Category Archives: VIOLENT CONFLICT

Ajayi Crowther University shut, following violent students’ protest

On 6 February, the authorities of Ajayi Crowther University, a private institution owned by the Anglican Communion in Oyo town, Oyo State, ordered the immediate closure of the school after its students had gone on rampage. The students were protesting the death of a colleague who passed away at the institution’s health centre.

According to local sources, Elvis Abu Paul, aged 22, a 300-level Computer Science student, was rushed to the health centre on Sunday 5 February, after he had suddenly taken ill. The doctors on duty immediately placed him on oxygen. The accounts said Elvis allegedly died after men of the Works Department mistakenly switched off the generating set which was powering the oxygen machine at the health centre.

Another source further claimed that attempts to rush Elvis to the general hospital in town were frustrated by security men at the main gate, on the contention that the university’s ambulance that was taking him out had no exit pass.

The university management was yet to issue an official report on the circumstances in which the student died.

However, alleging that Elvis’ death was caused by the “carelessness and negligence” of the institution’s management, hundreds of students trooped out on a street protest. Chanting war songs, they barricaded the entrance to the institution and set up bonfires on the Oyo-Ogbomoso highway.

The students then destroyed the university’s health centre, pulled down part of the perimeter fence by the main gate and burnt down the Accounting and Economics Department, including research materials, books and vehicles belonging to some lecturers.

Alarmed at the destruction, the university management hurriedly ordered an immediate and indefinite closure. The Public Relations Officer (PRO), Mrs Wale Ademowo, said students had been directed to leave the campus for their homes. Armed policemen from the Oyo Division were drafted to Oyo town to prevent further breakdown of law and order, while students evacuated the campus.

Sources said this breach of peace and order on the campus is unprecedented in the seven years since the university was established.

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Cults clash at Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Abeokuta: 6 feared killed

On 1 February, six people believed to be students, were feared killed in clashes between rival cult groups at the Moshood Abiola Polytechnic (MAPOLY), Abeokuta, Ogun State.

The fighting groups, identified as the Eiye Confraternity and the Buccaneers, have had a long history of rivalry and violence in the city.

It is not known what sparked the latest waste of youthful lives, but local sources say hell was let loose after the Eiye Confraternity had allegedly killed a member of the Buccaneers on Tuesday 31 January.

Seeking to avenge the killing of their member, the Buccaneers stormed the Onikolobo area of the city, where many student-members of the Eiye Confraternity live off campus, and engaged them in a deadly fight. Guns and other dangerous weapons were freely used. After several hours, five people reportedly lay dead.

The Public Relations Officer of the Ogun State Police Command, Mr Olumuyiwa Adejobi, confirmed the clashes to newsmen, but said he was aware of only one death.

He said: “We heard the deceased was either a Yahoo guy (Internet scammer) or a cult member. What is certain is that the two groups are devilish”. He said the police had swung into action, stopped the fighting and restored normalcy.

The area remains tense. Many residents of Onikolobo, Adigbe, Oloke, Oluwo, Ibara, Panseke and other communities around the school, fear there could be more reprisal attacks. Many students have fled the campus – and even the town. A fleeing student asked: “What kind of bloody education is this?”

Fulani herdsmen hack two farmers to death in Delta State

On 30 January, at least two persons were killed in a bloody fight between Fulani herdsmen and members of Ohoro community in Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State. The two victims were said to have died of machete wounds.

There were reports that two other members of the community were shot dead by soldiers deployed in the area to restore peace; but the Media Coordinator of the military Joint Task Force (JTF) in the Niger Delta, Lt Col Timothy Antigha said: “There was no such thing”.

Local sources said trouble started when the herdsmen’s cows strayed into farmlands belonging to the community, and damaged crops. Angered by the trespass and damage, the farmers confronted the nomads. One source said the nomads suddenly attacked two of the farmers with daggers, killing them on the spot.

