The Borno State Governor, Prof Babagana Zulum, yesterday, admitted that the dreaded Boko Haram sect are still existing strongly in many parts of the state, especially in the Sambisa Forest, River Fringes of Koshobe and Lake Chad Basin posing threats to over 6 million people in the state.
Zulum spoke after he attended the mass burial of rice farmers/fishermen slaughtered on Saturday in Koshobe in broad daylight at Zabarmari community in which, 44 corpses have been recovered by security operatives and volunteers, while other corpses are still not recovered in the bush of Koshobe village, with scores missing at press time.
Koshobe, located north-east, an agrarian community under Jere Local Government Area, where most Hausas engaged in farming and fishing is about 25kilometres drive from Maiduguri, the state capital.
Zulum said, though his administration has launched a security outfit called ‘Agric -Ranchers’ comprised of military, paramilitary and members of the Civilian Joint Task Force, including Hunters/Vigilantes to safeguard farmers, there is the need for collective responsibility, especially from the parts of the Federal Government, and governments of border countries of Chad, Niger and Cameroun Republic to team up and address the lingering Boko Haram crisis in the region.
He regretted the escalating killings perpetrated by armed insurgents in some parts of the state, and assured that his administration will soon recruit additional Civilian Joint Task Force to complement efforts of the security operatives in the fight against Boko Haram.
“With what happened in Koshobe/Zabarmari community, yesterday, I can admit that the dreaded Boko Haram sect are still existing strongly in many parts of our state, especially in the Sambisa Forest, River Fringes of Koshobe and Lake Chad Basin posing threats to over 6 million people in the state.
“As you are aware that this administration has launched a security outfit called ‘Agric -Ranchers’ comprised of military, paramilitary and members of the Civilian Joint Task Force, including Hunters/Vigilantes safeguard farmers, there is the need for collective responsibility, especially from the parts of the Federal Government, and governments of border countries of Chad, Niger and Cameroun Republic to team up address the lingering Boko Haram crisis in the region.
“You have seen this morning; we buried 44 recovered corpses according to Islamic rites. I was informed that over 70 farmers were slaughtered while harvesting their rice in Koshobe village, but as it is, more corpses are still lying there waiting for evacuation.
“I assure you that this administration will soon recruit additional Civilian Joint Task Force complement efforts of the security operatives in the fight against Boko Haram”, Zulum said.
He, therefore, prayed God/Allah to grant eternal rest to the souls of the deceased and their families to bear the irreparable lost.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of Rice Farmers Association in Zabarmari, Mallam Hassam Maina, in an interview, described the incident as a “Deadly Blow”.
He called on the government and the security agencies to live up to their responsibility in protecting lives and property in the state.
However, President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed grief over the killing of farmers on rice fields at Zabarmari in Jere Local Government of Borno, describing the terrorist killings as insane.
The president made the condemnation in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, in Abuja, yesterday.
Buhari said the government had given all the needed support to the armed forces “to take all necessary steps to protect the country’s population and its territory.”
He said, “I condemn the killing of our hardworking farmers by terrorists in Borno State.
“The entire country is hurt by these senseless killings. My thoughts are with their families in this time of grief.
“May their souls Rest In Peace.”
About 43 farmers were murdered while an unspecified number of others were unaccounted for when Boko Haram insurgents launched attacks on rice fields at Zabarmari.
Nine of the victims were believed to be settlers in search of greener pastures from Zamfara, seven from Kebbi and eight from Sokoto while the remaining were indigenes of Zabarmari town.
Reacting, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, condemned in the strongest terms, the killing of “about 50” rice farmers in Zabarmari, Borno State, by Boko Haram insurgents.
Gbajabiamila, who expressed sadness over the killing of the farmers, said the incident had once again brought to the fore the need for more military action against the terrorists.
This is contained in a statement, yesterday by the Special Adviser to the Speaker on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi, titled, ‘Gbajabiamila condemns killing of Borno rice farmers, calls for more military action against insurgents.’
The Speaker said it was unfortunate that “about 50 of the farmers were killed in a most gruesome manner” at a time the country was focusing on self-sufficiency in rice production.
Nkanga’s Death Has Left A Void In N’Delta, Wike Laments
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike says the untimely death of Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) Chairman, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga (rtd) has dealt a severe blow to Niger Delta struggle.
Wike made this assertion when he visited the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Emmanuel Udom at the Government House, Uyo, yesterday, to commiserate with him over the death of Nkanga and the state Chairman of PDP, Udo Ekpenyong.
The Rivers State governor said the death of the PANDEF chairman has created a deep void in the agitation for restructuring of Nigeria in line with the principle of true federalism.
