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CAR: Hundreds of families torn apart by conflict

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ICRC, Maritime First Newspaper

Hundreds of people in the Central African Republic have no news of their loved ones following the conflict and other armed violence in the country. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), working closely with the Central African Red Cross Society, is pursuing its efforts to help these people trace and contact their relatives.

Forced to leave their homes in search of safety elsewhere in the country or in neighbouring countries, many families became split up as they fled. Children and adults alike became separated from the rest of their families and in many cases have heard nothing for months on end. This uncertainty is a torment, making daily life even harder to bear.

Worry and uncertainty takes its toll on the whole family. The longer it goes on, the greater their despair and anguish. Those separated from their families undergo an ordeal. Alone, without their family’s protection and support, individuals – especially children – are even more vulnerable. “While the conflict and other violence persists, this problem is unlikely to be resolved any time soon,” said Ahmed Berrad, who runs the ICRC’s protection activities in the Central African Republic.

ICRC staff and Central African Red Cross volunteers are striving to alleviate the suffering of those affected. They try to trace the missing people and, wherever possible, restore contact between family members. “In most cases, just getting news of their loved ones is a huge psychological relief for the families and restores their hope,” said Mr Berrad. “With their consent, we prioritize reuniting children with an adult family member.”

In 2014, the ICRC and the Central African Red Cross registered more than 561 people separated from their families. Their tracing efforts, both in the country and abroad, have resulted in 108 children and three vulnerable adults being reunited with their families, while the fate of a further 38 people reported missing was clarified. Relatives kept apart by the conflict were also able to stay in touch thanks to the delivery of over 650 Red Cross messages (short, written messages containing family news) and 172 phone calls facilitated by the ICRC.

In a conflict that has driven some people to seek refuge beyond the borders of the Central African Republic, the ICRC – which is also present in neighbouring countries – is able to adopt a regional approach to this issue. Stretching from the refugee camps of Likouala in the far north of the Republic of the Congo to the camps of Moundou in southern Chad, the ICRC and the National Red Cross Societies tirelessly continue their efforts to trace loved ones torn apart by the fighting. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2014, the ICRC traced and registered 113 unaccompanied children from the Central African Republic, as well as two demobilized children, one of whom was repatriated to the Central African Republic. Other children who fled the conflict in the Central African Republic were also registered in Chad (16), Cameroon (5) and the Republic of the Congo (4) and subsequently reunited with their families.
  
In the Central African Republic between 25 January and 28 February 2015, the ICRC, in cooperation with the Central African Red Cross:
performed over 150 operations at Bangui community hospital and referred over 20 patients from Kaga Bandoro regional hospital; 
carried out over 500 emergency consultations at Bangui community hospital and over 3,000 consultations at Kaga Bandoro regional hospital; 
carried out 700 general consultations and over 140 prenatal consultations at Dissikou health centre; 
carried out 890 consultations and treated 758 patients for malaria in Obo and Birao; evacuated 38 wounded people to Kaga Bandoro regional hospital; 
distributed food to 11,000 displaced people in Bangui; distributed food to over 3,000 displaced people along the route between Bambari and Ippy; 
distributed food to 120 families with malnourished children being treated at Kaga Bandoro hospital.

Accidents

Crash: NGX Group Mourns Ogunbanjo, Commiserates With Wigwe Family

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…As EFCC hunts for Emefiele, 3 Others

The Nigerian Exchange Group Plc (NGX Group) has mourned the death of its Group Chairman, Mr Abimbola Ogunbanjo in a helicopter crash in the United States of America.

The firm also commiserated with the family of the Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Access Holdings Plc, Dr Herbert Wigwe, who also died along with his wife and son in the same mishap.

Ogunbanjo, Wigwe, his wife, son, and two others died in a helicopter crash in California, U.S A. on Feb. 9.

The Group Chairman of NGX Group, Alhaji Umaru Kwairanga, in a statement, expressed condolences to the families of the departed souls, describing their death as untimely.

*The late Abimbola Ogunbanjo

Kwairanga said the late Ogunbanjo’s leadership had left an indelible mark on the company and the broader Nigerian financial community, noting that his legacy would continue to inspire the group.

The NGX group chairman stated that the late Wigwe also left an unblemished footprint in the group’s private sector.

“NGX Group is deeply saddened to acknowledge the tragic passing of our former chairman, Access Holdings Group CEO, Dr Wigwe, along with his wife and son, in a helicopter accident in the United States of America.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with their families during this difficult time. May their souls rest in peace and may the Almighty comfort their families,” he said.

