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Archive for the tag “#BokoHaram”

Boko Haram overtakes ISIS as deadliest terrorists: Study – CNN.com

Boko Haram, the Islamic extremist group based mainly in Nigeria’s northern states, has overtaken ISIS as the world’s deadliest terror group, a report says.

Source: Boko Haram overtakes ISIS as deadliest terrorists: Study – CNN.com

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Bomb blast hits Bauchi

A suicide bomb attack targeted at a church in the northern state of Bauchi, Nigeria has been reported. 12 people reported dead with several others injured according to witnesses.

May the souls of the departed in Bauchi Rest in perfect peace and may God bring peace to Nigeria.

Nigeria is going through a sad phase.

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FG to recruit 280,000 policemen

 

Minister of Police Affairs, Navy Capt Caleb Olubolade (retd.)Minister of Police Affairs, Navy Capt Caleb Olubolade (retd.)
| credits: File copy

By Adelani Adepegba

“THE government is to recruit 280,000 police officers, Minister of Police Affairs, Capt. Caleb Olubolade (retd.), has said.

Speaking in Abuja on Tuesday, Olubolade, who put the number of the country’s serving police officers at 370,000, said there were plans to increase it to 650,000.

He said while 90 per cent of the policemen would be trained in modern policing tactics and weapons handling.

According to the minister, the move is aimed at reforming the police and making it more responsive to meet the security challenges facing the country.

He said modern digital trunking communication network and equipment for tracking kidnappers and other criminals had been acquired for the police.

Olubolade said about 1110 policemen had been trained in counter-terrorism and rapid response programme, basic intelligence course, patrol duties and operation course.

Others are traffic management course, train-the-trainer, intelligence lead surveillance course  curriculum development and effective leadership in public protection, intervention, mobilisation and sensitisation training.

According to him, the government has provided about nine Bell helicopters for the police as well as some quantity of arms and ammunitions including various types of Amoured Personnel carriers and body protection armour (Bullet proof vests).

The minister stated that the police received fund from the Education Trust Fund for implementation of various projects at the Police Academy, Kano to the tune of N580m.

Olubolade stated that in 2011, the police recorded 879 robbery cases and 366 kidnappings while 1,609 suspects were arrested and 766 firearms and 31, 175 ammunition recovered from the suspects.

He said, “Boko Haram insurgence is predominant in the northern states of the country; 118 Boko Haram attacks were reported in Bauchi, Borno, Kaduna, Niger, Yobe, Plateau States and the FCT where 308 victims lost their lives and 33 suspects arrested.”

Source: The Punch Newspapers

Sheikh Zakzaky: Why Nigeria could fear an attack on Iran

Sheikh Zakzaky, leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria
Sheikh Zakzaky says he has hundreds of thousands of followers

 

While the Sunni Islamist group Boko Haram makes headlines in Nigeria, a Shia group is also causing anxiety in some quarters, the BBC’s Mark Lobel reports from the city of Kaduna.

Saharan sand swirls around us as horses gallop through the film set we are visiting.

Brightly painted walls and wooden and straw weaponry line old forts, recreated to mirror the scene of the brazen Islamic revolution that arrived here in the 19th Century.

I am seeing for myself how media-savvy the mainly-Shia Islamic Movement in Nigeria has become.

Inside the compound, a dubbing operation is under way.

Flattering documentaries of religious leaders are being translated into the local Hausa language, with hundreds of DVDs sold to eager locals every month.

The movement has had a thriving daily newspaper for more than two decades and says it will soon broadcast its internet-based Hausa radio station on the country’s main air waves, and start up a new TV channel.

In recent years, the once tiny movement’s membership has sky-rocketed in size and scope while all attention has shifted to Boko Haram, the Sunni Islamist group fighting for an Islamic state in Nigeria.

Iranian inspiration

Some are worried that this movement may be growing unchecked by the current ruling powers it condemns as discredited.

Its leader, Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky, became a proponent of Shia Islam around the time of the Iranian revolution in 1979.

Events in Iran encouraged him to believe that an Islamic revival was also possible in Nigeria.

The Islamic Movement in Nigeria has a youth vanguard, which goes through military drills, which mimics the state’s security services”

Muhammad Kabir Isa Ahmadu Bello University

Ever since, he has grown increasingly confident he can build a permanent Islamic state within the country.

Although he denies his movement gets any funding from Iran, he is also vehemently anti-American.

When I met the white-bearded, traditionally dressed religious leader, who looked older than his 57 years, he resembled a peaceful, friendly, elder statesman and smiled as he told me that he now has hundreds of thousands of followers.

We sat together on his bright, fluffy pink, red and white rug and an orange-flowered garland framed a hanging portrait of the revolutionary Islamic leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini, who watched over us.

But followers here, including Sheikh Zakzaky, are closely watching present-day events in Iran.

