Monthly Archives: January 2011

Saving gunshot victims: Civil society coalition seeks urgent Senate passage of bill

A coalition of right groups in Nigeria and in the Diaspora has tasked the Chairperson, Senate Committee on Health, Ms Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello, to introduce the Senate Bill 247 to the Senate plenary for immediate passage. Bill 247 seeks “immediate and compulsory medical help for victims of accidents and gunshot wounds”. The coalition pressing for its passage is made up of four groups: Crime Victims’ Foundation, Ideas Instigator; Transform Nigeria Citizens’ Initiative and Pat Kairos Consult Drive.

The background to this initiative is that under Section 4 (2) of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) Decree No. 21 of 1984, there is a requirement that victims of gunshot wounds must first obtain a police report to be presented at a hospital or clinic, before they can receive emergency medical treatment.

Every year, many Nigerian gunshot victims are denied emergency medical care and left to die, due to their inability to provide the required report. According to Mrs. Gloria Egbuji, Executive Director, Crime Victims Foundation (CRIVIFON): “Every three months, at least 20 people are reported dead in this manner, even as many others go unreported”. Furthermore, “doctors and good Samaritans who had helped victims without first obtaining these reports had faced arrests and harassment from Nigeria law enforcement in various cases”, she added.

At a joint briefing in Lagos, the groups explained that on 4 February 2010, the House of Representatives passed ‘The Compulsory and Immediate Treatment Bill’. But in the Senate, since the bill initiated on the matter was referred to its Committee on Health, nothing has been heard of it. Thus, the Senate equivalent of the bill already passed by the House is currently stalled in the Senate Health Committee.

The Coalition said it is urging the lawmakers in the Upper House to pay immediate attention to the matter, and particularly to repeal Section 4 (2) of the Robbery and Firearms Act mentioned above.

Babangida calls for a more proactive approach to security in the country

IBRAHIM BABANGIDA, former President

On 30 January, former President Ibrahim Babangida said the growing sense of insecurity across the country now calls for a more pro-active approach to security issues by both the government and the people. He was reacting to the killing of the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) governorship candidate and six other persons in Borno State.

In a statement signed on his behalf by his media aide, Prince Kassim Afegbua, the former president expressed grave concern over what he called Nigeria’s frightening security situation and appealed that the spate of killings must stop in the name of God and for the sake of humanity. In particular, he said the Nigerian political class must arrest the trend of politically-motivated killings and assassinations immediately, if the country is truly desirous of building a solid foundation for democracy to thrive.

Expressing his condolences to the people and government of Borno State, Babangida  also appealed to all Nigerians to reflect on “our sense of history regarding communalism, sense of brotherliness and good neighbourliness”, and not to provoke crises that could undermine the country’s sovereignty. “Having come thus far as an independent nation of fifty years, the expectation should be on how to redirect our energies and create the necessary synergy for development and growth”, he said.

Three killed as police and suspected Islamist extremists clash in Maiduguri, Borno State

On 30 January, a policeman and two gunmen were killed in an exchange of gunfire at the Pompomari Housing Estate in Maiduguri, Borno State. Witnesses said the gunmen attacked the policemen who were on stop and search duties at a road block.  After a brief but fierce exchange of gunfire, a policeman and two civilians lay dead.

The Borno State Police commissioner, Mohammed Jinjiri Abubakar, later confirmed that one of his men was killed. But he said his men had “also killed two of the attackers whom we believe are members of the Boko Haram sect”.  He said there were only three policemen at the spot when the gunmen attacked. “They took advantage of the situation because most of our men have been deployed to red spots in the town. But we have changed our strategy…I have directed that henceforth, we should have not less than 10 policemen with a patrol vehicle at every checkpoint”, the commissioner said.

The state police command is intensifying the stop and search operations that had been going in the state in the last eight months, as part of its efforts to stem serial killings in the state. The Commissioner says his command is succeeding in controlling the killings.

Muslim group, JNI, calls for declaration of state of emergency in Plateau State; state government disagrees

Sultan of Sokoto, Alh SA'AD ABUBAKAR III, President of JNI

In response to the violence that again flared in Jos, Plateau State, on 29 January, Jama’atul Nasril Islam (JNI), an umbrella group for the Muslim community in Nigeria, has called on the Federal Government and the National Assembly to declare a state of emergency in the state, adding that the situation in Jos was threatening the corporate existence of Nigeria. In a statement signed by its Assistant Secretary, Barrister Ahmed Garba, the group said: “We reiterate our call on the Presidency and the National Assembly to, as a matter of urgency and in the interest of the continued existence of the country, impose a state of emergency on Plateau State. This is the only immediate measure left to restore sanity, peace and order in the state”.

