The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has placed a N200million bounty for information that will lead to the arrest of the perpetrators of the Omoku massacre.
Wike spoke, yesterday, after he led the Rivers State Security Council on a fact finding/sympathy visit to the families of the deceased.
He also visited those injured during the attack.
The governor also visited the sites of the crime where he received briefing from the Nigerian Police Area Commander, Mr Mike Nwafor and the Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Council Caretaker Chairman, Mr Osi Olisa.
He said: “We have placed N200million bounty for relevant information that will lead to the arrest of all those involved in this unfortunate act of violence.
“Anybody who is connected to this crime in any way will have his/her houses forfeited to the government. This place has been peaceful before this unfortunate mayhem.
“We will not allow another case of this violence. We have mobilised the security agencies to take the battle to the perpetrators”.
Wike said all those linked to the Omoku violence will face the full weight of the law.
“You cannot shed innocent blood and go free. We are working with all the security agencies to do everything possible to arrest the perpetrators. They must pay for this”, he said.
The governor commiserated with the families of the deceased, saying that the state government will support them in burying their loved ones.
He added that the state government will also settle the medical bills of those receiving treatment at different hospitals.
He said: “I am pained by this unfortunate mayhem. Enough is enough.”
The governor and the service commanders also visited the residence of wanted cultist, Don Danny where the Rivers State governor commended security agencies for working hard to improve the security of the state.
Also speaking, Chairman of Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area, Mr Osi Olisa informed the governor that 17 persons lost their lives as a result of the attack.
In an interview, Prophetess Comfort Ordu, who lost her husband and three children, said they were dragged out of their home and killed by the perpetrators.
Some of those murdered in cold blood include: Favour Odili, Saviour Amirinze, Augustine Ordu, Precious Ordu, Wisdom Ordu, Jennifer Ohia and Innocent Ohia.
Others are: Reuben Idogu, Baby Idogu, Ngozi Ogbuanukwu, Oyi Ogadinma, Nwagaego Ogadinma and Uche Onige.
The governor was accompanied to Omoku by the Commander Officer, 6 Division of the Nigerian Army, Brig-Gen A.A. Bande, the Commander of Joint Task Force, Col M.N. Madi, Rivers State Deputy Commissioner of Police, Ahmed Magaji and Rivers State Director of the Department of State Services, Mr Tosin Ajayi.
However, reactions have trailed the ugly incident that resulted in the killing of the son of Chief Eze Maziri and 16 others by unknown gunmen in Omoku Town, with Rivers people expressing shock and dismay at the dastardly act.
Maziri, in an interview with The Tide, said his son was returning from the New Year church service in the early hours of Monday, when the gunmen struck and killed him and his friend, among others.
The chief denied insinuations that his son belonged to any cult group.
“I never knew that such an unfortunate thing could ever happen to my son or any member of this community, and at the end, people say because they were not in the house at that hour of the day. Look at the number of corpses lying there, and we don’t know how it all happened.
“My son does not belong to any cult group. He was rather a very devout Christian. If people are claiming and making insinuations that he belonged to a cult group, what about his friend and the other 15 people bringing the number to 17 killed in cold blood on their way from church?”, Maziri asked.
In his reaction, the Rivers State Police Command Public Relations Officer, DSP Nnamdi Omoni stated that the police are aware of the incident but have not established a clear motive behind the killing of the people in Omoku.
Omoni stated further that investigations were underway to unravel the circumstances surrounding the incident, adding that the police would come up with details that led to the killings in the area soon.
The police image maker noted that the number of casualties cannot be confirmed at the moment.
Omoni said: “I can confirm the incident, but at the moment, we cannot confirm the conflicting number of casualties.
“The Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of Operations and other tactical heads have been mobilised there to restore peace.
“The Commissioner of Police (Ahmed Zaki) has launched a manhunt for the bandits to ensure they are arrested and prosecuted.
“When the DCP and the teams conclude their investigations, we will know the total number of people involved,” Omoni added.
“Investigations are ongoing, and we don’t want to speculate, but for now, we have heard so many stories, some said they were unknown gunmen, but investigations will unravel what actually happened”.
It was gathered that the unknown gunmen had operated at two different locations, Kirigani and Oboh axis of Aligu of Omoku, in a coordinated attack.
The killers opened fire on Christians that were returning from different churches around 12: 20a.m., after successfully crossing over to the New Year, and killed the number of persons.
It was gathered that over 26 persons were shot in the attack, 14 persons died on the spot, with 12 hospitalised.
