Tope Omogbolagun, Solomon Odeniyi and Maiharaji Altine
Survivors of Tuesday’s terrorists’ attack on Rafin Danya, Barayar Zaki, Rafin Gero and Kurfa villages in Zamfara State have recounted their ordeal.
The bandits, in their large numbers, were said to be fleeing from Zamfara State as a result of ongoing military operations, when they invaded the villages in the Anka and Bukkuyum local government areas of state.
According to survivors of the attacks, the terrorists killed over 200 villagers and set many houses ablaze, forcing scores of villagers, who managed to escape, to flee and remain missing.
A survivor, who gave his name as Mohammed Kurfa, said trouble started when vigilantes in the villages tried to confront the terrorists, who have been designated terrorists who were fleeing Zamfara State with cattle numbering not less than 3,000.
According to Kurfa, the vigilantes engaged the terrorists in a gun battle, leading to the invasion.
Another survivor and resident of Bukkuyum, Abubakar Ahmed, who spoke to said the attack, which started on Tuesday went on till Thursday.
Corroborating Ahmed, another survivor and resident of Anka Aliyu Anka, stated, “They killed people from 20 years and above.
“Some have been buried, some were burnt and we are still looking for bodies.”
But another survivor, Mallam Mohammed Sani, told that the terrorists were still around and refused to allow families of the affected people to bury their dead.
“We made several attempts to evacuate the dead bodies for burial but due to the presence of the bandits who have invaded the areas, we could not go,” Said Sani.
Sani lamented that there were no presence of security operatives in the affected villages, making the villagers to continue to flee their homes.
When contacted on Friday, the State Commissioner of Police Commissioner, Ayuba Elkana, told he was compiling the number of those who were killed during the attack.
Commenting on the inability of the villagers to evacuate and bury their dead, Elkana said it was dangerous to go to those areas due to heavy presence of the terrorists who he confirmed were in large numbers.
“Nobody will risk his life to go to those areas because the bandits are there in large numbers,” he said.
Also, the Commissioner for Information, Zamfara State, Ibrahim Dosara, told that government was awaiting more information about the incident, including the number of casualties.
He disclosed that a military aircraft had been deployed along with security forces as a manhunt for the attackers continued.
Dosara, however, blamed informants for the persistent attacks.
“One of the serious problems is that we have a lot of informants getting information to these people (the terrorists. The moment you strategise, the moment the enemies also strategise”
Terrorists have held Zamfara and other North-West states by the jugular, killing, maiming, kidnapping for ransom and rendering hundreds homeless in relentless attacks.
As part of measures to tackle the problem, Zamfara in September adopted some drastic measures, including the shutdown of telecommunication services, while military attacks were unleashed against the terrorists.
The Federal Government, in November last year, obtained a court order to declare bandits as terrorists so that full military might could be deployed against them.
With the designation of the bandits as terrorists, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), on Tuesday, said the Federal Government was ready to deploy Super Tucano fighter jets against bandits.
The military had been reluctant to deploy the aircraft outside the North-East because of the conditions attached to the sale of the aircraft by the United States, which was anchored on human rights.
But the AGF said on Tuesday that the coast had become clear to deploy the Super Tucano aircraft against bandits in the North-West and North-Central, following the court order declaring them as terrorists.
Meanwhile, Nigerians have called for improvement in security in the region.
On Umar Yahaya, said, “What we needed in Zamfara at the moment is coordination and sincere commitment from the side of the state government.
“The truth is that FG had deployed enough troops to tackle the situation, state government has a poor coordination mechanism, it’s not always about fuelling patrol vehicles.
“We need to improve on reporting and intelligence gathering. These terrorists are not ghosts, their movement, logistics and supplies can all be traced. Government should coordinate, support and protect vigilante services and local spy network. Traditional institution is a key stakeholder here.”
Similarly, Rasheedu Ibrahim wrote: “We actually need help; our people are suffering. Oh Lord, restore peace into my dear state (Zamfara State) and Nigeria in general.”
Meanwhile, the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, has vowed that the Nigerian Armed Forces would continue to get special appropriation under his watch, for the provision of necessary weapons to tackle insecurity.
