Gunmen kidnap Imo Catholic priest

Gunmen on Thursday night kidnapped the priest in charge of St Michael’s Catholic Church Parish in Umuekebi, Osuoweerre autonomous community in the Isiala Mbano Local Government Area of Imo State, Rev Fr Kingsley Eze, popularly known as Father Ichie.

The priest and another man identified as Uchenna Newman, who drove the priest in a Volvo jeep were kidnapped at Orieama junction around 8 pm on Thursday.

The suspects were also said to have robbed shop owners at the junction before leaving the scene.

A parishioner, who spoke on condition of anonymity told our correspondent that the church members were terrified by the abduction of the priest and the other person.

The source said, “It is true. Our parish priest, Rev’d Fr Kingsley Eze, popularly known as Father Ichie has been kidnapped. He was kidnapped alongside Mr Uchenna Newman, at Orieama junction on Thursday around 8 pm.

“They came down from a Volvo jeep to buy something at the junction before they were kidnapped. They also robbed businessmen at the junction. This is so unfortunate. We sincerely pray for the safe return of our parish priest and Mr Uchenna.”

An indigene of the area told our correspondent that the incident was not the first in the environ in a while.

He said, “Last night, around 8.30 pm, a man and a Rev Father were kidnapped at Orieama Junction. Several shops were robbed and destroyed by the kidnappers who operated on two motorcycles.

“The name of the priest is Rev’d Fr Kingsley Eze popularly known as Father Ichie of St Michael’s Catholic church at Umuekebi community. The person kidnapped alongside him is known as Uche Newman. This is the third kidnapping taking place within a space of weeks on the Anara Umuelemai road.

“Seriously, we need help. The worst is that, they move around in motorbikes carrying pump action guns. Please, the government should come to our rescue.

“They came on two motorbike and as they were going, they took the car belonging to the priest and the artisan. They also shot and unfortunately, one person was hit by the bullet. The gunshot victim was rushed to a hospital  late last night.”

The spokesperson for the state police command, Henry Okoye, had yet to react to the incident.

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NAF Crew members survive as helicopter crashes in Port Harcourt

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) crew men who were involved in the Friday MI-35P helicopter crash in Port Harcourt, survived.

The crash was verified by Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, Director of NAF Public Relations and Information, in a statement.

The unlucky event happened at roughly 7:45 a.m., not long after the plane took off on a mission against economic saboteurs in Rivers State, he stated.

“Fortunately, the entire crew of 5 survived the crash with very minor injuries and are currently being attended to at NAF Medical Centre Port Harcourt.

“The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Hasan Abubakar, is currently en route to Port Harcourt to access the situation for himself, see to the wellbeing of the crew, and give further directives.

“Incidents of this nature are yet again a grim reminder of the dangers associated with military flying and the risks NAF pilots and technicians experience in their onerous tasks of defending our nation and deterring criminal elements from their nefarious activities.”

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70-year-old woman gives birth to twins after years of barrenness

A Ugandan woman aged 70 has given birth to twins, her doctor said Thursday, in what the mother hailed as a miracle.

Safina Namukwaya described her joy at the arrival of the twins who were born on Wednesday at a medical facility in the capital Kampala, where she had received fertility treatment.

“This is [an] extraordinary achievement, delivering twins to Africa’s oldest mother at 70 years,” Doctor Edward Tamale Sali, who supervised her pregnancy and delivery, told AFP.

He said the mother and babies — a boy and a girl — were still in the care of the Women’s Hospital International and Fertility Centre that he founded, but were in good health.

“There is no way to express my joy at this moment,” said Namukwaya, who lives in the rural of Masaka about 120 kilometres (75 miles) west of Kampala.

“At 70 years when I’m considered weak, unable to get pregnant and deliver, or look after a baby, and here is a miracle of the twins,” she told AFP by phone.

Namukwaya said she previously gave birth to a girl in 2020, after being mocked as “cursed woman” who had previously failed to produce a child.

