Showing posts with label Violence. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Violence. Show all posts

Friday, July 12, 2024

Nigeria violated human rights during police brutality protests

A regional African court has ruled that Nigerian authorities violated the rights of protesters during mass demonstrations against police brutality in 2020.

The protests, dubbed End SARS, called for disbanding the Special Anti-Robbery Squad after allegations of torture, extortion and extrajudicial killings.

A coalition of human rights activists and organizations sued in late 2021. Applicants Obianuju Udeh, Perpetual Kamsi and Dabiraoluwa Adeyinka alleged severe human rights violations by state agents as they put down the street protests.

In its verdict issued Wednesday, a three-member panel of the Court of Justice - linked with the Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS - determined that Nigerian authorities had used disproportionate force in their response to the protests.

The panel said security agents had violated the African Charter on Human and People's Rights as well as several international human rights laws.

Bolaji Gabari, lead counsel representing the applicants, welcomed the verdict.

"Justice is finally achieved and obtained. ... What we were really looking for was to get an affirmation that this really happened," Gabari said. "This judgment just affirms what we have been saying. The other applicants that came forward initially considered their safety and withdrew."

The ECOWAS court ordered the Nigerian government to compensate each applicant with $6,400, or about 10 million naira; to investigate the rights abuses; and to show progress on holding offenders responsible within six months.

The court also stated that the use of live rounds against protesters at the Lekki toll gate on October 20, 2020, caused fear, and that the Nigerian government did not present evidence refuting those allegations.

Authorities have not responded to the court ruling, and a national police spokesperson did not take VOA's calls for comment.

But human rights groups like Amnesty International and some activists welcomed the court’s decision as a significant victory for human rights in Nigeria.

Nelson Olanipekun, a human rights lawyer and founder of Citizens' Gavel, a civic organization that seeks to improve the pace of justice delivery through the use of technology, said, "The ECOWAS court judgment came at a right time, especially now that Nigerians are going through tough times. And there's also a regional move where Africans largely are recognizing their power as citizens. For example, what happened in Kenya — people demanding accountability from their government — was also similar to what happened during End SARS."

Olanipekun said, however, that more work needs to be done.

"What is the next move? Since End SARS, even though the police have tried, there has been reoccurrence of incidents of police brutality in the country," he said. "It has not abated. There's no sufficient accountability and oversight over government organizations. Also, the Nigerian court has been weak, inefficient and corrupt. They're not independent enough."

Thousands of young Nigerians poured into the streets in October 2020 to demand the dissolution of the SARS unit, but the protest soon expanded to call for better governance before it was forcefully quelled on October 20.

Last October, Amnesty International said at least 15 End SARS protesters languished in a Lagos jail while activists marked the third anniversary of the protests. 

By Timothy Obiezu, VOA

Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Escalating violence in northeast Nigeria causes despair among displaced populations

The worsening violence in northeast of the country has left internally displaced persons in Borno state stranded in temporary accommodations. Recent bomb attacks have further complicated their hopes of returning home, prolonging their displacement.


Monday, July 1, 2024

At least 30 dead, more than 100 injured after multiple suicide bombings in Nigeria

At least 30 people are dead and more than 100 were left injured after multiple suicide bombings were carried out at various locations in Nigeria over the weekend, sources said Sunday.

The first attack on Saturday was carried out by a woman, Alhaji Mohammed Shehu Timta, the Emir of Gwoza, told journalists.

"The first suicide attack was masterminded by an unidentified woman who sneaked with two children into a wedding reception of a popular young man in Gwoza; she detonated her Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), killing herself and many people," the Emir said.

"A few minutes after, another suicide bomber sneaked into a burial ceremony ... nearby and detonated improvised explosive devices, and as [I] am talking to you now, the third explosion just occurred [a] few minutes ago with more casualties,” the Emir added.

Nigerian President Bola Tinubu condemned the attacks, calling them desperate acts of terror that showed the pressure mounted against terrorists and the success achieved in inhibiting their ability to launch offensives.

Tinubu said his administration is taking necessary measures to secure the safety of citizens. He also vowed to bring those responsible to justice.

No group has claimed responsibility for the bombings.

