Category Archives: West Africa

Nigeria – 100 days on and Chibok girls not free

African Arguments By Debbie Ariyo

DebbieAriyoToday, 22 July, marks 100 days since the abduction of almost 300 girls by terrorists from their school dormitory in Chibok, North East Nigeria. Since then, some of the girls managed to escape from their abductors. However, most of them remain in captivity with reports of mass rape, sexual abuse, sex slavery and even death.

There has also been news of other abductions, including 90 girls who were taken in a series of attacks in June.  The current situation on ground does not offer much hope that a successful effort by the government to rescue all the girls abducted by Boko Haram and to prevent further abductions will occur in the forthcoming 100 days.

That the Nigerian government has handled the Chibok issue abysmally is not in doubt.  Its initial reaction to reports of the abductions was complete denial. This was followed by claims that the girls had been found and returned to their families. This was a complete untruth as nothing of the sort had happened.

The President’s wife provided her own drama when she held a ‘public meeting’ to demonstrate that no girls were abducted and that news of the ‘false’ abduction was to discredit her husband. The President has also shown a total lack of empathy by refusing to meet with parents of the abducted girls to commiserate with them.

A ridiculous attempt to capitalise on Girls Advocate Malala Yousafzai’s recent visit to get the parents to see him failed spectacularly when they refused to honour the invitation. The government has also maintained that it would not negotiate with terrorists; neither would it undertake a military attempt to rescue the girls as it did not want to risk their lives. It is not really clear then what, if anything, the government is doing to secure the girls’ release.

In addition, there has been widespread criticism of the government’s poor handling of the Boko Haram insurgency. Hundreds of thousands of refugees in neighbouring countries fleeing from terrorists remain uncared for. Schools remain closed and it is not clear how the Safer Schools Initiative established by Gordon Brown, former British Prime Minister and UN Special Envoy, would operate in the midst of such widespread chaos and insecurity.

There has been no strategy to safeguard communities as the terrorists continue to operate virtually unhindered, attacking villages on a daily basis, killing people and abducting more women and girls. As an ominous sign of what is to come, last week, Damboa, a town in Borno State was attacked with the terrorists hoisting their flag in the military battalion headquarters to claim it as their territory.

The military itself has been comatose and inefficient, with reports of a large number of casualties among troops.  In May, some soldiers mutinied to complain about the lack of provision of adequate and suitable arms and ammunition to fight with. There have been reports of rogue military men colluding with terrorists to organise raids on communities, military barracks and other places. The terrorists are reported to be better resourced and to have access to better ammunition than the Nigerian military.

In June, Nigerians woke up to the news that their government had spent over $1m to recruit public relations company Levick to help launder its image in the West. Its first task backfired spectacularly – an article it placed in the Washington Post attracted a damning editorial in the New York Times as a response. Nigerians also took to twitter using the hashtag #SomeoneTellLevick to demonstrate the futility of their government’s action.

Yet there are a number of decisive steps the Nigerian government can take to redeem its image and ensure the girls are freed as soon as possible. It must urgently decide if it wishes to negotiate for their release in exchange for prisoners or failing that, attempt a rescue mission, knowing full well that there will be consequences but taking every possible step to ensure there are no casualties among the girls.

It is foolhardy to leave the girls in the hands of terrorists indefinitely hoping and praying that a miracle would happen! The recruitment of a PR company is unnecessary and a waste of public funds. The government does not need to pay to whitewash its image – it only needs to start acting in the best interests of its citizens.

Stronger efforts should be made to protect people from Boko Haram and to take care of victims. The launch of a Victim Support Fund is laudable, but government must ensure the funds actually reach the victims. The government must also start to co-operate with its neighbours to provide care and support for its citizens who have escaped from terrorists and who are now living as refugees.

Most importantly, the Nigerian government must stop dilly-dallying about the rogue military officers in its wing. These are traitors whose activities are inimical to the security of the country and must be treated as such.

100 days later, over 200 Nigerian girls remain as captives in the hands of terrorists. The response of the Nigeria government so far does not inspire any hope that they will be free anytime soon. If the government does not change direction and start to act decisively, the next 100 days might see the girls and many others still being held as slaves by Boko Haram. This would indeed be a terrible indictment of the government of Nigeria.

Debbie Ariyo is Founder and Executive Director of AFRUCA – Africans Unite Against Child Abuse, a UK charity promoting the rights and welfare of children.

Nigeria – Jonathan finally meets abducted girls’ parents


Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan visiting the site of Nyanya bomb in Abuja in April President Goodluck Jonathan has been criticised for not meeting parents earlier

Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan has met for the first time parents of the girls abducted 100 days ago by militant Islamist group Boko Haram.

He assured the parents of his determination to secure the girls’ release, his spokesman said.

More than 150 people attended the meeting after the government chartered a plane for them, reports say.

