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Gunmen kill Yomi Bamgbose, ACN leader and VIO Coordinator, in Abeokuta, Ogun State

On 28 August, suspected assassins killed Chief Yomi Bamgbose, a leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) party, in Abeokuta, Ogun State.

Bamgbose, 53, who was also Coordinator of Vehicle Inspection Officers (VIOs) in the South-West zone of the country, was murdered at the entrance to his residence, around 10.30pm.

Local sources said he was driving out of his house with a visitor, in his Peugeot 406 car, when about four gun-wielding men accosted him. Some sources said the killers seized him in his car, pulled him out and then shot him. Others said on sighting them, he instantly sensed danger, jumped off the car and fled, but that the men caught up with him, dragged him back to the gate of his house, and then shot him on the chest.  As his neighbours fled to safety, the killers reportedly waited to be sure he was dead, before they got into his car and drove off into the night.

His body was later deposited at the morgue of the state general hospital at Ijaiye.

A statement by the Commissioner for Information, Mr. Yusuph Olaniyonu, said the state government was liaising with the Commissioner of Police to track down the killers. The statement added that: “The state government wishes to assure all residents of the state, that it has put in place measures to ensure security of lives and properties, and law-abiding citizens have nothing to fear”. The Police Public Relations Officer, Mr Muyiwa Adejobi, said the state police Command had commenced investigations into the killing.

The late Bangbose held the traditional title of Lupona of Egbaland. He is survived by three widows – Funmilayo, Sekinat and Mopelola.

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Fire accident in Enugu: 6 feared dead, over 20 houses destroyed

Oil tanker fire (File photo).

On 28 July, about six people were feared dead, with scores of buildings and automobiles razed, after a fuel-laden tanker caught fire and exploded at a roundabout near the popular Ogbete Market in Enugu, capital of Enugu State. The Ogbete market is the largest market in the city.

Mr. Sikiru Raimi, Commandant, Enugu State Command of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), said the incident occurred when the tanker loaded with diesel lost control while negotiating the roundabout. Witnesses said the crash was followed by leakage of fuel from the tanker, operated by the Port Harcourt-based Shorelink Oil and Gas Services Company.

They said as the leaked fuel flowed into the barracks of the Enugu Central Police Station and some parts of the Ogbete market, the tanker driver raised alarm and ran to the police station to seek for help; one source said there was no immediate response, apparently as the police had no fire-prevention equipment. A short while later, the tanker exploded and went up in huge flames.

The Deputy Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr Steven Ekpei, confirmed three people dead. But local residents and witnesses said apart from the three charred bodies recovered initially, the toll may be up to six. Over 20 buildings, housing officers of the Nigeria Police Force and the Nigeria Prisons Service, were burnt. About 10 cars and several motorcycles were also in ruins. As the fire also destroyed poles and cables of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), the company’s Principal Manager, Public Affairs, Mr Eseme Udo, said some facilities, including the Enugu Prisons, may run without electricity for some time.

Witnesses say personnel from the Enugu Fire Service, and their colleagues from other agencies like the NSCDC and Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), rallied to save the market and the police station from ruin. But they said fire-fighting vehicles could not get to some of the burning buildings as structures constructed without approvals blocked access routes. Some fire-fighters, injured while battling the inferno, were later rushed to Parklane Hospital.

Addressing reporters shortly after inspecting the scene of the accident, the Deputy Governor, Mr Sunday Onyebuchi, said the state government would do everything possible to minimise the damage from such accidents in future. He said as a first step, Governor Sullivan Chime had ordered the demolition and clearance of all illegal structures in the city, within the next two weeks.

He praised the Fire Service and other emergency agencies for their quick response to the incident and pledged the state government’s assistance to alleviate the suffering of the victims.

Victory over lawlessness: Edo Dep Gov’s wife ordered to pay N12 million damages to Army officer

ADAMS OSHIOMHOLE Governor of Edo State

On 25 July, a Federal High Court in Benin City, ordered Mrs Endurance Odubu, wife Edo State Deputy Governor, Dr Pius Odubu, to pay N12 million as damages to an army officer, Captain Stephen Olorunduyilemi, who was brutally assaulted by her security personnel early in 2010.

