Category Archives: West Africa

Nigeria – Niger group claims Boko Haram link

Daily Trust

Wednesday, 23 April 2014 05:01Written by Musa Abdullahi Krishi & Ronald MutumHits: 8381

Major-General Chris Olukolade

. Military says aware of cross-border activity

 

An insurgency group operating in Niger Republic has claimed having links with Nigeria’s Boko Haram militants from whom it receives “huge” payments for joint operations.
The Niger insurgents told the BBC Hausa radio yesterday that they are based in parts of Diffa in the south-eastern part of that country, and that they routinely offer help to Boko Haram in its campaign of violence in Nigeria.
Boko Haram pays them “huge sums” in return, they said.
Nigerian authorities have said in the past that the Jama’atu Ahlis Sunnah Lid Da’awati Wal Jihad does receive support from foreign terror groups, but this is the first time any such organisation is publicly claiming working with the sect.
The Niger group, whose name was not given, comprises mostly youths of between the ages of 17 and 23, who wear singlets, jeans and chains round their necks, according to the report.
The young men are secondary school students, who conduct armed robberies especially during market days in Diffa, which is on the border with Nigeria. They showed the BBC correspondent some machetes, knives and other local weapons which they use in their robbery operations. But they said they do not use guns.
“What we do is to sit and drink tea, bear, drugs and marijuana before we go for operations and other insurgent activities,” one of them said.
“As a result of our activities, our parents and other people in our areas don’t like us. We have relationship with Boko Haram. Five of us went, but two of them lost their lives (in Nigeria) and three are alive.
“Even this one you’re seeing with us, it’s not up to a week that he returned. It’s all about money. The Boko Haram people have given us huge sums of money in the past, part of which we used in buying these chairs, clothes and other things you’re seeing here.”
Another young man said: “All the things we do are because we’re jobless; we’re doing this to get money.”
They also claimed that they are now giving Boko Haram members information about Diffa and its surroundings.
Governor of the state of Diffa, Mr. Yakubu Sumana Gawo, told the BBC that security personnel are working to ensure adequate security in the state, but that the government was not aware of the existence of any group of insurgents.
“We don’t know about these groups, since they have not launched any attack yet. We won’t allow any insurgent group to operate here. But we’re calling on the people to give us information about any terrorist group to help us and the country. God willing, security agents will go after such groups,” he said.
However, some citizens of Diffa who did not want to be named, confirmed the existence of insurgents.
When contacted yesterday, the Director of Defence Information, Major-General Chris Olukolade, told Daily Trust: “We know they have been going across the border and are involved in terrorist activities in Nigeria.”
He added that so many of them have been killed by security forces carrying out counter-insurgency operations in the North-East.
“This only goes to confirm what we have been saying about cross-border involvement,” Major-General Olukolade said.
In his reaction, Special Duties Minister Kabiru Tanimu Turaki, who is also the chairman of the presidential committee on dialogue with Boko Haram, told the BBC he was not aware of the Niger Republic group’s support for Nigerian insurgents.
“I don’t have that information, but I won’t be surprised if that is the case, because like I said, there are people whose major concern is to cause trouble so that they can fulfill their desires,” he said.
“Even if there are such groups, God will take control over them. Nigeria is a country that is above any terrorist or trouble maker. We are a country that believes in God, and we know He won’t forsake us,” he added.
On reported Boko Haram’s links with Somalia’s Al-Shabab group, Turaki said: “As a minister and head of the presidential committee on dialogue with the group, I am not aware of this. But as I know, some terrorist groups around the world are trying to cause trouble in different countries; I won’t be surprised if there is any joint effort among them.
“Again, I can’t think a newspaper will come out with such information without having any good reason. But I don’t have any information of any relationship between them (Boko Haram) and Al-Shabab.”
Speaking on Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shakau’s claims that the sect is now in Abuja, Turaki said the sect’s members are like any other human being who could reside in any part of the country without government knowledge.
“It’s not surprising, because what we’ve been telling people all the time is that the Boko Haram members are like every other person. The way they operate, they are different from other religious groups since you can’t just see someone with kaftan and say they’re the ones. They have different ways of dressing, so I won’t be surprised if they’re in Abuja just the way they’re in other places,” he said.
Turaki also said his committee’s dialogue with the Boko Haram sect has been fruitful, though he would not make public their demands as the dialogue is ongoing.
“Our dialogue with them is ongoing. We have discussed with some of their members, and even the committee before this one did same. But this committee has discussed with many of them, and so far so good, by God’s grace and with prayers from Nigerians, we shall overcome all these challenges,” Turaki said. Daily Trust

Nigeria – ex-militia members fighting oil theft in Niger Delta

CAJNews/allAfrica

Abuja — A former leader of Niger Delta militants, Felix Timilaemi, has launched a voluntary campaign against oil theft in Ekeremor Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.

