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Abductors Demand N100m For Ekiti Schoolchildren, Teachers

Kidnappers of five pupils of Apostolic Faith Group of Schools, Emure Ekiti, and four staff members have demanded N100m ransom for the release of the nine victims who were taken away on Monday.

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Kidnappers of five pupils of Apostolic Faith Group of Schools, Emure Ekiti, and four staff members have demanded N100m ransom for the release of the nine victims who were taken away on Monday.

The principal of the secondary section of the school, Boje Olanireti, confirmed the ransom demand, in a chat with newsmen on Tuesday.

The abduction epidemic has continued to defy the efforts of the security agencies as cases of kidnappings were being recorded in various parts of the country daily.

On Monday, gunmen killed two Ekiti monarchs-the Onimojo of Imojo, Oba Olatunde Olusola, and the Elesun of Esun Ekiti, Oba Babatunde Ogunsakin, while the Alara of Ara Ekiti, Oba Adebayo Fatoba, narrowly escaped.

The traditional rulers were returning from a function in Kogi State when their vehicles ran into the suspected kidnappers who were operating on the highway between Ipao and Oke Ako in the Ikole Local Government Area of Ekiti State.

The abduction of the schoolchildren and four staff members occurred when the school bus conveying 25 pupils home after school hours was waylaid by the gunmen in the Emure community in Ekiti State.

Shedding light on how the incident occurred, Olanireti explained that the abduction occurred about a five-minute drive from the school.

She said, “Immediately the school closed at 3pm, and by the time we gathered all the children, it was already 3:30pm. It was that time that they moved. So, the incident happened between 3:30pm and 4pm. The school is in a suburb of Emure village, so they were going back home in Eporo. The incident occurred just about a five-minute drive from the school to Eporo.

“When the gunmen attacked, the people around heard the gunshots and they came to Emure with motorcycles to inform the people in the school about what happened. We immediately reported to the police station at Emure.

“The students were over 25 on the bus when the incident happened. When the gunmen attacked them, they shot the tyre of the vehicle and asked the children to come out of the bus. They asked all of them to lie down. They picked five students and four staff members. They, after that, asked others to go.”

Olanireti added, “The five students comprise two from the secondary (school) and three from primary school while the four staff comprise two teachers, one driver and one bus assistant.

“When the parents heard about the incident, they came from Eporo and they have been making frantic efforts by reaching out to some security outfits, including the police and Amotekun.’’

“The security operatives have also been talking to the proprietor of the primary school and he has been giving them information. By the time they opened communication, they first called the husband of one of the teachers and demanded N10m for each kidnapped victim. But when they later called the headmaster, they demanded N100m for all of them.” the principal said.

A family source at Eporo Ekiti, who preferred anonymity, confirmed on Tuesday that the kidnappers had contacted the family of one of the children demanding N100m on the victims.

The source said, “They called the family of one of the school children and they are requesting N10m per victim. What we gathered is that there are nine persons kidnapped – five schoolchildren, two teachers, one bus assistant, and a driver.

“The parents are at Eporo. The bus was taking them home after closing. It was in the process that the kidnappers struck. None of the families of the abductees can afford the ransom.’’

Meanwhile, the Aremo of Emure Kingdom, Chief Clement Akinola, has appealed to the state government to assist in the release of their children.

Akinola, who in the company of the Emure Local Government Chairman and state government officials visited the families of the kidnapped persons at Eporo Ekiti, said, “One can imagine the condition the children will be in, one can imagine the state of mind of the parents, the entire Emure community and the Eporo people. There is tension, very high tension.’’

The chief called for the establishment of military posts on the many borders between the Emure community and Ondo State to tame kidnappings and the activities of gunmen in the area.

He said, “Emure is a border town, we have a boundary with Ondo State at Owo through Eporo, we have a boundary with Ondo State through Supare Akoko, and we have some farm roads pliable by motorbikes to Ondo State at Uso.

“My appeal is that there should be military checkpoints between Emure and Owo and Eporo and as well around Supare. These will reduce the violent crimes in the areas.

