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Archive for the tag “Thisday”

Nigerian Networks Not Robust to Implement Number Porting

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NCC Executive Vice Chairman, Eugene Juwah

By Emma Okonji

Contrary to the belief of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) that the country is long overdue for the implementation of  number portability, the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), said the time was yet to mature.

Chairman of ALTON, Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, in a chat with THISDAY said the unsteady condition of all registered networks as it relates to poor quality of service in recent times, was enough signal to convince the NCC that the networks are not robust enough to carry the capacity needed for number porting.

Citing instances of the recent fine of N1.17 billion imposed on four telecoms operators by the NCC for poor quality of service on their networks, as well as the reactions of affected telecoms operating companies, Adebayo argued that if the networks were strong enough, there would be no trace of dwindling network service and the issue of fine would not have arisen in the first place. “The fine is a clear indication that the networks are not healthy and should be strengthened if NCC expects better results from the standard it set, using the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs),” Adebayo said.

He advised NCC not to be in a hurry to implement Number Portability, so as not to add to the present ugly situation.

He rather suggested that NCC should encourage investment in alternative platform like the fixed line operation, to avoid over dependence on mobile, which he said was already suffering from congestion. He was of the opinion that Nigerians depended so much on mobile operation like the GSM service both in offices and homes, thus contributing to the heavy traffic being generated on the mobile networks.

“Mobile Number Portability is ill-timed. Nigerians are not ripe for Number Portability because networks not yet robust. With the issue of poor quality of service and fine from NCC, it goes to show that the networks are not robust enough for Number Portability. It also shows that if one network is shut down by government agencies or it goes down for any reason, no single operator has the headroom to accommodate the gap and capacity lapses it will create and that will be a problem for the industry. Subscribers cannot port from one network to another, if up to four operators were indicted for poor quality of service. If four operators have been declared by NCC as weak in terms of quality of service, then which network will subscriber port to when all the operators are not strong,” Adebayo asked.

NCC is insisting on the implementation of Number Portability and has concluded to commence the process across networks in September this year. Standing firm on its promise, the telecoms regulator, early this month, released a set of guidelines for the implementation of Number Portability across networks.

Number Portability is a process that allows subscribers to migrate from one network to another, in search of better quality of service, while still retaining the original GSM number, irrespective of the network the subscriber chooses to migrate to. NCC in its released guidelines, made porting free of charge for subscribers.”

Source: Thisday Newspaper

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Again, Police in Accidental Discharge, Kill Two, Injure Others

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 Acting IGP, Mohammed Abubakar 

By Chiemelie Ezeobi

“Once more, the Police have killed innocent persons in circumstances that are far from crime control. Although it little shocks Nigerians anymore that the Police killed innocent persons, yet, it deepens the slur to which the image of the Police Force is often dragged each time it occurs. And many are the times indeed.

In a recent incident, four policemen attached to the State Anti Robbery Squad (SARS), were said to have been more than tipsy, having spent hours carousing at a Night Club, Monalido Club, Kalakuta road, off Creek Road, in the Apapa district of Lagos State.

In foggy circumstances, the Police men who were said to have escorted a certain sailor, one Captain George¸ to the club last Saturday, as they usually did in the past, had gone into the club with their loaded weapons.  The police officers are two corporals and two inspectors.

Eyewitness account said the Lagos socialite had gone to the club to unwind with his escorts; and stayed till the wee hours of the next day however, as they were about to leave, the escorts were said to have fired their guns purportedly into the sky in sheer mark of revelry, having lost full control of their emotions.

The shooting surprised the club members and many of them began to run helter skelter for shelter from the flying bullets. But two persons, one Azubuike Benedict and a lady simply identified as Joy were not as lucky as the bullets hit them on the stomach and neck respectively.  Others were inured. One of them, Darlington, received a bullet on his knee.

THISDAY further gathered that the police officers were fond of shooting sporadically into the air to celebrate while their boss sprays money on fun seekers anytime they came to the club to unwind. Observers are thus worried at the flippant excuse at which live bullets are expended by policemen. Another question raised by this incident is on why the police would go into a club with their guns when they face the danger of being inebriated?

