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.
Wike Lifts Curfew On Parts Of Port Harcourt …Lifts Suspension Of Obio/Akpor LG Chairman, Deputy …As RSG Moves To Implement Palliatives
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has lifted the curfew imposed on Education Bus Stop to Agip Junction along Ikwerre Road, and Obiri-Ikwerre Junction to Ozuoba, Rumualogu and Choba, effective, today.
Wike also lifted the suspension of the chairman and deputy chairman of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area.
He announced these decisions during a state broadcast, yesterday.
Wike said: “With effect from tomorrow, April 3, 2020, the 24 hours curfew imposed from Education Bus Stop to Agip Junction along Ikwerre Road and Obiri-Ikwerre Junction to Ozuoba, Rumualogu and Choba has been lifted.
“All borders and markets in the state remain closed.
“Following the interventions of some well-meaning citizens of the state, the suspension of the chairman and deputy chairman of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area has been lifted.
“However, this should serve as a warning to local government chairmen and traditional rulers who will allow markets to be open in their areas.
“Residents of Mgbuosimini-Rumueme in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area are hereby warned to desist from flouting government directive on closure of markets or be prepared to face unpleasant consequences.
“Commercial vehicle operators will soon get appropriate directives on their operations in order to maintain social distancing”, the governor said.
Wike explained that his administration was working out palliative measures to cushion the effects of the sit-at-home directive.
He said: “Implementation of palliatives to cushion the effects of recent directives on the citizens will soon take effect.
“International Oil Companies (IOCs) operating in the state should support government by donating towards the containment of the virus”, he appealed.
The governor thanked Rivers people for their cooperation, saying, “My Dear Good People of Rivers State, let me sincerely thank all of you for your patience and understanding all these days.
“The sacrifices we are all making have greatly helped us not to record any positive case since the index case was reported.
“As we continue to put in our best as human beings, we expect that the Almighty God will intervene on our behalf and wipe away this plague from our midst.
“May I, therefore, urge you all to continue to seek the face of God as we earnestly await His divine intervention,” he added.
US, UK Diaspora Groups Hail Wike’s Measures Against COVID-19 Spread
Two Rivers groups based in the United States of America, Ikwerre Peoples Forum, and Rivers Development Forum, have commended the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike for taking proactive measures to check the spread of Coronavirus in the state.
In separate press statements, yesterday, the two groups expressed satisfaction that the governor was committed to the protection of Rivers people through actions that have stopped the explosion of Coronavirus in the state.
The Chairman of Ikwerre Peoples Forum, USA, Mr Michael Ewule, said that after Lagos State, Rivers State was the next major hub in the country that can be accessed through air, land and sea.
He said that the determined efforts of Wike saved the state from the uncontrolled spread of Coronavirus in the state.
The forum stated that: “We have watched closely what is happening all around Nigeria, and we are happy that our Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has worked hard to prevent Coronavirus from spreading.
“We support the measures that have been taken by Governor Nyesom Wike to stop Coronavirus from killing our people. Worldwide, such measures have been taken by governments to stop Coronavirus”, the forum noted.
The group urged the Rivers State Government to continue to review the measures in line with new developments.
The forum stated that it was working with non-governmental organisations and faith-based groups in Rivers State to reach out to Rivers people with donations of hand sanitizers and face masks.
The group also commended Governor Nyesom Wike for setting up a world-class treatment centre, which was handling the index case in the state.
The IPF further lauded the Rivers State governor for mobilising health professionals, facilities and drugs to tackle the disease.
Similarly, the Chairman of Rivers Development Forum, USA, Piegbara Baridoma, said the union was happy with Governor Nyesom Wike for working for the people at this tough time.
He called on Rivers people to support the governor to keep the state healthy through the right measures.
Baridoma noted that the sensitization process by the Rivers State Government since the index case of Coronavirus in Nigeria was reported has helped to create awareness of the disease in the state.
He explained that because the people are aware, it would be easier for health professionals in the state to contain the disease.
