The man who brokered the deal to release the Chibok girls

Lawyer Zannah Mustapha, mediator for Chibok girls, speaks during an exclusive interview with Reuters in Abuja, Nigeria May 8, 2017.Image copyright REUTERS

In our series of letters from African journalists, novelist and writer Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani profiles the lawyer who brokered the release of 82 women captured by Nigeria’s militant Islamist group Boko Haram.

When 57-year-old Zannah Mustapha arrived for the handover of the 82 Chibok girls freed from Boko Haram after three years in captivity, a militant read out the girls’ names from a list.

One by one, the abducted schoolgirls, now women, lined up along the outskirts of a forest near Kumshe town, on the border between Nigeria and Cameroon. Each of them was covered from head to ankle in a dark-coloured hijab.

“I went ahead of the Red Cross. They [the militants] brought the girls to me,” said Mr Mustapha, the lawyer from Borno state in north-east Nigeria.

Mr Mustapha says the girls started singing for joy when they got into Red Cross vehicles

He has been mediating between the government and militants for the release of the Chibok girls and for an end to the Boko Haram insurgency.

In 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari told the media that his government was willing to negotiate with “credible” leaders of Boko Haram for the release of the girls.

More than 200 of them were abducted a year earlier from the north-eastern town of Chibok, sparking global outrage.

Previous attempts had failed, with different groups coming forward, each claiming to be the militants in possession of the missing schoolgirls.

It was Mr Mustapha who succeeded in convincing the Nigerian authorities that this particular group should be taken for what they say, presidential spokesman Garba Shehu told me.

The freed women will now have to rebuild their lives

“He had dealt with them in the past and they keep to their word,” he said.

Mr Mustapha’s role as a mediator dates back to his founding the Future Prowess Islamic Foundation School in 2007, to provide free Islamic-based education to orphans and the poor.

When the Boko Haram insurgency erupted in 2009, the school offered admission to the children of soldiers and government officials killed by the militants, as well as those of militants killed by the state.

The 82 met the Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari after they were rescued

Mr Mustapha then sought the assistance of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which began providing free meals to the pupils.

He also encouraged parents to form an association which would reach out to other widows and convince them to send their children to his school.

The ICRC soon extended its humanitarian services to the mothers, providing them free food and other items every month.

“This was at a time when the wives of Boko Haram militants were being arrested and their houses demolished, so Boko Haram saw me and the ICRC as neutral parties,” Mr Mustapha said.

During the previous government of President Goodluck Jonathan, former President Olusegun Obasanjo visited Maiduguri, the epicentre of the insurgency, to intervene in the escalating crisis.

He then set up a group to discuss peace with Boko Haram. Mr Mustapha was included in it because of the relationship he had forged with the families of Boko Haram militants.

After the Swiss ambassador to Nigeria paid a visit to the Future Prowess school in 2012, he arranged for Mr Mustapha to go to Zurich and Geneva to receive formal training as a mediator.

“We were already trying to negotiate peace with Boko Haram before the Chibok girls were kidnapped,” Mr Mustapha said.

The initial negotiation was for a batch of 20 Chibok girls to be released.

But, as a sign of commitment to their relationship, Boko Haram added an extra woman, whom Mr Mustapha said was their gift to him, hence the number 21.

The kidnapping provoked global outrage in 2014 including from Michelle Obama

When they were released in October 2016, she was chosen by Boko Haram to read out the names of the other 20 women from a list.

Mr Mustapha said the 21 women were lined up and asked by Boko Haram militants if they had been raped. They all said they were not.

When a militant approached a woman who was carrying a baby, she said that she was pregnant at the time of her abduction, having got married a few weeks earlier.

The baby girl in her arms, she said, was her husband’s child.

For some reason, Boko Haram, a group that has cultivated a reputation for brutality, wanted it to be known that it was only after the women “agreed” to get married that the militants had sexual relations with them.


Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani:

“I felt that I have done something that is worth saying to the world that I have done this,” Mr Mustapha said.


This process of lining up the women, pointing at each one and asking the same question, was repeated at the beginning of May when 82 more women were released.

One of about seven Boko Haram militants, who accompanied them, went from woman to woman asking: “Throughout the time you were with us, did anyone rape you or touch you?” Mr Mustapha said, adding that each of them replied in the negative.

