Jonathan Speaks to Financial Times, Defends His Record of Achievements

President Goodluck Jonathan has insisted that rescheduled polls will go ahead on time and that should he be defeated, he would like to be remembered for insisting they were free and fair.

In a rare interview at the State House in Lagos, the former colonial seat of government, Jonathan conceded that opinion polls show him running “neck and neck” with his main rival, Muhammadu Buhari, a former military ruler, in elections postponed by six weeks to March 28 on security grounds.

The campaign comes against a backdrop of regional and ethnic tension, brutal atrocities carried out by Boko Haram extremists and with Africa’s largest economy battered by the falling price of oil.

Accoding to the Financial Times, Nigeria has been on a knife edge since Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)  announced the postponement, under pressure from security chiefs, with opposition activists portraying this as the desperate act of a ruling party on the skids.

In one particularly stinging rebuke, President Olusegun Obasanjo accused Jonathan of seeking to remain in his seat by “hook or crook” in the style of Laurent Gbagbo, the former president of Ivory Coast, whose refusal to concede in elections sparked a civil war.

It is hard to reconcile Jonathan’s good-natured air with the malevolent intent his detractors now assign him. Until the price of oil crashed last year, he presided over a period of great optimism about Nigeria’s economic potential. But his presidency has also been dogged by crises, and a tendency to gaffes has reinforced elite prejudices about his humble origins in the Niger Delta creeks.

He declines to respond directly to accusations by  Obasanjo, his one time mentor whom he calls a “father”. But the reference to Ivory Coast rankles, given the continental lead he took in 2011 in standing up to Gbagbo.

“I have a reputation within Africa as one person who stands for credible elections and who believes leaders must respect their constitutional provisions on term limits. That’s what I want to leave behind,”Jonathan  said, adding that he will happily retreat to his village should he lose.

He is less sure his opponents will do the same. Mohammadu Buhari’s campaign to restore morale to Nigeria’s army and crush corruption, has gathered momentum. Anything but opposition victory would be the result of foul play, his supporters claim.

“Why must you feel that if you lose somebody rigged you out, but if you win there is no rigging,” Jonathan said.

He also believes that Boko Haram extremists had planned a string of attacks on cities across Nigeria’s North to disrupt polling on February 14, the original date of the elections. The delay would allow the army time to pin down the terrorist group and retake a swath of territory in the remote Northeast where they have attempted to carve out a strict Islamic state.

“We have to degrade them to a level where they will not cause problems on that day,” Jonathan said, adding:  “I am very hopeful that all the territories under Boko Haram will be taken before the election, but even if we don’t take over all the territories, Boko Haram will not have that capacity to come and cause crisis.”

Jonathan is the son of a fisherman from the oil-producing Niger delta. He originally rose up the ladder of Nigerian politics with circumstance, and later Obasanjo, assisting at every turn. Perceived as a loyal understudy as  vice-president, he found himself at the top when his predecessor, Umaru Yar’Adua died in office in 2010.

Opinion in Nigeria was kinder to him then and he won the 2011 poll convincingly. Recently, he has been defined more by what is missing than what his government has put in place — the schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram last year and billions of dollars in oil revenues that the former central bank governor alleged were unaccounted for.

President Jonathan cites a long list of government achievements: rebuilding the railways, restoring the road network, investing in education and presiding over a boom in agricultural production.

“Probably my means of communicating what the government has done to the public is weak,” he said adding “that that is one area I will look at properly,” should he win a second term.

Partisan politics had stalled landmark legislation, he added, in particular reforms aimed at opening up and commercialising the state oil company. This, he implied, had answered many of the questions about how Nigeria manages revenues from oil.

“The National Assembly became so polarised, the divisions between the parties became so sharp, that the national interest was thrown overboard.”

Is he afraid of Buhari, who in his previous incarnation as military ruler in the 1980s threw businessmen and politicians suspected of fraud into jail, would come after some members of his government should he win?

“No,” Jonathan said: “I am not worried?.?.?.?A military regime can set up kangaroo courts and tell them what to do. In a civilian dispensation there are limits.”


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AIG Mbu Insists His Men Will Kill Civilians, Says It’s no Big Deal

The Assistant Inspector-General of Police in charge of Zone 2, Lagos, Mr. Joseph Mbu, has insisted that his men will kill civilians for the lives of any policeman lost in his command.

