- Chibok Parents Beg Buhari to Pay More Ransom For Other Girls
Chibok parents on Saturday night called on President Muhammadu Buhari to pay additional ransom so that other girls still being held by Boko Haram could be released.
They made the appeal following a report by the British Broadcasting Corporation that the Federal Government had to cough up at least €2m to get the 82 girls released. The parents who spoke said money should not be a problem with the government in rescuing the remaining girls.
According to them, no amount of money will be too much to give Boko Haram in exchange for the girls.
One of the Chibok girls’ parent, whose two daughters have yet to be rescued, Rev. Enoch Mark, said, “The government should do anything they can to bring back our daughters – even if it means they have to pay to get them back. My daughters are not among the rescued girls.”
Another parent, Yana Galang, said, “I am still in Abuja. My daughter is not among them. The government should assist us and secure the release of more girls by all means. We are happy. We are grateful for their efforts so far.”
Secretary of the Chibok Girls’ Parents’ Association, Mr. Zanna Lawan, said that the Chibok community did not have the prerogative to tell the Federal Government how to rescue the remaining Chibok girls, paying more ransom wasn’t out of place.
Lawan said, “We thank the Federal Government and the military. We also want to beg the government of President Muhammadu Buhari that if it is money that will bring back our remaining girls, they should use it to free them from Boko Haram custody.”
Yakubu Mutah, whose daughter is still among those held by the terrorist group, told one of our correspondents that he was certain the Federal Government would do the needful.
He stated, “We cannot force the government to pay for the release of the remaining girls. We can only beg them to use all the resources in their possession to bring back our girls, be it money or any other thing.”
For Goni Mutah Pana, whose daughter is among those recently released by Boko Haram, the Buhari administration should stop at nothing to get other girls back.
Another Chibok parent, who begged not to be named, said she does not care what the federal government does to ensure the release of the rest Chibok girls, as long as she would see her daughter again. “If it was one of their daughters that was kidnapped, will they be asking about what needs to be done? All I want is to have my daughter back,” the distraught mother said.
Nigeria pay €2m for Chibok girls release – Report
Apart from handing over five prominent terrorists to Boko Haram in exchange for the release of 82 Chibok girls recently, €2m was also paid to the terrorist group, the British Broadcasting Corporation reports.
President Muhammadu Buhari was alleged to have been reluctant in approving the disbursement of the money.
According to the BBC, the money paid in cash was handed over to the insurgents in exchange for the release of the girls.
The report noted that the five senior Boko Haram militants were bomb-makers.
It noted further that it took a lot of convincing to get Buhari to approve the money.
“It should have happened sooner, but the President was hesitating about freeing the five (commanders) – and especially about the money,” the BBC quoted a source with detailed knowledge of the deal, as saying.
“The issue of the money was the most difficult part of the whole negotiation. He didn’t want to pay any money. The ransom was €2m. Boko Haram asked for euros. They chose the suspects and gave us the list of girls who would be freed,” the source added.
The online medium noted that the claim could not be independently verified.
The report added that though there were setbacks during the negotiation, trust was gradually built on both sides.
A human rights lawyer, Zanna Mustapha, was part of the negotiations, and was the key middleman in the release of the 82 Chibok girls.
With more than a hundred Chibok girls still being held, efforts to get them released are continuing.
There are thought to be at least 13 more Boko Haram commanders in the Federal Government’s custody who could be exchanged.
Speaking on the money paid by the Presidency, a retired military officer, Col. Olusegun Oloruntoba, pointed out that no amount of money or sacrifice was too much to bring back the Chibok girls.
“No amount of money can buy a life; how much more that of 82 young lives. The ransom paid is in favour of Nigeria and the Chibok girls’ family in particular. I urge the Federal Government to go ahead and make whatever sacrifice it takes to effect the release of the remaining Chibok girls.”
However, a security expert, Col. Gabriel Ajayi (retd.), said that paying €2m as ransom to Boko Haram was too much.
“To pay such a stupendous amount of money is too bad, if it is true. But I think that’s a rumour because the Presidency has not come out to tell us that they paid such amount to the terrorist group.”
We didn’t pay ransom, FG insists
The Federal Government has denied allegations that it paid a ransom of €2m for the release of 82 Chibok schoolgirls.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Mr. Lai Mohammed, said this during an interview with one of our correspondents on Saturday.
The minister said only five Boko Haram commanders were released in exchange for the girls.
He said, “I emphatically deny on behalf of the Federal Government that any form of ransom was paid in exchange for the release of the 82 Chibok girls.
“Apart from the five Boko Haram commanders, the exchange of which we had already made public, no other concession was made. Any other thing to the contrary is absolutely false.”
Tears of joy as Chibok girls reunite with parents
Emotions reached a climax on Saturday as 164 parents and relatives reunited with their 82 daughters who had been in Boko Haram captivity for over three years.
