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Nigeria’s Rampant Banditry and Some Ideas On How to Rein It in

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Gusau — ‘The problem is that the peace deals negotiated so far are badly flawed and amateurishly executed.’

They are known simply as “bandits” – heavily armed criminal gangs that have terrorised Nigeria’s rural northwest, killing, kidnapping, forcing people from their homes, and taunting the authorities with their brazenness.

The violence typically involves scores of gunmen on motorbikes sweeping into villages, shooting all the young men they can find on the assumption they belong to local vigilantes, and then carting away livestock and anything else of value.

The raids are increasingly daring. In the last few months, bandits have downed an air force jet; attacked the military’s officer training school; struck a prestige commuter rail service running between the capital, Abuja, and the city of Kaduna; and kidnapped students for ransom from schools and colleges so many times that education is now in peril.

And although bandits aren’t natural ideological bedfellows for jihadist movements, there’s also a persistent fear that al-Qaeda-linked Ansaru and Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) – the country’s largest extremist group after splitting from Boko Haram – are recruiting among them to expand their influence across the entire north.

Zamfara, one of Nigeria’s poorest states, is at the centre of the banditry. It tops the country’s league table of violent deaths, with 495 reported killings between July and October. That’s far more fatalities than northeastern Borno – where ISWAP and Boko Haram operate.

The insecurity has triggered a food emergency across the northwest, with over 450,000 people fleeing farms and rural markets. The US government’s Famine Early Warning Systems Network, known as FEWS NET, has predicted “catastrophe” levels of hunger in parts of the region – which means famine for some households.

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The following outlines what’s gone wrong in the ongoing attempts to resolve the expanding crisis, and offers some recommendations on a way forward.

The failed military response

Roughly 10 military operations have been launched against banditry in the northwest so far, but they have failed to make a dent in the insecurity. The mobile gangs take advantage of a forested, sparsely populated region, and when attacked, simply move elsewhere.

The security stick doesn’t address the root causes of the violence. Land disputes are a key issue: Expanding farms have encroached on the routes and cattle reserves used by pastoralists, resulting in friction – on both sides – when fields are trampled. Local authorities are seen to have failed to fairly adjudicate these conflicts.

Nigeria is also under-policed, so farmers turned to vigilantes – known as Yan Sakai – for protection. But the Yan Sakai have been indiscriminate in their retaliatory violence. Although the bandits do recruit from among pastoralists, the vigilantes’ response has been to target all herder communities, regardless of culpability.

The pastoralists have responded with their own, forest-based – and better-armed – self-defence groups, which over time have become almost indistinguishable from the original bandits.

What’s to be done?

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To try and stem the spreading chaos, some state governments have turned to peace deals to essentially buy off the gunmen. The model is the oil-rich Niger Delta from a decade ago, where militants protesting the government’s exploitation of the area accepted amnesty deals and development programmes to end attacks on oil facilities.

But that approach has had mixed results in the lawless northwest. Zamfara introduced an amnesty and a cash for guns scheme in 2016. Initially, it seemed to work, but it fell apart two years later with the death of warlord Buharin Daji, the lynchpin of the deal.

Zamfara tried again in 2020. This time, the new governor, Bello Matawalle, offered cows in return for guns (to avoid monetising the violence). He also ordered the disarmament of the Yan Sakai, and pledged to construct Rural Grazing Areas – settlements with dams and veterinary services set aside for pastoralists. But the attacks continued, and Matawalle made a U-turn in September, cancelling further dialogue.

A new military offensive was launched in Zamfara in September, combined with a telecommunications blackout, and bans on the sale of fuel in jerry cans to try to blunt the bandits’ mobility. But the measures have simply pushed the bandits into neighbouring states.

It has been the same story in Katsina, the home state of President Muhammadu Buhari, with peace deals never properly sticking. Yet pastoralists in both Zamfara and Katsina also point out that governments have failed to deliver on the development promises they made.

Some states, led by Kaduna and Niger, have taken a far harder line by refusing to negotiate over ransom demands or amnesties. But they have not fared any better, with a string of high-profile student abductions that has forced the closure of schools.

Private mediation has also been tried. The most prominent was by Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, the leader of the influential Izala Islamic sect. He held a series of forest meetings with bandits, arguing that their grievances should be taken seriously and would need the kind of political and financial investment that ended the Delta crisis.

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Why peace deals don’t work

There’s a tendency to see the bandits as an undifferentiated group of ruthless, criminally minded men, ready to welch on any deal as soon as it’s in their interests to do so. In much of Nigeria, they are referred to as “terrorists” – which clouds conciliation attempts.

