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Kaduna: Defence Capital Overrun by Terrorists

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By Eric Elezuo

“The security architecture of the Nigerian Defence Academy was compromised early this morning by unknown gunmen who gained access into the residential area within the Academy in Afaka. During the unfortunate incident, we lost two personnel and one was abducted – spokesman for the NDA, Major Bashir Jagira 

Statements as above give jitters to the spines of the regular citizen if the highly fortified fortress of the Nigerian Defence Academy could be compromised and penetrated by criminal elements. The story was initially treated as a fake news until the above statement by an authorised officer confirmed the situation. It is worthy of note that the said abducted officer, many months after, has not been located, and his whereabouts still shrouded in secrecy. That is the present situation of Nigeria’s defence capital, Kaduna. It is like the unheeded cries of the southern Kaduna indigenes have spread across the state.

Consequently, the recent attack on a Kaduna-bound train in Kaduna, Nigeria’s supposedly defence capital, came as an anti-climax. This is taking into consideration that the state over the years, especially in the last seven years when President Muhammadu Buhar and Mallam Nasir el-Rufai have held sway in the country and the state respectively, has been a massive field of sorrow tears and blood. The state for no known criteria, has come under the unconventional control of gunmen, formerly known as bandits, herdsmen, and rustlers but have been upgraded to the status of terrorists. It appears that with the name change, the criminals increased their spates of attacks and at locations hitherto unthought of, in spite of the heavy military and security presence in the state.

For the benefit of hindsight, the following exists in Kaduna: First Division, Nigerian Army; Nigerian Defence Academy; Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji; Nigerian Air Force Base; Air Force Institute of Technology, AFIT; Ground Training Command; the Army Training Depot in Zaria; the Nigerian Military School in Zaria; Defence Industries Corporation, DICON; Nigerian Army School of Artillery in Kachia; Nigerian Navy School of Armament Technology; Command Engineering Depot and Command and Staff College and several other military formations.

Kaduna State is also host to the State Security Service Training Academy, a Police College, the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, NCAT, in Zaria and Borstal Training College, among others.

By every indication, and given the intimidating number of heavy arm bearing establishments in the state, Kaduna is supposed to be a dread to bandits or terrorists. But the opposite is the case. The state’s Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Mr. Samuel Aruwan chilled the spines of many not long ago, when he disclosed that over 222 persons were killed, and more than 774 kidnapped in the state within a period of three month (April to June, 2021). He said that Kaduna Central and Kaduna South senatorial zones recorded 159 and 54 deaths respectively, while Kaduna North had nine.

The Commissioner also said that in his first quarter report, 323 people were killed and 949 others kidnapped by gunmen between January and March of the same year.

The state, without mincing words, has lost its taste, and has become a killing field, providing cover for the murder of thousands of innocent civilians, before the criminals boldly shift target to the military, who they perceived to be just lame ducks. Kaduna State has more or less become a playground for bandits and kidnappers, who have now graduated from stealing of cows and overrunning of villages, to attacking military personnel, travellers on the Kaduna-Abuja highways and taking them hostage for money, and presently to high-jacking airports and preventing planes from taking off.

While the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi said that damage done to the facilities will gulp about N3 billion to repair, the Nigerian Railway Corporation announced the suspension of train operations along the route indefinitely causing further loss of revenue..

The train attack was coming after terrorists, numbering over 200, the weekend before invaded the Kaduna International Airport located in Igabi Local Government Area in Kaduna State, disrupting operation and killing one security personnel of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency. The attack reportedly caused panic at the airport and grounded a Lagos-bound AZMAN aircraft scheduled to take off at 12:30pm. This time the marauders operated in full daylight

Earlier on January 1, 2020 armed men suspected to be kidnappers attacked an Abuja bound train with guns and other projectiles.

The train which left the Rigassa train station at around 10 am was attacked a few kilometres to Katari, about seventy kilometres to Abuja.

A passenger on the train said that the train came under what he called “ballistic projectiles attack” but no passenger was hurt in the incidence.

Again, on October 21, 2021 another Abuja bound-train was attacked with explosives suspected to be bomb by assailants, the second attack in a space of twenty-four hours.