The reunion took place in a well guarded facility owned by the Department of State Services. It is where the 82 girls, who were rescued by the Federal Government on May 6, 2017, were housed.
While some parents shared tears of joy, others began singing in Chibok language and clutched unto their daughters affectionately.
The parents thanked the Federal Government, well-meaning Nigerians and even Boko Haram for the release of the girls.
Chibok girl faints at reunion
One of the rescued schoolgirls was so elated on seeing her parents that she immediately fainted at the scene. Medical personnel immediately put her on a stretcher and conveyed to a nearby sickbay.
A cross section of parents, who spoke to Punch in pidgin and Hausa, said they could not describe their emotions.
I thought my daughter was dead —Parent
One of the girls’ fathers, Adamu Joshua, the father of Lydia Joshua, said when his daughter was abducted in 2014, he completely lost hope and prayed to God to give him another daughter.
His prayers were answered as he showed off his young daughter who was about two years of age.
He said, “I have five sons and a daughter. My daughter, Lydia, was my only daughter but in her absence God blessed me with another daughter. Now I have five boys and two daughters with the return of Lydia, I am so happy, if I had wings, I would fly high, we thank God for everything.
“My daughter Lydia is meeting her sister for the first time. My wife lost so much weight because she was always thinking of her daughter. She did not suspect that Lydia will return to us one day.”
I cried every day for three years —Mother
Another parent, Mrs. Juliana Bulus, said she was happy to be reunited with her daughter, Comfort Bulus.
Juliana said since the day her daughter was abducted by the terrorists, she cried every day for the last three years.
She said when Comfort was abducted, the men in Chibok community put a rescue team together and attempted to rescue her and her colleagues but they had no choice but to retreat when they were confronted by the terrorists.
Bulus said, “I was heartbroken after her abduction, I had no peace of mind, all I did was to worry. After their abduction, our husbands ran after them and discovered the girls’ location but they were told that if they got close to the place, they would be killed so they turned back.
“I became more heartbroken after they returned empty-handed and all I did was cry every day. That was how I survived all these years crying.”
Even if I die now, I’m happy —Dirmi
Another parent, Joshua Dirmi, said when his daughter Yana, was abducted from school, he barred his other children from going to school for two years.
He said it was not until last year, when some of the girls were rescued, that he decided to allow them to return to school.
Dirmi said reuniting with his daughter was his dying wish. He said now that his wish had come true, he was ready to die.
He said, “Today, my mind feels as if this is the day I was born. Even if I die today, I will die a happy man because my greatest wish has been met.”
Dirmi said immediately after his daughter’s abduction, he went into the forest along with some men to look for the girls but they were chased away by gun-wielding terrorists.
I don’t want my daughter to know her mother is dead —Yama
It wasn’t all joy for Mr. Pogu Yama, a retired police officer, whose wife died of heartache less than a month after his daughter, Margaret, was abducted.
Yama urged journalists to ensure that his daughter is not informed of her mother’s demise.
He said, “My daughter, Margaret, was her mother’s only daughter; we had only sons. So after she was abducted, her mother was heartbroken and could not bear the thought of it, so that is why I don’t want to talk so much about it.
“I don’t want my daughter to hear of her mother’s death. I am not going to tell her of her mother’s death. She has already gone through a lot as it is. I am scared of what might happen if I break such news to her. I will wait until the rest are back and she is strong enough, then I will tell her.”
Parents to return to Chibok on Monday
Mr. Yakubu Nkeki, the leader of the parent delegation, whose niece, Sarah, is among the rescued girls, said the parents all wanted their daughters to remain with the Federal Government till further notice.
He said the parents would return to Chibok on Monday to tend to their other children as well as their farms.
Nkeki said the entire trip was sponsored by the Federal Government.
He said, “We don’t know when the girls will be allowed to return, they are being taken care of right now.”
SERAP Urges FG to Slash Politicians’ Allowances
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the Chairman of Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), Elias Mbam, to urgently review upward the remuneration, allowances, and conditions of service for Nigerian Judges, and reduce the remuneration of President Muhammadu Buhari and other political office-holders in order to address the persistent poor treatment of Judges, and improve access of victims of corruption to justice.
The appeal came on the heels of a nationwide industrial action by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) to press home their demand for financial autonomy for the judicial arm of government, and the federal government silence on the judiciary workers’ strike that has grounded court activities across the country.
In a letter dated April 10, 2021, which was signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said Judges should get all they are reasonably entitled to, and that it is unfair, illegal, unconstitutional, and discriminatory to continue to treat Judges as second-class people, while high-ranking political office holders enjoy lavish salaries and allowances.
SERAP expressed concern that the remuneration and allowances of Judges have fallen substantially behind the average salaries and allowances of political office-holders such as president, vice-president, governors and their deputies, as well as members of the National Assembly.
