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Herdsmen killings: Kogi voters threaten ‘reprisal’ for insensitive leaders come 2019

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Herdsmen killings: Kogi voters threaten ‘reprisal’ for insensitive leaders come 2019

By John Akubo, Lokoja

The brutal killings of innocent Nigerians by suspected Fulani herdsmen may have grave implications on how the electorate cast their votes in 2019 elections.
The same electorate that voted overwhelmingly for President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate in Kogi State with high hopes and great expectations said they would no longer be cajoled with sweet electoral promises only to be left at the mercy of Fulani herdsmen.

Some political analysts fear there might be no 2019 or Nigeria after all, if Fulani herders’ rampage and wanton killings are not checkmated

The death toll from the killings across the country has continued to rise, as government and security agencies seem overwhelmed and bereft of ideas on how to tackle the situation.

The affected victims in Kogi State are now waiting for 2019 elections to respond in kind to leaders that have failed them when they were needed the most.

They have resolved to use their PVCs to save their people from further massacre, now that they have finally realised that the authorities don’t have their safety in mind.

Read More: Three persons feared killed in fresh Plateau violence

Their grouse is predicated on the fact that they voted for the ruling party, APC, both at the national and state levels, only for their fortunes to get diminished more than ever. They have been left to lick their wounds in attacks that made them lose more than 50 of their loved ones.

This time, the killings have dampened the hope of better days ahead, as the fear of Fulani herdsmen is the beginning of wisdom. They can no longer go to their farms for fear of being attacked.

The people, who depend solely on yields from their farms to make a living, are now gripped by fear of hunger and starvation, occasioned by their inability to harvest their crops, most of which are being destroyed by the herders, who have occupied their farmlands and even appropriated the foodstuff they stored for rainy day.

When The Guardian visited Ogane-Nigwu, in Dekina local government area and Ojuwo-Ajomaigbi, in Bassa local government area of the state, most of the communities numbering about eight were ghost towns.

The people were said to have fled their communities to Anyigba, Etutekpe and Ikpakpala and Ologba, all in Dekina local government areas and Ikende in Bassa local government after the attacks. The survivors still think they are in a dream world, and praying that they wake up soon.

The attackers, numbering over 500 arrived in boats on Wednesday at Ogane-Nigwu and opened fire on the people, while burning their homes. A resident said the attack might not be unconnected with a 2015 disagreement that led to the death of four Fulani men and unspecified number of cows.

He narrated how the herdsmen used to undermine the natives by feeding their animals with their farm produce. There were even allegations that the herders used to harvest their cashew nuts, which they took to market for sale, until the natives started asking them how they came about the nuts, when they didn’t own any plantation.

It was gathered that this was what caused the altercation in 2015, leading to the death of four Fulani men in Ogane-Nigwu. The fear of a reprisal attack in the areas affected the 2015 governorship election, as people in eight polling units did not come out to vote.

This was one of the reasons for the supplementary election in the 2015 governorship that created the opportunity for APC to impose Governor Yahaya Bello on the state after the death of its standard bearer, Prince Abubakar Audu.

The survivors told The Guardian gory stories of their ordeal in the hands of their assailants. Aside from slaughtering those that could not be killed by gunshot, the invaders also looted the community and carted away not fewer than 47 motorcycles belonging to the victims, their foodstuffs, as well as destroyed their farms, especially cashew plants.

And because of the incident, women and children had to be moved to safer locations. This happened just as the state governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, said his administration would set up a judicial panel of inquiry to look into the attacks by the “armed bandits.”

Analysts, however, took on the governor, describing his comments as nauseating. They wondered how such a panel would be of any help. They asked rhetorically whether he expected the Fulani herdsmen or their victims who are in their graves to appear before the panel.

They equally expressed concern over the governor’s penchant for referring to the Fulani attackers as armed bandits. They laid the blame for the killings squarely at the governor’s doorstep, since he had earlier thrown open the borders for Fulani herders to come in.

They expressed disappointment that despite Operation Cat Dance in Kogi and other North central states, the killings have continued unabated, as the suspected herdsmen operate freely with no counter attack, particularly in Kogi State.

When The Guardian visited the affected areas, it was gathered that the survivors returned after three days to bury their dead in the company of security operatives.

Speaking with newsmen during Bello’s visit to the community in Ojuwo-Ajomaigbi, a survivor, Reuben Usman, said the herdsmen invaded the community at about 7am and rounded them up shooting and killing any one in sight.

He explained that the assailants, who were dressed in black clothes (Jalabia), invaded the community with sophisticated weapons and started shooting sporadically, while setting houses on fire.

Sumaila Okpanachi, another villager, said they were informed that the herders were camped in a nearby forest for over one week, which prevented them from going to their farms to harvest cashew nuts.

