The Islamist militant group Boko Haram has been active in north-eastern Nigeria for well over a decade.
President Buhari says its activities have been largely brought under control since he assumed office in 2015.
His political opponents disagree and say the situation has recently deteriorated both in terms of the number of attacks and kidnappings by the group.
Ahead of Nigeria’s elections on 16 February, BBC Reality Check examines the competing claims over the security situation in the country.
What is Boko Haram?
Formed around 2002 as a non-violent organisation with the aim of purifying Islam in northern Nigeria, it became increasingly radicalised and eventually adopted militant tactics in pursuit of its aims.
It has been active not only in Nigeria, but also in the neighbouring countries of Chad, Niger and Cameroon.
Tens of thousands of civilians have been killed and more than two million displaced over the past decade.
Boko Haram has been notorious for kidnapping schoolchildren and attracted global media attention in 2014 following the abduction of almost 300 girls from a school in the town of Chibok, in Borno, the state where the militant group has been most active.
Since then, territory controlled by the group has declined and it has splintered into competing factions.
However, the Islamist militants remain active in the region, defying attempts by the army to bring the insurgency to an end.
To underline this continued activity, in 2018 more than 100 schoolgirls were kidnapped from the northern town of Dapchi. Most of the girls were eventually released.
The competing claims
The former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, who is supporting main opposition candidate, Atiku Abubakar, has strongly criticised President Muhammadu Buhari’s record on tackling Boko Haram.
“The security situation has deteriorated, with kidnapping everywhere,” said Mr Obasanjo in January.
But President Buhari’s view of the security situation is very different. He says the militants have been “decimated” since 2015 in their stronghold of Borno State.
So what are the available facts regarding both attacks on civilians and on kidnappings?
Have attacks by Boko Haram declined?
Insecurity and poor communications in rural areas make assessment both for the government and independent organisations particularly difficult and many incidents go unreported.
The Nigerian government’s National Bureau of Statistics provides public access to economic, social and general security data gathered within Nigeria but a spokesman told BBC News it did not collect data on the activities of Boko Haram.
From a peak in 2015 of more than 5,000, the number of deaths attributed to Boko Haram has fallen off significantly to below 1,000 a year for the past three years.
This decline followed a military campaign launched against Boko Haram in 2015 by the Nigerian government, with international support.
Large areas of territory previously controlled by Boko Haram were recaptured during this offensive.
So, President Buhari is right to say killings by militants have declined substantially since he came to office in 2015.
But these attacks have not ended completely and there have been several in the early weeks of 2019.
“In terms of the current situation, I do think the current trend line is quite dangerous and that they are far from defeated,” says Alex Thurston, a visiting assistant professor of political science and comparative religion at Miami University of Ohio.
What about kidnappings?
The Nigeria Security Tracker, used by the Council of Foreign Relations (CFR), in Washington, monitors kidnappings through local media reports.
These indicate a peak in the number of kidnappings in 2014 and 2015, when Boko Haram was at its strongest militarily.
However, despite a dramatic fall in reported kidnappings in 2016, the level has risen since then, with 310 reported last year.
One theory put forward for this increase is that as Boko Haram has lost territory and military influence, its tactics have shifted away from direct confrontation with security forces.
Instead, the militants have turned their attention to soft targets such as schools and rural villages, taking hostages from these locations.
So, when Mr Obasanjo says “the security situation has deteriorated with kidnapping everywhere”, he’s right in the sense that the level of kidnapping is on the increase and that major incidents such as the kidnapping of more than 100 schoolgirls in Dapchi, in 2018, do give serious cause for concern.
This fear is particularly heightened given Boko Haram’s use of children as suicide bombers. In 2017 and 2018, there were 77 and 26 incidences respectively of children being used in this way by the militants. In 2016 this figure was nine, according to Unicef.
Are kidnappings ‘everywhere’?
Looking at the distribution of all kidnappings across Nigeria, this is clearly not the case, with Boko Haram operating largely in the far north-east of the country.
Kidnappings have also been regularly reported in the country’s oil-rich southern Niger Delta region – but these are unrelated to the activities of Boko Haram.
