The BringBackOurGirls group and the parents of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls on Sunday demanded that the Federal Government swap detained Boko Haram members for the girls who have been in captivity for over two years.
This followed the video of the girls released by the sect on Sunday.
Boko Haram is holding more than 200 of the 276 final-year girls it seized from Government Secondary School, Chibok, in Borno State, in April 2014.
Some of them escaped, but 215 girls remain missing. In May 2016, one of them, Amina Ali, was rescued.
In the video released by the Abubakar Shekau faction, Boko Haram claimed that some of the girls were killed by air strikes launched by the Nigerian Air Force on their hideouts.
The new video, more than 11 minutes long, showed a masked armed man standing in front of several girls, whom he claimed were the over 200 girls abducted from their hostel at the GSS in 2014.
The man stated that the video was released to send a message to the parents of the girls to beg the government to release Boko Haram members in detention centres in exchange for the girls.
He said, ‘‘It pleased God to let us have these girls in our captivity for over two years now. Our first message is to the parents of the girls to let them know that their daughters are still with us; some of them.
‘‘ I also want to tell them to beg the Nigerian government to release our brethren, especially those in Maiduguri, Lagos and Abuja and other places across Nigeria. They should be released immediately.
‘‘You all knew that we had the girls, but God never allowed you to know their location and you will never know by God’s grace. You keep lying in your media that you will rescue them; they have been with us for over two years, yet you don’t know where they are. You have been lying about these girls.
‘‘For over two years that we have been with these girls, about 40 of them have been married, some are dead as a result of airstrikes by infidels. We will show you a video of how your own aircraft dropped a bomb that killed some of these girls. Some of the girls have suffered fractures and other forms of injuries as a result of the air strikes.
‘‘As you can see, these are the girls, all we want is for you to release our brethren, otherwise, you will never get these girls, God willing. This is our message to the Federal Government and the parents of the Chibok girls.
‘‘As long as the government does not release our people, we will also never release these girls.
One of the girls, Maida Yakubu (Dorcas), who spoke in both Hausa and Kibaku, her native language, asked parents to “be patient and beg the government to release their people, so that we will also be released.”
The BBOG, in a statement, on Sunday, read by a co-convener, Aisha Yesufu, stated that members would press for their demands with a march to the President office.
“After listening to the call of Dorcas Yakubu, we demand an immediate action, as well as a result-oriented response plan by the government. The excuse of a split within the terrorists’ ranks or a period of validation of the authenticity of their claims will not suffice this time. We shall press these demands with a march to the Presidential Villa in the next few days,” the group stated.
The coalition expressed disappointment over the failure of the government to make use of the information it received from the earlier video of the girls in April.
“In the aftermath of an earlier video, we repeatedly called on government to treat the information as the missing piece of credible information it was seeking. Not even the return of Amina Ali, a Chibok girl, inspired the sort of response we demanded,” the group added.
It called on the governments of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, China, Australia, Israel, and agencies like the United Nations and the African Union to reengage and adopt a strategic rescue position.
A co-convener of the coalition, Oby Ezekwesili, stated that there were only three choices available to the government.
She stated that her movement would not allow the government to rest until the Chibok girls were rescued or released, adding that the BBOG did not want to see another video of the girls.
She said, “We are not going to let up until this government acts. Let them get ready because every day we shall be marching to the (Presidential) villa. These girls were kidnapped in the course of getting education, which annoyed me to no end.
“It is on this basis of education that I became what I am today. If it means marching to the villa everyday to demand the release of our chibok girls, so be it….Only three choices are available – negotiate to release our girls, use the military operation or a combination of the two. We don’t want to see a fourth video.”
Also, Esther Yakubu, the mother of one of the abducted girls, Dorcas, said she broke down while watching the video of her daughter.
Esther said President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration was “more clueless than Jonathan’s.”
“The Chibok girls must be rescued, they must have their lives, the future that Boko Haram tries to truncate,” she said in an emotional outburst.
Earlier, Esther had told one of our correspondents that she regretted putting Dorcas in boarding school.
