FG To Send Chibok Parents To Cameroun To Identify “Chibok Girl”

The Federal Government is sending to Cameroun immediately a delegation comprising parents of some of the girls abducted in Chibok, Borno State. They are to go and identify the self-professed Chibok girl suicide bomber arrested in the northern part of that country on Friday.

The 15 year old girl and her female accomplice were apprehended by local self-defence forces in the village of Limani, in an area of northern Cameroun that has been the target of frequent suicide bombings in recent months moment before they could blow themselves up.

The two carried explosive devices on their bodies.

They are now being interrogated by Cameroun’s security agents who said they would contact their Nigerian counterparts with a view to ascertaining the ‘Chibok girl’s’ claim.

Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, Malam Garba Shehu, said that Women Affairs Minister Aisha Alhassan and the Nigerian High Commissioner in Cameroon have already swung into action and are receiving a lot of cooperation from the Cameroonian authorities on the issue.

Shehu confirmed that one of the two girls indeed claimed to be among the abducted girls although there were doubts last night about the claim following fresh information from Cameroon that the two girls were aged about ten years.

“One of the two is also believed to be heavily drugged and therefore not in full control of her senses,” Shehu added.

The Nigerian High Commissioner in Cameroon, Ambassador Hadiza Zakari Mustapha is expected to seek permission to meet with the suspects.

The Murtala Muhammed Foundation has offered to sponsor two parents from Chibok who have been selected to embark on the trip to Cameroon.

The two are Yakubu Nkeki, Chairman of the Parents of the Abducted Girls from Chibok Association, and Yana Galang, the group’s women leader.

“The Nigerian High Commission will receive the two and will facilitate their access to the two girls once permission to meet and verify their identity is obtained from the Cameroonian authorities,” Shehu said.

Nigeria and the rest of the world, The Nation gathered on good authority in Abuja yesterday, are keen to hear revelations that may be made by the suspect if truly she is one of the 219 girls abducted by the terror sect, Boko Haram, from the Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State in April, 2014.

Government has been unable to establish the whereabouts of the girls which makes their rescue difficult.

Well placed sources confirmed last night that the ‘Chibok girl’ was yesterday flown from Maroua in northern Cameroun to the capital, Yaounde for debriefing and identification.

Abuja was however monitoring development last night.

The Defence Headquarters was said to be waiting for information on the development from the Multi-National Joint Task Force of which Cameroun is a member.

The source said: “From the situation report, the girl was taken to Salak Airport in Maroua from where she was flown to Yaounde for debriefing and proper identification.

“The debriefing of the suspect will begin later today (last night). Apart from Nigeria, many countries are interested in the latest development.

“The Federal Government is monitoring the situation in Cameroon to get the true picture of who was arrested.

“All I can assure you is that a bilateral understanding will prevail at the end”

A military source said the Camerounian military was yet to link up with the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) with the appropriate communication.

“So, the Nigerian military authorities cannot make any categorical statement. Even when we get information from Cameroun, we still have to verify it.”

It is expected that the girl, if truly is among the missing Chibok students, will shed light on their abduction, their treatment by the terrorists, the fate of the other girls and the like.

#BringBackOurGirls group which was set up to arouse public interest in the fate of the Chibok girls said yesterday in Abuja that it was expecting official information from the Federal Government on the matter.

Spokespersons for the group- Aisha Yesufu, Oby Ezekwesili and Hadiza Bala Usman, said in statement in Abuja that they could not respond immediately to the news “conclusively until we have facts from the Nigerian government; from whom we requested and have eagerly been awaiting official information on the matter.

“In the interim however, our thoughts are as follows:

“The claim by the young woman that she is a Chibok girl should reawaken the Nigerian government to the zeal and commitment necessary for ensuring that they are rescued and brought back;

“This development suggests that we now have a possible source of credible intelligence as to what transpired, where the others are, and other leads required to facilitate their rescue.

