The Islamic State: Dawn of a new Caliphate in Nigeria?

 

Opinion, Nigeria,

Gabby Ogbechie. The Property Gazette 

Nigeria, the largest country in the West African sub-region, in terms of population, and the richest in economic terms, owing to the abundance of Crude oil and Gas reserves in its Niger-Delta or south-south region, is currently experiencing an influx of, or invasion by heavily armed militants (terrorists) whom the Federal Government described as ISIS, suggestive of an imminent, planned uprising that would inevitably culminate in the establishment of another Islamic Caliphate in Africa.

It is no longer news that the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq has been so degraded and depleted, and all its territories in Syria and Iraq recaptured that one would presume that both the Caliphate and ISIS as an ignoble entity are finished. Moreover, attempts by Al-Shabaab to establish an African caliphate have been creditably resisted by the Somali government.

However, the obnoxious fact that stares the world in the face is that the leadership of ISIS, notably Abu Bakar al Baghdadi and his close and immediate associates, with a few exceptions, are well and alive. With some state sponsors of terrorism in the Middle East still willing and able to make things happen for the cause of jihad and Islam, Baghdadi could be anywhere right now. And no one, it seems, not Syria, not Iraq, not Russia which ascribes to itself alone, the credit of defeating ISIS and bringing the Syrian war to a close; and certainly not the United States which dithered and redrew the ‘’red-line’’ several times before the emergence of President Trump, is interested in either capturing or having Baghdadi neutralized.

Aside from having so many countries in the Middle East that would readily host him, an option, for Baghdadi, could be the establishment of another caliphate. In terms of where an alternative caliphate could be situated, Asia is simply out of it; predominantly Islamic countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, etc. would not allow it under the open glare of the world, especially the United States.

With options for the relocation of its caliphate running thin, it is not inconceivable that ISIS may, once more, turn its gaze towards Africa, having some years back been expelled from Mali by France. And the obvious choice of the country where it would find support and sustenance is Nigeria from which Boko Haram had hitherto pledged allegiance.

Moreover, unlike Chad which banked on the support and assistance of its erstwhile colonial master France to come to its rescue, Nigeria does not currently have any Defence Pact with any of the world powers to come to its assistance. If anything, most Nigerian leaders have leaned towards the OIC, the Organization of Islamic Conference, and like most African countries, had out-rightly declined participation in Africom (African Command Defense Pact ), a joint African and American force to be headquartered in any African country. At the time in question, circa 2009, under the President George W. Bush administration, Muammar Gadhafi of Libya led the resistance against the establishment of Africom in Africa for the purpose of fighting terrorism.

Why Nigeria? One may be tempted to ask

In terms of perception, Nigeria, a member of the Organization of Islamic Conference which the erstwhile military President, Ibrahim Babangida foisted on the nation, is largely divided in terms of ethnicity and religion: In the core north, you have the north-west states of Sokoto, Zamfara, Kebbi,and Niger made up of Muslim Hausa-Fulani, and Kwara state which was mostly Yoruba, but was subsumed into Hausa-Fulani oligarchy through the imposition of an emir by the settler Hausa-Fulani; north-central Hausa-Fulani states of Kano, Katsina, Jigawa, Bauchi, and Gombe who are Muslim, and Kaduna, whose south-end is peopled by the Christians that are currently being subjected to ethnic cleansing. *

The north-east states, consisting of Adamawa, Bornu, Taraba and Yobe states which are peopled by mostly the Junkun and Kanuri, and within which zone Boko Haram birthed its insurgency with a view to forcefully converting the indigenous people to Islam, are non-Muslims; the middle-belt, mostly Christian states of Benue and Plateau, and mostly Muslim Nasarawa state peopled by the Hausa-Fulani, and Plateau, Benue and Kogi states peopled by the Igarra, Tiv, Idoma, Egere and settler Fulani.