Speaking to THISDAY Thursday in Apapa, friends of Azubuike called on the appropriate authorities to see that justice is served. Narrating the scenario, one of the deceased’s friends, Deji Nathaniel, said he was hanging out with Azubuike when another mutual friend showed up and asked them out to Monalido to unwind. It turned out to be Azubuike’s last outing ever. Azubuike hails from Kwale in Delta State.

According to Nathaniel, the 39-year-old father of Esther (6-years-old) had just come back two months ago from Italy where he resides.  Described by friends as an all round entertainer and mentor, the death has shocked all who knew him.

Nathaniel said: “We were all together that day when I stepped out. The next thing I knew, a lady rushed to me and told me that Zuby (their pet name for him) had been shot dead.  When I got to our spot, I was told he had been taken to Lagoon Hospital for treatment.

“I rushed there only to see Zuby lying in a pool of his own blood. Even though he was in pains, he was still talking. He asked me to hold his hand which I did and was assuring him that he would survive. He complained that his stomach was hurting him because he was shot in the ribs.”

Nathaniel said he held the hand of the deceased until he was rolled into the theatre for surgery and about five hours later, they got a call to announce his death.

“When we took him to the hospital, they demanded for N1million before treatment would be carried out. We quickly rallied round and raised N800, 000 before treatment commenced.

“First they gave him four pints of blood but it obviously was not enough as the hospital told us that they needed six more pints. We went around to different hospitals to get that. It is painful that despite all our efforts, Zuby still died.”

According to Nathaniel, the said Captain George had stormed the club with his ash coloured Toyota Forerunner Jeep with registration number FST950AJ while his escorts were in a white Hilux truck.

“We want the authorities to do something about this matter and not sweep it under the carpet because this has been Captain George’s modus operandi. He comes into the club with his escorts and after they have enjoyed themselves, he would throw wads of cash in the air while his escorts will also shoot into the air in joyous mood.”

One of the victims, who was identified as Darlington, who was lucky to have survived the gunshot on his knee was brought to THISDAY after treatment to narrate his account.

According to him, they were catching their fun when the stillness of the night was broken by sporadic gunshots. He said while the fun seekers quickly dispersed, he took cover but was hit all the same.

He demanded that, “the police officers who did this should be brought to book since they are known. I was lucky the bullet did not kill me.”

Also speaking to THISDAY, one of the petty-traders around the club precinct, one Gbenga, claimed the policemen were drunk and as result fired their guns even though no one threatened them or their boss.

He said: “Captain George is a very popular face at the Monalido Club and so that day, he had come as usual to the club and as they were leaving, his police escorts shot sporadically into the air. The bullets killed two people instantly and injured so many people.”

When contacted, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Joseph Jaiyeoba, a superintendent of police, had confirmed the incident but said he could not say if the policemen were drunk as alleged.

He said: “The incident happened quite alright but we do not know if the policemen were drunk. From what I deduced from the information reaching me, the shots were accidental.

“The police officer in question tried to shoot his gun up in the air but his gun jammed and hit his hand thereby bringing the gun down. It was in the process that two people were killed.”

Jaiyeoba said investigations are going to ascertain what truly happened as well as secure the arrest of the two fleeing officers.

The two arrested officers have since been handed over to the Divisional Police Officer (DPO), Mr. Muhammed Muazu, of Apapa Police Division.

It would be recalled that on assumption of office, the acting IGP, Mohammed Abubakar, as part of his reformatory agenda for the police, had ordered the withdrawal of all approved police escorts from private individuals and corporate bodies across the country.”

Source: Thisday Newspapers

Govt Officials Spend N300b Annually on Aircraft Charter

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Vice President Namadi Sambo

By Chinedu Eze

“It has been revealed that top government officials at the Federal and state levels, including Ministers, President’s aides, governors, Senate and House committees, Speakers of State Houses of Assembly and others expend over N300 billion annually on aircraft charter.

A confirmed insider told THISDAY on Monday that charter operations in Nigeria is a multibillion Naira business that effectively competes with that of scheduled commercial operation and   involves largely foreign registered aircraft with foreign registered crew, although most of the aircraft are owned by Nigerians.

With average of about $6,500.00 (N1, 01400) for one hour charter, the charter operators rake in huge amounts of revenue every month from mainly government officials and some Nigerian businessmen and women.

