Monthly Archives: March 2011
On 31 March, Senator John Akpan Udoedehe, governorship candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in Akwa Ibom State, was granted bail by the Federal High Court in Abuja presided over by Justice Adamu Bello. But anti-riot police officers stormed the court and promptly re-arrested him.
Udoedehe was initially arrested on 24 March, two days after supporters of the ACN were attacked by thugs allegedly organized by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), which is the ruling party in Akwa Ibom State. That clash degenerated to mass violence in Ikot-Ekpene and Uyo (the state capital), resulting to some deaths and widespread destruction of both public and private properties.
Following his arrest, Udoedehe was arraigned in court on 25 March, on a four-count charge of conspiracy and treason. On 29 March, his lawyers brought a formal application for bail. After listening to that application and the prosecution’s argument opposing it, Justice Bello said the police had presented no shred of evidence to link the politician with the alleged offence and ruled that holding onto him while the police go around fishing for evidence, was legally unacceptable.
But shortly after Justice Bello granted the bail application, a team of about 50 mobile (anti-riot) policemen arrived at the court. They scuffled with Udoedehe’s supporters briefly, before they took the candidate away to the police headquarters. Unofficial sources say the police subsequently flew him to Uyo, where they intend to charge him for murder at another court.
Udoedehe’s lawyer, Leo Ekpenyong, says the re-arrest was politically motivated, and warns that it would only aggravate tensions in Akwa Ibom State. “The atmosphere in Akwa Ibom is so charged, it is going to boil into a very serious war,” he told newsmen. “The governor (of Akwa Ibom State) and the Presidency are pushing the people of Akwa Ibom State to the wall, and the people may react”.
Udoehehe’ s supporters are also drawing attention to an earlier ruling by another court which granted an injunction restraining the Inspector General of Police from re-arresting the candidate. They point to the fact that Justice Sunday Aladetoyinbo of an Abuja High Court had, on March 23, granted an order of injunction restraining the Inspector General of Police from harassing Udoedehe. They believe his arrest and prosecution are part of a political plot to keep the ACN candidate out of circulation, at least until after the April elections.
However, the Force Public Relations Officer, Mr Olusola Amore, has rejected the suggestion that the police is being politically manipulated. “We don’t look at political considerations”, he said, “We are looking at the crime”.
On 30 March, a bomb exploded in a pharmaceutical shop owned by a cleric, Ustaz Muhammad Mustapha, at Tashar Bala Market in London ciki area of Maiduguri, capital of Borno State.
Ustaz Mustapha is said to be highly knowledgeable in Islamic matters and has a mosque at Gwozari, another area in London Ciki, where he preaches and leads prayers. He is also a medicine merchant.
Witnesses say that around 6.45pm, shortly after the Magrib prayers, an unidentified man entered the shop and pretended that he wanted to buy drugs. But as soon as he left, shop attendants and customers noticed that the man had left a bag behind in the shop.
Mustapha’s attention was drawn to the bag. On examining it, he saw a strange device inside and immediately suspected that something sinister was in the offing. He took the precautionary step of speedily evacuating his shop attendants from the shop. Moments later, the shop was rocked by a loud explosion, causing major damage. One source says more than 70 percent of the shop was destroyed.
On 30 March, Police arrested seven suspected members of the radical Islamist group, Boko Haram in Maiduguri, Borno State, and stormed a house suspected to be a hideout for its members in Damaturu, Yobe State.
Addressing newsmen in Maiduguri, Borno State Police Commissioner, Muhammed Abubakar, disclosed that seven suspected members of the group were arrested in Maiduguri in connection with the stampede at the venue of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) rally on 29 March. He said the suspects arrested confessed to being responsible for the gunshots at Ramat Square, venue of the ANPP rally, and also the robbery incident at Gwange area of the city. According to the police commissioner, one of the arrested persons, Baba Gana Mohammed, led the police to the group’s hideout in Damaturu, Yobe State.
The Commissioner disclosed that in Damaturu, the occupants of the said house engaged the police in a serious gun battle. They further threw deadly explosives at the police, detonated bombs in their own house before they ran away. The commissioner said that Imman Abubakar Mohammed Shekau, the alleged leader of the group, was among those who fled from the hideout.
In Yobe State, the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Hyacinth Medugu, confirmed to newsmen that five devices exploded when a team of policemen, drawn from Yobe and Borno commands, stormed a house belonging to suspected members of the Boko Haram sect at Sani Daura Ahmed Housing Estate in Damaturu.
