The Pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, and the apex Igbo Youth body Ohanaeze Youth Council yesterday called for the immediate sack of all the nation’s Service Chiefs, following the recent killing of over 100 soldiers by the dreaded terrorist group, Boko Haram insurgents in Melete, Borno state.
The Pan-Yoruba group which stated this at the end of its monthly meeting in Akure, Ondo state capital, lashed out at the Federal government for being indifferent and insensitive to the killings by the Boko Haram insurgents.
The group said “First, it kept quiet for six days after the incident and when it found its voice there were no soothing words for the bereaved families
“We were more pained at this tragic and monumental loss by the high insensitivity the Federal Government displayed on this matter.”
Afenifere also expressed concerns over the massacre of the ill-equipped Nigerian troops despite the injection of $1billion by the Federal government some few months ago, to equip the military to fight the Boko Haram.
Reading the group communique after it meeting, the Publicity Secretary of the group, Mr Yinka Odumakin said “the massacre of our ill-equipped troops by the evil sect raises serious concerns about the state of our armed forces to combat readiness in spite of the unappropriated $1b the government claimed it disbursed months back to equip our military against insurgency.”
The communique read “Meeting was devastated by the killings of over 100 Nigerian soldiers in Melete a week ago by the dreaded Boko Haram terror group.
“It had hardly made the bland statements before descending into the gutter of political quarrelling over the killings at a time a more sensitive leadership should have declared national mourning for the high casualties recorded which many countries never matched in wars that lasted for several years.
“Afenifere demands as a first step the immediate removal of the Service Chiefs who are already in their retirement years but are still kept in service by the President in what many have interpreted as partisan needs as we move towards the next elections.
“Their illegal stay, in spite of not being effective, it has equally killed morale in the armed forces as three sets of officers have now had their careers stagnated.
“The sack of the Service Chiefs should be followed with a probe of what has happened to defence allocations as we as a people cannot reconcile our extremely vulnerable troops and wailing soldiers in the forest with the heavy spendings the government claimed it has committed to security.”
The group however sympathised with the families of the officers and men of the armed forces who lost their lives while defending the country and said “it is our prayer that God will comfort them and intervene in the affairs of our country and give us a leadership that is more than equal to the challenges we face.
The group also lamented over the continued rate of kidnap in South west region, especially Ondo state and said “meeting was briefed about the continuous criminal activities of armed herdsmen in the South West as evident in the kidnapping of six Ondo indigenes on November 14 as they were returning from Akure to Ikare Akoko.
“The people who were kidnapped at Ago Ajayi, a farm settlement between Ose and Ikare in Akokoland included five men a woman snatched in two cars.
“They were released after three days in captivity after being subjected to live threatening experiences and ransom paid.
“Their abductors made them view the horror of decapitated bodies of their previously Killed victims as they wielded AK 47 rifles.
“These unhinged security challenges continue to daily show that the country’s security architecture has collapsed under the crushing weight of unitary arrangement that concentrates the country’s Security apparatus only in the hands of the Federal Govt.
“We cannot continue without decentralising the police for proper security at state levels.”
The Afenifere group also condemned some elements for using the name of Senator Ayo Fasanmi and Afenifere to prosecute divisive agenda.
Odumakin said “We ordinarily would have ignored the antics of some APC politicians who are using the name of Senator Ayo Fasanmi to prosecute divisive agenda as they normally do at elections seasons in recent time without regards to what they are doing with old age.
“We are constrained to make this once and for all clarification that Senator Ayo Fasanmi has not been active in Afenifere for some years and could therefore not be the Leader of the Afenifere group as being wrongly disseminated by a section of the media.
The group called on Fasanmi “ to make it difficult for people without noble intention to continue to use his name for unedifying purposes.”
Also, the apex Igbo youth body, Ohanaeze Youth Council, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to rise up to his constitutional responsibility and eliminate the continued killing and kidnapping of innocent citizens in Nigeria.
