Boko Haram has released 82 schoolgirls from a group of 276 they abducted in north-eastern Nigeria three years ago, President Muhammadu Buhari’s office says.
The girls were handed over in exchange for Boko Haram suspects after negotiations.
They will be received by President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja on May 7, a statement said.
The abduction of the so-called “Chibok girls” triggered a global outcry and sparked a huge social media campaign.
Before the latest release, about 195 of the girls were still missing.
The number of Boko Haram suspects released by authorities remains undisclosed.
Christian pastor Enoch Mark, whose two daughters were among those kidnapped, told AFP: “This is good news to us. We have been waiting for this day. We hope the remaining girls will soon be released.”
It was unclear whether his daughters had been freed.
A statement from a spokesman for President Muhammadu Buhari said he was deeply grateful to “security agencies, the military, the Government of Switzerland, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and local and international NGOs” for playing a role in the operation.
After the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Borno state, was raided in April 2014, more than 50 girls quickly escaped and Boko Haram then freed another 21 in October 2016, after negotiations with the Red Cross.
Last month, President Muhammadu Buhari said the Nigerian government remained “in constant touch through negotiations, through local intelligence to secure the release of the remaining girls and other abducted persons unharmed”.
Many of the Chibok girls were Christian, but were encouraged to convert to Islam and to marry their kidnappers during their time in captivity.
Boko Haram has released a second video showing some of the schoolgirls they abducted from Chibok, northern Nigeria.
The footage released by the Nigerian Islamist group shows some 50 girls and a gunman who demands the release of fighters in return for the girls, and says some girls died in air strikes.
The Nigerian government says it is in touch with the militants behind the video.
Journalist Ahmad Salkida who had contact with Boko Haram has been declared a wanted man by the Nigerian army.
Boko Haram is said to be holding more than 200 of the 276 final-year girls it seized from a school in April 2014.
Non-Muslims were forcibly converted to Islam, and it is feared that many of the schoolgirls have been abused and forced into “marriage” by their captors.
Parents of the missing girls have described their anguish at seeing their daughters in captivity.
The video begins with a shot of a masked man, carrying a gun, speaking to the camera. He says that some of the girls have been wounded and have life-threatening injuries, and that 40 have been “married”.
Speaking in the Hausa language, the gunman says the girls on display will “never” be returned if the government does not release Boko Haram fighters who have been “in detention for ages”.
The footage concludes with footage of bodies, said to be the victims of air strikes, lying on the ground at another location.
The militant also carries out a staged interview with one of the captives, who calls herself Maida Yakubu, in which she asks parents to appeal to the government.
Maida Yakubu’s mother, Esther, is one of several parents of Chibok girls who recently published open letters to their daughters detailing the pain they feel at their children’s absence and their hopes for the future.
Another girl among those standing in the background can be seen with a baby. Some of the girls can be seen weeping as Maida speaks.
Boko Haram has waged a violent campaign for years in northern Nigeria in its quest for Islamic rule, and a faction of the group recently pledged loyalty to ISIS.
Thousands of people have been killed or captured by Boko Haram, whose name translates as “Western education is forbidden”. Many of the girls abducted in Chibok were Christian.
Nigerian Information Minister Alhaji Mohammed insisted the government was doing everything possible to secure the girls’ release.
“We are being extremely careful because the situation has been compounded by the split in the leadership of Boko Haram,” he said.
“We are also being guided by the need to ensure the safety of the girls.”
The video is the first to be seen since CNN obtained footage in April purportedly showing 15 of the girls.
The Nigerian army declared journalist Ahmad Salkida a wanted man after he published details of the new video before it was released.
Ahmad Salkida, who moved to Dubai a few years ago, has written extensively about the inside operations of the group.
The Chibok girls had been thought to be in a heavily forested area of northern Nigeria.
A girl said to be one of those captured, Amina Ali Nkeki, was found wandering in the Sambisa Forest in May by an army-backed vigilante group.
