Officials of the Nigerian Immigration Service have intercepted seven Cameroonians along Ikot Obong Creek in Akpabuyo local government area of Cross River State.
This was disclosed in a statement signed on Friday by the Public Relations Officer, for Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service, DCI James Sunday.
According to the statement, the Cameroonians were caught while attempting to enter the country in a boat.
Consequently, they were denied entry and returned back to their country through Ikang Control post, while the boat that brought them was impounded.
The arrest is among series of interceptions between Cross River and Akwa Ibom state commands respectively, bothering Cameroon in recent times amidst the Federal Government’s directive on border closure.
The Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service Muhammad Babandede (MFR) has further directed commands at the border to intensify patrol and reconnaissance along the flanks, creeks, waterways, and inroads into the country in order to frustrate the attempts of the irregular migrants.
Cross River State Government has completed plans to float its own airline as well as a shipping line, as part of efforts to increase revenue and lower dependence on federal allocation.
Addressing reporters in Calabar, Governor Ben Ayade said the state was taking full advantage of its huge tourism potentials and vast maritime resources by going into both airline and maritime services.
Huge Maritime Resources
The governor noted that while Cally Air was expected to transport tourists from all over Nigeria to the beautiful tourist sites dotted across the state, particularly the famous Obudu Ranch Resort, the shipping line would concentrate primarily on cargo services, especially along the shoreline of the Gulf of Guinea.
Ayade maintained that “Cross River State is only taking full advantage of its huge maritime resources by focusing on maritime trading particularly, cabotage services by providing merchant vessels that will ply the Gulf of Guinea and provide services to countries along this shoreline.
“In our 2017 budget, there is a provision for a merchant vessel that will provide maritime businesses with Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Cameroun and the entire stretch of the shoreline.
“There is another provision for Wharf landing and other support services. So, we are also going to have a fabrication yard and other allied maritime services as we refocus on broadening the maritime sector in the state”.
Justifying government’s decision to venture into maritime services, Professor Ayade reasoned that with the maritime trade and connectivity along the region, his administration was confident that the return on the investment would definitely be huge and contribute immensely to the budget of infinite transposition.
“Our vessels are already berthing in Calabar as part of investment in 2017 because we are establishing business outlays in some West and Central African countries dealing mostly on petroleum products and because Cross River State is looking at an aggregate of driving an industrialised, business-like module for governance, soon, you will see us go into full time trading.
“That is why in our budget, we have budgeted about 14 billion Naira to expand investment in this direction to the Gambia,” the Governor explained.
Professor Ayade further told reporters that the state had the capacity to handle the huge investments, knowing full well that, it is a very delicate combination of public-private service administration structure running it from a private business perspective.
Cross River is announcing its plan two days after Imo State government said it had taken delivery of the first aircraft, to kick start, as the first state owned commercial airline, Imo Air.
During the official launch of the new airline at the Sam Mbakwe International Cargo airport in Owerri, the Imo state capital, the Governor Rochas Okorocha said the investment by the state government would boost economic activities in the state.
He added that it would increase the state Internally Generated Revenue and also generate employment opportunities for teaming unemployed youths in the state.
The commander of Operation Delta Safe (OPDS), Rear Admiral Apochi Suleiman, says the joint task force will not hesitate to enforce its mandate in the Niger Delta region, expressing the troops’ readiness to contain any eventuality in the area.
The OPDS commander spoke at Ikang border post in Bakassi Local Government Area of Cross River State, shortly after embarking on ‘Exercise Safety Check’, within the Niger Delta creeks.
Members of the taskforce comprise the Nigerian Army, Navy, Air Force, police and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps personnel.
According him, the exercise was intended to ensure the protection of Nigeria’s critical infrastructures, while nipping other forms of criminality in the bud during and after the yuletide.
Answering questions from reporters, Suleiman expressed confidence in the mental and physical fitness of the troops to discharge their duties effectively.
“This is a continuation of Exercise Safety Check that started last week from Delta to Bayelsa, Rivers to Akwa Ibom and down to Cross River.
“So far, you can agree with me that there has been relative peace within our joint operation area.
“What we have seen so far shows that our troops are ready and prepared for any eventuality. We are sure of enforcing the mandate that has been given to us,” he said.
Highlight of the exercise, which took the team aboard several military gunboats to the Cameroun military post; Bataillon d’ Intervention Rapide (BIR), in Archibong Town, had the commander feasting with the troops in Esighi.
Deputy force commander; land component, Brigadier General Kelvin Aligbe, the sector 4 commander, Col. NU Muktar, among other top officers were part of the exercise.
Military operations have increased in the Niger Delta region since militancy returned to the region in 2015, affecting the nation’s oil output which is the major means of revenue generation.
Several attacks on oil installations dropped crude oil output to less than a million barrels per day.
The Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, has urged President Idris Deby of Chad to use his good office as African Union Chairman to support the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF).
Mr Dan-Ali also asked President Deby to call on countries, organisations and individuals that pledge financial and material support to the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) to fulfil their promises, to enable the task force execute its mandate of ending the activities of Boko Haram in the region effectively.