Both Matawalle, the Zamfara governor, and Gumi, the cleric, have argued that among the bandits are the self-defence groups that took up arms to defend pastoralist communities against the Yan Sakai – and to protest government neglect – and these are the men the amnesties and promises of development spending aim to reach.

But regardless of government intentions, the problem is that the peace accords negotiated so far are badly flawed and amateurishly executed.

These are some of the key issues getting in the way of workable deals:

Nothing in writing: There are usually no documents that outline terms and conditions, and no legal framework to guide implementation. That’s why, one bandit leader told The New Humanitarian, he considers them a “deal”, not an “agreement”: They are essentially transient and non-binding.

Lack of consultation: The peace deals are further weakened by the lack of involvement of farming communities. As a result, the farmers believe the interests of the aggressors are prioritised over the rights of the victims. The Yan Sakai – who farmers see as vital community defenders – complain that they hear about peace deals over the radio, just like everybody else.

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Bandit proliferation: It’s estimated that there are at least 80 major gangs operating in the northwest. No chain of command unites them, and they act in their own individual interests. This means a complicated series of negotiations are needed to bring them all on board – if that’s even possible.

Hungry lieutenants: Negotiations are also complicated by the power dynamics within each gang. Deals are made with leaders, who have grown rich from banditry. They then need to sell the accord to their men, some of whom may not yet be ready to retire from a life of relatively easy money. Some deals have failed due to the overestimation of a warlord’s influence.

Guns galore: Media-friendly disarmament ceremonies don’t tell the full story. There are a lot of weapons in circulation, and it’s the village-based Yan Sakai that are at a disadvantage when it comes to surrendering them. The more mobile bandits can cache their weapons out of sight in the forests. And even though they are known to possess RPGs and anti-aircraft guns, those are usually not handed in – a lack of monitoring means they are likely to stay hidden.

No DDR: The lack of a formal disarmament, demobilisation, and rehabilitation (DRR) programme to support the reintegration of repentant bandits is also a challenge. Its absence compromises empowerment and psycho-social support programmes – which can leave surrendered bandits stranded and frustrated, vulnerable to re-recruitment.

Left and right hand: The lack of policy cohesion between the federal and state governments adds to the challenges of making peace. For instance, at the same time that Zamfara was offering an amnesty in 2018, the army was on an offensive, undermining the process.

The failure of the formally negotiated deals has seen the rise of hyper-local agreements between individual communities and the gangs, with villagers paying a tax in return for peace. In some areas, bandits now act as the law, settling local disputes and dispensing “justice”.

The way forward?

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Here are some suggestions to deliver better results:

Smarter warfare: Nigeria must adopt a whole-of-government approach, with an emphasis on a military strategy that is holistic rather than piecemeal. In the immediate term, to establish peace, the government must first gain legitimacy by protecting the people.

Coordination: Peace deals alone are not a silver bullet in the fight against banditry: But they can be managed far better than the current ad hoc approaches: They need to be part of a “joined up” strategy that involves states and the federal government.

Incentives: A formal DDR programme needs to accompany any peace arrangement, similar to what is being implemented for surrendering jihadist fighters in the country’s northeast. Many of the bandits are young pastoralists without formal education. To leave the bush, they will need incentives, in the form of training and support.

No impunity: DDR should target the low-ranking footsoldiers – but the warlords must be held accountable for their actions. Given the sclerotic and frequently corrupt formal justice system, Nigeria should consider establishing special courts to try them.

Reparations: The success of any peace deal will depend on how the victims of the banditry are treated – including compensation for losses incurred during the conflict. For peace to be seen to be just, it needs to include reparations.

Reserves: To end pastoralist encroachment on farms – and farmer encroachment on grazing lands – reserves need to be gazetted, with water points, veterinary services, and schools also provided: an ongoing plea from pastoralists.

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The government has drafted a National Livestock Transformation Plan that aims to curb the movement of cattle by encouraging pastoralists to switch to sedentary livestock production – more mechanisation and less transhumance. It’s a good start, but it is yet to be implemented – and faces financial, technical, and political challenges.

As this list of suggestions shows, for there to be any hope of ending the banditry in the long run, Nigeria must address the root causes of the conflict, and that requires far-reaching reforms in governance, and real accountability for all those associated with the insecurity.

