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More than a decade after insurgency, Borno residents may soon breathe fresh air



Borno Governor, Babagana Zulum


In the last week or so, the war against insurgency in the north east has been characterized by sustained onslaught against Boko Haram elements. These onslaughts have resulted in about a hundred terrorists surrendering to the military.

At the end of a security meeting held on Saturday in Maiduguri, the commissioner for information, Borno state Babakura Abba-Jato, expressed satisfaction with the growing number of insurgents surrendering to the military.

The governor, Babagana Zulum who chaired the meeting also expressed happiness with the exercise ongoing on the shores of the lake Chad which has produced the surrender of many insurgents.

Reports say these sustained operations led to the rescue of another Chibok girl, Ruth Ngladar Pogu.

According to a statement signed by Zulum’s spokesperson Isa Gusau, Ruth and her apparently repentant husband surrendered themselves to the Nigerian military on July 28 at a location in Bama.

Our correspondent also gathered that the repentant insurgents are also calling their friends to come out. According to the source; “That’s how we got the latest chibok girl. And I learnt more of the girls are coming out soon”

In the last 24 hours, the Nigerian Army has confirmed this with the disclosure that at least 1,000 Boko Haram/Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) members have laid down their arms and surrendered to its troops.

This according to the army has been made possible under the auspices of the Operation Safe Corridor, a multi-agency humanitarian effort, led by Defence Headquarters, that was launched in 2016 to encourage terrorists to surrender.

If these operations are sustained, the repentant insurgents re-integrated into the society and gainfully engaged, then a new lease of life may be in sight for Borno Residents who have over the last few years settled into a flight-ready lifestyle necessitated by reports of suicide bombings, attacks and killings. Since the war against insurgency began in Nigeria’s northeast in 2009, more than 30,000 people have died while millions have been displaced.

In this with our correspondent Seun Tokunbo-Peters, a journalist based in Maiduguri withheld) speaks on what life has been like for the Borno Residents, since 2015.

Interviewer: How many local governments in Borno state are realistically still under the control of Boko Haram?

Abadam and guzamala are local government still under the control of Boko Haram. Why we would say that they are still under the control of the enemy is because there are no civilians there. Abadam and guzamala is where tense military operations are still ongoing. So you find the military there. So it’s still a warzone. And even last month, the Governor was there. From Niger… He went to see Nigerian refugees there… Cause there are plans to repatriate them back to Nigeria. And so from there he moved to Guzamala to see what the situation is. And the military told him point blank why it’s not a good idea to bring civilians there.

There are a lot of Boko Haram elements that are living there and because of that, it isn’t a good idea to bring civilians. Because of the war situation, there is a likelihood of a lot of landmines there and it’s going to take a lot of work to bring civilians, it will take a lot of work to rid the place of the IEDs and to really push back the Boko Haram elements before you consider bringing in the civilians. So as it is, the military are not even safe enough, not to talk of bringing civilians. So Guzamala and Abadam are still places where Boko Haram have control over.

*Interviewer: Is it true that Boko Haram recently declared rulership over some Borno territories?*

Well, Boko Haram, they can do anything o! I know in the early days of Boko Haram, they had a direct contact with journalists that were there. I wasn’t there but I heard that about 8 or 10 journalists that were there, they called them on phone and they all clustered around the phone, put it on speaker and everyone was hearing what was being said. And everybody was recording it. So there’s always a channel through which they give out information. But these ones just came up and you know, the social media space these days… There’s a lot of fake news. Anyone could have thought of anything. And I won’t be surprised if a member of Boko Haram has leaked that kind of information. But then with the death of Shekau, you know Al barnawi, that’s the head of the other faction, he’s not a vocal person. He doesn’t make as much noise as Shekau was making. So how do you substantiate the source of that information? You know, it’s not from Al barnawi and Shekau is dead. It’s what it is. It’s just an unsubstantiated claim that we all saw on social media.

*Interviewer: Talk to us about how you live in Borno state, given the insurgency…*

Well for now, there’s a whole lot of difference.. coz I started living in Maiduguri in 2015. There’s a whole lot of difference between 2015 and now. When I got to Maiduguri, most of the roads were one way, they blocked the other road. In the community, instead of traffic police, there were a lot of military situated in short short distances conducting checks and all of those things you know.. curfew was 7pm, by 7pm everyone was in. In fact it was first 6pm when I first got to Maiduguri, then later 7pm, then 8, 9, later they moved it to 11. So that’s the yardstick for measuring improvement and how Boko Haram have been pushed out of Maiduguri. But then we’ve witnessed attacks, we’ve witnessed suicide attacks in mosques during Friday prayers, early morning prayers. We’ve witnessed suicide bombs in IDP camps, inside Maiduguri. And some of those incidents were very close to my house. I live inside GRA. During one of those incidents, we had to run away because it was so close. And then just this year, after a long time that we hadn’t witnessed those types of incident, this year, Boko Haram shot rocket launchers into town. People died, right inside town because it was close to NUJ where we hangout almost every day. Sometimes we even go there to work when you want to use the internet and other facilities. Maybe you don’t want to stay in other places, …. So we hangout there. There’s no day that you don’t find at least 10 colleagues in NUJ…. In fact we were calling people at NUJ when it happened. What is this we’re hearing? Are you guys safe, are you guys okay?

