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I’m a first time offender, says 30-year-old water vendor caught defiling nine-year-old girl in Adamawa

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A 30-year-old water vendor caught defiling a nine-year-old girl in Adamawa State has pleaded for leniency on the grounds that he had not ‘concluded’ his act before he was apprehended.

The suspect, Mohammed Babangida, who was paraded by the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps on Friday, told journalists that he was a first offender, and he regretted his act.

He said,

“This is my first time of doing this thing and I didn’t even ‘conclude it’ when my door was knocked, forcing me to stop. I want to beg for forgiveness as a married man with children, based in Bauchi. I don’t want this shameful thing to wreck my family.

“The whole thing started some days ago when the girl begged me for N50 to buy cake, claiming she was hungry, which I gave her. Another day, she also begged for money and I gave her N20, she again came to my house and I gave her N50 and we entered the room.”

Speaking earlier on the arrest of the suspect, the State Commandant of NSCDC in Adamawa, Alhaji Nuraddeen Abdullahi, said Babangida was apprehended in Damare Ward of Yola town, following a report from residents of the ward.

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He said that the victim had been taken to the Yola Sexual Assault Referral Centre for treatment and compilation of needed evidence to prosecute the suspect.

“The suspect will be charged to court for prosecution after the intervention and advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions,” Abdullahi said.

The commandant, who expressed concern over incidents of rape of minors, urged the public to do away with the culture of silence by reporting such incidents for necessary action.

“Our command has a Humanitarian and Gender-Based Violence Unit, which statutory duty is to handle this type of cases. We are always ready to handle this type of case and therefore urge the public to always speak out on rape and other gender-based violence,” Abdullahi said.

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Kwara records 71 fresh cases of COVID-19

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The Kwara Government says 71 more people have tested positive to Coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the total of confirmed cases in the state to 382.

The Chief Press Secretary to the state Governor and Spokesman of the Technical Committee on COVID-19, Mr. Rafiu Ajakaye, made this known in a statement issued on Sunday in Ilorin.

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According to him, this brings the total of confirmed cases to 382, with 167 patients discharged and 12 death recorded in the state.

“As at 11:00 pm on Saturday the number of active cases is now 203, while 167 have so far been discharged and 12 deaths recorded,” he said.

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Ghana’s COVID-19 cases surpass 24,000

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Ghana’s COVID-19 cases have increased to 24,248, with 414 more infections confirmed late Saturday, according to the latest update from the Ghana Health Service (GHS).

The update said the health authorities had treated and discharged 619 more people, bringing the number of recovered cases to 19,831, while the number of deaths stood at 135.

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The Saturday night update also put the number of active COVID-19 cases in the West African country at 4,282, as President Nana Akufo-Addo spent his eighth day in self-isolation after a close associate of his tested positive for the pandemic.

Ghana has passed a law to enforce the wearing of face masks in public, in a bid to control and end the continued spread of the pandemic in the country.

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Boko Haram, international NGOs and the threat to Nigeria’s security

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Boko Haram

Nigeria’s Boko Haram/ISWAP crisis is in three instalments. On one side, there is the obvious menace of the terrorist group. Those who aid and abate their criminal activities are another. International non-governmental organizations (NGOs) complete the deadly triangle.

For nearly a dozen years, Boko Haram perpetrated violence across the North-East, aiming to rid the country of any form of “Western influence.” In the first six years, the terror strews across the country. The Federal Capital Territory received overdose with a deadly car bomb attack on the United Nations building in 2011 signalling intent. The horror worsened afterwards.

In December 2013, hundreds of the jihadists overran a Nigerian air force base in the Borno state capital, Maiduguri. Then four months later, the group gained particular notoriety for the abduction of an entire girls’ school in the town of Chibok. Over 20,000 persons were reportedly killed, hundreds of thousands displaced.

After reaching its peak in 2015, the number of casualties attributed to the group fell dramatically.

President Muhammadu Buhari’s victory ushered in this new phase, breaking the convention with a different approach and personnel. Led by Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. T.Y Buratai, the new Service Chiefs degraded the group’s territorial control, pushing them to the fringes of the Lake Chad Basin.

More recently, the COAS masterminded operations in the region that killed more than 1,000 insurgents. Audio messages released by Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram’s main faction in April suggest the group is indeed hard-pressed. In one of them he wept and prayed for protection from the “devilish” army as he urged his men to stand firm.

While Boko Haram appears weakened, batted and on the brink of surrendering, supposed humanitarian aid groups potentially pose another threat to the troops. And unlike its brutal approach on the radical jihadists, troops are handicapped.

