The Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume, said on yesterday that 847 Nigerian soldiers killed by the Boko Haram terrorists from 2013 till date were buried in the Military cemetery located in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
He said the figure did not include other soldiers killed by the insurgents and buried in other military cemeteries located in other parts of the North-East geopolitical zone.
Ndume, who stated this while briefing journalists in Abuja on the findings by his colleagues who recently returned from Maiduguri, however, denied reports of mass burial of soldiers killed by the terrorists.
He also said the Senate panel was already investigating allegations that some non-governmental agencies operating in the North-East were providing useful information to the Boko Haram leaders.
Ndume also dismissed claims of the existence of mass graves where soldiers killed by Boko Haram insurgents had been buried.
He said during the visit of his committee to theatre commands in Borno State, it was discovered that soldiers were under-equipped to confront the insurgents.
Ndume also decried the inadequate number of soldiers confronting insurgents.
He called on the government to recruit more men into the service to aid the fight.
However, as the Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume, yesterday, alleged that a total number of 847 soldiers were killed and buried in the military cemetery in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, the Nigerian Army has challenged him to provide a proof to substantiate his statement.
Ndume had reported that 840 Nigerian soldiers were killed by Boko Haram terrorists from 2013 till date, noting that other soldiers killed by the same insurgents, and were buried in other military cemeteries are not inclusive.
But in a repost by Army’s spokesman, Col Sagir Musa, the Nigerian Army quashed the allegation, and challenged Ndume to provide a proof to substantiate his statement.
Musa said, “If he says so, then, he should substantiate. What is his source? Let him provide it”.
Similarly, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has raised the alarm that no fewer than 48 medical doctors have been abducted across the country in the last two years.
Its National President, Dr Francis Faduyile, who said this in Akure during the association’s 2019 Physicians Week, described the development as worrisome and unacceptable.
Faduyile lamented that “Some of our members that were kidnapped in some cases even died in the kidnappers’ den.
“At least, two doctors have been kidnapped in two-third of the states across the country within the last two years.
“It is worthy of note that all is not well with Nigerian doctors, the kidnapping of our members in the course of discharging their duties to the Nigerian state with some still in captivity.
“Incessant harassment/assaults by patients and their relations and the unfortunate maltreatment by employers (government), ranging from poor general working environment and emoluments to irregular payment of salaries with arrears running to 12 months or more in some states.
“Our members, two in number, kidnapped in Taraba in the last six months have not been released by their abductors.
Faduyile, therefore, appealed to government at all level to be more responsive and responsible to the welfare of Nigerian physicians who are making selfless sacrifices to sustain healthcare delivery in the country amidst challenges, including incessant harassment, kidnapping in the line of duty.
“The abysmal physicians to patients ratio and rise in brain drain brought about mainly by the poor general working condition in the health sector”.
He said the theme of this year’s Physicians Week, “Care of the Unknown Patient” was chosen to bring to fore issues affecting Nigerians who suddenly find themselves in an unconscious state from traumatic cause to majorly road traffic accident or medical conditions.
The NMA regretted that the government “has not deemed it pertinent to accord the desired attention and value to this category of patients.
“There is a lack of commitment to the implementation of the National Health Act which provides for the care of patients in an emergency situation.
“There is no enduring policy to cater for victims of a road traffic accident which accounts for large numbers of unknown patients”.
Faduyile equally lamented that there is no policy statement that clearly addresses the various components of the emergency care service for victims of gunshot injury.
The association, therefore, called for “an enduring and unambiguous policy statement that takes into consideration the critical aspects of care in an emergency.
“We advocate for the provision of defibrillators at the strategic public arena and health facilities for the prompt care of patients with a heart attack and related conditions either in the hospital setting or before taking such patients to a health care facilities for proper care”, he added.
RSG Debunks Receipt Of N78bn Refund From FG …Dissolves Taskforce On Illegal Street Trading, Motor Parks …Pulls Out Of FG’s Public Works Programme
Rivers State Government has debunked the misconception that it has received N78 billion refund from the Federal Government.
