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Nigerian Soldiers Kick As FG Allegedly Release 1400 ‘Repentant’ Boko Haram Suspects

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Nigerian army

Nigerian soldiers serving in the North East have kicked as the Federal government allegedly released 1,400 ”repentant” Boko Haram suspects recently under the Operation Safe Corridor programme, which was launched in 2016.

Operation Safe Corridor is an initiative of the military for the deradicalisation and rehabilitation of all ex-Boko Haram members.

The Federal government reportedly released the rehabilitated sect members in Borno state and this was confirmed by Babakura Jato, the commissioner of Information in Borno state. Jato in a chat with newsmen, said those rehabiliated suspects were released after it was discovered that they were neither members of the sect or were discovered to be children of Boko Haram members.

Reacting to the development, soldiers, who confirmed the release of the suspects to TheCable, said they did not understand why suspected Boko Haram members who were capturing and killing soldiers, are being released in large numbers.

“A lot of soldiers are not happy about this. We were there at the Maimalari barracks when some of these Boko Haram people were released.

The authorities are releasing them, but Boko Haram are killing soldiers that they capture. This does not make sense to us at all. We continue to sweep across the bushes to flush these people out, and then the government will release them. Does that not amount to wasted efforts?” a soldier said

Another soldier said he believes most of the released suspects find their way back to crime.

“You wonder why Boko Haram members are on the increase? When we arrest them and bring them here, some top people would come and start negotiating their release. But, I will tell you some of these so-called suspects are returning to the bush and they were never repentant.” the soldier told TheCable

Commenting on the release and the reaction of the soldiers, Onyema Nwachukwu, spokesperson of the defence headquarters, said the releases were in line with Operation Safe Corridor.

“We’ve made some releases, that’s the truth. We should know what the operation is about. But take note, it’s not that we capture Boko Haram suspects and then go back and release them. No.” he said.

He added that the rehabilitation programme is under the direct supervision of the defence headquarters and managed in conjunction with 13 civil organisations.

“The civil organisations involved in the operation include UNICEF, International Office on Migration (IOM) and relevant government ministries and security agencies. Not left out of the oversight structure of the operation is the Gombe state govt where the DRR facility is located. As a testimony to the effectiveness of the Safe Corridor initiative, so far, about 800 ex Boko Haram fighters who would have unleashed unimaginable terror on citizens have been admitted and out of which 287 of them have been successfully rehabilitated and reintegrated into society, with many still undergoing the DRR programme” he said.

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COVID-19: Rivers Govt Concludes Plans To Distribute Foodstuffs

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Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike on Sunday announced that his administration has set in motion the platform for the distribution of food palliatives to Rivers people following the sit-at-home directive to check the spread of coronavirus.

Addressing journalists in Port Harcourt on Sunday after inspecting the State Food Bank established for the distribution of the food palliatives, Governor Wike informed that a State Committee will be set up to implement the distribution of the foodstuffs.

Wike was accompanied by Service Commanders who are members of the State Task Force on Enforcement of the Ban on Public and Religious Gatherings .

He said: “We inspected where we kept the relief materials for our palliative programme. Our intention is to ensure that we mitigate the impact of the sit-at-home directive.

“We are going to set up a committee for the distribution of the foodstuffs meant to serve as palliative for Rivers people.”

At the State Food Bank , the State Government has rice, garri, beans, noodles, yam, palm oil and salt to be distributed to the less privileged in all the 23 Local Government Areas.

Governor Wike warned against the politicisation of the fight against coronavirus, saying all stakeholders must make sacrifices.

“We say to our people, this is not a time to play politics. Nobody should play politics with the lives of people. Everybody has to make sacrifices to make sure everyone stays alive,” he said.

The Rivers State Governor said that the State Government is prepared to tackle the deadly virus.

He said: “For now, we are not hundred percent ready, but we are about 90 percent ready. Luckily for us, we have no serious cases.

“The confirmed case is doing very well. They have sent her samples and it came out negative. The final sample has been sent and we are expecting the results.

“We are doing quite well. All members of the security council are working together to ensure that we prevent the spread of coronavirus.”

On the monitoring of compliance by Churches, Governor Wike said the Task Force is happy with the level of cooperation from the Churches.

He said: “We are happy with the level of compliance that we have seen throughout Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt Local Government Areas. The churches complied.”

The Task Force monitored compliance at
Omega Power Ministries, OPM, Saint Patrick’s Anglican Church, Rukpokwu and Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Chaplaincy, Catholic Institute of West Africa, Rumuibekwe.

Governor Wike also inspected the progress of work at the State Isolation/Treatment Centre under construction.

“We have visited this location to see the readiness of the isolation/treatment centre in Port Harcourt. Even though they failed to deliver the job on Saturday as promised, we are confident in the next four days, it would have been completed”, he said.

