The death toll of the Saturday afternoon raid by suspected bandits at Gwaska in Birnin-Gwair Local Government Area of Kaduna State has risen from 27 to 45 yesterday.
The Birnin-Gwari Vanguards for Security and Good Governance said no fewer than 45 bodies were recovered by vigilantes and volunteers with the assistance of soldiers on Sunday afternoon.
Meanwhile, the Kaduna State Government confirmed the attack on the Gwaska Village.
While condemning the incessant attacks on the people of Birnin-Gwari, the state governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai said that a Battalion of the Nigerian Army would be put permanently in the area to check the killings.
El-Rufai condoled with the people of the Birnin-Gwari Emirate Council, following fatal attacks on the people of the area.
According to the governor who spoke through his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr. Samuel Aruwan on Sunday said to contain the situation, the government said that the military would be stationing a permanent Army battalion in Birnin-Gwari.
In the statement, the Governor expressed concern over the incessant banditry and has been engaging the Federal Government on the matter.
He directed the State Emergency Management Agency to provide relief materials with immediate effect to the affected communities.
“The Kaduna State Government has received with sadness reports of the murder of our citizens by armed bandits in Birnin Gwari. The government has sent a message of condolence to the people of Birnin Gwari Emirate.
“Kaduna State Government is deeply committed to overcoming the unfortunate criminality and banditry being carried out against innocent citizens in Birnin Gwari local government.
Meanwhile, the governor of Taraba State, Arc. Darius Ishaku, weekend described as false and misleading, claims by President Muhammadu Buhari that Fulani herdsmen don’t move around with AK-47 rifles but sticks and machetes.
The President had made this claim during his bilateral meeting with the President of the United States, Donald Trump, in Washington DC, last week.
“The problem of herders in Nigeria is a very long historical thing. The Nigerian herders don’t carry anything more than a stick and occasionally a matchete to cut down foliage and give it to their animals, these ones are carrying AK-47,” President Buhari had said in defense of killer herdsmen.
However, speaking to journalists at a special awards dinner organised in Abuja by the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, Governor Ishaku insisted that it couldn’t have been imaginary that farmers were killed with AK-47 rifles in their clash with herdsmen in Taraba and Benue states.
“It’s absolutely wrong for the President to say herdsmen don’t move around with guns.
I mean, who then kills who? It couldn’t have been imaginary that people have been killed with AK-47 in the farmers-herdsmen clashes. “We simply have to stand up to the truth and do something to stop the killings,” he said.
On the effects of the recurrent clashes between farmers and herdsmen on the health sector in Taraba, Governor Ishaku who bagged an award of excellent service in the health sector at the ocassion, said:
“The current insecurity has put a lot of pressure on our health facilities much more than we anticipated. We already have between 100,000 to 150,000 persons displaced as a result of the clashes.
“Taraba was relatively peaceful before now, and unarguably the safest state in the Northeast. But today, we we are having our own share of the herdsmen problem and that has strained our health systems. Which means, we have to do more in the sector by injecting more funds and employing more doctors and specialists.”
He further expressed his delight over the NMA award and said it will not only deepen his commitment towards helping Tarabans live more healthy lives but also spur him on to do more more in revamping the state’s health sector.
Reacting to the spate of killings, President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Samson Ayokunle, has informed the Federal Government to expect more protests from the Christian community against persistent killings in the country.
Ayokunle, who was speaking, yesterday, in Ibadan, Oyo State, on the success of the nationwide protest held last week across churches in Nigeria, hailed the media for being transparent.
He explained that the protests took place in church premises to avoid hoodlums hijacking the peaceful process.
The CAN President, however, vowed that the protests would be sustained as long as the killings in the nation persist.
He said, “This government should expect more protests from CAN for as long as the killings of innocent souls continue in this country.
“There are some other people who will still protest this Sunday (yesterday) because the information got to them late; so, they could not observe it last Sunday. We have told them it must be peaceful and within their communities,” Ayokunle said.
