“After we were able to secure the release of the first nine, operatives still continued in the forest and we were combing the forest that is so massive,” he said.
“It is the same forest that extends to some parts of Kogi so we started tracing them. Once they started maintaining contacts with their (victims) families, we also started tracing and tracking up to the point where we gave them a very hot chase.
“To the glory of God, we were able to secure their release. For now, we have not made any arrests but we are tracking and working on them.”
He explained that the rescue efforts were in collaboration with the Department of State Services (DSS) operatives and men of the Ondo State Police Command.
On their part, the victims narrated their ordeal, saying they trekked for hours in the forest without food.
Three of the rescued kidnapped victims – Benjamin Ojoga, Omolara Fajana and Faith Sunday – confirmed that they were coming from Abuja and going to Lagos when the gunmen attacked their vehicle on the road and shot into the air before taking them to the forest.
Troops of the Nigerian Air Force have rescued scores of kidnap victims in the Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
Confirming this in a statement, the Kaduna State Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, said the bandits invaded Najaja and Kerawa villages in Igabi Local Government and abducted several people mostly women.
He said while they were trying to escape with their victims, a Nigerian Airforce fighter jet on aerial patrol quickly spotted their location and were able to rescue the kidnap victims.
The armed bandits according to the Commissioner were moving with the large number of women kidnapped from Ungwan Najaja when the air platforms traced them to the outskirts of the village.
On sighting the air platforms and conscious of air interdictions following warning shots, the bandits scampered into the forest and abandoned the women.
The bandits had earlier injured one Hamza Ibrahim while moving out of the village with the kidnapped women, many of whom were housewives.
In another sad case, bandits have killed the personal driver of the Emir of Birnin Gwari, one Nasiru Muhammad.
Security agencies reported that the armed bandits attacked the Buruku-Birnin Gwari road and Nasiru Muhammad was shot dead around Ungwan Yako forest along the route.
Reacting to the incident, Governor Nasir El-Rufai expressed sadness at the killing of the Emir’s driver and sent condolences to the royal father and the family of the deceased, while praying for the repose of his soul.
The Edo State Police Command has killed three suspected kidnappers and rescued seven abducted victims in the state.
According to a statement issued on Monday by the police spokesman in the state, SP Kontongs Bello, the victims were rescued after security operatives combed the Ahor forest along Benin-Auchi Expressway, Benin City.
It was gathered that the rescued victims were travelling from different parts of the country to Benin City, Edo, Delta and Anambra States.
The victims were identified as Daniel Musa, Anslem Obaladike, John Rufus, Best Osarenrere, Okideli Uwachukwu, Unoma John and Festus Francis.
The police spokesman said the victims have been taken to the police cottage hospital for check-up and treatment, adding that police operatives in collaboration with local vigilante have to comb the bush until every kidnapper operating within various forests within the state is forced to relocate.
“The combined team encountered the kidnappers at Ahor axis, engaged them in a fierce gun battle killing three of the kidnappers and rescued seven kidnapped victims,” he said.
While reiterating the commitment of the State Police Command to rid Edo of criminal elements, Bello warned kidnappers and other criminal elements to relocate from the state or risk being arrested.
The release comes about a month after Zamfara State Police Command secured the release of 11 kidnapped persons in the state.
In a statement issued on April 11, the police spokesman in the state, Muhammad Shehu, said the release was made possible following a collaboration with the police authorities and the State Ministry for Security and Home Affairs.
He noted that the 11 victims were released unconditionally after a group took them to a forest near Gobirawan Chali in Maru Local Government Area.
He said the release of the kidnapped victims was part of the ongoing peace process enunciated by Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara.
Zamfara has been experiencing series of attacks from suspected bandits who purportedly engage in illegal mining.
As part of efforts in restoring peace in the state, President Muhammadu Buhari on March 2 decalred Zamfara a ‘no-fly zone’ and banned all mining activities in the state.
The move, according to the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, is part of measures to tackle the security challenges witnessed in the north-western state.
Similarly, the state governor Matawalle has initiated peace efforts and engaged the bandits in dialogue to encourage them to surrender their weapons.
