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Terrorists use captives as human shield, says Buhari

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President Muhammadu Buhari
  • Service chiefs should locate, eliminate criminals

  • IG deploys surveillance choppers

Holding on to hostages as human shield by terrorists is prolonging anti-terror war, President Muhammadu Buhari said yesterday.

“The bandits are just pushing their luck; but this is only for a while before they are finally crushed. They are using civilians as human shields, thereby making it difficult to confront them directly,” the President told some residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The residents, led by the FCT Minister, Mohammed Musa Bello, were at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, to pay Sallah homage on the President.

According to the President, bandits and terrorists, unlike professional soldiers, do not respect the rules of engagement and therefore, could resort to harming their hostages when under threat.

Buhari said the Service chiefs and the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) have the responsibility of locating the bandits’ in their hideouts for elimination.

The IGP, Usman Alkali, announced the deployment of surveillance choppers yesterday.

On why caution must be applied in taking out terrorists without collateral damages to the innocent, the President said: “They don’t care about killing their hostages if they come under attack. It’s a delicate situation that requires wisdom, caution and also patience. Any rescue operation that results in the death of any hostage cannot be deemed a success.

“The government doesn’t want this kind of tragic outcome. It’s a complex situation that demands proper handling. The primary objective of any rescue operation is to free the hostages safely, unharmed and alive.

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“Let me make it clear, however, that defeating the terrorists and bandits require more than weapons; we also need human intelligence, which is necessary to frustrate terrorist plans.

“The people and community leaders should help our security officials with information about the activities or movements of criminal groups.”

Calling on Nigerians to make their communities hostile for criminals to live in, the President warned: ”By protecting criminals from exposure, you are endangering your own security and the security of your own community. No criminal can thrive in an environment where he faces the risks of exposure by the people.”

He said a stronger synergy between security agencies and communities would make a huge difference in defeating banditry and terrorism.

Allaying fears that bandits could grow to yet another big challenge in the mould of Boko Haram, the President assured his administration will not allow such to happen.

“This administration has allocated huge resources to improve the capacity of our security forces by timely giving them adequate equipment and improving the welfare of personnel to boost their morale.

“Abuja has witnessed remarkable improvements in terms of security. In the past, terrorists had made it almost impossible to conduct our normal lives. Road barricades had overrun the capital city and people had to pray in fear because of the anxiety of terrorist attacks. No place in FCT was beyond the terrorist – not the United Nations Building, not the Police Headquarters.

“But today, the situation is no longer so. We have significantly weakened and crippled the capabilities of the Boko Haram terrorists so much that they no longer have the ability to seize and occupy any Nigerian territory without being repelled by our gallant troops.

“Of course, we can’t say that the terrorists are one hundred per cent destroyed, but we have destroyed their ability to seize our territory.

“This improvement in terms of significantly weakening the enemy is necessary for finally defeating them. The rate at which the terrorists are giving up their weapons and surrendering to our troops is a significant and welcome development.”

On the steps being made to secure freedom for the remaining passengers on attacked Abuja-Kaduna train, the President said he has directed the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) to coordinate rescue efforts from a situation room.

The passengers were taking into captivity by terrorists who ambushed the Kaduna-bound train on March 28.

In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, the President said the government would ensure the rescue of the hostages alive and unhurt.

The Situation Room, the statement said, would provide more regular and detailed information to families.

He noted that even as Muslims across the country are celebrating the end of the Ramadan fasting with joy, the fact that there are many other families, whose loved one are being held in captivity by criminal elements, was not lost on the administration.

The president recalled that he had recently directed security agencies to effect the rescue of all hostages in all parts of the country.

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The statement reads: “As we celebrate this occasion with joy amidst friends and family members, we are fully conscious of the fact that many families in our country are in a state of fear and anxiety on account of the many captives held by terrorists against their will, including those taken away after the tragic bombing of the Abuja – Kaduna train.

“I have directed security agencies to ensure quick and safe recovery of all victims of kidnapping. I urge the railway management to immediately set up a situation room for the coordination of the rescue mission and for a minute-by-minute engagement with the families of the captives.”

