Tuesday Update: Vaccine Arrival & Fuel Queues In Abuja

Good morning,

We are leading with the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine in Nigeria, the emergence of fuel queues in the nation’s capital, and how the Benue State government is managing herdsmen’s activities.


Airport workers transport on dollies a shipment of Covid-19 vaccines from the Covax global Covid-19 vaccination programme, at the Kotoka International Airport in Accra on February 24, 2021. (Photo by Nipah Dennis / AFP)

The Vaccines are here

All things being equal, almost four million doses of COVID-19 vaccines will arrive in Nigeria today. The vaccines, supplied by the WHO-backed COVAX, will include the AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson types, according to the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora.

But how will the vaccines be administered? The federal government, which launched a strategy (code-named ‘TEACH’) and an online registration portal on Monday, is planning to first inoculate frontline health workers and strategic leaders. Persons above the age of 50, especially those with pre-existing health conditions, will also be given priority.

Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari and other key leaders are expected to receive the vaccine jab in public.

NCDC: Nigeria on Monday recorded 360 new cases and eight deaths as a result of the virus, according to the disease control agency.

Oyewale Tomori: The virology professor has warned that Nigerians must be cautious of their attitude towards the pandemic or risk a third wave, which could be deadlier.


Vehicles queue for fuel in Abuja on March 1, 2021. Sodiq Adelakun/Channels TV

A Looming Fuel Scarcity?

Long queues of vehicles at petrol stations emerged in Abuja on Monday as fears grew over a rise in petrol prices.

On Sunday, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had denied reports of any increment in the price of petrol in March.

But some of the Abuja motorists who spoke to Channels Television on Monday said they spent as much as five hours to access the product.

Context: As the global prices of oil increase, marketers believe the landing cost of fuel will also increase. But the NNPC, a government agency, is the only exporter of petrol into the country, due to foreign exchange scarcity, and can still determine, through its subsidiary, the Pipelines and Product Marketing Company, how much the product should cost. Perhaps once the messaging from the NNPC that it doesn’t plan to increase the price of the product in March gets through to marketers, the queues will disappear. Still, if global crude prices continue to rise, Nigerians will eventually have to pay more for petrol.


A picture showing the released cows and officials at the formal handover of the 210 cows.

Benue Goes Tough On Herdsmen

Amid reports of food blockages from the North to the South, the Benue government has continued to implement its anti-grazing policy.

The government recently released 210 cows confiscated by the state livestock guards at Mbala, Makurdi, and Gbajimba in Guma Local Government Area of the state.

The cows were returned to the owners after various fines worth N5 million, in total, were paid.

Significance: Hostilities against herdsmen have grown in recent years, especially among farmers who say farmlands are being destroyed by cattle grazing without restrictions. Although the Benue law has been in existence since 2017, its application could encourage the growth of ranches, an idea supported by most State Governors.


What else is happening?

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala: The ex-World Bank chief officially assumed control of the World Trade Organisation on Monday.

Kaduna State: Bandits struck again for the umpteenth time in an attack on three villages which killed no fewer than ten people.

Femi Adesina: The Presidential spokesman said security will get better in Nigeria, but all citizens must take responsibility.

Hadi Sirika: The Minister of Aviation said the abduction of schoolgirls in Zamfara State will be the last of its kind under the Muhammadu Buhari administration.

Peter Obi: The former Anambra State Governor has called for the Federal Government to allow states to operate their regional security system.

Ondo State: The government has suspended the operations of the National Union of Road transport workers (NURTW) and the Road Transport Employers’ Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) in all the 18 local government areas of the state, with immediate effect.

Nicolas Sarkozy: The former French president was found guilty of corruption and handed a three-year prison sentence, in a ruling that deals a major blow to any lingering political ambitions.


And that’s it for today.

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Heavily-Armed Herdsmen Sighted Around Nasarawa Border, Says Benue Govt

A photo showing the map of Benue, a state in North-Central Nigeria.
An image showing the map of Benue, a state in North-Central Nigeria.

 

The Benue State Government says it has observed an influx of heavily-armed herdsmen at its border with Nasarawa state.

According to the state’s Deputy Governor, Mr Benson Abounu, an investigation into the herdsmen’s activities was prompted by an alarm raised by Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule.

Mr Sule last week had briefed President Muhamamdu Buhari about the activities of Boko Haram insurgents along his state’s borders with Benue.

