Friday, November 29, 2013

Video - Military extends state of emergency in Northern Nigeria

Nigeria has declared a six-month extension of the state of emergency in areas where troops are fighting members of the armed group Boko Haram. Residents in those regions are furious over the extension.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

French hostage Francic Collomp recounts his escape from Nigerian kidnappers

A French engineer kidnapped by Islamist militants in northern Nigeria has told the BBC how he managed to escape two weeks ago.

Francis Collomp, 63, said he had studied the daily routine of his captors, and locked one in a bathroom as he was preparing to pray.

He said he then flagged down a motorcycle taxi and asked the driver to take him to a police station.

Mr Collomp was seized by the Ansaru group while working on a power project.

He was kidnapped on 19 December last year by armed men who attacked the residence of his employer, the French wind turbine manufacturer Vergnet, in the north Nigerian state of Katsina.

Ansaru, a militant group linked to the Islamist Boko Haram movement, said it had carried out the abduction.

'I learned Hausa'
Speaking to the BBC World Service Newsday programme, Mr Collomp said his chance to escape came when he was transferred to Zaria city in Kaduna state.

"The big difference is that in this new villa there was not only myself but also a small bathroom. One of my captors was also using the same bathroom every day for his prayers. So he would come and after a while I was just taking record, taking notice of all his moves, his times, his routines. And I decided the best opportunity would be at the evening prayers. And one night he just forgot to close the door. He started washing in preparation for his prayers. I managed to grab the keys there.

"I took my bag, I locked my captor inside as he was washing. And just to cover the noise of the keys I coughed two times while I was locking him in this small bathroom. And then, because there's this other door leading to the rest of the villa and then to the terrace, I escaped that way. I went to the streets, I ran for 400, 500 metres, got to the road, and then on the road I tried to calm down and to walk slowly, not to attract attention. And finally, because I spoke a few words in Hausa, I grabbed a motor taxi. And I said 'baraawoo, baraawoo' (which) in Hausa means thief, and I asked this guy to take me to the police.

"I said to them: 'Look, I was kept by Ansaru people. They could come any time to this place and kill us all so you'd better take some steps.' And then higher commanders came. They brought in reinforcements. Then I was taken away, eventually to Kaduna. And for the first time I could sleep on a proper mattress and have a proper shower."

Mr Collomp said he was seized in a "very violent attack".

"The attackers used heavy weapons. I heard four shots of a Kalashnikov, probably the four shots that killed the policeman and my security guard. I shut down the electricity, I tried to hide. They were wearing military uniforms. For some time I thought it might have been the army. Then I realised it was not... They let me guide them out of the villa but then they took me in a car. I was sandwiched between two men and they covered my face with a big, supermarket plastic bag. And I estimate they took me for about 60km. They took me to Kano."

He said he had learned the identity of his captors when he was asked to record a video message, using a script in which the name of Ansaru was stated.

Mr Collomp was watched in turn by up to 25 men, and only allowed to go to the toilet once a day, using a plastic bucket. But he said he was not treated violently, and that the pain was more psychological than physical.

Anniversary message
"But I have to say I had a serious health problem, intestinal problems. I asked my captors to bring me medication, which they did, which of course makes me think that they wanted me to stay alive."

During his time in captivity, Mr Collomp was allowed to listen to radio services such as Radio France Internationale, which were broadcast in French and Hausa, allowing him to pick up a knowledge of the language spoken by his many of captors.

"I managed to communicate and write a few words of Hausa now and then, which was a big surprise to my captors when they realised that."

He used various methods to keep up his fitness and morale.

"I wanted to stay fit, so I used to walk inside the cell, and to run inside the cell, about 15 kilometres a day. And also I had to keep my mind afloat. And to do that, I was thinking about my engineering projects. I was working on how to improve electric batteries for electric cars."

Mr Collomp said he was left distressed by a message broadcast on Radio France Internationale by his wife on the occasion of their wedding anniversary.

He determined to escape after being told by his kidnappers that negotiations involving his possible release had failed. But, half in jest, he said that one of the other sparks that encouraged him to seek a way out was the food he had to endure during nearly a year in captivity.

"The food was so appalling in that place, because it was either rice or pasta. Sometimes they would mix the two together so it was so awful that I convinced myself I had to run away."


Related story: Video - French hostage held for almost a year escapes in Nigeria

Video - Iranian jailed for trafficking arms to Nigeria

An Iranian and a Nigerian national have been convicted of shipping arms to the Gambia through Nigeria. But, as our correspondent reports from the Nigerian capital, the court has not presented substantial evidence to link the two men with the weapons.

Related stories: Video - Russia wants Nigeria to release arrested sailors

15 Russians in prison over alleged gun smuggling

Video - Sharia police in Nigeria smash 240,000 bottles of beer

Police enforcing Islamic law in Nigeria's city of Kano publicly destroyed some 240,000 bottles of beer on Wednesday, the latest move in a wider crackdown on behaviour deemed "immoral" in the area.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Switzerland returns Sani Abacha's loot

 Ambassador of Switzerland to Nigeria, Dr. Hans-Rudolf Hodel, yesterday said all the $700 million in Swiss bank accounts belonging to the late head of state General Sani Abacha have been returned to Nigeria.

Hodel said this at a news conference in Abuja. He added that Swiss and Nigerian governments have agreed to request the World Bank to participate in the review of the use of the funds on welfare projects.

"Regarding Sani Abacha, Switzerland has restituted and returned $700 million of illicit assets to Nigeria," he said.

The ambassador said in addition to the return of the funds, Switzerland also funded a project of an NGO network which monitored the use of the recovered monies in the various development projects.

On the case against the late Abacha's son Abba, Hodel said proceedings over support of a criminal organisation were still pending in Geneva.

He added: "There are special procedures to deal with foreign clients who are PEPs (politically-exposed persons). Swiss banks must put clients into different risk categories. They might decide not to start business relationship with a PEP because of the reputation risk involved. Swiss banks are obliged by law to report well-founded suspicions of criminal activity and simultaneously freeze the assets in question."

When asked on a recent report on Swiss traders involved in opaque $6.8 billion oil deals in Nigeria, the envoy said they have not received any formal request regarding that.

"I have no knowledge that we have been contacted by the authorities. In case they will start proceedings and they will need our help, of course with international legal cooperation we will help them if they approach us. But until now, they have not approached us," he said.

Daily Trust

Victor Moses is Nigeria's footballer of the year

Victor Moses was yesterday named the Nigerian Footballer of the Year,2013. He was conferred with the honour by the Nigerian Sports Award. Moses defeated John Obi Mikel and Sunday Mba who were the other nominees for the award.

In an elaborate ceremony at the Muson Centre, Onikan, Super Eagles coach, Stephen Keshi was presented with the Nigerian Coach of the Year award while Perpetual Nkwocha of the Super Falcons won the female footballer of the year.

