Nigerian musician Asa talks to CNN about her passion for her homeland.
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The Senate yesterday outlawed same-sex marriage in the country by passing into law the bill prohibiting the practice with offenders subject to 14 year jail term on conviction.
This follows the third reading of the bill for an Act to prohibit the marriage or civil union entered into between persons of the same sex and the solemnisation of same marriages.
Unanimously passing the bill into law, the Senate while invalidating the marriage entered into in the country by persons of the same-sex, also voided same-sex marriages contracted abroad in Nigeria.
Reacting to the passage of the bill, former transport minister, Chief Ebenezer Babatope congratulated the senate for doing a very good job, saying that same-sex relationship is alien to the country.
'That the bill they have passed is in accordance with the wishes of a resounding majority of the Nigerian people. It is not good for a country to get involved in such moral degeneracy as same-sex relationship.
Gay is very alien to the African culture. One should congratulate the senate for doing a great job.
Similarly, Second Republic governor of Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, said the passage of the anti-same sex bill is proper, arguing that the Nigerian Constitution and the Nigerian laws are not secular.
'90 per cent of Nigerians are either Christians or Muslims. Remember too that the Nigerian Constitution says that Nigerians are under God,' Musa said.
The Senate, therefore, prescribed a 14-year-jail term for persons who enter into same-sex marriages, and said it is an offence to register gay clubs, societies and organisations with offenders liable to 10 years imprisonment on conviction.
Also, a 10-year-jail term awaits any person or group of persons that witness, abets and aids the solemnisation of same-sex marriage and supports the registration as well as operation of gay clubs and societies.
The senate further said the marriage entered into between persons of the same sex shall not be solemnised by any religious body and in any other place in the country.
It added that no certificate issued to persons of same-sex marriage shall be valid in the country, saying that only marriages contracted between a man and a woman either under Islamic law, customary law or the Marriage Act is valid.
The law further prohibits the public show of amorous relationship directly or indirectly and empowered state high courts to prosecute offenders.
Speaking on the importance of the legislation, Senate President David Mark described the controversy generated by the bill as unnecessary.
He said same-sex marriage is 'against our culture, traditions and beliefs.'
Senator Umaru Dahiru while presenting the report of the joint committee that handled the bill, said 'Nigeria cannot afford to sit idly by and allow our cultural heritage to be eroded by this foreign practice that is alien to our cultural values, traditional norms and religious beliefs.'
Related stories: Britain won't accept Nigeria's anti-gay law
Despite campaigns to stop HIV transmission, more than 70,000 thousand newborn children still contract the virus from their mothers through delivery.
Director-general of National Agency for Control of AIDS (NACA), Prof John Idoko, has attributed the problem to mothers not being able to seek proper intervention to stop the virus from passing onto their children at birth.
Of an estimated 210,000 children born with the virus, at least one-third of the cases occur in Nigeria, a situation Idoko described as "unacceptable."
At a press briefing commemorating World Aids Day 2011, themed Getting to Zero, Idoko said Nigeria must do the same as other countries that have successfully interrupted transmission of the virus from mothers to children.
He added that the technology and intervention for Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission is quite available and operational in the country but was being practised in only 500 centres which was grossly inadequate to cater for the needs of most pregnant women.
NACA dedicated the day to Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission.
"While we have noticed a reduction in HIV prevalence in Nigeria, the high rate in some states is still a source of concern to national HIV response," Idoko said.
"We will try to make testing available for every pregnant woman because it is not acceptable that 60,000 to 70,000 children are born HIV positive annually.
"More women [about 1.72 million] than men are living with HIV in Nigeria as a result of inequity in the social, political and economic status of women in Africa in general and in Nigeria in particular."
He also stated that the agency had established a national call centre for HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases in Nigeria.
When fully operational, subscribers from any network would be able to assess it using mobile service telecoms provider.
The call centre is in its final stages of establishment, said Idoko, adding that it has been granted use of an off-net shortcode 6222 for its operations.
He explained: "This means that when the national call center is commissioned, subscribers from any network will be able to access the call center using the "off-net" short code from any mobile telecoms service provider."
Related stories: Nigeria's HIV Prevalence Rate Drops to 4.1 Percent
Nigeria’s Senate voted Tuesday to criminalize gay marriage, instituting prison terms of more than a decade for violations in a nation where gays and lesbians already face discrimination and abuse.
The bill heads to Nigeria’s House of Representatives, who have to approve the bill and send it to President Goodluck Jonathan for his signature before it becomes a law. However, public opinion — and lawmakers’ calls for even harsher penalties for being gay — shows wide support for the measure in the deeply religious nation.
“Such elements in society should be killed,” Sen. Baba Dati said during the debate.
Under the measure, couples who marry could face up to 14 years in jail, and witnesses or anyone who helps couples marry could be sentenced to 10 years behind bars. That’s an increase over the bill’s initial penalties.
Homosexuality is already technically illegal in Nigeria, a country evenly divided between Christians and Muslims that is nearly universally opposed to homosexuality. In the areas in Nigeria’s north where Islamic Shariah law has been enforced for about a decade, gays and lesbians can face death by stoning.
Across the African continent, many countries have made homosexuality punishable by jail sentences. Ugandan legislators introduced a bill that would impose the death penalty for some gays and lesbians, though it has not been passed into law two years later. Even in South Africa, the one country where gays can marry, lesbians have been brutally attacked and murdered.
The proposed law also has drawn the interest of European Union countries, some of which already offer Nigeria’s sexual minorities asylum based on gender identity. The British government also recently threatened to cut aid to African countries that violate the rights of gay and lesbian citizens. However, British aid remains quite small in oil-rich Nigeria, one of the top crude suppliers to the U.S.
International opinion also didn’t seem to trouble lawmakers. During the debate, televised live from National Assembly in Nigeria’s capital Abuja, Senate President David Mark said Nigeria would not bow to international pressure on any legislation.
“Anybody can write to us, but our values are our values,” Mark said. “No country has a right to interfere in the way we make our laws.”
Related stories: Britain won't accept Nigeria's anti-gay law
Two men of God were over the weekend allegedly lured to patronise prostitutes at a popular brothel at Cable Point, Asaba, the Delta State capital, when they went there to preach to the ladies of easy virtue.
LEADERSHIP learnt that the pastors from a very popular church along Ibusa Road in the state had visited the area to convert and win over the sex workers to their church, but they were themselves seduced by the prostitutes who had sex with them and later burnt their Bibles and clothes.
Sources said the men of God (names withheld) had resolved in one of their meetings to win many converts, especially the prostitutes who stay in brothels, in order for them to grow their church's membership.
