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Stop Operation Positive Identification — Reps, NBA, CDHR tell Buhari

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President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday, was called by the House of Representatives amongst others to suspend Operation Positive Identification being planned by the Nigerian Army.

Several members of the House, who spoke on a motion by the Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu, condemned the operation as anti-people which allegedly posed threats to human rights.

Besides the lawmakers, Nigerian Bar Associations and other groups including Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, faulted the excercise.

The Army had last month  said it planned Operation Positive Identification in the North-East to flush out Boko Haram insurgents

But later on September 25,  it said the exercise would be extended to other parts of the country. It stated the exercise  would enable soldiers  to accost citizens on the streets or roads and ask them to produce a means of identification.

It said the exercise  would check bandits, kidnappers, armed robbers, ethnic militia, cattle rustlers, as well as other sundry criminals across the various regions of the country.

But in the House of Representatives on Tuesday,   lawmakers unanimously resolved that that the Nigerian Army should develop “a pro-people strategy in confronting our security challenges instead of measures that would further victimise the people.”

They also urged the President, being the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, to “review the situation and stop the Army from commencing the planned operation scheduled to begin on November 1, 2019, to make way for further consultations.”

The House also directed the Committee on Army to liaise with the Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen Tukur Buratai, to develop “a pro-people strategy in combating crimes before commencing same.”

Moving the motion, Elumelu said the OPI would “downgrade Nigerians to suspects and in fact conquered persons in their country, thereby stripping them of their constitutionally guaranteed freedom of movement.”

According to the Minority Leader, the operation is a recipe for possible militarisation of Nigeria.

He warned that the nationwide operation would also amount to an “indirect imposition of a state of emergency across the country by the Army.

Elumelu said military operations that had direct contact and regulation of civilians could result in “abuses and serious safety issues, especially at this time the nation is battling with the scourge of victimisation and extrajudicial killings.”

He said the planned implementation of OPI across the nation would rather worsen the security situation in the country.

Quit if you lack ideas, lawmaker urges security chiefs

A member, Ahmadu Jaha, criticised the security chiefs for the multiple code-named military operations across the country.

Jaha said, “I will like to emphasise that if our security chiefs are out of ideas, they should let Nigerians know about that so that they can voluntarily give way for other people who have new ideas on how to fight insecurity in this country.

“Travelling from Abuja to Maiduguri (Borno State capital), before linking the various local government areas, it takes not less 14 hours.  That is under normal circumstances. In the event whereby you (military) have to ask them (commuters) to identify themselves at different military checkpoints before they proceed, for God’s sake, how many days will take them to move from Abuja to Maiduguri or from Maiduguri to Chibok or from Maiduguri to Damboa or Maiduguri to Gwoza?

“So, this is basically not the work of the military but the work of the Nigeria Immigration Service. How do you tell a common man from my village that he must have an identity card before he moves around? This is a violation of fundamental human rights.”

Besides members of the House of Representatives, prominent lawyers and human rights groups condemned the exercise.

It is the height of insanity – SAN

A  Senior Advocate  of Nigeria, Chief Mike Ozekhome, in an interview with The PUNCH, said the entire National Assembly should throw its weight behind the call to suspend the Operation Positive Identification, which he described as “the height of insanity and madness”.

“They should withdraw that policy as urgently as possible,” Ozekhome told one of our correspondents on the telephone.

He said, “It should not just be the House of Representatives, it should be the entire National Assembly that should descend on this policy heavily, to show that it’s not a rubber-stamp National Assembly people were saying it would be.

“They should not just shout it, they should put it in their votes and proceedings, pass the resolutions, pass motions, and stop this maddening government from going madder and madder.

“It is the height of insanity for citizens to be told to produce their identity card or driving licence, or passport when they are on the streets of their country.

“I have never heard of that. Even the United States of America does not tell foreigners to produce their passports or driving licences when they go about their normal duties. That is why I said this policy is the height of insanity and madness.

“What it simply means is that on the day you forget your identity card or other means of recognition, at home, it means you are an illegal immigrant and will be deported immediately. The more we tend to excuse this government, the more it delves more and more into infamy.”

