Friday, January 31, 2014

Video - Nigerian economy growing despite epileptic power supply

Related stories: Stable electricity supply foreseeable in Nigeria's future

Nigeria fines shell $11.3 billion for damages caused in Bonga oil spill

Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the National Oil Spill Response and Emergency Agency, (NOSREA), have ordered Shell to pay N1.84 trillion, as fines and compensation for the 2011 Bonga oil spill incident.

The Director General of NIMASA, Mr. Patrick Akpobolokemi said at the public hearing organised by the House of Representatives Committee on Environment, that NIMASA calculated a total of $6.5 billion, about N1.04 trillion, as compensation to be paid to the communities affected by the spill.

The Director General of NOSREA, Mr. Peter Idabo, also said the agency fined Shell $5billion, which is about N800 billion, for the oil spill incident.

The NIMASA boss alleged that Shell tried as much as possible to frustrate the agency’s moves to get to the site of the spill, adding that the agency had to step in immediately after the spill by providing some stop gap measures such as relief materials to some of the communities.

Daily Times

Thursday, January 30, 2014

PDP senators make exodus to APC

Eleven Senators in Nigeria, elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, have defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

A formal letter to this effect has been delivered to the Senate President, David Mark, on Wednesday and it is expected to be read on the floor of the Senate.

The Senators that defected to the APC are; Umaru Dahiru from Sokoto South, Magnus Ngei Abe from Rivers South-East, Wilson Asinobi Ake from Rivers West, Bindawa Muhammed Jibrilla from Adamawa North and Mohammed Danjuma Goje from Gombe Central.

Others are Aisha Jummai Alhassan from Taraba North, Mohammed Ali Ndume from Borno South, Mohammed Shaba Lafiaji from Kwara North, Abdulahi Adamu from Nasarawa West and Ibrahim Abdullahi Gobir from Sokoto East.

A list attached to the letter sent to the Senate president contained 16 names but only 11 signed, indicating their intention to defect.

The other Senators in the list that did not sign are; Ahmed Muhammed Maccido from Sokoto North, Saidu Ahmed Alkali from Gombe North, Basheer Garba Mohammed from Kano Central, Ahmed Zanna from Borno Central and Ahmed Hassan Barata from Adamawa South.

There are chances that more Senators will defect to the APC as it was not clear why the five Senators did not sign.

Thinking Of What To Gain

A political analyst and lawyer, Osahon Ihehene, said there was no ideology behind the defections, as they were all triggered by selfish interest.

“The politicians are defecting for their personal interest they are selfish people. It has practically nothing for the Nigerian electorates.

“The man feels his interest would not be protected in the party he is at the moment and he decides to move. All they are doing is trying to protect their own interests.

“There is no difference between PDP and APC. The only thing that joined them is just selfish interest and corruption and nothing more,” the lawyer said.

He said that section 68 of the Nigerian Constitution stipulated that a lawmaker can only defect to another party where there is division in a party or merger of two political parties.

Mr Ihehene insisted that what the lawmakers were playing out was selfishness, saying that “everybody is just thinking of what he can gain”.


Nigeria lose to Ghana in CHAN semi-final

Ten-man Ghana booked a date with Libya in the African Nations Championship with a 4-1 penalty shoot-out victory over Nigeria at the Bloemfontein Stadium after regulation time ended 0-0.

The much anticipated clash between the West African rivals began on a very competitive note with the Black Stars going for the attack right from the blast of Referee Sikazwe’s whistle.

Ghana launched the first real threat as Seidu Bansey eased past two Nigerian defenders to hit his shot at Chigozie Agbim’s goal but his effort went just wide.

In the fourth minute, the stadium was thrown into confusion as Nigeria’s stand-out man in the competition Ejike Uzoenyi went unconscious after a collision with a Ghanaian defender in an attempt to win an aerial ball.

The Black Stars were in cruise control for more than 15 minutes of the first half but rarely threatened the Nigerian goalkeeper thanks to a more composed defence anchored by Kunle Odunlami.

The Super Eagles' first chance to score came in the 10th minute when Abubakar Ibrahim almost converted a free kick taken following Yahaya Mohammed’s foul on Abdullahi Shehu.