The Plateau Commissioner for Information, Mr Gregory Yenlong, has however dismissed the call as uncalled for, as the government was working towards resolving the conflict. He added that the situation in Plateau State was not different from what had been happening in some other parts of the country, like Bauchi and Borno, but which had not attracted calls any calls for declaration of a state of emergency.

 

Senate to probe the killings of Gubio, others in Borno State

Senate President, David Mark

On 29 January, Senate President David Mark said that relevant standing committees of the Senate will be mandated to investigate the killings of the All Nigeria People’s Party’s (ANPP) governorship candidate, Alhaji Fannami Modu Gubio and six others, who were assassinated in Maiduguri, Borno State, on 28 January.

In a statement issued through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Paul Mumeh, the Senate President pledged that “The Senate and indeed the National Assembly will invoke the relevant sections of the law and bring it to bear on the perpetrators of this mayhem. Nigeria is bigger than any individual or group interest…The Senate would move in to complement the efforts of security operatives to unmask the killers”.

The Senate President further observed that the security situation in the country is presently in an alarming state, putting the citizenry at a great risk. He said nothing should be spared in tackling the situation. He therefore urged security operatives in the country not to leave any stone unturned in their effort to end the serial assassinations in Borno State. He promised that the Senate, in collaboration with the executive arm of government, will partner in a more positive way towards addressing security challenges in the country. “This growing trend of violence is a direct affront on the people and government. It cannot be tolerated anymore”, he said.

Army to establish new Brigade Headquarters in Ohafia, Abia State

The Nigerian Army is to establish a new Brigade Headquarters in Ohafia, Abia State. This was disclosed by Maj Gen Sarkin-Yaki Bello, General Officer Commanding 82 Division, during a courtesy visit to Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State in Port Harcourt, on 29 January.

Gen Bello said the new brigade is one of the new Forward Operational Bases the army is establishing, to enable it respond to internal security developments more rapidly and effectively. It increases the number of brigades under the 82 Division from two to three, the first Division in Nigerian Army to have “full compliment of three fighting brigades”, as Gen Bello noted.

The GOC also said the new brigade would be quartered at the abandoned military barracks on the outskirts of Ohafia town, which is currently under repairs. Ohafia, a strategic town in Abia State, is the headquarters of Ohafia Local Government Area, which includes the famous towns of Abiriba and Nkporo.

Internal security operation in Abia State a great success, says Maj Gen Sarkin-Yaki Bello, GOC 82 Division

Soldiers in Aba, Abia State

On 29 January, the General Officer Commanding 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, Maj Gen Sarkin-Yaki Bello, said the internal security operation launched in Abia State last October, codenamed Operation Jubilee and led by the army, had achieved  95 percent success. Speaking during a courtesy visit to Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State in Port Harcourt, Gen Bello said he was confident that the operation would soon record 100 per cent success in the achievement of its objectives. The GOC said the army is very prepared to tackle internal security challenges, such as armed banditry, kidnapping and terrorism, in the Niger Delta and other parts of the country.

At least 16 killed in fresh violence in Jos, Plateau State

The 28 January clash between some Hausa youths and students of the University of Jos escalated on 29 January, resulting in the deaths of at least 16 people, at least four of them students.  The violence also led to the burning of churches, mosques, over 20 houses and four gasoline filling stations.

According to several sources, the problem started when some Hausa youths going for a burial at a grave yard situated directly behind a students’ hostel had a misunderstanding with some students, and stabbed two of them with knives. That incident provoked a massive student protest that threatened to degenerate into wide scale violence. Soldiers deployed to control the protest found themselves in a pandemonium, and soon shot some students, who were then rushed to the Bingham University Teaching Hospital (BUTH). Professor Sonni Tyoden, Vice Chancellor of the University of Jos said:  “I can confirm that 14 students were shot but I can’t confirm if they were shot by soldiers or by the Hausas that attacked them”.

Explaining the shooting incident, the commander of the military Special Task Force (STF) in Plateau State, Brigadier General Hassan Umaru, said the students had mobilised in such large numbers that they nearly overwhelmed the soldiers. “The students tried to overrun our men and that was when shots were fired in self-defence and hit four of them”. The Commissioner for Information, Mr. Gregory Yenlong, condemned all the violence, directed the STF to fish out the perpetrators and bring them to justice, but also expressed dismay at the use of firearms on “harmless and unarmed citizens” by men of the STF.

By the next morning, 29 January, word had spread that some of the students shot the previous day had died. The president of the National Association of Plateau State Students (NAPSS), Seth Mwansat, said two of the students taken to BUTH had died. That claim, though unverified, triggered fresh demonstrations by students, joined by a group of women who were protesting the wider, months-long killings in the state.

