Goods Worth Millions Of Naira Destroyed As Fire Guts Onitsha Market

Trailer Crushes Seven People To Death In Onitsha
A map of Anambra, a state in South-East Nigeria.

 

A fire outbreak that started around 2am on Monday razed two blocks of shops at the Kano Street section of the Main Market in Onitsha, Anambra State.

Although the cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained, the Anambra State Fire Service has since deployed its men to the scene.

According to the State Fire Chief, Martin Agbili, a distress call was put across to him around 2am concerning the fire outbreak and he immediately deployed his men to the area and they had been trying to quench the fire which continued to rage.

He said his men would ensure the inferno would be put out no matter how long it would take them adding that his men had gone to refill twice on an effort to put out the fire.

He decried the increasing rate of fire disaster within the state and called for caution.

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Reacting to the incident, the Anambra State Public Relations Officer, Tochukwu Ikenga confirmed that the situation was under control and that the no loss of life though goods worth millions of naira has been affected.

He disclosed that preliminary information showed that the cause of the fire was as a result of electrical upsurge from a cosmetics store in the storey building.

Ikenga said police monitoring personnel are still at the scene of the fire incident to ensure continued safety and security.

The police spokesman also used the opportunity to advise members of the public to always turn off their appliances before leaving their homes or offices.

2023: Soludo, Obi Embrace In Awka

Governor Charles Soludo embraces the LP presidential candidate, Peter Soludo at the St. Patrick’s Cathedral Awka, Anambra State on November 24, 2022.

 

In what may be seen a reconciliatory move, Anambra State Governor, Professor Charles Soludo, has embraced the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr Peter Obi.

The duo met in Awka on Thursday at the St. Patrick’s Cathedral during the Thanksgiving mass for Most Rev. Paulinus Ezeokafor, the Catholic bishop of Awka diocese, in celebration of his 70th birthday.

 

Obi governed Anambra State between 2006 to 2014 before clinching the LP’s presidential ticket on May 30 in Asaba, the Delta State capital.

Both men have exchanged words after Soludo attacked Obi, saying the former Anambra Governor knows he cannot win the 2023 presidential election.

READ ALSO: 2023: Peter Obi Knows That He Can’t And Won’t Win – Soludo

In a lengthy opinion piece on November 14, the former Central Bank of Nigeria Governor said Obi  was playing a game with his election bid, adding that his predecessor did not have the necessary structure in place to win the Presidency on the Labour Party platform.

 

“Let’s be clear: Peter Obi knows that he can’t and won’t win,” Soludo said. “He knows the game he is playing, and we know too; and he knows that we know.

“The game he is playing is the main reason he didn’t return to APGA. The brutal truth (and some will say, God forbid) is that there are two persons/parties seriously contesting for president: the rest is exciting drama!

“That many Americans may not like the fact that Joe Biden (79 years) and Donald Trump (76 years) are two frontrunners for president in their parties does not remove the fact that if both of them emerge as candidates, definitely one of them will be president in 2024,” Soludo said.

 

Soludo also berated Obi, saying his purported investment while he was the governor of the state was worth next to nothing.

However, the LP presidential candidate replied Soludo, saying the governor can do better for the state since he is now in office.

Obi who addressed participants at the Lagos Business School (LBS) 2022 alumni conference on November 15 said government is a continuum and that Soludo is a professor who can handle things better.

He said, “The one that they said is worthless is that we invested [$]3.5 billion in International Breweries. International Breweries is part of Ab Inbev, which is the biggest brewery in the whole world.

“We had a policy when I was governor that any company, foreign investor who wants to invest in Anambra state, we will buy 10 percent of the company, and under the condition, we started an agreement that they will give Anambra people work to the minimum of not less than 40 percent.

“They built a facility in Anambra state. That facility is there today employing, directly and indirectly, over 10,000 Anambrarians. They bring one of the highest revenue source for the state.”