“The PANDEF chairman stood for the struggle of the Niger Delta, restructuring of this country. As Rivers people, we are all from Niger Delta. We face the same problems. So, if anything happens to Akwa Ibom State, it also affects Rivers State. We have lost a voice. Whether anybody likes it or not. We have lost a voice.”
Wike, who described the death of both the PANDEF and PDP chairmen as painful, urged Udom and the people of Akwa Ibom State to take solace in God over the death of these two great sons of the state.
In appreciation of the immense contribution of the late PANDEF chairman to the Niger Delta struggle, Wike said Rivers State Government will collaborate with Akwa Ibom State Government to support his family and accord him a befitting funeral.
“My brother, we will support you to sustain the family. We will support you for the burial of the late PANDEF chairman. Rivers State Government will want to be fully involved in whatever it takes to give him a befitting burial.”
Wike, also lamented the abrupt death of Ekpenyong who was just recently elected chairman of the party in the state.
In his response, the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Emmanuel Udom, thanked Wike and Rivers State delegation for standing by the people of Akwa Ibom in their moment of grief.
Udom said the death of Nkanga, who was the Director General of Governor Udom Emmanuel’s Divine Mandate Campaign organisation 2015 and 2019, was emotionally devastating to him and the people of the state.
“He was my DG for both first term and second term. For somebody who had been your director general for first and second term, you know the man must have proven that high level of loyalty and integrity.
“What he doesn’t say in front of you, he will never say it behind you. He was that man at that level of integrity, character.”
He urged the governors of the South-South states to collaborate with the Akwa Ibom Government to give Nkanga a befitting funeral next month.
Udom, who described death as a mystery that only God understands, said he was saddened about the death of his state party chairman, who according to him epitomizes loyalty.
“In fact, my party chairman when they are introducing him, they use to call him Mr Loyalty. He was that loyal to our party. He had served the party at the national level; he started serving the party at the state level. If you want any definition for loyalty, just look for Udo Ekpenyong.”
NSCDC Uncovers 119 Gallons Of Adulterated AGO In Rivers
The Commandant of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Rivers State, Commandant Muktar Lawal says the command has uncovered an illegal dump of 119 25-liter gallons of adulterated AGO, and arrested one suspect, saying that the Special Anti-Vandal Team which specialised in identifying illegal dumps in the state, was responsible for the discovery and arrest.
A statement signed by the spokesperson of the command, Assistant Commandant Oguntuase Michael, and made available to The Tide said that at about 1500hrs on Tuesday, January 19, 2021, the anti-vandal team arrested a suspect, one Mr. Ezike Shoke, with a Volkswagen Jetta car loaded with suspected illegally-refined AGO, in gallons (25liters), 56 in number at an illegal dump situated at number 34 Arochukwu Street, Rumumasi in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of the state.
According to the statement, the illegal dump where the suspected products were seized was situated at a residential area making it unacceptable and dangerous for residents of the area due to the adverse health effects it poses to the people.
The statement also said that 57 empty gallons found at the crime scene were seized while investigation is ongoing to arrest all the fleeing gang members who are connected to the dastardly act.
He said that when they are arrested, they would be charged to court.
RSG Orders Civil Servants To Stay-At-Home
The Rivers State Government has directed civil servants on salary grade levels 01 to 13 to stay-at-home to check the spread of a spike in the second wave of the novel Covid-19 pandemic.
The state government’s position was made clear in a statement signed by the state Head of Service, Barrister Rufus Godwins, in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
The statement, copied to the Secretary to the State Government, the Chief of Staff, Rivers State Government House, all honourable commissioners, all chairmen of commissions, all permanent secretaries, the accountant general, the auditors-general of state and local government, the surveyor-general, all special advisers and senior special assistants, all heads of non-ministerial and extra-ministerial departments, the clerk, Rivers State House of Assembly, and the Rivers State Liaison officers, Lagos and Abuja, with reference number: A.779/Vol.11/156, and dated January 19, 2021, was titled, “Stay-At-Home Directive for Officers on Salary Grade Levels 01 – 13 due to Covid-19 Pandemic Second Wave”.
The statement reads, “Following the current hike in the incidence of the Covid-19 pandemic due to the second wave of the virus, the Governor of Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Wike, has directed all civil servants on salary grade levels 01 -13, except those on indispensable essential duties to stay away from duty forthwith, while officers from grade levels 14 and above should be on duty, and assume full responsibilities for their offices until further notice.
“Accordingly, all permanent secretaries, and heads of extra-ministerial officers should ensure compliance with this directive within the strict context of the Covid-19 Protocols. This directive, which takes effect from Wednesday, January 20, 2021, shall remain in force until His Excellency, directs otherwise, please.”
By: Susan Serekara-Nwikhana
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