The Nigerian Army said its soldiers engaged in the counter-terrorism operations in the North-East have thwarted terrorists’ attempt to attack one of its military bases at Damboa in Borno State.
The Army said the soldiers killed 19 of the terrorists, wounded several others and recovered several arms and ammunition from them.
The Media Coordinator in charge of Nigerian Army Operations, Col Aminu Iliyasu, however, said that three soldiers lost their lives during the encounter while four others were injured in the battle.
Illiyasu said the wounded soldiers had since been evacuated to a military medical facility for where they were being treated.
In a statement, Iliyasu said: “A misguided attempt by some criminal Boko Haram elements to attack the troops of 25 Task Force Brigade (Army Super Camp 2) located in Damboa LGA of Borno State has met a crushing defeat in the hands of the resilient troops.
“The marauding criminals mounted on gun trucks and with a number of their foot soldiers attempted to infiltrate the troops’ location from three different fronts in the early hours of 4 March, 2020. The troops responded swiftly, bringing to bear superior firepower against the criminals in conjunction with the Air Task Force Operation Lafiya Dole.
“The encounter, which lasted over an hour, witnessed one of the most debilitating defeats of the Boko Haram criminals in a single encounter since the turn of the year. So far, 19 Boko Haram criminals’ corpses have been recovered while many more were observed escaping with various degrees of gunshot wounds by the troops who are on vigorous exploitation of their initial success along the criminals’ withdrawal route.
“Interestingly, the gallant troops captured from the Boko Haram criminals’ five AK-47 rifles, one general-purpose machine gun and one rocket-propelled gun tube. Regrettably, three valiant soldiers paid the supreme prize while four others were wounded in action.
“However, the wounded in action soldiers have been evacuated to a military medical facility for immediate and effective management.
“To this end, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen Tukur Buratai hereby congratulates the troops of Operation Lafiya Dole for their decisive victory against the enemies of our country. He further urges them to remain steadfast, loyal and resolute in the discharge of their professional responsibilities.
“He further reassures the residents of Damboa and indeed the North-East at large of the unflinching resolve of troops of Operation Lafiya Dole in protecting the lives and properties of all law- abiding citizens.”
In a similar attack in Yobe, gunmen suspected to be members of Boko Haram, overran Dapchi last Wednesday, killing seven Mobile police officers and one unidentified person.
The insurgents stormed the town at about 6:00 pm in four Toyota hilux shooting sporadically.
It would be recalled that Dapchi is the town in Yobe State, where over 110 schoolgirs were kidnapped in 2018, including Leah Sharibu, the Christian girl who refused to renounce her faith in exchange for release by her Boko Haram captors.
However, the coordinator of terrorism de-radicalisation programme Operation Safe Corridor, Maj-Gen Bamidele Shafa, said, yesterday, that 606 ex-Boko Haram fighters are set to be reunited with their families after undergoing rehabilitation under the federal initiative.
Shafa made this known at the opening of a stakeholder meeting to work out modalities for transferring the former terrorists to their national and state government authorities for reintegration held at the Defence Headquarters, Abuja.
According to the general, 25 Nigerians, including 14 male adults, three female adults and eight children, who voluntarily laid down their arms in Niger Republic had been repatriated in February and awaiting reintegration.
The Coordinator, noting that Operation Safe Corridor was established by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 to create a means for repentant Boko Haram fighters to surrender and go through a well-structured de-radicalization and rehabilitation programme, said since its inception, 893 repentant Boko Haram fighters referred to as ‘clients’ have been admitted into the programme, out of which 280, including two Chadians have been transferred to their respective national and state authorities.
On rumours making the rounds that ex-terrorists were being recruited into the Nigerian Armed Forces, Shafa said: “I wish to categorically refute the claim and assure Nigerians that none of the rehabilitated Nigerians from Operation Safe Corridor De-radicalization, Rehabilitation and Reintegration has been recruited into the Nigerian military or any sister security agencies as stringent measures have been put in place to prevent such from happening.”
Meanwhile, the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Gabriel Olonisakin, has dismissed reports that repentant and rehabilitated Boko Haram members were being recruited into the Nigerian military.
