By Jacinta Nwachukwu
Gov. Darius Ishaku of Taraba on Friday in Abuja, signed into law the state’s N215 billion Appropriation bill christened: “Budget of Accelerated Growth and Development”.
Ishaku said that the budget represented an increase of N2.1billion over the N213.6 billion presented to the state House of Assembly on Dec. 19, 2019.
He, therefore, expressed gratitude to the lawmakers for the accelerated hearing given the budget, leading to its timely passage.
He also assured the lawmakers of the cooperation of the executive in moving the state forward.
According to him, leadership is measured by the strides made on behalf of the people, so I appeal to us to do more than we have been doing for our people.
“There are many things I packaged into the budget, especially contracts, so that we can continue to have funds to develop the state to an enviable height.
“In the past, many people criticised me for some projects I initiated, but I thank God that today they are becoming superfluous with gratitude. Together, we will continue working for a better Taraba,” he said.
Earlier, Speaker of the house, Dr Joseph Kunini, said that the Christmas and New Year celebrations did not deter the lawmakers from carrying out their responsibilities.
Kunini said that the lawmakers painstakingly scrutinised the budget and approved same for the governor to kick start the accelerated development of the state.
“The unprecedented support and cooperation received from the governor and others is largely responsible for the timely legislative action on the bill.
“The support of the governor is a clear manifestation of the cordial and harmonious relationship between all the arms of government in the state,” he said.
He appreciated his colleagues for assiduously carrying out their Constitutional responsibilities in the overall interest of the state. (NAN)
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has hailed the ruling of the Supreme Court, upholding the elections of Governors Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia , Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta and Darius Ishaku of Taraba.
The party gave the commendation in a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan on Wednesday in Abuja.
Ologbondiyan said that the ruling was an inevitable validation of the wishes and aspiration of the people as expressed in the March 2019 governorship elections in the respective states.
“The PDP observes that the ruling of the apex court is a victory for democracy and the triumph of the people over forces that sought to forcefully take over control of their states,” he said.
Ologbondiyan urged the governors to continue in their qualitative governance for which the people overwhelmingly re-elected them.
He also advised the governors to continue in their commitment to programmes that were geared towards empowering the people and reducing the level of poverty in the country.
He reminded the governors as well as all other officials elected and appointed on the platform of the party that Nigerians across board were looking up to them for solutions.
Ologbondiyan added that Nigerians were also looking up to them for direction in their overall effort to move the nation forward.(NAN)]]>
A Magistrates’ Court sitting in Zuba, Abuja on Tuesday admitted two discs from a CCTV footage and Certificate of Compliance as evidence in the trial of Sen. Elisha Abbo.
The police charged Abbo on July 8 for criminal force and assault which is contrary to section 263 and 264 of penal code law.
Magistrate Abdullahi Illelah held that the documents tendered were relevant and admissible in evidence.
“It is left to the court to determine if a particular document or exhibit tendered before it complies with the requirement of the law or not.
“The court hereby admits the statements of Sen. Elisha Abbo and medical report which the nominal complainant obtained from Mega EyeSight as exhibits in the trial,” he held.
Illelah adjourned the matter until January 9, 2020, for the continuation of hearing while the bail granted to Abbo continues on the same terms and conditions.
Earlier, the prosecution witness, Mr James Idachaba tendered the exhibits through the second prosecution witness Assistant Superintendent of Police Mary Daniel.
The witness told the court that she was attached to the Criminal Investigation Department, FCT Police Command and was the Investigating Police Officer in the case against the defendant (Sen. Abbo).
Daniel alleged that on May 14, the case criminal force and assault contrary to section 262, 263 and 264 of the Penal Code Law was reported at Maitama Divisional Station by the nominal complainant Ms Anyata Wormate.
She added that the case was transferred to the FCT Police Command and it was assigned to her to investigate, subsequently she went to the scene of the crime at Pleasure Chest Shop, FA45, Banex Plaza.
According to her, the shop was then locked and one Mr Onyekachi Chukwu told me that the owner of the shop travelled out of Abuja.