Incompetent People Holding Several Positions In Govt – Peter Obi

Mr Peter Obi spoke in Makurdi on November 1, 2022.
File photo of Mr Peter Obi

 

The presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP) Peter Obi claims that unqualified persons are holding several government positions.

Obi said this on Saturday, noting that the development is creating problems for Nigeria in different forms.

“We are all aware of the problems and the issues confronting us. Bad leaders. Insecurity. Corruption. Mismanagement of the economy. Incompetent people holding positions at different levels of government. Abject poverty in the midst of plenty,” he tweeted on his handle.

“Ethno-religious crises. But all of these are mere symptoms. We see the manifestations, but the real problem is deep down. Every four years we attempt to treat the symptoms by electing the person who has convinced us that he is the solution to our woes. Then he disappoints us.”

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But Nigerians have a chance to change that as far as the former Anambra State governor is concerned.

“Let it not happen in 2023,” he added. “We must seize the moment.”

Kidnapped Anambra Transporter Dies One Week After Release

Trailer Crushes Seven People To Death In Onitsha
A map of Anambra, a state in south-east Nigeria.

 

A popular transporter in Anambra State, Innocent Ezeokafor, has died one week after being freed by his abductors.

The victim was the head of a popular transport company in Ekwulobia, Aguata Local Government Area of the state. He was kidnapped on October 19 and spent 18 days in captivity before being released last week.

A family source said the transporter died at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi.

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After securing his freedom from the gunmen, the victim’s health was said to have worsened. He was rushed to the teaching hospital where he died.

It is not clear if the family paid ransom to secure his release but the police authorities confirmed the victim’s death in a telephone interview on Monday.

Police Public Relations Officer, Tochukwu Ikenga, told Channels Television that the transporter’s death was natural as he died in the hospital after having been released from the kidnappers’ den a week ago.

Ikenga, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, however, faulted the victim’s family for not reporting the death to the police.

The situation, he stated, has made the police authorities not to do much regarding the issue.

When asked whether any ransom was paid to the kidnappers, the police spokesman said he wasn’t aware if any payment was made to secure the victim’s freedom.

Gunmen Attack Checkpoint In Soludo’s Hometown

A graphical illustration of gunmen.

 

Five suspected gunmen were killed following a battle with security agencies in Umuona, Isuofia in Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State.

Isuofia is the hometown of the Anambra State Governor Charles Soludo.  The gunmen had attacked a checkpoint in the area earlier on Saturday.

“The Anambra State Security Forces comprising of the Military, Police, and other security agencies neutralized five unknown gunmen in Umuona, Isuofia, Aguata LGA  Anambra State, recovered one grey Toyota Venza jeep with Reg. KRD 344 BT,” the Anambra Police Command spokesman, DSP Ikenga Tochukwu, said in a statement on Saturday.

“This followed a distress call at about 10:30 am today 12/11/2022 along Afor Market in Isuofia, where some hoodlums, attack a security checkpoint in the area. The Joint Forces from FOB Aguata responded swiftly, engaged the hoodlums in a gun duel, and neutralized five of the armed men while others escaped with dark blue Lexus 470 jeep without plate number from the scene with bullet wounds.”

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Following the success, the Commissioner of Police Echeng Echeng charged the officers to sustain the tempo against the onslaught of criminal elements

He also ordered patrols to be intensified just as he called for improved operational positioning to respond to distress calls in the State, the statement added.

“Further details shall be communicated please as operations are still ongoing,” the spokesman said.

Peter Obi’s Purported Investments Are Worth Next To Nothing, Says Soludo

Anambra State Governor, Charles Soludo on Thursday said the purported investments by his predecessor in office, Peter Obi are worth next to nothing.

Obi is the presidential candidate of the Labour Party. Before clinching the party’s ticket, he governed Anambra from 2006 to 2014.

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Speaking during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today, Soludo said he is not aware of any investment in the state by any of his predecessors.

