Borno Governor Grants Amnesty To 22 Prisoners At Independence

Kashim Shettima.The Borno state Governor, Kashim Shettima, on Wednesday, granted prerogative of mercy to 22 prison inmates currently serving various prison terms at the Maiduguri Maximum Security Prison to commemorate Nigeria’s 54th Independence anniversary.

Addressing the inmates in Maiduguri, the state capital, Governor Shettima implored them to cooperate with each other; irrespective of their religious and ethnic backgrounds while undergoing their various jail terms.

“I am here today with you to celebrate Nigeria’s 54th Independence Anniversary, so that each one of you here can feel a sense of belonging to this country, Nigeria. You should also take advantage of the training reform programmes, while you serve your various jail terms. In exercising my powers under Section 212 (1) of the 1999 Constitution, 22 of you have been granted amnesty to commemorate this country’s 54th independence anniversary which is marked today in Borno State,” the Governor said.

Apart from the amnesty, the governor also made a cash donation of 50,000 Naira each to the 22 inmates; along with 20 yards of cloths as well as two bulls, 10 rams, bags of rice and beans for the feeding of the inmates.

The Comptroller of Prisons in the state, Mr Inuwa Garba, while briefing the governor on the state of prisons across the state, said that the increasing cases of psychiatric among inmates, is becoming worrisome among both prison staff as well as inmates.

He disclosed that about 28 of the 411 male inmates are mentally ill, adding that some of affected inmates often cause panic among others at night.

Mr Garba lamented that the prison which has a capacity of 1, 600 inmates is however; underutilised; as it currently accommodates only 411 males and seven female inmates.

“Out of this number, 33 were condemned to death, 42 for life imprisonment, 107 were convicted on capital charges while others on minor charges,” Mr Inuwa Garba said.

He added that, the prison was able to reform many of the inmates who had been trained in various fields such as; carpentry, sewing and games among others. Some were also enrolled in the Adult Education programme, so as to rehabilitate and integrate them back into the society.

The Prison Comptroller then called on the state government to complete the abandoned work on some of the staff quarters which had reached roofing stage to enable the command accommodate their displaced staff from Gwoza and Bama council areas who were displaced as a result of the Insurgency.

Chibok Girls: Analyst Urges Authorities To Display Pictures Of The Girls

tunde gbadamosiA Public Affairs Analyst, Babatunde Gbadamosi, has urged the authorities handling the rescue activities to put up the pictures of the over 200 abducted Chibok girls on social media (twitter,blackberry, facebook) and everywhere across the nation.

He said that having the picture everywhere would help Nigerians identify the girls if the members  of the Boko Haram sect decides to split the girls. “The pictures will help provide information on the abducted girls,” he said.

Speaking on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr Gbadamosi criticised the alleged rumours that the girls’ abduction was a scam. He stated that the governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima went to London searching for “Borehole Engineers” that would help in the search of the girls.

“Internal Sabotage”

Mr Gbadamosi called on Nigerians to support the security operatives in the rescue mission, pointing out that the operatives are at risk of losing their  lives while searching for the girls.

On the reports that some generals are allegedly selling weapons to Boko Haram, he condemned the act and further pointed out that equipment and information about troops were also sold to the insurgents, calling it an “internal sabotage”.

He also stressed the need for the security agents to be adequately provided for with mechanisms needed in fighting the insurgency.

Stressing the need for the insurgency to be tackled with intensified effort, he stressed that “certain kind of people need to be excluded from combat zones, command positions and security sensitive positions” in order for the security agents to tackle the insurgents effectively.

He also criticised those that are not being sincere about the abduction. “Different sides to the story make it look untrue which is why some people believe its a scam,” he said.

Jonathan Commends Defence HQ, NEMA Over Swift Response In Baga Town

President Goodluck Jonathan has commended the Military High Command, the National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA) and the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development for their swift response to his order for immediate action to investigate the incident in Baga, Borno state, assist and rehabilitate the victims, and make all necessary findings available to the government.

The commendation was contained in a statement by the Special Adviser to the president on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati.

President Jonathan gave the commendation after receiving preliminary reports of the investigations carried out by the Military High Command and NEMA into the incident.

President Jonathan also welcomed the plan by the National Human Rights Commission to carry out independent investigations.

Thanking the Military High Command and NEMA for the reports, President Jonathan said that investigations must continue, and assured them of his fullest support.

He further reiterated his earlier position that where any kind of misconduct is established, the Federal Government will not hesitate in ensuring that due sanctions are enforced and that justice is done.

