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GROUP CHARGES FG OVER MILITARY INVASION OF BENUE VILLAGES

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Following the Friday’s military invasion of some villages in Shangeiv-Tiev area of Konshisha Local Government of Benue State where over 100 lives were reportedly lost, resulting from a militia attack on the army convoy in which some soldiers were killed and others missing within the area, a group, Shangev-Tiev Assembly (STA) has charged the Federal Government of Nigeria and other concerned bodies to intervene in the situation, withdraw military presence, bring offenders to book and bring a lasting solution to the communal crisis that led to the upheaval.

In a press statement titled PRESS RELEASE ON THE ON-GOING MILITARY INVASION AND GRUESOME KILLING OF THE UNARMED PEOPLE OF SHANGEV-TIEV, KONSHISHA LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA, HELD ON THE 9th APRIL, 2021 IN MAKURDI, BENUE STATE, the group writes:

It is common knowledge that the communal crisis between the people of Mbator in ShangevTiev of Konshisha Local government and the Okpute of Oju local government of Benue state has endured several decades. Several attempts by stakeholders from both sides to bring it to an end have not yielded the desired results. When the crisis resurfaced, a peace meeting was initiated and a committee inaugurated by the Benue State government on the 22nd June 2020. Certain positive recommendations were made by committee to the government of Benue but unfortunately, the state government did not show any serious commitment towards its implementation.

Unfortunately also, the Okpute, people under the financier of one Major General, continued to use the Nigerian army and the Igede militia to carry out series of unprovoked attacks on our people. Following these wanton destruction and continued attacks, raping of our wives and daughters on our soil, the Shangev Tiev Assembly utterly condemn the unprofessional conduct of men of the Nigerian Armed Forces in a crisis situation like ours. It is rather disheartening to note that the trained senior officers are allegedly responsible for some of these security challenges in the area.

A Wounded Youth From The Invasion

In as much as we wail our dead, we unequivocally condemn in strongest terms, the alleged killing of the military officers. We also express our deepest sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims and to the Government of Nigeria, and equally express our heartfelt condolences to the families of our beloved unarmed and defenceless people who have been killed by the Nigerian Army.

Related: ZAKI BIAM: The Untold Story of Military Killings in Benue

As a peace loving people of Shangev-Tiev, Konshisha Local Government Area of Benue State- Nigeria, we wish to draw the attention of the general public and request the timely intervention to the on-going senseless killings of unarmed and peaceful people of Shangev-Tiev.

Property Demolished During the Invasion

The general public may wish to know that the Nigerian Army has consistently deployed fighter-helicopters that operate on daily basis and scores of armoured vehicles that continually shelled sophisticated firepower to kill and destroy property of our people. The army has so far razed and demolished farms, schools, hospitals and residences of Bonta, Tse-Jembe, Tse-Anyom, Gbinde, Mbaakpur, Aku, Agidi, Gungul, Adoka, Guleya, Awajir, Shiliki, Achoho and Ullam in Gwer Local Government Area, and are still planning to do same to other neighbouring towns within Konshisha Local Government Areas of Benue state.

According to Section 33 (1) of the Nigerian Constitution, ‘Persons living in Nigeria, shall have a right to life and no one shall be deprived intentionally of his life unless in execution of the sentence of a court of a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty’. We are confused on what the Right to Life mean in this context. Our unarmed people are being killed intentionally in large numbers by armed personnel of the Nigerian Army. Presently, over 70 persons are reported dead and more than 100 people are missing, mostly women, children and the elderly and hundreds of thousands displaced with its attendant humanitarian consequences.