Former Nigerian chief of defense Alex Badeh has been accused of stealing $20 million from the air force and buying a mansion.
Retired Air Chief Marshall Alex Badeh denies 10 charges of fraud, criminal breach of trust and money laundering.
He was appointed chief of defense two years ago.
ACM Alex Badeh is accused of using the funds to buy a mansion in the capital Abuja along with a string of other properties.
More than $1 million in cash was also reportedly found at one of his homes.
Under former President Goodluck Jonathan, front-line troops complained that they were ill-equipped to fight the militants and discipline in the army was breaking down as soldiers refused to carry out orders.
An investigation has alleged that a total of $2 billion meant to buy arms to fight Boko Haram had gone missing.
The former national security adviser, Sambo Dasuki, was charged in December in connection with the case involving $68 million that is alleged to be missing. He was accused of awarding phantom contracts to buy helicopters, fighter jets and ammunition, which he denied.
Twelve other senior Nigerian army officers were handed over to the anti-corruption agency in February for their alleged involvement in the arms scandal.
Muhammadu Buhari won elections a year ago on promises to tackle both Boko Haram and corruption.
Chad has declared a state of emergency after Boko Haram attacks in the Lake Chad region.
At least two people were killed in a suspected Boko Haram suicide bomb attack.
Ministers say sweeping powers to control people’s movements are needed because the area, which borders Nigeria, is targeted by Boko Haram.
Chad has been instrumental in helping Nigeria retake most of the areas Boko Haram had seized in northern Nigeria.
In the last few months, the militant group has intensified attacks in remote areas around Lake Chad.
Boko Haram is suspected of involvement in the killing of at least two people in a village in Chad on November 8 and three Nigerian refugees in northern Cameroon on November 9.
The state of emergency will give the governor of the region the authority to ban the movement of people and vehicles, search homes and recover arms, the government announced following an extraordinary cabinet meeting.
Aside from Chad, Boko Haram attacks have spread from north-eastern Nigeria, its traditional stronghold, to the neighboring countries of Niger and Cameroon.
Chad is also host to a new regional force set up to tackle the Nigeria-based militant Islamists.
Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria agreed to establish the 8,700-strong force, but it has yet to start operations in earnest because of reported funding difficulties.
According to Amnesty International, at least 17,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed since 2009, when Boko Haram launched its violent uprising to try to impose Islamist rule in northern Nigeria.
Niger and Chad forces have launched a ground and air offensive against militant group Boko Haram in north-eastern Nigeria, officials say.
The campaign is said to be targeting militants in Borno state.
The move came as Nigerian officials dismissed Boko Haram’s pledge of allegiance to Islamic State (ISIS) as a reaction to military pressure from Nigeria and its allies.
The pledge was posted online on March 7 in an audio message by Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau.
Abubakar Shekau called on Muslims everywhere to swear loyalty to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Boko Haram has been fighting an insurgency to create an Islamic state in northern Nigeria since 2009, and in recent months the violence has increasingly spilled over into neighboring states.
Chad, Cameroon and Niger have already been helping Nigeria in its battle against Boko Haram.
On March 6, the African Union endorsed the creation of a regional force of more than 8,000 troops to combat the group. However, the force’s remit will be limited to securing the Nigerian side of Lake Chad, rather than pushing further into Nigeria.
As the latest offensive began early on Sunday, a resident and an aid worker told AFP news agency there had been heavy arms fire close to Niger’s border with Nigeria.
A local radio station said that a convoy of more than 200 vehicles was moving towards the area, and that air strikes had been carried out on Saturday and early on Sunday.
The Nigerian military and troops from neighboring states have recently claimed some success in their campaign against Boko Haram, and Nigerian officials said the pledge of allegiance to IS was a sign of weakness
Army spokesman Col. Sami Usman Kukasheka said the Boko Haram leader was like a “drowning man”.
