Kingsley Nwezeh, Michael Olugbode in Abuja, John Shiklam in Kaduna, George Okoh in Makurdi, Laleye Dipo in Minna, and David-Chyddy Eleke in Awka
In a show of share callousness, Bandits, who abducted 23 students of Greenfield University, Kaduna in Kaduna State, yesterday killed two more of the scholars, bringing to five the total number murdered in cold blood.
The killing occurred as news of a virtual meeting of the United States Secretary of State, Mr. Anthony Blinken, with President Muhammadu Buhari scheduled for today broke amidst rising bloodlettings in the country.
Blinken, who begins his first virtual trip to Africa, will also discuss with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chief Geoffrey Onyeama, on other issues of bilateral relations and shared importance between the United States and Nigeria.
Preceding the visit, however, is a rash of violence instigated by bandits and other non-state actors, who unleashed killings in Kaduna, Anambra, Benue, Niger and Borno States even as the Nigerian Army confirmed the killing of scores of terrorists in a gun duel that also claimed an army officer and six soldiers. Six others were wounded in the battle in Mainok, Borno State.
In Niger State, the Governor, Mr. Sani Bello, raised the alarm that Boko Haram fighters had hoisted their flag in Kaure village in the Shiroro Local Government Area of the state.
In Anambra State, the police confirmed the killing of nine persons in Awkuzu community of the state, following an attack by unknown persons on members of the community.
Bandits also invaded the Federal University of Agriculture in Makurdi, Benue State, and abducted some students.
In a statement announcing Blinken’s virtual trip to Africa, the US Embassy in Nigeria said he would also visit Kenya and engage with young people from across the continent.
It said: “During his visit, Secretary Blinken will meet with President Buhari and Foreign Minister Onyeama to reiterate the value of our bilateral relationship and discuss issues of shared importance.
“Secretary Blinken will also participate in a health partnership event to underscore our collaboration to combat the pandemic as well as long-term US investments in combating infectious diseases.
“He will meet with a beneficiary of a PEPFAR programme and a Nigerian health care worker.”
It explained that Blinken will underscore the two nation’s shared goals of strengthening democratic governance, building lasting security, and promoting economic ties and diversification, adding that people-to-people connections, underpinned by the dynamic Nigerian Diaspora in the United States would amplify and strengthen the countries’ relationship.
It added: “Secretary Blinken will begin his virtual travel to Africa meeting with Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI) alumni. In a ‘Ten Questions with Tony’ event, YALI alumni will have an opportunity to engage with the secretary on a range of topics, including the role of youth in the future of Africa, economic development, democracy and good governance, climate change, and health.
“Through YALI, the United States works with public, private sector, and civil society partners across the continent to develop initiatives and economic opportunities to support the creativity, innovativeness and energy of Africa’s youth.”
Two More Abducted Greenfield University Students Killed
Meanwhile, the Kaduna State government yesterday reported the killing of two more students of Greenfield University, Kaduna, who were among some 23 students bandits kidnapped on April 20, 2021.
The bandits had earlier on Friday released the bodies of three of the students, a male and two females.
The Kaduna State Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs said in a statement yesterday in Kaduna that security agencies had briefed the state government about the incident.
Aruwan said: “On a sad note, security agencies have just reported to the Kaduna State government the recovery of two more dead bodies of Greenfield University students, killed by armed bandits today, Monday 26th April 2021.
“The retrieved corpses have been evacuated to a mortuary, and the university has been notified of the development.
“The Government of Kaduna State under the leadership of Malam Nasir el-Rufai is saddened by this evil perpetrated against innocent students abducted while pursuing their education for a glorious future.
“The government sends its deep empathy to their families and the university management, and prays for the repose of their souls.
“The government will update the citizenry on further developments.”
Scores of Insurgents, Army Officer, Six Soldiers Killed in Borno
Meanwhile, troops of the Nigerian Army have killed scores of terrorists in a gun battle that also claimed an army officer and six soldiers. Six other soldiers were wounded in Mainok, Borno State.
The fierce encounter came as the Nigerian Air Force yesterday launched an investigation into claims that a fighter jet bombed troops in Mainok, in error.
There were reports and video clips circulating on social media, depicting in Nigeria, who lost their lives during the incident.
Another video showed an unidentified soldier lamenting the bombing of troops on a reinforcement mission.
However, a statement by the Nigerian Army Headquarters said troops of Operation Lafiya Dole deployed in Mainok, Borno State on Sunday, “came under multi-directional attacks by Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists mounted on an unconfirmed number of gun trucks as well as foot soldiers with possible intent of establishing a phantom caliphate in the town.”
