Lekki shootings: NBA insists on probe, Amnesty releases evidence linking military [PUNCH]
The global rights group, Amnesty International, has collated and released a timeline of the killing of #EndSARS protesters by soldiers at the Lekki tollgate, Lagos on October 20.
The AI said its crisis response experts investigated and verified social media videos and photographs that confirmed the security forces were present at the Lekki toll gate when the shootings occurred.
The evidence was published on the group’s website, Amnesty International Home on Wednesday.
The Nigerian Bar Association and an activist, Raphael Adebayo, in their separate reactions to Amnesty’s statement, reiterated their calls for the probe of the Lekki shootings.
The NBA further advised government to stop denying the incident and admit its error.
Youths calling for the scrapping of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police had on October 8 begun protests in major cities across the country.
On October 20, the protests turned violent when soldiers shot protesters at Lekki.
Eyewitnesses said that eight dead bodies of protesters were taken away by the soldiers of 81 Division of the Nigerian Army.
The incident which was also live-streamed by a popular disc jockey showed the soldiers firing at the activists.
The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, in his first reaction to the shootings blamed the incident on forces beyond his control.
Later in an interview with Arise Television, the governor denied inviting soldiers to quell the protests.
But the acting Deputy Director, 81 Division Army Public Relations, Maj. Osoba Olaniyi, in a statement on Tuesday, explained that the troops were invited by the Lagos State Government to enforce the curfew it imposed on the state.
Efforts to get the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Gboyega Akosile, to react to the military’s latest claim did not succeed as he did not take his calls nor respond to a WhatsApp message from The PUNCH, despite viewing the text.
However, a top member of the Sanwo-Olu cabinet said the governor would not reply to the military statement.
“No, there is no need for a response. We are not reacting to it,” the official, who did not want to be quoted, said.
But the AI in a statement on Wednesday titled, ‘Authorities must stop attempts to cover up Lekki toll gate massacre – new investigative timeline,’ provided photographs and footage confirming that the military vehicles conveying the troops left their base, Bonny Camp at 6:29 pm for the tollgate.
It explained that the military vehicles were filmed leaving Bonny Camp on videos shared on social media.
The group further disclosed that footage also showed four vehicles with flashing lights in a convoy, “and they appear to be vehicles used by the Nigerian military and police.”
The statement further said the same vehicles headed east along Ozumba Mbadiwe Avenue and passed several international embassies and consulates, including the Japanese Embassy and the Australian High Commission.
The footage tracked the vehicles to the toll gate and showed the troops firing on the #EndSARS protesters at approximately 6: 45pm.
The statement read, “The Nigerian authorities’ must end their attempts to cover up the Lekki toll gate massacre. The timeline collates photographs and video footage to confirm that the Nigerian Army vehicles left Bonny Camp, a military base, approximately a seven-minute drive from the tollgate, at 6:29 pm local time on 20 October.
“Footage then tracks the vehicles to the toll gate. At approximately 6:45 pm, the Nigerian military opened fire on the #EndSars protesters who were peacefully calling for an end to police brutality.
“Further photographs and footage captured the vehicles arriving at the tollgate, before the peaceful protest was disrupted by men in military uniform and gunfire is heard.
“As night time descended, protesters continued to film and share videos of the shootings. Later in the evening, videos of the victims were also shared on social media.”
Prisons reject suspected looters, thugs arraigned by police [PUNCH]
The police in Lagos have begun the arraignment of all suspected hoodlums arrested in connection with the mayhem unleashed on the state in the aftermath of the Lekki tollgate shootings at #EndSARS protesters by soldiers.
No fewer than 520 suspects were arrested by the police in relation to arson, murder, stealing and assault, among others.
The Police Public Relations Officer in Lagos, Muyiwa Adejobi, told The PUNCH on Wednesday that over 200 of the arrested 520 suspects had been arraigned.
