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Fleeing southern Kaduna residents flood Delta

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Kaduna State governor Nasir El-Rufai

Kaduna State governor Nasir El-Rufai

Agitators warn against use of military to stop protest

Fleeing southern Kaduna residents have moved into Asaba and its environs in Delta State following the renewed attacks on Tsonje village near Kagoro town in Kauru Local Government of Kaduna by suspected herdsmen.

The renewed attacks, reports said, have threatened the hope of an earlier peace moves to the much-troubled southern part of Kaduna State. Some of the fleeing Southern Kaduna residents who spoke to our reporter, said they moved into Asaba on Sunday night for fear of the unknown. One of them, Patrick Hassan who claimed to have driven in his car from Kaduna to Asaba said: “I have to move my family into Asaba because the situation in southern Kaduna is getting worse, some of my relations are here in Asaba, I won’t go back until the coast is clear.” In Ughelli, indications are that the fleeing residents have moved their family into the commercial community where they believe they would be safe for them to live temporarily before the continued attacks in southern Kaduna are over.

At Coker Junction, Nnebisi road, Summit road Asaba, these fleeing residents are seen with their travelling bags chatting with fellow Hausa speakers, especially cobblers. One of them, Kalaru Musa who claimed to be a Christian told our reporter that their journey to Asaba started since Sunday night after their hope that the attacks on Christians might be far from over in southern Kaduna was dashed, adding: “We moved into Asaba because we have some of our relations here, we will be here till the troubles are over.”

An investigation revealed that many of the fleeing residents were yet to secure accommodation through their relations, as they were seen at motor parks. In Abraka and Asaba, the fleeing residents regretted the unabated attacks on the Christians and appealed to federal and state governments to ensure an urgent solution.

A further investigation revealed that plainclothes security agents were visibly seen at strategic positions, Ibusa-Asaba Junction, Summit Junction, Agric road junction and Anwai, areas where motorists were made to face difficult times.

One of the security agents, who did not want his name in the print said they were acting on the instruction of the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) who ordered that security be beefed up in all the states of the federation.

He said: “There is no cause for alarm, we on the instruction of the IGP who ordered that security be beefed in all the states.” Confirming the development, the Police Commissioner in the state, Mr. Zanna Ibrahim said the plainclothes security agents would help to ensure secret meetings of hoodlums are uncovered. His words: “IGP asked that security be beefed up in all the states; hence the plainclothes security agents.”

Meanwhile, the Biafra agitators in the state have warned the Federal Government against the use of military men in the Niger Delta, insisting that the use of military men to negotiate peace in the region would worsen the peace move by President Mohammadu Buhari.

The leader of the group in Asaba, Mr. Ifeanyi Johnson told journalists: “We want to warn that the military cannot settle for peace, nor dialogue with the milittant group (Avengers). The president should remove the military men from the region so that the peace talk move can work.”

Also against the backdrop of the threat of the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) to resume hostilities against strategic oil installations, a state legislator and a renowned pro-environmentalist yesterday, called for caution and sought the prompt effective resumption of dialogue between the Federal Government and stakeholders in the Niger Delta origin.

The legislator, Tonye Timi, representing Patani Constituency in the Delta State House of Assembly (DTHA) and environmental rights activist, Mr. Okezi Odugala, who spoke in separate telephone interviews with our reporter, called for a meaningful dialogue between the government and the militants, including the NDA. Timi, while not supporting the resort to violence, accused the Federal Government of dilly-dallying on the subject of a meaningful dialogue with the militants and other stakeholders, and called for the urgent resumption of what he termed sincere talks between the parties.

He said that it was lamentable that the government, by its body language, appeared to be telling the Niger Delta stakeholders that the only strategy to earn its attention was violence.

According to him, the threat by the NDA was particularly regrettable in the face of the reluctant meeting between the government and the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), led by elder statesman, Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clark. Particularly, he expressed dissatisfaction at the statement credited to the effect that the delay in effecting the talks was on account of the governments’ search for credible Niger Delta leaders . In his reaction, Odugala, Coordinator of Forum of Non-Governmental Organisations in Delta State, said that while the necessity for meaningful dialogue had been made more imperative by the weekend threat by NDA to end its ceasefire, the resort to violence, in whatever shape or form, was totally unacceptable.

Odugala stressed that the threat, by its symbolic effect, was capable of taking back the hands of the clock, stressing that the only viable and acceptable option open to Nigerians was one anchored on the prompt commencement of worthwhile dialogue.

Urging all parties to show restraint on the matter, Odugala added that “destruction or war is not an option that any reasonable one will accept, even in a dream.”

Governor of Delta State, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, while presenting the draft of the state’s 2017 budget estimates to lawmakers, on November 10, 2016, had said that the persistent sabotage of oil facilities in the state was increasingly becoming a huge negative factor in the economy of the state .

On the occasion, he said: “What our brothers and sisters need to know is that pipeline vandalisation hurts us more than it hurts other parts of the country; accruals to Delta State from the Derivation Formula (13 percent) is a function of how much oil we supply to the national economy for export. Regrettably, the activities of the militants saw us drop (in 2016) from being number two (2) among oil-producing states to number four (4), resulting in severe damage to our finances.”


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Tonye Timi

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