Nobody’s safe in Katsina now, Gov Masari cries out

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Governor, Aminu Masari

…Fed Govt votes N792m to refurbish aircraft***

…As Airforce helicopter crashes in Boko Haram combat***

Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State, yesterday, raised the alarm that the state is under security siege, stating categorically that no one, not even himself, is safe.

According to him, reports from security agencies reveal that kidnapping, armed robbery, banditry and cattle rustling are now the order of the day in the state.

The alarm by the governor is coming barely 24 hours after his Borno State counterpart, Kashim Shettima, raised similar concern about worsening security situation in his state, following the escalation of attacks on soldiers and civilians by Boko Haram.

Only a few days ago, Zamfara State Governor, Abdulaziz Yari, also expressed helplessness about the security situation in state, declaring that he wouldn’t mind the Federal Government imposing a state of emergency on the state.

Governor Masari, who spoke at an extraordinary security meeting In Katsina to find a lasting solution to the resurgence of insecurity in the state, said:  “Today (yesterday), reports I received from security agencies are all about threat of kidnapping, armed robbery and banditry.

“No one, not even myself, is safe. So, this is the situation and that is why we are here to find a way out, which is a must. There is no option because we are thinking of the survival of our people and state. 

“It is now a daily occurrence as no day passes without a case recorded. It is not even rustling of cows but now kidnapping of people.

“Our state is currently under serious siege by armed robbers, kidnappers and armed bandits who arrest rural people at the grassroots at will and demand ransom, which if not paid, they kill their victims.

“The Permanent Secretary was just informing me that his close relative was kidnapped and a ransom of N5 million was demanded and the person who took the money to them was shot.

“Some people visited me, and as they left, they were trailed and robbed of their belongings. The armed robbers could not go away with the vehicle because it has security lock on it. “In the past, they carried out their activities in the middle of the night, but now, they operate at midnight, 10pm and gradually in broad day light.

“It is not up to a month, right here in front of  Government House, five electricity poles were carted away.

It is getting out of hand that we should not fold our arms. Let’s return to God, let’s pray to Him to salvage the situation.  So we must reach a lasting solution at this meeting to curtail this ugly trend.

“The citizens are on daily basis being harassed by bandits and kidnappers that are on rampage in the state.

“The Katsina government organised this one-day joint security and stakeholders meeting to proffer solutions to the state’s current insecurity challenge.

“The people of Katsina in the 34 local governments now sleep with one eye closed and the other opened.

In the meantime, the Federal Government is to spend N792 million to upgrade one of the aircraft in the Presidential Air Fleet (PAF), details of this year’s Appropriation Bill have shown.

Another N607 million will be disbursed on the ongoing “phased replacement of vehicles, spare parts and tyres in the Presidency, CVU (Common Vehicle Unit), security/police escort and State House operational fleets”.

According to the 2019 budgetary proposal submitted to the National Assembly, the N792, 000, 000 mandatory upgrade and installation of live TV and internet service is for the presidential jet identified as BBJ (5N-FGT).

The 5N-FGT Boeing 737-700 is registered to the Government of Nigeria and it is a Boeing Business Jet aircraft with some external features of a commercial aircraft, but essentially a private jet.

Also, the presidential air fleet is asking for N50 million to carry out a “compliance with mandatory upgrade and installation of internet service on a second presidential aircraft, the G550 (5N-FGW), which has 5N-FGW (Nigerian Air Force) Gulfstream G550 as its registration details”.

Another N650, 000,000 was voted for the mandatory upgrades of the other aircraft in the PAF. The details of the aircraft scheduled for refurbishment were not specified.

The PAF is domiciled in the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and the Department of State Security (DSS), thereby ensuring an extremely high level of security cover.

The Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) is seeking approval for a N6, 748,846,483 as its budget proposal for this year, even as other government agencies plan television-related initiatives to boost their visibility.

The National Action Committee On Aids (NACA) applied for approval to spend N20 million on its media activities on radio and television, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) aims to spend N40 million on radio and television jingles  and the Federal Ministry of Science & Technology targets expenditure of N94 million on the “Establishment of a Science, Technology and Innovation Television Station in Abuja”.

In the Budget 2019 proposals, anti-corruption and accountability agencies are to receive various allocations for recurrent and capital expenditures.

About N3.1 billion has been earmarked for the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation, N1 billion for the Code of Conduct Tribunal, N110 billion for the Judiciary and N5.9 billion for the Independent Corrupt Practices and Related Offences Commission (ICPC).

The EFCC’s N22 billion vote covers various projects, including the expansion of the agency’s detention facilities to accommodate those under interrogation.

It was learnt that N2, 617,966 will be spent to ensure the completion of the EFCC detention facility in Maiduguri. The completion of the detention facility in Gombe will gulp N2, 094,373 and N3, 141,559 will be disbursed on the ongoing expansion of the commission’s cell in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

Meanwhile, a Nigerian Air Force (NAF) helicopter crashed in combat on Wednesday night while providing close air support to troops of 145 Battalion at Damasak in Northern Borno State.

Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, Director of Public Relations and Information disclosed this, but he did not disclose the model of the helicopter or how many personnel were inside it at the time the crash happened. Nigerian Air Force has over a dozen of Russian made helicopters, MMil Mi-17 and Mil Mi-24 models.

Daramola said the aircraft was involved in the ongoing counterinsurgency operations in the North East.

“The incident, occurred about 7:45 pm today, 2 January 2019. Details of the cause of the crash are still scanty”, he said.

“As soon as the details of the crash are known, they will be made available to the public”, Daramola added.

The loss happened hours after Daramola informed the nation that
The Air Task Force (ATF) of Operation LAFIYA DOLE destroyed a building being used as meeting venue by Boko Haram fighters near Baga in Northern Borno State.

“The attack”, he said, “was conducted 1 Jan 2019, after series of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions confirmed that the building was being used as an assembly point by the terrorists. Consequently, the ATF dispatched a NAF Alpha Jet aircraft to attack the building.”

“A direct hit was recorded on the target leading to significant damage to the structure and neutralisation of the occupants”, he added.

Vanguard with additional report from The Nation and The Citizen