The US and Israel threaten to attack the country if fears of a nuclear weapons building programme there are realised, despite Iran’s insistence its nuclear ambitions are purely civilian.

I asked the sheikh if Iran were attacked, would it have an impact in Nigeria?

“Not only in Nigeria, in the entire world,” he said.

Sheikh Zakzaky did not explain what would happen, but added: “How much the impact would be, would depend on which areas were attacked.”

Influential supporters

Throughout our encounter, the vagueness of some of Sheikh Zakzaky’s answers – perhaps driven by his apparent mistrust of the media, he separately recorded our conversation in order not to be misquoted – not only leaves many of his statements open to interpretation but also creates the perception he may have something to hide.

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Sheikh Zakzaky was a political prisoner for nine years during the 1980s and 1990s, accused by successive military regimes of civil disobedience.

His supporters have been involved in many violent clashes with the state over the decades – 120 of his followers are currently in prison – and political analyst Muhammad Kabir Isa says they do constitute a genuine threat.

Mr Isa, a senior researcher at Ahmadu Bello University, describes the sheikh’s movement as “a state within a state”.

“I know for one that his outfit embarks on drills, military drills,” Mr Isa said.

“But when you embark on military drills, you are drilling with some sort of anticipation. Some form of expectations.”

Sheikh Zakzaky later told me his movement did train hundreds of guards to police events, but compared it to teaching karate to the boy scouts.

Mr Isa also alleged the movement’s supporters have now become a lot more influential in society.

“I know for example he is making sure his members are recruited into the army, his members are recruited in the police force, he has people working for him in the state security service,” he said.

Kaduna state spokesman Saidu Adamu said he could not confirm if the movement’s followers were in the police, army or state security services but said he hoped it would not affect their loyalty to the state if they were.

Political party?

The state’s relationship with the movement may also determine how peaceful it remains, according to prominent human rights activist Shehu Sani.

There’s nothing like Boko Haram. I have never seen a single man calling himself Boko Haram”

Sheikh Zakzaky Islamic Movement in Nigeria

He campaigned for Sheikh Zakzaky’s release while the cleric was a political prisoner and says the government has to take its share of the blame for the recent violence by Boko Haram, which says it is trying to avenge the 2009 death in police custody of its leader, Mohammed Yusuf.

“If the Nigerian state applied the same measure of cruelty and extrajudicial killings to the members of the Islamic movement as it did to Boko Haram, we would be faced with a violence that’s a million times more than that because the Islamic movement’s well organised and educated,” according to Mr Sani.

The Nigerian government says it is prepared to talk to Boko Haram though it describes it as a faceless organisation with unrealistic demands.

In Sheikh Zakzaky’s home town of Kaduna, Boko Haram has directed attacks at both the security forces and locals.

When I met Kaduna’s Governor, Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa, to discuss the current security crisis, he told me he wanted to make use of all religious leaders to find a solution urgently.

I asked the governor if he had reached out to Sheikh Zakzaky.

“We are trying to reach out to everybody and I am sure, sooner than later, I will get across to him,” he said, underlining a conciliatory approach that has so far not borne results.

In contrast, it looks unlikely that Sheikh Zakzaky would be prepared to engage with the governor.

During our interview, he did say he would consider entering the political process and could, for example, have his own political party, if the system worked.

People gather around the car used to bomb This Day's office in Kaduna Analysts warn the sheikh’s group could become more violent than Boko Haram

But he said the current system did not work.

He rather surprisingly blamed that system for causing the current insecurity in the country by insisting Boko Haram was a creation of the “oil-hungry West”, whom he accused of using the Nigerian security forces to carry out heinous crimes here.

“Security forces are behind it,” he said animatedly.

“There’s nothing like Boko Haram. I have never seen a single man calling himself Boko Haram. Our enemies are from outside. And they are the ones behind those bombings.”

That theory goes against much of the evidence about the group that does exist, as the government has arrested senior members of the militant outfit and police stations and army barracks are often the targets of attacks.

Quiet for now

Oil analysts insist that the last thing the West would want is instability in the country, which, they say, would in fact jeopardise their operations here.

Yet Sheikh Zakzaky’s followers, young and old, confidently told me they agreed with his view of who was behind the unrest and were in full support of the sheikh’s brand of Islam spreading across the whole of Africa, not just Nigeria.

As I watched thousands gather for a weekly Koran class led by Sheikh Zakzaky, women covered in black clothes seated on one side, men in lighter clothes on another, they all appeared peaceful and studious.

The movement does not seem to be an imminent threat to either the government or Nigerian people.

But with a greater allegiance to external powers, and a clear hatred of parts of the West closely tied to the current government, the situation remains precarious.

***THIS IS ANOTHER TIME BOMB WAITING TO EXPLODE***

Source: BBC News

Army Promises to Stamp out Boko Haram

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Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika

 

By Chiemelie Ezeobi

The Nigerian Army Monday reiterated its commitment to stamp out the menace of the dreaded sect, Boko Haram, even as it said its personnel are equipped to counter the growing insecurity in the country.

Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika, who disclosed this at a seminar organised by the Nigerian Army College of Logistics (NACOL), Lagos, said: “Before now, Nigerians perceived terrorism as a malady afflicting far off nations and lands but unfortunately, some misguided elements have brought this evil home to us.”

Represented by the General Officer Commanding (GOC), 81 Division, Major General Kenneth Minimah, Ihejirika said the theme ‘Evolving Counter Terrorism Strategies for Enhances National Security and Development’ is germane going by the security challenges in the country.

“Since the Boko Haram sect started this campaign of terror, hundreds of lives and property worth millions of naira have been destroyed. Schools, places of worship, private properties, paramilitary and military locations have also not been spared.

“The sect has orchestrated attacks which are deliberately targeted at causing disaffection amongst the diverse people of the country but we praise the resilience of Nigerians and their capacity to discern the divisive undertones of these attacks and have deliberately refused to take retaliatory steps,” he said.

Ihejirika said the Army had taken steps to checkmate the activities of terrorist groups and other criminal elements in the state by improving inter-agency co-operation in terms of intelligence gathering and sharing.

He said several units are currently undergoing counter insurgency and counter terrorism training nationwide, adding that the force structure will be further expanded to effectively counter growing insecurity in the country.

On his part, the state Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, pledged his support in achieving maximum security for the citizenry.
Fashola who was represented by the Special Adviser on Political and Legislative Matters, Hon Muslim Folani, said: “The country is going haywire and we all need to join hands together to nip it in the bud before it consumes us. To achieve this, we need state policing to police our borders which are notably porous. Although it may be difficult at the onset, we will succeed if we put our minds to it.”

In his address, the Commandant NACOL, Major General Thomson Oliomogbe, said: “On our part, we promise to continue to strive to achieve excellence in line with COAS objective of transforming the NA into a force better able to tackle contemporary challenges.”

Source: Thisday

A Nation Under Fire – Dele Momodu

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“Everything continues in its state of rest or uniform motion
Except an external force acts on it”
– Isaac Newton, First Law of Motion