“On July 3, the invitation letter was sent to the nominal complainant and the defendant through the Clerk of the National Assembly.
The witness told the court that the nominal complainant brought CCTV footage discs with a certificate of compliance and forensic analysis could not be obtained because the camera where the video was extracted was with one Kemi.
Daniel added that all efforts to get across to Kemi (a salesgirl in the shop where the incidence happened) proved abortive.
The witness said that she also went back to Maitama Divisional Police office to obtain the statement of Mrs Alaba Udeme the mother of the nominal complainant.
By Saidu Adamu
Former women affairs minister Aisha Alhassan popularly known as “mama Taraba” who suffered massive defeat in the 2019 Governorship election in Taraba, says she has completed arrangements to return to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
Alhassan was the gubernatorial flag bearer of United Democratic Party (UDP) in the 2019 elections in which she scored only 14, 651 votes.
She joined the UDP on the eve of the polls after she failed to secure the All Progressives Congress (APC) ticket, a party she contested under in 2015 and was able to secure 275,966 votes to come second in the governorship polls.
Alhassan was subsequently made the minister of women affairs and social development by President Muhammadu Buhari, but had to resign amidst doubts over her political loyalty.
Alhassan told Journalists on Sunday after a UDP stakeholders meeting in Jalingo that majority of her supporters in the 168 wards of Taraba had encouraged her to shift base to the PDP.
She said that the stakeholders meeting, which lasted till midnight on Saturday, drew participation from all those who contested for various political offices under the platform of the UDP, executive members of the party from the ward to state levels and other respected elders.
Alhassan added that more than 80 per cent of respondents in an opinion poll conducted by a committee headed Alhaji Abdulmumini Vaki, a former PDP chairman in the state, which covered the 16 LGAs, suggested that she should move to PDP.
The former minister said, based on the outcome of the opinion poll, she had no option than to go by the decision of majority members of the UDP.
According to the former minister, “I cannot go against the decision of the popular opinions of my supporters”, adding that she was glad that the committee did not suggest the APC as an option.
A communiqué issued at the end of the stakeholders meeting, a copy of which was made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Jalingo on Saturday night, recommended that two committees be set up immediately to fast track the defection process.
According the communiqué which was signed by the state UDP Chairman, Alhaji Hassan Chul, the first committee is to visit the national leadership of the UDP in Abuja to express the appreciation of supporters of the former minister for providing her the platform to run for the 2019 governorship election.
The communique added that the second committee is to arrange a meeting with PDP leadership in Taraba to work out modalities for the former minister’s official return to the PDP.
NAN reports that Alhassan contested and won the election for the senatorial seat of Taraba North in 2011 under the PDP before defecting to APC in 2015. (NAN)]]>
By Emma Nnadozie, Crime Editor, Evelyn Usman & Ifeanyi Okolie
BUJA-The Nigerian Army Captain who allegedly ordered soldiers on security check-point along the Ibi-Jalingo Expressway in Taraba State, to attack and kill police operatives attached to the Inspector General of Police Special Intelligence Response Team, IRT, has been identified.
Vanguard gathered, yesterday, that police investigation carried out so far has revealed that telephone conversations between the kidnap kingpin, Wadume and the Captain , were about 191 within the space of one month between July 9, 2019 and August 6, 2019. The source explained that the police authorities believed that the army captain might have been providing cover for the kidnapper, who is said to have received hundreds of millions as ransom from his victims.
Vanguard gathered that the Army Captain , who is currently undergoing interrogation at the Defence Headquarters Abuja, was arrested alongside five other Army personnel, who were alleged to have taken part in the horrific killing of the three policemen and their two civilian agents in an operation to arrest a notorious kidnapper, Alhaji Hamisu Balla, alias Wudume, in Ibi area of Taraba State.
Vanguard learned yesterday that the arrested solders confessed that they received orders to attack the policemen from the captain, whom they said informed them that Wadume had been kidnapped and was being transported in a silver-coloured Toyota Hiace Bus.
A source at the Defence Headquarters, Abuja, told Vanguard that the soldiers claimed that they acted squarely on the orders of the captain, being their superior officer, but Police sources at Force Headquarters Abuja, disclosed that the police authorities have established strong links between the army captain and the notorious kidnapper, alleging that the army captain was on the kidnapper’s payroll.
