FG Directs IGP, NSCDC Boss To Move To North East

The Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau, has directed the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris; and the Commandant-General of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, Abdullahi Muhammadu, to relocate to the North East.

The Presidency disclosed this on Wednesday in a series of messages posted on its Twitter handle, @NGRPresident.

According to the message, the two security chiefs were asked to liaise with the Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole as well as governors of the affected states to ensure deployment of personnel to all schools in liberated areas in Yobe, Borno and Adamawa States.

“The Min of Interior has directed the IG of Police and the Commandant General of NSCDC to relocate to the northeast and liaise with the theatre commander of #OpLafiyaDole and Govs of Yobe, Borno & Adamawa to ensure deployment of personnel to all schools in liberated areas in the states,” one of the messages read.

“The minister said that the directive has become necessary to forestall a re-occurrence of the attack on innocent school children,” another message read.

BREAKING: Air Force Helicopter Crashes In North East

A Mi-17 attack helicopter of the Nigerian Air Force has crashed in the northeast during a counter-insurgency operation.

The NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Vice Marshal Olatokunbo Adesanya, who confirmed that the helicopter “suffered mishap”, noted that the aircraft had a significant damage but no life was lost.

“The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, has immediately directed the constitution of a board of inquiry to determine the cause of the incident,” Adesanya said.

North-East Humanitarian Makeathon To Begin In October – FG

The Federal Government will begin a North-East focused Makeathon in October, the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the Vice President, Mr. Laolu Akande said.

Makeathon is a process of crowd-sourcing ideas around solutions open to interested persons, humanitarian actors, engineers, designers, scientists, innovators, investors and entrepreneurs in the region.

According to Akande, the programme is in line with President  Muhammadu Buhari’s administration’s policy of promoting use of technology as critical tool for public service delivery.

He said The programme would be conducted through the Presidency’s National Social Investment Office.

The North East Makeathon is slated to run from October 2017 to December 2017 and will usher in the first set of incubation activities in the proposed North East humanitarian innovation hub.

He said the focus of the hub would be to address challenges faced by persons in the region, some of which include Nutrition and Food Security, Early Recovery and Economic Security (Diversifying Livelihoods).

Others are Camp Coordination and Management, Education (innovative and creative learning solutions) and Health (innovation, which addresses the health issues faced by pregnant women, children and communities in the region.

Another critical area of focus in the hub, he said, would be the protection of women and children, gender-based violence, innovative and preventive measures.

The Vice Presidential Spokesman said that the establishment of the proposed hub for the North-East was being driven by the National Social Investment Office working with the Presidential Committee for the North-East Initiatives (PCNI).

Also involved would be the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), in partnership with International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC).

Akande said it would serve as Humanitarian Innovation Hub and be situated in Yola, Adamawa State.

The Federal Government intended to create eight private sector-led Innovation Hubs across the country, one in each of the six geo-political zones, as well as in Lagos and Abuja, he added.

He explained that the main objective was to foster innovation in the country, through the National Social Investment Office.

“The proposed innovation hubs would also provide training of varied IT skills, empowering youth for entrepreneurship and employment.

“Additionally, the hubs would provide platform at an entrepreneurial level for support from the venture capital sector, as well as create job opportunities for graduates and trainees.”

According to Akande, the goal is to catalyse growth and employment-focused partnerships while bringing together IDPs, humanitarian actors, social entrepreneurs, businesses, as well as the public and private sector.

The agencies would have the shared goal of scaling effective, timely, efficient and ethical solutions to address common challenges and provide local solutions for local problems, including religious matters, he said.

He noted that for further details on the challenges and how to participate, interested persons could refer to the website at www.nemakeathon.org.


N110,820 Recovered From 191 Suspect – EFCC

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), North-East zone, says it has arrested 191 suspects and recovered N110,820,023 million in the area from January to July.

Malam Aminu Aliyu, the Commission’s Head of Operations in the zone, stated this at a news conference in Gombe on Tuesday.

Aliyu said the amount recovered from suspects under investigations are: N79,074, 743.53 in bank drafts and N31,745,280 in cash.

He said the office had also secured seven convictions of those arraigned in various courts while concluding an investigation into 54 other cases.

He expressed the commission’s commitment to tackling economic and financial crimes by securing the conviction of criminals and sensitising the public to the evil deeds of fraudsters in the society.

