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FG swaps 82 Chibok Girls With Boko Haram Prisoners

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Boko Haram
  • FG swaps 82 Chibok Girls With Boko Haram Prisoners

The Presidency on Saturday said security agencies secured the release of 82 Chibok girls in exchange for some Boko Haram prisoners.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, disclosed this in a statement made available to journalists on Saturday night.

Shehu said President Muhammadu Buhari was scheduled to formally receive the freed girls in Abuja on Sunday.

The statement read, “The President is pleased to announce that negotiations to release more of the Chibok Girls have born fruit with the release of 82 more girls today.

“After months of patient negotiations, our security agencies have taken back these abducted girls in exchange for some Boko Haram suspects held by the authorities.

“The girls are due tomorrow (Sunday) in Abuja to be received by the President.

“The President expressed his deep gratitude to security agencies, the military, the government of Switzerland, the Red Cross, local and international NGOs for the success of this operation.

“It may be recalled that when the first batch of 21 Girls were released in October last year, the President directed the security agencies to continue in earnest until all the Chibok Girls have been released and reunited with their families.

“The President has been receiving full reports from the Director-General of the State Security Services at each stage of the process.”

Sources from the Nigerian Air Force on Saturday also confirmed that Boko Haram terrorists released about 82 Chibok girls, who are presently in Banki, Borno.

On the night of April 14, 2014, 276 female students were kidnapped from the Government Secondary School in the town of Chibok. Fifty-seven of the schoolgirls managed to escape over the next few months

In May 2016, one of the abducted girls, Amina Ali, was found and another was discovered later in the month, although parents expressed doubts as her name was not among those originally kidnapped. Twenty-one girls were freed in October last year, while one other was rescued the next month. Another was found in January this year. With the latest release of 82 more girls, a total of 164 girls have gained their freedom, while 112 are still in Boko Haram captivity.

It was gathered that the Air Component of Operation Lafiya Dole was making preparations for the airlifting of the girls first to Maiduguri, then to the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, after which the girls would be reunited with their parents.

One of the sources, an NAF pilot involved in the North-East operations, who could not be named because he was not authorised to speak on the development, told one of our correspondents that the report was true.

“Yes, it is true that the Boko Haram (terrorists) released some of the girls today (Saturday) based on some negotiation terms. You recall that some of their leaders were badly hit (some) days back. The official quarters do not have much detail yet,” he said.

The NAF source added that the girls were currently undergoing some psychological and medical tests.

President Muhammadu Buhari’s Personal Assistant on Social Media, Lauretta Onochie, also confirmed the release of the 82 Chibok girls on her Twitter handle, @Laurestar.

She, however, did not indicate the circumstances under which the girls were released, but attributed the development to “good leadership and a courageous Army.”

Onochie had earlier in the day posted another message in which she said the same Nigerian soldiers who ran away from battle during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan are now chasing Boko Haramterrorists under Buhari.

“The same Nigerian soldiers who ran away like chickens under Jonathan are roaring like lions, chasing BokoHaram. It’s all about leadership,” she wrote.

The Defence Headquarters, Abuja, on the other hand, said it had yet to verify the information.

The Director, Defence Information, Maj.-Gen. John Eneche, said, “I do not have that information yet. When it comes to us, we will definitely get across to you.”

The Director, Army Public Relations, Brig.-Gen. SaniUsman, could not be reached for comments as he did not respond to several calls made to his telephone.

Similarly, the Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Adesanya, said he had yet to receive the details of any group of freed Chibok girls.

He said, “I will carry out my findings and get back to you. But I presently don’t have such information.”

However, the Chairman of the Chibok Community in Abuja, Tsana Abana, while confirming the release of the girls to one of our correspondents, added that the girls would be moved to Maiduguri on Sunday (today).

“It is true. I spoke with a top government official in Borno. He said 82 girls had been released on Friday but that there are some logistics going on, and that is why the news was delayed. The girls are still in Banki and they would be moved to Maiduguri tomorrow (Sunday),” Abanastated.

