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A member of the Benue State Community Volunteer Guards, BSCVGs and six others have been reportedly killed by suspected armed herdsmen in a fresh attack on Tse Fela in Mbabuande Council Ward and Tse Akyegh in Ikaaghev Council Ward of Gwer West Local Government Area, LGA, of the state.

It was gathered that the BSCVG member who was killed in the attack was the Ward Commander of the Guards.

It would be recalled that the two Council Wards had not long ago suffered the same fate when the marauders sacked several villages in the area killing many and rendering hundreds of families homeless.

According to the source in the area, the marauders who stormed the villages at about 3pm Tuesday attacked the villages simultaneously from two fronts, killing anyone the caught up with.

He said, “It was more of a coordinated attack because they came from neighbouring Nasarawa state at the same time and attacked the two villages. They came shooting sporadically and anyone that could not escape was killed.

“They killed the Ward Head of BSCVGs and six others for no reason because we had no previous incidents with them. In fact they were the ones who few weeks back also attacked our people without any reason.

“But before this latest indent some people noticed strange movements in the villages and they raised the alarmed which helped most of the people to flee for their lives but those that could not escape quickly ended up being killed.”

The District Head of Ikaaghev, Chief Adi-Bata who confirm the Killing of people in his district said if the alarm had not been raised to alert the people, the casualty figure would have been much higher.

Chief Bata appealed to security agencies to intensify patrols in the area to save the people from the bloodthirsty marauders.

Confirming the development, the Chairman of the LGA, Mr. Andrew Ayande who said seven persons were killed in the attack added that the communities had been deserted.

“I am sad because the Fulanis are on a mission to chase us away from our communities. It is just sad because these attacks are happening repeatedly.”

Contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer, Superintendent, SP, Catherine Anene said she was yet to receive details of the incident.

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 veteran journalist, Liadi Tella

In this Interview with EMMANUEL OJO, veteran journalist, Liadi Tella, shares the experience of his years of practice and other contemporary issues

You celebrated your 75th birthday on March 3. How do you feel attaining that age despite the below-average life expectancy in this part of the world?

Well, I’m grateful to Almighty Allah that made it possible for me to reach this stage. I’m in good health and sound mind; I just concluded my third book and I’m writing the fourth one. So, for the fact that I am this agile, I need to show gratitude to Almighty God, and I’m very pleased that Allah has been very kind to me. I’m so healthy; I still stand and I still drive myself occasionally. I have a driver and I also exercise a little. I hope I can live a little bit longer.

On your birthday, you got commendations from the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.); and the president-elect, Bola Tinubu. How best can you describe the way you felt?

I feel highly honoured and I pray that the Almighty God will bless the outgoing President and the incoming president. I thank God that he made me a journalist. If he didn’t make me a journalist, how would I have got such recognition from the outgoing President and incoming president? So, I thank God.

How did you venture into journalism? Was it coincidental or intentional?

When I started my journalism career in 1978, I didn’t know I would go that far. I started with Daily Times and by 1982, I was News Editor of The PUNCH before I joined Concord, where I spent one and half years on the foreign desk. God has been very kind to me.

I started unconsciously practising journalism at the Baptist High School, Iwo. I started the club, which was called Adete Press Club. We had a large board where we pasted articles, where people went to read in the morning, afternoon and in the evening, commenting on events around us in Western Nigeria and in Nigeria as a whole, and to answer questions on what we learnt in the class. So, with it, I eventually came up with a magazine called Adete Periscope. Adete Periscope was a student magazine launched by the principal of my school.

My class teacher then, Mr Oladunni, wrote in his testimonial, ‘A potential journalist.’ I went to him and said I couldn’t be a journalist because journalists of that era usually weren’t dressing well and weren’t wearing good shoes. So, I couldn’t fathom it. I said it was not going to be possible but he said, ‘That is what I see in you; you are the founder of Adete Press Club and the founder of Periscope magazine; is that not journalism?’ That was an apt statement from a psychological-oriented teacher. So, when I went for my degree course at the University of Benin, where I read Political Science, believing that I would be an administrator for politicians, in the class Augustus Adebayo, former SGF of the old Western Region, taught us Public Administration and told us in the class that administrators must be seen and not heard, they must be on tar and not on top. I said what kind of thing was that. I said I didn’t want to become a civil servant.

Having practised journalism for about five decades, how will you describe the experience?

