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Gunmen Kill Scores, Raze Houses In Ogoni Communities

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No fewer than 10 people were killed and property worth millions of Naira destroyed when gunmen, suspected to be cultists, invaded Okwale and Taabaa communities in Khana Local Government Area of Rivers State.
The Tide reports that the first attack was launched about 6pm in Okwale community on Tuesday leaving, at least, four persons dead with the residence of one Chief Monday Abueh and others touched by the rampaging gunmen.
Also, similar violent attack was carried out in Taabaa community on Wednesday morning with about five persons killed; while the assailants razed the Palace of the Paramount Ruler of Taabaa, M.S.K Nule and burnt cars packed in the compound, three generator sets and other valuable properties.
The incident also spilled over to Nyokuru community in Khana, where the daredevil hoodlums set fire on the residence of the President, Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), Comrade Legborsi Pyagbara, just as it was further leant that three policemen were injured.
It was not exactly clear what led to the invasion and sporadic gunshots as residents of the area ran in different directions and into the bushes to avoid being hit by bullets.
Recounting the incident to newsmen, the Paramount Ruler of Taabaa, M.S.K. Nule said efforts by the community to have a police checkpoint near the area has been unsuccessful, saying, “”This morning (Wednesday), some cult boys invaded Taabaa through our neighbouring community called Luekum. They entered into the community at about 6am. They moved straight to my palace and burnt down the entire place. And some ancestral properties of the palace were removed by the hoodlums before they set the buildings ablaze.
“They moved from my palace into the community, where they killed five people, four indigenes of the community and one outsider (stranger) who ran away from Kpor for refuge in Taabaa. They burnt people’s cars; my elder brother’s was also burnt.
“When those people came into the community, we ran and reported to the policemen at a police checkpoint in Taabaa along East-West Road. They were over 20 policemen at that checkpoint, with three Hilux vehicles and their private cars as at the time of the attack.
“They (policemen) told us that their duty is to protect the East-West Road and not the community; that we should call the Commissioner of Police, Mustapha Dandaura. The whole people in the community were there begging them but they insisted that it is not their duty to protect the community, except directed by the CP,” Nule narrated tearfully.
Nule revealed that he had written a petition to the State Police Command when he got wind of a planned attack on his community, saying, “While the operation was going on, I also called the Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Nnamdi Omoni and reported to him.
“There has never been any crisis in the community since 2014 that the community had such experience,” Nule said, just as he called on the state government and security agencies to intervene and return normalcy in the area.
In her account, a resident who did not want her name in print for fear of being identified and attacked said, ”At about 6am this morning (Wednesday), I was preparing to travel to Port Harcourt. As soon as I got to the road, everywhere was dried; nobody was seen on the road and is a busy area. About 15minutes later, somebody came on a bike and asked me to run that the whole village is under siege. They said some militants have entered the community and that they have started killing people.
“I ran back to the house in safety. By the time the gunmen left the community, they have killed about five people, burnt cars and houses. Our Highness’ house was burnt and another building was also burnt. After they left my community, they went to Nyokuru, and we are not sure of the number of persons killed there. They invaded Okwale yesterday (Tuesday) evening and killed some people. They burnt cars and houses in the community, and one person was taken alive”.
A male resident of Taabaa told The Tide that “From 8am to 9am on Wednesday, some group of boys came to our community and started chasing people and shooting. We ran into the bush.”
Meanwhile, the member representing Khana/Gokana Constituency at the House of Representatives, Hon Dumnamene Dekor has promised to support security agencies to ensure that the perpetrators of the attacks were unmasked and made to face the law.
Dekor, who stated this after he visited the affected communities and the hospital where the injured policemen were being treated, said, “I understand in Okwale, there are about five persons killed; four corpses have been recovered; one person was taken alive. In Taabaa, five persons killed, several cars burnt, houses destroyed and it is quite sad.
“While thanking the security operatives for the swift way they acted to prevent loss of more lives and property, I want to call on them to improve on the security, especially in Khana Local Government Area.
“For those who carried out this dastardly act, everything is being done to unmask them and bring them to book,” the federal lawmaker stated.
Commenting on the incident in a statement, MOSOP expressed sadness over what it termed “unjustified attacks”, and called on security agencies to ensure that peace returns in the area.
The statement issued by MOSOP’s Publicity Secretary, Sunny Zorvah reads, “MOSOP receives with sadness reports from some Ogoni communities of the sudden emergence of violence and killings carried out by members of some cult groups in the area.
“Reports say the renewed violence, which took place in Okwale on Tuesday (yesterday), spilled over to Taabaa and Nyokuru communities, all in Nyokhana district in Khana LGA of Rivers State.
“MOSOP is pained over this unjustified attacks leading to the burning down of the house of the MOSOP President, Comrade Legborsi Pyagbara, in Nyokuru community.
“The movement also feels distressed over reports of the killing of about four persons early today (Wednesday) and razing of the palace of His Highness, “Chief Nule (Jnr) in Taabaa community, and yesterday’s killing of scores of persons and attack on the residence of Chief Monday Abueh and others in Okwale community by cult gangs.
“This ugly situation demands urgent and thorough actions by the security agencies and every necessary action required of the government.
“We call on the police and the Special Joint Military Task Force to ensure the return of peace to the troubled communities, go after perpetrators of this barbaric and retrogressive onslaught on the communities, but without hurt on innocent persons.

