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Gov Sani Bello Attributes His Successes To The Counsels Of Estu Nupe


By Adekunle Best

Governor Sani Bello of Niger State

Niger State Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello has attributed the successes of his administration thus far to the wise counsels of the Niger State Council of Traditional Rulers led by His Royal Highness, the Etsu Nupe Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar.

The Governor stated this in a statement to mark the Etsu’s 14th year anniversary on the throne which also coincided with his 65th birthday.

The statement, signed by his Chief Press Secretary Malam Jibrin Baba Ndace, described the Emir as hardworking, God-fearing and a living symbol of integrity.

Governor Sani Bello noted that, within 14years on the throne, the Monarch has made giant strides particularly in the promotion of peace and security in his kingdom and the state as a whole.

He also lauded the Emir’s immense contribution in the promotion of education, especially that of the Girl-child, in his domain adding that the singular role of the traditional ruler has contributed to the development of the state.

The Governor commended the Emir for his honesty, simplicity and the ability to carry everybody along assuring that the state government will continue to work with traditional rulers for the overall development of the state.

“We felicitate with our Royal Father on his birthday as well as his 14th anniversary on the throne. We are particularly happy that, all these years, the Etsu has remained a rallying point for his subjects”.

Governor Sani Bello, who also praised the Etsu Nupe for his support to the administration, described the reign of the monarch as very eventful and beneficial to the people of the state.

He prayed Allah to grant the Emir the requisite wisdom and sound health to witness many more years on the throne to serve his Creator and humanity.

Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar was coronated in 2003 as the 13th Etsu Nupe.

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Herdsmen on rampage as Govts continue to delay


By Clifford Ndujihe, Dayo Johnson,  Ben Agande, Gbenga Olarinoye, Samuel Oyadongha, Chidi Nkwopara, Umar Yusuf, Peter Duru, Marie-Therese Nanlong, Emmanuel Una, Ikechukwu Uche,  Emem Idio & John Mkom …15 policemen escape death as herdsmen attack fale’s farm again in Ondo

Only a few states have anti-open grazing law in place with the rest including the Federal Government appearing to be clay-footed over the problem. The trend continued, yesterday, as no fewer than 15 mobile policemen escaped death, when herdsmen opened fire on them in Akure, the Ondo State capital.

BBC

gathered that the herdsmen numbering about 10 stormed the farm of former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Chief Olu Falae, located at Kajola, in Igbatoro area of the state and destroyed it. It was the fourth time, the elder statesman’s farm was being attacked by the cattle herders. Chief Falae invited the police only for the herdsmen to attack the policemen deployed to the farm by the state Police Commissioner, Hilda Harrison. Apart from the recurring invasion and destruction of his farm, the herdsmen recently kidnapped Falae after killing of one of his security men. Some of Chief Falae’s kidnappers, who were later arrested by detectives, are currently being prosecuted.