So you can’t go three to four kilometers outside Maiduguri without an escort and be confident, you just know that it’s a fifty-fifty thing, either you run into Boko Haram or they attack from the bushes.

Yes we are safe but I strongly believe that we are safe because Boko Haram is not particular about unleashing violence on Maiduguri but not because it is over, or not because they are not able to. And so because of that, we are security conscious. As a Maiduguri person, anywhere we go, we carry that attitude, that mindset anywhere we go. There’s always cash, we must have emergency cash. As emergency flags you know, you must always have cash. You must always have some emergency money that can take you to at least maybe a hundred to two hundred kilometers you know. And you must always have cash somewhere on you that no matter how broke you are, you don’t spend it, in case of emergency. And if it happens that you need to make a quick dash, so you don’t become stranded.

*Interviewer; So in the case of a real emergency, what will your exit strategy look like?*

At some point, a lot of women…remember I told you one of the times we had to live where I was leaving because of an attack that was coming from behind. The only thing I could pick was my laptop. Because I felt, well, if it is clothes, you can always buy clothes. So my camera man took his camera. For him, that was the most valuable thing to us. And then for ordinary people, you found that a lot women started buying gold, instead of keeping money in the bank, because when it really matters, you don’t have easy access to the money. So they buy gold.And then people keep hard currency. Hard currency like dollars. That way, you are able to save a lot of money in just one piece of paper. And if you have to exchange during an emergency, it gives you a sizeable amount of money. So these are the strategies that we started adopting. And even now that I am in Lagos, which is reasonably safe, I still have my hundred dollar bill because I don’t know what will happen and I cannot afford to be stranded.

*Interviewer: Thank you for your time.*

*Source: Thank you for the opportunity*

This is what life has been like for residents of Maiduguri up until July 2021. But if the military operations record more success stories, then dual carriage highways converted to one way traffic routes in over 5years will open up fully. Commerce will return to deserted towns, trading will improve, IDPs will return to their homesteads while farmers will be able to farm again.

For instance, the Baga international fish market in Kukawa LGA which is in the heart of Lake Chad will return, meaning the return of a source of livelihood for residents in the border area and a source of revenue for government.
Life will return to border towns like the Banki/Cameroon border in Bama local government and Gamboru Ngala which borders Cameroon, the Central African Republic and Niger republic which also means the return of human activity needed to drive cross-country commerce.
Also Damboa/Biu road will be reopened thereby marking the resumption of large scale farming activities.

This will indeed be a milestone achievement for the administration of Governor Babagana Zulum who has shown commitment to ending the war on insurgency and returning the remaining Chibok girls to their families.

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Crypto is a danger to world economy, tool for money laundry- EFCC Boss



Advancement in digital assets such as cryptocurrencies increasingly portends huge risks to the world economy, the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, has said.

This, according to Bawa, is partly because, many criminals now play significant roles in crypto-currency markets. He said the virtual currencies had become their preferred mediums of exchange.

Bawa spoke while delivering his keynote address Monday at the 38th Cambridge International Symposium on Economic Crime, themed, ‘Economic Crime-Who pays and who should pay?’

The event was organised by the Centre for International Documentation on Organised and Economic Crime (CIDOEC), Jesus College, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom.

EFCC’s spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, who captured some highlights of the event in a statement, quoting Bawa as saying, “The developments in new technologies and the growth of cryptocurrencies portrays a far greater danger to the world economy than ever before with many criminals playing significant roles in crypto-currency markets.

“Criminals now elect to transact or receive illegal monies (such as ransom money) for

cyber-attacks in cryptocurrencies with Bitcoins and Ethereum as the most commonly used mediums for these exchanges.”

He lamented that “the sophistication and complexity that defines the dynamics of economic crime in the 21st Century continues to evolve, spurred by technological advancement in the global economy that has become borderless and transnational.”

This he said had “inevitably led to the prioritisation of law enforcement action on crimes that drive Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) across the globe”.

‘No nation is immune’

According to the EFCC Boss, “economic crimes which are largely illegal acts committed for private gain affect the vital structures of global economies, causing significant damage to the Global Financial System and depriving developing nations of the needed resources for sustainable development”.