A former Senator, Shehu Sani who was a passenger in one of the trains narrated their ordeal thus

“Yesternight, Bandits attacked the Kaduna-Abuja train. They planted an explosive that damaged the rail track and shattered the windshield of the train engine. They also opened fire, targeting the Driver and the Tank. It happened between Dutse and Rijana stations. The Driver struggled to move towards Kaduna Rigasa station.

The route closed for 48 hours as the Federal Government, completed its repairs and reopened it for public use. Amaechi, who inspected the facility before it reopening, said government was already working to apprehend those who bombed the facility, adding that he would meet with the Department of State Services and the Nigerian Army on the matter. As at date, no reported arrests have been made, rather the hoodlums are boldened by the day.

The minister, in addition promised the procurement of digital systems in order to enhance the security network on the railway.

He said, “The essence of the digital security system is to enable us to know when there is an impact on the rail. There is a sensor; when people cross the rail or do anything, we will be able to know and we will be able to forestall this kind of attack.”

As at the latest attack, no digital security system has been fixed.

Barely one week after the train attack, the terrorists brazenly attacked a military base at Birnin-Gwari Local Government Area of Kaduna State, killing at least 11 soldiers.

It was gathered that the terrorists, in large numbers on motorcycles, stormed the Polwire village where they engaged the soldiers. The soldiers were too daze to respond.

Lamenting the ordeal among supposedly fortified fortress, the Archbishop of Kaduna Diocese, Anglican Communion, Bishop Timothy Yahaya, said that the Federal Government should open recruitment depots across the country to recruit thousands of police and soldiers so as to wage war against the bandits because the criminals in the bush have outnumbered the security men fighting them.

In his own remarks, Kaduna State chapter Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Rev. Joseph Hayab, decried the killing of clerics in the state, saying that four pastors were killed while 18 were kidnapped since banditry began in the state. According to him, in 2019, CAN published records of kidnappings where it recorded a total of over 500 Christians who had been kidnapped.

Before the bold attacks on military installations and facilities, the terrorists have made do with invasion of villages and pocket abduction of school children.

The hoodlums had struck the Greenfield University located along the dreaded Kaduna – Abuja highway and seized 20 innocent students, five of who were brutally murdered before parents paid ransom for them to release the rest.

The military did not respond. Then the Nuhu Bamalli Polytechnic in Zaria was attacked where nine students and a lecturer were abducted. A whopping sum of N10 million exchanged hands before they were released a month after. The parents paid the sum. The security agencies and the Federal Government remained clueless

With the feeling of being dominant and untouchable, the criminals had in Kajuru, attacked the Emir’s palace, abducted the monarch and 13 other members of his household. Again, they struck at the Bethel Baptist High School along Kachia Road and reportedly killed two military men before making away with no fewer than 121 students. The release could only be effected when a N60 million ransom demand was paid by the parents.

President of the Nigerian Baptist Convention, Rev. Israel Akanji, regretted that despite their cry for help from the government, nothing came forth.

Speaking to newsmen a few days ago after the weekly Federal Executive Council meeting, the Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi (retd), assured that government was on top of the matter, and will fish out the perpetrators

“Honestly, I think the security chiefs are working hard to unveil those involved, and we will tell you very soon those carrying out these attacks,” he said.

But according to the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, “The various arms of security are working night and day to unravel the mystery surrounding the attack as a whole. On the kidnapped people, what I can assure you is that the respective arms of government are working to get those victims released.

“It’s natural for anybody, who is a father or a mother of a kidnap person to be worried and to be concerned. But at the level of government, we appreciate that and we are leaving no stone unturned, but we’ll not give you the specific steps we’re taking.

“I think it will be counter-productive and will not help those who were kidnapped or help the security forces, who are tracing and ensuring that there’ll be no repeat of such attacks.”

But the Governor of Kaduna State, el-Rufai, has lost fate in the efforts of the federal government, and has proposed hiring mercenaries to fight the terrorists.

“That is why I have come to see Mr President and also I have said that, if these actions are not taken, it becomes a must for us as governors to take measures to protect our citizens, even if it means we will import mercenaries from outside the country to do it, if our soldiers fail,” the governor said.

