Showing posts with label security. Show all posts
Showing posts with label security. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Police rescue kidnap victims in Abuja

The Police Command in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) said its operatives on Sunday foiled a kidnap attempt and rescued victims in Dawaki area of Abuja.

The Police Public Relations Officer in the FCT, Josephine Adeh, a superintendent of police, said this in a statement on Monday in Abuja.

Ms Adeh said that the kidnap attempt was foiled following an immediate and strategic response to a distress call on the attack by unknown gunmen in Dawaki on 19 May.


She said the Commissioner of Police (CP) in charge of the FCT, Benneth Igweh, led the operatives that swiftly mobilised to the scene to foil the kidnap attempt.

“Displaying remarkable bravery and coordination, the police, in synergy with local hunters, advanced on the assailants, tactically ambushed them at Ushafa Hill via Bwari and Shishipe Hills via Mpape.

“This led to a fierce gun duel where the hoodlums were overwhelmed by the firepower of the operatives, and this forced them to scamper to safety with various degrees of bullet injuries and the victims were rescued,” she said.

Ms Adeh added that one of the rescued victims was currently in the hospital receiving medical attention.

The FCT Police command spokesperson said that the CP had reaffirmed the command’s steadfast dedication to maintaining peace and security in the FCT.

She also said that search operations were ongoing to rescue other hostages who fled the scene during the shootout.

Meanwhile, the Chairperson of Dawaki Rock Heaven Community, Tunde Abdulrahim, said the incident happened at about 7: 30 p.m. on Sunday.

Mr Abdulrahim said that the heavily armed bandits numbering about 50, consisting of men and women invaded the community and broke into about six houses.

He also said that about 20 people were abducted by the kidnappers.

Premium Times

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

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Government of Nigeria secures release of over 1,000 kidnapped people

The Nigerian Government has secured the release of over 1,000 people kidnapped recently in the northern part of the country, the National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu, has said.

Mr Ribadu stated this on Monday while receiving 23 persons rescued on Sunday after they were kidnapped last September at the Federal University Gusau in Zamfara State, North-west Nigeria.

PREMIUM TIMES earlier reported how security sources said the kidnapped students and staff of the university 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.

Receiving the rescued persons, Mr Ribadu said: “This is yet again a success story in our effort to free all those being unlawfully held in captivity. We have so far released over a thousand such victims without noise and with complete respect to their privacy and safety.”

The 23 persons released include 15 students and eight workers of the university. A woman abducted in Funtua in Katsina State was also rescued, a source earlier told PREMIUM TIMES.

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

While addressing the released victims, Mr Ribadu congratulated them and their families on their safe return home.

He said the released students were the last batch of victims of a recent mass abduction the government had successfully rescued.

He urged the release victims to consider their experience as a trial that will make them stronger, not weaken their efforts in the future.

“Consider this experience a trial that should not break you but make you stronger. I also wish to specifically thank the parents of the rescued victims for your patience and understanding during this period.

“On behalf of the President, I thank all those involved in the successful rescue of the victims without losing any of them or paying any ransom.

“This occasion marks a final juncture in a series of rescues we have undertaken in the last few months to free victims of recent cases of mass abductions.

“Going forward, we are strengthening law enforcement and security measures to prevent these abductions and strengthen physical security across vulnerable communities.

“I am grateful to all our security and enforcement agencies for their tireless work and sacrifices. Finally, I want to put on record and appreciate the leadership and encouragement of His Excellency President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who made all these possible, Mr Ribadu said while reuniting the victims with their loved ones in Abuja. 

By Abubakar Ahmadu Maishanu, Premium Times 

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

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

Thursday, April 4, 2024

Why mass kidnappings still plague Nigeria a decade after Chibok abductions

In the decade since the armed group Boko Haram kidnapped nearly 300 students at an all-girls school in the town of Chibok, abductions have become a recurrent fixture in Nigeria, especially in the restive northern regions.

Just last month, on March 7, a criminal gang kidnapped 287 pupils at the government secondary school in Kuriga, a town in Kaduna state. Two days later, another armed group broke into the dorm of a boarding school in Gidan Bakuso, Sokoto state, kidnapping 17 students.

The Sokoto victims and more than 130 of the victims from Kaduna have since been released, but there is no word yet about the remaining abductees.

Meanwhile, out of the hundreds taken in Chibok in April 2014, more than 90 are still missing, according to the United Nations children’s agency, UNICEF.

“I cannot believe that it is 10 years and we have not really done anything about [stopping] it,” said Aisha Yesufu, the co-convener of the #BringBackOurGirls movement pressing for the release of the kidnapped Chibok students.