Well, let me say that everything surrounds destiny but you have to walk into your destiny. When I was doing the NYSC service with Daily Times, I began to write articles for Times International. I wrote analysis for them since I read Political Science. I wrote great analysis for Times International and commentaries for Sunday Times. Within three months, the management invited me and others to choose between working in the administrative Department and going for Postgraduate Diploma in Journalism at the expense of the company. So, I chose to go for Postgraduate Diploma in Journalism at the then Institute of Journalism, Iganmu. That was where I became a trained journalist. Three months before the end of the NYSC programme, I was employed by Daily Times as a senior reporter. All graduate reporters were senior reporters.

I cannot be grateful to God enough. Four years as a reporter and news editor of The PUNCH. Again, PUNCH was the most radical newspaper in the 80s; respected and feared. You dare not give a PUNCH reporter a ‘brown envelope’, you dare not. We were very hard.

When I was appointed a foreign editor at the Concord, within one and half years, I was sent back to the news room as the editor. I never thought I would have gone back to the newsroom because I was travelling all over the world and I was enjoying myself and writing good reports, which were based on my knowledge of political science. There were no conferences held that I was not invited. I was a member of the International Committee against Apartheid. At some point, I was in Russia, in India, in Spain and all over.

Being an editor in such an era when the military government was in force, how was the experience for you not to compromise on the truth and on matters of public interest?

As journalists then, we were very stubborn. We didn’t mind the military. We were always ready to go to detention. When going to the office, we had our tooth brush and other items with us. Should they (the military) come to arrest, we were ready to go. We balanced our reports and gave people the opportunity to recall their sides of the stories. If we call and the person declines, we call again and after the third time, if there is no response, we publish the story like that and report that all attempts to get through to the person proved abortive. You can’t sue me for treason.

At Concord, I had an encounter that had to do with the military. My reporter scooped a story about military posting. It was detailed. I called the public relations officer of the military and he did not respond. So, we used the story like that and slammed it on the cover. Many of them that were promoted and deployed had yet to get their letter of deployment. The military came for my reporter and arrested her because it was her by-line that was on the story. I told the editor that we had to rescue the reporter, and the training is that you must never disclose your source of information. So, I surrendered myself by going to Apapa, and I told the director that the reporter couldn’t have published a story on her own because I edited and published it and that if there was anyone that should have been arrested, it should have been me. So, I was put in detention and my reporter was released.

After two days of interrogation, they got nothing from me. The last person to interrogate me was my friend from school days, and he told me that I had not stopped my rascality and socialist movement. Then he released me, saying that I shouldn’t die in their detention. I didn’t really care because I felt that the act of the arrest itself would make me more popular in career as a journalist; so, I never minded.

Even in the days of (Major General Tunde) Idiagbon and those eras, things were very tough. In my column in The PUNCH in 1984, I wrote a six-serial titled, ‘The Kingdom of rat and rabbit’ and it was only The PUNCH that could publish such at that time. That was during the time of (Major General Muhammadu) Buhari and Idiagbon, telling them of how they treated Nigerians at the time. Luckily, I was not arrested.

In 1993, the election won by Chief MKO Abiola, who was your boss at the time in Concord, was annulled. What roles did you play at that time and did you have a personal relationship with him?

Apart from official duties as a journalist, I was Special Adviser to Abiola on Islamic Affairs and later turned Religious Affairs, because I was the one connecting the Catholic Church and other churches, seeking assistance and help for Abiola. I was the one that was sent to them with money. I was very close to him and I usually went to his house after the close of work. I would be there sometimes till midnight or past midnight before leaving. That story had been told in a book, one of my books, which will be out soon. So, I was very close to him and was his errand boy to so many people. I enjoyed it.

I saw the whole thing coming. In 1990, I wrote him a four-page letter that in making reparation for the Black race for over 200 years of slavery, the Americans would not look kindly at him. The European colonists who are owners of France and Britain would not look kindly at you to let them to pay reparation. If Germans under Hitler, who killed six million Jews, were meant to pay reparation from 1947 to 1990, why shouldn’t Africa be paid reparation for over 200 years of slavery and who were the beneficiaries of the slave trade? It was America and Europe. I knew they were going to conspire against him.

Secondly, he held a world conference on food sufficiency for the continent of Africa where he brought agric experts from all over the world in London and for two weeks, they were brainstorming on the Africa food plan. That was adopted by the OAU (Organisation of African Unity), now called AU (African Union) and later adopted by the United Nations. MKO Abiola used his personal and private resources to do these things. If he had become the president of Nigeria, you can imagine what he would have done. So, the West feared him, so, they conspired against him and killed him, using our local artists.