The south-east states, namely Abia, Anambra, Enugu, Imo, and Ebonyi are Christian Ibo states; the south-west, Yoruba states made up of Ekiti, Lagos, Ondo, Osun and Oyo are two-third Christians, and the rest Muslims; and the south-south states of Cross River, Akwa-Ibom, Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta and Edo states consist of a hotchpotch of Ibos, Efik, Ibibio, Edo, Urhobo, Itsekiri and Ijaw are mostly Christians. Incidentally, the south-south states are the most deprived, despite the fact of being the cash-cow of the economy from where oil and gas are extracted.

The core Fulani-Hausa north who have been in power in the Federal Government for over 80% of the life of the republic, have foreclosed the option of including religion on Census menu because that would have revealed the percentages of Christians, Moslems and Traditional religionists within the land space of the federation.

Since the north-west and north-central are the core Muslim states; the middle-belt states mainly Christian; the north-east mainly Christian and partially Muslim; the east and south-south Christians; the west, mainly Christian and partially Muslim, it is ridiculous to have Nigeria referred to as a Muslim country. In objective truth, Nigeria, although politically dominated by the Muslim Hausa-Fulani, is by no dint of the imagination a Moslem country.

As the whole world now knows, one of the most vicious, Islamic terrorist groups the world has seen is Boko Haram, which translates into ‘’Western Education is forbidden.’’ As should have been expected, the Boko Haram insurgency did not emanate from the predominantly Muslim states; it was conceived within the north-east where the cattle-Fulani settlers settled, mainly in Bornu state.

In more ways than one, the plot of the ethnic-religio crises in the process of imploding was hatched by the British colonialists who, in spite of their experience with the Palestinian quagmire which neither the Balfour Declaration, the Oslo Accord nor any other conceived solution could solve, went ahead to create the deadly Christian-Islam country named Nigeria, instead of creating two separate countries; one in the north and the second in the south. For the frivolous reason of cutting its administrative costs, the British merged the Northern and Southern Protectorates, which had neither cultural nor religious ties into one huge imminently explosive country.

The Boko Haram Quagmire

It was in 2002/2003 in the last days of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidency that the nation and the entire world heard the stirrings of Boko Haram. First was the incident when this small band of Islamic fundamentalists attacked a Police unit in Maiduguri in Bornu State; killed some policemen and carted away small arms. Several of such incidents, such as attacking churches and few mosques followed until the major event which marked the arrival of the Boko Haram insurgency; the attack and bombing of the UN building in Abuja during the inception of the Goodluck Jonathan administration in 2006.

The Olusegun Obasanjo administration did virtually nothing to stamp out the insurgency because the inception of Boko Haram coincided with the period it was engrossed in its ‘’third term agenda.’’ Just like he did with the institution of the Sharia Islamic Law in Zamfara State which he later characterized as ‘’Political Sharia’’; ignoring it as if it wasn’t happening, he ignored this ogre at its incipient stage when it would have been wiped out relatively easily, and progressed to the stage when attacks occurred almost two or three times every week all over the northern states.

Up to date, it is estimated that over 25 thousand souls have been wiped out; thousands of homes burnt; scores of villages destroyed; and millions displaced through the terrorism Boko Haram unleashed on the nation and adjoining countries such as Cameroon, Chad and Niger. Boko Haram’s abduction of nearly 300 adolescent schoolgirls from the Federal Government Girls Secondary School from the small town Chibok, with the active connivance politicians bent on discrediting the Goodluck Jonathan Administration was what finally announced Boko Haram to the world, and unleashed the #BringBackOurGirls movement.

Typically, the thoroughly organized slaughter which political correctness in Nigeria define as ‘’herdsmen/farmers’’ clashes usually begin with Fulani herdsmen trespassing into farmsteads, destroying the huts constructed by farmers, and then proceeding to chopping yam and cassava tubers into tiny bits for the consumption convenience of their cattle. If unfortunately such farmers dare to challenge such herdsmen, their usual reaction is to shoot such farmers for having the temerity to question their actions. From there, they usually bulldoze their way into the village or town; destroy and set as many homes as they can on fire. As residents of such home struggle out of their burning homes, they are met with gunfire.
As Nigerians were adjusting to a new life of seeing churches, markets, mosques, motor parks and police stations firebombed, leading up to the elections which brought the President Buhari government to power, another rude awakening came by way of incessant killings by the itinerant ‘’Janjaweed militia’’ locally known as Fulani herdsmen. Prior to this latter day development, the nation had gotten used to the so called ‘’Fulani herdsmen/farmers clashes’’ in Plateau and Benue States especially, but of a sudden, about a year to the general elections which was headlined by the Presidential election, the Fulani herdsmen began to unleash terror in most middle-belt, north-east and southern non-Muslim states; and have been observed to be upping the ante towards the 2019 elections.