Also commenting on the report of the release of the girls, the President of the Chibok Youth Community who is also a member of the #BringBackOurGirls movement, Moses Zakwa, on Saturday night said the Chibok community was eager to hear Federal Government to make a formal announcement on the girls’ return, pointing out that the news called for celebration.

“We found the news to be a good one but we can’t jubilate yet. We are awaiting a formal announcement from the Federal Government that the girls have been released. If the news turns out to be true, we will celebrate. We have heard the report and a lot of people are wondering if the report of the girls’ release is true or not. The Chibokcommunity in Abuja are ready to welcome the girls. It is cause for celebration; we have to rejoice.

“The BBOG movement too will mobilise its members. We can only hope that the report is true. It calls for a huge celebration — that our lost girls have been found. Everyone has been calling to find out if it is true. We are waiting; we are hopeful to see the girls again,” Zakwa said.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Government

Lagos State Moves to Completely Ban Okada, Keke, Introduces Minibuses

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Minibus - Investors King

The Lagos State Government on Monday announced plans to completely ban the use of motorcycles (okada) and tricycles (Keke) due to rising crime and lawlessness across the state.

The announcement was made after a stakeholders’ meeting held at the Adeyemi Bero Auditorium, Alausa Secretariat, Ikeja.

In the meeting attended by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa; the Chief Judge, Kazeem Alogba; the Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, traditional and religious leaders and members of the civil society, among others, the governor said the string of lawlessness daily witnessed from the confrontation between commercial motorcyclists and law enforcement agencies required urgent action.

Based on all that we have seen and experienced in the past couple of weeks, as well as the increasing threat posed by the activities of commercial motorcycle operators to the safety and security of lives, we will be announcing further changes to the parameters of motorcycle and tricycle operations in the state in the coming days. No society can make progress amid such a haughty display of lawlessness and criminality,” he added.

Sanwo-Olu said from next week, the state would be inaugurating the First and Last Mile buses next week, which would take the routes the motorcycles were plying.

The state Commissioner of Police, Odumosu, raised the alarm over rising security breaches from the menace of okada operations in the state.

He said between January and early this month, 320 commercial motorcycles were impounded in 218 cases of criminal incidents in which 78 suspects were detained and 480 ammunition recovered.

In the same period, the Lagos police boss said Okada accounted for 83 per cent of 385 cases of avoidable fatal vehicular accidents in Lagos.

At the end of the meeting, a 12-point resolution was reached, among which was a ban on Okada “as a means of transportation in the state.”

 

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2023 Voter’s Registration Will Be Online, Biometric To Be Captured Physically- INEC

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday unfolded plans to allow online filing during the continuous voter registration for the 2023 general election.

The National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee of INEC, Mr. Festus Okoye, however, said only the biometric would be captured physically by INEC officials.

But the commission suffered another setback yesterday as arsonists torched its office in Ohafia Local Government Area of Abia State.

Okoye, during a stakeholders’ meeting on expanding voter access to polling units in Kano yesterday, said: “On June 28, the voter registration exercise for those above 18 years and those who have not registered before will commence with two new innovations. Those versatile with computer can register online and only visit a registration centre to capture their biometrics.”

Okoye stated that the online registration would be introduced to reduce crowd at registration centres in line with COVID-19 protocols.

The commission called on citizens, especially those willing to contest elections, whose voter cards have been defaced, whose names were wrongly spelt or addresses and locations wrongly captured to present themselves for authentication or correction.

INEC also called for valid data of all those with disabilities or physical challenges to be captured during the continuous registration for proper projections ahead of the 2023 general election.

INEC also warned political parties and politicians who have started campaigning to desist from doing so.

Okoye said: “There is a ban on political campaigns which has not been lifted yet. And I find it necessary to draw your attention for you to understand the legal implication of violating this ban.