He called on the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to “remind itself that we are not in despotism, we are not in military dictatorship, we are not in absolutism, we are not in fascism; this is supposed to be a democracy not government for the few by the cabal and by the dictators.”

It is unlawful, ex-NBA 2nd VP

Also, a former Second Vice-President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr. Monday Ubani, said the plan by the army was unlawful.

He said, “I am in support of the suspension of the plan by the army. When I read about the plan in the media, I was wondering which law permitted the army to do such.

“Since the call for suspension of the plan is coming from the House of Representatives, it means no law has been made to give the army the power to embark on such a plan. It means it would have been an unlawful act by the army.”

CDHR writes Buhari

The CDHR in a letter to the President dated October 28 and signed by its National President, Dr Osagie Obayuwana, said, “Nigeria has outgrown the crudity of the military issuing warnings to the nation as a whole for a population of about 200 million persons to carry  valid means of identification whenever they are going out to avoid being seen as criminally minded by soldiers.

“We urge Mr President to rather pursue economic and social policies that will address the root cause of crime and win the confidence and cooperation of the majority of our people, as a way of reducing deviant behaviour to the barest minimum.

“The programme portends usurpation of police duties by soldiers who cannot be said to be well trained for civic duties.

“The operation will seriously infringe on the freedom of movement of the people of Nigeria, a right constitutionally protected by Section 41 of the 1999 constitution, which entitles every citizen to move freely throughout Nigeria.

“To our knowledge, no state of emergency has been declared to warrant this wholesale interference with the rights of the people.”

It is a big blunder – Group

Also,  the Chairman of the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law, Emeka Umeagbalasi,  said the exercise would be an avenue for extortion.

He stated, “Apart from being elitist and clear grounds for extortion or roadway bribery, indiscriminate arrests, abductions, torture, extra-judicial and unlawful killings and disappearances; it also expressly means that Nigerians or citizens without such elitist documents including the aging and the underage, automatically become kidnappers, armed robbers,  bandits,  arsonists, cultists and rapists.

“Coupled with the fact that over 70 per cent of federal roads in old Eastern Nigeria are in acute deplorable state, the so-called Operation Positive Identification is a deliberately designed punishment or roadway torture package meant to further keep road users or travellers for several hours.

“On the other hand, it is also in the wisdom of the Nigerian Army that kidnappers, armed robbers, bandits, arsonists and cultists do not possess voter card, driving licence’ or passport,  or other valid official identification.”

“Violent criminals  are like every other citizen with easy access to the named identification items. This is, therefore, the blunder of the highest order on the part of the Nigerian Army.”

The NBA said the military should leave  identification of persons to agencies like the police and immigration service, which it said were better equipped to handle it.

The National Publicity Secretary of the body of Nigerian lawyers, Kunle Edun, in an interview with The PUNCH, said, “Rather than the military being engaged in identification issues within the country, the Nigeria Immigration Service and the Nigeria Police that are better equipped for such tasks, should be allowed to perform their constitutional functions,” the NBA said.

Edun also said the military must act according to the law in embarking on the planned Operation Positive Identification.

He said, “Government is established to cater for the welfare and security of its citizens, not to cage them.

“In as much as the Nigerian military has the onerous responsibility of protecting the nation from external aggression and other serious conflict situations, the military is still a product of the law and must act in accordance with the known laws of the country.”

“The planned Operation Positive Identification by the Nigerian military has to be properly explained to Nigerians before it can commence.

“There has been no enlightenment of the limit, extent and circumstances under which a citizen might be asked by military personnel to produce evidence of identification.

“Is it an offence for one to fail to identify himself when there is no evidence of him having committed any offence? Would the military not use this exercise to go into private residences or offices of Nigerians and thereby intrude into their privacy? There are many questions yet unanswered.”

Army taking over other agencies’ duties, says CD

On its part, a civil society organisation, Campaign for Democracy, kicked against the army’s planned Operation Positive Identification. The CD added that such a development was not good for the country.

The CD National President, Usman Abdul, said, “When you come to millions of our citizens who are artisans, farmers and the like, you agree with me that a lot of them don’t have a means of identification and they have suffered over time even to be able to get the National Identity Card.

