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Many Boko Haram commanders willing to surrender, says Gumi

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Kaduna-based Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, has revealed that several Boko Haram commanders are willing to surrender and urged the federal government to use proper engagement to negotiate with the group.

Gumi stated this in Kaduna on Sunday after hosting the released students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka, Kaduna

He also reiterated his call on the government to negotiate with bandits.

The cleric noted that information at his disposal revealed that many Boko Haram commanders were willing to surrender and be integrated into society.

He further disclosed that the bandits were also putting pressure on him to assist them with amnesty.
“But with Boko Haram – although we have reliable information from some contacts too that many of their commanders want to surrender; So, I think that with serious engagement and government involvement in these issues on a serious note, I think we will overcome. You see, in Nigeria, we are a tribal society. So, every group has elders that they listen to,” Gumi explained.

Gumi also disclosed that he had reached out to 80 per cent of the bandits’ leaders and they were willing to surrender, adding that the remaining 20 per cent were the ones still causing havoc.
He also argued that the government should engage the bandits and provide them with schools and amnesty so that they could live a normal life.

According to him, the bandits are not more than 100,000, adding that government should be able to provide for their needs.
The cleric revealed that the bandits that kidnapped the Kaduna Greenfield University students have also suspended their initial plan to kill the students and expressed the hope that they will also regain their freedom.

On whether ransom was paid for the release of the school of forestry students, Gumi said his team did not pay any ransom.
He, however, added that some parents, who were impatient, went behind his team to tell the bandits that they were willing to pay.

Gumi pointed out that he did not know if those parents paid ransom or not.
Reacting to the issue of whether the students were molested sexually or not, Gumi disclosed that a notorious bandit who wanted to take away a female student to unknown location to molest her was killed by his colleagues to prove the point that they were not irresponsible but were just agitating for better welfare.

According to him, the bandits are different from the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the other groups agitating in the South because they believe in the government of Nigeria and other constituted authorities.
Speaking earlier at the reception he held for the released Afaka students, Gumi asked them to put the ugly past behind them and pursue their education.

“My appeal to government is to engage with the bandits so that the bandits can abandon their ways.
“They are already showing signs that they are ready. They have grievances, which I think if we come together we can cure this menace in a very short time,” he said.

He called for the cooperation of governments at all levels to resolve the security challenges.
“We want the cooperation of federal, state and local governments; the clergy and other well-meaning Nigerians should all come together to sit down and talk,” he said.

Asked how he secured the release of the students, Gumi said: “You don’t negotiate with your friend, you negotiate with your enemy. The first thing you do is to try and break the ice and break the barrier between you and the person you are negotiating with and also build confidence by demonstrating that you are not going to cheat them or deceive them.

“If there is that level of communication, then negotiation comes in the third phase.
“These are people who have been involved in this kind of criminality for a long time, we have to use psychology on them because it is not possible over night to just consent.

“But preaching to them, admonishing them and showing them the way out of their problems helped a lot in getting them to understand and release these children.”

Also in his remarks former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who was represented by Mr. Vitalis Ortese, congratulated everyone for making it possible for the release of the students and expressed the hope that “this will lead to the release of other persons in captivity.”

Speaking on behalf of the parents, Mr. Friday Sani, expressed gratitude to Gumi and Obasanjo for their roles in ensuring the release of the students.

He said: “We are here to appreciate the emancipating team led by Sheikh Gumi. He stood by us to the end. We are happy that our children are back to us.
“The leaders of tomorrow who will make this country proud. We want to give God the glory for what He has done for us.

“We are praying that God will help them to overcome the trauma they went through.
“Some of us have been going in and out of hospitals for them to receive proper treatment.
“We need the support of the government to rehabilitate these children so that they will be fit enough to return to school. Today is a happy day for us.”

Meanwhile, the parents have dismissed speculations that the students were sexually molested while in captivity.
In a statement on Sunday in Kaduna, spokesman of the parents, Mr. Abdullahi Usman, said the speculations being circulated online that the students were sexually molested is not true.
Usman said while the parents were basking in the joy of having reunited with their children who were released unharmed.

