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Soldiers arrest ex-militant leader, others ahead of Osinbajo’s visit

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Ahead of Tuesday’s visit by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo to Gbaramatu Kingdom in Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta State, tension on Sunday enveloped the Niger Delta region over alleged arrest and invasion of some ex-militant leaders’ homes in the state by soldiers.

Our correspondent reliably learnt that scores of ex-militants, including a top ex-militant leader, Mr. Bounanawei Smith, alias King of the Forest, were arrested in a fresh crackdown in what sources said were not unconnected with renewed hostilities and fresh threat by the Niger Delta Avengers to attack oil facilities.

Osinbajo is scheduled to visit Gbaramatu Kingdom where the embattled ex-militant leader, Chief Government Ekpemupolo, popularly known as Tompolo, hails from.

Osinbajo’s visit is for the purpose of holding talks with leaders of Gbaramatu, which had become a hub of militants’ activities in recent times.

Security, ahead of the visit, has been beefed up both on land and in the sea, as gunboats and military personnel, dispatched to strategic locations in Warri South-West were seen, while military vans were also seen on Saturday and Sunday patrolling flashpoints in the state.

Sources close to Smith told our correspondent on Sunday that operatives of the Joint Task Force, code-named: Operation Delta Safe, invaded the ex-militant leader’s home at Esiso Estate along Effurun/Sapele Road in Effurun, Uvwie Local Government Area in the late hours of Saturday.

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The ex-militant leader was said to be holding a meeting with some members of the Ijaw Youth Council when the soldiers allegedly forcefully broke into his home before arresting him and seven others, whose identities were not known as of the time of filing this report.

It was further learnt that some other ex-agitators were also arrested on Saturday by the military and were held at the Warri Naval Base of the Nigerian Navy Ship Delta awaiting to be moved to the Defence Headquarters in Abuja.

Smith was only recently appointed by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa as a member of the state’s Land and Waterways Security Committee, charged with the responsibility of working with security agencies to ensure peace in the state.

The Commander, NNS Delta, Commodore Joseph Dzunve, when contacted on the telephone on Sunday, confirmed that several persons were arrested and were being held at the Naval Base Warri. He declined to give details of the arrest.

The spokesman for the IYC, Mr. Eric Omare, confirmed the arrest of the ex-militants in a statement issued on Sunday in Warri, describing the arrest as primitive and capable of fuelling restiveness in the region.

The statement read in part, “The Ijaw Youth Council states that the Federal Government is inciting crisis in the Niger Delta by the continued invasion, arrest and detention of Niger Deltans, especially ex-agitators, without any justifiable reason. The latest of such invasion and arrest is the commando-style arrest of ex-agitator, Bounanawei Smith, alias King of the Forest.

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“Mr. Bounanawei was arrested in his guest house by military men while hosting some Ijaw Youth Council members. They invaded and ransacked the whole of his guest house and some of the IYC members who were with him narrowly escaped death when the military officers shot sporadically into his apartment.

“The IYC condemn this naked, primitive and unwarranted display of force. It is on record that Mr. Bounanawei had since accepted amnesty and had been very active in maintaining peace and security in the Niger Delta especially in Delta State.”

The IYC recalled that the invasion, arrest and detention of Niger Deltans by the military had become a norm in the region.

“On January 1, 2017, while the entire world was celebrating the New Year, military officers invaded Gbaraun community, Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, shot into the community, arrested a youth leader, Kalami Inakemeduo, under the guise that he is a militant and he is being detained up till this moment.

“This is in addition to several other Ijaw youths languishing in military detention such as Aboy Muturu, Ezekiel Daniel, Victor Odogu (the IYC spokesman, Abuja chapter) and several others. These persons have been in the DSS and military detention for more than eight months without trial and no reason has been given for their arrest,” the statement added.

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The IYC, in the statement, demanded immediate release of all ex-militants arrested by the security agents including Smith, Aboy Muturu, Ezekiel Daniel, Victor Odogu, Kalami Inakemeduo and other Ijaws in detention across the country.

