President Muhammadu Buhari has condemned the repeated attacks by bandits on communities in Niger State and its environs, directing the Nigerian Air Force to deploy its fighter aircraft in checking the menace.
The president gave the directive in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, in Abuja, yesterday.
Buhari described the repeated attacks which led to the loss of several lives in the affected communities “as a disaster for the nation”.
He, therefore, authorised the deployment of air power to support troops and policemen deployed to the “difficult terrain,” to counter the menace of the attackers operating in the forest area bordering Kaduna, Niger and Zamfara states.
In line with this directive, according to the presidential aide, the Nigerian Air Force is setting up refuelling facilities at Minna, Niger State, to support the air operations.
Shehu revealed that relevant military authorities had assured the president that given the improved weather conditions, a major exercise to “visually acquire targets” and launch attacks would soon follow.
He said: “President Buhari has received assurances that with the harmattan dust gradually easing its hold on the skies, fighter aircraft would this week join the efforts to provide effective air attacks against bandits, kidnappers and cattle rustlers that have been attacking remote communities around Dogon Gona forest in Niger State.”
He added that the Police Command in Niger had equally given assurances that “the planned dedicated air raids to complement the police helicopter gunship operations remain the best approach given the lack of motorized roads in the areas constantly under attack”.
Buhari commiserated with the government and people of Niger State over the attacks and loss of lives, and assured that affected communities would not be abandoned by the rest of the country.
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has urged federal lawmakers to upon resumption, tomorrow, use its legislative instruments to invite President Muhammadu Buhari to address it on the worsening security situation across the country.
The party, in a statement, yesterday, premised its call on what it called “the alarming Global Terrorism Index report by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), which ranked Nigeria as the third country with the highest level of terrorism in 2019, after Iran and Afghanistan.”
Signed by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP described the report as “distressing particularly as its indices show that insecurity and deaths from acts of terrorism increased in Nigeria in spite of promises by the current administration.”
The statement further continued: “The party notes that the IEP rating has further confirmed its position that the security of lives and property in our nation has gone beyond what the Buhari administration’s security architecture, as presently composed, can guarantee.
“Our party posits that the issue of security has gone beyond partisan and sectional sentiments as well as propaganda and now requires a concerted effort by all stakeholders to compel a review of security structure and method by Mr President.
“The PDP, as a pan-Nigerian platform, urges the National Assembly to step in by persuading President Buhari to heed wise counsel and rejig his security high command so as to inject new blood to tackle our security challenges.
“The party also urges the National Assembly to compel President Buhari to take a decisive step in ordering the apprehension and prosecution of perpetrators of acts of terrorism including the mass killing in Benue, Nasarawa, Bauchi, Taraba, Kogi, Adamawa, Borno, Yobe, Zamfara, Kaduna, Ekiti and other parts of the country under the current administration.
“The failure to track down and prosecute the perpetrators of heinous crimes had continued to embolden marauders, insurgents, bandits and kidnappers to further ravage communities and major highways, beheading compatriots, killing, maiming and taking innocent citizens captives in droves, to the extent that our nation has become the third with the highest level of terrorism in the world.
“Indeed, this is not the way to go. Our party restates that such situation should not have been allowed to fester and degenerate to this abyss.
“While the PDP salutes the gallantry and patriotism of our troops fighting and daily risking their lives in the fronts, our party charges the National Assembly to use its legislative instruments to invite Mr President Buhari for an appropriate briefing as a prelude to decisive step towards ensuring adequate security in our country”, the PDP argued.
Similarly, no fewer than four persons were said to have died during a suicide attack on a mosque in Gwoza, in Borno State, yesterday.
Gwoza was at the peak of the ongoing Boko Haram insurgency, the administrative capital and caliphate of the terrorist group.
It was reported that the suicide bomber ran into a group of worshippers during early morning prayer.
As at the time of filing this report, yesterday, no official confirmation has been received from the government or the military authorities.
However, the Nigerian Army troops of ‘Operation Lafiya Dole’ have foiled efforts by the Boko Haram insurgents to attack some soft targets in Borno State.
The Nigerian Army Operations Media Coordinator, Col. Aminu Iliyasu, who disclosed this in a statement, yesterday, said the troops also continued to decimate the insurgents from different encounters across the North-East.
Iliyasu disclosed that the troops of 3 Battalion deployed in Gamborou-Ngala Local Government Area of Borno had on January 18 repelled a Boko Haram attack on the Ngala community.
According to him, the insurgents sneaked into the peaceful community in five gun trucks, motorcycles and a number of foot soldiers through the rear of a humanitarian hub.
“They used a farm as cover with the heinous intent to unleash one of the most devastating terror attacks in recent times.
“Fortunately for the residents, the vigilant troops responded swiftly, engaging the criminals with overwhelming superior firepower, thereby forcing them to beat a hasty retreat in complete disarray.
“During the ensuing pursuit and exploitation embarked upon by the troops, one Boko Haram criminal suicide truck driver strapped with a suicide vest was neutralised.
