There was indication yesterday that President Muhammadu Buhari’s vow to deal with troublemakers has started yielding fruit as Nigeria Police Force paraded 91 suspects it arrested for various crimes, including banditry, armed robbery, kidnapping, murder and other heinous crimes.
The suspects were nabbed in Akwa Ibom, Kaduna, Kano and Plateau states.
Force spokesman, CP Frank Mba, who paraded the suspects, in Abuja yesterday, said the police also recovered 45 assorted firearms, which included 17 AK-47 rifles, 20 locally made rifles and one General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) among other dangerous weapons.
Also, 9,899 AK-47 live ammunition, 80 illegally produced number plates and two Toyota cars were recovered from the suspects.
One of the suspects, a leader of transnational kidnap gang operating on the borders of Sokoto and Niger Republic, Abdullahi Dalhatu, admitted to have carried out several kidnap operations in Niger Republic and Nigeria.
He said his gang members were arrested when they kidnapped and killed a former aide to Kano State lawmaker, the late Abah Abe, after his relatives failed to pay N50 million ransom.
He also explained that it was the former girlfriend of the late Abe that brought the idea of kidnapping him for ransom.
The police also paraded Sylvester Agbole who allegedly collaborated with another suspect, Samuel Emmanuel, to kill one Engr. Godwin Christopher.
Speaking to journalists, the suspect, Agbole, said Engr. Christopher lent him N500,000 for his wedding and this led to his murder.
He said that when he discovered that Christopher had money, he sent Emmanuel and others to rob him and, in the process, Christopher was killed.
Though he denied ordering the death of Christopher, Agbole admitted that he had not paid the deceased the N500,000 he borrowed before sending the robbers.
Meanwhile, a local AK-47 rifle fabrication factory was uncovered by the police in Jos South Local Government Area of Plateau State, it was learnt yesterday.
Mba paraded two middle-aged men, Joe Michael and Iliya Bulus, arrested for alleged fabrication of weapons alongside other 79 suspects.
The suspects, according to Mba, were arrested by the operatives of the two major Units of operational and investigative teams of the Intelligence Response Team (IRT) and Special Tactical Squad (STS) of the Force across the country for various offences ranging from kidnapping, banditry, armed robbery, culpable homicide, gun running and illegal production and distribution of fake number plates.
Mba said the locally fabricated AK-47 rifle was a masterpiece which would require the extra knowledge of an expert to differentiate it from the ones made in Europe.
He disclosed that during the raid on the illegal factory 20 pieces of locally AK-47 rifles were recovered by the operatives who had been on the trail of the suspects for a long time.
Mba said, “If you look at these weapons locally fabricated by the suspects, there is no difference from others being imported into the country. Unless you are trained, you will not be able to spot the difference; they use the same magazines.
“We will follow up to track down those behind this. We will continue to deepen our intelligence, and we will continue to work with other sister security agencies to check the proliferation of illegal arms in the country.”
The alleged fabricator, Joe Michael, who said he attended a Technical College in Jos, told reporters that he had so far fabricated about 180 units in the last three years which he sold at N80,000 per unit.
The suspect also claimed that he acquired the skill from his late boss, simply known as James.
In a related development, Mba also paraded a three-man gang over the alleged mass production and distribution of specialized fake number plates for vehicles attached to the presidency, diplomats and others.
He explained that the suspects were apprehended in Ikorodu area of Lagos State with 80 units of such fake number plates ready for collection by crack detectives of the Special Tactical Squad.
He disclosed that Investigations had shown that the syndicate was being patronised by people of shady character in the society.
According to him: “These shady characters will get those specialised number plates and fix on their vehicles to beat security checks and to also enjoy unmerited privileges in the society.”
The Force PRO, however, said that the police were already in possession of the full list of those with such fake number plates, adding that the culprits would be apprehended and prosecuted no matter their status in the society.
Also, a four-man gang of kidnappers who reportedly kidnapped a university lecturer, Professor Aliyu Mohammed in Zaria, Kaduna State, was paraded.
Similarly, the Akwa Ibom Police Command yesterday said 10 suspects were arrested in connection with the recent attacks on security agencies in Essien Udim local government area.
Commissioner of police in the state, CP Andrew Amiengheme, who revealed this to newsmen in Uyo yesterday, said the attack on police personnel necessitated the formation of a Joint Task Force (JTF), comprising personnel of the Nigerian Army, the Nigeria Police Force, Department of State Service and Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).
