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Former President Good luck Johnathan sends Independence message

Benjamin Ukpabi

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Former President Dr. Goodluck Jonathan has told Nigerians not to lose hope in their nation even as he charged them to be purposeful in playing their own role towards making the country great.

The former President stated this in a goodwill message to Nigerians as the nation marks 60th Independence Day on Thursday.

He noted that the journey of Nigeria has been that of mixed fortunes, adding that it requires the commitment of all citizens to build a strong and prosperous nation.

He said: “Like many other great nations, our journey has been that of mixed fortunes. Our nation has been through periods of progress and times of setbacks. We have experienced eras of strength, unity and faith as well as seasons of weakness, trials and despair. Despite these challenges, we have remained as one, and nurtured our democracy to 21 unbroken years.

“I therefore urge us to make investments that will shore up the democratic gains and work towards building strong and virile institutions. We need to harness the greatness that lies within our diversity and the strength of our population, to recreate and build the Nigeria we desire. We must de-emphasize our fault lines and concentrate on the silver lining within our lands.

“Every great nation is built on the patriotic sacrifices of its citizens. We should show love, unity and understanding in times of trials and never lose hope in the presence of despair. This is the spirit that is required to build our nation, to enable us live in the land of our collective dreams.”

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Dr. Jonathan also paid tribute to those patriots who had paid the supreme price towards advancing the course of our nationhood, stressing that they will continue to be Nigeria’s heroes.

Below is full text of the Goodwill Message:

NIGERIA AT 60: WE SHOULD NOT DESPAIR
I congratulate all Nigerians as we celebrate our 60th Independence Anniversary. Today is another unique day in our nation’s history. It marks six decades of the anniversary of our self-rule. It is an occasion that commemorates our political freedom.

Sixty years ago, we made a procession of victory, as we bade farewell to colonialism and emancipated our lands from the clutches of servitude. It was a day of hope, promises and great expectations amplified by the reality of freedom and the vista of vast opportunities.

We may not have met all the expectations and fulfilled all the promises that came with our independence. It may seem that we are punching below our weight in terms of the rate of development and economic growth but we have recorded some progress, triumphed over challenges and excelled in many spheres. In sports, entertainment, arts, education and even in politics; The Green – White – Green has flown with pride, honour and dignity in the comity of nations, in the last 60 years.

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Like many other great nations, our journey has been that of mixed fortunes. Our nation has been through periods of progress and times of setbacks. We have experienced eras of strength, unity and faith as well as seasons of weakness, trials and despair. Despite these challenges, we have remained as one, and nurtured our democracy to 21 unbroken years.

Nation building is a journey and everyone has a role to play for us to arrive safely in our desired destination. Today, we are confronted with numerous challenges and we require the commitment of all citizens to stabilize this nation. As a democrat, I believe that democracy remains the best platform for nation building, as it affords every citizen the opportunity to have a say on how our country should be governed.

I therefore urge us to make investments that will shore up the democratic gains and work towards building strong and virile institutions. We need to harness the greatness that lies within our diversity and the strength of our population, to recreate and build the Nigeria we desire. We must de-emphasize our fault lines and concentrate on the silver lining within our lands.

Every great nation is built on the patriotic sacrifices of its citizens. We should show love, unity and understanding in times of trials and never lose hope in the presence of despair. This is the spirit that is required to build our nation, to enable us live in the land of our collective dreams.

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Today Nigeria and the rest of the world are going through a major health crisis, that has continued to threaten the stability of states and their institutions as well as the lives and livelihoods of citizens. We must never give up, no matter the challenges we face today. We should not live in despair of opportunities lost or dreams deferred.

Let us seize the opportunities that this pandemic presents to recreate and build a stronger nation. Our success as a nation lies in the fervency of our faith, the strength of our unity and commitment to our national creed: unity and faith, peace and progress. Let us work in solidarity to ensure that this national creed does not become a mere slogan but a lived experience for all.

Dear Compatriots, as we celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of our independence, we should recognize that not many are privileged to witness this moment as some have paid the supreme price defending and upholding our nation’s unity and advancing the course of our nationhood. I wish to pay a special tribute to these patriots who will continue to be our heroes.

And to all other Nigerians, this is not a time to lose faith in our nation. We should be steadfast in service; promoting peace, unity and hope. Let us sustain the national conversations in search of equity, justice and unity and progress.

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Breaking: Gunmen raze police station in Abia

Wisdom Nwachukwu

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While details of the attack were still sketchy at the time of filing the report, it was gathered the gunmen overpowered the policemen on duty and released suspects in custody.

It was however not clear if they invaded the police armoury.

Gunmen have reportedly attacked and razed down a police station in Uzoakoli, Bende local government area of Abia State.

The incident occurred in the early hours of Monday.

details shortly…

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Before I Fled Boko Haram’s Den, Many Chibok Schoolgirls Were Pregnant

Wisdom Nwachukwu

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A student of the College of Business and Management Studies in Konduga, Juliana Christopher, who was kidnapped by Boko Haram, has said she saw many Chibok girls in the insurgents’ camp.

He added that many small girls were either pregnant or nursing children belonging to the insurgents.

Christopher, in an interview with The PUNCH, said he spent three weeks in Boko Haram camp after the insurgents, who were dressed in military uniforms, stormed her school in Borno State and abducted her.

She explained that after she and her colleagues were kidnapped by the insurgents, they took them into the forest, where she saw other victims who were pregnant and nursing babies of the Boko Haram insurgents.

