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B’Haram Kills 30, Abducts Scores In Fresh Attack …Borno Gov Counters Army On Casualty Figures As Buhari Reacts …FFK Chides FG On Claim Of Technical Defeat Of Insurgents

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Some Boko Haram terrorists have killed, at least, 30 people and abducted many women and children in a raid in Borno State, a government spokesman said, yesterday.
The attack Sunday evening targeted Auno village on a key highway linking the state capital, Maiduguri.
The jihadists stormed the village on trucks mounted with heavy weapons, killing, burning and looting before kidnapping women and children, the state government spokesman, Ahmad Abdurrahman Bundi said.
They aimed at travellers who had stopped for the night and torched vehicles.
The attackers “killed not less than 30 people who are mostly motorists and destroyed 18 vehicles,” Bundi said in a statement after visiting the scene.
The attack, some 25 kilometres (15 miles) west of Maiduguri, occurred in an area where fighters from the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) have been active, mounting roadblocks to target security forces and civilians.
Witnesses said jihadists set alight 30 vehicles in the raid, including trucks that had stopped overnight on their way to Maiduguri.
“Many of the drivers and their assistants who were sleeping in the vehicles were burnt alive,” civilian militia fighter, Babakura Kolo said.
The jihadists combed through the village, looting and burning shops and property before withdrawing, he said.
Auno lies on the 120-kilometre highway linking Maiduguri to Damaturu, a major regional city in neighbouring Yobe State.
The highway has been increasingly targeted by ISWAP militants in recent months.
The surge has followed the creation of so-called “super camps” by the Nigerian military in the North-East – a strategy under which small Army camps have withdrawn from several areas and combined into fewer, larger bases.
Last month, four Nigerian soldiers were killed and seven injured when the jihadists attacked troops positioned in Auno.
However, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) says it has neutralised some key Boko Haram terrorist leaders at Alafa Yagayaga on the fringes of the Sambisa Forest in Borno State.
The NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, who made this known in a statement, yesterday, in Abuja, said the operation was conducted, last Saturday.
Daramola explained that this was achieved on February 8 when fighter jets dispatched by the Air Task Force of Operation Lafiya Dole obliterated a compound in the settlement where the leaders had assembled for a meeting.
“The airstrike was executed on the heels of credible intelligence reports indicating that the BHT leaders had converged at the target compound for a meeting over the weekend.
“Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance missions, which confirmed the meeting venue, also observed several BHTs in and around other buildings in the vicinity of the compound.
“Bombs from the detailed attack aircraft scored accurate hits on the target leading to the obliteration of the compound and surrounding structures as well as the neutralisation of their BHT occupants,” he said.
Daramola said NAF, operating in concert with surface forces, would sustain its air campaign to shape the battle space in the North-East for the effective conduct of further ground and air operations.
However, more facts have emerged from the Auno attack on Sunday along Maiduguri/Damaturu highway.
The Theatre Commander Operation Lafiya Dole, Maj-Gen Olusegun Adeniyi, told journalists, yesterday, that only 10 people were killed in the incident.
But Borno State Governor, Prof Babagana Zulum, who also visited the scene of the attack, said he was briefed by the villagers that about 30 people were roasted in the fire ignited by the insurgents at about 9.30pm on Sunday.
The villagers informed the governor that an unspecified number of women were abducted during the attack but the report has not been verified nor confirmed by any authority.
Another fact also emerged the devastating effect of the fire was aggravated by a military fuel tanker which stocked together with the travelling vehicles that were torched by the insurgents.
But the Theatre Commander Operation Lafiya Dole denied the report, stating: “I have no knowledge of a military tanker on that road at that time”.
The Theatre Commander told journalists that his men averted another tragedy that would have brought sadness by rescuing three school children briskly abducted by Boko Haram along Gubio road.
He noted that his men fought skillfully and rescued the three children (two girls and a boy) unhurt.
The children were handed over to their parents by the theatre commander.
Speaking further on the Auno attack, Adeniyi called on the general public to avoid been stuck at certain locations along Maiduguri road.
He stressed that people should plan their movement very well along the Damaturu/Maiduguri road so that they will not be stuck at some of these locations.
“We normally close the Damaturu road by 5.00pm and it is expected that you time your movement very well so that you get to Maiduguri by 5.0pm of Damaturu by 5pm because the soldiers cannot leave to fight Boko Haram and come back to protect people sleeping on the road who refuse to obey the law in the first place,” Adeniyi advised.
