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Lawmaker Tasks Security Agencies, Others To Intervene In Abduction Of 31 Persons By Cameroon’s Separatists

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A member of the House of Representatives representing Obanliku/Bekwarra/Obudu Federal Constituency, Hon.Peter Akpanke, has decried the attack and abduction of 31 people in Belegete community of Obanliku Local Government Area of Cross River State by Cameroons Ambazonian separatists.

A statement on Friday issued by Akpanke, he described the attack as “horrific,” which he said has “left him in bitterness, sadness and disappointment.”

He lamented that the attackers abducted the clan Head of Belegete community, HRH Chief Ogweshi Francis and 30 others, including women and children.

He therefore, called on the Federal Government of Nigeria, to as a matter of urgency, intervene by ordering relevant security agencies to mount posts across the border communities, to forestall more pains being inflicted on the peaceful Belegete community.

The lawmaker also called on the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation to swiftly provide vital assistance to those affected by the tragedy.

Narrating the ordeal of his people, Akpanke said: “I stand before you today with a heavy heart, filled with profound anger, bitterness, sadness and disappointment.

“On the 5th of December, 2023, our peaceful community of Belegete was subjected to a horrific attack by suspected Ambazonian militants from the Republic of Cameroon.

“These barbaric individuals held our people hostage for over 24 hours, inflicting pain and suffering through gun violence, physical assault, and the destruction of properties worth millions of Naira.

“As some of you may be aware, my parents, siblings and children of the Belegete extraction witnessed the saddest day of our existence recently when armed separatists from the Republic of The Cameroons whom have been named Ambazonians attacked the sleepy and peaceful community of Belegete.

“Belegete community is a Nigerian border village between Nigeria and Cameroon within the edges of the Obanliku plateau in the hinterland of the Obudu Mountain Resort.

“It is located about 400 kilometres north of the Nigerian port city of Calabar. The community has been under siege by Ambazonian bandits since Tuesday 5th December 2023.

“The bandits have continued to shoot sporadically, beating and carting away people and valuable property to their camp across the border River between Nigeria and Cameroon.

“Among over 30 people abducted, is Chief Ogweshi Francis, the Clan Head of Belegete Clan.

“Apart from those taken captive, several other men, women and children have been abused, injured and emotionally traumatised.”

He stated that the area where the barbaric and dastardly attack is being unleashed is the ancestral home of the Belegete people.

He said: “They have inhabited the place for several centuries as law-abiding citizens of Nigeria.

“They have lived peacefully and harmoniously with their far and near neighbours.

“There is therefore, no justification whatsoever for this external invasion on Nigeria’s territory and the disruption of the life of her citizens.

“Beyond the plights brought upon the Belegete people, this unprovoked aggression is a frontal attack on the territorial integrity of Nigeria.

“The Nigerian government needs to take urgent and drastic action to forestall a repeat of what happened in the southern border where Nigeria lost part of its rich territory to Cameroon.

“It should be treated as a case of once bitten, twice shy. The relevant security operatives have to rise to the occasion to ensure that the sovereignty of Nigeria is not tampered with.

“Security operatives must take drastic actions to secure the lives and property in the area.

“These barbaric acts have continued for a long time till now, with our brothers and sisters subjected to pain and sufferings as well as destruction of their property.

“These, alongside the abduction of our people and the life-threatening injuries inflicted on them with no support yet from the Federal Government leave one to wonder whether George Orwell’s Animal Farm is at play – all animals are equal but some are more equal than others. Is that the case with Nigeria right now?”

He said: “As I speak, the Clan Head of that Community, Chief Ogweshi Francis is held hostage by armed separatists of another country and we as a Nation are not angered?

“It must be noted that the Belegete community is very rich in natural resources like Uranium and Lithium and this is one of the major reasons that the Amazonian separatists from Cameroon attacked the community.

“This act of aggression is not only a blatant disregard for human life and safety of fellow Nigerians but also a direct assault on the sovereignty of Nigeria.

“We, as a nation, cannot tolerate such acts of impunity and must respond with the utmost seriousness and resolve to forestall its recurrence.