Mbu, who spoke with some journalists in Olorunsogo, Ogun State, during the inauguration of the Olorunsogo II Power Station by President Goodluck Jonathan, said that there is no big deal in the number of people policemen under his command can kill in self-defence.

He said since policemen were also human beings, they should be ready to take revenge on any violent group(s) that might attack them or other innocent citizens.

The AIG who was approached by journalists to clarify the controversial statement credited to him that 20 civilians would be hacked down for every policeman killed.

“If one of my men is killed, I shall kill 20 of them, but don’t shoot first. If they shoot you, shoot back in self-defence. Anybody who fires you, fire him back in self-defence,” Mbu had been quoted in the media to have told his men at the Ogun State Police Command Headquarters, Eleweran, Abeokuta, during a recent visit.

Mbu on Friday said the media account was mischievous and contrary to what he said in Abeokuta.

He also said that he contemplated arresting the journalists who wrote the reports to show proof that he indeed said what was reported.

Curiously, however, Mbu restated the media account he had tried to debunk.

He said, “I still stand by what I said. And what I said is very clear: that if any violent group attacks my policemen, my policemen should attack them violently.

“If any violent group attacks a law-abiding citizen in a bid to cause injury or cause harm, the police should repel and save that law-abiding citizen because we have the powers to do so.

“If hoodlums or touts decide to be lawless; carrying knives, carrying illegal firearms and shooting at my policemen, if they shoot at my policemen and they are a hundred or 200, my policemen will not be looking at them. They will reply back in self-defence.

“The number I kill is immaterial because a policeman is also a human being.”

When asked if his strategy of fire-for-fire is the best way to handle the situation, Mbu answered, “Which other way do you think you can handle it? You will shoot at the police. Is it not when the person is alive that he is coming to give evidence? How will somebody who is violently attacking others be stopped; how are you going to stop him? Are you going to use your hands? You must repel him using a stronger force.”


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I Underestimated Boko Haram, But I Will Catch Shekau Before Elections – Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan said he underestimated Boko Haram Islamists who have overrun swathes of the country’s northeast and defended an election postponement in an interview published Sunday. He however hoped to catch leader of the terrorist sect Abubakar Shekau before the general elections.

Jonathan, facing a tight re-election bid against ex-military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, has faced criticism over the vote delay, which critics argue was designed to give him time to shore up his campaign.

The military pushed for the six-week delay eventually granted by the electoral commission to allow it to secure the country for the vote, though Boko Haram’s insurgency has raged for six years.

Presidential and parliamentary elections are now set for March 28.

“Probably at the beginning, we, and I mean myself and the team, we underrated the capacity of Boko Haram,” Jonathan said in an interview with influential newspaper ThisDay.

He said that the military has recently acquired more arms and ammunition to do battle with the Islamists, vowing that their suppression and the capture of the group’s leader were near.

“God willing, we will catch (Abubakar) Shekau before the elections,” he said.

Asked why six more weeks would make a difference in the years-long conflict that has killed more than 13,000 people, Jonathan said the military could make reasonable progress in that time.

“We are not saying we must finish Boko Haram to conduct elections, but we should get to a point where they will not cause havoc if they make an attempt,” he said in the interview.

“My belief is that by 28th of next month, when the elections will be conducted, Boko Haram may not even be in a position to attack any town, God willing.”

Nigeria‘s military authorities on Saturday claimed to have recaptured the fishing town of Baga from the Islamists, more than a month after it was overrun in what is feared to be the worst massacre of the six-year insurgency.

There was no independent corroboration of the claim, as thousands of Baga residents had fled the town after Boko Haram attacked on January 3 and hundreds, if not more, were killed in the following days.

Over one million people have been left homeless since 2009 as the rebels try to carve out an Islamic state in northeasternNigeria.

The Islamists have recently extended their violent campaign into nations neighbouring Nigeria‘s northeast as regional forces pursue them.



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Jonathan Re-Commissions Power Plant Commissioned By Obasanjo 8 Years Ago [Photos]

President Goodluck Jonathan Thursday, re-commissioned the Olorunsogo Power Plant in Ogun State that had earlier been commissioned by former president Olusegun Obasanjo and has been in operation since 2007.

The Obasanjo administration actually built many of the gas-powered plants across the country, or awarded the contracts for them. They are now being commissioned by the Jonathan administration. The Olorunsogo plant, not far away from the industrial complex of Sango-Ota Farm, Ewekoro Cement and the Obasanjo Farms, was among the plants that were ready before Obasanjo left office in May 2007. And he cut the ceremonial tape to declare it open.