“I wanted her to have the best of education, I planned to sponsor her education to whatever level she wanted, but she could not sit for her final examinations because she was abducted.
“Boko Haram in the video asked the government to release their members so that they could release our girls. If the government knows that it cannot handle the insurgency, it should invite other countries. It is not a crime to seek assistance in a war. It is a shame for them to allow our daughters to languish in captivity for over two years.
“I don’t regret sending her to school, but I regret putting her in boarding school. If she was a day student, she would be home with me that night. The abduction affected her because she was in boarding school,” Yakubu added.
She said apart from her daughter, she recognised about 20 other girls.
“I recognised Saratu Ayuba, Awa Ishaiya and others. In that video, Dorcas has grown up a little and she is slimmer. I cried when I saw her in the video. That is only change I observe, but I thank God she is alive.”
Dorcas father, Kabu Yakubu, urged the government to release Boko Haram detainees in exchange for the Chibok girls, adding that the demand had boosted his hope that his daughter and others would eventually make it home.
“I will sleep well because since she was kidnapped, I have never seen her in other videos released. But today, I saw her in the video, and my joy was rekindled.
“What we have been telling the government is what Boko Haram demanded in the video. We are appealing to the government to help us to release Boko Haram detainees so they can release our daughters. In the video, my daughter was begging the government to negotiate with the terrorists and they (Boko Haram) said unless the government releases their members who were being detained in Abuja, Lagos and Maiduguri prisons, they won’t release the girls.
Chibok resident urges govt to bring girls home
The President, Kibaku Youth Association of Nigeria, the youth association of the community, Moses Zakwa, said whatever the Federal Government could do to rescue the Chibok girls would be welcomed by parents of the abducted girls and the entire community.
He said the Chibok community and the parents of the abducted girls were already disappointed that the All Progressives Congress government failed in its promise to rescue the girls within its first 100 days in power.
Zakwa said, “The government knows the best thing to do. We, the stakeholders and parents of the Chibok girls, want the government to do whatever within its power to rescue the Chibok girls. This is over two years of abduction that we are talking about. This issue happened in 2014 and till today only one girl had been rescued.
“This same APC government used the platform of Chibok girls, one way or the other, to clinch the power. They promised Nigerians that they were going to do everything possible to rescue the girls; and we believed them – Nigerians believed them. Today, we are talking about over one year since they assumed office, nothing has happened.
We are in touch with Boko Haram – FG
The Federal Government on Sunday said it was in touch with members of Boko Haram.
In a statement by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the government added that it was being cautious in order to establish that it was dealing with the right people.
Asked by our correspondent if the government was conceding to the request of the Islamist group, Mohammed said the government was doing everything possible to secure the release of the girls and “put an end to the horrible saga of their abduction”.
He said, “The government is in touch with those behind the video. We are on top of the situation. We are being extremely careful because the situation has been compounded by the split in the leadership of Boko Haram. We are also being guided by the need to ensure the safety of the girls.
“Since this is not the first time we have been contacted over the issue. We want to be doubly sure that those we are in touch with are who they claim to be.
“We hope that the latest development will signal the beginning of the end of the nightmare to which the girls, their families and indeed all Nigerians have been subjected since the unfortunate abduction.”
Military dismisses B’Haram’s claim
The Defence authorities have described the claim by the Boko Haram that some of the Chibok girls were killed in airstrikes by the Nigerian Air Force as propaganda.
The acting Director, Defence Information, Brig. Gen. Rabe Abubakar, told our correspondent on the telephone on Sunday that the equipment used by the military in the bombing of the Sambisa forest had a high level of precision in hitting targets.
He said the insurgents were only making attempts weep up psychological trauma in the parents and citizenry against the military.
Abubakar added that the military was studying the latest video released by the insurgents to ascertain its authenticity.
He further stated that the same platforms were deployed by military in the operation against pipeline vandals at Arepo and other riverine communitiesof Ogun and Lagos states.
He said, “We are still assessing the video clip to confirm its authenticity or otherwise. This is an era of social media, anything can happen, anybody can crop up anything. However, we are very much alive to our responsibilities.