READ ALSO: Sultan Meets Cattle Breeders Association Over Farmers-Herders Crisis

“We have continued to have challenges with a team of Boko Haram who were settled at the border with the FCT,” Sule said at the time. “We thank the security forces that were able to dislodge them. Now, they have gone back and gathered at our border with Benue and they are causing a lot of havoc.”

Apparently, Governor Sule’s comment raised the Benue State Government’s security alert.

“There was a declaration by the Governor of Nasarawa State when he visited the Presidency that there is a deployment of Boko Haram insurgents to the boundary between Benue and Nasarawa state,” Deputy-Governor Abounu told reporters.

“As a result of this, we in Benue State, using our security agencies, decided to swing into action to find out the truth or otherwise of that declaration.

“While we are still investigating, we have been able to ascertain the fact that there appears to be a massive deployment of herdsmen with their cattle on the brink of River Benue but on the Nasarawa State bank.

“And we also observed that a good number of these herdsmen are heavily armed; many of them with Ak-47 rifles.

“As if this was not enough, we have been able to apprehend a good number of them in a village called Kaseyo, Guma local government of Benue State.

“On the 23rd of January, 150 cows belonging to these herdsmen were apprehended.”

Catholic Priest, Six Others Die Of COVID-19 In Benue Within A Week

The Deputy Governor of Benue State, Benson Abounu gives a briefing at the Government House in Makurdi on January 18, 2021.

 

Seven persons, including a Catholic priest Father Kuluke, have died of COVID- 19 complications within one week in Benue State.

The Chairman of the State Action Committee on COVID-19 and Deputy Governor, Benson Abounu, disclosed this on Monday while swearing-in Justice Aleje as a judge of the Customary Court of Appeal at the Government House.

“In the last one week, we have recorded mortality here in Makurdi. Every day we recorded mortality, including this morning. A revered father passed on this morning,” he said, adding that the priest died on Monday at the Benue State University Teaching Hospital Makurdi.

“The other time, within five days, we lost four prominent Benue people. So this variant is not one that anybody should joke with. I always take my time these days to do a small briefing concerning COVID-19 each time I have an occasion like this.”

READ ALSO: Nigeria Records 15 More Deaths As COVID-19 Cases Increase

The deputy governor said Governor Samuel Ortom has gone into isolation after being in contact with two top aides who had tested positive for COVID-19.

He revealed that though the governor does not have symptoms of the virus, the move is necessary to prevent the further spread of the virus.

While warning residents to be weary off and apply extreme caution in their social behaviour, Abounu asked residents of the state not to engage in any form of celebration that could lead to the spread of the virus.

Benue Cholera Outbreak: 14 Confirmed Dead In Agatu, Abinse

A photo showing the map of Benue, a state in North-Central Nigeria.
An image showing the map of Benue, a state in North-Central Nigeria.

 

Fourteen persons have died from Cholera outbreak in Agatu Local Government Area and Abinse, a riverine community in Makurdi Local Government Area, Benue State.

This is as health workers race to contain the spread and halt fatalities from the outbreak.

The Commissioner for Health, Joseph Ngbea disclosed this on Friday while presenting additional drugs and consumables to the health officers at Agatu General Hospital to tackle the outbreak.

READ ALSO: Students At Lagos Medical School Asked To Go Home After COVID-19 Outbreak

Ngbea confirmed that 10 persons died in Agatu and four others died in Abinse.

“In Agatu, 10 people have died so far. On the day we went there, it was seven fatalities. Yesterday, we had an additional three. The update, yesterday was that neighbouring villages had a surge in cases. They were advised to move to the General Hospital.

“In Abinse, there were no beds and drugs and we had to involve specialists from the General Hospital. Four persons died in Abinse,” the health Commissioner explained.

He said further that over 30 persons were treated at both primary health care and private hospitals noting that most victims suffer severe dehydration.

He added that pediatricians have been deployed to help in fluid management while the medical doctor in charge of Agatu general hospital assures that, with the drugs, the battle to contain the spread is almost won.

Items distributed include water guard, ORS, Zinc among others.

Ngbea advised residents in the riverine areas to stop consuming contaminated water.

Kukah’s Christmas Message: Ortom Asks FG Not To Muzzle Nigerians

Photo combination of Bishop Matthew Kukah and Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom.

 

 

Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom asked the Federal Government not to muzzle patriotic Nigerians who raise genuine concerns over the worsening security situation in the country.