She said her first husband had died in 1992, leaving her without children, and she met her current partner in 1996.

But Namukwaya voiced dismay that her partner has not visited her since she came to the hospital for the delivery.

“Maybe he is not happy that I delivered twins because men don’t want to know you are carrying more than one child in a womb for fear of may be responsibilities that come with that.”

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FRSC records 23% reduction of road accidents in 2023 – SGF

The Secretary to the Government of the Federal (SGF), Sen. George Akume said the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC),  has recorded a 23 per cent reduction in road crashes from January to date.

The SGF stated this at the inauguration of the newly built FRSC Sector Command’s Office in Kaduna on Thursday.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Akume was represented by Mr Iliyasu Agaka, Director, Affairs of former Heads of State and State Protocol.

He said that the extraordinary achievements the corps had recorded so far were preconditioned by the unwavering support received from the present administration on both the administrative and operational fronts.

Akume said, “I am fully aware that in this year alone, the corps recorded a huge over 23 per cent reduction in road crashes.

”This great edifice we are inaugurating today will motivate the staff to put in greater efforts for maximum performance.”

He stated that under the President Bola Tinubu-led government,  FRSC  has made tremendous efforts in reducing road traffic crashes, fatalities and injuries associated with them.

“I  must confess that I am now quite familiar with your main objectives of creating a conducive working environment for your workforce.

“Your approach to organizational management is in tandem with global best practices,” the SGF added.

Akume said that amidst the challenges that confronted the realization of the corporate mandate, FRSC continued to be counted among few government agencies deeply committed to accomplishing the enormous responsibilities imposed on them by their Establishment Act.

He said that efforts at developing an efficient transport system were pivotal to national growth, adding, “That is why economic development is hinged a great deal on efficient road transportation which facilitates the movement of goods and services.

“Your resilience, sacrifices and determination to eradicate road traffic crashes in our country is manifest in your various sustainable road safety programs, including the quarterly Strategy Session.”

Akume said that the administration of Tinubu was pleased with the remarkable heights the corps has attained, especially its leadership role of West Africa Road Safety as part of efforts to scale up the bar on road safety management within the West African Sub-region.

Akume said that irrespective of the tremendous achievements recorded over the years, the war against road crashes was still far from over.

“That is why providing a conducive working environment is critical to remind us of the need to brazen up to the challenges that lie ahead of us all, first as individuals, as an organization and as a community of people because indeed, road safety is a collective responsibility.

“On our part, the Federal Government will continue to show commitment to the improvement of the road transportation sector of the economy as seen in its massive road construction and rehabilitation efforts going on across the country.

“This effort is aimed at achieving an improved road network in Nigeria, ease traffic congestion and improve mobility on our highways.

“Efforts by the government to promote intermodal transportation in Nigeria have also resulted in federal government’s construction and rehabilitation of rail tracks, dredging of waterways, as well as upgrading of most airports in Nigeria, “he said.

The SGF called on all the stakeholders in the transportation industry to make prudent use of these facilities by protecting the critical infrastructure.

“For sustainable management, the government is also working through the Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission to explore public-private management,” he said.

Akume disclosed that in spite of global economic challenges, the Federal Government had at various times approved the procurement of operational vehicles and other equipment for the corps.

“The government had also in recent times approved recruitment of more personnel to the corps to boost your workforce, as well as approvals granted for it to build office accommodation in various parts of Nigeria,” Akume said.

Also in his address, Gov. Uba Sani of Kaduna State said, “As a government, we will continue to work with FRSC in charting paths that will ensure sustainability and attainability to the UN decade of action on eradication of road traffic crashes.”

Represented by his Deputy, Dr Hadiza Balarabe, Sani said that the state government has established five computerized vehicle testing centres as part of its effort to ensure safer vehicles that comply with all safety standards.

“My administration is poised to continue to enhance the operations of FRSC in Kaduna through supporting mechanisms that will aid the overall functionality and ensure that FRSC achieves its corporate objectives,” Sani said.


