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Constitutional review: Igbo needs Justice, equity, not secession — Uzodimma

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The Imo state governor, Hope Uzodimma, yesterday said that the Igbo people needed a constitution review that would give them justice and equity and not secession.

Uzodimma spoke in Owerri, at the opening ceremony of the National Assembly Constitutional Review Committee Public Hearing For the Southeast zone chaired by the former governor of Abia state and currently, a Senator, Orji Uzor Kalu, tagged as “proposed alteration to the provisions of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

According to Uzodimma, the clamour for justice and equity showed that Igbo wanted to be part of the decision making in the country.

The governor said: “For us as true leaders, genuinely committed to the Igbo question, the question agitating our minds is. What exactly does Igbo seek from Nigeria? Without sounding simplistic, what we seek is justice and equity. When we talk of restructuring or devolution of power, we are talking actually about having an environment created for us to unleash our potential and talent without let or hindrance. We are also talking of being treated equally like every other part of Nigeria. More importantly, we are talking about being part of the decision-making process in Nigeria. It means we are not talking of domination or secession.”

“In my mind, Ndigbo are better off being part of the larger Nigeria with vast opportunities opened to us than being confined in a separate space with limited opportunity. In every part of Nigeria outside the South East, we form the second largest population. As an itinerant group, we move around to expand our economic frontiers. As citizens of Nigeria, we are afforded that lease of Life. Our people are suffering harassment in South Africa and Ghana and other countries. Is that what we want to bequeath to our younger generation if, in hastily contrived indignation, we abandon our heritage in Nigeria?

“So my dearest brothers and sisters, we need Nigeria just as Nigeria needs us. Whatever be our grievances against the system, we have a golden opportunity to seek redress under the upcoming constitutional review. What we seek is justice and equity for our people to thrive. And for that, we owe nobody any apology. But we cannot achieve it through violence or threat of secession. It is through an avenue like this that we put forward our request and follows it through.”

“I, therefore, appeal to our youths to listen to the voice of reason. What an old man sees sitting, a child cannot see even if he climbs an iroko tree. Let us to the path of peace. All shall be well. If we remain firmly committed to the unity of Nigeria we shall get all we seek.”

In another development, the leadership of Aba state movement, led by Elder Emmanuel Adaelu, said among other things that the constitution review committee should consider the report of the committee on state creation of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide under Nnia Nwodo, he said: “The Committee should consider the merit for the creation of Aba and Adada States respectively, resolved and recommended for the creation of Aba State, with 12 members supporting, and 5 abstaining. The Committee also recommended that any other State Creation exercise in the South-East should give Adada State priority.

“The Committee’s letter of 18 October 2018, to Governor Dave Umahi, Chairman of the South-East Governors Forum stated that Committee Chairman Professor Chigozie Ogbu and its Secretary Barrister Uche Okwukwu signed the report.

“Aba State Movement stood by the Ohanaeze Committee recommendation since all groups agitating for a State in the South East fully participated in the Committee’s work by making presentations to it.

“The Committee did a great job. It went through the tomes of documents the 11 proposed areas for state creation submitted to it. Among the documents requirements were evidence that the proposed areas had complied with constitutional requirements for state creation in Sections 8 and 9.

“We were delighted by the final recommendation Committee to the South-East Governors Forum to enable its transmission to the National Assembly through Executive Bill as promised by President Muhammadu Buhari when an Ohanaeze delegation visited the President in November 2017.

“Aba State Movement appeared at the Senate Committee on constitutional review was to present the case for the creation of Aba State which the Ohanaeze Committee confirmed in its report to the South-East Governors Forum.”

“Chief Theo Nkire, first Attorney-General of Abia State, made Aba State Movement’s presentation to the Senate Committee on constitutional review chaired by Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, former Governor of Abia State,” Ohanaeze said.

 

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Military bombards bandits in North-West, North-Central forests

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There were strong indications on Tuesday that the military had begun the bombardment of bandits’ hideouts in the North-West, North-Central and some parts of the North-East.

Top security officials, who confided in our correspondents, said the bombardment, which started in Katsina and Benue states would soon be extended to other states in the zones.