Ball Sports Personality of the year award was won by Portugal based Nigeria table tennis international Aruna Quadri. He defeated Olumide Oyedeji and Ike Diogu, both of De Tigers.

The President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Alhaji Aminu Maigari won the sports administrator of the year award. He dedicated the award to every Nigerian.

Blessing Okagbare won the Track and Field Star of the Year award while junior athlete Divine Oduduru won the discovery of the year award.

Meanwhile, Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of DeltaState also won the Sports Governor of the Year Award. Uduaghan who was present in the hall received the award and said the other nominees, Governors Liyel Imoke of CrossRiver and Babatunde Fashola of LagosState were equally winners.

"I am aware that all the other governors are equally doing a lot in terms of grassroots development. The way we are going, Nigeria will win at least one gold medal at the next Olympics," an elated Uduaghan said.

Mikel Obi however won the Sports man of the year award while Blessing Okagbare won the sports woman of the year award.


Video - Nigerian forces battle growing drug use

Drug abuse is on the rise in Nigeria, prompting the state to interfere. Police have arrested more than 1500 people for drug offences in the past two years. With experts pointing fingers at poverty, more focus is cast on rehabilitation and support.

Deadly attack in Plateau state leaves 37 dead

Gunmen have killed 37 people in a pre-dawn raid in Nigeria's central Plateau state, the military has said.

Herdsmen from the Fulani ethnic group carried out the attack on villages inhabited mostly by the Berom community, a local organisation said.

Plateau state has been hit for years by inter-ethnic and religious violence, which has killed thousands.

It lies on the fault line between Nigeria's mainly Muslim north and mostly Christian and animist south.

Most Fulani are Muslim and Berom are Christians.

Military spokesman Salisu Mustapha said the gunmen opened fore on residents in four villages at around 0100 GMT.

"The attackers killed... 13 persons in Katu Kapang, eight in Daron, nine in Tul and seven others in Rawuru," he said, in a statement.

However, Fatima Njokwu, who works for the Stefanos Foundation, a Christian group in Nigeria, said three villages were raided.

Fulani herdsmen carried out the attack on the mainly Berom communities, she told the BBC Hausa Service.

The long-standing rivalries between communities stem from a dispute about who are the area's rightful inhabitants, tensions often whipped up by local politicians, correspondents say.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Switzerland to investigate 6.8 billion dollar fraud between Nigerian and Swiss companies

Switzerland is ready to assist Nigeria in the ongoing investigations into the alleged more than 6.8 billion dollars (N1.1 trillion) fraudulent oil deals involving the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, and Swiss oil trading companies.

Mr. Hans-Rudolf Hodel, the country’s ambassador to Nigeria, made the pledge in Abuja yesterday.
Hodel told reporters that though no formal request for assistance had been made to his government on the issue by any representative of the Nigerian government, both countries had an existing mutual legal assistance.

This, he said, entails providing banking information and freezing of bank accounts, “if such accounts are identified in the criminal proceedings.”
Hodel said that the report issued by the Swiss-based NGO, Berne Declaration, which highlighted the transactions between NNPC and Swiss companies, did not represent the official position of the Swiss government.


Monday, November 25, 2013

President Goodluck Jonathan thanks Nigerians

President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, returned to the country and thanked Nigerians for the show of love extended to him while he was indisposed in London.
He also confirmed that he will have a meeting with the group of seven governors who are estranged from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, this week despite the seeming escalation of the crisis between the governors and the party.

The governors on their part were meeting last night to perfect their positions preparatory to meeting the President.
Speaking with reporters shortly after he arrived at the Presidential Wing of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, from London, President Jonathan also confirmed that he had received the report of the committee he set up to investigate the purchase of armoured vehicles by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, allegedly for the Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah.

The President, however, did not say whether government has taken action on the report of the committee.

The President, had on October 23, instituted a three-man administrative panel of inquiry to probe the procure-ment of two bullet-proof cars for the Aviation Minister.
The three-man panel, which was chaired by the immediate former Head of Service of the Federation, Isa Sali Bello, also has the National Security Adviser, NSA, Sambo Dakusi and another defence intelligence expert, Dick Iruenebere, as members.

The panel was mandated to investigate the minister’s role in the procurement process and determine whether the process complied with due process.

He told journalists: “I had health challenges. I thank God and I thank Nigerians for the concern they showed. I appreciate the show of love and concern by Nigerians.
“On Wednesday, even though I was in London, I read how people congratulated me, remem-bering my birthday that I don’t normally celebrate anyway.

“I really had some health challenges and I have to thank God again that I am very okay to resume work from this night (yesterday).

“The most important thing is that I am back. You will expect that when you are holding a political office as the president of a country, anything that affects you attracts a lot of attention.

“If the President is sick, this alone will definitely cause apprehension even if you don’t know the ailment.”

On meeting with G-7 govs
The President said: “I believe within the week we will be able to meet. Politics is about discussion. We belong to the same political party.
“Even people from different political parties engaged in political discussion and political discussion is a continuous process.
“Even during elections people discuss. So we will continue to discuss.”


Friday, November 22, 2013

President Goodluck Jonathan takes ill in London

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has been taken ill and given medical treatment while overseas, but his condition is not said to be serious.

The president was in London for a business meeting, but could not attend.

"The Presidency wishes to assure all Nigerians that President Jonathan's condition is nothing serious," his aide Reuben Abati said in a statement.

He said the medical attention sought by the 56-year-old president was "only precautionary".

Mr Jonathan has been president since 2010, when his predecessor died in office and he was promoted from vice-president.

In recent days he was forced to delay presenting the annual budget to the national assembly indefinitely due to disagreements between the executive and legislators.

Mr Jonathan is also facing serious divisions within his own party, as rival factions jockey for power ahead of the 2015 presidential poll.

He is also battling an Islamist uprising in the north of Nigeria which has killed thousands.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

About 200 Nigerian women illegally trafficked to Russia monthly

No fewer than 200 Nigerian girls are trafficked every month to Russia for prostitution, the nation’s ambassador to that country, Amb. Asam Asam has said.
Asam, who spoke against the backdrop of consular challenges faced by the embassy, disclosed this in an interview in Berlin.

Investigations reveal that the crime had decline in Western Europe following strict laws on illegal migration, and joint efforts by Nigeria and the governments of those countries to curb the menace.
However, attention has shifted to Eastern Europe as the new destination for the trade.

“The major consular challenge we face in Moscow is the influx of trafficked persons from Nigeria, not less than 200 girls are trafficked every month, and we have so many of them exposed to danger.
“Some are thrown out of the window and treated harshly, there must be a way of stopping these racketeering , these girls are not tourists, students or government officials yet they are given visas from the Russian embassy in Abuja”.