A spokesman for the Nigerian government, Mike Omeri, said Boko Haram needed help “as a result of the heavy casualties and bombardment and degrading of their capacity”.
However, Boko Haram militants have continued to launch deadly attacks.
On March 7, Boko Haram was blamed for a series of attacks in its former stronghold of Maiduguri, including suicide bombings, that left more than 50 people dead.
Nigeria postponed national elections by six weeks until March 28 in order to have more time to try to improve security in the north.
Col. Sami Usman Kukasheka called on Nigerians “to be more security conscious because given the onslaught on Boko Haram definitely they are bound to spring surprises”.
ISIS has forged links with other militant groups across North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, and in January, militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan pledged their allegiance.
A market explosion in the north-eastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri has killed at least 16 people and injured several others, medics say.
Some reports say that the market explosion was triggered by a girl suicide bomber who may have been as young as 10 years old.
No group has so far claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attack.
However, correspondents say that all the signs point to the militant Islamist Boko Haram group.
The market is reported to have been targeted twice in a week by female bombers late last year.
Borno State police spokesman Gideon Jubrin said that the girl suicide bomber let off an improvised explosive device near the area of the market where chickens were sold.
Hundreds of people were killed on January 7 in an assault by Boko Haram militants on the town of Baga, following on their seizure of a key military base there on January 3.
Scores of bodies from that attack – described by Amnesty International as possibly the “deadliest massacre” in the history of Boko Haram – are reported to remain strewn in the bush.
District head Baba Abba Hassan said most victims in the Baga attack were children, women or elderly people who were not able to escape when insurgents forced their way into the town by firing rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles.
“The human carnage perpetrated by Boko Haram terrorists in Baga was enormous,” Muhammad Abba Gava, a spokesman for a civilian defense group that fights Boko Haram told the Associated Press .
Boko Haram launched a military campaign in 2009 to create an Islamic state.
The group has taken control of many towns and villages in north-eastern Nigeria in the last year.
The conflict has displaced at least 1.5 million people, while more than 2,000 were killed last year.
Royal Dutch Shell has agreed to an $84 million settlement with residents of the Bodo community in the Niger Delta for two oil spills.
Lawyers for 15,600 Nigerian fishermen say their clients will receive $3,300 each for losses caused by the spills.
The remaining $30 million will be left for the community, which law firm Leigh Day says was “devastated by the two massive oil spills in 2008 and 2009”.
They say they affected thousands of hectares of mangrove in south Nigeria.
The settlement was announced by Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary SPDC.
“From the outset, we’ve accepted responsibility for the two deeply regrettable operational spills in Bodo,” its managing director Mutiu Sunmonu said. Shell says that both spills were caused by operational failure of the pipelines.
However, Shell maintains that the extent of environmental pollution in the area is caused by “the scourge of oil theft and illegal refining”.
It also suggested that earlier settlement efforts had been hampered “by divisions within the community”.
The law firm representing the Nigerian fishermen and their community, Leigh Day, described it as one of the largest payouts to an entire community after devastating environmental damage.
“It is the first time that compensation has been paid following an oil spill in Nigeria to the thousands of individuals who have suffered loss,” the firm said in a press release confirming the development.
The deal, which ends a three-year legal battle, is the first of its kind in Nigeria, it added.
Leigh Day also said that Shell had pledged to clean up the Bodo Creek over the next few months.
Lawyer Martyn Day, who represents the claimants, said it was “deeply disappointing that Shell took six years to take this case seriously and to recognize the true extent of the damage these spills caused to the environment and to those who rely on it for their livelihood”.
An Amnesty International report into the effects of the oil spills in Bodo, a town in the Ogoniland region, said that the spills had caused headaches and eyesight problems.
The price of fish, a local staple food, rose as much as tenfold and many fishermen had to find alternative ways to make a living, the report added. A separate UN study said local drinking water sources were also contaminated.