In a statement issued on Wednesday by his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, Governor Ortom described as unfair and repressive the Federal Government’s reaction to the message of the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Matthew Kukah.

Reacting to the government’s accusation that the cleric was stirring hatred against President Muhammadu Buhari and calling for a coup, Ortom asked the Federal Government to “address the worrisome security situation and other problems confronting the country.”

For the Benue governor, “Bishop Kukah is a selfless Nigerian who only seeks to unite the nation and speaks his mind frankly on national issues calling on the government to serve the people.”

“The renowned Bishop is not the first to call on the leadership of the country to strengthen security agencies and be proactive in combating the wave of violence and killings in parts of the country.

“Many other Nigerians have been making the same call on a daily basis. He was not the first to suggest that the President should be the father of all and not of only a section of the country or a particular ethnic group.”

READ ALSO: Armed Men Abduct Farm Owner In Ibadan

The governor advised that instead of politicizing the views of Bishop Kukah and castigating him, the Federal Government should take a second look at the things he raised in the Christmas Day message to avoid throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Governor Ortom noted that Nigeria is practicing democracy which guarantees the freedom of speech to all citizens and not a military regime that suppresses the right of the people to voice their opinions on challenges facing their country.

“The Bishop’s statement is a true reflection of the current situation in Nigeria and urges President Muhammadu Buhari not to listen to sycophants who may tell him that everything is well with the country. All is not well,” he added.

Ortom’s response comes five days after Bishop Kukah said President Buhari’s government owes Nigerians an explanation over the killings of innocent people in the country.

In his Christmas message titled, ‘A Nation in Search of Vindication,’ Bishop Kukah said Nigeria appeared to be heading for darkness under his administration.

Two Killed In Benue Violence

A photo showing the map of Benue, a state in North-Central Nigeria.
An image showing the map of Benue, a state in North-Central Nigeria.

 

Gunmen have killed two persons at the high-level area of Naka, the headquarters of Gwer West Local Government Area of Benue State.

The Police Public Relations Officer, Sewuese Anene, disclosed this in a statement issued on Sunday.

Anene said gunmen carried out the attack in the early hours of today, adding that two persons were arrested at the scene of the crime by police.

“On 27/12/2020 at about 1 am, a gunshot was heard in the High-Level area of Naka town and police officers were deployed to the area. Two persons were arrested at the scene of the crime while two young men were found in a pool of blood. Victims were rushed to hospital but confirmed dead,” the statement partly read.

Meanwhile, five persons were reportedly killed in Katsina-Ala Local Government Area of the state on Christmas Eve.

The victims included three policemen and two civilians.

Two Killed During Christmas Carnival In Benue

A photo showing the map of Benue, a state in North-Central Nigeria.
An image showing the map of Benue, a state in North-Central Nigeria.

 

No fewer than two persons were reported killed in Otukpo Local Government Area of Benue State on Christmas day after a policeman allegedly shot into the crowd during a music carnival.

Channels Television gathered that the music carnival was organised by a young millionaire at Ochacho Avenue in Otukpo where popular musician, David Adeleke, also known as Davido, was billed to perform.

Sources from the area confirmed that the unfortunate incident took place at the palatial residence of the young millionaire in Otukpo town.

The event was yet to commence around 11:00 pm when sounds of gunshots resonated within the premises, leaving people scampering for safety.

It was later gathered that the shots might have been fired by one of the policemen believed to be on duty.

“The gunshots triggered a stampede which caused all of us to run out of the venue for safety. In the process of running, I saw two persons in the pool of their blood; a male and a female,” the source said.

READ ALSO: Police Arrest Three Suspected Traffic Robbers In Lagos

“The sound of gunshots made me run towards the gate in fear as I did not know what was happening.

“Several other people also took to their heels; although it was not easy for most people to identify the location of their vehicles.

“Several onlookers stood aloof at the rail crossing and at You Road and Ibadan street in utter surprise.”

The Council Chairman of Otukpo Local Government, George Alli, who confirmed the report disclosed that a young lady and young man died in the incident.

Alli however said that the organizer of the music carnival flouted federal and state governments’ directive banning social gathering due to the second wave of COVID-19.

“Yes, is true there was an incident and two people died; a young lady and a young man died. Their corpses have been deposited in the hospital morgue,” he said.

