Newswire: Over 100 kidnapped girls in Nigeria reach five years in captivity

Demonstrations in Nigeria in support of girls

Apr. 8, 2019 (GIN) – The 112 girls kidnapped from a boarding school in Nigeria and still being held by Boko Haram will have spent five years in captivity if they are not released by next Sunday.

That was the sad message released by members of the Bring Back Our Girls movement who have been urging more action by the Nigerian government to locate and free the girls.

Over 200 students of the Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State were abducted by the terrorists on the night of April 14, 2014.

Over a hundred of them were released following pressure from the federal government, the intervention of activist Nigerians and the International Red Cross.

The girls have already spent 1,819 days in Boko Haram captivity. “This is not a date we ever imagined we would come to”, they wrote on a social media platform.

Four of the young women who managed to escape from the kidnappers now study at Dickenson College in Pennsylvania. The students are all on full scholarship funded by the Nigerian government’s Victim Support Fund and the Murtala Mohammed Foundation.

Meanwhile, in Washington, DC, a drama entitled “The Chibok Girls: Our Story” will be presented at the CrossCurrents festival on selected dates in April and May. Nigerian poet-dramatist Soyinka, now 84, will appear alongside Nigeria’s Renegade Theatre for the performance.

“Chibok Girls” was written and directed by Wole Oguntokun, Artistic Director of Renegade Theatre and Founder of Theatre Republic.

In a related development, the Nigeria Security Tracker, a project of the Council on Foreign Relations’ Africa program, documents and maps violence in Nigeria that is motivated by political, economic, or social grievances. The tracker can be viewed at the website:

Newswire : Thousands uprooted from safe haven now desperate for food, water and shelter

Nigerian refugees

Mar. 4, 2019 (GIN) – An estimated 30,000 refugees have been uprooted by officials in Cameroon and Nigeria this month and sent to known hotbeds of insurgents including Boko Haram on the Nigerian side of the border.

Humanitarian groups including Action against Hunger are questioning the wisdom of forcing refugees to move to the city of Rann in Borno state, the epicentre of the decade-long insurgency that has killed more than 27,000.

“Reports from sources on the ground indicate that these people are in dire need of aid,” a UN briefing note stated.

There were also questions about whether the returns complied with international law on refugees, which require returns to be voluntary, the Agence France Press reported.

International and national humanitarian organizations abandoned Rann in January due to ongoing insecurity.

Shashwat Saraf, the country director of Action Against Hunger in Nigeria, said it was “difficult to imagine” it being safe for anyone to return. “Alarming” levels of severe acute malnutrition were found among children under five, he said.

The mass movement of internally displaced people comes as President Muhammadu Buhari takes office for a second term, having been declared the winner of a national election marred by mechanical errors with the voter card readers, a weeklong postponement, reports of vote-buying, and extremist attacks in the northeast.

Voter turnout was at a historic low at 35.6 percent of the population.

“The numbers alone are indicting,” said Adewunmi Emoruwa of The Election Network. “We have witnessed a record number of cancelled votes – more than double the numbers from the previous poll – and which is only a reflection of the widespread irregularities across every part of the country. We all observed as thugs had a field day unleashing terror on demographically profiled voters, which led to the suppressed turnout that has been recorded.”

Buhari won in 19 states – including the two most populous, Lagos and Kano – while the opposition candidate, Atiku Abubakar, was victorious in 17.

The two men are both northern Muslims in their 70s who have long been in politics. Buhari is seen by many as a strict, inflexible but personally incorruptible figure, while many hoped Atiku, a wealthy businessman and former vice-president, would enact policies to help boost Nigeria’s struggling economy.The opposition has rejected the vote outcome.

