by Chukwudi Akasike, Port Harcourt

 


NOBEL Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, on Thursday said recent developments in Nigeria portrayed it as a country at war.

Professor Wole Soyinka | credits: File copy

Soyinka also described the current killings in parts of the country as an ongoing war between the forces of good and evil.

Speaking at the presentation of Port Harcourt as the UNESCO World Book Capital for 2014, he said Nigerians would cease to be human beings if they yield to evil forces.

Soyinka, who condemned the murder of four students of the University of Port Harcourt and the Mubi killings, noted that the forces of evil were out to wipe out any trace of enlightenment and creativity in the country.

The Nobel Laureate urged literary minds in the country not to see themselves as authors, writers and readers, but as part of a creative army against the forces that had come to extinct creativity.

He said, “I believe quite frankly this country is at war; the war is between the forces of darkness and the forces of light, the forces of intellect, the forces of rationality and the forces of atavism, retrograde thinking, the forces of hatred against humanism.

“I believe that if we surrender to these banal forces in our society, we cease to be human beings because we succumb completely to fear and it is the same message we must take to those in this nation, who believe that books are wrong.

“I don’t care whether they call themselves the final defenders of the pure road and the ultimate salvation or call themselves Boko Haram.

“Boko Haram and all organisations, all movements that wage war against books, against literacy, against education and enlightenment in any form have declared war, not on the state, but on humanity itself and in spite of such setbacks, in spite of such horrors, we have the responsibility to support and to sustain efforts such as being made by the Rainbow Club and allied societies and organisations.”

He stated that the recognition of Port Harcourt as UNESCO’s World Book Capital was an indication that something was going right in the country.

Soyinka added, “One plea that I want to make to my fellow writers, authors everywhere is that we are not just engaged in the business of writing books; we are part of a large army of creative people.

Earlier, the Rivers State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, said his administration had been investing in the education of the people of the state.

Represented by the  Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, the governor explained that such investment was aimed at growing a literate citizenry that would be able to take the state to the next level of development.

 

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Onwuka Nzeshi

 


As the executive and legislature continue to trade words over the oil price benchmark, Senator Buka Abba- Ibrahim, at the weekend, said the 2013 budget may trigger a higher degree of insecurity in the North-east geo-political zone where Boko Haram’s insurgency has made life unbearable for residents for almost two years.

Ngozi Okonjo Iweala

Abba-Ibraim, who is also a former governor of Yobe State, alleged that while other geo-political zones have as much as N79 billion or N80 billion allocated to them in the 2013 budget recently presented to the National Assembly, by President Goodluck Jonathan the North-east geo-political zone had only N50 billion, a difference of about N30 billion.

He said the apparent lopsided allocation of resources was unfair, saying it amounts to injustice, warning that the country may face worse crisis than the one currently being formented by Boko Haram if the perceived injustice is not addressed.

“Look, injustice is the basis of all crisis in the world. All insecurity comes from injustice. If injustice continues, there will never be peace. Boko Haram is a product of poverty; it’s a product of unhappiness. We are unhappy with Nigeria, unless something is done to address it, Nigeria should expect bigger Boko Haram insurgency, Insha Allah,” he said.

Meanwhile, the member representing Eket/Esit-Eket/Ibeno/Onna federal constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon Bassey Dan-Abia, has charged Jonathan to ensure that a proper machinery was put in place for the implementation of the 2013 budget as soon as it is passed by the parliament.

Dan-Abia also charged the parliament to wake up in its responsibility of oversight and ensure that the budget implementation is not left to the whims and caprices of the Ministries Departments and Agencies ( MDAs).

“The President must prove his critics wrong by displaying an uncommon political will to implement whatever the parliament might pass as the national budget at the end of the day. This he should do in the interest of the common man,”he said.

 

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Posted by: Duku Joel

 


It was another bad day for Boko Haram – the fundamentalist sect responsible for the insurgency in some parts of the North – yesterday.

A member, who is believed to be the field commander of the sect’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, was shot dead in Damaturu, the Yobe State capital, in a gun duel.

Also killed were 30 other members. Ten others were arrested.

The JTF, which announced the killings, also said it recovered arms and ammunition from the sect’s hideout.

Also in Yobe, gunmen believed to be members of the sect, opened fire on residents of a village and killed two people. Many others were injured.

In Borno State, three Chinese construction workers were killed.

Killed in Damaturu was a man called Bakaka, who is believed to be the field command of the Boko Haram sect.

In a statement, JTF spokesman Lt. Eli Lazarus said Bakaka was killed alongside 30 sect members. Ten members were arrested after a search at a hideout in Khandahar in the state capital.

The statement said: “In the early hours of Sunday, 7th October 2012, men of JTF in Damaturu, Yobe State on cordon and search operation in suspected Boko Haram hideout at Kandahar and the cemetery areas of Damaturu, engaged in a gun battle with the suspected terrorists.

