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Bandits Kill Over 25 Worshippers In Ondo Catholic Church …Buhari, Akeredolu, Afenifere, Others Condemn Attack

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No fewer than 25 persons were feared dead, yesterday, as suspected bandits opened fire on worshipers at the St Francis Catholic Church, Owa-luwa Street, in Owo Local Government Area, in the Ondo State capital, Akure.
The state police spokesperson, Funmi Odunlami, said the command would speak on the ugly incident later.
A member of the St Francis Catholic Church, Kehinde Ogunkorode, confirmed that gunmen, suspected to be kidnappers, attacked the church, killing no fewer than 25 worshippers.
Ogunkorode said that the bandits, numbering five, stormed the church during service and shot members indiscriminately.
According to him, “lt was like a movie, they invaded the church and shot indiscriminately. Several people were killed, including children and women.
“It was when they wanted to abduct the priest that they threw dynamite into the church”.
Another source confirmed that no fewer than 25 corpses have been moved out of the church with many casualties lying at the Federal Medical Centre, Owo, for medical attention.
According to him, “Some gunmen invaded the church during service, opened fire and killed no fewer than 25 members of the church.
“The congregants were caught unawares by the killers. They also used explosives but many were shot”, he said.
Also speaking, one of the priests at St Francis Catholic Church, Owa-luwa Street, Owo, Ondo State, Father Andrew Abayomi, has given an account of how the church was attacked.
Abayomi, who spoke during an interview with BBC Yoruba, said suspected terrorists struck as the church service was wrapping up.
He said, “We were about to round off service. I had even asked people to start leaving, that was how we started hearing gunshots from different angles.
“We hide inside the church but some people had left when the attack happened. We locked ourselves in the church for 20 minutes. When we heard that they had left, we opened the church and rushed victims to the hospital”, Abayomi said.
Reacting to the incident, President Muhammadu Buhari, expressed shock and sadness over the heinous killing of worshippers, yesterday, at the St Francis Catholic Church, Owa-luwa Street, Owo Kingdom, in Ondo State.
Buhari, in his condemnation of the dastardly act, said that eternal sorrow awaits those behind killing both here on earth and in the hereafter.
The president’s expression of grief was contained in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Chief Femi Adesina.
Buhari, in the statement said, “Only fiends from the nether region could have conceived and carried out such dastardly act, adding that eternal sorrow awaits them both on earth here, and ultimately in the hereafter.”
He mourned the dead, condoled with their families, the Catholic Church, and the Government of Ondo State, charging emergency agencies to swing into action, and bring succour to the wounded.
The statement quoted him as saying, “No matter what, this country shall never give in to evil and wicked people, and darkness will never overcome the light. Nigeria will eventually win.”
Also reacting, the Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, vowed to hunt down assailants behind the killing of innocent people of Owo, worshiping at the St Francis Catholic Church, Owa-luwa Street, yesterday.
The governor, who described the incident as a vile and satanic attack, said he was saddened by the calculated assault on the peace-loving people of Owo Kingdom who have enjoyed relative peace over the years.
Akeredolu’s reaction was contained in a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Richard Olatunde, saying, “It is a black Sunday in Owo. Our hearts are heavy. Our peace and tranquillity have been attacked by the enemies of the people. This is a personal loss, an attack on our dear state.
“I have spoken to the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Ondo, Most Reverend Jude Arogundade, who is presently on his way to Owo. Similarly, I have had to cut short my party’s national assignment in Abuja and visit Owo immediately.
“This is an unexpected development. I am shocked to say the least. Nevertheless, we shall commit every available resource to hunt down these assailants and make them pay. We shall never bow to the machinations of heartless elements in our resolves to rid our state of criminals.
“I commiserate with my people in Owo, particularly families of those who lost their lives to this ugly and unfortunate attack. I extend my condolences to Olowo of Owo, Oba Gbadegesin Ogunoye as well as the Catholic Church.
“I urge our people to remain calm and vigilant. Do not take laws into your hands. I have spoken to the heads of the security agencies. I have equally been assured that security operatives would be deployed to monitor and restore normalcy to Owo kingdom,” Akeredolu said.
In his remarks, Leader of the Yoruba self-determination movement, Ilana Omo Oodua Worldwide, Prof. Banji Akintoye, described the attack on Christian worshipers at St. Francis Catholic Church, by terrorists suspected to be Fulani herdsmen, as a declaration of war against the Yoruba people.
Akintoye said, “The effrontery of the Fulani marauders needs to be frankly and courageously confronted so as to prove to their sponsors that the Yoruba people can never be intimidated or subjugated.”