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MENTAL HEALTH

9 Strong Confirmations You’re Having an Emotional Affair — And What to Do About It

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Let us put on our imaginative hats on for 2 minutes. You are casually scrolling through Instagram and there’s this guy who you’ve been digging their pics and commenting on everything they say. If you were not in a serious relationship he could have been the perfect one for you. However you noticed that not only can you drool over his pictures he is responding to your comments and seems even emotionally invested. You even found out he stays in the same city as you do and belongs to a local gym just a few blocks from your house.

“This is a great time to get fit” you think out loud and then register in the same gym. you even begin to work out around the same time he visits the gym all in a bid to be near him. He notices you and both of you become work-out buddies and exchange phone numbers so you can discuss the best diets to back-up your work-out’s with. Suddenly it hits you again that both of you are so in sync with each other and if you were not in a committed relationship he would have been a perfect choice in all regards. You have now confirmed that he’s definitely emotionally invested in you and this sends ticklish flashes throughout your entire body.

At this point you are fine with all of the feelings, chatting, trust and new-found closeness you enjoy with this person. Everything is under control afterall both of you aren’t having sex. I understand that there are exceptions to all these rules but i can tell you for free that you have begun an affair. A point your partner and therapist might align on. You still are not sure right? Well i’ll help you clarify this by giving you clear signals that could help you tell yourself the unhinged truth.

 

1.Putting Yourself in High-risk Situations With Them

The moment you begin to put yourself in situations where you’re trying to be alone with someone of the opposite sex who isn’t your partner. It’s considered high-risk. Getting drinks, going on long drives or simply making out exclusive phone conversation time for them should be your first sign that you are having an affair. Social media, whatsapp etc. has made it much easier for individuals to connect with their exes triggering intimacy in a flash for the undisciplined emotion. I chose the word ”Undisciplined Emotion” because Mark Zuckerberg did not ask you to send that message or respond to the one that was sent to you. You decided because you wanted to. So impulsive and reckless men and women have sunk their marriages themselves.

2. The ”How About Your Partner” Dilemma

The moment you cannot answer this question freely with this new person in your life, then you are really in trouble. Many individuals have told me how their affairs begun from them trying to help a friend navigate turbulent emotional times in their life. They simply asked ‘How about your wife/husband?” and things just went too fast from that point. They were in too deep before they could realize something had gone wrong.

For you making the moves, If you begin to talk to your new crush about your main relationship that is a serious no-no. Secondly if you begin to tell this person how your partner pees on the toilet without raising the toilet seat or inform them on how not-so-caring he is then you are almost full circle into the affair. Any conversation with this person that leaves you emotionally vulnerable is an invitation to have them fill up some emotional space. However, do not think that talking business with them either is safe, especially if you know deep down that you like this person. All you may be trying to do is keep them around you by any means necessary. It’s one thing to say these things to this new person in your life about your partner but my ultimate litmus test is this.

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Telling this new person about a lack between yourself and your partner that you haven’t even spoken to your partner about is treachery. A sell-out.

3. You’re Hiding and Lying About YOUR ACTIVITIES

Going to hang out with your female best friend is one thing but lying about it simply means you felt some measure of guilt. Anything that makes you lie to your spouse or hide certain activities from them is a red flag.

Please do not tell me you are protecting your spouse and saving their insecure soul the torture of suspicion because now you will be lying to me as well. If your partner is insecure validate them and not further re-inforce it. Even extremely insecure people can be helped.

If you find yourself waiting to leave the house to communicate, deleting chats, refusing to tell your partner about them or just feeling conflicted about the whole situation then you are most likely having an affair. One of the toughest things I struggled with at the onset of my career 12 years ago was learning to allow people their full session of ‘Falsification’ without interrupting. Clients most times know they are having affairs but yet deny it themselves even after being caught or confronted by a partner. If it’s a friendly outing then your partner needs to know.

4. You Suddenly Feel ‘DESIRED’ and ‘POWERFUL’

When you begin to contemplate an affair while married it simply means that your relationship has gone sour. If there was ever a thing as the benefits of having an affair, i would list the opportunity to sincerely fix your relationship with your spouse or an opportunity to love again. When you do not build your relationship it dies. An affair has such a powerful pull because it makes you feel both desirable and powerful all at once. The two things you lose when your relationship settles into a comfortable crawl.  Rather than work towards correcting this, many individuals would rather seek thrills outside of their marriage or relationship.

