Category Archives: Humanitarian Issues

DR Congo – Congolese mob kills and burns suspected Ugandan Islamist rebel


Congo crowd kills man, eats him after militant massacres – witnesses

BENI Democratic Republic of Congo Fri Oct 31, 2014  (Reuters) – A crowd stoned to death a young man in northeast Congo on Friday before burning and eating his corpse, witnesses said, in apparent revenge for a series of attacks by Ugandan rebels.

The incident in the town of Beni followed a number of overnight raids in the area blamed on the Islamist group ADF-NAUL, who are thought to have massacred more than 100 people this month, using hatchets and machetes to kill their victims.

Witnesses said the man, who has not been identified, aroused suspicion on a bus when passengers discovered he could not speak the local Swahili language and that he was carrying a machete.

Speaking from the town of Beni, Congo’s President Joseph Kabila said the ADF-NALU militants would face the same fate as the rebel movement M23, which was defeated by a U.N.-backed government offensive last year.

“There is no question of negotiation with the terrorists,” Kabila said in a speech at a local hotel. “They will be defeated as was the case with the M23. And it will be very soon.”

ADF-NALU is an alliance of groups opposed to the Ugandan government that has operated from bases in neighbouring Congo since the mid-2000s, undermining Kinshasa’s grip on the area.

The movement was blamed for the deaths of 14 people, killed early on Thursday in the village of Kampi ya Chui, bringing the total death toll this month to at least 107, said Teddy Kataliko, president of the Civil Society of Beni.

Tensions ran high in the town on Friday morning with around 100 demonstrators blocking the road from the airport into town, throwing stones and waving machetes to demand greater government protection against the rebels.

Local government officials could not immediately be reached for comment. Earlier in the week, the government sought to downplay the threat posed by the group, which it had previously said was defeated in an operation earlier this year.

Estimates of its strength vary greatly, but the website of the U.N.’s peacekeeping mission in Congo estimates it has around 500 fighters.

The Ugandan government has said ADF-NALU is allied with Somalia’s al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab movement, but analysts say the nature of these ties is not clear, despite the ADF-NALU’s clear Islamist ideology.

In his speech on Friday, Kabila appealed for public support for a ramping up of its offensive against the group, but did not specify what that would entail.

“I call on the population to support the army because the victory against the M23 was because the population was behind the army,” he said. “I call on young people to join the army in great numbers.”

Kabila also defended the U.N. peacekeeping mission known as MONUSCO following criticism from locals that it had failed to defend them and had even collaborated with ADF-NALU.

Crowds of mainly young men attacked several peacekeeping facilities with stones and bows and arrows last week, forcing the evacuation of some staff.

The U.N. mission says it has stepped up patrols in the area in the wake of the massacres.


Nigeria – thousands flee as Boko Haram takes Mubi town


Thousands flee as Boko Haram seizes northeast Nigerian town

MAIDUGURI/YOLA Nigeria (Reuters) – Islamist Boko Haram militants have seized control of the northeast Nigerian town of Mubi, killing dozens of people and forcing thousands to flee, witnesses said.

The insurgents stormed Mubi on Wednesday. Gunfire has been heard in the town ever since, witnesses told Reuters.

A security source on Thursday confirmed the town had fallen to the insurgents. Witnesses said they hoisted their black flag over the palace of the traditional ruler.

Witnesses said the insurgents robbed banks, burned down the main market and sacked the palace. One saw them kill a university lecturer and his entire family — Boko Haram, whose name means Western education is sinful, abhors secular learning.

Violence in Nigeria’s northeast has been on the rise since the government announced a ceasefire with the rebels nearly two weeks ago to pursue talks in neighbouring Chad aimed at freeing more than 200 girls kidnapped in April.

The government has blamed criminal networks for the violence, which has undermined public confidence in both the ceasefire and the talks. It has had no immediate comment on the situation in Mubi.

Boko Haram’s five-year-old campaign for an Islamic state, which has killed thousands, is seen as the main security threat to Africa’s biggest economy and leading oil producer.

