Probe Missing Chibok Safe School Funds, SERAP Tells EFCC

SERAP Drags Senate To UN Over Magu's RejectionThe Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked Nigeria’s anti-graft body to investigate allegations that the  Safe School funds for Chibok girls is missing and cannot be accounted for.

The group’s request was contained in a petition SERAP sent to the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Ibrahim Magu, requesting him to urgently begin a thorough, transparent and effective investigation into the issue.

The said fund of 500 million Naira was commissioned by former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to rebuild the Government Girls School in Chibok community in Borno State, northeast Nigeria.

SERAP, in a statement on Wednesday, urged the EFCC to “invite for questioning, and name and shame anyone suspected to be involved in the alleged diversion, including the contractors allegedly handling the project”.

In the petition dated December 27, 2016 and signed by SERAP’s senior staff attorney, Timothy Adewale, the organisation said: “The allegation that 500 million Naira has been lost to corruption has resulted in denying the girls access to education, and shows the failure of the former President Goodluck Jonathan government to live up to Nigeria’s commitments under the global Safe School Declaration”.

Chibok Community Celebrates Homecoming For 21 Rescued Girls
Some of the rescued Chibok girls

Monitor Government’s Spending

It further read: “SERAP believes that the diversion of the funds will expose the school to attacks in the future. This is a fundamental breach of the country’s obligations including guarantees of non-repetition, which contributes to prevention and deterrence of future attacks.

“SERAP urges the EFCC to work with the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to set up a mechanism to monitor government’s spending of the safe school funds in order to ensure that the funds are spent exactly to prevent and deter future attacks, and to allow the girls to go back to school as soon as possible.

EFCC
Some EFCC officials

“SERAP is seriously concerned that the school has remained in a state of disrepair since the abduction of the girls, and students have remained at home.

“SERAP is concerned that the alleged diversion of 500 million naira meant for reconstruction of Government Girls School in Chibok has directly violated the right to education of the girls, as guaranteed under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to which Nigeria is a state party.

Breach Of Anti-corruption Legislation

“The diversion has undermined the obligation of the government to take step to the maximum of its available resources to achieve the right to education. The alleged diversion also shows a serious breach of anti-corruption legislation including the EFCC Act, and Nigeria’s international obligations under the UN Convention against Corruption, and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption both of which the country has ratified.

“The EFCC should ensure full accountability and bring to justice anyone found to be responsible for corruption and diversion of safe school funds. The EFCC should also ensure that all proceeds of corruption are recovered and returned back to the treasury.

“This request is based on allegation by Governor Kashim Shettima that 500 million Naira set aside by the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan, is missing and cannot be accounted for.

Kashim Shettima, Sambisa, Borno, Military
Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima

“The funds were released for rebuilding of the Government Girls School in Chibok under the Safe School Initiative programme, which was commissioned former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala”.

Aisha Buhari Lauds Military’s Effort To End Boko Haram

Aisha Buhari, Boko Haram, MilitaryWife of Nigeria’s President, Mrs Aisha Buhari, has commended the patriotism and resilience of the military in its sustained effort to rid the country of the Boko Haram insurgents.

Mrs Buhari gave the commendation when she visited about 50 soldiers who sustained various degrees of injuries in the battle field and were receiving treatment at the 44 Army Reference Hospital in Kaduna State, northwest Nigeria.

Presenting some gift items to the wounded soldiers and officers, the first lady, who was represented by wife of the Deputy Governor of Kaduna State, Mrs Ladi Bantex, commended them for their gallantry in protecting Nigeria’s territorial integrity.

She lauded their effort in ensuring that peace was restored in the troubled northeast region and prayed for their quick recovery with an assurance that their efforts would not be in vain.

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Also, the delegation visited the Obstetrics/Gynecology wards to offer gifts to patients as well as pregnant and nursing women at the hospital.

The Medical Director of the Centre, Brigadier General Ikechukwu Okeke, who commended the gesture, revealed that the soldiers were injured during the Operation Lafiya Dole operations.

