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Nigerian behind abduction of school children surrenders

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Nigerian military personnel, pictured here on February 16, 2019, securing an area after a man was killed by suspected militants in Maiduguri, have been stretched thin, and are deployed in almost every Nigerian state. Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters * IMAGE USED FOR ILLUSTRATION

A Nigerian criminal gang leader behind the kidnapping of hundreds of schoolchildren in northwestern Katsina state in December has surrendered to authorities in an amnesty deal, officials said on Tuesday.

Auwalun Daudawa led dozens of gunmen who snatched students from their school hostels in the town of Kankara in a crime that sparked global outrage and highlighted growing instability in the country’s northwest.

The abductions happened when President Muhammadu Buhari was visiting his home state of Katsina. Some students managed to escape and officials said around 340 were freed days later after negotiations.

Daudawa surrendered to local officials on Monday with six of his gang members, the local government spokesman said in a statement.

“In a brief ceremony at the premises of the governor’s office…. Auwalun Daudawa handed over the weapons and also… swore with the Holy Quran not to revert to his old ways,” spokesman Zailani Bappa said.

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Daudawa and his comrades surrendered 20 Kalashnikov rifles and other weapons and in exchange will not be prosecuted.

Northwestern Nigeria has been terrorised by criminal gangs who raid villages, steal cattle, kidnap for ransom and burn homes after looting supplies.

The gangs’ tactics include attacking travellers at bogus checkpoints on the highway and abducting them. Hostages are usually released after ransom payment.

“Dozens of other armed bandits inside the forests have started contacting me, indicating their willingness to cease hostilities on condition that they would not be harassed afterwards,” Daudawa told local media.

In some of the latest violence, 19 people were killed at the weekend when armed men raided two villages in northwest Kaduna state.

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Most of the Kankara children were released after days in captivity following negotiations between the abductors and officials of Zamfara and Katsina states.

– Forest hideout –

Bandits hide in camps in Rugu forest, which straddles Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna and Niger states. Despite the deployment of troops in Zamfara and Katsina states deadly attacks persist.

The state government has sought instead to broker peace deals with the bandits, offering them amnesty in exchange for surrendering their arms.

Daudawa’s surrender was part of the amnesty offered to bandits, said the statement.

Security analysts have warned of infiltration of criminal gangs in the region by jihadists who are conducting a decade-long insurgency in the northeast.

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Following the schoolboys’ abduction, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau claimed responsibility in a video showing some of the children in a bush.

Security sources told AFP the abductions were carried out by Daudawa in collaboration with two bandits with a strong following, on the orders of Shekau.

Daudawa, 43, was an armed robber and a cattle rustler before he turned to gun-running, security sources said.

He began bringing in weapons from Libya, where he had received training from jihadists, selling them to bandits, the sources told AFP.

He forged an alliance with Boko Haram and became their gunrunner, taking weapons the group seizes from the Nigerian security forces in raids and ambushes and selling them to bandits.

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Nigeria: Arrested civilian not Ikonso’s deputy or an ESN agent — Kanu

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Nnamdi Kanu, rights activist and leader of the Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB)

UMUAHIA — Nnamdi Kanu, a rights activist and leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, refuted the Nigerian army’s claim that it had caught the deputy of the late ESN chief of defense, Ikonso.

The army said in a statement on Wednesday from the director of public relations, Brigadier General Mohammed Yerima, that military intelligence had followed and caught Awurum Eze, 48, in Aba, Abia state.

The military also claimed that Mr Eze was the main sponsor of attacks on members of government forces in Imo State.

But in a statement Thursday, Kanu called the military’s allegation laughable, adding that the arrested civilian is not a member of the ESN and is not Ikonso’s deputy.

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“Abduction of weak and innocent people in Biafra land is gaining momentum in the hands of the so called security agents (TERRORISTS IN UNIFORMS),” Kanu said in a statement posted on his Facebook page.

The rights activist added: “Has anybody heard of ESN headquarters anywhere in Biafraland outside in our forests?, please let the world now.

“It is said that Mr Eze the second commander of ESN in Imo state was arrested by Nigerian joint security forces at ESN headquarters… maybe in IKONSO HOUSE in IMO STATE, like always they kept on trying everything within their reach to mislead the citizens, but NEVER BIAFRANS.

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“M Branch knows where their torture chambers are in the capital city of Owerri. Very soon they will receive the appropriate results.”

The Eastern Security Network (ESN) is a local vigilance group created by the leader of IPOB in December 2020, to fight crimes and killings committed by Fulani herders and jihadists in the eastern region of the country.

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43 civilians ‘secretly abducted’ by soldiers in eastern Nigeria in one week

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IMAGE: Nigerian soldiers

At least 43 civilians were abducted by Nigerian soldiers in a week in the east of the country, a military source revealed on Wednesday.

Among those believed to have been secretly abducted, are 15 women, who were airlifted alongside 28 men from the PortHarcourt Bori camp to an undisclosed detention center in Niger state.

“They were abducted from different places in the south-east and here in Rivers State in just one week, and brought to our Barack here in PortHarcourt,” said the source, who noted that the abduction was committed during the underway military assault after a series of attacks on government forces facilities and officers by unidentified armed men.

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He disclosed that the army airlifted the victims to Niger State in Northern region of the country on Wednesday, but said no specific detention centers where they would be held.

The Nigerian military had deployed troops to the southeast and south-south of the country, following a series of attacks on police formations and government forces by unidentified gunmen.

