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Terrorists Control Villages, Collect Taxes In Borno, Residents Confirm

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Security sources and locals residing in communities outside most of the local government areas in northern and some other parts of central and southern Borno State have revealed that there are still towns and villages under the control of the dreaded Islamic sect, Boko Haram and Islamic State for West African Province also known as ISWAP.

A resident of Maiduguri, Sani Adam Malumfatori, said that, “These local government areas include: Abadam, Gwoza, Guzamala, Kalabalge, Magumeri, Gubio, Marte, Damasak and Dikwa in Borno State as well as Yunusari and Gaidam in Yobe State”.

It was gathered that people living those villages or crossing from one town to another or from one local government to another still pay taxes to the terrorists who normally block the roads against travellers.”

He said although local government headquarters seem secured, the same cannot be said of towns and villages under them.

International NGO officials working in Borno State have also said that there are areas, particularly in the northern Borno and the Lake Chad area where activities of Boko Haram/ISWAP is still showing red and they are not expected to carry out any activity there for the safety and security of aid workers.

He said, those areas are “no-go areas.

“Despite the fact that there are no incidents in Maiduguri, the non-state actors have been very much active outside Maiduguri. There are hundreds of people in need of food and medications that cannot be reached particularly in the Lake Chad region due to the increasing activities of AOG (armed opposition group),” a security official with one of the INGO in Borno said.

Earlier this month, ISWAP, which broke out from the mother body – Boko Haram in 2016, declared that a new union of ISWAP-Boko Haram terrorists’ group has reshuffled its leadership and structures.

This followed the death of some top commanders in a battle with the Nigerian military who are currently on clearance operations in most towns and villages across Borno State.

According to the sources with close information about the group, “the leadership ‘restructuring’ was in line with a directive from ISIS headquarters in Iraq, which was resulted from the recent losses of some of ISWAP-Boko Haram commanders to military offensives and the realignment of forces by the hitherto separate insurgents groups.”

There were also videos being circulated to the effect that the two warring groups in northeast Nigeria have come together to pursue a common cause.

Their fighters carrying AK-47 rifles and other dangerous weapons have spoken in such videos, and have warned residents and other religions in the region.

The terrorist’s organization has also claimed to have in their restructuring, appointed governors to rule some areas of their occupation.

The Lake Chad region was one of such places a governor was said to have been appointed by the group to govern.

Situation within Borno State has degenerated recently due to the activities of Boko Haram/ISWAP.

The state, for example, has been in total darkness in the last six months owing to the destruction of lines supplying electricity to the state by terrorists.

Last Monday, Chairman of the Borno State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Usman Mahdi Badari decried the level of inflation and insecurity in the state while with the state working committee, calling on the authorities to do the needful to save the state.

A member of the ruling party, APC, in Borno State, Adam Guzamala, said that his local government area is still under the occupation of the dreaded sect, Boko Haram/ISWAP.

“All you need to know that all is not well is to go round the IDP camps and ask yourself why the people are still in the camp. I believe this is also the reason the government is doing everything possible to see that no camp remains in Maiduguri.

“However, you can ask questions again: are these people being returned to their towns and villages or are they being kept still in camps within the local government headquarters? This is politics, but it is unfortunate doing it with the lives of the common man,” he said.

Tijjani Kachallah, a resident of Rann in KalaBalge Local Government Area of Borno State said, while it is true that terrorists had claimed to appoint a governor in the Lake Chad region, it will be apolitical for the governor of Borno State to agree with such claims.

“Even if I am the governor, I will not agree to any statement depicting a situation such as we have at hand. Zulum is the governor of Borno State. If Boko Haram has their own governor, it is not the governor of Borno State and they can have their own Boko Haram governor; after all, they never claimed to pay allegiance to constituted authority,” Kachallah said.

A military commander, who is not authorized to speak openly said that, whatever the position of the Borno State governor in reacting to the questions about the claim of ISWAP, is a position any political leader will take.

“However, that is not to say that these bad elements are not in operation in the state. That is why the military is still fighting them and I assure you, we are winning the battle and the war. This is not something I can tell you will end today or tomorrow. You have been reporting this conflict for over a decade and I need not to educate you on what is going on,” he said.

A political analyst in Borno State, Modu Moromti, said that, “We have not been experiencing bombs and gunshots in Maiduguri like before, but life outside the state capital has not been easy for our people. Normally, if a governor visits a local government, a town or a village in the state, you will see a crowd of people following him, particularly children. That can only happen in a time of peace.

“Today, the governor can travel anywhere within areas of conflict, but you can only see the crowd when he goes to share food in the IDP camps and not on a normal street. When he goes to the street; I don’t know whether you have been observing the photos of the governor in circulation. All you see is the governor and his few aides and the military who are giving him protection. This is not the situation in times of peace. However, politically speaking, I am 100% with the Borno State governor’s position in reaction to questions you journalists are asking.”

Moromti also said that the claims that informed the reaction by the Borno State Governor, Prof Babagana Zulum was not looked at deeply.

