- Threat by Released B’Haram Suspect Puts Prisoner Swap Deals in Jeopardy
A threat by one of the recently swapped Boko Haram leaders to launch attacks on Abuja is fuelling apprehension and reservation about the viability of the prisoner exchange deals under which 82 Chibok schoolgirls were freed by the terror group about a fortnight ago.
Shuaibu Moni, one of the Boko Haram commanders the federal government said it released in exchange for the girls, hinted in a new video released by the terrorist sect that there might be imminent bombing of the federal capital. He also issued threats to President Muhammadu Buhari and the Nigerian authorities.
The threat of fresh attacks by the freed suspect caused apprehension in Abuja at the weekend, as residents feared for their lives. It also raised doubts among Nigerians about the effectiveness of the swap deals, which many feared might also swell the depleting ranks of Boko Haram commanders. The federal government has said it is still pursuing the prisoner exchange option to achieve freedom for all the over 200 schoolgirls kidnapped from Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, in Borno State, on April 14, 2014 by Boko Haram.
But the Nigerian Army saturday dismissed the Boko Haram video as mere propaganda meant to seek relevance.
Director of Army Public Relations, Brigadier-general Sani Usman, said, “In the video circulating on social media platforms, the Boko Haram sect threatened to intensify attacks, boasting about the terrorists’ return to the dreaded Sambisa forest in the North-east.” Usman told the public not to panic, saying the video is a mere publicity stunt by a terrorist organisation on its last legs.
In a related development, tension heightened at the University of Maiduguri yesterday following a bomb attack on the campus in the early hours of the morning, which killed four persons, including a security officer. It was the third time the university would be so attacked since the January 16 bomb explosions in which a professor was among those killed. Many have vacated the school for fear of more attacks.
The Army statement read, ““The attention of the Nigerian Army has been drawn to two video clips released by one of the released Boko Haram terrorists in exchange for the abducted Chibok schoolgirls.
“In the first clip, the terrorist, among other things, made boastful and spurious allegations, while the second clip was about alleged indoctrination of some of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls in captivity.
“We wish to state that the terrorist has lost touch with current realities. It was aimed at seeking relevance and attention.”
Usman stated regarding Moni, “As you are all aware, he was a direct beneficiary of the process that led to the release of 82 of the abducted girls, and does not have a say or capacity to do anything. Therefore, his threats should be ignored.
“We would like to assure the public that the Nigerian Army is totally committed to the federal government’s determined efforts of rescuing all abducted persons and peace in the country. We will not relent our determined efforts of clearing the remnants of the Boko Haram terrorists as manifested through the on-going clearance operations.
“The Nigerian Air Force is unrelenting in its bombardment while other security agencies are equally doing their best.
“Therefore, we wish to solicit for more support, cooperation and understanding of the public, particularly members of the press.
“We should not give in to terrorists’ propaganda and empty threats. We have come to a very critical stage of the fight against terrorism and insurgency in Nigeria that requires more patriotism and security consciousness by all and sundry. Gone were the days when people glamorised terrorists and their criminal acts.”
At the University of Maiduguri the semester examinations had already been postponed due to the Computer-Based Test for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination being conducted in the school. Yesterday’s explosion caused low turnout of candidates for the examination, according to staff of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board.
One of the staff, Kaka John, told journalists that the six test centres in the university recorded low turnout following the attack. He said the examination did not commence on time because of the early morning bomb blast, which made many candidates to stay away.
John said, “We were supposed to start very early at 9am but I think because of the fear, the students did not show up. This made us to start around 10am.”
He said the security agencies did not also come in time because many of them went to the scene of the blasts.
One student of the institution, who spoke anonymously, said many students left the campus after the attack.
Spokesman of the North-east office of the National Emergency Management Agency, Malam Abdulkadir Ibrahim, confirmed the attack on the institution, in a statement in Maiduguri.
Ibrahim stated, “Today at 1:10am, three suicide bombers, two men and a woman attempted to gain access into the University of Maiduguri, but were sighted by the university security who stopped them for interrogation.
“While interrogating them, the two suicide bombers detonated their explosive devices, which injured one of the securities and killed another.
“The third suicide bomber who hid close to the vicinity of a building in the university later detonated her explosive which affected the structure of the building with no casualty.
“The injured was taken to the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital after administration of first aid while the corpses were deposited at Borno Specialist Hospital.”
The Borno Police Command also confirmed the incident.
The spokesman of the command, Mr Victor Isuku, in a statement in Maiduguri, said, “In the early hours of today, about 0130, three male suicide bombers gained entry into the premises of University of Maiduguri, and advanced towards the mechanical workshop of the university.
“They were intercepted by the university security personnel and soldiers on duty.”