The federal government accused the separatist group – Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) of being responsible for the attacks, but the group and some leaders in the region refuted the claim, saying that the separatist group is nonviolent and could not carry out such attacks.

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Meanwhile, at least 5 civilians were killed by soldiers in Imo State last week by soldiers deployed after an attack on a prison by unidentified gunmen who freed prisons and attacked police facilities.

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1,370 Christians massacred in Nigeria by jihadists in four months

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PHOTO: Women in Benue cry for family members killed by Fulani terrorists

No fewer than 1,370 Christians were killed in Nigeria between January and April 2021, a civil rights group, International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety), disclosed.

Of the estimated 3,500 people kidnapped in the country, 2,500 are Christians, the rights group said, adding that “the 1, 370 Christian deaths in four months is the highest number recorded since 2014 and it specifically surpassed the total number of Christians killed in the whole of 2019, estimated by the Open Doors to be 1,350.”

Open Doors, in a World Watch List report on Christians, revealed that “3,530 Christians were killed in Nigeria between November 2019 and October 2020” in attacks by Fulani herders, Boko Haram, Fulani jihadist terrorists called “bandits”, and other jihadists seeking to turn the country into an Islamic caliphate.

“The latest research investigation conducted by Intersociety took weeks and cut across all the troubling Christian areas of the country with Kaduna recording the highest number of  300 Christian deaths out of estimated total of 430 killings, followed by Benue with 200 Christian deaths, Plateau 90 Christian deaths, Igbo Land States of Ebonyi, Enugu and Anambra, etc 80 Christian deaths, Christian part of Niger States (i.e. Shiroro, Munya and Rafi, etc) 70 deaths, Taraba/Adamawa 65 deaths, Ogun/Ondo 52 Christian deaths, Kebbi 50  Christian deaths (out of over 60 killed), Borno 50 Christian deaths (out of over 110 killed), Nasarawa 30 Christian deaths, Igbo part of Delta 20 Christian deaths, Edo 20 Christian deaths, non Igbo part of Delta 10 Christian deaths, Oyo/Ekiti/Osun 30 Christian deaths, Gombe 20 Christian deaths, Christian part of Geidam in Yobe State 15 deaths (out of total killings) and Kogi State 10 Christian deaths. Nine Igbo Christians were also killed in Kibiya District of Kano State. There are also likely dozens of other Christian deaths or ‘dark figures’ not captured or recorded. The Nigerian Army also accounted for killing of at least 120 Benue, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Imo, Abia and Ebonyi defenseless Christians,” said Intersociety in a statement signed by its principal officers, Emeka Umeagbalasi, Chidimma Udegbunam, Esq., Obianuju Igboeli, Esq., and Ndidiamaka Bernard.

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“The research investigation further projected from interviews and open source reports that 250 Christians are most likely to have died or been killed in captivity of their abductors. This represents 10% of 2,500 abducted Christians across the country especially Christian travelers and rural others among them are male and young female farmers including those abducted and raped to death or killed after being raped. The totality of the above brings the number of defenseless Christians killed in Nigeria from Jan to April 2021 to 1,370; out of which Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen accounted for more than 800 Christians. Killings by Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen are concentrated in Southern Kaduna (jointly perpetrated with Fulani Bandits), Plateau, Benue, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, Delta, Edo, Southwest States, Kogi and Nasarawa. Killings by Boko Haram and Fulani Bandits are majorly witnessed in Borno, Taraba, Adamawa, Yobe, Kebbi, Gombe, Niger and FCT. Killings by ISWAP and Ansaru are concentrated in Borno, Adamawa and Taraba States.

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“In the area of the 2500 abducted Christians, the breakdown indicates that Kaduna recorded the highest number with 800 abductions out of estimated total of 1,100 abductions.  Out of the 800 abducted Christians in the State, indigenous Christians of the State accounted for 600 including those abducted in Muslim held areas of Birnin-Gwari, Igabi and Giwa Local Government Areas. The abducted Christian travelers who are not indigenes of the State also accounted for about 200 and among them are dozens of Igbo Christians resident in Northern Nigeria especially those traveling from the North to the South or Niger State and the FCT. Niger State, on its own part, recorded the second largest Christian abductees with 300 out of total of 450-500 abductions; followed by Adamawa/Taraba with 100 abductees, Borno with 50 abductees (out of not less than 130 abducted), Nasarawa with 40 abductees, Oyo/Ekiti/Osun with 40 abductees, FCT 30 abductees, Kogi 20 abductees, Ogun/Ondo 15 abductees and at least 205 others abducted by Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen in Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo, Abia, Benue, Plateau, Kebbi, Yobe, Delta, Edo, etc. Added were 500 abducted Southeast indigenous Judeo-Christians secretly being held without trial since January 2021 by Nigerian Army, SSS, Police and Navy.”

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The civil rights group, disclosed that “apart from killings, maiming and abductions by the named Jihadist groups, Governments and local institutions in the Muslim controlled Northern States are also making life very unbearable for their indigenous Christian communities. These include Katsina State where under-age Christian girls are forcefully married to Muslim men and converted to Islam.”

In attempts by the Nigerian government led by Muhammadu Buhari, a Fulani Muslim, to cover up the massacre, he falsely referred to them as ‘herders-farmers clashes’, or attacks by “bandits”, or ‘killings that cut across Muslims and Christians”, etc.

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