“Items captured during the encounter include one AK-47 rifle, one FN rifle, one motorcycle and one heavily-laden vehicle borne Improvised Explosive Device (IED) with deadly explosive materials,” he said.
Iliyasu added that preliminary investigations revealed that vehicles laden with IEDs and suicide bombers were heading to the IDP Camp in Gamborou-Ngala before the troops foiled the attack.
He added that five humanitarian workers who took refuge in a bunker during the attack were successfully rescued by the troops.
According to him, on January 24, troops of the same 3 Battalion deployed at Ngala bridge repelled another Boko Haram attack on their location.
He disclosed that the insurgents, who came in three gun trucks and a number of foot soldiers late afternoon, were engaged by the troops and inflicted heavy casualty on both their men and equipment.
The spokesperson disclosed that two of the three gun trucks belonging to the terrorists were captured at the end of the encounter.
He added that two anti-aircraft guns, one GPMG gun, two AK-47 rifles, one GPMG barrel, 688 rounds of 7.62mm NATO ammunition, 20 rounds of PKT ammunition and 63 rounds of 50 ammunition were also captured.
“One neutralised body of the criminal insurgents was recovered during exploitation while several other bodies and the wounded were believed to be carted away as evident by the trails of blood found along their withdrawal route.
“Similarly, on January 24, troops of 7 Division decisively cleared a Boko Haram ambush while on clearance operations between Firgi and Banki Junction in Bama Local Government Area of Borno.
“In the aftermath of the encounter, two Boko Haram criminals were neutralised while others are believed to have escaped with varying degrees of gunshot wounds”, he was quoted as saying.
However, the General Officer Commanding (GOC), 2 Division, Ibadan, Maj-Gen Anthony Omozoje, has advised officers and men of the Nigerian Army to remain disciplined and continue to abide by existing regulations.
Omozoje made the call during the Fire Night organised as part of activities marking the West African Social Activity (WASA) for 2019 in Okitipupa.
Represented by the Chief of Staff of 4 Brigade, Benin, Col. Auwal Haruna, Omozoje said: “To the officers and soldiers of this battalion, I hereby congratulate you for seeing the end of another demanding year.
“I want to use this opportunity to implore you all to remain disciplined and continue to abide by all existing regulations as well as instructions that will be passed to you from time to time.
“We must also be focused and stand firm in order to checkmate militancy, bunkering, vandalism of oil and gas infrastructure, piracy and kidnapping, among other criminal activities in the state and Nigeria at large,” Omozoje said.
The GOC further charged the officers and soldiers to discharge their lawful duties without intimidating citizens.
He called on members of the public to cooperate with the Nigerian Army and other security agencies to ensure that crimes were reduced in the country.
The Nigerian Army has been at the forefront of battle against insurgency in Nigeria.
Recently, troops of Operation Lafiya Dole prevented efforts by the Boko Haram insurgents to attack some soft targets in Borno State.
2023: PDP Govs Task NASS On New Electoral Law
The Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) Governors Forum has tasked the National Assembly to immediately set up a conference committee to harmonize the two versions of the Electoral Act Amendment passed recently by the two chambers.
In a statement, yesterday, the Chairman of the forum and Sokoto State Governor, Hon Aminu Tambuwal, said any delay in the passing and assenting of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill will hamper preparations for the conduct of the 2023 polls.
The forum also charged the National Assembly to adopt the version of the bill passed by the House of Representatives, as it gives the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) the latitude to adopt electronic transmission of election results.
“The PDP Governors’ Forum requests the Senate and House of Representatives (House) Conference Committee when set up, to adopt the House version of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill on the issue of electronic transmission.
“It should be noted that Section 52(2) of the House version says, ‘Voting at an election and transmission of result under this Bill shall be in accordance with the procedure determined by the commission,’ and Section 52 (2) of the Senate version provides, ‘The commission may consider electronic transmission of results provided that the national coverage is adjudged to be adequate and secure by the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) and approved by the National Assembly.
“The Senate version which subjects the decision of INEC to deploy electronic transmission to the decision of the Nigerian Communications Commission and National Assembly is manifestly a usurpation of the powers of INEC and offends relevant provisions of the Nigerian Constitution that guarantees INEC’s autonomy and independence,” the opposition governors.
According to them, INEC has demonstrated capacity to transmit votes electronically with the introduction and deployment of the Biomodel Voters Accreditation System (BVAs), used in the recent bye-election in Delta State.
The PDP governors further charged the National Assembly conference committee on the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, to jettison the position of the House to compel all political parties to adopt one method of conducting primary elections.
“The forum is of the view that political parties should be allowed discretion to adopt either direct or indirect primaries in their Constitutions and in practice.
“The Senate version that retains the original provision in the Electoral Act should be adopted in the interest of the growth of our political parties and freedom of choice, the hallmark of a functional democracy.
“This intervention of the PDP governors is predicted on the need to ensure a free, fair and credible election, that strengthens Nigeria’s democracy, constitutionalism and rule of law. Only a credible election will guarantee accountability and good governance which Nigeria so desperately needs today,” the governors stated.
