RECAP: Week Of Drama As Dapchi Girls Return, Melaye Tackles Police, Bill Gates Surprises
March 18 – 24 In Review
The highpoints of the week are the return of the abducted Dapchi schoolgirls after 30 days and the allegations of conspiracy and unlawful possession of prohibited firearms against Senator Dino Melaye.
Herdsmen Attacks Terrorist Acts?
The week began on Sunday with a directive from President Muhammadu Buhari to the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), ordering the deployment of its personnel to secondary schools in the North East. The directive was part of measures by the Federal Government to strengthen the security for students in the region following the abduction of the Dapchi school girls. The President also cancelled his trip to Rwanda, where he was expected to attend the Extraordinary Summit of the African Union scheduled for March 21, 2018. A statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs revealed that certain key stakeholders in the country were concerned about the provisions of the treaty.
On more reactions to the incessant killings in Nigeria, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) asked the UN Security Council and its members to declare herdsmen attacks as acts of terrorism. SERAP also urged the international body to urgently hold a special session on Nigeria and to visit the country to press the authorities to end the killings and destruction of property of citizens, particularly in the north-central region. In Bauchi states, soldiers attached to Operation Lafiya Dole killed four suspected members of a militia group during a patrol at Burra Junction in Ningi Local Government Area of the state. The armed men were said to have opened fire on the troops who responded immediately, killing four of them in the process. In another development, troops on Exercise Cat Race arrested 12 herdsmen for their alleged involvement in the destruction of farmlands in Benue State.
Police vs Melaye
On Monday, a Federal High Court in Abuja adjourned the trial of Maryam Sanda till April 19, to enable the prosecution to call its first witness. The defence counsel Mr Joseph Daudu had on behalf of Mrs Sanda made an application for the charges to be dismissed on the grounds that it was incompetent, null and void. In the meantime, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) fixed April 3 and 4 for the first Monetary Policy Committee meeting in the year. The apex bank fixed the date following the concession made by the Senate to screen and confirm the nominees appointed by the President to fill the posts of CBN deputy governors and members of the committee.
In Katsina State, Governor, Aminu Masari revealed plans by his administration to facilitate the release of about 116 inmates presently held in the state’s prison. The governor made the disclosure when he received a delegation from the Presidential Committee for Prison Reform and Decongestion. On legal matters, the absence of the prosecuting witness stalled proceedings in the trial of a former governor of Oyo State, Mr Rashidi Ladoja, who is being prosecuted for an alleged fraud of N4.7bn. Counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Olabisi Oluwafemi, told Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court in Lagos that he was unable to bring his next witness to court.
Later in the day, the senator representing Kogi West, Dino Melaye, was hit with allegations of sponsoring and arming political thugs in his state. The Police levelled the allegations against Melaye following the arrest of two suspects who confessed to the various criminal roles they played in committing several kidnappings and armed robbery in different towns of the state.
Fresh Attack In Kogi
Residents of Kogi State were thrown into mourning on Tuesday after 10 people, including a traditional ruler, were killed by suspected herdsmen in Omala Local Government Area of the state. The assailants reportedly raided four villages during the attack which spanned two days – Sunday night till Monday afternoon. The villages affected are Agbenema, Aj’Ichekpa, Opada, and Iyad. Elsewhere, human rights group Amnesty International accused the military of failing to prevent the abduction of the Dapchi schoolgirls in Yobe State despite being warned. The group alleged that the security forces failed to act on advance warnings that a convoy of Boko Haram fighters was heading to Dapchi town. In a swift response to the allegation, the Defence Headquarters denied the claims by Amnesty International. The military described the claims as “outright falsehood and a calculated attempt to whip up sentiments and mislead unsuspecting Nigerians”.