 

Available on Podcast:

 

5. You Start Avoiding REAL Intimacy With your Partner

When you start having an emotional affair, one of the things you lose is the intimate connection you once had with your partner. No deep conversations, moments or emotions are shared anymore.  Most times the affair becomes the real avoidance mechanism for shying away from intimacy with a partner. At this point a partner cannot have deep conversations or share their feelings with you but rather would discuss it with an outsider just to maintain that distance between you and them. At this time, it would also be important to note this. especially with the up rise in the number of men and women attracted to married folk or people in committed relationships.

An attraction to a married person or someone in a committed relationship over 82% of the time points towards feeling unworthy and undeserving of a complete loving relationship that includes a give and take – both emotionally and physically.

6. The state of complete Obsession

Like a high-school kid in love, this person takes over your thoughts. Your routine and schedule now gets tinkered with to accommodate this person. Feelings begin to intensify and deepen at this stage. When you do not receive their messages you become very anxious regardless of who is watching. You start to take out your aggression on your partner, kids or anyone else who you consciously or unconsciously perceive to be a deterrent towards making this new relationship a lot more convenient for you.

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This is the point where things begin to get dangerous because they have finally gained full control of your mental space. This means that at this point, they can be right there in the bedroom with you and your spouse even if not physically. At this point clients begin to build up libido with mental images of this person. Afterall, the aim is to satisfy your spouse RIGHT? Your sex life with you and your partner suddenly seems boring because there is a secret craving to sleep with this other person rather than your partner. Now the real problems begin.

7. The COMPLAINTS stage

All of a sudden you will come to realize that your spouse is not meeting up to most of your expectations. Infact you are outrightly disappointed with them. Rather than reaching out to your former support structures of friends, siblings, in-laws etc. You would rather call on this one person who understands you more than everybody else in the world right now.

If you happen to be at this stage currently in your marriage or relationship, it’s the perfect time to seek out other healthy support systems you may require asides from your spouse. You could register for an online class, join a book club, schedule hang-out sessions with friends or simply connect via call with your family a lot more. This could help you not rely on your partners attention or lack of it.

8. Now you are LYING about the other person

It’s already bad enough that you are hiding a potential emotional affair from your spouse but having to lie about it is another level of deceit. Lying to someone who is supposed to rely on you 100 percent is your first step towards actual physical infidelity. The only two ways to stop this is by either speaking to your spouse about your struggle or simply speaking to someone else who you and your spouse trusts, holds in high esteem and relies upon.

The general idea is to become accountable and improve on your marriage again.

9. Requiring Support and Celebrating Successes with the other person

At this point it’s important to take note of who you run to when amazing things happen to you. Once this person isn’t your spouse,  then you might have a much bigger problem on your hands than anticipated at the beginning of this article.  Couples in healthy marriages turn to each other to celebrate happy times and also get support during bleak times. ONCE YOU ARE NOT RELYING ON YOUR PARTNER FOR THIS,  you may have just replaced them emotionallyIf this is the current state of affairs in your marriage then it’s time to work on your marriage and a good place to start is by asking your spouse for support. If they struggle with this, then it’s time to talk about it and get help from a professional near you.

 

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WHAT’S NEXT?

Firstly, if you still do not think you are having an emotional affair and none of the points i mentioned resonate, then its a good time to go do something else and wait for my next article. However, if you know you were definitely having an emotional affair and have no plans of breaking up with your partner then you have taken the first step which is admitting that you were having an affair.

I wish I could tell you to go back to your crush and request that both of you remain business partners or friends. Unfortunately my usual advice is that you completely cut off ties with them. Most professionals are still divided on IF you should tell your partner that you had been embroiled in an emotional affair especially if there was no physical intimacy. I believe that this is the true test of honesty and friendship between partners and should be discussed. Other therapists may advice that you keep it under wraps and save your partner the emotional torture since nothing happened and all has been handled with ties cut.

My opinion is that the best marriages are the ones where both partners are mature and vulnerable enough to clean out their closets, communicate healthily and rebuild trust after it has been shaken. Whatever you try to hide, OWNS YOU. – Temple Obike

Couples therapy could help you and your partner rebuild intimacy and connect on a much deeper level than before. i would love to leave you with one piece of information. Your partner will NEVER be the most attractive person in every room or place and as long as you are constantly searching for a distraction, you will always find one. If you constantly find yourself in situations where you are looking, the real solution is to opt in for therapy and find out WHY you are doing this after which you can then understand how to stop.

This is a good place to end today’s piece and don’t forget that an emotional affair nipped at the bud is an opportunity to strengthen a union and make it better.

