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Bandits free one Baptist student, three left in captivity

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After over 150 days in captivity, one of the remaining four students of Bethel Baptist High School, Kaduna has been released by bandits.

Also, the group of bandits which abducted the 66 worshippers at the Emmanuel Baptist Church, Kakau Daji in Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State, are demanding N99m as ransom for the 61 still in custody.

Briefing journalists on Friday, Vice Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the Northern States and Abuja, Rev. John Hayab, confirmed the release of the Bethel Baptist student.

He said additional N5m was paid before the hoodlums could release the student.

Bandits broke into Bethel Baptist High School premises at Damishi along the Kaduna – Kachia highway, Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State on July 5, and whisked away 121 students, who were later released in batches.

Hayab, who is also the chairman of the CAN in Kaduna State, said the released student, who happens to be the Head Boy of the school, was let go on health grounds.

He commended the student for his exemplary behaviour, saying that the Head Boy, concealed his identity and had vowed to be the last to leave the bandits’ den following the release of the students in batches.

According to him, the Head Boy had said that until all his students were released, he will remain in the captivity but he had to be released because he was down and sick.

This, he said, forced the bandits to pressure the church for the release of the Head Boy, adding that they had to gather almost the N5m demanded by the bandits before his release.

The CAN leader said the association would honour the student for his for the sterling leadership quality he displayed in the face of danger.

“Actually, I called you people to let you know that four of our children are still with the bandits. But two days ago, the bandits released one boy out of the four Bethel Baptist High School students that are with them. They actually release the Head Boy.

“The Head Boy has refused to come back in all the releases. That boy is worth celebrating. That boy if at his age he can display that leadership quality, we are impressed. But he has fallen terribly sick because of the long time thru have stayed in the bush.

“So, the bandits had put pressure on us for another money. They insisted that for the four remaining students, we must pay N5m each before they could be release. But we made efforts and almost N5m was given to them. Then, they released the Head Boy who actually was weak and down. He has refused that until every student is release, he can not leave but for his ill-health.

“Nigerians need to know that pur students are still with these bandits. The Bethel Baptist High School students have not come back all; three are still with them since they have release the head boy and that means they are demanding from us additional N5m per head for the remaining three. We have paid them hugh sum of money and look at how they are treating us.”

Hayab, also said the abductors of the 66 worshippers of the Emmanuel Baptist Church, Kakau Daji in Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State, were demanding N99m as ransom to release the 61 remaining people abductees in their custody after killing five of them.

Sixty-six worshippers were kidnapped by bandits who invaded the church on Sunday 31, October, 2021 during service.

Two of abductees were killed on the spot; two others were shot dead later while one was injured and hospitalised.

Hayab wondered the essence of the telecommunication shutdown when in the real sense the government could not use such measure to track down the kidnappers of the worshippers as well as the remaining Bethel Baptist High School students who had spent over 150 days in captivity.

“As I speak with you bandits that took away 66 worshipper at Emmanuel Baptist Church, Kakau Daji on the 31st October, 2021 and on November 6th, they picked five young men between the ages of 15 to 24 as if they were going to release them, not knowing that they had evil intension.

“When they came bear home, they opened fire on all of them. Two died on the spot and one later died. We have buried three and two others who sustained are still being treated but the 61 are with them in the bush and nothing is happening .

“They first asked us to give them food which they refused but later accepted. Then, they are demanding for N99m for those 61 people that are with them. So, where is the security working to fish out these criminals.

“Are there no security anymore? When they kidnapped along the Kaduna – Abuja a few days ago, the police and others(security operatives) quickly went there. So, where have they been that all these things are happening to worshippers?

“From 31st October, 2021, they have spent 26 days in the hands of these bandits and no effort whatsoever. Our children have spent over 150 days in the hands of the bandits and no effort made to rescue them.

“We are paying money. We rejoice that our head boy is back but we are sad because of the other three. And we are sad because of the experience all these children are going through in hand of the bandits throughout this period.

“These made us to ask questions over all this shutting down of telecommunication network. What has happened to it. Have we not used it to track criminals. Have we not used it that these bandits could still be having field days to keep our children to be demanding for such money from us?

“I thought they would have tracked them. So, they came up with an unpopular policy that is just punishing citizens and it’s not bringing any succour to the people. Look at what we are back to now. This is the challenge we face,” he added.

The Cleric also commended the West African Examination Council for allowing the abducted final year students to write the final examination.

He knocked the National Examination Council for its refusal to allow the final year students who had gone through hell in the hands of bandits to write their examination despite plea from the association and well meaning Nigerians.

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Lagos Assembly kicks against harassment of residents by police

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Lagos State House of Assembly Speaker, Mudashiru Obasa, yesterday, cautioned police in the state against harassment, intimidation and extortion of residents.

Obasa said this on the floor of the House when lawmakers honoured outgoing Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hakeem Odumosu, who has been promoted to Assistant Inspector-General, and is due to retire in January 2022.

Obasa said Odumosu was honoured as the first Commissioner of Police in the state to stand before the lawmakers and address Lagosians on his experience policing the state.

The Speaker thanked Odumosu for his openness and responsiveness to issues affecting the peace of the state.

“It is important to call on those behind you to know that the relationship between the police and the people need to be constantly improved upon,” Obasa said, adding that men of the Nigeria Police Force need to build more trust among the people.

“Everybody must be treated with respect, dignity and honour. And that is how we can earn respect. Policing should not be about harassment and extortion but building trust among the people and making them comfortable,” Obasa said.

The Commissioner of Police, who led a team of officers to the House, thanked the lawmakers for their support. According to him, nothing could have been achieved in terms of security and peace in the state without assistance of the House.

