambush when they received a report that insurgents were planning to attack them on the night the schoolgirls were seized.
They were said to have lost a soldier during the face-off with the Boko Haram members.
The source said, “Only Godknows and 13 soldiers were on duty in Chibok. They were not stationed within the school. No soldier was stationed in the school and they didn’t know that the school was in session.
“Nobody notified these people that the girls were having an examination in the school. Even the principal admitted in her statement that the soldiers were not notified.
“They were told that their camp was about to be attacked so they went out to lay in ambush for insurgents. One of the soldiers died.
“But I can confirm to you that the Army has concluded preparations to arraign them.”
The abduction of the schoolgirls sparked global outrage with world leaders calling on the terrorist group and the Federal Government to ensure their safe release.
We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says his administration has spent N9billion in upgrading structures and installation of new equipment at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH).
He said the fact that 40 per cent of the 2021 budget of the state is dedicated to provision of quality healthcare delivery was a further demonstration of the priority placed on the sector.
Wike made the explanation at the foundation laying ceremony for the construction of a Renal Centre at RSUTH, last Friday.
The governor said he made promise to Rivers people that the best would be provided to them in all sectors of the society within his capability because of the mandate they gave to him.
“As we came on here, I just looked around and I see the changes in this teaching hospital. I can say that we have put not less than N9billion in this teaching hospital.
“If you look at the budget, the health sector alone, what it’s taking from the Rivers State Government is not less than 40 percent of the 2021 budget.”
Speaking further, Wike said the state government cannot afford to implement free medical service programme in the present economic circumstance.
While dismissing the request for a subvention for RSUTH, Wike, however, commended the chief medical director and his team for their commitment to turnaround the fortunes of RSUTH.
“I have never seen anywhere that health services can be totally free. They’re telling me that people who come here can’t pay. I have never declared that this state is going to take over the health fees of anybody.”
Also speaking, the former Minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, who performed the flag-off, noted that Wike’s achievements in the health sector in particular, surpass what former governors of the state had done.
Sekibo said that the governor has given equal attention to every section of the health sector by providing complete health infrastructure that was positioning the state as a medical tourism destination in Nigeria.
Earlier, the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, lauded Governor Nyesom Wike for his interest in the health of Rivers people.
He noted that the renal centre, when completed, would become another landmark development project in the health sector that would handle and manage all kidney-related ailments.
In his remarks, the Chief Medical Director of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Friday Aaron, commended Wike for approving the renal centre.
Aaron explained that chronic kidney disease was a major burden globally with estimated 14 million cases in Nigeria.
According to him, over 240,000 of these cases require renal replacement therapy in the form of dialysis and renal transplant.
The CMD said the building that would house the centre was expected to be completed in six months and consists of two floors.
The ground floor, according to him, would house the haemodialysis unit with eight haemodialysis machines.
He further explained that the first floor of the centre would house the surgical component where most of the sophisticated equipment for kidney transplant would be installed.
Aaron said Wike has released the funds required to build, equip the centre as well as for the training of personnel locally and internationally.
Power Generation Falls 23% To 3,172MW
Power supply in Nigeria has failed to improve on last week’s performance, as it fell by 22.9 per cent from peak generation of 4,115Megawatts on Saturday to 3,172.20MW as at 5pm, yesterday, latest data from the System Operator has shown.
According to the data, most power plants were operating far below capacity due to gas shortage with Olorunsogo Power Plant 335MW capacity; and Sapele Power Plant, 450MW capacity; completely out.
Egbin was generating at 746MW; Omoku 37.20; Omotosho (NIPP) at 105MW; while Afam was generating at 80MW.
The data showed that on the average power generation in the past seven days were 4,120.9MW on Sunday, June 6; 4,249.4 on Monday, June 7; 4,000.9MW on Tuesday, June 8; 3,720.7 on Wednesday, June 9; 3,517 on Thursday, June 10; 3,765MW on Friday, June 11; and 4,115MW on Saturday, June 12.
The International Oil Companies (IOCs), had last warned that despite Nigeria’s huge gas reserves a lot needs to be done to attract investment to the sector to develop gas reserves to boost power generation in the country.
Speaking at the just concluded Nigeria International Petroleum Summit, the Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria/MD SPDC, Osagie Okunbor, said with 203trillion Cubic Feet of gas reserves, what was needed in the country is to deliver projects that would produce the gas.