According to him, 30 illegal refineries and 12 boats used by oil thieves in the area have been destroyed.

He disclosed this after conducting journalists round the destroyed refineries at Ekeremor.

The ex-militant commander of a camp known as Amabulu Federated Community (AFC) lamented that illegal oil bunkering in the area was causing environmental pollution, with its attendant health hazards.

He also confirmed that chiefs and the traditional rulers in the area are in support of his crusade to rid the area of the menace.

He explained that 240 youths, under his command, patrol the creeks and waterways daily in search of illegal refineries and boats used by oil thieves.

“When we get them, we set them ablaze. Pipeline vandalism in this area is becoming so serious that I had to take it upon myself to put an end to it”.

The ex-militant leader added that two points where vandals connected their hoses on a pipeline belonging to the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) had been clamped.

He said communities should take responsibility and initiate local measures to end economic sabotage within their domains, instead of blaming oil companies.

He added that with support from the government and Shell, his group would deny oil thieves access to oil installations.

“We are the indigenes from this community and we know our people. We know our boys. We know how we can tackle oil theft. The best thing we should do is to get the people involved in this campaign.”

Nigeria – more aid needed for those displaced in north-east by Boko Haram attacks

IRIN

KANO, 22 April 2014 (IRIN) – Security fears, a lack of humanitarian actors on the ground and a perception that Nigeria’s government can handle its crises without help, are leaving many of the thousands displaced by Boko Haram violence in the northeast short of food, with little to no access to health care or basics like clean water and blankets.

The Nigerian disaster authority is calling for international help to urgently boost the aid response.

“We can’t cater to needs of all [the affected] – resources are not adequate. We are trying our best to meet people’s needs but it’s not easy,” Manzo Ezekiel, spokesperson for the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), which is leading the disaster response, told IRIN. “We need the help of international NGOs. The government alone cannot do it.” NEMA and the State Emergency Management Agencies, (SEMA) are leading on the humanitarian response.

According to the most recent assessment by NEMA, violence displaced 249,446 people in Yobe, Borno and Adamawa states between January and March 2014. Half of the population of 12 million living in these three states are directly affected by the ongoing violence.
Extremist group, Boko Haram, has been waging a campaign of indiscriminate violence for the past few years. In its latest attack it abducted 100 schoolchildren from their school hostel in Chibok in Borno State.

Many of the displaced face “horrendous” sanitation conditions, according to NEMA, with 500 people sharing a single latrine; the already crumbling healthcare system is in a state of “entire collapse” – 37 percent of primary health centres are closed; while civilians who have experienced brutal violence have no human rights commission to address their concerns.

Most people NEMA interviewed said they had reduced their meals from three to one per day. NEMA has delivered food to 200,000 people but 50,000 had not yet received distributions as of its March assessment.

Why aid slow

Assistance has been slow to gear up for a variety of reasons. Firstly, internally displaced persons (IDPs) are hard to find, as just a fraction of them live in camps – the vast majority are staying with family or friends in state capitals, or southern states.

“IDPs fear they will be attacked in camps. They prefer moving to urban areas trying to blend with the host families. But the capacity of host families to absorb has been stretched,” said Choice Okoro, OCHA’s representative in Nigeria. “We have to provide assistance to a population that is not in camps and that is constantly moving,” she said. “The displaced populations from the three states under a state of emergency usually live with host families, and then the host families are attacked.”

NEMA has since appointed a location in flood-affected Gombe State to host IDPs, and is currently setting up coordination and camp management systems.

Boko Haram’s indiscriminate violence is also hampering aid access, and negotiating access has remained difficult for aid agencies who are attempting it.

“The problem in the northeast is a security problem – we have no idea what happens from one day to the next,” NEMA’s Ezekiel told IRIN.

Not many humanitarian agencies are present in northeastern Nigeria, mainly because of the insecurity, and also because the government is strong and has traditionally projected an image that it is capable of taking care of its own problems, despite consistently high malnutrition levels and a crumbling health infrastructure. Only a dozen or so aid agencies are present in the northeast and just a few of them are responding to the humanitarian situation, among them the Nigerian Red Cross, ICRC, International Rescue Committee, Action against Hunger, and the UN Population Fund. Most declined IRIN’s requests of an interview.

