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Niger: Farmers Set 4m metric tonnes target for 2024 wet season farming

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***Raise concern over insecurity in the state

All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) in Niger state has set four million metric tonnes of cash and food crops production as its target for the 2024 wet sesson farming even as the association expressed concern over the insecurity in parts of the state.
The Chairman of the Niger state Chapter of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Alhaji Shehu Galadima spoke in Minna on Wednesday when he met with members of the association from the 25 local government areas of the state ahead of the 2024 wet season farming.
He disclosed that the association is set to mobilize one million small holder farmers from across the 25 local government areas of the state for the 2024 wet season farming.
According to him, the farmers would be targeting crops like rice, maize, sesame, soya beans, millet, cowpea, cotton, cassava, and yam for this year’s wet season farming.
Galadima explained that the state government has reassured the farmers that they would be save from terrorists and bandits attacks while they embark on the wet season farming adding that a lot of machineries are being put in place to respond in the case of any attack.
“Security outfits have been drafted to ensure that any attack are responded to swiftly. The government has reassured the farmers that they should have rest of mind as they return to their farms”.
He said that for the dry season farming, the farmers across the state experienced some attacks but they were quickly neutralized by the security agencies.
The AFAN Chairman indicated that last year over 1,000 farmers fell into the hands of terrorists and kidnappers and this he pointed out affected food production in the state, resulting in the current food shortage and prize hike.
While several of these farmers were killed by the Bandits and terrorists others were kidnapped and ransom running into millions of naira were paid to secure their release.
Despite this, he maintained that the farmers are relentless and would not allow these incidents deter them from their occupation.
The Permanent Secretary of the state Ministry of Agriculture, Dr Mathew Ahmed reiterated the state government’s commitment to agriculture revolution in the state.
He disclosed that the farmers are the key stakeholders in every sector of the economy which is why the state government is working hard to ensure that no farmer is disturbed by terrorists or kidnappers during the wet season farming.
The Permanent Secretary said that the state government is looking at how it would subsidize farm inputs for the farmers for the wet season farming adding that strategies are being put in place to ensure every farmer experience bumper harvest at the end of the season.

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News from Niger State

Bandits invade Niger community, kill four joint taskforce members, three villagers

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***Abduct 200 persons

By Our correspondent in Minna

Armed Bandits on Friday night invaded Kuchi community in Munya local government area of Niger State unleashed terror on the people, killing seven persons.
Among those killed were four members of the Joint Security Taskforce stationed in the area, three villagers who attempted to escape to the bush, while about 200 villagers were whisked away by the Gunmen.
The Bandits who were estimated to be about 300, invaded the community at about 7:00pm and operated under the heavy downpour for over three hours without resistance.
“They were reported to have moved from house to house selecting those they wanted to go away with, including women.
They looted all the shops in the community and went away with the goods and drinks.
“They over powered the security agents who could not withstand the bandits who were heavily armed and came on about 100 motorcycles with each conveying at least three persons.
“Again there was no reinforcement for the security agents on ground untill this morning (Saturday) when some security personnel came, but the havoc had already been done. They operated all through inside the rain”, our source added.
This latest attack is coming barely two weeks after some gunmen ambushed and abducted 30 locals from two commercial vehicles along Mangoro village, about 15 kilometers from Sarkin Pawa, the headquarters of the local.
The abducted passengers were said to be returning from a local market and were heading to Kaduna state when the incident occured. They are yet to regain their freedom.
When contacted, the Chairman of Munya local government, Mallam Aminu Najume confirmed the latest attack when four security agents including local vigilantes were killed by the Bandits.
The chairman disclosed that the Gunmen invaded the community at about 7:00pm in groups, numbering about 300., adding that “they move from house to house dispossessing people of their belongings.
“They also abducted about 150 villagers, including women and went away with them inside the rain. Throughout the operation by the Bandits, no assistance came from anywhere.
“Honestly the Council is overwhelmed with the current situation. I am not thinking straight as I speak with you because my people have lost their sleep, they have been forced out of the community”.
He blamed the continuous onslaught by the Bandits on communities in his local government on what he called the failure of the Kaduna state government to take concrete actions on them, stressing that “if Kaduna state is doing what Niger State is doing, the situation would have been addressed.
“These people usually come from Kaduna state to operate in Niger state and return. They move in their hundreds and yet the security agents don’t see them, even when the villagers alert them, no action is taken.
“Look at yesterday’s attack, for over three hours, there was no reinforcement from anywhere. They out numbered the Joint Security Taskforce and succeeded in killing four of them, including some villagers. We can not asertain the number of people that were injured because some are still in the bush, they slept there”, he added.