By James Bwala, ABC News

Friday, June 28, 2024

Abuja estate residents live in fear over frequent attacks by kidnappers

On the night of 21 April, Oliver was brutally killed at Leisure Court Estate in the Sabon Lugbe area of Abuja, where he worked as a gateman. His bullet-riddled body was recovered the following morning by the residents.

“He saw the kidnappers attempting to enter a building, and he shot at them. Unknown to him, others were behind him. They shot him from the back,” Kayode Imole, a resident of the estate, told PREMIUM TIMES.

A security man in the estate, who pleaded anonymity, said Oliver stood no chance against the invaders because he was armed with a locally-made gun with one bullet. “After firing the bullet, there was nothing else to do,” he lamented.

Not first time

The incident was not the first this year in the beautiful estate surrounded by a bush. But it was the first in which a person was killed.

According to a resident, the same night the security man was killed, a woman and her daughter were kidnapped. Two young girls and an adult were also kidnapped10 days later on 30 April.

As in other cases of kidnapping recorded in the estate, the woman and her daughter were released by their abductors after the payment of ransom.

In the first incident this year, recorded on 15 January, a resident of the estate, Olaitan Tayo (not real name), was kidnapped while returning from work at about 10.15 a.m.

That night, four men with AK-47 guns ambushed Mr Tayo as he drove home in his blue Lexus ES SUV. They fired repeatedly at his car, dragged him out of it and marched him into the bush, leaving the vehicle behind.

Narrating his ordeal to PREMIUM TIMES, Mr Tayo said he and the kidnappers trekked in the bush until 5 a.m. when they arrived at a cave close to a military checkpoint around Kuje.

“Before I got to that spot that night, they attempted to stop two cars. Olanrewaju (whose family members were later kidnapped in their home) was driving one of the cars, but he was able to escape. They were shooting at my car; I thought they were security men at first. One of the bullets went through the roof of my car,” Mr Tayo narrated.

“My car eventually stopped after a bullet hit the engine, but they continued to shoot at the tyres. They marched me into the bush, and we trekked for over seven hours till we got to the cave around five in the morning.

“I was the only one with them in the cave, and I tried to negotiate with them. They did not assault me. We saw some herders passing with cows from the cave, but they couldn’t see us to tell you how thick the bush was. The cave is just a 15-minute drive from the military checkpoint.”

Mr Tayo said his kidnappers demanded N50 million as ransom but later accepted N15 million. “My friends and family raised the money,” he stated.

Mr Olanrewaju, who escaped the night Mr Tayo was kidnapped, was attacked in his house on 1 May. The kidnappers took away his 10-year-old daughter, another 15-year-old girl and a friend of his staying with him after arriving in Abuja to take a new job with an NGO. Mr Olanrewaju said that the friend was to assume duty the following day.

“We were inside around 10:30 p.m. when they attempted to break the gate. I used the walkie-talkie provided to communicate with the residents and guards, but no one could come. They (kidnappers) cut the electric wire and entered the gate. They couldn’t open our door, so they started breaking the window.

“I opened the door because I thought if they got angry, they would shoot and kill. I opened the door and prostrated immediately. But they told me to stand up and asked for my family.”

Mr Olanrewaju said the kidnappers took away his phone and later used it to demand ransom for the release of his family members. “Currently, I am gathering the money. I want to sell my cars and house,” he said.

According to a resident, the kidnappers consistently increased in number each time they attacked the estate.

They were four, with two of them carrying guns, when they struck in January. But when they returned in April, there were six of them, four of them bearing arms. On their 1 May visit, there were eight with all welding guns.

Ransom payment

PREMIUM TIMES they learnt that residents have paid over N30 million to secure the release of kidnap victims since January.

Police response

Following the 21 April bloody attack, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Commissioner of Police, Beneath Igweh, led some officers to the estate.

After combing the bush around the estate for about three hours, the police officers returned with two individuals who they paraded as suspects.

But ten days after the visit of the police, the kidnappers struck again and went away with three persons from the estate. Residents said the police did not respond to the latest incident.

Some residents complained that the police and the estate management also did not want the incidents reported in the media.

