Terrorists perceive security agencies as objects of mockery – Kukah

Bishop of Sokoto Catholic Diocese, Bishop Mathew Kukah, has joined numerous of Nigerians in condemning recent killings in Plateau, asserting that citizens of Nigeria are gradually losing hope in their government’s ability to protect them.

Bishop Kukah in a statement he signed personally and made available to newsmen in the state of Saturday evening said religious leaders; both Muslim and Christians, had continued to use moral authority to encourage their people not to take laws into their hands.

Kukah’s states came on the heels of the killing of over 150 persons in Plateau State on Christmas Eve by suspected terrorists.

According to the statement titled, ‘Blood and Crucifixion on the Plateau’, he said the invisible men came to the Plateau again, bearing their gifts of death and destruction.

He said, “They came from the deepest pit of hell, the habitat of the devils that they are. They are children of darkness, sons of Satan. They opted to extinguish and snatch the light of the joy of Christmas from thousands of people on the Plateau.

(Punch)

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Kaduna village bombing: Death toll hits 120, villagers allege military bombed twice

One family loses 32 members, culprits must be punished, survivors, ACF, JNI tell military

•Army chief begs victims, says soldiers mistook villagers for bandits, Tinubu, Atiku mourn

Survivors of the accidental bombing of Tudun Biri in the Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State on Tuesday said they were bombed twice by the Nigerian Army.

It was also gathered that the death toll from the incident had increased to 120 as officials of Amnesty International who visited the affected communities confirmed the increase in the death toll.

An air strike intended to flush out terrorists had on Sunday night accidentally hit civilians during a religious celebration at Tudun Biri.

While the Army claimed responsibility for the incident, the National Emergency Management Agency had on Monday night put the casualty figure at 85, adding that 66 victims sustained injuries.

But the accidental bombing on Tuesday attracted more condemnations from the pan-Northern political and cultural association, the Arewa Consultative Forum, and the Jama’tu Nasril Islam, saying that those found culpable should be punished.

On their part, President Bola Tinubu, and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar mourned the victims of the bombing.

As the nation mourned the dead, survivors of the bombing recounted their experiences.

 Forty-five-year-old Saudatu Alamagani, in an interview with The PUNCH, said the community was bombed twice.

Alamagani, who narrowly escaped being killed in the attack, said the incident started like a Nollywood movie around 10pm when a large number of Muslims celebrating Maulud, the birthday of Muhammad, were bombed.

She said while celebrating the Maulud, “The military started raining bombs on us’’, adding that at first, the worshippers mistook their attackers to be bandits.

She stated that while everybody scampered for safety, dead bodies littered “everywhere.”

She stated that while members of the community went in search of motorcycle operators to convey the critically injured to the nearest medical facilities for treatment, the military bombed the community again.

“They bombed us twice,” she said, adding that “it all started around 10pm when the military started bombing our community. We were celebrating the Maulud, the birthday of Prophet Muhammad.

“While we were looking for motorcycles to convey those that critically needed medical attention to the hospital, the military returned with the bombardment. Many villagers including women, men, children, and even pregnant women were killed during the attack.

“Four members of my family were killed in the attack. Some of the bodies of the dead littered the ground.”

Saudatu appealed to the government to assist members of the community, especially victims’ families to cushion the effect of the bomb attack.

Another survivor, 60-year-old Sulaiman Umar, told our correspondents that the village was bombed twice.

He stated, “I was eating that night when we were bombed. Many people died. We could hardly identify our children; some with their intestines out. They bombed us twice. After the first round of bombs, they came back to bomb us again.

“I ran into a deep forest where I slept till daybreak. We covered the dead with leaves. We separated the males from the females and covered them with leaves.”

120 dead

Giving an update on the tragic incident, The Country Director of Amnesty International, Isah Sanusi, said officials of the organisation were on the ground at the affected communities and counted over 120 persons who died in the bombing.

He said, “I can confirm to you that the current number of casualties in the affected areas is more than 120 persons.”

He explained that there were at least 77 bodies buried in each of the mass graves, insisting that the casualty figure was higher than what NEMA stated.

“According to our contact who was at the scene of the mass burial, there were at least 77 dead bodies in each of the mass graves. There also 17 other persons who are from adjoining villages who lost their lives in the ugly incident,” he stated.

 But the NEMA Chief Information Officer, Kaduna State, Halima Suleman, told one of our correspondents that the casualty figure of 85 persons released on Monday by the agency had not been updated when contacted on Tuesday.

She, however, stated that NEMA was intervening in the affected communities, as it took some of the injured persons to hospitals and was providing relief items to others.

“We are, of course, intervening in the communities, because our officials are on the ground there today. They took some persons to hospitals, provided relief items and gave moral support,” she stated.

But the pan-Northern socio-political organisation, ACF, and the Sultan Sa’ad Abubakar lll led Jama’atu Nasril Islam, called for a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the military bombing.

Reacting separately to the incident, the ACF described it as “horrific”, noting that the northern organisation was highly disturbed that such an operation could be contemplated and executed in the densely populated area, “suggesting an inexcusable, scandalous and plausibly incompetent failure of intelligence.”