The President said that what happened in Baga, was most regrettable and unfortunate. He reaffirmed his full commitment to doing all within the powers of the Federal Government to speedily end the intolerable threats to national security which have necessitated such confrontations.

President Jonathan will continue to work with the Borno state Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima whom he conferred with last week, to ensure that the people of Baga receive every possible relief and support to facilitate their speedy rehabilitation.

In its preliminary report to the President, the Defence Headquarters stated as follows:

(a)        That the military team involved in the confrontation with Boko Haram elements was the Multinational Joint Task Force. The MNJTF’s initial mandate was to conduct military operations in the Lake Chad Region and to facilitate free movement of the member states of the Lake Chad Basin Commission across their common border.  The mandate was expanded in April 2012 to include the fight against terrorists. The Task Force’s activities are therefore legal and needs to be sustained.

(b)          That whereas media reports averred that the incident of the alleged confrontation between the MNJTF and the Boko Haram Terrorists occurred on April 19, 2013; the incident actually occurred on Tuesday, April 16.

(c)           On April 17, MNJTF troops carried out mop up operations at the scene of the attack and recovered the following items abandoned by the fleeing Boko Haram terrorists: rocket-propelled grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenade bombs, AK 47 rifles, assorted ammunition, several improvised explosive devices and damaged Land Cruiser jeeps.

(d)          That whereas it was  alleged that 185 people were killed by the soldiers of the MNJTF in Baga, Borno state; the assessment team received a briefing from the Commander of the MNJTF on April 24, 2013, during which he stated that 30 terrorists were killed in action. However, six bodies were recovered in Lake Chad about 3 km away from the action spot.

(e)           Furthermore, some locals were asked if they could take the assessment team to the mass graves where 185 people were allegedly buried, but the people denied knowledge of such graves. The Chairman of Kukawa LGA was approached on the same issue, he also did not know of such graves.

(f)             The Chairman had earlier informed the team that Muslims do not bury more than one body in a grave.

(g)           The media also announced that about 3, 000 houses were burnt. However on the spot assessment revealed that though some houses were burnt, but they were certainly not up to the number quoted. It is pertinent to note that the houses in question are mostly thatched roof houses that could easily catch fire. It is on record that the terrorists employ the tactics of arson wherever they attack.

(h)          There was also the allegation that aid workers were denied access to Baga. This is incorrect as the Red Cross and NEMA officials were already in the town before the Defence Headquarters team arrived. The officials of the two organizations interviewed by the team confirmed that no one prevented them from moving into Baga.

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), in response to the President’s directive, sent a team to Baga to pave way for immediate humanitarian relief.

It reported as follows:

(a)            That the agency identified and set up an Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp in Baga where 642 persons were registered as at April 25, 2013. More people who had earlier fled the community are returning due to improved security and the establishment of various IDPs by the Agency.

(b)            To provide immediate succor to the affected persons, the agency distributed relief materials.

(c)             That the 185 deaths being speculated in the media cannot be substantiated.

(d)            The NEMA team visited the two graveyards in the town, and could only identify in both places, a total of 32 fresh graves.

(e)             That a number of buildings and business premises were destroyed in the affected area, but the total number of houses in the town is far less than 1,000.

(f)             That there is a lot of misinformation being peddled about the situation in Baga.


FG To Fix Structures Damaged By Boko Haram

President Goodluck Jonathan has confirmed his administration’s willingness to partner with state governments across the country to reconstruct structures destroyed by the fundamentalist sect, Boko Haram.

Addressing members of the Borno Elders Forum at a town hall meeting in Maiduguri as part of his engagements in Borno State, the President said schools, places of worship, and markets, among other structures damaged as a result of the attacks by the group will be reconstructed by the Federal Government.

He explained that this will be done in collaboration with the states where such have taken place.

The President said the destruction has crippled so many academic activities in most schools and expressed sadness over the future of the children in such schools.

He also disclosed that skill acquisition centres will be given the needed priority so that the youths can be trained in various trades, stressing that empowering the youth will surely reduce restiveness.

President Jonathan equally revealed that his administration will continue to intervene with subsidised agricultural policies, all with the aim of ensuring food sufficiency across the country.

On his part, the Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, maintained that the activities of the insurgent had crippled business activities in the state and its environs, and called on the federal government to assist the state to tackle the problem.

He added, however, that despite the activities of the hoodlums, his administration had impacted positively in the area of roads construction, water supply, and agriculture, among others.

