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50 years of Nigeria: celebrating our interests with the U.S. By Chudi Okafor

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50 years of Nigeria: celebrating our interests with the U.S.

By Hon. CHUDI OKAFOR, the Consul General of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, U.S.A. (excerpts from his address at the October 1, 2010 reception in Atlanta, Georgia, celebrating the 50th anniversary of Nigeria’s Independence).

Special to USAfrica, USAfricaonline.comCLASSmagazine

Distinguished and Honourable State Representatives, Guest of Honour, the Mayor of Sandy Springs, Mrs. Eva Galambos, Special Guest of Honour, Amb. Andrew Young, Chairman & CEO of Global Energy, USA, Inc, Mr. Kenneth Yellowe, President, Alliance of Nigerian Organizations in Georgia (ANOG), Mr. Titus Olowokere, Vice Chairman, Nigerians in the Diaspora Organization, Mr. Victor Ugoh, Presidents of Nigerian Organizations from the Southeast USA, Leaders of other Nigerian Organizations, Friends of Nigeria, Fellow compatriots, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, good evening and welcome.

May I crave your indulgence to please stand up and observe a minute’s silence in honour of our late President, H. E. Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, GCFR, and the victims from the bomb blast earlier today in Abuja.

Thank God Nigeria is 50 today, I mean half a century; and so it is for 17 other African States who [are celebrating] 50 years of their independence this year.

On this special occasion of our jubilee anniversary celebration, I wish to convey to this august assembly, fraternal greetings and best wishes from the Nigerian President, His Excellency Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR.

My wife, the entire staff of the Mission, and I, sincerely thank you all for being with us at this historic moment.  A close look at this beautiful assembly shows that people from all walks of life have indeed come to celebrate with us. In his congratulatory message, H.E. President Barrack Obama, has today through the US Secretary, Mrs. Hilary Clinton, honoured Nigeria’s history and accomplishments. We sincerely appreciate it.

First of all, we welcome in our midst, the untiring Mayor of Sandy Springs, Mrs. Eva Galambos. I would like to seize this occasion to formally congratulate her for winning yet another term in office.  I say untiring because you only need to go round the City of Sandy Springs to appreciate the amazing pace of development of this new City. As our host Mayor, I am happy to say that both the Mission and the Residence are located within this beautiful and hospitable City.  The fact that the Mayor is here with us today, after a long visit abroad, testifies to the unflagging friendship and goodwill she has towards Nigeria and her peoples. Your Honour, thank you for coming.

2. At this juncture, I wish to pay tributes to the Special Guest of Honour, Amb. Andrew Young. A former Congressman, a two-term Mayor of Atlanta, former US Ambassador and Special Representative to the United Nations. Amb. Andrew Young is a global personality, a civil rights activist in his own right, and a Pan- Africanist at heart and in spirit. In this connection, I would like to congratulate you (and Amb. Carl Masters) for the role you played in the just ended successful Sullivan Summit that traced DNAs of African Americans to their specific African countries of origin. Among others, it has just been revealed that the Mayor of Atlanta, Mr. Kassim Reid, originated from Nigeria.

Amb. Young is a man who is not afraid to say at any time that Nigeria in particular, and Africa in general, will overcome her present challenges. Amb. Andrew Young has used the epic movie “What is wrong with Nigeria” to tell our story, and he has confided in me that the best is yet to come. Sir, we sincerely appreciate your presence here this evening.

3. May I at this point also acknowledge the presence of Members of the Georgia State Congress, for being here with us. In particular, our Guest of Honour, Rep. Randal Mangham, in his capacity as the Chairman, USA-Africa Chamber of Commerce, and his unceasing drive for bringing the Organized Private Sectors of both countries, to do business for the mutual benefit of our peoples. I shall not pre-empt the incredible experience of Rep. Mangham’s visit to Nigeria, which I believe he would tell this evening.

4. It is most appropriate at this time to recognize the presence of my dear colleagues, the Consuls General and their Trade Commissioners, who have brought their goodwill, friendship and support to this occasion. Their presence is a testimony to the many years of happily existing cooperation and understanding between Nigeria and their respective countries, both at the bilateral and multilateral levels. With 144 diplomatic Missions in Nigeria, and 102 Nigerian Missions abroad, it is easy to appreciate the depth of friendship Nigeria has with the world. Thank you for standing by Nigeria during the good, the bad and ugly times in our nation-building efforts. This is what genuine friendship is all about.

5. Also, I take delight to welcome in our midst, the presence of a young and dynamic Nigerian entrepreneur in the oil and gas industry, Mr. Kenneth Yellowe. He is the Chairman & CEO of Global Energy, and a philanthropist, and has come all the way from Houston, Texas to grace this occasion. Mr. Yellowe is involved in various indigenous private sector initiatives in the Niger Delta, calculated to see Nigeria emerge as an effective competitor in the oil and gas industry. He has also participated in activities that will assist Government reform the energy sector by having a joint venture agreement for gas distribution in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Sir, we salute you for coming.

6.  At this time, let me acknowledge the presence of some of the Presidents of the Nigerian Organizations in the Southeast of the US, who in spite of their very busy schedules in arranging for their own anniversary celebration, made it a point of duty to be here with us today. We have Dr. Patrick Idoye, from Tennessee, we have Dr. Clement Ebio from Alabama, we have Mr. Leo Okoli, from Missouri, we have Mr. Victor kienka, from Oklahoma, and we have Mr. Chukwuemeka Ikenekwu, from South Carolina. Thank you so much for ministering to the needs of Nigerians in your respective States and for being good ambassadors for Nigeria.

Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

7. After five decades of Nigeria’s independence from Great Britain, on October 1, 1960, there is no doubt that many of our friends and well wishers have continued to express frustration, and wonder why, a country regarded at birth, as the leading light of the Black race and endowed with so much, is yet to harness and utilize her huge material and human potentials for development. To these well-meaning friends, we say tonight, we truly appreciate and understand your concerns, and sometimes criticisms, of our performance as a nation. Let me assure you that you are not alone, because even some of our compatriots in the Diaspora, who are well represented in this audience, sometimes feel the same way. The plain truth however, is that this is only part of our story, as we need to be wary of the danger of a single story.

