Some Boko Haram members yesterday released 192 out of the 218 people abducted at Katarko town, Gujba Local Government Area of Yobe State.
A prominent politician, Alhaji Goni Katarko, who has reunited with his family members told our correspondent that the insurgents called them and asked them to pick the captives at Woron Yinwa village.
“They were so lucky to get lorry that conveyed them to Gazargana village were we picked them through the aid of military personnel. The military kept them in a camp, and pleaded with us to leave them for security reasons”, he said.
Goni said he has reunited with four out of his five family members abducted by the group. “I received four from my five family members abducted, the other one is among the 29 people that are yet to be released by the insurgents”, he said
One of the captives, Mallam Aysha, said that the insurgents gathered all of them and asked them to form two groups, saying those who want to stay with them should take one side and those not interested should go to the other.
“Many of us refused to accept their offer and the leader ordered that we should be taken out of the territory so that we can join the land of unbelievers out there. They took us to Woron Yinwa village before one herdsman led us to where we got a lorry driver that conveyed us to Gazargana village and we were finally picked by our relatives”, she said
She said that the insurgents divided them into camps after being kidnapped from their town.
According to her, “Some of us were taken to Ajigil, and some to Buni Yadi but they gathered all of us when they decided to release us”.
When newsmen visited the camp in Damaturu, the military in the area denied them access to the captives, saying that it was a directive from the authorities.
Many family members went to the camp to reunite with their released abductees but were also prevented access to them.
Meanwhile, the military appeared to have repelled yesterday morning’s assault on Maiduguri by Boko Haram fighters as the Defence Headquarters in an update said troops are in pursuit of ‘retreating’ terrorists.
It also announced a curfew on Maiduguri with immediate effect and until further notice.
“Coordinated Air and Land OPs being conducted now,” said an earlier tweet by Defence Headquarters.
As at the time of reporting, it appeared the military had succeeded in flushing the insurgents out of Maiduguri, the state capital, even as the curfew imposed on the city takes hold.
But the story is different for Monguno, as Boko Haram militants yesterday captured the town, including a military base, after a fierce battle with government troops, security sources said.
“Monguno has fallen, Monguno has fallen,” said a senior military officer, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorised to speak to the media.
Another security source confirmed that the Islamist militants had taken over the town, which lies about 125 kilometres (80 miles) north of the Borno State capital Maiduguri.
However, The Tide could not independently confirm the claim.
The two Borno towns were simultaneously attacked by Boko Haram fighters this morning, less than 24 hours after President Goodluck Jonathan held his re-election rally in Maiduguri.
Maiduguri had been calm for more than two weeks with no incident recorded, until yesterday when the terrorists struck again in Jintilo area of the town.
However, Amnesty International has said that failure to protect hundreds of thousands of civilians could lead to a disastrous humanitarian crisis, with reports of two large scale attacks in Maiduguri as well as the nearby Monguno.
“These ongoing attacks by Boko Haram are significant and grim news. We believe hundreds of thousands of civilians are now at grave risk,” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Africa Director.
“People in and around Maiduguri need immediate protection. If the military doesn’t succeed in stopping Boko Haram’s advance they may be trapped with nowhere else to turn.”
“One resident told us: “If Maiduguri is attacked, we have nowhere else to go. Kano Road was the only way out,” said Netsanet Belay.
“All parties to the conflict urgently need to ensure that civilians who wish to evacuate Maiduguri are able to do so. In order to allow civilians to escape the fighting in Maiduguri, military operations should not be conducted along the main point of access: Kano Road.”
Amnesty International is also calling on all parties to the conflict to refrain from military operations in the vicinity of the hospitals in Maiduguri and any other medical facilities.
The African Union’s Peace and Security Council is expected to discuss on 29 January a possible regional force against Boko Haram.
Buhari Seeks Return To Family Values In Rebuilding Nigeria …Wike, Tambuwal, Other Govs Attend Ikpeazu’s Son’s Wedding
President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the reason why there were so many problems in the Nigerian society was because of a diminishing emphasis placed on the importance of family values.
Buhari said this, yesterday, at the wedding of Mr. Jachimike Ikpeazu, son of Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu at the International Conference Centre in Umuahia, Abia State.
At the event, the groom wedded his heartbeat, Miss Thelma Chidinma.
The wedding was also attended by the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, Sokoto State Governor, Hon. Aminu Tanbuwal, and several other dignitaries.
Others present at the wedding service that was conducted by the Seventh Day Adventist Church were Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel; Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki; Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri; Bauchi State Governor, Senator Bala Mohammed; Ebonyi State Governor, Engr. David Umahi; and Enugu State Governor, Chief Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.
Also at the event were the immediate past governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi; and National Secretary-elect of the Peoples Democratic Party, Senator Sam Anyanwu.
Buhari, who was represented at the occasion by the Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Uche Ogah, decried the situation where parents and guardians who should have paid greater attention in inculcating good character in their wards, have abdicated that responsibility.
He sued for a collective effort across tribes and regions towards restoring family values and giving it its rightful place.
“Marriage is family value, character. The reasons why there are issues in the society, today, is because families are broken. When values are enshrined in families, the entire society will be good.”
Buhari charged the couple to build their family on the word of God, have a regular family altar of prayers, and give good attention to building enduring character.
