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Kidnapped Kaduna schoolchildren taken to locations difficult to get to, not out of reach – Defence Headquarters

The Defence Headquarters has revealed that the 287 students who were kidnapped last week from a school in Kuriga, Kaduna State, are being held in isolated locations, making it challenging for rescue efforts.

Despite this, the troops are working tirelessly to secure their safe return.

According to the headquarters, the abduction of the students was a strategic move by the perpetrators to use them as shields and deter any potential air or ground attacks.

Director of Defence Media Operations, Major General Edward Buba who made this known on Thursday, pointed out that following the depletion of several terrorists gangs in troop’s offensives, the terrorists may also be planning on recruiting new foot soldiers hence the abduction of young students and children.

“We have depleted their ranks, neutralized many of their commanders and foot soldiers. The terrorists exhibited gross cowardice by going after children.

“We have taken their Commanders out. We recently acquired new air platforms to further decimate them. They know we mean business. It is to protect themselves that they went after the students. But we will not rest until all the kidnapped victims are rescued,” he said.

Gen Buba however stated that it took more than six hours after the students were abducted for the information to get to security agencies before machinery was commenced for the rescue efforts.

“As in every war, there are complexities and ours is no exception. Recently, cases of citizens being abducted in the North East, North West and North Central theatres of operations were recorded.

“These citizens were abducted by a brutal and blood tasty group that should only be addressed as tettorists not bandits. I repeat, these are terrorist and not bandits.

“They are holding these citizens against their will and against all norms of human behaviour, and against the laws of armed conflict and any good measure in the world.

“Several of their leaders and commanders have been neutralised as a result of troops onslaught. They want to use these hostages as human shield for their survival. Nevertheless, be assured that we will not rest until the hostages are returned.

“No doubt, this is a difficult situation, but not one that is insurmountable. “The hostage situation is an extremely sensitive one which unfortunately is not unprecedented in the history of the ongoing war.

“These hostages are being held in locations that are difficult to get to, but not out of reached.

“The situation is however indicative of the desperation of these terrorists to avoid troops onslaught by all means.

“Recall that in recent times troops have decimated several of the terrorists leaders, commanders and foot soldiers and fast closing in one several others.

”These terrorists have exhibited cowardice by going for such soft targets to impede troops advances. I assure you that we will not rest until they are returned.

“Given the hostage situation, it can be deduced that the search and rescue effort was grossly affected by the none timely notification of troops of the incident. Nevertheless, I can assure you that we will not rest until these hostages are returned.

“However, because of the sensitivity of the matter, I can not go into further details as to signs of life, location, and the different options that we have in order to get these hostages back.

“Let me further assure that, getting these hostages back is very clearly on the top of our priorities. It is for this reason we have leveraged on our international partners for support.

“Accordingly, they are providing the necessary support including intelligence that is giving us the advantage in dealing with the ugly situation,” he explained.

On operations to rid criminal elements across the country, he said troops in the last one week neutralised 213 terrorists, Kidnappers, bandits and arrested 216 of them.

Troops also arrested 67 perpetrators of oil theft and rescued 26 kidnapped hostages. Troops in the Niger Delta area discovered and destroyed 65 illegal refinery sites, 150 dugout pits, 105 cooking ovens, 30 boats, 73 storage tanks, 209 drums and 15 vehicles.

Troops recovered 1,227,470 litres of stolen crude oil, 313,780 litres of illegally refined AGO and 13,000 litres of PMS, thereby denying the oil theft of the sum of over N1.55billion (N1,558,665,080.00).

Buba said that following the various encounters, troops recovered 189 assorted weapons and 4,003 assorted ammunition comprising 111 AK47 rifles, G3 rifle, 31 locally fabricated guns, 5 pump action guns, automatic pump action guns, 26 Dane guns, 4 locally made double barrels, 2 fabricated pistols, RPG bomb and IEDs (OGBUNIGWE).

Detailing the operations, he said, “In the North East, On 3 March 2024, troops received information from coordinator Borno State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) about suspected abduction of unknown number of IDPs by suspected terrorists in Gamboru Ngala LGA of Borno State.

“Preliminary investigation revealed that IDPs left camp to undisclosed location to fetch firewood beyond the permissible distance.

“They reportedly did not notify the camp authorities of their movement. It was later at about 8pm at night, when the IDPs did not return to camp that alarm was raised as to their possible abduction by terrorists.

‘It was at that stage that troops were notified of the incident. The standard practice was for troops to be notified prior to any movement of IDPs beyond the permissible distance of 5-7 kms from their camp.

“The IDPs reportedly went beyond the permissible distance to get firewood as a result of deforestation around their camp. The terrorists abducted 112 IDPs in the process. Nevertheless, effort is ongoing to get back the hostages,” he emphasised.

