Some Boko Haram terrorists have killed, at least, 30 people and abducted many women and children in a raid in Borno State, a government spokesman said, yesterday.
The attack Sunday evening targeted Auno village on a key highway linking the state capital, Maiduguri.
The jihadists stormed the village on trucks mounted with heavy weapons, killing, burning and looting before kidnapping women and children, the state government spokesman, Ahmad Abdurrahman Bundi said.
They aimed at travellers who had stopped for the night and torched vehicles.
The attackers “killed not less than 30 people who are mostly motorists and destroyed 18 vehicles,” Bundi said in a statement after visiting the scene.
The attack, some 25 kilometres (15 miles) west of Maiduguri, occurred in an area where fighters from the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) have been active, mounting roadblocks to target security forces and civilians.
Witnesses said jihadists set alight 30 vehicles in the raid, including trucks that had stopped overnight on their way to Maiduguri.
“Many of the drivers and their assistants who were sleeping in the vehicles were burnt alive,” civilian militia fighter, Babakura Kolo said.
The jihadists combed through the village, looting and burning shops and property before withdrawing, he said.
Auno lies on the 120-kilometre highway linking Maiduguri to Damaturu, a major regional city in neighbouring Yobe State.
The highway has been increasingly targeted by ISWAP militants in recent months.
The surge has followed the creation of so-called “super camps” by the Nigerian military in the North-East – a strategy under which small Army camps have withdrawn from several areas and combined into fewer, larger bases.
Last month, four Nigerian soldiers were killed and seven injured when the jihadists attacked troops positioned in Auno.
However, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) says it has neutralised some key Boko Haram terrorist leaders at Alafa Yagayaga on the fringes of the Sambisa Forest in Borno State.
The NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, who made this known in a statement, yesterday, in Abuja, said the operation was conducted, last Saturday.
Daramola explained that this was achieved on February 8 when fighter jets dispatched by the Air Task Force of Operation Lafiya Dole obliterated a compound in the settlement where the leaders had assembled for a meeting.
“The airstrike was executed on the heels of credible intelligence reports indicating that the BHT leaders had converged at the target compound for a meeting over the weekend.
“Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance missions, which confirmed the meeting venue, also observed several BHTs in and around other buildings in the vicinity of the compound.
“Bombs from the detailed attack aircraft scored accurate hits on the target leading to the obliteration of the compound and surrounding structures as well as the neutralisation of their BHT occupants,” he said.
Daramola said NAF, operating in concert with surface forces, would sustain its air campaign to shape the battle space in the North-East for the effective conduct of further ground and air operations.
However, more facts have emerged from the Auno attack on Sunday along Maiduguri/Damaturu highway.
The Theatre Commander Operation Lafiya Dole, Maj-Gen Olusegun Adeniyi, told journalists, yesterday, that only 10 people were killed in the incident.
But Borno State Governor, Prof Babagana Zulum, who also visited the scene of the attack, said he was briefed by the villagers that about 30 people were roasted in the fire ignited by the insurgents at about 9.30pm on Sunday.
The villagers informed the governor that an unspecified number of women were abducted during the attack but the report has not been verified nor confirmed by any authority.
Another fact also emerged the devastating effect of the fire was aggravated by a military fuel tanker which stocked together with the travelling vehicles that were torched by the insurgents.
But the Theatre Commander Operation Lafiya Dole denied the report, stating: “I have no knowledge of a military tanker on that road at that time”.
The Theatre Commander told journalists that his men averted another tragedy that would have brought sadness by rescuing three school children briskly abducted by Boko Haram along Gubio road.
He noted that his men fought skillfully and rescued the three children (two girls and a boy) unhurt.
The children were handed over to their parents by the theatre commander.
Speaking further on the Auno attack, Adeniyi called on the general public to avoid been stuck at certain locations along Maiduguri road.
He stressed that people should plan their movement very well along the Damaturu/Maiduguri road so that they will not be stuck at some of these locations.
“We normally close the Damaturu road by 5.00pm and it is expected that you time your movement very well so that you get to Maiduguri by 5.0pm of Damaturu by 5pm because the soldiers cannot leave to fight Boko Haram and come back to protect people sleeping on the road who refuse to obey the law in the first place,” Adeniyi advised.
