Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari, the vice president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), and African Bar Association (AFBA) have condemned the alleged killing recently of a pregnant woman, Harira Jubril, and her four children in Anambra State.
The presidency said, in a statement on Wednesday, that the security agencies would go after the suspected killers. It said the incident was being investigated to determine its factuality, and warned against any hasty reaction by the public to a viral cruel video of the said killings being circulated on social media.
Owing to the worsening security situation in the state, the governor, Professor Chukwuma Soludo, on Wednesday, placed eight local government areas under curfew.
As the spate of killings and violent criminal activities continued in different parts of the country, Borno State Governor, Professor Babagana Zulum, on Wednesday, confirmed that Boko Haram/ISWAP fighters killed 32 persons during an attack on a village in the troubled state.
Similarly, on Wednesday, suspected terrorists attacked St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Gidan Maikambu, Marabar Kanya, Kafur Local Government Area of Katsina State, and kidnapped Reverend Father Stephen Ojapa and Reverend Oliver Okpara.
The police in Katsina State also confirmed that the marauding terrorists kidnapped one Reverend Ibrahim Garba of Evangelical Church Wining All (ECWA) at Gidan Garba, in Kafur Local Government Area, where the state governor, Alhaji Aminu Masari, hails from, last Monday, “and the clergyman is still in captivity”.
The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) was suspected to have killed the woman, her four children, and six other northerners in Anambra State on Sunday. This occurred few days after a member of the Anambra State House of Assembly, Dr. Okechukwu Okoye, was beheaded, as allegations mounted about murders by IPOB.
The presidency, in the statement issued Wednesday by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, warned the perpetrators of the dastardly acts to expect appropriate response from the military and the security agencies. It also cautioned against any knee-jerk reactions, the creation of panic, disruption of lives and livelihoods, or even retaliatory violence following the viral videos of the alleged killings of non-indigenes by the Eastern Security Network (ESN) and its mother group, IPOB.
The statement said, “While expert agencies are now verifying the factuality and veracity of the claims that accompany the horrid pictures being circulated, we call on all citizens to avoid hasty steps or conclusions that could exacerbate the situation, and, on the contrary, keep to a line of conduct that will help the law to take its proper course.
“The presidency also cautions the public against the indiscriminate sharing of posts on social media so as to deny vested interests, who seek to divide us and create disturbance, the chance to do so.
“In the issuance of his very strong condemnation of these ‘wild, barbarous and wanton killings of innocent people’ in the South-east as well as the other parts of the country, which he described as ‘deeply distressing,’ President Muhammadu Buhari warns the perpetrators of these acts to expect tough response from the security forces.”
Buhari, who also reacted to the killings in Borno and his own home state of Katsina, said Nigerians must unite to fight terrorism in all forms. He said the country was in a mourning mood over the “senseless loss of lives seen in Borno State and Katsina State over the last 48 hours”.
In a release Wednesday by Shehu, Buhari assured that the perpetrators of the killings would be brought to justice. The president disclosed that 56,000 Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists had surrendered to the authorities in one year.
He said, “That these terrorists and bandits have been reduced to scavenging from our artisanal miners and farmers for survival is evidence that they are backed into a corner.
“This will be small comfort to the family members and loved ones of those murdered this week. But it is in times like these that we must be at our strongest.
“Now, more than ever, Nigerians must come together, in proud defiance of those who would seek, through terror and violence, to divide us along religious, political or ethnic lines.
“And so while we are in mourning for those we have lost, let us face these cowards already fading in strength, number and willpower as one.
“Let us show them that Nigerians will not be swayed by terror. Let us show them that Nigerians will not be divided. Let us show them we will not be defeated.”
On his part, Osinbajo, in a statement by his media assistant, Laolu Akande, said the killing of the woman and her children was callous, brutal and demeaning, and capable of creating ethnic conflict across the country. He said the cruel act must be condemned by all.