According to him, the efforts of the JTF yielded a lot of fruit with more arrests still being expected.
“The JTF raided Ntak Ikot Akpan, Abama and Ikot Akpan in Essien Udim, Obot Akara and Ikot Ekpene Local Government Areas.
“A total of 10 suspects who are directly linked to the killings of security personnel and destruction of property were arrested and some items were recovered at different locations,” Amiengheme said.
He said that items recovered included four vehicles, four motorcycles, four AK-47 rifles, four G3 rifles, eight Dane guns, 28 AK-47 magazines and some cash.
Amiengheme called on members of the public who lost their vehicles recently to come with proof of ownership.
The commissioner expressed appreciation to the Nigerian Army and other sister security agencies for their immense contribution in the exercise.
He urged Akwa Ibom people to go about their lawful duties without fear of molestation and to always be vigilant.
The CP appealed to residents to always provide the police and other security agencies with useful information to ensure protection of lives and property.
Declare Bandits Terrorists, Kukah Tells FG
The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto diocese, Matthew Hassan Kukah has averred that the leaders of Nigeria has no blood in their hearts.
Bishop Kukah said this in his homily at the burial of the late Rev Fr. Alphosus Yasshim Bello at Our Lady of Apostles Catholic Church Independence Way, Kaduna.
“Those who govern us are allowing this killing of citizens in their innocence because they have no blood in their hearts,” he said.
The late Fr. Bello, who was kidnapped alongside Rev Fr Joseph Keke, murdered by bandits on May 21, 2021 in Katsina.
According to Bishop Kukah, there is nowhere in the whole world where barbarity and killings of human lives have been made manifest as it is in Nigeria of today.
“There is nowhere citizens can be slaughtered in the whole world without the government showing empathy and concern. The continuous barbaric slaughter and murder of our people in their innocence suggest that our beautiful Presidential Villa, National Assembly, government houses are not evidence of civilization.
“How did Nigeria come to this tragic situation? We know who they are, who they believe in and where their inspiration comes from. The government has never declared the kidnappers to be a terrorists group.
“There is no ambiguity about those who are killing our people and why they are doing so and where their inspiration comes from. We hear and live with stories of complicity at the highest level. We as Christians can only rely on the faithful word of God”.
He queried, “Is it possible that you have a country where people have sworn with Qur’an and Bible to uphold the principle of governance, that they will do everything within their power to protect and defend the integrity of Nigerians and suddenly we are where we are today.
“I think the president and governors of Nigeria should address Nigerians and say, ‘Fellow Nigerians I have sworn that I will not protect you from foreign invaders, kidnappers and being killed. You are on your own. Your security is in your own hands. Keeping you safe is not our immediate priority. Foreign bandits or anyone can come at will, kill, loot, rape, kidnap and murder you. They can wipe out your communities, destroy your homes, your farmlands, property.
‘”They can kidnap or murder your children at will. They can rustle your cattle. If they kidnap your children, wives or husbands, we will consider you criminals for negotiating for their release. We are preparing a law that could see you go to jail for 15 years for this heinous crime against your fatherland’”.
He therefore urged Nigerians to remain steadfast in prayer, saying that God will lead us out of this tragic situation.
FG Kicks As Twitter deletes PMB’s Tweet On Dealing With Secessionists
The federal government has reacted to social media giant, Twitter, deleting President Muhammadu Buhari’s tweet on dealing with secession agitations in the South East .
Buhari had, in a series of tweets yesterday, said, “Many of those misbehaving today are too young to be aware of the destruction and loss of lives that occurred during the Nigerian Civil War. Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand.”
Following several complaints, Twitter deleted the tweet, stating: “This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules”.
In its reaction, Twitter said it deleted President Muhammadu Buhari’s tweet, which had been received with mixed reactions.
The controversial tweet, which was part of a thread by Buhari on Tuesday, reads: “Many of those misbehaving today are too young to be aware of the destruction and loss of lives that occurred during the Civil War.
“Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand.”
However, Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, speaking to State House correspondents after the federal executive council meeting presided over by President Buhari at the presidential Villa,accused Twitter of double standards.
