Former Delta State governor, James Ibori has been released from prison. Ibori was released today, December 21, 2016, following a court order to that effect, Vanguard reports. The former governor’s release has been confirmed by his media aide, Tony Elumenor. Ibori was, in 2012, sentenced to 13 years in prison by a United Kingdom court. The sentence was later reduced to four and a half years by the court.
The UN children’s fund has warned that nearly half a million kids may face starvation this year in northeast Nigeria, which is gripped by a devastating humanitarian crisis created by Boko Haram terrorist group. “What is already a crisis can become a catastrophe,” UNICEF executive director Anthony Lake said on Tuesday.
UNICEF said in the report that around 400,000 children in Nigeria are at risk of famine, adding that 80,000 of the kids could die from hunger within months. The UN agency voiced alarm over the high number of hunger-related deaths in the town of Bama in Nigeria’s Borno State, a Boko Haram stronghold.
Large areas of the states of Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe are completely inaccessible and cannot be reached by aid agencies due to an insurgency by militants. People in the three states are reportedly in need of emergency food aid. The UNICEF official added that if the hunger-stricken children are not provided with proper treatment and sufficient food, one in five of them will die.
Reports indicate that the current humanitarian response is insufficient in Nigeria amid extreme levels of food insecurity. In November, Doctors Without Borders that thousands of kids already have lost their lives, including 10 percent to 25 percent of those admitted to its 110-bed Maiduguri health facility. Boko Haram’s terror activities, which began in 2009, have killed thousands of people and displaced some 2.6 million people.
Two deadly bomb blasts near a crowded marketplace in Nigeria’s northeastern city of Maiduguri have left more than a dozen casualties. Police spokesman Victor Isuku confirmed that two blasts went off minutes apart in Maiduguri, the capital city of Borno State, on Sunday. He blamed the attacks on the Boko Haram terrorist group.
Survivors said they saw several dead bodies. At least 17 people were also injured in the explosions, according to rescue workers. The exact death toll from the twin attacks is still unknown, however. On Friday, two similar blasts in a busy market in the town of Madagali, 150 kilometers southeast of Maiduguri, left 57 people dead and 177 others injured.
Madagali was liberated last year after months of occupation by Boko Haram terrorists. Boko Haram started its terror campaign in 2009 with the aim of toppling the central government in Nigeria. The terrorist group has been increasingly targeting the civilian population ever since. Seven years of violence by the Takfiri group has left more than 20,000 people dead and displaced 2.6 million.
The group has extended its terror activities to Nigeria’s neighboring countries, where troops from Chad, Cameroon and Niger have been jointly battling the terrorists. The terrorist group has pledged allegiance to the Daesh terrorist group, which is mainly operating in Syria, Iraq, and to a lesser degree, in Libya.
A Nigerian court has ruled that Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky, the jailed leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), should be released unconditionally. The Abuja division of the Federal High Court of Nigeria on Friday also ruled that Zakzaky’s wife, Zeenat, should be released. Justice Gabriel Kolawole said the court had come to the conclusion that the Shia cleric and his wife “have been kept against their desires, thereby resulting in the breach of their rights to liberty.” The judge also stated that he had ordered the “immediate release” of the two “because the family house in Zaria was destroyed between December 12 and December 14, 2015.”
The prominent cleric and his wife were taken into custody on December 14, 2115, after deadly clashes between the supporters of the IMN movement and Nigerian troops. Nearly 350 members of the Shia movement were killed in the clashes. The sheikh was brutally injured and his house was reportedly destroyed by the army in the incident. Kolawole said he had given 45 days for authorities to provide new accommodation for the Zakzaky family. The accommodation is to be in the town of Zaria, Kaduna state, where the family were detained, or in other parts of the state or alternatively any other part of northern Nigeria.
The judge said the State Security Service would pay each of Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife $78,984 in compensation for the violation of their rights by being held in unlawful custody for nearly a year. Last month, nearly 100 IMN supporters were killed when Nigerian forces fired live rounds and tear gas at mourners during a peaceful march ahead of the Arba’een mourning rituals, which mark 40 days after the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein (peace be upon him), the third Shia imam. Authorities also destroyed a number of buildings belonging to the IMN. The Nigerian government has stepped up its crackdown on the IMN since the December 2015 deadly incident.
A Nigerian high court has refused to release on bail a leading separatist activist, whose arrest last year sparked a wave of violent protests across the country. The “alleged offenses for which the defendants are standing trial are serious,” federal high court judge Binta Nyako said on Thursday in a ruling refusing an application by Kanu’s lawyers to release him on bail. In the ruling, Nyako ordered Kanu’s trial to be held “almost immediately, but not later than two months from now.”