The plant, with eight turbines, could not produce much power, because there of inadequate gas supply.

Thanks to Okeke Godwin Iyke, we now publish the photograph of the former president commissioning the plant.

See photo of Obasanjo commissioning the project below:


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Capture Shekau Alive, Troops Urged… Top Military Officers Now Lead the Battle

Following the spate of recent successes recorded by troops against Boko Haram insurgentsin the north eastern parts of the country, Nigerian troops have been put on red alert for any insurgents’ leader bearing the name of Imam Abubakar Shekau who is believed to be desperately looking for escape routes.

A senior military source however, informed PRNigeria that troops have been urged to try at all costs to capture Shekau alive so that he would face justice.

On at least two occasions now, troops have killed characters calling themselves Abubakar Shekau in videos but the insurgents manages to find other individuals looking like him and pretend that he was still alive.

The order to catch Shekau alive is therefore to ensure that it will no longer be possible to resort to the same trick. According to sources, the rumour about Shekau’s invincibility is one of the factors that troops are afraid to confront the terrorists. Meanwhile troop’s morale has been greatly boosted in recent times by arrival of sophisticated armaments and the decision of senior military officers to lead the war against terror directly which also influenced the change of some commanders.

An intelligence sources disclosed that some of the successes recorded in recovery of big towns in the North-East were due to deployment of new strategies, improved disciplinary measures, and sincerity of participating countries in the regional alliance and the acquisitions of latest equipment. In the past, Colonels have led direct attacks in accordance with military tradition but because of the large scale desertions recorded, Military Generals then decided to directly lead the war and this has greatly boosted morale. It was even learnt that many of the troops that earlier deserted have returned while others have expressed desire to return to the front.

Within a week of the massive operation, the troops have recovered Monguno, Marte,Gamboru Ngala, Dikwa among other big towns and several surrounding communities in Borno State. The source added that “with acquisition of new equipment from various sources and the specialized training of the troops on guerrilla warfare, the military indirectly called the bluff of some deceptive western countries who are now trying to save face by claiming to work with our neighbours.

“The effective collaboration and mutual relationship with our neighbours is paying off as they now realise that inactions can pose disasters to their countries too,” he concluded.


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Blow By Blow Account of Military’s Recent Assault on Boko Haram

The emergence of Boko Haram in 2009, with base in Maiduguri, Borno State capital and the late Mohammed Yusuf as the leader, has become an issue of serious concern not only to the people of the North-east and Nigeria but also the world at large.

After the killing of Yusuf, his second-in-command, Abubakar Shekau, took over, engaging in the killing of thousands of people including security operatives.

But with the continuous raid of their hideouts in different parts of Borno, Yobe, Gombe, Bauchi and Adamawa states, the group had to relocate to Sambisa forest and established their camps there. It was from there that they continued to launch massive attacks and captured communities in the affected states.

The first town that the terrorists captured was Damboa in southern Borno in July 2013. Thereafter, more communities were captured and controlled by the insurgents.

But with the collaboration of Chad, Niger and Cameroon with Nigeria, the terrorists were given a nose blow with the recapturing of most of the communities taken over by the insurgents and liberating the people from Boko Haram.

Significantly, the battle to route the insurgents in six weeks, as promised by the Federal Government, a situation that led to the shifting of the 2015 general elections, appears to have started yielding results.

One of such efforts was the one put in place by troops from the Joint Multi-National Task Force (JMNTF) to recapture Mubi, Adamawa State and environs from the terrorists.

The troops also stormed Sambisa forest decimating the terrorists.
The conquest is traceable to a number of factors, which hitherto encumbered the operations of the military.

Apart from partnering with Chadian, Camerounian and Nigerien troops in confronting the sect, first is that the Nigerian Army and the Airforce, which didn’t have the requisite weaponry to fight the type of guerilla warfare that was visited on the country by Boko Haram, have become properly equipped with necessary military hardware.

The Airforce was reinvigorated by the Federal Government’s procurement of 40 attack aircraft including helicopters with night vision equipment and capabilities.

Before now, the Boko Haram terrorists, aware of the shortcomings of the military, employed anti-aircraft guns to bring down some Airforce aircraft. The noise level of such aircraft easily gave them away during attack missions but that has been addressed.

