The army says it has not gotten the $1 billion approved to fight the insurgency and other security challenges. The cash was approved in 2017 for President Muhammadu Buhari by the National Economic Council (NEC) to be withdrawn from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) to strengthen the fight against the insurgency.
Fielding questions from newsman over the weekend army spokesman Brig.-Gen. Sani Usman said the money is still being processed.
He said: “People should understand also that this is a democratic system in which procurement and of course funding of defence-related issues takes such a long time.
“Take for instance the issue of the $1 billion approved recently by Mr President, up till now, the process is ongoing. The ministry of defence is still pursuing the matter to the point that when it is done, the armed forces will definitely get more equipment, more arms and ammunition.”
In April, Garba Shehu, the presidential spokesman, said the President’s approval was not final because a draft bill would have to be sent to the National Assembly for consideration.
Brig.-Gen. Usman, however, said that at the moment, what the armed forces have and what have been procured over the last two to three years is being used judiciously.
The strings of Boko Haram attacks on military formations in the northeast have been blamed on the dearth of sufficient equipment.
But, the army spokesman said: “To the best of our abilities, all the necessary equipment, ammunition and arms are being given.”
He expressed sadness over the recent killings of troops and said legal action would be taken on those fabricating figures around the casualties.
His words: “So sad and unfortunate that our troops came under enemy attack on the 18th of last month and we suffered causality as we mentioned. Sadly, we lost 23 gallant officers and men and of course, some of them sustained injuries.
“In respect of the effort, we are trying as much as possible to make sure that first and foremost we give timely and accurate information on all our activities and operations bearing national security concern.
“And then secondly, we have gone a north further to identify where those fake news and fabricated stories are coming from, and definitely our legal department is taking the step to make sure that all those involved would be taken to court.”
He described the visits of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai and the hierarchy of the army to military formations as part of efforts to reverse the trend.
Nigeria Decides: All land borders to be closed at 12noon
Federal Government has ordered all land borders to be shut with effect from 12.00noon today to 12.00noon tomorrow.
Minister of Interior Lt.-Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (retd), who gave the order, said there would be a restriction of movements across the borders during the election days.
Also yesterday, the Acting Inspector-General (IG), Muhammed Adamu, ordered the restriction of vehicular movement on the election day.
A statement issued by the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) Comptroller-General Muhammad Babandede: “Further to the presidential election taking place on the February, 16, 2019, the Honourable Minister of Interior has directed the closure of all Nigerian land borders with effect from 12.00noon of Friday, February 15 to 12.00noon of Sunday, February 17, 2019.
“This is to restrict movements across the borders during the election days. The public is to take note and ensure compliance.”
New police commissioners for 36 states
The Police Service Commission (PSC) has approved the appointment and deployment of 37 Command Commissioners of Police for the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory ( FCT), Abuja.
The commissioners are Buba Sanusi, Katsina State; Mohammed Wakili, Kano State; Rabiu Ladodo, Jigawa; Ahmed Iliyasu, Ogun; Mu’azu Zubairu, Lagos State; Ibrahim Sabo, Niger; Alkassam Sanusi, Taraba; Garba Mukaddas, Adamawa and Omololu Bishi, Benue.
Others are Olushola David, Bayelsa; Adeleke Yinka, Delta; Austin Agbonlahor, Cross River; Bashir Makama, Akwa Ibom; Awosola Awotunde, Ebonyi; Belel Usman, Rivers; Bello Makwashi, Gombe State and Abdulrahman Ahmed, Kaduna State.
Others officers deplored are: Bala Ciroma, Federal Capital Territory (FCT); Egbetokun Kayode, Kwara; Hakeem Busari, Kogi; Asuquo Amba, Ekiti; Galadanchi Dasuki, Imo; Suleiman Balarabe, Enugu State;, Dandaura Mustapha, Anambra; Etim Ene Okon, Abia and Ibrahim Kaoje, Sokoto state.
Others are: Celestine Okoye, Zamfara; Garba Danjuma, Kebbi;, Abiodun Ige, Osun;, Undie Adie, Ondo State; Olukolu Shina, Oyo State; Ali Janga, Bauchi State; Damian Chukwu, Borno; Sumonu Abdulmalik, Yobe; Bola Longe, Nassarawa State; Isaac Akinmoyede, Plateau and Odumosu Hakeem, Edo.
