Monthly Archives: November 2011

Plateau Violence: 163 suspects arrested by military Special Task Force

Stopping the killings: Soldiers in a community after violence

On 25 November, the military Special Task Force (STF) in Plateau State said it had arrested 163 persons in connection with the violence in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area during the week, in which over 20 people were killed.

Addressing newsmen, the STF spokesman, Captain Charles Ekeocha said of the 163 persons arrested by the task force, six had been handed over to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Police. The six persons are suspected to have killed a Police officer, Inspector Dalyop Pinda, along with his wife and daughter, during the clashes.

The Army spokesman said 10 main culprits were arrested with highly lethal weapons, while others were arrested with daggers, knives, cutlasses, swords, bows, arrows and spears.

He said weapons seized from the fighters include one telescopic barrel rifle, four single-barrel guns, two AK-47 rifles, nine locally-made guns, two magazines for AK-47 rifle, 52 pieces of 7.62mm special bullets, three 7.62mm NATO bullets and 46 pieces of cartridges. Other weapons recovered included 55 machetes, 61 arrows, three bows, six iron rods, 26 knives, seven diggers, 12 axes, 12 spears and 11 catapults.

Ekeocha said the 24-hour curfew imposed on the area in the aftermath of the fighting could be reviewed if the security situation improves, but could also be kept in place indefinitely.

20 buried in mass grave in Barkin Ladi, Plateau State

Map of Nigeria showing Plateau State

On 25 November, 20 people killed during violent clashes in Barkin Ladi, Plateau State, earlier in the week, were given mass burial.

The burial was supervised by a councillor in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area, Mr. Pam Choji Pam, whose four children were killed during the violence. Only stern-looking security personnel were seen around, as the area was under a 24-hour curfew ordered by the military Special Task Force (STF).

The state governor, Jonah David Jang, through his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Pam Ayuba, expressed sadness over the killings, especially after the state government and various other stakeholders had made sustained efforts to achieve lasting peace in the area. The Chairman of Barkin Ladi Local Government Area, Hon. Emmanuel Loman, similarly condemned the violence.

Loman said: “This issue is worrisome particularly in Barkin Ladi  LGA. Last week, we held a security meeting with the Police Commissioner, the Fulani elders, the Hausa representatives, the indigenes, the Yoruba and Igbo representatives from the LGA and we agreed that let bygones be bygones. We agreed that we were going to live together. I believe that some people are bent on creating havoc for others and I warn them to stop”.

IGP Ringim orders massive police deployment ahead of Christmas

Mr HAFIZ A. RINGIM Inspector General of Police

On 25 November, the Deputy Inspector-General of Police in charge of ‘F’ Department at the Nigeria Police headquarters, Mr Mohammed Yusuf, said Inspector-General Hafiz Ringim had ordered massive deployment of police personnel ahead of the Christmas and New Year season.

Addressing officers of the Rivers State Police Command in Port Harcourt, Yusuf said: “There is going to be massive deployment of police personnel across the country during the Yuletide. The Inspector-General of Police has so directed. All of us are going to be busy. There will be no Christmas, no holiday, for any policeman”.

Yusuf reiterated the appeal to all citizens to support the police in their efforts to fight crime by providing information that could lead to the arrest of suspected criminals.

He said: “The police are conscious of their responsibilities. We are ready to deal with crime in the country…Members of the public have a role to play in the fight against crime. Many of the criminals live among us. I assure you that any information given to us will be treated with complete confidentiality”.

Fresh violence in Plateau State: 20 killed, over 25 houses razed

Map of Nigeria showing Plateau State

On 24 November, at least 20 people were killed and several others severely injured in violence which occurred at Barkin Ladi, headquarters of Barkin Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau State. The military Special Task Force (STF) imposed 24-hour curfew in the area.

Among those killed was a police officer, identified as Dalyop Pinda. A serving Councillor in the Local Government Council, Mr. Pam Choji Pam, lost his four children who were attacked and killed in their house. Among the buildings destroyed were two churches and one Islamic school.

Briefing the press after assessing the damage, the Commissioner for Information and Communication, Mr Abraham Yiljap, said the cause of this new wave of violence had not been ascertained.

However, some local sources traced it to the killing of three Berom youths, who were returning from Barkin Ladi to their village of Rasat on Sunday 20 November, by assailants suspected to be Fulani herdsmen. In reprisal, the Berom reportedly went after Fulani herdsmen in the area, killing four of them. According to the sources, the conflict escalated on 24 November, after three Muslim youths had been killed and an Islamic school in the area set ablaze, apparently by Berom youths. Reacting to those killings, the Muslim Hausa/Fulani then mobilized and attacked the Berom natives and their churches. The fighters used guns, machetes, arrows and clubs, along with other deadly weapons.