Many armoured personnel carriers were also attacked by anti-tank weapons as well as landmines planted on attack routes by Boko Haram.
But with the new acquisitions like mines-counter armoured personnel carriers such as the Cobras, equipped with night vision, and which can operate on any terrain; as well as the High Velocity T55 armoured tanks with mine sweeping capabilities, Boko Haram terrorists now know they can never be a match for the military. They are yet to understand what is hitting them.

On Friday January 30, spokesman for the Defence Headquarters, Maj.-Gen. Chris Olukolade, said the military had captured Michika in Adamawa, after “operational searches for arms or stranded terrorists” and other casualties were concluded by troops.
The statement read in part: “Military operations is ongoing in Michika after troops sacked the terrorists who have been operating in the town and environs.

“The main assault on terrorists’ main positions was concluded as many of them died in the combat. Troops who sustained injuries in the operation are receiving necessary medical attention.
Other troops are continuing the pursuit of those who are on the run from the town”. The statement said that normalcy had been restored in the town that was captured by insurgents last September.

On how Baga and Monguno in Borno State were recaptured, Olukolade, in the statement, said: “Meanwhile, the Nigerian officers in key command positions of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) in the North-east sub-region are in the process of accounting for their actions leading to the loss of weapons, men and location in their area of responsibility in the mission area.

“This is a normal military procedure in major operations or after encounters. The essence is to extract and collate relevant information for subsequent missions. It could also lead to or determine appropriate disciplinary action where necessary”.
These successes could be attributed to heavy use of sophisticated weapons and sustained commitment and dedication by troops.

On February 16, troops of 7 Division, Nigeria Army, in a coordinated military operation and spearheaded by “air assaults” cleared Boko Haram terrorists on the shores of Lake Chad.
According to a statement by Olukolade, a number of terrorists as well as truckloads of rice, beans, and other logistics meant for resupply to the insurgents were also captured and recovered at Baga that was captured on January 3.

The statement read in part: “Casualty inflicted and arms recovered as well as other outcome of the operation in Monguno, Marte and other communities already secured will be determined after the ongoing cordon and search in the environs.

“The air and land operation is continuing with aggressive advance towards other designated communities and locations meant to be cleared in the ongoing offensive against the terrorists”.

Mopping up
On February 18, a press statement from the DHQ spokesman stated that mopping up operation of some of the communities where Terrorists incurred heavy casualty in the two days of military operation to clear 11 communities was ongoing was on-going.

Over 300 terrorists were killed while a few were captured, the statement added. Several weapons and equipment were also captured and some destroyed.

The statement went on: “It has been confirmed that five different types of armoured fighting vehicles, an anti-aircraft gun, about 50 cases of packed bombs and eight different types of machine guns, five rocket propelled grenade, 49 boxes of various types and calibres of ammunition as well as 300 motorcycles destroyed in the fighting. A total of six Hilux vehicles including those mounted with anti-aircraft guns were also destroyed. However, two soldiers lost their lives while 10 others were wounded in the course of the operation.

“The cordon and search operation is continuing along with aggressive patrols by troops who are now dominating the cleared communities such as Monguno, Gabchari, Abba Jabari, Zuntur, Gajigana, Gajiram, Damakar, Kumaliwa, Bosso Wanti, Jeram and Kabrisungul. The various phases of the highly coordinated air and land operation is also ongoing in the designated theatres being handled by contingents involved in the renewed counter terrorism campaign in and outside Nigeria”.

On February 19, hundreds of Chadian troops, battling Boko Haram militants to retake Dikwa Local Government Area of Borno State,made a headway, killing 117 terrorists with the arrest of the Amir (Commander) of the sect.

Dikwa, the headquarters of old Kanem Bornu Empire, was taken over by Boko Haram some months ago, forcing the first class monarch, Alhaji Abba For Masts II, and thousands of his subjects to take refuge in Maiduguri.

A source stated that the recapture of Dikwa took place at about 7am on Thursday after Chadian troops cleared Gamboru, Ngala, Kala Balge and several villages of Boko Haram insurgents, and proceeded/stormed Dikwa, about 100 kilometers north-east of Maiduguri.

Palace arrest
He added that the raid, which comprised of military air strikes with a back up by ground troops, inflicted severe casualties on the terrorists which led to the recapture of the town.

The source also revealed that during the encounter, two Chadian soldiers lost their lives, while the Amir (Commander) of the sect was arrested at the palace of the Shehu of Dikwa where the troops suspected was turned as the base/headquarters of the insurgents.

“The terrorists had established themselves in Dikwa after taking over many buildings including the Shehu’s palace, local government secretariat as well as the official and private residences of prominent people”, he said.

