Major Military Operations Begin In Benue, Nasarawa And Plateau

Troops of 7 Division Nigerian Army advancing for the operation
Troops of 7 Division Nigerian Army advancing for an operation

The Nigerian Army, on Sunday, commenced a major operation to put an end to the activities of all armed men and criminal gangs who have been engaging in wanton killing and destruction of lives and property in 3 states of North Central part of Nigeria.

According to a statement by the Director Defence Information, Major-General Chris Olukolade, troops have already been deployed for a major offensive which is covering Benue, Nassarawa and Plateau States.

The Internal Security Operations is meant to capture and neutralize all the enclaves of criminal gangs.

The Nigerian Air Force, Police and other security agencies are also participating in the operation designed to restore peace in the affected states.

Law abiding citizens are enjoined to cooperate by providing timely and useful information to facilitate the operation as it affects their localities.

NEC Calls For Seperation Of Excess Crude Accounts, Stop Incessant Conflicts

Godswill AkpabioThe National Economic Council has called for the separation of the excess crude accounts from the Sure-P account for easy accountability. This was one of the decisions taken at the first meeting of the council in the New Year in the presidential villa.

Briefing state house correspondents after the meeting, Akwa Ibom state governor Godswill Akpabio said that council was worried at the litigation following the excess crude accounts that action be expedited to enable the account to be put into proper use.

The decision of council follows a briefing by the Minister of Finance and the coordinating Minister for the Economy, Ngozi Okonjo Iweala stating that the excess crude account now stands at 3.5 billion dollars after the removal of the Sure-P money.

Also the council set up a ten man committee to fast track recommendations on the management of the incessant conflicts between crop farmers and herdsmen across the country.

The governor of Benue state has been drafted into the committee which also comprises the Minister of Agriculture, Environment, Science and Technology, Interior, Water Resources and National Planning.

Other members include the National Security Adviser, Director General, National Orientation Agency and representatives of each state of the federation

NEC identified that 17 states have so far been affected by the conflict and expressed worry that the conflict is spreading like wild fire.

Jang-Led NGF Condemn Killings In North, Support National Conference

Mimiko_ngfThe Jonah Jang – led Nigerian Governors’ Forum has condemned recent killings of innocent Nigerians in some parts of the north.

This was contained in a communique issued by the forum at the end of its meeting in Abuja last night.

In the communique read by the governor of Ondo State, Dr Olusegun Mimiko, the forum strongly condemned what it called senseless killing in Benue, Katsina, Kaduna and other Northern states and sympathised with the government and people of the affected states.

Mimiko noted that “the forum deliberated on the security situation in the country and strongly condemned the killings in Benue, Katsina, Kaduna and some of the North-East states and sympathise with the governors and people of these states.

The forum commended President Jonathan for convening the ongoing National Conference and urged all Nigerians to support it.

“The forum commend Mr. President for convening the National Conference and called on all Nigerians to give it the needed support and encouragement” Mimiko said.

While welcoming the new governor of Anambra state, Mr Willie Obiano to the forum, the body also felicitated with its chairman and Plateau state governor, Jonah Jang on his 70th birthday.

“The forum welcomes his excellency, Dr Willy Obiano, the newly elected governor of Anambra state to the forum. The forum also congratulate the Chairman of the forum and Governor of Plateau state, His Excellency, Dr. Jonah Jang on his 70th birthday, we wish him many more years ahead” he said

The meeting ended in the early hours of today (Thursday).

Nigeria To Establish Grazing Reserves To End Clashes

grazing_reservesDisturbed by the ugly clashes between cattle grazers and farmers in various parts of the country, Nigerian  government on Monday approved the constitution of a committee to work out modalities for establishing grazing reserves across the country.

Consequently, a meeting of the National Economic Council (NEC) made up of governors of the 36 states of the federation and some ministers has been set for Thursday, this week to give teeth to the proposed policy aimed at finding a lasting solution to the clashes that had led to the death of over 50 persons since the beginning of 2014.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, who disclosed this at the Presidential Villa, after a  meeting chaired byVice President Namadi Sambo,  cited recent communal clashes between Fulani cattle grazers and farmers in Benue, Nasarawa, Plateau States and other parts of the country, noting that government has resolved to address the issue head-on.

He disclosed that the grazing reserve would also help to check the smuggling of arms and ammunition across the Nigerian borders by foreigners who come into the country disguised as cattle grazers

Dr Adesina announced that the government had put in place short term measure including the creation of new functional grazing reserves, deployment of satellite imagery, remote sensing and GPS maps to track movement of animals across the country.

Middle Belt Articulate Position For National Conference

Chairman, Middle Belt Forum, Professor Jerry Gana

Leaders from the middle belt region including minority group representatives from the North East have gathered to articulate the region’s position in the forthcoming National Conference.

Opinion leaders from the middle belt states of Plateau, Kwara, Kogi, Benue, and Nassarawa as well as representatives from minority groups of North East states of Gombe, Taraba, Yobe, Borno and Adamawa gathered in Jos, North Central Nigeria to discuss the region’s position and presentation with the theme, ‘Strategic Partnerships for the National Conference’.