Mr Jonathan has been under pressure to meet the parents after being accused of handing the crisis badly.

Parents pulled out of a meeting with him last week amid accusations they were being used for political reasons.

The parents of 11 of the girls have died since their abduction, the Associated Press news agency reports.

Some of the Chibok schoolgirls who escaped Islamist captors alight from a bus to attend a meeting with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan at the presidency in Abuja on 22 July 2014 Some of the girls managed to escape after being abducted from their school
People participate in a "Bring Back Our Girls" campaign demonstration and candlelight vigil, held on Mother's Day in Los Angeles on 11 May 2014 A global campaign was launched to secure the release of the girls

The abduction of the more than 200 schoolgirls sparked global outrage.

Boko Haram has offered to free the girls in exchange for the release of its fighters and relatives held by the security forces.

The government has rejected this.

Malala’s intervention

The US, UK, France, China and Israel have been helping in operations to secure the release of the girls, who are believed to be held in the Sambisa forest, near Nigeria’s border with Cameroon.

The girls were abducted from their boarding school in the north-eastern town of Chibok in Borno state on 14 April.

A total of 177 people – including 51 of the girls who managed to escape Boko Haram’s captivity – met Mr Jonathan, reports the BBC’s Chris Ewokor from the capital, Abuja.

The parents left the meeting without showing emotion but some shook hands with the president, AP reports.

Some of the escaped schoolgirls smiled for photographers after the meeting, it reports.

Ayuba Chibok, who has two nieces among the hostages, told AFP news agency that the government chartered a plane from Yola city in the north-east to fly the group to Abuja.

Mr Jonathan was flanked at the meeting by Senate President David Mark and Kashim Shettima, the governor of Borno state, where Chibok is situated.


Who are Boko Haram?

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
  • 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

Last week, Mr Jonathan agreed to meet 12 parents and five girls who escaped shortly after being seized by the militants, following a request by Pakistani rights campaigner Malala Yousafzai.

The Chibok community called off the meeting at the last minute, saying it had been organised in a hurry, so there was not time to consult with all the parents.

Mr Jonathan accused the #BringBackOurGirls campaign group of playing politics and derailing the meeting.

#BringBackOurGirls was a global campaign launched on social media to secure the release of the girls.

Obiageli Ezekwesili, a former government minister and staunch critic of Mr Jonathan, is a leading member of the group.

Seven parents were killed during a raid by Boko Haram on Kautakari, a village close to Chibok, earlier this month, AP quotes a health worker as saying.

Another four parents have died of heart failure, high blood pressure and other illnesses blamed on the trauma caused by the abductions, Chibok community leader Pogu Bitrus told AP.


Nigeria – Buhari says Jonathan has declared war on Nigeria


Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.)

A former Head of State, Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari(retd.), on Tuesday accused President Goodluck Jonathan of waging a war against Nigeria by using the   “common wealth to subvert the system.”

Buhari made the accusation in a statement he personally signed and made available to journalists in Kaduna.

The statement titled,   “Pull back Nigeria from the brink,” is his first formal reaction to the   removal of Murtala Nyako as Adamawa State governor and the threat of impeachment against Governor Umaru Al-Makura of Nasarawa State.

Nyako was one of the five Peoples Democratic Party governors who in November last year defected to the opposition All Progressives Congress.

Al-Makura is an APC governor in a state whose House of Assembly is dominated by PDP members.

The Presidency had since denied   Jonathan’s involvement in the development.

But Buhari, who is one of the leaders of the APC, said in the statement that whether or not Jonathan was aware of the development, what mattered most was that it was happening under his administration.

He   warned that the development which was aimed at turning the country “into a one-party state’’ did not augur well for democracy.

The former military ruler lamented   that the recourse to impeachment as a punitive measure against “out-of-favour” governors was an indication that Nigeria was gradually drifting into anarchy.

He disclosed in the statement   that he   had in his private capacity discussed the current situation with the President but regretted that nothing had been done   to check it.

Buhari explained that he   did so   because,   as   a former Nigerian leader, history would never be kind to him if he sat   back and watched   it to continue.

Describing himself as   “ a close participant and witness to Nigeria’s political history since independence in 1960,” he said, ‘‘Our country has gone through several rough patches, but never before have I seen a Nigerian President declare war on his own country as we are seeing now.

“Never before have I seen a Nigerian President deploy federal institutions in the service of partisanship as we are witnessing now. Never before have I seen a Nigerian President utilise the common wealth to subvert the system and punish the opposition, all in the name of politics.

“Our nation had suffered serious consequences in the past for egregious acts that are not even close to what we are seeing now. It is time to pull the brakes.’’

He alleged that the impeachment or threats of impeachment of ‘‘out-of-favour’’   governors     was   to decapitate the opposition.