Cable Point is a notorious stop-over for hoodlums and has the largest number of brothels and casinos in the southern region.
An eyewitness said that preachers had gained audience with the prostitutes but after a period of time they were disoriented by the sudden display of breasts and other revealing body parts which reportedly hypnotized the preachers. Their hosts then took them into their rooms where they were said to have performed 'quickies.'
LEADERSHIP learnt that a fight broke out when the evangelists regained their composure and insisted on not paying the prostitutes, arguing that that was not their original mission. During the scuffle, they ladies reportedly burnt the pastors' Bibles and clothes.
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Odumegwu Ojukwu, an Oxford-educated Nigerian colonel who proclaimed the Republic of Biafra in 1967 and led his Ibo people into a secessionist war that cost more than a million lives, many of them starved children whose skeletal images shocked the world, has died at a hospital in London. He was 78.
International news reports quoted Maja Umeh, a spokesman for the All Progressive Grand Alliance Party in Nigeria, as confirming Mr. Ojukwu’s death. The Associated Press said he died on Saturday, but Bloomberg News said the death occurred on Friday. The cause was not cited. Mr. Ojukwu had a stroke at his home in Enugu, Nigeria, in December 2010, and had since been under treatment in London.
Mr. Ojukwu was an unlikely militarist and a reluctant rebel: the sports-car-driving son of one of Nigeria’s richest men, an urbane student of history and Shakespeare who read voraciously, wrote poetry, played tennis and, with his wealth and connections, might have been a business mogul or a worldly rouge-et-noir playboy.
But he spurned his father’s offer of a business partnership, joined Nigeria’s civil service and then its army in the turbulent last years of British colonial rule. And as maps of Africa were redrawn by forces of national and tribal self-determination, he became military governor of the Ibo homeland, one of three tribal regions, at a historic juncture.
At 33, he found himself at the vortex of simmering ethnic rivalries among Nigeria’s Hausas in the north, Yorubas in the southwest and Ibos in the southeast. The largely Christian Ibos were envied as one of Africa’s best-educated and most industrious peoples, possessed of much of Nigeria’s oil wealth. Tensions finally exploded into assassinations, coups and a massacre of 30,000 Ibos by Hausas and federal troops.
While he denounced the massacre and cited other Ibo grievances, Colonel Ojukwu for months resisted rising Ibo pressure for secession. He proposed a weak federation to separate Nigeria’s three tribal regions politically. But Col. Yakubu Gowon, leader of the military government in Lagos, rejected the idea. A clash over federal taxation of the Ibo region’s oil and coal industries precipitated the final break.
“Long live the Republic of Biafra,” Colonel Ojukwu proclaimed on May 30, 1967.
Five weeks later, civil war began when Nigerian military forces invaded the breakaway province. It was a lopsided war, with other nations supporting federal forces seeking to unify the country and Biafra standing virtually alone. Nigeria was Africa’s most populous nation, with 57 million people, of which 8 million to 10 million were Ibos.
Poorly equipped and outnumbered four to one, Biafra’s 25,000-member army held its own for months, supported by a citizenry that donated food, clothing and supplies. Colonel Ojukwu ran Biafra as a wartime democracy, fought alongside his troops and was said to be revered by his people.
He gave orders in a slow, deliberate baritone: native Igbo with an Oxford accent. Fond of Sibelius, he chose “Finlandia” as Biafra’s national anthem. And he read Shakespeare. “Hamlet was my favorite,” he told a New York Times correspondent. “I wonder what the psychiatrists will make of that.”
Over a battle map he looked like a brooding Othello, with solemn eyes and a luxuriantly bearded countenance. He slept irregularly, sometimes working nonstop for days, taking a meal now and then, rarely touching alcohol but chain-smoking English cigarettes.
Tanzania, Zambia, the Ivory Coast and Gabon recognized Biafra, and France and other nations provided covert aid. But the Soviet Union, Egypt and even Britain, after a period of neutrality, supplied weapons and advisers to Nigeria. The United States, officially neutral, provided diplomatic and relief coordination aid. But after 15 months of war, Biafra’s 29,000 square miles had been reduced to 5,000, and deaths had soared.
As crops burned and refugees streamed away from advancing federal forces, much of the population was cut off from food supplies. As the 30-month civil war moved onto the world stage as one of the first televised wars, millions around the globe were stunned by pictures of Biafran babies with distended bellies and skeletal children who were succumbing to famine by the thousands daily in the war’s final stages.
Colonel Ojukwu appealed to the world to save his people. International relief agencies responded, and scores of cargo planes ferried food in to the encircled Biafrans, but airlifts were woefully inadequate. Deaths from starvation were estimated at more than 6,000 a day, and postwar studies suggested that a third of Biafra’s surviving preschoolers — nearly 500,000 — were malnourished at war’s end.
In January 1970, secessionist resistance was crushed and its leader, by then a general, fled into exile in Ivory Coast and London. Granted a presidential pardon after 13 years, he returned to Nigeria in 1982 and was welcomed by enormous crowds. He became a Lagos businessman and ran unsuccessfully for president several times, but remained a hero in the eyes of many of his countrymen.
The legacies of the war were terrible. Deaths from fighting, disease and starvation were estimated by international relief agencies at one million to three million. Besides widespread destruction of hospitals, schools, homes and businesses, Ibos faced discrimination in employment, housing and political rights. Nigeria reabsorbed Biafra, however, and the region was rebuilt over 20 years as its oil-based economy prospered anew.
Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu (pronounced chuk-woo-MA-ka oh-doo-MAG-woo oh-JU-kwoo) was born on Nov. 4, 1933, in Zungeru, Nigeria. From modest beginnings, his father, Sir Louis Phillipe Odumegwu Ojukwu, had made fortunes in transportation and real estate, and was Nigeria’s wealthiest entrepreneur when he died in 1966.
The boy nicknamed Emeka attended Kings College in Lagos, Nigeria’s most prestigious secondary school; Epson College, a boys’ prep school in Surrey, and Lincoln College, Oxford, where he graduated with honors in history in 1955. Classmates said he was popular, dressed stylishly, drove a bright red MG sports car and loved discussions of Machiavelli, Hobbes, Louis XIV and Shakespeare.
He had three wives. His first, Njideka, a law student he met at Oxford and wed in 1962, died in 2010. His second, Stella Onyeador, died in 2009. He married Bianca Odinaka Onoh, a former beauty queen and businesswoman 34 years his junior, in 1994. Returning to Nigeria in 1956, he rejected his father’s business overtures, worked on development in remote villages, and in 1957 joined the army. He called himself an amateur soldier, but rose rapidly in the ranks after Nigeria gained independence in 1960. In 1966, he became military governor of the Ibo region, and declared Biafran independence after repression enveloped his people.
