Fear as cultists, armed robbers, others take advantage of security breakdown
Though security in the South-east of Nigeria has worsened as a result of the constant attacks by hoodlum tagged as unknown gunmen on security officials and their facilities, there is a new twist in the insecurity plaguing Anambra State.
The attacks on security facilities and security agents have practically caused a breakdown in conventional policing, with policemen now realising their vulnerability to attacks, thereby retreating from carrying out their duties the normal way they used to.
For example, policemen no longer conduct stop and search operations on major highways, just as TIM NIGERIA learnt that some police stations no longer open for duty, nor do they accept reports from members of the public, or even effect arrest any longer. This may be because of the damage caused to their facilities by the attacks.
On 10th June, it was gathered that gunmen in their numbers attacked Ojoto Police station in Idemili South Local Government Area of Anambra State. During the attack which happened in the afternoon, one Police Inspector was killed but the attackers were unable to burn down the police station as policemen on duty stood their ground.
An eyewitness said the hoodlums came in three Sienna vehicles, but were repelled by the policemen on duty. “We are in trouble in this State now. Nobody knows which way to follow again. The problems and tension being created in Anambra are too much for us to bear ” the eyewitness lamented. These attacks have contributed in crippling conventional policing in Anambra and other Southeast states.
But in Anambra, besides the reign of unknown gunmen, cultists and armed robbers have seized the opportunity to add to the fear in the State by having free reign.
TIM NIGERIA observes that no day passes by without incidences of armed robbery and cult killing. In many neighborhoods in towns of the state, including the state capital, armed robbers consisting of youths sack a whole street, moving from one end of the Street to the other, robbing shops and residential buildings, most times at day, without any form of challenge.
TIM NIGERIA can not exactly confirm which cult groups have been operating in the state, but in Awka, there are rampant cases of killings, most of which happen at day, with gun wielding youths accosting and shooting their targets in broad daylight. It is believed that most of those killed are cultists, who are being targeted by rival groups.
A source told TIM NIGERIA that majority of commercial tricycle operators in the capital city either belong to one cult or the other, just as their membership of such groups aide their operations in the town.
This much was given credence last week, when a leader of commercial tricycle riders in Unizik junction, Awka, popularly known as Prince was killed by suspected cultists.
Prince was shot on Thursday afternoon at Unizik Junction, Awka, and his body also severally cut by his assailants. It was gathered that his assailants arrived the area in a Toyota Sienna vehicle shortly after Prince himself arrived and parked his car inside the park, before strolling on foot to the gate of the tricycle park, before he was attacked.
“The men shot at him immediately, killing him on the spot, while using matchets to mutilate his body before leaving in their vehicle,” a source said. The source told our reporter that the killing of Prince, though cult-related was not also unconnected to a fresh tussle by a certain group to take over the collection of toll from tricycle riders in Awka.
The source said, “Even the state government knows who they are, and they also know the trouble between the rival factions. There is a big man who is in charge of collecting toll at bus stations in Awka, but the ones in charge of collecting tricycle toll want to upstage the ones collecting bus toll to add it to their revenue window. This tussle has been on for a while now, and you know that these Keke (tricycle) riders are mostly members of one cult or the other, so the tussle has taken the shape of cult rivalry.”
The slain Prince who is said to be newly married with a little daughter, hails from Ifitedunu in Dunukofia Local Government of Anambra State.
His death sparked tension in the Anambra State capital, as it is believed that his associates may move to avenge his death. The activities of cultists in the city has totally crippled night life as residents now retire to their homes as early as 7pm.
There is also a high spate of robbery in various parts of Anambra State. This has drawn concern from stakeholders in various communities, leading to the establishment of local security outfits. Like in Emma Nnaemeka Street, a neighborhood in Awka, leaders of the area have employed private security to ensure security in the area.
Also in Onitsha and Nnewi, the traditional rulers of the areas have established security agencies, funding them with operation vehicles, arms and ammunition. In Nkpor, Obosi and other areas, residents have resorted to self-help by meting jungle justice on criminals apprehended. Recently, a pickpocket in Onitsha who had picked a handkerchief from a victims pocket, mistaking it to be money was burnt to death. Also, in Obinagu area of Awka, three armed robbers who are said to have persistently terrorised the area in motorcycle were on Friday night apprehended and burnt alive.
A resident of the area, Mr Lawrence Ndu, a trader said, “these boys have made life very unbearable for us. Once it is 7pm, they move from shop to shop. If you come out as early as 6am, they are also there to collect your belonging. It is not the first time we are apprehending and killing thieves, but they keep coming.