Adeniyi informed that the insurgents came on motor cycle and parked them from a distance and walked down to burn down vehicles of travellers.
“We will do more to ensure that incident like this does not happen again. I am calling on all stakeholders to make the Maiduguri/Damaturu road safe. Until the people realised that there is a counter insurgency going on throughout the northeast.
“As a result of the dastardly activities of the Boko Haram, certain measures have to be taken to safeguard lives and property and the military to conducting counter insurgency, especially on Maiduguri/Damaturu road.
Zulum sympathised with the people of the community and called on them to give the necessary cooperation to the military.
The residents accused soldiers of the town of locking up the town and leaving for Maiduguri and leaving them without protection.
Zulum also corroborated the accusations of the residents, saying that he has made several appeals for the military to establish a unit in Auno but to no avail.
“We have to be brutal in telling the truth. I am pushed to the wall to say the truth. Since I was inaugurated as governor of Borno State, Boko Haram has attacked Auno six times. Another thing is that the military have withdrawn from Auno town.
“I am not undermining the capacity of the military but we have made repeated appeal for the military to establish their unit in Auno. They are here but as soon as it is 5 pm, they close the gate and lock the people and go back to Maiduguri. This is not right,” Zulum raged with anger.
But the Garison Commander of 7 Division, Nigeria Army, Maiduguri, Brig-Gen Sunday Igbinomwanhia, refuted the allegations, saying the soldiers closed the roads and withdrew to the outskirts of the town to protect the villagers, as well as prevent and lunch ambushes on the insurgents.
Eyewitnesses disclosed that a large number of vehicles loaded with goods, shops and houses were set ablaze by the suspected insurgents, who sneaked into the town and launched attack on sleeping travellers at the town which is 24km to Maiduguri, Borno State capital.
A commercial driver, Adamu Tella who used the road told our correspondent that he saw three corpses been conveyed by Civilian JTF.
“I could not count the number of vehicles that were burnt. But I saw three burnt corpses in a vehicle of civilian JTF. I also saw many houses and shops burnt down to ashes,” Adamu informed.
Adamu also informed that his driver friend’s vehicle was also burnt in the incident.
Another eyewitness, Haruna Yunusa, a passenger, said he saw three burnt dead bodies and counted 21 vehicles including trailers, some of them still under fire as at the time he passed through the town on Monday morning.
Auno is one of the towns located along the Maiduguri/Damaturu road which has recently come under serious attacks by the Boko Haram insurgents.
In his reaction, yesterday, President Muhammadu Buhari described the attack as ‘cowardly murderous.’
The terrorists sacked the village of Auno on a key highway, linking the capital, Maiduguri.
However, President Muhammadu Buhari has condemned the ‘cowardly and murderous attack by Boko Haram.
He commiserated with family of victims of the attack, assuring them that his administration would continually frustrate the devilish operations of Boko Haram, and bring it to an end.
Buhari, in a statement issued by his spokesman, Garba Shehu, condemned the “murderous and cowardly attack on innocent passengers by the Boko Haram terrorists near Maiduguri’’, adding: “this administration is ever determined to frustrate their goal to hold Nigeria to ransom.
“The commitment of this administration to protect the lives of Nigerians will not be derailed by the cowardly and indiscriminate violence against innocent people by Boko Haram terrorists,’’ he said, while reacting to recent attacks in Maiduguri.
Buhari, who also condoled with the government of the state, warns “that terrorists are clearly on a back foot and their days are numbered’’.
“As our armed forces continue to receive more hardware and intelligence to counter our current security challenges, the remnants of Boko Haram will ultimately be crushed. The peculiar challenges of asymmetric warfare notwithstanding, our armed forces are ever determined to defeat these enemies of humanity,’’ Buhari said.
The President promised, again, yesterday, that all children kidnapped by Boko Haram terrorists would be set free during his regime.
He spoke at a breakfast dialogue on ‘‘Stop the War on Children Affected by Armed Conflicts, Dividend of Silencing the Guns’’, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, held on the margins of the ongoing 33rd African Union Summit.
Nigeria, Uganda, Norway, the AU Commission and Save the Children sponsored the dialogue.
Buhari said, “A number of schoolgirls from Chibok and Dapchi earlier abducted by Boko Haram have regained their freedom.
“We commend the gallant efforts of the Multi-National Joint Task Force and the partners in supporting the reintegration of the girls.
