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Nine abducted ABU students regain freedom

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Nine students of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria kidnapped last Sunday have regained their freedom.

The students were going to Lagos for an immersion programme at the Nigerian French Language Village in Badagry when they came under attack by kidnappers along the Kaduna-Abuja road.

Kaduna State Government confirmed two persons died during the incident and nine others rescued by security personnel.

Director of Public Affairs at the ABU, Malam Auwal Umar, confirmed the release of the students on Sunday.

He said, “I can confirm to you that the students have been released. They were released yesterday (Saturday) night and most of them have already been reunited with their families.”

The students were reportedly released midnight Saturday after the parents had paid between N500,000 and N4 million as ransom.

One of the parents, who confirmed the release of his daughter, said, “After series of bargaining, they said I should pay N1 million, but I told them that I could not afford to raise that amount. I told them I have over N500,000 and they asked me to bring it.

“I sold my goats, pigs and other belongings to pay the money.”

Another parent said she among the team of four parents that went to deliver the ransom to the bandits, adding that they were directed to come to Abuja Junction.

The parent said, “They called me yesterday (Saturday), and said if I am not able to pay N1 million, they would kill the girls or marry them or use them as sex slave.

“On arriving in Kaduna, we were told that security personnel were monitoring the bandits in the bush. But surprisingly, the bandits called us and told us to come and wait at Abuja junction.

“They sent us a telephone number to call. We called the number and the person came to take us to a car. Unknown to me, the owner of the car is also a victim. His daughter was among those abducted. We drove along the Kaduna-Abuja road. That was around 11pm to deliver the ransom and other things they demanded.”

He said the bandits also demanded some crates of Malta drink and cartons of milk from each parent.

“When we got to Dutse, we stopped at a junction leading to the bush. We met soldiers there and they stopped us and made the four of us in the vehicle to sit on the ground.

“The soldiers noticed that all of us were carrying nylon bags and the items and they asked what was in the nylon bags.

“We told them that we were carrying money to go and pay ransom for the students that were kidnapped. The soldiers wished us safe journey to the bush and we parked the car at the junction.

“We trekked far inside the bush from Dutse and handed over the money to them and they released the girls to us. He said the owner of the car is one of the parents given directives by the bandits.

“The bandits are very clever. They planned everything very well. We came back and picked the vehicle where we parked by the main road and returned with the girls to Kaduna around 1am.

“Some parents paid N1 million; some paid over N1 million; some paid N2 million; some paid over N500,000, depending on how each parent bargained with the hoodlums because they spoke separately with the parents.”

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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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