1. “Rehabilitated Terrorists” released to their State Governors

 

President Buhari’s government will release 613 rehabilitated terrorists to their respective state governments. Chief of Defense Staff, General Lucky Irabor, made the announcement at a stakeholders meeting of Operation Safe Corridor at the beginning of January in Abuja. Irabor was represented by the Chief of Defense Training and Operation, Maj Gen Adeyemi Yekini, who said the 613 terrorists have been undergoing deradicalization and rehabilitation, being handled by the OPSC. The OPSC, which was established by President Buhari in 2015, is a multi-agency effort that has 17 services, ministries, departments and agencies. He says: “It is also important to mention that upon graduation from the programme, each client will be provided some food and personal items, as well as a start-up pack according to the trade learnt during training to enable them set up small businesses and start a new life. We are optimistic that working closely with local and traditional authorities, the states can deploy security apparatus at their disposal to effectively track ad evaluate the re-integrated ex-combatants. I must emphasize that it is critical for all stakeholders involved in the reintegration processes in order to mitigate, or completely eliminate incidences of recidivism. These sustained operations continue to put pressure and confusion within the ranks of the adversary causing many to surrender to the armed forces. as at today, over 83 000 insurgents and their family members have surrendered, while those captured have been tried and convicted to various jail terms by the law courts. As we speak, many more captured combatants are being held in several correctional facilities and their trial is ongoing.” https://saharareporters.com/2023/01/05/buhari-led-nigerian-government-release-613-repentant-terrorists-send-them-back

 


 

  1. NGO accuses military of killings and kidnappings in South Eastern Nigeria

 

The International Society for Civil Liberties and Intersociety have accused the government and bandit groups of being responsible for the deaths of at least 1710 civilians and the abduction of 1800 in the period January to December 2022. They have accused the “military and police of killing 700 unarmed civilians, abducted 220, burned down 600 homes and sacked 18 000. Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen slaughtered 410 sedentary easterners and abducted 600

Also, State armed counterfeit agitators, government unknown gunmen and other violent criminals killed 600 and abducted 100. All the affected victims are members of sedentary/indigenous Eastern Christian population with high vulnerability to harm, threat of death or death as against their Eastern pastoral/non indigenous counterparts especially Muslims with least vulnerability to harm, threat of death or death.

The state actor armed entities troubling the Eastern Nigerian Christian population and their defenceless properties are made up of personnel and high commands of the Nigerian security forces deployed in the East including Army/Military, Army-allied Ebubeagu Militias. Nigeria Police Force’s IRT, STS, CTU, Anti- Cult, Bunkering, Robbery and Kidnapping crack squads and the Spy Police specializing in arrest of civilians and their long detention outside the law as well as custodial torture and other inhuman and degrading treatments or punishments.
These ‘state actor armed entities’ have become ‘criminal entities’ by abandoning their laid down securitization and policing operational codes including Rules of Engagement to engage in incontrollable murderous and barbarous conducts including indiscriminate stigmatization, ethnic and religious profiling, class criminalization and wanton destruction of civilian lives and properties including indiscriminate burning down or destruction of unarmed civilian homes and other properties. Strong fingers have also been pointed at them in areas of killings and abductions by street and ethno-religious criminal entities for purposes of criminal enterprise and state jihadism.
Military, Police Killed 700 Civilians, Arrested 1,100 and Burned down 600 Civilian Houses
The deployed military and police in the East had between January and December 2022 crudely, barbarously and atrociously killed 700 civilians and arrested 1100. Out of the 1100 civilian arrests, not less than 220 or 20% were abducted and disappeared without traces by soldiers and policing crack squads.
According to the group, “the named security agencies perpetrated the above outside the law and modern operational ethics and codes.

Those arrested by soldiers were also found to have run the high risk of never coming back alive for eternity. Among the 220 victims of disappearance, between 50 and 60 are likely to have been killed in military and policing captivity.
From various accounts recorded by Intersociety including the Obigbo Army war-grade attack of Oct-Nov 2020 in Rivers State, out of every five unarmed civilians arrested by soldiers, four run the high risk of never returning to their families alive. Soldiers of the Nigerian Military had also in 12 months of 2022 burned down or destroyed no fewer than 600 defenceless civilian homes worth billions of naira and sacked over 18,000 from their ancestral homes. In 20 months of Oct 2020 and June 2022, over 1,400 houses were burned down or destroyed by the military and 51,000 civilians rendered homeless.

The Nigerian Military particularly the Army had never arrested or shot and killed a single Jihadist Fulani Herdsman in the Region in 2022, if not since 2016, adding that Fulani Jihadists allegedly Slaughtered 410 Easterners And Abducted 600 In Jan-Dec 2022.

The Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen and other jihadists militarily aided to invade and occupy forests, bushes, farmlands and strategic roads and their bypasses in the East since 2016, have been responsible for not less than 410 open and captivity killings and 600 abductions since the beginning of January 2022.

From several investigations carried out by Intersociety and severally published, 260 of the slain Eastern Christians and non- Muslim others met their death in open unprovoked and unwarranted attacks by the jihadists using automatic rifles, machetes and other weapons of death while the remaining 150 deaths occurred in jihadist captivity involving those abducted and held captive, later killed and dumped to decompose at bush or forest paths.
Enugu State is the worst hit with no fewer than 160 deaths out of the 260 open killings, stressing that the Eha-Amufu in Isiuzo LGA of the State is the worst hit community with 90-100 deaths.
As much as 70 defenceless lives have been lost in Eha-Amufu communities of Ebor, Umujiovu, Mgbuji and Agu-Amede in Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen attacks that occurred in less than one month on 21-23 Nov 2022, 8-10 Dec 2022 and 18th Dec 2022. The 2022 Jihadist Herdsmen attacks in the area started on 6th January 2022; recording not less than seven attacks in all.

On Sunday, 18th Dec 2022 attack by Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen, not less than seven local Christians were killed and scores injured.

Till date, not only that soldiers of the Nigerian military and personnel of the Nigeria Police and their commanders have done nothing to prevent and curb the attacks, they are also found to have concentrated in raiding innocent Igbo communities for “IPOB/ESN hunts”

In addition to searching for locals or local vigilantes with Dane guns and other non-prohibited firearms use in hunting and self- defines for purpose of disarming them and making their communities highly vulnerable for Jihadist Herdsmen invasion and attacks.

The three cases in point are recent Army invasions recorded in Obeagu and Nkalaha Communities in Ishielu in Ebonyi State and Okigwe in Imo State. The invasions left several civilian homes and other defenceless properties razed or burned down beyond repair. In the area of Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen’s captivity killings in Eastern Nigeria, particularly the South-East, Abia State and its Umunneochi and Uturu areas accounted for not less than 90 of the 150 jihadist hideout killings.

The Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen and other jihadists also accounted for not less than 600 abductions since January 2022, out of which 150 were killed in captivity.

State Armed Counterfeit Agitators and Others Abducted 1000 Easterners and Killed 600

Eastern Nigeria was also investigated and found to have been flooded and troubled by Government backed armed counterfeit agitators and “Government Unknown Gunmen” with strong roots in Ebonyi and Imo States.

The armed counterfeit agitators/”Government Unknown Gunmen” and their terror activities are part of strongly suspected Nigerian State false labelling and ethnic profiling measures to counterfeit the violent activities of the Eastern Security Network; a counter jihadist armed group raised in Dec 2020 by a leading self- determination group (IPOB).

The Nigerian State backed armed counterfeit agitators/“Government Unknown Gunmen” and their atrocious conducts are strongly suspected to have evolved from those behind “Ebubeagu militia formative experiment”.

Ebubeagu Militia was remotely raised in April 2021 by Nigerian State to counter ‘the Eastern Security Network’. Since then, the Militia outfit has been linked to sundry conduct atrocities including political terrorism and aiding jihadists’ incursion and activities in the East.

There also seems to be a symbiotic atrocity conduct relationship between Ebubeagu, Military/Police and Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen/other jihadists wreaking havoc in Eastern forests, bushes and farmlands. Since January 2022, the Nigerian State backed armed counterfeit agitators, “Government Unknown Gunmen” and armed street criminal entities hiding in forests and bushes have jointly abducted at least 1000 defenceless persons and killed 600; out of which armed counterfeit agitators/”Government Unknown Gunmen” took responsibility for 300 abductions and 200 deaths.”

https://www.africanexaminer.com/rights-group-confirms-killings-of-1710-civilians-by-state-actor-non-state-actors-in-eastern-region/

 


 

  1. Railway station attacked in Edo State

 

Kaduna State- less than a year after the attack and abduction of a train full of passengers bound for Abuja, the Edo State Police Command says many passengers waiting to board a train travelling form Igueben station in Igueben Local Government Area, to Warri in Delta State were kidnapped by suspected Fulani herdsmen. According to a statement released by Edo Police Public Relations Officer, Chidi Nwabuzor, abductors, armed with AK-47s, invaded the train station and shot randomly into the air before abducting travellers and forcing them into nearby bushes. Many passengers subsequently sustained injuries, both from the bullet wounds as well as the assaults endured. “This is to inform the gentlemen of the press that today, 7th of January 2023, at about 1600hrs, unspecified number of herdsmen armed with AK 47 rifles attacked the train station at Igueben, Edo State and kidnapped unspecified number of passengers who were waiting to board the train to Warri. The kidnappers who shot sporadically into the air before kidnapping some passengers left some persons with bullet wounds. he Area Commander Irrua, DPO Igueben Division, and men have visited the scene of crime with members of the Edo State Security Network, local vigilantes, and hunters with a view to protecting the lives and property of the remaining passengers. Bush combing operations have commenced in order to rescue the victims and arrest the fleeing kidnappers. Further developments will be communicated.” https://punchng.com/updated-scores-abducted-from-edo-train-station-many-injured/