Written by Obike Temple.
Temple Obike is a licensed marriage and family therapist, speaker, author and psychotherapist who has counseled over one thousand, two hundred clients comprising of couples, individuals, abuse victims (substance, physical, emotional and sexual) and grief-stricken clients. With over 70,000 in-counseling minutes (1,000+ hours) accrued in practice. He runs his private psychotherapy & counseling practice out of Lagos, Nigeria and has counseling centers in Abuja and Port-Harcourt. His practice also provides options for both online and on-site services.His private practice has positively empowered lives through his online counseling, podcasts, free advisory services and free online materials.  Readership of his articles also receive a growing number of visitors alongside subscriptions to his email newsletter at templeobike.com. His passion for empowering and uncovering the secrets to lifelong marriages and personal development led to his new book titled “Soul Bodega” available on amazon and across other online and traditional stores.Never give up on yourself! You are a journey happening through various destinations.Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit our website for more info!

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HEALTH

Encouraging Employees to Reduce Carbon Footprint

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Business operations, from production to transportation, all contribute to a company’s environmental impact. Unfortunately, the workplace accounts for a considerable portion of greenhouse gas emissions. The carbon footprint of offices and sites is a major source of greenhouse gases.

As businesses reopen and people resume their daily commutes, now is an excellent opportunity to consider how your company can minimize its carbon footprint. This will not just have a positive impact on the environment but can also lower operational costs and benefit your business.

Fighting climate change through a more carbon-neutral office is attainable with the combined effort and action of your managers and employees. Minimize your carbon footprint at work and encourage your employees to do the same by following these simple measures.

Use energy-saving office equipment

The use of office equipment is a large and growing source of energy consumption. You can help reduce your carbon footprint and other greenhouse gases by utilizing energy-efficient office equipment, appliances, and light fixtures that emit fewer harmful gases into the environment.

Use laptops instead of desktop computers because they consume up to 80% less energy. Choose all-in-one printers, copiers, and scanners that use only half the energy that the individual machines would collectively.

Take advantage of your device’s energy-saving settings, which allow you to adjust the display options, screen brightness, and sleep mode timing to save even more energy and extend battery life. Unless they are required to be left on, always switch off computers and monitors at the end of the day.

Using energy-saving light bulbs is another option to minimize your office’s energy use. LED and fluorescent light bulbs consume less energy than incandescent light bulbs.

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Promote a paperless culture

The manufacturing of paper products emits greenhouse gases, which contribute to deforestation and global warming. Recycling can help mitigate some of the adverse effects on the environment, but only to a certain extent. The vast majority of paper eventually ends up in a landfill. By reducing your reliance on paper, your business may contribute to the environment’s health.

Moreover, ink, toners, and ink cartridges contain potentially dangerous compounds that, when incorrectly disposed of, pollute water and soil, contributing to the spread of ecological devastation. It also takes more than three quarts of oil, a nonrenewable energy source, to produce a laser printer and inkjet cartridges.

If you must print, make sure you do it on both sides. Doing so will slash your annual paper consumption by half, as well as the harmful gases produced in the process.

Encourage employees to use note-taking apps to take digital notes. Adopt electronic signatures—make it simple to collect digital signatures on contracts and legal documents instead of printing, signing, faxing, and storing them physically. Use electronic communications such as Google Docs, Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Trello for collaboration, project management, and business notifications.

 

Encouraging Employees to Reduce Carbon Footprint

Participate in carbon offsetting

Join the organizations committing to net-zero by 2050 and identify strategies to minimize your company’s carbon emissions year after year. It’s challenging to reduce your carbon footprint to zero, but there are techniques to offset, or at least try to counteract, any greenhouse gases you do produce.

Various marketplaces provide a wide range of corporate offset options. Your organization can consider financing renewable energy programs and projects that help people in developing countries or tree-planting projects that benefit the environment.

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When considering different types of carbon offsets, keep in mind that not all marketplaces and offsets are created equal.

Eat mindfully and reduce office kitchen waste

Food waste and other waste generated in office kitchens contribute significantly to carbon emissions. Wastage also involves squandering all the energy and resources expended to grow, produce, package, and transport food. Furthermore, rotting food that’s been thrown out releases methane, another greenhouse gas.

Buy and prepare food conservatively and consciously. Encourage employees to bring a packed lunch to work every day, reduce food waste by eating leftovers from dinner, or buy food with fair trade labels that ensure the environment and workers’ rights are protected.