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She said, “On reaching their camp, we met many young girls there and the whole place was in disarray. It was in 2014 and I was in the Boko Haram camp for three weeks. We met Chibok girls in the camp. While in the camp, I saw so many small girls, who were kidnapped. Some were being molested.

“Some were carrying children, while others were pregnant for the Boko Haram insurgents. It was a disgusting thing. Fortunately for me and some other girls, we escaped from the forest and found our way back to Chibok.”

My abduction led to my father’s death, now I can’t continue education –Konduga student, who escaped from Boko Haram captivity
She explained that her father took ill shortly after she was kidnapped, adding that efforts to rescue him proved abortive.

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She said, “On getting to Chibok, I found the whole community in a state of confusion; so, I asked after my parents and was told that my father took ill when he heard about my abduction and my mother took him to the hospital in Maiduguri. I set out to go and look for them in Maiduguri, but I could not go far because the road was blocked and no movement was allowed, except for military vehicles; in that process, my father died.

“When I heard about my father’s condition, I became worried and tried to locate my parents in the hospital, not knowing that he was already dead. When I eventually got to the hospital in Maiduguri, my mother had conveyed my father’s corpse to Chibok for burial, so my mother said I should stay back to avoid another kidnap.
“That was how I got to this camp. I couldn’t continue with my education, because my mother alone could not take care of my schooling and that of my other siblings.”

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Boko Haram terrorists are our Muslim brothers, shouldn’t be killed like pigs: Minister Pantami

Wisdom Nwachukwu

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President Muhammadu Buhari’s communications minister Isa Pantami once condemned Nigerian Army’s incursion into Boko Haram strongholds, describing the insurgents as “our Muslim” brothers who did not deserve to be killed like pigs.

“See what our fellow Muslim brothers’ blood has turned to? Even pig blood has more value than that of a fellow Muslim brother,” Mr Pantami lamented in a sermon issued a few years ago when former President Goodluck Jonathan ramped up military operations against the rampaging terror sect.

Peoples Gazette obtained the audio through an anonymous contact on Thursday night. The location of Mr Pantami’s sermon and those who attended could not be immediately obtained, but the words, nonetheless, contradicted his recent claims that he had long maintained a hardline posture against Boko Haram.

Mr Pantami’s media allies have also been on an image laundering blitz to cast him as a moderate preacher who has been widely celebrated for his longstanding contempt for Boko Haram. Mr Pantami also joined his supporters to amplify a threat issued against him by Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau, evoking it to dismiss insinuations of his sympathy towards terrorists as counter-intuitive.

But in the February 2020 video, Mr Shekau appeared more frustrated by what he saw as Mr Pantami’s betrayal in becoming a top government official after spending years preaching Salafi doctrine than he was about the minister’s purported condemnation of Boko Haram’s deadly exploits.

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Mr Pantami has long been famous across northern parts of Nigeria as a respected Islamic cleric. He used most of his preachings to rail against the government’s high-handedness, and Peoples Gazette published a video on Thursday that showed him promising never to go into public service. The sermon was delivered in the mid-2000s, years before Mr Buhari appointed him in 2016 as the head of NITDA and later in 2019 as a cabinet minister in charge of communications.

“We are praying to God to answer all our prayers. It’s our right and obligation before all Muslim leaders, politicians, government appointees, academics,” Mr Pantami said in his prayers. “All of us should not fold their arms and watch helplessly how they shed our Muslim brothers’ blood and cheat them in vain.”

Mr Pantami said Boko Haram elements should have been treated with dignity as against the deadly military campaign, saying extermination of insurgents amounted to extrajudicial killing.

 

“Even if the Boko Haram fighters commit a crime, but can we justify the way and manner they are being killed?”

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“Just look at how they are killing people as if they are shooting pigs even though they commit a crime, why the extrajudicial killing? Take them before the law for a fair trial.

“You caught someone sleeping and you killed him. If it’s not Muslims that undergo such treatments who else?” Mr Pantami said.

The minister also said the previous administration should have pampered Boko Haram insurgents in the same manner as the Niger-Delta militants. Unlike Boko Haram that has been on senseless bloodshed against Nigerians of every faith and creed, the militants were fighting for a better share of oil wealth explored and extracted from their parts of the country.

After about three years of their violent campaign, which largely involved frequent abduction of expatriate oil workers and exchange of fire with security forces, the militants acquiesced to economic solutions and relinquished their arms in a deal brokered by former President Umar Yar’Adua.

But Mr Pantami disregarded the context of both groups and instead took a parallel position on how the government should respond to them.

“The Niger Delta people did something similar to this. They massacre people, steal weapons, killed expatriates and kidnap some of them,” Mr Pantami said. “Yet, you still accept them back, open a ministry for them, gave them a minister and put them on a monthly salary pay without work.”

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“The militants did more harm compared to what Boko Haram boys did,” the minister said. “But why will they do something like this? Why selective justice?”

 

The audio was part of a series of controversial sermons which Mr Pantami delivered at several worship centres and learning institutions across the northern parts of the country between the mid and late 2000s. The Gazette obtained the audio this week, most of which had already been transcribed and contextualized by an academic journal published online since March 2019.

Calls have now intensified for Mr Pantami to either publicly renounce his statements or step down from office, with some activists arguing that his position as a federal minister in charge of citizens’ data and the country’s telecoms infrastructure had become untenable.

As part of our series, The Gazette reached out to Mr Pantami repeatedly to learn whether or not he had renounced his controversial views but he declined all requests.

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