TUKUR Buratai, chief of army staff, on Monday, stated that the Defence Headquarters, DHQ, did not declare the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB a terrorist organization in the country. The Army Chief made the denial in Abakaliki during the official launch of Operation Python Dance II, he argued that what the Defence Headquarters did was a pronouncement on IPOB added that the statement of the military gave room for the right steps to be taken on the matter. According to Buratai, the action of the Federal government concerning IPOB was right and that the military did not over step its bound towards the protection of lives and properties in the country. “You have to get it very clear. First of all, what the Defence Headquarters did was to make pronouncement. It wasn’t a declaration per se. But this has given room for the right step to be taken. I think the government is doing the right thing. “It is not that we are overstepping our bounds. We are still within the limits. And I ensure you that what the military said was to set the ball rolling and to bring the awareness to the public that this is what this organization is all about. I’m happy that the government has done the right thing right now. The Chief of Army staff, General Tukur Buratai further assured the people of the Southeast that the Army will abide by the rule of law and rules of engagement in carrying out the Exercise Egwu Eke II which kicked off on Saturday in the region. Also in a courtesy to Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi state who was represented by his Deputy, Dr. Kelechi Igwe, the Chief of Army Staff noted that the exercise was targeted at improving the security situation of the zone which according to him, was very strategic to the security of the country. According to him the exercise will help to bring about the much needed peace and security and also be used to train the Military in basic internal security. “They army have taken into cognizance the security of the people in deployment of it’s personnel for the operation”. He said the army in carrying out the operation will liaise and work with other security agencies in the region. “The army is very sensitive to the cultural norms of the people and will abide by all the rules of engagement and code of conduct that have been laid down which is quite in tandem with the Constitution”. According to him, some of the activities of the exercise will include Patrols, indoor battle exercises, Civil-Military cooperation activities like medical outreach, sanitation, donation of books to schools etc. He therefore appealed for understanding.View items...
The Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government has once again been accused of plots to islamise Nigeria through the backdoor, using the Sukuk Islamic bond as handle. The Christian Association of Nigeria is making the allegation. CAN’s latest allegation on plots by Buhari’s administration to islamise the country was contained in a statement it made available to newsmen on Tuesday in Abuja through its general secretary, Rev. Musa Asake. The Christian body has, therefore, called on the Federal Government to without delay abrogate the laws and framework behind the bond. It vowed that it was going to seek legal redress should government fail to do that. “The Christian Association of Nigeria has been protesting against this aberration since the Osun State Government, under Governor Rafiu Aregbesola, embarked on this violation of the constitution. Rather than stand in the defence of the constitution, it is disappointing to note that the Federal Government is pursuing what is an outright confirmation of an Islamisation agenda. “The recent floating of Sukkuk Bond by the government is not only sectional but illegal and a violation of the constitution. Every law that has been promulgated to back the Sukuk issuance and promote an Islamic banking system in Nigeria is ultra vires, illegal, null and void,” part of the statement read. Noting that Nigeria had never at anytime held a referendum or convened a constituent assembly that passed a resolution declaring the country an Islamic state, CAN warned that “the manipulations and scheming to smuggle the country into a full blown Islamic state should stop.” Recalling that the manipulations became apparent with the “smuggling of Nigeria into the Organisation of Islamic Conference in 1986 by the Ibrahim Babangida military junta,” Asake argued that, according to International Monetary Fund (IMF), the issuance of Sukuk by non-Islamic countries was a breach of the religious neutrality of the government of such states. “The FG must dismantle all legal and institutional framework established to promote Islamic financing in Nigeria. We affirm that the territorial integrity of Nigeria is undermined through the issuance of Sukuk in the country. We hope that the government shall desist from its policies of unbridled religious sectionalism,” he said. Meanwhile, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has denied the allegation. He explained that “Sukuk is not an attempt to Islamise Nigeria in any