Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, says at least 100,000 persons have been killed in the seven years of the Boko Haram insurgency in Northeast Nigeria.
The governor added that over two million people were displaced by the violence, noting that most of those affected were women and children.
He stated this on Monday at the Murtala Muhammed Memorial Lecture in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.
“While it took South Africa’s apartheid 42 years to take 21,000 lives, it took Boko Haram only seven years to cause the murders of 100,000 lives of innocent people, he said.
Governor Shettima noted that the conflict was fueled in its early stages by official laxity and the initial willingness of the former administration to believe the terror campaign was supported by the Muslim-majority in the northeast.
He also defended the decision of his administration to close all IDPs’ camps in Borno State by May 2017, stressing that their continuous existence poses threat to the state.
“The IDP camps that we have right now are pregnant with lots of challenges.
“Early child marriages, child prostitution, drug abuse (and) gangsterism are very common in those IDP camps.
“If we allow them to pester (and) to continue existing for the next two years, we might have bigger problems at hand.
“This is why we are determined to restore the dignity of our people by rebuilding their communities and taking them back home,” the governor said.
The World Food Programme (WFP) has announced plans to scale up food assistance across Borno and Yobe states from one million persons to 1.3 million beneficiaries monthly.
Addressing a news conference in Abuja, the Executive Director of the WFP, Ertharin Cousin said that the programme aims to reach 1.8 million persons who urgently need food assistance in the northeast.
According to statistics from the World Food Programme, over 1.7 million people are displaced in northeast Nigeria, 4.4 million suffer food insecurity while 1.8 million people urgently need food assistance.
On November 7, 2016, the World Food Programme launched its special operation to support the federal government in addressing the humanitarian challenges.
The initial project duration of six months from November 1, 2016 to April 30, 2017 has now been extended to December 31, 2017.
This, according to the Executive Director of the programme will enable the programme meet its monthly target of providing food assistance to at least 1.3 million people on a monthly basis.
She also announced plans by the programme to provide cash assistance to Internally Displaced Persons to enable them purchase their own foodstuff.
The 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”.
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.
“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.
“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”.
Wife 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.
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.
Property 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.
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.
The 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.
The 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 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 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.
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.
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.
“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.
Colonel Usman said that the IED factory, vehicles and motorcycles were destroyed in line with the Rules of Engagement.