Sources told BBC that the herdsmen, last weekend, stormed the Afenifere chieftain’s farm and destroyed it. He reportedly informed police authorities in the state and mobile policemen were hurriedly deployed to the scene. On sighting the policemen, BBC gathered that the herdsmen opened fire on them. There were exchange of gun shot between the policemen and herdsmen, who insisted that their cows said to be over 300 would graze on the farm. ln the gun battle, some cows were killed, while the herdsmen fled into different directions. Confirming the development, Chief Falae told Vanguard: “I invited the police to my farm because the herdsmen have been coming to the farm everyday for several weeks and they are no longer hiding. They come into the farm around 5 am till 9am and destroy the farm. So, I went to the police for protection and some Policemen were sent to the farm, yesterday. “They got to the farm and met three separate herds feeding fat on my farm. When the police approached them, they fired at the police. The policemen went there to see if they could effect arrest for trespassing and destroying farm produce. So, if the herdsmen fired at the police what would they do to me?’’ The Police image-maker, Femi Joseph, confirmed the invasion of the former Finance Minister’s farm. Joseph claimed ignorance of any exchange of gunshots between the police and the herdsmen but said that they were chased away from the farm. While saying there was no arrest, the police spokesperson pointed out that the command has launched an investigation into the latest attack of Falae’s farm. Five of the herdsmen, who attacked Chief Olu Falae’s farm last year, are currently in prison. A signpost Chief Falae’s case signposts the rising wave of herdsmen attacks, clashes with farmers, kidnapping and other violent crimes across the country as most governments continue to delay action on the menace. Only a couple of states have enacted anti-open grazing and anti-kidnapping laws with the rest including the Federal Government paying lip service to the murderous and debilitating challenges. States that have enacted anti-open grazing laws are Ekiti, Benue and Taraba. While those with anti-kidnapping laws include Lagos, Cross River, Edo and Benue. With these laws in operation, only a couple of kidnappers and herdsmen have been arrested and prosecuted, leaving the rest on a free rampage. From Benue to Delta, Edo, Taraba and Enugu, no state appears to be free from the onslaught of the herdsmen, kidnappers, who now lay siege to homes and schools, and armed robbers who block highways and unleash mayhem on motorists and travelers. Vanguard gathered that South West governors will meet in Abeokuta, Ogun State, next month to articulate a response to herdsmen and other violent crimes in the region. It was also learned that the governors may adopt the Ekiti model to checkmate the activities of cattle herdsmen. Ekiti model Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State in 2016, made it criminal for herdsmen to move their herds from one place to another and restricted them from taking their cattle to people’s farms for grazing. His action followed the killing of some farmers in their farms by herdsmen. Edo In Edo State, the situation is not different, as herdsmen have laid siege to some parts of the state. Two weeks ago, some women were raped and killed in their farms in Esan part of the state. The killing prompted the House of Representatives to direct the Inspector General of Police to go after the herdsmen, arrest and prosecute them. So far, the state is yet to take a decisive measure on the issue. The state government is yet to have a law against open grazing. It promised to fence schools and set up a security committee to develop security network to provide adequate security in rural communities and effectively tackle herdsmen attacks on farmers in the state. Anambra example Although, there is no anti-open grazing law in Anambra, the government came up with a robust committee comprising of security agencies, traditional rulers, representatives of town unions, representatives of the herdsmen led by the Saraki Fulani himself and some Fulani who were born and brought up in Anambra that hammered out a solution. The solution: If cattle strayed into farmers straw land and destroyed the crops, they will be arrested and assessment would be made of the damage done and herdsmen are made to pay compensation. On the other hand, if any community kills a cow illegally or otherwise, they are also made to compensate the herdsmen. So far, the measure has worked in the state. Imo Imo is one of the states that has not mapped out measures to deal with the herdsmen issue even though the convoy of Governor Rochas Okorocha was, in May, 2016, blocked by cattle on Orlu road, while going for projects inspection. There have also been skirmishes between herdsmen and farmers with clashes reported from Irete in Owerri West local council area of the state and some communities in Ohaji/Egbema and Ngor Okpala local government areas. The reports largely centred on rape, destruction of farmlands, threat to life and property, as well as  physical assault. Indeed, on May 17, 2017, the Nguru, Umuowa, Umukabia Ngor, Ntu, Alulu, Oburu, Obokwe and Alatia communities in Ngor Okpala Local Government of Imo State, raised alarm over the activities of herdsmen, who they said invaded their farmlands, causing wanton destruction to both old and newly cultivated farm crops. According to them, the herdsmen have turned their farms into grazing land. The people alleged that the herdsmen who are armed with AK 47 assault rifles had equally built makeshift camps in their forests without their knowledge and consent, adding that those who tried to challenge them fell victims to the marauding herdsmen, a situation that is now causing tension in the communities. No arrest has been made so far. The state has been inundated by kidnapping and armed robbery. Several bank robberies were recorded in the state in recent time, though the police said they had been trying their best to rid the state of criminals. Enugu Instead of out right law, given the number of  lives the state has lost to herdsmen attacks, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu, elected to set up a peace committee  comprising of all stakeholders to handle the issue. The Zonal Chairman of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association in Enugu State, Gidado Siddiki; and representative from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Mohammed Ahmed, lauded the move. The Governor said that the peace committee was necessitated by the realization that both farmers and herdsmen are critical to any society’s growth. Delta In southern Nigeria, Delta State is arguably the most affected by the activities of herdsmen, who operate with impunity leaving deaths, sorrow and destruction of farm lands and crops on their trail. Herdsmen attacks, kidnapping and armed robbery have been the lot of the state. On two occasions, Governor Okowa had raised the alarm about the activities of herdsmen, which had claimed the lives of farmers and their families, calling the federal government to come to his rescue. In the last four weeks, several persons have been killed by bandits on the highways in the state, while several kidnap cases had also been recorded. There is no law in place against the menace. No one has been arrested. Currently, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa is combating the challenge through a forum of stakeholders. At the forum which had as its theme: “Fostering Peaceful Co-existence Between farmers, host communities and herdsmen in Delta State,” were representatives of traditional rulers’ councils, communities, farmers, local government council chairmen, Miyetti Allah, Miyetti Allah Kautu Hore, Cattle Dealers Association, Cattle Breeders Association, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Muslem Leaders, Civil Society Organisations, the Military, Police, Department of State Services (DSS) and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) as well as Nigeria Immigration Service. At the meeting, it was resolved that security agents should be proactive and arrest anybody caught with AK 47 rifle and prosecute such persons; and that security agencies should be more vigilant at the Ohoro-Bomadi road to ensure that farmers and villagers move about freely without being attacked by  herdsmen. Bayelsa In Bayelsa State, the state government’s land grazing policy has technically nipped in the bud any possible herdsmen aggression as attested by the relative peace between herdsmen and host communities. Besides, the aggressive sensitisation campaign and erection of “No Grazing” signposts at designated farm areas across the state warning the herdsmen against indiscriminate grazing of their cows in open fields by the Centre for Niger Delta Studies, in conjunction with Bayelsa State Conflict Management Alliance, has helped eliminate friction between herdsmen and local farmers. But the same cannot be said of other violent crimes like piracy in the troubled creeks of the state, unresolved murders and extra judicial killings and attacks on security operatives by hoodlums and cult related killings. Cross River In Cross Rivers State, violent crimes, especially kidnapping and cultism, have continued despite the Anti-Kidnapping Law that became operational in September, 2015. The law prescribes death penalty for convicted kidnappers in the state. The law also empowered the state to seize assets as well as freeze bank accounts belonging to convicted kidnappers and those who aid and abet kidnapping in the state. On Fulani herdsmen, the recent attack by Fulani herdsmen on the people of Obio Usiere in Eniong Abatim, Odukapni local government area of the state has not only caused fear among the inhabitants but has also put their lives on hold as they can no longer fish or farm. The attacks left no less than 10 people dead and rendered over 3,500 homeless. The state is yet to enact an anti-open grazing law. Rather, it has set  up herdsmen management committee to address the problem. Benue’s anti-grazing, kidnapping laws stem criminal activities In Benue State, the May 22, 2017 signing into law, the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law, 2017 and the Prohibition of Abduction, Hostage Taking, Kidnapping, Secret Cult, and Similar Activities Law, by Governor Samuel Ortom has, to a large extent, ensured stable peace and security in the state. Before both laws came into effect, the state experienced intermittent cases of violent crimes in selected communities. Though the present leadership of the police had recorded milestones in curbing such crimes, the new laws have largely brought down incidents of such crimes in the state. Osun Like other states across the country, Osun has had its share of violent crimes, even as government has continued to fashion out ways to keep the crime rate in the state very low. To ensure farmers and herdsmen co-exist harmoniously, a government committee headed by a former Assistant Chief of Staff to the governor, Mr. Oguntola Toogun, was instituted. The committee, which also has personnel of security agencies as members, has embarked on preventive measures. Regular meetings are held between herdsmen and farmers, where ways the two groups could co exist without rancor are highlighted, while their members are encouraged to embrace peace rather than resort to violence in case of breaches. The leadership of the DSS in the state, last year, brokered a meeting with the leadership of Myetti Allah and pan-Yoruba sociocultural group, Afenifere, as part of efforts to ensure peaceful coexistence. From findings, commercial transport groups are also engaged informally by security agencies to monitor vehicles bringing visitors to the state. Special anti-kidnapping unit of police and Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, primed to tackle violent crimes, in past months recorded huge successes, bursting crimes and rescuing kidnap victims, with close attention being paid to already identified flash points across the state. For a very long time, Osun State has not recorded cases of kidnapping. 21 Adamawa LGs under siege In Adamawa State, herdsmen/farmers’ attacks have been on the increase in the past three years and this has led to the death of hundreds of persons on the part of the farmers. The attacks have affected all the 21 local government areas of the state, especially those on the bank of River Benue. This is because local government areas close to the Benue River are very fertile for agriculture and the green nature of the area attracts herdsmen to them. However, the situation has improved, following measures put in place by Governor Muhammadu Jibrilla, who constituted a judicial panel to look into the immediate and remote causes of the clashes. The panel recommended, among others, the need for traditional rulers to take responsibility for what happens in their domains. The panel also directed law enforcement agents to apprehend herdsmen seen with arms and ammunition. According to the governor, these measures have helped to reduce herdsmen and farmers’ clashes in Adamawa. But armed robbery has been on the increase, especially on the highways, which the police are contending with on a daily basis. Vanguard gathered that kidnapping is a rare occurrence in Adamawa State. S-Kaduna held hostage In Kaduna State, there is an upsurge in violent crimes in some parts, especially in Southern Kaduna where herdsmen have held the local farming community hostage. In the last six months, more than 300 people have been killed by herdsmen, who target remote settlements that are beyond the immediate reach of security forces. Men, women and children have been slaughtered in their sleep by these marauding herdsmen. Apart from the activities of herdsmen, the Abuja-Kaduna expressway is particularly dangerous to commuters as kidnappers routinely put up road blocks and kidnap whoever catches their fancy for ransom. In response, the state government, in conjunction with the Nigerian Army, has set up a forward Operating base in Southern Kaduna. The army has also launched what it called Operation Harbin Kunama to flush out the herdsmen from their hideouts in the mountainous terrains in the area. To check the activities of kidnappers, the state government has concluded arrangement with security agencies to purchase a drone that would be used to track down kidnappers. On the Plateau In Plateau State, incidences of herdsmen attacks have subsided greatly, as no attacks have been recorded in more than two years. However, as the rains set in and farmers are ready to go to the farm, there have been sensitization on the need to sustain the peaceful coexistence existing between herders and farmers to avoid any confrontation that may lead to violence. Cases of kidnapping are alien to the state. Apart from the kidnap and subsequent release of Pa Michael Obi (Mikel Obi’s father) in 2012, there are no known cases of such crime in the state. Mr. Dan Manjang, the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to Governor Simon Lalong, said: “The state has largely been peaceful in the last two years, cases of herders-farmers’ clashes are almost non-existent, this is because a lot of work and efforts are targeted at ensuring that lasting peace returns to the state.’’ Taraba initiates anti-grazing bill In Taraba State, the people have witnessed violent crimes, ranging from herdsmen attacks, kidnapping armed robbery. Herdsmen/farmers clashes have been all round the three senatorial zones of the state, particularly in the southern and central zones. Recently, a check conducted by various Non Governmental Organizations, NGOs, which visited areas of the violent of herdsmen attacks, have shown that the attacks displaced an estimated number of about 43,000, while villages, properties and farms estimated at about N7 billion have been destroyed. Recently, in Usah, Bali and Takum local government areas of Taraba State, scores were reported killed, houses burnt and thousands of farmers displaced after herdsmen attacks. In response, Governor Darius Ishaku recently sponsored an executive bill to Taraba State House of Assembly, titled “Anti-Open Grazing And Ranching Establishment Bill 2017.” The bill, according members of the State House of Assembly, would help solve the incessant herdsmen/farmers’ clashes as well as check the activities of cattle rustlers in the state, when signed into law. The bill has already passed second reading and the lawmakers will conduct public hearings soon in the three senatorial zones of the state. The governor also of recent summoned an emergency security meeting of leaders of the Tiv, Jukun, Kuteb and Miyeti Allah in Jalingo to fashion out ways that can lead to permanent peace in the state.

Nigeria’s Arik Air and aviation industry in disarray


11 February 2017. By adekunle Best

The Nigerian government has announced a takeover of the country’s biggest airline – Arik Air – to prevent it going bust. But this is just the latest example of problems in Nigeria’s aviation industry, reports the BBC’s Martin Patience from Lagos.