The judge further said Kanu and the three other defendants, if convicted, could face sentences of life in jail. At least three judges, including in a regional court, have ordered Kanu’s release, but Abuja refused to free him. Kanu, who was arrested in October 2015, is the founder of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) group. IPOB represents the Igbo people of southeast Nigeria who want secession from the mainland to form a separate Biafra state. The activist now faces charges of criminal conspiracy, intimidation, treason, operating a London-based radio station Radio Biafra and belonging to an unlawful organization.
Kanu’s supporters have held a series of deadly protests across the country in recent months, demanding his release and calling for a breakaway state for the Igbo people, one of the largest ethnic groups in Africa. Last week, Amnesty International accused Nigerian security forces of killing some 150 Biafra secessionists during the protests in the past year. Nigerian forces, however, denied the charges.
Fifty years ago, Biafra declared independence from Nigeria and the formation of a separate Biafran state. The announcement led to a civil conflict from 1967 to 1970, leaving about one million people dead, many of them from starvation and disease.
Nigerian armed forces have opened fire on a group of Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN)’s followers, killing at least 50 and injuring hundreds more in the northern city of Kano. The casualties were caused after soldiers fired live rounds and tear gas at mourners during a peaceful march held ahead of the upcoming Arba’een mourning rituals, which mark 40 days after the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammand.
Witnesses said that they saw dozens of bodies sprawled on the ground before the Nigerian forces evacuated them. Violence broke out when police tried to disperse thousands of people, including women and children, who were marching from Kano to Kaduna for the mourning rituals.
Nigerian forces claimed they opened fire on the crowd after one of their officers was hurt. The latest deadly attack on the mourning march comes despite a letter by the London-based Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) that had called on the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure the safety of the IMN followers during the Arba’een commemorations.
Last month, at least 20 people were killed and several others injured when Nigerian forces opened fire at Muslim mourners commemorating Ashura, the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein. Followers of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria have been subjected to heavy-handed crackdown since last year when the army attacked a religious ceremony in their stronghold of Zaria in the north.
A series of state-ordered demolitions and riots among slum dwellers have made some 30,000 people homeless in Nigerian megacity Lagos, a rights group and residents say.
The Justice and Empowerment Initiatives (JEI), a Lagos-based rights group, said in a statement on Thursday that bulldozers escorted by police arrived late on Wednesday to raze the makeshift housing in Lekki island and other up-market districts.
The rights group noted that officers had gone ahead with demolitions despite a court order to stop such plans, pending a hearing. The group has also published videos showing people fleeing in boats. JEI’s account has been confirmed by witnesses and residents.
A worker told Reuters that he fled with his family after their house was destroyed in the troubled area. “Police came at 11 p.m. and ordered us to go. We left by boat,” the workers said, adding, “We have nowhere to go now.” A spokeswoman for Lagos police, however, denied claims that the police had demolished buildings. She instead stressed that officers had detained several people for setting on fire makeshift houses in Lekki district.
Lekki, a prime site for investors, has attracted poor Nigerians and workers from Benin Republic, a poor nation located just west of Lagos. The site has been a scene of riots among slum dwellers competing for jobs and space.
The trouble started when riots erupted this week between local slum settlers and job seekers from Benin Republic. Residents and witnessed said that several rows of shanty buildings had been burned down.
The overcrowding in Lagos looks likely to continue in the coming years. Every day, thousands of Nigerian villagers head to Lagos, seeking work in a city of 23 million.
According to UN estimates, by 2050, Nigeria’s population is set to more than double to 400 million, making it the world’s third most populous nation after China and India.
Nigerian troops have managed to rescue yet another Chibok girl carrying a baby boy, more than two years after she was taken into captivity by the Boko Haram Takfiri terrorist group along with over 200 other school girls in northeastern Nigeria.
According to a statement released by Colonel Sani Kukasheka Usman, a Nigerian army spokesman, the girl, identified as Maryam Ali Maiyanga, was discovered by army troops on Saturday morning in Pulka in the volatile state of Borno near the Mandara mountains, which separate Nigeria from Cameroon.
“She was rescued at about 06:00 a.m. (local time) to be carrying a 10-month-old son, while the army troops were screening (possible) escapees from Boko Haram terrorists’ hideout in Sambisa forest,” Usman said, adding that the girl had been taken to the unit’s medical facility for a proper medical checkup.
