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Afenifere

Banditry:Resurgence of Terrorism After 2023 Polls Worrying -Afenifere

•President to launch network against crime in Gulf of Guinea

•Leaves for Accra today to attend maritime security summit

Yoruba’s foremost socio-political organisation, Afenifere, yesterday, expressed concern about the upsurge in terrorist activities since after the 2023 general election, especially as the country got closer to the handover date.

Afenifere raised the concern in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Comrade Jare Ajayi.

The group challenged President Muhammadu Buhari on the post-election rising terrorism rates, and him offered tips on how to earn the forgiveness of the Nigerian people.

However, the president was scheduled to launch “Network on Organised Crime in Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea (NOCINAG)” at a national conference on Friday in Port Harcourt.

Buhari would depart Abuja for Accra on Tuesday to attend the Third Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the Gulf of Guinea Commission (GGC), convened by President Nana Akuffo-Ado of Ghana.

Speaking on the new wave of terrorism, Afenifere stated that the series of attacks on defenceless people and the subversion of economic activities in various parts of the country, “Give us a lot of concern, especially as we move towards the handing over of power on May 29, 2023, by the grace of God.”

Afenifere observed that kidnapping and banditry that had ebbed during the general election in February and March had returned shortly after the conclusion of the elections in March. It called on the authorities to ensure that the situation was quickly brought under control.

Afenifere regretted that apart from kidnapping people on highways, “Bandits now even have the effrontery to go and abduct people from their homes, as happened to one Adebukola in Ondo State, to a former deputy governor of Nasarawa State, Professor Onje Gye-Wado, to the driver of the incumbent Nasarawa State deputy governor, to one Muhammadu Jibril in Ago Igbira, Osun State, and to over 100 students of Federal Government College, Yauri, Kebbi State, who were abducted from their hostels – to mention a few.”

The group recalled that Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, while speaking in Katsina in April, had stated that the federal government would soon “be deploying electronic digital technology to ensure 24/7 inch by inch surveillance of the 4,500 kilometres borderline from the eastern part to the western part, including the coastlines” of the country.

Afenifere wondered why the government was just thinking of taking such a step when it was about one month for it to go. It added that the fate of those in the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps was still hanging in the balance.

While noting the plea by Buhari for those he might have hurt to pardon him, Afenifere said it would have been much better if the president listened to various advices and pleas made to him over the years regarding the unfriendly, if not retrogressive, steps his administration had been taking.

Afenifere stated, “The maxim has it that ‘to err is human, to forgive is divine.’ Without deceiving ourselves, the Nigerian government under the outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari certainly ‘hurt’ a lot of people (to use his own word). Some of them are even no longer alive.

“Some who are alive have wounds that can hardly ever heal. Both physical and psychosocial wounds, because the Almighty created many humans to have large hearts, many whom the president had hurt may forgive him.

“That is for those who are alive. But then, what about thousands who have died as a result of avoidable acts that can easily be traced to the government, such as non-provision of security and welfare, as clearly enshrined in the constitution?”

Afenifere submitted that many more people might be inclined to forgive the president and change their notions of him if, within the remaining 34 days he had left in the office, he could effect dramatic changes in policies that made life difficult for Nigerians. It added that this was only if the president really wanted the negative perception of his administration to change.

Among the steps suggested by Afenifere were the immediate payment of the eight months salaries of university lecturers, decisive action that would permanently halt banditry, kidnapping and sundry terrorist activities in the country, and allowing those who desired to import fuel to do so for the price of the product to come down to less than N100 per litre.

Afenifere also suggested deliberate actions on the part of the Buhari government to bring down the prices of electricity, gas, kerosene and diesel to about N100 per measure, instead of about N750 that a litre of diesel now costs.

To ensure that the lower prices remained permanent, Afeinfere said the government could license Nigerians, who were into modular refineries, to start producing even with tax moratorium while serious efforts should be made to bring the four refineries in the country back to production.

It added that efforts should be made to ensure that those in IDP camps were resettled in their ancestral homes with adequate steps taken to ensure that bandits no longer assaulted them.

Afenifere said the stranglehold on the economy, especially through unfriendly fiscal policies, should be relaxed so that economic activities could quickly bounce back. It insisted that these things could be successfully done before May 29, 2023, “If President Buhari and his team really desire to do them.”