However, our correspondents gathered that the suspects were returned to the police cell after their arraignment in court, instead of being remanded in prison.
It was gathered that the Nigeria Custodial Service declined taking in the suspected hoodlums for challenge of space in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Adejobi said, “We have commenced the arraignment of the 520 suspected hoodlums. We have been sharing the suspects to various facilities because it is a state command’s case and the state command has the right to keep the suspects in any of our stations.”
Adejobi said rejecting of suspects by the custodial centre was not peculiar to the suspected hoodlums.
He said, “The procedure is that whenever we charge suspects to court, they are always remanded in police facilities because of COVID 19. So, the next thing we do is to get them tested for COVID-19 after which they would be received at the correctional centres.”
When contacted, the spokesman for the Nigeria Correctional Service in Lagos, Rotimi Oladokun, said he was not aware that the suspected hoodlums were turned back, but said there was a standing rule that suspects must first run COVID-19 test before being admitted into correctional facilities.
Oladokun said, “We have an understanding with all critical stakeholders in the administration of criminal justice in Lagos State. Once the court gives an order for remand, the Lagos State Government conducts COVID-19 test on them. Once they get negative result, they bring them to us. Those who test positive, the government takes them to the treatment centre and upon a negative result, they bring them to the custodial centre.
“The issue of rejection does not arise. That is not factual.”
Senate faults 20 power projects in minister’s LGA [PUNCH]
The Senate on Wednesday condemned the proposed citing of 20 projects in Lau Local Government Area of Taraba State where the Minister of Power, Mamman Saleh, hails from.
The Senate Committee on Power expressed the dissatisfaction while scrutinising the 2021 budget proposals of the Rural Electrification Agency.
Members of the panel identified 20 rural electrification projects of various sums, ranging between N20m to N52m in the 2021 budget proposal submitted to the National Assembly.
They expressed dismay that the record indicated that only one of the electrification projects for 2021 in the entire South-South geopolitical zone was proposed to be cited in Delta State.
The Managing Director of the REA, Ahmad Salijo, presented and defended the budget before the Senate Committee on Power, which has Senator Gabriel Suswam, as chairman.
The senators identified uniform allocation of N52m for various projects across the geopolitical zones and faulted the essence of executing less than 2 kilometres ones for over five years.
Trouble started when a member of the panel from Taraba State, Senator Yusuf Yusuf, drew the attention of his colleagues to the lopsidedness in the distribution of the projects.
He specifically said the budget proposal was fraught with uneven distribution of mini-grid power projects for rural communities, alleging that many of them were concentrated in the minister’s LGA.
Yusuf said, “It is not just the N52m but if you look at from number 85, N30m, N20m, N40m and they are all concentrated in one Local Government Area.
“That is the minister’s LGA. Twenty projects are in Lau Local Government Area. I am not challenging him but I am sure.”
Another member of the committee, Senator Bala Ibn Na’ Allah accused the minister of allegedly violating his oath of office if he approved the citing of the projects in his LGA.
Okonjo-Iweala favoured for WTO job despite US opposition [PUNCH]
Most European Union member states have continued to express their support for Nigeria’s former finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, as the next director-general of the World Trade Organisation.
The BBC also reported on Wednesday that the WTO’s ambassadors have backed Okonjo-Iweala for the position.
If the former managing director of the World Bank finally clinches the position, she would be the first woman and the first African to lead the WTO.
However, the WTO’s effort to select a new leader by consensus hit a brick wall on Wednesday after the United States vetoed the move towards consensus.
Deputy US Trade Representative, Dennis Shea, said Washington won’t join a consensus to appoint Okonjo-Iweala because the US supported her opponent, South Korean trade minister, Yoo Myung-hee, according to WTO spokesman, Keith Rockwell.
According to Bloomberg, US Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer, had pushed for Yoo even though Okonjo-Iweala gained American citizenship in 2019.
