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SOMETHING extraordinary is happening in Northern Nigeria, alias Arewa. The sons of the poor are up in arms. In cahoots with foreigners from far and near, they are killing their own kinsmen, women and children.

By Ochereome Nnanna

They are kidnapping them for multimillion naira ransoms, destroying their own communities and driving away the elite to Abuja. The poor are fleeing in droves to the South.

The evil seeds sown over the past 218 years by the founders of Sokoto Caliphate, the most backward Islamic system in the world, have grown and are bearing fruits in multiple folds. Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and a host of other Mid-Eastern peaceful and prosperous countries are also rooted in the Islamic culture.

Arewa and the wider Nigeria society it controls are fractured because of the unwholesome exploitation of Islam by founders of Sokoto Caliphate. It is a system that keeps the elite in snug opulence without any regard for the grassroots.

It is highly oppressive, wicked and bloody. It operates by divide and rule. It is an enterprise rooted on fraud and corruption; a pirate system which is incapable of building an inclusive, prosperous country.

Meaningful development has stalled all over Nigeria because we surrendered our birthrights to the political buccaneers of the Caliphate. We are all drowning in the rot foisted upon us by this evil system. Those of us who complain are called names.

What is happening in the North is a revolt of the oppressed grassroots against the system. In the North West, the Fulani herdsmen, who have been downtrodden by their own powerful and affluent kinsmen, have also taken up arms.

They are killing everything in sight and abducting those they can lay their hands on for ransom. They are rustling cattle and creating little empires of their own in the ungoverned spaces of the Sahelian wilderness.

They will soon start setting up political territories. Take it to the bank: The Bandit Terrorists will soon adopt a political agenda and position themselves for an Islamic theocracy to upstage the Sokoto Caliphate. Indeed, that was what Sheikh Ahmad Gumi tried to persuade them to do.

The Bandit Terrorists are mainly Fulani nomadic herdsmen who were kept in the bushes to rear livestock for their affluent and powerful kinsmen who call the shots in the government houses and bureaucracies, emir’s palaces and mosques. For over two centuries, their own powerful kinsmen kept them marginalised, feeding fat from their nomadism.

While the “home” Fulani freeloaded off the milk and honey of Nigeria, sending their pampered children to the best schools in the world, the “bush” Fulani had no access to modern education, health, other basic amenities. They lived with their livestock among wild animals. The world passed them by.

Meanwhile, the forests in which they grazed their animals were rapidly being converted to farms and housing/industrial projects by the owners and governments. For instance, those who used to graze their animals in today’s Abuja have nowhere to go.

Unlike the more progressive Igbo, Yoruba and other tribes which embraced education and created free escape routes from poverty for their grassroots, the Fulani elite, in their blind selfishness, kept their own cousins hidden in the bushes. Only Professor Jibril Aminu, as an education minister, lobbied General Ibrahim Babangida of the need for “nomadic education”.

It was a carbon copy of Muhammadu Buhari’s “Ruga”. Aminu’s “nomadic education” did not raise much eyebrow because it was not presented like “Ruga”, a land-grabbing ploy, as it was perceived, especially in the South. The scheme, however, collapsed shortly after Babangida left power.

Many of the nomads were already turning to crime, mainly cattle-rustling, when some desperate Fulani political leaders plotted to use them to force their way back to power after Buhari lost the 2011 election.

The story of how local and foreign Fulani were assembled in the bushes of Zamfara and Niger, armed and trained to come out and fight if Buhari lost the 2015 election, is in the public arena. No one has refuted it till date. They were promised land all over Nigeria. When the politicians were not forthcoming, the attacks started.

Buhari spent the best of the past six and half years trying to force indigenous landowners to give up their ancestral patrimonies for the settlement of nomads. The moves came in several forms: “Ruga”, “Cattle Colonies”, “Grazing Reserves”, “Grazing Routes”, National Livestock Transformation Plan, “Water Resources Bill”, and others.

Meanwhile, armed herdsmen conducted waves of attacks on farmers and indigenous communities with law enforcement and security agencies doing little to stop them. Indeed, individuals and communities which tried to defend themselves were harassed and arrested.

The Federal Government even sent the military to the South East to hunt down people suspected to be members of the Eastern Security Network, ESN, which was established by the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, IPOB, to defend their people against armed Fulani herdsmen invaders.

These were desperate measures taken by the ruling Fulani elite under Buhari to force indigenous Nigerians to pay for the Fulani neglect of their own grassroots. But, of course, it has not worked; will never work.

It has only led to unrequited bloodshed and the needless stigmatisation of an ethnic group that many Nigerians used to admire for their beauty, exotic culture and deft political and administrative acumens.

Now that the North West bandits have been declared as terrorists like Boko Haram, we must bring them to heel. After that, nomadism should be outlawed and nomads brought into the civilised population to live under the law as normal humans and citizens.

The foolish attempts to seize lands from indigenous people for allocation to the nomads must continue to be resisted till they drop it. The dog cannot eat excrement while the goat suffers rotten mouth!