8. This special occasion of a golden anniversary calls for a measure of sober reflection and stock-taking. Candidly, we cannot because of understandable frustration forget the progress, however moderate, Nigeria has made against all odds. Lest we forget, as a nation, we inherited six dubious reputation of military coup d’ etats, a devastating 30 months civil war, many ethnic and religious conflicts, the Nigeria-Cameroon boundary dispute, and recently, the Niger Delta conflict. While not excusing bad governance that has trailed the better part of our 50 years history, significantly, no one should underplay the gigantic and complex effort in managing 150 million inhabitants.

9. Ours is the most populous black nation on earth, comprising 250 ethnic and religious groups with passionate and fixated identities, and welding this polyglot into a modern nation state, is not a cakewalk. Comparatively speaking, it is a fact of history that two large countries in Europe that tried to transit from authoritarian regime into democracy, both failed and disintegrated into many States. We also know that it took the mother of all democracies, that is the USA, more than 250 years of nation building and hard work to reach this enviable level of development that is worthy of emulation.

10. Happily, today, by the Grace of God, Nigeria is for the past ten years, fully in the throes of democracy, and there will be no going back. A measure of national and political stability has been restored in Nigeria in a remarkable fashion. The present Administration is of the firm belief that the time has finally come to harness Nigeria’s immense resources, entrepreneurial know-how, and creative capacity to place her where she rightly belongs. It is set to tackle the problems of power, security, infrastructure, and exemplify zero tolerance for corruption. President Jonathan in his national broadcast to Nigerians today, pledged to personally fight corruption in a transparent manner.

11. The Administration has therefore set in motion a process of profound political and economic reform measures that would engender sustained stability, economic growth, wealth and job creation. These reform measures are anchored on the rule of law, accountability, due process and openness with a free press. This vision is personally driven by our President, with a view to propelling Nigeria to its desired goal to be among the 20th largest economies in the world, by the year 2020. Indeed, we are not alone in this quest, projection and optimism.

12. According to the Business Insider of September 27, 2010, that is, only three days ago, on Emerging Markets, there are six economies in the world expected to lead their regions soon. They are called the MAVINS and they include; Mexico, Australia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Nigeria and South Africa. In a nutshell, even with our problems and challenges; at 50, it is gratifying that most objective analysts [of] the Nigerian situation admit that there is an observable positive shift, and that if these efforts are sustained with equal vigor and determination, Nigeria will in no distant future leapfrog the poverty gap. They observed that after all, 5 years after the unfortunate [Nigeria-Biafra civil war which started in 1967 and] ended in 1970, by 1975, Nigeria was at a comparable level of economic development with today’s [Pacific Asian economies also known as the] Asean Tigers.

13. What is more, H. E. President Jonathan has pledged to do all that is necessary, to place Nigeria on the path of good governance through the conduct of free and fair elections, by ensuring that every vote must count. With the recent appointment of Prof. Attahiru Jega, as the new Independent National Electoral Commission Chairman, and the fundamental changes in the electoral law, Nigerians are confident that the era of impunity, electoral fraud and malpractices are over.

14. Furthermore, Nigeria is aware that neither dignity nor economic development can thrive without security of lives and property. On this score, the Niger Delta post Amnesty Programme is on course, following the successful process of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former militants in the region. Today, it is on record that 20,192 former militants have turned in their weapons. As a result, oil production is on the increase, the confidence of the business community has been restored, and the incidence of kidnapping of foreigners has reduced in the Niger Delta region.

15. Indeed at 50, (and rightly so), we should raise these issues, because some reviews on Nigeria tend to put searchlight on only what we did not do well, by painting a doomsday scenario, without the recognition of what we have done well. I can testify to you, time and again, that there is a palpable paradigm shift and that Nigerians are set to take their destinies with both hands. In the final analysis, what unites Nigeria is by far more than what divides it, and our cup will remain half full and not half empty.

16. On Nigeria – US relations, President Jonathan’s admiration for the U.S as a beacon of hope, freedom, law and justice, is sincere and unwavering. Happily, with the recent visit of President Jonathan to the U.S, relations between our two countries are upbeat and excellent.  This shared optimism is the desired tonic Nigeria needs from her friends and well-meaning partners, this remarkable year. It would be recalled that not too long ago, Nigeria’s name was removed from the club of 14 countries she had no reason to belong to in the first place. It would also be recalled that the unacceptable categorization of Nigeria in this club was provoked by the irresponsible behavior and attempted terrorist act of a young man, who was trained and educated outside Nigeria. It is indeed noteworthy that we have put all these behind us.

17. As a matter of fact, there is a noticeable momentum of mark of special relations, in all aspects of our bilateral cooperation with the US. This was what informed Nigeria’s signatory in April, this year, of a Bi-National Commission Agreement with the US. The BNC Agreement provides a broad framework within which to strengthen and broaden the basis of our bilateral cooperation, and elevate our partnership in pursuit of shared goals and enduring values. In so doing, it is important to realize that the US, as a great friend will assist, but will not lead our development efforts.

18. The responsibility is ours. Since the BNC kicked off, vital issues in our bilateral relations such as; the electoral reform, energy and investments, the Niger Delta and Maritime security have been discussed. Without doubt, this agreement was hammered out to cement Nigeria’s strategic position in Africa. As I have often told some of our friends, when you look closely at the map of Africa, it is like a shot gun facing downwards, but the trigger, whether you go east or west, north or south, is always in Nigeria. How can you then discuss Africa without Nigeria?

19. According to a recent statement by the US Assistant Secretary of State, Amb. Johnnie Carson, Nigeria is not only a major source of US petroleum supply, but a dominant economy in West Africa, second largest economy in Africa, a major contributor to international peace and security, and has one of the most educated group of immigrants in North America.  He submits that these criteria make Nigeria a strong, robust and vibrant partner of the US in global affairs. I cannot take anything away from what the Assistant Secretary has said but would like to add that Nigeria is also the 6th largest petroleum producer in the world, that supplies sixteen and a half percent of US gas needs more than any Middle East country, thereby contributing to her energy security needs. Nigeria holds the 8th largest reservoir of gas in the world, and is endowed with more than 34 solid minerals.

