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2019: Kidnappings, Killings, Hardship Not Enough Reason To Vote Out Buhari – Sani, ACF Scribe

As the 2019 general elections approach, Secretary General of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Mr. Anthony Sani, has said kidnappings, killings and economic hardship in the land are not enough reasons to vote out President Muhammadu Buhari at the coming polls.

Sani noted that even in advanced countries where democracy is being practised, bombings and killings cannot be ruled out, and citizens of such countries never called for dethronement of their Presidents. The ACF scribe therefore called on Nigerians to be patient with Buhari and give him a second chance to take the country to the promisedland. He spoke to NOAH EBIJEin Kaduna.

Sir, how has our country, Nigeria fared in the past year 2018, considering the fact that it witnessed a lot of challenges like kidnappings, bombings and killings by Boko Haram and herdsmen?

Nigeria has been going through challenges just like any other growing nation. And the government is trying its best to overcome the challenges. Such challenges should bring about purposeful leadership and the best in every one rather than frustrations. This is noteworthy considering that order, justice, liberty, peace, common decency and prosperity for all, are never natural order of things but attained through ceaseless hardwork by both leaders and the led.

This government inherited many of these challenges and there was even prediction by some group in America that the country would reach a tipping point by 2015, and the government promised to tame some of the challenges. The government is now three and half years old, it is therefore left for fair minded and public spirited Nigerians to do the fact-check and know whether the fight against Boko Haram has yielded positive results by way of reduction of spread and frequency of attacks or not, whether killing of high profile Nigerians has reduced or not compared to the past or not, as well as noting whether there are consciously directed efforts to tame kidnapping and killings by gunmen compared to the past or not. The records should inform judgement of Nigerian voters during elections.

I say so because challenges are natural concomitant of mechanism of community living. And that explains why there are still reports of killings by gunmen in developed democracies, including America that is 241 years old, and the fact that people rate their leaders on the basis of effectiveness of consciously directed efforts at overcoming the challenges. Nigerians should use the records for informed judgement during elections.

How worried are you that Nigeria is rated as the 3rd world most terrorised country?

Whatever level of worries does not result in wiping away terrorism in Nigeria but what is required has to do with consciously directed efforts to reduce the challenges substantially. I have stated that these challenges predate this regime, which promised to tame them. Whether Nigeria is number one, number two or number three among terrorist nations is beside the point. It is the efforts by the government at taming the menace that should concern most Nigerians as to whether there are notable improvements or not.

There is no doubt that there is economic hardship in the land, and people are blaming it on bad leadership. What do you think is the way out because some people have already concluded to vote out President Buhari in 2019 as the only way to solve the problem of hardship?

The complaints by Nigerians of failure of leadership is not new. Even developed countries complain of failure of leadership. This is precisely because however developed a country is, there would still be people who would suffer from poverty, since no nation can wipe out poverty completely. Recall the import of what Jesus Christ told Judas that “the poor would always be with you”. And that is why multi party democracies provide for people to retain performing leadership and vote out feckless leaders at specified periods.

This government inherited an economy that was in shambles that made the president to admit he almost considered abdication. The recession was foretold by the trio of Soludo, Sanusi and Ngozi Iweala which explained the setting in of the recession in the third quarter of 2015.

The government has exited the recession and trying to diversify the economy starting from agriculture and solid minerals. These cannot be a day’s job. But it is left to Nigerians to decide whether the efforts have yielded enough improvement over those of the past or not.

Leader of Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Professor Ango Abdullahi and Chairman, Northern Elders Council (NEC), Ahaji Tanko Yakassai have reportedly and respectively kicked against the re-election of President Buhari. These are founding members of ACF and elder statesmen who are supposed to stand firmly with ACF. Do you think ACF membership will ever be the same again?

I hope you are aware of the fact that the two groups of Northern Elders Forum and Northern Elders Council were formed because they thought ACF was not politically partisan enough. ACF has been political on issues most northerners share but not partisan. This is because membership of ACF cuts across partisan lines, and any partisan disposition on the part of ACF would be counter productive. More so that the North is hardly one when it comes to partisan politics right from first republic through second republic to the current dispensation. And given the nature of partisan politics, you may wish to note that NEF is in factions where the one led by Alhaji Sani Zango Daura, Paul Talfa and co have endorsed President Buhari while Ango’s faction has passed vote of no confidence on the present regime.

