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Army rekindles Hope of Kogi residents with harvests of arrests of criminals

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Army rekindles Hope of Kogi residents with harvests of arrests of criminals

By John Akubo

Residents of Kogi Central have been living in fear ever since it was reported that Bokoharam presence was right in their neighborhood.
Their fear was heightened when the group started manifesting in many kidnap of residents and attack on a police station that left two police officers and two other civilians dead.
Members of the Ebira Peoples Association (EPA), the umbrella body of all Ebira people at home and in the Diaspora, had expressed serious concerned over the rampant cases of mindless killings, kidnappings, robberies and other violent crimes that have come to define every day life in our state.
However, the recent exploits and harvests of suspected bokoharam/kidnap kingpins by security agencies in Kogi Sate became a soothing balm of some sort as it calmed the nerves of many who believed the security agents were being overwhelmed.
Criminal activities ranging from kidnap of passengers on transit to the killing of policemen at a police station in the central senatorial district of the State have been reported.
Happening in the Governor’s senatorial district just as he was being conferred with an award on his achievements on security by the Inspector general of Police the citizens were apprehensive.
When last Wednesday the army paraded two suspected Bokoharam members and 15 others for various crimes the people heaved a sigh of relief as they expressed confidence in the security to save the situation.
The discovery has raised the concern over the need for people in the north central to beware and raise the ante in security consciousness since it has been established that there is the real presence of the bokoharam.
Barrister Suleiman Abdullahi who commended the security agencies for their resilience in daring the criminals and taking the fight to their hideouts, caution everyone in the State to be conscious especially now that the insurgence have relocated to the State.
The commander Army record Lokoja Brigadier Henry Ayamasaowei had paraded 2 suspected bokoharam members and 15 other kidnap gangs and armed robbery suspects who were arrested in a special operation.
He said the operation recorded a harvest of some of the kidnappers and terrorists that have been terrorising the State in recent weeks
Of particular interest were members of the bokoharam terrorists who had link with the recent attack on a police station in Ehika where two police officers were killed as the suspects were arrested with their sim cards.
One of the kingpin of the suspected kidnap/armed robbery gang Abdulazeez Isah confessed to have participated in two kidnap episode in Okene where they got ransom of N3m and on Adogo road where they got N2m respectively and a robbery outing where they got N100, 000.
He said his share in the first operation was N50000 and N10000 in the second operation.
Isah said they were five in their gang though the other three were at large.
The commander explaining further said they have been able to brake the bokoharam terrorist cell in Okene with amazing recoveries that included improvised explosive devises and other weapons with 71 rounds of life ammunition.
“Nineteen face hoods, and bokoharam shirt with Arabic inscription were among the exhibits recovered.”
Other exhibits recovered and displayed were fertilizer, aluminium powder for IED making, ammunitions with life rounds for 7.62, 71 rounds of life ammunitions, car and motorcycle keys as well as 19 face hoods.
He said in the last three weeks there has been massive resurgence of criminalities across the State essentially kidnapping armed banditry principally by Fulani bandits and a couple of cases of robbery.
According to him, “Within the period it became crystal clear that we have for sure elements of the bokoharam terrorist group. As a matter of fact we have very concrete evidence which has been collaborated by the arrest that we have made and some of the items that indeed show that bokoharam has significant presence in Kogi State.”
“We have been aware for some times that there have been some cells of the terrorist group in the State but I believe because of the defeat of the insurgency in the North East they have been scattered around the country and it appears as if quite a number of them have made their way into Kogi State.”
He said the successful operation is signal for them to know that there is no save haven for them in Kogi State.
“I want to place on record that all the security agencies in Kogi State had been working in harmony, we don’t want to have a security agency claiming credit over the others.
The Operations officer lieutenant Colonel Ayoola Said on the 10th of February after the suspected bokoharam attack in Okene where the Governor visited they were confronted with a Kidnap incidence in which one of the victims was killed on their return.
He said the effrontery prompted the commander to order for the forests in that area to be cleared imediately.
“The two Forests on the Left and right of the Lokoja Okene road should be cleared with immediate effect.”
He said on the 18th and 19th of February the troops conducted aggressive three front clearing operations to comb the rhombus front by road Zariagi-Oshokoshoko-Obajana-Kaba-Okene-Abobo-Itakpe-Osara-Ipeni and back to Obajana junction.
“The troops started the operation at Itakpe pushing towards Obajana while the second group commenced operation from crest area in between Obajana junction and Obajana pushed through Osara dam and the third group commenced from Okebuku along Kabba Obajana road.
He said the three troop continue to push forward causing confusion for the criminals and kidnappers hibernating in these areas.
“The criminals were put in disarray as the troops continued to push forward and some of the criminals who could not escape were arrested at Irekpeni forest with pump action and a Dane gun.”
According to him, another operation was launched in Okene which led to the arrest of some of the bokoharam kingpins,
Abdulazeez Isah from information received from an informant and his House was raided and two AK47 recovered from his house with some explosives and Improvised explosive device making machine, nineteen face masks, t-shirt with bokoharam inscription were recovered from his house. During interrogation he mention one his royal highness Alaji Tijani Abubakar as his sponsor and a raid was conducted on his residence and he fled before the troop could reach his house.
On further interrogation the suspect revealed that more exhibits could be recovered in his grand mother’s house at Urovoni, Adavi Local Government area and the troops moved in and conducted serious aggressive raid on the House where some weapons were recovered from the grandmother’s house, two additional AK47 with tear gas gun and IED making devises.
We recovered a number of phones, we recovered two sims and when they were put in the phones it turned out that the two sims were the sims belonging to two policemen that were killed at Eka.
He explained that the DSS was helping them to do further analysis on the number so that they can begin to screen the names.
The commander indicated that they recovered one application form for recruitment into the Nigerian army as processed by Abdulazeez.
He said his sponsor Baba Muslim I of Ebira land was the one that recruited him into the bokoharam sect in 2015.
According to the Ayola,
“Following a tip off, on the 18th of this month, the DSS operation team that work in conjunction with the military conducted a special operation at Abobo. The operation was conducted in the night in the forest behind Itakpe and three suspects were arrested, one of the suspects gave us a lead and it brought a harvest of three other kidnappers.
“One of the kidnappers is absent because he got a gun shot when he attempted to escape. Two other kidnappers involved in the kidnapping of two Sky Bank officials in December last year and a reverend Mother in Kogi east were also arrested.
He said, “One of the Bokoharam told us that the terrorists come to the market on market days to get stuff for their logistic requirements and incidentally the Friday was a market day.
“He told us the time to be 3pm so he said he can finger them if we go to the market so we went with the DSS in plain cloths true to his claim he was able to point out those three and we were able to pick them.” A Suspected kidnapper and criminal that was involved in the rescue of one of the Bokoharam terrorists that attacked DSS office was also among the suspects paraded.
The other groups are suspected armed robbers that were arrested one time or the other in Okene.
Governor Yahaya Bello in his response said criminals can only run but cannot hide in Kogi State.
“We are after them and we have started getting them we will not condone any act of criminality whether politically motivated or self decided.
“We will never relent in our effort to get them wherever they are hiding. Parents should call their wards to order, if you born a child ensure you train that child in a civilized way, this State has suffered so much and we are ready to arrest and prosecute anybody found to be indulging in criminal activities in the State.”
He however appealed to the people of the State to volunteer useful information to enable the security agents perform their functions.
“We have law against terrorism and kidnapping and we must enforce it. The houses where those criminals were arrested would be demolished.”