Few minutes later - in the 26th minute to be precise - Nigeria very nearly went ahead through Abdulahi as his long range missile bounced off the Ghanaian cross bar – a result of a counter-attacking move orchestrated by Ugonna Uzochukwu after the Black Stars’ corner was cleared away by Azubuike Egwuekwe.

Ghana looked weighed down by the almost tangible sense of expectancy among a partisan crowd packed into the Blomfontein Stadium as dangerman Uzoenyi mesmerized Michael Akuffo's anchored backline.

On resumption of the second half, Nigeria looked more dangerous in attack but failed to convert chances that came their way as they wide of Stephen Adams’s goal.

Maxwell Konadu’s men were reduced to 10 in the 64thminute as Kwabena Adusei got his second caution of the night following a rough challenge on Nigeria’s Abubakar.

Keshi brought on Barnabas Imenger for Ifeanyi Ede who had a below par performance to take advantage of the opponent’s deficit but the Black Stars looked rock-solid as they thwarted every attacking moves of the Eagles.

With both sides horribly devoid of ideas, extra time appeared inevitable. Imenger was the culprit in the first half of extra time as he failed on three occasions to put Nigeria ahead.

With five minutes left to play Imenger was denied an absolutely magnificent winner when a close–range header was turned out by the Ghana keeper. The Black Stars keeper was forced to make another save from Uzoenyi a minute later to ensure the game went to penalties.

The Black Stars kept their nerves to score four of their spot kicks while Nigeria were only able to convert one.

Ghana will meet Libya in Saturday's final game as Nigeria will make do with a third place match against Zimbabwe.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Boko Haram 'slaughter' churchgoers in Adamwaa, Nigeria - 30 dead

The Bishop of Yola told the BBC the insurgents had locked the church and "cut people's throats" in Waga Chakawa village, Adamawa state.

On the same day, militants also attacked Kawuri village in neighbouring Borno state, killing 52 people.

Both assaults were blamed on the Islamist Boko Haram group.

The organisation - whose name means "Western education is forbidden" - is especially active in the north-east of the country.

Boko Haram wants to impose a severe form of Islamic law, and has been blamed for thousands of deaths.

Borno and Adamawa are two of three north-eastern states - along with Yobe - put under emergency rule last May, as the military attempts to combat the insurgency.

'Living in fear'
The Bishop of Yola, Mamza Dami Stephen, said parishioners had told him about what happened on Sunday morning.

They described how the insurgents had arrived on trucks and locked the church "towards the end of the service".

"Some people tried to escape through the windows and the [attackers] shot at them," the bishop said.

The militants set off bombs, before burning houses and taking residents hostage during a four-hour siege.

The bishop said locals were gripped by terror.

"Everybody is living in fear," he explained.

"There is no protection. We cannot predict where and when they are going to attack. People can't sleep with their eyes closed."

In neighbouring Borno, gunmen targeted a busy Sunday market in Kawuri village. After setting off bombs, they killed civilians in their homes and set ablaze dozens of houses.

Earlier this month, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan sacked his military high command.

No reason was given, but the move came amid concern that Boko Haram have been able to continue their bloody campaign despite the wide-ranging powers given to the military to tackle the insurgency last year.

Since the state of emergency was imposed in May, UN figures suggest more than 1,200 people have been killed in Islamist-related violence.


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Former minister of F.C.T Abuja released from detention

The Department of State Security Services has released a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nasir El-Rufai, after detaining him for more than 15 hours.
The former minister, who voluntarily walked into the agency’s headquarters at about 9 a.m on Monday, was released after midnight.

“Mallam Nasir El-Rufai left the SSS premises at 12.35a.m today after more than 15 hours,” the former minister’s media advisor, Muyiwa Adekeye, tweeted at 12.40 this morning.
It is not clear why the interrogation of the opposition All Progressive Congress chieftain took that long.
Both the SSS and Mr. El-Rufai were not available for comment at the time of filing this report at 5.28 this morning.
One of the most active users of social media in Nigeria, Mr. El-Rufai is yet to update his Twitter and Facebook accounts with details of his ordeals in the hands of Nigeria’s secret police as at the time this report was posted.