The source added further that its investigations have also revealed that the army captain, who was not present in Ibi Town at the time the IRT operatives arrested Wadume, might have ordered his men to attack and kill the IRT operatives as well as rescue his friend, the kidnapper.
Petition against Wadume received
Meanwhile, Vanguard also gathered, yesterday, that the IRT’s manhunt to arrest and bring down Wadume’s kidnapping empire began in March 2019, when it received a petition from one Sheriff Umar of Kirikinua South Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
It was gathered further that the petitioner reported that his cousin, Usman Mayo was kidnapped on the 15th of February, 2019 at Takum Local Government Area of Taraba State and his kidnapper demanded the sum of N200 million as ransom for his release.
The source explained that the family of the kidnapped victim negotiated and paid the sum of N85 million first, on March 11, 2019, but the abductee was not released. He said they paid an additional N15 million, on March 16, 2019, making a total sum paid to the kidnappers N100 million and the kidnappers refused to release their victim insisting that that the family must pay the N200million they demanded.
The source explained that the family reported to the police and the IRT was drafted to investigate and track down the suspects behind the kidnapping and rescue the victim. It was learned that while investigations into the matter commenced, members of the kidnapped victim’s family paid an additional N20m to the kidnappers and the victim was released, but the police discovered during investigations that Wadume had strong links to the kidnappers, who got N120 million as ransom from their victim.
I sold 6 AK-47 rifles to Wadume – Ajomo
The police source, further disclosed that it investigations also revealed that Wadume, had bought several AK-47 rifles from a notorious trans-border arms dealer, Ojomo Adebowale Gbenga, who was arrested in May 2019, by operatives of the IRT for supplying heavy arms and ammunition to kidnappers and armed robbers.
45-year-old Ojomo, said to be a major arms dealer in the South-Western part of the country, made startling revelations about the fleeing Wadume during an interview.
Ojomo, who was earlier in the year paraded by police authorities over his criminal activities and later detained in Lagos, told Vanguard that he met Alhaji Wadume four years ago in Benue State and had been selling arms to him under the guise of using them to fight terrorist Fulanis.
Speaking with Vanguard, Ojomo said that he got to know Wadume through his business partner, Moses in Benue State, and he told him that he needed rifles to fight herdsmen who were killing farmers in his community. The gun runner explained that he got all the rifles, which he sold to Wadume and his friends from Burkina Faso, Mali and Libya and he said he sold the arms to them because they told him that they were having community clashes.
He further disclosed: “I started selling fire arms since 1993 after my secondary school. I worked with a company that deals on licensed arms in 1993 and I left in 1996 and went to school but, I linked up with arms dealers in Ibadan, which is the headquarters of arms dealing in the south western part of the country. I started selling automatic firearms which is prohibited, then one of my friends who is now late, Moses led me to the north.
He took me to Benue State and I sold arms to several people, including Alhaji Hamisu (Wadume). He came to me through Moses’ contacts and they identified him as a don.You know arms dealing is a cartel business. I knew very little about him and I sold eight rifles to him in 2015 and in January 2019, he called again and told me that he needed 10 rifles, but I had only six and because he was in hurry, I sold them to him at N800,000 each, and the bullets for N350,000 per can. But after my arrest, I gave information about him to the police. It was while in detention I heard he has been arrested.
Police inspector arrested, recants
Also, a Police Inspector who was accused of informing the Army that operatives of the Inspector-General of Police Intelligence Response Team that visited Ibi community in Taraba state, last week to effect the arrest of the suspected kidnap kingpin did not report to Police authorities, has been arrested.
Preliminary investigation, as reliably gathered, revealed that the policeman was cajoled to say so in order to cement evidences by troops of the 93 Battalion that the operatives were not only kidnappers but were there on an illegal duty.
It was also learned that one of the villagers who allegedly collected the firearms from the dead policemen revealed during interrogation that the weapons belonging to the slain police officers were collected from him by some soldiers.