 

Dennis Naku

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North Can Live Without VAT Accruals, NEF Boasts …Backs Wike, Southern Govs On Fiscal Federalism, Restructuring

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The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has boasted that the North was a rich region, and can survive on its resources without the “billions” accruing to Southern states.
The NEF Director of Publicity and Advocacy, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, made this known, yesterday, when he featured on Arise TV’s ‘The Morning Show’ breakfast programme.
He was reacting to the tussle between states and the Federal Government on the collection of Value Added Tax (VAT).
VAT is a consumption tax paid when goods are purchased and services are rendered, and charged at a rate of 7.5 per cent.
Although Rivers and Lagos states have started the process of collecting VAT within their territories, the Court of Appeal, in a ruling on September 10, ordered that status quo be maintained pending the determination of an appeal filed by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) against the judgment of the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt.
Apart from Lagos and Rivers states, Ogun State has also started the process of passing a bill on VAT in its House of Assembly.
At the Southern Governors’ Forum meeting in Enugu, last Thursday, the 17 governors insisted that they have the constitutional mandate to collect VAT, and vowed to ensure that the rule of law prevails in the matter.
While some northern governors like Aminu Masari (Katsina), Yahaya Bello (Kogi), amongst others, had kicked against the move, the 17 Southern Governors led by Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) had unanimously supported the position that “the collection of VAT falls within the powers of the states.”
Speaking, yesterday, during the television programme, Baba-Ahmed said, “I will advise that we wait to hear what the court says. However, even the fact that it has become an issue suggests that we really do need to address the fundamentals and the manner in which the federation works.
“We have always supported restructuring. We have always asked that a major and genuine shift initiative either by groups or the National Assembly so that matters like this be addressed properly.
“If we don’t do that now, then, we should get a leader that would do that in 2023. This administration appears not to understand the importance of restructuring; we do in the North, we recognise the fact that we need to change the manner in which we generate wealth and allocate (it).
“The thing is: the North wants restructuring; the North wants fiscal federalism. We are a rich region, and we can live on what we have, even if we don’t have the billions that accrue to others states. Our poverty is not a kind of problem that we would break this country over.”
According to him, the VAT war is a wake-up call to northern governors who need to recognise the fact that VAT or no VAT, they need to develop their resources and develop the human capital of the North.
The NEF spokesman added, “North, you said you have many people but you are under-developing your own people – the biggest liability of the North is that we have a huge population that is under-developed. You need to develop the human capital that you have.
“We need leaders; the current governors don’t recognise this. Otherwise, they won’t be involved in this argument; allow the court to decide.
“But for goodness sake, (they should) begin to think — what else can we do if the court decides now that Rivers State is right, Lagos State is right, and the Southern states are right, and they won’t be getting all these billions coming in from VAT? What happens?”
Baba-Ahmed said the Northern governors at this stage should not be sleeping, noting that the North is “sitting on wealth, we have massive resources in this country, we have to fight insecurity first, and the Federal Government has to help us, we need to clear the bushes, the forests and all the criminals that are there, and we need to go back to farming.
“Agriculture is a major asset; we have land, we have water, we have livestock, we have minerals that are literally begging to be picked from the ground but our governors are too focused on the pittance that they are getting. This is wrong”, he argued.

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Boxing: Joshua Facing Toughest Test In Usyk?