What is more, most members of other fora and platforms in the North belong to ACF which serves as umbrella body. For example, Prof Ango has been a member of ACF and contested Chairman of NEC with Coomasie and was later made the chairman of the ACF’s political committee. It is not long ago that we started hearing him declaring ACF a rival of his Northern Elders Forum. Alhaji Tanko Yakassai has not resigned his membership of BoT of ACF. He has even resigned from partisan politics. I am therefore sanguine that after the topsy-turvy of the electioneering campaigns and temper comes down, most of them will be active members of ACF again. There is no cause for alarm. What has happened is a result of nature of partisan politics.

There are reports that a bill for change from presidential system of government is being considered in the National Assembly. What is your take on it?

I am not sure if the problems of this country have something to do with structure of the country or form of government. This is because we have tried the parliamentary system during the first republic and jettisoned it as feckless. We tried military dictatorship and said it was aberration, and now we are trying the presidential system, which we say is expensive. But when we consider the fact that all these models have worked in some other climes, then it is hard to avoid the conclusion that our problems are inability to manage our national resources prudently and not structure or form of government. See how Lagos state is performing creditably under the same structure and form of government, which some groups believe are not workable. I am therefore more in favour of effective and efficient management of our national resources which come with integrity and credibility devoid of corrupt practices that have collapsed our national ideals, moral values and of our sense of what is right and what is evil.

What is your view about the effect of the president’s refusal to sign the amended electoral bill on the coming elections?

The President has his own reasons for withholding his assent to the bill, one of which is the time factor that does not allow for proficiencies in exclusive use of electronic voting that include electronic transmission of results amid prevalent hacking. He would prefer there is enough time for INEC to master exclusive electronic voting before it is put to use, which cannot happen now. He seems to have a case there. The President also does not want fusion of votes of political parties that have not merged. He may want political parties to merge and promote true multiparty democracies based on distinct manifestos as against the current practice that are devoid of ideology that inspire defections.

Other areas of concern is ECOWAS protocol which does not make for any amendment less than 90 days to the day of the elections.

And so, given those observations and the fact that the current electoral act sired by opposition PDP which claims credible elections in 2015, I think there should be no qualm for its use in 2019. But if wishes were horses, I would have preferred a situation where the two arms of government should come together and single out the card reader for inclusion in the electoral act. This is because INEC has already mastered the use of card reader and the only draw back is its lack of legalization.

What was your reaction to Gov El-Rufai’s committee’s recommendations to the ruling party on restructuring?

Though Governor El-Rufai is a member of Northern States Governors Forum, a member of the ruling party and may have the ears of the President, I do not think the committee consulted the North on this serious issues of far reaching reforms of the polity that include recommendations for resource control, scrapping of local government, merger of some states and introduction of state police. That report cannot be outcome of consultations across the North. This is because the term restructuring means different things to different people, and those who want restructuring that will allow different sections to develop at different pace are those who want unbridled inequality to push the country to a tipping point.  (The Sun)

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Scores Killed In Fresh Boko Haram Attack On Army Location |The Republican News

Olaleye Aluko, Abuja

Boko Haram terrorists, in what appears to be an unending onslaught on locations of the Nigerian Army, on Wednesday evening attacked the troops’ base in Damasak, Borno State, resulting in a heavy gunfire which lasted for several hours.

The army has confirmed the attack, saying troops of 145 Battalion in Damasak, withstood the insurgents and killed scores of them in the firefight.

The army was, however, silent on the number of casualties sustained on the side of the troops.

Damasak is a town in the Mobbar Local Government Area, some 146 Kilometres from Maiduguri, the state capital.

It will be recalled that the Boko Haram insurgents only last week attacked troops’ location in Gudumbali in the Guzamala LGA and Baga in the Kukawa LGA, resulting in an undisclosed number of casualties on both sides.

