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Katsina attack: Military considers external help to rescue abducted schoolboys

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The military is considering the option of seeking external help to rescue over 300 schoolboys of Government Science Secondary School (GSSS) Kankara, Katsina State abducted last Friday by bandits.

A top military officer was quoted by THISDAY as saying one of the options being considered is for the Federal Government to seek assistance from the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM).

This is to launch a rescue bid leveraging its sophisticated technology for such operation.

The military also dismissed claims by Boko Haram that it masterminded the abduction of the pupils last Friday.

It described the claim of the terror organisation, made by its acclaimed leader, Mr. Abubakar Shekau, as mere propaganda.

Katsina State Governor, Aminu Masari, said 17 pupils had escaped from their captors.

Another report, however, claimed that two of the abductees might have been killed.

The Senate has summoned the defence minister and security chiefs over the abduction.

A military source said rescuing the pupils would be faster with help from US AFRICOM.

AFRICOM had recently alerted Nigeria and other West African nations that ISIS, al-Qaeda and other terror groups were making inroads into the West African sub-region, exploiting local differences and collaborating with affiliates.

The United States Special Forces recently rescued an American kidnapped from a farm in Niger Republic in Sokoto State.

During the operations, the Special Forces killed six of the kidnappers, four from Niger and two from Nigeria.

THISDAY gathered that the Federal Government could be reaching out to the US government (AFRICOM) in view of its recent intelligence alert on the movement of terror groups to the sub-region.

“At many levels, strategic levels there is a flurry of activities to rescue the children safely and keep the peace of the nation,” the source added.

The source said the military was looking at many options irrespective of ongoing negotiations with the kidnappers.

The source also dismissed claims by Boko Haram that it staged the kidnap of the Katsina students as propaganda.

He said, “We have our constitutional mandate, which we are pursuing. We are not discouraging other options, be it negotiations or any other thing.

“We are focused on the rescue of the children, having established location. The issue of collateral damage is also being looked at. The safety of the children is paramount.”

On the claim by Boko Haram that it kidnapped the pupils, the source, who asked not to be named, said, “It is in their character to make such bogus claims in situations like this. It is part of their propaganda. Anything that happens in Nigeria is linked to Boko Haram.

“The fact that they have collaborators is not in doubt but this is propaganda.”

17 students escaped from captivity, says Masari

Katsina State Governor, Aminu Masari, in an interview with journalists late on Monday after he briefed President Muhammadu Buhari in Daura on efforts made to rescue the students, said 17 out of the 333 abducted schoolchildren had returned home.

Masari had earlier told the Minister of Defence, Maj. Gen. Salihi Magashi (rtd), who on Sunday led security chiefs on a sympathy visit to the people of the state that 333 pupils were missing after the invasion of the school.

The governor, who said frantic efforts were ongoing to rescue the remaining captives, added that the 17 freed students were released “unconditionally” and had since been reunited with their family members.

He said: “As at today (Monday), information available to me shows that 17 of the missing children have been found. Fifteen of them were found around Dinya in Danmusa. I was informed by the DPO. One other was found through them and the last, the father called that his son has returned home.

“All these missing children who have been found have been reunited with their families since we have shut down the schools. Majority of the missing children are in the forest in Zamfara. But God willing, the children will be returned safely.

“I was told that they spoke with a teacher whose son was also kidnapped that the bandits said the helicopter should stop roving and that they will collect ransom but they didn’t specify. And so they ended the call.”

Masari explained that one of the abducted children’s fathers, who is also a teacher at the school, was contacted by the bandits who warned that security forces should stop aerial patrol of their hideouts.

He added that the bandits demanded that adequate money should be set aside pending the completion of the ongoing rescue mission.
However, two of the abducted students have been reportedly killed by their abductors.

A parent, whose son is among those kidnapped by the bandits, told THISDAY yesterday on condition of anonymity that one of the students who escaped from the kidnappers’ den said the hoodlums killed two of the schoolboys in his presence.