Three persons among those hospitalized were later said to have died from gunshot injuries.
Meanwhile, the Rivers State Government has taken Minister of Transportation, Chibike Rotimi Amaechi to the cleaners over his comments that the Omoku violence which led to the death of innocent Rivers indigenes was because Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike was arming militants.
Reacting to Amaechi’s comments, the state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Barr Emma Okah described the comments as false, saying, it was an infantile attempt by Amaechi to gain political mileage from the senseless killings of innocent Rivers indigenes.
The statement reads:
Our attention has been drawn to the regrettable indictment of federal security agencies by the Minister of Transportation, Mr Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi who claimed that the Omoku violence which led to the death of innocent Rivers indigenes was because Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike was arming militants.
For the avoidance of doubt, Amaechi’s statement is false and an infantile attempt to gain political mileage from the senseless killings of innocent Rivers indigenes.
Over the last few days, there have been nationwide upsurge of violence, leading to the unfortunate deaths of Nigerians. Is the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi claiming that in all these instances, the governors of the respective states armed the killers?
In Southern Kaduna, several persons including a traditional ruler and his pregnant wife were killed. In Kwara State, a new year violence claimed several lives. In Yobe State, Boko Haram insurgents killed 5 soldiers while several community youths lost their lives.
Also in Lagos State, Badoo cultists killed a family of five, while over the last few days, Fulani herdsmen have killed scores of innocent Nigerians in Benue State.
We need not mention the scores killed over the last two weeks in Plateau, Adamawa and Zamfara States by Fulani herdsmen.
It is regrettable that the chief financier of APC National campaign would politicize a security challenge, effectively domiciled at the doorsteps of Federal Security agencies.
The fact that he made such statement at preccints of the Presidential Villa is a sad commentary.
For the records, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has funded and equipped security agencies in the state more than any other state governor has done. Rather than being commended for the sacrifice, ingrates like Amaechi see nothing in the genuine efforts of a patriotic leader, which Nyesom Ezenwo Wike represents.
In another development, President Muhammadu Buhari has condemned, in strong terms, killings of innocent persons in Omoku, Rivers State and traditional ruler, the Etum Numana, Dr. Gambo Makama, and his wife, in Sango Local Government Area of Kaduna State in the New Year.
President Buhari described the acts as ‘shocking and outrageous, reprehensible and unacceptable’, insisting that perpetrators must be brought to book.
In a statement by the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, President Buhari directed law enforcement agencies in both states to intensify their current efforts in order to speedily bring the perpetrators to face the wrath of the law.
“I have always maintained that nothing justifies the taking of the life of an innocent person,” the president said, adding that “people in our communities must learn to live peacefully.”
He appealed to the communities affected not to embark on reprisal attacks, but allow the security agencies to carry out comprehensive investigations to properly punish the culprits.
He commiserated with the families of the victims and wished the injured faster recovery.
Chris Oluoh & Susan Serekara-Nwikhana
Southern Govs Back Wike, Insist On VAT Collection …A’Court Urges Rivers To Submit Written Application For Receiver
Southern Governors met in Enugu, yesterday, and declared their support for Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, insisting that it is within their purview to collect the Value Added Tax (VAT).
This is coming amid row between the Rivers State Government and the Federal Government, a case that is now subject of litigation.
The governors also reaffirmed their stand on open-grazing ban, urging every state in the region to quickly pass a law to that regards.
The resolution by the Southern Governors Forum is part of the six-point communique reached at its meeting at the Government House, Enugu, Enugu State, and read by Chairman of the Forum and Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN.
The meeting of the Southern Governors Forum, which reviewed the state of the nation and the progress of the implementation of the decisions reached in its previous meetings, expressed satisfaction with the rate at which the states in Southern Nigeria were enacting and amending the anti-open grazing laws which allowed a uniform template and aspiration of Southern Governors, and encouraged the states that were yet to enact the law to do so expeditiously.
Reading the communique after the closed door meeting to journalists, Akeredolu said that the meeting reiterated its earlier position that the next President of Nigeria most come from the southern part of Nigeria, in line with politics of equity, justice and fairness.
According to the communique, the Southern Governors agreed to encourage the full operationalization of already agreed regional security outfit which will meet, share intelligence and collaborate to ensure the security and safety of the region.