“I have listened to comments on radio stations, which are capable of heating the polity. Media organisations should avoid providing platforms for such comments. The media should try to curtail such tensions.

“Political parties, politicians and their supporters should understand there is a legal framework for campaigns and it has not commenced yet.”

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No Plans To Relocate AFRICOM HQ To Nigeria Or Any Part Of Africa- U.S. Replies Buhari

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AFRICOM HQ

The United States has said there is no plan to relocate its Africa Command from its current base in Germany to Nigeria or any other part of Africa despite the worsening state of insecurity in the region.

The US gave the response barely two weeks after President Muhammadu Buhari appealed to the US government to consider relocating AFRICOM to Africa to assist Nigeria and other adjoining countries to combat worsening terrorism, banditry and other security crises.

The President made the plea in a virtual meeting with the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, on April 27.

Germany-based Africa Command (AFRICOM) is the US military headquarters that oversees its operations in Africa.

Buhari’s request followed a series of recent military casualties in Nigeria’s decade-long fight against Boko Haram terrorists, fresh expansion of the insurgents’ bases to Niger and Nasarawa States, and heavy waves of abductions and killings by bandits in the North.

Buhari said, “The security challenges in Nigeria remain of great concern to us and impacted more negatively, by existing complex negative pressures in the Sahel, Central and West Africa, as well as the Lake Chad Region.

“Compounded as the situation remains, Nigeria and her security forces remain resolutely committed to containing them and addressing their root causes.

“The support of important and strategic partners like the United States cannot be overstated as the consequences of insecurity will affect all nations, hence the imperative for concerted cooperation and collaboration of all nations to overcome these challenges.

“In this connection, and considering the growing security challenges in West and Central Africa, Gulf of Guinea, Lake Chad region and the Sahel, weighing heavily on Africa, it underscores the need for the United States to consider relocating AFRICOM headquarters from Stuttgart, Germany to Africa and near the Theatre of Operation.”

However, the US government on Thursday ruled out any plan to relocate AFRICOM from its current base in Germany to Nigeria or any part of Africa.

According to the United States Department of Defence’ Pentagon, previous studies have shown that the cost of relocating AFRICOM from Germany to Africa is very huge.

In an emailed response to The PUNCH, the Pentagon said although it would continue to value Nigeria and other countries in Africa as important partners, the American government would not consider relocating AFRICOM to any part of the African continent at the moment.

This newspaper had asked if the US would consider Nigeria’s request to relocate AFRICOM to the continent.

“It would be inappropriate to speculate on any future actions. However, at this time, moving this headquarters (AFRICOM HQ) to Africa is not part of any plans, but USAFRICOM’s commitment to their mission, our African and other partners, remains as strong today as when we launched this command more than a decade ago,” US Pentagon spokesperson, Ms. Cindi King, said.

King also ruled out any plan to consider Buhari’s request in an ongoing global US defence review.

She said, “Although there is an ongoing Global Posture Review, the relocation of Combatant Command headquarters is outside the scope of its assessment. In the case of AFRICOM, previous studies have concluded that the cost associated with the relocation of this headquarters is significant and likely to incur the expense of other engagement opportunities and activities that more directly benefit our valued African partners.

“We greatly value the partnership with Nigeria and appreciate President Buhari’s recognition of the United States’ positive contribution to African peace and security, as well as other regional partners that have made similar past pronouncements. The United States remains committed to continuing our close partnership with African countries and organisations to promote security and stability.”

It’s ‘near impossible’ for America to accept Buhari’s invitation –Campbell, ex-US ambassador

Meanwhile, a former United States Ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell, has listed reasons why it is “unlikely or near impossible” for the US government to relocate AFRICOM from Stuttgart in Germany to Nigeria or any part of the continent.

He said aside from the fact that the cost of doing so is very huge, the Nigerian military had proved to be a difficult partner for the US over the years.

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