The Federal Government has declared it won’t pay ransom to secure the release of abducted students and teachers of Government Science College, Kagara in Niger State.
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, stated this on Saturday while featuring on Channels Television’s ‘Sunrise Daily’ monitored by The Eagleonline.
He was reacting to speculations and reports that the Federal Government was prepared to exchange the abductees for huge ransom.
But when asked on Saturday whether the government had paid ransom or was considering the payment of ransom, the minister said, “No”.
He said: “We employ kinetic and non-kinetic (measures), you don’t throw away invitation to engage but the overall strategy you keep to your chest.”
The Minister also said the government won’t tolerate any form of criminality in any form.
He said: “Bandits all over the world work with psychology of people. Deliberately, they target women and children because this is what will attract a lot of global outcry. That is exactly what bandits do all over the world.
“The government has put in place, all along, various strategies to contain banditry, to fight insurgency, to fight kidnapping. Some of these measures are kinetic, some are not kinetic. We didn’t get here overnight and that is why it is difficult to get out one day.
“Criminality in any form will not be tolerated by government. At the same time, government has a duty to look at the underlining causes of some of these criminalities in other to address them.
“I was in Minna with my colleagues, the Ministers of Interior and Police Affairs, the IG, and the National Security Adviser on Wednesday to get firsthand information on the abduction of these Kagara schoolboys. I can tell you that as at today that the government is on top of the matter.” (Eagle News online)
■Abducted Passengers, Kagara School Children Will Be Release Soon- Gumi
■Bandits Took Gumi To Where a Whole Community Was Razed by Military Bombardments, Corpses Dumped In Wells
■Bandits leader Berates Gov El-Rufai
By Tukur Mamu (Desert Herald)
In continuation of his efforts to take the message of Islam to armed Fulani bandits and to explore dialogue as the only means of addressing the uprising associated with killings and kidnappings, Sheikh Dr. Ahmad Abubakar Mahmud Gumi has accepted the invitation of Governor Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger State.
The invitation coincidentally came at a time when double tragedy has befallen the state; first with the abduction of over 30 passengers in a bus belonging to the state transport service and the latest kidnapping of school children and their teachers in Kagara. Niger State has suffered most worst bandits attacks in the last three years.
On arrival at the state capital, Sheikh Gumi had gone into a close-door meeting with his host, Governor Bello. During the brief meeting on Wednesday, Sheikh Gumi had emphasized to the Governor the importance of dialogue especially in a society where government did not have the capacity to fully protect lives and properties from incessant attacks. He advised Governor Bello to use part of the money his government is spending on security to address some of the major concerns and grievances of the Fulani herdsmen. Governor Bello had thank Sheikh Gumi for the visit and for his endless sacrifices across the country. He said having tried the military option alone without commensurate success, he is now convinced more than ever before that dialogue and teaching the armed Fulanis about their religion and integrating them into the society as the Sheikh always admonishes government is the only way to address rampant cases of insecurity particularly in his state. Governor Bello told Gumi that his administration is ready for constructive engagement and dialogue with the armed Fulanis and acknowledged that over the years Fulani herdsmen were forgotten by governments at all levels and that there has never been any provision in previous budgets for their welfare in the past. Both Gumi and Governor Governor Bello are in total agreement that given out ransom to the rampaging herdsmen is not the option and that government will resist it and that instead provision of basic amenities like schools, water for human and animal consumption, clinics and job creation will be prioritised for them.
The National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj-Gen. Babagana Monguno, IGP Mohammed Adamu, Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola and that of Information, Lai Mohammed also joined the meeting with Sheikh Gumi at the Government House Minna on Wednesday. The federal cabinet members were at Minna to coordinate efforts in rescuing the kidnapped victims on the orders of President Muhammadu Buhari. Also in the entourage of Sheikh Gumi that attended the meeting includes Prof. Usman Yusuf, Desert Herald Publisher, Mallam Tukur Mamu, Chief Imam of Sultan Bello Mosque, Sheikh Muhammad Suleiman Adam and one of the leaders of Meyetti Allah, Shehu Buba.