20. In terms of peace-keeping, Nigeria has made unmatched contributions in Africa. She believed at independence in 1960, as manifest destiny, that her freedom would not be secure if other African States are not free. This Afro-centric nature of the Nigerian foreign and defense policy, was the basis for sending Nigerian troops to serve in the UN peace-keeping force in the Congo. In recognition of her high standing in the comity of nations, the then UN,SG, appointed a Nigerian as the first African to command a UN peace-keeping force in the Congo.

21. Ever since, Nigeria has sent peace-keeping forces in every country in Africa that has gone through conflict. Notably, were efforts made in Liberia and the Sierra-Leone, where we spent about $12billion and paid the supreme price with the blood of our children, without which these two countries would have gone under and disintegrated. Today, there is concern within UN’s circles that Nigerian peace-keepers should hurry to help stabilize the situation in Somalia before it deteriorates further. As for the Darfur situation, a Nigeria remains the hybrid Force Commander assisting to stabilize the region and to ensure that the situation is under control.

22. It is also important to underline the historical fact that Nigeria was instrumental as an honorary frontline State, to the liberation of the Southern African countries of Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa, where we equally spent billions of dollars. As you may be aware, Nigeria is the 4th largest UN troops contributor in the world, after Pakistan, India and Bangladesh and also a non-permanent member of the Security Council.

23. Other pioneering international roles played by Nigeria include the formation of the Organization of African Unity, (now AU), in May 1963. In January 1966, she was the first member State to host the 54- nation meeting of the Commonwealth outside London.  In December, 2003, she hosted the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. (CHOGM). Additionally, in May 1975, she spearheaded the formation of the Economic Community of West African States, (ECOWAS), as well as, the formation of the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) in 2001.

24. At this juncture, it is right and appropriate to say as noted by Amb. Johnnie Carson, that Nigeria has the largest and the most vigorous intellectual community in Africa, which is a reflection of her immense human capital and potential for development. She has employed this endowment as an effective tool of foreign policy by consistently assisting development efforts in all regions of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific, countries under the framework of Technical Aid Corps, (TAC). This is similar to the American Peace Corps. Within the Caribbean region, Nigerian professionals are rendering services in Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Belize and even Cuba.

25. May I now salute all Nigerians in the American Diaspora, who have distinguished themselves in many areas of human endeavour, especially in the arts, science and technology, business, sports, entertainment and you can add to it.  For the records, today, there is virtually no college in the US, without Nigerian professors and students; there is no major hospital in the US without hardworking Nigerian medical personnel. As a testimony to their hard work, the best 2010 car design for Ford Motors in Detroit, was by a young Nigerian; a Nigerian with the IBM, today has 70 patents in US, and 130 worldwide to his  credit; a company owned by a Nigerian is trading on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, and he is today, a Trade and Policy Adviser to President Barrack Obama; a Nigerian is also a member of the Board of the US highest scientific discovery, the NASA; Nigerians are today occupying Deanship positions in Engineering at top US colleges; and a Nigerian has made vast contributions in adapting the GPS from military to civilian use.

26. I have lost count of how many Nigerians that have played in the NBA, as well as, the entertainment industry.

In all these, note that the womenfolk are not left out. A Nigerian is the Managing Director of the World Bank; a Nigerian is also the Vice President (Africa) at the World Bank; and the first coast to coast teen pilot in the US, is a Nigerian girl. These feats are replicated all over Europe, Asia and Africa. It was in recognition of all these achievements and your role as equal stakeholders in the Nigerian project, that the Federal Government of Nigeria created the Diaspora Commission, which has passed through the third reading in the National Assembly. Also, I am particularly gratified that your prayers to vote in future elections in Nigeria after 2011 elections, has finally been answered. Remember that our greatest resource as a nation is human capital, that is, our brains and not natural resources because no nation has ever industrialized in the 20th and 21st centuries with natural resources alone.

27. This address will not be complete without thanking those who made contributions in making this night memorable. I salute all cultural entertainers, the masquerade group from South Carolina, Heritage Drummers and Dancers, led by Chief Alani Ogunlade, and the Ima Cultural Group, led by Ms. Gloria Udoh, for coming to showcase different parts of Nigeria’s rich and beautiful dance steps. I salute the award winning artists, Messrs. Ibiyinka and Okoye for such display of aesthetic works of art and paintings. This glimpse of Nigeria’s cultural display this evening, readily reminds one of the unmatched 1977 Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC), when Nigeria hosted the entire black world to showcase the African cultural heritage. Indeed, whether one is referring to the Rio carnival or the Trinidad and Tobago Carnival, they all drew inspiration from mother Africa.

29. The Delta Air Lines contributions over the years in making our anniversary celebrations successful is appreciated. We would like to urge the Delta Air Lines management to continue to improve their services, because Nigerians deserve the best, more so, as the Atlanta-Lagos route has proved to be the most lucrative for the Air Line across the Atlantic.

30. [I thank] the Alliance of Nigerian Organizations in Georgia for rallying Nigerians; young and old, men and women, irrespective of ethnic or religious affiliations, in one accord to celebrate our 50th jubilee anniversary. To portray the beauty of our diversity in a remarkable way, ANOG has organized a week-long activity that includes a symposium, cultural show-piece, picnic, soccer, and a road-show parade, the first of its kind in the City of Atlanta. This is how it should be for a nation with one destiny.

31. In conclusion, with the paradigm shift on good governance in Nigeria today, I assure you and our friends and partners in the international community, that these efforts would be sustained, and that the sacrifices of our heroes past shall never be in vain.

32. May I now enjoin you to please rise and toast to the happily existing friendship and cooperation between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the United States of America.

——
Related insights, exclusively on USAfrica.
Obama’s Africa agenda, our business and democracy. By Chido Nwangwu, Publisher of USAfricaonline.com, USAfrica The Newspaper, Houston, USAfricaonline.com and CLASSmagazine and The Black Business Journal http://usafricaonline.com/chido.obamaafrica09.html

——

USAfrica and USAfricaonline.com (characterized by The New York Times as the  most influential African-owned, U.S-based multimedia networks) established May 1992, our first edition of USAfrica magazine was published August 1993; USAfrica The Newspaper on May 11, 1994; CLASSmagazine on May 2, 2003; www.PhotoWorks.TVin 2005.