Also, reports monitored on BBC Hausa Service in Maiduguri, on Thursday, revealed that “no fewer than 117 insurgents and two Chadian soldiers were killed after reclaiming Dikwa by troops, and that the town is totally under the control of Chadian troops, while the sect’s Commander (Amir) have been arrested”.

Same day, Olukolade said”, “A concerted air campaign by the Nigerian Air Force is ongoing in furtherance of the mission to clear terrorists from all their enclaves. The air strikes, which today targeted the training camps and logistics dumps of the terrorists in Sambisa forest and parts of Gwoza, have been highly successful as it achieved the aims with required precision. The death of a large number of terrorists has been recorded while many others are scampering all over the forest and out of the struck bases.

Details of casualty will be determined in subsequent phases of the operation.
“Meanwhile, the strikes continue in other locations of the theatre heralding the advance of troops and other elements of the mission”.

Meanwhile, following the successful onslaught against the Boko Haram militants around Gwoza axis, which shares border with Sambisa forest and Askira Uba council area of Borno, hundreds of suspected members of the sect, who escaped, reportedly invaded Askira Uba, shooting residents, burning homes and public buildings, and leaving scores of people dead.

Askira Uba is south and about 220km drive from Maiduguri. It shares border with Sambisa forest from the north. It had witnessed series of terrorists attacks since last year which led to the displacement of thousands of residents before some fleeing residents took liver and resettled in the troubled town.

Sources said the terrorists, armed with AK47 rifles, improvised explosive devices, petrol bombs, and riding in Toyota Hilux vehicles, stormed the town at about 7:35pm and wreaked havoc with no confrontation as security operatives had vacated.

Discordant tunes in camps
Reacting to the recapture of the communities by troops and the bombings of Sambisa forest, a member of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in Maiduguri, Mallam Yakubu Usman Jalo, in an interview, applauded the military, especially the JMNTF for a job well done in clearing the terrorists from their hideouts, noting that he was optimistic that most of the closed roads linking Maiduguri will be reopened soon for motorists.

Some internally displaced persons, taking refuge at different camps in Maiduguri, also expressed satisfaction with the military conquest but insisted they would rather stay in the camps than to go back to their communities ravaged by insurgents after capturing them and had been under Boko Haram control for many months, while others indicated interest in going back to pick up their pieces and begin new lives”.

Mallam abba umar baga, one of the inmates at the camp at teachers village, maiduguri, said he was eager to go back home with his family if security operatives will be deployed permanently to the area as, according to him, he was tired of life at the camp, while mallam audu bako, who claimed to be a village head in kukawa, said that even if baga town and environs had been recaptured, he preferred staying in Maiduguri than to go back and face another encounter with the sect.

— Vanguard


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Jonathan in Trouble Over Illegal Land Deal in Abuja, Group Comes to His Defence

Despite moves to improve his sliding campaign fortunes, President Goodluck Jonathan is battling  to explain all he knows about  a multi- billion dollar farm which a non – governmental organisation (NGO) says belongs to him in alleged violation of the 1999 Constitution.

But a pro-Jonathan group, New Generation Coalition says the constitution allows a public officer to engage in farming. It also alleged that ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo also benefited from Abuja-Land -For-Farms grab while in office to engage in farming.

According  to an NGO , Purpose Driven Initiative (PDI), the farm was incorporated on December 30, 2011 barely seven months after he was sworn in as president for his current tenure which he wants Nigerians to renew.

The farm is about 94,04 hectare plot of land along the highway leading to Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

The group said in adverts in some papers last Friday : “  Let us talk about corruption. This is how the Nigerian government conducts business and fights corruption.

“A sitting President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, incorporated a company, Ebele Integrated Farms Limited in which he is a major shareholder on December 30, 2011.

“Ebele Integrated Farms Limited applied for and was granted 94.04 hectare plot of land, 1689 in Cadastral Zone EOS Aviation Village, Abuja on January 13, 2014.

“Under the Fifth Schedule Part 1( Code of Conduct for Public Officers) of the 1999 Constitution, Section 1, ‘a public officer shall not put himself in a position where his personal interest conflicts with his duties and responsibilities.’

“Do we need any more evidence of how the Jonathan administration has been fighting or will fight corruption.”

Investigation revealed that crocodiles are some of the livestocks  being reared at the  aquatic farm.

A source said: “The farm house sits on a hill top overlooking the airport at the nation’s capital with rest chalets and presidential conference rooms.