Consider setting up a composting bin, supplying reusable dishes and utensils, buying recycled and compostable napkins and other disposables, and replacing water bottles with a tap water filter.

Take public transportation or carpool

Private vehicles are one of the most significant sources of carbon emissions. If everyone in your workplace drives their own car to work, your company’s carbon footprint will increase. Reduce your organization’s carbon footprint by encouraging your employees to take public transportation or carpool with colleagues.

Taking public transportation instead of driving will not only save your employees thousands of dollars annually but also brings considerable environmental benefits. Switching to public transit for a 20-mile round trip commute can reduce your carbon footprint by 4,800 pounds each year.

You can also reduce energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, and traffic congestion by carpooling. Employees that carpool may also benefit from less stressful commutes, shared travel costs, and preferential parking at work.

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Some (final) thoughts

Sustainable business practices can yield substantial rewards for the environment and your organization. By following the steps outlined above, your business can minimize its carbon footprint, save money and resources, and attract environmentally conscious customers and employees.

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AFRICA

Controversy surrounds Okowa’s Chief of Staff Resignation

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No fewer than seven commissioners, including the Chief of Staff to the Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, have resigned from the State Executive Council.

Aside from the chief of staff, Festus Agas, who had debunked the claim, others who resigned are Basil Ganagana, Evelyn Oboro, Julius Egbedi, Jonathan Ukodhiko, Christian Onogba, Ovie Oghoore, and Chika Ossai.

Their resignation, it was gathered, may not be unconnected to the requirement of Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act 2022.

The act stipulates that political appointees must resign their appointments before participating in the 2023 general elections, either as delegates or seeking elective offices.

However, Agas On Friday said that he was yet to resign from his position.

Okowa had last week ordered his cabinet members who have political ambitions to resign their appointment.

Agas’s resignation was said to have been kept in secrecy, as he was sighted in his office from Monday to Friday morning (today).

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It was learnt that the Chief of Staff tendered his resignation on Monday.

Credible sources within the Okowa’s government, while confirming the development, said Agas has started moving vital personal documents and belongings from his office.

Also, the Special Assistant to Okowa on Media, Ossai Ovie Success, in a post on his Facebook page on Thursday, confirmed Oga’s resignation.

He wrote, “I just had a good time with Rt Hon Festus Ovie Agas who just resigned as Chief of Staff Government House Asaba. We spent good time together at the office. Rt Hon Ovie Agas has always been a good father, leader with humility and heart of generosity.”

Agas has been severally rumoured to be interested in contesting the 2023 governorship election on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party.

It has also been rumoured that Agas had alleged to have secured the nod of Okowa to go into the race.

But when contacted by our correspondent, Agas denied his resignation.

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News Source : PUNCH NEWSPAPERS

 

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AFRICA

15 Most Mysterious Places in the World

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Enjoy our list of the most mysterious places in the world. This amazing article was compiled by the crazytourist.com . An authentic source for everything travel information. 

1. The Bermuda Triangle, Atlantic Ocean

15 Most Mysterious Places in the World

Source: pinterest

Bermuda Triangle

Tales of lost mariners and disappeared ships, crashed aircraft and even vanishing humans, have been emerging from the waters of the Bermuda Triangle for centuries.

The vast area of more than half a million square miles is also known as the Devil’s Triangle, and theories as to why so many travelers fall foul of its clutches abound.

Some say there are magnetic anomalies that throw compasses off course, others that tropical cyclones are to blame, and some say there’s simply no mystery at all! Today, visiting the area can be much more pleasant than you might think, with the sun-splashed islands of Turks and Caicos beckoning in the south and the coves of Bermuda in the north.

You may actually want to never be seen again!

2. The Banff Springs Hotel, Canada

15 Most Mysterious Places in the World

Source: flickr

The Banff Springs Hotel

With overtures of the Timberline Lodge of Stephen King and Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining fame, the Banff Springs Hotel of Canada is said to be the home of a plethora of ghost stories and mysterious happenings.

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Locals tell tales of an entire family that was murdered in cold-blood in room 873. Others talk of reappearing doormen who vanish into thin air.

But if you think you can deal with the supernatural rep, then you’re in for a real treat here.

The handsome hotel oozes Scottish Baronial styles, is shrouded by the fir-dressed peaks of the Canadian Rockies, and offers access to the iconic ski fields of Jasper and Banff.

Worth the risk? We think so!