Vanguard learned that the Police inspector attached to Ibi Police Station confirmed that the operatives visited the station to inform the senior officer there that they had concluded their operations and were leaving with the arrested suspect.
Unconfirmed reports said the policeman was given an undisclosed amount of money to maintain his stand that he told the troops that the policemen did not report at the station.
However, sources said the Inspector denied during interrogation at Force Headquarters, Abuja, that he did not collect any money from the Army.
It was further learned that about three villagers collected the firearms that were flung in different places into the bush after the police team was shot, when their vehicle somersaulted. One of them was said to have taken the arms to his home from where it was collected by the soldiers.
A villager who spoke on the condition of anonymity revealed that the suspected kidnap kingpin who is still on the run, is a popular person in Ibi community.
He was said to have contested for the House of Assembly, Ibi constituency in the last election, under the Young Democratic Party, but lost.
The 35-year-old man, said to be a petty trader, was revered in the community, due to his philanthropic nature.
He was said to have bought motorcycles for some youths, some of who thronged the scene where the operatives were killed, jubilating that their benefactor’s enemies had been overpowered.
At the moment, villagers in Ibi community are said to be keeping sealed lips on what transpired during the arrest of the suspected kidnapper, last week, for fear of being attacked by loyalists to the suspect.
Some of those close to the kidnap suspects have taken to their heels, apparently to avoid being arrested over his whereabouts.
Widow to address press today
Meanwhile, widow of the slain Inspector Mark Ediale, who is yet to come to terms with the rude shock of her husband’s demise, has left Lagos for the Force headquarters, Abuja, where she was received by senior police officers who condoled her and other widows over the tragic incident.
But her late husband’s family, it was reliably gathered, will be briefing journalists in Abuja today, where some salient questions would be posed to killers of their son.
The family, Vanguard learned, is requesting an explanation on how Inspector Ediale died, when he was seen alive in a video clip that went viral.
Despite the harsh criticism of the planned establishment of Ruga settlements across the country, the Federal Government is set to commence the pilot phase of the project in Taraba, Adamawa, Plateau, Kaduna and seven other states, Saturday PUNCH’s investigations have confirmed.
It was learnt in Abuja on Friday that the execution of the project would start in 11 states including Sokoto, Nasarawa, Kogi, Katsina, Kebbi, Zamfara and Niger.
Documents seen by one of our correspondents at the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development showed that all was set for the implementation of the initiative.
According to senior officials of the ministry, the Federal Government is determined to go ahead with the project, notwithstanding the public outcry, particularly in the South.
“The pilot states for its implementation are Sokoto, Adamawa, Nasarawa, Kaduna, Kogi, Taraba, Katsina, Plateau, Kebbi, Zamfara and Niger. They are actually 11 in number and the governors of these states are coming to the ministry to learn how the Ruga settlements will be implemented,” a senior official at the FMARD, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.
The source added, “These are the states that have fully shown their interest. But unfortunately, people are talking about this as if the Federal Government is planning to grab land in the states. That’s not true. The plan is mainly for these states that are ready and the Federal Government had a discussion with the governors concerned.
“Some of the governors came here and they promised to provide land because they have seen the benefits they will derive from the initiative. It is not that the Federal Government wants to invade the states, no!”
When asked whether the government would go ahead with the initiative despite its rejection by many other states, the official replied, “Why not? Of course, the government will go ahead with the programme, particularly in states that are willing to have it. For states that are not interested, no problem.”
On Tuesday, the Permanent Secretary, FMARD, Mohammed Umar, said aside from the states where the pilot phase of the programme would start, many other states had expressed their interest in the scheme.
The project is said to be part of the solution to the incessant clashes between farmers and herders.
Umar had said, “The Ruga settlement will attract a lot of investment to Nigeria and it is our belief that in the next five years, each Ruga settlement will provide nothing less than 2,000 employment opportunities. We are collaborating with the cattle breeders associations in Nigeria.”
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On May 21, 2019, the immediate past Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, had announced that Buhari approved the Ruga settlement initiative earlier in the same month.