Student Stephen Adaji said he had been hiding in the bush since mid-morning on Wednesday when the fighting began until a farmer helped him cross to a nearby village and he fled to the nearest city of Yola.

“We couldn’t sleep in the bush because of the fear Boko Haram may get us,” he said. “We were so scared, shooting was going on throughout the night and they often shouted Allah Akbar (God is greatest).”

A spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in the northeast, Abdul Ibrahim, said the agency had sent extra personnel to help manage people fleeing to Yola, a relatively safe city that is home to the well-guarded American University of Nigeria.

He said an attack just prior on the nearby town of Uba had forced 4,000 people who were in a displaced persons camp to vacate the camp and head for Yola. Several hundred also fled across the border into Cameroon.

“I saw many dead bodies in the bush and many injured people were lying helpless especially children and women,” said James Audu, also a student. “They killed a lecturer and his entire family. I saw them get shot.”

Another survivor, a mobile phone trader called Abubakar Adamu, said the Emir Isa Ahmadu was away on pilgrimage to Mecca when his palace was looted. Boko Haram scorns traditional Islamic authorities in Nigeria as corrupt and self-serving.


Nigeria – Boko Haram continue attacks in Adamawa with police station raid


Boko Haram members

Fighting between Nigerian troops and Boko Haram insurgents escalated in Mubi, Mararaba Mubi and Uba in Adamawa State on Wednesday.

Casualty figures could not be obtained as of 8pm but the development forced the state government to impose 24-hour curfew on the affected communities.

Our correspondents gathered that   Mubi, the second largest town in the state and host of two high institutions, was the worst hit.

A parent, Ahmad Sajoh, whose   daughter is studying at the Adamawa State University, said that as of 2pm on Wednesday, the police barracks in the Government Reservation Area was overrun by the insurgents while the prison in the town was blown open.

He added that   fighting which was ongoing at the army barracks caused confusion at the IDP camp in the Lamorde area of the town.

However, an online newspaper, SaharaReporters reported that Boko Haram insurgents took over the headquarters of the 234 battalion in the town.

Our correspondents gathered that the development made banks to move their cash to Yola, the state capital.

Sources told The PUNCH that insurgents   launched an attack on Uba   in the Michika-Madagali area of the state in response to sustained aerial bombardment of their hideouts by security forces.

Residents said they saw a large number of insurgents at Mararaba, a town about seven kilometres from Mubi.

Sajoh told one of our correspondents that his daughter called to inform him about the development in Mubi.

He said, “This morning, I got a call from my daughter who is a 200-level student. She was hysterical. I was in Abuja for a meeting, but her information forced me to head back to Yola immediately.

“I ordered her to leave the hostel and join her cousins to escape the town. I called my father who confirmed the story. By the time I arrived at Yola airport, the town had fallen to the insurgents.

“My parents are trapped while my daughter and her cousins are missing. We have lost contact for   six hours.”

Sajoh, who is the director of Press and Public Affairs to the former Governor Murtala Nyako, added, “Mallam Iliyasu of the Bursary Department of the state university, who is trapped in the town said by 2pm, the Police Barracks in the GRA was overrun by the insurgents, the prison was blown open while fighting was going on at the army barracks. The IDP camp at Lamorde area was thrown into confusion.

“The new rulers of the town had issued a decree banning   entry and exit to the town. Students who trooped to the motor park were stranded with most taking refuge in any house that could welcome them.

“The barracks are the least safe locations in the town. So far, there are no reported cases of killings or abductions. But fear and apprehension have taken over.”

Another source said that Mubi was currently deserted by residents after the incident, the second in three months.

The   higher institutions in the   town were forced to close down again.

There are fears of   humanitarian crisis should the town fall into the hands of the insurgents.

A fleeing resident, Joshua Gajere, said   several people might have been killed during the shootings that lasted for almost two hours in Uba and other villages.

He said, ‘‘We are in serious trouble as these boys (Boko Haram) have taken over our towns, splitting into groups and advancing towards Mararaba, Mubi and Vintim, the home town of the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshal Alex Badeh. They made the   Nigerian troops to retreat to Mubi’’.