“Such steps by the army to begin to demand ID cards nationwide would amount to stepping out of its responsibilities. Absolutely the army has to reconsider such operation. It is not their responsibility to stop people and ask for ID cards. If at all, it is the duty of the police. The army should not take over the duties of the police and other agencies.”

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army Headquarters, Abuja, could not be reached for comment as of press time on Tuesday.

CDHR writes Buhari

The CDHR in a letter to the President dated October 28 and signed by its National President, Dr Osagie Obayuwana, said, “Nigeria has outgrown the crudity of the military issuing warnings to the nation as a whole for a population of about 200 million persons to carry  valid means of identification whenever they are going out to avoid being seen as criminally minded by soldiers.

“We urge Mr President to rather pursue economic and social policies that will address the root cause of crime and win the confidence and cooperation of the majority of our people, as a way of reducing deviant behaviour to the barest minimum.

“The programme portends usurpation of police duties by soldiers who cannot be said to be well trained for civic duties.

“The operation will seriously infringe on the freedom of movement of the people of Nigeria, a right constitutionally protected by Section 41 of the 1999 constitution, which entitles every citizen to move freely throughout Nigeria.

“To our knowledge, no state of emergency has been declared to warrant this wholesale interference with the rights of the people.”

It is being misinterpreted, says army source

But an authoritative army source, which asked not to be named, said the planned operation would go on, as all the misconceptions and issues about it had been resolved by the army authorities.

He said, “You know the army has several exercises which are ongoing or about to start, including the Positive Identification. Thereafter, the army has also called for a conference where these issues were explained over and over.

“The army has nothing to add or subtract. Whatever the security agencies do, the people must have one interpretation or the other. We don’t want to take issue with anybody.”

Army asks Nigerians to disregard fake alerts

But the Nigerian Army, later on Tuesday described as “a fake alert” insinuations that Nigerians would witness a large number of army personnel parading the roads to demand  identity cards.

The acting Director, Army Public Relations, Col Sagir Musa, sent an alert by one organization, Bricks, to one of our correspondents.

The organisation had said, “It has been officially declared that effective from November 1 to December 23, 2019, residents shall witness a large number of the uniformed Nigerian Army personnel parading the roads in an exercise known as Operation Positive Identification.

“The company has analysed the proposed situation and found this will result to certain disruptions.”

But in a photo caption, sent out on Tuesday evening together with the alert, Sagir described the information as fake.

The army spokesman put a bold red ”fake alert” across a security advisory issued by Bricks.

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Inside Nigeria

The Nigeria-Biafra war: Remembering the fearless heroes- photo-Gallery/video by Agu

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The Nigerian-Biafra-war

It was probably 15 years after the Nigerian -Biafran civil war ended that my thought process comprehended the full tragic impact it had on my family. The first time I saw four of my nephews, I wondered why they could not speak my dialect. Also, they had a last name that does not sound anything close to the language that I speak. I became inquisitive and began asking questions. My mother told me how the Nigerian soldiers took over my town and started kidnapping girls from my village. My senior sisters hidden inside the house Chimney were not spared after the soldier’s informant gave them away.
My father could not do anything to stop them. He came close to being killed by the same soldiers. He watched in utter shock how his girls got taken away. After that incident, my father left the village and never came back alive. It hurts to this day that i never get to know my father due to Nigerian-Biafran civil war. Anyway, this part of my story is reserved for another day.
Also, my nephews of Yoruba extract never had a father-son-relationship with their Yoruba fathers. Their lives were equally shattered. The entire Eastern- Nigeria is still a conquered place. Daily, you will think the war is not over.
Today, as we remember those who died during the Nigeria-Biafra civil war, let me leave you with this memory. I would also implore you to read this article ‘Buried for 50 years: Britain’s shameful role in the Biafran war”.
See the shocking footages and photo gallery,

Buried for 50 years: Britain’s shameful role in the Biafran war

A million children starved to death. I’m haunted by the images I saw there – and by the complicity of the Wilson government

t is a good thing to be proud of one’s country, and I am – most of the time. But it would be impossible to scan the centuries of Britain’s history without coming across a few incidents that evoke not pride but shame. Among those I would list are the creation by British officialdom in South Africa of the concentration camp, to persecute the families of Boers. Add to that the Amritsar massacre of 1919 and the Hola camps set up and run during the struggle against Mau Mau.