It would be recalled that minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed, had raised alarm over the existence of a cell of a Boko Haram affiliate – Muslim Brotherhood in Kogi state.
He said they were acquiring bomb-making chemicals and high-calibre weapons to perpetrate “acts of terror”, including attacks on banks, arms depots and prisons in the country.
Meanwhile in a related issue, the Ebira Peoples Association (EPA) has called on government to change its strategy in the on-going battle against mindless killings, kidnappings, robberies and other violent crimes in Kogi state.
Addressing the press on Tuesday, President-General of EPA) Dr. Musa Abdulrahman Adeiza outlined some of the urgent measures that are required to check insecurity in the state especially in Kogi Central Senatorial District.
He said “All police, soldiers and state security officers as well as para military Agent’s currently serving in Kogi Central should be redeployed immediately and be replaced with new ones. As a matter of fact, no security agent should spend more than six months in the area to avoid being thoroughly compromised as it is the case now.
He also suggested that “Governments should as a matter of urgency explore and support the possibility of integrating “Civilian JTF ” into the security system of the land to complement conventional security agencies.”
Outlining other measures, he said, “Both Federal & State Governments should make concerted efforts to reinforce and review security measures in terms of material, personnel and modus operandi in order to safeguard life and properties in Kogi Central.
“Security should be intelligence driven by interfacing with community leaders, Ward Heads, local vigilante groups, Hunters, farmers and other informants.
“There should be a coordinated operation to be professionally code named to smoke out criminal elements from their hideouts in homes, bushes, caves, hills, etc.
“Security surveillance should be on 24- hour duty across the land, instead of the present situation whereby most hotspots are left unmanned most hours of the day.
“Operational strategy to security matters should be proactive in approach rather than reactive methods to unravel already perpetrated damages.
He spoke on the alarming rate of insecurity and criminality in Kogi State, especially in Kogi Central Senatorial Zone.

