The embattled leader of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu has reacted to the allegation that the group is plotting an attack in Lagos.
Vanguard earlier reported that the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, CP Hakeem Odumosu, on Monday, May 10, said the state Police Command is investigating the separatist group, Oodua Republic, and also the threat by the proscribed IPOB to attack soft targets in the state.
Reacting, Kanu in a statement signed Tuesday, by his media and publicity secretary, Emma Powerful, described the allegation as “a false alarm and a smoke screen by security operatives to commit terror and create division among IPOB and Oodua group “.
Read full statement below;
“We the global family of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) ably led by our leader Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, has again come across another fallacious statement from a Commissioner of Police in Lagos, claiming to have uncovered plot by IPOB and Estern Security Network, ESN, to attack Lagos in the near future.
“We therefore, wish to state that the purported statement by the CP is false alarm and a lie from the pit of hell which exists only in figment of his imagination. Neither IPOB nor ESN has any plans to attack Lagos or any part of Nigeria for any reason. We are not terrorists that attack targets.
“The mandate of IPOB is to restore Biafra, while ESN defends our ancestral land against terrorists and killer herdsmen. None of these mandates can be achieved by attacking Lagos. Lagos is Oduduwa Republic and we enjoy robust relationship and synergy with our Oduduwa brethren. So, what is our gain in attacking Lagos assuming that attacks are part of our strategies?
“Based on our understanding of the antics of the federal government of Nigeria, we therefore, wish to put Lagosians on notice to be wary of this Government and its agencies. The purported statement by the CP is a smoke screen under which the security agencies want to hide and unleash mayhem on Lagos residents and turn around as usual to blame it on IPOB and ESN.
“They want to divert attention and carry out an act of terror in Lagos just the same way they are doing currently in the Eastern region. They have been destabilizing Eastern region to pave the way for another special military operation in the region and kill more innocent Biafrans. After commiting their atrocities they still point accusing fingers at IPOB and ESN just to have more excuses to further clamp down on us.
“Today, they have been going from house to house abducting innocent Biafrans, tagging them IPOB, and ESN members and sponsors. Yet the murderous Fulani bandits and herdsmen have continued to unleash terror on Nigerians almost unchallenged. The shameless Nigeria security agencies who flee at the sight of bandits have been busy arresting innocent newspapers vendors in Imo State for commiting no crime other than selling newspapers that contain Biafra stories. But they began too late. They can’t suppress Biafra any longer!
“The antics of the enemies cannot stop our irrevocable resolve to restore Biafra. We also wish to remind the hypocritical Nigeria security agencies that they will pay dearly for any innocent Biafran they kill. This is a sure promise!
“Will the federal government swear that it does not know who brought the killer herdsmen into Nigeria through the porous Northern borders? Who negotiates with the bandits? Who pays them ransom? Why are they trying to change the narrative and divert attention now? IPOB is a peaceful movement and not a terror cell. Our peaceful disposition is the reason we maintain a global presence in over 100 countries. So, any attempt by Nigeria to blackmail us is dead on arrival.” (Vanguard News)
FG allegation of IPOB plan to attack Lagos plot to cause Igbo, Yoruba conflict
Monday May 10, 2021 The statement made by the police today that Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, (IPOB) is planning to attack Lagos represents the high point of intrigue aimed at setting Yoruba against Igbo, a Pan Yoruba group said on Monday
In a statement signed by its official, Apapo Oodua Koya, (AOKOYA) said police claim that IPOB was planning to attack Lagos is suspicious
‘This is clearly another grand plot to set the Yoruba against Igbo. We do not believe the police claim” the statement signed by AOKOYA official Ahmed Akorede stated
The group said police claim is curious given the silence of the same police force when Fulani terrorists have been attacking the entire South West.
AOKOYA said it is not impossible that a rogue group may attack strategic assets in Lagos and put the blame on IPOB in order to set Yoruba and Igbo against each other.
“This is a game of wits. We urge Igbo and Yoruba to be aware. When Fulani terrorists were attacking Yoruba, kidnapping the people, the police did not mention any name. Now that IPOB is fighting for self determination, the Fulani leadership is looking for a way to divide the emerging Igbo and Yoruba solidarity. This evil plot will fail” AOKOYA said
We call on the Federal Government to send soldiers to flush our Fulani terrorists in Yewa, Igana in Oyo and armed Fulani cells across the South West forests. IPOB is not Yoruba problem. IPOB is nor kidnapping Yoruba people. IPOB is not occupying Yoruba forests. IPOB is not kidnapping, raping and killing Yoruba women and students..IPOB is not killing our farmers. The police should focus on Fulani terrorists in the South West instead of blackmailing IPOB”
Ahmed Akorede For AOKOYA
The group urge Igbo and Yoruba to continue to explore areas of cooperation and prevent attempts to set ablaze the growing economic and spiritual ties that have emerged over the past one decade
“We warn the Fulani Federal Government.Do not bomb Lagos, put the blame on IPOB in order to cause disaffection between Yoruba and Igbo. This is an old trick used by Hitler to set people against each other. It is one of the instruments Fulani have employed to keep itself in power. The game is up” AOKOYA said
The police had said that “the threat of IPOB to attack soft targets in Lagos is equally being put on the radar of the command’s intelligence gathering and other security services in the state.