Mr. El-Rufai had walked into the SSS headquarters at about 9 a.m Monday, three days after the agency launched a manhunt for him.
He was accompanied by the Rivers State governor, Chibuike Amaechi, and a serving senator, Chris Ngige.

Mr. Amaechi, who was also allowed access into the SSS office, later left at about 12 p.m, while Mr. Ngige left two hours later.

One of Mr. El-Rufai’s wives, who accompanied him, also left subsequently as she was disallowed access to her husband, the former minister’s spokesperson had said.
“His wife left because she was just kept within the premises but not where he is,” Mr. Adekeye had told this paper.

Mr. El-Rufai’s lawyer, A. U. Mustapha, however remained with the former minister until his release.
The SSS said the former minister’s comment about possible violence in the coming elections was “provocative” and warned that those making inflammatory remarks might be prosecuted.
But Mr. El-Rufai has denied any wrongdoing, saying his position was only based on Nigeria’s electoral history.

The politician, who is one of the most vociferous critics of this administration, had gone underground Friday after the SSS launched a manhunt for him after he failed to honour an invitation from the agency in connection with his remarks at a conference in Abuja on Wednesday that there might be violence if the 2015 general elections were not credible.

The former minister declined the invitation citing his pending suit against the Service over his detention in a hotel in Awka during the Anambra state governorship election last November 16 as reason.

Mr. El-Rufai also insisted on seeing a valid warrant of arrest before he could report to the SSS office.
On Friday, operatives of the SSS stormed two properties believed to belong to Mr. El-Rufai, looking for him.

At the second property late on Friday, the SSS operatives insisted they wanted to deliver the warrant to Mr. El-Rufai personally, ignoring entreaty by his lawyer that the document should be handed over to him.

The opposition APC condemned the SSS for haunting its deputy national secretary, saying the comments attributed to the former minister were not inciting in any way.

Mr. El-Rufai himself has consistently said he would resist ploys by the SSS to silence him.
“Mallam El-Rufai will not be silenced,” the former minister had said through Mr. Adekeye, Friday.
“He will continue to do his patriotic duty of challenging INEC and the security agencies to guarantee the climate for free and fair elections in Nigeria by desisting from partisanship and the embrace of impunity.”

Premium Times

Super Eagles to recieve $100,000 bonus for win against Ghana in the CHAN finals

Nigeria’s minister of sports, has offered a bonus of $100,000 (16 million Naira) to the Super Eagles if they defeat Ghana in Wednesday’s semi final of the African Nations Championship (CHAN).

With a similar incentive in their quarter final game, Nigeria came from a 3-0 first half deficit to defeat Morocco 4-3 after extra time in Cape Town on Saturday.

The Eagles are expected to be paid their last bonus earnings before Wednesday’s clash against rivals the Black Stars.

Abdullahi told media that if “the boys qualify for the final and go ahead to win the trophy, they can be confident that a grateful nation will remember for a long time to come that they, with typical Nigerian grit and determination, have extended our dominance of African football.”

Nigeria are the defending champions of the more prestigious Africa Cup of Nations and look set to win the CHAN, that is open to only players based in their country’s domestic leagues, in their debut appearance at the competition.

With an average of three goals per game, Nigeria will go against Ghana who have scored just four goals so far (three from the penalty spot) and have conceded just once.

The last time both teams met at senior continental level, Ghana ran out 1-0 winners at the 2010 AFCON in Angola.


Monday, January 27, 2014

Boko Haram attack in Northern Nigeria kills 52

Security officials say suspected Islamic extremists used explosives to attack a village in Nigeria’s northeast, killing 52 people and razing more than 300 homes.

A security official said Monday the attackers planted several explosives at a market around Kawuri village Sunday. A police official who evacuated wounded victims confirmed at least 52 people were killed. Both spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not permitted to speak to reporters.

Ari Kolomi, who escaped the massacre, said there were more than 50 attackers.

The security official blamed the Islamic terrorist network Boko Haram, which has killed thousands over four years in Nigeria’s northeast.

Police commissioner Lawan Tanko confirmed the attack, but would not give details on casualties.

Northeast Nigeria has been under a military state of emergency since May.