The army’s Director of Public Relations and Information, Brig. Gen. Texas Chukwu, on Thursday confirmed that “many Boko Haram terrorists” were killed in the attack on troops’ location in Damasak.

He said, “Troops of 145 Battalion in Damasak engaged the Boko Haram terrorists who came to attack their location at about 6pm on Wednesday. This resulted into a fierce battle.

“The troops engaged and subdued the terrorists in Damasak following a superior firepower. The troops’ aggressive posture, tactics and marksmanship resulted in the neutralising of many Boko Haram terrorists.

“Consequently, the army wishes to state that the fight against Boko Haram terrorists in the North-East part of the country is yielding a positive result.

“We, therefore, advise members of the public, particularly residents of the affected areas, to go about their legitimate businesses as the army will continue to protect lives and property of citizens at all times.”   (Punch)

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Buhari Doesn’t Bother Paying Terrorists To Secure Girls’ Freedom – Femi Adesina

Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina

 

 

Eniola Akinkuotu, Abuja

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, says only God can say when abducted Dapchi girl, Leah Sharibu, will be released by Boko Haram.

Adesina said this on Tuesday during a live programme on Channels Television.

He said, “For how much longer? I think that question can only be answered by God but I believe God is interested in that young girl and will ensure that she is preserved and at least by the time that clip is verified, one will be sure that it is her actually and once that is determined, we should all be glad that she is alive. When will she return? By the grace of God, the government is working on it and we believe she will be back.”

The President’s spokesman said Buhari saw nothing wrong in paying terrorists ransom.

He said if need be, he would pay ransom to secure the release of persons in captivity.

Adesina, however, faulted a report by the United Nations that some money was paid for the release of some Dapchi girls, insisting that the organisation got its facts wrong.

He added, “One thing we should always remember as Nigerians is that early in the life of the administration, the President had said on the Chibok girls before the Dapchi incident happened that whatever it took to rescue them, he would do, including paying. He is on record to have said that.

“It baffles me each time that controversy comes up. I remember the President said in 2015 that we would get these girls back even if it meant paying. So, if a President of the country has made that declaration, what then is the fuss?

“Payments are made all over the world even though countries may never admit.”

When asked how long it would take for security agencies to verify the authenticity of the audio clip released on Monday in which Sharibu was heard pleading for her rescue, Adesina said he could not say but it should not take long.

“It is within the purview of the Department of State Services to do that but it should not take long Left to the President, he wants her back today,” he added.

On whether the Presidency was keeping in touch with the family of the abducted girl, Adesina argued that it was not the responsibility of the President.

He maintained that it ought to be the job of the local government chairman or the state government under whose jurisdiction the abduction took place.

The President’s spokesman also said it was the duty of Non-Governmental Organisations to provide succour to the families of abducted persons but sadly many of them preferred to politicise matters and engage in protests.

Adesina added, “I expect the Yobe State Government to be in touch with the family to grant her some succour. It is not purely a Presidency matter. In Nigeria,  people expect the Presidency to do everything. The local government and state government should be in touch with the family.

“That is why you have NGOs. They should do this instead of engaging in agitations and politicising the matter. Those NGOs and agencies and organisations can also do something for the families.”

Asked to speak on the alleged forgery of a National Youth Service Corps exemption certificate by the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, the President’s spokesman said the NYSC should be given ample time to conduct a proper investigation.

“It is not how long but how well,” he said when asked why the investigation was taking long.

Asked if the Presidency shared the view of the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), that Adeosun could hold a government position without undergoing the mandatory NYSC exercise,  Adesina responded in the negative.

He said Sagay expressed a personal opinion.

The President’s spokesman, however, said Sagay’s input was not needed in this case as the matter did not border on corruption.

Adesina added, “It is his personal opinion. It was a personal comment. It is not the position of the government and Prof. Sagay has a right to his opinion.

“It will not be Prof. Sagay’s position to advise on that matter because it is not a corruption matter so to speak.”

In her reaction, however, a former Minister of Education, Mrs Oby Ezekwesili, berated Adesina for smiling while speaking on the abduction of Sharibu and for also failing to give precise answers.

