Death Toll In Philippines Military Plane Crash Rises To 50

 

Philippine security forces searched among coconut trees on a remote southern island Monday for the flight data boxes of an aircraft that crashed and killed 50 people in one of the country’s worst military air disasters.

The C-130 Hercules transport plane was carrying 96 people, most of them recent army graduates, when it overshot the runway on Sunday while trying to land on Jolo island in Sulu province — a haven for Islamist militants.

The plane “skidded” and burst into flames in a village, killing 50 people including 47 military personnel and three civilians, said military spokesman Major General Edgard Arevalo.

Another 53 were injured, most of them soldiers. It was not clear if the pilots were among the survivors.

“This is one of the worst tragic incidents that happened in our armed forces,” Arevalo said.

The three civilians killed were not on the flight and had been working in a quarry, village leader Tanda Hailid told AFP.

Photos of the scene released by the military’s Joint Task Force-Sulu showed the damaged tail and smoking wreckage scattered in a coconut grove.

“We have people on the ground to make sure the integrity of the pieces of the evidence that we will retrieve, most particularly the flight data recorder,” Arevalo said.

“Aside from eyewitness accounts, we are also looking for recordings, radio conversation recordings between the pilot and the control tower.”

Arevalo said the military had secured the crash site and would ensure militants on the island do not disrupt search efforts.

Dental records were being used to help identify the charred remains of victims.

Most of the passengers recently graduated from basic military training and were being deployed to the restive island as part of a counter-insurgency effort in the Muslim-majority region.

The military has a heavy presence in the southern Philippines where militant groups, including the kidnap-for-ransom outfit Abu Sayyaf, operate.

‘Worst crash’

C-130s have been the workhorses of air forces around the world for decades, used to transport troops, supplies, and vehicles.

The second-hand Hercules that crashed Sunday was acquired from the United States and delivered to the Philippines earlier this year.

It was one of four in the country’s fleet and was in “very good condition”, the military said. Two others are being repaired while the third has been grounded following the crash.

“These are all seasoned and experienced pilots, that’s why we are also unable to immediately say how this… (happened),” said Arevalo.

“Even if these (military assets) are not brand new… these are airworthy.”

“This ranks as the worst crash of a Philippine military aircraft with 50 dead so far as compared to the 40 dead in a 1971 crash of a PAF C-47,” Jose Antonio Custodio, a military historian and analyst, told AFP.

It was the latest in a series of recent military air accidents in the Philippines.

Last month, a Black Hawk helicopter went down during a night-time training flight, killing all six on board. The accident prompted the grounding of the country’s entire Black Hawk fleet.

President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesman Harry Roque said Monday the incidents would provide “impetus for further modernisation” of the armed forces.

“The whole country is mourning,” he said.

National Security: 235 Military Officers Get Counter-Terrorism Training

 

The Armed Forces Command and Staff College Jaji in Kaduna State has conducted a special training course for a total of 235 junior military officers on counter-terrorism and peace support operations.

The training which involved the Army, Air Force and Navy, was aimed at equipping them with the necessary skills to function as Grade-Three Staff Officers and Junior Commanders in their various military services and organisations.

Speaking during the graduation ceremony on Saturday, the Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Awwal Gambo, noted that the training became necessary as a result of the myriad of security challenges confronting the nation.

He also noted that the challenges require effective training of officers and men in the art of counter-terrorism, peace support operations and disaster management.

Among those who participated in the training were also allied officers from Liberia, Ghana, Gambia, Cameroun, Sierra Leone, and Benin Republic.

Read Also: Air Force Trains Personnel To Tackle Incessant Aircraft Crashes

Addressing the officers, Rear Admiral Gambo, urged them to apply the skills learnt from the college in the ongoing war against terrorists in the northeast, bandits in the north west and north central as well as other related crimes across the country.

The Naval boss also reminded them of their expected roles in the realisation of the Federal Government’s Change Agenda and war against terror.

Speaking further, he asked them to imbibe the cardinal virtues of a soldier which include discipline, team spirit, time management and self-confidence among others.

Lebanon Too Broke To Pay Soldiers Enough, Army Warns Ahead Of Donor Meet

(FILES) In this file photo taken on April 28, 2020 Lebanese army reinforcements arrive in the northern port city of Tripoli during clashes with protesters as anger over a spiralling economic crisis re-energised a months-old anti-government movement in defiance of a coronavirus lockdown.  (Photo by Ibrahim CHALHOUB / AFP)

 

Lebanon’s military needs aid to help its soldiers survive the financial crisis, an army source warned Wednesday, ahead of a UN-backed donor conference to shore up one of the bankrupt country’s key institutions.

