@ St. Martin De Porres catholic Church Agric-Ojo Lagos – 8th, April, 2018
President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday in Abuja called on religious leaders to work towards the broader goal of building a strong and unified nation, and avoid insinuations that could divide the populace, especially along religious lines.
Receiving a delegation of the Arewa Pastors Non-Denominational Initiative for Peace in Nigeria led by Bishop John Abu Richard, President Buhari said religious leaders have the responsibility of creating an enabling environment for peace and development to thrive.
“Some voices, for political or ethnic reasons are making unguarded statements accusing the government and myself in particular of religious bias.
“Let me assure you, honorable clergymen, that this is far from the truth. In my career as a soldier, administrator, and politician, I have never veered from my oath of office.
“When I had the honor to lead a Military Government there were more Christians than Muslims in the Federal Executive Council and the Supreme Military Council.
“This was not by design but I appointed people on their merit without the slightest bias. The present Federal Executive Council is also evenly balanced; again not by design but by respecting and rewarding individual qualities,’’ the President said.
President Buhari noted that he was delighted at the proposition to hold a one-day prayer and fasting meeting for the nation, April 26, 2018, assuring that he would direct the Inspector General of Police to provide adequate security for the gathering.
In his remarks, the leader of the delegation said more than 45,000 pastors in the Northern part of Nigeria had registered with the initiative to use their pulpits for the propagation of the gospel of peace, and shun political distractions.
He urged other pastors to support the administration as it works towards ending the violence in various parts of the country and avoid politically colored sermons.
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Fresh attacks on Sunday and Monday by suspected Fulani herdsmen on four communities of Southern Kaduna had reportedly claimed 21 lives and left many houses burnt.
The state Police Command, however, could not confirm the casualty figure. The command’s Public Relations Officer, Aliyu Usman, said the figure was however exaggerated.
The attacks in Ashim, Nisi and Zilan reportedly took place at about 6am on Monday.
While that attack claimed 15 lives with no fewer than 50 houses razed, the attack in Bakin Kogi occurred on Sunday at about 5pm, leaving no fewer than seven persons dead and houses razed.
The President, Takad Community Development Association, Mr. Enock Andong, confirmed the attacks, saying the attackers were heavily armed.
He said, “They came around 6am today (Monday) and they killed 15 people in Ashim and Zilan alone. I am on my way to Nisi to find out the situation of things there.”
On the attack on Bakin Kogi, a former leader of the Kaninkon Development Association, Mr. Enock Barau, said the attackers were clad in black and shot sporadically on arrival in the community.
Barau added that the attack lasted for about four hours while the community, with the support of soldiers, tried to repel the attackers.
He said, “On Sunday, around 5pm, we heard gunshots within our surrounding. When I heard the gunshots three times, I came out of my house.
“As the shooting lasted from 5pm to 9pm, we managed to evacuate women out to a safe zone while the men stayed for defence.”
He said the attackers burnt houses as they shot.
“Over 100 houses were set ablaze. Seven people were killed and one person is still missing,” he added.
The Special Assistant, Media and Publicity to Governor Nasir El-Rufai, Mr. Samuel Aruwan, said in a statement on Monday that the situation had been brought under control.
In its reaction to the attacks, the Defence Headquarters, also on Monday, vowed to arrest the attackers.
The Director, Defence Information, Brig. Gen. Rabe Abubakar, described the attacks as unfortunate and urged residents of the areas to give prompt information to the military to avert future attacks.
He said, “It is unfortunate and intolerable. The military in conjunction with security agencies are doing their best to curb this heinous crime. However, we will not relent until all criminals and violent herdsmen are suppressed. We urge all and sundry to give us timely information on the activities of these elements. All must join hands to explore any available measure to bring peace.
“Nobody is above the law and we assure our citizens of the military’s total commitment to the course of rescuing our people from the hands of criminal herdsmen and other gangs.”
Mr. Soyinka made the call during a press-briefing in Lagos, which he titled: “Nomads and Nation: Valentine Card or Valedictory Rites.”
