Gunmen suspected to be herdsmen have again killed at least 36 persons in Benue and Nasarawa States.
The four persons killed in Logo Local Government Area of Benue State were police officers, while 11 others were declared missing after an ambush was laid for the policemen by the herdsmen last Sunday evening and yesterday morning.
However, the Logo Local Government Council Chairman, Mr. Richard Nyajo, in a telephone interview maintained that the casualty figure was far higher, adding that many sustained injuries in the attack.
Nyajo said: “The well armed herdsmen entangled the Police personnel on duty in the area at about 6pm and killed several of them but some managed to flee. “Though I cannot confirm the total casualty figure but many were reported dead and several others sustained injuries.
That is what those who managed to escape told me when I met them.” The state Police Command in a statement by its Public Relations Officer, Assistant Superintendent, ASP, Moses Yamu, confirmed that the policemen lost their lives in an attack that started Sunday evening and lasted till the early hours of Monday (yesterday).
The statement read in part: “Benue State Police Command regrets to report that its personnel came under attack of insurgents at Anyibe, Logo LGA of the state between 6pm last Sunday April 15, 2018 and early Monday morning.
“Sadly, at the moment, four casualties have been suffered by the Police. Additional reinforcement (including the Air Asset of the Police) deployed by Inspector General of Police is in pursuit of the murderous gang.”
Meanwhile, the Benue State Commissioner for Industry, Trade and Investment, Prof. Tersoo Kpelai, has disclosed that over 56 persons were killed by suspected herdsmen in last Thursday’s attack on Gbeji town of Tsaav ward, Tse-Akaanya and Tse-Hiityo of Lumbuv council ward of Ukum Local Government Area of the state.
Kpelai, who hails from the area, made the disclosure after undertaking an on-the-spot assessment of the sacked communities. He said the figure could be far higher at the end of search for the remains of victims in the affected villages.
He said: “So far, we have recovered 33 bodies from some of the bushes and rumbles of burnt houses, huts and farmland and the search is still ongoing. So, there is every likelihood that the figure would be much higher because three more bodies have just been recovered and many are still missing.
“From what we have gathered so far from survivors, the herdsmen, who attacked the border communities, came from Chenkei in Taraba State. “Most of the survivors also accused Nigerian Army of colluding and leading the militant herdsmen to attack their villages.
The property and valuables lost in the attack including houses, huts, farmland, economic trees, food barns and seedlings could be well over N300 million.’’
Narrating their ordeal before the Commissioner, Mr. Sunday Kulegwa and Iortaver Idye (the most elderly person in Gbeji town) all pointed accusing fingers at the army, noting that military personnel using official vehicles were not only spotted on the scene of the attacks with the invaders but also participated in the shooting and killing of innocent people.
Similarly, at Tse Akaanya and Tse Hiityo all in Lumbuv council ward, Mr. Timothy Iorfa, Councillor representing Lumbuv ward, Austin Damsa and Terkaa Agera who witnessed the attack maintained that “men in army uniforms in their personnel carriers and other utility vehicles were seeing shooting and killing people while herdsmen followed the troops burning houses and carting away valuables.
In the Nasarawa incident, no fewer than 32 persons were killed when herdsmen launched a fresh attack on over 32 Tiv communities in the southern senatorial district of Nasarawa State.
The suspected killers were said to have carried out the attacks simultaneously in Awe, Keana, Obi and Doma Local Government Areas of the state, leaving 19 others with severe gun and machete injuries. At press time, over 10,000 Tiv villagers are currently trapped in Obi Local Government Area following the cordinated attacks by the suspected herdsmen.
A visit to some of the sffected communities by Vanguard revealed that about 15,000 fleeing Tiv villagers are currently stranded and are taking refuge in Lafia, the state capital aside the over 100,000 in different IDP camps at Agwatashi, Aloshi, Awe, Adudu, Obi, Keana, Doma, Agyaragu, among other locations.
When Vanguard visited Dalhatu Araf Specialist Hospital in Lafia, where eight of the victims are currently receiving treatment as a result of injuries sustained from the attacks, it was also gathered that five dead bodies were initially deposited at the hospital mortuary of which three were already released by the Police for burial.