Nigeria is plagued by insecurity. In the northeast, Boko Haram has waged a violent insurgency since 2009; in the north-central region clashes between farmers and herders have escalated in recent years; and acts of banditry by gunmen in the northwest are terrorising citizens.

Across the country, the targeting of vulnerable populations has been widespread, including kidnappings for ransom or to pressure the government to meet the aggressors’ demands. Experts also say that worsening economic conditions have led to an increase in abductions for ransom over the last four years.

But as Africa’s largest economy and a country with one of the strongest military forces on the continent, many have questioned why Nigeria has been unable to nip the spiralling insecurity crisis in the bud.

“At the end of the day, it comes down to the fact that there is no political will,” Yesufu said.
 

A booming industry

Last year, charity Save The Children reported that more than 1,680 students have been abducted in Nigeria since 2014. This has significantly contributed to deteriorating absentee statistics, with one in three Nigerian children not in school according to UNICEF.

But students are not the only ones bearing the burden of the crisis as travellers, businesspeople, priests, and those perceived as being well-off are also often targets. Kidnappings have become a sub-economy of sorts, as abductors rake in millions of naira in ransom payments. Social media is also littered with public requests from people soliciting funds to buy the freedom of their abducted relatives and friends.

Since 2019, there have been 735 mass abductions in Nigeria, according to socio-political risk consultancy firm, SBM Intelligence. It said between July 2022 and June 2023, 3,620 people were abducted in 582 kidnapping cases with about 5 billion naira ($3,878,390) paid in ransoms.

This year alone SBM Intelligence said there have already been 68 mass abductions.

The abductions are not confined to the north, where banditry and armed religious groups are prevalent, but have also been seen in the south and the southeast. Even Abuja, Nigeria’s capital territory, has not been spared, and in Emure Ekiti in the relatively peaceful southwest region, five students, three teachers and a driver were kidnapped on January 29.

The roots of hostage-taking in Nigeria can be traced back to the 1990s in the Niger Delta, where the country gets most of its oil; at the time, armed groups started abducting foreign oil executives as a way to pressure the government to address their concerns about oil pollution in their communities.

But in recent times, hostage-taking has become a booming industry, said Olajumoke (Jumo) Ayandele, Nigeria’s senior adviser at the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED). Perpetrators now mostly target socially classified vulnerable groups such as children and women, she said, to elicit public anger and press their demands for ransom payments or the release of their arrested gang members.

When a ransom is demanded, the payment is expected to be made by the victims’ relatives, or in some cases the government – and delays or non-payment can sometimes be deadly. One of five sisters kidnapped in Abuja in January was brutally killed after a ransom deadline passed, sparking a national outcry.

“The groups that have used this strategy are able to gain local and international attention to really show their strength and amplify what they want to state authorities,” Ayandele told Al Jazeera.

Although the Nigerian government has said it does not negotiate with terrorists in dealing with the spiralling security crisis, experts say this may not be true.

“We have heard and we have seen some state governments negotiating with some of these groups and some of these bandits,” said Ayandele. In many cases, this has only emboldened the criminals.
 

Why can’t Nigeria stop the abduction of pupils?

Experts say that complex, multilayered issues are at the heart of the worsening insecurity crisis. These include socioeconomic factors, corruption and a lack of cohesiveness in the security structure – where there is no rapid response to attacks and ineffective collaboration between the police and the military.

Over the last decade, Nigeria’s economic situation has all but nosedived as the country grapples with high inflation, rising youth unemployment, and the loss of currency valuation. The fortunes of citizens have hardly improved, and 63 percent of people are in multidimensional poverty. Experts say this has pushed many into criminality.

“The economic hardship during this period has only increased and different policies drive different dimensions. As a result, this has led to kidnapping being seen as a viable and profitable endeavour,” said Afolabi Adekaiyaoja, a research analyst at the Abuja-based Centre for Democracy and Development.

The security architecture in Nigeria is also centralised, with authority concentrated in the hands of the federal government and no real state or regional policing independent of that. Experts say this has hindered the ease with which security agents can operate. It has also led to calls for state policing, especially amid criticisms that security agencies do not collaborate effectively.

At an army level, soldiers have complained about low remuneration and substandard weapons. The Nigerian military has been dogged with accusations of corruption, sabotage, connivance and brutality in the past, and this has fractured relationships with communities and potential sources of intelligence.

“This inability is not down to the military alone – there is a cross-government failing in security response,” Adekaiyaoja told Al Jazeera.

“There needs to be a stronger synergy in communal buy-in in securing facilities and also escalating necessary intelligence … There should be a renewed focus on necessary and frankly overdue police reform and a stronger synergy between intelligence and security agencies.”