According to the vice president, “What took place in Anambra with the killing of a woman and her children demeans us all. It is such a callous act and so brutal. And I think that we must be very careful, as a people, with this type of killings that are going on, especially where it is obviously to create horror, annoyance and create a situation where we begin to have ethnic conflicts again, and all that.
“And I think we must all be careful and condemn it in the strongest possible terms, there is no excuse for it whatsoever. We must not allow a situation where we get to the point where we even countenance individuals who can do this sort of thing.
“How does anyone kill a woman and her children? I think it is such a terrible tragedy condemnable by all. Mr President has spoken about it and I just want to join my voice with those of others who are completely outraged by it.”
Soludo Declares Curfew in Eight LGAs of Anambra
Soludo declared curfew in eight local government areas of the state due to the heightening insecurity. The former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in a statewide broadcast,, enjoined the people of the state to join hands with his administration to achieve his dream of making Anambra a prosperous homeland.
With regard to the criminal gangs, Soludo said, “The tiny but vicious gangs that have invaded our state and (are) terrorising us are mostly in eight local governments in Anambra and three neighbouring local governments in Imo State.
“They are in our forests, communities, and houses owned by individuals. They don’t come from the air, and, hence, are not ‘unknown’ gunmen. They are known. You know them, but are either too scared to speak up or out of indifference. But for how long will you be silent while our people continue to be killed in cruel and barbaric manner?
“The security agencies will continue to do their part, but we, the people, must proclaim that ‘Enough is Enough’ and demonstrate full ownership.”
As part of efforts to curb the menace, Soludo unveiled more phone numbers to be used by residents of the state to report suspected cases of crime.
He added, “With effect from tomorrow, Thursday, 26th May, 2022, a 6pm to 6am curfew is hereby placed on motorcycles (okada), tricycles (keke), and shuttle buses in Aguata, Ihiala, Ekwusigo, Nnewi North, Nnewi South, Ogbaru, Orumba North, and Orumba South local governments until further notice.
“Until further notice also, motorcycles, keke and shuttle buses are banned from operating in these local governments on Mondays until the sit-at-home completely stops. The youths of every community in the zone are hereby enjoined to assist the security agencies in the implementation of this policy and are mandated to seize any such motorcycle or tricycle on the spot.
“Local vigilantes should report such motorcycles or tricycles (keke) immediately, and they will be confiscated by government and the owner prosecuted. The okada, keke, and shuttle bus union leaders must take responsibility to report their members who are involved in criminal activities.
“We shall review this after two weeks, and if members of these unions continue to be involved in criminal activities, the government will have no choice but to either disband the unions and/or ban them out rightly in the state.”
The governor said no part of Anambra State would be used as camps for criminals, adding that anyone with a gun would be considered a criminal in Anambra State, and the government and people would work with security agencies to flush them out.
He added that the state government would revoke the occupancy and acquire any land found to be used in harbouring criminals, saying every community is required to provide information on any part of their land occupied by criminals as camps. He said if the community failed to do so, the government would take over such land. The same applies to buildings that harbour kidnappers and murderers, the governor stated.
Soludo added that while hotels were to find a way to get the identities of lodgers seeking their accommodation, filling stations were to install CCTV cameras, and keep their recordings, which would be produced once demanded by the security agencies during crime investigations.
CAN Condemns Anambra Killings
CAN condemned the gruesome murder of Lady Fatima and her four innocent children. While demanding justice for the victims, the association urged security agencies to fish out those responsible for the wicked act in order to stop the senseless killings in the country.
A statement signed by Special Assistant to CAN President, Pastor Adebayo Oladeji, said the criminality was totally unacceptable, unjustifiable, and reprehensible to CAN and all right thinking people.
The statement said, “We call on the security operatives to wake up to their responsibilities. The criminals are now operating with impunity while those who are expected to stop or apprehend them appear powerless.
“This cannot be the dream country of those who fought for her independence from the colonial masters.
