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Insecurity in Plateau and the threat to Nigeria’s food supply

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Armed groups relentlessly target farmers in the heart of Jos, not only snuffing out lives but also obstructing vital food supplies and plunging the nation further into a devastating hunger crisis.

Despite the state government’s curfew, a series of attacks near Mangu town has resulted in the tragic loss of at least 30 lives and numerous injuries.These escalating assaults on farmers lead to displacement, disrupt markets, and rob people of their means of survival.

The ‘Middle Belt,’ a region in Nigeria known for its ethnic and religious diversity, has long been plagued by conflicts between farmers and herders, breeding violence that has claimed countless lives.

The recent violence in Plateau state occurred just days after a Christmas Day attack that left at least 140 people dead. In response, a dusk-to-dawn curfew was imposed on January 23. Residents in the North-central region, where Plateau is located, point to armed herders as the main culprits behind the attacks on farmers.

These herders, driven by disputes over land, have been responsible for the killings and escalating tensions in the area. On Wednesday, a farmer was attacked and killed on his farm in the Gada Biu-Mbar community, while a herder was killed in the Butara Kampany community of the same area.

However, the prevailing mutual suspicion between the native farmers and herders, stemming from the Christmas Eve attacks that claimed over 150 lives, has further exacerbated the situation.

The cycle of violence and reprisal attacks continues to escalate, leaving communities in fear and farmers unable to tend to their crops. The consequences are dire, with critical food supplies being disrupted and the country facing a deepening hunger crisis.

A community leader in the Bokkos LGA  and Chairman, Community Peace Observers in the council area, Kefas Mallai said, “In the Gada Biu-Mbar incident, the native farmer was on his farm to irrigate his Irish potatoes.

“Suddenly, some Fulani herders led their cows into his farm and he drove the cows away. Shortly after that, armed Fulani herders invaded the farm and killed the native farmer and that created tension in the area.

“Then, as Fulani herders were seen in a vehicle at Butara Kampany community, some vigilant natives tried to stop the car to search them but the Fulani occupants jumped out of the vehicle and started running away. In the process, one of the herders was killed also. There was also an exchange of fire between them.”

In the same vein, Governor Caleb Mutfwang, has raised his voice against the recent breach of security that has left a trail of devastation in the Kwahaslalek community and various parts of the Mangu Local Government Area.

With a heavy heart, Mutfwang expressed his deep sorrow through a statement delivered by his trusted Director of Press and Public Affairs, Gyang Bere.

The governor lamented the alarming rise in security challenges, which have not only shattered homes and livelihoods but also instilled fear in the hearts of the people, courtesy of these suspected hoodlums.

In a gesture of empathy, Mutfwang extended his heartfelt condolences to the grieving families, the affected communities, and those who have been injured in these unfortunate incidents. He acknowledged the pain and suffering they are enduring and assured them of his unwavering support during these trying times.

In a bid to combat this menace, the governor called upon the affected individuals and communities to remain vigilant.

He emphasised the importance of promptly reporting any suspicious activities to the authorities, as this would enable swift intervention and help restore peace and security to the region.

However, the police have uncovered no less than 10 lifeless bodies scattered across different locations, serving as haunting reminders of the recent wave of attacks and killings.

The tragic events unfolded when Kwahaslalek village fell victim to a merciless assault in the early hours of Wednesday.

Gunmen unleashed chaos, claiming the lives of 30 innocent souls. In a desperate bid for safety, the victims, predominantly women and children, sought refuge in the home of a revered community leader the night before.

Tragically, their sanctuary was shattered as the assailants surrounded them, leaving no survivors in their wake.

Addressing the press at the police command headquarters in Jos, the state capital, the Assistant Inspector General of Police for Zone 4, Ebong Eyibio, revealed the grim details.

He confirmed the arrest of nine individuals believed to be connected to the heinous act. Additionally, in a bid to restore peace and stability, extra police personnel have been deployed to the troubled council area.

The AIG paraded the nine suspects alongside eight others previously apprehended during the preceding crisis.

“The Plateau State Police Command has successfully repelled an attack on villages in Mangu LGA of the State,” declared Eyibio, emphasising the authorities’ commitment to safeguarding the community.

“On 24/01/24 at about 2200hrs, we received intelligence concerning an attack which was targeted at the Ntam community and the ASTC Company, both of Mangu LGA. Our team of agile police officers from the IGP Special Intervention Squad stationed at the ASTC in conjunction with Area Commander Pankshin and the DPO swung into action and thwarted the attempted attack.

