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Herdsmen killings: Benue stands still as 73 victims are buried

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  • Govt offices, banks, markets, schools closed

 

Our sons and daughters, pregnant wives, children, fathers and mothers were slaughtered like animals. If the herdsmen think that the killing of our people would make us stop the enforcement of the law, they have failed – Gov Ortom

Social and economic activities in Benue State were yesterday grounded as the 73 people killed by Fulani herdsmen in Guma and Logo local government areas were buried amidst tears and wailings by relatives and sympathisers. Government offices, commercial banks, markets and schools were closed in Makurdi, the state capital, in observance of the workfree day earlier declared by the state government in honour of the victims. This came as the Inspector-General of Police (IG), Ibrahim Idris, yesterday restated that the killings in Benue State were caused by communal crisis and not herdsmen’s attack.

The bodies were driven round Makurdi metropolis in a motorcade in five trailers and six ambulances to the Ibrahim Babangida Square for a funeral mass which started about noon and ended at 3:30p.m., while interment took place about 4:15p.m. The 73 persons excluded the two policemen who were slaughtered.

The victims were killed between Monday January 1 and Saturday January 6 by the herdsmen who had invaded the two local government areas. At the event yesterday, Governor Samuel Ortom said the state had looked forward to start the New Year with renewed hopes when it was invaded by the mindless Fulani herdsmen.

The governor took the first reading from Psalm 55:1-23 while his deputy, Benson Abounu, took the second reading from Revelation 4:1-11. Ortom said more than 73 people were murdered with several others missing while many who sustained injuries were still being treated in different hospitals across the state.

The governor said the attacks had pushed people of the state to the wall and would no longer tolerate the killing any longer. He said: “We have been killed, we can no longer tolerate this, the Federal Government and security must protect us or the blood of those killed will cry and God will listen and fight for them.

“We took the decision to collectively mourn for those killed in the current attack and also accord them mass state funeral to underscore the fact that their blood was spilled after a formal declaration of war on Benue State. “Our sons and daughters, pregnant wives, children, fathers and mothers were slaughtered like animals.

“What is happening in Benue State should be a lesson to all. The problem is surely not in our law, it is with the green grass and water wherever found in Nigeria.” The governor disclosed that 20 persons caught contravening the law had been arraigned.

He added: “If the herdsmen think that the killing of our people would make us stop the enforcement of the law, they have failed. We will not be deterred by their thinking because am ready to pay supreme price for the implementation of the Anti-Open Grazing law.

I will continue and insist on the calls for the arrest of the factional leader of Miyietti Allah Kautal Houre.” In his funeral speech, the Second Republic Minister of Steel, Chief Paul Unongo, said the state had suffered too many attacks by the herdsmen but President Muhammadu Buhari, who they voted believing that he would protect them, had left them to be killed by his kinsmen. He said apart from the Fulani/ Hausa, the Tiv people where he belongs; were the second largest ethnic group in the North and if the two tribes were allowed to fight, the economy and political dominance of the North would suffer.

Unongo noted that as a Tiv man, he would never fold him arms and allow his people to be killed. According to him, if the killing is not stopped, he will personally raise an army of two million people to protect territorial integrity of his people.

He said: “Benue people sacrifice enough blood for the unity of this country and would not allow a section of Fulani terrorists to come and kill our people in cold blood. “I am begging Nigerians that my people cannot continue to be cannon fodder of this country. If government can’t protect us, we will mobilise and train our people into army to defend us. We are 100 per cent in support of what Governor Ortom has done. I am the spiritual leader and ancestral of Tiv nation, enough, is enough.”

The convener and chairman of Northern Elders Forum (NEF) stressed that the entire people of the state were watching President Buhari and had joined in the persistence calls by Governor Ortom that the Federal Government should take drastic steps to urgently address the killings and also arrest the leader of Miyetti Allah Kautal Houre for inflicting pains on the people of the state.

Corroborating Unongo’s position, onetime Military Administrator of Katsina State, Gen. Lawrence Onoja, who described the killing in the state as “genocidal conspiracy against Benue people”, said the killings must not continue.

He said: “Some of us in 1966 fought the Nigerian Civil War. Benue has contributed to the unity of this country, therefore if the Federal Government refused to address the killings in Benue and if we decide to raise our army as advocated by our elders to defend ourselves, I will not mind to command that army despite my age.”

Onoja appealed to the Federal Government to replicate operation python dance or Fulani dance in Benue as being done in other states of the federation. Former member of the National Assembly, Senator Joseph Waku, maintained that Benue people were known for creating peace, loving peace and honouring peace.

He said: “It is unfortunate that someone would oppose a law that is legally enacted and began to kill and the Federal Government would refuse to make arrest in a quest to end the carnage. This is enough provocation; nobody has the monopoly of killing.

