Kidnappers who raided a boarding school in northern Nigeria earlier this month released 28 children on Sunday but another 81 remain in captivity, according to a pastor involved in the negotiations for their release. The attack on the Bethel Baptist High School in the state of Kaduna was the 10th mass school kidnapping since December in northwest Nigeria, which authorities have attributed to criminal gangs seeking ransom payments. A first batch of 28 children was released two days after the raid. Parents told Reuters that 180 students typically attend the school and that pupils were in the process of sitting exams. read more “Twenty-eight students were freed this morning,” Reverend Ite Joseph Hayab told Reuters on phone. “Quite a number of the students before now escaped … but 81 are still in captivity.” Nigerian authorities have attributed the kidnappings to what they call armed bandits seeking ransom payments. The police and Kaduna state commissioner for internal security and home affairs were not immediately available for comment. Radika Bivan, a parent whose daughter is among those kidnapped confirmed that 28 of them were released but said she did not see her child among them. Kaduna authorities had ordered the closure of the school and 12 others in the area following the kidnap, without saying when they may reopen. Schools have become targets for mass kidnappings for ransom in northern Nigeria by armed groups. Such kidnappings in Nigeria were first carried out by jihadist group Boko Haram, and later its offshoot Islamic State West Africa Province, but the tactic has now been adopted by other criminal gangs.

The Federal High Court in Abuja has barred some media organisations from covering the trial of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, as his trial continues today. Some of the newspapers prevented from the trial are The Cable, Daily Sun, Daily Times, Daily Trust, The Guardian, The Punch, Tribune and Vanguard, which are all popular papers across the country. The media organisations accredited are Daily Post, Daily Independent, The Herald, The Nation, Premium Times, The Nation, ThisDay, Premium Times, National Television Authority, Television Continental, African Independent Television and Channels Television. Neither the Federal High Court not the DSS gave reasons for picking 10 media houses while barring others from covering the trial. A call by The Punch to the DSS spokesman, Dr. Peter Afunnaya, rang out, while a text message sent to him on the action was not responded to. However, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mike Ozekhome, who condemned the decision to prevent some media organisations from covering the trial, said the position of the law was that every trial should be carried out in public and everyone entitled to watch the proceedings. He said, “Our legal system does not admit of secret trials. We are not a country of witches and wizards operating in a coven. For a trial to be free and fair, Section 36 of the Constitution says it must be carried out openly and publicly. Banning some media houses from covering Nnamdi Kanu’s trial is not only a sin against Section 36 of the Constitution, it also violently offends the provision of Section 22 of the same Constitution which gives the media the right and responsibility to ensure that the provisions of Chapter Two of the constitution dealing with the fundamental objectives and directive principles of state policy are upheld and that the government is held accountable to the people of Nigeria.”

Two years after the suspension of the controversial Rural Grazing Area scheme in July 2019, the FG has introduced a replacement scheme called the Livestock Intervention Programme to address the lingering farmer-herder crisis across the country. This comes amid the government’s efforts to revive colonial-era grazing routes in many states across the country. The Punch says that a Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development document outlining the LIP scheme will see Abuja establish eight large herders’ settlements in six pilot states – Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Kaduna, Kwara and Niger. The scheme is expected to be extended to other states, following a successful outing in the pilot states. The paper says the LIP is already being implemented in the pilot citing interviews with unnamed ministry officials. The officials confirmed that the states accepted the establishment of the large herders’ settlements and had already provided land for the purpose. Unlike the controversial RUGA settlements, which started with 12 pilot states, ministry officials said the government chose to start the LIP settlements with six pilot states, before expanding to other states. Asked if the FG would reactivate the suspended RUGA programme since the clashes between herders and farmers had yet to abate, the ministry’s Acting Director, Animal Husbandry Department, Winnie Lai-Solarin said: “What we have now is the Livestock Intervention Project. And this intervention will take place in the settlements. It might also interest you to know that right now, the intervention has been reduced to six states.” According to Lai-Solarin, the six pilot states for the LIP are in the North because the region has large settlements and land to grow pasture.

At least six Cameroonian soldiers were killed and four wounded during an attack by Islamist insurgents on an army outpost in the country’s far north, state broadcaster CRTV said on Saturday. In recent months, the attack is the deadliest in northern Cameroon, which alongside neighbouring Nigeria and Chad, has been battling the Boko Haram militant group for years and, more recently, militants linked to Islamic State. “Our outpost in Sagme was attacked this morning around 4 a.m. local time (0300 GMT) by a horde of assailants. There were six to seven vehicles and motorcycles and some were on foot. It was a massive attack,” Lazare Ndongo Ndongo, administrative head of the district in the Far North Region, told Reuters. State television reported the death toll on Twitter but gave no further details about the attack. Two military sources who requested anonymity had told Reuters that at least eight soldiers had been killed and several others were wounded. Local authorities said there has been a steady increase in attacks on the military in the region since the death of Abubakar Shekau, the former leader of Boko Haram. “Since Shekau’s death there has been an increase in attacks, as the Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP) moves to conquer territories previously held by Boko Haram,” Ndongo said. “They are gaining momentum. They look more structured, better organised and attack in full force,” he said.