The Federal Government says it is yet to take delivery of any of the 12 A-29 Super Tucano Attack Aircraft, being manufactured by an American aerospace contractor, Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC).
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed disclosed this in Abuja on Thursday at the launch of the National Campaign in Support of the Military.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports the Federal Government in February, 2018 placed an order for the 12 Super Tucano aircraft at a cost of $496million.
Responding to questions from newsmen at the launch, Mohammed said earlier delivery of the aircraft would boost the war against insurgency, which had metamorphosed from a rash-tag home grown Boko Haram group to a world teste terrorist network.
Mohammed, who solicited the support and prayers of all Nigerians for the troops fighting insurgency, added that Nigeria was still getting the backing of other countries through the Multinational Joint Task Force.
Mohammed said the launch of the National Campaign in Support of the Military was to seek the support of the citizens for the troops.
He admonished Nigerians to stop vilification, insults and other acts capable of of dampening the morale of the military, especially those fighting insurgency.
The minister stressed that the men and women in uniform who were risking all, including making the supreme sacrifice, to keep the country safe deserved the support and prayers of all Nigerians, not vilification.
“Doctored videos and pictures purporting to show massive military casualties are willfully circulated online.
“Such unpatriotic acts are discouraging and demoralizing our troops, and must stop forthwith,” he said.
The minister also solicited the support of the media to play the leading role in the campaign.
“We want to appeal to the media to show utmost professionalism in reporting the insurgency.
“They must seek official clarification before reporting casualty figures, and must realise that the military will not release the identities of soldiers who have paid the ultimate price without first notifying their families.
“They must also not reveal national security as well as military plans, since such acts can put our troops in harm’s way,” he said.
Speaking in the same vein, Brig.-Gen. John Agim, Director, Defence Information expressed delight over the launch, adding that the time to stand in support of the military was long overdue.
He noted that the responsible journalism was needed more than ever, owing to the fact that publicity fuels terrorism.
To buttress his claim, Agim recalled an incidence in 2016 when 18 of the most wanted Book Haram members escaped into Lagos metropolis and the military had to keep the news a top secret.
He noted that if such scoop had leaked out to any journalist, it would be unpatriotic and irresponsible to publish the news because of the trauma it would have caused among Lagos residents.
The Defence spokesperson also recalled when a journalist called him for confirmation of a purported story that the military was short of and rationing ammunition in the North-East.
He said if the fake news was even to be real, it fell into the categories of stories that ought not to be published by responsible journalists because of its tendency to make people unsecured and lose hope.
Agim appealed to the media to avoid publishing stories that would break the spirit of the fighting force, promote cowardice and cause panic among citizens.
The event was attended by Brig.-Gen. Sani Usman, Director, Army Public Relations, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, Director Public Relations and Information, Nigerian Airforce and Commodore Suleiman Dahum, Director Information, Nigerian Navy
Falana, Jukuns Raise Alarm Over Unreported Killings in Taraba
The Jukuns in Taraba State yesterday raised alarm over a series of killings by gunmen and suspected kidnappers in the southern part of the state within the last few weeks.
Activist lawyer Femi Falana (SAN) and the Junkun Development Association of Nigeria, at a news conference at the Falana and Falana law firm, Adekunle Fajuyi Way, GRA, Ikeja, expressed concern over the killings – many of which they lamented “go unreported”.
The association’s National President, Bako Benjamin, said no fewer than 148 Junkuns abducted from their houses in the last few weeks are still being held in captivity by gunmen.
He said there are other victims, who are Yoruba, Igbo, and other tribes, adding that the association could not give their names because they did not have them.
Benjamin said the situation in Takun communities in southern Taraba State is worse than what is happening in Zamfara State.
“In the past, people get removed from their cars, if you are traveling in a flashy car on the roads and they take to the bush. But today, because people have avoided the roads, they go to houses and removed people from their houses and demanded ransom and sometimes, even after ransom is paid, they still kill them.
“As we speak, one Alhaji Mayo, who runs some filling stations in Takun, he was removed from his house, taken to the bush and they used his phones to call his family and demanded N200 million. They negotiated and after selling a lot of his property, they managed to raise N105 million, which they collected.
“As if that was not enough, they told the wife to drive all the man’s cars to a location. They took all the cars and drove them away. Just yesterday (Saturday), the younger brother called and said they have been impoverished. The man is still with them in the bush in captivity.
“A hotelier, Ahmadu Emmanuel, they wanted to abduct him from his house. He resisted, he was shot dead in cold blood. That was two weeks ago.
