No Ransom Paid To Secure Release Of Zamfara Schoolgirls, Says Governor Matawalle

 

Zamfara State Governor, Bello Matawalle says no ransom was paid to secure the release of the over 300 abducted students of the Government Secondary School in the Jangebe area of the state.

He stated this on Wednesday during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today.

“There is nothing in exchange for the release; we use those (bandits) that are repented. When we use them, they engage them and I said they should ask them why they did that?” he asked.

“Some of these guys did not accept our peace accord, they are many. Some of them even refused to show their faces to the government. But those that have a good intention of repenting and coming back to society, they are working with the security agencies  to make sure that the state is safe.”

READ ALSO: Gunmen Storm Secondary School In Zamfara, Kidnap Scores Of Female Students

When asked how he felt about the release of the schoolgirls, the governor said he was extremely happy with the release of the students.

He explained that his administration received the students after engaging the bandits, noting that he lost sleep within the period.

Zamfara State Governor, Bello Matawalle speaks during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today on March 3, 2021.

 

“I am very happy with the situation; I can’t measure how happy I was at that moment. On that very day, I did not sleep because they left Gusau around 11 am in the morning to the area where the children were kept.

“They did not come back to the state capital till after 4 am in the morning which we were all waiting for them in the Government House,” he added.

Ex-Bandits Tired Of Criminal Activities

The governor noted that most of the former bandits were tired of indulging in criminal activities, recalling that upon his assumption into office, his administration had a stakeholders meeting to provide social amenities to them.

One of such, he noted, was to create shelter for them where they would be engaged in cattle rearing in one confined place, rather than moving about.

“These Fulani, most of them are tired of doing that business. They are tired of it. Sometimes, it is because of their request.

“I have a concept which I am doing in the state called RUGA which will make some settlement for all of them with their grazing reserves, water canal, markets, mosques, schools and hospitals.

“They are very happy with that initiative that they can be in one place. The aim of doing that is to maintain them in one place,” he stated.

The governor’s remarks come a week after gunmen stormed the Jangebe School and abducted the schoolgirls in their scores.

The school which is located within the Talata-Mafara local government area of the state came under siege at past midnight on February 26.

However, the students regained their freedom on March 2 after spending about four days in captivity.

Matawalle Reveals Involvement Of Watchman In Zamfara Schoolgirls’ Kidnap

A group of girls previously kidnapped from their boarding school in Jangebe arrive on March 2, 2021 at the Government House in Gusau, Zamfara State upon their release.  AFP

 

The watchman of Government Secondary School in Jangebe, Zamfara State was involved in the abduction of the schoolgirls on February 26.

This is according to the state governor, Bello Matawalle, who revealed this on Wednesday during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today.

Although the governor did not reveal the identities of other personalities behind the abduction of the schoolgirls, the governor said information at his disposal indicated that the school’s security guard aided the bandits in whisking the students away.

“The watchman of the school,” the governor said in reaction to who was involved in the abduction of the over 200 schoolgirls in Jangebe.

“The children have mentioned that after releasing them, the bandits were telling them to greet the watchman for them. They even mentioned his name that he is the one who gave them the go-ahead to come, that he was involved.

“They have said it in front of the Commissioner of Police in Zamfara State. I assure Nigerians that investigation will be carried out and all people involved will be known,” he added.

Speaking further, the governor said that he is ready to resign if that will end insecurity in the state.

He also reacted to President Muhammadu Buhari’s declaration of Zamfara State as a ‘no-fly zone’, noting, “I am ready to accept any solution that will bring security to my state.”

“I am not intimidated. If I know that my resigning as a governor will make the people sleep with their two eyes closed, I can resign. I am ready to do what will bring security. I am not power-hungry. I have been having sleepless nights to protect the people of Zamfara State.”

According to Matawalle, he had no issue with the no-fly-zone declared by the Federal Government.

The Zamfara State governor clarified that the Security Council should have invited him before making some decisions.