He added that some of them were responding to treatment, while those with critical cases had been flown abroad for further treatment.

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Fire Wreaks Havoc In Yobe Market

yobe-market-fireProperty worth millions of naira is said to have been destroyed by fire at the popular Makera market in Nguru town of Yobe State, northeast Nigeria.

The market associations and witnesses said the cause of the inferno was not yet established.

The Chairman of Nguru Market Association, Mr Hassan Ali, told Channels Television crew that they woke up to see the devastation as the incident occurred on Sunday night.

“The cause of the inferno can only be revealed by the Almighty as all of us closed our shops peacefully and went home that fateful day, only to see this devastation the next day.

“The good thing is that no life was lost. With God and determination as well as support of government and spirited groups or individuals, we can still succeed,” he said.

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Mr Ali appreciated the visit by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and other spirited individuals, saying it has further given them a sense of belonging.

After adequate briefing by the traders and independent assessment, the representative of NEMA in Yobe State, Mr Nafuta Mahmoud, said the message would be communicated to the head office for prompt intervention.

He disclosed that 177 shops were affected while food and cloths materials worth millions of naira were destroyed.

Mr Mahmoud also took time off to educate the people on how best to handle fire disaster in a windy and Sahel environment such as Yobe State, particularly during the harmattan season across Nigeria’s northern region.

Don’t Get Carried Away By Successes, Army Cautions Troops

Army, Troops, Boko HaramThe Nigerian Army has challenged troops fighting the Boko Haram insurgents in northeast Nigeria to remain committed despite successes being recorded at the theatre of war.

The General Officer Commanding, 3 Division of the Nigeria Army, Major General Peter Dauke, made the call at the decoration of four lieutenant colonels, who were promoted to the rank of colonel in Yobe State.

He noted that professionalism and dedication were strategic, stressing that both attributes must be observed at all times in the fight against terrorism and insurgency.

The GOC stated that even as the war was being won, security forces must remain focused and ensure that the insurgents are completely defeated.

He also tasked the promoted officers to justify the confidence the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, and the military authority have in them.

General Dauke assured troops that the military would do everything possible to ensure normalcy was restored not just in the northeast, but across Nigeria just as he urged them to work towards achieving that in the interest of all Nigerians.

Speaking on behalf of the promoted officers, Colonel Akut Aboi, thanked the entire military authority for the confidence they have in them and pledged their total commitment towards the restoration of peace across Nigeria.

The event was graced by officers and men across the various theatres of war in the state and beyond.

It was also witnessed by family members of the promoted officers as well as friends and well-wishers among others.

UN Pledges More Humanitarian Support In Northeast Nigeria

UN Pledges To Beef Up Humanitarian Support In Northeast NigeriaThe United Nations has pledged to beef up humanitarian support to the government of Nigeria to restore normalcy and security to the North East.

The Country Director of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Mr Janthomas Hiemstra, revealed his mission to journalists shortly after a courtesy call on the General Officer Commanding 7 Division of the Army in Maiduguri, Brigadier General Victor Ezugwu.

Hiemstra said: “The UNDP is going to put more presence in this area because we believe that the situation for Nigerian people have evolved to outside of the humanitarian situation.

“The military have done their work. The humanitarian are still looking at where are the people that are really suffering and have no food but the development programmes to come in also and say it’s not about food it’s about jobs, business.

“It is about agriculture, it is about people rebuilding houses, rebuilding secretariat buildings, clinics and schools, so this is the next phase that would have to happen together with humanitarian work.

“The UNDP is a specialised agencies that would work with other agencies towards recovery and development in the Northeast.

“We have reassured the General Officer Commanding that we will be beefing up our office and our activities and he appears to be pleased with that,” Hiesmstra stated.

Foreign Scouts To Witness Yobe Football Competition

Yobe Football CompetitionForeign scouts are expected to witness the 2016 Governor’s Cup football competition in Yobe State, northeast Nigeria.

The Director of Sports in the state, Abubakar Ago, who disclosed this at the draws of the competition, said it would kick off throughout the state on Monday, December 19.