“One Sule Audu, a medical doctor, they abducted him too from Takun. They asked for N10 million. After they mobilized and tried and sourced the money and delivered, they switched off their phones. Another group used another phone to call the family and said, ‘where is the money?’. They said ‘we’ve given you the money’ and they said they must have given it to another group. Look, your man is with us, better go and look for another N10 million to secure his release. The daughter, who is also a doctor, just collapsed and she is still in a coma as we speak.”
He listed other people abducted by from their homes as including one lawyer, Yagura Lena, who still being held after a ransom was paid; one Joy Ubadene, who is still in captivity and a member of the state assembly, Osia Aiyegbe, who was killed after a ransom was paid.
“We are in deep trouble, far worse from what is happening in Zamfara. Our people no longer travel home and those at home have started leaving to join their families in Lagos. Except something is done urgently, the Jukun communities in Taraba would become extinct,” he said.
Benjamin said commercial activities have grounded to a halt throughout Taraba.
Benjamin and Falana urged state governors, together with the president, to take charge of the situation by setting up appropriate policing agencies.
He lamented that state governors have abdicated their responsibility to the President, adding that is why the impression is being given as if what the country has is a federal police force.
Falana said the 1999 Constitution (as amended) envisaged that police powers shall be managed by the president and the governors.
“Between 2003 and now, the National Assembly has established the Civil Defence Corps with powers to bear arms. In addition, the Prison Service, Customs, Immigration, and others are also allowed to bear arms whereas Section 214 of the Constitution says, there shall be only one police force in Nigeria.
“So if the Federal Government sets up forces and other agencies that can bear arms, why are state governors shying away?” he asked.
He noted that the President once expressed the fear that a state that cannot pay salaries cannot be allowed to arm young men and women.
He contended that if the security of the country must be ensured, the salaries and allowances of security personnel for every state should be deducted from the source so that the question of not being paid would not arise.
Many Feared Killed, Houses Torched In Fresh Taraba Violence
Many people have been feared killed and others injured in a fresh violence between Jukun and Tiv tribes in Wukari, South of Taraba State.
Several houses were reportedly burnt in the clashes which began last weekend.
Meanwhile, the state Governor, Mr Darius Ishaku has condemned the violence which he attributed to incessant conflict between Jukun and Tiv people in Taraba and Benue states.
According to a statement by the media aide to the governor, the latest occurred in Kente, a border community in Taraba state, resulting from a minor conflict between both ethnic groups.
The governor urged residents of the affected border communities to live together in peace and harmony as frequent conflicts only lead to disruption of economic activities and aggravate poverty and hunger.
Although, the state Police command is yet to comment on the latest communal clash in Taraba state.
But a Jukun community leader, Bako Benjamin, said despite the peace accord reached last week between the two warring communities, “Tiv ethnic militias have continued to launch pockets of attacks on our communities.”
Air Strikes Killing Innocent Villagers, Say Zamfara Emirs, Berates Minister
Zamfara Council of Chiefs on Thursday said many innocent villagers had been killed in misdirected air strikes by the military in the ongoing fight against bandits in the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria reported that the Emir of Bungudu, Alhaji Hassan Attahiru made the disclosure at the end of an emergency meeting of the council, on Thursday in Gusau, the state capital.
He said, “The council noted that airstrikes undertaken by the military did not hit the main camps of the bandits.
“Reports from Mutu in the Gusau and Tsafe Local Government Area, Tangaram in the Anka LGA and Dumburum in the Zurmi LGA, among others, indicated that the areas shelled were not the actual hideouts of the bandits and the victims were innocent civilians.”
The council said efforts to end banditry in the state would only be achieved “if the main camps of the bandits are taken over and security personnel stationed there for a considerable period of time.
“This will deprive the bandits territory, mobility and supply routes, thus securing all surrounding areas.”
On the recent allegation of connivance with bandits by some traditional rulers made by Defence Minister, Mansur Dan’Ali, the council challenged the minister to immediately name the traditional rulers or withdraw the statement.
“Failure to do this will make his statement false and an attempt to tarnish the image of the traditional rulers and thereby making them scapegoats for the inability of the military and other security forces to end the scourge.”
The council said the traditional rulers had always cooperated with government and security agencies in providing information on location, routes and names of persons engaged in such criminal activities.
“Unfortunately, the military and other security agencies have failed to be on top of the situation.
“We will not shield anyone and we will want any suspect however highly placed to be arrested and prosecuted, ” the council said.
NAN reports that the meeting, chaired by council Chairman and Emir of Anka, Alhaji Ahmad Muhammad, was attended by all the emirs in the state.
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