Nigeria’s insecurity plagues all six of the country’s geopolitical zones, with each facing one or more of the following: armed fighters, farmer-herder clashes, bandits or unknown gunmen, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) separatists, oil bunkering and piracy. This has kept the armed forces busy.

“Our security forces are spread thin. We have six geopolitical zones in Nigeria and there is something that is always happening,” said ACLED’s Ayandele.
 

What is the toll of the crisis?

Abduction victims who have been released have reported harrowing conditions while in captivity. They are often threatened with death and barely fed as they endure unhygienic, unsavoury living conditions, including sleeping out in the open and trekking long distances into forests where they are kept.

The girls especially are vulnerable to rape and even forced marriages. Adults’ testimonies claim they are routinely beaten and tortured until the captors’ demands have been met.

Experts say the experiences leave victims with serious psychological wounds and trauma.

The fear of their children being abducted has led many parents in hot zones in the northeast and northwest to pull their children out of school entirely to avoid the risk. This is despite the government’s introduction of free and compulsory basic education in schools.

According to UNICEF, 66 percent of all out-of-school children in Nigeria are from the northeast and northwest, which also represent the poorest regions in the country.

“No parent should be put in a situation where they have to make a choice between the lives of their children and getting their children educated,” said #BringBackOurGirls movement’s Yesufu, adding that education is under attack in Nigeria.

As a result, she said illiteracy is then weaponised by the political class, who use people’s lack of information and knowledge to manipulate voters during elections.

But for some girls, the consequences may be even more dire than just losing an education, Yesufu said, as some parents decide to marry their daughters off early to avoid them getting kidnapped or worse. More than half of the girls in Nigeria are currently not attending school at a basic level, and 48 percent of that figure are from the northeast and northwest.

Education is crucial to national growth and development. But Nigeria’s continuing abduction crisis is posing serious challenges to schooling in the worst-affected regions of the northeast and northwest – and experts worry it may have broader implications for the country in the near future.

“This is just a ticking time bomb because when you don’t have a populace that is educated, they can be easily radicalised or recruited into these non-state armed groups,” Ayandele said.

“We don’t know what can happen in the next 20 years if we don’t address this education problem as soon as possible.”

Al Jazeera

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Wednesday, April 3, 2024

NYSC member, eight others rescued by Nigeria military

The Joint Task Force (JTF) in the Niger Delta, Operation Delta Safe, says its troops on Monday rescued nine kidnap victims abducted by gunmen on 29 March along the Ugheli-Patani axis of the East-West road.

The Commander of the joint military force deployed to the Niger Delta, John Okeke, confirmed the development to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday night.

Mr Okeke said that 10 suspected kidnappers were arrested in the rescue of the victims who included an NYSC member and a Navy rating.


“In continuation to ensure safety of lives and property in the Niger Delta Region, the gallant troops of the Joint Task Force South South Operation Delta Safe (OPDS), comprising troops of Quick Response Force (QRF) of Headquarters OPDS, Land, Maritime and Air Components on Monday, April 1, 2024, rescued nine kidnap victims.

“The freed victims were kidnapped on 29 March 2024, along Patani-Ughelli Road in Delta State.

“During the rescue operation, 10 suspects in connection with the kidnap incident were arrested. Amongst the rescued victims is a Naval Rating and an NYSC member,” Okeke said.

The JTF Commander subsequently warned criminal elements within the Niger Delta region to desist from their nefarious activities as there will be no haven for them in the region as troops will not leave any stone unturned in ensuring a conducive environment for the safety of lives and properties.

Mr Okeke also commended the troops for their gallantry and efforts in the rescue operation.

He urged the general public to always provide useful information to security agencies on criminal activities within their communities.

Premium Times

Related story: Video - Nigeria ramps up security following spate of kidnappings


Monday, April 1, 2024

Video - Nigeria ramps up security following spate of kidnappings



Nigeria's federal government says it's doing everything it can to protect communities amid a recent surge in school kidnappings for ransom. 

CGTN

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Government of Nigeria warns against protest at Lekki shooting site

Nigeria's information minister called on activists to drop plans for a protest in the commercial capital Lagos over the reopening of the site where demonstrators against police brutality were shot last year, saying it risked being "hijacked by hoodlums".

Protesters were shot on Oct. 20 by people witnesses said were soldiers at the toll gate in the affluent Lekki district of Lagos. Rights group Amnesty International said soldiers and police killed at least 12 protesters in Lekki and another district. The military and police have denied involvement.

