The month of July 2020, recorded a flurry of activities. As predicted by experts, the COVID-19 infection in Nigeria began to peak. By July 31, the number of confirmed cases had exceeded 42,000 against the background of controversies over the cure, such as posited by Dr Stella Immanuel’s claim of the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat patients, taking on the world.
The conflicts in Nigeria’s Northeast and Northwest regions did not abate and came with the rains unleashing anger in communities in Nigeria, while personal safety in the hands of touts was also a concern.
Through in-depth investigation and reporting, the newspaper established that the increase in the novel coronavirus infection in Nigeria may be linked to the negative attitudes of Nigerians who either doubt the reality of the virus infection or deliberately ignore safety guidelines aimed at checkmating the spread of the virus.
In the security sector, the newspaper exposed the exploitation of poor citizens by security agents and task teams either on the excuse of enforcing COVID-19 guidelines or compelling them to abandon their means of livelihood. Victims of the Boko Haram insurgency in the Northeast and those suffering from terrorist acts of armed bands in the Northwest, who are currently gaining support from the insurgents in the Lake Chad region, voiced out their frustrations from refugee camps in Nigeria and abroad.
And while the military battles insurgents and other terrorists, it is also engaged in a war with the management of information from the war front, sometimes leading to its intimidating media houses considered enemies of the state. It was a mixed grill as captured in the reports featured in our milestones for the month. The list is not exhaustive, but a reading of some of the stories highlighted below will help make the issues better understood.
Scorned and underrated, Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Jama’atu Ahlul Sunnah Lidda’awatu Wal-Jihad (JAS), otherwise known as Boko Haram is currently pulling a massive stealth strategy in an organisational makeover destined to connect the northeast, the north-west and the north-central in a bewildering expansionist agenda.
Defined by welcoming former apostates; engaging in factional reconciliations; admitting of modest ideological shifts; and proposing a balanced role for clerics and combatants in his group, Shekau is on the move to consolidate his ranks and establish himself as the ‘African Jihadi Caliph’ after his 2011-12 falling out with Al Qaeda, the embattled Islamic State in Iraq and the Levent.
Many single mothers in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps or those taking refuge in host communities are widowed as a result of the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria’s Northeast region. Others are divorcees or single mothers whose husbands are missing, a HumAngle investigation reveals.
However, whatever the circumstance for the women, it has been a life of pain and struggle to raise children alone, especially as the majority are poor without sustainable means of livelihood.
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are particularly more vulnerable to the Covid-19 pandemic than many other groups, considering how they are cramped in poor unhealthy facilities.
For a large number of IDPs who find themselves sharing one tent with at least five people, communicating the virus to a nearby sleeper, especially who, like many others in the North East, don’t believe the virus exists, is as simple as sipping a cup of coffee.
The fear of security personnel and task force teams in the five Southeast states of Nigeria is more significant than concerns about infection with COVID-19, a HumAngle investigation has revealed.
Travelling through four of the five, HumAngle found that the people live in doubt about the novel coronavirus infection. However, they reluctantly strap face masks on their jaws for fear of arrest and exploitation by security personnel and task force teams set up by state governments to ensure compliance with rules against the spread of the virus infection.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made Nigeria’s affluent individuals resort to remote treatment, a HumAngle investigation has revealed.
Medical personnel, working in both public and private hospitals, say doctors are summoned to their private residences for treatment rather than attend to them in a hospital.
Over six years after Chibok in Borno State was hit by one of the worst cases of terrorist abduction in recent Nigerian history, the town has still not recovered as it grapples with the twin evil of occasional terrorist attacks and insufficient basic amenities.
In April 2014, members of the terror group, Boko Haram, had invaded the Government Secondary School, Chibok, and abducted 276 children, 57 of which escaped that night by jumping off trucks into nearby bushes. The girls, many of whom were from surrounding communities, had camped in the school to take external examinations.
They must know how to plead, for the safety of their cars and their lives. It is a more important skill than knowing how to drive as they navigate traps set by touts in strategic locations of the city.
Although Nigeria’s Southeast region is the least volatile security-wise, it is perhaps the most policed with the security agencies, including the police, the army and drug enforcement as well road safety corps and task forces erecting checkpoints in close proximity to one another.
However, such checkpoints are avenues for extortion, intimidation and deprivation of investors whose resources are used to “unofficially’’ service security personnel on duty rather than provide security, a HumAngle investigation reveals.
The rainy season in northeastern Nigeria is associated with social and health problems for thousands of individuals displaced by the decades-old conflict in the region.
In Borno State, the epicentre of the Boko Haram insurgency, recent flash floods and windstorms wreaked havoc in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps, partially submerging shelters and increasing health risks for inmates.
