Another member of his gang, Emenike Akam popularly known as Number One Red Squad General surrendered in Imo State on Monday, February 5, alongside over 200 cultists and militants.
Emenike Akam surrendered his arms alongside members of his gang. They appealed for state pardon calling on the state government to forgive them and that they are ready to reintegrate back into the society.
The arms and ammunition surrendered by the repentant cultists include explosives, rocket launchers, high-caliber rifles, pistols, AK-47 rifles, army and police uniforms, charms and other dangerous weapons.
Some of the gang members gave unemployment, hunger and poverty as reasons why they have towed the path they took.
Receiving the repentant militants and cultists at the Freedom Square in Owerri, the Imo State capital, Governor Rochas Okorocha said it is good news that the repentant cultists have decided to tow a new path and reintegrate back into the society. He said the state government will look for means to rehabilitate them and ensure that they are good citizens of the state.
“It is very shocking to note that most of the avengers and Don Wanney operatives are our sons and daughters we have them in the Ohaji/Egbema, Awara and other areas where people have been on self-exile for many years.
“But today these our children have decided on their own to come back to the society and be part of the society. They are doing so on their own, surrendering arms which they have used in committing criminal activities for what they called expression of grievances of different sorts,” he said.
He said further that the Imo State is ready to receive them and listen to them so as to integrate them back into the society.
The Ijaw Youth Council has pledged to do what it can to ensure development in the Niger Delta region.
The pledge was made during the national convention of the council held at Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State, south-south Nigeria.
According to the outgoing President of the council, Udengs Eradiri, the convention will produce a new leadership that would consider all issues that affect the youth, Ijaw nation and the Niger Delta region as a whole, most especially the final declaration of the resumption of the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko.
“Before now, Niger Delta youths were involved in a lot of things but today, we are trying to chart a new course and we’ve been able to put them together.
“For me, I believe that the ultimate achievement will be the declaration of resumption of the maritime university by the Muhammadu Buhari led administration; that process is one that will build the capacity of the Ijaws and develop our environment,” said Eradiri.
With a mandate to demand resource control, the new President of the council, Eric Omare, promised to do all he can to engage the Federal Government in a purposeful dialogue to achieve resource ownership.
While appreciating the confidence building activities created by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo’s recent visit, Omare stated the council’s interest in a lasting solution to the challenges faced in the Niger Delta region.
“Our mandate as Ijaw youths is to demand for resource control and self-determination; we will continue the agitation for resource control.
“We appreciate the fact that there are efforts to build confidence in the region by the Acting President, but let me say that we are no longer interested in the short solutions to the Niger Delta problems.
“We are only interested in long term solutions and that long term solution lies in resource control or true federalism as the case might be.
“So any solution to the Niger Delta problem without addressing resource ownership is unacceptable to the youth council and Ijaw nation in general.
“In the days ahead, we will engage the Nigerian Government to ensure they carry out a purposeful dialogue towards ensuring this,” the new council president said.
The new officers elected are expected to manage the affairs of the organisation from March 2017 till March 2020.
A new division of the Nigerian Army, Six Division, has been established in Port Harcourt to take care of the security issues in the Niger Delta region.
The division is headed by Major General Kasimu Abdulkarim.
The development was made known to reporters in Delta State after a meeting between the Governor of the State, Mr Ifeanyi Okowa and the General Officer Commanding (GOC) the division, Major General Abdulkarim.
Major General Abdulkarim said that they were in Asaba to brief Governor Okowa on the establishment of the new 6 Division with Headquarter in Port Harcourt and the new brigade in Asaba and to seek his support in meeting the challenges of the establishment.
He explained that the new Division, which would cover Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Delta States, would handle the security challenges in the region and help improve security.
The head of the division also told the Delta State governor that a new brigade would be established in Asaba, the capital of Delta State.
On his part, Governor Okowa called for synergy among stakeholders in the Niger Delta region to tackle myriad of security issues.
He told the army that it was imperative for the stakeholders including the security agencies, traditional rulers, opinion leaders, elders and youths to partner together to improve peace and security in the region.
“I am glad that a new division has been established to take care of the security issues in the region.
“Also, that a new brigade will be established in Asaba, Delta State, this will help improve security in the state. I want to commended the synergy among the security agencies in the state which has led to improved security and ensure peace,” he said.
Governor Okowa commended Major General Abdulkarim on his appointment as the GOC of the new Division and assured him of the government’s support in the provision of the necessary infrastructure for the takeoff of the Division and the brigade in Asaba.
The army has increased military presence in the Niger Delta region to quell resurging militancy which has forced the oil output of the nation to drop below two million barrels per day.
Governor Ben Ayade has announced the appointment of 1106 persons in Cross River State.
They are appointed as special advisers, special assistants, personal assistants as well as the Chairmen and members of Board, commissions, departments and agencies.
The appointment is in addition to the over 800 others which Governor Ayade had earlier made.
