Monthly Archives: September 2011
The first incident occurred in the village of Tsohon Foron. Witnesses said a group of gunmen, all dressed in black, raided the village at about 1.15am.
They said the attackers first shot in the air to create panic and terror in the village, before attacking their victims with machetes and guns. By the end of the attack, nine people lay dead while about 30 cattle had been stolen. Government officials said eight of those killed were of the same family, comprising a father and seven of his children. Five of the children were under 10 years old.
The second attack occurred in a nearby village called Kunsen Gashish. The attackers killed three people.
Plateau State in which the attacks occurred, lies in a region sometimes referred to as the “Middle Belt” of Nigeria, a zone of convergence between the mostly Muslim north and the predominantly Christian south. The indigenous ethnic groups in the area, which are mostly Christian, are largely farmers; the more recent “settler” groups, notably the Fulani, are more of cattle rearers and herdsmen.
As the populations of these groups grew over the years, the struggle for control of local political offices and use of fertile lands grew increasingly intense. Poorly managed by governments, those tensions have since escalated in recurrent episodes of violence, particularly over the last two years.
On 4 September, three persons were killed, two reported missing while 10 were rescued after a ship with 15 sailors onboard exploded off Nigeria’s territorial waters. All the three killed were Indians.
According to a spokesperson for the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Mr Lami Tumaka, the ship, ITB Jacksonville, was 17 nautical miles off the Apapa port in Lagos, when the incident happened. Lagos is Nigeria’s largest commercial centre and the Apapa port is the leading recipient of its import cargo.
The cause of the explosion is not yet known, but Tumaka said the ship had leaked a yet-to-be-confirmed substance into the water. He said the vessel went up in flames after the big explosion in its engine room as it approached Lagos.
The NIMASA spokesman said three bodies were later recovered through a search and rescue operation, but that two were still missing. He said the 10 persons rescued, all Indians, were taken to a hospital in Apapa for emergency medical attention.
Tumaka further said the origin of the vessel had not yet been ascertained, due to contradictory indications. He said while the ship was flying a Liberian flag, the documents found on it read Panama.
NIMASA is the Nigerian government agency responsible for maritime safety administration, maritime labour regulation, marine pollution prevention and control, search and rescue, cabotage enforcement, shipping development and ship registration, training and certification of seafarers, and maritime capacity development.
On 9 September, retired Group Captain Usman Jibrin, former military governor of the defunct North-Central State and later the old Kaduna State, died in his hometown Marmara in Nasarawa State.
His younger brother, Senator Walid Jibrin, told newsmen that the late Jibrin died in his sleep in the early hours of the day. Some family sources said he had been ill. He was aged 69 years.
Jibrin was born in 1942 in Nasarawa Local Government Area of Nasarawa State. He attended Abuja Middle School and Government College, Kaduna, and started his working life with the radio and television station in Kaduna.
In 1963, he joined the Nigerian Air Force. Rising to the rank of Group Captain in 1975, he was appointed military governor of the then North-Central State by the then Head of State, General Murtala Ramat Mohammed. After Kaduna State (then comprising the present Kaduna and Katsina states) was carved out of the North-Central State in February 1976, he was appointed its first military governor and continued in that office under General Olusegun Obasanjo, who became Head of State following the assassination of Mohamed. He retired from the military in 1978, amidst policy disagreements with Obasanjo.
Jibrin settled into retirement as a private businessman, but was also appointed to several boards, by successive federal governments. In the early 1980s, he was appointed a state Chairman of the Green Revolution Programme under the Shehu Shagari administration. He was later appointed to the chairmanships of the Nigerian Productivity Research Institute, Ilorin, Kwara State; Jos Steel Rolling Mill, Plateau State; and Nigerian Agricultural and Cooperative Bank. He was a member of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF), under the Gen Sani Abacha administration, and also served as a member of the Steering Committee of the Ahmadu Bello Foundation. In 2010, he was Chairman of Nasarawa Community Bank.