“Let me categorically reassure you of the steadfast commitment of the Government of Nigeria to ensure the freedom of all kidnapped children from the shackles of Boko Haram.
“We will not relent until every child, boy, or girl, every Nigerian adult in custody of Boko Haram, is freed.”
Among the children being held is Leah Sharibu, the Dapchi schoolgirl denied freedom on account of refusing to denounce Christianity.
It would be recalled that 276 girls were abducted from their school in Chibok, Borno State, on April 14, 2014, by Boko Haram but 57 of the girls escaped to safety almost immediately.
The insurgents eventually went away with 219 of them.
Over a number of years, 107 of the Chibok girls regained freedom but till date, 112 are missing.
A State House statement, yesterday, said Buhari urged African countries and stakeholders on the continent to strengthen the protection of children from the six grave violations during armed conflict.
He noted that the six grave violations were killing and maiming of children; recruitment or use of children as soldiers; sexual violence against children; abduction of children; attacks against schools or hospitals; and denial of humanitarian access for children.
Buhari added, “It is for this reason that the Nigerian government has severally condemned, and is combating frontally the dreadful activities of terrorist groups like Boko Haram and the so-called Islamic State.
“Of course, the severity of these grave violations varies from country to country.
“The incidence of a single violation of children rights in any country is an indelible dent on the African consciousness and is to be deplored and condemned,” he said.
He told AU leaders that they must continue to protect children, taking time to brief the session on efforts Nigeria had made so far to do so.
“To stem the tide of out-of-school children, Nigeria embarked on an all-inclusive reconstruction of schools vandalised by the ravaging terrorist activities of Boko Haram, while returning children are rehabilitated and reintegrated into society.
“Our nomadic education policy is also being implemented to reduce the number of out-of-school children. We have also prioritised de-radicalisation and de-mobilisation of ex-combatant children of Boko Haram insurgents”, his media aide, Mr Garba Shehu, quoted him as saying.
Buhari made a call on the AU Peace and Security Council to spearhead the strategy to stop the war on children and adopt the Child Protection Architecture within the African Peace and Security Architecture and the Roadmap on Silencing the Guns.
He added, “The call to action is now for accountability by all African states to the rights of the children caught up in wars.
“Let us stop the war on children. This is a wake-up call for us all to create the enabling environment for rooting out the impact of armed conflicts against our children across the continent”.
Meanwhile, former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, has charged the Federal Government to stop claiming that Boko Haram has been “technically defeated.”
Fani-Kayode gave the charge while condemning the latest Boko Haram attack that killed about 30 people in Maiduguri, Borno State, yesterday.
In a tweet, the former minister wondered when the Federal Government would live up to its responsibility of defending Nigerians.
Fani-Kayode tweeted: “30 people killed by Boko Haram & many abducted in Maiduguri, Borno state today. Is the Federal Government still claiming that Boko Haram has been “technically defeated?”
“How cruel and insensitive can they be and when will they live up to their duties and honour their obligation to defend our people?”

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Southern Govs Back Wike, Insist On VAT Collection …A’Court Urges Rivers To Submit Written Application For Receiver

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Southern Governors met in Enugu, yesterday, and declared their support for Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, insisting that it is within their purview to collect the Value Added Tax (VAT).
This is coming amid row between the Rivers State Government and the Federal Government, a case that is now subject of litigation.
The governors also reaffirmed their stand on open-grazing ban, urging every state in the region to quickly pass a law to that regards.
The resolution by the Southern Governors Forum is part of the six-point communique reached at its meeting at the Government House, Enugu, Enugu State, and read by Chairman of the Forum and Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN.
The meeting of the Southern Governors Forum, which reviewed the state of the nation and the progress of the implementation of the decisions reached in its previous meetings, expressed satisfaction with the rate at which the states in Southern Nigeria were enacting and amending the anti-open grazing laws which allowed a uniform template and aspiration of Southern Governors, and encouraged the states that were yet to enact the law to do so expeditiously.
Reading the communique after the closed door meeting to journalists, Akeredolu said that the meeting reiterated its earlier position that the next President of Nigeria most come from the southern part of Nigeria, in line with politics of equity, justice and fairness.
According to the communique, the Southern Governors agreed to encourage the full operationalization of already agreed regional security outfit which will meet, share intelligence and collaborate to ensure the security and safety of the region.