Nationwide protests against police brutality were largely peaceful until the Oct. 20 shooting, which spawned some of the worst civil unrest since the 1999 return to civilian rule in Africa's most populous country.

A judicial commission in Lagos is looking into the allegations that the army and police opened fire on protesters on Oct. 20. Social media campaigners said a demonstration would be held at the toll gate on Saturday in protest at its reopening before the commission had completed its investigation.

In response, Information Minister Lai Mohammed said the planned rally could turn violent because of "hoodlums".

"We therefore strongly warn those who are planning to re-occupy Lekki Toll Gate on Saturday to desist," Mohammed told a news conference on Thursday in the capital Abuja.

"While peaceful protests are the constitutional rights of Nigerians, violent protests are not. At this time, the chances that any peaceful protest will be hijacked are very high."

Violence would not be tolerated, he said, adding: "The security agents are ready for any eventuality."
The unrest in October led to the deaths of six soldiers, 37 policemen and 57 civilians, as well as the destruction of 269 private and public properties, Mohammed said. 

Reuters

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Kidnapped Edo PDP chairperson freed

The Chairperson of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo State, Tony Aziegbemi, abducted on 15 March in Benin, has been freed.


The News Agency of Nigeria gathered that Mr Aziegbemi reunited with his family at 3 a.m. on Tuesday after 10 days in captivity.

Clem Aziegbemi, on behalf of the family, said the PDP leader was released unhurt.


“As a member of the Aziegbemi family, we say thank you all for your great show of love and solidarity with us all through the period of the abduction of our beloved son, brother, cousin, and leader, Dr Tony Aziegbemi.

“Thank you, all…. We are most grateful for all your valuable contributions through prayers and steadfastness. God bless,” he said.

Mr Aziegbemi was ambushed at the Bishop Edokpolor Boulevard Junction, off Country Home, GRA Benin City, while returning from the Government House, where he held a meeting with Governor Godwin Obaseki

His abduction came less than a month after his party conducted a primary election for the 21 September governorship election in the state.

When contacted, the police spokesperson in Edo, Chidi Nwabuzor, said the police would soon issue an official statement on the development.

Premium Times

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Monday, March 25, 2024

Nigerian army rescues kidnapped Kaduna students

The Nigerian army on Sunday rescued students and staff who were abducted by gunmen from a school in the country's north earlier this month, the military said, days before the deadline for a ransom payment.

School officials and residents had said 287 students were taken on March 7 in the town of Kuriga in the northwestern state of Kaduna. A military spokesperson said 137 hostages - 76 of them female and 61 male - were rescued in the early hours of Sunday in neighbouring state of Zamfara.

"In the early hours of 24 March 2024, the military working with local authorities and government agencies across the country in a coordinated search and rescue operation rescued the hostages," Major General Edward Buba said in a statement.

A security source said the students had been freed in a forest and were being escorted to Kaduna's capital for medical tests before being reunited with their families.

Kaduna Governor Uba Sani earlier put the number of kidnapped at over 200. Given the discrepancies in numbers reported, it was unclear if any hostages remained captured. Some Kuriga elders said Sani had told them all hostages had been freed.

Jibrin Aminu, a spokesperson for the Kuriga parents, said he would clarify numbers on Monday when families had been given the chance to "take account of their kidnapped children."

The rescue took place just days before a deadline to pay a 1 billion naira ($690,000) ransom for their release.

Abductions at Nigerian schools were first carried out by jihadist group Boko Haram, which seized 276 students from a girls' school in Chibok in northeastern Borno State a decade ago. Some of the girls have never been released.

But since then the tactic has been adopted by criminal gangs without ideological affiliation.
Kidnappings by criminal gangs demanding ransoms have become an almost daily occurrence, especially in northern Nigeria, tearing apart families and communities that must pool savings to pay ransoms, often forcing them to sell land, cattle and grain to secure the release of their loved ones.

By Ahmed Kingimi, Reuters 

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Monday, March 18, 2024

Nigeria military denies reprisal attack after 16 troops killed

Men in army uniform ransacked and burned homes in Nigeria's oil-producing Delta state days after youths killed 16 soldiers sent there to resolve a land dispute, residents said, but the defence chief denied military involvement.

Residents said soldiers attacked the riverside Okuoma community of a few hundred people on Sunday while looking for those responsible for Thursday's killings.

Tam Oburumu, who fled from his home, said uniformed men were going around looking for weapons and ransacked houses before torching them.

"The damage for now is huge, a lot of houses were burned,"

Oburumu said by phone from a nearby village where he has sought refuge.

Government-owned properties, including a primary school and hospital, were spared, residents said.