Adeniyi informed that the insurgents came on motor cycle and parked them from a distance and walked down to burn down vehicles of travellers.
“We will do more to ensure that incident like this does not happen again. I am calling on all stakeholders to make the Maiduguri/Damaturu road safe. Until the people realised that there is a counter insurgency going on throughout the northeast.
“As a result of the dastardly activities of the Boko Haram, certain measures have to be taken to safeguard lives and property and the military to conducting counter insurgency, especially on Maiduguri/Damaturu road.
Zulum sympathised with the people of the community and called on them to give the necessary cooperation to the military.
The residents accused soldiers of the town of locking up the town and leaving for Maiduguri and leaving them without protection.
Zulum also corroborated the accusations of the residents, saying that he has made several appeals for the military to establish a unit in Auno but to no avail.
“We have to be brutal in telling the truth. I am pushed to the wall to say the truth. Since I was inaugurated as governor of Borno State, Boko Haram has attacked Auno six times. Another thing is that the military have withdrawn from Auno town.
“I am not undermining the capacity of the military but we have made repeated appeal for the military to establish their unit in Auno. They are here but as soon as it is 5 pm, they close the gate and lock the people and go back to Maiduguri. This is not right,” Zulum raged with anger.
But the Garison Commander of 7 Division, Nigeria Army, Maiduguri, Brig-Gen Sunday Igbinomwanhia, refuted the allegations, saying the soldiers closed the roads and withdrew to the outskirts of the town to protect the villagers, as well as prevent and lunch ambushes on the insurgents.
Eyewitnesses disclosed that a large number of vehicles loaded with goods, shops and houses were set ablaze by the suspected insurgents, who sneaked into the town and launched attack on sleeping travellers at the town which is 24km to Maiduguri, Borno State capital.
A commercial driver, Adamu Tella who used the road told our correspondent that he saw three corpses been conveyed by Civilian JTF.
“I could not count the number of vehicles that were burnt. But I saw three burnt corpses in a vehicle of civilian JTF. I also saw many houses and shops burnt down to ashes,” Adamu informed.
Adamu also informed that his driver friend’s vehicle was also burnt in the incident.
Another eyewitness, Haruna Yunusa, a passenger, said he saw three burnt dead bodies and counted 21 vehicles including trailers, some of them still under fire as at the time he passed through the town on Monday morning.
Auno is one of the towns located along the Maiduguri/Damaturu road which has recently come under serious attacks by the Boko Haram insurgents.
In his reaction, yesterday, President Muhammadu Buhari described the attack as ‘cowardly murderous.’
The terrorists sacked the village of Auno on a key highway, linking the capital, Maiduguri.
However, President Muhammadu Buhari has condemned the ‘cowardly and murderous attack by Boko Haram.
He commiserated with family of victims of the attack, assuring them that his administration would continually frustrate the devilish operations of Boko Haram, and bring it to an end.
Buhari, in a statement issued by his spokesman, Garba Shehu, condemned the “murderous and cowardly attack on innocent passengers by the Boko Haram terrorists near Maiduguri’’, adding: “this administration is ever determined to frustrate their goal to hold Nigeria to ransom.
“The commitment of this administration to protect the lives of Nigerians will not be derailed by the cowardly and indiscriminate violence against innocent people by Boko Haram terrorists,’’ he said, while reacting to recent attacks in Maiduguri.
Buhari, who also condoled with the government of the state, warns “that terrorists are clearly on a back foot and their days are numbered’’.
“As our armed forces continue to receive more hardware and intelligence to counter our current security challenges, the remnants of Boko Haram will ultimately be crushed. The peculiar challenges of asymmetric warfare notwithstanding, our armed forces are ever determined to defeat these enemies of humanity,’’ Buhari said.
The President promised, again, yesterday, that all children kidnapped by Boko Haram terrorists would be set free during his regime.
He spoke at a breakfast dialogue on ‘‘Stop the War on Children Affected by Armed Conflicts, Dividend of Silencing the Guns’’, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, held on the margins of the ongoing 33rd African Union Summit.