Yiljap said government officials and security agents were still trying to compile data on casualties and damaged property, but that over 60 people had been arrested and were being interrogated.

He said the rapid deployment of security forces had stopped the crisis from spreading to other areas. The Chairman of Barkin Ladi Local Government Area, Emmanuel Loman, also said the deployment of security personnel had helped the situation, as the Hausa/Fulani had remobilized at Kura and Gashish villages, preparing to attack more Berom communities, before the security forces dislodged them.

Officials said members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC)  serving within the local government area had all been evacuated to safety at the NYSC Secretariat in Jos, the state capital.

10 feared killed as robbers raid banks in Sagamu, Ogun State

Map of Nigeria showing Ogun State

On 23 November, about 10 people were feared killed, as robbers raided three commercial banks in the Sabo/Akarigbo area of  Sagamu, Ogun State.

The robbers arrived the area in a white Toyota Hummer jeep at about 10.40 a.m. and hurled explosives at the security doors of the banks, before gaining entry to the banking halls.

Some sources claim that before they came on the raid, the robbers had sent notice to members of the town’s dreaded Vigilance Group to steer clear of the area during their raid. But the group apparently defied that notice and engaged the robbers. In the confrontation, the Commander of the vigilance group, Mr. Musibau Araokanmi, suffered serious injuries  and had to be rushed to the Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital (OOUTH) in Sagamu, for treatment.

Those killed included a member of the town’s vigilance group, two Okada (commercial motorcycle) operators, one woman, one Hausa man and others who could not be immediately identified.

Witnesses said the robbers must have made away with a large amount, in both local and foreign currencies, from the banks. However, the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Mr Muyiwa Adejobi, later reported that only two people were killed in the raid.

The attack came barely two weeks after three people, including two students, had been killed in a similar raid on banks, at the permanent site of the Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Ago Iwoye, also in Ogun State.

Boko Haram spokesman convicted, Senator Ndume remanded in custody

Senator Ndume and Konduga in the court

On 22 November, Ali Sada Umar Konduga, a spokesman of the militant Islamist group, Boko Haram, pleaded guilty to the charge preferred against him by the State Security Service (SSS) and was convicted by a Chief Magistrate Court in Abuja. The conviction is seen by many as a major feat, by the Federal Government and the nation’s security agencies, in the campaign against terror.

However, a serving senator, Mohammed Ali Ndume, who was also arraigned, pleaded not guilty of the charge and was remanded in SSS custody.  

Konduga and Ndume were docked before Chief Magistrate Oyebola Oyewumi, charged with felony, breach of official trust and criminal intimidation by anonymous communication, specifically by sending messages to some senior public officials including the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), contrary to Sections 79, 98 and 398 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC).

Senator Ndume, who was the first accused, pleaded not guilty to the charge. The magistrate ordered that he be remanded in custody and adjourned the case till 6 December when it is to come up for hearing.

Ndume’s counsel, C.I. Nnaemeka, tried to secure bail for him but failed, as the court insisted that a formal application be filed. Ndume pleaded with the court to grant him access to his lawyers as well as his medication, saying he suffers from prostate problems. Chief Magistrate Oyewumi granted his request.

The second accused person, Konduga, speaking through an interpreter, Mustapha Shehu Ismail, pleaded guilty to the one count charge. He admitted to the court that he had sent text messages to Niger State Governor Babangida Aliyu, Jigawa State Governor Sule Lamido, Senator Sanusi Dagash, Ambassador Seriki Tafida and the Chairman of the Borno State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, Justice Sabo Adamu.

He however pleaded with the court for leniency. The court deferred sentencing him until the allegations against Senator Ndume who pleaded not guilty, are determined.

It will be recalled that a day earlier (21 November), the SSS paraded Konduga, a former political thug and Boko Haram spokesman, before newsmen at its headquarters in Abuja. During that session, Konduga named Senator Ndume, former Borno State governor Ali Modu Sheriff and one-time Ambassador Saidu Pindar (who died in a car crash last August) among politicians sponsoring the militant sect’s activities.

Konduga is the first member of Boko Haram to be convicted in the courts, since the group started its attacks in 2009.

PROFILE: SENATOR MOHAMMED ALI NDUME

Senator MOHAMMED ALI NDUME

Mohammed Ali Ndume was born on 20 November 1959, in Gwoza Local Government Area of Borno State. His father, Alhaji Ali, was a Muslim, while his mother, Magdaliya, was a Christian.

He attended Gadamayo Primary School, Gwoza, and Comprehensive Secondary School, Mubi, before proceeding to Kaduna Polytechnic where he obtained the National Diploma (ND) in 1980 and the Higher National Diploma (HND) in Marketing in 1982. He then went on to the University of Toledo, Ohio, USA, where he gained a Masters Degree in Accounting and Computer Science in 1990.

