Adamawa cancels Christmas ‘annual rites’ over security challenges

Adamawa

Citing security concerns across the state, Adamawa State governor, Muhammadu Bindow, on Sunday put off the annual Christmas homage to the Government House by traditional rulers and associations within the state.

The governor announced the cancellation in a press release issued by his Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Ahmad Sajoh, to felicitate with the people on this year’s Christmas seasons.

He, however, urged citizens and residents of the state to use the opportunity of the festive period to pray for the state and Nigeria.

Bindow also tasked them to reflect on the message and spirit of the birth of Jesus Christ which, he said, comprised love, peace and blessings from God.

“In keeping with the Governor’s desire to ease the difficulties associated with mass movement during the Yuletide period and in consideration of the security challenges experienced recently in some parts of the state, His Excellency has called-off the usual Christmas homages paid on the governor by traditional rulers, top public officers, organized groups and other stakeholders.

“Instead, all stakeholders are requested to use the occasion to fervently pray for the state and exchange fraternal visits across all divides as a means of strengthening our bond of brother,” the statement read.

The governor also urged the people of Adamawa to be more security conscious and vigilant during the festive period.

“In view of the security situation in the state and country, the governor calls on the people to continue to be vigilant and security conscious particularly as we gather to rejoice with each other.

“Citizens of Adamawa are equally enjoined to maintain vigilance on the roads and within our communities,” the message read.

Katsina inaugurates peace committees to tackle farmers/herdsmen crises

Peace Committees

In order to forestall the incessant deadly clashes between farmers and herdsmen in the state, the Katsina state government, on Monday, announced the inauguration of Peace Committees in its 34 local government areas.

The state Commissioner for Information, Hamza Borodo, disclosed the government’s new strategy to newsmen when members of the Dialogue and Amnesty Committee visited the Daura Local Government on Monday.

According to him, the committees were the offshoot of the state’s Dialogue and Amnesty Committee, which was directly under the supervision of the Secretary to the State Government, Dr. Mustapha Inuwa.

He said the essence of the (Peace) committees was to ensure that any possible crisis between farmers and herdsmen across the state were nip in the bud as soon as they rear their heads so that none snowballs into bloodletting.

“The local committees are also expected to mediate and conciliate on minor disagreements between farmers and herdsmen as well as offer useful advice on sustainable peace,” Borodo noted.

While commending the state government for setting up the committee, the acting Chairman of Daura Local Government, Lawal Kado, said the regime’s strategy has helped in drastically reducing cattle rustling, armed robbery and clashes between farmers and herdsmen in the state.

Texas church shooting suspect court-martialed in 2012 for assault

Texas Church

The suspect who opened fire inside a South Texas church has been identified as 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley, law enforcement sources tell CBS News.

Authorities on Sunday only identified the suspect as a young white male. They said he was dressed in all black and tactical gear when he opened fire at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs. After a car chase with police, the suspect was shot and declared dead. It’s unclear if the suspect shot himself or if he was killed by a resident.

The shooting left at least 26 people dead and 20 others injured in what Texas Gov. Greg Abbott described as the worst mass shooting in his state’s history.

Kelley is a former U.S. Air Force member who served from 2010 to 2014. Records confirm Kelley previously served in logistics readiness in New Mexico until his discharge in 2014, Air Force spokesperson Ann Stefanek said in a statement.

Kelley was court-martialed in 2012 for two counts of assault on his spouse and assault on their child, Stefanek said. He received a bad conduct discharge and confinement for 12 months.

He has a residence in New Braunfels, Texas, which is about a 35 mile drive from where the attack took place in Sutherland Springs.

Officials say the suspect lived in a San Antonio suburb and doesn’t appear to be linked to any organized terrorist groups. CBS News has learned Kelley has a wife named Danielle Lee Shields.