Obama’s Africa agenda, our business and democracy. By Chido Nwangwu, Publisher of USAfricaonline.com, USAfrica The Newspaper, Houston, USAfricaonline.com and CLASS magazine and The Black Business Journal http://usafricaonline.com/chido.obamaafrica09.html

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BrkNEWS #BokoHaram overruns army base; hundreds of soldiers missing in northern Nigeria

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AFP: Hundreds of Nigerian troops are missing after Boko Haram jihadists overran a military base in the remote northeast, security sources said Sunday, in the second major assault on the armed forces in two days.

The militants invaded a base holding more than 700 soldiers in Yobe state — where they abducted over 100 girls from a school earlier this year — in an hours-long onslaught Saturday night, a military source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Fewer than 100 soldiers have returned following the attack, which took place just 24 hours after Boko Haram fighters ambushed a military convoy in neighbouring Borno state on Friday.

The two assaults have highlighted the tenuous hold Nigerian forces have on the ravaged region despite claims by President Muhammadu Buhari’s government that the country is in a “post-conflict stabilisation phase”.

“Boko Haram terrorists attacked troops of the 81st Division Forward Brigade at Jilli village in Geidam district. The terrorists came in huge numbers around 7:30 pm (1830 GMT) and overran the base after a fierce battle that lasted until 9:10 pm,” said the military source.

“The base had 734 troops. Currently the commander of the base and 63 soldiers have made it to Geidam (60 kilometres away) while the remaining 670 are being expected,” he said, without elaborating on their possible fate.

“We don’t know if there were any casualties among the troops. That will be known later,” he said, adding that the base was new and the troops had recently arrived from Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital.

A leader of a local anti-jihadist militia said the soldiers sustained casualties, but was unable to give a toll, attributing the attack to the Abu-Mus’ab Al-Barnawi faction of Boko Haram, which is known for targeting Nigerian forces.

“We learned that they drove from Lake Chad through Gubio (in nearby Borno state) and attacked the base,” he said.

Geidam resident Fannami Gana said the jihadists “overwhelmed” the troops.

“We don’t know the details of what happened but we learnt they were overwhelmed by hundreds of Boko Haram gunmen,” said Gana.

Nigerian army spokesman Texas Chukwu said he did not know about the attack.

“I am not aware of the attack because (I) have not received information from there,” Chukwu said in a text message to AFP.

On Friday, 23 Nigerian soldiers went missing after Boko Haram ambushed a convoy outside Bama, leading to the loss of several military vehicles.

According to a military officer, “around 100 terrorists” attacked the convoy.

The sophisticated attacks highlight the continued threat — and evolution — of Boko Haram, an Islamic State group ally, said Yan St-Pierre, counter-terrorism advisor and head of the Berlin-based Modern Security Consulting Group.

St-Pierre suggested the attacks could be because Boko Haram fighters are vying for control of the faction led by Abubakar Shekau, the long-time jihadist leader who is reportedly ill.

“When a near-mythical leader is on his way out there’s always a battle to establish who could be next,” said St-Pierre.

The attacks show the persistent threat of Boko Haram in the Lake Chad region, he said.

As the jihadists exploit rampant poverty in the region, the Nigerian army, which is overstretched and under-resourced, struggles to keep the insurgency in check.

“The supply of Boko Haram fighters is always there, either through kidnapping or economic reasons, they tap into a wide pool of personnel, they find a way to replenish their strength,” St-Pierre said.

Buhari, a 75-year-old former military ruler, came to power three years ago on a promise to defeat Boko Haram.

But while there have been clear military gains since a counter-insurgency was launched in 2015, suicide bombings and raids remain a constant threat, particularly to civilians.

Boko Haram’s Islamist insurgency has devastated the region since 2009, leaving at least 20,000 people dead, displacing more than two million others and triggering a humanitarian crisis.

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USAfrica: Why Trump should watch out on May 30 for Biafra memorial day

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By Rev Joshua Amaezechi, contributing editor of USAfricaonline.com, Minister of the Christian Reformed Church of North America (CRCNA) and Lead Chaplain, at the Kalamazoo County Jail 

History, they say, often repeats itself. This happens because we fail to learn from it and avoid its pitfalls. A look at history may provide a path for President Trump to reshape the US foreign policy on Nigeria in a manner that promotes life and advances human progress. An alternative is to ignore history and follow the known path of executive and economic convenience as was done in the past and live with the outcome.

History is perhaps about to repeat itself. Igbo Christians as well as their neighboring Christians in the middle belt of Nigeria have been facing unchallenged terrorist attacks from radical Islamists “Fulani Herdsmen” who overrun Christian communities, killing women, men and children and seeking to take over their lands. There had been many cases in which the Nigerian Military under President Buhari had been accused of aiding and abetting these attacks as killers were neither arrested nor frontally confronted by the State Security. Official policies of the government of President Buhari to reduce arms in the hands of civilians ended up only disarming the natives, thereby giving the invading herdsmen an edge over their victims. 

Like Nixon, president Trump has declared that the killing of Christians in Nigeria would no longer be acceptable to the US government. During a recent visit of President Buhari of Nigeria to the White House, president Trump was quoted to have said:

 “Also, we’ve had very serious problems with Christians who have been murdered, killed in Nigeria. We’re going to be working on that problem, and working on that problem very, very hard, because we can’t allow that to happen.”

 President Trumps commitment to protect Christians in Nigeria was reaffirmed in his speech on the National Day of prayer and aligns with his campaign promise to tackle the problem of Boko haram and Islamic terrorism, twin problems which as believed by the Christian Association of Nigeria(CAN) are geared towards the Islamization of Nigeria. But Nixon’s declaration on Biafra is different from President Trump’s promise to protect Christians in Nigeria. While the later was a declaration of a high profile presidential candidate, the latter is the declaration of a sitting president. However, both declarations place similar moral obligation on the US government to act decisively to protect Christians, especially at this time when 99% of the strategic Armed forces of Nigeria are headed by Muslims and mostly kinsmen of President Buhari who is widely known for his nepotism and unflinching support for the spread of Islam. 