None of the second batch of 82 captives came with a child.

But one had an amputated limb and was walking with crutches, an injury she sustained, according to what Mr Mustapha was told, during Nigerian military air strikes against Boko Haram.

‘They all ran’

“You are free today,” Mr Mustapha announced to the 82 women after all the names were called out.

“They all smiled,” he said.

He believes that their subdued reaction was as a result of the presence of the militants, all armed with guns, some wearing army camouflage uniforms and boots.

Mr Mustapha then took some photographs with the women. The militants also had their video camera on hand and recorded the event. ICRC vehicles eventually arrived.

“When I told them to go to the cars, they all ran,” Mr Mustapha said. “Immediately they entered the vehicles, they started singing for joy. Some shed tears.”

Mr Mustapha has received a number of accolades for his work with Future Prowess School. He was a finalist for the 2016 Robert Burns humanitarian award, given to those who have “saved, improved or enriched the lives of others or society as a whole, through self-sacrifice, selfless service, hands-on charitable or volunteer work, or other acts”. He was also given a 2017 Aurora Prize Modern Day Hero award, for those whose “life and actions guarantee the safe existence of others”.

However, he described handing over the 82 freed girls to the Nigerian government as “the highest point in my life”.

“I felt that I have done something that is worth saying to the world that I have done this,” he said.

Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa

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NCAA orders Ethiopian Airlines to stop collection of unauthorised charges

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has ordered Ethiopian Airlines to stop the collection of  unauthorized charges forthwith.

The order was contained in a statement signed by Mr Sam Adurogboye, NCAA General Manager, Public Relations, on Sunday in Lagos.

Adurogboye said these unauthorised charges referred to as” refundable deportation fee” is put at between 75 dollars  and 150 dollars.

According to him, all South Africa bound passengers on Ethiopian Airlines are compelled to pay this amount before boarding.

He noted that the authority had been inundated with several complaints from many passengers that have suffered this fate.

NCAA

“According to investigation by NCAA, all outbound passengers to South Africa from Murtala Mohammed International Airport, (MMIA), Lagos and Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, transiting through Addis Ababa, are liable to pay 75 dollars.

“However, if your transiting time is 24 hours or beyond, the passenger will pay 150 dollars.

“While passengers are not given prior notice concerning these charges before arriving at the airports, some were made to sign undertaken to be responsible for all expenses incurred if deported,” Adurogboye said.

He said consequent upon this, the Ethiopian Airlines’ Country management were summoned by NCAA, where they claimed the fees were always refunded when a passenger was not deported.

Adurogboye said the regulatory authority however found this unacceptable and viewed it as a violation of the its extant regulations.

“The Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (NCARs) Part 18.4.1(iii) stipulates that “all air carriers should obtain approval from the authority to introduce or increase add-on charges or surcharges prior to implementation.

“Till date, the authority has not received any request for fare increase, tariff or add-ons from the airline.

“On this strength, Ethiopian Airlines has been ordered to stop with immediate effect these illegal charges,” he said.

Adurogboye noted that the Airline could take advantage of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig.CAR) and obtain necessary approvals from the Authority if it has genuine grounds to increase fares or obtain tariffs.

The spokesman said :”the NCAA hereby warns all operating airlines to endeavour to adhere to the regulations in all facets of their operations.

“It is part of our statutory responsibilities to protect the rights of passengers and this we shall continue to do in accordance to the law.” (NAN)

Source: NTA

‘We need #WengerOut’ – Arsenal fans’ anger as Gunners miss out on Champions League

'We need #WengerOut' - Arsenal fans' anger as Gunners miss out on Champions League

Arsene Wenger’s future is up in the air after his side finished fifth in the Premier League, leading many supporters to demand his exit

Arsenal missed out on a top four finish for the first time in 20 years under Arsene Wenger, leading many fans to call for the French manager to leave the club.

Wenger has yet to sign a contract extension at the Emirates Stadium, and many supporters feel it is time for him to leave the club. On Sunday, the Gunners failed to better Liverpool’s result in the Premier League, meaning they finish fifth and will not play in the Champions League next season.

While many fans had previously called for Wenger’s exit, those calls grew louder with many prominent supporters including Piers Morgan weighing in on #WengerOut.

