Chibok Girls May Have Been Slaughtered in Bama – UNHCR #BringBackOurGirls

An official of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Mr. Raad Zeid al Hussein, believes that the over 200 Chibok schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram a year ago may have had a sad ending.

He premised his verdict on the fact that the girls may have been part of the women who were murdered by the insurgents before they fled from Bama and other towns in Borno State just before the Nigerian military and allied forces from Chad and Niger recovered the territories.

Scores of abducted women who had been forcibly married by Boko Haram fighters were slaughtered last month as the military advanced towards Bama and other towns to recapture the territories.

Eyewitnesses said that the women were killed by the insurgents to prevent them from getting remarried to what they termed “infidels” after their release.

Aligning with the report on the murder of scores of women, Al Hussein said last week that Boko Haram murdered people who were captives, including women and girls who were taken as “wives” in their flight against the advancing forces.

According to the senior official with the UNHCR, various reports which arrived at his department in Geneva showed that the recent recovery of territories in northeastern Nigeria “has brought to light macabre scenes of mass graves and more obvious signs of killings by Boko Haram”.

These reports include the “…murder of the wives of combatants, women and girls actually held in slavery,” he said without elaborating.

The use of children by Boko Haram as “expendable cannon meat” and human bombs could, if confirmed, constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity, the official added.

Al Hussein also said there are “persistent and credible reports” of serious violations by the Nigerian security forces and other countries in their fight against Boko Haram, and called for “complete and fully transparent investigations” by the authorities.

The report by UNHRC may explain the mystery surrounding the whereabouts of the Chibok girls despite the recapture of Gwoza, the de facto headquarters of the terrorists’ caliphate, as well as the disappearance of the sect’s leader Abubakar Shekau.

Military sources, who spoke to THISDAY at the weekend in Maiduguri, said neither the girls nor Shekau had been sighted since the liberation of Gwoza, which was the epicentre of the sect’s operations.

The Nigerian military on the eve of the presidential and National Assembly elections had announced the recapture of the strategic town but was silent on the abducted Chibok girls and seemingly elusive Shekau.

The Director of Defence Information (DDI), Maj-Gen. Chris Olukolade, had in a joint press conference with the spokespersons of the Nigerian Army, Navy and Air Force, confirmed the recapture of the former terrorist stronghold.

Many were however disappointed to find out that contrary to expectations before the liberation of Gwoza, there was no mention of the girls or Shekau who is believed to be on the run.

Military sources, who spoke to THISDAY, said the mystery surrounding the Chibok girls was yet to be unraveled.

However, the strongest lead now is that the girls might have been amongst the unfortunate women who were slaughtered and dumped inside wells in Bama.

“As for Shekau, you are aware that the man suspected to have been killed or fatally wounded two years ago and his double was confirmed killed a year later, and this current impostor is yet to be fully unmasked.

“Unfortunately, on the Chibok girls, there is a strong lead that they might be among the women who were slaughtered by the fleeing terrorists and dumped into those wells in Bama.

“Remember the girls were said to have been forcibly converted to Islam and married off as trophies to those terrorists. We have a strong suspicion that they are part of those women butchered in Bama and other parts of the territories, which were under their captivity.

“Also, some of these terrorists are currently retreating to the border towns and some have successfully mingled into various towns and villages,” the source said.

Another senior military officer also informed THISDAY that while the troops had freed some women from Gwoza and other surrounding towns, they could not however ascertain if any of the Chibok girls were among them.

He said interrogations were ongoing, as there were other women who were released from the towns recaptured from the Boko Haram terrorists other than the Chibok girls.

He also explained that it is proving difficult to ascertain if the women massacred and dumped in the wells were actually the Chibok girls because the bodies were in various states of decomposition by the time they were discovered.

“Even other communities whose women and girls were kidnapped are not comfortable with the attention being given to the Chibok girls, while leaving their cases in the dark,” he said.

Last week, the Nigerian military confirmed the rescue of a large number of vulnerable women and elderly locked up by the retreating Boko Haram terrorists in the liberated town of Gwoza.

Similarly, THISDAY learnt that sustained aerial surveillance of Gwoza and other liberated areas, as well as intensive mop-up operations to clear out the remnants of Boko Haram insurgents was ongoing.

On Sunday, there were several aerial operations in support of the ground troops to consolidate the liberated towns and villages.

