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Middle Belt Forum Condemns Reported Secret Amnesty For Insurgents

Middle Belt forum condemns reported secret amnesty for insurgents

The Middle Belt Forum (MBF) has expressed concerns over reports that the Federal Government was engaging in a secret programme tagged, Suhlu, positioned to rehabilitate top commanders of Boko Haram insurgents and the Islamic State for West African Province (ISWAP) and provide them with a means of livelihood.

According to the group, the Nigerian government under President Muhammadu Buhari should unveil the identities of Boko Haram sponsors, especially the 400 Bureau De Change (BDC) operators that were identified by the authorities of the United Arab Emirates.

These demands were made in a communique issued after the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the MBF, held in Akwanga, Nasarawa State at the weekend, to dialogue on the many issues affecting the region and Nigeria as a whole.

Ripples Nigeria earlier published that a report by a United Nations (UN) independent news organisation, The New Humanitarian (formerly IRIN News), had uncovered the secret Sulhu programme by the Nigerian government.

According to the UN organisation, Sulhu grew out of the behind-the-scenes attempts to free the more than 270 Chibok schoolgirls seized by Boko Haram in 2014, and is applauded by its supporters as smart warfare – a means to remove the senior jihadists from the battlefield more effectively than the orthodox military campaign.

But in the communique signed by its President, Dr Pogu Bitrus, the group kicked against any form of amnesty for insurgents and other terrorist groups, who they said “have their hands dripping with blood”.

Commending southern governors and some governors in the Middle Belt and their State Assemblies for having the courage to pass the anti-open grazing laws in their states, the Forum condemned the directive by Miyetti Allah to its members not to obey the anti-grazing laws, and their threat to make the states that attempt to implement the laws ungovernable.

The communiqué read, “NEC finds worrisome, given the report by the UN that the Federal government is secretly engaged in negotiations tagged ‘Sulhu’ with Boko Haram terrorists through which the Federal Government is allegedly offering monetary rewards to insurgents and other criminals.

“Consequently, NEC is totally opposed to this project and also opposed to any form of amnesty to insurgents and other terror groups who have their hands dripping with blood. NEC is also vehemently opposed to any planned recruitment of these so-called repentant terrorists into the national security architecture.

“NEC calls on the Federal Government to identify, apprehend and bring the perpetrators of these heinous crimes against humanity to justice to serve as a deterrent to others. Consequently, NEC calls on the government to set up an agency to be called the Middle Belt Development Commission to serve as an intervention agency in addressing the challenges caused by the activities of these terrorists.

“Many schools and places of worship in the Middle Belt region have remained closed due to the criminal activities of these Fulani kidnappers and bandits. NEC regrets that many school children and other hapless citizens are still languishing in the dens of kidnappers. NEC further appeals to the government to take urgent steps to rescue those in captivity.”

The communiqué read further, “Nigeria has been plunged into a critical situation of insecurity occasioned by the activities of Boko Haram terrorists, armed Fulani militia, kidnappers/bandits and other related criminal elements. This spate of insecurity has pushed the nation to the precipice. NEC calls on the Federal Government to take urgent steps to arrest the situation and save the nation from another civil war.

“The incessant invasions by Fulani militia on several communities across the Middle Belt region in particular, and other parts of the country in general, have assumed genocidal/ethnic cleansing scale. These attacks have left in their wake mind-boggling massacres and devastations in our communities and displacement of indigenous people to various Internally Displaced Person camps.

“NEC calls on the Federal Government to take urgent steps to return displaced communities to their ancestral lands, given the fact that territory can no longer be acquired in the 21st century by the use of force. NEC also calls on the government to identify all IDPs in the Middle Belt region and provide relief materials for them.”

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NDLEA destroys 304,436kg, 40, 042 litres of illicit drugs seized in Lagos, Ogun

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, on Tuesday 16th April 2024 destroyed a total of 304,436kg kilograms and 40,042 litres of illicit substances seized from parts of Lagos and Ogun states.

Speaking at a brief ceremony where the seized drugs were publicly destroyed in Badagry Lagos, Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the Agency, Brig Gen Mohamed Buba Marwa (Retd) said the open destruction of the seized illicit drugs followed court orders, even as he called for more public support for ongoing efforts by NDLEA and other stakeholders to curb the menace of substance abuse and illicit drug trafficking in Nigeria.

“Though a routine exercise and an established process of removing dangerous substances from our society, the public destruction of confiscated illicit drugs is usually conducted at the end of their related cases in court”, the NDLEA boss stated adding that the exhibits being destroyed were of mixed types, “which include illicit drugs in solid and liquid states as well as in various classes such as cocaine, heroin, cannabis, and tramadol, among others.”

He said the drugs were seized by NDLEA operatives across different formations of the Agency in Lagos and Ogun states from January 2022 till date especially at the Lagos seaports, airports, and land borders.

“To be destroyed here today on the order of the court are solid drugs, weighing 304,436.055kg and 40, 042. 621 litres of liquid drugs. The sheer volume of the drug haul speaks volumes about the extent of the nefarious activities of the drug underworld.”

He expressed appreciation to traditional rulers, heads of security agencies, the clergy, members of NGOs and CSOs as well as other stakeholders who witnessed the ceremony.

“The destruction of these seizures complies with the NDLEA Act, which mandates the Agency to destroy all drug exhibits after prosecution. We want to say that your presence here is a testament to this important occasion. To this end, we appreciate all stakeholders and members of the public for witnessing this exercise”, he added.