He explained that the Bassa people in their midst were also targeted, as the Fulani herdsmen accused them of leaking their secrets to the natives. So, they also fled. He said the security operatives are camped in a primary school far away from where the attacks occurred.

While addressing men of the Nigerian Army from 913 battalions drafted to the communities, Bello said he would set up a judicial commission of inquiry to investigate the attack.

The governor said he would not fold his arms and allow Fulani herdsmen to wipe out people of the communities. “As a government, we will as much as possible comfort the families, Igala kingdom and the entire Kogi State. It is most unfortunate,” he said.

But the Audu/Faleke Political Organisation condemned the killings of people of Ogane-Nigwu and Aloko in Dekina and Bassa local government areas of the state. A statement signed by Hon. James Abiodun Faleke described the killings of over 25 people in those communities and destruction of houses as the height of wickedness. “The news came to us as a shock. What? Can we ever equate cows with human lives? How did we come to this sorry pass as a people,” the statement queried.

The group said the duty to prevent further escalation of the crisis rests squarely on the state.

Faleke called on the Bello administration, which gave Fulani herdsmen a blank cheque to operate in Kogi State to urgently act and draw the attention of Miyetti Allah leadership to the wicked assault on Kogi people.

He urged Bello to also rally the various security organisations to action.

“We find it difficult to believe the statement credited to the government after the attack, which said ‘the attack was politically motivated,’ instead of being bold enough to accept responsibility for its failure.

We have lived with Fulani in our various communities since times past and never had cause to fight them.

We are, therefore, appealing to the original peaceful Fulani people living in our midst to be more accommodating and volunteer information to security agencies on the invaders and criminals parading themselves as Fulanis,” the statement said.

“How can the state government set up a judicial panel, when investigations are still ongoing to unravel and arrest perpetrators of the heinous crime? We sincerely hope this is not another opportunity to witch-hunt perceived political enemies.

“We are aware that the government bought over 300 handsets for some of its political informants to give information to it on any body or group discussing or found to be speaking ill against government in all the 21 local governments.

We advise that those informants be used to help track herdsmen’s movements and not peaceful Kogites.”

The Statement called for sustained vigilance by the people and advised that any suspicious movements or activities should be promptly reported to security agencies. It called for support from well meaning Nigerians and agencies for relief materials for displaced members of the communities.

The state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) also said Bello’s open invitation to the rampaging herdsmen and setting up of cattle colonies without adequate security measures brought about the killings.

In a statement signed and issued by Achadu Dickson, director of Research and Documentation, the party said the governor should explain his role in the killings, following his invitation to herdsmen and ceding of some land in the state for the establishment of cattle colonies, even though the people were against it.

“The PDP condemns in strong terms the gruesome murder of innocent citizens by the herders. Their action has vindicated the party’s position from the onset that Bello’s action of establishing cattle colonies was an invitation to anarchy.”

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Zamfara Gov sympathises with NUJ over fire outbreak

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Zamfara Gov sympathises with NUJ over fire outbreak

Following the recent fire outbreak at the Press Centre on the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Zamfara chapter in Gusau, Governor Bello Matawalle of the State has sent his sympathy to the leadership of the Union

Suspected hoodlums had set 10 shops belonging to the NUJ Secretariat in Gusau on fire on Tuesday
Describing the incident as unfortunate during a visit to the NUJ Secretariat in Gusau on Friday, Matawalle said he identified with journalists as partners in progress.
Speaking through his his Deputy Chief of Staff, Dr Bashir Maru, he said he would align with media practitioners on issues that affected them.

“I am using this medium to symphatise with the NUJ leadership and entire working journalists in the state over this unfortunate incident,’’ Matawalle said.

According to him, the state government would renovate all the affected shops and assist the victims.

Matawalle charged the NUJ leadership in to always do thorough credibility check on persons that would apply for business spaces in their shops.

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NUJ Zamfara chair debunks change of baton news, says he remains in charge

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NUJ Zamfara chair debunks change of baton news, says he remains in charge

The Nigerian Union of Journalists, Zanfara State  Chapter, has drawn the attention of the general public to a fake letter allegedly being circulated on social media that the NUJ Chairman Abdulrazak Bello Kaura from Pride FM Gusau has been transfered to Royal FM Sokoto.

The purported statement which was signed by the chapter’s Assistant secretary Nasiru Shehu Aula Dabbakal and was made available to the NationalUpdate in Abuja, earlier, had announced a change of Baton in the leadership of the State council of the union.
The statement had indicated that by the announcement the vice chairman Comrade Bello Muhammad Boko would serve as acting chairman pending a by-election that will bring in a new and substantive chairman.