He sometimes compared Biafrans to Israelis. “The Israelis are hard-working, enterprising people,” he told a visitor to his besieged field headquarters in 1969. “So are we. They’ve suffered from pogroms. So have we. In many ways, we share the same promise and the same problems.”
China has the largest risk of corruption across all industries according to a new report. A US firm has compiled data from global corruption cases under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The act covers foreign companies listed in the US or US companies trading overseas.
China poses the broadest corruption risk across all sectors of any country in the world, according to a new report.
US investigative firm James Mintz Group has complied a report on corruption across the world. It lists penalties that have been paid in bribery cases under the United States' Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by US companies operating overseas or overseas companies listed in the US. The data is presented in an interactive map.
While Nigeria is the country where the highest amount of penalties for bribery have been paid since the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act was introduced in 1977, these cases were mostly limited to the oil industry. Data for China showed penalties for corruption paid across all sectors of the industry—the broadest range of corruption cases in the world.
Here's a link to the interactive map that shows the corruption index.
Related stories: Nigeria ranked 130th in 2009 Corruption Perceptions Index survey
President Goodluck Jonathan has relieved the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Chairman, Farida Waziri, of her appointment and replaced her with Director of Operations during the era of Malam Nuhu Ribadu, Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde
Lamorde, according to a statement from the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, will remain in acting capacity pending confirmation by the Senate.
The Statement also said that by the appointment of Lamorde which takes immediate effect, Waziri is effectively relieved of her appointment. No reason was given for the change.
"President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has approved the appointment of Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde as the Acting Chairman/Chief Executive of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
"The appointment takes immediate effect, and effectively relieves Mrs. Farida Waziri of her position as EFCC Chairman. Mrs. Waziri was appointed EFCC Chairman by Late President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua on May 18, 2008 and confirmed by the Senate on May 27, 2008.
"Mr. Lamorde, an officer of the Nigeria Police, was, until this appointment the Director of Operations of the EFCC. He was also Ag. Chairman of the EFCC before Mrs. Waziri assumed duty at the Commission", the three paragraph statement said.
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A 12- man armed robbery gang has invaded Diamond Bank Plc along Oyemekun Road, Akure, the capital of Ondo State, killing no fewer than 15 customers of the bank.
LEADERSHIP also gathered that the robbers arrived the bank at about 1 PM yesterday afternoon and started shooting sporadically for about two hours in order to scare away security details and customers around the bank.
Information has it that it took the bandits quite some time before they could gain access into the bank as a result of a fierce confrontation with the men of the Ondo State police command who were passing around the area at the time of the incident. The gun battle lasted for about 25 minutes.
During the exchange, 15 customers of the bank were shot dead by the rampaging robbers, while the police was able to arrest three out of the 12 bandits.
It was unclear as at the time of filing this report if the fleeing members of the gang carted away any money from the bank.
Meanwhile, a police source told our correspondent that the 3 gang members that were arrested had been taken to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad Unit in Akure, while a manhunt for the remaining nine that escaped with various degrees of bullet wounds continues.
Related story: Bus runs over and kills 14 passengers during robbery
The United States government, in collaboration with the Nigerian government, is working towards ensuring better health for Nigerians while also assisting in controlling the latter's population explosion.
The US Envoy to Nigeria, Ambassador Terrence McCulley, disclosed this during the public presentation of Expanded Social Marketing Project in Nigeria estimated at $56.3 million and a new brand of low dose oral contraceptive known as Combination 3.
Terrence added that for more than 50 years, the United States has been a committed partner in the promotion of Nigeria's successful, effective and sustainable development interventions
The ESMPIN and the child spacing contraceptive are the initiatives of a non-governmental organization, Society for Family Health.
The envoy said: "The aim of this project is to improve the overall health of women and children in Nigeria and this will be achieved by increasing the use and accessibility of child spacing methods and child healthcare products and services.
"Today, I reaffirm the United States government's commitment to supporting the government of Nigeria in achieving health goals. The United States aligns with Nigeria's vision of a strong public service and private sector that meets the country's family care giving objectives."
According to him, "the United States and Nigeria are partners in improving health services while expanding access through the privatization of healthy commodity distribution and marketing. Because Nigeria has one of the strongest health sectors in sub-Saharan Africa, it is imperative that we continue to support accessible and affordable high quality health products."
"Recently it was reported that Nigeria is the 6th most populated country in the world and there is an opportunity in bringing about a youthful population if we put certain things in place. There is also an opportunity to put certain things in place and slow down the population growth so that our resources can match what we do."
Inaugurating the contraceptive on behalf of the Federal Government, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu expressed concern over the increasing population.
Chukwu stressed the need for couples to imbibe child spacing methodologies to control the nation's population.
The minister expressed the Federal Government's appreciation to President Barack Obama of the United States for what they have been doing to improve the health sector in Nigeria.
According to him, "our average national mortality rate is 545. For every 100,000 women, you don't need to be a prophet by commission to realize that no less than 500 women do not live to see their children and it is so bad."
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Miracles, expensive cars, exorcisms and bodyguards: religion is big business in Nigeria. Reporter Seyi Rhodes and director Matt Haan travel to Lagos to reveal the extraordinary world of the millionaire preachers.
By promoting a dream of escaping poverty, they have turned their churches into corporations, which are changing the face of Christianity.
Every Sunday millions of Nigerians crowd into thousands of competing churches. The team visits one church in Lagos run by Dr Sign Fireman, an up-and-coming preacher who is attempting to break into the big time.
They find 2000 people at an event billed as the Burial of Satan. After a rock-star entrance, Dr Fireman begins his service by exorcising the demons in his congregation.
Many Nigerian Pentecostal Christians believe that demons are the root cause of their problems in life and come to people like Dr Fireman to get rid of them. Over 20 men and women, including some who worked for Dr Fireman, have the evil spirits inside them expelled.
Sick members of the congregation come forward for miracle healing. Dr Fireman claims to have God-given powers that can change people's lives, from raising people from the dead to curing earache. One man tells the crowd he is crippled and blind. Dr Fireman then channels his powers to help the man walk and see again. Yet, earlier the team has seen the man walking unaided.
At the close of the event the crowd swarms forward and throws money at Dr Fireman's feet. There is so much cash it has to be collected in dustbins. Rhodes talks to one worshipper who says that those who give money are repaid by God with good fortune.
Some Nigerian Pentecostal Christians believe giving 10% of their income will bring God's blessing into their lives, their families and their businesses. With the service over, Dr Fireman leaves in his yellow 4x4 Hummer.