Friday, January 24, 2014

Opposition party APC to block budget

Nigeria's main opposition party has called on its MPs to block all legislation including the 2014 budget.

This would remain the case until "the rule of law" was restored in oil-rich Rivers state and "Nigeria in general", the All Progressive Congress said.

The Rivers state governor fell out with President Goodluck Jonathan last year and defected to the APC.

Mr Jonathan's party has lost its majority in the lower chamber of parliament following other defections.

Analysts say the row centres around Mr Jonathan's undeclared intention to contest elections in 2015 for the governing People's Democratic Party (PDP).

Nigeria is one of the world's biggest oil producers, with Rivers state supplying about 40% of all the country's oil, according to business information firm Ngex.

'De facto military governor'
The row between Rivers state Governor Rotimi Amaechi and President Jonathan's supporters has paralysed politics in the state, with the police stopping the local state assembly from meeting in its building.

The APC accuses the state police chief of taking sides and exacerbating tensions - it wants his removal, as demanded by Nigeria's federal House of Representatives last year.

"The culture of lawlessness and impunity" in Rivers was being promoted by the presidency and the state's police chief Joseph Mbu, the APC national executive committee said in a statement.

It went onto describe Mr Mbu as "the de facto military governor of Rivers State and sole administrator of the PDP in the state".

Mr Mbu has denied taking sides in the political dispute.

The APC's call to block legislation will also affect the confirmation of ministers and the security chiefs recently appointed by the president.

MPs returned from recess last week and were due to start considering the budget, which has never been blocked before.

BBC Nigeria analyst Aliyu Tanko says if it is not passed within the next couple of months, it will start to affect government business as there will be no money for salaries and other projects.

The PDP said the APC's directive was "as a clear and direct call for anarchy".

It is the latest crisis to hit Mr Jonathan, whose leadership has recently come in for high-profile criticism from within the PDP, including from former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who called on him not to seek another term in office.

Mr Jonathan moved from the vice-presidency to the presidency in 2010 after his predecessor, Umaru Yar'Adua, died in office.

He won presidential elections the following year.

The PDP has won every national election since the end of military rule in 1999.


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Mob throws stones at trial of school principal and 6 others accused of homosexuality

There was pandemonium at the Upper Court 4 in Anguwan Jaki, Bauchi State, yesterday, as an angry mob almost lynched seven suspected homosexuals brought to court for trial.
One of the suspects was identified as the Principal of a Government Secondary School in the state.
The development forced security personnel at the court premises to rescue the suspects by firing gunshots in the air and using teargas to disperse the mob.

The suspects are Ibrahim Marafa, Shehu Adamu, Yusuf Adamu, Aliyu Dalhatu, Abdulmalik Tanko, Usman Sabo and Hazif Sabo Abubakar.
The angry mob hurled stones at the van carrying them as it sped dangerously back to prison. A few people sustained injuries in the process.

The suspects faced charges of allegedly engaging in gay activities in Bauchi State, an action that contravenes the Islamic laws which the state is operating.
Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Haruna Mohammed, said the suspects were arrested by the Bauchi State Sharia Commission.

The atmosphere around the court was tense as the suspects came out of the court with the mob reigning abuses and pelting them with stones.

Earlier, inside the rowdy court, counsel to the Sharia Commission, Danlami Ayuba, told the court that one of the suspects was identified as Ibrahim Marafa, the Principal of Government Secondary School, Mainamaji.
When the case was slated for hearing, counsel to the suspect, Abdul Musa, said he was not ready and sought for bail for his client to enable them study the charges. The bail application was rejected by the counsel to the Sharia commission.

The presiding judge, El-Yaqub Aliyu, refused to grant the bail and adjourned the case till Monday to enable the prosecutors present their witness.
Similarly the State Sharia Commission counsel paraded six other suspects. When their case was mentioned, the presiding judge cautioned the Sharia commission’s counsel to ensure that they had proper evidence on the accused persons before arraigning them.