“On behalf of the parents, we wish to set the records straight and hope that this will end the circulation of the fabrication of the stories. We state in unequivocal terms that none of the 37 kidnapped (now freed) Afaka students were sexually or homosexually molested by the bandits,” he said.

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Army withholds salaries of 45 soldiers in Borno

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Authorities of the 7 Division Nigerian Army, Maiduguri, have withheld the salaries of 45 soldiers, according to sources.

The soldiers, who were among the 149 troops of the 153 Task Force Battalion withdrawn from Marte, Borno State, after spending three years in counterinsurgency operations, were accused of for abandoning their duty posts.

The battalion came under attack on three occasions during which several soldiers were killed while a range of weapons, equipment and vehicles were either carted away or destroyed.

The battalion was overhauled after the last attack in February.

A source said necessary changes were made and troops who served with the battalion were moved to different formations in Maiduguri before a new deployment was made.

“Some of the soldiers who were not seen at their new units were believed to have gone on AWOL (Absence Without Leave). Their salaries accounts were not credited in April,” he said.

But one of the affected soldiers said the allegation of desertion against them was untrue.

“We were not given our salaries and when we asked our supervisors in the 7 Division, we were shocked to hear that we had forfeited all our entitlements over desertion.”

Attempts to get the response of army authorities were not successful.

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EFCC goes after top officials of PDP over N10bn scandal

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PDP Wins Kaduna Assembly Bye-election

The Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) has invited officials of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for questioning over alleged criminal conspiracy, abuse of office, diversion of funds and fraud.

This is coming barely a month after a chieftain in the PDP, Kazeem Afegbua, petitioned the anti-graft agency to scrutinise the Secondus-led National Working Committee on financial misappropriation.

In the letter of invitation dated May 17, 2021, and addressed to the Prince Uche Secondus, the EFCC said the need to obtain certain clarification from the party has become imperative.

The agency, however, requested the party’s National chairman to release the National Auditor, National Organising Secretary and Director of Finance to report at the EFCC headquarters from May 19th to 21st 2021.

The agency also requested the national officers to honor the invitation with relevant documents relating to sole of forms into the party’s elective positions from January 2017 to date.

Kazeem had in his petition alleged that much of the financial transactions of the PDP under Prince Uche Secondus has been shrouded in mystery, accusing the leadership of deliberate attempt to shortchange the party in the build up to the 2023 general elections.

However, Secondus had since denied the allegation and filed a N1 billion suit against the petitioner, Kazeem Afegbua.

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Nigeria’s drug control agency approves new COVID-19 vaccine

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The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), has granted approval for the conditional emergency use of Janssen COVID-19 vaccine in Nigeria.

Janssen COVID-19 vaccine is the third vaccine recommended for administration in the country.

The director-general of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojiola Adeyeye, in a statement on Tuesday, said information on the vaccine shows it met the criteria for efficacy, safety and quality.

She said, “The Janssen COVID-19 vaccine is administered as a single dose. Results from a clinical trial involving people in the United States, South Africa and Latin American countries found that Janssen COVID-19 vaccine was effective at preventing COVID-19 in people from 18 years of age.

“The Phase III clinical trial involved over 44,000 people. Half received a single dose of the vaccine and half were given placebo (a dummy injection). People did not know if they had been given Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine or placebo.

According to her, the trial showed a 67 per cent reduction in the number of symptomatic COVID-19 cases after two weeks in people who received Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine.

The most commonly reported side effects were pain at the injection site, headache, fatigue, muscle aches and nausea. Most of these side effects were mild to moderate in severity and lasted 1-2 days.

On the vaccine safety, Adeyeye said NAFDAC, in line with its pharmacovigilance and safety monitoring plan for COVID-19 vaccines, will closely monitor and subject the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine to several activities that apply specifically to COVID-19 vaccines.

The AstraZeneca vaccine which Nigeria has been giving out has garnered many sceptics internationally after some recipients of the vaccine died.

At least 16 countries including Germany, France and Sweden have suspended the use of AstraZeneca, which put on the Nigerian government to suspend it.

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