The security situation in Benin, Edo state capital, has taken a turn for the worse following an increase in cases of cult-related killings, kidnapping, and armed robbery.
No fewer than 30 people are said to have been killed in cult-related killings within the past week.
The cult-related killings, mostly linked to clashes between rival Vikings and Aye confraternities, have heightened the fears of the residents in different parts of Benin.
Three more persons were reportedly killed on Sunday by suspected cultists with dead bodies littering different parts of the city.
Violence had broken out during the #EndSARS protest in the state. There was also a jailbreak at two correctional centres in the state and about 1,993 inmates were reportedly released by hoodlums.
Some persons also lost their lives during the protests. Properties were vandalized and carted away while about eight police stations were razed and their armories reportedly looted.
Owing to the chaos, the state government declared a 24-hour curfew on October 19 but it was later reviewed from 10 pm till 6 am on November 3.
Nightlife in the capital city has since ground to a halt as incidents of kidnappings and armed robbery have escalated.
Some of these hotspots include the Upper Sakponba axis in Ikpoba-Okha Council; Ogida Quarters in Egor Council; New Benin by Constain junction; Erediauwa axis; Satana market on Benin-Ore-Sapele road; Y-junction, Nomayo; Ogida Barrack and Isihor quarter.
An assistant commissioner of police (ACP) in charge of the area command and two other senior police officers were also reportedly shot last Wednesday at Murtala Muhammed Way, close to Third East Circular road junction.
The state police have called for information from the public that will help recover arms and ammunition looted from police stations.
Babatunde Kokumo, the state commissioner of police, said the attack on police facilities, burning of police stations and patrol vehicles during the #EndSARS protests have affected their operations.
But Kokumo assured residents that the police will gradually resume work at their duty posts to check the escalating crime in the state.
According to him, in Upper Sokponba, three police facilities were burnt down displacing the DPOs and other police officers in these divisions.
“These officers now report at the state command headquarters, we now send them on patrol from there so you should expect some hitches, but we will continue to work and get things right,” he said.
“The EndSARS protests, which were hijacked by hoodlums, have actually impacted negatively on police operations and unleashed attacks on police facilities.
“How do you expect, where 200o inmates escaped, for things to be normal? We were doing our best to arrest the criminals in Edo before the jailbreak and we are equally trying our best now to see that the escapees are re-arrested and brought to book.
“All these arms and ammunition were carted away under the eyes of some people, some people are having information about these and they are not giving us the information, let those who have such information give us so that we can go after them.”
We Were Ready To Lose Students In Planned Bandits Bombardment —– El-Rufai
Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, on Thursday said when 29 students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka, Kaduna State, were abducted, the plan was to attack and kill the bandits even if it meant some students would die in the process.
El-Rufai added that Kaduna is currently at war and such would only be considered as collateral damage, a price he would be willing to pay instead of paying ransom.
The governor, however, said before this could be done, the bandits hurriedly changed location which led to the students spending over a month in captivity.
The governor said this on Thursday during a webinar organized by the Africa Leadership Group.
The event which was tagged: ‘Developing a Viable Nation 2’ was hosted by Pastor of Trinity House Church, Ituah Ighodalo.
Responding to a question on his refusal to negotiate with bandits, the governor said, “Two days after the abduction of the Afaka young people, I was assured by the air force and the army that they knew where the kidnappers were with the students and they had encircled (them).
“We were going to attack them. We would lose a few students but we would kill all the bandits and we would recover some of the students. That was our plan. That was the plan of the air force and the army… But they slipped through the cordon of the army. That is why they were not attacked.
“We know it is risky, we know in the process we may lose some of the abductees but it is a price we have to pay. This is war, there will always be collateral damage in war and we will rather do that than pay money because paying money has not solved the problem anywhere in the world.”
El-Rufai admitted that he had “lost weight” over the insecurity in Kaduna State which was giving him sleepless nights.
