…Change approach, Archbishop Kaigama urges FG
…Buhari yet to tackle insecurity in N-East, says Borno royal father
…Gunmen attack Yobe community, abduct village head, son
…Soldier who criticised Buratai faces court-martial in Sokoto`
…Hausa-Fulani demands chiefdom in S-Kaduna
By Chioma Gabriel, Kingsley Omonobi, Luminous Jannamike, & Ibrahim Hassan
Former Military Governor of old Rivers State, Major General Zamani Lekwot, retd, said yesterday he was not afraid of death.
Some Muslim scholars, under the agies of Supreme Council of Sharia in Nigeria, SCSN, had called for a revisit of the report on the 1992 Zangon-Kataf crisis which they claimed passed a death sentence on Lekwot and five other Southern Kaduna indigenes.
This came as Catholic Pontiff, Pope Francis, weekend prayed for peace in troubled parts of Nigeria and victims affected by it.
I’m not afraid of death — Lekwot
Lekwot spoke in an interview yesterday, in response to the call by the Supreme Council of Shariah in Nigeria, who said his execution and those of others found complicit in that bloody riot in Zango-Kataf, would bring lasting peace to the killings in Southern Kaduna.
Lekwot, Major James Atomic Kude, retd, and others were sentenced to death for their involvement in the Zango-Kataf riots that claimed several lives in 1992 under General Babangida’s military regime.
Speaking to journalists shortly after the inter-denominational service and indoor protest organized by the state chapter of Christian Association of Nigerian, Lekwot, a former governor of old Rivers State, said only God could determine his life and not those craving for violence under the current democratic dispensation.
Among dignitaries at the interdenominational service/protest was the President of CAN, Dr. Supo Ayokunle which held at the Evangelical Church of Winning All, Narayi, Kaduna on Sunday.
Lekwot said that all genuine religious leaders are supposed to preach love, wondering why the council is preaching hate and division in the country.
He said what Nigeria needed at this moment is genuine tolerance, regardless of ethnic or religious affinities and not hatred.
Noting that his life was not in the hands of the Muslim scholars but in the hands of God, Lekwot said: “I have nothing to say. My life, like everybody’s lives, is in the hands of God, not the detractors.
“The detractors and evil forces that are preaching hate, trying to throw spanner in the works, will fail. May God expose them in all ramifications.”
Asked if he was afraid of the threat to his life, the former Commandant of the Nigerian Defence Academy said: “Afraid? I am a trained professional soldier and a trained commander.”
He said what the country needed was peace for all Nigerians to live together in peace and unity.
“All genuine religious leaders are supposed to preach peace and love. Why are there people preaching hate and division?
“The Zango-Kataf they are talking about, yes. The killings were unfortunate but the dispute was the relocation of market. Some people didn’t want it. At the end of the day, a Commission of Inquiry was set up; recommendations were made and the Mua’azu Committee’s recommendations had been implemented
“Those that are reverting to it are clever by half. What we need in our country is genuine tolerance and live and let live. We have lived together for a very long time.
“Now, by what they are saying, they are now giving the reason some armed foreign bandits are imported to destroy the country.
“How does that (revisiting his case) address the issue (of killings in Southern Kaduna)?. So, what is happening in Kaduna and by extension, other parts of the country are bad omens to our unity and stability.”
Commenting on remarks by the commander of Operation Safe Haven that the killings in Southern Kaduna were carried our by criminal elements from both sides of the divide, Lekwot, said as professionals, military officers (commanders) are supposed to be neutral at all settings.
He said: “This would earn them the confidence of the people. That was a very unfortunate statement from a military commander.
“As professionals, security people are supposed to be neutral in every setting so as to inculcate the confidence of everybody. In other words, when that happens, the cooperation of all sides will emerge.
“But in this setting, the military people need intelligence, credible intelligence which they will use for the operations. What he said was the utterance of the government which boils down to describing what happened.”
On the White Paper Committee set up by Governor Nasir El-Rufai to revisit the Zango-Kataf riots, the former military governor said government at this point ought to preoccupy itself with how to proffer solutions to killings in Southern Kaduna.
“Given the heat of what is going on, the massive slaughter of innocent villagers, that should preoccupy everybody’s mind and not to revisit what had been concluded. Fine. If that is his own solution, we are waiting to see how he is going to resuscitate what had been concluded.
“But a White Paper was issued in respect of the issue. Is this White Paper they are trying to produce going to be White Paper on top of White paper?” Lekwot asked.
The Pontiff’s prayers came as Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, and a Borno traditional chief, Alhaji Zanna Hassan Boguma, asked the Federal Government to change its approach to security challenges affecting the country, especially Northern Nigeria.
This is even as gunmen suspected to be Boko Haram insurgents on Saturday attacked Mashio community in Fune Local Government Area of Yobe State, kidnapping the district head, Isa Mai Buba, and his son.
Several persons were also wounded while fleeing into the bush, as the gunmen shot sporadically to subdue the community.
The Pope, who spoke in his Angelus address broadcast via his official Twitter handle @Pontifex, said: “Let us also seek intercession for all the situations in the world that are most in need of hope: hope for peace, for justice, hope for a dignified life.
“Today, (yesterday), I would like to pray in particular for the population of the northern region of Nigeria, victims of violence and terrorist attacks.”