He commended the FCT minister for ensuring the capital city is safe and attractive to prospective investors.

He said: “It’s my pleasure to welcome you all to the presidential villa. As is the tradition, people pay homage to the President as part of the events to mark the Sallah celebration.

“I value these kinds of visits because they afford me the opportunity to interact directly with the people or their representatives. I commend the FCT residents for living in peace and harmony for years since the capital officially came into being.”

THE NATION

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Adeleke Sacks Over 10,000 Workers Newly Recruited by Oyetola

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Osun State Former Governor, Gboyega Oyetola and Governor of Osun, Ademola Adeleke

New Governor of Osun, Ademola Adeleke, has nullified the recruitment of over 10,000 workers most of them teachers who benefitted from employments shortly before the end of the tenure of former Governor, Gboyega Oyetola.

This was part of the Six Executive Orders issued and signed by the Governor on Monday. Adeleke was sworn into office on Sunday as the sixth elected governor of the state. His late elder brother, Isiaka Adeleke was the first elected governor.

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In the Order 3, which bordered on employment, the order stated,

“All employments in the service of Osun State Government made in any capacity into any capacity in all the Ministries, Departments, Agencies, Commissions , Boards and Parastatals after July 17th, 2022 be and are hereby nullified.”
Information available to the NPO Reports showed that more than 10,000 people would be affected with the decision.

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BREAKING: Adeleke suspends OSIEC chairman, members

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Osun State Governor, Ademola Adeleke

The Osun State Governor, Senator Ademola Adeleke, has ordered the immediate suspension of the Chairman of the Osun State Independent Electoral Commission, Mr. Segun Oladitan.

A statement signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Tesleem Igbalaye, on Monday, also suspended six members of the Commission with immediate effect.

The suspension was said to have been based on several petitions bothering on financial impropriety, dereliction of duty, absenteeism and abuse of office against the said Chairman and members of the Commission.

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The statement further read in part, “The Executive Governor of Osun State, Senator Adeleke, has directed the immediate suspension of the Chairman of OSIEC, Segun Oladitan, and the following members of the Commission;

I. Mr. Yusuf Oyeniran
II. Alhaja Suibat Adubi
III. Prince Yinka Ajiboye
IV. Mrs. Abosede Omibeku
V. Mr. Dosu Gidigbi
VI. Mr. Wahab Adewoyin

“This suspension is sequel to several petitions bothering on financial impropriety, dereliction of duty, absenteeism and abuse of office against the said Chairman and members of the Commission.

“Pending the outcome of investigation into the allegations against the suspended chairman and members of the Commission, the Secretary to the Commission shall hold forth in running the affairs of the Commission.”

Punch

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Senate uncovers N200m fraud in Labour ministry payments

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The Senate through its Public Accounts Committee says it has discovered fraud in the payments of over N208 million for the Zonal Skills Acquisition organised by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.

The programme was organised in all the six zones of the federation in 2021 with N35 million for each zone apart from South East which had N32 million.

The money used for the programme was reportedly drawn from Service Wide Vote (SWV) which has become the subject of investigation by the Senate Public Accounts due to failure to subject the expenditure to the scrutiny of the auditor-general of the federation office before expenditure.

The Senate committee alleged forgery of signatures of participants in the programme.
The lawmakers, who received the lists of participants through the Senate Public Accounts Committee chaired by Senator Mathew Urhoghide, observed a few persons signed for the participants to collect their stipends in the six zones as the ministry allegedly failed to make available the phone numbers of participants in the programme.
Urhoghide wondered how the officials could pay millions of naira via cash for the programme instead of bank transfers.

The committee said the character of the signatures in participants’ list made it look the same and not a single person used his name as a signature.
The committee said the ministry would have used e-payment for the participants.

“The signatures can’t stand the forensic test if we subject them to the forensic test,” the committee declared.
Urhoghide said, ” The money ought to have been paid straight into the accounts, you see one person signing for many people. There is a clear violation of e-payment”
However, the ministry’s permanent secretary, Ms Kachollom Dajua, and other officials were said to have failed to give a convincing explanation to the committee as they argued that due process was followed in paying the participants.

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