Tag Archives: Borno State

Nigerian Parliament Rejects Extension of Emergency Rule

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On Thursday, Nigerian police fired teargas inside parliament in an apparent attempt to block opposition lawmakers, including the speaker of the lower house, from entering for a key security vote. In the midst of the chaos, lower house members rejected a government request to extend emergency rule in the northeast region, which has been hit by Boko Haram attacks, and announced that the special powers had expired. The country’s main opposition indicated Thursday that it opposed prolonging the state of emergency, describing it as a complete failure that had not curbed the Islamist violence. The decision to vote against the emergency ruling came as local government officials and residents reported that Boko Haram militants were suspected of killing at least 45 people on Wednesday in an attack on the village of Azaya Kura in the Mafa area of Borno state.

Earlier in the week, the Nigerian government announced that it would seek to extend emergency rule in the restive northeastern region of the country for another six months, effectively meaning that the measures will likely be in force for February’s presidential elections. On Monday, Justice Minster Mohammed Bello Adoke confirmed that officials have “…reviewed the state of emergency declared in three states and the government will be requesting the national assembly to grant the extension,” adding that the extension request will likely be given to lawmakers on Tuesday.

In May 2013, President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in the northeastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, stating that the military temporarily needed enhanced powers in order to end Boko Haram’s uprising. Despite mounting evidence that the measures had done nothing in order to ease the crisis, lawmakers in November 2013 and May 2014 approved two extension requests. On Wednesday however Nigerian Senators demanded to hear testimony from top military brass before voting on the government’s request for a third extension of the emergency rule. Many critics have indicated that the emergency rule has been a complete failure as violence has worsened since the emergency rule was imposed in May last year. Lawmakers in the upper house have so far refused to vote on the extension, with opposition senator Kabiru Gaya from northern Kano state telling journalists “I believe that we have to wait until we hear from the service chiefs, if they are able to answer our questions then we can take the next step.” The speaker of the lower house, Aminu Tambuwal, later called on lawmakers from that body of government back from recess in order to hold an emergency vote on the extension on Thursday.

The focus of the police aggression on Thursday appears to have been aimed at lower house speaker Aminu Tambuwal, whose defection to the All Progressives Congress (APC) party last month outraged the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Since then, the PDP had attempted to remove Tambuwal from the speaker’s chair and has stripped him of his security detail. On the ground sources reported that police repeatedly tried to stop Tambuwal, and 40 other lawmakers, from approaching the main gate of parliament. While the group managed the pass several police barricades, officers later locked the gate that leads into the parliament complex resulting in lawmakers pushing aggressively on the bars to force their way through, with some scaling the gate. According to police spokesman Emmanuel Ojukwu, officers were initially acting on reports that “hoodlums and thugs” had planned an “invasion” of parliament, adding that Tambuwal and his allied had defied police orders, assaulted officers and were to blame for the escalation in tensions. While Senate President David Mark ordered the immediate closure of both chambers over the teargas incident, with the chambers of the National Assembly remaining closed until Tuesday, House of Representatives spokesman Zakaria Mohammed later disclosed that the chamber had held a brief session before the parliament was shut down, where they decided to reject the extension of the state of emergency. The reluctance to sign off on the extension highlights the mounting criticism of the President’s state of emergency policy, with opposition senators on Tuesday describing the strategy as “a failure.”

In recent months, the crisis in northeastern Nigeria has deepened, with Boko Haram capturing and holding several key towns in the states under the emergency rule. Boko Haram is now believed to be in control of roughly two dozen towns in the region and appears to be attempting to position itself as a rebel authority in certain areas. While President Jonathan’s critics initially applauded the state of emergency, describing it as a sign that he was finally treating the Boko Haram threat with urgency, many now state that the President has over the past 18 months failed to back up the emergency rule, ignoring calls for sufficient troops and military hardware on the ground, amidst reports that Boko Haram militants are overrunning soldiers in many areas.

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Boko Haram Invades Three Towns in Northeastern Nigeria

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In the past twenty-four hours, Boko Haram militants have invaded three towns in Nigeria’s northeastern states of Adamawa and Borno after being ousted from a key town in the area by civilian vigilantes.

Reports surfaced Friday that Boko Haram militants have seized control of the northeastern town of Chibok, which is home to more than 200 schoolgirls who were kidnapped by the insurgents in April. According to local residents, militants attacked and took control of the town on Thursday evening. Ali Ndume, a senator for Borno state, confirmed that Chibok is now under Boko Haram’s control, adding that security forces posted in the town left the area as the insurgents attacked. The capture of Chibok came hours after the militant group seized control of two other towns in neighbouring Adamawa state.