Mr. Soyinka said since the security agencies are displaying “a kind of paralysis” in dealing with armed herdsmen who have been blamed for killings and destruction of farmlands across the nation, the people have to organise some kind of internal resistance.
Mr Soyinka, who pegged his statement with a fable from his primary school textbook, about ”an ungrateful camel which kicked its benevolent owner, Bedouin, out of his tent after allowing the animal to share his tent with it”, said cows are now infiltrating and competing for space with people.
He said the government has to first set a deadline for herdsmen to be disarmed.
“They (the volunteer groups) need to ensure that anytime they see armed herdsmen they should report to the nearest police station. But if at certain point the herdsmen are not disarmed, then these groups should move and disarm them, “he said.
He however explained that his call for the groups to disarm the herdsmen, ”is not a call for violence.”
“I mentioned this deliberately because I don’t want anybody to get an impression that war is being declared. I hope we will not get to that stage.
“These hunter associations will now intensify their surveillance anytime they see armed herdsmen. These associations: OPC, vigilante, hunters, if at certain time the police have not disarmed the herdsmen, these volunteer associations should move into these places.
Mr. Soyinka thanked state governors that have already set up such groups of volunteers, as he was advocating, to watch herdsmen in their states.
The Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, was the first governor to employ the services of local hunters to check the excesses of herdsmen. Similar groups have also been set up in Benue State.
Internal occupation and colonisation
Admitting that the conflict between armed nomadic herdsmen and communities did not start now, he blamed the government for failing to nip the issue in the bud before it went out of hand.
He also said the ‘body language’ of the present administration shows that it was not ready to give the issue the attention it required.
He said the problem has now snowballed to such an extent that it could be described, ”as an internal occupation and colonisation.”
“They have reached a stage of impunity that they ambushed a group of farmers who were meeting to discuss the protection of their farmland.
“The character of those who we are meeting have changed drastically. I am talking of a phenomenon of internal occupation before Boko Haram exploded,” he said.
Mr. Soyinka also opined that the herdsmen conflict and killings may be sponsored by people with access to ill-gotten money bent on causing anarchy in the country.
“I think the police have a responsibility to look at highly-placed people in whose interest anarchy can be fostered.
“We might end up discovering that some of these people; I don’t care whether they are politicians or civil servants, have an interest in ensuing that there is chaos from Maiduguri to Lagos.
“We sometimes talk about corruption, but we don’t know how far it can destabilise the polity. When we think of the amount that has been stolen in this country…then you know that there is enough illegal funds to destabilise the nation completely,” he said.
The invasion of the herders disrupted the official activities at the council secretariat including marriage ceremonies going on at the council’s registry.
DAILY POST reports that trouble started when a worker in the council warned a herder to take his cows away from the council’s Agric department vegetable farm, located behind the secretariat.
The herder, a boy of about 8 years, reportedly ignored the warning and allowed the cows to feed on the vegetable planted.
The local government worker allegedly moved onto the boy and when attempting to make him direct the cows off the farm, the boy fell.
It was gathered that another older herder, suspected to be the father of the boy, who was coming behind and saw what transpired pulled out a sword and engaged the local government worker.
It was learnt that the worker, who also had a cutlass in his hand, engaged the herder . While both men were exchanging throw of cutlass and sword, the herder was injured.
The injured herder was said to have mobilized over 30 herdsmen who stormed the Local Government Secretariat and sacked workers from office.
The herdsmen also went to the secretariat registry and sent away couples who were holding marriage ceremonies.
Caretaker Chairman of Akure south local government, Mrs Margaret Atere, described the situation as unbelievable and called for prompt security action.
Workers in the council had fled their respective offices and vowed not to return until their security can be guaranteed
The state Commissioner of Police, Mr Gbenga Adeyanju led men of his command to the secretariat to assess the situation while soldiers were also sighted at the scene.
The Senior Special Assistant to the state governor on Security, Alhaji Jimoh Dojumo was also as the secretariat to access the situation on ground.
Both the council worker and the herder who allegedly started the trouble are with the Police for further interrogation.