“Regardless of whether she is one of our Chibok girls or not, our thoughts and sentiments remain the same:

i. Using children, girls who should be in school (or any humans at all) as suicide bombers is not only tragic and cruel, it is completely reprehensible and we denounce it;
ii.These children suicide bomber are themselves victims, and must be seen and treated as such;

iii. We all must hasten to free all those in captivity. For as long as they are with the monsters, we all are ourselves unsafe and equally in captivity;

A few weeks ago, a girl suicide bomber did not detonate her device at an IDP camp because she knew her family was most likely in that camp, and she could not kill them.

It is important to send out messages that counter the programming of the terrorists. This may help in empowering these victims from detonating the explosives and accessing help;

This particular experience highlights the importance of building not only a regional coalition among neighbouring countries to counter terror, but a global one.

“The Nigerian government as a matter of urgency needs to swiftly act to ascertain the facts of this matter and make them public. It is getting to 24 hours since the news broke.

“We need to know her name and identity, her parents’ names, where she is from, possibly extract DNA samples for quick testing and matching, etc.

“This should be a wakeup call to the Nigerian government to adopt and utilise our citizens-developed tool the Verification, Authentication, and Reunification System (VARS) designed by our movement for such scenarios as these. This tool was accepted by the federal government on 8 July 2015 during our meeting with the president, but has not been deployed.

“Likewise, the Missing Persons Register which would have been useful in tracking this young victim in order to commence her rehabilitation, reunification, and reintegration process with her family and community.”

Each of the two girls in Cameroun were said to be carrying explosives weighing 12kilogrammes.

DHQ Vows To Finish Off Boko Haram

The military last night vowed to end the Boko Haram insurgency.

It promised not to lower its guard and urged Nigerians to remain vigilant despite the seeming conciliatory approach of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau in a video message.

Reacting to the video, the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) said there would be “no safe haven for terrorists”.

A statement issued in Abuja yesterday by the Director of Defence Information, Brig.-Gen. Rabe Abubakar, said: “The DHQ wishes to state emphatically that not minding the contents of the video clips, the Armed Forces of Nigeria would continue to fight in order to consolidate the successes recorded so far.

“The said video clip should, therefore, be discountenanced as it could be another ploy or antics of the terrorists to keep our innocent citizens off their current security alertness to maximise casualties if attacked.

“The Nigerian Armed Forces are now determined more than ever before to end this ugly trend.

“The DHQ is also reassuring citizens that all captives under the cover of the insurgents would regain their freedom with the ongoing military’s final offensive against the terrorists.’’

Abubakar said the CDS commended all officers and men of the Nigerian Armed Forces for their sacrifices, determination and courage to complete the task against the terrorists.

The statement also advised the public not to be carried away by the video clips but to be extra vigilant and security conscious at all times during the Easter celebrations and beyond.

Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau staged a return yesterday, more than one year after his last appearance on video, hinting that his “end” as the sect’s leader “has come”.

“For me, the end has come”, he said in a video message without his usual defiance, taunts and denunciation of the country’s leaders.

In a swift reaction, the military said it was studying the video to determine its authenticity.

Apparently debunking his rumoured death, Shekau said: “This is a message of greeting and joy for you to see my face. This is my desire: that whoever sees this will hear nothing but greetings between me and you. Only Allah knows the rest, as you believed [and] as you submitted. For me the end has come.

“This is only the message I want to send to you to understand that this is certainly I. This is why I did this.”

In the eight-minute video, which has been posted on social media and YouTube, Shekau, who in March, last year, pledged allegiance to ISIS in an audio message, is seen holding a rifle beside one of the black flags associated with ISIS.

He speaks slowly and appears more frail than in previous videos. Shekau talks in a mixture of Arabic and Hausa, according to Athanasius Atta Barkindo, a PhD candidate at SOAS University of London, who works with a group rehabilitating Boko Haram extremists.

