1:57 pm - Friday December 15, 2017

PASSION FOR A UNITED, PEACEFUL NIGERIA: NIGERIAN Lawyer, ZANNAH MUSTAPHA Secures Release of over 100 CHIBOK Girls, Receive UNITED NATIONS TOP AWARD…Given the annual Nansen Honor for ‘crucial-mediating’ role, work in helping children affected by the long-running conflict *2016 United Nations’ Recipients were 2,000 Volunteers that saved the lives of thousands of migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe * “I look forward to being a worthy ambassador, for such a noble award”-50 year old Nigerian UN Award winner BY GEORGE ELIJAH OTUMU/FOREIGN BUREAU CHIEF/UNITED STATES

PASSION FOR A UNITED, PEACEFUL NIGERIA:

NIGERIAN Lawyer, ZANNAH MUSTAPHA Secures Release of over 100 CHIBOK Girls, Receive UNITED NATIONS TOP AWARD…Given the annual Nansen Honor for ‘crucial-mediating’ role, work in helping children affected by the long-running conflict

*2016 United Nations’ Recipients were 2,000 Volunteers that saved the lives of thousands of migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe
* “I look forward to being a worthy ambassador, for such a noble award”-50 year old Nigerian UN Award winner

BY GEORGE ELIJAH OTUMU/FOREIGN BUREAU CHIEF/UNITED STATES

ZANNAH MUSTAPHA IS A LAWYER, very famous in Northern Nigeria for his passion for humanity. A noble man, devoid of any scandal in his legal career and outside his law practice. He legally fought tirelessly and put his life in danger to ensure the free release of Chibok Girls earlier kidnapped by the dreaded Boko Haram terrorist group in Nigeria.

As a Negotiator for the release of the Chibok Girls, he put the love of Nigeria and safety of the defenseless kidnapped Chibok girls ahead of his own interest, even at the risk of his life. This Nigerian lawyer helped secure the release of more than 100 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram in Maiduguri, Borno State was on Monday awarded one of the United Nations’ top prizes.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said the lawyer, Zannah Mustapha was given the annual Nansen award for his “crucial mediating” role as well as his work helping children affected by the long-running conflict.

Last year’s recipients of the award were more than 2,000 volunteers who saved the lives of thousands of migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe.

In his late-50s, Mustapha said the award was unexpected but he was “exceedingly happy” to have been chosen, “I look forward to being a worthy ambassador, for such a noble award,” he reportedly said.

For the records, Mustapha set up ‘The Future Prowess Islamic Foundation School’ 10 years ago, which has since proved a lifeline for children in conflict-riven and impoverished northeast Nigeria. The primary school has grown from having just 36 children and a single classroom to 540 pupils — more than half of them girls — and four times as many on the waiting list.

Just last year, a second school was opened near the first in the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, providing free education to 88 pupils displaced from their homes by the violence. Students also include the children of Boko Haram fighters and Nigerian soldiers.

For UNHCR: “This is the place where every child matters, no matter what their religion, background or culture. Our aim is to make positive changes in their lives.”

Mustapha is a well-known figure in northeast Nigeria having previously represented the family of Mohammed Yusuf, the founder of Boko Haram who died in police custody in 2009.

The lawyer has previously been involved in peace talks with the group, whose insurgency has left at least 20,000 dead and displaced more than 2.6 million in the last eight years. A total of 106 of the Chibok girls have been released, found or escaped.

Mustapha reportedly said when a deal was first reached it was “the highest point” in his life and said that being from the region, the kidnappings, which brought global attention on the Boko Haram conflict, were as if his own daughter had been taken.

Zannah was also circumspect about the fate of the remaining schoolgirls, confirming only that talks were ongoing and he was involved. He assured that he is “100 percent hopeful” that they would be released and that the insurgency will come to an end.

His words: “After so much violence, everybody in my state is yearning to have peace. We want to have transformation of the whole process to end and we are working towards that.”

 

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