WTT Tournament: Aruna Advances, Battles Geraldo In Second Round

File photo of Quadri Aruna

 

Nigeria’s Quadri Aruna has defeated Indian national champion Sathiyan Gnanasekaran 3-0 (11-7, 11-4, 11-8) to book a place in the second round of the men’s singles at the first official  World Table Tennis (WTT) Tournament taking place in Doha.

Aruna, who is Africa’s only surviving player at the tournament, dismissed the newly-crowned Indian national champion in a manner that confirmed his quality as he dominated the match from the start to the end.

The Indian superstar who had boasted of his readiness to send the Nigerian packing in the first round was stunned by Aruna’s performance.

An elated Aruna described the win as awesome. “I am happy because everything seems to work well for me in the match. I had taken my time to study his game and everything I picked worked well for me in the encounter. I am looking forward to the next match and I hope to approach every match with all seriousness,” Aruna said after the match.

With this win, Aruna will now face a familiar face in Portugal’s Joao Geraldo who had a walk-over over Slovakia’s Yang Wang who was disqualified for breaking COVID-19 protocol put in place by the organisers.

In the women’s singles, it was not a good outing for six-time African women champion, Dina Meshref of Egypt as she was beaten by Korea Republic’s Hyowon Suh 3-1 (12-10, 8-11, 11-5, 11-5). Meshref and Omar Assar are still in the race in the mixed doubles event of the championship.

The $200,000 prize money WTT Star Contender events will take place over six days and WTT Contender events will deliver four days of action, with each event featuring men’s and women’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles and mixed doubles competitions.

Bala Mohammed Calls For An End Of Insurgency In North-East

Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed has asked the Federal Government to end the ravaging insurgency in the north-east region.

He made this call on Wednesday during a fourth meeting of the North-East Governors’ Forum in Bauchi State.

“The recent escalation in the activities of terrorists despite the exploits and sacrifices by members of our gallant armed forces is thus worrisome and challenging,” he said.

“The mindless massacre of 100 farmers in the Zambari village of Borno State, the spate of attacks and kidnappings in various states of the zone, particularly Taraba State all points to the need to rejig the security architecture deployed to counter the criminals.

“While the sanctity of human lives is universally acknowledged, as you have seen, terrorism, insurgency, banditry, etc are an ill-wind that blows nobody any good. Insecurity is like a virus, more often than not, it does not recognise ethnic, religious, gender, age, or other diversities,” he said.

READ ALSO: Alleged Money Laundering: Court Strikes Out Charge Against Jumoke Akinjide, Two Others

He also called for the resettlement of the displaced persons in the Internally Displaced People’s (IDP) camp, noting that the move is necessary to ameliorate their pains and restore hope to them that has been shattered.

File photo of Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed

 

The governor wants the Nigerian government to revamp agricultural activities that have been greatly affected by the insurgency in the north-east to avoid famine in the region.

To Governor Mohammed, regardless of the security challenges in the region, governors of the zone have the “political will to not only restore hope but the future of our traumatised children and generations unborn.”

The Bauchi governor also reiterated a call made by his Kaduna State counterpart, Nasir El-Rufai, and other Nigerians for the creation of state police to tackle the myriad of security challenges in the country.

Speaking further, Mohammed said leaders have failed to tackle insecurity, adding that many Nigerians have resorted to self-help.

Alleged Money Laundering: Court Strikes Out Charge Against Jumoke Akinjide, Two Others

A file photo of a signpost of the Federal High Court in the Ikoyi area of Lagos State.

 

The Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos has struck out the charge against a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Jumoke Akinjide and 2 others on allegations of fraud and money laundering to the tune of N650m.

Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke struck out the charge for being incompetent.

The former minister was standing trial alongside a former Senator who represented Oyo Central Senatorial District between 2011 and 2015, Senator Ayo Adeseun and a PDP Chieftain, Mrs Olanrewaju Otiti.

They were alleged to have received monies from a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, in the build-up to the 2015 general elections.

The money was said to be part of the $115 million allegedly disbursed by Alison-Madueke, to influence the outcome of the 2015 presidential election

They had all pleaded not guilty to the charge after which trial commenced in the matter.

The defendants chalk Ed the trial and asked that the case be struck out. They also insisted that they could only be tried in the division where the offences allegedly took place.