Gumi’s team had on Wednesday proceeded to Kontagora where they spent the night and proceeded to Kotonkoro on Thursday morning. Because of the bad road, the journey to Kotonkoro took Sheikh Gumi about 5 hours. The purpose of the difficult journey to Kotonkoro is to visit the dreaded Dutsen Magaji forest where the Sheikh has work tirelessly to secure a scheduled appointment with top commanders of the Fulani bandits that are terrorising Niger State and some parts of Kaduna precisely the notorious Birnin Gwari area. Before his departure to Kontagora, Governor Abubakar Sani Bello has instructed his Secretary to the State Government, SSG, whose office is also in-charge of security in the state to follow Sheikh Gumi wherever he will go. The Governor who has demonstrated determination to end kidnappings and armed banditry in his state assured Sheikh Gumi that whatever recommendation that comes out of his engagement with the bandits as long as it is for their welfare and full integration back to the society his government will support and mobilize resources towards actualising it.
The journey from Kotonkoro to Dutsen Magaji forest is about 50 kilometers and without any provision for road network. It took Sheikh Gumi, the SSG and members of the entourage another two hours before reaching the deadly forest. The highly armed bandits under the leadership of Dogo Gide have strategically positioned themselves at the forest in case of any eventuality. Their faces and appearance demonstrate no mercy and easily sends fear.
Gumi’s peace and preaching mission at Dutsen Magaji forest is so far the most successful considering how volatile the area is and consistency of attacks. During the preaching session, each of the bandits commanders were given the chance by Gumi to address the crowd. They separately narrated their ordeal, their frustrations and why they resorted to banditry. They said they only accepted the invitation because they were told it was Sheikh Gumi. Their overall leader, Dogo Gide and other top commanders (Kachallas) were captured by Desert Herald through video and audio during separate briefings at the forest. Desert Herald is the only news medium that covers the difficult and risky journey to Dutsen Magaji forest. The coverage was done undercover as the top commanders have warned against taking pictures or video.
The top bandits commander, Dogo Gide during his speech had lambasted Governor Nasir El-Rufai for his stand against dialogue and threatened the people of Kaduna state but Sheikh Gumi was quick to interrupt and assured him that all the governors of the North West are now in agreement that the Fulani herdsmen have been forgotten by governments for many years and that they will henceforth work towards giving the herdsmen special attention.
The SSG of Niger State had also delivered the message of Governor Bello to them and assured them about his government’s sincerity and commitment to address their concerns and grievances. He took note of their demands and grievances and promised to convey same to Governor Bello as soon as he arrives Minna for immediate consideration while Sheikh Gumi on his part will monitor progress of implementation before the federal government steps in.
On his part, Sheikh Gumi took time to preach to them about forgiveness, peace and dialogue in Islam. He told them that in Islam there is no justification at all for reprisal attacks, killings, kidnappings and rape. He admonished them about alcohol and drug consumption or taking the laws into their own hands. He assured them that he will not deceive them and urged them not to disappoint him. Sheikh Gumi specifically pleaded with the armed Fulani bandits to immediately release all those they abducted particularly the recent kidnappings that made newspaper headlines across the country. He assured them he will do whatever it takes to convince the president and the National Assembly to create a Commission for the herdsmen that will work towards addressing imbalances and injustice done to the Fulanis. He encourages them to always seek for Islamic knowledge and to be consistent in their 5 daily prayers. Gumi had distributed Islamic books them and hundreds of wrappers for their wives. The items were contributed by the foundation under him.
