Boko Haram: Four killed in Deadly Terror attack in Maiduguri

2019 Elections, Boko Haram, News, Terrorism

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (Reuters) – At least four people were killed in an attack by Boko Haram militants in northeastern Nigeria late on Thursday, the national emergency agency said, the second such clash in Maiduguri city in a month.

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Five suicide bombers were also killed in the attack, which Nigeria’s military said had been repelled by troops.

Blasts and gunfire were heard by residents in the city which is the capital of Borno, the state worst hit by an insurgency which has killed more than 34,000 people since 2009.

President Muhammadu Buhari, who took office in 2015 vowing to end Boko Haram’s push to create an Islamic caliphate in the northeast, has made it a priority to improve security in Africa’s most populous country.

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Rescue workers are seen at the site of an attack by Boko Haram militants in the northeast city of Maiduguri, Nigeria

READ: People Against Buhari Re-Election Behind Attacks

The issue has become politically charged in the run-up to an election next year which Buhari said he wants to contest.

“There are five suicide bombers who died while trying to detonate IEDs (improvised explosive devices), there are also innocent citizens, four of them, that lost their lives,” Bashir Idris Garga, the northeast Nigeria coordinator for the National Emergency Management Agency, said on Friday.

Boko Haram militants attempted to enter Maiduguri earlier this month, fighting soldiers in an attack in which at least 15 people were killed and 83 injured..

In the course of fighting the latest attack, the military said troops had been supported by the air force, police and other security agencies.

Witnesses had reported a heavy military presence and crowded streets as people attempted to flee to safety.

Hundreds of residents who fled the area Thursday night were returning home by the following morning, according to a Reuters journalist at the scene.

The signs of battle were still clear, with the charred body of a man among the tents in a camp for people displaced by the conflict, and an unexploded bomb dropped by the Nigerian air force lying nearby.

The government has been saying since December 2015 that the jihadist group has been defeated but high profile attacks in the last few months – including the kidnap of 111 schoolgirls from the town of Dapchi and a strike in the town of Rann that killed three aid workers – has shown the jihadists remain active.

Nigeria’s government last month said it was in talks with Boko Haram, which split into two main factions in 2016, with the aim of securing a permanent ceasefire..

The government has not disclosed which elements of Boko Haram it is in discussions with and it was also not clear which faction carried out the latest attack.

REuter:

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Benue Killings: Soldiers Storms Catholic Church Gboko, Search of Weapons

Herdsmen, News, Terrorism

cazthoCatholic Priest Shocked As Soldiers Storm His Church In Search Of Weapons. Reports reaching SW showed that the home and parish of  Reverend Father Vesuwe Benjamin who works at Catholic Diocese of Gboko, Benue state  was ransacked by the Nigerian Army in search of weapons and incriminating evidence in the war against killer herdsmen’

READ Also: Killings, Catholic Bishops Ask Buhari to Resign. The Clergy man  reported online “‘Today my house and the entire parish was turned inside out by the military in-search for weapon”

More later….

 

FG bans movement of herdsmen in Benue, Taraba state – Kess Ewubare

News, Terrorism

The federal government has banned the movement of herdsmen in Benue, Taraba, Adamawa, Kaduna and Plateau state. The decision was reached at the National Economic Council (NEC) presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo on Thursday, April 26,

The Cable reports. The NEC comprises state governors and relevant ministries of government and the Central Bank of Nigeria. Breaking: How Saraki saved Buhari from impeachment notice Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi state who disclosed this to journalist at the end of the meeting held at the presidential villa in Abuja said the council also approved the creation of ranches across the country. He said the five mainly affected states which have witnessed killings from the herdsmen/farmers clashes, are expected to make land available for ranches.

Umahi stated that the creation of ranches would enable herdsmen and their families to be able to access good medical facilities and good schools for their children if they stay in one place. He said ranching would also improve the well-being of the cattle. The governor stated that the federal government and the affected states will still iron out the interventions expected from the two parties. The governor said though visa is not allowed for movement of those from West African countries, herdsmen from neighbouring countries would be expected to show some travel documents.

Similarly, the minister of agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, said the federal government will no longer allow the killings to continue. He said the ECOWAS protocol on free movement of persons may no longer be practiced in Nigeria. Meanwhile, some gunmen have invaded another church in Benue state, killing seven people,

The gunmen were said to have invaded a church in Logo local government area of Benue state on the morning of Thursday, April 26. NAIJ.com earlier reported that some suspected gunmen had invaded a Catholic Church in Gwer West local government area of the state on Tuesday, April 24. The gunmen during the attack, reportedly shot dead, two priest and 17 church members. In a related report, the recent killings of some worshipers including two priests after suspected herdsmen attacked Ayar Mbalom village in Gwer east local government area of Benue state has made the Senate to call on the federal government to declare the state and other parts of the country facing deadly violence, state of emergency.

Premium Times reports that the call is followed by a deliberation of a motion on “Continued killings in Benue state” sponsored by George Akume (Benue north west). NAIJ.com gathered that the call came a few days after 19 worshipers including Reverend Fathers Gor Joseph and Felix in a church located in the state. The senators condemned the inefficiency of security chiefs and agencies, adding that declaring state of emergency is the best way to drive out perpetrators.

 

Read more: https://www.naija.ng/1166036-fg-bans-movement-herdsmen-benue-taraba-state.html?source=notification#1166036

Benue Killings: Stop this mindless killings now, Secondus charges Presidency

2019 Elections, APC, News, Nigeria, PMB, Politics, Terrorism, Uncategorized

…..Says the country is sliding dangerously under APC watch

The National Chairman of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Prince Uche Secondus has charged the Presidency to halt the senseless killings going on in Benue state immediately before it degenerates into a national crisis.

Prince Secondus said in a condolence message he sent to the Benue State Governor Dr. Samuel Ortom and the Catholic Church in Nigeria on the Tuesday Morning’s brutal murder of two Catholic priests and 17 other worshippers of St Ignatius Quashi Catholic Church parish in Ukpor-Mbalom in Gwer local Government area of the state that the latest of the killings in Benue state which began on a New Year’s Day is no longer bearable

The PDP boss said in a statement signed by his media Adviser Ike Abonyi, that the continued bloodletting in Benue and other parts of the country and the apparent inability of the government to stem it raises a lot of concern on the future of this country.

“From whichever angle you are witnessing what is happening in this country, one thing is agreeable that this country is sliding dangerously”

“Nigerians and the global community have continued to watch as all the tenets of democracy are being eroded and giving way to dictatorial tendencies.

“In the last one week we have watched as disturbing indices continue to crop up ahead of the forthcoming general election with APC administration either unconcerned or involved in a tactical endorsement of such act.

The PDP National Chairman alerted the nation and the international community that the choreographed tension in the land is being designed by the APC administration to charge up the polity to enable them carry out its agenda of abusing democratic process and the rule of law ahead of 2019.

Prince Secondus admonished the security operatives as professionals to bear in mind always the words of the former US President Theodore Roosevelt that ” patriotism means to stand with the country. It does not mean to stand with the President”

“I find it unexplainable that some group of gunmen should hold a state to ransom since January killing and maiming citizens and destroying their houses and the security operatives appear helpless.

“Where are the military operatives that carried out Python and Crocodile dances in South East and South South Region respectively lately brandishing their might to less dangerous citizens and who have been unable to tackle the Benue killings.

“How can anybody expect Benue state for instant to contribute its own share of the $1b security votes when the nation security architecture is not designed to protect their people?

“If we are to give in to the President’s assertions lately that these killer herdsmen are foreigners trained by late Libyan leader, Muamour Gadhafi, where then lies our pride as a nation that a dead Gadhafi could leave behind such deadly force that a living President and its army have no answer to.

Finally, Secondus asked the APC administration to accept one huge fact that under their watch the country has collapsed irreparably and there is no evidence of the existence of government in the land.

Signed

Ike Abonyi

SA, Media to the National Chairman.

U.S. builds military base in the Sahara desert for armed drones

Africa, Boko Haram, Nigeria, Nigerian Army, Terrorism
Ismail Akwei, at 08:49 am, April 24, 2018, News

In this photo taken April 16, 2018, a U.S. and Niger flag are raised side by side at the base camp for air forces and other personnel supporting the construction of Niger Air Base 201 in Agadez, Niger. — Photo: VOA

The United States is building a drone base in Niger’s Sahara desert to help in the battle against extremists in the Sahel region.

The Niger Air Base 201 under construction a few miles outside Agadez already has three hangars and the first layers of a runway, reports VOA.

Built at the request of Niger’s government, the air and drone base will host fighter jets and MQ-9 drones which will be transferred from the capital Niamey.

The drones can survey and strike several West and North African countries with their wider range. The project cost $110 million and according to Air Force officials, it is the largest troop labour construction project in U.S. history, reports VOA.

The report added that it will cost $15 million annually to operate the base which is the second largest U.S. military presence in Africa behind the only U.S. base in Djibouti.

Niger hosts about 800 U.S. military personnel with 500 of them working at the new base against Djibouti’s 4,000 personnel.

Last year, four U.S. soldiers and five Nigeriens were ambushed and killed by extremists linked to the Islamic State group. This brought to light the unknown military presence in the country which is in the middle of an Islamist insurgency war.

The U.S. said the drones at the base will target the several affiliated al-Qaeda and Islamic State groups in the Sahel countries including the Lake Chad region which is battling with the spread of Nigeria’s Boko Haram insurgency.

Local Nigerian officials and civil society have expressed concern about the increased U.S. military presence in their country.

“We are afraid of falling back into the same situation as in Afghanistan, with many mistakes made by American soldiers who did not always know the difference between a wedding ceremony and a training of terrorist groups,” said Amadou Roufai, a Nigerien administration official.

For civic leader Nouhou Mahamadou who spoke to the VOA: “The presence of foreign bases in general and American in particular is a serious surrender of our sovereignty and a serious attack on the morale of the Nigerien military.”