Unlike previous conferences designed to provide training, weapons or equipment for Lebanon’s armed forces, the virtual meeting hosted by France on Thursday aims to offer the kind of humanitarian assistance usually reserved for countries grappling with conflict or natural disaster.

“We are in need of food parcels, healthcare assistance” and other support that comes on top of soldiers’ pay, a military source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

“The devaluation of the Lebanese pound is affecting soldiers and they are in need of support. Their salaries are not enough anymore.”

Lebanon’s economic crisis, which the World Bank has labelled as one of the world’s worst since the 1850s, has seen the local currency lose more than 90 percent of its value on the black market.

The crisis has eaten away at the value of soldiers’ salaries and slashed the military’s budget for maintenance and equipment, further threatening the country’s stability.

A regular soldier earns around 1.2 million Lebanese pounds a month — $800 at the official exchange rate, but only about $80 on the black market.

Already towards the middle of last year, the army said it had scrapped meat from the meals offered to on-duty soldiers, due to rising food prices.

– Milk, flour, medicine –
“We are doing the impossible to ease the suffering and the economic woes of our soldiers,” army chief Joseph Aoun said in a speech on Tuesday.

“We are forced to turn to allied states to secure aid, and I am ready to go to the end of the world to procure assistance so that the army can stay on its feet.”

Around 20 countries, including the United States, several EU member states, Gulf countries, Russia, and China have been invited to take part in the conference alongside UN representatives.

It follows a visit by Aoun last month to Paris, where he warned that the army could face even darker days without emergency support.

“The Lebanese army is going through a major crisis, which could get worse due to the deteriorating economic and social situation in Lebanon, which may worsen when subsidies are lifted,” he said.

He was referring to a government plan to scrap subsidies on essential goods such as fuel, food and flour to shore up dwindling foreign currency reserves.

A source close to French Defence Minister Florence Parly said Wednesday that the crisis was alarming as the Lebanese military is the “key institution” maintaining security in the country.

The army has highlighted “very specific needs” for milk, flour, medicine, fuel, and spare parts for maintenance, the source said.

– ‘Morale is low’ –
Aram Nerguizian, an expert on the Lebanese army at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Carnegie Middle East Center, said the military had already lost more than 3,000 members since 2019, dropping to a force of 80,874 at the start of this year.

“Morale is low, officers are increasingly demoralised,” he told AFP.

Nerguizian said donors could provide “in-kind assistance that helps LAF (army) personnel gain access to staple goods they would otherwise spend their now-severely diminished salaries on,” such as food, fuel, and medicine.

But aid that supports salaries is “more difficult”.

“For most of the LAF’s Western partners, there are laws and mechanisms in place specifically not to have aid used in that way,” Nerguizian said.

“Those systems are in place to prevent corruption, nepotism, and a twisted form of dependence on foreign aid for the current portion of national defence spending.”

The United States remains the biggest financial backer of the Lebanese military, and has bumped up funding for the army by $15 million for this year to $120 million.

France, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey are among the army’s main food donors, while Iraq and Spain have offered medical assistance.

COAS Appointment: Military Denies Enforcing Mass Compulsory Retirement Of Officers

A file photo of the Chief of Army Staff, Major General Faruk Yahaya.

 

Military authorities have dispelled the rumour of mass compulsory retirement of senior military officers, following the appointment of the new Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Major General Farouk Yahaya.

The Acting Director of Defence Media Operation, Brigadier General Benard Onyeuko, faulted the claim at a press conference on Thursday at the Defence Headquarters in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

“At this point, you are all aware of the appointment of the new Chief of Army Staff, Major General Farouk Yahaya. This has stirred up a lot of rumours in the media about mass retirements in the military,” he told reporters at the briefing.

He added, “I wish to use this medium to dispel such unfounded rumours. Retirement is only on a voluntary basis for senior officers who desire to do so. At this point, no retirement has been authorised by the Military High Command.”

The military spokesman also highlighted some of the feats recorded by troops in the course of various operations in parts of the country.

According to him, there is no gainsaying that the military and the security agencies are committed to ensuring peace returns to the country.

Onyeuko also assured Nigerians that the military remained resolute to take decisive and adequate actions to abate the activities of terrorists and bandits, as well as other vices in Nigeria.

