Gov Zulum Emerges Pioneer Chairman for North East Govs Forum

As Govs Raise 11 point in communique In Maiduguri

By: Ali Musa Biu- Maiduguri

Governors in the northeast have unanimously elected Borno State Governor, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum as pioneer chairman of their forum, for a period of two years.

This was contained in a communique issued at the end of the forum’s second meeting which held in Maiduguri yesterday.

The meeting was attended by governors of Adamawa- Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri, Gombe- Mohammed Inuwa Yahaya, Borno- Prof Babagana Umara Zulum, Bauchi- Sen. Bala Mohammed, Deputy Governors of Taraba- Engr Haruna Manu and Yobe, Idi Barde Gubana.

The governors also agreed to make Maiduguri headquarters of their forum.

They agreed to hold their third meeting on November 7, 2020 in Yola, Adamawa state.

Northeast Governors raise 11 points in communique

Borno Governor and Chairman, Northeast Governors forum, Babagana Umara Zulum on Saturday night, read an 11-point communique issued at the end of the forum’s second meeting.

He said after the governors discussed
challenges facing the sub-region, they resolved as follows:

1. The Forum commends the effort of the Federal Government of Nigeria in fighting the insurgency. However, the Armed Forces should intensify effort to secure hard-to-reach areas in the region and ensure safe access to farm lands.

2. The Forum called on the Federal Government of Nigeria to ensure the deployment of state of the art military hard ware to the region.

3. The Forum recommends that the manpower deficit in the Nigerian Armed Forces should be bridged by allowing the Police to carry state of the art weapons where necessary and be provided with
strategic equipment like high velocity tear gas, trackers and Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC).

4. The Forum calls on the Federal Ministry of Water Resources to ensure that attention is given to recharging the Lake Chad from
National water bodies and strengthen the river basins in the sub region.

5. The Forum pledges to work together to foster regional integration, growth and development especially in exploitation of its oil and gas potentials, mineral resources, agriculture and industrialization.

6. The Forum called on the Federal Government to revoke selected roads contracts awarded by Federal Ministry of Works for years without progress and re-award same to more competent contractors and fund to ensure timely execution.

7. The Forum urged the Federal Government to ensure local content in the execution of the Mambila Hydro electric power project and other programmes of the North East Development Commission to ensure synergy with state governments.

8. The Forum supports the management and Board of the North East Development Commission and agreed to work together in producing comprehensive strategic Master Plan for the region that will ensure sustainable development.

9. The Forum affirmed its commitment to support the Federal Government agenda of transforming the Almajiri system with a view to strengthening both Islamic and western education as well as stopping street begging and prevalence of out of school children in the region as agreed by the Northern Governors.

10. The Forum also nominated Professor Babagana Umara Zulum, MNSE, mni, Executive Governor of Borno State as Chairman of the Forum for a period of two years and the Headquarters of the Forum
will be located in Maiduguri, Borno State.

11. The next meeting of the Forum comes up on November 7th 2020 in Yola, Adamawa State.

Plateau police alerts public on “one chance ” operators 

Raymond Gukas, Jos 

The Plateau State Police Command has alerted residents of a syndicates of criminals who uses commercial vehicles to rob the unsuspecting public. 

According to a press statement signed by the command’s spokesman, ASP Ubah Gabriel Ogaba, the operators pick unsuspecting commuters along the road, convey them to secluded places and dispossess them of their belongings, often at gun point or through the use of drugs and other weapons.

The mode of the operation of  the syndicate is by  commercial taxi, tricyclists or private vehicle and have been code named “one chance”

“They are not registered with any Road Transport Union; they use unregistered vehicles to operate outside designated Motor Parks”, he stressed.

It’s on this premise that the “Command wish to advise commuters to be carefully observant and endeavor to board vehicles at designated parks in the state as intelligence gathered revealed that these syndicates always station their unregistered vehicles with fake number plates at different points within the city center”, he added.

However, the Commissioner of Police Edward Egbuka has assured residents and members of the public of more deployment of Police personnel to enhance visibility/community policing across the state to combat crime generally.

Northern Youths Hint of Impending Defeat of Boko Haram

A group, Northern Youth Anti Corruption Ambassadors have hinted of impending defeat of the Boko Haram insurgents in the north east following the renewed onslaught championed by the Chief of Army Staff, Brig. Gen. Tukur Buratai.

According to the group, the position is based on credible sources in the theatre of operations in North-East Nigeria that suggest that some Boko Haram commanders have indicated interest to surrender and declare defeat as a result of the sustained heat the terrorists have been exposed to.