The ruling followed a suit No. FHC/B/CS/226/2010, filed by the officer’s counsel, Clement Dike, stating as follows:

  • On 11 January 2010, Captain Stephen Olorunduyilemi of the 4th Brigade, Nigerian Army in Benin City, accompanied by his wife and children, was returning from a church service along Sapele Road, Benin City, when the lead vehicle of Mrs. Odubu’s motorcade sped past him.
  • The army officer said he veered off to the left lane to allow the motorcade pass but, to his surprise, one of Mrs Odubu’s six vehicles blocked his Honda Civic car. In an instant, heavily armed men jumped out of a vehicle, and forcibly dragged him out from his car. One of them attempted shooting him right before his family, but later relented, after he had let off two shots into the air.
  • Olorunduyilemi was wrestled to the ground, administered strokes from horse whips, then bundled to the deputy governor’s private residence in his blood-soaked clothes. On getting there, he was further assaulted while his plea that he was a serving army officer fell on deaf ears.
  • The incident would have turned uglier, but for the intervention of the Commander, 4th Brigade of the Nigerian Army.

In the suit, the officer asked the court to declare that his fundamental human rights as a free citizen of Nigeria were violated. He demanded N502 million as damages. He also demanded an unreserved apology, which he wanted published in five national dailies and three electronic channels.

Delivering judgment on the suit, Justice Adamu Hobon explained that sirens were meant to be used by fire fighters responding to emergencies, and to clear the road for top government officials. He said the wife of a deputy governor was not a top government functionary but a private person, and that she was therefore not entitled to the use of siren and heavy security guard (emphasis ours).

Hobon added that the fact that Mrs Odubu did not arraign the officer before any court since the incident occurred in January 2010, meant he did not commit any offence known to Nigerian laws.

Describing the action of Mrs Odubu’s guards as “unlawful, unconstitutional and barbaric”, Justice Hobon awarded the Army officer N10 million for general damages arising from infringement on his fundamental human rights and his illegal detention. The judge also awarded him N2 million as special damages for his medical bills and for the damage that was done to his car. He ordered Mrs Odubu to tender an apology to the officer in three electronic media and two national dailies.

Reacting to the judgement, the officer’s counsel, Dike, said the damages awarded were not enough. He said: “The judgment is not bad, except in the area of awarding damages. We are not satisfied with it. We will take our reply up at the appeal”.

However, some other lawyers and civil rights observers have hailed the judgement as a victory for the rule of law, over executive lawlessness and illegality.

Boko Haram splits?: Splinter group claims distinct identity, declares Ramadan ceasefire

On 20 July, a group identifying itself as Yusufiyya Islamic Movement (YIM) emerged from the ranks of the militant Islamist group, widely known as Boko Haram, which is currently locked in battle with Nigerian military and other security operatives in Maiduguri, capital of Borno State.

In an unsigned two-page leaflet distributed at various wards and in the Post Office area of Maiduguri, the group condemned all attacks on homes and places of worship, which it said were carried out by “people with evil motives” who had “infiltrated our genuine struggle”. It also declared a unilateral ceasefire during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which, for this year, is scheduled to start around 1 August.

In its leaflet, the group stated that: “The Yusufiyya Movement has come to mean different things to different people in the last few months. This confusion and misinterpretation have made it necessary for us to come out publicly with the clear truth with regards to our concept, struggle, aim and ultimate objective”. The statement said the clarification had also become necessary “in the light of genuine concern by individuals and groups to the mass suffering of innocent citizens caught in the crossfire between our members and the Nigerian troops”.

Providing the background to its emergence, the group said it was saddened by the July 2009 killing of its leader, Mohammed Yusuf, and the destruction and confiscation of members’ landed and moveable property in Maiduguri. It said it therefore resolved “to wage a struggle between justice and injustice, between truth and falsehood, right against wrong”.

The group said: “Ours is a clear fight for the blood of our founder, Mohammed Yusuf, and other leaders who were slain in cold blood by (former Borno State governor) Ali Modu Sheriff, the former Borno State Commissioner of Police and the late (President) Umaru Musa Yar’Adua”. It noted that “Yar’Adua has since been seized by Allah” in an answer to the sect’s prayer for divine support against his aggression.