Also, the NGX Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Mr Temi Popoola, described the passing of Ogunbanjo as a profound loss to the group and the entire Nigerian private sector.

Popoola said that the late Ogunbanjo played a crucial role in shaping the conglomerate.
According to him, while the late NGX Group chairman will be sorely missed, his visionary leadership and impact will never be forgotten.

*The late Dr. Herbert Wigwe

He also described the death of Wigwe, his wife, and his son in the helicopter accident as heartbreaking.

Popoola said that the contributions of the two respected leaders to the financial markets and the overall private sector would continue to be remembered.

“We are committed to preserving their legacies by upholding the principles of leadership, innovation and dedication that they exemplified,” he said.

According to the statement, the late Ogunbanjo, a visionary leader and luminary in Nigeria’s corporate legal and capital market spheres, served as President of the National Council of Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) from 2017 to 2021.

As the first Group Chairman of NGX Group from 2021 to 2022, following the demutualization of the Exchange, the late Ogunbanjo’s strategic acumen and dedication were instrumental in shaping the group’s transformative journey.

Beyond his role at NGX Group, the late former group chairman was a distinguished legal practitioner, serving as Managing Partner of Chris Ogunbanjo LP (Solicitors).

He served on the boards of several multinational corporations and non-profit organisations, including Beta Glass Plc and the Advisory Board of the University of Buckingham Centre for Extractive Studies.

He also served on the board of GTL Registrars Ltd., AIICO Insurance Plc, and ConocoPhillips Ltd., amongst others.

“Ogunbanjo’s contributions to the legal profession and corporate governance were exemplary, earning him widespread respect and admiration,” the statement added.

In another development, the EFCC has declared Mrs Margaret Emefiele, wife of the former governor of the CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele wanted for alleged money laundering.

EFCC’s spokesman, Mr Dele Oyewale, stated in Abuja that three other persons had been declared wanted alongside Margaret in the same office.

He went on to publish the photographs of the suspects and some of their details on the EFCC website and its “X’’ handle.

The three other persons declared wanted alongside Margaret were Mr Eric Odoh, Mrs Anita Omoile, and Mr. Jonathan Omoile.

Oyewale stated that the quartet allegedly colluded with the former CBN governor to divert “huge sums of money’’ from the Federal Government coffers.

“The charges include obtaining money by false pretences, theft, and contravention of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State.

“Individuals with information regarding the whereabouts of Margaret Emefiele, Eric Odoh, Anita Omoile, and Jonathan Omoile are urged to contact any EFCC office or call 08093322644,’’ Oyewale stated

It would be recalled that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Saturday confirmed the crash of a helicopter carrying six passengers in a Southern California desert near Las Vegas.

All the passengers on board are reported to have died.

Mr Herbert Wigwe, the Chief Executive Officer of Access Holdings, who died in the helicopter was reportedly on board with five others believed to be his wife, son and Mr Abimbola Ogunbanjo, the Group Chairman of Nigerian Exchange Group Plc.

According to FAA, the crash occurred on Friday around 10 p.m. local time near Nipton, California.

However, the FAA did not make available the list of the passengers involved in the accident at the time of filing their report.

The family members of some Nigerians suspected to have been involved in the crash did not respond to calls.

But Mr Tunde Moshood, the Specialist, Asset and Communications to the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, described Wigwe as a leader with an unwavering dedication to his nation and his indomitable spirit serves as an inspiration to us all.

“Though he may have left this world prematurely, his vision and values will continue to guide us as we strive for a brighter future.

“Adieu, Herbert Wigwe. Your presence will be sorely missed, but your legacy will endure as a beacon of hope and progress,” he said.

Born on Aug. 15, 1966, in Isiokpo, Port Harcourt, Herbert Wigwe has carved a niche for himself in the world of finance.

He obtained a degree in accountancy from the University of Nigeria and further education in Banking and Finance, Financial Economics, and an executive programme from Harvard Business School.

Wigwe’s impact was not limited to banking. His passion for philanthropy led him to establish the Herbert Wigwe Foundation, fostering education and entrepreneurship in Nigeria.

His dedication earned him the Order of the Niger (CON) and admiration from peers and the public.

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Accidents

OVERSPEEDING: Lone Accident Claims 4 Lives On Sagamu-Benin Expressway

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Niger auto crash: 4 persons die, 6 injured – FRSC

No fewer than four persons were confirmed dead on Friday in a lone accident involving a Toyota Camry car at Area J3 on the Sagamu-Benin Expressway.