He said the social media giant had conveniently ignored inciting tweets by Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and his cohorts, displaying the same biases it did during the ENDSARS protest where government and private properties were being looted and set on fire yet it finds Buhari’s tweet offensive.
He said Twitter’s role is suspect and Nigeria will not be fooled.
He said “Twitter may have its own rules, it’s not a universal rule. If Mr. President, anywhere in the world feels very bad and concerned about a situation, he is free to express such views.
“Now, we should stop comparing apples with oranges. If an organisation is proscribed, it is different from any other which is not proscribed. Two, any organisation that gives directives to its members to attack police stations, to kill policemen, to attack correctional centres, to kill warders, and you are now saying that Mr. President does not have the right to express his dismay and anger about that? You are the one guilty of double standards.
“I don’t see anywhere in the world where an organisation, a person will stay somewhere outside Nigeria, and will directs his members to attack the symbols of authority, the police, the military, especially when that organisation has been proscribed.
“By whatever name, you can’t justify giving orders to kill policemen or to kill anybody you do not agree with.
“The mission of Twitter in Nigeria is very very suspect. Has Twitter deleted the violent tweets that Nnamdi Kanu has been sending? Has it? The same Twitter during the ENDSARS protests that was funding ENDSARS protesters, it was the first to close the account of former president of US, Trump.
“And you see, when people were burning police stations and killing policemen in Nigeria during ENDSARS, for Twitter, it was about the right to protest. But when a similar thing happened on the Capitol Hill, it became an insurrection. You see, we are not going to be fooled by anybody. We have a country to rule and we will do so to the best of our ability. Twitter mission in Nigeriak citing those two examples, is very suspect. What is their agenda?
“How does Mr. President speech that anybody who is destroying infrastructure, who is destroying police offices, who is destroying INEC offices should be ready for the consequences. Is that inciting violence?”
Troops Battle ISWAP Terrorists In Borno
Troops of the Nigerian military yesterday battled suspected Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists who attacked a military formation in Damboa, a local government in southern part of Borno State.
A reliable security source who disclosed the attack to LEADERSHIP on the condition of anonymity, said the ISWAP terrorists stormed the town of Damboa at about 10:30am yesterday with dozens of gun trucks, shooting sporadically.
The incident, the source said, threw the entire town into confusion as residents and displaced persons fled to different directions in search of safety.
The security source added that fighter jets were deployed to assist the ground troops along with local volunteers.
The source said: “I can confirm to you that the ISWAP terrorists are currently in a gun battle with the Nigerian troops in Damboa town. Air power has been activated to support the troops. Everything is under control.”
Another security source said:” Damboa is currently under attack by ISWAP terrorist group, the military are en route to engage them. Fighter jets have been deployed to Damboa as the combined security forces take on terrorist in the town.
Damboa is about 100 kilometres from Maiduguri, the capital city of Borno State.
Gunmen Kill Governor Ortom’s Aide, Ex-AIG Dega, In Jos
Meanwhile, unknown gunmen yesterday trailed and shot dead the Senior Special Assistant to Benue Governor Samuel Ortom on Security, AIG Christopher Dega (rtd) in Jos, Plateau State capital.
A statement signed by public relations officer of Plateau State Police Command, ASP Obah Ogaba, revealed Christopher Dega’s death.
The statement further reads that “On 31/05/2021 at about 2030hrs, AIG Christopher Dega (rtd) was shot dead by gunmen in an isolated restaurant at Bukuru, Jos.
According to him, from the investigation so far, it appeared that he was trailed and shot.
The statement added that the late AIG arrived in Jos from Makurdi on the same date at about 19:30hrs.
He said that some suspects have been arrested, while investigation is ongoing.
LEADERSHIP reports that AIG Dega had a brilliant career in the Nigerian Police Force and was twice Commissioner of Police in Borno and Edo States.
He hailed from Katsina Ala local government area of Benue state.
…Murder Of My SSA, A Huge Loss – Ortom
Reacting to the killing of his security aide, Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom condemned his assassination, describing it a huge blow to his administration and the entire state.
The governor, while speaking to journalists in Makurdi, said the retired AIG was very active even in retirement, saying it was painful that he was gunned down in such a gruesome manner.
“Retired AIG Dega served with me here and this is someone who has retired but is not tired and was very active. So for him to have been murdered in the manner they did is very sad,” Governor Ortom stated.
