Friday, May 20, 2022

Kidnappers Of Nigerian College Students Arrested One Year Later

The Nigerian police have arrested two men suspected of being behind the high-profile kidnapping of two dozen students in April 2021 in northwestern Nigeria, and the murder of five of them.

"They have both confessed to the abduction of the students from the University of Greenfield, Kaduna State, and the murder of five students before the payment of ransom and the release of the other students," police spokesman Olumuyiwa Adejobi said in a statement on Wednesday evening.

The two suspects, Aminu Lawal known as "Kano" and Murtala Dawu known as "Mugala", who was involved in several kidnapping cases, will be brought to justice at the end of the investigation, Adejobi said.

In April 2021, gunmen stormed Greenfield University in Kaduna, abducting about 20 students and killing a staff member.

A few days after the attack, the kidnappers executed five hostages to force the families and the authorities to pay a ransom, which was later obtained.

The remaining 14 students were released after 40 days in captivity.

Heavily armed criminal gangs, known as "bandits", have been increasing their attacks in north-western and central Nigeria, looting, kidnapping and killing many villagers.

Last year, the "bandits" particularly targeted schools and universities to kidnap students en masse for ransom from their parents and the authorities.

In all, about 1,500 students were abducted in 2021 by armed men, according to Unicef. While most of the young hostages have since been released for ransom, some still remain in captivity in the forests, where armed groups hide

By Africanews

 Related story: Video - Why are school children increasingly being kidnapped in Nigeria?

Relatives of Nigeria Train Attack Victims Oppose Resumption of Railway Service

Families of people kidnapped from a train in Nigeria's Kaduna state two months ago are protesting a decision by authorities to resume service on the railway next week.

Officials of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) said trains would begin running between the capital, Abuja, and Kaduna city again on Monday.

Relatives of kidnapped victims met Thursday morning to protest the planned resumption of train service on the Kaduna-Abuja line.

Authorities suspended service indefinitely on March 28, the day armed men blew up tracks in Kaduna and attacked a train. Nine people were killed during the attack and scores are still missing.

During Thursday's protest, the spokesperson of the group, Abdulfatai Jimoh, said at least 61 people were believed to be held captive, including Jimoh’s wife.

He said the government has been insensitive to the families’ plight.

"Our relatives kidnapped are still in captivity and we want them to be freed first before they can start thinking of that," he said. "We want the NRC management and the Ministry of Transportation to put adequate security measures in place to guarantee the safety of passengers before train services can resume. These are the minimum conditions we require from them."

Idahat Yusuf's two sisters, both in their 50s, are also among the abducted passengers. She does not understand why the NRC would restart train service.

"It's a national pain, it's not only the families' pain, so why would they choose to move on like that?” she asked.

The NRC said the decision to resume operations was not a sign of insensitivity to the situation and said efforts to have the captives released were continuing.

Security experts said negotiations have been deadlocked since the kidnappers demanded that authorities release members of their gang in exchange for the abductees.

Jimoh said the families have been given few details about the talks.

"We have information from government sources that discussions are ongoing with the abductors," he said. "We just don't know the extent or how far they have gone in these negotiations.”

The kidnappers have freed only three abductees, including a pregnant woman who told local news organizations that she was freed out of pity.

Northern Nigeria has seen a wave of kidnappings for ransom over the past 18 months.

This week, police arrested 31 people on charges of abducting students from a school in Kaduna state last year. Authorities also recovered 61 firearms, 376 rounds of ammunition, 22 cartridges and $5,000 cash.

By Timothy Obiezu


Related story: Video - Rail staff killed in ‘unprecedented’ attack on train in Nigeria

Nnamdi Kanu: Nigerian separatist allowed to watch Liverpool games on TV

 A Nigerian separatist in detention on treason charges has been allowed by a judge to watch the matches of his favourite team, Liverpool, on TV.

Nnamdi Kanu, who denies the charges, leads the banned Indigenous People of Biafra (Ipob) group.

In detention since last year, his privileges have not extended to watching whole football matches live.

But thanks to the judge, a fellow Liverpool fan, Mr Kanu can now view the climax to a possibly historic season.

Having already bagged the Carabao Cup and the FA Cup, Liverpool are just two matches away from winning the English Premier League title and the European Champions League.

