An Army commander, and at least, 20 soldiers have been killed in an ambush by Boko Haram insurgents in Yobe State.
The troops were ambushed on their way from Borogozo in Yobe where the headquarters of the army’s 29 task force brigade to Benisheikh in Yobe, where they have a forward operating base (FOB).
A military source in Sector 2 Headquarters of Operation Lafiya Dole told newsmen that the incident happened around 6pm, last Wednesday.
“They were on their way to Benisheikh when they ran into the enemy. The commander of that brigade, a colonel, and about 20 soldiers were killed,” he said.
A reinforcement was reportedly sent to the town and it was confirmed that the brigade commander had been killed.
Among the bodies reportedly identified were that of a captain and four soldiers. Their bodies have since been moved to the 7 Division Hospital in Maiduguri, Borno State capital.
Sources said one of the soldiers who escaped the ambush has returned to the base in Benisheikh.
In June, at least, 28 soldiers were reportedly killed while the insurgents ransacked a military base in Gajiram, Nganzai Local Government Area of Borno.
However, suspected armed bandits have killed over 20 persons in Dan Tatsako village in Goronyo Local Government Area of Sokoto State.
A source in the local government says the assailants arrived in the village at night armed with sophisticated weapons and started shooting sporadically.
He says apart from the 20 persons killed, houses and other properties were destroyed by the bandits.
He explains that survivors of the attack fled the village to seek refuge in nearby communities within Goronyo and Isa Local Government areas of Sokoto State.
The Sokoto State Police Public Relations Officer, Mohammed Sadiq, who also confirmed the attack, says the casualty figures are yet to be ascertained.
Meanwhile, an Army colonel, a captain and his four escorts, as well as driver, have been killed by rampaging Boko Haram insurgents between Mainok and Jakana along Damaturu/Maiduguri highway.
Sources revealed the Colonel and his convoy ran into some fleeing insurgents after a heavy gunfire exchange with soldiers at Jakana in an attack that lasted for hours.
A military source, who spoke with our correspondent on condition of anonymity, denied insinuations that it was an ambush.
He said: “The Colonel with his escort was just unlucky to run into the insurgents on his way from Maiduguri to Damaturu without knowledge of the ongoing attack on the highway”.
The source also confirmed that the Colonel is from 29 Task Force Brigade of Sector II of Operation Lafiya Dole.
The source also informed that the insurgents were dealt a heavy blow as one of their gun trucks was burnt and several of them killed.
Another source informed that two civilians were killed in the Jakana attack from stray bullets.
The heavily-armed fighters from the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) group were reported to have opened fire on a patrol vehicle last Wednesday near Jakana, 30 kilometres (18 miles) from Maiduguri, the state capital, killing all the soldiers on board.
“We lost all six soldiers in the ambush, including a colonel,” said the first of two military sources, who both spoke on condition of anonymity.
The soldiers were on their way to Maiduguri from Damaturu, the capital of neighbouring Yobe State, when the jihadists attacked them around 1620 GMT, said the source.
“The gun truck the soldiers were driving in was destroyed,” the second source said.
Following the ambush, the jihadists attacked a military base just outside Jakana in seven trucks fitted with machine guns, engaging troops in an hour-long battle, the sources said.
The attack was repelled by soldiers at the base, with ISWAP fighters abandoning weapons and one vehicle as they fled.
The attacks came hours after a military chief in the North-East warned terrorists in the region to disarm or be destroyed.
Major-General Abdulmalik Bulama Biu told reporters in Maiduguri that the jihadists should lay down their arms “or prepare for a fierce encounter with me”.
Meanwhile, travellers have continued to experience hardship along Maiduguri/Damaturu highway as soldiers mostly closed the use of the high way at any time they want.
Spokesman of the Nigeria Army Sector II, Lt. Njoka Irabor said: “The information available to me is still sketchy. I honestly don’t have any details now but I will get back to you as soon as possible”.
The 120-km Maiduguri-Damaturu road has seen repeated attacks, on military bases and markets in villages like Jakana, committed by ISWAP and Boko Haram fighters — the two jihadist factions operating in the region.
In December, last year, at least, 13 soldiers were killed in an ISWAP ambush near Kareto village along the highway.
The jihadists have also carried out several attacks on motorists on the highway, killing passengers and burning vehicles.
After nearly a decade, the insurgency in North-East Nigeria rages on, spilling into neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
More than 27,000 people have been killed and some two million forced to flee their homes.
Complicating the conflict further was a split within Boko Haram in 2016, which saw the breaking away of ISWAP, a group that has sworn allegiance to IS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Similarly, unidentified gunmen have killed two soldiers and abducted an expatriate at the road construction site in Ukanafun Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.
