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Miyetti Allah sect threatens to arrest Ortom when he leaves office over his anti-Fulani comments

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Herders under the Miyetti Allah Kauta Hore have threatened to arrest Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State when his tenure ends on May 28, 2023.

The national secretary of the Miyetti Allah Kauta Hore, Saleh Alhassan, in an interview with Leadership, said his vigilantes will arrest Ortom and hand him over to the Nigeria Police to be prosecuted like a common criminal.  

Ortom had been at the forefront of the fight against killer herdsmen in Benue State, claiming that they had been killing his people in order to take over their ancestral lands.

However, Alhassan described Ortom as the real bandit, accusing him of keeping malice against the group because they sued him over the controversial anti-grazing law he enacted in Benue.

“These people know what they are doing. They are just there to steal money, especially Governor Ortom. He is there to steal the money of Benue State. And we are waiting for him. Immediately he leaves power, if Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) does not arrest him, our vigilantes will arrest him and hand him over to the Nigeria Police to be prosecuted like a common criminal. It’s just a matter of time. He will certainly join Dariye and Co. because he has eaten security votes in billions and he has masterminded the killing of innocent people in Benue State and has lied to the entire world,” Alhassan said.

He also noted that the group will not recognise the Southern governors’ anti-grazing deadline, describing it as satanic. 

He said said the planned policy had been overtaken by events, declaring the group’s support for Nigerian government’s plan to revive grazing reserves, grazing routes and facilitate ranching in all the states.

“We don’t recognise anti-grazing law. Nobody can do anti-grazing policy in Nigeria where we are constitutionally guaranteed the right of movement and occupation,” Alhassan said, referring to the September 1 deadline set up by the Southern governors to ban the open grazing policy.

“I think that (open grazing) has been overtaken by events where the federal government is reviving the grazing reserves and grazing routes. Ranches are coming up across the states. Any policy that will heat up the polity, I don’t think is desirable for the country now.

“I think they are just beating a dead horse. After all, how many grazing reserves do we have in Southern Nigeria. Ninety per cent of the cows we have in Southern Nigeria are meant for business. They are not there for grazing. The cattle are taken there for two or three weeks before they take them to the market. We don’t even understand what they mean by anti-open grazing,” Alhassan said.

He added: “That thing is Satanic. That kind of policy is Satanic. Anything of Satan cannot prevail over light. They will fail.”

Alhassan threatened the governors over their 2023 political plans of a power shift to the South, declaring they would not get their wish.

“The power that they are looking for, they will not get. We have reported them to almighty Allah to create confusion in the camp of the enemy. And confusion will be their lot. Where is Sunday Igboho? Where is Nnamdi Kanu today? They are all in jail. The God of the pastoralists is protecting them like the God of Elijah that speaks with fire; he has fired all of them.

“They can’t win. They are losers. It is a negative policy. We are supporting the federal government now to revive the grazing reserves, to revive the grazing routes, do ranches, settle the herders over time. Is that what they don’t want? Then they are the real bandits. If you are looking for a real bandit, it is Governor (Samuel) Ortom (of Benue State). He is the real bandit. And he thinks he can fight the Fulani ethnic nationality. He does not know that we are not only in Nigeria. We are an African tribe.

“We are in charge of the United Nations. The pioneer secretary of the African Union is a Fulani herder. What is Ortom talking about? They better play politics that can unite this country. All these things they are saying, they can’t do anything as far as Nigeria is concerned.

“We are in our country, we are not going anywhere. We will not be intimidated by anybody and we are peace-loving. It’s their own cup of tea. After all, they are the consumers of the cows,” Alhassan said, adding that the plans of the governors had failed.

“Their plans have already failed. See Sunday Igboho there; he is languishing in Beninoise prison. See Nnamdi Kanu who was captured in Kenya. Forget about them. They are the ones sponsoring all these killings. It is the handiwork of Biafra. They want to set the country on fire.”

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140 Days after, Nigeria loses N3bn on suspended Kaduna-Abuja train service

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The federal government has lost over N3 billion in revenue since it suspended Abuja-Kaduna train services in March, this year.

Besides, the businesses of hundreds of people who earn livelihood around the railway corridor have collapsed.