Isuku added, “In an attempt to apprehend them, the suicide bombers hurriedly detonated explosive strapped to their bodies, killing themselves and a university security personnel in the process.
“A soldier was reported injured in the explosion, and is currently receiving treatment at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital.
“The command’s EOD teams were despatched to sanitise the scene and vicinity of the campus for general safety, while normalcy has since been restored.”
Buhari Declares Oct 1 Public Holiday
The Federal Government has declared Thursday, October 1, 2020, as a public holiday to commemorate Nigeria’s 60th Independence Anniversary.
The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, who made the declaration, congratulated all Nigerians on the celebration of the country’s Diamond Jubilee while stressing the government’s commitment to the socio-economic transformation of the country.
This was contained in a statement titled, ‘FG Declares Thursday, October 1, 2020, Public Holiday To Mark Nigeria’s 60th Independence Anniversary’ and signed by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Interior, Georgina Ehuriah.
According to the statement, the minister praised Nigerians for the feats in economy, education, the creative sector, amongst others.
The statement also quoted Aregbesola as saying, “Though celebrating sixty years of independence really calls for pomp and pageantry, but with the global COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced all nations in the world to think and act cautiously, we cannot avoid the imperative of a low-keyed celebration at this time.”
It added, “While wishing Nigerians a fruitful independence celebration, he reminded them of the fact that our founding fathers, in spite of the differences in faith, tribe and tongue came together for Nigeria’s independence.”
INEC To Introduce E-voting, Talking to Machine Manufacturers
INEC Commences Process of Introducing E-voting, Discussing With Manufacturers
The Independent National Electoral Commission on Monday said it has commenced plans to replace manual voting with an electronic voting system.
According to Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who disclosed this during the demonstration of electronic voting machines, the commission has invited manufacturers of electronic voting machines around the world to demonstrate how the machines work and preparatory to the full migration.
He said, “Over the years, the commission has been automating the critical pillars of the process. The biometric register of voters has been updated continuously. At the moment, the INEC register of voters is the largest database of citizens in Nigeria.
“In addition, the combination of biometric voter cards commonly known as the Permanent Voter Card and the Smart Card Reader have revolutionised the accreditation of voters during elections.
“More recently, the introduction of a number of portals has facilitated the seamless nomination of candidates for elective offices by political parties as well as the accreditation of observers and the media.
“Most significantly, the commission now uploads polling unit level results in real-time on Election Day to a portal for public view. These are significant innovations that have deepened the transparency and credibility of elections and the electoral process in Nigeria.
“The commission developed the specifications of the functions required of the machine. After extensive discussion and review, the commission took the decision to invite original manufacturers of electronic voting machines around the world for a virtual or practical demonstration of the machines.”
Yakubu explained that more than 40 companies have indicated interest and would be demonstrating to the commission how the IT solutions meet its specifications.
“The commission is aware that Nigerians want us to deepen the use of technology in elections. Let me reassure Nigerians that the commission is committed to expediting the process leading to the deployment of the EVMs in elections in earnest,” the INEC chairman said.
Mali Sworn In Bah Ndaw as Transition President
Mali’s interim president, Bah Ndaw, chosen to head a transitional government following a coup last month, was sworn in during ceremonies in the capital Bamako on Friday, AFP journalists witnessed.
A committee appointed by the junta which seized power on August 18, toppling President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, selected Ndaw, a 70-year-old retired colonel, as interim president.
Ndaw is due to lead a transition government for a maximum of 18 months before organising national elections.
Colonel Assimi Goita, who led the military junta, was also sworn in as interim vice president.
The ceremony on Friday took place in a theatre filled with officials dressed in military fatigues, senior judges, and foreign diplomats.
During the ceremony, Supreme Court Chief Prosecutor Boya Dembele said the challenges facing both men were “enormous”.
“It will truly require a reformulation of the state,” said the judge, dressed in red fur-lined robes.
The swearing-in comes as the fragile Sahel state’s neighbours have leaned on the military junta to appoint civilians as interim president and prime minister.
The 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) slapped sanctions on the poor country on August 20 to push for a swift return to civilian rule.
A decision by the bloc on whether to ease the measure is possible on Friday, according to former Nigerian president and ECOWAS mediator Goodluck Jonathan.
“We are optimistic that this event will signal the beginning of the return to normalcy in Mali,” he said on Twitter on Thursday night, referring to the swearing in of interim-government leaders.
Last month’s coup followed weeks of mass protests against Keita, spurred by frustrations over a brutal jihadist conflict, perceived corruption and the country’s slumping economy.
Mali has struggled to quell an eight-year-old Islamist insurgency which has claimed thousands of military and civilian lives.
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