Tag: Maiduguri

Chibok schoolgirls: Group of 21 ‘freed’ in Nigeria

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Nigeria confirms release of 21 Chibok girls

The spokesman for Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has tweeted confirmation of the Chibok girls’ release:

Twenty-one of the schoolgirls kidnapped in 2014 by Boko Haram in Chibok, Nigeria, have been freed, the president’s spokesman has confirmed.

Garba Shehu said the release was “the outcome of negotiations between the administration and Islamist militants”.

The freed students are currently with the security forces.

Boko Haram seized more than 270 students from a school in Chibok, north-east Nigeria – an act that provoked international condemnation.

It also sparked one of the biggest global social media campaigns, with tweeters using the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls.

President Muhammadu Buhari’s spokesman said on Twitter that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Swiss government had acted as mediators in the talks with Boko Haram.
Mr Shehu added that negotiations were continuing.

The students were released in exchange for four militants, the AFP news agency reports, quoting local sources.

It adds that the 21 schoolgirls were driven to a military base in ICRC vehicles, and the militants were also transported by the ICRC.

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“I can only weep, right now. You know that kind of cry that is a mix of multiple emotions,” Obiageli Ezekwesili, one of the leaders of the #BringBackOurGirls movement, has tweeted in response to the news.

The president has also tweeted a reaction saying that he welcomed the release “following successful negotiations”.

Up to now there had only been one confirmed release of a student kidnapped from Chibok.

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After that it was believed that 218 students were still missing. More than 50 managed to escape on the day they were captured.

Boko Haram has also kidnapped thousands of other people during its seven-year insurgency in north-east Nigeria.

More than 30,000 others have been killed, the government says, and hundreds of thousands have been forced to flee from their homes.

Source: BBC News



Nigeria Boko Haram: Scores of refugees starved to death – MSF

Nearly 200 refugees fleeing Boko Haram militants have starved to death over the past month in Bama, Nigeria, the medical charity MSF says.

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Aid workers say one in five children is severely malnourished

A “catastrophic humanitarian emergency” is unfolding at a camp it visited where 24,000 people have taken refuge.

Many inhabitants are traumatised and one in five children is suffering from acute malnutrition, MSF says.

The Islamist group’s seven-year rebellion has left 20,000 people dead and more than two million displaced.

Nigeria’s military has carried out a large-scale offensive against them but Boko Haram still attacks villages in the north-east, destroying homes and burning down wells.

Displaced people in Bama say new graves are appearing on a daily basis, according to a statement from MSF.

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MSF’s visit to the camp was only possible with an army escort

It quoted inhabitants as saying about 30 people died every day due to hunger or illness.

Although the area has been unsafe to travel through, MSF says one of its teams reached Bama on Tuesday.

It went in with a military convoy from the city of Maiduguri in Borno state.

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“This is the first time MSF has been able to access Bama, but we already know the needs of the people there are beyond critical,” said Ghada Hatim, MSF head of mission in Nigeria.

“We are treating malnourished children in medical facilities in Maiduguri and see the trauma on the faces of our patients who have witnessed and survived many horrors,” he said.

Source: BBC News



Nigeria Boko Haram: ‘Drugged woman told to bomb market’

A Nigerian woman has described being kidnapped and drugged by suspected Boko Haram jihadists who planned to use her as a suicide bomber at a market.

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Boko Haram has staged several attacks in Kano

Khadija Ibrahim, 30, told reporters she had been waiting for a bus to hospital in the north-eastern city of Maiduguri when she was seized by two men in a car who had offered her a lift.

While drugged, the mother of three was stripped and a suicide belt attached, she is quoted as saying.

She managed to flee her abductors.

Ms Ibrahim said after getting into the car, she fell unconscious when something was placed over her nose.

But she woke up, apparently without her captors realising, to hear one of them whispering to her that she was “going to do God’s work”.

The kidnappers told her she was being taken to the city of Kano to attack the Kantin Kwari textile market.

But when the car engine overheated, both kidnappers were distracted – one was examining the engine while the other went to look for water.

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Ms Ibrahim then managed to flee and a man in the Hotoro neighbourhood of Kano took her to the police.

She was also brought before the Kano state governor, Umar Ganduje, who told the media: “If this woman had not regained consciousness the story would have been different by now.”