The stoppage of the service followed the March 28 attack on Kaduna-bound train which was bombed after explosives planted on the rail track by terrorists went off between the Dutse and Kakau areas of Kaduna State.

The train, which took off from the Idu Train Station in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) hit the explosives about 30 minutes from the Rigasa Train Station in Kaduna.

About 970 passengers were on board the train, out of which the terrorists killed some and abducted over 60 others.

Subsequently, the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) announced the indefinite suspension of train service on the Abuja-Kaduna railway line.

Although a number of the passengers have been released after unspecified amounts were paid as ransom, some of them are still languishing in the kidnappers’ den.

Meanwhile, NRC recently reiterated that until all the passengers currently in the custody of the terrorists were released to their families, the Abuja-Kaduna train service would not resume.

N3.024bn ticket revenue lost so far

Checks have shown that for the past 140 days since the train service was suspended, NRC has lost about N3.024bn revenue, which could have been raked from ticket sales.

The coaches, which ply the Abuja-Kaduna rail line have the capacity to carry between 900 and 1,000 passengers per trip.

About eight trips were also recorded daily between Rigasa in Kaduna and Idu in Abuja.

An average economy ticket before the suspension sold between N2, 800 and N3,000 while VIP tickets sold for N6,000.

A breakdown of daily ticket sales shows that the NRC makes a minimum of N2.7m per trip at N3,000 a ticket for a train that has the capacity to carry 900 to 1,000 passengers.

Consequently, for the eight trips that the Abuja-Kaduna train does in a day, a total of about N21.6m is realised. Subsequently, this amounts to about N151.1m in seven days (one week).

As such, for the over four months that train services have been suspended, the federal government has lost nothing less than N600m monthly.

Some other services tied to the train services that have been crippled include shop owners at the train stations, especially Idu, Kubwa and Rigasa.

Some of these small businesses, which are unable to move to other locations outside of the train stations have sacked their staff.

“I closed my shop a day after the train was attacked,” said Halima Abubakar, a restaurateur at the Idu train station in Abuja.

“Everything has stopped…I asked my staff to go because I am unable to find another place,” she said.

The booming taxi services and pool buses have also been crippled.

Ambrose Alex, a taxi driver at the Idu station called on the government to do the needful.

“We have all been displaced with the closure of the train service. I took a loan to buy my car and was operating from the station. Things are really tough now because some of us are only doing town service instead of shuttle service, which brings more money,” he said.

It was learnt that the NRC is also losing out on rental fees as these businesses will have to be either refunded or be allocated the exact months they have lost since the facility was shut down.

Another significant loss is to the ticketing firm, SevureID Solutions, which got the concession at N900m to operate for 10 years.

Because they are no longer earning on the train service, they may be forced to lay off their staff. They may also have to renegotiate the terms of the deal.

Commenting, Dr Frank Ojiadi, a faculty member at Lagos Business School, and an expert in transportation and logistics, said the continued shutdown of the train service was not only a loss to the government but to citizens who had built an economy around the train corridor.

He said while the risks associated with aviation were there, different from rail transportation, it is unlikely the aviation industry would be shut down for “This long in an event of a terror attack because of many factors.”

He said with the robust insurance packages in aviation and the critical nature of aviation to a country’s economy, the airport won’t remain shut down in perpetuity because of a terror attack.

He advised NRC to ensure its trains across the country are insured.

He explained further that the impacts of the sustained shutdown of the rail service were not economic and social.

On the economic impact, he said the government would lose huge revenues as NRC suffered downtime since no train was running that route. He also said the facilities (tracks and trains) might deteriorate with non-usage.

He noted that “The equipment not being utilised might lead to depreciation. Also, the roads will be pressured more with more usage. The train took so many vehicles off the road.”

He added that more people would be exposed to attacks by terrorists and bandits on the Abuja-Kaduna highway.

On the social impact, he said the train had opened up business activities in the corridor by the locals, especially around the train stations.

He advised that even when the train resumed, it must not run at night as the risks were higher then.

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Priest, seminarian abducted near military checkpoint, N50m demanded

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Gunmen have kidnapped the Deputy Registrar of Spiritan University, Nneochi, Fr Chinedu Nwadike.

