UPDATED: Buhari Declares Zamfara ‘No-Fly Zone’, Bans Mining Activities

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has declared Zamfara a ‘no-fly zone’ and banned all mining activities in the state.

The National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd), who announced this on Tuesday in Abuja, explained that it was part of measures to tackle the security challenges witnessed in the north-western state.

He made the disclosure to State House correspondents after a five-hour National Security Council meeting presided over by the President at the Presidential Villa in the nation’s capital.

A no-fly zone, also known as a no-flight zone, or air exclusion zone, is a territory or area established by a military power over which certain aircraft are not permitted to fly.

READ ALSO: We Will See Better Security In Nigeria, Presidency Assures Nigerians

General Monguno also stated that all non-state actors have been placed under surveillance as the Federal Government will not hesitate to use kinetic means to restore normalcy in the country.

File photo of President Muhammadu Buhari in a meeting with Zamfara State Governor at the State House in Abuja

 

The NSA said the country’s defence and intelligence organization have been put on alert and charged not to allow the country to slide into a state of anarchy.

Monguno also said the President, in the meeting, gave a marching order to the new service chiefs to reclaim all areas under the control of bandits, insurgents, and kidnappers.

President Buhari had earlier in February held a meeting with Zamfara State Governor Mohammed Mattawalle at the State House in Abuja.

The governor after the meeting told journalists at the presidential villa that he was summoned by the President to brief him on the security situation in his state.

Mattawalle added that 358 special police forces have been deployed by the Federal Government to the state to tackle banditry.

We Will See Better Security In Nigeria, Presidency Assures Nigerians

Presidential spokesman Femi Adesina speaks during an interview  on Channels Television’s Politics Today

 

The Presidency has assured Nigerians of improved security in the country despite reports of abductions and killings in several parts of the nation.

Speaking during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Monday, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina said President Muhammadu Buhari is committed to tackling the security challenges the country grapples with.

“We will see better security in this country, that is what the President is telling the country,” Adesina said.

“No President expects the citizens of his country to be abducted, kidnapped or killed. President Buhari is determined to step up the war against insecurity.”

READ ALSO: Gunmen Storm Secondary School In Zamfara, Kidnap Scores Of Female Students

The presidential spokesman explained that President Buhari had sworn in 2015 and 2019 respectively to protect the lives and properties of Nigerians, noting that his principal is committed to the pledge.

As part of efforts to containing the worsening insecurity in the country, Adesina said President Buhari would convey a security meeting tomorrow at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

Security Is Everybody’s Business

To Adesina, the issue of security is not just left for the security agencies alone but to all Nigerians in the country.

He advised Nigerians to be wary of the immediate environment, charging them to report suspicious movements of strange people to security operatives.

“Everybody is part of the security architecture in the country. It is just that the responsibility weighs heavier on one person or the other, but we all are part of it.

“If we have the mind-set that everything about security is the duty of the President that can only be wrong. Yes, the President has the responsibility to guarantee safety of lives and properties.”

Adesina’s remarks come at a time when the nation is facing serious security threats ranging from kidnappings to banditry, terrorism to militancy among several others.

Just three days ago, gunmen stormed a government secondary school in Jangebe, Zamfara State, kidnapping over 300 female students from their dormitories.

The latest abduction in Zamfara is happening when banditry is increasingly threatening the peace of the nation, especially from within the northeastern and northwestern region.

About five weeks ago, gunmen also attacked the Government Science College Kagara in Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State.

The incident which took place on February 17 occurred at about 2:00 am when the gunmen shot sporadically with one student feared killed and several others abducted.

Some teachers and their family members residing within the college staff quarters were also said to have been abducted by the gunmen.

CAN To Buhari: Order Military To Rescue Pastor Abducted By Boko Haram

A photo combination of President Muhammadu Buhari and the CAN President, Samson Ayokunle.

 

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately order the military to rescue Pastor Bulud Yakuru from the Boko Haram terrorists before it is too late.

Pastor Yakuru of EYN Church of the Brethren was reportedly abducted on December 24, 2020, when the terrorists attacked Pemi Village in Borno State and killed no fewer than seven people.

The Pastor who has been in the custody of the Abubakar Shekau-led faction of Boko Haram since last year was on Wednesday reportedly given a one-week ultimatum for their demands to be met by the government or Pastor Yakuru will be killed.

In a statement issued on Saturday, CAN President, Samson Ayokunle, said although the association is not aware of the demand, it, however, appealed to the Federal Government to secure the cleric’s release.

