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Nigerian Military: We’ll Rescue Abducted Schoolboys By All Means

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Nigeria’s military is promising to spare no effort, including deploying maximum force, in recovering the schoolboys abducted by the Boko Haram terrorist group.

News Central reports that the insurgents had stormed Government Science Secondary School, Kankara in Katsina State, northwest Nigeria, last Friday and kidnapped no fewer than 300 students.

Boko Haram later claimed responsibility for the abduction on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, the Nigerian military in a statement, allayed fears over the safety of President Muhammadu Buhari, who arrived in Daura, his hometown in Katsina, on a week-long private visit, hours before the gunmen attacked the school.

The families of the kidnapped schoolboys are concerned that the abducted children may be brainwashed or held for years, as security forces continue the hunt for their armed captors.

The Coordinator of Defence Media Operations (DDMO), Maj. Gen. John Enenche, said at a media briefing in Abuja, that the armed forces were determined to rescue the schoolchildren by all means “whichever way, head or tail.”

Enenche said, “we have not received any information that any of them is dead. From the information that we have, monitoring the situation and then the troops are on the ground, as it were, they started patrolling the whole of that area, which I’m not giving you the specifics, to ensure the information we gathered from Government House security operatives, other than military sources of information, are intact”.

According to him, the armed forces are working round-the-clock to ensure that the schoolboys are rescued alive.

“The truth is that there is no sleeping for anybody. No sleeping for all of us. We are all there with other security agencies working day and night to ensure that these children come out of this experience alive, as soon as possible.”

On whether the military will support the advocacy championed by Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum, for Nigeria to engage military contractors to rout Boko Haram, he said that was exclusively for the Federal Government to decide.

He said: “Efforts are in the highest speed to ensure that the children come out unhurt and that we don’t record any loss of life, particularly amongst them. All the security agencies in that location are all working assiduously and keeping tabs on the situation and tracking the criminals to ensure that the children are brought out alive.”

On the possibility that the Katsina abduction may end up like the Chibok girls kidnap, he said Boko Haram was engaging in propaganda to engineer its discreet followers to boost their ego and relevance, in spite of the fact that they have lost territories.

Enenche, who dismissed claims by Boko Haram of being responsible for the attacks said: “Based on the characteristics of terrorists all over the world, from the time when we had Al-Qaeda, Taliban, and the likes, they have always liked to boost their ego and claim responsibility for what they did not do. Now, somebody is saying he is Shekau, and Shekau is a brand and somebody is using his voice. The total aim of terrorists is to instill fear in people, even beyond their scope of influence. So on that ground, it’s just in their character to begin to show relevance of what they cannot even do.”

Talking about the exchange of gunfire in the Kankara area, he said “other operations were on and are still on. We have as it is now and as it were, van patrols even up till yesterday.

“So, if you are hearing gunfire, it is a normal kinetic action going on in other areas and not directed at the location where the children are because what we have seen is that maximum caution is being exercised and professionally handled to ensure that the children come out alive. Gunfire hearing in any operational area is not news,” Enenche added.

He also reached out to the parents of the kidnapped schoolboys, saying: “I’m a father of four children and I have lost relations and some of my soldiers; so the experience is never the same. They are always fresh.

“So I know what it means and I can say that we feel it. We are concerned and putting everything on the ground, strategies and plans in place with other security agencies working with us to ensure that they come out alive.”

He urged them to exercise patience and to continue to pray until the pupils are rescued.

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Sirleaf, Gebreyessus Not Impressed With COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution

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Former Liberian President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has described the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out plan as disappointing and discouraging.

Sirleaf who co-chairs the World Health Organisation pandemic review said she’s highly disappointed with the roll-out plans which leaves African countries unable to benefit from the vaccines until 2022 or 2023.

“The panel is discouraged and frankly disappointed by the unequal plans for vaccine rollout,” the former Nobel Peace Prize winner was quoted to have told the Executive Committee of the WHO.

COVID-19 rollout plans and distribution have caused rising topics of a relegation of African countries to the backseat in the distribution.

Several bodies have raised concerns about attempts to sideline African countries in early distribution, with the rest of the world said to be earliest beneficiaries while African nations wait.

