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Two U.S. military aircraft crash in Japan, 5 marines missing

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Tanker plane refuelling a military aircraft

Tanker plane refuelling a military aircraft


Five U.S. marines are still missing after two American military aircraft crashed during a refuelling operation off the coast of Japan, the Japanese defence Minister Takeshi Iwaya said.

Iwaya said one crew member has been rescued and is thought to be in a stable condition.

He said efforts have been intensified to rescue the remaining victims of the crash.

A spokesman for the Japan Self-Defense Forces said another crew member had been found but there were no immediate details of the marine’s condition. “The Marine is being transported to a local hospital for evaluation,” the U.S. military said in a statement.

“U.S. military and the Japanese Self-Defense planes and vessels are searching for those still missing… I hope all the members will be rescued safely as soon as possible,” Iwaya added.

The marines were conducting “regularly scheduled training” when the crash occurred around 2:00 am local time, the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force said in a statement.

The F/A-18 fighter jet with two crew onboard and a KC-130 refuelling tanker with five crew crashed into the sea around 100 kilometres (55 nautical miles) off the cape of Muroto in southwestern Japan, Iwaya said.

The crew member rescued had been in the fighter jet, the minister confirmed.

Japan’s SDF had deployed nine aircraft and three vessels for the search, he said.

“We are thankful for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s efforts as they immediately responded in the search and rescue operation,” the Marines said.

A spokesman for the Japanese coastguard said six vessels and an aircraft had been dispatched separately to assist in the rescue efforts.

There are few details about the circumstances of what the Marines described as a “mishap” and an investigation is underway.

Public broadcaster NHK sent a helicopter to try to find the crash site but was unable to locate it due to heavy fog and rain.

During a normal KC-130 refuelling operation, the tanker aircraft trails a hose from the back of the plane with a so-called “drogue”, shaped a bit like a windsock, at the end.

The fighter jet then inserts a probe inside the drogue to receive fuel, which it can do at a rate of up to 300 gallons per minute, according to globalsecurity.org.

The US military has about 50,000 troops stationed in Japan and accidents are not uncommon.

In November, a U.S. navy fighter jet crashed into the sea off Japan’s southern island of Okinawa and its two crew members were rescued alive.

And in November 2017, a C-2A “Greyhound” aircraft with 11 people on board went down in the Philippine Sea — eight were rescued and the search was called off for the remaining three after a two-day search.

The U.S. military has also experienced difficulties with its Osprey helicopters, with several emergency landings, a deadly crash and a piece of chopper falling on the grounds of a Japanese school.

Those incidents have stoked tensions between close military allies Washington and Tokyo and led to protests against the deployment of Ospreys by residents living near US bases.

Iwaya said the incident was “regrettable but at this point we are doing our utmost to rescue those still missing”.

“Later, if we get to know the details of the accident, we will take appropriate measures,” added Iwaya.

He said that there was no information that any passing vessels were affected by the crash.

Yoshihiko Fukuda, mayor of Iwakuni that hosts the U.S. base where the two aircraft were based, told the city assembly he had asked the military to halt operations until the cause of the accident became clear.

“I will urge the government and the U.S. military to take thorough measures in finding out the cause of the accident and preventing a repeat,” said Fukuda.

The U.S. ambassador to Japan, Bill Hagerty, said he was sending “heartfelt thoughts and prayers to families and colleagues of those still missing” and also praised the Japanese response.

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2019: Atiku speaks on S’East development commission bill, tells Igbo senators what to do

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Atiku Abubakar

Atiku Abubakar


The Presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar, has commended senators from the South East for working hard to realise the South East Development Commission, SEDC, which bill was passed recently.

He gave the commendation yesterday in a terse statement by the Abia State coordinator of the Atiku/Obi Presidential Campaign Organisation, Chief Charles Ogbonnaya in Umuahia.

Recall that the Bill co-sponsored by Senators Stall Oduah (PDP-Anambra) and Samuel Anyanwu (PDP-Imo) aims at enhancing the infrastructural development of the South East zone, which is grappling with huge ecological challenges.

Against that backdrop, Atiku urged the senators not to relent but to fight further to ensure that the commission takes off and was well funded.

According to him, “the commission if well funded would go a long way in solving some of the infrastructural deficiencies being suffered by the people of the South East.”

He also called on all his support groups, political action groups, civil society organisations and the general public to an interactive session with him and his Vice Presidential candidate, Mr Peter Obi, scheduled for today, in Aba.

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Gov Emmanuel charged as EFCC arraigns NBA president, Paul Usoro over Akwa lbom’s N1.4bn

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Paul Usoro

Paul Usoro


The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Tuesday arraigned Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President Mr. Paul Usoro (SAN) at a Federal High Court in Lagos, for an alleged N1.4 billion fraud.