Newswire : Young medical worker executed by Boko Haram caliphate in Nigeria

Hauwa Liman, aide worker

Oct. 15, 2018 (GIN) – “We urge you: spare and release these women,” begged Patricia Danzi, director of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Africa. .. “Like all those abducted, they are not part of any fight.” “They are daughters and sisters, one is a mother — women with their futures ahead of them, children to raise, and families to return to.” Nonetheless, the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), a self-declared caliphate of Boko Haram, rejected their entreaties and executed 24 year old Hauwa Liman, an aide worker. The insurgents further vowed to make another captive, schoolgirl Leah Sharibu, a slave for life. In a video seen by some journalists, Hauwa was forced to kneel down, with her hands tied inside a white hijab, and was then shot at a close range. A midwife with ICRC, Saifura Ahmed, who had been abducted at the same time, was executed by Boko Haram in September. ISWAP said the two women were killed because they were Murtads (apostates) by the group because they were once Muslims that abandoned their Islam when they chose to work with the Red Cross. The 24-year-old nurse and student of Health Education at the University of Maiduguri was among the three aid workers abducted in an attack on a heavily-guarded military facility in the small town of Rann, Borno State on March 1, 2018. The insurgents also abducted Alice Loksha Ngaddah, a nurse and mother of two, and Saifura Husseini Ahmed, a midwife. Four soldiers and four policemen were also killed. “From today, Sharibu and Ngaddah are now our slaves,” it said. “Based on our doctrines, it is now lawful for us to do whatever we want to do with them.” Regrets from Nigerian Information Minister Lai Mohammed did not persuade some Nigerian citizens that the government had done all it could possibly do to free the women. Dr Dípò (@OgbeniDipo), writing on The Nigerian Guardian, commented: “If she was a child of the elite, perhaps there would be more urgency and this wouldn’t happen.” Dr Chima Matthew Amadi (@AMADICHIMA) wrote: Hauwa Leman executed by ISWAP according to reports. We had 10 days to save her life but we were busy. Busy with politics; busy with useless Executive Order; busy with nothing. Sorry Hauwa, Nigeria failed you, like we failed Anita yesterday and countless others.” Meanwhile, a new entry into the political race for the presidency is Obiageli Ezekwesili. In 2014, Ms Ezekwesili, a graduate of Harvard and a founding director of Transparency International, captured the world’s attention with #BringBackOurGirls, a campaign to rescue 276 schoolgirls who had been kidnapped in Chibok, Nigeria. In announcing a presidential bid on Oct. 7, the former World Bank official now hopes to upend establishment politics in Africa’s most populous country.

Newswire : Nigerian ‘unsung hero’ tapped for major U. N. award

Zannah Mustapha.jpg
Zannah Mustapha, surrounded by children

Oct. 2, 2017 (GIN) – Zannah Mustapha, a champion for the rights of displaced children growing up amid violence in north-eastern Nigeria, is the 2017 winner of the Nansen Refugee Award, U.N. officials announced this week.

In the first online Facebook video of the U.N. agency, long-time journalist Yvonne Ndege recounted how Mr. Mustapha established the Future Prowess Islamic Foundation which houses a school for orphan children of both Boko Haram and the security forces and widows in Maiduguri – the epicenter of the Boko Haram insurgency.

Over a decade, the school has grown from 36 students to 540. In 2016, Mr. Mustapha opened a second school just a few kilometers away from the first. Eighty-eight children, all of whom have fled conflict in the region, walk through its classroom doors each day.

The schools provide children affected by violence a free education, as well as free meals, uniforms and health care.

“Education is one of the most powerful tools for helping refugee children overcome the horrors of violence and forced displacement.” said the U.N.’s refugee commissioner Filippo Grandi. “The work Mustapha and his team are doing is of the utmost importance. With this award, we honor his vision and service.”

“This school promotes peace,” Mr. Mustapha said. “It is a place where every child matters,” adding: “These children shall be empowered in such a way that they can stand on their own.”

In addition to his education work, Mr. Mustapha was instrumental in setting up a cooperative for widows, providing much-needed support for nearly 600 women in Maiduguri.

A lawyer turned property developer in Borno state, Mr. Mustapha also took part in mediating between Boko Haram and the Nigerian government.

Mr. Mustapha will take home prize money of $150,000, funded by the Norwegian Refugee Council, the Swiss government, the Norwegian government and the IDEA Foundation, to fund a project that complements their existing work.

A Ugandan group – International Youth Organization to Transform Africa – was among the runners-up. Its mission is to transform the lives of young refugees, particularly girls, through education.

Newswire : Nigerian leader, ending 3 month hospital stay, returns with fiery speech

President Buhari of Nigeria
Nigerian President Buhari
Aug. 21, 2017 (GIN) – After a long absence due to ill health, President Muhammadu Buhari returned to Nigeria pledging to renew the fight against terror group Boko Haram and end a rash of ethnic violence which he blamed on “political mischief makers.”

Buhari, 74, looking thin and frail, referred to a movement of Biafrans seeking an independent region in the southwest. The group had crossed a “national red line,” he said. The separatists were “daring to question our collective existence as a nation. This is a step too far.”

Fifty years ago, the people of “Igbo-land”, waged a futile war of secession against the well-armed Nigerian government, citing the persecution of Igbos and control over oil production in the Niger Delta.

The Federal Military Government imposed a blockade which led to severe famine. Over the two and half years of war, between 500,000 and 2 million Biafran civilians perished from starvation.