The general also   said that impeachment or threats of impeachment had become an unwelcome distraction to the   war against   Boko Haram which has put the country on tenterhooks, “with innocent citizens being daily mowed down at the times and places of the group’s chosen and over 200 schoolgirls spending more than three months in precarious captivity.”

The statement read in part, ‘‘Whether or not President Goodluck Jonathan is behind the gale of impeachment or the utilisation of desperate tactics to suffocate the opposition and turn Nigeria into a one-party state, what cannot be denied is that they are happening under his watch, and he cannot pretend not to know, since that will be akin to hiding behind one finger.

‘‘In my capacity as a former Head of State, rather than a politician, I have spoken to President Jonathan in private over these issues, but indications are that the strategy has not yielded positive fruits.

“I cannot, just because I am an opposition politician, fail to do what is expected of me as a former Head of State to help rescue our nation in times of great trouble and palpable uncertainty. History will not be kind to me if I sit back while things turn bad, just so that no one will accuse me of partisanship.

“Yes, I am a politician. Yes, I am in the opposition. Yes, there is the tendency for my statement to be misconstrued as that of a politician rather than a statesman. But I owe it as a matter of duty and honour, and in the interest of our nation, to speak out on the dangerous trajectory that our nation is heading.

‘‘I can say, in all sincerity, that I have seen it all, as an ordinary citizen, a military officer, a state governor, a minister, a Head of State, a man who has occupied many other sensitive posts and a politician.”

He asked the President to tarry awhile and ponder the impact of recent events in the polity   and the sustenance of its democracy.

Buhari said subverting the constitution through desperate moves or deploying the institutions of state against ‘‘an out-of-favour’’ state governor   could only breed anarchy.

He warned, ‘‘The dangerous clouds are beginning to gather and the vultures are circling, and these have manifested in Nasarawa State where the ordinary people have defied guns and tanks to protest the plan to impeach Gov.   Al-Makura in a repeat of the bitter medicine forced down the throat of   Nyako.

‘‘The people’s protest in Nasarawa State is a sign of what to come if the federal authorities continue to target opposition state governors for impeachment. In the long run, the impeachment weapon will be blunted. Positions will become more hardened on both sides and Nigeria and Nigerians will become the victims of arrested governance and possible anarchy.”

He reminded Jonathan to also remember that no democracy could thrive or survive without a virile opposition.

Buhari added that a man in power must realise that he cannot always do things just because he could do them.

The former Head of state said, ‘‘I, along with many other patriotic Nigerians, fought for the unity and survival of this country. Hundreds of patriotic souls perished in the battle to keep Nigeria one. The blood of many of our compatriots helped to ensure the birth of the democracy we are practising today.

‘‘Let no one, whether the leader or the led, the high or the low, a member of the ruling or the opposition do anything to torpedo the system. Let no one, whether on the altar of personal ambition or pretension to higher patriotic tendencies, do anything that can detonate the keg of gunpowder on which the nation is sitting.

“It is time for all concerned to spare a thought for the ordinary citizens who have yet to see their hopes, dreams and aspirations come to reality, within the general context of nationhood.”

Jonathan however described the allegations by Buhari as unwarranted and totally uncharitable.

In a statement by his spokesman, Reuben Abati, the President said Buhari had sadly moved away from the patriotic and statesmanlike position he recently adopted on national security   to “unbridled political partisanship.”

Jonathan said there could be no other explanation or justification for the “completely unwarranted and very uncharitable assault” on his conduct and integrity which Buhari’s statement represented.

He said it was unfortunate that instead of working to put their house in order and resolve the leadership crises and internal contradictions in the APC, the former Head of State and his allies had resorted to blaming the President for their woes.

While describing the fate that had befallen the APC as self-inflicted, Jonathan said he had never in his acts or utterances, recommended or promoted violence as a tool of political negotiation.

The statement read in part, “Gen. Buhari talks about anarchy. He needs to be reminded that President Jonathan from his humble beginnings as a Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State to date, has never in his acts, or utterances, recommended or promoted violence as a tool of political negotiation.

“The Constitution does not give the President any power to intervene in such proceedings and President Jonathan has never arrogated such powers to himself or sought to exert any nefarious and unconstitutional influence on state assemblies in Adamawa, Nasarawa or anywhere else in other to secure undue political advantage for his party as Gen. Buhari unjustifiably alleges.

“President Jonathan remains true to his declaration that no political ambition of his is worth the life of a single Nigerian. The President has definitely not declared war on his own country or deployed federal institutions in the service of partisan interests as Gen. Buhari falsely claims. Neither has he been using the common wealth to subvert the system and punish the opposition, as the former Head of State inexcusably asserts.

“Also, President Jonathan has never at any time ordered that any Nigerian should be kidnapped or that anyone should be crated and forcefully transported in violation of decent norms of governance.