The incident was said to have occurred, last Wednesday afternoon as the expatriate engineer working with Al Madal Construction Company was inspecting the construction of Ikot Ibritam, Inen Ekeffe and Odoro Ikot to Ukanafun road project awarded by Akwa Ibom State Government.
An eyewitness, Mr Friday Idiok told newsmen that the two soldiers were killed while escorting the expatriate on routine inspection of the road project along Idim Okpok mini-bridge in Inen Ekeffe, the boundary village between Oruk Anam and Ukanafun Local Government Area of the state.
Idiok said the gunmen whisked the expatriate engineer away immediately the two soldiers were shot dead on the spot, and residents ran away for fear of arrest by security operatives.
Shell Donates Subsea Training Facilities To UNIPORT
The Nigeria deep-water arm of global energy giant, Shell, has donated multimillion naira laboratory equipment and software packages to the Offshore Technology Institute of the University of Port Harcourt as part of the company’s Nigerian content human capital development programme delivered in collaboration with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
Speaking at a ceremony to hand over the facilities to the university, last Thursday, Managing Director, Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited (SNEPCo), Mrs. Elohor Aiboni, said, “The donations are aimed at strengthening advanced practical teaching and research in subsea engineering to give the students the required skills and competences for entry level jobs in the oil and gas industry”.
The facilities, valued at over $700,000, are in alignment with the Human Capacity Development Guideline of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB).
Aiboni, represented by SNEPCo’s Social Investment Manager, Dr. Gloria Udoh, expressed optimism that with the level of investment by NNPC and SNEPCo in deep-water training via the establishment centres of excellence and donation of cutting-edge information and communication technology centres, among others, Nigerian oil and gas industry would surpass its local content aspiration earlier than projected.
“This investment anchored on the maintenance of subsea infrastructure on Nigeria’s pioneer deep offshore field, Bonga, is expected to develop and upskill the cognitive and technical abilities of students who pass through the Offshore Technology Institute for the ultimate benefit of our industry and of our country,” Aiboni added.
With the new laboratory and software packages, according to Aiboni, the Offshore Technology Institute is positioned to deliver effective training in engineering design; construction and installation of offshore and subsea structures; computer simulations; civil and construction tests; 3D printing/engravement capability; Measurement/Metering Technology and Robotics; Alternative Energy Technologies; and Data Acquisition Learning System.
In his remarks, Vice Chancellor, University of Port Harcourt, Prof. Onwunari Georgewill, commended NNPC and SNEPCo with its co-venture partners for their goodwill to the university and particularly to OTI, and canvassed more areas of collaboration between the university and its industry partners.
Georgewell said, “This project’s completion is timely because it latches on to the university’s leadership philosophy, which focuses on advancing education through an integrated learning environment to produce industry-ready university graduates and workforce.
“The current administration of the university places a lot of emphasis on university and industry collaboration and partnership. This donation will therefore enhance the achievement of the postgraduate degree-awarding Offshore Technological Institute in the practical context.”
Also speaking, Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Mr. Simbi Wabote, described the human capital initiatives of SNEPCo as commendable.
Wabote added, “I commend your remarkable and consistent collaboration and partnership with the NCDMB towards the development of in-country capacities and capabilities.”
Represented by NCDMB General Manager, Corporate Service and Logistics, Mr Halilu Abdulmalik, Wabote said, “Your Nigerian content initiatives are consistent with the objectives and aspirations of NCDMB’s 10-year strategic roadmap, and we hope that necessary adjustments will be made to the curriculum to ensure optimal utilization by students in the university community.”
Obasanjo, Osinbajo, Wike, Others Bag CAN Awards
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Senator Rochas Okorocha, Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, Emeritus Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, and Mummy Esther Ajayi, were among prominent Nigerians who received awards at the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Sapphire awards in Abuja, last weekend.
Others, including Pastor Enoch Adeboye, Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie, and Chief Arthur Eze, also received awards at the event; while the kidnapped Dapchi school, Leah Sharibu, won in the Young Christian Achiever award category.
Former Head of State, Yakubu Gowon, and Goodluck Jonathan, Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustafa, and some Christian governors, serving and past National Assembly members bagged awards.
The awards were part of activities for CAN’s 45th Anniversary Sapphire Celebration Dinner and Award Night.
Earlier in his welcome address, CAN National President, Rev. Samson Ayokunle, had said that the gathering was to celebrate 45 years of the church in Nigeria.
He said that Governance Category awards were for Christians in politics who had shown excellent and remarkable services.
“These include past presidents, serving governors and senators in our assessment that deserve such award.
“An award ceremony is applause of vision, personal discipline and determination; it is an event like this that makes people feel that their works are valued.
“The award is a catalyst that is expected to reinforce the awardees to serve humanity more and more,’’ he said.