The video appears to be new and legitimate, according to Yan St-Pierre, chief executive of the Berlin-based Modern Security Consulting Group (MOSECON). “He is telling his followers that he is alive. This appears to be the video preparing for the post-Shekau situation [in] Boko Haram-ISWAP,” said St-Pierre, who added that his group is still working on the video’s final translation.

Shekau has appeared in numerous Boko Haram videos in the past, including one displaying some of the girls kidnapped by the group from their school in Chibok, Borno State. The girls were kidnapped on April 15, 2014 and the whereabouts of 219 remain unknown. Shekau has a $7 million bounty on his head.

His broadcast was unlike his past messages at the end of 2014 and the start of 2015, which were well edited and closely resembled those of ISIS.

It was also posted on YouTube rather than via Twitter accounts linked to ISIS supporters and websites linked to fellow extremist groups, which had become Boko Haram’s preferred medium of communication.

The bearded Shekau, who looked thin, spoke to his followers in front of a lime green background, with the Boko Haram black flag superimposed in crude graphics.

There was no indication of when or where the video was shot.

Shekau took over Boko Haram leadership in 2009, following the death of its founder, Mohammed Yusuf. Under his leadership, the group has waged a six-year insurgency in the Northeast —which spread in 2015 to neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger—killing thousands and displacing more than two million people.

Shekau also referred in the past tense to Gwoza in Borno State, which Boko Haram overran in mid-2014 and declared a caliphate.

The town was retaken in a military counter-offensive that has seen towns, villages and territory controlled by Boko Haram seized back over the last year.

Boko Haram supply lines are said to have been squeezed, preventing them for sourcing fuel for hit-and-run attacks and conventional fighting, although suicide bombings persist.

There have also been reports of fighters surrendering for lack of food. Shekau is said to be in hiding in Sambisa Forest in Borno State, which is under military watch.

Shekau has been reportedly killed several times since the start of the insurgency that has claimed at least 17,000 lives since 2009, only for him to reappear in video messages.

The military believes several lookalikes have since stood in for him.

Arrested Suicide Bomber Claims She Is One Of Chibok Girls

A suspected famale suicide bomber nabbed in northern Cameroon on Friday claimed she is one of the 219 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram in Chibok in 2014.

The army arrested two girls carrying explosives in the village of Limani, in an area of northern Cameroon that has been the target of frequent suicide bombings in recent months, reports Reuters.

“One of them indeed declared that she is one of the Chibok hostages. She is around 15. We are now verifying, because on the Nigerian side they have the names and photos of these girls,” said local government administrator Raymond Roksdo.

Military sources, who confirmed that the girl had claimed to have been one of the Chibok abductees said the girls were currently in their custody.

“We need a few days to be able to confirm this information. We have to debrief all the men who were present and interrogate the two girls before we can say anything,” one of the military sources said.

Bombing Averted As Two Suicide Bombers Are Killed Near Maiduguri

What would have been a bloody Friday in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, was averted today, as two female Boko Haram suicide bombers got killed before they entered the city of several million people.

The two bombers were killed early today at Umulari Mulai about six kilometres away from Maiduguri on the Maiduguri-Damboa road.

Reports say the the two bombers were sighted around 1:00 am by vigilantes known as Civilian JTF.

One of them detonated her bomb when the Civilian JTF vigilantes on duty around the area asked ‘who is there.’

The second bomber scurried away and holed up nearby. But she was discovered and shot when soldiers came to the site.

Her bomb was later detonated.

“I Have Done My Part”, Boko Haram’s Shekau Says In New Video

Leader of terrorist group Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau has appeared apparently to tell his followers he’s still alive.

Shekau who has not appeared in any video for more than a year was seen in the seven-minute video released today, in a military uniform with a rifle resting on his left shoulder.

Looking subdued, Shekau said he wanted to thank his followers for their dedication.

“I have done my part. This message is just to reassure you that I’m alive and actually the one speaking to you,” he said in both Hausa and Arabic.