The Public Relations Officer of the Anambra State Police Command, DSP Toochukwu Ikenga reacting to the spat of insecurity said the command has been working, contrary to speculations. He said investigations have been opened about most of the killings in the state. Reacting to the killing of Prince, Ikenga said, “Preliminary investigations revealed that it is a cult related clash. These are part of incidents the command is worried about. Just recently the command took campaign against such in a security summit with the youths at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka and we can assure you that we are extending the campaign to other parts of the community and stakeholders. Meanwhile, investigation is on going and patrol team have been deployed. Normalcy has been restored in the area,” he said.
Two suspected armed robbers who target bank customers nabbed in Delta state.
Two suspected armed robbers have been apprehended in Agbor, Ika South Local Government Area, Delta State, by the Agbor Gha-Ihun Security outfit.
According to reports, the arrest follows reports of customers being robbed after withdrawing money from various banks.
On October 13, the suspects, identified as Smart and Oluchukwu from Imo State, were apprehended near a bank while preparing to rob their victims of their money.
During interrogation, one of the suspects, Smart, admitted to being arrested previously after one of his failed missions.
“We are from Imo State and our mission is to steal. I am a father of two children. My wife and children are in Imo State. Some time ago, I caught by Agbor Youth Vigilante Group on one of my failed missions along Baleke market area. Oluchukwu and I started working together since this week. We feel bad that luck has run out on us,” he said.
Comrade Monday Kiyem, chairman of Agbor Gha-Ihun, told journalists that his team was on their way to a meeting with bank managers in Orogodo metropolis when they apprehended Smart and Oluchuwu at the arena of Bank, opposite Okoh Street in Agbor, while they were waiting for their victims.
“Barely five months ago, we apprehended Smart after one of his failed missions. It took our intervention that he escaped death as he was given the beating of his life.
“Smart escaped being jailed because nobody was standing for the case. Being an unrepentant thief, he has returned to stealing. Now, we will ensure that justice take its course.”
While stating that security is everybody’s business, Comrade Kiyem urged Ika residents especially those living in Orogodo metropolis to beef up security by reporting the hideout of criminals in their area.
“It will interest you to know that these evil perpetrators are not from Agbor. They are from either Anambra or Imo State. Before, we use to have two groups of kidnappers, they were the Fulani and Alifikede, but we were able to wipe them out,” he said.
“We want everyone to cooperate with us by giving us useful information on any suspicious movement within and outside the bank premises and within the residential areas. Our people have lost a lot of money and we don’t want that to happen again. Our sole responsibility is to protect lives and property. Our people have continued to allege that those encouraging this evil act are within the bank. Anybody caught will be severely punished.”
READ ALSO:Two Nigerian men sentenced to 40 years in jail for robbery in Ghana.
Sack workers over the age of 50, and levy anyone earning more than N30,000, Governors tells Buhari
To avert the country’s impending economic collapse, Nigerian governors have advised the federal government to retire all federal civil servants over the age of 50.
The governors also want the government to raise taxes across the board and levy anyone earning N30,000 or more per month.
The governors made the proposal during a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari
The proposal also urged the government to begin implementing the updated Stephen Oronsaye Report, which advocated for the merger and closure of agencies and parastatals with duplicated or contested functions in order to address bureaucratic inefficiency and lower the cost of governance.
Officials familiar with the meeting’s details said the governors were concerned about the state of the economy and presented the federal government with a proposal to restore fiscal discipline.
The federal civil service employs approximately 89,000 people but will spend approximately N4.1 trillion on personnel costs this year, out of a total N17 trillion budget for the country. It is unclear how many workers are over 50, or how much money they receive.
The suggestion comes as signs emerge that the country may be on the verge of economic collapse.
According to the online publication, Nigeria’s external reserves are only $15 billion, far less than the bank’s claimed $36 billion balance on gross external reserves. With the country spending N5.9 trillion on imports in the first three months of the year, $15 billion in reserves would barely cover four months of imports.
Last week, it was revealed that the balance in Nigeria’s Excess Crude Account had been significantly depleted, falling from $35.37 million to $376,655, leaving the country with no buffers to stabilize the economy and its currency. Another sign that the country was bankrupt recently emerged when debt service exceeded revenue.
According to details of the 2022 fiscal performance report for January through April, Nigeria’s total revenue stood at N1.63 trillion while debt servicing stood at N1.94 trillion, showing a variance of over N300 billion.