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Birthdays are special days. And today is Madam Patricia Nwabugo Nweke’s day. Her family paid a moving tribute to her:

On a day like this, a virtuous woman was born into the family of Mr and Mrs Ikeobi. A woman of substance who is married to Elder Nweke is a mother of 6 beautiful children and a grandma of 4 kids and counting.

She’s indeed the best wife, mother, grandma, sister and friend anyone would ever ask for. A hardworking and successful woman filled with love, kindness and with a heart of gold.

We want to use this medium to wish her the very best on this special day and to pray for her to live long, healthy, and prosperous.

We wouldn’t have asked for anything else if not you Mummy.

Thank you for all you do and may the beautiful smiles and joy that comes with this birthday never seize in you life. God bless, strengthen and protect you Mum. We love you so much 😘😘

Cheers 🥂 to a brand-new year. Cheers to good life too. Happy birthday Mum

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Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu (left) at a meeting with the Inter-agency Consultative Committee on Security in Abuja… yesterday. PHOTO: LUCY LADIDI ATEKO

• Igini: BVAS didn’t fail, it put an end to exaggerated election results

• 2023 elections fascinating, positive, says outgoing British envoy

Ahead of Saturday’s governorship and state Assembly elections, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, and the National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Monguno, have warned politicians and their supporters against causing mayhem that might disrupt the smooth conduct of the polls.

The NSA specifically vowed that the Federal Government would deal decisively with anyone who attempts to disrupt the March 18 polls.

The duo gave the warning, yesterday, during the Inter-agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) held at INEC’s headquarters in Abuja.

Yakubu, who called on political parties and their members, to remain peaceful during and after the elections, said Saturday’s election would be more intense and a bit complicated.

According to him, unlike the first round of elections involving 470 constituencies, Saturday’s election will involve 1,021 constituencies.

The INEC boss said the election would require more collation centres and will need the deployment of more security personnel.

His words: “ Governorship elections will hold in 28 states. Governorship elections in eight states (Anambra, Bayelsa, Edo, Ekiti, Imo, Kogi, Ondo and Osun) are held off-cycle and therefore not conducted during the general elections. However, elections will be conducted for all the 993 state constituencies nationwide.

“Our state offices have made available to the Nigeria Police Force, being the lead agency in election security, the delimitation details for the elections, including locations of Polling Units and Collation Centres. On that basis, we expect a coordinated deployment plan in synergy with other security, intelligence, law enforcement and safety agencies.

“Unlike the last election involving 470 constituencies (1 Presidential, 109 Senatorial districts and 360 House of Representatives seats), the state elections will involve 1,021 constituencies (28 governorship and 993 state Assembly seats). There will also be more candidates involved and more collation centres to protect.

“They are also local elections involving keen contests. It is, therefore, important for parties and candidates to speak to their agents and supporters to see the elections as a contest and not war. They should refrain from acts of violence that may mar the elections or compromise the security of our personnel, observers, the media and service providers,” he said.

On his part, Monguno urged politicians, especially at the state level to demonstrate equal level of maturity and discipline by calling their supporters to conduct themselves in a peaceful manner.

“Anybody thinking to undermine the process should please think again because that won’t be in his or her interest or the nation’s interest.”

MIKE Igini, a former INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Akwa Ibom State, said the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) functioned optimally in the presidential election, despite observed technical glitches.

INEC had extended the voting time beyond 4:00p.m. in some places to make up for the time lost. However, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) also cited BVAS failure as one of the factors that affected the efficiency of the election.

But commenting on the concerns during an Arise TV interview yesterday, Igini said it was incorrect to say BVAS failed. He said findings from an ongoing review of previous elections showed that the BVAS significantly reduced exaggerated figures from being uploaded.

“The BVAS, as I said and I will repeat and reiterate here, functioned. The BVAS delivered, BVAS won. It’s grossly incorrect to suggest that BVAS failed at the just concluded presidential election.

“The BVAS put an end to the invidious figures that were posted in several parts of the country in previous elections.”

THE outgoing British High Commissioner in Nigeria, Catriona Laing, has described the presidential and National Assembly elections as fascinating and offered future assurance for democratic governance in the country.

The British envoy made the declaration at the Senate wing of the National Assembly, yesterday, while fielding questions from journalists after a courtesy call on the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan.

She said despite contestation on the process of the election by some political actors, it was fascinating and portends bright future for the country.

She said: “I made very good friends. I love Nigerian music a lot. The culture here is so rich. The politics in Nigeria is so fascinating. I was here till the last election and I finished with this election and I’m impressed with Nigeria’s democratic journey.

“Yes, a bit of setback, but overall, I see this as positive and Nigeria should be proud, but with a remarkable difference when I came in 2019.”

She added: “Nigeria is the biggest democracy in Africa. The world watches your progress to democracy.

“Though there were some disappointments in the last election, overall, every Nigerian should be proud because since 1999, Nigeria has been on the right track as far as participatory democracy is concerned.

“The election here is very different and fascinating as you are moving to a three-party system or maybe even four. I think Nigerians as well should realise that their votes count,” she added.

