The United Nations High Commission for Refugees has said that there are about 218,000 Nigeria refugees in Chad, Cameroon and Niger Republic.
Addressing a news conference in Abuja on Wednesday, the UNHCR country representative, Mr Anthonio Canhandula, urged the Federal Government to create conditions that would facilitate the return of the refugees to the country.
Mr Canhandula added that Nigeria is currently housing 46,000 refugees from Cameroon, which is spread across Benue, Cross River and Taraba States.
He also noted that only 1.2 million of the 1.8 million accessible Internally Displaced Persons are receiving assistance – a situation which he believes requires urgent attention.
Seven soldiers and 38 militants died in an assault by the jihadist group Boko Haram in southeastern Niger, the defence ministry said on Saturday, the latest in a series of attacks that have shattered months of relative calm near the Lake Chad basin.
“Armed forces… strongly repelled an attack by the terrorist group Boko Haram on the outskirts of Gueskerou,” the ministry said in a statement read on state television.
Gueskerou is located in the Niger region of Diffa close to the birthplace of Boko Haram in neighbouring northeastern Nigeria.
According to a provisional toll, seven soldiers and “38 terrorists” were killed. One was taken prisoner.
Five vehicles belonging to the attackers and “a large quantity of weapons (four AK47 rifles, eight machine guns, two RPG rocket launchers, ammunition) were recovered”, the statement added.
The attack on Friday was the second in less than a month and targeted a remote military position on Lake Chad, which straddles Niger, Nigeria and Chad, the scene of many raids by the jihadist group since 2015.
On February 16, seven Niger soldiers were killed during an attack on Chetima Wangou, also in southeastern Niger.
In early January, the Niger army claimed to have killed more than 280 Boko Haram militants in days of land and air raids.
In November, around a dozen girls were taken in raids on several border villages in the southeast.
In the same month, seven local employees of a French drilling firm and a government official were killed after suspected Boko Haram gunmen stormed their compound.
The government on Friday night named a new governor in Diffa. Mohamed Mouddour will replace Mahamadou Bakabe who had been in post since April 2018. No reason was given.
Boko Haram’s bloody insurgency began in northeastern Nigeria in 2009 but has since spread into neighbouring countries, prompting a regional military response.
Some 27,000 people have been killed and two million others displaced, sparking a dire humanitarian crisis in the region.
Militants have targeted both soldiers and civilians and have been blamed for abductions of children and employees of foreign companies.
Yobe State government on Saturday, January 20 received 216 returnees from Libya out of which 33 were citizens of the Republic of Niger.
Commissioner of Justice in the state, Ahmed Mustapha, told journalists while dispatching the returnees to their various Local Government Areas, that after security checks, it was discovered that 33 of the returnees were foreigners while some others were from neighbouring Borno State.
Arrangements according to him have been concluded to link the deportees with officials of the Republic of Niger.
“After security checks, we discovered that 33 were from the Niger Republic and we are handing them over to the Nigeria Immigration Service who will also ensure they are taking back to their country,” he said.
The 182 who are from the state were however handed over to the local government authorities who in turn will reunite them with their families.
The state Controller of Immigration, Adamu Abdulfatai on his part said after fishing out the 33 foreigners, immigration will follow due process and hand them over to the immigration officials in the Niger Republic.
“We will be professional in linking up with the authorities of Niger Republic to ensure that they reunite with their families,” Abdulfatai said.
The Permanent Secretary, Yobe State Emergency Management Agency, Idi Jidawa recall the role played by the state government in transporting the returnees back to the state. He said the families were appreciative of reuniting them with the returnees.
“We are receiving report across council areas how families are excited to reunite with them,” he said.
Some of the deportees in an interview with Channels Television appreciates the role played by the government in reuniting them with their families and calls for empowerment to enable them to acquire means of livelihoods.
President Muhammadu Buhari has cancelled his scheduled trip to the Republic of Niger.
This comes barely 24 hours after his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, announced in a statement that the President would attend the 59th Proclamation of Republic of Niger ceremony in Tahoua, Niger.
Shehu explained on Monday that President Buhari felt the trip was unnecessary after he had met with his Nigerien counterpart, President Mahamadou Issoufou.
He, however, said the President delegated the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Khadija Ibrahim, and some state governors to represent him at the event.
