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Nigeria held rallies in major cities Thursday to mark three years since the mass abduction of 276 schoolgirls by Boko Haram extremists.

Spearheading the rallies was the Bring Back Our Girls movement, which has been urging the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to ramp up efforts to free the 195 girls still believed held by the radical Islamic group.

One rally was being held in the capital Abuja, where Nigeria’s second most influential traditional Muslim leader, the Emir of Kano, was to make an address and lead prayers.

Parents of the missing were congregating at the school where their daughters aged 12 to 17 were kidnapped in the northeastern village of Chibok on April 14, 2014.

Participants were set to plant trees as a symbolic gesture in memory of the missing girls.

Another rally was due in the country’s commercial centre Lagos.

Fifty-seven girls escaped in the immediate aftermath of the kidnapping while three others were found or rescued by the military. Some had babies in captivity.

Last October, 21 were freed after negotiations between Boko Haram and the Nigerian government brokered by the ICRC and the Swiss government.

The Chibok schoolgirls have become a symbol of the Boko Haram insurgency that began in 2009 and has left at least 20,000 people dead.

Despite a military fight-back, villages near Chibok, which is 125 kilometres (80 miles) by road from the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, have seen a wave of suspected Boko Haram attacks in recent months.

A presidential spokesman said Wednesday negotiations were ongoing with “foreign entities” for the release of those still held by the fundamentalist group active in Nigeria’s northeast and which has pledged allegiance to Islamic State.

Having started as an extremist sect Boko Haram has mushroomed in recent years into an ultra-violent jihadist movement which uses mass kidnapping as a recruitment tool.

In December, Buhari triumphantly announced the “final crushing” of the group, which he described as being “on the run” after an army offensive flushed them out of their stronghold in the huge Sambisa forest.

Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau denied the claim and said that some of the abducted girls were killed in Nigerian airstrikes against his group.

Support from abroad came in the shape of a British government statement Friday.

“We are working side by side with Nigeria in the fight against Boko Haram and call for the release of all those who have been taken,” a foreign ministry statement read.

AFP

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Metro

Nnamdi Kanu: Imo residents observe sit-at-home for IPOB leader’s trial

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Residents of Imo State, especially Orlu town and Owerri municipal, on Tuesday, stayed indoors to observe the sit-at-home order issued by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in solidarity with its leader, Nnamdi Kanu, who appeared in court today.

It was gathered that the state secretariat, motor parks, schools, banks, shops and markets across the major cities were all shut down.

Even the Imo State University junction, Government House Roundabout, Control Post Roundabout, Warehouse junction Roundabout, Ikenegbu, Mbari, Douglas, Okigwe Road, and Wethedral Roads, were scanty.

In Orlu, the ever-busy Banana junction and Okwudo junction were more like ghost towns.

A journalist, Mr Martin Nwoke, in Owerri North Local Government Area of the state, made a passionate appeal to the Federal Government to release Nnamdi Kanu.

He said Imolites and the people of southeast states were the ones suffering the heat of the order.

Nwoke said, “In this part of the world, everything we do here involves money. I am begging President Buhari to pity us and free Nnamdi Kanu.”

A lawyer, Barr. Emeka Obi, told our correspondent that he could not go to file a court process due to non-availability of transport, while children, who could not go to school, resorted to playing football on the streets at Akwakuma.

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Metro

Plateau monarch abducted

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Barely three weeks after the kidnap of a paramount ruler in Plateau State, the military task force responsible for the maintenance of peace in the state, code-named Operation Safe Haven (OPSH), has confirmed that gunmen have abducted HRH. Da Gyang Balak Gut, the Da Gwom Rwei of Vwang District of Jos South Local Government Area of the state.

The traditional ruler was kidnapped on Sunday night on his way home to Vom, a few metres from the gate of the National Institute For Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru in Jos South LGA.

Recalls that following the abduction of the Sum Pyem, Da Charles Mato Dakat, on the 26th December, 2021, before he was released five days later, the United Mwaghavul Lawyers Association (UMLA) had described the incident as not an attack on an individual, but on the entire traditional institution in Plateau State.

The lawyers equally had said it views the kidnapping of the royal father as not an isolated incident, “but the beginning of a well-orchestrated plan to intimidate and decapitate our treasured leaders in the state and the Middle Belt at large”.

While condemning the dastardly act, on behalf of UMLA, Barr. Philemon Daffi reminded the federal, state and local governments of their shared responsibility under the 1999 Constitution as amended.

Spokesman of OPSH, Major Ishaku Takwa, who confirmed the incident, said, “Troops of Operation Safe Haven (OPSH) in conjunction with other security agencies are on trail of the kidnappers.

“God’s willing, the security agencies will soon close-up on the criminals”, he maintained.

Vwang District is where the famous National Veterinary Research Institute (NVRI), Vom is situated in Plateau State.

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Metro

Suspected cultists arrested with female pant, charms in Delta

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Police operatives attached to the Delta state police command raiders unit, have arrested twenty suspected cultists at a black spot in Ogarafe,  Oghara in Ethiope west LGA of the state.

Confirming the arrest to newsmen, the spokesperson of the state police command, DSP Edafe Bright, said during the raid of the hot spot, a fabricated wooden gun, six hundred and forty-eight wraps of weed suspected to be Indian hemp, one used female pant, various charms, one Knife, Sixteen bottles of codeine, ten packs of razlers, one Grinder used in grinding weeds and the sum of sixty-nine thousand (#69,000) were recovered from the suspect.

He said the suspect will be arraigned in court soon.

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