These are the stories you should be monitoring today:
A report by the United Nations (UN) has claimed that the federal government paid huge ransom for the release of Dapchi school girls kidnapped in February.
As stated in paragraph 43 of the 25-page report, signed by the Coordinator, Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team, Edmund Fitton-Brown, and the Chair, Security Council Committee, the UN said: “The predominance in the region of the cash economy, without controls, is conducive to terrorist groups funded by extortion, charitable donations, smuggling, remittances and kidnapping.
“In Nigeria, 111 schoolgirls from the town of Dapchi were kidnapped on 18 February 2018 and released by ISWAP on 21 March 2018 in exchange for a large ransom payment.”
The Federal Government on Thursday, however insisted that it did not pay any ransom to secure the release of the Dapchi girls released last March by Boko Haram.
Refuting the claims in the report, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, in a statement issued in Ilorin, insisted that the report remained a speculation until evidence of payment of the purported ransom was made available.
“It is not enough to say that Nigeria paid a ransom, little or huge, there must be a conclusive evidence to support such claim. Without that, the claim remains what it is: a mere conjecture,” the Minister said.
The Federal Government has declared Tuesday, August 21, and Wednesday, August 22, as public holidays for the celebration the 2018 Eid-el-Kabir.
Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau announced the decision on Thursday, in a statement by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mohammed Umar.
The Senate and House of Representatives Joint Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has on Thursday invited the National Chairman of INEC, Prof Mahmoud Yakubu, to appear before it to further clarify discrepancies noticed in its 2019 election budget.
Chairman of the Committee, Senator Suleiman Nazif, announced this after a closed-door session of the joint committee on Thursday, as the disparities bother on seperate figures presented by INEC and the President.
While the electoral body submitted a budget of N189bn, in the letter that was earlier sent to the National Assembly on the same subject by President Buhari, N143bn was the amount being requested for the commission.
The Nigeria Police has on Thursday given reasons for its prosecution of Premium Times’ reporter, Samuel Ogundipe arrested on the 14th of August, 2018
According to a statement by the Force Spokesman, Jimoh Moshood, the journalist is “being investigated and prosecuted for the offences of theft and unlawful possession of restricted and classified documents inimical to State/National Security that can jeopardize peace, breakdown of law and order capable of precipitating crisis in the Country.”
“Mr. Samuel Ogundipe is also being investigated and prosecuted under other offences which violate Official Secret Act, Cyber Crime Act, and the Penal Code Law for which he has volunteered statements and is standing trial,” he added, insisting that the Police is a law-abiding organisation that will ensure that the rule of law prevail in the case.
And stories from around the world:
Hundreds of Google employees have written to the company to protest against plans to launch a “censored search engine” in China.
They said the project raised “urgent moral and ethical questions” and urged the firm to be more transparent. (BBC)
Hundreds of troops led a desperate operation to rescue families trapped by mounting floods in India’s Kerala state Thursday as the death toll reached 106 with nearly 150,000 left homeless. (AFP)
China’s military has expanded its bomber operations in recent years while “likely training for strikes” against the United States and its allies, a Pentagon report released on Thursday said. (Reuters)
The Vatican expressed “shame and sorrow” on Thursday over revelations that Roman Catholic priests in Pennsylvania sexually abused about 1,000 people over seven decades, vowing to hold abusers and those who protected them accountable. (Reuters)
A pop star-turned-opposition MP in Uganda, Robert Kyagulanyi, has been charged with unlawful possession of weapons in a military court, following his arrest after the presidential convoy was pelted with stones. (Al Jazeera)
Temidayo Taiwo-Sidiq is a Political Journalist, Analyst and Social Change Advocate with major interest in Nigerian Politics, Governance and Sports.