Five more students abducted by bandits from the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation Mando in Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna have been freed. This comes about 72 hours after the first set of five students were freed by the bandits. By this, the total numbers of the students freed so far to 10, with 29 others still in their captors’ den. One of the parents of the students told journalists in Kaduna on Thursday evening that the released students were on their way to the hospital. “We learnt that security operatives had gone to the Giwa axis of the state to pick up the students. We don’t know the hospital they are being taken to at the moment,” he said. On Wednesday, the Kaduna State Government had handed over the first set of the kidnapped students to their parents at the Sir Kashim Ibrahim Government House in the state capital. The state Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, while presenting the students to their parents, had given the names of the first set of five students freed as Abubakar Yakubu, Francis Paul, Obadiya Habakkuk, Amina Yusuf and Maryam Danladi. One of the released five students, Francis Paul, a 200 level undergraduate of Agricultural Technology of the college, had narrated how they were released by the bandits as well as confirmed the authenticity of the video released by the bandits a few days after their abduction. According to Paul, the bandits said when the students were being flogged, the governor would be moved to pay a ₦500 million ransom demand. As of the time of filing this report, the Kaduna State Police Command had yet to confirm the release of the new set of students.
The Nigerian Army on Thursday began a show of force in Imo. The military exercise is an offshoot of Monday’s attacks on the Owerri Correctional Centre and the Imo State Police Command headquarters. The attackers, who operated between 0100 and 0300 hours also attacked a military base at Ukwuorji on the Owerri-Onitsha expressway, burnt a soldier in a car and razed four military operational vehicles. The military exercise was intended to burst the morale of security agents and to restore the confidence of the people in the security agents, the Punch quotes an unnamed source as saying. The source said, “The operation show of force is a military exercise targeted at restoring the confidence of the people in the security agencies. It is also a way of raising the morale of the operatives after Monday’s deadly attacks. It is a reassurance that the security agents have the capacity and capability to enforce public order and decorum.” There was a huge military presence on Orlu-Owerri road, Owerri-Onitsha expressway and Owerri-Okigwe road. Also, a larger presence of military men patrolled the Owerri metropolis as fear continued to pervade the atmosphere. Meanwhile, the leadership of the Imo State Police Command had on Thursday started the deployment of no fewer than one thousand cops to strategic places and security facilities in the state.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has warned capital market operators to stop giving support to online investment trading platforms providing access to foreign securities in Nigeria. In a statement Thursday, the regulator said those securities were not registered in Nigeria, and platforms providing access to them were acting against the law. It warned capital market operators in partnership with the platforms to desist from providing brokerage services for foreign securities. The move by the SEC to bar fintechs from selling, issuing or offering for sale foreign securities not listed on any exchange registered in Nigeria, if seen through, will negatively impact thousands of Nigerians who have lately been drawn by technology to investing in foreign securities. Platforms like Bamboo, Risevest and Trove that offer Nigerians access to stocks, bonds and other securities in both local and international markets, have in recent years grown in popularity in the Nigerian fintech space, especially amongst young people. The investment platforms have worked with local and foreign brokerage firms to provide the services, in a way sidestepping the difficult task of obtaining SEC approval. In December 2020, the SEC tackled Chaka, another investment platform it accused of engaging in investment activities, including providing a platform for purchasing shares in foreign companies such as Alibaba, Amazon, and Google, outside the Commission’s regulatory purview and without requisite registration.
The African Union’s disease control body said on Thursday it has dropped plans to secure AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines for its members from the Serum Institute of India, the world’s biggest vaccine supplier, amid global shortfalls of the shot. The announcement is another blow to AstraZeneca, which has touted its shot as the vaccine for the world because it is the cheapest and easiest to store and transport, making it well suited to the needs of developing countries. It comes the day after European and British medicine regulators said they had found possible links between the vaccine and rare cases of brain blood clots, while nonetheless reaffirming its importance in protecting people. John Nkengasong, head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), said the possible link had nothing to do with the AU’s decision and reiterated his recommendation that “the benefits of receiving the vaccine outweighs the risks”. African countries will still receive AstraZeneca shots through the global vaccine-sharing facility COVAX. However, he said the AU had shifted its efforts to securing doses from Johnson & Johnson, citing a deal announced last week to supply the continent with up to 400 million doses of its vaccine beginning in the third quarter. He said the main reason was to avoid duplicating efforts by the World Health Organisation-backed COVAX facility. AstraZeneca makes up the vast majority of doses that African nations expect to receive through COVAX, which aims to deliver 600 million shots to some 40 African countries this year, enough to vaccinate 20% of their populations. Africa is far behind nations such as Israel and the United States in its vaccination rollout. As of Thursday, some 12.9 million doses had been administered on the continent of 1.3 billion people, according to the Africa CDC.