The members of the Shangev-Tiev Assembly reaffirm that insecurity in all its forms and manifestations constitute one of the most serious threats to national unity and peace. We reiterate that any act of banditry is criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of any aclaimed motivation, wherever, whenever and by whomsoever. We reaffirm the need for government at all levels to combat criminality within the provisions of the extant laws of the land. We wish to further state here that the Nigerian military is recruited, trained and remunerated by tax-payers money and is vested with the constitutional duty to defend the territorial integrity of the country against internal insurrection and external aggression. We make bold to question the the rules of miliatry engagement in quelling communal crises. Does the communal conflict between (Mbator) Shangev-Tiev of Konshisha LGA and the (Okpute) Igede of Oju LGA constitute an insurrection or external aggression? THE ANSWER IS A CAPITAL NO! Suffice to add that there are always rules of engagement in any internal security operations by the military. For what reason, whatsoever, would a military turn its arms and ammunition on a defenseless, pauperized, neglected and already traumatized civilian population? Who ordered the operation? Was the conflict beyond the capacity of the Mobile Police Force?. Nigeria has an avalanche of violent criminality, including terrorism, insurrectionism, banditry, kidnapping etc, none these is found in our community. Yet, the military is hugely found wanting in contending the various forms of violence that threaten the corporate existence of the Nigerian State. This level of lawlessness and impunity in Nigeria is at variance with democratic principles and conflict management styles. Curiously, the Defence Headquarters claimed that the Operation Whirl Stroke was ambushed while on a routine patrol. Granted that they were; however, the questions begging for answers are: Has the area ever being under siege by bandits at any point in time? Why are the government officers inconsistent in their statements on who invited the army officers where no single police officer was on ground? These and many more questions need to be answered. It should be noted that upon the inauguration of the President and Commander in-Chief of The Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the President swore to defend the lives and property of all Nigerians. Can we be right to state that the on-going military pogrom on our people is at variance with the oath he took? We therefore, pray that authorities concerned should save us from the on-going military invasion and onslaught on unarmed people of Shangev-Tiev. Actions sought:  The on-going killing of our unarmed and defenceless people and destructions of property by Nigeria Army should henceforth be stopped.

 The government should order the withdrawal of armed personnel from a Major General’s home town (Okpute) to show fairness to all parties

 The Benue State government should ensure that the land under dispute is amicably demarcated.

 A panel of enquiry to include civil society organizations should be setup to investigate the remote and immediate causes of the crises and the roles of the military. Anyone found wanting should be punished in accordance with the laws of them land.

 Compensations should be given to all victims in Shangev Tiev community.

Oche Onu Reports

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HOW RACHEL ONIGA DIED AT 64

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Veteran movie actress, Rachel Oniga has passes away on Friday. According to the family, the actress died of heart disease.

The actress reportedly died Friday night in a hospital in Lagos.

In a statement yesterday by the deceased’s sister, Deaconess Toyin Odusote, Oniga, who passed away at the age of 64, had been battling the ailment for some time now.

The statement read in part:

“With a heavy heart and total submission to God, we write to announce the passing of our beloved sister, mother and grandmother, Chief Rachel Tabuno Oniga .

“She died in a Lagos hospital at the age of 64 , on Friday, July 30, 2021 at about 10 pm.

“Contrary to diverse reports informing that she died of COVID-19 complications, we write to inform the general public that she died of heart related issue, an ailment she battled for a short period before her demise.

“We accept her sudden transition as God’s design and we see it as a function of a race of life well finished.

“Painful as it may, we accept it in good faith and total submission to her Maker.

“We, therefore, desire to be allowed to mourn her death privately for now, as we do cause with deep sense of respect for her soul and the glorious life she lived.”

Burial arrangement would be announced in due course by the deceased’s family, the statement promised.

The deceased reportedly had been on Kunle Afolayan’s movie set in Mowe area of Ogun State since last week.