He added that “troops of Operation Hadin Kai neutralized 70 terrorists and arrested 23 BH/ISWAP terrorists.

“Troops recovered one G3 rifle, 50 AK47 rifles, 8 fabricated guns, one dane gun, 4 locally made double barrel, 1,012 rounds of 7.62mm special ammo, 243 rounds of 7.62mm NATO, 20 empty cases of 7.62mm ammo, 13 motorcycles, 9 mobile phones, and the sum of N628,000.00 amongst others.

“In the North West, he said, ‘troops of Operation Whirl Punch neutralized 17 insurgents, arrested 42 violent extremists/terrorists and rescued 9 kidnapped hostages.

‘Troops recovered 11 AK47 rifles, 4 fabricated guns, 2 Dane guns, 2 short gun cartridges, 176 rounds of 7.62mm special ammo, 97 rounds of 7.62mm NATO, 10 empty cases of 7.62mm ammo, 7 magazines, 3 motorcycle and 3 mobile phones amongst others.

“Troops of Operation Hadarin Daji neutralised 26 terrorists and rescued 15 kidnapped hostages. Troops recovered 22 AK47 rifles, 2 locally fabricated guns, 5 Dane guns, 390 rounds of 7.62mm special ammo, amonsgt other items.

“Troops recovered one fabricated rifle, one Dane gun, 185 rounds of 7.62mm special ammo, 23 rounds of 7.62mm NATO and 6 empty cases of 7.62mm ammo amongst other items.

“Troops of Operation Whirl Stroke neutralized 7 violent extremists and terrorists and arrested 2 violent extremists.

“Troops recovered 2 locally fabricated guns, 5 dane guns, 74 rounds of 7.62mm NATO and 2 motorcycles amongst others.

“On 6 March 2024, troops responded to information on illegal mining activities and made contact with violent extremists in Gwagwalada Area Council of FCT Abuja. Following a fire fight, troops neutralised 2 insurgents and recovered 2 mining equipments.

“On 7 March 2024, following report, troops raided a violent extremists/drug peddlers hideout in Kuje Area Council of FCT Abuja. During the operation, troops arrested 26 drug peddlers and recovered one cutlass, one local knife, 2 mobile phones and assorted charms amongst others.

“On 8 March 2024, troops responded to distress call on armed robbery incident in AMAC of FCT Abuja. During the operation, troops arrested one suspect and recovered mobile phones and cutlasses.

“In the Niger Delta, troops of Operation Delta Safe recovered 1,227,470 litres of stolen crude oil, 313,780 litres of illegally refined AGO and 13,000 litres of PMS.

“Additionally, troops discovered and destroyed 150 dugout pits, 30 boats and 73 storage tanks, 105 cooking ovens, 209 drums, 3 pumping machines, 2 outboard engines, 4 motorcycles, one tricycle, 15 vehicles and 65 illegal refining sites.

“In the South East, troops of Operation Udoka neutralized 26 terrorists and recovered 3 G3 rifles, 12 AK47 rifles,one fabricated gun, 2 pump action guns, automatic pump action guns, RPG bombs, 269 rounds of 7.62mm special ammo, 216 rounds of 7.62mm NATO.

“Troops also recovered 172 live cartridges, 8 IEDs (OGBUNIGWE), 4 AK47 magazines, 3 G3 magazines 3 motorcycles and 2 mobile phones amongst other items,” he explained.

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Oyebanji, Fayemi, NASS members, APC leaders eulogize Omotosho at commendation service

Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Biodun Oyebanji on Wednesday led former Governor of the state, Dr Kayode Fayemi, National and State Assembly members, members of the State Executive Council, Party leaders and other prominent personalities to pay glowing tributes to the late APC Chairman, Barrister Paul Omotosho at a special commendation service organized by the state government in Ado-Ekiti.

Omotosho, who died on March 5th, after a brief illness, was, until his death, Chairman of the All Progressive Congress, Ekiti State Chapter.

“You will not walk alone. I shall stand by you. The Government and the party will stand by you”, Governor Oyebanji assured the children and wives of the late Omotosho during his emotion – laden speech at the special tribute session held at Adetiloye Hall, Trade Fair Complex, Ado- Ekiti.

The commendation service had in attendance former Governor Kayode Fayemi (who was represented by former Attorney General in the State, Mr Wale Fapounda, SAN; the Deputy Governor, Chief (Mrs.) Monisade Afuye, Speaker, Ekiti State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Adeoye Aribasoye, and three former deputy Governors- Prof Modupe Adelabu; Surv. Abiodun Aluko and Chief Wole Alabi as well as members of the Ekiti State Caucus in the National Assembly.