He called on security agencies to find killers of his aide, just as he sympathized with the family, friends and former colleagues of the deceased and prayed God to grant him eternal rest.
Our correspondent gathered that the retired AIG was trailed and murdered at about 8:30pm in an isolated restaurant in Bukuru, Jos, Plateau State.
…Killing Of Ortom’s Security Adviser Is Alarming – PDP
On its part, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday said it was alarmed by the gruesome murder of Dega by gunmen in Jos, Plateau State capital.
PDP, while condemning the murder of AIG Dega (rtd), described it as barbaric as well as ominous, given the recent attempts on the life of Governor Ortom by terrorists and bandits, marauding in various parts of Benue state.
The party, in a statement by its national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, described the slain Dega as a very patriotic Nigerian and dutiful aide, who gave his all in the service of dear fatherland and his home state, Benue.
The PDP charged the police to immediately go into action and apprehend the assailants and their backers to face justice.
The party also calls on President Muhammadu Buhari to end his lethargic approach to security matters and take decisive steps to end the activities of terrorists, bandits and vandals, who have been emboldened by his administration’s body language and overt failure.
The PDP commiserated with Governor Ortom, the Dega family as well as the government and people of Benue state and prayed God to give all the fortitude to bear this this sad episode in the national life.
Reps Minority Caucus Condemns Killing of Ortom’s Security Adviser
The Minority Caucus in the House of Representatives has condemned the murder of Christopher Dega.
The caucus, in a statement signed by the minority leader, Ndudi Elumelu, expressed shock at what he described as wicked and devilish act.
He called on the police and other security forces to immediately track down and bring the killers to the full wrath of the law.
Mother of Abducted Islamiyya Pupil Dies Of Shock
A mother of one of the abducted pupils of Tanko Salihu Islamiyya School in Tegina, Niger State, has died of the shock of kidnapping her only child, according to the headmaster of the school, Abubakar Hassan.
This is as the Niger State government confirmed that only 136 pupils were abducted from the Islamiyya schoo;s and not over 200 as previously reported.
In a telephone interview with journalists, he said: “One of the kids’ parents is now dead because when she heard, she fainted, and they rushed her to the hospital where she was pronounced dead, because she has just only one child.”
Alhassan, who did not disclose the identity of the deceased mother of the abducted pupil, also confirmed that the bandits were in touch with him via phone
He said one of the three teachers abducted with the pupils said they were being beaten like animals.
He said from what he gathered from the teacher most of the children, because of their age cannot walk again, an indication that the children have suffered much in the hands of the bandits.
Meanwhile Niger State Government has confirmed that negotiations with abductors are progressing towards the release of the 136 pupils abducted from Islamic School in Tegna few days ago but insisted ransom will not be paid.
The acting governor of the state, Ahmed Ketso, stated yesterday while briefing journalists on the latest situation about the incident that one of the measures to forestall future occurrence is to ban commercial motorcycle operation.
According to him, the negotiation was not about payment of ransom but on how to secure the release of the pupils unhurt.
“I want to assure you that we have intensified efforts towards the safe release of the abducted children. We are being careful to ensure that there is no collateral damage on the part of the pupil we are rescuing,” he added
He said government is also aware that the bandits are demanding ransom from parents of the pupils, adding that government is however not involved such negotiation.
Air Power Critical To Ending Insurgency, Says COAS
The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Major General Farouk Yahaya has said the employment air power is a critical requirement in defeating terrorism, banditry and other crimes.
The COAS stated this when he paid a courtesy visit to the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Oladayo Amao at the Headquarters, Nigerian Air Force, Abuja
In a statement by the director of public relations and information, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, the COAS reiterated the importance of air power to the success of the ongoing fight against insurgency, armed banditry and other forms of criminality in the country.
Major General Yahaya said the war against insurgency and armed banditry cannot be won by a single Service but rather through a synergistic approach where all Services work in unison.
“The earlier we all recognize that no Service can do it alone, the better for us as an armed forces and a nation to surmount the current security challenges.” he said
The COAS thanked Air Marshal Amao for his continuous support to the Nigerian Army and urged him not to relent.
Air Marshal Amao in his remarks congratulated the COAS for his appointment and urged him to sustain synergy of efforts by the Nigerian Army and the NAF, in conjunction with other security agencies to rid the country of all criminal activities.