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Imo Attack: 1,844 Escape From Correctional Facility

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…IGP Despatches Special Squad

…IPOB Denies Responsibility

… They Use Explosives – Police

… Osinbajo Visits Ebonyi, Warns Against Reprisals

By Martin Paul and Gom Marian, Abuja

Tension has heightened in Owerri the Imo state capital with the escape of 1,844 inmates into the communities and the deployment of hundreds of special squad policemen to quell the attacks on security formations by hoodlums.

The Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) confirmed an attack on it custodial centre in Owerri in Imo state by unknown gunmen leading to escape of 1,844 inmates while 35 inmates refused to escape.

In a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja, the Service spokesman, Francis Enobore, said “the attackers stormed the facility at about 0215hrs on Monday April 5, 2021, gained entrance into the yard by using explosives to blast the administrative block.

“The Owerri Custodial Centre in Imo State has been attacked by unknown gunmen and forcefully released a total of 1,844 inmates in custody.

“They were said to have arrived the centre in their large number in several Hilux pick-up vans and Sienna Buses armed with sophisticated weapons and immediately engaged the security personnel on duty in a fierce gun battle. They eventually detonated the explosive to gain entrance.

“The Acting Controller-General of Corrections, John Mrabure has ordered a comprehensive investigation into the incident and in collaboration with other security organizations, commenced a search and recover operations to recapture the fleeing inmates. 

“While appealing to the good citizens of Imo State and indeed Nigerians to volunteer useful intelligence that will facilitate the recovery effort, the Ag. Controller-General wishes to assure that the security of custodial centres in the country remains sacrosanct.”

The statement said the NCoS has equally directed all officers attached to custodial facilities to remain vigilant at the moment.

“As at the last count, six inmates have so far voluntarily returned to the facility while 35 refused to escape from custody during the attack.”

IGP Despatches Special Squad

In a swift reaction, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mohammed  Adamu set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to fish-out and bring the perpetrators to book in the melee where the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB)/Eastern Security Network (ESN)have been fingered.

But the group, also in a statement, distanced itself from the attacks on Police and Correctional Service headquarters in Imo state.

IGP, who said the Police Tactical Squads was despatched to Imo “to strengthen security in the State and prevent further attacks on security formations or any other critical national infrastructure in the State”, said the attacks were focus on “security operatives and formations including the Imo State Police Command Headquarters and the Headquarters of the Nigerian Correctional Services (NCS) in Owerri in the early hours of today, Monday, 5th April, 2021.

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 “Preliminary investigations have revealed that the attackers, who came in their numbers with sophisticated weapons such as General Purpose Machine Guns (GPMGs), Sub-Machine Guns (SMGs), AK49 rifles, Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs), Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), are members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB)/Eastern Security Network (ESN).

“The attempt by the attackers to gain access to the Police armoury at the Headquarters was totally and appropriately resisted by Police operatives on duty who repelled the attackers and prevented them from breaking-in and looting the armoury.

The armoury is thus intact! Similarly, the police suffered no human casualty, apart from a police Constable who sustained a minor bullet wound on his shoulder”, the IGP said in a statement signed by  Force Public Relations Officer, CP Frank Mba.

Meanwhile, one of the operational vehicles of the attackers has been recovered by the Police and is currently being subjected to forensic scrutiny and investigations. 

The IGP, who described the deliberate and criminal attack on security operatives as an attack on the soul of our nation, enjoined leaders in Imo State, the South-East and other parts of the country to speak out against the unfolding violence and criminality.

He vowed that the perpetrators will be brought to book, noting that the Force was doing all within its powers to curb the activities of unscrupulous elements hell-bent on threatening the unity, safety, security and socio-economic wellbeing of Nigerians.

IPOB Denies Responsibility

However, the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has denied involvement in the attacks,

In a statement, Media and Publicity Secretary of the group, Emma Powerful, said in Owerri yesterday that IPOB was formed on the principle of peace and would not compromise its principles and would also not attack government’s facilities.

“The attention of IPOB has been drawn to the fallacious and fabricated reports that it is involved in the attack of prison and police headquarters in Imo.

“IPOB and Eastern Security Network (ESN) are known groups, not unknown gunmen. ESN is in the bush chasing terrorists and have no business with the said attacks.