Related stories: Video - Nigeria's anti-gay law denounced

Video - CNN covers anti-gay law in Nigeria 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Eko Atlantic - The Elysium for the super rich of Lagos, Nigeria

It's a sight to behold. Just off Lagos, Nigeria's coast, an artificial island is emerging from the sea. A foundation, built of sand dredged from the ocean floor, stretches over ten kilometres. Promotional videos depict what is to come: a city of soaring buildings, housing for 250,000 people, and a central boulevard to match Paris' Champs-Élysées and New York's Fifth Avenue. Privately constructed, it will also be privately administered and supplied with electricity, water, mass transit, sewage and security. It is the "future Hong Kong of Africa," anticipates Nigeria's World Bank director.

Welcome to Eko Atlantic, a city whose "whole purpose", its developers say, is to "arrest the ocean's encroachment." Like many low-lying coastal African countries, Nigeria has been hit hard by a rising sea-level, which has regularly washed away thousands of peoples' homes. To defend against the coastal erosion and flooding, the city is being surrounded by the "Great Wall of Lagos", a sea defence barrier made of 100,000 five-ton concrete blocks. Eko Atlantic will be a "sustainable city, clean and energy efficient with minimal carbon emissions," offer jobs, prosperity and new land for Nigerians, and serve as a bulwark in the fight against the impacts of climate change.

At least that's the official story. Other facts suggest this gleaming city will be a menacing allure to most. In congested Lagos, Africa's largest city, there is little employment and millions work and scavenge in a vast, desperate informal economy. Sixty percent of Nigeria's population – almost 100 of 170 million people – live on less than a dollar a day. Preventable diseases are widespread; electricity and clean water hard to come by. A few kilometres down the Lagos shoreline, Nigerians eke out an existence in the aquatic slum of Makoko, built precariously on stilts over the ocean. Casting them as crime-ridden, the government regularly dismantles such slums, bulldozing homes and evicting thousands. These are hardly the people who will scoop up square footage in Eko Atlantic's pricy new high-rises.

Those behind the project – a pair of politically connected Lebanese brothers who run a financial empire called the Chagoury Group, and a slew of African and international banks – give a picture of who will be catered to. Gilbert Chaougry was a close advisor to the notorious Nigerian dictatorship of the mid 1990s, helping the ultra-corrupt general Sani Abacha as he looted billions from public coffers. Abacha killed hundreds of demonstrators and executed environmentalist Ken Saro-Wiwa, who rose to fame protesting the despoiling of the country by Shell and other multinational oil corporations. Thus it's fitting for whom the first 15-story office tower in Eko Atlantic is being built: a British oil and gas trading company. The city proposing to head off environmental devastation will be populated by those most responsible for it in the first place.

The real inspiration for Eko Atlantic comes not from these men but the dreamworlds of rampant capitalism, stoked by a successful, thirty year global campaign to claw back gains in social security and unchain corporations from regulation – what we now know as neoliberalism. In Nigeria, oil wealth plundered by a military elite spawned extreme inequalities and upended the economy. Under the IMF's neoliberal dictates, the situation worsened: education and healthcare were gutted, industries privatized, and farmers ruined by western products dumped on their markets. The World Bank celebrated Nigeria; extreme poverty doubled. The most notorious application of the power of the Nigerian state for the interest of the rich came in 1990: an entire district of Lagos - 300,000 homes – was razed to clear the way for high-end real-estate development.

As elites in Nigeria and elsewhere have embraced such inequality as the very engine of growth, they have revived some of the most extreme forms of colonial segregation and gated leisure. Today, boutiques cannot open fast enough to serve the Nigerian millionaires buying luxury cars and yachts they'll be able to dock in Eko Atlantic's down-town marina. Meanwhile, thousands of people who live in communities along the coast expect the new city will bring displacement, not prosperity, says environmental activist Nnimmo Bassey. To get their way, the developers, backed by industry and politicians, have trampled over the country's environmental assessment process. "Building Eko Atlantic is contrary to anything one would want to do if one took seriously climate change and resource depletion," he says.

The wealthy and powerful may in fact take climate change seriously: not as a demand to modify their behaviour or question the fossil-fuel driven global economy that has made it possible, but as the biggest opportunity yet to realize their dreams of unfettered accumulation and consumption. The disaster capitalists behind Eko Atlantic have seized on climate change to push through pro-corporate plans to build a city of their dreams, an architectural insult to the daily circumstances of ordinary Nigerians. The criminalized poor abandoned outside their walls may once have served as sufficient justification for their flight and fortification – but now they have the very real threat of climate change as well.