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Features

Flood disaster: Kogi braces for another round of misery

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Flood disaster: Kogi braces for another round of misery

By John Akubo, Lokoja

Many victims of the 2012 flood disaster in Kogi State who are experiencing another round of displacement are apprehensive over a possible repeat of 2012 scenario, when many partås of the state and country were ravaged by floodwater.

As the ominous signs crystalise, the apprehension is palpable in the state because the tributaries of most small rivers in the northern axis, empty themselves into the River Niger and Benue at the confluence, in Lokoja.

At least 623, 690 displaced persons were accommodated in 87 camps across the state during the last flood disaster. And six years after, the continuous rise of water levels is forcing many residents that live close to the riverbanks to relocate as their houses are already submerged.

According to the Executive Secretary, Kogi State Emergency Management Agency, Alhassan Ayeggba, by the last count, about 45, 000 persons have been displaced, and are camped in various IDP camps across the state, aside from those who elected to put up with their relatives.

The absence of health facilities at the different camps, is already posing dire medical challenges to the IDPs who need medical attention. But matters recently got worse with the birth of three babies at the Koton Karfe IDP camp. Ayishat Zakeriya from Adamogu Community delivered a baby boy; Maryam Ishaq from Akpaku Village delivered a baby girl, and Sakinat Musa, also from Akpaku Village delivered another boy.

However, many in the state fear that the damage this year may be worse compared to that of 2012 should Camerounian authorities discharge water from the Lagdo dam.

At the moment, according to Ayegba, “the water level is 10.30 metres, and this has exceeded the normal level. The situation in Ibaji Local Council is worse as there are no high lands in the area, hence the people have been advised to move to the IDP Camp at Idah

The Secretary to the State Government Ayoade Arike Folashade, who was at the camp on a routine visit, donated food items, and cash to the victims and mothers of the newborn babies, as well as, commended them for the courage they displayed in the face of obvious challenge.

A youth leader at the camp, Abubakar Isah, appealed to the government to assist them as they have lost all their crops to the flood, while the meagre assistance they have received from public-spirited individuals “translates to a few bags of rice and cartons of Indomie Noodles.”

Seidu Akowe, a victim of 2012 flood disaster at the Lokoja IDP camp, was forced out of his home at midnight six years ago without picking any property. This time around, he said he moved to the IDP hostel in Lokoja when his house was overtaken by floods to avoid losing all his belongings.

Another victim, Hajia Meimuna Akawo, who recalled that in 2015, many organisations were showing support to displaced persons in camps, said this time around, apart from very few individuals, including the Commissioner for Environment, Sanusi Yahaya, who gave them two bags of rice and water tanks, the IDPs were starving.

She also said the sanitation situation has become deplorable, even as she fears the outbreak of an epidemic.

Lending credence to the people’s fears of a likelihood of the 2012 flooding, NEMA’s Director of Planning, Research and Forecasting, Mr. Vincent Owan, while on a recent visit to the state advised residents of flood plains to immediately move upland or to the state’s IDPs hostel at the Flood Estate, built by the Governor Idris Wada-administration.

According to him, “My first impression is that the flood situation is quite devastating for the fact that all the indices that manifested during the 2012 flood disaster are here with us today, except for the release of water from the Lagdo dam. Most of the people that have been affected by the flood today have been relocated to higher grounds particularly the IDP hostels at the former Governor Wada Flood Housing Estate.