Returning to Nigeria, he became a Senior Lecturer at the Ramat Polytechnic in Maiduguri, Borno State, and Managing Director of Water Ventures Nig. Ltd, also in Maiduguri, until 2003, when he turned to politics.

In April 2003, Ndume was elected to the House of Representatives (Lower Federal Parliament) to represent the Chibok/Damboa/Gwoza Federal Constituency of Borno State, on the platform of the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP).  In April 2007, he was re-elected and appointed Minority Leader in the House.

Ndume was seen as a passionately ANPP man, one of the pillars of the party in the state, and vigorously opposed to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). In an August 2010 interview, he said: “The PDP, in the last 11 years, has vandalized Nigeria; they have only introduced kidnapping, assassination, militancy, armed robbery, power degeneration and widespread religious crisis”. In a September interview, he again said: “The PDP government has been holding the Federal Government for 11 years now and they have done nothing, except cause chaos in Nigeria”. He praised the ANPP’s record in Borno State, especially for building roads and hospitals.

However, only three months later (in December 2010), Ndume decamped from the ANPP and crossed over to the PDP.  Explaining his action, he said he had not been given a level playing field in the competition with other ANPP aspirants in the contest for the Senatorial ticket. Apparently, he had fallen out with Governor Ali Modu Sheriff. His defection to the PDP was seen as a major blow to the ANPP.

Following Ndume’s defection, Alhaji Sanda Garba, who had been the only aspirant for the South Borno Senate seat in the PDP, stepped down to make way for him as the party’s candidate.

In the election, Ndume won 146,403 votes, beating the ANPP candidate, Dr Asaba Vilita Bashir, who scored 133,734 votes and Alhaji Unaru Ibrahim of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), who got only 20,414 votes.

Arriving at the Senate in June 2011, Ndume said his agenda would focus on ensuring the supply of portable drinking water in each local government of Borno South; providing health care, especially free eye surgery; and creating opportunities that would facilitate access to public, private or self employment for his constituents, especially the youth. He said he was also committed to promoting education and security, especially in Southern Borno.

On 2 August, the Federal Government appointed him a member of the seven-man Presidential Committee on Security Challenges in the North-East Zone of the Country, otherwise known as the Galtimari Committee. The committee studied the Boko Haram crisis and submitted its report to the government on 26 September.

Ndume is married to two women – Aishatu and Maryam – and has 10 children.

On 21 November 2011, Ali Sanda Umar Konduga, a former political thug and spokesman of the militant Islamist group Boko Haram, who had been arrested by the State Security Service (SSS), named Ndume among politicians whom, he alleged, had been sponsoring his group’s violent activities.

Boko Haram spokesman names top politicians sponsoring sect

On 21 November, Ali Sanda Umar Konduga, a former political thug and spokesman of the militant Islamist group Boko Haram, arrested recently by the State Security Service (SSS), named a serving Senator and a former governor among politicians in the north-east sponsoring his group’s terrorist activities.

Konduga, currently detained by the SSS, was paraded before newsmen in Abuja. He said he was named Usman Al-Zawahiri by his political sponsors, in order to portray him as an extremist and thus conceal his real identity from security agencies. (He was apparently named after Ayman al-Zawahiri, the well-known Islamic militant, who was elected to take over leadership of al Qaeda after the killing of Osama bin Laden last May).

The Deputy Director (Public Relations) of the SSS, Mrs Marilyn Ogar, told newsmen that Konduga was arrested on 3 November, during a joint security operation in Gwange area of Maiduguri, Borno State. She said Konduga had made several revealing confessions. Among other things, she said the suspect had confessed to the following:

  • He was a former political thug operating under a group widely known as ECOMOG.
  • He was recruited by a political party stalwart in Maiduguri, Borno State.
  • Following the compulsory registration of all SIMs nationwide, he was asked to steal a SIM which he used in sending threat text messages to several prominent persons.
  • The pseudonym, Usman Al-Zawahiri, was given to him by the said politician to portray him as an extremist as well as conceal his true identity.
  • One of his benefactors promised to pay him N10 million to work for his party, but by stint of fate, the sponsor died on his way to deliver the part payment of N5 million to him.
  • Consequent upon this, a serving member of the National Assembly took over the running of his activities. The Senator was behind the threat text messages he sent to the Justice of the Election Petition Tribunal in Maiduguri, with the objective of ensuring that the tribunal sacks the present government in Borno State.
  • He was also behind other threat messages sent to Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa State, Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger State, Ambassador Dalhatu Sarki Tafida, former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Justice Sabo Adamu, Chairman of the Election Petition Tribunal in Borno State.
  • Most of the threat messages he sent to Justice Adamu were scripted and relayed to him by the Federal legislator.
  • The same legislator promised to send him some telephone numbers of members of the Galtimari Committee on Security in the North-East, before he (Konduga) was apprehended.
  • The telephone number and content of the text messages sent to the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice were also given to him by the legislator to compel him (AGF) to influence the judgment of the tribunal against the government in Borno State.