Chairman of the Middle Belt Forum, Professor Jerry Gana, stressed the importance of the national dialogue and challenged the delegates to be critical in the deliberations on issues ranging from insecurity, economic downturn, poor leadership and poor governance among others.

Setting the tone for deliberations, he urged the delegates to consider the various topics for discussions with all seriousness for onward presentation to the conference.

Former Secretary to The Government of the Federation, Chief Olu Falae and former Governor of Anambra State, Chukwuemeka Ezeife, in their contributions at the meeting noted that the proposed National Conference should be taken seriously for a better country.

Addressing the gathering, the Plateau State Governor, Jonah Jang also reinstated the non-negotiable unity of the country at the proposed national dialogue.

The delegates were in different syndicate groups with topical issues on fiscal federalism, creation of states and local governments, systems of government, legislative powers, citizenship, citizenship rights and social safety nets for minorities, electoral systems and political party systems among others.

The conference was attended by prominent sons and daughters of the region including retired military officers, technocrats, as well as politicians and the academia.

Shema Charges South West PDP To Sheathe Their Swords

Chairman of the South West Reconciliation Committee of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and governor of Katsina state, Ibrahim Shema has advised members of the party in the south west to sheathe their sword and work for the progress of the party in the zone ahead of the 2015 general elections.

Governor of Katsina State, Ibrahim Shema

Addressing an inaugural reconciliation meeting of members of the party from the south west in Abuja, Governor Shema advised them to eschew bitterness and work for the progress of the party in the south west.

Governor of Delta state, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan who is also a member of the five-man committee, advised members of the party to embrace the reconciliation process as the committee is prepared to reconcile all aggrieved members of the party.

The five-man committee is made up of Governor Ibrahim Shema as chairman with the governors ofas members.

Red Cross International to raise N34m for flood victims in Nigeria

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have launched an Emergency Appeal Fund to help the Nigerian Red Cross assist 10,000 people affected by the flood as part of efforts to cushion the effects of the flood ravaging some parts of the country.

Addressing a news conference in Abuja, the Disaster Management Coordinator of the Nigerian Red Cross, Mr Umarabdu-Mairiga says the sum of N34, 000,000 (Thity Four million naira) raised by the international arm of the humanitarian foundation will be used to assist victims in Adamawa, Taraba, Kogi, Plateau, Katsina, Cross River, Jigawa, Kogi, Benue and Edo states.

He added that the flood has claimed 148 lives and displaced 64, 000 persons in 21 states.

Also speaking at the occasion, the who described the flood situation as a disaster says the funds being raised by the federation will be used to support the ongoing relief efforts of the Nigerian Red Cross Society.

Flood sacks 14 communities; displaces 25, 000 persons in Benue

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) on Thursday said over 25, 000 persons have been displaced by flood in 14 communities in Benue State following the overflow of river Benue.

Yushau Shuaib, NEMA’s Head Public Relations, in a press statement sent to Channels Television, said the agency had reached out to areas that are threatened by flood yet “some of the communities at risk have remained adamant even as over 25, 000 persons in 14 communities were displaced in Benue State following the overflow of river Benue.

“Also, thousands of residents in Kaduna metropolis have been displaced by flood from Kaduna River and some communities in Kano State submerged after the collapse of Warawa dam.

“Similarly, more areas along the plains of River Benue and River Niger have remained under the threat of flood from the unprecedented rise of water in the upstream dams,” the statement said.

The NEMA spokesman said the agency is working with the Benue State government and others in the establishment of three camps for the displaced persons while officials have mobilized to the other areas that are also affected by the disaster including Bauchi State.

Mr Shuaib said “the agency has contacted the relevant States Governors and stakeholders as well as launched a series of awareness campaigns and advocacy to sensitize the vulnerable communities on measures to be taken. However, some of the communities have remained adamant not to move to any place of safety and resigned their fate to the act of God.

Meanwhile, authorities at the Jebba hydroelectric dam has began discrete release of the excess water from the dam to safeguard the facility.

The Chief executive officer of the hydroelectric power plant, Lamu Audu attributed the high water level to excessive rainfall this year.

An assessment team comprising officers of NEMA and the stakeholders including the line ministries visited the dam and some of the threatened communities in Kwara and Niger States.

NEMA’s Director of Planning Research and Forecasting, Charles Agbo who led the team expressed satisfaction with the manner which the excess water is being managed.

During the visit to Jebba and Old Jebba which are the two immediate communities located at the downstream of the dam, Mr Agbo advised the residents in the communities to relocate to the higher grounds for safety.

Ten dead as Ebonyi, Benue communities clash

No fewer than ten persons have been confirmed dead in a fresh communal clash that ensued between the bordering communities of Agila in Ado local government area of Benue State and Ngwo in Ebonyi State.

The Benue State Governor, Gabriel Suswam

The rivalry between the two neighbouring communities broke out on the wee hours of Tuesday over perennial land dispute between them which has gone beyond controversy.

Ngwo community over the week allegedly deployed mercenaries into Agila threatening to march into Agila main town.