The government agency (Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria) now responsible for supervising the airline said the decision was made to “instill sanity in the country’s aviation sector and to prevent a major catastrophe.”

Customer service at Arik Air is at times non-existent. When the airline cancels a flight, most of the time its ground staff flee rather than deal with the fallout from irate passengers.

As the company’s troubles mounted at the end of last year, 70% of its international flights were delayed.

The firm’s staff bear the brunt for an airline that even by Nigerian standards is a byword for utter dysfunction. Last month the company was forced to issue a plea for passengers not to attack its employees.

How to survive the chaos

The government agency that pushed the airline into receivership reeled off an astonishing rap sheet of Arik’s alleged offences – enormous debt, bad governance, and “erratic operational challenges.”

As Nigeria’s biggest airline, the government decided that it could not allow the company to collapse.

A group of workers standing in a courtyard
Workers at Arik Air took strike action last December in a dispute over salary arrears

But to fly Arik often means never getting off the ground.

I was at Enugu airport when I was told my flight was cancelled. The man beside me at the check-in desk just shook his head – all his flights had been cancelled for the past two days.

To survive Nigerian air travel means coming up with new strategies.

First, find the most reliable airline and stick with it. And, if possible, take the first flight in the morning as it’s normally guaranteed to go on time (give or take an hour.)

Delays become compounded throughout the day as most airlines operate a shuttle service. So a good bet is that a mid-afternoon flight will probably turn into early evening flight. Passengers normally only miss their flight if it actually leaves on time.

Nobody wants to spend too much time at the airports here. Port Harcourt was named the world’s worst in 2015.Media captionNigerians have spent $6.5bn on private jets – the BBC visits one in Lagos

Generally speaking, though, I’ve always felt pretty safe on flights apart from after a rocky landing when several of the overhead luggage bins burst open.

To be fair to the airlines, Nigeria is not the easiest place to operate. International carriers face huge issues repatriating their profits as they can’t get their hands on dollars because of Nigeria’s current economic crisis.

The dollar shortage has also led to aviation fuel shortages causing massive disruption in the past few months.

Capital’s airport to close

The latest major inconvenience facing the traveller to Nigeria is the closure of Abuja’s airport for six weeks starting from next month while major repairs are carried out on its runway. At least one airline has damaged its landing gear on the pot-holed tarmac.

With the capital’s only airport shut down, the government is going to reroute flights to an airport in the nearby city of Kaduna.

The small airport there currently handles just 300 passengers a day compared to the 5,000 who pass through Abuja’s terminal. Many predict chaos.

Travelling to the capital from Kaduna will also involve a two-hour journey along a road that has been hit by a spate of kidnappings. The government is promising to put on extra security.

Unsurprisingly, several international airlines have already announced they will not being flying into Kaduna, although direct flights to Lagos, Kano or Port Harcourt will continue.

There are, however, a few perks about air travel in Nigeria: Free snacks onboard; unbelievably cheap excess baggage and the fact that you can board with as much carry-on luggage as you can actually carry on.

Also, during a year’s travel in Nigeria, my bags have always arrived on time, which is more than I can say for British airports.

And despite the immense frustrations, I frequently strike up conversations with complete strangers.

Delayed Nigerians can make for great company while waiting at the airport.

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Worrisome, rising cases of street cultism


By Adekunle Best

Suspected members of Badoo cult group being arrested by security personnel in Ikorodu Lagos
Cultism in Nigeria has no doubt taken a new trend as it has relocated from tertiary institutions’ campuses where it hitherto holds sway to the streets in various communities across the country.

It is one word that has been entrenched in the psyche of people in this part of the world, especially because of the hazardous experiences people have had, either directly or indirectly as the cult groups unleash irreparable loss, anguish and pain on youths, families and the society at large.

Though, cult activities began from the nation’s first tertiary institution, precisely the then University College Ibadan (now University of Ibadan) in the 1950s with the formation of the Pyrates Confraternity, also known as the “Magnificent Seven” in 1952 by Wole Soyinka, alongside six others: Aig-Imoukhuede, Pius Oleghe, Ralph Opara, Nat Oyelola and Muyiwa Awe, wanted to separate themselves from stodgy establishment and its pretentious products in a new educational institution different from a culture of hypocritical and affluent middle class, different from alienated colonial aristocrats.

The 1990s witnessed a boom and a dangerous twist in the activities. Today, there is said to be over 50 cult groups in and outside the campuses. From that time to date, several groups like the Neo-Black Movement of Africa (NBM), also known as Black Axe, Aye or Axe men Confraternity, Air Lords aka Eiye Confraternity, Supreme Vikings Confraternity (SVC), Klansmen Konfraternity, Brotherhood of Blood (Black Beret or Two Two), Mafia, De Norsemen Club of Nigeria, Daughters of Jezebel, Black Brazier, White Angels, Viqueens, Damsels, among numerous others have been formed, and there is daily, increased membership perpetration of all sorts of heinous acts that include armed robbery, assassination, drug trafficking and abuse, arms dealings, and kidnapping.

As attempts are made to eradicate this hydra-headed scourge, there seems to be a geometric progression in membership and number of cult groups, as the trend seems to be a fad among youngsters in the country.Today, almost every street in the country, particularly in Lagos, now has one form of cult group or the other.

More worrisome is the rate at which pupils of primary school and secondary school age are getting involved in the clandestine acts. One wonders what propels these youngsters to engage in such macabre activities that characterise these organisations.

Membership of some of these nocturnal groups cut across gender and status. In the past, it was believed that membership of secret cult groups was the preserve of male children of the top echelon of society. However, this presumption has been rebutted, as status and sex are no longer major considerations for membership. Nevertheless, there are still groups that are gender restrictive.

New entrants are lured into these groups as a result of peer influence, fear, deficient morals and most importantly, lack of self-esteem, and they are promised of dominion, power and protection even from the law. 

Recently, the video footage of a young boy identified as Shanawole, who was rescued from the streets by the Tony Rapu-led God Bless Nigeria/Freedom Foundation, during one of its rehabilitation outreaches, trended on the social media.

The 11-year-old, who is a member of the Eiye (Air lords) confraternity and heavy smoker of marijuana, revealed that if anyone dares him or his group, it was his job to kill or hack the person down, adding that if anyone tries to fight them, he and his boys would hit the person very hard. He also claimed to be a robber. He is currently being rehabilitated by the Foundation.

From Ijora Badia, a slum in Apapa-Iganmu to Oju Irin (Railway line) in Odi-Olowo; Ilaje in Bariga; Kadiri in Fadeyi, to Shipeolu in Shomolu, all in Lagos, residents live in fear as these cultists/gangs walk freely in the streets in broad daylight, brandishing dangerous weapons like knives, guns, machetes, axes and mortar pestles, as being used by the now dreaded Badoo cult, that is currently terrorising Ikorodu, a suburb in Lagos.

The group has lately been unleashing terror on residents of Ibeshe, Odoguyan, Ogijo, Agric, Igbogbo, Oke-Ota, Itamaga, and more recently Owode-Ajegunle all in Ikorodu; raping, injuring and even killing some of their victims. The group’s modus operandi has no regard for the old and the young as they’ve been alleged to have raped even octogenarians and minors on several occasions, especially at night.

Findings revealed that members of the ‘Badoo boys’ do not cover their faces as they go about their notorious operations in the night, naked with black oil poured all over their bodies’ to make them very slippery for anyone to hold down.

Before the sudden rise of the Badoo Cult, the Aye (Black Axe) and the Air Lords (Eiye) confraternities, seemed the dominant cults in Ikorodu, as both groups battle for supremacy in the town, and this has resulted in the loss of lives and property worth millions of naira.

The Guardian gathered that cultism as a trend has continued to gain ground in the town as the various cult groups have embarked on a sustained recruitment of not only students of the higher institutions, but also land speculators (Omo-onile), commercial cyclists popularly called Okada riders, street urchins (area boys or touts) and even bus drivers as members. Anybody who shows interest is quickly initiated into the fold, as the various groups feel that the larger the membership, the stronger the group becomes.