But Mr governor also directed his anger to the south, asking why the killings are only happening in the north.

“It is certainly an attempt to cripple the economy of Kaduna and that of northern Nigeria entirely. All these are only happening in the north — it is a disturbing development.

“All these are happening in Kaduna because people are investing in Kaduna, that is what they want to stop, they want to spoil Kaduna, which is the nerve centre of the north — the nerve centre of Nigeria politics.

“Some people say they are doing it because of me; it is not because of me, they want to fight President Muhammadu Buhari, fight our party and fight the north.”

It is not known when or how Kaduna will know peace again, even with the heavy presence of the military and other security apparatuses. And to make matters worse, Governor el-Rufai is making the matter a party and sectional fight.
Kaduna is one of the most protected states in Nigeria. What is happening in the state at the moment is a testament that no state is safe in the country.
Time will tell!

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IOCs Plotting the Failure of Our Oil Refinery – Dangote Group

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… Accuses NMDPRA of Supporting Importers of Banned Dirty Diesel, Jet Fuel

Vice President, Oil and Gas at Dangote Industries Limited (DIL), Devakumar Edwin, has accused International Oil Companies (IOCs) in Nigeria of doing everything to frustrate the survival of Dangote Oil Refinery and Petrochemicals. Edwin said the IOCs are deliberately and wilfully frustrating the refinery’s efforts to buy local crude by jerking up high premium price above the market price, thereby forcing it to import crude from countries as far as United States, with its attendant high costs.

Speaking to a group of Energy Editors at a one-day training programme, organised by the Dangote Group, Edwin also lamented the activity of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), in granting licences, indiscriminately to marketers to import dirty refined products into the country. He said, “the Federal Government issued 25 licences to build refinery and we are the only one that delivered on promise. In effect, we deserve every support from the Government. It is good to note that from the start of production, more than 3.5 billion litres, which represents 90 per cent of our production, have been exported. We are calling on the Federal Government and regulators to give us the necessary support in order to create jobs and prosperity for the nation.”

According to him: “While the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) are trying their best to allocate the crude for us, the IOCs are deliberately and willfully frustrating our efforts to buy the local crude. It would be recalled that the NUPRC, recently met with crude oil producers as well as refineries owners in Nigeria, in a bid to ensure full adherence to Domestic Crude Oil Supply Obligations (DCSO), as enunciated under section 109(2) of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA). It seems that the IOCs’ objective is to ensure that our Petroleum Refinery fails. It is either they are deliberately asking for ridiculous/humongous premium or, they simply state that crude is not available. At some point, we paid $6 over and above the market price. This has forced us to reduce our output as well as import crude from countries as far as the US, increasing our cost of production…

“It appears that the objective of the IOCs is to ensure that Nigeria remains a country which exports Crude Oil and imports refined Petroleum Products. They (IOCs) are keen on exporting the raw materials to their home countries, creating employment and wealth for their countries, adding to their GDP, and dumping the expensive refined products into Nigeria – thus making us to be dependent on imported products. It is the same strategy the multinationals have been adopting in every commodity, making Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa to be facing unemployment and poverty, while they create wealth for themselves at our expense. This is exploitation – pure and simple. Unfortunately, the country is also playing into their hands by continuing to issue import licences, at the expense of our economy and at the cost of the health of the Nigerians who are exposed to carcinogenic products.

“In spite of the fact that we are producing and bringing out diesel into the market, complying with ECOWAS regulations and standards, licences are being issued, in large quantities, to traders who are buying the extremely high sulphur diesel from Russia and dumping it in the Nigerian Market. Since the US, EU and UK imposed a Price Cap Scheme from 5th February, 2023 on Russian Petroleum Products, a large number of vessels are waiting near Togo with Russian ultra-high sulphur diesel and, they are being purchased and dumped into the Nigerian Market.

