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A policeman and about 11 others were shot dead while several others sustained gunshot injuries yesterday when armed robbers invaded Igarra town, the headquarters of Akoko-Edo Local Government Area of Edo State.

The robbers unleashed terror in the town as they attempted to rob two commercial banks – Unity Bank and Keystone Bank.

The evening attack sent hordes of residents scampering for safety. Also killed were two detained suspects at the Divisional Police Station, who were arrested yesterday morning for minor offences.

One of the dead detained suspects was said to have been arrested by the police for incomplete vehicle particulars. At press time, the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Chidi Nwabuzor, said information about the attack was still sketchy, but promised to release more details later.

It was learnt that the gunmen swooped on the police station, which is about 1.2 kilometres from the banks, apparently to demobilise the policemen.

They also burnt the official vehicle of the newly posted Area Commander.

Three other persons near the police station were also killed.

At least four other persons were killed within the premises of the two banks.

It was learnt that the robbers could not gain access to the vaults of the banks.

An indigene of the community, Ofei Obende, said residents mobilised themselves and tried to resist the robbers, but they were overpowered by the invaders’ firepower.

He said that policemen attached to the banks had engaged the bandits in exchange of gunfire, which was responsible for the death of the three unidentified bodies.

Palace Secretary to the Otaru of Igarra, the paramount ruler of the community, Elder Folorunsho Dania, confirmed the incident yesterday on the phone. He said: “This is a serious case. Armed robbers have besieged Igarra. So many lives were lost; 10 bodies have been counted.

The police station was set ablaze, while the Area Commander’s new car was torched. Also, close to the police station, three people were killed. In the banks – Keystone Bank and Unity Bank – many persons were killed. In all, 10 lives have gone.

“They could not access the strong rooms of the banks. The people that were killed in the bank were outside the bank premises. Four persons were killed on the bank premises. A policeman was killed in the police station. Also, a stone throw from the police station, three persons were killed. Igarra is in a war scene; I am right at the police station.”

Six persons were killed in a similar raid in November 2015 when robbers invaded the community. Meanwhile, the Nigerian Navy has arrested four suspected members of a notorious cult group, Debam, said to have been robbing sea travellers of their valuables.
Cdr. Ikenna Okoloagu, the Base Operation Officer, Nigerian Navy Ship Pathfinder (NNS), Port Harcourt, paraded the four suspected cultists to newsmen on yesterday. He said the suspects were arrested by a naval patrol team deployed to end killings and other criminal activities in its host community of Rumuolumeni.

“This decision to heighten our security patrol follows the recently reported spate of killings in Rumuolumeni community and other forms of criminality in the state.

“The patrol team was tasked with the responsibility to ensure a safe, secure and peaceful atmosphere within the state.

“So, in the course of the patrols, on August 8, about 0845 hours, the base patrol element arrested four suspected sea robbers and members of the dreaded Debam cult group,” he said.

The officer said that the suspects were apprehended at their hideout at Iwofe waterfront with a locally made pistol and four live cartridges found in their possession.

“Additionally, controlled and banned substances such as cannabis (Indian hemp) and tramadol were found in their possession.

“The suspects were immediately brought in for questioning and they later confessed to being members of the Debam cult group,” he said. Okoloagu said the hand over to the police was done in line with the Harmonised Standard Operating Procedures that spelt out roles for security agencies in combating illegalities in the oil and gas sector.

One of the suspects, who admitted to the crime and pleaded for leniency, said that he was recruited into Debam cult by a friend when he was 19 years old. “I joined the group when I was in my Senior Secondary Three level at Community Secondary School, Rumuolumeni, in 2015.

“Immediately I joined Debam, I started saving money and later bought the gun (locally made pistol) for N15,000 for my protection.

“The gun is mine, but I have not shot or killed anybody with it,” the 22-year-old said. Lekum claimed they worked for an unnamed chairman of the National Union of Iwofe who directed them to collect levies from those engaging in illegal oil bunkering in the area.
Also, a Daura Road Chief Magistrates’ Court in Kaduna, Kaduna State, on Thursday ordered the remand of three men for alleged armed robbery.

The defendants – Rabiu Abdullahi, Ibrahim Dahiru and Anas Mohammed – are standing trial on a two-count charge of criminal conspiracy and armed robbery. The prosecutor, Insp. Akinga Akila, had told the court that the matter was transferred to the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) for further investigation.

Akila said that on July 6, at 2 p.m., the defendants robbed some passengers of their property on Ishaku Road, Ungwan Rimi in Kaduna, when they boarded a tricycle.

The prosecutor said that the passengers were robbed of their phones and wallets, containing a school’s identity card and voter’s card, before the defendants were caught. He said that the defendants confessed to committing the crime during the police investigation, adding that the offences contravened Sections 59 and 283 of the Penal Code.

Magistrate Abdulkadir Musa declined to take the plea of the defendants because the court lacked the jurisdiction to hear the matter. Musa ordered the police to forward the case file to the State Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for legal advice and adjourned the case until September 5.

