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GUNMEN IN ARMY UNIFORMS KILL 26 IN BENUE

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Gunmen in the army uniforms yesterday went berserk, killing 26 people, following an attack on Jandeikyura, a border settlement between Taraba and Benue states. The incident occurred in the wee hours of Friday in Tiv dominated villages, bringing the total number of people murdered in the area to 67. This is coming as kidnappers on Thursday night killed two policemen and abducted two newlyweds as well as 19 others in Birnin Gwari area of Kaduna State. The Benue border community had earlier been attacked on Thursday where 41 people were killed. The villages attacked were Akaanya, Kpete and Tse- Orliam.

The ‘soldiers’, whom Saturday Telegraph gathered were from Taraba, made incursion into the area, allegedly in search of two of their colleagues, reportedly killed by the rampaging Fulani herdsmen. Governor Samuel Ortom had confirmed the killing of an officer of the Nigerian Army by the herders and abandoned in his pool of blood.

The deceased officer, who was among the soldiers deployed in the state for peacekeeping operations, was killed at River Tyulen crossing point in Guma Local Government Area of Benue State. Sources from Ukum Local Government told Saturday Telegraph that the suspected soldiers, who were in large numbers, came in search of their missing colleagues but as they could not find the corpses resorted to indiscriminate shootings during which no fewer than 26 persons were felled. Speaking with Saturday Telegraph, an indigene of the area, who pleaded anonymity, said:

“The said soldiers came from neighbouring Taraba State in a military warfare manner and discovered that some of their people who were killed by Fulani herdsmen were still missing. “Instead of concentrating their attack in Taraba where they were supposed to station, they decided to invade Benue villages to launch the attack which led to the killing of 26 people”. “As I speak with you, there is serious tension in the local government as thousands of people including women, children and old people are fleeing the area in droves and leaving their food items cultivated at the mercy of the invaders”. Another source who identified himself simply as John Alaghga, alleged that the soldiers also killed a market chief and also set ablaze church buildings at NKST Church Akaanya. Mr. Alaghga hinted that after the attack, the arsonists proceeded to Tse-Orliam and Kpete River where many refuges had run to hide and opened fire on them.

“I have been sojourning in the area for decades now but I can tell you that what I saw those people do was terrible. They were killing people like chickens and the entire area had been deserted,” he said. Acting governor of the state, Engr. Benson Abounu told journalists that the government had evolved proactive measures to stem the killings.Abounu denied knowledge of the attack and killings of innocent citizens of the state, saying he had not contacted the local government chairman to brief him on the attack and killings. “What I have experienced from the ‘Cat Race’ had been that measures taken by the security forces had been reactionary. You hear that there was one attack or another here and there and reports were made and security forces move in, stabilise the situation and they get back and then you hear of another one.

That’s how it has been going on, and it has been all reactionary.” But today we held a security meeting and we decided that the best approach should be proactive; we should forestall rather than repel a situation that had already gone bad. “It is incumbent on the security forces to block all entry points where these attackers come from so that we can be able to forestall any attack that might take place”.

The deputy governor also confirmed the killing of two people at the Agboughul community within Makurdi territory by suspected herdsmen on Thursday morning. He said as a result of the attack, security network in the state had been reviewed and expressed satisfaction with the cooperation given the government by security chiefs which he said would go a long way in bringing the situation under control.

Taraba death toll rises as women protest ‘complicity’

Meanwhile, following the recovery of additional seven more bodies, the death toll in Wednesday’s attack on a Taraba village has risen to 32 as against the initial figure of 25, earlier recorded on Thursday. This is coming as hundreds of women in Takum Local Government Area of the state yesterday staged a peaceful protest within Takum township while calling for an end to the killings as well as “army’s harassment and complicity”. A resident of the village, Hon. Orbee Uchiv, who spoke with Saturday Telegraph confirmed the figure in a telephone interview while informing that the bodies had since been buried by the community.