Ani said that the Chairman of the Commission, Alhaji Musiliu Smith, has charged the CPs to settle down at their commands and to ensure peaceful, free, fair and transparent elections.
He said that the nation could not afford any disruption of the elections as the world was watching Nigeria.
The spokesman said that approval has been conveyed to the acting Inspector General of Police for implementation.
Army and Boko Haram clash in Yobe
Troops of 159 Battalion, Forward Operational Base (FOB), Sector 2, Operation LAFIYA DOLE, on Monday evening repelled attempted terrorist incursion into the border town of Kanama, Yunusari Local Government of Yobe.
The Acting Assistant Director of Army Public Relations, Lt. Njoka Irabor made this known in a press statement issued in Damaturu.
Irabor said “The terrorists came in at about 5:30 pm and started shooting sporadically and vigilant troops of the FOB engaged them.
“Consequently, the terrorists were overwhelmed by the superior firepower of the gallant troops of 159 Battalion and the well-coordinated air support from the Air Component of Operation LAFIYA DOLE.
“This resulted in inflicting casualty on the terrorists, while some of them retreated with gunshot wounds.
“The resilient troops have embarked on the hot pursuit of the fleeing surviving attackers towards Niger Republic border.
“Further details of the casualties on the terrorists and recoveries would be provided on completion of the mop up and pursuit operations”, he said. (NAN)
AI:Boko Haram kills 60 in Borno
Amnesty International yesterday alleged that about 60 people were killed following the January 28 attack by the Boko Haram insurgents on Rann, a border town in Borno State.
Investigations had revealed that Boko Haram militants had arrived at the small border town of Rann around 9 a.m. that morning, according to Amnesty International reports, slaughtering civilians and setting houses ablaze. Director of Amnesty International (Nigeria), Osai Ojigho, who confirmed the development, said the organization also analyzed satellite imagery which shows hundreds of burned structures in the town. Many of the destroyed structures only date back to 2017, suggesting they were shelters for internally displaced people who came to Rann seeking protection.
He said: “We have now confirmed that this week’s attack on Rann was the deadliest yet by Boko Haram, killing at least 60 people. Using satellite imagery we have also been able to confirm the mass burning of structures as Boko Haram unleashed a massive assault on Rann, most of which is now destroyed.
“This attack on civilians who have already been displaced by the bloody conflict may amount to a possible war crime, and those responsible must be brought to justice. Disturbingly, witnesses told us that Nigerian soldiers abandoned their posts the day before the attack, demonstrating the authorities’ utter failure to protect civilians.” It was also alleged that the withdrawal of troops triggered a massive exodus of civilians to Cameroon, as fear spread that Boko Haram would take advantage and attack the town. At 9 a.m. on January 28, a group of Boko Haram fighters arrived on motorcycles. They set houses ablaze and killed those left behind. They also chased after those who attempted to escape and killed some people outside the town. Eleven bodies were found within Rann town, and 49 bodies were found outside. Amnesty International was informed that about 50 people have not been accounted for.
Those who took part in the burial explained what they saw. According to an eyewitness: “Ten of us (Civilian Joint Task Force) came from Cameroon to Rann for the burial. When we arrived, we found and buried 11 corpses within the town, but the soldiers told us that they buried several others yesterday (30 January) who had decayed. Outside the town, we recovered and buried 49 dead bodies all with gunshot wounds.
Aid agencies have reported that some 30,000 civilians have fled for the border with Cameroon in recent days, joining a further 9,000 who fled Boko Haram’s previous attack on Rann on 14 January, Amnesty International analyzed satellite images from January 30, 2019 showing hundreds of structures burned in the east, south, and southeast of Rann. Environmental sensors detected fires in the area on 28 and 29 January. In the January 14 attack, Boko Haram burned well over 100 structures in other areas of Rann. These two recent attacks have left most of the town heavily damaged or destroyed. Amnesty International is calling on Nigerian authorities to investigate the alleged withdrawal of security forces of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) from Rann, which may have left tens of thousands of civilians exposed to this latest deadly attack.
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