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Sale of Ammunition: Nigerian military allegedly ties hands with Boko Haram

Nigerian military sells arms and ammunition to Boko Haram, inviting Islamic attacks for itself

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Nigerian soldiers hold up a Boko Haram flag that they had seized in the recently retaken town of Damasak, Nigeria (VOA)

The admission comes three weeks after the Nigerian army said a military tribunal is trying 16 officers and troops accused of offenses related to the fight against Boko Haram, including the theft and sale of ammunition.

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Maj. Gen. Lucky Irabor, the theater commander in northeastern Nigeria, told a news conference on Thursday, September 1, 2016 that military authorities have confirmed that some soldiers were selling arms and ammunition to Boko Haram. He called it a betrayal of the Nigerian people. He gave no more details.

President Muhammadu Buhari has blamed corruption for the deaths of thousands in the seven-year Islamic uprising that has killed more than 20,000. Children who escaped Boko Haram are dying of starvation in refugee camps in the northeast, where the government is investigating the alleged theft of food aid.

People displaced by Boko Haram wait to be screened at Furore camp in Yola, Nigeria, near the country's border with Cameroon, Dec. 8, 2015. Returnees to Cameroon have have been rejected by their communities (VOA)
People displaced by Boko Haram wait to be screened at Furore camp in Yola, Nigeria, near the country’s border with Cameroon, Dec. 8, 2015. Returnees to Cameroon have have been rejected by their communities (VOA)

A soldier on the frontline of the fight told The Associated Press that his brigade commander is among officers standing trial at the court-martial in this northeastern city, which is being held in secret. He said the army is investigating what happened to 21 anti-aircraft guns assigned this year to his artillery brigade. He said they only received one gun. The soldier spoke on condition of anonymity because he feared he would lose his job.

In addition, a slew of retired and current military officers are being investigated for diverting hundreds of millions of dollars budgeted to help curb the Islamic uprising. Among them is Alex Badeh, a four-star general whom Buhari fired from his post as chief of defense staff. Witnesses have told a Federal High Court that Badeh stole the equivalent of $24 million budgeted for salaries in 2013 and built a shopping mall in Abuja, the capital.

Esther Yakubu holds a photo of her daughter Dorcas, who was featured in a Boko Haram video released in August (VOA)
Esther Yakubu holds a photo of her daughter Dorcas, who was featured in a Boko Haram video released in August (VOA)

Civil society groups are demanding the investigation of the current chief of army staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, for allegedly buying with cash two properties worth $1.5 million in Dubai. Buratai has said he bought the property on installment with savings.

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Before Buhari took power, soldiers told the AP they were forced into battle with just 30 bullets each and no food rations. They said Boko Haram was better armed and that their officers were stealing parts of their salaries and allowances. Many ran away when the extremists attacked, allowing Boko Haram to take control of a large swath of northeastern Nigeria in 2014.

Under Buhari, a former military dictator, a multinational force has retaken most towns but Boko Haram remains active outside urban areas, carrying out hit-and-run attacks, suicide bombings and abductions of women and girls. (VOA)

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President of Egypt Calls for Collective Action Against Countries Supporting Terrorism

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The president of Egypt Urges world leaders to take decisive action against states supporting terrorism. Pixabay

Egypt’s president Wednesday called for “decisive” and “collective” action against countries supporting “terrorism” in an apparent reference to Turkey and Qatar, who back the Muslim Brotherhood group, which is outlawed in Egypt.

The three countries also support opposing factions in the war-torn Libya.

Addressing a two-day forum on peace in Africa in the southern city of Aswan, Abdel Fattah el-Sissi also said achieving sustainable development in Africa is needed, along with efforts to fight militant groups in Egypt and the Sahel region that stretches across Africa south of the Sahara Desert.

“There should be a decisive response to countries supporting terrorism and a collective response against terrorism, because the terrorist groups will only have the ability to fight if they are provided with financial, military and moral support,” he said.

Abdel Fattah Al Sisi Egypt
The President of Egypt Abdel Fattah el-Sisi addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly. VOA

The gathering in Aswan is attended by the leaders of Niger, Chad, Nigeria and Senegal along with officials from the U.S., Britain and Canada.

The Sahel region is home to al-Qaida and Islamic State group-linked militants. El-Sissi said Egypt could help train forces and provide weapons to countries in the region to fight extremists.

Egypt has for years been battling an Islamic State-led insurgency that intensified after the military overthrew an elected but divisive Muslim Brotherhood President Muhammad Morsi in 2013 amid mass protests against his brief rule.

Militant-related violence in Egypt has been centered on the Sinai Peninsula, as well as in the country’s vast Western Desert, which has witnessed deadly attacks blamed on militants infiltrating from neighboring Libya.

Since Morsi’s ouster, tensions have grown between Egypt and Turkey and Egypt and Qatar. The political party of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, which Cairo designated as at terrorist group in 2013.

Upcoming conference

El-Sissi also said a “comprehensive, political solution would be achieved in the coming months” for the conflict in Libya, which descended into chaos after the 2011 civil war that ousted and killed long-time dictator Moammar Gadhafi. He did not elaborate.

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This photo provided by the office of Egypt’s president Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, dignitaries including Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, center, gather, for a photo during a two-day forum on peace in Africa in the southern city of Aswan, Egypt. VOA

He said that would put an end to a “terrorist hotbed that pushes militants and weapons to (Libya’s) neighboring countries including Egypt.”

El-Sissi apparently was referring to an international summit in Berlin that aims to reach an agreement on actions needed to end the conflict. The conference had been scheduled for October, but it has apparently been postponed.

After the 2011 civil war, Libya split in two, with a weak U.N.-supported administration in Tripoli overseeing the country’s west and a rival government in the east aligned with the Libyan National Army led by Gen. Khalifa Hifter.

Maritime border agreement 

El-Sissi’s comments came amid heightened tensions with Turkey after a controversial maritime border agreement it signed last month with Libya’s Tripoli-based government.

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Greece, Egypt and Cyprus, which lie between the two geographically, have denounced the deal as being contrary to international law, and Greece expelled the Libyan ambassador last week over the issue.

Hifter has for months been fighting an array of militias allied with the Tripoli authorities to wrestle control of the capital.  He is backed by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, as well as France and Russia, while the Tripoli-based government receives aid from Turkey, Qatar and Italy. (VOA)