Mrs Florence Okpe, the Spokesperson of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) in Ogun confirmed the incident to newsmen in Abeokuta.

Okpe explained that the accident occurred at 11:40 am and was caused by excessive speed on the part of the driver which led to loss of control.

She said that the vehicle marked BDG 184 FY veered off the road and somersaulted into a swamp.

“A total of four persons, three men and one woman were involved and they all died from the lone crash.

“The suspected cause of the lone crash was excessive speed which led to loss of control and the vehicle veered off the road and somersaulted into a swamp,” she said.

Okpe explained that the deceased were deposited at the Ijebu-Ode General Hospital morgue.

The Sector Commander, Anthony Uga, advised motorists taking long journeys to always have 15 minutes rest after a four-hour drive to avoid fatigue while driving and also go within the stipulated speed limit.

He sympathised with the family of the victims, enjoining them to contact FRSC Ogbere for more information about the crash.

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Explosion Rocks Ibadan, 2 Dead, over 100 Injured

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Makinde Explains Delay In Emergence of New Aalafin, Soun, Swears In New CJ

…Illegal mining activities suspected!

A deafening explosion rocked the elitist Bodija area of Ibadan Tuesday night, instantly collapsing buildings, and seriously blowing off several buildings’ rooftops, in addition to shattering glass windows of houses, 500 metres away. 

Two persons were pulled out of the rubble, dead, while over 100 persons were injured, some of them, very seriously.

The explosion occurred around 7.43 pm on January 16, 2024, at Dejo Oyelese Street at the Adeyi Estate, affecting about 20 buildings, aside from shaking the ground like a mild earth tremor. it also emitted observable light waves, and heavy smoke, thereby creating genuine panic and fear.

A man praying in the nearby mosque was among the first casualty as he was rushed to a nearby Christian Hospital, in an emergency.

There were palpable fears that the explosion was caused either by illegal mining or, some activities not unconnected with mining. However, this may not be confirmed until a proper investigation is undertaken.

An eye witness told the Maritime First that a building with a heavy presence of foreigners, and a football-field size empty backyard, had plenty of dynamites used for mining was suddenly engulfed by fire, a fire which finally touched the inflamable dynamite, resulting in a bomb-like explosion, which was easily heard, miles away.

*One of the casualties

The source said while it could not be ascertained if the illegal mining was taking place within the estate or not, it could however not be argued that dynamites usually utilised for mining was involved.

The Christian hospital lived up to expectations, as it had the solution for those rushed there in emergency. From the hospital gate, however, a staff was heard, requesting additional hands from their other branches. One lady was placed on oxygen.

The Oyo State Governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde cancelled every other state matter and rushed to the scene, following which he deployed first responders and all relevant agencies within Oyo State to carry out comprehensive search and rescue operations.

“We have already deployed first responders and all relevant agencies within Oyo State to carry out comprehensive search and rescue operations. These operations will continue throughout the night”, the Governor stressed.

Consequently, earth-moving equipment, ambulances, emergency lights, and security were deployed to the scene of the incident, even as ambulances plied to and from the area.

“The wounded and injured are being treated and moved to public and private hospitals within Ibadan. Medical personnel are on standby at these hospitals to provide all needed assistance to the injured. We have visited UCH to see some of those injured during the incident. 

“In total, we have 77 injured victims so far, most of whom were treated and discharged and 2 fatalities. May their souls rest in peace and may God give their loved ones the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss”, the Governor indicated further.

By 10. 26pm a crowd of onlookers, some of them miscreants had built up in front of the ACE Mall. But they were overwhelmed by the presence of a pronounced presence of Amotekun Corps, which was joined at 9.58 pm by OYRTHMA operatives, in four vehicles, one of them, a towing van.

By 10.29 pm, some officers of the military arrived at the ACE Mall, ordered the Gate of the Christian Hospital shut, and sent the crowd of miscreants packing!

Reacting to the development, a resident who spoke on condition of anonymity urged the Authorities to scratch beyond the surface, saying he believes the explosion could have a lot to do with illegal mining activities.

“Why do they call that place ‘the Dungeon’? What kind of explosives do they use there that is capable of blowing a car off its tyres, into the air?” he asked.

He described mining as a heavy capital investment which is currently, silently run like Mafia stuff. 

“Killing is constantly involved, either by design or circumstances. And that in many instances, people call them in the North, herdsmen or kidnappers, whereas they are just illegal miners or miners’ extension.

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