The woman is now in “safe custody….undergoing post-traumatic rehabilitation,” Kano police spokesman Magaji Musa Majiya told the BBC’s Hausa service.

Police are trying to track down the vehicle in an attempt to find a second kidnapped girl, thought to be about 15 years old, he added.

The other woman in the car with her may also have been drugged, Ms Ibrahim suggested.

Boko Haram has staged numerous attacks using young women in the past year.

 

Source: BBC News



Chibok girls: Rescued Amina to meet President Buhari

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Amina was found with a four-month-old baby

The first of the missing Nigerian schoolgirls to be rescued since her capture two years ago is to meet President Muhammadu Buhari.

Amina Ali Nkeki, 19, was found with a baby by an army-backed vigilante group on Tuesday in the huge Sambisa Forest, close to the border with Cameroon.

She was one of 219 pupils missing since they were abducted from a secondary school in eastern Chibok in April 2014.

They were taken by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram.

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Amina Ali Nkeki was one of 25 abducted girls who came from the same town

On Wednesday, Amina and her four-month-old baby were flown by the Nigerian Air Force Maiduguri – the capital of Borno state.

Earlier, they were examined at a local military facility.

Amina – who has had an emotional reunion with her mother – is expected to arrive in the country’s capital Abuja later on Thursday to meet President Buhari.

Mr Buhari’s spokesman said the young woman would then be helped to reintegrate into society.

Amina was reportedly recognised by a fighter of the Civilian Joint Task Force (JTF), a vigilante group set up to help fight Boko Haram.

She was with a suspected Boko Haram fighter who is now in the Nigerian military’s custody. Named as Mohammed Hayatu, he said he was Amina’s husband.

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Hosea Abana Tsambido, the chairman of the Chibok community in the capital, Abuja, told the BBC that Amina had been found after venturing into the forest to search for firewood.

“She was saying… all the Chibok girls are still there in the Sambisa except six of them that have already died.”

During the April 2014 attack, Boko Haram gunmen arrived in Chibok late at night, then raided the school dormitories and loaded 276 girls on to trucks.

More than 50 managed to escape within hours, mostly by jumping off the lorries and running off into roadside bushes.

A video broadcast by CNN in April this year appeared to show some of the kidnapped schoolgirls alive.

Fifteen girls in black robes were pictured. They said they were being treated well but wanted to be with their families.

The video was allegedly shot on Christmas Day 2015 and some of the girls were identified by their parents.

The Chibok schoolgirls, many of whom are Christian, had previously not been seen since May 2014, when Boko Haram released a video of about 130 of them gathered together reciting the Koran.

The abduction led to the #BringBackOurGirls campaign, which was supported by US First Lady Michelle Obama and Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai.

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Source: BBC News



Chibok abduction: The Nigerian town that lost its girls

 

On the night that Jumai was kidnapped from the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, she called her dad.

She was in the back of a truck, packed in with her schoolmates as men with guns tried to take them away. Her father, Daniel, told her to jump out of the van – but then the line crackled and the signal dropped.

He ran out of the house to try to find phone signal. When he called back, a man answered: “Stop calling, your daughter has been taken away”. Daniel realised then that her fate was “in the hands of God”. The next day he tried to call again but the line was dead.

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Although some families of the missing girls were happy for us to use their photos and names, we have changed the names of Jumai and her father to protect their identity.

Until the girls were taken, the area around Chibok had been relatively peaceful. Islamist militant group Boko Haram had attacked villages further north and east but this busy market town had escaped.

Daniel, who lives in the nearby town of Mbalala, sent his daughter off to school on 14 April 2014 to sit the first of her final exams.

But late that night, in one of the most organised attacks of its insurgency, Boko Haram stormed the school compound and kidnapped Jumai, along with 275 of her classmates.

His daughter never managed to jump off the truck, like some girls who managed to escape. But Daniel has not yet given up hope that he will get her back. The two were very close.

“I understood her the best,” he says. “She worked harder than any of her three brothers and she rode a motorcycle like a man.”

A few months ago, Daniel decided to try his daughter’s phone number again. A man’s voice answered:

“This phone belongs to my wife, what do you want?”

“Who are you?” Daniel replied.

The man said: “Who are you?” Daniel ended the call.

A few days later he called the number again. Again the man answered.

“Why are you calling this number?” he asked.