For years, military authorities have allowed aid organizations operate outside of government-controlled areas, neglecting Terrorism Prevention Amendment Act, 2013, which criminalizes engagement with groups the government lists as terrorist. Stakeholders believe the military’s initial soft stance allowed the NGOs to perpetuate evil.

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The role of international NGOs in conflicts can not be overlooked, though. They save millions of lives, provide food, drinking water, and healthcare to those that need lifesaving assistance. Some, however, seem to bolster and encourage the carnage being perpetuated by insurgents and rebels.

In Nigeria, for instance, several reports have found many guilty of operating against all known international protocol, rendering humanitarian assistance to Boko Haram. They have been found to turn the crisis to a viable business venture, perpetuating acts that undermine the efforts of the military towards decimating the terrorist group. Some even act as spies, carrying out espionage activities.

Gudaji Kazaure, a federal lawmaker from Jigawa State first raised this alarm in 2018. He said, “The most important is for Mr President to be aware of those NGOs that are giving medication, support, food and others to the terrorists. If we don’t stop those NGOs that are going into Sambisa and meeting Boko Haram, we will not succeed in this war.”

It took almost a year for Kazaure’s entreaty to be taken seriously. The military began a major crackdown on foreign NGOs for “aiding and abetting terrorists”, supplying food and drugs. Two aid agencies, Action Against Hunger and Mercy Corps were suspended but pardoned merely one month later.

Ali Ndume, Chairmain Senator Committee on Army kicked, insisting that he has credible evidence that NGOs work with Boko Haram after returning from a trip to Maiduguri.

“Another area that the Senate will look into is the allegation that the various NGOs in that area are conniving with the insurgents – providing them information, logistics and so many things,” he said.

“I have been critical about this and people have told me to be careful but it has come out now that one or two of the so-called NGOs operating there are actually aiding and abetting and supporting the insurgents. But we will do an investigation and we will hear if we have the evidence.”

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Since 2019, after a resurgence in fighting, government and military officials have also required aid organizations to undergo lengthy processes to obtain compulsory authorization for moving personnel, cash, and cargo carrying relief materials in the northeast region. The military mandated using armed escorts on some routes, banned certain types of goods, and limited the amount of fuel the agencies can use in the field. Somehow, the can of worms remained.

Funding for Boko Haram

A damning report by the Centre for Africa Liberation and Socio-Economic Rights (CALSER) have found some INGOs to be responsible for funding Boko Haram. It revealed that while there are multiple evidence that suggests that funds from the coffers of these INGOs end up in the hands of the Boko Haram terrorist group, majority do come in the country from the francophone countries in cash.

The military authorities have not been successful in tracking the inflow and disbursement of millions of dollars that have passed through the coffers of the INGOs. The discreet nature of their transactions has made matters worse.

Funds aside, INGOs have been accused of providing humanitarian support to Boko Haram terrorists in violation of international protocol and laws. They divert food and other relief items meant for the IDPs to the camp of the group. In most instances, some medical NGO have been reported to be providing medical services to injured terrorists, which goes against the provisions in the International Humanitarian Law in armed conflict situations.

Some locals in communities confessed that there are numerous instances where some INGOs move truck load of food items and medical supplies and abandon them in the middle of nowhere and before dawn these trucks and the items would disappear.

It was also stated that some INGOs move about with unmarked trucks which makes it difficult to track their identities. The reason for this it was gathered was to leave no trace behind for the military to trace.

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Worst still, INGOs are believed to engage in the blackmail of the military. CALSER’s report and many others uncovered some foreign aid agencies engaged in propaganda on behalf of Boko Haram, especially when they come under heavy bombardment from the Nigerian troops.

The report also revealed that some foreign interest contracted some well-known INGOs in Nigeria to act as the intellectual arm of the Boko Haram group through the issuance of press statement and reports accusing the Nigerian Military of human rights abuses. These tactics are meant to cause a distraction when there seems to be intense pressure on the Boko Haram group.

It was also gathered that the bulk of the rape allegations made against the military in IDP camps were fabricated too by some INGOs who offer young girls and women monies to appear before the camera to make such allegations.

Several others are alleged to be actively involved in human trafficking and exploitation. There is a particular case of a French NGO that carries out documentaries in IDP camps depicting a picture of gloom as against the wishes of women and children and they consequently send these documentaries to donor organizations soliciting for funds.

That’s not all. INGOs are also notorious for other inimical acts that are dehumanizing to IDPs in their various camps. Some have been identified to be notorious for making locals go against their wishes to coercing them into making submissions and divulging information about their communities which ultimately ends up in the hands of the Boko Haram group to aid their operations.

To stand a fair chance of defeating this brutal group, the hard-power approach of the military must be supported by the Federal Government and effective legislation to eliminate the last arm of terror; the international NGOs. Else, the troops may remain in the same triangle.

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