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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

Ekiti Debt Less Than N60bn; Not N170bn, Fayemi Preparing Grounds For Impending Failure – Fayose

Gbemileke Ajayi

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The immediate past Governor of Ekiti State, Mr. Ayodele Fayose has insisted that his administration did not commit the State to any financial institution in form of bonds and commercial loans, describing claim by Governor Kayode Fayemi that the State was indebted to the tune of N170 billion as false and “a way of preparing grounds for his impending failure just as he did when he assumed office in 2010.”

Fayose’s Media Aide, Lere Olayinka, said in a statement issued on Wednesday that Ekiti State indebtedness was under N60 billion and that the debt was either directly incurred during Fayemi’s first tenure or as a result of the loans restructuring done at the instance of the federal government and the Federal Economic Council.

He gave the breakdown as follows; Commercial Bank Loan, N2,087,788,065.28; CBN Grant for Water Project, N163,450,000; Excess Crude Account Backed Loan, N9,545,173,472.78; Bailout, N9,083,761,215.40; FGN Bonds, N18,226,699,707.18; State Bonds, N3,484,469,345.51 and Budget Support, N16,869,000,000.

While challenging Fayemi to name the banks being owed the N170 billion and monthly repayment by the State Government to such banks, Olayinka said; “He should not wait till 100 to cook up false stories of how much debt was left by the Fayose administration. He should rather tell Nigerians how it is possible for a State that is indebted to the tune of N170 billion to be making N1.1 billion repayment monthly.

“Instead of lying so blatantly to cover up his impending failure, Fayemi should publish the Debt Management Office (DMO), Ekiti State Executive Council and House of Assembly approvals for the loans since no loan can be taken without these approvals.”

Describing Fayemi as a “multiple-mouthed” person, Olayinka said; “In September this year, Fayemi claimed that Ekiti debt was N117 billion, one month after, he said the debt is N170 billion. So the debt increased from N117 billion to N170 billion in less than 30 days?

“The reality is that Fayemi is reputed for speaking from both sides of his mouth. In the past, when Fayose assisted him to be governor, he described him (Fayose) as an honourable person whose word is always his bond and today, he goes about denigrating the same Fayose.”

Fayose’s spokesperson, who admonished Fayemi to face the task of governance and stop his usual grandstanding, said; “The federal government deliberately refused to release legitimate funds belonging to Ekiti State to the Fayose administration and for this reason, the arrears of salary could not be cleared as promised.

“We are aware that in a matter of days, the withheld fund of over N30 billion is to be released to the State by the federal government as a refund on federal roads construction, arrears of Budget Support and Paris Club refund.

“Our plea is that Governor Fayemi should stop making excuses and use the over N30 billion to pay workers salary.

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BIG STORY

No Way For Dapo Abiodun In Ogun, Akinlade Remains The Consensus Candidate — Amosun

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Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, has described his reported support for the emergence of Prince Dapo Abiodun as the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate in the state as false.

Amosun declared that he stands solidly behind the duly elected consensus candidate of the state APC, Hon. Adekunle Akinlade.

This was contained in a statement signed by the state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Otunba Dayo Adeneye, and made available to reporters yesterday. The governor said he had followed with deep reflection and consternation, “the false and embarrassing reports in some sections of the media” that he had been prevailed upon by some party leaders in the state to support Abiodun.

According to him, the reports were nothing but another in a series of political propaganda to tarnish his image. He added that those behind the “unfounded rumours” are doing so to heat up the polity ahead of the 2019 general elections.

Amosun implored political actors to be wary of statements that could demarket the state and reverse the enormous gains of the recent years. He said: “Those behind the unfounded rumours are doing so to heat up the polity ahead of the 2019 general elections. They are doing it on behalf of their paymasters for cheap political motives. It has become a routine of many political jobbers in Ogun State.

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BIG STORY

Labour Meets Today For Final Decision On Minimum Wage

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The Organised Labour says it will meet today, Thursday, October 18, 2018, to take a final decision on the new National Minimum Wage for workers, following the delay by the Federal Government to announce its figure.

Mr Ayuba Wabba, President, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Abuja.

NAN reports that Sen. Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment, had said there was no agreement yet by the Tripartite Committee on the new National Minimum wage figure in the country.

Ngige had also said negotiations were still ongoing and the capacity to pay by employers remained the guiding principles as the Federal Government is proposing N24,000.

NAN also reports that organised labour and the Tripartite Committee on the New National Minimum Wage had completed its assignment for onward submission to President Muhammadu Buhari.

Wabba said that the struggle for a new National Minimum Wage for workers was on course, saying that labour was proposing N30, 000 as requested by organised private sector.

“So, we as organised labour will be meeting tomorrow (Thursday) in Lagos after which we will brief newsmen on the outcome of our decision.

Mr Joe Ajaero, President, United Labour Congress (ULC), told NAN that the organised labour has been taken for granted by the Minister of Labour and Employment.

Ajaero said that with the ways things are going as it concerns the new national minimum wage for workers in the country it might lead to an indefinite industrial strike.

“We as members of the ULC, we are not happy, initially we were asking for N90, 000 as the new National Minimum Wage for workers.

“But due to the Organised Private Sector’s appeal to the organised labour, we decided to fix it at N30, 000 for affordability.

“Right now if you look at what economy is talking about, you will find out the N30, 000 is nothing to write home about.

“Just look at what students are paying to sit for WAEC and JAMB, is it not too much, so how can somebody who earns N30, 000 pay such for his or her child.

“Are these not agencies of government that are charging such, why would the Federal Government says that they cannot pay N30, 000.

“We will be meeting tomorrow (Thursday) to take a definite decision and we will brief journalists after the meeting,” he said.

He called on the Federal Government to have a rethink by ensuring that the agreement reached by the Tripartite Committee on the New National Minimum Wage was approved and implemented to avoid industrial action in the country.

Also, Mr Bobbio Kaigama, President, Trade Union Congress (TUC), said the organised labour was waiting to be called by the Chairman, Tripartite Committee on the National Minimum Wage for the signing of the agreement.

“Who said we have not concluded our meeting. Who said that the Federal Government cannot pay the agreed figure,” Kaigama asked. (NAN)

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