Gajere added, “As I am talking to you now, residents are scampering for safety.

‘‘Mubi has now become a ghost of itself as people in their hundreds are fleeing for their lives.

‘‘Even here in Maiha, we saw military vehicles zooming off towards Yola, the state capital.’’

However, a resident from Michika, Mr. Siva Zira, told one of our correspondents that the   military was having an upper   hand as they were able to dislodge the insurgents in Michika and Uba.

Meanwhile,   Governor James Ngillari has asked the people of the state, particularly those in the affected areas to remain calm as security agents were on the top of the situation.

His Director of Press and Public Affairs,   P.P. Elisha, said   the governor met with security heads in the state to assess the situation.

He said, “It’s unfortunate with this development, His Excellency, has met with security chiefs in the state on Wednesday to assess the situation.

“People should remain calm, security agents are on the top of situation.’’

It was further gathered banks in Mubi have taken the pre-emptive steps to move out large volume of cash to the Central Bank of Nigeria in Yola.

Our correspondents could not get the Director, Defence Information, Maj. Gen. Chris Olukolade, to comment on the   hostilities as the calls to his mobile telephone line did not connect.

The government has imposed a 24-hour curfew on Mubi, Mararaba Mubi and Uba.

The Secretary to the State Government, Mr Andrew Weyle, who announced this, advised the people to stay away from the roads and other public places.

He said,“Following the escalation of violence by the insurgents, his Excellency the Governor of Adamawa State, Mr. Bala James Ngillari, has approved the imposition of 24 hours curfew on Mubi, Mararaba Mubi and Uba, with immediate effect.

“People are advised to stay off the roads and public places except those on essential services.”

It was further gathered that the insurgents   killed the son of a prominent traditional ruler in the area.

A resident, who identified himself as Kwahir Sani, said, “We fled to a village called Wuro Gude near Mubi when the violence erupted and I have lost contact with some of my children.

“As I am talking to you now, we are hearing gunshots by military in Mubi.”

It was gathered that the insurgents also attacked Askira Uba and Kukawa in Borno State for over six hours.

A fleeing resident said the terrorists killed many people, burnt many houses and carted away food stuffs.

Agence France Presse reported that the heavily armed terrorists, on arrival in Kukawa, opened fire on a police station and market, sending many fleeing.

Copyright PUNCH.

Rwanda – why the claim that only 200,000 Tutsis died is wrong

African Arguments

Rwanda: Why claim that 200,000 Tutsi died in the genocide is wrong – By Marijke Verpoorten

MarijkeVerpoortenOn October 1, 2014, BBC broadcasted its documentary Rwanda’s Untold Story. The documentary features two academics, Christian Davenport and Allan Stam, who put forward a controversial argument that 200,000 Tutsi were killed during the genocide (a figure that is much lower than conventional estimates). Several claims were made in the documentary, but the 200,000 estimate stood out, triggering outrage from diverse sources.

Rwandan genocide survivor groups, in an open letter to BBC, call the documentary a “blatant denial of the Genocide against the Tutsi”. In another open letter, 38 prominent international signatories, refer to the 200,000 estimate as “an absurd suggestion and contrary to all the widely available research reported”. Professor Filip Reyntjens, who also features in the documentary, writes in a recent African Arguments piece that “the figures provided by Professors Stam and Davenport on Tutsi and Hutu killed in 1994 do not appear to be based on solid research. At least the data they have published (not in a scientific journal or book, but merely on their website) are insufficient to support their claim, which flirts with genocide minimisation or denial.”

Let’s look at the factual data. To establish a reliable death toll among Tutsi, one needs to answer two questions. First, how many Tutsi lived in Rwanda at the eve of the genocide? Second, how many Tutsi survived? As revealed on their website, Davenport & Stam assume that there were 506,000 Tutsi in Rwanda in 1993, and 300,000 survivors after the genocide. Hence, the 200,000 death toll claim. How reliable are the two figures that make up this claim?