The ensuing battle between the angry students, the protesting women, embattled Hausa youths and STF men trying to restore order, was further joined by street urchins and hoodlums simply out to loot. Anyone perceived to belong to an opposite camp was attacked. Churches, mosques, residential houses and commercial properties were destroyed and set ablaze, amidst the boom of gunfire.

The Emmanuel Baptist Church in Anguwan Rimi was pulled down; ECWA Church, Rusau, was burnt. Two filling stations at Farin Gada area of the metropolis were set ablaze. Also burnt was the Sardauna Memorial College, along Zaria Road. A workshop for the fabrication of long vehicles bodies, owned by the Deputy Speaker of the Plateau State House of Assembly, Ibrahim Baba Hassan, was burnt down. Hon Hassan laments that no less than 20 of his long vehicles (trailers), parked in the workshop before the violence, were all set ablaze.

Even as security agents tried to restore normalcy, at least 16 people – some estimates say 24 – were killed. Said the Plateau State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Abdulrahman Akano: “This is madness”.

Armed soldiers and men from the anti-riot squad of the police are patrolling the city  in large numbers.

Again, MEND threatens to level oil industry in Niger Delta; military dismisses threat

On 28 January, the Movement for Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) again threatened to destroy the nation’s oil industry, following the 26 January appointment of Mr. Kingsley Kuku as Special Adviser, Niger Delta Affairs, by President Goodluck Jonathan. In an online statement, the group threatened “mayhem unprecedented in the history of our quest for justice”. It added that: “In this new chapter, nothing will be spared, from land-based offices to oil platforms and storage facilities”.

Kuku, 40, an Ijaw from Ondo State, is replacing Mr. Timi Alaibe, an Ijaw from Bayelsa State, who resigned from the post to contest governorship of his home state. A former member of the Ondo State House of Assembly, he was until this appointment, a member of the Federal Government’s Amnesty Committee. MEND did not object to his appointment personally, but said it was all part of the Federal government’s “continuing deception” of Niger Delta people.

However, the military Joint Task Force (JTF) on Niger Delta has dismissed the threat. Its spokesman, Col. Timothy Antigha, told journalists JTF does not expect MEND to carry out its threat since its members have access to the President and could always take their grievances to him. He also said he expects MEND elements “are now mature and won’t go the way of violence again”.

ANPP governorship candidate, Governor’s brother, five others assassinated in Maiduguri, Borno State

The late Alh Fannami Modu GUBIO

On 28 January, the governorship candidate of the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) in Borno State, Alhaji Fannami Modu Gubio, was assassinated in Maiduguri, the state capital.

Killed along with him, were the younger brother of the state’s governor, who is also a former chairman of Ngala Local Government Area, Alhaji Goni Modu Sheriff. The other casualties included two mobile (anti-riot) policemen attached to the governorship candidate (who were dressed in plain clothes), as well as a 10-year-old child.

Gubio, 50, a 1981 graduate of engineering from Ahmadu Bello University, and cousin of Governor Ali Modu Sheriff was, until his death, the Commissioner of Finance and Economic Development in the state administration. He was elected the party’s flag-bearer for the April elections, only two weeks ago. The ANPP controls politics in Borno State.

Local sources say Gubio was returning to his family house from the Jumat prayers at the Shehu of Borno’s palace around 2.15p.m, when the attackers struck. The gunmen, who had apparently trailed him on a motorcycle, opened fire on him and those around him, just as they got down from a jeep. Gubio ran towards a sport utility vehicle parked nearby, but could not make it to the cover. The killers then fled, shooting sporadically into the air to shake off any chase.

Some analyst think the attack bore the hallmarks of the extremist Islamist group, Boko Haram, which has carried out serial killings in the state since last July; but that seems most unlikely, as some say Gubio was himself a “Dan Boko”, a sympathizer with the radical sect. Probably against the background of the contest of interests that had surrounded the choice of the ANPP candidate, the Borno State Commissioner of Police, Alhaji Abubakar Mohammed, states categorically that: “Obviously, it’s a political assassination”.

News of the death of the man whom everyone was sure would be the next governor sent shivers through the city. Many shop owners hurriedly shut down their businesses and ran home. Residents deserted the streets as armed police and soldiers patrolled the city. As police cordoned off large neighborhoods searching for the killers, many people hid inside their homes.

However, the next day – 29 January – thousands of people gathered at Maiduguri’s Gwange cemetery, as the remains of Alhaji Gubio and the governor’s brother were buried. Dignitaries at the funerals included the Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Abubakar Garbai Al-amin Ibn El-kanemi; Emir of Biu, Alhaji Umar Mustapha Aliyu; Emir of Dikwa, Alhaji Masta II; Emir of Bama; Senator Maina Ma’aji Lawan; members of Borno State House of Assembly and members of the Borno State Executive Council. Thousands of sympathisers also trooped out to the family houses of both Gubio and Sheriff.

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