Sat, 03 Mar 2018
As the search for the kidnapped Dapchi schoolgirls continues, a human rights activist, Aisha Wakil, has claimed that she was contacted by a Boko Haram faction that confirmed that it had the missing girls.

Wakil, who is popularly called Mama Boko Haram, was a member of the Presidential Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges in the North, which was set up during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Wakil made the claim in a video interview with the News Agency of Nigeria that has gone viral on the social media, saying the terrorist group had made contact with her on Thursday. She is believed to have communication links with the leadership of the sect and also believed to have played some roles in negotiations between the Federal Government and Boko Haram insurgents that resulted in the release of persons kidnapped by the group in the past.

Earlier in the week, Wakil had pleaded with the abductors of the schoolgirls to release them so that they could reunite with their families.

But in the fresh video, Wakil said, “They are even the ones that called me and said Mama, we heard what you have said and told me that they are with the girls and they are going to release them.

“I begged of them and said please let this not be another 1,000-plus days of Chibok girls, and they laughed and said no. I asked them where I can come and stay with them (girls) for two days, but they did not say anything.

“I can assure Nigerians that so far they are with my son, Habib, and his friends; Habib is a nice guy, he is a very nice boy. He will not harm them, he will not touch them, and he will not kill them. He is going to listen to us, and so far, he indicated interest that he loves peace. And I love them for that and believe what they said on this.

“They will definitely give us the girls. All I am begging Nigerians is to calm down, be prayerful, everything will be over in God grace (sic).”

The Federal Government had on Tuesday released the names and other details of the 110 girls who had yet to be accounted for, following the recent attack on the Government Girls Science and Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State, on February 19. The missing girls are believed to have been kidnapped by the group.

In April 2014, 276 girls were similarly abducted in a school in Chibok, Borno State.

Search for missing girls extended to neighbouring countries -FG

Dapchi Schoolgirls
Meanwhile, the ongoing search for the missing girls has been extended to the neighbouring countries, the Federal Government has said.

In a statement issued in Abuja on Friday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said top military and security officials on Thursday travelled to the North-East to add more urgency to the search, which has now been extended beyond the North-East.

The officials include the nation’s top military officer and Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Abayomi Olonisakin; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas; Chief of Army Staff; Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, and the Director-General of the Department of State Services, Alhaji Lawal Daura.

Mohammed said these officials joined the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, who had earlier relocated to the North-East, as well as the National Security Adviser, Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno (retd.), who had also visited the theatre.

The panel set up by the Federal Government to unravel the circumstances surrounding the abduction of the girls was inaugurated on Thursday by the NSA.

Our strategies leak to B’Haram, says DHQ

The Defence Headquarters, Abuja, said on Friday that the military henceforth would not disclose its strategies on the missing Dapchi schoolgirls to the media as such information got to the Boko Haram insurgents and gave them room to re-strategise.

The Acting Director of Defence Information, Brig. –Gen. John Agim, who disclosed this in a statement on Friday, said the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Abayomi Olonisakin, and Service Chiefs as well as the Director-General, Department of State Services, met in Maiduguri, Borno State, and reviewed the ongoing operation to rescue the Dapchi schoolgirls.

Agim said one of the recommendations after the meeting was that the military, henceforth, would discuss only its successes in the rescue operation, rather than its strategies.

The DDI said, “During the meeting, the pattern of information management in all the military operations was reviewed. It was sadly observed that the military operation strategies have always been in the media, thereby giving the terrorists an opportunity to re-strategise.  It was recommended that, henceforth, the military will be communicating the successes rather than strategies.

“It is also very important to be mindful of speculations that could jeopardise the ongoing efforts as well as put the lives of the schoolgirls at risk.  For instance, the speculation that fishermen and farmers have been employed by the military to search for the abducted girls is misleading. Even though the military is soliciting useful information to facilitate its operations, the fishermen and farmers have not been singled out for this assistance.”

JNI directs Imams to hold special prayers in mosques

Muslim clerics from across the country have, however, called for special prayers for the missing girls.

For instance, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar lll -led Jama’atu Nasril Islam has directed all Muslim preachers (Imams) to offer special prayers for the quick and safe rescue of the schoolgirls.

The Secretary-General of the JNI, Khalid Aliyu, told one of our correspondents in Kaduna that the body had directed all Imams to offer special prayers for the rescue of the girls.

