Army Ready To Dislodge Boko Haram From Sambisa – Dan’ali

The Minister of Defence, Alhaji Mansur Dan’ali, on Saturday, said the Nigerian Army was set to destroy all camps and hideouts of members of the Boko Haram sect in Sambisa forest.

 

Dan’ali made the statement during an inspection tour of the construction site of a new army barrack in Gusau.

 

According to him, the Nigerian Army is now at the verge of entering the forest and will soon flush out the insurgents terrorising some states in the northeast of Nigeria.

 

He said since the beginning of the present administration, tremendous success had been recorded in the fight against Boko Haram as well as cattle rustling in the country.

 

”We have been working seriously, going round the world, collaborating with other countries in fighting terrorism at the national, regional and international levels,’’ the minister said.

 

Commenting on the barrack under construction, Dan’ ali said the project was expected to be completed within the next three months.

 

He said that the project was part of the present administration’s efforts to ensure the comfort of the military and other security agencies.

 

”You know, President Muhammadu Buhari is seriously concerned about the welfare of the Nigerian Army and other security agencies as we have noticed from the attention given to them lately,’’ the minister said.

 

Dan’ali urged the contractor handling the project to ensure its speedy completion and also to do quality work. (NAN)

Gunmen Kidnap Paramount Ruler’s Pregnant Wife In Akwa Ibom

No fewer than 10 unknown gunmen on Friday night kidnapped the pregnant wife of Ubong Assam, the paramount ruler of Esit Eket in Akwa Ibom.

The gunmen also abducted the four children of the traditional ruler.

Chief Asuquo Abia, the Secretary, Traditional Rulers Council, Esit Eket, told NAN in Esit Eket on Saturday that the gunmen invaded the palace of the paramount ruler in the wee hours of Friday morning.

Abia, who is also the Village Head of Afaha Akpenedi, said the gunmen shot sporadically for over five hours from 1.30 a.m. to 6 a.m.

“The gunmen destroyed part of the palace with dynamites and broke into all the rooms and carted away valuables,’’ he said.

He said the gunmen arrived at the palace on Thursday claiming to be policemen from Abuja on an investigation.

“They later came back the next day around 1.30 a.m. and shot sporadically till 6 a.m. in the morning,’’ Abia said.

Also, a family member, Mr Norbert Assam, said that seven people wounded in the incident were hospitalised in the state.

He said that the paramount ruler’s wife was eight months pregnant when she was kidnapped.

Assam also said that the gunmen escaped the scene with their victims in the paramount ruler’s Jeep.

“They came in two vehicles, a white Hilux van and a sports utility vehicle; they met the paramount ruler and said they came from Abuja to investigate a matter of attempted murder on the life of the monarch.

“We saw two masked men in the Hilux van who they claimed were suspects of the attempted murder case, but they did not allow us to go near the vehicles,’’ Assam said.

He said that gunmen came from the creeks in Esit Eket Local Government Area, adding that they ransacked the palace and took away valuables and money.

Reacting to the incident, the Police Public Relation Officer in Akwa Ibom, ASP. Cordelia Nwawe, said the command was yet to receive a report on the kidnap from the Divisional Police Officer in the area.

 

Nwawe said that the family had also not intimated the command of the incident, but added that the police was committed to safety of life and property in the area.

NAN reports that this is the second time in two years that unknown gunmen are attacking the palace of the paramount ruler. (NAN)

 

El-Rufa’i Promises To End Kidnapping In Kaduna

Gov. Nasir El-Rufa’i of Kaduna State has promised to end incessant cases of kidnapping to guarantee the safety of lives and property of the citizens in the state.

El-Rufa’i made the promise on Saturday during a town hall meeting in Kachia, Kachia Local Government Area of the state.

He said the state government had noted with concern the spate of kidnapping, especially in Kaduna metropolis, adding that “the ugly scenario would soon be a thing of the past’’.

He said the state had recorded significant stride in addressing indices of insecurity, including killings of innocent persons and cattle rustling.

The governor expressed regrets that perpetrators of such acts had resorted to kidnapping of persons.

He said that the police recently arrested a kingpin of kidnappers in the state and arms were recovered from the suspects.

“We have put in place as part of our statutory function, security measure to put an end to the menace once and for all,’’ he said.

In another development, El-Rufa’i has said the state government will launch a tree planting campaign as a measure to secure the environment.

El-Rufa’i said the state government had concluded plans through the Ministry of Environment to engage women throughout the Local Government Areas in the state.

“The aim of this initiative is to safeguard our environment for the generation yet unborn,’’ he said.

He assured the people that plans have been concluded to construct 255 new health facilities throughout the state to guarantee the health of the people.

“We are concerned about reducing maternal mortality rate, especially among pregnant women,’’ he said.

On agriculture, the governor assured that fertilisers would be made available to farmers to boost farm produce.