Commander Brad Harbaugh, who is in charge of the new base assured that the drones will gather intelligence that can be used by Niger and other U.S. partners to prosecute extremists.

source: https://face2faceafrica.com/article/u-s-builds-military-base-in-the-sahara-desert-for-armed-drones

https://wp.me/p4Ft7w-1hro

35 killed as herdsmen burn down entire Benue village

News, Terrorism

No fewer than 35 persons have been killed and several other still missing after suspected herdsmen attacked Tse Umenger in Mbadwem Council Ward of Guma LGA, Benue State.

DAILY POST gathered that the heavily armed men, numbering over 50, stormed the village on Tuesday around 7pm and set the entire village on fire.

Our reporter gathered that no single house is standing in Mbadwen village at the time of this report.

The attack came same day suspected herdsmen attacked Gwer East, killing 19 persons, including two Catholic priests.

 

DailyPost

Fresh massacre in Benue, Zamfara: 61 killed, 82 houses razed – NAN

Herdsmen, News, Terrorism

…Victims mostly women and children …Tiv leaders cry for help By Peter Duru, Makurdi

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In what is becoming a weekly sordid ritual, 61 persons were, over the weekend, killed in separate dastardly incidents in Benue and Zamfara States. Whereas 31persons, mostly women and children, lost their lives in six communities of Guma Local Government Area of Benue State in the hands of suspected herdsmen, another 30 were massacred in Maru Local Government Area of Zamfara State, by suspected gunmen. Ortom Sunday Vanguard gathered that 25 persons were killed in coordinated attacks on Tse-Abi, Tse-Ginde, Tse-Peviv, Tse-Ikyo, Agenke and Gbenke communities of Unzughul, Saghev Council Ward in Guma; the killings were said to have commenced from late Friday to the early hours of Saturday. 82 houses were razed by the herdsmen during their orgy of killings in the affected areas of Benue State. Still in Benue, a bloody clash of rival political and cult groups in Otukpo Local Government Area of the state, accounted for six of the deceased 31.

An eye witness to the Zamfara killings, Mr Shuaibu Kabaro, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Maru, that the suspected gunmen attacked the two communities and the incident was immediately reported to the security agents. He said three of the bandits were arrested by security agents following the prompt report of the incident to the security personnel. Benue killings According to a resident of one of the affected communities, some of the invaders who stormed the communities were dressed in military fatigue and armed with sophisticated weapons. “They came around 10pm and started shooting sporadically, killing people and razing houses and hurts in the communities. “People ran for their lives but many, especially women and children, could not escape the rage of the assailants.  While some were butchered, several others were gunned down in cold blood – including two children of a Makurdi-based pastor who traveled home for holidays.

“After the attack, the invaders as usual retreated. It is a sorry sight in the communities, scores sustained injuries, many of the houses are still burning as I speak with you. “The invaders also looted the valuables and food of their helpless victims.” The Benue State Government, in a statement through the Chief Press Secretary, CPS, to the Governor, Mr. Terver Akase confirmed the attack. The statement read in part, “I can confirm that herdsmen last night and earlier today invaded Saghev Ward of Guma Local Gvernment Area, killing many innocent persons. “10 corpses have so far been recovered with many still missing and scores injured.

The armed herdsmen also burnt numerous houses, shops and other property in the area. “This mindless attack was unprovoked, and we urge security agencies to arrest the herdsmen behind the killings for prosecution.” Meanwhile, the Mdzough U Tiv, MUT, a socio-cultural organisation of Tiv speaking people in the country has again alleged that the governor of a neighbouring state, had provided a safe haven for militant herdsmen from where they launch attacks on defenseless Tiv indigenes of both Nasarawa and Benue States. In a statement signed by the President General of MUT, Chief Edward Ujege, and the Secretary General, Dr. Boniface Ukende, lamented that the said governor had done nothing to check the relentless attacks.

The statement read, “MUT can authoritatively reveal that between 15th, 19th of April 2018, the herdsmen invaded Tiv villages in Awe, Obi, Keana, Dome and Lafia Local Government Areas of Nasarawa State and killed over 75 Tiv people and ransacked villages and displaced over 100,000 Tiv people. “It can be recalled that in January, 2018, it was made public that herdsmen were harbored in TUNGA settlement in Awe Local Government Area of Nasarawa State. This was later confirmed by security agents when their kingpin was arrested in Tunga.

“Currently we are informed that the herdsmen that recently attacked and killed over 75 Tiv people are accommodated in Adudu in Obi Local Government Area of Nasarawa State. They have made Adudu their second base from where they spring to unleash terror on defenseless indigenous Tiv people of Nasarawa and Benue States. “In consequence therefore, the herdsmen have taken over and occupied Tiv houses unchecked and where they cannot for want of number they set such abandoned properties ablaze.

“We call on all well meaning Nigerians, the National Assembly, National Human Rights Commission and International Community to urgently wade into this issue.” Meanwhile there were conflicting accounts on the murder of six persons in Otukpo local government at the weekend. A source in the town allegedly linked the crisis leading to the murder of the victims to the caucus meeting of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Benue South, held in the town. Another account linked the killings to a rival bloody cult fight which also left scores injured. In a statement exonerating his party from the crisis, the APC Director of Publicity, Peter Apeh, told Sunday Vanguard on phone that there were no fracas, not to talk of killing during the caucus meeting of the party in Benue South last Friday contrary to speculations that the incumbent state chairman, Abba Yaro, brought in thugs to manhandle his political opponents. Apeh, however, alleged that “The thing was said to have started from Thursday. I heard that boys, rival cult boys were moving from street to street killing people. It was not like it happened at the venue of our meeting. “I also heard rumours that it was the state chairman that instigated it. How can somebody that has been endorsed instigate such? Abba Yaro is such a man that will not stoop low to indulge in such activity. If there was anything of such, it might have been caused by the an aspirant.” When contacted, the Benue state Police Public Relations Officer, Assistant Superintendent, ASP, Moses Yamu, said he was yet to get details of the incidents.

30 killed again in Zamfara

The eye witness to the Zamfara massacre said, the gunmen, in turn went and mobilised more gang members and returned in multitude to carry out the attack which left about 30 dead and many others injured in the two communities. The Maru Local Government Council Chairman, Alhaji Salisu Dangulbi, and the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, DSP Mohammed Shehu, both confirmed the killings. According to them, many of the villagers deserted their homes for fear of further attacks which has now become the modus operandi of the gunmen. The duo said, with the presence of security personnel now in the area however, many of the villagers have started to return home. The PPRO further explained that units of mobile police working with the military and other security agents were immediately mobilised to the affected areas, adding that peace and normalcy have since been restored. The police spokesman, however, said that the actual number of those killed was still being worked on and “until this is done, l cannot give you actual figure at the moment”.

(NAN) Related

Read more at: https://www.vanguardngr.com/2018/04/fresh-massacre-benue-zamfara-61-killed-82-houses-razed/

Trinidad & Tabago Peace Conference: ‘Violent jihadists not true Muslims’ — The Muslim Times

Islam, News, Terrorism

Kevon Felmine Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 Attendees at the Peace Conference yesterday at National Centre in Preysal. Inset: Maulana Ibrahim Bin Yaqub. PICTURES RISHI RAGOONATH Terror groups who commit violence in the name of Islam are not true Muslims, Amir of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Maulana Ibrahim Bin Yaqub, said yesterday as he explained […]

 

Terror groups who commit violence in the name of Islam are not true Muslims, Amir of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Maulana Ibrahim Bin Yaqub, said yesterday as he explained the name Islam means peace.

Speaking at their annual Peace Conference in Preysal, Couva, Bin Yaqub said a true Muslim is a person people can feel safe around. He said while the Islamic faith locally has been under scrutiny since several followers left to join the Islamic State, this was a small amount compared to the population of Muslims living in T&T.

“A true Muslim is that person from whose tongue and whose hands people are safe in and secure. So if you would not allow people to become safe and secure, then you are not a true Muslim because you are not practising the teachings of Islam,” Bin Yaqub said.

“The majority of Muslims in the world are very peaceful. Why is it that we go after those individuals who are creating problems and then try to tell the world that it is Islam? That is not Islam.

“The true Islam are those people who are very peaceful. How many Muslims are there in Trinidad and Tobago? More than 100,000 persons and you are talking about how many people went to join ISIS. How many of them?”

Asked if there was a wrong perception of Islam by non-disciples, Bin Yaqub said in every religion you would have people with various views and who would create upheavals, just like what has happened in Islam.

“Therefore, if there is a Muslim who is misbehaving, we believe that that person or persons are far away from the true teachings of Islam.”

Bin Yaqub said local Muslims are free to travel the world and that even after 9/11 he went to the United States.

“We have a solid relationship with the US government.”

The conference is an annual event that is also held in other countries by Muslims.

Its purpose is to educate people so they can understand peace has become an expensive commodity. Bin Yaqub said with so many upheavals in the world, the Ahmadiyya Muslims believe that unless they try to know themselves entirely, they will not be able to arrive at peace.

“It is also our firm belief that various religions in the world can bring peace, because if you study the scriptures of all major religions of the world, they all speak with one tongue and that is about peace. Unless the world comes to realise its maker, that is the Creator, we will never be able to see peace.”

SOURCE:

http://www.guardian.co.tt/news/2018-04-22/%E2%80%98violent-jihadists-not-true-muslims%E2%80%99

 

via Trinidad & Tabago Peace Conference: ‘Violent jihadists not true Muslims’ — The Muslim Times

US builds drone base in Niger, crossroads of extremism fight

Africa, Boko Haram, News, Tech, Terrorism

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On the scorching edge of the Sahara Desert, the U.S. Air Force is building a base for armed drones, the newest front in America’s battle against the growing extremist threat in Africa’s vast Sahel region.

Three hangars and the first layers of a runway command a sandy, barren field. Niger Air Base 201 is expected to be functional early next year. The base, a few miles outside Agadez and built at the request of Niger’s government, will eventually house fighter jets and MQ-9 drones transferred from the capital Niamey. The drones, with surveillance and added striking capabilities, will have a range enabling them to reach a number of West and North African countries.

