Northeast: The Risks Of Losing A Generation Of Boys and Girls By Netsanet Belay
Mhad just returned from school and was busy cooking the day that four Boko Haram fighters came to her home in a village in Borno State. When her dad heard the sound of bikes, he dashed into the house and hid under the bed. It was an effort in futility. One of the fighters dragged him out and took him to a tree in the compound. As he pleaded for his life, one of the militants cut his throat. He died as his family watched in horror. The fighters abducted M’s mother and five siblings, but not M, and drove off.
This was back in 2014. Six years later, M does not know the whereabouts of family. Or if they are still alive. She is one of the thousands of children left traumatised by the decade-long armed conflict in northeast Nigeria. Both sides – Boko Haram and the Nigerian military – continue to commit war crimes, including against children, regularly.
Nigerian authorities should acknowledge these crimes and start paving a new path rooted in human rights.
Assault on childhood
Boko Haram’s tactics and ideology have been an assault on childhood in northeast Nigeria. Like M, many have witnessed the group kill their parents or siblings. Others have been abducted and spent years in captivity, often forced to fight or serve as a “wife”. These abductions, forced recruitment and forced marriage constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity. Their scale appears to have often been underestimated. Both domestically and internationally, the focus has often been on specific, high-profile incidents, ignoring the persistent and ongoing nature of such atrocities.
Children and adults alike risk death to escape Boko Haram. Yet, for many, their trauma is compounded by the Nigerian authorities. The military, itself responsible for abuses, has unlawfully detained thousands of boys and girls coming out of Boko Haram territory, often with no evidence the child was affiliated with the group, much less that they committed crimes. In most cases, no charges are brought, even as children are held for months or years. Due process is routinely flouted. The full scale of child detention is unknown as the military has repeatedly denied access to detention facilities to the UN and other independent observers.
Conditions in military detention facilities are universally deplorable. There is severe overcrowding, poor sanitation, insufficient food and water, and sexual violence. Many children have been subjected to beatings and other forms of torture to extract “confessions” of involvement with Boko Haram. The inhumane conditions of military detention have often led to serious illness, disease and, in many cases, death.
A safe corridor that isn’t safe
In 2016, the Nigerian federal government launched Operation Safe Corridor. This demobilisation, disassociation, reintegration, and reconciliation (DDRR) programme brings men and boys to a detention facility 30km outside Gombe. There, they undergo vocational training, religious instruction, and other activities meant to start the reintegration process. Although told the programme will last six months, most have been held for more than one year.
Operation Safe Corridor has made some achievements, including in psychosocial support. The military is also more transparent about this DDRR programme than other aspects of its operations. But despite this, Safe Corridor remains beset by human rights violations. Above all, it marks a continuation of the widespread unlawful detention of men and boys. Almost everyone held in Safe Corridor is there absent a judicial decision or any other legal basis.
Swiftly reverse course
The federal government, including the military, needs to swiftly end its unlawful detention of children. It should recognise that detaining children is appropriate only as a last resort. It should ensure the prosecution of those who have overseen widespread torture and other ill-treatment, often leading to deaths in custody. And it should fulfil its responsibility to “promote physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration” of children who have suffered during the conflict, whether at the hands of Boko Haram, Nigerian military, or both.
That means children coming out of Boko Haram territory must be able to access education and psychosocial support, not be locked away for years in grossly inhumane detention cells. UNICEF has reported that only around 25% of children in Borno State are in school, a devastating failure.
Finally, in its rehabilitation programmes and other support to people affected by the conflict, the Nigerian authorities must ensure gender equity. Though the patterns of violations differ, women and girls have been hit as hard. Yet most programmes, including Safe Corridor, seem targeted at men and boys, while the initiatives that do target women and girls are far narrower – exacerbating existing power structures and inequalities in the northeast.
Absent an approach rooted in human rights, Nigeria risks losing a generation of boys and girls.
Netsanet Belay is the Research and Advocacy Director at Amnesty International.
Over 8,000 Of Our Members Have Been Killed By Boko Haram— Church Of The Brethren
The Church of the Brethren, also known as 'Eklesiyar Yan'uwa a Nigeria' (EYN), said 8,370 members of the denomination have been killed since the outbreak of Boko Haram violence.