The announcement comes less than a month after 21 other Chibok girls were freed from the grips of the terrorist group. The girls were swapped for four Boko Harm prisoners held in the liberated town of Banki, which borders Cameroon, located in northeastern Nigeria.
In August, Boko Haram released a new video purportedly showing some of those girls and called for the release of comrades in exchange for the freedom of the abductees. The swap negotiations were brokered by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Swiss government.
On April 14, 2014, Boko Haram kidnapped 276 girls from their secondary school in the northeastern town of Chibok in Borno. About 60 of the girls managed to escape afterward, but the fate of the remaining others remains unknown.
The Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG), which has campaigned for releasing the girls from the grips of the terrorists over the past two years, confirmed the release of the girl on Saturday.
“We are happy with the news… We have confirmed the name of the freed girl to be among those on our data base,” BBOG campaigner Aisha Yesufu said in a statement. “Our hope is that the government will work towards an early release of the remaining girls so that we can bring this sad episode to a close,” she added.
Elsewhere in the statement, Usman said the army units managed to kill at least 14 suspected Boko Haram terrorists on Friday during a fighting at Mallam Fatori in Borno. He, however, added that the army lost an officer and four soldiers in the fight.
More than 20,000 people have been killed and some 2.6 million people have been displaced since Boko Haram began its terror activities in 2009. Many blame corrupt officials in the Nigerian government and army for the continued militancy. Recent reports say the terrorist group is receiving some of its arms and ammunition from corrupt Nigerian officials.
Nigeria’s senate has rejected a plan by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to borrow billions of dollars in foreign loans. The senate said in a statement posted on Twitter on Tuesday that the plan to take on $29.6 billion in external borrowing lacked “documents supporting the request.”
Buhari had urged members of the parliament in a letter last week to approve the request to enable his administration to fund infrastructure projects over the next three years. Nigeria has been struggling to find new resources to finance its projects and services as the country of 180 million continues to suffer from a global slump in oil prices. Foreign creditors, including the African Development Bank, have publicly confirmed plans for lending billions of dollars in loan over the next years.
A renewed unrest in the oil-producing Niger delta has further battered Nigeria’s economy, which was once a heavyweight in West Africa. The country, which normally depends on oil for 70 percent of its government revenue and the bulk of its foreign exchange, has seen recurrent attacks by militants on its oil infrastructure over the past months.
The Nigerian government has also been financing a large-scale military offensive against the Boko Haram Takfiri terrorists group in the north. The group has intensified attacks in the recent past, prompting fears that Abuja would need more resources to reach its objective of overcoming the insurgency.
Observers say Buhari could still win the parliamentary approval on external borrowing if he makes some concessions to the lawmakers on the desirability of the loan. They say the senate rejection on Tuesday was not outright and the negotiations between the government and the parliament could continue.
Buhari has yet to submit a detailed plan on the projects that would absorb the foreign loans. Some lawmakers have voiced concern that the money could end up in projects that has almost no effect on productivity, job creation and poverty fight.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) says Nigerian security forces have raped and sexually abused women and girls fleeing the Takfiri Boko Haram terrorist group in the country’s troubled northeast. The international rights group said in a statement published on Monday that at least 43 cases of “sexual abuse, including rape and exploitation” had been documented by its researchers in July.
The group noted that the victims were housed at seven camps in Maiduguri, the capital of the northeastern Borno State. Several women and girls told HRW of the abuse carried out by camp leaders set up to help the military fight the terrorist group across the troubled region. Thirty-seven told HRW that they had been coerced into sex through false marriage promises and financial assistance. According to HRW, at least four victims were drugged and raped at the camps.
A 17-year-old girl said she was raped by a policeman who approached her in a camp. “One day he demanded to have sex with me. I refused but he forced me.” The victim stated that the policeman also threatened to kill her when she discovered that she was pregnant. A 16-year-old girl said she was drugged and raped a community security group member in charge of distributing aid in the camp.
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered a probe into allegations by a rights group. “President Buhari has instructed the inspector general of police and the state governors of the affected states to immediately commence investigations into the issue,” Buhari’s spokesman Garba Shehu said in a statement on Monday.
The spokesman stressed that Buhari was “worried and shocked” by the allegations. The camps are home to thousands of refugees who had fled Boko Haram’s reign of terror. Boko Haram started its campaign in 2009 with the aim of toppling the Nigerian government. The terror group later expanded its activities to the neighboring countries of Cameroon, Chad and Niger. These countries have, in return, stepped up counter-offensives in the form of unilateral operations or contributing to a multinational force against the militant group. The group has pledged allegiance to the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group, which is mainly operating in Iraq and Syria.