Osinbajo, Miyetti Allah differ on Ruga settlement project execution
Meanwhile, the Office of the Vice-President and Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria on Friday disagreed over the implementation of the controversial Ruga settlement initiative.
While MACBAN’s General Secretary, Baba Ngelzarma, claimed on Sunrise Daily, a programme on Channels Television, on Friday that Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo’s office was helping Fulani herdsmen to create Ruga settlements across the country, Laolu Akande, media aide to Osinbajo, denied the claim.
Ngelzerma had told Channels Television that the Ruga settlement model was a component part of the livestock development and transformation plan being implemented under the Office of the Vice-President.
He said, “All must agree with me that the crisis we are facing today has become a multi-dimensional one. So, the approach must also be holistic. It was the desire of the Federal Government to take a holistic approach that gave birth to the Ruga settlement model and it is not only Fulani who are herders.
“In Southern Kaduna, there are natives who are also herders. Even in Plateau, there are groups that are herders. It was intended for the herders as part of the effort by the government to come up with an economic model of resolving this crisis.
“This is an integrated settlement that will bring about the production of pasture grasses, water, schools, markets, meat and milk processing, and where it can create a sub-sector of the economy. This is something that if done properly, will create a lot of jobs.”
When asked if it was right for the government to spend taxpayers’ money on what would benefit herders alone, Ngelzerma argued that crop farmers had similarly benefitted in the past.
However, in a swift reaction, the Office of the Vice-President denied being in charge of the implementation of the Ruga settlement initiative.
The Senior Special Assistant to the Vice-President on Media and Publicity, Mr Laolu Akande, said in a tweet on Friday that the programme being handled by Osinbajo was different from the one being referred to by Miyetti Allah.
Akande said the National Livestock Transformation Plan endorsed by the National Economic Council was different from the Ruga programme.
He tweeted, “Contrary to claims reported in sections of the media, Ruga settlements are not being supervised by the Office of the Vice- President. Ruga is different from the National Livestock Transformation Plan approved by governors under the auspices of the National Economic Council.
“On the National Livestock Transformation Plan, 13 states are already in the process of implementation of a plan to transform the livestock production system in Nigeria along market-oriented value chain while ensuring an atmosphere of peace and justice.
“The states are Adamawa, Benue, Kaduna, Plateau, Nasarawa, Taraba, Zamfara, Katsina, Kano, Kogi, Kwara, Ondo and Edo. These states are at different stages in the process, but have indicated readiness to implement the plan. Truth is: this Federal Government will not impose on any state government regarding its land.
“NEC okayed the plan based on the recommendation of a technical committee of the council chaired by Ebonyi State Governor (David) Umahi. Other governors on the committee and working group are those of Adamawa, Kaduna, Benue, Taraba, Edo, Plateau, Oyo and Zamfara-mostly the frontline states.”
Zamfara, Niger back Ruga settlements
Governor Bello Mutawalle of Zamfara State and Secretary to the Niger State Government, Ahmed Matane, have confirmed that their states will accept the proposed Ruga settlements for herdsmen.
Mutawalle, who spoke through his Director-General of Media and Publicity, Alhaji Yusuf Idris, said Ruga settlements for Fulani was the best option that could foster peace in the country.
He said, “The governor has pledged to establish grazing reserves for herders which will be distinct from farmlands in order to ensure a seamless peaceful coexistence, especially among farmers and Fulani.”
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Matane told Saturday PUNCH that Niger State had already provided over 40 hectares of land for the project.
According to Matane, the state would provide some facilities for the environment, including security, health services, schools and clinics for the animals to make the herdsmen feel comfortable to carry out their job in a well dignified manner.
While Taraba criticised the project on Tuesday, other states listed in the pilot phase had yet to respond to Saturday PUNCH’s enquiries as of the time of going to the press on Friday.
Although, Benue was not listed among the pilot states, one of our correspondents observed a signpost for the project in one of the local government areas in the state.
One of the signboards seen by one of our correspondents read in part, “Federal Government of Nigeria, Federal Ministry of Agric and Rural Development. Project: The establishment of pasture plots grazing reserve, Benue State.”