“I think the farm may worth about $500m when completed. It is believed to being managed by some Israeli experts. As part of the plans, a helipad may be established on the farm, which may be solely export-oriented.”

The whistle-blowing group also alleged that the Minister of FCT, Mallam Bala Mohammed, has abused his office and violated the  1999 Constitution by incorporating Bird Trust Agro-Allied Limited on May 31, 2012.

“The company, Bird Trust Agro-Allied Limited then applied for and was given(by the same FCT that the major shareholder, Bala Mohammed, heads) a 40.4 hectares, plot 1683 in Cadastral Zone E05 of Aviation Village in Abuja on April 11, 2014,”the group said.

Rising in defence of the President and the minister, the pro- government coalition said Obasanjo enjoyed the same perks while in office.

It said: “Is it corruption?As a sitting President, Olusegun Obasanjo incorporated a company, Obasanjo Farms Nigeria Limited. Obasanjo Farms Nigeria Limited applied for and was granted a 100.12 hectares of land, Plot No.1 Cadastral Zone E09 Kuje, Abuja on June 27, 2005.

“The sitting Minister if FCT, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai(now APC chieftain) allocated the land and signed Certificate of Occupancy no. 17c2w-1b99z-9d15r-cb2au-34u3 certified to Obasanjo Farms Nigeria Limited on July 24. 2006.

“Just  like Obasanjo Farms Nigeria Limited, Ebele Farms and Bird Trust Agro Limited are companies in which the sponsors engage in farming and other allied agriculture production and processes.

“Under the Fifth Schedule Part 1 Code of Conduct for Public Officers of the 1999 Constitution, Section 1 states that ‘a public officer shall not put himself in a position where his personal interest conflicts with his duties and responsibilities.’

“Section 2 states that without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing paragraph …, nothing in this sub-paragraph shall prevent a public officer from engaging in farming.

“Is it corruption for a public officer to engage in farming as stipulated by the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 with the view to making Nigeria self-reliant in food production?”

Findings confirmed that the presidency has decided to go for broke against Obasanjo for allegedly claiming that Jonathan is corrupt.

A presidency source said: “Let them reveal more, we will also expose more. Whoever lives in a glass house must not throw stones.

“The battle line is drawn, no one can rubbish or stain President Goodluck Jonathan. We have records of personal demands by these so-called anti-corruption saints in the country.”

It is not clear why the coalition dragged Obasanjo’s name into the allegation by the NGO.

On Friday  , Jonathan declared that Obasanjo was still  his godfather, notwithstanding the ex- president’s resignation from the peoples Democratic  Party.


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Scores of Boko Haram Insurgents Fleeing Nigerian Troops Drown in Lake Chad

Scores of Boko Haram terrorists drowned in Lake Chad at the weekend as they sought an escape route following a siege to the fishing town of Baga, Borno State, by Nigerian troops.

The insurgents had seized the town last month, and then proceeded to plunder the military base in the town.

But the troops had the last laugh yesterday after catching the insurgents unawares in a complex operation which the Defence Headquarters said involved clearing over 1,500 land mines laid across the area by the terrorists.

Many other insurgents died during the ground and air strikes, the DHQ said.

Five anti-aircraft guns belonging to the sect were destroyed while 34 motorcycles and five vehicles were recovered from them.

The Director of Defence Information, Major General Chris Olukolade, said in a statement that “a large number of terrorists drowned in the Lake Chad as they fled the heavy bombardment by Nigerian Air force heralding the advance of Nigerian  troops on mission to flush them out of Baga.

“Not even the strategy of mining over 1500 spots with land mines on the routes leading to the town  could save the terrorists from the aggressive move of advancing troops.

“All the land mines were skillfully cleared one after the other. Eventually, the resistance of the terrorists collapsed and the land forces finally stormed the town in the early hours of Friday.

“Many of the terrorists died while an unknown but substantial number of them fled with various degrees of injury, in the series of encounter along the routes of advance as troops headed for Baga.”

He said the troops   began clearing the terrorists from Baga on arrival in the town early yesterday.

A comprehensive cordon and search phase of military operation, he said, “has now commenced to enable troops mop up arms and ammunition and also apprehend any terrorist who might be hiding in the vicinity.”

The exercise will also determine details of the casualties inflicted or incurred in the course of the operations.

