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Soldiers Escort Fulani Herdsmen To Ogun Villages, Flog Yoruba Residents For Rejecting Them |The Republican News

– Monarchs, brutalised victims cry for help


Not a few residents of Ketu-speaking villages in Yewa North Local Government Area, Ogun State were brutalised by soldiers who escorted herdsmen to graze in the communities, prompting residents and monarchs to cry out to the military and state government for help, KUNLE AKINRINADE reports.
Seye Mulero panted like a rat that had just escaped the claws of a ravenous cat. He could hardly acknowledge the sympathy offered by the kinsmen that surrounded him, urging him to take heart and seek medical treatment in hospital as he pulled up his shirt to show his badly hurt body at Ubeku village in Yewa North Local Government Area, Ogun State.

“Sorry,” said some of the women repeatedly in Yoruba as Mulero pulled up his shirt to show the wounds from the flogging on his muscular body, urging him to go to the hospital for treatment.

Mulero, one of the young men in the rustic village, had drawn the ire of some soldiers by speaking truth to them. The soldiers, numbering 10, had escorted some herdsmen on a mission to intimidate the villagers after they resisted an attempt by the herders to graze their cattle in the community after alleged repeated attacks and killing of farmers who dared protest the destruction of their farms.

The herdsmen, who had departed the village after their continued presence was rejected by the villagers, had suddenly resurfaced at about 2 pm on December 19, 2020 with a handful of soldiers from the 35 Artillery Brigade, Alamala, Abeokuta.

The soldiers headed straight to the palace of the traditional ruler of the community, Chief Olaleye Adigun, calling out the villagers and warning them against preventing the evicted herdsmen from returning to the village. It was in the middle of this strange encounter that Mulero told the soldiers that the herders would not be allowed to remain in the community because of their brutal killing of residents and the destruction of their farmlands in recent times.

Mulero said: “Everyone was frightened by the action and utterances of the soldiers but I summoned courage to tell them how a Geography teacher Mr. Yomi Akinola and two students of Community High School, Ibeku, among others, were killed by the herdsmen while our women were raped and killed on their ways to the farm.”

Mulero’s blunt comments enraged the herdsmen who immediately asked the soldiers to deal with him. The military men allegedly responded by promptly seizing, kicking and flogging the young man mercilessly, leaving him serious injuries.

Recalling the ugly experience, Mulero said: “Before I knew it, the herdsmen had motioned to the soldiers who immediately pulled me out of the audience and flogged me mercilessly with a wire whip. It was as if I stole something valuable.

“As I speak, my body still aches because of the wounds, even after I had been treated in a hospital.

“Numerous other villagers were subjected to the brutal act as the soldiers escorted the herdsmen from one village to another all in a bid to intimidate us into allowing them to graze on our farms.”

Like Ubeku, like Asa, others
But Mulero and Ubeku village were not the only person and area that tasted the bile of the soldiers who escorted the herdsmen in a military patrol van from one village to another. Innocent indigenes of Iselu, Ibeku, Agbon-Ojodu, Asa and other villages were also harassed and assaulted by the soldiers at the instance of the herdsmen.

After leaving Ubeku, the herders and the complicit soldiers moved to neighbouring Asa, where they reenacted the Ubeku scenario, causing the hapless villagers to panic.

At Asa, the herders sighted Mulero’s brother, Gabriel Mulero, accusing him of being among the crowd that jeered them after his brother was beaten up. There and then, the soldiers seized the young man, giving him some deafening slaps and kicking him mercilessly before whisking him away to a neighbouring village, Agbon-Ojodu, where they dropped him off after elders of the community pleaded for his release.

At Agbon-Ojodu the hapless villagers would not utter a word, having heard how the soldiers harassed and assaulted the Muleros. But despite their foreboding silence, some of the residents received severe beatings from the soldiers for keeping mum.

Gabriel (Mulero) said: “I was returning from a party at Asa with one of our friends named Mathew Adaramaja when my elder brother told me on the phone that some soldiers had led herdsmen to our village and brutalised him.

“To avoid trouble, we stayed away from the scene and sat near some commercial motorcycle operators. Suddenly, one of the herdsmen named Ali led the soldiers to the spot where we were seated and accused us of being one of the people that were opposed to them.

“The soldiers descended on us with fan belts and flogged us severely. They tied our legs and pushed us into their patrol, van threatening to shoot us if we tried to jump down and run away. They said they were taking us to their barracks at Alamala. They accused us of preventing the herdsmen from grazing on our farms and vowed to teach us a lesson.

“However, when they got to Agbon-Ojodu village, elders of the community pleaded with them to free us. We were badly brutalised and we had to visit Ibeku Health Centre for treatment.”

Read Also; Arrest me if you can, Sunday Igboho dares Makinde
Sorrow, tears, blood from attacks by soldiers
About 29 villages in the area had been attacked in recent times by terror herdsmen who were said to have camped at Eggua, a neighbouring town, from where they moved with their hordes of cattle, ravaging farmlands within the Ketu-Yewa communities, which share borders with the Republic of Benin.

The villages include Ateru, Moro, Ologun, Agbon, Igbota, Ogunba-Aiyetoro, Oke-Odo, Ibore, Gbokoto, Iselu, Ijale, Ohunbe, Igbeme, Owode-Ketu, Igan-Alade, Lashilo, Oja Odan, Ateru, Moro, Ologun, Iyana Meta, Igbooro, Egbeda and Kuse.