According to an eye-witness at the Benue end of the border, who spoke with Dailypost, the renewed fighting has forced inhabitants of Ai-Nedu clan in Agila to flee to Apa Agila for safety.

According to him, farmers of Ai-Nedu community had gone to carry out their routine farming activities yesterday morning when they ran into an ambush of over 100 men who marched through Ogilolo community dressed in military camouflage and armed with sophisticated weapons.

“The farmers flee on sighting the men but the mercenaries caught up with one Oche Adayi, a father of four and beheaded him. From that point, they moved in further, shooting sporadically and killing any living thing within the area; as at now we cannot ascertain the number of the dead because many people are still missing while some are believed to be trapped in the farms.

“As at 30 minutes ago we were hearing sounds of gun shots coming from the besieged community near the Community Secondary School in Agila while people are still scampering for safety,” he said.

Reacting to the incident, Benard Ochepa, the Caretaker Committee Chairman of Ado local government area, lamented the extent of the attack on his people.

“The attack was just overwhelming; it is sad that despite efforts by the state government to ensure that this crisis was brought to an end, the people we gave land to habit have now resorted to killing my people, it is sad indeed.

“In fact the situation is even more painful when you realised that our people have been displaced from their places of abode and their communities made desolate,” Mr Ochepa said.

The development on Tuesday prompted a forced cancellation of all official engagements organised by the Benue State Government.

Meanwhile, the Benue State Security Council, chaired by the Deputy Governor, Steven Lawani, had conveyed an emergency meeting to deliberate the matter.

The Deputy Police Public Relations Officer for Benue State, Ejike Alaribe ASP, disclosed that the police recorded one death in the fighting, adding that the state Police Commissioner, Christopher Katso, personally directed the Area Commander in charge of Otukpo to move to the troubled community to ensure that peace was restored in the communities immediately.

He added that Benue State Police Command was also collaborating with its counterpart in Ebonyi state to ensure that calm returned to the areas.

“We have drafted more men to the area, and I can assure you that calm has returned to the area”, Mr Alaribe said.

BENUE: Government plans mass burial for those killed by collapsed church building

The Benue state government on Monday assured the families of those who died in the collapse building of St Roberts Catholic Mission Church, Adambge in Vandekikya local government area of Benue state, that it will carter for their needs while the victims will be given mass burial at the church premises.

Eyewitnesses said the number of casualty was high because help could not reach those trapped on time.

The Benue state commissioner for information, Conrade Wergba who said this, disclosed that twenty two persons died in the incident while the medical bill of those injured and receiving treatment at the hospital will also be settled by the state government.

Mr Wergba and the state’s commissioner of Education, Elizabeth Ukoh had accompanied the Deputy Governor, Steven Lawani to the church to commiserate with the church and affected families on the sad incident.

Following the assessment of the incident, the state government ordered the establishment of a comprehensive health care facility in Adamgbe and grading of the road for easy accessibility to the village.

At least 22 persons were on Sunday confirmed dead as the church building collapsed on Saturday night while parishioners were worshiping during the Easter vigil service.
Eyewitnesses said the number of casualty was high because help could not reach those trapped on time.

Thousands of Fulani herdsmen flee Benue for C’river

Cross River State Government has expressed its worry over the migration of about 3,000 Fulani herdsmen from Katsina Alla, Benue State, to Utanga in Obanliku Local Government Area of its state.

The refugees, are believed to be among those who fled Benue state in the wake of the clash between Fulani herdsmen and Tiv groups recently, leading to the loss of several lives and property.

Although government officials declined comments, a Nigerian newspaper learnt that the security agencies had been put on high alert to prevent any breakdown of law in the state.

The Assistant Director of Information, SEMA, Mr. David Akate, said the Fulani herdsmen were gradually settling in about four camps using grasses and tree shades as shelter.

According to him, “The displaced persons had hundreds of tiny piles of their belongings such as clothes, mats and cooking utensils scattered all over the place are obviously passing through trying times, especially the lack of basic necessities of life such as food, clothing and shelter.”

Aquah however assured that the hospitality of the people of the state would be extended to them and admonished the refugees to be law- abiding while they go about their duties without fear.

Mystery fire razes Benue State governor’s home

The Benue State government has blamed the mysterious fire that completely razed down a multi-million naira Makurdi property belonging to Governor Gabriel Suswam on the opposition.

The fire had started after 1 p.m. on Thursday, completely engulfing one of the massive buildings in the governor’s private estate, located in the Hudco Quarters of the High Level area in Makurdi.

Media Director to the Governor, Mr. James Uloko didn’t have to look far for the culprits, claiming that the “inhuman act” could be connected to opposition party which had recently “threatened to make the state ungovernable, sensing defeat at the election tribunal.’’

According to the Vanguard, however, security guards on duty at the time of the incident reported hearing voices coming from behind the building.

Before the guards could investigate further, a fire canon was thrown into one of the blocks resulting in the huge flame.

State Deputy Commissioner of Police, Ibrahim Mohammed, says police officials are carrying an investigation to find the culprits behind the fire, but said no arrests have been made.