The governor, however, claimed that insecurity in Kaduna was not as bad as Niger, Katsina, and Zamfara but the media only focused attention on his state because it fitted into their narrative of ethnic clashes.
El-Rufai said in Katsina and Niger states, entire villages were sacked by bandits but nothing of such happened in Kaduna.
On why he asked former President Goodluck Jonathan to negotiate with Boko Haram to rescue Chibok girls, the governor stated that he only gave that advice because that was the first time such abduction would take place.
He said Boko Haram is driven by an ideology and not by money in the case of today’s bandits.
We Remain Loyal To Buhari —- Military Warns Soldiers, Politicians Against Coup
The Nigerian military has warned politicians and military personnel against planning a coup.
The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) in a statement on Monday by Onyema Nwachukwu, its spokesman, said its attention has been drawn to comments by Robert Clarke, a senior lawyer, calling for power to be handed over to the military.
The military dissociated itself from the statement which it described as “anti-democratic” and said it remains loyal to the current administration.
“The attention of the military high command has been drawn to a statement purported to have been made by one Robert Clark SAN, suggesting that current political leadership should hand over power to the military for the purpose of restructuring,” the statement said.
“The Nigerian Military wish to dissociate itself from such anti-democratic utterance and position. Let it be stated categorically that the Armed Forces of Nigeria remain fully committed to the present Administration and all associated democratic institutions. We shall continue to remain apolitical, subordinate to the Civil Authority, firmly loyal to the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari and the 1999 Constitution as Amended.
“We shall continue to discharge our constitutional responsibilities professionally, especially in protecting the country’s democracy, defence of the territorial integrity of the country as well as protection of lives and properties of citizens.
The DHQ warned politicians and military personnel against contemplating the idea of a coup as the full wrath of the law will be brought on anyone caught doing so.
“The Military High Command wishes to use this opportunity to warn misguided politicians who nurse the inordinate ambition to rule this country outside the ballot box to banish such thoughts as the military under the current leadership remain resolute in the Defence of Nigeria’s Democracy and its growth,” it said.
“We also wish to remind all military personnel that it is treasonable to even contemplate this illegality. The full wrath of the law will be brought to bear on any personnel found to collude with people having such an agenda. The current security challenges are not insurmountable.
“The Armed Forces of Nigeria in partnership with other security agencies are working assiduously to ameliorate the challenge. Nigeria will know peace again. PLEASE BE WARNED!”
Adeosun NYSC Certificate Forgery Different From Pantami’s Case —- Garba Shehu
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, says the crime of alleged certificate forgery involving a former Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, is different from the extremist views of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami.
Shehu said this during Channels Television’s ‘Politics Today’ programme on Friday.
There has been pressure on the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to sack Pantami whose controversial sermons had recently gone viral.
In one of such sermons, Pantami praises notorious terrorist, Osama Bin Laden, and also speaks highly of the terrorist network Al Qeda. However, he recently apologized for his extremist views, claiming he had since changed.
The Presidency on Thursday also took sides with Pantami, insisting that persons who were opposed to the reforms in the ICT sector being championed by Pantami were behind the campaign.
However, some Nigerians on social media said it was ironic that ex-Minister, Adeosun, who was accused of forging her National Youth Service Corps certificate was never supported by the President until she finally caved in to pressure to resign.
Responding to a question, Shehu said the Presidency’s response “would have been different” if Pantami had forged his certificate like Adeosun did.
“In the second case which is that of Pantami, you are probing the thoughts, what is called ‘McCarthyism’; you search the inner recesses of the minds of individuals, bring out things they have said, or they are about to say, or you think they would say, and use that against them.
“If Pantami had forged a certificate before coming into office, the attitude (of the presidency) would have been different,” he added.
He also lambasted those who had rejected Pantami’s apology, describing them as intolerant.
“Those people who stand in criticism of a man who has said he had wronged society, he has apologized and changed, and they are not willing to forgive him to move on, they are the ones who are the problem. They are the ones who are deeply intolerant,” Shehu said.