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About 45 killed in Nigeria fuel tanker blast

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At least 45 people were killed and more than 100 injured in central Nigeria when a petrol tanker crashed and then exploded as people gathered fuel, emergency services said Tuesday.

The truck overturned near shops while travelling through the village of Ahumbe in Benue state on Monday.Local residents rushed to the scene and collected leaking gasoline for over an hour before the fuel caught fire, causing a blast that tore through the surrounding area.

“We have recovered 45 corpses of the dead while 101 others sustained serious fire burns,” Benue state Federal Road Safety Commission Sector Commander Aliyu Baba told AFP.

“From the look of things and considering their condition, many of them might not survive.”

Baba said a pregnant woman and at least two children were among the dead and two firefighters sustained serious burns.

He said the blaze was sparked when a bus laden with passengers drove past the scene and its exhaust pipe scraped along the ground, causing sparks to fly.

“Sixteen of the passengers in the vehicle, including the two children and the pregnant woman, were instantly burnt to death,” Baba said.

Police and emergency services crews were working to clear the tanker’s charred hulk from the road, an AFP reporter at the scene witnessed. At least one building was gutted in the explosion.Locals spoke of their shock.

‘Fought for our lives’ 
“I lost a brother and two others are seriously burnt and in the hospital. They were trapped in the fire when the truck exploded for a second time,” resident Ade Derfer told AFP.

At the Bishop Murray hospital in the state capital Makurdi, patients with serious burns were recovering.

Survivor Ochuole Imaje said she had been on the ill-fated bus.

“We warned our driver to park but he went ahead and in a bid to pass the spilling fuel an explosion occurred and we were trapped in the fire and fought for our lives,” she told AFP.

“I managed to escape but many others died. I cannot tell how I got here to the hospital.”

Earlier, a spokesman for the local council said over 64 people were killed in the incident. The police has not given an official toll.

Petrol tanker and pipeline blasts are common in Nigeria, where despite the country’s multi-billion-dollar oil and gas industry, most people live in poverty.

Fires and explosions often occur as people try to siphon fuel from pipelines or following accidents involving fuel tankers on badly-maintained roads.

In January, at least eight people were killed in Odukpani, in the southeastern state of Cross River, in a similar incident.In July 2012, more than 100 people were killed and some 50 others injured in the southern state of Rivers.

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Buhari may repeal Land Use Act for Ruga, SMBLF alleges

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The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum has said there is a surreptitious plan by the Federal Government to repeal the Land Use Act and take over the control of lands in the country from state governors.

This, it said, was to enable the government to subsequently implement the suspended Ruga project.

The forum said it gathered that the FG suspended the Ruga Settlement Programme due to the Act which restricted its access to land, adding that the government may move to repeal the law in order to facilitate the implementation of the Ruga grazing scheme.

SMBLF cautioned Southern lawmakers in the National Assembly to be vigilant and to guard against the introduction of any bill intended to repeal or amend the Land Use Act.

The forum said this in a statement in Abuja on Sunday by its co-spokespersons: Yinka Odumakin (South West), Prof. Chigozie Ogbu (South East), Senator Bassey Henshaw (South South), Dr. Isuwa Dogo (Middle Belt).

The group stated that it was not impressed by the suspension of the Ruga Settlement Project, which it declared as “an expansionist agenda on behalf of the Fulani nomads.”

The statement reads, “It is being alleged that there will be moves to repeal the Land Use Act in the (Ruga) suspension period so the Federal Government can have authority over land which is currently under the states.

“We therefore call on all our members in the National Assembly to be vigilant about any surreptitious bill that may be introduced to tamper with control of land and thwart such without any waste of time.

“The 2014 National Conference debated this issue at length and resolved to retain the Land Use Act in the Constitution.”

The forum further warned the lawmakers against passing the ‘Bill to establish a Regulatory Framework for the Water Resources Sector in Nigeria,’ sponsored by the executive, noting that it was meant to give the FG sole authority and control over the nation’s rivers and underground water.

The group added, “When this obnoxious Water Bill is taken alongside the Ruga programme and the speculated assault on Land Use Act, the internal colonialism agenda is complete and we would have no one but ourselves to blame if we don’t effect our no-pasaran (They shall not pass — a slogan used to express determination to defend a position against an enemy).

“It is pertinent to ask why the FG is not going ahead with Ruga in some northern states that have accepted the policy if the whole idea was not about land-grabbing in the South and Middle Belt states,” it said.

The political pressure group stated that the FG’s support for local government autonomy was hinged on the Ruga scheme to allow “aliens” to take over allotted land under the programme.

It vowed not to relax its opposition to the project, stressing that only outright cancellation of the initiative was acceptable to the forum.

“The whole policy has opened our eyes to the reason why the President has been harping on local government autonomy now and then,” the group stressed.

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Insecurity: Buhari vows Serious punishment on murderous herders, terrorists

…Salutes army on 156th anniversary

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President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday vowed that the federal government will not allow anyone who kills or maim another under any guise to go unpunished.

He spoke at the 2019 Nigerian Army Day Celebration (NADCEL) held at the Ikeja Cantonment, Lagos, in commemoration of the service’s 156th anniversary.

Buhari who was represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said the federal government was working seriously with other states to contain herders-farmers conflicts, banditry and terrorism saluting the army for its efforts to save the country from disintegration.

He said: “Nobody will be allowed to maim, kill or commit other crimes and escape. It is our duty to apprehend and punish these criminals and we are doing and will continue to do so.

“Herder and farmer conflicts, random killings, banditry and kidnapping some attributed to Fulani bandits, in different parts of the country are extant challenges that the army has had to intervene in on several occasions. I want to reassure all Nigerians that these issues are being seriously tackled by the Federal Government, working with the states, through a multi-pronged approach.

“You will be hearing a lot more about these solutions in the weeks and months ahead. Law enforcement is of course an important element of the response.

“We have seen an unprecedented ramping up of the deployment of military personnel- multi-agency intervention squads like Operation Whirlstroke. The training and deployment of Special Forces, new Forward Operating Bases, and so on – to the flashpoints, in the last eighteen months.

“Several bandits’ hideouts and camps have been destroyed, and hundreds of arrests have been made, and it is now up to our judicial systems to ensure that justice is meted out not just comprehensively but also in a timely manner.”

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COZA: Police investigate rape allegation as Busola Dakolo files complaint

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The police have commenced investigation into the allegation of rape against Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA) founder Pastor Biodun by celebrity photographer Mrs. Busola Dakolo.

The commencement followed an official complaint filed by Mrs. Dakolo at the Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (FCIID), Alagbon in Lagos.

A source, who hinted on the development, told our correspondent that the investigation would be thorough.

He stated that the police now have something to build a case on.

It was gathered that she was accompanied by her husband Mr. Timi Dakolo, a popular music artist, who also took to his verified Instagram account to refute reports that Fatoyinbo joined him and his wife in holy matrimony.

Dakolo also denied ever attending COZA nor meeting Fatoyinbo, describing all the counter stories as desperate attempts to cover the truth.

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