“For them, women are seen as weak toys and war’s weapons” Mr. O.O. Akinlude

Mr. O.O. Akinlude is the Consular and Immigration Minister of the Embassy of Nigeria in Madrid, Spain. As a specialist in International Relations and Immigration, he has a lot of experience on issues that concern West Africa, especially on issues directly related to Nigeria.

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The Islamic fundamentalist terrorist group Boko Haram due to the constant threat is  one of the main reasons why I chose a special representative in Nigeria. This group was founded in 2002 and since 2009 has provoked thousands of altercations where countries like Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Mali and most of Nigeria have been affected.

The first part to be analysed was the description of the current situation of Nigeria after the continuous attacks by the terrorist group Boko Haram, as well as the handling of the situation by the government and economic impact to this fear in the country. His face of concern over the subject was clearly apparent. Akinlude began describing that the current situation was based on fear of any unexpected attack, stressing the complexity of anticipating the timing of these attacks. Akinlude emphasised the need for confidence and security on the part of the Nigerian population in the government but in turn empathized with the fact that it was a very complicated situation to demand that calm. He mentioned that since the death of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, the entry of arms into Libya had increased considerably, as many barriers that were previously vetoed or closed were opened due to his death.

With regard to the economic impact, he emphasised the importance of Nigeria as one of the leading countries in the oil supply, being in 2017 the second behind Mexico with higher exports (8.1 million tons). But he also criticised the fact that it can not be further developed because of the conflicts that have arisen in recent years, which have damaged Nigeria’s economy.

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Continuing with the importance of the terrorist group Boko Haram in Nigeria, in the second part of the interview the questions were related to specific topics carried out by the group in recent years, where we highlight the kidnapping of 82 girls in Chibouk (north-eastern Nigeria) and attacks of suicidal children in the last two years. The question about the abduction procedure was very necessary, as well as the role of women as the object of these attacks. Akinlude explained that 200 girls were abducted on April 14, 2014 and in October 2016, 21 of them were released thanks to the help of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Switzerland), but that it was not until May 7 when the news of the release of 82 of them was announced. The recruitment of combatants through kidnappings is very common by the terrorist group, especially in the border territory with Chad, Cameroon and Niger. The release of the girls, according to Akinlude, was an exchange of prisoners of war belonging to the Boko Haram group.

The use of children with the target of suicide attacks was one of the points to analyse, where Akinlude gave a figure of 117 attacks. These were the attacks carried out by minors by the terrorist group Boko Haram (80% of the bombs are caused by children). Akinlude exemplified the detonation in 2016 at the mosque in Kolofata (10 people were killed), repeating itself in 2015.

Regarding the question about the role of the woman he commented, “For them, women are seen as weak toys and war’s weapons”. This is a very harsh, cruel, and real statement of how women are treated in these war processes. Women are seen more vulnerable and able to succumb to this type of terrorist groups, seeing this weakness in the same way the children.

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The third part of the interview was based on future interventions and aid with modernised material adapted to the fight against terrorism in Nigeria to combat this group, since in December 2016 it was believed to be crushed but the attacks continued. Akinlude stresses the current attitude of Russia, which has offered to give aid until 2018 (Covenant by Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama). In addition, in this last year Cameroon has received a total of 96,000 refugees and in Diffa (north-eastern Nigeria) there are 240,000 displaced people fleeing the wars.

Finally I asked him a question about how he saw Nigeria in the future. He emphasized a small smile of hope showing the desire that this big problem, “Hell”, ends.

This interview has made me reflect on the problems that occur around us. Many times we see these problems so external to us that we do not give them the importance they have and after this interview I have felt very closed and I have been able to see the complicated situation of Nigeria more closely.

It was a pleasure to interview Mr O.O. Akinlude.

