Nigeria

Nigeria marks four-year anniversary of Chibok kidnap

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Nigeria on Saturday marked four years since Boko Haram abducted more than 200 schoolgirls from the remote town of Chibok, with renewed calls for their release and that of thousands of others seized in the bloody conflict.

A total of 219 girls were taken from the Government Girls Secondary School in the remote town in Borno state on the evening of April 14, 2014 and have become an enduring symbol of the Islamist insurgency.

Four years on, 112 are still being held.

On Friday night, about 100 people attended a vigil in Nigeria’s biggest city, Lagos, under a busy flyover whose pillars are now adorned with brightly painted murals of the missing girls.

“We are here to show the government that we are still missing our sisters,” Zakaria Galang, a brother of one of the students who is yet to return, told AFP.

Further events are planned in the capital, Abuja, on Saturday.

Nigeria’s president in 2014, Goodluck Jonathan, was heavily criticised for his response to the abduction but the man who replaced him, Muhammadu Buhari, has had more success.

Since 2016, 107 girls have been found, released or escaped as part of a government deal with Boko Haram and the administration has said back-channel talks are ongoing for further releases and a possible end to the wider conflict.

Another activist, Habiba Balogun, said she hoped that would happen after nearly nine years of violence that has left at least 20 000 dead and made more than 2.6 million homeless.

“The government has said that they are ready to negotiate; they want to bring this nightmare to an end,” she said.

Buhari pledged to the Chibok girls’ parents that their daughters “will never be forgotten or abandoned to their fate” despite the time that had passed.

The former military ruler has repeatedly claimed Boko Haram was virtually defeated but while there have been clear army gains, security threats remain.

In February, fighters loyal to a Boko Haram faction headed by Abu Mus’ab al-Barnawi seized 112 schoolgirls and one boy from the town of Dapchi, in Yobe state.

One hundred and seven were returned in mid-March. Five reportedly died, while one girl, the only Christian in the group is still being held.

Buhari said the return of so many students from Dapchi and Chibok “should give confidence that all hope is not lost” and showed the government was “doing its very best”.

There had been “unexpected setbacks” in talks because of infighting within Boko Haram.

But he added: “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.”

The post Nigeria marks four-year anniversary of Chibok kidnap appeared first on SABC News – Breaking news, special reports, world, business, sport coverage of all South African current events. Africa's news leader..

Source: SABCNews

15 killed in Nigeria bank robbery, attack on police station

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Fifteen people were killed on Thursday when a gang of armed men attacked two banks and a police station in the Nigerian town of Offa, police told AFP Friday.

The brazen assault happened in part of Nigeria’s volatile central region, where criminal gangs and cattle rustlers regularly attack security forces.

“They attacked the police station and at the same time attacked two banks,” said Kwara state police spokesman Ajayi Okasanmi, adding that nine police and six civilians died in the violence.

The gang invaded a busy commercial area where several banks and the police station are located in broad daylight around 4:50 pm (1550 GMT), said Okasanmi.

“We are going all-out to ensure we arrest them,” he said, adding that the haul from the robbery was not immediately known.

The robbers charged into the banks and shot people on the spot before making off with bags of cash on stolen motorbikes, said a witness.

“They split into two groups. One group attacked the divisional police station where they opened indiscriminate fire,” said a resident who witnessed the attack, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“The other group attacked the two banks, shooting people they met inside, many of them in the head,” he said.

“They carried away money in sacks from the banks and fled on motorcycles they seized from okada (motorcycle taxis) riders.”

Senate President Bukola Saraki, one of Nigeria’s highest-ranking politicians, commiserated with the victims of the “savage attack” in Offa.

In a statement released Friday, Saraki said the robbery “is a despicable act committed by cruel individuals.”

Gang attacks are a persistent problem for Nigeria, adding to security woes in a country already grappling with the Boko Haram Islamist insurgency.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has had to deploy military throughout Nigeria, West Africa’s largest economy, to quell violence in the absence of a strong police force and rigorous legal system.

On Wednesday, Buhari reiterated his support for $1 billion in emergency funding for weapons purchases to fight security threats across the nation, though critics warn that similar defense spending in the past has been tainted by corruption.

Police and military in the country were subject to intense scrutiny in February after it emerged that they were unable to repel Boko Haram fighters who stormed the town of Dapchi and abducted 111 schoolgirls.

Since then, 105 of the schoolgirls have been returned following negotiations with the Nigerian government, though six others — including one Christian who refused to denounce her faith — are still unaccounted for. The five others are believed to have died in the initial stages of the kidnapping.

Military and police are overstretched in Nigeria, which, along with fighting Boko Haram jihadists in the north, is battling militants and pirates in the oil-rich south, a simmering separatist movement in the east and a bloody battle between herdsmen and farmers spanning the vast central region.

Fighting fires on so many fronts takes an economic toll. This week Nigeria’s central bank governor Godwin Emefiele said the “herdsmen-related violence” poses a key risk to the country’s economic growth.

The post 15 killed in Nigeria bank robbery, attack on police station appeared first on SABC News – Breaking news, special reports, world, business, sport coverage of all South African current events. Africa's news leader..

Source: SABCNews

Nigeria’s Chibok girls kept from family over Christmas

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A group of 21 Nigerian Chibok girls brought home for Christmas after almost three years in captivity were prevented from celebrating at home with their families, several sources told AFP on Wednesday. The 21 were among more than 200 mostly Christian schoolgirls released in October after being snatched by jihadist Boko Haram gunmen in April
Source: The New Age

U.S. aid worker kidnapped in Niger – town mayor

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Gunmen raided the house of a U.S. aid worker in central Niger overnight, killing his two guards before driving him off across the desert towards Mali, the mayor of the town said on Saturday. “First they came on a motorbike and killed the guards,” the mayor of Abalak told Reuters by telephone. “Then a 4×4
Source: The New Age

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