The group urged Buhari to send the current security chiefs on compulsory retirement over alleged misappropriation of one billion dollars security funds approved to them by the presidency.
It said the alleged corruption in the nation’s security agencies had hindered the war against insurgency, advising the federal government to properly equip the security agencies to enable them tackle insurgents’ activities in the country.
The Ohanaeze’s position was made known, in a statement signed by the National President of OYC, Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro, OYC National President and forwarded to newsmen yesterday afternoon.
The apex Igbo youth organization, however condoled the families of the victims of Boko Haram attack which occurred in Maiduguri, Borno state, which also led to the killing of Nigeria soldiers.
COVID-19: RSG Quarantines Caverton Pilots
The Rivers State Government has announced that the two pilots arraigned before a Chief Magistrate Court for contravening the Executive Order signed by the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, to check the spread of the novel Coronavirus are being detained at a state government facility for the protection of inmates of Port Harcourt Correctional Centre.
In a statement, the Rivers State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Prof Zacheaus Adangor said the two Caverton Helicopters’ pilots remanded by a Magistrate Court, last Tuesday, were not sent to the Port Harcourt Correctional Centre but were quarantined in Delta Hotels.
Adangor explained, “after the demands were made, I had to return back to the court, and applied for a variation of that order changing the place to any Rivers State Government facility, including Delta Hotels. The court considered that, and granted that application for variation.”
He maintained that ab initio, the state government knew that remanding the pilots in the Correctional Centre would jeopardise the lives of inmates and would put the lives of its citizens at risk.
Currently, he said, the two pilots are being attended to by health officials attached to COVID-19 medical team, to monitor them and ensure they are isolated to ascertain their health status.
“The truth of the matter is that the Honourable Attorney-General of Rivers State applied for and obtained a variation order from the Chief Magistrate Court, Port Harcourt, changing the place of remand from the Port Harcourt Correctional Centre to any Rivers State Government-owned facility or building including Delta Hotels, GRA, Port Harcourt.
“Based on that order of variation of the remand order, the two pilots are being remanded at Delta Hotels, Old GRA, Port Harcourt, and are attended to regularly by medical personnel attached to the Rivers State COVID-19 medical team.”
The statement added: “For the avoidance of doubt, we want to restate that none of the two pilots spent a second at the Port Harcourt Correctional Centre.
COVID-19: Palliative C’ttee Doles Out Foodstuffs To Obio/Akpor
The COVID-19 Palliatives Distribution Committee in Rivers State has commenced the distribution of foodstuffs in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area (LGA), aimed at cushioning the effects of the Stay-at-Home order by the state government and closure of markets across the state.
Making the presentation of the food items to representatives of the various wards in the LGA, Chairman of the committee, Amb Desmond Akawor, noted that the gesture was in accordance with the covenant the state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has with Rivers people.
According to the chairman, it is also done in acknowledgement of the fact that everything possible has to be done to prevent the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic from either infecting anyone in the state or spreading, knowing how vulnerable the state was.
“We are well aware of the prevailing global COVID-19 pandemic that is ravaging the whole world. Our Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike was the first governor in the country that had the political will to lock down our environment, so that the spread of this virus will not extend to Rivers State.
“With all the entry points from other parts of the world into Rivers State, through the sea and international airport … For us, we consider it as a covenant he (governor) has made with Rivers people to protect their life.
“Due to the excruciating pains Rivers people are going through because of the closure of markets, the governor has considered it necessary for food items to be made available to communities. We started with the social welfare homes”, he said.
Handing over the food items to the representatives of the various wards, which included clergy men, youth leaders, and leaders of gender groups, Akawor urged them to ensure that the items get to the downtrodden in their midst, saying that the process would be monitored to ensure that the aim was not defeated.
In each ward visited, the clergy men among them spoke on behalf of the recipients, thanking the state government for the timely response and provision of supplies to enhance the welfare challenges communities have been faced with in terms of food, with a promise that it would get to everyone in their domains.