In his ruling on the application, Justice Aneke held that pursuant to Section 45 of the Federal High Court Act, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court has the overriding powers to transfer any matter from one judge to another, within the jurisdiction of the court.

The judge also held that the charge was vague and defective as it did not specifically mention where the offences were allegedly committed.

The defendants were first arraigned on Jan. 16, 2018, before Muslim Hassan on a 24-count charge to which they pleaded not guilty.

They were granted bail and trial began before Justice Hassan with witnesses testifying, but midway into the case, the defendants alleged bias against the judge and the case was then transferred to Justice Aneke.

One of the counts reads, “That you, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke (still at large), Oloye Jumoke Akinjide, Senator Ayo Ademola Adeseun and Chief Olanrewaju Otiti, on or about the 26th day of March, 2015, in Nigeria, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, conspired amongst yourselves to directly take possession of a N650,000,000, which sum you reasonably ought to have known formed part of  proceeds of an unlawful act and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3) and 4 of the same Act.”

Gunmen Abduct Another Foreigner In Ekiti

Chief Imam’s Son, Two Others Kidnapped In Ogun Community
File photo of a gunman wearing bullets

 

Gunmen have kidnapped another foreigner along Igbemo Ekiti in Irepodun/Ifelodun Local Government Area of Ekiti State.

The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Sunday Abutu, confirmed the kidnap to Channels Television, noting that the incident took place on Tuesday.

The police spokesman asked residents not to get tensed as security operatives, noting that efforts were ongoing to the rescue of the victim and the arrest of culprits.

The latest abduction comes three months after a similar incident in Ekiti State.

In November last year, an expatriate handling a road construction was abducted and released after two weeks.

Meanwhile, the Ekiti State Police Command has banned unauthorised use of covered number plates, blaring of siren and use of revolving lights by unapproved persons.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the Commissioner of Police in the state, Tunde Mobayo, described the illegal privileges as a threat to the security of the state.

“Undoubtedly, this in recent time, has pulled a great threat to the security of the State as some criminal elements hide under these guises to carry out their criminal intentions.

“To this end, the Ekiti State Commissioner of Police, CP Tunde Mobayo in compliance with the directive of the Inspector-General of Police, IGP Adamu Mohammed, has warned against the unauthorized/illegal use of siren, revolving light, covered plate numbers and the use of unregistered spy plate numbers,” he said.

Taraba ASUU Declares Indefinite Strike

Strike: Students Ask Taraba Govt Address Issues Raised By Lecturers

 

The Taraba State University chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has declared a total, comprehensive and indefinite strike action to press home their demands.

According to ASUU Chairman, Samuel Shitaa, the union’s demands include the non-availability of the pension scheme, earned academic allowances, perimeter fencing among several others in the institution.

The declaration of the strike is coming a few days after the state government paid off the four months’ salary arrears owed academic staff of the institution.

“The outstanding salaries are not the issues in contention, because we are agitating for our rights. One of our issues on the ground is that of the pension scheme, which the institution has no arrangement to that effect,” he said.

“On the issue of earned academic allowances, it has not been attended to since 2013. We mentioned the issue of perimeter fence and they said they have started, but from what we have since no significant progress made so far.

“I want you all to understand that the strike that has been declared is not only the branch that is in control of the strike, this is because the procedure has been followed with the national ASUU stepping in to interact and see progress in terms of commitment, but it has failed,” he added.

But the Vice-Chancellor of Taraba State University, Vincent Ado-Tenebe, disagreed with the ASUU’s chairman, claiming the union’s demands have been met.

Ado-Tenebe expressed shock over their strike action despite a series of meetings with the union to find a lasting solution to their demands.

“What they are supposed to say correctly should have been that what they are having is not enough and I can tell you that anywhere in the world, there is no educational institution that will tell that they have 100 per cent of the funding that they require,” he said.

“Having a strike all the time is not the best way to solve our problems. We have funding to a percentage, even though it is not 100%, but to say that the government is insensitive and not doing anything is totally wrong.