Biography and Profile of Rachael Oniga

An indigene of Eku in Delta State, Oniga was born on 23 May 1957 in Ebutte Metta, Lagos State. She began her acting career in 1993, shortly after her divorce. She worked briefly at Ascoline Nigeria Limited, a Dutch Consultant Company before her first movie titled Onome and her debut Yoruba movie was Owo Blow. Over the years, Oniga has featured in notable Nigerian films such as Sango, a movie scripted by Wale Ogunyemi, produced and directed by Obafemi Lasode and Wale Adenuga’s television series, Super story.She was one of the famous Nigerian Actresses who played a role of a mother in movies. Although featured mostly in Yoruba movies, she was also active in Nollywood English movies.Among the movies she featured are Sango in 1997, Out of Bounds in 1997, Owo Blow 1997, Passion of Mind in 2004, Power Of Sin, Restless Mind and Doctor Bello in 2013, 30 Days in Atlanta in 2014, The Royal Hibiscus Hotel in 2017, Power of 1 in 2018, The Wedding Party and My Village People 2021.

Oniga is survived by three children and several grandchildren.

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EXPECT DEVASTATING FLOOD, FG Tells Benue, Others.

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Benue State and all the states around the Rivers Benue and Niger basin including the FCT should expect to experience devastating flood between August and October, the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA), has predicted.

NIHSA, an agency of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, earlier predicted the recent flooding in Lagos, Nasarawa, Anambra, Abia, Kwara, Kaduna, Rivers, Enugu, Borno and Ondo states as a result of heavy local rainfalls. The situation was aggravated by poor drainage system.

The Director-General of the Agency, Engr. Nze Clement Onyeaso, in an interactive session with journalists in Abuja on Wednesday, said all areas earlier identified as flood prone this year as well as those along the Rivers Niger and Benue might likely begin to experience more devastating flooding from the end of August.

“Nigeria is located within the River Niger Basin which is occupied by nine countries namely Benin, Burkina- Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Cote d’Ivore, Guinea, Mali, Niger and Nigeria. Nigeria is located at the lowest position of the Basin and this means that once the upper catchment of the Basin gets flooded, Nigeria should be prepared to experience flooding. The period of flooding in these upstream countries is August and September of every year,’’ he said

According to the DG, NIHSA was monitoring the development as the world approaches these critical months, adding that the agency would also continue to monitor Cameroonian authorities with regards to flood scenarios in the upper catchment of the sub-basin.

Nze Clement Onyeaso,

Engr. Nze warned Lagosians against the practice of dredging and sound filling the Atlantic Ocean, to build what they usually call model cities like those in Lekki and Banana Island, saying such may, in the future, pose serious threats.

As part of the preparation for the expected floods, the DG called on Nigerians, especially the state governments to be fully prepared by ensuring cleaning of blocked drainage system and canals remove refuse, weeds, water hyacinths and floats on water channels.

The Agency had earlier predicted that 121 LGAs in 27 states and FCT might experience severe flooding this year.

Oche Onu writes from Lagos

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Abducted Uni. Agric Makurdi Students Released

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Two abducted students of the Federal University of Agriculture Makurdi (FUAM), in Benue State, have been released by their abductors.

An unspecified number of students were reportedly taken away at gunpoint on Monday while studying in a theatre hall at the College of Engineering on campus, the school authority declared.


Their release was confirmed on Wednesday by the institution’s Director of Information, Protocol and Public Relations (IPPR), Mrs Rosemary Waku, Who disclosed that the students have regained their freedom.

Waku said two of the kidnapped victims were freed from their captivity on Tuesday while the others (unspecified) earlier escaped from their abductors.

“The students of FUAM that were kidnapped have been released.

“The two students, Israel Farren Kwaghgee and Solomon Salifu came back to campus yesterday (27/4/21),” the IPPR director stated.

According to Waku, the released students were “currently” undergoing medical attention.

In the same vein, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) for Benue command, DSP Catherine Anene, confirmed the release of the abducted students:

“Kidnapped students of the University of Agriculture have been released unhurt. Investigation into the case continues please,” she said.

Anene added that no ransom was paid.

There were however no further explanations from the two authorities about the circumstances surrounding the release of the students. Their abductors had earlier allegedly placed a demand of N21 million for their freedom.

Oche Onu writes

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