When the election was coming, it was the Yoruba people that dragged him into the presidential race; he (Abiola) never wanted to contest the presidency. At a time, he said he didn’t have money to go for or contest such an enterprise, that if he knew, he would have been saving for some 15 years earlier. The leaders of Yorubaland, about 16 of them, accompanied by Baba Gbadamosi came to visit MKO and in a single night, they raised N600m as donation.

What was your experience of the Abacha junta that shut down media houses?

I was not under any particular threat at that time because I was the deputy editor of the National Concord and the daily production of the paper took me away from the centrality of the actualisation of the June 12 struggle. I was only providing backup, networking, soliciting to media and protecting Kudirat (Abiola), who was upholding the mandate of her husband.

The day she was killed, we struggled to prevent her from going out because we had information that mad killers were after her but she was to meet the French ambassador. Sadly, I wrote the story of her assassination myself, where I laid out the story the way it happened.

You also ventured into politics at some point and contested the House of Representatives seat for the Iwo Federal Constituency but lost. What prompted you to venture into politics?

Well, as a journalist, I was connected to the movers and shakers of Nigeria, and whenever they were taking critical decisions, I also wanted something for my town, Iwo. But each time I wanted to intercept, they told me to also go into politics. So, I ventured into politics so that I could also attract federal projects to my constituency. It wasn’t really that I lost, but the Action Congress of Nigeria then rigged me out through my agent at the collation centre.

The BVAS was used in accreditation but could not transmit results in real time during the presidential and National Assembly elections as promised and that was used as a yardstick by many, including international observers, to say that the polls were not credible enough. What is your response to this?

I disagree with that because they (international observers) are agents of imperialism and they marked Nigerians down and wanted us to move towards their own kind of democracy and not our own kind of democracy. Hillary Clinton had an election in America, beat her opponent by almost two million votes and she was not declared president. Is that democracy?

What do you actually mean by ‘our kind of democracy’ and how does that differentiate from that practised in the United States?

Hillary Clinton, despite winning, was not declared winner. The white supremacies of America are the manipulators of the American election. They must be told the truth; they should leave Nigeria alone. America should leave Nigeria alone. They are the ones that killed Abiola. They had several plots, about six plots to stop Tinubu (Jagaban) from becoming the president of Nigeria. They did everything possible but God disgraced them.

Peter Obi, the candidate of the Labour Party, didn’t garner his votes from the South-East alone. Some Yoruba and youths voted for him. How will you react to this?

Let them come out with the facts and figures. Facts are sacred. Well, Obi gave a good account of himself. The role of the church is that they are far more responsible for the election than the role of the youth. The Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, Catholic and other churches went to the grassroots to make sure that Obi was treated as the preferred candidate. Religion was taken to the highest point than any other election in the history of Nigeria.

During the Nigerian Civil War when the Igbo crossed Benin to Akure, we, the Yoruba donated two trailers loaded with food items and animals to the Biafran Army in Western Nigeria. If we hated the Igbo, we wouldn’t have done that. The impression given to the young Igbo is that Yoruba are traitors, but we will treat that on another day. We were never traitors to the Igbo. The subject matter is that those who want to destroy Nigeria are at work and they are making sure that Nigeria does not industrialise and work to become the world power. I am saying it loud and clear, please quote me. If they like, they can come for me. I will die at the time appointed for me. This blackmail of election is a plot to destroy Nigeria and we must not play into their hands.

Are there changes that journalism has undergone over the years based on the kind of journalism you practised then and that which is being practised now?

It is a very grave disaster. This era we find ourselves is the era of ‘fend for yourself’ journalism. Many media houses are not paying salaries. They also don’t give letter of employment, don’t give condition of service or review salaries for 10 years and the Nigerian journalists will be fighting for the Nigeria Labour Congress, for government to review the salaries of workers.

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The Zamfara State Police Command has paraded 21 suspects for various criminal offences, including banditry, kidnapping, theft and vandalisation, among others.

The Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the command, SP Mohammed Shehu, said 17 of the suspects took part in post-election violence that led to the vandalisation and looting of public and private properties, including All Progressives Congress (APC) campaign offices across the state capital.

Items recovered are two semi-silent generators belonging to the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Gusau; two standing refrigerator; vandalised doors; windows, tables, chairs, electric wires and different calibres of electronics, couches, 40 pieces of women’s wrappers, burglar-proof for windows and pillar reinforcement rods.

It could be recalled that police detectives led by the Commissioner of Police, Kolo Yusuf, had earlier arrested 40 suspects, recovered some of the looted items and vandalised property worth millions of naira which were displayed, and later charged the suspects to court and thereafter, remanded them in prison.