In his later years, Jibrin devoted himself mostly to Islamic activities. He was treasurer to the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (the umbrella Muslim organization in the country) and also a member of the board of directors of Jaiz International Bank, an Islamic financial institution.
News of his death drew tributes from several quarters. In Kaduna, a Government House statement said the State Governor, Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa, received the news of Jibrin’s death with great shock. Yakowa described Jibrin as “a responsible elder statesman, who contributed immensely towards the development of Kaduna State in particular, the North and Nigeria in general,” adding that “his demise was a great loss to the north and the nation’’.
The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), a pan-northern Nigerian political organization, said it was saddened by the news of Jibrin’s death. A statement by the ACF’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr Anthony Sani, observed that in his public life, Jibrin “demonstrated easy grace, public intelligence and patriotic courage in his unwavering pursuit of peaceful coexistence and prosperity of Nigerians and the North in particular”. It concluded that: “The best way to remember Group Captain Jibrin, therefore, is to live up what he stood for: common good”.
Jibrin’s remains were buried later in the day, at the cemetery in Marmara. He is survived by four wives, 22 children and several grandchildren.
On 6 September, hundreds of youths identifying themselves as former Niger Delta militants, blocked the East-West Road which runs from Rivers State to Delta State, protesting their alleged exclusion from the Federal Government’s post-amnesty programme.
The ex-militants, under the aegis of Niger Delta Development Ex-militants Third Phase, led by Julius Joseph and Tam Odogwu, converged from Akwa Ibom Bayelsa, Delta, Rivers, and Ondo States.
They said they had recently written to President Goodluck Jonathan, alleging that the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs and Coordinator of the post-amnesty programme, Mr Kingsley Kuku, was trying to exclude some of them from the programme, even after they had surrendered their arms and obtained certificates of disarmament. In the said letter, they had warned of “dire consequences”, if the amnesty office persisted in its policy of excluding them.
Their action in blocking the road, they said, was to warn the Federal Government, of their capacity to disrupt the economy of the region, if there was no positive response from the government at the expiration of their one-week ultimatum.
The action of the youths seriously disrupted the flow of traffic on the busy road, with queues of vehicles stretching many kilometres in either direction. Many innocent travellers whose journeys and businesses were marred by the unexpected road blockage denounced the action of the youths, wondering why they must ruin other people’s business in the pursuit of their own interests.
The situation soon attracted the intervention of military and police units. However, the military and police officers, led by Col M. Lasisi, Commander Sector 2 of the Joint Task Force (JTF) and Mr M.I Buruche, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) in charge of the Area command, Ahoada, opted to persuade the youths to clear the road, rather than dispersing them forcefully. After several hours, the road was eventually cleared without any casualties.
The action of the youths is seen as an indication of the threat continually posed to peace in the Niger Delta by the large army of youth who were, or claim to have been, ex-militants in the region.
Dabwak village attack
The first attack occurred at about 7 pm at Dabwak village in Farin Lamba area, near Kuru, where the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies is located.
The villagers said the attackers were dressed in military uniform. The assailants attacked their victims with guns and machetes.
Those killed were an elderly couple, Papa Chukwak (74), Mama Nvou Chukwak (70) and their two grandchildren: Philip (11) and Titus (8). All were shot and killed in their home. The only survivor from the house, who is the mother of the two children, is lying in a critical condition at the Christian Hospital in Vom. About nine other residents of the village were also injured in the attack.
The second attack at Targom-Babale occurred at about 9 pm on the same Sunday night. Sources said the attackers came in two or three Opel Vectra cars, parked by the roadside, walked into the village and set houses on fire, before shooting or hacking down anyone in sight. The men were also said to have worn military uniforms, complete with boots. Seven residents (five males including a four-year-old boy and two women) were killed, three others injured and four houses burnt down.