Nigeria, Uganda, Norway, the AU Commission and Save the Children sponsored the dialogue.
Buhari said, “A number of schoolgirls from Chibok and Dapchi earlier abducted by Boko Haram have regained their freedom.
“We commend the gallant efforts of the Multi-National Joint Task Force and the partners in supporting the reintegration of the girls.
“Let me categorically reassure you of the steadfast commitment of the Government of Nigeria to ensure the freedom of all kidnapped children from the shackles of Boko Haram.
“We will not relent until every child, boy, or girl, every Nigerian adult in custody of Boko Haram, is freed.”
Among the children being held is Leah Sharibu, the Dapchi schoolgirl denied freedom on account of refusing to denounce Christianity.
It would be recalled that 276 girls were abducted from their school in Chibok, Borno State, on April 14, 2014, by Boko Haram but 57 of the girls escaped to safety almost immediately.
The insurgents eventually went away with 219 of them.
Over a number of years, 107 of the Chibok girls regained freedom but till date, 112 are missing.
A State House statement, yesterday, said Buhari urged African countries and stakeholders on the continent to strengthen the protection of children from the six grave violations during armed conflict.
He noted that the six grave violations were killing and maiming of children; recruitment or use of children as soldiers; sexual violence against children; abduction of children; attacks against schools or hospitals; and denial of humanitarian access for children.
Buhari added, “It is for this reason that the Nigerian government has severally condemned, and is combating frontally the dreadful activities of terrorist groups like Boko Haram and the so-called Islamic State.
“Of course, the severity of these grave violations varies from country to country.
“The incidence of a single violation of children rights in any country is an indelible dent on the African consciousness and is to be deplored and condemned,” he said.
He told AU leaders that they must continue to protect children, taking time to brief the session on efforts Nigeria had made so far to do so.
“To stem the tide of out-of-school children, Nigeria embarked on an all-inclusive reconstruction of schools vandalised by the ravaging terrorist activities of Boko Haram, while returning children are rehabilitated and reintegrated into society.
“Our nomadic education policy is also being implemented to reduce the number of out-of-school children. We have also prioritised de-radicalisation and de-mobilisation of ex-combatant children of Boko Haram insurgents”, his media aide, Mr Garba Shehu, quoted him as saying.
Buhari made a call on the AU Peace and Security Council to spearhead the strategy to stop the war on children and adopt the Child Protection Architecture within the African Peace and Security Architecture and the Roadmap on Silencing the Guns.
He added, “The call to action is now for accountability by all African states to the rights of the children caught up in wars.
“Let us stop the war on children. This is a wake-up call for us all to create the enabling environment for rooting out the impact of armed conflicts against our children across the continent”.
Meanwhile, former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, has charged the Federal Government to stop claiming that Boko Haram has been “technically defeated.”
Fani-Kayode gave the charge while condemning the latest Boko Haram attack that killed about 30 people in Maiduguri, Borno State, yesterday.
In a tweet, the former minister wondered when the Federal Government would live up to its responsibility of defending Nigerians.
Fani-Kayode tweeted: “30 people killed by Boko Haram & many abducted in Maiduguri, Borno state today. Is the Federal Government still claiming that Boko Haram has been “technically defeated?”
“How cruel and insensitive can they be and when will they live up to their duties and honour their obligation to defend our people?”
Stop Speaking On Issues You Least Understand, Wike Tells Agba
Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has berated the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Mr. Clement Agba, for exhibiting lack of understanding on how governors plan development projects in their various states.
Wike took the swipe at the minister when he spoke at the inauguration of the 13.86km Rumuodogo 1 and 2 Road in Oluua-Rumuodogo community in Emohua Local Government Area, yesterday.
The Rivers State governor said the minister was wrong when he said that governors were the causes of poverty because they focused on building flyovers, airports and other projects in the state capitals, while neglecting to invest in rural communities to directly uplift the living standard of the people.
“He said governors are the problem, they don’t do rural roads, and I ask him: where and where have you been? You just sit there (Abuja), you’ve not been to anywhere to check whether rural roads are being done or not.”
