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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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Hundreds of School Children in Nigeria Join Global Fight for Climate Action

To achieve this, she started planting trees around her school and neighborhood, and recycles used plastic bags into shower cap

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School, Children, Nigeria
FILE - Nigerian youths gather to protest climate change and poor environmental practices, in Abuja, Nigeria, Sept. 20, 2019. VOA

Sixteen-year old Faithwins Iwuh — who is sometimes referred to as Nigeria’s Greta Thunberg — wants Nigeria to contribute to the global fight against climate change.

To achieve this, she started planting trees around her school and neighborhood, and recycles used plastic bags into shower caps.

Iwuh says she has been concerned about the effects of poor environmental practices for years.

“I started having this guilt anytime I see someone throw something out the window or I see people dispose wrongly,” she said. “I felt as if they were harming me and when I began to think about it, in a certain way they were harming me because it’s my future. If I do not take care of it now, I may not have a generation.”

School, Children, Nigeria
FILE – Protesters march to demand action on climate change, on the streets in Lagos, Nigeria, Sept. 20, 2019. VOA

An estimated 4 million students worldwide have taken part in the “Fridays for Future” movement, launched by Thunberg in Sweden in August 2018.

In recent months, hundreds of schoolchildren in NIgeria joined the movement. Two weeks ago, 300 students from 10 schools walked out of classes to protest in Abuja.

Fanny Nyalander, the Swedish ambassador to Nigeria, calls the action “inspiring.”

“I think it’s fantastic to see the young generation taking responsibilities and asking for climate action to be taken [seriously] — because it is their future and their future planet that is endangered,” she said. “So it is incredible and very inspiring to see that young people of Nigeria are standing up and asking for actions to be taken.”

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Iwuh, however, is concerned that awareness of environmental threats in Nigeria remains low.

“Not very many people know about this,” she said. “Only a handful know about this problem. I’m lucky to be one of the few that know about this and I’m trying my best to sell the idea to the world that it needs to save it from ending.”

Nigeria is the biggest importer of fossil fuel-powered generators in Africa, and therefore one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases.

Environmental experts like David Michael say climate change has serious consequences in Nigeria.

School, Children, Nigeria
Sixteen-year old Faithwins Iwuh — who is sometimes referred to as Nigeria’s Greta Thunberg — wants Nigeria to contribute to the global fight against climate change. Pixabay

“Unfortunately, we in Africa contribute very little to the course of climate change, less than 3 percent, but we’re the most vulnerable continent,” he said. “And, of course, in Nigeria here the effects are everywhere — the desertification up north, sea rise down south, in the middle belt, the crisis between farmers and herders.”

At a summit last December, Nigeria was one of 195 countries and territories that agreed to take steps to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

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In real-world politics, that pledge is more likely to be fulfilled if more schoolchildren like Iwuh demand immediate action toward that goal. (VOA)