Aliyu said the special prayers were necessary to seek divine intervention so that the case of the Dapchi girls does not end up like that of the Chibok schoolgirls.

He said, “Fervent observance of Adhkar (remembrance of Allah) should also be ventured into by all Muslims, as it is a vital tool for easing fears, tension and uncertainties such as the myriad security challenges bedevilling Nigeria.

“Similarly, supplications in Sujood (prostrating position) in all circumstances are also paramount.

“We implore all Muslims particularly Imams to continue Qunootun Nawazil (special prayers at calamitous periods in the last Rak’at of each obligatory prayer and non-obligatory prayers) seeking Allah’s intervention.”

Muslims in Yobe, Taraba, Nasarawa, Adamawa pray for girls’ rescue 

Similarly, Muslims in Yobe, Nasarawa, Adamawa and Taraba states on Friday offered prayers for the quick rescue of the abducted schoolgirls.

In Yobe State, the Special Adviser to Governor Ibrahim Gaidam on Religious Affairs, Ustaz Babagana Mallakyari, told Saturday PUNCH that they were dedicating the day’s prayers to the quick recovery of the girls.

Mallakyari, who is also the Chief Imam of Mokas Mosque, Damaturu, said, “There is nothing more than prayers for now as far as this issue is concerned and that is why since last week, we have dedicated special prayers for the release of the girls.

“The federal and state governments are doing their best in terms of deployment of security for the search of the girls, but they need our prayers. I want to call on all to join in praying for the release of the girls.”

Also, the Fika Emirate Council in Yobe State on Friday directed all Imams, worshippers and mosques to commence rigorous prayers for the safe return of the girls.

In a statement issued in Potiskum and signed by the Assistant Secretary, Fika Emirate Council, Potiskum, Alhaji Ali Gimba Gonki, the Emirate said the prayers would commence immediately after Juma’at prayers at Fika Emirate Central Mosque in Potiskum.

The statement “urged all Muslims in the state to pray for the safe return of the girls.”

In Taraba State, the Muslim Council had directed all Muslims in the state to pray for a safe and timely rescue of the schoolgirls.

The Secretary-General of the council, Alhaji Chindo Mohammed, disclosed this on Friday in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents.

“What we normally do in situations like this is to direct adherents of Islam in the state to pray.

“This is not the first time we are doing this, we have been doing that and in the case of Dapchi, we have also directed our members to pray.

“I want to confirm to you that prayers for the quick rescue of the abducted Dapchi schoolgirls have been going on in the state in the past days,” he said.

The Chief Imam, Issa Elele Central Mosque, Ilorin, Kwara State, Abubakar Aliyu-Kamal, also said that prayers were held during Friday’s Jumat for the release of the pupils.

He said, “Why should we not protect our youths today? If we do not protect our youths, we are creating a problem for the future of Nigeria.

“The Nigerian government should deploy more security operatives in that place so as to enhance the security of lives and property as well as achieve peace. Without peace, the nation cannot grow.

“We will pray for Allah’s intervention so that the abducted girls would be released and that they would return safely and peacefully. We will also pray for Yobe State so that peace and harmony will return in the place. We will also pray for Nigeria.”

The Deputy Chief Imam, Bekaji Central Mosque, Mohammed Lawal, also said prayers would be offered by Muslims in Adamawa State for the release of the girls, adding that religious leaders were duty bound to “pray for the success of everyone and peace in the society.”

“We are praying for the rescue of the Dapchi schoolgirls, the President, governors, and the remaining abducted Chibok girls,” he said.

In the same vein, the Modibbo Haruna Buhari Charity Organisation in Nasarawa State called for fervent special prayers by Nigerians for God’s intervention to end security challenges in the country.

Chairman, Board of Trustees of the organisation, Mr. Modibo Suleiman-Masaka, said, “My appeal is to the religious leaders and other Nigerians to offer special prayers for God’s intervention for an end to kidnapping, terrorism, frequent farmers/herdsmen clashes, among other security challenges in the country.”

The Chief Imam of North Bank in Makurdi, Benue State, Idris Musa, said, “Today, we pray for the release of the schoolgirls in Yobe and also the Chibok girls yet to be released.”

Also speaking, the Executive Chairman, Benue State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board, Sheik Ibrahim, said “We believe God and with prayers, everything is possible,” he said.