As news of the incident spread, youths in the community mobilized and went after the killers, in a bid to avenge the killing of their kinsmen; but they were unable to find the fleeing nomads. The youth then turned their anger against all Hausa-Fulani in the community, and sent many of them fleeing the area.

The near breakdown of law and order caused a major traffic gridlock along the Delta-Bayelsa stretch of the East-West Road. Reports of the incident also raised tensions as far as the state capital, Asaba, and other towns with Fulani residents.

This incident, coming at a time when many southerners are already fleeing deadly attacks by Islamist militants in the predominantly Hausa-Fulani far north of the country, could aggravate ethnic and religious relations in the Niger Delta.

However, the JTF said it had taken measures to restore peace in the Ohoro community and other towns in the area. Col Antigha said: “JTF is at the scene. Efforts are being made to calm down nerves with a view to commencing investigations”.

Mosque and school attacked in Benin, Edo State: 5 feared dead, thousands displaced

Map of Nigeria showing Edo State

On 10 January, a mosque and an Islamic school were attacked and set ablaze in Benin City, capital of Edo State, with five persons feared dead.

The razing of the mosque and school follows attacks on two mosques in the city the previous day, the first at the Hausa Quarters along Sakponba Road and the second – targeting the Benin Central Mosque – on Kings Square (Ring Road). A Red Cross official said 10 people were wounded during those attacks, but other sources reported up to 40. Police had to fire tear-gas to disperse the attackers, whom it described as “miscreants” not genuine protesters.

On the more recent burning of the mosque and school, Police sources had initially reported that one person was killed and 10 persons arrested.  But the Secretary General of the Nigerian Red Cross in Edo state, Mr Dan Enowoghomwenwa, later said five people, comprising both the attackers and their targets, had been killed. Said Enowoghomwenwa: “We have recorded so far five deaths — on both sides, those that have been attacked and the attackers”.

Nigerian Red Cross officials said predominantly Muslim northerners were being registered at police stations and at the army barracks, to which they had fled. A leader of the Hausa community in the city told the BBC’s Hausa Service that 7,000 northerners were seeking refuge in the police and army barracks, but Enowoghomwenwa said the number of internally displaced persons in various places was over 10,000.

One source reported that the police and the Edo State government are faced with what appears to be a growing IDP crisis, and may be making plans to assist the Northerners return to their states of origin until the security situation returns to normal.

There are widespread concerns that the mosque attacks and IDP crisis, coming after repeated attacks on Christians in some northeby the militant Islamist group widely known as Boko Haram in some northern states, could further aggravate sectarian tensions in the country.

KINGSLEY KUKU IS SAFER AFRICA MAN OF THE YEAR (NIGERIA) 2011

Hon KINGSLEY KUKU Presidential Adviser and Chairman, Amnesty Office

The year 2011 was a security nightmare for most Nigerians. In various parts of the country, terrorists, armed robbers and kidnappers kept citizens under siege. Yet, while the risks of conflict and criminally grew in many parts of the country, the Niger Delta, once notorious for battles, bullets and blood, grew remarkably calm.

The relative peace in the delta was, partly but undoubtedly, the result of the sustained and diligent implementation of the Federal Government’s Amnesty Programme for former militant youths in the region. For very ably steering that programme – refocusing the youth on constructive life, improving human safety in the region and boosting the economic fortunes of the nation – Hon KINGSLEY KEMEBRADIGHA KUKU, Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs and Chairman of the Presidential Amnesty Office, is SAFER AFRICA MAN OF THE YEAR (NIGERIA) 2011.

President Yar'Adua signing Amnesty Proclamation

The Niger Delta Amnesty Programme began as an off-shoot package of the presidential pardon granted to Niger Delta militants through a proclamation by then President Umaru Yar’Adua on 25 June 2009. The programme offered transformation training and skills acquisition opportunities for any militants who laid down their arms.