Akawor was accompanied by members of the committee, comprising religious and political leaders, non-partisan and military personnel.
The distribution continues, today, to other parts of the 23 local government areas of the state.
“We are proceeding to all wards, what we are doing is that we are handing over these items to the community leaders. It has no political undertone”, Akawor added.
However, the Rivers State Government, yesterday, concluded the distribution of palliatives to the different wards of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area.
This is in order to cushion the effect of measures in place to check the spread of Coronavirus.
The Chairman of Rivers State COVID-19 Palliative Committee, Amb Desmond Akawor, stated that the committee has involved traditional rulers, clerics and civil society leaders to ensure that the foodstuffs get to the people.
Speaking at the Palace of Nye-Weli of Akpor Kingdom, Amb Desmond Akawor, said the driving force for Governor Nyesom Wike was his determination to serve Rivers people.
At the Obio/Akpor Local Government Council Secretariat, Amb Desmond Akawor urged those sharing the palliatives to work in line with the dream of the governor to reach out to everyone.
Nyeweli of Akpor Kingdom, Eze Aniele Orlu Oriebe expressed appreciation to the Rivers State governor for investing in the welfare of Rivers people.
He said that the foodstuffs donated by the Rivers State governor will solve the problem of hardship and hunger being faced by the people during the implementation of the COVID-19 precautionary measures.
In his remarks, Rev. Cannon Chukujekwu Okoli thanked the Rivers State governor for the kind gesture, saying that God will be with him.
He prayed God to grant the governor the strength and courage to continue to reach out to the downtrodden affected by the measures aimed to check the spread of Coronavirus.
COVID-19: US Repatriates 997 Citizens Back Home
The United States Mission in Nigeria has helped 997 Americans return home to reunite with family and friends during this time of unprecedented challenge posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
From April 6-8, three U.S. Consulate-organized chartered flights operated by Delta Airlines and Ethiopian Airlines repatriated 850 American citizens from the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, to the United States.
This is in addition to the 147 U.S. citizens who departed Abuja on April 4.
A statement by the US Mission in Nigeria, made available to The Tide, yesterday, indicated that, “These repatriation flights were made possible by a tremendous effort by the U.S. Consulate team and great cooperation from Nigerian partners, including the Ministry of Aviation, Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), the Nigeria Immigration Service, and the Lagos State Government.
“The State Department’s effort to bring Americans home during the COVID-19 pandemic has required a remarkable diplomatic and logistical effort. As of April 8, 2020, the Department of State has coordinated the repatriation of 50,339 Americans from 94 countries since January 29, 2020,” it added.
The United States Consul General, Claire Pierangelo, noted in the statement that “in times of emergency, the United States Department of State has no greater priority than the safety and security of U.S. citizens overseas.
“This has been three weeks in the making. We had more than 50 people working on this on a daily basis to make sure that we can find the Americans, get the planes, secure flight clearances for the planes to land here, and also ensure safe passage of the Americans travelling to the airport since the city is on lockdown.
“It was an enormous effort, and I am incredibly proud of my team. We appreciate all the help from our Nigerian partners. We couldn’t have done this without them,” Pierangelo said.
She noted that U.S. Mission remains committed to working closely with the Government of Nigeria and the various health authorities to keep everyone healthy and safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
It would be recalled that the U.S. government has pledged more than $7million in health and humanitarian funding to Nigeria in response to the pandemic that will go toward risk communication, water and sanitation activities, infection prevention, and coordination.
This assistance joins more than $5.2billion in health assistance and more than $8.1billion in total assistance for Nigeria over the past 20 years.
The United States is providing nearly $274million to help dozens of countries to combat the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), furthering America’s commitment to humanitarian assistance and global health.
The U.S. citizens who remain in Nigeria seeking COVID-19 information are encouraged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Programme @step.state.gov and check the U.S. Mission Nigeria website and social media handles for messages and updates.
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