“The Military High Command will not be weary of appreciating the general public for their support and continue to encourage them to provide credible and timely information that will facilitate our proactive engagements in the theatres of operations.

“The Military High Command also lauds all efforts of the gallant troops of the Armed Forces and personnel of other security agencies involved in various operations across the country for their resilience and indefatigable commitment,” he said.

The successes recorded by troops are highlighted below:

Gentlemen of the Press, it is my honour and privilege to once again update you on the operational efforts of the Armed Forces of Nigeria and other security agencies conducting operations to tackle insecurity in our dear Country. This brief highlights our operational activities across the Country between 20 May and 2 June 2021.

The operations are the combined efforts of the military and other security agencies, involving land, maritime and air operations. It is worthy to note that these operations are conducted simultaneously in the various theatres of operation on daily basis across the Country.

The unrelenting and committed efforts of the gallant troops as well as the cumulative results of our operational activities in the various operations and specific events will be highlighted under the different operations.

Within the period in focus, troops of the Armed Forces of Nigeria intensified their operational efforts in the fight against terrorism, banditry, hoodlums and militancy as well as other criminalities across all the geo-political zones of the Country. Troops conducted series of clearance patrols, ambush, raid, picketing, cordon and search operations as well as artillery bombardments.

Others are anti-piracy, anti-illegal oil bunkering, anti-crude oil theft, anti-pipeline vandalism and anti-smuggling operations were also conducted within the period. There were also extensive air operations, which included air patrols, Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance missions, offensive air strikes, air interdictions, search and rescue operations as well as close air support for ground troops. These operations within the period yielded appreciable results.

 

Operation Hadin Kai

The troops of Operation HADIN KAI between 20 May and 2 June 2021 carried out series of operational activities. They rescued kidnapped victims, neutralized scores of terrorists, destroyed terrorists’ enclaves, arrested terrorists and intercepted terrorists’ logistics items including vehicles. On 20 May 2021, troops had contact and engaged BHT criminal elements in Gwoza LGA of Borno State.

This occurred as troops swiftly responded to a distress call by farmers on the attack on their location. Troops gallantly rescued the farmers. During the encounter, several terrorists were neutralized, while some others escaped with varying degrees of gunshot wounds.

Also on the same day, troops while conducting aggressive clearance operation on BHT’s hideouts at Ngaiwa, Tongunle, Washelle, Mo’o, Mudollo, Mugdalla and Amtul villages, all in Dikwa LGA of Borno State, killed scores of the terrorists and recovered large caches of arms and ammunition.

In related developments between 21 and 25 May, troops conducted cordon and search, raid operations and arrested BHT logistics suppliers at Ngamdu Town in Kaga LGA of Borno State, New Barracks Location along Damaturu – Potiskum road as well as Kukareta Town in Damaturu LGA of Yobe State. Items recovered during the operation include; large numbers of jerry can and drums of PMS, assorted arms and ammunition and assorted logistics items.

This large consignment of logistics has drastically dislocated the terrorists’ logistics network in the region. Meanwhile, on 23 May 2021, the Air Task Force of Operation HADIN KAI conducted extensive air interdiction missions near Gudumbali in Guzamal LGA and the Toumbuns of Lake Chad of Borno State. The air interdiction missions executed with various NAF platforms resulted in the neutralization of scores of BHT criminal elements and the destruction of their camps and logistics facilities.

 

Operation Hadarin Daji

Between 20 May and 2 June 2021, troops of Operation HADARIN DAJI conducted and executed series of concurrent operations. These operations led to the arrest of kidnappers/bandits and gun runners, rescue of kidnapped victims, repelling of armed bandits’ attack and neutralization of scores of armed bandits as well as recovery of caches of arms and ammunition.

These operational achievements were recorded during troops’ aggressive patrols’; response to distress calls as well raid and ambush operations. The operations were executed at Jalawa Village in Kibiya LGA of Kano State; Shombo Warari Market Road in Rijau LGA of Niger State; Lugu Village in Wurno LGA of Sokoto State; Hayin Daudu Village under Mada District in Gusau LGA of Zamfara State; Dangeza Road in Batsari LGA of Katsina State.

The troops of Operation HADARIN DAJI have remained vigilant and dominated the operational areas with constant aggressive patrols.