Eko Atlantic is where you can begin to see a possible future – a vision of privatized green enclaves for the ultra rich ringed by slums lacking water or electricity, in which a surplus population scramble for depleting resources and shelter to fend off the coming floods and storms. Protected by guards, guns, and an insurmountable gully – real estate prices – the rich will shield themselves from the rising tides of poverty and a sea that is literally rising. A world in which the rich and powerful exploit the global ecological crisis to widen and entrench already extreme inequalities and seal themselves off from its impacts – this is climate apartheid.

Prepare for the elite, like never before, to use climate change to transform neighbourhoods, cities, even entire nations into heavily fortified islands. Already, around the world, from Afghanistan to Arizona, China to Cairo, and in mushrooming mega-cities much like Lagos, those able are moving to areas where they can live better and often more greenly – with better transport and renewable technologies, green buildings and ecological services. In Sao Paulo, Brazil, the super-rich – ferried above the congested city by a fleet of hundreds of helicopters – have disembedded themselves from urban life, attempting to escape from a common fate.

In places like Eko Atlantic the escape, a moral and social secession of the rich from those in their country, will be complete. This essentially utopian drive – to consume rapaciously and endlessly and to reject any semblance of collective impulse and concern – is simply incompatible with human survival. But at the moment when we must confront an economy and ideology pushing the planet's life-support systems to breaking point, this is what the neoliberal imagination offers us: a grotesque monument to the ultra-rich flight from responsibility.

There are, however, alternatives, like one proposed for the Makoko slum, the home of a quarter-million Nigerians – the same number who are intended to inhabit Eko Atlantic. Nigerian architect Kunle Adeyemi has designed what amounts to a counter-point, a floating settlement of which a school has already been built – making it only the second school that Makoko has ever had. The floating structures – made of low-cost wood and buoyed by recycled plastic barrels – have solar panels, sloped roofs to harvest rainwater, and compost toilets to solve dire sanitary needs.

Nnimmo Bassey thinks the floating settlements are just the thing to help the sustainable development of under-served communities across Nigeria's coastlines. "It is a structure that suits the environment, is easy to replicate and appropriate to peoples' lifestyle, and is sensitive to the challenges of sea level rise," he says. "It would help create what we need: communities for people, not gated anti-people communities."

The project is animated by a very different vision: that we must share rather than hoard, reduce inequality rather than increase it, and encourage the resiliency of everyone rather than the escape from the worst for a few. That the needs of the most vulnerable, rather than the desires of the most wealthy, must be the starting point of any effort to truly combat the climate crisis.

The choices before Lagos confront us all. While ours is not the first civilization whose elites have proved spectacularly indifferent to collective, ecological survival, it is up to us whether we will be the last.

Written by Markus Lukacs

The Guardian

Related story: Gilbert Chagoury poised to build city for the elite in Nigeria

Canada denies cancelling President Goodluck Jonathan's visit over anti-gay law

Canadian government has denied cancelling President Goodluck Jonathan’s visit to the country.

Canada through its embassy in Abuja debunked media reports that it cancelled a scheduled visit of the president because he signed the anti-gay law.

In an exclusive interview with our correspondent, the Canadian Counselor in Abuja, Ms. Alexandra Mackenzie said there was no scheduled visit of Jonathan to the country.

Responding to an inquiry from our correspondent, Mackenzie said, “Canada and Nigeria enjoy shared interest in expanding opportunities for economic, social and security cooperation between our two countries.

“No visit is scheduled. However, we look forward to the opportunities of welcoming President Goodluck Jonathan to Canada at a future date.”

Our correspondent, however, gathered that the two countries had for some time been exploring diplomatic channels to arrange a visit for President Jonathan to Canada before he signed the anti-gay law.

A source in government, who confided in our correspondent said, “It is true that the two countries are working towards the visit of President Jonathan to Canada, but the arrangement has not been concluded. You cannot cancel a visit that has not been scheduled. The arrangement is still on but no date has been fixed.”

Jonathan on January 7 assented to the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill 2013 which criminalises same-sex relationships in the country.