Benue House orders removal of Ruga settlement sign post
Meanwhile, the Speaker of the Benue State House of Assembly, Titus Uba, on Friday said the Assembly had called for the removal of the signboards erected in the communities earmarked for Ruga settlements.
Addressing journalists in his office, Uba said the Assembly had advised Governor Samuel Ortom to direct council chairmen to remove the signboards meant for the Ruga settlements in their areas.
The speaker said, “We support the full implementation of the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law 2017 as ranching remains the global best practice. The House has also communicated to the governor to direct council chairmen to remove any signboard of Ruga settlement, grazing reserve in their domains.”
Groups including Afenifere, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and the Middle Belt Forum have since rejected the Ruga initiative.
Ex-Obasanjo’s aide, Falana, others reject plan
Meanwhile, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, on Friday kicked against the plan to establish Ruga settlements in parts of the country, saying it was “illegal”.
The human rights activist said the Supreme Court had held that the entire land in each state was vested in the governor.
In his reaction in a WhatsApp message tracked by SATURDAY PUNCH, the Lagos lawyer said the government could not embark on such ventures without the consent of the governors.
He said, “All the ranches were ruined by former military dictators. Today the South-West consumes 10,000 cattle daily. Lagos alone consumes about 6,000. What stops the Oodua Group from setting up a ranch to supply meat in the South-West? The meat sold by Shoprite is prepared in an abattoir in Ikenne, Ogun State.”
Falana, who displayed the photos of a small ranch at Ogbomoso (in Oyo State) owned by Bode Adetoyi from Ekiti State, also showed “photos of what cows for meat should be”.
He said, “It is pertinent to point out that the Supreme Court has held that the entire land in each state is vested in the governor. As far as the Land Use Act is concerned, the Federal Government has no control over any land outside the Federal Capital Territory.
“Therefore, Nigerians should rest assured that the Federal Government cannot forcefully acquire any land for a Ruga or a ranch in any state without the consent of the governor.
“In the First Republic, the Obafemi Awolowo regime had a ranch at Akunnu (Ondo State), the Ahmadu Bello regime had a ranch in Mokwa (Niger State) while the Nnamdi Azikwe regime had the Obudu Cattle Ranch (Cross River State). In the Second Republic, Governor (Adekunle) Ajasin built a dairy farm in Ikun (Ekiti State).”
How Fulani converted Ruga settlements in my community into an emirate – Ex-Obasanjo’s aide
A former Senior Special Assistant to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, Jonathan Asake, said the new move to create Ruga settlements in some parts of the country was an attempt to “Fulanise” the country.
Asake, who was a member of the House of Representatives between 2011 and 2015, said this during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Friday.
He said the term ‘Ruga’ was a Fulani word and it was thus hypocritical of anyone to say it would not be exclusive to Fulani when implemented.
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Asake, who is from Southern Kaduna, said in 1987, the Kaduna State Government approved Ruga settlements for the old Kachia Local Government Area, which comprises Zangon Kataf, Chikun, Kajuru and Kachia local government areas today.
However, he said overtime Fulani began to expand these settlements and today, some of them had been converted into emirates.
Asake said, “That grazing reserve has been changed to Laduga. Laduga is actually a Fulani word and no indigene is there. The land has been taken over from the indigenes. And that place is now a big town, with big hospitals and roads.”
Mr. Daniel Adidas, the Caretaker Committee Chairman of the Council confirmed the development in a telephone interview with with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Jalingo.
Adi alleged that gunmen in Army camouflage attacked Rafinkada and set several houses ablaze.
The Chairman disclosed that a soldier injured in the attack is currently receiving treatment at an undisclosed hospital in Wukari.
He said that the deployment of soldiers to the area has brought the situation under control.
DSP David Missal, Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) of the state police command, confirmed the incident, but said only one person killed
“The report I have indicated that armed militia youth crossed from Benue State and attacked a community in Wukari LGA and one person was killed and some houses burnt”, the PPRO said.
NAN recalls that the crisis between the Jukun and Tiv ethnic groups especially on the border villages between Benue and Taraba States has lingered since March 2019.
The rift had claimed hundreds of lives and led to the destruction of several property worth billions of naira.