“We want to ensure that our farmers compete favourably with modern agricultural practices.

He said the Kachia Ginger Company would be opened for bidding for interested investors to revive its production.

El-Rufa’i urged the people to be patient, and assured that electricity, provision of drinking water, accessible roads and payment of salaries and wages among others would be addressed.

NAN reports that the meeting had in attendance, government officials, including, commissioners, permanent secretaries, local council chairmen, traditional rulers, youths and women groups, among others. (NAN)

Enugu Remains PDP Stronghold – Ekweremadu

The Deputy President of the Senate, Chief Ike Ekweremadu, has said that Enugu State will remain a stronghold of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) despite challenges faced by the party.

Ekweremadu made the declaration in Enugu on Saturday during a stakeholders meeting of the party in preparation for the PDP congresses in the state.

According to him, the PDP has passed through a lot of challenges for some time but we will overcome these problems.

“Enugu has always been a PDP state and will remain a PDP stronghold in the country,’’ he said.

The deputy senate president, however, urged members to comport themselves during the congresses beginning at the ward level, adding that everybody would be carried along.

In his remarks, the former National Chairman of the party, Dr Okwesilieze Nwodo, commended the state government for sustaining the party in the face of trials.

Nwodo also commended Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi on the action taken to address the April 25 invasion in Uzo-Uwani by herdsmen.

He called for support and cooperation of all and sundry in taking the state to greater height.

Ugwuanyi, in his address, expressed his continued support to the party and promised that he would do his best to ensure safety and welfare of people of the state.

According to him, despite the recent attack by suspected herdsmen, the state will remain peaceful.

He thanked the people for their support and cooperation since he assumed office 11 months ago, and called for their fervent prayers to enable his administration fulfill its promises.

Ugwuanyi, however, urged party members to be orderly during the ward congress, saying that it should not be a do or die affair as PDP was one family in the state.

The meeting was attended by members of the national and state assemblies from the state, members of the state executive council, party stalwarts, chairmen of local government caretaker committee and other stakeholders. (NAN)

 

Nigeria To Become Largest Free TV Platform Globally – Expert

Nigeria has been projected to be the largest free digital television platform globally with estimated 30 million TV households by the completion of analogue broadcasting switch off in June 2017.

The Deputy Chairman of Cable Channels Nigeria Ltd., Mr Mohammadu Bawa, disclosed this at a gala night attended by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in Jos on Friday.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports CCNL is the official Nigeria contents aggregator for the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) which the country is expected to completely switch on to by the June 2017.

Bawa said that compared to the UK which had 10 million consumers, Australia with 13 million and New Zealand with three million, Nigeria would be in the lead with its 30 million free TV household by 2017.

He said the free TV broadcast platform would offer home entertainment and educative channels to viewer through the DTT and Digital Satellite (DSAT) which would come on board at a later date.

“The responsibilities of the free TV included platform and contents management, consumer, audience measurement, signal contribution, branding and promotion and other services.

In addition to the free to air channels, he said the DSO would help in the development of more movie and music channels.

Bawa said there would be electronic programming guide to viewers on what were available for viewing and other public information.

“The free TV will comprise of existing national content and local free to air channels, selected thematic channels and selected international free to air channels,’’ he said.

He said the Federal Government through the Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC) had assigned the distribution of Free-Top Boxes to CCNL.

Free-top box is the receiver to be placed on the television box to convert analogue transmission to digital.

Bawa said the boxes which ought to cost about N10,000 had been subsidised by government to cost N1,500 and it would be produced locally.

He assured effective and efficient circulation of the boxes in the entire DSO region to secure the widest possible reach with value for consumers.

The Acting Director-General of the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Alheri Saidu, said the journey to digital broadcasting started in 2006 with the target to conclude the process in 2012.

Saidu said the switch over failed twice – 2012 and 2015 – before the deadline of June 2017 was given.

“It took the efforts of the new administration to pull the string to start the process of moving the country to digital television broadcasting.

“What we are witnessing today is the commissioning of Free TV, the vehicle to which we will be watching a new regime of digital broadcasting in the country,’’ Saidu said.

The Plateau Commissioner for Information and Communication, Mohammed Ahmed, thanked the Federal Government “for singling out Plateau from many capable states to launch DSO’’.

He said with the dossier of being the state where the colour TV started in Nigeria, Plateau was setting another record on DSO.

NAN reports that the minister commissioned the Free TV as a brand, stressing that DSO would democratise information in the country. (NAN)

 

I-G Says 359 Police Officers Were Killed In Active Service In 2 Years

No fewer than 359 policemen were killed on duty between January 2014 and April 2016, the Inspector General of Police, Mr Solomon Arase, has said.

Arase made this know at a lecture he delivered at the University of Jos, entitled: “Police and Public Partnership in Prevention and Control of Violent Crimes and Conflicts in Nigeria’’.

