- Black American Billionaire Offers to Pay for Chibok Girls’ Education
African American billionaire, Mr. Robert Smith, who is currently sponsoring 24 of the kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls that immediately escaped from captivity, at the American University of Nigeria (AUN), Yola, Adamawa State, has offered to also educate the 21 other girls who were freed last October by the Boko Haram terror sect.
Revealing this yesterday, President Muhammadu Buhari’s media aide, Mr. Garba Shehu, equally said that 21 Chibok girls were being treated as adoptees of the federal government, but disclosed that there was a lot of local and international interest in the future plans for the girls.
He said: “A black American billionaire, Mr. Robert Smith who is currently sponsoring the education of 24 girls from Chibok, among them the first set of escapees from Boko Haram, at the American University of Nigeria, Yola, has offered to pay for the education of the 21 girls released through negotiations and is offering to take responsibility for all the others who will hopefully be eventually set free.”
“The Murtala Mohammed Foundation in the country is equally interested,” he hinted.
Responding to complaints by the families of the 21 Chibok girls that officials of the Department of State Services (DSS) had not allowed the girls to visit them at their homes in Chibok on Christmas Day, Shehu admitted that there were some hitches arising from a lack of understanding of the objective of the trip on the part of some security operatives.
However, following the receipt of the complaint, he said a directive had been given from the headquarters of the DSS for the access by the parents to be eased.
“If the situation persists, please let us know so that the higher authorities will make a further intercession,” he said.
The families of the 21 Chibok girls freed by Islamist group Boko Haram had said yesterday that they the girls were being closely guarded and were not allowed home for Christmas.
Boko Haram kidnapped 276 girls in April 2014, but freed 21 of them in October after negotiations with the Red Cross.
The freed girls have been in the federal government’s custody since their release but were brought home to Chibok for Christmas.
But family members told the BBC that the girls were kept in a politician’s house and barred from going home.
They were also prevented from attending church services with their families.
The girls were taken to the house of an assembly member in Chibok to be reunited with their parents but were not allowed to go to their own homes.
“I can’t believe my daughter has come this close to home but can’t come home,” said one father.
“There’s no point bringing them to Chibok only to be locked in another prison. They couldn’t even go to church on Christmas Day.”
Since their release, the young women have been kept in a secret location in Abuja for government debriefing.
Another said a soldier had confiscated his phone when he tried to take a picture of his daughter.
He said: “I snapped a picture of myself and my daughter but the security guys came and grabbed me by shoulder and snatched the phone from my hands and told me to delete all the picture I took.
“I told him I’m taking a picture with my daughter who was away for more than two years. He said to me that’s not his business, he deleted all the pictures including other pictures that were not taken there.”
One mother said: “I can’t believe my eyes that now my daughter cannot come home. How can I be happy when they don’t have freedom?”
A statement from the office of state governor, Kashim Shettima acknowledged yesterday that “armed soldiers… escorted the 21 girls to Chibok and remained their strict guards throughout the Christmas”.
Speaking earlier this week, one of the girls told Reuters news agency it was a “miracle” that she was home and she was looking forward to church on Christmas Day.
“I never knew that I would return (home),” she said simply. “I had given up hope of ever going home.”
Of the 276 students kidnapped, 197 are still reportedly missing, and negotiations for their release are under way.
Many of the Chibok girls were Christian, but were ordered to convert to Islam and to marry their kidnappers during their time in captivity.
Ms. Goni said some were whipped for refusing to marry, but otherwise they were well treated and fed until food supplies recently ran short.
The Chibok girls were first reunited with their parents in Abuja.
Meanwhile, the Borno governor spent the whole of yesterday, Boxing Day, in Chibok town.
A statement by his media aide, Mr. Aliyu Gusau said that while in Chibok, Shettima met the 21 schoolgirls freed by the Boko Haram in October.
Gusau said after the governor took off by road from Maiduguri early yesterday, after which he hosted the girls at a government building in Chibok.
Shettima, he added, was accompanied by Senator Majority Leader, Mohammed Ali Ndume, who represents Borno South where Chibok is located.
“The girls were very excited meeting Shettima again after they had met him in Abuja days after their release from Boko Haram captivity.
“The girls were happy that they presented a gift of a medium sized photo frame with a bold ‘Thank you’ printed on it.
“The frame has the picture that the governor took with the girls when he visited them in Abuja some months back. It also has individual pictures of each of the 21 girls.
“Glory Dama, one of the 21 girls, presented the photo frame on behalf of her colleagues. She said they deeply appreciated the show of love by Governor Shettima and his wife, Nana.
“The governor’s wife has visited them countless times in Abuja and whenever she visits, she demands to know their needs and she met them all, Dama said during the presentation,” the statement added.
It noted that the governor informed the girls that with their cheerful mood, the next concern had to be their future.
