November 24, 2020

INSECURITY: 7 soldiers feared dead in Borno landmine attack

Nigerian Army, Military

Nigerian Army

Nigerian Army

…Catholic priest kidnapped in Abuja, Police launch manhunt to rescue priest

…5 Pegi kidnapped victims yet to be found

…Gunmen abduct medical doctor in Kogi

…2 abducted, 1 killed two days after APC chairman’s death

…I sold goats, pigs, other belongings to pay ransom — father of ABU kidnapped student

…Says soldiers wished us safe journey on our way to deliver ransom

By Kingsley Omonobi, Boluwaji Obahopo, Hassan IbrahimWuyo & David Odama

The state of insecurity in the country heightened last weekend, as no fewer than seven soldiers were killed in a landmine ambush by Boko Haram insurgents in the northern axis of Borno State.

The soldiers were said to be on escort duty en route Baga on Saturday, when they came upon the landmines planted by the insurgents, who followed up with heavy gunfire on the convoy.

This came as a Catholic priest, Rev Father Matthew Dajo of St. Anthony Catholic Church was on Sunday kdnapped by gunmen at Yangoji village, along the Kwali-Abuja highway.

This is even as the Medical Director of Peace Hospital, Ayingba, Kogi State, Dr Azubuike Joel Ihenacho, was yesterday abducted by unidentified gunmen.

Meanwhile, father of one of the nine students of Ahmadu Bello University, ABU, kidnapped along the Abuja-Kaduna highway penultimate Sunday, said yesterday he sold his goats, pigs and other valuables to raise money to pay ransom for release of his ward, saying soldiers wished them safe journey on the way to deliver ransom to the kidnappers.

Killings in Borno

On the killing of soldiers in Borno, it was gathered that the convoy attacked by Boko haram consisted of truckloads of food heading to Baga town of Kukawa local government.

The food supplies were to be distributed to returning Internally Displayed Persons by Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum.

Some of the civilians who escorted the food were natives of Baga living in Stadium IDP camp, Maiduguri.

Their relatives at the camp confirmed the attack, saying some of them were maimed in the explosion and had been evacuated from the scene of the attack to a hospital in Maiduguri.

Soldiers who survived the attack said the terrorists seized weapons and a gun truck.

It was learned that the attack was at Gazarwa village, a popular Boko Haram checkpoint after Gajiram, before Monguno.

Sources said seven corpses of soldiers and one of CJTF were seen on Sunday morning at Gajiram.

Military sources that took part in the evacuation of injured persons said they were being treated at the military hospital in Maiduguri.  The military is yet to comment on the incident.

But spokesperson to Governor Zulum, Isa Gusau, confirmed that neither Zulum nor any component of his detail was part of the attacked convoy.

While Gusau did not deny the attack, he advised journalists to seek clarification from the military.

Efforts to get the military to react to the attack had since proven abortive, as the spokesman of Operation Lafiya Dole, Col. Sagir Musa, failed to pick his telephone calls.

Priest kidnapped

In a similar development, Reverend Father, Mathew Dajo of St, Anthony’s Catholic Church, Yangoji village, was on Sunday kidnapped at Yangoji village, along the Kwali-Abuja highway.

He was said to have been abducted  around 9:47pm when the gunmen with sophisticated weapons invaded his residence in the village.

Sources said the gunmen scaled through the fence of the victim’s house, while others positioned themselves outside, before entering Reverend father’s bedroom and  whisked him away.

A source said:  “The entire community was terrified as a result of sporadic gunshots by the kidnappers.

Since nobody was able to come outside because some of the kidnappers had surrounded the house, while others entered the house through the fence, the kidnappers shot into the air as they took the Reverend father into the bush at gun point.’’

FCT Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Mariam Yusuf, who confirmed the kidnap, said:  “The Police Command of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has launched an operation to rescue the Catholic Reverend Father kidnapped on Sunday, November 22, 2020, in Yangoji village, along Kwali axis.

“The command urges members of the public to remain calm, while it intensifies effort to liberate the victim unhurt.

“The Commissioner of Police, FCT, CP Bala Ciroma, has launched a manhunt to trail and apprehend the suspects.

“While urging residents to be security conscious and promptly report all suspicious movements, the command wishes to reiterate its unflinching commitment to the protection of lives and property in the Federal Capital Territory.’’

Recall that the FCT Police Command last Wednesday deployed a heavy detachment of Police personnel and equipment to rescue the five person’s kidnapped at Pegi community but so far, no rescue had been made.

The command urged members of the public to remain calm, while the Police intensify effort to liberate the victims unhurt and reunite them with their family members.

ASP Yusuf said the Commissioner of Police has ordered a manhunt to trail and apprehend the fleeing suspects.

Medical doctor abducted

Similarly, the Medical Director of Peace Hospital, Ayingba, Dr Azubuike Joel Ihenacho, was on Saturday evening abducted by unidentified gunmen.

Kogi State chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, which confirmed this in a statement yesterday, stated that Dr Ihenacho was abducted in his residence at Ayingba.

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The statement, signed by the state NMA chairman, Dr Omakoji Oyiguh, and his Secretary, Dr Famotele Tolorunju, in Lokoja, after an emergency meeting of the association, said the gunmen stormed Dr Azubuike residence between 9.00 and 9.30pm and abducted him.

The association called on security operatives to help in the search and rescue of the doctor.

According to the statement, the abducted doctor was in a vehicle with another man and his wife at the front of his house when the kidnappers struck, ordered the other two occupants in the car out and left with him.

“Dr Azubuike Joel Iheanacho was kidnapped in front of his house at Anyigba in Dekina Local government area of Kogi State. He was in a vehicle with another man and the wife when the kidnappers ordered the other two out of the car,” the statement stressed.