“We therefore urge Gen. Buhari to tarry a while, ponder over his own antecedents and do a reality check as to whether he has the moral right to be so carelessly sanctimonious.

“It may well be time to pull the brakes, as Gen. Buhari says in his statement, but it is he and others who have resorted to idle ‘scapegoating’ and blaming President Jonathan for their self-inflected political troubles who need to stop their inexcusable partisanship and show greater regard for the truth, democracy, constitutionalism, the rule of law, peace, security and the well-being of the nation.”

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Nigeria – over 140 villagers killed in army-Boko clashes

Mail and Guardian

Fighting between a suspected extremist group and Nigerian military has claimed the lives of at least 140 villagers in northeast Nigeria.

Villagers in northeast Nigeria have fled their homes after fighting between the military and extremists claimed 143 lives. (AFP)

Searching roadsides, bushes and fields, environmental agency workers have recovered the bodies of 143 civilians killed by suspected extremists, one of the highest death tolls in an Islamic uprising in northeast Nigeria, an official said.

According to a soldier who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press, two soldiers and three police officers also were killed.

The private said extremists disguised in military fatigues attacked in about 20 pickup trucks and two light tanks firing anti-aircraft guns that overwhelmed soldiers armed only with automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades.

Enforcing sharia law
He indicated that the soldiers actually led the attackers to the village.

“We had to retreat to our base to reinforce after running out of ammunition. We had to run for our lives,” said the private, who said he hid in a millet plantation. “But they followed us down and surrounded our base and began to shell our building. We couldn’t stand the heat of their superior firepower. We had to retreat into the village after they killed two of our soldiers and three policemen.”

He said the attackers finally retreated in triumph, taking off with an additional four military patrol trucks and two light armoured tanks.

Such accounts challenge the Nigerian military’s insistence that it is winning the war since a state of emergency was declared May 14 to put down the insurrection by extremists who want to enforce strict sharia law throughout Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation of more than 160 million people almost equally divided between Muslims and Christians.

‘Our houses have been burned’
An AP reporter watched as environmental department workers piled corpses swollen by the tropical heat into trucks at the near-deserted village where hundreds of homes had been torched.

“We have been picking corpses off the roadsides all day, there are more in the bush … We have so far picked up 143 corpses,” said Abdulazeez Kolomi, an assistant at the Environmental Protection Agency.

The agency’s chief, Saidu Yakubu, told reporters the official numbers of corpses evacuated was 87.

Women and children were being helped to clamber up into other vehicles as villagers continued to flee their homes.

“Our houses have been burned, we lack food to eat, we have been sleeping in the bush and cannot bear the hardship with the children crying,” said 56-year-old Kaltume Baba-Haruna.

Losing confidence in the military
The few remaining residents said they are angry at both the government and the military for not protecting them.

Villager Abacha Wakil said the gunmen invaded the town at about 7.45pm. Tuesday and did not leave until about 3.30am. When they ventured back to the village from the bushes where they spent the night they discovered the beheaded bodies of 14 young men, most belonging to a vigilante group set up to fight the extremists, he said.

Governor Shettima promised to spend about US$312 000 to rebuild the destroyed village. And he gave families of the 14 killed vigilantes compensation of $1 500 each.

Army Brigadier General Muhammed Idris Yusuf pleaded with the villagers to not lose confidence in the military. “We share your pain and we promise to beef up the presence of soldiers around Benisheik,” he said. “We have not abandoned you as you think: our troops ran out of ammunition and that was why they withdrew to reinforce. They are now back and more are coming,” he promised. – Sapa-AP M&G

Nigeria – 15,000 flee Boko Haram

Mon Jul 21, 2014

MAIDUGURI Nigeria (Reuters) – More than 15,000 people have fled an area around the northeast Nigerian town of Damboa after a spate of lethal assaults by Islamist Boko Haram fighters during the weekend, the emergency services said on Monday.

Suspected Islamists raided Damboa on Friday and Saturday, shooting dead more than 40 residents and burning houses, part of a pattern of killing that has forced tens of thousands to flee this year. They also attacked six nearby villages.

Boko Haram, which is fighting for an Islamic state in Nigeria, has ceaselessly targeted civilians this year in rural parts of Borno state, where its fighters fled after a military offensive dislodged them from the cities.

Abdulkair Ibrahim, a spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in Borno, said the agency had records of 15,204 people who had fled Damboa and the six villages — Kimba, Madaragrau, Mandafuma, Chikwar Kir, Bomburatai and Sabon Kwatta.

Addressing press in the capital Abuja on Monday, Defence spokesman Major-General Chris Olukolade appeared to deny that Boko Haram had taken over Damboa and the surrounding areas, when asked about reports that the military had fled and the insurgents had hoisted their black flags in the town.

