Parents of the remaining school girls abducted by Boko Haram gunmen on Monday in Chibok, Borno State, said they have given up their efforts to rescue their children.
The parents, who pooled resources to buy fuel for motor-cycles, followed the abductors tracks up till 100 kilometres from Chibok, but gave up following warnings that Boko Haram gunmen may kill them if they ventured further.
But the parents were perplexed that while they were on the Boko Haram trail, no single Nigerian soldier was seen, despite the advertised manhunt of the abductors by military authorities.
After the goof by the military authorities over the claim that all but eight of the 129 school girls captured by the Boko Haram from a Chibok secondary school had been rescued, the new discovery that the soldiers were not on any rescue mission, has further deepened their suspicion about the seriousness of the military in rescuing their daughters.
Enoch Mark, one of the parents of the abducted girls told newsmen about their shock discovery.
Mark and other locals said they had seen no signs of a military build-up and questioned the seriousness of the ongoing rescue mission.
During a nine-hour search on Thursday which extended 100 kilometres (62 miles) outside of Chibok, “we did not come across any soldiers,” Mark said, in an account supported by several other residents.
Chibok, in southern Borno, has a sizeable minority Christian population and so many of kidnapped girls were Christians although Muslim students were taken as well.
Borno State Education Commissioner, Dr Inua Kubo told journalists late Friday that 14 more girls had been found, leaving 85 girls still missing.
Some girls had escaped immediately after the kidnapping, jumping off the back of trucks as the Islamists tried to cart them away under the cover of darkness.
Others asked for permission to use the bathroom, and ran once they were a short distance away from the gunmen.
It was not yet clear how the latest group managed to flee, but Kubo said 11 were found in a town on the road that connects Chibok to Borno’s capital Maiduguri, and three others had fled back to their school.
Some of those who escaped earlier this week said the hostages were taken to the Sambisa Forest area, where Boko Haram is known to have well fortified camps.
One father said he and others decided to turn back after locals told them the insurgents were nearby and were prepared to slaughter anyone who advanced further.
“If we were armed as they are we would surely go…and face them,” said Enoch Mark, whose daughter and two nieces were among those taken.
Students have been massacred while sleeping in their dormitories, but a mass abduction specifically targeting girls is unprecedented.
A security source said there were indications that the insurgents have used female hostages as both sex slaves and cooks.
Boko Haram has categorically ruled out peace negotiations and backed away from several ceasefire offers, but Mark nevertheless pleaded with the Islamists to show compassion.
“We call on Boko Haram to release our daughters who have committed no offence against anyone,” he said.
Meanwhile, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Borno has declared fasting from today to Wednesday to seek divine intervention for the release of the abducted students of the Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok.
The chairman of the association in the state, Rev. Titus Pona announced the fasting to newsmen yesterday in Maiduguri.
“We are calling on all Christians in Borno, Yobe, Adamawa and even beyond to begin a three- day fasting and prayer session to seek for God’s help for the release of the abducted girls.
“The continued stay of these girls in the abductor’s camp has created worry in the minds of the parents and other well-meaning Nigerians.
We pray that through prayer, God will touch the hearts of the abductors so that they will release them, ’’ Pona said.
Pona also urged the insurgents to dialogue with government if they had any grievances.
“We call on the insurgents to please put down their arms and dialogue with government, either at the state or at the federal level.
“They should release the girls in the name of God because only 43 girls were reported to have escaped from the abductors.
Pona appealed to the Federal Government to deploy more troops to rural areas in Borno, following increased attacks by the insurgents.
“Since the insurgents are increasingly attacking villages and rural communities, government should deploy more troops to the areas to safeguard lives and property,’’ he said.
90% Of Money Laundered Via Real Estate, EFCC Reveals
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says about 90 per cent of money laundering is done through the real estate sector.
The commission’s Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, stated this while featuring on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily, yesterday,
According to him, although the sector is monitored via the special control unit, more needed to be done.
According to Bawa, “One of the problems we have now is the real estate. 90 to 100 per cent of the resources are being laundered through the real estate.”
He said there are so many issues involved, but that they were working with the National Assembly to stop what he called “the gate keepers” as there would be reduction in looting if there is no one to launder the money.
Bawa, the EFCC boss, gave an example of a minister who expressed interest in a $37.5million property a bank manager put up for sale.
He said, “The bank sent a vehicle to her house and in the first instance $20million was evacuated from her house.
“They paid a developer and a lawyer set up a special purpose vehicle, where the title documents were transferred into.
“And he (the lawyer) is posing as the owner of the property. You see the problem. This is just one of many; it is happening daily.”
The EFCC chairman also revealed that he receives death threats often.
Asked to respond to President Muhammadu Buhari’s frequent “Corruption is fighting back” expression, Bawa said he was in New York, USA, last week, when someone called to threaten him.
“Last week, I was in New York when a senior citizen received a phone call from somebody that is not even under investigation.
“The young man said, ‘I am going to kill him (Bawa), I am going to kill him’.
