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DAPCHI GIRLS TO MEET PRESIDENT BUHARI, UNDERGO MEDICAL TESTS IN ABUJA.

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More than 100 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram were in Nigeria’s capital on Thursday, a day after their surprise release that fuelled rumours about how their freedom was won.

A total of 104 of the 110 students seized from the school in Dapchi, in the northeastern state of Yobe, on February 19 were dropped off by the Islamist militants on Wednesday morning.

The girls, many of them dressed in matching fawn-coloured long hijabs, boarded a Nigerian military transport plane from the Borno state capital Maiduguri to Abuja on Wednesday night.

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In the capital, they were expected to meet President Muhammadu Buhari as well as undergo medical checks and counseling similar to other former captives released by the group.

Five girls are said to have died in the initial stages of the kidnapping, while one girl — the only Christian — is still being held until she converts to Islam.

‘‘I received the news of the return of our Dapchi daughters with great joy. And I look forward to receiving them at the State House. I thank everyone who was involved in the negotiations for their return,’‘ President Buhari said in a tweet.

The Dapchi kidnapping revived painful memories in Nigeria of the April 2014 abduction of 219 schoolgirls from the Borno town of Chibok, which caused global outrage.

Their unexpected release, and the fact the jihadists were able to come and go unchallenged, dominated newspapers on Thursday, with many questioning whether a deal was done.

But Nigeria’s Information Minister Lai Mohammed said: “It is not true that we paid (a) ransom… neither was there a prisoner swap to secure their release.

“What happened was that the abduction itself was a breach of the ceasefire talks between the insurgents and the government, hence it became a moral burden on the abductors.

Security analysts have suggested previous ransom payments from the government as part of prisoner swap deals for some of the Chibok hostages may have been the motive for Dapchi.

But Boko Haram’s ability to again seize so many students put security at schools in the restive region under the spotlight, after promises of improvements after Chibok.

The jihadists have repeatedly targeted schools teaching a so-called Western education in the mainly Muslim region as part of their insurgency that has killed at least 20,000 since 2009.

According to the UN children’s agency UNICEF, more than 2,296 teachers have been killed and some 1,400 schools destroyed in the wider northeast.

On Wednesday, the Borno state government announced that all boarding secondary schools outside Maiduguri and the town of Biu would be closed indefinitely with immediate effect.

Muhammad Bulama, the Borno commissioner for home affairs, information and culture, said on Wednesday the decision was taken last week after a Boko Haram attack in Rann on March 1.

Three aid workers and eight security personnel were killed in the attack on the remote town near the border with Cameroon, which led to the withdrawal of aid agencies.

Schools have previously been shut in the wake of deadly attacks in Buni Yadi, Yobe state, when more than 40 students at a boys’ boarding school were killed in a Boko Haram attack on March 1.

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Nigeria General Elections postponement not politically influenced – INEC

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Nigeria’s electoral body, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has cleared the air, saying its decision to postpone the general elections a few hours to the commencement was not politically influenced.



INEC chairman Mahmoud Yakubu said at a press conference that “The decision has nothing to do with security, nothing to do with political influence and nothing to do with lack of resources.”

The postponement heightens the political tensions in the country, especially between the ruling All Progressives Congress and the main opposition People’s Democratic Party.

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The parties have accused INEC of kowtowing down to the political influence exerted by either party to postpone the elections which ought to begin the presidential and National Assembly elections on Saturday, February 16 2019.

PDP and APC faulted INEC’s decision to reschedule the presidential and National Assembly elections will hold on February 23 while the governorship and state houses of assembly elections will take place on March 9.

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Nigeria: Reactions trail INEC Postponement of 2019 General Elections

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Reactions have trailed the decision of The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to postpone the Presidential and National Assembly elections earlier slated for today by a week, citing operational difficulties.



Prior to the postponement of the election, the PDP accused INEC of hoarding the presidential and senatorial elections result sheets for undisclosed reasons.

The party also revealed that its monitoring and intelligence showed that INEC had been distributing sensitive election materials in most states of the federation without the Presidential and Senatorial elections results sheets.

The National Publicity Secretary of the Party, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement said that the party’s agents were being denied the INEC accreditation and identification cards, ostensibly to shut them out of the election monitoring process and allow the APC a field day to manipulate the process.

According to him, “The development is already heightening tension and suspicion of underhand method by the commission to open the elections for manipulations and allow the APC to enter fictitious results for onward transmission to collation centres.”

The PDP also rejected alleged substitution of the already trained INEC adhoc staff in various states of the federation with members of the APC.
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The party said that PDP would never allow “this unscrupulous attempt at power hijack to stand.”

He stated, “This surreptitious ploy to use APC members as polling staff is a direct template by the APC in collusion with some INEC officials, to rig the elections for the APC.

“This affront to the collective quest by the people for a credible election is akin to sitting our nation on a keg of gunpowder.”

A renowned political analyst in Lagos state, Isaac Abiola on his part expressed displeasure at the postponement, citing the electoral body’s insincerity the worrisome part.

Mr Abiola said “I am disappointed with INEC. It is obvious that they are not sincere with us. INEC till 11:30pm yesterday claimed to have been ready and even tweeted that their situation room was ready. It is not a must to conduct elections when you are not fully ready. But the decision to postponed should have been reached and announced at least 24hrs before election. Why announce 2:30am when people were sleeping. I feel there is an arrangement somewhere.”

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Also Reacting to the postponement, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Ahmed Raji, noted that if the postponement was towards achieving a credible, free and acceptable election, it is in order. According to him, if the reason for the postponment is actually on logistics as it is being said, it is okay instead of the Commission to go ahead and conduct an election that would put it to ridicule both locally and internationally.

Raji, while stating that it is high time Nigerians begin to see election as a process, observed that budgetary allocation for the elections came a little bit late.

According to him election materials are not things people just pick from the shop, hence the commission needs adequate time to plan and arrange for some of this materials.

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On the ruling party’s side, Arc Waziri Bulama, the deputy director general of APC presidential campaign council disclosed the party’s readiness for the forthcoming general elections dismissing claims that the APC was looking for a postponement of the polls. Bulama who disclosed this on Wednesday, February 13, stated that the council had carried its campaign all over the country. He said the responsibilities of leaders was to deliver good governance, secure the lives of Nigerians, ensure that they promote justice, rule of law, peace and freedom through their actions.



Meanwhile, the opposition People’s Democratic Party presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar said the postponement of the general election by Independent National Electoral Commission is “obviously a case of the hand of Esau but the voice of Jacob.”

“The Buhari administration has had more than enough time and money to prepare for these elections and the Nigerian people were poised and ready to perform their civic responsibility by voting in the elections earlier scheduled for Saturday, 16 February, 2019,” Atiku said in a stateemnt on Saturday.

“By instigating this postponement, the Buhari administration hopes to disenfranchise the Nigerian electorate in order to ensure that turn out is low on the rescheduled date,” he added.

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