Apparently satisfied with the sincerity of Sheikh Gumi, leader of the bandits, Dogo Gide has assured him that he will not be disappointed and that on their part they will do everything possible to maintain the peace and give reasonable time pending when they are convinced about what government will do. They complained of what they called excesses of local vigilantes popularly called Yan Sa Kai and how according to them they have been killing innocent Fulanis and warned that if Fulanis are not allowed to move freely without threat and molestation there won’t be end to banditry and kidnappings in the entire north. They took Sheikh Gumi to a settlement of about 1500 people and lamented how military bombardments destroyed the entire community, razed all the houses, killed and dumped bodies of the inhabitants in about three wells. The exclusive pictures and images of the those that were killed and dumped in the wells were taken by Desert Herald. They said the military are just targeting women, children and their animals during bombardments and that as a result of that many innocent lives were lost.
The bandits can be seen much more relaxed and very willing for engagement before the end of the preaching session. From interactions with them, it is understood that most of them are tired living in a jungle life, a life of exclusivity and lack of freedom. What most of them said they are missing much is the freedom to freely move around towns, market and to attend to their traditional and social events. One of them said on the condition of anonymity that he has spent three years in the bush without seeing his mother and that he is willing to go back to his family but is afraid due to uncertainty and how some of them were slaughtered by Yan Sa Kai and soldiers.
The most interesting and fulfilling part of Sheikh Gumi’s engagement and preaching session with the bandits is when the top commander, Dogo Gide promised Gumi that all those that were kidnapped either directly by his people or those he has influenced to talk to will soon be released. It is expected that the Kagara school boys, their teachers and other passengers that were abducted in the state owned passenger bus will be release any moment from now.
Exclusive pictures and videos of Thursday’s visit has been attached to this report. Sheikh Gumi and his entourage had arrived Minna from Dutsen Magaji forest, a journey of more than 7 hours around 3am on Friday.
A former Niger State governor, Babangida Aliyu, has said President Muhammadu Buhari will lose the 2019 presidential election.
He said critical stakeholders who contributed to the President’s electoral victory in 2015 had all deserted the ruling party.
Aliyu said this in an interview with our correspondent during a peace meeting which his reconciliatory committee had with Plateau Peoples Democratic Party leaders in Jos, the state capital, at the weekend.
He said, “What happened in 2015 is what some people would call a Northern revolution.
“We can also say that the PDP really gave Buhari and the APC the victory because if you recall, the G7 was made up of seven serving governors; five of them went to the APC and the current Senate President also went to the APC as well.
“That was what gave the APC victory and now, all of them that joined the party have all returned to the PDP. As far as am concerned, the APC has no chance in 2019 election because we in PDP are not going to make that mistake again.”
The former governor said his party was aware of plans by the ruling APC to rig the election, having lost the goodwill of the people.
He, however, said the PDP had devised a counter strategy to stop the rigging plot and ensure that the votes of the people counted.
He added, “We are not surprised by the intimidation and harassment which we are witnessing from the ruling party.
“We have been telling our members that one needs not be afraid of a party that sees itself being defeated. We are also designing a counter-strategy to make sure that nobody is intimidated.
“Election is about people. It is about development and honesty and not about so called cult building around an individual. It is about number and since we have the number, they will not stop Nigerians from electing Atiku Abubakar as the next President.” (Punch)
A man, Aliyu Mohammed, has cut off the manhood of his 12-year-old cousin, Farouk Ibrahim, for unknown reasons.
The incident happened in the Babana area of the Borgu Local Government Area of Niger State.
It was learnt that Ibrahim was on his way to the farm to deliver food to his siblings, when Mohammed pounced on him.
Mohammed, it was learnt, strangled Ibrahim and cut off his penis after the latter had become unconscious.
Northern City News gathered that Ibrahim, who was left in the pool of his own blood, regained consciousness nine hours later and managed to go home where he narrated his ordeal to his parents.
He was subsequently rushed to a hospital for treatment.
Ibrahim explained to our correspondent on Thursday that Mohammed attacked him at about 6am.
“I did not know what was happening; I woke up in the afternoon and was feeling pains in my manhood. When I looked down, I saw I was bleeding and my manhood had been cut off.