Investigators will look at his social media posts made in the days prior to Sunday’s attack — including one that appeared to display an AR-15 semiautomatic weapon. Kelley’s date of birth is listed as Feb. 21, 1991.

No motive has been declared as the investigation continues.

Sutherland Springs is about 35 miles southeast of San Antonio.

Credit: CBS NEWS

‘Unknown Soldier’ petitions Buhari, alleges fraud in counter-insurgency Operation

Counter-Insurgency

A letter believed to have been authored by a soldier in the ongoing ‘Operation Lafiya Dole’ – a counter-insurgency operation in the North-East Nigeria, is currently trending on the social media.

The ‘soldier’, who claimed to be a Private in the Nigerian Army, addressed an open-letter to President Muhammadu Buhari to intimate him of massive corruption in the management of the operation and the impact on the lives of soldiers on the battlefront.

He said he was moved to calling the attention of the president to the development as many of his colleagues were already growing recalcitrant owing to the poor treatment suffered on the field.

The anonymous soldier specifically mentioned one Abdulrauf Aliyu, also a private, who was said to have left the field unofficially to take care of injuries he suffered while on duty, since the Army had refused to cater for him and his wellbeing.

“Your Excellency, corruption in the army is real and it is killing us. While we expect to die in the hands of the enemy, we don’t expect to die in the hands of the army, due to corruption and criminal negligence.

“Just the other week, about 14 (I am not sure of the exact number) of our colleagues died in the hands of Boko Harram, who attacked the army camp. The circumstances surrounding their unnecessary death warrant a full investigation by his Excellency. Sir, you will be shocked of the outcome. The bodies of the slain heroes are still lying here in Damaturu.

“Your Excellency, this is the third month in a row that we have been denied of our operational allowance. We have to rely only on our meagre salary for everything. From battalion commanders, to company and sector leaders, we are all in debt, because our salaries are not enough to sustain us at the battlefield let alone feeding our families back at home.

“It is a big shame that we have joined the army to defend the civilians, yet we have to go to the civilians in town to borrow money to fend for ourselves at the battlefield.

“It is said that the Federal Government spends about N14, 000 on each prisoner in Nigeria. Here, at the battlefront in Operation Lafiya Dole, the army spends about N600 per day on a soldier’s feeding, while in reality billions of naira is appropriated per year for this purpose. Your Excellency, we are treated like animals. Most of us are afraid to talk because of the dire consequence.

“As the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, your Excellency, kindly investigate. There is corruption in the army. Soldiers are needlessly dying,” the anonymous letter read.

According to the Punch Newspaper’s report, the Director, Army Public Relations, Brig. Gen. Sani Usman, had promised to issue a statement on the allegations.

 

How African elephants’ amazing sense of smell could save lives

Elephant

By Ashadee Kay Miller, PhD

For 27 years Angola was gripped by civil war. Half a million human lives were lost and wildlife, too, was decimated to sustain troops. Rhino and elephants became valuable targets – rhino horn and ivory served as currency for arms among rebel forces.

During the conflict elephant populations fled across the border into Botswana, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. When the war ended in 2002 animal populations slowly started to return to their pre-conflict grazing grounds. But a huge problem remained: millions of landmines were still in situ and undetonated across Angola. Many elephants were killed and maimed by the explosives as they attempted to recolonise.

Data collected from collared elephants moving through the affected areas showed herds avoiding minefields. This suggested that at least some of the returning elephants had associated minefields with danger. What could this association be based on? Had the minefield-avoiding elephants seen others killed in those areas? Or had they associated the smell of landmines with danger, extrapolating risk to other areas where the odour was present?

We couldn’t answer all these questions. To narrow down our search my colleagues and I set about finding out whether elephants could smell the main component of landmines – Trinitrotoluene (TNT).

TNT has a low volatility – the ease at which a substance moves into the air column. This makes it difficult to detect using smell. But some animals are excellent landmine sniffers – among them dogs and Gambian Pouched Rats. Bees are also good at it.

