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NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT SEEKS PERMANENT CEASEFIRE WITH BOKO HARAM.

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Nigeria’s government is in talks with Islamist militant group Boko Haram about a possible ceasefire with the ultimate aim of securing a permanent cessation of hostilities, the country’s information minister said on Sunday.

It is the first time in years the government has said it is talking to Boko Haram about a ceasefire in an insurgency that has killed tens of thousands of people since 2009.

President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has repeatedly said it is willing to hold talks with the group.

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Unknown to many, we have been in wider cessation-of-hostility talks with the insurgents for some time now,” said Information Minister Lai Mohammed in an emailed statement outlining the background to the release of more than 100 schoolgirls freed last week by the group.

They had been kidnapped on Feb. 19 from the northeastern town of Dapchi. The kidnap of about 110 schoolgirls was the biggest mass abduction since around 270 girls were taken from the northeastern town of Chibok, in 2014.

Boko Haram fighters stunned Dapchi’s residents on Wednesday when they drove into the town and released the girls, who said five of their group had died in captivity and one had not been freed.

Mohammed said a week-long ceasefire, starting on March 19, had been agreed to enable the group to drop off the girls. Mohammed said 111 girls were taken from the school – one more than previously thought – and six remained unaccounted for.

The freed girls were returned home to Dapchi on Sunday after meeting Buhari in the capital, Abuja, last week, according the parents of at least two girls.

Will factions aid or hinder peace talks?

Boko Haram aims to create an Islamic state. Its campaign has spread to neighbouring Chad, Cameroon and Niger but the group has been severely weakened in recent years by regional military pressure and it has lost most of the territory it once held.

Antony Goldman, of Nigeria-focused PM Consulting, said it would be difficult to negotiate with the group due to its divisions.

Boko Haram split when Islamic State named Abu Musab al-Barnawi as the group’s leader in August 2016. The other main division is led by Abubakar Shekau, Boko Haram’s most recognisable figure. He is known for videos taunting Nigerian authorities and his faction uses girls as suicide bombers.

“There are many factions, some of which have committed terrible atrocities and have a world vision incompatible with the rule of law and constitutional democracy, but other elements may be ready to settle,” said Goldman.

Security is a politically sensitive issue ahead of an election next February because Buhari was elected in 2015 in part because of his promise to improve security. For years he has said Boko Haram is defeated.

Nigeria has also seen several recent outbreaks of communal violence and it is trying to maintain a fragile peace in the Niger Delta where militant attacks on oil facilities helped push Africa’s biggest economy into a recession in 2016.

Buhari has in the last few weeks toured areas hit by security problems but has not said if he will seek re-election.

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Motherland News

Nigerian President Buhari Warns Ballot box snatchers to value their lives

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President Muhammadu Buhari has warned those planning to snatch ballot boxes during the elections to desist or pay with his or her life if caught.



President Buhari who stated this at the opening session of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Caucus meeting in Abuja, on Monday, said that such act would be the last unlawful act the person will be brought to book.

Meanwhile, the governors of Imo, Rochas Okorocha and Ogun, Ibikunle Amosun were conspicuously absent at the meeting.

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Buhari who said he is confident that he has garnered enough supporters having gone round the country to campaign, urged party members to reassure their constituents to come out and vote on the rescheduled dates.

While urging party agents to watch out for the party interests at the polling units the president said that he has directed security agencies to identify hot spots and be ready to move should they suspect any attempts to cause problems by thugs across the country irrespective of party affiliations.

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– Vanguard

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Health & Lifestyle

DR Congo blame Unending Ebola Outbreak on Violence , Community Mistrust.

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DR Congo Ministry of Health spokesperson Jessica Ilunga has declared that violence and community mistrust have continued to hamper all efforts to control and end the fresh Ebola outbreak, which started Aug. 1.



Though according to the World Health Organization the number of new Ebola cases has dropped slightly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as there are 33% fewer cases to date in February compared with the same time period in December per STAT’s Helen Branswell, but some experts warn Axios that there remain signs that this outbreak is far from over.

Meanwhile, some experts warn that, that doesn’t mean the world’s second-largest Ebola outbreak on record is yet under control, and in fact it could simply be moving to new areas of the sprawling country.

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Johns Hopkins’ public health expert Jennifer Nuzzo maintains there are several reasons people should continue to view this outbreak as a cause for concern.

However, Nuzzo said Congo needs more than money from the international community and the U.S. in particular. Safety concerns have largely caused the CDC to limit its Ebola experts to the capital city of Kinshasa, where some have returned after being evacuated during an uptick in election-related violence, Nuzzo added that Now is the time for the U.S. to send them into the field.

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