Therefore, enough is enough.” Speaking on behalf of Benue State House of Assembly, the Majority Leader, Hon. Benjamin Adanyi, expressed sadness that President Buhari came to Benue during electioneering but after he was voted into power, he watched while Benue people are being killed. Former governor of Benue State, Senator George Akume, said the primary aim of government was to protect lives of citizenry. He urged the Federal Government to proscribe the faction of the Miyietti Allah as terrorists because their actions were treasonable.

Representative of the United Nations, Dr. Mathins Ejibike, consoled the government and people of the state for the loss of their loved ones. According to him, what is happening Benue State demands international attention. He said: “We want an enlightened approached to this matter.

We should continue to pray that these kinds of killings should be the last in the Benue State.” Ejibike noted that they have received a report that over 20,000 refugees were already in camp and promised that the UN shall look into their plight.

The Tor Tiv, Professor James Aytse, in his oration, said what was happening was not just in Benue, but Nasarawa and Taraba states too. Aytse added that the killing was ethnic cleansing and urged the Federal Government to rise up and end the killing.

He said: “There is ethnic cleansing agenda going on in Benue State. We must put an end to these killings. This is the 47th time that Fulani would attack the Benue people and kill them mercilessly” Also, the state chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev Akpen Leva, commended Ortom for enacting the Anti-Open Grazing Law.

One of the survivors, Akaater Azera, said he was in his house sleeping with his wife when the attackers came and knocked at the door. According to him, his wife went to the door, only for her to be captured and slaughtered by the terrorists. Meanwhile, Idris, who apologised to his critics in Benue State over a his ‘communal clash’ comment, yesterday insisted that the issues were communal in nature.

The IG spoke in Lafia at a peace meeting with leaders of Fulani and Tiv and other stakeholders in Nasarawa State. Idris called on all victims of the crisis to sheathe their swords and live together in peace as they have always done. Also, the interim Chairman of Awe Local Government Area, Tafida Hudu, blamed the crisis on the implementation of Anti-Open Grazing law in Benue State. He said the conflict had rendered over 18,000 Tiv people homeless who were now taking refuge in Awe town and Tunga.

A spokesperson for the Fulani, Habe Haruna, who also blamed the conflict on the Anti-Open Grazing law in Benue State, accused livestock guards of intercepting their cows. He called on the Federal Government to abolish the Anti-Open Grazing law in Benue State to allow peace to reign.

Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Air Force, Hon. Samson Okwu (PDP, Benue), has asked the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, to apologise to Nigerians for saying more people were killed during former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration. Okwu, representing Oju/Obi federal constituency of the state, who spoke in Abuja, said the unending killings were as a result of failure of the Buhari administration.

He said: “During Jonathan’s administration these killings were not spread in the country as witnessed now. The insecurity was only in some parts of the North- East and North-Central but now there’s Enugu massacre, Edo massacre, Rivers massacre and then Benue. “I think Mr. Femi Adesina should apologise to the people of Benue and Nigerians instead of blaming their failure on President Goodluck Jonathan.”

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Metro and Crime

Remarkable achievement! Nigerian-American girl born without hands wins handwriting competition

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An inspirational story of a 9-year-old Nigerian-American girl, Anaya Ellick, is trending after she emerged winner of two national awards for exceptional handwriting skills in America. The feat, as outstanding as it is, is made even more remarkable considering that she was born without hands.

A third-grader in the Chesapeake area of Virginia in the United States, Ellick beat hundreds of others who competed with her to the award in competition in spite of her physical challenges.

She was named winner of the 2018 Nicholas Maxim Award, which is part of the 2018 Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest on April 26. Ellick’s tale of extraordinary proportions shows she previously won the Nicholas Maxim Award for Excellence in Manuscript Penmanship when she was a first grader two years ago.

Her story, one of the most profound depictions of the popular maxim – there is ability is disability, indicates that people should never limit the extent of their dreams and aspirations no matter the circumstance. With her feat, the amazing young girl has brought glory not just to her family but as well to Nigeria through academic brilliance.

The accomplishment by the girl, who found a way to be the best at writing despite the fact that she was born without hands, has left many observers wondering how she was able to pull it off. According to the organisers, the award recognises students with special-needs who have developed an exceptional skill in handwriting and even they are astonished that the 9-year-old who was also named winner of the contest’s print category, could do it again on a larger scale.

Being so close to home, Saturday Telegraph gathered that the little girl who doesn’t use prosthetic hands, took an unconventional approach to it all. She took time to learn how to hold a pencil between her arms both for the purposes of drawing and writing.

On account of the feat, her school has taken the lead in celebrating the Nigerian-American on social media. “Greenbrier Christian Academy is proud to announce third grader Anaya Ellick has won the Nicholas Maxim Special Award for Excellence in Cursive!,” a post by the school began.Anaya previously won the Nicholas Maxim Award for Excellence in Manuscript Penmanship as a first grader in 2016 and has claimed the title again with her outstanding cursive writing. “What makes Anaya’s achievement as a National Handwriting Champion so special is Anaya was born without hands and does not use prosthetic.