The chairman of Jos North Local Government Area, Mr Timothy Buba, condemned the attack as “barbaric”. He said accounts by the villagers suggested the connivance, if not involvement, of some military personnel in the attack. He demanded the withdrawal of the soldiers deployed in the area under the Special Task Force on security in Plateau State.
Rising toll, mounting tensions
The killings in the two attacks brought the total number of deaths recorded on Sunday alone to at least 19 – a family of eight had been killed shortly after midnight at Heipang District of Barkin Ladi Local Government Area.
The attacks and killings in the villages, along with other violence in the state capital, Jos, which claimed an estimated 40 lives last week, are raising tensions across the area. There are fears that these tensions could lead to further deterioration of the security situation across a large part of the state.
However, the sense of urgency towards stopping the killings and defusing the tensions is apparently not shared by the House of Assembly (state legislature). Its members, sworn into office at the beginning of June – and paid handsomely since then – are currently on recess, and intend to remain so till next month. The Chairman of the House Committee on Information, Hon. Diket Plang, told reporters that lawmakers would call off their recess “when necessary”.
Meanwhile, community and civil society leaders in the region now see the present situation as a clear of failure by the Nigerian state, in its fundamental responsibility to protect citizens.
On 4 September, gunmen suspected to be armed robbers shot and killed two students of American University of Nigeria (AUN) in Yola, capital of Adamawa State. Both were 300 level students.
The President of the university, Dr. Margee Ensign, identified the students as Mr. Levi Nyat Yusuf and Mr. Abaagu Charles.
One of the students, Levi Nyat, is a son of Lt. Gen. Luka Yusuf, who served as Chief of Army Staff from May 2007 to September 2008, but died on 2 June 2009.
A statement issued by the Deputy Director of Communications of AUN, Mr Innocent Nwobodo, said the students were attacked and killed by the robbers, at a suya spot (barbecue vendor’s stand) near the Jimeta Main Market in Yola, about 14 kilometers away from the main campus of the university.
The statement said the details of the incident which led to the sudden death of the two students were still scanty, but that the victims were reported to have gone from the campus to the town to buy suya, when the robbers attacked them. The students were apparently killed in the scuffle between them and the attackers, who snatched their car and fled. The statement said the Adamawa Police Command was investigating the tragic incident.
AUN, founded in 2005, is the first American university to be established in sub-Saharan Africa, modeled after similar institutions in Beirut and Paris. Its population includes approximately 1,400 undergraduate students and 87 faculty members. It has a student exchange program with American University in Washington.
The 55-year-old musician was on his way to lead his band at a performance for the Esama of Benin, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion, who was celebrating his 77th birthday anniversary, when he was abducted by unknown gunmen.
The ceremony at Chief Igbinedion’s residence was already underway when news of his abduction filtered into the crowd of dignitaries. According to his son, Desmond: “I was on stage at the chief’s birthday ceremony…expecting my father to take over from me, when I learnt that he had been kidnapped”.
Bayo Ade’s younger brother and manager, Peter Etchie (Jnr), said the musician was kidnapped by six armed men at James Watt junction, close to his house on Lagos Street. He said the kidnappers shot him in the leg.
The gunmen soon used the abducted musician’s phone to contact Peter and demanded a ransom of N10 million. Peter pleaded that the family did not have that kind of money but could raise N500,000. Later in the night, the kidnappers called again, asking them to bring the N500,000 to a spot on Textile Mill road. Peter told newsmen that the kidnappers subsequently directed them to Federal Road by Okhoro junction, close to the cemetery. Shortly after they got there, the kidnappers started shooting into the night, then ordered them to drop the money, go away and call in 10 minutes.
“I called after 10 minutes and they said I should call again”, said Peter. “Later, they switched off their phone. They called again and told us to go to Ewah Road, by Ikpoba Slope and that we should hurry, that my brother had been shot”.
“I went there, opened the vehicle and didn’t see my brother. I opened the boot and discovered that my brother was very cold. He was dead.”