Sources close to him told Bloomberg that he viewed Okonjo-Iweala, a longtime top official at the World Bank, as being too close to pro-trade internationalists like Robert Zoellick, a former USTR from the Bush administration, who worked with her when he was president of the Washington-based bank.
WTO’s major decisions are made by a consensus of its 164 members.
This means that a single country, especially the world’s largest economy, can create a stalemate to pressure others.
The Geneva-based institution would keep working to reach a consensus ahead of the meeting of the General Council tentatively set for November 9, Bloomberg reported.
In her home country, Okonjo-Iweala continues to enjoy support from many Nigerians some of whom had congratulated her ahead of the final selection.
Professor of capital market, Nasarawa State University, Prof. Uche Uwaleke, said her emergence as WTO DG would be positive for Nigeria’s economy.
He said with her, Nigeria would be in a stronger position to champion the cause of the Africa Union’s African Continental Free Trade Area project.
The Trade Union Congress, in a statement signed by its President, Quadri Olaleye, and Secretary General, Musa-Lawal Ozigi, appreciated the Federal Government, Nigerians and all the countries that have so far supported her.
Looters cart away 9 trailer loads of items from firm [THE NATION]
THE ongoing looting of public and private properties took a bizarre turn in Abuja when hoodlums stole items contained in nine trailers.
Also taken away from the firm were weighbridge equipment, scales, office chairs, tables, air conditioners, electric motors, armoured cables and tools worth millions of naira, according to the Chief Executive Officer of food processing and production company Zeenab Foods Limited Mr. Victor Ayemere. Doors and glass windows were shattered.
It happened in two consecutive days – Monday and Tuesday – in Idu Industrial layout in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The arrival of security agents in 10 Hilux vehicles failed to prevent the looters, some of who drilled the fence of the firm’s warehouse and climbed walls to gain entrance.
Also on Wednesday, 35 of the 110 tractors carted away in a warehouse Yola, the Adamawa State capital, were recovered by the police.
Governor Ahmadu Fintiri has signed an Executive Order authorising house-to-house search for the remaining tractors and other items stolen by hoodlums.
Recounting the attack on the firm, General Manager Chrles Idubor said: “It’s been the most horrific and devastating experience the company has had since its inception.
The company processes food commodities such as rice, beans, sorghum, millet and others for the Nigerian local market and contract supply.
“After many warehouses had been looted on Monday at Idu Industrial Layout, the company received a distress call at about 11:30 pm that over 200 hoodlums had gained access to the factory.
“They scaled the fence and forced their way into the warehouses and carted away food products, especially rice and beans.
“We, therefore, called on the police who later came to drive away the hoodlums after much resistance that night. Some were arrested in the process.
“The next day, our chairman was there, along with the General Manager and other senior management staff to assess the damage done by these hoodlums.
“At around 9:45 am, more hoodlums, male and female, numbering over 300, gathered to our dismay at the factory gate and around the fence trying to gain entrance for further looting and vandalism.
“Efforts by our management to calm them down and make them understand that the factory had already been looted and for them to show mercy, proved abortive.”
According to Idubor, soldiers and policemen soon arrived at the premises in about 10 Hilux vans and unsuccessfully tried to calm the hoodlums down.
“When the situation could no longer be curtailed by the joint task force men, the hoodlums broke into the factory again.
“This time, some of them even bore holes through the fences.
“It was such a disheartening situation; we wondered what the country had turned into, where private companies can no longer operate in safety.
“We hereby call on the government to look into our plight. These unprecedented crises and protests have affected us so badly.”
Security agencies have been struggling to contain increasing cases of looting on government-run warehouses across the country.
Some of the storage facilities hold tonnes of relief materials, including food meant for distribution during the lockdown.
Amid the protests over police brutality, mobs have overrun many warehouses and looted food.
On Monday, residents in search of COVID-19 palliatives stormed a warehouse in Gwagwalada, Abuja.