“It is disheartening and unfortunate that nowhere is safe again in the country, as killers, bandits, terrorists, and kidnappers are on rampage in every nook and cranny of the country and all the government is able to do is to issue periodic statements condemning them without any decisive action to bring culprits to book.”
CAN charged the leadership of IPOB to stop the criminalities in the pretext of fighting for freedom. It stated, “Are they fighting for a country for the dead or the living? They should know that their criminalities are not helping the case of their leader, Nnamdi Kanu. They should not turn the South-east to a ‘No Man’s Land’ in the interest of the founding fathers of this country, who hailed from the zone.
“Their actions are not only giving Ndigbo bad name but they are creating an atmosphere for ethno-religious wars. Will a reasonable group be committing crimes like this?
“We call on the political elite, religious leaders, and the traditional rulers of Ndigbo extraction to prevail on the violent groups in the eastern part of the country to stop needless bloodshed and tension they are causing for economic prosperity and wellbeing of the region.
“CAN commiserates with all the bereaved of the senseless killings, especially the immediate family of Lady Fatima and the recently murdered member of Anambra State House of Assembly, Okechukwu Okoye. May God console and comfort them as He pours healing balm on their wounds, in Jesus name.”
NEF: IPOB Targeted Killings May Trigger National, Inter-communal Crisis
NEF alleged that targeted killings by IPOB were intended to inflame passions and trigger national or inter-communal crises.
Director, Publicity and Advocacy of the forum, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, in a statement on Wednesday, lamented that in the last few weeks, gruesome killings of people in states of the South-east had escalated to a point which suggested that some factions of IPOB/ESN were now operating with unfettered freedom to wrought mayhem.
The forum noted that there had never been a better time than now for the leadership of Ndigbo, in particular, and other leaders to unite in openly condemning these atrocities.
NEF stated, “In addition to killings of soldiers, policemen, public servants, and other citizens, these killers are now embarking on targeted killings clearly intended to inflame passions and trigger national or inter-communal crises.
“Shocking images of murder of northerners, including children, are being deliberately circulated by the very people who murder them, to provoke widespread anger.”
It added, “This forum condemns this barbarism in the strongest terms available, and demands that those who have responsibility to bring these outrageous provocations to an end, must do so.”
The forum stressed that there was no acceptable excuse for murder, saying those who have both responsibility and capacity must step up and protect local citizenry, including northerners. The forum also called on northern leaders and elders to raise their voices against what it stressed was targeted atrocities, and take responsible steps to calm nerves.
It added, “The forum advises against any temptation to resort to violence under the impression that revenge is a solution to the targeting of particular groups. Northerners in the South-east should take all lawful steps to remain safe.
“The forum invites the attention of President Muhammadu Buhari and leaders in the South-east to note that there are dark forces at play to destroy the country under their watch.
“History and circumstances have placed them in the position to exercise leadership to stop the current slide to irretrievable disaster. They do not have the luxury of indifference or inaction.”
Terrorists Attack Masari’s Council, Abduct Two Catholic Priests, ECWA Pastor, Others
Suspected terrorists attacked St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Gidan Maikambu, Marabar Kanya, Kafur Local Government Area of Katsina State and kidnapped Reverend Father Stephen Ojapa and Reverend Oliver Okpara. The hoodlums, who invaded the Catholic pastorium in the wee hours of Wednesday, also abducted the priests’ two assistants after shooting sporadically to scare the victims who were said to be observing their mid-week prayers.
Confirming the incident to THISDAY yesterday, the secretary of the state chapter of CAN, Dr. Musa Danladi Danmalan, said the suspected terrorists invaded the parish in large number, riding on motorcycles.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, SP Gambo Isah, also confirmed the abduction of the clergymen, saying the Commissioner of Police, Idris Dabban, has given a matching order to his men to rescue the captives unhurt.
Kafur had enjoyed relative peace, but recently, terrorist activities seem to be surfacing in the area.
