The University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH) has spent nearly 150 million Naira to provide free healthcare services to victims of violence in the northeast, an official of the hospital said on Wednesday.
The Medical Director of the UMTH Professor Abdulrahman Tahir during the commissioning of the upgraded complex buildings in the hospital, told reporters that the amount was spent on provision of optimal health services to victims of the over seven years Boko Haram insurgency.
Professor Tahir further explained that the hospital had accorded priority attention to the health of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) affected by violence.
Patients Of Boko Haram Attack
Over two million persons were displaced in the region as a result of the activities of members of the terrorist group and over 75,000 children, pregnant and nursing mothers are at risk of death due to severe malnutrition in the region.
Giving record of what the university hospital had done so far, he said: “Our Resident doctors have also remained resilient and committed to giving their best for the IDPs. Even while the national Association embarked on strike, they refused to join them in Borno”.
According to him, many staff of the hospital have lost their lives in the last four years while many doctors have relocated to other areas in fear of being killed.
“Almost all the patients of Boko Haram attacks were brought to this hospital and that had led to the overstretching of our facilities,” he stated.
The Medical Director of the UMTH, however, noted that interventions had come from NEMA.
“In line with this effort, we wrote to NEMA and they had supported us with 30 million Naira to continue with our support. Borno government also gave us 10 million Naira,” Tahir said, listing supports that the hospital has received.
Counter-insurgency operations are ongoing in the notorious Sambisa Forest in northeast Nigeria, to clear remaining Boko Haram terrorists in the area, the Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin, said on Sunday.
He says the army is not relenting in its counter-insurgency war.
General Olonisakin gave the assurance during an operational visit to the Theatre Command and headquarters of the Operation Lafiya Dole in Maiduguri, Borno State.
The Chief of Defence Staff told journalists in Maiduguri that even though the “Operation Safe Corridor” initiative was open for repentant insurgents to surrender, it would not in any way suspend operations.
“There’s always a room for them to surrender. We put up Operation Safe Corridor initiative to have them surrender. That is the corridor for them to surrender and that corridor is always open.
“However, we would not wait until they surrender. That is why the “Operation Crack Down” now leading to rescue finale is in place to ensure that we take over Sambisa, clear the Boko Haram terrorists in those places and make the place safe for development,” the Defence Chief stated.
During the visit, he inspected vehicles reconfigured by military technicians in the seven Division to give a boost to the counter insurgency operations.
Gun trucks, Operational vehicles and War battle tanks were some the vehicles remodelled by the transport battalion and now set for use.
Expressing delight with the military equipment, he said: “I commend the creative efforts of our troops because most of this vehicles have been re-roled. They were not manufactured for what they are doing but they have re-roled them for operational use.
“I want to commend their efforts and also the initiative of the Chief of Air Staff to encourage this troops to do this in the prosecution of this operation.
“These vehicles are quite important and necessary to get some of them out there. They are quite expensive but the ones here that have been reconfigured to do the same which would have been procured at a very expensive rate is really a commendable effort,” he added.
More efforts to flush out the terrorists are needed in the northeast, something a cleric said should be considered paramount to ensure that Internally Displaced Persons returning to their communities do not face renewed attacks.
A former military president in Nigeria, General Ibrahim Babangida, has rejoiced with the families, people of Nigeria and indeed Nigerian government over the release of 21 of the abducted Chibok Girls.
In a statement through Mahmud Abdullahi, the Former Military President popularly known as IBB, said it was a thing of joy for the girls to have been reunited with their families after being taken away in such painfully and abrupt manner for over two and half years.
He noted that the release of the 21 girls signalled a hope, after such moments of despair that the abduction of over 200 Schools girls brought to their families, the entire country and the global community.
General Babangida stated that it was gratifying to see the release of 21 of the girls, after delicate negotiations with the Boko Haram saying that “it is an indication that President Muhammadu Buhari’s government is committed to ensuring safe release of the girls”.
He further applauded the effort of President Buhari and the resilience showed thus far on the release of abducted Chibok school girls despite the general lethargy and dampening spirit caused by the mode of operation of the deadly group.