A breakdown of the appointment shows that 799 were appointed into various boards, commissions and agencies.
The remaining 307 appointees are: six special advisers, 30 senior special advisers, 75 special assistants, 25 personal assistants, 16 personal assistants to paramount rulers and 90 representatives of each local government in the State Food Bank Unit.
Others are, 21 liaison officers for the 18 local government areas and three senatorial districts, 18 special assistants on religious affairs and 26 permanent secretaries.
A statement by the Governor’s spokesman, Mr Christian Ita, on Tuesday says the appointments take effect from November 1, 2016.
Ogun State Government has expressed its readiness to collaborate with development partners in the area of mechanised cassava production and its value chains.
The government explains that the partnership is a way of diversifying the economic base of the state in southwest Nigeria.
The expression of interest was communicated by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr Taiwo Adeoluwa, who represented the State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, at a workshop on mechanised cassava production.
The government informed the gathering that there was a provision in the 2017 Budget for the opening up of about 1,000 hectares of farmlands for cassava farming in the state.
The training which took place on Tuesday in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital brought together agriculture experts and development partners from Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and the United States.
Some experts, Enorck Chikava and Adebayo Sangobiyi, raised concerns over the best practices in commercial and mechanised cassava production and agro-processing, stressing the need to ensure that such engagements sustain grow and develop the nation’s economy.
They also addressed some of the challenges facing the sector with a view to exploring some of the available options such as effective government intervention, more funds for research and development as well as improved seedlings among others.
Economy In Recession
Nigeria is the highest cassava producer in the world with at least 50 million metric tonnes per year.
However, the output per unit is very low as a result of the numerous challenges grappling with the agriculture sector, one of which is the recession in Africa’s most populated country.
The report revealed that Nigeria’s real Gross Domestic Product was expected to increase marginally by 0.6% with Consumer Prices rising by 17.1%, effectively lifting the country out of an officially declared recession.
Attacks On Oil Facilities
The recession was triggered by the drop in the price of crude oil and the attacks on the nation’s oil facilities by some militant groups in the Niger Delta region.
Disturbed by the spate of the militants’ activities, the Nigerian Army launched a special team code named “Operation Crocodile Smile”, amidst agreement between the government and the militants to hold talks after a ceasefire agreement from both sides.
Despite this agreement, several other attacks have been launched on oil installation by the Niger Delta Avengers and another splinter group.
The Nigerian Navy has deployed maritime security stations with fully equipped surveillance gadgets and gunboats to choke points in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region.
The Navy says the deployment is in line with efforts to sustain the fight against crude oil theft and other maritime crimes across the country.
The Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Naval Command, Rear Admiral James Oluwole, made the disclosure during an operation visit to the latest deployment to Cawthorne Channel in Kalabari in Akuku Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State.
He noted that more stations would be deployed to the choke points which have been identified as routes for high rate of crude oil theft and other insecurity challenges.
In his remark, the Commander of NNS Pathfinder, Commodore Obi Egbuchulam, revealed that 120,000 litres of crude oil which he said was careful disguised has been uncovered by the station.
He said that the development was unfortunate due to the fact that the price of crude oil had dropped drastically.
President Buhari expressed disappointment that a minimum of 27 states, out of 36 states in Nigeria were unable to pay worker’s salaries.
“We Did Not Save”
“Those who stole Nigeria dry are not happy. They recruited the militants against us in the Niger Delta and began to sabotage oil infrastructure.
“We lose millions of barrels per day, at a time when every dollar we can earn, counts.
“It is a disgrace that a minimum of 27 states, out of 36 that we have in Nigeria, can’t pay salary,” he said.
On what led to Nigeria’s economic recession, President Buhari said: “We got into trouble as a country, because we did not save for the rainy day.
“For example, between 1999 and 2015, when we produced an average of 2.1 million barrels of oil per day, and oil prices stood at an average of $100 per barrel, we did not save, neither did we develop infrastructure. Suddenly, when we came in 2015, oil prices fell to about $30 per barrel.
“I asked; where are the savings? There were none. Where are the railways? The roads? Power? None. I further asked; what did we do with billions of dollars that we made over the years? They said we bought food. Food with billions of dollars? I did not believe, and still do not believe.
“In most parts of Nigeria, we eat what we grow. People in the South eat tubers, those in the North eat grains, which they plant, and those constitute over 60 per cent of what we eat. So, where did the billions of dollars go?
“We did a lot of damage to ourselves by not developing infrastructure when we had the money.
“Talking of our military, they earned respect serving in places like Burma, Zaire, Sudan, Liberia, Sierra-Leone, and then, suddenly, that same military could no longer secure 14 out of 774 local governments in the country. Insurgents had seized them, calling them some sort of caliphate, and planting their flags there; till we came, and scattered them.
“We raised the morale of our military, changed the leadership, re-equipped and retrained them; USA, Britain, and some other countries helped us, and today, the pride of our military is restored.