Look, I’m not going to tweet . But if I was to tweet it would be justified, because we need .

@IanWright0 So what’s happening with Arsenal? Is Wenger staying? Is Kroenke leaving? We need to know, our club is embarrassing

Arsenal fans: “It’s time for a change.”

Wenger: “Consider it done, Europa League.”

Welcome Koscielny to Wenger out movement. Man took a red to get Wenger out. Also explains why he conceded so many penalties.

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Arsene wenger to Uefa: how many RTs to qualify for the champions league ??

UEFA:

View image on Twitter

NO round of applause from me today. This is the only scenario needed at @Arsenal

So embarrassing we’re back to fighting for fourth like it’s the title.

Dumped out of CL in 10-2 thrashing.
18pts behind PL Champions.
11pts behind Spurs.
5th.
Europa League next season.

Conte took Chelsea from 10th to 1st.

Wenger took Arsenal from 2nd to 5th having spent more.

Are we going to pretend like playing the Europa League isn’t hugely embarrassing?

Arrogant fraud thinks fans are beneath him even though we pay the highest prices in the world to watch his team of cowards https://twitter.com/JamesOlley/status/866323722474582018 

However, one supporter believes the fifth-place finish is all part of Wenger’s evil plan!

Wenger’s planned it.

Sign a 2 year deal.
Win Europa League first year.
Win Champions League second year.

Retire a Legend.

The Gunners boss refused to be drawn on his future in post-match interviews with Arsenal set to play Chelsea in the FA Cup final.

Source: http://www.goal.com

Unmasking Zannah Mustapha and The 82 Freed Chibok Girls

BBC, London:

Zannah Mustapha has been mediating between the government and militants for the release of the Chibok girls and for an end to the Boko Haram insurgency.

In 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari told the media that his government was willing to negotiate with “credible” leaders of Boko Haram for the release of the girls.

More than 200 of them were abducted a year earlier from the north-eastern town of Chibok, sparking global outrage.

Previous attempts had failed, with different groups coming forward, each claiming to be the militants in possession of the missing schoolgirls.

It was Mr Mustapha who succeeded in convincing the Nigerian authorities that this particular group should be taken for what they say, presidential spokesman Garba Shehu told me.

57-year-old Zannah Mustapha arrived for the handover of the 82 Chibok girls freed from Boko Haram after three years in captivity, a militant read out the girls’ names from a list.

One by one, the abducted schoolgirls, now women, lined up along the outskirts of a forest near Kumshe town, on the border between Nigeria and Cameroon. Each of them was covered from head to ankle in a dark-coloured hijab.

“I went ahead of the Red Cross. The militants brought the girls to me,” said Mr Mustapha, the lawyer from Borno state in north-east Nigeria.

Mr Mustapha’s role as a mediator dates back to his founding the Future Prowess Islamic Foundation School in 2007, to provide free Islamic-based education to orphans and the poor.

When the Boko Haram insurgency erupted in 2009, the school offered admission to the children of soldiers and government officials killed by the militants, as well as those of militants killed by the state.

bk1

During the previous government of President Goodluck Jonathan, former President Olusegun Obasanjo visited Maiduguri, the epicentre of the insurgency, to intervene in the escalating crisis.

He then set up a group to discuss peace with Boko Haram. Mr Mustapha was included in it because of the relationship he had forged with the families of Boko Haram militants.

After the Swiss ambassador to Nigeria paid a visit to the Future Prowess school in 2012, he arranged for Mr Mustapha to go to Zurich and Geneva to receive formal training as a mediator.

“We were already trying to negotiate peace with Boko Haram before the Chibok girls were kidnapped,” Mr Mustapha said.

The initial negotiation was for a batch of 20 Chibok girls to be released.

But, as a sign of commitment to their relationship, Boko Haram added an extra woman, whom Mr Mustapha said was their gift to him, hence the number 21.

Source: NTA

Kroenke Out! Champions League failures mean Arsenal must listen to their fans

Kroenke Out! Champions League failures mean Arsenal must listen to their fans

The Gunners will be playing in the Europa League next season and supporters have signalled their demand for a change of ownership


COMMENT


As thousands of Arsenal supporters chanted ‘Stan Kroenke, get out of our club’ there could be no confusion as to who the majority of fans blame for this season’s disaster in the Premier League. The Gunners majority shareholder has hit the headlines again over the past few days following the revelation that Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov had lodged a £1 billion bid for Kroenke’s shares, an offer which was informally rejected by the American.