Medugu said, “We received information from Borno command that a house in Damaturu was harbouring Boko Haram members and requested enforcement to search the premises of the suspected house.
“We mounted surveillance on the house and noticed suspicious movements in and out of the house; then, we moved into action around 5am today (30 March), exchanging fire with the suspects. One of our men was shot, but he is responding to treatment.
The DCP said: “The unfortunate thing is that three of the suspects detonated the explosives and escaped, leaving behind two wives and three children who have been evacuated and were all safe.” He explained that men of the fire service department were invited to put out the fire caused by the explosives which razed down the house. He said the police recovered five cylinders suspected to have been used for explosives.
Abubakar said two AK 47 rifles, many rounds of ammunitions and deadly explosives including bombs were recovered from the scene. He added that the anti-bomb squad had been drafted to the scene to recover more explosives.
The police boss also said two women who are wives to the lieutenant to Shekau, the leader of the Boko Haram sect, were arrested after the raid on the house. The two women arrested in Damaturu confessed to being wives of members of the sect. One of them, named Hadiza, told newsmen that she was the younger sister of one of the wives of Muhammed Yussuf, the late leader of the sect.
On 30 March, the Commissioner of Police in Akwa Ibom State, Mr Felix Uyanna, said the rumour circulating in the state that Governor Godswill Akpabio paid N500 million to police authorities in order to bring him to the state is totally unfounded.
He stated this during his first formal interaction with political party leaders in the state.
Uyanna, who assumed duty in the state on 22 March, explained that his last duty post was Taraba State, and that it was entirely the prerogative of the Inspector General of Police to effect postings and transfers in the Police Command, at any time he deems necessary. He pointed out that he was transferred along with police commissioners in about five other states. He said there were therefore no political undertones in his transfer to Akwa Ibom State, and that he had no knowledge about any transaction involving the amount being mentioned by rumour mongers.
The Commissioner said his responsibility in the state was no more than to ensure peace and order. “My duty, by law, is to make sure that the people of the state sleep with their two eyes closed”, he said. He therefore called on the leaders of the political parties in the state to promote inter-party relations and shun violence.
On 29 March, the Delta State Police Command paraded nine persons suspected of involvement in kidnapping and robbery.
Commissioner of Police for Delta State, Mr Mamman Tsafe, said among those paraded was a herbalist, who was aiding the six-man gang of kidnappers smashed by the police on 27 March. Arrested along with him was his teenage daughter.
Two of the suspects paraded were members of a robbery gang that attacked a new generation bank in Umunede, killed a 56-year-old man identified as Ifeanyi Okumabor, and carted away N44 million. The Police Commissioner said the arrest of the two men – identified as Benneth Ibe and Chibuike Ajiofor – followed a breakthrough by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in Anambra and Delta States. He said the suspects, who are members of a 20-man gang, were arrested in Anambra State and have already made useful confessional statements.
Another two suspects, identified as Tom Ogbongwor and Christian Chukwu, and both natives of Issele-Uku in Delta State, Aniocha North Local Government, were arrested while trying to sell a stolen car. The Commissioner said the owner of the car, identified as Nwabuike, was stabbed in the back while being dispossessed of his car in Issele-Uku, a fortnight ago. He said the suspects were trailed to Lagos, where plain clothes detectives posed as buyers before grabbing them.
The Police Commissioner said all the suspects will be charged to court soon.
On 29 March, over 20 gunmen suspected to be Fulani herdsmen stormed the Federal College of Land Resources, Vom, Plateau State, killed two people and wounded five others. The two men killed were security personnel in the employment of the college.
The attack is the second on the school within two months. A 10 February attack on the staff quarters of the school left five people dead including the Chief Security Officer, Mr. Danjuma Haruna, the chief accountant, his wife and daughter.
Following that earlier attack, policemen were sent to secure the school. But in the latest attack, the gunmen reportedly shot their way into the school, overwhelming the four policemen on guard.
Local sources say the attackers went round the large compound of the school in a very deliberate manner, as though they were looking for a particular target, before they eventually left after about 30 minutes. It is suspected that they may have been looking for the son of the late chief security officer, Gideon, who had earlier raised an alarm that those who killed his father were still after his own life. He was not at home when the attackers came.
Confirming the incident to newsmen, the state Police Commissioner, Mr. Abdulrahman Akano, said the attackers were yet to be apprehended as they fled the scene immediately after their criminal act. But he said his men were on their trail as full investigations had commenced. He said the two security men killed by the attackers and others injured were taken to the Vom Christian Hospital. He appealed to the people to remain calm.