He stated that this had started in 2021 and similar thing was done in this year’s budget, vowing that the trend would continue.
The Senate President said this was to encourage the military in view of the huge sacrifices they were making to protect the country’s territory and citizens.
Lawan spoke at the Jumat prayer held at the National Mosque in Abuja as part of events for the Armed Forces Remembrance Day.
He said, ‘’My message to the Armed Forces is that we are with you; we are going to support you all the way; when I say we, I speak as an administrator and as a Nigerian.
‘’We know the enormous sacrifice that the Armed Forces of Nigeria has been making to protect the territorial integrity of our nation, and also to fight against the various forms of insecurity across the country.
‘’As legislatures, we are for you, it is imperative that we should support the Armed Forces through appropriation and any legislative intervention that would enhance their performance.
‘’We would continue to support the Armed forces working with the executive arm of government. So far, we have done this in a very special way, we gave them special appropriation in the supplementary budget of last year and in the 2022 appropriation that the President signed last week. We are going to continue with that trend. ‘’
He urged Nigerians to pray for the military, adding that it was a duty they owed them for laying down their lives for the stability of the country.
Lawan said, ‘’Every single Nigerian must pray for the success of our Armed Forces. What they do is possibly the most patriotic job any Nigeria can do. When someone can sign off his life for the country, what else can we do for them? As they fight we must ensure we provide them with the kind of weapons they need and those who are not in position to provide anything should pray for them.’’
Meanwhile, the Senator Kabiru Marafa-led All Progressives Congress faction in Zamfara State has cautioned Governor Bello Matawalle’s faction of the party to stop associating Gen Aliyu Gusau (retd.) with terrorism.
The spokesman for the Marafa faction, Bello Bakyaauwa, described the allegation against Gusau as baseless, careless and irresponsible.
Bakyaauwa said, “We read with dismay the reckless and wild allegations made by one Yusuf Idris who presented himself as Zamfara State APC Publicity Secretary associating the state of insecurity with a ‘retired general’ who owns 70 per cent of the mining sites in the state.
“For the record, we the members of Senator Marafa-led APC faction seek to be counted out of this madness.
“Our faction, under the chairmanship of Sirajo Garba Maikatako, categorically condemns the allegation and considers it baseless, careless and irresponsible.
“This baseless allegation comes from Governor Bello Matawalle’s APC faction that depends on blackmail, propaganda and witch-hunt to survive.
“We are obliged by statements like this to call on the media to do well by indicating clearly the faction of APC from where they sourced the content of their publications.
“For the record, Zamfara State so far has three factions of APC, namely: former Governor Yari-led faction; Senator Marafa-led faction; and Governor Bello Matawalle-led faction, in the order of their formation since the lingering crisis that characterised the party from 2019 till date.”
Afenifere to FG: Ensure release of Igboho, Kanu forthwith
From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
The Pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, has called on the Federal Government to ensure the release of the Yoruba nation activist, Chief Sunday Adeyemo, also known as Sunday Igboho, and the leader of Independent People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, even if it is on political consideration.
The organisation noted that releasing Kanu on political consideration is not unprecedented because the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo between 1999 and 2007 did the same thing by releasing the leader of the Niger Delta Peoples Salvation Force, Mujahid Asari-Dokubo in such manner.
The request was contained in a communique issued at the end of the first annual general meeting of Afenifere held on Tuesday, at the country home of its Acting Leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, in Isanya Ogbo, Ogun State.
Afenifere also noted that restructuring of Nigeria into a true federalism is achievable before the 2023 general elections, if President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government would adopt the reports of the 2014 National Conference and the 2018 Mallam Nasir El-Rufai Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on True Federalism with desirable modifications where necessary.
The communique, which was made available to journalists by the National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Mr. Jare Ajayi, stated that the meeting deliberated extensively on various issues pertaining to the Nigeria nation, especially in the way they affect the Yorubas, adding that “The meeting reviewed the various challenges that Nigeria has been facing since independence. The meeting felt that while the country had never met the dream of its founding fathers, the situation had never been this bad socially, economically and politically. The situation is particularly worse on the security front as no part of the country is safe at any time of the day any more.