“I had to gather some strength and struggled to get home. I walked and in some places, I had to rest because the pain was much. I never knew one could feel such pain and survive, the pain was excruciating,” he narrated.
The victim’s uncle, Usman Aliyu, explained that the incident took place late December, adding that Ibrahim was taken to the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, where a surgery was carried out and a catheter was inserted to enable him to urinate.
He asked for assistance from government and individuals to enable Ibrahim to undergo a comprehensive surgery so that he could have a functional manhood.
Aliyu told Northern City News that Mohammed had been arrested by the police, and had made confessional statement to investigators about the incident.
He added that Mohammed had also taken the police to the scene of the crime but had yet to give any reason for the violent attack on his cousin.
Usman said that the cost of buying antibiotics for the victim and replacing the catheter every month, coupled with the expenses of transporting him from New Bussa to the hospital where the catheter was changed was gradually taking a toll on the finances of the family.
He appealed for assistance from the state government and individuals.
The Head of Surgery, General Hospital, Minna, Dr. Adamu Bala, who examined Ibrahim, said although the teaching hospital tried to save the situation, Farouk might never have a functional manhood unless he went for an elaborate plastic surgery which is not available in Nigeria.
He said, “I reviewed the case of the boy. His penis was amputated and he was taken to the teaching hospital in Ilorin, they were able to save the situation at that moment.
“They were able to do some kind of plastic surgery to stop the bleeding and they inserted a catheter so that the boy would be able to pass urine. The only unfortunate part was that the amputated part was not seen and could not be sutured back.”
He added, “The situation is really sad because for this guy to have a functional penis, he will need an elaborate plastic surgery, the kind which I do not think we can do here in the country; he will have to be taken abroad where he would be assessed and examined to see how they can fashion a functional penis for him.”
The surgeon said the victim was undergoing psychological and physical trauma as a result of the attack, adding that the family would need assistance from the government and individuals to raise the money for the surgery.
“Right now, there is the psychological and physical disturbance that the young boy is going through. Before now, he would have experienced erection but no, it cannot happen again. Before the incident, he was passing urine normally but now, he is passing urine through a pipe which is very abnormal and can be depressing. He needs urgent help,” Bala said.
The Niger State Police Public Relations Officer, Muhammad Abubakar, confirmed the incident, saying the matter had been charged to court. (Punch)
One of Nigeria’s remotest communities, Birni Amina and Acer of Niger State is just 276 kilometres south of the state capital, Minna. But for all the cultural disparity, which exists between these remote communities in north-central of Nigeria and the rest of the country, one could as well conclude that they exist on an entirely different continent.
As soon as a traveller takes a turn off the main road of Rijau Local Government Area towards these communities, little evidence remains as to whether people actually live on the other end of the eroded, bumpy and rocky path.
The communities are so remote that they do not even appear on Google Maps.
But this is the home of the Kambari people of Niger State, a tribe forgotten by infrastructural development where donkeys provide the only means of transport for a largely agrarian and nomadic people.
To the outside world, these are a forgotten people but to the unclad people inhabiting Birni Amina and Acer communities, their reclusive nature gives them peace and happiness. The two communities hold tenaciously to their culture and tradition to an extent that they insist that nothing would change their ways of life.
The dome straw roof and round mud houses in which the Kambari people currently live have been their homes for decades since they started living in the area. While the rest of the country broils in the heat that sometimes characterises the desert region of the northern states, their homes provide a cool interior that is unrivalled.
For visitors who are not accustomed to the way of life of the Kambari people, the sight of young girls and women and men alike, walking around in the nude would be quite awkward. But not for people of these remote communities.
When our correspondent visited Birnin Amina and Acer, what makes these people so different became immediately obvious. What constitutes societal mores and laws are different in these communities.
It is entirely normal for a 60-year-old man to marry an eighteen-year-old girl. But that is not the strangest. In these communities, cousins marry one another while they never marry outsiders due to the fact that many of their neighbours don’t even understand their cultures.
