Three suspected sea pirates have been arrested in Bayelsa and Rivers states in connection with the kidnapping of four expatriates from the United States of America. The suspects – Tony Ebiyepade, General Karinatei Timidiseghe and Godbless Oruboro – were reportedly tracked down through leaked telephone conversations. They allegedly specialised in kidnapping expatriates and collecting huge sums for their release. Detectives from the Intelligence Response Team began tracking the syndicate in August 2020, which consequently led to the arrest of a member. It was gathered that two other suspects were later apprehended by the operatives recently. Ebiyepade, who lived on Ebi-Sam Road, Agudama in Bayelsa, said he participated in several kidnappings but was not involved in the abduction of the Americans. He stated, “I was a fisherman from my childhood. I was arrested by the police in Yenagoa in August 2020. At first, I did not know why I was arrested but when I got to the station, I was told that I was involved in kidnapping and sea piracy. Timidiseghe, 35, who also denied his involvement in the kidnapping of the Americans, confessed that he specialised in drugs and made a fortune from them. Oruboro, father of two, stated that he got amnesty in 2009 and stipends from the FG but was lured into illegal bunkering, sea piracy and kidnapping.

Government troops and hundreds of residents were forced to flee after an armed group overran a town and captured a military base in Borno in an attack claimed by an ISIS affiliated group, security sources said. Machine gun-wielding fighters from the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) attacked the base in the town of Marte in the Lake Chad area overnight on Friday into Saturday, Agence France Presse quoted two sources as saying. “The priority now is to reclaim the base from the terrorists and an operation is underway,” one of the sources said on Saturday. The second source said the army had “incurred losses” but it was not yet clear how many people had died or the level of destruction inflicted by the armed group. An army statement said troops “tactically withdrew” to defend against an attack outside Marte. Troops had “effectively destroyed” seven gun trucks and “decimated” an unconfirmed number of attackers, it said. ISIS later posted a statement on its Amaq news channel on Telegram claiming responsibility for the attack. Without giving further details, it said seven people had been killed, and one captured, and that its fighters had seized weapons, ammunition and six four-wheel-drive vehicles, as well as burning down the army barracks. Marte remained under the control of the armed group on Saturday, Reuters quotes unnamed security sources as saying. Friday’s assault came just two months after residents driven from their homes by the violence had returned to the town under a government programme. Last week, the fighters attacked the Marte base but were repelled, prompting them to mobilise more fighters for the overnight raid, sources said. Nigeria’s military retaliated Saturday, and according to Brig-Gen Sagir Musa, the army’s spokesman, dislodged the terrorists from the base by the end of Saturday. Mr Musa said the Air Force played a decisive role in the destruction of seven terrorists’ gun trucks during the battle.

Some bandits attacked Farinruwa village, Birnin Gwari Local Government Area of Kaduna on Friday, killing five policemen. The State Police Command is yet to confirm the attack but the Birnin-Gwari Emirate Progressives Union said the five policemen died in their effort to safeguard the lives and property of the community. The Chairman of BEPU, Salisu Haruna, confirmed the attack in a statement. The statement read, “With deep heart and grief, Birnin-Gwari Emirate Progressive Union commiserates with the Nigerian Police Force over the ambush of police personnel at Farinruwa and the brutal murder of five gallant police personnel during the attack on Friday 15th January 2021. Indeed, the Police personnel on a routine duty paid the supreme price in their effort to safeguard our people and maintain security. Our heartfelt condolences on behalf of Birnin-Gwari Emirate to the families of the five slain police personnel, the Inspector General of Police, the Commissioner of Police Kaduna State Command, the Government and the people of Kaduna for this irreparable loss. When contacted for a reaction, the state police spokesperson, ASP Mohammed Jalige, said “a release will be issued soon.”

The Nigeria Customs Service shut Nigeria’s border with Niger Republic at Jibia, Katsina State on Sunday, less than 48 hours the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) reopened it in line with the orders of President Buhari. ThisDay reports that the decision sparked a protest among traders in communities around the border, alleging that the customs officers closed the border to continue their illegal activities in the area. Consistent with Mr Buhari’s order of 16 December 2020, the Comptroller General of Immigration (CGI), Mr Muhammed Babandede had on Thursday, 14 January 2020 ordered the immediate reopening of the Nigeria-Niger border. Consequently, there was ceremonial reopening of the border on Thursday which was well-attended by traders within and outside the country, including the Deputy Comptroller of Immigration in charge of the border, DCI H Ibrahim, customs officers and police at the frontier of the border. The customs service, however, justified its action on the ground that it had not received a formal directive from its supervising ministry to reopen the border.