In a statement by the National Publicity Secretary, Prof. Tukur Muhammed-Baba, on Tuesday, the forum commiserated with the state government and families of victims, praying that “God grant the dead peace.”

The forum noted that efforts must be put in place to avert such “avoidable” loss of lives and property in the future, adding that communities in the Northern states had had enough problems with banditry and should not in any way be further inflicted with more pains.

Consequently, the ACF demanded an apology from the Nigerian Army as well as a full, thorough, honest, and open investigation of the incident, to establish what exactly happened.

According to the ACF, any and all those found guilty of professional or operational incompetence must be severely disciplined, and transparently so.

It also noted that the investigation must be undertaken with the full participation of the people of the affected community (who must not be intimidated into keeping quiet about the gory details of their losses).

“For emphasis, the Kaduna State Government has a duty to act to protect the interest of the victims and not the Nigerian Army personnel that perpetrated the incident.

“Full compensation must be paid for the dead in accordance with current Islamic diya value for individual lives.

“The injured must not only be fully treated free of charge but must also be rehabilitated on full recovery, as well as fully compensated for losses of livelihoods and incomes while on the road to full recovery,” the statement added.

On its part, the JNI in a statement by its Secretary-General, Prof. Khalid Abubakar-Aliyu, reiterated the organisation’s commitment to seeking justice for the victims’ families.

The statement partly read, “The Jama’atu Nasril Islam, representing the collective voice of the Ummah, stands in profound consternation and grief over the tragic incident that unfolded at Tudun-Biri village in Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State, during a Maulud celebration, as was reported.

“It is thus with heavy hearts that we express our deepest condolences and sympathies to the families, as well as the loved ones of the deceased victims, and we fervently pray for the swift recovery and healing of those injured.

“JNI therefore vehemently condemns this tragic incident in its entirety and calls for a thorough, impartial, and transparent investigation into the circumstances surrounding the devastating and most unfortunate event. We urge authorities to ensure that those responsible are held accountable in accordance with the subsisting laws.”

Tinubu grieves

Tinubu described the accidental bombing of locals in Kaduna State by the Nigerian Army as “very unfortunate, disturbing, and painful,” expressing indignation and grief over the tragic loss of lives.

This was as he sympathised with the families of victims, the people, and the government of Kaduna State.

Tinubu’s grief was conveyed through a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, titled ‘President Tinubu condoles with Kaduna State Government, families of victims over bombing mishap.’

Tinubu directed a thorough and full-fledged investigation and called for calm.

He also directed swift and comprehensive medical attention for surviving victims while praying for the repose of the souls of the deceased.

Mourning the dead, the Peoples Democratic Party presidential candidate, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, said that the incidence of miscalculated air strikes was assuming a worrisome dimension in the country.

Atiku, who said this in an X post on Tuesday, stated, “I am grieved by the news of the drone airstrike that killed dozens of people and left scores of others with various degrees of injury in the Tudun Biri community in Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State. Ironically, the victims of this unfortunate incident were celebrating the Maulud anniversary.’’

The Chairman of the Northern States Governors’ Forum and Governor of Gombe State, Muhammadu Yahaya, expressed deep sorrow and heartfelt condolences to the families of the Maulud celebrants.

Yahaya, on Tuesday, extended his condolences to the government and people of Kaduna State, describing the loss of innocent lives as a heartbreaking tragedy.

The governor emphasised that while the fight against banditry and terrorism remained crucial, “it must be executed with the highest level of professionalism and care to prevent such heart-wrenching accidents.”

On his part, the Chairman of the Transparency International, Auwal Rafsanjani, said all security agencies involved in the bombings should be sanctioned. He faulted security agencies’ failure in intelligence gathering and sharing.

He further stated that identifying members of terrorist groups should ideally not be the job of the military, but the job of the police, the Department of State Services, and other relevant intelligence agencies, noting that some of the said agencies were grossly underfunded by the government.

Also, the Head of the National Coordinating Secretariat, United Action Front for Civil Societies, Olawale Okunniyi, said the military should rather be reoriented and re-jigged to operate on the side and in the interest of the masses.

“It is an unfortunate incident. Our military should be more revolutionary than reactionary. But presently they are reactionary and so they are not on the side of the people. They have to upgrade. We think that they must improve”, he said.

The Chairman of the Centre for Accountability and Open Leadership, Debo Adeniran, while lamenting the errors of the military, said those responsible must be held accountable and punished accordingly, as a deterrent for others.

DHQ panel

Meanwhile, the military high command at the Defense Headquarters, on Tuesday, said it would be investigating the accidental bombing and would establish a panel for this.

Responding to an inquiry from one of our correspondents, the Director of Defence Media Operations, Maj. Gen. Edward Buba said the military would probe the incident.

He said a panel would be instituted to look into the matter, adding that the details would be communicated.

Buba said, “Yes, the military will probe the incident. When the panel is set up, the details will be communicated accordingly, please.”

Also speaking on the issue, the Director of the Army Public Relations, Brig. Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu stated that with the on-the-spot assessment done by the Chief of Army Staff, he would be able to assemble the right persons to make up the panel.