Wike pointed out that the development plan of his administration was holistic, with critical infrastructure delivered not only in the state capital, but across the 23 local government areas.
He, therefore, advised the minister to take time out, leave Abuja and visit states, particularly, Rivers State to see things for himself.
Wike emphasised that there were quantum projects in rural communities with the Rumuodogo road inclusive, which have improved the socio-economic status of rural communities.
“Come to Rivers State and see whether we are doing roads that will cause agricultural produce to be brought out to the cities or not before you open your mouth. We are not doing roads in the city alone. We are doing roads in all local government areas of the state.”
Wike also challenged some South-South state governors to stop hiding behind the attack dogs they had commissioned to insult him, but should rather come to confront him personally.
“Some people have been sending their people to insult me. I laugh. I hear some people, they call them Akwa Ibom Professionals, they were insulting me. Tell the man who sent you to come out. You are just small kids. I am waiting for the big masquerade. Some people said they are Ijaw professionals. You that is sending them, come out. It is you I am looking for. I am not looking for the small fries.”
The Rivers State governor wondered why those faceless governors were picking offence with him because he thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for releasing the 13percent derivation arrears from 1999 to date.
Wikeexplained that even though he was never a fan of Buhari, it does not stop him from expressing his gratitude to the president for releasing the fund that had helped to finance several projects in Rivers State.
“If they’re not prepared for governance, give up. I am prepared for governance. I was prepared, I’m still prepared; I will be prepared till I leave. How can people talk, simply because I said thank Buhari for giving us money?
“I am not a fan of Buhari. All of you know that. I am not one of those they like. I am not one of those who go to Abuja to see them, but the truth must be told. When somebody has done well in an aspect, you say he has done well in this aspect. You cannot change it.”
The Rivers State governor also said while some of the governors could not withstand the federal might in their states, he was able to withstand the powers that tried to undermine the 2019 election process in Rivers State.
The governor also said, when he thanked Buhari, he did not say that the South-South governors should account for their share of the money they got.
He noted that each governor should know peculiar development needs of their various states and attend to them.
Wike, however, said he was prepared for governance when he took the shot to become governor, adding that he was not handpicked, but entered the race and defeated a sitting governor.
“But let me tell those who are making noise, whether you’re a governor, I don’t care. When I came to run as governor of Rivers State, there was no governor that said I want to put you in office as a governor. I came on my own. God said I want to use you. There was a sitting governor, we defeated the sitting governor.
“Some governors were brought by their godfathers; I never had any godfather that brought me as a governor. The only godfather I had was God, and the people of Rivers State. So, when some governors are talking, they should know those they are talking to; we are not at the same level; and we can’t be at the same level.”
The governor explained that he had always ensured that no project awarded by his administration lasted more than 14 months.
Wike also said that it was worthy to note that Rivers State spent over N5billion to recover the Yenagoa campus of the Nigerian Law School, while the Dr. Nabo Graham Douglas Campus in Port Harcourt was completed within 10 months.
The governor urged Rumuodogo people to vote for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate, Siminialayi Fubara and all other candidates in the 2023 general election.
He further charged them to use their votes to punish the party of the former state governor, Chibuike Amaechi, for refusing to construct the road for them.
“A governor then that had all the money refused to do this road. He thinks that people of Rumuodogo will still be backward. God said no, the time has come for Rumuodogo people to be remembered. The time has come that people must know this community called Rumuodogo, and today is your day. Now, you have to pay them back with your PVC.”
Providing a description of the project, Rivers State Commissioner for Special Projects, Deinma Iyalla, said the Rumuodogo 1 and 2 Road was a rural road that has opened up the benefitting agrarian communities to increased economic activities and enhanced property value.
He explained that the road measures 13.86km in length, with width that measures 7.3meters, and had a total of 13.96km length of drains and 17 culverts.
On his part, the Chairman of Emohua Local Government Area, Dr. Chidi Lloyd, noted that the Rumuodogo 1 and 2 road was a promise made by Wike to two of his political associates who joined him to return to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on October 1, 2020.