“We are not conceding any portion of this country to any terrorist group,” he said. “Our patrols are active and they are stepping up their activities to reverse any insecurity there.”

Whether or not Boko Haram controls significant territory, its ability to strike with impunity is destabilising Africa’s biggest economy and making it an unattractive investment destination. Around 200 school girls kidnapped by the rebels in April remain in captivity, despite a vocal campaign calling on President Goodluck Jonathan’s forces to rescue them.

A military operation in the northeast last year initially succeeded in breaking up a de facto area in the northeast that had been controlled by Boko Haram.

But the rebels melted away into the hilly border area near Cameroon. From there they have launched deadly reprisal attacks that are increasingly targeting civilians, after they formed vigilante groups to help the government kick out the militants.

Several bombs across the country since April, including three in Abuja and one in the commercial capital Lagos, in the southwest, have shown they can now bring their insurgency to any part of Africa’s top oil producer. Reuters


Nigeria – Boko Haram reportedly controls Damboa


Nigeria’s Boko Haram ‘controls’ Damboa in Borno

Screen grab from Boko Haram video Boko Haram fighters are sometimes better equipped than Nigerian soldiers

Nigeria’s militant Islamists are in control of the key town of Damboa in north-eastern Nigeria, a local vigilante leader has told the BBC.

The vigilante force defending the town fled on Sunday, and Islamist group Boko Haram’s black flag is now flying over Damboa, he said.

At least 40 people were killed when Boko Haram first raided Damboa on Friday, the vigilante leader added.

The group has been fighting since 2009 to create an Islamic state in Nigeria.

In April, it sparked international outrage by abducting more than 200 girls from their boarding school in Chibok, in Borno state, like Damboa.

The BBC’s Chris Ewokor in the capital, Abuja, says when Boko Haram seized towns and villages in the past, it was driven out by the military.

However, government forces have failed to launch an offensive to recapture Damboa, he says.

Meanwhile, a military helicopter flying in the area crashed after developing a technical fault, the defence ministry says.

During the fighting in Damboa, some electric installations were damaged and this has left the regional capital, Maiduguri, without electricity for three weeks, a local resident has told the BBC.

Damboa is about 85km (53 miles) from Maiduguri, the headquarters of Boko Haram before it was driven out by government forces last year.


Who are Boko Haram?

  • 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

The vigilante leader, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals, told the BBC that Boko Haram gunmen had set up checkpoints on roads leading to Damboa and were charging motorists a toll fee.

His forces abandoned the town – a trading centre for people from neighbouring villages – after running out of ammunition.

Boko Haram’s flag had been hoisted outside the home of Damboa’s traditional ruler, and the town’s entrance, he said.

The group had also seized the military barracks, which government soldiers had abandoned after an earlier attack by the militants, the vigilante leader added.


Nigeria – Boko Haram sets up tolls on Maiduguri-Dikwa-Gamboru Ngala road

Daily Trust

Monday, 21 July 2014 by Hamza Idris, Maiduguri

Gunmen suspected to be members of the Boko Haram sect have taken over the Maiduguri-Dikwa-Gamboru Ngala road, Daily Trust gathered. The attackers are allegedly collecting money and confiscating goods.

Our correspondent reports that as a result of incessant attacks, only few vehicles now ply the 186 kilometers road that links Maiduguri and Gamboru-Ngala, a border town between Nigeria and Cameroon.
Drivers at the Gamboru Motor Park in Maiduguri said travelling along the route in now a risky affair.
“Only a few of us are now plying the road. Many of our colleagues have changed routes because of spate of attacks,” Modu Ari, a driver said.
The Majority Leader in the Borno State House of Assembly, Idrissa Jidda said Boko Haram insurgents have taken over the road.
“The insurgents have had absolute control of the road in the past one month. No day passes without an attack along the Maiduguri-Dikwa-Gamboru road and in most cases, innocent people are killed,” he said.
According to him, the insurgents stop vehicles at various points and forcefully collect money from passengers.
“In most cases, they carefully select some passengers and promptly execute them. They also kidnap girls at will and sometimes forcefully snatch vehicles that are loaded with assorted food items,” he said.
Jidda, who represents Ngala in the state House of Assembly lamented that his people are in disarray.
“Attacks are now rampant in Gamboru and Ngala to the extent that most of our people have fled to safer places like Maiduguri, while many others have crossed over to Cameroon. We really need the intervention of the federal government. For now, only the Maiduguri-Damaturu-Kano road is safe,” he said.
With the taking over of Damboa town, travellers say the Maiduguri-Biu-Gombe road is also now a no-go area while people moving from Maiduguri to Gwoza through Bama are also prone to attacks.
Meanwhile, Daily Trust gathered that in the early hours of Friday, some insurgents stormed Ngala town where they abducted the wife and two children of a politician, Zaraye Mala Sheriff. Sources said Zaraye Mala Sheriff is a councillor in the area and a cousin of former Governor Ali Modu Sheriff. The insurgents have also kidnapped two prominent politicians in the area, Alhaji Annur Mohammed and Liman Alhaji Hussaini, witnesses said.
“The insurgents stormed the house of the councillor around 12:30am on Friday and asked the wife about her husband. They also asked her for the money he kept at home but she kept quiet. Luckily enough, Zaraye was at the other side of the house and when he heard the conversation, he fled,” a source from Ngala said.
He said angered by her silence and the absence of their target, the insurgents took away the councillor’s wife and two of her children.
“Up till now, nothing has been heard of the woman and her kids. We have not heard anything about the two businessmen either,” he said. Daily Trust