 

Operation Safe Haven

Troops of Operation SAFE HAVEN and other security agencies in the North Central Zone of the Country conducted several kinetic operations between 20 May and 2 June 2021. These operations resulted in the rescue of kidnapped victims, neutralization of scores of bandits, destruction of bandits’ hideouts and arrest of bandits.

On 20 May 2021, own troops conducted a raid operation at Gana Ropp Village in Barkin Ladi LGA of Plateau State. The operation which took out some illicit drug peddlers’ hideouts, led to the arrest of some of the peddlers and impoundment of large quantities of Cannabis Sativa. All arrested persons and recovered exhibits have been handed over to the relevant agency for prosecution.

In another development, on 24 May 2021, troops intervened in a clash between farmer/herder at Fubur in Jos East LGA of Plateau State. The clash which was provoked by the destruction of farmlands by herders’ cattle was amicably resolved by troops, who invited both parties to peaceful dialogue.

In a similar development, troops were able to restore normalcy by ensuring the release of a herder who was abducted by Berom youths at Byei Village in Riyom LGA of Plateau State. The swift intervention of troops in both incidents averted imminent reprisal and retaliatory actions that would have resulted in bloodsheds in the Region.

 

Operation Whirl Stroke

Troops operational activities in Operation WHIRL STROKE between 20 May and 2 June 2021 include the arrest of cultists and raid on bandits’ hideouts. On 20 May 2021, troops on the heels of credible intelligence arrested some cultists at Koko area of Adikpo Town in Kwande LGA of Benue State during a raid operation.

Exchange of gun fires ensued between the troops and the cultists during the encounter, before some of them were arrested. Some arms and ammunition, as well as other dangerous weapons, were recovered from the cultists; however, 2 of our troops paid the supreme price during the encounter.

In another encounter, troops of Operation WHIRL STROKE on 26 May 2021, neutralized several armed bandits and incapacitated some others in a raid operation. The raid operation was conducted on the bandits’ hideouts at a forest in Ankur Village in Katsina-Ala LGA of Benue State. Several arms and ammunition were also recovered from the criminal elements during the encounter.

 

Operation Thunder Strike/Whirl Punch

Troops within Operation THUNDER STRIKE/WHIRL PUNCH theatres of operations engaged in various kinetic operations between 20 May and 2 June 2021. On 23 May 2021, troops responded to a distress call on the abduction of four travellers along Gidan Waya – Godogodo – Jangindi Road in Jama’a LGA of Kaduna State.

The swift response by troops led to the rescue of 2 of the victims, while efforts are ongoing to rescue the remaining 2 victims. Also, on 24 May 2021, troops conducted a raid operation on a criminal hideout at Aiyedayo – Iyah – Gbede Road in Ijumu LGA of Kogi State. The kidnappers among other criminal activities abducted some residents from Iyah – Gbede Community a day before. During the operation, the criminals were arrested and handed over to the appropriate agency for prosecution.

 

Operation Delta Safe

The troops of Operation DELTA SAFE conducted series of kinetic operations against economic saboteurs and other socio-economic vices between 20 May and 2 June 2021. In Rivers State, troops immobilised several illegal refining sites along with numerous reservoirs and polythene bags of illegally refined oil products at different sites.

Troops also intercepted and deactivated boats and vehicles used for illegal bunkering and illegal economic activities as well as recovered large quantities of oil products and other items of economic value. The operations were conducted at Ibaa and Elele-Alimini general areas of Emohua LGA; Komkom Community in Oyigbo LGA; Isaka axis in Degema LGA and Okpoworo area in Ahoada LGA. Other locations were, Bonny Town, Tamgbolo – Susu Community and Samkiri Community general areas as well as Coconut Estate Waterways, all in Bonny LGA.

In Delta State, within the period in focus at different locations, troops arrested wooden boats and immobilized speed boats laden with contraband items and illegally refined oil products and crude oil in jerry cans. These operations took place at Abiteye area in Warri South and Opuama Creek in Warri North as well as Warri South LGAs of Delta State. Troops also arrested cultists on Oshoni Street at Ozoro in Isoko North LGA of the State. The arrested cultists have terrorized innocent people in the area.

In other encounters, own troops in Ikot Ekpene area arrested some IPOB/ESN members at Essien Udim LGA of Akwa-Ibom State following credible intelligence on the hoodlums’ activities in the area. The suspects were identified to be part of the IPOB/ESN members involved in the killing and burning of policemen and stations in the area.