The two spills came from the same pipe on the Trans Niger Pipeline, operated by Shell, which takes oil from its fields to the export terminal at Bonny on the coast. It carries about 180,000 barrels of oil per day.
Boko Haram militants have reportedly abducted dozens of women and girls from two villages in Nigeria’s north-eastern Adamawa state.
The abductions have not been confirmed by the authorities, but Adamawa residents say they took place a day after the military announced it had agreed a ceasefire with the Boko Haram group.
The government hopes the Islamist group will free more than 200 girls seized in April as part of negotiations.
Boko Haram has not confirmed the truce.
Following the ceasefire announcement, the government said further talks with Boko Haram were due to be held this week in neighboring Chad.
In a separate incident, at least five people were killed in a bomb blast at a bus station in a town in the northern state of Bauchi.
Boko Haram militants have reportedly abducted dozens of women and girls from two villages in Nigeria’s north-eastern Adamawa state (photo AFP)
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
News of the new abductions came as Nigerian lawmakers approved a $1 billion loan – requested by the president in July – to upgrade military equipment and train more units fighting the north-eastern insurgency.
But they asked the finance minister to give the chamber more details about how the external borrowing would be sourced.
Security already costs the country close to $6 billion, roughly a quarter of the federal budget.
The abduction of the schoolgirls from their boarding school in Borno state sparked a global campaign to pressure the government to secure their release.
Borno is the group’s stronghold. It has been under a state of emergency, along with neighboring Adamawa and Yobe states, for more than a year.
The villages that were attacked on Saturday – Waga Mangoro and Garta – are close to Madagali and Michika towns, which have been under the control of the Islamist militant group for several weeks.
According to people in the area, a large group of insurgents attacked the villages, rounding up women and girls.
They forced them to harvest groundnuts on a farm, then abducted those who were teenagers or in their early 20s.
Communication with the affected area is difficult, which is why it takes time for news of attacks to filter out.
Other raids by suspected Boko Haram fighters were reported by residents in Adamawa and Borno over the weekend.
Since the state of emergency was declared in May 2013, Boko Haram has taken many women and children hostage and has agreed to some prisoner swaps.
Nigerian schools have been ordered to remain closed until October 13 as part of measures to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus.
The new academic year was due to start on Monday, September 1.
The education minister ordered the closures to allow staff to be trained on how to handle suspected Ebola cases.
Five people have died of Ebola in Nigeria. The West Africa outbreak has centered on Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, killing more than 1,400 people.
It is the largest ever outbreak and has infected an estimated 2,615 people. About half of those infected have died.
The virus is spread between humans through direct contact with infected bodily fluids.
Nigerian schools have been ordered to remain closed until October 13 as part of measures to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus (photo Getty Images)
There is no cure for Ebola but with intensive care treatment and proper hydration, patients have a chance of survival.
It spread to Nigeria – Africa’s most populous country – in July, when a person infected with Ebola flew from Liberia to Lagos.
The Nigerian government says it hopes its efforts to contain the virus are working, as there is only one confirmed case of Ebola remaining.
“All state ministries of education are to immediately organize and ensure that at least two staff in each school, both private and public, are trained by appropriate health workers no later than 15 September 2014 on how to handle any suspected case of Ebola,” said Education Minister Ibrahim Shekarau.
“And also embark on immediate sensitization of all teaching and non-teaching staff in all schools on preventive measures,” he said.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) has temporarily shut an Ebola testing laboratory in Kailahun in eastern Sierra Leone after a Senegalese health worker became infected with the virus.
There have been 392 Ebola deaths in Sierra Leone, according to the latest UN figures released on August 22. Kailahun is one of the worst-affected districts and is currently under blockade.
“It’s a temporary measure to take care of the welfare of our remaining workers,” a WHO spokesman is quoted by the Reuters news agency as saying.
On Tuesday, the WHO said an “unprecedented” number of doctors and nurses had been infected with Ebola which was further impeding control efforts.