“I think there was something I read about somebody speculating about whatever investment. With what I’ve seen today, the value of those investments is worth next to nothing. So, let’s leave that aside,” the governor said.

The governor also spoke on his administration’s plans for the people of Anambra State, noting that over 5,000 teachers in the state will get their employment letters in a few days.

He stated, “We are handing out employment letters to more than 5, 000 teachers to end an era of schools without teachers.

“We are going to have 240 plus doctors and consultants to man our general hospitals, so if you look at the five fingers approach of our programmes we designed our budget to keep our eyes on the ball.”

The governor’s remarks come after he presented the N258.97 billion 2023 budget to the House of Assembly chambers in Awka.

The budget christened, the budget of acceleration” recorded a raise from the N170 billion revised 2022 budget presented by Soludo in May.

During the presentation, he said that the 2023 budget embodied his administration’s “single-minded focus and determination to continue to press the accelerator pedals in spite of the risky bumps on the way”.

The budget has a capital expenditure of N164 billion, accounting for 63.2 percent, while recurrent expenditure at N95.5 billion accounts for 36.8 percent, representing a budget deficit of N13 billion.

According to the governor, about N91.8 billion, representing 56 percent of the total capital expenditure, was devoted to land transport, power generation, and urban reintegration.

Pay Your Taxes To Us, Soludo Urges Anambra Indigenes In Other States

Governor Chukwuma Soludo at the Anambra State House of Assembly on Thursday, November 10, 2022.

 

Governor Chukwuma Soludo of Anambra State has urged sons and daughters of the soil working in other states but with residences in Anambra to remit their taxes to the state government to enable the administration deliver better social services to the people.

“Wherever you live, Onye Anambra (Anambra people), pay your fair share. That is how it works everywhere,” Soludo said on Thursday when he presented the state’s 2023 Budget Estimates of about N260bn to the State House of Assembly in Awka, the state capital.

He lamented the poor tax payment culture in Nigeria, saying Anambra is perhaps one of the states in the country with very poor tax revenue.

“Anambra State is probably one of the worst in Nigeria with estimated income or GDP (Gross Domestic Product) or about N5.5tn, our projected Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) for 2023 is just a paltry N48bn.

“Anambra is probably one of states with least tax revenue in the world. For comparison, Lagos State projects to generate N1.1tn from IGR in 2023 coming to almost N100bn a month…Anambra’s IGR for 2023 will be barely 4.4% of Lagos State IGR,” he said.

The former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said now that oil money is on its way out, and Nigeria increasingly has little choice but to rely on taxes to provide services to its citizens, there is a need for people to understand that payment of tax is a civic duty.

“With our people scattered all over the world but with dual residences, the permanent home addresses in Anambra and expecting government to protect those assets at home and provide infrastructure to access them, what would be our civic duties to our homeland?” he asked.

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Soludo assured the indigenes of the state both resident and non-residents that every tax revenue entrusted to his administration will be fully accounted for.

The christened Budget of Acceleration has a capital budget of N164.2bn accounting for 63 2%, a recurrent expenditure of N95.5bn which accounts for 36.8% and a deficit of N13bn.

Four Feared Dead, 12 Injured In Anambra Market Explosion

A police officer is seen as fire officials battle the inferno at the Chemical Market in Onitsha Local Government Area of Anambra State on November 8, 2022.

 

Four persons have been feared dead following an explosion at the Chemical Market in Onitsha Local Government Area of Anambra State on Tuesday.

Twelve persons were also said to have sustained various degrees of injury, with goods and properties worth millions of naira destroyed during the inferno.

Channels Television gathered that after the explosion occurred at about 12:45 pm, a stampede ensued at the market as traders fled to safety.

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According to eyewitnesses, traders opened their shops for their daily business activities when a loud explosion, like a bomb blast, was heard. Thick smoke was said to be coming from many shops and pandemonium ensued as the chemical products are highly inflammable.

When contacted via the telephone, the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, DSP Toochukwu Ikenga, said the casualty figure was yet to be ascertained.