The senior special assistant on media to Gov Ishaku, Mr Dan Abu, who confirmed this, said that Mijinyawa and his driver as well as the other persons who were taken with him were released in the early hours of Sunday and have reunited with their families.
“I am delighted to inform you that the CPS and the other two persons who were taken with him were released on Sunday morning and have reunited with their families. A of them are in good shape, despite the shoe and stress they may have gone through.
“It may please you to know that their release was unconditional as no ransom was paid to secure their release. Let me use this medium to encourage the youths of this state to take advantage of the skills acquisition program of the state government and the Hope Afresh Foundation to get themselves gainfully engaged rather than indulging in these acts of violence and crime that are detrimental to the progress of the society.”
Mijinyawa was kidnapped on the morning of Wednesday, January 30, while on his way to Gembu to meet with state gov Darius Ishaku who was on a campaign tour of the local government.
The Chief Press Secretary to Taraba State governor, Alh Hassan Mijinyawa, a government official and an expatriate, whose identities are yet to be ascertained, were have been abducted by gunmen along Bali-Gashaka axis of the state.
The state deputy governor, Alhaji Haruna Manu, confirmed this to newsmen on Wednesday in Jalingo.
Manu, who said the abductors were yet to contact anybody, urged the public to pray for the safe release of Mijinyawa.
The wife of the CPS, Hajiya Sekina Mijinyawa, who also confirmed the incident, said her husband left home for Gembu in Sardauna local government council at about 7 am on Wednesday to meet Governor Darius Ishaku who is currently on a campaign tour of the local government when he was abducted.
She appealed to the state government and various security operatives to try and rescue her husband and other victims; she also pleaded with the abductors to spare the life of the victims and release them unhurt.
Mr David Akinremi, the state Commissioner of Police also confirmed the incident and said police have been deployed to the area to commence a search for the victims while calling on the public to provide any useful information that would help their safe release.
Narrating the incident, Mr Yusuf Garba, the driver of the bus they were riding in who narrowly escaped the scene said apart from the CPS and the government official that were abducted, an expatriate whom he said was on his way to one of the Internally Displaced Persons camp was also kidnapped.
Garba said that the kidnappers took over the highway for several hours after stealing from the victims; then they led the CPS and others into the forest.
Sylvanus Viashima, Jalingo
The Nigerian envoy to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Alh Hassan Ardo Jika, and the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Taraba State, Alh Sani Abubakar Danladi, on Thursday, escaped assassination attempt when some hoodlums allegedly attacked their convoy in Wukari Local Government Area of the state.
The incident occurred when Danladi, who is currently on a campaign tour of the southern zone of the state, was on his way to Ibi Local Government Area and his convoy ran into the youths in their numbers who were said to have barricaded the Ibi roundabout in Wukari.
The hoodlums who were allegedly armed with dangerous weapons, opened fire on the convoy injuring several persons and subsequently burnt down about ten vehicles and looted personal belongings of the occupants who fled the scene.
As at the time of this report, the whereabouts of the APC governorship candidate and the ambassador could not be ascertained as some of the persons in the convoy were believed to have escaped to the police area command in Wukari.
The spokesperson of the APC in the state, Mr Aaron Artimas, who was at the scene of the incident, said that it was a well-organised attack.
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Artimas said that “while we were on our way to Wukari, they received information that a local government chairman allegedly sponsored some youths to burn down APC billboards and facilities in the area.
“So, it is not surprising that they have taken their frustration to this extent of organising the youths to attack our convoy and attempt to assassinate the ambassador and our governorship candidate.”
He further confirmed that about ten vehicles in the convoy were looted and burnt down while several others were vandalised and looted.
Efforts to get the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) of the state, ASP David Misal, to comment on the issue were abortive as he did not take the calls put to him by our correspondent before this report was filed.
However, the spokesperson of the PDP, Mr Inuwa Bakare in a swift reaction said that he was not aware of the alleged attack adding “the claims by the APC were only meant to smear the PDP.”
Our correspondent reports that tension was very high as rampaging youths were seen around the town in clusters burning tires along the streets.