Ezekwesili, who is the Co-Convener of the Bring Back Our Girls group, said this in a series of tweets on her official Twitter handle.

“Who else listened to the President’s media aide Femi Adesina, find anything worthy to laugh about while speaking about abducted children and their parents?

“A spokesperson that never has facts on hot-button issues — ‘I believe’, “I expect’, ‘some agency not presidency’. Na REAL wa (sic).”  (Punch)

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Nigerian Government Paid Huge Ransom For Release Of Dapchi Girls – UN Report

Adelani Adepegba, Abuja

 

The United Nations has said that the Federal Government paid a huge ransom to Boko Haram for the release of the abducted Dapchi schoolgirls in March 2018.

The government had denied reports that it paid millions of Euros for the release of the girls, noting that the hostages were released in exchange for detained Boko Haram commanders.

But the UN report stated that ransom from abductions, donations from charity groups and the cash economy were fueling the bloody activities of the Boko Haram and other terrorist groups in the Lake Chad Basin region.

These were contained in the 22nd Report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team, pursuant to resolution 2368 (2017) concerning Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and associated individuals and entities.

The report said the number of doctrinally based non-governmental organisations sending funds to local terrorist groups was growing, and the Member States were concerned that radicalisation was increasing the threat level in the Sahel.

The report, which was submitted to the Security Council Committee said, “Boko Haram and the Islamic State West Africa Province have had a similar impact in their areas of control, including the Lake Chad basin.

“The predominance in the region of the cash economy, without controls, is conducive to terrorist groups funded by extortion, charitable donations, smuggling, remittances and kidnapping.”

It added, “In Nigeria, 111 schoolgirls from the town of Dapchi were kidnapped on 18 February 2018 and released by ISWAP on 21 March in exchange for a large ransom payment.”

The report was signed by Edmund Fitton-Brown, Coordinator, Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team and Kairat Umarov, Chair, Security Council Committee.

The UN Security Council committee on al Qaeda sanctions blacklisted and imposed sanctions on the Islamist militant group Boko Haram in 2014 after the insurgents kidnapped more than 200 Chibok schoolgirls.

The designation, which came into effect after no objections were raised by the Security Council’s 15 members, subjected Boko Haram to UN sanctions, including an arms embargo, asset freeze and travel ban.   (Punch)

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BREAKING: No Dime Was Paid To Free Dapchi Girls, FG Refutes UN Report |RN

  The Minister of Information and culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed

 

Olusola Fabiyi, Abuja

The Federal Government has insisted that it did not pay any ransom to secure the release of the Dapchi girls.

In a statement issued in Ilorin, Kwara State, on Thursday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, challenged anyone who has any evidence of payment to publish such.

Related: Nigerian Government Paid Huge Ransom For Release Of Dapchi Girls – UN Report

”It is not enough to say that Nigeria paid a ransom, little or huge. There must be a conclusive evidence to support such a claim.

“Without that, the claim remains what it is: a mere conjecture,” the minister said.

A report released by the United Nations had claimed that the Federal Government paid a huge ransom to Boko Haram for the release of the abducted Dapchi schoolgirls in March 2018.   (Punch)

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Police Parade Commander, 21 Others Involved In Chibok Girls’ Kidnap |RN

BOKO HARAM COMMANDER

 

Christopher Oji and Timothy Olarewaju, Maiduguri

Boko Haram terrorist commander who spearheaded the kidnap of over 200 secondary schoolgirls in Chibok, Borno State, in 2014 and 21 other members of the group have been arrested.

He was also responsible for over 50 suicide bombings within Maiduguri, Borno State, and Adamawa State, and the invasion of Bama and Gwoza.

His gang was also responsible for several attacks, ambush and killing of thousands of Nigerians, including security agents and civilians, in Borno and other North-East states of Nigeria.

BOKO-HARM-KIDNAPPERS

 

Recovered from the suspects were 11 AK-47 rifles and other weapons.

A senior police officer said, irked by the persistent suicide bombings and killing of residents in the North East by terrorist i recent times, Inspector-General of Police Ibrahim Idris equipped and deployed special operatives of the IGP Intelligence Response Team (IRT) led by DCP Abba Kyari with enough technical intelligence to Maiduguri to trace and arrest the terrorists responsible for suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks in the North East.