Genetic aspect

What gives an animal a wide sense of smell comes down to how many different kinds of olfactory receptors it has, and this is determined by the species’ genes.

African elephants have more than double the number of genes associated with olfactory reception compared with dogs: about 2000 versus dogs’ 811. This suggests that olfaction must play an enormous role in elephants’ lives. In fact, elephants have the highest count of any species tested to date, meaning that they could quite possibly be the best smellers in the animal kingdom.

Not only were we eager to find out whether they could detect TNT using olfaction, but also how their abilities compared to those of highly trained, TNT-detection dogs.

To do this, we enlisted the help of three African elephants at “Adventures With Elephants” – an educational tourism facility focused on raising awareness about conservation. Using reward-based training techniques, we trained the elephants to indicate whenever they could smell TNT among a lineup of blank, non-smelly samples initially and then later, highly volatile distractor odours.

Samples were individual filter papers loaded with trace amounts of one of the following odours: TNT; petroleum; acetone; bleach; detergent; tea; or nothing at all (blanks). These filter papers, or samples, were placed individually into a bucket, and sample buckets (eight in total) were placed 6 metres apart, in a straight line. The elephants were trained to walk along the line and investigate each bucket, raising their front leg and waving it over the selected bucket whenever they thought they could smell TNT.

 

Mussina, a female African elephant, is put through her TNT-sniffing paces.

The results suggest that elephants are even better at one aspect of the sniffing process than dogs, the animals currently considered the gold standard in landmine detection.

Sensitivity and selectivity

Two metrics, sensitivity and selectivity, are incredibly important in detection science. Measures of these allow researchers to understand how well a biodetector such as a dog or elephant is performing. They also allow for comparisons across species.

The elephants missed only one out of 97 TNT samples during our trials. This translated into a phenomenal sensitivity score of 99.7%. Sensitivity is the propensity to indicate whenever a target substance (in this case TNT) is present. In comparison, sensitivity scores for TNT-detection dogs have been reported as 93.7%.

The elephants only made six false-positive indications, mistaking five out of 53 acetone samples and one out of 24 petrol samples for TNT. This incredibly low frequency of false-positives resulted in a respectable selectivity score – that is, the propensity to only indicate TNT, and not just any odourous substance – of 95.1%. This is a bit shy of the 100% score reported for dogs.

Our findings indicate that elephants are almost 5% more likely than dogs to indicate the presence of TNT when, in fact, there is none. But dogs are almost 6% more likely to miss TNT than elephants are. It’s obviously better for TNT detectors to be prone to false positives rather than false negatives: in fact it could be the difference between life and death.

Real world application

So does this mean that elephants should take over TNT-sniffing dogs’ duties?

No, absolutely not. We have no intention of putting elephants in harm’s way: their sheer size and weight makes them completely unsuited to being infield TNT detectors.

But remote elephant teams could act as valuable support to current demining operations in countries like Angola.

Samples collected via Remote Explosive Scent Tracing by unmanned vehicles such as drones could be sent to the elephants for screening. The information gathered from TNT-detection elephants could be passed on to demining teams working at the front lines, even before they are deployed. This early warning system could potentially save the lives of the deminers and their dedicated biosensor companions.

Other areas to explore

Elephants’ ability to correctly identify and discriminate a learned scent from other odours suggests that they may also be useful in other biosensor fields such as early disease detection.

Detection dogs are used in medical and biological settings. I have used them myself as a biologically-relevant model to demonstrate that puff adders are undetectable via olfaction.

Specially trained dogs already screen for cancers, diabetes, epilepsy, alien invasives, harmful microbes and pests. Some scent-matching dogs are even able to match collected samples to individuals, forgoing the need for expensive and time-consuming genetic testing. The dogs’ performance in these fields is, in most cases, proving more reliable than mechanical devices.