Few knew of the American military’s presence in this desperately poor, remote West African country until October, when an ambush by Islamic State group-linked extremists killed four U.S. soldiers and five Nigeriens.

The $110 million project is the largest troop labor construction project in U.S. history, according to Air Force officials. It will cost $15 million annually to operate.

Citing security reasons, no official will say how many drones will be housed at the base or whether more U.S. personnel will be brought to the region. Already the U.S. military presence here is the second largest in Africa behind the sole permanent U.S. base on the continent, in the tiny Horn of Africa nation of Djibouti.

The drones at the base are expected to target several different al-Qaida and Islamic State group-affiliated fighters in countries throughout the Sahel, a sprawling region just south of the Sahara, including the area around Lake Chad, where the Nigeria’s Boko Haram insurgency has spread.

As the U.S. puts drones at the forefront of the fight against extremists, some worry that civilians will be mistaken for fighters.

“We are afraid of falling back into the same situation as in Afghanistan, with many mistakes made by American soldiers who did not always know the difference between a wedding ceremony and a training of terrorist groups,” said Amadou Roufai, a Nigerien administration official.

Civic leader Nouhou Mahamadou also expressed concerns.

“The presence of foreign bases in general and American in particular is a serious surrender of our sovereignty and a serious attack on the morale of the Nigerien military,” he said.

The number of U.S. military personnel in Niger has risen over the past few years from 100 to 800, the second largest concentration in Africa after the 4,000 in Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti. About 500 personnel are working on the new air and drone base and the base camp is marked with an American and Nigerien flag.

Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance are crucial in the fight against extremism, U.S. Africa Command spokeswoman Samantha Reho said.

“The location in Agadez will improve U.S. Africa Command’s capability to facilitate intelligence-sharing that better supports Niger and other partner nations, such as Nigeria, Chad, Mali and other neighbors in the region and will improve our capability to respond to regional security issues,” Reho said.

The intelligence gathered by the drones can be used by Niger and other U.S. partners for prosecuting extremists, said Commander Brad Harbaugh, who is in charge of the new base.

Some in Niger welcome the growing U.S. military presence in the face of a growing extremist threat in the region.

“Northern Mali has become a no man’s land, southern Libya is an incubator for terrorists and northeastern Nigeria is fertile ground for Boko Haram’s activities … Can Niger alone ensure its own security? I think not. No country in the world can today alone fight terrorism,” said Souleymane Abdourahmane, a restaurant promoter in the capital, Niamey.

Threats include al-Qaida-linked fighters in Mali and Burkina Faso, Islamic State group-affiliated fighters in Niger, Mali and Nigeria and the Nigeria-based Boko Haram. They take advantage of the vast region’s widespread poverty and countries’ often poorly equipped security forces.

Foreigners, including a German aid worker kidnapped this month in Niger, have been targeted as well.

The U.S. military’s use of armed drones comes as its special forces pull back from the front lines of the fight. The focus is changing to advising and assisting local partners higher up the chain of command, said U.S. Special Command Africa commander Maj. Gen. Marcus Hicks.

Ibrahim Maiga, a Mali-based researcher for the Institute for Security Studies, said more needs to be known about the U.S. military presence in the region.

“The U.S. military footprint in the Sahel is difficult to grasp, just as it is not easy to assess its effectiveness,” he said. “There isn’t nearly enough information in the public space on this presence.”

Mud homes line the barbed wire fence at the edge of the main airport in Agadez. Residents watch the U.S. forces come and go with curiosity.

Shebu Issa, an assistant at a Quranic school, stood in one doorway as goats and children roamed the sandy roads.

“It’s no big deal to us, they come and they don’t bother us. We appreciate they want to help in the fight,” he said. “We live a hard life, and don’t make much money, so we hope maybe this will help us get more.”

___

Associated Press writer Dalatou Mamane in Niamey, Niger contributed.

Rare glimpse of Assad family ties to Russia in kids’ stay at seaside camp

News, SYRIA, Terrorism
Reuters 
© Reuters. A general view of the Morskoi camp, part of the Artek International Children's Centre, located near the city of Yalta© Reuters. A general view of the Morskoi camp, part of the Artek International Children’s Centre, located near the city of Yalta

By David Axelrod

SEVASTOPOL, Crimea (Reuters) – News that Russia hosted the teenage children of Bashar al-Assad at a lavishly-rebuilt Black Sea summer camp in Crimea last year has given a rare glimpse into the personal lives of the Syrian president’s family and his close relationship to Moscow.

Nestled on the Crimean coast since 1925, the Artek Seaside camp served for decades as an elite summer holiday resort for children of those favored by the Soviet Communist Party and foreign delegations invited from its satellite states.

Russia has given the camp a $180 million renovation since seizing the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine in 2014. Guests stay in newly-built dormitories by the sea.

That Assad’s sons Hafez and Karim and daughter Zein had stayed there last year with a group of other Syrian children was made public only this week, when a Russian lawmaker on a delegation to Damascus said Assad had mentioned it.

Alexei Kasprzhak, the resort’s director, told Reuters he learned of the children’s identities only after they arrived last year. The three children were given no special treatment, joining the regular programme with the other Syrian children in their group, he said.

If any of the other Syrian children had any issues with being at camp with the president’s kids, “it passed quickly and didn’t create any problems for us and therefore we didn’t have to resolve them, thank God,” Kasprzhak told Reuters.

A source close to the camp’s management who spoke on condition of anonymity said the president’s children “didn’t stick out at all” during their three-week stay.

“They also attended all the events organized in the camp, they went to the evening campfire like everyone else, so it is not the case that they lived in some kind of special premises or slept on special pillows.”

The choice of destination shows how close Assad’s personal ties with Russia have become since Moscow entered the Syrian conflict in September 2015, turning the tide in his favor. Now in its eighth year, the war has killed more than 500,000 people.

The Seaside camp, 12 km (7.5 miles) from the Crimean city of Yalta, is the oldest of a network of 10 Artek camps run by the Education Ministry. During the Soviet era, winning a place there for a summer was a valued prize both for Soviet children and for visitors from countries in Moscow’s orbit.

In 2015, a year after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine, the Russian government launched a five-year programme to revamp it. As of last June over 11 billion roubles ($180.71 million) had been spent on renovations, the RIA news agency reported.

Records published on the state procurement site show that 9.2 billion roubles worth of tenders to develop the resort were awarded to Stroygazmontazh, a construction firm on U.S. and European sanctions blacklists, owned by Arkady Rotenberg, a former judo sparring partner of president Vladimir Putin.

US urges Nigeria to change tactics against Boko Haram – AFP

Boko Haram, News, Nigeria, Nigerian Army, Terrorism
afp.jpgNigerian forces battling Boko Haram jihadists need a change of mindset to overcome an evolving guerrilla threat, US military officials said this week on the sidelines of an African security summit.

Boko Haram’s tactics – from improvised explosive devices to hiding within the local population – necessitate a shift away from conventional strategies, said Lieutenant-Colonel Sean McClure, the US defence attache in Abuja.

“We haven’t necessarily seen that kind of adaptation cycle,” he told AFP. “They’re trying to figure out how to do this.

“How they think in terms of combat, in my opinion, is still thinking of things as conventional warfare.”

 As the United States steps up its military presence in Africa, it hopes to share lessons learned in the Middle East with Nigeria and other countries in the Sahel fighting extremist groups.

The Sahel region is host to a string of Islamist groups including Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in Mali and Boko Haram in Nigeria and the wider Lake Chad area.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country with more than 180 million people, has been fighting Boko Haram since 2009 and has repeatedly claimed to have defeated the group.

Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Tukur Buratai, declared on Tuesday there was “no doubt Boko Haram terrorists have been defeated, they don’t have the capacity”.

But persistent attacks against soldiers and civilians, including a brazen new kidnapping of over 100 schoolgirls from the northeastern town of Dapchi on February 19, suggest otherwise.

Meanwhile, the emergence of an ISIS-allied faction of Boko Haram, whose strategy is to provide an alternative government for people living in the impoverished region, poses a new threat.

“It starts to become a very wicked problem,” McClure said.

 ‘Acrimony’ 

At a military demonstration in Gwagwalada, a town on the outskirts of Abuja, Nigerian special forces performed a battle drill in front of Africa’s senior commanders.

Soldiers rappelled from helicopters as the midday sun blazed over the savannah, then the infantry moved in to liberate mock hostages from a compound.

But with Borno state, the centre of the Boko Haram conflict nearly twice the size of Belgium, Nigeria cannot rely on soldiers alone.

It also needs the support of the local population.

Buratai told the summit that winning the hearts and minds of people in the northeast has been a “big challenge”. Human intelligence has long been seen as vital to winning the war.

But rights groups have accused Nigeria’s military of killing, torturing and arbitrarily arresting thousands of civilians on suspicion of being Boko Haram members or sympathisers.

That has stoked tensions in a region already wary of the government and made people in hard-to-reach rural areas particularly reluctant to cooperate with the authorities.

“People thought the military action was aggressive to them, so this brought acrimony,” admitted Buratai but he added: “We have done a lot since then and the perception has changed.”

 Human rights concerns

Similar tensions have been seen elsewhere in Nigeria in relation to separate threats, including over the military handling of protests by pro-Biafran separatists in the southeast.

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Protests calling for the release of an imprisoned pro-Iranian Shiite Muslim cleric hung over the Abuja summit, again turning the attention to tactics and possible rights abuses.

Two days of protests on Monday and Tuesday saw at least 115 supporters of Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky arrested after running battles with police, who fired tear gas and water cannon.

Zakzaky, the head of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, has been in custody since December 2015 after troops attacked his supporters in the northern city of Zaria.

More than 300 were killed and buried in a mass grave, according to Amnesty International.

President Muhammadu Buhari’s government has launched a judicial panel to investigate allegations of human rights abuses in the military.