In the same vein, Tedros Gebreyessus, Director-General of the WHO said there may be a “catastrophic moral failure” if the lowest income countries of the world are abandoned in the vaccination plans.

“COVID19 vaccines are the shot in the arm we all need literally & figuratively. But the promise of equitable access is at serious risk.
39M+ doses have now been administered in at least 49 higher-income countries.
Just 25 doses have been given in one lowest-income country,” he said.

He also called for the prioritisation of the aged and health workers in the vaccination programme.

African countries are expecting vaccines through the WHO’s COVAX facility, with all but 20 countries of the world signifying interest.

Among those who are yet to agree are the United States, China and Russia.

Norway has however promised to supply vaccines to low-income countries of the world, many of which are in Africa.

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CAR Election: UN, AU Urge Respect for Court Ruling

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The UN and regional bodies have urged all political actors in the Central African Republic (CAR) to respect the country’s Constitutional Court decision on the Dec. 27 general elections.

Senior officials of the UN, European Union, African Union and the Commission of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) made the appeal in a joint communique on Monday evening.

In its decision earlier on Monday, the court upheld the victory of incumbent President Faustin-Archange Touadéra, shunning reports and allegations of poor voter turnout.

The opposition has reportedly dismissed Touadéra’s victory as illegitimate, and demanded a re-run of the elections.

In the communique, the organisations pleaded with all sides to work towards consolidating democracy and the rule of law in the country.

Stressing the importance of dialogue in the quest for lasting peace and stability, they advised the central government to promote “national unity, respect for democratic principles, political and inclusive dialogue and good governance”.

The officials also called for strengthening of national institutions, pursuit of the peace process, fight against impunity, and the implementation of inclusive socio-economic initiatives.

These, they said, should include post-conflict reconstruction and development programmes to provide the people with the dividends of peace while alleviating their plight.

Since the election, six main rebel groups opposed to Touadéra’s election have formed an alliance with a threat to take control of the capital, Bangui.

The insurgents have launched series of attacks targeting government forces and UN peacekeepers.

The UN, EU, AU and ECCAS officials expressed concerns over escalating violence and coordinated attacks, including those aimed at capturing Bangui.

They strongly condemned the violence perpetrated by certain armed groups aimed at “undermining the electoral process and destabilise the country”.

The officials also flayed hate speech and incitement to violence fueled by disinformation campaigns.

“We encourage all actors to work together, in a peaceful climate, to create favorable conditions for the finalisation of the next stages of the electoral process, in particular the legislative elections,” they said.

The communique is signed by the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security

Amb. Smaïl Chergui and the President of ECCAS, Amb. Gilberto Veríssimo.

The others are UN Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, Mr Jean-Pierre Lacroix, and the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Mr Josep Borrell.

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“We’re Out of Food And Stuck With An 18-month Old Baby” – Bobi Wine Cries Out

Bobi Wine has cried out to the world after being denied food and water in his house arrest. He has also revealed that an 18-month old baby is stuck with them in the house

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Robert Kyagulanyi (Bobi Wine), opposition candidate in the just concluded Ugandan Presidential election has revealed the precarious situation he’s in with his family.

Bobi Wine, who garnered 34.8% of electorates’ votes in the election, has been under house arrest alongside his wife, and an 18-year old kid, who is his wife’s niece.

The musician and parliamentarian had earlier rejected results of the election, citing discrepancies in votes tallying and rigging.

Bobi Wine has been denied every form of access from outside and his wife was prevented from getting food from the garden.

As it stands, Bobi Wine said they’ve run out of water and milk, and need urgent supplies as they are stuck in their home.

Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni has been criticised for his treatment of Bobi Wine pre-election and post-election, with the international community expressing their concerns at the violation of human rights.

The 38-year old Presidential candidate, his wife and some others have been held under a house arrest for six days now. The American Ambassador to Uganda made attempts to visit him on Monday but was turned back by soldiers at the entrance of his home.

The Ugandan Police have claimed they placed Wine under house arrest to prevent any form of chaos that may arise from his post-election reaction.

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