The Chairman of the Joint Security Committee of Ise, Emure and Ikere, Tunji Falana, who corroborated Akinola, said, “The boundaries are too porous. We have been appealing to the government to establish police posts and army checkpoints at the borders.

Porous boundaries

“This is not the first time kidnappers would kidnap there. The place is porous. But in this kidnap case, the Kabiyesi, the Elemure of Emure Ekiti, Oba Emmanuel Adebayo, a former commissioner of police, is working round the clock to ensure the release of the abductees.

Falana advised that in the meantime, “Bush combing should be at regular intervals, not more than two weeks interval. When the kidnappers realize the forests are free, they return especially during dry seasons like this when there is North-South migration.

“They destroy our farms at Ise Ekiti and Emure Ekiti here and nobody can control them. We commend the police because they are making arrests and taking them for prosecution.”

Suspects arrested

Meanwhile, the police in Ekiti State said on Tuesday that they had arrested five suspected kidnappers just as the command launched a manhunt for the kidnappers in collaboration with the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Amotekun, Odua Peoples Congress, and hunters.

The Police Public Relations Officer, Sunday Abutu, disclosed in a statement that the suspects were arrested during a joint operation with other security agencies.

He said, “The suspects were arrested by a combined team of policemen, civil defence corps, Amotekun Corps Odua Peoples Congress, and local hunters on Tuesday during a bush combing operation through Oke-Osun, Ikere/Igbo-Okah to the thick forest around Iju/Ikere boundary.

“During the operation, five suspected kidnappers namely- Usman Jelili, Mohammed Bande, Abubakar Aliu, Isah Abdulahi, and Suleman Abdulahi were arrested.’’

“During interrogation, the suspects claimed to be herdsmen, but it was later discovered that none of them had cattle and no cattle was found with them in the forest where they were arrested.

“The following items were found with them in the forest – two motorcycles, one cutlass, one jack knife/dagger, and four phones,” the PPRO stated.

In response to the killing of two monarchs by suspected kidnappers on Monday, Ekiti State communities wore sober looks on Tuesday when the Ekiti State Governor, Mr Biodun Oyebanji, paid condolence visits to the palaces of the two communities and the people of the two towns.

The indigenes of the two communities, who spoke on the deaths of their monarchs, described the incident as a great loss to the two communities.

At the palace of Elesun, they cut the trees to signify the passage of the monarch while red flags were flown on masts as people sat in groups singing dirges over the Elesun’s transition.

Oyebanji, who said Ekiti State had been very peaceful, lamented the attack and unexpected killings, which he described as “unfortunate and an affront to the peaceful nature of the state”.

The governor, who spoke at the Palace of the Elesun and a small hall at Imojo where the building of the palace was ongoing, said that the incident was a sacrilege to the traditional institution in the state.

He said it was a good development that President Bola Tinubu, who was on the phone with him for about an hour on Monday to commiserate with the Ekiti people had given directives to security agencies to fish out the perpetrators of the dastardly act and bring them to book.

Oyebanji said, “I have absolute confidence in the security agencies to fish out the people involved in this crime against the traditional institution in Ekiti. The government will continue to step up efforts at the security of the people because that is why we are here in government.

“My message to all the criminals is that Ekiti State is going to be too hot for them, we are going to get hot at them, and for those that are involved in this act, this sacrilege, they will be fished out.”

He described security as a joint task of both residents and the government, urging residents to continue assisting the security operatives by giving timely information to the security men within their environment.

The Second-in-Command to the Onimojo, the Elejira of Imojo, Chief Ayodele Dada, described the killing of the monarch as painful, saying the late traditional ruler initiated several developmental projects in the community.

Dada, who lamented frequent kidnapping activities in the area in the last few months, called on the government to double its efforts in providing security for the people of the state.

The traditional chief said, “We will sorely miss the late Kabiyesi. But in his memory, we appeal to the state government to complete the Imojo palace project which he began so that we can name it after him to immortalize him.”

The governor promised to assist the bereaved family and assist the Imojo community with the construction of the ongoing palace in the community.

Oyebanji also said efforts were in top gear to rescue the abductees describing the kidnap of the schoolchildren as callous and unacceptable.