The police spokesman said there were reports that more people have been killed, but he has not been properly briefed on the incident.

However, the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of Operations, DCP John Ogbodoaga, has taken charge of the area and the fire service team was also on the ground.

Similarly, policemen from the Fegge Divisional Police Station led by Rabiu Garuba, were deployed to the market to guarantee the security of goods and other properties belonging to the traders.

See photos from the explosion below:

 

Buhari Mourns Anambra Boat Mishap Victims, Orders Rescue Agencies To Site

A file photo of President Muhammadu Buhari

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed sadness over the Anambra boat mishap, condoling with the families of the victims and also directing more rescue relief agencies to “rush to the site of the accident”. 

In a statement by his media aide Garba Shehu, the Nigerian leader noted the efforts of the Nigerian Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) who “have embarked on rescue and recovery missions expeditiously”.

“As more details are awaited, the President has directed all other rescue and relief agencies to rush to the site of the accident.

“He also directed the relevant agencies of government to check the safety protocols on these transport ferries to make sure such incidents are avoided in the future,” the statement read.

“I pray for the repose of the souls of the deceased and for everyone’s safety, as well as the well-being of the family members of the victims of this tragic accident,” the President was quoted as saying.

The incident happened when a boat reportedly carrying 85 persons capsized following rising floods in the Ogbaru area of the state. Emergency agencies confirmed a death toll of 76.

READ ALSO: Major Rice Farm Hit By Flood In Nasarawa

A Call For Intervention

In the same vein, a former Anambra State governor Willie Obiano has condoled the families of the victims and “expressed his condolences to Anambra State Governor, Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo” over the incident.

‘’I sympathise with the Government and families of the victims of the accident. This incident has added to the ugly situation following the huge deadly flooding that has displaced people from their homelands, washing away houses and farmlands,” Tony Nezianya, Publicist Obiano, quoted his principal as saying.

“The flooding has also wreaked havoc in Anambra East and West, Ayamelum as well as Ogbaru areas of the state.

“I have been informed that many have died as a result of displacements by the raging floodwaters, as well as farmlands, that have been washed away. I urge the Government to take steps to tackle the emergency head-on.

“I call on the Federal Government to offer leadership at this point to mitigate the disaster by ensuring the speedy release of ecological funds in supporting the state in tackling the emergency. Diligent intervention by all stakeholders will no doubt reduce the burden imposed by this disaster, while deliberate efforts must begin in the implementation of a permanent solution to the disaster.

“It is climate change that has now combined to worsen this yearly disaster. I share the grief of the victims of the emergency, who should endeavour to follow the Government’s wise counsel to evacuate to safety until the floodwaters recede.

“May we remember in our prayers all those that have so far died as a result of the flooding ravaging our state over the past couple of weeks.’’

Missing INEC Staff Found Dead In Anambra

A photo combination of INEC staff, Duruocha Joel, and the commission’s logo.

 

A staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Duruocha Joel, has been found dead in Anambra State.

INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, disclosed this in a statement on Friday.

He said Duruocha’s body was dumped by unknown persons and found on Thursday along the Isu-Aniocha-Urum Road in Awka North Local Government Area.

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Prior to the recovery of his body, the late INEC staff was declared missing by the commission. Duruocha was a Principal Executive Officer II on Grade Level 10.

According to Okoye, INEC’s Administrative Secretary in Anambra State, Okwuonu Jude, reported on Wednesday about the disappearance of Joel.

“On Wednesday, 28th September 2022, the Commission’s Administrative Secretary in Anambra State, Mr. Okwuonu Jude, reported the disappearance of a staff, Mr Duruocha Osita Joel, a Principal Executive Officer II on Grade Level 10,” the statement read.

“On Thursday, 29th September, the Administrative Secretary further informed the Commission that Mr Duruocha Joel’s dead body was found along Isu-Aniocha-Urum road in the Awka North Local Government Area of Anambra State, where unknown persons dumped him.