To date, Fulani herdsmen have surpassed Boko Haram in terms of the number of people killed in the non-Fulani states. A very important aspect of these attacks is that as soon as they enter farms, after destroying the barns and whole farmsteads, they condition such farms for imminent grazing by setting the farms and bushes on fire under the notion that the past season’s bushes and brushes must give way for grass to grow unhindered with the first rains. The great Nigerian novelist, Cyprian Ekwensi detailed the havoc Fulani herders wreak on land in his epic novel, Burning Grass. Were the lessons outlined in that book to have been taken to heart by successive governments, the current menace would have been avoided. 

While it is commonplace to find whole villages and communities entirely razed by herdsmen, village heads, important personalities are kidnapped and ransomed before they are released by herdsmen. A former Head of Service and Presidential Candidate, Chief Olu Falae was kidnapped by Fulani Herdsmen; his farm ransacked; and some of his farm workers slaughtered and lots more beaten up and wounded. It took the intervention of the Buhari administration before Olu Falae was released. The Obi of Ubulu-Uku was abducted, and after ransom money was paid, he was still killed. 

As lately as on 6th instant, Governor Ortom of Benue had his farm destroyed. Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state has disclosed that his farm located at his village in Gbajimba, the headquarters of Guma local government area has been attacked by Fulani mercenaries destroying the farm products.

The governor who disclosed this while fielding questions from journalists at the government house in Makurdi also said that the corpse of a policeman who was killed by armed Fulani herdsmen and dumped in the bush had been discovered by the traditional rulers in Guma and handed over to the police authorities in the state.

Governor Ortom regretted the continued unwarranted attacks on people of the state despite the relocation of the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris on the orders of President Muhammadu Buhari to the state saying the quantum of destruction on his farm cannot be ascertained as manager of the farm had run away for his dear life leaving the entire farm at the mercy of the invaders.

The testimony of a former member of the Federal House of Representatives from southern Kaduna sums up the whole gamut of the scourge of Fulani herdsmen. He said among many other things that whole villages and communities in southern Kaduna are being systematically subjected to ethnic cleansing, and denied every imaginable amenity by the Federal and State governments, while making such amenities available to the settler Fulanis who are gradually taking over their land. Furthermore, because Christians and churches are the primary targets of fundamentalism, the Church, which has remained taciturn and mealy-mouthed has been forced to start speaking up. While the Pastors of most of the big churches have kept mum, a few have been speaking out, irrespective of what it may result to. Among the few who have been vocal against Fulani herders’ killings are Rev. Issa Buba, Joseph Okechukwu, etc.Ben Murray-Bruce

 

On his part, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, speaking in the Senate Chamber, informed the Senators that there were developments within the polity that defied explanation. He stated that they were all in shock to hear Senator Marafa voice his agitation over the presence of heavily armed strangers who may not be Nigerians in Zamfara state. He went as far as stating that it didn’t make sense for the Senate to pass resolutions time after time and yet nothing gets done. (Please watch). He further wondered that with the incessant killings in the north-east, middle-belt, south-east, south-west and south-south by marauding Fulani herdsmen, Nigeria was fast becoming a ‘’lawless country’’. 

On the 6th instant, a report on Daily Post online stated that a former minister of Aviation, Femi Fani Kayode has reacted to the killing of Officer-in-Charge of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, Saki Unit in the Oyo State Police Command by Fulani herdsmen.

The SARS boss was reported to have been macheted to death by the Fulani herdsmen during an operation in a forest on the Saki-Ogbooro Road in Oke-Ogun area of the state.