A statement by the Special Adviser to Ekiti State Governor on Media, Yinka Oyebode, confirmed that 10 persons were abducted.

He said, “Security agencies are already on the trail of the abductors with a mandate to bring the pupils back safely. Security is being stepped up across the state to flush out criminal elements from their hideouts”.

Also, President Bola Tinubu, on Tuesday, condemned the killing of the two obas even as he assured that the perpetrators would not go unpunished.

“President Tinubu condemns this mindless and brutal bloodletting, and pledges that the perpetrators will not escape justice,” a statement signed by Tinubu’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, read.

The statement was titled, ‘President Tinubu condemns killing of traditional rulers in Ekiti, directs immediate rescue of kidnapped pupils.’

Tinubu, who grieved over the demise of the two monarchs, also directed the immediate rescue of pupils and teachers kidnapped around the Eporo-Ekiti area of the State.

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Lagos Agog As Olusegun Aderiye Marks 70th Birthday Anniversary In Style

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The mega city of Lagos was thrown into celebration mood as an Erudite Scholar and a quintessential broadcast journalist Rev. Dr. Olusegun Aderiye celebrated his 70th PLATINUM jubilee anniversary and book launch in style.

The event which took place on Wednesday February 14th 2024 at Airport Ikeja Lagos stated with a Public Lecture titled, “The Imperative of Peace in a Troubled World” taken by Amb. (Dr) Martins Uhomoibhi (Fmr PS, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nigeria) and the formal unveiling of: “Journey to Stardom” An Autobiography of the celebrant.

Rev Dr. Olusegun Solomon Aderiye was born on 14 February in Ekiti State, then Western Region, Nigeria.

He attended Methodist Primary School, Apaara, Oyo, 1958, Ifaki Grammar School, 1968-72, University of Lagos, 1977 and University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) 1981.

Olusegun was the Chief State House Correspondent, Nigerian Television Authority, 1985-89; Head, Current Affairs Department, African Independent Television, since 1998; Secretary, Nigerian Television Authority Ibadan Chapel.

He was a co-author of ECOMOG, Gabumo Publishing, Lagos in 1992.

Dr. Aderiye Creative Works includes Kilo Ndan Bi Wura, 1978, Awamaridi, 1979, Maje Nse 1981, My Lord is Good, 1983, What only God can do, 2023.

His National Awards are Nigeria Television Authority’s Reporter of the Year, 1983 and Nigeria Union of Journalists, since 1978.

 

The special guest of honour of the event was General Ibrahim Babangida GCFR (Former President of Nigeria) and Chief Bode George (Former Military Governor of Ondo State).

Dignitaries present at the event were Lagos state Governor ably represented by his commissioner of information and strategy Gbenga Omotoso, Speaker, Lagos State House of representative represented by one of the honourable members of the house, Steve Ogundipe.

Others were (Dr) Martin Uhomoibhi. Amb (Dr) Yemi Farounbi, Nigeria’s former Ambassador to the Philippines. The event was indeed an array of who is who in Nigeria.

 

The chairman in his remark describes the celebrant as a fine gentleman and a highly efficient, courageous and diligent media practitioner with a high sense of national patriotism and an unrepentant nationalist in broadcast journalism.

He prayed that God Almighty should continue to shower Dr. Aderiye with divine wisdom, guidance, good health, protection, prosperity and longevity, so he could continue to contribute his quota to national development in the years ahead.

Dr. Aderiye in his speech appreciates his lovely wife who shared the same birthday with him Deaconess Mary Kehinde Oluwakemi and family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances both in the physical and spiritual realms for their love, friendship and kind support all through these years.

He also thanks the VIPs, relations, friends and acquaintances who have come to honour his invitation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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London Operation: Air Peace, Norse Atlantic Sign ACMI Agreement On Charter

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Norse Atlantic Airways, yesterday, announced that it entered into an agreement with Air Peace for an ACMI (Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance, and Insurance) charter service.

This collaboration, according to the statement made available to LEADERSHIP, marks the beginning of a strategic partnership aimed at providing seamless air travel solutions between London and Lagos, Nigeria.