EYN, which is rooted in Nigeria's northeast, with headquarters in Adamawa State, has about 1.5 million members worshipping in its branches mostly across the North-East.
President of the EYN, Rev Joel Billi, who addressed a world press conference on Thursday, in Yola, the Adamawa state capital, chronicled how insurgency had affected the church.
He said, "Apart from more than 8,370 members and eight pastors of the EYN who were killed by Boko Haram, over 700,000 members were displaced.
"53 of the 60 District Church Councils of the EYN were directly affected by insurgency, with 300 of the 586 branches either burnt or damaged by Boko Haram. An uncountable number of houses of our members were either burnt or looted.”
The EYN President added that many members of the church had been abducted and that 217 of the abducted 276 Chibok school girls belong to the EYN family.
He urged President Muhammadu Buhari and governors of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states to ensure the rescue of the remaining Chibok girls as well as Leah Sheribu, Alice Loksha and hundreds abducted by Boko Haram.
He lamented that many communities, especially communities in Gworza local government area of Borno State, had been deserted after repeated Boko Haram attacks.
The EYN President appealed to Buhari to station a battalion of soldiers there so that residents who fled from attacks and are now in refugee camps in Cameroon or IDP camps across Nigeria could return home.
He also called on the government to reconstruct the houses, schools and worship places destroyed by the insurgents.
Soldiers Attack Borno COVID-19 Committee Enforcing Lockdown, Kill One, Injure Four
One person was reported killed and four others injured after Nigerian soldiers attached to the 7 Division attacked officials of the COVID-19 Committee at Auno checkpoint in Borno State.
The state Attorney-General, Kakashehu Lawal, and Commissioner for Health, Dr Salisu Kawaya-Bura, were among the committee members when the incident occurred.
The soldiers, disregarding the ongoing interstate travel ban, forced their way through the entrance gate to Borno and allowed hundreds of illegal travellers into the town.
The armed personnel, who arrived in three gun trucks, allegedly threatened to open fire on the COVID-19 Committee members.
Speaking with a journalist, Lawal alleged that the soldiers forced their way by pulling down the barricade preventing non-essential travellers into the state by the committee.
He said that the troops in three Hilux gun trucks, who claimed to be on a mission to repel Boko Haram attack on Gubio, fatally struck the convoy of the Rapid Response Squad enforcing the lockdown.
He said that the force of the collision propelled the RRS Hilux vehicle down the roadway, causing it to summersault and killing one person while injuring three security men.
"After hitting the vehicle, the soldiers pointed their gun trucks at us and began assaulting us.
"One of the soldiers looked at me and told me "To hell with democracy, useless democracy”.
"Others raised their guns at us, while one of them removed the cap of a policeman attached to the team.
"A cameraman attached to the team from the deputy governor's office was also attacked and beaten while his camera was seized by the soldiers," Lawan said.
The deputy governor, Umar Kadafur, who chairs the COVID-19 committee, arrived at the scene of the faceoff and called the garrison commander to meet him at the scene.
Kadafur also ordered the return of the seized video camera while condemning the action of the soldiers.
The garrison commander, who apologised for the action of the soldiers, said the perpetrators have been identified and would face disciplinary action.
The garrison commander also said that the officer commanding the soldiers that violated the restriction order said they acted based on the fact that incoming travellers trying to escape the committee had gathered at a location and the soldiers were worried that they could come under attack by Boko Haram insurgents.
Latest news Borno - here are the news of nearby cities
Nigerian Government Accused Of Abandoning Chibok Girls On Scholarship At American University Yola
The Kibaku (Chibok) Area Development Association (KADA) has accused Nigerian Government of abandoning and neglecting the Chibok Girls who enrolled for scholarship programme at American University of Nigeria, Yola, Adamawa State.
The group said 10 out of them had pulled out of the programme out of frustration.
In a statement on Tuesday jointly signed by Dauda Ndirpaya Iliya and Manasseh Allen, the National President and Director of Media and Publicity respectively of the association said the girls were discriminated against and not allowed to mingle, interact, and socialise with other students.
The group added that the Nigerian Government had frustrated many foreign and local assistance that came the way of the girls.