Elephants could rival dogs’ sensitivity abilities in these fields, as they did for TNT-detection. They require less maintenance training than dogs to keep them on the target scent. Our elephants were able to repeat the same tests with high success a year after their last trial, with no intervening maintenance training.

In addition, given their longevity – they can live to around 60 years in the wild – elephants, once trained, could serve as long-standing biosensors that far outlive any of their current biosensor counterparts.

And, importantly, biologically appropriate tasks that engage natural behaviours to gain reward is highly stimulating for captive animals. So not only could elephants potentially save lives while sniffing out danger – they could have fun at the same time.

NB: This piece was originally published by The Conversation

Nigerian Navy redeploy senior officers

In line with the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) Vice Adm. Ibok-Ette Ibas’ effort to reposition the Nigerian Navy, 21 senior officers were redeployed on Thursday to head different formations and commands.
The Director, Naval Information, Capt. Suleiman Dahun, Spain in a statement in Lagos that the posting was to re-organise the upper echelon of the Nigerian Navy.
He stated that “the new Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), Western Naval Command is Rear Adm. SAG Abbah, formerly Navy Secretary.
“Rear Adm. VO Adedipe, formerly Deputy Commandant, Armed Forces Command and Staff College Jaji, moves to Eastern Naval Command as FOC.
“Rear Adm. P. Onaji, formerly Fleet Commander, Eastern Fleet, has been appointed FOC, Logistics Command, while Rear Adm. O. Ofodile, formerly Chief Staff Officer, Eastern Naval Command, is now FOC, Naval Training Command.
“Furthermore, Rear Adm. A. Al-Hassan, former Director, Project Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Directorate, is the new FOC, Central Naval Command.
“Rear Adm. S. Usman, formerly Chief Staff Officer, Logistics Command, moves to Naval Headquarters as Director Project Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Directorate.”
Dahun added that Rear Adm. Henry Babalola retained his position as Chief of Policy and Plans Naval Headquarters, while Rear Adm. J. Oluwole, formerly FOC Eastern Naval Command would resume at the Naval Headquarters as Chief of Logistics.
Also affected in the reshufflement is Rear Adm. A. Osinowo, formerly Chief of Training and Operations, Naval Headquarters, who is now the Commandant, National Defence College.
The director noted that Rear Adm. Ferguson Bobai, formerly FOC, Western Naval Command, would move to Naval Headquarters as Chief of Training and Operations.
He added that Rear Adm. BEE Ibe-Enwo, formerly FOC Logistics Command, would resume at Naval Headquarters as Chief of Naval Standards and Safety.
Also, Rear Adm. Ifeola Mohammed, formerly FOC, Naval Training Command, is now appointed Deputy Commandant Armed Forces Command and Staff College Jaji.
Rear Adm. T. Dick, formerly Chief of Logistics has been reappointed Chief of Administration, Naval Headquarters.
Rear Adm. M. Emuekpere, formerly Director of Naval Intelligence is now Chief Staff Officer, Western Naval Command, while Rear Adm. N. Aliyu, formerly Chief Staff Officer, Naval Training Command moves to DIA as Director of Logistics.
Rear Adm. SI Enoch, formerly Chief Staff Officer Central Naval Command, has been appointed Director of Search and Rescue at the Defence Headquarters.
Dahun also stated that Rear Adm. M. Kadiri, formerly Commandant, Naval War College, has been moved to the Navy Secretary, while Rear Adm. T. Udofia, formerly Chief Staff Officer, Western Naval Command, is now the Commandant, Naval War College.
Rear Adm. O. Ngalabak, formerly Fleet Commander, Central Fleet, has been appointed Director of Operations, Naval Headquarters, while Rear Adm. F. Ogu, formerly Director, Manning Naval Headquarters, would resume as Chief Staff Officer, Central Naval Command.
Also, Rear Adm. A. Gambo, formerly Director of Search and Rescue, Defence Headquarters, would resume as Chief Staff Officer, Naval Training Command.