Danmalan added that the marauding terrorists also kidnapped one Reverend Ibrahim Garba of ECWA at Gidan Garba, in Kafur Local Government Area last Monday “and the clergyman is still in captivity”.
Danmalan stated, “Last week, Monday, one Reverend Ibrahim Garba of ECWA, Gidan Garba in Kafur Local Government Area was kidnapped alongside two of his members at the pastorium in the night.
“Early this (Tuesday) morning, Reverend Father Stephen Ojapa and Reverend Oliver Okpara of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church Gidan Maikambu, Marabar Kanya, Kafur Local Government Area of Katsina State, were also kidnapped by the bandits.
“And a day before yesterday, one Suleiman Ibrahim of Gidan Kanawa village of Kankara local government was also kidnapped. He is still with the bandits, and they are yet to contact the church or the family.”
Danmalan noted that the abductors of the clergymen were yet to contact their family members, adding, however, that security personnel were working to secure their freedom.
He reiterated that the terrorists had of recent abducted the pastor of Anglican Church in Kadanyar Baushi, Bakori Local Government Area of the state, Venerable Yohanna, but he was released after the payment of an undisclosed ransom.
He, therefore, called on Christians in the state to be vigilant and report any suspicious movement of persons or activities to the security agencies and pray vehemently for the abductees to regain freedom.
Owing to the killings in Borno State, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, yesterday, put off all his political engagements to mourn the farmers killed by terrorists in the state.
Lawan had already scheduled some engagements for Wednesday, one of which was to meet with leaders and delegates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Borno State.
He was also scheduled to go to Gombe to meet party leaders and, particularly, the delegates to canvas support for his presidential bid ahead of the upcoming primaries of APC.
Lawan decided to put off all his political engagements for the day on account of the tragic incidents and proceeded to Maiduguri on a condolence visit.
AFBA Expresses Concern Over Killings in Nigeria, Others
Worried by the rise in human rights abuses by government forces in various parts of Africa, the African Bar Association (AFBA) is to organise a training workshop for military lawyers, senior military officers, and other security agencies on legal boundaries of counter-terrorism. President of the association, Hannibal Uwaifo, disclosed this yesterday in Lagos, at a media briefing on insecurity in Africa and its effects on civil liberty.
Uwaifo, who is also President, South-east, South-south Professionals of Nigeria (SESSPN), expressed shock at the rate of anarchy being unleashed in the eastern part of Nigeria by armed criminal gangs.
He said, “With deep sadness, shock and awe, the SESSPN has continued to watch the unfolding anarchy being unleashed in the eastern part of Nigeria by armed criminal gangs seeking to achieve what no right thinking mind can decipher.
“The terrible nature of these crimes in outright killings and beheading of innocent people predominantly of the South-east is not only unfortunate but calls for deep resignation.
“As if arson, kidnapping, rape and molestation of innocent citizens were not enough, these angels of darkness and despair have continued to carry on unchecked and have become a law unto themselves such that the eastern part of Nigeria has become very famous for bad news and serious criminality.”
Uwaifo stated that Nnamdi Kanu, who is presently standing trial, brought terror to his people rather than peace and progress, which they deserved.
He added, “If, however, the gentleman never intended this, the authorities holding him must grant him the permission to make a public statement condemning this carnage and dissociating the proscribed IPOB from these heinous crimes.
“He can do this by recorded broadcast on the electronic media and he can order a stop to all these atrocities just as he ordered the activities of IPOB. This is the only way to clear his name in the face of history in the making.”
Speaking further on the workshop, Uwaifo said it would deal essentially with building operational capacities for military lawyers and senior military officers who hold command and administrative positions.
The workshop, which is in collaboration with Defence Headquarters, would hold on June 8 to 10, 2022, at the Nigerian Air Force Conference Centre, Abuja.
Deji Elumoye, Adedayo Akinwale, Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja, David-Chyddy Eleke in Awka, Wale Igbintade in Lagos and Francis Sardauna in Katsina