Kaduna Kidnap: College Of Forestry Shut Till Further Notice  

 

The Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka in Kaduna State has been shut down and the students asked to leave the school.

This comes after Friday’s attack by bandits on the school where over 200 students were kidnapped.

However, 180 of them were rescued by troops of the Nigerian army and were returned to the school from the Ribadu military cantonment in the state capital and reunited with their families.

Thirty-nine students are still in captivity.

Meanwhile, the abducted students in Kaduna have called for help in a disturbing video.

The abducted students were seen being beaten by their captors, as they pleaded with the government to rescue them.

They were seen huddled together and sitting on tree leaves, with gun-wielding men, some of them dressed in military uniform, keeping watch over them.

READ ALSO: Gunmen Invade Kaduna School, Abduct Students

The Kaduna State Government had put the number of those abducted at 39.

Following the abduction, security forces said they have stepped up efforts to rescue the college students.

President Muhammadu Buhari has vowed an early end to the hostage crisis.

Gunmen abducted the 39 students from their hostels in northwestern Kaduna state late Thursday, the latest in a series of such attacks.

The military managed to rescue 180 others after a fierce battle at the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation in Mando at the outskirts of the state capital, Kaduna city.

Elephants: The Jumbo Surprise Outside Nigeria’s Megacity

 

The jungle was so thick that Emmanuel Olabode only found the elephants he was tracking when the great matriarch’s sniffing trunk reached out close enough to almost touch.

“She flapped her ears, blocking us to guard her family, then left in peace,” recalls Olabode. “It was extraordinary.”

The elusive elephants are just 100 kilometres (60 miles) from downtown Lagos, Nigeria’s economic capital, home to over 20 million people.

“They are scared of humans,” says Olabode, who leads the Forest Elephant Initiative, a conservation group in the Omo Forest, northeast of Africa’s biggest city. “So they are active at night.”

Forest elephants are the shy relations of their larger savannah cousins and are experts at hiding; so skilled, in fact, very few in the city know about them.

The crowded concrete jungle of Lagos is better known for wild nightlife than nighttime wildlife.

“When people hear about the elephants, they do not believe it,” says Joy Adeosun, a government scientist working with Olabode.

“They are in shock,” adds Adeosun, fixing a motion-sensitive camera that has not only snapped elephants, but antelope, buffalo and chimpanzees too.

Last pristine rainforest

Omo, spreading across some 1,325 square kilometres (510 square miles) of southwestern Ogun state, was protected as a government reserve nearly a century ago.

A UNESCO “biosphere reserve” of global importance, it is one of the last patches of pristine rainforest left in Nigeria.

Nigeria’s deforestation rates are among the highest in the world, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization.

“Chopping down trees is easy,” says Olabode, whose team of eight community rangers are overstretched.

“But if the forest goes, the whole ecosystem changes. The rains reduce, then the farms lose fertility. Everyone suffers.”

Half of the forest, a 650-square-kilometre (250-sqaure-mile) area, is reserved for wildlife and logging is banned.

But corruption is rampant.

“There are so many trees here,” says Ibiyinka James, on one of dozens of trucks illicitly laden with ancient hardwoods, off to become planks for the booming construction market in Africa’s most populous nation.

“The birds can fly to another forest,” he adds.

And with trees cleared, farmers plant crops.

“I need to provide for my family. What else can I do?”, cocoa grower Christopher Shadrach says, from Ose-Eke, one of the villages hacked out of the reserve, each one home to hundreds of people.

But to the elephants, the crops are tasty treats, which angers forest farmers.

Packed their trunks

Researchers had feared only a handful of elephants were left. Then, in April 2018, the elephants burst out of the jungle.

Drivers slammed on their brakes as herds stampeded across a four-lane highway, with desperate mother elephants trying to smash central barriers for babies to cross, rangers said.

“They were looking for a new home,” Olabode explains, suggesting quarry blasts could have been the final straw.

Many were chased back, although some found a happy hideout even closer to the city.