The efforts is paying off gradually as some of the bandits have renounced their old ways to embrace the peace efforts of the state government.
The abducted student of Kings School, otherwise known as Capro Secondary Mission School located at Gana Ropp in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau State has regained freedom, the military authorities have confirmed.
Gunmen had in the early hours of April 29 kidnapped the students in Capro, which is few kilometres away from the Yakubu Gowon airport and about 60 kilometres from Jos, the state capital.
However, three of the students escaped while one remained in captivity.
But in a statement issued on Sunday, the spokesman of Operation Safe Haven, Major Ibrahim Shittu, said troops rescued the remaining student in captivity on Saturday.
He said the rescue operation was achieved through the sustained search and rescue efforts of the troops, adding that no ransom was paid to secure the student’s release.
According to the military spokesman, the rescued student is in good health condition and has since been reunited with other students in the college.
Spate of Abductions
The Plateau abduction comes as the country continues to battle several security challenges, including but not limited to an insurgency in the North-East, banditry in the North-West, secessionist agitations in the South-East and Fulani-Herdsmen crises across the Middle-Belt and several South-West states.
Bandits have, in recent times, targeted schools for mass abductions.
Several students of Greenfield University in Kaduna are still in captivity after they were abducted on April 20.
Bandits who abducted 39 students from the Federal College of Forestry Mechanization, Afaka, in the Igabi local government area of Kaduna state recently released a video of the students, including a pregnant female student, calling for help.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday sought the assistance of the United States in fighting insecurity across the country.
The House of Representatives on Wednesday inaugurated a 40-man committee to find a solution to the country’s security challenges. The Committee is set to hold a four-day security summit in May.
The Edo State Police Command in collaboration with the vigilante group has rescued 26 victims suspected to have been trafficked from Ebonyi, Imo, Abia, Anambra and Akwa Ibom states.
In a statement issued on Tuesday by the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, SP Kontongs Bello, the victims comprise 19 children, one teenager and six women.
He said those rescued were heading towards Evbuotubu in Ekenwan Road axis of Benin City before rescue came their way.
According to the police spokesman, the women were lured from their various home states by a woman named Jennifer (also called Ezinne), noting that the suspect is now on the run.
“They were lured in a guise that Edo State Government is giving financial support to single mothers with newborn babies especially twins,” the statement partly read.
“The women said they were forced to go for street begging for their mistress Jennifer. They further stated that only pea-nut is given to them to take care of their children and feeding from the proceed of begging.”
Bello also called on the residents of the state to disregard some social media reports indicating that some women and children were rescued from a baby factory by the Police in Benin City.
He blamed the reports on some mischief makers whom he said engaged in the publication to paint Edo State in a bad light.
“The women and children have since been handed over to Edo State Ministry of Women Affairs for rehabilitation and a possible return to their home States while effort also is in place to arrest the fleeing mistress,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Commissioner of Police Edo State, CP Phillip Aliyu Ogbadu, has urged media practitioners and members of the public to always verify their source of information before publication in order not to mislead the general public.
He warned criminal elements to eschew crime, relocate to other states or face the full wrath of the law.
The police boss further advised parents to be wary of unknown persons who come promising heaven on earth to their children as the result is always catastrophic.
Speaking further, he assured the law-abiding citizens of the state to go about their lawful businesses, reiterating the Command’s commitment to rid the state of criminal activities.
He explained that the incident which involved a Man diesel truck marked SHR 35 XA and a Bajaj motorcycle marked LSD 638 QB happened around 7:57 am and was caused by reckless driving and impatience on the part of the motorcycle rider.
“There were four students on the motorcycle when the incident happened, three students of Idagba Community High School, Sotubo and Wesley primary school, Ogijo, with one them riding the motorcycle conveying him and the others to school,” he said.
“In an attempt by the motorcyclist to find its way in between two trailers, the motorcycle fell on its side and the rear tyre of one of the trailers ran over them.”
Akinbiyi explained that the remains of the deceased had been deposited at the morgue of Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital, Sagamu while the injured were taken to the same hospital for treatment.
While commiserating with the family of the deceased, he however appealed to commercial motorcyclists to always exercise patience, caution and avoid reckless and dangerous riding.