“The challenge is not just growing the reserves but in producing these reserves for the benefits of our country. Essentially growing the reserves and delivering on the production is a function of two or three elements.
“I like to see infrastructure that is required for the development of these resources at two levels. Soft infrastructure is often the one that is more important than and that is the one that is actually drives most of what you see at site.”
“Soft infrastructure refers to the enabling environment and nothing pleases me as much seeing both the Senate President and the speaker of the house give very firm commitments about trying to pass the PIB this month.
“That is probably the big one of the enabling environment to provide the kind of stability we also need all sorts of other issues we need to that we have discussed severally in terms of sanctity of contract, stable policies and collaboration and I think we are well on our way there”, he added.
Wike, Pride Of Nigeria’s Democracy, NUJ Affirms
The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has described Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, as an exhibit of pride to democracy in Nigeria.
The NUJ also noted that Wike has redefined governance through demonstration of democracy in action with his service to Rivers people.
The National leadership, the 36 State Executives, and the FCT, including members of the NUJ across the country made the assertion in Port Harcourt during the inspection tour led by the Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim of both completed and ongoing projects being undertaken by the governor in the state.
The National President of the NUJ, Chief Chris Isiguzo, said the 1999 Constitution bestows on the media the responsibility to hold governments accountable to the people.
Isiguzo posited that having placed the projects side-by-side with the expectations of the populace, it was obvious that the governor’s investment in critical infrastructure would remain lifelong empowerment tools for the people.
”We were at the Mother and Child Hospital. We took time to look at the facilities there. That can easily be said to be first of its kind in the country.
”At the much-talked about Real Madrid Football Academy, where they are going to train the young ones, we saw that they have good facilities. At the moment, they have also offered admission to 140 pupils.
”That’s also to catch-them-young, and I want to believe that by the time this kind of resources is continuously invested in sports development in Nigeria, it’s just a matter of time, it will gain its pride of place in sporting world.”
On her part, the National President of Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Mrs Ladi Bala said that the projects she had seen were entirely unique, unprecedented and very uncommon in the country.
According to Bala, the Emmanuel Chinwenwo Aguma Judges’ Quarters stand out as first of its kind in Nigeria, with its serene ambiance that would translate into enhancing the productivity of judges of Rivers origin.
”I believe that democracy is at work in Rivers State, and, for Rivers people, I want to congratulate them, and to say, this is the true reflection of what democracy should be across board.
”I want to call on other governors across the country to borrow a leaf from what the governor of Rivers State is doing. Wike is working, and we are very proud of what we have seen here”, she added.
In his reaction, the National Internal Auditor of NUJ, Muhammad Tukur, stated that Wike was a committed leader with the vision of uplifting the standard of life of his people.
Tukur, who expressed gratitude to Wike for his support to the NUJ National Conference in Port Harcourt, said that his show of love for journalists confirms his commitment to the welfare of the people.
On his part, Chairman of Oyo State Council of the NUJ, Comrade Ismail Ademola Babalola, asserted that the Mother and Child Hospital, and the Real Madrid Football Academy were part of projects Governor Wike was using to secure a productive future for the youths of the state because they meet global standard.
Also speaking, the Vice President of NUJ North Central Zone, Chief Wilson Bako, commended the quality of the various roads and flyover bridges constructed in the Port Harcourt metropolis to make the city tourists’ destination of choice.
In the same vein, the Vice Chairman of NUJ in Jigawa State, Comrade Larai Musa, said she has confirmed all that the news media had carried about Wike and his projects’ mantra, and asserted that it was leaders like him that were needed at the national level.
Also, Comrade Ikechukwu Ordu of Enugu State Council of the NUJ noted the need for other political leaders to emulate Wike in providing dividends of democracy to Rivers people and changing the fortunes of his state.
Also from the Enugu State Council of the NUJ, Comrade Ugochukwu Chukwudieke, said she was completely overwhelmed by what Wike has done in constructing the Okoro-Nu-Odo Flyover Bridge, Rumuogba Flyover Bridge, and Rebisi Flyover Bridge delivered within one year.
Chukwudieke also praised the quality of work on the Rumuola Flyover Bridge, Ogbun-nu-Abali Flyover Bridge, GRA Junction Flyover Bridge, and the Orochiri-Wurukwo flyover project at Waterlines Junction by Aba Road.
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