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Politics

‘Stop sponsoring attacks on our members, officials’ – Oyo APC warns PDP

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Oyo state chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has alleged that some unnamed political associates of Governor Seyi Makinde and leaders of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state were the sponsors of the recent reported attacks on its members and officials at some venues of the ongoing membership registration and revalidation exercise in parts of the state warning them “to desist from such reprehensible acts”.

According to the party, media reports have it that some identified members of the outlawed Park Managers System (PMS), who were fully harmed with guns, machete and charms, stormed Aliwo location of Polling Units 05 and 06 of Ward 12 in Ibadan North East local government area in early hours of Tuesday and unleashed terror on residents of the area before carting away registration materials of the APC.

APC, in a statement issued on Wednesday and made available to journalists in Ibadan by the Secretary of its Committee on Media and Publicity, Olawale Sadare, frowned at what it described as unwarranted and unprovoked attacks from the PDP elements “who must have been jolted by the rate at which the good people of the state are trooping to register as new APC members while old members also attach much importance to revalidation of their membership.

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“We have had reports of violent attacks against our registration officials and members in places like Olagoke Akano Street of Ward 11 in Ibadan North East local government area, Academy area of Ward 06 in Egbeda, Iyana Bodija Market of Ward 05 in Lagelu, Orita Challenge in Ward 02 of Oluyole, Owode in Ward 06 of Ogbomoso North and many other places where political thugs were mobilized to the venues of the registration and revalidation exercise since the exercise began about two weeks ago.

“It is clear even to the deaf and the blind that those behind these shameful acts are those close to the corridor of power in the state who feel that violence, brigandage and lawlessness have to be reintroduced to the politics of Oyo state after the last administration of late Senator Abiola Ajimobi had successfully stamped it out. These disgruntled elements believe it is by unleashing terror on political opponents and hapless citizens that their desire to retain power in 2023 but this would be resisted by us in APC and other well meaning people in the society”, Sadare said.

Meanwhile, the APC media committee has appealed for calm among party faithful and members of the public who had expressed their worries over cases of non-availability of additional registration and revalidation materials in most places designated for the exercise which has now been extended to the end of March this year.

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“We are not unmindful of agitation for more supplies of the necessary materials used at most registration and revalidation points where those deployed have since been exhausted as a result of influx of the citizens who are desirous of revalidating their membership of the broom party or willing to be registered as new members. It is worthy of note that the national Secretariat of our party deployed 100 forms to each of the 4,778 Polling Units designated as Registration Points but reports indicate that officials in about 60 per cent of these Registration Points attended to 100 registrants in less than 48 hours and thus used up their materials.

“In view of this development, we are glad to disclose that the national Secretariat of our great Party has been duly notified as we have it on good authority that more supplies would be delivered to us in few days to take care of requests from across the state. Also, the leadership of the Oyo APC is poised to do everything necessary to ensure the success of the exercise which has signalled a new hope of a stronger, united and pragmatic Progressive movement in Oyo state ahead of the 2023 general elections”, Oyo APC Media Committee added.

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2023: Ex-Reps Member, Lam-Adesina Dumps ADC, Returns to APC

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A former member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Adedapo Lam-Adesina, has defected from the African Democratic Congress (ADC) returning to his former party; the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Lam-Adesina represented Ibadan Northeast/Southeast federal constituency between 2015-2019.

The defection, which was done amid jubilations by his supporters at the Felele residence of the late former governor of Oyo State, Alhaji Lamidi Adesina, came weeks after leaders of the APC visited the ex-lawmaker.

Lam-Adesina, who formally declared his withdrawal from the ADC informed that his decision to rejoin the party was as a form of respect to its leaders and elders who had persuaded him to return to the progressive fold.

The ex-Oyo commissioner for Youth and Sports, together with other aggrieved members of the party, grouping under Unity Forum,  defected to ADC in June, 2018 to pursue their political bids owing to irreconcilable  tussle within the party.

Lam-Adesina further disclosed that he had tabled his grievances to those who visited him and others who had promised to address it. 

The late governor’s son said he was happy to be back home after what he called a ‘loan deal’ to ADC. He thanked the leadership for making the platform available when it was needed.