Through the marketing of his talents, Dr Fireman has expanded his Perfect Christianity Ministry to 40 branches. Key to this growth is the emphasis on prosperity preaching: teaching that prosperity is a sign of spiritual blessing. The idea is that to become rich, you should give money to the church.
Pentecostal and independent churches in Nigeria tap into the Nigerian dream: the aspiration of having and being seen to have cars, houses, money and power. To get more people to join his church, Dr Fireman believes portraying the right image is essential and shows the trappings of wealth his church has brought him. He travels everywhere with his bodyguards in one of his three yellow luxury cars, which have a combined worth of more than £150,000.
Dr Fireman's business model is not a new one. Most of the richest pastors in Nigeria use similar methods of expansion. The team meets Pastor Chris Okotie, the fifth richest pastor in the country, who had hits in the 80s with records such as Secret Love and Show Me Your Backside.
His church, House of God, attracts Nigerian film stars, celebrities and musicians. Pastor Okotie has used his power base to run for the last three presidential elections, believing the principles of prosperity preaching will provide a better future for Nigeria.
Local journalist Simon Ateba says it's almost impossible to establish their true wealth. Simon takes the team to the headquarters of Christ Embassy. He claims that two years ago when he tried to take photographs of the building, security guards dragged him inside and beat him until he fainted. Soon after he tells this story, security guards drag Rhodes into the building by his belt. He escapes unscathed.
The team visits Dr Fireman. He's busy in a music studio recording a new song as he expands his business into the music industry. Rhodes asks him how he can square his wealth and celebrity status with the teachings and life of Jesus.
Dr Fireman says that God wants him to be rich and denies that Jesus had a humble life. 'Jesus was rich and had an accountant who followed him around,' he tells Rhodes.
Related story: Nigeria's Pastors 'As Rich As Oil Barons'
Gena Somra reports on a young Nigerian woman promised a better life in the U.S. - but instead found herself a slave.
Related story:Nigerian woman jailed 140 months for human trafficking
A 21 year-old man, Chinwendu Hart Amanya, was at the weekend arrested alongside four others by officers of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Police Command for allegedly killing his employer, Barrister Afishetu Abdullahi and hiding her body inside the deep freezer in the family house.
Others arrested with Amanya included Augustus Igbenatu, 51; Kelvin Uchegbu, 20; Chiso Nnam, 21; Prince Nnah, 24; and Ejikeme Igbo, 38.
Mrs. Abdullahi, a staff of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) was said to have been reported missing on November 8, by her husband Barr. Saah Abdullahi.
Confirming the arrest in Abuja , the FCT Commissioner of Police, Mr. Michael Zuokomor, disclosed that officers of the command discovered the strangled body of the deceased in a deep freezer during a search of the family house in Garki 11 area of Abuja .
He said, "A report was received from Barrister Saah Abdullahi, at Garki Police Station on November 8, 2011, that his wife Barrister Afishetu Niri Dupe Abdullahi, a staff at the NNPC headquarters, was missing for about two days.
"On the same date of the report, a search party by the Police Detectives discovered her strangled lifeless body in a deep freezer in her new residence in Garki."
According to Zuokomor, "Discreet investigation into this gruesome murder by the FCT Police Command resulted in the arrest of five suspects from Imo and Rivers States .
"The principal suspect Amanya who was the personal driver to the deceased upon his arrest freely confessed to having carried out the killing alongside the other suspects.
"The others have equally confessed to having carried out one or another assistance thereby facilitating the commission of the murder. Exhibits were recovered from their hideouts in Imo State and Rivers States ."
The commissioner of police said, the suspects would be charged to court on completion of investigation.
Items allegedly recovered from the suspects include, one Nissan Jeep; One Infinity Jeep; Nigeria Bar Association ID card belonging to the deceased; one visa phone; four Intercontinental Bank ATM cards.
Others include, two Eagle Fliers Credit cards, one Fidelity Bank ATM card; One Zenith Bank ATM card; two Glo recharge cards; one blackberry phone and a brown wallet belonging to the deceased.
Answering questions later, Amanya accepted responsibility for the death of his employer but claimed he did not know what came over him and regretted the act as the deceased had been good to him.
The suspect, who previously worked in a car wash centre, disclosed that Mrs. Abdullahi used to bring her car to him but later decided to employ him because of his dedication.
Asked why he put the deceased body in a refrigerator, Amanya who admitted making away with two vehicles belonging to the family claimed he wanted to delay the family discovering her death.
Related stories: Man Arrested for Beheading Housewife
Nigeria's government has fined air carriers British Airways $135 million and Virgin Atlantic Airways $100 million over what it describes as unfair trade practices that hiked up airfare prices in the oil-rich nation, an official told The Associated Press on Thursday.
The official said the fines came after a six-month investigation into fuel charges added to fares from Lagos' Murtala Muhammed International Airport to London's Heathrow Airport. The official said the two airlines acted together to inflate prices as far back as 2004.
The official spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity as the Nigerian government did not want to publicly acknowledge fines as negotiations with the two carriers continue. Nigerian newspaper ThisDay published a story Thursday saying the government had levied the heavy fines.
British Airways, which is run by International Consolidated Airlines Group PLC, rejected the allegations in a Thursday statement. British Airways has been flying to Nigeria, a British colony until 1960, for more than 75 years.
"We are vigorously defending our position," the statement read.
Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. issued a statement Thursday saying it had been contacted by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority over the fuel-charge investigation.
"We have fully assisted the NCAA with its inquiry and we do not believe we have breached Nigerian law," the statement read. "We will be robustly defending any suggestion to the contrary."
The airlines also will be required to provide compensation for affected passengers, which could mean millions of dollars more in losses, the official said.
The fuel charges appear to have spiked in just over a year, from 2.50 pounds ($4) in 2004 to 30 pounds ($47) in 2005, according to an analysis done by the Nigerian government and obtained Thursday by the AP.
The fee "was nothing but an additional fare," the analysis read.
In trading Thursday, IAG stock dropped 2.10 pounds ($3.30) to 141.40 pounds ($222).
The Nigerian government's push to accuse the two airlines of price fixing has precedent abroad. In the U.S., 21 airlines have paid more than $1.7 billion in fines over artificially inflating passenger and cargo fuel charges, one of the largest criminal antitrust investigations in U.S. history. Both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic found themselves ensnared in that probe, with British Airways fined $300 million in August 2007.