On 29 March, the State Security Service (SSS) quizzed 10 leading politicians from Kebbi State, drawn from the leaderships of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), in connection with election-related violence in the state. The party chieftains, who were summoned to Abuja by the Director-General of the service, Mr. Ita Ekpeyong, signed an undertaking binding them to ensure peaceful elections in the state.
The CPC leaders who were interrogated by the SSS at the agency’s headquarters in Abuja were the former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Senator Adamu Aliero, Hon Suleiman Mohammed (State Chairman), Hon. Ibn Na’Alla, Alhaji Sani Zauro and Alhaji Suleiman Gwandu.
The PDP leaders were Mansur Shehu (State Chairman), Lawali Na Mallam, Alhaji Ali Bagudo, Alhaji Sani Rukuboloh and Alhaji Musa Illela.
The Spokesperson of the Service, Marilyn Ogar, told journalists that the politicians were invited because investigations revealed that they were behind the recurrent political violence in the state. She said that after the interrogation, they showed remorse and were mandated to sign an undertaking to maintain peace in the state.
Addressing newsmen after about five hours in an underground cell of the SSS, the chairmen of the two parties said they had resolved that the April 2011 elections would be free and fair in the state. According to them, it was particularly agreed that “the peace of Kebbi State lies in the hands of Governor Dakingari and Adamu Aliero”.
The leaders further agreed “That no party in Kebbi State will, by any act or omission, encourage political thuggery or violence in any form, even as security agencies in Kebbi State were charged not to allow themselves to be used for political violence”.
It was also agreed that security agencies would work jointly to ensure that perpetrators of political violence and criminal activities in the state face the full wrath of the law, irrespective of their positions in the society.
No civil servant, the political leaders pledged, would be victimised for political reasons, and no political party would promote any religion for political advantage.
They also agreed that sponsors of political violence would be held liable for any breach that may lead to the disruption of the April polls in any part of the State.
On 28 March, supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) clashed in Maigatari Local Government Area of Jigawa State. The second-in-command to the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) was injured, while one of the rioters was reportedly shot.
The cause of the clash is not certain, as they are conflicting accounts. However, as supporters of the parties clashed, policemen were drafted to the area to maintain law and order. Local sources say some of the rioters started throwing stones at the police and in the process, injured the police officer on his head. The action, they said, compelled the policemen to shoot defencively into the air. A stray bullet hit one of the rioters, who was then rushed unconscious, to the Maigatari General Hospital.
Police Public Relations Officer ASP Abdu Jinjiri confirmed the incident to newsmen, but denied any shooting by the police. “There was clash between the PDP and ACN supporters but no one was shot by the police”, he said. “The DPO did not confirm anything like that to me”. He added that police had restored peace to the area.
On 29 March, the Kogi State Police Command reported that four policemen were killed while another one was injured, in an attack by armed robbers, along the Lokoja-Okene road, on 28 March.
According to the police spokesman, Mr. Okesanmi Ajayi, the incident occurred around 1.30am at Itakpe village, about 55 kilometres from Lokoja. He said the policemen were travelling from Zamfara State to Lagos, on an official assignment. He said the robbers further made away with the AK-47 rifles and uniforms of the slain policemen.
The corpses of the four dead men have been deposited at a mortuary in Okene, Kogi State, while the injured policeman is being treated at an undisclosed hospital.
On 25 March, unknown gunmen raided a former presidential aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Sani Aminu Dutsinma, at his residence in Abuja, taking away some of his valuable items.
In his account of the incident, Dutsinma said two armed men stormed his residence and demanded for his laptop and money.
“They asked me to lie down and the first thing they were requesting was my laptop and my money. I told them that my laptop was in my office and I had no money, just some few naira and foreign currency. They forced me on the floor and one of them marched my neck and then the other one took my wife to ransack the house. At the end of the search, they came upstairs to my office, took my handsets, the key to my car and drove the car”, he said.
He said he initially thought it was simply a robbery, but that he began to think otherwise, because as he said: “I received a lot of insult from them, like ‘Stupid presidential aspirant, you don’t even have money. You are just causing trouble’.” Some of their statements got him thinking that they may not have been merely robbers.
Dutsinma is currently in court, challenging the outcome of the PDP presidential primaries, which produced President Goodluck Jonathan as candidate. Reflecting on the robbery incident, he said that no amount of threat or intimidation would deter him from pursuing his case because, as a concerned member of the PDP, he believes the party must abide by its constitution and agreements to rotate power among the different geo-political zones of the country.