The State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, made the clarification yesterday in a Radio Programme.
Pastor Nsirim explained that there is a huge difference between approval and release of funds.
“As at today, the Rivers State Government is yet to receive the N78 billion. There is so much misconception out there. There is a difference between approval and release of funds.
“When the money is released it cannot be a secret because in government circles such an information cannot be hidden.
“Let me state categorically that if the money is received today, it will be made public. So, this idea of peddling propaganda that the money has been received by mischief makers is quite unfortunate,” he stated.
He also used the opportunity to clear the air on the questions being asked in several quarters over what the State Government needs more loans for when it has N78 billion, saying, “you cannot plan with what you do not have.”
The Commissioner also assured Rivers people that when the refund is finally received, the State Government would use it judiciously for the benefit of the people.
“If the refund is received they can always count on Governor Nyesom Wike to use it judiciously to increase the infrastructural development of the State.
In another development, the State Government has approved the dissolution of the State Taskforce on Illegal Street Trading and Motor Parks with immediate effect.
A statement signed by the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim said “consequently, the Special Assistant to the Governor in charge of the Task Force, Mr. Bright Amaewhule has been relieved of his appointment”.
The statement continued that “members of the Taskforce are hereby directed to return the operational vehicles and Identity Cards of the body to the Office of the Secretary to State Government not later than 4pm tomorrow, Wednesday, August 12, 2020.
“They will be paid their salaries as they return the vehicles and Identity Cards. Government will reconstitute the Taskforce after proper orientation and training”.
Meanwhile, the Rivers State Government has pulled out of the Special Public Works Programme of the Federal Government where 774,000 unskilled Nigerians were supposed to be employed.
Nominee of the Rivers State government in the committee, Erastus Awortu, made the decision of the state known in a letter addressed to the Minister of State for Labour and Productivity, Festus Keyamo, SAN.
Awortu, who is also the Special Adviser to Governor Nyesom Wike on NDDC, alleged that the implantation of the programme, which was designed to employ 1,000 persons per local government area, has been hijacked by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State.
The Rivers State nominee described the Special Public Works Programme as a scam.
Awortu said in the letter, “At the beginning, some guidelines were set on how the slots should be shared among the various interest groups. The various interest groups are 35 and have representatives in the committee but unfortunately, that is not being done by the committee. The guidelines are not being followed.
“The committee has been asking people to process their applications but we found out that they also gave out forms to APC members in the state. Which means they already know those they will shortlist for the programme and they are only stressing other people to apply. They are doing that to justify that due process is being followed but that is not the case.
“I find it very misleading and as the representative of the governor, I will not be part of that kind of process where the populace will be made to apply for what is not available. It is an absolute scam.
“Accordingly, I want to say that since the slots are not defined as per the guidelines that the state is willing to allow the programme be run fully as an APC empowerment programme for their members and cease to be part of it forthwith,” Awortu said.
The Chairman of the Special Public Works Programme in River State, Dr Innocent Barikor, had on a radio programme over the weekend in Port Harcourt, said the committee had no plans to undermine the state government in the implementation of the programme.
According to the letter made available to The Tide, Awortu copied the Rivers State Governor, Chief NyesomWike and the Chairman of the Public Works Programme, Dr Innocent Barikor, in the withdrawal letter.
Assailants Murder Obiano’s SSA On Security
Unknown assailants yesterday stormed the residence of Mr Azubuike Ekwegbalu, the Senior Special Assistant to Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State on Security, leaving him dead after allegedly stabbing him with a kitchen knife.
Our correspondent gathered that the incident occurred early hours of yesterday at his residence at the Commissioners’ Quarters, Awka, a high brow area for government officials.
An eyewitness said the late Ekwegbalu, who hails from Ogbunike in Oyi Local Government Area of the state, was a close relation to the wife of the governor.
“He was murdered by unknown men last night at the commissioners’ quarters, Awka.
“This is barbaric. May his soul rest in peace.
“Security operatives must do all that is possible to bring the killers to justice,” the source said.