Recall that the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity Mallam Garba Shehu, in an interview with the Hausa Service of the BBC in March, said the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had ordered  crackdown on bandits terrorising farmers across the country.

Also, during his interview with Arise Television on Thursday, the President said he had ordered security agents to shoot bandits carrying AK47.

In Katsina State, The PUNCH gathered that the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Air Force and the police had increased attacks on the hideouts of bandits in various parts of the state especially in Batsari, Jibia, Sabuwa, Danmusa, Safana, Matazu, Kankara, Dandume, Dutsin-ma, Kurfi and Faskari local government areas, where bandits had been kidnapping farmers and other residents.

A top security source in the state said, “We now carry out operations on identified bandits’ hideouts in the state virtually on a daily basis and at anytime.

“At times, when you see fighter jets flying, it is either we are launching an attack against bandits or we are carrying out mop up operations.”

The Special Adviser to the state Governor on Security, Mallam Ahmad Katsina,  had yet to respond to the SMS sent to him after futile efforts to get him on the phone.

But when contacted, the spokesman for the police in the state, Gambo Isah, said the command was “evolving strategies to ensure that all parts of the state are safe.”

The troops of Operation Whirl Stroke had started flushing out armed herders and militias from their hideouts in Taraba, Nasarawa and Benue states.

A security official, who confided in one of our correspondents,  said,  “We have carried out operations in the Sankera axis (of Benue State).  That is the reason farmers can return to their homes and begin farming activities.”

When asked if state government could direct the military to help in sending troops to protect farmers,  the source said, “We don’t take order from the state government. What we are doing is to send troops to flash points, like in Sankera axis, farmers are already going back to their farms.”

In Sokoto State,  the police have intensified patrols of villages that are prone to bandits’ attacks.

The areas include Sabon Birni, Isa, Rabah and Goronyo local government areas.

But unlike in Katsina, military has yet to begin operations aimed at flushing out bandits from the areas.

A police source stated, “What we do is a routine patrol of areas under the jurisdiction of each divisional police officer. We have sensitised the villagers to quickly send  distress calls in the face of attacks.”

On its part, , the Zamfara State Police Command said it had deployed more policemen in  areas that were prone to bandits’ attacks.

Speaking to one of our correspondents on the phone, the spokesperson for the command,  Mohammed Shehu, said, “The police, in collaboration with other security agencies,  have mapped out strategies to ensure the return of farmers to their  farms.”

He maintained that the command would engage the services of the repentant bandits as well as other locals who would assist in the fight against banditry.

In Kebbi State,  vigilantes who were assisting in providing security suffered heavy casualties when bandits attacked some communities a few weeks ago.

As Kebbi  State farmers battled problems of bandits, the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria and the Benue State Government on Tuesday disagreed over a military operation at a boundary between the state and Nasarawa State.

There was a report on Tuesday that military aircraft killed over 1,000 cows during multiple attacks on Fulani settlements in Keana and Doma local government areas of Nasarawa State.

According to the report, victims said the military launched the attacks between June 10 and June 13.

But on Tuesday, while the Benue State Government said no human life or cow was lost in the attack, MACBAN said 500 cows were killed.

NAF bombs killed 500 cows, 200 missing 

The MACBAN Acting Chairman in Nasarawa State, Bala Dabo, in an interview with one of our correspondents, expressed concern about the military operation.

He said 500 cows were killed during the military operation in the Kuduku community of the Keana Local Government Area and some parts of the Doma Local Government Area.

He alleged that two military aircraft that were deployed in Fulani settlements threw bombs, causing the death of the cows.

The MACBAN leader said that there was a deliberate plan to send the Fulani into extinction following the anti-open grazing law passed by some states in the country.

He stated, “The anti-grazing law in Benue State is meant to force the Fulani into extinction. We appeal to the Federal Government to rise up to the challenge and salvage our people.

“There is no justification for gunships to come to Nasarawa territory and kill cows. We are peace-loving people and not troublemakers.”

  “The cows are our sources of livelihood. We are in pain at the moment and we are calling for help from Nigerians. We had just returned from grazing when the aircraft came and killed them around 6pm on Sunday.