He said  troops are also  engaging the insurgents in 12 other  locations: Gajigana, Ngaze, Ngenzai, Marte Junction, Mile 90, Yoyo, Kekeno, Kukawa, Cross Kauwa, Kangarwa, Amirari “and other localities where troops have flushed out the terrorists in the operations preceding the entry to Baga.”

“The troops are now dominating and conducting aggressive patrols in the locations. The morale of troops remain high,” Olukolade added.


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Nigerian Troops Recapture Baga Town from Boko Haram

Nigerian troops have recaptured Baga from Boko Haram militants today according to a tweet from the Nigeria defense spokesperson.

Baga was overrun by Boko Haram militants in January 2015 a few days after the Multi-national troops withdrew from army barracks of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF).

“FLASH: Troops have this afternoon captured #BAGA after a fierce battle with the terrorists. Heavy casualties on them. Mopping up ongoing.” — DEFENCE HQ NIGERIA (@DefenceInfoNG) February 21, 2015.

Boko Hraram laid siege in Baga this January killing between 200 to 3000 civilians in a major holocaust.

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French Nationals Arrested Fighting For Boko Haram; Sparks Diplomatic Row Between France and Cameroon

  • Arrest proves sect has European members
  • Bama, Baga about to be liberated as more insurgents are slayed in Sambisa, Gwoza
  • Chad inflicts more casualties on terror group

Following the capture of eight French nationals who are members of the terror group Boko Haram, a diplomatic spat has ensued between France and Cameroun, which has insisted on trying the terror suspects.

A top Nigerian intelligence source opened up on the brewing diplomatic tensions between France and one of her Francophone allies in the sub-region following the shocking discovery that some French citizens are staunch members of the sect, a throwback to their membership of the terror group, Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

According to findings, France was reported to have chided her former colony for insisting on trying the terrorists in Cameroun instead of handing them over to the French authorities.

Enraged by the audacity of Cameroun to hold its citizens, the French Foreign Minister, Mr. Lauren Fabuci, was alleged to have ordered that the suspects be handed over to the European country with immediate effect.

However, Camerounian authorities were said to have felt slighted and have protested the manner in which France had demanded the release of its nationals.

A Camerounian minister was quoted to have said: “Mr. Lauren Fabuci, the French Foreign Minister, has ordered Cameroun to release immediately eight Europeans captured by our security men, for being part of Boko Haram terrorists.

“Mr. Fabuci demanded their immediate handover to France so that they can prosecute the terrorists on French soil, ignoring our sovereignty and independence.

“The French are acting as if Cameroun is their errand boy that they can order around and ignore the fact that we have our own laws with which we can try the terrorists.”

The latest revelation has lent credence to strong suspicions in the Nigerian intelligence community that Boko Haram has strong foreign backing.

When contacted on the discovery of French nationals who had joined the terror sect, the Director of Defence Information, Major-General Chris Olukolade, said it was a matter for the parties involved to sort themselves out.

“All I can tell you is that the matter is for Camerounian and French authorities to settle,” Olukolade stated.
However, a top military officer said the Nigerian intelligence community had previously warned of a growing foreign collaboration with Boko Haram.

He said other than Chadians, Boko Haram has a large presence of Arabs, Malians and other Islamists who have joined the sect.

“Now we have seen evidence of French and European participation. This is one major indication that Boko Haram has very active and sophisticated foreign backing. I advise that the African Union should take this up.

“France is trying to silence the Camerounians but Africa must rise to the occasion and take this findings seriously. They must not keep quiet,” the military source said.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian military has continued its onslaught to rid the North-east of Boko Haram terrorists, as a concerted air campaign by the Nigerian Air Force has resulted in the death of a large number of Boko Haram terrorists in Borno State.

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Another Military Helicopter Allegedly Drops Boko Haram Flyers in Song, Adamawa State

We have reported on how Nigerian air force jets have recently been spotted dropping Boko Haram propaganda material over the skies of northeastern states.

Flyers which claimed a Boko Haram faction was sorry and had been misled by corrupt leaders were dropped in Gombi, Adamawa state the past two days.

Suspected Fighter Jets Drop Boko Haram Flyers In Adamawa Again Warning Against Voting

However, new reports by an eyewitness said he saw a Nigerian air force helicopter bearing NAF 257 flying at a very low altitude in Song, Adamawa State with soldiers in it seen laughing.

“The door opened and they dropped the flyers; which were in English, Hausa and Arabic. It says the Boko Harams regret their actions and promised to stop it, the eye witness said.