In Ijora Badia, the rivalry between the Ali-Iwo boys with their main rival, the Moshalashi boys, also known as Oju-Ina boys, is very visible as there is a bridge and canal that divides the two groups. Other splinter groups in the community include the Akamaye boys, Orita Ogbana boys, Kudeti boys, Campus boys, Baale boys, and Church Street boys; all holding strong in their various domains.

The Guardian investigation revealed that the cause of the rivalry between the Ali-Iwo boys and Oju-Ina is what may be described as “security money” from motorists, whose vehicles break down within the borderline of their territories, and this has resulted in countless fights, leading to deaths and destruction of properties in the area.

In Edo State, particularly in Benin-City, the rate at which teenage youths are initiated (blend) into cult groups is alarming, and this has become a major cause of concern to the state government and the law enforcement agents, especially the Nigerian Police, which oftentimes close in and try to stop them during initiations at the odd hours of the night.

Investigations revealed that these teenagers are being initiated into two main cult groups- Eiye Confrarnity and Hallah of the Night. The Deputy Inspector-General of Police, South West Zone and ICT, Mr. Folusho Adebanjo, had, during his tenure as Commissioner of Police in the state, paraded 15 youths, between ages 13 and 15, suspected of be cultists, with different arms and ammunition. He had explained that eight of the suspects were members of the Hallah of the Night, and were arrested in Uromi, while seven members of the Eiye Confraternity were arrested at Ologbo.

“We are surprised that little boys are going into cultism and they did not deny it. Some of them said they just felt that belonging to a cult group would give them the confidence that they are now big boys. Majority of them are secondary school students, but some are out of school, especially those who are in Eiye, those ones who are members of the Hallah of the Night are secondary school students. We discovered that this issue of peer group where children mix with friends is very dangerous because that is how these people are initiated into cultism. It is unfortunate that it happens, parents have a role to play to protect their children,” he said.

Explaining how he joined Hallah of the Night, John Osagie, 13 said: “What happened was that some of my friends became so strong in school that people feared them. So they told me if I wanted to be strong, I should come and be their member. That is how they took me to the bush and I became a member.”

In Ekpoma, the host community of Ambrose Ali University (AAU), it is difficult to tell who is a cultist. The town has become a tapestry of cultism, as membership of a cult group is no longer a special privilege enjoyed by students of the university. Locals, including farmers, commercial cyclists, mechanics, electricians and other artisans/technicians are members of one cult group or another.

Twenty-six secondary school students in Cross River State were in 2002, expelled for involvement in cult-related activities. One Victor, a.k.a Papa, a secondary school student in Oron, was killed in January 2004, following a cult clash, while some secondary school cult members beat a secondary school typist to death in Eket. The same year, seven secondary school secret cult kingpins were arrested in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital.

Findings revealed that there has been massive initiation of primary school children into more than 150 cult groups identified by the anti-cultism law of Rivers State, and this has helped expose the menace at secondary school level.

In July 2015, Ebonyi State Police command foiled the initiation of 46 graduating students of a popular Mission Secondary School in Izzi Local Council of the state, who were said to be members of a cult group identified as Junior Vikings. The students had just concluded writing their NECO Senior School Certificate Examination.

Also, seven students of Nazareth High School in Imeko-Afon Local Council, and 11 from Lisabi Grammar School, Idi-Aba, Abeokuta, Ogun State were arrested in their schools in 2013 for cultism by officers of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).

The Nazareth High School students were caught while they were initiating some other students into their cult group, while the students of Lisabi High School were apprehended for breaching the peace in the school, and after a thorough investigation, they were discovered to be members of a secret cult group.

The Nexus With Politics
Since the introduction of democracy in Nigeria, Nigerians have experienced election rigging, which has also produced the highest wave of hooliganism and violence amongst politicians at the local, state and federal levels.
  
The return of democratic rule in 1999 marked the watershed in the uprising of bloody cult clashes across the country. The dire urge of political dominance impelled political parties and politicians to engage the services of the cult gangs.
  
A number of these politicians surround themselves with the cult gangs, using them as private armies and bodyguards, and supplement them with the law enforcement agents, who are willing to carry out their commands.Together with these politicians, these students’ fraternities have been linked to violent activities in the country. For decades, these cult groups have flourished following the support and patronage of influential political figures, who are using them as instrument to settle political scores.
  
Many local communities, cities and states have witnessed violent clashes between rival fraternity gangs sponsored by politicians. Notable for such violent activities are the Junior Vikings Confraternity (JVC) also know as Deewell- a wing of the Supreme Vikings Confraternity (SVC) also known as The National Association of Adventurers of De Norsemen Club of Nigeria, and the Debam- a wing of the Klux Klansmen Confraternity (KK) also known as The Eternal Fraternal Order of the Legion Consortium.
  
The Guardian learned that many student fraternities maintain ties with powerful politicians because of their association with the fraternities, which dates back to their days on campus. It was also gathered that after discussing with some senior fraternity leaders, they revealed that there are a lot of impostors claiming to belong to their organisations while offering their services to the politicians.
 
Some fraternity members are in the habit of ordering fellow members to do political favours for them. However, steps are being taken to check the illegal activities of these members ranging from expulsion, suspension, fines and a lot of policies have been changed including banning all new fraternity members from holding any fraternity position for five to 10 years, restricting new intake age limit between 18 and 35, and making it an offence to participate in politics while serving in the leadership of the fraternity as well as banning all political campaigns in all fraternity meetings.
  
According to a recent Human Rights Watch report, politicians usually recruit members of fraternity groups during the elections to target their political opponents, sponsors or to attack and intimidate ordinary voters during polls.In the report, some fraternity members claimed they merely provided security for electoral campaigns, while others said that they were paid only to attend rallies in support of their patron candidates, adding that they are armed and prepared to fight at such events that they randomly attend.

‘It Is A Failure Of Family Values, Institutions’
Dr Oluwatoyin Fredrick Idowu, a Psychologist and lecturer in the Department of Industrial Relations and Personnel Management, Lagos State University, Ojo, told The Guardian that cultism is a societal issue, adding that cult activities may have taken a very deep root in the nation’s tertiary institutions initially, it was imported from the society into the school.

He said: “Because there is larger number of people in the tertiary institutions, it becomes so pronounced so to speak.”According to him, now that pupils in primary and students in secondary schools are engaging in it, it can be attributed to the abstract nature of urban life, individualism, poverty and unemployment.
  
He noted that today, many graduates cannot find job and they easily interact with the young ones, which makes it a veritable ground for recruiting them into cults.
“Because these youths do not see any future for them, they want to find a ground or anything they can do to give them some kind of succour.
 
“It is like an addiction. Something you want to rely on. For instance, if there is no future so to speak, let us now do this as a past time. Many youths go into cult activities without even knowing the complexities and consequences. To them, it is just fraternising and having people to move with, but before they know the deadly things that are involved, they find it so difficult to move out.
 
“For the boys, it is a way to feel that they are boy enough and can bully others, and nobody can bully you because you have a group or pockets of people you fraternise with and they can defend you,” he said.
  
The university don blamed the parents, saying that family values and the social net have been eroded.“There is high level of individualism, people tend to think of themselves alone and not take into consideration others. In the days of baby boomers, it is not only your parents that are your parents; parenting at the time belongs to everyone around you.
  
“Anybody can pick you on the road, beat you for a wrong done without getting to your parents, but these days parents don’t care and, therefore, when somebody in your neighbourhood sees your wards going astray, they feel unconcerned, leaving such individuals until they go into these nefarious activities including cultism.”
 
He noted that many parents do not have time for their children, they are careless about their development, what they do and the kind of friends and people they move with, adding that they don’t look for initial signs, because when these things start happening most parents don’t look inward to see them. Instead, they pamper and pet their children even when what they are doing is wrong.
  
He continued: “The children behave so to speak at home, they put on long gown, robes, good trousers, dress modestly, but when they are out, they put on bum shorts, torn jeans and are almost nude. The religious institutions are also to take part of the blame, because these days, all that is being preached is prosperity. They don’t want people to suffer and people are going out to look for that fortune. Many are engaging in gansterism, drug peddling, robbery, kidnapping among others heinous crimes, because they feel they are protected.”
  
According to Idowu, every institution has a hand in the menace. He also blamed the political elites and the law enforcement agencies, saying they cannot be totally absolved.
 