Confirming the incident in a statement, the spokesman for the Police Command in the state, SP Haruna Mohammed, said one suspect, who was seen in the premises had been arrested.
“On August 9, 2020, about 1:30 a.m., there was a report of alleged murder of one Azuibuike Ekwegbalu, aged 43 years, native of Ogbunike in Oyi LGA but resident at the Commissioners quarters Awka.
“Following the report, Police detectives attached to ‘B’ Division Awka led by the DPO, CSP Emma Ogbuanya visited the scene and rushed victim who was found in a pool of blood to COOUTH Awka for medical attention.
“He was certified dead by the medical doctor on arrival while his corpse was deposited at the hospital mortuary for autopsy,” he noted.
Mohammed said a careful observation on the deceased body revealed stab wounds while a blood-stained kitchen knife was also recovered as an exhibit at the scene.
“Consequently, one suspect who allegedly was in the premises has been arrested and the case is under investigation to unravel the circumstances surrounding the incident,” he stated.
Insecurity In Nigeria, Alarming, Wike Alerts …Suspends JAAC Accounts From Defaulting Banks
Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says insecurity in Nigeria has reached an alarming proportion.
He has therefore called on security agencies to redouble their efforts in curbing it.
Governor Wike expressed the concern yesterday when the new General Officer Commanding 6 Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General Olu Irefin paid him a courtesy visit at Government House, Port Harcourt.
He noted that the prevalence of insecurity in every State of the Federation seems to overwhelm the military.
Governor Wike stated that the situation is different in Rivers State because of the robust collaboration between his administration and the security agencies.
“Our determination is to keep the State safe but development also attracts criminality, so we can’t say we are totally free.
“There are still pockets of criminal elements. So, as a professional whose role is to defend the territorial integrity of the country, fight crime and do not involve in politics.
“We are willing to collaborate with you as a government because security is important for us. Just let us know what you require to succeed in the fight against criminality.
“That way, we will be partners in progress and make the State safe for all residents,” he stated.
Earlier, the General Officer Commanding 6 Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General OluIrefin commended Governor Wike for his developmental strides.
He said on assumption of duties, his commanders told him that they have enjoyed tremendous support from the state government in the discharge of duties.
He pledged to sustain the existing collaboration in protecting lives and property in the State
Meanwhile, the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has directed the removal of Joint Account Allocation Committee (JAAC) from banks that gave unauthorised loans to some Local Government Chairmen in the State.
Governor Wike gave the directive on Wednesday, while swearing in the substantive Chairman of the Asari-Toru Local Government Area at Government House, Port Harcourt .
He directed the State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice to take legal action against the defaulting Banks.
Governor Wike said both the Banks and the Councils that defaulted would suffer the consequences of the illegality.
He noted that the Banks cannot seek refund of the loans because they contravened extant Laws of the State.
“We have taken a decision that for all those loans taken without approval, the affected accounts must leave the defaulting banks.
“I have told the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice to take necessary steps. The Banks cannot go and seek for refund from the Local Governments. When you default the Law, you suffer for it.
“Council Chairmen who want to take loans from banks must get official approval. You cannot take loans that will mortgage the future of the people”, he stated.
Governor Wike charged Mrs. AlasoJohnbull Obi to use her new position to make a difference because the people are yet to feel the impact of the Council.
“Go and put your local government together. Do not allow busy body politicians to distract you. Use this opportunity you have to make a difference.
“We never thought that Chief Odiari Princewill will die but as God will have it, he is dead and we have to abide by the constitution.
“That is why you, as the deputy, has to step in as the substantive chairman of Asari-Toru local Government Area today.
“In choosing your Deputy, you must consult widely with all the stakeholders of the Party. As election is coming up next year, you have an opportunity to sell yourself,” he added.
Until her swearing in, Mrs. AlasoJohnbul-Obi was the Vice Chairman of the Council but the death of the elected chairman, Chief Odiari Princewill on the 27th May, 2020 created a vacuum that needed to be filled.
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