The Presidential Amnesty Office chaired by the Special Adviser to the President on the Niger Delta was mandated to administer the disarmament, demobilization, rehabilitation and reintegration of the ex-militants, as a pre-condition for medium and long term development in the Niger Delta.  Specifically, the Office was to groom the 26,365 ex-militants who accepted the offer of amnesty in 2009, to become key players in the emerging economies of the Niger Delta.

Kuku (left) receiving Handing Over Notes from Timi Alaibe

Kuku was appointed Special Adviser to the President and Chairman of the Amnesty Office on Niger Delta in January 2011 and formally took over from his predecessor, Chief Timi Alaibe, on 3 February 2011. As they say, he hit the ground running, completing the disarmament and demobilization processes, and forging ahead with the task of reintegration.

DISARMAMENT

On 25 May 2011, Kuku and his team achieved closure in the disarmament phase of the Programme. In collaboration with the 82 Division of the Nigerian Army in Enugu, the Amnesty Office publicly destroyed the arms and ammunition that were submitted to the Federal Government by the ex-militants in 2009. The weapons destruction exercise which took place in Lokpanta, a boundary town between Enugu and Abia States, was carried out in conformity with the extant DDR codes as spelt out by the United Nations.

DEMOBILIZATION

The next major challenge Kuku and his team had to tackle involved the demobilization and re-orientation of the ex-militants, away from violence and crime, towards constructive and productive life, and in line with the second core objective of the Amnesty programme.

Former militants who enrolled in the programme were taken through non-violence transformational training at the Amnesty Demobilization Camp in Obubra, Cross River State. The curriculum at the camp, delivered by experts from Nigeria, South Africa and the United States of America, was designed to “extinguish the belief of the ex-agitators in violence and provide them a more powerful alternative: non-violence”.

On 24 September 2011, the final batch of 616 out of the 20,192 ex-combatants that enrolled in the first phase of the Amnesty Programme left the camp. With the successful completion of that demobilization process, Kuku and his team wrote Nigeria into history as one of the few countries of the world that achieved successful closure to the Disarmament and Demobilization phases of its DDR programme, following the cessation of armed conflict.

REINTEGRATION

The next challenge has been that of reintegrating the ex-militants into peaceful, productive society. Kuku once observed that: “The phase of reintegration, for me, is more difficult than the disarmament phase”. After taking the ex-militants through their non-violence training and career classification at the camp in Obubra, the Amnesty chief and his team painstakingly placed them in study and training institutions in Nigeria and abroad.

To ensure that they would be of good conduct throughout their training, Kuku, on 11 March 2011, introduced a Code of Conduct which every trainee was required to sign.  By this Code, the trainees committed to abide by the laws of their host country and to avoid any form of disorderly conduct before, during and after the training programme. The penalty for violating the Code was expulsion from the Amnesty Programme. The trainees’ subscription to this Code has gone a long way in ensuring their good conduct, particularly in training centres and institutions abroad.

A group of trainee pilots in South Africa

By the end of September 2011, the Amnesty Office had successfully placed a total of 5,349 former combatants in skills acquisition/training centres as well as in formal educational institutions, both in the country and offshore. The courses for which they were enrolled included pipeline welding, underwater welding, ocean diving, crane operation, oil drilling, automobile technology, fish farming and entrepreneurship, as well as formal academic courses leading to the award of degrees in various disciplines.

As at the end of September, a total of 3,482 beneficiaries had been enrolled in 77 training centres in the country. The offshore placement quota, as at that date, was as follows: South Africa: 933; Malaysia: 172; Russia: 64; Benin Republic: 42; Israel:  22; Sri Lanka:  34; United States:  56; India: 65 Poland:  21; and Philippines:  129. However, on 20 November, another 247 trainees were sent off to Malaysia and South Africa for six months vocational courses.

Furthermore, on the persuasion of the Amnesty Office, key operators in the nation’s oil and gas industry (OGI) set up a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to help with the reintegration of 3,000 of the ex-combatants. As at the end of September 2011, members of OGI, using the modules and templates developed by the Amnesty Office, were sponsoring about 1,000 trainees in skills acquisition centres across the country.