On the recent accusation against some police officers as being members of various cult groups by residents of Akure in Ondo State, that when members of a particular cult group are arrested, officers who are members of such group aid and facilitate their release, the university don said: “When you are in it you are already in it. You belong to a cultic group, you grow up and the same group protected you, and perhaps you rose to where you are with the aid of the group, and because you have benefitted from it, it behoves on you to protect others who are members of the group.
  
On the effect of the menace, Idowu said: “First, we must recognise the fact that there is high level of unemployment in Nigeria today. Someone has been to tertiary institution but there is no job to do. Most times he or she is the one interacting with these youths. He introduces and exposes them into the activities of cult groups, and what this means is that the society is in trouble if we do not do much to curb it now.
  
“To start with, we must first provide employment to teeming graduates who are unemployed. Whichever way it can be done, we have to do it. Like I said earlier, most of these youths that go into cult activities don’t even know what they go into and the consequences that follow.

‘Security Agencies’ Conspiracy Responsible For Street Cultism’
From Oluwaseun Akingboye, Akure
AKURE, the Ondo State capital, popularly known as “Oyemekun” used to be very peaceful until recently when residents started witnessing fiery attacks, brutalisation and gruesome murder by secret cult societies, whose activities are not only limited to the city, but across the 18 council areas of the state.

Some few weeks ago and within a space of five days, many youths were assaulted and 10 people murdered in alleged power tussle between the Aiye and Eiye confraternity cult groups.Also in the recent past, the state police command had paraded teenagers and secondary school students, who had been initiated into cult groups with some funny names like eku (rat), “egede.” “ogede” and “abatiyan.”

The tension raised by these cult groups became so tense and the stakeholders in the community took proactive measures to nip the menace in the bud. This is because most security operatives were inactive and the Anti-cultism Squad had been disbanded and reduced to a mere toothless bulldog. Some alleged that some security personnel are members of the cult groups.

The Bishop, Diocese of Akure Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion, Rt. Revd Simeon Borokini, has recently raised an alarm over the continuous migration of youths from the rural to urban areas, warning that it would continue to unleash reign of terror upon the nation if not checked. 

This, he identified as the major cause of the recent activities of the notorious group, Badoo, in Ikorodu axis of Lagos State and other nefarious crimes such as street cultism committed by some youths.The clergy warned that if the movement is not curtailed by government at all levels, it will result to increased unemployment and insecurity. 

He added that the unabated migration of jobless youths from rural to urban cities was a fertile ground to breed criminals, urging government to address it.Borokini, who declared this during the 2nd Session of the Twelve Synod, held at St. James Anglican Church, Itaogbolu, Akure North LGA of Ondo State, themed: “Do Not Compromise Your Faith,” noted that lasting security and stability require a broad approach, emphasising that “we cannot take peace for granted, it requires difficult decisions, hard work and compromise.”

He posited further that if jobs were provided for youths, they might not like to engage in devilish acts. He, therefore, advised the Federal Government to step up measures to revive the economy.  

A youth leader in the state, Mr. Ore Matthew, attributes the proliferation of cultism among youths, especially teenagers to lack of confidence in one’s abilities, inferiority complex and wrong mentorship from the older generation.

“It is very shameful that it is now the latest style in vogue among the youths of the present generation. Much alarming is this social vice that every Dick and Harry, mechanic, tailor, okada man, drivers, conductors, prostitutes and the never-do-wells in the society are profile members of these cult groups.”This, Matthew noted, goaded them to be social deviants and constitute nuisance to the society at large. He stressed that parents and guardians have a lot of work to do so as to instill moral values in their children and wards.

Collaborating the allegation against security agents for aiding and abetting cultism, the Asiwaju of Akure Kingdom, Prof. Olu Agbi, who addressed a press conference and spoke on behalf of Akure community, accused some security personnel of compromise. 

“Apart from the killings by the secret cult members, there were reports of kidnapping, attacks and killing of farmers by herdsmen among other heinous crimes. Some crimes including armed robbery and ritual killings have not gone unnoticed by the community.”

The former Ambassador to Greece, Agbi, expressed dismay at the approach of the security agencies, saying they seemed to be helpless in dealing with this menace.He alleged that some personnel of the law enforcement agencies were members of the secret cults.

“Security sources told us that Eiye security men in the force would release their members if brought to the police station, while Aiye law enforcement agents would do the same to their members.”He called on the Inspector General of Police to purge the police of the secret cult members so that the war against cultism and other crimes could be meaningful.

Weak revenue hinders Nigeria’s budget implementation- Hanalai


By Adekunle Best

Mrs Kemi Adeosun: Finance Minister

Mrs Kemi Adeosun: Finance Minister

The Director-General, National Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS), Prof. Ladi Hamalai, on Wednesday in Abuja said implementation of the country’s capital budget was constrained by weak revenue base.

According to the News Agency of Nigetia, NAN, Hamalai said this in her keynote address at a colloquium on “Journalists and Social Media Influences on Legislative Power of Appropriation/Budget Reform Process’’.

She said that late enactment of budgets, untimely and irregular release of funds and preponderance of unplanned projects were some factors affecting budget implementation.

The director-general stated that there was need for strengthened implementation capacity of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), stronger budget monitoring by the executive and effective oversight by the legislature.

She, however, said that the 2017 budget recorded an improvement with drastic cuts on wasteful spending.

According to her, more can be done to limit spending on controllable expenditure, especially in recession period.

Hamalai suggested that section 8 (1) of the 1999 Constitution should be altered, while sections 11 and 14 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act should be amended to promote a fixed and realistic budget calendar for the country.

She said that this would enable the president to present the budget to the National Assembly by September for consideration and passage before Nov. 30.

“Also this will enable the president to assent to the Appropriation Bill by December,’’ Hamalai added.

While commending the introduction of Efficiency Unit in the Federal Ministry of Finance to review expenditure profile of MDAs, she said that the country’s budget was fraught with leakages, making it un-implementable.

According to her, in spite of efforts by the Federal Government to fight corruption, leakages were still prevalent in the system.

She said that though government budget was an important tool for economic development, it had generally not met the expectations of improved service delivery in Nigeria, unlike in many other countries.

“Abundant leakages in capital implementation translate into erosion of resources and inability to complete projects and programmes and even when completed, quality challenges deplete performance.

“Instead of the budget being an economic instrument that could address the social and infrastructural deficit in the country, the nation’s budget was unfortunately largely designed based on political considerations.

“Part of the problems faced by the budgeting process in the country is that the budget itself is a political instrument instead of an economic blueprint.

“Nigeria’s budgeting system is a political instrument, where resources are allocated not based on priorities but on the number of MDAs.

“It is a political system rather than an economic instrument for development.

“There are about 1,000 MDAs and each has both capital and recurrent provisions, thus the tendency has been to allocate to all, though focusing on priority areas.

“Capital projects cannot be completed and some abandoned for years,” she said.

Hamalai further said that the wide gap between budget estimates and revenue had made the budgets un-implementable, adding that revenues generated by some agencies were not remitted to the Federal Government, and at times not reported.

She also faulted the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), which “is poorly prepared because of unreliable and incomprehensive data base’’.

On capital expenditure, she observed that it had been relatively low compared to recurrent expenditure.

“In fact, actual capital expenditure has been 8.1 per cent of total expenditure from 2015,’’ the director-general said.

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Nigerian Governor declared wanted in the UK for laundering $515bn


​By Adekunle Best

In spite of the anti-corruption war of President Muhammadu Buhari, one of the frontline governors of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Atiku Abubakar Bagudu of Kebbi State, is on the wanted list of the government of the United Kingdom for laundering over $515 billion (USD) for the late General Sani Abacha.

Documents from the United Kingdom sighted by our correspondent show that the APC governor was one of the major conduit pipes that late military dictator used in looting the Nigerian treasury during his regime.

The certified documents show that Governor  Bagudu has been on the run from the United Kingdom government since 2003 when the government of Jersey, Channel Islands, a vassal state of UK, “duly and legally charged” him on a five-count charge of criminal offences.

Facts are beginning to emerge that the romance between President Buhari and the fugitive APC governor is one of the reasons why the British government is lukewarm in supporting the anti-corruption war of President Buhari despite several pleas from the Nigerian government.