The police said “Strategies are being put in place to neutralize their activities. The command is using this medium to solicit for the support of all and sundry to be vigilant at all times and report any suspicious person or movement to security agencies. Let us adopt the slogan of ‘when you see something, say something.’”
Suspended Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman, on Sunday expressed anger over allegations by the portal by Sahara Reporters that she awarded the Coastline Terminals contract to a proxy company of business mogul Aliko Dangote “in a shady deal”.
“My attention has been drawn to a report published by Sahara Reporters alleging that I, Hadiza Bala Usman “was involved in a clandestine ploy to shortchange a company in favour of Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote.”
“This report is false, without any foundation and a figment of some wild imagination of the news platform,” Ms Usman said while reacting to the story entitled “How Suspended NPA Boss, Hadiza Usman Awarded Coastline Terminals to Dangote’s Proxy Company in Shady Deal”.
“To start with,” she said in a statement, “the Nigerian Ports Authority has an executive management team, which always considers and takes business decisions on all assets of the Authority in the best interest of Nigeria. To claim that I singlehandedly awarded a contract in my capacity as Managing Director, is therefore, irresponsible, mischievous, and defamatory.
“The report also mischievously lumped the now expired service boat contract between the NPA and the Integrated Logistics Services’ (INTELs), which took off in 2007 with a review of a ten-year extension in 2011 to culminate in an expiration in August 2020 with the lease under discussion. The service boat contract expired through the effluxion of time and the Authority initiated a procurement process in which INTELs participated in line with all extant laws.
“Concerning Onne berths 9, 10 and 11, which the report alleged was “clandestinely” taken from INTELs.”
Ms Usman said that the true position is as follows:
• The Authority offered these berths to INTELs in 2013 without any contractual agreement even though the offer letter required that the company should pay rent to the Authority for the use of the berths.
• In 2018, the Authority realised that INTELs had neither been making these payments for five years nor putting the berths to optimal use.
The Authority then wrote INTELs to request for the payment of the arrears of monies that were unpaid and expand the utilisation of the facility.
• With the continued under-utilisation of the facility, the fact that there was no contractual agreement with INTELs from the outset and the urgent need to decongest the ports in Lagos, the Authority offered the berths to an internationally renowned container handling company, Messers International Container Terminal Nigerian Limited (ICTNL) for the use of the berths for container cargo discharging.
• ICTNL has signed a contract for the lease of the berths with the Authority and has commenced the installation of container handling equipment when INTELS instituted a court action challenging the withdrawal of the offer. That case is still in court!
• And according to reports in the media, ICTNL has refuted allegations that it has connections with Alhaji Aliko Dangote. This exposes another disgraceful fabrication by Sahara Reporters.
“I also note the insinuation of a non-existent monetary transfer between Alhaji Dangote and I during the 2015 elections. As I told People’s Gazette when I was approached about this story, no such transaction occurred.
“Having gone through the trouble to give this explanation, I demand that Sahara Reporters publish this rebuttal and give it the same measure of prominence given to the false story, which runs against all known ethics of journalism,” the suspended NPA MD said. (News Express)
Nigeria’s Igbo community have a reputation for being highly successful businessmen – partly thanks to a community-run apprentice scheme that emerged from the ruins of war, writes the BBC’s Chiagozie Nwonwu in Lagos.
A smiling Onyeka Orie, 28, looks the picture of happiness in his mobile phone accessories shop at the sprawling Computer Village in Nigeria’s main city, Lagos.
The shop and everything in it had been given to him by his former boss after Mr Orie worked for him without payment for several years, learning the trade.
“I served my oga [boss] for eight years. My oga gave me this shop. I had been managing the shop for four years before he gave it to me. I didn’t expect it,” an excited Mr Orie says.
Born to farmers in south-eastern Nigeria, he said he had little chance of breaking out of poverty because his family could not afford to give him the education he needed to get a good job in a country where unemployment is rife, even among those with a university degree.
So after secondary school he joined the trail of other young Igbo men to learn a trade under the apprentice system known as “Igba Boi” – a practice where young people, mainly boys, leave their family to live with successful businessmen.
The boys are expected to “serve” their boss, doing everything for him – including washing his cars and running his domestic errands. In exchange, the boys pick up life skills and are taught how to run a business. They are also given food and somewhere to live.