The CAN boss wondered how the herdsmen keep outsmarting the security agencies in all their attacks.
He added, “Our concern now is that it appears as if the insurgents, herdsmen and so on appear to be better trained than our own security agencies.
“Why should the killers continue to beat the intelligence of our security agencies? How are they succeeding in attacking soft targets all over Nigeria and the security agencies cannot outsmart them? Why has it been impossible for them to arrest them?” Ayekunle queried.
Meanwhile, no fewer than 27 persons have been reportedly killed and several houses set ablaze after suspected bandits attacked Gwaska village in Birnin Gwari Local Government Area of Kaduna State, last Saturday.
The attack came barely a week after nine local miners were killed by gunmen at Janruwa village in Brinin Gwari.
It was gathered that armed bandits, who reportedly came in from Zamfara State, surrounded Gwaska up to Kuiga village around 2.30pm, and killed nine persons, mostly children.
The attackers were said to have also burnt down about 3,000 inhabitants in the village and survivors mostly women were taking refuge at Doka district in the area.
Members of the local government under the umbrella of the Birnin Gwari Vanguards for Peace and Good Governance said most of those killed are volunteers that tried to defend the village and children that cannot escape the onslaught.
“We called on the authorities to take urgent steps to forestall further attacks and extinction of communities in Birnin Gwari Local Government Area of Kaduna State,” a member of the community said.
Another who pleaded anonymity said, “The gunmen came in from Zamfara State axis. They attacked and killed many people, mostly children. They also completely burnt down many houses in Gwaska village where they spent over three hours.
“The survivors escaped to Doka village and the injured ones have been taken to Birnin Gwari hospital.”
When contacted on phone for confirmation of the latest incident, the Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Mukhtar Aliyu did not answer calls put across to his phone at the time of filing this report.
PDP Inaugurates 15 Convention Sub-Committees –
Wike Chairs Special Duties Committee
6,000 Delegates Expected To Attend
The Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) National Convention Committee, yesterday, in Abuja inaugurated 15 sub-committees for its national convention scheduled for October 30.
The sub-committees as read by the Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Duoye Diri, include the National Convention Organizing Committee, chaired by Adamawa State Governor, Hon Ahmadu Fintiri.
Others are Constitutional Amendment Committee, chaired by Akwa lbom Governor, Udom Emmanuel; Zoning Committee chaired by Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi; Screening Committee, chaired by former Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke.
Sub-committees and their chairmen also inaugurated were Screening Appeal Committee chaired by Senator Ike Ekweremadu; Special Duties Committee chaired by Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike; Accreditation Committee chaired by Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa; and Security Committee chaired by former Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase.
The Electoral (Statutory) Committee, with Adamawa Governor, Hon Ahmadu Fintiri as the chairman; Publicity Committee chaired by Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki; and Venue Committee, chaired by Bauchi State Governor, Senator Bala Mohammed are also among them.
Others include: Welfare and Entertainment Committee with Mariya Waziri as chairperson; Transportation Committee, with Ibrahim Dankwambo as chairman; and Contact and Mobilization Committee with Taraba Governor, Darius Ishaku as chairman.
The rest are, Protocol Committee with Sen. Biodun Olujimi as chairperson; Medical Committee — Nuhu Zagbayi; and Secretariat Committee — Umaru Ibrahim Tsauri.
Inaugurating the sub-committees, Fintiri expressed belief that the October convention would be successful and lead PDP to victory in 2023.
Fintiri said that the leaders and members of the sub-committees were carefully selected to organize a credible convention for the party.
The Adamawa governor urged them to make the necessary sacrifices to deliver the best convention to the party.
Fintiri, fielding questions from newsmen after the inauguration, said that by PDP’s new constitution, over 6,000 delegates were expected at the convention.
“We are fully prepared for that. We are expecting everybody in every ward that is a delegate to attend the convention.”
He said that the sub-committees had been given directions and they were expected to go back, adequately prepare and submit their report to the main committee for approval.