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COVID-19: African Countries Need To Quickly Ask For Debt Relief — Okonjo-Iweala

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Former minister of finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has advised Nigeria and other African countries to quickly pressure the G7 and G20 for debt-relief in order to deal with the economic and health issues arising from the novel Coronavirus.

The economic expert who played a huge role in getting Nigeria an $18 billion debt-relief as minister of finance, stated a debt relief will aid in getting resources to tackle the spread of Coronavirus.

Okonjo-Iweala averred that the money owed by some African countries can be channeled towards dealing with Coronavirus.

She told BBC;

“You know we have several sources, you’ve got the African Development Bank, which has just floated a social bond for $3 billion that will be available to the countries on the continent,” she said.

“You have the World Bank that has set aside $14 billion of which they’ve already committed $2 billion to 25 countries — and 11 of them are Africans. Many of our countries need to move, to take advantage of this, and they are willing to commit $150 billion dollars over the next 15 months.

“The IMF has put forward $50 billion as an emergency fund, and already 80 countries have applied for this, many of them African.

“It also has a $1 billion grant fund; catastrophe containment and relief trust, which they can approach. Let me mention my own organisation, GAVI, where I am chair of the board. We have made immediately available $200 million to $300 million grant.

“Once these monies become available, if the countries get debt relief, that means that the monies they would have been paying to service the debt that they’ve taken from other countries; bilateral debts or from institutions, this monies can now be used to procure food and supplied and support the livelihood of people in the rural and urban area.

“Government can use these resources as part of an intervention fund to help people directly, and I think this is what they should be looking to do. But we need to move quickly, the debt relief we haven’t got it yet.

“There needs to be a great deal of pressure on the G7, G20 to come forward with this measure and then countries need to start availing themselves of the already available resources, and then pressure for the debt relief.”

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COVID-19: FG Seeks National Assembly Approval For N500 BILLION Intervention Fund

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Zainab Ahmed

In a bid to conquer the Coronavirus pandemic in the country, the Federal government has approached the leadership of the National Assembly for approval for the establishment of a N500 billion COVID-19 Crisis Intervention Fund.

The Minister of Finance, Ahmed Zainab, met with the lawmakers today April 4th at the National Assembly complex. At the meeting, Ahmed said the proposed fund would be dedicated to upgrading of existing health facilities in states across the federation. She added that the fund if approved by the lawmakers, would also be deployed to take care of special Public Work Programmes currently being implemented by the National Directorate of Employment (NDE).

“What we are proposing is an establishment of a N500 billion COVID-19 Crisis Intervention Fund. This fund that we are proposing, that should be created, will involve mopping up resources from various special accounts that the government, as well as the Federation, have, to be able to pull this N500 billion. Our general view is that this crisis intervention fund is to be utilised to upgrade healthcare facilities as earlier identified” she said.

On how the fund would be pooled, the Minister said the fund would be drawn from various special accounts, grants being expected and loans from multilateral institutions.

President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, appreciated the Federal government for the palliatives being handed to Nigerians following the Coronavirus outbreak but called for more interventions asides doling of cash.

“I think the time has come for us to redefine the implementation of the Social Intervention Programme, probably going out to communities to give them N20,000 per person might not be the best way to go. It is still an effort, but I think we need a better approach that will be more efficient. The Federal Government also needs to be in a position to improve health care facilities not only in the states but to provide intervention to the states.

We know that there will be a need for the parliament to agree and approve the taking of loans from these special accounts and we will be coming back with a proposed bill in that regard that will define what the fund will be used for” he said

Earlier in his opening remarks, the President of the Senate said the meeting, the second time since President Buhari made the pronouncement on lockdown to combat the deadly scourge, was necessary to fast track the process of legislative approval for the Executive request.

“Just like we told Nigerians when there is need for us to meet or to take legislative action in support of ensuring that the government responds appropriately to developments issues and challenges in the country, we will do so. This meeting, the second in the series after we shut down the National Assembly for two weeks, is a clear testimony of what we have said. Governance requires that we work together, so we want to listen to those things that you have on your side and how we can also play our constitutional role in ensuring that Nigerians continue to benefit from governance and how we are able to weather the storm created by COVID-19. Going forward, we need to interact more because very fundamental decisions will need to be taken, and these decisions can only be said to be constitutionally legal if the legislature gives its stamp of authority for the executive to implement and execute.

“I think coming to us for those loans is critical because we are in an emergency and time is of the essence. So, we must work as expeditiously as possible to ensure that we place the request before the National Assembly.” Lawan said

In attendance at the meeting were Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila, the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, Deputy Speaker, Honourable Idris Wase and some other principal officers from both Chambers.

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