 


 

  1. Cardinal warns Nigerians on elections

 

Cardinal John Onaiyekan has warned politicians in Nigeria not to attempt to manipulate the results of the upcoming elections, to be held in February 2023. Cardinal Onaiyekan has that the election on 25 February will not be normal as Nigerians have high expectations for transparency and electoral integrity. The cardinal insisted that the elections are essential to ensure peace and stability to the African nation. “Anyone who plans to play games and conspire to frustrate the desire of the people to decide on the results of the elections should abstain. I want Nigerians to know that they can no longer be silent all the time, hoping that things will change; that God will work miracles.” he made these remarks at a mass to celebrate his 40th anniversary of ordination. He says that he fears that any form of electoral fraud will make peace in the country precarious, and might even incite violence by citizens. The issue of electoral fraud and voter manipulation has plagued elections in Africa’s most populous state in the past, as has intimidation of political parties and party agents. However, it seems these elections might be different, due mainly to civil society being bolstered and more vocal in their critique of past manipulations. Ultimately it is crucial that politicians and stakeholders respect the integrity of elections and halt any form of manipulation, fraud or malfeasance. https://recowanews.com/a-cardinal-in-nigeria-urges-politicians-to-avoid-any-form-of-manipulation-in-the-2023-elections-um-cardeal-da-nigeria-pede-aos-politicos-que-evitem-qualquer-forma-de-manipulacao-nas-eleico/

 


 

  1. Pres. Buhari has audience with Catholic Bishops

 

President Muhammadu Buhari held an audience with the Catholic bishops of Nigeria, at the presidential villa in Abuja on 11 January, during which he promised to address the recurrent insecurity and violent attacks meted on Christians through rebuilding infrastructure and re-orientation on education in areas affected by terrorist attacks. “The question of insecurity is most important to us because unless a country or institution is at peace, it will be difficult to manage. I just came back from Adamawa and Yobe states. During the visit to both states, I listened carefully to what the people and officials had to say. And they all said the situation had improved since 2015, especially in Borno. Boko Haram was just fraudulent and a plot to destroy Nigeria. You can’t say people should not learn; the people need to grow intellectually”, says the president. Led by Most Rev Lucius Ugorji, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, the delegation asked the president to use the end of his term to tackle insecurity, improve the economy and ensure credible elections. “We commend and congratulate y9u for the efforts the government has put into ensuring real improvement in our electoral system and processes, especially you’re signing into law the electoral bill. Please, do not relent in making sure that INEC and other relevant agencies of government carry out their serious duties to conduct peaceful, free, fair, and credible elections. [The economy] has been put under serious stress by both internal and external negative forces, which has had a serious adverse effect on the lives and livelihood of the average Nigerian.” the president agreed with them, and added that foreign debt is a positive sign of creditor confidence in Nigeria’s future. He also believes Nigeria is trying to rely on itself more, especially in the field of agriculture. https://cisanewsafrica.com/nigeria-president-buhari-meets-with-catholic-bishops-talks-center-on-insecurity-and-economy/

 


 

  1. Priest kidnapped in Ekiti State

 

The parish priest of St George’s Catholic Church, in Omu Ekiti, Oye Local Government Area, Ekiti State, FR Michael Olofinlade, was kidnapped by unknown bandits. They released him after three days of captivity. Fr Olofinlade was abducted at around 6pm on Saturday 14 January 2023, along the Itaji Ekiti-Ijelu Ekiti Road, in the Oye Local Government Area, while he was journeying back to his parish at Omu Ekiti. According to a source, “Information about the circumstances leading to the release of the catholic priest is sketchy, but I can tell you he has been released and the Reverend father was taken to hospital immediately after release for medical attention. I also know that following the abduction of the cleric on Saturday, the security agencies and local hunters were mobilised to go after the abductors to rescue the cleric and possibly effect arrest of the criminals.” his bishop, Bp Felix Ajakaye, Ordinary of Ekiti Catholic Diocese, confirmed the release of his priest after soliciting “prayers for the quick and safe release of Fr Olofinlade and him to return to his pastoral duty post to continue his service to God through and in the church,” on the previous Sunday. “Yes, he is out of the kidnappers den,” .  https://www.vanguardngr.com/2023/01/breaking-unknown-gunmen-abduct-catholic-priest-in-ekiti/

https://punchng.com/abducted-ekiti-priest-regains-freedom-three-days-after/

 