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I can’t run against Tinubu come 2027, Wike says

Ezenwo Nyesom Wike, the minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), has denied rumours that he could run for president again in 2027, stating that he is incapable of running against President Bola Tinubu because he detests betrayal.

Wike stated that he was still dedicated to seeing the Tinubu administration succeed. He recounted how his unwavering pursuit of justice inspired him and five other PDP governors to create the G5, which was formed to advocate for a change in leadership and back Tinubu’s bid for president.

In a Friday interview in Abuja, the minister stated that morality should never be forfeited for political gain.

He said; “Tinubu made me the FCT minister and I won’t allow anybody to crumble our political structure. No!

“Tinubu made me minister, people don’t understand, I have character. What will happen in 2027? I stood and I said I am not going to support injustice. I was threatened that they would do me this and that. They tried many options including using Major Generals.”

On the reported face-off with Governor Siminalayi Fubara of his home state, Rivers, Wike said he did not want to dwell on the matter but later declared that the best test of a person’s character is to give him power and money.

He said; “Give a man power and money, and that is when you will know the person. If you have not given manpower and money don’t say you know the person.

“He may be your friend, he may be your son, sister mother or father. I don’t want to go into that.

“In three months, it is sad for someone to scatter a political structure that supported and brought you up.
You know what is painful? All these allegations, I smile. Who and who sat with him? In all your doings be grateful in your life no matter the circumstance. Nobody who is a gentleman and a politician will support this kind of thing.”

Wike remarked, “I was paying pensioner’s gratuity every month which were not paid by my predecessor,” on his accomplishments as governor of Rivers State. I made Rivers State so important that it became a necessary topic of discussion while discussing politics in Nigeria.

Before I was appointed governor, I was an ordinary minister. I stood up to the current governor, and I beat his nominee. I put a lot of effort into my work.

Speaking about the new criteria for acquiring land in the Territory, particularly the adoption of the Biometric Verification Number (BVN) and National Identity Number (NIN) for obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy (C of O), the minister stated that the new features were intended to generate money and ensure security.

“There are a lot of discrepancies, a lot of cloning of C-of-Os, so we have come up with an idea that every allottee who seeks and applies for a C-of-O must supply his NIN; this is one of the features we are going to put in the new C-of-O.

“If a corporate body doesn’t have an NIN and they have a property, they must put their BVN. So many persons have not registered, and this will make them go and re-register”, he stated.

Addressing the issue of existing landlords with C-of-Os, Wike stated that they would only be required to pay a nominal fee for recertification.

“For everyone who has a C-of-O, they will come for a recertification, so that we can incorporate the NIN or BVN.

“Those who had a C-of-O before don’t need to pay money again; the highest they can pay is N50,000, and corporate bodies will pay N100,000. It helps in terms of security; it also helps to improve our revenue generation.

“There are people who own seven properties, so this will identify them so they can pay taxes”, he added.

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Jonathan visits APC Chairman, Ganduje

Former President Goodluck Jonathan paid a visit to All Progressives Congress (APC) National Chairman Abdullahi Ganduje at his Abuja home.

On Friday morning, the ruling party shared pictures from the visit on its X account.

“National Chairman, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, received in audience former President Goodluck Jonathan @GEJonathan at his residence in Abuja,” the caption reads on the post.

As at the time this report was filed, the visit’s objective was unknown.

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FCT: C-of-O must include NIN, BVN, Wike says

According to Nyesom Wike, Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), applicants for a C-of-O in the FCT are required to provide their National Identity Number (NIN), and business entities must provide their Bank Verification Number (BVN).

Remember from earlier that the minister said he “doesn’t trust those C-Os they are bringing for me to sign,” which is why he stopped signing the COO that was handed to him? A C of O that has been given to someone else is not something I wish to sign.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Wike stated that the new measure is to guarantee security is in place and mentioned that there are people in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) with similar names.