He said, “From what the COAS has done now, which was to visit the scene of the incident, he would be able to gain insight into the expertise that would be required to carry out the inquiry. This will help in guiding us on the kind of persons that will be in that panel. I can’t speak on how long the investigation will take.”

(Punch)

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Visas of passengers airlifted from Nigeria verified by Saudi Arabi – Air Peace

Air Peace on Wednesday faulted the Saudi Arabian authorities over the cancellation of visas of 264 passengers airlifted by the company from Nigeria on the grounds of incorrect information.

In a statement published earlier today, the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia defended the visa cancellation, saying the passengers did not meet the Arab nation’s rules and regulations.

However, Air Peace in a statement published on the company’s X (formerly Twitter) and signed by the airline’s chief operating officer Oluwatoyin Olajide, said that the visa cancellation was not the fault of the company.

According to Air Peace, the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs provided a visa confirmation platform that was used to verify the passengers’ visas before they were allowed to check in for the flight.


The statement read, “The visas of all passengers on the said flight to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia were checked and verified through the requisite procedures and were vetted to be valid before departure,” Air Peace said.

“The visas were verified using the visa confirmation platform provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Saudi Arabia which confirmed the validity of each passenger visa before passengers were allowed to check-in for the flight.

“All the visas of the 264 passengers were duly verified, confirmed, and accepted as authentic for the trip through the visa portal provided by the Saudi Arabia authorities, if not, no passengers would have been able to depart from Nigeria.

“This is just one of two steps required before a passenger is accepted on the flight to Saudi Arabia. The next step is the use of the Advanced Passenger Information System (APIS). We equally used this system to determine the admissibility or otherwise of each passenger on that flight.”

Air Peace stated that the names of the passengers were sent to Saudi Arabia’s national travel security center before the company’s flight took off from Nigeria.

“The APIS was live between Air Peace’s reservation system and the Saudi Arabia National Travel Security Center carrier portal to transmit passenger details prior to departure, to the Saudi authorities in order to further determine the admissibility or otherwise of the passengers,” the airline said.

“No Notice of Cancellation or any form of denial from the Saudi authorities was received against any of these passengers despite the live transmission of their details.

“Furthermore, the Passenger manifest containing the names of all passengers on board the flight was sent ahead to the Saudi Arabia National Travel Security Center carrier portal before the flight departure, yet no Notice of Visa Cancellation was received against any of these passengers.”

“While we empathize with the affected passengers for this development and assure them of our full compliance with the provisions guiding international travels, we wish to state that up till this moment, the Saudi Arabian authorities have not provided any explanation for the sudden and unexpected cancellation of the visas,” the airline noted.

(Vanguard)

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NAF confirms delivery of four surveillance jets, combat helicopters

The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Hasan Abubakar, has said the service in the last two weeks has confirmed delivery of four aircraft.

 According to him, two additional DA-62 surveillance aircraft were received last two weeks, while two T-129 ATAK helicopters were delivered to the service two days ago.

He disclosed that the attack helicopters would soon be inducted into the inventory of the Air Force.

A statement by the Air Force spokesperson, Edward Gbakwet, quoted the Air Chief as saying this during the annual 10km Walk/Jog for its personnel in Abuja on Saturday.

It partly read, “The CAS disclosed that through the commitment of the Federal Government, the NAF has witnessed a total overhaul and enhancement of its Order of Battle, recalling that about 2 weeks ago, the Service took delivery of 2 additional DA-62 surveillance aircraft and only 2 days ago, also received 2 T-129 ATAK helicopters soon to be inducted into the inventory of the NAF.”

Abubakar, however, stated that more additional aircraft were still expected by the Air Force, adding that with the arrival of some of the purchased platforms, the service would stop at nothing to eradicate the security challenges facing the country.

(Punch)

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Air strikes destroyed over 30 illegal oil refining sites in Rivers – NAF

The air component of Operation Delta Safe has, in the last two months, destroyed more than 30 illegal oil refining sites around Cawthorne Channel and Bille in Degema Local Government Area of Rivers.

NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, made this known in a statement on Sunday in Abuja.

Gabkwet said the air strikes ramped up efforts to deny oil thieves and operators of illegal oil refining sites the opportunity to burst pipelines and operate their illegal oil refineries while damaging the environment.

He said the air strikes conducted at Cawthorne Channel on Friday destroyed four active illegal refining sites with dug-out reservoirs and surface storage tanks suspected to contain illegally refined products.

According to him, similar air strikes were also conducted at Bille on Saturday and in the early hours of Sunday, which destroyed three illegal oil refining sites with storage tanks and reservoirs.

“In one of the sites, a Cotonou boat suspected of syphoning crude oil from a flow station was engaged in several passes and destroyed. In the last two months, Cawthorne Channel and Bille have accounted for the majority of oil theft and illegal oil refining activities in Rivers State.

“Within this period, over 30 illegal oil refining sites in these two locations have been destroyed by the land, maritime, and air components of Operation Delta Safe.

“These efforts will be sustained in these locations and others until oil thieves and their accomplices desist from their illegal activities,” the statement added.

(Daily Post)

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