Nigeria – opposition APC leaders put on security watchlist


APC chiefs on FG’s security watch list

National Chairman, All Progressives Congress, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun

SECURITY agencies have put some national leaders of the opposition All Progressives Congress on the watch list, a top government official said on Sunday.

The official, who asked not to be named, confided in selected journalists in Abuja that the APC leaders could be picked up by security agents in case any untoward incident occurred following the threats allegedly issued by the politicians over the impeachment of Adamawa State ex-governor, Murtala Nyako.

The source said the Federal Government would not hesitate to order the arrest of the unnamed opposition leaders “if they do not desist from the campaign of calumny they are currently embarking against President Goodluck Jonathan over Nyako’s ouster.”

Nyako was removed from office by the state legislators over allegations of gross misconduct.

The National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, had at a press conference on Wednesday last week accused Jonathan of being behind Nyako’s removal.

Also, a national leader of the party, Bola Tinubu, had on Friday reiterated Odigie-Oyegun’s claim, adding that Nyako attracted Jonathan’s wrath for defecting from the Peoples Democratic Party and for writing a memo to governors in the northern states.

Nyako had, in the memo referred to by Tinubu, accused the President of carrying out genocide against the North in the government’s ongoing war against terror.

But the government source, who spoke to journalists on Sunday, said the security report available to the government showed “clearly” the underhand dealings of the APC leaders shortly before the governor was removed.

He claimed that intelligence reports revealed that two APC governors, one from the North and the other from the South, approached some members of the Adamawa State House Assembly with financial inducements to the tune of N250m each for them to scuttle the move to remove the governor.

He explained that out of the 25 state lawmakers, five were with Nyako while two travelled at the time the impeachment process scaled through.

The government official added that the APC governors (names withheld) succeeded in buying one lawmaker over, and that attempts were made to buy one or two more so that the number of lawmakers required for the governor to be removed would not be achieved.

The government official also said that when it became clear to the APC chiefs that they would not be able to buy the lawmakers over, they resorted to threats.

The source said, “It was the assurance that they got from the lawmaker that more members would be bought over that gave birth to the reports then that Nyako might resign.

“When it was clear to them that the money might not do the magic, they resorted to threats.

“They threatened some of the lawmakers that they would be killed if they did not collect the money and stop the impeachment process.

“What they don’t know is that all these are recorded. If they continue with these their unfounded allegations against the President, the security agencies would be directed to arrest them and confront them with overwhelming evidence.”

The source insisted that the President had no hand in Nyako’s removal, saying it was a pure legislative matter.

Under Nigeria’s constitution, state governors enjoy immunity from prosecution. This means that the governors who offered the bribe could be spared while security agents go after other party leaders who do not enjoy immunity.

The APC, in reaction on Sunday, dared the Presidency to carry out the threat.

National Publicity Secretary of the party, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said it was shameful that the Presidency had been reduced to using anonymous sources to make baseless allegations.

According to him, Nigerians are tired of being deceived by an administration “which has won laurels in corruption.”

Mohammed said, “Tell them to publish whatever evidence they have and tell them to go ahead and arrest them, why are they insulting the intelligence of Nigerians? This outburst is simply telling you how stupid they are.

“Multiply N250m by 20, how much is that? N250m in four places is N1bn; in 20 places is N5bn. Do they think everybody is as stupid as they are? Do they think that one governor could pull out five billion, either in Naira or Dollars, and the system will not detect it?

“Is this feasible? Why are they hiding and making unsubstantiated allegations? Why can’t they expose the governors and arrest them? What they are trying to do is to cover up their own corruption.

“Nigerians still want to know what happened to the missing $20bn oil money, Nigerians want to know how come 300,000 barrels of our crude oil go missing every day; Nigerians want to know what happened to the subsidy fraud scam, let them publish the details of the Malabu oil scandal.”

The APC spokesperson wondered why the Presidency had been unable to invite the leaders of the opposition party or the party’s governors, whom, it alleged, were involved in bribing legislators for questioning if indeed they had any evidence against them.