The looted items include rice, semovita, macaroni, spaghetti, sugar, salt, and fertilizers.
On Tuesday, the orientation camp of the National Youth Service Corps in Kubwa, a satellite town of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, was invaded by looters.
U.S. mounts opposition as Okonjo-Iweala gathers more support [THE NATION]
FORMER Finance Minister Mrs. Ngozi Okojo-Iweala will eventually be confirmed as World Trade Organisation (WTO) Director-General, despite the United States (U.S.) opposition, the Federal Government said on Wednesday.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire in a message congratulated Dr. Okonjo-Iweala over her impending emergence as head of the global trade organisation.
The United States is blocking Dr. Okonjo-Iweala’s appointment despite winning the overwhelming backing of the body’s 164 members.
The former minister has moved a step closer to becoming the first woman and the first African Director-General of the global trade watchdog after securing the support of a key group of trade ambassadors in Geneva.
Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Dennis Shea, during a meeting of WTO delegates in Geneva, said the U.S. could not support a consensus decision to appoint Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala, according to three officials who monitored the proceedings.
Shea said the U.S. disagreed with the way in which the process was being carried out.
A selection panel of three WTO trade ministers found that Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala had far more support than her South Korean rival, Yoo Myung-hee.
The former World Bank Managing Director was backed by countries in the Caribbean, Africa, the European Union, China, Japan and Australia.
An original list of eight candidates, which included UK’s Liam Fox, has been whittled down to a final two since the summer.
By tradition, the WTO chooses its director-general by consensus, with all 164 members having to approve a candidate.
But the U.S. has been unhappy with the way the WTO has operated for some time, objecting to China’s designation as a developing country and blocking the appointment of new judges to the organisation’s appeals body.
Sources said it was unclear whether Washington’s opposition to Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala was a deliberate attempt to sabotage an organisation much-criticised by President Donald Trump.
A WTO spokesman said her candidacy would be put to a meeting of the body’s governing general council on November 9, adding that there was likely to be “frenzied activity” in the meantime to secure consensus.
In the event that Washington maintains its opposition to Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala, the WTO’s Constitution provides for a vote, although every previous director-general in the organisation’s 25-year history has been appointed by consensus and trade experts said life would be difficult if an appointment was made against the wishes of the US.
Mrs. Orelope-Adfulire was optimistic that Okonjo-Iweala’s emergence would help improve Africa’s trade position with the rest of the world.
The presidential aide noted that as an expert on the use of trade, economics and governance as tools of development, Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala as WTO D-G “will be in a position to help in the actualisation of 2030 agenda of leaving no one behind”, leveraging her new office.
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Chairman Prince Uche Secondus, former Anambra State Governor Peter Obi, and Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council Worldwide lauded Dr. Okonjo-Iweala for crossing the first hurdle.
In a message from his media office, Secondus said Dr. Okonjo-Iweala’s victory in the highly-contested global position was rewarding and that it mirrored that a greater tomorrow awaited the country.
He described her victory as a reward for hard work and commitment to excellence as she demonstrated in all the positions she held nationally and internationally.
The PDP chair said: “This savoury news coming at this time that the nation is witnessing her worse due to leadership failure is relieving and hope rising that a greater tomorrow awaits this land.”
He lauded Dr. Okonjo-Iweala’s victory coming shortly after Dr. Akinwumi Adesina’s re-election as the African Development Bank (AfDB) President.
The PDP chair also hailed President Muhammadu Buhari for putting aside political sentiments in backing both Adesina and Okonjo-Iweala for the exalted international jobs.
Obi said Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala was very deserving of the position, given her profile as one of the great female players in the world in the field of development economics and finance.
He said former minister’s track record, from the World Bank through to governance in Nigeria, as well as her being a top player in several global finance bodies, ensured that nobody else would have been a better choice for the WTO job.
He commended WTO member nations for putting merit far above every other consideration in selecting the director-general.
Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council Worldwide also described her emergence as the answered prayers of Nigerians for an African to occupy the exalted position for the first time in history.
The President-General and Secretary-General of the youth group, Okechukwu Isiguzoro and Okwu Nnabuike said they were happy that Okonjo-Iweala broke the record.
According to them, the Federal Government’s backing for her candidature affirmed President Muhammadu Buhari’s loves for the Igbo.
Police parade 420 more suspects in nine states, Abuja [THE NATION]
POLICE authorities in nine states on Wednesday paraded more than 400 more suspects for killing, looting and arson that trailed the #EndSARS protests across the country.
The Police in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) arraigned 218 suspects in six mobile courts for their alleged involvement in looting at Kuje, Gwagwalada, Jabi , Idu and the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Orientation Camp in Kubwa.
Twenty six of the 420 paraded suspects were alleged to be involved in the killing of 10 officers of the Oyo and Anambra State Police commands. They were also said to have participated in the burning of 11 police stations in the two states.
One of the nine suspects in Oyo State, confessed to have stolen two cartons of beer and a generator from the Iseyin Police Station. The Police in Anambra State paraded 17 suspects.
The other states where the police paraded suspects were Adamawa (218), Kano(59), Kogi(56), Kaduna(23) and Niger(17).
In the FCT, police spokesperson Yusuf Mariam, said 210 suspects were arraigned before mobile mobile courts. Police Commissioner Bala Ciroma said 79 suspects were arrested for “looting and vandalism” in the Idu Industrial Layout.
Mariam, in a statement said: “Within the last 48hours, the command has arrested and arraigned a total of 201 suspected looters, including women and made recoveries of some looted items, at the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Orientation Camp – Kubwa, Kuje, Gwagwalada,Jabi and Idu. All the suspects were arraigned before six mobile courts on Wednesday, 28th October, 2020.”
Ciroma during an inspection of companies and warehouses vandalised in Idu with FCT Minister Muhammed Bello, said: “79 suspects have so far been arrested in connection with the looting and vandalism.”
In Ibadan, a suspect, Raheem Toheeb, said he shared two the cartons of beer he took from the Iseyin Police Station last week among #EndSARS protesters during the protest.
The 28-year old Toheeb also said he returned a generator he carted away from the station after the youth leader in the town directed that all looted items be sent back.
Toheeb denied joining others to set the police station ablaze.
Commissioner of Police Nwachukwu Enwonwu told reporters in Ibadan, that the nine suspects were among those who carted away arms and ammunition from looted police stations.
He added that six police officers were murdered while five divisional police headquarters and police patrol vehicles were burnt down.
Officers and men of the Anambra State Police command headquarters in Awka wept over the killing of four of their colleagues.This was during the parade of the 17 suspects from Anambra, Abia and Ebonyi states arrested for the killings and arson that trailed the #EndSARS protests.
Among the deceased were two Divisional Police Officers (DPOs) and an inspector who was beheaded and his body burnt.
Commissioner of Police John Abang said the command was still in search of the other fleeing suspects.
Abang said: “The hoodlums set ablaze 11 police stations; burnt over 20 vehicles, including patrol and exhibit vehicles and an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC).
“They also vandalised six other police stations and carted away motorcycles kept as exhibits. The Police also lost some rifles during the attacks.”
Parading the 56 Kogi State suspects in Lokoja, Commissioner of Police Ayuba Ede, said they looted materials and vandalised property worth millions between last Sunday and Monday.
Jail-breakers arrested for killing, theft in Edo [THE NATION]
TEN of the 1,993 inmates in correctional centres at Airport and Sapele Roads, Benin City, Edo State have been arrested barely 10 days after escaping from the centres.
One of the escapees returned to his community where he allegedly killed a prosecution witness in his case while five stole a Toyota Lexus 330 and a Camry. The Lexus with registration number: KWL 205 AZ and Camry marked LSD 231 GD were recovered from them.
