Forests across Nigeria taken over by terrorists — Akeredolu laments


By Dayo Johnson & Johnbosco Agbakwuru, AKURE

Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, yesterday, pleaded with the international community to help Nigeria in the fight against terrorism.

He also raised alarm that forests across the country had been taken over by terrorists now terrorising Nigerians.

Akeredolu spoke on a day President Muhammadu Buhari directed increased kinetic and non-kinetic efforts to trace and bring back the 51 or more kidnapped railway passengers still being held by terrorists.

This is even as families of the kidnapped victims yesterday, for the second time in a week, raised alarm that the freed victims were mentally unstable, sick, traumatized and hospitalized.

The mediator between the Federal Government and the terrorists holding on to the train kidnapped victims, Tukur Mamu, had on Monday raised alarm that the remaining 51 victims who had become very sick and might die, if the government failed to act fast.

Mamu is spokesman of popular Islamic cleric, Sheikh Abubakar Gumi.

Akeredolu, who spoke while receiving members of the Council of All Saints Church, Jericho, Ibadan, who came on a condolence visit, called for international assistance to combat terrorism. The team was led by chairman of Council, Dr Onnuola Adewunmi.

The governor said: “We have terrorists in Nigeria. We need the world to assist Nigeria.

“If Nigeria doesn’t want it, Ondo State wants it. They still attacked somewhere in Ogun State recently. There are terrorists lurking in our forests.”

The governor, who also canvassed that Nigerians be trained on basic civil-defence, reiterated that the people must be prepared for any eventuality.

He also called on churches to install CCTV as part of the security measures to prevent a recurrence of Owo terror attack.

While thanking members of the church for the condolence visit, Akeredolu said: “I belong to a church that I am very proud of. And that church deemed it fit at this time in our state to pay a condolence visit.”

Earlier, the chairman of Council, Dr  Adewunmi, who commiserated with the governor and the people of the state over Owo massacre, assured that the church would intensify prayers for the state.

Adewunmi said: “You could trust that your church has always been praying for you.

“You could trust that your church has always supported you in prayers on numerous occasions.

“This one really overwhelmed us, that such a heinous crime could be committed in our land.”

Buhari seeks use of kinetic, non-kinetic means to free kidnapped rail passengers

Meanwhile, President Buhari, in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, explained that approval was continuing on a two-lane approach, kinetic and non-kinetic, to secure the train passengers’ safe release.

The negotiator for the Abuja-Kaduna train attack victims, Mallam Tukur Mamu, had recently raised the alarm over the deteriorating health condition of the remaining victims in the kidnappers’ den.

Mamu, who is also publisher of the Kaduna-based Desert Herald newspaper, expressed fears that some of the victims currently being subjected to horrible conditions and were bitten by snakes, might not survive, if the Federal Government did not act urgently to ensure their release.

The setback notwithstanding, the presidency explained that the Federal Government was not leaving any stone unturned in efforts to bring all of the hostages back.

Similarly, the Defence, Security and Intelligence agencies have given assurances to intensify operational engagements towards securing the rescue of all hostages and restoring peace to all parts of the country.

The agencies said in a  statement yesterday: “The Federal Government is also mindful of efforts of some patriotic and influential persons and institutions that are helping in securing the safe release of the hostages.

“President Buhari welcomes the return of the recently released passengers back to their families and loved ones, while expressing his solemn commitment to the families of those still in captivity, assuring that there will be no let-up until they are reunited with their families in the shortest time possible.

“The President’s clear directive on the issue is that the hostages must be brought home alive. The country’s military and security agencies are aware of their duty to the nation and are determined to give effect to the President’s charge with increased urgency.”