“As you know, 56 of your colleagues who escaped abduction are currently in two international schools where they have been since 2014. We are taking care of all their educational needs, from school fees to other basics.
“Left to me, I would want the 21 of you to join them in those two schools so that you can all feel at home and move on. However, the federal government has a plan, which we will jointly discuss and come up with a decision that is acceptable to you our daughters.
“President Muhammadu Buhari loves you so much and he is deeply concerned about our daughters that are yet to be freed. He is working on that and we are all working,” Shettima was quoted as informing the girls.
Shettima also announced the appointment of Yakubu Nkeki, the chairman of an association of the Chibok schoolgirls’ parents as councillor of the Mbalala ward in Chibok Local Government Area.
“We appointed Yakubu Nkeki as councillor for him to have a formal platform to continue his advocacy for the welfare of families of the missing Chibok girls, for him to ensure that they are given special consideration at all times by the local government area on all issues, particularly on welfare, on issues of health, empowerment, etc.
“Nkeki will also serve as a constant reminder to the council that there are parents like him who live in pain. He is simply there to advocate for the welfare of the parents and also as someone who has been a victim, he will stand by the efforts of government to protect schools through community surveillance in addition to formal security establishments,” Shettima said.
The governor also consoled parents whose daughters were yet to be freed, promising that all hands were on deck to ensure the return of all the girls. “I will be meeting the parents tomorrow (today),” he said.
Shettima presented clothes to the girls and their parents. The governor had previously donated clothes to the girls in Abuja.
After his visit to Chibok, Shettima drove to Askira town where he passed the night and is scheduled to return to Chibok today for meetings with community leaders and separate meetings with parents whose schoolgirls were yet to be released and those of the 21 girls freed in October.
Askira where Shettima slept, was attacked by the insurgents in 2014 forcing residents including the emir to flee to Maiduguri.
The emir returned some months back after his palace was rebuilt by Shettima. Hundreds of residents returned with the emir.
Nigeria Immigration Service Reopens Portal With New Passport Application and Payment Process
The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has announced the reopening of its passport application and payment portal.
The assistant comptroller of immigration, Mr Amos Okpu announced in a statement in Abuja on Tuesday.
In the statement, Mr Muhammad Babandede, the Comptroller-General of the service, said the portal became effective for new applications from 12 midnight on Tuesday.
Babandede further said that the portal would allow eligible applicants to apply and make payments for the various categories of passports of their choice.
Mr Muhammad Babandede explained that with the reopening of the portal, a new passport application and payment regime had begun.
The statement in full:
“The Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (CGI), Muhammad Babandede MFR, has announced the reopening of the Passport application and payment portal effective 8th June 2021 by 12 midnight to allow eligible Passport applicants to apply and make payments for the various categories of Passports of their choice.
The Passport portal was closed following the directives of the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola on the 17th of May, 2021to afford the Service the opportunity to clear all backlogs of applications that have piled up across Issuing Centres in the past few months.
With the reopening of the portal, a new Passport application and payment regime have commenced. Under the new Passport regime;
Applications and payments for Passport services shall be made through the Service website www.immigration.gov.ng;
- applicants are expected to visit the portal to apply and upload their support documents for vetting and processing;
- a chat room facility to guide applicants through the application and payment process has been provided on the portal;
- upon successful applications, applicants shall make their online booking interview/enrollment appointment on any day, time and location they consider convenient;
- that the new timeline for Passport production and issuance after a successful enrollment at the selected Issuing Centre shall be six weeks for Fresh applications and three weeks for Re-issue (Renewal applications);
- that no applicant who is yet to make an online application and payment shall be allowed into any of the Passport Issuing Centres for Passport processing;
- applicants will be contacted through email and phone number they provided during application when their Passports are ready;
- a helpline with the number 08021819988 has been provided for feedback mechanism on any challenges.
The Comptroller General, Muhammad Babandede MFR wishes to use this medium to call on Nigerians and indeed Passport applicants to avoid patronizing touts as the entire process has been made seamless for effective and efficient service delivery. He warned Passport racketeers to desist from acts capable of undermining the reform efforts to avoid very strict sanctions.
Signed AMOS OKPU MNIPR
ASSISTANT COMPTROLLER OF IMMIGRATION
SERVICE PUBLIC RELATIONS OFFICER
For: COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF IMMIGRATION 8TH JUNE, 2021″
INEC To Publish The List Of New Polling Units Next Week
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has pledged to publish a comprehensive list of its new polling units across the nation next week.
The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, disclosed this on Monday in Abuja.
Yakubu was speaking at the formal handing over of a new state of the art fire truck, deployed to the Commission’s headquarters in Abuja by the Federal Fire Service (FFS).
He said that details of the locations of its registration centers and the procedure for the commencement of online registration for resumption of nationwide Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) would be made available in the second week of May.