Commissioner of Police Babatunde Kokumo paraded the 10 jail-breakers alongside 116 suspected criminals, arsonists and looters of COVID-19 palliatives in Benin.
He was silent on the offences of the remaining three of the 10 that returned to crimes.
The 10 re-arrested male escapees are Emmanuel Udoh, Friday Etim, Victor Akpotor, Lucky Precious, Osarumen Enoragbon, Patrick Eguavoen, Abraham Matthew, Endurance Ifobuow, Mohammed Adamu and Henry Atadi.
Kokumo said: “We have commenced actions against the criminal elements. It will interest you to know that 10 of the criminal elements who escaped from Oko Correctional Centre on Airport Road, Benin and the Correctional Centre on Sapele Road, Benin, were also arrested.
“One of them, after having escaped from Oko correctional centre ran back to his village on the same day, to kill the person who stood as prosecution witness in the case that took him to the correctional centre. He has been arrested and he is among the suspects.
“Another group of three escapees from the correctional centre in Benin also went ahead to snatch a Lexus Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV). Three of them met at the correctional centre and they were caught by the police.
“A set of two escapees equally stole a Toyota Camry car. They also met at the correctional centre. They were arrested by Okada Division of Edo State Police Command. We have a total of ten escapees.
“Guns were also recovered from the criminal elements. Anybody who is armed with weapon of destruction is no longer embarking on a peaceful protest.
”The stolen arms and ammunition regrettably would have been unleashed on the members of the public if we had not recovered them.”
Kogi State Commissioner of Police Ayuba Ede yesterday paraded 56 persons who allegedly looted materials and vandalised property worth several millions of naira in Lokoja between last Sunday and Monday.
PDP, IPAC laud Yakubu’s re-nomination as INEC chair
THE Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) yesterday expressed optimism that the reappointment of Prof. Mahmood Yabuku as Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will reinforce the commission’s efforts at conducting more credible elections in the country.
In a statement on Wednesday by its spokesman Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP said: “We consider this reappointment by President Muhammadu Buhari as an impetus to demonstrate a readiness for a free fair and credible election, which Mr. President had always promised to bequeath at the end of his second and final term in office in 2023.
“In the light of this five-year extension, our party hopes that the failures, disappointments and miscarriages that characterised the first five-year tenure of Yakubu will have no place in the new order.”
IPAC congratulated Yakubu on his re-appointment, urging him to continue with the electoral reforms he initiated.
In a statement in Abuja by its National Chairman, Dr. Leonard Nzenwa, IPAC said: “The smooth conduct of Edo and Ondo states’ governorship elections is clear example of the positive technology and digitisation trajectory which Yakubu’s first tenure gave to Nigeria.
“We urge him to continue with the strident effort to help in reformation of the electoral process, even as we urge the chairman to put his foot down to ensure that Nigerians votes count in all elections in the country going forward.”
Eid-el Maulud: Buhari, PDP, APC, Kalu, others urge national rebirth, tolerance, prayer [SUN]
President Muhammadu Buhari has urged all citizens, and the youths in particular, to shun all negative tendencies as manifested in the recent hijacking of peaceful protests to loot and destroy public and private property.
According to a statement by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, Buhari urged that as Muslims in Nigeria join others all over the world to mark the Eid-el-Maulud, citizens should use the occasion to reflect on the virtues of the Holy Prophet by showing love and understanding for fellow citizens while exhibiting patience, honesty, sincerity, kindness and generosity in all their undertakings.
In a message to Muslims commemorating the birthday of Prophet Mohammed (SAW) Buhari reiterated his earlier promise to bring police officers responsible for misconduct as well as the looters to justice.
While noting that the country has so far managed the COVID-19 pandemic successfully by keeping the numbers as low as possible, he cautioned that Nigerians must not stretch their luck too far.