Confirming the development to journalists in Lafia, President, Tiv Youth Organization Nasarawa state chapter, Comrade Peter Ahemba said the entire Tiv communities in the southern part of the state had been sacked, noting that most of the affected villages were being occupied by the invaders.
“As I speak to you, seven corpses of our people killed this morning by the Fulani herdsmen in Wurji village of Keana LGA have just been recovered and brought to Keana town by the Police.
‘’Also last night, five of our people were killed in the coordinated attacks, with seven others still missing at Kertyo and Apurugh villages in Obi Local Government “Three days ago, we recorded eight deaths from similar attacks in Kadarko area, four from Aloshi area,one from Agberagba, all in Keana LGA.
‘’Another six persons shot at Imon village, were rushed to Obi General Hospial as a result of which one of them later died. This is just a few out of deaths we recorded within the last three days as a result of these senseless killings,’’ Ahemba explained.
The Tiv youth leader, who alleged that the herdsmen were conveyed in trucks and brought into the state to carry out the attack, told journalists that it was now clear that incessant attacks on the Tiv people were no longer protest against any enacted law but a calculated attempt to exterminate the Tiv community of the state.
He appealed to Nasarawa State government to urgently stop the carnage, and asked the international community to intervene in order to save the state and country from the current bloodbath.
Contacted on the incident in a telephone interview, the Police Public Relation Officer, DSP Kennedy Idirisu, said the command was only aware of yesterday’s attack.
He said: “There was an attack early Monday morning, but the command is yet to be given details as regards to the number of people that lost their lives in the early hours attacks by unknown gunmen.”
Suleiman Adokwe, who represents Nasarawa South Senatorial District.
He decried ongoing crisis in the district, describing it as “unfortunate’’.
“Throughout the weekend and up to this moment, herdsmen have unleashed mayhem on the people of the senatorial district, leaving many dead bodies, numerous wounded persons and hundreds of thousands of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPS).
“Their victims are largely the Tiv-speaking ethnic nationalities with a reported death toll of 32 persons.’’
Adokwe, who is Chairman, Committee on Information, said the real tragedy in the situation was not “in the well-coordinated and simultaneous carnage across Awe, Obi, Keana and Doma Local Government Areas of south senatorial district.
“The tragedy lies from the fact that for four days running, this mayhem continued unhindered, unchecked, unstopped by any arm of the law and security enforcement agencies.”
He expressed sadness that in Nigeria, with all the security forces, a whole senatorial district would go on being punished by militia and no action was taken by the government.
“This is a sad commentary. It was even with impunity that we woke up on Monday to see that the entire city of Abuja was under siege.
“This country is gradually falling into anarchy and we need to wake up to our responsibilities.
“It is no wonder that very eminent Nigerian citizens have urged Nigerians to defend themselves because their lives are in their own hands and no longer in the hands of the Nigerian security forces.
“I am very emotional on this matter and I am not one given to emotion very easily, but what I have gone through this weekend is very horrifying; it is very distressing and sad.
“It is as if we are in a lawless society where life is brutish, where there is absence of state powers. We call on the Federal Government to stop this carnage,” he said.
Seconding the point-of-order, Sen. Barnabas Gemade (APC-Benue) said “this country is becoming a state without control; it is becoming a state that is experiencing anarchy.
“It is a state in which we have seen ethnic cleansing and when statements like this are made by very senior nationalists, many people try to trivialise it.
“It is a shame that a sitting government could watch criminality go to the level that we have seen it today rather than rise up and take very decisive steps against it.
“We embark on deniability and simply shield this evil by just explaining with flimsy excuses that these are communal clashes in those communities.
“Indeed, the carnage in Nasarawa South affects mainly people of my ethnic group, who are in large population in Nasarawa.
“It is the same kind of killing that is going on Goma, Logo and Gwer West Local Government Areas in Benue.
“And, it is the same kind of killing we are witnessing in Wukari and Takum Local Governments. It is targeted at a particular ethnic nationality, which is my own people,” Gemade lamented.
He urged his colleagues to support the motion whole-heartedly with ideas on how they could deal with the issues.
The motion was unanimously adopted and the ad hoc committee was mandated to immediately investigate the killings.
In his remarks, Deputy President of the Senate, Mr Ike Ekweremadu, who presided at the plenary, said “as we have pointed out, the primary purpose of government anywhere in the world is the preservation of the lives of citizens.