The northern and western regions were swept by a pogrom in which thousands of Igbo were slaughtered

But there is one truly disgusting policy practised by our officialdom during the lifetime of anyone over 50, and one word will suffice: Biafra.

This referred to the civil war in Nigeria that ended 50 years ago this month. It stemmed from the decision of the people of the eastern region of that already riot-racked country to strike for independence as the Republic of Biafra. As I learned when I got there as a BBC correspondent, the Biafrans, mostly of the Igbo people, had their reasons.

The federal government in Lagos was a brutal military dictatorship that came to power in 1966 in a bloodbath. During and following that coup, the northern and western regions were swept by a pogrom in which thousands of resident Igbo were slaughtered. The federal government lifted not a finger to help. It was led by an affable British-educated colonel, Yakubu Gowon. But he was a puppet. The true rulers were a group of northern Nigerian colonels. The crisis deepened, and in early 1967 eastern Nigeria, harbouring about 1.8 million refugees, sought restitution. A British-organised conference was held in Ghana and a concordat agreed. But Gowon, returning home, was flatly contradicted by the colonels, who tore up his terms and reneged on the lot. In April the Eastern Region formally seceded and on 7 July, the federal government declared war.

Biafra was led by the Eastern Region’s Oxford-educated former military governor, “Emeka” Ojukwu. London, ignoring all evidence that it was Lagos that reneged on the deal, denounced the secession, made no attempt to mediate and declared total support for Nigeria.

I arrived in the Biafra capital of Enugu on the third day of the war. In London I had been copiously briefed by Gerald Watrous, head of the BBC’s West Africa Service. What I did not know was that he was the obedient servant of the government’s Commonwealth Relations Office (CRO), which believed every word of its high commissioner in Lagos, David Hunt. It took two days in Enugu to realise that everything I had been told was utter garbage.

I had been briefed that the brilliant Nigerian army would suppress the rebellion in two weeks, four at the most. Fortunately the deputy high commissioner in Enugu, Jim Parker, told me what was really happening. It became clear that the rubbish believed by the CRO and the BBC stemmed from our high commissioner in Lagos. A racist and a snob, Hunt expected Africans to leap to attention when he entered the room – which Gowon did. At their single prewar meeting Ojukwu did not. Hunt loathed him at once.

My brief was to report the all-conquering march of the Nigerian army. It did not happen. Naively, I filed this. When my report was broadcast our high commissioner complained to the CRO in London, who passed it on to the BBC – which accused me of pro-rebel bias and recalled me to London. Six months later, in February 1968, fed up with the slavishness of the BBC to Whitehall, I walked out and flew back to west Africa. Ojukwu roared with laughter and allowed me to stay. My condition was that, having rejected British propaganda, I would not publish his either. He agreed.

But things had changed. British covert interference had become huge. Weapons and ammunition poured in quietly as Whitehall and the Harold Wilson government lied and denied it all. Much enlarged, with fresh weapons and secret advisory teams, the Nigerian army inched across Biafra as the defenders tried to fight back with a few bullets a day. Soviet Ilyushin bombers ranged overhead, dropping 1,000lb bombs on straw villages. But the transformation came in July.

Missionaries had noticed mothers emerging from the deep bush carrying children reduced to living skeletons yet with bloated bellies. Catholic priests recognised the symptoms – kwashiorkor or acute protein deficiency.

That same July the Daily Express cameraman David Cairns ran off a score of rolls of film and took them to London. Back then, the British public had never seen such heartrending images of starved and dying children. When the pictures hit the newsstands the story exploded. There were headlines, questions in the House of Commons, demonstrations, marches.

As the resident guide for foreign news teams I became somewhat overwhelmed. But at last the full secret involvement of the British government started to be exposed and the lies revealed. Wilson came under attack. The story swept Europe then the US.

Donations flooded in. The money could buy food – but how to get it there? Around year’s end the extraordinary Joint Church Aid was born.