In Birnin Amina and Acer communities, rape cases are rare because rape is “punished by the gods” with death.
“It is unacceptable and unforgivable and our people are conscious of this,” the Maiunguwa of one of the communities, Gandi Kamuna, said.
According to Maiunguwa, men and women mix freely unclad because their nudity does not elicit any sexual emotion.
“Moving around naked or half-naked is our culture and we don’t care what people say about us. We are comfortable that way because we find it normal.
“What attracts men is not nudity. Our men are attracted by how women plait their hair, good manners and the tattoos the young ladies have.”
When the Kambari people go to the market to sell their farm produce, the women cover the bottom half of their bodies with wrappers while the men do the same.
In Kambari and Acer, marriage is celebrated by slaughtering goats and cows for food while the parents of the bride cook food for the groom. Once the food is eaten, the marriage is contracted.
The Maiugunwa, a 70-year-old man, said since the Kambari people know nothing about what others may term civilised fashion and beautiful clothes hold no appeal for them.
“Western civilisation is another man’s culture. Why must we embrace it, leaving our own that was handed over to us by our forefathers?” he said.
Majority of the people of these communities cannot speak, read or write either Hausa, a language widely spoken in northern Nigeria, nor can they speak rudimentary English. The language is Kambari.
Our correspondent could only speak with the locals through an interpreter, which is necessary for one to conduct any form of business in the communities that require contact with the residents.
What sets the Kambari people apart from many other parts of the north is that the people are pagans. They worship a god called Magiro, while belief in curses, witchcraft and magic is rife among the people.
The locals explained that in the past, missionaries from all walks of life had made spirited efforts to change their belief, but have not been successful.
They maintain that it is a religion handed over to them by their forebears and have guarded it jealously ever since.
But in the midst of all these, something one cannot remove from the people of this area is their kindness. They find joy in helping one another and live in peace. In their world, there is no rancour.
The residents told Saturday PUNCH they have no need for education, primary health care, access to good roads and other social amenities. They prefer to use herbs in treating all their health issues. The only time they mix with outsiders is when they are in the market to sell their farm produce.
In Rijua local council area, Birnin Amina and Acer produce 70 per cent of the crops consumed by the entire people. The most popular crops produced are corn, millet, peanuts, beans, and rice. Nearly all of the locals keep chickens and goats for meat while the richer ones have cattle.
A resident of Rijau council area, Sulaiman Mohammed Kadukku, told Saturday PUNCH that there is no evidence of government presence in Birnin Amina and Acer at all. But the people are not worried.
According to him, since the inception of Niger State, the government had shown no interest in the communities, and has never treated them as citizens of the state.
According to him, “The two communities of the Kambaris tribe have lived here for over 50 years without knowing whether government exists or not and honestly, they are not perturbed because they have all it takes to care for themselves.
“The government only remembers them during political campaigns to seek votes and once the election is over, they are abandoned until the next rounds of election,” Kadukku said.
Kadukku also said that the Kambari people are the food producers of the local government and that without them, the people of the surrounding areas would die of hunger, adding that was why they remain in the bush for the benefit of farming and maintaining their culture and tradition as they got it from their forefathers.
He lamented that efforts of some religious groups to convince them to change their life pattern proved abortive as they cannot compromise their belief; hence they hold it firmly as ever.
“They cannot read and write and are not ready to be modernised. They don’t care what government and other people will do for them. Their tradition to them is the best thing that has happened to them and they cannot avoid it, no matter what.”
Asked whether they are conscious of their nakedness, he said it is part of their tradition. He said it was part of the things handed over to them by their forebears and would not likely change easily.
“Missionaries and other organisations have been trying their best to reform them but could not succeed. They still stick to their belief.”
Apart from Birnin Amina and Acer communities, there are other places in Rijua council that practise paganism like Aulo, Gulubaidu, Dugge, Agwanda, Buni and Arigida. Many non-governmental organisations that have tried to make contact with them and change their beliefs have met with the same disappointment.