“If citizens are being killed, we owe the responsibility as a parliament to give it the desired attention, and we will never stop talking about these killings.
“Unless it stops, we will never be tired of speaking about it,” Ekweremadu said.
He said it was time to seek help from other countries as some of the lawmakers had suggested.
“We should not be ashamed to ask for help. President Muhammadu Buhari met with the UK Prime Minister and she was of the opinion that Britain would help us security wise.
“We are representatives of the people. If they kill everybody, we will have nobody to represent; we will have no job. So, security is more important than any other thing that we do here.
“If it gets to a level where we have to shut down this National Assembly and sit down with the Executive for as long as it lasts to resolve the problem, we may have to do that.
“We must have a country before we can talk about elections,” Ekweremadu said.
LGA Boss Vows To Deliver Fubara, Others In Rivers
The Chairman of Oyigbo Local Government Area in Rivers State, Hon. Akara Okechukwu, has reiterated that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would win all positions from governor to state House of Assembly.
He stated that the foundation of victory had been laid by the Governor of the state, Chief Nyesom Wike, following his infrastructure development successes in the state.
Okechukwu said this while reacting after the state PDP campaign team visited his area, last Saturday, saying that the people of Oyigbowere ready to reciprocate what the present administration has done for the LGA in every aspect.
“I have no fear, and I am convinced that the Governorship candidate of PDP Siminialayi Fubara and other state candidates of the PDP will win.
“The people of Oyigbo have vowed to vote massively for PDP because that is the only way to pay back Governor Wike for his good works, mostly in Oyigbo.
“As I speak, 95percent of people living in the area have their Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs), and this indicates sure victory for our great party. I thank the people for coming out enmasse for the campaign, I am really happy,” Okechukwu said.
Speaking, Chairman, Revenue Committee of the LGA, Senibo Daniel Chijindu, described the massive turn out as historic, saying that it was an indication of total victory.
“I will say that the massive turn out of people was historic because this is the first time people came out enmasse for campaign. Honestly, this is an indication that Oyigbo was ‘Simplified’ and was totally for PDP.
“Governor Wike has given Rivers State, a facelift in all ramifications. That is why Oyigbo people said they are for PDP in totality,” he said.
The revenue boss advised those who register for PVC should go and collect their PVC because that is only way to sustain the good governance of PDP.
Also speaking, former commissioner for commerce and industry and stakeholder of PDP in Oyigbo, Hon. Nancy Nwankwo, said adequate sensitisation has been done for the importance of PVC and vote PDP.
According to her, women in Oyigbowere already prepared to celebrate the victory of SiminialayiFubara come May this year, saying they come out enmasse to vote for PDP.
“I am convinced that SimFubara will do better hence he is civil servant. He has proven his intellectual capacity faithful and truthful to replace Governor Wike,” she said.
By: Tonye Orabere
NCDC Confirms 38 Deaths Of 123 Diphtheria Cases …Says Gaps In Vaccination Coverage Fuelling Outbreak
No fewer than 38 persons have died out of the 123 diphtheria cases recorded in Nigeria so far, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), has confirmed.
The states currently facing the disease caused by serious infection of the nose and throat that is easily preventable by vaccine, are Kano, Lagos, Yobe and Osun, respectively.
The nation’s disease control and prevention agency, which disclosed this at a ministerial press briefing, organised by the Federal Ministry of Health, said more cases of the disease were being expected in days ahead, as it spreads to other places.
Speaking through its Director of Special Duties, Dr Priscilla Ibekwe, NCDC said: “As of January 22, NCDC have 123 confirmed cases and 38 deaths. 100 cases are from Kano, with 32 deaths. In Lagos there are five cases with three deaths. In Yobe, there 17 confirmed cases and three deaths, and Osun has recorded one case with no death”.
According to Ibekwe, besides clinically suspected cases, there have been laboratory-confirmed cases.
Ibekwe said the agency was working with state ministries of health and partners to enhance surveillance and response to the outbreak.
She said,”Given the sub-optimal coverage for the third dose of the diphtheria containing pentavalent vaccine (54percent – 2021 MICS & NICS) in the country, we expect more cases from more states.