So, looking at the overall picture of kidnappings, not just by Boko Haram, you can see that the distribution is more geographically widespread – but it’s certainly not the case as Mr Obasanjo says that kidnappings have been taking place “everywhere” across the country.
Overall, the picture of Boko Haram activity in the north-east of Nigeria appears to be one of declining military activity.
But along with this has come a recent rise in kidnappings although it’s not clear whether this indicates a resurgence in the strength of the group or a re-focusing on softer targets.
People wave flags atop cars in traffic during a demonstration to voice support for the people of Palestine, at Toronto City Hall in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on 15 May 2021.
between pro-Israel and pro-Palestine protesters in Montreal was condemned by
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
city police force intervened and declared the protests illegal after tensions
heightened and clashes broke out.
strikes killed 42 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, the worst daily
toll in almost a week of clashes.
– Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sunday condemned the violence and
“despicable rhetoric” that marked several weekend protests throughout
the country, after clashes between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian protesters in
worst violence in years, sparked by unrest in Jerusalem, is raging between the
Jewish state and Islamist militants.
strikes killed 42 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, the worst daily
toll in almost a week of deadly clashes.
after protests in Montreal, Trudeau condemned what he said was “despicable
rhetoric and violence we saw on display in some protests this weekend”.
Everyone has the right to assemble peacefully and express themselves freely in Canada – but we cannot and will not tolerate antisemitism, Islamophobia, or hate of any kind. We strongly condemn the despicable rhetoric and violence we saw on display in some protests this weekend.
insisting on the “right to assemble peacefully and express themselves
freely in Canada”, Trudeau stressed in a tweet that there was no tolerance
for “antisemitism, Islamophobia, or hate of any kind”.
on Sunday, Montreal police used tear gas following clashes between pro-Israel
and pro-Palestinian protesters.
hundred demonstrators, draped in Israeli flags, had gathered in a central
Montreal square to express solidarity with the Jewish state.
‘Protesting is a right’
the protest started peacefully, tensions ratcheted up with the arrival of
pro-Palestinian demonstrators and clashes soon broke out.
SPVM, Montreal’s city police force, declared the protests illegal, and squads
of riot police intervened, using tear gas to separate and disperse the two
groups, according to an AFP journalist at the scene.
police spent much of the afternoon in pursuit of the pro-Palestinian
protesters, who spread out and regrouped in commercial streets in the city centre.
the clashes, Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante said on Twitter that
“protesting is a right”, but that “intolerance, violence and
anti-Semitism have no place here”.
Montreal is a city of peace.
thousand pro-Palestinian demonstrators had gathered on Saturday in central
Montreal to denounce what they said were Israeli repression and “war
crimes” in Gaza.
Israel”, some protesters chanted, while others held up a banner that read,
“Stop the genocide of Palestinian children”.
protests happened the same day in multiple Canadian cities, including Toronto,
Ottawa and Vancouver.
“A new app is offering you the chance to do just that.”
When writer Brandon Wong recently couldn’t decide what takeaway to order one evening, he asked his followers on social media app NewNew to choose for him. Those that wanted to get involved in the 24-year-old’s dinner dilemma paid $5 (£3.50) to vote in a poll, and the majority verdict was that he should go for Korean food, so that was what he bought…
NewNew is the brainchild of Los Angeles-based entrepreneur Courtne Smith. The app, which is still in its “beta” or pre-full release stage, describes itself as “a human stock market where you buy shares in the lives of real people, in order to control their decisions and watch the outcome”. For many of us that sounds a bit ominous, but the reality is actually far less alarming. It is aimed at what it calls “creators” — writers, painters, musicians, fashion designers, bloggers etc. It is designed as a way for them to connect far more closely with their fans or followers than on other social media services and, importantly, monetise that connection…
Whenever a vote is cast the creator gets the money minus NewNew’s undisclosed commission… In addition to voting, followers can also pay extra — from $20 — to ask a NewNew creator to do something of their choosing, such as naming a character in a book after them. But the creator can reject all of these “bids”, and if they do so then the follower doesn’t have to part with the money…
Co-founder and chief executive Ms Smith, a 33-year-old Canadian, has big plans for NewNew, and has some heavyweight backers. Investors include Peter Thiel, the billionaire co-founder of PayPal, and the first outside person to put money into Facebook. Others with a stake in the business include leading US tech investment fund Andreessen Horowitz, and Hollywood actor Will Smith (no relation to Courtne). Snapchat has also given technical support.