Fellow Nigerians, it must be miserably obvious to everyone by now, except the incurable optimists, that Armageddon is here. You don’t have to be a prophet of doom to foretell the apocalypse that has enraptured our embattled nation. If we ever thought otherwise, those who should know more than the rest of us have succeeded in jolting us out of our somnambulism.  And it has been a rude awakening from a deep slumber that could only have been an act of the almighty.
First, came the bombshell from no less a personage than our National Security Adviser, General Andrew Owoye Azazi. The occasion was an innocuous event tagged The South South Economic Summit, which had been a gathering of distinguished speakers, eminent personalities and assorted spectators, from far and near.  No one had anticipated any more volcanic eruption after the volatile delivery by the one and only Kongi of Africa, Professor Wole Soyinka. In fact, my belief was that everything was going to be an anti-climax after listening to the Nobel Laureate in what must have been one of his best performances in recent times. General Owoye Azazi put paid to my prejudice.
When the former Chief of Defence Staff took the podium, I was looking forward to one of those government rigmaroles, or a pot-pourri of lies that would wake up the dead in Bethlehem. But General Azazi turned out to be a born again preacher who sneaked into our consciousness unannounced. He was expected to speak on the state of security in Nigeria and address how it affects the South South, the region that currently lays Nigeria’s golden eggs. Thanks to Channels Television, I was glued to my screen and watched as General Azazi waltzed his way through a most delicate and sensitive topic.
He had started on a calm note and built his thesis, slowly but surely, to a resounding crescendo. His famous moment came when he suddenly exploded like an Iraqi bomb and placed the blame for the general insecurity in Nigeria at the doorsteps of no other than the ruling party, PDP, thereby committing an unprecedented heresy that would haunt him and the government he represents. The appreciative crowd had nudged him on with a thunderous ovation as he fired the first salvo. As if that was the tonic he badly needed, he paused to acknowledge their cheers, before firing more bullets from his well-oiled cylinders.
General Azazi was not just saying what many of us had always known or suspected, he said it with a straight poker face. He was eloquent and magisterial. But he had chosen to hold the tiger by the tail. I knew that the PDP hawks were going to come after him with a vengeance and try to shoot him down with the efficacy of American drones. It is in the character of these rascally guys to maul down anyone of their own whoever goes against the commandments. None of their members has ever been prosecuted for corruption until he falls out of favour with the Party’s political godfathers and warlords.
But I doubt if General Azazi was not aware of the unwritten codes or he just chose to challenge fate and secure his own future. His speech was a veritable distraction that President Goodluck Jonathan did not need. He had suffered enough nightmares in the last couple of months and could do without more. But his most trusted ally and kinsman had chosen to tell in public what he had probably told him privately without any useful impact. If nothing ever moved our dear President in the past, this act was guaranteed to move mountains and elicit some shock waves in high places. And it did.
A devastated Jonathan was visibly embarrassed to the extent that he had to offer a tenuous excuse that his National Security Adviser must have been misquoted; a perfect alibi for a bruised ego. As I write this piece, the storm is still raging and its eventual destination is not yet known. What is most certain is that things are no longer at ease and the centre may no longer hold.
As if that was not bad enough, Lt. General Theophilus Danjuma came out to tell it in his characteristic manner that Nigeria was under fire and may be heading for the atrocious way of Somalia. For those who have studied the life of Lt. General Danjuma, he’s not someone who’s given to frivolities. On a regular day, Danjuma’s taciturnity is legendary while on a special day his words are few and carefully chosen. He minds his own business, and he is very astute at it. Love him or loathe him, General Danjuma has demonstrated that there’s life outside power, and that army retirees can run businesses successfully without waiting for hand-outs from their successors. He’s one of our most respected retired Generals at home and abroad, and when he speaks, he’s the voice of the military fraternity. He’s fearless just as he’s feared by his contemporaries and subordinates.
I know for a fact that General Danjuma only comes out once in a blue moon to intervene in public discourse. When such a man speaks, we must listen. A few days ago, he spoke like the oracle that he is. It is not a mere coincidence that two army Generals who literally walk in the corridor of power spoke the minds of millions of Nigerians within one week. What they are telling us in very few words is that when a handshake goes beyond the elbow, something has gone terribly wrong. The situation in Nigeria has become totally dangerous with the entire citizenry going neurotic. Everywhere we turn, the story is bad news and unmitigated disaster. The Somalisation of Nigeria, as Danjuma describes our precarious situation, would certainly spell doom for Nigeria and ultimately the whole of the Africa sub-region, and indeed beyond. It is one major reason why the interventions of these experienced, retired army Generals should not be dismissed with the usual lackadaisical attitude of the ruling government.  This is not the best time to bury our heads in the sand like the ostrich and pretend that all is well with us. If we don’t know where we are going, we should at least remember where we are coming from. Only fools travel, the way we do in these parts, without having a map of our direction.
Now that bombs are flying undetected like UFOs, the time has come to accept our helplessness in handling the Boko Haram issue in particular. It is obvious that those who want Nigeria destroyed at all costs are more powerful and determined than those saddled with the responsibility of protecting our nation. Even the league of senior Christians seems to have lost all hope in a man they fervently supported only this time last year. They are no longer in doubt that their man lacks the capacity to combat a crisis of this magnitude while Boko Haram has left no one in doubt of its incredible capabilities. I will not get tired of pleading with our wonderful government to face brass tacks and firstly admit its gross inability to deal with common criminals and not tell us it can handle the highest form of terrorism ever known to many shores.
Someone should tell us how many Nigerian lives need to be wasted before our government owns up to its abject ineptitude and abysmal failure in protecting their lives and securing their properties. All we hear daily are empty promises that are never matched by any concrete action. As a matter of fact, presidential reaction has come in mere clichés. As someone noted on Twitter days ago, there seems to be a template for these releases and government only inserts the location of each new act of terror. This is because the words used are predictably similar and never good enough. Too many lives have already been wasted and those lives are too precious to their families if not the government. We cannot continue to hinge our hopes and faith in mere words of a failed leadership in a failed state.
If the President must know, I can tell him for free that his aides are not helping matters. They are too reckless and fatalistic. Their combative nature has made it impossible for them to listen to any voice of reason or wisdom. The added fact that they are completely paranoid and see the President’s enemies in even natural disaster is an invitation to more chaos. I suggest they purge themselves of the arrogance of “this is our time and we shall do what we like till the next election comes; we will battle you with more than enough money to win a second term mandate, and let the heavens fall” because this may turn out to be a fallacy and a misplaced delusion of grandeur.
Rather, what the Presidential aides need to do urgently is fight less and put on their thinking caps before our ship of state sinks like The Titanic. It costs nothing to be humble in power. Heating up the polity the way they are doing can only spell doom of unprecedented proportions.
Without being simplistic it is apparent that the major cause of the unbridled unrest in the Country is the extreme poverty in the land.  Poverty of self, education, ideas, development and the State itself have hands in our matter. Poverty is not always economic.  Government must take urgent steps to correct these anomalies which can only cause untold damage to our collective psyche.
Where do we go from here? A few tips will suffice for now. Government must begin to show some seriousness in handling the affairs of state by declaring visible austerity measures on itself. It would be useful to learn from our neighbours in West Africa how they have moved from penury to prosperity. Our education, for example, and other key areas begging for attention, will never improve if politicians continue to spend recklessly on themselves while neglecting their primary responsibilities to the people. Our President must find the courage and charms to gather all politicians and ignite a new vista of hope. He would succeed in doing this only if he can lead by example. The people under him are watching his expensive style of governance and would never agree to downgrade theirs. He needs to get experts to look at how politicians can be forced to cut down on the waste and drain of our resources, starting from the very top.
President Jonathan must urgently water down the powers, responsibilities and functions of the Federal Government by divesting government interests in many businesses, agencies and corporations. It is obvious to all reasonable Nigerians that central government has not been able to fix any of our problems despite the trillions that we have been pumping into various so-called projects of developmental value. This calls for a redirection of how we conduct business in Abuja.  These powers and functions must be transferred to the energetic private sector.  That is the major way in which our country can truly develop. Of course it is also necessary for true federalism to be practised so that the allure of the centre which is also majorly responsible for the crisis we are embroiled in can take on much less significance.
If our present style has failed to yield desired results, it is only pertinent to try something new and effective. Until we stop the rot in government and offer succour to the citizenry, we shall continue to build a community of frustrated and desperate people who are willing and ready to make life uncomfortable for the rest of society.
I can only hope that someone, somewhere, is reading and would be willing to act before it is too late.