“I have spoken to the Area Commander and the Division Police Officer and they are investigating the incident. The gathering in the first place is not proper because the federal government has directed that there should be no social gathering and it was followed by the State government. There should be compliance with the directives.”

Troops Kill Two Bandits In Benue, Recover Arms

New Salary Scale Has Not Been Approved For Armed Forces – DHQ
A file photo of soldiers.

 

Troops of the Operation Whirl Stroke have killed two bandits at Dyom Village in Borokiyo Council Ward of Ukum Local Government Area, Benue State.

The Coordinator of Defence Media Operations, Major General John Enenche confirmed this via a statement issued on Friday.

“Troops followed the bandits in hot pursuit and neutralized 2 of them, while some others escaped with gunshot wounds,” the statement partly read.

READ ALSO: Police Arrest 13 Suspected Armed Robbers, Others In Katsina

The defence spokesman said the troops recovered some arms and ammunition and a motorcycle during the operation.

He said the killing of the bandits in the area followed a distress call on the activities of the bandits, noting that the “troops swiftly mobilized to the scene where they had contact and engaged the criminals, forcing them to flee.”

Reacting to the operation, Military High Command has commended the troops for their efforts, asking them to remain committed in the discharge of their duties.

The command also called on the soldiers to “continue to maintain routine and confidence-building patrols in the zone.”

Ex-Education Minister, Agada, Benue Govt Mourns

File photo of Jerry Agada

 

A former Minister of Education, Professor Jerry Agada has died.

He passed away in the early hours of Tuesday at the Federal Medical Centre in Apir area of the state.

Until his death, Professor Agada was the Chairman, Benue State Civil Service Commission.

Meanwhile, the state government has mourned the former Minister.

Visiting the Makurdi residence of the ex-Minister, the Deputy Governor, Benson Abounu, expressed the condolence of Governor Samuel Ortom, the government and people of the state to the late Agada family.

He described Agada’s death as a colossal loss to the state and the entire country, adding that the professor was an institution.

While asking the family to bear the loss with calmness, the deputy-governor prayed for the repose of the deceased’s soul.

Responding, a family member, Aboyi Agada thanked the state government for identifying with them at their moment of grief.

Noting that the family is devastated, Aboyi said there is nothing any person could do as it was the act of God.

Suspected Herdsmen Attack Leaves Four Dead, Seven Injured In Makurdi

An attack by men believed to be herdsmen on Tse-Angbande in Makurdi Local Government Area of Benue State on Friday night left four people dead and seven others badly injured.

Governor Samuel Ortom who visited the scene of the attack on Saturday morning said the armed herdsmen in their usual pattern struck by 11 pm when the people were asleep, killing Timothy Emberga Akwa, Innocent Akwa, Terhemba Emberga Akwa, and an in-law identified as Orban.

The Governor condemned the attack, recalling that a few weeks ago, the herders came without cattle and killed a husband and wife at Tse-Tyohemba, in the same axis of Makurdi. In that incident, he said security agents trailed and apprehended three of the assailants.

He assured the people that security has been beefed up to ensure 24-hours vigilance in the affected area to prevent a recurrence of the ugly development and urged people of the affected communities to cooperate with security operatives.

The Governor while addressing the people at Adaka said enforcement of the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law of the state must continue no matter what armed herders do.

Ortom Defended Benue During Herdsmen Invasion – Wike

 

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, has lauded his Benue state counterpart, Governor Samuel Ortom, for standing firmly to defend his people against terrorist herdsmen and dismiss claims he was leaving the Peoples Democratic Party.

Governor Wike maintained that nothing depicts failure of governance than the inability of any government saddled with responsibility of protecting life and property to do so.

He stated this during the commissioning of some the road projects constructed by Governor Ortom in Makurdi and Guma Local Government Areas of Benue State on Tuesday.

Governor Wike, said he was not surprised that Governor Ortom was fulfilling his pledge to provide dividends of democracy like the 41 kilometer road linking Makurdi and Guma LGAs, to the people of Benue State despite efforts by terrorists plot to destabilise the State.

“We must fight against injustice in the country. Ortom is not one of those Governors who will shy away from standing for the truth. Ortom, stood firm when his people were being killed. The major cardinal of governance is protection of life and property. If you cannot protect life of your people and property, governance is zero.”

Governor Wike stated that because Ortom stood firm to speak against abandonment of his people by the federal government, he was bullied and intimidated by his former party, the All Progressives Congress.