In a letter of request for arrest and extradition of Bagudu written by the Jersey Island Attorney General, William Bailhache, on 11th April, 2003 to Declan Chandler of Home Office Judicial Co-operation Unit, 50, Queen Anne’s Gate, London, the AG said they believe Badudu must have relocated to his house at 12819 Elbridge Place Drive, Houston, Texas, United States to evade justice.

Bagudu was said to have opened several bank accounts with Deutsche Morgan Greenfell Bank where funds stolen from Nigeria were lodged, but falsely claimed that the huge funds were proceeds from his legitimate private businesses in oil and trading.

The summary of the five-count charge against Bagudu are:

*Fraud, contrary to the customary law of Jersey, between 9th February, 1998 and 8th May, 1998.

*Obtaining services by false pretences, contrary to the customary law of Jersey.

*Two (alternate) counts of receiving or possessing property obtained illegally abroad, contrary to the customary law of Jersey, between 1st April, 1998 and 31st August, 1998.

*Fraud, contrary to customary law of Jersey, between 1st November 1998 and 16th December, 1998.

*Obtaining services by false pretences, contrary to the customary law of Jersey, between 1st November 1998 and 16th December, 1998.

Based on this request the British Embassy in Washington wrote to the United States Department of State to make a formal request with reference number 34/03 dated April 11, 2003 for the extradition of Bagudu to its territory to face trial.

To facilitate Bagudu’s extradition to the UK territory, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia on May 7, 2003 issued a warrant for his arrest and on May 22, 2003 he was finally nabbed on the streets of Houston, Texas by two officers.

He was consequently detained for about sixty days while a court proceeding was on to facilitate his extradition.

In the Matter of the Extradition of Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, at the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division, Assistant United States Attorney, Jeanne M. Hauch deposed a “Complaint in support of the provisional arrest and extradition” of Bagudu and described him as a fugitive whose offence carry maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

In the affidavit the Attorney said: “The fugitive was duly and legally charged with having committed, in the jurisdiction of the Requesting State, the following offences contrary to the common or customary law of Jersey.

“Two counts of fraud, respectively occurring between February 9 and May 8, 1998 and November 1 and 16, 1998, carrying a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

“Two counts of obtaining a service by false pretences, respectively occurring between February 9 and May 8, 1998 and November 1 and December 16, 1998, carrying a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and

“Two counts of receiving or possessing property illegally obtained abroad, occurring between April 1 and August 31, 1998, carrying a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

“The affidavit gave details of how Bagudu facilitated the lodgement of funds allegedly removed from the Nigeria to the foreign accounts.

“Another US Assistant Attorney, Noelle Dimarco, also swore a Complaint affidavit where she presented details of how over $515 USD was siphoned from Central Bank of Nigeria to the foreign accounts.”

Attorney Dimarco also added in the affidavit that “In this matter the fugitive poses a risk of flight if he becomes aware his extradition is sought. He is believed to possess more than one passport and to control between $1 and $3 billion, and he is able to travel on short notice. Finally, it is suspected that he could depart the United States for Nigeria in the near future, putting him beyond the reach of Jersey law enforcement officials.”

However, despite the objections of the Attorney, Bagudu was granted bail on the condition that he will be travelling to Nigeria to refund some money to the Nigerian government with a promise to return to the British vassal state for trial.

He got temporary reprieve on November 19, 2003 when his wife, Aisha A. Bagudu signed his bail bond of $500,000 cash.

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Part of the bail conditions is that he will present himself to the appropriate Nigerian authorities within 14 days of his release, while Jersey, through the United Kingdom, will refer its charges and documentation to Nigeria.

On his return to Nigeria, Bagudu actually refunded to the Central Bank of Nigeria through the office of the National Security Adviser the sum of $604,743,187.19 (USD), £60,090,984. 93 and an additional £5.25m. The then CBN Director of Foreign Operations, Mr. M. R Rasheed acknowledged the refunds in a letter to Bagudu routed through the NSA.

The United Kingdom authorities were compelled to declare the Kebbi state governor a fugitive as the governor has continued to stay away from Jersey, Channel Island, where his money laundering case is still pending.

According to our investigation, the British government is not comfortable with the Buhari administration for shielding Governor Bagudu from justice despite his much touted anti-corruption war.

Buhari Ministerial list to be released on Wednesday


NIGERIAN NEWS

The Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari, Mr Femi Adesina has said the President may release the ministerial list before the end of the month.

The much awaited ministerial list might be released before the end of the month. This according to a statement by the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to President, Femi Adesina.

Speaking with Channels Television on Sunday 27th of September, he added that President Buhari will meet with the Presidents of US, China, Senegal and the British Prime Ministeramong others on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

He said:

“Today (Sunday), the President will have high level meeting with global leaders and there will be bilateral meeting with the President of China, United Kingdom, Republic of Korea, Senegal and Prime Minister of Sweden.

President Buhari will also attend a meeting on climate change which will be hosted by the UN Secretary General, Ban-ki Moon.

Later in the evening, the ‘Champions of the Earth 2015 Awards’ will also hold which is to honour exemplary actions and leadership in the area of sustainable development in climate change.

Something that has been noticed through the speeches of President Buhari is the zeal to build international coalition and partnerships for sustainable development.

The President will address the General Assembly on Monday and most likely speak on the challenges of insurgency in the West African region.”

President Buhari is one of many world leaders and policy makers gathered at UN headquarters for the 70th anniversary session of the General Assembly being held in New York to discuss a full spectrum of international affairs and outline goals for the next 15 years.

According to ThisDay, Former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Buhari met on Friday at the United Nations Plaza in downtown Manhattan, New York City.

READ:

Their closed door meeting came just after speculations that the ministerial nominees would be announced soon. It was widely rumoured that the discussion of the two men centred on the appointment of ministers in the Buhari government.
Thisday reports that a source said, “The leaders decided to hold the meeting to discuss key national issues, crucial also is the ministerial list.”

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Igarra bank robbery: Police round up 6 more suspects, native doctor


By Adekunle 

Edo State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Chris Ezike, addressing newsmen on arms and ammunition as well as money recovered from fleeing armed robbers who attacked two commercial banks in Igarra, in Igarra, Akoko-Edo Local Government Area of Edo State, Tuesday.

Nearly three months after their operation in Igarra community in Edo State which left no less than six persons dead including two policemen, six more members of the robbery gang have been arrested in Okenne and Kaba in Kogi State by men of the police.

According to the police, the arrest was effected following a tip off as the robbers were traced from Edo to Kogi State.

Police spokesman in Edo State, Stephen Osifo, Thursday, confirmed the arrest of the suspected robbers whose identities he said included; Idris Shaibu, Daniel Moses, Audu Raman Simple, Abdulahi Isah, Jimoh Salau, Saliu Laisu and a native doctor.

He said other suspects are on the run as police continue their chase.

It was also gathered that 15 AK-47 rifles with 40 rounds of ammunition and 569 live ammunition and charms were recovered from the suspects.

Meanwhile, 46 suspected cultists have been arrested by men of the Edo state police command.

The move is to checkmate the resurgence of cult activities which has led to some killings in the state.

The 46 suspected cultists were said to be members of seven different secret cult groups in the state who are said to be currently at war with each other in some parts of Benin City that has led to the death of over four persons in the last two weeks.

Police were said to have stormed suspected cultists’ hideouts while they were said to be preparing to move to assassinate one Osas in front of the Urhokpota Hall in Benin city when they were caught.

Reports revealed that some policemen who were on surveillance around the Kings square in Benin city spotted three persons with a black bag who were subsequently stopped by the police for searching.

During the search the police recovered two locally-made cut-to-size double barrel guns and some live cartridges.

Two of which were arrested on the spot, the suspects told the police they were on a revenge mission to assassinate the said Osas near urhokpota Hall.

