The Nigerian Air Force and traditional rulers in Zamfara State on Friday clashed over the air strikes launched by NAF against bandits in the state.
While the air force claimed their fighter jets destroyed the bandits’ logistics base in Ajia in Birnin Magaji Local Government Area and killed many bandits in other parts of the state, the Zamfara Council of Chiefs claimed the airmen missed their intended targets but instead killed innocent people.
This came as the United States Department of State issued a level 3 travel alert to its citizens to reconsider travelling to Nigeria, saying they should be wary of kidnapping and hostage-taking, among others, in the country.
Also, interstate bus drivers in Abuja, Lagos and Rivers cried out on Friday over a spate of kidnappings and armed robberies on Nigerian roads in recent weeks.
Friday’s disagreement between NAF and Zamfara emirs came barely a few days after the Federal Government accused monarchs in troubled areas of supporting bandits.
The Emir of Bungudu, Alhaji Hassan Attahiru, who spoke on behalf of the emirs, said the air strikes did not hit the camps of the bandits, saying reports from Gusau, Tsafe, Anka and Zurmi local government areas indicated that the areas bombed were not the actual camps of the bandits and the victims were innocent people.
However, NAF on Friday asked the monarchs to produce evidence that innocent people were killed during the air raids.
The NAF said the allegations were mischievous, insisting the air strikes were conducted only after “human intelligence reports”.
NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, in a terse statement told the emirs or anyone to produce evidence that innocent civilians were killed in the air attacks on bandits in the state.
He said, “The Air Force finds such reports rather ridiculous because most of the locations attacked are within the Rugu, Sububu and Kagara forests general area, which are known bandits’ hideouts that have been attacked in the past, without any outcry.
“The NAF’s target selection for operations is particularly rigorous in order to ensure a proper target identification to prevent strikes on wrong locations. The locations attacked in Zamfara were selected based on human intelligence reports obtained from security agencies and other government sources, traditional and community leaders as well as reliable, vetted informants.
“These were all further confirmed after days of detailed day and night Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance missions to ensure a proper targeting for avoidance of collateral damage.
“The NAF finds it rather mischievous that anyone will spread such a deliberate misinformation. NAF requests anyone with evidence to the effect that innocent civilians were targeted by the air strikes to produce such evidence. The NAF, as a professional service, will not take issue with any group of individuals, including traditional rulers, but will rather remain committed to ensuring the safety and security of all Nigerians.”
The air force said its fighter pilots by virtue of training could verify if an area had combatants or non-combatants, especially women and children.
Daramola said, “As a standard practice, NAF attack aircraft on air interdiction missions are accompanied by ISR platforms that guide them to designated targets.
“Furthermore, NAF pilots, in line with extant Rules of Engagement, do not attack any location if it is observed that non-combatants, especially women and children are present. In such cases, the pilots would rather return to the base with their munitions unexpended. Consequently, it is inconceivable that the NAF would attack locations where innocent civilians reside.”
Police, Soldiers Barricade SaharaReporters Lagos Office
Policemen and soldiers are currently barricading the office of online news platform, SaharaReporters in Lagos state.
The security operatives who are armed have reportedly prevented anyone from gaining access to the building located at GRA in Ikeja, while demanding that those, who are inside should come out.
According to SaharaReporters, the security operatives came in three vehicles and stationed themselves in front of the office.
In its latest update, SaharaReporters said, the security operatives were shouting, “Open the gate! Come outside.”
As of the time of this report, the security agents were banging on the gate of the office.
Omoyele Sowore, the publisher of the online platform had been in the custody of the Department of State Service since August when he was arrested at a Lagos hotel.
He was arrested for calling for a nationwide protest, tagged #RevolutionNow. Another protest had been scheduled for Wednesday (today) and SaharaReporters have claimed that was the reason of the presence of the security operatives.
ECOWAS Parliament Appeals to Nigeria to Reopen Borders
The ECOWAS Parliament on Monday appealed to the Nigerian government to reopen its closed borders as it hampers on the implementation of free trade movement within the ECOWAS region.