Troops of Operation Handarin Daji have rescued 39 children in Dandume Local Government Area of Katsina State.
In a statement issued on Sunday by the Director of Defence Media Operations, Major General John Enenche, the rescue efforts followed a distress call the troops received on Saturday night from locals at Mahuta village.
The locals, Enenche stated, said the bandits were “moving with unconfirmed numbers of Islamiya children mostly girls and rustled cattle.”
According to the defence spokesman, the “troops quickly mobilized to the scene, laid ambush and blocked the bandits’ route along Daudawa-Kadisau and road Sheme Mairuwa and Unguwar Audu village.”
“Troops thereafter searched the general area and rescued the 39 kidnapped girls in addition to the recovery of 8 rustled cattle. The victims have been reunited with their families while the recovered cattle handed to the owners,” Enenche said.
“While patiently waiting for the bandits at the ambush and blocking position, troops established contact with bandits and engaged them.
“During the fierce battle, troops superior firepower forced bandits to abandon the children and the rustled cattle thereby forcing the bandits to flee in disarray into the forest.”
Rescuers pulled two children from the rubble in a town in Turkey on Monday, delivering hope nearly three days after a major earthquake hit the Aegean, killing 93 people and ruining dozens of buildings.
Three-year-old Elif Perincek was rescued 65 hours after the 7.0-magnitude quake left a trail of destruction in western Turkey and eastern Greece on Friday, Turkey’s AFAD emergency authority said.
Local media showed a video of a little girl wrapped up in a foil blanket quickly taken to safety in the coastal town of Bayrakli — the hardest hit by the disaster — as rescue workers broke into applause.
Hours later, Turkish state television showed images of the girl, her right eye closed by a purple bruise, waving to the camera from her hospital bed, a doll resting on her chest.
Muammer Celik, a fireman who found and saved Elif, told AFP he thought the toddler was dead when he saw her lying on her back, covered by white dust.
“I asked for a body bag. I wanted to wipe the dust from her face and put out my hand towards her — and then suddenly she grabbed my thumb,” he recalled.
“We froze. We were crying with joy,” Celik said. “We forgot everything in that moment!”
A photo of Elif holding Celik’s hand went viral in Turkey. The fireman said she did not let go until she was taken to a tent for safety nearby.
Elif was the 106th person pulled out alive from collapsed buildings in Bayrakli and surrounding towns and cities in western Turkey.
Her mother and three siblings were pulled out on Saturday night, although her rescued brother later died, the TRT state broadcaster said.
AFAD also reported the rescue of 14-year-old Idil Sirin in Bayrakli, 58 hours after the quake hit.
But the Sirin family’s joy was brief as the lifeless body of Idil’s sister, Ipek, was found, the Hurriyet newspaper reported.
“I can’t hear any sounds from my sister, she’s dead,” Idil told rescuers as she was being pulled out, Hurriyet said.
Turkey’s toll from the quake is continuing to rise, with AFAD reporting 91 dead.
Nearly 1,000 people were injured and more than 150 were still in hospital.
Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca tweeted that 10 of the wounded were in intensive care, including three in a critical condition.
Two teenagers were also killed on their way home from school on the Greek island of Samos, near the epicentre of the quake.
‘Can anyone hear me?’
Racing against time, rescue workers were pressing ahead with their desperate search for survivers in western Turkey more than 72 hours after disaster struck.
“Can anyone hear me,” one rescue worker cried through a megaphone down into the rubble.
“If you can, hit something or scream,” he called as a drone hovered overhead scanning the rubble.
Thousands of residents, including those with destroyed homes, spent a third night outside in tents in Bayrakli and in nearby Bornova, many fearing the risk of aftershocks.
Turkish authorities registered 1,286 repeat tremors by Monday afternoon — including 43 above magnitude four — complicating the rescuers’ works and raising the threat of further damage.
Launching an investigation into why 58 buildings were either heavily damaged or completely destroyed, Turkish police detained nine people — including contractors — in connection with the quake, state news agency Anadolu said.
In a press conference on Wednesday, the spokesman State Police Command, Gambo Isah, said the rescued victims were handed over to the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Dr Mustapha Inuwa.