President Bola Tinubu said he had given the military full authority to hunt down those responsible for killing the soldiers, which he described as an "unconscionable crime against the Nigerian people".

But defence chief General Christopher Musa denied that soldiers had attacked the community.

"No reprisals by the army. We are searching for the murderers and their weapon cache," Musa said in a text message to Reuters.

There are frequent, sometimes deadly, clashes over land or over compensation for oil spills by energy companies in many Delta state communities.

Friday Addy, a trader in Okuoma, said she and her mother had left their home when soldiers arrived.

"The people have fled for their lives, and many are missing and we cannot locate them. We are helpless," said Addy.

By Tife Owolabi and Ope Adetayo, Reuters

Friday, March 15, 2024

Military in Nigeria kill 213 terrorists, apprehend 283 others

The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) said Nigerian troops killed at least 213 terrorists and arrested 283 others in different theatres of operation across the country in the last week.

The Director of Defence Media Operations, Edward Buba, disclosed this while giving an update on the operations of the armed forces on Thursday in Abuja.

Mr Buba, a major general, said the troops within the period also apprehended 67 perpetrators of oil theft and rescued 26 kidnapped hostages.


He said they also recovered 189 assorted weapons and 4,003 assorted ammunition comprising 111 AK47 rifles, G3 rifles, 31 locally fabricated guns, five pump action guns, automatic pump action guns, and 26 Dane guns among others.

He said that other weapons recovered included 2,766 rounds of 7.62mm special ammo, 982 rounds of 7.62mm NATO, 240 live cartridges, 2 shotgun cartridges, 13 rounds of 9mm ammo, and 36 empty cases of 7.62mm ammo.

Other items according to him, are 38 magazines, three G3 magazines, eight vehicles, 44 motorcycles, 19 mobile phones, four bicycles, rifle butt, rifle stock and the sum of N628,000 amongst other items.

In the North-east, Mr Buba said the troops of Operation Hadin Kai, eliminated 70 terrorists and arrested 23 BH/ISWAP terrorists as well as recovered one G3 rifle, 50 AK47 rifles, 1,012 rounds of 7.62mm special ammo, 243 rounds of 7.62mm NATO, 13 motorcycles, 10 bicycles amongst others.

He said that a total of 472 ISWAP/JAS terrorists fighters and their families comprising 26 adult males, 146 adult females and 300 children surrendered to troops within the theatre of operations.

According to him, the air component neutralised several ISWAP/JAS terrorists and destroyed their logistics within the Southern Tumbuns.

In the North-central, Mr Buba said the troops of Operations Safe Haven and Whirl Stroke killed nine insurgents and arrested 18 violent extremists within the week.

He said the troops also recovered several arms, ammunition and other items.

In the North-west, he said the troops of Operation Hadarin Daji killed 26 terrorists and rescued 15 kidnapped hostages during the week.

He said the air component had on 5 March knocked out terrorists’ commanders and their foot soldiers hibernating in Southern Tsaskiya, Safana Local Government Area of Katsina State.

According to him, the Battle Damage Assessment revealed that several terrorists were killed and their structures destroyed.

“Similarly, on March 6, following credible intelligence and confirmatory ISR the air component in multiple passes conducted air interdiction at terrorists’ commander Alhaji Nashama’s and Jammo Smally’s enclaves in Birnin Magaji and Maradun Local Government Areas of Zamfara.

“The locations were thoroughly scanned and observed to be active with terrorists’ activities and attacked with rockets and cannons.

“Battle Damage Assessment revealed that several terrorists were neutralized and their structures destroyed,” he said.

Mr Buba added that troops of Operation Whirl Punch killed 17 insurgents, arrested 42 violent extremists/terrorists and rescued nine kidnapped hostages.

He said the air component also conducted air interdiction at terrorists’ commander Alhaji Labi’s enclave in Gaude Forest, Kaduna State following confirmation of resurgence of terrorists at the location.

He said soldiers attacked the location killing several terrorists and destroying their logistics.

In the South-south, Mr Buba said the troops of Operation Delta Safe discovered and destroyed 45 illegal refining sites with 150 dugout pits, 30 boats, 73 storage tanks, 209 drums and 15 vehicles.

According to him, other items recovered include 105 cooking ovens, three pumping machines, two outboard engines, one tricycle and four motorcycles.

He added that the troops recovered 1.2 million litres of stolen crude oil, 313,780 litres of illegally refined AGO and 13,000 litres of PMS during the week.

In the South-east, Mr Buba said the troops of Operation UDO KA killed 26 terrorists and recovered three G3 rifles, 12 AK47 rifles, one fabricated gun, two pump action guns, automatic pump action guns, RPG bombs and 269 rounds of 7.62mm special ammo.