“In fact, some of the European countries were so alarmed about the carcinogenic effect of the extra high sulphur diesel being dumped into the Nigerian Market that countries like Belgium and the Netherlands imposed a ban on such fuel being exported from its country, into West Africa, recently. It is sad that the country is giving import licences for such dirty diesel to be imported into Nigeria, when we have more than adequate petroleum refining capacity locally…”

It would be recalled that in May, Belgium and Netherland adopted new quality standards to halt the export of cheap, low-quality fuels to West Africa, harmonising its standards with those of the European Union. These measures synchronise fuel export standards with the European domestic market, specifically targeting diesel and petrol with high sulphur and chemical content. Historically, these fuels, with sulphur content reaching up to 10,000 ppm, were exported at reduced rates to countries like Nigeria and other West African consumers.

Belgium’s Minister of Environment, Zakia Khattabi, announced that his country followed the Netherland, which in April 2023 also prohibited the export of low-quality petrol and diesel to West Africa via the ports of Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Khattabi emphasised that the Netherlands’ decision to restrict dirty fuel exports had redirected the trade to Belgium, now used by oil producers and traders to export gasoline with excessively high levels of benzene and sulphur.

“For far too long, toxic fuels have been departing from Belgium to destinations including Africa. They cause extremely poor air quality in countries such as Ghana, Nigeria, and Cameroon and are even carcinogenic,” said Khattabi.

In September 2017, an investigation by an international organisation, Public Eye revealed that polluted and toxic fuels were being exported on a large scale from the ports of Rotterdam and Amsterdam for export to African markets. As much as a quarter of the petrol and diesel available in West Africa originates from the ports of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Antwerp. These fuels contain sulphur and other pollutants, such as cancer-causing benzene, in quantities up to 400 times the limits permitted in Europe. The Netherlands and Belgium were enjoined to enforce regulations to shield millions of Africans from exposure to toxic fuels.

The decision of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), in granting licenses indiscriminately for the importation of dirty diesel and aviation fuel has made the Dangote refinery to expand into foreign markets. The refinery has recently exported diesel and aviation fuel to Europe and other parts of the world. The same industry players fought us for crashing the price of diesel and aviation fuel, but our aim, as I have said earlier, is to grow our economy.

He noted that because the refinery meets the international standard as well as comply with stringent guidelines and regulations to protect the local environment, it has been able to export its products to Europe and other parts of the world.

While appealing to the Federal Government and the National Assembly to urgently intervene for speedy implementation of the PIA and to ensure the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians are protected, he said: “Recently, the government of Ghana, through legislation has banned the importation of highly contaminated diesel and PMS into their county. It is regrettable that, in Nigeria, import licences are granted despite knowing that we have the capacity to produce nearly double the amount of products needed in Nigeria and even export the surplus. Since January 2021, ECOWAS regulations have prohibited the import of highly contaminated diesel into the region.”

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Tinubu Appoints Yakubu As DG, Budget Office, Drops Akabueze

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President Bola Tinubu has approved the appointment of Mr. Tanimu Yakubu as the Director-General of the Budget Office of the Federation, following the expiration of the tenure of Mr. Ben Akabueze.

This was disclosed in a statement signed by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, on Thursday.

Yabuku is an accomplished economist and Chief Economic Adviser to a former President from 2007 to 2010; Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria from 2003 to 2007, and Commissioner of Finance, Budget, and Economic Planning in Katsina State from 1999 to 2003.

The new Director-General of the Budget Office of the Federation holds a Master of Business Administration degree in Finance from Wagner College, Staten Island, New York, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from the same institution.

The statement noted that President Tinubu thanked the outgoing Director-General, Mr. Akabueze, for his services and wished him success in his future endeavours.

“The President expects the new Director-General of this pivotal agency to further enhance the provision of efficient and qualitative budget functions, with a view to promoting fiscal sustainability, transparency, and accountability in public finance management for national development,” it added.

Akabueze was first appointed by former President Muhammadu Buhari as a Special Adviser Planning (SAP) to the President on February 15, 2016, and later redeployed and appointed as DG Budget, June 10, 2016.

Buhari renewed Akabueze’s appointment as the DG of Budget Office in 2020.

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Tinubu Removes Arase As Police Service Commission Chairman, Appoints Argungu

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President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has replaced Solomon Arase as the Chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC).

Ajuri Ngelale, presidential spokesman, who announced this in a statement on Monday, said DIG Hashimu Argungu (Rtd) is the new chairman of the commission.

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