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Real Battle to Dislodge Boko Haram Begins in March

Nigeria’s security chiefs may have unilaterally decided a time framework to subdue Boko Haram terrorists, when they said they needed six weeks to accomplish the task, beginning 14 February. This is because the shape of the regional force Nigeria is relying upon to flush out the insurgents is yet to be concluded.

Also on Friday, the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) dismissed the recent report of an helicopter distributing pamphlets implying the surrender of some members of the Boko Haram terrorists.

Although Nigeria’s armed forces in league with neighbouring armies of Niger, Cameroon and Chad have since stepped up the war against the insurgents, bombarding camps inside Nigeria, the real ground-and-air offensive is not scheduled to begin until end of March, when the regional force will become operational.

A senior Niger Republic military officer disclosed in an interview with Reuters in N’djamena, Chad, that the shape of the regional force Nigeria is relying upon to flush out the insurgents would be concluded by the end of March.

Military chiefs of Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Benin and Niger will meet in the Chadian capital N’Djamena next week to finalise strategy for the 8,700-strong task-force of regional troops, said Colonel Mahamane Laminou Sani, director of documentation and military intelligence of Niger’s armed forces.

“All we are doing right now is stopping Boko Haram from entering Niger: if they attack our positions we push them back a certain distance and Nigeria pushes from the other side to contain the situation,” he said, on the sidelines of the annual US-sponsored ‘Flintlock’ counter-terrorism exercises in Chad.

“There are initiatives by our countries to make sure Boko Haram doesn’t get out of control, but we have a deadline of end-March to put the joint force into practice,” he told Reuters late on Wednesday.

Highlighting the cross-border threat, militants attacked Niger overnight, killing three before they were driven back.

“The force’s first commander will be a Nigerian and the position will then rotate annually among members,” Sani said.

The implementation of the force has been delayed by tensions between Nigeria and Cameroon over the right to pursue militants across the border into each other’s countries, sources said.

Niger and Chad already have agreements in place covering that with each other and with Nigeria. Nigeria and Cameroon will be under pressure to iron out their differences.

“This should be the last meeting, I think. We don’t have any choice. If we don’t go and find Boko Haram, they are going to come and find us,” Sani said.

“Niger’s military has carried out air strikes against Boko Haram positions and used ground forces to mop up the survivors,” Sani said., a regional news website, reported raids by Niger’s troops who entered the Nigerian town of Marara on February 15 and air strikes on Damasak on February 16. A security source said the reports were accurate but gave no further details.

Sani denied the Niger air force was responsible for an attack on Tuesday that killed at least 36 civilians at a funeral in the border village of Abadam.

A local mayor said he believed a Nigerian military plane was responsible. Nigeria has denied this and Niger has said it is investigating.

“Air power will play a key role but ground troops will then be used to neutralise survivors in the wooded and mountainous terrain occupied by the Sunni jihadist group,” Sani said

“Information on their location needs to come from human sources first, then you send technological resources to check it, and you maintain observation on them until air strikes arrive,” he said.

Asked whether the U.S. military could help with drone intelligence on fighters’ movements, he said: “That is already a reality. They help us in that sense.”

“This is no longer an issue of national security for Nigeria; it’s a question of regional and international security. If Nigeria implodes, then the whole of Africa will feel it,” he said.

Boko Haram is said to have between 4,000-6,000 fighters, according to US intelligence report. The insurgents themselves estimate their forces at 30,000. Subduing them, in the view of military analysts, may not be as easy as ending a six-week affair, reports Reuters.

Meanwhile, the Defence Headquarters has dismissed the recent report of a helicopter distributing pamphlets implying the surrender of some members of the dreaded Boko Haram terrorists in some parts of North-east.

The Director of Defence Information (DDI), Maj-Gen. Chris Olukolade, said if such action was taken at all by the so-called repentant terrorists, it could not be genuine.

According to Olukolade, “That is not how to surrender. There are proper ways of surrendering and making amends. I am sure if such report is true, it is not how to surrender”.

He insisted that the military was much concerned with sustaining their ongoing offensive and completing the routing of the Boko Haram terrorists from there enclaves.

It could be recalled that thousands of terrorists have been killed and major towns and communities recovered since the renewed onslaught involving forces from the neighbouring Lake Chad Commission countries of Chad, Cameroun and Niger Republic. In the last two weeks strategic towns like Mongonu, Gamboru Ngala, Dikwa, and Marte have been recaptured, while Baga and Bama is on the mop up stage with new fronts of aerial bombardment opened in Sambisa and Gwoza.


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