The Late 5: DSS narrates how it negotiated the release of the Dapchi schoolgirls, Russia accuses EU of anti-Russian campaign and other top stories

These are the top five stories that drove conversation today.

President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the Federal Government is ready to accept the “unconditional laying down of arms by any member of the Boko Haram group who shows strong commitment in that regard”.

The president, who was speaking when he received the released Dapchi schoolgirls at the presidential villa in Abuja on Friday, also said, “we are ready to rehabilitate and integrate such repentant members into the larger society. This country has suffered enough of hostility.”

Buhari added efforts were being made to secure the release of every abducted citizen in Nigeria.


The Director General of the State Security Service (SSS), Lawal Daura, recalled that the president had given “a clear directive to security agencies to use peaceful options to ensure the timely and safe release of the girls”.

This, he said, led to “intense behind-the-scene dialogue spearheaded by the Department of State Services”.

Daura said the insurgents’ only condition was their demands for suspension of hostilities and temporary ceasefire to enable them return the girls at the point they picked them.


African leaders gathered in Kigali, Rwandan, to sign the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) to create a unified market for about 1.2 billion people across the continent but some African leaders refused to sign the agreement – one of which is President Buhari.

In reaction, former president Olusegun Obasanjo describes such move as “criminal“.

According to Premium Times, Obasanjo said, “This is a process that has taken 55 years.

The African integration that our founding fathers fought for.”

When you have a thing that is in the best interest of the people and you fail to do it, it is a crime,” he added.


The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ondo Friday, reacted to the verdict of the Supreme Court on the commencement of hearing in a case filed against the outcome of September 3, 2016, primary in Ondo by an aspirant, Dr. Olusegun Abraham.

The party in a statement noted that some Nigerians have started misinterpreting the apex court’s verdict as outright removal of Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu from office and to be replaced with the applicant, Abraham.

The Supreme Court on Friday had dismissed an appeal by Akeredolu for lacking in merit.

Akeredolu had, by the appeal, challenged a July 2017 judgment of the Court of Appeal, Abuja, which upheld an order by Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of Federal High Court in Abuja, granting permission to Abraham to serve Akeredolu through substituted means, court documents in relation to the suit he (Abraham) filed.

Abraham’s suit is challenging the outcome of the primary of the APC, which produced Akeredolu as the party’s candidate for the last governorship election in Ondo.


The Federal High Court, Abuja, has freed Sylvester Ngwuta, a justice of the Supreme Court, standing trial for corruption.

Ngwuta is accused of receiving bribes and is standing trial for a 13-count charge at the court.

His house was among the judges residence raided by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) in October 2016.


And stories from around the world…

Spanish police have rescued 39 women and girls smuggled in from Nigeria and trafficked into sex work by a notorious Nigerian gang, BBC reports.

Europol says the victims were kept in “squalid conditions in caves” and intimidated with voodoo threats.

Gang members forced the women into sex work in order to pay off a 30,000 euro ($37,000; £26,000) debt.

Eighty-nine people, including a famous but as yet unnamed Nigerian DJ, have been arrested.

The DJ is said to have helped move victims to Spain and organise sexual exploitation across the country.

He was caught flying back into Spain after recording a music video.


Russia has accused the European Union of following an “anti-Russian campaign launched by London” over the nerve agent attack on a former double agent.

Moscow maintains denial for the attack on former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury on March 4.


A ceasefire deal that will allow the evacuation of tens of thousands of civilians and fighters under Russian guarantees has been reached in the besieged Syrian enclave of eastern Ghouta.

The agreement, which was confirmed by the spokesman of the second-largest rebel group in the area, will allow civilians and fighters to either leave for northern Syria or remain in their homes and reconcile with the regime of Bashar al-Assad, with guarantees from Moscow that they will not be prosecuted for opposition activities.


Just as expected, US President Donald Trump signed the $1.3 trillion spending bill that passed Congress last night, which he threatened to veto earlier today.

When asked about his veto threat he said, “We looked at it, a veto. I looked very seriously at the veto. I was thinking about doing the veto.

But because of the incredible gains that we’ve been able to make for the military, that overrode any of our thinking,” he added.

 


A gunman killed at least three people in a supermarket in Trebes, France Friday, before being fatally shot by police.

The suspect, who reportedly pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, took several hostages and was involved in a police standoff for about three hours. Witnesses say he was heavily armed and was demanding the release of Salah Abdeslam, the only living suspect in the 2015 Paris attacks that killed 130 people.

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