For the first full season under Arsene Wenger, Arsenal have failed to qualify for the Champions League – their 3-1 home win over Everton proving irrelevant on Sunday after Liverpool defeated Middlesbrough at Anfield. While the financial consequences may not be particularly severe, the bigger picture is that attracting top level players to Emirates Stadium this summer could prove difficult due to the current instability at the club.

There are key issues which need to be resolved at Arsenal over the next three months. None are more important than the managerial situation, with all signs pointing to Wenger extending his stay at the club by at least another season. The Frenchman’s own intentions are unclear and he has gone from saying a decision would be announced in April or May to hinting that discussions will take place in a board meeting after the upcoming FA Cup final.

Wenger’s future is linked to a host of first team players, including Mesut Ozil – who will not even consider committing to the club until an announcement is made about the manager. With both the German international and Alexis Sanchez seeing their contracts expire in 2018, a summer of huge decisions regarding playing and coaching staff, as well as in the boardroom, is expected.

The small matter of an FA Cup final against the newly-crowned Premier League champions Chelsea provides Wenger’s side with a last chance to salvage something positive from what has been the manager’s worst season at the club.

Laurent Koscielny’s sending off against Everton means he will miss the showpiece Wembley final, while an injury for Brazilian centre back Gabriel Paulista has paved the way for club captain Per Mertesacker to start his first game of the season.

The German’s leadership qualities are certainly needed at the back for Arsenal against Chelsea but his own defensive vulnerabilities could be exposed by the mobile attacking threats of Diego Costa, Eden Hazard and Willian. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is also doubtful after his recent injury absence.

 
Alexis Sanchez Mesut Ozil Arsenal

Kroenke

You can count the number of times Kroenke has been seen at the Emirates this season on one hand. That is where the brunt of the supporters’ frustrations lie. This is an owner who appears to have no interest in building a relationship with the fans or announcing his ambitions for the club. There has always been an underlying disconnect between the owner and the fan base, and this has become more evident as Arsenal’s form has regressed this season. For most Gooners, Europa League football is the final nail in the coffin regardless of the outcome of the FA Cup final.

Usmanov has already indicated that he won’t relieve Wenger of his managerial duties if he does become majority shareholder at Arsenal, so would new ownership really change the direction of the football club? The Russian has signalled his own intent to buy the best players in the world and it should be noted that Kroenke, while he has never put debt on Arsenal, has not invested a penny in transfer dealings or on-the-pitch matters.

Arsenal’s reputation as a self-sustaining club is something they should be proud of but Chelsea and Manchester City are examples of how modern football teams requires fresh investment on a mass scale each season. The answer isn’t to spend money for the sake of it, but to utilise it in a way which helps the club challenge the likes of their Champions League conquerors Bayern Munich – a statement which chief executive Ivan Gazidis made to fans in 2013.

Tottenham’s second place finish and new stadium has provided several home truths to Wenger, Gazidis and Kroenke. Their wage bill is almost half of Arsenal’s, yet they are far outperforming their local rivals.

I recently spoke to an ex-Arsenal player who played under Wenger for almost a decade and he told me that when he looks at this current side, no-one is smiling on the bench and no-one looks happy. While many critics may argue that Wenger’s tactical shortcomings are the key issue, it is clear that the negative atmosphere off the pitch is contributing to what is happening on it.

Arsenal have failed to qualify for the Champions League and they require big changes across the board this summer. Whether it happens or not is another question, but the fans have made their view clear; they want Kroenke out.

Source: http://www.goal.com

El-Rufai Ordered Immediate and Thorough Investigation of Rifles Found In Wrecked Car At Kachia-Kafanchan Road

El-Rufai Ordered Immediate and Thorough Investigation of Rifles Found In Wrecked Car At Kachia-Kafanchan Road

Samuel Aruwan, Kaduna:

The Kaduna State Government has ordered an investigation into the e discovery of five locally made AK 47 rifles and a magazine in a car that was involved in an accident last week.

Samuel Aruwan, Spokesperson to Governor El-Rufai disclosed this in a statement.

