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French aid group in NE Nigeria group says staff ‘never armed’ after suspension

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FILE PHOTO: Marie-Pierre Caley, co-founder and CEO of ACTED pauses during a news conference at the NGO headquarters in Paris, France, August 10, 2020. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo

French humanitarian organisation Acted, whose activities in northeastern Nigeria have been suspended by authorities, on Sunday said none of its staff carried weapons.

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Borno State Governor Babagana Umara Zulum ordered the suspension of the group’s work on Saturday after residents near a hotel in the regional capital Maiduguri reported the sound of gunfire.

Authorities said that Acted trainers had been using toy guns to train people to shoot.

But in a statement on Sunday Acted said it ensured the safety of its team in a region in the grip of a 12-year jihadist insurgency through the use of “training and simulation exercises”.

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The NGO described the exercises as “standard” practice for organisations working in both Nigeria and other countries and said staff did not carry weapons at any time, including during exercises.

It stressed that the training sessions were aimed at preparing staff for potential security incidents and carried out in “close collaboration” with the authorities and “full transparency”.

Since the start of the insurgency by radical Islamist group Boko Haram in 2009 in northeast Nigeria, nearly 40,000 people have died and two million been displaced.

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ActedBabagana Umara Zulum
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