He made the appeal on Wednesday when he led a team of Ministers of Defence and Chiefs of Defence Staff from troops-contributing countries of MNJTF which include Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroun and Benin Republic, to visit the Chadian leader after LCBC meeting in Njamena.
The Nigerian Defence Minister also appealed to African leaders to provide a better means of livelihood for their people, to prevent the recruitment of youths into terrorist groups across the region.
In his response, President Deby assured the visiting Ministers and Chiefs of Defence Staff of the support of all LCBC Presidents to the MNJTF operations and promised to impress on the donors to fulfil their promise.
He also paid tribute to the MNJTF soldiers and urged them to rid the region of Boko Haram terrorists as soon as possible.
Mr Dan-Ali’s appeal was made public in a statement by his spokesman, Colonel Tukur Gusau.
At least 239,000 Nigerians are still refugees in neighbouring countries where they fled to in the heat of insurgency in the oil-rich nation’s northeast, an emergency management agency said on Monday.
The figure was contained in a report of humanitarian relief intervention by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) released recently.
It also says that about 29, 581 Nigerians, who fled their communities in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa to Republic of Niger and Cameroun as a result of insurgents’ activities had voluntarily returned to Nigeria.
‘Provided With Humanitarian Relief’
According to the report, 13,046 Nigerians returned from Niger Republic in May, 2015 and were received in Geidam, Yobe State while Between April and December, 2015 NEMA received about 16,595 Nigerians that have voluntarily returned from Cameroon through the Sahuda border crossing area near Mubi in Adamawa State.
“Some of the Nigerians that fled to Neighbouring countries (Niger, Chad and Cameroun) were provided with humanitarian relief support by the Federal Government of Nigeria through NEMA to alleviate their suffering.
“The displaced Nigerians have also received humanitarian supports from the host governments, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), the host communities and Nigerian citizens living in the three host countries’’ the report read.
The spokesman for the agency, Sani Datti, said that of the 239,834 refugees, 20,804 of them are living in the Republic of Chad, 80,709 in the Republic of Cameroun and 138,321 in the Republic in Niger.
The agency further said that it had adopted a monthly Humanitarian Coordination Meeting; a forum that consists of relevant Federal government Agencies, UN Systems and International Non-Government Organisations (INGOs) to undertake analysis of causes of humanitarian situations, conduct need assessments, identify priorities and provide humanitarian interventions based on their respective mandates.
According to the agency, the system operates through different sectors lead by national Ministries Department and Agencies and co-lead by UN Agencies.
The report pointed out that due to the successes recorded by the Nigerian Military with the support of Multi-National Joint Military Task Force (JTF) in the fight against Boko Haram insurgents, the humanitarian dashboard was fast changing.
“The focus is gradually shifting towards Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Resettlement, Recovery and dignified return of IDPs back home while process for the return of Nigerian refugees from neighboring countries is equally on-going.
“NEMA will continue to support and work towards bridging the identified gaps in humanitarian response through enhanced coordination, capacity building and strengthening of collaboration with the affected States and relevant stakeholders including line MDAs, local and international response organizations and the UN system,” the report added.
Boko Haram has, in the past seven years, carried out a campaign to establish an Islamic State and also end Western education in the region.
It has attacked communities and villages, taking people hostage, mostly women and children.
The Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade, on Tuesday said his administration will partner with Dana Group, a consortium of Indian investors, in areas of air transport and pharmaceuticals.
The partnership, according to the governor will lead to the setting up of a state-owned airline, to be known as Cally Air, with Dana Group overseeing it’s management, as well as the Calabar Pharmaceutical Company (CalaPharm).
Governor Ayade disclosed this when he led the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Dana Group, Mr. Jackies Hartmani to the site of the Calabar Pharmaceutical Company, currently under construction in Calabar, the state capital.
Governor Ayade said Cross River was creating new platforms, new business opportunities that “will open a fresh horizon for young people to exploit”.
The Governor further expressed optimism that the state will become the hub for the manufacturing of drugs in the whole of the South-South region of the country and Cameroun.
He said the state’s airline will be up and running in two to three months flying Calabar, Obudu, Lagos and Abuja.
The Armed Forces Command and Staff College in Jaji, Kaduna State, has conducted a special training course for junior military officers on counter-terrorism and peace support operations.
The training equipped them with appropriate skills to function as Grade Three Staff Officers and Junior commanders in their various military services and organisations.
During their graduation ceremony, the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, said the training had become necessary due to the emerging security challenges.
He pointed out that the challenges required effective training of officers and men in the art of counter-terrorism, peace support operations and disaster management.
He urged the junior officers to apply the skills they had learnt from the college in the ongoing war against terrorists in the northeast and other related crimes across Nigeria.
General Buratai also reminded them of their expected roles in the realisation of the Federal Government’s Change Agenda and war against terror.
“Always conduct yourselves in a manner that is befitting of an officer when discharging your duties,” he advised them.