Oyebanji described the late Chairman as a committed, loyal, and party leader whose selflessness and sacrifices contributed immensely to the growth and development of the party and the state at large.

The Governor maintained that the late omotosho was a true friend, a burden bearer, confidant and a devoted community leader, adding that his demise has left a great vacuum within the party, the state and the nation at large.

While assuring the family that his government will continue to support them and stand in the gap of their father, the Governor said he is consoled with the fact that the deceased lived a fulfilled life and left an indelible mark in the development of the state.

“To me personally, I have lost a true friend, I’ve lost a confidant, I’ve lost a brother, a burden bearer and a soul mate. The truth of the matter is not how far but how well, Mr. Continuity left at his own time, I believe strongly that it was his own time to go. We don’t like it, and it is painful because death did not give us a chance to even try to save him.

“I know we are not happy about this and it is a trying moment for us as a party, as a state and as a government, but one thing I know is there is God in heaven who sees the affairs of men. To the children, to the family, as long as i am on this seat as the Governor of this state, you will not walk alone. That’s the assurance I am going to give you”. The Governor asserted.

In his on tribute, the immediate past Governor of the state, Dr. Fayemi, whose tribute was read by Barrister Wale Fapounda, described the late Omotosho as a dedicated leader, a unifier, and a pillar of the party in the state.

Dr Fayemi explained that the deceased was a tireless leader and a steadfast supporter of the party’s principle who ensured that under his watch the party achieved significant victories in recent elections and gained the trust of Ekiti people.

While calling on the APC members in the state to remain resolute in making the deceased proud by carrying on with his legacies of integrity, the former Governor maintained that Omotosho’s contributions and sacrifices for the party will never be forgotten.

Other speakers at the evening of tributes include Mrs. Fola Richie, who spoke on behalf of the state executive council members (2010 – 2014), where the late Omotosho served as as State Commissioner; Chief Bayo Idowu, on behalf of Afenifere; Dr Dele Ebunola, who spoke on behalf of Social Democratic Party (SDP); Prof Mobolaji Aluko, on behalf of the state executive council; Hon Sola Elesin, on behalf of APC, Ekiti State chapter; Rt. Hon. Adeoye Aribasoye, on behalf the State House of Assembly, and Senator Yemi Adaramodu, who spoke on behalf of National Assembly members.

Others were Chief Jide Awe, who spoke on behalf of APC elders; Chief (Mrs) Ronke Okusanya, on behalf of Women in Politics; and Mr Ojo Oluwasegun Samuel, who spoke on behalf of local government chairmen.

They all eulogized the late Omotosho as a man of integrity and a truly honest and hard working politician and public servant, who was selfless and result- oriented.

A pall of silence descended on the Adetiloye Hall, venue of the event during the viewing of a documentary detailing the life and times of the late Omotosho was shown the audience. Many wept profusely after the documentary which preceded a short sermon and prayer of the family of the deceased.

Barrister Paul Omotosho who died on March 5th would be buried in his home town, Imesi Ekiti on Friday.

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Alleged N84bn fraud: Yahaya Bello’s absence stalls arraignment

The immediate past Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello was absent at the Federal High Court Abuja on Thursday.

The former governor was to be arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC over alleged money laundering offence involving N84 billion.

Counsel for the EFCC, Kemi Phinro, earlier told the court that Bello was absent from court for his arraignment because he was being protected by someone with immunity.

Justice Emeka Nwite subsequently adjourned the suit to to April 23rd.

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Navy raises alarm over menace of stowaways in Lagos waters

US Navy tries to salvage fighter jet that fell into South China Sea

The Nigerian Navy has decried the growing menace of stowaways in Lagos waters, saying it apprehended about 75 stowaways from August 2023 to April 2024.

This is contained in a statement by the Director of Information, Navy, Commodore Aiwuyor Adams-Aliu, on Wednesday in Abuja.

Adams-Aliu said the Nigerian Navy was concerned by the upsurge in cases of stowaways in Nigerian waters.

He said that migration as a stowaway was illegal, dangerous and was considered a security threat to shipowners.

Adams-Aliu said the Navy had, in line with the strategic directive of the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Adm. Emmanuel Ogalla, deployed advanced Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) equipment to vector Quick Response Teams (QRT) to all parts of Nigeria’s territorial waters.

He said the Nigerian Navy apprehended five stowaways in August 2023 on MSC Martha Vessel in Lagos Channel; eight on Charminar Panama in September 2023 in Lagos Fairway Buoy and 11 on Guangzhou Highway Panama in October 2023 in Lagos Channel.

According to him, the Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic (FAL Convention) defines a stowaway as someone who is secreted on a ship, or in cargo without consent of the shipowners or the master or any other responsible person

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