Reacting , Fani Kayode said law and order had been broken in the country as no one was safe, even security agents, from Fulani herdsmen whom he described as ‘bloodsucking’.

On his official twitter page, he wrote: “A SARS police officer was cut into tiny pieces with machetes by Fulani terrorists in Saki, Oyo state yesterday. Law and order has broken down and even our security agents are being targeted and slaughtered in open daylight by these bloodthirsty and bloodsucking Fulani herdsmen.‎”

On a personal note, many people in the Press and the Social Media have consistently reported an obvious build-up of strange people all over the south. On the average, one finds that for every street on property security personnel, there are on the average well over five to ten others who either loiter around, or have become itinerant cobblers, tailors, etc. Many believe that what we are witnessing is the rapid deployment/spread of Boko Haram and Islamic fundamentalist terrorists all over the country, by whom, no one seems to know.

The fact that the Legislature and the administration had been considering the Grazing Bill which tends to elevate the ‘’rights’’ of cattle and their owners above that of the average citizen by according proprietary rights to graze to cattle over user rights by citizens, and that the Federal Government had remained taciturn over the menace of Fulani herdsmen, and finally, President Buhari’s resolve to create ‘’Cattle Colonies’’ in every state emphasized the impression that the government valued the life of cattle above human life.

The only positive development in all of these is that the President finally spoke concerning the vexatious subject. He tweeted:
The recent killings in Benue, Adamawa, Taraba, and Zamfara states are all regrettable, and saddening. But even more importantly, I am very much aware of all the issues at stake, and doing my best to ensure that justice is done and the security of lives and property guaranteed.
56 replies96 retweets93 likes
The security agencies have standing instructions to arrest and prosecute any and all persons found with illegal arms. In addition, quite a number of arrests have been made so far, in relation to the killings, and all these persons will be duly prosecuted.
32 replies90 retweets102 likes
Bukola Saraki
The Nigerian Senate, in its bit to halt the embarrassing state of killings within the economy, convened a two-day Security summit. The Senate President, Senator Olusola Saraki tweeted:

”Following the spike in the bloodletting over the New Year period, today, the Senate convened a #SecuritySummit to review the entire security architecture of the country”.

In his opening address, he said amongst other things:

”The spike in the bloodletting over the New Year period injected another note of urgency into the matter, and further served to augment the mandate of the Committee, whose members suspended their recess to conduct a fact-finding visit to Benue State, scene of one of the recent killings. From that visit on 12th January 2018, the Committee had a report ready for the Senate upon resumption on 16th January. It was on the back of that, that we passed the Resolution to organise this Summit – to review the entire security architecture of the country. I would like to thank the members of the Committee – Chaired by Senate Leader, Distinguished Senator Ahmed Lawan – for their hard work and commitment to this national assignment, and the expedient manner in which they discharged their functions.

The sharp increase in murderous violence, over and above the relatively manageable level of insecurity that has plagued our country for some time, jolted us out any last vestiges of complacency or denial. There can be no denying the horrific reality in many parts of our country today. People who should be neighbours are turning on one another and taking up arms. These attacks and reprisal attacks are an intolerable cycle of hell that must be broken. Killings, kidnappings, mayhem and general lawlessness cannot be the new normal. We must take this country back and restore order.”

The implication of a Nigerian Islamic Caliphate

The foremost implication of an islamic Caliphate being established in Nigeria means firstly a replication of the Syrian situation multiplied five-fold. However, whereas Europe and the world welcomed Syrian and Iraqi refugees with open arms, no one is willing or ready to welcome refugees from another ”Muslim country” given the current notion that the refugee path has become an avenue for Muslim invasion of Europe.

We must decide as a nation whether which we treasure more; our ethnic and spiritual affiliations, or the continued existence of our nation.

 

Terrorism and Food Security: The Looming man-made Famine in Nigeria

 

With the end of the ongoing war with Boko Haram still nowhere in sight, the least the world expects of Nigerian leaders is to maintain a united front with a view to ensuring that the developmental objectives of the economy remains on track. Recent developments, especially as it affects food security in this embattled West African nation, may tend towards a man-made famine situation, if everything possible is not done to halt that tendency.