“Boko Haram ran riot, killing innocent people in churches, mosques, markets, schools, motor parks, and so on. And they would then shout Allahu Akbar.
“But if they truly knew Allah, they would not do such evil. Neither Islam, nor any other religion I know of, advocates hurting the innocent.
“But they shed innocent blood, killed people in their thousands. Now, we have dealt with that insurgency and subverted their recruitment base.
“Those who stole Nigeria dry are not happy. They recruited the militants against us in the Niger Delta, and began to sabotage oil infrastructure. We lose millions of barrels per day, at a time when every dollar we can earn, counts.
“After 16 years of a different party in government, no party will come and have things easy. It’s human. We need quality hands to run Nigeria, and we will utilise them. I will like to welcome you home when it’s time. But I’ll like you to be ready,” the President told the gathering.
‘Working On Government Structure’
President Buhari further told them that his administration was working on a government structure that would effectively engage their skills and expertise.
He agreed that distinguished Nigerians in the diaspora had a role to play in Nigeria’s development, promising to provide a conducive environment for them to thrive.
“I assure you that we are trying to be systematic in the government to organise the government properly.
“When we do that, we will get the ministries to function and we will need quality people to come along and help it to move fast,” President Buhari told the gathering.
All the Nigerian professionals pledged to contribute their quota towards re-launching their fatherland to a new dawn.
They assured the President of their support and willingness to come and offer their services to Nigeria like they do in the U.S.
For some of the professionals at the meeting there is no better time to return home than now.
“The determination to have structure in place, I think it will be encouraging for some of us in the diaspora to come back and participate because that is the structure we know here that we are used to,” one of those at the meeting said.
There are many Nigerian professional in the United States and around the world and leveraging on their expertise would be a boost for the nation in economic recession.
The Nigerian military has warned the various militant groups in the Niger Delta region against hiding under regional agitation to commit all manners of crimes and atrocities.
The Defence Headquarters gave the caution on Tuesday in a statement to alert the general public of the disturbing spate of crimes allegedly committed by the groups.
They pointed out the latest of the groups, the Niger Delta Greenland Justice Mandate (NDGJM), claimed responsibility for blowing up an oil pipeline belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation few days ago in south-south Nigeria.
The Defence Headquarters stated in clear terms, “that no group or individual has the right to threaten or force residents in any part of Nigeria, to abandon their homes in obeisance to certain group’s selfish and devilish interest.
“It is more worrisome that despite the Federal Government’s olive branch to broker peace and proffer solution to the lingering Niger Delta problem, some groups are still fanning the ember of war.
“The military and other security agencies would remain focused, un-intimidated and will display professionalism in ensuring adequate security to lives and property”.
Enhancing Civil-Military Relationship
While the military respects the government’s negotiation with relevant stakeholders in the Niger Delta, they explained that their exercise and operations in the area were not targeted at any group or meant to make life difficult for the inhabitants.
“The ongoing exercise is geared towards enhancing civil-military relationship and building the confidence of the resident on the ability of the military to protect them.
“The exercise also demonstrates the strength of the troops to purge the region of criminals and economic saboteurs.
“The Armed Forces would not tolerate any form of criminality in that region,” the statement read.
The military and other security agencies also reaffirmed their total commitment to ensuring security of lives and property, not only in the Niger Delta, but across Nigeria.
They solicited the cooperation of all the stakeholders, including the royal fathers, leaders and youths to achieve the feat.
The Defence Headquarters also urged the public, especially those residing in Niger Delta, to discountenance the threat, asking innocent citizens and residents to go about their legitimate businesses.
Officials of the American Embassy, led by the Deputy Chief of Mission, Mr David Young, are in Delta State in Nigeria’s south-south for an all-embracing dialogue involving all stakeholders in the Niger Delta region.
At a meeting with the Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, held in Asaba, the capital of the State, Mr Young said that their visit was part of measures toward finding lasting solutions to the crisis in the region which had crippled oil production.
Addressing reporters after the visit to the Delta State government, Mr Young said that the U.S. government believed that dialogue was very important in resolving grievances and there is a need to encourage Nigerians to exploit mechanisms for dialogue in moving forward.
The Governor of Delta State suggested the creation of an environment that would foster peace and tranquility, adding that the state government have also made efforts to forestall peace in the delta region.
The Niger Delta region encompasses about 8% of Nigeria’s landmass and with oil drilling in the region, the nation’s economy was stimulated.
Numerous multinational corporations also established oil operations in the region with very high stakes.
The activities of the oil companies have caused several environmental and economic issues in the region, leading to militancy in the past.
In recent times, there has been a resurgence of militant activities in the region with new groups taking up arms and attacking oil installations in the region.
A militant group known as Niger Delta Avengers has claimed responsibility for the recent attacks on oil-producing facilities causing the shutdown of oil terminals and a fall in Nigeria’s oil production to its lowest level.