He said the student told them that while in captivity, they were made to go through inhumane experiences, including being flogged like animals and fed with wild flora.

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President Has Recovered Over N1trn Stolen Funds, Says PACAC

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Chairman of PACAC, Prof. Itse Sagay

•Funds used to finance annual budget

The Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) yesterday put the total amount of stolen assets recovered by the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration since 2015 at over N1trn.

Briefing journalists in Lagos yesterday, the Chairman of PACAC, Prof. Itse Sagay, who reeled out the achievements of the committee said the federal government had been deploying some part of the recovered funds towards financing the annual budget, especially its social intervention scheme.

Sagay, who said the fight against corruption in the country had come a long way, describing it as both sweet and sour, stressed that a lot of work still needed to be done to rid Nigeria of corruption.

He also said PACAC has continued to carry out capacity building initiatives for the various anti-corruption agencies as well as Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

“This has resulted in these stakeholders having an improved understanding of their individual roles in the criminal justice system, both in its substantive and procedural aspects. The impact of this effort is reflected in increased number of cases filed and concluded and the improvement in the rate of conviction of looters.

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“Total recoveries are hovering around the N1 trillion mark, and even more remarkably these recoveries have been recycled into the budget to uplift the oppressed and most vulnerable victims of corruption, namely, the young unemployed youths, young school children, who can now enjoy one free nutritional meal a day at school, extremely poor families who now receive the conditional cash transfer of N5,000 a month and women, youths, farmers, etc, who now receive interest free loans to capitalise their small scale businesses.

“So the recovered loot is pumped back into the lives of the most vulnerable Nigerians, in order to transform them into proud productive Nigerians, who will end up as employers themselves, contributing to the development of Nigeria,” he added.

According further, he said another contribution of PACAC in the war against corruption was the Committee’s concentration on illicit financial flows (IFF).

He claimed that very little was known about IFF in the country before PACAC brought it into centre stage nationally and internationally.

“Now, we know that this silent, quietly stalking source of financial bleeding, could even be worse in terms of volume of loss, than the typical looting we are all used to. Over invoicing of external expenses, under reporting of resources obtained from the developing countries, tax evasion, under declaration of profits, out sourcing of what could be done within the victim country, etc, all constitute IFFs,” he added.

The PACAC chairman disclosed that the massive losses underdeveloped countries like Nigeria were experiencing as a result of IFFs were recently documented and published by the Global Financial Integrity.

According to the report, Nigeria lost $83 billion in the period 1960 – 2011 and currently, “it is losing more than $45 billion annually.”

“Therefore, the importance of concentrating our minds on IFFs, as PACAC did for two consecutive years, through major international conferences and other strategic engagements, cannot be over stated.

“I have concentrated on only a few items of PACAC’s work, but the varied and extensive level of its work has been remarkable. We have organised Workshops for the Management and Protection of Assets, and an Asset Tracing Team/Central Asset Management Committee, was established in the first term of this Government with membership drawn from the Anti-Corruption Agencies, the Security Agencies, our Committee (PACAC) and from the highest echelons of Government.

“We have also produced manuals and protocols to assist the ACAs (Anti-Corruption Agencies) in their work. These include one on Effective Prosecution, entitled Corruption Case Management Manual, a Plea-Bargaining Manual, and Sentencing Guidelines for High Profile Cases, and A Frame Work for the Management of Recovered Assets, etc,” he added.

Sagay said the committee believes that productivity would be greatly enhanced and corruption greatly curbed if parents arouse themselves to inculcate the needed core values in the children; if schools at all levels become centres of character moulding and manpower development and religious values are deployed by Pastors and Imams in both theory and practice to re-mould the character and orientation of Nigerians.

He also advised the federal government, labour unions, civil society organisations and main stream civil servants to work together to reform the civil service to make it productive rather than a drain on the nation.