FG To Explore Boko Haram Ceasefire Option- Sambo

The Federal Government  has confirmed that it will consider the ceasefire option offered by the  Islamic militant group Boko Haram.

This was the position of by Vice President  Namadi Sambo  when he called on the Shehu of Borno, His Royal Highness Alhaji Abubakar Ibn Umar Garba El-Kanemi during a one day official visit to Borno state.

Arch Namadi Sambo said President Goodluck Jonathan has been opened to peace process that will end the insurgency stressing that wars fought are usually resolved on a round table and appreciates the offer.

He said over the years efforts to develop the state and the north-east sub region has been thwarted by the continuous restiveness which has affected not just the zone but the entire country.

The vice president gave the assurance that the federal government will continue to work assiduously towards the restoration of the peace and development in the state.

On the exploration of oil in the Chad Basin, Sambo added that $75 million was expended in the oil and gas exploration in the Lake Chad Basin in the previous fiscal year pointing out that in 2013, $100 million has been appropriated and assured that before the end of 2014, drilling would have commenced in the state.

Speaking earlier the Shehu of Borno called on the federal government to utilize the ceasefire option offered by the boko haram insurgents as a peace process and calls for continuous surveillance around the Niger, Chad and Cameroon borders so as to curtail entrance by the sect members.

30 civilians killed in Maiduguri military raid

The Nigerian Army has allegedly killed 30 civilians during raids in Maiduguri to comb out members of the radical Islamist sect, Boko Haram, witnesses and hospital officials told news agency on Friday.

Three witnesses told Reuters that soldiers from the Joint Task Force (JTF) raided several neighbourhoods in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital late on Thursday and arrested or shot dead dozens of young men.

“More than 30 bodies were brought in by the JTF yesterday and most of them were young men,” a nurse at one Maiduguri hospital Yagana Bukar told Reuters.

The military spokesman in Maiduguri did not respond to requests for comment.

“Yesterday around the Gamboru area, soldiers raided places with an insider who pointed to suspected terrorists and they just killed some of them on the spot and others were taken away,” a civil servant who saw the attacks told Reuters, asking not to be named. He said he saw more than 40 dead bodies.

Amnesty International in a report released earlier on Thursday, accused the JTF of committing human rights abuses in its crackdown against Boko Haram that were fueling the insurgency.

The report said the JTF had carried out executions in the streets and tortured people without bringing any charges against them. Nigerian police said they would investigate the matter.

Meanwhile, Boko Haram had also on Thursday proposed to dialogue with the federal government and is planning a ceasefire before the commencement of the discussion.



JTF kills 24 Boko Haram suspects in Maiduguri

The Joint Task Force (JTF) on Operation Restore Order (ORO) said on Tuesday that it shot dead 24 suspected terrorists after repelling Monday night’s multiple attacks in Maiduguri.

A statement made available to news men in Maiduguri by the JTF spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Sagir Musa reveals that the attacks were carried out at different JTF locations of Zanari, Gwange General and Lagos Street of the metropolis.

The statement says the hoodlums used civilian residents to lunch attacks with Rocket Propelled Grenades, Improvised Explosive Devises and gun fire.

Sagir Musa says all the attacks were repelled as one soldier was wounded in the attack without any civilian casualty.

Items recovered according to the statement include, One General Purpose Machine Gun, seven AK47, One FNC Rifle, Two Pistols, four RPG Chargers. One RPG Tube, 24 assorted empty magazines, 950 assorted ammunitions, large quantity of assorted IED Materials and several Bows and Arrows.

The statement warned Maiduguri residents to desist from allowing their residences to be used as launching pads for attack on troops and innocent civilians.

FG launches task force to eradicate polio in Borno

The federal government has assured residents of Borno state that it is committed to maintaining peace and well-being of the entire society.

At the launch of the national polio free torch campaign in the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, the Minister of state for health, Dr. Muhammad Pate said the inauguration of the presidential taskforce on polio eradication is a sign that President Goodluck Jonathan is committed to reducing the disease before the end of his mandate in 2015 as pledged.

According to the minister who doubles as the chairman of the taskforce, the team is mandated by the president to place the eradication of polio in the country on fast track as well as ensure an upshot of the nation’s health indices particularly on the primary health care system.

The state governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima expressed optimism that polio would be completely wiped out of the country in the nearest future.

The governor donated a Toyota Hiace bus to the association of polio victims in the state and a sum of N1 million to a local government immunization officer, Hajiya Ramatu Sani for her personal resources to keep the campaign going.