The CAN president said it was heart breaking that majority of those in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps were Christians who were displaced by religious fanatics, bandits and gunmen in their territories.
He solicited the awardees’ financial support in fulfilling some of CAN’s obligations to fellow Christians and bringing to fruition the association’s projects.
Obasanjo, who was represented by the Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, was the special guest of honour at the awards.
Obasanjo said that the award was significant in that it would encourage other citizens to serve humanity, adding “I will continue to do the best I can to uphold the principles of justice, love, equity, mutual respect, industry and the fear of God which epitomise the church of Christ until there’s no breath left in me.”
While showing appreciation to CAN on behalf of all the award recipients, VP Osinbajo said Nigerians needed to be more tolerant of other people’s views.
The vice president dedicated the award to those who, daily in different locations, distant and near, propagated the message of the love and reconciliation of the gospel of Jesus Christ, sometimes in difficult and life-threatening situations.
He said that the awardees were not necessarily the most deserving of Christians to be given any recognition but by the special grace of God which placed them in the high capacity they served.
He said, “As we have seen in the past few years, there’s a growing ethnic and religious chauvinism, and almost intemperate, vehement and violent dismissal of the views of people of other persuasions and faith without adequate consideration.
“At the same time, there is also the rise of cultural and identity politics. The answer to hate and intolerance and conflicts is the gospel of Jesus Christ. We must believe enough in it, to live it out as our article of faith.
“The gospel commands consideration of the views of others, treating them we would wish to be treated. Our words must be of grace, seasoned with salt.
“We must remain constant and relentless advocates of freedom of worship, respect for human rights, fairness, justice, rule of law because they are fundamental to peace and security. We cannot talk of peace and security without fairness and justice, and compliance with the rule of law.
“We are in the advantageous position that our contribution will be more easily noticed.
“So, this award is dedicated to the men who, daily in different locations, distant and near propagate this message of the love and reconciliation of the gospel of Jesus Christ in sometimes even difficult and life-threatening situations.
“And to many who have suffered deprivations, the families of those who have lost their lives by reason of their belief.
“And we are deeply grateful to the Almighty God for the opportunity and enablement to serve in the positions to which we have been referred.
“I bring, also, the very warm felicitations of the President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Government of Nigeria on the 45th anniversary of the birth of this foremost association of Nigerian Christians.
“CAN was formed to, among other objectives, nurture the unity of the church in Nigeria and to work with the leaders of other faith and persuasions to build bridges and forge understanding, peace and unity among the various people and faith in our nation.
“CAN has not only been continually faithful to its founding vision, it has become a veritable force for peace, for unity and for social justice.
“Pursuant to the gospel, CAN has consistently spoken up on behalf of the least of those in our society,’’ he said.
He said that the current and past leaderships of CAN had acted in full realiasation and recognition of their roles as pivotal stakeholders alongside the government and private sector in nation building.
Earlier, Senator Rochas Okorocha, who noted the dire financial condition of the umbrella Christian organisation in the country, advised clerics to tone down their criticism of those in authority.
He said, “I just want to caution some Christian pastors concerning the way we use our pulpit and the kind of fire of insults and abuses that comes from there. When you abuse those who will give you money where will you get the money.
“The Bible says to pray for those in authority. You need to draw your leaders close. When you draw us closer and tell us what your problems are, it will energise us to help. Money will flow more than you need.”
Also, Imam Abubakar Abdullahi, who sheltered no fewer than 200 Christians in Barkin Ladi, Plateau, during an attack, was presented with the Special Recognition award.
The late Obadiah Mailafia, former CBN Deputy Governor, was given a post-humous award of Spokesperson for Oppressed alongside Matthew Kukah, Bishop of Catholic Diocese of Sokoto and Human Rights Lawyer, Femi Falana.
Awards were also given to best candidates in the 2020 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination and Senior School Certificate Examination.
Highlight of the event was the cutting of the anniversary cake.
Bandits Free 10 More Kaduna Baptist Students, Keep 11
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), yesterday, confirmed that 10 more students of Bethel Baptist School in Kaduna State have been released.
The Vice President of CAN (19 Northern States and Abuja) and its Chairman in Kaduna State, Rev. Joseph John Hayab, said this in a short WhatsApp message to newsmen.
He said, “Ten more students of Baptist High School were released this afternoon. We have 11 now with bandits.
“We are thanking all Nigerians for their prayers and support.
“We are trusting God that the rest will be released very soon. All have been reunited with their parents.”
Earlier, 10 students of Bethel Baptist School in Kaduna were released on Saturday, September 18, after spending 74 days captivity of terrorists, with 22 others still being held.
Hayab had said, “10 students were released this (Saturday) evening and have reunited with their parents. We are now hoping for the remaining 21 who are still with the bandits.”
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