The armed herdsmen, who usually lead their flock in search of pasture because of the rich vegetation in the Ketu-speaking villages, have also been fingered in the destruction of cash crops belonging to natives, attacks, killing and raping of women who are mostly natives of the communities.

On January 10, 2020, herdsmen reportedly hacked 70-year-old, Pa Sola Ilo to death, and chopped off his son, Abidemi’s hand in broad daylight at Agbon village. Worried by the incident, villagers from the 29 communities staged a rally in protest and declared the herders persona non grata.

One person was reportedly killed on Tuesday May 5, 2020 when suspected herdsmen abducted a policewoman and injured two others in separate attacks in Ayetoro area of Yewa North Local Government.

The herdsmen who had laid siege to the road were said to have shot dead the driver of a commercial bus commuting from Abeokuta to Ayetoro, while the unidentified female police officer attached to the Police Area Command in Ayetoro was abducted and the car she drove was abandoned at the roadside.

The herders also allegedly stabbed one Segun Ileyemi at Olorunda village several times while trying to rob him of his belongings, and he had to be rushed to Ayetoro General Hospital for treatment.

The lawmaker representing Yewa North and Imeko-Afon Federal Constituency, Hon. Olaifa Jimoh, had condemned the spate of attacks, urging security agencies to save the villagers’ lives.

Jimoh said: “It is no longer news that the dastardly act of the Fulani herdsmen in my constituency is legendary as records are available at various offices of security agencies. But for how long will this continue?

“The herdsmen mostly lay siege to the roads as they wait for my constituents, to either rob them of their belongings or kidnap them outright.”

With the assistance of the local vigilance group and operatives of the state police command, suspected herdsmen involved in the killing of one Olabisi Afolabi and attacks on some women at Moro and Eegelu villages in December were apprehended.

One AK47 rifle, pieces of 0.8mm live ammunition, 26 live catridges and two machetes were recovered from the suspects-Mohammed Bello (40), Muhammed Momoh (30) and Yisau Umoru (18).

Although, the suspects were paraded at the state police command in Eleweran, Abeokuta by the then Commissioner of Police, Ahmed Illyasu, their prosecution never saw the light of day.

Residents, monarchs protest, write military authorities
Palpable fear has since taken over the area with residents deserting many of the communities for fear of falling victim to the marauding herders, who are being backed by military escorts.

Panicky villagers told The Nation of their plans to leave their communities for fear of reprisals by herdsmen who have been emboldened by the support from soldiers to forcibly storm their villages and further destroy their crops and attack them.

Oluwafemi Adeyemo, an indigene of Asa, said the incident was an insult to the villagers who ordinarily deserve adequate protection from the military.

Adeyemo said: The intention of the herdsmen is to exterminate us and take over our villages, but we resisted them because they have killed many people around here and ravaged our farms for too long.

“It is thus an insult for soldiers to lead them to our villages in an attempt to coerce us into allowing them to live in our midst and further perpetrate their evil.”

Rafiu Alade, a native of Ibeku said the action of the soldiers was a violation of the rights of the indigenes.

He urged the state government and military authorities to call the soldiers to order to prevent the indigenes from resorting to self-help in order to protect themselves from herdsmen.

“How can soldiers back herdsmen to invade our community? Yet, the soldiers flogged and beat up those singled out by herdsmen as opposing their stay in the communities. That amounts to a violation of people’s fundamental human rights and a nod for perennial lawlessness displayed by the herdsmen in our villages.

“It is high time the state government and military authorities called these soldiers and herdsmen to order. Otherwise, the villagers could resort to self-help to protect themselves against the hoodlums.”

Worried by the development, monarchs of the affected communities petitioned the Nigeria Army over alleged connivance of its men with herdsmen to assault and harass villagers.

The monarchs are the Oniggua of Iggualand, Oba Micheal Adeleye Dosumu; the Eselu of Iseluland, Oba Akintunde Ebenezer Akinyemi; and the Alademeso of Igan Alade, Oba Gabriel Olukunle Olalowo.

The petition titled ‘matter of urgency’ dated January 7, 2021 signed by their lawyer, Mr. Olaoluwa Folalu, was addressed to the Brigade Commander of 35 Artillery Brigade, Alamala, Abeokuta.

The petition reads in part: “Specifically around 2.00 p.m. of the same day, the Fulani herders and suspected soldiers entered Ibeku in a Nigerian Army pick-up vehicle and a private car wherein they proceeded to the house of the Baale (the traditional Head of the Ibeku community).

“The Baale was asked to gather his subjects and people from nearby villages, which he did. The suspected soldiers told the people that the purpose of their visit was to inform them that the Fulani herders would be coming into their communities to graze cows.

“Thus, the soldiers would ensure that there was no breakdown of law and order. After their address, they asked if anyone had question or comment to make in reaction to the information.

“Expectedly, One Mr. Seye Mulero responded by calling the attention of the soldiers to the inherent challenges of allowing the herders in their communities based on the sad previous experiences in the community.

“The said Seye Mulero further cited past killings, maiming and destruction of farms to buttress his point. Sadly, at this point, the soldiers seized him and mercilessly beat him up.