Meanwhile, Rivers United Front, a Coalition of Rivers State Indigenes based in the United Kingdom has commended Governor Nyesom Wike for displaying pragmatic leadership in the fight against coronavirus.
In a statement issued by the President and the Secretary of the Group, Dr.Tubotamuno Mpaka and Mr. Kingsley Chimzi respectively, they stated that the proactive approach employed by the Governor has helped to contain the virus.
Lockdown: Open Food Reserve Centres Now, PDP Tells Buhari
Federal lawmakers from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in the House of Representatives have urged President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately unlock the national food reserve agency and distribute items to Nigerians across the 774 local government areas.
This, they said, will curb the spate of hunger in the land amid the lockdown order to halt the spread of Coronavirus pandemic in the country.
In a statement issued by the parliamentarians under the umbrella name, “PDP House of Reps Caucus”, yesterday, signed by their leader, Hon. Kingsley Chinda (Rivers State, PDP) and made available to newsmen in Abuja, the members said that available records indicated that compliance to total lockdown has not always been 100 per cent successful if the food question was not addressed.
While commending Buhari for the directive during his state broadcast last Sunday, the caucus, in the statement titled, “COVID-19 Pandemic: A Call for Further and Decentralized Action”, also asked the National Assembly to immediately enact a law for national food prices control.
The caucus said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly taken our country on the emergency course, unexpected and unanticipated at the beginning of the year that strategic legal, policy and legislative responses have dovetailed into measures directed at curtailing or halting the pandemic.
“As members of the PDP Caucus of the House of Representatives, we have consistently called, and we still continue to call, for measured responses that take the poor economic conditions of Nigerians, the rights of citizens, the scaling up of the medicare framework, into account in the management of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“While many governors have stepped away from what Prof Wole Soyinka rightly described this week as an attempt to halt the spread of the pandemic virus by constitutional piracy, we note that the absence of a structured federal response, based on the dictates of the law, may have led them to ramp up measures outside the remit of their constitutional powers.
“The rule of law has now prevailed, and it is in this light we welcome some of the measures outlined in the President’s belated broadcast and in the Regulation (COVID-19 Regulation 2020) made pursuant to Sections 2, 3 and 4 of the Quarantine Act; though the presidential broadcast and Regulation took a long time coming. Well, better late than never. While we find the measures largely satisfying, it is our considered view that the palliative measures outlined in the presidential broadcast and regulation are not far-reaching enough, while some are completely inapplicable.
“Experiences through history have shown that citizens’ rights to movement are often heavily implicated when measures directed at halting the spread of contagious diseases and restoring public safety do not address the food question behind the curtains, worsening food security conditions.
“During the Ebola outbreak a few years ago, citizens of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone openly defied the restrictions that were imposed on movement to limit the transmission of the disease, after staying indoors for a few days in hunger. We must learn quickly from these experiences by ensuring that immediate measures on food security are ramped up.
“One way of doing this is to open up our national food and grain reserves across the country and distribute food to the poorest of the poor in our country at the Local government level. The President should as a matter of utmost urgency issue an Executive Order, pursuant to his powers preserved by Section 5 of the Constitution 1999, directing the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, National Food Reserve Agency and National Emergency Management Authority to release and manage the distribution of food in our national reserves.
“The Executive Order must set out clear consequences for breach, particularly as they relate to public officials who seize on the times to make brisk businesses and gains from the miseries of the people.
“Other measures such as food prices control should be ramped up; though specific, targeted and temporary legislation on food prices control will be needed for enforcement. This is where the National Assembly comes in – by establishing a framework of teleconferencing and social media communication, where the current lockdown and the medical advisories that bar public gatherings make it impossible for the reconvening of the National Assembly, to deliberate and pass such bills, as the Food Prices Control, COVID-19 Containment, Emergency and Disaster Management, into law.”
Also commending the Speaker of the House, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila and the House for the timely passage of an emergency bill to provide palliatives and the donation of members’ of March and April, 2020 salaries to fight the disease, the opposition lawmakers, however, asked that their deductions be transferred directly to their constituencies, saying they had no confidence in the sharing formula of the government.
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