Commencing in April 2024, the ACMI charter will operate four times a week, offering travellers convenient and reliable transportation options between these key destinations.

Norse Atlantic Airways will be using slots at London Gatwick allocated to Air Peace to facilitate this new route.

“We are thrilled to be working with Air Peace to launch this ACMI charter service between London Gatwick and Lagos. This collaboration represents an exciting opportunity to leverage our expertise in charter operations to deliver a reliable and high-quality service to Air Peace and their customers,” said Bjørn Tore Larsen, CEO and Founder of Norse Atlantic Airways.

“Air Peace is delighted to have signed this partnership deal with Norse Atlantic Airways for the commencement of our London service. As we make a foray into the European market, we are confident that this strategic partnership will further position us to surpass the expectations of our customers, offering them superior air travel experience while we continue to optimise our operations for more innovative service delivery”, stated Allen Onyema, Chairman/CEO, Air Peace.

Norse Atlantic and Air Peace will continue to discuss potential longer-term partnerships between the two airlines to explore avenues for further collaboration and expansion in the future.

 

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N30bn To Govs: ‘My Statement Unverified’, Akpabio Recants

“The President of the Senate recognizes and appreciates the current efforts of the governors at ameliorating the adverse effects of the current inclement socio-economic environment and therefore invites more hands on the plow to complement the renewed hope agenda.”

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President of the Senate, Senator Godswill Akpabio, has recanted his claim that state governors received an additional N30 billion from the Federal Government to address the biting economic hardship in the country by the distribution of palliatives to Nigerians.

Recall that Akpabio made the claim on Wednesday, February 22 while the Senate considered the report of its joint Committees on Finance, Agriculture/Food Sufficiency, Banking and Insurance.

The committee had interfaced with the economic management team of the government, led by the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Mr Wale Edun, to find out what the government had done to tackle hunger, food inflation, a free-falling naira exchange rate to the US dollar, among others.

In the course of deliberations on the matter by senators, Akpabio had repeatedly stated without mincing word that each state governor received an additional N30bn from the centre to address the challenges, besides the regular allocations the states draw from the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC).

“Each of the 36 states received N30bn; they received N30bn”, he kept saying.

However, 24 hours later, governors began refuting the claim.

Prominent among them was the Governor of Akpabio’s own state, Akwa Ibom, Pastor Umo Eno, who not only said such an amount was not received by the state but also added that it was possible the Senate President was speaking with prophetic expectations.

Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State also said much, dismissing Akpabio’s claim.

On Monday night, Akpabio’s office finally summoned the courage to recant his statement, saying that he acted on unverified information.

His Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Hon. Eseme Eyiboh, in a statement on Monday night, appealed for calm, saying that Akpabio held the governors in high esteem.

Eyiboh’s full statement is reproduced below: “The office of the President of the Senate has been drawn to various misconceptions in the public domain on the statement credited to the President of the Senate in plenary of Wednesday, February 21, 2024, during the presentation of a report of the joint Committees on Finance, Agriculture/Food Sufficiency, Banking and Insurance. During the session the President of the Senate commented on the payment of an unverified cumulative sum of about N30b to the sub-national governments by the Federal Government for various interventions to ameliorate the food situation of our citizens at the sub-national governments.

“The unfortunate conjectures to take away the kernel in the material facts of FAAC payment are rather regretted. In considering the well-intended motive of urging state governments to collaborate with the Federal government of President Bola Tinubu to facilitate strategic interventions to mitigate the prevailing economic situation in the country remains the underpinning motivation in the comment.

“The President of the Senate is not oblivious to the fact that State governments are functional partners in all the efforts of the current administration of President Bola Tinubu and are also valuable Stakeholders’ in the various legislative engagements of the legislature in creating the nexus between the legislature and the people.

“The President of the Senate has always demonstrated commitment to team building and shall not do less in the circumstance. He therefore urges the sub-national governments not to be distracted by any misunderstanding of the context and true meaning of the statement.

“The President of the Senate recognizes and appreciates the current efforts of the governors at ameliorating the adverse effects of the current inclement socio-economic environment and therefore invites more hands on the plow to complement the renewed hope agenda.”

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