The draws brought together football lovers and administrators within and outside Yobe State, including members of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) and club owners among others.

Mr Ago said that the 2016 competition has been expanded to give room for participation from private and individual teams, contrary to that of the previous years where only local government teams were allowed to participate.

He said that the aim of the competition was to uncover the hidden talents that abound in the state.

The sports director said five centers have been selected for the competition, adding that Potiskum, Gashua, Nguru and Geidam township stadia would all be occupied from December 20.

He further urged participating footballers to display their best performances as the competition would be witnessed by foreign scouts.

The opening match of the competition would be between Damaturu Local Government FC and a Damaturu metropolitan club, Ajari United.

Troops Rescue 85 Boko Haram Captives In Chukungudu

Troops, Boko Haram, Chukungudu, Army, Operation Lafiya DoleTroops of Operation Lafiya Dole have rescued 85 persons comprising of mostly women and children held hostage by the Boko Haram insurgents.

The feat was achieved during a decisive clearance operation into the remnants of the terrorists’ strategic hub town of Chukungudu on the southern fringes of the Lake Chad region.

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Troops of 7 Division Nigerian Army, led by the General Officer Commanding of the division, Brigadier General Victor Ezugwu, wiped out the terrorists’ camps in the northern parts of Borno State between Friday and Saturday.

The manoeuvring brigade, led by 3 Battalion of 22 Brigade, successfully cleared Geram, Bulankassa and Chukungudu believed to be the Boko Haram terrorists’ strongholds in the area in northeast Nigeria.

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Some of the rescued captives

A statement by Army spokesman, Colonel Sani Usman, however, said they lost a soldier during the encounter.

“The troops neutralised five Boko Haram terrorist fighters in a fierce encounter that made several of the terrorists running into the Lake Chad waters.

“The troops recovered four rounds of Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) bombs, one double barrel gun, 349 packets containing various rounds of ammunition, three magazines, a link belt of machine gun ammunition and one AK-47 rifle magazine.

“During the clearance operations, the troops made spectacular discovery of an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) making factory at Geram.

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“In the factory, they found several already primed suicide bombers’ vests (while) they also discovered a well-equipped motor vehicles and motorcycles’ workshop (as well as) spare parts warehouse at Chukungudu village,” Colonel Usman said.

The Army spokesman added that they recovered three vehicles and several newly acquired motorcycles.

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Colonel Usman said that the IED factory, vehicles and motorcycles were destroyed in line with the Rules of Engagement.

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Sexual Harassment: Shettima To Request Detectives In IDPs’ Camps

Kashim Shettima, Borno, IDPs, Sexual HarassmentBorno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, says he plans to request for the deployment of female and male undercover detectives to all Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps in the state.

Following recent report of the Human Rights Watch that some government officials sexually harass female IDPs in camps, Governor Shettima believes the detectives can spy on the culprits and bring them to book.

He made the disclosure on Tuesday during at a meeting with a delegation from the National University Commission on tour of ongoing infrastructure at the proposed Borno State University in Maduguri, in northeastern
Nigeria.

The governor plans to write to the Inspector General of Police, the Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS), the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) and the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).

He was hopeful that deployment of undercover agents would be a permanent measure in addition to the urgent need for investigation of the report by the Human Rights Watch.

IDPs
Female internally displaced persons

The agency, in its report ‎released days ago, claimed some female IDPs it interviewed said they were sexually harassed by some security officials, to the extent of getting them pregnant.

“Today, as Governor of Borno State, there is no issue that gives me headache like the unfortunate bye-products of IDP camps. Our citizens were violently sent out of their houses and communities. It is their fundamental rights to be provided alternative accommodation with their food and health catered for.

“Sadly and very sadly indeed, the IDPs’ camps have become avenues that horrible stories of sexual slavery, prostitution rings, drug peddling and other social vices are emanating from. Only yesterday (Monday) there was a report by a Human Rights group alleging incidences of sexual abuses by some Federal and State workers in some of the IDP camps. This is highly condemnable.

