JTF slays three Boko Haram members in Maiduguri

The Boko Haram sect on Sunday killed a former police officer and two of his friends in a shootout that also claimed lives of three members of the dreaded sect.

Lagos Street, Maiduguri

Spokesman of the JTF, Lieutenant Colonel Sagir Musa said militants attacked soldiers in the city of Maiduguri in a raid launched late Saturday, triggering a fierce gun battle that lasted until early Sunday.

“The attack was repelled. Sect members retreated through narrow paths to different locations only to re-organise and shoot dead a retired police inspector and two of his friends right in front of his house.”

Musa said three Boko Haram members were killed in the shootout.

One resident said about 20 gunmen attacked a police station with rifles and explosives.

“There was a shootout that continued throughout the night and around 200 residents were forced to lie on their faces along the streets to avoid being caught in crossfire,” he said.

Another local man said he saw six dead bodies.

“The shooting continued throughout the night, we did not sleep,” he said.

Boko Haram, blamed for a wave of attacks mainly in northern Nigeria, has targeted mostly the police and other symbols of authority in Africa’s most populous nation including clerics and worship places.

 

EFCC arrests OSOPADEC boss

Mr. Debo Ajimuda, the chairman of the Ondo State Oil Producing Area Development Commission (OSOPADEC), was arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for alleged corrupt practices.

The crime fighting body had arrested the chairman at his Ijapo residence in Akure, carting away bags of useful document evidence and 13 exotic cars.

According to reports, the EFCC staff had first sought out the elusive Ajimuda at his office, but were accosted by hostile employees who refused to let them go.

Commissioner of Police for the state, Garba Mohammed, had interfered in the skirmish, however, resulting in the release of the anti-graft agents who then made their way to the chairman’s residence.

The EFCC had been investigating Ajimuda’s activities, trailing him for two weeks before making their move. Ajimuda, as well as two other officials of the commission, are wanted by the EFCC over alleged criminal diversion and embezzlement of public funds, a source disclosed.

“Ajimuda claims to have spent N61.363billion between 2001 and 2011 but this is said to be a far cry from the over N100billion received by the commission within the same period.

“The petitioners alleged that the projects claimed to have been executed by the commission were either abandoned or do not exist at all.”

Head of Media and Publicity for the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, confirmed the arrests, saying Ajimuda needs to “clarify some issues”, including verifying whether projects budgeted for were actually executed.

The EFCC officials had reportedly arrived at his premises at about 6 a.m. on Tuesday and upon learning of their presence, Ajimuda had taken flight, scaling the fence of his property and hiding in an uncompleted building next door.

Ajimuda’s wife had tried covering his tracks as well, telling EFCC officials that he was not at home. However, the officials refused to leave the premises and set up surveillance around the premises to ensure he did not escape.

Tired of the wait, the OSOPADEC boss, clad in boxer shorts and a white undershirt, emerged from his hiding place at about 2:30 p.m. and was taken in by the officials.

Ondo State’s Commissioner for Information, Mr. Kayode Akinmade said the investigation of the EFCC was a step in the right direction, but was wary of the methods used to arrest Ajimuda.

He insisted that OSOPADEC boss should have been invited for questioning by EFCC officials first before a forceful arrest is made.

He said, “It is not proper for the anti graft agency to just invade the office and home of the OSOPADEC boss and arrest the man without any formal invitation.”

Akinmade welcomed the investigation, adding that the Commission had nothing to hide.

Murdered banker: Stepmother confirms husband was abusive

The case of late banker, Titilayo Omosoje Arowolo who was allegedly murdered by her husband, Akolade Arowolo came up today at the Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja.

The victim’s step mother, Mrs Adetoun Yeside Oyakhire, told the court that the relationship between the couple was already strained before her murder.

An emotional Mrs.Oyakhire, who was the fifth prosecution’s witness, gave a vivid account of the harrowing relationship that existed between the deceased and her husband during their two-year-long marriage.

She told Justice Lateefa Okunnu that the last time the deceased came running home in January 2011 and had told her father that she was tired of the marriage and wanted to file for divorce.

According to Mrs Oyakhire, Titilayo had told her family that her housekeeper had reportedly caught her husband in bed with another woman. The deceased had also discussed the matter of his infidelity with his mother before moving back to her father’s house.

The witness, who was led in evidence by the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Mrs. Olabisi Ogungbesan, told the court that the late Titilayo’s father, before going back to Kano, warned her not to return to her husband’s house.

The stepmother said that Titilayo however went back to her husband when he came in April to beg and asked for forgiveness adding “I think he succeeded in convincing her that he is a changed person”.

In another account, Mrs Oyakhire said that three months after their marriage, they had a quarrel.

“I can’t remember how it started but I remembered that Kolade chased her round the house with a knife. She was still breast feeding her baby then. He succeeded in snatching the baby from her and took her to his mother at Ejigbo”.

She said that Akolade’s mother later brought the baby back to Titilayo in her father’s house.

In yet another account the step mother told the court that Akolade had at a time threatened to throw the deceased from a top floor and that her father advised her to report the threat at the police station for documentation “but I am not sure she did”.

The fourth prosecution witness, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Titus Ogbonna who testified before Mrs Oyakhire had told the court that based on the investigation he conducted, he was certain that Akolade Arowolo murdered his wife, Titilayo Omosoje Arowolo.