British secret files on Nigeria’s first bloody coup, path to Biafra


​By Adekunle Best

an engineer and historian has perused hitherto hidden dispatches from British diplomats and intelligence officers on Nigeria’s first coup—a very bloody one—executed by Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu and Emmanuel Arinze Ifeajuna on 15 January 1966. The coup in which political leaders and military officers of northern Nigeria extraction were majorly killed triggered a counter-coup and eventually declaration of Biafra and a civil war.
TheNEWS today shares the rare insight into the bloody event of 15 January 1966 and we believe it may serve as a good lesson as the drums of war are being sounded in some parts of our country

Kaduna

It was a soundless morning, dark, pulsating, starless. The harmattan spiked the 2am air with prickly cold and fog. With his finger to the trigger, the 28-year-old Major Patrick Chukwuma Nzeogwu addressed the soldiers from Charlie Company of the 3rd Infantry Battalion and some Nigerian Military Training College (NMTC) personnel. They were armed with fury, submachine guns, knives, grenades, torchlights, rocket launchers. Nzeogwu reeled about how the politicians had dragged the country to the cliff of fall and kicked it down into a worst-case scenario. He reeled about nepotism, large scale looting of public wealth, persistent poverty of the people, the yearnings of millions hollowed out by afflictions, the epidemic of insecurities, the Tiv riots, the Western Region’s daily bloodletting, the country’s tireless race to the bottom instead of high up to the plane of regard.

He pointed to Sardauna’s residence right behind him as the ultimate symbol of the filth Nigeria had become. His fellow soldiers were stunned. They did not know they had been turned into reluctant rebels. They thought this was supposed to be another night’s training exercise the brigade high command had approved for them which they started two weeks previously. Nzeogwu then asked the soldiers to concentrate on how to be necessary and to feel proud that they were the ones called upon to rescue the nation, to show the way, to be the new founding fathers of a better Nigeria. In other words, like Homer’s Illiad, he was asking them not to see the epic bloodbath that was about to start as an outbreak of evil, but their generous contribution to the redemption and welfare of the nation.

They Charged Forward

Four hours earlier around 10 o’clock, the last lights in the Sardauna’s household had gone out. They were expected to wake by 4am to eat suhur, the predawn meal to begin the fast. Ramadan started on 23rd December 1965. A week earlier, the Prime Minister Mallam Tafawa Balewa Abubakar met the Queen and the British Prime Minister Harold Wilson. He had invited all the Commonwealth Prime Ministers for a special meeting in Lagos from 11- 12 January to resolve Rhodesian crises. It was the first of its kind outside London. On 19 December, he went to the small village of Arondizuogu in Orlu for the commissioning of his trade minister, Dr Ozumba Mbadiwe’s Palace of the People. Built by Italian contractors, it was a three-storey affair resplendent with blue terrazzo walls, swimming pool and a fountain, grand conference halls and event rooms, red carpet and gilt chairs. All these in a village where most houses were still born of mud and thatched roofs.

Since the first tarred roads were constructed in 1890s in Lagos, and the first dual carriage way in Nigeria – Queen Elizabeth Road – appeared in 1956 in Ibadan, no road in Arondizuogu or in Orlu had ever been graced with bitumen before. Yet Mbadiwe situated the grand palace there as a source of pride for his people. At the commissioning ceremony, the Eastern Premier, Dr Okpara never saw the project as a white elephant planted by megalomania and watered by corruption, rather he hailed the project as “a great achievement for one of the priests of pragmatic socialism to have been so clever to accommodate this building within the context of pragmatic African socialism.” The press placed the value of the house at least half a million pounds. Mbadiwe said it was “at most £40,000.” After the commissioning, Abubakar then proceeded to his farm in Bauchi for his annual leave. On Tuesday 4th of January, he joined the retinue of well-wishers in Kaduna airport to bid farewell to his in-law and godfather, the Sardauna, who was going to Saudi Arabia to perform Umra, a lesser hajj, in the company of 184 other state-sponsored pilgrims. The cost of the one-week pilgrimage to the government was around £17,000.

That morning, The New Nigerian newspaper wrote an unprecedentedly scathing editorial laying the blame for the region’s financial woes and lack of development on Sardauna inefficiencies and ineptitude and asked him to “put his house in order.” When Nzeogwu read the editorial, he went straight to the paper’s newsroom and demanded to see the writer. He was in his uniform and his eyes were red. No one knew him nor had seen his face before. The staff did not know what to make of his demand. The expatriate managing editor Charles Sharp then stepped forward. Nzeogwu shook his hands and said the content and tone of the editorial reflected their thinking in the army and they had resolved to put that house in order. The newsroom did not understand what he meant until the morning of the January 15. The paper was the first to publish for the world the picture of Sardauna’s house still smouldering in the flames of Nzeogwu.

Meanwhile, the premier of the Western Region, Samuel Ladoke Akintola received a tip from his NNDP ministers in the federal cabinet that after the Commonwealth special meeting, the Prime Minister planned to impose a state of emergency on the Western Region, drop him as an ally and appoint a federal caretaker just as he did in 1962. Market women staging protests against skyrocketing costs of foodstuffs, burnout cars, shot and charred corpses, politicians and civil servants’ houses set on fire, intellectuals’ houses emptied onto the street were weekly occurrences in the West. Ever since the rift between Awolowo the Action Group leader and Akintola his deputy, the Western Region that was an Africans-can-do-it model of governance and jaw-dropping development was turned into a landscape of sorrow, blood and tears. With fund from the public treasury and under the command of Fani-Kayode the deputy premier, Akintola’s well-armed hooligans held the upper hand while AG’s bully-boys sponsored by Dr Michael Okpara and the NCNC leadership were on the defensive. After the elections of 11 October 1965, Akintola used the state broadcasting services to announce false counts while the Okpara-sent Eastern Nigeria Broadcasting Service team secretly camped in Awolowo’s house declared the correct results ward by ward. On the night of 15th October, when Akintola was to announce himself the winner, Wole Soyinka, with a generous assistance from his pistol, forced the Western Broadcasting Service to air his own subservice tape asking Akintola to resign and go. Akintola and his supporters went berserk. The police declared Soyinka wanted and he fled to Okpara in the East for temporary refuge until his arrest on 27th October 1965.

On Thursday, 13th January when Sardauna arrived from Mecca, Akintola flew to Kaduna to meet him to dissuade Abubakar from imposing a state of emergency on the West or replace him with an Administrator. Akintola had recently buried his daughter and staunchest ally Mrs Modele Odunjo who on 26th October died allegedly of overdose of sleeping pills. She was married to Soji Odunjo, who was a staunch enemy of her father and he was also the son of the Alawiye’s Chief J.F. Odunjo whom Akintola also sacked as the Chairman of Western Region Development Corporation for being pro-Awolowo. Akintola had also sent his son, Tokunbo (who died in 1973) faraway to Eton College in England. He had imported the first ever bulletproof car into Nigeria: an £8000 Mercedes Benz. As the 13th Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, he felt unchained and fired up for a total fight. With more men and firepower, he told the Sardauna, he would crush all disturbances from AG’s supporters and their Eastern sponsors. The Sardauna promised to discuss his request with the Prime Minister. Major Timothy Onwuatuegwu, a 27-year-old instructor at the NMTC who was detailed to track Sardauna’s daily movements reported this surprise meeting with Akintola to the Revolution’s high command. From his No 13, Kanta Road residence, Nzeogwu promptly dashed to the Kaduna airport where Sardauna had already gone to see off Akintola. Nzeogwu went to the VIP lounge saluted the Sardauna and wished Akintola safe journey back home convinced that in 48 hours at most, both VIPs would be counted among the dead.

Ahmadu Bello: killed by Nzeogwu during Ramadan
Ahmadu Bello: killed by Nzeogwu during Ramadan

That evening, Nzeogwu went back to the airport to pick up his best friend Major Olusegun Obasanjo the Officer Commanding the Field Engineers who had just finished his course in India and flew in via London. Obasanjo’s deputy Captain Ben Gbuile was supposed to pick him up at the airport but he was busy mobilising for the Revolution. And so he telephoned Nzeogwu who promptly came to the airport. Though they slept together in the same room, Nzeogwu never told him of the death awaiting certain personalities.

The following day, 14th January, Bernard Floud a British MP and director of Granada TV (now ITV) which partly owned the Northern Region Television Station was staying at the plush Hamdala Hotel in Kaduna. He had met with the Sardauna briefly to discuss funding and expansion of the television reach. They were supposed to meet the following day Saturday 15th January to continue the business talk. But there would be no tomorrow.