“So far we have deported over 240 girls since 2012, you will be shocked, at the extend of resistance from the girls, we tell them Russia is not a destination for prostitutes yet they still come” Asam said.
According to him, the mission tries to curb the menace by arranging deportation exercise for those caught, but the challenges are enormous.

The envoy said such intervention would be more effective at the point of entry “the strategy is to stop them from Nigeria, and fish out those involved in the trade.
“For instance a well known Russian human trafficker who has been in the trade for about 20 years was caught in Nigeria,’’

“The National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons( NAPTIP) was on the verge of releasing her before I filed a protest from Moscow to the Comptroller General of Immigration,” Asama stressed.

He said even the parents of those trafficked encourage their children:
“I spoke to the mother of one of the girls and she said her daughter should remain in Moscow and try to survive the ordeal, this is very sad indeed coming from one’s parent.’’

He tasked the media on sensitising the public on the dangers of trafficking in Russia,“this East European nation has become a new destination for them, and believe me it is a very big crime here.’’
Asam, however, said that other Nigerians who reside in that country were students, and professionals in various fields of human endeavours.


Related stories: Documentary about human trafficking between Nigeria and Italy

Video - Corporation helps develop music talent in Nigeria

Nigerian music has taken over from Congolese music as the most listened to across Africa. The Musical Society of Nigeria champions classical music. It teaches students to play a wide variety of instruments.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Thief sentenced to death by hanging for stealing phones

A High Court in Effurun, Delta State, has sentenced a 24-year-old secondary school student, Moses Akatugba, to death by hanging for stealing mobile phones and recharge cards, just as a commercial motorcyclist, popularly called ‘Okada’ was also jailed for 15 years imprisonment for robbing a female passenger of her mobile phone.

Akatugba was convicted on a two-count charge of conspiracy and armed robbery in contravention of Section 6 (b) and punishable under section 1 (2) (a) of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) Act Cap R11 Volume 14 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

The prosecution told the court that the convict with others now at large “robbed one Mrs. Akpor Mazino of the sum of N113,930, three phone handsets, 54 various denominations of MTN recharge vouchers, 28 Airtel vouchers and 25 Glo vouchers valued at over N100,000 at No. 30 NNPC Housing Complex Road,

The victim in her evidence gave a vivid account of how she was robbed of the items at her shop at gunpoint.

An Asaba High Court also yesterday sentenced a 30-year-old commercial motorcyclist, Paul Nwanegbo to 15 years imprisonment with hard labour for robbing a female passenger of her telephone handset. The incident, according to prosecution took place along Direct Labour Agency Road, Asaba, on October 5, 2011 before the ban on operation of commercial motorcyclists in Asaba metropolis and other designated cities.

The female passenger, Amaka Okafor told the court that on “realising the gun was a toy, I resisted him but he overpowered me after biting me with his teeth and snatched my phone from me.”

This Day

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Video - Nigeria and Italy draw 2-2 in Football friendly

Italy and Nigeria played out a thrilling 2-2 draw which included a goal-of-the-season contender from Shola Ameobi in an entertaining friendly at Fulham's Craven Cottage on Monday. Italy dominated the game but the African champions, who joined their opponents at next year's World Cup on Saturday, produced a few magical touches and defended superbly as the Italians pounded their goal in search of a late winner.

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli made eight changes from the team that drew 1-1 with Germany in a friendly on Friday and his side dominated the early stages after going ahead in the 12th minute when Mario Balotelli set up Giuseppe Rossi. Rossi, shrugging off a bout of tonsillitis, showed great composure to shift the ball from one foot to the other before scoring.

Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi made seven changes from the team which sealed their World Cup place by beating Ethiopia. The African side gradually played their way back into the game, Victor Moses troubling the Italian defence with bursts down both wings.

Nigeria equalised in the 35th minute when a deep raking cross from Ameobi was powerfully headed past goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu by Bright Dike. That meant that the first two goals were scored by two players born one day apart in the United States on February1 and February 2, 1987.

Rossi was born in New Jersey to Italian parents and Dike in Oklahoma to Nigerian parents. There was nothing strange about the third goal though - just sheer brilliance. Moses fed Francis Benjamin wide on the left with a perfect pass and his cross was volleyed in by the leaping Ameobi who slammed the ball into the net with the outside of his right foot.

Italy almost equalised when Balotelli lobbed the defence with an overhead kick, ran on to trap the ball and teed it up before volleying straight at goalkeeper Austine Ejide. Italy drew level just after halftime when Emanuele Giaccherini put the final touch to a fine move involving Rossi and Antonio Candreva, powerfully driving the ball past Ejide.

The introduction of the experienced Andrea Pirlo into midfield after 53 minutes tipped the balance Italy's way and they went close to a winner as substitutes Marco Parolo and Alessandro Diamanti hit the woodwork and Diamanti crashed a free kick against the bar. Italy have now only won one of their last 12 friendlies and drawn the last four.

The Star

Related stories: Nigeria beat Ethiopia in World Cup qualifier

Nigeria beat Mexico to win Under 17 World Cup

Monday, November 18, 2013

Video - Nigeria's improving stock exchange

Nigeria's stock exchange is said to be the second-fastest growing in Africa, thanks to reforms introduced after the 2010 stock market crash following fraud and reckless trading.

Investors are now flocking back to Nigeria and buying shares of local companies.

Many people credit this to work done by the director general of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Arunma Oteh, Nigeria's so called "iron lady".

Video - French hostage held for almost a year escapes in Nigeria

President Francois Hollande announced that Francis Collomp, 63, was free after being taken by Islamist militants on December 19, 2012, in the state of Katsina in northern Nigeria.

Collomp escaped in the northern city of Zaria on Saturday while his captors were praying, said Femi Adenaike Adeleye, the police commissioner in the regional capital of Kaduna.

"He watched his captors' prayer time. They always prayed for 15 minutes. And yesterday they did not lock the door to his cell," Adeleye said. "While they were at prayer he sneaked out and began to run."

Collomp stopped a motorcycle taxi and had it take him to the nearest police station, from where he was brought to Kaduna.

Adeleye said Collomp had been held in the city of Kano after his abduction and about two months ago brought to Zaria.

"He's hale and hearty," Adeleye said.

'Lost 30 kilos'

Collomp left Abuja on a flight for Paris late Sunday, accompanied by France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, a diplomatic source told AFP by telephone from the airport.

Didier Le Bret, the head of the French foreign ministry's crisis centre, earlier told AFP Collomp was "weakened" but in good enough health to travel.

He is expected to arrive in Paris around 6:00 am (0500 GMT) Monday where he will be met by the French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault.