 

Andrea Centeno Pobre

 

“Welcome our girls, welcome our sisters”

Boko Haram’s constant terrorist threat in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Mali has provoked a multitude of deaths and controversies in the last eight years (organization founded in 2002), whose aim is to declare the establishment of the Sharia as in force norm in all the conditions of Nigeria. This organization has provoked 20.000 casualties, the displacement of 1,5 million refugees and a humanitarian crisis without precedents in the North-East of Nigeria in its eight years of insurgency.

During one of the moments of Boko Haram’s maximum territorial expansion, on April 13, 2014, members of this terrorist group were penetrating a center of Chibok’s secondary education, to the Northeast of the country, kidnapping 276 teenagers, between twelve and seventeen years of age. Of the kidnapped girls, 57 could escape of his captors, but the rest disappeared.

Now 82 of the Chibok school girls have been returned in a trade deal between Boko Haram and the Nigerian Government. In order to retrieve the girls, five of Boko Haram commanders have now been set free. The Chibok girls gained attention after social media erupted with the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls, many public figures such as former United States First Lady Michelle Obama came out in support of the movements. As of today, there are still 113 girls held captive by Boko Haram.

For the return of the girls, some parents traveled to the capital to celebrate and to be with their daughters as soon as possible, meanwhile there are still parents worried about the 113 missing girls. Integrating these girls back to society is going to be a tough task as they faced unbelievable psychical pressure and violence without any hope for freedom. Because many of them were Christians they had to convert to Islam.  It followed marriage to their captor and childbirth somewhere in the forest. The others were forced to take part in suicide missions. The UN Special Rapporteurs stressed the necessity for useful measures to address stigma and rejection of women and people associated with Boko Haram by their families and communities.

As the girls return to their homes “the president was delighted to receive them and he promised that all that is needed to be done to reintegrate them into the society will be done,” said Femi Adesina. Their reintegration to the society will be supervised by government officials.

Even though President Muhammadu Buhari promised for his election to make the fight against Boko Haram and the return of the Girls his priorities it is unclear how active the terrorist group is now. Buhari late last year announced Boko Haram had been “crushed”. With the group, still in activity in Northern Nigeria and its surrounding countries Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Idris says, “A lot of people in Nigeria don’t believe that Boko Haram will simply release those girls after three years in captivity for nothing in return.”. This shows that even after the release of 21 girls last year and 82 now the population remains uncertain about their safety from the group and the power of the government.

Source:CNN

 

Another “Pirate´´ attack in Nigeria

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Armed pirates attacked an oil products tanker off the coast of Nigeria in West Africa and abducted an unknown number of crew, security sources said on Tuesday.

Increasing piracy in the Gulf of Guinea region, which includes Africa’s No. 1 oil producer Nigeria and is a significant source of cocoa and metals for world markets, is jacking up costs for shipping firms operating there.

The Nigerian-flagged MT Matrix was boarded by gunmen in the early hours of Saturday around 40 nautical miles off the coast of oil-producing Bayelsa state, two security sources said, in a stretch of water often targeted by pirates in recent months.

There were 12 Pakistani and five Nigerian crew aboard the vessel when it was attacked, one of the sources asid, and is ignored if there are still alive or not.

A spokesman for ship operator Val Oil Trading, who refused to give his name, confirmed there had been an “accident”, without giving further details.

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Last month there were two attacks in the Gulf of Guinea where foreigners were kidnapped and released a few weeks later. Security sources believe ransoms were paid – an increasingly lucrative business for criminal gangs.

International navies have not launched counter-piracy missions in the Gulf of Guinea, leaving the many vessels that anchor off Nigeria vulnerable to attack.

On the other hand, the Eastern side of Africa, piracy that was once a scourge off the coast of Somalia has been largely brought under control by international naval patrols and the stationing of armed guards aboard merchant vessels, companies that now are working at the Nigerian coast and at the rest of the gulf of Guinea are starting to consider the use of the services of these “mercenaries´´ at the oil tankers and the oil rigs because the governments of that part of the world are unable to protect them and the international society is not interested to send war ships because, unlikely to the Somalian case, that region is not a important crossroad for the international business. That even is not as good as the red sea to hunt boats gad made the increasing of the number of pirates that can act freely in the region.