At the end of an agreed period, their boss gives them capital to set up their own business.
The Igbo apprenticeship system has roots in Nigeria’s post-civil-war years, says Ndubisi Ekekwe, a Nigerian professor whose article on the apprentice scheme is set to appear in the Harvard Business Review later this month.
The Igbos, emerging from defeat following the 1967-70 civil war, managed to recover a significant portion of their pre-war economic status within just two years.
This was despite the Nigerian government confiscating bank accounts belonging to many Igbos. It then gave them just £20 ($28) to start anew, while others saw their property seized by neighbours in some parts of the country.
Remembering the war that many prefer to forget
The Peoples Club, a popular social club formed in the town of Aba in 1971, is also credited for kick-starting the Igbo apprenticeship scheme.
The ethos of the club, the Igbo philosophy of “onye a hana nwanne ya” (don’t leave your brother behind) is seen as a guiding principle of the scheme.
“The Peoples Club was a social-cum-economic movement…[that] designed an economic template of how the Igbo could move out of the ruins of the war and began a new movement of survival,” says Benedict Okoro, founder of the Odinala Cultural Heritage Foundation. “That is the genesis of the Igba Boi in Igbo cosmology.”
The apprentice system is mostly aimed at boys and young men as families are generally unwilling to let their daughters live with a businessman for the five years or so it takes to learn a trade.
Women instead usually learn at established businesses where they pay to be taught for six months to one year, while still living at home.
‘I got nothing after seven years’ Prominent Nigerian businessmen such as auto tycoons Innocent Chukwuma of Innoson Motors and Cosmas Maduka of Coscharis Group are among the products of the scheme.
In a 2019 interview with BBC Igbo, Mr Maduka said that the 200 naira ($0.70; £0.50) given to him by his boss at the end of his apprenticeship in 1976 had laid the foundation for his multimillion-naira business empire.
The success of the scheme is also visible in eastern cities such as Onitsha, Aba and Nnewi where sprawling markets attract traders from across West Africa.
But the system is not without its critics, as it relies on the goodwill of the employer to look after the apprentice at the end of their service.
Ndubuisi Ilo, who now runs a successful auto parts shop in Ladipo, Lagos, says he was given nothing after serving his boss for seven years.
“My boss called me one day and told me that he can’t afford to settle [pay] me. He prayed for me and asked me to start hustling for myself. It was very difficult at first and I even had to sleep in cars, but now I look back and smile,” he says.
Nevertheless, he does not consider his apprenticeship a waste of time, as he used the knowledge he gained to start trading.
“Some businessmen don’t want to keep to the agreement because of the amount of money involved in setting up a business for an apprentice that has completed his time.
“Some of them accuse the apprentices of theft or something else and terminate the agreement,” Mr Ilo says.
Igba Boi agreements are usually verbal and when a businessman reneges on them, apprentices have few options for redress.
Strong kinship bonds exists among Igbo people and some disagreements are resolved at village meetings such as this one Since many of the businessmen are relatives, the extended family usually tries to mediate in any disputes and when they fail, the ancestral village of one or both parties steps in and try to resolve the matter.
Sometimes issues are amicably resolved, at other times they are not, leaving the apprentice to fend for himself after years of free labour.
‘An example for Africa’ Mr Okoro’s foundation is looking to institutionalise the Igba Boi scheme to minimise the risk of people defaulting on agreements.
“An institutionalised system would have backing of the law and won’t just be something between the traders and the apprentice and his family,” he says. “The apprentice will even get a certificate after his apprenticeship.”
Mr Ekweke notes that helping potential business rivals goes against traditional capitalist thinking but it goes to the heart of this system, which generally seems to work well for all concerned.
“[Economist] Adam Smith believes that success in business entails ensuring driving out your competitors, but this system is hinged on bringing more people into the business,” he says.
In the forthcoming issue of the Harvard Business Review he says he wants “to present the Igbo Apprenticeship System [IAS] as a thesis for the world as the conversation continues on stakeholder capitalism, not just shareholder capitalism”.
On his website, he suggests that it should be used across Africa. “Put the IAS in Economics textbook in Nigeria!”
‘Better than a university degree’ Current unemployment data in Nigeria paints a dire picture – 33% of those looking for work cannot find any. Many of them are university graduates.
Mr Orie says his financial situation is better than many of his peers who went on to acquire a university education.
He has also started thinking of getting a young man from the village to learn the trade under him, an act that is at the heart of the system.
Many of his peers are now hiring sales assistants to run their shops, rather than using the Igba Boi system.
However Mr Ilo says the future of the system that produced him and millions of other businessmen is safe.