“We wanted to invite the press after the last attack, but the management told us not to,” a resident said, who also preferred anonymity to avoid victimisation.

The FCT police spokesperson, Josephine Adeh, did not respond to several calls and messages this reporter sent to her mobile telephone on the incidents at Leisure Court Estate.


The constant attacks have left the residents feeling insecure. Some said they were considering relocating from the estate.

“I just moved, and I have advised my friend to do the same,” a house owner in the estate, Mr Raphael, told this reporter.

However, for many residents, the decision to move house is complex in Abuja.

“Where will I go? I bought this house to stop wandering around,” Mr Imole said.

N2.5 million service charge

Some residents said the estate is porous to attack because it has no fence. They blame the management for their vulnerability to attacks.

This newspaper learnt that residents paid N2.5 million to the estate management as an “infrastructure/service fee” for electricity, security, perimeter fencing, road and other provisions. Yet, they still need to make individual arrangements for security.

“Except for Phase 1, other areas do not have gates. Phase 4 is the biggest, but the gate has been abandoned for over a year. There is no fence or security outpost.

“Also, look at our gate in Phase 1 here. We requested removing the bamboo, but it has not been completed since then.”

Another resident, Joseph Sunny, urged the police to allow security guards in the estate to be properly armed.

“How can you with a local gun face someone with AK 47 or AK 49?” he said.

Estate management reacts

Just before the reporter filed this report, a member of the estate management, who gave his name only as Mr Dimeji, told PREMIUM TIMES on the phone that the police had deployed some officers to the estate. At the same time, the residents have hired more security guards.

The residents hope those steps will check the attacks on their beautiful estate.

By Ademola Popoola, Premium Times

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Nigerian farmers abandon farms after attacks, sending food prices higher

Hassan Ya'u, a 42-year-old maize and sesame seed farmer in Nigeria's northern Katsina state, was tending to his crops early this month when dozens of armed men on motorcycles rode towards his plot and started shooting at close range.

Ya'u and fellow farmer Musa Nasidi managed to escape, but at least 50 people - many of them farmers working their fields at the time - were killed in the attack in the latest in a series of deadly raids on farming areas.

An unknown number of people were abducted in the assault, which was carried out in broad daylight.
Ya'u and Nasidi said the gunmen had attacked their Kankara farming community because farmers had not paid a levy imposed by the armed gang.

Such raids are forcing many farmers to leave their fields, contributing to higher food prices and soaring inflation as Nigeria faces the worst cost of living crisis in a generation.

"They set ablaze my produce and took away foodstuff worth about 4 million naira ($2,739.73)," said Ya'u, who has sought refuge in Daura town, nearly 200 km (124 miles) from Kankara.

"I don't have access to my farm because bandits have taken control of the area. Everything has been ruined," added the father of 13 children who faces an uncertain future.

Armed gangs demand as much as three million naira per village, depending on the size, to allow farmers to work.

"The farmers are even forming vigilante groups to make sure they are able to access the farms but it is still very difficult," said Kabir Ibrahim, president of All Farmers Association of Nigeria.

Northern Nigeria produces the bulk of the country's staples like rice, yam and maize, but it is also its most unstable region, as armed kidnapping gangs attack and pillage villages in the northwest while Islamist militants cause havoc in the northeast.

Nasidi, 36, fled to near Katsina town after the Kankara attack.

He used to harvest about 400 bags of groundnuts, 80 bags of sesame seed and 200 bags of maize, he said, but now faces a bleak year after part of his 8.5-hectare farm was set ablaze by bandits.

"The situation is beyond our control and I was left with no choice other than to leave Kankara because our lives were in danger," Nasidi told Reuters.

A World Food Programme report on the outlook for acute food insecurity globally said Nigeria has joined the world's "hunger hotspots", which analysts attribute to insecurity in farming areas and high costs of seed, fertiliser, chemicals and diesel.

Lagos-based consultancy SBM Intelligence said 1,356 farmers in Nigeria were killed since 2020. This year, 137 deaths had been recorded, it said, adding that farming was becoming a dangerous occupation.

"The risk is very grave," said Confidence McHarry, SBM's lead security analyst, adding that gunmen also attacked farmers "on suspicion of collaborating with the military."