Usoro, who pleaded not guilty, was docked before Justice Muslim Sule Hassan on a 10-count charge, bordering on the alleged offences.

He was alleged to have conspired to convert N1.4 billion, property of Akwa Ibom State Government.

Others charged with him are: Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Finance, Nsikan Nkan; Accountant-General Mfon Udomah; Attorney-General Uwemedimo Nwoko and Margaret Ukpe said to be at large.

Also named in the charge was Akwa Ibom State Governor Emmanuel Udom, who the EFCC said was “currently constitutionally immune from prosecution”.

Usoro was in court with 13 Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) led by Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN).

Olanipekun opposed his client’s arraignment pending a transfer of the case from Justice Hassan.

He told the judge that the defence had written a letter to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Abdul Kafarati, seeking a transfer of the case to Uyo, Abuja or any other jurisdiction of the court away from the judge.

Olanipekun said: “I owe a duty to advise the court that the defendant made available to his lawyers, a copy of a letter dated December 17, 2018, addressed to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court praying for the transfer of the case to any judicial division between Uyo and Abuja or if in Lagos to any other judge apart from my lord presiding.

“The application is very innocuous and was written by virtue of the legal right of the defendant.

“We understand that a copy of the letter has been served on the court and since the letter is before the Chief Judge, the proper thing is to await his decision as a mark of respect for him.”

But, the EFCC counsel, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, opposed him.

Oyedepo prayed the court to discountenance Olanipekun’s submissions on the ground that the ruling of the court fixing yesterday for arraignment of the defendant had not been set aside.

According to him, Section 9 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) governs the place of trial and enquiry, and requires that the charge be filed in the jurisdiction, where the alleged offence took place.

He argued that sufficient facts which would lead to a transfer of the case to Uyo or Abuja were not available.

“It was not the contention of the defence that the ingredient of the alleged offence did not take place in Lagos. The events that will lead to the transfer of the case to either Uyo or Abuja Division are not available,” Oyedepo said.

Justice Hassan held: “I have listened vehemently to the submissions of counsel and I have also read the letter written to the CJ.

“The issue in view is narrowed down to whether the defendant can take his plea in the circumstance.”

The judge held that although it was not in dispute that the CJ reserved the right to transfer cases, the instant case was already assigned to his court.

Justice Hassan admitted the defendant to bail for N250 million, with one surety in the like sum.

The court added that the surety must be owner of landed property within the court’s jurisdiction or a civil servant not lower than the rank of a Director in the Federal or State civil service.

The NBA President was further ordered to deposit his international passport with the court’s Deputy Chief Registrar (DCR), which will be verified for genuineness.

He adjourned the case till February 5, March 5, and March 6, 2019 for trial.

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Plateau unrest: Military taskforce accuses elites of manipulating, misguiding youths into violence

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Nigerian Army

Nigerian Army


The Special Military Taskforce code named Operation Safe Haven (OPSH), saddled with the responsibility of maintaining peace in Plateau State, on Tuesday blamed elites in the state of manipulating and misguiding youths into perpetuating violence.

Commander OPSH, Major General Augustine Agundu, made the disclosure in Jos at a youth summit organised by OPSH and Civil Military Relief Initiative to foster unity and peaceful coexistence.

Agundu said within his five months as OPSH Commander, he was able to interact with different groups (ordinary/elite) and he understood the true situation of things.

“My deduction here on the Plateau is that the youth have been manipulated and misguided into violence.

“Some mischief makers are exploiting the vulnerability of the youth population to unleash mayhem on law abiding citizens,” he stated.

The Commander said, according to UNICEF figures, 45.8 percent of Plateau population are youth under the age of 30 years.

According to him, with almost half of the population being youth, it therefore means that the youths should be prepared to take up leadership responsibilities and not indulge in the act of violence.

“Some claim to be representing you, but in truth they prosper in atmosphere of chaos and bloodletting”, he explained.

“May I arouse your consciousness and urge you to never allow yourselves to be used as agents of disintegration.

“This crises on the Plateau has lasted for too long and must stop now if we all agree in unity of peace purpose,” he added.

He said, “An average Plateau youth is energetic, vibrant, hardworking, focus and result oriented.”

Agundu urged them not to allow anybody to belittle their capacity to positively change the society.

He appealed to them not to indulge in drugs, stating that the crises is perpetrated as effect of drug consumption.

The Commander expalined that the summit by OPSH, is a non kinetic approach to entrench enduring peace in Plateau.

According to him, he convened the meeting so that eyeball to eyeball, the youth who have bore the brunt of most crises, and were most often used to foment the trouble to understand that it would take them no where.

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