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Gunmen Block Sokoto-Gusau Road, Abduct ‘over 50’ Travellers

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At least 50 travellers have been abducted in Sokoto State by armed bandits, a witness has said. An official of the Sokoto government confirmed the abductions but did jot state the number of victims.

The victims were travelling on Sokoto-Gusau road on Sunday when they were kidnapped.

The total number of people kidnapped during the Sunday morning operation has not been confirmed, but a witness said over 50 people were kidnapped.

Premium Times reports that most of those abducted where boarding buses belonging to the State Transport Authority, simple known as SPORA.

Confirming the attack to journalists, Yahuza Chika, the general manager of the Sokoto Mass Transit, said only one of their buses was involved, while other vehicles involved did not belong to them.

He said two people from the bus escaped while the other passengers were taken by the bandits. He did not give the number of those kidnapped from his organisation’s bus.

However, a motorist from Talata Mafara going to Sokoto, Abubakar Umar, said more than 50 people were kidnapped during the operation that lasted more than 30 minutes.
He said, “I was driving when I started hearing gunshots. I had to stop immediately after Lambar Bakura and other motorists stopped too. When the road was cleared, we drove to the spot and they were many vehicles empty parked. I counted three empty SPORA vehicles.”

Another motorist, Isa Mustapha, said the attack occurred few minutes after he drove past the spot.

“From Tureta to Lambar Bakura, you can count more than ten security checkpoints that include police, immigration and soldiers, how then could bandits be terrorising same place every day?

“I left just a little after 11 in the morning and I started getting calls to confirm whether I’ve left the spot because bandits have started attacking people. It’s scary.”

Ahmad Madunaka, a school teacher in Sokoto, said “commuters in the first three vehicles were completely kidnapped and those included the SPORA vehicle.”

Kidnapping for ransom has become commonplace in Sokoto and many other states in Nigeria.

The attacks in Sokoto and other states in Northwest Nigeria are carried out by armed bandits whose aim is to terrorise residents and make money.

Apart from the kidnappings, the bandits also kill residents of communities at will. A group of bandits recently shot down an alpha jet the military was using to attack the bandits in neighbouring Zamfara State.

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LASTMA Denies Involvement in Burning of Bus, Warns Against Attack on Personnel

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The Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) has denied reports making the rounds that its personnel were involved in the burning of a bus at the Obanikoro bus stop, Ikorodu Road. The Authority, while asking residents to desist from attacking LASTMA officials, stated that the report was the handiwork of an uninformed blogger.

Buttressing the facts of the matter in a statement signed by the Asst. Director, Public Affairs, Filade Olumide, and made available to the National Association of Online Security News Publishers (NAOSNP), the Authority hinted that “LASTMA Management after due diligence on the video, sympathise with the vehicle owner, but categorically deny complicity of any of its officers in the incidence portrayed on the video” while regretting that “…one of the LASTMA patrol officers offering helping hand with the burning vehicle was severely injured by uncalled-for mob action which seems to be occurring nowadays at the slightest alarm.”

The statement also condemned the shallow portrayal of the allegation as the picture evidence did not depict the allegation against its officials.

“The video report lacked pictorial evidence of LASTMA officers’ complicity; those interviewed were neither eye witnesses nor people directly involved in the incident, rather, they were people living within the inside street, close to the scene of the incidence on Ikorodu Road. Their evidences were hear-says’ and limited to after the arrival of security agencies officials to maintain law and order, after attacks on one of the LASTMA officials and also the Fire Fighters that were there to render assistance in putting out the fire in the vehicle,” the statement read.

It added that:

“LASTMA officials do not operate within side street and over time, the State Government has announced zero tolerance to attack on its officials while performing their duties as enshrined in the laws or as directed.

“We wish to reiterate that LASTMA personnel must not be attacked/assaulted while performing their duties or rendering service to the public.

“The LASTMA management also use this opportunity to advise reporters/bloggers to endeavour to conduct proper investigation and present facts rather than sentiments in their reportage for a peaceful and orderly society.”

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Ondo Amotekun Arrests Suspected Masterminds of Owo Church Massacre

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The Ondo State Security Network Agency, codenamed “Amotekun Corps” has confirmed that some suspects have been arrested in connection with the terrorist attack on St. Francis Catholic Church, Owo.

The suspected terrorists invaded the church on June 5, killing no fewer than 40 people and injuring many other worshippers.

The state Commander of Amotekun, Adetunji Adeleye, on Thursday said some suspects had been arrested in connection with the killing.

He stated this while parading some 71 men who were arrested for various criminal activities across the state.

He, however, did not give the actual figure of the suspected terrorists arrested, but expressed assurance that all the attackers of the worship centre would be apprehended.

The Amotekun boss said, “As regards the Owo incident, we have recovered the last vehicle they used for that operation and we made some arrests, and we have also recovered some vital things which we are working on.