He stressed that he based his conclusion on the findings in the investigation he conducted into the matter.

Under cross examination by the counsel to the defence, Mr. Olanrewaju Ajanaku, the ASP also told the court that there was enough circumstantial evidence linking Arowolo to the death of his wife, Titilayo.

The case was adjourned until 27 March when the hearing will continue.

We did not kidnap and kill Italian and British expatriate – Boko Haram

The radical Islamic sect, Boko Haram on Friday denied any involvement in the kidnap of the two foreign nationals that were killed during a botched rescue mission in Sokoto state.

A man identified as the spokesman of the group, Abul Qaqa Boko told reporters in a conference call on that the fundamentalist sect does not engage in hostage taking and demand for ransom.

“We have never been involved in hostage-taking and it’s not part of our style, and we never ask for ransom” he said, adding that “we are not behind the hostage taking … which led to the military operation yesterday in Sokoto in which the hostages were killed”.

British engineer, Chris McManus, 28 and his Italian colleague, Francesco Molinara, 48, were shot dead by their captors in Sokoto during a rescue operation led by British Special Boat Services and Nigerian military troops in a bid to free them.

The group that has staged numerous violent attacks across northern Nigeria stated that “we know how to settle our scores with anybody. Therefore the allegation that the kidnappers were members of our group is ridiculous.”

“Nigeria’s government had better get its facts straight and find the true identity of the kidnappers” Qaqa added.

“They should not use us to mask their incompetence.”

Chevron gas well fire off Nigeria coast no longer burning

After 46 days, the deadly fire that razed a Chevron Corp. rig off the southern coast of oil rich Nigeria has stopped, the company said in a press release Monday.

According to the statement, the fire that erupted on 16 January at the Funiwa field 10km off Nigeria’s Bayelsa State, killing two contract workers from India and France, ceased burning on Friday, March 2.

“The well stopped flowing on its own,” the statement read.

The Associated Press reported that the spokesman for the company, Russell A. Johnson, said Chevron had only confirmed the fire extinguished on Tuesday.

In the statement, the oil corporation said it “detected no natural gas flowing from the well since the fire ceased burning and is monitoring the area continuously.”

Johnson assured that Chevron would continue to dig the relief well nearby to “permanently plug and abandon Funiwa 1A.”

“We continue to watch to ensure gas doesn’t begin to flow,” Johnson said.

The company is still looking into the cause of the fire that has caused severe environmental damage to the region.

However, the Nigerian government claims a “gas kick”, a major build up of gas pressure from drilling, could have started the fire.

House summons Foreign Affairs Minister over SA deportation

Arik Air Suspends Johannesburg Flights

Eager to ward off a looming diplomatic row between Nigeria and South Africa over the deportation of 125 Nigerians from South Africa on Friday, the House of Representatives has summoned Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gbenga Ashiru, to appear before it on Tuesday.

Chairperson of the House of Representatives’ committee on foreign affairs, Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje, says the country is concerned with growing maltreatment of Nigerians in foreign countries, calling the latest deportation of 125 Nigerians, over the alleged failure to provide genuine yellow fever vaccination documentations, a grave insult.

“The outcome of the meeting will shape our next line of action as a parliament in our foreign policy direction and relationship with these countries. We cannot allow these insults on our citizens and country continues unabated’’ she said.

The permanent secretary, ministry of foreign affairs, Martin Uhomoibhi said the ministry was surprised at what happened in South Africa.

“These Nigerians have legitimate visas, and the yellow card was part of the packages that needed to be cleared before they are given visas,” he said.

Mr Uhomoibhi said another question that his ministry is seeking answer is “why those who travel from here to South Africa who are South African not get the same treatment with or without yellow card?”

He said the ministry is already in dialogue with the South African authority to resolve the issue as soon as possible.

The deportees, 75 who had arrived via South African Airways (SAA) and 50 passengers coming in with Arik Air, had been returned to Nigeria hours after their arrival on Thursday, including some who had visited the country several times before.

The mass deportation has frayed relations between both countries, with Arik Air announcing that it was suspending flights to South Africa for the time being.

Adebanji Ola, head of communications for the airline, said the decision to suspend flights between the commercial hubs of both African countries “was taken due to the ongoing dispute between international airlines operating in Johannesburg and the Port Health Authorities over Yellow Fever documentation being presented to authorities at OR Tambo International Airport by passengers”.

The passengers were denied entry into South Africa when Port Health authorities claimed that the batch numbers on the vaccination documentation provided by the travelers had been incorrect.

“Arik has reached the conclusion that the irregular and obfuscating nature of this protocol is having an impact on its passengers and does not wish to proceed with operations into a country where its customers are at risk of detainment or any other measures meted out arbitrarily by the authorities,” the company said in a statement.

Group CEO/President of Arik Air, Dr. Michael Arumeni-Ikhide, said while he had been informed that the “current crack-down is not unique to Nigeria and its inbound passengers”, he is determined to take a stand to “show the Port Health Authorities we are simply not prepared for our customers to be treated in this manner”.

Mr. Tope Awe, spokesperson for South Africa Airways assured that the national carrier had made concerted efforts to avoid deportation of Nigerians.

He said the airline had gone to great lengths to authenticate the vaccination documents, but had been unable to do so; the country’s government had insisted that the deported passengers had failed to meet Port Health criteria and as such must be sent back to Nigeria.