Sat, 03 Mar 2018
Mohammed Fawehinmi is the first child of late legal luminary, Chief Gani Fawehinmi. After a car accident in 2003, the 47-year-old lost his ability to walk. He told Eric Dumo how the incident changed his life and how he has managed to keep hope alive.

What was it like growing up under the roof of Gani Fawehinmi?

It was like growing up in a military camp. He gave the order and you must comply. You failed to do so and you got thoroughly punished. I particularly have been displaced with any sort of rod that you can imagine. Until the anger in him calmed, he would not stop punishing you. The only time you would offend my father and he let you walk away was whenever he sighted his mother. No matter your offence, he would not punish you once she was there.

Being the first child, my father made sure he disciplined me the most.

Did he groom you differently from the others being the first child and son?

Yes, he did. He’d always tell me that once he was gone, the mantle would fall on me. For the fact that I was very young then, I would always wonder what he was saying. But he never allowed me to rest; he ensured that I did more than the others in every aspect just because I was the first born. He groomed me like a man even as a boy.

What dreams did you nurse as a child?

I wanted to become an army general. I had three uncles in the army. Two of them were captains while one was a major. I loved the uniform and personality of military men, being like them was just what I wanted for myself.

When I was 14, we were given forms in school for the Nigerian Defence Academy. I hurriedly filled mine and took it to my father for him to sign; I never knew I had courted trouble. Till he died, I don’t think he had ever been that angry. He said I wanted to go and join the people that were throwing him in jail all the time. He said I wanted to join those who wanted to kill him. He said that it was better he killed me before I joined his enemies.

It took four senior lawyers to hold him down that day. One of them was OAR Ogunde, a senior advocate, Mr. Tayo Oyetibo, Mike Philips and one other person. I had to run away from the scene as fast as I could and managed to jump the fence before tearing the form. I thought he had forgotten about everything but I was surprised when he woke me up with the cane at about 2:30am the next morning. He dealt with me thoroughly that day.

Later in life, I wanted to become a business administrator even though the desire to become a military man never left me. When I went to England to study law after my first degree in Business Administration from the University of Lagos, I met a military general who further aroused my interest in the profession.

But immediately I finished my studies, my father was on my neck to return to Nigeria to attend law school. For a while, that interest waned in me but whenever I come across a military cantonment and I see the way the officers move, I feel like being a part of them.

You were not born with disability; at what point did this challenge occur?

I was coming from the chambers at night on the evening of September 23, 2003. The accident happened around 9:48pm. I used to stay at Ajao Estate then and I usually took the airport route to connect Ikeja. It was a Mercedes E320. By the time I got to the toll gate, I bought call card and prayed, something I had never done before because when I was at that place, I didn’t usually stop. I thereafter turned to link the express, as I approached a popular filling station on the axis, my car skidded off the road and leaped into the place. As the car landed, I tried to apply the brakes but it wasn’t responding. Eventually, the outlet where they used to check for petrol gauge stopped the vehicle. The airbag from the front came out and pinned me to the seat while the one from the side shifted me and broke my neck. After about one-and-a-half minute of struggle to burst the airbag, my entire body went numb. It was a naval officer who stopped to rescue me from the car, otherwise I could have been burnt alive in it because petrol was already spilling from it.

The first hospital I was rushed to at Ajao Estate said they could not handle my case, so I was taken to Maryland Specialist Hospital where we were advised to go to the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi. It was while I was there that my parents were informed that I had been involved in an accident. I was there for about two days before my father secured a visa and moved me to England for further treatment.

I underwent several scans and examinations over there but the specialist surgeon said he didn’t see anything. I had to be operated upon. After the operation, the surgeon said I could have been walking the following week after the accident if not for the way I was handled at the hospital in Nigeria. He said the particular spot where the injury occurred should have been frozen with a special spray after the accident rather than being handled anyhow. That spray cost about N8,000 when converted to our local currency. It is so common abroad but up till now, many hospitals don’t even have it in Nigeria.

Sat, 03 Mar 2018
The United Nations Organisation on Friday began the evacuation of aid workers from Rann community in the Kala-Balge Local Government Area of Borno State, following a heavy Boko Haram terrorists’ attack which left three UN workers dead.

It was learnt that the Boko Haram insurgents late on Thursday attacked the Rann Internally Displaced Persons camp, during which the UN workers were killed.

