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We paid N6.6m for our girls’ release – Katsina community .No ransom was paid, Zamfara govt insists

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A community in Katsina State, where 26 girls were abducted by bandits, has countered the claim by the Zamfara State Government that no ransom was paid to secure their release from captivity.

Indeed, the community said they paid over N6m to the kidnappers as ransom for the release of the abducted girls

The girls were said to have been randomly picked from houses in Garin Aja on October 13, 2020, only to be released on November 6. The community shares border with Zamfara State, Daily Trust reports.

“Those abducted included girls and spinsters. The bandits moved from house to house and selected their victims,” one of the sources said.

“The abductors did not bother to pick children or the old; they carefully selected girls and young women who either lost their husbands or divorced. They also asked their parents to pay a ransom and get their wards back. The parents simply complied because they want their children back and safely,” another source said.

The Zamfara State Government delegation, led by the Commissioner for Security and Home Affairs, Alhaji Abubakar Dauran, handed over the 26 girls to Katsina State Governor, Aminu Masari at the weekend.

The Special Adviser to the Governor on Public Enlightenment, Media and Communication, Zailani Bappa, told Daily Trust last night that the girls were released after negotiations and dialogue with the armed bandits.

Governor Bello Matawalle had earlier tweeted that: “I interacted with 26 rescued girls after medical professionals have ascertained their physical and mental fitness following days of trauma suffered in kidnappers den.

“The young girls kidnapped from Katsina State were rescued on 6/11/2020 as a result of our intervention.”

But the village head of Dan-Aji, Alhaji Lawal Dogara, told newsmen on Monday in Katsina that the community paid N6.6 million ransom to free the girls.

“The governor of Zamfara State should stop claiming credit for the release of our women because we paid for their release,” Dogara said.

He said two community leaders, Alhaji Abdulkarim Dan Aji and Liman Babangida Dan-Aji, trekked for three days into the forest to deliver the ransom to the bandits.

Meanwhile, the Zamfara State Police Command has confirmed an attack on the state government delegation returning from Katsina State where they handed over the rescued girls to Katsina State Government.

The command’s spokesman, Muhammad Shehu, in a statement on Monday, said the delegation was caught in the crossfire between two warring bandit groups who were fighting for supremacy at Dogon Karfe, Gidan Jaja along Zurmi – Jibiya Road in Zurmi local government.

“Unfortunately, a driver in the delegation died in the crossfire. Immediately, the combined Police and Military personnel rushed to the scene to strengthen the existing escort of the delegation,” Shehu added.

Kidnapping is a recurrent decimal in Zamfara, Katsina and the North West in general.

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Buhari to present 2023 budget proposal to NASS Friday

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President Muhammadu Buhari will present the 2023 Appropriations bill to a joint session of the National Assembly on Friday.

The appropriations bill will contain budget proposals for the 2023 fiscal year.

He made this known in a letter to the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, which was read out at the start of plenary on Tuesday.

The formal budget presentation is scheduled for 10am

and it will be the last main budget Buhari will be presenting as he will leave office on 29 May 2023 when his second four year term will end.

The Federal Government is already proposing an aggregate expenditure of N19.76 trillion for the 2023 fiscal year with a budget deficit of about N12.41 trillion.

Some key assumptions in the proposal include an estimated oil benchmark of $70, crude oil production put at 1.69mbpd, exchange rate of N435.57/$ and inflation rate at 17.16 per cent.

The Federal Government pegged growth rate at 3.75 per cent because it believes that “Growth is expected to be moderated to 3.30% in 2024 before picking up to 3.46% in 2025.”

The Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, had disclosed that the federal government will borrow over N11 trillion and sell national assets to finance the budget deficit in 2023.

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ASUU also corrupt, undermining govt investment – Buhari

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President Muhammadu Buhari has said a number of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) are involved in corrupt practices.

He said the corruption in the universities and other institutions was undermining government’s funding and investment in education.

ASUU has been on strike since February 14 over increase in lecturers’ allowances and salaries as well as improved funding for the universities.

Buhari has appealed to the union to call off the strike but the lecturers have stood their ground.

The President on Tuesday while declaring open the Fourth National Summit on Diminishing Corruption organised by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Office of Secretary to Government of the Federation (OSGF) and Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), said ASUU was no less complicit in the corruption in tertiary education.

He said corruption in the education sector had continued to undermine investments, while critics downplayed funding by focusing only on budgetary allocations, urging a more comprehensive re-evaluation of expenditure.

The President said, “This year’s summit will mirror how corruption undermines educational policies, investments and create an unfriendly learning environment for our youths.

“Incessant strikes especially by unions in the tertiary education often imply that government is grossly underfunding education, but I must say that corruption in the education system from basic level to the tertiary level has been undermining our investment in the sector and those who go on prolonged strikes on flimsy reasons are no less complicit.

“The 1999 Constitution places a premium on education by placing it on the Concurrent List, thereby laying the responsibilities of budgeting and underwriting qualitative education on both the Federal and State Governments.

“The total education budget for each year is therefore a reflection of both federal and state budgets and should be viewed as other financial commitments in their totality.

“The allocation to education in the federal budget should not be considered via allocation to the Federal Ministry of Education and also academic institutions alone, but should include allocation to the Universal Basic Education, transfers to TETFUND and refund from the Education Tax Pool Account to TETFUND.

“Corruption in the expenditure of internally generated revenue of tertiary institutions is a matter that has strangely not received the attention of stakeholders in tertiary education, including unions.

“I call on stakeholders to demand accountability in the administration of academic institutions and for unions to interrogate the bloated personnel and recurrent expenditure of their institutions. Let me also implore the Unions to work with the government to put faces and identities to names on the payroll.

“Due to declining resources, the government cannot bear the cost of funding education alone. I task our academics to attract endowments, research and other grants to universities, polytechnics and colleges of education similar to what obtains in other countries.”

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Seven police officers dismissed, 10 others demoted

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The Police Service Commission (PSC), on Tuesday, dismissed seven senior police officers over gross misconduct.

The commission also announced the demotion of 10 other officers through reduction in rank.

These decisions were taken during the continuation of the 15th plenary meeting of the commission.

The meeting is expected to end on Thursday, October 6, 2022, according to a report by The Trust.

Presided over by its acting chairman, Justice Clara Ogunbiyi, the meeting considered all the Pending Disciplinary Matters (PDM) before the commission.

The PDMs, which totalled 47, also treated some appeals from dismissed police officers.

Addressing newsmen shortly after the meeting in Abuja, the spokesman for the commission, Ikechukwu Ani, said, the dismissed officers include one CSP, one SP and five ASPs.

He said that one SP was retired in public interest, adding that the commission reduced the ranks of one CSP to SP, three SPs to DSP, and two DSPs to ASPs.

The commission further reduced the ranks of four ASPs to Inspectors.

10 senior police officers, including an ACP, a CSP, a SP and two DSPs were given the punishment of severe reprimand.

Five ASPs were also awarded the punishment of severe reprimand.

Thirteen officers received the punishment of reprimand; two are to receive letters of warning while four officers were exonerated.

Ani quoted Justice Ogunbiyi as saying the commission would henceforth give the desired attention to Pending Disciplinary Matters so that those found guilty are punished immediately while those found not guilty are cleared to continue with their career progression.

Justice Ogunbiyi called on police officers to ensure they operate within established rules and avoid taking laws into their hands.

The commission, she said, would continue to work to sustain a professional police force.

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