Monthly Archives: June 2011

Boko Haram scare: Curfew imposed on recreation centres in Abuja

On 29 June, the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) in Abuja issued new regulations that would henceforth, govern the operation of recreation centres, as part of new security measures it is introducing in the city. The measures are coming two weeks after the Islamist sect, Boko Haram, attacked the police headquarters in Abuja killing at least two people, and four days after its fighters bombed a beer garden in Maiduguri killing 25.

In a statement titled “Immediate Review of Administration of Parks and Gardens, Cinema/film centres, Disco/night clubs and other recreational centres in the Federal Capital Territory”, the FCTA stated as follows:

“Henceforth, all operators of parks and gardens that admit children are to close at 6pm daily including weekends. Cinema/film centre and disco/night clubs are to close at 10pm daily including weekends, while beer parlours/drinking joints and pool centres are to close at 10pm daily including weekends.

“Operators of all the above mentioned centres, apart from complying with the directive must put in place adequate security within their premises and the entrance and exit points into such premises must be properly manned”.

“These measures are necessitated by the need to ensure adequate security of lives and property in the Federal Capital Territory sequel to the prevailing security concerns. Monitoring teams will be going round to ensure strict compliance, please.

All the affected centres are therefore directed to adhere to the following time limit for their operations”.

The Commissioner of Police for the Federal Capital Territory, Mr John Haruna, said the new security arrangement does not stop law-abiding residents from going about their normal activities. He said there was no restriction of movements within the FCT, as was being rumoured in some quarters.



Kidnapped company manager James Obriki freed by Task Force in Delta State

On 29 June, the Anti-Kidnapping Task Force of the Delta Waterways Security Committee (DWSC), stormed the hideout of a kidnap gang at Samagidi in Eku  community, Delta State, and  rescued a kidnap victim, Mr. James Onosia Obriki.

Obriki, based in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, is the Country Manager of Saybolt Limited, a subsidiary of the petroleum services company, Core Laboratories. He was ambushed and abducted by gunmen on 24 June, while driving his car on Airport Road, Warri.

Reports say tipped-off by undisclosed persons, the Anti-kidnapping Task Force, comprising policemen and DWSC members, arrested some members of the kidnappers’ families. Chats with the arrested persons yielded some good information on the movements and activities of the kidnappers. Armed with that information, the Task Force was able to trail the kidnappers to their hideout.

However, as the Task Force closed in on the hideout, the kidnappers abandoned their captive and fled. Obriki was then freed by the task force.

It is not clear how much the kidnappers had been demanding as ransom, but the manner in which Obriki regained his freedom, means his family and employers did not have to pay any ransom for his freedom.

16 killed by lightning in Bauchi and Gombe States, 3 feared dead in Yobe

On 28 June, 16 persons were killed and nine others critically injured by lightning strikes amidst a heavy downpour in Bauchi and Gombe States. Another report said three people were also killed by lightning in neighbouring Yobe State, but this has not yet been confirmed.

In Bauchi State, two women who were milling corn, along with their babies whom they had strapped to their backs, were all killed by the strike, in Soro village of Ganjuwa Local Government Area. The women were both married to one man, Mallam Sai’du Bello.

In Gombe State, 12 people were killed at Gelengu village in Balanga Local Government Area. The Nigeria Red Cross Disaster Coordinator in charge of Gelengu, Malam Umar Ahmed, said the victims were working on their farms when the rain started with a heavy storm. He said the 12 were running for shelter when they were struck down by the lightning at around 1 p.m., while nine others sustained injuries.

The Red Cross official said: “So far, we have recovered 12 corpses”. He added that the nine injured persons were receiving medical treatment at the Primary Health Care Centre.

Police chief Ringim cuts short US visit, following summons by Senate

Mr HAFIZ A. RINGIM Inspector General of Police

On 29 June, the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Hafiz Ringim, cut short his scheduled five-day working visit to the United States, in order to return home and honour a Senate invitation to testify on the security situation in the country.   

Ringim, who arrived Washington DC on 26 June, had held some talks with US government officials, and was scheduled to deliver a keynote address on 30 June at a conference on “The Challenge of Police Reform in Africa’’,  organised by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). 

However, he decided to return home after the Senate, rising from its 28 June deliberations on the security incidents in the country, summoned security chiefs to brief it on the situation.

A spokesperson of the CSIS thereafter phoned the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in New York to say that the Inspector General would no longer attend the event.

The spokesperson reportedly said: “He (Ringim) called this morning (Wednesday) to inform us that he will be leaving Washington tonight to honour an invitation from the Senate on the security situation in the country’’.

