Nigeria’s President, Goodluck Jonathan, has directed the armed forces to comb the Rugu forest and rid it of insurgents launching attacks in some parts of the north.
At a dinner reception, organised for him by the Katsina State government on Thursday, as part of a two-day visit to the state, President Jonathan pointed out that the forest meant for economic purposes had turned to a hide-out and haven for insurgents who are launching attacks on the states.
The president’s trip to Katsina coincided with recent attacks by Fulani gunmen in Maigora village in the Faskari Sabuwa Local Government Area of Katsina State.
The attacks led to the death of dozens of people.
The Rugu forest borders the four states of Katsina, Zamfara, Niger and Kaduna, and the neighbouring Niger republic.
The president also directed the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to immediately swing into action in the delivery of relief materials to the affected communities.
Some of the projects the president inspected while in Katsina include the Songhai Farms, the New PDP Secretariat and the Nigerian Youth Service Corps’quarters in the state.
He also visited the family of his predecessor, late Umaru Musa Yaradua, to see the mother and the members of the family.
Unknown gunmen have attacked Kuran Mota and Mararabar Rindu villages in Faskari council and Unguwar Rimi village in Sabuwa Council Area of Katsina State, killing about 60 people and injuring many others.
An eyewitness told our correspondent that the gunmen who stormed the communities with 20 power bike motorcycles and AK47 rifles at about 6pm also killed a district head and carted away several cows belonging to local herdsmen.
The gunmen also launched a fresh attack on the two local governments on Wednesday, forcing natives to flee from their villages for fear of being killed.
A community leader told Channels Television that there was no presence of security men in the affected villages, as all the policemen and other security operatives were deployed to the state capital, ahead of President Goodluck Jonathan’s visit to the state on Thursday.
There has been no official confirmation of the incident as efforts to speak with the Special Adviser to the Katsina State Governor on Media, Mr. Sani Manunfasi, and the Police Spokesman in the state, Aminu Sadik, have been unsuccessful.
Two separate attacks in Borno State and Katsina State have left at least 34 people dead.
In Borno State, Nigeria’s North-East region, an attack on Mafa village in Borno left at least 31 people dead, taking the death toll from three days of attacks to 116.
The Senator representing Borno Central, Senator Ahmed Zannah, said that 29 civilians died in the raid and two policemen were killed in a bomb blast on Monday, while they were trying to remove bodies and question survivors about the initial attack.
Elsewhere in Katsina State, Nigeria’s North-West region, hospital sources said that gunmen have shot dead three policemen at a checkpoint in Kusada Local Government Area of the state.
A Government health official attached to Kankia General Hospital told Channels Television that the victims died on the spot of the attack.
The Police Public Relations Officer, of the state, Mr. Aminu Sadiq, who confirmed the incident, explained that the three policemen from the Kusada Division were on a stop and search duty, when four gunmen on motorcycles came out from the bush and opened fire on them.
Interior Minister, Comrade Abba Moro has accused northern elders of destroying north Nigeria and all it stood for.
Speaking during a courtesy call to Katsina state governor, Moro said northern elders have embraced politics of bitterness and deliberately shunned the north and its people.
He noted that the hitherto rich and vibrant region has lost its glory because the elders have taken sides instead of working together to maintain the virtues of the late Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello.
He commended the legacies of the late premier of Northern Nigeria and late Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and urged politicians to stop antagonizing the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
He called on northern politicians to work towards a meaningful northern nigeria and Nigeria in general.
In his remarks, the governor of Katsina state, Mr. Shehu Shema said the political temperature in Nigeria is a sign of political victory for PDP, stressing that all hands must be on deck for a proper development of the Nigerian state.
Meanwhile, the Governor told the minister that the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corp (NSCDC) has been integrated into the Katsina State Security Council.
The President, Goodluck Jonathan, and the Baraje-led faction of the People’s Democratic Party on Monday met at the presidential villa and resolved to reschedule their meeting to hold after the Muslim Hajj and Christian pilgrimage.
Addressing state house correspondents after the meeting, the governors of Cross River state Liyel Imoke and his Niger Sate counterpart Babangida Aliyu said they still stand on their resolution of September 15, and are committed to the resolution of their differences.