“Taken by surprise”

“This is a country that has actually harboured distressed populations from neighbouring countries [such as Niger]. and it has been [traditionally] considered one of the stable countries in this region,” said OCHA’s Okoro. “This is the first time that we’ve had this level of displacement linked to conflict and it’s taken the country as well as the international community by surprise,” she said.

Humanitarians want to do more but they are having difficulty finding humanitarian “entry points” she said. “We cannot operate in Nigeria like it’s a country of three million when it’s almost 200 million [people].”

Discussions of how to respond are gaining momentum, partly because “actors recognize that Nigeria, in terms of its regional role, cannot fall apart,” she said.

Thus far European Union aid body ECHO has allocated 7.5 million euros to help meet humanitarian needs in Nigeria, including those unrelated to Boko Haram violence; but the bulk of the IDP response has been funded by a government Presidential Flood Committee set up in 2012.

Next steps

NEMA, ECHO, OCHA, the International Organization for Migration, and others met on 15 April to discuss how to step up the response, including how to open better communication channels with the military to ensure places are safe to access.

The best way forward “in a context that is so fluid and so insecure”, will be to collaborate with national and community-based NGOs, said Okoro.

NEMA, OCHA and operating agencies are sharing information more openly now, and NEMA says it will try to facilitate access for agencies.

OCHA and the government are working on a joint humanitarian action plan which will be launched in May and will call for US$75 million to help the conflict-affected.  IRIN

Nigeria – schoolgirl abduction far bigger than first admitted

BBC

Chibok abductions in Nigeria: ‘More than 230 seized’

Nigerian forces on patrol in Borno state, April 2013 Heavy security in north-eastern Nigeria has not stopped the attack

Some 190 Nigerian schoolgirls remain missing after being abducted last week, their headmistress has told the BBC – far more than the official figure.

Asabe Kwambura said the parents of 230 girls had reported them missing but 40 had managed to escape.

Earlier, a local state governor said that about 77 of the teenagers had not been accounted for.

Islamist group Boko Haram is suspected to be behind the kidnapping but has not issued any statement.

Some 1,500 people are believed to have been killed in attacks blamed on Boko Haram this year alone.

Boko Haram at a glance

A screengrab taken from a video released on You Tube in April 2012, apparently showing Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau (centre) sitting flanked by militants

  • Thousands killed in attacks, mostly in north-eastern Nigeria
  • State of emergency declared in three states in 2013 but violence continues
  • Some three million people affected
  • Declared terrorist group by US in 2013
  • Founded in 2002
  • Initially focused on opposing Western education
  • Nicknamed Boko Haram, which means “Western education is forbidden” in the local Hausa language
  • Launched military operations in 2009 to create an Islamic state

The group, whose name means “Western education is forbidden”, is fighting to establish Islamic law in Nigeria. It often targets educational establishments.

According to the AP news agency, parents from the school in the town of Chibok told Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima when he visited on Monday that 234 girls had been abducted.

When news first emerged of the kidnap last Tuesday, initial reports said more than 200 students had been seized but state officials soon downgraded the numbers, saying the correct figure was about 130.

The students were about to sit their final year exam and so are aged 16-18.

Ms Kwambura told the BBC Hausa service that about 43 had fled their captors.

“None of these girls were rescued by the military, they managed to escape on their own from their abductors,” she said.

Asked about the conflicting reports on the number of students kidnapped, she said: “Only reports that come from us is the truth and based on the register we have on paper.”

She has previously called on the kidnappers to “have mercy on the students”.

Before visiting Chibok on Monday, the Borno state governor said that eight more girls had escaped over the weekend, meaning a total 52 had fled.

Mr Shettima did not give details of how the girls had escaped, for security reasons.

The confusion over the numbers comes after the military last week said that all but eight of the students had been rescued before withdrawing its claim a day later.

It is thought that the militants took the girls to the Sambisa forest near the Cameroonian border.

Parents and vigilante group have gone there to help search for the teenage girls.

Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states in north-east Nigeria have been under emergency rule since last May.

A map showing Borno state and the town of Chibok in Nigeria

Africa’s Currency Crunch

unusual indicators

Africa’s Currency Crunch


Sudan1How will the emerging market downturn play out in Africa? The region’s asset markets have been fairly robust – so far. Instead the pressure is being felt in African currencies. In fact, sub-Saharan Africa has the makings of a currency crisis.

From African Banker

There are some pretty strange things happening to Africa’s currencies.

