2018 Week Three: January 15 – 21
A new week, same issues. The third week of the year continued a dominant trend with reactions to the killings of several persons in Benue State by suspected herdsmen. The issue got the attention of President Muhammadu Buhari who met with a delegation of Benue leaders led by Governor Samuel Ortom on Monday in Abuja. Addressing the leaders, President Buhari said: “ I ask you in the name of God to accommodate your countrymen. You can also be assured that I am just as worried, and concerned with the situation.” Meanwhile, Nigeria joined the rest of the world to honour fallen heroes and members of the military who have fought and are still fighting in various theatres of conflict. At various events across the country to mark the Armed Forces Remembrance Day, President Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, and Senate President Bukola Saraki, as well as state governors paid tributes to fallen soldiers by laying wreaths.
On the tragic side of the day, the people of Lagos woke up to what some tagged a ‘sad morning’ after an explosion occurred at a gas station in Magodo area of the state, killing at least two persons. The popular gas station is located on a residential estate and has been the destination for cooking gas users in the axis and neighbouring areas. Far from the southern part of the country, Taraba State was thrown into mourning following the death of one of its lawmakers, Honourable Hosea Ibi. Late Ibi, the member representing Takum II Constituency in the State House of Assembly, was found dead about two weeks after he was kidnapped by gunmen in December 2017.
The educational atmosphere in Osun State turned controversial as hundreds of public school students were sent home over unpaid tuition fees. In a swift reaction, the state government denied the claim as it said the students were only asked to show evidence of payment of taxes and education trust levies by their parents or guardians.
In Abuja, the Federal High Court in Abuja ordered the Nigeria Police Force, for the second time, to unseal the head office of the Peace Corps of Nigeria. Justice John Tsoho also directed police and other security agencies laying siege at the premises vacate immediately, as well as hand over possession of the office to the organisation.
The second day of the week also had more reactions to the Benue killings both from the government’s side and that of the citizens’. Reports had emerged that Governor Ortom warned Professor Osinbajo while President Buhari was on medical vacation against the imminence of the killing in Benue State. The Presidency, however, denied the report while Mr Ortom, on his part, warned those raising false alarms and making inflammatory statements to desist from such acts or face arrest.
While the Senate leadership briefed President Buhari about their decisions and resolutions regarding the Benue crisis, the Upper House issued a 14-day ultimatum to the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr Ibrahim Idris, to investigate and arrest the perpetrators of the attacks that led to the death of over 73 persons in the state. Also reacting to the attacks, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Dangote Group, Mr Aliko Dangote, believes increasing rate of unemployment was responsible for herdsmen and farmers’ crisis; while a former IGP and Chairman of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Mr Ibrahim Coomassie, blamed state governors for the spate of killings occasioned by conflicts.
Away from Benue matters, security continued to be a major concern as not less than three persons were feared killed when Boko Haram terrorists attacked Pallam village in Madagali Local Government Area of Adamawa State. The attack was reported on Tuesday, although it took place on Monday, as residents fled the community after some houses were burnt down by the insurgents. On the anti-corruption war, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) requested a Federal High Court in Lagos to grant an order of interim forfeiture of the sum of $3,645,013.73 allegedly linked the wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Patience. Similarly, the anti-graft agency re-arraigned a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Jumoke Akinjide, before a Federal High Court in Lagos. Mrs Akinjide was accused of conspiring with some persons to directly take possession of N650million which the EFCC claimed forms part of the proceeds of an unlawful act.
Renewed Attacks In Northern Nigeria
Fresh terrorist attacks and litigations dominated January 17, 2017. It was a sad day for the people of Borno State when at least 12 persons died after two suicide bombers attacked a market in Muna Garage in Maiduguri. The Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr Damian Chukwu, who confirmed that the assailants were among the 12 who died, told reporters that 48 people got injured during the attack. Benue State got in the news again following renewed attacks in which six people were killed in Logo, Guma and Okpokwu local government areas of the state. Confirming the attacks, Governor Ortom said Guma and Logo LGAs were attacked on Tuesday while that of Okpokwu LGA took place on Wednesday.
The Kaduna State Police Command also confirmed the abduction of four foreigners – two Americans and two Canadians – by gunmen who killed two of its personnel during a gun duel. Meanwhile, a militant group in Nigeria’s southern region Niger Delta Avengers threatened to resume fresh attacks on oil installations in the region. The group, through its spokesman Murdoch Agbinibo, vowed that the round of attacks would be the ‘most deadly’ and would be targeting the deep-sea operations of the multinationals.
The EFCC also continued its anti-corruption fight with the arraignment of Justice Mohammed Yinusa before a Lagos High Court in Ikeja, Lagos. Justice Yinusa was arraigned alongside one Esther Agbo work reportedly works with the law firm of a senior lawyer, Rickey Tarfa, on five counts of financial impropriety.
The Commission also arraigned Mohammed Adamu, son of former governor of Nasarawa State, Abdullahi Adamu, alongside one Felix Ojiako on five counts of money laundering before Justice J. K. Dagat of the Federal High Court in Kano. However, the Lagos High Court in Ikeja adjourned the arraignment of the Chairman of Innoson Nigeria Limited, Innocent Chukwuma, over allegations of fraud after the businessman failed to show up in court.
As part of efforts to find a permanent solution to lingering fuel challenges, the House of Representatives summoned the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, and the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr Maikanti Baru.
Both men were directed to appear before a Joint Committee of the House to explain the rationale behind the payment of fuel subsidy and to account for the funds spent on subsidy payment since January 2017.