“In a separate incident, an attempt by some arsonists in Panyam District to set fire on some worship centres was prevented by swift intervention from the police and with help from some elders of the community.”

The police boss added that to further strengthen the existing security architecture in Mangu LGA and ensure compliance with the curfew imposed by the government and prevent further escalation of the incidence which is almost snowballing into an ethno-religious crisis, he has ordered the deployment of additional Special Intervention Personnel to Mangu LGA.

The attackers targeted several villages including Kwahaslalek, Kinat and Mairana, located on the borders of Mangu and Barkin Ladi local government areas, said Joseph Gwankat, head of the community group Mwaghavul Development Association (MDA).

Survivors reported that the gunmen indiscriminately shot at people, including women and children, and set fire to houses and property.

In a subsequent statement, the MDA blamed the attack on herders, and questioned why troops deployed by the federal government to the area since the Christmas attacks didn’t intervene to stop the violence.

Nigeria defence spokesperson Tukur Gusau said the military remains neutral following allegations of partisanship in the conflict, adding that troops responded professionally and by the rules of engagement.

“They have successfully arrested criminals involved in looting and burning of properties, as well as recovered weapons,” Gusau said in a statement on Thursday.

The latest attacks come amid a surge in violence in the Plateau, which has seen repeated clashes between nomadic herders and local farming communities.Plateau governor Caleb Mutfwang condemned the attacks and called for calm as his government “is taking proactive measures to halt further destruction of lives and property,” he said.

He added, “The command is grateful to inform you that the situation as of today, is under control and so far, nine suspects have been arrested.

“Exhibits recovered from them include

weapons such as machetes, kegs containing petrol, and other items. The area remains highly secured by security forces and strict compliance to the curfew is being complied with.”

The AIG added, “A delegation from the Plateau State Government led by the Security Adviser to the Governor, heads of other security agencies, and leaders from both the Christian and Muslim communities, gathered at the Mangu Township Stadium and the Miskam Mwaghavul Palace in Mangu yesterday, the 24th day of January 2024 to deliberate and chart a way forward to put a stop to the menace.

“We called on the leadership of both faiths to call their followers to order and ensure total compliance with the government-imposed curfew. Both parties have promised to comply in the interest of peace in their communities.

“So far, over 10 corpses have been recovered from various locations, two injured persons currently receiving treatment at the hospital, and one car and 10 houses were burnt down.”

The Nigerian government must urgently address this issue and take decisive action to protect farmers and restore peace in the affected regions. Without intervention, the relentless attacks on farmers will not only continue to claim lives but also plunge the country further into a devastating hunger crisis

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Kano Court sacks Ganduje as APC Chairman

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The Kano State High Court has sacked Abdullahi Ganduje as the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The Court granted an ex parte order restraining the Ganduje from parading himself as a member of the party.

Subsequently, the court ordered that henceforth, Ganduje should desist from presiding over all affairs of the National Working Committee of the APC.

The application granted by Justice Usman Na’abba on Tuesday followed an ex parte motion filed by Dr. Ibrahim Sa’ad on behalf of two executive members of Ganduje’s ward, Dawakin-Tofa Local Government Area, the Assistant Secretary, Laminu Sani and Legal Adviser, Haladu Gwanjo (plaintiffs), who were part of the nine ward executives who suspended Ganduje on Monday.

The court directed the four parties (respondents) joined in the matter, including the APC, NWC, APC Kano State Working Committee, and Ganduje, to henceforth, maintain status quo ante belum as of April 15, 2024, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit on April 30, 2024.

Justice Na’abba, also held as prayed, stopped State Working Committee APC Kano from interfering with the legally and validly considered decision of executives of Ganduje ward, essentially on action endorsed by a two-thirds majority of the executives as provided by the party constitution.

The ex parte order read, “An order is hereby granted directing all parties in the suit APC (first), APC National Working Committee (second), Kano State Working Committee APC (third), Dr. Abdullah Umar Ganduje (fourth), to maintain status quo ante belum as of April 15, 2024.

“The order thereby restraining the first respondent (APC) from recognising the fourth respondent (Ganduje) as a member of APC and prohibiting the fourth respondent (Ganduje) from presiding over any affairs of the NWC and restraining the state Working Committee from interfering with the legally and validly decision of the ward executives of Ganduje ward.