Two of the deceased workers were with UN agency; International Organisation for Migration, while the third victim was a doctor, working with the UN Children’s Fund. A female UN nurse was also reported to have been abducted by the insurgents.

Saturday PUNCH  learnt that apart from the officials, a yet-to-be-ascertained number of civilians in the camp were also killed while many others were injured during the gun battle.

The Boko Haram terrorists reportedly abducted three aid workers and civilians apart from the UN nurse.

Two of the abducted workers are reportedly working with the International Committee of the Red Cross – another major international relief agency in the North-East.

A military source said the terrorists stormed the unit of 3 Battalion, 7 Division, located in Rann at about 6 pm on Thursday and exchanged fire with the soldiers for about five hours.

Three soldiers and three mobile policemen were killed after the firefight.

The source claimed that the terrorists made away with an Armoured Personnel Carrier and a military truck from the unit in Rann.

The United Nations for the Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in a statement on Friday by its spokesperson, Samantha Newport, confirmed the death of its three workers, noting that three other workers were injured by the insurgents.

The UN said, “The Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, has condemned the killing of three aid workers in Rann town, Borno State, northeast Nigeria on Thursday night following an attack by a non-state armed group on the military facilities next to the town.

“Three aid workers were also injured in the attack, and a female nurse is missing and feared abducted. Two deceased aid workers were contractors with the International Organisation for Migration, working as coordinators in the camp for 55,000 internally displaced persons, who have fled their homes as a result of the ongoing conflict.

Sat, 03 Mar 2018
Ahead of the wedding of Governor Abdullahi Ganduje’s daughter, Fatima, and the son of Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State, Idris, in Kano, President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to lead other high-profile guests like Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and governors from several states to the occasion on Saturday.

Apart from government officials, technocrats, captains of industries and diplomats representing different nations are also expected to be a part of the ceremony.

Wife of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Oludolapo, had arrived Kano on Friday in company with wives of 15 state governors in preparation for the event.

The wedding Fatiha is expected to hold at the Kano Central Mosque, adjacent to the Emir’s palace.

Stern-looking security personnel had taken positions in strategic locations all across the city as of Friday while more were expected to arrive on Saturday for the event.

Commenting on the event’s security arrangement, Commissioner of Police, Kano Police Command Mr. Rabiu Yusuf, said that all necessary plans to ensure the safety of guests had been put in place.

He said, “We have deployed our men in strategic positions. Everywhere is calm and there is no cause for alarm.”

Sat, 03 Mar 2018
The Senate has expressed its readiness to override President Muhammadu Buhari’s veto on the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, which seeks to re-order the sequence of the polls during general elections.

The upper chamber of the National Assembly disclosed its intention to exercise its veto powers should Buhari withdraw assent to the bill.

Earlier on Wednesday, the House of Representatives had said the lawmakers would not hesitate to override the President’s decision if he vetoed the bill. The lower chamber had stated that there was no going back on the bill, particularly the provision on the re-ordering of elections ahead of the 2019 polls.

The Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Abdulrazak Namdas, told The PUNCH that members would not change their minds on the Electoral Act as amended, stating that the National Assembly expected Buhari to append his signature to the bill.

He had said, “We are serious about this issue and we are not ready to reverse it. For now, the bill has gone to Mr. President and we are waiting for his response. If his response is that he won’t sign, we are ready to override his veto.

“I can assure you that in both chambers of the National Assembly, we will get the required two-thirds majority to override the veto.”

Confirming the uniformity of the choice by the two chambers, the Deputy Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, who spoke to Saturday PUNCH on Friday, stated that the lawmakers were set to override the President on the bill.

According to him, the position of the Independent National Electoral Commission on the amendment was “irrelevant” to the National Assembly and its legislative functions.

Murray-Bruce said, “If you understand the principle of separation of powers, you will see that is not necessary. We make laws for the country. That is our job, to make laws. We make the law and they obey it. It is non-negotiable. We make laws for the country and everybody including the executive must obey the laws we make. It is not for them to decide which laws to obey or which ones to accept or not.

“If the bill is not signed within 30 days, then we will override it. It is not important if the President signs it or not. Once it is 30 days, we will override it. It is irrelevant. They have just 30 days. If he vetoes it in 30 days, we will override him.”

A controversial new Section 25 introduced into the Act changed the sequence of elections by making the National Assembly elections to come first, followed by the governorship and state House of Assembly elections, while the presidential poll will now come last.

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