Uchiv, who noted that the community had been deserted following the attacks, however said there is a deployment of security personnel in the area. While informing that some of those injured are receiving treatment at the Wukari General Hospital and other private hospitals in the area, he said:

“We con-ducted mass burial for the dead ones in four different graves, dug by youths”. He lamented that people in the affected villages are in need of food and other relief materials as the attackers had burnt down all their belongings, including food items. The latest incidents are coming less than 24 hours after the Nigerian Army inaugurated a probe panel to investigate a statement credited to General TY Danjuma (ret’d), in which he alleged that the armed forces were colluding with some bandits to kill people in Taraba and other parts of the country.

The protesting women who matched through major streets of Takum carrying placards with various inscriptions such as ‘stop harassing our people’, ‘we are tired of intimidation’, ‘we want to sleep with eyes closed’, among oth-ers, blocked the gate of 93 Battalion, Ada Barracks, demanding to see the Commanding Officer, Lt. Col. Ibrahim Gambari.

The leader of the protesters, Mrs. Esther Yakubu, told journalists that they were not happy with the situation and the lack of seriousness on the part of the Federal Government to end the killings. She lamented that some army personnel, particularly those of Exercise Ayem Akpatuma, had been busy harassing people in the town while armed Fulani militia kill at will.

“Last night, the army arrested our youths and we don’t know their whereabouts. We learnt they are with them in the barracks and that is why we are here to seek for their release. “Those killing us are in the bush, we want them to go and disarm them to enable us to go back to farm because rain is here. Most of our people are peasant farmers and they depend on farming to make a living, but today the Fulani militia has taken over our land and nobody dares go to the farm. “We are now at the mercy of the armed Fulani militia who have continue with their killing spree and destruction unabated,” she lamented. Yakubu who said they were told that the Commanding Officer was not in his office noted that they would continue to keep vigil as long as it takes the military authorities to attend to their demands.

The Commanding Officer, 93 Battalion, Ada Barracks, Lt. Col. Ibrahim Gambari, did not return calls or reply a text message sent to him as at the timie of filing this report. However, Assistant Director of Publicity, Army Exercise Ayem Akpatuma, Major Adegoke, told journalists that he was still gathering facts about the protest and would response as soon as the facts were available but he never did at the time of filing this report.

Defend yourselves, Takum LG boss tells residents

Frustrated by the unabated killings in his domain, the Chairman of Takum Local Government Area of Taraba State, Shiban Tikari, yesterday called on his people to defend themselves with “sticks and stones in the face of unprovoked attacks” by the killer herdsmen. Speaking with journalists, Tikari said the presence of the Exercise Ayem AKpatuma (Cat Race) in the state has given rise to increased attacks and killings in his local government. “These killings have continued unabated and instead of stopping the killings, soldiers are busy harassing innocent people and supervising the influx of herdsmen into my local government.

“Two people were arrested in Takum around 2:00am by the army without any reason, when Fulani militia were killing people in the villages. “As the Chief Security Officer of the local government, the army did not inform me when they escorted herdsmen to Kashimbilla on Tuesday when the IGP was commissioning a mobile police base in Takum. “It’s unfortunate, because some of these herdsmen are the ones attacking my people.

So, any Fulani herdsman in Takum is on his own. We don’t have AK-47 rifles, but we have our traditional sticks and stones. So, I have told my people to stand their ground and defend themselves with sticks and stones. “In the story of David and Goliath in the Bible, it was just an ordinary stone that David killed the giant Goliath with, so we will use stones and sticks to defend ourselves, “he said. His counterpart in Ussa council, Rimansikwe Karma, also lamented the influx of herdsmen in his domain after the commencement of Exercise Cat Race, adding that the coming of the herdsmen heightened security threat in the local government. He added that since he lodged complaint against the soldiers, the Nigerian Army has not done anything to convince the people it was neutral in the security situation.

Karma also said his people are armed with evidence to confront the committee set up by the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai to probe allegations by Danjuma that the Army colluded with bandits to kill people in the state. Sources in Kaduna said the Birnin-Gwari incident had sent fears round the area as Birnin-Gwari is the same local government area where 11 soldiers were killed few weeks ago, and several persons have been killed or abducted. A first class traditional ruler in the area, the Emir of Birnin-Gwari Jibrin Mai- Gwari II, recently called on his people to defend themselves, saying government had forgotten that they are still part of Nigeria.

