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Fresh Benue attack: Death toll rises to 24, mass burial holds Friday

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Twenty four persons, mostly women and children, were on Monday killed in a fresh crisis at Omusu Edimoga in the Okpokwu Local Government Area of Benue State.

The council Chairman, Olofu Ogwuche, stated this while conducting the state Governor, Samuel Ortom, round the affected community on Tuesday.

The governor and members of state security council had visited the community for on-the-spot assessment of the situation.

Ogwuche explained that some herdsmen had reported to the police, the loss of their cows some kilometres away from the affected village.

Ogwuche said he had already called a peace meeting when report got to him that the herdsmen had invaded the village and killed people.

The herdsmen were said to have invaded the community between 2pm and 3pm; some of the children killed were said to be returning from school.

In a two-room building, eight persons were said to have been murdered during the attack.

The remains of an 11-year-old girl in her school uniform were discovered by police at the time the governor visited the area.

The chairman said, “On Monday, policemen informed me that some herdsmen reported that the people of Omusu Edimoga rustled their cows.

“When I heard of this, I started a mediation process to settle the matter. It was while this was going on that I received information that herdsmen had invaded the community.

“I rushed down to the community along with policemen and we were able to recover 17 corpses which we took to the mortuary at the Okpoga General Hospital.

“This morning (Tuesday), we had recovered the remains of six persons that have been taken to the mortuary. As we were moving around, the corpse of an 11-year-old girl was recovered. So, in all, 24 persons have been confirmed dead, while some are still missing.”

At St Mary’s Catholic Hospital, Okpoga, a little boy, identified as Loko, who was shot in the buttocks and who also lost his mother to the attack, burst into tears when he sighted the governor’s entourage in the ward.

Ortom, who condemned the attack, accused the Fulani of always taking the law into their own hands.

“They reported a case of cattle rustling, and instead of waiting for the outcome of the police investigation, they went to the community and killed 24 people in a day, it is senseless.

“The people in this community do not understand cow language, so no one here rustles their cow. It is Fulani men that are rustling their fellow Fulani men’s cows.

“We cannot continue with these senseless killings, that is why we came out with the law which is aimed to protect everyone.

“When Sharia law was introduced in Zamfara State, no one violated the law; let security men do their job and arrest the perpetrators.”

The governor, however, called on the people not to take the law into their own hands.

Earlier, the Benue State Police Command spokesman, ASP Moses Yamu, had said 16, persons were killed.

He said the herdsmen were on reprisal after the people of Omusu “maimed their cows, while two herdsmen got missing, and one of them was later found dead.”

The Cable later reported that Ortom had ordered that the victims of the latest attack be buried on Friday

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BREAKING: Pinnacle Floors ICPC In Court

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Federal High Court Judge Nnamdi Dimgba has ordered ICPC to unfreeze the account of Pinnacle Communications Limited and counselled anti-corruption agencies of government against taking drastic action that could prevent private enterprises from flourishing prior to concluding investigations to justify such action.

Delivering his ruling in the case instituted against ICPC for instructing Zenith Bank to freeze it’s account Friday, the judge maintained that the anti-corruption war was as beneficial to the society as flourishing private enterprises pointing out that scuttling the operations of major private organizations like Pinnacle Communications Limited also sends negative signals to the international community about Nigeria’s business environment.

Justice Dimgba described ICPC’s action against Pinnacle Communications Limited as “an overkill just like using a sledgehammer to kill a fly” considering that even after six months since the case was instituted and despite lèeway provided by many adjournments by the court, ICPC could not file any charges against the company, emphasizing that it should not have frozen the account without establishing a prima facie against it. The judge remarked that anti-corruption agencies should not base their actions on rumours or “beer parlour stories” but on thorough investigations that could sustain judicial scrutiny.

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Senate Approves $1bn Completion Fund For Ajaokuta

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The Senate on Thursday passed a bill seeking to approve the release of the sum of $1 billion from the Federal Government share of Excess Crude revenue for the immediate completion of the Ajaokuta Steel Company.

The lawmakers stated through the motion that all monies that may from time to time be appropriated and authorized by any tier of government should be part of the funding for the completion of the company.

The Senate also added that all loans or grants from time to time made to the country for the purpose of completing the Ajaokuta Steel Company should be ploughed in the completion purse.

The bill titled: “Ajaokuta Steel Company Completion Fund Bill, 2018” is in concurrence to the earlier one passed in the House of Representatives on March 28, 2018.

Senate Leader, Senator Ahmed Lawan representing Yobe North had presented the bill for concurrence to the Senate which handled the bill at a Committee of the Whole.

The lawmakers clarified that there was the need for the Federal Government to complete the plant as against the then plan to concession it.

According to the proposed law, all fund shall be applied by the minister subject to appropriation by the National Assembly only for the purpose of ‘’the construction, improvement, extension, enlargement and replacement of infrastructure and works, including the provision, acquisition, improvement and replacement of other capital assets required in respect of or in connection with the completion of the Ajaokuta Steel Company project.

‘’The acquisition of land and of any right or interest in or over land and in respect of the use of any invention.

‘’The carrying on of any survey, research or investigation preparatory to the undertaking of any such purpose as is referred to in paragraph (a) and (b) or the formation of any plan or scheme for the development, improvement, of Ajaokuta Steel Company project.’’

Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who presided, said that the bill if signed into law, would go a long way to facilitate the quick completion of the Ajaokuta Steel complex.

The Senate also adopted the Presidential Programme on Rehabilitation and Reintegration (establishment and implementation) Bill 2018.

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Governors Meet Over Minimum Wage Again

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Governors of the states of the federation have yet again met in Abuja on Thursday night to continue their deliberation over the new national minimum wage which they have yet to reach an agreement on.

The states had offered to pay N22,500 while the federal government wants to pay N24,000 against the N30,000 being demanded by the organized labour.

The meeting presided over by the chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara state at its National Secretariat in Abuja, did not appear to make much progress as Yari said there was nothing new to report.

Many state governors did not show up for the meeting that was a prelude to the National Economic Council (NEC) scheduled to hold on Friday.

In rejecting the N24,000 proposed by the federal government, the NGF had in their last meeting, set up a committee to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari to canvass its position.

It was not clear whether the committee was able to convince the president to back the NGF’s position on the minimum wage.

The NEC meeting to be presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo will however focus on the Human Capital Development Programme of the present administration hinged on “investment in our people.”

The meeting is being convened in line with the administration’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) for inclusive growth human development nationwide.

Expected at the extended session are all NEC members including state governors and Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

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