“We are going collaborate extensively with Kogi State government to ensure that displaced persons are well catered for. I have communicated with the director general of NEMA, and very shortly you will feel the presence of the agency in the state,” the NEMA chief stated.

He also called on the state government to ensure that SEMA discharges its statutory function before seeking external help.

“When incidents like these happen, state governments just run cap-in-hand to the Federal Government for assistance, but the Federal Government wants to see what the state has done before calling for external support.

“Once the Federal Government sees what the state has done and the efforts put in place, it will say okay, having seen what has been done in the face of the challenge that you are facing, which is beyond your coping capacity, the Federal Government will then come in with full force to support you.

According to him, SEMA should never be the type of government agency that should be running around looking for operational vehicles to use when emergencies occur, “and that is why we call for functional state emergency agencies that are fully empowered to ensure that they carry out their statutory responsibilities.”

The Environment Commissioner, Yahaya, who noted that the water level was not receding, equally appealed to residents of “flood-prone areas to move to higher grounds immediately because we don’t know when the water from the Lagdo Dam would be released. When it is released the situation may be worse than the 2012 flood disaster.”

The Director of Engineering Hydrology, Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NHSA), Abuja, Clement Nze, who recently described the state as the “headquarters of flood in Nigeria,” said the meeting of two major rivers to form a confluence in the state makes the flood disaster in the state worse when it happens.

While on an assessment tour of areas so far affected by flood in the state, Nze said the state’s peculiar disposition was the reason why the agency was more interested in what is happening in Lokoja.

“We are measuring downstream of River Niger and River Benue and taking the reading there everyday to make comparisons with the past.

“On September 29, 2012 it was 12.84m and we have about three more weeks to September29, 2018. So, if the rise continues as it is going now, the situation might be worse. Yesterday, the difference between the water level to the highest in 2012 was 2.7m, today it has narrowed to 2.59m, tomorrow it might be 2.5m moving to meet up with the value of 2012 that was so critical 12.84m,” he said.

He recalled that in the Nigerian Meteorological Agency Seasonal Rainfall Predictions release in March this year, the agency said “that the earliest time rain will seize in the northern part of Nigeria, including Sokoto and Katsina is September 28, which means we still have about three weeks or thereabouts of rainfall, but in the southern coastal cities it would be around December.”

“Going by this record and most of the flooding that occur between July, August and September, the period of heavy rainfall in the northern parts of Nigeria is here. We are expecting that the rains will continue and the water levels will continue to rise.”

“The safety net that we have now is that Camerounian authorities have not released any water from the Lagdo dam yet,” he stated, adding that the flooding that has been taking place in Adamawa, Benue, Taraba are caused by water from rivers in Nigeria because there are many of them that are feeding into River Benue and River Niger.”

Called from the Guardian

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CAN in Kogi joins national protest

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CAN in Kogi joins national protest

The day of prayer and protest declared by the national the Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN) was observed in Kogi state yesterday.

Though the protests were marked in low key as it was restricted to each churche premises in the state, members displayed placards to express their displeasure with the ongoing killings across the country.

The leadership of CAN in the state had written to the blocks in the chapter on the mode that the protest was expected to take.

The Kogi state chairman of th body Bishop John Ibenu, told newsmen after the protest in his church in Lokoja, that the protests were peaceful in the state.

He however said there was the need for the federal government to set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission over the menace of herdsmen attacks in the country.

Ibenu said, “It is a national day of prayer and protest, Christians don’t protest, if we have to that means the issues have reached the peak, we spent time to pray for the nation and Kogi state and also for the future, Kogi state CAN in obedience to the directive of national CAN observed the day in our church premises

“In the process of protesting we should also keep the peace and stability of the nation and that is why we said it must be within the church premises because we want to do the best that we can to bring down the tension number two we want governance to go beyond promises tp practicality.

“The killings have continued unabated and it has been taken to the church, there were no grasses for cattles to eat in the church when the Fulanis invaded the church and killed worshippers, so what has started on the farm came to the village and has entered the church.

“Government must act to make sure that this was not something aimed at the church but started in the farm, we are being proactive by calling for attention before it degenerate, we do not want to be pushed to a point where we will start using the pulpits to tell everyone to look for available arm to defend themselves”.