“In the same manner, the Fulani herders in company of the suspected soldiers left Ibeku for Asa, the adjoining village to address the Baale of Asa and his subjects as they had earlier done at Ibeku. Shockingly to the soldiers, after their address, the people refused to respond, having heard what transpired at Ibeku. “However, one of the Fulani herders sighted some people in the audience and picked on them as those that purportedly shouted on them at Ibeku while brutalising their victim (Seye Mulero). The herders asked the soldiers to also deal with them.

“On hearing this, the people took to their heels. However, one Gabriel Mulero, was not so lucky enough as the soldiers grabbed him and ruthlessly assaulted him.

“He was whisked away in their pick-up vehicle to Agbon-Ojodu, another adjoining village, where they compelled the Baale to assemble his subjects for a forceful briefing. It was at Agbon Ojodu that the said Gabriel Mulero was dropped off from the Army pick-up following pleadings by some community leaders.

“Kindly be informed sir that the alleged issue of procuring soldiers by herders to escort them to forcefully graze on the people’s farm, the attendant molestation of the innocent people by the alleged soldiers and the destruction of farms are known to the Police.

“On 3rd January 2021, the State Commissioner of Police (CP), Ogun Command brokered a meeting over the matter at the Police Divisional Headquarters, Eggua.

“During the meeting, some of the herders confirmed that they brought the soldiers that escorted them while grazing their herds on the people’s lands; a development that the CP himself strongly condemned.”

It will be recalled that the immediate past administration of Governor Ibikunle Amosun had initiated a committee in a bid to resolve incessant herders-farmers clashes.

“The committee had comprised community and traditional leaders as well as the leadership of herdsmen in the state, but the modalities recommended by the committee, which included the registration and monitoring of herdsmen by community and traditional authorities, were never implemented throughout the tenure of Governor Amosun.

When The Nation contacted the Public Relations Officer of 35 Artillery Brigade, Major Osoba, he said that he would contact his ‘boss’ to revert to our correspondent on the matter.

“I will tell my boss about your enquiry and he would contact you and give you explanation,” he said.

He, however, had not done so at press time.

Also, the spokesman of Ogun State Police Command, Mr. Abimbola Oyeyemi, said he was in a meeting when our correspondent called him on his mobile phone. He too had not reverted as promised at press time.

Speaking with our correspondent Oba Akinyemi urged the state government to intervene and resolve the matter once and for all.

He said the soldiers had usurped the role of the police in the matter.

“Soldiers have no business escorting herders to graze on our farms; what they did is tantamount to usurping the police, who are statutorily mandated to maintain law and order.

“The state government should wade into this matter and ensure that justice is served as indigenes will not give up their farms and cash crops to be destroyed by herders.”

Oba Akinyemi noted that the herders were trying use the confrontation they had in Benin Republic to launch mindless attacks on his people, using soldiers.

He said: “The armed herdsmen were recently repelled in Oguba-Ayetoro, a Yoruba-speaking community in Benin Republic which shares boundary with my kingdom. They went into the village to graze, not knowing they were already in another country and the gendarmes (police) repelled them.

“Grazing is outlawed in the francophone country and authorities of Benin Republic had communicated this policy to their Nigerian counterparts, hence, the police there confronted the herders.

“Now, they are passing off the village for a Nigerian territory and using it to foment trouble everywhere.

“The state government should also empower and involve the local council areas in initiatives aimed at bringing peace and maintaining law and order in our communities to avoid clashes, as indigenes are tired of being terrorised by herders.” (The Nation)

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Navy Personnel, Soldiers Brutalise, Urinate On Widow, Children In Cross Rover |The Republican News

Archive photo: Nigerian army, mobile police officers

■ The military personnel also urinated on the widow and the family after beating them for several hours.

A Nigerian Navy officer, Victor Owonam, allegedly led nine military personnel to the residence of a widow, Mrs. Esther Bassey, and her family in Cross River State, brutalising and dehumanising them.

The military personnel also urinated on the widow and the family after beating them for several hours.

SaharaReporters learnt that the incident occurred on Sunday, in the afternoon when Owonam, a Seaman, and his sister, also a navy officer, stormed the widow’s residence and dragged her and her four children out of the apartment.

In a petition, the Country Director of a civil society, Citizens’ Solution Network, Richard Inoyo, stated that the Cross River State Governor, Prof Ben Ayade, and the Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas, should investigate the assault and bring the erring officers to justice.

But there was nothing stated in the petition as the reason why the navy personnel carried out the alleged assault on the family.

Narrating the incident further, Inoyo said, “On December 27, a naval officer, Victor Owonam, led his sister, also a naval woman, and eight military personnel to the residence of Mrs. Esther Bassey, an aged widow with three daughters and a son. They gave this helpless family the harshest and most violent humiliation of their lives, after cowardly beating and torturing the aged widow and her kids for hours.

“At 10pm the same day, unsatisfied with the first robust beatings given to the woman and her family, Owonam returned with his military colleagues to the apartment, pulled down the burglary of her house, dragged her and her kids out. Before they could get dressed, the military men clamped them into a vehicle belonging to Operation Akpakwu (a new Security outfit in Cross River State) and took them to Bogobiri and began to beat this family again.

“They humiliated them, urinated on them after severe beatings, continued till about 3am the next day in the dead of night before they were asked to leave in excruciating pains and humiliation. One wonders if we are in the 21st century or some barbaric 4th century where humans were treated like animals.