He expressed appreciation of the commission to the FFS and all security agencies for the demonstration of their support to protecting INEC facilities
He said that the support was coming on the eve of the resumption of the CVR nationwide in the next three weeks.
“We earlier assured Nigerians that we shall conclude work on the expansion of voter access to polling units and make the new polling units available to citizens ahead of the CVR exercise.
“I am glad to report that we have accomplished this task for the first time in 25 years.
“A comprehensive list of the new polling units will be published next week.
“Similarly, details of the locations of the registration centers and the procedure for the commencement of online registration will also be made available after a series of regular consultative meetings with stakeholders next week,” Yakubu said.
He said that as a member of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) FFS had been as concerned as other security agencies about the recent attacks on our offices across the country.
“This is particularly so because out of the 42 attacks on our facilities nationwide, 18 incidents resulted from arson and three more by a combination of arson and vandalisation.”
Yakubu recalled that concerned by those incidents, the commission convened an emergency meeting of ICCES last week of April, where the security agencies renewed their determination to collaborate more with the commission.
According to him, they pledged to assist the commission address the challenge beyond the routine protection of INEC assets and the security of its officials, voters, observers, the media, candidates and their agents during elections.
“On its part, the Federal Fire Service offered to deploy an additional state-of-the-art fire engine to the INEC headquarters to complement the two existing trucks.
“At the same time, it directed its state offices to take additional protective measures around other INEC facilities nationwide.
“Today’s inauguration of the new fire engine is another affirmation of the support to the commission from the FFS whose personnel, already deployed permanently to the commission
“The personnel will continue to operate and maintain the fire engines and other firefighting equipment installed by INEC,” Yakubu said.
Speaking earlier, the Controller-General (CG) of FFS, Alhaji Liman Ibrahim said the deployment of the firefighting truck was premised on recent fire attacks on INEC offices in different parts of the country.
Ibrahim, represented by the Assistant Controller-General of the service, Mr Samson Karebo, said the deployed truck would serve as fire cover for the premises of INEC headquarters and the entire Maitama vicinity of Abuja.
“The FFS is taking this step as a proactive measure to protect our critical infrastructure and help to protect our economy by forming synergy with all stakeholders in protecting our environments.
“Our center is focused on bringing firefighting operations to every part of the country as part of our statutory duties by having a presence in virtually every state in Nigeria
“The FFS will very soon be moving into all senatorial headquarters in the country. That is how we want to operate for now so that we can touch every corner of this country,” Ibrahim said.
He called for the cooperation of all for the service to better serve the nation by not molesting FFS staff in the line of duty.
In his remarks, the National Security Adviser (NSA) retired Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno, who is also Co-Chair of ICCES, described the deployment of the truck as a demonstration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to sustain Nigeria’s democracy and address insecurity.
Monguno said that the gesture also symbolised commitment to a clear affirmation of Buhari toward protecting institutions of government, toward securing their property, toward fighting acts of irresponsibility, vandalisation and outright criminality.
“The President is determined as much as he can within the confines of legality to suppress any kind of criminality and destruction of public property.
“This is something that he is determined to do regardless of whatever the challenges are.
“He will apply all the resources in his disposal in his capacity as the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces to ensure the wider Nigerian society is safe, stable and is allowed to carry out its legitimate undertaking, free from any act of insecurity,” he said
Monguno urged all other security agencies not to relent in ensuring that they continued to protect lives and property.
The Inspector-General of Police, Mr Usman Baba pledged commitment to security agencies to work with INEC and protect INEC’s facilities, citizens’ life and property.
Also at the occasion was the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, represented by Director of Joint Services, Mr Peter Obodo; as well as the representative of Director-General, Directorate of State Services, Tony Adikweruka.
Recovered Assets: Ad-hoch Committee Gives Emefiele, Others 72 Hours Ultimatum
The House of Representatives ad-hoc committee, investigating recovered assets, has given the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, and National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, 72 hours to appear before it.
The committee also issued same ultimatum to the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali, and the Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Bashir Jamoh.
The summon was issued on Monday, after Mr Emefiele and the others failed to appear before the committee.
The government officials had sent representatives, but the committee chairman, Adejoro Adeogun (APC, Ondo), said they failed to forward letters to that effect.
He said allowing representatives without a proper letter of introduction would be akin to allowing “impersonators.”
“You are indirectly insulting the House of Representatives. You are undermining the House of Representatives,” an angry Mr Adeogun said.
Moving a motion to give the agencies 72hours to appear before the committee, Ibrahim Isiaka (APC, Ogun), said the agencies created by Acts of the parliament “should not be undermining the parliament”.
The motion was unanimously adopted by the committee.
Mr Isiaka suggested that the House should shut down its activities if the agencies fail to appear before them.
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