The United States-based Interfaith leaders, after a fact-finding mission to northern Nigeria which has been under sectarian attacks since 2009, has declared Nigeria a ticking time bomb which may soon become the most dangerous place on the planet.
‘Does anyone give a damn about the innocents dying every day in West Africa? If so, it’s time to show it,’ the leaders of the mission, Rabbi Abraham Cooper and Rev. Johnnie Moore, said at an event after their return to US, yesterday.
A source close to the mission confirmed that the Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, Rabbi Abraham Cooper; and the President of The Congress of Christian Leaders and a Wiesenthal Centre honouree, Rev. Johnnie Moore; last week, embarked upon a fact-finding mission to northern Nigeria to investigate targeted attacks by Islamist extremists against vulnerable Christian communities and other issues related to the ongoing conflict in West Africa.
Throughout the week, they met with Christian and Muslim religious leaders, representatives of non-governmental organizations, senior government officials, and more than 50 survivors of attacks by Boko Haram, ISWAP, and herdsmen.
Consequently, Cooper and Moore said in a statement after the interface, “You, like us, have no doubt heard of the attacks on communities throughout vulnerable parts of Nigeria.
“You’ve heard of the kidnapping and abuse of young women, the churches that have been burned, the homes that have been razed, and of the million or more children now roaming the streets out-of-school.
“Maybe, last week, you also heard about the second anniversary of the kidnapping of the courageous teenager, Leah Sharibu, or the torching of a bus the week before that or of the grotesque beheading of a noted Christian pastor two weeks before that.
“After our journey there, we want the world to know that you haven’t heard half of it. The terrorists aim to ethnically cleanse northern Nigeria of its Christians and to kill every Muslim who stands in their way.
“If things don’t change immediately, portions of Nigeria and the broader Lake Chad region may soon become the most dangerous place on the planet.
“This portion of Africa will be ground zero for the next generation’s war on terrorism, and the humanitarian cost of letting these problems fester and multiply in the near-term could result in disaster for much of Western Africa.
“Our message to the leaders of Nigeria is that the status quo is unacceptable, and the government must do more to immediately fulfill its fundamental responsibility to protect all of its citizens”, Cooper and Moore added.
Similarly, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, has cried out over the killing of Christians in Nigeria.
Kanu called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to take actions against the killing of Christians across Nigeria.
In a series of tweets, yesterday, the IPOB leader stated that the abduction of Leah Sharibu by Boko Haram insurgents and attacks on people of the South-East were examples of killings against Christians.
The IPOB leader urged both the ICC and the United States’ State Department, and international community to stop such atrocities.
He tweeted: “When will the world take action to stop violence against #Christians in Nigeria?
“The OTP of the @IntlCrimCourt’s preliminary examination of crimes against Christians in #Nigeria including #Biafrans must proceed to a formal investigation.
Govs Assure Easy Flow Of Essential Goods
The 36 states governors have pledged their commitment to ensure that the operations of manufacturers of essential goods and services are unhindered during the period of the lockdown in the country.
The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) was quoted as giving the assurance in a letter signed by the forum’s Chairman and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi, written to the manufacturers.
In a statement signed by the Head, Media and Public Affairs of NGF Secretariat, Mr Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, yesterday in Abuja, Fayemi assured the continuous operations for food, beverage, pharmaceutical and healthcare companies.
The governors, according to the statement also threw their weights behind making essential goods and services available to the citizenry, throughout the lockdown period.
This was fallout of the concerted efforts by governors to bring succour to Nigerians during the lockdown and ensure that the remedy did not ultimately turn out to be counter-productive.
The governors noted that the decision was reached “considering the crucial role played by manufacturers in ensuring the production of essential items.
“Following careful and deliberate consideration we are pleased to convey to you our full support to ensure that your operations continue unhindered.”
The forum noted that decision was also taken to guarantee the continued effective and efficient movement of essential foods, beverages and medical supplies as well as attendant essential services.
“We note that the whole value chain from farmers to suppliers of raw materials, from manufacturers to suppliers of packaging materials, transporters, distributors, sales teams and retailers should continue with their lawful operations within the confines of the law.
It added that the governors reasoned that key players in the industry whose products were critical to the daily existence of Nigerians would need some waiver to continue to move their products around the country without hindrance.
The letter reads: “In view of the essential nature of food, beverage and pharmaceuticals, all parastatals and agencies of state governments have been advised as follows: To guarantee the continued effective and efficient movement of essential foods, beverages and medical supplies as well as attendant essential services.
“The whole value chain from farmers to suppliers of raw materials, from manufacturers to suppliers of packaging materials, transporters, distributors, sales teams and retailers should continue with their lawful operations within the confines of law and to the extent that current realities permit.