Wield The Big Stick

“Apart from investigating these claims and arresting culprits which is absolutely necessary, I am going to write letters to the Inspector General of Police, the Director General of the DSS, the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency and may be the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, requesting all of them to deploy female and male undercover detectives to all our camps to permanently spy on anyone involved in sexual harassment, any form of prostitution, drugs trafficking, possible child trafficking and even the allegations of diversion of food items meant for IDPs.

“I would want these detectives to report their findings to their security establishments and whoever is found wanting should be picked up without notifying me so long as there is verifiable evidence to prosecute him or her. Ladies and gentlemen, I am tired of applying the element of persuasion in handling the issues of IDPs, we need to wield the big stick.

DSS, arrested judges,

Consenting To Sexual Advances

“The problem with managing the IDP camp is that you are dealing with a population of two or more local government areas in one location and you cannot imprison them by restricting or stopping them from leaving the IDP camp in the day time.

“When a female IDP leaves the camp in the morning, you cannot be in control of where she goes and who she sees. If she leaves the camp and returns the following day, she may claim to have visited a family member and little can be done. I strongly believe there are cases of sexual harassment but some of the women may be consenting to sexual advances largely due to extreme poverty and loss of value system.

Desperate Situations

“We have to instil sanity into the IDPs’ camps and I hope we will not end up having human rights activists telling us we cannot deploy undercover detectives into IDP camps due to one form of rights violation or the other.

“Desperate situations call for desperate measures. Sexual harassment of female IDPs is a desperate situation. None of us here is beyond becoming an IDP if Allah decrees and none of us would fold arms if his or her daughter is in position to be sexually harassed, so we must act now,” the Governor said.

Shettima added that ‎the history of Borno State had been tainted by the Boko Haram insurgency and lamented that the state was tired of counting deaths and destructions.

Herdsmen, Kaduna, Gunmen

“The Borno story has been painted very badly by the Boko Haram.

“We are even tired of counting the number of deaths, number of those injured, value of private institutions and private property destroyed and the huge number of persons internally displaced,” he said.

Rotary International Partners With Rivers Govt. To Eradicate Polio

PolioA global organisation, Rotary International, says there is need for massive intercontinental collaboration to end polio in Nigeria.

The International Director of the group, Brad Howard, made the assertion when he led 35 members of the group from the Bahamas and U.S. on a courtesy call on the Rivers State Governor, Mr Nyesom Wike.

He added that their visit to the Government House in Port Harcourt was part of events to mark the Rotary International West Africa Project Fair.

Mr Howard expressed worry over the resurgence of four new cases of Polio disease in Borno State, northeast Nigeria.

He, however, noted that the disease needed a collaborative effort to ensure it was completely eradicated.

In his response, Governor Wike assured his guests that the state government would continue to provide the needed support.

Post-insurgency: Yobe Private Schools Seek Revival

education, Private schools,Proprietors of private schools in Yobe State have sought the partnership of governments at all level to re-position education in the state.

The appeal comes as part of the post-insurgency activities to revive the state after facing serious threat during the Boko Haram insurgency in northeast Nigeria.

Chairman of the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools in Yobe State, Mr John Onyeama, made the call in a chat with Channels Television.

He was speaking on Thursday after a forum of schools represented by pupils of nursery and primary schools as well as secondary school students organised by the association in Damaturu, the state’s capital.

The forum is aimed at bringing the pupils and students together with a view to inculcating the usual academic interactions among school age children.

Mr Onyeama observed with admiration, the return of peace across the state and the northeast region and stated that the association would work assiduously towards revamping the education sector.

He recalled that four public schools were attacked with at least 100 lives lost, while eight other private schools in the state were burnt by the Boko Haram insurgents.

The proprietor pointed out that insurgency had caused major setback for educational development in Yobe State and the region.

In his response, the Director of Schools at the State Primary Education Board, Mr Bukar Dapchi, commended the roles of private schools in the development of education in the state.

He said that modern education is above the scope of government and called on private bodies and other stakeholders to compliment the efforts of government in revamping the sector.