An eyewitness said those abducted in the recent attack included Chairman, Nigeria Union of Road and Transport Workers (NURTW) in Birnin Gwari, Audu Kano and six of his executive members. Also kidnapped were two brides among several others in Unguwar Laya village, about six kilometres from the local government headquarters. Our correspondent gathered that the brides were abducted on Wednesday night. Kaduna State Commissioner of Police, Austin Iwar, confirmed the incident to newsmen

Again 2 policemen killed, 2 brides 19 others kidnapped

Following the continuous attacks, a group under the aegis of Birnin Gwari Vanguards for Security and Good Governance comprising Birnin-Gwari indigenes at home and abroad has called on the state and Federal Government to beef up security in the area. Leader of the group who gave his name simply as Hassan said: “Every day and night our people keep vigil with their eyes widely open to defend themselves bravely without any weapon, even bows and arrows.

“We the people of Birnin- Gwari have been abandoned and our population is shrinking day by day. People are relocating to safe zones because of attacks from bandits virtually every minute. “Alas! We are not certain of bumper harvest this year because many peasant and commercial farmers had relocated. Many villages and towns are disappearing.

“In fact, even Nagwamatse of Kontagora that annexed Birnin-Gwari territory 100 years ago, didn’t destroyed our land and territory compare to what armed bandits are doing. “The security situation in Birnin-Gwari had further deteriorated, two brides abducted at Unguwar laya, just six kilometers from Birnin-Gwari on Wednesday, 11th April 2018. Again on Thursday 12th April 2018, around 4.30pm, six NURTW members and their chairman, returning from Funtua were kidnapped together with 12 others.

“The NURTW members includes Audu Kano, Sufyanu Doka, Hamisu Anaruwa and four others. A Police inspector known as Danzuru was shot and presently at ABUTH Sheka, two other policemenwere killed today by the bandits. “Two days ago, 15 newly recruited teachers on their way to Dogon Dawa were robbed and almost abducted. As at this moment Birnin-Gwari-Kaduna Road is a nightmare for the past two weeks especially Palwaya, Kuriga-Manini axis. “Birnin-Gwari has been abandoned and people were left at the mercy of armed bandits. Can someone whisper our cry to Mallam Nasir Ahmed El- Rufai and the top security echelon?”He lamented

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Lead Stories

Gunmen kill 22 farmers in Ortom’s town

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•Govt confirms recovery of 10 corpses •Over 80 houses burnt, residents flee

As Benue State Governor, Dr. Samuel Ortom, continues with his annual leave in China, gunmen clad in Nigerian Army uniforms believed to be armed Fulani herdsmen yesterday, invaded some communities in Guma, home of the governor and killed 22 people.

The armed herdsmen, who made an incursion into the local government Friday at about 12: 30 am, opened attack on the people which continued till the early hours of yesterday, leaving women, children and old people dead.

The attackers also set ablaze more than 80 houses, forcing hordes of people to scamper for their lives, running into the bushes for safety. The attacked communities are: Anzughul, Tse-Abi, Tse-Ginde, Tse-Peviv, Tse-Ikyo, Agenke and Gbenke all in Guma Local Government Area.
Sources from the local government told Sunday Telegraph in confidence that the invaders were backed up by people suspected to be men of the Nigerian Army and also in their uniforms.

Yesterday’s attack came barely two days after the invaders launched a gruesome attack on Agasha, a community near the governor’s village where six people were murdered and many others displaced.

Last Thursday, armed men suspected to be soldiers invaded the phase two communities in Naka, the headquarters of Gwer West Local Government Area of Benue State and burnt down over 300 houses in an operation that lasted for more than two hours, during which a 65-year old sick and immobile man who could not be carried by his people was burnt in one of the buildings destroyed by the gunmen.

The suspected soldiers, who accepted responsibility over the attack, linked it with the killing of one of their colleagues by unknown persons within the community.

Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Terver Akase, confirmed the attack on the governor’s village in Saghev Ward of the local government, adding that many innocent persons were killed in the attack.