Source :Thisday

Letter to Archbishop John Onaiyekan

By Pius Adesanmi

My Lord, the Archbishop of Abuja Diocese,

I am directed to write you this letter on behalf of the administration of his Excellency Dr Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan, President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I am writing in reaction to a recent interview you granted Daily Sun about the security situation in the country. You were misquoted as saying that “there is definitely something wrong with government” and that “nobody believes anymore the story that we are on top of the situation”.

My Lord, although you did not name names, I am responding all the same because I subscribe to the truth in this Yoruba proverb, “Olowe m’owe ara e”: the target of an uppercut proverb surely knows himself, even if he is not named in the proverb. I recognise President Jonathan as the target of your proverb, especially the little part about not being on top of the situation. I must emphasise again, my Lord, that I believe you were misquoted, given the infinite capacity of our local journalists for mischief. However, I have decided to respond all the same, just in case the journalist who interviewed you got it right this time.

Although you reside here in Abuja, I am surprised that like Professor Chinua Achebe, who has lived abroad for too long, you are displaying a perplexing lack of familiarity with realities on the ground in Nigeria. Only someone who resides on Mars would look at the security situation in Nigeria and declare that President Jonathan is not on top of it. President Jonathan was quick to recognise that terrorism has been a global threat since September 11, 2001 and had the presence of mind and sense of judgment to realise that it is now Nigeria’s turn to be attacked by terrorists.

As soon as he had that epiphany, he took a bold step that no world leader has ever taken in the history of the war on terror; he reassured the Nigerian people that Boko Haram and other manifestations of terror would end in Nigeria in June 2012. No American president boasts this remarkable achievement. No European leader has ever been able to put a definitive expiry date on terrorism. President Jonathan did it. My Lord, if that is not being on top of the situation, I don’t know what is.

My Lord, Boko Haram is not the only case of terrorism that has highlighted President Jonathan’s remarkable acumen as a leader equal to the task of assuring the security of the nation. You will recall that he took the bold step of ending the fuel subsidy regime early this year. He struck a deadly blow against corruption and freed up subsidy money for investment in infrastructure such as roads, power, electricity, and hospitals. Enemies of progress in Nigeria, aided by Nigerian loudmouths abroad, ganged up against Nigeria in the so-called Occupy Nigeria movement. The Occupy virus spread and became a terrorist takeover of Lagos. Our Commander-in-Chief acted swiftly and deployed troops to Lagos to take the city back from the terrorists. My Lord, if this is not being on top of the situation, I don’t know what is.

Despite the challenges we still face from Boko Haram, the President has spared no effort in reassuring the international community of our commitment to the war on terror. More than any other Nigerian President before him, Dr. Jonathan has assured foreign investors to continue to flock to Nigeria and inject much needed foreign direct investment into our economy. He has urged them to ignore the threat of Boko Haram and go about their business peacefully in Nigeria. No American President has been bold enough to encourage people to ignore Al Qaeda. My Lord, if this is not being on top of the situation, I don’t know what is.

It is partly in recognition of the President’s giant strides in securing Nigeria and Africa that he recently made Time Magazine’s list of the one hundred most influential people in the world. Mr. President is humble and has not allowed all the recognition abroad to distract him from the work of the Nigerian people. As I write, seven hundred and seventy-four presidential committees are working hard on various assignments designed by the President. As you probably know, the Oronsaye committee recently submitted its report and the President swiftly promised to constitute a committee to look into the report and write a white paper on it. My Lord, if this is not being on top of the situation, I don’t know what is.

We suggest, my Lord, that you upgrade your knowledge of Nigerian realities before granting another press interview.