“I get death threats. So, it is real. Corruption can fight back,” he said.
On corruption in the civil service, he said there were a lot of gaps, especially in contracts processing, naming “emergency contracts” as one.
Bawa said, “A particular agency is notorious for that. They have turned all their contracts to emergency contracts.”
However, he said, EFCC has strategies in place to check corruptions, one of which is “corruption risk assessments of MDAs”.
According to him, “I have written to the minister and would soon commence the process of corruption risk assessments of all the parastatals and agencies under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to look at their vulnerability to fraud and advise them accordingly.”
Asked if the scope of corruption in the country overwhelms him, Bawa, the EFCC boss said, “Yes, and no.”
We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says his administration has spent N9billion in upgrading structures and installation of new equipment at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH).
He said the fact that 40 per cent of the 2021 budget of the state is dedicated to provision of quality healthcare delivery was a further demonstration of the priority placed on the sector.
Wike made the explanation at the foundation laying ceremony for the construction of a Renal Centre at RSUTH, last Friday.
The governor said he made promise to Rivers people that the best would be provided to them in all sectors of the society within his capability because of the mandate they gave to him.
“As we came on here, I just looked around and I see the changes in this teaching hospital. I can say that we have put not less than N9billion in this teaching hospital.
“If you look at the budget, the health sector alone, what it’s taking from the Rivers State Government is not less than 40 percent of the 2021 budget.”
Speaking further, Wike said the state government cannot afford to implement free medical service programme in the present economic circumstance.
While dismissing the request for a subvention for RSUTH, Wike, however, commended the chief medical director and his team for their commitment to turnaround the fortunes of RSUTH.
“I have never seen anywhere that health services can be totally free. They’re telling me that people who come here can’t pay. I have never declared that this state is going to take over the health fees of anybody.”
Also speaking, the former Minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, who performed the flag-off, noted that Wike’s achievements in the health sector in particular, surpass what former governors of the state had done.
Sekibo said that the governor has given equal attention to every section of the health sector by providing complete health infrastructure that was positioning the state as a medical tourism destination in Nigeria.
Earlier, the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, lauded Governor Nyesom Wike for his interest in the health of Rivers people.
He noted that the renal centre, when completed, would become another landmark development project in the health sector that would handle and manage all kidney-related ailments.
In his remarks, the Chief Medical Director of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Friday Aaron, commended Wike for approving the renal centre.
Aaron explained that chronic kidney disease was a major burden globally with estimated 14 million cases in Nigeria.
According to him, over 240,000 of these cases require renal replacement therapy in the form of dialysis and renal transplant.
The CMD said the building that would house the centre was expected to be completed in six months and consists of two floors.
The ground floor, according to him, would house the haemodialysis unit with eight haemodialysis machines.
He further explained that the first floor of the centre would house the surgical component where most of the sophisticated equipment for kidney transplant would be installed.
Aaron said Wike has released the funds required to build, equip the centre as well as for the training of personnel locally and internationally.
Power Generation Falls 23% To 3,172MW
Power supply in Nigeria has failed to improve on last week’s performance, as it fell by 22.9 per cent from peak generation of 4,115Megawatts on Saturday to 3,172.20MW as at 5pm, yesterday, latest data from the System Operator has shown.
According to the data, most power plants were operating far below capacity due to gas shortage with Olorunsogo Power Plant 335MW capacity; and Sapele Power Plant, 450MW capacity; completely out.
Egbin was generating at 746MW; Omoku 37.20; Omotosho (NIPP) at 105MW; while Afam was generating at 80MW.
The data showed that on the average power generation in the past seven days were 4,120.9MW on Sunday, June 6; 4,249.4 on Monday, June 7; 4,000.9MW on Tuesday, June 8; 3,720.7 on Wednesday, June 9; 3,517 on Thursday, June 10; 3,765MW on Friday, June 11; and 4,115MW on Saturday, June 12.
The International Oil Companies (IOCs), had last warned that despite Nigeria’s huge gas reserves a lot needs to be done to attract investment to the sector to develop gas reserves to boost power generation in the country.
Speaking at the just concluded Nigeria International Petroleum Summit, the Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria/MD SPDC, Osagie Okunbor, said with 203trillion Cubic Feet of gas reserves, what was needed in the country is to deliver projects that would produce the gas.
“The challenge is not just growing the reserves but in producing these reserves for the benefits of our country. Essentially growing the reserves and delivering on the production is a function of two or three elements.
“I like to see infrastructure that is required for the development of these resources at two levels. Soft infrastructure is often the one that is more important than and that is the one that is actually drives most of what you see at site.”
“Soft infrastructure refers to the enabling environment and nothing pleases me as much seeing both the Senate President and the speaker of the house give very firm commitments about trying to pass the PIB this month.
“That is probably the big one of the enabling environment to provide the kind of stability we also need all sorts of other issues we need to that we have discussed severally in terms of sanctity of contract, stable policies and collaboration and I think we are well on our way there”, he added.
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