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Air Force Faults Emirs’ Claims, Demands Evidence of Dead Civilians

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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.”

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FG Dismisses Dangote Petroleum As Inferior, Says Refinery Not Yet Licenced, Not Completed

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By Eric Elezuo

A Federal Government of Nigeria petroleum regulatory agency, the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, (NMDPRA), has dismissed petroleum products from the Dangote Refinery as inferior, in the guise of those f4om Watersmith and Aradel, making a case for superiority of imported ones.

The revelation was made by the Chief Executive Officer of NMDPRA, Mr. Farouk Ahmed, while responding to questions from a section of the press, a video of which is trending online, adding that the refinery is only 45% completed, and yet to be licenced for operation by the Nigerian government.

Earlier, the Vice President of Dangote Industries Limited, Devakumar Edwin, had alleged that most fuel products imported into Nigeria are substandard, blaming International Oil Companies (IOCs) of frustrating Dangote’s quest for production.

In the short video, which lasted a little over a minute, Mr. Ahmed debunked theories attached to the functionality of the Dangote Refinery, saying it does not have the capacity to ‘feed’ the nation of its petroleum needs, as it stands. He however, refuted arguments that some elements within the oil and gas sector were trying to scuttle the Dangote Refinery.

A transcript of the NMDPRA’s boss short response is as follows:

“It about concerns of supply of petroleum products acros the nationwide, and the claim that we are trying to scuttle Dangote. That is not so. Dangote Refinery is still in the pre-commissioning stage. It has not been licenced yet. We haven’t licenced them yet. I think they are about 45 per cent completed, or completion rather.

“We cannot rely on one refinery to feed the nation, because Dangote is requesting that we suspend or stop imports, especially of AGO and DPK, and direct all marketers to his refinery. That is not good for the nation in terms of energy security, and it is not good for the market because of the monopoly.

“Dangote Refinery, as well as some modular refineries like Watersmith Refinery and Aradel Refinery, are producing between 650 and 1,200 PPM. Therefore, in terms of quality, their products are inferior to imported ones,” he stated.

It will be recalled that only last Sunday, the President, Dangote Industries Limited, Aliko Dangote, while hosting senior journalists from across various media concerns, revealed that the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) owns only 7.2% of stakes in the refinery, and not 20 percent as widely circulated. He also revealed that the refinery is set to begin fuel supply in August 2024.

Many stakeholders and respondents have alleged that there’s no love lost between the government of the day and the Dangote Group, and that explains the hiccup situation surrounding the takeoff the $19 billion refinery.

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JAMB Denies Setting Admission Cut-off Mark, Says No Such Thing

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The Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), has denied setting cut-off marks for admissions into higher institutions across the country.

In a statement posted on its official X account on Thursday, the Board dismissed reports that it had set 140 as cut-off marks for universities, and 100 for polytechnics respectively.

“There’s no such thing as ‘cut-off mark’ in admission process to tertiary institutions in Nigeria, what’s obtainable is minimum tolerable score determinable by individual institutions,” it said.

The denial comes just one day after it was widely reported, that the Board had pegged 140 as a cut-off mark for admission into universities, and 100 as the minimum cut-off point mark for admission into polytechnics and colleges of education.

The statement attributed to JAMB Registrar, Professor Ishaq Oloyede, quoted him as announcing the development in Abuja at the 2024 Policy meeting of the Board.

The meeting had in attendance the Minister of Education, Tahir Mamman, vice-chancellors, rectors and registrars of higher institutions and other stakeholders.

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We Communicated Our Stand to Dangote, NNPC Reacts to Owning Only 7.2% Stake in Refinery

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The Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited has explained why it holds only a 7.2% equity in the $19 billion Dangote Refinery, instead of the widely speculated 20%. 

A statement released on Sunday by Femi Soneye, the Chief Corporate Communications Officer of NNPCL, addressed the company’s recent decision regarding its investment in the Dangote Refinery.  

Soneye said that the decision to reduce their investment was carefully considered and communicated several months ago to Aliko Dangote. 

Dangote mentioned to newsmen on Sunday that NNPC no longer holds a 20% stake in the refinery.  

He explained that this change occurred because NNPCL failed to pay the balance of their share, which was due in June. 

Reacting, NNPC said:  

“NNPC Limited periodically assesses its investment portfolio to ensure alignment with the company’s strategic goals.

“The decision to cap its equity participation at the paid-up sum was made and communicated to Dangote Refinery several months ago,” NNPC said.

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