They apologised on behalf of the governors who are already performing the Hajj and resolved to reconvene at no mentioned date.
Others present at the meeting include the Kwara State governor Abdulfatah Ahmed, Rivers State Goevernor, Rotimi Amaechi, Kano State Governor, Rabiu Kwankowso, as well as the Kogi State Governor, Idris Wada, Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom and Ibrahim Shema of Katsina State.
The Nigerian Army has alerted the public on the use of military camouflage by members of the Boko Haram sect to perpetrate violence and create an impression that the military is responsible.
The Chief of Civil Military Affairs of the Nigerian Army, Major General Mobolaji Koleoso, told a news conference in Abuja on Friday that most of the terrors unleashed on civilians which are blamed on the military are perpetrated by the insurgents.
He claimed that Boko Haram’s evolving tactics of using phony military camouflage, aided the massive casualties in Bama, Borno State where they dressed as members of the Nigerian army.
Almost 200 lives were lost in the Bama massacre during an onslaught between the military and the Islamic insurgents.
Two Soldiers Killed In Daura Attack
Major-General Koleoso also confirmed that there was a gun duel between the sect members and officers of the Nigerian Army in Daura, Katsina State on Thursday night in which two soldiers died.
He claimed that five members of Boko Haram were also killed in the attack.
The military commander explained that the attack in Daura was carried out by the sect members using military camouflage.
In another press briefing, the police commissioner in Katsina, Abdullahi Magaji, said the gunmen bombed two police stations and four banks in the town on Thursday night, adding that one of the suspects was killed in the attack while the other four were trailed and killed on Mani-Dutsi road around 9.30 am on Friday.
Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday prayed for “concord in Nigeria”,as he lamented the “savage acts of terrorism” that frequently target Christian churches in Nigeria, during his traditional Christmas message.
The Islamist extremist group Boko Haram has often targeted churches in its bloody insurgency against the Nigerian government killing about 3,000 people since 2009 when the insurgency started.
The violence is now worsened with the emergence of another terror group, the Ansaru that claimed to have kidnapped French engineer, Frances Colump, in Rimi Katsina, Katsina State last week.
Pope Benedict also called for an “end to the bloodshed” and “a political solution” in conflict-wracked Syria in a traditional Christmas message that touched on several other of the world’s conflict zones.
“There is hope in the world … even at the most difficult times and in the most difficult situations,” he said, praying that “peace spring up for the people of Syria, deeply wounded and divided by a conflict which does not spare even the defenceless and reaps innocent victims.”
More than 44,000 people have been killed in Syria since the outbreak in March 2011 of an anti-regime revolt that became a bloody insurgency after a brutal crackdown, a rights group said last week.
The Pope’s annual “Urbi et Orbi” (To the City and the World) message, heard by some 40,000 pilgrims in St Peter’s Square, also pointed to hotspots across Africa and urged religious freedom in China, and as usual called for peace in the Middle East.
The Pope prayed for “help and comfort to the refugees from the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo,” where a rebel campaign caused tens of thousands to flee their homes, and peace in Kenya, “where brutal attacks have struck the civilian population and places of worship”.
He also urged peace in Mali, where Islamist insurgents have occupied large swathes of the desert north since a March coup.
He also prayed for “Israelis and Palestinians (to be granted the) courage to end long years of conflict and division, and to embark resolutely on the path of negotiation.”
Turning to China, the German Pope called on the new leadership to “esteem the contributions of the religions.”
Speaking of “the high task that awaits them,” the Pontiff said he hoped the new leaders unveiled in November would “help build a fraternal society for that noble people and of the whole world.”
China and the Vatican severed diplomatic ties in 1951 after the latter recognised the Nationalist Chinese government in Taipei, a rival to the communist regime in Beijing.
Although Beijing and the Vatican have improved relations in recent years as China’s Catholic population has grown, they remain at odds over which side has the authority to ordain priests.
About 5.7 million Chinese belong to the state-run Catholic Church, according to official figures. Independent estimates say 12 million Chinese Catholics worship in unauthorised churches and are loyal to the pope.