After extensive deliberations, Afenifere “considered Sunday Adeyemo Igboho as a Prisoner of Conscience. Afenifere called on all men and women of conscience, particularly the international community to which human rights and freedom are abiding faith, to prevail on the Governments of Nigeria and Benin Republic to release Sunday Igboho forthwith.
Not only that, the federal government should also pay Sunday Igboho the damages awarded to him by the court upon the savage attack on his person and property.
“The meeting also called on the federal government to release Nnamdi Kanu even if on political consideration as happened in the case of Asari Dokubo under the then President Olusegun Obasanjo.”
The communique further stated that “before and after independence, various efforts have been made to have a country, Nigeria, that everyone would be proud of. A country in which every one lives a happy life and there is life more abundant for all.
Afenifere however has no doubt whatsoever that the country can never get out of its present logjam, let alone, develop, unless there is restructuring.
“The meeting felt that one of the things that has been a great cog in the wheel of Nigeria’s progress today was the rubishing of true federalism, meaning that true federalism must be allowed to be effectively operational immediately. In other words, states and local government councils must be allowed to enjoy self governance as provided for them in the constitution.
“Afenifere is convinced that restructuring of the Nigerian State before the 2023 general elections is achievable. It is achievable through the adoption of the Reports of the 2014 National Conference and the 2018 Mallam El-Rufai Committee of the APC on True Federalism with desirable modifications where necessary.
“In recent times, we have consistently expressed concern on the situation of insecurity in Nigeria today. We have also always recommended what we consider as the ways out of the unprecedented security challenges facing us. In this respect, we strongly call on the present administration under President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure the introduction of State Police equipped with requisite means to enhance security in the states and that of the federation ultimately.
“The performance of Amotekun Security Network in the South West in conjunction with the Nigeria Police has shown clearly that all the criticisms against State Police are unfounded and self serving.”
The meeting was attended by some leaders and members of Afenifere from all the states in Yorubaland including Delta, Kwara and Kogi. Among the leaders in attendance were the former Governor of Kwara State, Chief Cornelius Adebayo; former deputy governor of Lagos State, Senator Kofo Bucknor-Akerele; Senator Femi Okunrounmu, Chief Supo Sonibare, Chief Sola Ebiseni, and the Secretary General, Dr. Gbola Adetunji.
The list also comprised Chief Korede Duyile, Abagun Kole Omololu, Hon. Leke Mabinuori, Chief Kofoworola Doherty, Dr. Ebun Sonaiya, Chief Tunde Onakoya, Senator Femi Lanlehin, Jumoke Ajasin-Anifowose, Chief Segun Olawoyin and Deacon Owolabi Oladejo, Chief Olu Pesu, Reverend Goke Omigbodun, and others.
Adevanjo, however, welcomed members and congratulated them for surviving the turbulent 2021.The meeting also looks forward to a more benign year in 2022.
2022 Beijing Olympics: Xi Jinping meets IOC President Thomas Bach
From Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
Chinese President Xi Jinping, yesterday, met with the President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach, at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, in a statement on its website, said, noting that today marks the Minor New Year’s Day in the Chinese lunar calendar and that the Chinese New Year officially starts in just a few days, President Xi welcomed President Bach to the celebration of the Spring Festival in China.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry further said President Xi pointed out that after more than six years of preparations and with everything falling into place, the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 will be held on schedule as promised.
“China will honor its commitment to present to the world a streamlined, safe and splendid Olympic Games. This is the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic that a comprehensive global sporting event is held as scheduled. It is a successful example of acting upon the new Olympic motto: ‘Faster, Higher, Stronger – Together,’” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.
Xi noted that in hosting the Olympic Winter Games, China has received support from not only the Chinese people, but also the international community.
“Nearly 3,000 athletes from about 90 countries and regions will attend this year’s games which includes more events and will produce more gold medals than any previous games, providing opportunities for more athletes to realize their dreams in Beijing. By putting the athletes front and center, China is making every effort to ensure sound hardware and software for the Games including venues, facilities and all-round services. President Xi expressed full confidence in keeping the participants, stakeholders and the Chinese people safe and healthy,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry also said.
