Thursday, December 3, 2020

Nigerian 'baby factory' where men were hired to impregnate women before the newborns were sold is busted with ten victims rescued including four bearing children

A Nigerian 'baby factory' where men were hired to impregnate woman before their newborns were sold was raided by police on Tuesday, with ten victims rescued.

Police rescued four children and six woman - four of whom were pregnant - from the illegal maternity home, a spokesman said on Wednesday.

The operation was being carried out at a so-called 'baby factory' in the southwestern Ogun state by a woman already standing trial for human trafficking.

'Acting on a tip-off, our men stormed the illegal maternity home and rescued 10 people, including four kids and six women, four of whom are pregnant,' police spokesman Abimbola Oyeyemi told AFP news agency.

He said the women told police that the owner hired men to impregnate them and then sell the newborns for profit.

The 'factories' are usually small illegal facilities parading as private medical clinics that house pregnant women and offer their babies for sale.

In some cases, young women have been held against their will and raped before their babies are sold on the black market

Oyeyemi said two suspects, a physically-challenged man and the daughter of the owner of the clinic, were arrested in the raid.

'The operator of the centre is on the run but we are intensifying efforts to arrest her and bring her to justice,' he said.

Oyeyemi said the operator had been previously arrested for the same offence.

'She had been standing trial for human trafficking after her arrest early this year but she was on bail when she went back to her usual business.'

Police raids on illegal maternity units are relatively common in Nigeria, especially in the south.

Last year, nineteen pregnant women - aged between 15 and 28 - and four children were rescued from another suspected baby factory in Nigeria.

Investigators said at the time that the children were going to be trafficked and sold for £1,000 for a boy and £700 for a girl.

A majority of the women were tricked into leaving their home villages with promises of domestic work in Lagos before being forced into pregnancy, police said, while a few of the women joined the syndicate voluntarily believing they would be paid.

They never were, according to reports last year.

By Chris Jewers FOR MAILONLINE and AFP

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Wednesday, December 2, 2020

39 kidnapped victims rescued in north Nigeria

At least 39 people kidnapped early Monday by gunmen in Nigeria's northern state of Kaduna have regained their freedom later in the day, an official said.

The kidnapped victims were rescued hours later by Nigerian troops during a gun duel with the gunmen along the busy Abuja-Kaduna expressway, and one of the gunmen was killed, said Samuel Aruwan, a commissioner for Kaduna state ministry of internal security and home affairs, in a statement reaching Xinhua on Tuesday.

They were passengers travelling to Onitsha, a business district in the southeastern state of Anambra from northwest state of Sokoto when they were intercepted and kidnapped by the gunmen, said Aruwan.

He said one civilian died after being hit by a stray bullet fired by the criminals while troops evacuated the other injured person to a nearby hospital for treatment.

Aruwan said the troops were still trailing other fleeing bandits to areas said to be their enclave.

The northern region of Nigeria have witnessed a series of attacks by armed groups in recent months. There have also been recurring incidents of livestock rustling and armed banditry in the region.


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Nigerian Authorities Worry as Citizens Flout Coronavirus Rules

In Nigeria, authorities are worried that coronavirus infections may spike again, as millions ignore safety measures such as wearing face masks and social distancing. A jump in infections could force another lockdown, hurting the economy.

Nigerian butcher Martin Olaiya, 45, strongly strikes the blades of his cutting knives against the other in order to attract the attention of customers.

It has been months since the coronavirus pandemic lockdown was lifted and this Utako market in Abuja is again operating at full capacity.

But among many concerns of business owners like Olaiya, the coronavirus pandemic is the least of them.

"Market is really bad," he tells VOA. "We don't know what the coronavirus is; we haven't seen it. There's nothing that concerns Nigeria with that. God will not allow it."

Many traders like Olaiya continue to doubt the coronavirus ever existed, and therefore are flouting safety rules.

Abuja resident Dorothy Iwuozo, who's shopping for groceries, is one of very few people wearing a face mask.

She says she's not happy that others are not taking responsibility.

"Look around you; you can count a number of people wearing face masks, people are touching meat, food stuff; they don't sanitize their hands," she complains.

Nigeria has recorded more than 67,400 cases of the coronavirus since its first one in February.

The Nigeria Center for Disease Control says the country reached its peak infections between July and August, and then recorded a downward trend.

But officials say coronavirus infections began rising again in November, as many countries began battling a second wave of the infection.

Chinwe Ochu, a director at the NCDC, worries that citizens, especially younger people, have stopped being vigilant.

"Males aged above 21 years and less than 50 years are more likely not to adhere to COVID-19 prevention protocols because they're usually the ones that don't have the severe symptoms," Ochu told VOA. "But these are likely to have the disease and transmit it to the vulnerable elderly groups or people with comorbidities who could die from it.”

COVID-19 is the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Experts attribute the new rise in cases to the “End SARS” protests last month, which saw thousands of young Nigerians march against police brutality.