According to local residents, the Islamist fighters raided the towns of Hong and Gombi, located some 100 kilometres (62.5 miles) from the state capital Yola after they were pushed out of the commercial hub of Mubi, which they seized two weeks ago. Locals in Mubi reported Friday that many of Mubi’s residents have not yet returned to the town over fears that Boko Haram may launch further attacks in a bid to recapture the key town. Mubi, the second largest town in the northeastern Adamawa state, was the biggest town under the militants group’s control and is the first it has lost since August, when Boko Haram’s leader Abubakar Shekau declared a caliphate in the seized areas. Unconfirmed reports have suggested that vigilantes reclaimed the town of Maiha on Wednesday after a fierce battle, with scores of insurgents said to have been killed.

Despite apparently losing control of Mubi, which Boko Haram had renamed Madinatul Islam, or “City of Islam in Arabic, the invasion of Hong and Gombi effectively see’s the militant group moving closer to the state capital city, where thousands of residents have taken refuge in recent months. Local residents in Gombi have reported that since taking control of the town, Boko Haram militants have been patrolling the streets and firing heavy weaponry at random, with other locals disclosing that many are either staying indoors or have fled into the bush, adding that militants burnt down the police station, the local government secretariat and the town’s market after they overpowered the local police. In Hong, which is located 20 kilometres away, the police station was also razed, with the militants reportedly raising their black flag outside the home of a retired military general.

Boko Haram is believed to be in control of more than two dozen towns in the northeastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe. As part of its goal of establishing a hardline caliphate in the region, in recent months Boko Haram has opted to attack and hold towns in the region, a move that was not previously seen in the militant group’s five-year insurgency.

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New Kidnappings in Northeastern Nigeria

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In a new report published Monday, a rights group has indicated that Boko Haram has used kidnapped women and girls on the front lines of its insurgency. The new report comes as news emerged that the militant group is suspected of kidnapping dozens of girls and boys.

Despite Nigerian government claims of a truce with the militant group, on Monday reports emerged that suspected Boko Haram militants have kidnapped about thirty adolescents in the northeastern region of the country. Local sources have reported that the suspected militants kidnapped boys aged 13 and over and several girls aged 11 and over. According to a local official, at least seventeen people were killed when the village of Mafa, in Borno State, came under attack on Thursday. Nigerian authorities however are blaming the attack on local bandits. The attack on Mafa, which is located 50 kilometres (30 miles) east of the state capital Maiduguri, is the latest in a series of assaults carried out by suspected Boko Haram militants. Last week, at least 40 women and girls were seized in neighbouring Adamawa state.

Both kidnappings, along with continued violence in northeastern Nigeria and northern Cameroon, have caused doubts over government claims of a ceasefire agreement and deal for the release of 219 schoolgirls held captive since May. Boko Haram has yet to confirm that a ceasefire agreement has been reached.

According to a new Human Rights Watch (HRW) report released Monday, the militant group has kidnapped more than 500 women and girls since its insurgency began in 2009, adding that they use the girls and women on the front lines of combat.

The report came to the conclusion after officials outlined testimony from dozens of former hostages who documented the physical and psychological abuses they went through while being held captive. In total, 30 women and girls were interviewed between April 2013 and April 2014, including 12 of the 57 girls who fled shortly after militants raided a school in Chibok, Borno state. The women and girls, who were held from between two days and three months, were either kidnapped from their homes and villages or while working on the land, fetching water or at school. They all described being held in eight different camps believed to be located in the Sambisa Forest area of Borno state and in the Gwoza hills, which separate Nigeria from Cameroon. They described seeing other women and children in the camps, some of them infants while others as old as 65, however they were unable to indicate whether they had also been kidnapped.

While most of the women were made to cook, clean and perform household chores, with some forced to carry stolen goods seized by the insurgents after attacks, others were forced to fight alongside the militants. In one particular testimony, a 19-year-old woman indicated that she was forced to participate in Boko Haram attacks while being held hostage in militant camps for three months in 2013. According to the woman, she “…was told to hold the bullets and lie in the grass while they fought. They came to me for extra bullets as the fight continued during the day.” While a wave of attacks carried out by female suicide bombers across northeastern Nigeria earlier this year prompted speculation that Boko Haram may be changing tactics and using abducted women to carry out deadly attacks, there has been no evidence to prove whether the attackers were kidnap victims who were coerced or volunteers. The report further disclosed that while Boko Haram appears to pick victims arbitrarily, Christians and students were particularly targeted.

Additionally the newly released report discloses that there have been serious failings in the manner in which Nigerian authorities conducted their investigations in the wake of the abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls from Chibok six months ago. The report includes detailed testimonies of several girls who managed to escape captivity, with HRW adding that the police have shown minimal interest in documenting their evidence, and have treated the case as a “low level crime.” According to the HRW’s Africa Director, Daniel Bekele, little is available to help those girls and women who have survived long periods of captivity, adding that survivors have not received adequate support, including mental health and medical after-care upon their release. He further disclosed that while funds have been set up for the Chibok escapees, little support has been provided to other victims.