“Today, in solidarity with Mrs. Bassey, her kids, we and 39 other civil organisations are demanding justice for the family and calling on the Chief of Naval Staff to recall, arrest and try Owonam, his sister and the eight other military personnel who cowardly inflicted such high-level form of torture on the aged widow and her three daughters and son.”

The group also called on the governor to “stand up and ensure this case doesn’t get swept under the rug.”

“We equally call on the highest echelon of the Nigerian Navy to ensure due compensation and apology is handed to the family of Mrs. Esther Bassey besides the dismissal of all the indicted officers.

“A country where men in naval uniforms will abuse their privileges and mercilessly beat a defenceless widow sends a dangerous and disgraceful message to both the Nigerian Navy and international community, hence the need to offer justice to these victims of naval brutality, so as to serve as a deterrent to other erring uniform men,” Inoyo added. (SaharaReporters)

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ICC To Investigate Nigerian Security Agencies Over “Crimes Against Humanity” |The Republican News

ICC building and Chief Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda

Statement of the Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, on the conclusion of the preliminary examination of the situation in Nigeria

​Today, I announce the conclusion of the preliminary examination of the situation in Nigeria.

As I stated last year at the annual Assembly of States Parties, before I end my term as Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (“ICC” or the “Court”, I intend to reach determinations on all files that have been under preliminary examination under my tenure, as far as I am able. In that statement, I also indicated the high likelihood that several preliminary examinations would progress to the investigative stage. Following a thorough process, I can announce today that the statutory criteria for opening an investigation into the situation in Nigeria have been met.

Specifically, my Office has concluded that there is a reasonable basis to believe that members of Boko Haram and its splinter groups have committed the following acts constituting crimes against humanity and war crimes: murder; rape, sexual slavery, including forced pregnancy and forced marriage; enslavement; torture; cruel treatment; outrages upon personal dignity; taking of hostages; intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population or against individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities; intentionally directing attacks against personnel, installations, material, units or vehicles involved in a humanitarian assistance; intentionally directing attacks against buildings dedicated to education and to places of worship and similar institutions; conscripting and enlisting children under the age of fifteen years into armed groups and using them to participate actively in hostilities; persecution on gender and religious grounds; and other inhumane acts.

While my Office recognises that the vast majority of criminality within the situation is attributable to non-state actors, we have also found a reasonable basis to believe that members of the Nigerian Security Forces (“NSF”) have committed the following acts constituting crimes against humanity and war crimes: murder, rape, torture, and cruel treatment; enforced disappearance; forcible transfer of population; outrages upon personal dignity; intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population as such and against individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities; unlawful imprisonment; conscripting and enlisting children under the age of fifteen years into armed forces and using them to participate actively in hostilities; persecution on gender and political grounds; and other inhumane acts.

These allegations are also sufficiently grave to warrant investigation by my Office, both in quantitative and qualitative terms. My Office will provide further details in our forthcoming annual Report on Preliminary Examination Activities.

The preliminary examination has been lengthy not because of the findings on crimes – indeed, as early as 2013, the Office announced its findings on crimes in Nigeria, which have been updated regularly since. The duration of the preliminary examination, open since 2010, was due to the priority given by my Office in supporting the Nigerian authorities in investigating and prosecuting these crimes domestically.

ICC building in Den Hague

It has always been my conviction that the goals of the Rome Statute are best served by States executing their own primary responsibility to ensure accountability at the national level. I have repeatedly stressed my aspiration for the ability of the Nigerian judicial system to address these alleged crimes. We have engaged in multiple missions to Nigeria to support national efforts, shared our own assessments, and invited the authorities to act. We have seen some efforts made by the prosecuting authorities in Nigeria to hold members of Boko Haram to account in recent years, primarily against low-level captured fighters for membership in a terrorist organisation. The military authorities have also informed me that they have examined, and dismissed, allegations against their own troops.

I have given ample time for these proceedings to progress, bearing in mind the overarching requirements of partnership and vigilance that must guide our approach to complementarity. However, our assessment is that none of these proceedings relate, even indirectly, to the forms of conduct or categories of persons that would likely form the focus of my investigations. And while this does not foreclose the possibility for the authorities to conduct relevant and genuine proceedings, it does mean that, as things stand, the requirements under the Statute are met for my Office to proceed.

Moving forward, the next step will be to request authorisation from the Judges of the Pre-Trial Chamber of the Court to open investigations. The Office faces a situation where several preliminary examinations have reached or are approaching the same stage, at a time when we remain gripped by operational challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, on the one hand, and by the limitations of our operational capacity due to overextended resources, on the other. This is also occurring in the context of the pressures the pandemic is placing on the global economy. Against this backdrop, in the immediate period ahead, we will need to take several strategic and operational decisions on the prioritisation of the Office’s workload, which also duly take into account the legitimate expectations of victims and affected communities as well as other stakeholders. This is a matter that I will also discuss with the incoming Prosecutor, once elected, as part of the transition discussions I intend to have. In the interim, my Office will continue to take the necessary measures to ensure the integrity of future investigations in relation to the situation in Nigeria.