Emmanuel Ifeajuna: the sports hero turned revolutionary. This University of Ibadan Zoology graduate was the brain behind the revolution. He recruited Nzeogwu (who said he could gun down corrupt politicians) into the revolution

For Nzeogwu and his soldiers had cut through the Premier’s Lodge fence by the side and at the entrance rounded up three policemen (Police Constables Yohanna Garkawa, Akpan Anduka, Hagai Lai) and a soldier (Lance Corporal Musa Nimzo) rubbing their hands together between their knees to resist the harsh harmattan. Nzeogwu asked them to face the wall and coldly pulled the trigger on them. He was trying to man up his fellow soldiers who were still acting like reluctant rebels and give them a taste of where the night was heading. He then posted two new sentries by the entrance while he and other soldiers conducted a room-to-room search in the main house for the Sardauna. Routine police patrol that sighted the mutineers converging menacingly in front of the Premier’s Lodge radioed the British Police officer on duty in the Kaduna Police Operations room. He in turn phoned Mallam Ahmed T. Ben-Musa Sardauna’s Senior Assistant Secretary (Security). He immediately sprang up and went to the Lodge. He was shot on arrival by the sentries who were motivated by Nzeogwu’s earlier example. They had accepted the transformation from reluctant rebels to motivated mutineers.

The general alarm had woken Sardauna. He was not in the main house but upstairs in the rear annex with his senior wife Habsatu, the daughter of Mallam Abbas, the Waziri of Sokoto, his second wife Goggon Kano, the third, Jabbo Birnin Kebbi and Sallama, a house retainer. They listened and rattled prayer beads in fear for an hour as Nzeogwu and his motivated mutineers booted down doors, pumped bullets into guards mounting resistance and shouted to others, “Ina Sardauna? Take us to the Sardauna.” It was dark, Sardauna and his wives went downstairs and into the courtyard connecting the annex and the main house. They were trying to escape. On finding them, Nzeogwu shot the Sardauna and his senior wife who was trying to protect him. He then blew a whistle which was the agreed signal for all soldiers to converge at the rallying point at the front gate for the final onslaught on their symbol of national decay. The rocket-launching party then began shelling the house. Boom! Boom! The ground shuddered like the cannon fire which the great Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky laced into his 1812 overture. Nzeogwu was a lover of jazz and classical music.

Their beauty heightened his sensitivity to the decay which Nigeria was. He even mentored Captain Theophilus Danjuma to become a classical connoisseur. With the huge flame before him overpowering the harmattan and the night with abundance of light and heat, Nzeogwu was satisfied his own unit’s assignment was a success. He felt like a single note from an oboe, hanging high up there unwavering, avid for glory, above pulses from bassoons and basset horns till a drag from a clarinet took over and sweetened the note into a phrase of such delight, such unfulfillable longing making the coup’s failure unlikely with every passing bar. Nzeogwu then left for the brigade headquarters to await news from other units confident as ever like that high oboe note from Mozart’s Serenade for the Winds in B Flat that the news would be good news.

The mutineers had divided themselves into three groups. Nzeogwu headed the group that looked after the Sardauna, Captain Gbuile was to seize the 1st Brigade Headquarters, the TV and radio stations and Major Timothy Onwuatuegwu headed the group to delete the existence of Brigadier Samuel Ademulegun and his Deputy, Col Raphael Shodeinde. Ademulegun was startled when Onwuatuegwu entered his bedroom just after 2am. He was reported to have asked, how did you get in here? As the commander of the 1st Brigade of the Nigerian Army, he was the most protected personality in the whole of the Northern Region. While police personnel guarded the Premier and the Governor, Sir Kashim Ibrahim, his own guards were drawn from the 3rd infantry battalion. They guarded not only inside and outside his compound but around his main house too. But the guards had been compromised and they led Onwuatuegwu straight into the Brigadier’s bedroom. Had Ademulegun survived the assassination, he would have ordered all the guards, the guard commander and their officer commanding to face firing squad because as guards, they were supposed to die first before anything happened to him.

Nzeogwu: Led soldiers to kill Ahmadu Bello in Kaduna
British secret files on Nigeria’s first bloody coup, path to Biafra

But he was not scheduled to survive. Onwuatuegwu asked the Brigadier, “Get dressed and come with us sir. Those are my instructions; to bring you to the headquarters.” It sounded like nonsense to him. As the head of that headquarters since 17 February 1964, he was the only person that could give such an order. His wife Latifah, 8 months pregnant, planted herself fearlessly between her husband and the pointed guns knowing full well that if she remained glued to the comfort of their bed those weapons would not be diverted away from her husband. The Sardauna’s senior wife did exactly that at that moment somewhere else. (Any other Nigerian woman would have done the same. Contrary to what the New Feminists led themselves to believe, Nigerian women were never born to be weak. In the top bedside drawer was a service pistol. As a Brigadier, Ademulegun knew a pistol was no match for 6 soldiers armed with SMGs. But he would rather fight and die gallantly than degrade the honour of his office by surrendering to subordinates.

As he made a dash for a quick draw, Onwuatuegwu opened fire on the Brigadier, his wife and the unborn. Cruelty resulted when anything stood in the way of the indefinite expansion of the will to power. Without Ademulegun dead, Nzeogwu could not preside over the biggest Brigade of the Nigerian Army. Ademulegun’s children Solape and Kole were in the next room. They heard all the clash and they were the first to see their lifeless parents surrounded by a pond of blood. Onwuatuegwu and his mutineers then strolled out across the street unchallenged by the guards to the home of Colonel Shodeinde, Deputy Commandant of Nigerian Defence Academy whom Ademulegun usually handed over the Brigade too when he was not around. They killed him too in cold blood with an angry grenade. They then left for the Brigade Headquarters satisfied their mission was a success. That was what Nzeogwu meant when he asked his fellow mutineers not to see the epic bloodbath that was about to start as an outbreak of evil but their unique and generous contribution to the development and welfare of the nation. Anything that benefitted their Revolution cannot be injurious to morals. That was their driving belief. And it freed them to be terrible.

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Man who led successful war against Edo cultists takes full charge as Police Commissioner


By Adekunle Best

Just after the general elections in Nigeria held on March 28 and April 11 this year, Edo was plunged into a crisis as members of clandestine secret cult groups in the state engaged each other in open warfare.

Fear gripped innocent citizens of the state as not only members of the cult groups were being targeted in an ugly orgy of killings – their family members, including mothers, were also being slaughtered in a senseless show of cowardice and wickedness.

While the actual cause of the crisis was and still remains sketchy – with some attributing it to the disagreements that followed the sharing of financial booty from politicians during the elections – what was clear was that something drastic needed to be done to stop the loss of lives.

In stepped the then new Inspector-General of Police, Solomon Ariase, an Edo indigene. He reportedly ordered a crack team of federal police officers to Edo State, and their presence was devastating for cultists who hitherto literally ran the state as some kind of feudal lords. Many influential cultists (some working in government) were arrested, paraded on state and national TV, and later arraigned in court for their crimes, as the crack squad swung into action. They (the police) became feared again and cult activities have since then been forced back underground in Edo.

The man that led that Special Task Force to Edo State as a Deputy Commissioner of Police, (DSP)  Chris Ezike, is now fully in the saddle as the Commissioner of Police. He formally took over from his predecessor, Mr. Samuel Adegbuyi, at the state police command headquarters, Benin City, on Sunday, September 6.

TheState Government-owned Nigerian Observer, from which this story was sourced, said about Ezike’s exploits in fighting cultism in Edo and kidnapping in Kogi state: “It will be recalled that no fewer than 96 suspected cultists including leaders of cult groups were arrested, paraded and charged to court in Edo following covert operation of the Chris Ezike-led IG’s Task Force.

“Also, in Kogi State, a politician along with 44 others suspected to have connection with

kidnapping, armed robbery and other violent crimes were apprehended by the special squad.

COMPOL Chris Ezike has also headed the IG’s Monitoring Unit of the Police Counter-Terrorism Investigation Unit.”

Shortly after a brief handover ceremony, COMPOL Ezike stated: “Our job is nomadic; you move from place to place so what has just happened today is a part of a process of knowing Nigeria and re-engineering Nigeria.”

On the task at hand Ezike, who is the 35th CP to serve in Edo, said: “We shall rediscover Edo State, interact with our officers, all non-state actors, the people of Edo State, small, big, male, female and then move the state forward. The whole essence is to have a more secure, a more peaceful Edo State for better prosperity.”

•Photo shows new Edo State Police Commissioner, Chris Ezike.