“The centre has collaborated with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) to organize a 5-day workshop on enhancing laboratory diagnosis of diphtheria in Nigeria for laboratory scientists working in NCDC’s National Reference Laboratories and its lab network (this was planned before cases were reported as part of preparedness), and;
“Written to all states HCHs to institute immediate and necessary public health measures for timely detection and response to diphtheria at state level”.
Speaking on measures being put in place to prevent the disease from spreading further, Ibekwe said NCDC has published a public health advisory, accessible on its website, which educates Nigerians on risk factors and offers advice.
She said:”Parents ensuring that their children are fully vaccinated against diphtheria with 3 doses of the pentavalent vaccine. Healthcare workers should maintain a high index of suspicion for diphtheria”.
She also spoke on how to better understand and contain the prevailing global outbreaks of SARS-CoV-2 COVID-19 variants.
She said:”The sub-lineages i.e., XBB.1.5 partly responsible for the current increase in COVID-19 cases in the US and elsewhere countries have not yet been detected in the country.
“However, this variant has not been associated with increased severity of illness and now appears to be levelling off.
“The variants reported in China so far have been those circulating globally including in Nigeria for some time.”
However, the Nigeria Centre of Disease Control and Prevention has attributed the current outbreak of diphtheria in some parts of Nigeria to a drop in the childhood vaccination coverage in some areas of the country.
The Director-General of the Agency, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, who spoke about the development on a television programme, said that there were 34 deaths recorded over the weekend from the outbreak which hit four states.
He said due to the effectiveness of the childhood vaccination programme, most people have forgotten what it looks like.
He said, “Diphtheria, a vaccine preventable disease that used to be common decades ago is on the increase in some states in Nigeria. The fact that there is a resurgence suggests that there is significant reduction in vaccination coverage among pockets of the population and this reduced pockets of immunity has given rise to the cases we have seen.
“It is not a matter of diphtheria spreading from state to state, the bacteria that causes the disease is present everywhere and it spreads, and any state in which you find the disease now is likely to be associated with suboptimal vaccination rates, either in general or in particular in pockets of population. Failure of childhood vaccination in the failed states causing the diphtheria outbreaks.
“Kano has highest number of cases followed by Yobe, by weekend, there were 34 deaths in total.”
He warned that although diphtheria was highly preventable and treatable, fatality can increase without antibiotics and appropriate conditions, including the diphtheria antitoxin. He assured that with early detection and prompt treatment, the fatal outcomes are usually low.
Adetifa stressed that the really severe cases require the diphtheria antitoxin, even as he assured that the NCDC had distributed vials of the antitoxin since December for use in Lagos and Kano states, and was planning to extend availability to every state where the disease cases are found.
“It is important that patients should be recognised early, and laboratory confirmation carried out so that treatment can commence immediately.”
Adetifa said there were arrangements for trainings of personnel for laboratory diagnosis of the toxin including testing for most of the clinical effects.
“We are in a good state to help, but patients need to be recognised early and diagnosis made quickly and they are placed on the right treatment.
“We are using the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, NPHCDA data to predict high risk states, there is connection with low socioeconomic situation, and we need to look out for healthcare workers who can be given courses of antibiotics.
Long-Hour Fasting, Danger To Kidney, NAFDAC Warns
The Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof. MojisolaAdeyeye, has advised Nigerians against subjecting themselves to long-hour fasting, saying it was risky to their kidneys.
Adeyeye, who attributed the high rate of kidney problems in Nigeria to prolonged fasting by some religious adherents, insisted that those subjecting themselves to prolonged fasting on religious grounds must moderate the act.
She spoke in Abuja, yesterday, while briefing the media on the breakthrough by her agency in tracking high consignments of Tramadol and other pharmaceuticals to the Republic of Benin.
On the high rate of kidney problems in the country, she said: “Kidney failure, we are a very religious country- Muslims and Christians fast a lot and it is part of the kidney problem.
“Your body has to have homeomistatic balance, meaning that the water level in your body must be enough to make your organs to function.
“Some people will fast for 10 or 20 days and drink only little water, the kidney is being punished. Now, if you put chemicals in it, it triples in exponential manner, it damages the kidney because the kidney doesn’t have water to dilute and filter.”
Adeyeye, who tasked Nigerians to fast but with common sense, added: “I fast but with common sense. We have to fast with common sense; otherwise we will pay with our kidneys.”
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