Also, troops arrested some members of the Scorpion Confraternity, who have been terrorizing and robbing people at Ikong-Offiong in Akpabayo LGA of Cross River State. Relatedly, troops on 23 May 2021 repelled members of IPOB/ESN attack on troops at Amoka Village in Udi LGA of Enugu State. During the encounter, a member of the IPOB/ESN was neutralized in contact and some arms and ammunition were recovered.

Furthermore, troops arrested some members of IPOB/ESN, including one Mr Black who has been on the security operatives wanted list, at Ikot Akpan Town in Essien Udim LGA of Akwa-Ibom State. The criminals are reportedly among those responsible for the current wave of attacks, killings and burning of police operatives and stations in the Southern part of the Country. The hoodlums have been handed over to appropriate prosecuting agencies for necessary action.

 

Operation Awatse

Between 20 May and 2 June 2021, troops of Operation AWATSE maintained constant vigilance and operational tempo as well as patrolled our waterways. On 20 May 2021, troops of Operation AWATSE arrested some members of the Aiye Confraternity at Omiyale Junction in Owode Egbado Village, Yewa South LGA of Ogun State.

The cultists are said to be a group of notorious criminals who have been terrorizing innocent people in the area. The arrested cultists and weapons recovered have been handed over to the appropriate prosecuting agency for necessary action.

Buhari Directs National Flag To Fly At Half-Mast, Declares Monday Work-Free Day For Military Personnel

A file photo of the Nigerian flag.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has directed that the national flag be flown at half-mast in all public buildings, facilities, and official residences across the country.

The directive is with effect from Monday to Wednesday, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, announced in a statement on Sunday.

He explained that the presidential directive was to honour the memory and services of the late Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Ibrahim Attahiru, as well as the senior military officers and service members who died in a plane crash on Friday last week.

Mustapha added that the President has approved Monday as a work-free day for members of the Nigerian Armed Forces.

The remains of the late Attahiru and 10 other officers who died in the plane crash in Kaduna were laid to rest on Saturday at the National Military Cemetery in Abuja.

The late Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Ibrahim Attahiru and 10 other officers were buried on May 22, 2021 at the National Military Cemetery in Abuja. Sodiq Adelakun/Channels Television
The late Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Ibrahim Attahiru, and 10 other officers were buried on May 22, 2021, at the National Military Cemetery in Abuja. Sodiq Adelakun/Channels Television.

 

Other officers and who lost their lives included Brigadier-General MI Abdulkadir, Brigadier-General Olayinka, Brigadier-General Kuliya, Major LA Hayat, Major Hamza and Sergeant Umar.

Flight-Lieutenant TO Asaniyi, Flight-Lieutenant AA Olufade, Sergeant Adesina, and ACM Oyedepo also died in the crash

Elsewhere, President Buhari spoke with Mrs Fati Attahiru, the wife of the late Chief of Army Staff, on Sunday evening.

Details of his conversation are highlighted in the statement below signed by the President’s spokesman, Garba Shehu.

PRESIDENT BUHARI SPEAKS WITH FATI ATTAHIRU, PRAISES MILITARY’S EFFORTS TO FIGHT TERRORISM AND BANDITRY

President Muhammadu Buhari has described Lt. General Ibrahim Attahiru, the late Chief of Army Staff as an outstanding soldier and an institution builder, who fought valiantly for Nigeria until he breathed his last.

In a telephone conversation Sunday evening with Mrs. Fati Ibrahim Attahiru, the wife of the late COAS and the spouses of the other deceased officers through her, President Buhari hailed the sacrifices of the military men who lost their lives and the Armed Forces in general, saying that Nigerians will continue to appreciate and support the fearlessness with which our courageous soldiers are confronting the threats facing the nation.

He gave the grieving spouses assurances that the nation will never forget the supreme sacrifice of their spouses, urging them to take solace in the surge of extraordinary feelings of emotions across regions, religions, and tribes all over the country in appreciation of their sacrifices.

The President who had earlier given directives to the Defense headquarters and the Ministry of Defence to do everything a government can do to provide comfort and ease the hardships of the families of the deceased prayed to Almighty God to repose their souls and grant their families the fortitude to bear the losses.

Mrs Attahiru, on behalf of the rest of the families, thanked the President for the love and care he has shown to them.

Garba Shehu

Senior Special Assistant to the President

(Media & Publicity)

May 23, 2021

Military Remains Loyal To Nigeria’s Constitution, Civil Authority – DHQ

A file photo of soldiers on a military vehicle. Photo: Channels Television/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

The military is restating its commitment to the Nigerian Constitution with a promise that it will remain apolitical and loyal to the civil authority and the President who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.

Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu, who is the acting Director of Defence Information, made the pledge on behalf of the military in a statement on Monday.

The pledge of loyalty followed comments by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Robert Clark, which the military said suggested that the current political leadership should hand over power to it for the purpose of restructuring.

While distancing itself from the comment, the military pledged that it would continue to discharge its constitutional responsibilities professionally, especially in protecting the country’s democracy, defence of its territorial integrity, as well as protecting the lives and property of the citizens.

It added that the current security challenges in the country were not insurmountable, saying the Armed Forces and other security agencies were working assiduously to ameliorate the problems.

Read the full statement by the military spokesman below:

NIGERIAN MILITARY REMAIN LOYAL TO THE CONSTITUTION AND GOVERNMENT OF NIGERIA

The attention of the military high command has been drawn to a statement purported to have been made by one Robert Clark SAN, suggesting that current political leadership should hand over power to the military for the purpose of restructuring.

The Nigerian Military wishes to dissociate itself from such anti-democratic utterance and position.

Let it be stated categorically that the Armed Forces of Nigeria remain fully committed to the present Administration and all associated democratic institutions.

We shall continue to remain apolitical, subordinate to the Civil Authority, firmly loyal to the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari and the 1999 Constitution as Amended.

We shall continue to discharge our constitutional responsibilities professionally, especially in protecting the country’s democracy, defence of the territorial integrity of the country as well as protection of lives and properties of citizens.

The Military High Command wishes to use this opportunity to warn misguided politicians who nurse the inordinate ambition to rule this country outside the ballot box to banish such thoughts as the military under the current leadership remain resolute in the Defence of Nigeria’s Democracy and its growth.

We also wish to remind all military personnel that it is treasonable to even contemplate this illegality.

The full wrath of the law will be brought to bear on any personnel found to collude with people having such an agenda.

The current security challenges are not insurmountable. The Armed Forces of Nigeria in partnership with other security agencies are working assiduously to ameliorate the challenge. Nigeria will know peace again. PLEASE BE WARNED!

ONYEMA NWACHUKWU

Brigadier General

Acting Director Defence Information

3 May 2021

Senate Committee Summons Finance Minister Over Military Funding

A photo combination of Senator Ali Ndume and Finance Minister, Zainab Ahmed.
A photo combination of Senator Ali Ndume and Finance Minister, Zainab Ahmed.

 

The Senate committee on Army on Thursday summoned the Finance Minister, Zainab Ahmed, to give account of releases to the military for operation Lafiya Dole and the war on terrorism.

The committee issued the summons after the Minister was absent at a meeting called by the committee.

The Permanent Secretary of the ministry of Finance Aliyu Shinkafi represented the Minister but the committee was dissatisfied and insisted that the minister must appear before them.

The Permanent Secretary however told the committee that N75 billion was appropriated and released in 2019 while additional funds appropriated from the service wide votes was also released 100 percent. The sum of 2.5 billion was also released.

He added that In 2020, N75 billion was appropriated but N74.99 billion was released.

In 2021, N100 billion has been appropriated and N19.4 billion released for the first quarter.

Just yesterday, he said, the ministry released N19.95 billion for the second quarter.

However, Senator Ali Ndume, Committee Chairman, presented a letter from the Chief of Defence staff where he stated that military authorities complained of a shortfall in releases from the Finance ministry.

Military Seeks To End Inter-Agency Rivalry As JTF Commanders Report Directly To CDS

A file photo of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Lucky Irabor. Photo: [email protected]

 

Commanders of all ongoing joint task forces and joint operations will now report directly to the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Lucky Irabor, while such operations have been directly subordinated to the Defence Headquarters (DHQ).

This follows the decision of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), Nigerian Army, and Nigerian Navy to subordinate themselves to the DHQ, in a bid to end inter-agency rivalry within the military.

The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, stated this on Friday in Makurdi while on his maiden tour of the Tactical Air Command (TAC) in Benue State.

He believes that just as it is obtainable in military organisations worldwide, the DHQ is responsible for the command and control of the entire Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) and the new development is the new line the service chiefs have all agreed to tow as part of efforts to end the various security challenges in the country.

“When we say we are members of the AFN, we mean the three services represent a single entity.