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“We were not involved in the attack in Owerri and the recent attack on Onitsha-Owerri road at Ukwuorji junction.

“It is not our mandate to attack security personnel or prison facilities,’’ the statement added.

Hundreds of inmates were set free from the Correctional Centre, while many vehicles were burnt in the process just as the military were immediately drafted to secure the Government House in Owerri.

They Use Explosives – Police

A Police officer attached to the Imo state Police Command, who would not want his mentioned, said the attackers use explosives to destroy the formation.

 “They were over two hundred boys, with their cars singing a song of victory and when they reach the gate of our police headquarters they threw dynamite at us and the thing exploded and the vehicles caught fire, especially the vehicles park.

“I jumped over the fence because they are many. When they started shooting bullets it got one of my colleagues in his hand and he fell”, he said.

Osinbajo Visits Ebonyi, Warns Against Reprisals

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has assured that the Federal Government will do everything to ensure that security is beefed up in communities affected by recent communal clashes and violent attacks in Ebonyi State.

He assured that there must be justice for victims.

He condemned the attacks, and sympathized with the victims, describing such acts as cowardly, wicked and “very deeply distressing.”

Prof. Osinbajo stated this on Easter Sunday afternoon during a visit to Ebonyi State after attending Resurrection Sunday service at the Aso Villa Chapel.

At the State, the Vice President stopped at the Egedegede community in Ishielu Local Government Area, which suffered herdsmen attacks recently and Ezza/Effium communities in Ohaukwu Local Government Area where communal clashes had occurred.

Announcing at each stop that he is visiting at the direction of the President, the VP later held an interactive session with stakeholders at the State capital before returning to Abuja late last night.

The Vice President was accompanied on the visit to the affected areas by the Ebonyi State Governor, Engr. David Umahi, who received him at his first stop at Ishielu LGA.

He had earlier been welcomed by the Enugu State Governor, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport in Enugu from where he drove to Ebonyi State.

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On the VP’s delegation were the Information and Culture Minister Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Steel & Mines Development Minister of State Mr. Uche Ogah and the Special Adviser on Political Affairs to the President, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, among other dignitaries.

According to the Vice President, “there is no way we can, by saying sorry, fully compensate for the lives that have been lost and property destroyed. I want you to know that one way we can do something is by seeking justice and providing for the families of those who have lost their homes and we would do so.”

He added that government will ensure justice is done and the perpetrators brought to book, while urging the people of the communities to remain calm and avoid reprisal attacks.

The Vice President said: “let me assure you that we will seek justice on behalf of those who have died not just because they are Nigerians, but because they are human beings and they deserve justice.

“Anybody who watches another person killed next to him and does not feel angry and pained, and doesn’t feel the person deserves justice must answer to God ultimately. So, don’t be under any illusion, we will make sure so long as it lies within our power, that we will seek justice and get justice.

“Which is why I will urge you as you have done, and you have done the right thing in my view, you have peacefully presented the case, you have very peacefully conducted yourselves, reported to the authorities and sought the right support from the government.

“It is up to the government to provide the best that they can. But we must be careful also not to seek revenge because we don’t know where it will end.”

Assuring the people of improved security in the affected areas, the Vice President stated that government will beef up the security in the communities to forestall a reoccurrence.

“We are in conversation with the GOC and the Army, about ensuring that there is more security provided here. I know that the GOC has already made more provisions but obviously, there is a need for even greater security provided here,” he said.

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FG Re-arraigns Nnamdi Kanu Thursday on Seven-count Terrorism Charge

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The Federal Government has filed an amended seven-count amended charge against the detained leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu.

The amended charge, which was filed by the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, borders on treasonable felony and Kanu’s alleged involvement in acts of terrorism.

The embattled IPOB leader will be re-arraigned before trial Justice Binta Nyako on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Senator representing Anambra North, Ifeanyi Ubah, on Monday, filed a motion before the Federal High Court in Abuja to compel the Department of State Services, DSS, to allow him to have access to Kanu in detention.

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FIRS Refutes N3.3bn, Budget for Staff Uniforms, Meals

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By Tony Obiechina, Abuja 

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), has refuted a newspaper report to the effect that the agency plans to spend a whopping N2.8 billion on uniforms and another N550 million on meals for its personnel.