IMPACT OF THE AMNESTY PROGRAMME IN 2011

Throughout 2011, the Amnesty Office under Kuku’s leadership made considerable progress in reintegrating the ex-militants. It refocused many of them towards becoming key players in the emerging economies of the Niger Delta. Equipped with new skills and knowledge, a growing number of these youths have now been empowered to work not only in the oil and gas sector, but also in the many new construction sites, town development projects, railway projects, agriculture and pipeline protection projects that are expectedly underway in the Niger Delta.

However, the impact of Kuku’s work has gone well beyond the primary mandate of his office, which was to refocus the ex-militants and reintegrate them with normal society.

Perhaps the most critical indicator of its impact beyond that mandate is the improvement in public safety and security which it has brought to the Niger Delta. Prior to the programme, kidnapping and hostage taking targeting both expatriate and local workers, as well as sabotage and outright damage of oil and gas infrastructure, were rampant across the region. The sustained implementation of the Amnesty programme and the non-violence transformation of many former members of cults and gangs has had a calming effect on the region. The improved climate of public safety and security contributed significantly to curbing electoral violence in the region, in the run-up to the April 2011 polls.

Peace in the Niger Delta is also creating an environment for revival of economic activities, return of foreign investment and improvement of economic security. By 2009, the conflict in the region had greatly eroded the confidence of both foreign and even local investors. But with the effective end of armed conflict and the progress in peacebuilding, that confidence has been greatly restored, and is now attracting new investment, particularly to the upstream sector of the nation’s oil industry.

Peace in the region has also enabled an increase in the production of crude oil and boosted the revenue accruing to the nation’s Federation Account. In 2008, it was estimated that Nigeria lost over 3 trillion naira due to militancy in the Niger Delta. By mid-2009, the conflict in the region had virtually crippled oil production, cutting output down to only 700,000 barrels per day. Today, following the improved security situation in the region, production has bounced back to about 2.6 million barrels per day. This amounts to an estimated N6 trillion more revenue in 2011 than what the country would have earned if production had continued at the 2009 level.

Furthermore, the improved security situation in the region has also created an enabling environment for the implementation of several infrastructure development projects, planned by the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and various state governments across the region.

On 24 September 2011, as the 17th batch of ex-militants graduated from the Obubra camp, President Goodluck Jonathan observed that the amnesty programme had succeeded far beyond expectations. Again in his New Year message to the nation on 31 December 2011, the President counted progress on the Amnesty programme as one of the positive developments recorded in the country during the year. Jonathan said: “We have, with the astute and diligent implementation of the amnesty programme, fully restored peace in the Niger Delta and boosted the production and export of crude oil which had plunged to record lows in the dark days of militant agitation in the region”.

KUKU’S STRATEGY

The success recorded by the Amnesty Office in 2011 owes largely to a number of personal attributes which Kuku brought to the job.

First, he is a true believer in the cause of the Niger Delta, having paid his dues at various points in the region’s struggle for a better deal in the Nigerian nation. He therefore came to the office with a clear understanding of the tasks and challenges at hand.

John Idumange, a Certified Business Analyst, and Fellow of the Institute of Public Management in Nigeria observes that: “He (Kuku) has been involved in the Niger Delta struggle and that has given him first class knowledge of the needs of youths in the region. Thus, in managing the process, he gets the youths emotionally involved to appreciate the essence of the programme and what they stand to gain when they painstakingly undergo the required training and acquire the requisite skills”.

Secondly, the Amnesty Chief is a good manager of men and other resources. “My verdict as a stakeholder and a social critic”, says Idumange, “is that the Amnesty Chief is generously endowed with a team-building spirit, the right organizational skills, the passion and, above all, the right strategy”. Idumange further notes that, in terms of timely decision making, Kuku is “not only alert, but consults widely before taking actions”.