Akase, who said six villages were sacked, disclosed specifically that 10 corpses had so far been recovered with many others injured as at press time.

“The armed herdsmen also burnt numerous houses, shops and other property in the area. This mindless attack was unprovoked, and we urge security agencies to arrest the herdsmen behind the killings for prosecution,” he added.

When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer, Moses Yamu, said he was still gathering information and as soon as they were ready, he would divulge them to the media.

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Obasanjo destroyed political party system in Nigeria –Odinkalu

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Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, has been accused of deliberately destroying the political party system in Nigeria during his tenure in a desperate bid to perpetuate himself in power.

 

Erstwhile Chairman, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, who made the accusation in an exclusive chat with Sunday Telegraph, said the heavy blow Obasanjo dealt on the party system is largely responsible for the weakness of the political parties today.

 

According to Odinkalu, the former President, who was elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), perfected a system of poaching the other political parties in order to cripple these parties. Obasanjo, he said, did not also spare his own party, as he also enthroned the garrison command structure circumstances, which destroyed internal democracy in the party.

 

“There is one thing Obasanjo did among many. He destroyed the party system in Nigeria and the reason we are where we are is because Obasanjo took hold of the party system and destroyed it between 2003 and 2006 in his bid to become a life president through the Third Term Agenda.

 

“In his first term as President, Obasanjo cannibalized talents in the other parties and that was how Bola Ige came into government from the Alliance for Democracy (AD) and Alhaji Waziri joined from the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP). He poached these people without going through the party structure and this meant that a crisis of confidence began to brew within those parties. This crisis of confidence was never resolved. Chief Bola Ige got assassinated while trying to go back to the AD and then you had this orgy of assassinations in the run up to the Third Term aspiration, which obviously did not succeed.

 

“At some point, he got into this arrangement with APGA by which the elections in 2003 held under an Electoral Act whose constitutionality has been questioned by the Court of Appeal.

 

“Obasanjo got into this arrangement with APGA by which the Supreme Court Appeal by APGA and Odumegwu Ojukwu was suborned and that subordination ultimately led to the splattering of APGA. By the time he was finished with the parties, ANPP was dead, APGA was splintered and in trouble and the AD was gone because he had chased all the governors out of their seats in the South-West.

 

“At the end of the day, the PDP was the only party left and he then began his re-registration and de-registration which he used to dislodge anybody he did not want; took over the party and installed retired generals to be in charge of the party structure and PDP was gone.

 

“So the reason why we are where we are today is Obasanjo and it is unfortunate that in the twilight of his life, he is now beginning to talk about things that he destroyed when he had the opportunity to build a credible political system,” he said.

 

Odinkalu expressed disappointment at what he described as Obasanjo’s “arrogant, omniscience attitude” towards political issues in Nigeria and said he ought to take a break and allow people with fresh ideas to lead political discourse.

 

Alluding to Obasanjo’s recent negative verdict that neither the PDP nor the APC is good enough to take Nigeria to its Promised land, Odinkalu said the former leader has expressed his own opinion but the final decision must be reserved for the Nigerian electorate.
Read full interview on pages 22 and 27

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Foreign investors: You are bad marketers, Emir Sanusi slams FG

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As Nigeria officials arrive confab late FG to release ERGP focus labs result

The Emir of Kano, Alhaji Muhammadu Sanusi II, yesterday, took a swipe at the Federal Government whose officials arrived late at an investment summit organised by the government in the US capital, Washington D.C.

 

Sanusi registered his displeasure in an interview with journalists at the US-Nigeria Investment Summit 2018 in Washington DC, titled: “Nigeria is Open for Business.”

 

Foreign investors had already converged on the venue (Nigerian Embassy) by 9.am when the conference was billed to commence but it did not start until an hour later (10.am). The public address system also failed to work.

The furious Emir said that starting the programme late was a sign of unseriousness.

 

“We have a meeting today with investors. We were supposed to start at 9am, but we started at 10am,” he said.

 

“When I came in, they took me to the Ambassador’s office to sit down, while investors were waiting down there. We had a list of people who were to be there – the Vice President, ministers and some of them are in town. But they haven’t come up.