form. On the contrary, it is an attempt at financial inclusiveness. The difference between Sukuk Bond and other bonds is that if you invest in Sukuk bond, you earn no interest. “So, the scheme appeals to many people who don’t believe that money should gather interest. They, however, engage in profit sharing in the sense that if the government makes a profit from the bond, they give the investor a part of it but if the government makes no profit, the investor is not entitled to anything.” There have been recurring allegations of how the present Federal Government has been plotting to islamise the country. A coalition of 14 Christian groups had sometime ago also alleged desperate plans by the Presidency to turn the country to an Islamic state, “through the backdoor.” They had then argued that the bill in the House of Representatives proposing amendment to Section 262(1) of the 1999 constitution with a view to expanding the existing jurisdiction of the Sharia Court of Appeal and the state by including criminal matters was insensitive and inconsistent with democratic and republican ideals of the constitution and the Nigerian state. More recently, allegation of replacement of Christian Religious Knowledge (CRK) in the curriculum of Nigerians schools was strongly opposed by CAN who also alleged it was a plot to islamise the country. By Ebere Ndukwu …
Spain has moved to crush a plan by secessionist Catalonia to hold a referendum to legalise its independence by arresting officials and seizing referendum materials. The region’s leader accused Madrid on Wednesday of imposing a “de facto state of emergency”, with the series of measures taken to prevent the independence referendum taking place. In a speech following the latest move by Madrid — the detention of 13 regional government officials — Carles Puigdemont also claimed the Spanish state had implemented a “de facto suspension of Catalonia’s self-governance” by for instance tightening control over Catalan finances. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy earlier called for calm as protests erupted in Barcelona over the detentions, the reasons of which were not immediately clear though authorities have warned that officials who help stage the referendum could face criminal charges. The premier called for “a return to normality and a return to common sense because the referendum cannot take place.” Rajoy also accused Catalonia’s separatist leaders of breaking the law and acting against the Spanish constitution. Tensions have spiked in Catalonia as regional leaders press ahead with preparations for the October 1 referendum, despite Madrid’s ban and a court ruling deeming it unconstitutional. Madrid has taken several other steps to prevent the Catalan referendum from going forward, including threatening to arrest mayors who facilitate the vote. Authorities have also seized items planned for the plebiscite including over 45,000 notifications which were about to be sent to Catalans selected to staff polling stations. In his speech, Puigdemont accused Madrid of “suspending and repressing” freedoms.
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has deployed some of its air assets to give cover to ground troops currently on `Operation Python Dance 11. They are deployed to assist the Nigerian Army 115 Special Operations Group in Port Harcourt. The Director of Public Relations and Information, NAF Headquarters, Air Commodore Olatokunbo Adesanya, said in a statement in Abuja. Adesanya explained that it was in line with NAF’S commitment to national peace and security as well as providing the necessary air cover to the ground troops to enhance overall operational cohesion and efficiency. He explained that the wide expanse of area which the exercise covers necessitated the request by the Nigerian Army (NA) for close air support. “The exercise is aimed at combatting security challenges in the region. “The deployment of air assets in support of the NA is in fulfilment of one of the constitutional mandate of NAF,” he said. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the operation began officially on Sept. 15, and was planned to cover the entire South- East region of the country. Meanwhile, Ebonyi Government has declared support for the ongoing Nigerian Army exercise – “Egwu Eke’’, Python Dance II, in the South East zone. Gov. David Umahi declared the support when he received the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai. He, however, urged the army to keep to its rules of engagement. Represented by his Deputy, Dr. Kelechi Igwu, Umahi noted that there was misconception of the exercise by some people in the region. He said that the first phase of the exercise, which took place in the zone between November and December 2016, recorded success without any reported case of human rights abuse or molestation. “We support the army; we support the exercise, but please dance by the rules of engagement; dance in the bush, not in the street,’’ the governor said. On the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafa (IPOB), Umahi condemned the activities of the group, saying “we do not address