Other items recovered are 216 rounds of 7.62mm NATO, 172 live cartridges, eight IEDs (OGBUNIGWE), four AK47 magazines, three G3 magazines and three motorcycles amongst other items.

“All recovered items, arrested suspects and rescued hostages were handed over to the relevant authority for further action,” he said.

Premium Times

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Thursday, March 14, 2024

Nigeria Orders Creation of Police Base in Remote Community After Mass Kidnappings

Police in Nigeria have ordered the creation of a new base for officers and the deployment of special forces in a remote village in northwest Kaduna state, where nearly 300 students were abducted by armed bandits on March 7.

Nigerian police chief Kayode Egbetokun announced plans for the new base and the deployment during a visit with Kaduna Governor Uba Sani on Tuesday.

He said the steps will help restore residents’ confidence in their safety while security forces continue the search for the missing students.

Last Thursday, armed bandits on motorbikes invaded an elementary school in the village of Kuriga in Kaduna state and abducted 287 school students — the highest single abduction of students in years.

Days later in a separate attack, bandits kidnapped 61 people from Kajuru district, about 150 kilometers miles away.

The new police base will be in Kuriga and deployment of extra officers to the area has begun.

Egbetokun says authorities are working to secure the abductees’ release.

"We're launching the special intervention squad for Kaduna state,” Egbetokun said. “If only to give confidence to the people, the men will be deployed and with the support that you have pledged to give, I’m sure that the community will start to feel safe again."

Sani said he is hopeful the police operations will succeed.

"We are extremely confident that the school children by the grace of God will return back home safely,” he said, “and I'm happy by the decision of the inspector general of police to quickly deploy mobile base in Kuriga community."

Last week, local media reported more than 300 women and children who were gathering firewood were kidnapped in northeastern Borno state by Islamic militants.

Insecurity is a major challenge for President Bola Tinubu, who launched an initiative called “Renewed Hope” after assuming office last May.

The recent kidnappings are blamed, in part, on the absence of security forces in those remote areas.

Last month, the president met with all 36 state governors to discuss decentralizing Nigeria’s police force and creating a police arm for each state.

Analyst Kabiru Adamu of Beacon Security said, if organized properly, this could be a step in the right direction.

“There are gaps within the security architecture,” Adamu said. “I am supportive of the decentralization of policing but I think what we need more than anything is accountability. So that by the time we create state police, the accountability elements that have been created in the federal level will trickle down to the state level."

Years of fighting Islamist militants and crime gangs have stretched Nigerian security forces thin.

Many are hoping the creation of new bases and state police arms will help keep the kidnappers away.

By Timothy Obiezu, VOA

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Monday, March 4, 2024

Friday, February 23, 2024

Video - Nigeria vows to address rising cost of living amid protests



The government said it will deploy measures, including greater security for farmers against attacks from armed groups and providing them with better tools to increase production. Protesters are angry at the high rate of inflation, driven largely by high food prices and the government's decision to end a fuel subsidy.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Defense chief of Nigeria accuses nations withholding arms sales over abuses of ‘double standards’

Nigeria’s defense chief expressed frustration Tuesday with what he called the “double standards” of some countries that won’t sell his military weapons because of human rights concerns.

Gen. Christopher Musa’s comment underscores one of the biggest challenges for Africa’s most populous nation in combating a deadly and complex security crisis, from the Islamic militant insurgency in northeast to the dozens of armed groups targeting travelers and communities in the northwest and central regions.

“Even with our money, it is difficult getting equipment,” Musa told reporters in Nigeria’s capital of Abuja, acknowledging a huge need for items such as helicopters, drones and Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles.

“Some say human rights, some say ‘You have killed’ … but again, sometimes, people pointing fingers at you have done worse and yet nobody is holding them to account. It is these double standards that (are) making the world more dangerous,” Musa said.

He declined to name the countries in question when asked by The Associated Press.

Nigeria’s security forces for many years have faced allegations of extrajudicial killings and illegal arrests. The United States and other major arms suppliers at one point or another have withheld the sale of weapons over those accusations.

In December, at least 85 civilians were killed when a Nigerian army drone erroneously targeted a religious gathering in northwest Kaduna state, the latest of several such incidents.

Musa said Nigeria’s military has continued to improve on its human rights record and is holding its personnel to account. Alleged abuses are often investigated, and a report on the December incident will be released soon, he said.

“The Nigerian Armed Forces have the capacity to secure Nigeria (and) the entire region,” Musa said, but added that the lack of needed weapons will continue to limit that capacity.