The predicament we are confronted with due to capacity constraints underscores the clear mismatch between the resources afforded to my Office and the ever growing demands placed upon it. It is a situation that requires not only prioritization on behalf of the Office, to which we remain firmly committed, but also open and frank discussions with the Assembly of States Parties, and other stakeholders of the Rome Statute system, on the real resource needs of my Office in order to effectively execute its statutory mandate.

As we move towards the next steps concerning the situation in Nigeria, I count on the full support of the Nigerian authorities, as well as of the Assembly of States Parties more generally, on whose support the Court ultimately depends. And as we look ahead to future investigations in the independent and impartial exercise of our mandate, I also look forward to a constructive and collaborative exchange with the Government of Nigeria to determine how justice may best be served under the shared framework of complementary domestic and international action.

The Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC conducts independent and impartial preliminary examinations, investigations and prosecutions of the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression. Since 2003, the Office has been conducting investigations in multiple situations within the ICC’s jurisdiction, namely in Uganda; the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Darfur, Sudan; the Central African Republic (two distinct situations); Kenya; Libya; Côte d’Ivoire; Mali; Georgia, Burundi Bangladesh/Myanmar and Afghanistan (subject to a pending article 18 deferral request). The Office is also currently conducting preliminary examinations relating to the situations in Bolivia; Colombia; Guinea; the Philippines; Ukraine; and Venezuela (I and II), while the situation in Palestine is pending a judicial ruling.

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Nigerian Army To Begin Operations Python Dance IV, Ayem Akpatuma II, Crocodile Smile IV |RN

Nigerian Army officers during military operations across the country

In her spirited efforts to combat insecurity across the nation, the Nigerian Army (NA) is set to commence simultaneous routine training exercises in the various Geo-political zones of Nigeria.

The exercises are Exercise AYEM AKPATUMA 11 in the North Central and parts of North Western States of Benue, Nasarawa, Kogi and Taraba as well as Kaduna and Niger States in 1 and 3 Divisions Area of Responsibilities (AOR) including Headquarters Command Army Records, Guards Brigade and 707 Special Forces Brigade.

Exercise EGWU EKE 1V which will be carried out in the South Eastern part of Nigeria comprising Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo States in 82 Division AOR.

While Exercise CROCODILE SMILE 1V will as usual take place in the South South and parts of South Western States of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Lagos, Ogun and Rivers States in 2, 6, 81 and 82 Divisions’ AOR.

Similarly, Operation POSITIVE IDENTIFICATION will also be extended across the nation to checkmate bandits, kidnappers, armed robbers, ethnic militia, cattle rustlers as well as other sundry crimes across the various regions of Nigeria.

In the same vein, as part of Programmes inbued in to the exercises, – the Nigerian Army Women Corps, will stage a robust show of force/confidence building patrols in some selected locations in Nigeria.

Accordingly, in order to consolidate on the existing cordial Civil-Military Relations, an elaborate Civil Military Cooperation Line of activities in the areas of community outreaches such as free medical outreach, educational outreach, rehabilitation of identified dilapidated roads, hospitals, schools and old peoples homes in various selected communities in Nigeria.

Additionally, the Nigerian Army Officers’ Wives Association, will as usual, visit and donate to motherless babies homes and other identified disadvantaged groups in selected communities across the nation.

These exercises will start concurrently from the 7th of October to 24th of December 2019.

The NA, once again, use this opportunity to enjoin all Nigerians not to panic on seeing an increased presence of military personnel and other security agencies as well as movement of Military vehicles /hardwares.

The NA wishes to reassure the nation of her commitment and determination to secure the country, protect lives and properties of all Nigerians (which in addition to training of her personnel) is one of the basis for the exercises.

SAGIR MUSA
Colonel
Acting Director Army Public Relations
25th September 2019

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25 Police, Soldiers Arrested In Taraba As Probe Shows They Are On Payroll Of Notorious Kidnapper, Wadume

SECURITY operatives have arrested 25 people in connection with the recent murder of three policemen in Taraba State who were shot by soldiers while they were taking notorious kidnapper Hamisu Wadume into custody.

In one of the biggest breaches of security ever known, the three policemen were shot dead by troops of the Nigerian Army who are suspected of being on the payroll of the kidnapper. After shooting the Intelligence Response Team (IRT) policemen in cold blood, the soldiers then set Mr Wadume free and he remains at large up until now.

Enraged by the incident, the Nigeria Police Force claim that the soldiers were in cahoots with the kidnappers and it has emerged that the army captains who ordered the shooting spoke with Mr Wadume on the phone 191 times. According to one source, Mr Wadume maintained and oiled a machinery of security operatives, including police and military personnel from across Taraba State, who fed him with information on movements and location of victims for kidnapping.

They were also said to have fed the kidnap kingpin with dossiers of those capable of paying good ransom fees as well as possible hideouts and escape routes. Through tracking and interception facilities, investigators were able to discover conversations which unravelled the roles of both the police and military personnel who were on the kidnappers’ payroll.

One source said: “I can tell you that over 20 military and police personnel have been arrested since this investigation started. They gave the kingpin coverage all these years the police have been looking for him, which is the reason it has taken this long to get him.”

The killing of the IRT members, including Assistant Superintendent of Police Felix Adolije, Inspector Mark Ediale, Sergeants Usman Danzumi and Dahiru Musa as well as civilian Olajide Owolabi, sparked off national outrage, with family members, individuals and groups calling on the federal government to ensure justice was done on the matter.