“As long as there are markets and Igbo traders, there will be apprentices,” he says. (Source: BBC)
■Shehu Sani, former senator representing Kaduna central, says the Igbo have been systematically marginalised since the civil war.
Speaking in Kaduna at a meeting organised by the Association of Eze-Ndigbo in Diaspora on Saturday, Sani described the marginalisation as a “collective punishment”.
The civil war took place between 1967 and 1970.
The former senator said the injustice faced by the Igbo affects them in terms of how they are represented in politics.
“There has been a systemic exclusion and marginalisation of your people, stemming from the historical Biafra war — this is a collective punishment,” he said.
While recalling how Faruq Altine, a Fulani man, was elected a mayor in the south-east shortly before the beginning of the war, Sani said the Igbo have proven themselves to be patriotic Nigerians.
“That act alone (appointment of a Fulani man as mayor) sends a message to Nigeria that whatever happens subsequently is not the fault of Igbos,” he said.
“Today, Igbos are being seen as unNigerian, unpatriotic, forgetting the feat Altine achieved in the region.
“Most of those who want to divide this country aren’t picking their reasons from the sky. They are building their reasons on injustice and inequity meted to them. The only way to defeat a secessionist who doesn’t believe in one Nigeria is by giving justice to them.
“Each time we have a government, they give juicy positions to other tribes, excluding the Igbos. When you exclude an Igbo man from appointment, you are proving those who don’t believe in one Nigeria right.
“Since the end of the civil war, Igbo have been distrusted and regarded as unfaithful and unpatriotic Nigerians. The violence going on in the country is capable of thwarting the stability and peace of the country.”
The former lawmaker added that rotation of power in 2023 is what can guarantee peace.
“There can’t be peace and stability when positions in government become hereditary,” Sani said.
“As we move towards 2023, rotation of power is key to peace and unity.” (SaharaReporters)
Suspended Nigeria Ports Authority Manager, Hadiza Bala, was involved in a clandestine ploy to shortchange a company in favour of Africa’s richest, Aliko Dangote, documents obtained by SaharaReporters have revealed.
Last year, some coastline terminals, formerly operated by Integrated Logistics Services’ (INTELs) in Onne ports complex, Rivers State, were confiscated and subsequently awarded to Dangote through a proxy company, International Container Terminal Services (ICTS) Nigeria limited.
Onne Port Complex is one of the largest Oil and Gas Free Zone in Africa, where major industry players from the exploration up to the completion phases operate.
The complex has two major terminals: the Federal Ocean Terminal (FOT) and Federal Lighter Terminal (FLT).
For over a decade, INTELs Nigeria, partly owned by former Vice president, Atiku Abubakar, operated some berths at the Federal Ocean Terminal (FOT) of the complex, providing logistics services until 2020.
The three berths of FOT numbered 9, 10 and were taken over by the NPA in a controversial manner, which many thought was a move by President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration move to witch-hunt Abubakar, his opponent in the 2019 election and break the company’s monopoly.
The NPA, in September 2020, issued a notice announcing that the service operation handled by the Integrated Logistics Services (Intels) Nigeria had been terminated.
It further states that all Service Boats Owners and Operators are to do transactions directly in each of the Port Complex of the Nigerian Ports Authority.
Meanwhile, a memo released to the press, seen by SaharaReporters, showed that Usman had transferred the berths confiscated from INTELs to ICTSI, a proxy company traced to Dangote, five months earlier.
The leaked memo, dated May 13, was signed by Yusuf Ahmed, NPA’s Director of Lands & Asset Admin, on behalf of Usman.
“Please refer to the lease of land and berths 9, 10 and 11 granted to you at FOT Onne and find attached herewith the draft Lease Agreement for a review of its possible contents before the final copy is produced for execution,” the letter addressed to the managing director of ICTSI.
Ahmed urged the company to send their comments for consideration.
“A registered surveyor will be appointed to produce the survey plan of the property to incorporation in the Lease Agreement and you will be required to see the surveyors fees,” it further read.
This was not Usman’s first time dealing with Dangote as money transfers between the duo dates back to 2015.
A Nigerian newspaper, Peoples Gazette, had previously reported how Dangote transferred N200 million to a bank account run by Usman during the build-up of the 2015 general election.
The transactions were sent in two tranches from two different bank accounts of Africa’s richest man to Ms Bala Usman’s account with Access Bank, the newspaper reported.
“Ms. Bala Usman received the first N100 million transfer on February 6, 2015, while the second N100 million came through three days later on February 9. The transfers carried ambiguous descriptions that made it difficult to conclude their purpose.”
Ms Bala was recently instructed to step aside for an independent investigation into a series of allegations of impropriety.
Nigeria’s transport minister, Rotimi Amaechi, also alleged that the yearly remittance of operating surpluses by the regulatory body from 2016 to 2020 was short of the amount due for actual remittance — a claim, which according to him, should be investigated.