 

  1. Outrage at live burning of Fr Isaac Achi

 

Gunmen in Niger state have killed a Catholic priest. On Sunday morning, bandits set fire to the priest’s rectory, with him inside, and burned him alive inside. Fr Isaac Achi was killed around 3AM on 15 January, when “armed bandits invaded the parish residence of Sts Peter and Paul Catholic Church. They also attacked a second priest, Fr Collins Omeh, the parish parochial vicar. Fr Omeh was shot and hospitalised. Speaking from his hospital bed, Fr Omeh says. “The bandits, who were about 15 in number, came fully armed and shooting sporadically in the air shouting ‘Allahu Akbar (God is Great)’”. According to Fr Omeh, in the middle of the night, he was confronted at gunpoint by terrorists, in the rectory, and told to climb through a hole created in the ceiling by them, and then directed by the same terrorists to take them to Fr Achi. When the men struggled to gain access to Fr Achis quarters, they began shooting randomly in all directions. Fr Achi was shot in the leg as a result of this, and Fr Omeh in the hand. When both priests were being held by the bandits, they prayed together and offered each other the sacrament of confession. It was during this prayer time that Fr Achi urged Fr Omeh to flee if he could. When Fr Omeh then ran from the compound, Fr Achi remained, and was shot in the chest by the attackers, while they continued sho9uting jihadi slogans. Fr Omeh was shot in the shoulder while fleeing. According to Fr Omeh, the police took hours to arrive after they were called, which is opposite to the statement released  by local police, which claims “tactical teams attached to the Kafin-Koro Div(ision) were immediately drafted to the scene, but the hoodlums had escaped before the arrival of the teams.” the slow response of the police is corroborated by locals, and Christian leaders in central Nigeria, who say the police are notoriously slow to respond to their reports of religious violence. It was unfortunately not Fr Achis first brush with danger. In 2011, while responsible for St Theresa’s church in Madalla, Abuja, 25 parishioners were killed when members of Boko Haram crashed a car packed with explosives onto church property, during Christmas Day Mass. after that incident, Fr Achi urged the community towards forgiveness during a memorial prayer service. In that homily, he appealed to them to “learn to forgive all those deliberately hurt them, remain prayerful, the power of prayer and love can overcome all situations. Those who perpetrate evil against the state and innocent citizens require prayers from Christian faithful,” he said. He was also later kidnapped in 2013, while working in Madalla, but was released the same day. https://www.africanews.com/2023/01/16/catholic-priest-burned-alive-in-nigerias-hard-hit-north/

Pope Francis has requested prayers for the repose of Fr Achi’s soul. Speaking to pilgrims on 18 January in the Paul VII hall, during his Wednesday General audience, Pope Francis said “I ask all of you to join me in praying for Fr. Isaac Achi of the Diocese of Minna in Northern Nigeria who was killed last Sunday in an attack on his rectory. So many Christians continue to be the target of violence. Let us remember them in our prayers,” calling attention to all Christians who are pacing persecution across the world. https://www.aciafrica.org/news/7474/join-me-in-praying-for-fr-isaac-achi-pope-francis-appeal-for-murdered-nigerian-priest

 


 

  1. Ongoing attacks in Anambra

 

Not long after four people were killed in and their bodies dumped in Nkwo Ogbe market, in Ihiala, Anambra State, gunmen attacked and killed another three community members, and a member of the military. One of the dead was beheaded gruesomely. The attackers also set fire to five building of the Ihiala Local Government Area. in confirming the incident, state police public relations officer, Mr Tochukwu Ikenga says, “Following the police/military operations ongoing in Ihiala and its neighbouring town, the operatives responding to a distress call of an attack on Ihiala local government headquarters, neutralised one of the attackers, recovered two locally made IED launcher, seven undetonated IED, forty pieces of live cartridges, fifteen live 7.62MM AK-47 ammunition, knives, charms, and other dangerous weapons. The attackers had already murdered three vigilante operatives on duty, beheaded one and set five buildings ablaze with IED and petrol bombs. The joint forces operatives engaged the arsonist/attackers, and obstructed them from causing further damages, while some escaped with bullet wounds. The bodies of the victims were recovered and joint operations are still ongoing. Further development shall be communicated.” the incident, and its subsequent violence, caused pandemonium in the general area, causing a heavy gridlock of traffic on the Onitsha-Owerri road. https://www.vanguardngr.com/2023/01/gunmen-kill-3-vigilante-operatives-a-security-man-set-5-lg-buildings-ablaze-in-anambra/

 

 

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