“About thirty (30) suspected Boko Haram Terrorists were killed in the battle which lasted several hours. In the battle, the notorious, one-eyed Bakaka, the field commander of Boko Haram in Damaturu and a close associate of Abubakar Shekau, was killed. Ten (10) others arrested during the battle are presently assisting investigators to track other senior members of the terrorist group.

“Six (6) rifles, ninety (90) rounds of ammunition, several handsets and sim packs were recovered. Other items recovered include; knives, bows and arrows, diggers, knives and two (2) keke napep tricycles. Also, three (3) cans of IEDs recovered were detonated.”

He said the success so far recorded in the operation shows the cooperation of the residents, adding: “JTF wishes to appreciate the support so far received from the peace-loving and law-abiding people of Yobe State, urging them to volunteer more information that will lead to arrest of other suspected terrorists. JTF further requests that people should remain calm and go about their lawful activities as efforts are geared towards ensuring the safety of lives and property.”

The statement also announced the appointment of Colonel I.S. Ali as the new Commander of the JTF in Yobe state.

Ali is to take over from Colonel Dahiru Abdulsalam who proceeds to Defence College for further military studies. Until his recent appointment, Colonel Ali was a Deputy Director at the Army Headquarters Department of Training and Operations (DATOPS).

Two people were killed when unknown gunmen opened fire on residents of a village in Yobe, Police Commissioner Patrick Egbuniwe said yesterday.

“So far we have confirmed two people killed on Saturday by these criminals who went about shooting indiscriminately in the village,” Patrick Egbuniwe told AFP.

The gunmen stormed Dogon Kuka village and opened fire on residents, he said.

“The JTF (Joint Task Force) has deployed there and we are awaiting comprehensive details of casualties,” Egbuniwe said.

He declined to say if the attackers were members of the Boko Haram.

The village, inhabited mainly by Muslims, is about 70km from Damaturu, the state capital.

Suspected Boko Haram men reportedly shot and killed three Chinese construction workers in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.

The incident occurred on Saturday afternoon in Gubio Local Government Area, about 89 kilometers from Maiduguri, Premium Times reported.

The Chinese are said to be working for a construction company, working on several projects in the state.

Reports indicate that the victims, who regularly visited local markets, were shot as they patronised a local market.

Kaduna State Police Command yesterday confirmed the killing of two people in Zaria by gunmen at a pub.

Kaduna police spokesman Aminu Lawal, told the News Agency of Nigeria in Zaria, Kaduna State, that the incident, in which one other person was injured, took place on Saturday night along King’s Road, Sabon-Gari area of the town.

Lawal said security operatives were on the trail of the gunmen, adding that there were clues that would assist the police in tracking down the killers.

While applauding the people for reporting the incident, he urged them to be more security conscious and to promptly report any suspicious characters in their midst.

An eyewitness told NAN that the gunmen came in a vehicle and opened fire on their victims at the pub.

“The incident led to the death of two people and another was rushed to the hospital for medical attention.

“The security agents were alerted and they responded promptly. The security personnel pursued the killers but I can’t say what happened next.”

 

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From Saxone Akhaine (Kaduna), Francis Obinor (Lagos), Njadvara Musa (Damaturu) and John Ogiji (Minna)

 


•  Security operatives uncover bomb, kill 30, arrest 11

•  Gunmen slay doctor, friend in Zaria

THOUGH communities and individuals are currently reeling from the pains and shock inflicted by Boko Haram in some parts of the country, the Federal Government has claimed that it is winning the fight against the terrorist group.

Vice President Mohammed Namadi Sambo stated the government’s position at the weekend as soldiers and policemen disclosed their uncovering of a bomb factory in Minna, Niger State.

This came as the Joint Task Force (JTF) in Yobe State yesterday killed about 30 suspected members and arrested 11 of the violent group, Boko Haram, including a close associate of the group’s leader during a gun-battle in northeastern Yobe State, an army spokesman said.

The Agence France Presse (AFP) yesterday quoted as saying: “About thirty (30) suspected Boko Haram terrorists were killed in the battle which lasted several hours. In the battle, the notorious, one-eyed Bakaka, the field commander of Boko Haram in Damaturu and a close associate of Abubakar Shekau was killed,” army spokesman, Eli Lazarus, said in a statement.

The state Commissioner of Police, Patrick Egbuniwe disclosed that the task force which comprises the police, military, the State

Security Service (SSS) and other para-military organisations in the state carried out the special operation at Kandahar, a suburb of Damaturu, the Yobe State capital at the weekend.

The raid led to the arrest of 11 and killing of four suspected Boko Haram gunmen, he said.

Sambo, who was among indigenes of Kaduna State who were honoured by the state government at the weekend, canvassed support for the fight against Boko Haram.

Sambo said: “Our effort is geared towards transforming the country positively to ensure that the lives of our citizens are not only secured but are adequately protected, including the property of our citizens.”  He noted that “no meaningful development can be achieved without peace.