Nwadike, a Catholic priest, was kidnapped on Friday on the Enugu-Okigwe Road.

The priest was abducted alongside a seminarian, Emmanuel Nwafor.

It was gathered on Sunday that their abductors had established contact with their relations and demanded a ransom of N50m.

A family source said, “Rev. Fr. Dr. Chinedu Nwadike from Umuezeanoruo Eziama, Nkwerre LGA, Imo State, and a young seminarian, Emmanuel Nwafor, were on Friday kidnapped on their way to Enugu State, Umunnochi axis, along Enugu-Okigwe Road.

“Both are members of the Holy Ghost congregation missionaries, living their lives of sacrifice and selflessness in service to a better society.”

Another source said it was the second time the priest would be attacked by kidnappers.

“In the first attempt, they shot directly at him but he managed to escape. This time, they succeeded and are said to be demanding a ransom of N50m. Curiously, a military checkpoint is around the place,” the source added.

The priest’s younger brother, Chikezie, said the family was praying for the safe return of his younger brother and the seminarian.

The Director, Catholic Communication, Enugu Catholic Diocese, Very Rev. Fr. Benjamin Achi, confirmed the incident.

Although he did not provide details, he simply said, “Yes, father was kidnapped.”

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Monkeypox spreads to 27 states, cases hit 172

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The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control has confirmed the number of monkeypox cases has risen to 172 in the country.

The centre’s Week 31 reports indicated the spread has reached 27 states since January.

From January 1 to August 7, 2022, NCDC said four deaths were recorded from four states – Delta (1), Lagos (1), Ondo (1), and Akwa Ibom (1).

The report also showed that there were at least 473 suspected cases of the disease in the country.

The report read in part, “60 new suspected cases were reported in Epi Week 31, 2022 (August 1-7, 2022) from 19 states.

“Of the 60 suspected cases, 15 new confirmed cases have been recorded in Epi Week 31 from 10 states – Imo (3), FCT (2), Ondo (2), Rivers (2), Abia (1), Anambra (1), Ebonyi (1), Edo (1), Ogun (1), and Nasarawa (1).

“From  January 1 to August 7, 2022, there have now been 473 suspected cases with 172 confirmed cases (115 male, 57 female) from 27 states – Lagos (20), Ondo (16), Adamawa (13), Rivers (13), Delta (12), Bayelsa (12), Edo (9), Nasarawa (9), Anambra (7), FCT (7), Imo (7), Plateau (6), Taraba (5), Kwara (5), Kano (5), Abia (4), Cross River (3), Borno (3), Oyo (3), Gombe (3), Katsina (2), Kogi (2), Ogun (2), Niger (1), Bauchi (1), Akwa Ibom (1), and Ebonyi (1).

“Overall, since the re-emergence of monkeypox in September 2017, 985 suspected cases have been reported from 35 states in the country. Of these 985 suspected cases, 398 (40.4%) were confirmed (263 male, 135 female) from 30 states.

“12 deaths have been recorded (CFR = 3.0%) since September 2017 in nine states—Lagos (3), Edo (2), Imo (1), Cross River (1), FCT (1), Rivers (1), Ondo (1), Delta (1), and Akwa Ibom (1).”

The NCDC, however, said there are ongoing efforts to strengthen surveillance at the national and sub-national levels, to increase awareness, and to promptly detect and respond to the outbreak.

Speaking with The PUNCH, the Ondo State Epidemiologist, Dr. Stephen Fagbemi, said people need to visit the hospital once they notice the symptoms.

The symptoms, according to him, are fever, swelling of lymph nodes, back pain, intense headache, muscle aches, and lack of energy.

“There is a need for increased awareness on the steps to reduce the virus exposure and people need to report to hospitals once they notice the symptoms.”

Also, the Senior Vice President for Africa, Human Health Education and Research Foundation, Dr. Ifeanyi Nsofor, said Nigerians must ensure that they protect themselves against the disease.

“You must ensure you wash your hands thoroughly, and always avoid contact with animals that could harbour the virus, including sick or dead animals. Personal hygiene is always important,” Nsofor said.

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