The joint investigation panel is headed by Rear Admiral Olaiya and has a representative each from the army, navy, air force, police, Department of State Service and the Defence Intelligence Agency.

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Taraba Police Killings Latest: Army Captain Had 191 Chats With Wanted Kidnapper |The Republican News

Scene of the accident and killings by the Nigerian army officers

By Emma Nnadozie, Crime Editor, Evelyn Usman & Ifeanyi Okolie

ABUJA—The Nigerian Army Captain who allegedly ordered soldiers on security check-point along the Ibi-Jalingo Expressway in Taraba State, to attack and kill police operatives attached to the Inspector General of Police Special Intelligence Response Team, IRT, has been identified.
Vanguard gathered, yesterday, that police investigation carried out so far has revealed that telephone conversations between the kidnap kingpin, Wadume and the Captain, were about 191 within the space of one month between July 9, 2019, and August 6, 2019. The source explained that the police authorities believed that the army captain might have been providing cover for the kidnapper, who is said to have received hundreds of millions as ransom from his victims.

Vanguard gathered that the Army Captain , who is currently undergoing interrogation at the Defence Headquarters Abuja, was arrested alongside five other Army personnel, who were alleged to have taken part in the horrific killing of the three policemen and their two civilian agents in an operation to arrest a notorious kidnapper, Alhaji Hamisu Balla, alias Wudume, in Ibi area of Taraba State.

Vanguard learned yesterday that the arrested solders confessed that they received orders to attack the policemen from the captain, whom they said informed them that Wadume had been kidnapped and was being transported in a silver-coloured Toyota Hiace Bus.

A source at the Defence Headquarters, Abuja, told Vanguard that the soldiers claimed that they acted squarely on the orders of the captain, being their superior officer, but Police sources at Force Headquarters Abuja, disclosed that the police authorities have established strong links between the army captain and the notorious kidnapper, alleging that the army captain was on the kidnapper’s payroll.

The source added further that its investigations have also revealed that the army captain, who was not present in Ibi Town at the time the IRT operatives arrested Wadume, might have ordered his men to attack and kill the IRT operatives as well as rescue his friend, the kidnapper.
Petition against Wadume received

Meanwhile, Vanguard also gathered, yesterday, that the IRT’s manhunt to arrest and bring down Wadume’s kidnapping empire began in March 2019, when it received a petition from one Sheriff Umar of Kirikinua South Local Government Area of Kaduna State. It was gathered further that the petitioner reported that his cousin, Usman Mayo was kidnapped on the 15th of February, 2019 at Takum Local Government Area of Taraba State and his kidnapper demanded the sum of N200 million as ransom for his release.
The source explained that the family of the kidnapped victim negotiated and paid the sum of N85 million first, on March 11, 2019, but the abductee was not released. He said they paid an additional N15 million, on March 16, 2019, making a total sum paid to the kidnappers N100 million and the kidnappers refused to release their victim insisting that the family must pay the N200million they demanded.

The source explained that the family reported to the police and the IRT was drafted to investigate and track down the suspects behind the kidnapping and rescue the victim.

It was learned that while investigations into the matter commenced, members of the kidnapped victim’s family paid an additional N20m to the kidnappers and the victim was released, but the police discovered during investigations that Wadume had strong links to the kidnappers, who got N120 million as ransom from their victim.

I sold 6 AK-47 rifles to Wadume — Ajomo

The police source, further disclosed that it investigations also revealed that Wadume, had bought several AK-47 rifles from a notorious trans-border arms dealer, Ojomo Adebowale Gbenga, who was arrested in May 2019, by operatives of the IRT for supplying heavy arms and ammunition to kidnappers and armed robbers.

45-year-old Ojomo, said to be a major arms dealer in the South-Western part of the country, made startling revelations about the fleeing Wadume during an interview.

Ojomo, who was earlier in the year paraded by police authorities over his criminal activities and later detained in Lagos, told Vanguard that he met Alhaji Wadume four years ago in Benue State and had been selling arms to him under the guise of using them to fight terrorist Fulanis.

Speaking with Vanguard, Ojomo said that he got to know Wadume through his business partner, Moses in Benue State, and he told him that he needed rifles to fight herdsmen who were killing farmers in his community. The gun runner explained that he got all the rifles, which he sold to Wadume and his friends from Burkina Faso, Mali and Libya and he said he sold the arms to them because they told him that they were having community clashes.

He further disclosed: “I started selling fire arms since 1993 after my secondary school. I worked with a company that deals on licensed arms in 1993 and I left in 1996 and went to school but, I linked up with arms dealers in Ibadan, which is the headquarters of arms dealing in the south western part of the country. I started selling automatic firearms which is prohibited, then one of my friends who is now late, Moses led me to the north. He took me to Benue State and I sold arms to several people, including Alhaji Hamisu (Wadume). He came to me through Moses’ contacts and they identified him as a don. You know arms dealing is a cartel business. I knew very little about him and I sold eight rifles to him in 2015 and in January 2019, he called again and told me that he needed 10 rifles, but I had only six and because he was in hurry, I sold them to him at N800,000 each, and the bullets for N350,000 per can. But after my arrest, I gave information about him to the police. It was while in detention I heard he has been arrested.
Police inspector arrested, recants

Also, a Police Inspector who was accused of informing the Army that operatives of the Inspector-General of Police Intelligence Response Team that visited Ibi community in Taraba state, last week to effect the arrest of the suspected kidnap kingpin did not report to Police authorities, has been arrested.

