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Kidnappers Demand ₦270M As Ransom For Nigeria’s ABU Students

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The gunmen who kidnapped some students of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in Nigeria’s restive Kaduna State have demanded ₦270M for their release, reports said on Wednesday.

News Central reports that the students, who are studying the French Language at the institution, were abducted when the bandits intercepted some buses along the Kaduna-Abuja highway on Sunday.

Local reports said one of the students, Dickson Oko, who escaped with a gunshot injury from the kidnappers confirmed they are demanding ₦30m for each student.

He said nine students were kidnapped and not eight as earlier reported.

A female relative of one of the kidnapped students confirmed in a Voice of America (VOA) Hausa Service report that the kidnappers had reached out to the family demanding ₦30m per student.

She pleaded with the kidnappers to have mercy and release the victims, saying they were only students.

The students, who were on their way to the French Village in Lagos for their language immersion programme, were trapped at the Akilubu-Gidan Busa axis on the highway when gunmen blocked both lanes of the road and opened fire on motorists.

The Minister of Police Affairs, Muhammad Dingyadi, said on Tuesday that bandits had been degraded in the country.

Dingyadi, while briefing reporters after the quarterly meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) held at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, said bandits had been subdued and that they would not recover.

“These bandits have already been degraded. So, there is no way they can resuscitate themselves and take over. I think they have already been degraded; what they are doing is just a hit-and-run kind of tactics. So, we don’t see any sign of them coming to take over or overpower. I think they have been well degraded and they are just trying to show their presence in a very cowardly manner,” he said.

The minister, while reacting to the concerns that police had abandoned the Abuja-Kaduna road and the plans to ensure peace returned to the route, said it was an overstatement to insinuate that security agents had deserted the highway.

He said the reported cases of attacks along the route should not be interpreted that bandits had taken over despite the 24-hour patrol being jointly done by the police and the military.

“Once a small thing happens in a particular place like this Kaduna, we begin to talk about the lack of security in that area. That place is being monitored 24 hours. There are police and the army who are on a kind of joint patrol on a 24 hours basis.

“We also have our separate police formation that is also on that road. I think it is an overstatement to say that that place is not being secured. People are still following it.

“We agree that there have been cases of attacks, but these are normal things these people do whenever they have an opportunity, and we are equal to the task.

“Whenever this kind of thing happens, we pursue them like what happened just two days ago; those people were rescued. So, police and security personnel will continue to monitor this road and all other places to ensure that peace is to a very large extent maintained in the area,” he stated.

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East Africa News

Three-Year-Drought Pushes 1.5 Million People Into Hunger In Southern Madagascar

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UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) says a three-year drought in southern Madagascar has pushed 1.5 million people – over half of the population – into crisis and in need of emergency food and nutrition assistance.

Those affected include 75,000 pregnant and breastfeeding women. Also, 100,000 children aged under 5 are in danger of acute malnutrition with about 19,000 appearing to be in a ‘severe’ situation.

The WFP said the number of people in need of assistance had tripled in the past few months.

In the worst-hit area of Amboasary, three-quarters of children have dropped out of school to help their parents look for food.

Some people are exchanging essential household items, such as cooking utensils, for food.

The WFP said about $35m is needed to avert catastrophe in the area in the coming months

WFP’s Aina Andrianalizaha, who is visiting affected areas, said people are digging into the sand to find water “but rarely find any”, adding that “they have to walk several kilometres from their villages or hamlets to fetch water”

She added: “They can no longer plant and have, as a result, come to offer to exchange their scarce cooking utensils for a piece of cassava.”

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Ethiopian Forces Capture Tigray’s Capital In Final Offensive

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Ethiopian forces have captured Mekelle, the Tigrayan capital.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced this in tweets on Saturday, as he said the “Tigrayan criminals” will now be hunted by the Federal Police.

Ahmed on Friday met African envoys in Addis Ababa and reiterated that civilians in the region will not be harmed in the final offensive.

“I am pleased to share that we have completed and ceased the military operations in the #Tigray region.

“Our focus now will be on rebuilding the region and providing humanitarian assistance while Federal Police apprehend the TPLF clique.”

He said the town is now under the control of National Defence Forces, as humanitarian assistance will be provided to inhabitants of the region.

Recall that Ethiopia earlier announced that a Tigrayan town, Wikro, 50km north of Mekelle has been captured.

Tigray officials are yet to react to the Prime Minister’s claims as the region has been cut off from internet and phone access.

Both forces have been at daggers drawn since the 4th of November when Ethiopia accused Tigrayan forces of attacking state properties.

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Gunmen Kill Police Officer, Kidnap Chinese In Nigeria’s Ekiti State

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Some unknown assailants have abducted a Chinese expatriate in Nigeria’s southwest Ekiti State.

The Police in the state confirmed the incident happened in the capital, Ado Ekiti, on Friday, adding that a police officer was killed by the gunmen.

The abductee was one of the engineers working with the Chinese company handling the new Ado-Iyin road.

The Command Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Sunday Abutu, who confirmed the incident to newsmen on telephone, said the incident occurred around 4:30 p.m. along the new Ado Ekiti-Iyin Ekiti road.

He said that the abducted Chinese was one of the Engineers handling the new road network project awarded by the present administration.

Abutu said that aside from the late police officer, one other person was also shot at the scene of the incident.

“It is confirmed that a kidnapping incident occurred today at about 4:30 p.m. along new Iyin-Ekiti road.

“During the incident, one civilian, an expatriate, was kidnapped, one shot, while one policeman was shot dead.

“Our operatives are already combing the bush for possible apprehension of the perpetrators,” he said.

Abutu said that the Commissioner of Police in Ekiti, Mr Babatunde Mobayo, urged the public to be calm in spite of the incident.

“He also enjoined them to avoid any form of apprehension as the Command would do all within its powers to ensure freedom for the kidnapped expatriate and bring the culprits to book,” he said.

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