perceived injustice through violence’’. The governor said the state was enjoying relative peace in terms of security. He called for army establishment of army formation in the border between Ebonyi and Cross River, to address recurring communal clashes in the area. Earlier, the army chief restated that the exercise was designed to sharpen the skills of personnel to be able to deal with internal security issues. Buratai stressed that Egwu Eke was carefully planned in the interest of the South East and not targeted at any group, saying that security was “key to development’’. “We assure you that our troops will abide by rules of engagement and code of conduct,’’ he said. He said that alongside the exercise, the army would render humanitarian services such as medical outreach and sanitation in various communities in the region and urged the people to show understanding. (NAN)
It was a double blow from nature on Tuesday for Mexico as it did not just have a fresh earthquake to contend with, but also the problem of the small eruption of Popocatepetl volcano. In Atzitzihuacan on the slopes of the volcano, a church collapsed during mass, killing 15 people, Puebla Governor Jose Antonio Gali said. This is in addition to the 149 people who died when a powerful earthquake of magnitude 7.1 struck central Mexico, toppling buildings in the heavily populated capital where rescuers scoured frantically under the rubble of ruins for survivors. Thousands ran into the streets in panic, and millions lost electricity when the quake struck around lunchtime. Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said 44 buildings were severely damaged or destroyed. Several major gas leaks and fires occurred. Interior Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong told local television rescue teams were working painstakingly with picks and shovels. The United Nations expressed condolences and said it was ready to assist. “We have some buildings where we have reports that there could be people inside. They are doing it with lots of caution,” the interior secretary said, adding that more rescue personnel would be needed. Ambulances and fire engines confronted gridlock on Mexico City’s streets as millions of workers tried to go home. The temblor occurred on the 32nd anniversary of a devastating quake that killed thousands in Mexico City in 1985. Many Mexicans had taken part in earthquake drills on Tuesday as is customary every Sept. 19. A powerful quake in southern Mexico on Sept. 7 killed at least 98 people. Among buildings that collapsed in the capital on Tuesday were apartment blocks, a school, a factory and a supermarket. The fashionable Roma district was hard hit, and a six-story apartment building was among several collapses reported. Hundreds of volunteers and rescue workers dug through the rubble with picks, shovels and their bare hands. “My wife is there. I haven’t been able to communicate with her. She is not answering, and now they are telling us we have to turn off our cellphones because there is a gas leak,” said Juan Jesus Garcia, 33, choking back tears. On Twitter, relatives posted pleas for news of family members, including 8-year-old Alexis Vargas Macias who was at Enrique Rebsamen school when the quake hit. The school collapsed, television images showed, and according to local media and family members on social media, several children were killed. Earthquakes of magnitude 7 or above are regarded as major and are capable of causing widespread heavy damage. The highest death toll was in Morelos State, just south of Mexico City, where 64 deaths were reported, said Luis Felipe Puente, head of the nation’s civil protection agency. In Mexico City, at least 36 people were killed, he said. In the neighboring state of Mexico, at least nine people were killed. Twenty-nine deaths were reported in the central state of Puebla, to the south, Puente said. The epicenter of Tuesday’s quake was in Puebla, the U.S. Geological Survey said, and 41 deaths were reported there earlier. There was no explanation for the disparity with the figure Puente cited. One death was also reported in the state of Guerrero, in southwestern Mexico, which Puente did not include in his count. ‘FEAR AND PANIC’ Power was cut to 3.8 million customers, national electricity company CFE said. In Puebla, university student Jevon Minto, 24, said he had just arrived at class when he felt the shaking. “We were seated when the place started shaking real, real hard … You can literally feel the fear and the panic in this city.” ”You can see people … (are) scared, their eyes are red from crying.” U.S. President Donald Trump said on Twitter: “God bless the people of Mexico City. We are with you and will be there for you.” Mexico City, one of the world’s most populous cities, and the surrounding area are home to about 20 million people. In the capital, at least one survivor was pulled from a collapsed building in the busy Condesa neighborhood, and another was rescued from a six-story apartment building nearby. Banker Jesus Gonzalez Hernandez, 55, said office lamps and furniture swayed when the tremor began. He and colleagues rushed to evacuate. ”But while exiting down the stairs, the walls were coming apart,” said Gonzalez Hernandez, who fractured his ankle in the melee. In Cuernavaca, a city in Morelos popular as a destination for weekend visitors from Mexico City, there were reports on local radio of people trapped beneath collapsed buildings. Mexican TV and social media showed cars crushed by debris. “We got out really fast, leaving everything as it was and just left,” said Rosaura Suarez, as she stood with a crowd in Mexico City. Mexican stocks and the peso currency dropped on news of the earthquake and Mexico’s stock exchange suspended trading. *Source: Reuters