According to him, the SSG ordered “their immediate treatment, welfare and subsequent reunion with their respective members of their families as an investigation is ongoing.”
“On 22/03/2020 at about 21:00hrs, a group of bandits armed with AK 47 rifles, blocked the road between Yantumaki to Burunkuza and attacked a commercial motor vehicle, a bus belonging to Niger State Government with registration number NIGER_14B_50NG driven by one Shu’aibu Muhammed, M, aged 45 years of Niger state and kidnapped the passengers,” he said.
Three notorious syndicates of bandits/ kidnappers, drug dealers and armed robbers were also paraded by the police.
Exhibits recovered from the suspects were 96 rounds of 7.62mm live ammunition and the sum of N708,000.
Others include 679 bottles of codeine syrup worth over N2million, 2,000 tablets of tramadol worth over N500,000, one HP laptop computer, one Pup Two GSM handset, recharge cards of different networks and the sum of N200,000 naira cash including some household items.
Rescue workers raced against time Saturday to find survivors under the rubble after a powerful earthquake claimed 22 lives and left more than 1,000 injured in eastern Turkey.
The magnitude 6.8 quake struck on Friday evening, with its epicentre in the small lakeside town of Sivrice in Elazig province, and was felt in neighbouring countries.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said 39 people have been rescued alive from collapsed buildings in Elazig province, with a further 22 people estimated to be trapped under the rubble. He said the death toll had risen to 22.
Among those found alive was a pregnant woman who was rescued 12 hours after the quake hit, state news agency Anadolu said, while an AFP correspondent saw an individual saved 17 hours later.
Nearly 2,000 search and rescue personnel were sent to the region while thousands of beds, blankets and tents have been provided, the Turkish presidency said.
The rescue efforts have been taking place in freezing temperatures as wood and plastic were burned to keep crowds warm.
Hundreds of people were anxiously waiting on the other side of police barriers including a man who gave his name as Mustafa.
“I have three relatives in that building: one man, his wife and her mother. They are still under the rubble,” the 40-year-old told AFP.
“May God help us, we can do nothing but pray.
“I was home during the earthquake. It lasted for so long, it was like a nightmare. I froze in the living room when it happened, my wife and our two children were screaming and running around,” he said.
He added that some neighbours jumped out of the windows because they panicked as families including his were forced to spend Friday night on the streets.
Some 20 rescuers were on top of the remains of one collapsed building, slowly clearing the rubble one bucket at a time surrounded by broken wooden beams and concrete.
Nearby Ayse Sonmez, 48, wept in silence at the barrier. She was only able to point to one of the heavily damaged buildings and say, “My older sister.”
‘Screaming in terror’
Sivrice — a town with a population of about 4,000 — is situated south of Elazig city on the shores of Hazar lake — one of the most popular tourist spots in the region and the source of the Tigris river.
The lake is home to a “Sunken City”, with archaeological traces dating back 4,000 years in its waters.
The interior minister said 18 people were killed in Elazig while four died in Malatya.
Among the 1,031 people injured were residents in other provinces in the southeast including Diyarbakir, Batman, Sanliurfa, Adiyaman and Kahramanmaras, the Turkish government’s disaster and emergency management agency (AFAD) said.
Health minister Fahrettin Koca said 128 people were still receiving treatment including 34 in intensive care but added that no one was in a critical condition.
Tensions were high as one resident accused the government of lying.
“They (the government) claim that only four people are trapped under the rubble. It is not true. I have five relatives in that building,” Suat, a 45-year-old butcher, said.
“There are four floors and three flats per floor. If there were five people per flat, do the math. Why are they lying?”
Suat described the moment when the quake struck as he was at home in another Elazig neighbourhood and his children “were screaming in terror.”
The Ankara public prosecutor’s office later on Saturday said it had begun an investigation into “provocative” social media posts but did not give further details.
Tremors felt elsewhere
The tremor was felt in several parts of eastern Turkey near the Iraqi and Syrian borders as well as in Iran, Lebanon and Syria, local media reported.
Environment and Urbanisation Minister Murat Kurum told reporters in Elazig that five buildings collapsed following the quake while others were badly or lightly damaged.