“Our appeal is to the President, the military and the Borno State government to ensure that Pastor Yakuru is not murdered like the district chairman of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (EYN) and CAN Chairman of Michika Local Government in Adamawa State, Rev Lawan Andimi,” the statement partly read.

“The leadership of CAN believes that the freedom of Pastor Yakuru is a litmus test for the new Service Chiefs and the whole world is watching whether they will live up to the expectations of or not.

“If the then American President,  Donald Trump could put his acts together from far away America and ordered his military to rescue one kidnapped American in Nigeria, then our President has no excuse or whatsoever not to act decisively and rescue Pastor Yakuru.

“Why should the government leave the citizens of this country at the mercy of insurgents, bandits and kidnappers? What then is the essence of having a government in place?”

CAN recalled that the recent abductions of schoolchildren, describing the most kidnap of over 300 schoolgirls in Zamfara State as shocking.

See statement here:

The most recent case of kidnapping is that of about three hundred school girls in Kangere, Zamfara State. This serial incident of mass abduction of our school children and citizens is shocking beyond words and must be stopped by this government immediately. The ease with which the bandits and insurgents are carrying out their nefarious activities is totally embarrassing and a cause for concern. When will this government give the citizens of this country cause to breathe a sigh of relief with assurance that their lives and property are safe and secured?

Mr. President, where shall we go from here? Have the criminals taken over where there is legitimate government? Though we are praying earnestly continuously, we know faith without hard work from the side of government is vain. While we are aware that you may be doing your best, your best is not the best yet going by the current negative outcomes. The bitter truth is that, no place is presently safe in this country.

We, once again, advise that all public secondary schools – boarding or otherwise – in the Northern part of the country should be closed henceforth until the security situation improves. The Police should be directed to recruit more personnel with a view to assigning effective and well armed standby force to every secondary school in the North and other parts of the country. From all indications, it is high time the government declared a state of emergency in the security sector of the country. We also call for adequate funding, training, equipping and morale boosting of our security forces in order to enhance their performances nationwide. It seems the banditry is more dangerous than COVID-19. While individuals can protect themselves from the pandemic, the same cannot be said of the security challenges. Let the government stop every frivolous spending and focus more on ending the menace of insecurity challenges.

May God intervene for us in this nation where human efforts have failed in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Signed

His Eminence

Rev Dr Samson Ayokunle, the President, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN)

27 February, 2021

Insecurity: DSS Arrests Ganduje’s Aide Yakasai

Salihu Tanko Yakasai, an aide to Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje.

 

 

The Department of State Services (DSS) has arrested a Special Adviser to Kano State Governor, Salihu Tanko Yakasai.

Yakasai’s arrest followed his demand for the resignation of President Muhammadu Buhari and governors of the All Progressives Congress (APC) due to increasing insecurity in the country.

On Friday, he had in a series of tweets criticised the Buhari-led administration over the nation’s security challenges, saying “Buhari is insensitive and lacks empathy.”

Channels Television gathered that the governor’s aide was declared missing yesterday evening by his families and friends.

READ ALSO: #EndSARS: Lagos Panel To Hear Petitions Against Military Despite Their Absence

Abubakar Sadiq who is the handler of the Twitter handle and official website of the Kano state government, in a tweet posted on Saturday morning, disclosed that Salihu is with the DSS.

Meanwhile, the secret service is yet to confirm or deny his arrest.

Activist, Aisha Yesufu and others have taken to Twitter to demand his release.

Few months ago Salisu was suspended by Governor Ganduje following a related tweet but was later reinstated.

State Govts Must Stop Their Policy Of Rewarding Bandits With Money, Vehicles – Buhari

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has called on state governments to review their policy of rewarding bandits with money and vehicles, warning that the policy might boomerang disastrously.

President Buhari stated this on Friday via his Twitter handle, asking state and local governments to beef up security around schools.

“State Governments must review their policy of rewarding bandits with money and vehicles. Such a policy has the potential to backfire with disastrous consequences,” he said.

“States and Local Governments must also play their part by being proactive in improving security in & around schools.”

The President, according to a statement issued by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, also sent out a strong warning to bandits and their sponsors, noting that his administration would not succumb to the bandits’ blackmail.

“This administration will not succumb to blackmail by bandits who target innocent school students in the expectations of huge ransom payments,” Buhari was quoted as saying.

“No criminal group can be too strong to be defeated by the government,” adding that, “the only thing standing between our security forces and the bandits are the rules of engagement.”

“We have the capacity to deploy massive force against the bandits in the villages where they operate, but our limitation is the fear of heavy casualties of innocent villagers and hostages who might be used as human shields by the bandits. Our primary objective is to get the hostages safe, alive and unharmed.”