In Abuja, former Vice President Namadi Sambo met with President Buhari at the Presidential Villa. Mr Sambo, however, left the State House quietly and refused to brief reporters about what he discussed with the President. In the North East, NSCDC officials recovered food items and books donated to malnourished children but stolen by some persons in Borno State. Borno NSCDC Commandant, Ibrahim Abdullahi, told reporters that the items were retrieved from the unauthorised persons while trying to transport them to the eastern region of the country.
For the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), John Oyegun, President Buhari’s administration has defied its challenges to deliver on its election promises to the people. Oyegun believes the fight against corruption has been won to the extent that it can no longer be a threat to the national economy. Meanwhile, Mr Ladoja’s trial continued in Lagos where the EFCC called a former director in the Oyo State Civil Service, Mr Yinka Fatoki, to testify in a case of alleged fraud to the tune of N4.7bn involving the former governor. Ladoja is being prosecuted alongside a former Commissioner for Finance in the state, Waheed Akanbi.
Dapchi Schoolgirls Return
March 21, 2018, is a day Nigerians and the APC government will not forget so soon; the day the abducted Dapchi schoolgirls regained freedom from the captivity of Boko Haram terrorists. The Federal Government confirmed the release of 104 students abducted by the insurgents on February 19 in Yobe State. Unfortunately, five of the girls lost their lives as a result of the trauma they went through while one of them was not released. Lauding the girls’ release, the APC was optimistic that the Federal Government would also secure the release of the remaining Chibok girls abducted by Boko Haram terrorists in 2014. The party said this in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Bolaji Abdullahi. On its part, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) accused the Federal Government and the ruling party of ‘scripting’ the abduction of the Dapchi schoolgirls, in the bid to seek re-election in 2019. The party further called on the United Nations and the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the incident.
In Adamawa State, troops arrested a wanted Boko Haram suspect, Bubayi Isa, and three other in Kalaa village in the state. A statement by the Director of Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Texas Chukwu, revealed that the arrest was made following a tip-off. The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) said it was set to arraign a former governor of Kebbi State, Saidu Dakingari, for allegedly misappropriating N664.3 million belonging to the state. ICPC noted that it would arraign the former governor at the High Court of Kebbi State in Birnin Kebbi. Meanwhile, the National Assembly has concluded plans to pass the 2018 budget on Tuesday, April 24. Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, disclosed this during Wednesday’s plenary at the lower chamber in Abuja.
FG’s ERGP Evaluated
President Buhari visited Zamfara State on Thursday where he directed security agencies to stop the killings and criminality in the country, as well as improve their strategies on intelligence gathering, surveillance, and accuracy in deployments. During the visit, the President held an interactive meeting with political leaders, traditional rulers, elders, and victims of criminal attacks in the state. The Federal Government took a swipe at the opposition party over the PDP’s reaction to the release of the Dapchi schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram terrorists. The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, noted that the claims by the PDP have shown that the party has yet to learn from the mistakes of the past. Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State, however, accused the Federal Government of complicity in the abduction of the Dapchi girls. He described the disappearance and reappearance of the girls as “a laughable arrangement” for which some people are already smiling to the banks.
Far from the abduction saga, the Senate on confirmed the nomination of Aisha Ahmad and Edward Adamu for appointment as CBN deputy governors. The lawmakers also confirmed the nomination of Professor Adeola Adenikinju, Dr Aliyu Sanusi, and Dr Robert Asogwa, for appointment as members of the MPC, while they rejected the nomination of one other member of the committee. Also in Abuja, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo addressed a meeting of an expanded National Economic Council on Investment in Human Capital. Professor Osinbajo said that investing in people is a primary aspect of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) of the present administration. Also speaking at the event, philanthropist and Founder of Microsoft Corporation Bill Gates faulted part of the government’s ERGP. Gates, who is also the co-chairman of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said the implementation of the plan was at odds with the needs of Nigerians.