However, there is little evidence to show that Nigeria’s military has improved on its human rights record, according to Isa Sanusi, Amnesty International’s director in Nigeria.

“Protecting civilians should be their priority (and) they should look at all human rights violations they have committed to ensure accountability,” Sanusi said.

U.S. military support to Nigeria has at times included training on how to mitigate risks to civilians, according to a State Department statement in January on security cooperation. It said that in August, Nigeria delivered the first payment for 12 attack helicopters worth a total of $997 million.

By Chinedu Asadu, AP

Friday, February 2, 2024

Explosions rock Kano, Nigeria, at least six killed

At least six people were killed in a string of bomb blasts on Friday in Nigeria's second city Kano and the authorities imposed a curfew across the city, which has been plagued by an insurgency led by the Islamist sect Boko Haram.

Smoke billowed from the police headquarters for the north in Kano after one blast blew out its windows, collapsed its roof and triggered a blaze that firefighters struggled to control.

A Reuters reporter counted three bodies at the scene and three more at the local passport office, which was surrounded by flaming debris.

Some residents ran around shouting and screaming following the attacks. There were at least four other explosions across the city in quick succession.

"I was on the roadside and I just heard a 'Boom!'. As I came back, I saw the building of the police zonal headquarters crashing down and I ran for my life," said local man Andrew Samuel.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the apparently coordinated attacks, which prompted the government to announce a dusk-to-dawn curfew.

Kano, like other northern cities in Nigeria, has been plagued by an insurgency led by Islamist sect Boko Haram, blamed for scores of bombings and shootings against mostly government targets that are growing in scale and sophistication.

Boko Haram became active around 2003 and is concentrated in the northern states of Yobe, Kano, Bauchi, Borno and Kaduna.

Boko Haram, which in the Hausa language of northern Nigeria means "Western education is sinful", is loosely modelled on the Taliban movement in Afghanistan.

The group considers all who do not follow its strict ideology as infidels, whether they be Christian or Muslim. It demands the adoption of sharia, Islamic law, in all of Nigeria.


FLAMES AND SMOKE

Witnesses said the bomber of the police headquarters, which covers most of northern Nigeria, pulled up at the building on a motorbike then got off and ran at it holding a bag.

"We tried to stop him but he ran in forcefully with his bag. All of a sudden there was a blast. You can see for yourself the building is damaged," said a policeman at the scene.

Police said a second blast had hit Kano's passport office and another hit Zaria Road police station in the city.

"The ground was shaking with the explosion. We saw flames and smoke at the police station," said witness Umaru Ibrahim.

A source at the State Security Service said another bomber had tried to attack there but was gunned down before he could detonate his bomb.

Police and military roadblocks were erected in the city within minutes.

"We are trying to reach the scenes of these heavy blasts. Many of the roads are blocked now by security agents," said Abubaker Jibril, head of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) for Kano, told Reuters.

A bomb attack on a Catholic church just outside the capital Abuja on Christmas Day, claimed by Boko Haram, killed 37 people and wounded 57.

The main suspect in that attack escaped from police custody within 24 hours of his arrest, and police have offered a 50 million naira reward for information leading to his recapture.

Police arrested Kabiru Sokoto on Tuesday and while they were taking him from police headquarters to his house in Abaji, just outside Abuja, to conduct a search there, their vehicle came under fire.

Last August a suicide bomber blew up the U.N. Nigeria headquarters in Abuja, killing at least 24 people. 

By Mike Oboh, Reuters 

Related story: Deadly blast in Nigeria affects several suburbs

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Video - At least 30 people killed in the latest violence in Nigeria



Authorities say assailants stormed a village in the Mangu Local Government area and two additional nearby communities on Tuesday. In addition to the deaths, several buildings, including a market and worship centers were destroyed.

CGTN

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America determined to remain strong security partner for Nigeria

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday said the United States is determined to remain a strong security partner for Nigeria, whose military is backed by the U.S., Britain and other allies in a long war against Islamist insurgents.

Blinken also discussed challenges to democracy and security in the region during his meeting on Tuesday with Nigerian President Bola Tinubu in a visit that comes after last year's coup in neighboring Niger, one of a series of coups or attempted power grabs over the past few years in West and Central Africa.

"The United States is determined to be and remain a strong security partner for Nigeria," Blinken told reporters.

Blinken added that he discussed how it is vitally important there be a focus on ensuring civilians are protected and humanitarian considerations.

Observers have noted a pattern of deadly aerial assaults by the Nigerian military that have killed civilians, which was the subject of a Reuters special report last year.

The U.S. faced a setback in its fight against militants in the Sahel when military officers toppled Niger's President Mohamed Bazoum, a key ally, in July last year.

