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Benue Residents, Travellers Alarmed As Armed Herdsmen Take Otukpo-Ugbokolo-Otukpa-Orokam Highway Forests

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Residents of the villages along the highway stretching from Okpokwu to Ogbadibo Local Government Areas, LGAs of Benue state have raised the alarm over the occupation of the expansive forests on that axis of the state by armed herdsmen.

They lamented that the marauders have converted the forests to their haven and brazenly engage in attacks and kidnappings of commuters on the Otukpo-Ugbokolo-Otukpa-Orokam road without resistance.

A member of the Orokam community and practicing Journalist who spoke on condition of anonymity said weekend that the marauders operate in the communities with impunity.

He said “from the information we have received so far from persons that were kidnapped and released after ransom was paid, the gang members are made up of Fulani herdsmen. And the hotbed of their operations is that stretch of road between Ugbokolo and Otukpa. There is a thick forest called Okungaga, that is one of the places they have converted to their fortress.

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“These are people who wield sophisticated weapons and we heard that from that point they also take their victims on foot for hours through forests to other parts of Idoma land down to Ado LGA and Otukpa in Ogbadibo LGA to hide them while they negotiation for ransom to be paid for their release.

“As we speak the Otukpo-Ugbokolo-Otukpa-Orokam highway is completely unsafe for anyone to travel on, especially at night.

“Unfortunately security agencies seem so helpless to tackle the menace as no decisive action has been taken to deal with the situation in order rout them out.

“The local Vigilante and the Benue State Community Volunteer Guards also lack the capacity to confront them because the marauders wield automatic weapons and no one in his right sense will dare confront them.”

On their mode of operation, he said, “they usually appear in military camouflage and at night they barricade the roads pretending to be security personnel in a bid to rob and kidnap unsuspecting road users.

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“Owukpa where you have a very large expanse of forests between Benue and Enugu state is another of their fortress. The people live in fear and they have become helpless.”

Only recently the traditional ruler of Ogbadibo LGA, HRH Chief Emmanuel Odeh decried the security situation in part of his domain lamenting that armed herdsmen had taken over the expansive forests in the area from where they launch attacks on innocent citizens.

While lamenting the lack of security presence in the area, the royal father said: “This leaves us vulnerable to attacks, compounded by the extensive forest areas that provide cover for kidnappers.”

Efforts to reach the Benue Police Public Relations Officer, Superintendent, SP, Catherine Anene, on the armed herdsmen issue, were unsuccessful.

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Climate Change: Foundation Trains Students On Impacts, Adaption

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Group photograph of students, teachers and the foundation staff

In a bid to mitigating the effect of climate change in our society, a non-profit organisation, LILBECKKING DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION in conjunction with The Social Change Nest, recently trained and enlightened students from selected secondary schools in Benin on how best to cope with the present situation.

INFO DAILY reports that the programme which was held at Leaders College, Ugbiyhoko, Benin, had in attendance: Stone Bridge Academy; Hallmark International School; Joyce Scholars Educational Centre, all in Benin city.

INFO DAILY also reports that 33 students and few teachers were trained and enlightened in the programme themed: ‘Youth Action on Clean Energy.’

Cross section of students trained during the training programme.

Enlightening the students, Secretary of the foundation, Mr. Destiny Aigbokhae, said climate change has significant impacts on youths and young people, hence the training.

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He said the focus was to train young ones so that they too “will be able to spread the message on climate change, it impacts and how best to adapt to it.”

Mr. Destiny Aigbokhae taking the students during the programme

According to him, “climate change does not just affect our lives alone, but it affects us socially and economically.”

Enumerating health risk, disrupted education, limited economic opportunities, inter-generational equity, etc, as impacts of climate change, Aigbokhae urged the society to embark on recycling of waste as a way of mitigating climate change.

He said to mitigate climate change, there’s a need for electrification of industrial processes; greater use of renewable energy and efficient means transport implementation.

 

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Wike Lists His Priorities As FCT Minister To British High Commission

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Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Wike, has told the British High Commission in Abuja that security, agriculture and job creation are among the top priorities of the FCT Administration.

The minister made this statement when he received a delegation from the British High Commission in Nigeria led by the British High Commissioner, Richard Montgomery, on a courtesy visit to the FCT Administration on Tuesday.

The British High Commissioner had sought to understand the priorities of the FCT Administration for the development of the FCT in order to improve bilateral relations.

Responding, Wike said the creation of jobs, especially in the agricultural sector, is being prioritized to ensure that the teeming youth in the FCT are provided with a source of livelihood. He added that the FCT Administration, in line with the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has also provided the necessary support to the security agencies to address the security challenges in the FCT.

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He said the ongoing provision of infrastructure in the Abuja city center and the Area Councils, apart from accelerating the development of the FCT, are also avenues for job creation for the youths who would be engaged during the course of the projects.

