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Herdsmen ambush policemen, kill 43 in Benue, Nasarawa

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…police officers missing

Soldiers kill four herdsmen

German contractor kidnapped, police escort murdered

 

Armed men believed to be herdsmen on Sunday night laid an ambush for policemen deployed in Logo Local Government Area of Benue State to restore peace. At the end of the bloody encounter, 11 policemen fell to the bullets of the herdsmen while others were missing. Also, the herdsmen murdered about 32 Tiv villagers at the weekend in different locations across the Southern Senatorial District of Nasarawa State. As such, no fewer than 43 people, including 11 policemen, were killed by herdsmen in Benue and Nasarawa states between Friday and yesterday. But for herdsmen have been killed in Benue by soldiers.

 

This came as gunmen yesterday killed a Police Sergeant attached to a German working with Dantata & Sawoe Construction Company in Kano State. The armed men also abducted the German, Mr. Michel Cremza. It was learnt that the slain officers in Benue State were moving from Anyibe to Ayilamo for their routine assignment when they ran into the ambush about 7p.m.

 

One of the policemen was killed on the spot while others were missing. Another policeman, who escaped the gunshots, according to locals, retreated to inform his colleagues, who swiftly went after the killers. It was learnt that some officers, who were dispatched to retrieve the body of the slain policeman, came under attack on their way back from the mortuary where they deposited the remains of their colleague. The gun battle that followed reportedly left 10 officers dead while several others were still missing.

 

The bodies of the 10 officers were discovered in the early hours of yesterday, according to residents and local government officials. At least two police trucks were also burnt by the attackers.

 

A resident of the local government area said more than 10 policemen were missing and called on the Federal Government “to declare the killers a terrorist group”.

 

No fewer than 15 police officers have so far been killed in Benue State alone this year by the herders in a series of attacks.

 

The incident wrapped weeks of deadly attacks which have left scores of people killed in the state, including about 67 people murdered in cold blood in neighbouring Ukum Local Government Area.

 

The Chairman of Logo Local Government, Mr. Richard Nyajo, said seven police officers were massacred during the attack on Tombo village which comprised Anyibe and Ayilamo during a shootout with the killer herdsmen. Nyajo said the attack led to an exodus of residents, including women and children, fleeing their homes with little luggage on their heads to areas considered to be safe. The state Police Command has confirmed the killing of four of its personnel by the insurgents.

 

The state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Moses Yamu, said in a statement that “the command regrets to report that its personnel came under attack of insurgents at Anyibe, Logo Local Government Area of the state between 1800hrs of Sunday night and early hours of today (yesterday)”. Yamu said the command had reinforced its operations including the Air Asset of the Police deployed by the Inspector General of Police in pursuit of the murderous gang.

 

The command expressed its readiness to apprehend the killers with their weapons of destruction and made to face the full wrath of the law. In Nasarawa State, the AK47-wielding herders attacked Tiv communities in Awe, Keana, Obi and Doma local government areas, killed 32, while 19 others were left with severe gun and machete cut injuries. As at the time of filing this report, over 10,000 Tiv villagers were said to have been trapped along the Agwatashi- Jangwa Road axis in Obi Local Government Area.

 

This came after the marauding herdsmen sacked over 200 villages, including Uvirkaa, the hometown of Mr. Gabriel Akaaka, a serving ing commissioner in Governor Tanko Al-Makura’s cabinet. It was learnt that about 15,000 fleeing Tiv villagers were stranded on the streets of Lafia, the state capital, apart from the over 100,000 of them who are taking refuge in different Internally Displaced ‘ (IDPs) camps at Agwatashi, Aloshi, Awe, Adudu, Obi, Keana, Doma, Agyaragu, among other locations considered to be safe.

 

A visit to the Dalhatu Araf Specialist Hospital (DASH), Lafia where eight victims were currently receiving treatment as a result of injuries sustained from the attacks, also revealed that five dead bodies were deposited at the hospital mortuary, out of which three were later released by the police for burial.

 

The President, Tiv Youth Organisation, Nasarawa State chapter, Comrade Peter Ahemba, who confirmed the killings to journalists in Lafia, said the entire Tiv villages in the southern part of the state had been sacked. According to him, most of the affected villages are  being occupied by the invaders. He said: “As I speak to you, seven bodies of our people killed this morning (yesterday) by the Fulani terrorists at Wurji village in Keana Local Government Area have just been recovered and brought to Keana town by the police.

 

“Also last night, five of our people were killed in the coordinated attacks with seven others still missing at Kertyo and Apurugh villages in Obi Local Government Area. “Three days ago, we recorded eight deaths from similar attacks in Kadarko area, four from Aloshi axis, one person from Agberagba, all in Keana Local Government Area. Six persons were also shot at Imon village and were rushed to Obi General Hospital, but one of them later died.

 

These are just a few out of many deaths we recorded within the last three days as a result of these senseless attacks.”

 

Ahemba, who alleged that the herdsmen were conveyed in trucks and brought into the state to carry out their inhuman act, averred that it was now clear that incessant attacks on the Tiv people were no longer protest against any enacted law, but a calculated attempt to exterminate the Tiv community of the state. He, therefore, restated his appeal to the Nasarawa State government to urgently stop the carnage.

 

Ahemba also called on the international community to intervene in order to save the state and country from the current bloodbath.

 

Meanwhile, the Kano State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), SP Musa Majiya, said the gunmen killed the sergeant and abducted Cremza about 7:45 a.m. yesterday on Sabon Titi Madobi Road, Kano metropolis. He said the armed gang of five men in a vehicle ambushed and opened fire on a vehicle conveying the staff of Dantata & Sawoe Construction Company, going to a construction site.

 

 

The attackers killed a police sergeant attached to the Special Protection Unit (SPU) on Escort Duty and abducted Cremza, a German working with the company.

 

Majiya said the state Police Commissioner, Rabiu Yusuf, had since deployed a powerful team of operatives and detectives to cordon the axis with a view to arresting the culprits and rescuing the victim.

 

He said: “Manhunt of the abductors is ongoing.” In a related development, soldiers yesterday killed four herdsmen at Yogbo community in Guma Local Government Area of Benue State. Local inhabitants in Benue State said that military identity cards were found on the bodies of the suspected herdsmen after the soldiers conducted search on them.

 

But a source from the area told our correspondent that the herdsmen had disguised themselves as soldiers on duty and in Mufti, but men of the Nigerian Army quickly identified and killed them.

 

Another source said the remains of the herders were taken to NASME (Nigeria Army School Of Military Engineering) Hospital, Makurdi. When contacted, the Assistant Director of Army Public Relations Officer, 707 Special Forces Battalion, Makurdi, Major Ayeni Olabisi, confirmed the incident. Olabisi said the troops of 707 Special Forces killed four herders in the area.

 

He added: “Yes, I want to inform you that our troops stationed in Yogbo axis of Guma Local Government Area killed four Fulani herdsmen but no military identity cards were found on them. I will still contact you to give you further information.”

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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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