“What they are talking about is the contributory insurance scheme, which is a new law in the country and as I speak to you, I will like to remind you that no ministry, department, parastatal or agency in Taraba has started that scheme yet.

“Staff of the university have been demanding that they want to start the pension scheme, I got an approval for commencement, yet none of them could open a pension account or get pension administrators for management to utilize, how then can we make the payment without any account to pay into?” he added.

Nasarawa Communities Fight Bandits, Says Governor Sule

Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule

 

 

Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule, has said that communities in the state fight bandits who terrorise the people.

He stated this during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today.

“In Nasarawa, what we do is that the moment we see the bandits coming in, we alert our people. These people are coming to your side and the information is there.  The communities rise up to the occasion and also the communities fight them,” he said.

Governor Sule blamed the banditry activities in Zamfara State on illegal mining being carried out in the state, adding that those stoking problems in the north-western were interested in illegal mining.

“I think that is the right decision to make. One of the problems we have been facing in Zamfara State and some of these places where mining activities are going on.

“Those who are actually igniting these problems in Zamfara State are those who are interested in mining the gold that is there,” he said.

The governor also commended President Muhammadu Buhari for declaring a no-fly zone in Zamfara as part of the measures to tackle the increasing insecurity in the state.

READ ALSO: Buhari Declares Zamfara ‘No-Fly Zone’, Bans Mining Activities

While noting that the declaring of the presidential order is long overdue, he said the government had to take time to carefully understand the Zamfara situation before coming up with decisive action.

“I think the government wanted to take a lot of time and understand what is going on there before they imposed a no-fly zone. I think the no-fly zone is even overdue, so imposing it today is fantastic, excellent.

“It will bring out more of those people who are hiding under whatever guise and taking care of this mining. It is a lot of illegal mining and not about the economy of the state,” he added.

To the Nasarawa Governor, the presidential ban on mining activities would effectively address the insecurity in the state, adding that the order wouldn’t affect the economy of Zamfara State.

On the granting of amnesty to bandits, the governor explained that he, alongside his other northern colleagues, would not give in to the dictates of those he described as militants.

Although he said that the recent release of the abducted Zamfara schoolgirls was made possible via negotiation, the governor explained that his administration would approach insecurity using both kinetic and non-kinetic strategy.

His remarks come few hours after President He made the disclosure to State House correspondents after a five-hour National Security Council meeting presided over by the President at the Presidential Villa in the nation’s capital.

Again, Bandits Abduct Over 50 Passengers In Niger

Niger is a state in the Middle Belt region of Nigeria and the largest state in the country.
Niger is a state in the Middle Belt region of Nigeria and the largest state in the country.

 

Less than three weeks after 40 NSTA passengers were kidnapped, gunmen have again abducted over 50 passengers along the Tegina-Minna road in the Rafi Local Government of Niger State.

Speaking on Tuesday in Minna, the state capital a local resident told journalists that the gunmen blocked the road at Kundu town, a few kilometres from Zungeru town.

According to reports, the passengers were in the three vehicles who were abducted and taken to an unknown destination while the vehicles were left by the roadside.

READ ALSO: Buhari Declares Zamfara ‘No-Fly Zone’, Bans Mining Activities

Similarly, armed bandits kidnapped unknown numbers of villagers at Gidigori town in Rafi Local Government Area burning five cars and carting away valuables.

Confirming the incident, senior government officials who craved anonymity said nothing has been heard from the bandits to enable the authorities to know the identities of those kidnapped.

When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer, ASP, Wasiu Abiodun, did not pick his calls to confirm the incident at the time of filing in the story.

AK-47 Comments: Ortom, Mohammed Reconcile, Embrace Each Other

Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom embraces his Bauchi counterpart, Bala Mohammed following their reconciliation on March 2, 2021 in Rivers State.

 

Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed and his Benue State counterpart, Samuel Ortom have settled their differences over comments made on AK-47  amid the security situation in the country.

Mohammed had on February 12 said Fulani herders have no option but to carry AK-47 for self-defence because they are being attacked and killed by cattle rustlers.

He also condemned South West, South-East Governors, and also Governor Ortom over the manner in which they are handling farmer-herder clashes.

