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DEFENCE

President Tackles PDP Over $1bn Defence Spending Allegation

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President Muhammadu Buhari
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By Mathew Dadiya, Abuja

The Presidency said on Sunday that the opposition-Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) was in a state of “socio-emotional distress” over its call on the Federal government to account for the $1bn withdrawals from the Excess Crude Account(ECA) for purchase of military hardwares.

In a prompt response to allegations by the PDP, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, in a statement on Sunday, described the allegation by the opposition party as laughable.

He said: “the PDP “thinks that all governments in the world run on the basis of freewheeling looting as they did their own.

“Here is what happened to that USD1 billion.

“It’s on record that the Buhari administration paid about USD 490 million for a dozen Super Tucano fighter aircraft in a direct, government-to-government (no Contractors or Commission Agents) transaction with government of the United States.

“Various other military procurements have been made. Balance of expenditure stands at about USD 880 million or so.

Barring considerations of national security, the details of the stage of implementation, the procurements made and the suppliers will be obtained and if your story can wait until tomorrow Monday, a work day, we can give you more or all of the details.

“The PDP spent Defence procurement funds on their failed 2015 political campaigns as proven in court. That is not to say every succeeding government, more so one led by a Buhari will do the same,” the presidency added. 

The Peoples Democratic Party had on Sunday expressed shock at the alleged confession by the National Security Adviser, NSA, Gen. Babagana Mongunu (rtd), that he is not aware of the whereabouts or disbursement of the $1bn drawn from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) by the Muhammadu Buhari-led Presidency in 2017 for security purposes. National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus and President Muhammadu Buhari.

The party’s spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan on Sunday said that “the confession by the NSA, who coordinates the security architecture of the nation, directly places a huge burden on President Buhari’s doorsteps over reported stealing and diversion of funds meant for security, while insurgency, banditry, killings and kidnapping fester in the land under his watch.

“The revelation by NSA further vindicates the PDP on our initial alarm that the All Progressives Congress, APC-led administration is overtly corrupt, deceptive and unreliable in the handling the affairs of our nation. 

“It further validates the stance of the PDP that agents of the Presidency and the APC were hiding under the guise of security to siphon the $1bn from the ECA. “This, peharps, informed the desperation by the cabal to draw from the account without recourse to statutory due process of appropriation by the National Assembly. “From Gen. Mongunu’s confession, Nigerians can further see why our nation is daily confronted with disturbing videos and reports of our fighting troops protesting their neglect and inadequate equipping, leading to their vulnerability in the fronts. 

“Now that the NSA has declared that he is not aware of the whereabouts of funds, the burden, straightaway, lies squarely on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately address the nation on how the money was handled,” the PDP alleged.

DEFENCE

Police Ban Covering of Vehicles, Motorcycles Registration Number Plates in Benue

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In a bid to curb the escalating security situation, the Police Command in Benue, on Sunday ordered motorists and motorcyclists to stop covering their registration numbers plates.

The order was contained in a statement signed by the State’s Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), SP Sewuese Anene, in Makurdi.

According to Anene, covering vehicle number plates was an offence and would be met with the appropriate sanctions.

“The practice of covering number plate has become increasingly prevalent in the state, and this is posing a significant security threat to the state, as criminals can take advantage of this practice to perpetuate crime and get away with it.

“Consequently, the Commissioner of police (CP), Benue State Command, Hassan Yabanet, has ordered all Area Commanders, Tactical Commanders and Divisional Police Officers, to impound such vehicles for investigation and prosecution.

“Motorists are hereby advised to ensure that their vehicle registration number plates remain clearly visible at all times while driving within the state, to avoid any inconvenience that may be caused by the enforcement.

“Together, we can contribute to the promotion of public safety and the maintenance of law and order in Benue State.”the PPRO said in the statement. (NAN)

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DEFENCE

Troops Rescue Abducted Kogi Varsity Students, others in Multiple Operations

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The Nigerian Army says its troops have rescued the nine abducted students of the Confluence University of Science and Technology in Osara, Kogi State.

The army, in a post on its official X Handle on Sunday, said the troops in collaboration with other security agencies and local vigilantes carried out a successful search and rescued the victims.

It said the troops encountered the scouts deployed by the kidnappers in the vicinity of the Osara Forests and nearby areas, resulting to a fierce fire fight.

According to the post, the superior fire power of the troops led to the kidnappers abandoning nine of the kidnapped students, who were subsequently rescued.

It said the troops had in a series of successful operations across the country, dealt substantial blows to terrorist groups and rescued several kidnap victims while a notorious militant surrendered.

The post also revealed that troops in the North West also rescued two persons abducted by terrorists in Danzara Village in Kanoma District in Maru Local Government Area of Zamfara.

It said the troops demonstrated their rapid response capabilities, when they received a distress call on the abduction of the two locals by violent extremists.

According to the army, the terrorists, who had seized the victims in a red Golf car, were pursued by the troops but flee and abandon the hostages without harm in the cause of the confrontation with troops.

In Katsina State, the post revealed that the proactive efforts of the troops led to the rescue of 17 abducted victims in the Solar General Area of Batsari Local Government Area.

It said the troops engaged the terrorists in a fierce gun battle, compelling them to abandon the kidnap victims, who were later safely returned to the care of Batsari Local Government officials.

“In Borno, a notable incident occurred when Alhaji Wosai, identified as a notorious member of the Boko Haram Terrorists operating within the Garno Village, in Dikwa Local Government Area,  voluntarily surrendered to troops.

“Wosai handed over his AK-47 rifle and a magazine containing two rounds of ammunition.

“These operations, highlight the relentless efforts of the Nigeria Army troops in combating terrorism and underscore their commitment to the safety and security of all citizens.

“Troops’ resolve in addressing the threat posed by terrorists and kidnappers remains unwavering, as they continue to work towards restoring peace and stability in the affected regions,” it said. (NAN)

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DEFENCE

Gombe: Army Assesses Barracks Infrastructure, Restates Commitment to Troops, Veterans’ Welfare

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Nigeria Army
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A team from the Nigerian Army Headquarters, Department of Army Administration, on Wednesday visited the 301 Artillery Regiment (GS) in Gombe, to assess the state of barracks infrastructure in the state.

This is contained in a press statement issued in Gombe by Capt. Mazinho Attah, the Acting Assistant Director Army Public Relations, 301 Artillery Regiment (General Support).

Attah said that the Acting Deputy Chief of Administration (Army) Veterans Affairs Department (VAD), Brig .

Gen Umaru Alkali, led the team to the state.

Attah quoted Alkali to have said that the visit was directed by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Taoreed Lagbaja, and aimed at improving  facilities and enhancing the welfare of veterans and serving personnel.

“The visit is to address current conditions of legions, Nigerian Army cemeteries as well as command schools and hospitals,” he said.

He further highlighted the ongoing efforts of the Nigerian Army leadership to ensure that troops and family welfare of serving and retired personnel remained top priority of the service.

While receiving the team, the Commander 301 Artillery Regiment, Colonel Musa Ahmed, briefed the team on the current conditions of facilities in Gombe State.

Ahmed noted the significance of completing ongoing projects at the new barracks and making it befitting for the regiment.

He further said that the assessment visit was crucial to boosting the morale of troops as well as impact positively on their living conditions.(NAN)

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