It was also revealed that although this subsector of air operation in Nigeria generates billions of Naira annually, many of them do not pay the stipulated charges, Value Added Tax (VAT) and corporate tax to the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority and government.

THISDAY learnt that according to regulations, before an aircraft is allowed to operate commercial charter in Nigeria,  it must be under an airline that has Audit Maintenance Organisation Certificate (AMO) and Air Operators Certificate (AOC).

AMO would ensure that the airline has the competence to maintain the aircraft it is flying, while the AOC would ensure that the aircraft is competently managed, but indications show that most of the aircraft that operate as charter in the country were acquired as privately owned and therefore do not pay the necessary charges, VAT and corporate tax to government.

For the aircraft to operate charter services in the country it must be deregistered of its foreign number and then be registered in Nigeria and the cockpit crew must hold valid Nigeria licence,  and the aircraft must be under a commercial operator, but many of these aircraft owners do not abide by these conditions.

A source said that if these aircraft are managed by an airline that meets the aforementioned conditions, “the commercial operator ensures that tax, VAT and other charges are paid when they are due. Currently government is losing so much money on VAT, corporate tax and 5 per cent charge to NCAA, which are lost from those privately owned aircraft that are used for commercial charter services.”

But the spokesman of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Sam Adurogboye, told THISDAY on Wednesday that all aircraft operating in Nigeria meet the conditions set out by the regulatory body, adding that “every airline has a licence that specifies  its type of operations and are guided accordingly.”

He also said that private operators pay appropriate navigational charges like landing, parking etc. and that owners of private jets are not allowed to run commercial services, adding that    doing so would be regarded    as an aberration if detected.

“Owner of private jets are required to put their jets under an AOC holder for management, i.e., maintenance, insurance and crew, and accordingly held responsible for any violation in the process of its operations.”

But the source also told THISDAY, “Nigerians will travel overseas, buy aircraft, register it overseas, bring it to Nigeria in the pretext that it is leased and use it to operate commercial services without paying anything to government.”

The source also adds, “Crew members must correspond with the country of registry; however, these aircraft were not financed by any foreign financial institutions, they were bought by Nigerians, so most of them ought to be registered in Nigeria.”

Depending on sitting capacity and aircraft type, an aircraft could be chartered for average of $6,500 for one hour in addition to waiting charge, which includes return flight.”

Source:Thisday Newspaper

Police arrest five over ThisDay, Sun bombing

 

Bombed sectionn of ThisDay office in Abuja
By Adelani Adepegba

KADUNA  State Police Command has arrested five suspects in connection with the bombing of the Kaduna offices of ThisDay and Sun newspapers.

Commissioner of Police, Kaduna State, Mohammed Abubakar, told our correspondent on the telephone on Tuesday that the suspects had been transferred to Abuja for further investigation.

Police had earlier arrested one of the bombers, Umar Mustapha, but four others were later apprehended

“Four other suspects were actually arrested later and they have been moved to Abuja along with the first suspect that was arrested on the scene of the attack and hospitalised,” the CP said.

Meanwhile, security agencies have yet to come to terms with the way a suicide bomber beat all security checks mounted at the entrance to the Federal capital Territory to attack ThisDay’s office at Jabi, Abuja on April 26, it has been learnt.

Our correspondent learnt that security operatives, including the State Security Service, the Police and the military were worried about the ease with which the hoodlums beat the security checks put in place to forestall attacks in Abuja.

Deployment of equipment and security teams at the entrances and exit of the FCT had given the illusion of security in Abuja until the devatsting attack which claimed three lives and injured 15 others.

A security source told THE PUNCH on Tuesday that security agencies could not explain how the suicide bomber driving  a green Isuzu jeep was able to beat the security agencies and attacked ThisDay’s office in the heart of the city.

The source stated that security chiefs were surprised by the failure of security equipment and assault teams to detect the suicide bomber and his deadly cargo, stressing that a lot of brainstorming was still going on over the incident which caught security agencies by surprise.

“Security agencies were confused by the Thisday attacks because we believed we had covered all the entrances and exits to Abuja. we just couldn’t explain the attack and up till now, a lot of questions and brainstorming were still going on over the incident,” the source said.”