Yours sincerely,

Remember Ruben, PhD

Aso Rock Villa, Abuja

Source: Daily Times Nigeria

#Nigeria Police arrest two Boko Haram suspects in Ebonyi

The Ebonyi State Police Command on Thursday confirmed the arrest of two persons suspected to be members of Boko Haram at the Ochoudo motor park in Abakaliki.

The Public Relations Officer of the command, Mr. John Eluu, told the News Agency of Nigeria that investigations into the matter were ongoing.

“We can confirm that two suspects have been arrested for being members of the Boko Harm sect, as the matter will be investigated thoroughly,” he said.

The men were arrested late on Wednesday at the park while boarding a vehicle to Ikwo Local Government Area of the state and were taken to the Central Police Station, Abakaliki, where they were interrogated.

The police said the suspects claimed to be Sokoto indigenes but the identity card found on one of them revealed he was from Zamfara.

Items found on the arrested men, according to NAN reports comprised two dane guns, machetes, an axe, gun powder, and identity cards, among others.

Alhaji Farouk Garba, a northerner residing in Abakaliki, said the activities of the dreaded sect in the northern part of the country had made people from the area objects of suspicion.

“Most residents of the town see northerners who dress in our traditional regalia as members of the sect and raise false alarm most times.

“I want the arrest of the suspects to be thoroughly investigated to uncover their real identity while appealing to the people of the state, especially Christians, to note that not all Hausas and Muslims are members of the sect.

“I also call on the Federal Government to immediately check the terrorist activities of the sect while the security agencies should be more proactive in protecting the lives and properties of the citizens,” he said

Source- The Punch

#Nigeria Kano seeks husbands for 1,000 widows, divorcees

• Divorcee Altine Abdullahi is among 1,000 women who have turned to the Kano state government to find them a spouse.            Photo: Los Angeles Times Divorcee Altine Abdullahi is among 1,000 women who have turned to the Kano state government to find them a spouse. Photo: Los Angeles Times

Kano State, where the number of divorcees is cause for concern, the government is acting as matchmaker to help ex-wives and widows find Mr. Right.

He should be tall. Kind, of course. And generous, especially when it comes to buying all those little trinkets that a woman desires.

“A little handsome,” but not too much, says Altine Abdullahi. “It’s a danger.”

In northern Nigeria, it is a truth almost universally acknowledged that a woman of a certain age, and in a certain situation in life, must be in want of a husband.

But if the woman in that certain situation is a divorcee or a widow, finding a husband isn’t easy, even without the shopping list of desirable qualities ticked off by Abdullahi (a divorcee).

That’s why 1,000 women have thrown their fates into the hands of the Kano state government, which will act as their matchmaker. The religious authority in the Muslim-dominated state, the Hisbah Board, has embarked on a massive husband hunt for divorcees and widows. The first 100 women, including Abdullahi, are to be wed in coming weeks.

“I’m getting married,” she says. “God willing!”

She has no idea who her husband will be. But, like the practical character in a Jane Austen novel, she’s no romantic.

“I know love is something, but …” she pauses wistfully. “Love doesn’t really last.”

Abdullahi, 44, preens like a fine, glossy bird, creaming her plump lips, powdering her face, fluttering her eyelashes girlishly. Her smiling face, with perfect white teeth, peers out from dozens of photographs stacked on her desk and decking the wall of her office, where she heads the organization Voice of Widows, Divorcees and Orphans Assn. of Nigeria. Her skin is clear, her eyes bright, her silver bangles jangle happily, yet she complains that she looks “tired.”

“Beautiful? You should have seen me when I was young. Then I was beautiful.”

The state-as-matchmaker plan came after Abdullahi made an emotional plea on Kano radio for husbands for desperate widows and divorcees.

In Nigeria, women of marriageable age who remain single are seen as suspect, their respectability questioned. Throughout many parts of the Muslim world, divorced and widowed women are forced to go home to their fathers or brothers and are viewed as a burden and failure. Or they live on the edges of society, shunned and forced into begging or prostitution to support their children.

Sometimes the brother of a dead man will marry the widow and support her and her children. But many divorced women find it difficult to remarry.

In Kano, the state capital, there’s a sense of crisis about the number of divorcees, although statistics aren’t available to back up widespread perceptions of an increase in failed marriages. The problem sharpened here after Kano state and 11 other predominantly Muslim states adopted sharia, or Islamic law, between 1999 and 2001, allowing men to divorce unilaterally simply by thrice stating “I divorce you,” an act that cannot be undone with a simple change of mind.

“With growing cases of divorce among couples, the state has reached an unenviable record in the country. In any social gathering and various fora, the most common discussion in the metropolis is the growing rate at which divorce is taking place,” said a February article in the Nigerian newspaper Leadership.

An everyday quarrel can easily escalate into divorce, says Abdullahi, whose divorce happened as quickly as a car crash, in a moment of heat, instantly regretted by both sides.