For about the third year now, a new face of terror has swept through the length and breadth of Nigeria; especially the middle-belt area, consisting of Benue and Plateau states, and the Eastern, Western and South-South states of Cross River, Akwa-Ibom, Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta and Edo states.

Photo published for Fulani herdsman sentenced to 2 years imprisonment in Ekiti » YNaija

Known variously as the ‘’Janjaweed’’ militia, ‘’the sons of Futa Jalon’’, and ‘’Fulani herdsmen’’ by most Nigerians, these herdsmen who drive their cattle all the way from the Savannah north to the middle-belt and southern states where lush green grass for cattle can be found, are a new brand of cattle breeders who are armed with AK 47 rifles, and who go about pillaging, raping, killing and destroying whole villages and farms under the pretext that farmers resist their access to grass (feed) for their cattle.

There were stirrings of what was about to come during the electioneering period of 2014-2015, before the Presidential election which ushered in the government of General Muhammadu Buhari. Initially, skirmishes between farmers and cattle herdsmen were limited to the Benue/Plateau area where the Fulani settlers had been on the necks of the indigenous people, intent on taking over their land, resulting in deaths and destruction of properties, and at times, whole villages.  All this while, grazing in most of the southern states were restricted to the highways beyond villages, and there were no reasons whatsoever for clashes. The problem, for most southerners got closer home just before the advent of the Buhari administration; clashes ensued; people were slaughtered as they tried to resist the armed Fulani herdsmen.

With the advent of the Buhari government, the problem degenerated into something worse; the Obi of Ubulu-Ukwu in Aniocha-North local government area was abducted and killed by some Fulani herdsmen who had invaded in the guise of finding food for their cattle. In the Western Yoruba area, Fulani militant herdsmen invaded the farm of former Secretary of the Federal Government, Chief Olu Falae, killed some of his farmhands, and abducted him. It took the intervention of agents of the Federal government before he was released.

From Enugu state in the east, to the farthest flung villages in the west, nowhere is sacrosanct to the Fulani herdsmen; they stampede their cattle from place to place; trampling and pillaging as they move through schools, villages, and what have you, and any resistance was silenced with shots from ready rifles and machetes. Along the roads to Abuja from both the East and the West, the said Fulani herdsmen wreak havoc; using their cattle to block the highway, and then killing and pillaging passengers of vehicles who were forced to stop.

 

This reporter had a personal experience of what is going on all over the country; which our leaders have preferred to ignore by playing the ostrich. I travelled to my village in Delta State for the funeral obsequies of a prominent son of the village in January, and took some time to visit my undeveloped land. In place of the economic and plantain trees we had spent some funds planting over time, what I saw was plain wasteland. In addition, I observed that the whole area had been subjected to rampant burning; the whole swath of land, as far as the eye could see, was similarly burnt. I was later meant to understand that those herdsmen deliberately set fire to whole lands; farmsteads in which farmers left standing, dry okra, maize, yam and other plants that were meant to be seed for the next planting season; for purposes of ensuring that grass/weed would grow in their stead unhindered on such land, for their cattle, and that trapped and burnt animals like rabbits, antelopes etc. would become ready source of meat for them.

As I shook my head in unbelief at the carnage on my land which stared me in the face, and started the long walk to the remnant of the once tarred road which connected my town to the next town, I felt a prompting to take one last look at the land, and that was the exact time these all-white herd of cattle came into view, ghost-like as they entered into and marched through my land. I beat a hasty retreat for fear of becoming part of the murderous Janjaweed militants’ statistics.

By the time I got back to the village and narrated what I encountered, I was heralded with tales of rapes, shootings and slaughter which had gone on all over the place. It was unbelievable that such atrocities could be allowed to go on in any country in the 21st Century. In most towns and villages I learnt, no one goes to farm alone anymore; women were routinely raped when alone and even in pairs without male company, and men were simply shot for no reason whatsoever. It is simply shameful. It was while I was ruminating on the implications of all I had seen and heard that I saw the following video on the menace Fulani herdsmen and their cattle have become in Edo State.