Source: The Punch Newspapers

‘Robbers Used Rocket Launcher in Delta Attack’

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Police Commissioner, Mr. Ikechukwu  Aduba
By Victor Efeizomor
“An intimidating dimension may have been introduced to armed robbery in the country as more facts emerged Yuesday on Monday’s robbery attack in Delta North Senatorial District where two banks were robbed in Ibusa.
Delta State Police Commissioner, Mr. Ikechukwu  Aduba, said Tuesday that the robbers used unconventional weapons, including rocket launchers.
Aduba, who briefed the press in Asaba, the state capital, while parading the suspects, said the robbers took the police unawares with the use of rocket launchers, rocket-propelled grenade and  assault rifles to carry out their activities in the state.
According to Aduba, “a crack team  of the detectives from Ogwashi-uku divisional  police headquarters trailed a band of robbers/kidnappers to their hide-out in Igbodo, in Ika North-East local government area of the state,  where a gun duel ensured between the robbers numbering over 30.”
He said the robbers made a detour to Ibusa where they raided two banks, adding that the police successfully re-enforced and mobilised its personnel to counter the robbers, saying they were able to demobilise  them  and gun down  four of the robbers, arrested three while others escaped with bullet wounds.
He expressed regrets that his command lost eight persons during the gun duel, said the police was able to contain the rampaging robbers with the use of Armourd Personal Carrier (APC).
According to Aduba, “the casualities include DPO Abraka, SP Steven Chigbufue and three of his men who were on their way to  Asaba and one officer from Ibusa division. Other casualties include one military officer attached to Joint Patrol and a female traveller. On the whole six policemen were killed bringing the casualty level to eight.”
He further stated that  four of the suspects were gunned dawn and those who were arrested were helping the police with useful information, adding that items recovered from the robbers include a rocket launcher, a rocket-propelled grenade, five AK47 rifles, one 9mm Zastave pistol and 11 rounds of live ammunition.
Other items recovered are: 300, 500 and 50 rounds of 7.62 ammunition, N2,071,150 cash, one  Toyota Hummer bus with registration number  No YB 58 MUS Lagos,  two HP CPUs, one network PVR, one green  Lincon Navigator, Toyota Hiace bus with registration number XC412 AGB and charms.”

Source: Thisday Newspaper

 

FG Deploys New Bomb Detectors at Airports

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Lagos Airport

 

 

By Chinedu Eze

 

“Reacting to the increased security threat in the country, the Federal Government has deployed more bomb detectors and search mirrors at the nation’s airports.

THISDAY learnt on Wednesday that the bomb detectors have been deployed at every access road to the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos (MMIA) and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has embarked on massive training of aviation security officials to meet with the current spate of security threats in the country.

A top security official in the agency told THISDAY that FAAN is also creating awareness among air travelers and other users of the airports so that they report any suspicious moves as security operatives have also intensified their vigilance of the airports environment.

“Awareness has doubled. In the past if we see a bag we overlook it but now the situation has changed. Besides the incident of last night when anti bomb squad diffused a suspected bag at E, arrival of the Lagos airport, even this morning (Wednesday)somebody kept his bag at the terminal and left for the car park because he did not want to pay for the trolley, but before he came back the bag was impounded.

The police and other security operatives know that people’s lives may be in danger so they have to be extra vigilant,” the official said.

The bomb detector was one of the planned security equipment that would be deployed at the airports as the senior security official said that the every effort was being made to ensure that the security at the nation’s airports was not caught napping by terrorists.

“We have intensified training of security personnel and we have acquired new equipment and more are still to come. We have deployed bomb detectors, we have got some but we need 20 more to cover all the airports in the country. We have already deployed the bomb detectors at the airports in Kano, Abuja and Lagos.”

The official said that one of the major challenges at the Lagos airport was the many access roads to the terminal, saying that the airport needs many of the bomb detectors and what is good about the detectors was the fact that it is mobile and could be moved about, depending on the situation on ground.

Also FAAN is building speed breakers near the terminals to ensure that vehicles maintain a controlled speed while approaching the facilities.

The bomb detectors are operated by those trained to handle them along with well-armed policemen and suspicious vehicles are forced to stop in their stride by blocking them from getting near the terminal.

Many of the new equipment the official said would start arriving from next week as every effort would be made to ensure that all necessary high tech equipment is provided to secure the airports in the country.”