On January 14 when it became public that the president had signed the bill into law, the Canadian government openly expressed concerns over the law.

In a statement made available to journalists in Abuja by the Canadian embassy, Foreign Affairs Minister, John Baird, said the country would continue to speak against the criminalisation of gay marriage.

“We call on Nigeria to repeal this law and to promote and protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Nigerians regardless of their sexual orientation,” Baird said.


Government to add an additional 1,000 CCTV cameras in Lagos

The Lagos State Government Monday disclosed that it would soon begin the installation of additional 1,000 Close Circuit Television (CCTV), which it said, would help beef up security and crime monitoring in the state.

With the latest development, the number of security cameras, which are in operation across the state would be 2,200, out of which the federal government earlier deployed 1,000 and the state government 1,200.

However, Governor Babatunde Fashola (SAN), disclosed the plans to install additional 1,000 CCTV at the public security system demonstration at the Lagos State Security Command and Control Centre, Alausa.

The governor, who witnessed the security system demonstration with some media executives, said the state government would expand existing camera and telephony infrastructure to support the deployment of the additional cameras to effectively cover the entire state to make it safe and secure.

Fashola, therefore, expressed optimism that with all these security equipments being put in place, there “will be no hiding place for criminals in the state anymore. Since 2008, my administration has demonstrated its resolve to do something about the poor state of security in the state.”

He explained that the state was now in a position where it had one camera “to cover about 10 square kilometres, noting that there is still room for improvement. Despite the equipment, there is no assurance that there would not be crime in the state as even in well developed countries.”
He acknowledged that there “will still be crime. With the equipment, it has made the job of identification easier. Providing security is the primary assignment of government and that government would not shirk from its responsibility.”

Speaking earlier at the forum, the state’s Commissioner for Science and Technology, Mr. Adebiyi Mabadeje, said the state government had concluded plans to purchase 10, 000 additional handsets for use by operatives of the Nigeria Police, Rapid Response Squad (RRS), Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LATMAS), Lagos State Ambulance Service and Lagos State Fire Service among others.

He said security equipment already deployed “to the state include 1,000 plus surveillance cameras, 66 base-stations on CDMA technology, microwave links, normal telephony capacity, network with 3G data capabilities, existing camera while telephony infrastructure has the capacity to carry 100,000 subscribers.”

He added that the cameras had been deployed in critical locations, such as Ikorodu Road, Oshodi, Agege Motor Road, Festac, among others, adding that 2,000 handsets had been deployed to members of the police and RRS.

He said video conferencing had been deployed by the state government “to enable quick decision making among security operatives.

The state government had taken ownership of the infrastructure in addition to the pool of surveillance cameras. The state government fueled all 66 base-stations and maintained the stations and the 1,200 security cameras.

“The state government has built a video wall for live feeds for effective monitoring of the cameras. Lagos State Government is in the process of purchasing a Video Analytics Solution for effective surveillance of areas covered by the cameras.”

This Day

Monday, January 20, 2014

Canada cancels President Goodluck Jonathan's visit due to anti-gay law

The furore arising from President Goodluck Jonathan’s assent to the bill prohibiting homosexual marriage reverberated on the diplomatic circles, yesterday, as it emerged that Canada has cancelled a scheduled state visit to that country by President Jonathan.

The cancellation was described as a reaction to President Jonathan’s decision to give assent to the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill 2013 which penalizes homosexual partnerships in the country.
Online news portal, had first published the story on its site weekend.

The cancellation nonetheless, Special Adviser to the President on Political Affairs, Alhaji Ahmed Gulak upheld the president’s action, saying that there was no way homosexual marriages will accelerate the nation’s socio-economic progress.

Despite the challenge from the diplomatic arena, further commendations came the way of the President for assenting to the bill. The latest commendation came from the Prelate and Moderator of the General Assembly of The Presbyterian Church of Nigeria, Most Rev. Emele Uka who described it as a bold step aimed at reforming the society along godly ethics.
The president’s visit to Canada which is at the instance of the Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper was scheduled for February.