The moral obligation of the US comes to the fore as the Igbo people and the peoples of the former Republic of Biafra who are mainly Christians and Omenana Jews gather on May 30 to remember the estimated 3.5 million of their folks who were killed during the Nigerian Biafran war. Already, Nigeria’s ‘President Buhari’s government has deployed Soldiers and combat airplanes to the region ahead of the May 30 memorial, even when that region is known to be the safest and peaceful part of Nigeria. While it is a moral tragedy that genocidists who should have been in jail, were allowed to become Presidents and heads of states in Nigeria, some with streets and public places named after them; it is even a greater moral evil for the bereaved to be denied the freedom and solemnity to mourn their dead. 

It is the aggregation of the pains and sorrow of many Christian families who lost their loved ones due to Nixons dereliction of his moral obligation to save Biafra from genocide and its interplay with current persecution of Christians in Nigeria that makes May 30 a day to watch for President Trump. The moral burden of allowing 1967-1970 to repeat itself will be too much for the US to bear.

 From 1967 to 1970, the Igbo people of the South Eastern Nigeria, with over 80% Christian majority faced the danger of extinction in an avoidable war between Nigeria and the Republic of Biafra. The US presidential candidate, then former Vice President and front runner in the presidential election Richard Milhous Nixon attracted widespread attention and support when on September 8, 1968 he issued a statement calling on the US to intervene in the Nigerian-Biafra war, describing the Nigerian governments war against the Biafrans as a “genocide” and the “destruction of an entire people”. Following his declaration, the Christians of Igbo land felt a sense of relief with the expectation that Nixon’s victory at the poll would usher in a shift in US foreign policy on Nigeria and a departure from Lyndon Johnson’s half-hearted interestedness, evidenced by minimalist provision of relief to the starving Igbo in the Biafran territory.

 Nixon won! Unfortunately, rather than act to end genocide in Biafra, President Nixon followed Lyndon Johnson’s policy. Not even the declassified memo from the former US Secretary of State and NSA, Henry Kissinger, describing the Igbo as “the wandering Jews of west Africa..” and calling for a more robust response turned the needle of President Nixon’s neglect to follow up on his campaign promises on Biafra. With these words “I hope Biafra survives”, he gave up Biafra. The result was that estimated 1 million children and civilians were starved to death following the official blockade of all access of food aid and medical relief by the Nigerian Military Government. 

While the Watergate Scandal put the final seal on Nixon’s presidency, many would argue that his foreign policy failures, including his relative silence over genocide against Biafrans  ate deep into his political capital leaving him with no significant goodwill. We know how it ended: President Nixon resigned!

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#Breaking “Worst case scenario” predicted for latest outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo

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The World Health Organisation says it is preparing for “the worst case scenario” in a fresh outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

WHO has recorded 32 suspected or confirmed cases in Bikoro, including 18 deaths, between April 4 and May 9. The cases include three healthcare workers, one of whom has died.

This is the country’s ninth known outbreak of Ebola since 1976, when the disease was first identified in then-Zaire by a Belgian-led team. Efforts to contain the latest outbreak have been hampered because the affected region of the country is very remote.

“There are very few paved roads, very little electrification, access is extremely difficult… It is basically 15 hours by motorbike from the closest town,” WHO’s head of emergency response Peter Salama said.

Cases have already been reported in three separate locations around Bikoro, and Mr Salama warned there was a clear risk the disease could spread to more densely populated areas.

WHO is particularly concerned about the virus reaching Mbandaka, which has around one million inhabitants and is only a few hours away from Bikoro.

“If we see a town of that size infected with Ebola, then we are going to have a major urban outbreak,” Mr Salama warned.

The organisation has a team on the ground and is preparing to send up to 40 more specialists to the region in the coming week or so.

Nigeria’s government this week ordered that travellers from DR Congo should be screened as an additional security measure after the fresh outbreak was confirmed, but the request was rejected by Nigeria’s health workers’ unions, who have been striking since April 18 over pay and conditions.

The country does not share a border with DR Congo but memories are still fresh of an Ebola outbreak in 2014 that killed seven people out of 19 confirmed cases. ref: AFP

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USAfrica: Will Rwanda President Kagame succeed President Kagame, ruling for 34 years?

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Who will succeed President Paul Kagame? Ask the ruling party – Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) – and Rwandan citizens, says the president.

“The succession plan is not mine. If it had been, I would not be here now; I would have left because that is what I intended to do,” President Kagame said last week during a panel discussion at the Mo Ibrahim Governance summit in Kigali.

President Kagame was elected to a third seven-year term in 2017, after a constitutional referendum led to the suspension of term limits.

Under the amended constitution, a presidential term was slashed from seven to five years, and set to be renewed only once. This allows President Kagame to run for two further five-year terms when his current term ends- potentially making him rule for 34 years until 2034.

But even after winning his third term with an enviable 99 per cent of the vote, President Kagame said he had no intentions of leading past two terms, and was only persuaded by Rwandans to stay on.

“I intended to serve the two terms and leave; that was my intention and it is clear, I don’t have to keep defending myself on it. I was deeply satisfied in my heart … until people asked me to stay,” he said.

“And even then, it took some time before I accepted; finally I did because of history — the history of my involvement in politics and being a leader which started from childhood.”

The Rwandan head of state argued that it was never his ambition to be president in the first place, and that he was not prepared to lead the country after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, turning down his party when they fronted him as a leader.

“In 1994, my party had taken it for granted that I was going to take the helm as the leader. I told them to look for someone else. I told them I wasn’t prepared for it; it was not what I was fighting for,” he said.

“I became vice president and Minister of Defence. Later, then president (Pasteur Bizimungu) had problems with parliament and was impeached. They turned to me and asked me to lead and I said yes.”

President Kagame warned that although it appeared as though his longevity in power has been left for him to decide, there will come a time when no amount of persuasion from his party or the citizenry will convince him to stay.

“If I were to reach a stage — and I will not reach that stage — where people ask me to continue… and when I feel I cannot do much for them, then I will tell them no. Even if they insist, I will also insist on going,” he said.