Buhari to Launch Network Against Crime in Gulf of Guinea

President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to launch “Network on Organized Crime in Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea (NOCINAG),” at a national conference on Friday in Port Harcourt.

The programme initiated by Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre (YEAC-Nigeria), in partnership with Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime, and Resilience Fund, Austria, is targeted at tackling crude oil theft and illegal bunkering, kidnapping, banditry, terrorism racketeering, human trafficking, drugs and arms smuggling, illegal fishing, and sea piracy.

The president will also flag-off the construction of Centre of Excellence and a-100 Bed Specialist Hospital, among other projects of Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) in Ogoniland, on the same date.

According to Executive Director of YEAC-Nigeria, Mr Fyneface Dumnamene Fyneface, NOCINAG will be a regional platform that contributes to the fight against organised crime in the Gulf of Guinea, thus, making Nigeria, Angola, Cameroon, Congo, DR Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Sao Tome and Principe to be more proactive in the fight against transnational crimes.

Fyneface, in a statement, listed organised transnational crimes in the Gulf of Guinea region to include pipeline vandalism, crude oil theft, artisanal refining, illegal bunkering, kidnapping, banditry, terrorism, racketeering, human trafficking, drugs and arms smuggling, illegal fishing, sea piracy, and illegal logging.

He explained that the conference was aimed at facilitating a collaborative local, national and regional solution to the menace of organised crime in Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea.

The statement said, “The conference is imperative to Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea as it brings together critical national and international stakeholders from the security circle, government agencies, oil companies, policymakers, university circles, members of diplomatic community, private sector, the media, civil society organisations, and host communities, among others, to brainstorm on strategic ways of collaborating, supporting and working with governments and security formations in tackling organised crime in Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea for safer societies.

“Apart from President Muhammadu Buhari, some of the critical stakeholders also invited to the conference include Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike; Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor; Chief of Army Staff, Leut. Gen. Farouk Yahaya; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo; Commandant General of NSCDC, Ahmed Audi; Coordinator of Presidential Amnesty Programme, Col. Barry Ndiomu, Rtd.; Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba; and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama.

“Others include National Security Adviser, HYPREP Project Coordinator, Comptroller General of Customs, Director General of NAPTIP, Managing Directors of indigenous/multinational oil companies (SPDC, NOAC/Eni, Halliburton, NLNG, Total E&E Ltd, etc.), Heads of NOA, NDLEA, NDDC, EFCC, NCDMB, DSS, Nigeria Immigration Service, Nigeria Correctional Service, NNPC Ltd, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Petroleum Resources, ECOWAS, Gulf of Guinea Commission, etc.”

it noted that Nigeria was one of the countries in the Gulf of Guinea facing challenges associated with organised domestic and transnational crimes.

Fyneface stated, “These organised crimes manifest in the form of pipeline vandalism, crude oil theft, artisanal refining, illegal bunkering, kidnapping, banditry, insurgency, racketeering, cybercrimes, human trafficking, drugs/arms smuggling; Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing in the Gulf of Guinea, sea pirates, other fraudulent activities and environmental crimes including illegal logging.”

He added, “The conference is aimed at facilitating a collaborative local, national and regional solution to the problem of organised crime in Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea.”

Buhari in Accra Tuesday to Attend Maritime Security Summit

President Muhammadu Buhari would depart Abuja on Tuesday for Accra to attend the Third Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the Gulf of Guinea Commission, (GGC) convened by President Nana Akuffo-Ado of Ghana.

The president, according to a statement by his media adviser, Femi Adesina, is billed to participate and deliver remarks at the high-level discussion on strategies for strengthening peace and security in the fight against maritime-related crimes in the region.

As the immediate past Chairman of the Assembly, Buhari had championed collective efforts by Member States of the region, the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Gulf of Guinea Commission (GGC) and their partners, to address and prevent piracy.

In June, 2019, the National Assembly passed the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act, 2019, (SPOMO Act), aimed at preventing and suppressing piracy, armed robbery and other unlawful acts within the maritime environment.

The statement said the president would be accompanied by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; National Security Adviser (NSA), Major-General Babagana Monguno (Rtd); and Director General, National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ambassador Ahmed Rufai Abubakar, among other top government officials.

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