On March 11, 39 students of the little known College of Forestry Technology, Afaka, Kaduna state were abducted by gun men who appeared in Army uniforms on the school campus and dragged the students out of their hostels.
And this is not the first time and may not be the last that students will be abducted in large numbers.
In the case of the Forestry College abduction, 10 of the students initially gained freedom while 12 were held held in captivity until yesterday when they breathed the air of freedom once again. Of the 22 students of the Greenfield University abducted, five were killed by their captors and bodies released to their devastated parents.
We commend Ll those who worked tirelessly to secure the release of the College of Forestry students.
We are however pained that the abductors of the Greenfield University students are still holding unto the captives.
Not even the partial payment of ransom for the Greenfield Students has moved the captors, who threatened on Monday that unless N100million was paid as ransom, the students would be killed.
We are grossly saddened by these developments just as we were in the previous incidents of adoption mentioned above. To say that we condemn this incidents in the strongest possible terms would still be an understatement as these are incidents that should never have occurred at the first instance.
While we task security agencies to step up efforts to secure the freedom of these young people, we make haste to state that this is the time to take more enduring measures to secure schools and campuses from possible future attacks. We urge the police particularly, to create a special security team for schools protection, the same way it has diplomatic police and the Special Squad, which was created to protect government installations, infrastructure and public officials.
The release of one student from Greenfield University on Tuesday, is tokenism of the worst grade and falls far short of the total release of those in captivity. On this we stand.
We commend efforts of the parents, who have formed a strong synergy to fight for freedom for their children and Wards where the government does not appear to be doing much despite repeated assurances to free the students. The efforts of the parents contributed substantially to the release of the Afaka abductees. We hope the efforts of the parents of the Greenfield University and other stakeholders and security agencies will soon pay off and they will equally be freed.
We join people of goodwill in appealing to the bandits and kidnappers to spare the lives of the Greenfield University students and to unconditionally set them free from captivity.
Kebbi Boat Mishap and Matters Arising
On May 27, tragedy struck in Kebbi state as a boat conveying about 160 passengers capsized at Warrah water front, Ngaski LGA of Kebbi state. The boat, which took off from Loko in Niger state ended its journey on the Niger River with passengers all thrown over board when the unfortunate incident occurred.
Although rescue operations commenced soon after the incident, only 23 people returned alive, 59 were found dead and the rest were declared missing. On the whole, at least 120 were said to have either perished or missing in a fell swoop!
As soon as the incident occurred, a flurry of condolence messages flowed in from different quarters with most of the sympathisers bringing cash gifts to the families of the deceased passengers through the Kebbi state government.
President Muhammdu Buhari sent an early condolence message to the government and people of Kebbi state as well as families of the victims.
The Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum(NGF), Dr Kayode Fayemi, paid a condolence visit with a gift of N50million on behalf of the Forum. The Governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal donated N40million, his Zamfara State counterpart, Alhaji Matawalle donated N30miilion, while the Jigawa State Governor, Alhaji Saidu Badru donated N40million as relief to the bereaved families. The Senate President, Dr Ahmed Lawan similarly visited the Kebbi state Governor
Senator Atiku Bagudu and donated N50million on behalf of the Senate.
We Join all well meanung Nigerians to condole with the families of the boat mishap victims, as well as the government and people of Kebbi state over the sad loss.
We commend the various government agencies including the National Emergency Management Agency( NEMA), the local Marine Police formations in the area, Federal Inland Water Ways Authority and the Warrah community, who jointly coordinated the effort to rescue the victims of the Mishap and recover bodies of the dead.
The sad incidence has however, brought a lot of issues to the fore in the management of the nation’s inland waterways.
The ill-fated boat, which left Loko in Niger state for Kebbi was said to have been overloaded with about 160 people and goods of high tonnage. According to accounts from some survivors, the waves from the River Niger tore the boat apart and emptied its content into the waters.Unfortunately, there was no passenger- manifest of the overloaded boat at the time of take-off just as there was no check to ensure conformity with the carrying capacity of the wooden boat. Giving this situation therefore, it has become difficult to ascertain the exact number of people on board. Worse still, the boat had no safety provisions such as live jackets among others.
It is sad, to say the least that such basic maritime protocols such as passenger – manifest were not enforced by the relevant authorities.
Furthermore, that the boat caved into the water waves suggests loudly that it was not in good shape nor was not the type of boat required for such a long inland journey. Either way, somebkdy must take responsibility for this avoidable disaste.