 

video

It was while thinking about the implications on food security for the economy, of the actions of the Fulani herdsmen that it dawned on me that we are most likely, as a nation, heading towards a period of prolonged famine. The situation was made worse by the fact that firstly, our own Federal Government, to all intents and purposes, seems to be ranking the interest of those armed herdsmen, most of whom are non-Nigerians above the interest of bona fide Nigerians. Secondly, and in retrospect, it would seem that the armed cattlemen are merely acting out a script. How come, one must ask, hasn’t the government devised a way to disarm those cattle bandits who are armed with assault rifles illegally?

Secondly, as anyone who is interested in what is currently happening in Nigeria would know, the problem of the Fulani herdsmen has led to the writing of the National Grazing Reserve Council Bill. From a post authored by one Dr. Austin Monye, the would-be Law seeks to create a council to be chaired by a chairman to be appointed by the President. The council shall have the power to appropriate any land anywhere within Nigeria and pay whatever compensation it deems fit; not the value of the land.

The appropriated land shall be assigned to herdsmen who shall use same for grazing purposes. If the former owner of the appropriated land wishes to challenge the appropriation; if he feels that the council wrongly appropriated his land, then he could go to court to challenge the said appropriation. Before he goes to court, the appropriated must first of all notify the Federal Attorney General who must consent to the action before the appropriated can sue. If the Attorney General refuses to give his consent, the appropriated has lost his land forever. When passed, the law shall apply to every parcel of land in Nigeria, making it superior to the Land Use Act.

Moreover, in order to be entitled to any form of compensation, one must have and present proof of ownership such as survey plan, Deed of Ownership, Deed of Conveyance, etc.

According to Dr. Monye, ”that Bill is a deliberate attempt to take our lands and hand them over to to Fulani cattlemen since only the Fulanis rear cattle in Nigeria. That law, when passed, shall fulfil the directive of Uthman Dan Fodio and other northern leaders to take over other parts of Nigeria.”

He concluded: ”That law will destroy Nigeria. All over the world, ranches are established and used to rear cattle. The farmers buy land and put their cattle there. There is no country where the land of citizens are compulsorily acquired for the purposes of cattle grazing, and given free of any charge to the rich cattle owners. This is evil, and designed to favour the Fulanis where the President comes from. We must resist the passage of that bill into law to save Nigeria, and to protect our future generations. We must defend our land and protect our children.”

 

 

 

 

Is a coup d’etat likely to happen in Nigeria while President Buhari is in the UK?

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Ludovica Iaccino,International Business Times 10 hours ago

After Boko Haram Releases Nigerian Girls, an Anguished Wait for Parents

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Some of the recently freed girls from Chibok in Abuja, Nigeria, on Sunday.CreditNigeria State House, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

DAKAR, Senegal — The father of two girls kidnapped by Boko Haram was suspicious when friends told him that dozens of girls had been freed, because he had heard similar rumors countless times during the three years the schoolchildren have been missing.

But by Sunday morning, it became clear to the Rev. Enoch Mark that the news was true. The Nigerian government announced that 82 of the girls who had been taken from a school in Chibok, Nigeria, had been released in exchange for handing over as many as six suspected militants to Boko Haram.

While Mr. Mark was thrilled with hearing some of the girls were safe, his joy was mixed with the awful, gut-wrenching torment of not knowing if his own two daughters were among those released.

“We are hoping God will do something for us,” Mr. Mark said.

By midday Sunday, the released schoolgirls — some of the nearly 300 who were initially captured — had been handed over to intermediaries, taken from a town in the northeast near the border with Cameroon and flown to the capital, Abuja, where they met with Muhammadu Buhari, the president of Nigeria.

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Only late on Sunday did an unofficial list of names begin to circulate, as well as photos that showed the faces of some of the girls. Some appeared sullen, and one had her arm in a sling, but they did not appear sickly.

The names of Mr. Mark’s daughters did not appear on the unofficial list.

Nigerians were anxious not only about the well-being of the Chibok girls on Sunday, but also the health of the president. Immediately after his meeting with the girls, Mr. Buhari announced he was going to London to visit with doctors.