The Ilana group’s leader, in a statement by the Communications Secretary, Mr Maxwell Adeleye, titled, “Owo Catholic church attack is a declaration of war against Yoruba people – Akintoye”, called on Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, to declare an emergency against the activities of Fulani herdsmen in the state with immediate effect.
He said, “We have stated it very expressly that the Yoruba people need to negotiate their exit from Nigeria as a matter of urgency, but our partisan political actors in Yorubaland never took us serious. We warned them that there’s fire on the mountain, but we were mocked because of their personal aggrandisement.
“Today, we have all been encircled, most especially, in Lagos. For herdsmen to have the effrontery of bombarding a church in Yorubaland to kill some people shows that we are now in a realistic danger.
“My urgent advice to Governor Akeredolu is to pick up the gauntlet and declare an emergency against the activities of all Fulani herdsmen in the state with immediate effect. We have now been taken for granted. We need not pretend anymore. We must demand unanimously, an exit from Nigeria.
“We, the Yoruba people, cannot live in the same country with characters whose idea of common citizenship in Nigeria is to brutalise, subjugate and even exterminate us. It is time to leave these characters now. All stakeholders – the elites, traditional rulers, and our women should act now.
“All the South-West states, including the Yoruba leaders in Kogi and Kwara states should equally declare an emergency against the activities of Fulani herdsmen. We must now take our destinies into our hands,” he said.
Aareonakakanfo of Yoruba land, Iba Gani Adams, also condemned the attack on worshippers of Owo Catholic Church, where many were feared killed as several others sustained life-threatening injuries.
Adams, in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media,Mr. Kehinde Aderemi, said the incident was ungodly, and it is capable of threatening the foundation and existence of Nigeria.
He described the perpetrators of the gory attack as evil, saying they have sinned against God and should be ready to face the wrath of the Most High God.
Expressing concern on the spate of insecurity across the country, the Yoruba generalissimo said: “Cases of Boko Haram and Bandits and other criminal elements always attacking churches and mosques have simply showed the failures of the government.It has also exposed the crass incompetence of Nigeria’s leaders and the security apparatus.
“Reports at my disposal showed clearly that the attackers actually disguised as worshippers of the church,planted an explosive device within the church premises and carried out their evil attack on innocent worshippers.
“They later kidnapped the Reverend Father, leaving worshippers cold dead in the pool of their blood.
“The criminals, according to reports, did not come with vehicles, they hijacked vehicle on the road to convey their victims.
“Meanwhile, owner of the hijacked vehicle had gone to Owo A. Division to report the incident, even as all the roads in the ancient town had reportedly been deserted as people had stayed off the roads.
“The Federal Government must rise to its responsibility, begin thorough investigation into the attack and also bring the perpetrators of this gory incident to book.Investigation into the Owo Catholic bomb attack should not be swept under the carpet. Those that carried out the attack are not ghost,they must be apprehended immediately.”
While condoling with the Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu and the Olowo of Owo, Oba Gbadegesin Ajibade Ogunoye, Adams, however, urgedthe governor not to relent in his efforts to secure the state, saying that Ondo State would not succumb to the will of criminals that are ready to truncate the peace of the state.
“The video clips and pictures of the deadly attack on worshippers could best be imagined.Such attack would definitely not happen in a saner clime where there is effective security.It would not happen in a country where lives of the citizens are precious to the government.
“However, at this sober time, I feel the pain even as I condole with the governor,the royal father, the good people of Owo town, especially, those that have lost their loved- ones to this cruel attack.The attackis a condemnable act,and a sad one for that matter.It is an attempt to destabilise the state and make life unbearable to the people”, he said.
Similarly, the pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, said that the Owo attack in which church worshippers were murdered at St Francis Catholic Church, was a direct attack on Yoruba race.
It’s National Organising Secretary, Abagun Kole Omololu, said that “The massacre in Owo Chatholic church is a direct attack on Yoruba land.
“It is directed at Governor Rotimi Akeredolu for his unflinching support for security in Yoruba land by championing the Amatekun security outfits, his stringent upholding of the open gracing law and for his ‘big mouth’ about Southern co-operation for equity and justice in Nigeria.
“We will not succumb into terrorist threat or attack, they will not be allowed to bring down our civilisation.
“We will hunt the killers down. Citizen should not take law into their hands by attacking innocent northerners, only the terrorists, who are mostly foreign Fulani, should be fished out and finish off by the security forces.
“This attack is to course confusion and course war into our land. We should not play into their hands.”
Omololu said that “This evil is condemned in the strongest term. We commensurate with the government and people of Ondo State, the Catholic Church, the Olowo of Owo and the people of Owo”.