Akeredolu opined that the meeting also reaffirmed its earlier commitment to stick to fiscal federalism as resolved at the inaugural meeting of the forum held on Tuesday, May 11, 2021, at Asaba, Delta State, and emphasize the need for the Southern States to leverage the legislative competence of their respective state Houses of Assembly, as well as representation in the National Assembly to pursue its inclusion in the Nigerian Constitution, through the ongoing constitutional amendment.
The communiqué, according to the forum’s chairman, expressed satisfaction with the array of issues around the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) and ownership of NNPC by the larger Nigerian Governors Forum.
The forum thanked the host Governor, IfeanyiUgwuanyi, and chose Rivers State as the next host for the Southern Governors Forum meeting in November, 2021.
Present at the meeting were Rivers StateGovernor, Chief NyesomWike; Delta StateGovernor, Dr.IfeanyiOkowa;AkwaIbom StateGovernor, Chief Emmanuel Udom; and Osun StateGovernor, IsiakaAdegboyegaOyetola.
Others were Enugu StateGovernor, IfeanyiUgwuanyi;Bayelsa StateGovernor, Senator DuoyeDiri;Lagos State Governor,BabajideSanwo-Olu; and Ogun State Governor,EngrOluwaseyiAbiodun.
The governors of Oyo, Ekiti, Edo, Imo, Abia, and Ebonyistates were represented by their deputies.
The communiqué read in full, “The Nigerian Southern Governors’ Forum at its meeting of Thursday, September 16, 2021 held in the Government House, Enuqu, Enugu State, reviewed the state or the nation and the progress of implementation of the decisions reached in her previous meetings and further resolved as follows:
“Expressed satisfaction with the rate at which the states in the Southern Nigeria are enacting or amending the Anti-Open Grazing Laws which align with the uniform template and aspiration of Southern Governors and encouraged the states that are yet to enact this law to do so expeditiously.
“Encouraged the full operationalization of already agreed regional security outfits; which would meet, share intelligence and collaborate, to ensure the security and safety of the region.
“Reaffirmed its earlier commitment to structural and fiscal federalism as resolved at the inaugural meeting of the Forum held on Tuesday, May 11, 2021 at Asaba, Delta State, and emphasized the need for the Southern States to leverage the legislative competence of their respective State Houses of Assembly as well as representation in the National assembly to pursue its inclusion in the Nigerian Constitution through the ongoing constitutional amendment.
“Following from paragraph 3 above, the meeting resolved to support the position that the collection of VAT falls within the powers of the states.
“Expressed satisfaction with the handling of issues around the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) and ownership of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) by the larger Nigerian Governors’ Forum.
“Reiterated their earlier position that the next President of Nigeria must come from the Southern part of Nigeria in line with politics of equity, justice and fairness.
“The forum thanked the host Governor, IfeanyiUgwuanyi, and chose Rivers State as the next host for the Southern Governors’ Forum meeting in November, 2021″.
However, the Court of Appeal, yesterday, declined to accede to the request of Rivers and Lagos states for the appointment of Receiver or Manager for the purpose of collecting and keeping Value Added Taxes (VAT) in place of the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) pending the resolution of all legal disputes in the matter.
The two states separately canvassed that the order of status quo ante bellum granted on September 10 in favour of FIRS to continue the collection be put on hold given the appeal already lodged at the Supreme Court against the order.
Counsel to Rivers State, IfedayoAdedipe, SAN, in his oral application, pleaded with the appellate body to exercise its power under Order 4 Rule 6 of the Court of Appeal to appoint a Receiver or Manager to take custody of the VAT in the interest of justice to parties in the matter.
The Attorney General of Lagos State, Mr MoyosoreOnigbanjo, SAN, who stood for his state, toed the path of Rivers in canvassing that the court be fair and just in the pending appeal.
Onigbanjo specifically asked the Appeal Court to restrain FIRS from further collecting the tax and replace it with a Receiver or Manager that would act for parties that are locked in the legal battle.
The Lagos Attorney General predicated his expressed fear of unjust treatment on the fact that FIRS apart from collecting the tax has been sharing it among the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) despite the pendency of the legal tussle.
“I think it is also necessary to restrain the FIRS, because they collect the VAT, distribute to all the states and keeps their own 4 per cent.
“If, at the end of the day, the court agrees with the judgment of the Federal High Court, how do we retrieve the funds that have been shared?”,Onigbanjo added.
The appeal by the FIRS is against August 9, 2021 judgment by Justice Steven Pam of the Federal High Court in Port-Harcourt, voiding the Value Added Tax (VAT) Act and holding that states could collect VAT.