While the Igbos comprise one of the three largest ethnic groups, they have fewer states than the Hausas in the north and the Yorubas in the south-west, resulting in a smaller budget allocation.

This, some feel, puts them behind the other regions. The south-east has not been at the forefront of Nigeria’s development and none of its cities are major economic hubs.

Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, has called on his followers to boycott local and national elections scheduled for Nov. 18. Arrested in October 2015 for allegedly intending to levy war against Nigeria, he faces a trial on charges ranging from treasonable felony, terrorism and illegal possession of firearms.

Meanwhile, many Nigerians were disappointed that Buhari failed to comment on his prolonged health issues, but no reasons were given for his absence or the diagnosis.

Solomon Okoduwa told a reporter: “As a leader and the number one citizen, he should be able to tell his subjects the kind of headache, the kind of malaria, the kind of fever he went to treat in the UK that we cannot treat in Nigeria,” he said.

Failure to disclose the nature of his health issues is widely seen as an indication that he has something to hide.

Nigerians will be watching whether he is going to make a third medical trip abroad this year. If that were to happen, calls for his resignation will surely be expressed even louder.

No clues yet as to Trump’s Policy for Africa, but theories abound

Young African Leaders in (YALI) DC, an Obama program on the chopping block.

( Information Network) – If U.S. President Donald Trump has an Africa policy in the works, he’s keeping the details close to his chest. So far, there is neither an assistant secretary of state for Africa nor an ambassador. The incumbent secretary, Linda Thomas Greenfield, retires on March 10.
Peter Pham, vice-president and Africa director of the Atlantic Council in Washington, DC. Is reportedly seeking a position. In a strategy paper prepared for the Trump administration, Pham proposed an initiative he calls “earned engagement.”
The US, he says, should grant diplomatic recognition only to governments with legitimate sovereign control over their countries. Somalia, for example, would not be among those countries having had 15 transitional governments following the collapse of the Siad Barre regime in 1991. None of these were recognized by Republican or Democratic administrations.
Recognition might also be withdrawn from the Democratic Republic of Congo if President Joseph Kabila fails to honor his commitment to retire this year after elections.
More resources would be channeled into Africom, according to Pham, not only to address insecurity directly, but also to continue to beef up African militaries.
Other clues as to the President’s Africa plans appeared last month in a New York Times article which revealed a retreat from development and humanitarian goals while pushing business opportunities across the continent.
New executive orders are reportedly being prepared with drastic funding cuts to U.N. peacekeeping operations – now almost a third of which are funded by the US – the International Criminal Court and the United Nations Population Fund, which oversees maternal and reproductive health programs.
Anton du Plessis, head of the Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies fears that Trump will “securitize” US policy, funding and engagement in Africa, focusing heavily on security problems such as Boko Haram, while ignoring efforts to create stability in the long term through democracy, good governance and sustainable development.
Among such efforts would be one of former President Barack Obama’s most successful programs – the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) which brings several hundred young African professionals and entrepreneurs to the US for six weeks each summer.
“It is possible that Trump’s term in office will surprise us on Africa,” observed former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson. “Republican administrations have outperformed on this front before. President Bush certainly did, and his two landmark initiatives – PEPFAR and the Millennium Challenge Corporation – remain extremely popular.”
But given the absence of any serious White House interest in Africa, Secretary Rex Tillerson, with limited knowledge of Africa having dealt mainly with corrupt and authoritarian leaders as head of ExxonMobil, may become the key American player on Africa.

Boko Haram using more children as “suicide bombers”

Written By NewsOne Staff

Women in Nigeria

Nigerian Women

One in every five “suicide bomber” used by Boko Haram in the past two years has been a child, underscoring the heartless nature of the religious extremist group,
Most of the bombers were girls, starting at the age of 8. The group’s attacks have jumped elevenfold in West Africa in the past year, writes the news outlet: Suicide bombings have spread beyond Nigeria’s borders, with an increasing number of deadly attacks carried out by children with explosives hidden under their clothes or in baskets.
“The use of children, especially girls, as so-called suicide bombers has become a defining and alarming feature of this conflict,” Laurent Duvillier, regional spokesman for UNICEF, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on Tuesday.
There were 44 child “suicide bombings” in West Africa last year, up from four in 2014, UNICEF said, mostly in Cameroon and Nigeria.
It has also been two years since the kidnapping of 200 young girls by Boko Haram from a school in northeast Nigeria.
According to the US military, since Boko Haram’s six-year campaign to “set up an emirate” in northeastern Nigeria began, the group has killed around 15,000 people.