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The Borno-born Lawyer who won the prestigious UNHCR Award


Zannah Mustapha, a lawyer, and mediator from Borno State recent;y won the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) Nansen Refugee Award.
Mustapha brokered a deal for the release of dozens of Chibok schoolgirls captured by Boko Haram.
The Nansen Refugee Award recognizes extraordinary humanitarian work on behalf of refugees, the internally displaced or stateless people.
The UNHCR announced the award on September 18.
The agency said Mustapha had been named the recipient of the prestigious award in recognition of his efforts to improve the lives of displaced children and widows disrupted by the insurgency in the North-East.
According to Jan Egeland, the Secretary-General of the Norwegian Refugee Council which co-manages the Nanson Refugee Award project, “The recognition of Zannah Mustapha’s brave work highlights the importance of education for the future of Nigeria.”
Future Prowess School
In 2007, Mustapha founded the Future Prowess Islamic Foundation School for orphans and vulnerable children in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State and the birthplace of Boko Haram.
The school currently provides free education to 540 students, half of whom are girls.

chibok girls
Some Released Chibok girls

Amid the growing demand for classroom seats, Mustapha in 2016 opened a second school near the other facility, which now hosts 88 pupils, all of whom have been forcefully displaced from their homes.
Mustapha and 48 volunteer teachers and staff members opened the schools’ doors each day, despite the ongoing conflict.
The schools are among the few functional primary education institutions in Maiduguri.
The students enrolled at Mustapha’s schools receive uniforms and healthcare services. Some are children and orphans of Boko Haram fighters, victims, and Nigerian soldiers.
“This is the place where every child matters, no matter what religion, background or culture,” Mustapha said
“Our aim is to make positive changes in their lives.”
Mustapha played a crucial role mediating in the past year between the Nigerian government and Boko Haram for the release of 103 girls and young women abducted from Chibok, Borno State, in April 2014.
The mediator, who grew up in Maiduguri alongside some of Boko Haram’s leadership, escorted 21 Chibok schoolgirls to freedom in October 2016.
Another 82 have been released with Mustapha’s assistance. Mustapha said he believes more Chibok schoolgirls will be freed soon.

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