However, the fines come as Nigeria is engaging in talks with the United Kingdom over Nigerian carrier Arik Air's loss of spots at Heathrow. The Nigerian airline said a government agreement entitles it to 21 slots at U.K. airports, but the airline refused to pay increased rates for some Heathrow slots, which are administered by a private company.
The Nigerian official denied the fines came as a response to the conflict, which has seen the Nigerian government threaten to cut British Airways flights in Lagos in retaliation.
Other foreign carriers also fly in and out of Lagos' international airport, a major hub for West Africa. That airport alone saw 2.3 million passengers pass through it in 2009, according to the most recent statistics provided by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria.
The official said authorities will continue their investigation to examine the high prices charged by other foreign airlines as well.
Recent figures by Opera Software Company shows that Nigerians are first in Africa and fifth largest users of Opera Mini browsers in the world. With this latest ranking, Nigeria has surpassed more tech-savvy countries such as the United States and China.
According to StatCounter, internet browsing from mobile phones in Nigeria grew by over 25% between October 2010 and October 2011. In the same period, according to StatCounter, internet browsing from desktops decreased by more than 25%.
Nigeria has an estimated 93 million mobile phone users, and is ranked as having the largest mobile subscriber base in Africa. A key information in the StatCounter data is that Opera Mini browser is the most popular mobile internet browser in Nigeria. About 90% of Nigerian users of mobile internet browsers use Opera Mini. The upsurge in internet browsing from mobile phones among Nigerians has been explained as due to the fact that accessing web content from a mobile browser is much cheaper than accessing the same content for a desktop.
Nigeria was first listed among the world's top ten users of Opera in March 2009. The growth of Opera Mini usage in Nigeria is breathtaking, increasing by 1,150 per cent between July 2010 to October 2011. One of the factors in Nigeria's advantage is her population, now estimated at over 160 million, with a massive bulge in the 15-35 age-group.
The average mobile web user in Nigeria views about 345 pages every month, and uses his mobile browser almost exclusively for accessing social networking sites and for emailing services. The most popular sites for users of mobile browsers in Nigeria are Facebook, Google and Yahoo. Opera Software says it's mobile browsers are flexible. Opera Mini may be used on more than 3,000 different mobile-phone models, from ordinary feature phones to Smart phones. Nigerians agree on this point.
Professor S. Ajayi, Dean of Sciences at Caleb University, Lagos says; "Using a mobile browser is cheaper, faster and very convenient especially when you are on the move. Most Nigerians use the internet for social networking and email services. Mobile browsers are exceptionally adapted for such functions."
When asked why he thinks Nigerians have taken to mobile browsing so readily, Tolu, a Nigerian and internet entrepreneur says, though millions of young Nigerians use the internet regularly, most use it only superficially, checking updates and messages on their Facebook page and looking up latest email messages.
In spite of his views, Tolu thinks mobile browsers will continue to grow in popularity, especially among young Nigerians, whose notions of essential services are dictated by peer fashion trends.
Related stories: Video - Building broadband in Nigeria
Nigeria has evacuated from Mali 104 of its citizens, mostly women, either made to work as “sexual slaves” or suspected of involvement in human trafficking, officials said on Tuesday.
The National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons (NAPTIP) evacuated 93 alleged victims of human trafficking, nine suspected traffickers and two babies, the agency's head, Beatrice Jedy-Agba, told reporters.
The babies, aged between six months and a year, were born in Mali, she added.
Jedy-Agba said they were brought back home on Saturday after investigations by the agency showed that “Nigerian girls are sold for two million naira (about $12 000) each and made to work as sexual slaves”.
The investigations started in September last year, she said.
Many brothels in the capital Bamako and the cities of Mopti (centre), Kayes (west), Sikasso (south) and Gao (northeast) were populated by mostly Nigerian girls, victims of human trafficking, aged between 14 and 17 years, Jedy-Agba explained.
NAPTIP found out that thousands of Nigerian citizens have been deceived and transported to the francophone West African nation on the pretext that they would be taken to Europe.
“Some of them in their hundreds are deported from Algeria and Morocco back to Mali after failed attempts to cross to Europe,” she stated.
The agency has started the process of their rehabilitation and re-integration into the society for the victims, while the suspected traffickers would be prosecuted after their interrogation.
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President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has said that the visit of the French Foreign Minister, Mr. Alain Juppe, to Kano last Saturday, as well as the trip of Ambassador Jean-Michel Dumond to Kebbi and Sokoto States has proved that Nigeria is a safe country to visit.
President Jonathan was speaking to the out-going French Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Jean-Michel Dumond, who paid a farewell visit to State House, Tuesday, November 15.
'Your visits to Kebbi and Sokoto States, after the French Foreign Minister visited Kano, all in the north of Nigeria, confirm that the country is safe to visit', he stated, recalling the visit of the French Prime Minister to the Niger Delta in 2009, when other nationals were reluctant to visit that part of the country.
The President commended President Nicolas Sarkozy for the tremendous support Nigeria and Africa have enjoyed from France, especially towards the restoration of peace, stability and democracy in Cote d'Ivoire, Niger Republic, Guinea and Liberia.
On bilateral issues, President Jonathan said the Economic Management Team was working hard to improve Nigeria's investment environment, particularly power supply, and acknowledged the contributions of Mr. Dumond in strengthening relations between the two countries.
Earlier, the out-going French Ambassador, Mr. Jean-Michel Dumond, had said his stay in Nigeria since January 2008 had enabled him to realise that misconceptions about Nigeria abroad were not justified, adding that his efforts to enlighten the French business community about Nigeria has led to the presence of over 120 French companies in the country.
He said Nigeria was the leading French trading partner in Africa, but added that there was still much to do to consummate the strategic partnership between both countries.
Mr. Dumond said France has proved many times over that Nigeria and France are strong partners, listing areas of mutual cooperation to include trade, security assistance, promotion of democracy and manpower development.
He thanked President Jonathan for the cooperation he enjoyed from the Government during his tenure.
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As negotiations on the controversial London route continues between the Federal Government and its British counterpart, the Nigerian authorities have rejected offers put forward by the latter, including a 20% reduction in the price of the lowest business class ticket to London.
This came as the ultimatum given British Airways to facilitate restoration of Arik Air's slot on Abuja-London route expired yesterday.
Vanguard gathered that Arik Air will now also operate seven frequencies from Abuja to London, instead of the five it hitherto operated, which were suspended on October 29 as a result of the current crisis between Nigeria and the UK on the matter.
Ongoing negotiations between both governments, triggered by the intervention of British Prime Minister, Mr David Cameron, was occasioned by the muscling of Arik Air off the route, which compelled the federal government to also slash British Airways frequencies in Lagos from seven to three.