His words: “There are people who have lands in the area councils, and by the FCT Act, all lands belong to the FCT; no Area Council has the power to allocate land or issue you a C-of-O. In order to rectify these anomalies, we’ve set up a council to look into this, as we don’t want to go back and cause some problems for individuals who have land and certificates.

“What we did was inform them to come for proper documentation for the C-of-O. We noticed a lot of discrepancies in the claiming of C-of-O. So, we have the verbal approval of the president, and we’re waiting for it to be official.

“We’ve come up with the idea that every allottee must supply his NIN, and this will help with security as anyone could come to you to claim a C-of-O. So, anyone cannot come up to claim a C-of-O. This is one of the features.

“Also, since corporate bodies don’t have NINs, they have to submit their BVN.

“In the process of introducing this feature, we discovered that so many people have not registered, and now they have to register,” he added.

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Zulum shuts IDP camp, sends 100,000 back home

Governor Babagana Zulum has declared the closure of the internally displaced persons’ camps at the Government Senior Science Secondary School in Monguno, amid alleged terrorist threats to assault the town in northern Borno State.

With the closing of the Monguno camp, the state administration has closed roughly 13 IDP camps since 2018.

Over 100,000 IDPs from various Kukawa, Nganzai, Marte, and Guzamala LGAs were accommodated in the Monguno IDPs camp, which was located approximately 120 kilometres from Maiduguri and was caused by Boko Haram insurgents.

According to news reports,recent investigations revealed that following a systematic flow of arms and fighters from the Sahel ISIS to lend more strength to ISWAP around the Lake Chad basin, the terrorists have marked Monguno, Marte and Abadan, all in northern Borno, for decisive attacks.

But according to Zulum, who seemed content with the degree of safety and tranquilly that had been restored to parts of the villages, the camp for internally displaced people at Monguno was closed to make room for the school’s renovation, which would allow for the return of classes.

Zulum was visiting the camp as part of an inspection trip to determine the level of damage caused by the Boko Haram raid and the extended use by internally displaced people.

He declared that the 1,000 resettlement homes constructed in the town for residents impacted by the more than a decade-long Boko Haram conflict would be occupied by the internally displaced people (IDPs).

But according to Zulum, who seemed content with the degree of safety and tranquilly that had been restored to parts of the villages, the camp for internally displaced people at Monguno was closed to make room for the school’s renovation, which would allow for the return of classes.

“We will return those of you from communities which have attained relative peace, everyone that is willing to return will be provided with a resettlement package to pick up the pieces of their lives,” Zulum said.

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Boko Haram/terrorist planned operations from prison with warders – Defense Chief

General Christopher Musa, the Chief of Defence Staff, has disclosed that certain terrorists from Boko Haram in the Northeast had plotted assaults from the prison with the help of prison guards.

This was revealed by Musa on Tuesday during his appearance before the House of Representatives with the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and the service chiefs.

Approximately 73 abandoned woodlands have been overrun by bandits, according to the CDS. The self-described head of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Simon Ekpa, should be extradited from his base of operations in Finland, according to his demands.

Musa claimed that certain prison guards in the Northeast were corrupt and that they helped terrorists from Boko Haram who had been arrested organise their attacks.

“The problem of correctional facilities,” he said. During our debriefing with some of the Boko Haram members who had been caught in the Northeast, they shared with us their methods for organising field operations from the prison. They exchange money.

“They use some of the warders there. We are not saying all of them are corrupt. They use their accounts, and the deal is that anyone whose account is used, they share it 50/50. Those are the challenges.”

Musa lamented that media reportage in the country often glorified bandits and terrorists but demoralised soldiers.

He said, “Most times we think security is only the responsibility of security forces. I say no, everybody has a responsibility to play.

“We can never be everywhere. So, we need educational sensitisation programmes for all Nigerians to understand that security is everybody’s responsibility. What you see, you talk about it. You don’t just keep quiet and say that this is for the police or the army. Everybody has a role.

