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Villagers flee Borno communities as B’Haram, troops engage in fierce battle

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A clash between the military and fighters of the Islamic State for West African Province (ISWAP) that raged for hours on Saturday has made hundreds of people in many communities located within the Hawul Local Government Area of Borno State to flee their homes.

The insurgents had invaded the Borno villages after a similar raid on Garkida in Adamawa on December 24.

The marauding insurgents were said to have stormed the Borno villages on Saturday in nine gun trucks and launched coordinated attacks.

All the visited communities are in the southern part of the state, which used to be relatively safe from attacks from the insurgents.

But ground troops with aerial support from the Air Task Force of Operation Lafiya Dole launched a counterattack and were able to repel the invasion.

Specifically, villages invaded are Tashan Alade, Shafa, Azare, Sabon-Kasuwa and Debro, all in the Hawul Local Government Area of Borno State.

The insurgents reportedly burnt down schools, shops and places of worship during the attacks.

Eleven people were reportedly killed; five others abducted and several residents injured.

Thousands of bags of farm products recently harvested by farmers were alleged to have been looted by the insurgents who also emptied shops and market stalls.

Spokesman for the Nigerian Air Force, Air Vice Marshal Ibikunle Daramola, said the Air Task Force of Operation Lafiya Dole had scrambled fighter jets to engage the invaders.

“The Air Task Force OPLD has scrambled NAF aircraft to the area since the most recent attack on some settlements surrounding Garkida started just after sunset today (Saturday).

“The aircraft have been engaging the Boko Haram terrorists,” he said in a message to defence reporters.

Hundreds of the villagers were said to have fled their homes while the terrorists were shooting sporadically.

The fleeing villagers took refuge in the nearby bushes and mountains.

Air strikes from Nigerian Air Force reportedly compelled the attackers looting shops and residential areas to flee.

The villagers were said to have watched the exchange of fire from the mountain tops.

The terrorists also set ablaze, vehicles and trucks belonging to a construction company.

A member of the vigilante group in the area said the attackers burnt down two EYN churches in Tashan Allade as the villagers scampered to the bushes.

Another member of the Civilian Joint Task Force (JTF), Balami Yusuf, told reporters, “As I am speaking to you, they are shooting. You can hear from the background.

“We are in the bushes and people are running and children are crying. We are helpless.”

Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum, on Sunday was said to have been briefed about the incident.

The governor had cut short his visit to Abuja to return to Maiduguri and on arrival, he took a military chopper to assess the damage in the affected communities.

Zulum, according to his spokesman, Mallam Isa Gusau, had travelled from Maiduguri to Katsina and Abuja on Thursday, for series of scheduled activities.

A statement by the governor’s spokesman confirmed the destruction visited on Tashan Alade, Shafa, Azare, Sabon-Kasuwa and Debro by the insurgents.

Gusau said Zulum was in Yimirshika, Azare, Sabon-Kasuwa and Shafa, where he inspected all destroyed property, including police station, market stalls and others, and ordered their immediate reconstruction.

The statement said:, “In Shafa, Zulum ordered the provision of six patrol vehicles and other components to strengthen local security network in the community. Also in Yamirshika, Zulum directed the provision of surveillance vehicles to hunters and vigilantes.”

He said the governor addressed “terrified residents who returned to Yamirshika town earlier Saturday, after attempts by insurgents on the town, was repelled.”

The governor commiserated with the people, adding, “We departed Abuja to Maiduguri this morning, and we are here to show our sympathy and to stand with all of you, our brothers in Hawul, over the sad incident, yesterday (Saturday).

“I have been fully briefed and I have seen things myself, insha’Allah, we will strengthen security here and in all places. We will as soon as possible, make available all your requirements based on my interaction with security stakeholders and community leaders.

“We will rehabilitate the police station, the shops and all other infrastructures destroyed yesterday.”

The governor also said, “As enshrined in section 14, 2b of the 1999 Constitution, security of lives and property remains the cardinal objective of any government. We know this and we are doing everything within our powers to provide security and ensure the welfare of citizens. We will neither relent nor shy away from our responsibilities. We shall remain resilient and focused in our search for peace in Borno.”

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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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We’ll make South-East hot for governors if…, IPOB warns

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The Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, IPOB, has raised the alarm that South East governors in collaboration with Ohanaeze Ndigbo and some “treacherous’ tradinonal rulers, and President Generals of some communities, are compiling names of suspected operatives of the Eastern Security Network, ESN as well as IPOB members and supporters for persecution.

The group stated that if the governors don’t rescind their plan, “IPOB will make the zone too hot for them.” IPOB in a statement by its Media and Publicity Secretary Emma Powerful, claimed that its intelligence unit uncovered “a secret file” containing the list of the suspected ESN and IPOB members.

The list according to the statement is to be handed over to the security agencies for torture and elimination. IPOB which said the idea was suggested to South East Leaders by the federal government to weaken ESN regretted that efforts of the security outfit for flush out killer herdsmen from the zone were being sabotaged by the selfish political elite. It noted that since the establishment of ESN, efforts to rid the zone of bandits and killer herdsmen had intensified, a development that has making the masterminds uncomfortable.

The statement read in part: “The South-Eastern Governors in collaboration with Traditional Rulers in the Zone and some PGs of communities are compiling names of suspected IPOB members in their respective communities to hand over to Nigeria security agencies for possible executions. “The arrangement has been perfected to help Nigeria Police and Army to quickly pick anybody suspected to be IPOB member and ESN operatives in the zone. “Our intelligence further revealed that they took this decision to launch this joint military operation to quench and permanently silence what they termed as IPOB and ESN menace in the zone. “IPOB intelligence unit gathered that these enemies within and without have perfected arrangements to abduct our people and put them incommunicado in the security dungeons in unknown locations. “It is unfortunate that our so called leaders could not see or observe how Fulani terrorist herdsmen are raping and murdering our mothers, wives and sisters in the farms across the Biafra territory but they see us as their problem.” IPOB denied any link with the unknown gunmen suspected to the behind the wave of bloody attacks against security formations in the zone and wondered why its members would be marked for elimination. “We have severally explained that ESN has nothing to do with the unknown gunmen responsible for the attacks in South East. The unknown gunmen are not ESN or IPOB.

We wonder why Government will continue to associate us with that group without investigations.” IPOB argued that a government that treats bandits and killer herdsmen with kid gloves cannot claim to be unaware of the said unknown gunmen.

The pro-Biafra movement warned South East Leaders to retrace their steps or brace up for the grave consequences of their action. “If South East Governors do not stop this plan against their people, IPOB will make the zone too hot for them. “We expect all tradinonal rulers and PGs in the South East communities to retrace their steps before it gets too late. The land will also rise against them if they allow this to happen! “Any IPOB member or ESN operative killed shall be avenged! The statement also advised the federal government to jettison any plans to persecute pro-Biafra groups as doing so would come with some price. “We advise Nigeria government and her partners in crime in the zone to desist from this evil agenda because it will backfire. We are aware of their secret file, but we are not going back until Biafra is finally achieved.”

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