The Chief of Army Staff also told the graduating students to imbibe the cardinal virtues of a soldier which include discipline, team spirit, time management and self-confidence among
The junior military officers were drawn from the Nigerian Navy, Army, Air Force and allied officers from neighbouring African countries.
For 21 weeks, they were subjected to intense training and academic activities.
Commandant of the college, Air Vice Marshal Suleiman Dambo, said the training curriculum had been reviewed to reflect emerging military thinking in warfare, counter-revolutionary and anti-terrorism packages.
A total of 90 Nigerian Army Officers, 40 Naval officers , 26 Air Force officers, 10 non-military officers as well as 10 allied officers from Botswana, Cameroun, Chad, Gambia, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Zambia participated in the course.
As they return to their various units and organisations, they are expected to carry on with the same spirit which they had shown during the training in addressing the numerous challenges that they would meet in the field.
The Camerounian President, Paul Biya, has reassured Nigeria that his nation would support the war against the Boko Haram terrorist group till the end.
Mr Biya made the promise at a press conference held in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital on Wednesday after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.
He is in Nigeria on a state visit.
The Camerounian leader also denied reports that his country had harboured terrorists and wanted to withdraw from the fight against Boko Haram.
On his part, President Buhari told reporters that he was grateful to the Chad Basin Commission, the Multi-National Joint Task Force and the G7 countries for the support they gave Nigeria in the fight against Boko Haram.
In a communique at the end of their meeting, they reaffirmed their continuous commitment to the fight against Boko Haram until they were finally exterminated from their countries.
They appraised the success recorded so far and pledged their readiness to work with each other in economic and infrastructural development.
The joint communique was presented by the Foreign Affairs Ministers of Nigeria, Mr Geofrey Onyeama and his Camerounian counterpart.
Cameroun like Nigeria is fighting the Boko Haram group which had infiltrated the nation from Nigeria’s northeast region, making both countries increase collaboration in tacking a common enemy.
Nigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin, has sought ways of strengthening the existing bi-lateral cooperation between Nigeria, Niger Republic and Republic of Cameroun.
The Defence Chief made several requests during official trips to both countries.
In Niger Republic, General Olonisakin met with the President of the country, Mahamadou Issoufou and the Chief of Defence Staff, General Seyni Garba and discussions on issues that concern the two countries were highlighted.
General Olonisakin thanked the Niger President for the role his country was playing in counter-terrorism operations in Lake Chad Basin and the country’s role in the formation of Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF).
Nigeria’s CDS expressed delight that Boko Haram had been significantly decimated, a feat, he stressed, called for stronger ties between Nigeria and its neighbours to ensure that no safe haven was provided for the retreating Boko Haram terrorists in the sub-region.
A statement by the Acting Director Defence Information, Brigadier General Rabe Abubakar, said General Olonisakin solicited for improved intelligence gathering and sharing, air asset operations and counter-Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) operations within the Lake Chad Basin countries and across ECOWAS States.
While in Cameroun, Nigeria’s CDS was received by the Camerounian Honourable Minister of Defence, Edgard Allain Mebe Ngo’o and the country’s Chief of Defence Staff, General Rene-Claude Meka where similar discussions, as in Niger Republic, were held.
One of the highlights of the discussion in Cameroun, however, was in the area of stronger cooperation in maritime environment, especially in the Gulf of Guinea, to tackle the incessant case of bunkering, oil theft and piracy. General Olonisakin has since returned to Nigeria.
Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, had on Thursday in Abuja said a Multinational Task Force would soon be established to patrol the waters of the Gulf of Guinea.
At a meeting with the French Minister of Defence, Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian, President Buhari said that patrols by the task force would augment and boost ongoing efforts to improve security in the Gulf, and curb crude oil theft and piracy.
The National Emergency Management Agency(NEMA), says it is working in collaboration with the United Nations and other international humanitarian and faith based organisations to provide temporary accommodation for the over two million people that were displaced by the Boko Haram insurgents in the north east since June 2015.
The Director General of the agency, Mohammed Sidi, disclosed this while receiving an award for community service by the Rotary Club of Kakuri, in Kaduna State.
Mr Sidi, who was represented at the event by the Director of Training, Musa Zakari, said that the agency has established humanitarian cells in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states, and is also collaborating with the military to provide emergency relief assistance to communities ravaged by the terrorist attacks.
He further explained that NEMA is already working closely with the governments of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa and other humanitarian actors to conduct a comprehensive damage and loss assessment in the affected areas to provide exit packages to affected persons who have chosen to return to their various communities.
According to him, with the liberation of most of the communities hitherto under the occupation of the insurgents and the massive return of Nigerian refugees from Cameroun and Niger, the humanitarian outlook has therefore changed from short-term relief intervention to rehabilitation, reconstruction and recovery of the affected persons and communities.
While explaining that the tasks of settling the internally displaced persons are enormous for government alone to bear, Mr Sidi called on the Rotary Club and other humanitarian organisations in the country to assist the agency in providing humanitarian services to victims to enable them return to normal life.