Defence spokesperson Major General Edward Buba said that with the rainy season under way, the military was prioritising farmers' security.

"The farmers union are keying into the farm protection plan of the armed forces to make the best of the rainy season," he said, without elaborating.

But for 22-year-old farmer Abdulaziz Gora in Zamfara state, next to Katsina, there is little hope of returning to his farm. He relocated to state capital Gusau after a violent attack on his village in May, abandoning his soybean and maize crops.

"Anyone caught there risks being kidnapped or killed," he said. 

By Ope Adetayo and Ahmed Kingimi, Reuters

Related story: Nigeria gunmen kill at least 25 in village raid, officials say

Monday, June 24, 2024

Gunmen invade Abuja estate, kill army general

Some armed persons attacked Sunshine Homes estate in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, during which they killed a retired brigadier general, Uwem Udokwere, the police have announced.

Abuja police spokesperson Josephine Adeh said the attack occurred at about 3 a.m. on Saturday.

“In response to the tragic and unprecedented attack at Sunshine homes estate by armed robbers, resulting in the untimely demise of one Brigadier General Uwem Harold Udokwere (rtd.) on June 22, 2024, at approximately 03:00 a.m, the Commissioner of Police, FCT, Benneth Igweh has promptly ordered a thorough and discreet investigation into the circumstances surrounding this regrettable event.

“Expressing profound condolences to the bereaved family, CP Benneth Igweh assures the family and the public of swift justice, with every effort in conduit to ensure the perpetrators of the atrocious act are apprehended and brought to justice,” Ms Adeh, a superintendent of police, wrote.

PREMIUM TIMES reports that Sunshine estate is in the Lokogoma area of Abuja, close to the city centre. It is largely occupied by middle-class people including senior government officials.

The latest incident adds to the concerns about insecurity in the Nigerian capital where there have been cases of kidnappings in different communities.

By Ademola Popoola, Premium Times

Seven dead, 100 kidnapped after attack in northern Nigeria

At least seven people were killed and 100 kidnapped on Saturday night when gunmen attacked a rural community in Nigeria’s northwestern Katsina state, residents and police said on Sunday, in the latest attack against residents in the north of the country.

State police spokesperson Abubakar Aliyu Sadiq confirmed the attack and the seven deaths, but would not say whether anyone was missing. He said police were investigating.

“The remaining men who did not flee are living in fear … and waiting to hear news about their abducted loved ones,” said Muhammad Sani, whose sister was abducted.

Residents said gunmen on motorbikes arrived in Maidabino village in the Danmusa local government area of Katsina, and started shooting sporadically, forcing residents to flee.

Hassan Aliyu told Reuters news agency by phone that the attack took residents by surprise and dozens of women and children were confirmed missing.

“They killed seven people, including burning two children,” Aliyu said. “They spent more than six hours destroying our properties.”

Auwalu Ismail, another resident, said the gunmen first blocked all roads leading to Maidabino before the attack.

“They burned down our shops, vehicles, and took away our livestock. They also kidnapped my wife and more than 100 women and children,” he said.

In recent years, such abductions have been concentrated in Nigeria’s northwest and central regions, where dozens of armed groups often target villagers and travellers for large ransoms.

In March, gunmen attacked a school in the northwestern state of Kaduna and kidnapped dozens of pupils as they were about to start the schoolday, according to local residents and authorities.

Last year, gunmen took more than 80 students in a raid on a school in the northwestern state of Kebbi. 

Al Jazeera

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Video - Gunmen kill 10 people and abduct several others in Nigeria’s Sokoto State

Police authorities confirmed the incident with witnesses saying the gunmen attacked with sophisticated firearms, shooting sporadically into the community. 


Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Nigeria gunmen kill at least 25 in village raid, officials say

At least 25 people have been killed and others abducted by gunmen in Nigeria’s northwestern Katsina state, authorities say.

Dozens of gunmen on motorbikes stormed Yargoje in Kankara late on Sunday, the state commissioner for security affairs, Nasiru Babangida Mu'azu, told BBC Hausa.