Akeredolu opined that the meeting also reaffirmed its earlier commitment to stick to fiscal federalism as resolved at the inaugural meeting of the forum held on Tuesday, May 11, 2021, at Asaba, Delta State, and emphasize the need for the Southern States to leverage the legislative competence of their respective state Houses of Assembly, as well as representation in the National Assembly to pursue its inclusion in the Nigerian Constitution, through the ongoing constitutional amendment.
The communiqué, according to the forum’s chairman, expressed satisfaction with the array of issues around the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) and ownership of NNPC by the larger Nigerian Governors Forum.
The forum thanked the host Governor, IfeanyiUgwuanyi, and chose Rivers State as the next host for the Southern Governors Forum meeting in November, 2021.
Present at the meeting were Rivers StateGovernor, Chief NyesomWike; Delta StateGovernor, Dr.IfeanyiOkowa;AkwaIbom StateGovernor, Chief Emmanuel Udom; and Osun StateGovernor, IsiakaAdegboyegaOyetola.
Others were Enugu StateGovernor, IfeanyiUgwuanyi;Bayelsa StateGovernor, Senator DuoyeDiri;Lagos State Governor,BabajideSanwo-Olu; and Ogun State Governor,EngrOluwaseyiAbiodun.
The governors of Oyo, Ekiti, Edo, Imo, Abia, and Ebonyistates were represented by their deputies.
The communiqué read in full, “The Nigerian Southern Governors’ Forum at its meeting of Thursday, September 16, 2021 held in the Government House, Enuqu, Enugu State, reviewed the state or the nation and the progress of implementation of the decisions reached in her previous meetings and further resolved as follows:
“Expressed satisfaction with the rate at which the states in the Southern Nigeria are enacting or amending the Anti-Open Grazing Laws which align with the uniform template and aspiration of Southern Governors and encouraged the states that are yet to enact this law to do so expeditiously.
“Encouraged the full operationalization of already agreed regional security outfits; which would meet, share intelligence and collaborate, to ensure the security and safety of the region.
“Reaffirmed its earlier commitment to structural and fiscal federalism as resolved at the inaugural meeting of the Forum held on Tuesday, May 11, 2021 at Asaba, Delta State, and emphasized the need for the Southern States to leverage the legislative competence of their respective State Houses of Assembly as well as representation in the National assembly to pursue its inclusion in the Nigerian Constitution through the ongoing constitutional amendment.
“Following from paragraph 3 above, the meeting resolved to support the position that the collection of VAT falls within the powers of the states.
“Expressed satisfaction with the handling of issues around the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) and ownership of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) by the larger Nigerian Governors’ Forum.
“Reiterated their earlier position that the next President of Nigeria must come from the Southern part of Nigeria in line with politics of equity, justice and fairness.
“The forum thanked the host Governor, IfeanyiUgwuanyi, and chose Rivers State as the next host for the Southern Governors’ Forum meeting in November, 2021″.
However, the Court of Appeal, yesterday, declined to accede to the request of Rivers and Lagos states for the appointment of Receiver or Manager for the purpose of collecting and keeping Value Added Taxes (VAT) in place of the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) pending the resolution of all legal disputes in the matter.
The two states separately canvassed that the order of status quo ante bellum granted on September 10 in favour of FIRS to continue the collection be put on hold given the appeal already lodged at the Supreme Court against the order.
Counsel to Rivers State, IfedayoAdedipe, SAN, in his oral application, pleaded with the appellate body to exercise its power under Order 4 Rule 6 of the Court of Appeal to appoint a Receiver or Manager to take custody of the VAT in the interest of justice to parties in the matter.
The Attorney General of Lagos State, Mr MoyosoreOnigbanjo, SAN, who stood for his state, toed the path of Rivers in canvassing that the court be fair and just in the pending appeal.
Onigbanjo specifically asked the Appeal Court to restrain FIRS from further collecting the tax and replace it with a Receiver or Manager that would act for parties that are locked in the legal battle.
The Lagos Attorney General predicated his expressed fear of unjust treatment on the fact that FIRS apart from collecting the tax has been sharing it among the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) despite the pendency of the legal tussle.
“I think it is also necessary to restrain the FIRS, because they collect the VAT, distribute to all the states and keeps their own 4 per cent.
“If, at the end of the day, the court agrees with the judgment of the Federal High Court, how do we retrieve the funds that have been shared?”,Onigbanjo added.
The appeal by the FIRS is against August 9, 2021 judgment by Justice Steven Pam of the Federal High Court in Port-Harcourt, voiding the Value Added Tax (VAT) Act and holding that states could collect VAT.