Source: Thisaday Newspaper

Gunmen Attack Plateau Village, Kill 7

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Police bomb squad

 

 

By Seriki Adinoyi and Chiemelie Ezeobi

 

About seven people were feared killed in their sleep in an attack in the early hours of yesterday by suspected Fulani herdsmen on Rinyam Tahoss village of Riyom Local Government Area of Plateau State.

The killing however came on the heels of a fresh bomb scare which occurred simultaneously in different parts of Lagos State jolted residents, prompting the state Police Command to beef up security in the affected areas.

It was also gathered that 10 others, who reportedly sustained serious injuries, were currently in critical condition at the Vom Christian hospital.

THISDAY learnt that the herdsmen, who laid ambush at various strategic parts of the village fired gun shots into the air to scare the villagers, and subsequently began to attack them in their sleep.

An eye witness said after two hours of uninterrupted operation, the assailants bolted away before the arrival of men of the Special Task Force (STF).

Among the seven people killed were four adult and three children

Confirming the incident, member representing Riyom constituency in the state House of Assembly, Hon. Daniel Dem, said: “The attack has become a daily occurrence today alone seven  people were shot death and several others are receiving treatment of gunshot and machete cuts at the Vom Christian hospital. I want to appeal to my people to remain calm and not to take the laws into their hands as appropriate measures are being taken to bring to an end the senseless killings.”

The lawmaker lamented that despite the fact that the local government was under state of emergency, people are being killed on a daily basis and called on the security personnel deploy to the area to be proactive.

In a related development, THISDAY gathered that the bomb scare occurred at Dominion Store and the E-centre housing Ozone Cinema, both in Sabo, Yaba, area of the state.

Whilst police operatives and men of the state Anti-Bomb Squad stormed the area for a search, the residents of the area took to their heels out of fear. Residents of the state have been forced to cope with the incessant bomb scares that erupts in different parts of the state.

While the search was going on in Yaba, some policemen numbering about 15 had stormed the office of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos, to tighten security.

When contacted, the spokesperson for the state police command, Mr. Joseph Jaiyeoba, said mischief-makers were the ones sending threat messages in the state. He urged members of the public not to panic as measures have been put in place for their safety.

The presence of the policemen had disrupted the Google New Media Certification Workshop, which took place at the massive hall of NAN media centre.

Source  :Thisday Newspaper

#Nigeria FG to Amend Anti-terrorism Act

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Senate President, David Mark

By  Chuks Okocha   and Michael Olugbode
A n amendment to the Anti-terrorism Act, 2011, is underway to compel the trial of terror suspects, their sponsors and others suspected of aiding and abetting terror suspects under military law, THISDAY has learnt.

THISDAY gathered at the weekend that President Goodluck Jonathan would soon send an executive bill to the National Assembly to amend the Act, which when passed, would preclude members of Boko Haram, their sponsors and others involved in terrorist activities in the country from being tried in regular courts.

The proposed amendment is meant to hasten the trial of suspects and prevent them from exploiting any loopholes in the existing Anti-terrorism Act and the nation’s legal system to escape justice.

Boko Haram’s attacks, which have claimed about 1,500 lives since they were launched in 2009, have increased in intensity following the 2011 general elections which Jonathan contested and won in the presidential stanza of the contest.

The death toll rose again by three yesterday when suspected terrorists and members of the Joint Task Force engaged in a gun duel at a wedding in Maiduguri.

Also, in Potiskum, Yobe State, where suspected Boko Haram members attacked a cattle market, killing about 60 people on Wednesday, the people marched on the streets yesterday in protest against soldiers whom they accused of not coming to their aid during the attack.

THISDAY learnt that apart from members of Boko Haram, the amendment to the law will ensure that all those involved in unlawful combat against the government and their sponsors would face a military trial.

Others that may be affected by the martial law are Niger Delta militants and other militant tribal groups.

The amendment bill, which is being drafted, seeks to define the term of “unlawful combatants” to include all belligerent suspects, their sponsors and Niger Delta militants who are yet to surrender and others engaged in militant activities that are not defined within the context of the “Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
“The decision to ensure the invocation of full military trials or what could be described as martial law,” a presidency source explained, is that the passage of the bill “is a full declaration of war by the federal government on the unlawful combatant forces.”