Attacks by armed gangs - referred to locally as bandits - in north-west and central Nigeria have become almost routine, with authorities seemingly powerless to stop them, despite claims by the government and security forces that they are working to end the widespread insecurity.

Residents told the BBC that dozens of gunmen on motorbikes rode into the community, shooting indiscriminately and looting shops before abducting an unspecified number of villagers.

“The people killed by bandits are more than 50, because some dead bodies are still being recovered from the bush," said a resident, who did not want to be named.

"They killed children, women and men, and kidnapped a huge amount of people. They injured more than 30 residents who are currently receiving treatment at the general hospital."

Another resident, Abdullahi Yunusa Kankara, told Reuters that he narrowly escaped the onslaught, which he said continued into the early hours of Monday.

“Our town has turned into a death zone. Almost every house in the village has fallen victim to this attack. More dead bodies were recovered this [Monday] morning," he said.

Surviving residents are trying to ascertain how many people have been abducted.

In December 2020, more than 300 pupils were kidnapped from a boys' secondary boarding school on the outskirts of Kankara by a gang of gunmen on motorcycles. They were later freed, a week after the Katsina state government confirmed they were in talks with the kidnappers.

In March this year, dozens of passengers were kidnapped in a broad daylight attack also in the same area of Katsina, the state where former Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari hails from.

By Chris Ewokor, BBC

Related story: At least 40 villagers shot dead in Nigeria

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

At least 160 kidnapped in hours-long deadly raid in Nigeria

Ten people were killed and 160 others, including children, were abducted during a raid by suspected Boko Haram militants on a remote village in north-central Nigeria, a local official told CNN on Monday.

The attack occurred in Kuchi village, Munya district, in Niger state, beginning at about 5:30 p.m. on Friday and lasting until 4:00 a.m. Saturday, according to district official Aminu Abdulhamid Najume.

Niger state, which borders Nigeria's capital Abuja, has experienced repeated kidnappings for ransom by armed groups, including mass abductions, in recent years.

Najume reported that about 300 gunmen arrived on motorbikes and stayed for several hours, making themselves at home before leaving with the abductees. "They made a fire to curb the cold because it was raining throughout that day," Najume said. "They cooked and made tea; they made Indomie (instant noodles) and spaghetti."

Some of those killed were members of a local vigilante group who confronted the attackers but were overpowered. Najume added that security forces had not yet started rescue operations. "The police visited Kuchi yesterday [Sunday] and left, nothing else."

A spokesperson for the Niger State Police Command did not respond to CNN's request for comment.

"This is not the first or second time Kuchi village has been attacked. This is the fifth time," Najume said, noting that the area frequently suffers from kidnappings for ransom. The kidnappers have not yet made any demands regarding the latest abduction, he said.

Amnesty International said in a post on social media platform X on Sunday that it was "deeply concerned by the abduction," criticizing Nigerian authorities for leaving "rural communities at the mercy of gunmen."

"Since 2021, gunmen have been consistently attacking Kuchi village and raping women and girls in their matrimonial homes," the agency stated.

"The invasion of the village by the gunmen is yet another indication of the Nigerian authorities' utter failure to protect lives," Amnesty added.

Nigeria's security forces have struggled for years to control insurgent groups in the north of the country.

The Kuchi abduction comes two months after 21 people, including a newlywed, were killed when gunmen described locally as 'bandits' stormed a market in Rafi, another affected district in Niger.

At least 137 schoolchildren were kidnapped(opens in a new tab) earlier in March in Niger's neighbouring Kaduna state but were later released after the kidnappers made an initial demand of 1 billion naira (over US$675,000) and threatened to kill them all if their demands were not met. 

By Nimi Princewill, CNN

Related stories: Video - Over 350 abductees rescued in Nigeria’s Borno state

Video - Gunmen abduct over 100 people in Zamfara state, Nigeria

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

At least 40 villagers shot dead in Nigeria

Armed men attacked remote villages in northcentral Nigeria, killing at least a dozen villagers during a late-night raid, authorities said Tuesday.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack which follows a similar pattern to yearslong violence in the region blamed on the fight for control over water and land between nomadic herders and rural farmers. These raids have so far killed hundreds in the region.

