Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum, has presided over the swearing-in of 29 Special Advisers, 27 Local Government Chairpersons, and seven Permanent Secretaries to the Borno State Civil Service.
The oath of office was administered at an event held at the Multipurpose Hall of the Government House by the Chief Judge of Borno, Kashim Zanna, represented by Hon. Justice Haruna Mshelia.
The newly sworn-in 27 Chairpersons, including a lady from Jere Local Government, emerged as winners at the 2024 Local Council election held on the 20th of February.
The 29 Special Advisers have a blend of Yoruba, Igbo, indigenous technocrats and politicians from across the Local Councils in the State.
Speaking after presiding over the oath of office, Zulum urged the new council chairpersons and other sworn-in officials to live up to the expectations of the government and people of the state while carrying out their various responsibilities.
He said: “To the elected Local Government Chairmen, while congratulating you on your victory at the polls, I urge you to discharge your duties with utmost honesty, impartiality, compassion and fairness. You must work assiduously for the actualization of the shared prosperity mantra of our government.”
According to the governor, local governments are an integral part of the overall development focus and strategy of government.
Zulum therefore requests the new council bosses to ensure adequate attention is given to tackling the menace of poverty, joblessness, and insecurity.
He called on the new Special Advisers to consider the interest of the state at all times while discharging their duties, noting that as advisers to the governor, each of them works for the entire state.
He added: “To the special advisers, you should advise devoid of personal interests or that of a section of the state. As special advisers, you are for the whole state and must consider the interest of the state first before any other interest. You are expected to provide expertise and knowledge in specific areas of focus, such as policy development, economic matters, and social issues, or any other field relevant to the government’s agenda.”
In their separate remarks, the Secretary to the State Government, the Head of Service, and the Commissioner for Local Government and Emirates Affairs called on the newly sworn-in officials to imbibe strong patriotism, resolute dedication, sincerity, and genuine commitment to the welfare of our people.
Delivering the vote of thanks on behalf of all the sworn-in officials, Hon. Tukur Digira extended gratitude to Governor Babagana Zulum for the opportunity to serve the state.
He also gave assurance to the governor of their commitment to their responsibilities and in making a positive impact on the people of Borno State.
He said: “We understand the weight of the responsibilities bestowed upon us. We pledge to work diligently, utilizing our exceptional skills, knowledge, and experience to contribute meaningfully to the success of this administration. Our advice will be honest and well-informed, sir.”
The ceremony was attended by the Deputy Governor, Umar Usman Kadafur, Senators for Borno South, Ali Ndume, Borno North, Barrister Mohammed Monguno, and Borno Central, Barrister Kaka Shehu Lawan and the APC’s National Vice Chairman for the North, Ali Bukar Dalori.
The Shehu of Borno, represented by Mallam Terab of Borno, Terab Kyari Sanda, the Shehu of Dikwa, Bama, and the Emirs of Biu, Gwoza, Askira, Shani, and Uba, were also in attendance.
Others in attendance include Borno’s APC Chairman, the Speaker of Borno State House of Assembly, Abdulkarim Lawan, Members of the House of Representatives, Engr Bukar Talba and Zainab Gimba, Secretary to Borno State Government, Hon Bukar Tijjani, the Head of Service Barrister Mallam Fannami, commissioners, and other government and party officials.
Abakaliki Lawyers Association Hails Elevation Of Justice Obande Ogbuinya To Supreme Court
Protests Rock Anambra Community Over Alleged Land Encroachment
By Chuks Eke*
The people of Umuenu village, Umuawulu community in Awka South Local Government Area, Anambra state, staged a peaceful protest against illegal encroachment into their ancestral land, Agu Udo/Agu Ofu, by a neighbouring village, Abo Ani, in Orunba North Local Government Area, hometowm of Chief Ernest Ezeajughi, Chief of Staff to Governor Chukwuma Soludo.
Protesters accuse Ezeajughi of using his position as Soludo’s Chief of Staff and Awgbu community indigene to influence the state boundary committee Chairman, Ifeanyichukwu Ibezim, to suppress Umuenu villagers of Umuawulu and favour Abo-Ani villagers of Awgbu.
However, in a swift response, Ezeajughi debunked the Umuenu villagers’ allegation, describing it as extremely spurious.
Ezeajughi, who denied the allegations over the phone, stated that the Deputy Governor is the Chairman of the Boundary Committee, which is responsible for investigating and resolving boundary disputes in the state.
“I am not aware of any meeting, nor was I a member of the team that went to inspect or demarcate the disputed land between villages in Umuawulu and another village in the Awgbu community. According to Ezeajughi, only the Deputy Governor has the authority to preside over land matters brought before the Anambra State Boundary Dispute Commission.
