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IMN: Group blows hot over NASS invasion, alleges plot to overthrow Buhari government

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The National Democratic Forum, NDF, has in strong terms condemned the invasion of the National Assembly by members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, IMN, otherwise known as Shiites, on Tuesday.

NDF described the attack on security agencies as an attempt to overthrow an arm of government.

DAILY POST reported that some protesting Shiites members agitating against the continuous incarceration of their leader, Sheik Al-Zakyazky on Tuesday clashed with the security agencies, resulting in the death of some persons and burning of vehicles.

The protesters, who were in large numbers, were heading towards the National Assembly at about 1.15pm but were intercepted by the military personnel already waiting at the gate.

Reacting to the development, NDF wondered why the authorities have continued to threat the issue of the IMN with kids’ gloves.

Addressing a press conference on Tuesday in Abuja, shortly after the bloody clash, Dr Abdulakdir Bolaji, Secretary General of NDF, called on the authorities to immediately expel all known IMN members from Abuja.

The group also demanded that all those arrested in connection with the attack on National Assembly must be arraigned for treason and attempt to overthrow the government.

The statement reads in full:

Tuesday July 9, 2019 was the day members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) terrorised the very symbol of our democracy by launching coordinated attacks on the National Assembly. At the end of the attacks, the IMN members had snatched weapons from the security personnel on duty with which they shot two policemen and an officer of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC). At least three cars were destroyed while a security post was also vandalized. We are in the process of verifying if anyone died in the attack as reported by some media organizations.

For the duration of the attacks, Nigerians in the National Assembly Complex were terrorised on a scale comparable to last year’s terror attack on the Inter-Continental Hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan; the attacks carried out by Lashkar-e-Taiba, an Islamic terrorist organisation based in Pakistan on Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Mumbai –India in 2018; and the terror attack of two months ago on Pearl Continental Hotel, Gwadar – Pakistan. The attacks on the National Assembly bear a frightening similarity to these other coordinated terror attacks because of the sheer helplessness that the occupants of these buildings experience for the duration of the barbarity.

Even at height of their madness, Boko Haram never sent their terrorists to attack the National Assembly because they know the implication of such. They are aware that attacking the National Assembly is to add the crime of treason to whatever other criminality they may already be guilty of. The rap sheet for IMN is therefore growing longer with illegal arms possession, operating as an outlawed group, acquiring military training in violation of the constitution, murder, attempted murder and now treason with attempt to overthrow Nigeria’s democracy.

Permit us to mention that we know the Nigerian state is not helpless as some people will think. Without prejudice to whatever investigations will unveil, we believe that the snatching of the weapons from the security operatives was possible because of the directive that security agencies should exercise restraint in the face of IMN extremists. This approach to dealing with the threat posed by the outlawed group has proven to be a wrong call, one that must be immediately jettisoned by the state.

The National Assembly is the highest symbol of Nigeria’s democracy. Whilst IMN was once seen as the problem of Zaria, Kaduna State and Abuja, the Federal Capital territory, by attacking the National Assembly, they have made themselves the problem of all Nigerians because each and every one of us has a representative in the national parliament. The attack is therefore an attack on every state of Nigeria, on every citizen and on everything we stand for as a nation. The action of the IMN is therefore a visitation of terror on the Nigerian state. It is an attack targeted at overthrowing the government by destroying the strongest institution in our democracy.

We will like to point out that we had joined other Nigerians in the past to express reservations about the presence of IMN extremists in the nation’s capital. They hide under the pretext that they are demanding for the release of their leader, Mr Ibraheem ElZakyzaky, who is standing trial before a competent court. Unfortunately, possibly because of the fear of international backlash, the government allowed these extremists to continue to infiltrate the nation’s capital without evicting them.

The concerns we had expressed about the group in the past were because of their violent activities and attacks against state institutions and unwarranted clashes with security operatives. We must not lose sight of the fact that in their bid to acquire more weapons, the IMN fighters attempted to hijack a military convoy that was conveying weapons along the Zuba-Kaduna Expressway, a development that they used to bring the City under siege.

