Authorities of the Joint Military Task Force code named Operation Pulo Shield said it’s operatives have arrested the leader of a notorious cult group in Rivers State, Mr Solomon Owhondah, over alleged involvement in the series of killings and destruction of properties in Ibaa community of Emohua Local Government Area.
The command also said eight members of various cult groups involved in the community crisis voluntarily surrendered themselves to the JTF after being declared wanted over their roles in the crisis.
A statement in Yenagoa and signed by the Head of Joint Media Campaign Centre,Colonel Mustapha Anka, in Yenagoa said that “the cult leader Mr Solomon Owhondah who was the brain behind serial killings and destruction of properties worth millions of naira were destroyed was arrested by the troops of the Sector Two and currently going through investigation to ascertain his level of involvement before handing him over to the prosecuting agency for prosecution.”
“This is coming after eight cultists on the wanted list in connection with Ibaa crisis surrendered themselves to the JTF. Items recovered from the cultist includes 1 Police Berretta rifle, 1 double barrel gun, 3 locally made pistols, 8 Nokia phones, 3 empty magazines and 4 rounds of 7.62mm Special.
The suspects are undergoing preliminary investigation before handing them over to prosecuting agencies.”
In a related development, the special squad of the Sector 2 of the Joint Task Force (JTF) Operation Pulo SHIELD anti illegal oil bunkering in conjunction with the Southern Ijaw Local Government Area Oil and Gas Task Force has intercepted and arrested an illegal oil bunkering barge containing unquantified substances suspected to be stolen crude oil along Igbematoru waterways of the Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
According to the JTF, Four suspects on board the barge were arrested and are undergoing preliminary investigation while the barge is being anchored at Igbematoru House Boat for further action.
“In the Sector One general area, the 222 and 3 Battalions operating along Tuomo and Chanomi West Communities in Burutu and Warri South Local Government Areas of Delta State have discovered two illegal oil distillery camps where oil thieves operates with Cotonou boats, 26 drums with 200 litres capacity containing illegally acquired crude oil, two ovens and other several illegal oil bunkering equipment. The illegal sites and the equipment were destroyed.
Meanwhile, the Joint Military Task Force in the Niger Delta, Operation Pulo Shield, says its special squad of the anti-illegal oil bunkering and oil theft has arrested an illegal oil bunkering barge in the region.
The JTF said the barge containing an unquantified volume of Automated Gas Oil (diesel) suspected to be illegally refined was apprehended by its troops that were patrolling along Alakiri waterways of Okirika Local Government Area of Rivers State.
In a statement yesterday, the Coordinator, Joint Media Campaign Centre, Col. Mustapha Anka, said the barge, which had four compartments, was fully loaded with suspected stolen products.
Anka said the apprehension took place after loading from an undisclosed illegal oil refining camp in Alakiri area of the state adding that the arrest followed a tip off, stressing that the barge was arrested on its way to the sea.
He said the barge and the product were towed to a safer place and destroyed immediately in line with the mandate of the JTF.
Anka said, “In line with his zero tolerance campaign for oil theft and illegal oil bunkering in the Niger Delta region, the Commander, JTF, Major General Emmanuel Atewe, earlier warned vessel and barge owners to always verify the usage purpose before letting it out.“He even warned that any vessel or barge arrested for oil related crimes will be destroyed and suspects prosecuted to serve as a deterrent.”
Ogoni Youths Give FG 14 Days To Fix East-West Road
No fewer than 400 youths under the aegis of Ogoni Youth Federation (OYF), yesterday, staged a peaceful protest at the Eleme axis of the East-West Road, giving the Federal Government 14 days ultimatum to mobilize to site and fix the road or have economic activities in the area grounded.
The protesters, who carried various placards with inscriptions to press home their demands, trekked from Akpajo Junction to Refinery Junction in Eleme LGA, chanting solidarity songs to register their discontent over the neglect of the road.
Addressing newsmen during the protest, President General of the Ogoni Youth Federation, Comrade Legborsi Yaamabana, said it was regrettable that the road, which was a major route to the economic hub of the nation, has remained in a deplorable state, only becoming a death trap that has terminated the lives of innocent Ogonis.
Yaamabana, who described the mass action of the youths as a ‘warning protest’, said if the contractors handling the road were not immediately mobilized to site, then, the youths will have no option than to shut down all economic activities in the area.