The US Geological Survey assessed the magnitude as 6.7, slightly lower than AFAD, adding that it struck near the East Anatolian Fault in an area that has suffered no documented large ruptures since an earthquake in 1875.
According to AFAD, there have been nearly 400 aftershocks following Friday’s quake including 12 that were above four in magnitude.
In 1999, a devastating 7.4 magnitude earthquake hit Izmit in western Turkey, leaving more than 17,000 people dead including about 1,000 in Istanbul.
Experts have long warned a large quake could devastate the city of 15 million people, which has allowed widespread building without safety precautions.
Such fears were acutely awakened in September last year when a 5.7-magnitude earthquake shook Istanbul, causing residents to flee buildings in the economic capital.
Indonesian rescue teams flew helicopters stuffed with food to remote flood-hit communities on Saturday as the death toll from the disaster jumped to 53 and fears grew about the possibility of more torrential rain.
Tens of thousands in Jakarta were still unable to return to their waterlogged homes after some of the deadliest flooding in years hit the enormous capital region, home to about 30 million.
In neighbouring Lebak, where half a dozen people died, police and military personnel dropped boxes of instant noodles and other supplies into remote communities inaccessible by road after bridges were destroyed.
“It’s tough to get supplies in there… and there are about a dozen places hit by landslides,” Banten police chief Tomsi Tohir told AFP.
“That is why we’re using helicopters although there aren’t any landing spots.”
Local health centre chief Suripto, who goes by one name, said injured residents were flowing into his clinic.
“Some of them were wounded after they were swept away by floods and hit with wood and rocks,” he said.
Around Jakarta, more than 170,000 people took refuge in shelters across the massive urban conglomeration after whole neighbourhoods were submerged.
Torrential rains that started on New Year’s Eve unleashed flash floods and landslides in the region and Lebak at the south end of Java island.
On Saturday, Indonesia’s disaster agency said the death toll had climbed to 53 with one person still missing.
“We’ve discovered more dead bodies,” said National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Agus Wibowo.
Jakarta shelters filled up with refugees, including infants, resting on thin mats as food and drinking water ran low.
Some had been reduced to using floodwater for cleaning.
“We’re cleaning ourselves in a nearby church but the timing has been limited since it uses an electric generator for power,” said Trima Kanti, 39, from one refuge in Jakarta’s western edges.
In hard-hit Bekasi, on the eastern outskirts of Jakarta, swampy streets were littered with debris and crushed cars lying on top of each other — with waterline marks reaching as high as the second floors of buildings.
On Friday, the government said would start cloud seeding to the west of the capital — inducing rain using chemicals sprayed from planes — to prevent approaching rainfall from pounding the region.
Waters had receded in many areas and power was being restored in hundreds of districts.
The health ministry has said it had deployed some 11,000 health workers and soldiers to distribute medicine, disinfectant hygiene kits and food in a bid to stave off outbreaks of Hepatitis A, mosquito-borne Dengue fever and other illnesses, including infections linked to contact with dead animals.
Visiting hard-hit Lebak, Coordinating Human Development and Culture Minister Muhadjir Effendy said the government would help rebuild destroyed schools and construct temporary bridges, while offering assistance to victims.
“We’re also asking for NGOs (non-governmental organisations) to help with trauma healing,” Muhadjir told reporters on Saturday.
Around Jakarta, a family — including a four- and nine-year-old — died of suspected gas poisoning from a portable power generator, while an eight-year-old boy was killed in a landslide.
Others died from drowning or hypothermia, while one 16-year-old boy was electrocuted by a power line.
Jakarta is regularly hit by floods during the rainy season, which started in late November. But this week marked Jakarta’s deadliest flooding since 2013 when dozens were killed after the city was inundated by monsoon rains.
Urban planning experts said the disaster was partly due to record rainfall.
But Jakarta’s myriad infrastructure problems, including poor drainage and rampant overdevelopment, worsened the situation, they said.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo has announced a plan to move the country’s capital to Borneo island to take pressure off Jakarta, which suffers from some of the world’s worst traffic jams and is fast sinking due to excessive groundwater extraction.