The World Council of Churches helped to buy some clapped-out freighter aircraft and gained permission from Portugal to use the offshore island São Tomé as a base. Scandinavian pilots and crew, mostly airline pilots, offered to fly without pay. Joint Church Aid was quickly nicknamed Jesus Christ Airlines. And thus came into being the world’s only illegal mercy air bridge.

On a visit to London in spring 1969 I learned the efforts the British establishment will take to cover up its tracks. Every reporter, peer or parliamentarian who had visited Biafra and reported on what he had seen was smeared as a stooge of Biafra – even the utterly honourable John Hunt, leader of the Everest expedition.

Throughout 1969 the relief planes flew through the night, dodging Nigerian MiG fighters, to deliver their life-giving cargoes of reinforced milk powder to a jungle airstrip. From there trucks took the sacks to the missions, the nuns boiled up the nutriments and kept thousands of children alive.

Karl Jaggi, head of the Red Cross, estimated that up to a million children died, but that at least half a million were saved. As for me, sometimes in the wee small hours I see the stick-like children with the dull eyes and lolling heads, and hear their wails of hunger and the low moans as they died.

What is truly shameful is that this was not done by savages but aided and assisted at every stage by Oxbridge-educated British mandarins. Why? Did they love the corruption-riven, dictator-prone Nigeria? No. From start to finish, it was to cover up that the UK’s assessment of the Nigerian situation was an enormous judgmental screw-up. And, worse: with neutrality and diplomacy from London it could all have been avoided.

Biafra is little discussed in the UK these days – a conflict overshadowed geopolitically by the Vietnam war, which raged at the same time. Yet the sheer nastiness of the British establishment during those three years remains a source of deep shame that we should never forget.

Frederick Forsyth is a former war correspondent and an author

Guardian Service

Execution of Mathias Kanu, A Biafran by Nigeria Army
Execution of Mathias Kanu, A Biafran by Nigeria Army.mp4
Nigeria-Biafra War | Road to Umuahia | British TV Reporter Peter Sissons Shot & injured | Oct. 1968.mp4

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FG Directs NAFDAC to Evaluate Local COVID-19 Cures

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On Thursday, the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 Chairman, Mustapha,  said the PTF would continue to support efforts to invent a local cure for coronavirus,  adding that the ministry of health had started evaluating some claims.

He stated, “For some time now, there have been claims of inventions and cures related to COVID-19. The PTF, as part of its mandate, remains supportive of and receptive to outcomes of the research. It, however, finds it imperative to reiterate its position on the need for such discoveries to undergo the scientific validation processes.

“The PTF is aware that the Complementary and Alternative Medicine Department of the Federal Ministry of Health has been evaluating such claims and forwarded some that have met the preliminary requirements to the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control to carry out the necessary procedures for listing.”

Also, the ministry of health in its letter to the NAFDAC DG noted there was no definite treatment or vaccine for COVID-19.

It stated, “This has necessitated countries to look for solutions from within, and Nigeria is no exception. It is worthy to note that Nigeria is blessed with medicinal plants which could be exploited.

“It is heartwarming to note that the Department of the  TCAM has taken the pains to research into scientific materials to come up with a formulation intended for the management of cough in COVID-19 and other cough-related infections.”

According to the ministry, the formulation is a Cov-herbal cough mixture.

It said, “Interestingly, all the ingredients that make up the formulations are medicinal plants that are widely used as food materials and medicines.

“They include Allium Sativa (garlic); Allium cepa (onions); Zingiber officinale (ginger): Piper guineense (West African Black Pepper); and Adansonia digitata (baobab fruit). The innovation here is the composition of the formulation.

“These medicinal plants have documented scientific evidence of long use for the management of cough and other respiratory infections, with medicinal properties of mucoiytic, antitussive, expectorant, soothing, demulcent, anti-inflammatory and antiviral effects.”

The ministry stated that it was determined to “walk the talk” in the promotion and integration of herbal medicine into the health care delivery system.

“In view of the foregoing and the desire of the ministry to showcase to the public a product that is 100 per cent sourced locally, you are requested to carry out the necessary procedures for listing.”

On Thursday, NAFDAC Director of Public Affairs, Dr Abubakar Jimoh,  explained herbal drugs were listed after it had been confirmed that they were not toxic.