“When we accept the fact that we the members of the AFN constitute a united entity, the need for rivalry will not arise,” the air chief was quoted as saying in a statement by NAF spokesman, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet.

 

Insubordination And Indiscipline

He also spoke of his administration’s resolve to revert to the military tradition of adherence to seniority and hierarchy in the appointment of officers to head command posts.

Amao stated that situations, where subordinate officers were given command appointments ahead of their seniors, do not mean well for the system, saying such have bred insubordination and indiscipline.

He added that there would be no sacred cows when it comes to discipline, saying those found wanting would be punished as ascribed in the Armed Forces Act.

The air chief also spoke about the impending arrival of some platforms purchased for the NAF to Makurdi and urged personnel to support the 131 Engineering Group, being the hub of some of the platforms, as well as make the foreign technicians feel at home.

Amao disclosed that the platforms, when fully operational, would be deployed immediately to the theatres of operations and should hopefully be the game changers in all DHQ led operations across the country.

He hinted that efforts were underway to improve the combat efficiency of the NAF and other services to an appreciable level, noting that such efforts have the support of the President.

The air chief gave an assurance that non-promotion of NAF personnel due to inability to attend courses that should enable their upgrading would be given special consideration, as soon as they meet the criteria set for the promotion.

On post-service housing schemes, he condemned the situation where personnel were compelled and put under financial duress just to meet up with initial deposits for the houses.

The visit, which had the Chiefs of Training and Operations, Logistics, Air Intelligence, and Aircraft Engineering in attendance, saw Amao tour various units within the TAC.

Over 600 Detained Coup Protesters Freed In Myanmar – Prison Official

This handout photo taken and released by Dawei Watch on March 23, 2021, shows protesters taking part in a demonstration against the military coup in Dawei. Handout / DAWEI WATCH / AFP

 

Myanmar on Wednesday freed more than 600 people detained in anti-junta protests, a senior prison official told AFP.

“We released 360 men and 268 women from Insein prison today,” a senior official from the jail told AFP, on condition of anonymity.

Details shortly.

Military Will Soon Crush Bandits, Kidnappers In North West – Air Force Chief

The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Isiaka Amao, says the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) will prioritise the welfare of its personnel to boost their morale in the line of duty. Photo: [email protected]

 

The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Isiaka Amao, on Wednesday vowed that kidnapping and banditry in the North West will soon be over.

Speaking during an operational visit to the Nigerian Airforce Base in Kaduna State, he warned the criminals to prepare for the worst.

He stated that the military would go after bandits and kidnappers in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive to bring back sanity and allow farmers to go to their farms without fear.

Amao gave an assurance that the military was ready to deal decisively with bandits, terrorists, and other criminals disturbing the peace in the country.

He also promised that the welfare of personnel of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) would be accorded a top priority in order to boost their morale in the line of duty.

READ ALSO: FBI Received 443 Internet Crime Complaints From Nigeria In 2020 – Report

While in Kaduna, the air chief paid a courtesy call on Governor Nasir El-Rufai at the Government House in the state capital.

He thanked the governor for his support to NAF in the state and commended him for his zeal towards tackling the security challenges in the state.

In his remarks, Governor El-Rufai thanked Amao for the visit and singled out NAF personnel in Kaduna for their professionalism, dedication, and particularly for their integrity in all dealings with the Kaduna State government.

He decried that for a long time, Nigerians have taken peace and security for granted until the current spate of insecurity afflicting the nation.

Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, insists that the state government will not pay any money to bandits. Photo: [email protected]

 

The governor called on all Nigerians to appreciate and support the efforts of the military as they continue to make efforts to keep the nation safe.

“The security situation could have been worse but for the efforts of our Armed Forces,” he was quoted as saying in a statement by NAF spokesman, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet.

Governor El-Rufai also stated that governors in the north-west region had agreed to assist the military, particularly in efforts at employing scientific measures towards containing insecurity.

On the payment of ransom to kidnappers, he reiterated the resolve of his government not to pay any ransom to bandits and kidnappers.

The governor went further to state that despite the threats of kidnapping, schools would continue to remain open, saying the decision was taken so as not to allow criminals to dictate the education of children in the state.

He also noted that the ability of the military to swiftly respond to kidnapping has further given the state the confidence to keep schools open.

More Military Recruitment Needed To Tackle Insecurity, Says Retired Colonel

New Salary Scale Has Not Been Approved For Armed Forces – DHQ
A file photo of soldiers.