Justice Haruna Simon Tsanami, who led a three-member panel, directed them to make the application formal by providing the necessary facts, including ascertaining the amount being collected as VAT.
Other members of the panel are Justices BatureGafai and Peter Affen.
Meanwhile, the court has reserved ruling on an application by Lagos State to be made a respondent in the appeal filed by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).
The court, after listening to arguments by lawyers to parties, yesterday, said they would be informed when the ruling was ready.
In arguing Lagos’ application, Onigbanjo (SAN) said his client was a necessary party as it would be affected by the outcome of the case.
He noted that, as a federating unit/state in Nigeria, Lagos was entitled to collect VAT by virtue of the judgment of the Federal High Court that annulled VAT Act.
Onigbanjo argued that even the appellant (the FIRS) recognised that Lagos State has an interest in the case, which he said, was evident in the affidavit it filed, wherein copious reference was made to the Lagos State Government.
He further argued that since FIRS, in an affidavit supporting its application for stay of the judgment, recognised the interest of the Lagos State Government in the case, “it cannot now turn around to say the Lagos State Government has no interest in this case and should not be joined. It cannot blow hot and cold or speak from both sides of its mouth.”
Onigbanjo also contended that it was unfair for the FIRS to oppose Lagos’ request to be heard in the case after making allegations against the state.
He added that even the court recognised the interest of Lagos State in the case when it extended its order on maintenance of status quo to Lagos State, which was not yet a party in the case.
Onigbanjo prayed the court to join his client as a respondent.
Adedipe adopted Onigbaajo’s argument, and urged the court to allow the application by Lagos State.
Following the observation by Onigbanjo that the written address filed by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) was incompetent, the lawyer representing the AGF, TijaniGazali (SAN), withdrew the address, subsequent upon which the court struck it out.
Lawyer to FIRS, Mahmud Magaji (SAN), objected to the joinder application filed by Lagos State, arguing, among others, that the state was not a necessary party.
Magaji faulted the competence of the application, and urged the court to discountenance it.
On second thought, Magaji said if the court was willing to join Lagos; it should extend such indulgence to the other states of the federation.
Okonjo-Iweala Makes ‘TIME 100’
Nigerian-born Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has thanked the Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, for the kind words they penned about her as she makes the TIME 100 list of The World’s Most Influential People.
The magazine has noted the globally-rated economist’s activities around the efforts to ensure that everyone on the planet earth gets vaccinated against any preventable disease for which there is a vaccine.
The ex-World Bank guru has been the Board Chair of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, since January 1, 2016.
Gavi has the goal of increasing access to immunization in poor countries.
Concerning the TIME entry, the Duke and the Duchess state, “What will it take to vaccinate the world? Unity, cooperation—and leaders like Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala”.
“As the first African and first woman to lead the World Trade Organization, a 164-member group of nations that oversees trade across the world, Okonjo-Iweala took on the role of director-general this March at a watershed moment for our global health and well-being. Make no mistake; her job affects every person, family and community.
“As we face a constant barrage of vaccine misinformation, bureaucratic slowdowns across both government and industry, and the rise of variants that underscore the urgency of the situation, Okonjo-Iweala has shown us that to end the pandemic, we must work together to equip every nation with equitable vaccine access.
“Our conversations with her have been as informative as they are energizing. This is partly because, despite the challenges, she knows how to get things done—even between those who don’t always agree—and does so with grace and a smile that warms the coldest of rooms.
“The fragility of our world right now cannot be overstated. Just over a quarter of the nearly 8 billion global population is fully vaccinated.
“Achieving vaccine equity is a global duty of compassion for one another. Our hope is that guided by strong leaders like Ngozi, we can get there soon”, they wrote.
Relocation Of Insurgents, Wake-Up Call, CAN Warns
The Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Kaduna State Chapter, Revd Joseph Hayab, has described the alleged relocation of Boko Haram leaders to Southern Kaduna as a wake-up call on people of the area.
Hayabsaid that though the news of the alleged relocation was not new, government has not done enough to protect the people.
He claimed all the calls from voices of reason appeared not to have moved both the federal and state governments to rise to the occasion.
“The relocation of Boko Haram to Southern Kaduna is not new. Who are those that have been killing people indiscriminately in that area in the last few years? The church, SOKAPU and the people have been complaining about killings in Southern Kaduna but only fell on the deaf ear of those in authority.