Collomp "lost 30 kilos" (66 pounds) during his ordeal but was in a good mental state, Le Bret said.

"He expressed his wish to return to France and to be reunited with his family on the Island of Reunion," a French overseas territory, Le Bret added.

Wearing jeans and a light blue shirt, Collomp looked extremely tired as he emerged from the police station in Kaduna and was handed over to French embassy officials.

News of his freedom came amid an emotional roller-coaster in France in the last three weeks over foreign hostages.

The nation rejoiced in late October when four ex-hostages flew home from Niger after more than three years in captivity, but within less than a week was in mourning for two radio journalists abducted and killed by extremist rebels in Mali.

Then last week a Roman Catholic priest, 42-year-old Georges Vandenbeusch, was kidnapped in northern Cameroon and reportedly taken by Islamist militants to Nigeria.

France now has seven hostages officially being held abroad, including the priest, four journalists in Syria and two people taken in Mali.

In a statement on Collomp's release, Hollande thanked Nigerian authorities for their "decisive action" in the case.

A French source close to the case said Collomp had escaped during a Nigerian army operation against extremist militants, but Adeleye did not confirm this.

Hollande later said he was "proud" of Collomp and the "exceptional courage" he had shown in seizing the moment of his escape.

Collomp was kidnapped by about 30 armed men who attacked the residence of French firm Vergnet, the company for which he is working, in the state of Katsina on the border with Niger.

The kidnapping, which left two bodyguards and a bystander dead, was claimed by Nigerian radical Islamist group Ansaru, which has links to extremist group Boko Haram.

Family's 'great relief'

"I was speechless, it still does not feel real," Collomp's wife Anne-Marie told journalists outside her home in Reunion after learning of his release.

"The sadness is finally over with, I'm happy, but I'm also thinking of those who are still being held hostage," she said.

Friends and family later converged on her home, where an impromptu party broke out and Anne-Marie danced with a picture of her husband in one hand and a glass of champagne in the other.

Reached by telephone at his home near the southern French city of Aix-en-Provence, Collomp's brother Denis also said his release was a "great relief" for his family.

Ansaru in late September released a video of Collomp reading a statement, in which he could be heard calling for his "safe release".


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Video - Nigeria beat Ethopia in World Cup qualifier

NIGERIA Vs Ethiopia 2-0 - Victor Moses Goal 16/11/2013 World Cup 2013 Qualifiers Victor Moses Goal Nigeria Vs Ethiopia 16 11 2013 World Cup 2013 Qualifiers.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

U.S. lists Boko Haram as terrorist group

The US state department is expected to designate the Nigerian Islamist militant group, Boko Haram, as a foreign terrorist organisation.

The move means US regulatory agencies are instructed to block business and financial transactions with Boko Haram.

It will become a crime under US law to provide material support to the group.

Boko Haram wants to impose Islamic law in northern Nigeria and has been blamed for thousands of deaths.

The group began its insurgency in 2009, and targets both the military and civilians, including schools, and frequently clashes with the Nigerian armed forces.

While Boko Haram's main focus is Nigeria, the US has cited links to the al-Qaeda affiliate in West Africa, and extremist groups in Mali.

The US state department has not formally announced its decision to brand the group a terrorist organisation.

However, the Associated Press news agency cited an unnamed US official, whilst Reuters quoted congressional sources and others briefed on the matter.

Nigeria's government declared Boko Haram and another militant group Ansaru as terrorist organisations in June, warning that anyone who helps them will face a minimum prison sentence of 20 years.

The BBC's Nigeria analyst, Naziru Mikailu, says the US's decision will be welcomed by the Nigerian government and the Christian Association of Nigeria, which has long been campaigning for the US to declare Boko Haram a terrorist group. The Obama administration had so far refused, fearing that it could give Boko Haram greater legitimacy in global jihadi circles, our correspondent says.

The US is unlikely to identify Boko Haram's financial backers, when the Nigerian government has up to now failed to do so, he says.

Last year, top US diplomat for Africa Johnnie Carson said Boko Haram exploited popular discontent in northern Nigeria, and the government needed to tackle the political and economic grievances of the mainly Muslim population in the region.

However, Mr Carson acknowledged "reports of contact and growing relationships between elements of Boko Haram and other extremists in Africa, including al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb".

In August 2011, an attack on a UN building in Abuja, Nigeria, marked a turning point as a threat to US interests.

Last year, Lisa Monaco - now the chief counter-terrorism adviser to President Barack Obama - sent a letter to the state department saying Boko Haram met the criteria to be listed as a "foreign terrorist" group because, she said, it either engages in terrorism that threatens the US or has a capability or intent to do so.

The state department later designated three alleged Boko Haram leaders as terrorists, but stopped short of a wider declaration against the group.


Video - Africa's richest man Aliko Dangote signs deal to build oil refinery

Africa's wealthiest man, Aliko Dangote, has signed a multi-billion dollar deal with banks to finance the building of an oil refinery in Nigeria.The refinery would be the largest in Africa, turning Nigeria into a petroleum exporter, he told the BBC.Nigeria is Africa's biggest oil producer but lacks refining capacity and has to import most of its fuel.The West African state is often hit by fuel shortages, and conflict over control of its oil wealth.Mr Dangote told the BBC's Chris Ewokor that job creation is the most important thing.

Related stories: Aliko Dangote makes Forbes list of most powerful people in the world

Dangote group to create more employment opportunities in Nigeria 

Documentary on Nigeria's out of control oil industry

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Video - kidnapped American sailors released

The two men were the captain and chief engineer of the US-flagged C-Retriever oil supply ship, it says.

State department spokeswoman Jen Psaki declined to provide any details how the sailors were released.

Incidents of piracy off Nigeria's coast have increased this year as gangs try to snatch cargoes from ships passing through the Gulf of Guinea.

Ransom payments
The C-retriever was stormed by gunmen on 23 October near the coastal town of Brass in Nigeria's oil rich Bayelsa State.

The captain and the chief engineer - whose names have not been released - where then led away by the attackers.

No group has said it carried out the attack.

The International Maritime Bureau has recorded more than 40 attacks in the area this year with 132 crew taken hostage. The gangs usually target the oil vessels to steal the cargo.

It is estimated that oil product worth approximately $100m (approximately £62m) has been stolen since 2010.

In recent months there have been numerous kidnappings of foreign oil workers and wealthy Nigerians, especially in the oil-producing Niger Delta region.

They have often been held until a ransom payment is made and then released unharmed.


Monday, November 11, 2013

President Goodluck Jonathan gives cash reward to under-17 World Cup winners

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan on Sunday announced cash rewards to the victorious Golden Eaglets and their handlers for winning the Under-17 World Cup.

The Nigerian team beat Mexico 3-0 on Friday in Abu Dhabi to emerge as winners for a record fourth time.