“It is not the first time such has happened as we have seen from years past in some North Central and North Eastern States like Taraba and Adamawa.

“The response to the crisis in Belegete, as it was in those areas has unfortunately been hampered by the lack of readily available access roads and communication infrastructure in this community.

“This, has undoubtedly left the community feeling vulnerable and exposed.

“While the government works to improve the crucial infrastructure and mobilise resources necessary for human existence and security of lives and property, it’s important to remember the human cost of this delay and the fundamental rights of all citizens to feel safe and protected in our dear country Nigeria.

“Therefore, I demand immediate and decisive action from the Nigerian government.”

Akpanke, therefore, called for deployment of adequate security personnel to Belegete and surrounding areas to ensure the safety and security of the citizens as well as provision of immediate medical assistance to the injured and displaced.

The member of the House of Representative called for a thorough investigation into the attack and abduction of Belegete, with a view to bringing the perpetrators of the heinous crime to justice.

“The Construction of access roads and provision of communication infrastructure to improve the security and well-being of our border communities especially in Cross River State should be done immediately.

“The recent tragedy in Belegete has highlighted the urgent need to bolster security along our borders.

“We call on the Nigerian Border Patrol to take immediate action by establishing permanent security outposts across strategic locations.

“These outposts, equipped with necessary resources and staffed with trained and fully armed personnel, will play a crucial role in deterring future incursions into Nigeria and ensuring the safety of our citizens in their various communities.”

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NATIONAL NEWS

Julius Berger, Nigerian Army Sign MoU On Training Of Personnel

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Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, Nigeria’s leading engineering construction company, last week signed a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, with Armed Forces Electrical and Mechanical Engineering Mechatronic School (AFEME), indicating a collaborative commitment to training its personnel and students.

Speaking at the MoU signing, Capt. Mohammed Idris, Head of AFEME Mechatronics School and the event’s host, described the day as’momentous’, as the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the School and Julius Berger Nigeria Plc represents another key milestone in the company’s consistency of purpose and proactive contribution to the country’s industrial and technological development and advancement.

Capt Mohammed stated that “this alliance is important because it will foster a skilled workforce in the field of Mechatronics, aligning with the ever-changing demands of the industry; and contribute significantly to the growth and advancement of the Mechatronics sector in Nigeria.” He emphasised that the emerging shared vision for the future will result in a competent, innovative, and adaptable workforce. That came as he congratulated the school and Julius Berger on their bold step towards shaping Nigeria’s educational and professional futures.

Francois Roos, Head of Julius Berger’s Plant and Equipment Department, who, in collaboration with the Human Resource Department, coordinates the Academy’s work, stated that Julius Berger seeks to further enhance the company’s and country’s productivity by taking proactive initiatives to develop the capacities of young minds. Taking that into account, he stated, “We have to train people for the future because if we don’t, we will not be able to contact the benefit of the future offices, and for us at Julius Berger, that is very important, and yes, it is the future of the young people, but we also have to train some more people so that they can help to give the experience of the past to the younger people.”

During the MOU signing, the Head of the German Technical Advisory Group stated that he would appreciate it if Julius Berger became the industry representative, as the national industry will support the development of the new plan, which is larger than what we can see in AFEME right now. The mechanics must know how to operate the machines; however, this is the foundation, and we will do an excellent job. It is going to be a big one because it will help develop cooperation in Nigeria, as well as industry experience.”

Roos agreed with Col Abel, who stated that progress is dependent on how people perceive the future.

In terms of the future, the PED Head compared today’s vehicles to those of the future, stating that today’s vehicles must still be manned or driven by someone who understands at least some of the maintenance so that if something goes wrong with the vehicle, he can repair it. While a modern vehicle may not require a driver, one will only need to tell it what to do without knowing even the most basic services. As a result, we will require people known as Technicians rather than Mechanics, he explained.

He went on to say that some people in his organisation had been heard saying that we do not need to train the employees because if we do, they will leave. However, Richard Bradson stated, “What if you do not train the workers and they stay? Imagine the standard and quality that you will have.