The row came after her husband took a third wife who was demanding more nights with him. When he conveyed the demand to Abdullahi (as second wife), she told him it was women’s business. He should send the third wife to her.

He refused. She insisted. He said, “Be careful.”

She insisted. He told her to leave. A few more sharp words and before anyone could stop it, the couple were divorced.

“I started crying. Even he started crying too. We cried together. He said, ‘Just go back to your room and forget about the divorce.’” But she couldn’t. Under sharia law, she says, she cannot go back to him unless she remarries and her husband either dies or her new marriage ends in divorce.

She left their four children with him, as is often the case. (“He treats them very well. So why should I worry myself about them?”) She has seen them once since, in 2005. She left, certain he’d miss her and her cooking, especially his favorite dish, spaghetti bolognese, made from a recipe she’d found in a magazine.

That was 12 years ago.

“I know he misses me.” Still, she says, 40 days can now pass without him entering her mind.

After the divorce, Abdullahi decided to put herself through law school, but being smart didn’t compensate for her lack of a secular education.

“I didn’t understand a word the lecturer said.”

In 2008, the state government’s religious Social Reorientation Program, A Daidaita Sahu, meaning “straighten your lines” in the local Hausa language, urged men to be tolerant of trivial marital problems. One reason for the state’s high divorce rate, the government found, was “the misapplication of power by men to divorce women.”

Many Kano men, who see obedience as an important wifely trait, don’t want to marry divorcees, Abdullahi contends.

“Nobody comes to us. They say we are not disciplined,” Abdullahi says. “We challenge that. They’re our men and if they don’t marry us, who will?”

The Hisbah Board is subjecting all marriage applicants, male and female, to medical and HIV tests, and requires each to fill out a form, providing details of their social “status,” education, likes and dislikes and an outline of what he or she expects in a spouse.

Husbands will pay a modest bride price, but no less than one gram of gold (which Abdullahi wants to go to the bride but usually goes to her family). The state will also pay all wedding expenses.

About 2,000 men have applied to be screened as potential husbands. For men, it looks like an affordable way to get hitched, with the bride price low, the trouble of haggling with the bride’s parents averted and the wedding paid for.

Even members of the Hisbah Board have recently taken extra wives “to set a good example,” board official Nabahani Usman said. (The board sees it as an act of charity and kindness to take in an extra wife.)

For many of the divorcees and widows, the attraction is the protection offered by the board, which will make sure any future divorce isn’t trivial.

Some critics of the marriage plan, such as writer Ayisha Osori, argue that its great flaw is in giving false hope of success in marriage to women when society’s views of wives remain problematic.

“Absolutely nothing has changed. The men have not changed, the state has not changed, and the realities of the women — right where society wants them to be — have also not changed,” Osori wrote in Leadership. “And so the cycle continues, with women in and out of the homes and beds of men who can discard them as quickly as it takes to say talaq,” she added, referring to the Islamic term for divorce.

Abdullahi met recently with Aminu Daurawa, head of the Hisbah Board, who promised to personally select the best available man for her.

He’d better find someone who appreciates a bold, charismatic woman.

Abdullahi’s outspoken ways have been controversial. In 2009 she planned a “million divorcee march” in the streets of Kano to protest the dire situation of many divorcees and widows. Tongues wagged over such a scandalous idea. Men — and women — condemned it.

She was summoned by the Hisbah Board, forced to cancel the protest and had to promise never to talk about it again. She was chastened but didn’t give up fighting.

“I’m a strong woman. I got my strength from my father.”

These days, Abdullahi looks anything but downtrodden. She adores fashion (which can be quite an expensive habit, even in Kano) and goes a little starry-eyed when listing the hoped-for qualities of her soon-to-be-found husband. She may not be romantic but can’t help dreaming big.

“I want a husband who will get me anything I want in my life. It’s not important to be rich. But I don’t want poor.”

And if he’s cruel, miserly, bad-tempered, violent or simply doesn’t suit, she will reject him.

“If he can take good care of me, fine, I’ll stick with him. But if not, I’ll find my own way.”

But can she? The Hisbah Board’s determination to save all but the most dire marriages may cut both ways. If she (or any of the women) doesn’t like the board’s version of Mr. Right, she may be stuck.

Source: The Nation

Terrorism: IG orders CPs to secure media houses

Acting Inspector-General of Police, Alhaji Abubakar Mohammed
May 3, 2012 by Adelani Adepegba, Mustapha Salihu and Eniola Akinkuotu

Acting Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, has directed all state commissioners of police to beefup security around media houses in the country.

This is just as the training of 100 policemen in the handling of Explosive Ordinance Disposal has begun.

The IG’s directive followed the threat by Boko Haram to attack PUNCH and some other South-based newspapers in the country.

The sect made the threat in a Youtube video on Tuesday, in which it justified last Friday’s suicide bomb attack on ThisDay Newspapers office in Jabi, Abuja.