In that direction, we call for institution of a judicial panel of enquiry into the incidence to establish the remote and actual causes of the mishap. Such inquiry will help identify the failure of all relevant agencies and officials linked to the operation of the boat. We hold that any official found guilty of any administrative laxity should be brought to book to sever as a deterrent to others. This action is necessary as boat mishaps have regrettabley become a recurring decimal in our water ways. In 2003, there was a boat mishap in the same Warrah community in which dozens of people perished. About three weeks ago, there was another boat mishap in Niger state in which about 30 people perished. Similar incidents had earlier been reported in other parts of the country including Buruku, on the River Katsina- Ala, in Benue state.
We state unequivocally that there is already too much bloodshed in the land from acts of criminality and the nation can not afford the wanton loss of lives from such avoidable mishaps.
For a safer maritime environment, we call on the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency( NIMASA) to take more responsibility for the safety of the inland water ways in the same manner it takes responsibility over safety on the international waters.
There are reports that the upper Niger where the boat mishap occurred is laden with trees, shrubs and weeds requiring some form of dredging. Why we cannot directly link such obstacles to the May 27, incidence we hasten to observe that such constitute hazards to maritime transport on the inland waterways.
DAILY ASSET commiserates with the families of the victims of the unfortunate incident and commends all those who have shown sympathy and donated various sums for the upkeep of the deceased families.
We urge that all sums donated should be properly channeled so that only the bereaved families and the survivors who have medical bills to pay will benefit.
We commend the leadership exhibited by the Kebbi state Governor, Bagudu who visited the scene of the incident early enough and has continued to coordinate relief supplies from across the nation.
May the souls of the victims of the Warrah, Ngaski -Kebbi boat mishap rest in peace.
Judicial Workers’ Prolonged strike
Nigerians, especially the stakeholders in the nation’s judiciary have been groaning in silence since early April, when its workers under the Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN)went on industrial action.
JUSUN had since then , shut down all courts in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and replicated same across the country to make iys case for implementation of financial autonomy for the judiciary as the third arm of government. The Union had alleged that the Federal and State governments had over the years, declined to grant financial autonomy to the judiciary accusing the judiciary of not respecting court orders . There have been efforts by some of the stakeholders to bring the crisis to an end. The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in particular had severally appealed to the Union to shelve the strike without success.The NBA’s efforts proved abortive, as members shut courts and agencies under the judiciary, such as National Judicial Council (NJC) and Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC).In bolstering the position of the workers, President of the Union, Marwan Mustapha Adamu, earlier issued a circular to the National Executive Council (NEC) and all members of the Union, stressing that the industrial action continued since government was yet to address their grievances. Adamu commemded the union members for their comradeship and solidarity exhibited in the ongoing action. informed members that the Federal Government and state governors were yet to find the ground for meeting with their demands.
Apart from NBA, many lawyers in theor private capacities have decried the continued closure of courts, describing it as precarious, just as they count their losses, especially as they said the ethics of their profession did not permit them to engage in other works for survival. They lamented that some of their clients were languishing in Correction Centres and cells because the court was not available to grant them bail or hear their cases. They, therefore, urged government to have a discussion with stakeholders in a bid to end the industrial impasse.
We wish to appeal to state governors to work together with JUSUN, NBA and the Federal Government to discuss amicably to end this strike, which has brought untold sufferings to the people. Correction Centres and cells are the worst affected as they continue to get crowded with increasing security challenges in the land.The Judiciary, as a separate arm of government deserves its autonomy as constitutionally provided. The Federal High Court in Abuja, had in a verdict in January 2014 even held that financial autonomy for the judiciary is a constitutional provision that must be complied with by the executive branch of government. The verdict must be respected by the executive arm of government at all levels.
Lt. Gen Ibrahim Attahiru(1966-2021)
Nigeria has been in deep mourning since the fateful Friday, May 21, when the 21st Chief of the Army Staff, Lt. Gen.Ibrahim Atahiru, died in an Air Force plane crash with 10 other military officers at Kaduna International Airport.
The nation was thus thrown into deep grief and obviously because it was a serious national tragedy.
Barely four months since he was appointed into the command position, he did not leave any one in doubt of his capability and capacity to lead the Nigerian Army into a successful campaign against the insurgents, Boko Haram and the Islamic State for West Africa Province, (ISWAP), which have been ravaging the North Eastern region of the country, including the Lake Chad Region for the past 12 years.
Nigerians, saw Atahiru as the man really cut out for the job, especially with the seriousness he went about the war against terror. Apart from restoring the morale of the soldiers under his command, which was highly dampened by the time he was appointed the COAS in January. He did this through the visits he made at the war fronts, and seeing to the payments of their outstanding salaries and other emoluments.