The president said that once he is out of power, he will support his successor.

But in a country where rights groups have alluded that the political climate only favours the ruling party, it is unlikely that President Kagame’s successor — whenever he or she comes — will come from outside the RPF.

On top of overseeing a strong recovery of the Rwandan economy, ensuring peace and stability, the RPF has consolidated political and financial power since taking over power in 1994.

This is to the point of having several other political parties seeking for coalition with RPF rather than contend for influence.

•Mugisha, Rwandan journalist and author Of Sheep That Smell Like Wolves is based in Kigali, Rwanda. He contributes to the East African.

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World SOCCER SHOWDOWN: South Africa backs Morocco; U.S under pressure

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Special to USAfrica [Houston]  • USAfricaonline.com  •  @Chido247  @USAfricalive

“It is an old myth that Africa doesn’t have the capacity, and naysayers should stop using the political argument. Africa hosted the best Fifa World Cup ever and with good support, Morocco can emulate South Africa,” said the SAFA president Jordaan.

Johannesburg – South Africa Football Association (SAFA) president Danny Jordaan has promised Morocco that South Africa will give its unqualified support to secure another World Cup on the African continent in 2026.

Morocco is vying to stage the world’s biggest football prize against a joint bid by Canada, Mexico and the U.S.

The Moroccan delegation comprises ex-Senegal and Liverpool striker El Hadji Diouf and former Cameroonian goalkeeper Joseph-Antoine Bell.

Jordaan said it would be great for Africa to have a second bite of the World Cup cherry, adding Morocco’s bid was Africa’s bid.

Jordaan assured Morocco that he would personally lobby for the Council for Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) and the rest of the continent to rally behind the Moroccans.

In his remarks, Antoine Bell said Morocco had all the ingredients to host another spectacular World Cup.

“South Africa showed the way and I am confident Morocco will follow suit. The country has international standards, from the stadiums to top infrastructure. Morocco can compete with the best in the world,” he said.

By giving Morocco its support, South Africa’s voice would make all the difference on the continent, Bell said.

“When South Africa talks on the continent, the rest of the continent listens hence it is vital for South Africa to support Morocco. South Africa has the experience and Morocco will use this experience to win the 2016 bid,” added Bell. African News Agency

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USAfrica: Catholic priest Etienne killed by militia in DR Congo, after a wedding mass

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Special to USAfrica [Houston]  •  @USAfricaLIVE

Goma – A Catholic priest was found shot dead hours after he said mass in Democratic Republic of Congo’s restive North Kivu province, a member of the church told AFP.

“Father Etienne Sengiyumva was killed [on] Sunday by the Mai Mai Nyatura (militia) in Kyahemba where he had just celebrated a mass including a baptism and a wedding,” father Gonzague Nzabanita, head of the Goma diocese where the incident occurred, told AFP.

The Mai Mai Nyatura are an armed group operating in North Kivu, in eastern DRC.

Nzabanita said Sengiyumva, 38, had had lunch with local faithful before “we found him shot in the head”.

North and South Kivu provinces are in the grip of a wave of violence among militia groups, which often extort money from civilians or fight each other for control of mineral resources.

Last week unknown assailants kidnapped a Catholic priest in North Kivu, demanding $500 000 for his release.

Eastern DRC has been torn apart by more than 20 years of armed conflict, fuelled by ethnic and land disputes, competition for control of the region’s mineral resources, and rivalry between regional powers.

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USAfrica: Nigeria’s LOOTERS LIST and Buhari’s selective corruption targets. By Majeed Dahiru

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PDP vs APC Looters List and Buhari’s selective corruption targets

By Majeed Dahiru

Special to USAfrica {Houston] • USAfricaonline.com • @USAfricaLive

 

Timipriye Silva, a former governor and PDP chieftain, who became a founding member and financier of APC, had his corruption charges quashed by a federal high court and Buhari’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) failed to appeal the N19.5 billion fraud case.

More curious are the missing names of some accused looters with marital ties to Nigeria’s First and Second families. Gimba Yau Kumo, the PDP appointed former managing director of the Federal Mortgage Bank and now son-in-law of President Buhari, who was similarly accused of fraudulent activities amounting to about N3 billion and reportedly being investigated by EFCC, is missing from [Buhari’s Information Minister] Lai Mohammed’s list.

For a party that has been accused of destroying Nigeria by squandering accrued oil revenues estimated at over $500 billion in sixteen years, it is confounding that Lai’s list is not only exclusively comprised of PDP looters but also captures the last two years of PDP’s last lap in power and included just Goodluck Jonathan’s associates, who supported him against candidate Buhari, while also relating only to funds used in the last electioneering campaign of the PDP.

Whenever the obviously abysmal performance of the Muhammadu Buhari administration appears to be gaining sustained attention, and leading to murmuring within the rank and file of his supporters, a tale of humungous looting by opposition elements is usually spun and thrown into the public space to distract people away from the core issue of the failure of governance.

Like a fit of deja vu, the recently unveiled list of looters by Lai Mohammed, a fellow who comes across as more of President Muhammadu Buhari’s chief propagandist than a minister of the federal republic of Nigeria in charge of information and culture, didn’t come as a surprise. The list is all too familiar as the unveiling was a summarised rehash of politically exposed individuals who are members of the opposition party, close associates of former President Goodluck Jonathan, particularly his appointees in government, who have been named and shamed several times in well-coordinated media trials.

First on Lai’s list is Uche Secondus, the chairman of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Lai had this to say of Secondus: “On the 19th of February 2015, he took N200 million only from the office of the NSA”. An unidentified former financial secretary of the PDP was similarly accused of “taking” N600 million from the same office of the National Security Adviser. Lai Mohammed also re-revealed that frontline member of PDP and media mogul, who deployed his media power to promote Goodluck Jonathan by de-marketing the Buhari candidacy in the run up to 2015 presidential election, Raymond Dokpesi, is on trial for “taking” N2.1 billion from the office of the then NSA. Lai also reminded Nigerians that his shouting match and former spokesman of the PDP, Olisa Metuh is on trial for “collecting” N1.4 billion from the same office of the NSA.