Infections were due to a shortage of protective equipment and staff, it said.
Only one or two doctors are available for 100,000 patients in some of the affected countries.
Terrorist group Boko Haram has said it has set up an Islamic state in the towns and villages it has seized in north-eastern Nigeria.
Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau was speaking in a video released to congratulate his fighters for seizing the town of Gwoza earlier this month.
It is not clear if Abubakar Shekau has pledged allegiance to Islamic State, which controls parts of Iraq and Syria.
Nigeria’s army has rejected the claim as “empty”.
Thousands of people have been killed, mostly in north-eastern Nigeria, since 2009 when Boko Haram began its insurgency.
Gwoza, which had 265,000 residents in the last census, is the biggest town under Boko Haram control.
Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau was speaking in a video released to congratulate his fighters for seizing the town of Gwoza earlier this month
It has raised its flags over the palace of the Emir of Gwoza, the town’s traditional ruler, residents say.
“Thanks be to Allah who gave victory to our brethren in Gwoza and made it part of the Islamic state,” Abubakar Shekau said in the 52-minute video.
It controls several areas, mostly in Borno state where the group was launched, but also in neighboring Yobe state.
The video also shows about 20 men in civilian clothes apparently being shot dead.
Nigeria’s military spokesman Chris Olukolade responded with a statement dismissing the declaration.
“The sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Nigerian state is still intact,” he said.
In his previous video, released in July, Abubakar Shekau congratulated the Islamic State (IS) for its advances in Iraq and Syria but did not say whether they were allies – there is no evidence that the two groups have been working together.
IS has seized much of northern Iraq in recent months, leading the US to launch air strikes.
Last week, the militants sparked global outrage by killing American journalist James Foley.
Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan has declared the outbreak of Ebola “a national emergency” and approved more than $11 million to help contain it.
The move comes after the World Health Organization (WHO) said the spread of the virus in West Africa was an international health emergency.
WHO says 961 people have died from Ebola in West Africa this year, two of them in Nigeria.
The total number of cases stands at 1,779, the UN health agency said.
In a statement, President Goodluck Jonathan called on Nigerians to report any suspected Ebola cases to the nearest medical authorities.
Goodluck Jonathan also urged the public not to spread “false information about Ebola which can lead to mass hysteria”.
Nigeria has declared the outbreak of Ebola a national emergency
Nigeria became the fourth West African country involved in the outbreak when a dual US-Liberian citizen infected with Ebola arrived in Lagos after flying from Liberia via Togo on 20 July.
He died five days later and eight people who came into contact with him were also later diagnosed with Ebola. One of them, a nurse, died on Tuesday.
Nigeria’s state oil company said on Friday it had shut down one of its clinics in Lagos following a suspected case.
US health authorities said on Friday they were sending extra personnel and resources to Nigeria.
“We are starting to ramp up our staffing in Lagos,” US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention spokesman Tom Skinner told AFP news agency.
“We are really concerned about Lagos and the potential for spread there, given the fact that Lagos – and Nigeria for that matter – has never seen Ebola.”
International companies are also taking protective measures and the world’s largest steelmaker, ArcelorMittal, says it has begun evacuating some workers at its iron ore mines in Liberia.
Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia have already declared national emergencies over the spread of the virus.
WHO said on Friday that 68 new cases and 29 deaths were reported over the course of two days this week.
They included 26 new cases in Sierra Leone and 38 in Liberia, but no new cases in Guinea, where the outbreak began.
The agency said a co-ordinated response was essential to reverse the spread of the virus.
“The possible consequences of further international spread are particularly serious in view of the virulence of the virus,” WHO said after a meeting on Friday.
The Ebola virus was first discovered in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1976. Experts say this outbreak is unusual because it started in Guinea, which has never before been affected, and is spreading to urban areas.
Two US citizens infected with Ebola while working in West Africa are currently being treated at a hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. Both have been treated with an experimental drug.