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JUST IN: US Offers N2.5bn For Information On Boko Haram Leader, Shekau

Peter Okunoren

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The United States Department of State is offering a reward of up to $7m (N2.5bn) for information leading to the arrest of Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau.

The Rewards for Justice Program, which is the counterterrorism rewards program of the US Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service, said this in a tweet on its official Twitter handle on Tuesday.

The tweet reads, “The United States Department of State offers a reward up to $7m for information leading to the arrest of the terrorist, Abubakar Shekau, leader of Boko Haram.

Shekau has been the leader of Boko Haram since the extrajudicial killing of its former leader, Mohammed Yusuf, in 2009.

The terrorist group has killed tens of thousands and displaced 2.3 million from their homes and was at one time the world’s deadliest terror group according to the Global Terrorism Index.

Boko Haram’s past targets have included suicide bombings of police buildings and the United Nations office in Abuja.

Of the 2.3 million people displaced by the conflict since May 2013, at least 250,000 have left Nigeria and fled into Cameroon, Chad or Niger.

The group has carried out mass abductions including the kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls from Chibok in April 2014 and two years ago, abducted some schoolgirls from Dapchi in Yobe State, releasing all of them except Leah Sharibu who refused to deny her Christian faith.

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FG Receives List Of Indicted SARS Operatives, AGF Approves Prosecution

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The National Human Rights Commission on Monday submitted a list of 35 operatives of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police Force to the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), for prosecution.

Submitting the list at the AGF office in Abuja, the Executive Secretary of the NHRC, Mr Tony Ojukwu, said the list was an extract of the full report of the Special Presidential Panel on SARS earlier submitted to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), on June 3, 2019.

Briefing newsmen, Ojukwu said the affected SARS operatives were indicted in offenses bordering on extrajudicial killings, unlawful arrest and detention, threat and intimidation, unfounded allegations, seizure of properties, and illegal freezing of accounts of innocent citizens.

He noted that the report of the panel contained the findings on the complaints gathered from Nigerians during the sitting of the panel in the six geopolitical zones of the country.

He added that the list of the indicted operatives was accompanied with the full report of the panel to guide the prosecution of the indicted operatives.

Responding, Malami said his office would do justice to the list “through prosecution and taking associated incidental administrative steps”.

The minister, who said the Buhari regime had embarked on policies and legislation such as the Police Act 2020 to ensure deep reforms of the police in the country, also said the panel’s report would not be implemented to protect the interest of the victims without considering the interests of the general society.

He said the report would be implemented in line with the “multi-way-traffic nature of the justice system”.

The submission came amid protests by the youth in different parts of the country calling for the scrapping of SARS, an end to police brutality, and reform of the police force.

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#EndSARS: Tinubu Hails Protesters, Blasts Hoodlums, Pleads For Cessation

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The National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has said there is no one who is committed to the rule of law and good governance that would be opposed to the ongoing #EndSARS protests by the Nigerian youths.

Tinubu, in a statement on Monday, said the protests, which had gone on for 12 days, were justified, given gross human rights violations and impunity by the now-disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police Force.

He also commended Nigerian youths for the level of organization that went into the protests, saying it showed a new level of consciousness that could strengthen Nigeria’s democracy.

He said the ongoing resistance by the youths against police brutality was reminiscent of the emancipation struggle against the colonial rule and military dictatorship, which gave birth to democracy.

However, Tinubu said the protesters must admit that the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had “acted with commendable dispatch by not only scrapping SARS but also accepting the five-point demand that triggered the protests.”

He said it would only be fair for the youths to call off the protests and give the regime a chance to implement the reforms they had demanded.

Tinubu’s statement on the protest, which he personally signed, was titled, ‘#EndSARS protests – The remedy for national maladies is more, not less, democracy’.

He said, “It is impossible for anyone truly committed to the rule of law, democracy, and good governance to be opposed to the concern and demands of the protesters. There is no way that any society can make meaningful progress without the enthronement of these values.