Mr. Buhari left the country for weeks earlier this year for an undisclosed medical ailment and has missed recent cabinet meetings. Before he left for London, a photo of a gaunt-looking Mr. Buhari speaking to some of the freed girls was posted on his Facebook account.

The release of the girls was a victory for Mr. Buhari, who has promised to secure the freedom of all of them.

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The girls were taken to a military base in Borno State, in northeastern Nigeria, before being flown by helicopter to the capital, Abuja. CreditInternational Committee of the Red Cross, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Imagess

The handover began about 7 a.m. Sunday. Talks to free them had been going on for several months. The Nigerians worked with the government of Switzerland and the International Federation of the Red Cross to secure the release.

On Sunday, some parents quickly departed from Chibok by road on a long journey to the capital to see if their daughters were among the freed. Others stayed behind, joyful but anxious about whether their girls had been liberated.

For those in Abuja, the strain of not knowing the status of their loved ones was particularly acute. One mother of a missing girl sat at a rally in the capital, uncertain whether her daughter was across town, safe and in the custody of the government, or still in the bush in the clutches of the Islamic militants.

When she combed the list made available late on Sunday, the mother, Esther Yakubu, did not find name of her daughter, Dorcas, on the list.

The kidnapping by Boko Haram of nearly 300 girls from a school at a small village in a remote corner of Nigeria is among the countless heinous acts by a group that has carried out of a campaign of murder, rape and the torching of whole villages, largely against some of the world’s poorest people. More than two million people have fled their homes to escape the group’s violence.

Yet it was the singular act in Chibok that trained the world’s sights on this war in Nigeria. Images broadcast by Boko Haram not long after the kidnapping of the veiled girls sitting on the ground in captivity resonated with celebrities and everyday people alike and spread across social media, where a #BringBackOurGirls hashtag became popular.

More than 100 girls are still missing. Twenty-one others were released six months ago, and one kidnapped student was rescued after being found wandering in the forest scrounging for food. Officials did not immediately release their identities.

The newfound freedom of so many of the kidnapped girls is a major victory in the war and is a lift for Mr. Buhari, who vowed when he took office in 2015 to destroy Boko Haram.

While hundreds, if not thousands, of people have been kidnapped by Boko Haram, many of those have been rescued in recent months by military operations that have liberated entire areas from militant control.

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The girls met with the Nigerian president in Abuja and then waited to be sent home to Chibok.CreditNigeria State House, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The military has penetrated Boko Haram’s large encampments and forest enclaves. Large numbers of the group’s fighters have been killed or jailed in an aggressive campaign that sometimes has ensnared innocent civilians.

On Sunday, it was unclear precisely which or how many Boko Haram suspects had been traded in exchange for the girls’ freedom. Government officials declined to identify the suspects even as some media reported they were high-ranking Boko Haram commanders. Western diplomats said as many as six may have been handed over.

With their forces now scattered throughout the countryside, Boko Haram’s most effective strategy recently has been launching suicide attacks. They have strapped bombs to dozens of young girls and children as young as 7, sending them into crowded markets or camps for people displaced by the war. The group has also attacked military outposts and convoys and still is regarded as a threat to soldiers and civilians in the region.

But with many of their hide-outs gone, fighters can no longer gather in huge groups and instead exist in pockets in Nigeria and in bordering countries. Fighters are suffering from a lack of supplies and food, just like many of the residents, in an area that is experiencing famine-like conditions.

Boko Haram has also suffered infighting that has split the group into factions, one of which has been recognized by the Islamic State.

Another faction, run by Abubakar Shekau, known for his YouTube rants and vicious battlefield activity, was the one holding the 82 girls. Mr. Shekau’s brutality led to a major split in the group last year.

Last week, the Nigerian military said it seriously injured Mr. Shekau, one of many similar claims made by soldiers through the years. Mr. Shekau rushed to release a proof of life video titled “Sermon to the Lying Disbelievers of Nigeria,” that has not been verified as authentic.

Over the weekend as news of the girls’ release circulated, speculation was rampant that the government had paid a steep ransom in exchange for the girls. Government officials did not respond to a request for comment.