“The claim that the aerial bombardment was used to kill some of them is a complete propaganda; they are trying to buy time, or trying to put psychological trauma in Nigerians against the military.
“The equipment we are now using since the beginning of the new leadership of the military is a high level precision aerial equipment; just the way we did in Arepo in the Ogun, Lagos areas against vandals. The equipment was capable of the registering target and capable of hitting that target.
“The equipment was used to avoid unnecessary targets; to avoid collateral damage. So the issue of saying we are using bombs to kill Chibok girls is propaganda. They are trying to create psychological trauma in the parents and all Nigerians.”
Abubakar added that the decision on the exchange of the Chibok girls for Boka Haram suspects could only be taken by political leaders.
“We should not close our eyes on other people who have been rescued recently as a result of Operation Crack Down? The issue of exchange is purely for our respected political leaders. The military would continue with our operation.”
Army declares journalist, two others wanted
The Nigerian Army has declared a journalist, Ahmed Salkida, and two others, Ahmed Bolori and Aisha Wakil, wanted for their alleged connection with Boko Haram.
The acting Director, Army Public Relations, Col. Sani Usman, on Sunday via email, saying the army decided to declare Salkida and the two others wanted because of the conviction that they had relevant information on the location of the Chibok girls.
He said that the army’s decision had to do with the two recent videos released by the leadership of the insurgent group and the findings by a preliminary investigation by the military on the videos.
He stressed that the military was sure that Salkida and the two others had contact with the terrorists and the missing girls.
Usman said that the three wanted people must come forward to tell Nigerians where the missing girls and other abducted persons were being kept to enable the military to rescue them.
‘‘There is no doubt that these individuals have links with Boko Haram.”
The acting Army Spokesman called on Nigerians to provide useful information that could lead to the arrest of the three wanted persons.
Wakil, who is a lawyer, was in contact with the Federal Government in 2013, during the amnesty negotiations with the insurgents.
She was reported to have met with former President Goodluck Jonathan as part of the negotiation, which later broke down.
Bolori is said to be the coordinator of the Fa’ash Foundation and the Partnership Against Violent Extremism. He resides in Maiduguri.
I got the video exclusive before release –Salkida
Salkida had on Saturday went on his Twitter handle, @ContactSalkida, to announce that he had obtained the video of the Chibok girls exclusively from Boko Haram.
In a series of tweets, the journalist analysed what he saw in the video, saying one of the girls in the video said airstrikes by the military had allegedly killed some of her colleagues.
He said, “Just In: Jama‘atu Ahlil Sunnah Li-Da‘awati Wal-Jihad #BH has released a video showing the abducted #Chibokgirls and restating their demands.
“This is the second time Shekau has ordered a video of the girls to be released to the public since the abduction of the girls 852 days ago.
“I’m studying the video of the #Chibokgirls that was sent exclusively to me before their abductors upload on it YouTube later. @BBOG_Nigeria.
“Many of the girls can be seen in the video; a Chibok girl speaks in mother tongue and narrates how airstrikes has killed dozens of her mates.
Salkida later twitted the YouTube link to the video on Sunday morning.
In what appeared to be a change of tone after the military declared him and others wanted, Salkida tweeted links to his report published on December 12, 2011, in which he said he was critical of Boko Haram.
He tweeted the link together with another link to another report by him on the division in the camp of the sect, saying, “Recently, BH threatened me for this.”
After this, Salkida twitted a link to a paper he said he delivered in Senegal in 2012, titled ‘Reporting Terrorism in Africa: My Personal Experience with Boko Haram.’
COVID-19: Indian Travellers Regains Entry Into Nigeria
The federal government of Nigeria on Monday said travellers from India will no longer be denied entry into Nigeria as the country has been removed from the list of flagged countries.
In May, in an effort to curb the spread of the global health pandemic, the federal government had banned travellers from Brazil, India and Turkey from visiting the country.
Speaking on Monday during the national briefing of the presidential steering committee (PSC) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), said the situation in the Asian county has improved.