Elsewhere, the PDP accused the APC of interfering with the trial of its former National Publicity Secretary, Mr Olisa Metuh. Mr Metuh is standing trial for alleged money laundering being part of the funds linked with former National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd). An Abuja High Court also adjourned Dasuki’s trial till May 2 and 3, 2018, in further compliance with the Supreme Court order. A judge of the court, Justice Hussein Yusuf, announced the new trial dates after being presented with the apex court judgment of March 2, 2018, which ordered an accelerated hearing of the case.
Buhari Hosts Dapchi Schoolgirls
President Buhari received 104 Dapchi girls and two other students released by Boko Haram terrorists at the Presidential Villa. Addressing the freed captives on Friday, he asked them to pursue their dreams without fear. The President, however, warned all Nigerians that his administration would not condone any attempt to politicise security issues. He also revealed plans by the Federal Government to offer amnesty to terrorists that are willing to drop their arms. Following the releases of the girls, the Defence spokesperson, Brigadier General John Agim, said the military does not have enough capacity to maintain a huge security presence in all schools to prevent terrorist invasion or abduction of students. Brigadier General Agim noted that it is difficult to deploy troops to schools due to the huge land mass, especially in the North East which is volatile to attacks. He also accused Amnesty International of having the intention to ‘harm’ Nigerians. The Defence spokesperson said although the organisation might have credibility in other countries, he noted that it lacks credibility in Nigeria.
In an exclusive interview with Channels Television, the founder of Complete Care and Aid Foundation, Mrs Aisha Wakil, popularly known as ‘Mama Boko Haram’, revealed her efforts towards securing the release of the Dapchi girls. Meanwhile, the Federal High Court in Abuja acquitted Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, a serving justice of the Supreme Court, of the corruption charges against him. Justice John Tsoho, in his ruling, dismissed all the 13 counts of money laundering and passport fraud instituted by the Federal Government against the judge. Justice Ngwuta was one of the judges whose houses were raided by operatives of the Department of State Services in October 2016.
Another killing was recorded in Plateau state following the death of three persons in Tah community of Dong in Jos North Local Government Area of the state. The attack was said to have occurred on Thursday night while four men were on patrol to secure the community. Ahead of the 2018 Russia FIFA World Cup, the Super Eagles beat Poland in an international friendly played in Wroclaw, Poland. Chelsea winger Victor Moses scored the only goal via penalty in the 62nd minute after he was brought down by a Polish defender.
Buhari’s Administration Evaluated
On Saturday, socio-political organisations and key stakeholders from the northern part of Nigeria scored the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari low and, consequently, rejected him as their candidate for the 2019 general elections. The leaders who met on Saturday in Kaduna insisted that the present leadership representing the region has failed in its mandate and, therefore, must be replaced by competent persons. Elsewhere in the region, the Nigerian Military reopened the Maiduguri-Bama-Banki Road, about four years after it was captured by Boko Haram terrorists. Borno State Deputy Governor, Mr Usman Durkwa, who cut the tape to reopen the road, said the development has proven the success in the collective fight against insurgency in the North East.
Meanwhile, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) announced the resumption of operations in Rann in Borno. The agency announced the decision in a statement on Friday, about four weeks after it withdrew humanitarian operations in the town following the death of three aid workers. In Jalingo, A former Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Theophilus Danjuma (rtd), accused the military of complicity in the killings in Taraba, Benue, and other “riverine states” in the country. General Danjuma also accused the military of covering those behind the attacks which claimed scores of lives in 2018. The Nigerian Army, however, faulted Danjuma’s claims, saying it has been living up to its constitutional responsibility of defending the territorial integrity of the nation.
Following the allegations of criminal offences of conspiracy and unlawful possession of prohibited firearms, the police threatened to declare Senator Melaye wanted, should he fail to appear at the Kogi State Police Command on March 28. The Force Public Relations Officer, Jimoh Moshood, said an invitation and a court summon had been issued to the lawmaker, both of which he had reportedly ignored. Senator Melaye, in his response, stood his ground to appear before the police only in Abuja, saying his safety cannot be guaranteed in Kogi State.