The 506,000 figure is unreliable. Davenport & Stam arrive at 506,000 based on an extrapolation of the 1952 population census data. The extrapolation from 1952 to 1993 assumes 2.5% population growth and subtracts UNHCR-numbers of Tutsi that fled Rwanda prior to 1994. Assuming 3.0% population growth instead of 2.5% would have yielded 620,000 Tutsi in 1993 instead of 506,000.

The UNHCR-numbers should also be taken with a pinch of salt. Clearly, extrapolating over such a large period does not yield reliable results, certainly when dealing with an exponential growth process in a turbulent period.

The last population census prior to the genocide was conducted in 1991. This census reported 596,000 Tutsi living in Rwanda, representing 8.4% of the population. Assuming an annual population growth of 2.5%, the number of Tutsi would have been 642,000 on the eve of the genocide, much higher than what is put forward by Davenport & Stam.

Why choose 1952 as a baseline over 1991, thereby seriously compromising the quality of the extrapolation? Concerning the 1991 census, the Human Rights Watch Report Leave none to tell the story says “Some critics assert that the number of Tutsi was underreported in that census and in the prior census of 1978 because the Habyarimana government wanted to minimize the importance of Tutsi in the population.”

This concern with Rwandan national census data may indeed motivate the use of the pre-independence 1952 census. But, here is the catch: because the concern with the 1991 census is one of underreporting of Tutsi, not overreporting, 642,000 Tutsi in 1993 (extrapolated from the 1991 census) should be seen as a lower bound. Davenport & Stam’s 506,000 estimate thus falls off the chart.

Regarding the underreporting of Tutsi in national census data, the 1999 HRW-report further says: “Although frequently said, no documentation has been presented to support this allegation.” In 2005, I published evidence in support of this allegation (French version here). I compared 1990 population data from the local Rwandan administration with data from the 1991 national Rwandan population census. Across these two data sources, I found an almost perfect match for the number of men and women, indicating the quality of the local population data.

In contrast, the share of Tutsi was much higher in the local population data than in the census data. This discrepancy is evidence for the underreporting of Tutsi in the 1991 census because the local administration had no reason to misreport the number of Tutsi (the ethnic quota policy depended on the national figures, not on the local ones), and Tutsi themselves could also not easily misreport their ethnicity towards local administrators (because family histories were known locally).

In 2005, I did this comparison only for one Rwandan province, so the finding could not be generalized to the whole of Rwanda. Recently, I obtained local population data for all Rwandan provinces, be it for the year 1987. These data indicate a share of 10.6% Tutsi in Rwanda, instead of 8.4% as reported in the 1991 census. I do not claim that 10.6% is perfectly reliable, but – given the allegations and evidence of underreporting in the 1991 census – I consider it more reliable than 8.4%.

Applying 10.6% to the total population reported in the 1991 population census (7,099,844), one reaches a number of 754,713 Tutsi in 1991. Assuming 2.5% population growth, one can calculate that on the eve of the genocide, there were 811,941 Tutsi living in Rwanda. Depending on what you consider as reliable for the number of survivors (300,000 or 150,000), you then reach a death toll of 512,000 or 662,000.

The range of 150,000-300,000 survivors is commonly used. At the end of July 1994, head counting in refugee camps resulted in an estimated 105,000 Tutsi survivors. According to Gérard Prunier 25,000 survivors who did not go to camps should also be added, and HRW adds another 20,000 surviving Tutsi in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Tanzania. This gives a total of 150,000 Tutsi survivors. In later years, various surveys by the Rwandan government, the gacaca transitional justice system and genocide survivor organizations reached higher estimates of around 300,000.

In the 1999 HRW-report Alison Des Forges wrote “Establishing a reliable toll of those killed in the genocide and its aftermath is important to counter denials, exaggerations, and lies. The necessary data have not been gathered but speculation about death tolls continues anyway, usually informed more by emotion than by fact.” Even twenty years after the genocide, there still is a need for more independent factual research, as is also recognized by Davenport in a recent piece. Based on the research done so far, I would claim that 512,000-662,000 is a much more plausible range for the Tutsi death toll than a range that includes 200,000.