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Nigeria’ll Have National Air Carrier Before End Of 2022, FG Assures

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The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, has said Nigeria would have a national carrier before the end of 2022.
Sirika said this at a two-day Africa Public Private Partnership Network (AP3N) Investment program held in Abuja, yesterday.
The programme was organised by the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission with the theme, “Financing Africa’s Infrastructure through Public-Private Partnership (PPP).”
Nigeria Air is the nation’s proposed national carrier which was unveiled at the Farnborough Air Show in the United Kingdom in July, 2018.
The minister, represented by the Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer, Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), Mr. Akin Olateru, said the Air Transport License had been issued.
“We have a team in place, the Air Transport License has been issued by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, and we are in the process of processing the Air Operator Certificate (AOC) which will lead to the start of the airline.
“When you are setting up an airline, there are five phases for the AOC process.
“You need to bring in airplanes when you are in phase three. So, in phases one and two, you do not need to bring an airplane but you need to have identified them.
“But because people do not understand the process in aviation, they see it as another business. But aviation has its peculiarities and strict guidelines in everything we do.”
The panellist, who discussed the topic, “Transforming the Aviation Sector through Private Sector Participation”, underscored the need for funding from private investment in the sector to ensure efficiency.
The Managing Director, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Capt. Rabiu Yadudu, said funding was a critical function in the aviation sector for it to function optimally.
According to him, funding is the lifeblood, you can have all the technical skills but without funding, the sector cannot function.
“Equipment and facilities need to be replaced and maintained as and when due.
“If stakeholders do not have confidence in the sector, then we cannot function, and our workers will not work if they do not feel safe using the equipment.
“If you get the stakeholders’ confidence, you would get the right participation. PPP is the way to go not only in aviation but in all sectors,” he said.
An aviator and Chief Executive Officer, 7Star Global Hanger, Mr. Isaac Balami, said there was the need to set up an Aviation Development Bank, given the key role the aviation industry played in the Nigerian economy and the African continent.
According to him, in terms of strategy, we must look inwards and believe in ourselves, and we must also consider local content.
The Managing Director, Catamaran Nigeria Ltd, Mr. Lai Are, said the foundation of any country was its infrastructure, adding that there was a need to bridge the infrastructure gap in Nigeria.
Are said without aviation, the country would not be able to attract the kind of finance needed in the transport sector.
“We are a country in need of investment, and most of this money cannot come from within but we need to look inward to see how we can present ourselves to the outside world.
“We need to see how we can look attractive to the outside world and attract investment for infrastructure development.”
He also said there must be the sanctity of agreements, saying that the government must honour agreements so that investors get returns on their investments at the agreed time.
“Yes, the private sector will come but they must ride on the back of the foundation the government has built,” he said.
The Director, of Capital Projects and Infrastructure, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Mr Suileman Ibrahim, said that the government must see private investors as partners by creating policies that make investment possible.
Ibrahim also said that dedicated funds should also be set up for the aviation industry such as having an aviation bank or a bank dedicated to the transport sector.
“Having the right policies which include tax incentives and waivers, providing guarantees, supporting the environment and repatriation of foreign exchange are critical to investment in this space.”

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Senate Wants PH Law School Campus As Epicentre Of Continuous Legal Education …As Wike Conducts Committee Round Facility, State Legislative Quarters