The governors advised the federal government to immediately reduce expenditure by eliminating petrol subsidies and NNPC-funded projects, to cap the Social Investment Programme (SIP) and National Poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy (NPRGS) budgets at N200 billion, to eliminate extra-constitutional deductions from FAAC, and to reduce SWV items for SDG and NASS Constituency projects.
According to sources, the governors also requested that the government reduce duplications (e.g., empowerment programs) and waste, reduce the one percent grant to NASENI to 0.2 percent, amend the Act in the 2022 Finance Bill, reduce personnel costs of federal government MDAs, and expedite the privatization of non-performing assets such as the NDPHC power plants.
Similarly, the governors urged that the 2023-2025 MTEF reflect the governors’ recommendations and the government’s commitment to restoring fiscal discipline, while the planned 22 percent salary increase in 2023 be reconsidered. They also stated that the fiscal deficit should be kept to no more than 2% of GDP in 2023-2025.
Foreign Exchange and Reserves
To conserve foreign exchange and increase reserves, the governors proposed that MDAs, including budgetary-independent agencies such as FIRS, NPA, NIMASA, and NCC, postpone foreign trips for at least one year.
They also urged the Ministry of Foreign Affairs not to issue Visa requests to foreign embassies for federal government officials and their families unless the presidency expressly approves.
The governors also proposed shifting from state income taxation to consumption taxation, arguing that with the implementation of a 3 percent federal income tax, state-level PIT should be eliminated.
Similarly, they proposed enacting state sales taxes (at a flat rate of 10%) for the 36 states and the FCT, increasing VAT levels to 10% with a timeline to raise it to 15% to 20%, and re-introducing and passing VAT into the Exclusive List. It was unclear whether all governors agreed with the move of VAT to the exclusive list.
To increase tax revenue, they proposed that the federal government impose a flat 3 percent Federal Personal Income Tax on all Nigerians earning more than N30,000 per month, with those earning less than N30,000 per month, whether employed or not, paying a monthly FPIT of N100.
Similarly, telecom companies and the NIMC should work together to ensure that this is deducted from individuals’ phone credit and linked to their NIN and BVN
The governors also proposed that all federal oil and non-oil taxes be collected by a single agency, the FIRS, while Customs, the NPA, and others assess and issue demands.
They proposed that the Federal Government increase crude oil and gas production, resolve lingering issues of gas ownership in PSCs (e.g., Nnwa-Doro, OML 129) to help position Nigeria to take advantage of European gas needs, and provide incentives to accelerate development of vandalism-resistant deep offshore fields such as Bonga SW (Shell), Preweoi (Total), Zabazaba (ENI), and Owowo (Exxon).
The governors also advised the government to encourage (and, if necessary, pre-finance) the Dangote Refinery’s early completion in order to reduce massive future outflows of foreign exchange.
READ ALSO: FULL ADDRESS: As President Buhari Presents To The National Assembly a N16.39 trillion Naira 2022 Budget
Festus Keyamo: Federal Government Cannot Borrow N1.1 Trillion to End ASUU Strike
Festus Keyamo, Minister of State for Labour and Employment, said on Friday that borrowing money to end the Academic Staff Union of Universities’ months-long strike was unrealistic.
He made the remark during an appearance on one the television channels.
“Should we borrow to pay N1.2 trillion a year?”
“You cannot allow one sector of the economy to hold you hostage and then blackmail you into borrowing N1.2 trillion for overheads when our total income would be around N6.1 trillion.” And you have to build roads, health centers, and other sectors.”
The Minister urged parents throughout the country to petition ASUU.
“Those who know them, like the President said the other time, appeal to their sense of patriotism,” he said.
“Let them go back to school.” They are not alone in Nigeria. They are not the only ones who benefit from federal funds. The nation cannot come to a halt because we want to meet ASUU’s demands.”
On February 14, ASUU began a four-week warning strike.
On March 14, the union extended the strike for another two months in order to allow the government to meet all of its demands. On May 9, a 12-week extension was announced.
The union has been on strike since May 9, vowing to continue until its demands are met.
Academics want better working conditions, the revitalization of public universities, and academic autonomy, among other things.
One point of contention for academics is the non-payment of N1.1 trillion in university revitalisation funds.
However, the Federal Government has stated that it does not have the funds to pay such a sum, citing low oil prices during the administration of Muhammadu Buhari.
According to reports, the agreement was reached in 2009.
Another issue is the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).
The University Transparency and Accountability Solution was proposed by academics as an alternative payroll system (UTAS).