He said he would remain grateful to Lagosians for making it possible for him and his team to effectively manage the security of the state.

Odumosu, who described Lagos as ‘mini-Nigeria’, said proactivity of the Assembly led to the creation of laws that helped the police remain successful in the state.

He said the Cultism Prohibition Law also helped to reduce illegal associations in tertiary institutions in the state and enlightened property owners and residents.

“We promise to continue to excel in providing watertight security for people of the state,” he told the lawmakers. He also promised he would encourage his successor to sustain the relationship between the police and the House, while urging the lawmakers to extend their support to his successor.

“Policing Lagos is not a tea party. Without the laws in Lagos, it would have been difficult to police the state. Don’t get tired, don’t relent in making laws that would make Lagos maintain its place as the most peaceful state in Nigeria,” he said.

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Omicron: Govts may shut down schools; 647m children yet to fully resume

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THE World Bank has said that the new wave of COVID-19 pandemic that has seen a variant of the virus, Omicron, ravaging the world, may lead to governments across the globe being tempted to shut down schools again.

The World Bank has said this in a report titled: “Reversing the pandemic’s education losses”, recently released.

In the said report, the bank also said no fewer than 647 million school children are yet to fully resume for either physical or online learning.

It added that school children in developing nations are the hardest hit regarding the negative effects the pandemic has had on education globally.

“When schools around the world moved online due to COVID-19, children in developing countries suffered the most.

“Even though digital learning does not produce the same outcomes as in-person education, technology used effectively can close educational gaps and prevent learning loss.

“As the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic approaches, classrooms remain fully or partially closed for as many as 647 million schoolchildren around the world.

“Even where schools have reopened, many students continue to lag behind. It is now abundantly and painfully clear that children have learned less during the pandemic.”

According to World Bank estimates, pandemic-related school closures could drive up “learning poverty” – the share of 10-year-olds who cannot read a basic text – to around 70% in low- and middle-income countries.

This learning loss could cost an entire generation of schoolchildren $17 trillion in lifetime earnings.

“As the Omicron variant takes hold, more governments may be tempted to close schools. Without the online infrastructure in place to support learning, doing so would extend the educational losses and deny children many other benefits of daily school attendance, like the possibility to connect with classmates and develop social skills for personal growth.

“Interactions with teachers and peers are essential to develop the abilities necessary to work collaboratively. Being part of a class promotes a sense of belonging and helps build self-esteem and empathy.

“Throughout the pandemic, marginalised children have struggled the most. When classrooms around the world reopened this fall, it became clear that these children had fallen even further behind their peers.

“Before the pandemic, gender parity in education was improving. But school closures placed an estimated 10 million more girls at risk of early marriage, which practically guarantees the end of their schooling.

“Unless this regression is reversed, learning poverty and the associated human capital loss will hold economies and societies back for decades. Children must be given a chance to recover the education they have lost.

“They need access to well-designed reading materials, digital learning opportunities, and transformed education systems that help prepare them for future challenges. Well qualified teachers and effective use of technology are fundamental to this process.

“Many countries have deployed massive stimulus packages in response to the health crisis. But, as of June 2021, less than three per cent of these funds was devoted to the education and training sector.

“And most of these resources were spent in advanced economies. For many low-income countries, elevated debt-service payments crowd out essential social spending – including for education.

“The resulting weakness in investments to support education and training threatens to deepen the disparities in learning outcomes that existed prior to the pandemic.

“And while narrowing the education gap will require using resources more efficiently, the bottom line is that more resources are needed.

“For the world’s poorest countries, in particular, an acceleration in debt relief under the G20’s Common Framework, would provide fiscal space to increase support for human capital.

Investment in education must include funding for educational technology, taking into account what has worked well in different contexts around the world,” the report said.

The Bank called for improved investment in infrastructure to move education to the digital level and commended countries such as Uruguay and India for making giant strides in that direction.

“By investing in learning recovery and using technology wisely, it is possible to use the pandemic experience as a catalyst to improve education for all children.

“The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Bank Group are working together to ensure that all education systems use technology effectively to close gaps and help reverse learning losses.

“Embedding the use of technology within an overall strategy for ending learning poverty can help improve foundational skills, increase instructional time, and make the most efficient use of resources.

“This is particularly critical in low-income countries, where technology can provide teachers with the support they need quickly.

“Digital access can serve as a great equalizer. Resources must be invested wisely, taking into account countries’ electricity infrastructure, internet connectivity, digitally enabled devices for the most disadvantaged students, and data-management and implementation capacity.

“Without a carefully considered process to increase the use of technology, good intentions and well-designed policies will fail to achieve the recovery and acceleration of learning that developing countries need.

Access to quality education was uneven before the pandemic, and now it is even more so.

“By investing in learning recovery and using technology wisely, it is possible to use the pandemic experience as a catalyst to improve education for all children,” the report added

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Police nabs notorious bandit, Maiyammata during kidnap attempt

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Police Tactical Operatives in Zamfara arrested a notorious bandit popularly known as Maiyammata on Wednesday.

The wanted criminal, who hails from Mayasa village, was apprehended within Zurmi Local Government Area during a patrol.

Commissioner of Police, Ayuba Elkanah, said he was arrested while trying to kidnap passengers at Koliya.

Maiyammata, formerly of the Bello Turji gang, is now believed to be working for another wanted kingpin, Kachalla Sani-Black.

Sani-Black operates along Zurmi, Shinkafi and Birnin Magaji Local Government Areas.

“One AK-47 rifle, double magazines with three rounds of live ammunition and one Boxer motorcycle was recovered from him”, the CP told newsmen.

Elkanah added that efforts are on to catch Maiyammata’s partners before charges will be filed in court.

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