The police command in Zamfara also arrested a “wanted” notorious bandit accused of terrorising the state and environs.

The suspect, a male aged 25, was arrested by police tactical operatives on patrol who acted on intelligence.

According to the police, the suspect was already on the wanted list of the police for banditry, kidnapping and other heinous crimes.

“In the course of investigation, the suspect confessed of series of attacks and kidnapping on different communities in Zamfara State where millions of Naira collected as ransom from the relations. The suspect who further confessed of bearing GPMG during their operations, mentioned some of his allied which the police detectives is working assiduously to arrest. Discreet Investigation is ongoing,” the police said.

The command also arrested two suspects in connection with possession of 22 rustled livestock.

The suspects, aged 31 and 55, were reportedly arrested when the police were on patrol. Acting on intelligence information, they said to have intercepted and arrested three Toyota buses loaded with suspected stolen cows, sheep and goat from Dansadau to Gusau.

On sighting the police, the suspects attempted to abandon the vehicles and exhibits to escape, but they were rounded up and arrested by the police operatives, the authorities said.

“Suspects are currently undergoing discreet Investigation that will lead to the arrest of their collaborators before being charged to court for prosecution,” the PPRO added.

The Commissioner of Police, Kolo Yusuf, while applauding the people of Zamfara State for their unalloyed support and partnership, tasked them to sustain the synergy with the police and other security agencies for effective service delivery.

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The Department of State Services has said the embattled self-acclaimed Eze Igbo of Ajao Estate, Lagos State, Chief Fredrick Nwajagu, will be transferred to Abuja from the Lagos holding facility.

A security source at the DSS Headquarters, Abuja, who craved anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, disclosed this to Sunday PUNCH.

In an interview with one of our correspondents on Saturday night, the source said, “He is in our custody in Lagos. We expect him to be taken to Abuja. He may not be alone.

“We have said before that there are people who are threatening the peace of the nation. The country will not allow anyone to plunge it into avoidable crisis.”

Sunday PUNCH reports that Nwajagu was arrested during a raid by a joint team of policemen and operatives of the DSS on Saturday.

A source within the Force, who preferred to be anonymous, told Sunday PUNCH that the Igbo leader had been arrested.

“A team of police and DSS went to his palace but he had already fled. He was later traced to a hotel in Ejigbo where he was arrested,” the source said.

Meanwhile, the state police spokesperson, Benjamin Hundeyin, confirmed the arrest, adding that the chief had been handed over to the DSS for further action over his inciting comments.

He said, “Yes, he (Fredrick) has been arrested and is currently in the custody of the DSS. They are in charge of anything associated with terrorism.”

In a now-viral video sighted by one of our correspondents, Nwajagu, speaking in a mixture of Igbo and English, had issued a threat to invite members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra to secure the property of Igbo people in the state.

He said, “We must have our security so that they will stop attacking us at midnight, in the morning and the afternoon.

“When they discover that we have our security, they will think twice before attacking us. I am not saying a single word to be hidden.”

He also charged the public to make his claims go viral.

Reacting, the leadership of the Lagos State chapter of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide said the comments made by Nwajagu did not represent the ideals of the Igbo people in Lagos.

The President of the socio-cultural group, Chief Solomon Ogbonna-Aguene, said the detained chief would be made to face the music alone, adding that he spoke out of his interest.

“He (Igbo leader) did not discuss his statement with any of us. The comments are his personal decisions and for his personal interests. Ohanaeze does not support such comment as its views.

“There are some comments that should not be heard from us as a socio-cultural organisation. We are supposed to be apolitical.

“We are not in support of what Chief Fredrick said. For him to mention that he is going to bring IPOB to Lagos is completely unnecessary. No Igbo person will support such arrangement. So, he is the one that will answer for himself. Let him go and face the music,” he said.

Ogbonna-Aguene explained that Igbo people had not found things easy with IPOB even in the South-East, stating that it was unfair for Nwajagu to threaten to invite the group to Lagos.

“Why then should he bring it up here in Lagos? If he wants to speak to IPOB, he should have met with them in his personal capacity, not as Eze Igbo. Who gave him the power to speak on Igbo interest,” Ogbonna-Aguene queried.

When contacted, the Chairman, Supreme Council of Ndi-Eze, Lagos State, Mr Omega Lawrence, said Nwajagu was not an Eze in Lagos.

“He is not a member of the Council of Eze. That is the truth. He is just our brother and his statements are unfortunate, but we cannot deny him. I condemn the statement in its entirety. We are not part of it,” Lawrence added.

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