The Kambaris are aware that the way of life outside their communities is much different but they seem to be comfortable in retaining their ancient way of life.
Another tradition that they value and cherish is the festival of their god, which is celebrated once in a year. Sacrifices are offered to the god to celebrate the bumper harvest of their crops.
Early marriage for the Kambaris is a common tradition as parents believe marrying off their children at a young age is the best gift they could give them.
In Birnin Amina and Acre, young men who have saved up through their harvests use the money to get married.
Almost every parent regularly has one or two early marriage proposals for their female children whose ages range from six to 17 years.
Kambari men traditionally marry up to four wives and always ensure that their wives are well taken care of equally.
The Maiunguwa (Kamuna), who is also known as Babangida among the locals, confirmed that government has made no attempt to provide any infrastructure in his community in the last 60 years.
Kamuna said, “We don’t need the government to live a wonderful life here. After all, we have been managing ourselves well for over 60 years. Currently, we are about 500 men and women along with about 150 children.
“We don’t actually need the government because we have all it takes to take care of ourselves and that is why we don’t bother them for anything unlike people living in the city.”
The Maiunguwa said, “We are on our own. We believe strongly in our customs and tradition and we don’t need any religion or government to come here and change us. Since the god of our land, Migaro, is protecting us and taking care of all us, we lack nothing.
“The borehole water we drink today is our personal effort. We even have a generator to charge our mobile phones. We have a rice mill and one of our people even has about 300 cows. So, you see, we lack nothing.”
Kamuna explained that his people dress half naked as part of their culture and that nobody has a right to force them to change, since Christians and Muslims cannot be forced to change their religions.
According to him, some groups have tried to convert his people by bringing them gifts. He said it was a ploy to encourage the Kambari people to conform to how the rest of the country lives.
He said such overtures have created a suspicion among the people because they never tried to understand the Kambari culture.
Most parents are against sending their children to school, feeling that it is a waste of time when the children could be doing farm work.
He described the Kambari people as very friendly to strangers in their midst. The only time they do not take kindly to strangers is when such people deride their culture.
Kamuna said, “Social gatherings like weddings and markets draw huge crowds while social vices like drunkenness, sexual immorality and stealing are very rare in our communities. In fact, these things are taboos.
“Due to non-existent health care, our witch doctors handle all the health-related issues while they also communicate with ancestral spirits for blessings, good harvests and other aspects of daily life. Even our wives put to bed through traditional method,” he said.
“I have never been to hospital in my life, including my two wives and my children and we are strong and healthy.”
The Chairman, Rijua Local Government Area, Bello Bako, said there is nothing any person can do to stop the way of life of the Kambari people.
“It is their way of life and they must be accommodated. So many missionaries have tried their best to convert them to embrace Christianity, but they refused to be converted. They are holding their customs and traditions firmly and are surviving with it.
“They are rich farmers and the communities are very peaceful. Even though they don’t depend on the government for anything, they obey the law of the land.”
Asked whether he was aware that the community (Acer) provided borehole water for themselves without government assistance, Bako said, “I am aware that they contributed money for the borehole water and that’s why I said they live in the world of their own helping each other.”
The Niger State Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism. Mr. Jonathan Vatsa, said the culture of the people of Birnin Amina and Acer communities must be respected provided they do not go against the law.
Vatsa said, “There is nothing bad about people adhering to their culture and tradition provided it does not breach the peace of the state.”
He advised people to learn how to live with their culture and tradition and do what is expected of them without fear for peace to reign.
On why the communities are abandoned by the state government, Vatsa said the state government would set up an enlightenment committee in collaboration with the Rijau Local Government to educate the Kambari people on the need to embrace “civilisation so that they can participate in the activities of the government.”
Though they are being neglected for years now, he assured that the present government would provide basic amenities that would improve their lives. (Punchng.com)