The local Punch newspaper cited witnesses as saying at least 40 people were killed in Plateau’s Wase district on Monday night. However, government officials told The Associated Press only 12 casualties have so far been confirmed.

It is common for official figures to be less than that of witness accounts in such attacks.

The attackers opened fire on villagers in Wase’s Zurak community, forcing many to flee into nearby bushes, Musa Ashoms, the state commissioner for information said. “We are trying to comb the area to see whether we have more casualties or people with bullet wounds,” he added.

The motorcycle-riding gunmen attacked the village following a security operation that targeted their hideouts and aimed to “wipe” them out of the area, Idris Wase, a federal legislator from Plateau’s Wase district said.

Locals have repeatedly expressed concern over how the assailants can attack villages for hours and escape before security forces arrive on the scene.

Arrests following such attacks are rare.

In December, assailants killed at least 140 residents during an attack that targeted more than a dozen communities over two days.

By Chinedu Asadu, AP 

Related story: Video - Gunmen abduct over 100 people in Zamfara state, Nigeria


Monday, May 20, 2024

386 civilians rescued from Sambisa forest in Nigeria 10 years after abduction

No fewer than 386 people, mostly women and children, have been rescued by the Army in Sambisa forest ten years after their abduction.

The acting GOC 7 Division, AGL Haruna, made this known while speaking to newsmen at the outskirts of Sambisa forest in Konduga LGA after welcoming the troops that conducted the 10-day operation.

Mr Haruna, a brigadier general, said the operation tagged “Operation Desert Sanity 111” was to clear Sambisa forest of the remnants of all categories of terrorists as well as provide some of them eager to surrender as observed the opportunity to do so.

“Our effort is to ensure that we clear remnants of terrorists in the Sambisa and give those willing to surrender the opportunity to surrender.

“With this operation, we envisage many of them will surrender as they have started.

“We also rescued some civilians; as of yesterday, we rescued 386 and I am sure the number will increase by today,” Haruna said.

The GOC, who addressed the troops on the message of Chief of Army Staff, lauded their performance and professionalism exhibited during the operation and urged them to sustain the tempo.

Some of those rescued from Sambisa forest, who spoke, said they were in captivity for 10 years.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that troops from 21 Special Armoured Brigade, 26 Task Force Brigade, and 199 Special Forces participated in the operation.

Premium Times

Related stories: Video - Gunmen abduct over 100 people in Zamfara state, Nigeria

14 kidnapped University students rescued


Monday, April 29, 2024

At least 23 civilian force members killed in northern Nigeria

At least 23 members of Nigeria’s civilian joint task force were killed on Saturday in separate attacks by militants and an armed kidnapping gang in the north, two officials from the force said on Sunday.

In northeast Borno state, the heartland of an Islamist insurgency, suspected Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) fighters used an improvised explosive device (IED) to blow up a vehicle carrying the Civilian Joint Tast Force (CJTF) team, a local force chairman said.

The CJTF was first formed in 2013 to protect communities in the northeast and help the military fight Boko Haram and later its offshoot ISWAP. The force has since been extended to other northern states that are grappling with armed kidnapping gangs.

Tijjanima Umar, CJTF chairman for Gamboru Ngala area near the border with Cameroon, said his team was travelling to Borno state capital Maiduguri when they drove over the IED.

“As the mine blew up, nine of them died instantly … while two other people had severe injuries and were immediately taken to hospital for treatment,” Umar told Reuters by phone.

The Nigerian military was not immediately available to comment.

Although severely curtailed by Nigerian security forces, Boko Haram and ISWAP still carry out deadly attacks against civilians and the military.

In northwestern Soko state, 14 CJTF members were killed and several were missing following an ambush by gunmen on Saturday, task force sector commandant Ismail Haruna told Reuters.

Haruna said the CJTF members were killed in Sokoto’s Isa local government area, where they had raided and destroyed a bush camp belonging to a known armed kidnapping gang leader.

The gang quickly regrouped and ambushed the CJTF as they drove back to Sokoto state capital, he added.

By Ahmed Kingimi, Reuters

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Video - African counter-terrorism summit held in Nigeria

The meeting aims to increase cooperation between governments in ongoing counter-terrorism efforts across Africa and find ways to combat militant groups and their proxies more effectively. It comes as many countries on the continent are stepping up security operations against terror groups.