Lt Gen. Atahiru was credited with developing a blueprint for combating insurgency in the as well as other violent crimes like banditry and kidnapping in the country. And he was on the right track towards achieving this until death came knocking on the fateful Friday. Nigerians from all walks of life have been mourning the demise of this great general.
President Muhammadu Buhari , in his condolence message, expressed sadness over the death of the Chief of Army Staff, along with 10 other top military officers . “President Muhammadu Buhari is deeply saddened over the air crash that claimed the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru and other military officers,” Buhari said in a statement by his spokesman, Femi Adesina.
He described Gen. Attahiru and others who died in the crash as the nation’s heroes.The late Chief of Army Staff was born August 10, in Kaduna State. He was a graduate of the Nigerian Defence Academy, Armed Forces Command and Staff College and Nigerian Army School of Infantry. He commenced cadets training in January 1984 and was commissioned in the rank of Second Lieutenant in December 1986 as an Infantry Officer.General Attahiru had held several appointments on the staff, instructional and in command in the course of his military career.
He had a tour of duty with the United Nations in Sierra Leone as a Military Observer, where he facilitated United Kingdom military engagement, Operation BARASS in September 2000. He was an Operations Officer and later Company Commander in NIBATT 19 ECOMOG Operations in Liberia. He had the unique privilege of having commanded with distinction all through the chain of commands in the Nigerian Army. Prominent among these appointments were: Commanding Officer 146 Battalion Nigerian Army (Operation HARMONY IV) in the Bakassi Peninsula, Commander 13 Brigade Nigerian Army (Operation PULO SHIELD), General Officer Commanding 82 Division Nigerian Army. He was one time Theatre Commander Operation LAFIA DOLE (the Counter Terrorism and Counter Insurgency Outfit in North Eastern Nigeria).
It is on record that he brought relative stability to the region with the surrender of several Boko Haram combatants. On the staff, General Ibrahim Attahiru was unit Adjutant, 7 Battalion Nigerian Army, Serti. Chief of Staff, Brigade Nigerian Army, Sokoto. General Staff Officer Grade 1 Training/Operations and as well as Staff Duties/Plans at the Headquarters 1, 2 and 81 Divisions of the Nigerian Army.
He was Deputy Director Military Secretary 2 at the AHQ MS (A) and one-time Director Army Public Relations and Spokesperson of the Nigerian Army.He was later Director Staff Duties and Deputy Chief of Policy and Plans at the Army Headquarters. He was equally privileged to serve as Chief of Defence Transformation and Innovation and Chief of Defence Logistics at the apex organ of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, Defence Headquarters Abuja. In that position he worked with the US Defence Logistics Agency on the Vertically Integrated Logistics Approach (VILA) Programme towards enhancing the operational readiness in the Armed Forces of Nigeria.
On the Instructional, he was privileged to be an Instructor at the Depot Nigerian Army, Nigerian Defence Academy and the Nigerian Army School of Infantry. He was later a Directing Staff and Chief Instructor at the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji-Nigeria.General Attahiru was exposed to leadership and professional development programmes at globally renowned institutions. He was at the National Defence College Kenya for the National Defence Management and Security Studies Course and at the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army Special Forces Academy Shijiazhuang-Hubei Province, China for the Basic and Advanced Special/Operations Commando Forces Courses.
Gen Atahiru had undertaken leadership and security policy courses at the prestigious Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, USA, Graduate School of Media and Communication, Agha Khan University Kenya, Bournemouth University Disaster Management Center and the Geneva Centre for Security Policy.The General had several honours and awards to his credit. He was a highly decorated officer with UNAMSIL Medal, ECOMOG Medal, Forces Service Star, Meritorious Service Star, Distinguish Service Star, Grand Service Star, Corps Medal of Honour, Command Medal, Field Command Medal, and Field Command Medal of Honour.He held a Masters degree in Strategic Management and Policy Studies from the Nigerian Defence Academy, Masters of Science in Human Resources Management and Development from Salford University in the United Kingdom and Graduate Diploma in International Studies from the University of Nairobi, Kenya.
Nigeria will no doubt miss in Gen. Atahiru, one of its best trained most, focused and dedicated combatants. He was indeed a soldiers’ soldier.Although Gen Attahiru is gone, we urge that that the strong foundation he laid should become a legacy for the Army to build upon in the prosecution of the war against terror in the country.
We are saddened that NAF aircrafts have recently been involved in disasters with huge loses in personnel and equipment. We urge NAF to act swiftly and conduct a thorough audit of its aircrafts to ensure such disasters are averted in the future.
We also urge the Fededal Government to properly compensate the families of the deceased officers, who died in active service to the nation. May the soul of Lt. General Ibrahim Atahiru and the souls of the other 10 departed Officers rest in peace.
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