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Army, Police Claim Credit over Rescue of Islamic School Children in Conflicting Reports

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The Nigerian military and the police have given conflicting accounts on the students of an Islamic school (Islamiyya) in Katsina, who were rescued from bandits on Saturday.

While the military claims it took the lead in the operation which led to the rescue, the police say its men led the operation but were assisted by the local vigilante and troops.

There are also discrepancies in the number of students rescued.

The military said it rescued 39 pupils while the police said 80 pupils and four abducted adults were rescued from the bandits.

The accounts of both indicate there was a sort of collaboration amongst the three: military, police and vigilantes. Both the police and military, however, sought to claim the higher credit by statements they released afterwards.

The police, through its Katsina State spokesman, Gambo Isah, immediately released a statement stating that one of its divisional police officer “led a team of vigilantes and Sharan Daji (mostly soldiers and allied security agents)” who rescued 80 pupils and four adults.

“On receipt of the report, the DPO led Operations Puff Adder, Sharan Daji and Vigilante group to the area and engaged the bandits into a fierce gun duel. Subsequently, the teams succeeded in dislodging the bandits and rescued all the eighty four (84) kidnapped victims and recovered all the twelve rustled cows.”

“Search parties are still combing the area with a view of arresting the injured bandits and/or recovery of their dead bodies. Investigation is ongoing,” the police spokesperson said.

The Defence Headquarters, on Sunday, however, said the troops of Operation Hadarin Daji “in conjunction with Nigeria Police and local vigilante on Saturday, rescued 39 pupils”.

The Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, John Enenche, in a statement on Sunday, however, said the troops received a distress call at about 11:30 p.m. on Saturday from locals at Mahuta village that suspected bandits were moving with unconfirmed numbers of Islamiya children mostly girls and rustled cattle.

He said the troops “mobilised to the scene, laid ambush and blocked bandits’ route along Daudawa-Kadisau and road Sheme Mairuwa and Unguwar Audu village.”

According to him, “while patiently waiting for the bandits at the ambush and blocking position, troops established contact with bandits and engaged them”.

“During the fierce battle, troops superior fire power forced bandits to abandon the children and the rustled cattle thereby forcing the bandits to flee in disarray into the forest.

“Troops thereafter, searched the general area and rescued the 39 kidnapped girls in addition to the recovery of eight rustled cattle.

“The victims have been reunited with their families while the recovered cattle handed to the owners,” he said.

Mr Enenche said “the troops had dominated the general area with aggressive patrol to forestall further occurrence”.

He also “commended the locals and vigilantes for their cooperation in tackling the security challenges in the state”.

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Lekki Shooting: FG Full of Denials, Cover-ups, Says Amnesty International

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Nigerian authorities have failed to bring to justice those suspected to be responsible for the brutal crackdown by security forces on peaceful #EndSARS protesters at Lekki toll gate and Alausa in Lagos in October 2020 and have brazenly attempted to cover up the violence, said Amnesty International Nigeria today, 100 days on from the attacks.

Since the assault by security forces, which killed at least 12 people, Nigerian authorities have targeted supporters of the protests against police brutality by the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) Some of the movement’s supporters have had their bank accounts frozen.

“The bloody events of 20 October 2020, when Nigerian security forces killed at least 12 people during the violent dispersal of peaceful #EndSARS protesters at Lekki and Alausa, have cast a shadow over Nigerian society that lingers to this day,” said Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria.

“Instead of bringing suspected perpetrators to justice and prioritizing genuine police reforms, Nigerian authorities have been abusing their powers by subjecting those who supported the protests to intimidation, harassment and smear campaigns.”

Reports from across Nigeria indicate that police violence is still widespread despite government promises of change.

Amnesty International is concerned that the Nigerian authorities will continue their current ban on protests and reminds the government of its obligations under the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended) and international human rights treaties to – which the country is a state party – to allow those who gather peacefully to express their views without fear of arrest or intimidation.

International human rights law also requires the Nigerian authorities to carry out prompt, thorough, independent, impartial and effective investigations into violations of human rights of the protesters including the right to life, such as those committed at Lekki and Alausa, as well as in other parts of the country, and to identify and bring suspected perpetrators to justice in fair trials.

“Those suspected to be responsible for the killings should be brought to justice in accordance with international fair trial standards,” said Osai Ojigho.

Amnesty International is calling on the Nigerian government to suspend accused officials, pending investigations, and to ensure that victims access justice and effective remedies.