3. Transylvania, Romania

15 Most Mysterious Places in the World

Source: flickr

Bran Castle

Sylvan hills and mist-topped mountains, the clanging echo of church bells and the stone-built medieval steeples of towns like Sibiu, Brasov and Cluj, all add to the eerie atmosphere of this vast region at the very heart of Romania.

But it’s one place that really brings the chills and gets the spine a-tingling: Bran Castle.

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This turret-topped citadel soars from the forests on the edge of Wallachia in a medley of Gothic towers and gargoyle-peppered roofs.

Over the years it’s been associated with a number of less-than-savoury, uber-mysterious figures: Vlad the Impaler, the most bloodthirsty of the Wallachian kings, and – of course – Count Dracula, the archetype of the nail-biting Nosferatu.

4. Crooked Forest, Poland

15 Most Mysterious Places in the World

Source: feel-planet

Crooked Forest

Just south of the unpronounceable city of Szczecin on Poland’s extreme eastern haunch, a stone’s throw west of the border with Germany, a small clutch of just over 400 pine trees has been garnering the attention of Atlas Obscura types and off-the-beaten-track travelers for years.

The entire forest appears to be bent over almost 90 degrees at the trunk, before twisting back straight again and growing vertically into the Slavic sky.

Debate has raged as to what caused the unusual wood to come to look like it has, with theories as wide ranging as torrential snowstorms and lumberjack growing techniques.

Weird.

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5. Bhangarh Fort, India

15 Most Mysterious Places in the World

Source: flickr

Bhangarh Fort

Enfolded by the rises of the Aravali Hills and baked by the Rajasthani sun, the old bulwarks of the Bhangarh Fort are said to echo with the ethereal presence of one cursed princess and her would-be captor, the wizard Sinhai.

It’s said that Sinhai tried to ensnare the young royal by offering her a love potion.

The plan backfired, the wizard ended up dead, but not before he could lay his hex on all the inhabitants of Bhangarh.

Today, the Mughlai complex once trodden by Madho Singh I is considered one of the most haunted spots in India.

No one is allowed to enter after dark, and locals have even reported deaths as a result of the continued curse!

6. The Skirrid Mountain Inn, Wales

15 Most Mysterious Places in the World

Source: visitwales

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The Skirrid Mountain Inn

Set between the rising fells and lichen-spotted stone villages on the eastern edge of the beautiful Brecon Beacons National Park (Wales’ lesser-known, southern mountain range), The Skirrid Mountain Inn oozes with tales and stories of the Gaelic nation’s past.

Some say it was the gathering point of rebel fighters under the banner of Owain Glyndŵr, the hero of Welsh resistance against Henry IV. Others claim that it was once a courthouse where criminals were not only condemned to death but also hung, all under the command of the infamous so-called Hanging Judge, George Jeffreys.

There’s even a swinging noose still dangling from the rafters inside, and oodles of ghost stories to hear over your cawl (traditional Welsh soup)!

7. The Tower of London, England

15 Most Mysterious Places in the World

Source: flickr

The Tower of London

The beheading of kings, the incarceration of state enemies, the plotting of political machinations from the Tudors to the Elizabethans; all manner of dark and shady deeds has gone down between the crenulations of London’s old fortress on the north bank.

Stories of hauntings and mysterious happenings began with the sighting of Thomas Becket (a martyred saint), who is said to have stymied construction of the palace’s extension from the grave.

However, it’s the apparition of one Queen Anne Boleyn that causes the biggest stir – her headless body is seen lurking by the spot where she was killed at the behest of Henry VII back in the 1530s!

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8. Eternal Flame Falls, United States

15 Most Mysterious Places in the World

Source: flickr

Eternal Flame Falls

Delve into the winding walking trails that crisscross the Chestnut Ridge Park and discover the hidden wonder of Shale Creek.

Called, appropriately, Eternal Flame Falls, this curious natural phenomenon is a real mystery to behold.

Why? Well, because it manages to fuse two of the earth’s most elemental forces in one single spot – that’s why! You’ll first see the gorgeous falls themselves, cascading down over layers of chiselled granite rock.

Then comes the flame, which can be seen flickering behind the cataracts.

It never goes out, and scientists say the conflagration is created by the presence of natural gas seeping from the subterrane.

9. Richat Structure, Mauritania

15 Most Mysterious Places in the World

Source: flickr

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Richat Structure

Seemingly swirling and spinning and twisting like a cyclone through the heart of the mighty Sahara Desert, the great Richat Structure in the depths of Mauritania is something truly mysterious (although you’ll certainly have to take to the skies to see it!). Scientists have puzzled for years as to how the perfect circular set of concentric rings got there.