Thirdly, those who have worked with Kuku, say he is a tireless workaholic who pays good attention to every aspect of the programme. Kuku is keenly involved in networking with training institutes across the world to identify those with appropriate and credible training programmes; and he keeps a close eye on everything from the processing of trainees to their studies and welfare. As the need arises, he visits them at various training centres, tracking their progress and ensuring that they remain focused on their goals.

Fourthly, Kuku’s success also owes to what a former colleague describes as the “high sense of discipline” and zero tolerance of shoddy work, which he brought to the office. Several incidents have repeatedly underscored these attributes. In seeking to maintain a high level of discipline in the programme, Kuku has had no reservations in showing the red card to any trainee who violates the Code of Conduct or abuses the opportunities offered by the amnesty programme.

For instance, in February 2011, when some of the 212 trainees initially sent to the National Vocational Training Institute (NVTI) in Ghana heckled a hotel attendant and held their coordinator hostage in Takoradi, Kuku immediately deported five of them. Other trainees who misbehaved, in such countries as Sri Lanka and Russia, have also been recalled, instantly.

In April 2011, when six of the 38 trainees he took to train as marine mechanics in Florida, USA, got there to say they didn’t want to be mechanics but Marine Captains, “a field that does not exist” as he said, Kuku lost no time in shepparding  them home.

He said: “We brought them back, passed them through Immigration. I told the security agencies: Pick up their passports from them, because I don’t want them to find their way back to the US with the visas. We wrote to the American Ambassador: 38 visas issued but six returned with me on issues of the course they will like to go through, which is not existent in Wyotech Technical Institute, Florida. We are back. Here are the passports, you may cancel their visas”.

Some of those who have worked with him over the years say Kuku has a no-nonsense approach to the job. In May, Mr Ekpein Appah, a senior staff of the Amnesty Camp in Obubra, granted an unauthorised newspaper interview accusing the Bayelsa State Governor, Timipre Sylva, of harbouring the fugitive militant leader, John Togo, in his Government House. “That allegation”, Kuku told The News magazine, was “a very terrible statement…the most severe embarrassment the amnesty programme has faced ever since we commenced”. He lost no time in sending Appah on indefinite suspension, for “fundamental breach of the rules of his engagement”.

Later in the year, when it was established that a South African company, Westgate Unique Alliance Limited, which had been contracted to facilitate the professional training of 87 trainees in crane operation and pipeline welding, had failed to abide by its contractual obligations, Kuku sought and obtained President Jonathan’s approval to terminate its contract on 25 November 2011. He warned that he would not hesitate to take similar action against any other training provider whose services fell short of the Amnesty Programme’s contractual expectations.

This firmness in dealing with issues has won Kuku the respect, not only of his staff, but also of all the stakeholders which the Amnesty Office collaborates with, in carrying out its mandate.

ENDURING CHALLENGES

In spite of his successes and achievements, Kuku’s office still faces several challenges in 2012.

Youths agitating for benefits of Amnesty Programme

First, groups of youths going by various names, are still popping up in the Niger Delta, seeking for inclusion in, or indeed claiming rights to the benefits of, the amnesty package. Explanations by the Amnesty Office, and even categorical statements by President Jonathan, that they cannot now be included in the programme as they did not come forward on or before the 4 October 2009 deadline, are still falling on deaf ears.

Clearly, these youths cannot now be admitted to the amnesty programme, but they also cannot be ignored. Federal, State and Local Governments, along with relevant ministries and other agencies of governments, need to work out modalities for training and empowering them within a framework of programmes for human capital development. 

There are also concerns about the fate of the programme’s beneficiaries on graduation from skills acquisition centres and other training institutions in Nigeria and abroad. As Kuku himself readily admits, “The success of the amnesty programme will be determined by our ability to provide gainful employment for trainees”. On 2 August, the Amnesty Office took a lead in this regard, partnering with Century Energy Services Limited (CESL), to provide placement for a first batch of 500 trainees either within the Century Group of Companies or in third party companies in the sector.