He noted that developed countries are not immune to the scourge, which, according to him, has “magnified with the proliferation of cyber-crimes which threatens the stability of Global Financial Institutions.”

Bawa said the platform of the event provided an opportunity to interrogate the challenges of economic crimes.

“As the victims of crime continue to suffer globally from the effects of financial crimes, either directly or indirectly as part of a social system, the determination of who pays or who should pay becomes a critical measure of the criminal justice system in place.”

He underlined the imperatives of an impartial judiciary in ensuring that “the perpetrators of acts and not the victims pay for their crimes.”

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had barred commercial banks and other financial institutions from transacting with cryptocurrency in fear of the risks it poses to investments and the economy at large.

Despite these actions, there have been reports over the use of these digital or virtual currencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum and others, with criminals turning it to a haven to launder proceeds of corruption, fraud, drug trafficking, and other heinous crimes.

PRecall that last month that the United States Department of Justice training over 50 Nigerian investigators and prosecutors to tackle cryptocurrency-enabled organised crimes.

Efforts to fight crypto-related crimes

While highlighting some of the transparency and accountability achievements of the current administration by President Muhammadu Buhari, Bawa pointed out that the EFCC, as the rallying point in the fight against economic crimes in Nigeria, has recorded important milestones in investigations, prosecutions and assets recovery.

“Since its establishment in 2003, the Commission has recorded no less than 3,500 convictions and recovered assets of significant value including properties in Nigeria, the UK, USA, and the UAE. All these have measurably contributed to the national efforts against economic crimes in Nigeria,” he said.

The EFCC charged participants to come up with practical solutions to curb the international threat of economic crimes.

Meanwhile, the chairperson of the symposium, Saul Froomkin, thanked the EFCC boss for his insightful presentation, and the support received from Nigeria in organising the event.

Participants at the symposium were drawn from law enforcement and security agencies, accountability institutions and partners across the world.

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SuperTV CEO: Lagos DPP to charge Chidinma Ojukwu, two others



A Yaba Chief Magistrates’ Court in Lagos State has adjourned to sept 29, further hearing in the murder of Usifo Ataga, the Chief Executive Officer of Super TV.

A 21-year-old student, Chidinma Ojukwu and one Adedapo Quadri were again presented. before the Chief Magistrate, Adeola Adedayo on Monday after they were ordered to be remanded for thirty days at the Kirikiri Correctional Centre last month.

Police Prosecutor, Cyril Ejiofor, informed the court that the Lagos State Directorate of Public Prosecution had issued a legal advice on the case, recommending their trial for murder which implies that the case will now be heard at the high court of Lagos state which has jurisdiction to hear matters of this nature

She, however, adjourned the case to await further Information from the DPP as to the status of the case at the high court that will now hear the matter.

The News Beat also gathered that the Lagos State Director of Public Prosecutions, Olayinka Adeyemi, recommended the release of four persons who are also standing trial at the Magistrate court for obstruction of justice and dishonestly receiving stolen belongings of the deceased .

The four persons are Babalola Disu, Olowu Ifeoluwa, Olutayo Abayomi, Nkechi Mogbo, Ojukwu Onoh, who is said to be Chidinma’s adopted father.

One Egbuchu Chioma who was allegedly found in possession of the deceased’s iPhone 7, and who had initially refused to release the phone on demand, is however to continue her trial.

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Omoyele Sowore’s younger brother shot dead



A file combo photo of Omoyele and Olajide Sowore

Sahara Reporters Publisher and ex-presidential candidate, Omoyele Sowore, has narrated how kidnappers shot dead his brother in the Okada area of Edo State on Saturday.

According to him, Olajide was killed in the early hours of Saturday on his way from the Igbinedion University where he was studying Pharmacy.

Sowore, in a tribute on his Facebook page, described his deceased brother who almost clocked 50 as an “out-of-the-box thinker”

He wrote, “My immediate younger brother, Olajide Sowore was today shot and killed near Okada in Edo state by reportedly herdsmen /kidnappers on his way from Igbinedion University in Edo sate where he is studying Pharmacy.

“They snuffed out the life yet another real human being!

“Rest In Power, “Dr. Mamiye!”

“This act in itself will not delay their day of justice.

“I travelled widely with you and our father as a little kid. You were the most loved robust kid I ever first knew. You, Mr. magnet had no enemy!

“You, Mr. Sunshine Foundation who made everyone happy.

“You, the boy who snuck out his older ones to parties, taking all the blames when our disciplinarian father found out.

“You, the guy who was an out-of-the-box thinker who decided school wasn’t for you and created you own genre of music and then turned around to go to school after you almost turned 50!

“You lived your life so that everyone could be alright but now assassinated by everything that’s not alright!

“Saddest day yet!”

Details later…


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