But experts warn any reform will take time – if it happens at all.

“It’s very difficult for the Nigerian army to overturn 50-plus years of a bad reputation,” said Yan St-Pierre, a counter-terrorism specialist at the Modern Security Consulting Group in Berlin.

“People are squeezed between a rock and a hard place. Some don’t feel comfortable with the army or Boko Haram,” he said, warning that “if the military doesn’t have popular support basically the insurgents will have it”.

Read more on:    al qaeda  |  isis  |  boko haram  |  nigeria  |  west africa

Senate Summons Adeosun, Emefiele Over ‘unauthorised $462m’ For Helicopter

APC, Corruption, economy, local news, Military, Nigerian Army, PMB, Politics, Terrorism

Senate Summons Adeosun, Emefiele Over ‘unauthorised $462m’ For Helicopter

adeosun1     emefiele.jpg

The senate has summoned Kemi Adeosun, minister of finance, and Godwin Emiefele, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), over the alleged withdrawal of $462 million from the federation account without approval of the national assembly.

Also summoned to give reasons for the said withdrawal is Mansur Dan-Ali, minister of defence.

The upper legislative chamber summoned the trio after Sam Anyawu, a senator from Imo state, raised a motion at plenary on Tuesday.

Anyanwu drew the attention of his colleagues to the alleged withdrawal of the money.

He made reference to section 80 (2) and (3) of the 1999 constitution which prohibits such withdrawal without the consent of the lawmakers.

“I have it on good authority that in March 2018, a whopping sum of $462 million was withdrawn from the federation account and paid for helicopters to an American firm called Helicopter Tecno Fights Helicopters,” he said, adding: “And I know there was no such approval from the senate.”

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He urged the lawmakers to invite the three governnment officials “to tell us how this money was withdrawn and paid to an American company without the approval of the senate.”

The upper legislative chamber adopted his prayers for the trio to be summoned by the committee on appropriation and asked it (the committee) to report back to them after one week.

source: nai

Salkida Says New Information From Boko Haram Indicates 30 Chibok Girls In Custody Still Alive – SR

Boko Haram, Terrorism

Ahmad Salkida, a Nigerian journalist with access to the top echelon of the Boko Haram has said contrary to his earlier claim, 30 out of the 113 Chibok girls still in custody of the insurgent group are still alive. Salkida, had in a series of tweets on Saturday, April 14, the fourth anniversary of the abduction of the girls said only 15 of the abductees still in custody of the insurgent group are still alive. He said then that 98 of the girls had died in captivity.

Ahmad Salkida, a Nigerian journalist with access to the top echelon of the Boko Haram has said contrary to his earlier claim, 30 out of the 113 Chibok girls still in custody of the insurgent group are still alive.

Salkida, had in a series of tweets on Saturday, April 14, the fourth anniversary of the abduction of the girls said only 15 of the abductees still in custody of the insurgent group are still alive.

He said then that 98 of the girls had died in captivity.

“Many of the girls have died as a result of crossfire and bombardments of the security forces that no doubt were intent on rescuing them. I regret to state here that only 15 out of the 113 #Chibokgirls are alive today, based on my investigations in the last three months,” he had written.Ahmad Salkida

However, in another tweet thread on Tuesday, the journalist who at a time was involved in efforts to free the girls, said two other cells within the sect told him that apart from the 15, there were other Chibok girls in their custody who are still alive.

“A leading member of the Jama’atu Ahlis-Sunna Lidda’Awati Wal-Jihad or Boko Haram has now clarified the earlier information about 15 girls. Indeed, the 15 #Chibokgirls are available, but known to a particular cell that spoke to me emphatically days leading to the fourth anniversary.”

“However, two other cells within the larger group has brought additional information, clarifying the earlier information, that there are another 10 girls available to another cell. Outside of the 15 and 10, another five among the girls are also alive as at early hours of today,” he said.

With the new information, the total numbers of the girls, reportedly alive are 30, he declared.

Salkida also added that the set of five, according to information available to him, have imbibed the doctrines and teachings of the sect and would not want to be considered among those expected to be released in the ongoing negotiation between the group and the federal government.

It will be recalled 276 school girls were verified by the Presidential Task Force to have been taken hostage by Boko Haram terrorists in the April 14, 2014 abduction.

57 of the girls escaped on their own leaving 219 captives.

In October 2016, 24 of the girls were freed through negotiation by the Federal Government (21), and indirectly from various military operations mounted by the Nigerian Army (3).

On May 2017, 84 more were also recovered through negotiation by the Federal Government, and in December, one of the #Chibokgirls was found along with another abducted young woman, thus bringing the total number of recovered girls to 107, and 112 of the girls yet to be accounted for.

The federal government had earlier said the information by Salkida that only 15 of the girls are alive is not available to it.

“It is most disappointing that the government in its might and given the machinery available to it, peremptorily declared to the public that it lacks institutional memory regarding the processes of the #Chibokgirls,” Salkida wrote while challenging the government to release a proof of live video to dispute his claims about the girls.

Salkida said the objective of his earlier tweets was to compel the government and Boko Haram to speak, but the government was unnecessarily defensive.

Sahara Reporters.

Suspected herdsmen kill village head on farmland

Africa, Boko Haram, Herdsmen, local news, Nigeria, Terrorism

Report said Victim was shot in the back while working on his farmland.

HerdsmenSuspected herdsmen killed a village head, Iyongovihi Ninge, during an attack on the Chembe settlement in Ukemberagya/Tswarev Ward of Gaambe-Tiev, in Logo local government area of Benue state on Tuesday, April 17, 2018.

According to a report by Channels Television, a member of the community, Joseph Anaway, said the victim was shot in the back while working on his farmland.

He said, “The attackers came with hordes of cattle, plundering yam seeds that have been planted, opening fire on Mister Ninge who was clearing his field in readiness for cultivation. The village head was shot in the back and he died on the spot.”

A statement by the Benue State Police Command remarked that the attackers are yet to be identified.

“The command had at about 1100hours of today, received report of a man later identified as a village head killed by yet to be identified bandits on his farm in Logo LGA,” the statement read.

National Dialogue and Peace in Africa

Africa, Politics, Power, Terrorism, War

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We Feel safe If we trust our institutions, and we trust our institutions if we see them acting effectively in crises’ (Mary Kaldor Old War, New Wars: organized Violence in a Globalized Era” 1998).

Generally, we all feel safe when threats are alleviated from our cherished values, which if left unmanaged threaten our survival or that of a referent object in the near future. Security is important and forms the basis of our existence and expression in society. Imagine what life will be without any form of threat, where security is normal, passive and not priorities and politically demanding issues? Absence of threat to a certain level is a prerequisite for growth and development of any society. Increase threats level drive down local production and inflow of foreign investments.

Security matters and absence of threats in our society remained a major illusion in our highly politicized society. Globalization and advent of technological development has continued to expose our societies to different forms of threats. Politics has continued to be instrumental to endangering security. While positive political environment allows for integration and development of peaceful co-existence, several political actors privy to command resources for eliminating threats have resolved to make politics a major issue in threat escalation.

Political nature of security has made the definition of the term security an object of argument based on the perspective of analysts and writers on the topic. Traditional understanding of security emphasizes the physical accumulation of military power to defend the state from external and internal aggression. African states at independence were incorporated into the geopolitical East – West polarization. The need for expression of influence by super powers was reflected in the strength of allied states armies.  Big armies were used to prop up and maintain loyal stooges as powerful rulers in states without proper understanding of principle and operation of statehood.

The period between 1956 and 1989 when the Cold War ended, dictators like Idi Ami in Uganda (1971 -79), Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt (1954-1970), Ahmed Sekou Toure in Guinea (1958-84) and Mengitsu Haile Mariam in Ethiopia (1974-1991) ruled with iron fists in defense of their countries territorial integrity and redefined state security as security for the few ruling elites at the expense of the masses. The states employed the “Kill and go” mentality in elite securitization to defend their territory and unleash terror on dissenting public. The armies and the police in African states now become instrument of public oppressions, as there were no external aggressions to address.

The end of the Cold War brought new realities in international relations understanding of security. Emergence of “new wars” –intra-state wars– in Africa and Eastern Europe led to new thinking about the effects of globalization on security planning. Buzan Barry in 1983 introduced the theory of a shift from physical or critical security thinking towards a focus on human security. Mary Kaldor also emphasized the need for new directions for security in her work “Old War, New Wars: organized Violence in a Globalized Era” (1998). They both postulated the need for newer roles for states armies as numbers of inter-states wars have continued to reduce in the world while organized violence from non-state actors emerged as new threats to developing states in Africa and Europe at the turn of the century.

Emergence of organized insurgent groups and terrorists that targets civilians and non-combatants has been blamed on the lack of a shift in the roles of states security operations from elite centered towards public supports. The need to defend states sovereignty with the security forces at the expense of securing the people while crime and threats to lives grow due to lack of resources to achieve basic human development have ennobled the need for the shift of focus of citizens security to Private Security Companies (PSC) and ethnic militias in most areas of Africa.   Initial goals of the public supports for these militias; remain in achieving security towards protection of cherished values in most states.

Regrettably, lack of states’ control and management of the growth and development of militia groups, expanding influence of militias has resulted in abuse of power and such influences. Most militia has turned from their roles as defenders of the people to direct anti-state organisation. Thereby increasing people’s exposure to more threats.

Security is a relative and controversial term which relevance can only be surmised by the presence of object for security. People was traditionally ascribed the object of security in developing world however within international relation, the UN and other developed nations states empanelled the state as reverent object of all security discourse before the turn of the millennium.