The majority of the world have ignored this action and even the Pakistan government has not make any comment yet. Time will say if we are able to stop this before this became a new red sea.

http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2011/12/15/390095/united-nations-human-rights-commissioner-calls-for-end-to-all-persecution-of-lgbt-people/ http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2012/01/30/414165/un-secretary-general-defends-lgbt-rights-in-africa/?mobile=nc http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/our-work/fighting-discrimination/uganda/?gclid=CMXervH3z68CFQHcfAod9R45HA http://vibeghana.com/2012/04/24/gambia-says-no-to-aid-money-tied-to-gay-rights/

http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2011/12/15/390095/united-nations-human-rights-commissioner-calls-for-end-to-all-persecution-of-lgbt-people/ http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2012/01/30/414165/un-secretary-general-defends-lgbt-rights-in-africa/?mobile=nc http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/our-work/fighting-discrimination/uganda/?gclid=CMXervH3z68CFQHcfAod9R45HA http://vibeghana.com/2012/04/24/gambia-says-no-to-aid-money-tied-to-gay-rights/

The feelings that one has for another cannot be questioned, can it?

The question of homosexuality is one that has been on the minds of all for generations and the last couple of years has seen the western world embrace it to a certain degree. Even though in most countries their union may not be recognized as a marriage but a civil partnership, it has become a common phenomenon that is not scrutinized as much. This can also be attributed to the degree to which the world had become so secular.

With Africa always behind in comparison to the Western World and being such a religious continent the theme of homosexuality is not only seen as a sin, however this sinful act has now been manifest from a spiritual level of being condemned to hell to being criminalized. In Uganda the law explicitly states that engaging in homosexual, lesbian, bisexual, intersex and transgender (LGBT ) will result in an individual facing a lifetime of imprisonment. Such individuals also face ‘correctional rape’ and may be killed by members of society as a form of punishment. Individuals who kill as a form of punishment are also not prosecuted because they are doing the will of God or serving justice.

Numerous people in Africa forge bearded relationships to conceal their real sexual orientation, hence numerous women get married to men that they do not love, with both parties knowingly aware that one or both of them are attracted to the opposite sex. They do this a sign of respect to their families; fear of disownment, death and also for religious reasons (which they are going against).

In the case of African women, most of them are usually introduced into the whole system of lesbianism, they are not necessary attracted to women; they just enjoy having intercourse with women. In the case of such women who are introduced to the system they feel neglected by their husbands or partners who are usually busy with other commitments and as a result of this their friend(s) may introduce them to lesbianism. There is no question that some women do fall in love with other women. However some also become lesbians to avoid becoming pregnant, or for the sheer fact that women understand them better.

The men usually are aware of the fact that they are attracted to other men during their teenage years, but live in denial. Most men go to the grave with the secret due to their confusion or engage in the act if they are certain about it. However those who have the opportunity to travel to the Western World come to understand their feelings with the help of others, whereas due to the advancement a lot of media coverage focuses both on homo and heterosexual themes explored with the numerous characters that are used.

The theme of religion and the socialization factor are very important components in regards to how Homosexuality is viewed in Africa, and because it goes against the norm, such individuals are discriminated against and treated as second class citizens. This has been addressed by the UN General Secretary, Ki- Moon who stresses on the importance of confronting this form of discrimination in Africa. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton highlighted the importance of gay rights to be viewed as human rights all over the world. There have been threats to also remove aid  by the West from such regions if gay rights are not observed and individuals are discriminated against.

Although the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner called for an end to the prosecution of LGBT individuals, how far will this message be absorbed and be incorporated into the cultural values of African people to ensure that such individuals feel free to love, live without fear of being judged. The freedom of choice applies to all; hence it is one’s choice what their sexual orientation should be and not necessarily society’s.