The group further stated that in prosecuting its campaign, it had become concerned that “some people with evil motives have infiltrated our genuine struggle with a false Holy War that is outright un-Islamic”. It said it had therefore become necessary to “distance our group from all the bombings targeted at civilians and other establishments and equally condemn them and pray that Allah exposes those who perpetrated them and attributed them to us”.

The statement said the public needed to know that YIM is not an organisation of heartless terrorists, arsonists or robbers, which those other elements who had infiltrated the group with a diabolical agenda were portraying it to be.

Declaring the group’s confidence of victory in its struggle, the statement called on those it had referred to as “evil” infiltrators to desist from their indiscriminate acts of violence, “failing which we shall have no option than to expose and hunt them”.

The group finally said:  “We have resolved to temporarily halt our fight against the assassination of our leaders in compliance with the prohibition of fighting in the holy month of Ramadan”.

There are no indications as to the identities of those leading this group. Boko Haram had always been a shadowy organisation and the leaflet distinguishing YIM from the wider group was not signed by anyone. However, there had been some earlier indications of cracks within the group.

Significantly, on 14 June, the Deputy Governor of the Borno State, Alhaji Zanna Mustapha, had disclosed that Boko Haram had three factions, and that one of the factions had shown willingness to commence talks. It has not been ascertained whether YIM was one of the three factions the deputy governor was referring to, or whether this is an entirely new development.

There has also been no reaction from Boko Haram’s usual spokesman, Abu Zaid.

Boko Haram: Borno State government reports progress towards talks

On 14 June, the Borno State Government reported that it was making progress towards the proposed talks with the militant Islamist group, Boko Haram, as one faction of the sect had indicated interest in dialogue.

Speaking to journalists in Maiduguri, the Deputy Governor of the state, Alhaji Zanna Mustapha, said the state government was also putting everything in place to end the sect’s attacks on innocent citizens, citing its donation of 10 Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) to the police.

The deputy governor revealed that Boko Haram currently has three factions, and that this had made it difficult to know who is who among them. However, he said though only one of the factions had yet shown willingness to commence talks, the state government would still leave the door open for the others to join.

The Deputy Governor said the government’s offer of dialogue was borne out of its interest in restoring peace and harmony to the state and should not be misconstrued as a sign of weakness. For this reason, he said, the government will not accept some unreasonable conditions that were recently publicized by unidentified persons claiming to be Boko Haram.

He stated that in going into talks with Boko Haram, the government will be guided by the interests of the majority of the people of the state, and not by some difficult conditions dictated by the fundamentalists. Emphasizing that the dialogue will have to be on the government’s terms, not those of Boko Haram, he reassured the people of the state that the government will not do anything that will further jeopardise their security.

SSS arrests 20 suspected kidnappers, rescues 12 victims in Edo State

On 14 June, the Edo State Command of the State Security Service (SSS) reported that it had arrested 20 suspected kidnappers and rescued 12 victims, including the father-in-law of the state’s deputy governor, Chief Felix Okungbowa, who was kidnapped from his residence in the state capital, Benin City, on 7 June.

Briefing newsmen in Benin City, the state Director of the SSS, Mr Bello Tukur Bakori, explained that the arrests and rescues were recorded over the past 10 days. He said the Command had identified five syndicates engaged in ransom kidnapping in the state, and had already arrested the ring leaders of three of them.

Bakori said in the course of the arrests, the SSS also recovered substantial amounts of money and firearms. He said the money recovered totalled the sum of N3.8 million, while the firearms totalled 72 guns comprising 69 pump-action rifles, two double-barrel guns and one single-barrel gun.

The SSS chief said some of the suspects had already been charged to court. He urged the courts to expedite action on the cases, and to pronounce the maximum punishments possible on those found guilty.

The state governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who watched the SSS parade of the suspected kidnappers, commended security agencies in the state for their “huge haul of criminals”. He said: “Edo State government appreciates the risks involved in this feat”.

Doctors down tools to protest kidnap of Dr Okwudili Udemezue in Nnewi, Anambra State

On 8 June, medical doctors in both public and private hospitals downed tools and took to the streets to protest the kidnap of their colleague, Dr. Okwudili Udemezue, in Nnewi, the industrial nerve centre of Anambra State.

Dr. Udemezue, a lecturer in the Department of Anatomy at the College of Medicine, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, was abducted as he was driving home from work on the night of 5 June, by unknown gunmen believed to be kidnappers. As at 8 June, his abductors had made no contact with either his family or his colleagues at the university.