Terrorism: Reps demand establishment of Department of Homeland Security

House of Representatives

On 28 June, members of the House of Representatives (Lower Parliament) passed a resolution calling for the establishment of a new security outfit to be called the Department of Homeland Security, similar to what obtains in the United States of America.

The resolution followed a motion sponsored by Hon Abimbola Oluwafemi Daramola (ACN, Ekiti) which said:  “We urge the President to establish a Department of Homeland Security to, among other things work, interface and coordinate other security agencies in the fight against internal security challenges”.

Speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, who announced this after the House emerged from a three-hour-long closed door meeting, said the House decided to avoid an open debate on the the issue of national security, due to the sensitive nature of the subject.

The Speaker said the House had also resolved to set up a committee which would, to among other things, summon the Director General of the State Security Service (SSS) and other security chiefs, to explain the remote and immediate causes of the recent incidents of terrorist violence and to explore the best strategies for re-organizing the nation’s internal security system.

In the mean time, the resolution called on security agencies to improve upon their current level of intelligence gathering and response, information sharing and emergency preparedness.

Bomb attacks: Senate to summon security chiefs

Chief DAVID MARK Senate President

On 28 June, the Senate deliberated on the nation’s worrisome security situation and resolved to summon all service chiefs to brief its members.

Moving a motion on the series of bombing incidents in the country since late 2010, particularly the 16 June 2011 bomb incident at the headquarters of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Senator Ita Enang said there was need for thorough investigation of these developments, otherwise the entire country would be condemned to living in perpetual insecurity.

Enang said: “The issue of bombing in the county is assuming a frightening dimension. Since the explosion of October last year, it has continued with a group accepting responsibility. I urge the Senate to take up the matter”. He therefore prayed the Senate to condemn the bombings, commiserate with the families of the victims and summon the service chiefs to brief its members on the way out of the present situation.

The motion drew comments from several Senators, but the main contributions were as follows:

  • Senator Ayogu Eze (PDP, Enugu North), describing the motion as timely, blamed the security situation on the failure of the nation’s security system which, he said, needs to be overhauled, in terms of its operations, recruitment processes and the working equipment available to its operatives.
  • Senator George Sekibo (Rivers, East) similarly blamed the security system, asking rhetorically: “How can the security system be so loose as to allow bombing of the Police Force headquarters?” He said: “Police Headquarters is a place supposedly fortified with security and yet the Number One law enforcement officer of the land could be bombed. The situation calls for worry.”
  • Senator Philip Aduda (Federal Capital Territory, Abuja) called on the Senate to raise a committee to investigate the situation, especially the recent bomb attacks.
  • Senator Ehigie Uzemere (Edo) appealed for caution on the matter and suggested engaging members of the religious sect, Boko Haram, in a dialogue.
  • Senator Olusola Adeyeye (Osun) said the security of all Nigerians was now at risk and called on religious and other leaders across the country to close ranks and fight the current security problems. He also argued that the nation’s security hierarchy needed thorough examination, adding that a situation where the police leadership would say something on insecurity and recant later, raised serious questions about professionalism.
  • Senator Abdullahi Adamu from Nasarawa State urged the Senate to stop addressing symptoms and step up its primary constitutional duty of oversighting the executive arm of government. He said: “As a Senate of the Federal Republic, where elder statesmen are, we should desist from addressing symptoms. As a Senate, we have a fundamental responsibility to oversight the executive, what they are doing or what they are about to do”.
  • Senator Abdul Ningi urged the Senate to invite security chiefs for proper briefing on the security situation in the country.
  • Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, noted that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria makes security of citizens a fundamental responsibility of the government and that the current security situation, which was now “a national emergency”, should not be treated lightly.

At the end of the contributions, the Senate President, Senator David Mark, amended the motion, suggesting that the establishment of a Senate Committee on the situation be put on hold, until after security chiefs must have been summoned to brief the Senate on the situation.  He persuaded his colleagues that it is only after the briefing must have armed them with first hand information, that the Senate would then be clear on its next line of action.

 The motion, amended to reflect this position, was then approved unanimously.

Poverty, unemployment at the root of violence, says Nassarawa Gov Al-Makura

Alh UMARU AL-MAKURA Governor of Nassarawa State

On 28 June, the Nassarawa State Governor, Alhaji Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, identified mass poverty and the high level of unemployment as the key factors responsible for violence in the country.

He made the observation while receiving members of a sub-committee of the presidential panel on election-related violence, who paid him a visit in Lafia, capital of Nassarawa State. The panel is particularly investigating the violence that erupted in some northern states, shortly after the presidential polls.