The group explained that many schools abroad and voluntary organisations, who have offered to provide them with scholarships were hindered and sabotaged by the Buhari's government.
The statement added that Chibok Government Secondary School project have been abandoned and now a shadow of itself since the terrorists carried out the attack on April 2014.
The statement reads, "Our returned daughters enrolled at the American University of Nigeria (AUN) Yola, have not made much progress and feel frustrated not understanding the direction of things or being properly briefed of their future.
"Ten of them have out of frustration left the programme, they are Laraba Mamman, Mwa Daniel, Rachael Nkeki (who are now married), Saraya Yanga, Philomena Dauda, Sarah Nkeki, Asabe Lawan, Glory Mainta, Talatu Adamu, and Lydia Habila.
"Neither the families nor the Kibaku community have been briefed and informed by the Federal Government on rescue efforts or the whereabouts of our daughters since the last batch of 82 returned on 7 May, 2017.
"Except the messages by President Muhammadu Buhari released every 13 April since then, on the eve of the 14 April commemoration. These messages are basically same copy-and-paste with minor alterations year in, year out."
Upper Benue River Basin Authority MD Continues To Award Fraudulent Contracts After Tenure Ends— Whistleblower
Managing Director of Upper Benue River Basin Development Authority, Abubakar Mu'azu, has continued to award contracts, three weeks after his tenure elapsed on June 6, 2020, a whistleblower has said.
The Upper Benue River Basin Development Authority is a federal agency in Adamawa State.
On June 26, 2020, SaharaReporters had reported that tension was mounting in the federal parastatal, following the refusal of Mu'azu, to vacate office three weeks after the expiration of his tenure.
A whistleblower within the agency, Bashiru Ahmed, had revealed that Mu'azu had from June 7, 2020, a day after the vacuum was created in his office, allegedly awarded several contracts and approved payments, running into hundreds of millions of naira.
It was further alleged that even before the end of his tenure, the former MD had awarded over N2 billion contracts, laced with irregularities and fraud.
The whistleblower had revealed that those contracts were awarded and payments effected without any recourse to the tenders board. He always bypassed the management board in taking decisions, the whistleblower claimed.
In a petition addressed to the Chairman of Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, 39 point corruption allegations were raised against him.
The petition, seen by SaharaReporters, reads in parts: "Fraudulent awards of contracts without advertisement as required by the Public Procurement Act, 2007.
"Numan Irrigation Project: The Authority does not have this project, it is nonexistent, yet, on yearly basis, provision was fraudulently made and monies siphoned by the MD and his cronies, to the tune of over N200 million.
"Ledde-Zenge dam: This is a practical show of shame with no engineering design, standard bills and genuine contractor, engineer, supervisor. This is the mother of all impunity. The alleged structure is not close to being a dam, and yet N250 million was spent with no known contractor, supervisor, and so on.
"Dukku erosion control: The assumed financier and contractor of this project are unknown and yet the colossal sum of money in the excess of N200 million has so far been spent with sustainable provisions being made under the same project name.
"Under the name of dredging and maintenance of the unlined area of the canal, about N500 million has been spent within four years with continuous spending and yet, no lasting solution other than the continuation of resource wastage.”
To sustain his alleged illegalities, Muazu was said to have appointed a seconded Grade Level 10 officer with no knowledge of procurement to serve as the Head of the Authority’s Procurement Unit.
Muazu, it was further gathered, sidelined a chartered Grade Level 17 staff, and made a Grade Level 14 Officer to be the Head of Finance and Accounts of the Authority.
Ahmed had further alleged that Mu'azu was being shielded by the Minister of Water Resources, Adamu Suleiman.
He, therefore, called on President Muhammadu Buhari, to do the needful and force Mu'azu out just as he urged ICPC and other anti-graft agencies to investigate the issues raised.
BREAKING: Monarch Of Bachama Kingdom In Adamawa State, Stephen, Is Dead
Colonel Honest Irmiya Stephen (retd), the paramount ruler of Bachama Kingdom in Adamawa State, is dead.
The monarch was said to have died in the early hours of Sunday in his sleep.