Vanguard gathered, yesterday, that the negotiating team of the British government offered to cut the lowest Business Class ticket by 20 per cent, which the Nigerian team rejected outright.
Consequently, the Nigerian team was said to have asked for an outright dismantling of the regional imbalance in the fare regime of British Airways and the other British carrier, Virgin Atlantic Airways, which gives the British carriers unfair advantage over Nigerian carriers on the route.
Vanguard gathered that the Nigerian team wanted equal fare regime that would confer a balance arrangement for citizens of both countries.
ACN backs FG
Meanwhile, the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, has said it fully supports the Federal Government's stance on the issue of full respect for the Bilateral Air Service Agreement, BASA, between the country and Britain.
In a statement in Lagos, yesterday, by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party specifically hailed the way and manner the issue has been handled by the Aviation Ministry, which has responded in kind to the shabby treatment meted out to Nigeria flag carrier, Arik Air, in Britain.
It said:"'If British airlines must fly to Nigeria unhindered, under the framework of the BASA between the two countries, then Nigerian airlines must fly to Britain without hinderance."
Any move to the contrary is an attempt by one party to gain an unfair advantage over the other, and must be resisted to the hilt," it said.
ACN added: "The explanation by the Minister of Aviation that the face-off between the two countries is more about respecting the spirit and letter of the BASA between them, than any other consideration, gladdens our hearts, as it shows that Nigerians as well as the country's corporate citizens can be sure that their government will stand up to defend their rights when necessary.
"This is in consonance with what our party has always said: That the government must stoutly defend Nigerian citizens at home and abroad, to ensure that their dignity is not trampled upon anywhere. This is the only way our country and its citizens can stand tall in the comity of nations."
The party said the government must not relent in its ongoing efforts to ensure that Nigerian airlines flying into Britain are not shortchanged, and also use the opportunity presented by the development to carry out a holistic review of the Bilateral Air Service Agreements entered into with other countries, with a view to ensuring full respect for such pacts.
It said at a time the Jonathan administration is committing many unforced errors, to use a tennis parlance, due to poorly-conceived policies, the action of the Aviation Ministry represents what his government can achieve if it will only allow itself to be guided by the national interest.
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A nephew of Nigeria assistant coach Daniel Amokachi was shot and killed in a robbery attempt on Friday in Kaduna.Tekimbe Amokachi was minding the business premises of his uncle, Daniel's father when the robbers attacked.
Unknown to the 21-year-old Tekimbe, the hoodlums were armed, and as he chased after them, he was shot in the thigh at point-blank range with a shot gun.
He died from the bleeding a few hours later.
A distraught Amokachi was forced to put the tragedy behind him to help new boss Stephen Keshi with his first official assignment.
"It was really sad for me to hear about it. The incident happened on Friday and my father is really feeling it as Tekimbe was the one who was always around to run little errands and take care of him," Amokachi said.
"It is a big tragedy for me, because he was more like a brother as he has been with us for so long.
"But I had to get myself together and focus on helping the chief coach in his first match. "It is a sacrifice I have to make for my country."
Kaduna state Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Aminu Lawal, confirmed the killing of Tekimbe, saying investigations were on to find the killers.
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French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe vowed Saturday to help Nigeria in its fight against extremist groups as the country faces an intensifying Islamist insurgency.
The radical Islamist group Boko Haram has claimed credit for a recent wave of gun and bomb attacks, including one last week in Nigeria's northeast that left some 150 people dead, one of the deadliest operations attributed to the group.
"We shall fight against this phenomenon. We are ready to share any information. We are ready to coordinate our intelligence services. We are ready also to give our help in training cooperation," Juppe told reporters after talks with his Nigerian counterpart Olugbenga Ashiru in the capital Abuja.
There has been speculation over whether Boko Haram -- which also said it carried out an August suicide attack at the UN headquarters that killed 24 -- has developed closer ties with Al-Qaeda's north Africa branch.
"France is directly concerned and involved in the question of terrorism. We received, often, threats against our interests in the region or in France. So we are in complete solidarity with the countries of the region around the Sahel," Juppe said.
Nigeria is France's biggest trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa, Juppe said, with French oil giant Total among the major producers of crude in the country that is Africa's largest oil producer.
Juppe, who arrived in Nigeria on Friday, also held a closed-door meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan on Saturday.
He was to leave for Kano, the biggest city in the mainly Muslim north of Nigeria, later on Saturday before returning to France, following a trip that also included a visit to South Africa.
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Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell on Sunday reported a fresh spill from a key delivery pipeline in southern Nigeria, but said it has contained the leak.
"SPDC (Shell Petroleum Development Company) contained a spill in Adibawa delivery line which was reported yesterday (Saturday)," Shell's Nigerian joint venture said in a statememt.
"We had dispatched our spill containment team to the site as soon as we received the reports and the personnel succeeded in containing the leak," it said.
Shell, which announced a production cut from the same facility last week, said it was investigating the incident to determine the cause and impact.
"The delivery line is part of the Okordia-Rumuekpe line, which SPDC shut down following a leak on November 8 and subsequent fire incident," it said, blaming last week's incident on sabotage.
"A joint investigation visit found that the spill was caused by hacksaw cuts," it said, adding that there had been several hacksaw cuts on the Adibawa delivery line this year.
But Environmental Rights Action (ERA)/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (FoEN), which visited the site, ruled out sabotage in a statement Sunday.
"Anybody who visits this spill site can attest to the fact that this is a case of equipment failure," the environmental group said.
"From experience gained in the field, this is one of the most obvious cases that points to that fact: no signs of any clearing around the spill site, no signs of any digging," it said.
"This is the 12th oil spill that has occurred between August and November 2011 in Ikarama community environment," ERA said, adding that Shell should visit the area, clean up the spill and compensate the affected residents.
"Adequate compensation should be paid for damages to crops, impacted farmlands and general damages incurred by the victims of this latest spill," it said.
Oil spills occur regularly in Nigeria, Africa's largest oil producer, and are often caused by oil thieves seeking to steal crude for sale on the lucrative black market.
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Algeria's Deputy Foreign Minister, Abdelkader Messahel, Sunday said there was strong coordination between Boko Haram and the Algerian-based north African branch of al Qaeda.
Reuters quoted Messahel as saying: "We have no doubts that coordination exists between Boko Haram and al Qaeda. The way both groups operate and intelligence reports show that there is cooperation."
Reuters also reported that Western security experts said any link-up with al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) could make it a more potent threat, especially to Nigeria's energy sector since the group had killed dozens of people over time.
AQIM grew out of a conflict in Algeria between the government and Islamist militants.