Olonisakin, who was represented by Chief of Defence Policy and Plans, AVM Nurudeen Balogun, stated this at a Stakeholders’ Meeting of Operation Safe Corridor, yesterday in Abuja.
At the meeting convened by the Defence Headquarters to work out modalities for the transfer of rehabilitated ex-Boko Haram terrorists to their national and state governments, Olonisakin said, “I wish to assure Nigerians that none of the rehabilitated Nigerians from OPSC Deradicalization, Rehabilitation and Reintegration has been recruited into the Nigerian military or any of its sister agencies.
“Stringent measures have been put in place to prevent such from happening.
North Can Live Without VAT Accruals, NEF Boasts …Backs Wike, Southern Govs On Fiscal Federalism, Restructuring
The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has boasted that the North was a rich region, and can survive on its resources without the “billions” accruing to Southern states.
The NEF Director of Publicity and Advocacy, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, made this known, yesterday, when he featured on Arise TV’s ‘The Morning Show’ breakfast programme.
He was reacting to the tussle between states and the Federal Government on the collection of Value Added Tax (VAT).
VAT is a consumption tax paid when goods are purchased and services are rendered, and charged at a rate of 7.5 per cent.
Although Rivers and Lagos states have started the process of collecting VAT within their territories, the Court of Appeal, in a ruling on September 10, ordered that status quo be maintained pending the determination of an appeal filed by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) against the judgment of the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt.
Apart from Lagos and Rivers states, Ogun State has also started the process of passing a bill on VAT in its House of Assembly.
At the Southern Governors’ Forum meeting in Enugu, last Thursday, the 17 governors insisted that they have the constitutional mandate to collect VAT, and vowed to ensure that the rule of law prevails in the matter.
While some northern governors like Aminu Masari (Katsina), Yahaya Bello (Kogi), amongst others, had kicked against the move, the 17 Southern Governors led by Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) had unanimously supported the position that “the collection of VAT falls within the powers of the states.”
Speaking, yesterday, during the television programme, Baba-Ahmed said, “I will advise that we wait to hear what the court says. However, even the fact that it has become an issue suggests that we really do need to address the fundamentals and the manner in which the federation works.
“We have always supported restructuring. We have always asked that a major and genuine shift initiative either by groups or the National Assembly so that matters like this be addressed properly.
“If we don’t do that now, then, we should get a leader that would do that in 2023. This administration appears not to understand the importance of restructuring; we do in the North, we recognise the fact that we need to change the manner in which we generate wealth and allocate (it).
“The thing is: the North wants restructuring; the North wants fiscal federalism. We are a rich region, and we can live on what we have, even if we don’t have the billions that accrue to others states. Our poverty is not a kind of problem that we would break this country over.”
According to him, the VAT war is a wake-up call to northern governors who need to recognise the fact that VAT or no VAT, they need to develop their resources and develop the human capital of the North.
The NEF spokesman added, “North, you said you have many people but you are under-developing your own people – the biggest liability of the North is that we have a huge population that is under-developed. You need to develop the human capital that you have.
“We need leaders; the current governors don’t recognise this. Otherwise, they won’t be involved in this argument; allow the court to decide.
“But for goodness sake, (they should) begin to think — what else can we do if the court decides now that Rivers State is right, Lagos State is right, and the Southern states are right, and they won’t be getting all these billions coming in from VAT? What happens?”
Baba-Ahmed said the Northern governors at this stage should not be sleeping, noting that the North is “sitting on wealth, we have massive resources in this country, we have to fight insecurity first, and the Federal Government has to help us, we need to clear the bushes, the forests and all the criminals that are there, and we need to go back to farming.
“Agriculture is a major asset; we have land, we have water, we have livestock, we have minerals that are literally begging to be picked from the ground but our governors are too focused on the pittance that they are getting. This is wrong”, he argued.
Boxing: Joshua Facing Toughest Test In Usyk?
Boxing champion, Anthony Joshua could face his toughest test yet when he fights Oleksandr Usyk in London on Saturday, says ex-world champion George Groves.
Joshua, 31, puts his WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO world heavyweight titles on the line against Usyk, a former undisputed cruiserweight world champion.
The 34-year-old Ukrainian has won all 18 professional fights, beating Tony Bellew and Derek Chisora on that run.