The fatal accident, involving two vehicles, occurred on the 12th May, 2017 at Mazuga, Kachia local government area.

According to Aruwan, the government has received a briefing on the acciednt from the Kaduna State Sector Command of the Federal Road Safety Corps.

Following the briefing, security agencies were charged to ensure thorough investigation and diligent prosecution.

The statement reads:
“On 15th May 2017, the Kaduna State Government received a brief from the Kaduna State Sector Command of the Federal Road Safety Corp on the discovery of a weapons in a car that had been involved in an accident. The government has therefore directed a thorough investigation of the matter.”

“According to the Sector Head of Operation, Salisu D. Galadanci. The FRSC on 12th May, 2017 at about 1607 hours received information of an accident at Mazuga, KM10, Kachia-Kafanchan road and it quickly proceeded to the scene to rescue the victims.”

“On reaching the scene, some people around the area had already started helping by bringing the victims out from the accident’s vehicles. Two vehicles were involved, an Audi Salon car AG 60MKR, one Opel Vectra car without registration. Of the seven persons involved in the accident, three died while four persons were rescued. Five locally-made AK47 rifles and a magazine were also recovered from the Audi car.”

image

“The driver of the Audi, Mr. Sabo Goni, was among the rescued accident victims. All the victims were rushed to Kachia Hospital.The Kachia Divisional Police Officer, CSP Faruk Umar, was alerted about the discovery of five rifles in the Audi car. The recovered arms have since been handed over to Kachia DPO for further investigation.”

image

“The Kaduna State Government commends Mazuga community for reporting the matter to security agencies and for preserving the recovered arms till the arrival of security agencies.”

Source: NTA

Bill Gates Just Dropped This Life-Changing Advice: ‘Start Fighting Inequality’

By Meghan Werft|

AP Photo/Nati Harnik

 

Want to be the next Bill Gates? Good news — Gates does, too. And earlier this week, he tweeted 14 lessons he wish he had learned earlier in life to help you — and college grads — get there.

His advice was not focused on wealth, or how to become more intelligent. Instead, Gates’ message centered on how to make a positive impact in the world.

An understanding of inequality and a belief in peace were central to his message, which was aimed at recent graduates. He said it took him decades to appreciate both.

“I also have one big regret: When I left school, I knew little about the world’s worst inequities. Took me decades to learn,” he tweeted. “You know more than I did when I was your age. You can start fighting inequity, whether down the street or around the world, sooner.”

Sprinkled with humor, Gates’ asks readers not to associate his advice with the likes of  stuffy adults from the film “the Graduate.”

He reveals the “promising fields” he’d pick as young person today: artificial intelligence (AI), biosciences, and presumably renewable energy, where people can make the biggest impact.

3/ Looking back on when I left college, there are some things I wish I had known.

4/ E.g. Intelligence takes many different forms. It is not one-dimensional. And not as important as I used to think.

He also shared his belief that the world is more peaceful than ever. And if you don’t believe him, he recommends picking up a copy of “The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined,” by Canadian-American psychologist Steven Pinker.

Gate’s endorsement of the book has caused Amazon orders to spike since his tweet on Monday. The book is 650,000% more popular than before Gates’ tweet, Washington Post reports. It rose to number two on Amazon’s “Movers and Shakers” list overnight.

He also included shoutouts to Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.

“Surround yourself with people who challenge you, teach you, and push you to be your best self.” he shared “As Melinda Gates does for me.”

“Like Warren Buffett I measure my happiness by whether people close to me are happy and love me, and by the difference I make for others,” he said.

Gates’ advice is being taken to heart not just by recent grads, but by global citizens everywhere.

1/ New college grads often ask me for career advice. At the risk of sounding like this guy…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dug-G9xVdVs 

@BillGates Thanks for all you & @melindagates have been doing in the world. Words or tweets cannot convey the gratitude to the good you’re doing.

Read More: Melinda Gates Is Fighting Trump’s Proposed Foreign Aid Cuts

@BillGates Sir,You and Steve Jobs are my greatest inspiration.Whenever situations hit me hard I think about you two, Read your quotes… Works always🙏🙏

And if you already believe the world is more peaceful today than ever in the course of history, and that the world is getting better — you’re basically smarter than a young Bill Gates.

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