“The protesters have, for the better part of the commencement of their civil action, conducted themselves with an admirable sense of responsibility, restraint, and maturity. This is commendable. Indeed, the high level of organization demonstrated by the protesting youths shows a new level of consciousness of the capability of a vigilant civil society as well as the efficacy of people’s power. This can only ultimately strengthen the country’s democratic evolution and sustainability.”

While urging the protesters to withdraw, Tinubu said Buhari had shown “a laudable sensitivity to the grievances of the youths.”

He said, “It is only fair that the government must be given the chance to implement the reforms demanded by the protesters. This can certainly not be done instantaneously by the waving of a magic wand. If the government had not implemented promised reforms in the past, the swiftness with which it has responded to the demands of the protesters this time around shows that there is a positive change by the government both of attitude and of a new sense of urgency.”

Tinubu urged the youths to be careful not to fritter away the considerable gains they had made within a very short period with “lack of moderation and strategic thinking”.

He said it was unfortunate that hoodlums, thugs, and assorted criminals had begun to take advantage of the protests to perpetrate violence and disrupt civil life.

He said he believed the intention of the organizers of the protest was not to “cause generalized anarchy or effect regime change.”

Tinubu warned the youths that if they gave the impression that their intention was to effect a change of regime “then any government will necessarily have to act with the requisite decisiveness and force to restore law and order and preserve the constitutional rule.”

However, he said the ruling APC must see the protest as “an opportunity to go back to the drawing board and recommit itself to the values for which the party was formed through extraordinary hard work, dedication, and commitment.”

Meanwhile, the pan-Fulani Socio-Cultural organization, Miyetti Allah Kailutal Hore Fulani Socio-Cultural Association, has accused Tinubu of masterminding and bankrolling the #EndSARS protest currently rocking the country.

The Fulani group claimed that the #EndSARS protest, allegedly being financed by Tinubu, was aimed at bringing down the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).

This, the group claimed, was because Tinubu had lost out “in the plans to contest the presidential election under the All Progressive Congress in 2023.”

The Fulani group warned that they won’t take it lightly with Tinubu should anything untoward happen to their kinsman.

They said this in a statement titled, ‘#EndSARS: Gathering of political vultures,’ in Kaduna on Monday.

The statement was signed by Miyetti Allah’s National President, Alhaji Abdullahi Bodejo, and the Secretary, Alhaji Saleh Alhasan.

According to them, the continued protest despite the government’s yielding is an attempt to ground the country and create more suffering in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The group demanded that Tinubu should call off the #EndSARS protest and allow the Federal Government to fashion out modalities to address the nation’s challenges.

Alleging “ethnic and regional colouration” to the #EndSARS protests, they added, “Some people from certain regions are trying to undermine and overthrow a democratically-elected government or intimidate the North to give up its rights to rule beyond 2023.

“The insistence to continue to protest even when the government has made concessions; the open defiance is reckless, provocative; denial of access to means of livelihood can lead to fracas and conflict.

“The demands of the protesters are nebulous, inconsistent, haphazard, whimsical, and impossible to meet.”

When contacted, Tinubu’s spokesman, Tunde Rahman, said, “As it has been stated elsewhere, Asiwaju Tinubu could not have sponsored the #EndSARS protest that has blocked one of the main entries into and out of Lagos and one of the economic arteries of the Lagos State Government. He could also not have sponsored such a protest where he too has been labelled a target by the organizers.”

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BREAKING: Lagos Orders Closure Of Schools Over #EndSARS Protests

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The Lagos State Government has directed all pupils/students in public and private schools to stay at home following the tension generated by the anti-SARS protests.

Commissioner for Education, Mrs Folasade Adefisayo, who issued the directive, said the safety of the pupils/students, parents, and all staff working in schools was paramount “at this critical period.”

She, however, advised parents to keep an eye on their wards and not allow them to be used as willing tools in the hands of those who might want to hijack the protests to unleash mayhem on the society.

The Commissioner also encouraged schools to utilize other means of distance teaching and learning such as radio, television, and online media as they have been doing during and post COVID-19 lockdown.

According to Adefisayo, a new date of resumption for all classes will be announced as soon as possible.

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