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Oil theft: Wike tasks traditional rulers to dislodge illegal refinery operators

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From TONY JOHN, Port Harcourt

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has urged traditional rulers in the State not to allow illegal crude oil artisanal refining (kpo-fire) activities to take place in their domains anymore.

Governor Wike gave the charge at a meeting he had with traditional rulers in the State at the Banquet Hall of Government House in Port Harcourt, yesterday.

The meeting was also attended by heads of the security agencies and chairmen of the 23 Local Government Areas of the State.

Governor Wike told the traditional rulers that those involved in illegal refinery activities are sabotaging the national economy.

He regretted that the Federal Government which controls the oil industry and the security agencies has been indifferent to the soot pandemic and the damage it is inflicting on the health of the residents of Rivers State.

He expressed: “I should think that the way federal government intends to fight insurgency, is the way they should fight illegal oil bunkering, because it is a sabotage on the national economy. Very big sabotage. It affects our own revenue.

“If we are supposed to produce 2 million barrels for example, we are now producing 1.2 million. And in that 1.2 million barrels, it affects Rivers State because we are not producing up to the number we are supposed to produce, and then we can’t get the money to do whatever you want us to do.”

The governor also said illegal crude oil refinery activities constitute environmental hazard capable of causing cancer related illnesses in the State.

According to him, his primary concern is to ensure that the health of residents of the State is not jeopardised.

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“It is the responsibility of the Federal Government to see how this thing can be stopped. As I speak to you, nobody has called me from the Federal Government to say how they can support us. But that is not my business.

“My business is the health of my people. I will not because the Federal Government is not interested to stop it, therefore, my people should die. If everybody dies, who are you going to govern?”

The governor, therefore, urged the traditional rulers not to be less concerned about the activities of illegal oil refinery operators, but to frantically mobilise members of their Community Development Committees (CDC) and the leadership of their youth groups to work in synergy to dislodge them from their domain.

Governor Wike berated the Nigerian Police for being complicit in the criminal act of illegal oil bunkering, which is why they are not very committed to the fight to stop the operations.

He also described as embarrassing how officers of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) have continued to be complicit in the act and shamelessly be involved in sabotaging the national economy.

He said: “I don’t know how I can be a security officer sent to a place to protect people, to protect whatsoever belongs to the Federal Government, at the same time, I’m involved in sabotaging the national economy. I don’t understand how I can wear uniform and be involved in that. If they do not want to support us, we have no choice but to expose all the atrocities that is going on in this State.”

Governor Wike said he recently received intelligence that an Army major was providing exit services to illegally refined petroleum products and he had to send security personnel to thwart this.

“In fact, I had to send my special security to go and intercept a major who was trying to escort some of these illegal products.”

The governor declared that his administration will not hesitate to expose any security personnel involved in such illegal refinery activities.

Governor Wike frown at the inability of the Nigeria Police to arrest Chief W. J. Wocha, Fubara Ohaka and other members of the illegal bunkering cartel operating at Ibaa community in Emohua Local Government Area .

He said the names of all indicted persons would be published soon and they will be declared wanted.

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Deborah: Niger, Sokoto govts abandoned us –Deceased’s father

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From John Adams, Minna

Barely 24 hours after the burial of late Deborah Samuel, the 200 level student of Shehu Shagari College of Eduction Sokoto, who was gruesomely murdered for an alleged blasphemy, the father of the deceased, Emmanuel Garba, has accused both the Niger and Sokoto state governments of abandoning his family to their fate.

Although the late student was laid to rest in her home town, Tunganmagajiya, Rijau Local Government Area of Niger State, on Saturday evening, the evacuation of the remains of late Deborah from police custody was done solely by the family.

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Neither the Niger state government nor the Sokoto state government rendered any form of assistance towards the evacuation and eventual burial of the deceased student.

The father of the late Deborah told journalists that not even a word was heard from the Niger state government, since the brutal killing of their daughter, condemning the killing or condoling the family.

“We are yet to hear from the state government. They are yet to send us any message, even to condole us. Even the Sokoto state government did not send any message to us”, he said with tears rolling out of his eyes.

Narrating how he was able to retrieve the body of late daughter for burial, Emmanuel said, “I went to the Criminal Investigators Department (CID), Sokoto, and pleaded with them that since the corpse was burnt, they should help me with it, so that it doesn’t completely decompose, so I can bury her”.

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He stated further that because of the hostile atmosphere in Sokoto, he had to approach the Department of State Security (DSS) for an escort which they agreed, adding, “the DSS reasoned with me and followed me. I signed some documents and they gave her body to me”.

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Mr. Emmanuel, who has now vowed never to send any of his children to school any more, said disclosed that because of the circumstances that surrounded the death of his daughter, no commercial vehicle driver was willing to help convey the body back to Tungan magajiya even when the family was ready to pay any amount.

“I paid N120,000. It was hard getting anyone who will help us take the corpse down here. Most of the Hausa men were reluctant to help us, but you know that no matter the circumstances, someone always needs money”, he added.

Mr. Emmanuel, a father of seven, said that “as believers, we have taken this as an act of God. We won’t seek vengeance or any action. Vengeance is for God, not human beings. A believer resigns his fate to God”.

He, nevertheless, vowed not to send any of his children to school any more. “Everything we have, we put it into the education of Deborah, and, today, she is dead. There are her siblings here who, because of Deborah’s schooling, we couldn’t send  to school because we couldn’t afford it.