Jonathan doled out two million naira (12,400 dollars) for each of the players, three million naira and 2.5 million naira for the head coach and his assistant.

Other officials got between 300,000 and 500,000 naira each.

"You won fairly and convincingly and we are very proud of you," Jonathan told the team at a reception in Abuja.

"This victory is for the whole of Africa and the beginning of a new era in the revival of the nation's competitive spirit," he said.

"Within just seven months, the team has transformed themselves from being second best in Africa to being the best in the world," he added.


Nigerian sex-traffickers arrested in Spain

Spanish police say they have arrested 25 people in a sex-trafficking ring that brought women from Nigeria to work as prostitutes.

The women, allegedly lured with the promise of good jobs in Europe, were first flown to Mexico or Brazil, travelling on false identity documents.

From there, they were flown to Paris, then smuggled into Spain to work in the sex trade, police say.

Five women who were victims of the sex ring were freed in the raids.

Police found one member of the gang performing an abortion on one of the five women, reports the BBC's Madrid correspondent, Tom Burridge.

Hidden goods
Arrests were made across Spain - in Madrid, Toledo, Cantabria and Palma de Mallorca.
More than 100 vans concealing luxury goods were also seized.

The gang used the vans to launder their profits and send them back to Lagos, police say.

The vans, with dark-tinted windows and welded doors, were stocked full of beer but had luxury items hidden deeper inside.

Goods worth an estimated 5m euros (£4.1m; $6.6m) were found in 94 vans seized in Madrid and another 26 in the port of Valencia, including high-end televisions and cases of alcohol.

Police say the gang was formed more than 20 years ago in Nigerian universities and was also known for sending so-called Nigerian letters by email, asking recipients to send money.

Eight of the 25 people arrested were in Spain illegally, they say.


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Nigeria beat Mexico to win under 17 World Cup

Nigeria won the Under-17 World Cup for a record fourth time on Friday with a 3-0 win over champions Mexico.

Erick Aguirre's own goal put the Golden Eaglets in front in Abu Dhabi.
The Nigerians doubled their lead with a tap in from Kelechi Iheanacho before captain Musa Mohamed's free kick sealed the win.

Nigeria also picked up the tournament's fair-play award and Dele Alampasu was awarded the Golden Glove for being the best goalkeeper.

The first goal came after nine minutes from a Nigerian counter-attack moments after the Mexicans had threatened at the other end.

The Golden Eaglets broke quickly to create a three-against-one situation, and as Musa Yahaya was about to pull the trigger, Aguirre's attempted clearance ended up in his own net.

Yahaya nearly doubled the lead in the 39th minute but his shot crashed against the bar.
Moments later, Taiwo Awoniyi tried a spectacular overhead kick but it went straight into the arms Raul Gudino in the Mexican goal.

Mexico threatened the Nigerian goal a couple of times in the first half but found Alampasu in inspired form.

The Mexicans pressed early in the second half but it was Nigeria who doubled their lead when Gudino parried a long range shot into the path of Kelechi Iheanacho, who tapped in for his sixth goal of the tournament.

With 15 minutes left on the clock, the Mexicans had a great chance to score but Ivan Ochoa headed wide.

The title was sealed when captain Mohamed curled a free kick round the wall from the edge of the area with nine minutes left.

The victory in the United Arab Emirates caps a successful year for Nigeria after the senior team won the Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa in January.


Friday, November 8, 2013

Video - Nigeria Universities 4 month strike - no sign of ending soon

Video - Shell denies it lied about oil spills in Nigeria

Oil giant Shell is denying Amnesty International accustations that it's manipulating information about oil spills in Nigeria.Instead it accuses the local population of stealing oil from pipelines, a charge rejected by locals.

Related stories: Video - Documentary on Nigeria's out of control oil industry

Video - Nigerian farmer wins case against shell

Nigerian and Swiss oil firms indicted in fraud

The deep-rooted corruption in the downstream sector of Nigeria’s oil and gas industry has been the subject of an international probe, as a Swiss non-governmental organisation, the Berne Declaration, has released a report that has indicted Nigerian oil marketing companies for widespread subsidy fraud, involving several billion of dollars.

The latest report titled “Swiss Traders’ Opaque Deals in Nigeria,” also accused the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) of colluding with international oil traders to defraud the country.

The report further revealed that Nigeria’s Sahara Energy, Rahamaniyya Group, Aiteo Energy Resources Limited, Ontario Oil and Gas Limited, Tridax Energy, Mezcor Limited and MRS Group had established subsidiaries, called letter-box companies, in Geneva, Switzerland, with no real business activities.

The report noted that these companies established the subsidiaries, primarily for tax advantages and also for easy access to international capital.

Ironically, four of the companies – Sahara Energy, Rahamaniyya, Aiteo Energy and MRS – were investigated by the House of Representatives Ad Hoc Committee that probed the subsidy scheme and the two committees headed by the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Access Bank Plc, Mr. Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, but they were absolved of complicity in the subsidy fraud.

The directors of Ontario Oil and Gas, led by the company’s chairman Walter Wagbatsoma, were, however, prosecuted for subsidy fraud, with their case still pending in a Lagos High Court.

Investigations further showed that Tridex Energy, a company with no track record in the oil and gas sector, was only registered less than three years ago. It is owned by a US-based lawyer, Donald Chidi Amamegbo, who attended the same university – Howard University – in Washington DC, with the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.

Citing Geneva as a “haven for Nigerian fraudsters”, the report said beyond the role played by Swiss traders in the subsidy scam in Nigeria, there was a link between these seven Nigerian companies, which were suspected of having participated in the subsidy fraud and their subsidiaries in Geneva.
“Although most serve only as letter-box companies, they have listed, without any inspection, in the trade register,” said the report.

Several of these companies, according to the report, have no real activities in Switzerland and have contented themselves with an address in a fiduciary or lawyer’s office.

The report also detailed the connections between the Geneva subsidiaries and the fact that they are being criticised in Nigeria within the context of the fraud concerning the subsidies for the import of petroleum products.

“A first fraud plan consists in receiving subsidy on a cargo, while physically importing only a part of it; the balance is thus exported on the international markets or sold locally on the black market, and constitutes an illegal profit.

“Sometimes, the subsidies have been received, while not a single drop of petrol has been imported. Another technique consists in falsifying the maritime documents, in particular the date, to choose a day when the price is higher than the price actually paid.

“The balance goes back into the pocket of the importer,” the report said.
Citing the two subsidy probe reports of both the House of Representatives and Imoukhuede’s committees, the Swiss report said around 70 marketers were suspected of having taken part in the massive subsidy fraud.

The Berne Declaration affirmed that of the seven of these marketers, with subsidiaries in Geneva, only one marketer was the object of proceedings in Nigeria.