According to the presidency official, “These unlawful combatant forces are engaged in various hostilities and have committed belligerent acts or have directly sponsored or supported hostilities in aid of unlawful combatant forces against the stability and security interest of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and its citizens in general.”

He said the decision to adopt this measure stemmed from the fact that “Nigeria is at war against a mobile, dangerous and fanatical individual gang that has been inspired by an extremist interpretation of the Koran, and which will use the techniques of mass terror, violence and hatred to attack innocent citizens – both Christians, Muslims and otherwise minded.”

He said under the proposed amendment, the term “unlawful combatant” is defined to include, “an individual who was part of, or sponsored or supported the terrorist activities of unlawful combatant forces, or associated groups that are engaged in terrorist hostilities against the stability and security interest of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and its citizens in general.

“This shall include any person or persons who commits a belligerent act or has directly aided, abetted, or is perceived to have sponsored or supported hostilities in aid of unlawful combatant forces.”

The presidency source added that “the bill would endeavour to curb the excesses of some lawyers, whose deliberate use of legal tactics stall the trial and prosecution of those connected with unlawful combats.”

The bill will empower the Nigerian government to collaborate with countries that have successfully dealt with terrorist organisations like Israel, the United States of America and the United Kingdom which have a vested interest in combating global terrorism.
This, the source said, was to ensure that Nigeria is not a safe haven for terrorism or for its promoters.

In Maiduguri, a wedding ceremony became a theatre of war when members of Boko Haram and JTF personnel exchanged gunfire.

When the battle subsided, three people were killed in the crossfire and eight persons were arrested.

It was gathered that the military invaded the wedding, said to have been organised by a man suspected to have links to the sect at Sabon Layi, Gwange, following a tip-off that notable members of the sect, who are on a wanted list, would be in attendance.
On sighting the soldiers, the terrorists at the wedding were said to have immediately opened fire on them.
The guests at the ceremony scampered to safety as the members of JTF and Boko Haram engaged in a deadly gun battle.

It was gathered that most of the members of the sect in attendance shot their way out of the venue without being captured as they were conversant with the area.

JTF spokesman, Lt. Col. Sagir Musa, in a statement, confirmed the clash between the parties, saying three civilians were killed and four others, including two soldiers, were wounded.

He added that an AK47 rifle, 20 rounds of ammunition and a vehicle used by the terrorists were recovered.

Similarly, there was a breakdown of law and order in Potiskum, the commercial nerve centre in Yobe State, yesterday as residents challenged the authority of the soldiers deployed to the town at the peak of the Boko Haram crisis.

Irked and still mourning the killings of about 60 persons by suspected Boko Haram members, the people accused the soldiers of not coming to their rescue when it mattered.
It was gathered that problem started when the people accused the soldiers of manhandling some residents.

A source from the town told THISDAY that the soldiers are in the habit of beating up people at will.

He said the people, still incensed by the Wednesday attack, challenged the soldiers and demanded that they leave the town.

He said more people later joined the protest and went to drive away the soldiers from checkpoints in the town.

“Of what use are these soldiers anyway? They keep harassing innocent residents of the town but when the occasion presented itself last Wednesday to show the merit of having them around, they chickened out,” a resident said.

Attempts to get the military authorities in the state to comment on the issue proved abortive as calls to the phone lines of the officials failed to connect last night.
Also, the state police spokesman, Toyin Gbadegesin, could not be reached.

Source: Thisday

 

But Where is Happyboy?

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The Verdict according to Olusegun Adeniyi. Email, olusegun.adeniyi@thisdaylive.com.

 

The moment Yemi Akinsuyi saw me inside the premises of THISDAY Abuja office that looked more like a scene out of Iraq, she said, “oga, we cannot find Happyboy. He was inside the premises when the bomb exploded and now he is not picking his calls.”

Happyboy Ohije is one of those circulation boys you find in newspaper houses. They are called inserters since they help to collate the papers when it is being printed but they also run all manner of errands for people in the newsroom. With minimal education, Happyboy is very dutiful and everyone knew I was fond of him. He had come to me one day that he had a challenge concerning his education, a rather moving story but I liked the confidence with which he approached me and the manner in which he presented his problem. After offering him some little assistance, we became close, especially since he told everyone about my intervention.