The Rivers State governor used the occasion to dismiss insinuation that Ortom was on the verge of defecting from the Peoples Democratic Party to the APC.

“Today, in this country there is total insecurity and then people are telling you Ortom is moving. To where he nearly died? Who digs his grave? Does any man dig his grave? God brought him out of the wilderness. When he was longing, seeking for shelter and water to drink and God provided him a platform. And after he had suffered and brought his people back from the wilderness, then some people are coming to say he is coming backing. Coming back to where ?”
Governor Wike described Ortom as a man of character who had passed through difficulties in his political career in a bid to defend and protect his people, which is the essence of governance.

“I knew what happened, and you stood firm to show that this is the type of leadership we need in this country and that is why your people can come back today to start rebuilding where the terrorists came to destroy. My coming here to support you is not only because we are friends, but because I cannot stand injustice. Whether anybody likes it or not, I will continue in my life to fight injustice because nobody is a third class citizen of this county. All of us have equal rights in this country, so let nobody be deceived that there are people who are born to be first-class and there are people who were born to be third class.”

On his part, Governor Ortom explained at a very critical moment in Benue history, Governor Wike demonstrated friendship by speaking out against the neglect of the State and donated N200 million to support internally displaced persons.

“When we were attacked by terrorist herdsmen and militia groups coming to invade our land and to take over in the name of cattle rearing, and we saw it and stood up against it. Governor Wike was with us. He spoke out when others shied away from speaking the truth and speaking against the injustice that was being meted out against us. Governor Wike stood against the injustice.

“When eventually we have IDPS and were crying everyday, looking for food to give them, looking for shelter, looking for medication and other needs, Governor Wike stood up. He could have sent someone, but he came here, in Benue state, and donated the sum of N200 million. For him to spare N200 million to support IDPs in Benue state in distress, it a thing we will never forget.”

The governor said all those who share in the same aspiration of fighting against injustice; fighting for equity, transparency, and fairness must come together to save the country.

“Security is a challenge, the economy is a problem to every one of us and we are all affected. Politically, nothing is defined in such a way that we can sleep with our two eyes closed and trust each other. It is unfortunate that we have gotten ourselves to where we are. But, God will not come from heaven and turn around things. It is we, Nigerians that must find a way of solving the problems we have and that is why some of us will continue to say that there is need for a kind of dialogue.

“There is a need for Nigerians to sit together and look at where we are and see what can be done to correct the imbalance that we have today in our economy, in our security and Political. Something is wrong. There is no doubt about that and we must find a way of correcting that.”

Governor Ortom lauded Wike for coming to his rescue when he was in distress in the APC. He explained that the Rivers State governor stood by him and persuaded the stakeholders in Benue PDP to accommodate him.

“When I was in distress in my former political party, I did not what to do and I went to him he stood with me and rose up and spoke to the stakeholders to say look this young man must not be abandoned because he stood for his people. Wike came here himself with leaders of PDP, discussed with stakeholders of the party in Benue state and brought me into the PDP and today I am a governor.”

 

Troops Kill Three Suspected Herdsmen, Recover Arms In Benue

New Salary Scale Has Not Been Approved For Armed Forces – DHQ
A file photo of soldiers.

 

Three suspected herdsmen have been killed in Tsehombe-Adaka village, Benue State.

The Coordinator of Defence Media Operations, Major General John Enenche, confirmed this to Channels Television in a statement issued on Monday.

“Troops of Sector one, Operation WHIRL STROKE, yesterday, 6 December 2020 responded to a distress call from Local vigilante members reporting an ongoing attack by suspected armed herdsmen on Tsehombe-Adaka village,” the statement partly read.

“Troops immediately mobilized to the location leading to a shoot-out between troops and armed bandits.

“The gallant troops overwhelmed the bandits by superior firepower, following which troops successfully neutralised 3 of the armed bandits while others escaped with gunshot wounds.”

READ ALSO: Police Kill Two Suspected Kidnappers, Arrest Armed Robbers In Sokoto

Weapons recovered from the bandits include one AK 47 rifle loaded with one magazine containing 5 rounds of 7.62mm Special ammunition.

The defence spokesman said troops have continued to dominate the area with aggressive patrols to deter further attacks, adding that efforts were ongoing to neutralise other bandits that might still be hibernating in the area.

Enenche also called on members of the general public to continue to provide credible information to the troops operating within their localities.