Tackling Herdsmen-Farmers Crisis
On Thursday, the killings triggered by the crisis between herdsmen and farmers seem not to be worrisome for the Federal Government only but also state governors. In a bid to address the numerous conflicts, the National Economic Council constituted a 10-man working committee to check the spate of killings across the country. The committee is headed by Vice President Osinbajo while governors of Kaduna, Zamfara, Taraba, Benue, Adamawa, Edo, Plateau, Oyo, and Ebonyi states are members. Meanwhile, the police said they have confirmed the existence of militia groups in Benue State which they said investigations would reveal soon. Force Public Relations Officer, Mr Jimoh Moshood, told Channels Television on Sunrise Daily that they have evidence of members of the group who are armed with AK-47 rifles. Also on police matters, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, decried the inadequate annual budgetary allocation to the Force. Mr Ibrahim, who appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on Police Affairs, noted that the allocations make it difficult to meet the current security needs of the country.
Also on security issues, the Federal High Court in Abuja dismissed the application by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) challenging its proscription as a terrorist organisation. Justice Abdul Kafarati held that the application was properly brought before the court as an ex parte motion by the Attorney-General of the Federation. Elsewhere, Taraba State Governor Darius Ishaku asked security agencies in the state to arrest the killers of a slain lawmaker in the state. Until his death, Honourable Hosea Ibi was the member representing Takum II Constituency in the State House of Assembly. He was found dead about two weeks after he was kidnapped by gunmen in December 2017.
In the education sector, the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) in Kaduna State of called off its indefinite strike which began on January 8, 2017, in protest of the sack of 21,780 teachers in the public primary schools who failed a controversial competency test in June 2017. The union said the decision was taken after the government offered the sacked teachers another opportunity for consideration under the State Universal Education Board (SUBEB) programme of continuous recruitment. Far in the South-East, the Ebonyi State government directed schools to close following the outbreak of Lassa fever in the state. The government said the directive was given as part of measures to contain the spread of the disease after the death of four persons.
Friday was clouded with controversy when President Buhari’s wife, Aisha, reposted the videos of two senators criticising her husband’s administration with her official Twitter handle @aishambuhari. In the said videos, Senator Isah Misau – who represents Bauchi Central – faulted the appointment of the Director General of National Intelligence Agency (NIA), while Senator Ben Murray-Bruce (Bayelsa East) lambasted government over what he termed Nigeria’s ‘lawlessness’. Meanwhile, the President explained why he doesn’t make decisions hurriedly in addressing burning national issues. “I decided to drop the uniform and come back here (to be President of Nigeria), so I have gone through it over and over again. This is why I am not in a hurry to do anything. I will sit and reflect, and continue to (operate) with my clear conscience,” President had told some APC chieftains in Abuja.
Somewhere in the North East, at least five people were reported killed when suspected Boko Haram terrorists attacked Kaya village in Madagali Local Government Area of Adamawa State. The attack, which took place on Friday morning, was swiftly reacted to by local hunters who killed one of the terrorists and apprehended three others. Another death was recorded in Nasarawa State but as a result of the resurgence of Lassa Fever disease in the state. The state government said relatives of the deceased have all been tested and placed under surveillance.
News of suspected kidnap kingpin, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, also known as Evans, might have been fading away but his trial alongside five others continued on Friday at the Ikeja High Court in Lagos. After series of proceedings, the court adjourned hearing till March 2 for the continuation of trial and ruling on a bail application brought by the sixth defendant. In Oyo State, the installation of 21 kings by the state governor, Abiola Ajimobi, was nullified by a State High Court. The court declared as null, void and unconstitutional, the review of the 1957 Olubadan Chieftaincy Declaration as well as other Related Chieftaincies in Ibadan land by the Justice Akintunde Boade Review Commission set up by the state government.
Weekend In Summary
Nigerians woke up to the cheery news of the freedom of the four foreigners – two Americans and two Canadians on Saturday – about four days after they were abducted by gunmen in Kaduna State. The Commissioner of Police, Mr Agyole Abeh, said the foreigners were rescued at Jere Area in Kagarko Local Government Area of the state. The Delta State Police Command, however, confirmed the kidnap of five oil workers by gunmen in the state. The Command’s spokesman Andrew Aniamaka told Channels Television on Saturday that the hoodlums seized the workers on Wednesday at an offshore location near Ajoki, a border community between Delta and neighbouring Edo State.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) asked the Federal Government to ensure the victims of herdsmen attacks get justice to convey the sense of equity and restore confidence among the people. Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State, on his part, conveyed a meeting of stakeholders aimed at tackling the crisis between herdsmen and farmers in his state. The meeting followed an unfortunate incident which claimed the life of a young Tiv woman said to be eight-month pregnant in Ekiti.
Barely three days after five people were reported killed in Madagali Local Government Area (LGA) of Adamawa State, three persons were confirmed dead in an early Sunday morning raid on Kikon Village in Numan LGA. The attackers who were suspected to be herdsmen rode into the village on motorbikes, setting houses ablaze and carted away cattle belonging to farmers in the village. A farm belonging to a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Olu Falae, was also set on fire by suspected herdsmen in Ondo State. The Ondo State Police Command confirmed the incident to Channels Television.
Meanwhile, the leadership of Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) in the South East rejected the proposed plan by the Federal Government to establish cattle colonies in states as a means to tackle the farmers and herdsmen clashes. Vice President of PFN in the region and former Chairman, Imo State branch of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Cosmas Ilechukwu, stated this after the national leaders of PFN met in Owerri. However, the umbrella body of Muslims in Nigeria, Jamatu Nasril Islam (JNI), said it was absurd and wicked for CAN to blame herdsmen for the murder of more than 70 persons in Benue State and other parts of the country. Secretary-General of the group, Dr Khalid Abubakar, cautioned the Christian body against attributing crimes or criminals to religious and ethnic lines.