Preliminary investigation, as reliably gathered, revealed that the policeman was cajoled to say so in order to cement pieces of evidence by troops of the 93 Battalion that the operatives were not only kidnappers but were there on an illegal duty.

It was also learned that one of the villagers who allegedly collected the firearms from the dead policemen revealed during interrogation that the weapons belonging to the slain police officers were collected from him by some soldiers.

Vanguard learned that the Police inspector attached to Ibi Police Station confirmed that the operatives visited the station to inform the senior officer there that they had concluded their operations and were leaving with the arrested suspect.

Unconfirmed reports said the policeman was given an undisclosed amount of money to maintain his stand that he told the troops that the policemen did not report at the station.

However, sources said the Inspector denied during interrogation at Force Headquarters, Abuja, that he did not collect any money from the Army.
It was further learned that about three villagers collected the firearms that were flung in different places into the bush after the police team was shot when their vehicle somersaulted. One of them was said to have taken the arms to his home from where it was collected by the soldiers.
A villager who spoke on the condition of anonymity revealed that the suspected kidnap kingpin who is still on the run, is a popular person in Ibi community.

He was said to have contested for the House of Assembly, Ibi constituency in the last election, under the Young Democratic Party, but lost.
The 35-year-old man, said to be a petty trader, was revered in the community, due to his philanthropic nature.

He was said to have bought motorcycles for some youths, some of who thronged the scene where the operatives were killed, jubilating that their benefactor’s enemies had been overpowered.

At the moment, villagers in Ibi community are said to be keeping sealed lips on what transpired during the arrest of the suspected kidnapper, last week, for fear of being attacked by loyalists to the suspect.

Some of those close to the kidnap suspects have taken to their heels, apparently to avoid being arrested over his whereabouts.


Widow to address press today

Meanwhile, widow of the slain Inspector Mark Ediale, who is yet to come to terms with the rude shock of her husband’s demise, has left Lagos for the Force headquarters, Abuja, where she was received by senior police officers who condoled her and other widows over the tragic incident.
But her late husband’s family, it was reliably gathered, will be briefing journalists in Abuja today, where some salient questions would be posed to killers of their son.

The family, Vanguard learned, is requesting an explanation on how Inspector Ediale died when he was seen alive in a video clip that went viral. (Vanguard)

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‘Fight Criminality, Terrorism In S’West And S-East’ – Buratai Orders Soldiers |RN

by Ifeoma Okereke

The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai has charged Commanding Officers of Army units within the South South, South East and South West zones of the country to work towards tackling crimes and criminality within their areas of responsibilities. General Buratai spoke at the Nigerian Army First Commanding Officers workshop for 2019, urging the Commanding Officers to tackle kidnapping, smuggling, pipeline vandalism and terrorism.

He tasked them to work close with the authorities within their areas of responsibilities to be able to gather intelligence and ensure that they nip crisis rocking these areas in the bud. The Army Chief, who was represented by the Commander, Nigerian Army Signals Corps, Major General Mohammed Mohammed, urged the commanding officers to refresh their minds on how to confront criminality within the areas they are deployed to.

He said that all operations in which the Army was involved in across the country was to sharpen the knowledge of the commanding officers and make them perform optimally, adding that the workshop was put together to ensure that they share knowledge with other Commanding Officers participating in the workshop.

He said: “We have informed the commanding officers to understand that workshops like this are intended to refresh their minds, their experiences and for them to share knowledge with their colleagues from other regions.

“Like you understand, the commanding officers here are from the South South, South East and South West and there is rich knowledge of activities going on in these areas. So, bringing them together here is for them to share knowledge and to understand also the new directive and policies that will guide their conduct and understand the need to integrate with the societies where they are working.”

General Brutai tasked the officers to learn from their contemporaries on how to apply leadership skills in their various units, adding that the workshop was aimed at improving the skills of the Commanding Officers towards developing a more professional and efficient approach to the performance of their statutory roles in both peace and war times.

“I am highly delighted to be in this occasion of the first Commanding Officers workshop, which is highly necessary in line with our vision to the security challenges confronting us on daily basis, and also to find a solution to those challenges,” he said.

Earlier, the General Officer Commanding 81 Division, Major General Musa Yusuf, said the training activities were designed by the Army Headquarters to enhance and build the capacity of the Commanding Officers.