In response, Deputy Governor Ibezim stated, “I made changes to our boundary committee”. I took the time to physically visit these disputed areas and verify all of the claims. At the very least, we would be able to see every sign of demarcation, such as trees, rivers, and landmarks that keep communities together’, the Deputy Governor said.
Ibezim stated, “In the case in question, I went there, walked for kilometres through the bush, and stood there. The two villages and a community – because it is between Enugwu village in Umuawulu, Umuenu village in Umuawulu, and Abo Ani in Awgbu, all for the case in my office, and we set a date to go there. Surprisingly, Umuenu did not show up.
“There, we did not want to make our own decision, so I called the leader of Umuawulu and the lawyer representing them, only to discover that after all of us agreed to meet there, he went back, because he was part of the decision that we would go physically there, and he told me that he decided later to go to court again.”
“I made no statements there. All I told the people present was that we had seen things and would return to make our decision. I left. Whatever they are saying is simply a result of their unwillingness to let peace reign. We have not issued an official statement or made a decision on this matter. “They should wait for my decision first.”
“I have not made a final decision, and they are carrying placards. I simply stated that I had heard and seen the location, but had not made a decision.
When asked if the Supreme Court decision referred to by Umuenu residents favoured the village, the Deputy Governor responded, “People lay claims to all sorts of things.” Let them deliver the Supreme Court decision. You have this and that judgement; we have lawyers.”
“As the executive arm of the government, we have a statutory responsibility to protect judicial decisions. To even protect the laws enacted by the legislature because we control the means to do so.
“I do not own any land there. I do not want to have one because I am not from Umuawulu or Awgbu. So, when someone calls the Chief of Staff or anyone else, the Chief of Staff does not accompany us and is unaware that we are going there.”
“There is something called monumentation. Ask them if we have done monumentation, which is when we physically go out and use beacons to fix and establish boundaries. Let them decide whether we did that. Let them say whether I pointed to any point as the boundary.”
“Many elders from other villages went with us and climbed the hills, but there was no single representative from Umuenu; in the meantime, you agreed to be there on a date you even set. There is so much insincerity in this land dispute. Some claim that we go out and place beacons in order to obtain lands for ourselves. I just wonder why I should do that,” said Ibezim.
Protesters held placards reading, “Governor Soludo come to our rescue, Abo Ani encroached on our land, we have supreme court judgement in our favour on the land, Deputy Governor Onyekachukwu Ibezim is biassed, Deputy Gov has been influenced by Chief of Staff who hails from Awgbu, Deputy Gov writes scripts of Chief of Staff and former director of Anambra State Boundary Commission, Chief Davidson Nkala, Soludo intervene before they take over.”
Speaking to reporters during the protest, the protesters’ spokesperson and former chairman of the Umuenu Umuawulu community, Chief Humphrey Obi, recounted how the land dispute began in the 1960s and how Umuenu won all three court cases involving the Court of Republic of Biafra, Onitsha Judicial Division, the Supreme Court of Nigeria, and others that ruled against the Abo Ani Awgbu community.
Obi specifically cited the July 5, 1967 decision of the High Court of the Republic of Biafra, Onitsha Judicial Division, presided over by Justice W. O. Egbuna in the suit filed by Jerome Okpala and Nwanaka Nwankwo for themselves and on behalf of Umuenu village, Umuawulu against Richard Onyenegbu and five others for themselves and as representing the people of Abo-Ani village, Awgbu, which gave Umuenu village victory.
In the judgement, which bears the suit number 0/41/1963, Justice Egbuna stated: “I have monitored the evidence led by the plaintiffs and I am satisfied that this Aguofu land in dispute belongs to the Umuenu people of Umuawulu and not to the defendants, Abo-Ani Awgbu.”
The court went on to say, “I am also convinced that the plaintiffs have been farming on this land, received a judgement over it in 1928, and have continued to use the land until the defendants trespassed into it.”
He stated that, dissatisfied with the three court decisions, the Abo Ani people went to the Anambra State Boundary Commission, which was chaired by the Deputy Governor, His Excellency, Onyekachukwu Ibezim, and demanded the demarcation of the disputed land.
“At the Commission, we insisted that we are the owners of the land and that the Supreme Court’s decision must be followed because it is still binding law.
“Funny enough, our brother Enugwu community Umuawulu, who supported Abo Ani and testified against us in court that Abo Ani owned the land, has now reversed course and claimed that the land belongs to them, Enugwu, demonstrating that they are backed up by some powerful forces from the state government.
“While we were interfacing with Abo Ani at the meeting presided over by the Deputy Governor, he informed us that he has no business with the Supreme Court judgement and others, and that he has not even gone through the documents we submitted; he only wants the inspection and demarcation of the land in dispute.
“It is clear from the Deputy Governor’s utterances that he is biassed and influenced by the Chief of Staff, who is from Awgbu, and Nkala, a former Director of the Anambra State Boundary Commission, which is why we are calling on Governor Soludo to come to our rescue.