The use and sales of personal protective equipment have also dropped significantly.

Nigerian authorities are trying to avoid imposing strict lockdowns by urging citizens to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines.

President Mohammadu Buhari has warned the country's already fragile economy may not withstand another lockdown. Economics lecturer Anas Ibrahim agrees with the president.

"About 60 to 65 percent of the 46 sectors of in Nigeria now they're actually declined, they're not performing, they're not actually lucrative to boost the economy in order to create more job opportunities and a lot of revenue to the government," Ibrahim says.  

Last week, Nigeria's bureau of statistics announced the country had plunged into a recession after its economy contracted by 3.6 percent due to coronavirus disruptions.

Authorities say they are hopeful that the economy will begin to recover early next year but that citizens must act responsibly. 


By Timothy Obiezu

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Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Nigerian electricity commission busy restoring power after grid collapses on Sunday

Nigeria’s national electricity grid collapsed on Sunday, the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) said in a statement.

Power outages in Nigeria, the most-populous nation in Africa, are common, but a system collapse is unusual.

TCN said it would conduct investigations to establish what caused the “multiple trippings” as soon as the grid was fully restored.

The nation’s power grid, along with the resulting precarious energy supply, is a key issue hindering growth in the continent’s largest economy.

Nigeria recently implemented its first power tariff increase in state-controlled prices since 2015. That doubled prices for some consumers, but the government and industry said it was needed to allow distribution companies to recoup costs and pay generating companies.


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Nigerian Comics Serve Afrofuturism Direct From The Source

The massive success of Marvel’s Black Panther in 2018 opened a lot of eyes to the creative and commercial potential of Afrofuturism – science fiction rooted in Black cultural experience and Black storytelling styles. That influence didn’t end at the water’s edge: it echoed back its ancestral homelands, inspiring new efforts to bring homegrown African visions to a global audience primed for exciting new content.

Several interesting new digital comics efforts spring from Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, entertainment hub (“Nollywood” is the world’s third largest film industry) and a hotbed of scrappy entrepreneurship. Because Nigeria can be a difficult market to penetrate for outsiders, much of the energy is coming from local startups who leapfrog legacy production and distribution methods, creating digital content for mobile phones favored by the young population.

Ayudeji Makinde is founder/CEO of ComicsDI, a startup digital comics company producing several episodic webcomics in various genres including a thriller, Lagelu: The Kingdom on Four Hills, Duro, featuring a mythical hero, and a pair of science fiction stories, The Futurology and Njeri. He says the industry has grown tremendously in the past 20 years, with publishers springing up as the global footprint of comics culture has expanded into Africa through events like the annual Lagos Comic Convention.

“I go to Lagos Comic Con every year,” says Makinde. “There are so many comic brands, it’s excellent.”

He believes the increasing global popularity of Afrofuturism is giving a boost to indigenous creators steeped in the cultures of the continent. “African Afrofuturism has the same attitudes and principles [as diaspora styles],” he says. “It’s a combination of fantasy and culture, looking to the future of African people. Coming from here, our understanding of the culture differs. We can craft it from our angle, in our unique voice.”

“We believe African comics and fiction stands as the future of global storytelling in mainstream media,” says Somto Ajuluchukwu, Founder and CEO of Vortex247, another Nigerian digital comics publisher and marketplace specializing in mythic fantasy (Land of the Gods), horror/mystery (Folk Tales), and superhero comics (Captain South Africa) from around the continent.

“We hope to be a propelling force and platform for this new age of entertainment content and create not just opportunity for individual creators with exceptional comics but a market place which would build an industry for young creators to monetize their stories and grow a fan base using our comics as a tool to export African culture and globalize our Afro lifestyle,” says Ajuluchukwu.

Like their counterparts in the US and around the world, Nigerian comic publishers have one eye on advancing their own medium with gorgeously-drawn, well-told stories and memorable characters, and one eye on the wider media potential of comics. The proximity to one of Africa’s biggest film production hubs helps, although many Nollywood feature films lean heavily on drama, action and practical effects without the big budgets that propel Hollywood blockbusters.

“We are currently in conversation with a few Nollywood and South African producers towards some adaptations, however most are still in the development stage for TV,” said Ajuluchukwu. “We also recently made a successful pitch to a mobile game studio based in Italy which would be adapting one of our VX Originals for an IOS mobile game.”

With animation becoming a growth industry around the continent, some properties are getting picked up for development as series or features. A highlight of the 2019 Lagos Comic Convention was an animated trailer for Malika: Warrior Queen - a popular graphic novel by Roye Okupe - from Lagos-based Anthill Studios.

For now, the biggest issues have to do with finance and infrastructure. Nigeria remains a rugged place to do business, although increased access to global online finance and distribution platforms is starting to help local creators and companies reach a broader audience.

“We have the skill, we have the creativity,” says Makinde. “Things are dragging because of financial issues, but creativity? The creativity is there.”

By Rob Salkowitz


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