In this regard, Sambisa forest which straddles four liberated local government areas of Bama, Mongonu, Konduga and Gwoza, was being bombarded from the air to knock out any terrorist camp and installations.

“What I can tell you is that there is very little presence of the terrorists in those areas but we have intensified the bombardments,” a military source revealed.

Despite the bombardment of Sambisa forest, at least four people were killed Saturday when suspected Boko Haram fighters raided a local market in a village near Maiduguri, security sources said.

Scores of Boko Haram gunmen stormed Kayamla village, 20 kilometres (12.5 miles) from Maiduguri, capital of restive Borno State, and opened fire on a weekly market, killing four traders, a senior security official in Maiduguri told AFP.

“It was obvious they were looking for food to replenish their supplies because they didn’t target residents as they normally would,” the official said.

The attack on the village was the sixth in as many months, according to vigilantes in the area.

Troops and vigilantes mobilised from the nearby town of Konduga to the village but the attackers left before the troops arrived, said Abubakar Sani, who was among the vigilantes that accompanied troops to the village.

“When we reached Kayamla the gunmen had left,” Sani said.

“We found four dead traders in the deserted market and we were told by residents that the attackers took away food supplies and livestock,” he said.

This was the first Boko Haram raid in a few days, although an explosion outside a bus station in Gombe State on Thursday that killed 10 people was blamed on the Islamists.

Sweeping offensives against the Islamists by a regional coalition involving troops from Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroun appear to have substantially weakened Boko Haram’s capabilities.

Meanwhile, leaders of Central and West African states will hold a summit on April 8 to try to draw up a joint strategy against the threat posed by Boko Haram, a statement from the organisers said on Sunday.

It will be the first meeting of its kind since Nigeria’s election a week ago which was won by Muhammadu Buhari, a former military leader who has vowed to rid his country of the “terror” of Boko Haram.

The meeting in Malabo, capital of Equatorial Guinea, is being jointly organised by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).

“In the face of the mounting and increasingly bloody attacks by the fundamentalists against Nigeria, Niger, Cameroun and Chad and the serious consequences for these countries, and the real risk of destabilising Western and Central Africa, the two organisations have decided to take action,” the ECOWAS statement said

Source – www.Thisdaylive.com

#KakandaTemple ~ The Dangerous Shows for 2015

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As the period running up to the 2011 presidential election portended omens of tragedy for intuitive citizens, the current period, four years later, should rattle even those who were then indifferent. This must be a phase for overcoming whatever instigated their moral dilemma.

My concern about Nigeria became disturbed this week on sighting a Borno Express cross-country bus with a poster of Governor Kashim Shettima, seeking re-election, seemingly seeking another term of terrorised living in office. How is it that our politicians, crying that their Office threatens their existence and sanity, are desperate to remain in that same Office? It must be a sort of greed for the trappings of State Power.

The main culprit of this dangerous greed is the President, under whom the country has lost its bearing, so much so that even his most indecorous media aides, confused in the social media, are now calling on “God”, advising citizens to “pray” for an end to what such aides’ principals were elected, and granted enormous State resources, to curb. And for lack of explanations for their principals’ legendary cluelessness, they’ve been tweeting verses from the Bible, to appeal to the sentiments of the gullible.

But a show of greed and shame, even more indicative and damning than the President and the Governor’s desperate bid to remain in power is clearly that of the citizens “procured”, as Dr. Oby Ezekwesili once said of hired protesters, to champion the re-election campaign of the same President Goodluck Jonathan whose administration, for seeming incapability, has not heeded the plea to rescue the hundreds of his subjects who have been in captivity for the past 150 days! And to highlight their inhumanity, these procured protesters launched #BringBackGoodluck2015 billboards, signs and hashtags to ridicule the demands of unrelenting #BringBackOurGirls.

That unpardonable blasphemy drew the outrage of the civil society, the main opposition party and even the fence-sitting observers. But it was Washington Post’s globalisation of the undermined citizens’ outrage in its coverage of that PR blunder, referring to it as “the most inappropriate political hashtag of the year”, that finally jostled the presidency, forcing the President to react – to lie, that is – that he was ignorant of that well-publicised campaign for his re-election, even though the campaign was officially recognised by the Presidency, having been fanatically promoted by the President’s politically rash Senior Special Assistant Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe.

What further frustrates the possibility of ousting the cunning government or having citizens forming alliances against it, are the divisive publications on the complicity of some friends and allies of the government revealed by an Australian named Stephen Davis, and uncritically popularised by some prominent elements of the main opposition party, the APC.