“It is the sacred duty of the Anambra State Boundary Committee to follow and apply the said demarcation as judiciously fixed to accord with the judicially fixed boundary, as anything less will not only amount to the Anambra State Boundary Committee reviewing and reversing the judgement of the competent court, but will also amount to contempt of court,” Obi warned.
In a petition to Governor Soludo, the President and Secretary of Umuenu Umuawulu, Nze Okoye Godwin and Mr. Nwafor Tochukwu, respectively, reminded him of his belief in the supremacy of law, stating that he should not allow any influence from any quarter to cede the land or part of it to both Abo Ani Awgbu and Enugwu Umuawulu because they were trespassers stopped by the courts of the land.
Reiterating the dangers of ceding land to unauthorised communities, the duo urged Governor Soludo to instead invite the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice to explain the implications of disobeying a court order.
Among those who spoke during the protest was Tochukwu Okoye, 94, who said, “I am surprised that someone who signed witness for another now claims to be the owner of the land; let us think twice. I am calling on Soludo, a peaceful man, to intervene in this situation.”
Chief Johnson Anazonwu Nwafor, 88, stated, “I was cultivating with my father in that land as a child, so I know everything there. We have no problem with Enugwu in that land; only Awgbu people. Our village is peaceful; otherwise, there would be bloodshed in that land as a result of what they are doing to us.”
Mr. Roseline Adobe, a widow, added, “I cultivated yam and cassava, among other things, but they destroyed all of my crops and took my hoe and knife.” “That is the only place I feed my kids.”
According to Mrs Susan Nwaeke Ogbunike, “They stormed into the farm where we were cultivating, chased us away, levelled all my farm, destroyed all my crops, and as a result, my blood pressure rose, and I am still suffering from it today. Governor Soludo, we are requesting your assistance.
Mrs Chinwendu Nwanaka, a widow, said, “I was on my way to get something in my farm when someone told me that everything we cultivated, yam, cassava, cocoyam, was destroyed. When I got there, I could not get anything, and I started crying because no one could help me.”
Zulum Distributes Food Items To 100,000 Families In Maiduguri, Environs
Borno State Governor Babagana Zulum has launched a food distribution campaign to over 100,000 households in the state capital Maiduguri and its surrounding area, the Jere Local Government.
According to a statement released on Wednesday, the distribution aimed to alleviate the hardship caused by rising food and other essential commodity prices.
Zulum gave a symbolic presentation of the palliative on Wednesday at the Maiduguri Sports Centre, where the distribution would take place.
Each of the 100,000 households received one bag of 25kg rice and another bag of 25kg maize.
After flagging off the distribution, Zulum spoke to journalists about the importance of continuing to support the people in order to address the country’s hardships.
The governor reiterated his administration’s commitment to prioritising the welfare of the people, especially those facing extreme hardship as a result of the Boko Haram insurgency.
He said: “We are here today to flag off the distribution of food items to 100,000 heads of households from Maiduguri Metropolitan and its environs. Everyone in Nigeria is aware of the hardship people face regarding food shortages.
“All the preceding food distribution exercises we had conducted were carried out in other local government areas. Because of the difficulties our people are experiencing, we decided to come here today and kick off the exercise for the people of Metropolitan and its surroundings. These communities have not benefited immensely compared to other places.”
He noted that the exercise targets the most vulnerable members of the society in order to reduce the burden of the high cost of living in the metropolis, adding that the current economic hardship is not only in Borno State, but it is a global crisis.
He promised that the distribution of the palliative would be scaled up from 100,000 households to over 200,000 families in order to cover other places, including seven local government areas in southern Borno.
He said: “We have flagged off the distribution of the palliative for 100,000 today; my intention is not to stop at 100,000 households; we believe before the end of Ramadan, we shall reach up to 200,000 across the state.
“Wherever there is insurgency, they may experience a food crisis because of the limited access to agricultural land. For this reason, in Borno State, we have started the distribution of palliative since 2011.”
He added, “As long as I am the governor of Borno State, the distribution of palliative will continue. However, I want to stress that while the palliative distribution continues, we will continue investing in commercial and subsistence agriculture.”
The governor urged the people, particularly those without a source of income, to engage in agriculture while assuring them of all necessary assistance, such as free buses, agricultural inputs, and cash support.
He disclosed that: “The FG has also rolled out an agricultural scheme under the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security and in Borno State; we have programmes to boost irrigation and commercial farming.
“We have started distributing food palliative care since 2011 and are doing our best. I call on our people to be patient because the government handles the crisis. What we are doing is enormous, but as a responsive and responsible government, we shall continue to do our best to cushion the effects of the hardship.”
The governor, however, warned that his administration would not condone anyone sabotaging its efforts in peacebuilding.
“Some people are trying to instigate the public to cause disturbances. ,
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