While stating that Himernuel, the Academy’s leader, is always available, he praised Cpt Idris, the Head of AFEME Mechatronics School, for deserving the commendation from Col Abel and thanked him for his cooperation, as well as Mr. Ojomo, Julius Berger’s HR Head, for his support of the Academy.

In his remarks, Ojomo thanked the organisers for believing in Julius Berger, saying, “I have no doubt that this is the beginning of greater things to come.” We are very passionate about the development of our employees, and we will have something for Nigerians in the coming weeks as part of our CSR.

Ojomo stated that Julius Berger will continue to support AFEME’s dream, and he thanked Captain Idris for his support.

The MoU was signed by the School’s Head of German Technical Advisory Group, Lt. Col. Frank Abel, and Julius Berger’s Head of Plant and Equipment Department, Francois Roos, on behalf of the company, in the presence of Julius Berger’s Human Resource Manager, Femi Ojomo, Head of Plant and Equipment Academy, Ajamah Himernuel, Adeyinka Adeniyi, and the Head of AFEME School, Capt. Idris Mohammed. Michael Ashofor, Talent Management Manager, was joined at the event by Uzoma Olivia and Moses Happiness, both from the Media Relations Office.

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NATIONAL NEWS

Marwa Compliments Britian On The Marine Headquarters Project For NDLEA

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Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa (rtd), Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), has praised the British Government for offering to provide headquarters and personnel accommodation for the anti-narcotics body’s Marine Unit at Eko Atlantic City Beach.

Marwa, who delivered the commendation during the groundbreaking ceremony to mark the start of the project facilitated by the UK Home Office International Operations (HOIO), promised that the agency would continue to meet the expectations of Nigerians and international partners.

He stated that President Bola Tinubu’s and the UK government’s confidence in the agency, as well as their overall support, will always serve as a morale booster for the officers and men who daily take huge risks to dismantle drug cartels with the sole goal of curbing the menace of substance abuse and illicit drug trafficking in Nigeria, while also significantly contributing to the global effort to address the drug problem.

He stated that the UK government’s office and accommodation facilities for the agency’s marine unit personnel will significantly improve their safety, efficiency, and confidence. “You have given us a place to stay, trainings, boats, repairs, and now accommodation. We can only say “thank you.” We want to reassure you that the NDLEA is a serious agency that does what it has to do without fear or favour, and that we will get the job done. I can give you this assurance as we continue to collaborate. Thank you very much,” the NDLEA boss said while addressing British government officials and contractors at the project’s site.

He also praised personnel from the Navy, Customs, Immigration, and other local services for their cooperation with NDLEA. “We must all stand together; while the NDLEA is the lead agency in this enterprise, the work is collaborative. To accomplish the task, we must work together. I have been informed that there is a lot of collaboration going on in the same way. I was at MMIA this morning and spoke with your senior colleagues, who are all working together while you are here. I encourage you to keep up this spirit, and I wish you continued success.”

Addressing Unit officers, Marwa stated that the agency’s leadership is restructuring the Marine Unit so that it “can become a lean and mean force under an able commander,” adding, “you should brace up, stand up on your two feet, and work very hard to ensure that drugs do not pass by water.”

Kris Hawksfield of the UK Home Office International Operations assured attendees at the ceremony that the project would be completed by July 2024.

Speaking earlier at a War Against Drug Abuse (WADA) advocacy meeting with the leadership of the Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN), Marwa stated that the organisation must collaborate with the Agency to combat substance abuse and illicit drug trafficking. He urged PMAN President Prettywise Okafor and other executives to rally their members to use their God-given talents for the betterment of society rather than using music to promote drug abuse, particularly among young people.

Okafor’s response expressed PMAN’s willingness to collaborate with the Agency. He also discussed their efforts to organise an advocacy campaign against drug abuse across the country, as well as their plans to build rehabilitation centres as part of ongoing projects in Abuja and Lagos.

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NATIONAL NEWS

Nigerian Government, Stakeholders Brainstorm To Avoid Perennial Flooding In Abuja.

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The federal government and prominent stakeholders have devised strategies to raise awareness of the Federal Capital Territory’s (FCT) perennial erosion and flooding problems, particularly in the Trademore Estate in Lugbe.