“We need to have a system, where we can train from schools, from primary school, where Nigerians can be made to understand they need to take ownership of security. The awareness will be made easier.”

The head of defence added that they had come to the conclusion that effective governance was the key to combating insecurity, and that insecure situations tend to decrease when good governance is present.

He clarified that security encompassed not just military security but also security related to food, health, social, and educational aspects. He claimed that these aspects always play a part and that issues arise whenever there is a deficiency in good governance.

“We are able to achieve so much in the Northeast because we have an element of good governance,” said the CDS.

 We have observed governors that are willing to go above and beyond to ensure the happiness of their constituents, which is why we are seeing the successes that we are.

“As I mentioned earlier, the issue of Improvised Explosive Device (IEDs) has remained the most potent threat that we have. They put these IEDs on the ground and because there are no roads, a vehicle climbs it and everyone in that vehicle is either killed or dismembered.

“So, this becomes a problem. If people cannot eat, if people are hungry, no matter how you tell them to keep the peace, they will not and that breeds criminality. Those are the aspects we are looking at, particularly good governance.”

Musa also complained about the country’s porous borders, stressing that there are about a thousand border crossings, where people come in and out without check.

He stated, “That is where we have the movement of light weapons and small arms. Human trafficking is rampant. It is important that we must establish good border control, so that we can know the people coming in and going out.”

Musa added that Niger State alone had over 73 unmanned forests, saying these are places where non-state actors operate.

He alleged that the judiciary was frustrating the war against terrorism in the country.

According to him, “The issue of judiciary. I have been in the North-east. There were a lot of Boko Haram elements that have been captured. We have kept them for five/six years. We, the armed forces, can arrest but cannot prosecute.

“Some of them have been found wanting but no prosecution. We are keeping them for this lengthy period – everyone is accusing the armed forces in keeping them against their human rights but we cannot prosecute.

“Another aspect of the judiciary is that you use all your effort to make an arrest, you hand them over, and before you enter your vehicle, the man has been released on bail. Now, you have risked yourself in doing that, by the time he is released, he goes to tell the people the person that arrested him.

“Now your family members or you are at risk. It is getting to a state, where the security forces do not want to make any effort. We have the issue in the South-south. A lot of the ships – the last ship that was arrested, was arrested 10 years ago – the ship went and changed its name, changed its colour and came back again.

“Ten years they were arrested again. By the time you hand over the ship, before you know it, it is released. I think that is one area we must look into. We must have a special court to look into it. That is why we arrest and destroy them because the longer we keep them, it becomes a problem because we come under pressure to release them.”

Musa said, “Simon Ekpa has become a menace to this country. The country must act on it diplomatically. Finland is having a freeway, encouraging him to do what he is doing. His utterances and actions are affecting what is happening in Nigeria.

“We should never allow that. Our foreign service should step in. It is either we invite the ambassador to come and explain why they are protecting him. And he is doing us more harm because, by his utterances, a lot of people have been killed.”

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ECOWAS parliament seeks to lift sanctions on Niger Republic

The regional leaders of state and government have been requested by the ECOWAS Parliament, the Economic Community of West African States, to remove the sanctions against the Niger Republic.

In response to the removal of President Mohamed Bazoum by a group of military officers under the command of General Abdourahamane Tchiani, the former head of state of ECOWAS, the Head of State in that country imposed sanctions on the Niger Republic last July.

Following the inaugural session of parliament, Senator Ali Ndume, the Chief Whip of the Senate, told reporters that the sanctions are being applied to seven states in Nigeria that border the Niger Republic.

Ndume stated, “Children and women have been exposed to untold hardship. No meaningful progress has been made in resolving this issue. 

“We are appealing to ECOWAS states to lift the sanction and open the closed border between Niger and Nigeria because it is the poor that are suffering. Let me say this is a collective decision by concerned citizens.

“This press conference is simply an appeal to the ECOWAS Heads of State to consider the humanitarian situation and resolve the political impasse in Niger.”

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