Daniel lied: “I am calling you because I knew you from Maiduguri” – the largest city in Borno state.

“If you did know me you would not dial this number,” the man replied.

He called himself Amir Abdullahi – addressing himself as a militant leader. After that, Daniel didn’t call again.

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Empty town

Jumai is from Mbalala, a town about 11km south of Chibok and one of the worst-hit by the kidnapping. Twenty-five girls went missing from Mbalala alone.

Once a busy market town, where traders went from as far as Kano to buy beans and livestock, now the stalls are empty. The wooden bones of market stalls still fill the main square.

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These days the army restricts everything people do here – they can’t buy food in bulk or even cooking gas, generators can’t run at night, so people just go home to darkness.

With no schools and no work to do, young people no longer stay here if they have the choice. Boys leave to find work elsewhere, girls of age get married as soon as they can.

Plying the little trade they can, women sell homemade snacks from plastic tubs at the side of the road.

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When she wasn’t at school, Maryam Abubaker used to help her mum sell these snacks, bean cakes and noodles. On the day that Maryam was kidnapped, just before she headed off to school, she was helping her mum at the stall.

“She made $50,” her mum told us. “She is a great businesswoman. She was very lazy on the farm, but she was great with customers.”

That was the last moment that Binti had with her daughter.

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Maryam’s best friend was her half-sister Hansatu. They did everything together, they shared the same friends and even made matching outfits for each other.

Hansatu loved fashion and wanted to be a designer. Just before she was kidnapped, she begged her mum to buy her a sewing machine.

After she disappeared, her younger brothers and sisters would see the clothes she left behind, they would ask where she had gone and when she was coming back. Eventually her mother bundled the clothes into a bag to stop the questions.

She shows us the outfit that Hansatu was supposed to wear on her friend’s wedding day, a few days after the exam, which never happened.

“I am going to keep it until they come back,” she says.

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These belongings are the little that these parents have left to hold on to. Since their daughters were taken, they’ve received no information from the government on where they might be.

The last president refused to engage with the parents but even the new administration has done little to try to track them down. The truth is, no-one has any real idea where they might be.

For the family of Grace Paul, one photo is all they have to hold on to. Grace would be 19 now. She was a lovely singer, according to her dad. She loved maths and wanted to be a doctor.

The family have entrusted their last photo of her to their neighbour Aboku Samson to make copies of it for them.

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The girls at Chibok secondary school represented the most ambitious young people in their village.

In a country where less than half of young people finish secondary school, they were the few in their community pushing for an education. And some had to fight for it.

Aisha Greman was 17 when she was kidnapped. Her father says she refused to get married while she was at school, though she was asked.

She was a hard worker and wanted to get to university so she could be a health professional.

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Jinkai Yama was the oldest in a family of four girls. She desperately wanted to join the army and was a proud member of the cadettes girl’s brigade.

Her three younger sisters ask about her all the time. Last month, when there were reports that a girl from Chibok had been caught alive in Cameroon, they were convinced it was her. But the girl turned out to be from Bama, a town much further north.

Whenever it is dark and raining outside, Jinkai’s father closes his eyes and tries to imagine where his daughter is. Like many of the parents here, he has almost given up hope.

He and his wife don’t believe the government is doing anything to find them. If they did, her mother says, they would have sent a team to Cameroon straight away. Instead, it took three days.

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The mistrust is so deep that conspiracy theories abound.

Jumai’s father Daniel believes his daughter’s phone number is key to his daughter’s whereabouts but thinks the government can offer him no help at all. He refuses to hand over the number to them.

Attack warning

The army seldom come to Mbalala, but every Sunday they pass through to shoo small traders away from the marketplace. The region is under lockdown after a series of suicide attacks. They are afraid of any place that people might gather.

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When we visited, the army told us to watch out, that anyone could be a suicide bomber. By that, they even meant girls. Over the past two years, many of the suicide bombers used by Boko Haram have been girls.

They’ve attacked refugee camps and market places all over the region. In February, they attacked the market in Chibok town, just down the road, killing 13 people.

This fact hasn’t escaped the parents here, though it can’t be easy for them to accept. One mother told us how she felt about these accusations – that her daughter could be a killer. She refuses to believe it.

“I gave birth to that baby,” she said. “Even if she comes to me with a gun in her hand, let her kill me, but I will still welcome her.”

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Mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters wait for the girls to return