Lai Mohammed’s expanded follow up list included the usual suspects – former ministers, PDP state governors, service chiefs, presidential aides, associates and family members of former President Goodluck Jonathan, who were collectively accused of looting Nigeria of close to $2.1 billion through the office of the former NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd.).

The choice of words like “took” and “collected” deployed by Lai to describe the manner in which those named received these monies was deliberate for the maximum effect of propaganda, portraying the accused persons as looters who broke into NSA vault and catered away boxes of cash at something akin to a gun point.

While the clamp down on PDP looters who supported Goodluck Jonathan and are still members of the former ruling party has been heavy handed, others who decamped from PDP to the All Progressives Congress (APC) on the eve of the 2015 elections and supported candidate Buhari’s campaign with their share of loot have been forgiven. For example, former NSA, Sambo Dasuki is being treated as an apostate for his role in the disbursement of funds that were used to oil Goodluck Jonathan’s electioneering effort. He has been kept in detention illegally and in defiance of several judicial rulings. Judging by the Buhari administration’s anti-corruption standard of an accusation being tantamount to guilt, in clear contempt of court proceedings by the resort to the naming and shaming suspects even before investigations and criminal prosecution are concluded and convictions obtained, it becomes curious that Lai’s list didn’t reveal any new name. Rather some names were either missing or omitted from what is a familiar list. This appears so because the bulk of PDP bigwigs who “destroyed” Nigeria in sixteen years of national rule are firmly in control of the APC, from its elected national executives to the National Assembly and appointed members of the federal executive council. The majority of APC-elected governors were also former members of the PDP. Even recently decamped PDP members to APC, such as Musiliu Obanikoro and Sulivan Chime, who have been prominently named and shamed in the recent past, were conspicuously missing from the released list of looters.

More curious are the missing names of some accused looters with marital ties to the first and second families. Gimba Yau Kumo, a former PDP appointed managing director of the Federal Mortgage Bank and now son-in-law of President Buhari, who was similarly accused of fraudulent activities amounting to about N3 billion and reportedly being investigated by EFCC, is missing from Lai’s list. Also missing on that list is Bola Shagaya.

Arguably one of Africa’s richest women, with a reputation for close business and political ties to all first families in the past two decades, Bola Shagaya was exceptionally close to the Goodluck Jonathan family. Often described as a bosom friend of former first lady Patience Jonathan, she has been accused, in numerous instances, allegedly, of acting as Patience Jonathan’s front for the laundering of illicit money estimated at over N13 billion, while engaging in other fraudulent activities involved in state capture. All that may be in the past now as she has found her way back to reckoning with the marriage of her son, Seun Bakare to Damilola, the daughter of Vice President Yemi Osinbanjo. Little wonder then, Bola Shagaya’s name is not on Lai’s looters list.

In a clear display of the arrogance of ignorance, the Buhari administration has narrowed its war on corruption to the hounding of members of the Jonathan administration, other individuals and organisations that were known to have worked against the emergence of the President [Buhari] in the 2015 presidential elections. This is clearly evident in the selective nature of the current anti-corruption effort.

The tone of generalisation of the PDP as the problem of Nigeria, as an indicator of corruption, should make all members of PDP (both former and present) and their collaborators in other parties guilty, hence qualifying them for naming and shaming, while being liable for criminal prosecution.

Therefore, Buhari’s list of looters is devoid of integrity, because his selective war on corruption is indicative of corruption in itself. All that is required of a former PDP looter is to get baptised into APC and profess Buhari as the saviour of Nigeria. This is precisely responsible for the failure and ineffectiveness of the war on corruption. Nothing has changed as the current APC looters continue to loot Nigeria, while the redeemed former PDP looters continue to enjoy their loot in hibernation under the abundant grace of the infallible Buhari.

• Dahiru is based in Abuja 

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USAfrica: Mandelas say Winnie sacrificed her life for the freedom of South Africa

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WINNIE MANDELA, the anti-apartheid activist and former wife of Nelson Mandela, died a few hours ago, today April 2, 2018 — following a long illness especially an infection of her kidney. She was 81 years old.

The following is the full text of the statement by the Mandela family on the death on Monday April 2, 2018 of Winnie Mandela.

 

Special to USAfrica [Houston] • USAfricaonline.com • @Chido247 •  @USAfricaLive

It is with profound sadness that we inform the public that Mrs Winnie Madikizela-Mandela passed away at the Netcare Milpark Hospital‚ Johannesburg‚ South Africa, on Monday April 2 2018.

She died after a long illness‚ for which she had been in and out of hospital since the start of the year. She succumbed peacefully in the early hours of Monday afternoon surrounded by her family and loved ones.

Mrs. Madikizela-Mandela was one of the greatest icons of the struggle against apartheid. She fought valiantly against the apartheid state and sacrificed her life for the freedom of the country. Her activism and resistance to apartheid landed her in jail on numerous occasions‚ eventually causing her banishment to the small town of Brandfort in the then Orange Free State.

She kept the memory of her imprisoned husband Nelson Mandela alive during his years on Robben Island and helped give the struggle for justice in South Africa one its most recognisable faces. She dedicated most of her adult life to the cause of the people and for this was known far and wide as the Mother of the Nation.

The Mandela family are deeply grateful for the gift of her life and even as our hearts break at her passing‚ we urge all those who loved her to celebrate this most remarkable woman.

The family will release details of the memorial and funeral services once these have been finalised.

 

WHY I CELEBRATE THE LIFE AND WORKS OF NELSON MANDELA. By Chido Nwangwu  http://usafricaonline.com/2010/07/15/mandela-why-i-celebrate-his-life-works-by-chido-nwangwu/

—  2018 book: In this engaging, uniquely insightful and first person reportage book, MANDELA & ACHEBE: Footprints of Greatness, about two global icons and towering persons of African descent whose exemplary lives

Mandela-n-Achebe-by-Chido-book-frontcover-Lrsand friendship hold lessons for humanity and Africans, the author Chido Nwangwu takes a measure of their works and consequence to write that Mandela and Achebe have left “footprints of greatness.”