“The cows killed were between 450 and 500. Some of them got injured. There are some of the cows that ran into the bush and up till now, we are still looking for them. About 200 cows are missing at the moment. I also got information that the herdsmen controlling the cows were also affected by the bombs thrown by the military.”

But the Nasarawa State Government said the incident had not been confirmed. It assured that an investigation would be carried out to ascertain the actual cause of the issue and possibly find a lasting solution to it.

The state Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism,  Dogo Shammah, who stated these in an interview with one of our  correspondents on Tuesday in Lafia, said, “We heard something of that nature. We will investigate the issue to know what exactly transpired. I assure you that government will do everything possible to address the issue and restore normalcy in the affected area”

No  cow, human being killed in military operation, Benue insists

But the  Benue State Government denied allegations against the state Governor,  Samuel Ortom, on the anti-open grazing law.

The state Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Mrs Ngunan Addingi, in an interview with journalists in Makurdi on Tuesday, said the military was only carrying out operations at the boundary between  Benue and Nasarawa states where terrorists had sacked and taken over communities.

She stated, “No farming activity takes place in the affected communities any longer. The military was only performing its duty of flushing out terrorists who wield AK47 and occupy the forests from where they launch attacks on innocent people.

“In the aerial surveillance carried out in border communities of Benue and Nasarawa states by Operation Whirl Stroke, no human life or cow was lost,” Addingi said.

Recall that  Ortom had three weeks ago allayed the fears of people of the state. He said the aerial surveillance that would be carried out by the military in parts of the state was to flush out criminals and bandits.

Also, the spokesperson for the Nigerian Air Force, Edward Gabkwet, on Tuesday told one of our correspondents that NAF did not kill any cow. “It is a fake and unrealistic report,” Gabkwet simply said.

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Abati: Our interview with Buhari proved he’s in charge — he knows what’s going on

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Reuben Abati, former spokesman to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, says it is evident that President Muhammadu Buhari is in charge of the country.

Abati was commenting on Buhari’s interview with ARISE TV last week Thursday.

Several critics including Wole Soyinka, Nobel laureate, and Aminu Tambuwal, governor of Sokoto state, had claimed that Nigeria is being run through proxies and that Buhari is not in charge of the nation’s affairs.

Some others have alleged that the president’s spokespersons have been airing their opinions and not those of their principal.

But Abati, who was among the team that spoke to the president, said the interview proved that Buhari is in the know of things in the country.

He said the president is in charge and “showed no hesitation in restating some of his reported views and taking ownership of them despite the controversial nature of those views”.

“His submission to a media conversation is also a form of protection for his spokespersons. Many have accused Garba Shehu, Femi Adesina and Alhaji Lai Mohammed of speaking for themselves, and not for the President, but we have all seen a President, speaking for himself, whose views do not contradict what his aides have been telling us,” Abati said in an opinion piece.

“Our interview with him also proved the point that there is no doubting the fact that President Muhammadu Buhari is effectively in charge. He knows what is going on. And he showed no hesitation in restating some of his reported views and taking ownership of them despite the controversial nature of those views.”

Abati said the Buhari interview “has further revealed how divided we are as a nation”.

He urged the president to address Nigerians more often.

“Whoever advised President Buhari to grant media interviews last week and also address the nation on Saturday, June 12, did him a big favour. The intensity of media appearance was a good move, even if it came rather late,” he said.

“Every President has his or her own style but deliberately playing possum should not be part of that style. President Buhari should speak more often to Nigerians. He should sit down at Presidential media chats.

“Nigeria is not a feudal system where the aristocrat treats the people with disdain. In a democracy, the man of power is accountable to the people who expect their leaders to continually justify why they must be in power and office.”

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Tinubu returns to Nigeria

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The National leader of the All progressives Congress, APC, Bola Ahmed Tinubu has returned to Nigeria after a brief vacation abroad.
Contrary to widespread reports that the former Lagos governor is ‘ill’ and being secretly treated abroad, Tinubu popularly known as ‘Jagaban’ looked hale, hearty and full of life as he returned to the country on Tuesday.
On landing at the airport, he was welcomed amidst celebration from his supporters

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