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Agonizing stories of Bakassi communities where rampaging militants shoot, maltreat kids

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Almost every day, children as young as five endure beatings, shootings, and various forms of abuse by armed militants at their makeshift, raffia-roofed homes. Over the past five months, there have been three reported incidents where children were shot, leading to the tragic death of two.

In one case, a daughter from the Ine Utang fishing settlement in the Dayspring community, Bakassi, was reportedly shot in the arm and is enduring excruciating pain due to the absence of medical facilities. In interviews, children revealed that the militants enforce compliance and do not tolerate hesitation in carrying out their orders.

One such child, Chris Akpan, who is barely ten years old, appeared worn-out with tattered clothes and sores on his body. Whether these injuries result from beatings by militants or infections remains uncertain. Chris, along with four others, came on holiday from Ikot Ekpene in Akwa Ibom State to visit their parents in the settlement, only to face constant harassment by armed militants.

These militants, armed with guns and knives, routinely seize the fish and crayfish caught by parents, along with extorting money and petrol for their boats. Children are forced to assist them in various tasks, and refusal can lead to physical harm or even death. Two children have already lost their lives due to such brutalities.

Ubong Etim, an eight-year-old, expressed the desire to attend school like other children but lamented the absence of educational facilities. The children of Ine Utang fishing settlement, totaling over 1500, lack access to health facilities, and in cases of serious ailments, they must use canoes or speed boats to travel nearly two hours to Calabar.

The settlement, comprising about 200 small raffia houses, suffered the burning of some huts a month ago, leaving affected families homeless and squatting. The lack of security, schools, and healthcare facilities places the community at the mercy of militant groups operating from the Bakassi creeks.

While there are territorial disputes involving Cameroon and Akwa Ibom State, the settlement is currently administered by Cross River State. The absence of government presence leaves the community vulnerable to attacks, and the elders plead for increased naval presence and surveillance to ensure security.

In response to the dire situation, the Nigerian Navy conducted a free medical outreach for over 200 inhabitants, acknowledging the pressing issues of militancy, hunger, and disease in the area. The commander of the Nigerian Navy Ship in the region emphasized the need for continued intervention to alleviate the suffering of the community.

A militant group, the Dragon Fighter Marine, claims control over the territory, asserting it as Biafran territory and prohibiting navigation and oil explorations. Recent clashes between this group and the Rapid d’intervention Battalions resulted in casualties, further endangering the rural population, especially children, who bear the brunt of criminal activities in the area.

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‘You’re responsible for Nigeria’s economic woes’— Atiku tackles Tinubu

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Atiku Abubakar, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the 2023 general election, attributed Nigeria’s economic challenges to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

In a statement shared on his official social media account on Sunday, the former Vice President of Nigeria urged Tinubu to take cues from Argentina’s President Javier Milei on swiftly restoring investor confidence despite inheriting a troubled economy.

Atiku criticized Tinubu for deflecting blame onto the opposition and his predecessors, calling such actions unnecessary and shortsighted. He emphasized that market dynamics respond to concrete actions, not political rhetoric.

Drawing parallels with President Milei’s leadership in Argentina, Atiku highlighted the need for well-sequenced economic reforms. He commended Milei’s proactive approach in preparing for the post-reform challenges and ensuring the availability of mitigating measures.

Atiku contrasted Tinubu’s administration’s ad hoc and hurried reforms with Milei’s strategic sequencing. He pointed out Argentina’s lean government structure achieved through reducing ministries and privatizing state-owned enterprises, contrasting it with Nigeria’s expanding bureaucracy and excessive spending on official residences.

Atiku likened Tinubu’s administration’s approach to Nero fiddling while Rome burns, accusing him of evading substantive action and blaming the opposition for policy failures, reminiscent of characters in George Orwell’s Animal Farm.

Expressing admiration for Argentina’s reforms, Atiku suggested aligning his “Recover Nigeria Plan” with Milei’s stabilization strategy to alleviate Nigeria’s economic distress. He emphasized the need for transparent policies focused on economic revival and warned against dismissing discontent, particularly among the youth, which could manifest in protests.

The statement referred to the worsening economic conditions in Nigeria, highlighted by soaring inflation rates and high living costs, as reported by the National Bureau of Statistics, with headline inflation reaching 29.90% and food inflation at 35.42% in January 2024.

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BREAKING: Fire guts FCT Minister’s residence

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A fire broke out at the private residence of Dr. Mariya Mahmoud, the Minister of State in the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), on Sunday afternoon.

Situated at No. 9, Justice Roseline Ukeji Close in the affluent Asokoro district of Abuja, the property was reportedly completely destroyed by the blaze.

Despite prompt emergency response efforts, including the arrival of fire service personnel, nothing could be salvaged from the premises.

Mr. Austin Elemue, the Minister’s Special Adviser on Media, confirmed the incident, indicating that the cause of the fire remained unknown at the time.

Authorities have initiated an investigation to ascertain the cause of the fire.

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PHOTO: Gov Makinde Host Nigeria Police Games

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1: Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde (left) and Inspector General of Police, Olukayode Egbetokun, during the opening ceremony of the 14th Biennial Nigeria Police Games, host by Oyo State Government, held at Adamasigba Stadium, Ibadan. PHOTO: Oyo Gov’s Media Unit.

2: From left, Deputy Governor of Oyo State, Barr Bayo Lawal; Governor Seyi Makinde; Inspector General of Police, Olukayode Egbetokun and his wife Elizabeth, during the opening ceremony of the 14th Biennial Nigeria Police Games, host by Oyo State Government, held at Adamasigba Stadium, Ibadan. PHOTO: Oyo Gov’s Media Unit.

3: Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde (left) take a salute from the Police Mascots, during the opening ceremony of the 14th Biennial Nigeria Police Games, host by Oyo State Government, held at Adamasigba Stadium, Ibadan. PHOTO: Oyo Gov’s Media Unit.

CREDIT: Oyo Gov Media 

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