Similarly, Archbishop Kaigama, who spoke in a homily delivered at the priestly ordination of seven deacons at Our Lady Queen of Nigeria Pro-Cathedral in Abuja yesterday, said peace parleys and sincere negotiations would create better opportunities for solutions to the present security challenges to thrive than military operations.
The Archbishop said: “As we pray in this Mass, let us remember the families and individuals who have lost their loved ones in the recent guerrilla attacks in Southern Kaduna and other parts of the nation.
“We have had enough of these killings. Dialogue can resolve problems better than guns, bombs and arrows. We call on government at all levels to provide immediate and lasting security solutions.”
Buhari yet to tackle insecurity in N-East, says Borno royal father
On his part, the Borno traditional Chief, Alhaji Zanna Hassan Boguma, has said that despite claims, President Muhammadu Buhari has failed to tackle the issue of insecurity, especially in the North East.
Alhaji Hassan, who is the Zanna Boguma of Borno, said escalation of attacks by Boko Haram on soft targets, the issue of kidnapping on highways and the systematic dislocation of communities that were living around the metropolis, are issues of grave security concern that had continued unabated.
Boguma, who is also a member of the Northern Elders Forum, NEF, and Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, berated the Presidency for not doing enough on developmental efforts in the Northern region despite their immense contribution to his victories in the polls.
“As far as Nigeria is concerned, Buhari only appointed our sons into positions but they haven’t done enough in terms of development. Northerners are being killed by terrorists and armed bandits without solution in sight.
“General Buhari, yes! We northerners voted for him. The massive votes that came out from North was the reason he is President of this country now,’’ he said.
Boguma recalled how Northern Elders Forum worked hard for Buhari to become President, including lobbying the United States of America, to support his candidacy.
He added: “We went to America to influence the United State’s government to support the cause of change in Nigeria, we did that. The Northern Elders Forum sent a delegation; I was also part of that delegation, we went to Washington, met with all those that matter in America from Department of State to that of Justice to all other agencies of government.
“We spoke to them about insecurity, we spoke to them about corruption in this country, which Buhari is always talking about, but unfortunately, Buhari in five years hasn’t done enough to remedy the situation the previous government was accused of.”
Gunmen attack Yobe community, abduct village head, son
The high-level insecurity in the north festered weekend, as gunmen suspected to be Boko Haram insurgents attacked Mashio community in Fune Local Government Area of Yobe State, kidnapping the district head, Isa Mai Buba, and his son.
The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, ASP Dungus Abdulkarim, and Acting chairman of the affected local government, Abubakar Kolere confirmed the incident.
They explained that the incident occurred on Saturday night, noting that the son of the village head escaped in the early hours of of yesterday from the kidnappers’ den, while his father is still in captivity.
The attack comes a few days after 14 people were recently killed by gunmen at Ukuru village in Mariga Local Government Area of Niger State.
P Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Abiodun Wasiu, confirmed the attack and casualty figure in a statement.
But a resident of the community, Musa Audu, who witnessed the attack, explained that the gunmen invaded the community at a time members of the vigilante were out of the community to patrol some of the forests in the area.
Audu, whose cousin was among those killed by the gunmen, stated that the attack took place in the popular Mariga market which had many traders from various locations.
He said bodies of 15 persons had been found, adding that many people who sustained injuries ran into a nearby bush and were still being searched for.
Police confirm abduction of district head in Yobe
Meanwhile, the PPRO, ASP Dungus Abdulkarim, has disclosed that the state command was making efforts to rescue the traditional ruler unhurt.
“At about 22:05 hours on Saturday, gunmen attacked the house of the district head with heavy fire arms and disappeared with him into the thin air.
“Search parties were later on deployed, but up until now, no positive response of his whereabouts,” Abdulkarim said.
Soldier who criticised Buratai over inadequate arms to face court martial in Sokoto
Meanwhile, there are indications that the Nigerian Army has transferred the case involving Lance Corporal Idakpini Martins, from the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja to Sokoto State where he is to face a military court-martial.
Recall that Lance Corporal Martins had in a video that went viral, criticised the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai, over the handling of the Boko Haram crisis, saying troops did not have commensurate weaponry to fight Boko Haram and armed bandits.
The soldier’s lawyer, Tope Akinyode, confirmed at the weekend that military authorities had fixed the court martial to hold in Sokoto since he was serving in Operation Hadarin Daji, Sokoto, at the time he released the video.
A source said the soldier will face the court-martial this week, saying the trial might commence today.
Lance Corporal Idakpini was arrested on June 20, 2020, following release of the video.
His lawyer said he had been in detention in Abuja and had been denied legal representation for a month until he (lawyer) approached a Federal High Court, Abuja, to file a rights violation lawsuit.
On July 22, Justice A. I. Chikere ordered that Lance Corporal Martins be granted access to his lawyer and relatives but the lawyer said the Nigerian Army on several occasions refused to obey, hence, denying Mr Martins the right to see his lawyer and families.
Concerning the scheduled trial in Sokoto, Mr Akinyode alleged that the army was imposing a lawyer from within the military on Lance Corporal Martins, saying it was “an attempt to jeopardize the case and wrongly convict the detained soldier.”
The lawyer further alleged that Lance Corporal Martins had been brutalized and subjected to a great deal of dehumanizing treatment, adding that he was also denied food while Idakpini had allegedly developed ulcer.
He said efforts were ongoing to resist the move by the Army because, according to him, soldiers accused of violating army rules, if required to appear before a court-martial, had the right to choose their own lawyers, including from outside the Army.