Friday, April 19, 2024

Woman rescued 10 years after kidnap by Boko Haram in Nigeria

Nigerian troops have rescued a pregnant woman and her three children 10 years after she was abducted by Boko Haram militants when she was a schoolgirl in the town of Chibok.

Lydia Simon was rescued in Gwoza council area, about 95 miles (150km) east of Chibok, from where 276 schoolgirls were seized in April 2014. As many as 82 are still missing a decade after the high-profile mass kidnapping.

Announcing the news on Thursday, the Nigerian army did not give details of the rescue other than to say Simon was found in the community of Ngoshe.

Chibok and Ngoshe are in Borno state, birthplace of the 15-year old insurgency that has since spread to neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger, uprooting about 2 million people across the region.

The army statement said Simon was five months pregnant. It was accompanied by a picture of her and her three children born in captivity, who appear to be between the ages of two and four. She has yet to be reunited with her family.

The Chibok abduction was the first of a series of mass school kidnappings in Nigeria, shocking the world and triggering a global social media campaign tagged #BringBackOurGirls. Ten years on, many of the abductees, now adults, have been freed or escaped, but jihadist groups and bandits continue to target schools for mass abductions.

Since the Chibok attack, more than 2,190 students have been kidnapped, according to the Lagos-based geopolitical risk consultancy SBM Intelligence. It said mass abductions had become “an increasingly favourite sport for Nigeria’s teeming armed groups”.

As many as 57 of the women from Chibok escaped in the hours after their kidnapping by jumping off the trucks used to abduct them. In May 2017, 82 others were released after the government reportedly paid million-dollar ransoms. Those who returned in recent years were mostly found abandoned in the forests.

Some Chibok parents and security analysts have said there is little evidence to show there is a special military operation to free the remaining women. It is not known if they are all still alive.

Some of the recently freed women were either raped by the insurgents or forced into marriages, according to Chioma Agwuegbo, an activist who was part of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign.

“We have heard their stories about the amount of trauma and violence they have faced. Somebody who was kidnapped 10 years ago is not returning as the same person,” Agwuegbo told Associated Press.

The cause has largely been forgotten by many of the politicians and celebrities who championed it. On 14 April, the anniversary of the abduction, the local activist collective that began the campaign and held rallies for years in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, said it was still seeking justice for the missing women after “this decade of shame”.

Simon’s rescue was symbolic of the enduring hope that pervaded her home town, said the Abuja-based analyst Idayat Hassan, a non-resident fellow with the Africa programme at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies.

“It’s symbolic that 10 years after, we still got another of the girls,” Hassan said. “It keeps our hope alive.”

Simon’s family are waiting to be reunited with their long-lost relative, as are the villagers of Chibok.

“The government has not told us anything [and] we are waiting for an official call,” said Yakubu Nkeki, the chair of the Chibok girls’ parents’ association.

By Eromo Egbejule, The Guardian

Related stories: Video - Families of missing Chibok girls remain hopeful of reunion in Nigeria

Kidnappings in Nigeria rise 10 years after Chibok girls abducted

Monday, April 15, 2024

Video - Abductions in Nigeria surge despite raft of measures by authorities

kidnappings in Northern Nigeria have grown into an industry worth millions of dollars.

Related stories: President Tinubu rules out ransoms for abducted students as observers urge dialogue

kidnappers say they will kill all 287 school if $622,000 ransom not paid


Video - Families of missing Chibok girls remain hopeful of reunion in Nigeria

About 90 girls kidnapped from a government secondary school in Chibok, in Nigeria’s Borno State in 2014 remain missing. A total of 276 girls were taken. Many abductees have returned home and are trying to resume normal life. However, relatives of the girls still missing anxiously wait and hope for a reunion with their kin.


Related stories: Nigerian Troops Rescue 16 Abductees in Kaduna

Video - Families and victims in Nigeria reeling from impact of kidnappings

Video - Kaduna state abductions raise Nigeria's insecurity crisis


Video - Mass abductions negatively impact food production in Nigeria

Farmers in northern Nigeria have abandoned their commercial farms and turned to small-scale subsistence farming close to their homes to avoid being the victims of kidnapping. Insecurity in the region is an issue. Kidnappings for ransom are increasingly common.