 

“You invite top investors, your ministers are in Washington and they do not come to talk to the investors about Nigeria. That is not how you attract investors.”

He said if such a forum were to be held in the Rwandan Embassy, its President, Paul Kagame, himself would be there, telling people to come and invest in his country.

“Sometimes, it is about how we market ourselves, how we package ourselves. There is absolutely no reason for the Nigerian embassy to arrange a ‘Nigeria is Open for Business,’ forum with ministers in town, with governors in town and not have the coordination that they are actually here to meet with these investors,” he said.

 

“There is no reason why we should start one hour late, and there is no reason why the public address system should not work.
“At the end of the day, this is the first point of the country. He (the investor) hasn’t even come to Nigeria. So, what will be his experience in Abuja and he is saying if I am having this experience in Washington, what will happen when I go to Abuja, when I go to Kano?

“How do I get to see the governor? Will it take me 10 hours? And for these people, who are in Washington, they have investors to meet, they have Heads of States to meet, they have the World Bank to meet. So, one hour is a lot of time for them to be sitting down waiting for you.

“I think we need to just look at those kinds of things that investors look at and have a very honest conversation – sector by sector, region by region, state by state and what we need to do to make those areas attractive.”

Speaking on the economy, he said: “If you look at all the things being done by Dangote Refinery, they would reduce our import, particularly petroleum imports and conserve our foreign exchange.”

The Emir noted that countries such as Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, Rwanda, and Ethiopia, had taken steps to make their environment attractive to investors.

He said: “We have to realise that the problems we have from herdsmen/farmer clashes, to security situation, actually have their roots in not focusing on the productivity of agriculture.

“The second is the power sector. Many people here today do not know that Nigeria today can produce 12,000 megawatts of electricity. We need to improve on how to evacuate and distribute.”

Meanwhile, the Federal Government said steps are being taken to realise the objectives of Nigeria’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).

Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, said this yesterday in an interview with journalists at the World Bank/International Monetary Fund (IMF) Spring meetings in Washington D.C. He said the results of FG’s focus labs would be released in the next two weeks.

 

 

The ERGP focus labs are one of the initiatives undertaken to ensure the full and effective implementation of the ERGP.
It involved stakeholders from the public and private sectors working together in a single environment to think out practical and workable solutions for delivering results that would propel the ERGP implementation.

Noting that the response had been very good, the minister said currently, the focus labs are being conducted in agriculture, transportation, power and gas, manufacturing and processing.

“We are looking forward to organising an open day in which we will share the results with the Nigerian public. That should be in the next one or two weeks and I am very encouraged by it,” he said.

“We just need to accelerate the ERGP a bit on some of our measures. We have a lot of measures in the ERGP and we need to accelerate on them.” He said the government was targeting growth rate of seven per cent for the economy by 2020.

 

“As you know, the focus of the ERGP is to generate more revenue. As you are aware, we have the tax amnesty to try to increase tax revenues. We are looking at some of our excise duties and so the focus is to generate more revenues,” Udoma said.

“Our problem is not a debt problem, our problem is a revenue problem and so we are focused on generating much more revenues,” he added.

 

Besides, he said the Federal Government’s delegation met with some investors that expressed interest in the country’s agriculture and transportation sectors.

 

Commenting on the delayed passage of the 2018 budget, Udoma said: “The signals we are getting from the National Assembly is that they are now working hard to get this budget out in the next few weeks. That is very positive signals and we are encouraged.”

Also speaking to journalists, the Director General, Budget Office of the Federation, Mr. Ben Akabueze, said the MDAs have submitted what was required to ensure the passage of the budget.

Asked about efforts by the government to reduce its high level of recurrent expenditure in the annual budget, he said: “When you look at the high non-debt recurrent component of the budget – 70 per cent of that is personnel cost. Therefore, the only realistic way you can drastically reduce recurrent expenditure now is to cut personnel.

“At this time, that is not an option that the government is looking at. Therefore, the focus now is on containing other aspects of recurrent expenditure and shoring up revenue.

“It is in our collective interest to get the budget passed on time so that we can get on with it.”

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