“Technically, Usyk is brilliant,” said Groves . “He showed that in unifying the cruiserweight division in great fights and I believe he could be Joshua’s toughest test to date. This is the first fight when I wouldn’t be surprised if Joshua got beaten.
“Joshua has fought [Wladimir] Klitschko and been in with Joseph Parker and also been beaten [by Andy Ruiz] and the only question mark for Usyk Is he big enough to compete with AJ?
“If Usyk keeps a high pace and makes Joshua miss with a lot of shots, that will work to Usyk’s advantage as he has probably got a better engine.
“Joshua is a phenomenal athlete with tremendous punching power and strength but has a tendency to tire out if the pace is uncomfortable for him.”
A crowd of more than 60,000 is expected and it will be the largest attendance Joshua has fought in front of since his win over Alexander Povetkin with 80,000 at Wembley Stadium in September, 2018.
Since then, Joshua has lost to Ruiz in New York before winning the rematch in Saudi Arabia and gained a ninth-round victory over Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev at Wembley Arena last December, with only 1,000 fans attending because of Coronavirus restrictions.
Both Joshua and Usyk won gold medals at the 2012 London Olympics, at super-heavyweight and heavyweight respectively, with the Briton going on to win 24 of his 25 professional fights, including 22 inside the distance.
Meanwhile, Dillian Whyte, who lost to Joshua in 2015 and is pushing for a rematch with him or a shot at WBC champion, Tyson Fury, believes the key to beating Usyk on Saturday is to adopt an attacking strategy.
“I think it’s a great fight and Joshua will stop him in the first six or seven rounds,” Whyte told Tidesports source.
“Usyk will start fast and Joshua should be cagey as Usyk is a bit lighter. Joshua can sometimes lack confidence but hopefully he goes back to the old him, starts pressing, being the bigger, stronger guy and gets the job done early.
“If Joshua sets the pace, he can get an early knockout and if he is strong, confident and walks him down, then I don’t see Usyk’s punches troubling Joshua.”
Groves, who held the WBA Super-Middleweight belt in 2017 and 2018, added: “If I was Joshua, I would take control of the ring and try to dominate and bully off the front foot.
“Usyk will want to be off the back foot for the first couple of rounds, then try to pepper Joshua.
“If I was in the Joshua camp, I would say: You want to keep this guy in his box. You don’t want Usyk having any confidence, so hit him hard and early.
“In the first three rounds, you want to land something big on him.”
Promoter Eddie Hearn also suggested Joshua could get an early victory.
Hearn said: “I’m always nervous for an Anthony Joshua fight, especially when you’re fighting someone that really believes he is going to win”.
2022 AFCON: ‘Cameroon On Track’
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) President, Patrice Motsepe, has said that Cameroon is “on track” to successfully host the Africa Cup of Nations early next year after visiting Olembe Stadium in Yaounde last weekend.
The venue will host the opening match and final of the AFCON in January and February of 2022.
A CAF delegation, including President Motsepe and General Secretary, Veron Mosengo-Omba, were joined by Cameroon’s Sports Minister, Professor Narcisse Mouelle Kombi in inspecting progress made at the Olembe Stadium and various other facilities in the capital city.
“I’m very satisfied with the briefing I got and what I saw. I saw the Olembe Stadium and it is world class; we should all be proud as people of Cameroon and as Africans,” said Motsepe, as quoted by CAF’s website.
“We must applaud Cameroon [for] building such infrastructure. In partnership with the Government, the Minister of Sports, LOC, FECAFOOT President and CAF administration under Veron [Mosengo-Omba], I’m certain that in January next year, the rest of the world will be impressed. I’m very satisfied with what I have seen. We are on track.”
Motsepe continued: “The quality of football that will be played here will once again show the world that Africa has the quality to one day win the FIFA World Cup, that is the ultimate goal. The AFCON is special and I think it is important for us to set the tone in Cameroon.”
Mosengo-Omba also heaped praises on Olembe Stadium: “The infrastructure and architecture of the stadium is world class and can be compared to many other famous stadiums globally. In Cameroon, we have six beautiful match venues. Our job now is to ensure that we are ready with everything else.”
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