“ISWAP in the said reports did not claim to have appointed a governor over Borno State. They said they have appointed a governor to oversee their activities within the Lake Chad region. Even the outlaws have a certain respect for constituted authority. And of course, Zulum cannot oversee the activities of terrorists. He can only ensure that they are brought to justice for the activities they are carrying out in the Lake Chad region, which is against the law and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”, he added.

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Senators Fault Buhari’s Planned Farm Settlements

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Some senators have expressed concerns over plans by the regime of President. Muhammadu Buhari, to establish farm settlements in each of the 108 senatorial districts in Nigeria.
They noted that any arrangement to acquire land by the Federal Government at the moment without giving details of what it would be used for, might face stiff resistance from various communities.
The President had last month, directed the National Agricultural Land Development Authority to set up the integrated farm estates in 108 senatorial districts nationwide.
Already, the policy has been greeted with criticisms from the leadership of the various ethnic groups in the middle belt, and southern part of the country, describing it as an attempt in disguise, to create grazing areas for cattle.
The Senator representing Edo South Senatorial District, Matthew Urhoghide, said the Federal Government should give details of the project before approaching state governments for land allocation.
He said, “We are in the Senate to represent our people. I know what my people want
“What we quarrel against is open grazing; we are not against ranching. We are not saying that a Fulani man that has a herd of cattle cannot come to the South to do the business of ranching but he cannot come to carry out open grazing.
“Grazing has two effects. It leads to wanton destruction of farmland. You cannot use animal husbandry to destroy crop farming. There are also criminal cases associated with it including murder.
“If the Federal Government is coming to get land in my state for ranching, it is okay because we need beef, which would be richer, when it is from the ranching system.
“However, the government should make its intention very clear on the policy to avoid major clashes and crisis.”
Similarly, Senator Abba Moro, representing Benue South in the red chamber said government could make arrangements for herders to do the business of ranching but not at the  expense of the farmers.
He advised the Federal Government to go to the drawing board and come up with a modern arrangement to make ranching the way to go.
He said, “When government policies are viewed with suspicion, when citizens lack trust in government policies, then something is wrong.
“Until we address the root causes of conflicts between herders and farmers, and genuinely come out with the right way to go through dialogue, any policy that is thrown at the citizens will be looked at with suspicion which would cause some level of tension.

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Senator Wants Improved Network For Results Transmission

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The Senate Chief Whip, Sen. Orji Kalu, says  Nigeria requires 95 per cent of national network coverage to enable electronic transmission of election results in the country.
Kalu said this in an interview with The Tide source yesterday in Abuja.
Recall that 52 senators on July 15 voted against electronic transmission of results in the forthcoming general election while 28 voted for and 28 absentees.
The senators insisted that the Independent National Electoral Commission should be compelled to seek clearance from Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) while the National Assembly would have to approve the verdict of NCC.
Kalu, insisted the current network coverage was inadequate.
“I have never been against transmission of results , I only said we don’t have adequate coverage where we live,this is the issue.
“We have coverage, but it is not adequate.
‘Like Abia North Senatorial District where I come from, there is no adequate coverage, may be 43 per cent coverage, so how are we going to do that.
“ I believe in electronic transmission,but I want to quickly urge the NCC to deploy their technology to ensure wider coverage; I believe in that process because it is transparent.
“ I don’t want to listen to officials who want to buy equipment and make commissions, I am telling myself the truth, if we even have a coverage of 95 per cent it will be okay, but we have below 50 per cent in the entire country.
“I am not talking about my constituency.
“ It wasn’t a party decision to vote against e transmission and not a clique decision, it was out of my conscience.
“ I can only do what I will do that will benefit all Nigerians,” Kalu said.

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Igbo Stakeholders Decry Absence Of S’East Govs At Forum

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The absence of four Governors of the South-East in the Southern Governors’ Forum meeting held last Thursday in Enugu has been strongly condemned by members of the Concerned Igbo Stake-holders Forum (CISF). 
The leader of the group, Mr Chukwuma Okenwa told newsmen in Enugu that there was no justifiable reason that would be enough for these governors to be absent in a meeting of such magnitude.
According to him, it was wrong particularly coming at a time when the region is battling socio-economic and security concerns stemming from the sit-at-home order issued by the proscribed separatist group, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
His words: “The absence of the Governors of Abia, Ebonyi, Imo and Anambra States leaves a lot to question the commitment of these governors to the growth and advancement of the South-East in missing a crucial meeting held within their geopolitical zone.
He further described as very disturbing the conspicuous absence of the Anambra Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, or a representative from the state at the meeting. 
Okenwa said that the body language of the South-East governors in recent times leaves no one to doubt that these governors have magnified their interest above that of the region and Ndi-Igbo in general.
“Their gaze at the forthcoming elections in 2023 is becoming an unbearable distraction for them in delivering their mandate to the people,” he also lamented.
The group, therefore beckoned on Ndi-Igbo, regardless of political party affiliation, to unite and formidably negotiate a favourable space in the political scheme of things.
According to him, when this is done, we will ensure an unhindered growth and development of all Igbos, he added.

By: Canice Amadi, Enugu

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