The United Nations through the UNDP at the end of the Cold War, introduced in 1993 “Human Security” as the main focus of state security. The UN maintained that states duties to their citizens should include the assurance of their survival and securing their access to humane living conditions. States have to provide all basic amenities to secure citizens needs and aspirations. Human Security Index was introduced as the measure of legitimacy of states.

herdsmenAfrican states that have hitherto experienced patronage from international superpowers to maintain strong armed forces and equipment based on mere east/west alignments at the end of the cold war were unceremoniously left to dry. Low revenue for most states led to high inflation, unemployment, poverty and low capital formation. With huge and unmanageable security bills to supports and growing hunger, many states fell under the gun to coups and counter coups by the same armies that had helped in wasting the national fund.

The harsh military rules of the late eighties and nineties in Africa helped in building a new form of public resistance and anti-state movements. The growing need for re-organisation of condition for statehood in most states was blocked under the need to defend states’ territorial integrity. This challenge continued to form basis for ethnic strengthening instead of nation building. Challenging the traditional roles of states as sole controller of violence became more rampant as ethic armies demands emancipation and control of their territories in several states like Somalia, Nigeria, Chad, Mali, Niger and Sudan from the late eighties.

Lack of trust in weakening states institutions due to years of oppressions and high level of official corruption continued to contribute to stress of the political landscape. The failure of states to empanel proper conflict management and internal law enforcement mechanism to ensure justice, accountability and equity, finally sounded the knell on the popularity of the states in Africa. Public supports for the institutions of states waned and growth of radical thought escalated unbridled.

The growth of terror organisation in Africa becomes inevitable as poverty expanded. Lack of proper planning and finance for states’ internal security and inequalities in the sharing of resources of state has made radicals out of the youth with low life expectancy. Growth of illicit economies with huge rewards for participants in an environment with high incidence of poverty, have resulted in the development of a new class of African youth; ready to make it by every means necessary.

The Al-Shabab, Boko Haram, MEND, OPC, Bakassi Boys, MAJOC, AQIM, and others are the products of a system of elite security that have complete answer to all issues. The apparent lack of dialogue in African state is so appalling.  The states are being run by an elites who are used to decrees and pronouncement without consultations. The elites have shown the public that security can only be achieved through the use of violence. State policies in most African states have always favoured ex-militants and violent individuals. The youth in Nigeria look at ex-Niger Delta militants that have become leaders in political discussions and businesses and choses their heroes and Kenyan youths’ hero is President Kenyatta himself, the President with cases of human rights abuse in the ICC.

There is urgent need for complete reformation of the African state focus of security; the people should be the focus of national security while the people in turn through their trust in national institutions, support and uphold the sovereignty of the state. How we lose our African heritage of love, peace, equity and justice to these common criminals remain an issue. If we don’t address the issues of leadership and equity in Africa, there will always be another violent struggle to further endanger the peace of the people.

Kidnapping suspect arrested, but woman who was abducted still missing — INKLING LEAGUE

international News, Terrorism

Authorities on Tuesday continued the desperate search for a Tennessee woman, even after the man accused of attacking and kidnapping her was taken into custody hours earlier. Eric Wells, 43, was arrested and charged with aggravated kidnapping after he allegedly abducted Taryn Webster around 2:30 p.m. Monday, FOX13 Memphis reported. A witness said the 26-year-old woman was […]

via Kidnapping suspect arrested, but woman who was abducted still missing — INKLING LEAGUE

Nigerian State and Conflict Deescalation

Politics, Terrorism

Nigerian State and Conflict Deescalation

Increased divergence in researches on insurgency in the 21st century has reflected in the plethora of definitions and descriptions for this common security conundrum. I defer to the British Military’s doctrine, (a credible authority, given decades of experience suppressing series of insurrection in Ireland) hence position that Insurgency is an organized movement designed to through armed resistance and subversive activities overthrow a constituted government in any state (UK Min. Of Defence 2004: 4).

Contention with insurgency has become part of state security since the beginning of societal governance by groups supposedly striving for better governance on behalf of the general public. Tendencies for anti-state elements to challenge authority of ruling elites has been a major form of conflict in world history.

Biblical and other historical evidences has revealed the Roman Empire’s struggles against several insurgencies and coups. Jewish leaders led several putsches towards liberating Palestine from Roman rule in the period before and after Christ. In Africa, fight against colonialism between 1940 and 1965 set the pace for current ‘classical insurgencies’ designed to liberate African states thereby enabling independence. The central theme for classical insurgency could be traced to the Marxist revolutionist central theme “propagating a better system of governance than currently obtainable”.

Insurgencies are premised and driven on the belief in the idea for change from status quo. Given that people are always curious and willing to sacrifice current status towards embracing a newer concept, the human fixation on “change”, even grievous and harmful one at that has been the root of all anti-state conflict. Success of any rebellion has also been traced on the tactic popular supports. People drives and maintains insurgencies. Insurgents are like animals which always adapt to forest for cover and sustenance. Wining the popular supports through covert and overt spread of “new idea” has been consistent in most rebellions, hence the term “peoples’ revolution”.

The MI6 maintained in its Journals that; “every programmes; paramilitary, policing, military, political, intelligence gathering, legal, psychological, civil and media, employed by the state towards eliminating insurgency is termed ‘counterinsurgency’”. If this is true, then states need established institutions to provide proper response to insurgencies. Countering insurgencies should become more robust operation which should take full cognizance of the socio-political environment and other distinctive factors enhancing radicalization in the area. Mere deployment of the military with high morale is never enough in guerrilla warfare, the over 10 years engagement of the Taliban in Afghanistan by the mighty US Forces; the deplorable security situation in the failing Somalia despite years of combined military operation in Mogadishu; and, the Boko Haram insurgencies has revealed the inability of military might in counterterrorism operations.

Historical evidence according to the researches have revealed that military actions in countering insurgencies constitutes less than 20 percent of the efforts needed to eliminate a people oriented movement. Records shows that while policing and other political actions employed in the right proportion have been successful in ending insurgencies in conflicts like the IRA against the British government.

Challenges of proper foundations for most African states creation has been blamed on the growth of anti-state elements agitating for self-determination and ethnic nationals’ independence. Nigeria conflict patterns since advent of independence has been tailored to reflect agitations of minority ethnic groups’ self-determination struggles. The Niger Delta and Biafran Struggle which has been a common index in Nigerian state conflicts since 1966 has festered through the Civil War of 1967 to 1970 through apparent lack of proper means of interaction between state and constituent units in Nigeria.

Honourable Steve Gamey, former Ghanaian Minister for Labour and a major teacher of conflict management maintains that the level of violence in Africa today is driven by lack of conflict management institutions in the continent. He postulated that states without conflict management plan, will only have plans for counterinsurgency.

The Niger Delta conflict escalation since the eighties afforded the Nigerian state the opportunity to build and strengthen institutions to handle public agitations. Unfortunately, the state chose an elite securitization model, the use of instrument of blunt force –the Nigeria Armed Forces- to stem popular oppositions in Choba, Port Harcourt, Killing of Ken-Saro Wiwa and the Ogoni Eight, the Odi Massascre and other attacks on dissenting forces termed “anti-state elements” laid the foundations for growth of classical terror groups in the Niger Delta at the end of the twentieth century.
Classical insurgency was given a huge boast by the Nigerian government as the Nigeria law enforcement structure was practically taken over by a new military class robbing the state of the much needed development in policing, judicial processes and criminal jurisprudence. The use of military expeditionary forces in mediating conflicts became common feature after the Lt. Gideon Orkar Coup of 22nd July 1990 and by 2005, the Nigerian Army has operations in over 26 states of the 36 state federation.

While the military grew and expanded its areas of operations in internal security operations, the Nigeria Police Force roles were further depleted by the mutation of internal security operations in Nigeria and clumsily creating newer policing roles for other organizations without proper equipment and installed capabilities to perform such roles.

Changing roles for the Nigerian military by the state further expanded the national security imbroglio. Unfortunately, Ill-equipped and untrained in civil conflict mediation, the Nigerian Army adaptation to its new roles were challenged in all theater of operations due to traditional hatred for security forces honed from the public mistrust of the colonialists establishment of the Hausa Regiment in Lagos in the late nineteen century by Col. Lugard to form the bulk head of fight against pro-independent movements in the regions.

The apparent failure of the military institution in peacekeeping roles in Nigerian state was written by the general lack of trust and fear of the military by the Nigerian people. Counter Insurgency operations can only succeed if and when the people supports the state in its theater of operations. The Niger Delta operations which started in Bayelsa State with a Joint Task Force (JTF) in 1999 has continued to expand to include several other states in its eighteen years of existence.

Regrettably, these operations have succeeded in creating more opposition to the state than solving the militancy problem. From only 3 main militant groups in Bayelsa and Delta states in 1999, over 60 different camps were discovered at point of National Amnesty Programme introduction nine years later. Equally, crude oil illegal bunkering rose from a few hundred barrels per day in 1999 to a major economic drain of over 150,000bpd or a revenue loss of over $6 billion in 2015. The failure of military operations in Nigeria was hyped by the state’s introduction of a Niger Delta Amnesty Programme to mediate worsening security issues in Delta and attacks on the state major revenue earner.

While the state bob and weave amongst several conflicts from Jos, Saki-Biam, Southwest and Southeast regions, challenges on all state institutions multiplied, straining already battered and ill-prepared public institution to limit. The apparent result was the failure of these institutions as challenges and demands on them grew in leaps and bounds.

The growth of the Boko Haram insurgency since 2009, fall in international oil prices, an import dependent mono-product economy, a burgeoning youth population, double digits youth unemployment rate and a highly corrupt elites were a recipe for a falling state. Nigerian state institutions integrity unexpectedly fell and public trust plummeted in public domains at the turn of the century, radicalism equally grew as the youth demands a change from the old order.

As the economic situation worsen, the seam that holds the nation together continued to fail as ethnic nationalities switches to group protection mode. Ethnic self-determination became the new challenge on state authority as ethnic militias like the Biafran and Niger Delta autonomy calls become national issues again, threatening the weakened federation. Unfortunately, as the state economy worsens, and groups like hounds perceives weakness in state institutions, rebellions could expand as each group tries to preserve its own identity and champion personal goals irrespective of national needs.