Instead of having Davis’ so-called revelations adopted for careful analysis, Nigerians, including a prominent and prominently diminutive member of the opposition, contributed to the confusion by not only endorsing the Australian’s claims that certain people, both Muslim and Christian, were responsible for funding of the Boko Haram insurgents, but that the sect also has political and Christian variants, backing the claims up with lame inferences that can only appeal to the senses of a unintelligent conspiracy theorist, an unthinking escapist.

Sadly, some of these people practice, or have backgrounds in, Law. This makes me wonder, why would a lawyer, trained in challenging facts, also embark on adopting uncorroborated claims, conspiracy theories, as proofs or confirmations of certain suspicions? Even in the court of law, circumstantial evidences are not adopted as unchallenged proofs, so sharing inferences as proofs is a clear mischief. You don’t spend these five years in the department of Law, and then memorably torturous months at the law school, only to end up going against the ethics of your training in such an outrageous way. I thought lawyers should be our models in obsessing about evidences and the absence of them, even in our public discourse?

If a lawyer’s mindset had been employed in assessing these confusing claims, even Davis wouldn’t have made a newspaper headline. And this instinct would’ve challenged us to ask whether Boko Haram that operates in secret, would reveal the sources of its funds to a negotiating stranger – especially to a white man who, as Christian or atheist, western, and believer in liberal democracy, is a portrait of all they aspire to crush? The Boko Haram didn’t remain elusive this long by being tactically stupid, as portrayed by Davis. And if its leaders were as careless with details of their operations as also portrayed by Davis, they would’ve been crushed long ago!

There’s a need for us, and especially the opposition party, to employ reason, instead of sentiments, in promoting some of these embarrassingly petty conspiracy theories. The opposition must understand that if you fight this government with flawed statistics and hearsays and polarisation, you’re just making the return to Aso Rock easier for GEJ. If they want to replace GEJ, whose Ph.D I now suspect is in divisive politics, on the back of polarising sentiments, then they must be very prepared for an embarrassing defeat in 2015. What keeps APC going are sympathies, sympathies of a people in need of change, sympathies of a people willing to give them a chance despite obvious flaws. But it needs men of model conduct representing its interests in the media.

My only fear, which has become a looming apparition now, is the memory of the gory revolts that followed the announcements of the results of 2011 presidential election in the north. We must not prepare these impressionable members of the lower-class for another horror history, which is what some of these politicians do by promoting unverified claims to gain relevance and be seen as “rights ambassadors”, whereas they’re everything but selfless in their pursuits of political power.

But the underclass is not the only trouble with electing ideal candidates in Nigeria. While poverty dispossesses the underclass of ability to be rational, sycophancy ravages the middle-class. This way, with these syndromes, the sycophantic members of the middle-class contracted by the government to form about 8000 pro-Jonathan campaign groups, also procured the cheaper under-class as foot-soldiers of Transformation Actors of Nigeria, which they prefer to call “Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria”, and other 7999 groups.

Today, in its nearly 64 years in existence, the main thriving industry in Nigeria, with productivity higher than the Oil industry, is Sycophancy. It represses existing and proposed political resistance. The poverty of the underclass and the sycophancy of the middle-class are the reason idealism is DOA in Nigeria. Sometimes, in pursuits of idealism, you go out campaigning for core visionary leaders, and return home only to realise that your lunch was made with “gifts” by, or bought with money given, by a fraudulently prebendal politician.

This is how the two social classes betray promising leaders.

The last time Gani Fawehinmi aspired to lead this country, our rejection of his bid was almost unanimous. And I doubt if there has ever been a politically awakened individual who had stood up for the masses, in the race to the Office of the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, comparable to the model civil rights advocate.

In fact, if our politics is sincerely all about “personality”, Buhari himself cannot beat Gani, who resisted even the military extremisms of the Buharis. We’re in a country where idealism is a myth, but this shouldn’t be an excuse to allow hired paupers and contracted sycophants forestall our struggle for change.

So, we need to task our presidential candidates to offer us something other than romanticisations of their personalities, something concrete, an implementable development plan for redeeming this changing Nigeria. This “I did not steal a kobo” campaign is beginning to sound like GEJ’s “I had no shoes” scam of that unfortunate 2011. May God save us from us!

By Gimba Kakanda

@gimbakakanda on Twitter