There was really no clear message from the dreaded leader.  The poorly produced video has none of the bravado that we have seen in previous films of Abubakar Shekau.

There was also none of Mr Shekau’s defiant bluster, taunts and denunciation of Nigeria’s political elites of previous videos. This the BBC said could be seen as signalling the end of his reign as the leader of the jihadist group.

His admission that “I have done my part or the end has come for me” could be seen as a giving up to the mounting pressure on the Islamists by regional forces.

Terrorists Are Free To Surrender – Nigerian Military

Meanwhile,  Nigeria’s military has responded to the latest video showing the leader of the Islamist militant group Boko Haram by saying that it will be forensically examined to “ascertain its authenticity”.

The military said in a statement that its campaign against Boko Haram fighters continues.

“We wont take any action that can stop the ongoing offensives against the terrorists in all fronts. Every terrorist is free to surrender,” the statement added.

Boko Haram: Nigerian Army Rescues About 180 Hostages

The Nigerian Army said yesterday that its soldiers prosecuting the war on terror on Wednesday night rescued 180 hostages mostly women and children who had been in Boko Haram captivity for months.

During the confrontation to rescue the captives from the camps, five (5) Boko Haram terrorists’ were killed in a shootout while several dangerous weapons and explosives were recovered from the group.

A statement in this regard, signed by the Acting Director, Army Public Relations, Col Sani Usman said, “In continuation of the ongoing clearance operations of remnants of Boko Haram terrorists at the various sectors of Operation Lafiya Dole, Wednesday, troops of 7 Division Garrison and 112 Battalion, assisted by some Civilian JTF, conducted clearing operations at Menari, Bulamari, Zangebe, Maafa, Mijigine, Baale and Kaltaram villages in Mafa Local Government Area”.

“During the operations, they killed 5 Boko Haram terrorists and rescued 180 persons and their cattle held hostages by the terrorists at Giltimari and Baale.

Boko Haram Caused Damage Worth $5.9bn In Borno – World Bank

The World Bank has put the cost of the large-scale destruction caused by Boko Haram insurgency in Borno State at $5.9 billion, with an estimation of 20, 000 people killed.

The report is a part of the Bank’s Post-Insurgency Recovery and Peacebuilding Assessment, an intervention programme involving the World Bank, European Union and the UN with six northeastern states.

Assessments in each of the states were carried out in areas including education, healthcare, water, sanitation, housing, municipal buildings, energy, environment, transport, economy and business.

It is unclear how much the World Bank and others are unwilling to commit to the rebuilding of the state and other parts of the northeast ravaged by the insurgency.

In a recent interview with the Guardian on the opening day of the 11th edition of the Economist Summit at the Intercontinental Hotel in Lagos, Governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima said he was not aware of the actual size of the funds that would be entrusted into rebuilding the region, but with the commitment of President Buhari to the process, he was certain the results of the process would start manifesting soon.

“I don’t know the actual quantum of funds that would come our way, but we are very certain that with the commitment of President Buhari towards the rebuilding of the North East, in the next couple of months, we will start seeing the results,” he said.

An AFP reports says the majority of the more than 2 million internally displaced persons came from the state.

In the 27 local government districts that make up Borno, the fighting destroyed or damaged:

– 956,453 (nearly 30 percent) out of 3,232,308 private houses

– 5,335 classrooms and school buildings in 512 primary, 38 secondary and two tertiary institutions

– 1,205 municipal, local government or ministry buildings

– 76 police stations

– 35 electricity offices

– 14 prison buildings

– 201 health centres

– 1,630 water sources

– 726 power substations and distribution lines.

In some areas such as Bama, the destruction has been near-total, with only 20 percent of houses unscathed.

The report also estimated parks, game, forest and grazing reserves, orchards, river basins and lakes have been poisoned in 16 of the 27 areas, and 470,000 livestock killed or stolen.