Cholera: NCDC Records 46 New Deaths In One Week
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) says 46 new deaths linked to suspected cholera cases were recorded in the country in the past one week.
The NCDC said this via its officially verified website, yesterday morning, stating that the situation report was published based on data sent in by the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, for the respective reporting week.
It stated that eight states accounted for the new cholera fatalities.
The public health agency, in its epidemiological report for August 30 to September 5, said a total of 2,323 people had so far died as a result of suspected cholera infections in 25 states and the federal capital territory (FCT), since the beginning of 2021.
It stated that 1,677 cholera infections were recorded in 12 states within the period of one-week, bringing the total suspected cases to 69,925 as at September 5.
“In the reporting week, 12 states reported 1,677 suspected cases – Bauchi (566), Katsina (282), Sokoto (258), Yobe (183), Borno (179), Niger (94), Kaduna (66), Adamawa (34), Gombe (8), Kano (4), Kebbi (2), and Nasarawa (1),” the report said.
“There was a 58% decrease in the number of new suspected cases in week 35 (1,667) compared with week 34 (3,992).
“Of the cases reported, there were 46 deaths from Borno (13), Sokoto (12), Katsina (8), Bauchi (6), Niger (3), Kaduna (2), Adamawa (1) and Kano (1) states with a weekly case fatality ratio (CFR) of 2.7%.
“Twenty-five states and the FCT have reported suspected cholera cases in 2021. These are Adamawa, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Ekiti, Enugu, FCT, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger, Osun, Plateau, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe, and Zamfara.
“As at September 5, 2021, a total of 69,925 suspected cases, including 2,323 deaths (CFR 3.3%) have been reported from 25 states and FCT in 2021.
“Two new states (Osun and Ekiti) reported cases, though with dates of onset in weeks prior to week 35,” it explained.
The NCDC added that the national multi-sectoral EOC activated at level 02 continued to coordinate the national response.
Cholera is a waterborne disease with a high risk of transmission where there are poor sanitation and disruption of clean water supply.
The wrong disposal of refuse and practices, such as open defecation, endanger the safety of water used for drinking and for personal use, thereby leading to the spread of water-borne diseases such as cholera, and without proper WASH, Nigeria remained at risk of cholera cases and deaths.
Buhari Seeks Senate’s Approval For $4bn, €710m External Loan
President Muhammadu Buhari, has asked the Senate to approve a fresh loan of $4,054,476, 863.00, €710million, and a grant of $125million to finance critical projects in the 2021 budget.
Buhari’s request was contained in his letter read by Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan, at plenary following the resumption of the upper chamber from its two-month annual vacation, yesterday.
According to the President, the request is an addendum to the proposed 2018–2021 Federal Government External Borrowing Rolling Plan earlier approved by the National Assembly.
He said that the projects listed in the addendum to the 2018–2021 Federal Government External Borrowing Rolling Plan are to be financed through sovereign loans from the World Bank, French Development Agency, China Exim Bank, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Credit Suisse Group, among others.
“In view of other emerging needs and to ensure that all critical projects approved by FEC as at June, 2021 are incorporated, I hereby forward an addendum to the proposed borrowing plan,” Buhari said.
The letter titled, ‘Addendum to the request for Senate’s concurrent approval of multilateral fund projects under the 2018-2021 Federal Government external borrowing (rolling) plan’ reads, “I write in respect of the above subject and to submit the attached addendum to the proposed 2018-2021 Federal Government external borrowing (rolling) plan for the consideration and concurrent approval of the Senate for same to become effective.
“The distinguishing Senate President may wish to recall that I earlier transmitted a request on the proposed 2018-2020 Federal Government External Borrowing Plan for the concurrent approval of the Senate in May, 2021.
“However, in view of other emerging needs and to ensure that all critical projects approved by FEC as at June, 2021 are incorporated. I hereby forward an addendum to the proposed borrowing plan.
“The projects listed in the addendum to the 2018-2021 Federal Government External Borrowing Rolling Plan are to be financed through sovereign loans from the World Bank, French Development Agency, China Exim Bank, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Credit Suisse Group and Standard Chartered/China Export and Credit (SINOSURE), in the total sum of $4,054,476,863.00, plus €710million, and grant component of $125million.
“The Senate is kindly invited to note that the projects and programmes in the borrowing plan were selected based on positive, technical and economic evaluations and the contribution they would make to the socio-economic development of the country, including employment generation and poverty reduction as well as protection of the most vulnerable and very poor segments of the Nigerian society
“The Senate may also wish to note that all the listed projects in the addendum form part of the 2018-2021 External Borrowing Plan and covered both the Federal and States Government Projects and are geared towards the realization of the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan that cut across key sectors such as infrastructure, health, agriculture and food security, energy, education and human capital development and Covid-19 response efforts.
“I hereby wish to request for the kind consideration and concurrent approval of the Senate for projects listed in the addendum to the 2018-2021 Federal Government External Borrowing (Rolling) Plan to enable the projects become effective.”
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