…says ‘we’re negotiating with Boko Haram on Dapchi girls’
- Herdsmen kill six policemen, others in Benue, Ebonyi
President Muhammadu Buhari has said he was unaware that the Inspector- General of Police (IGP), Mr. Ibrahim Idris, disregarded his directive to relocate to Benue State after the killing of 73 people in Logo and Guma local government areas of the state.
Buhari spoke during a condolence visit to Benue State yesterday. The President had, on January 9th, ordered the IGP to immediately move to Benue and restore peace in order to prevent further loss of lives following tensions in the state as a result of the killings which took place on New Year day.
The IGP was expected to relocate to Benue alongside five units of the Police Mobile Force (PMF). Speaking at a town hall meeting with stakeholders at the People’s House in Makurdi, prominent sons of Benue State expressed concerns that the IGP refused to relocate to the state, but decided to stay in Nasarawa State.
Buhari said that he was surprised at the revelation that the IGP did not spend 24 hours in Benue, when he directed him to relocate to the state and remain there till peace was restored. “I am getting to know this in this meeting. I am quite surprised, but I know that I sent him here,” he said.
He, however, said that the meeting was not the best place to expose the inefficiency of his appointees, and appealed to Benue people to exercise restraint and live in peace with their neighbours.
Buhari explained that although he has been receiving security reports on the crisis, it was inappropriate for him to swiftly accuse his appointees of incompetence. “But what I will appeal to your various constituencies is a question of applying for restraint.
I and the governor and some of you holding public office will go, but the relationship between cattle rearers and farmers in Benue State will continue beyond us, as it was before us.
This is the reality of the situation.” He declared that he will not pay lip service in taking concrete decisions to tackle the increasing insecurity challenges confronting the people of Benue State and other parts of the country.
The President said: “I cannot overlook the killings in Benue or any other part of Nigeria. I cannot do that. I am genuinely worried about the attacks in Benue and we are doing everything to end them. “So, please, try to convince your constituency that through the processes of law enforcement agents, the police, the DSS, and the military, I’m doing my best, but I’m very loyal to people downstairs. “No one can question God why He brought us together as a people, we even fought war for several months.” On request of what he called “shopping list” by some stakeholders, the President enjoined them to pray for the economy to improve, noting that he would make any promises when he returns on campaigns to the state ahead of 2019 elections.
“When coming back on campaign, if, coming back on campaigns, I may promise,” he said. In his remarks, Governor Samuel Ortom told Buhari that the only solution to the killings in Benue State was to fish out the perpetrators of crisis, particularly the leadership of the Miyetti Allah Kautal-Haure group and the adoption of the ranching system for cattle rearing in Nigeria.
The governor said 65 more people have been killed by the herdsmen after the 73 that were given mass burial while 26 others were killed in Omusu-Edumoga village in Okpokwu with over 5,000 displaced in Mbatoho community. Ortom also confirmed the killing of two Mobile Policemen in Guma Local Government area shortly before the arrival of President Buhari visit to the state. He urged the President to also upgrade the current exercise Cat Race (Ayem A Kpatema) by the military in the state into a full military operation in order to give specific directive that could lead to tackling the herders/ farmers’ clashes in the state.
The Benue State governor lamented that no fewer than 170,000 persons have been displaced and are being housed by the state government as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in different camps as a result of the attacks.
He said 60 per cent of the IDPs were sadly children who ordinarily should have been in school. “Your excellency, we plead with you to take steps to reduce the sufferings of these over 170,000 countrymen in the eight internally displaced camps.
The Federal Government should compensate them and assist in the rebuilding of their homes as promised by the committee on displaced people headed by the Vice President. “The primary, secondary schools, health centres and churches destroyed in several communities should be rebuilt for use again,” he added. The governor denied allegations that the Benue State government was keeping and training a militia group to fight Fulani herdsmen in Benue.
“As a born again Christian and someone who believes in the fear of God, I cannot and we have never encouraged the establishment of any militia group,” Ortom said. The Tor Tiv, Professor James Ayatse, speaking at the event, urged Buhari to re-consider redesigning of the country’s security architecture with the states and traditional rulers having a role to play.
He said aside taking steps to address the security crisis in Benue, it was important for Buhari to increase federal presence in the state. Ayatse noted that government should also consider the dredging of the River Benue to create more economic activities for increased jobs for the youths.
Specifically, Unongo said Benue people are deeply hurt and bewildered over the killings of unharmed villagers and regretted that the people have been shortchanged in the national scheme of things after voting massively for the president during the 2015 general elections. Unongo appealed to the President to support the implementation of the antiopen grazing law in Benue.
“The Federal Government should insist that the law is implemented because it is the only way to end the clashes between farmers and herdsmen,” he said. Mr. Edward Ujege, President, Mzough U Tiv, a Tiv socio political group, called for compensation for the victims of the attacks. On his part, Bishop Wilfred Anagbe of the Catholic Diocese of Makurdi, regretted that the response of the Federal Government was “coming too late”.