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The Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele, has advocated that the Dr. Nabo Graham-Douglas Campus of the Nigerian Law School in Rumueme near Port Harcourt should serve as the centre for the promotion of continuous legal education in the country.
Bamidele said the advocacy was part of the Senate committee’s advice to the Council of Legal Education and the Nigerian Law School because the Port Harcourt campus meets the global best standard required of such centre.
Members of the Senate committee were in Port Harcourt, capital of Rivers State, yesterday, on an oversight visit of the campus, and were conducted on an inspection tour by the state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike.
They also inspected the brand-new exquisite Rivers State House of Assembly residential quarters nearing completion.
Bamidele said they were amazed at the quality of facilities that the Rivers State governor has provided for the training of law graduates and prepare them for the challenges of the profession.
According to him, this was one of the happiest oversight visits that they have paid in the life of their own leadership of the Senate committee.
“It’s a celebration of our democracy. It’s a celebration of leadership. It’s a celebration of an accomplishment. So, as part of our own advice, both to the Council of Legal Education and the Nigerian Law School is to even, based on the standard that has been set in the Port Harcourt Campus, ensure to reserve some of the rooms, dedicated to ensuring that our continuous legal education is taken very seriously using the Port Harcourt Campus as the base for this.”
Bamidele pointed out that Wike has set global best standard, and that it was not only law students that would use the facility, but practicing lawyers alike who could undertake their CLA programme on the campus.
He stated that the eventual realisation of the campus underscores the point that when leaders were able to work together across party line and beyond political, ethnic, religious divide, they can really take Nigeria to that next desirable level.
“Governor Wike, a PDP leader, a PDP governor from the Southern part of the country made an offer. It was tabled by the attorney general of the federation, an APC man to President Muhammadu Buhari of APC and without wasting time, it was approved. And today, we have seen the implication of that.”
Commenting on the 32 units of four-bedroom duplexes at the legislators’ quarters, Bamidele said Wike has also blazed a trail in the provision of unbeatable housing facility for lawmakers.
“We have been around the country by the grace of God. We have interacted with our colleague parliamentarians at the state level in different states’ Houses of Assembly. We know where they live. We know how they live and we know that they are no less committed.
“Coming here to see what we are seeing today, again, I want to say it’s a confirmation of the fact that you have as governor, a trailblazer and someone who will continue to excel in setting a global best practice standard.”
Senate Minority Leader, Senator Philip Aduda, commended Wike for his laudable projects, and stressed that this necessitated the clamour for him to move to the centre to replicate some of extraordinary achievements.
In his remarks, the Speaker of Rivers State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Ikuinyi-Owaji Ibani, said Wike’s decision to construct a new campus of the Nigerian Law School in Port Harcourt was a sheer demonstration of his patriotism and commitment to the nation.
Speaking on the legislative quarters, the speaker said the conducive residential environment created by the governor for the state lawmakers would enhance their productivity.
On his part, former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Chief Onueze C. J. Okocha, SAN, said the completion of the Port Harcourt Campus of the Nigerian Law School was another promise fulfilled by Wike.
“We thank you distinguished Senator (Bamidele), and I’m glad that you have come and seen with your distinguished colleagues that Governor Wike was not making an empty promise when he said he will contribute to the development of law education in this country, a campus for the Nigerian Law School.
“As I said to you, he has done many more in the legal field, for the Bar Association, for the Judiciary, he even built and refurbished Federal Courts to the glory of all of us who are in the legal profession.”

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Malnutrition: ‘Nigeria’s First In Africa, Second Worldwide’

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The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the World Health Organisation (WHO), have ranked Nigeria first in Africa and second in the world among countries with the worst malnutrition cases.
According to the UNICEF report published in 2021 entitled: “Fed to Fail: The Crisis of Children’s Diets in Early Life”, Nigeria was placed second in the global malnutrition burden with 17million undernourished children.
In the report, one in three children in the country is diminutive and one in 10 children is wasted, setting the country off-track to achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 – “Zero Hunger” by 2030.
“From the 2018 National Demography Health Survey (NDHS), 37per cent of Nigerian children aged between 0 to 59 months are stunted, seven per cent are wasted (thin for their height); 22per cent are underweight (thin for their age), and two per cent are overweight (heavy for their height).
“According to the NDHS, South-West has less than seven per cent (6.8) of Global Acute malnutrition and moving up North, it is direr with North-West showcasing 57per cent in stunting.
“Only the South-East fared a little low with 18per cent of children stunted,” the report said.
However, it was gathered that the worsening security challenges, especially in the northern part of the country have led to the rising pangs of malnutrition among Nigerian children.
A woman, Fatimah has an infant boy, Suleiman that was diagnosed with failure to thrive a form of malnutrition in UNICEF centre in Sokoto.
Suleiman, as at the time of filing this report, weighed 2.7 kilos, a weight too low for his age.
Fatimah said: “Suleiman became sick after we were sacked from our ancestral home by bandits.
“We lost our lands, properties and other valuables to bandits and now my son is sick. Bandits attacked our village, Kamitau, about 12 months ago.”
She and other mothers together with their ailing infants at Sabon-Gari Dole Primary Health Centre in Goronyo Local Government Area of Sokoto State are victims of persistent activities of bandits as their children are struck with malnutrition.
Experts say these children’s condition may worsen with the recent report by the United Nations showing that 14.5million Nigerians require urgent assistance to address their nutrition needs.

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