President Xi stressed that he had identified, early in the bidding stage, the primary purpose of hosting the Games as engaging 300 million people in winter sport.
“Thanks to continuous efforts, this vision has become a reality. “Ice and snow are also as valuable as gold and silver.” The hosting of the games has also driven the growth of winter sport industries and the ice and snow economy in China. By hosting the Olympic Summer Games Beijing 2008, the Youth Olympic Games Nanjing 2014 and the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, China has awakened the passion for the Olympic Movement in the Chinese people, boosted the development of sports in China, and played an important role in promoting the Olympic spirit around the globe. The notion of “Together” championed by the Olympic Movement is needed more than ever. Instead of riding separately in some 190 small boats, countries around the world should stay together in one giant vessel and sail toward a brighter future. That is why we put forth “Together for a Shared Future” as the official motto for the Beijing 2022 Games. China will make new and bigger contributions to the Olympic Movement and the building of a community with a shared future for mankind,” the statement read.
“I look forward to witnessing the important moment of the Games’ opening with you, President Bach,” Xi said.
On his part, Bach wished the Chinese people a happy Spring Festival and best luck in the Year of the Tiger in Chinese.
Bach commended the joint efforts by relevant Chinese authorities and the Chinese people which ensured excellent and smooth preparations for the Games, saying that he was impressed by the outstanding venues, thorough COVID-19 countermeasures and advanced concept of sustainability.
He also applauded China’s efficiency, determination and dynamism. Bach thanked China for the hospitality and thoughtful arrangements accorded to the IOC and athletes from around the world.
Bach expressed full confidence that the strong measures taken by China will ensure the delivery of a safe, smooth and successful Games, a great event that athletes from around the world have all come to Beijing to enjoy.
“China’s objective to involve more than 300 million people in winter sport has been realized. This is an unprecedented, great achievement and will become an important legacy of Beijing 2022 for the Chinese people and for the Olympic Movement. It will also start a new era for global winter sport. Some countries are sending athletes to the Olympic Winter Games for the first time, which fully demonstrates the extensive support of the international community for the Beijing 2022 Games, in contrast to the overwhelming international opposition to the politicization of sports. President Bach expressed his wish that the Year of the Tiger would be a year of courage and strength and a year of health and happiness for the Chinese people. He said that the Beijing 2022 Games would be the world’s best New Year gift to the Chinese people, and wished for a world of greater unity,” the statement further read.
Tesla fights back against JPMorgan over Musk tweet
Tesla submitted a filing in Manhattan federal court on Monday; accusing JPMorgan of “bad faith and avarice” for demanding $162.2 million; after the bank had unilaterally changed the terms of warrants it received when the electric carmaker sold convertible bonds back in 2014.
Warrants allow holders to purchase company stock at a set “strike” price and date.
“JPMorgan pressed its exorbitant demand as an act of retaliation against Tesla both for it having passed over; JPMorgan in major business deals and out of senior JPMorgan executives’ animus toward Mr. Musk,” Tesla said, adding that; by changing the terms the banking multinational “dealt itself a pure windfall” after receiving a “multibillion-dollar payout” from Tesla’s soaring share price.
Tesla’s countersuit escalates the conflict between the US’ biggest investment bank and the world’s most valuable automaker; which have hardly done any business with each other since the disputed contract.
ALSO READ: Musk issues ‘final warning’ to JPMorgan
The legal battle began last November, when JPMorgan took Tesla to court for “flagrantly” violating a stock warrants contract.
The bank alleged that the car manufacturer sold warrants to JPMorgan in 2014; which were to be paid off if their strike price, or guaranteed fixed price, was below Tesla’s share price upon the warrants’ expiration in June and July 2021.
JPMorgan claimed that the tweet shared by Tesla’s eccentric CEO Elon Musk on August 7, 2018; made the automaker’s share price more volatile.
Musk tweeted that he might take Tesla private and had “funding secured,” but backtracked his comments 17 days later.
Tesla’s share price had risen nearly ten-fold by the warrants’ expiration date.
Musk’s tweets led to a civil lawsuit by the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
The litigation resulted in Musk giving up Tesla’s chairmanship, and he and the company each being fined $20 million.
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