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Boxing champion, Anthony Joshua could face his toughest test yet when he fights Oleksandr Usyk in London on Saturday, says ex-world champion George Groves.
Joshua, 31, puts his WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO world heavyweight titles on the line against Usyk, a former undisputed cruiserweight world champion.
The 34-year-old Ukrainian has won all 18 professional fights, beating Tony Bellew and Derek Chisora on that run.
“Technically, Usyk is brilliant,” said Groves . “He showed that in unifying the cruiserweight division in great fights and I believe he could be Joshua’s toughest test to date. This is the first fight when I wouldn’t be surprised if Joshua got beaten.
“Joshua has fought [Wladimir] Klitschko and been in with Joseph Parker and also been beaten [by Andy Ruiz] and the only question mark for Usyk Is he big enough to compete with AJ?
“If Usyk keeps a high pace and makes Joshua miss with a lot of shots, that will work to Usyk’s advantage as he has probably got a better engine.
“Joshua is a phenomenal athlete with tremendous punching power and strength but has a tendency to tire out if the pace is uncomfortable for him.”
A crowd of more than 60,000 is expected and it will be the largest attendance Joshua has fought in front of since his win over Alexander Povetkin with 80,000 at Wembley Stadium in September, 2018.
Since then, Joshua has lost to Ruiz in New York before winning the rematch in Saudi Arabia and gained a ninth-round victory over Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev at Wembley Arena last December, with only 1,000 fans attending because of Coronavirus restrictions.
Both Joshua and Usyk won gold medals at the 2012 London Olympics, at super-heavyweight and heavyweight respectively, with the Briton going on to win 24 of his 25 professional fights, including 22 inside the distance.
Meanwhile, Dillian Whyte, who lost to Joshua in 2015 and is pushing for a rematch with him or a shot at WBC champion, Tyson Fury, believes the key to beating Usyk on Saturday is to adopt an attacking strategy.
“I think it’s a great fight and Joshua will stop him in the first six or seven rounds,” Whyte told Tidesports source.
“Usyk will start fast and Joshua should be cagey as Usyk is a bit lighter. Joshua can sometimes lack confidence but hopefully he goes back to the old him, starts pressing, being the bigger, stronger guy and gets the job done early.
“If Joshua sets the pace, he can get an early knockout and if he is strong, confident and walks him down, then I don’t see Usyk’s punches troubling Joshua.”
Groves, who held the WBA Super-Middleweight belt in 2017 and 2018, added: “If I was Joshua, I would take control of the ring and try to dominate and bully off the front foot.
“Usyk will want to be off the back foot for the first couple of rounds, then try to pepper Joshua.
“If I was in the Joshua camp, I would say: You want to keep this guy in his box. You don’t want Usyk having any confidence, so hit him hard and early.
“In the first three rounds, you want to land something big on him.”
Promoter Eddie Hearn also suggested Joshua could get an early victory.
Hearn said: “I’m always nervous for an Anthony Joshua fight, especially when you’re fighting someone that really believes he is going to win”.

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2022 AFCON: ‘Cameroon On Track’

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The Confederation of African Football (CAF) President, Patrice Motsepe, has said that Cameroon is “on track” to successfully host the Africa Cup of Nations early next year after visiting Olembe Stadium in Yaounde last weekend.
The venue will host the opening match and final of the AFCON in January and February of 2022.
A CAF delegation, including President Motsepe and General Secretary, Veron Mosengo-Omba, were joined by Cameroon’s Sports Minister, Professor Narcisse Mouelle Kombi in inspecting progress made at the Olembe Stadium and various other facilities in the capital city.
“I’m very satisfied with the briefing I got and what I saw. I saw the Olembe Stadium and it is world class; we should all be proud as people of Cameroon and as Africans,” said Motsepe, as quoted by CAF’s website.
“We must applaud Cameroon [for] building such infrastructure. In partnership with the Government, the Minister of Sports, LOC, FECAFOOT President and CAF administration under Veron [Mosengo-Omba], I’m certain that in January next year, the rest of the world will be impressed. I’m very satisfied with what I have seen. We are on track.”
Motsepe continued: “The quality of football that will be played here will once again show the world that Africa has the quality to one day win the FIFA World Cup, that is the ultimate goal. The AFCON is special and I think it is important for us to set the tone in Cameroon.”
Mosengo-Omba also heaped praises on Olembe Stadium: “The infrastructure and architecture of the stadium is world class and can be compared to many other famous stadiums globally. In Cameroon, we have six beautiful match venues. Our job now is to ensure that we are ready with everything else.”

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