“We told them how much they offered our legislators in Edo State; we exposed how much they offered those in Nasarawa. They should stop annoying Nigerians.” Mohammed said.

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Nigerian assembly split over President’s loan plan to fight Boko Haram



Some members of the National Assembly are divided over whether or not the $1bn loan request made by President Goodluck Jonathan should be approved by the lawmakers.

Jonathan had on Wednesday sent a letter to the National Assembly, asking the lawmakers to urgently approve the external loan for the Federal Government to confront Boko Haram insurgency.

He said the external loan would be used to upgrade the equipment of the armed forces and the training of personnel.

Senator Magnus Abe (APC, Rivers State), in an interview with SUNDAY PUNCH on Friday, said he was not against the approval of the loan for the President.

He, however, said Jonathan should be able to account for the money released so far to fight the insurgents.

Abe stated, “My opinion all along over the funding of military operation against insurgency has been that Nigerians should not be too much interested in the amount of money being voted to execute the war. Rather, what should interest Nigerians is whether we are achieving the objective behind the release of the money.

“I have nothing against the release of money to fight insurgency but President Goodluck Jonathan should satisfy himself and Nigerians that the amount of money so far released for the anti-terrorism activities had been judiciously utilised.

“It will be a very sad development if it turned out at the end of the day that $1bn being requested for the President was diverted to politics or that some people in government saw it as an opportunity to amass wealth at the instance of the vulnerable, poor Nigerians whose lives and property are being wasted whenever the dreaded sect unleashes terror.”

On his part, Senator Babafemi Ojudu said the request by the President was “not desirable and obviously, not justifiable.”

He said, “As a country, huge sums of money have been voted for defence since the inception of the Jonathan administration and a huge percentage of the money, I believe, had been channelled to wage war against Boko Haram. The question is, have we been able to justify the utilisation of the money?”

Ojudu said he was part of the team that went to Borno State few weeks ago on a fact-finding mission.

According to him, the state government told the team that a huge percentage of its monthly allocation was being deducted by the Federal Government to fight insurgency.

“I am very sure the Senate will approve the money but how are we sure it is not part of the money that would be utilised to prosecute the 2015 general elections by the Peoples Democratic Party, which is the ruling party in the country,” he said.

Another senator, Kabiru Marafa, said he would not mind approving the loan, if it would assist in ending the insurgency.

He said, “There is no amount of money spent to bring peace and tranquillity to our troubled nation that is too much or too small. I do not even mind if we spent the entire budget or empty the Central Bank of Nigeria to end insurgency in our country. But we must be sincere in the application of the money for the purpose for which it was released.

“We all know the complaints of the military personnel on ground at the three north-eastern states. They had alleged that their welfare was not being adequately taken care of by those charged to do so.

“If President Goodluck Jonathan is sincerely looking for that money to carry out military activities that will restore peace to Nigeria, no right-thinking citizen of this country will go against it. I want him to maintain his stand on it because I know some of his advisers may suggest its diversion for political use and if that happens, we are in trouble in this country.”

Also, Senator Chris Ngige said he would need more details on the loan. These, he said, would assist the Senate in considering it.

He said, “For instance, we need to know the terms of the loan, whether it is interest-free or not. We must know the terms for repayment. All these pieces of information are not known, so we don’t have the details.

“We also need to know what percentage will go to procurement of more arms and equipment; the percentage that will go to personnel capacity building and the percentage that will be allocated to the Army, Navy, Airforce, the Department of State Security, the Police and other security outfits.

“I am also thinking the entire money is not meant for the military operations alone. We must know how much is being set aside to take care of the social, economic and religious impact of the insurgency because terrorism is like ulcer which takes time to heal,” Ngige added.

In the House of Representatives, some members also expressed opposing views over the President’s bid.

The House Deputy Majority Leader, Mr. Leo Ogor, applauded Jonathan’s decision as a necessary step he took to ensure that “adequate pieces of equipment are provided for our Armed Forces.”

Ogor, a PDP lawmaker from Delta State, said nobody expected Nigerian soldiers to confront members of the sect and defeat them if they did not have enough equipment.

He also stated that no amount of money was too much to spend on security, if doing so would restore normalcy to the North-East.

Ogor added, “What is the alternative if we don’t want the government to spend? We are fighting a war that is alien to us; we have to be fully prepared.

“It is totally unnecessary to politicise this issue when the lives and property of Nigerians are involved.”

However, House Minority Whip, Mr. Sampson Osagie, faulted Ogor’s position on the grounds that the legislature approved N1tn in this year’s budget just three months ago for the same reasons of equipping and training security personnel.

Osagie, an All Progressives Congress legislator from Edo State, argued that until Jonathan explained how the $1bn would be utilised differently from the N1tn already approved in the 2014 budget, “then, there are clouds of suspicion.”

He added, “Is the President borrowing the money to fund the N1tn budgeted for security in 2014? He has a lot of explanation to make.”