The NIJ chairman Abdulrazak Bello Kaura
in his rebuttal of the statement  that was also made available to the NationalUpdate on Sunday in Abuja indicated that, “In the first instance the transfer is fake or a failed attempt by saboteurs and enemies of the profession and not political Union.
“During an illegal and deceptive meeting called by Assistant Secretary of the Union, members of the Union were threatened that the state government has directed them to address them and informed them about the purported transfer and decision to pick my vice, who I have had a good working relationship with to act as chairman.

“The arranged transfer by some elements who feel my position as the state Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Zamfara State Council was blocking their chances to use the Union for their selfish interests to achieve their agenda has failed.

He said the fake letter being circulated by his secretary attracted the attention of concerned personalities and his humble self.

He therefore decided to set the record straight saying,
“I’m a staff of Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, Radio Nigeria Kaduna National Station, posted to Radio Nigeria Pride FM Gusau, a dedicated staff and peace-loving with appetite and curiosity to improving the journalism profession.

“It should be noted that the management of the FRCN has realized that it was orchestrated.

“It also should be noted that nobody served me with any transfer letter, not even verbally till this moment.

“It was a senior colleague on the 3rd of February, 2021 that drew my attention to a letter being circulated on New Media platforms, addressed to me but not served, that I have been transferred to Royal FM Sokoto.
“I quickly called my General Manager to confirm and he said he was unaware of such a transfer. 
“The Council Secretary, Malam Abubakar Ahmed, also called him for confirmation but the answer from my GM was also a ‘No.’
“I later realized that it was a contract by a former DG Press Affairs, who was seen lobbying NUJ members to support his move to unseat me.
“He was seen sharing money and pleading with them to do the “needful.” This was reported to me by some good Samaritans.

“Let me make it clear that I’m still a staff of FRCN Pride FM, Gusau and the substantive Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Zamfara State Council who was elected in March, 2019 for a tenure of 3 years or 2 tenures of six years if reelected in the next election coming up in the next 13 months.
“Even if the transfer is true, the NUJ Constitution is clear about it in Article 6 (8)(9) and I quote: “If any officer retires or becomes unemployed, he shall be allowed to continue in office for six months after which if he is still unemployed and his case is not of such that the Union is fighting for his re-instatement, he shall cease to hold office and the post shall be filled through a bye-election.” However, he indicated that the rule does not apply in cases of acts of misconduct and criminal offences.’l
“An elected officer of the union who may have to be away for a period of two years, shall resign his office.
“The vacant office shall be filled in accordance with Article 6(8) of this Constitution.
10. No member of the union shall hold any particular office.”

With all the aforementioned provisions of the NUJ Constitution, he said the desperation blinds those behind the charade from seeing the truth and justice.

“I have never been faulted either by the SWC, SEC nor the Congress for any irregularity which made them to lose focus on where to start the contract they signed with politicians to unseat me as the elected Chairman of the NUJ Zamfara state Council.

For more clarifications, our Zonal Office sent a letter to the General Manager, Pride FM Gusau suspending the earlier transfer letter circulated on Social Media platforms by some unscrupulous elements (copy attached)

Another unfortunate disgrace to the NUJ and indeed its members he said was an unethical shameful announcement of the purported transfer on Zamfara Radio for two Days despite the notice debunking the transfer that was made availlable to the Chairman and the Manager News of the Radio Station.
“Their frequent live announcements misinforming the public that I have been transferred to Sokoto and my Vice was nominated in acting capacity was unethical.
He called on the National Broadcasting Commission; Nigeria Press Council; Civil Society Organisations and other relevant stakeholders as well as all well wishers of the NUJ and Journalism profession to intervene.

The National Leadership of our professional Union is at present working on the issue and I believe they will do justice to the matter as guided by the constitution and subsequently will met iutdeal sanctions on those working to mar the unity and integrity of the Union.

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Zamfara NUJ State Council announces change of baton in its leadership

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Zamfara NUJ State Council announces change of baton in its leadership

The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Zamfara State chaper has announced a change of Baton in the leadership of the State council of the union.
By the announcement the vice chairman Comrade Bello Muhammad Boko will serve as acting chairman pending a by-election that will bring in a new and substantive chairman.
The announcement was contained in a statement that was signed by the chapter’s Assistant secretary Nasiru Shehu Aula Dabbakal which was made available to the NationalUpdate in Abuja on Monday.
The statement indicated that
following the recent transfer of the council chairman, Comrade Abdulrazak Bello Kaura from Pride FM, Gusau, Zamfara state to Royal FM, Sokoto in Sokoto state, it became necessary to effect constitutional adjustments to avoid any vacuum.

The union assured the good people of Zamfara of a cordial working relationship .

The union also expressed its appreciation to the Governor of the State, Bello Matawallen, the Maradun Shatiman Sokoto for his support to members of the union.
The statement stressed that the union will continue to support the Matawalle-led administration especially in the fight against armed banditry through his peace accord and dialogue initiative.

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