At the Stakeholders Meeting on Annual Flooding at Lugbe Trademore Estate and Environs held in Abuja on Tuesday, the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Environment, Mahmud Kambari, tasked stakeholders to brainstorm and provide potential solutions to prevent annual erosion and flooding in the capital.

The Permanent Secretary, who was represented by the Director Special Duties in his office, Mrs, Adelopo Oluwatoyin, reiterated the importance of the meeting considering the incessant flooding along River Pyakasa during annual rainy season and its devastating impact on Trademore Estate and its Envrions.

Kambari noted that, “The annual flood event along this river has been occurring since 2019, which has cost the nation huge loss of lives and property of citizens. The event is attributed to, among other things, climate change through unusual downpour, urbanisation through population and infrastructure growth, undersized hydraulic structures, and siltation of hydraulic structures and the Pyakasa River.

The flooding, according the the Permanent Secretary, has affected the economy of Federal Capital Territory and Nigeria at large with devastating effect on livelihood and the ecosystem.

He decried the loss of market that was flooded in Goza community and farmlands at Kuje community, noting that the situation if not addressed could be worsen in different parts of FCT due to rate of population growth and its impact of water waves.

He said the ministry deem it fit to gather all relevant stakeholders together in the meeting in order to exchange ideas that will make FCT safe from flooding, and encourages sustainable development.

He asserted Government’s Commitment to safety of lives and properties in the estate and Nigeria at large. “I remind you of the commitment of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu Renewed Hope Agenda towards ensuring a sustainable quality environment devoid of annual havocs occasion by flood, the administration recognises the need to urgently provide steps to assuage the problem and its attendance hardship in the FCT. It is this commitment that necessitated the organisation of the stakeholders meeting.”

Kambari however urged stakeholders to share ideas and show the New Zeal towards addressing the flood challenges along Pyakasa River.

Earlier, in his welcome address, the Director of the Ministry’s Erosion, Flood, and Coastal Zone Management Department, Mr Dilichukwu Etigbue, stated that the flooding in Trademore Estate has caused massive economic losses to the FCT and the nation.

He noted that the workshop with the stakehokders is at the instance of his department to take proactive steps to avert the reoccurrence through proper handling of waste and adhering to FG directives and advise on flood warning signals and flood management to help address some of the challenges.

Etigbue said flooding along Pyakasa River has become an annual event with Trademore Estate been its major flash point.

Speaking further he said, as you all are aware, the Department of Erosion, flood and Coastal Zone Management had it’s statutory responsibility of formulating environmental policies, measures that are relevant to solve erosion and flood control management through out the country and this meeting is to enable us have a robust deliberation on ways to avert this annual disaster.

He pointed out that the Ministry has documented the root causes of the erosion which would be shown during the technical session for inputs and way forward for a safer Trademore and other areas affected by flood.

In the same vein, the Deputy Director Environmental Services, Division of Safe the Town Development Department, FCDA, Mr. Lateef Olawuwo called on the general public to support the government policy as this will help in addressing erosion control.

Olawumo disclosed that supporting the FG policy is very crucial as most of the problems we are talking about can be tackled if we adhere to building plan, not tempering with green areas as well as living just and fair without building on flood plains and blocking the drainage.

“If you love our environments, you love yourself because your environment is you, if you treat the environment in a negative way the impacts are the consequences coming back to us. The message we have for everybody here that we should please support the policy that will help everybody so that at the end of the day, we will have the focus to glorify.” He added.

He also pointed out that there should be more enforcement of these policies if we have to enjoy the Environment we all crave for.

“The message we have majorly is support from all stakeholders, the developers, the residents, and all sorts of people so that at the end of the day everybody will be happy.” He concluded.

The representative of Trade More Estate, Mr Abdul Abubakar in his remark, appealed to the government to quickly swing into action to come up with solutions to address the menace.

Abubakar noted that if urgent measures are not taken the flooding issue will still occur.

“So now that we are expecting rain again, definitely all the residents in Trademore are already scared of the outcome, so this is an opportunity for us to really say our minds on this, Trademore itself is not where the problem lies, but because of where it is located,” he said.

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