As they spend five years in office and against the backdrop of unending insecurity across the country, eight in 10 Nigerians who responded to a survey conducted by HumAngle have passed a vote of no confidence on Nigeria’s current crop of service chiefs.
The survey, which was conducted between Monday and Wednesday on Twitter, a microblogging platform, gathered a total of 2,655 votes.
Frustrated by constant attacks and destruction in their communities in spite of peace accords with armed gangs, the youth in Katsina State have taken up the challenge to confront criminals terrorising their communities by enlisting in vigilance groups and other non-formal security organisations.
In a twist of fate, suspected Jihadist terror groups from Maradi in Niger Republic invade the hideouts of armed groups in Northwest Nigeria through Dumburum Forest in Zurmi Local Government Area of Zamfara State, disarm them, rustle their stolen animals and re-loot other valuable items in their possession, sources said.
The Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), a breakaway terrorist group from the Boko Haram, claims it killed 40 personnel of the Nigerian Army in an ambush attack on Tuesday, July 7. But the military said only two soldiers lost their lives in that incident.
ISWAP shared the information in an infographic released by An-Naba, a weekly newspaper published by the Islamic State’s media office.
Systematic disinformation and hate speech campaign trended on Friday, July 17, on Twitter Nigeria with users promoting messages accusing Kanuris in general as promoters of Boko Haram ideology.
The users who used the #StopKanuriBokoHaram hashtag on the platform claimed that Boko Haram is working to return back the Kanem Empire in Nigeria.
The Nigerian Army has occasionally made statements condemning the spread of misinformation which, it says, has the potential to undermine national security. It has more frequently debunked particular claims about its operations that are in circulation. But recent trends show that it might have extended its definition of “fake news” to include any information from journalists that it is not comfortable having in the publicㅡeven if true.
In May 2019, the army accused some individuals of “deliberately churning falsehood against the security agencies with a view to set the military against the people and the government”.
Hardly has a month passed since November 2019, without a policeman in Nigeria killing his colleague(s) or himself ㅡ or both.
Experts say the trend may be due to accumulated frustration from the job, anger or the absence of an alternative way of venting grievances.
Despite the Federal Government’s directives that exit classes in secondary schools should reopen on August 4, preparations are on low gear in Edo State as stakeholders harbour mixed feelings.
Following the announcement to reopen for the exit class students, most schools, parents and the children are displeased over what they described as “a very close date with no solid plan”.
Zainab Bello (not real name), is a 32-year-old Fulani woman and hails from Yobe state. She has endured domestic abuse for years. Often, she receives beatings and other forms of emotional subjugation.
She was in a marital relationship that was everything but rewarding. She finally decided she could no longer bear the inhuman treatment anymore. There was so much uncertainty ahead of her. There was also the social trauma that followed a woman who is divorced.
The Coronavirus crisis has affected most businesses and industries in Kano State with operators struggling for survival, a HumAngle investigation has revealed.
Operators in some markets within Kano municipality said businesses were suffering from poor patronage by individuals and the government.
The divorce rate in Northern Nigeria is among the highest in West Africa. In recent times, particularly in Kano State, the divorce rate has reached an alarming proportion.
In 2009, it was estimated that there were over one million registered divorcees in Kano State which prompted Hajiya Altine Abdullahi, an Executive Director of National Association of Divorcees/Orphans and Widows, to threaten a protest march.
Adama (not real name) was married at 13 and got pregnant at 14. She has never visited the hospital for antenatal or any form of medical care. Her case is the norm in Borno State, where she hails from.
When HumAngle visited her, her eyes conveyed the pains that came from her fight with Vesicovaginal fistula (VVF). VVF is an abnormal fistulous tract extending between the bladder (vesica) and the vagina that allows the continuous involuntary discharge of urine into the vaginal vault.
Adama Abubakar had tears rolling down her eyes as she recalled the trauma she had endured since Boko Haram abducted her about four years ago.
While pregnant, she was separated from her family, raped, had her kidnapper-husband killed for being disloyal and eventually returned to her village with the child of an insurgent.
The conflict in the Northwest region of Nigeria, particularly in Sabon Layin Galadima community in Faskari Local Government Area of Katsina State, started because of a fight between an ox and a sheep, HumAngle has learnt.
Alhaji Umaru, 82, the oldest man in the village and currently living in an Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp, told HumAngle that a fight between his ox and a Fulani man’s ram led to the animosity between his community and the Fulani community.
COVID-19 tests in Nigeria have increased by 94 per cent since April 27, and this means that as at July 9, the country has conducted 169, 629 tests.
The figure is 159, 629 higher than the 10, 000 tests Nigeria carried out in April. However, the country is still among those with the lowest number of tests in Africa.