He said, “we cannot continue to watch our people being killed on daily basis by tankers because of the poor state of Eleme axis of the east west road, we are calling on the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency fix the road and save our people from untimely deaths as a result of the sorry state of the road, the only bridge on the road at Aleto has collapse but nothing is being done to avert the disasters faced by our people daily”.
Yaamabana also called on the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio to constitute a substantive board for the Niger Delta Development Commission to address the development needs of the Niger Delta region, noting that the use of interim management for NDDC was “diversionary, self serving and not in the interest of the development of the Niger Delta region”.
The OYF president general also called on the Federal Government to exonerate Ken Saro-Wiwa and his compatriots who were extra-judicially murdered by the late Gen Sani Abacha military junta, and given post-humours honour as martyrs of democracy in Nigeria, while the ideals of justice they stood for should be upheld.
Also speaking, the immediate past secretary of the Ijaw Youth Council, Eastern Zone, Comrade James Tobin, who joined the protest in solidarity, decried the neglect of the East—West Road by the Federal Government, and called the immediate fixing of the road to save the teeming road users from untold pains and death.
By: Taneh Beemene
Rising Prices Push 7m Nigerians Below Poverty Line -World Bank
The World Bank has said that rising prices pushed about seven million Nigerians below the poverty line in 2020.
This was contained in a press statement titled, ‘Critical reforms needed to reduce inflation and accelerate the recovery, says new World Bank report,’ released by the World Bank’s Senior External Affairs Officer of Nigeria, Mansir Nasir.
The press statement was released, yesterday, in line with the latest World Bank Nigeria Development Update.
It was acknowledged that the Federal Government “took measures to protect the economy against a much deeper recession” but it was recommended that certain policies should be set for a strong recovery.”
The statement read, “The NDU, titled ‘Resilience through Reforms,’ notes that in 2020, the Nigerian economy experienced a shallower contraction of -1.8 per cent than had been projected at the beginning of the pandemic (-3.2 per cent). Although the economy started to grow again, prices are increasing rapidly, severely impacting Nigerian households.
“As of April, 2021, the inflation rate was the highest in four years. Food prices accounted for over 60% of the total increase in inflation. Rising prices have pushed an estimated seven million Nigerians below the poverty line in 2020 alone.”
Quoted in the statement, the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri, identified some of the challenges faced by the country and recommended a way forward.
“Nigeria faces interlinked challenges in relation to inflation, limited job opportunities, and insecurity.
“While the government has made efforts to reduce the effect of these by advancing long-delayed policy reforms, it is clear that these reforms will have to be sustained and deepened for Nigeria to realise its development potential,” Chaudhuri said.
Also quoted is the World Bank Lead Economist for Nigeria and co-author of the NDU, Marco Hernandez, who also gave a recommendation.
“Given the urgency to reduce inflation amidst the pandemic, a policy consensus and expedite reform implementation on exchange-rate management, monetary policy, trade policy, fiscal policy, and social protection would help save lives, protect livelihoods, and ensure a faster and sustained recovery,” Hernandez said.
Inflation Dips To 17.93% In May, NBS Confirms
Nigeria’s inflation rate dropped to 17.93 per cent in May, 2021, from 18.12 per cent recorded in April, 2021.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed this in its monthly Consumer Price Index report released, yesterday.
The drop in the headline inflation in May was the second consecutive month this year.
The report indicates that the consumer price index (CPI), which measures the inflation rate increased by 17.93 per cent (year-on-year) in May, 2021, which is 0.19 per cent points lower than the rate recorded in the preceding month.
According to NBS, food inflation dropped in the same month from 22.78 per cent recorded in April, 2021 to 22.28 per cent in May, 2021.
The report reads, ‘‘All items less farm produce which excludes the prices of volatile agricultural produce stood at 13.15 per cent in May, 2021, up by 0.41 per cent when compared with 12.74 per cent recorded in April, 2021.
‘‘The highest increases were recorded in prices of pharmaceutical products, garments, shoes and other footwear, hairdressing salons and personal grooming establishments, furniture and furnishing, carpet and other floor covering.
‘‘Others include, motor cars, Hospital services, fuels and lubricants for personal transport equipment, cleaning, repair and hire of clothing.
“Other services include personal transport equipment, gas, household textile, and non-durable household goods,” the NBS added.
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