Governor Ortom had on February 22 responded to his Bauchi counterpart, accusing him of being a terrorist based on his utterances supporting herdsmen from carrying AK-47 to defend themselves.

Ortom also accused Mohammed of being a part of those threatening his life stressing that the Bauchi governor should be held responsible if anything happens to him.

READ ALSO: Six People Killed In Fresh Kaduna Village Attacks

Following the altercation between the two governors, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) under whose platform they were elected into office, waded into their conflict.

Also, Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike and his Adamawa counterpart, Ahmadu Fintiri, initiated reconciliation efforts.

The efforts seemed to have paid off on Tuesday with governors Ortom and Mohammed embracing each other in Rivers State.

After a closed-door meeting at Wike’s private residence in Port Harcourt, the governors insisted that their arguments over a comment made by the Bauchi governor on the bearing of arms by herders were for the good of the country, not to cause an ethnic crisis.

See phots below:

ACF Asks Matawalle To Reveal Identities Of Those Behind Kidnappings

Zamfara State Governor, Bello Matawalle, during a state broadcast on May 4, 2020.

 

The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has asked Zamfara State Governor, Bello Matawalle to reveal the identities of those behind the recent kidnappings in the state.

Matawalle had on Sunday told the 17 Emirs in the state who paid him a sympathy visit over the abduction of the Government Girls’ Secondary School in Jangebe that Nigerians would be shocked to know people behind the abduction of the girls.

Reacting to the governor’s remark via a statement issued on Tuesday, ACF Chairman, Audu Ogbeh, described Matawalle ‘s allegation as an embarrassment to the north and warned against such unguarded statement by those in authority.

Ogbeh said the Forum is not taking the Governor’s statement lightly and asked him to name the kidnappers and their sponsors.

“The Arewa Consultative Forum ACF is stunned by a statement accredited to the Zamfara Governor, Bello Matawalle. We ask the governor to reveal their identity and let Nigerians be shocked or even the heavens fall,” the group said.

“The ACF has been embarrassed by the spate of kidnappings especially of school children spreading like wild fire all over the north.

“People in positions of authority that will help us out of this mess like Governor Matawalle must stop embarrassing the north and  country with careless statements on a serious issue like the kidnappings of school children.

“Zamfara State and the north are way behind the rest of the country in educational development. The serial kidnappings of school pupils in the north will only worsen a bad and unacceptable state of education in the North.”

Gunmen had on February 26 stormed the government secondary school in Jangebe and abducted over 300 female students in their dormitories.

How Boko Haram ‘Attempted’ To Infiltrate Dikwa Town – Army

 

The Nigerian Army on Tuesday explained how Boko Haram terrorists attempted to attack Dikwa town in the Dikwa Local Government Area of Borno State.

According to a statement issued by the Director of Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Mohammed Yerima, the terrorists stormed the town in an unconfirmed number of gun trucks and motorcycles.

The army spokesman said the military was able to repeal the attack with “heavy bombardment and overwhelming firepower  by troops of 81 Task Force Battalion with reinforcement from other formations of the Nigerian Army and aided by air support of Air Task Force Operation LAFIYA DOLE.”

The terrorists, Yerima said, had “attempted to invade the town to loot food items and other logistics having got wind of the recent food distribution to residents of the town by the state governor, Professor Babagana Zulum.”

They were said to have come through the Marte axis, adding that they could not gain access to the town due to the combat readiness of troops who were positioned there.

“The terrorists subsequently lost initiative as they were cut off completely following the recent successful recapture of Marte town by the gallant troops.

“In desperation and to scare off residents from returning to their homes, they planted series of landmines on the roads which were also detected and successfully detonated by troops,” he added.

The army spokesman decried some media reports suggesting that the terrorists attacked a United Nations base in the north-eastern state.

While noting that such reports were aimed at stirring up tension in the country, he said 25 aid workers were not trapped.

He also explained that the Chief of Army Staff, Major General Ibrahim Attahiru, has commended the efforts of the gallant troops’ and the prompt response of the Air Task Force in providing air interdictions throughout the operation.