The Northern Youth Anti Corruption Ambassadors in a statement signed by its coordinator, Mallam Idris Dogo praised the patriotic zeal exhibited the nation’s military that has weakened the terror group to a point that they are now begging for soft landing.

The statement further explained that highly placed sources in the theatre of operations have have confided in the group that the intensified pressure mounted on the Boko Haram group has left the camp of the Boko Haram group in total disarray.

“We have it on good authority and can confirm that the past weeks have been very challenging for the Boko Haram group that has been trapped in their hideout after their daring attack on Sector 3 of Operation Lafiya Dole. Since then, from the time the Chief of Army Staff took over the operations of Operation Lafiya Dole, the tide has changed. It’s a battle of no return for the terror group with some top commanders realizing that the game is finally up, and seeking for escape roots”.

The group further citing its sources added that some top commanders of the group have severed ties with Abubakar Shekau and are primed to lead thousands of their fighters to surrender and declare an end to the hostilities.

“The tide has changed and barring any last-minute changes; commanders of Boko Haram who have ostensibly broken away from Abubakar Shekau will surrender and declare the war over as the Nigerian troops continue to advance towards them”, the statement noted.

It also disclosed that a staff of a nongovernmental organisation (NGO) operating in the region hinted that they have been receiving pseudo messages from unknown sources soliciting for assistance and forgiveness.

“We have been bombarded daily with messages we suspect are emanating from Boko Haram mostly in Arabic. Messages such as “be our mediator. We want food. We seek Allah’s forgiveness, and we are dying.”

“These messages have been constant in the past two weeks, and there is little that we canisbvvo since we do not know the source of the message. However, the general consensus is that something is happening in the Boko Haram camp that we are not privy to since we are not in the theatre of operation.

“We have also heard stories of Boko Haram wanting NGOs to act as mediators. However, I do not think my organization would want to get involved because we have been victims of the fangs of Boko Haram. As such, we are very distant from them.”

It was also gathered from reliable sources in the IDP camps that in recent weeks many women and children have been released and undergoing a medical checkup at the various IDP camps across Borno State.

“We have experienced an upsurge of women and children in our various camps. As we speak, most of the children are malnourished, and our health workers are doing everything possible to attend to them.”

When asked where the women and children came from, the source declined to comment. It directed our reporter to the Operation Lafiya Dole cantonment.

However, it was gathered that the women and children released were part of the bargaining deal; some top Boko Haram commanders entered with some international NGOs in return for a ceasefire from the Nigerian troops.

In a similar vein, a top military source confided in this medium that indeed the Boko Haram commanders have been releasing those held in their captivity to show the Military that they are serious in their demand in surrendering and ending the war.

“As we speak, the Military is taking note of the numbers that are being released from Boko Haram captivity. We are not carried away by this supposed act of benevolence from the Boko Haram commanders as they could be strategically releasing some of their trapped members, including themselves, the commanders.”

“The Chief of Army Staff has directed that there must be strict profiling of all those released, so any antics does not deceive us. We do not want to leave anything to chance that would jeopardize the efforts of the Chief of Army Staff who is personally leading the onslaught against the group.”

The source further added that the Chief of Army Staff had issued a directive to all the Sector commanders to ensure that the hostilities end as soon as possible and with the capture of Abubakar Shekau alive.

“We are intensifying efforts in our pursuit of Abubakar Shekau in line with the directive of the Chief of Army Staff. We are also ensuring that there are minimal casualties. On the issue of granting amnesty to the Boko Haram fighters that have denounced Abubakar Shekau. That is left for the political authorities to decide as I am not aware of any interest indicated by the Chief of Army Staff in this regard.”

COVID-19- Reps summon PTF, DG NCDC, Health Minister

The House of Representatives have summoned the Presidential Task Force (PTF), on COVID-19 to appear and brief it on May 5 on the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 Pandemic and its template for the intervention in all the states of the federation.

Also to appear before the House were Director-General, National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and Minister of Health.

This was sequel to the unanimous adoption of a motion of Matter of Urgent Public Importance by Rep. Ado Doguwa (APC-Kano) at the plenary on Tuesday.

Moving the motion earlier, Doguwa recalled that index COVID-19 case was reported on Feb. 27, 2020 in Nigeria and that the country had so far recorded 1,337 confirmed cases of the virus, 40 deaths and 255 recoveries.