The chairman, Benue Farmers’ Association, Mr. Terlumun Akputu, also called for compensation for victims of attacks and urged government to rehabilitate roads in the state. Malam Shetima Mohammed, a representative of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), Benue Chapter, denied responsibility for the Benue attacks.
Those who accompanied the President to the stakeholders’ meetings were the National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Mongunu (rtd); Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonishakin; Minister of Defence, Brig-Gen. Mansur Dan Ali: Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas; Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Ibrahim: the Ministers of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbe and the Director General of the Department of State Services (DSS).
Why I Support Restructuring – Dogara
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara, has expressed support for auditing and restructuring the existing federal system to give a sense of belonging to all Nigerians
He said that for true federalism to be achieved in Nigeria, a unique system of federalism that best suits Nigerian people and the local circumstances in the country must be created, in addition to having leaders who are visionary, selfless, prudent, intelligent and indefatigable and having integrity and honour.
He said these while speaking on the topic, “Reforming the Nigerian Federation: Which Way Forward”, at the 3rd annual Political Summit organised by the Save Democracy Africa in Abuja.
The Speaker noted that “The talk of Nigeria’s successor genuine federalism can no longer hold waters giving the state of internal insurgencies, divisiveness, ethnic and religious schism witnessed in several parts of Nigeria. Efforts at wishing away the problem associated with Nigerian federation have only resulted in several tribal, ethnic and religious movements that have even metamorphosed into terrorist syndicates.
“One can, therefore, no longer fold his arms but engage some of the issues that have confronted us as a nation and threatened the Nigerian federation. This forum provides one of the opportunities for such interrogation. Accordingly, I commend the organisers for bringing this issue to the front burner once again.
“That Nigeria could survive despite predictions to the contrary by the World Powers not only portrays a ray of hope but also demonstrate that Nigerian Federation has come to stay.
“It is therefore incumbent on us to fashion out our own type of federalism that is best suited to our people and to local circumstances. There should be genuine efforts to build the nation. Therefore ethnic, religious and sectional agenda should take back place. The essence of federalism is to foster unity and development. This has, however, not been achieved.
Consequently, the recruitment processes of our elective office holders are being re-visited in the Electoral Amendment Bill to ensure that the system is able to recruit the best at all strata of leadership. We need leaders who are visionary, selfless, prudent, intelligent and indefatigable and having integrity and honour.”
He added that the current National Assembly has shown enough determination to ensure that the Federation of Nigeria is managed effectively for the good of every citizen in its several initiatives to address imbalances.
He also added that to take Nigeria to its pride of place, a reorientation of Nigerians to address the political and economic malaise they face must be addressed, along with every other possible measure to take Nigeria to where it rightly belongs among the comity of Nations given her huge and rich minerals and agricultural resources, and population.
Hon Dogara stated, “There should be massive awareness to change the mindsets of the rulers and the ruled. This is where there is the need for proper education and awareness for both the rulers and the ruled. I challenge our tertiary institutions to break the disconnect between them and the political institutions and industries not only to fashion out the appropriate curriculum to drive this new orientation to confront our political and economic malaise but also to lead cutting-edge research in providing correct local solutions to our diverse of problems.”
He also identified the pedestals upon which Nigerian Federation has thrived over the years as multi-party system that allows wider participation in the political process, equity distributive principles of revenue from the Federation Account, states creation, special intervention programme to address specific problems where there are genuine cases of imbalance, marginalisation and injustice such as NDDC and NEDC, growing synergy and improved communication between the National Assembly and the Executive, the judiciary, practice of federal character in the composition and conduct of public institutions at state and federal levels.
The speaker also identified some emerging issues in Nigeria’s federation political gerrymandering, corruption and nepotism, state creation and boundary delimitation, electoral boundary manipulation that discriminates against voters on account of tribe, language, religion, or related status.
“The same is also true of boundary adjustments, state creation and Local Governments in Nigeria. The minority tribes have complained of being short-changed. The issue of fiscal federalism and resource control. The allocation of revenue in Nigeria is presently heated as there are always allegations and counter-allegations of manipulations against the federal government by states. There are also allegations of zero allocation to local governments by states despite very clear constitutional provisions. In addition, there has been complaint of total neglect of the states that generate the revenue as such the derivative formula has been very contentious.
There is over concentration of powers and responsibilities on the federal government. There are several responsibilities that can better be handled by the states. The power sharing between the Federal Government and the states will have to be revisited and the issue of the autonomy of local governments in Nigeria which state Houses of Assembly keep voting against,” he further stated.