Thisday

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LPG, Nigeria’s most viable way to zero emissions – Osinbajo

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The use of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) as a transition fuel is the viable option for Nigeria to address climate change and energy poverty, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has said.

Laolu Akande, the VP’s spokesperson, said this in a statement on Tuesday.

According to Laolu, Osinbajo made the declaration while delivering his keynote address in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, at the week-long World Liquified Petroleum Gas Association (WLPGA) forum themed ‘Energizing Tomorrow.’

Osinbajo said LPG and natural gas are sustainable energy fuels that could address both climate change and energy poverty simultaneously.

“The world should not have to choose between energy poverty and climate change as this can be addressed with both natural gas and Liquified Petroleum Gas as transition fuels alongside other renewable sources,” the VP reportedly said..

  1. The VP said that it was ‘worrying that a growing number of wealthy nations have banned or restricted public investment in fossil fuels, including natural gas.’

This, according to the vice-president, resulted from increasing pressures to address climate concerns in the world without reviewing the economic importance of such investments to developing countries.

“Such policies often do not distinguish between different kinds of fossil fuels, nor do they consider the vital role some of these fuels play in powering the growth of developing economies, especially in sub-Saharan Africa,” he said.

“As development finance institutions try to balance climate concerns against the need to spur equitable development and increase energy security, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union have all taken aggressive steps to limit fossil fuel investments in developing and emerging economies.

“The World Bank and other multilateral development banks are being urged by some shareholders to do the same. The African Development Bank, for instance, is increasingly unable to support large natural gas projects in the face of European shareholder pressure.”

While acknowledging that all countries should play important roles in the fight against climate change, he emphasised that ‘a global transition away from carbon-based fuels must account for the economic differences between countries and allow for multiple pathways to net-zero emissions.

 

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FG: We have enough COVID vaccines to cover 70% Nigerians

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Nigeria has enough vaccines that can cover over 70 per cent of the country’s population before the end of 2022, Secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, has said.

The SGF said this at the national COVID-19 summit held at Muhammadu Buhari Conference Centre in Abuja, tagged ‘Pushing Through the Last Mile to End the Pandemic and Build Back Better’.

He said, “Nigeria has invested in enough vaccines that can cover over 70 per cent of our population before the end of 2022. These vaccines are safe and efficacious; hence, it is better and safer to be vaccinated against this virus, now.”

He said the summit was to create the opportunity to identify successes, gaps and lessons learnt so far in Nigeria’s national response to the pandemic since March 2020 to date.

He added that the summit is also aimed at developing strategies to actualise the international commitments towards ending COVID-19 before the end of 2022.

“Today, we are here to assess the level of impact of our national response and develop strategies as we push through the last mile to end the pandemic while we build back better,” he said.

The SGF said, “There is no gainsaying that the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria, which was triggered when the index case was confirmed on the 27th of February 2020, precipitated significant disruptions to the healthcare system and socio-economic lives of Nigerians.

​”Due to the evolving dynamics of COVID-19 pandemic with progressive mutations of the virus to more transmissible and deadly variants, the international community has corroborated the insinuation that the pandemic will persist for few more years.

“This understanding has impelled world leaders recently to come to a conclusion that if efforts are not renewed and aggressive measures are not taken, COVID-19 pandemic will continue to ravage humanity well longer than earlier envisaged. Hence, the need to adopt an ambitious (but cautious) agenda to end the COVID-19 pandemic by the year 2022.”

He said the summit is a follow-up towards Nigeria’s commitment to the ambitious global agenda/movement to end the COVID-19 pandemic by 2022 and build back better.

“​Global efforts at ending COVID-19 pandemic are intrinsically linked to the call for nations of the world to take steps towards strengthening their health system and bio-security- which will make for better pandemic preparedness and the ability to respond more robustly and swiftly to future pandemics,” Mustapha said.

 

He asked stakeholders to encourage all eligible persons to get vaccinated and keep observing the necessary preventive COVID-19 measures.

 

 

 

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