Olabode now believes there could be a hundred elephants in Omo — but their remarkable survival is under threat like never before as their forest home is in danger.

Africa Nature Investors (ANI), a Nigerian conservation foundation, plans to develop eco-tourism to protect the forest.

“It will provide alternative employment,” says Filip Van Trier, a Belgian businessman brought up in Nigeria, outlining funding proposals he is heading for ANI, including tripling ranger numbers.

“But first we have to stop the logging.”

‘Forests are critical’

At dawn in Omo, monkey chatter echoes across misty treetops.

Then there is the echo of a gunshot, signalling that a hunter is in the forest. Soon after, the whine of chainsaws begins.

Both poachers and ivory dealers risk five years in prison — if laws were enforced.

In 2015, the environment ministry drew up an action plan to protect elephants, vowing to crack down on a “large domestic ivory market.”

Yet in Lagos, in the Jakande craft market in middle-class Lekki, one carver shows off a commission he is making for a “big businessman” — a miniature AK-47 in ivory, the weapon of choice for poachers.

For city businesses, wildlife may not be their first concern, but preserving the jungle and keeping elephants safe is an issue for flood-hit Lagos.

“The forests are critical,” says Shakirudeen Odunuga, of the University of Lagos, who studies how forests stop storm waters surging into low-lying suburbs built on reclaimed swampland.

“We are already experiencing serious flooding.”

The forests, the lungs of Lagos, also bring life-saving rain.

“Without them, the heat would be unbearable,” Odunuga adds.

In Omo, Olabode and his tiny team trek each day through the forests, trying to stop its destruction.

“If we let the forest go, people will say, ‘we should have protected the elephants’,” he says. “But by then, it will be too late.”

AFP

Hope For People With Disability In Osun As Lawmakers Receive Bills

Osun-state-house-of-assembly-billsPeople living with disability and the elderly in Osun State are receiving attention, as the State House of Assembly on Thursday received four Private Member Bills sponsored by one of its members, Olatunbosun Oyintiloye, representing Obokun Constituency.

The bills are, Cattle Trading and Grazing Bill 2016; Forestry, Natural and Mineral Resources Development Agency (Establishment) Bill 2016; Mandatory Usage of Standardised Measure and Weight Bill 2016; and Special People’s Bill 2016.

At the plenary, the Speaker, Honourable Najeem Salaam, informed members of the presentation of the bill and read the covering letters to the members.

‘Prevent Frequent Clashes’

According to the letter read by the Speaker, “Cattle Trading and Grazing Bill 2016 is a bill to make provision for the regulation and granting of permit for cattle trading and grazing and the establishment of control posts in the state.”

He added that “the bill, when passed into law, will sanitise the business of cattle trading and grazing, prevent frequent clashes between herders and farm owners, and bring in more revenue to the coffers of the state”.

“The Forestry, Natural and Mineral Resources Development Agency bill will help to protect forestry, natural and mineral resources, as well as make the sub-sector attractive to investors, generate employment opportunities for the citizenry and increase revenue generation for the state”.

Olatunbosun-Oyintiloye
Mr Olatunbosun Oyintiloye said he has passion for the elderly, people with disability and special people

Salaam also stressed that the Mandatory Usage of Standardised Measure and Weight Bill, would reset the economy through promotion of equity and encouragement of stability and catalysed economic growth, boost confidence in trade and commerce in the state.

On the Special People’s Bill, the speaker said: “When this bill is passed into law, it would protect and provide special consideration for elderly citizens and people living with disability in the area of welfare, social development, poverty reduction and social security”.

Commending Honourable Oyintiloye for sponsoring four private-member bills, he said “this has portrayed the State Assembly as one that is also working towards making meaningful contributions to the development of the state”.

“I want to assure you that the House will give diligent attention to the bills.”

On why he proposed the bill, Honourable Oyintiloye ‎from Obokun Constituency said passion for the elderly, people with disability and special people moved him to propose the bills.

“The elderly and physically challenged people and the special people have been neglected for too long and they need to be made to belong to the society‎.  Let’s show them that we care,” he stressed.