On which part of the party’s Constitution would be amended, Fintiri said he could not pre-empt the Constitution Sub-Committee, but allow them do their job.
On how far the zoning committee had gone after the one-week appeal he gave them, last week, Fintiri said the committee was in a meeting in Enugu carrying out its responsibilities.
“You can see the party is working, and it is a turning point for all of us,” Fintiri said.
According to him, the leadership tussle in the party has largely been addressed even as he came short of saying the PDP has moved on from the crisis.
He said, “We are moving on. I am the chairman of the convention committee and you can see that we are doing our work. Everybody is happy and participating. I don’t see any crisis in this party.”
The party’s national elective convention is slated for October 30 and 31 this year in Abuja.
RSG Recommits To Building Agric Sector
The Rivers State Government has said that it was committed to building the agricultural sector and utilise the huge potentials the state has for the benefit of Rivers people.
The state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, stated this while speaking at a seminar of the Norwegian Seafood Council at Hotel Presidential in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Represented by his Deputy, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, Wike said, “In the face of dwindling oil prices, and the need to diversify the economy, we see a lot of potentials in the seafood industry especially post Covid-19. This is an important industry for creating employment opportunities, generate revenue and boost economic activities in our area”.
Wike, who said that Rivers State was one of the coastal states in the Niger Delta endowed with valuable seafood resources, revealed that Norway and Nigeria have had a long history of relationship and trade.
According to the governor, “Rivers State, known as the oil and gas hub of Nigeria, is open to do business in all sectors including maritime and welcome more partnerships and investments from stakeholders who wish to do business in the state”.
Wike further said, “In the effort to grow our economy, the Government of Rivers State supports making laws that work for us all, by putting laws in place to improve society’s efficiency. Hence, the assent and signing of the VAT law”.
The Rivers State chief executive, who commended the Norwegian Seafood Council for conducting the seminar in the state, stressed that stock fish was enjoyed across Rivers State by all groups, including low and high earners, while both men and women are involved in the sales in our markets.
“I believe this seminar will examine the many advantages and gains of seafood as well as anticipated support from the Norwegian Embassy in the areas of encouraging deep sea fishing, trawlers, good storage for sea products, training to grow and nurture fish production standard, fish ponds and open fish farms, use of technology and encouragement, support to artisan farmers.
“We believe that the gains for removing stock fish and stock fish heads from the list of items not valid for the FX windows far outweigh the losses if any.
“For all the reasons stated above and many more, we anticipate Federal Government and the CBN’s removal of stock fish and stock fish heads from the list of items not valid for the Central Bank of Nigeria FX window”, Wike further stressed.
In his remarks, the Ambassador Royal Norwegian Embassy, Knut Lein, who described the history of stock fish in Nigeria and Norway as fascinating, said it creates a bond between both countries, and expressed the desire to foster increased cooperation, build on bilateral relations and inform the government of Norway about the opportunities in the country.
He said, “together we could create lots of jobs”, insisting that “doing what we can to promote stock fish trade was a win-win for all of us”.
Highlights of the occasion were the presentation of papers by the Director Africa, Norwegian Seafood Council, Mr. Trond Kostveit, and other stakeholders.
The Norwegian Ambassador, Mr. Knut Lein, had earlier paid a courtesy call on Governor Nyesom Wike, at the Government House in Port Harcourt, where the state chief executive expressed the state government’s desire to continue to partner with the Norwegian Embassy to facilitate economy growth and development of both countries, and the state in particular.
Encourage States To Harness Own Resources For Dev, Wike Tasks FG
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has said Nigeria must encourage federating states to harness their resources and generate revenues, including Value Added Tax (VAT) to advance their development.
He also stressed that it was baffling to note that Rivers State was not included among states to benefit from any of the projects to be executed with the fresh loan that the Federal Government was seeking to obtain from the World Bank.
Wike made the observation when the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the SUN (Newspaper) Publishing Limited, Mr Onuoha Ukeh, led a delegation to present letter of nomination to him as the SUN Man of the Year 2020 Award at Government House, Port Harcourt, last Monday.