Speaker of the Parliament, Hon. Moustapha Cisse Lo, made the call in a statement at the opening of the 2nd Extra Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament in Monrovia, Liberia.
He added that the border closure poses a threat to the implementation of the Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons at a time when Africa need to intensify efforts for effective abolition of barriers within the Community.
Cisse Lo, however, urged the government to find a permanent solution to the challenge of smuggling, rather than closing the borders, which was not a lasting solution.
“In the same vein, the closure of the Nigerian borders with Benin more than a month ago and Niger more recently is a hindrance to the achievement of the Community’s main objective, which is to achieve the creation of a prosperous, borderless West African region where peace and harmony prevail.
“The ECOWAS Parliament calls for compliance with Community provisions and thus calls for the reopening of borders and a coordinated fight against smuggling in the region;
“The root causes of this recurrent situation must be studied with a view to finding a permanent solution.” he added
He also condemned the Xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa, saying that it had constituted real threats to African integration.
“At the time of our session, serious events are taking place on our continent and should be given special attention.
“Indeed, in South Africa, in recent weeks, we have witnessed an upsurge in extremely violent xenophobic acts.
“These sad images of Africa, these painful events and the tensions they generate challenge us as elected representatives of our peoples, we are extremely concerned and deeply outraged.
“The ECOWAS Parliament calls on the South African authorities to assume their responsibility by guaranteeing all their foreign nationals the right to life, physical integrity and free movement.
“We also call on all African States and the African Union to adopt diligent initiatives to restore peace and security and ensure a return to calm in South Africa and all other States.
Cisse Lo, however, expresses the readiness of the Parliament to discuss the 2020 budget of the ECOWAS Community.
He said that the agenda of the extra ordinary session was to adopt Parliament’s draft Budget for 2020 financial year, as well as the revision of Rule 13 of the Rules of Procedure of the Fourth Parliament devoted to the Inaugural Session.
He said that an Ad Hoc Committee was set up to prepare a preliminary draft of Parliament’s Budget for the year 2020.
According to him, the report of the said Ad Hoc Committee was transmitted and examined by the Bureau of Parliament at its last meeting held in Monrovia.
“Parliament’s competent committee, in particular the Administration, Finance and Budget Control Committee, after approval by Parliament will report to the Plenary.
“This is an opportunity for each of us, honourable colleagues, to impose a rigorous discipline on ourselves in order to examine the preliminary draft Budget 2020 carefully and objectively.
” I remain convinced that we will be diligent and punctual, so that the full treatment of our agenda can be accomplished under good and fruitful conditions,” he said.
Seyi Makinde: Celebrating 100 Days of Immeasurable Achievements
By Eric Elezuo
His road to becoming the executive governor of Oyo State on May 29, 2019 was everything divine, little wonder he has not looked back in attempting to do and doing the right thing for the people of the state. His name is Engineer Abiodun Oluwaseyi Makinde. He has just clocked 100 days on the seat of administration and has an avalanche of reference-able achievements in his 100 days kit. Here is a man who waved his immunity as governor, declaring that he wished to be held accountable even while still in office.
Born to a renowned teacher turned accountant, late Pa Olatubosun Makinde and Madam Abigail Makinde of Aigbofa Compound in Oja’ba, Ibadan, Makinde, popularly called GSM, who is the third child of the family, brought with him integrity, honesty, transparency and much more to governance. He gave stakeholders as well as detractors the shock of their lives when he boldly and publicly declared his N40 billion assets. Makinde’s action, which no one is yet to reciprocate or replicate, is a testimony of the fact that he made verifiable wealth, and is not in possession of any form of ‘skeleton’. Not only that, Makinde made a statement of where he is coming from and the destination his vision is set. And in 100 days, watchers and observers can tell the story better, of a man so endowed with wisdom and mission.
Set to celebrate 52 years on December 25, the businessman and philanthropist hit the ground running immediately he took the oath of office 100 days ago, and since then, has left no one in doubt as to the calibre of administration he is bringing to the table.