He chronicles, movingly, his 1998 reporting from the Robben Island jail room in South Africa where Mandela was held for decades through his 20 years of being close to Achebe. He moderated the 2012 Achebe Colloquium at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.”I’ll forever remember having walked inside and peeped through that historic Mandela jail cell (where he was held for most of his 27 years in unjust imprisonment) at the dreaded Robben Island, on March 27, 1998, alongside then Editor-in-chief of TIME magazine and later news chief executive of the CNN, Walter Isaacson (and others) when President Bill Clinton made his first official trip to South Africa and came to Robben Island. Come to this island of scourge and you will understand, in part, the simple greatness and towering grace of Nelson Mandela”, notes  Chido Nwangwu, award-winning writer, multimedia specialist and founder of USAfricaonline.com, the first African-owned U.S-based newspaper published on the internet, in his first book; he writes movingly from his 1998 reporting from South Africa on Mandela. http://www.mandelaachebechido.com/

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USAfricaBrkNEWS WINNIE MANDELA IS DEAD

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WINNIE MANDELA IS DEAD

The anti-apartheid activist and former wife of Nelson Mandela died a few hours ago, today April 2, 2018 — following a long illness especially an infection of her kidney. She was 81 years old.

 

The full text of the statement by the Mandela family on the death on Monday April 2, 2018 of Winnie Mandela.

Special to USAfrica [Houston] • USAfricaonline.com • @Chido247 •  @USAfricaLive

It is with profound sadness that we inform the public that Mrs Winnie Madikizela-Mandela passed away at the Netcare Milpark Hospital‚ Johannesburg‚ South Africa, on Monday April 2 2018.

She died after a long illness‚ for which she had been in and out of hospital since the start of the year. She succumbed peacefully in the early hours of Monday afternoon surrounded by her family and loved ones.

Mrs Madikizela-Mandela was one of the greatest icons of the struggle against apartheid. She fought valiantly against the apartheid state and sacrificed her life for the freedom of the country. Her activism and resistance to apartheid landed her in jail on numerous occasions‚ eventually causing her banishment to the small town of Brandfort in the then Orange Free State.

She kept the memory of her imprisoned husband Nelson Mandela alive during his years on Robben Island and helped give the struggle for justice in South Africa one its most recognisable faces. She dedicated most of her adult life to the cause of the people and for this was known far and wide as the Mother of the Nation.

The Mandela family are deeply grateful for the gift of her life and even as our hearts break at her passing‚ we urge all those who loved her to celebrate this most remarkable woman.

The family will release details of the memorial and funeral services once these have been finalised.

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USAfrica: Nigeria forces repeatedly warned before Boko Haram abducted 110 schoolgirls in Dapchi, says Amnesty

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Nigeria forces repeatedly warned before Boko Haram abducted 110 schoolgirls in Dapchi, says Amnesty

Amnesty said that between 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. on Feb. 19, at least five calls were made to tell the security services that Islamist fighters were in the Dapchi area. Locals spotted about 50 members of the Islamic State group affiliate in a convoy of nine vehicles in Futchimiram, about 30 km (19 miles) from Dapchi, then at Gumsa. In Gumsa, where Boko Haram stayed until about 5:00 p.m., residents phoned ahead to Dapchi to warn them. The convoy arrived at about 6:30 p.m. and left about 90 minutes later.

Special to USAfrica [Houston] • USAfricaonline.com

AFP:Nigeria’s military was on Tuesday accused of ignoring repeated warnings about the movements of Boko Haram fighters before they kidnapped 110 schoolgirls in the country’s restive northeast.

The students — the youngest of whom is aged just 10 — were seized from the town of Dapchi, Yobe state, on February 19, 2018 in virtually identical circumstances to those in Chibok in 2014.

Then, more than 200 schoolgirls were taken in an attack that brought sustained world attention on the Islamist insurgency and sparked a global campaign for their release.

President Muhammadu Buhari has called the Dapchi abduction a “national disaster” and vowed to use negotiation rather than force to secure their release.

But as in Chibok nearly four years ago, human rights group Amnesty International claimed the military was warned about the arrival of the heavily armed jihadists — yet failed to act.

In the hours that followed both attacks, the authorities also tried to claim the girls had not been abducted.

Amnesty’s Nigeria director Osa Ojigho said “no lessons appear to have been learned” from Chibok and called for an immediate probe into what she called “inexcusable security lapses.

“The government’s failure in this incident must be investigated and the findings made public — and it is absolutely crucial that any investigation focuses on the root causes,” she added.

“Why were insufficient troops available? Why was it decided to withdraw troops? What measures have the government taken to protect schools in northeast Nigeria?

“And what procedures are supposed to be followed in response to an attempted abduction?”

There was no immediate response from the Nigerian military when contacted by AFP.

Amnesty said that between 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. on Feb. 19, at least five calls were made to tell the security services that Islamist fighters were in the Dapchi area.

Locals spotted about 50 members of the Islamic State group affiliate in a convoy of nine vehicles in Futchimiram, about 30 km (19 miles) from Dapchi, then at Gumsa.

In Gumsa, where Boko Haram stayed until about 5:00 p.m., residents phoned ahead to Dapchi to warn them. The convoy arrived at about 6:30 p.m. and left about 90 minutes later.

Amnesty, whose researchers spoke to about 23 people and three security officials, said the army command in Geidam had told callers they were aware of the situation and were monitoring.

Police in Dapchi promised to tell divisional commanders, while army commanders in Geidam and Damaturu were also alerted during the attack, it added.

People in Dapchi have previously said troops were withdrawn from the town earlier this year, leaving only a few police officers. The nearest military detachment was an hour away.

The Dapchi abduction has thrown into doubt repeated government and military claims that Boko Haram is on the brink of defeat, after nearly nine years of fighting and at least 20,000 deaths.

Boko Haram, which has used kidnapping as a weapon of war during the conflict, has not claimed responsibility but it is believed a faction headed by Abu Mus’ab al-Barnawi is behind it.

IS in August 2015 publicly backed Barnawi as the leader of Boko Haram, or Islamic State West Africa Province, over Abubakar Shekau, whose supporters carried out the Chibok abduction.

Analysts have attributed a financial motive to the Dapchi kidnapping given government ransom payments made to Boko Haram to secure the release of some of the captives from Chibok.

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