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Army Wants Mohammed, Who Disclosed How Much Boko Haram Members Earn Daily To Be Probed |RN

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The Nigerian Army says it is taking steps to report Dr Sidi Ali Mohammed, a member of Presidential Committee on the North East Initiative (PCNI), to appropriate authority over his knowledge on Boko Haram welfare.
The spokesman of the army, Col. Sagir Musa made this known in a statement on Wednesday.
Musa was reacting to Mohammed’s allegation that the “terrorist group members earn as much as $3,000 daily as against the Nigerian soldier who is paid N1, 000 only.’’
He, however, urged Nigerians to discountenance the statement credited to Mohammed, saying “steps are being taken to formally report him to the appropriate authorities to further substantiate these unfounded allegations.’’
Musa said that the Nigerian army’s attention was drawn to the “false claim credited to Mohammed as published by the Sahara Reporters and other social media platforms.’’
“In it, he alleged that the criminal terrorist group members earn as much as $3,000 daily, as against the Nigerian soldier who is paid N1, 000 only.
“This is not true, pure lie and highly irresponsible comment coming from a supposedly knowledgeable person of his calibre.
“It is also criminal and preposterous to compare the gallant soldiers of our Armed Forces with the rag tag terrorists’ criminal gang.
“Indeed there is no such basis at all between the outlawed criminal terrorist who commits crime against humanity and our highly patriotic, courageous and brave soldiers whose sacrifice cannot be quantified,’’ Musa said.
He said over time, the army had been alerting the world that the menace of Boko Haram terrorism was being “aided and abetted by sympathisers such as Doctor Sidi Ali Mohammed.’’
“He must have been associated with the terrorists’ group beyond what he may want the public to know for having the knowledge of how much a terrorist earns per day to commit atrocities against fellow Nigerians and other innocent people including women and children.’’
The army spokesman alleged that Mohammed’s statement could be part of a deliberate attempt to demoralise patriotic troops serving their fatherland so that the terrorists. (Scannews)

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Don’t Repeat Operation Python Dance Experience, Ohanaeze Warns Army |RN

  •  Southern Christians task INEC, security agents on credible elections

Raphael Ede, Enugu

 

Ohanaeze Ndigbo has warned the Federal government and Nigerian Army in particular against a repeat of September 2017, Operation Python Dance experience which saw Igbo sons and daughters being killed in a gruesome manner without consequences.

In a statement, the Ohanaeze President-General, Chief Nnia Nwodo, said that the marching orders given by the Chief of Army Staff to Division and Garrison commanders in the South East of Nigeria to go after IPOB members in the region in order to forestall their threat to boycott the forthcoming general elections might be a well-planned agenda to execute carnage. IPOB had threatened to hold a referendum on the said date.

Chief Nwodo said “Ohaneze is disturbed that this kind of order might be misconstrued to execute carnage, drowning in shallow water and inhuman and degrading treatment on our youths as happened in the last Operation Python Dance in Abia State.

“IPOB remains a peaceful organisation championing self-determination. Their last threat for a boycott of Anambra State elections witnessed no violence but instead, we saw a higher turnout of voters than in the previous elections. The army did not order any such operation then as they are ordering now.

“We hope this operation is not aimed at scaring the people of the South East from coming out to cast their votes. We should be allowed to use our traditional rulers, community leaders, and religious leaders to restrain our children,” it said.

Meanwhile, the Southern Christian Forum on Tuesday warned the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and the security agencies against compromising the forthcoming general elections.

It said that anything short of the credible election would not be accepted by Nigerians and would be resisted.

This was contained in a communiqué the forum issued after an emergency meeting of the youth wing of the forum.

The communiqué signed by Priscilla Adetoye, Vice Chairman, South-West; Iniabasi Asuquo, Secretary, South-South, and Deacon Vincent Ogbonna, Chairman, South-East, said the INEC must allow the will of the people to prevail in the elections.

It read: “Christians should come out en-mass and support a man who can restructure and revive the country’s economy.

“The Christian youths should shun violence before, during and after elections,” they said, adding “the security agencies must, however, be non-partisan in the discharge of their duties during the elections.

“That the Independent National Electoral Commission should ensure that there is free, fair and credible election across the country.

“That Nigerians should stand against vote-buying during the election.”   (The Sun)

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Nigerian Army Denies Report On Missing Soldiers After Attack By Boko Haram

By Abisola Olasupo

Nigeria Army Monday said the reports that many soldiers went missing after their post was attacked by Boko Haram insurgents were not true.

An AFP reports Sunday said hundreds of soldiers after the attack, a second in days, on a remote military base which held about 734 troops in northeast Nigeria.

The base is reported to be new and the troops arrived there only recently from Lagos.

The reports quoted an unnamed military source.

“Boko Haram terrorists attacked troops of the 81st Division Forward Brigade at Jilli village in Geidam district. The terrorists came in huge numbers around 7:30 pm (1830 GMT) and overran the base after a fierce battle that lasted until 9:10 pm,” the unnamed military source told AFP.

“The base had 734 troops. Currently, the commander of the base and 63 soldiers have made it to Geidam (60 kilometres away) while the remaining 670 are being expected,” he said, without elaborating on their possible fate.

“We don’t know if there were any casualties among the troops. That will be known later.”

Although it acknowledged that there was a gun battle between the insurgents and troops and that the soldiers had an initial difficulty, the Army said none of its troops was captured, calling the reports “misleading”.

“The Nigerian Army wishes to state categorically that the report is not only untrue but misleading as the said report is blown out of proportion by the media,” Army spokesman Texas Chukwu said in a statement.

“The Nigeria Army wishes to state that there was an attempted attack on troops at Kwakwa and Chingori communities in Bama area of Borno State by suspected Boko Haram Terrorists as a result of difficult terrain where our vehicles bogged down.

“The terrorists also attempted to cart away troops operational vehicles but were successfully repelled by our gallant troops with the support of the Nigerian Air Force. About 22 members of Boko Haram terrorists were neutralised while several others escaped with gunshot wounds.   (The Guardian)

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