He said that 272 policemen sustained various degrees of injuries within the same period, adding that the casualties occurred while intervening in civil conflicts.

The Inspector-general said that the officers paid the supreme price “to enhance community peace and security in the country’’.

He said that the killing of police personnel had steadily being on the rise since 2009 due to terrorist attacks by Boko Haram insurgents in the North-East.

Arase said that police personnel required diverse skills to tackle modern crimes, “especially since criminal elements are arming themselves with more sophisticated arms’’.

According to him, the work of policemen has become more difficult in societies like Nigeria, where there are a mutual distrust between the police and the public.

Arase said that assistance to the police was often withheld by the citizens and that had affected the police in the discharge of their duties.

He said the factors that undermine effective partnership between the citizens and the police had their roots in the circumstance in which the police emerged in the country.

The inspector-general said that policing had been made a tough task due to the inability of the country to introduce required reforms for the re-orientation of the inherited police forces.

The others were lack of resources and skills, widespread disrespect for the law by the citizens across all the sectors and strata of the society.

Arase said that attempts to enforce the law were often resisted by a significant proportion of the population who resist any attempt to make them subservient to the law, authority and the Police Force.

He also decried the dearth of basic logistics and resources, especially transportation, telecommunication, arms and ammunition, accommodation and other items crucial to boosting the morale of the force.

The inspector-general added that the challenges had been worsened by poor intelligence gathering techniques as well as weak criminal investigation gadgets. (NAN)

 

Northern Governors Forum Begins Deliberations On Security Issues-Shettima

The Chairman of Northern Governors Forum (NGF), Gov. Kashim Shettima of Borno said the forum had commenced deliberations on reports from committees that investigated issues affecting security in the region.

 

Shettima stated this at the meeting of the forum in Kaduna on Friday

 

The governor said that the committee was given specific terms of reference which included undertaking insightful analysis of issues affecting the nineteen Northern States.

 

Shettima said the Committee of the Attorney General and Commissioners for Justice of the nineteen Northern States had presented its report.

 

He said that the committee was mandated to critically examine the criminal justice system of the states.

 

According to him, the committee would determine how best to incorporate certain emerging criminal offences.

 

He said such offences included kidnapping, cattle rustling, deadly communal clashes and inciting religious preaching that have not been adequately covered by the penal code.

 

Shettima further stated that the committee was also charged with examining the activities of terrorists where little girls were induced and asked to commit crimes like suicide bombings.

 

The Chairman said the Consultancy Committee which was established to access and articulate the various multi sectoral challenges facing the Northern States, will also present its report.

 

He said the committee was charged with the responsibility of coming up with a common position in collaborative partnership with the Islamic Development Bank (IDB).

 

NAN recalls that, the Chairman of the Forum once led a delegation comprising Governors of Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano and Nasarawa States to the headquarters of the IDB in Jeddah in this regard. (NAN)

Religion Clouds Debate As London Set To Elect First Muslim Mayor

As the two main candidates in London’s mayor race intensified campaigns, a row is simmering over the Conservatives’ focus on the Muslim background of their Labour rival.

 

The Labour candidate, Sadiq Khan, remains the favourite in the May 5 election.

 

The contest between him and Conservatives’ Zac Goldsmith vividly reflects the traditional class division between Britain’s Labour and Conservative politicians.

 

Khan, a former human rights lawyer, emphasizes his humble beginnings, while Goldsmith, who grew up in London’s affluent Richmond Park area, has played down his roots in one of Britain’s wealthiest families.

 

“My story is a story of London,” Khan, who was a minister in the last Labour government, tells voters.

 

“My father was a bus driver and my mother sewed clothes.

 

“London gave me the chance to go from a council estate to helping to run a successful business and serving in the cabinet.

 

“I promise all Londoners the same opportunities that our city gave me,” he said.

 

On his part, Goldsmith has vowed to continue the policies of the city’s popular current mayor, Boris Johnson, a close ally who is leading a campaign for Britain to leave the European Union in a referendum on June 23.

 

“Over the past seven years, Boris has put London back on the map.

 

“We have seen record investment, jobs created, crime down, and tube delays down,” said Goldsmith, who has an estimated personal fortune of about 109 million dollars.

 

“We have an once-in-a-lifetime chance to lock in and build on this progress so it is not wasted,” he added.

 

Opinion polls put Khan marginally ahead and many analysts expect him to become London’s first Muslim mayor.

 

Joined in the contest by minor players from the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party, the UK Independence Party and others, Khan and Goldsmith both claim they offer the best solutions to London’s housing crisis.

 

They both promised to also find solution to the crumbling public transport infrastructure.

 

They stand on opposite sides in the debate over a Brexit or British EU exit, with Goldsmith backing Johnson’s “Leave’’ campaign and Khan, like most senior Labour figures, supporting “Remain’’.