Justice Haruna Simon Tsanami, who led a three-member panel, directed them to make the application formal by providing the necessary facts, including ascertaining the amount being collected as VAT.
Other members of the panel are Justices BatureGafai and Peter Affen.
Meanwhile, the court has reserved ruling on an application by Lagos State to be made a respondent in the appeal filed by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).
The court, after listening to arguments by lawyers to parties, yesterday, said they would be informed when the ruling was ready.
In arguing Lagos’ application, Onigbanjo (SAN) said his client was a necessary party as it would be affected by the outcome of the case.
He noted that, as a federating unit/state in Nigeria, Lagos was entitled to collect VAT by virtue of the judgment of the Federal High Court that annulled VAT Act.
Onigbanjo argued that even the appellant (the FIRS) recognised that Lagos State has an interest in the case, which he said, was evident in the affidavit it filed, wherein copious reference was made to the Lagos State Government.
He further argued that since FIRS, in an affidavit supporting its application for stay of the judgment, recognised the interest of the Lagos State Government in the case, “it cannot now turn around to say the Lagos State Government has no interest in this case and should not be joined. It cannot blow hot and cold or speak from both sides of its mouth.”
Onigbanjo also contended that it was unfair for the FIRS to oppose Lagos’ request to be heard in the case after making allegations against the state.
He added that even the court recognised the interest of Lagos State in the case when it extended its order on maintenance of status quo to Lagos State, which was not yet a party in the case.
Onigbanjo prayed the court to join his client as a respondent.
Adedipe adopted Onigbaajo’s argument, and urged the court to allow the application by Lagos State.
Following the observation by Onigbanjo that the written address filed by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) was incompetent, the lawyer representing the AGF, TijaniGazali (SAN), withdrew the address, subsequent upon which the court struck it out.
Lawyer to FIRS, Mahmud Magaji (SAN), objected to the joinder application filed by Lagos State, arguing, among others, that the state was not a necessary party.
Magaji faulted the competence of the application, and urged the court to discountenance it.
On second thought, Magaji said if the court was willing to join Lagos; it should extend such indulgence to the other states of the federation.

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Okonjo-Iweala Makes ‘TIME 100’

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Nigerian-born Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has thanked the Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, for the kind words they penned about her as she makes the TIME 100 list of The World’s Most Influential People.
The magazine has noted the globally-rated economist’s activities around the efforts to ensure that everyone on the planet earth gets vaccinated against any preventable disease for which there is a vaccine.
The ex-World Bank guru has been the Board Chair of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, since January 1, 2016.
Gavi has the goal of increasing access to immunization in poor countries.
Concerning the TIME entry, the Duke and the Duchess state, “What will it take to vaccinate the world? Unity, cooperation—and leaders like Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala”.
“As the first African and first woman to lead the World Trade Organization, a 164-member group of nations that oversees trade across the world, Okonjo-Iweala took on the role of director-general this March at a watershed moment for our global health and well-being. Make no mistake; her job affects every person, family and community.
“As we face a constant barrage of vaccine misinformation, bureaucratic slowdowns across both government and industry, and the rise of variants that underscore the urgency of the situation, Okonjo-Iweala has shown us that to end the pandemic, we must work together to equip every nation with equitable vaccine access.
“Our conversations with her have been as informative as they are energizing. This is partly because, despite the challenges, she knows how to get things done—even between those who don’t always agree—and does so with grace and a smile that warms the coldest of rooms.
“The fragility of our world right now cannot be overstated. Just over a quarter of the nearly 8 billion global population is fully vaccinated.
“Achieving vaccine equity is a global duty of compassion for one another. Our hope is that guided by strong leaders like Ngozi, we can get there soon”, they wrote.

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Relocation Of Insurgents, Wake-Up Call, CAN Warns

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The Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Kaduna State Chapter, Revd Joseph Hayab, has described the alleged relocation of Boko Haram leaders to Southern Kaduna as a wake-up call on people of the area.
Hayabsaid that though the news of the alleged relocation was not new, government has not done enough to protect the people.
He claimed all the calls from voices of reason appeared not to have moved both the federal and state governments to rise to the occasion.
“The relocation of Boko Haram to Southern Kaduna is not new. Who are those that have been killing people indiscriminately in that area in the last few years? The church, SOKAPU and the people have been complaining about killings in Southern Kaduna but only fell on the deaf ear of those in authority.