Breaking : IPDI accuses NNS Delta of killing , indiscriminate shooting in communities

Doguwa said that the Federal Government had released N5 billion to NCDC to scale up capacity and strategise rapid response to the pandemic.

The Lawmaker expressed worry over the rising spate of unexplained deaths in Kano State in recent weeks, where 77 COVID-19 confirmed cases had been recorded.

According to him, Kano State being the most populated state of the federation, according to the National Population Commission has only one testing centre.

The lawmaker said that the centre had been shut down for about a week now, reportedly due to lack of some testing materials and reagents.

He expressed concern that Nigeria had so far tested 10,918 of its estimated 200 million population whereas Ghana, South Africa and Egypt with much lower population had tested 168,643, 100,622, and 90,000 of their people respectively.

Doguwa said that Nigeria currently has a capacity for 3,000 tests in a day whereas South Africa has nearly 10,000 tests capacity per day.

He said that Nigeria has only 15 testing centers one each in Kano, Sokoto, Borno, Kaduna, Plateau, Oyo, Osun, Edo, and Ebonyi State, two in the FCT and three in Lagos state.

“Conscious of the fact that whereas sample collection and transportation remain in a critical challenge in Nigeria’s fight against COVID-19.

“According to NCDC, Ghana has since engaged the services of drone technology in the delivery of samples to help save lives more quickly and drones also have the capacity to deliver test kits and personal protection equipment.

“Convinced of the urgent need to arrest the rising cases of unexplained deaths in Kano state and also scale up national response to the Coronavirus pandemic, including the establishment of at least one testing centre in every state of the Federation to save the nation from the grave scenario being witnessed in Kano State.

“Summon the DG NCDC, Honourable Minister of Health, and the Chairman of the Presidential Task force to appear before the House at plenary on Tuesday, May 5, 2020 to brief it on government’s response to the COVID-19 Pandemic and its template for the intervention in all the states of the Federation,’’ he said.

The House urged the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency and priority scale up the nation’s COVID-19 testing capacity.

The lawmakers urged the NCDC to adopt creatively proactive modern approaches and technologies in the management of COVID-19 pandemic

The green chamber called for the establishment of a testing centre in each Local Government Area of the Federation.

The lower chamber also recommended the inclusion of religious and traditional leaders in creating awareness in local communities.

In his ruling, the Speaker of the House, Rep. Femi Gbejabiamila approved an investigation into the immediate and remote causes of the unexplained huge number of deaths in Kano State.

COVlD-19: Edo Govt. records 29 confirmed cases, 3 deaths – Commissioner

Edo Government says the state has recorded 29 confirmed cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) with three deaths.

The state’s Commissioner for Health, Dr Patrick Okundia, disclosed this while addressing newsmen in Benin on Tuesday.

According to him, since the first outbreak of Coronavirus in the state, a total of 254 suspected cases has been tested as at yesterday, the 27th of April.

FG declares May 1 public holiday

“And in all of these, we have a total of 29 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 194 of these suspected cases has been confirmed negative.

“We have a case fatality rate of 10.3 per cent of the 29 confirmed cases we have with three deaths.

“So far, we have discharged eight persons. The total active cases that are currently under treatment in Edo is 18 and these are distributed as follows.

“We have nine of these cases in Stella Obasanjo hospital, three in University of Benin Teaching Hospital.

“While three are also receiving treatment in Irrua Specialist Teaching hospital, all our active cases are stable and they are responding to treatment.

“We want to also let you know that about 31 samples has been sent and results are still pending.

On his part, the state Deputy Governor, Mr Philip Shaibu, who doubles as the Chairman of the Coronavirus Response Committee, said that Gov. Godwin Obaseki was consulting with medical experts and other stakeholders in the state to reach a decision on new orders regarding the curfew.

FG declares May 1 public holiday

The Federal Government has declared Friday, May 1, 2020, as a public holiday to mark this year’s International Workers’ Day Celebration.

The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, made the declaration on behalf of the Federal Government in a statement by signed by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Georgina Ehuriah.

In the statement, Aregbesola commended Nigerian workers “for their resilience, patience and understanding, particularly in their support at stemming the spread of COVID-19”.

Aregbesola who further thanked Nigerians and the labour force for their “sacrifices in the present period of trial”, assured that their “commitment and patience will complement the efforts being made by Government and other stakeholders to ensure the speedy control of the virus”.

He said, “With the cooperation of every citizen, as well as strict adherence to the measures being put in place by relevant authorities, the challenges being faced by Nigerians as a result of the disease, would soon be put behind.”