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Sixty Women Believed to Have Escaped Boko Haram Militants

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Security sources indicated Monday that more than sixty women and girls are reported to have escaped from captivity.

Reports have indicated that more than sixty women and girls have escaped from the Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram. They are believed to be from a group of sixty-eight women who were kidnapped last month near the town of Damboa in north-eastern Borno state. Boko Haram is still holding more than 200 schoolgirls who were abducted in April of this year.

Security sources have indicated that the women escaped when the militants went to attack a military base near Damboa on Friday. The Nigerian military has also reported that its troops killed more than fifty rebels during clashes that occurred that night. Due to on going insecurities in the region, coupled with poor access to the area, the number of women who managed to escape from Boko Haram remains unclear. However a local vigilante has reported receiving an alert from his colleagues indicating that about sixty-three abducted women and girls had made it back home late on Friday.

Meanwhile frustration continues to grow as more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped in Chibok, Borno state, on April 14 are still being held captive. Activists of the Bring Back Our Girls movement attempted to march towards the presidential palace in Abuja on Sunday however they were turned back by security forces. According to one activist, Aisha Yesufu, “it’s 83 days today that the girls have been abducted…We have been coming out for 68 days and nobody has really listened to us.”

Nigeria’s overstretched and under-resourced military has been incapable of fighting Boko Haram’s insurgency, which has already killed thousands over the past five years.

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Militants Reportedly Kidnap Women and Children in Borno State

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Unconfirmed reports indicated Wednesday that suspected Boko Haram militants have abducted more than sixty women and young girls in the restive northeastern region of Nigeria. If confirmed by officials, the latest abduction will likely fuel further public frustration over the Nigerian government’s inability to end the five-year insurgency.

The latest mass kidnapping to hit Nigeria reportedly occurred during a raid last week in Kummabza village in the Damboa district of Borno state, which left at least thirty people dead. Although Nigeria’s defense headquarters in Abuja indicated on Monday that it was “yet to confirm the several reports on the abduction of girls in Borno as of now,” a senior officer in the Damboa local government did state “over 60 women were hijacked and forcefully taken away by the terrorists,” adding “the village was also destroyed. Some of the survivors of the attack, who do not have means of transporting themselves, especially old women and men, trekked to Lassa, in the Askira-Uba local government area of Borno state, 25 kilometers away….Others went to Gulak in Adamawa state, where they are now taking refuge.”

A security source indicated late Tuesday that Nigerian security forces are investigating reports of the mass kidnapping in villages located in the northeastern state of Borno, where Boko Haram militants abducted more than 200 schoolgirls two months ago. Sources have indicated that military officials are currently looking into reports that suspected Islamist insurgents raided at least three villages over the weekend, located 100 kilometers (60 miles) from the state capital Maiduguri. Nigerian media are reporting that as many as 91 villagers had been kidnapped, most of them women and young girls, however these reports have not been verified. While the militant group, which has killed thousands in bomb and gun attacks, was initially focused on targeting government and security targets as well as churches and those Muslim leaders who rejected their brand of Islam, recently, Boko Haram militants have increasingly been targeting civilians, gaining global attention when they kidnapped more than 200 girls from a school in the remote Borno village of Chibok in April.

The abductions are the latest to take place in the state of Borno, which has been the worst affected by the militant group’s five-year insurgency. On April 14, Boko Haram militants kidnapped more than 200 teenaged girls from their dormitories at a boarding school in Chibok while on June 7, at least 20 young mothers from a nomadic settlement in and around the village of Garkin Fulani were also reportedly kidnapped, however it has since been claimed that their disappearances could be due to annual migration. Last week’s kidnappings are believed to be an attempt by the militant group to refocus attention on its demands for the release of militant fighters. Boko Haram has indicated that it would be willing to release the 219 schoolgirls in exchange for the freedom of its fighters who are currently being held in Nigerian jails.

Meanwhile in a separate incident, unidentified gunmen have killed at least thirty-eight people, mostly women and children, in raids that targeted two villages in northern Kaduna state, an area of the country that has been plagued by years of sectarian conflict. According to the head of the area’s local government, Emmanuel Adamu Danzaria, the late Monday attacks targeted the remote villages of Fadan Karshi and Nandu, in the southern region of Kaduna state, adding, “twenty-one people were killed in Karshi and 17 others were killed in Nandu. We are yet to identify those behind the attacks.” Ahmed Maiyaki, spokesman for Kaduna Governor Mukhtar Yero, confirmed the attacks and the death toll however he declined to discuss which group may have been responsible. Kaduna, which has a religiously divided capital city, has seen waves of violence that has often involved the area’s Christians and Muslims, with the unrest often being sparked by elections and other political disputes. Following Nigeria’s 2011 polls, hundreds were killed in Kaduna. Separately, in rural areas, bloodshed has been linked to fighting over land, which has erupted between agrarian groups and a tribe of composed of mainly nomadic herdsmen, the Fulani.

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