The zonal head also appealed to the public to continue to report activities of any suspects in both private and public sectors.

The Water Wars in Northeast Nigeria, By Ahmad Salkida

Amsatu is in her mid – 20’s and has just gone into labor for her fourth child. News has begun to go round in the village in Yunusari Local Government Area. Amsatu’s husband was seen walking breathlessly to the scene of the delivery in the house with the prominent traditional birth attendant in the village. On hearing the arrival of newborn, the women began to take their empty water cans to embark on a walk to the neighboring village to fetch water. Water would be the most precious article in Amsatu’s home and the women would trek the 11-kilometer distance to fetch water.

The trek to the next village has in the past years been strewn with life-threatening possibilities. It took the women about six hours to present various water cans to Amsatu’s house, their first present traditionally reckoned with in honor of the newborn. Water cans of various sizes and designs flooded Amsatu’s house from fellow women folk. It was a solidarity show. The underlining importance and scarcity of water in this locality has become legendary and its acuteness increases with the year.

In northern parts of Borno and Yobe, the raging water scarcity has led to the creation of new “water culture.” The Lake Chad region is facing multi-pronged human emergencies that are grossly under reported.
Severely short official attention span in these life threatening conditions is not only embarrassing, it questions every of their claim to humanness. We have heard sing songs made on the bond between water and life. Nothing dramatizes the living threat to life in these communities better than the rapidly receding Lake Chad waters.

The water basin of the lake is drying up. So also the economic activities that are indigenous to the people in the region. People tie their most benevolent show of humanity in these communities to water gift. Water is also loaned in the manner a cash-strapped business or indeed an innovative business start-up gets money loan. Water is the currency of life and economic activities in the Lake Chad region. There is even a local lingo for contributions of water to a distressed neighbor: Adashen ruwa as exemplified by the response of the women to Amsatu’s child delivery.

As soon as Amsatu has weaned her baby and is back on her feet it becomes incumbent on her to contribute water to the families of other women in the village that have gone into labor. Ceremonies such as wedding attract similar water contributions. Vegetation and water that have been a common attribute of the Lake Chad region are disappearing before our very eyes. “Climate change, both by nature and precipitated by man is deemed responsible for the drying up of the Lake Chad and rivers in the region,” says Professor Abbas Gisilanbe, an official with the Centre for Disaster Management, University of Maiduguri, Nigeria.

Abbas, a respected Biometeorologist in the region, said human activities such as damming of the rivers and the dumping of refuse on water channels are among the main causative factors of this emerging environmental catastrophe. In Borno and Yobe States in particular, “the potential evapotranspiration is more than five times the total annual rainfall and temperatures are generally very high during the hot dry season” hence the drying up of the rivers.

In recent years, the region has witnessed both the drying up of rivers and drought, the result of this is an ensuing competition by locals to migrate to communities in areas where there are pastures. The visitors, when armed face little or no resistance at all, but when they are desperate and vulnerable villagers they may be forced to migrate.

Nothing ever gets reported of these little wars because they get swallowed up in the bigger conflict that is the Boko Haram insurgency.

Investigations by this reporter also reveal that availability of vegetation and water are often a motivation for Boko Haram insurgents’ invasion of communities in the past four years. The incidence of clashes between villagers that are mainly farmers and armed herdsmen in areas where there is water resource has refused to go away. There are also other villagers that are either fleeing from insurgency or drought, but on arrival in new settlements, are turned back. Often, in
such situations with their backs against the wall, such situations stir further conflicts.

These sub-conflicts have often resulted in the destruction of communities with attendant loss of human lives.

In April and May alone, the two factions of the insurgents in the region have clashed over control of locations with greener pastures around Meine-Soroa, around Damboa and in old Marte earlier documented by this reporter. As the population grows around rivers, streams and wetlands in the Lake Chad region incidences of dumping of refuse in the channels that cause downstream hemorrhage on the environment increases. Abbas has warned that, “Irrigation water abstraction on the
banks and from digging wells and puddles on the dry bed lead to an unprecedented drying up of rivers.”

A villager, Abubakar Grema said, the situation in his village close to Banki town at the border with Cameroon was very dire, “sadly, we have resisted other villagers from settling in our village in order to safeguard our scarce water resource.” They have often used the water in their village to appease the insurgents who also are in need of it, and because of this arrangement, they were hardly attacked by them. “If we have used water and other resources that come with water to buy
peace, we can’t afford to accommodate other visitors that may speed up the drying of our stream. As long as we have water resources our survival is secured,” Grema concluded.