The source close to the Borno state government said the report has yet to be approved by the bank and a decision was expected soon on funding.

But given the cost of the damage — about $5.9 billion — and Nigeria’s struggling economy caused by the global oil shock, matching external funding for reconstruction could be problematic, the source added.

The World Bank in Nigeria declined to comment.

Police To Deploy 6000 Men To Liberated North-East Communities

The Nigeria Police Force on Thursday said it would begin the first phase of the deployment of over 6,000 policemen in the communities retaken from Boko Haram in the North-East today.

The Inspector-General of Police, Solomon Arase, disclosed this at the second Roundtable on Security stabilisation in the North-East organised by the police in collaboration with the British Embassy in Abuja.

He said, “I can confirm that by March 18, the logistics procured and personnel mobilised for the first phase of the deployment will be launched. Following the outcome of the last roundtable, the police have heightened the deployment process of personnel in the region.”

Arase also said that massive human and material assets had been mobilised.

The IG added, “The successes so far recorded (in the fight against Boko Haram) can best be consolidated with sincere and workable plans expected to be the outcome of this roundtable.”

Among those in attendance were the representatives of the Army and Air Force.

Meanwhile, Arase has urged all policemen to support the force’s housing scheme.

Court Sentences 89 Boko Haram Members To Death In Cameroun

Cameroon court has sentenced 89 Boko Haram men to death.

They were convicted on terror charges by a military court for their roles in several attacks in Cameroon’s northern region which borders Nigeria.

Cameroon passed an anti-terror law in 2014 which introduced the death sentence.

This is the first time the death sentenced has been used since that law was passed.

The 89 are among 850 people arrested in Cameroon on charges of links to Boko Haram.

Following the death sentences, a local human rights group has called for reforms to Cameroon’s justice system.

Hundreds of people have been killed in a spate of attacks in Cameroon since it joined a regional force set up to tackle the militants last year.

Buhari Condemns Borno Mosque Attack

President Muhammadu Buhari has condemned the early morning attack that hit a mosque in Maiduguri, the capital city of Borno State on Wednesday.

In his sympathy message posted online, President Buhari said: “I am dismayed by the news of a bomb attack on innocent worshippers in a mosque in Maiduguri this morning.

“This attack is yet another sign that Boko Haram is a mindless and godless group that in no way represents true Islam.

“I sympathize with all who lost family and loved ones in the attack, and with the government and people of Borno State.

“Nigerians should please not let down their guard. Vigilance should continue to be a priority, especially in public places.

“The Government remains resolute in its commitment to securing Nigeria from terrorism and violence.”

Military Confirms 22 Dead, In Maiduguri Suicide Attack

The Nigerian Army has confirmed the death of 22 people in the latest explosive attacks near Maiduguri, Borno State, by two female carriers suspected to be linked to the Boko Haram Terrorists (BHT).

The Director of Army Public Relations (DAPR), Col. Sani Usman, in a statement on Wednesday confirmed :that there were twin Person-borne improvised explosive attack carried out by two female carriers in Ummarari village near Molai, outskirts of Maiduguri metropolis, Borno State”, on Wednesday morning.

According to Usman, the first attack targeted a mosque, while the second blast about 50 metres away, a few minutes later.

” Sadly, 22 people were killed and 18 others sustained various degrees of injuries.
Troops, security agents and care givers have been mobilized to scene, while the wounded have been evacuated to Molai General Hospital for treatment.
The troops, security agents and the Civilian JTF have secured the area and are combing the environment for possible clues,”he said.

The Army Spokesman while commiserating with the families of the victims of this dastardly act, reassured the public that the military would continue to rout the remnants of the Boko Haram terrorists wherever they may be hiding.

“We will not rest on our oars until all those that masterminded this latest heinous and other similar crimes are apprehended and brought to justice”, he added.

Usman however implored the members of the public to be more security conscious, cooperate with the troops and security agencies.