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Herdsmen invade Ondo, sack LG secretariat

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Couples abandon wedding ceremonies, workers flee

Our people may result to self-help –Monarch

 

LLike a scene from Hollywood movie, armed men believed to be Fulani herdsmen yesterday invaded Akure South Local Government Secretariat in Akure, the Ondo State capital, sacked the workers and paralysed activities.

This came as the paramount ruler of Akure, the Deji of Akure, Oba Aladetoyinbo Ogunlade Aladelusi, asked President Muhammadu Buhari to call his men to order to prevent reprisal by his subjects. Civil servants, political appointees and guests took to their heels on seeing about 30 machete-wielding herdsmen who invaded the secretariat through a bush path. Some about-to-wed couples abandoned the engagement ceremonies and ran for safety on seeing the herdsmen who stormed the secretariat with different dangerous weapons. The grooms and brides ran in different directions and abandoned the venue of the wedding ceremonies that were taking place in one of the halls in the secretariat.

The officiating ministers and the cultural troupe ran helterskelter on seeing the herdsmen in the secretariat. The herdsmen invaded the council secretariat from the back gate that leads to a swampy area being cultivated by some workers of the local government.

The crisis, according to workers, started when a worker in the Agriculture Department, Mr. Simon Johnson, resisted grazing on his vegetable farm behind the council secretariat. Johnson was said to have told one of the herders grazing on his farm to leave and move to another place.

The source said: “This led to an argument between them. The Fulani herdsman left the scene to mobilise his friends to attack the council. In the process, the herdsmen attacked two of the workers with machetes.”

While running into safety, several workers, guests of the couples and political office holders sustained various degrees of injury.

Workers who fled their respective offices vowed not to return until their security can be guaranteed. The state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Gbenga Adeyanju, who led policemen to the secretariat to assess the situation, said no arrest had been made.

Adeyanju also led the Commander of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Mr. Pedro Awili Ideba, to curtail the situation.

The Local Government Chairman, Mrs. Margret Atere, who confirmed the story, described the incident as unfortunate as Fulani herdsmen had been grazing in the area for a while. She, however, said the local government secretariat would not be closed because of the incident.

The chairman said the workers only marched to the gate to protest what happened and work would resume immediately. Atere, however, called for dialogue between the herdsmen and the officials of the council to give room for peace and to avoid fur ther occurrence of the incident. She commended the security agencies over their prompt response to the herdsmen’s invasion.

The Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mrs. Bosede Daramola, said the workers would return to their workplace if their safety was guaranteed. According to her, some workers were injured in the process of running into safety and since there was water and vegetables in the area, the herdsmen would always return.

Mr. Oluwasegun Ajiboye, the Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, said the governor had summoned security meeting to access the security in the state. Oba Aladelusi, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Mr. Michael Adeyeye, said any other attack might incur the wrath of the people.

Reacting to the invasion of Akure South Local Government Area secretariat, the monarch condemned the activities of the herdsmen who overran the council and equally destroyed the farm belonging to the council.

Aladelusi described the invasion as barbaric, provocative and an attempt to stir up trouble in the peaceful city of Akure. The traditional ruler wondered why the herdsmen would have chosen to lead their cattle to graze on the farmland belonging to the council if not an attempt to create crisis in town.

He said: “The herdsmen went as far as injuring workers of the council who had made frantic efforts to prevent the wanton destruction carried out on the farm. “It is sad to say that no major arrest or prosecution had been made by the police since the attack on Chief Olu Falae’s farm, now the arsonists who parade themselves as herdsmen target the local government as their next port of call.” Adeyeye said: “His Majesty wishes to call on President Buhari not to treat the issue of these notorious herdsmen with kid gloves as their activities are becoming worrisome and unbearable. Akure people can no longer tolerate the excesses of these herdsmen who are now making live unbearable with their nefarious attitudes.

“Oba Aladetoyinbo wishes to make passionate appeal to the State Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, who is the Chief Security Officer of the state, to take proactive measure in curbing the menace. “His Majesty wishes to call on the Inspector-General of Police, the Commissioner of Police and all the security agencies to take more decisive action and ensure that the arsonists are brought to justice. “It is important to act now to avoid self-defence by our people once we are left with no option.”

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Metro and Crime

Gunmen abduct businessman, kill masquerade, two others

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Armed men have kidnapped the Chairman and Chief Executive of Always Petroleum and Gas, Alhaji Otinau Momohjimoh. The oil mogul, who is in his early 40s, was abducted about 8p.m. on Sunday opposite Okene Central Mosque, kogi State, where he often spend time with friends and business associates.

A witness said the gunmen, whose numbers could not be ascertained because it was dark, stormed the place and started shooting sporadically to scare people away. The witness, who identified himself as Usman Ishaq, added that as people were scampering into safety, two of the gunmen held Momohjimoh’s hands and dragged him into their Toyota Camry car and sped away. Ishaq said that the kidnappers were yet to contact the family of the oil magnate and that no ransom had been placed on him.