Challenges facing a failing state are huge and most remain in the agitations from within, as groups become more interested in their survival at the expense of others in the state. The need to strengthen state institutions to enhance capacity in facing expanding demands by constituent units must be followed without shirking responsibilities to show the inherent capabilities of the state towards maintaining equity. Judicial reforms and a more independent judiciary become more important to maintain focus of the people on instant protection of cherished values by state and its organs.

Tolerance of the state institutions of security to be peacekeepers and not elite securitization organs with higher mandate than protecting the people should be discouraged. Security forces should be retrained to understand their roles in civil domains. Trigger happy security operatives have caused more national harms than good in recent past. A review of the current “Rules of Engagement” should be done by the legislature to reflect international standard and the deployment of security forces should be done with proper legislative supervision at all time.

All round policing and law enforcement system overhaul is required urgently in Nigeria, state internal security should and must be managed by policing institutions and not by the armed forces. The people always feels less threatened at police authority operations than when faced by the armed forces. Increasing internal security capacities can only be attained when the civil security operatives are allowed unfettered access to perform their duties. Domiciling local security operations in the army always weakens the national defense as it creates a military that is soft and not battle ready when called to action.

Policing private residences and hotels gates shouldn’t be the duties of an efficient military system. The deployment of military personnel in these points clearly shows the level of professionalism in Nigerian military and demeans the soldiers in the eyes of the public. All resources outlaid on military operations in conflict areas in Nigeria since the 1990’s cannot be counted as contributing to the development of internal security hence a colossal waste. These resources would have afforded the policing authorities the abilities to recruit, train and develop proper security operatives for the theater of operations as appropriate.

Lack of proper policies on security of homeland and defense of territorial integrity of Nigeria has become cloudy. The line between internal security and Nigerian defense are now blurred regardless of national constitutional provisions. Mediatisation of security operations has equally created a security class eager to discuss security issues in public domains without respect for confidentiality of investigation and personality of suspects. The hunger for public accolades has revealed barrage of information in public domain in Nigeria that not only increases perception of insecurity but aggravates the level of trust in the capacity of the security forces to provide adequate security.

As Nigeria prepares for worse economic scenario predicted for 2019, there are needs for proper prioritization of real need for security in Nigeria to face the growth in public agitations that are expected to follow the expected growth in hardship. The time to expand policing security capabilities through recruitment and training is now. The state must be ready to accommodate and manage public agitations instead of aggravating violent response. The army roles in civil engagement needed to be reanalyzed and realigned according to the 1999 constitution and deployment of forces properly checked. The state could ill afford costs resulting from several conflicts; hence there are needs for mustering all factors that might aggravate the already volatile situation.
God bless Nigeria.

Nigerian Homeland: Tackling Security Challenges of fragility

Terrorism

Nigerian Homeland: Tackling Security Challenges of fragility

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At the very moment when challenges to the Nigerian Homeland are growing in number and complexity, while economy has continued to kowtow to all Global currencies and youth radicalism has become a major issue in security planning, many analyst has concluded that the state is in its twilight. After decades of rising unemployment, high state sponsored corruption, sustained economic unease, in the middle of the worst security crisis in a generation, Nigerian are weary, and increasingly looking at the new government to bring in a change that will broker a new national order.

The ministry of interior has become the beacon of hope for the common Nigeria, given the appointment of a seasoned security professional and former Harvard fellow in person of General Abdulraman Dambazzau, former Chief of Army Staff (COAS) as the honourable minister in charge of policing the Nigerian homeland. The challenges of security in this nation without basic statistics to plan and work with; contrasting and, ever competing security organisations with overlapping and unclear jurisdictions; rising security challenges from terrorists, ethno-religious and militias groups; coupled with traditional security challenges of securing over 200 million people with less than 500,000 poorly; trained, remunerated and equipped law enforcement officers.

Faced with these daunting challenges; the temptation to hunker down and ride out this huge disorder is understandable for a novice, but this has not been the case for this officer and a gentleman and his team, knowing that Nigerian simply cannot afford this luxury, the unity of the nation is at stake, and believing that for Nigerian interest and peace and security of the country they have hit the ground running and has continued to achieve notable feats.

Proliferating challenges and resources to address the insecurity of lives and property within the Nigerian state notwithstanding; there are impetus for hope given the pedigree of the new helmsmen ability to harness the little resources available and professionally; demonstrating remarkable discipline and imagination in what, where and how, optimal results could be reached in solving escalating challenges to national security.

Nowhere is this more important than in the area of reorganisation and repositioning for effective operations, currently operational dysfunctional homeland security mix. This challenge is made more daunting by the prepondence of use of Private Security Companies in provision of basic security functions given obvious distrust for the public security services. Leading to erosion of the social contract between people and their government.

Fact that the state is well aware of its fragility challenge and has constantly tried to put in place in time past, several policies to address the widening gap between security demand and supply in the Nigerian State, is defeated by the public apathy and the generally view that these efforts lack nuance of essential elements of sound policy.

However despite increasing trust due to some current achievements by our security forces, the Amnesty International claims of overhand plays and lack of respect human rights by operatives has overshadowed the progress and hard-won experience of the past two years. Despite overcoming overwhelming challenges in taming Boko Haram and restoring peace to Boko Haram infested areas in North-eastern Nigeria our performance in other areas of law enforcement is falling short of the mark.

Our law enforcement capacity is currently handicapped by; bureaucratic politics; the bogus design of unrealistic policies without marked measurable deliverables and unrealistic timelines; the failure to understand and balance short-term priorities in dealing with long-term goals; unplanned resources, multi-layered and overlapping functions; missed opportunities to decisively act to prevent and manage crisis devoid of violence action; and apparent lack of concise plan for law enforcement capacities development.

There is no simple prescription to address security challenges in a fragile state. Trying to fix every issue in Nigeria security in the next two years could be daunting and clearly impossible given the enormity of challenges inherent in the current system. Yet, a systematic approach towards articulating sound and realistic policy principles to determine where and how to invest scarce resources and attention to maximum effect will surely go a long way.

Given the fact that the leadership is structured and shaped to efficiently handle the required planning for response and strengthening the capacity of key institutions and partners within the security sector to do their part, there are needs for the constitution of a security summit to harness inputs from a distinguished and diverse group of stakeholders in this sector.

It is important that a new strategic framework need to be developed to handle the design of a new national security policy based on current realities. These policies must be based on needs for integration of definitive and correlating security function for each agency; concise enough to reflect real roles and measurable deliverables achieved in time frames.

These policies are expected to be:

Tactical

Deliberate efforts should be placed on the identification of short, medium and long terms security goals based on mapped citizens need, and the required resources and efforts directed where Nigerian security interests are greatest. The security needs of states with whose fragility could upend national order and aligning with general need to structure operations based on on-the-ground assessment of needs not a fit all solution designed at the central level.

Institute monitoring and evaluation procedures independent of security organisations. Work closely with Civil Society organizations and partners to strengthen the respect for human rights and proper use of force in areas of responsibilities of our forces.

Prioritising conflict prevention by addressing the festering root causes of friability before they bubble over into conflict and instability. Greater resources should be done on improving local resilience, thereby influencing locals’ capability to manage shocks in non-violent manners. Structure locals’ alertness and vigilantes towards averting short-term attacks that might further exacerbate fragility.

Systemic

Tackle banes of security in Nigeria: politics, ethnicity, and religious divisions. Increase locals’ capacity towards embracing mutual need and communal sharing of tasks in security of their environments. Faith Based organisations and Community Based Organisations should be supported and challenged towards creating relationship bridges to one another and not grow in isolation. Formal information sharing sessions at all level will create better awareness and clear understanding of government goals of security. Declassifying basic security operations allows the public to be integral part of security of theirselves and embrace security agencies operations working in concert toward shared goals.

Selective

Homeland security should become priority operations of the policing agencies but in a more specific ways. Selective operations based on need to shock and awe competing anti-state interests to silence is of importance. Long drawn wars are based on lack of proper planning and structural engagements.  Choosing easy to achieve targets, which goals also align with the interests and capacities of local partners increases sense of trust and ability to win the hearts and minds of the locals.

Empowering local security partners and institutions to lead where they have greater stakes and influence albeit under professional supervision, will in no little ways embolden local assurance of security and reduce current civilians and security operatives casualty rates. Create incentives for communities with better

 Sustained

Domestic political support is essential to achieving desired outcomes. It takes decades for a country to transition from fragility to health; policy frameworks must acknowledge this reality and invest patiently and flexibly over time. We cannot sustain the present pace of reactive and expensive crisis response. Nor can we dive headfirst into complex environments without a shared sense of what can be achieved and greater confidence that it will have the required political backing and budgetary resources. We must be straight with the American people and our partners about both the limits of our means, and the costs and consequences of inaction. Translating these principles into action will be a formidable test for the next administration. Mutual responsibility and accountability will be essential to reframing our engagement with fragile states and with international partners and, just as importantly, within our own government. Three priorities stand out:

  1. Getting our own house in order by ensuring greater coherence and alignment among executive branch agencies and between the executive and legislative branches;
  2. Building more effective partnerships among international partners and between them and fragile states; and
  3. Sharpening the tools to help fragile states more meaningfully strengthen state-society relationships.

We believe these recommendations would allow the administration to deliver a more disciplined, realistic, sound and ultimately effective approach. This paper will be accompanied over the coming months by a series of policy briefs to explore specific policy, political, and bureaucratic aspects of this challenge in greater depth.

We have no illusions about the complexity of this challenge or about the limits of the Nigerian security challenges and international  influence on Nigerian polity, but we are confident about the continued promise of a future for our youth and the need to create a better future for them by writing a new script for our own future.