“Therefore, the leaked document has simply confirmed our worries and shows that more days for killings of innocent citizens are coming unless the people take personal initiative to defend their lives and land. Our government has not done enough to convince us that they want to stop the killings going on all over the area.
“Now, we were being told that there is a leaked memo about Boko Haram when those in authority have always turned deaf ears to cries of our people when we complain about killers that people see every day. Boko Haram fleeing North-East to Southern Kaduna is simply a wake-up call for the Southern Kaduna people to rise to the occasion,” he said.
A leaked DSS memo had said insurgents were relocating from Sambisa forest in BornoState to Chikun LGA in Kaduna State.
The alert was in a leaked memo marked NSCDC/NHQ/INT&INVST/323/2021, dated September 9, 2021, and signed by the Acting Deputy Commandant-General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Intelligence and Investigation, B.O. Bassey.
The DSS, therefore, asked the civil defence to be on the alert.
“It has been uncovered, plans by senior Boko Haram fighter, Ibrahim (FNU) alongside his foot soldiers relocating from ‘Sambisa Forest in Borno State to Rijana Forest in ChikunLocal Government Area of Kaduna State with a view to joining their counterpart under the leadership of one AdamuYunusu (aka Saddiqu).
“In light of the above, you are hereby directed to step up surveillance and intelligence gathering on the aforementioned areas and environs.”
Meanwhile, months after the crash involving a Nigerian Air Force (NAF) King Air 350 aircraft on May 21 at the Kaduna Civil Airport, Commissioner of the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), Akin Olateru, has submitted an interim report to the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Amao, at his office at NAF Headquarters, Abuja.
After the crash, the CAS directed that a joint investigative body consisting of NAF safety officers and the AIB be constituted to investigate the causes.
A joint statement by the Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, and General Manager, Public Affairs, AIB, TunjiOketunbi, revealed that at this interim stage, a total of 27 initial findings and eight safety recommendations were made for the convening authority as well as other aviation-related agencies for immediate implementation.
They further disclosed that it is expected that the final report would contain the flight data recorder readout, the reviewed operator’s and service provider’s standard operating procedures as well as other detailed analyses.
While receiving the report, the CAS reiterated the main essence of activating the ‘joint investigative’ clause contained in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the NAF and the AIB on July 1, 2020.
He said successful collaboration is a clear indication of the potency of collaboration in aircraft accident investigation, which must be encouraged.
Similarly, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), has blamed Almajiri system in the North for the increasing cases of banditry, kidnapping, terrorism and armed robbery in the country.
The Chairman of CAN in Imo State, Rev. Eches Divine Eches, stated this in an interview with journalists in Abuja, ahead of the organisation’s 45th anniversary and Founder’s Day billed to hold today in Owerri, the Imo State capital.
According to him, banditry and kidnapping are increasing because the authorities have failed to pay more attention to the critical factors behind the widespread insecurity in the country.
Eches also expressed concern over Sheikh Ahmed Gumi’s links with the bandits terrorising the North-West region and the alleged helplessness of the government to arrest and caution him for his many ‘unguarded utterances’ about their activities.
He said, “You can’t have Almajiri system of life and government in the last 40 years in our nation bringing up people without any trace to families, hometowns or nationalities.
“They are scattered all over the street, without you knowing that someday they will leave the street and go to the bush where they will begin to do the trade of kidnapping.
“Also, you can’t, in any sane nation, have the likes of Gumi, a religious scholar, going about promoting banditry and you don’t think that this will continue. Yet, that is what we are seeing today. We are not seeing anything more than what we have planted.
“We allowed this thing (insecurity) to continue and it is now going to consume the nation, if drastic measures are not put in place to take them (Almajiri) out of the streets, give them a sense of belonging, put them in school, and help them realise their potentials.
“These bandits we find today were the Almajiri who used to be in front of our houses and begging for food.
“We are praying and that is why God is still sustaining our nation. I trust God will continue to sustain us in Jesus name.”
On CAN’s 45th anniversary of its Founder’s Day, Eches said the programme was necessary to remember the labour of past heroes, including over 250 retired church leaders and indigent youth and women who were weak.
“They retired church leaders laboured to bring to bear what we are enjoying and working on today.
“We thought it very necessary to remember the weak among us as most of them are passing through terrible times, especially in such a time as this in our nation.
“So, we thought it very important that we will use this 45th anniversary of our Founders’ Day to celebrate such a people and remember their labours, and say to them ‘you deserve to be celebrated’ both by cash and gift,” he said.

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