Take a look at Zimbabwe. In January this year the Zimbabwean monetary authorities announced that with immediate effect an extra four foreign currencies would all be legal tender in Zimbabwe. That meant you could buy your bread with Indian rupees, your fish with Japanese yen, your noodles with Chinese yuan and your beer with Australian dollars.

Those four new legal currencies join the other five foreign currencies that are already legal in Zimbabwe – the Botswana pula, the UK pound, the euro, the rand and the US dollar. So you now have a choice of nine currencies in Zimbabwe – and not one of them is the ‘national’ currency, the Zimbabwe dollar, which was abandoned after collapsing amid hyper-inflation in 2009. In fact most people in Zimbabwe use either the US dollar or the South African rand, and have been doing so for a long time: the fact that the country does not have its own currency and therefore cannot use most of the usual levers of monetary policy no longer seems unusual.

In neighbouring Zambia it has been a very different story – on the face of it at least. Back in 2012 a new ruling suddenly banned the use of the US dollar for domestic transactions – with a penalty of ten years in jail for doing so. Then in May last year the authorities added another restrictive rule designed to defend the kwacha – this time a regulation that forced all businesses to remit foreign currency profits back home into local currency. It was highly unpopular, and many thought the only real beneficiaries were local banks, who made a tidy profit changing kwacha into foreign currency and then back again.

No ... Yes ... Maybe

Hate the dollar … love the dollar … it may all sound a bit contradictory, but in fact it is not. Zimbabwe and Zambia have both seen their currencies under pressure. Zimbabwe’s response was to abandon the domestic currency altogether. Zambia’s was to tough it out, and then give up just the same – because in March this year the Zambian authorities suddenly reversed policy and dropped all foreign exchange regulations. As many countries in the region are finding out, you can’t beat the currency markets.

But why is it all happening? When Zambia introduced its currency ban the kwacha was at an all time high. In 2012 and for most of 2013 other important African currencies like the Nigerian naira, the Ghanaian cedi and the Kenyan shilling were also strong. For a long period the South African rand seemed to be the only African currency that was depreciating in the face of tougher global economic conditions.

Now that is changing. The downturn in sentiment towards Africa that many forecast for last year is actually happening this year – and the effect is being seen in currencies. The Zambian kwacha has been one of the worst performing African currencies in 2014, depreciating 13% against the dollar by the end of March. The Ghanaian cedi has also been in steep decline against the US dollar, with the second worst depreciation of any African currency over the last 12 months (only the New Sudanese pound was worse).

$ cedi

These are the two of the three big losers so far this year – although there may be others to follow. The other has been the South African rand which has been on a declining track since the beginning of 2012, having fallen from less than seven rand to the US dollar to over 11 at the beginning of this year. The rand has stabilised and even made a little ground during 2014, although whether it has touched bottom or will resume its depreciation is very much an open question.

There is no one answer to the question of why African currencies are coming unstuck. Many things contribute to currency movements, including interest rates, government finances, and wider confidence levels. One big part of the story is the slowdown in other, larger emerging markets, especially China, a slowdown which is having a knock-on effect in Africa’s increasingly China-dependent economies. Global monetary policy is also part of the story – most investors now think that the US Federal Reserve and the Bank of England will soon cut the amount of liquidity they pump into their economies, and that in turn cuts the amount of money that flows out and into emerging markets. But domestic issues are probably the most important of all. Africa’s debt and government deficits are starting to worry investors, who have suddenly grasped that the Africa good news story may have got a little ahead of itself.

Rand-$ Last 12 Months

The economic slowdown in China, India, and other commodity-consuming countries is itself contributing to the fall in commodity prices. This has been particularly hard on Africa: the price of copper, which accounts for over 80% of Zambia’s export earnings, has fallen by a third since 2011. That means less tax income for Zambia’s government, less profit and investment for Zambian industry, and less demand for Zambian currency.

But can the fall in commodity prices account for the widespread pressure on currencies? Hardly: some commodities have staged something of a recovery this year, but that has not been accompanied by a revival in currencies. The price of cocoa, for example, has been rising moderately for twelve months. The price of aluminium is slightly higher than it was a year ago. Both of these are important exports for Ghana – but the rises have done nothing to support the Ghanaian cedi.

It seems that something more fundamental is at work. The one thing that most of the weak-currency economies have in common is that they are running government spending deficits – that is, their governments are spending more than they receive in tax – and they are also running current account deficits, which means they are importing more than they are exporting. The current account deficit in particular is getting worse right across the region. Ten years ago the average deficit of sub-Saharan Africa was less than 2% of GDP. Now it is over 4%, and in some countries it is much worse – Ghana’s current account deficit is over 13%. Fiscal deficits – the amount the government has to borrow to pay for domestic spending – are also getting worse. Ghana’s fiscal deficit is now over 10%, which is double the amount that investors would consider normal.