Referring to the report of the Imoukhuede Presidential Committee on Verification of Subsidy Payments, which was the third subsidy probe report that exonerated most of the firms, the Swiss report said: “Perhaps this is because a third report, also instituted by the presidency, exonerated majority of the major firms of all misappropriation, judging as ‘legitimate’ all the questionable transactions cited in the two previous reports.

“Curiously, the auditors, who worked in a hurry, do not explain in what way the transactions were ‘legitimate’.”

The Swiss report pointedly said Rahamaniyya Group has had a subsidiary in Geneva, Rahamaniyya Oil and Gas SA, since October 2010, also domiciled C/O Nimex Petroleum, which seems to be acting as an incubator for fraudsters.

Ontario Oil and Gas Limited is also said to have a subsidiary called, Ontario Trading, domiciled C/O Nimex Petroleum, but the subsidiary is currently under liquidation.
Sahara Energy also has a subsidiary, Sahara Energy International Pte Limited, with the primary objective of supplying services to Sahara Group.

Aiteo Energy Resources Limited also had a subsidiary, Aiteo Suisse AG, in Switzerland.
The report further accused NNPC of colluding with Swiss international traders to siphon billions of dollars, stressing that Nigeria is the only major producing country that sells 100 per cent of its crude oil to private traders, rather than marketing it itself and benefitting from the resulting added value.

Vitol, Trafigura, Mercuria and Gunvor are some of the Swiss commodity traders cited as NNPC’s accomplices. Others include Arcadia Energy or Nimex Petroleum, though smaller companies and less visible than bigger trading giants.

According to the report, the opaque partnership between NNPC and the Swiss oil traders ensures that the profit generated by these entities escapes state coffers, first, because no taxation in Bermuda, where Trafigura and Vitol, two of the largest traders, are registered, is paid.

The report goes on to say that these sums are by no means trivial, adding, "By way of example, in 2011 the amount withheld from state coffers came to $8.739 billion. The public coffers were directly penalised: the same year, the revenues from oil fell by 39 per cent against the amount budgeted. And this is despite a rise in the price of oil."

The report attributed this to the unilateral retention of revenues which should have accrued to the federal government from the export of crude oil allocated to refineries.

The report alleged that a number of beneficiaries of export allocations letter-box companies “whose sole merit is that they are linked to high-ranking political officials or their entourage.”
The second problem identified by the Swiss report is that Swiss traders do not acquire Nigeria’s crude oil based on public and transparent calls for tender, “which would guarantee to the Nigerian population that its oil is sold at the best price.”

On the contrary, the report said each year, the NNPC grants the allocation of exports under obscure conditions and on the basis of criteria that are unknown outside the restricted circle of decision makers.

This Day

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Video - Diplomatic war between Nigeria and India over death of Nigerian

A week after a Nigerian national was murdered in Goa, allegedly linked to a war between two gangs involved in drug trafficking, Nigerian ambassador Ndubuisi Vitus Amaku said, "We are being given the impression that the murder of this person is not important to you, your only concern is that of your own people."

Related story: Nigeria threatens to throw Indians out of the county in response to Goa crackdown

Video - Nigeria to improve mortgage financing system

Related story: Video - Nigeria experiencing property boom

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Video - Nigeria experiencing property boom

Nigeria experiencing property boom.

Video - Nigeria's economy to overtake South Africa to become largest in Africa

Nigeria revises economic data and will displace S.A. as Africa's largest economy.

Nigeria to encourage more women into information and communication technology

Nigeria has launched the “SmartWoman Nigeria” and “1000 Girls in Training” programmes to encourage more female participation and skills development in ICT.

Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Technology (FMCT) on Monday partnered with Huawei, a leading global ICT solutions provider to kick-start the “1000 Girls in Training” Programme.

Within a year, the three-day programme is expected to train 1000 unemployed girls in Telecommunication Networks, Transmission Network and GSM, LTE, WCDMA and other ICT skills – which will enhance their employment opportunities.

On completion of the first phase which began on Monday, the top 200 students will be trained to become Huawei Certified Network Associates.

The Ministry also launched the “SmartWoman Nigeria” initiative in collaboration with US-based social enterprise, ChangeCorp and WIMBIZ to empower Nigerian women and girls in ICT.

“Smart Woman Nigeria” is targeted at low- to middle-income urban and high-income rural women business owners to help them harness the power of mobile communication tools provided by ICTs in the areas of communication, banking, finance, health, and family work/life balance issues.

Featured at the first meeting of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development Working Group on Gender in Mexico City, the SmartWoman initiative was developed by US based social enterprise, ChangeCorp.

Speaking at the launching of the programmes, Nigeria’s Minister of Communication Technology, Omobola Johnson said it is time to remove gender imbalance in ICT adoption and appropriation.

According to her, ICTs have the transforming power to accelerate the development of women by helping them to be more efficient and effective in their jobs, careers, and businesses and to generate new employment opportunities.

She posits that through software development and innovation, ICT has the unlimited potential to significantly contribute to increasing the social welfare of women.

Vice President of Huawei West Africa, Hover Gao, corroborated the Minister saying: “The programme was part of Huawei’s commitment to localisation, technology transferring to Nigeria and employment promotion.”

Gao said “Huawei and FMCT orientation programme on ICT Basic Knowledge for female students is not a one time off event. On the contrary, Huawei and FMCT will develop this campaign into a long-term project.”

“The training also enables us to create an ICT talents pool and some of the trainees will become Huawei employees”, he added.

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s communucations and technology Ministry also plans to launch the ICT Girls Clubs by January, 2014, in partnership with two recognized NGOs (Women in Technology in Nigeria WITIN and Women Empowerment Centre WTEC) in selected schools across the country’s six geo-political zones.

Its goal is to ensure more girls embrace and adopt careers in ICTs.

The Clubs will teach animation, website development, blogging, software development, graphics design, games, computer programming.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Stable electricity supply foreseeable in Nigeria's future

With the successful handover of the successor electricity generation and distribution companies to private operators last Friday, Chika Amanze-Nwachuku and Chineme Okafor are of the view that Nigerian households and businesses should look forward to stable electricity in the foreseeable future.

A series of power sector polls conducted by NOI Polls Ltd for the second quarter of 2013 revealed that about 130 million, representing 81 per cent, out of the 160 million Nigerians generated their own electricity through alternative sources to make up for irregular power supply.

The study also showed a combined average of 69 per cent or 110 million of Nigerians experienced greater spending on alternative electricity supply.

Nigeria's electricity crisis has been a bane of its economic growth as many industries had either shut down or relocated to neighbouring countries due to the worsening power woes. But while manufacturing companies and other small businesses spend fortune to generate own power, pushing up costs and eating into profits, generator dealers in the country have been the beneficiaries of the rots in the power sector because almost every business and household in the country patronises them.
A recent statistics on use of generating sets in the country released by the Director-General of Centre for Management Development, Dr. Kabir Usman, revealed that about 60 million Nigerians spent N1.6 trillion on generators annually.