In a related development, two people and a masquerade were killed at Inoziomi quarters in Adavi Local Government Area during the Ebe festival. The incident, it was learnt, occurred on Saturday between 9p.m. and 10p.m. when gunmen ridding on a motorcycle suddenly opened fire and killed a masquerade and two people on the spot while several others were seriously wounded.

The state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr. William Aya, confirmed the killing of the masquerade, but said Momohjimoh’s abduction had not been reported to the command. Aya promised that the perpetrators of the heinous act would be apprehended to face the wrath of the law.

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Metro and Crime

Man impregnates, weds teenage sister in Anambra church

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Just like a fairy tale, a 25-year-old man, Mr. Chiadi Ezeibekwe, said he impregnated his 17-year-old younger sister. As if that was not enough, he wedded her at a church at their Agba village in Ekwulobia, Anambra State. Agba youths, who saw the marriage as “an abomination,” burnt down the church where the wedding was consummated.

It was learnt that the wedding was conducted by Chiadi’s elder brother, Mr. Chijioke Ezeibekwe, a Shepherd of Dwelling Fullness of God Church, Agba. Chiadi quoted Deuteronomy 36: 6, which, according to him, permits marriage between brothers and ssters of the same parents. However, a member of the church, who spoke on condition of anonymity, countered that. He referred the brothers to Leviticus 18:9, which clearly speaks against marriage between brother and sister.

A source noted that immediately their eldest brother, Mr. Emeka Ezeibekwe, heard of the “incestuous marriage,” he alerted the clan head, who summoned the family to an emergency meeting. When their father, popularly, known as “Luisco,” was contacted for comments, he said that his concern was a way out of the situation, since according to him, “what has happened, has happened’’.

Addressing the crowd which gathered on their premises, their mother claimed that his son’s action was biblical, saying Chiadi paid her the bride price. Further enquiries showed that Chiadi and some members of the family were baptised into the Adventist Church after leaving their former church in August 2016.

“Since they were baptised into the church, they have been engaged in weird and rebellious behaviour as well as false teachings,’’ said Mr. Onyeka, a member of the Adventist Church in Ekwulobia. “Because of their rebellious attitude and false teachings, the Seventh Day Adventist Church expelled them since May 2017.

Not long after that, Mr. Chijioke Ezeibekwe started his own church,” Onyeka added. It was also learnt that their grandmother passed away a few days after she found out about the marriage. The Igwe-in-Cabinet had since summoned the family for interrogation.

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Metro and Crime

Police probe ex-speaker’s brother’s killing

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Police yesterday commenced investigation into the murder of a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at a ward rally in Nwofe Primary School, Agbaja, Izzi Local Government Area of Ebonyi State. The victim, Elias Nwankwegu popularly known as Okarika, who is younger brother of former Speaker of the state House of Assembly and Attorney-General, Chief Augustine Nwankwegu, was at the weekend shot dead by suspected thugs during a political gathering.

A man, Emmanuel Nwofe, has been arrested in connection with the killing. The state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Loveth Odah, confirmed Nwofe’s arrest to our correspondent.

Elias’ body has been deposited at the mortuary of the Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki (FETHA 2). Odah said the suspect, Emmanuel, in his statement, denied having a hand in Elias’ killing.

She said: “He is being accused of knowing the killers but he denied the allegation in his statement. He said he heard noises in the classroom and went there to find out what was happening. He said that some people there slapped him and kicked him to the ground and collected his phones.

“Then, shortly after that, he heard a gunshot and he took to his heels. He said he did not know his assailants as they were not from the area.” Odah said the command had also decided to invite other persons at the event for questioning in a bid to find out what actually happened.

She appealed to politicians in the state to always inform the police before carrying out any rally so that the police could deploy officers to the area to ensure safety of lives and property. “When we are not informed, we may not deploy our officers to such event and that is when such things may happen. We were not officially informed of the event,” she added.

Meanwhile, the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Francis Nwifuru, has denied having a hand in Elias’ killing. He was reacting to allegations that the killers were some boys loyal to his faction of the PDP in the area.

The Speaker and former Speaker, Augustine Nwankwegu, have been having a running battle in the constituency since Nwifuru defeated Augustine in the party’s primaries in 2010. Spokesman for the speaker, Mr. Tony Nwizi, exonerated his boss from Elias’ death. Nwizi said that the gathering was a ward meeting not a rally in support of the speaker’s re-election bid as claimed in some quarters.

He said: “What happened is that the party was supposed to hold a ward meeting there. The ward is not even Mr Speaker’s ward but the current Attorney General Cletus Ofoke, who is from the ward called Mr Speaker and begged him to come attend.”

Nwizi said Nwifuru decided to make a brief stop at the meeting on his way to Ikwo Local Government Area for a burial before the incident occurred. Nwizi noted that the victim was Nwifuru’s staunch supporter so the speaker or any of his supporters had no reason to attack one of their allies in the ward.

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