“Therefore, the leaked document has simply confirmed our worries and shows that more days for killings of innocent citizens are coming unless the people take personal initiative to defend their lives and land. Our government has not done enough to convince us that they want to stop the killings going on all over the area.
“Now, we were being told that there is a leaked memo about Boko Haram when those in authority have always turned deaf ears to cries of our people when we complain about killers that people see every day. Boko Haram fleeing North-East to Southern Kaduna is simply a wake-up call for the Southern Kaduna people to rise to the occasion,” he said.
A leaked DSS memo had said insurgents were relocating from Sambisa forest in BornoState to Chikun LGA in Kaduna State.
The alert was in a leaked memo marked NSCDC/NHQ/INT&INVST/323/2021, dated September 9, 2021, and signed by the Acting Deputy Commandant-General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Intelligence and Investigation, B.O. Bassey.
The DSS, therefore, asked the civil defence to be on the alert.
“It has been uncovered, plans by senior Boko Haram fighter, Ibrahim (FNU) alongside his foot soldiers relocating from ‘Sambisa Forest in Borno State to Rijana Forest in ChikunLocal Government Area of Kaduna State with a view to joining their counterpart under the leadership of one AdamuYunusu (aka Saddiqu).
“In light of the above, you are hereby directed to step up surveillance and intelligence gathering on the aforementioned areas and environs.”
Meanwhile, months after the crash involving a Nigerian Air Force (NAF) King Air 350 aircraft on May 21 at the Kaduna Civil Airport, Commissioner of the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), Akin Olateru, has submitted an interim report to the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Amao, at his office at NAF Headquarters, Abuja.
After the crash, the CAS directed that a joint investigative body consisting of NAF safety officers and the AIB be constituted to investigate the causes.
A joint statement by the Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, and General Manager, Public Affairs, AIB, TunjiOketunbi, revealed that at this interim stage, a total of 27 initial findings and eight safety recommendations were made for the convening authority as well as other aviation-related agencies for immediate implementation.
They further disclosed that it is expected that the final report would contain the flight data recorder readout, the reviewed operator’s and service provider’s standard operating procedures as well as other detailed analyses.
While receiving the report, the CAS reiterated the main essence of activating the ‘joint investigative’ clause contained in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the NAF and the AIB on July 1, 2020.
He said successful collaboration is a clear indication of the potency of collaboration in aircraft accident investigation, which must be encouraged.
Similarly, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), has blamed Almajiri system in the North for the increasing cases of banditry, kidnapping, terrorism and armed robbery in the country.
The Chairman of CAN in Imo State, Rev. Eches Divine Eches, stated this in an interview with journalists in Abuja, ahead of the organisation’s 45th anniversary and Founder’s Day billed to hold today in Owerri, the Imo State capital.
According to him, banditry and kidnapping are increasing because the authorities have failed to pay more attention to the critical factors behind the widespread insecurity in the country.
Eches also expressed concern over Sheikh Ahmed Gumi’s links with the bandits terrorising the North-West region and the alleged helplessness of the government to arrest and caution him for his many ‘unguarded utterances’ about their activities.
He said, “You can’t have Almajiri system of life and government in the last 40 years in our nation bringing up people without any trace to families, hometowns or nationalities.
“They are scattered all over the street, without you knowing that someday they will leave the street and go to the bush where they will begin to do the trade of kidnapping.
“Also, you can’t, in any sane nation, have the likes of Gumi, a religious scholar, going about promoting banditry and you don’t think that this will continue. Yet, that is what we are seeing today. We are not seeing anything more than what we have planted.
“We allowed this thing (insecurity) to continue and it is now going to consume the nation, if drastic measures are not put in place to take them (Almajiri) out of the streets, give them a sense of belonging, put them in school, and help them realise their potentials.
“These bandits we find today were the Almajiri who used to be in front of our houses and begging for food.
“We are praying and that is why God is still sustaining our nation. I trust God will continue to sustain us in Jesus name.”
On CAN’s 45th anniversary of its Founder’s Day, Eches said the programme was necessary to remember the labour of past heroes, including over 250 retired church leaders and indigent youth and women who were weak.
“They retired church leaders laboured to bring to bear what we are enjoying and working on today.
“We thought it very necessary to remember the weak among us as most of them are passing through terrible times, especially in such a time as this in our nation.
“So, we thought it very important that we will use this 45th anniversary of our Founders’ Day to celebrate such a people and remember their labours, and say to them ‘you deserve to be celebrated’ both by cash and gift,” he said.
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