The Federal High Court in Wawa Cantonment, Kainji, Niger State, on Tuesday sentenced a commander of the Boko Haram terrorist group, Abba Umar, to 60 years imprisonment for various acts of terrorism.
The 22-year-old, who was remorseless and maintained a hard look throughout the proceedings, confirmed that he would return to Sambisa Forest to continue the terrorism acts if he was ever released.
He had been in detention since 2014 after his failed suicide mission to a school in Gombe State that year.
Two of the five counts preferred against him attracted death penalty but the judge said he decided to impose lesser sentences after taking into consideration the age of the convict and the fact that he must have been exposed to “excessive and consistent religious indoctrination” which made him to be easily pliable.
The judge added, “For count 3, I sentence him to 60 years imprisonment.
“I would have been more merciful but was rather dissuaded by the convict’s insistence that he would back the activities which constitute danger to the society and for which he was apprehended.”
Umar was 18 when he was arrested after his failed attempt suicide mission to Gombe Secondary School, Gombe State, in 2014.
During the trial on Tuesday, Umar confirmed that 17 pictures tendered by the prosecution as exhibits showing him, the car and the IEDs used for the failed operation, to be true and authentic.
While testifying earlier on Tuesday, the convict who said he married two wives in Sambisa Forest after joining the sect, described himself as “an Islamic warrior, and a commander in the Islamic army”.
The convict who spoke in Hausa and his testimony interpreted in English during the proceedings, confirmed that as a commander in the Boko Haram sect, he had over 100 lieutenants under him.
- …presents snake repellent chemicals to JAMB
The Senator representing Kaduna Central Senatorial District, Shehu Sani, on Tuesday stormed the headquarters of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board in Bwari, Federal Capital Territory, with snake charmers.
The senator also seized the opportunity to present JAMB with snake repellent chemicals.
Sani said the visit was to enable stakeholders to get to the bottom of the issues surrounding the reported case of missing N36m from the JAMB office in Makurdi, Benue State.
“In the course of interrogation, Philomena denied the allegations that she stole the money, but confessed that her housemaid connived with another JAMB staff to spiritually (through a snake) steal the money from the vault in the account office,” the report said.
Sani said his visit to JAMB was in response to the story that a snake swallowed N36m.
He lamented that it was of concern that such a huge sum of money was reported to have been swallowed by a snake.
“I believe that the contribution I can make is to bring snake charmers from my constituency to the JAMB office and to help them fish out the snake and weed out snakes from their premises.”
Sani further said that if a snake could actually swallow N36m, one day, Nigerians might wake up to say that a snake had swallowed the country’s foreign reserve.
“Even if it is a spiritual matter, we believe that these people I brought are some of the best snake charmers in the country and they will help in arresting both physical and spiritual snakes if there has been any in the JAMB office.”
“We are very proud of him. We believe he is someone who should continue to run this agency.
“It is good for Nigerians to know this is what happened before he came into office. I believe the best thing we can do is to continue to support him.
“It is time Nigerians knew that there may be other dirty things happening in other places, but this place has exposed it for us. We know the truth and I’m very happy about that.”
Responding, the Spokesperson for JAMB, Mr. Fabian Benjamin, explained that on assumption of duty, the incumbent registrar, Oloyede, discovered that there were loopholes in the sale of scratch cards.
“We discovered a lot of loopholes. The registrar thereafter introduced PIN vending.
“After introducing the PIN vending, it was natural for him to call for an audit of the former use of scratch cards.
“After taking stock, it was discovered that in some offices, they could not account for what they sold.
“Ms Philomena Chieshe was entrusted with a number of scratch cards which she sold, but N36m could not be accounted for.
“When asked, she actually said she sold them at the said amount, and kept the money in the public vault. According to her, a snake swallowed the money.”
Benjamin further explained that in the spirit of transparency, inclusiveness, and openness, the agency felt that Nigerians should know what was happening.
He said Chieshe had been queried and has also appeared before a disciplinary committee.
“A report has been put together and sent to the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu. As soon as that report is approved, she will be disciplined and handed over to the appropriate security agency for proper profiling.”