“The Global cases recorded continues to decline to about 4m cases weekly, although it is less, compared to last year and the situation calls for caution because we are not out of the woods yet. Africa and Nigeria in particular, continue to record rising cases and lots of fatalities,” Mustapha said.
“This can really be curtailed and reduced minimally if we adhere strictly to the NPIs. I recognize the fact that people are fatigued and tired but let me encourage all Nigerians not to give up. We all need to come together to defeat this dreaded disease so we can return to our normal life.
“The most potent way of getting out of this situation is through vaccines, which science and research has presented to us. I call on every eligible person to come out and be vaccinated. There are various choices now. We have AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson and Johnson and we expect Pfizer to be delivered very soon. There will be enough vaccines to go around soon. By the second quarter of 2022, we would have received about 52 million doses of the vaccines.
“To ease travels for fully vaccinated Nigerians, we are exploring the principles of reciprocity between Nigeria and other nations. For the time being, Nigerians are advised to always carry their vaccination card details or barcode on their electronic devices for easy access especially for those travelling outside the country.
“Compliance with protocols laid down for quarantine to ensure control remains a source of worry to the PSC. The need to review the protocol has become expedient to align with existing global protocols and realities. On this note, the PSC will adopt a sustainable model and policy that will be unveiled soon. To begin with, India has been removed from the list of flagged countries in view of improved situation in that country.”
“On this note, the PSC will adopt a sustainable model and policy that will be unveiled soon”, he said.
Osagie Ehanire, minister of health said evidence has so far shown that the Delta strain is already dominant in Nigeria.
He warned that though the third wave of the pandemic may appear to be leveling out because there have been no catastrophic increases in infections and fatalities, it is not wise to assume that the threat is gone, especially as cases are fluctuating and have to be identified by genomic sequencing.
The minister assured that even though there is a 25 percent shortfall in CICAX supply, Nigeria will not run low on vaccines.
Ehanire further noted that there were reports of new coronavirus mutations circulating in other countries, and assured that government will monitor with all tools available to respond appropriately.
Also speaking, Faisal Shuaib, executive director of, National Primary Healthcare Development Agency noted that vaccine cards were becoming a requirement across the country.
He, therefore, warned against any attempt to produce/procure and sell fake COVID-19 vaccination cards.
“Anyone who ventures into this would be apprehended and made to face the law. This is a criminal offense, in which both the buyer and seller would be prosecuted.
“We, therefore, urge all Nigerians to report any suspected attempt by any person or group of persons to buy or sell a COVID-19 vaccination card to us via our call centre line on 0700 220 1122, any of our social media handles (Facebook and Instagram), at the nearest police station or any other law enforcement agency. No one needs to cut corners on COVID-19 vaccination.
“The vaccines are free, and the vaccination cards are given free of charge at any of our designated health facilities after your vaccination,” Shuaib said.
South Africa Plans To Introduce Covid Passport
South Africa has announced plans to introduce a vaccine passport amid widespread mistrust of the Covid-19 vaccine in the continent’s most affected country.
President Cyril Ramaphosa made the announcement in a televised address to the nation and assured that the immunization of the adult population was a necessary prerequisite to fully reopen the economy and avoid a fourth wave of infections, while the number of cases has dropped sharply in the country.
In two weeks, we will “provide more information on a system of ‘vaccine passports’ that can be used as proof of vaccination for various purposes and events,” he said without providing further details.
He added that the “sustained decline in infections (…) over the past few weeks” would, however, allow for a relaxation of the restrictive measures starting Monday.
The nightly curfew will be extended by one hour, to 11 p.m., and the limits on gatherings will be raised.
Restrictions on the sale of alcohol will also be eased, although protective masks will still be required in places open to the public.
The peak of a third stubborn wave due to the Delta variant is now over. Over the past seven days, the average number of new daily infections has dropped 29 percent from the previous week and 48 percent from the week before, Ramaphosa said.
“Our most urgent task is to vaccinate our population,” he said, noting that vaccine supply “is no longer a constraint.”
“If many people are not vaccinated (…) the risk of new and more dangerous variants emerging is much greater,” he warned.