Thanks

Don Michael Olalekan, MA, Q.Med., DRS, fpnm
Director, Security Policy Analysis

African Initiatives for Peace and Human Security,  (AIPHD), Abuja
+2348038700701, 7055555243
donmikeadeniji@yahoo.com

Suicide bomber arrested in IDP camp – Nigerian Police

Crime, Terrorism

“The suspect, one Zara Idriss was rendered safe, arrested and is now in custody.” The post Suicide bomber arrested in IDP camp – Nigerian Police appeared first on Premium Times Nigeria.

via Suicide bomber arrested in IDP camp – Nigerian Police — Premium Times Nigeria

Boko Haram have infiltrated herdsmen, warns Osita Okereke – The Sun

Boko Haram, Herdsmen, Politics, Terrorism

Director General, National Taskforce to combat illegal importation, smuggling of goods, small arms, ammunition and light-weapons, Dr. Osita Emmanuel Okereke, has called on Nigerian communities to be on alert, claiming that members of terror group Boko Haram have infiltrated herdsmen to cause havoc across the country.

Okereke also accused security agencies of complicity in the fight against the Islamist insurgency, alleging that most of them are members of Boko Haram.

Emmanuel-Okeke-Osita-2-768x824.jpg

Real concerns Archbishop Welby raised before Buhari

2019 Elections, Africa, Celebrity Gists, PMB, Terrorism
• President Disappears From Abuja House
• Presidency Silent On Meeting With May

Contrary to official statement from the Presidency concerning the meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop Justin Portal Welby, it has emerged that the Anglican cleric raised concerns about the security situation in Nigeria, particularly attacks on Christian communities.

This is coming just as The Guardian gathered that President Buhari kept away from Abuja House, where he experienced some heckling from protesters last August.

A transcript of the discussion between the two leaders, which The Guardian obtained, showed that the Archbishop was very worried about the herders farmers’ conflicts and excruciating poverty in the country.

According to the transcript, the Archbishop told the President that no “country or society can flourish without excellent education,” impressing it upon him “how education helps tackle poverty.”

The English host informed his visitor of the vital role churches in England play, not just in educating a million children, but in providing them with values, identity and purpose.

Archbishop Welby, therefore, expressed deep concern about the suffering resulting from raids on Christian communities and villages, particularly as far as Delta State and urged the President to put in place measures to restore confidence in neutrality of the federal authorities.

While regretting the very many deaths and possible escalation of violence in the country, the Archbishop said the poor are suffering most for those tragedies, and urged Buhari to do everything in his power to secure the release of 14 year-old Christian girl, Leah Sharibu, who refused to convert to Islam.

The Archbishop told Buhari how he paid a pastoral visit to Nigeria in 2014 after the abduction of the Chibok girls, assuring of his continued prayers for the release of Sharibu and other Chibok girls still in Boko Haram captivity.

On the President’s disappearance from the official residence of the Nigerian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, otherwise known as Abuja House, and the proposed meeting with the British Premier, Theresa May, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Public Affairs, Femi Adesina, kept mum.

When our reporter called at Abuja House on Wednesday and Friday, there were no signs of the usual movement of vehicles and personnel that characterised the President’s two prolonged medical vacations of last year.

A security officer, who answered the bell on Wednesday evening responded with hostility and directed the reporter to the Northumberland Avenue, office of the Nigerian High Commission.

On Friday evening, when The Guardian visited, the residence was still quiet and the only member of staff seen closing around 6pm, told the reporter, “l don’t work there. Leave me alone, this Sahara Reporters people.”

Perhaps, out of fear of a recurrence of the heckling by protesters, which forced him to cut short his second medical vacation last August, after several weeks of treatment and recuperating at the Abuja House, President Muhammadu Buhari, seemed to have abandoned the West London property to a secretive hotel, since arriving in London a few days ago, ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Governments Conference beginning on Monday.

Also, the president’s proposed meeting with the British Prime Minister is being kept secretive, even as it is unlikely the two leaders may meet ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting (CHOGM).

Attempts to speak to the President’s Special Adviser on Media on Friday evening, to ascertain if the President had met with Mrs. May, met with a resounding: “no comment.”

When asked why the President didn’t officially transmit power, as alleged by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Adesina also responded “no comment.”

On whether the President was using this visit to attend to his private affairs, as the PDP National Publicity Secretary claimed, Adesina defended the President’s right to mix business and pleasure, saying:”It’s a free world.”

ISS Spotlight: building a new corps of dedicated African counter-terrorism experts

Africa, Boko Haram, Terrorism
With its skilled staff, professional networks and wealth of original research, ISS helps Africa tackle an evolving threat.

2018-04-11-training-spotlight-banner.jpgThe Institute for Security Studies (ISS) is helping African police to understand and combat terrorism on the continent, and to investigate and prosecute terrorism cases. Willem Els, a senior training coordinator at the ISS, is building a corps of well-trained African counter-terrorism experts while adapting international best practice to local conditions.

Threats include Boko Haram in Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin, al-Shabaab in Kenya and Somalia, and al-Qaida affiliates across the Sahel and North Africa. Three African countries – Nigeria, Somalia and Egypt – are in the global top ten countries most affected by terrorism, according to the 2016 Global Terrorism Index. Terrorism on the continent is particularly lethal, with six African states (Nigeria, Tunisia, Chad, Niger, Kenya and Cameroon) in the top ten countries with the highest average deaths per attack.

Police and prosecution services need specific skills to detect, combat, investigate and prosecute terrorism. The ISS helps to build these capacities through its expert staff and professional networks.

Els has an abundance of skills and experience. He served 28 years as a police officer in South Africa, with leadership positions in the national bomb squad, and time as an undercover sky marshal in the aviation anti-hijacking unit. He is a member of the International Association for Bomb Technicians and Investigators, with experience preparing disposal experts to work in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Now Els is sharing his knowledge with African police and prosecutors, working in partnership with policing organisations in East and West Africa, as well as Interpol, the United Nations, African Union and the EU.

‘It is rewarding to see my skills and experience embraced and integrated into the daily operations of people who deal with terrorism in Africa,’ he says. ‘We are investing in and empowering the next generation of passionate and competent counter-terrorism experts.’

Effective counter-terrorism requires an integrated training approach. The ISS has helped to create the official counter-terrorism manual for police agencies in East, West and southern Africa. Essentially an African counter-terrorism training handbook, it covers intelligence, explosives and bomb disposal, crime scene handling, weapons of mass destruction, causes of radicalisation and the evolution of terror.

ISS training spans national, regional and international legal instruments, extradition, state-sponsored terror, counter-intelligence, border control, biological weapons, dirty bombs and collection of evidence. ISS trainers are supported by African experts with world-class experience in subjects ranging from hostage negotiations, incident management andprosecution of terrorists.

Discussions are underway with a top South African university to accredit the training to diploma or post-graduate level and then offer it as a distance learning module.

The recognised value and impact of ISS training is based on its comprehensive and integrated counter-terrorism curriculum, and the deep working relationships with African police services and Interpol offices across the continent.

‘We go well beyond professional relationships based on technical expertise,’ says Els. ‘We bond as friends and comrades who face a common threat.’

‘The ISS is welcomed and respected as an African organisation which cares deeply about the continent’s security. We are embraced as true African partners who find local solutions to African challenges.’

Working with east African police, Els and other experts have produced standard operating procedures which serve as an investigators’ field guide following an incident. Terrorism is a threat that keeps evolving, so Els runs refresher courses for investigators, and specialised training when required. This includes bringing together frontline bomb technicians and intelligence experts from different terror hotspots to share their experience.

Annual field training supported by the ISS sees hundreds of police from across Africa participate in simulated hijackings, hostage negotiations, tactical interventions, defusing explosives, working with dogs and investigating a terror scene.

The ISS also hosts annual workshops where African heads of counter-terrorism and crime investigation discuss and agree regional priorities and identify new focus areas, such as the role of women in extremism. These discussions are informed by the wealth of original ISS research on violent extremism in Africa.

Working as a counter-terrorism trainer is not without its emotional challenges. Els tells a harrowing story of a late-night call from Somalia where three policemen had been blown up after following on-site instructions to approach a suspect vehicle. The caller survived the incident because he followed protocols learned in his ISS training.

For more information contact:

Willem Els, ISS: +27 82 554 7695, wels@issafrica.org

Picture: Jacqueline Cochrane/ISS

Ahmad Salkida : Only 15 of the 113 Chibok schoolgirls alive

Terrorism

Ahmad Salkida, the Nigerian journalist, formerly based in Dubai, said today that only 15 out of the remaining 113 Chibok schoolgirls, believed to be with their Boko Haram abductors are alive.

He made the claim in series of tweets today, in which he provided a backgrounder to the abduction, exactly four years ago. Salkida said the surviving 15 have been married off, indoctrinated and may no longer be interested in returning home.

chibHe advises government in negotiating for the release of the 15 girls to demand ‘proof of life’.

His tweets dealt with the botched attempts during the Jonathan era when the Boko Haram terrorists were willing to release the girls on swap deals and later developments. Four years ago, a middle ranking Boko Haram commander led dozens of fighters in search of food and other supplies in the remote town of Chibok.

Like an afterthought, they saw a chance to abduct school girls in Girls Secondary School Chibok. The girls at the time were preparing for their exams. The dozens of Boko Haram fighters faced no opposition during the abduction, as they struggled to convey their captives to the forest of Alagarno, the insurgent’s first war capital, which they named Timbuktu.

It was in Timbuktu that they organised most of the horror we experience today. Some of the girls were lucky to have escaped on their way to Timbuktu that night, because there were fewer fighters to hold more than 200 girls. At the beginning, the group didn’t know what to do with the girls, at least, not in the first one month of their captivity. However, what many people did not know was that two weeks into the abduction, the Jonathan administration was already in touch with me for the peaceful release of the girls. By the way, I was in self-exile after pressure from the same Government.

I took an excuse where I was doing a menial job in the UAE (but still reporting the insurgency), to see the president, which was facilitated by Aliyu Gebi and Labaran Maku. By the 3rd of May, I was already on my way from Abuja to Madagali, Marwa and finally to a Boko Haram camp. I got a proof of life for the president and another for the media in case I didn’t get back.