Buhari’s reaction comes hours after gunmen abducted over 300 students of Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe in Zamfara State.

He condemned the abduction, describing the kidnapping as inhumane and totally unacceptable.

Buhari Meets Newly Confirmed EFCC Chairman

 

President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday met with the newly confirmed Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa.

They met behind closed-door at the Statehouse in Abuja.

The Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, joined in the meeting minutes after it commenced.

Though the agenda of the meeting was not confirmed, the discourse is not unconnected with Bawa’s mandate as the new EFCC boss.

READ ALSO: Bawa Denies Selling Assets Seized By EFCC In Port Harcourt


On Wednesday, February 24, the Nigerian Senate confirmed Abdulrasheed Bawa as the new chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

while appearing before the lawmakers, Bawa said his performance as EFCC boss will pave new paths to governance for young Nigerians.

He said, “I am going to give the young people a very good representation in the governance of this country so that more young people will be given more responsibility in this country.” 

Bawa who was confirmed after being screened by the legislators said it is the dream of every patriotic Nigerian to see the nation growing to a greater height, adding that he will love to contribute his quota in seeing that the country soars.

Earlier while introducing himself and his goal for the antigraft agency, the EFCC Chief stated that he would love to help the nation recover all stolen assets for the betterment of Nigerians.

The seasoned investigator said he will work with strategic partners around the world to see that Nigeria benefits from the repatriation of assets stolen from her coffers.

According to Mr. Bawa, the EFCC will achieve its independent objective by sharing information with its partners.

He was of the opinion that the constitution will guide his actions, adding that at the end of his tenure, the EFCC will be a better place than he met it because his training by the FBI and the National Crime Agency of the United States and the United Kingdom respectively will come in handy. 

Responding to questions regarding what he will do differently from his predecessors, Mr. Bawa said he will reposition the commission by ensuring that it strengthens its standard operating procedures and improve on them.

He also stressed that there will be more transparency and accountability.

UPDATED: Buhari Receives Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodinma, In Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari and Imo State Governor Hope Uzodinma at the State House on Tuesday, February 23, 2021.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday met with Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodinma, at the State House in Abuja.

Governor Uzodimma spoke with journalists at the State House after the meeting with President Buhari.

He defended his invitation of the military in Orlu as a decision made to urgently curb the growing crisis which was beyond local arrangement.

READ ALSO: Again, Three Repentant Bandits Surrender Arms In Zamfara

He explained that the military’s involvement was not intended to crush anyone in Orlu. According to him, the situation has been brought under control and all those apprehended will soon be charged to court.

Speaking on his confrontation with former governor Rochas Okorocha, Governor Uzodinma denied that there was an attempt to assassinate his predecessor in office.

Instead, he underscores that he has no personal issues with the former Governor but simply protecting the oath he undertook to protect the law and citizens of the state.

 

See photos from the Governor’s meeting with President Buhari below…

 

Lawan Meets Buhari Over Insecurity, Backs NDDC Forensic Audit

President Muhammadu Buhari greets Senate President, Ahmed Lawan during a meeting at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on February 22, 2021. Credit: State House

 

The Senate President, Ahmed Lawan on Monday met behind closed-doors with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa in Abuja over the security challenges facing the country.

Lawan who spoke to State House reporters after the meeting assured Nigerians of advanced security in the next two months in rural areas to protect farmers and allow businesses to flourish.

He said the National Assembly is prepared to provide full support regarding the approved funds from the Excess Crude Account by the National Economic Council, to tackle insecurity across the country.

On the probe of the Niger Delta Development Commission, the Senate President declared that the National Assembly is backing President Buhari’s position on the forensic audit.

While calling for the conclusion of the forensic audit, Lawan noted that the move would lead to the speedy prosecution of all those found culpable.

According to him, the National Assembly aligning with the President’s resolve to sanitize the NDDC’s operations because the commission has so far not achieved its mandate of developing the Niger Delta since it was created by a law of the National Assembly in 2000.

Recall that a forensic audit was set up by the President to look into the activities of NDDC from its inception 20 years ago.

Lead forensic consultants were appointed and 16 field forensic auditors procured to handle the process.

President Buhari’s New ADC Resumes Duties In Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari (M) flanked with outgoing Aide-De-Camp ADC, Col Mohammed L. Abubakar left and the Incoming Aide-De-Camp (ADC) Lt Col Yusuf M. Dodo during the handing over in Abuja on February 22, 2021. Credit: State House

 

The new Aide-de-Camp to President Muhammadu Buhari, Lt. Col Yusuf Dodo on Monday resumed his duties at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

Dodo takes over from Colonel Mohammed Lawal Abubakar who has been President Buhari’s ADC since the inception of his administration in 2015.