Speaking at a dinner with crime correspondents in Abuja on Tuesday, Abubakar stated that the police would provide security for media outfits.

He also gave the assurance that efforts would be made to protect journalists from harm.

“I’m aware of the threat to media houses by the group of criminals causing trouble in parts of the country. I have directed all commissioners of police in charge of state commands to provide security for journalists and media houses. We won’t allow any harm to befall them,” the IG said.

He also vowed that security agencies would continue to combat terrorists in their areas of operation.

He urged Nigerians to support the security agencies in their efforts to deal with security threats across the country by providing useful information.

Also on Tuesday, the State Security Service said it was investigating the sect’s threat to attack media houses.

SSS Deputy Director, Media and Publicity, Marilyn Ogar, said the agency was working to thwart any plot against the media.

She dismissed the report of a bomb scare in Abuja on Tuesday, adding that the “stop and search” operation conducted on persons and vehicles by security agencies was a proactive measure led by the Brigade of Guards to assure the public of their combat readiness.

She said, “There was no bomb scare in Abuja as reported by some newspapers. The stop and search conducted on Tuesday was a show of force by the Brigade of Guards to show that they are alert to any security issue.”

Meanwhile, the training of the 100 policemen in EOD techniques began on Wednesday in Lagos, in a bid to address the rising level of insecurity in the country as well as incessant bombings.

The training is in response to the IG’s order that the EOD should intensify security in all states where it has units and should also endeavour to establish its presence in states where it has none.

The training was formally opened on Wednesday in Lagos by the Commissioner of Police in charge of the EOD, Mr. Folusho Adebanjo, who represented the IG.

The spokesperson for the EOD, Mr. Gbolahan Moronfolu, said it was meant to strengthen the capability of the police in the handling of explosives.

He said, “The 100 participants are conventional policemen from various police commands and formations who were successful in an aptitude test previously conducted by the EOD. The course is for one month and will centre on the basic training module.

“The actual aim is to strengthen the workforce of the EOD command throughout the federation in view of the incessant bombings. The training aims to increase personnel and use them to create more units in states where there is no EOD unit.

“Many embassies, media houses, police divisions as well as other possible targets will now have more EOD presence.”

On Wednesday, the Lagos State Police Command summoned all area commanders that have media houses under their jurisdiction to its headquarters.

The command’s spokesman, Mr. Joseph Jaiyeoba, who confirmed this to one of our correspondents on the telephone, explained it was in response to the Boko Haram threat.

He said, “The Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of operations, Mr. Tunde Sobulo, is presently having a meeting with area commanders who have media houses within their areas of operation.

“Since the April 26, 2012 attack on some media houses in Abuja and Kaduna, the Commissioner of Police for the Lagos State Police Command, Mr. Umar Manko, had ordered that security should be beefed up in the state. But with the recent threat, we have to restrategise.”

Jaiyeoba said he would inform our correspondent about the security measures being implemented by the command.

The SSS command in Kano State has arrested a middle aged chemical merchant, Ayuba Usman, suspected to be dealing in chemicals for the production of explosives to Boko Haram members.

Usman, who is a native of Dala Local Government Area in Kano metropolis, was paraded before newsmen by the Director of SSS in the state, Mr. Bassey Eteng, on Wednesday.

The alleged merchant was found in possession of 35 big drums of highly combustible chemicals and substances used for making bombs and other Improvised Explosive Devices.

Eteng said, “Chemicals are controlled items and they are supposed to be sold to people legitimately for economic use. But when we then find some individuals selling them to other individuals, then these individuals turn them to harmful use on innocent persons.”

He stated that the arrest of Usman, whose shop is located in one of the main markets in the state, was effected through information provided by a suspect in custody.

The director, however, refused to name the market where the suspect’s business place was located for security reasons. He stated that Usman’s arrest followed Tuesday’s successful raid by the Joint Task Force on a suspected Boko Haram factory/house located at Bubugaje in Sharada Phase 111 Industrial Estate in Kano metropolis.

“The suspect brought before you is a suspect whom we found from investigations to have links with some extremist elements.

“And what I believe, based on statements made by the high profile suspect the service is dealing with, we were able to know that the suspect, Ayuba Usman, has been providing very combustive chemicals to the extremist group.

“These are the chemicals being used in making Improvised Explosive Devices and other types of explosive devices. He was arrested yesterday (Tuesday) in Kano. He is the owner of all the (chemical) substances found in his shop. These substances are controlled items.

“Suspects in custody were able to identify their main link of where, from whom they are getting the above materials and who provides them the materials in Kano. This happened to be Ayuba Usman They (terrorist bombers) mix this thing with fertiliser and other inflammable substances.

“He was not just picked because he is selling these materials, but because information from those in custody, who identified him, who described him, where his shop is; led us to his arrest.

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