He, therefore, advised all citizens to continue to observe the COVID-19 protocols of social distancing, wearing of face masks, washing of hands and using hand sanitizers.
In its goodwill message, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), urged Nigerians, particularly leaders, to use the occasion of Eid-el Maulud celebrations to kindle a national rebirth with actions that would reassure the people, reinforce the stability, unity and peaceful co-existence.
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, it also charged Nigerians irrespective of religious belief to pray for God’s intervention in the current social, economic and security challenges confronting the country.
It urged the Federal Government to promote discourse and policies that will restore unity and calm frayed nerves in the country.
Similarly, the All Progressives Congress (APC) pleaded with Nigerians to be circumspect, humane and measured in their utterances and actions.
APC, in a statement issued by it Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, urged Nigerians to resist individuals and interests that sow seeds of discord capable of inciting violence and dividing Nigerians along religious, ethnic and other perceived lines.
Lawan preaches peace, love,
President of Senate Ahmad Lawan, reiterated the commitment of the ninth National Assembly to the entrenchment of processes that would encourage the youth to tap their talents and pursue their dreams for the elevation of Nigeria.
Shun divisive actions, Buhari urges Nigerians [SUN]
President Muhammadu Buhari has appealed to Nigerians to desist from actions and comments that could jeopardise the unity and progress of the nation.
President Buhari, who spoke during the launch of the 2021 Armed Forces Remembrance Day (AFRD) Emblem and Appeal Fund, said this year’s occasion reminded Nigerians of the need to guard jealously the unity of the nation which was won at great cost.
The president, who stressed that “Nigeria’s strength lies in her diversity” honoured the memory of the nation’s fallen heroes and veterans, recounting their sacrifices during the First and Second World Wars, the Nigerian Civil War and Peace Support Operations around the world.
He paid tribute to men and women currently engaged in internal security operations, particularly the ongoing fight against insurgency, terrorism and armed banditry in some parts of the country, praising them for remaining steadfast in the difficult task of restoring peace and security despite the coronavirus pandemic.
“We honour the memory of our gallant officers and men who have paid the supreme sacrifice in order to keep the country united as one entity.
“The nation remains grateful for the efforts and sacrifice of the armed forces, especially in the fight against insurgency and other internal security challenges confronting Nigeria.
“The Armed Forces Remembrance Day or Veterans Day as it is known in some parts of the world is an important event observed in commemoration of the end of the Second World War.”
On security operations in the North West and North Central, President Buhari expressed delight at the return of normalcy in some of the areas that previously witnessed security challenges.
“However, all hands must be on deck to check attacks on soft targets,” he said.
According to a statement by Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, Buhari restated that his administration would continue to forge useful alliances with neighbours and friends in the international community for the total defeat of the security threats affecting the sub-region.
He pledged that under his watch the armed forces would operate with the best modern warfare equipment, with welfare issues receiving utmost attention.
“We are quite aware that it is our responsibility to provide a conducive environment that is devoid of security threats.
“I want to re-assure Nigerians that security being one of the pillars of this administration will continue to be at the forefront until peace and security are restored in the country,” he said.
He reassured Nigerians of his administration’s commitment to creating an environment in which all citizens and foreigners are guaranteed freedom and returns on investments.
Meanwhile, President Buhari has administered oath of office to Isa Kwarra as chairman, National Population Commission.
Other members who also took oath of office were Ibrahim Mohammed, (Bauchi); Ayodeji Ajayi (Ekiti), Joseph Kwai Shazin, (FCT) , Garba A. Garba (Jigawa), Bala Almu Banya, (Katsina); Alhaji Razaq Gidado, (Kwara); Mrs Bimbola Salu-Hundeyin, (Lagos), Ali Silas Agara (Nasarawa).
Others were Muhammed Chuso A. Dottijo, (Sokoto); Mai Aliyu Mohammad (Yobe), and Muhammadu Muktar Rini (Zamfara).