He pointed out that with the project delivered, Wike had shown that once a need was determined, he awarded the contract, dedicated fund to it, and ensured it was completed on schedule.
He added that this was a leadership style that remained unbeaten.
EFCC Records 3,440 Convictions In 2022
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has declared recording 3,440 convictions on financial and cybercrimes across the country from January to November 2022.
This was made known, yesterday in Kano, by the chairman, Abdulrashid Bawa while delivering a goodwill message to newsmen at the opening of a workshop on Financial Crimes Reporting organized by the EFCC.
The chairman, who was represented by the Kano Zonal Commander Farouk Dogondaji also stated that the commission would work to ensure the enforcement of the Electoral Act as the 2023 general election approach.
“In terms of prosecution of cases in court, I am glad to inform you that, between January and November 25, this year, EFCC recorded 3,440 convictions. The potentials for improvement are good as more ongoing cases are concluded in the remaining four weeks of the year.
“Remarkable as this feat is, we are not resting on our laurels. We believe there is still a lot to be done which is the reason why we are actively seeking the support of all stakeholders, including the media,” he stated.
He also said, “On our part, we are working in close collaboration with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and other stakeholders to preserve the integrity of the electoral process. We will ensure that the Electoral Act is fully enforced and those who seek to influence voters through financial inducement are brought to justice.”
He described journalists as critical allies who are at the workshop to improve their capacity to be able to help in the fight against cyber and financial crimes in the country.
Delivering her paper at the workshop on the Challenges of Prosecuting Economic and Financial Crimes in Nigeria, the deputy director, Legal and Prosecution, Aisha TaharHabib gave a breakdown of both civil and criminal convictions achieved by the Kano zone.
She stated that they have had 160 criminal convictions losing only two and 180 civil convictions losing only one in Kano state.
She added that this puts the conviction rates at over 90per cent.
WAD: RSG Assures On Provision Of HIV/AIDS Commodities, Services
As the world commemorates the 2022 World AIDS Day (WAD), the Rivers State Government has reiterated its commitment to the provision of HIV commodities and services towards checking the trend in the state.
The state Commissioner for Health, Prof. Princewill Chike, disclosed this, yesterday, in his address to mark WAD in Port Harcourt.
Chike, who emphasised the commitment of the state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, towards the health sector, stated that the governor had displayed the same commitment in tackling HIV-related issues.
“The issue of paying and accessing (HIV) drugs in Rivers State, which the Rivers State Government took over for patients to access the drugs, that they won’t have to pay, helped us to achieve what we have achieve in controlling HIV.
“We will not turn our backs from patients who need the drugs”, he said.
Earlier, in his goodwill message, Coordinator of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Rivers State, Dr. Bosede Ezekwe, represented by the WHO Monitoring and Evaluation Officer (M&E) in the state, Dr. Sadique Abubakar, highlighted gaps in HIV inequalities.
Quoting the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Rebecca Moetti’s message for this year’s commemoration, he said, “four decades into HIV response, inequalities persist from the most basic services like testing and treatment.
“For example, HIV prevention programme reached only 40percent of adolescent girls and young women. Only one in three key populations, who are particularly vulnerable to HIV, have regular access to HIV prevention services, and they still face significant structural barriers, including criminalisation, discrimination, and stigma”, he said.
He assured that WHO was ready to partner the state government to enhance HIV/AIDS services in the state.
Also speaking, the Programme Manager, Rivers State Agency for the Control of AIDS (RIVSACA), Dr. Francis Naaziga, highlighted the progress made in the state in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
According to him, “looking at progress made today in Rivers State, in terms of HIV response, looking back at 2018/2019, coming back from the Nigeria HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS) Report that puts estimated persons living with HIV/AIDS in Rivers State at over 210,000 persons, and the state with the highest unmet needs, but having implemented the SURGE project, by our last data of June, 2022, we have over 167,000 persons on treatment during the last validated data.
“If you go by our own validated data, the number is much more than that. We have over 2,000 children on treatment. Rivers State has made remarkable improvement in terms of HIV response”.
By: Sogbeba Dokubo
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