Speaking with newsmen during the session, Konduga said he was once a student under the former Boko Haram leader, the late Mohammed Yusuf who was killed in controversial circumstances after the group’s bloody uprising in July 2009. He further disclosed that the sect now has three official spokespersons, namely Abu Kaka, Abu Darda and Abu Zaid. He said he was recently suspended by the group, on suspicion that he was passing information to security agencies. But Ogar said the security agencies never received any information from Konduga before his arrest.

Konduga further named Senator Ali Ndume, former Borno State Governor Ali Modu Sheriff and late Ambassador Saidu Pindar, as the financial backers of his group.

Ndume was once Minority Leader in the House of Representatives on the platform of the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP). He defected to the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) shortly before the April 2011 elections.

Sheriff was governor of Borno State from 2003 to 2011.

Pindar, from Biu in Borno State, was appointed Nigeria’s pioneer ambassador to Sao Tome and Principe in 2000. He retired from the Federal Civil Service after 32 years and was conferred with a national honour of Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) in 2004. He died in a motor accident on the Kaduna-Zaria road on 31 August this year.

The SSS spokesperson said analysis of communication on Konduga’s phone had confirmed constant communication between him and the Senator he named.

She said the arrest and investigations, thus far, “further confirms the Service’s position that some of the Boko Haram extremists have political patronage and sponsorship”. She reiterated the commitment of security agencies towards addressing the security threat posed by Boko Haram and other violent groups.

Robbers kill wife of Kwara governor’s Chief Security Officer

Map of Nigeria showing Kwara State

On 17 November, armed robbers shot and killed Hajia Aishat Mohammed, wife of the Chief Security Officer (CSO) of the Kwara State governor, Alhaji  Abdulfatah Ahmed.

Sources said Hajia Aishat was being driven from Lagos back to Ilorin in an SUV belonging to her husband, Mr Idris Mohammed, a Superintendent of Police. She was reportedly in the company of her mother and her two-month-old baby.

The sources said the driver ran into an ambush laid by armed robbers on the Ogbomosho-Ilorin road. The robbers fired several shots at the vehicle from both sides of the road. The driver was able to make a quick detour and sped away from the scene of the attack. Unfortunately, Hajia Aishat, who was asleep at the back-seat of the vehicle, had already been hit on the head during the attack.

The seriously wounded woman was rushed to a hospital where she was operated upon, but the frantic efforts to save her life ended up futile. She reportedly died at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital early the next morning and was buried in the afternoon.

Alex Ibru, publisher of The Guardian, is dead

Chief ALEX IBRU, the late Guardian publisher

On 20 November, Chief Alex Ibru, publisher of the prominent Lagos-based newspaper, The Guardian, died at the age of 66. An announcement by the newspaper’s management said he died at about 1.30 pm,  “in the course of an illness”.

Alexander Uruemu Ibru was born on 1 March 1945 and was the youngest of the famous Ibru brothers, renowned as astute entrepreneurs. He hailed from Agbara-Otor in Delta State.

He attended Yaba Methodist Primary School,  Lagos (1951-1957), Ibadan Grammar School (1958-1960), Igbobi College, Lagos (1960-1963) and the University of Trent (formerly Trent Polytechnic), where he studied Business Economics from 1967-1970.

In 1983, he met with three distinguished Nigerian journalists – Stanley Macebuh, Dele Cole and Segun Osoba – and they launched The Guardian newspapers, with him as chairman.

From 1993 to 1995, Ibru was Minister of Internal Affairs in the first cabinet of General Sani Abacha. However, soon after his departure from Abacha’s government, he was shot and seriously wounded by unidentified gunmen on 2 February 1996. Flown to England for treatment, many believe he never fully recovered from the injuries of that assassination attempt.

After Abacha’s death in 1998, the dictator’s Chief Security Officer, Major Hamza Al-Mustapha and others were charged with the 1996 assassination attempt. The case has dragged on in court for the past 12 years.

Ibru was the Chairman of Trinity Foundation, a massive philanthropic outfit through which he supported the poor and the needy. He was also the founder of the Ibru Centre which seeks to advance the frontiers of ecumenism and religious harmony.

He was a recipient of many honours, including a D. Litt honoris causa, conferred on him by the University of Port Harcourt, Port Harcourt.

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