The protesting doctors numbering over 300, supported by some medical students of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, staged a peaceful protest in Awka, taking their case to the Government House, as well as the headquarters of the Police and the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), in Awka. Their protest paralyzed medical services in the entire area, with sick and wounded persons suffering great pains.

Speaking at both the Government House and the police headquarters, the Chairman of the Nnewi branch of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr. Achukwu Nwabueze, lamented that doctors had become targets of kidnappers. He said: “Our business is to save lives and we do not see any reason why we should be threatened”.

At the police headquarters, the Deputy Police Commissioner, Mr Austin Evbakhavbokun, commended the doctors for their mature conduct and assured them that the command had been on the matter and would rescue their colleague soon.

At the Government House, the Deputy Governor, Mr. Emeka Sibeudu, expressed dismay at the gradual return of kidnapping, which he said had declined considerably in the state earlier in the year. He also assured the doctors that the government was doing all it could to roll back the resurgence of kidnapping in the state.

Gov Okorocha cuts security vote to fund education in Imo State

Owelle ROCHAS OKOROCHA Governor of Imo State

On 5 June, the Governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, announced that he had cut his own security vote and those of some senior public officers in the state from N6.5 billion to N2.5 billion. He said the savings would be devoted to his administration’s free education programme.

The cut is a 62 per cent reduction in the amount that had hitherto been spent supposedly on the protection of public officers and maintenance of peace in the state. It is an act unprecedented among state governors in the country.

Speaking at a Thanksgiving Service held at Assumpta Catholic Cathedral, Owerri, and officiated by Archbishop Anthony Obinna, Okorocha said that those affected by the cut include himself, the Deputy Governor, Speaker of the State House of Assembly, the Deputy Speaker and Chief Judge of the State. He explained that the cut was necessary in order to actualise the free education programme of his administration. He also said he had consulted widely with the affected officials before taking the action.

Among those present at the Church service were Okorocha’s deputy, Chief Jude Agbaso, Chief Judge of the state, Justice Benjamin Njemanze, members of the House of Assembly, Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Anthony Anwukah and his aides.

Early reactions indicate that Governor Okorocha’s action has been widely welcome by people in Imo State. One observer said it is “a bold step towards restoring sanity and a sense of priority to the allocation and application of public resources” in the state.

Deputy Governor’s wife’s motorcade attacked, daughter shot, in Zamfara State

On 12 April, gunmen attacked the motorcade of the wife of Alhaji Mukhtar Ahmad Anka, Deputy Governor of Zamfara State, on Anka road in Zamfara State. Sources said the deputy governor’s wife escaped unhurt, but her daughter, Fatima, and her driver, Abubakar Yahaya, suffered gun shot wounds and were rushed to the Federal Medical Centre in Gusau, for treatment.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), citing an eyewitness from a nearby village, said the suspected robbers who wore masks and rode motorcycles, ambushed the motorcade and opened fire on the car, wounding the occupants.

It is yet to be ascertained whether the attack was merely a robbery attempt or whether it was a case of politically-inspired violence.

Gunmen attack ex-deputy governor Adegbenga Kaka, others in Ogun State

On 30 March, Alhaji Adegbenga Kaka, a former deputy governor and now Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) senatorial candidate for Ogun East, was attacked by hoodlums at his home in Ijebu-Igbo, Ogun State.

Sources said 12 gunmen, who were apparently ‘’sponsored political thugs’’, shot their way into Kaka’s home around 7:30 pm. They held his household captive and terrorised them for about 45 minutes. The senatorial candidate and about 60 of his supporters escaped death, but 15 of their vehicles and 17 motorcycles were damaged.

Asked if he suspected anyone, Kaka said: “It is not a matter of suspecting anybody; they were the Omo Ilu Boys. I know them. I even saw them; they were led by one known as Seun Eniba. Another one called Yellow Skin was also among them”.

He said: “It did not come as a surprise. Two days ago, when I got a hint that it might happen, I alerted the Police Commissioner and asked for four police men. He asked me to write to him and I did. He minuted on it to the Area Commander, but as we speak, nothing has come out of it”.

The Area Commander of Ijebu-Ode, Mr Bolaji Odesanya, however pledged to arrest the perpetrators and bring them to book.

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