After delays in the supply and distribution of doses, the vaccination campaign is now struggling to take off because of skepticism about the vaccine, especially among men.
To date, just over seven million people have been fully vaccinated in South Africa, with more than a quarter of adults have received at least one dose.
The country’s goal is to vaccinate 40 million South Africans, or about two-thirds of the population, by next March.
Authorities have recorded more than 2.8 million cases of the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, and 84,877 deaths, making it the worst affected country in Africa by the pandemic.
South African scientists are monitoring a new local variant with an unusually high mutation rate, dubbed C.1.2, although its presence is so far marginal among new cases detected in the country.
FG Launches GEEP 2.0 Plans To Lift 100M Nigerians Out Of Poverty
The Federal Government of Nigeria on Tuesday in Abuja inaugurated the restructured Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) now known as GEEP 2.0. to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty.
Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, speaking during the inauguration said the programme was a veritable tool designed to end poverty in many ways.
She said that GEEP was one of the components of the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP).
According to her, the initial GEEP targets the unbanked poor and vulnerable but skilled population that has always been left out on credit delivery programmes and is directed at providing soft and affordable loans to finance their businesses.
“The GEEP is innovatively targeted and delivered under three unique products – the TraderMoni for marginalised youths, The MarketMoni targets vulnerable women, and the FarmerMoni specifically focuses on rural farmers.
“With President Muhammdu Buhari’s gracious approval of expansion to provide loans to an additional one million beneficiaries with emphasis to targeting smallholder farmers in the year 2020/2021, the GEEP has been restructured and is being flagged-off today as GEEP 2.0.
“The GEEP 2.0 is structured to effectively deliver soft loans and skills to a wide range of unemployed citizens including persons living with disability, marginalised women and unemployed youths amongst other vulnerable groups in our society.
“I wish to state here that the GEEP 2.0 is well-coordinated and has an implementation model that accommodates representation at the Federal, State and Local Government levels,” Farouq said.
Farouq said that part of the new strategies include an increase in the loan portfolio of TraderMon/ and Market Moni loans from N10, 000 to N50,000, while the FarmerMoni is now N300,000.
“There is also the provision of the value chain and creation of digital marketplace (E-platform) for beneficiaries to sell their products.
“In addition, there is a digital integration and coordination platform along with a strong and centralised monitoring and evaluation system aimed at enhancing loans recovery.’’
Speaking, the Minister of Youths and Sports, Mr Sunday Dare who also represented the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha said he was delighted at the inauguration of the GEEP 2.0.
Dare said whenever he saw other ministries that helped in reducing the burden of youths unemployment from his ministry, he was happy, adding that youths were the biggest beneficiaries of NSIP.
Similarly, Mr Clem Agba, the State Minister of Financial, Budget and National Planning said his ministry had been at the forefront of ensuring human dignity and protecting households from poverty.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Pauline Tallen said women and youths were always affected by humanitarian crisis and poverty.
Tallen said that the GEEP 2.0 would now help the poor and marginalised women and youths who did not have collateral to secure loans.
Also, the Minister of State for Education, Mr Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba said that the inauguration of the GEEP 2.0 was an indication to show that President Buhari meant it when he said he wanted to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.
“It is evident that as we collaborate and corporate with all hands on deck, we shall achieve the ultimate objectives of the programme.”
Dr Garba Abari, the Director-General, National Orientation Agency (NOA) said the agency would work with state programme managers and focal persons toward the success of the NSIP.
Meanwhile, the Team Lead of the GEEP 2.0, Ms Zainab Musawa said that intended beneficiaries would be effectively supervised and monitored by desk officers in all 774 local government areas, state programme managers and the ministry in partnership with NOA.
“Essentially, GEEP 2.0 is a continuation of the Buhari administration’s laudable empowerment drive committed to the upliftment of oppressed Nigerians and we hope the programme will engender job creation.”
Ms Hadiza Hambuza, a representative of Access Bank Plc said the bank would work with the beneficiaries to achieve the objectives of the programme.
The event attracted officials from Presidency, National Assembly, NEMA, EFCC, FCTA Disability Commission among others.
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