Wife of the President, Aisha Buhari, who was represented by wife of the Ebonyi State Governor, Mrs. Rachael Umahi, told the couple to know that marriage is where love is celebrated.
She urged them to continue in the training given to them by their parents, and learn to love themselves more so that their home can be a blessing and impact positively on others around them.
In his sermon, Pastor B. E. O. Udoh, admonished the couple not to allow their love for each other to diminish.
He further urged them to be tolerant, support each other to become their best, build and cultivate goodly character.
In his remarks, Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu said it was delightful to watch his son take a wife to himself, and prayed God to make their union fruitful.
Ikpeazu expressed gratitude to Buhari and his wife, his brother governors, political associates and friends who attended the event, for honouring him with their presence.
Insurgents Planning To Attack Military Bases, DSS Alerts
The Department of State Services (DSS) has issued an alert over planned attacks by insurgents on Ogun border communities and other border communities in Nigeria.
In a letter signed by the State Director of Security, Ogun State Command, M.B. Abdullahi, DSS warned that it has intelligence that the insurgents were plotting to attack military bases in border towns.
The DSS also advised customs and other security agencies in the country to put counter-measures in place to frustrate the plot by the insurgents.
The letter titled, ‘Plans by insurgents to launch attacks on military bases in various border communities’ read, “Available intelligence indicates plans by insurgents and criminal elements to carry out simultaneous attacks on military posts and bases in various border communities across the nation anytime from now.
“In view of the foregoing and the likelihood such attacks not limited to the military personnel only, all law enforcement and security agencies with operational bases at border communities are advised to take note of the above threat and emplace countermeasures with emphasis on personal security of operatives to frustrate the planned attack.”
PAP Partners NNPC To Sustain Peace In N’Delta
Towards attaining sustainable peace in the Niger Delta region, the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) have agreed to work together to tackle pipeline insecurity, unemployment and other challenges in the region.
The agreement was reached when PAP’s Interim Administrator, Col. Milland Dixon Dikio (rtd) led a delegation to visit the Group Managing Director, NNPC, Mr Mele Kyari, in Abuja, over the weekend.
In a statement signed by the Special Adviser on Media to the Acting Administrator, Mr Neotaobase Egbe, PAP said the meeting was strategic and in line with the objective of programme to partner with all relevant stakeholders for the full implementation of the amnesty programme.
He said PAP was courting willing partners to have robust synergy to drive the Niger Delta Recovery Plan (NDRP) to fruition.
The statement noted that though PAP was executing its own role in reintegrating 30,000 ex-agitators captured by the Presidency, there was a need to strengthen partnership between sister agencies of government for the sustainable development of the Niger Delta.
He said the NNPC like other institutions of government had roles to play in oil assets redistribution, infrastructural development and environmental remediation.
Dikio said that there was a need to control disruptions in oil production, saying destructive energies could be channelled into productive ventures through re-orientation and sustained advocacy.
He also said that PAP had made efforts to cut down irrelevant trainings and had become intentional about successfully empowering its delegates.
He said trainings over the years had become contractor-driven and were not meeting the beneficiaries’ needs.
Dikio maintained that the PAP was targeting functional businesses that had the capacity to train, employ and mentor delegates into becoming successful business owners.
He said: “For instance, if we have someone that has a commercial poultry farm and we partner with them to train our delegates, they will be employed after their training. In the course of two years and five months they will be taken through the ropes of poultry farming before they are sent out to start their own poultry.
“It is a win-win for everybody. We did the research and we discovered that the cassava plant in Bayelsa needs about 20,000 metric tons of cassava daily, so there is ample opportunity for our delegates to go into that kind of business.
“Again, palm oil when sold in international markets is above $1,000 a ton, and here, we are in the region only focusing on oil and gas”.
Dikio further said there were arrays of businesses the PAP was looking to inject delegates into, adding that exceptional graduates under the PAP scholarship scheme had more opportunities for employment.
In his remarks, the NNPC GMD, Mele Kyari, commended Dikio for the efforts to ensure peace in the Niger Delta, and emphasised the need to sustain the peace through accommodation and inclusiveness of Niger Delta youths.
He bemoaned the inability of the oil industry to fulfil its obligations to the region over the years, saying that it was one of the reasons the amnesty programme had prolonged.
He said: “As we speak today, we have seen a number of increasing incidents of unrest; cases that remind us of the past we don’t want to recollect again.
“Therefore, everything you have said points to the fact that inclusion, support and empowerment for young people particularly in the Niger Delta will bring peace and development to the Niger Delta. No amount of resources available to you will give you peace except there is alignment with the respective players in the space”.
Kyari said the award of licences to investors to begin production on about 57 marginal oil fields within Niger Delta in 2022 was designed to support businesses that originated from the region because most of the beneficiaries from the marginal field programme were indigenes of the Niger Delta.
He said working together would bring lasting peace to the region, explaining that the number of experienced technical people produced from the programme, would easily fill employment opportunities.
He said: “Once you create opportunities and investments return, more employment opportunities will come. I think it is a good thing that we work together, both the amnesty programme and all other actors in this space to bring the lasting peace to the Niger Delta and across our country, where people can benefit because ultimately if we cannot give, there will be nothing to show in another five to ten years, that is the reality that we are in.”
By: Akujobi Amadi
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