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How gunmen killed eight persons in Gov Uzodinma’s home attack

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  • IPOB commander killed as troops raid ESN hqts

A team of 12 men armed with AK 47 and grenades on Saturday killed about eight people, including three security personnel, and set ablaze the country home of Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State at Omuma, Oru East Local Government Area of the state.

Several vehicles parked on the premises were also burnt in the latest orgy of violence in the state.

Many people were wounded and subsequently hospitalised.

The state government, which claimed the attack was politically motivated, said “vigilant security operatives attached to the governor’s house successfully repelled the attack and consequently minimised damage.”

 

The Nation reports that moments before the attack, a special security squad had swooped on the alleged operational headquarters of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Eastern Security Network (ESN) in nearby Awoomama, killing a man called Ikonso said to be the coordinator of the recent deadly attacks on the headquarters of the State Police Command and the Nigerian Correctional Service facility both in Owerri.

Leader of IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, vowed Saturday night to avenge the death of his aide.

Residents of Omuma said the attack on Uzodinma’s house was launched at about 9am soon after information spread about the overnight attack on Ikonso and his gang.

Some youths allegedly angered by the security raid on Awoomama were said to have marched to Mgidi in Oru West and later to Omuma where the governor’s private residence is located.

The youths were soon joined at the building by the gunmen who came through the Oguta axis of the state.

On their arrival in the town, the gunmen first shot two yet to be identified security men at Oguta Junction dead.

A source said that the hooded gunmen forced their way into Uzodinma’s compound after breaking down the iron gates with the aid of grenade and proceeded to set it and vehicles parked therein ablaze.

Six security men on guard duty at the governor’s residence were said to have been killed by the gunmen, but the police confirmed three dead.

The sound of their gunshots sent some residents scampering for their lives.

Many fled to neighbouring communities including Atta in Njaba and Amiri and Akatta communities in Oru East.

Hundreds of villagers from Ozuh and Etiti villages, Omuma community in Oru East LGA, were also seen fleeing.

A video recording purportedly of the attack surfaced last night, showing hooded men during the raid. Some of the attackers were dressed in black.

One was seen rushing inside with used tyre ostensibly to start the fire.

The authenticity of the video could not be immediately ascertained.

It’s handiwork of political opponents, says government

The State government said through Information and Strategy Commissioner Declan Emelumba that gallant security operatives repelled the attack on the governor’s country home.

But he said the attack was politically motivated.

He said, “At about 9am today, Saturday, April 24, a group of hoodlums numbering about 15, driving in a motorcade of three vehicles accompanied by a tipper loaded with used tyres, stormed the country home of the governor in Omuma, Oru East  LGA and attempted to burn down the house.

“However, vigilant security operatives attached to the governor’s house successfully repelled the attack and consequently minimised the damage they had planned to unleash.

“In the crossfire that ensued, a few casualties were recorded. Preliminary investigation suggests that the foiled attack may have been politically sponsored.

“The government has directed the relevant security agencies to expedite investigation on the incident and promptly apprehend the sponsors and their agents and bring them to justice.

Also reacting, the state’s police command PPRO, Orlando Ikeokwu, said in a statement that the hoodlums threw a petrol bomb at the governor’s house.

He said, “Yes, I can confirm the story. The hoodlums attacked the governor’s house by throwing in petrol bomb as a result of which two cars were burnt. But they were successfully repelled and none of the buildings was set ablaze.

“One unarmed personnel of the NSCDC was killed in the process. The hoodlums, while escaping, also killed a Police Sergeant and another NSCDC personnel who were both in their private vehicles at Mgbidi Junction.”

The Army spokesman, 34 Artillery Brigand Obinze, Imo State, Lt. Babatunde Zubairu told The Nation that soldiers never shot at any youth.

“I am not aware that youths were killed or a woman was shot by the soldiers, but I know that the governor’s house was attacked by unknown gunmen. The police personnel and our men at the compound repelled them,” he said.

Meanwhile, it was learnt that Army Command drafted soldiers from 34 Artillery Brigade Obinze to take over Oru East and West Council areas of the state to secure the areas against further attacks.

The IPOB Media and Publicity Secretary Emma Powerful declined to talk on the development.

He said, “We are not granting interview now, but Uzodimma wants to try us.”

The security team comprising soldiers, policemen and Department of State Services (DSS) personnel, also recovered from the alleged gangsters assorted guns, ammunition and charms.

The Nation gathered that the security team had trailed Ikonso and his men to the building following painstaking investigation of the Owerri attacks.

A gun battle ensued between the two sides as soon as the suspects sighted the team, which lasted till early yesterday with the bandits losing out.

By the time the exchange of gunfire subsided, Ikonso and six of his men lay dead.

Ikonso is said to be a native of Awo-Omamma, about 20 minutes drive from Owerri.

Sources said he coordinated all foreign donations to IPOB and usually disbursed same to IPOB sub units.

It was gathered that he had been promised the position of vice president in the ‘Republic of Biafra’ hence his dedication to the IPOB cause.

Confirming the operation via a statement, the Director Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Mohammed Yerima, said the operation was launched following “a detailed intelligence report on the location of the terrorists’ Operational Headquarters and the movement of the overall Commander popularly known as Ikonson Commander.”

He said four security operatives, including an Army officer and three policemen were killed in the operation.

Yerima said: “The IRT (Intelligence Response Team) and DSS teams along with troops of 82 Division of the Nigerian Army have been on the trail of the terror group since the unfortunate attacks on the Imo State Police Command and the Owerri Correctional Centre on 5 April, 2021.