Spokesperson for the kingdom, Chief Timawus Mathias, said, "Homun Honest died in the late hours of the night June 28th 2020 at his palace in Numan, Adamawa State, following a brief illness.
"Already the funeral rights are well underway according to Bachama tradition in Lamurde, the kingdom's headquarters.
"He received his staff of office on 15 Dec 2013 from the then Adamawa State Governor Murtala Nyako. Homun Honest Irmiya Stephen is 66 years old
"Homun (King) Honest Irmiya Stephen, Kwire Mana Kpafrato II, a retired officer of the Nigerian Army who ascended the throne in 2012 succeeding Homun Asaph Zadok (late)."
The late traditional ruler, who retired as a colonel in the Nigerian Army, aspired for the Senate seat (PDP) in 2007 before ascending the throne.
Taraba declares three-day holiday for council poll
Taraba Government has declared Monday June 29, Tuesday June 30 and Wednesday July 1, as public holidays to enable residents of the state participate in the local government council poll slated for June 30, 2020.
This was contained in a statement by Alhaji Hassan Mijinyawa, Chief Press Secretary to Gov. Darius Ishaku, on Monday in Jalingo.
“The public holiday is to enable civil servants to travel to their respective wards and vote during the local government election slated for Tuesday, June 30, 2020.
“The governor also urged people of the state to be orderly, law abiding and conduct themselves peacefully while discharging their civic responsibilities,” he said.
Meanwhile, a coalition of Civil Society Organisations under the auspices of Eyes on Democracy of Nigeria (EDON) has activated a situation room to monitor the election to ensure that it was free, fair and credible.
Alhaji Muktar Madaki, the State EDON Chairman, in a statement on Monday, said that a comprehensive report on the electoral process would be made after the election.
“We have been observing the preparations by Taraba State Independent Electoral Commission (TSIEC) and we are so far satisfied with the preparations.
“It now behoves on the people to come out in large numbers to exercise their franchise as responsible citizens.
“We are also calling on security agencies to be civil during the conduct of the election and operate within the ambit of their engagement in regards to electoral matters.
“We also call of TSIEC to ensure that the election is credible, peaceful, free and fair,” he said.
Middle Belt group demands rescue of 112 Chibok girls
The Middle Belt Forum has accused the Federal Government of neglecting the rescue process of the remaining 112 Chibok School girls who were kidnapped by Boko Haram.
A total of 219 schoolgirls were said to have been abducted by Boko Haram terrorists while writing their final Senior Secondary Certificate Examinations on April 14, 2014.
The organisation said they were rescued in two batches of 21 and 82, while four escaped individually at different times within the six years of their captivity in the terrorists’ den.
The MBF in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Isuwa Dogo, asked the government to rescue the remaining girls in captivity.
It called on President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure the destroyed school where the girls were kidnapped from be completely rebuilt and open for prospective school-age children as the Chibok School is the only secondary school in Chibok Local Government Area.
It said, “The future can only be brightened through the education of citizens. The confusion that has trailed the academic careers of these rescued school girls should be resolved. We call on President Buhari to ensure the safe return of the remaining 112 school girls who are still under the captivity of Boko Haram.”
Dogo added, “The rescued girls, comprising 103 in number, were initially transferred to the Women Development Centre, Abuja, where they underwent Psychosocial Support and treatment for Post Stress Traumatic Disorder facilitated by the United Nations Population Fund.
“Since May 2017 when they were rescued, rehabilitated and sent to the American University of Nigeria, Yola, to prepare them to rewrite their SSCE, and proceed to various pre-degree programmes, neither the re-siting of the SSCE nor the pre-degree programme seen the light of day.
“Despite advice by the parents of the girls, the Chibok Community and the #BringBackOurGirls. advocacy group that the Office of the Vice President be charged with the responsibility of monitoring the education of the kidnapped girls, the Federal Government maintained deaf ears and transferred the matter to the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs.
“It is ill-fated that the Federal Government abdicated its responsibility in fulfilling its obligations to the girls as promised by President Muhammadu Buhari. More worrisome, the government has refused to allow well-meaning individuals and organizations to come to the aid of the girls. The Forum recalls that both local and international organizations attempted to bring respite and rescue the career of these girls from the dunghill of hopelessness and despair.”