It said the terrorists were held by the troops of 156 Task Force Battalion until the arrival of reinforcement teams from 7 Division, Special Army Super Camp Ngamdu and Army Super Camp 4, Benesheik.
The war update stated that during the gun duel, the troops tactically lured some of the terrorists into a killing zone within their camp where the Air Task Force of Operation Lafiya Dole scrambled Alpha jets and helicopter gunboats killed the terrorists.
“In the aftermath of the encounter, scores of Boko Haram terrorists were neutralised with their body parts littering the area and a number of their gun trucks destroyed.
“Regrettably, one gallant officer and six soldiers paid the supreme sacrifice while five other soldiers sustained various degrees of injuries,” it said.
It said the wounded soldiers were evacuated to the military medical facility for treatment even as troops took full control of Mainok while the search for fleeing terrorists was in progress.
However, the Nigerian Air Force yesterday launched an investigation into claims that a fighter jet mistakenly bombed troops in Mainok, Borno State.
It said it was investigating the reports and video clips of the alleged bombing being circulated on social media.
The NAF said on its Twitter handle that the public would be duly informed of the progress of the investigation.
Boko Haram Hoists Flag in Niger Village
Niger State Governor, Mr. Sani Bello, yesterday confirmed that Boko Haram elements have hoisted their flag in Kaure village in the Shiroro LGA of the state.
The governor also alleged that the Boko Haram fighters have taken over the wives of some of the villagers and allocated them to themselves.
Bello spoke yesterday in Minna, the state capital when he visited the Internally Displaced People (IDP) Camp at the IBB Primary School, near the Emir of Minna’s palace.
The primary school was hurriedly turned into IDP camp following the sacking of nearly 5,000 villagers from their ancestral homes in Shiroro and Munya LGAs by bandits who raided the towns over the weekend.
He said: “I am confirming that there are Boko Haram elements here in Niger State; here in Kaure; I am confirming that they have hoisted their flags here.
“Their wives have been seized from them and forcefully attached to Boko Haram members. I just heard that they have placed their flags at Kaure, meaning they have taken over the territory.
“This is what I have been engaging the federal government on. Unfortunately, it has now got to this level. If care is not taken even Abuja is not safe.
“We have been saying this for long. All our efforts have been in vain.”
Bello stated that the Boko Haram insurgents are trying to use the area as their home just as they did in Sambisa, adding that “Sambisa is several kilometres from Abuja but Kaure is just two kilometres from Abuja. So, nobody is safe anymore not even those in Abuja.”
Police Confirm Death of Nine as Hoodlums Invade Anambra Community
Meanwhile, the Anambra State Police Command has confirmed the killing of nine persons in Awkuzu community of the state, following the attack by gunmen on members of the community.
THISDAY gathered that the attack occurred yesterday in the community, which also serves as the residence of the students of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University (COOU), Igbariam.
Sources told THISDAY that students whose hostels are located in the area and other residents in the area had all fled for fear of another attack.
The police in the state confirmed the attack and said normalcy has returned to the area.
The spokesperson of the state police command, Mr. Tochukwu Ikenga, a deputy superintendent of police, however, said only nine persons were killed.
Ikenga said: “The Commissioner of Police, Anambra State Police Command, CP Monday Bala Kuryas, has ordered the immediate deployment of the command’s operational and intelligence assets to identify and apprehend the unknown armed men.
“They violently attacked Ukpomachi village, Awkuzu in Oyi LGA of the state, in the early hours of April 26, 2021.
“Meanwhile, a crack team of police operatives of the command, led by an Assistant Commissioner of Police, have visited the scene and conducted an on-the-spot-assessment of the incidence and have successfully restored normalcy in the area and adequate security emplaced to forestall further occurrence.”
Gunmen Attack Agric University in Benue, Kidnap Students
Also yesterday, an unconfirmed number of students of the Federal University of Agriculture in Makurdi (FUAM) in Benue State were reported to have been abducted by gunmen.
Director of Information, Protocol and Public Relations Unit (IPPR), Mrs. Rosemary Waku, in a statement, said:
“An unconfirmed number of students of FUAM were abducted at gunpoint by unknown persons from the Campus on Sunday 25th April 2021.
“The university has reported the incident to the police and all relevant security agencies. The university has not heard anything from the students or their captors since the unfortunate incidence took place.”
However, the Benue State Police command stated that the university reported that three students were abducted.
According to the Public Relation Officer of the command, Mr. Sewuese Anene, a deputy superintendent of police, the police have opened an investigation into the incident.