The Nigerian government has set up a panel of inquiry in Lagos State to investigate complaints against SARS and the incidents at Lekki and Alausa on 20 October 2020. However, government officials and the military continue to deny that anybody was killed during the protests while restating their resolve to punish leaders of the #EndSARS movement against police violence.

Investigations by Amnesty International indicate that since the #EndSARS protests were violently dispersed several of the movement’s leaders have been arrested, tortured and their bank accounts frozen. Many others have fled into exile.

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22 More Deaths, 1,861 New Infections As COVID-19 Worsens in Nigeria

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Nigeria recorded its second highest daily death toll from COVID-19, on Wednesday, suggesting the country has yet to reach the peak of the second wave, as infections continue to spread rapidly.

A total of 22 people died from COVID-19 on Wednesday to bring to 1,544, the total number of people who have now died from the disease in the country.

Nigeria also recorded its second highest daily infection tally with 1,861 new cases reported on Wednesday, according to the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

The 1,861 new cases, a sharp increase from the 1,303 infections recorded on Tuesday, raised the total number of infections in the country to 126,160.

Exactly a week ago, Nigeria recorded 1,964 new cases, the county’s highest daily figure ever.

Last week was one of the worst in Nigeria’s COVID-19 pandemic era.

A review of data provided by the NCDC, 11,659 persons tested positive for the virus last week (January 17- 23), which is 18 per cent higher than the previous week’s record of 9,880.

The direct adverse effect of the spike in infections has been more deaths.

In the previous 24 hours, before the latest update 15 people died from the disease.

Nigeria, about two weeks ago, recorded the deadliest day thus far in the global coronavirus pandemic, with 23 deaths under 24 hours.

Last week, Nigeria reported 82 deaths, which represents a 14 per cent increase from the previous week’s record.

Health authorities attributed the rising death toll to late referrals of COVID-19 patients to treatment centres.

Of the over 126,000 new cases, a total of 100,365 patients have recovered across the country.

Meanwhile, there are over 20,000 patients still receiving treatments in isolation centres.

The 1,861 new cases were reported from 22 states – Lagos (773), FCT (285), Oyo (138), Rivers (111), Plateau (92), Nasarawa (83), Kaduna (59), Enugu (57), Imo (57), Edo (43), Kano (27), Kwara (20), Ebonyi (19), Abia (17), Ogun (12), Osun (12), Katsina (8), Bayelsa (6), Bauchi (5), Delta (5), Borno (4), Jigawa (4), and Zamfara (1).

Lagos, Nigeria’s COVID-19 epicentre, led with 773 new cases followed by Abuja, the second most impacted city, with 285 new infections.

Nigerian authorities a few days ago said the COVID-19 vaccines expected this month will no longer arrive until February.

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Buhari Laments Inability to Keep Campaign Promises As Jubilation Heralds Sack of Buratai, Others

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President Muhammadu Buhari during a meeting with the service chiefs said his regime had not found it easy keeping the promises it made in 2015.

According to a statement by Adesina, the President urged the service chiefs to be patriotic, saying the country was in an emergency.

The statement quoted the President as telling the service chiefs that “We’re in a state of emergency. Be patriotic, serve the country well, as your loyalty is to the country.

“You know the stage we were in 2015, you know the stage we are now, and the undertakings we made.

“We promised to secure the country, revive the economy, and fight corruption. None has been easy, but we have certainly made progress.”

At the end of the meeting, Irabor, in an interview with State House correspondents, said Buhari told them that the expectations of Nigerians were high and they must do everything to meet them.

The North Central Governors Forum enjoined the new service chiefs to evolve in new strategies that will adequately address the security challenges that have bedeviled the region and the country as a whole.

The Chairman of the forum,  Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger State made the call on Wednesday in a statement while lauding the appointment of new service chiefs describing it as a noble decision by the President.

On its part, Borno Concern Citizens Forum hailed the removal of the former service chiefs as being timely and long overdue.

One of its leaders, Zanna Boguma, told The PUNCH that said the former service chiefs whose appointments were celebrated for being merited in 2015 suddenly became unpopular because of the degeneration in security of the country, particularly in the North-East.

There was jubilation in some military barracks over the Tuesday removal of the service chiefs.

A video circulated on social media captured some personnel screaming for joy and dancing in their barracks over the development.

There had been discontent in the armed forces over the lack of promotion and career stagnation occasioned by the extended stay of the service chiefs.

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