Kwacha-$ Last 12 Months

These deficits have not appeared overnight – what has changed is the investor attitude towards them. Deficits of 10% plus might be sustainable in a period where global interest rates were very low (meaning that the cost of financing these deficits was also low) and expected to stay that way, and where regional growth rates were very high (meaning that it looked as if Africa could always grow its way out of trouble). But both of those things have changed. Interest rates are already high in emerging markets and set to rise in the US and in Europe, while African growth rates are falling. Average GDP growth sub-Saharan Africa is set to fall to around 5.5% this year, according to the IMF, down from an average of over 7% in the last decade.

So what next for Africa’s fragile currencies? The countries under the most pressure are already having to pay much higher long-term interest rates on their borrowing – Ghana’s ten year bond is currently paying just under 10% – and ‘policy rates’ (the domestic borrowing rate set by the central bank) are very high at 18%. For countries with floating exchange rates, governments may also return to capital control measures designed to lock capital in the country – the kind of policy that Zambia attempted, and that Angola, Mozambique and Ghana are all still following.

Also possible is that countries will try to peg their currencies against an external benchmark, the kind of policy that was familiar up until the early 1990s. The problem with a pegged currency is that a dual currency system emerges, with the market exchange rate being much lower than the official rate. The main beneficiaries of the dual exchange rate are traders with political connections, able to buy at market rates and then sell at the official rate.

What is fairly certain is that as currencies depreciate, domestic inflation will grow. African inflation is usually generated by import prices, which increase as the currency depreciates. South Africa is the sub-Saharan economy that is arguably the least vulnerable to imported inflation, thanks to its diversified domestic economy, but already South Africa has inflation running at around 6%, which is the upper limit of the central bank’s inflation target. Ghana has inflation running at over 13% – currently one of the world’s highest rates.

rand2

Also likely is that the performance of international corporations will suffer. Companies that report profit and loss in strong currencies but receive revenue in depreciating local currencies will find that sub-Saharan Africa is an increasingly difficult place to do profitable business. For example, the mobile telephone operator Zain whose African operations are now concentrated in Sudan and South Sudan earlier this year had to announce a dramatic fall in profits, due to the falling value of the Sudanese pound (which was devalued by 30% in November last year). Zain saw almost $150 million wiped from its profits when it released its accounts early this year – and that was a repeat of the performance the previous year, when the Sudanese currency fell 51% against the US dollar in continuing conflict following the independence of South Sudan.

However, not all regional currenciesrand1 performed badly. The three most important African markets for most companies and most investors are South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria. And while the South African rand has been one of the continent’s currency losers for the last two years, the Nigerian naira and the Kenyan shilling have been much more robust. Although the Kenyan shilling did come under pressure briefly in 2011, it has been stable since. The naira has depreciated slightly in recent months, but in the main it has been stable since 2009.

Will this stability continue? For both countries, the most important factors will be the state of public finances, and confidence in the monetary authorities. And on both counts, it is Nigeria that is looking vulnerable.

As widely reported, Nigeria recently restated the size of its GDP in a statistical exercise endorsed by the IMF. Like many other African countries Nigeria’s GDP has proved to be seriously underestimated – the recent restatement has doubled GDP making Nigeria the biggest economy in Africa. But this restatement may have some unexpected side-effects with an impact on the currency.

Nigeria’s new enlarged GDP may have made the country look richer – but it has also revealed some weaknesses in the economy. The first is that the amount of tax Nigeria is managing to collect is very low for such a large economy. Because the amount of tax collected does not change when the GDP figures are restated, total tax revenues as a proportion of GDP have now halved to 12% – very low for any country, and exceptionally low for an economy where the government needs to spend heavily on infrastructural development, education, and government services. And most of that tax comes from oil and gas, even though in the new GDP accounts oil and gas now account for less than 15% of the economy. Suddenly the ability of Nigeria to finance itself through tax looks less convincing. Nigeria will have to borrow more, and that is exactly the kind of negative change that drives a depreciating currency.

Perhaps more significant is the way that Nigeria’s trade surplus suddenly looks less impressive. Before the restatement of GDP the country had a healthy surplus of 3.2%. Now the surplus is only 1.8% (and it is falling). The day when Nigeria starts to record a trade deficit is not far off. Again, already investors will be calculating that Nigeria is going to need more external financing, and sooner than expected.