In the past few years it has expanded its activities to include Mali, Niger and Mauritania but was not thought to have reached as far south as Nigeria.
The Reuters also stated that Algeria's assessment of ties between AQIM and Boko Haram carried authority because Algeria has the biggest intelligence-gathering operation on al Qaeda of any country in the region.
It tallies with the view of some in the nation's military, who said Boko Haram was increasingly linking up with global jihadist movements.
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The Federal Ministry of Aviation has investigated British Airways and Virgin Atlantic with respect to the discriminatory and unacceptable prices of air fares between the Lagos-London and Abuja-London Routes, thereby creating regional fare disparity and imbalance.
In a statement signed by Joe Obi, SA (Media) to the Hon. Minister of Aviation , the Ministry condemns this practice in its totality, vowing it will take all necessary action to protect Nigerian citizens from exploitation that arises from a price regime that is highly restrictive and discriminatory. The statement reads in part;
" This is in spite of the fact that the Lagos-London Route is one of the highest and most lucrative yields which ought to attract one of the lowest fares in the region. Accordingly, the Honourable Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Adaeze Oduah will direct that this regional imbalance should stop forthwith|.
" Furthermore, the Honourable Minister has observed with utter dismay the inequitable treatment meted out to Arik Air in denying its fleet access into Heathrow Airport from Abuja. As a result, the airline has been compelled to discontinue its flight operations from Abuja to Heathrow which has impacted negatively on the passengers on this route.
" Finally, the Hon.Minister wants to assure Nigerians that appropriate action is being taken in this regard to redress the situation".
A Nigerian taxi driver in the United States of America, (USA), Mr. Domingo I. Ezirike, was last October 22 shot dead over a 75 cent dispute, police said.
The US police said it has charged a 20-year-old Rashad Terrell Slye of Southeast with first-degree murder while armed for the shooting of Ezirike of Prince Georges County.
Police officers discovered 40-year-old Ezirike in the driver's seat of his cab shortly before 4 a.m., sitting in the grass in the 4300 block of Ponds Street Northeast near Anacostia Avenue. Emergency medical personnel found no signs of life.
The medical examiner later determined that Ezirike was killed with a gunshot wound to the body, according to police documents.
One of the detectives who found Ezirike told homicide detectives that he had seen the man in his cab during a routine traffic stop less than half an hour before he was found shot, police documents state. He leaned into the cab to tell Ezirike to put on his seat belt, the detective said, and saw two passengers in the back seat.
Calls made from Slye's cell phone led police to an address in the 1500 block of Anacostia Avenue. A witness there told police that when she got into the cab with Slye, the cabbie asked the two for $20 to drive them into D.C., which she gave him. She also remembered the police traffic stop.
At the final destination, she told police the driver asked for an additional $7.75. She gave him $5 and Slye $2, but the driver and Slye began arguing over the remaining 75 cents. She told police she got out of the cab and walked away, asking Slye to come with her, but he continued to argue with the cabbie. A witness at Ponds Street told police to have overheard a man in the cab saying loudly "Give me my $20 back," then demanding to be led out of the cab. The witness told police a black man got out of the back seat with a silver handgun, telling the driver to get out of the car.
The driver got out and lay down on the ground, telling the gunman he didn't have any money. The gunman, the witness said, went through the driver's pockets, where he apparently found some money. The witness told police it seemed as if the suspect tried to shoot the driver once but the gun didn't fire.
The driver took off his pants to prove that he didn't have any money with him. The suspect told the driver to get back into the cab. He then fired one shot and ran off toward Anacostia Avenue, the witness said.
Ezirike, still alive, was able to reverse the car toward Anacostia Avenue. His cell phone showed a 911 call shortly before 3:30 a.m. Through GPS, the taxi company was able to determine that Ezirike picked up his last customer at the Morgan Boulevard Metro station in Landover.
The number used to order the cab was also used to call someone in the 1500 block of Anacostia Avenue. Police searched that address under a warrant and found the cell phone and a blue jacket the witness at Ponds Street had described. Ezirike's wallet was found behind that building.
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In August and December 2008, two major oil spills disrupted the lives of the 69,000 or so people living in Bodo, a town in Ogoniland in the Niger Delta. Both spills continued for weeks before they were stopped. Three years on, the prolonged failure of the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (Shell), a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell, to clean up the oil that was spilled, continues to have catastrophic consequences for the Bodo community.
The call to enter for the Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) has been made and feature, short and documentary entries are welcomed for the 2012 awards in Nigeria, in April. The deadline for submissions is 30 December, 2011.
The awards ceremony is televised live around the world and attracts Hollywood celebrities alongside their African counterparts, as well as African politicians and media.
"Our theme this year is Africa Rising," said founder Peace Anyiam-Osigwe. "With the success of last year's AMAA winner, Viva Riva!, all of a sudden there's this great awareness of the possibilities in Africa. It challenged the ideology of what African cinema is all about."
Untapped audience of one billion Africans
After winning six awards at AMAA 2011, Djo Tundawa Munga's Congolese crime drama was released in the US, Canada, Europe, Australasia, and 18 African countries, demonstrating the untapped audience potential of the roughly one billion Africans on the continent.
"This has been an exciting year for African cinema," said Anyiam-Osigwe. "We've also seen the UK release of six Nollywood films, with Lonzo Nzekwe's Anchor Baby and Obi Emelonye's Mirror Boy having extended runs at The Odeon Cinema in England."
Only films produced and released between December, 2010, and December, 2011, are eligible. Features may not exceed 120 minutes and shorts may not be longer than 40 minutes.
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A Minna Chief Magistrate's Court yesterday ordered for one Garba Mohammed to be remanded in prison custody for allegedly burying a day old baby alive sometime in October this year on the ground that the child was a bastard.
Garba Mohammed of Lokon Batagi in Mokwa Local Government Area of Niger State was said to have buried the child that was born by his daughter, Hauwa Garba out of wedlock with no one claiming responsibility as the father of the child.
Daily Trust gathered that Mohammed, a 30-year-old farmer was said to have been furious over what he considered as a shameful matter, thereby causing the death of the day old child by burying him alive.
According to the First Information Report (FIR), the incident which was reported to have occurred on October 18, 2011 is an offence contrary to section 235 of the Penal Code.
The FIR reads in part: "That you Mohammed Garba of Lokon Batagi via Gbajibo in Mokwa LGA wilfully buried alive a day old baby boy on account that your daughter Hauwa Garba gave birth to a bastard child. You are hereby suspected to have committed the offence of causing the death of a day old baby after birth contrary to section 235 of the penal code law".