Osagie, who described the request as “laughable”, also said he was suspicious of Jonathan’s motive for making such request in a pre-election year.

He recalled that prior to the 2011 general elections, government’s expenditure on fuel subsidy rose to “over N1tn”, raising suspicions that substantial part of the money might have been used for electioneering.

“It is highly suspicious because we are approaching elections and this type of laughable request is coming.

“Why can’t government cut down on the many areas of waste in governance and save funds instead of resorting to external borrowing?

“Do we even know how much exactly we are owing as a nation?

“I totally oppose this loan”, Osagie added.

The Chairman, House Committee on Justice, Mr. Ali Ahmad, too did not spare the President.

Ahmad noted that “25 per cent” of the 2014 budget was earmarked for security.

He said, “We can’t see what they have done with the money because nothing has improved.

“Upgrading equipment and training Armed Forces personnel are not new issues; we approved N1tn in the budget for security.

“My position is that the military should come out and tell us how they have spent the 25 per cent of the budget we voted for security.”

Some civil rights groups also kicked against the external loan.

A United Kingdom-based political and public affairs commentator, Mr. Stephen Dieseruvwe, said the President should tell Nigerians how security votes had been spent.

He said, “I can tell you without mincing words that Nigerians are very angry about your posture on the fight against corruption and terrorism. Nigerians are getting to a breaking point, and I see it as a time bomb for a bloody disintegration of the geographical expression called Nigeria.”

But, an anti-corruption attorney and civil rights activist, Mr. Ugochukwu Osuagwu, said he supported the loan.

Osuagwu said, “The Nigerian Army has attributed its inability to tackle the Boko Haram insurgency to dearth of funds. N845 billion was budgeted for defence in 2014 and Army got just N4.8 billion this year so far. If the $1billion being sought is for the Army and other security agencies to fight Boko Haram, then it is justifiable.

“The Boko Haram guys are very powerful and we need to curtail them before they penetrate the South. Otherwise, they can wipe out Nigeria. I support the loan, provided it is meant to declare war on Boko Haram in the North and other parts they are located.”

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All rights reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from PUNCH.



Nigeria – vote on billion dollar loan for security operations delayed by recess

Nigeria’s $1bn loan to fight Boko Haram delayed

Nigeria’s National Assembly has broken up for a two-month recess, meaning approval for a loan to help the military fight Boko Haram must wait.

President Goodluck Jonathan submitted an urgent request to borrow $1bn (£580m) on the penultimate day of parliamentary business.

Analysts say it would normally take several days for such a loan to be passed.

Boko Haram’s campaign to establish an Islamic state has killed thousands.

The kidnapping of the girls from their school in Chibok has shocked many people around the world
Mr Jonathan has faced intense criticism over the government’s failure to curb the increasingly brutal insurgency waged by Boko Haram.

The group caused international outrage in April when it abducted more than 200 schoolgirls in its heartland of north-eastern Nigeria.

Nigeria has a military budget of about $6bn a year but large sums are lost to corruption, critics say.

Emergency law
In the letter to the Senate and House of Representatives on Wednesday, Mr Jonathan said there was an “urgent need” to upgrade the equipment, training and logistics of the armed forces and security services to help them confront the “serious threat” posed by Boko Haram.

BBC News examines the challenges facing Nigeria’s president, in 60 seconds
“For this reason, I seek the concurrence of the National Assembly for external borrowing of not more than $1bn,” he said.

Both chambers of parliament are not due to sit again until the end of their annual recess in September.

The BBC’s Bashir Sa’ad Abdullahi in the capital, Abuja, says both the lower and upper houses of parliament would then scrutinise the loan request concurrently.

Boko Haram is opposed to Western education

Many villages rely on vigilantes to protect their communities from Boko Haram raids
Each chamber would debate the request first – it would then pass to a committee and back to the chamber for approval.

If the chambers differed, a joint committee would be formed to hammer out an agreement on the amount of the loan.

It is not a quick process and could not have been done in a day, our reporter says.

Nigeria’s military is receiving help from the US, UK, China, France and Israel to secure the release of the schoolgirls.

Rights groups have repeatedly accused the military of carrying out widespread abuses against civilians, as it tries to hunt down insurgents.

Mr Jonathan sent more troops to the north-east last year after declaring a state of emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, the three states worst-affected by the insurgency.

However, Boko Haram has stepped up attacks since then – and many villages rely on a force of vigilantes for protection.

New York-based Human Rights Watch says more than 2,000 civilians have been killed in Nigeria this year by Boko Haram.

The deaths occurred in around 95 separate attacks in more than 70 towns and villages in the north-east, where Boko Haram launched its insurgency in 2009.

Who are Boko Haram?

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

Nigeria’s military says it is poorly equipped to tackle the insurgents