Kidnapped US Aid Worker Alive, Says Niger President

 

Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou has said a US aid worker kidnapped in 2016 is alive and in good health and the government is still working for his release.

Jeffery Woodke was seized at gunpoint on October 14, 2016 from his home in Abalak in the Tahoua region of Niger, about 350 kilometres (220 miles) from capital Niamey.

His kidnappers have still not been identified, but Niamey suspects the al-Qaeda-allied Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) took him and is holding him in Mali.

“From the information we have, he is alive and he is good health,” Issoufou told American ABC News channel in an interview conducted in September during the UN General Assembly in New York and broadcast on Wednesday.

“We will continue in any case to do everything to bring about the conditions for his release.”

According to local officials, two armed men in turbans stormed in and grabbed Woodke, killing his bodyguard and a member of the national guard.

The aid worker — who speaks the local language Tamasheq fluently as well as Fula and Arabic — had run the aid group JEMET since 1992, helping the local Tuareg community.

Jihadists, including those of the Islamic State, have a presence in southwestern Niger near the border with Mali — where they have carried out bombings, shootings and kidnappings.

In 2017, four US soldiers and at least four Nigerien troops were killed in the area in an ambush believed to have been carried out by a regional affiliate of the Islamic State.

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Nigerien President’s Visit To Buhari Rescheduled

The visit of Niger Republic’s President, Mahamadou Issoufou, to President Muhammadu Buhari scheduled for Friday, May 5, 2017, has been put forward.

A statement from the President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity Femi Adesina, said the rescheduling was at the instance of President Issoufou, who had another domestic engagement.

Before the last-minute postponement, arrangements had been concluded for President Buhari to receive his Nigerien counterpart and his delegation at the Presidential Villa, and attend the Jumaat prayers together.

A new date for the visit is to be announced in due course.

Nigeria’s Defence Chief Visits Niger, Cameroun To Deepen Military Ties

CDS Olonisakin Defence ChiefNigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin, has sought ways of strengthening the existing bi-lateral cooperation between Nigeria, Niger Republic and Republic of Cameroun.

The Defence Chief made several requests during official trips to both countries.

In Niger Republic, General Olonisakin met with the President of the country, Mahamadou Issoufou and the Chief of Defence Staff, General Seyni Garba and discussions on issues that concern the two countries were highlighted.

General Olonisakin thanked the Niger President for the role his country was playing in counter-terrorism operations in Lake Chad Basin and the country’s role in the formation of Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF).

Nigeria’s CDS expressed delight that Boko Haram had been significantly decimated, a feat, he stressed, called for stronger ties between Nigeria and its neighbours to ensure that no safe haven was provided for the retreating Boko Haram terrorists in the sub-region.

A statement by the Acting Director Defence Information, Brigadier General Rabe Abubakar, said General Olonisakin solicited for improved intelligence gathering and sharing, air asset operations and counter-Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) operations within the Lake Chad Basin countries and across ECOWAS States.

While in Cameroun, Nigeria’s CDS was received by the Camerounian Honourable Minister of Defence, Edgard Allain Mebe Ngo’o and the country’s Chief of Defence Staff, General Rene-Claude Meka where similar discussions, as in Niger Republic, were held.

One of the highlights of the discussion in Cameroun, however, was in the area of stronger cooperation in maritime environment, especially in the Gulf of Guinea, to tackle the incessant case of bunkering, oil theft and piracy. General Olonisakin has since returned to Nigeria.

Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, had on Thursday in Abuja said a Multinational Task Force would soon be established to patrol the waters of the Gulf of Guinea.

At a meeting with the French Minister of Defence, Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian, President Buhari said that patrols by the task force would augment and boost ongoing efforts to improve security in the Gulf, and curb crude oil theft and piracy.

Niger Republic: Issoufou Tightens Grip After Polls

Niger RepublicPresident Mahamadou Issoufou has reinforced his control over Niger Republic in the wake of a disputed election.

This comes a day after the incumbent president named loyalists to key cabinet positions while making no concessions to the opposition.

In line with what has been the practice, the government resigned earlier this month following his re-election in the March polls boycotted by the opposition, but President Issoufou immediately reappointed Prime Minister Brigi Raffini.

Mohamed Bazoum, head of the president’s Nigerian Party for Democracy and Socialism, was named Minister of the Interior.

Hassoumi Massaoudou, who previously served as Interior Minister, will take over the defence portfolio, an important supporting role for Issoufou, who is a crucial ally of the West in the fight against Islamist militants in the region.

Issoufou won a second five-year term with 92.5% of the vote in the March 20 run-off election.

His opponent, opposition leader Hama Amadou, had been in jail since November on charges related to baby-trafficking and was therefore unable to campaign, and the opposition called for a boycott of the polls.

Amadou, who claims innocence, insists the charges were part of a strategy to sideline him politically.

He was granted provisional release over a week after the election.

Buhari Congratulates President Issoufou Of Niger On His Re-Election

Mahamadou Issoufou President Niger Republic
President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger Republic

Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, has congratulated President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger Republic on his recent re-election.

A statement by Mr Femi Adesina, a spokesman for President Buhari, said the President extended his best wishes to President Issoufou and the people of Niger Republic after the peaceful elections.

“It bodes well for the progress of the country,” he said.

President Buhari also acknowledged an invitation to attend President Issoufou’s swearing-in for a new term in office, but regretted that he would be unable to attend due to his ongoing participation in the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington DC.

Wishing President Issoufou a successful new term in office, President Buhari expressed the hope that peace and progress would continue to prevail in Nigeria and Niger Republic.

JTF Set To Release Boko Haram Suspects From Detention

Consequent upon the directive of the President, the Defence Headquarters is to release from detention a number of persons being held in connection with terrorist activities in Nigeria.

The defence spokesman, Brigadier-General Chris Olukolade

The move, according to the defence spokesman, Brigadier-General Chris Olukolade, is in furtherance of the Federal Government’s position regarding the requests by the Presidential Committee on Dialogue and Reconciliation.

He said the measure which is in line with President Goodluck Jonathan’s magnanimity to enhance peace efforts in the country, will result in freedom for suspects including all women in custody.

The army spokesman said the details of the directives and those to benefit from this gesture have been communicated to field units and the Joint Task Force.

He said the beneficiaries will be released to the state governors who will be involved in further rehabilitation before these suspects are released to their respective community leaders and relatives.