Long before Boko Haram’s terror reared its head the impact of the vanishing Lake Chad and surrounding rivers and streams in the region was so severe it created a string of untold calamities. The unemployment that came with it was an easy fuel for the Boko Haram doctrinaires. According to experts, it is too late to educate villagers to avoid harmful practices that are worsening the environmental landscape in the region. There are hardly any official or conservative groups that can move freely in these communities, barely populated now to engage and share new ideas and safety measures with them such as efficient water utilization because of insecurity and the fear of terror.

Communities such as Grema’s are becoming more conscious of their rights to the common resource and are easily agitated when these rights are infringed upon. At a higher level, the fears of the Yobe State government over the proposed Kafinzaki dam on the Kumadugu Yobe River in Bauchi State has been a source of official tension between the two state governments. In these North-eastern states, particularly in Borno and Yobe, potable water is already a very scarce commodity and the drying up of rivers in the already water deficient Sudano – Sahelian parts of Northeast Nigeria are moving beyond scarcity to catastrophic levels. People, especially women and children are seen trekking hundreds of kilometers in search of water. In some places, wells are hundreds of meters deep and water can only be fetched by the use of draught animals like camels and donkeys. Many families have to rely on water gifts or contributions like in the case of Amsatu.

Lately, it has become too risky for men to travel in search of water, firewood or food. “You may either be killed by armed groups or arrested by security forces,” said Bana, Amsatu’s frail looking husband.

Salkida is an Independent Journalist and a conflict analyst.

800 Boko Haram Members Have Surrendered Arms – DHQ

At least 800 members of the violent Islamic sect, Boko Haram have reportedly surrendered to the military in the last three weeks, the Defence Headquarters said.

The Acting Director, Defence Information, Brig. Gen. Rabe Abubakar, who made this disclosure to Punch, in Abuja on Wednesday noted that 800 of the insurgents dropped arms in the last three weeks.

He said, “I can confirm that about 800 of the Boko Haram members have surrendered to the military.”

This development is coming barely 24 hours after the Defence Headquarters announced the establishment of a rehabilitation camp for repentant Boko Haram members.

The DHQ had in a statement on Tuesday stated that the rehabilitation camp was being established under Operation Safe Corridor, which was created as a platform to rehabilitate and integrate repentant members of the sect to the society.

He added that the insurgents would be made to go through various vocational trainings under the programme and empowered for reintegration into the society.

Defence Minister Disowns Statement Claiming Boko Haram Is In Control Of Two LGAs

The Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, has denied a media report credited to him that Boko Haram insurgents still control two local government areas in the North-East.

The minister stated this in a statement issued in Abuja on Wednesday by Tukur Gusau, Public Relations Officer in his office.

He also denied reports in the same medium credited to him that the abducted female students of Government Secondary School, Chibok, were being used as suicide bombers.

According to the statement, the minister was quoted out of context, as he did not imply what was reported by the online medium.

“The minister was a guest in the studio of Voice of America, where he spoke in Hausa language, on the appraisal of the successes recorded in the ongoing war against terrorists in the North- East,” his statement said.

“He said that before now, over 60 local government areas were under the occupation of Boko Haram in the North-East, but now only two were having some remnants of Boko Haram activities and not under their complete control.

“On the issue of the Chibok girls, the minister was not referring to the girls abducted on April 14, 2014 from Government Secondary School Chibok.

“Rather, he was referring to other girls abducted by the terrorists from the local government areas and environs,’’ the statement quoted Mr. Gusau as saying.

10,000 Local Hunters Gather In North East, Seek Clearance To Hunt Down Boko Haram Remnants In Sambisa

An estimated 10,000 local hunters from the North-east of Nigeria gathered recently in Adamawa State for their annual oath-taking festival, known as Salala in the local parlance.

The hunters, dressed in their warfare attires, and with their Dane guns dangling over their shoulders, vowed to rid the society of criminals.

They appealed to the government to make use of their members in the fight against terrorism and other social vices.

The leader of the hunters in Adamawa, Muhammad Tola, who claimed the hunters had so far played significant roles in the fight against Boko Haram, said hunters were familiar with the terrain in dreaded forests, like the Sambisa forest.