The demands of Boko Haram then were simple. They wanted detained members taken to Damaturu and they will move the girls to Buni-Yardi for swap somewhere in between. There was no word on ransom I was provided with full military escorts from Abuja to Damaturu.

Government was supposed to make sure that 70 detainees were ready on my arrival in Damaturu to meet 30 there. The rest of the negotiating team was in Abuja making sure the prisoners were on a plane before my arrival. On arrival in Damaturu, the military commander there was not briefed about my work. He was merely told to expect a VIP.

At that time, the girls have been moved by Boko Haram, but there were no prisoners for exchange and I got a call from the former Chief of Defence Staff to abort the operation. The president later said before me that he did not call off the swap. There was a credible window, but zero Will to rescue the girls. Boko were angry. I returned to the UAE to continue my hustle, but received invitations not only by the former administration, but the current government Four out of five processes that I was involved in, we came close to a swap deal, but Government in most instances did not provide the platform I presented with the required expertise. And whenever Government dragged its feet, Shekau will shift the goal post.

I continued my reporting on the crisis, often critical of government and Boko Haram, with both sides raising concerns. For me, I am a reporter before anything else, many officials consider me as somebody who was too independent minded for a process that needs to be shrouded in secrecy. Government began to look for alternatives to conclude what I’ve started and my former couriers stepped in as the primary ‘negotiators.’

It was a break for me because it is no longer negotiations, but mere transaction. Another reason was my insistence that the process must be domesticated I was a prickle in the flesh of our leaders with my counter claims of official narratives. A day after I exclusively released a video of the girls, something I’v done in the past, I was declared wanted by same military that provided me with escorts, military aircraft for assignments I was amazed to learn later that the terms that saw the release of some of the girls was unfavourable than what I presented, but as my friend will say, even if we come up with a cure for cancer, the war economy and elites would rather die than accept a cure from a talaka.

Today, my painstaking investigations on the #Chibokschoolgirls revealed that just a handful of the 113 #ChibokGirls are alive. Many of the girls have died as a result of cross fires and bombardments of the security forces that no doubt were intent on rescuing them. I regret to state here that only 15 out of the 113 #Chibokgirls are alive today, based on my investigations in the last three months and we have already seen some of them in a video, which I exclusively obtained and was published on SR website.

What is the status of the remaining 15 girls as far as negotiations are concerned? My investigations also revealed that, they are no longer under the control of #AbubakarShekau.

According to sources, they are now ‘married’ and only their ‘husbands’ can decide their fates. If they are divorced or the men are killed that is when Shekau’s decision takes precedence, and in this instance, since the girls have been indoctrinated, their leader has no right to negotiate for their release, no matter the ransom offered, reliable multiple sources said. It will be unbearable to share the names of the 15 that are alive here, this is the responsibility of Government. When I was involved, I regularly provided proof of life.

Government must demand that to prove me wrong or stop negotiating for many of the girls that don’t exists. The secrecy around the condition of the #ChibokGirls and most recent #DapchiGirls debacle by those involved is the reason people like me are out of the picture. The fact remains that under the present circumstances there is NO room for peace settlement.

The way out for these girls, is a military rescue or negotiate wt individual captors to release their ‘wives’ in return for some kind of deal, but this will mean death to these fighters bcz the terror group now sees the girls as part of their own and must be protected. How comes there is little or no information about the girls and both the parents and campaigners are in the dark? Because, Govt resist independent reporting of the crisis, most of the reports are choreographed & Nigerians are also not ready to hear the truth or stand by it. Reporting the #LakeChadCrisis is not just a job for me, Borno is my home, this crisis has affected me too. I’v invested 13yrs of my 18yrs journalism career to follow this story in a way no reporter or researcher has done, hence my knowledge of this crisis can’t be dismissed. I’v risked my life and that of my family in the past and even now, not only to tell the story, but to play the role of a mediator and fact finder.

But as soon as the FG found alternatives, my sacrifices got an official ridicule and I am being hounded. I hold no other intention of doing this than the need to stir a debate to demand more insights and bring closure to the parents.

The nation must not fail you from rescuing your daughters and also fail to tell you the truth. My heartfelt condolences to the parents of the near 100 that have perished or have not returned home and apparently not with their captors. But you must always remember that your daughters were stronger than the rest of us that couldn’t do more to avert this catastrophe.”(NAN)

Ahmad Salkida@ContactSalkida

26/ My heartfelt condolences to the parents of the near 100 that have perished or have not returned home and apparently not with their captors. But you must always remember that your daughters were stronger than the rest of us that couldn’t do more to avert this catastrophe.

Thousands of Palestinians protest at Gaza-Israel border, one dead

international News, Politics, Power, Terrorism, War
 Thousands of Palestinians protest at Gaza-Israel border, one dead
GAZA BORDER (Reuters) – A Palestinian was killed and more than 200 others wounded during clashes with Israeli troops as thousands gathered in protest along the Gaza-Israel border on Friday, Gaza officials said.Palestinians hurled stones and burning tyres near the frontier fence, where Israeli army sharpshooters are deployed. Some in the crowd threw firebombs and an explosive device and tried cross into Israel, according to the Israeli military.

Palestinian medical officials said Israeli troops opened fire on the demonstrators, killing one and wounding 220.

An Israeli military spokesman said troops were being confronted by rioters and responded “with riot dispersal means while also firing in accordance with the rules of engagement”.

Palestinians had arrived en masse at tented camps near the frontier as a protest dubbed “The Great March of Return” – evoking a longtime call for refugees to regain ancestral homes in what is now Israel – moved into its third week.

Israeli troops have shot dead 31 Gaza Palestinians and wounded hundreds since the protests began, drawing international criticism of the lethal tactics used against them.

On Friday, groups of youths waved Palestinian flags and burnt hundreds of tyres and Israeli flags near the fenced-off border after Friday prayers. At one camp east of Gaza City, youths carried on their shoulders a coffin wrapped in an Israeli flag bearing the words “The End of Israel”.

Israel has declared a no-go zone close to the Gaza border fence.

No Israelis have been killed during the demonstrations, and human rights groups say the Israeli military has used live fire against demonstrators who pose no immediate threat to life.

Israel says it is doing what it must to defend its border, and to stop any of the protesters getting across the fence.

The planned six-week protest has revived a longstanding demand for the right of return of Palestinian refugees to towns and villages from which their families fled, or were driven out, when the state of Israel was created 70 years ago.

The protest began on March 30, and is expected to culminate on May 15.

“CATASTROPHE” OF 1948

That is the day Palestinians will mark the 70th anniversary of the “Nakba” or “Catastrophe”, when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were displaced amid violence culminating in war between newly created Israel and its Arab neighbours in May 1948.

Successive Israeli governments have ruled out any right of return, fearing the country would lose its Jewish majority.

“Some people believe we are idiots to think the Israelis will allow us in, they may not, but we will not stop trying to return,” said a protester, 37-year-old civil servant Ahmed, as he stood on a hilltop overlooking the Israeli fence.

Like most of the 2 million Palestinians packed into the tiny, impoverished Gaza Strip, Ahmed is a descendant of refugees from Jaffa, a coastal town in Israel just south of Tel Aviv.

“No peace, no jobs, no unity and no future, so what difference would death make? If we are going to die, then let it not be in vain,” said Ahmed, who refused to give his full name, fearing Israeli reprisals.

The Israeli government accuses Hamas, the Islamist movement that has ruled Gaza largely since Israeli soldiers and settlers withdrew in 2005, of having instigated the protests and of using them as cover to launch attacks.

“Israel will continue to defend its borders and its citizens. Your country would do the same,” an Israeli foreign ministry spokesman said on Twitter.

The Israeli military has displayed video footage in which the frontier fence is seen being cut and breached during the recent clashes, with, Israel says, explosives planted there to target its troops.

Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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Chibok girls: Negotiations with Boko Haram halted – Buhari

Boko Haram, Military, Nigerian Army, PMB, Terrorism

Muhammadu-Buhari-1-1

President Muhammadu Buhari disclosed on Friday that the negotiations between the Federal Government and the Boko Haram terrorists for the release of the remaining abducted Chibok schoolgirls had suffered unexpected setbacks.

The president said this was mainly owing to a lack of agreement among the girls’ abductors whose internal differences, he explained, had led to a divergence of voices regarding the outcome of the negotiations.

Buhari, in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity Malam Garba Shehu, said he joined the Borno State government, the parents of the girls and Nigerians in commemorating the fourth anniversary of the sad incident, praying that the event at the daughters’ school on Saturday would go well.

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Buhari, however, assured the parents of the schoolgirls that were abducted from Government Girls Secondary School Chibok, Borno State on April 14, 2014 that “their daughters will never be forgotten or abandoned to their fate, despite four long years since they were taken away by terrorists.’’

 “Unfortunately, the negotiations between the government and Boko Haram suffered some unexpected setbacks owing mainly to a lack of agreement among their abductors, whose internal differences have led to a divergence of voices regarding the outcome of the talks.

“We know that this is not the news parents want to hear after four whole years of waiting, but we want to be as honest as possible with you.

“However, this government is not relenting. We will continue to persist, and the parents should please not give up. Don’t give up hope of seeing our daughters back home again. Don’t lose faith in this government’s ability to fulfil our promise of reuniting you with our daughters.

“Don’t imagine for a moment that we have forgotten about our daughters or that we consider their freedom a lost course,’’ the president said

He urged the parents to keep their hopes alive on the return of their daughters, saying the recovery  of more than a 100 of the girls that were kidnapped through the Federal Government’s determined effort should give confidence that all “hope is not lost”.

The president re-affirmed that the government remained focused and determined to see the girls return to their homes.

He asked the parents to be expectant of more good news in due course.

“We are concerned and aware that it is taking long to bring the rest of our daughters back home, but be assured that this administration is doing its very best to free the girls from their captors,” Buhari said.

He assured that as long as he remains the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, the Chibok girls would never be forgotten and all would be done to have them reunited with their families.