Usman, who spoke at the launch of the National Power Training Institute of Nigeria (NAPTIN) graduate skills development programme in Abuja disclosed that Nigeria topped the countries that use standby generators.
The DG also observed that the poorest Nigerians paid more than N80/kwh burning candles, kerosene and firewood while manufacturing companies spend between N45 and N60 per kilowatt hour (kwh) on diesel to run their generators.
The problems associated with use of generators are many and varied. Aside from the noise pollution, it is the cause of many deaths in Nigeria due to the carbon monoxide emission.

Little wonder that Nigerians, who long desired stable electricity for their homes and businesses, have lauded last week’s handover of power utilities to private entities. Their expectation is that the takeover of management of Nigeria’s electricity industry by private investors will substantially boost electricity supply and make the country commercially viable.
However, attaining self-sufficiency in electricity supply and distribution may take a little time, because the barriers must be removed and key enablers provided for it to happen. For instance, the issue of inadequate gas, poor transmission network and vandalism/theft of power equipment must be addressed for the power reform to achieve its objectives.

Vandalism of Power Assets

Over the years, theft/vandalism of electricity equipment had been the major hindrance to sustainable electric power delivery in Nigeria.
Former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company, Fatai Rotimi Onanuga, in a paper he presented at a special seminar for judges in Calabar last year, revealed that annual losses recorded by electricity distribution companies owing to theft of electricity assets, were more than enough to build power generation plants with additional 20,000 megawatts (MW) generation capacities.

Onanuga said what had been lost to theft in three years was equivalent to 60,000MW, which he said was enough to meet national energy demand.
He said electricity thefts were committed when consumers and utility staff resort to unlawful direct hooking from line; bypassing energy meter; injecting foreign elements into the energy meter; drilling holes in electro-mechanical meter; or assigning illegal amount of energy units to consumers.

Also, at the recent commissioning of the 2x60MVA, 132/33kV transmission substation constructed in Karu, Abuja by the World Bank under its National Energy Development Project (NEDP) framework, Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, had said vandalism of power assets was taken a very worrisome dimension and government spends a fortune to fix affected equipment.
Nebo said small fittings of about N12,000 stolen by these thieves, destroyed power equipment that will now cost the government millions of naira to fix in the Ikeja area of Lagos.

In Akpaka, a residential suburb in Onitsha, Anambra state, the landlords were said to have constituted themselves into illegal energy vendors by defrauding and tampering with electricity installations, which they ought to safeguard. The situation was brought to the attention of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) recently by aggrieved residents who thronged the venue of the just concluded Power Consumer Assembly (PCA) of NERC. A similar thing happened in 2012 at the CITEC Mbora estate in Abuja.
It is feared that vandalism and theft pose serious challenges to the new investors and actions must be stepped up to check them. Therefore, new owners of the power assets should find sustainable means of tackling these menace, which result in system disintegration and eventual loss of capacities.

Concerns over gas, transmission
Energy experts have continued to express worries that inadequate gas supply and poor transmission also posed serious threats to the power reforms. Managing Director, Seacorf Engineering Limited, Mr. Charles Fashola, commented last week that the issue of inappropriate commercial pricing deterred gas producers from investing in the country.
Speaking in the same vein, an energy consultant, Mr. Danladi Bako, attributed Nigeria’s inability to realise stable power supply to obsolete transmission and distribution systems. These issues were also raised last month by Chairman of the Technical Committee of the National Council on Privatisation (NCP), Mr. Atedo Peterside, who cautioned that Nigeria’s aspiration to achieve steady power supply after the power sector assets handover might be hampered unless urgent steps were not taken to address the problem of weak transmission and inadequate gas.

Peterside had expressed concern that transmission, which is the ‘life-blood’ of the entire electricity eco-system, was potentially the weakest link currently, and could cause a very big crisis by 2014, when more power plants would have come on stream.
FG Calls for Patience
The Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Mr. Benjamin Dikki, confirmed the problem of inadequate gas at a recent breakfast meeting of the Lagos Business School, where he also appealed for understanding among Nigerians as the power sector reform would not bring about immediate changes.

The DG explained that investments in the power sector would take time to achieve results because construction of new generation capacity alone would take between two-five years to achieve most of the results envisaged.
He noted that the bulk of electricity generated in the country was through gas-fired plants, but the country at present, did not have the capacity to supply enough gas to support the envisaged increased capacity as the private sector takes over power generation and distribution.

Dikki said Nigeria’s abundant gas resources needed to be harnessed for power generation and called for strong incentives and support from the government to encourage the private sector investments in gas to boost power supply in the post privatisation era.
He however expressed optimism that with the power sector in private hands, Nigerian would benefit from increased power supply and a boost in agricultural and industrial development among other positive developments.

This Day

Monday, November 4, 2013

Nigeria threatens to throw Indians out of the country in response to Goa crackdown

Nigeria will throw thousands of Indians residing there on the streets, if the Goa government does not stop evicting Nigerians living in the tourist state, their consular official has warned, even as the Goa government’s crackdown on the African community has threatens to start a diplomatic row. Consular attaché to the Nigerian embassy in New Delhi, Jacob Nwadadia told Firstpost on Monday afternoon that if the police did not stop evicting Nigerian nationals from their homes forcibly, by 9 pm (India Standard Time), then “thousands of Indian nationals living in Nigeria will be thrown on the streets too”.

The warning comes after ministers of the Goa government including the chief minister himself and the state administration cracked down on the African community, after over 200 Nigerians blockaded a national highway for hours on Thursday following the murder of their compatriot. According to chief minister Manohar Parrikar the murder was a result of a war between two narcotics peddling gangs.

Parrikar also said that antecedents and documents of all foreign nationals living in Goa would be verified, the police as well as BJP workers have unleashed a campaign of terror on Nigerians, evicting them from their rented homes. “There are only 50,000 Nigerians living in India, but there are over one million Indians living in Nigeria,” Jacob said, making the none-too-discreet threat. Jacob said that he had been instructed by the Nigerian ambassador in New Delhi to convey the caution to the Goa government in no uncertain terms.

Jacob said that Nigeria was five hours behind India, and that the deadline given to the Goa government was 9 pm. “When it is 9 pm in India, it would be 4 pm in Nigeria. If the eviction does not stop, then we will take similar action in Nigeria,” said Jacob, who met Nigerians, police as well as district administration officials through Sunday and Monday.

