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Nigerian Government To Engage Militants Over Kidnapping, Others

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Amid the incessant cases of sea piracy and kidnapping at the coastal communities in Oron, Akwa Ibom State, the President General of Oro Development Union, Sir Esang Nsa Bassey in this interview urged Akwa Ibom State government to seek audience with the ex-militants who have expressed willingness to stop their nefarious activities. He also expressed dismay at the delay in the realization of Ibaka deep seaport, among other issues.

The Federal government in 2013 proposed to construct a bridge for Oron-Calabar River, what is the update?

Actually, the contract for the construction of the bridge was awarded in 2013 under the leadership of Goodluck Jonathan without funding the project. We hope that the present Federal government will mobilize contractors to complete the bridge. It’s about 13.5km. The bridge when completed will ease movement from the South South region to the North East region of the country and boost the economy. Even the people of Northern Cross River will equally benefit. We urge the federal government to make funding arrangements immediately. Oron remains a coastal town and a Nigeria window to other countries such as Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, among others.

So we want the federal government to reactivate that project, resolve what held it back. They would have signed the funding agreement but there came the issue of alignment where the bridge should start and where it should stop, so we want them to speedily resolve what was the problem. Also we have the issue of our seashores being constantly washed away; the federal government, since it is their duty, should protect our shorelines so that it will not go beyond what we are having at the moment.

Is there any problem between Akwa Ibom State government and Oro nation because Uyo, Nsit Atai, Okobo road have remained uncompleted for many years unlike other road projects?

As a people, we don’t have any problem with the Akwa Ibom State government. Since 1999, the five local governments in Oro have been supporting the state government even up to this moment but I can’t understand why we’ve been marginalized and our road remains like that up till this moment. I will say the present administration is trying to do something about it, until they do it, it is what it is. The truth is that unless you develop Oro the whole Akwa Ibom State remains undeveloped. Thank God that the state government is trying to do something on parts of the roads. While the state government is doing that, we call on the federal government to work on the trunk A road- Oron-Uyo Ikot-Ekpene-Aba. The portion between Aba Ikot Ekpene is under construction but Uyo Oron, Ikot Ekpene Axis of trunk A road should be awarded to good contractors and the project completed as soon as possible, it is something that will boost the economy of the area.

Honestly, Ibaka deep seaport has been embroiled in politics over the years, the Federal government set up an implementation committee to deliver the port within two years, what happened thereafter we cannot comprehend. Till today, the state government has not told us why the federal government had to leave, why the name has to change from Ibaka deep seaport to Ibom deep seaport and where the new location of the seaport is.

I think one day the seaport will be constructed at Ibaka because it has a natural bay; as I said earlier, unless you develop Oron, the rest of the Akwa Ibom State will remain undeveloped, because if you can’t develop a seaport there, I don’t see how this state can develop economically and benefit from blue sea economy that the present federal government is championing. Go to Lagos State, they have Tin Can Island, Apapa wharf, then Lekki seaport and they are building another one in Badagry and we are here struggling to get one seaport.

I think we should understand that when the port is constructed, it’s not only Oro people that will benefit from it, everybody will benefit from that. So, nobody should try to stifle the project thinking to stop Oro people from benefiting from it. Also, if the state government allows the proposed solution hub of the NNPC to come up, it will also bring development to the state.

Are you not worried that the Maritime Academy upgraded to a university is yet to commence operation?

Yes we are very worried that Maritime Academy is yet to function as a university after the law establishing it received assent by the then President Muhammadu Buhari in 2022. What is remaining now is for the Federal government to constitute the governing council and appoint a Vice Chancellor. We hope that the senate president, Chief Godswill Akpabio will look into it as he promised and ensure its full implementation.

The rate of sea piracy and kidnapping in Oron is getting too high, what are the measures put in place by the union to address it?

Insecurity has become a problem all over the country. We know that it is getting high in Oron, a once bubbling community and market in Oron is now a ghost town due to the activities of these people.

When I assumed office, I had a meeting with the ex-militants in this area, they paid me a courtesy visit and issues of insecurity, sea piracy, kidnapping were raised and they (ex-militants) assured me that they would work with me to ensure that insecurity is addressed. If you look at other parts of the country, the governments are using them (ex-militants) to maintain peace by giving them contracts to protect the area as well as pipelines.

So, why is our state government not adopting that? Why is our state government refusing to speak with these ex-militants who agreed to stop militancy and incessant kidnapping in Oron? They said they need the government to assist them in terms of funding and engage them. I use the opportunity to call on the Akwa Ibom State government to address the issues of ex-militants in Oron so as to curb the insecurity issues bedeviling the area.

Since the creation of Akwa Ibom State, we’ve had prominent sons and daughters of Oron in government but none has become the governor, do you still have hope that the Oron nation will produce a governor in the near future?

I have great hope that one day we will have a governor of Oron extraction; we are standing on a three tripod, the other two have had their turn and Oron will one day occupy the hilltop mansion. Irrespective of the marginalization of Oron people, we will get there. All I know is that political power is not given, it is worked for, we shall raise our sons and daughters who will have the will to work for the power, grab it and run with it.