Marijke Verpoorten is Associate Professor, University of Antwerp.

Nigeria – Chibok abductees been sent to the frontline by Boko Haram, says HRW


Nigeria’s Boko Haram ‘sends girls to front line’

Nigeria’s militant Islamist group Boko Haram has forced abducted women and girls to go to the front line to help fight the military, a new report says.

The group has taken more than 500 women and girls hostage since it began its insurgency in 2009, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) report adds.

Suspected militants seized about 30 children on Thursday, despite government claims of a truce.

Boko Haram has declared a caliphate in areas it controls in the north-east.

The group had intensified abductions since May 2013, when Nigeria’s government imposed a state of emergency in the three states where Boko Haram was most active – Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, HRW said.

The HRW report comes as three girls who escaped Boko Haram after being sbducted in April told their story to BBC Hausa.

In an animation of their story – at the top of this page – the girls describe their fear of being shot or hunted down by Boko Haram, and the dangerous journey back to safety.

‘Shaking with horror’

The New-York based group estimates that more than 4,000 civilians have been killed in more than 192 attacks since May 2013 in the north-eastern and in the capital, Abuja.

At least 2,053 civilians were killed by Boko Haram in the first half of 2014, it says.


Who are Boko Haram?

A screengrab taken on July 13, 2014 from a video released by the Nigerian Islamist extremist group Boko Haram and obtained by AFP shows the leader of the Nigerian Islamist extremist group Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau Boko Haram militants control several towns and villages in northern Nigeria
  • Founded in 2002
  • Initially focused on opposing Western education – Boko Haram means “Western education is forbidden” in the Hausa language
  • Launched military operations in 2009 to create Islamic state
  • Thousands killed, mostly in north-eastern Nigeria – also attacked police and UN headquarters in capital, Abuja
  • Some three million people affected
  • Declared terrorist group by US in 2013

In the report, a 19-year-old woman says she was held in militant camps for three months last year.

In one operation, she was given a knife to kill one of five vigilantes captured by Boko Haram.

“I was shaking with horror and couldn’t do it. The camp leader’s wife took the knife and killed him,” she said.

On another occasion, she was forced to accompany the men to the front line.

“I was told to hold the bullets and lie in the grass while they fought. They came to me for extra bullets as the fight continued during the day,” the woman said.

In this file photo taken Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013, a Nigerian soldier patrols in an armoured car, during Eid al-Fitr celebrations, in Maiduguri, Nigeria. Thousands of extra soldiers have failed to quell the five-year insurgency
A demonstrator looks on during a rally that was held to mark the 120th day since the abduction of two hundred school girls by the Boko Haram, in Abuja (12 August 2014) An international campaign was launched for the release of teenage girls abducted in April

“When security forces arrived at the scene and began to shoot at us, I fell down in fright. The insurgents dragged me along on the ground as they fled back to camp.”

HRW said it had interviewed 30 women and girls who had either fled captivity or were released by Boko Haram.

They included 12 of the 57 who managed to escape when the militants raided a boarding school in the remote town of Chibok in Borno in April.


Boko Haram is still holding 219 of the girls it had abducted during the raid, sparking a global campaign for their release.

On 17 October, Nigeria’s chief of defence staff said the military had agreed a truce with Boko Haram, and he was hopeful that the girls would be freed within a week.

However, Boko Haram has not commented on the alleged deal and the girls have not been released.

Military officers walk past the remains of a car after an explosion on 23 July  2014 in Kaduna, north of Nigeria. The main cities in northern Nigeria have been bombed on many occasions

HRW said Boko Haram seemed to pick victims arbitrarily, though students and Christians were particularly targeted.

One young woman held in a camp described how combatants placed a noose around her neck and threatened her with death until she renounced her religion.

The women and girls interviewed said that some Boko Haram commanders appeared to make efforts to protect them from sexual violence.