He also, urged the, Federal Government, security agents and other partners to hasten negotiations to free the remaining girls and rehabilitate them from psychological trauma they might have encountered in the last two and half years.
The former military President reaffirmed his belief in the professional capability of the Nigerian Armed Forces and other security agencies in ensuring that they put an end to the activities of the Boko Haram sect in the northeast completely.
He maintained that the Nigerian Armed Forces had the training and the professional background to end all forms of security threat to the nation such as kidnappings, armed robbery, cattle rustling, farmers-herders clashes and other forms of vandalism.
The former Nigerian leader also called on all Nigerians to offer all forms of assistance to the released Chibok girls in order to overcome the mental, physical and psychological trauma they have gone through over the past two and half.
“We can confirm that 21 of the girls were released, safely, to us by 5.30 this Thursday morning and they were flown to Kaduna from the location of their release.
“This is the most glaring manifestation to date of the unwavering commitment of Mr President to secure the safe release of the girls and reunite them with their families.
“It is also a result of the round-the-clock efforts by the Administration to put a closure to the sad issue of the kidnap of the girls,” he stated.
‘Not A Swap’
After they were released there were speculations that their release was secured through a swap deal, but the Minister of Information also dismissed the claims.
He said that their release was based on confidence and not a swap arrangement with the terrorists group.
“This is not a swap. This was a release which was effected because over time, we succeeded in confidence building.
“This particular release is significant because it’s just a first step in what we believe will lead to the eventual release of all our girls in custody. It is significant also because we have been able to establish more than ever before a confidence in both the leadership of Boko Haram and Nigerians.
“I am not aware of any monetary transaction,” he said.
In fulfilment of a promise to rehabilitate the girls, after the celebration on Sunday, the girls were, however, not handed over to their parents. They are to remain with the government for some time for further medical assistance and counselling.
Two out of the three persons declared wanted by the Nigerian Army on Sunday in connection with the latest Boko Haram video on the abducted Chibok girls have turned themselves in.
The acting spokesman for the Nigerian Army, Colonel Sani Usman, told Channels Television on Monday that while Ahmed Bolori, who is based in Maiduguri, reported at the army base in Maiduguri, Aisha Wakil reported at the Defence Headquarters in Abuja.
Colonel Usman, however, said that the two were released after questioning.
He had in an earlier statement said that the suspects, Bolori and Wakil and the third person, Ahmed Salkida, had information on the conditions and the exact location of the over 200 abducted girls.
They were abducted on April 14, 2014 from their school’s dormitory in Chibok, while they were preparing for their Secondary School Certificate examinations.
Meanwhile, the third wanted person, Salkida and Wakil had expressed shock at the decision of the army to declare them wanted.
In his reaction to the declaration by the army, Mr Salkida, who is not in Nigeria at the moment, said that he was prepared to return to Nigeria and had indeed kick started the process to honour the invitation.
He said that his return home would be quickened if the government could fund his trip.
Salkida added that the army was declaring him wanted for simply carrying out his professional duties as a journalist, stressing that he does most of his work with ‘total allegiance and sacrifice to the Federal Republic of Nigeria’.
On her part, Mrs Wakil insisted that she had been fighting for peace long before the Chibok girls were kidnapped and was well known to the security operatives.
She wondered why she was being declared missing since she did not have a shady character.
”I have had meetings with (the) Chief of Army Staff and his people.
“I told them the way forward, to allow me come with some commanders of Boko Haram and discuss with them and present the release of CBGS.
“But they chose to do things their own ways only and never gave considerations to any of my suggestions,” she said in a statement.
One hundred and fifty women and youths in Maiduguri, Borno State, have been picked to receive vocational training and skills.
The training is sponsored by the Nigerian Air Force Wives Association as part of their self-reliance and poverty alleviation programme.
The beneficiaries consist of wives of Air Force personnel in the counter-insurgency war, those widowed by the war as well as selected youths from the host community.
The prolonged insurgency problem in northeast Nigeria has affected the economy of families with many living in abject poverty.
With the gradual return of peace to the region, victims are now confronted with poverty.
One of the beneficiaries, Rakiya Usman, a widow and a mother of nine said life had not been easy since her husband was killed by a suicide bomber in a mosque last September.