Ransom money has fueled the war chests of Al Qaeda offshoots operating elsewhere in West Africa and of the Islamic State. The American and British embassies recently issued a warning that Boko Haram intended to kidnap foreign workers in northeast Nigeria. The move would be a new strategy for a group that for the most part has targeted locals.

Advocates for the kidnapped girls were pushing to make sure the more than 100 still held captive were not forgotten. At a rally, a few dozen people, including several parents of the girls, chanted, “Bring back our girls now and alive!”

Nigerian Spy Chief Caught With $43 Million in Cash Is Suspended

File this one under “oops.” The head of Nigeria’s spy agency had $43 million of cash just lying around in one of his apartments.

Anti-corruption investigators became suspicious of Ayo Oke, head of Nigeria’s National Intelligence Agency, after a tip-off that a “haggard” looking woman wearing “dirty clothes” kept taking bags in and out of his seventh-story apartment in Lagos. So, on April 12, they raided his apartment and stumbled onto the mother lode. In the four-bedroom apartment, they found “neatly arranged” stacks of $43 million in U.S. dollars, sealed and hidden in various wardrobes and cabinets. They also found $36,000 worth of British pounds and $75,000 worth of Nigerian naira.

Nigeria’s anti-corruption body, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, said it suspected the funds were linked to unlawful activities. Oke has’t yet made a public statement, but unnamed intelligence sources told local media there’s nothing to see here, and the cash was just being held for covert operations.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari isn’t buying it, and has suspended Oke pending an investigation. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo will head the investigation and report back to Buhari with findings in two weeks.

Buhari campaigned on rooting out corruption but has struggled to make good on those promises since taking office in 2015. (It’s an issue that has plagued Nigeria for decades, particularly the country’s corruption-addled oil sector.)

The country’s anti-corruption body has uncovered a slew of cash bundles linked to government graft in recent months, thanks in part to a new policy that entitles whistleblowers to a small cut of any misused public funds recovered.

Photo credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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Nigeria Admits Boko Haram Leader Abubakar Shekau Is Alive After Years of Death Claims

Conor Gaffey,Newsweek

Multiple bomb blasts rock Nigeria’s Maiduguri

At least three people killed and 18 others wounded by explosions at a refugee camp in Maiduguri, officials say.

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Most the people living in the camp have fled their homes due to the spate of attacks by Boko Haram in the country's northeast [Reuters]
Most the people living in the camp have fled their homes due to the spate of attacks by Boko Haram in the country’s northeast [Reuters]

At least three people have been killed and 18 others wounded in multiple suicide blasts at a refugee camp on the outskirts of the northeastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri, security sources told Al Jazeera.

Police said five male suicide bombers detonated explosives at the camp which is located at the Muna Garage area of the city in the early hours of Wednesday.

Those wounded were taken to hospital to receive treatment.

READ MORE: Attack by gunmen in central Nigeria kills at least 17

The blasts triggered fires which burned down tents in the vast Muna camp, Tijjani Lumani, a coordinator at the camp told the AFP news agency.

“There were four explosions inside the camp. The bombers struck at different locations around 4:30 am.” Lumani said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but Maiduguri has been frequently targeted by fighters of the Boko Haram armed group.

According to eyewitnesses, the bombers had sneaked into the camps late on Tuesday night alongside those who sell charcoal to refugees, who use it to cook their food.

Most of the people living there are those who have fled their homes due to the spate of attacks by Boko Haram in the country’s northeast.

Wednesday’s blasts were the latest blamed on suicide bombers, who continue to pose a threat to civilians despite military claims of success against Boko Haram.

Four people were killed on Saturday when suicide bombers blew themselves up in a village near the city.

On Tuesday, Nigerian President Mohammadu Buhari met security chiefs in the capital Abuja to review the security situation in the country. The nearly seven years Boko Haram crisis topped the agenda of the review, according to a presidential aide.

Maiduguri, the state capital of Borno state, is the birthplace of the Boko Haram insurgency, which has claimed the lives of over 20,000 people and forced 2.6 million from their homes since 2009.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies

War & Conflict Nigeria Africa

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