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29 drowned firewood hawkers buried in Sokoto village

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Twenty-nine bodies of young firewood hawkers have been buried in Gidan Magana Village, Shagari Local Government Area of Sokoto State.

The hawkers died on Wednesday when their boat capsized on Shagari River on their way to fetch firewood in Ela bush.

The funeral prayer was led by Imam Musa Shagari and was attended by the State’s Deputy Governor, Alhaji Manniru Dan’iya.

Others included the Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Umar Sa’idum, and the member representing Shagari Local Government in the state House of Assembly, Alhaji Maidawa Kajiji.

Shortly after they were buried, Governor Aminu Tambuwal arrived in the village from Abuja to commiserate with the bereaved families.

In his address, Tamabuwal condoled with them and confirmed that 29 people died while six survived the unfortunate incident.

The Village Head, Alhaji Auwalu Magaji, told the gathering that the 23 females, mostly young girls, and six men, were on their way to fetch firewood they would sell.

Magaji said fetching firewood was a major business engaged in by the youth in the area and they used canoe to cross the Shagari River in their search for the fuel.

He said the victims were among the second batch of firewood hawkers who left the village to the bush around 10am on Wednesday after first batch had been crossed and dropped off in Ela bush.

Malam Ali Muhammad, father of one of the deceased, 12-year-old Rufaida, confirmed that she left in the morning to the Ela bush.

Muhammad said: “I searched for her corpse and saw it among others.

“Rufaida has not been attending formal school as there is no primary school in the village.

“However, she was attending religious study classes along with other children in the evening.”

A resident, Muhammad Danmaimota, described the incident as unfortunate and attributed it to the poverty that ravaged the area.

Danmaimota said the village lacked functional school, clinic, electricity and potable water, a situation that forced residents to engage in firewood business.

According to him, young girls before marriage mostly engage in hawking firewood for subsistence and commercial purposes.

He said that boys also joined in the business because of the absence of schools.

Danmaimota said Gidan Magana Village roads were inaccessible, especially when it rained, and residents faced hardships due to the lack of social amenities.

He said that residents paid a fare of N50 to cross the river in a boat.

Danmaimota said though the firewood fetching business was dangerous, the people had no other option.

A News Agency of Nigeria Correspondent, who was in village, reports that the incident threw the residents into deep mourning.

Residents of neighbouring villages besieged Gidan Magana Village to sympathise with them.

NAN recalls that a similar incident occurred in 2021 when 13 people died in nearby Ganga Village in the same Shagari LGA while crossing the same river to attend a naming ceremony.

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Alleged N80bn fraud: EFCC arrests Acct-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris

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THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Monday, arrested the Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr Ahmed Idris, in connection with diversion of funds and money laundering activities to the tune of N80 billion. 

EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, informed that the commission’s verified intelligence showed that Idris raked off the funds through bogus consultancies and other illegal activities using proxies, family members and close associates. 

The funds, Uwujaren added, were laundered through real estate investments in Kano and Abuja. 

Prior to his arrest on Monday, the commission had invited him to respond to issues relating to the alleged fraud, though he had failed to honour the invitation. 

His failure to honour the invitation, according to the commission’s spokesman, led to his arrest. 

As of the time of filing this report, Idris was with the anti-graft agency and it was not certain if he would be granted administrative bail to go home.



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FG directs resumption of Abuja-Kaduna train service

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The Federal Government (FG) through the Federal Ministry of Transportation (FMoT), has directed that the Abuja-Kaduna Train Service (AKTS) should resume operation.

The Deputy Director, Public Relations of the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC), Yakub Mahmood, made this known in a statement issued in Lagos on Monday.

Mahmood said that the corporation wished to inform its valued customers that additional security measures were being put in place at both the train stations and the track to ensure the safety of passengers onboard.

He said that such measures were not only for the Abuja-Kaduna Train Service (AKTS) but also for all the passenger train services, especially on the standard gauge railway lines.

“Consequently, the passengers are hereby enjoined to cooperate with the NRC in order to enjoy improved service delivery, safety and comfort.

“This is by patiently complying with additional measures that will surely be introduced for the safety of our passengers, such as requesting for passengers National Identification Numbers (NIN).

“The NIN is part of our internal security check; in addition, presentation of the following must be strictly complied with before boarding the train:

“A valid photo Identification Card (ID), reachable telephone number of Next of Kin (NOK) or close relative and an Online and offline purchase of tickets must contain the passenger’s individual profile or identification data,” he said.

Mahmood said that concerted effort to secure the safe release of the abducted passengers being held hostage by the terrorists was continuing out of the public domain for strategic security reasons.

He said that the government wished to assure the relatives of the abducted citizens still in captivity that the safe rescue of the passengers was a top priority.

The NRC official said that they should not misconstrue the resumption of train services as abandonment or nonchalant attitude of the government towards their plight.

He said that the federal government would never abdicate its responsibility in rescuing these valuable citizens, however, it assured of its resolve not to succumb to threats by any faceless group.

Mahmood appealed to customers for understanding and invited them to cooperate with their staff at the various train stations.

He urged passengers to desist from obtaining tickets through unauthorized sources.

The operations according to the statement would resume on Monday, May 23.

The Kaduna-bound train from Abuja was attacked on March 28 by armed bandits, during which at least eight persons were killed and others kidnapped or missing.

The Nigerian Railway Corporation on March 29 suspended train operations along the Abuja-Kaduna route indefinitely.

 

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