“A number of people have been arrested concerning the Owo issue as well as a number of equipment. On that day, we pursued them to the point that we recovered the vehicle and we are still pursuing them. We have told you that until we get to the root, I can assure you that the perpetrators and their sponsors will be brought to book.”

On the 71 suspected criminals paraded at the headquarters of the command in Akure, the state capital, Adeleye explained that the suspects were arrested within the last one month for various offenses ranging from armed robbery, cattle rustling, kidnapping, raping, fraud and human trafficking.

“The 71 suspects were picked while committing offences and others were tracked to their hideouts in the forests. We have been able to get a cartel that specialises in stealing and dismantling motorbikes which we all know as okada. Also, we were able to recover over 50 bikes during the operation from these criminals.

“We also got reports from some herdsmen that their cattle were stolen. We went after them and brought the cows back to the Fulani herdsmen that owned the cow. We have a group of small boys who are under 18-year old that turned themselves into a cartel of criminals in a particular local government in Ondo State and armed themselves. They actually belong to a cult group called ‘Agbado’. We were able to arrest 12 out of the 17 members.

“We have about three to four suspected kidnappers and we intend to take most of these suspects, especially the ones we have concluded their investigations to the DPP and for their onward prosecution in court.”

He assured the people of the state that the corps would not rest on its oars until it rids the state of criminal elements, saying, “there is no hiding place for them. They turned the heat on us and we have also turned the heat on them.”

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Immigration Service Collaborates with FRONTEX, Poland on Border Security

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An Eight-Man Delegation of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) has paid a two-day working visit to the headquarters of the European Border Agency, the FRONTEX.

The Public Relations Officer of the Service, Mr. Amos Okpu, in a statement released to the National Association of Online Security News Publishers (NAOSNP), said the Service paid the visit last week to hold discussions with the agency officials on border security and migration management matters.

He noted that the delegation, which was led by the Deputy Comptroller General in charge of the Directorate of Border Management, DCG Muhammad Aminu Muhammad mni was received on arrival at the FRONTEX Headquarters in Warsaw, Poland by senior officials of the organization including Mr. Iain Galea of the International Cooperation Division.

In her welcome remarks, the interim Executive Director of FRONTEX, Aija Kalnaja, stated that Nigeria, and indeed the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), remains a very dependable partner to her agency in the areas of border security and migration management. She stressed that the relationship between her agency and the NIS dated back to 2012 when both agencies entered into a Working Arrangement on Border Security and Migration Management. She maintained that the relationship has remained very enduring and useful to both agencies particularly in the areas of experience sharing and capacity building. She made a case for enhanced collaboration and partnerships by border agencies for a sustained fight against cross-border crimes, especially migrants smuggling and trafficking.

“I sincerely hope that both agencies will explore the opportunity of this meeting to examine the existing Working Arrangement to see if there are areas of possible review in line with current global migratory reality,” she stated.

Responding, the NIS team leader and Head of the Directorate of Border Management, DCG Aminu Muhammad, expressed appreciation for the warm reception accorded his team. He stressed that modern migratory realities are indicating that no unilateral efforts at migration and border security management will endure hence meetings such as this should be encouraged. He reiterated NIS’ strong commitment to healthy collaboration with friendly Border security agencies such as FRONTEX, and called for frank discussions during plenary. He further stressed the need for countries in Europe and other developed states to look beyond establishing border barricades to control migration, but make enduring arrangements to sincerely join efforts with authorities in developing countries to frontally address the pull and push factors of modern migration. He reiterated that the quantum of investments in building high-rise border barricades would not yield lasting benefits if the living conditions of people in developing countries remain abysmally poor.

Earlier, the facilitator of the trip and Country Representative of FIIAPP, implementer of the Action Against Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants in Nigeria (A-TIPSOM), Mr. Rafael Molina, stated that his organisation decided to facilitate the trip with the aim of building enhanced synergy between FRONTEX and NIS for a more coordinated approach to the fight against irregular and dangerous migration.

The meeting witnessed robust plenary sessions during which presentations on matters such as the role of Migration Information and Data Analysis System (MIDAS) the NIS Regional Migration Academy Fundamental Human Rights as an Essential Component of European Integrated Border Management, FRONTEX Law Enforcement Function and the Fight Against TIPSOM in the EU, Fundamental Human Rights as an Essential Component of European Integrated Border Management, FRONTEX Support in the Entire Return Process among others were made.

Some major highlights of the meeting include expressions of strong commitment to enhanced collaboration and partnership by both agencies in the fight against irregular migration as well as robust assurances for more enriching capacity building engagements between both agencies.

The delegation, before rounding up the trip, visited the Nigerian Embassy, and got treated to a very warm reception by His Excellency, Major General (retd) Christian C. Ugwu, the Nigerian envoy to Poland and his great team. The delegation has since returned to Abuja.

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