The Minister added that “the economy of the country will rebound and be stronger after the COVID-19 experience, taking cognisance of the various economic stabilisation efforts by the Federal Government”.

Breaking : IPDI accuses NNS Delta of killing , indiscriminate shooting in communities

It’s a lie to discredit our crusade against illegal bunkering – Navy

WARRI:  Ijaw  Peoples Development Initiative , IPDI, has accused the Nigerian Navy of allegedly killing an Ijaw youth , Mr Danzu Michael when it invaded Benneth island in Warri south west local government area, Delta state  in search of crude oil theives   President of the body, Comrade Austin Ozobo in a letter addressed to the Chief of Naval Staff , CNS Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibasand made available to the Vanguard in Warri, Delta state  further alleged that men  from Nigerian Navy Ship,  NNS, Delta , Warri , Delta state carried the action, adding that they also shot sporadically at Salvation city community in the local government for several hours in the name of searching for oil thieves. .

Ozobo in the letter  alleged that the shooting at Salvation city community,  caused panic in the area as residents scampered for safety.

Meantime, when contacted the Commander, NNS Delta, Rear Admiral Ibrahim Dewu who spoke through the Base information officer Mr S. Bala  dismissed the allegation of the Ijaw group as lies, adding that they were meant to discredit effort of the Navy to rid communities of illegal bunkering activities.

He said men of the Navy from NNS Delta had always conducted its operations  in the most professional manner.   “Our operations at Benneth island had no casualty , we were also mindful of the environment.

FG’s palliative rice: PDP wants Kwara govt to test consumption fitness

We had no record of death during our operation ,” he said.   The Ijaw group on its part,  further  enjoined the Chief of Naval Staff to investigate its allegations against operations of  men of the NNS, Delta, pleading that those found wanting should be brought to book.   Continuing, it said no illegal bunkering activities occur in the communities.

“We wish to state that invasion of an entire community in the name of looking for alleged oil bunkers amounts to the violation of the fundamental right of members of the Salvation City Community.

Our Client is not against efforts to stop people who involve themselves in acts of criminality and are ready to work with security agencies in this respect. However, it is illegal for an entire community to be invaded in the name of looking for illegal oil bunkers.

If there are people who are alleged to have violated the laws of the land, the action should be directed at those people and not the entire or innocent members of the community.

Demand that your office, being a responsible organization should carry out a thorough investigation of the unlawful killing of Danzu Michael and frequent invasions of Salvation City Community by officers of NNS Delta and bring those officers to justice to act as deterrent to others in the future. “, the group said its letter to the CNS.

[BREAKING] 2020 budget: Senate approves Buhari’s N850bn loan request

The Senate has approved the N850billion loan request of the President, Muhammadu Buhari, which was read at the plenary on Tuesday.

The loan request is to finance projects in the 2020 budget.

The President had asked the Senate to approve N850 billion loan for the Federal Government to enable his regime to fund the 2020 budget.

The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, read the letter after a closed session with members when the red chamber resumes plenary on Tuesday.

Buhari, according to the official communication, is seeking the approval of the senate to raise a fresh loan of N850bn from the domestic capital market.

“COVID-19: Dellta lifts lockdown, face masks made compulsory” is locked

COVID-19: Dellta lifts lockdown, face masks made compulsory

The President said the loan would enable his government to adequately finance projects in the 2020 budget.

The Senators wore face masks in the chamber and they also maintained social distancing by keeping two seats between one another.

The President, in the letter, explained that the external borrowing would be made from the domestic capital market instead of the capital international market.

He added that the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, has been directed to provide further information that may be requested by the upper legislative chamber over the new external borrowing plan.

Details later…

COVID-19: Dellta lifts lockdown, face masks made compulsory

Delta State Government on Tuesday lifted the lockdown in the state while directing that social distancing should be maintained to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, in a statewide broadcast also directed the compulsory use of face masks in public places.

The governor declared, “As we gradually relax the restriction of movement, I must caution that it is not yet Uhuru; life, as we have known it, is still a long way off. We must, therefore, brace ourselves up to adjust to the new normal in all our personal, official, and business dealings going forward.

“As an administration, we remain irrevocably committed to doing everything necessary to protect the lives and property of citizens in the State, in addition to providing a safe and secure environment for them to pursue their dreams of success and happiness.