Jacob also said that he would revoke hundreds of visas of Indians in Nigeria in reciprocation to the action against Nigerians in Goa. The police action against Nigerians aside the manner in which they have been referred to by Goa’s lawmakers, including the chief minister himself borders on racism. While Goa’s minister for culture and art Dayanand Mandrekar likened Nigerians to cancer, another BJP legislator Subhash Phaldesai said that their behaviour was similar “wild animals”, who were pumped with drugs. Parrikar himself, while addressing a press conference said that Nigerians are “huge” and “aggressive”, while defending the inability of the police to nip the Thursday’s highway blockade in the bud.

First Post

Boko Haram massacre 30 in wedding convoy

Gunmen suspected to be Boko Haram members have ambushed a convoy of vehicles conveying people returning from a wedding ceremony, killing scores of them, including the groom in Bulakuri village, Borno State.

The fate of the bride and her family members was unknown as of Sunday when Adamawa State Government Spokesman, Ahmad Sajoh, confirmed the incident to the Associated Press.

Although Sajoh said the wedding fatiha, the official Muslim ceremony, took place in Firgi village in Borno State, the Agence France Presse reported that it held in Michika, Adamawa State.

The two news agencies however put the casualty figure at 30 but an Army spokesman, Captain Muhammed, said it was five.

“The report received from our troops indicated that some terrorists attacked a bus at Bulakuri village and killed five persons ,” Dole said in a statement on Sunday evening, adding that the bodies were taken to a mortuary in Bama.

According to some of the survivors, they were attacked along the Bama-Banki Road.

That road runs alongside a forest that is a known hideout of Boko Haram terrorists.

A driver, Kyari Buba, who told the AFP that he was in the middle of the convoy of about five vehicles when the gunmen struck, added that he saw more than 30 dead bodies on the side of the road.

He said,” I was in the middle of the convoy when the gunmen attacked and I was able to stop my vehicle on time to open the door and run into the bush along with the people I was with.

“When we returned long after the gunmen were gone, we met a gory scene with more than 30 people shot dead or slaughtered.

“All the victims were brutally murdered by the attackers.”

Another survivor and friend of the groom, Japhet Haruna, recounted his escape from the assailants.

He said, “I wonder how I and few other people survived the onslaught because it was well-coordinated. I was in the fifth vehicle in the convoy and when I realised that the attackers were out to kill, I ran into the bush.

“I believe it is God that saved me and (a) few others from their bullets. They targeted everybody in the convoy - Muslims, Christians and children.”

Haruna said there were about 50 people in the convoy and that he suspected Boko Haram to have carried out the attack.

The AP also quoted a minibus taxi driver as saying, “We saw a lot of dead bodies killed by gunshots and some by the roadside that appeared to have been slaughtered” with their throats slit.The driver, who asked to be identified only as Shaibu, told journalists in Maiduguri on Sunday, that his terrified passengers wanted him to turn back.

Saturday’s ambush came just over a week after suspected Boko Haram fighters launched a coordinated assault on security forces in Damaturu, Yobe State.

Thirty-five bodies in military uniform were brought to a morgue following the October 24 attack.

Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, had in a new video claimed that he led the attack.

“Look at what happened in Damaturu,” he said, adding that “since we killed them with our hands- in fact, I was the commander of the operation- you cannot say I’m making conjecture.”

Figures released earlier this year said the Boko Haram conflict had cost more than 3,600 lives, including killings by the security forces.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

25 dead in Church stampede in Nigeria

No fewer than 25 persons were reported dead and many others injured following a stampede that erupted during the crusade.
Anambra State Governor Peter Obi who was accompanied to the crusade by 10 others, including the All Progressive Grand Alliance National Chairman Victor Umeh and APGA governorship candidate Willie Obiano among others would have been caught in the stampede if not for the fact that the team left at 3.30 am shortly before the close of the crusade at about 5:08 am.
About 25 persons were confirmed dead by 3 pm yesterday.

Eyewitnesses said trouble started shortly after the event when the congregation was leaving as a group of people started shouting “Fire’ Fire, Fire,” which immediately sent people scampering for safety.
Some, however, believe the commotion was deliberately organised by some people who felt Governor Obi was still at the crusade, even though he had already left the venue quietly.

The casualties were said to be many because the number of crusaders, according to sources, got to around 100,000 because the day was All Saints’ Day and the first day of the month which so many people usually take advantage of to pray for the new month.
Following the sad development, Obi immediately cancelled all his engagements, including campiagn flag-off at Nsugbe, live radio programme at Silverbird, flag-off of road projects, inspection of the ongoing shopping mall at Onitsha and ongoing stadium at Awka, the state capital.

The governor was the first person to visit the Adoration Ground with security agents immediately he got wind of the stampede.
The two Deputy Inspector Generals of Police visiting the state, P I Leha and Kachi Udeogu, accompanied by the state’s Commissioner of Police, Bala Nassarawa, also visited the scene of the accident.

Speaking with journalists, Obi said he attended the vigil on the invitation of the Rev. Father in charge of the adoration, Rev. Obimma.
"I noticed something unusual; when I wanted to speak, a group of people started shouting somebody's name. I had to curtail them and said we are here to worship. I was here with a team of about ten people. I have my immediate senior sister who is a reverend sister. At the time I left everything was normal, there was no incident," Obi said.

On those allegedly shouting fire, fire, he said, "I don't think there was fire. Nobody saw any vehicle that got burnt. I have always said that people should try and live a decent life, do things properly. I have been to other crusade before. I stay up to five hours. That was how long I stayed at this one before I left."

Asked whether he suspected any foul play, he said "if people have started shouting fire, where is the fire? People had done similar thing before (at Adoration Ground in Enugu) and people lost their lives. We can't continue like this. It's unfair. "
Udeogu said: "There was no security measure that was neglected. From what I heard, the incident took place when people were going away. Normally if you want to secure a place, you secure the perimeters of the worship centre but you can't police the road. Initially, I thought it was a cathedral with limited access to exit if there was an emergency, but you can see from here that if there is an emergency, people will melt away, there is no restraint here.

"But like the governor had said, we shall fish out those who were shouting fire, fire when there was no fire. Certainly those that were involved, we would unearth them. People will talk and we will hear."

At the Borromeo Hospital, Onitsha, most of the injured victims who were rushed there had recovered.
From there, the governor visited the Crown Hospital, Nkpor to see the injured, most of whom had also left by then.
He directed the names of all those injured to be compiled for him.

Meanwhile, Obi has said a panel of enquiry will be set up immediately to ascertain the immediate and remote causes of the incident.
Obiano has also condoled the families of those who lost loved ones in the stampede.

In a statement by his Media Assistant James Eze, the APGA candidate described the incident as “unfortunate and depressing,” wondering why politics in the state should degenerate to a level where worshippers no longer feel safe to worship in a sacred place as an Adoration Ground."

This Day