In his words, “I am happy to be back to APC. For me, it is a great homecoming. Like I have said, I have told our leaders who spoke to me let us address our problems once and for all”.

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2023 Presidency: Monarchs endorse Tinubu, as SWAGA takes crusade to Ogun

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The Alake and Paramount ruler of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo and other prominent traditional rulers in Ogun state including the Akarigbo and Paramount Ruler of Remoland, Oba Babatunde Ajayi, the Olu of Ilaro and Paramount ruler of Yewaland, Oba Kehinde Olugbenle have pledged their support for Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s 2023 presidential ambition.

Also, the monarchs described the former governor of Lagos state and the national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the rightful candidate to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari.

The cultural custodians, who played host to a group of rainbow coalition of like minded politicians of South West extraction under the aegis of South West Agenda (SWAGA ’23), in their palaces declared that Tinubu is the best and preferred choice from the southwest zone of the country.

Remarking, the Alake of Egbaland , Oba Gbadebo, who said he had envisioned the former Lagos state governor serves as the nation’s president a very long time ago, also expressed confidence that the group will succeed in its assignment.

Also commenting, the Olu of Ilaro noted that his support for the APC national leader is apolitical, stressing that Tinubu is the most qualified candidate any political party in the South West could boast of.

According to Oba Olugbenle, the south west could not produce any other candidate that is as fit as Tinubu for the Presidential race in 2023

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The Paramount ruler of Yewaland maintained that the contribution of Tinubu to the growth and development of Nigeria was second to none, adding that he possesses the needed sagacity, tenacity and experience to rule the country.

“His legacies as former governor of Lagos State can attest to the fact that he is the most qualified for the job.

“When he was the governor of Lagos State, the foundation he laid was what all his successors are building on, which has made the State a force to be reckoned with in the country.

“It is not about party. It is about the product that we are bringing in. He is the best man any party can present in the south. Not about APC or any other party but about the national development”, the monarch said.

On his part, Oba Babatunde Ajayi, the Akarigbo of Remoland noted that the Presidential bid of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is a collective project that must be supported not only by Remoland, but the entire southwest.

The monarch, who offered prayers for the success of Tinubu’s presidential aspiration in 2023, also assured that the entire Remoland will key into the project of ensuring a true and patriotic Nigerian in the calibre of Tinubu to succeed Buhari.

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Also receiving the SWAGA 23 delegation at his Asoludero Court, Sagamu residence, former Ogun state governor, Gbenga Daniel preached unity of purpose.

While noting that the group has reignited the political strength and unity across the southwest, Governor Daniel, however advised its leadership not to lose focus and mobilise support beyond the southwest. He urged the group to collaborate with similar groups in order to actualise its ambition.

Earlier in his address, the Chairman of SWAGA ‘23, Senator Dayo Adeyeye disclosed that the mode of operations of the group is strictly voluntary and self-financing body, with the objective of convincing Tinubu to contesting for president in 2023.

The former minister of state for works further emphasized that if the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) would follow agreement and zone presidency to the south in 2023, the APC national leader should be put forward and supported by the southeast and south-south.

Adeyeye submitted, “Tinubu is a good product that doesn’t need any advertisement and he has contributed greatly to the growth and development of the nation. He is consummate democrat and progressive.

“South West is interested to contest for the presidency in 2023. The person who can help us win this ticket is  Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

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“He has done a lot for Nigerians irrespective of religion and tribe. He has built bridges across the country”.

The delegation included, former Senator Adesoji Akanbi, former House of Representatives’ members, Hon. Bosun Oladele (Secretary), Hon. Rotimi Makinde, Hon Ojo, Senator Obadara, Ogun State Central Working Committee chairman, Arch Dunni Opayemi, Suraj Adekunbi Ishola and Hon Abiodun Ishiaq Akinlade, Ogun State coordinators of SWAGA 23 among others.

The group, thereafter launched its Ogun State chapter in Abeokuta, the state capital on Tuesday, targeting Kogi and Akwa Ibom states soon.

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