“We are ready to pursue the terrorists because we know the terrain very well,” Mr. Tola said.

“We are appealing to the military authorities to allow us join the fight against Boko Haram at the Sambisa forest.”

Mr. Tola said the hunters needed the government to assist them with ammunition, transportation and logistics.

He said the government could also enlist young hunters who were willing to join the army, police, and other security agencies.

“We remain one big family devoid of religious or tribal sentiments, that is why you can see over 10,000 hunters from Taraba, Gombe, Bauchi, Borno, Yoba and Adamawa converged for this epoch-making event,” Mr. Tola said.

Female hunters also participated in the Salala festival.

The leader of the female hunters, Aisha Bakari Gombi, said securing the society was a fight for everyone, irrespective of gender.

“This is a clarion call. We all must make sacrifices,” she said.

Babangida Muhammad, the Sarkin Gida, who represented the Paramount Ruler of Adamawa, Muhammadu Mustapha, in the festival, said there was need for government to engage the services of the hunters and other vigilantes in the fight against social vices.

Hunters in Borno State had on January 3 called on the military to allow them join the war against Boko Haram insurgents in the dreaded Sambisa Forest.

“We are appealing to the military authorities to allow us join the fight against Boko Haram at the Sambisa forest,” Mai-Gana Mai-Durma, the Borno Emir of the Hunters, made the appeal in Maiduguri while addressing journalists at the time.

“We are ready to pursue the terrorists because we know the terrain very well.”

Mr. Mai-Durma said that the military should align them with members of the vigilante group, popularly known as the Civilian JTF, for effective result.

“We will overrun Sambisa in partnership with members of the civilian JTF if given the opportunity,” he said.

The Adamawa State Government had in November 2014 announced that it was officially enlisting the services of local hunters and vigilantes, called Civilian JTF, to liberate communities captured by Boko Haram insurgents.

Shortly afterwards the local hunters were reported to have recaptured Maiha and Mubi local governments, killing at least 75 Boko Haram militants in the process.

Nigerian Troops Capture “Spiritual Headquarters” Of Boko Haram

After 10 days’ siege on Alargano, the Nigerian troops has successfully captured the spiritual headquarters of the dreaded Boko Haram sect, it has been revealed.

Addressing a press conference in Maiduguri on Tuesday, the head of the counter-insurgency operations in the North-East, Maj. Gen. Lucky Irabor, said the Nigerian troops’ offensive to capture Alargano since March 18, 2016, was successfully concluded on Monday.

He said the offensive commenced on 18 March, 2016 about 9 o’clock in the morning with troops of 3 and 7 Division, assisted by air bombardment by the Nigerian Air Force (NAF).

Irabor lamented that the advance was halted several times due to planted impoverished explosive devices (IEDs) along the routes leading to Alargano.

He said during the operations, troops had to clear Yajiwa, Joba, Mosa, Ariwuzumari, Missene Sansan and Kagalmari villages, all at the fringes of the forest.

He declared: “Our gallant troops finally entered Alagarno on 28 March, 2016, during which several Boko Haram terrorists were killed along the route.

“This operation demystified the Boko Haram terrorists’ spiritual power base in Alagarno. Throughout the operation, the NAF monitored the operation, consistently resupplied the advancing troops as well as assisted in evacuating soldiers that were wounded in action.”

Clsiming that the military has recorded tremendous successes against the insurgents, Irabor said in the last one month Nigerian troops captured Kumshe.

He explained that this was achieved in conjunction with Cameroonian forces.

Soldiers In Warfront To Get Houses On Retirement – COAS

The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, has assured that soldiers in the war front with Boko Haram in the North-East zone of Nigeria are entitled to their own houses on retirement.

According to Buratai, the Army has a housing scheme for its officers and men.

The Army Chief gave this assurance in Enugu while fielding questions from journalists during his one-day familiarization tour of the 82 Division of Nigerian Army recently.

He assured that as soon as those soldiers disengage from service, they will occupy their own houses.

“Beside their various insurance entitlements, the soldiers are also entitled to loan from the federal government loan board through the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria.

“Also, in the army, we have quite a number of housing projects which the Post-Housing Development Directorate of the army is working on.

“Officers and soldiers subscribe to such schemes where they will choose anywhere they want to settle after retirement to get houses built for them.

“So that as soon as they are retiring, they will be occupying their own houses,” he stressed.

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.