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Troop uncovers ISWAP bread factory in Borno

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By Francesca Hangeior

Troops of Operation Lake Sanity III, under Operation Hadin Kai, have reportedly discovered an Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorist bread production factory hidden within their den in Maisani, Timbuktu Triangle, Damboa Local Government Area of Borno State.

According to intelligence sources quoted by security analyst and counter-insurgency expert, Zagazola Makama, on Monday, the Combined troops of 199 Special Forces Battalion, in conjunction with Hybrid Forces and Civilian JTF (Joint Task Force), stumbled upon the bread factory during an exploitation mission into the terrorists’ hideout on over the weekend.
“The sources said that the factory was destroyed while items recovered include 2 Lister generating plants, 1 baking machine, and several baking materials,” Makama reported.

According to the report, the discovery came amidst a week-long clearance operation aimed at decimating the terrorists from their stronghold in the Timbuktu Triangle, an area comprising Buk 1, 2, and 3, Talala, Ajigin, Dusula, Abulam, and Gorgi – a region notorious for harbouring these extremist groups.

“These groups of terrorists are mostly responsible for attacks, ambushes, and IED/mine incidents targeting the Damboa roads, Damaturu-Maiduguri MSR (Main Supply Route), attacks towards Askira, Buratai, Buni Yadi, as well as the destruction of the high-tension transmission line connecting Borno and Yobe State.

“These groups of terrorists are mostly responsible for attacks, ambushes and IED/mine towards Damboa roads, Damaturu-Maiduguri MSR, attacks towards Askira, Buratai, Buni Yadi as well as destruction of high tension transmission line connecting Borno and Yobe State.

“Despite the complexity of the terrain characterized by highly fortified camp mostly located under thick foliage and IEDs planted in several locations within the Timbuktu Triangle, the troops continued to maintain high fighting efficiency,” Makama stated.

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Residents Panic As 30 Cows Die After Eating Poisoned Grains In Kwara

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Thirty cows have died after consuming grains allegedly poisoned in Ilorin, Kwara State.

A source explained that the cows were brought out from the Mandate Market for their routine grazing around the School of Arabic and Islamic Legal Studies when the incident occurred at the weekend.

One of the owners of the cows, simply identified as Olugbon, said they received a distress call that their cows were falling and dying while returning to the Mandate Market.

He said, “We discovered they ate poisonous grains on their path and 30 died before we got to the scene. We suspect sabotage.”

On his part, Ismail Ibrahim, another herder, said, “Other affected cows have been treated and kept under watch; we lost more than 30.”

The Babaloja of the Mandate Market, Murtala Tanbariku, while describing the development as unfortunate, solicited the state government’s support for the affected traders.

Meanwhile, a group, Kwara Monitoring Group (KMG), in a statement by its Coordinator, Dan-Musa, alleged that some of the dead animals were being slaughtered and distributed to butchers to be sold.

He, therefore, called for an immediate action from the government.

Before then, City & Crime gathered that a state government’s delegation went to the market to confiscate the suspected beef.

Led by the Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development and her health counterpart, Mrs Toyosi Thomas-Adebayo and Dr Amina Ahmed El-Imam, the team said they came to activate measures to protect the public amid rumours of poisoned beef.

In a statement, the government said, “The government has immediately confiscated all the suspected meat for laboratory tests and confirmation of claims after initial engagements with the Mandate Market stakeholders.”

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Terrorists Kill 2 Army Officers, 4 Soldiers In Niger State Ambush

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Troops of 1 Division Nigerian Army deployed at Allawa and Erena, while on a fighting patrol to Karaga Village in Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State experienced a setback when two officers and four soldiers were killed by terrorists.

Major Gen Onyema Nwacbukwu Director of Army Public Relations said they were killed during an encounter in an ambush staged by terrorists on 19 April 2024.

Nwachukwu said, “Troops gallantly fought through the ambush and eliminated several of the terrorists as well as captured some of their equipment.

“Sadly, the troops suffered a temporary setback as 6 personnel comprising 2 officers and 4 soldiers paid the supreme price.

“The General Officer Commanding 1 Division and Commander Operation Whirl Punch, Maj Gen Landers Saraso has on behalf of the Chief of Army Staff sympathized with the families of the deceased personnel and promised them that the unfortunate setback will be avenged by the troops.

“He said the troops are currently trailing some of the terrorists who survived and fled after the encounter.

“He urged the good people of the State to go about their legitimate and lawful activities and reassured them that the Nigerian Army and other security agencies will ensure their protection at all times.

Continuing he said, “In line with customs and traditions, the Nigerian Army authority has contacted the Next of Kins of the fallen heroes, while burial has been conducted for the deceased muslim personnel with the consent and approval of their family members.

“The Chief of Army Staff was represented at the burial which took place at Minna Military Cantonment Cemetery by the Commander Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), Maj Gen Kelvin Aligbe.

“The Deputy Governor, representative of the COAS, GOC and other senior officers also visited the 2 wounded soldiers receiving medical attention at the Military Hospital and subsequently paid condolence visit to the families of the deceased.

“We urge the general public, particularly the good people of Niger and contiguous states to continue to avail the Nigerian Army and other security agencies with actionable and timely information to enhance the operations of the troops.”

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