On Thursday, no reason was given for the suspension of Usman, who was reappointed for another five-year tenure recently.
She was first appointed as the Managing Director of NPA in 2016.
According to a release by President’s spokesman, Garba Shehu, President Buhari approved the recommendation of the Ministry of Transportation for the setting up of an Administrative Panel of Inquiry to investigate the Management of NPA.
“The President has also approved that the Managing Director, Hadiza Bala Usman, to step aside while the investigation is carried out. Mr Mohammed Koko will act in that position. The panel is to be headed by the Director, Maritime Services of the Ministry, while the Deputy Director, Legal of the same ministry, will serve as Secretary. The Minister will appoint other panel members,” Shehu had said in the release.
While details of some of the other allegations against Usman remain unclear, sources said acts of favouritism were part. (SaharaReporters)
Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom on Saturday took a swipe at his Kaduna counterpart, describing him as “one of the real enemies” of Nigeria.
Mr. Ortom was responding to a statement credited to Governor Nasir El-Rufai, where the latter reportedly accused the Benue Governor of attacking the federal government to cover for his failure to secure Benue state.
“Nasir el-Rufai is a sycophant, ethnic champion and religious bigot who hates anyone who does not share the same faith with him,” a statement signed by Ortom’s spokesman, Terver Akase, said.
“He is among the very few persons who have misled President Muhammadu Buhari.
“El-Rufai is one of the real enemies of this country who do not hide their divisive tendencies by elevating nepotism and ethnicity above the good values that have held Nigeria together over the decades.”
Communities in Benue have recently come under attack from suspected herdsmen prompting Ortom to accuse President Buhari of working with Fulani to take over Nigeria.
The Presidency, in response to Ortom’s comment, has expressed disappointment in the Governor.
Read Ortom’s full statement on El-Rufai:
EL-RUFAI IS ONE OF THOSE WHO HAVE MISLED PRESIDENT BUHARI
We read the statement credited to Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai in which he accused Governor Samuel Ortom of using the insecurity in his state to attack the Federal Government in order to cover up what he termed as the Benue State Governor’s failure.
We want to believe that El-Rufai was wrongly quoted. A man who has failed in several aspects as Governor of Kaduna has no moral justification to accuse another Governor.
A Governor who has divided the good people of Kaduna against one another by not hiding his hatred of indigenes of the state on account of religion and ethnicity is not qualified to judge another Governor on any issue whatsoever. A Governor who chose a Muslim deputy in a state where Christians have a huge population is certainly not one to preach unity and peaceful co-existence.
El-Rufai’s attack on Governor Ortom is merely to make him look good before the Presidency. He has apparently fallen out of favour at the Villa and wants to use Governor Ortom as a launch pad back to reckoning. How has he handled his own problems in Kaduna? This is a man who has insulted almost every prominent Nigerian including the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and former President Olusegun Obasanjo; a man who is his former boss and one who brought him to limelight.
Nigerians have not forgotten the unprintable things El-Rufai said during Goodluck Jonathan’s time as President. He insulted the then President and publicly supported terrorists attacking parts of the country. His statements on the abduction of Chibok girls and several other acts of terrorism are still fresh in our minds. El-Rufai is on record to have said repeatedly that Fulani people must retaliate any wrong done to them no matter how long it takes.
Is Governor Ortom responsible for El-Rufai’s inability to ensure peace in Kaduna State where bandits have taken over some communities while kidnappings and killings occur on daily basis?
El-Rufai admitted to paying Fulani herdsmen whom he invited from other West African countries in the name of stopping attacks in Southern Kaduna. Since he made the confessional statement, attacks on the people of Southern Kaduna have escalated. This is why he wants men of good conscience like Governor Ortom to be silent to pave way for the conquest and expansion agenda to succeed.
Kidnapping has become a common crime in Kaduna State under Nasir el-Rufai. Aside the much celebrated cases, it has been estimated that at every given time, not less that 300 persons are abducted in Kaduna by kidnappers who are always identified as El-Rufai’s kinsmen. He pays them billions to embolden them. He has turned the state into one of the most unsafe places to live in Nigeria today.
Talking about taking someone seriously, if other Nigerians take El-Rufai seriously, we in Benue do not do same. A man who has no regard for humanity does not deserve our attention.
Nasir el-Rufai is a sycophant, ethnic champion and religious bigot who hates anyone who does not share the same faith with him. He is among the very few persons who have misled President Muhammadu Buhari. El-Rufai is one of the real enemies of this country who do not hide their divisive tendencies by elevating nepotism and ethnicity above the good values that have held Nigeria together over the decades.