However, he said the NMA had reported the ugly incident to the security agencies and the state government for intervention that will lead to the rescue of their abducted member.

It would be recalled that two of their members, Dr Ebiloma Yahaya Aduku of Zonal hospital, Ankpa, and Dr Kelechi Mgbahurike of Christ the King Hospital Anyigba, were abducted on October 6 but were later released after the intervention of security agencies.

The state Police Commissioner, Ayuba Ede, who also confirmed the abduction, said efforts were on to rescue Dr Ihenacho.

“Our men have entered the bush on their trail, we even saw other victims abandoned by the kidnappers, we are suspecting that it was locally arranged and we will get them in no time,” said.

Two abducted in Nasarawa

Also, two persons were again abducted in Nasarawa State, yesterday, while one was killed barely 24 hours after  APC chairman in the state, Philip Shekwo, was kidnapped and killed.

The latest   in the series is the attack by gunmen in Agwada, the headquarters of Agwada Development Area in Kokona LGA, on   one Alhaji Kankau, a Fulani man and his family members.

An eyewitness account   said 12 gunmen invaded the house of Kankau by 2am on Sunday shooting   sporadically and   whisked   away his two children, while one was killed during the operation.

Two of the victim’s   wives are currently receiving treatment at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Keffi.

When contacted, the executive chairman of Kokona Local Government, Saidu Kurki, who confirmed the incident during telephone conversation, declined further comments.

On his part, the overseer of Agwada Development Area, Mukailu Salihu, who also confirmed the incident on phone, said 52 empty shells of bullets were   discovered   by Police at the scene of the incident.

Contacted for confirmation, the Police   Public Relations Officer, ASP,   Nanham Nansat, said he was yet to be briefed on the incident.

‘I sold goats, pig to pay ransom for my son’

Meanwhile, a father who paid ransom to kidnappers in a Kaduna forest before his child was released on Saturday, said he sold his goats, pigs and other valuables to raise the money.

The father, who was thankful to God for the development, was among other parents whose children were among the nine Ahmadu Bello University, ABU, Zaria, students that were kidnapped along the dreaded Kaduna-Abuja highway last week.

Speaking to journalists, the happy father who would not want his name mentioned for security reasons, narrated his ordeal: “Some parents paid N1million, some paid over N1million, some paid N2 milion, some paid over N500,000, depending on how each parent bargained with the kidnappers because they spoke separately with us.

“Some parents were asked to drop their money at a particular place at Abuja junction and leave the place, then somebody picked the money, counted it and notified the people in the bush that the money had been paid.

“Four of us went to deliver the money but we didn’t know that we were all victims. After series of bargaining, they said I should pay N1 million but I told them that I cannot afford to raise that amount. I told them I have over N500,000 and they asked me to bring it. I sold my goats, pigs and other belongings to pay the money.’’

The parents, who said that they took the ransom to the kidnappers in the forest late Saturday, added:  “The amount varied from N500, 000 to N4 million to get each of the children released. While some were made to hand their ransom to members of the kidnap syndicate in Kaduna, others were contacted separately.

‘’We were united by the kidnappers through phone calls at the Abuja junction.  We were made to convey the ransom to the kidnappers’ enclave in the bush along the Kaduna-Abuja road.  The kidnappers also asked us to bring Maltina and milk along with the money.

Another parent said: “They called on Saturday and said if I am not able to pay N1 million, they will kill my daughter or marry her or use her as sex slave.

“On arriving Kaduna, we were told that security personnel were monitoring the bandits in the bush, but surprisingly, the bandits called us and told us to come and wait at Abuja junction.

“They sent us a telephone number to call. We called the number and the person came to take us to a car. Unknown to me, the owner of the car is also a victim’s parent; his daughter was among those abducted.

“We drove along the Kaduna – Abuja road around 11pm to deliver the ransom and other things. The kidnappers also demanded for crates of Maltina and cartons of milk from each of us.

“When we got to Dutse, we stopped at a junction leading to the bush. We met soldiers there and they stopped us and ordered us to sit down.  The soldiers observed that all of us were carrying nylon bags and the items and they asked what were in the nylon bags. We told them that we are carrying money to pay ransom for the students that were kidnapped.

‘’The soldiers wished us safe journey to the bush and we parked the car at the junction. We trekked far inside the bush from Dutse and handed over the money to the kidnappers and they released the girls to us.”

ACF condemns endless   killings up North—urges Buhari to do the needful

The Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, has stated that security breaches in the North   have become a source of worry to their followers who voted for a government that they thought will secure lives and property as spelt out in the Constitution.

Emmanuel Yawe, National Publicity   Secretary of the ACF, explained that in October 2020, the ACF, under the Leadership of Chief Audu Ogbe held its first National Working Committee, NWC, and National Executive Committee meetings, NEC, in two days in Kaduna.

“At both meetings, all states and Local government representatives expressed concern over the level of insecurity in the local areas they represent all over the North at ACF.”

“The Communique the Forum issued at the end of the October meeting pointedly called on President Buhari to give attention to the growing insecurity in the north and the whole of Nigeria reflects the desperate and exact feelings of the whole north.

Sadly since our meeting in October in Kaduna, the security situation is getting worse. There have been serial killings of more people in the north by the bandits whom the Minister of police claimed have been defeated.

“Apart from that the bandits mounted four road blocks on Kaduna Abuja road which the police have claimed severally that they have liberated from bandits.

News reports by the media speak of many dead and several others taken away by bandits for ransom.

“These and many other security breaches have become a source of worry to our followers who voted for a government that they thought will secure their lives and property as spelt out in our Constitution.

“We are only for the umpteenth time conveying the anger and frustrations of many Northerners to him so that he will do the needful and speedily too. It is getting too late.”

Vanguard News Nigeria