“The event to which the President was invited is the celebration of the 59th year of the country’s independence. Niger invited the leaders of neighbouring states – the Presidents of Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania and Nigeria.
“President Buhari felt satisfied that he had had useful discussions with his friend and brother, President Mahamadou Issoufou, in the course of the weekend meeting in Abuja, of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS.
“After a phone call last night (Sunday) between the leaders, President Buhari decided to send a delegation made up of the three governors of Katsina, Yobe and Borno States along with the Minister of State, Foreign Affairs to represent him,” the presidential aide said.
The historic event holds on December 18 annually, to commemorate the founding of the Republic of Niger and creation of the Presidency.
In the statement issued on Sunday, Shehu had said President Buhari would hold bilateral meetings with some of the African leaders before returning to Abuja same day.
The planned trip comes less than four days after the President returned to the country from Paris where he attended the One Planet Summit.
President Buhari, who departed Nigeria on Monday last week, joined more than 60 Heads of State and governments, as well as representatives of non-governmental and private organisations at the conference.
He had appealed to the international community to support Nigeria’s commitment to reducing the negative effects of the climate change.
He had also told the gathering that his administration was actively promoting technologies and practices for reducing greenhouse gas emissions among others.
Nigeria and Niger Republic have launched a joint operation code-named, ‘Operation Ninibo’ to check illicit drug activities and other organised crimes, including recovery of stolen vehicles and drug trafficking.
Speaking at a training in Sokoto, the Interpol representative in Nigeria, Halidu Illo urged both countries to use Interpol policing capabilities to fight crimes across the West African sub-region.
Earlier in the week, 881 kilogrammes of illicit drugs were seized during a joint operation facilitated by the Interpol.
Illo explained that the operation was successful because of the effective exchange of data.
He therefore, urged both countries to always contribute their data to the Interpol policing effort.
Troops of Eight Task Force Division, Nigerian Army, on clearance operations under the auspices of Operation LAFIYA DOLE in Northeast Nigeria had an encounter with Boko Haram terrorists at Chikun Gudu.
During the encounter in northern part of Borno State, the gallant troops neutralised quite a number of the terrorists, while others escaped with gunshot wounds.
According to a statement issued on Saturday by spokesman for the Army, Brigadier General Sani Usman, the troops also captured gun trucks, arms and ammunition, as well as 14 terrorists.
“The troops captured two Toyota Gun trucks stolen from Niger Republic Defence Forces, two Toyota Hilux Gun trucks, one of which was taken by the Boko Haram terrorists from 153 Task Force Battalion location sometime back, a 25 HP Yamaha Outboard Engine, two solar panels and five empty Belts of Anti-Aircraft Guns ammunition links.
“Others include one Gun bipod, 12 pairs of Boko Haram fighters’ uniform, five flags, 37 rounds of 7.62mm (NATO) ammunition, 84 copies of Holy Quran and 270 books on Islamic literature.
“The troops also recovered and destroyed over 70 motorcycles used by the terrorists to launch attacks, three shops stocked with medical supplies, three other shops with provisions and three wooden boats.
“They also recovered two Niger Republic Drivers’ Licenses, two mobile telephone handsets and two Wooden Slates,” the statement read.
The statement also revealed that four of soldiers were wounded and have been evacuated to a medical facility where they are receiving treatment.
Soldiers from Niger Republic have withdrawn from Damasak, a boundary town in northern Borno State, one of the states lately terrorised by Boko Haram.
The withdrawal of soldiers followed recent recapture of the town, considered one of the last strongholds of the outlawed terrorist group by troops of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF).
Troops of the Sector 4 of the MNJTF, with headquarters in Diffa of Niger Republic had successfully cleared and occupied Dutse Village last month.
Theatre Commander of the Operation Lafiya Dole, Major General Lucky Irabor, visited the recovered town enroute Mobbar to congratulate and address troops of the 145 battalion for their exploits.
Irabor said the retreating Niger Troops would continue operation on their own side of the border.
“Where is left is only Abadam and Malanfatori.
“We are going there already the troops in Kangarwa are warming up. If not for the rain they would have been in Malanfatori.
“Very soon this operation would be over. All you need to do is keep the instructions we are giving to you,” Major General Irabor told the troops.
Troops of Operation Lafiya Dole first captured Kareto, another stronghold and thereafter linked up with troops of the MNJTF that captured Damasak which has now been occupied by the Operation Lafiya Dole Troops.