“That the fourth respondent (Ganduje) is prohibited from parading himself as a member of APC or doing any act that may portray him or seem to be a member of APC pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.”

Nine members of the Ganduje ward proclaimed the suspension of the National Chairman of the APC over the allegation of corruption slammed on him by the Kano State Government.

The nine APC executives said they were prompted to act following a petition written by one Ja’afaru Adamu, a member of the APC from the National Chairman’s polling unit.

In the petition, Adamu complained over allegations of corruption charges against the former governor just as he urged the ward leaders to investigate the matter to redeem the dented image of the party and the implication on President Bola Tinubu’s fight against corruption.

Although the chairman and secretary of the ward failed to act on the petition filed on April 8, 2024, nine members of the executives, led by the legal adviser, acted upon the petition, a decision that led to Ganduje’s suspension.

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Ogun Assembly passes Assembly Commission Amendment bill

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The Ogun House of Assembly on Wednesday passed the State House of Assembly Service Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2024.

The passage of the bill followed  presentation of the Committee’s report by the Chairman, House Committee on Establishments and Public Service Matters, Mr Babatunde Tella at plenary in Abeokuta.

Tella moved the motion for its adoption, seconded by Mr Adeyanju Adegoke and supported by all the members.

The bill was later read and adopted clause by clause before the Committee of Whole.

The Majority Leader, Mr Yusuf Sheriff, moved the motion for the third reading of the bill, seconded by the Minority Leader, Mr Lukmon Adeleye and supported by the Whole House through a unanimous voice vote.

Consequently, the Deputy Clerk of the House, Mrs Funmilayo Adeyemi, took the third reading of the bill before the lawmakers.

The Speaker, Mr Oludaisi Elemide, directed that the clean copy of the bill be forwarded to Gov. Dapo Abiodun for his assent.

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Abuja court gives EFCC go-ahead to arrest ex-Kogi Governor, Yahaya Bello

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A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Wednesday, ordered that a warrant be issued to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for immediate arrest of former Governor of Kogi, Alhaji Yahaya Bello.

Justice Emeka Nwite, in a ruling on EFCC’s ex-parte motion, held that after listening to the submission of commission’s counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN, and reading the affidavit in support of the motion, including the exhibits and written address, he was inclined to grant the application.

It was earlier reported that a High Court sitting in Lokoja on Wednesday, restrained the EFCC from arresting, detaining and prosecuting Bello

Justice I.A Jamil, who gave the order in a two-hour judgment delivered in suit no HCL/68/M/2020, held that infringing on Bello’s “fundamental human rights is null and void.”

The judge, who dismissed the commission’s application challenging the jurisdiction of the court, said: “By this order, the EFCC is hereby restrained from arresting, detaining and prosecuting the applicant.

“This is a definite order following the earlier interim injunction given.”

However, in a ruling delivered by Justice Nwite on Wednesday, the judge ordered that a warrant be issued to the commission for Bello’s immediate arrest.

He also directed that the former governor be produced before the court on April 18 for arraignment.

“It is hereby ordered as follows:

“That an order of this honourable court is hereby made directing and/or issuing a warrant for the immediate arrest of the defendant for the purpose of bringing him before this honourable court for arraignment.

“That case is adjourned to 18th day of April, 2024 for arraignment,” he declared.

NAN reports that the EFCC, in the motion ex-parte marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/98/2024 dated April 16 and filed April 17, sought six orders.

These include “an order granting leave to the complainant/applicant to effect service of the charge together with the proof of evidence on the defendant by substituted means to wit; by pasting the charge at the last known address of the defendant within the jurisdiction of this honourable court being: 9, Benghazi Street, Wuse Zone 4, Abuja.

“An order directing and/or issuing an arrest warrant for the immediate arrest of the defendant for the purpose of bringing him before this honourable court for arraignment.”

In the alternative, the anti-graft agency sought an order issuing and directing the publishing of a public summons requiring/ commanding the defendant to appear before the court on a named date, among others.

The conflicting orders came after the EFCC had appealed against the initial order, and the appeal was scheduled for hearing on April 22 in Appeal No: CA/ABJ/CV/175/2024 between EFCC and Alhaji Yahaya Bello.

The Yahaya Bello Media Office had, in a statement signed by Onogwu Mohammed, alerted the nation to a siege on the former Governor’s Abuja residence.

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