EA1

This would not matter so much if investors abroad and at home had full confidence in the Nigeria’s monetary authorities. However, what confidence there was has been severely dented by the unexpected suspension of the central bank governor Lamido Sanussi, after the governor alleged large-scale corruption in the state oil company the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation.

None of this changes the fact that despite some modest depreciation, the Nigerian currency has been fairly stable for at least five years. But in the world of currency trading perceptions can change suddenly. Rising world interest rates, a sudden change for the worse in Nigeria’s national accounts, and a central bank adrift – it could be a perfect storm Nigeria and its currency. And the authorities in Kenya – which itself is about to restate its national accounts – will certainly be watching closely to see whether these pressures start to undermine the naira.

When currencies fall corporate profits fall with them, investors take fright and whole economies start to lose their momentum. This year has seen that begin to happen to several economies that previously looked robust. And the slide may not be over.

rand3

 unusual indicators

Nigeria – Borno local officials deny army report on release of schoolgirls

Reuters

Nigeria local authorities say most of abducted schoolgirls still missing

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria Thu Apr 17, 2014  (Reuters) – Authorities in Nigeria’s northeast Borno state denied on Thursday a statement by the armed forces which had said most of the more than 100 schoolgirls abducted by Islamist rebels had been freed in a military rescue operation.

“As I am talking to you now, only 14 of the students have returned,” an aide to Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima told Reuters, asking not to be named.

The assertion directly contradicted a statement issued late on Wednesday by national armed forces spokesman Major General Chris Olukolade in which he said only eight of the students were still missing after the military operation.

The Borno governor’s aide said the 14 girls found safe so far “escaped” and were not rescued.

An uncle of two of the teenagers who were snatched on Monday by Islamist Boko Haram militants from the government secondary school at Chibok in Borno state said the search was still going on.

“Two of my nieces, Laraba and Hauwa, are still missing, … twenty other girls from our village are missing,” Isaiah Rabo told Reuters by phone from Chibok. His daughter was among those who escaped from the abductors.

There was no immediate explanation for the contradictory versions regarding the mass abduction of the schoolgirls aged between 15 and 18, which has shocked Nigeria.

Monday’s raid on the Chibok school showed how the five-year-old Boko Haram insurgency has brought lawlessness to swathes of the arid, poor northeast, killing hundreds of people in recent months.

It occurred the same day a bomb blast, also blamed on Boko Haram, killed 75 people on the edge of the capital Abuja, stirring fears of violence spreading from the north of Africa’s No. 1 oil producer and most populous nation.

President Goodluck Jonathan was meeting his National Security Council on Thursday to review the security situation.

 

igeria – parents and army give different accounts over kidnapped schoolgirls

Can you believe anything that comes out of the Nigerian military about the fight against Boko Haram. Have the girls been freed or not – if they have, where are they? KS

 

BBC

Nigeria abductions: Parents say girls still missing

The school is located not far from where the Islamist militant group Boko Haram has been carrying out attacks, as the BBC’s Will Ross reports

Mystery surrounds the fate of more than 100 teenage girls who were abducted from a school in the remote north-east of Nigeria.

The military says all but eight of the 129 girls have escaped, but parents of the girls say many are still missing.

It is thought Islamist militant group Boko Haram took the girls to forested areas near the Cameroonian border.

The group is waging a bloody campaign for an Islamic state in northern Nigeria.

Boko Haram at a glance

  • Founded in 2002
  • Official Arabic name, Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad, means “People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad”
  • Initially focused on opposing Western education
  • Nicknamed Boko Haram, a phrase in the local Hausa language meaning “Western education is forbidden”
  • Launched military operations in 2009 to create an Islamic state across Nigeria
  • Founding leader Mohammed Yusuf killed in same year in police custody
  • Succeeded by Abubakar Shekau, who the military wrongly claimed in 2013 had been killed

Also on Wednesday, 18 people were killed in an attack in the Gwoza district of north-eastern Nigeria, local officials told the AP news agency.

Soldiers ‘overpowered’

The BBC’s correspondent in Lagos, Will Ross, says the Nigerian military’s statement that most of the girls had escaped their captors contrasts sharply with other information available to the BBC, including the claims of parents of pupils at the school. They insist “many” of their children are still missing.

The raid on the boarding school is a great source of embarrassment for the Nigerian authorities who say their military campaign against the militants is succeeding, he adds.