Down to earth, fearless and people oriented, Governor Seyi Makinde policies and pronouncements have set apart as one who knowns his onions. These have no doubt charted a veritable path to immeasurable success within a short space of time. His first step pointed towards security, and he did what most past governors and administrators of Oyo State could not muster enough courage to do – he proscribed the notorious National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW). This singular act has brought easy calm to Ibadan and environs.
Makinde has also reviewed the Oyo State of N285 billion as approved by his predecessor to a more realistic N182 billion.
In 100 days, the subject matter expert on fluid and gas metering has established a foundation for an all encompassing four-point agenda for the expansion of the economy through the agriculture value chain, security, health and education.
Among many of his landmark efforts is the partnership with Agritech Company, Farmcrowdy for Agribusiness. He has put measures in place to revive the abandoned grain silo at Awe as well as conducted on the spot assessment of private owned agribusiness Venture-Ajila Farm and Shongai Farms in Port Novo Benin Republic for the purpose of collaborating with local and foreign agribusiness investors.
While he has procured 100 surveillance vehicles worth over N800 million to further strengthen the security agencies across the state, a new security architecture aimed at complementing the efforts of the police and other security operatives in fighting crime in every nook and cranny of Oyo state will soon be launched.
In education, GSM has cancelled all levies paid in public schools in Oyo State thereby reintroducing the free education policies of the Yoruba sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. In addition, he approved the release of over N400 million for the provision of exercise books in all public schools across the state.
In Oyo State today, 25th has practically been deleted on the calendar, and replaced with GSM day. Any civil servant will confidently tell you that is the day his monthly salary is paid. Salaries are now regular, and payment is in full just as Pensioners gratuity is mandatorily paid monthly.
The youths are not left out as they have been massively empowered in his administration. A 32-year-old man is the speaker of the state House of Assembly, while a 27-year-old, Seun Fakorede, was appointed commissioner among others
Oluseyi Abiodun Makinde was born on December 25, 1967. Quite an achiever, Makinde established his first oil and gas private business called Makon Engineering and Technical Services, (METS) at the age of 29 in the year 1997, after earning years of work experience with international oil and gas companies. Until August 2018, he was the Group Managing Director of Makon Group Limited; an indigenous oil and gas company in Nigeria.
Makinde began his education at St Paul Primary School and completed his primary education at St Michael Primary School, Yemetu, Ibadan. His secondary education was at Bishop Phillips Academy, Monatan, Ibadan. In 1985, he gained admission to the University of Lagos (UNILAG) where he earned his Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering.
Makinde did his national service (NYSC) with Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) of Nigeria, where he was later engaged as a pupil engineer. He served in different capacities; handling and partaking in several key projects between 1990 and 1992. From 1992 to 1997, he worked as a field Engineer (Eket operations) for Rebold International Limited and in 1995, he was appointed as Field Manager in the same company.
In 1998, he trained at Industrial Control Services in Houston, Texas on Safety Shutdown System; and Development of Analytical Competence for Managing Operations at Lagos Business School (now Pan-Atlantic University) in 1999. In 2000, he had training in automation. In 2002, he studied Fundamentals of Crude Sampling at Jiskoot Auto Control Training Centre, Kent, England. Also, in 2005, he studied Understanding and Solving Complex Business Problems at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA.
Makinde is a member of national and international professional bodies notably: Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Council for Regulations of Engineering in Nigeria(COREN), Oil and Gas Design Engineers of Nigeria (OGDEN), International Society of Automation (ISA), Institute of Measurement and Control UK; and American Measurement Institute (AMI).
GSM has had his fair share of political fortunes and misfortunes. On two occasions (2007 and 2011), he had unsuccessfully ran for the senatorial seat of Oyo South Senatorial zone
He tried his hands on the governorship pie in 2015 under the Social Democratic Party (SDP), but lost out in the end. Undeterred, he tried again in 2019, and fortune smiled graciously on him. He defeated his APC rival with quite a huge margin
Makinde is happily married and they are blessed with children.