Wives of serving Air Force personnel were also included in the training to encourage self-reliance and help augment their husband’s resources.
Twenty three-year old Mustapha Ibrahim has been idle at home since completion of a diploma programme in the Ramat Polytechnic Maiduguri.
He was picked from the host community around the Air Force Base to gain skills for financial independence.
Some of the skills being learnt include tailoring and fashion designing, pastries and baking, soap making and aluminium work among other things.
One of the resource persons, Almustapha Yandalu, said there was a plan to secure soft loans from entrepreneurship friendly micro-finance banks while the organisers are expected to present participants with starter packages.
The skill acquisition training is expected to last 10 weeks and beneficiaries would be given starter packs to establish small scale businesses.
At least four suspected insurgents have been killed and 54 persons rescued when troops and some vigilantes carried out a terrorists’ clearance operation along Bita-Madube Ciki-Njubul.
A statement by a spokesman for the Army, Sani Usman, said troops of 114 Task Force Battalion, 28 Task Force Brigade, in conjunction with some vigilantes carried out the operation.
“During the advance, two soldiers unfortunately stepped on a buried Improvised Explosive Device (IED) that seriously injured one of the soldiers.
“Nevertheless, the troops continued the advance and had contact with the terrorists and cleared them out of Madube Cikin, killing four insurgents, destroying two vehicles and two motorcycles belonging to the terrorists,” the statement read.
Mr Usman said that the troops also recovered two cylinders, one AK-47 rifle, three boxes of 7.62mm (Special) ammunition, two bicycles and bags of grains.
The rescued persons were held hostage by suspected members of Boko Haram.
They are being screened while the wounded soldiers have since been evacuated for proper medical care.
Counter-terrorism operations are ongoing in Nigeria’s northeast to end the over six years insurgency in the region that has displaced over two million persons.
Nigeria’s former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, has urged the military to intensify mop up operations in liberated villages in northeast Nigeria, as displaced persons prepare to return home.
The former president, who is in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, on a two-day familiarisation visit in the University of Maiduguri, said although the war against insurgents was far from over, there was evidence that the Nigerian Army was winning.
“Not Out Of The Woods Yet”
Obasanjo’s last visit to Maiduguri was in September 2011 at the heat of the six year old insurgency.
He believes that security in the troubled town has greatly improved compared to the situation during his last visit.
“We are not out of the woods yet but it will appear we can see the light beyond the tunnel.
“There is no doubt that with the combined efforts of the local, state, federal and the community level that our security forces are on ascendency over the forces of destruction.” Obasanjo told the State Governor, Kashim Shettima, in a meeting held at the Government House.
The octogenarian is positive that “at this rate all Internally Displaced Persons should have vacated makeshift camps and return to their towns by December this year”.
Obasanjo, a retired military general, said he had been talking to Nigeria’s president, Muhammad Buhari, on the most effective approach to the insurgency problem and humanitarian issues surrounding it.
Obasanjo said he was saddened by the alarming number of Widows and orphans caused by insurgency, maintaining that they must be empowered and given life again, as they prepare to return home.
Governor Kashim Shettima agreed with the former President on the improved security situation in the state and the need to support victims of insurgency, as the state continues to count its enormous losses.
According to the Governor, at least one million private homes, 512 primary schools, 38 secondary schools, 201 healthcare centres, 1630 water sources and 665 municipal buildings were among destruction carried out by Boko Haram terrorists.
This is in addition to other monumental losses that had forced the government to spend state funds on compensation to victims to dissuade them from joining Boko Haram.
Shettima is hopeful that the end of Boko Haram is near while calling for Federal Government’s assistance in the ongoing rebuilding project the state government is undertaking.
Within the last 48 hours, the troops were able to clear Boko Haram camps, killed several of the terrorists, recovered vehicles, weapons, equipment and also rescued some persons.
The troops of 151 Task Force Battalion also cleared terrorists hideouts in Izza and eight surrounding other villages while troops of 121 Task Force Battalion deployed at Pulka came under attack from suspected Boko Haram terrorists fanning out of Sambisa forest to escape sustained aerial bombardment by the Nigerian Air Force pilots.
