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.
EndSARS Reconciliation: We’ll Walk For Peace With You, LASU Students Assure Sanwo-Olu
Representatives of the students union of Lagos State University, LASU, Ojo, Thursday expressed readiness to participate in the proposed peace walk being organized by the state government to assuage frail nerves over the October 20, 2020, Lekki Toll Gate shooting incident in the state.
Recall that Sanwo-Olu, a few days ago, before the release of the White Paper, had invited some members of civil society and youths to join him and members of the state executive council in a peace walk for harmony in the state following reports and recommendations submitted by probe panel into EndSARS and Lekki Toll Gate shooting saga, which some individuals have declined to participate.
The students, however, gave the assurance to participate on Thursday, when Sanwo-Olu, commissioned the newly built students’ arcade in LASU, Ojo.
The LASU students Arcade is the largest Student Union Building in any Nigerian tertiary institution.
The governor also donated two large buses to the students union as well as other gadgets and equipment for students’ use.
The President of the Student Union Government, Comrade Oladipupo Uthman Badmus, and Speaker of the Students Union Representatives, Mustapha Adejuwon, who led hundreds of students to welcome the Governor, described him as a youth-centric Governor.
They commended the Governor’s giant strides in Lagos State, especially in the education sector.
The student union president, however, announced that all students of the state-owned tertiary institutions have resolved to walk with the Governor for peace and prosperity of the state.
Emirates Airline Resumes Flight Operations To Nigeria Dec 5
Emirates airline says it will resume passenger operations between Dubai and Nigeria from December 5, 2021, mandating COVID-19 PCR tests for all inbound travellers.
With this, we understand that passengers from Nigeria will take the COVID-19 PCR test within three days before departure and another test on arrival at the UAE.
Emirates, the flag carrier of the UAE, said this in a statement on Thursday.
“The world’s largest international airline will operate to and from its Nigerian gateways with daily flights, providing travellers from Nigeria convenient access to Dubai, which remains a highly popular holiday and business destination,” the statement reads.
“It’ll also enable travellers to safely connect via Dubai to the Emirates network of over 120 global destinations.”
The statement added that Emirates will fly to Abuja with EK 785 and 786, leaving Dubai at 1100hrs, arriving in Abuja at 1540hrs. The return flight, EK 786 will take off from Abuja at 1900, arriving in Dubai at 0435hrs the next day.
The airline said travellers coming from Nigeria must hold a negative COVID-19 PCR certificate for a test taken no more than 72 hours before departure.
It added that passengers departing Nigeria must obtain the certificates from one of the designated centres provided by the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
“Travellers coming from Nigeria will also need to take another Covid-19 PCR test on arrival at Dubai International Airport,” the statement adds.
“Ensuring the safety of travellers, visitors, and the community, Covid-19 PCR tests are mandatory for all inbound passengers arriving to Dubai, including UAE citizens, residents and tourists, irrespective of the country they are coming from.”
Last Friday, the federal government lifted restrictions on Emirates flights almost ten months after the diplomatic discussions around COVID-19 travel requirements for Nigerian passengers.
Hadi Sirika, minister of aviation, said the airline had removed some of its travelling conditions for Nigerian passengers.
In February, the airline had instructed Nigerian travellers at the Lagos and Abuja airports to take another PCR test on arrival at Dubai — the directive led to a ban on Emirates flights in Nigeria.
The decision was later reversed when the airline agreed to stop the rapid antigen tests.
In a twist in March, the federal government reintroduced the ban, explaining that Emirates had continued to conduct tests for passengers before departure and at arrival in Dubai.
Omicron: Don’t Panic, COVID-19 Vaccines Still Effective, NCDC Tells Nigerians
The director-general of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, Ifedayo Adetifa, has advised Nigerians to dismiss what he described as speculations that vaccines have no effect on the new SARS-CoV2 variant which has been named Omicron.
He said vaccination remains “a very powerful tool to prevent transmission of the disease and death caused by this virus.”
Mr Adetifa, who spoke on Channel’s “Sunrise Daily” programme on Wednesday, said NCDC believes that even if the Omicron variant has any impact on vaccination, “it cannot be equal to full abrogation”.
“So theoretically speaking, if the vaccine was 90 per cent protective against severe disease and deaths from the Delta variant, it may become 80 per cent protective from the Omicron variant. So while we work out what kind of impact it will have on vaccine protective effect, the point remains that vaccines are effective, safe and they confer protection,” Mr Adetifa said.
According to the director-general, the centre, like other scientists across the world, does not know how dangerous the variant is, noting that investigations are still ongoing.
He said; “There are mutations that have been seen in the spike proteins that theoretically may confirm the risk of increased transmissibility, may cause more severe disease or reduced protections from existing vaccines but the reality is that we don’t know.
“What we know is that the cases currently affected by this variant have been mostly asymptomatic, they have been mostly young, and there have been no deaths. So we are still watching, we need more time to see what happens when it affects slightly different pockets of the population like the susceptible or the elderly. But for now, we don’t know much.
“What we know is that current public health safety measures and vaccination confer protection. It might not be 100 per cent but the protection they offer is useful and beneficial and people should adhere to those measures and make use of every opportunity that is currently provided especially in Nigeria to receive their vaccines..”
Mr Adetifa warned Nigerians of the possible emergence of a more dangerous variant and advised them to remain cautious by observing all non-pharmaceutical measures to ward off the danger.
He said the consequences may be bad if they throw caution to the wind.
He said the emergence of the Omicron variant is a reminder that the battle is not over, that there is still a risk.
Mr Adetifa added; “The fact that we thankfully have not seen many severe cases and deaths does not mean that we are not getting infections and does not mean that the virus has not been transmitted. What happens is that if we have unmitigated transmission of the virus within the population, you will always have a chance that a variant that may be more dangerous than the predecessor or even change the pattern of disease for us, may emerge.
“This is why we are calling on people to return and adhere to safety measures that are in place. And of course, vaccination, which is very important.”
The NCDC boss also explained that there is nothing strange about the mutation of the Omicron variant, saying all viruses mutate.
“Viruses mutate at different frequencies depending on what type of virus it is. What is new is the pathogen SARS-CoV2 which we call RNA virus. Most RNA viruses have frequent mutations. It means that in the cause of multiplying, their errors are made in every circle in their genetic code.
“While humans and some other viruses have corrective mechanisms, a lot of viruses especially the RNA virus do not have corrective mechanisms. So errors are carried on to the next generation but just a few are able to survive and go ahead to cause diseases,” Mr Adetifa said.
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