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NAOS Election:Jacob emerges new President

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NAOS Election:Jacob emerges new President

Comr. Abraham Damilare Jacob, a student of Kogi State University (KSU), an indigene of Mopa-Amuro Local Government Area of Kogi State, has been elected as the National President of the National Association of Okun Students (NAOS) 2017/2018 Session.

The election which was conducted during the National Association of Okun Students 2017/2018 National Convention on Sunday in Aiyekunle-Gbede, also produced other National Excos of the association in a free, fair and peaceful environment.

A statement by the Secretary of the Electoral Committee, 2017/2018 NAOS National Convention, in Lokoja, Comr. Prime Abubakar, said that the NAOS 2017/2018 National Convention was a huge success.

“As a law abiding citizens of Okun Nation, we followed due process as regards the earlier announced security threat alert from the Chief Security officer of Ijumu Local Govnment (Host Local Government).

“This caused a little set back as against the planned time for the Convention, as the Electoral Committee, The President and Senate President had to put in the necessary measures for a free, peaceful and fair Convention/Election Process.

“We appreciate all delegates who represented each Local Government Areas for their cooperation and resolution to remain Law abiding as they all exercised their fundamental right to cast their votes.

“Distinguish Naosites both at home and diaspora, permit me to introduce the 2017/2018 National Excos of Okun Students:

“National President- Comr. Abraham Damilare Jacob, From Mopa-Amuro Local Government and a Student of Kogi State University; National Senate President- Comr. Oloruntoba Mosses Juwon from Kabba/Bunu Local Government.

“National General Secretary- Comr Aiyenigba Mercy from Ijumu Local Government

“National Deputy Senate President – Comr. Leke Nihi also from Ijumu, a student of Federal University of Technology Minna.

“All other offices will be announced in due time just before their official inaguration”,
Abubakar said.

He appreciated the presence of all Past National Presidents and Senate Presidents, all representatives of National Youth Council of Nigeria, National Association of Kogi State Students, and all other stakeholders, who had ensured maximum decorum and due process was followed.

In his acceptance speech, the President-elect of NAOS, Comr. Abraham Damilare Jacob, said: “I must as an individual return all glory and thanks to God almighty for granting me the victory”.

Jacob expressed appreciation to His Excellency, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, the Executive Governor of Kogi State, and the Speaker Kogi State House of Assembly Rt. Hon. (Prince) Matthew Kolawole.

The Special Adviser to the Governor on youth Empowerment, Sports and Student’s Affairs- Hon. MD Eseyin, Hon Taufiq Isa, the Administrator of Ijumu LGA, who doubled as Kogi ALGON Chairman, other LG Administrators from Mopamuro, Yagba East, Yagba West and Kabba-Bunu respectively.

He also thanked all the royal fathers from Okun Land, for making sure they had an enabling and peaceful environment for a wonderful election amidst all forms of perceived security threats.

He added: “You all have proven that Just like Kogi State is a home of peace, Okunland will always remain a peaceful land.

“NAOS is an association which serves as the umbrella that covers positive benefiting interests of Okun students, as it is enshrined in her constitution. Hence, the protection of the objectives, mission and visions’ statements becomes highly paramount.

“I promise I will not be part of those sugar-coated mouth leaders who will promise heaven and earth, but yet will never make a move to fulfil any. I do not believe in promises that are obviously mirage.

“I have stated clearly in my manifestos that I am only bringing Positive Rebirth, Reformation and Redefinition into NAOS. We can be sure of having Accountability, Credibility, Transparency, and Fair representations achieved as well .

“NAOS is not a one man business and as such, it requires the efforts of all and sundries. Therefore, all hands must be on deck if we must give a positive rebirth, reformation and redefinition of her purpose of existence.

“I want to seize this opportunity to appreciate all NAOSITES and other stakeholders, who gave me their support and encouragement across the length and breath of the state during the course of this struggle.

“I want to leave you at the bench of being the judge to judge me by my activities and achievements at the course of the commencement of our administration immediately after inauguration.

“May I state it categorically that Okun students will always stand firm to protect the interest of the state in as much as it will accelerate the development and growth of the state.

“We are responsible students, we must always be ready to be responsive to the state just like the state must also become responsive to us at our point of needs.

“The unity and progress must and will always remain our chants”.

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