Nasir el-Rufai doesn’t possess the credentials to counsel anyone on payment of salaries and the welfare of workers. This is a Governor who recently sacked 4,000 workers for no just cause. He ought to be ashamed of himself. What happened to the lofty promises he made to Kaduna people in 2015?
The Kaduna Governor should know that only two days ago, the people of Benue State met at a stakeholders meeting in Makurdi and unanimously passed a vote of confidence on Governor Ortom in recognition of his performance. That meeting was attended across party lines with leaders of All Progressives Congress, APC also present.
El-Rufai and his conspirators must note that Benue State will not repeal the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law, no matter the amount of blackmail, hatred and threats they wage against Governor Ortom.
We advise the Kaduna State Governor to focus on addressing the numerous problems he has created in his state and leave Governor Ortom to lead Benue in peace.
The United States has said there is no plan to relocate its Africa Command from its current base in Germany to Nigeria or any other part of Africa despite the worsening state of insecurity in the region.
The US gave the response barely two weeks after President Muhammadu Buhari, appealed to the US government to consider relocating AFRICOM to Africa to assist Nigeria and other adjoining countries to combat worsening terrorism, banditry and other security crises.
The President made the plea in a virtual meeting with the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, on April 27.
Germany-based Africa Command (AFRICOM) is the US military headquarters that oversees its operations in Africa.
Buhari’s request followed a series of recent military casualties in Nigeria’s decade-long fight against Boko Haram terrorists, fresh expansion of the insurgents’ bases to Niger and Nasarawa States, and heavy waves of abductions and killings by bandits in the North.
Buhari said, “The security challenges in Nigeria remain of great concern to us and impacted more negatively, by existing complex negative pressures in the Sahel, Central and West Africa, as well as the Lake Chad Region.
“Compounded as the situation remains, Nigeria and her security forces remain resolutely committed to containing them and addressing their root causes.
“The support of important and strategic partners like the United States cannot be overstated as the consequences of insecurity will affect all nations, hence the imperative for concerted cooperation and collaboration of all nations to overcome these challenges.
“In this connection, and considering the growing security challenges in West and Central Africa, Gulf of Guinea, Lake Chad region and the Sahel, weighing heavily on Africa, it underscores the need for the United States to consider relocating AFRICOM headquarters from Stuttgart, Germany to Africa and near the Theatre of Operation.”
However, the US government on Thursday ruled out any plan to relocate AFRICOM from its current base in Germany to Nigeria or any part of Africa.
According to the United States Department of Defence’ Pentagon, previous studies have shown that the cost of relocating AFRICOM from Germany to Africa is very huge.
In an emailed response to Saturday PUNCH, the Pentagon said although it would continue to value Nigeria and other countries in Africa as important partners, the American government would not consider relocating AFRICOM to any part of the African continent at the moment.
This newspaper had asked if the US would consider Nigeria’s request to relocate AFRICOM to the continent.
“It would be inappropriate to speculate on any future actions. However, at this time, moving this headquarters (AFRICOM HQ) to Africa is not part of any plans, but USAFRICOM’s commitment to their mission, our African and other partners, remains as strong today as when we launched this command more than a decade ago,” US Pentagon spokesperson, Ms Cindi King, said.
King also ruled out any plan to consider Buhari’s request in an ongoing global US defence review.
She said, “Although there is an ongoing Global Posture Review, the relocation of Combatant Command headquarters is outside the scope of its assessment. In the case of AFRICOM, previous studies have concluded that the cost associated with the relocation of this headquarters is significant and likely to incur the expense of other engagement opportunities and activities that more directly benefit our valued African partners.
“We greatly value the partnership with Nigeria and appreciate President Buhari’s recognition of the United States’ positive contribution to African peace and security, as well as other regional partners that have made similar past pronouncements. The United States remains committed to continuing our close partnership with African countries and organisations to promote security and stability.”
It’s ‘near impossible’ for America to accept Buhari’s invitation –Campbell, ex-US ambassador
Meanwhile, a former United States Ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell, has listed reasons why it is “unlikely or near impossible” for the US government to relocate AFRICOM from Stuttgart in Germany to Nigeria or any part of the continent.
He said aside from the fact that the cost of doing so is very huge, the Nigerian military had proved to be a difficult partner for the US over the years.
In an emailed interview with Saturday PUNCH, Campbell, who is the Ralph Bunche Senior Fellow for Africa Policy Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, a Washington, DC-based think-tank, said, “From an American perspective, moving AFRICOM’s headquarters after 14 years in Stuttgart would be a major undertaking.
“However, should the AFRICOM headquarters move, it is unlikely – if not impossible – that it would be to Africa, with its logistical challenges. Some in the US Congress support moving AFRICOM’s headquarters to the United States as a cost-effective alternative. For example, South Carolina’s senators, both Republican, have advocated moving it to Charleston, the site of large US military installations.