Hon Dogara, therefore, stressed the need to fashion out our own type of federalism that is best suited to our people and to local circumstances, with genuine efforts to build the nation, the need for proper education and awareness for both the rulers and the ruled, awareness and re-orientation on the issue of political gerrymandering, and vesting the responsibility of delaminating constituencies to the Boundary Commission as is the case in several countries like Britain.
He added, “The issue of resource control must be properly addressed. The communities where those resources are found should be adequately compensated. The Host Community Bill initiated by the House of Representatives on the Oil and Gas industry will be a test case. The call for resource control may by implication have a semblance of territorial devolution.”
The speaker noted that since assumption of the 8th House of Representatives, they have engaged the executive (mostly ministers and heads of parastatals) in several sectoral debates at plenary and have enacted cutting edge legislations in emerging, reviewed over 300 laws with the hope of bringing them in tune with modern realities and has been guided by the need to adjust our political, social and economic system to meet local circumstances and engraft the existing laws to conform.
UTME: 110 blind candidates sit exam in Lagos, hail JAMB over welfare
The about 110 visually-impaired candidates, who sat the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME), in Lagos today, have commended the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) for what they described as an improved conduct of the examination.
The candidates, who sat for the examination at the Distance Learning Institute of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka, are part of about 340 candidates who are billed to take part in the examination in five centres across the country’s six geopolitical zones.
Some of them, who spoke to New Telegraph in Lagos, also hailed JAMB for the provision of welfare packages including hotel accommodation and feeding.
The examination, which was conducted by the Equal Opportunity Group created by JAMB and headed by the former Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Peter Okebukola, also had in attendance in Lagos, Emeritus Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Nini Briggs.
According to Okebukola, the dictation method was adopted for the candidates to carry all the candidates along, and pending the time adequate provision of braille machines are provided and candidates are well trained to handle them.
He said; “What the Equal Opportunity Group is saddled to do is to conduct UTME for visually-impaired candidates and those in prisons. Those in prisons concluded theirs on Saturday but the blind candidates are scheduled to sit their exams between Monday and Tuesday.
“This examination is holding simultaneously across five centres in each zone, and the candidates are catered for with the provision of accommodation and feeding.”
Meanwhile, the Executive Director of the Bethesda Home for the Blind, Lagos, Mrs. Chioma Ohakpe, also commended the examination body for the improvement but also called on JAMB to fast-track efforts towards providing the CBT facilities for the candidates like their sighted counterparts.
One of the candidates, Adebisi Oluwashina of the Government Special School for the Blind, Ikere-Ekiti, said he was sure of good results, saying the dictation option was far better than expected.
Yahaya Bello gave herdsmen blank cheque to operate in Kogi – Faleke
A federal lawmaker and running mate to late Abubakar Audu in the 2015 governorship election in Kogi state, James Faleke, has accused Yahaya Bello, the Kogi state governor, of giving herdsmen a “blank cheque to operate in Kogi”.
Suspected herdsmen had invaded three communities in the state, killing 25.
The attacks, which occurred in Oganienugwu and Ikende communities in Dekina local government area and Abejukolo in Omala local government, happened after Bello said Kogi had land to accommodate herdsmen.
In a statement, Faleke described the killings as the “height of wickedness”.
He called on the state government to “accept responsibility for its failure”, and call the attention of the Miyetti Allah breeders association to the situation.
“The news came to us as a shock. That is wickedness of the highest order. What can we ever equate with human lives? How did we come to this sorry pass as a people?” Faleke asked.
“We are calling on the state government led by Governor Yahaya Bello who gave the Fulani herdsmen a blank cheque to operate in Kogi state in the first place to urgently move to draw the attention of the leadership of the herdsmen, the Miyetti Allah, to this wicked assault on the people of Kogi, while also rallying the various security organizations to action.
“We find it difficult to believe the statement credited to the state government after the attack which said ‘the attack was politically motivated’ instead the government should be bold enough to accept responsibility for its failure.
“We note that we have lived with Fulanis in our various communities since times past and had never had cause to fight them. We are therefore appealing to the original peaceful Fulanis living in our midst to be more accommodating and volunteer information to security agencies on invaders and criminals parading themselves as Fulanis.”
The group asked who would appear before the judicial panel set up by the government when the perpetrators were yet to be identified.
“How can the state government set up a judicial panel when investigations are still ongoing to unravel and arrest perpetrators of the henious crime?” he asked.
“So, who and who would appear before the panel? We sincerely hope this is not another opportunity for the witch hunt of perceived political enemies.
“We are aware that the government bought over 300 GSM handsets to some of its political informants to give information to it on anybody or group discussing or found to be speaking ill against government in all the 21 local governments.
“We advise that those informants be used to help track the movement of the herdsmen and not the peaceful Kogites.
” We hereby call for support for the displaced members of these communities. Public-spirited individuals, government and international agencies are urged to come to the aid of these people.”
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