The letter read in part: “According to our information, the last review of the remuneration, allowances, and conditions of service for political, public and judicial office holders carried out by RMAFC in 2009 shows huge disparity between the remuneration and allowances of judges and those of political office holders.
“Judges’ work is very considerable but they cannot give their entire time to their judicial duties without the RMAFC reviewing upward their remuneration and allowances, and closing the gap and disparity between the salaries of judges and those of political office holders such as the president, vice-president, governors and their deputies, as well as lawmakers.
“We would therefore be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, the Incorporated Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel the RMAFC to comply with our requests.”
COVAX Delivered 38m Vaccine Doses To Over 100 Countries, Says WHO
The World Health Organisation (WHO) yesterday announced that more than 100 countries have received life-saving COVID-19 vaccines from COVAX, the global mechanism for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
It said the milestone comes 42 days after the first COVAX doses were shipped and delivered internationally, to Ghana on February 24th.
In a statement, the United Nations’ Agency revealed that COVAX has now delivered more than 38 million doses across six continents, supplied by three manufacturers – AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech and the Serum Institute of India (SII).
Of the over 100 economies reached, 61 are among the 92 lower-income economies receiving vaccines funded through the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC).
It, however, said despite reduced supply availability in March and April – the result of vaccine manufacturers scaling and optimising their production processes in the early phase of the rollout, as well as increased demand for COVID-19 vaccines in India – COVAX expects to deliver doses to all participating economies that have requested vaccines in the first half of the year.
According to the CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Dr. Seth Berkley, “In under four months since the very first mass vaccination outside a clinical setting anywhere in the world, it is tremendously gratifying that the roll-out of COVAX doses has already reached 100 countries.
“COVAX may be on track to deliver to all participating economies in the first half of the year yet we still face a daunting challenge as we seek to end the acute stage of the pandemic: we will only be safe when everybody is safe and our efforts to rapidly accelerate the volume of doses depend on the continued support of governments and vaccine manufacturers. As we continue with the largest and most rapid global vaccine rollout in history, this is no time for complacency.”
The WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said: “COVAX has given the world the best way to ensure the fastest, most equitable rollout of safe and effective vaccines to all at-risk people in every country on the planet.
“If we are going to realise this great opportunity, countries, producers and the international system must come together to prioritise vaccine supply through COVAX. Our collective future, literally, depends on it.”
Approved Ibom Deep Sea Port, Proposed $1.4B Fertilizer Plant Will Change Akwa Ibom’s Economic Status – Gov. Udom
Akwa Ibom State Government has said the approved Ibom Deep Seaport and the proposed $1.4 billion Fertilizer and Ammonia Plant are expected to change the economic status of the state.
The State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, made the assertion in an Easter message to the people of the state.
He maintained that with the recent approval and take off of the federal government’s approved Oil and Gas Free Zone and the ongoing construction of the Sterling Petrochemical Plant at Eastern Obolo, the state would be ready to dump its status as a civil service state.
The governor said the fertilizer and ammonia plants should be supported by all indegenes and residents irrespective of political affiliation because of its capacity to change the economic fortunes of the state.
The governor who commended President Muhammadu Buhari for approving the industrial projects in the state said construction work on the Ibom Deep Seaport would commence very soon.
“In recent past, we have been blessed with life-changing projects such as Sterling Petrochemical Plant in Eastern Obolo, where construction is in an advanced stage.
“Two months ago, the Federal Executive Council, (FEC) approved the license for us to commence the construction of our long desired Ibom Deep Seaport. Work would soon commence on this gigantic project. These are huge achievements for our State and our people.
“Ibom Deep Seaport will open up our economic fortunes; create employment and wealth opportunities for our people and throw open our State as a major maritime hub in our nation.
“We thank the President and the Commander in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR) for this kind approval,” he said.
Continuing, Emmanuel said: “About three weeks ago, we signed a $1.4 billion Fertilizer and Ammonia plant with our Moroccan counterparts. The plant will again create huge employment and other supply chain activities for our people, which will transform us from a civil service oriented state to a fast industrialising one.
“These are huge achievements that should gladden the hearts of every Akwa Ibomite irrespective of political affiliations.”
He reminded the people of the state that the essence of Easter would be lost if the resurrection of Christ is not allowed to illuminate their souls through love and sacrifice to one another.
“Let the fishermen in the ocean fronts of Mbo, Okobo, Eastern Obolo and Ibeno love one another. Let the farmers in the rice plantations at Ini, Ikono, Ika, Onna and Nsit Ibom love one another.
“Let the civil servants and public servants, politicians in all political parties, members of all denominations, preachers of all faiths, love one another.
“When we let love drive our every action and every thought, when we let it drip from our lips and from our hands, then shall the joy of Easter be complete, and our State shall surely attain the lofty height set for it by our ancestors when they named it Akwa Abasi Ibom State.” the Governor stated.
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