“It is mostly a matter of money. Moving AFRICOM to Africa would require the construction of a sophisticated installation in areas where the basic infrastructure may not yet have been developed. Moving it to the United States would mean making use of already existing but underused installation (e.g., perhaps Charleston) that could be quickly and more cheaply expanded, if necessary.”
The ex-envoy, however, said Buhari’s request marked a reversal of Nigeria’s official opposition to AFRICOM plans to move it to the continent 14 years ago.
“The shift likely reflects the conclusion that the security situation in West Africa and Nigeria is out of control, spurring a willingness to consider options hitherto unacceptable. Buhari argued that AFRICOM’s headquarters should be closer to the theatre of operations. He also seemed to imply greater US involvement in West African security, including a kinetic dimension in the context of greater Western support for West Africa’s response to its security threats.”
He recalled that when President George W Bush established AFRICOM in 2007, a military-civilian hybrid command in support of Africa, African official reaction was largely hostile, seeing the effort as “neo-colonialist.”
Campbell said, “The Nigerian government took the lead in persuading or strong-arming other African states against accepting the AFRICOM headquarters, which was thereupon established at Stuttgart, Germany, already the headquarters of the European Command.
“In addition to opposing AFRICOM in the first place, the Nigerian military authorities have been largely uncooperative with the US military. Hence, the US military involvement in Nigeria, beyond limited training operations, is minimal, and the country does not host any American defence installations.
“Successive Nigerian governments have wanted to purchase sophisticated American military equipment but have rejected US oversight. In fact, Nigerian purchases of US military materials have been rare, despite their high-profile, ultimately successful purchase of 12 A-29 Super Tucanos – sophisticated aircraft.”
Why US can’t relocate AFRICOM troops from Germany to Nigeria –Chatham House fellow
Corroborating Campbell’s view, an Associate Fellow at the United Kingdom-based Chatham House, Matthew Page, said there was no prospect of the US relocating its AFRICOM HQ from Germany to any part of Africa.
Chatham House, also known as the Royal Institute of International Affairs, is an independent policy institute headquarters whose mission is to provide authoritative commentary on world events and offer solutions to global challenges.
Page said, “There is absolutely no prospect of this happening. A combatant command headquarters is an administrative node that requires enormous physical infrastructure and thousands of personnel (and their families) to sustain it. They need to be able to safely live, work, and send their children to school locally. The Nigerian government is unable to safeguard the lives of hard-working Nigerians, never mind a US military installation that would be a juicy target for a terrorist attack.
“With the exception of European Command and Africa Command – which for longstanding historical reasons are located and headquartered in Germany – all combatant commands are located in the United States. These commands do have forward elements and subordinate commands based in the theatre of operations, such as Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) based in Djibouti. But these typically are task-specific and have a light local footprint. The United States is not – and doesn’t want to be – an imperial power with permanent military outposts on the continent. Nor should African leaders be asking it to become one.”
Page, who was previously with the US Department of State’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, further said, “I am sure the Biden administration was puzzled by President Buhari’s invitation, given that Nigeria has been a reluctant and difficult security partner for the United States. The Nigerian Army has long viewed US military engagement in West Africa with deep suspicion, shunning deeper ties and ignoring Washington’s calls for security sector reform and human rights improvements. Inviting AFRICOM to relocate to Nigeria is the equivalent of proposing marriage before going on a first date.”
Nigeria, other African leaders must take responsibility for citizens’ security –Expert
However, a counter-terrorism expert and Senior Researcher for the Lake Chad Basin Programme at the Institute for Security Studies, Dakar, Senegal, Dr Akinola Olojo, has said that Buhari and other African leaders must take responsibility for the security of their citizens, noting that the entire burden cannot be pushed on foreign countries.
He spoke against a backdrop of Nigeria and African countries getting US help in the fight against terrorists and other criminals in the region.
Olojo said, “The relocation of the United States Africa Command from Germany to Africa would depend on a number of factors anchored on the foreign policy priorities of the US in the current period. Beyond this, however, is the need for Nigeria (and African countries) to be sincere with a self-interrogation regarding whether the relocation of an external entity such as AFRICOM will address Africa’s challenges of insecurity.
“The ultimate burden of responsibility for ensuring the human security of African citizens lies on the leadership or governments in Africa. The presence of French troops supporting the G5 Sahel Joint Force for nearly a decade has not really solved the fundamental or root causes of the crisis affecting Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso. To be clear, there is nothing wrong with global partnerships when it comes to addressing insecurity. Besides, challenges such as violent extremism have a transnational character and in early 2020, the US and Kenya launched a joint terrorism task force. As long as such frameworks are mutually beneficial, this is good.