According to the Minister, “When you say priority, creation of jobs is key. If you are not able to create jobs, of course, you know what that will mean for the teeming youths. So, we believe that the creation of jobs is not only in the white-collar sector. Through these activities, many of the youths are employed.

“If you go to the area councils today, there are lots of jobs going on that have created opportunities for the youths to be employed. So, the creation of jobs is a priority for this administration.”

Stressing that the FCT has vast arable lands for agriculture, the FCT Minister also expressed the readiness of the FCT Administration to collaborate with investors in the agricultural sector to create employment for youths and promote food security.

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We have to remove the youths from the streets. So, we believe that in partnering with investors in the area of agriculture, that will also create jobs. So, that, in fact, to us, is a major priority. We will be interested if we can see partners in these areas,” the minister stressed.

Wike also added that the FCT is open to investments and collaborations in the tourism sector to make the city a major tourist attraction.

Speaking further on the security challenges in the FCT, the Minister stated that remarkable improvements have been achieved in the last few months due to the level of support and commitment of the security agencies.

The FCT Minister, who blamed the heightened insecurity in the FCT in the recent past on the activities of kidnappers and bandits, from the states sharing borders with the FCT, noted that the security agencies have done quite well to tame the activities of the bandits and other criminal elements.

He expressed confidence that the improved security in the FCT will also increase investors’ confidence in the nation’s capital.

We cannot say that we have been able to solve all the problems, but it is important to know that we are making progress, particularly on the issue of security, which has been a source of concern, not only to residents but the diplomatic community,” Wike said.

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Alleged Diversion Of Palliatives: Sacked Kogi Council Boss, Atawodi Breaks Silence

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Hassan Atawodi, the sacked Transition Chairman of Ofu Local Government Area, has opened up on why he was removed.

The Secretary to Kogi State Government, Folashade Arike Ayoade, had on Monday announced the sack of Atawodi in a statement by Governor Ahmed Usman Ododo, for allegedly diverting palliatives meant for his local government.

Speaking to journalists on Tuesday, Atawodi said he was removed from office courtesy of some political leaders who do not like him.

He added that the palliative meant for Ofu LGA was not handed over to him, saying, “How can I divert what was not given to me?”

While noting that it was a gang-up against him, as there was no time he diverted any palliatives meant for his people, Atawodi stressed that he was denied the clearance letter that would have allowed him to collect the palliative.

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“My travails began from the first day I was appointed, possibly because I was not the choice of some alleged power brokers in my local government. After signing for the palliative for Ofu, the next day I could not get the clearance letter because of orders from above.

“Upon assumption of office, I appointed my five aides and six special advisers. Later, they reported me to the powers that be that I made the appointments without consulting them.

“They went to the extent of sending pictures of somebody I appointed to say he was a member of an opposition party.

“I was asked to meet with the Leader of the local government in the company of the House of Assembly member, the local government, and the zonal party chairmen, which I did and asked that they should please forgive me, following their report, with a call on them to please join me so that we can work together.

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“Following my appeal to those who reported me over the appointment, I was asked to dissolve the aides I appointed, which I did by going on air as promised and dissolved all the SSAs.”

The former Transition Chairman said he is innocent of the allegations of diversion of palliatives leveled against him, calling on the State Governor of Kogi State to look into the matter critically, as the said palliative was never handed over to him.

Continuing, he said, “I was not given a palliative to share. On hearing about the palliative, I went to the Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs, who said there is an instruction for me not to be given the palliative.

“The ommissioner asked me to put a call across to the Deputy Governor before it could be released. I called from the morning through till about 4:00 pm on the said day, without my calls being picked.

“I later went back to the Commissioner, who said the Deputy Governor is yet to call. I had to leave to return the following day.

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“The next day, upon arrival at the Government House, I saw the DLG, SLG, and the APC Chairman for my local government. The commissioner said he has been directed to release the palliative to them.

“I was asked by the Commissioner to remain calm, particularly that with the several leaders I have in my local government, he doesn’t think I should bother myself with how the palliative would be shared.

“After they moved the palliative from the Muhammadu Buhari Civic Centre, I called the DLG to ask about the whereabouts of the palliative, that is the 1200 bags of rice. He said it was off-loaded at the residence of the Zonal Chairman in Ejule. I asked if it was safe there, as I would have guaranteed that if brought to the Local Government Secretariat, it would be safer and would reach the intended beneficiaries.

“I was at the Governorship Tribunal in Abuja yesterday when somebody called me to inform me that a letter of replacement was being typed to replace me, after which I was later told that I had been replaced.”

While the former Transition Chairman said he has taken the power play against him as the will of God, he lamented that he was surprised to read on social media that his sack was connected with the alleged diversion of palliatives that were never given or handed over to him.

“My hands are clean, and I know that my God will fight for me. Since my assumption, it’s been one battle to another. The DSS are all aware of my travails.”

The former Transition Chairman called on Gov. Ahmed Usman Ododo to constitute an investigation into the reason behind his removal, pointing out that it could not have been over a palliative that was not handed over to him.

 

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