Abubakar who bowed out today is proceeding to Santiago, Chile for a five-month Strategic and Defence Course from March 8.

READ ALSO: Buhari Gets New Aide-De-Camp

Sources told Channels Television that the course is a requirement for the promotion to the rank of a brigadier-general.

Until his appointment, Lieutenant Colonel Dodo was the Academy Adjutant of the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna.

Abubakar, accompanied by his wife and daughter, formally handed over to the new ADC at a brief ceremony.

Safety Of Airspace Remains A Priority, Buhari Mourns Plane Crash Victims

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has mourned the victims of a military plane that crashed near the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, adding that “the safety of the Nigerian airspace remains a key priority of the government.”

In a statement issued on Sunday by the presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, President Buhari extended his heartfelt condolences to family members, friends and colleagues of those who died as a result of this tragedy.

According to the statement, President Buhari said he is joining the Nigerian Air Force, the military and other Nigerians in mourning the unfortunate loss of the dedicated and courageous personnel, who died in the line of duty.

He explained that investigations into the cause of the crash were ongoing.

READ ALSO: Chief Of Air Staff Orders Investigation Into Military Plane Crash In Abuja

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) spokesman, Air Vice Marshal Ibikunle Daramola, had in a statement confirmed the death of all the seven persons on-board the aircraft.

He noted that the Beechcraft KingAir B350i aircraft crashed while returning to Abuja Airport after reporting engine failure enroute Minna.

SEE FULL STATEMENT HERE:

PRESIDENT BUHARI SENDS CONDOLENCES TO NAF, FAMILIES OF VICTIMS OF MILITARY PLANE CRASH

President Muhammadu Buhari is deeply saddened by the fatal crash of Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Beechcraft KingAir B350i aircraft on Sunday in Abuja that claimed the lives of seven personnel.

On behalf of the Federal Government, President Buhari extends heartfelt condolences to family members, friends and colleagues of those who died as a result of this tragedy.

The President joins the Nigerian Air Force, the military and other Nigerians in mourning the unfortunate loss of the dedicated and courageous personnel, who died in the line of duty.

President Buhari notes that while investigations into the cause of the crash are ongoing, the safety of the Nigerian airspace remains a key priority of the government.

He prays that God will comfort the bereaved families and nation, and grant the souls of the departed peaceful rest.

 

Femi Adesina

Special Adviser to the President

(Media & Publicity)

Buhari Directs Armed Forces, Police To Ensure Safe Return Of Abducted Kagara Students

President Muhammed Buhari

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has directed armed forces and police to ensure the safe return of students and officials abducted by gunmen who attacked Government Science College, Kagara, Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State on Wednesday.

The President has also dispatched a team of security chiefs to coordinate the rescue operation.

This was disclosed in a statement signed on Wednesday by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu.

“President Muhammadu Buhari has received reports of the brazen attack on Government Science College, Kagara, Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State, following which a yet to be ascertained number of staff and students have been abducted by gunmen.

“Following these reports, the President has directed the Armed Forces and Police, to ensure the immediate and safe return of all the captives. The President has also dispatched to Minna, Niger State a team of security chiefs to coordinate the rescue operation and meet with state officials, community leaders, as well as parents and staff of the College,” the statement read in part.

The statement added that President Buhari has assured of the support of his administration to the Armed Forces in their brave struggle against terrorism and banditry and urged them to do all that can be done to bring an end to the attacks on schools.

“Our prayers are with families of the victims of this attack,” said the President as he condemned as cowardly the attack on innocent school children.

 

Targeted Institution

Schools have been the target of attacks in recent times in Nigeria.

Gunmen earlier Wednesday morning stormed Government Science College, Kagara, Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State dressed in military uniform, shooting sporadically into the air.

The school principal who escaped from the attack confirmed to Channels Television that the operation started from the staff quarters where they abducted members of staff including a couple before they gained access to the students’ hostels.

Other sources say some students escaped after the raid while a headcount is being conducted at the school to ascertain the actual number of missing students.

This attack comes less than three months after scores of students were abducted from the Government Secondary School, Kankara in Katsina State. They were, however, released by their kidnappers after some days.

Niger State has in the past days seen a spike in kidnapping by gunmen.  A few days back, armed men attacked a bus belonging to the Niger State Transport Authority (NSTA) along Minna-Zungeru Road and abducted at least 21 passengers.