In order to write, she is able to hold a pencil between her two arms and stand at her desk to get the proper angle needed for writing. “Anaya is an extraordinary young lady. Her tenacity continues to inspire all of us at GCA. She has well-earned first place finish reminds us all what determination and hard work can achieve.

We are so proud of Anaya and her accomplishments. “During our Foundations Academy Chapel, Anaya’s teacher, Mrs. Becky Cannaday, shared a message on our character trait of the month, boldness, and on the importance of letting your light shine for God’s glory.

“Cannaday encouraged students to be bold and reminded our Gators that boldness does not always mean being front and center, but can also be shown by humbly standing alone in doing the right thing, even when everyone else is not. Mrs. Cannaday went on challenge students to respectfully love others and to not be fooled by the world into acting in ways that do not glorify God. “As at the time of going to the press, after Cannaday’s message, representatives from Zaner-Bloser presented Anaya with a monetary award and trophy.

The National Handwriting Contest is an annual event sponsored by Zaner-Bloser to promote legible handwriting,” the message concludes. In a statement, GCA Principal, Tracy Cox, also spoke about the remarkable 9-year-old. “Anaya is a remarkable young lady.

She does not let anything get in the way of doing what she has set out to do,” said. “She is a hard worker and has some of the best handwriting in her class. Her determination is an inspiration to all of us at GCA,” she said.

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Metro and Crime

LCDA creation: Oke Ogun community hails Ajimobi on grassroots devt

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Residents of Wewe, one of the 35 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) created from the 33 Local Government Areas of Oyo State on January 16, 2018, have given kudos to the administration of Governor Abiola Ajimobi for affording them at the grassroots level the opportunity of directly participating in the governance of the 42-year-old Pace setter state.

The commendation is sequel to the election and swearing in of the Council Chairman, Mr Olaniyi Olusegun Olawuwo, who was the first Caretaker Chairman of the area, created from the Saki West Local Government, and had within a very short period of time touched many of the sectors of the area.

Wewe community is known for its heavy reliance on agriculture, as well as some economic activities like iron pots, shear butter, bakery, table water factories and modern day businesses including tourist centre. Bordered in the East by Saki East Local Government; in the North by ATISBO Local Government; in the West by Saki West Local Government, and in the South by Asabari LCDA, Wewe LCDA covers about 60 kilometres terrain around a waterlogged area with many rivers adjoining Wewe River, which the LCDA was named after. According to Olawuwo, while speaking with Saturday Telegraph, his administration had been able to embark on and completed over 31 various projects including agricultural and natural resources, environment health, education and social services, primary health care, road construction among others.

Olawuwo while recounting his experience as the pioneer caretaker chairman and his mission to transform the LCDA said the creation of the council had in no small measure justified the reason Governor Abiola Ajimobi established the LCDA.

The level of development since the creation of LCDA has really gone deeper into the grassroots in the old local government areas. By the time we are privileged to execute our mission for this LCDA, without mincing words, it would be clear to everyone, even the critics of Governor Ajimobi, that the creation of LCDAs is primarily for the good of our people at the grassroots as promised by our Governor. “When I came on board, it was evident to me that we have a lot to do to key into the vision of our governor in ensuring development across the length and breadth of Oyo State.

You will recall vividly that his administration is championing rural and urban development. The urban cities have been enjoying massive development, so creation of LCDAs will match deep rural development.

“At Wewe LCDA, we came on board with a lot of hopes on our shoulder, hence our resolve to set the area on the road of development. In conjunction with the staff, we have been able to prove that the LCDA will in truth serve as a spring board for eventual development and as a platform to get our people’s view and come up with their actual needs”, Olawuwo said.

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Metro and Crime

Court declares teacher’s sacking ‘unlawful’

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The National Industrial Court, on Friday declared as `unlawful’ the dismissal of one Akpomovine Ojo-Gabriel for embarking on maternity leave by the Hillside School, Abuja. Justice Rakiya Haastrup in delivering the judgement ordered payment of her salary and cost of suit.

The judge said the defendant’s failure to recognise the claimant’s maternity leave and refusal to allow the claimant resume after her leave was unjustifiable.

Haastrup said the stopping of her salaries is in breach of the terms of contract of the parties as contained in the staff handbook. The judge said the defendant breached the agreement in the section of the handbook that dealt with maternity leave which the claimant was entitled to as a staff.

“The handbook stipulates one month notice or salary in lieu of notice is required where the employment relationship is to be terminated by either party,’’ she said. Haastrup said the act of the defendant in mandating the claimant to re-apply for her position was null and void.

She ordered the payment of the claimant one month basic salary and any other entitlements that may be due and accrued. The claimant was also awarded the sum of N50, 000 as cost of prosecuting the suit.

The court, however, said the claimant was not entitled to the claim for an order of reinstatement. The claimant’s counsel, Kingsley Osuji, said his client before her dismissal was a teacher at Hillside School, Abuja, until she left for a two months maternity leave which was duly sought for and approved.

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