 

Brexit has featured little in the campaigning.

 

“I think London’s politics, and the mayoral politics, are a long way removed from the EU referendum,” says Tony Travers, a political scientist at the London School of Economics who predicts a maximum voter turnout of 37 per cent.

 

Khan’s religion and the Conservatives’ claim that he has associated with extremists have overshadowed other issues in recent weeks as a vicious argument reached parliament.

 

Vince Cable, a former Liberal Democrat business secretary in the 2010-2015 coalition government, accused Goldsmith of joining a dog whistle anti-Islamic campaign against Khan.

 

Cable spoke out after Goldsmith labelled Khan a “radical” and published apparently untrue statements about him in campaign leaflets aimed at voters of South Asian origin. Goldsmith also accused his rival of associating with Islamic extremists.

 

Addressing Goldsmith on Twitter, Khan said there was no need to keep pointing at me and shouting ‘he’s a Muslim. I put it on my own leaflets”.

 

Goldsmith denied that he was focussing on Khan’s religion, saying that his rival was shouting Islamophobia to close down legitimate questions.

 

The controversy escalated in parliament on April 20, when Prime Minister David Cameron said that Labour had selected in London, someone who sat on platforms with extremists.

 

That prompted the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, to interrupt him with a shout of “disgraceful!”

 

Cameron did not back down, saying that it was right to question their judgement, if someone associated with extremists.

 

He claimed that Khan “has appeared on a platform with Suliman Gani nine times; this man, Gani supports IS (Islamic State)’’.

 

Gani, a Muslim cleric, responded by saying that he had campaigned against the evils of Islamic State while Khan said Cameron’s intervention was a sign of Goldsmith’s divisive, Donald Trump-style campaign.

 

Khan admitted that he had attended the same events as Gani and other outspoken Muslims, but only in his capacity as a human rights lawyer.

 

Omer El-Hamdoon, President of the Muslim Association of Britain, said in a statement that the mayoral campaign was symptomatic of “the normalisation of Islamophobia in an attempt to win votes”.

 

Other Muslim groups raised concerns about the Conservatives’ campaign, while the group Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks urged both sides to “tone down the heated rhetoric” and focus on the policies. (dpa/NAN)

 

U.S. Military Suspends Personnel Over 2015 Strike On Afghan Hospital

The U.S. Military disciplined 16 personnel for 2015 airstrike on a Doctors Without Borders (MSF) hospital in Afghanistan, the Defence Department said on Friday.

It concluded that the bombing was inadvertent and therefore not a war crime.

Technical and human error led to the attack, General Joseph Votel said as he presented the results of an internal investigation into the Oct. 3, 2015, incident.

“The hospital, located in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz, was mistaken for another building controlled by the Taliban.

“The hospital was on a list of buildings not to target, but the aircraft crew did not have access to the list due to problems with a radio system,’’ Votel said.

At least 42 people, including 24 patients, 14 staff and four caretakers, were killed and 37 others wounded in the airstrike that destroyed the MSF hospital building.

Several separate investigations into the attack were undertaken, and the commander of US forces in Afghanistan in November suspended the military personnel “most closely” involved in the bombing.

Human Rights Watch last month criticised the US for failing to criminally investigate the incident and giving only administrative punishments to those involved.

In a separate incident, an MSF hospital in Syria was struck this week, leaving at least 30 dead. (dpa/NAN)

 

Transition Of Oba Of Benin A Great National Loss – President Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed sadness over the passing away of the highly revered traditional ruler of Benin Kingdom, Omo n’Oba n’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Erediauwa.

 

A statement issued in Abuja on Friday by the president’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, said president Buhari described the death of the Oba as a great national loss.

 

President Buhari extended his condolences and that of the Federal Government to Gov. Adams Oshiomhole, the people of Benin Kingdom and Edo State on the passage of the beloved monarch, who had ruled over his people since his ascension to the throne in 1979.

 

The President also extended special commiserations to Crown Prince Eheneden Erediauwa and other members of the late Oba’s immediate family.

 

President Buhari assured them of the fullest sympathy and solidarity of the federal government and all Nigerians as they mourned the late Oba.

 

According to him, Oba Erediauwa will always be remembered as one of the most outstanding traditional rulers of his era.

 

“As the late Oba goes to join his very illustrious royal ancestors, President Buhari believes that his place of honour in the history of the Benin Kingdom and Nigeria has been assured by his long and highly successful career as a public servant, administrator and chief custodian of the much celebrated culture and traditions of his people,’’ the statement added.

 

The President prayed that God Almighty would receive the late Oba’s soul and grant him peaceful repose.

 

He also prayed that God would grant “Crown Prince Erediauwa the wisdom and courage he will require to build on the laudable legacies of Oba Erediauwa.’’ (NAN)