Few days after the President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government declared the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) as a terrorist group through the instrumentality of the military, the FG’s secret police, the Department of Security Services (DSS), has begun to raid newspaper vendors in Asaba, Delta state capital, confiscating all newspapers that are of Biafra origin and propagating Biafra republic. Major newspaper centers were Tuesday stormed in the city, specifically those along Ibusa road, the popular Nnebisi road, some opposite the Westend Mixed Secondary in Asaba and opposite government house. According to the secret police officials, publications carried in the Biafran Newspapers were misleading to the general public but onlookers alleged that the raid might not be unconnected with the proscription of Independent People of Biafra, hence it becomes necessary to stamp out every inscription of Biafra form the nation. Our correspondent observed that all the papers bearing Biafra on the newsstand were confiscated and were taken away with them. Another vendor by the United Bank of Africa, near Ibusa junction, was most hit as he was lucky to have escaped following the presence of the DSS officials. As soon as he saw the officials, he abandoned his stand, even the national dailies, including PUNCH, Nation Vanguard and others and fled from the presence of the officials. He explained that if he had not fled from their presence, he would have been arrested by the officials. He said every newspaper vendor around the area and the IPOB youths around took to their heels as they usually gather round the vendors stand to read daily newspapers where they argue over issues of Biafra and Nigeria. “It wasn’t a small thing. I had to run away when I saw them. I left all my papers and escaped. They were even calling me to come but people around told me not to go to them that they may arrest me. Everybody was afraid,” the vendor who would not want his name mentioned said. Among the papers confiscated are Biafra Times, Biafra Star and other papers that are specifically for the promotion of Biafra propaganda in Nigeria. Efforts by the secret police to make him return to his stand fail on deaf ears even when they tried calming him that he would not be arrested.
By Ifeanyi Nwoko The President of the Senate Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki has urged all Nigerians to maintain peace and avoid statements or actions that can threaten the peace of the nation. This is even as the leadership of the Senate is set to meet with security chiefs over the tension in the South East as well as the skirmishes in Plateau State. In a statement by his Special Adviser (Media and Publicity), Yusuph Olaniyonu, Saraki advised Nigerians to remain calm and not do anything that would aggravate the tension in some parts of the country. The Senate’s President who was reacting to the skirmishes in the South East and in Plateau state, said that the crises was not unconnected to the economic challenges of the nation. “The tension in some parts of the country has its roots substantially in the economic situation. “The nation should be assured that some of the legislative and executive actions taken to address the economic problems are beginning to yield fruits. “That is why we recently witnessed the rebound of the economy and the exit of the country from recession.” “I want to appeal to our people to avoid stoking ethnic or religious fires. We should not deepen the fault lines of our nation and place citizens in danger of violence and sustained crises. “The government requires the support of all Nigerians and we should please give peace a chance. No real development or genuine economic activity can take place in the midst of crisis or tension. Investments and development thrive only where there is peace,” he said. Saraki advised Political, Social and Religious leaders to take actions that will douse the tension and reassure the people that the best way is for us to live together in peace, harmony and co-operation. “All leaders at this point must canvass support for government and preach peace, love and harmony. “The Senate leadership will soon meet with security chiefs and we will work for the promotion of dialogue as well as peaceful resolution of all contentious issues. “Once again, I plead with our people to avoid taking laws into their hands or antagonizing our neighbours “, he said.