“Other staff members of the Commission, Duruocha’s brother and the Police have evacuated the body and deposited same in the morgue. The Police and other security agencies have commenced an investigation to determine the circumstances that led to Duruocha’s disappearance and eventual death.”

Ihedioha Clarifies ‘Saboteur’ Comment On Obi Supporters, Tenders Apology

A former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives Emeka Ihedioha has clarified a comment wherein he reportedly called supporters of Labour Party (LP)’s Peter Obi saboteurs. He also apologised for the development. 

The comment he made at a new yam festival by an Igbo community in Accra, Ghana where he allegedly claimed Obi’s supporters are saboteurs had attracted criticism.

But speaking on Friday, the former Imo State governor said he is friends with the Anambra-born politician and as such could not have made the remark.

“That cannot be me. It is far from the truth and not in my character. I believe even in dissent from within my immediate nuclear family,” Ihedioha said on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily.

“My position was very simple. I was speaking to our people – I am an Mbaise man – and the PDP has been faithful to us and has given us support; the opportunity to produce a governor in our state. I said to them, we have an opportunity and I called that they should not sabotage our efforts to reclaim power. That was it and the context.”

READ ALSO: Peace Accord With Jonathan Contributed To Peaceful Election In 2015 – Buhari

‘Blown Out Of Proportion’ 

Ihedioha on obi
A photo combination of Peter Obi and Emeka Ihedioha.

 

He faulted those criticising his comment, saying they do not understand the context in which the remark was made.

“If you do watch the tape, you will find the context,” Ihedioha added. “It is certainly blown out of proportion.”

The PDP chieftain, however, apologised to those who may have been hurt by his statement, maintaining that he respects people’s choices, especially in politics.

“So, to all those – millions of Nigerians particularly of southeast extraction – who are hurt by my use of language, I am deeply sorry about it,” he said.

“I do not mean to hurt anybody and they have a right to express their political opinions in any way, form, or shape. I have lots of my friends who belong to other political parties and we still relate.”

Attacks: All Gunmen Caught In Anambra Are Igbo, Says Soludo

A file photo of Anambra State Governor, Professor Charles Soludo.

 

Anambra State Governor, Professor Charles Soludo on Sunday revealed the identity of gunmen terrorising parts of the state, saying all of those caught are Igbos.

Gunmen have recently unleashed terror in the South-East targeting residents, security operatives, and public infrastructure.

Most of the attacks have been linked to members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and its militant wing, the Eastern Security Network (ESN).

READ ALSO: Gunmen Lack Capacity To Launch Attacks As Usual In Anambra, Says Soludo

Reacting to the attacks during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics, Soludo said the present administration in Anambra has successfully brought the security threats in the state to the lowest level.

“Let me be clear about it; 100% of the people we have caught are Igbos. It is not about some people invading from somewhere; it is 100% Igbos on Igbos, that is the fact,” the governor said.

“The first set of people we caught were 100 per cent Igbos from other south-east states and none from Anambra.

“But as we went on, we then discovered that a whole lot of the youths who have been taken to these bushes that got indoctrinated and initiated into all these kinds of things also happen to be citizens of Anambra state or indigenes of Anambra.”

Before Professor Soludo took over the leadership mantle in the state, residents of Anambra have been living in fear as hardly would a week pass by without the report of an attack.

He told Channels Television on Sunday that the security situation has greatly improved, and attributed the feat to the efforts of the security forces.

“Giving where things were when we came, we are not saying that Anambra is 100% secured … but everybody in Anambra – the 8.5 million residents of Anambra can testify to you that insecurity in Anambra has come down to the barest minimum.

“Fifteen camps (run by gunmen) here (have been) decimated. Even yesterday (Saturday), some other places (where) they were gathering were decimated; we have degraded their infrastructure and I don’t think they have the capacity again to come with the kind of ferocity they had in the past,” he added.