Saker was Australia’s bowling coach when Bancroft was caught trying to rough up the ball with sandpaper during the third Test against South Africa.
While refusing to be drawn on who knew what, Saker said “the finger-pointing is going to go on and on and on”.
“It’s like the underarm, it’s never going to go away,” he told Fairfax Media, referring to a 1981 incident when Trevor Chappell bowled underarm to ensure New Zealand lost a one-day match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
The notorious delivery is still cited in New Zealand and in cricketing circles as a prime example of unsporting conduct.
However, the ball-tampering scandal – dubbed “sandpapergate” – had a greater impact on Australian cricket, with the then-captain Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner suspended for a year from all cricket and stripped of their leadership roles.
Darren Lehmann also quit as coach and all the top brass from Cricket Australia left after a scathing review blasted their “arrogant and controlling” win-at-all-costs culture.
No one else among the team or coaching staff was held to account but Bancroft’s remarks in an interview with The Guardian newspaper hinted that the team’s bowlers at least knew about the plan.
“Obviously what I did benefits bowlers and the awareness around that, probably, is self-explanatory,” he said.
Saker added: “There was a lot of people to blame. It could have been me to blame, it could have been someone else. It could have been stopped and it wasn’t, which is unfortunate.
“Cameron’s a very nice guy. He’s just doing it to get something off his chest … He’s not going to be the last.”
In response, Cricket Australia said that if anyone had new information, they would look into it.
Saker said he was not opposed to a fresh investigation but added “I just don’t know what they’re going to find out.”
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Washington – Miss Mexico was crowned Miss Universe on Sunday in Florida, after fellow contestant Miss Myanmar used her stage time to draw attention to the bloody military coup in her country.
Sunday night marked the Miss Universe competition’s return to television, after the pageant was cancelled in 2020 for the first time due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Andrea Meza, 26, finished first ahead of the Brazilian and Peruvian finalists in a flashy televised event, hosted by American actor Mario Lopez and television personality Olivia Culpo.
Former Miss Universe contestants Cheslie Kryst, Paulina Vega and Demi-Leigh Tebow (who won the title in 2017) served as competition analysts and commentators, and a panel of eight women determined the winner.
Dressed in a sparkling red evening gown, Meza tearfully walked the catwalk as Miss Universe for the first time, before rushing back for a group hug with the other competitors.
Meza beat more than 70 contestants from around the globe in the 69th installment of Miss Universe, which was held at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.
In the days leading up to the final competition, Miss Myanmar Thuzar Wint Lwin, who made the top 21, made waves when she used her time in the spotlight to bring attention to the coup in her country.
“Our people are dying and being shot by the military every day,” she said during her biographical video, which showed photos of her taking part in the anti-coup protests. “Therefore I would like to urge everyone to speak out about Myanmar.”
She also won the award for best national costume: during that competition segment on Thursday, she wore an outfit beaded in traditional Burmese patterns and held up a sign that said, “Pray for Myanmar.”
Myanmar has been in uproar since February 1, when the army ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
At least 796 people have been killed by security forces since then, according to a local monitoring group, while nearly 4 000 people are behind bars.
Miss Singapore Bernadette Belle Ong – who did not make the top 21 – also used the national costume portion to make a political statement.
Dressed in a glittering red bodysuit and matching thigh-high boots, she turned around to reveal her cape – in the colours of the Singaporean flag – was painted with the words “Stop Asian Hate.”
“What is this platform for if I can’t use it to send a strong message of resistance against prejudice and violence?” she wrote on Instagram alongside pictures of her outfit.
The United States in particular has seen a surge in anti-Asian violence in the past year, which activists have blamed on former president Donald Trump’s rhetoric, especially his repeated description of Covid-19 as the “China virus.”
The pageant has also drawn criticism in the past for objectifying the contestants.
In recent years, the competition has shifted image, focusing more on female empowerment and activism.