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Women Affairs Minister empowere 100 brides with 10 POS Machines, Wrappers, bags of rice

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***As Governor Bago donates 100 sowing machines, cash to the Brides

The Minister of women affairs, Mrs. Uju Kennedy Ohanenye has given 10 Points of Service (POS) Machines to the 100 Brides from Mariga local government area of Niger State whose mass wedding is being supported by Speaker of the State House of Assembly Rt. Hon. Abdulmalik Sarkindaji.
The minister announced the empowerment scheme on Wednesday at the palace of the Emir of Kontagora, Alhaji Mohammed Barau Muazu with all the 100 intending Brides in attendance.
Other empowerment schemes according to the minister includes 350 bags of 10kg rice, 100 wrappers and a promise of scholarship to University level for those willing to go back to school.
Mrs. Uju who was represented by her Special Assistant on private sector, Engineer Adaji Usman also directed that bank account be open for all the 100 intending Brides where a stipend will be sent to them for the next six months to enable them settle down in their husband houses.
The minister blamed the media for escalating the initial controversy surrounding the marriage of the 100 girls, saying that she did not intend to stop the marriage but to be sure if the girls are of marriageable age and are not being forced into it.
According to her every parent will want to marry out their wards if they attain the right age for marriage, adding that her initial opposition to the planned marriage was misunderstood, hence the media war between her office and the speaker, as she expressed gratitude to the speaker for his maturity in handling issue through the traditional institution in the state.
She promised that the girls will be closely monitored in their various husband houses so that the objectives of the empowerment scheme will not be defeated, adding that “the ministry will follow this up with skill acquisitions on their trade of interest to further empower them.
In his remarks at the occasion the speaker, RT Hon Abdulmalik Sarkindaji revealed that the entire drama over his intention to support the marriage of the 100, mostly orphans, was politically motivated adding that “it was pure politics from my Constituency. They misinformed the minister that I am playing politics with the lives of the children by forcing them into marriage.
“And the minister, because of her passion for women and the girl child quickly waded into the matter even though she did not get to know the true position of the things and the media amplified the whole matter.
“But thank God today I have been vindicated, the minister and the whole world have seen that these girls are of marriageable age and nobody is forcing them into it. It is being done through their consents.
“I decided to support the marriage out of geninue concern for these girls majority of whom are orphans as a result of insecurity in my Constituency. It was with a pure heart.
“I equally commend the minister for this empowerment scheme for the girls, she has shown that she is a mother and really meant well for the girl child in this country”.
Sarkindaji pointed out that he will continue to do his best for the good of the people of his Constituency, stressing that “I Will not be deterred by the dirty politics anybody wants to play. The welfare and the well-being of my people is my primary responsibility and I will not shy away from it.
“Those who need this assistance to enable them settle down are over 100 but I just picked these ones because that is what my resources can take for now but in no distance time we will come up with a comprehensive plan for the remaining ones and this will be done in conjunction with the ministry for women affairs and other critical stakeholders to avoid this ugly experience”.
Also speaking the Emir, Alhaji Mohammed Barau Muazu thanked God for the peaceful resolution of the matter that had unsettled the Emirate in the last two weeks, saying “the whole drama was as a result of misunderstanding and lack of communication”.
The Emir thanked the minister for the empowerment scheme rolled out for the girls and assured her that it will be utilized for the purpose they were given.
He equally thanked the state governor for his leadership role in handling the matter and his contributions towards the empowerment of the Brides.
The Emir disclosed that all the necessary medical tests, including HIV/AIDS, Genotype, Hepatitis B and pregnancy were conducted and the results handed over to the representatives of the minister.

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Forum of Imams issues ultimatum for Ohannaya to withdraw threats over mass wedding

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***As cash, material donations pour in for the intending couples

The controversy surrounding the planned mass wedding of 200 girls in Niger state has taken another twist as the Council of Imams in the State has waded in giving Nigeria’s Minister of Women Affairs, Uju Ohannaya, one-week ultimatum to withdraw her comments against the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Rt Hon Abdulmalik Sarkindaji.
The speaker had consulted over his intention to sponsor the marriage of 100 girls in his Constituency for which he had the blessings of the traditional and the religious leaders
The secretary of the Imams Forum in the state, Dr. Umar Abdullahi, issued the warning while addressing journalists in Minna the state capital on Wednesday.
He said that the Minister has overstepped her boundary, and the Forum will not take it lightly as her comments are capable of causing crisis in the state and the country in general.
Recall that the Speaker of the State House of Assembly had taken the responsibility to sponsor the marriage of about 100 of the girls from his Constituency in Mariga local government area of the state.
The girls were said to have lost their parents on account of banditry in the area hence many became orphans and have no parents to foot the bill of the marriage expenses
However, the Minister dragged the Speaker to court, urging him to halt the planned wedding, alleging that the girls were being married off against their will.
But the Iman forum while addressing journalists warned the minister to stay clear from religious and cultural matters and face her ministerial assignment, insisting that no amount of court action will stop the marriage from taking place as planned for 24th of this month.
The forum threatened the minister to stand off warning her that the entire Imam’s forum in the state and the country in general to contend with if she failed to withdraw her comments on the matter and stay clear from the planned marriage which according to them has the blessing of the religious and traditional leaders of the state.
“The planned marriage has the blessing of all the religious and traditional leaders from the area. The sponsor of the marriage consulted widely before accepting to take the responsibility and we are strongly behind him.
“The girls are not under age and they are not being forced into marriage as the minister has made the public to believe. This is what the minister failed to investigate”, the forum added.
The forum therefore urged all other well to do individuals in the society to emulate the kind gesture of the speaker and render similar assistance to other intending couple in the area.
Meanwhile individual and political office holders from within and outside the state have continued to identify with the marriage as cash and material donations have continue to pour in for the success of the mass wedding.
A source close to the community told our correspondent in confidence that not less than N10million cash have been received as donations towards the marriage while an individual has donated N100,000 to each of the girls to enable them start something after the wedding as a way of empowering them.
“People from within and outside the state have continued to donate towards the wedding, and I can tell you that so far over N10million has been received and more people have pledged to support the wedding”, our source added.

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