Hours before the military issued its statement, the governor of Borno state Kashim Shettima said the vast majority of the girls were still missing and offered a reward of 50m naira ($308,000; £184,000) for information.

A map showing Borno state and the town of Chibok in Nigeria

The air force, army, police, local defence units and volunteers have all been involved in the search for the schoolgirls.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the “shocking” mass abduction and called for the girls’ immediate release.

“The targeting of schools and schoolchildren is a grave violation of international humanitarian law,” he said in a statement.

“Schools are, and must remain, safe places where children can learn and grow in peace.”

The BBC’s Hausa Service says Boko Haram has kidnapped civilians in the past – usually women to work as sex slaves.

Gunmen reportedly arrived at the school in Chibok, a remote area of Borno state, late on Tuesday, and ordered its teenage residents on to lorries.

A local politician said about 50 soldiers had been stationed near the school ahead of annual exams, but were apparently overpowered.

Local residents reported hearing explosions followed by gunfire.

“Many girls were abducted by the rampaging gunmen who stormed the school in a convoy of vehicles,” local education official Emmanuel Sam told the AFP news agency.

A screen grab taken from a video released on You Tube in April 2012, apparently showing Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau (centre) sitting flanked by militants The attackers are thought to be from the Islamist group, Boko Haram
Vehicles burn after an attack in Abuja on 14 April 2014 After Abuja was hit by a bomb attack, fears are growing that the organisation may be widening its campaign

A girl who managed to escape and did not want to be named told the BBC that she and fellow students were sleeping when armed men burst into their hostel.

The girl said she and her schoolmates were taken away in a convoy, which had to slow down after some of the vehicles developed a fault, at which point 10 to 15 girls escaped.

“We ran into the bush and waited until daybreak before we went back home,” she said.

Nigerian media reported that two members of the security forces had been killed, and residents said 170 houses were burnt down during the attack.

The militants know the terrain well and the military has had only limited success in previous efforts to dislodge them from their forest hide-outs.

Militants from Boko Haram – which means “Western education is forbidden” in the local Hausa language – frequently target educational institutions.

This year, the group’s fighters have killed more than 1,500 civilians in three states in north-east Nigeria, which are currently under emergency rule.

The government recently said that Boko Haram’s activities were confined to that part of the country. However, bombings blamed on the group killed more than 70 people in the capital city of Abuja on Monday.

Are you in the area? If you have any information you wish to share with BBC News you can do by emailing us at haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk using the subject line: “Nigeria”.

Nigerian military says it frees 107 kidnapped female students, 8 still missing

Premium Times

 

“With this development, the Principal of the School confirmed that only 8 of the students are still missing.”

The Nigerian military has confirmed that it has freed majority of the 129 female students of the Government Girls’ Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State.

The students were kidnapped on Monday night by suspected Boko Haram members.

In a statement on Wednesday evening, the spokesperson of the Defence Headquarters, DHQ, Chris Olukolade, confirmed that only 8 of the girls were still held captive by the insurgents.

Of the 129 kidnapped students, the Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, earlier in the day confirmed that 14 of the girls escaped from their abductors.

“More students of the Government Girls’ Secondary School, Chibok have been freed this evening in the on-going search and rescue operations to free the abducted students,” Mr. Olukolade, a Major General, said. “With this development, the Principal of the School confirmed that only 8 of the students are still missing. One of the terrorists who carried out the attack on the school has also been captured.”

“Efforts are underway to locate the remaining 8 students.”

With 14 of the girls escaping on their own, and 8 still unaccounted for, it implies the military freed 107 of the kidnapped female students.  Premium Times

Nigeria: 24 hours after Abuja blast gunmen abduct 100 schoolgirls in Borno

Vanguard/allAfrica

Photo: Angela Stuesse

classroom

Less then 24 hours after the Boko Haram terrorists bombed the Nyanya bus terminus in Abuja, killing more than 100 innocent Nigerians, some unidentified gunmen suspected to be members of the terrorist organisation again abducted more than 100 female students from a Government Girls Secondary School, GGSS, in Borno State.

The students were abducted in the school located at Chibok Local Government Area of Borno State, after killing a security personnel suspected to be a soldier.

The Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, DSP Gideon Jubrin confirmed the attack in Chibok, but said, he was yet to get details on the number of casualties.

The incident occurred at the council headquarters where the students were preparing to write the Senior Secondary School Certificate Examinations, SSCE now going on across the country.

Vanguard sources said that the gunmen numbering over 100 using motorcycles and Toyota Hilux vans stormed the council’s headquarters at about 9pm, and operated till 3am, yesterday.

