Monday, 19 May 2014

News Report: Traditional Nigerian Hunters Want To Find Girls

Traditional Nigerian Hunters. Photo Credit: Associated Press

Credit: Associated Press

Traditional hunters armed with homemade guns, poisoned spears and amulets have gathered in their hundreds, eager to use their skills and what they believe to be supernatural powers to help find nearly 300 schoolgirls abducted by Islamic extremists.

Some 500 hunters, some as young as 18 and some in their 80s, say they have been specially selected by their peers for their spiritual hunting skills and have been waiting for two weeks in Maiduguri, the Borno state capital and the birthplace of Boko Haram, to get backing from the military and get moving.

With Nigeria's military accused by many citizens of not doing enough to rescue the girls, the hunters demonstrated their skills to an Associated Press reporter on Sunday. With cow horn trumpets echoing eerie war cries from the screaming and chanting men who twirled knives and swords with dexterity, occasionally stabbing and cutting themselves with no apparent harm. The hunters claimed their magic charms prevented any blood being drawn. They also trust amulets of herbs and other substances wrapped in leather pouches as well as cowrie shells, animal teeth and leather bracelets to protect them from bullets.

The appearance of the hunters from three northeastern states underscores how deeply the April 15 mass kidnapping — and the government's apparent lack of action — has affected Nigerian society. It has spawned demonstrations and a tidal wave of commentary in media including social sites like Twitter and Facebook.

A spokesman for the hunters stopped short of actually criticizing the military.

"We're not saying we are better than the soldiers, but we know the bush better than the soldiers," said Sarkin Baka. The hunters said they gathered here at the suggestion of a state legislator.

A military spokesman did not immediately respond to an emailed question from AP on whether it would take advantage of the hunters' local knowledge.

In contrast to the age-old stalking and tracking skills offered by the hunters, U.S. aircraft and camera-carrying drones are searching for the girls. Military teams from America, Britain, France, Spain and Israel with expertise in surveillance, intelligence gathering, counter-terrorism and hostage negotiation are also present.

Police say more than 300 girls and young women were kidnapped from a boarding school in the remote northeastern town of Chibok, in Borno state and about 130 kilometers (80 miles) south of Maiduguri, on April 15. A total of 53 escaped and an estimated 276 remain in captivity, according to the police.

They were driven into the nearby Sambisa Forest, according to witnesses. Unverified reports from two federal senators from the region and Chibok residents quoting villagers in the forest and elsewhere indicated some of the girls may have been forced to marry their abductors and some may have been taken across the border into Cameroon.

Nigeria's military insists that it is diligently searching for the girls and says near-daily aerial bombardments of the forest that began in mid-January were stopped to avoid accidentally hitting the girls.

In this photo taken on, Sunday, May 18, 2014, armed hunters gather before looking for around 300 abd …

"Our troops are out there combing the forests and all other possible locations searching for our fellow citizens. International support is also there assisting the process," Mike Omeri, a government spokesman, said Friday.

Some parents of the abducted girls say villagers in the Sambisa Forest tell them they haven't seen a uniformed soldier in the forest.

Pogu Bitrus, a Chibok community leader, said the savannah type openness of most of Sambisa, a national game reserve, should make it easy to survey from the air, though the extremists are believed to have camps in densely forested parts. The insurgents recently bombed the only bridge linking Borno state to Cameroon and Chad, where they have hideouts in mountain caves and another forested game reserve.

Leaders from Nigeria's neighboring countries including Benin met at a French-organized summit this weekend in Paris to coordinate curtailing the insurgency that threatens the region. British, U.S. and European officials also attended.

Meanwhile, the hunters say they are reaching the end of their patience.

"We are seasoned hunters, the bush is our culture and we have the powers that defy guns and knives; we are real men of courage, we trust in Allah for protection, but we are not afraid of Boko Haram," said one elderly hunter, Baban Kano. "If government is ready to support us, then we can bring back the girls. But if they are not, they should tell us so that we can disband and return to our homes and family."

News Release: Africa’s Economic Transformation To Dominate At Afreximbank’s 21st Annual General Meeting

Africa’s economic transformation will take the centre stage as the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) holds its 21st Annual General Meeting of Shareholders, and related activities, in the Gabonese Capital, Libreville, from 3 to 8 June, according to a programme of events released by the Bank.

Afreximbank said in Cairo today that, in addition to the Annual General Meeting of Shareholders, the gathering would feature meetings and seminars of the Advisory Group on Trade Finance and Export Development in Africa, a trade exhibition, and an investment forum, as well as meetings of various committees of the Bank’s Board of Directors.

The Advisory Group Meeting will focus on the theme, “From Asian tigers to African Simbas: Potentials and processes for Africa’s economic transformation” while the seminars will dwell on “Transforming Africa’s agriculture for global markets” and on “Tourism development.”

The discussions will include an examination of the benefits of economic transformation and a look at the development of industrial clusters and supply chains to support diversification and sustainable development of exports in Africa.

In addition to high-level representatives of the Gabonese government, a number of African ministers and political leaders, central bank governors, and experts in African trade finance are expected to participate in the activities. Also attending will be representatives of major banking institutions from across the continent.

Afreximbank, with an authorised capital of $5 billion, has four classes of shareholders. Class “A” is comprised of African governments, African central banks and African regional and sub-regional institutions while Class “B” consists of African private investors and African financial institutions.

Class "C" is made up of non-African financial institutions, export credit agencies and private investors. The last group, Class “D”, was created in December 2012 as a category under which any person or entity can be allotted shares.
The Annual General Meeting of Shareholders is held each year to take stock of the Bank's activities during the reporting year.
Manal Mounir Hendy
External Communications

News Release: MEND Takes Responsibility For Recent Attack On Port Harcourt Refinery Facilities

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) takes responsibility for the sabotage on Sunday, 18 May, 2014 , on the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Refinery Jetty pipelines in Okrika, Rivers State of Nigeria . This attack is line with our on-going operation ‘Hurricane Exodus’, which was intended to bring down the entire refining facility. This facility was infiltrated by a few of our fighters with the aid of our internal agents within the NNPC contrary to  speculations that the sabotage was carried out by “pipeline vandals and oil thieves”, which is a very convenient phrase used in shielding the truth from the public.

Thorough investigations will reveal bomb fragments are the same used in the Warri Refinery explosion of Tuesday, 22 October, 2013 .

We will persist with our attacks on the Nigerian oil industry due to the inaction of President Goodluck Jonathan who continues to rely on an unsustainable and fraudulent Niger Delta Amnesty programme which is only a guise to line the pockets of Goodluck Jonathan, his wife Patience, Jonathans cronies and members of the Amnesty Committee whose sudden wealth remains unchallenged by the Nigerian media. The entire Amnesty process is a fraud on the people of Nigeria who are being promised peace in the Niger Delta, in the absence of justice. 

‘Hurricane Exodus’ is still on course!

 Jomo Gbomo