The troops successfully repelled the attack, killing 17 suspected Boko Haram terrorists.
They also recovered 12 AK-47 rifles, six AK-47 rifle magazines, one General Purpose Machine Gun, one Browning Machine Gun, one Toyota Hilux vehicle, a 60mm mortar tube, six pieces of 60mm mortar bombs, one belt of 12.5mm ammunition and nine belts of 12.7mm (NATO) ammunition.
Others were three hand grenades and seven boxes of .50mm ammunition.
Troops of 114 Task Force Battalion while on patrol along Bitta-Pridang-Manawashe axis also rescued 95 persons suspected to have escaped from Madube and Shuwari general area.
The rescued persons are being screened and profiled.
Also, troops of 115 Task Force Battalion accompanied by some members of the vigilante group in their area also conducted patrol to Dogwaba, Dutse, Mayolarde, Musa A, B and C villages without any contact with terrorists. They have, however, continued to dominate the area and make it secure.
Heavily armed members of the Boko Haram terrorist group attacked a military checkpoint in Gombe on Saturday, forcing residents and soldiers to flee the area.
Fleeing residents and security sources told reporters that explosions and gunfire were heard after the fighters overwhelmed the checkpoint at the edge of the city, which has been bombed before but has never had the insurgents attempt to take it over.
Reuters quoted a witness, Abdul Hassan, as saying that soldiers ran away after the checkpoint was overwhelmed. The militants then burned down a police station on the outskirts of town, he said.
“I crossed a river and ran into the hills,” he said. “I’m still there and I can hear the fighting.”
Other residents have been forced to stay indoors, with another witness, Hussaina Maji, saying she was unable to leave her house for fear of being caught in crossfire.
“There are gun shot sounds everywhere and heavy artillery fire. People are running down the streets from the area which under attack, The whole town is in a state of panic,” resident Godfret Obeate told Reuters by telephone.
Security authorities have not confirmed the attack and the number of casualties is unknown.
The Boko Haram sect has continued to attack communities in the north-east region of Nigeria, as it pushes for an Islamic state, posing a grave security threat to Africa’s biggest economy and top oil producer.
Thousands have been killed while hundreds have been kidnapped, with the group increasing its threats in neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger.
The countries have formed a Multinational Joint Force to battle the insurgents.
Nigeria’s general elections was last week postponed, with the electoral body citing security operative’s advice and request for a shift to enable them secure towns in the north-east before the elections.
The military had told the Independent National electoral Commission that it could not guarantee the safety of lives and property in the region during elections, demanding for six weeks to degrade the activities of the terrorist group.
On Thursday, the West African Allied Forces led by the Nigerian military, supported by Chad, Niger and Cameroon, stormed the Sambisa Forest in Borno State, killing a good number of insurgents.
A top military source told Channels Television that the air forces bombarded the insurgents, before ground forces moved in and incapacitated the insurgents.
Already the insurgents have been pushed out of Gamboru which lies on the Nigerian border with Cameroon.
Boko Haram attacked a village in Chad on Friday, the first known lethal attack in that country by the sect, which killed several people including a local chief according to residents and security forces.
Experts at the Peace Game Summit held in the US have discussed the terrorism in Nigeria and the economic impact and consequences of the challenge to neighbouring countries and the world as a whole.
Although citizens of Nigeria are directly at the receiving end of the on-going acts of terror in the north-east, the discussion at the summit showed that it had become an issue of concern to the world.
At the meeting, experts stressed the need for more efforts to be put in the fight against the terrorist group, Boko Haram that had carried out series of attacks on villages, towns, mosques, churches, schools and public places.
A visiting scholar at the summit, Mohammed Barkindo, demanded for more support from the American government.
He stressed the need for more assistant for the immediate support for the communities in the north-east where many had been displaced.
“We expected them to also devote equal or more time immediate measures that need to be taken particularly on the security side, strengthening our military and security in order to tackle the insurgents,” he said.
While these demands are made, the Nigerian government had few weeks ago ended a military training agreement with the US, a decision suspected to have been triggered by the refusal of the American government to sell military arms to the Nigerian government.