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?

World

Ludovica Iaccino,International Business Times 10 hours ago

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

Photo

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.

Continue reading the main story

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.

Photo

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.

Photo

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

Governor El-Rufai sends an explosive memo to President Buhari

Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna state has sent a powerful memo to President Muhammadu Buhari arguing that the All Progressives Congress (APC) has made the situation in Nigeria worse than it met it by failing to be proactive in taking key decisions in a timely manner.

El-Rufai sends an explosive memo to President Buhari

El-Rufai sends an explosive 30-page memo to President Muhammadu Buhari

According to Sahara Reporters the governor in a 30-page memo sent in September 2016, said “in very blunt terms, Mr. President, our APC administration has not only failed to manage expectations of a populace that expected overnight ‘change’ but has failed to deliver even mundane matters of governance outside of our successes in fighting BH insurgency and corruption.”

Among many others, the governor also noted that “The Chief of Staff is totally clueless about the APC and its internal politics at best as he was neither part of its formation nor a participant in the primaries, campaign, and elections.”

 See snapshots of the memo below:
El-Rufai sends an explosive memo to President Buhari
El-Rufai sends an explosive memo to President Buhari
El-Rufai sends an explosive memo to President Buhari
El-Rufai sends an explosive memo to President Buhari
El-Rufai sends an explosive memo to President Buhari
El-Rufai sends an explosive memo to President Buhari
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