“It is therefore safe to state that peace is a sine qua non for progress. Our effort at maintaining peace is yielding the desired result as government is tackling the menace in a multifaceted manner. The various security agencies’ efforts have also yielded positive results as they have drastically reduced the potency of the aggressors.

“We can achieve more successes only if we have the full support of all and sundry and I call on all citizens of the state and the country in general to partner and participate in fighting this menace”, the vice president added.

A combined police and military team yesterday uncovered a bomb-manufacturing factory in Maitunmbi, a suburb of Minna. The factory is suspected to belong to Boko Haram.

Acting on a tip-off by one of the five suspects arrested in respect of the killing of three policemen in two different operations in the town last week, the team stormed the bomb factory located behind a popular private school in the area.

The raid lasted for about two hours and was led by an assistant commissioner of police (name withheld) from the state headquarters of the Nigeria Police. They recovered from the building two 1.5gms gas cylinder cans already prepared for explosion.

Other lethal weapons found in the house included about 30 empty cans of disposable food beverage and soft drinks also filled with explosives, 25 kilograms of fertilizer, batteries, remote control devices and other electrical gadgets.

But no arrest was made at the time of the raid because nobody was found in the building.  It was learnt that the team   was very discreet in their operation as the majority of the residents in the neighbourhood were not aware of it while it lasted.

A senior member of the team that raided the bomb factory explained that the operation had to last for about two hours in order to avoid any casualty and to keep innocent members of the public from any possible attack.

‘’We took our time before we stormed the bomb factory. We did not want to cause any chaos in the area and in the town. We also want to avoid any loss of lives and this we were able to achieve. Though nobody was found in the house, we found about 30 empty cans of soft drinks stuffed with explosives, two gas cylinders, a 25kg bag of fertiliser, remote control devices, batteries and other electrical gadgets,’’ our source disclosed.

He further said that all the lethal weapons found in the factory were later taken to the police headquarters.

Efforts to get residents of the area to comment failed as all the people approached refused to speak on the issue.

When contacted, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Pius Edorbo, refused to give details on the raid, but said that investigation had begun and that the police would make their findings public.

Also, as the people of Kaduna State continued to contend against the spate of blasts in recent times, two unidentified gunmen at the weekend, stormed a club house in Zaria, killing a medical doctor and one other person.

According to an eyewitness, the gunmen entered the club house at about 8.00 p.m. on Saturday, along Enugu/Kings Road, Sabo Gari area of Zaria and shot the medical doctor whose name was given as Dr. Martins C. Agu and his friend.  He was said to be a worker at the railway staff hospital, Zaria.

Confirming the incident, the Kaduna State Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Malam Aminu Lawan said two men on a motorcycle opened fire on people relaxing by a beer parlour.

Besides, with the rising terrorism, Niger is seeking a joint military patrol along its border with Nigeria.

 

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by Olusola Fabiyi, Abuja

 


The Presidency has dismissed claims that President Goodluck Jonathan is afraid of Boko Haram.

Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe | credits: pointblanknews.com

Special Assistant to the President on Public Communication, Dr. Doyin Okupe, said this at a media briefing in Abuja on Tuesday.

He said it was wrong to assume that Jonathan refused to go to Eagles Square, Abuja, for the second year running to mark the country’s 52nd Independence on Monday because he feared he could be attacked by the Islamic sect.

Okupe said, “The President was not and is not afraid of the sect. To say he celebrated the anniversary in his bedroom because of Boko Haram sect is an insult.”

But when asked why the President increased the number of the Special Forces Battalion of the Brigade of Guards in the Presidential Villa, Okupe said it was because the Boko Haram issue was a very serious one.

He said, “We are dealing with a very serious sect, Boko Haram, and I am surprised that people are asking why the President is ensuring that his security is beefed up.

“Under this circumstance, the President is the commander-in-chief. When you go to war; the commander-in-chief is the one in charge.

“When you go to war, in those days the man that carries the flag, when he falls down, that is the end of the war.

“So, you have to make sure that he (the C-in-C) stands and stands erect. The fact that the security in the Villa is beefed up is borne out of necessity and circumstances.”

President presented regimental colour to the newly established 176 Special Forces battalion of the Brigade of Guards at the Presidential Villa on Monday.

The new battalion was said to have been established due to insecurity in the country.

Its establishment brought the number of battalions under the guard to three.

Our correspondent reports that a battalion is made up of between 700 and 1000 soldiers.

However, a typical battalion under the United Nations is usually made up of 776 soldiers.

Okupe chided the opposition political parties for their criticisms of the government.

He said the only thing  the opposition celebrates was “evil and disasters,” wondering why they refused to join hands with the Federal Government to fight corruption in the country.

He said the way the opposition was conducting its affairs, indicated that its members were not ready to assume power in 2015.

 

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