“Apart from the abduction of the female students, the gunmen also carted away foodstuff, before setting many residential buildings and shops ablaze,” the sources added.

A resident of Chibok who escaped the attack, Mr. Nuhu Amos told Vanguard in a telephone interview that, ” the gunmen armed with AK47 rifles, Improvised Explosive Devices, IED’s, and petrol bombs stormed Chibok on Monday evening and attacked one of the security posts and shot one security personnel, before abducting more than 100 female students, as well as setting some houses and shops ablaze within the vicinity.

“Although, the attackers did not kill any resident, they only shot one security operative, before carting away foodstuff and escaping into the Sambisa Forest.

“I also learnt that out of about 250 female students writing their SSCE, some were able to escape into the bush, while more than 100 were abducted by the attackers using a 911 truck/lorry that was abandoned by its driver who was heading to Maiduguri, the state capital.

“Prior to this incident, gunmen had attempted to attack Chibok on three occasions without success, but this time around, they were able to accomplish their mission, as they were in Chibok from 9pm till about 3am on Tuesday.”

Another resident who spoke on the condition of anonymity also said: “Seven of my children including those of my elder brother and sister who are writing the SSCE in the affected school are still missing, and I don’t know whether they were abducted or among those who escaped into the bush.”

However, the PPRO who spoke on the issue said: “Yes, there was an attack in Chibok, yesterday evening by suspected members of Boko Haram terrorists, but we are yet to get details. As soon as details of the attack reach my table, I will get back to you.” allAfrica

Nigeria – 100 schoolgirls abducted by gunmen in Borno

BBC
15 April 2014
Nigeria unrest: Gunmen abduct ‘about 100 schoolgirls’

The school is located not far from where the Islamist militant group Boko Haram have been carrying out attacks, as the BBC’s Will Ross reports

Around 100 girls are thought to have been abducted in an attack on a school in north-east Nigeria, officials say.

Gunmen reportedly arrived at the school in Chibok, Borno state, late last night, and ordered the hostel’s teenage residents on to lorries.

The attackers are believed to be from the Islamist group, Boko Haram, whose militants frequently target schools.

On Monday, bombings blamed on the group killed more than 70 people in the capital, Abuja.

Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is forbidden” in the local Hausa language, has been waging an armed campaign for an Islamic state in northern Nigeria.

‘Soldiers overpowered
A government official in Borno state told the BBC around 100 girls were thought to have been abducted from the school.

The exact number of missing students had yet to be established, as some of the girls had managed to return to their homes.

Parents had earlier told the BBC that more than 200 students had been taken from the school.

Residents in the area reported hearing explosions followed by gunfire last night, said BBC reporter Mohammed Kabir Mohammed in the capital, Abuja.

Boko Haram at a glance

Founded in 2002
Official Arabic name, Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad, means “People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad”
Initially focused on opposing Western education
Nicknamed Boko Haram, a phrase in the local Hausa language meaning, “Western education is forbidden”
Launched military operations in 2009 to create an Islamic state across Nigeria
Founding leader Mohammed Yusuf killed in same year in police custody
Succeeded by Abubakar Shekau, who the military wrongly claimed in 2013 had been killed

Nigerian students living in fear
What is Nigeria’s Boko Haram?

“Many girls were abducted by the rampaging gunmen who stormed the school in a convoy of vehicles,” AFP news agency quotes Emmanuel Sam, an education official in Chibok, as saying.

Another witness, who requested anonymity, told AFP that gunmen overpowered soldiers who had been deployed to provide extra security ahead of annual exams.

A girl, who managed to escape and wished not to be named, told the BBC she and fellow students were sleeping when armed men burst into their hostel.

“Three men came into our room and told us not to panic. We later found out later that they were among the attackers,” she said.

The girls said she and her schoolmates were taken away in a convoy, which had to slow down after some of the vehicles developed a fault.

The attackers are thought to be from the Islamist group, Boko Haram
Around 10 to 15 girls seized the opportunity to escape.

“We ran into the bush and waited until daybreak before we went back home,” she said.

Nigerian media reported that two members of the security forces had been killed, and residents said 170 houses were burnt down during the attack.

Boko Haram emerged as a critic of Western-style education, and its militants frequently target schools and educational institutions.

This year, the group’s fighters have killed more than 1,500 civilians in three states in north-east Nigeria, which are currently under emergency rule.

The government recently said that Boko Haram’s activities were confined to that part of the country.

However, Monday’s bombings in Abuja prompted renewed fears that the militants were extending their campaign to the capital.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-27037181