Bizarrely, the change in fortunes for Mr Kanu did not come at his request and resulted from the discovery that Mr Kanu, his lawyer and the judge were all Liverpool fans.

He was in court on Wednesday for a hearing on a bail application following his arrest last year for campaigning for the independence of south-east Nigeria, which he refers to as Biafra.

The bail application was refused but during the discussions about whether he should be granted bail, Justice Binta Nyako complained that Mr Kanu had disobeyed a previous order that he stop appearing in court wearing clothes from the Italian luxury brand Fendi, when he had other options.

She may have been referring to a tweet in which Mr Kanu was seen in an Atletico Madrid tracksuit during a visit by Charles Soludo, the Anambra state governor.

The judge, then joked that she was a Liverpool supporter and asked Mr Kanu's lawyer, Mike Ozekhome if he was also a fan of the football club. The lawyer said: "Yes."

Mrs Nyako then turned to Mr Kanu in the dock. "What is your team?" she asked.

"My team is Liverpool even from age of seven," Mr Kanu, standing upright in the dock, responded.

The judge then ordered the prison representative to allow Mr Kanu to watch next week's Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool and any other match of his favourite football club.

"You must allow the defendant to watch the matches any day they are playing," she said, adding that she was going to make an order to that effect.

Mr Kanu may now be able to sit down and watch Liverpool's last Premier League match on Sunday, but whether that will be an enjoyable experience is another matter.

Manchester City are currently one point ahead of Liverpool in the title race and are favourites to retain the trophy.


Related story: Nigerian separatist Nnamdi Kanu's Facebook account removed for hate speech

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Video - Nigerians turn to charcoal as cooking gas prices soar


Fuel prices have tripled in less than a year, forcing many people to use firewood to cook their meals. Officials hoping to increase the use of cooking gas say expanding liquefied petroleum gas would save millions of trees and the environment. But the rising prices threaten that objective. Nigeria’s state oil company blames the rising costs on global price increases. But with the country still importing most of its gas, users are bracing for more price hikes. Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Idris reports from Kano, Nigeria.

Nigeria Becoming Destination for Africa’s Promising Tech Startups

In February, the Nigerian technology startup CrowdForce announced a big break: It had received $3.6 million from investors to expand its financial services operations to many more underserved communities.

Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Tomi Ayorinde said new funding will boost its mobile agent network from 7,000 to 21,000 this year.

"We were looking to scale faster and really gain market share," Ayorinde said. "And what we're doing is also very impact-related because we're creating jobs, avenues for people to make extra income in their communities. So, it was also very interesting for impact investors to be part of what we're trying to do."

When Ayorinde helped launch CrowdForce seven years ago, he intended it to be a data collection company. But after about two years, the company overhauled its business model when Ayorinde realized it could fill a need for bank accounts.

"When we collected data of 4.5 million traders what we saw was, a lot of them didn't have bank accounts and the ones that have bank accounts had a very tough time accessing the cash that was sent to them," said Ayorinde."That's when we kind of realized that there's a bigger problem to solve here.”

Experts say about 60% of Africa's 1.2 billion people lack access to banks or financial services. Technology startups in Africa are trying to fix that, said the African Private Equity and Venture Capital Association known as AVCA.

In a recent report, the industry group said African startups attracted $5.2 billion in venture capital last year, and that West Africa – led by Nigeria – accounted for the largest share of investments.

AVCA research manager Alexia Alexandropoulou said investors are looking to tap into Africa's huge population of young people.

"Africa is the world's most youthful population, so as the proportion of skilled labor increases, then the result will be more human capital in order to power African businesses and also the industrial development within the continent," said Alexandropoulou.

AVCA's report also cites increased internet penetration in Africa and more favorable government policies as contributing to increased investments in financial technology services knwoFintech.

But Fintech Digital Marketing Expert Louis Dike said there are obstacles to overcome, such as weak currencies and policies.

"Africa is not a perfect place because it's still made up of virgin markets," said Dike. "The standard of living is quite low, our regulations are not consistent, today the government will say this and tomorrow they will change the law and restrict some startup activities."

But with new talents emerging in technology, more startups with big dreams are emerging in Nigeria and elsewhere in Africa.

Timothy Obiezu