The Federal, State and Local governments as well as the major oil and gas companies in the Niger Delta must follow that lead and work out creative ways of employing the graduates or giving them robust starter packs to go into self employment. The Nigeria Local Content Office should also streamline policies on how to accommodate the youths, not only in the oil and gas industries, but also in such other areas as the marine, tourism and ICT industries.

Thirdly, going by the budget proposals which President Jonathan presented to the National Assembly in December 2011, the budget of the Amnesty Office is being slashed from N96 billion in 2011 to N76 billion in 2012. This colossal reduction, if approved by the federal law makers, could undercut the Amnesty Programme significantly and jeopardise the sustained achievement of its stated goals.

Other persisting challenges have to do with the slow paced processes which the Amnesty Office continually has to go through in sending trainees offshore, due to the complexities of immigration matters and fund transfers. Furthermore, the programme is still manoeuvring between the lack of specialised vocational training centres in-country and the limitations on resources for sending trainees abroad, especially with its budget severely slashed in 2012.

There are also lingering doubts about the sustainability of the programme and the durability of the relative peace currently prevailing in the Niger Delta.

Hon Dakuku Peterside, a Federal legislator from Rivers State and Chairman of the House Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream) says he doubts whether the “relative peace in the region” achieved by the amnesty programme is sustainable, considering that the more fundamental issues of resource control, infrastructure development and environmental restoration have not yet been addressed.

Dr Timiebi Korimapo-Agary, a retired federal permanent secretary and one-time media coordinator, Presidential Panel on Amnesty and Disarmament for Militants in the Niger Delta, says she is impressed that the amnesty programme has brought “peace in the Niger Delta” and that “income from oil and gas has gone up tremendously and the country is better for it”; but she also adds that “the downside is that not enough is being done to address those fundamental issues that raised activists that metamorphosed into militancy”. Many would agree with Hon Peterside and Dr Agary on the persistence of the “fundamental issues”; but they also agree that these issues are outside the mandate of the Amnesty Office and must fall into the courts of other stakeholders.

A COMMON VERDICT OF SUCCESS

Thus, the common verdict is that judged strictly by the provisions of its mandate, the amnesty programme, under Kuku’s leadership, had been one of the most successful conflict management and youth transformation programmes ever implemented in the history of Nigeria. Nwokedi Nworisara, a policy and media consultant based in Port Harcourt, observes that: “The success of the Kingsley Kuku-led Amnesty programme is just a pointer that this is actually the direction government should be going, if she is serious about ending youth unemployment and its inherent instability in the polity”.

The late Chief Obafemi Awolowo used to say that “The great man is not he who comes home to distribute bread, but the one who comes home to distribute hope”. Kuku, by his dedicated service to building peace in the once-violent Niger Delta, offers us the hope that someday peace and progress will be possible in all other troubled parts of the Nigerian nation.

Over 50 killed in communal violence in Ebonyi State

Map of Nigeria showing Ebonyi State

On 31 December, more than 50 people were killed in fighting between the neigbouring communities of Ezillo and Ezza in Ishielu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.

Among those killed were several children aged three to five years, old men and women, as well as the police Divisional Crime Officer (DCO) at the police station in Ezillo. The officer was reportedly on the way to his office when he was ambushed and shot dead.

Local sources said the clashes arose from a land dispute between the two communities, which started in 2008, but was believed to have been settled until the latest violence. Survivors in Ezillo community said around 5 am, an armed band from Ezza attacked them with gunfire. They said as residents fled, the attackers burnt their houses along with the Afor Ezillo market, petrol filling stations and other property.

Some residents claimed they heard the attackers saying they were retaliating an attack on them last year.

Some sources said the casualties could be higher than 50. The Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Dr Onyekachi Eni, said while a government delegation to the communities was shown 50 corpses, it was not yet possible to give an exact figure of casualties, as the villagers were still picking up dead bodies. Some of the wounded were rushed to the Federal Medical Centre in the state capital, Abakaliki, for treatment.