The remains of the murdered musician were deposited at the mortuary of the Central Hospital in Benin City.
This is the second tragic case of kidnapping in the Edo Sate capital in eight days. On Sunday, 28 August, kidnappers seized Elder Tes Sorae, Chief Executive of Tomline Industries Nigeria Limited, as he arrived home from a church service. They later demanded 100 million ransom, but it is not known whether any of that was paid to them. Although they freed him unharmed on 2 September, they had, in the process of abducting him, shot and killed his wife (Deaconess Bridget Sorae), his two orderlies and driver, while wounding his daughter critically.
Local sources said the heavily armed attackers invaded Tatu village at midnight, and struck at the residence of Mr. Chollom Nangup Gyang. They killed him, his wife and six children, including a four-month-old baby.
There is no certainty as to who carried out the attack. However, the Chairman of Barkin Ladi Local Government Area, Mr. Emmanuel Loman, who visited the village hours after the attack, said he suspected Muslim Fulani herdsmen from a neighbouring village. He said: “We are suspecting the Fulanis in this attack because this is their route. And, apart from that, the Fulanis that live in nearby Mahanger village are heavily armed”.
Loman lamented that “This kind of attack, aimed at an entire family, is the second in less than a month in my local government. What is going on is beyond words”.
The Plateau State Commissioner for Information, Mr Yiljap Abraham, expressed the state government’s regrets over the incident and called on the people to be more vigilant to avoid a recurrence. Sadly admitting that government security agencies could not offer full protection to citizens, the Commissioner told newsmen that: “Government is calling on community and religious leaders and politicians to enlighten their people to help themselves. Arrangements should be made to protect the people; let people take measures to safeguard lives and property in every community”.
The Commissioner, however, urged ethnic, community and religious leaders to intensify efforts towards resolving differences through dialogue rather than violence.
The military Special Task Force (STF) maintaining security in Plateau was nowhere around the village that was attacked. Explaining the absence, the spokesman of the Force, army Captain Charles Ekeocha, said the STF withdrew its men after communities in the area had accused soldiers of complicity in attacks and specifically demanded their withdrawal.
Security in the area is now left to the police and the Plateau-owned security outfit, Operation Rainbow. With the Nigerian state failing in its responsibility to protect, communities in the area will have to do more for themselves.
On 2 September, Elder Tes Sorae, Chief Executive of Tomline Industries Nigeria Limited, who was abducted in a bloody encounter last Sunday was freed unhurt in Benin City, after spending five nights in the custody of his captors.
His son, Noguese, who confirmed the release of his father to newsmen said he regained his freedom in the early hours of Friday. The Police Public Relations Officer in Edo State, ASP Peter Ogboi, also confirmed Elder Sorae’s release, saying efforts were still being intensified to apprehend the kidnappers.
Sorae, who is also a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo State, was attacked and kidnapped on 28 August, on arriving home from a church service. His wife (Deaconess Bridget Sorae), two orderlies and a driver were killed during the attack, while his daughter was shot and wounded critically. Three days later, on 31 August, the kidnappers contacted his family and demanded the sum of N100million as ransom. It is not known whether any amount was paid to the kidnappers before they released him.
Receiving the Edo Deputy Governor, Dr Pius Odubu, who came to console him over the killing of his wife, orderlies and driver, Sorae thanked God for saving his life. He appealed to governments at all levels to create jobs for the nation’s youths in order to reduce the level of crime in the country. Showing great spirit in spite of his harrowing experience, he indicated that he would personally be setting up a job creation foundation for the youth.
Sorae said: “We should do everything possible to create job opportunities to our graduates. The only way we can stop this crime problem, kidnapping, is to give jobs to youths. When that is done, 90 per cent of our problem is solved. In my own capacity, I will make sacrifice by setting up a job creation foundation, because when only one man is rich and others around him are hungry, there will be no peace in the society”.