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Kidnappers ask for N270m ransom to release nine ABU students

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Gunmen who kidnapped nine students of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, along the Kaduna-Abuja highway on Sunday, have demanded N30m on each of the students as their ransom.

The kidnappers have reportedly reached out to the families of the abducted students, asking for N30m ransom on each person.

A female relative of one of the kidnapped students told the Voice of America (VOA) Hausa Service monitored in Kaduna that the kidnappers had reached out to the family demanding N30m per student.

She pleaded with the kidnappers to have mercy and release the victims, saying they were only students.

One of the students, who was in the bus in which they were abducted but succeeded in escaping, Dickson Oko, also confirmed this to DailyTrust.

He said he was devastated by the thought of his colleagues in captivity.

Oko and the bus driver, Nuruddeen Mohammed, told Daily Trust that 12 of them were on the bus but nine students were kidnapped.

The students, who were on their way to the French Village in Lagos for their language immersion programme, were trapped at the Akilubu-Gidan Busa axis on the highway when gunmen blocked both lanes of the road and opened fire on motorists.

The university has confirmed that eight people were kidnapped. But Mohammed, the driver, said he had 12 students in the bus – 10 females and two males.

He succeeded in evading the kidnappers and returned to Kaduna with three students while the whereabouts of the remaining nine are unknown.

Mohammed said they were trapped sometime around 3pm at Busa, a few kilometres after Akilubu.

“Immediately they came on the road, the armed men opened fire. They shot two of the students in the bus, and we noticed that they had erected a roadblock behind us and another in front. There was another roadblock mounted on the other lane. So the only thing I could do was to stop,” he said.

He said with gunshots directed at their bus and other vehicles ahead of them, he suggested to the students to get ready to flee, adding, “I opened the door and crawled into the grass. The gunshots were everywhere; the person on the passenger’s seat in front also came down even though he was shot. I crossed onto the other lane. I never knew I would survive because there were gunshots directed at me.”

He said he saw the gunmen open fire at a Gulf car with people in it. He said the attack, which scared him, aided his decision to run.

“I can’t say how many people were killed but what scared me was how they opened fire at the Gulf car even though it had stopped and there were people in it. But the bandits opened fire and kept shooting. That was when I decided that it was better they killed me while on the run than face a gruesome fate in the vehicle,” he added.

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400 suspected Boko Haram, bandits’ sponsors arrested

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Security agents have arrested about 400 businessmen for allegedly funding operations of Boko Haram and bandits in the country.

Daily Trust reported that the businessmen were arrested in an operation coordinated by the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), and in collaboration with the Department of State Services (DSS), Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

President Muhammadu Buhari was said to have approved the operation in 2020.

The newspaper reported that an initial list of 957 suspects comprising bureau de change (BDC) operators, gold miners and sellers, and other businessmen is being acted upon.

A source told the newspaper that about 400 persons were arrested in Kano, Borno, Abuja, Lagos, Sokoto, Adamawa, Kaduna and Zamfara.

Names of the BDC operators arrested were given as Baba Usaini, Abubakar Yellow (Amfani), Yusuf Ali Yusuf (Babangida), Ibrahim Shani, Auwal Fagge, and Muhammad Lawan Sani, a gold dealer.

Those arrested are reportedly being kept in military and the DSS facilities in Abuja and other places.

“Because this is economic warfare against the insurgents and other militant groups, the president, when approving the operation directed that the NFIU take the lead as the country’s financial intelligence powerhouse,” Daily Trust quoted a source to have said.

The source added that “with the presidential approval, a task team was composed of personally selected senior officers who were deployed under the DIA to carry out the special assignment”.

“The main person coordinating the funding ring for Boko Haram is in our custody, he and his closest ally in the business,” he said.

Another source was quoted to have said about 19 BDCs owned by persons with “direct connection with Boko Haram” were uncovered, while over N300 billion was found to have been used in funding terrorism.

Apart from one person in Borno and another in Zaria, Kaduna state, the source said over N50 billion were traced in funding to the armed groups.

“A number of those arrested have divulged vital information including operational details of bandits and Boko Haram insurgents. But they are being kept to aid further arrests,” the source was quoted to have said.

Family members of those arrested, the newspaper reported, have been calling on the government for their release.

In 2020, six Nigerians were also jailed in the United Arab Emirates for allegedly funding Boko Haram.

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Former Ondo deputy governor agrees to return vehicles

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Former Ondo Deputy Governor Agboola Ajayi has finally agreed to return the two vehicles in his possession to the Ondo State Government.

The state government last week said it would embarrass Agboola if he failed to return the four vehicles.

But Agboola, who said he had only two vehicles, insisted they were part of his benefits.

The state government also petitioned the Ondo State Police Command to help recover the vehicles.

In a statement on Sunday, the former deputy governor said he was not the problem of Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu’s administration.

Agboola stated it was in the interest of everybody that Governor Akeredolu demonstrated good governance, transparent policy making and effective change.

He said it was unfortunate some members of the inner circle of Akeredolu have prioritised harassing him on a number of issues most especially the return of vehicles

Agboola said he hoped “these petty interactions would have ceased after the recent inauguration.

“To be clear – if the return of these two vehicles will make the administration focus more on the avalanche of pressing needs, challenges and predicaments facing the state most especially insecurity, the absence of governance and unpaid salaries across the entirety the Ondo public sector – then I’m ready to make the sacrifice and return the two vehicles which they so desperately need.

“I am not the problem of the present administration. I have moved on.”

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Pensioners demand payment of N35bn arrears

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Nigeria pensioners who retired from the electricity sector have urged President Muhammadu Buhari, to come to their aide in order to resolve the lingering issue of their owed N35billion pension arrears.

The pensioners under the aegis of Electricity Sector Retiree Welfare Association (ESREWA), led by its  President, Elder Benjamin Amako, asked President Buhari to save countless dying pensioners whose fate are tied to the delayed payment of their pension arrears.

Rising from its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting in Abuja, Amako said every Nigerian, including President Buhari, knows the pathetic situation of pensioners in the country.

Amako said: “First we thank God that Mr President returned from his medical trip healthier, stronger and successfully. The news of his return gave us pensioners so much joy because we know  he will not sit quiet and watch more pensioners lose their lives because of humanly inaction. So far, his administration has ensured that pensioners gets their rights and this arrears we are asking for is our right.

“Interestingly, President Buhari had already directed that this same arrears (N35billion) be paid to us, but for over five years ago he issued the directive, the relevant authorities who it is their responsibilities to ensure we get this arrears for our dying members seems to be working contrarily.

“So for the past five years, these arrears have always been part of the National Budget under Nigeria Electricity Liability Management Company (NELMCO) budget and accordingly transferred to Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD). But sadly, we have not been paid a dime even as I speak, for reasons that are totally and obviously human making.

“So we are pleading with President Buhari, the SGF, Minister of Finance, Chairman Senate Committee on Power, Accountant General of the Federation, PTAD and other relevant authorities to save our lives by paying us this money without further delay.”

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