BIG STORY

A’Ibom 2019: Plot To Tag Gov Udom’s Aides As cultists Thickens

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As the buildup to the 2019 general elections gathers momentum, a thickening plot to implicate the key aides of Akwa Ibom State governor, Dr. Udom Emmanuel with trumped-up accusations of being involved in cult activities has been uncovered. 

It is alleged to be spearheaded by a top-ranking former chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, who recently cross-carpeted to the All Progressives Congress, APC.

Akwa Ibom State has turned into a theatre of war, no thanks to the activities of key opposition politicians in the state led by a senator who has not hidden his determination to retake control of the political machinery in the state and ensure power swings to his new party at the polls come 2019.

The once peaceful state has been engulfed in an intractable crisis since the defection of the top party man to the extent that the centre can no longer hold. Everything has allegedly been done by the Senator and his cohorts in the last few weeks to make the state ungovernable. It is perceived to be a ploy to humiliate the governor of the state, Udom Emmanuel, who has been locked in a battle for the soul of the state since the beginning of the crisis.

It got to a stage that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, was deployed in the humiliation process. In the process, Gov. Emmanuel was indicted by officers of the anti-graft agency for purportedly withdrawing the sum of N1.7 billion from the state treasury, an accusation which the government has since denied.

The senator representing Uyo Senatorial District at the National Assembly, Senator Bassey Albert Akpan; the Assembly speaker, Hon Onofiok Luke; and Hon Ekong Samson, Commissioner for Economic Development, Labour and Manpower Planning are among Governor Udom’s aides penciled down to be labeled cultists in the latest onslaught. Others include Transition Committee ex-chairman, Hon Victor Umondak as well as Hon Kenneth Okon and Hon Eno-Obong Uwah, the Senior Special Assistant on Local Government and Youth Groups to the governor and Executive Chairman, Uyo Capital City Development Authority, UCCDA, respectively.

More names included in the hit list include that of Barrister Emmanuel Eno-Idem, PDP National Legal Adviser, Barr. Emmanuel Enoidem, Hon Kelly Okon and Dr Charles Mbong, among others.

The strategy is to use the law enforcement officers including the police and DSS to harangue the top aides of the governor.

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BIG STORY

Fuel Crisis Looms as Marketers Order Depots’ Shutdown

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Oil marketers under the aegis of Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMAN) yesterday directed their members to shut down all depots in the country at midnight to protest federal government’s failure to pay them their outstanding subsidy claims estimated at N800 billion.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has, however, described the action of the marketers as economic sabotage.

The Ministry of Finance had announced, at the weekend, that the federal government had reached an agreement with the marketers after meeting the parties to begin the payment of the money owed them.

But DAPPMAN, in a counter statement yesterday by its Executive Secretary, Mr. Olufemi Adewole, denied the ministry’s claim, saying they never signed any agreement with the federal government, insisting that their planned seven-day ultimatum still stands and ordered the shutdown of depots.

Adewole said, “Premised on our inability to pay December salaries and to avoid owing staff for work done without any hope of pay, it is hereby agreed, since our staff have been disengaged, all DAPPMAN member depots are not in a position to operate hence will shut down all loading operations at midnight, Sunday, December 9, 2018 until the federal government pays our calculated claims.

“This decision is binding on all members of the association and full compliance is expected from every member company of the association. The association shall revert in the same vein with any other directives as might be deemed necessary.”

According to Adewole, the association took the bold step to stop the financial haemorrhage of its members, which arose from the federal government’s failure to pay its members’ outstanding claims.

He said, “As you are aware, the association reviewed the suspension of the ultimatum given to the federal government in December 25, 2017, which was suspended due to the intervention of well-meaning Nigerians and the federal government’s promise to immediately pay marketers the outstanding subsidy-induced debts.

“Unfortunately as at today, and almost 12 months to the date, all we got so far are invitations to meetings and dialogues which have so far not stopped the daily increasing interest on these debts (which are owed to banks, AMCON, PPPRA, and PEF(M)B) and FIRS) and which, also has not manifested as credit to marketers.”

In a telephone interview with THISDAY, the Special Adviser on Media to the Minister of Finance, Mr. Paul Abechi, said the relevant agencies of the government met with oil marketers last Thursday to resolve the subsidy payment controversy, adding that it was unfortunate for any group to claim otherwise.

Abechi noted that people had begun to exploit the political season to advance their interests, adding that to further show government’s commitment to defray the subsidy arrears, it offered to pay the first tranche of N236 billion last Saturday.

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BIG STORY

I Don’t Work For Tinubu, I’m More Influential Than Him; He Stole Lagos Money —- Omoyele Sowore [VIDEO]

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Presidential Candidate of the African Action Congress ( AAC) and founder of online news agency Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore has denied claims he’s working for APC National Leader Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Sowore debunked the old-aged rumor while addressing the press recently where he spoke about the role of the media in the forthcoming general elections and also answered questions on his plans and party manifesto for Nigeria.

Watch the video below:

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