The coup in Niger was one of a series of military takeovers or attempted power grabs that occurred in West and Central Africa over the past three years.

The instability has raised concern, particularly as juntas have cut ties with traditional Western allies such as the European Union and France, which withdrew thousands of troops from the Sahel last year.

Blinken, speaking in Abuja as part of a four-nation tour of Africa taking him to Cape Verde, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Angola from Jan. 21-26, also said repatriation of capital and corruption were among challenges that need to be tackled for companies to invest in Nigeria.

Africa's biggest economy has about $7 billion in forex forwards that have matured, a major concern for investors as foreign currency shortages continue to weigh down the naira currency, despite assurances by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to clear the backlog.

So far, about $2 billion of the backlog across sectors such as manufacturing, aviation, and petroleum have been paid, CBN spokesperson Hakama Sidi Ali said in a statement.

By Chijioke Ohuocha and Felix Onuah, Reuters

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Wednesday, January 24, 2024

UNICEF Urges Immediate Action to Bolster School Safety in Nigeria

Abuja, 24 January 2024 - On this International Day of Education 2024, UNICEF acknowledges the significant progress made in providing access to education for 7.2 million children in humanitarian settings across Nigeria, thanks to collaborative efforts with the government, donors and partners. However, alongside this recognition, the children’s agency highlights the need for concerted efforts to enhance school safety in Nigeria.

A recent evaluation indicates that, on average, only 43% of the Minimum Standards for Safe Schools are being met in about 6,000 assessed schools. This finding particularly highlights challenges in ensuring the safety of school infrastructure and in mitigating risks such as violence, conflict, and natural hazards.

Ms. Cristian Munduate, UNICEF Nigeria Country Representative, notes, “While Nigeria has shown a commitment to creating safe school environments through endorsing the Safe Schools Declaration and developing the Minimum Standards for Safe Schools, there is room for further progress. On this important day, we are reminded of the collective responsibility we share in safeguarding the educational environment for every child.”

The theme of the 2024 International Day of Education, 'learning for lasting peace,' reminds us of all of the crucial role that education plays in promoting peace and stability. It serves as a reminder to all stakeholders – including federal and state governments, development partners, civil society, communities, and educators – of the importance of providing safe, secure learning environments.

“Education is a key driver of gender equality, economic growth, and social development, sadly it remains inaccessible to many Nigerian children. Their educational journey is often disrupted by attacks on communities and schools, including the abduction of students. These challenges are particularly acute for adolescent girls, potentially stalling the progress made in girls’ education in Nigeria.” Munduate added.

Recent attacks on schools, particularly in the North-East and North-West regions in 2021, have led to learning disruptions for over 1.3 million children, necessitating precautionary school closures. This highlights the urgency of addressing school safety comprehensively.

UNICEF calls for a multi-sectoral approach to improve school safety, informed by the performance of states on the Minimum Standards for Safe Schools. This approach should include comprehensive planning, coordination, and adequate resource allocation, especially in states with higher risks.

To complement these efforts, UNICEF emphasizes the importance of alternative learning platforms, such as the Nigerian Learning Passport. This digital platform, with over 750,000 users, offers curriculum-aligned materials and is crucial for ensuring continuity of education, especially during school closures.

UNICEF remains committed to working with the Nigerian government, donors and all partners to ensure that every child has access to a safe, inclusive, and quality education.

UNICEF

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Friday, January 19, 2024

US emphasizes 'accountability and transparency' in Nigeria security operations

Senior U.S. diplomat Victoria Nuland met Nigerian National Security Adviser Nuhu Ribadu and discussed "promoting accountability and transparency" in the aftermath of security operations in Nigeria, the State Department said on Thursday.


WHY IT IS IMPORTANT

Observers have noted a pattern of deadly aerial assaults by the Nigerian military that have killed civilians, which was the subject of a special Reuters report last year.


Nigeria's military is backed by the United States, Britain and other allies in a long war against Islamist insurgents in the northeast.

KEY QUOTE

"They further agreed on the importance of protecting civilians, safeguarding human rights, and promoting accountability and transparency in the aftermath of security operations," the State Department said in a statement on Thursday.

CONTEXT

Civilians were killed n Nigeria's northern Kaduna state following a military drone attack targeting insurgents and bandits in December. The death toll in the attack was at least 85, including women and children.

The Boko Haram and splinter Islamic West Africa Province have waged an insurgency in Nigeria's northeast for more than one decade and continue to carry out sporadic attacks against civilians and the military.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit Nigeria in the coming week as part of a West Africa trip. 

By Kanishka Singh, Reuters

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