Some think it was an asteroid impact in centuries gone by.

Others say it was the simple process of natural geological attrition and erosion.

And then – of course – there are some who think it was the creation of extra-terrestrials, who passed this way and marked a landing point for future visits to earth.

Hmm, maybe!

10. The Nazca Lines, Peru

15 Most Mysterious Places in the World

Source: flickr

The Nazca Lines

Scarring their way across the dusty desert landscapes of southern Peru, the Nazca Lines are amongst the most mysterious and awesome prehistoric remains in all of South America.

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And while they typically take a backseat to the country’s other major tourist draws – Machu Picchu, The Sacred Valley, Cuzco – they do draw in their fair share of visitors.

Most opt to do flyovers and see the great wonders from above, which is when the curious geoglyphs depicting spiders and monkeys come into full view.

Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, no one really knows why they were made by the ancient Nazca people.

Perhaps they were an offering to the gods? Perhaps they were a cultist symbol? It’s still a mystery.

11. Highgate Cemetery, England

15 Most Mysterious Places in the World

Source: flickr

Highgate Cemetery

If you choose to navigate the crawling vines and ivy shoots, the looming oak trees and the lichen-spotted tombstones of London’s Highgate Cemetery, then beware: this is considered by many to be the single most haunted place in the United Kingdom (Tower of London omitted, of course). The setting is certainly enough to curdle the blood, with age-old angelic figures hiding amidst the shadow growth, gargoyles laughing from the crevices, and endless rows of tombs running into the distance.

Some ghost watchers say they’ve seen apparitions flitting between the Gothic carvings.

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Others report vampires lurk in the shadows there.

12. Area 51, United States

15 Most Mysterious Places in the World

Source: flickr

Area 51

A magnet for conspiracy theorists like no other place on this list, Area 51 has inspired UFO hunters and extra-terrestrial buffs for years – it even featured in Roland Emmerich’s alien-rich masterpiece Independence Day back in 1996! Located smack bang in the midst of the Nevadan desert, the site has been kept top secret by the United States government since it began developing reconnaissance and spy planes back in the 50s.

Today, speculators think it could be anything from a public surveillance hub to a weather control station to a time travel station.

Don’t expect a visitor’s center or anything, but then Vegas is just down the road!

13. Easter Island, Polynesia

15 Most Mysterious Places in the World

Source: flickr

Easter Island

It was just at the turn of the first millennium AD that the Rapa Nui peoples of eastern Polynesia landed and began surveying the wind-blasted shores of Easter Island.

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Of course, it wasn’t called Easter Island then – the name is a later European addition courtesy of the Dutchman Jacob Roggeveen, who happened upon the land in 1722. What he discovered would have surely wowed him: countless carved effigies of colossal heads, chiselled and chipped from the black rock boulders of the land.

In fact, there are over more than 880 of the so-called moai heads here, which are each thought to represent the final member of one of the tribal family clans.

14. Stonehenge, England

15 Most Mysterious Places in the World

Source: flickr

Stonehenge

Set deep in the middle of the verdant lowlands of south-central England, where Salisbury Plain emerges in peaks and troughs of heath from the oak forests, Stonehenge has long oozed mystery and magic.

Created an estimated 5,000 years ago, this circular conglomeration of huge megalith stones is thought to have been made with unique bluestone material that could only have been quarried from the Preseli Hills in Pembrokeshire, some 200 miles away in Wales.

Mystery surrounds both how the Neolithic people managed to transport such huge rocks all that way, and as to the purpose of the building.

Today, it’s wrapped up in Arthurian legends and attracts Pagans for the summer solstice.

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15. Uluru, Australia

15 Most Mysterious Places in the World

Source: flickr

Uluru

Uluru is the mighty pillar at the middle of the Australian Outback.

It shoulders its way high above the flatlands that encompass it; a gargantuan block of sandstone rock that looks like the carapace of a petrified animal.

A truly breathtaking place to behold, it attracts everyone from hikers to history buffs (who come mainly for the pre-historic petroglyphs that mark the caves nearby). However, Ayers Rock, as the site is also called, also figures as a focal point for the old traditions of the Australian Aborigines.

They believe it’s one of the last remaining homes of the creator beings who forged the earth.

Meanwhile, other folk come here to energise themselves at the fluvial channels that run underneath the rock – whatever that means!

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Thank you for having had the patience to go through this list of 15 Most Mysterious Places in the World with us.

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