“The said Ikonson commander, who was the mastermind of those attacks in addition to multiple attacks in the South East and South South regions, was neutralised along with six of his top commanders.”

The statement added, “So far, three AK 47 riffles, a Toyota Sienna van belonging to the terrorists and several other items of value including drugs suspected to be psychotropic substances were recovered and are being processed by the intelligence team to assist in further investigations and operations in the area.”

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Osinbajo picks holes in naira redesign policy, says scarcity of notes ‘is disturbing’

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Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo

Osinbajo on Friday urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to engage financial technology companies (fintechs) as well as mobile money agents to address the issue of getting new naira notes across the country.

Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo, the second man in the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, has described as “disturbing” the inability of Nigerians to have access to the new naira notes and the ongoing naira scarcity which has caused protest nationwide.

Osinbajo on Friday urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to engage financial technology companies (fintechs) as well as mobile money agents to address the issue of getting new naira notes across the country.

Osibanjo, in a meeting with some fintech stakeholders, expressed worries over the difficulty in getting new naira notes and advised the CBN and commercial banks to address the situation immediately.

“You need cash to pay for transport. For instance, in Abuja, how do you take ‘drop or along’ or use a Keke NAPEP without cash, or buy foodstuff on the road or in canteens, or even buy recharge cards?” Osinbajo said, according to a release by Laolu Akande, his spokesperson.

“Parents with kids in public schools give money daily to their children for lunch, most commerce is informal, so you need cash for most things.

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“It seems to me that banks must engage their mobile money operators. Fintechs with mobile money licenses and many of them have micro-finance bank licenses now and already have a network of mobile money agents or human banks or human ATMs (as they are sometimes called) who are responsible for them and they can supervise themselves. They can do currency swaps and open bank accounts.”

Speaking further on the redesign of the naira notes, Osinbajo lamented the scarcity of the new notes.

“More disturbing is the fact that after depositing your old notes, there are no new notes, so people everywhere in the urban areas and rural areas simply have no money,” he said.

“There are logistical challenges that have to be addressed by the CBN and the banks, especially from the point of view of the average Nigerian and those in the hinterland who hardly use any electronic platforms.”

Osinbajo also said while there has always been a certain failure rate in online banking and money transactions, they have become even more difficult now with the increase in the number of transactions congesting the system.

 “So where in the past you used POS or any of the electronic platforms, you had maybe 20 percent to 30 percent failure rate, now because everyone is trying to get on those platforms, obviously, the failure rate is much more and the problems are much more pronounced,” the Vice President noted.

“We really need to make progress even as we make efforts to deal with some of these issues confronting us today,” he said. SR

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Senate gives Aregbesola 24hrs to defend N700m collected to monitor Edo, Ondo elections

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Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola

THE Senate has given the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola twenty- four hours ultimatum to appear before it and defend the N700 million the ministry  collected from Service Wide Votes, SWV for the monitoring of Ondo and Edo Governorship elections.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Senator Matthew Urhoghide gave the directive to the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry , Dr Shuaib  Belgore due to excuse by the Ministry that the N700 million would  be accounted for by the Nigerian Civil Defence Corps (NSDC).

According to the Committee, from the record, the money was released in two batches, N400 million for Ondo Governorship election and N300 million for Edo Governorship Election.

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This is contained in the Authority to Incur Expenditure (AIE), a document produced by the office of the Accountant General of the Federation which shows that  N400 million was released  to the Ministry of Interior for logistics and operational support in respect of forthcoming Ondo state gubernatorial election.

The second release read that N300 million was released to the Ministry of Interior for logistics and operational support in respect of forthcoming Edo state gubernatorial election.

According to the Permanent Secretary, it is the NSDC that will account for the money, we only make request on behalf of the NSDC.

Not satisfied with the defence of the Permanent Secretary, the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Urhoghide  said that the excuse was  not tenable because the NSDC did not collect the money , it was the Ministry that collected the money.

Urhoghide who noted that the NSDC will only come before the Committee to account for the money requested personally from Service Wide Votes, said, ” NSDC has their own queries , they are coming before the Panel to respond to the one that bears their names, they have the money given to them directly.

“From our records, it is your ministry that will defend the expenditures not NSDC.”

The Chairman who  thereafter gave the Ministry 24 hours to defend the N700 million for the Edo and Ondo governorship elections, said, ” You have 24 hours to make your report available to us, we must get explanation from you.”

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Obi to Nigerians: Currency redesign has socio-economic benefits, bear with FG, CBN

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Peter Obi

Labour Party president candidate and former governor of Anambra State, Mr Peter Obi, has urged Nigerians to bear with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Federal Government in the naira redesigning programme, saying it is not perculiar to the country.

Obi, in a message yesterday, said that despite the fact the currency redesign comes with some inconveniences, it has long-term benefits.

He urged the CBN and banks to do everything possible to make  the new notes available.

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Obi’s statement reads: “The currency redesign is not peculiar to Nigeria. It is an exercise that comes with some inconvenience and pain, but it has significant longterm  economic and social benefits.

 “Even though there are improvements that can be made, I urge Nigerians to bear with the CBN and Federal Government with the hope that the general populace and Nigeria will harvest the gains that will come with the reforms.

“We equally implore the CBN and the banks to expedite efforts to make the new currency available to small depositors and the unbanked in order to reduce the pains of my fellow Nigerians, especially the underprivileged and those living far away from banks in the rural areas.”

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