He, however, said that such listed drugs were not usually given full registration.

In a  related development, the leadership of NAFDAC  met with 35 players in the herbal and alternative medicine sector as part of efforts to find a treatment to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The virtual meeting, which was convened by the Director-General of NAFDAC,  had in attendance over 35  players in the herbal medicine sector including two professors of Pharmacognosis,  Maurice Iwu and Anthony Elujoba, who was once an acting Vice-Chancellor of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife.

Some others at the meeting were Prof. Martins Emeje of the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development; the Managing Director, Neimeth International Pharmaceuticals Plc, Matthew Azoji; and Prof. McDonald Edu of the Department of Plant Biology and Biotechnology, University of Benin.

Others are Executive Director, Yemkem International Group, Mr Akinyemi Ayeni; and Dr. Oluwatobi Abiola, Managing Director of Ablat Nigeria Limited, manufacturers of Yoyo Bitters.

The meeting also had in attendance representatives of the Ministry of Trade and Investment as well as the Department of Traditional and Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the Ministry of Health.

The meeting was the third edition of the Nigerian Herbal Medicine Product Committee symposium which seeks to explore herbal solutions to health challenges in the country

However, the NAFDAC DG said only one firm had so far approached the agency for approval, and it was for the treatment of the symptoms of COVID-19, not the virus itself.

Adeyeye said all claims must go through necessary testing before clinical trials can commence.

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Kogi is under pressure to announce false COVID-19 case — Dr. Saka Haruna

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On Thursday, the Kogi State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Saka Haruna, claimed in a statement that the state is under pressure to declare that it has COVID-19 cases where there is none.

He, however, said the state would not succumb to the pressure.

The statement followed a report, which claimed that four persons suspected to be COVID-19 patients had died at the Federal Medical Centre, Lokoja in the last one week.

He said that as the state commissioner for health, a member of the Governing Board of the FMC Lokoja, and also the incident manager for COVID-19 in the state, he had yet to be informed of any claimed cases.

“There is also a representative of the FMC Lokoja in the state’s squadron against COVID-19 /Lassa fever and never for once was any such case raised in our meetings.

The commissioner alleged that the aim of those putting pressure on the state was to politicise the situation as they are not happy that the current administration has been scored high by local and international observers on health care.

He added, “First and foremost, it is imperative that the public realise that there is no state government that can deliberately put her people in harm’s way for whatever political reason and the current administration has been scored high by local and international observers on health. We have and will continue to put the health of our people as first priority.

“We have been in an annual fight against Lassa fever as the state is located in the Lassa fever belt, recording several cases with regrettable losses. We were first to establish a Biosafety Laboratory for Lassa fever in Nigeria, and this year alone, we have confirmed 30 cases of Lassa fever that was duly announced. To accuse the state of a cover-up of COVID-19 cases is mischievous and at best politically inclined.”

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Banditry is more Pressing than COVID-19 in Katsina – Masari

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On Wednesday via Twitter, the Katsina State Governor, Aminu Masari, disclosed how pressing an issue armed banditry in the state is over COVID-19.

He said over 50 persons had been killed by gunmen in the last two weeks.

Masari said, “We sincerely appreciate the efforts of the security agencies in the fight against banditry, but we must also state that the situation has become so overwhelming. We are running out of words to convince our people that we are on top of the problem.

“They are, by the days, losing confidence in us as their leaders, saddled with the responsibility of securing their lives and properties.

“I am so saddened with the situation we are in now, because to most of our people in the troubled areas, COVID-19 is not even an issue. It may have taken over the world and the news about it but not here.

“Attacks by armed bandits have become a daily affair. In about two weeks, we have lost more than 50 people.

“At our end and within the resources available, we have provided support to the security agencies. We even brokered peace through an Amnesty and reconciliatory drive. Some of the bandits repented and joined us in the fight. They were, however, overpowered by the unrepentant ones who are more sophisticated.”

The governor urged the leadership of security agencies in the country to up their ante in combatting the activities of gunmen in the state.

According to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control as of Wednesday night, the state has recorded 95 coronavirus infections with eight recoveries and eight deaths.

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