The Rivers State governor observed that there were mounted attempts to frustrate federating states like Rivers, to actualise the constitutional provisions that empower them to harness their resources and revenues, particularly VAT.
The governor decried the situation where the legality of states collecting VAT was not considered on the merit of the law by some public commentators, including state executives, rather, they were politicising it and looking at it from prism of ethnicity and religion.
According to Wike, what the FIRS was doing was illegal, and could be likened to robbing some states to pay others.
“You don’t even need to be a lawyer to know that VAT is not in Items 58 and 59 of the Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution as amended. Everybody knows that. It is not even in the Concurrent List. Therefore, it falls under the Residual List. It is not arguable. That yesterday, nothing happened, does not mean that today, nothing will happen or tomorrow, something will not happen.
“Nigeria should encourage states to be strong enough to have resources to develop themselves. We are in a federal system where we are practicing unitary system. Everybody at the end of the month will run to Abuja to share money. Nobody comes back to the state to think, how do I develop my state.”
He explained that the contest against the collection of Valued Added Tax (VAT) was started by Lagos State, which had sued the Federal Government at the Supreme Court.
According to him, Rivers State only avoided their pitfall by suing the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), which is an agency of the Federal Government that was illegally collecting the tax in the state.
“The issue of VAT did not start from Rivers State. It started in Lagos State when Lagos State challenged it in Supreme Court. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court said you (Lagos) shouldn’t have sued the Federal Government. All you would have done was to sue the agency.”
The governor observed that rather than commend Rivers State Government for seeking to entrench fiscal federalism and constitutionalism, a particular state governor had threatened that the judgement of the court that declared that states, and not FIRS, are entitled to collect VAT within their jurisdiction, will not stand.
He urged those demanding for a brothers’ keeper consideration to first, appreciate the position of the law and situate it rightly.
“Some people say, ‘be your brother’s keeper’. I have no problem in being my brother’s keeper, but why not come out and say, let us tell ourselves the simple truth: as it is provided in the law, who is the person responsible to collect the VAT?
“When you agree to that, that it is the state, then, we can sit down to look at the different problems of states. And not to say ‘be your brother’s keeper’ while you’re doing an illegal thing, in disobeying what the law says you should not do.”
Wike stated that it was sheer act of discrimination for the Federal Government not to include Rivers State as one of the states that will benefit from projects for which it was seeking fresh foreign loans to execute.
“Look at the money that Federal Government has gone to borrow from the World Bank. Of all the projects, in all the states, Federal Government did not include Rivers State.
“Look at the list of projects that states will benefit from this money they’re borrowing from the World Bank that they have sent to National Assembly for approval, the only state that is not benefitting is Rivers State”.
He further noted, “It is the prerogative of Mr President; if he says he does not like Rivers State, if the ruling party says they don’t like Rivers State, I won’t kill myself. But leave the one that the law says I should be the one to collect so that I will be able to develop my own state.”
Speaking further, Wike explained that beyond the provision of infrastructure, his administration was seeking a law that would provide comfortable accommodation for judicial officers on retirement.
The reason, he said, was to ensure that, while in service, the judicial officers can concentrate on their jobs without cutting corners, and avoid corrupt practices.
In his remarks, the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the SUN (Newspaper) Publishing Limited, Mr Onuoha Ukeh, said the SUN Man of the Year 2020 Award was the flagship of award the company.
According to him, Wike was unanimously selected for his remarkable contributions to the socio-economic development of Nigeria and promotion of fiscal federalism with his position on VAT, which would help in the restructuring of Nigeria.
“Today, His Excellency has guided Nigeria to true federalism with the issue of VAT. Knowing what fiscal federalism should be, His Excellency went to court to challenge the collection of VAT, and the court stated that actually the states should collect VAT. And that is laying the foundation for true federalism and fiscal federalism”, he said.
Ukeh commended Wike for his sterling performance in office and infrastructural revolution taking place in Rivers State.
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