“If you have anything, you can’t sponsor all your children to such schools. I have seven children, Deborah was the second born. It is all over for me because I don’t have the resources”.

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Tension, fears in Borno over alleged fresh blasphemy

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From Fred Ezeh, Okwe Obi, Abuja, Abuja, Noah Ebije, Kaduna, Gyang Bere, Jos

Tension and fears of possible breakdown of law and order have gripped Maiduguri, Borno State, following reported attempt on the life of a lady alleged to have blasphemed Islam.

The lady identified as Naomi Gomi is alleged to have committed blasphemy with her comment on a trending post on Facebook in reaction to the lynching of Deborah Samuel, a 200-level student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto (SSCOE), who was burnt to death by alleged Islamic extremists last week

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Her comment triggered sharp reactions as someone volunteered the lady’s location and house with a warning to get her. The threat by some people to give her Deborah treatment made security agents to evacuate her and her family late Saturday. Security agencies were subsequently placed on red alert as the police and other sister agencies were seen patrolling the streets of Maiduguri to nip any uprising in the bud.

Meanwhile, outrage and condemnation have continued to trail the lynching of Deborah. While the Northern Governors Forum condemned the act of self-help as exhibited by the mob saying it  could threaten law, order, general peace and security of the society, popular Kaduna-based Islamic scholar, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, told those that participated in the act that they would not make paradise.

Also, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) from 19 Northern states and Abuja, conglomerates of Fellowship of Churches of Christ in Nigeria, known as Tarayyar Ekklesiyoyin Kristi a Nijeria (TEKAN), Catholic Laity Council of Nigeria, and Are Onakankafo of Yorubaland, Otunba Gani Adams, yesterday, joined in condemning Deborah’s killing, describing it  as an evil act.This is as the Sokoto State Government announced the suspension of the resumption of basic and secondary schools in the state by one week. The schools were initially scheduled to resume yesterday and today for boarding and day students. Also, corps members serving, especially those in the Sokoto metropolis, have been advised to remain at home due to the 24-hour curfew. This was contained in another statement from the spokesperson of the scheme in Sokoto State, Malam Sani Idris.

Chairman, Northern Governors  Forum and Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong in a statement said the governors were concerned about the development which is clearly an extra-judicial measure of addressing perceived infraction.

Lalong said any attempt to adopt self-help in addressing grievances whether religious or otherwise, would only lead to further chaos that could threaten law, order, general peace and security of the society.

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While commiserating with the family of the victim, Lalong said Northern governors want security agencies to be allowed to thoroughly investigate the matter and ensure that the law took its full course on anyone found wanting.

The governors also appealed for calm following reports of the hijack of a peaceful protest which later turned violent and led to the imposition of a curfew in Sokoto metropolis.

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Sheikh Gumi, in one of his preachings at Sultan Bello Mosque in Kaduna, said any Muslim who kills a Christian in Nigeria because the prophet was allegedly insulted would not smell paradise.

He said Nigeria was not an Islamic State and that Muslims in the country have agreement with people of other faiths to live together peacefully and that anyone who kills them on religious guise has committed a grievous sin.

The Islamic scholar  said it was unfortunate that some Muslim clerics were quoting verses they do not understand and telling people to kill whoever insults their religion.

Quoting some Quranic verses and jurisprudence, the cleric said Killing a non-Muslim under the guise that the person uttered a blasphemous statement against Prophet Muhammad is not an excuse, “because Allah has told us in the Qur’an that the non-Muslims will insult Allah and His Prophet. In fact, it is now that the blasphemy will start after the killing of that lady in Sokoto, the insult will increase, not reduce.”

Gumi said some Muslims of Nigeria that want to defend Prophet Muhammad should be ashamed of themselves because they are corrupt, adding that the best way to go if we want to defend the Prophet is to follow his teachings.

Regardless,  CAN from 19 Northern states and Abuja have demanded that all christian leaders terminate their participation in Nigerian Inter-Religious Council (NIREC), until their counterparts in Islamic faith show commitment to tame their followers on equal terms.

Its spokesperson, Jechonia Gilbert, in a statement condemned what it termed gruesome and barbaric murder of Deborah Samuel by some religious extremists. The organisation said Nigeria is a country governed by the rule of law and order, hence any act of lawlessness and criminality must not be swept under the carpet. It also discouraged Christian parents across the nation especially, Northern states from sending their children to any school in Sokoto State, pending when the federal and state governments would be willing to secure the lives of students both in Sokoto and other states that are hostile to Christians and Christianity.

CAN also called on the Federal and Sokoto State government not to resort to usual rhetorics but demonstrate political will and capacity to bring the perpetrators of the criminality to justice, otherwise, others may take queue from it and turn Nigeria to a country of lawlessness at every slightest provocation.

“While CAN does not and will not encourage casting aspersions on any religion or religious leader of any faith, it frowns at hiding under the gab of any religious extremism to perpetrate any form of criminality against its members especially in Northern Nigeria.  God Almighty is not and can never be a weak God for mere mortal to fight and defend Him. On the contrary, it is He who keeps, watches and defends us. CAN believe that life is sacred and must never be taken by another unless as directed by the State. We appeal and counsel those who feel and think that killing and oppressing Christians is a demonstration of their service to their God to learn from history. Those that tried it in Egypt and their experiences should be enough warning. There is a Red Sea awaiting them, even those who are secretly encouraging them, must partake in the Red Sea experience,” CAN warned.

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