“However, the governments of Nigeria and countries in Africa must begin to live up to the responsibility entrusted to them by citizens. In other words, leadership in Africa must inspire and drive the process for implementing the different policy frameworks and national action plans which already exist on the continent.”
Meanwhile, a government official familiar with US operations said even if the US chose to relocate its AFRICOM to Nigeria or any part of the West Coast, it would come with its own challenges which might affect Nigeria or its neighbours adversely.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, said, “Bringing AFRICOM to Africa or Nigeria will be a major problem for Nigeria and the African continent. Bringing AFRICOM to Nigeria, for example, will be tantamount to inviting or attracting all the enemies of the US, including global terrorist organisations, to the host country. Such a host country will become a subject of attack from terrorist organisations.”
President Joe Biden had in February stopped the planned withdrawal of US troops from Germany that was ordered last year by the Donald Trump administration but had never actually begun, Associated Press reported.
Biden said the troops’ pullout would be halted until the US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin did a review of America’s troops presence around the globe.
Austin, he said, would ensure that “our military footprint is appropriately aligned with our foreign policy and national security priorities.”
In a statement, Austin said the US Department of Defence would conduct “a global force posture review of U.S. military footprint, resources, strategy and missions.”
The review, he said, “will inform my advice to the commander in chief about how we best allocate military forces in pursuit of national interests. The review will be led by the acting undersecretary of defence for policy, in close consultation with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”
Last year, President Trump announced that he was going to pull out about 9,500 of the roughly 34,500 US troops stationed in Germany. The US has several major military facilities in the country, including Ramstein Air Base, the headquarters for US European Command and US Africa Command, and Landstuhl Regional Medical Centre, the largest American hospital outside the United States.
Trump’s order met resistance from Congress as well as from within the military, which has long relied on Germany as a key ally and base of operations. Trump announced the troop cuts after repeatedly accusing Germany of not paying enough for its own defence, calling the long time NATO ally “delinquent” for failing to spend two per cent of its GDP on defence, the alliance benchmark.
Austin hinted at a likely reconsideration of the order in a conversation with his German counterpart.
German officials believe the order will be rescinded by the new administration, and the German Defence Ministry said that in Austin’s call with his German counterpart, he “emphasised that Germany is highly valued as a station and that American soldiers feel very comfortable here.”
“The US continues to consider its presence in Germany as an important part of joint security,” the Defense Ministry said.
Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, on Friday, alleged plot by the Nigerian security agencies to eliminate prominent Igbo personalities.
Kanu alleged that security agencies were plotting to eliminate these Igbo personalities and blame their killing on Eastern Security Network, ESN.
Speaking through the spokesman of IPOB, Emma Powerful, Kanu urged Igbo personalities to be wary of security operatives attached to them.
He assured prominent people of the Southeast that ESN had no intention of killing them.
A statement by Powerful reads: “IPOB ably led by our prophet and liberator Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, has uncovered plot by Nigeria security agencies to eliminate prominent men and women, politicians and stakeholders in the whole of Biafraland and blame it on IPOB and the Eastern Security Network, ESN.
“Every politician in Biafraland must be wary of those officers assigned to them as police or army guarding them. ESN, IPOB has no plan to kill our own in Biafraland because we’re going to get Biafra together. It profits us nothing to kill our own despite the treachery by some of them.
“Our people must be careful because Fulani terrorists in Nigeria army and police uniforms are working tirelessly to ensure that Biafra businessmen, women and politicians are killed in order to pitch Biafrans against themselves and ultimately take undue advantage of the confusion to keep us in bondage.
“But we are smarter than all of them put together. IPOB is raising this alarm for the wise to apply wisdom and avoid being victims of this evil plot.
“Nigerian security agencies have instructed their officers attached to the politicians to start gradual elimination of Biafrans who they were assigned to protect. But we will resist this wicked plot.”
He also lamented that IPOB members and ESN operatives are being arrested by the Nigerian security.
“They are arresting and abducting innocent Biafrans suspected to be members of IPOB or operatives of ESN security outfit. They have arrested more than 68 innocent citizens and detained them at the State CID Awka, Anambra State. Unknown gunmen are doing their own attacks but Nigeria DSS has rather decided to blame ESN operatives and IPOB members instead of investigating to unravel the perpetrators.
“The incessant arrest and secret abductions of suspected IPOB members at Izombe, Agwa and other parts of Oguta and Ohaji Egbema cannot stop us from pursuing this freedom.
Just yesterday, they secretly abducted Obinna Nwuzi, the son of the man whose wife Olivia Nwuzi was abducted and detained in an anti-kidnapping station at Owerri Imo State. The boy just returned from Ebonyi State university to see his family but wicked Nigeria security personnel arrested him. His mother has also been detained for over three weeks now.
“We are warning them never to harm these innocent persons because if they do, they will regret their actions very soon,” he added.