“(a) The operations and activities of food, beverages, medical and pharmaceutical product companies and their suppliers of raw and packaging materials, transporters, distributors, sales team and retailers should not be hindered by officials or agents of the state governments.
“(b) To ensure the safety of food, beverages, medical and pharmaceutical products and also that of the suppliers of raw and packaging materials, transporters, distributors, sales teams, retailers and other employees who will be on the road during this time;
“(c) To guarantee that the distribution and movement of raw and packaging materials and finished products of food, beverages, medical and pharmaceutical products from various points within and across states is seamless;
“(d) That in the event of closure of open markets or shops, clear alternatives are defined on how to get finished food, beverage and pharmaceutical products to consumers in their neighbourhoods;
“(e) The responsiveness of relevant agencies of the state governments in playing their part fully in ensuring that what they need to do as prescribed by the law and extant regulations are carried out with dispatch.”
In order to regulate the operations and forestall abuse, the governors, however, directed all food, beverage, pharmaceutical and medical companies to adhere to certain caveats which include the following:
”Issue all suppliers and transporters a letter of authority confirming that they are authorised by you.
“All your staff need to ensure Identity Cards are carried at all time for all movements, with a copy of this letter of authority.
“All organisations to ensure compliance to all COVID-19 guidelines on social distancing, personal and respiratory hygiene for the safety of individuals and the community at large.”
It added that the suppliers and their operators were to be provided with toll free numbers they could call, in case they had any problems during the course of performing their duties.
Major Shake-Up As Buratai Rejigs Army
The Nigerian Army, yesterday, released the postings and appointments of some affected senior officers in a major shake-up that has swept through critical divisions and commands across the country.
This was contained in a statement signed by the Acting Director Army Public Relations, Colonel Sagir Musa, in Abuja, yesterday.
The statement reads, “The posting, which was approved by the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai, was explained to be a routine/normal exercise intended to reinvigorate the system for greater professional effectiveness and efficiency.
“The major highlight of the posting included – the posting and appointment of Maj-Gen A.C.C. Agundu from Special Task Force (STF) Operation Safe Haven, Jos to Nigerian Army Resource Centre (NARC), Abuja as Senior Research Fellow; Major General H.I. Bature from Defence Headquarters (DHQ) Defence Liaison Office, National Assembly, Abuja to Army Headquarters Department of Civil Military Affairs and appointed Chief of Civil-Military Affairs; Maj-Gen U.M. Mohammed from Nigerian Army Property Limited (NAPL) to the Office of the Chief of Army Staff and appointed Special Adviser, Nigerian Army University, Biu/Deputy Chairman Board of Trustees NAPL; while the erstwhile Special Adviser, Nigerian Army University, Biu, Maj-Gen C.C. Okonkwo is now redeployed to STF Operation Safe Haven, Jos and appointed Commander; Maj-Gen F. Yahaya from Headquarters 1 Division, Kaduna to Headquarters Theatre Command Operation Lafiya Dole (OPLD), Maiduguri and appointed Commander; while Maj-Gen O.G. Adeniyi is redeployed from Headquarters Theatre Command OPLD, Maiduguri to NARC as Senior Research Fellow; Maj-Gen S. Idris from Sector 2 OPLD Damaturu, Yobe State redeployed to DHQ Abuja and appointed Director, Liaison.
“Others affected include – Maj-Gen A.A. Adesope from Office of the Chief of Army Staff Directorate of Audit and Financial Management to NAPL and appointed Group Managing Director; Maj-Gen M.G. Ali from Headquarters Theatre Command OPLD Maiduguri to Headquarters 4 Special Forces Command, Doma, Nasarawa State as Commander; while the erstwhile Chief of Civil-Military Affairs AHQ, Abuja, Maj-Gen U.S. Mohammed has been redeployed to 1 Division, Kaduna, and appointed General Officer Commanding.
“Similarly, Brig-Gen H.I. Daniel from the defunct Army Special Forces Command, Maiduguri to Headquarters Training and Doctrine Command, Minna, and appointed Director, Army Training Support; Brig-Gen B.E. Onyeuko is to remain in DHQ, Abuja as Acting Director, Defence Media Operation; Brig-Gen N.M. Jega from Training and Doctrine Command, Minna to Infantry Corps Centre, Jaji and appointed Chief of Staff; Brig-Gen L.A. Araba from Nigerian Army Welfare Limited by Guaranty, Abuja, now redeployed to Sector 2 OPLD, Damaturu, Yobe State as Ag Commander; Brig-Gen V.O. Ita from DHQ, Abuja to Headquarters 402 Special Forces Brigade, Azare and appointed Commander; while Brig-Gen J.A.L. Jimoh from Sector 3 Artillery Brigade OPLD, Monguno to Headquarters 31 Brigade Minna and appointed Commander; and Brig-Gen G.T.O. Ajetunmobi has been redeployed from 31 Brigade, Minna to Nigeria Army Welfare Limited by Guaranty, Abuja as Executive Director, Operation.
