Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 9th 2015 Contents LAGOS---Nigeria s Boko Haram
extremists are offering to free more
than 200 young women and girls
kidnapped from a boarding school
in the town of Chibok in exchange
for the release of militant leaders
held by the government, a human
rights activist has told the Associated
The activist said Boko Haram's
current offer is limited to the girls
from the school in northeastern Nige-
ria whose mass abduction in April
2014 ignited worldwide outrage and
a campaign to "Bring Back Our Girls"
that stretched to the White House.
The new initiative reopens an offer
made last year to the government of
former President Goodluck Jonathan
to release the 219 students in exchange
for 16 Boko Haram detainees, the
activist said. The man, who was
involved in negotiations with Boko
Haram last year and is close to current
negotiators, spoke on condition of
anonymity because he was not autho-
rised to talk to reporters on this sen-
Fred Eno, an apolitical Nigerian who
has been negotiating with Boko Haram for
more than a year, told the AP that "another
window of opportunity opened" in the last
few days, though he could not discuss details.
He said the recent slew of Boko Haram
bloodletting---some 350 people killed in the
past nine days---is consistent with past ratch-
eting up of violence as the militants seek a
stronger negotiating position.
Presidential adviser Femi Adesina said on
Saturday that Nigeria's government "will not
be averse" to talks with Boko Haram.
"Most wars, however furious or vicious,
often end around the negotiation table," he
Eno said the five-week-old administration
of President Muhammadu Buhari offers "a
clean slate" to bring the militants back to
negotiations that had become poisoned by
the different security agencies and their
advice to Jonathan.
Two months of talks last year led govern-
ment representatives and Eno to travel in
September to a northeastern town where the
prisoner exchange was to take place, only to
be stymied by the Department for State Serv-
ice intelligence agency, the activist said. At
the last minute, the agency said it was holding
only four of the militants sought by Boko
Haram, the activist said.
It is not known how many Boko Haram
suspects are detained by Nigeria's intelligence
agency, whose chief Buhari fired last week.
The activist said the agency continues to
hold suspects illegally because it does not
have enough evidence for a conviction, and
any court would free them. Nigerian law
requires charges be brought after 48 hours.
Thousands of suspects have died in cus-
tody, and some detainees wanted by Boko
Haram may be among them.
Amnesty International alleges that 8,000
detainees have died in military custody---
some have been shot, some have died from
untreated injuries due to torture, and some
have died from starvation and other
In May, about 300 women, girls and chi-
dren being held captive by Boko Haram were
rescued by Nigeria's military, but none were
from Chibok. It is believed that the militants
view the Chibok girls as a last-resort bar-
In that infamous abduction, 274 mostly
Christian girls preparing to write science
exams were seized from the school by Islamic
militants in the early hours of April 15, 2014.
Dozens escaped on their own in the first few
days, but 219 remain missing.
Boko Haram has not shown them since
a May 2014 video in which its leader,
Abubakar Shekau warned: "You won't see
the girls again unless you release our brothers
you have captured."
In the video, nearly 100 of the girls, who
have been identified by their parents, were
shown wearing Islamic hijab and reciting the
Quran. One of them said they had converted
to Islam. (AP)
COLOMBO---Sri Lanka's revival of a
media regulatory group that empowers
the government to imprison or fine jour-
nalists is raising concerns from interna-
tional press freedom groups.
President Maithripala Sirisena made
new appointments last week to the council
he dissolved following his shock election
victory in January over strongman
Mahinda Rajapaksa, who had applied tight
controls over media.
Sirisena lifted media restrictions, allow-
ing journalists more space to criticise the
government. He also freed the state-run
media, which until then promoted the rul-
ing party, to allocate space for the opposi-
tion as well.
The president has not explained his lat-
The Committee to Protect Journalists
said in a statement that Sirisena's revival
of the council calls into question his com-
mitment to democratic reforms.
The council prohibits publication of what
is deemed official secrets, certain military
matters, and fiscal, exchange or import
control measures being considered by the
Anyone found guilty of such offenses
could be sentenced to a maximum of two
years in prison, a fine or both. (AP)
• Twitter: @GuardianTT • Web: guardian.co.tt
Sri Lanka revives media watchdog
BALTIMORE---Baltimore Mayor Stephanie
Rawlings-Blake said yesterday that she hads
fired Police Commissioner Anthony Batts, two
and a half months after the city broke out into
riots following the death of a man who was
injured in police custody.
The mayor did not give a reason, but the move
comes amid a spike in the city's homicide rate.
Baltimore was rocked with civil unrest in late
April after black resident Freddie Gray died one
week after suffering a critical spinal injury in
police custody. Six police officers have been crim-
inally charged in his death.
Since the rioting stopped, the city has seen a
sharp increase in violence, with 155 homicides
this year, a 48 per cent increase over the same
period last year.
The US Justice Department is conducting a
civil rights review of the department, and Batts
has been criticised by the Baltimore police union.
Mayor fires top cop
amid spike in murders
Baltimore Police Department Commissioner
Anthony Batts listens as Deputy Commissioner
Kevin Davis speaks at a news conference in
Baltimore earlier this year. AP PHOTO
ROME---Italian authorities have seized 1.6 bil-
lion euros ($1.76 billion) in wealth from Sicilian
construction company officials with alleged
ties to Mafia crime families in Corleone, a long-
time Cosa Nostra stronghold.
Carabinieri police Col. Riccardo Sciuto said
yesterday that the builders had made deals with
the Cosa Nostra, enabling them to win public
contracts "at the expense of honest business-
Investigators say the infiltration of construction
contracts, thanks to mobsters working inside
local governments or the connivance of corrupt
politicians, provides a lucrative income to the
Aided by turncoats, prosecutors have put many
of the Corleone clan's top bosses, including long-
time fugitives, in prison. Mainland-based crime
syndicates have eclipsed the weakened Sicilian
Mafia in influence in international drug trafficking,
but corruption and extortion still enrich the Sicil-
ian Mafia. (AP)
Italian police assets of
builders linked to Mafia
People take part in a march that formed part of the 'Bring Back Our Girls' campaign, in memory of
the Nigerian girls abducted by Nigerian extremists, outside the presidential residence in Abuja,
Nigeria, yesterday. Boko Haram extremists are now offering to free more than 200 young women
and girls kidnapped from a boarding school in the town of Chibok in exchange for the release of
militant leaders held by the government. AP PHOTO
Boko Haram offers swap deal to Nigeria govt
Links Archive July 8th 2015 July 10th 2015 Navigation Previous Page Next Page