Last Thursday, it was quite natural that I would be very worried about the fate of Happyboy. It turned out that he was sleeping when the bomb exploded and he eventually emerged from the rubble in a pool of his blood. But his was not the only miracle. Nurudeen, the security man seated at the exact spot where the suicide bomber exploded the vehicle is injured but alive. Incidentally, we did not know at the time and I recall one security man asking me: “Nurudeen’s wife has been calling me repeatedly and I cannot pick. What do I tell her?” His colleague by the gate, Christopher Sadiq was, however, not so lucky. Neither were some of the mechanics who had set shop behind THISDAY premises. They died along with a passer-by as the vehicle exploded.

The whole drama started for me at about 11.08 when I got a call from an hysterical Ms Avershima Ahenjir, an advert executive, saying, “they have just bombed our office.” According to what I was told when I reached the office, a vehicle came in to deliver tiles that was meant for some work at about 11am. While they were still trying to offload the tiles, the suicide bombers drove into the premises and the rest, as they say, is now history. But as everyone pointed out to me last Thursday, I would have been caught by the bombing but for the fact that I was preparing for my trip to Ibadan for the burial of my mother-in-law later that day.

I have watched on YouTube the video clip released by Boko Haram on how THISDAY was bombed, especially the moment when the vehicle entered our premises and exploded. Incidentally, the clip displayed my photograph along with my statement following the incident. I have also read their declaration of war on the media but I fail to understand why. The charge is that we have taken sides with the Nigerian state. But do we have any choice in this matter?

In an unusual backpage editorial last Sunday, the Trust newspaper put the issue in perspective: “A violent campaign to target and kill security agents, to overthrow the Constitution of the Federal Republic and ultimately to dismember Nigeria cannot be supported by the Nigerian news media, which derives a lot of its legitimacy, protection and privileges from the same Constitution. As for Nigeria itself, there cannot be a ‘Nigerian media’ if there is no Nigeria”.

That exactly is the position to which all journalists subscribe but many of us are becoming increasingly worried for our country. It is therefore incumbent on all men of goodwill who can intervene to end this cycle of violence to do so now in the interest of our corporate existence as a nation. As for THISDAY, in my 13 years here, we have seen some dark days and have come out stronger from all the tragedies. I remember our midnight plane crash right in the middle of Maiduguri desert in 2001 when the Board of Editors decided on a “Meet the Nation” tour; the fire incident that consumed our corporate headquarters in Apapa and the death of Mr. Godwin Agbroko. In each of these events, we were shattered and broken. But we never gave up the ideal for which we stand.

Where do we stand? When Bayero University Kano was attacked last Sunday, our thoughts and sympathy were with the victims of the attack and when Jalingo was attacked the next day, we took sides with the people. On the killing field that Maiduguri has become, we are one with the innocent people of that ancient city who are now besieged. We have made that very clear. But we have also been professional in our reportage while advocating dialogue with Boko Haram, believing that any and every aggrieved Nigerian deserves a hearing. What we oppose is violence and bloodletting of innocent people for no just cause. Even at this most difficult period, we remain persuaded that common sense will still prevail in the interest of our nation and its good people

Terrorism: IG orders CPs to secure media houses

Acting Inspector-General of Police, Alhaji Abubakar Mohammed
May 3, 2012 by Adelani Adepegba, Mustapha Salihu and Eniola Akinkuotu

Acting Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, has directed all state commissioners of police to beefup security around media houses in the country.

This is just as the training of 100 policemen in the handling of Explosive Ordinance Disposal has begun.

The IG’s directive followed the threat by Boko Haram to attack PUNCH and some other South-based newspapers in the country.

The sect made the threat in a Youtube video on Tuesday, in which it justified last Friday’s suicide bomb attack on ThisDay Newspapers office in Jabi, Abuja.

Speaking at a dinner with crime correspondents in Abuja on Tuesday, Abubakar stated that the police would provide security for media outfits.

He also gave the assurance that efforts would be made to protect journalists from harm.

“I’m aware of the threat to media houses by the group of criminals causing trouble in parts of the country. I have directed all commissioners of police in charge of state commands to provide security for journalists and media houses. We won’t allow any harm to befall them,” the IG said.

He also vowed that security agencies would continue to combat terrorists in their areas of operation.

He urged Nigerians to support the security agencies in their efforts to deal with security threats across the country by providing useful information.