The Ebonyi State governor, Chief Martin Elechi, and the Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr Adeola Adeniji, visited the scene of the tragedy. Gov Elechi said: “It is unfortunate that these hoodlums want to return anarchy to the area in spite of the success of the government in bringing peace to the area since 2010. We will not fold our hands and allow the area to degenerate into chaos again, as government will do its best to ameliorate the victims’ sorrows”.

The Commissioner of Police, Mr Adeniji, said that no arrests had yet been made, but that “Mobile police have been sent there and the Inspector General has directed more to come”. He said police reinforcements were being expected from Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross River States, to jointly ensure that the situation is brought firmly under control.

In the meantime, the police chief advised motorists entering or leaving Abakaliki, to avoid the area in which the fight occurred, and use alternative routes.

NURTW factions clash in Ogun State: 20 feared killed

Map of Nigeria showing Ogun State

On 15 November, up to 20 persons were feared killed in an early morning clash between two rival factions of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in Sango-Ota, Ogun State.

Several members of the union, as well as other residents, also suffered serious injuries, as the fighters freely used dangerous weapons, including guns, machetes, iron rods, broken bottles and charms in the clash.

Local sources say the NURTW in Ogun State had been embroiled in protracted crisis, following its failure to conduct a fresh election, after the tenure of the immediate past executive, led by Chief Tajudeen Ibikunle (a.k.a Baruwa) had expired. The executive controls all motor parks and garages in the town, and its members make huge amounts from the commercial vehicles that use those facilities, without accounting to anyone.

Some members who felt aggrieved by the failure (or refusal) to hold fresh elections, had filed a suit in court demanding that elections be held, while others also filed a counter-suit challenging the conduct of any polls.

On Monday 14 November, Justice Peter Onamade of the State High Court in Abeokuta struck out the application that had challenged the conduct of the election and ruled that the union proceed with its polls. The local sources say fighting started later that night, when a faction of the union attempted to “forcefully overthrow” the Baruwa -led executive.

The violence prevented many workers in Sango-Ota and environs from going to work, as commercial vehicles stayed off the roads. Banks, shops and other businesses were also closed for most of the day. Thousands of travellers and commuters were stranded on the Lagos-Abeokuta expressway.

Fierce-looking policemen with Armoured Personnel Carriers were later deployed to restore order to the area. The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in Ogun State, Mr. Muyiwa Adejobi, told newsmen he did not yet have the exact number of casualties.

At least 2 killed, as armed group attacks village near Jos, Plateau State

On 9 August, at least two people were killed and four others seriously wounded when a band of men armed with guns and machetes attacked a predominantly Fulani settlement in Bisichi, Jos South Local Government Area of Plateau State.

According to local sources, the attackers shot in the air, as they stormed the village around 2.00am.

Chairman of Plateau State chapter of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, Alhaji Muhammad Nura, told reporters in Jos, that the attackers “used machetes on their victims”. He said “Two people were killed”, with “deep cuts of machetes all over their bodies”, while four others were seriously injured. He also said he suspected the invaders came from Shen and Du district of Jos South Local Government Area.

The exact number of casualties could not be established. A resident from the village, Sarah Pam, said she believed as many as seven people may have been killed. But Emmanuel Lomang, chairman of the local government council, said two people were killed, and police authorities said they were still investigating the incident.

An unknown number of cows belonging to Fulani herdsmen were stolen by the attackers. Nura said about 40 of the estimated 400 cows seized, were later found in nearby Shen village. He said members of his association, accompanied by troops from the Special Task Force on Jos crisis, were searching for the other stolen cows.

Some local sources said the attack seemed to have targeted some Muslim Fulani who returned to the largely Christian area only recently, after fleeing previous attacks. Pam said she feared reprisal attacks by the Fulani. However, Brig. Gen. Hassan Umaru, commander of the military special task force in the area, blamed the attack on cattle rustlers.