The situation is dire to the point where even residents of Abuja had expressed concerns about the activities of this outlawed group owing to the threat they pose to other Nigerians. This threat is in addition to their menacing protests that they use to deny other people unhindered use of the roads and causing traffic congestion.

Our demand to the Federal Government, in the light of Tuesday’s desecration, is unequivocal. A strong and clear message must be sent to the Islamic Movement in Nigeria in a way that it reverberates even with their sponsor, the Islamic Republic of Iran, which has recently been issuing propaganda to support these terrorists. The message must make it known that no theocratic entity will be allowed to overthrow Nigeria’s democracy, directly or through proxies like IMN.

We, therefore, demand that the Federal Government immediately expel all known IMN members from Abuja while law enforcement agencies are mandated to dismantle all known cells of the group, in the nation’s capital and across the country.

A further demand is that all those arrested in the attack on National Assembly must be arraigned for treason and attempt to overthrow the government. In this case, the government must not cave in to the blackmail of pro-IMN countries and organizations that will wrongly accuse it of rights abuse.

The government must also rise up to the occasion and formally designate IMN as a terrorist group in line with existing anti-terrorism legislation. Had the Federal Government towed the line of the Kaduna state government that outlawed this terrorist group perhaps the country would have been saved from the harrowing experience of having the parliament come under attack.

It is our earnest hope that the government will not allow things to degenerate to the point where Nigerians are compelled to resort to self-help against IMN extremists as the situation is fast approaching the one of “kill or be killed”. Nigerians will not watch docilely while terrorists overrun their capital and attack their representatives. We expect to see actions on the part of the government in the days ahead as a way of reassuring us that terrorists will not be allowed to truncate our democracy.

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Boko Haram Kills Aid Worker In Borno, Three Others Missing

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Boko Haram militants have killed a member of the Action Against Hunger, Grace Taku, as well as a driver while three health workers are missing.

The incident happened when a convoy of the aid agency was heading to Damasak in Borno State.

The attack is coming a day after an army commander, colonel and some soldiers were ambushed in Yobe State by Boko Haram terrorists.

A statement by Action Against Hunger reads, “One of the drivers was killed, while one Action Against Hunger staff member, two of the drivers and three health workers are missing.

“We are deeply saddened by this tragic incident as these are colleagues dedicated to providing life-saving assistance to individuals and families affected by the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the northeast of Nigeria. We are very concerned and want to ensure that they are safe and can be reunited with their families.

“Action Against Hunger strives to ensure that millions of people in need of humanitarian assistance in northeast Nigeria receive the essential services required for their survival, especially women and children.”

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Probe Soldiers’ Stealing Of Millions Of Naira, Reveal Identity Of Moneybag, Say HEDA, CISLAC

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Nigeria’s federal lawmakers in the Senate and House of Representatives have been called upon to probe the recent stealing of hundreds of millions of naira by some soldiers detailed to escort a top government official.

Reports earlier in the week said the soldiers were detailed on July 11 to escort a bullion van backed with a convoy of Toyota Hilux and a Buffalo gun truck from Sokoto to Jaji.

The soldiers, after they escorted the cash to Jaji airstrip were said to have refused to load the money into a waiting jet.

In a joint statement on Friday, Human and Environmental Development Agenda, (HEDA) and Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre/Transparency International, Nigeria (CISLAC) said Nigerians needed full disclosure on the scandal saying it was a national embarrassment.

The group noted that it was unfortunate that the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Yusuf Buratai, had refused to speak on the embarrassing development.

The two organizations said the “stealing of the money by soldiers” who should represent a qualitative moral fabric of the country raised serious questions about Nigeria’s commitment to the fight against corruption.

“We call on the National Assembly to probe this incident. The House Committee on Defence needs to provide the necessary clue. There is no doubt that the action of these soldiers will have a serious impact on the campaign against terrorism. The Senate should get to the root of this matter before it is too late. If nothing is done, other soldiers on the frontline may be encouraged to embark of stealing of national assets,” Olanrewaju Suraju and Anwalu Rafsanjani stated.