Also on Tuesday, the State Security Service said it was investigating the sect’s threat to attack media houses.

SSS Deputy Director, Media and Publicity, Marilyn Ogar, said the agency was working to thwart any plot against the media.

She dismissed the report of a bomb scare in Abuja on Tuesday, adding that the “stop and search” operation conducted on persons and vehicles by security agencies was a proactive measure led by the Brigade of Guards to assure the public of their combat readiness.

She said, “There was no bomb scare in Abuja as reported by some newspapers. The stop and search conducted on Tuesday was a show of force by the Brigade of Guards to show that they are alert to any security issue.”

Meanwhile, the training of the 100 policemen in EOD techniques began on Wednesday in Lagos, in a bid to address the rising level of insecurity in the country as well as incessant bombings.

The training is in response to the IG’s order that the EOD should intensify security in all states where it has units and should also endeavour to establish its presence in states where it has none.

The training was formally opened on Wednesday in Lagos by the Commissioner of Police in charge of the EOD, Mr. Folusho Adebanjo, who represented the IG.

The spokesperson for the EOD, Mr. Gbolahan Moronfolu, said it was meant to strengthen the capability of the police in the handling of explosives.

He said, “The 100 participants are conventional policemen from various police commands and formations who were successful in an aptitude test previously conducted by the EOD. The course is for one month and will centre on the basic training module.

“The actual aim is to strengthen the workforce of the EOD command throughout the federation in view of the incessant bombings. The training aims to increase personnel and use them to create more units in states where there is no EOD unit.

“Many embassies, media houses, police divisions as well as other possible targets will now have more EOD presence.”

On Wednesday, the Lagos State Police Command summoned all area commanders that have media houses under their jurisdiction to its headquarters.

The command’s spokesman, Mr. Joseph Jaiyeoba, who confirmed this to one of our correspondents on the telephone, explained it was in response to the Boko Haram threat.

He said, “The Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of operations, Mr. Tunde Sobulo, is presently having a meeting with area commanders who have media houses within their areas of operation.

“Since the April 26, 2012 attack on some media houses in Abuja and Kaduna, the Commissioner of Police for the Lagos State Police Command, Mr. Umar Manko, had ordered that security should be beefed up in the state. But with the recent threat, we have to restrategise.”

Jaiyeoba said he would inform our correspondent about the security measures being implemented by the command.

The SSS command in Kano State has arrested a middle aged chemical merchant, Ayuba Usman, suspected to be dealing in chemicals for the production of explosives to Boko Haram members.

Usman, who is a native of Dala Local Government Area in Kano metropolis, was paraded before newsmen by the Director of SSS in the state, Mr. Bassey Eteng, on Wednesday.

The alleged merchant was found in possession of 35 big drums of highly combustible chemicals and substances used for making bombs and other Improvised Explosive Devices.

Eteng said, “Chemicals are controlled items and they are supposed to be sold to people legitimately for economic use. But when we then find some individuals selling them to other individuals, then these individuals turn them to harmful use on innocent persons.”

He stated that the arrest of Usman, whose shop is located in one of the main markets in the state, was effected through information provided by a suspect in custody.

The director, however, refused to name the market where the suspect’s business place was located for security reasons. He stated that Usman’s arrest followed Tuesday’s successful raid by the Joint Task Force on a suspected Boko Haram factory/house located at Bubugaje in Sharada Phase 111 Industrial Estate in Kano metropolis.

“The suspect brought before you is a suspect whom we found from investigations to have links with some extremist elements.

“And what I believe, based on statements made by the high profile suspect the service is dealing with, we were able to know that the suspect, Ayuba Usman, has been providing very combustive chemicals to the extremist group.

“These are the chemicals being used in making Improvised Explosive Devices and other types of explosive devices. He was arrested yesterday (Tuesday) in Kano. He is the owner of all the (chemical) substances found in his shop. These substances are controlled items.

“Suspects in custody were able to identify their main link of where, from whom they are getting the above materials and who provides them the materials in Kano. This happened to be Ayuba Usman They (terrorist bombers) mix this thing with fertiliser and other inflammable substances.

“He was not just picked because he is selling these materials, but because information from those in custody, who identified him, who described him, where his shop is; led us to his arrest.

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