When the charges were read to the accused by the Chief Magistrate, Hassan Mohammed, the (accused) pleaded not guilty, insisting that the baby was buried after it had died.
The prosecutor of the case, Esther Philip, requested the court not to grant bail to the accused on the ground that investigation into the case was still ongoing. Meanwhile, the case has been adjourned to December 7, 2011.
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After a wave of attacks hit Nigeria, Inside Story asks what motivates the Islamist group's increasing violence in Africa's most populous country.
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United States Embassy in Nigeria Wednesday released a security update which relaxed the emergency warning it issued at the weekend in which it warned US citizens to avoid certain luxury hotels in Abuja.
The security update is coming on the heels of a letter sent by the Nigerian embassy in Washington DC to the State Department to protest the emergency warning.
Thisday could, however, not confirm if there is a nexus between the new update by the embassy and the protest letter sent by Nigeria to the US government.
In the emergency message issued on November 5, 2011, following deadly attacks in Damaturu and Potiskum by Boko Haram which claimed over 100 lives, US embassy in Nigeria had warned its citizens to avoid three major hotels in Abuja - NICON Luxury, the Sheraton Hotel, and the Transcorp Hilton Hotel.
The embassy had said that it had received information that Boko Haram could attack several locations and hotels in Abuja during the Sallah holiday.
But in a new security update yesterday, the US embassy said since it issued the emergency warning, it had continued to monitor closely the threat posed by the sect and had also noticed the increased security checks by the Nigerian government.
It therefore added that US government personnel were no longer instructed to avoid the three hotels.
The statement however urged US citizens to maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to enhance their personal security.
The latest statement posted on the embassy's website reads: "The US Mission in Nigeria issues the following emergency message regarding the current security situation for the attention of all US citizens in Abuja, Nigeria.
"The US Embassy continues to monitor closely the ongoing threat posed by an extremist group and their stated intention to carry out attacks against the Nigerian Government and western interests in Nigeria.
"The Embassy notes that increased security checks at major hotels, government facilities, and along major roadways over the recent Sallah holiday have improved the security environment to the general public. As a result, and with the Sallah holiday over, the Embassy is updating its warning to US citizens.
"US Government personnel are no longer instructed to avoid the NICON Luxury, the Sheraton Hotel, and the Transcorp Hilton Hotel. However, the Embassy reminds all US citizens to maintain a high level of vigilance and personal awareness, particularly in and around Abuja, FCT, near Nigerian government facilities, diplomatic missions, large gathering places, hotels, markets and malls, and places of worship.
"We advise all US citizens to review their personal security plans, remain aware of their surroundings, including local events, monitor local news stations for updates, and report specific incidences of targeted violence to the U.S. Embassy in Abuja or the US Consulate General in Lagos at the numbers below."
In its protest letter sent to the State Department yesterday, Nigeria maintained that the emergency message was badly timed, unwarranted and conflicts with the active collaboration of the security agencies of both countries to tackle the hydra-headed problem of terrorism.
Sources at the Nigerian embassy in Washington and the State Department told THISDAY that Nigeria maintained that such a warning had the potential of impacting negatively on the confidence reposed in the collaboration of the security agencies of both countries.
The protest letter was also said to have cited the implications that the emergency warning would have on the 17th Nigerian Economic Summit, billed to kick off today in Abuja.
The summit, which has as its theme, "Attracting Foreign Direct Investment through Global Partnerships", is billed to be flagged off by President Goodluck Jonathan and is expected to be attended by public and private sector leaders from around the world.
Nigeria was said to have further stated in the protest letter that while every country had its peculiar security challenges, the nation's security agencies and partners around the world were working around the clock to tackle the current security challenges facing the nation.
It however noted that such emergency warning issued by the US could further embolden the extremist sect and make it bask in the euphoria of scaring investors away from Nigeria.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has said it is not losing the fight against Boko Haram despite the spate of attacks launched by members of the sect recently which led to heavy casualty.
The Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, after yesterday's meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), said the security agencies had made considerable progress in the fight against terror and not every piece of information could be revealed.
He said President Jonathan was not losing the fight against Boko Haram or terrorism, pointing out that every week, he meets with heads of security agencies to review the situation while still going ahead with the counter offensives.
Maku said the National Security Adviser (NSA), Gen. Owoye Azazi, had responded to issues bordering on the attacks, pointing out that the security agencies had not only gone into the offensive, but had also made arrests "though not all that has been achieved would be put in the public domain".
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Nigeria and China yesterday agreed to explore making Nigeria a major manufacturing hub for China's key industrial enterprises according to the Director, Chongqing Liangjing New Area, China.
Mr. Weng Jieming, in a statement from Mrs. Yemi Kolapo Special Adeviser, Corporate Communications to the Minister of Trade & Investment Olusegun Aganga said Chongqing has five key industries, including automobiles and motorcycles, petroleum and natural gas, equipment manufacture, new materials and high-tech industry, which had key investments in many countries of the world.
He said, apart from encouraging companies in Chongqing to export their goods to Nigeria, the government would also "support the companies, especially in the motorcycle and automobiles industry, to make direct investments in Nigeria for local production."
He said this yesterday when the Minister of Trade, Olusegun Aganga, visited Chongqing, the largest and most important industrial city at the upper reaches of Yangtze River and Southwest China. It consists of China's major Free Trade Zones, which contribute about 20 per cent of the nation's Gross Domestic Product.
Jieming noted that the largest investments in Ghana were made by companies from Chongqing, adding that fostering such a relationship with Nigeria would be beneficial to both countries.
Nigeria's trade and investment minister had said, during a meeting with his counterpart at the Ministry of Commerce, China, Mr. Fu Ziying, that making Nigeria a major manufacturing zone for most of China's products would go a long way in correcting the trade imbalance between the two countries and creating jobs for Nigerians.
Aganga said the availability of raw materials and a ready market in Nigeria for "quality" Chinese products would make the deal a win-win situation for both countries.
He urged Chinese companies, to invest in critical infrastructure in Nigeria, noting that local industries in Nigeria would also benefit from the improved business environment that would result from sound infrastructure.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government and the Chinese government have agreed to ensure that the Lekki Free Trade Zone commences full operation in 18 months.
The President, China Railway Construction Corporation Limited, Mr. Zhao Guangfa, during a meeting with Aganga on Tuesday night, urged the Federal Government to remove the bottlenecks hindering the progress of the Lekki Free Trade Zone project, noting that such projects initiated at about the same time in other countries had been completed.
Consequently, a committee, made up of representatives of the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment, the Lagos State Ministry of Commerce and CRCC, was constituted to review the underlying problems and resolve the issues with a view to completing the project between 12 and 18 months.
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