 

A statement by the SA Media and Communications to the Executive Chairman, Mr Johannes Wojuola in Abuja on Monday urged “all concerned to ignore the publication its entirety, for it is utterly misleading”.

According to the statement, the reference the newspaper made regarding the budget for uniforms “is not only false but also a misrepresentation of the facts”.

The statement reads further, “in the first place, it is not true that the Service had delivered the Budget Estimate to the two chambers of the National Assembly. Instead, the draft budget estimate was submitted only to the House Committee on Finance. Also, its claim that “the total budget of the FIRS stands at N228 billion” is blatantly not true. 

“Again, what the newspaper referred to as Uniform is the Corporate Outfit (Dressing Allowance) enjoyed by all the staff. Similarly, the sum of N17.8 billion being bandied by the newspaper as an estimate for miscellaneous expenses is grossly false.

“To be sure, the correct figure is N11.36 billion which represents the estimate for key administrative expenses for the whole year that the Service proposed to the National Assembly being an amount that would be incurred when approved, in respect of its over 500 operating offices and functions as well as for its 11,300 workforce. 

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“For clarity, the estimated expenses are for medical expenses for over 11,300 staff, publicity, adverts & taxpayers education, welfare packages & festivity allowance to staff, corporate outfit grant (dressing allowance to staff), honorarium & sitting allowance for staff/stakeholders, sporting activities, and postages & courier services.

“The public is, therefore, to note that the amount budgeted for the above-listed items represents merely 5.26% of the total budget estimate for the year, 2022.

“With these details of well-intentioned provisions in the budgetary estimates which were put together by the relevant departments in the Service, it is crystal clear that the Management is consciously committed to quality service delivery and staff welfare. Therefore, Management will continue to do everything within the limits of available resources to motivate and bouy up the morale of the staff.

“As a revenue-generating agency, the Service remains strongly committed to its mandate of mobilising revenue for the three tiers of government. The Management, therefore, frowns at the uncharitable attempt to drag its well-wrought tax administration efforts into the murky waters of politics, as doing so will not serve any positive purpose”.

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Insecurity: Finally, Last Batch Tucano Jets Arrive Nigeria – FG

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The last batch of the 12 A-29 Super Tucano fighter jets imported from the United States (US), have been received by the Nigerian government, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has disclosed.

Mohammed, said the Federal Government took delivery of the final batch of the 12 A-29 Super Tucano fighter jets from the United States recently, when he featured on a phone-in programme of TV Continental, “This Morning”.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), which monitored the report, quoted Mohammed of saying:  “All the 12 Super Tucano fighter jets have been received.

As at this morning, all the 12 were here and they have been deployed to the North-East.

“We can see that the Tucano jets are actually game changer.

“Most of the successes we have recorded in recent time is because of the acquisition of the new platforms, not limited to the super Tucano,’’ he said.

The minister said with the recent notable successes recorded by the military on insecurity, he was amused by a story on Monday that the Nigerian Air Force paid N20 million to bribe bandits so that they would not bring down the president’s aircraft.

“Fortunately, the Air Force immediately debunked this because this exposes their ignorance.

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“Between Zamfara, Katsina, parts of Kaduna and Niger states, there are about 150 bandit camps. Who then was the money given to?

“It does not make any sense and it is because they do not understand how bandits operate that is why they can peddle that kind of fake news,’’ he said.

Mohammed said with the improved security situation in the North-East and North-Central Zones the nation would experience improved food security.

“If you observe what is happening of recent, you can see heightened activities in the agricultural area.

“This is because of the superior fire power of the military which is now making it possible for people to go to their farms, especially in the North East.

“They have been able to put the criminals at bay,’’ he said.

The minister gave an assurance that the success of the military against terrorists and bandits would be sustained.

He therefore solicited the cooperation and support of Nigerians for the sustenance of the military action.

NAN recalls that the Nigerian Air Force on July 22 took delivery of the first batch of six of the A-29 Super Tucano aircraft from the United States.

The Director of Public Relations and Information, NAF Headquarters, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, who made the announcement, said the aircraft arrived in Kano.

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The officials that received the aircraft included the Minister of Defence, retired Major.-Gen. Bashir Magashi, Chief of Army Staff, Lt.- Gen. Faruk Yahaya and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao.

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