“In view of the foregoing, it has become necessary to partially lift the ban on movements within the State effective Thursday, 30th April 2020. This is to enable our people to engage in economic/business activities between the hours of 6am and 7pm. Security agencies will be on hand to ensure strict compliance with the time frame.”

According to the governor, the state borders will now remain open to only agricultural, petroleum, food, and other essential services.

Okowa added that religious worship centres remain closed and a new directive about their mode of operations will be issued in the coming days.

He further announced that tricycles otherwise called Keke are only allowed to carry two passengers at the back and public buses can only convey two passengers per seat to maintain proper social distancing.

he said, “While burials and weddings will be allowed, the social distancing rule (6ft apart) must be applied, and the number of guests/persons must not exceed 50.

“Our schools (public and private) remain closed until Sunday, 31st May 2020.

“Entertainment centres, including cinemas, bars and night clubs remain closed until Sunday, 31st May 2020.

“Restaurants/Canteens/Beer Parlours are to operate on a take-away basis while hotels will be allowed to open (with in-room dining) but their restaurants, bars and night clubs remain closed till further notice.

“While transport services (Keke, taxis, buses) are allowed to operate, the number of passengers shall be as follows: two persons at the back for Keke; one person at the front seat and two persons at the back for a taxi; 10-12 persons for a 16-seater/18-seater bus.

“Our airports remain closed to passenger traffic till further notice.

“I shall be meeting with our religious leaders on Thursday to chart the way forward for our places of worship. However, all crusades/conventions remain banned till further notice.

“For the public service, only workers on Grade Level 12 and above should resume work effective Thursday. This order does not apply to junior staff on essential/emergency duties.

“Workers with comorbidities identified by the Ministry of Health or its agencies can work from home. However, workplace protocols should be in place for disease surveillance/prevention, including screening, use of facemasks and social distancing.”

COVID-19: Group urges FG to provide food, essential commodities for IDPs, host communities

A network of women leaders and NGOs headed by women has called on the Federal Government to provide food and essential commodities for IDP shelters and host communities across the nation as palliative measures during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown.

The network, under the auspices of Women in Humanitarian Response in Nigeria Initiative (WiHRiNI), made this appeal in a statement signed by the National Coordinator, INSA Women Network, Ms Mimidoo Achakpa, on Tuesday in Abuja.

This followed the extension of 14 days lockdown by the government in FCT, Lagos and Ogun States due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) report as at 9.50pm April 13, confirmed 343 cases of COVID-19, 10 deaths and 91 discharged cases.

According to the statement,  the 2019-2021 Humanitarian Response Strategy for Nigeria estimates that over seven million people were affected by conflicts nationwide and were in need of food, protection and life-saving assistance, adding that the situation is further worsened by Coronavirus.

It further noted that COVID-19 pandemic has caused fear and anxiety amongst all, but more of economic hardship for majority of Nigerians who live through the days by daily earning.

“This situation has major adverse effect on Internally Displaced People across the country and in particular those residing in unrecognised/unregistered camps further reducing the dignity of indigent women, men and children, hampering their already limited access to vital resources including food and water.

“While the IDPs depend on interventions from government, INGOs, NGOs, etc, and other philanthropists some of them, mostly the men take up jobs including hawking and other menial jobs to at least always have food to eat to meet their basic obligations especially for those with their families.

NGO wants FG to compel DSTV, telecoms to cut charges

“The women on the other hand, suffer increased human rights abuse as they face pressure such as demand for sex for food and other legitimate amenities and also have other responsibilities to cater like children’s education, health suffer, to mention a few.

“We appeal to the federal government to prioritise distributing relief to the IDPs even as we call for immediate assistance of food items and other relief materials to them, in the instance of this lock down and no access to menial jobs that some of them engage in,” it added.

The group, however  lauded the federal government Conditional Cash Transfer Scheme and the release of 46,000 metric tons of rice, 36,495 kegs of vegetable oil, and other items valued at N3.2 billion by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to ameliorate the sufferings of Nigerians in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.

Our Correspondent reports that the network consists of Women’s Right to Education Programme (WREP), Oasis Restoration Foundation, WANEP-Nigeria, IANSA Women Network Nigeria.

Others are Kebetkache Women Development Centre, Gender and Environmental Risk Reduction Initiative, FOMWAN Gender Equality, Peace and Development Centre and Allamin Foundation for Peace and Development.

WiHRiNI network was created to bring together women humanitarian leaders involved in humanitarian/emergency response to enhance strategic collaborations and information sharing for an effective, better coordinated, timely and principled humanitarian response in Nigeria.