He seized the opportunity to acknowledge the support of the Agency’s local and international partners, “especially the American Drug Enforcement Administration (US-DEA); United Kingdom NCA, Border Force; the Germans, the French; Indian NCB, among others who had worked with us on a number of busts. Similarly, we appreciate the Nigerian military and other law enforcement agencies such as the Customs; Immigration; Police; Civil Defence; FRSC; NFIU,NAFDAC and others that have been supporting our efforts to rid Nigeria of illicit drugs.”
While assuring that NDLEA will not relent in its effort to end the drug scourge in the country, Marwa called for more public support for the activities of the Agency. “The safety of our society is the responsibility of every one of us. Every citizen shall be fulfilling his or her civic duty by assisting the Agency’s War Against Drug Abuse (WADA) campaign to clean up our communities and cities. Together, we can make this country secure”, he added.

Lagos state governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu represented by Chairman, Badagry West Local Government, Mr. Olusegun Onilude expressed satisfaction with the efforts of NDLEA to tackle the scourge of illicit drugs in the country.

“Almost all crimes and criminalities are fueled by illicit drugs, so the Lagos state government appreciates NDLEA and its leadership in their resolute fight against illicit drugs.

“The volume of illicit drugs being destroyed here today speak volume and every right-thinking person should be worried”, he stated.

He also thanked the Agency for taking the War Against Drug Abuse (WADA) social advocacy campaign to schools and communities across Lagos State. “No doubt, NDLEA is working, and the state will continue to collaborate with the Agency and its leadership”, he assured.

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NSA receives 22 abducted students, staff of Zamfara varsity

The National Security Adviser, NSA, Nuhu Ribadu, on Monday, April 15, 2024, received 22 abducted students and staff of Federal University, Gusau in Zamfara, who were rescued after 207 days in captivity.

The victims, comprising 15 students and seven workers of the university, were abducted from the university in September 2023.

According to the NSA, the rescue operation was coordinated by the National Counter-Terrorism Centre, NCTC, on Sunday

Mr Ribadu who received the rescued victims on Monday in Abuja, urged them not to allow their experience to break them, but should rather make them stronger.

The NSA also thanked the parents of the rescued victims for their patience and understanding during the period and commended security agencies for their tireless work and sacrifices.

“On behalf of the President, I thank all those involved in the successful rescue of the victims without losing anyone of them or paying any ransom,” he said.

“This is yet again a success story in our efforts to free all those being unlawfully held in captivity.

“We have so far released over a thousand of such victims without noise and with complete respect to their privacy and safety.

“This occasion marks a final juncture in a series of rescues we have undertaken in the last few months, to free victims of recent cases of mass abductions.

“Going forward, we are strengthening law enforcement and security measures to prevent these abductions, and strengthen physical security across vulnerable communities,” he said.

Earlier, the National Coordinator, NCTC, Maj.-Gen. Adamu Laka recalled that those rescued were abducted from the school on Sept. 22, 2023, at about 0230hrs

Mr Laka said bandits armed with various weapons attacked three off-campus students’ hostels at Sabon Gida in Gusau and kidnapped a number of female students alongside some male artisans

Others, he said, were a private security guard and a protocol officer of the university.

He added that the bandits ransacked the hostels, and carted away foodstuffs, mobile phones, laptops, ATM cards, cash and other valuables.

According to him, the abductees were subsequently herded on motorcycles and foot to a location through a town in the Tsafe local government area of Zamfara.

“Search and rescue was conducted by a combined team of law enforcement agencies and the abductees were subsequently released in three batches, after 207 days in captivity,” he said.

“The first batch was rescued on March 15 while the second batch was rescued on April 12 and the last batch was rescued on April 14.

“All the abductees were profiled at NCTC while the ONSA Medical Team examined them and administered minor treatments on the bruises sustained by 3 of the abductees.

“Four of them were diagnosed with malaria and are being treated. None of the females was molested and all the females tested negative for pregnancy test,” he added.

One of the rescued victims, Hafsat Ibrahim, thanked God and the government for ensuring their safe return after 207 days in captivity.

Representative of the Zamfara government, Ibrahim Anka, commended the efforts of the NSA in coordinating the military and security operations that ensured the safe rescue of the victims.

Anka also commended the Federal Government for the efforts and recent positive improvement in security in the state.

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President Tinubu declares April 7, National Police day

President Bola Tinubu has declared April 7 as National Police Day.

Tinubu, represented by Vice President Kashim Shettima, made this known on Monday night during the maiden edition of the Nigeria Police Awards and Commendations ceremony held in the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja.

The president identified a complete overhaul of institutional mentality and memory of police officers as fundamental in his administration’s ongoing bid to transform the force into a modern, professional and accountable institution.

According to Tinubu, his administration had initiated wide-ranging reforms to revitalize the nation’s police force since assuming office in 2023.

He, therefore, stressed the need to engage men and women of the force in training and capacity-building to equip them with the expertise required to carry out the arduous task of modern policing.

He also disclosed that the Federal Government had approved the first week of April as police week and the last day of the week as the National Police Day.

“Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, in our tradition of honouring the Police Force in the life of this great nation, we have approved the adoption of the first week of April as Police Week.

“Furthermore, the last day of the week, April 7th, is hereby declared National Police Day in Nigeria.

“Tonight, I must remind you that we don’t see you as just the shields of the nation, we don’t see you as robots.

“This is why we are here; we are here to humanise you.

“At a time in Nigeria’s history, when the nation’s security architecture is being stretched beyond elastic limits, the citizens have been able to endure in the face of security threats as well as attacks on their lives and livelihoods due to the commitment of the police.

“Your exemplary valour doesn’t only represent the pinnacle of patriotism that binds us but also instils confidence that brighter days lie just beyond the horizon,” he said.

The president listed part of the comprehensive reforms by his administration to rejuvenate the police force to include investment in training and capacity-building.

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