“Others are – Brig-Gen L.G. Lepdung from Headquarters Infantry Corps Centre, Jaji to DHQ, Abuja and appointed Deputy Director, Procurement (Logistics); Brig-Gen M.O. Ihanuwaze to remain in Office of the Chief of Army Staff Directorate of Audit and Financial Management as Acting Director; Brig-Gen E.C. Obi – Osang from the defunct Headquarters 707 Special Forces’ Brigade, Makurdi to Headquarters 401 Special Forces’ Brigade, Makurdi as Commander; while Brig-Gen G.M. Mutkut is redeployed from the defunct Nigerian Army Amphibious Command OPLD, Baga to Headquarters 403 Amphibious Brigade, Baga and appointed Commander; and Brig-Gen J.R. Lar from Nigerian Army School of Artillery, Kachia to Sector 3 Artillery Brigade OPLD, Monguno as Commander.
“Also, Colonel D.J. Abdullahi from the defunct Headquarters Nigerian Army Special Forces’ Command, Maiduguri to Headquarters 4 Special Forces’ Command, Doma, Nasarawa State and appointed Acting Chief of Staff; Colonel E.C. Emere from Nigerian Army Archives to Nigerian Military School, Zaria as Deputy Commandant; and Col M.O. Agi is to remain in Headquarters Nigerian Army Armour Corps, Bauchi as Acting Chief of Staff, among others.
“All the postings and appointments take effect from the 1st of April, 2020.
“While wishing all the officers well in their respective appointments, the Chief of Army Staff enjoined them to take their new responsibilities/appointments seriously and discharge all duties professionally with utmost loyalty to the nation and the service”, the statement added.
Reacting to the changes, yesterday, a former minister of aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, alleged ethnic motivation and victimisation in the shake-up.
Fani-Kayode, alleged that Maj-Gen Olusegun Adeniyi was redeployed for complaining about the condition of troops in the North-East.
It would be recalled that a video had a few days ago emerged of Adeniyi complaining about the welfare of troops fighting Boko Haram in the North-East.
But, Fani-Kayode alleged that the Major General was relieved of his duty after he made the video.
He wondered why Nigeria always rewarded her brightest and best with ingratitude, evil and humiliation.
The former minister described Adeniyi as a true and quintessential patriot, who was worthy of commendation.
Fani-Kayode wrote: “Major General Olusegun Adeniyi, the gallant and courageous commander who led our troops in Operation Lafiya Dole and who won the hearts and minds of millions of Nigerians when he appeared in a video that went viral two days ago complaining about the conditions that his troops were facing on the war front with Boko Haram and asking for better arms, equipment and welfare for them, was relieved of his appointment, yesterday.
“The GOC of the 1st Mechanised Division was directed to take over his position.
“What a pity and what a waste! Why does Nigeria always have to reward her brightest and best with ingratitude, evil and humiliation?
“I wish Major General Adeniyi well for the rest of his career in the military and I want him to know that we are proud of him, his commitment to the war against Boko Haram and the obvious care, love and compassion that he has for his troops. The man is a true and quintessential patriot.”
When contacted on the allegations by Fani-Kayode, the spokesperson of Nigerian Army, Sagir Musa, dismissed the claim as a figment of the imagination of its purveyor, saying that the action was a routine/normal exercise in compliance with global best practices in the military.
COVID-19: Prisoners Attempt Jailbreak In Kaduna
There was an attempted jailbreak by some prisoners at the Kaduna Correctional Centre yesterday.
Our correspondent gathered that there was unrest among the prisoners when reports filtered into the facility located along the Independence Way in the metropolis over the possible spread of the coronavirus to the facility.
The prisoners, it was learnt, feared that they might be affected by the deadly virus as a result of the congestion currently being experienced in the correctional facility.
A resident close to the correctional facility said that he heard gunshots from the prison.
Another source said some of the prisoners attempted to escape to avoid contracting the disease but were unsuccessful.
One of the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told our correspondent on the telephone that, “We learnt the prison inmates are protesting. There is actually unrest there. They are protesting that they can be infected with the coronavirus.”
The Public Relations Officer of the Kaduna Correctional Centre, Mr Nathaniel Gagas, confirmed the incident.
“There is normalcy now. Security has beefed up in and outside the facility. There is no cause for alarm,” another source said.
Our correspondent also gathered that the authorities of the correctional facility sought reinforcement from the Army, Police as well as the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps before the situation was brought under control.
Meanwhile, the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, also known as “Shi’ites”, has warned that nothing must happen to their leader, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenat, currently being held in the facility.
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