The Senate President, in his remarks, commended the British envoy on her positive disposition to the country. He tasked her with help in strengthening bilateral relations between Nigeria and Britain.

Also, the Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, poured encomiums on Laing for her selfless service and collaborative efforts with the Nigerian Parliament during her five-year assignment in the country.

Gbajabiamila said during her term, she provided a lot of support to the House, which he said was helpful to the Parliament.

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Owie Osadebamen, the husband of Elizabeth Osadebamwen, who was shot dead during the February 25 presidential and National Assembly elections in Edo State, shares his grief with ADEYINKA ADEDIPE

What is your relationship with the deceased?

My name is Owie Osadebamen. The late Elizabeth Owie Osadebamwen was my wife. We met over 10 years ago when I was working in a bank. She was a customer at that time and was very lively whenever she came into the banking hall. We got talking and started a relationship. We got married on September 14, 2013.

How will you describe her?

She was a family person who placed importance on the family as an institution. She was nice, caring, lively and fun to be with. She always exhibited joy. Before I met her, I thought I was generous, but when I met her, I found out that she was more generous than me. She put people first and she was always available to offer help. She was a perfect mother who was loved by her kids and they are still very wonderful despite the demise of their mother.

Was she politically active or a member of a political party?

She was never involved in politics. However, she decided to vote this time round so that she could be part of the move to bring a positive change to the country. She went to cast her vote for Peter Obi. That was the first time she voted.

Was she a member of the ‘Obidient’ movement?

She was a part of the Obidient movement but she did not belong to any support group that I know of. She was a staunch supporter of Obi.

What made you think she was a strong Obi supporter?

Whenever she met people she used to ask to know who they would vote for. For those who did not support Obi, she used to talk to them at length about the need to support the Labour Party’s candidate. She also encouraged people to get their permanent voter cards and she had to change her polling unit from our previous place of residence to the Ogheghe area just to be able to vote.

Can you recall your last moment with her?

When she woke up that morning, she greeted me, did the household chores and moved to her polling unit to cast her vote. She opted to walk, but after talking to her, she decided to mount a motorcycle to the venue. There was no sign to suggest that it could be the last time I would see her when she left home that morning. It was a normal day and I looked forward to her coming back but unfortunately, she was killed that day.

How did the news of her death get to you?

I actually called her in the afternoon of that fateful day but she didn’t take her call. When she called back, she said she had cast her vote and she would be at home later, but she never came back alive. The news got to me between 7.30pm and 8pm that day. I am sure the incident happened before then.

Who notified you about her death?

Someone called one of my late wife’s adopted daughters, who handed over the phone to me. The person said she heard that the polling unit where my wife cast her vote was invaded by those who killed her.

How did you find her corpse?

When I got there (the polling unit), some people were still around and they showed me where her body was. I believed she was alive, so I took her to two hospitals where she was rejected.

Where was she pronounced dead?

Was she alive when you got to the scene of the incident?

To me, she was still alive and that might be due to the fact that it was difficult to come to terms that she was dead. Even when they pronounced her dead at the specialist hospital, I insisted that she was still alive and that they should do something. But they didn’t because they had confirmed that she was dead.

Did you report the incident to the police and what action have they taken?

Actually, I did not report the case personally, but my family members did at the police station near Christ Embassy on Sapele Road. They were told that the case had been transferred to the force headquarters.

What is the latest about the case?

Well, we all know how cases like this are treated due to their political nature. However, the police said the case was under investigation and that the perpetrators would be brought to justice.

How is the family of your late wife taking the news of her death?

Her parents are dead but her uncles, aunts, brother and sister are as sad as I am. Her children have been moody, but they just have to stay strong because of their education and make their late mother proud.

The state government and some leaders of the Labour Party paid condolence visits to you. What kind of support are you getting from them?

The Labour Party has not done anything. I have not heard anything from them. However, I heard that the governor promised to support the family with N2m. And since the governor made the pronouncement, those who initially wanted to help all pulled back. But as we speak now, the government has yet to redeem the pledge.

Has your wife’s death affected what you think about elections in Nigeria and voting as a civic responsibility?

It is a duty the citizens have to perform but they have to be careful because some people go to election venues with a bad agenda. If you know you can’t wait after casting your ballot, you can go home. If you decide to wait for the votes to be counted and there is an outbreak of violence, quickly leave the venue. For me, it will be difficult to take part in any election soon.

Do you suspect anyone or a group of people as perpetrators of the crime?

 I don’t know those responsible or suspect anyone or a group of people but hopefully, they will be arrested and brought to justice. I need the support of the public to ensure that the family does not lack support. It’s not going to be easy for me.

Do you intend to take any action to seek justice for her?

We are planning a one-million-man march for her. The plan is on and when it is perfected, we will make it public. We will also use the march to demand justice as many people have been calling me from home and abroad to ask what is being done to arrest the culprits.

When will she be buried?

I intend to bury her remains in one of the properties I acquired. Hopefully, her family from Delta State will show understanding and allow her remains to be buried here (in Edo).

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