Five feared killed as Police, MASSOB group clash in Onitsha, Anambra State

On 3 August, five people were feared to have been killed in a gun fight between policemen and a renegade faction of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), in Onitsha, Anambra State.

According to local sources, trouble started when some youths, said to have been expelled from MASSOB, invaded the Ose Nku Ogbe-Ijaw area of the metropolis and started extorting money from traders.

The sources said MASSOB, an organization of Ibo youth that claims to be campaigning for a reincarnation of the failed Republic of Biafra (1967-1970), had raised money in the past by levying traders in some urban centres within the Ibo-speaking areas of the country. This time around, however, the traders had been alerted that this was a renegade group which no longer represented the Movement. The traders therefore refused to pay, but rather called in the police.

The gun fight started soon after the police arrived. It is not clear who fired first, but some traders said about four members of the extortion group and one policeman were gunned down in the exchange.

The accounts also say the ex-MASSOB members subsequently attacked policemen at Creek Road in the commercial city, allegedly disarming about four of them; but a joint military and police team soon arrived at the scene and overpowered the hoodlums. Residents say the security team arrested at least 50 members of the group.

The Public Relations Officer of the Anambra State Police Command, Mr Emeka Chukwuemeka, confirmed the incident to newsmen. He said one person was shot, but that no policeman was killed. He also refuted the report that the hoodlums had disarmed some policemen.

Cult violence at University of Ado Ekiti: Over 15 students wounded, 3 arrested

Students march against cultism at University of Ado Ekiti

On 5 July, at least 15 students were wounded amid clashes between rival cult groups at University of Ado Ekiti (UNAD), Ado Ekiti, in Ekiti State. Ten of the students were rescued after a night in a septic tank, into which they had fallen. Three students, arrested with guns, were detained by police.

The origin of the clash dates back to a long-running battle for supremacy in the university, between two of the most violent student fraternities, the Eiye Confraternity and the Black Axe. However, the most recent clash started at about 7.50 pm, after a student-member of one of the cults had shot a rival outside the campus.

As exchange of gunfire between the rival groups continued for about an hour, hundreds of students at the institution’s satellite and Osekita hostels, who were preparing for examinations the next day, ran for their dear lives. In the darkness, 10 of them – six females and four males – plunged into a septic tank still under construction at the Satellite Campus, and were trapped there until they were rescued early the next morning. Some of them had suffered fractures or dislocations on their legs, or other serious body injuries, and were taken to hospitals.

Reports say comrades of the student who had been shot in the night, stormed the campus the next morning, armed with dangerous weapons, shooting indiscriminately, apparently seeking targets for reprisal attacks. At the sight of the invaders, students who were already seated for their examinations reportedly fled in different directions.

After they had left, many panic-striken students fearing the clashes might continue, urged university authorities to postpone the examinations. Students’ Union President, Shittu Quadri Olalekan, told a “Congress” of students, who had converged at the Students Union building, that the examinations for the day had been postponed.

But the institution’s Registrar, Dr. Omojola Awosusi, insisted the examinations would hold as scheduled, as the university’s Vice Chancellor, Prof Dada Adelowo, had requested for police presence on the campus. Sources said armed policemen and other plain-clothes security operatives were seen patrolling the campus, to prevent further clashes.

Three cult members, arrested with arms and ammunition, were later paraded by the school authorities and the police. The Public Relations Officer of the Ekiti State Police Command, Mr Mohammed Jimoh, said the three students were “assisting the police in its investigations”.

The university, established in 1982 and now with a 13,000 student-population, has waged a long-drawn campaign against student cults. In one instance, in October 2005, the then Vice Chancellor, Professor Israel Orubuloye, disclosed that 120 students were expelled over a period of months, on account of their involvement in cult activities. In December 2009, university authorities successfully persuaded some students to publicly renounce cult membership.

But the problem persists: 15 months ago (March 2010), at least two students of the university – Akin Adebole and Ayodeji Olasope – were among six persons hacked to death in clashes between rival cult groups.

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