However, HRW said it had documented eight cases of sexual violence perpetrated by fighters and most cases of rape occurred after the victims were forced to marry.

In the latest abductions, about 30 children were taken during Thursday’s raid on Mafa village in Borno.

“The insurgents… grabbed young people, boys and girls, from our region,” said Alhaji Shettima Maina, a local community leader for Mafa.

At least 17 people were also killed in the assault, blamed by the Nigerian authorities on bandits.

Map showing Boko Haram areas of control in Nigeria


Nigeria – more children kidnapped in Borno state


Suspected Boko Haram militants have kidnapped about 30 children in north-eastern Nigeria despite government claims of a truce, a local leader says.

At least 17 people were killed when the village of Mafa in Borno state came under attack on Thursday, he adds.

The Nigerian authorities have attributed the attack to bandits.

The group has taken more than 500 women and girls hostage since it began its bloody insurgency in 2009, according to a new Human Rights Watch report.

HRW says there have been serious failings in the way the Nigerian authorities have investigated the abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls in Chibok six months ago.

Its report includes detailed testimonies from several girls who managed to escape. HRW says the police have shown little interest in documenting their evidence, and have treated the case as a “low level crime”.

The attack on Mafa, some 50 km (30 miles) east of the city of Maiduguri marks the latest in a series of assaults by Boko Haram militants, despite the government’s declaration of a ceasefire earlier this month.

The Nigerian government says it hopes the truce will pave the way for the release of those seized in Chibok.

But Boko Haram has not yet confirmed the ceasefire, and there is no indication that the girls are any closer to being released.

“The insurgents… grabbed young people, boys and girls, from our region,” said Alhaji Shettima Maina, local community leader for Mafa.

He said that all girls above the age of 11, and boys aged 13 and over, had been taken from the village.

The authorities in neighbouring Chad said the attacks were carried out by dissident factions within Boko Haram.

Since a state of emergency was declared in three of Nigeria’s north-eastern states in May 2013, Boko Haram has taken many women and children hostage and has agreed to some prisoner swaps.

The name Boko Haram translates as “Western education is forbidden”, and the militants have carried out raids on schools and colleges, seeing them as a symbol of Western culture.



Nigeria – government-Boko Haram talks to continue in Chad


The Federal Government and the Boko Haram Islamic sect will on Monday meet in Chad to further discuss the release of the over 200 schoolgirls abducted in Chibok, Borno State in April 2014.

This came a week after a botched ceasefire agreement reached by the Federal government and the sect.

The peace talk between the Nigerian government and Boko Haram sect, which is being mediated by the Chadian government, had been called into question since it was announced by the military last week following the refusal of both parties to respect the ceasefire deal.

Boko Haram has yet to comment on the ceasefire and its fighters have continued to attack villages in the North-East.

The insurgency group is responsible for the killings, abductions and the displacement of many Nigerians in the North-East.

The Chadian government, however, confirmed that Nigeria’s deal with the sect to free the schoolgirls would still go ahead despite the breakdown of a truce.

A very senior official, Chad’s foreign ministry, Moussa Dago, who spoke with Reuters on Friday, said that the key to the agreement would be a prisoner swap.

He said it appeared some Boko Haram factions were refusing to abide by the deal.

Dago said, “Quite possibly, those who are fighting are dissidents that even Boko Haram isn’t able to control. So far, there is no reason for others to doubt this agreement.

“What I can say is that those that negotiated with the Nigerian government did so in good faith … We are waiting for the next phase which is the release of the girls.”

Dago said he was confident that the negotiators had the authority to speak on behalf of Boko Haram’s reclusive leader, Abubakar Shekau, who has allegedly been killed by the Nigerian military more than once.

“They are envoys who answer to their leader Shekau, who himself confirmed that these emissaries spoke on his behalf. That was confirmed in writing to the Chadian government,” he said, confirming local press reports that the negotiators were named Cheikh Goni Hassane and Cheikh Boukar Umarou.