Briefing the governor on the panel’s work, the leader of the sub-committee, retired Justice Samuel O. Uwaifo, said its terms of reference include unravelling the immediate and remote causes of the violence, ascertaining the number of lives lost and the magnitude of property damaged, as well as making recommendations to avoid any re-occurrence.

Justice Uwaifo said the panel has been broken down into three sub-committees, adding that his sub-committee is in charge of Nassarawa, Akwa Ibom and Niger States. He said his sub-committee would hold a public hearing in Lafia, and that its members would also visit some other parts of the state, including Doma, Keffi and Nasarawa, to assess the level of damage.

Urging members of the sub-committee to discharge their assignment with utmost responsibility, the governor pledged the support of his administration for their work.

Gunmen kidnap 4 telecom workers, demand N25 million ransom for each, in Ondo State

On 27 June, four workers of a telecommunication company were kidnapped by unknown armed men in Ore, Odigbo Local Government Area of Ondo State.

The kidnapped men, working with a telecommunications support company, JMG Limited, comprise of an engineer and three others. The armed men pounced on them while they were working at the base station of a GSM service provider and took them to an unknown destination.

Shortly after the kidnappers took them away, they also seized their phones and then used them to contact members of their captives’ families. Oladele Adesokan, who is a brother of one of the victims, said the kidnappers were demanding N25 million as ransom from each of their hostages. 

A message sent to him through his abducted brother’s phone said: “l and other victims are being kept at one of the camps of the kidnappers”. Adesokan said the kidnappers had seized the phones of the victims, but still left the phones on, allowing the captives to receive in-coming phone calls.

However, the Police Public Relations Officer for Ondo State, Mr. Adeniran Aremu, told inquiring newsmen that the police had not yet received any report of the case. Aremu said the relations of the victims should have reported to the police at Ore promptly, instead of trying to negotiate with the kidnappers. 

This kidnap comes barely two weeks after Mrs. Mariam Oke, 82-year-old mother of the National Legal Adiviser of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olusola Oke, was kidnapped at nearby Igbokoda. Prior to that, the mother of the prominent businessman Jimoh Ibrahim, had also been kidnapped in Igbokoda.

However, ex-militant leaders in the area who held a meeting on the issue recently, had condemned kidnapping in the state, and called on the state government to set up a task force to curb it.

Amnesty International condemns “senseless killings”, urges protection of residents in Nigeria

On 27 June, the London-based global human rights group, Amnesty International, condemned the killing of civilians by the militant Islamist sect, Boko Haram, and called for better protection of all residents.

In a statement, the group’s Deputy Director for Africa, Tawanda Hondora, said: “These killings are senseless and outrageous. Direct attacks on civilians are prohibited under international law and show a complete disregard for the right to life”.

Arguing that “no cause can justify the deliberate targeting of civilians”, it called on the Islamist group to “stop its reign of terror in the country”.

Amnesty International also called on the Federal Government to take effective measures towards ensuring the safety of all residents particularly of the north-eastern states, and also ensuring the rule of law.

It observed that the Nigerian criminal justice system is dysfunctional at best and subjects thousands to human rights violations, including torture, enforced disappearances, extrajudicial executions and unfair trials.

Suspected members of Boko Haram had been arrested in previous security drives, but have not been tried, partly due to the inability of police to gather proper evidence and also the multiple deficiencies that tend to cripple court processes. With the arrested persons often detained under inhuman conditions, what was supposed to be a justice system ends up treating suspects with so much injustice that it only radicalizes and hardens them.

Amnesty International said: “The Nigerian government can only ensure safety by investing heavily in reforming the criminal justice system, so that the perpetrators of these attacks and other human rights abuses can be properly investigated, arrested and prosecuted in fair trials without recourse to the death penalty”.

Military Task Force dismantles checkpoints in Maiduguri, Borno State

Troops patroling Maiduguri: No more check points

On 27 June, the Commander of the Joint Task force, Operation Restore Order (JTORO), Maj. Gen. Jack Okechukwu Nwaogbo, ordered the dismantling of the over 35 checkpoints which the police had mounted and operated at strategic locations on roads and highways in Maiduguri, capital of Borno State.

Announcing the order at a press conference in Maiduguri, Nwaogbo told reporters that checkpoints not only obstruct the free flow of traffic and pedestrians, but also distract members of the task force from implementing other security measures that are necessary to protect lives and property.

Moreover, he said, the routine checks of vehicles and motorcycles at checkpoints had not yielded any significant results in terms of interception and seizure of arms and ammunition from the killers that target policemen, soldiers, community leaders and clerics.

He said it was in the light of these realities, that the “stop and search” operations by members of the task force had been withdrawn, and relocated to strategic entry points into Maiduguri metropolis and other vulnerable towns in the state.

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