 

A retired colonel, Tony Nyiam, has called for the recruitment of more military personnel to tackle the disturbing rate of insecurity in the country, especially banditry and terrorism.

Speaking during his appearance on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Monday, he decried that the present number of the military workforce was inadequate compared to the security threats in the nation.

“I have been saying that the military we have (in terms of force level) is too low. We have less than 200,000 soldiers for a country as populated as Nigeria, and insecurity is all over the place.

“Why I said the service chiefs who are coming are doing their best is that with what they have, they are doing their best,” Nyiam said.

He advised the Federal Government to take a cue from the regime of former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, who recruited scores of thousands of people into the military to boost the nation’s security.

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The former military officer noted that General Gowon, at the time, had a civil war to deal with, which he said was bigger than the present fight against banditry and insurgency.

He stated, “I always use the example of General Gowon who he came in and an army of less than 8,000 people; in less than six months, he built an army of over 200,000.

 

‘The General I Knew Before’

“And apart from building the army, he also ensured something that had been lacking – he ensured that the locals of the different areas played a part.”

“Gowon knew his shortcomings and he got in people like Chief Obafemi Awolowo, he had a very good Attorney-General, he had (Late Anthony) Enahoro, and he had the British who gave him access to the international (space),” Nyiam added.

Colonel Tony Nyiam commended President Buhari for rejecting negotiation with bandits.

 

According to him, President Muhammadu Buhari has not been reacting to the security situation as much until the last three weeks.

The colonel highlighted the two critical steps that must be taken by the President to include a formal declaration of war against banditry, terrorism, and other forms of criminality, and engaging the right set of advisers.

He commended President Buhari for rejecting the option of negotiating with bandits and his recent directive to security operatives on herdsmen with AK-47 rifles.

Nyiam, however, said the President should have made the directive clearer that only herdsmen carrying AK-47 who refuse to be disarmed should be shot.

“Those are two signs showing that Buhari who has never always talked about these AK-47 carrying herdsmen is saying ‘shoot them at first sight if you see them in the forest’.

“In other words, I think President Muhammadu Buhari is becoming the General Buhari I knew before,” the former military officer said.

Facebook Bans Myanmar Military Accounts Citing The Coup

Police advance with heavy construction equipment towards protesters demonstrating against the military coup in Yangon on February 22, 2021. Ye Aung THU / AFP

 

Facebook said it has banned all remaining accounts linked to the Myanmar military on Thursday, citing the junta’s use of deadly force against anti-coup demonstrators.

The move, which takes effect immediately, applies to the military and entities controlled by the armed forces on both Facebook and Instagram.

It also bans “military-linked commercial entities” from advertising on the platforms.

“Events since the February 1 coup, including deadly violence, have precipitated a need for this ban,” the social media giant said in a statement.

“We believe the risks of allowing the Tatmadaw on Facebook and Instagram are too great,” it added, using the Myanmar name for the country’s armed forces.

The junta has steadily increased its use of force against a massive and largely peaceful civil disobedience campaign demanding Myanmar’s army leaders relinquish power.

Three anti-coup protesters have been killed in demonstrations, while a man patrolling his Yangon neighbourhood against night arrests was also shot dead.

Facebook said its ban was intended to prevent Myanmar’s generals “from abusing our platform”.

The military has used Facebook to boost its claims that voter fraud marred an election last November after ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party won in a landslide.

Since seizing power, the junta has arrested hundreds of anti-coup protesters, ordered nightly internet blackouts and banned social media platforms — including Facebook — in an effort to quell resistance.

Thursday’s announcement follows Facebook’s earlier decision to kick off a page run by the regime’s “True News” information service after the tech giant accused it of inciting violence.

Pages for government offices now run by the junta remain unaffected.

“This ban does not cover government ministries and agencies engaged in the provision of essential public services,” the company said. “This includes the Ministry of Health and Sport, and the Ministry of Education.”

In recent years, hundreds of army-linked pages have been blocked by Facebook after the social media giant came under heavy criticism for its ineffective response to malicious posts in the country.

Junta chief Min Aung Hlaing and other top brass were booted from the platform in 2018, a year after a military-led crackdown forced around 750,000 members of the Rohingya Muslim community to flee into neighbouring Bangladesh.

Facebook admitted that year it had failed to do enough to prevent the incitement of violence in Myanmar.

“We can and should do more,” Facebook executive Alex Warofka said at the time.

AFP