Dago admitted that it would be embarrassing for the Chadian President Idriss Deby’s government, which has played a lead role in diplomacy in Africa’s turbulent Sahel region in recent years, if the girls were not freed.

“It would be very disappointing. We are engaged in this now. If this negotiation doesn’t succeed, that would be damaging to Chad’s facilitating role,” he said.

Dago told Reuters that the two sides agreed verbally to a series of points summarised in a document he had seen, including the release of the schoolgirls and of jailed Boko Haram fighters.

Dago said, “The starting condition of Boko Haram was the liberation of some of their members; that is the compensation.”

He added that the specifics on the names and number of Boko Haram fighters still to be released had not yet been agreed.

He said he still expected the girls to be freed but he stated that the Boko Haram negotiators were no longer in Chad even though they had agreed to return in October after freeing the girls to hold more talks.

“We remain optimistic. The two sides agreed to find a negotiated solution and to show their good faith they already freed some hostages and announced a ceasefire,” he said.

According to him, Chad does not know where the abducted Chibok girls are being held, but Dago said it was likely they were outside of Chad and spread out over a wide area.

“The Chinese hostages freed earlier under the agreement were found scattered across northern Cameroon,” he said.

“They (Boko Haram) gave us guarantees that the girls are well but we don’t know physically where they are,” he said.

“But they have certainly dispersed them like the Chinese hostages, who were spread out over a large area.”

He explained that the two parties planned to meet again for a third time in Chad after the release of the schoolgirls to draft a roadmap to tackle more fundamental issues.

He said, “For the next stage of negotiations, the girls need to be freed. We cannot go into details as long as this question remains and it is a requirement of Chad that the girls are released before we start the next stage of talks.”

Similarly, the self-acclaimed Secretary-General of the sect, Mallam Danladi Ahmadu, confirmed that the group’s ceasefire agreement with the Federal Government was still on course.

Ahmadu, who spoke to the Hausa service of the Voice of America on Friday, said that the Chibok girls would be released on Monday to the Chadian President, Idriss Derby, for onward transfer to the Nigerian government.

He added that an enlarged meeting of the group had been fixed for the weekend to prepare grounds for the Monday meeting with the Federal Government, affirming that the final ceasefire and the release of the girls would be done by the group.

However, the group said it was unaware of the latest kidnapping of over 40 women and girls in the border villages between Adamawa and Borno states.

He admitted that many anti-social groups had infiltrated the sect.

Ahmadu also stated that political thugs, armed robbers, kidnappers, hired assassins and other anti-social groups now parade themselves as members of the sect.

He, however, added that all things being equal, all the factions would fizzle out once the ceasefire agreement was sealed.

The Chief of Defense Staff, Alex Badeh had issued an order last Friday, telling all service chiefs “to comply with the ceasefire agreement between Nigeria and Boko Haram in all theatres of operations.”

The text went out after Ahmadu told VOA that a cease-fire agreement had been reached.

Ahmadu and a close advisor to President Goodluck Jonathan, Ambassador Hassan Tukur, had told VOA that the sides were holding talks facilitated by the Chadian President and high-level officials from Cameroon.

Ahmadu, who said he was at a location on the Nigerian-Chadian border, had said the girls are “in good condition and unharmed.”

Nigerian President Jonathan has been criticised at home and abroad for his slow response to the kidnapping and for the inability of Nigerian troops to quell the violence by the militants, seen as the biggest security threat to Africa’s top economy and leading energy producer.

Boko Haram has said it is fighting to establish an Islamic state in Muslim-majority northern Nigeria.

The group has launched scores of attacks in the past five years, targeting markets, bus stations, government facilities, churches and even mosques. Militants recently took over some towns in the North-East for what the group’s leader said would be an Islamic caliphate.

The Nigerian military said the man who appeared in Boko Haram videos as Abubakar Shekau was actually an impostor, and that the real Shekau was killed several years ago.

It said the impostor was killed last month during a battle in the town of Konduga. A new video of the man appeared a few days later but the military had stood by its assertion that the Boko Haram leader is dead.

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