The force public relations officer, Moshood Jimoh, said: “After a lot of planning and use of advanced technology, between July 4 and 9, IRT special teams, with support from SARS/CRACK teams of Borno State Command, swung into action and eventually succeeded in arresting 22 confirmed Boko Haram terrorists (BHT) who confessed to several suicide bomb explosions within Borno and Adamawa states, kidnapping of the Chibok schoolgirl, and invasion of Bama and Gwoza, among many other crimes. The suspects narrated various roles each of them played. Among them are the commanders and coordinators of suicide bombings in Borno State, Coordinator and members of the Chibok schoolgirls’ kidnapping, ambushes on security agents, logistics suppliers and their receivers of gold, international currencies, cows, etc.

 

“The suspects are Modu, aka Abor, who confessed to being one of the Boko Haram commanders who coordinated and led the kidnapping of the Chibok schoolgirls in 2014 and several attacks on Bama, Gwoza and Mubi towns in Borno and Adamawa states; Mohammed, who confessed to have participated in the Chibok schoolgirls’ kidnapping and coordinating suicide bombings; Jidda, who confessed to have participated in the Chibok schoolgirls’ kidnapping and coordinating suicide bombings; Wardi, who also confessed to participating in the Chibok schoolgirls’ kidnapping and coordinating suicide bombings; Alhaji Jidda, who confessed to have participated in the Chibok schoolgirls’ kidnapping and coordinating suicide bombings and others.

“Ajiri Bu confessed to having participated in the Chibok schoolgirls’ kidnapping and arranging suicide bombings, and others who played one role or the other.

“The suspects have confessed to be masterminds of several attacks and suicide bomb blasts in Baga Road, 3-3, Custom, Bulunkutu, Post Office, Muna, Kasuwan Shanu, Dalori IDP camp, etc, in Maiduguri and many suicide attacks in Adamawa State, killing of thousands of innocent Nigerians, including ambush on security agents and civilians in the many parts of northeast Nigeria.

Eleven rifles and many other weapons and exhibits were recovered from the deadly terrorist group.”

Moshood said the suspects were helping the authorities with useful information to arrest other fleeing Boko Haram commanders.  (The Sun)

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Nigerian Army Denies Report On Missing Soldiers After Attack By Boko Haram

By Abisola Olasupo

Nigeria Army Monday said the reports that many soldiers went missing after their post was attacked by Boko Haram insurgents were not true.

An AFP reports Sunday said hundreds of soldiers after the attack, a second in days, on a remote military base which held about 734 troops in northeast Nigeria.

The base is reported to be new and the troops arrived there only recently from Lagos.

The reports quoted an unnamed military source.

“Boko Haram terrorists attacked troops of the 81st Division Forward Brigade at Jilli village in Geidam district. The terrorists came in huge numbers around 7:30 pm (1830 GMT) and overran the base after a fierce battle that lasted until 9:10 pm,” the unnamed military source told AFP.

“The base had 734 troops. Currently, the commander of the base and 63 soldiers have made it to Geidam (60 kilometres away) while the remaining 670 are being expected,” he said, without elaborating on their possible fate.

“We don’t know if there were any casualties among the troops. That will be known later.”

Although it acknowledged that there was a gun battle between the insurgents and troops and that the soldiers had an initial difficulty, the Army said none of its troops was captured, calling the reports “misleading”.

“The Nigerian Army wishes to state categorically that the report is not only untrue but misleading as the said report is blown out of proportion by the media,” Army spokesman Texas Chukwu said in a statement.

“The Nigeria Army wishes to state that there was an attempted attack on troops at Kwakwa and Chingori communities in Bama area of Borno State by suspected Boko Haram Terrorists as a result of difficult terrain where our vehicles bogged down.

“The terrorists also attempted to cart away troops operational vehicles but were successfully repelled by our gallant troops with the support of the Nigerian Air Force. About 22 members of Boko Haram terrorists were neutralised while several others escaped with gunshot wounds.   (The Guardian)

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