The groups said the Senate should unravel the owner of the money to either confirm or deny speculations that the funds belonged to Major General Hakeem Otiki, the General Officer Commanding, 8th Division of the Nigerian Army in Sokoto.

HEDA and CISLAC said that security operatives should be the best examples in any country’s campaign against corruption, adding that the theft indicated that the soldiers have no iota of discipline and respect for the President Muhammadu Buhari.

The groups said, “They dared the consequences of crime probably because they knew it was a trend in the armed forces. There is a major problem if security operatives have no respect for the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed forces”.

A few days ago, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) handed over to Voice of Nigeria a property belonging to a former military chief to the government by a court.

The groups stated further: “We call on the National Assembly to treat this issue as a top priority. Who are these soldiers? How much was the money involved? Who owns the money? Is the money owned by an individual or by the country? Is the money the proceeds of crime? There are many questions waiting to be answered.”

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Okorocha warns Ihedioha over N100bn claim, tells Governor best thing to do

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The immediate past Governor of Imo State, Senator Rochas Okorocha, has warned the State Governor, Emeka Ihedioha, against making allegations that he (Ihedioha) is not willing to defend.

Okorocha challenged Ihedioha to publish the details of the N100billion debt for public consumption, adding that the governor is taking Imo people and Nigerians for granted.

In a statement by Sam Onwuemeodo, his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Okorocha said, “With regard to the governor’s latest claim of N100billion debt, we also want to challenge him to publish the details.

“He should publish the details of the N100billion debt for public consumption. If he could spend billions to launch media attacks and sponsor protests against Okorocha and to discredit his projects, what would it cost to publish details of his N100billion debt claim.

“How can a governor be making claims or allegations he is always not willing to make the details public. And the person telling him to publish the details has always been the man he accused.

“The speed with which Governor Emeka Ihedioha makes certain claims and dishes out figures about the last administration which Senator Rochas Okorocha headed, without taking steps to prove any of the allegations or authenticate any of the Claims when challenged, means he is taking Nigerians and Imo people in particular, for granted.”

Recall that while addressing Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, chieftains in Owerri on Thursday, Governor Ihedioha had accused his predecessor, Senator Okorocha, of incurring N100billion debt “without anything to show for what the monies were used for”.

The Governor had earlier before now, or soon after his inauguration, said that the debt profile of the State attracted by Okorocha was N300billion.

Okorocha’s statement added, “His Chief of Staff said it was N275billion. This is worrisome. The governor should not be dishing out figures as if governance has become a child’s play.

“The disturbing aspect of the whole thing is that when they make these bogus Claims or allegations and you challenge them to show proofs they would recoil.

“With regard to the governor’s latest claim of N100billion debt, we also want to challenge him to publish the details.

“He should publish the details of the N100billion debt for public consumption. If he could spend billions to launch media attacks and sponsor protests against Okorocha and to discredit his projects, what would it cost to publish details of his N100billion debt claim.

“How can a governor be making claims or allegations he is always not willing to make the details public. And the person telling him to publish the details has always been the man he accused.

“The truth of the matter is that the governor knows how INEC declared him winner of the March 9, 2019 governorship election in the State. And the major Candidates are at the tribunal to ensure the correction of that anomaly. And people believe that he is doing all these in preparation for a possible re-run.

“We also want to ask the governor to avoid making unbelievable claims. To say that Okorocha achieved nothing would be seen by all and sundry as too cheap.

“And he has been visiting Okorocha’s projects and finding faults with some of them just to discredit the projects. In case he does not know, Imo people know that what Okorocha achieved as governor in eight years exceeded all that those before him achieved put together.

“He should leave Okorocha and the family alone and face governance. At the event, he announced that he has set up a panel to probe Okorocha and at the same time, released the figure of N100b debt. And what if the probe panel comes up with another figure. Governance is a serious business and should be seen as such.”

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