The state governor, Abubakar Bello had condemned the abduction, promising to secure the release of the passengers.

Okonjo-Iweala Will Excel In Her New Position As DG WTO – Buhari

 

President Muhammadu Buhari says he has no doubt that Nigeria’s former Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala will excel in her new position as Director-General of the World Trade Organisation.

Following the confirmation of her appointment on Monday, President Buhari on behalf of the Federal Government and all Nigerians, warmly felicitated with Dr. Okonjo-Iweala on her election which he says is bringing joy and more honour to the country.

“As the Harvard-educated and renowned economist takes up another onerous task of service to the world and humanity, the President believes her track record of integrity, diligence, and passion for development will continue to yield positive results and rewards to mankind,” the President stated.

According to a statement by his special media aide, the president affirmed that Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, who over the years set major records of economic reforms in Nigeria as Minister of Finance, and later Minister of Foreign Affairs, will excel in her new position and validate the global mandate of repositioning and strengthening the multilateral institution for the greater good of all.

The President joined the family, friends, and colleagues in wishing Dr. Okonjo-Iweala well in her new endeavor.

on Monday, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala became the first woman and the first African to lead the international trade body. Her term is scheduled to start on March 1.

The term, which is renewable, will expire on August 31, 2025.

“This is a very significant moment for the WTO,” said General Council Chair David Walker of New Zealand who, together with co-facilitators Amb. Dacio Castillo (Honduras) and Amb. Harald Aspelund (Iceland) led the nine-month DG selection process.

“On behalf of the General Council, I extend our warmest congratulations to Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on her appointment as the WTO’s next Director-General and formally welcome her to this General Council meeting.

“Dr Ngozi, on behalf of all members I wish to sincerely thank you for your graciousness in these exceptional months, and for your patience.

“We look forward to collaborating closely with you, Dr Ngozi, and I am certain that all members will work with you constructively during your tenure as Director-General to shape the future of this organization.”

Quoted in a WTO statement, Dr Okonjo-Iweala said a key priority for her would be to work with members to quickly address the economic and health consequences brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am honoured to have been selected by WTO members as WTO Director-General,” she said.

“A strong WTO is vital if we are to recover fully and rapidly from the devastation wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I look forward to working with members to shape and implement the policy responses we need to get the global economy going again.

“Our organization faces a great many challenges but working together we can collectively make the WTO stronger, more agile, and better adapted to the realities of today.”

South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee had been the only other remaining contender for the post but pulled out when it became clear that new US President Joe Biden was swinging firmly behind Okonjo-Iweala’s candidacy.

The organisation has been leaderless since Brazilian career diplomat Roberto Azevedo stepped down last August, a year ahead of schedule.

The process of picking one of eight candidates to succeed him had been expected to wrap up by November, but the administration of former US President Donald Trump blocked the consensus to appoint Okonjo-Iweala.

‘Reform candidate’

Okonjo-Iweala, who boasted US, EU and African backing, was not at the WTO’s Geneva headquarters for Monday’s meeting but was scheduled to hold an online press conference after its conclusion.

She will take over an organisation mired in multiple crises and struggling to help member states navigate the severe global economic slump triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Okonjo-Iweala argued during the race that she was best placed out of the eight candidates for the post to steer the WTO through the crises, calling herself a reform candidate.

She warned that growing protectionism and nationalism had been spurred on by the pandemic and insisted barriers needed to be lowered to help the world recover.

Even before Covid-19 battered the global economy, the WTO was weighed down by stalled trade talks and struggled to curb trade tensions between the United States and China.

The WTO also faced relentless attacks from Washington under Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump. Among other things, Trump brought the WTO’s dispute settlement appeal system to a grinding halt in late 2019.

‘Boldness, courage’

Okonjo-Iweala has said her priorities include getting long-blocked trade talks on fishery subsidies across the finish line and breathing life back into WTO’s Appellate Body.

Twice Nigeria’s finance minister (2003-2006 and 2011-2015) and its first female foreign minister in a two-month stint in 2006, Okonjo-Iweala is seen as a trailblazer in her homeland.

She has brushed off claims she lacks experience as a trade minister or negotiator.

She has portrayed herself as a champion against Nigeria’s rampant corruption — saying her own mother was even kidnapped over her attempts to tackle the scourge.

But her critics argue she should have done more to tackle it while in power.

A development economist by training with degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard, Okonjo-Iweala has also had a 25-year career as a development economist at the World Bank, eventually becoming its number two.

She is on the Twitter board of directors and chaired Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.