Related stories: Video - Mass abductions impact education in Nigeria

Video - Growing calls for Nigeria government to enforce capital punishment on kidnappers

Kidnappings in Nigeria rise 10 years after Chibok girls abducted

Video - Nigeria ramps up security following spate of kidnappings



23 university students,staff released in Nigeria seven months after abduction

Security agents on Sunday announced the rescue of 23 students and workers kidnapped in September at the Federal University Gusau in Zamfara State, North-west Nigeria.

Security sources said they were rescued by security agents near Kuncin Dutse, a village in Tsafe Local Government Area of Zamfara. The Coordinator of the National Counter-terrorism Centre, Adamu Laka, a major general, reportedly coordinated the operation.

PREMIUM TIMES they were further gathered that the rescued persons had been handed over to the security authorities in Abuja. Mr Laka is expected to present them to the National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu, on Monday.

The victims were evacuated to Abuja for debriefing and medical check-ups before being reunited with their families, PREMIUM TIMES learnt.

Earlier last month, nine of the female students were released after 178 days in captivity.

The 23 persons released in the latest development include 15 students and eight workers of the university. A woman abducted in Funtua in Katsina State was also rescued, a source told PREMIUM TIMES, asking for confidentiality because he was not invited to address the press.

One of the parents of the abducted students also confirmed the release of her daughter to DW Hausa Service late Sunday. She said her daughter called her and informed her that she was being moved to Gusau, the state capital.

The released students spent over 200 days in the terrorists’ camp following their abduction in September at their off-campus hostel in Sabon Gida, a community adjacent to the university campus in the state capital.

Some of the victims were rescued by security officials a few hours after their abduction. It was not immediately clear whether more or how many of the students were still being held by the terrorists.

The Zamfara State government is yet to speak on the latest release of the students.

The spokesperson for the Federal University, Gusau, Umar Usman, said he was yet to be briefed about the development when our reporter asked for his comments.

By Abubakar Ahmadu Maishanu, Premium Times 

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Gunmen in army uniform execute five in east Nigeria

Gunmen in military uniform abducted five people in eastern Nigeria, tied their hands and shot them dead, police said on Saturday.

The attack overnight took place in Dananaca village, Taraba state, which is usually peaceful but which suffered a bombing at the hands of Islamist militants last week.

"The police are still investigating to ascertain if the people are real soldiers and from which unit," police spokesman for Taraba state Ibiam Mbaseki told Reuters by telephone.

"If they were genuine military men, they would have contacted us before carrying out such an operation, but we don't know where they came from."

Islamist sect Boko Haram, blamed for dozens of shootings and bombings since it launched an uprising in 2009, has sought to extend its reach too much of the north and the capital Abuja. The group has become President Goodluck Jonathan's number one security headache.

Suspected sect members attending a wedding party on Saturday opened fire on a military surveillance team monitoring the event, killing three civilians, Lieutenant Colonel Sagir Musa of the joint military task force said.

Security forces combating Boko Haram complain that they hide amongst the civilian population, but the military's heavyhanded crackdowns and summary executions of suspects has angered the already alienated population of northern Nigeria.

The sect's armed struggle intensified after its spiritual leader Mohammed Yusuf died in police custody in 2009.

A bomb blast struck a police chief's convoy in eastern Nigeria's Taraba state on Monday, killing 11 people in the first such insurgent attack in the state.

A flurry of arrests of top figures in recent months had raised hopes the Boko Haram insurgency could be on the wane, but attacks in the past two weeks suggest they are very much still at large. Insecurity has spread across the north.

Suspected Boko Haram militants stormed a prison in their northeastern heartland on Friday, killing two guards and freeing the inmates, police said.

Gunmen threw bombs and opened fire on a cattle market in remote northeastern Nigeria on Wednesday, killing at least 60 people, a spokesman for the Yobe state governor said.

It was not clear if the killers were Islamists or a criminal gang. 

By Ibrahim Mshelizza, Reuters 

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