The cancellation follows the harassment of Nigeria’s diplomatic staff in the Nigerian High Commission in Canada by the homosexual lobby in that country.
The decision to cancel President Jonathan’s state visit to Canada was communicated through the Nigeria High Commissioner to the Supervising Minister of Foreign Affairs, Professor Viola Onwuliri who in turn passed on the message to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim.

Special Adviser to the President on Media, Dr. Reuben Abati in his reaction, yesterday, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would respond to the development.
Gulak slams US, Canada, others

Calling on the international community to respect the cultural sensibility of Nigerians and other African countries on the issue of same sex marital relations, Gulak in an interview, yesterday, said that “the hostile reaction of Europeans and the United States to the recent signing into law of the bill that outlaws marriages and sexual relations between people of the same sex has not taken into consideration the socio-cultural differences between people of different racial backgrounds, and more importantly the religious beliefs of our people.

“What the anti-gay law has tried to achieve is to protect and promote family values as we know it from the start; we accept that the Europeans have reached the height of their civilization, we are yet to see how marriages between persons of the same sex will accelerate our own socio-economic and technological advancement of our people.

“We value the bilateral and multilateral relationships between Nigeria and its international partners and we believe that no unnecessary pressure will be brought to bear on us to accept what our people consider to be abhorrent.”
“We are yet to see how this same sex practice will reduce inequality, reduce the grinding poverty facing our people. Same sex rights and privileges will not generate employment, enhance health care, improve education and technological growth which is what we need now. We know that those who are into this practice are in the minority, the US and EU should respect the sensibilities of those in the majority who abhor the practice of same sex relations.

“The law makers deliberated carefully on the bill before passing it and sending it to the president for his assent. We cannot dictate to Europeans on what bills they choose to make; they have been passing legislation to regulate migration of Africans into their countries without any complaints from any other country, some states in America have legalised the use of marijuana for medical purposes, ordinarily we should see that as a welcome development since we have people who grow the weed here, but for the sake of the health of our people, we cannot say what is good for America or Europeans must be good for us.

“I think it is a big distraction for these countries to assume that same sex marriage is our utmost priority at this stage of our development.
“Nigeria will continue to respect the rights of its citizens but those who want to engage in mercantile promotion of human relations that the society does not accept may be incurring the wrath of the law”.
The European Union and the US had threatened to review their economic assistance to Nigeria for signing the bill which they had lobbied hard to stop.

The Presbyterian Prelate, Most Rev. Uka in a statement in Calabar, Cross River State, described as unacceptable, the increasing global incidence of ungodly homosexual relations and the legal adoption of same-sex marriages.
“There are over 600, 000 same sex families in the US with about 115, 000 of them raising children who shall eventually become homosexuals,” he said.
“Homosexuality as one of the greatest human deviant behaviours has been with man from earliest times. Man has fought it for a long time but it refuses to die. For instance, about 40 years ago, homosexuality was listed as a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association. Today, it is considered a normal sexual behaviour and a human rights issue.

The Prelate charged President Jonathan to remain focused and not to be intimidated by the opposition of the western world to his assent to the bill.
On steps to address the issue of homosexuality, Most Rev. Uka said that the way forward is to follow the biblical panacea of seeking the Lord while He may be found, fleeing from sin and confessing to attract God’s forgiveness.

“Thank God there is hope, a cure for the sins of homosexuality, lesbianism, incest, rape and adultery. We should note that these mentioned perverse sexual lifestyles attract God’s punishment. For such, God warns that hell, not heaven is the final destination. And how is God’s cure received? In exactly the same way as other types of sinners receive forgiveness through confession and repentance.”
The Prelate admonished that, “as modern man wallows in his rottenness and extreme carnality, as they become far removed from the divine and the glorious, as they begin to ravage the world and seek to exterminate it, let us do our best to resist the devil and he will flee from us.”

Economic and diplomatic ties
Canada’s grouse is that more than 30 people have been arrested, since the law was signed on January 7, 2014 and there are worries that more arrests will follow.

Until Jonathan signed the law, prosecution of gay people had largely been centered on the predominantly Muslim north, where gays have long been punished under Sharia law. Canada does not have substantial economic interest in Nigeria but the country has been wooing Canada to invest in the mining, rail transportation, sea ports reform, education, and infrastructure. Both countries expect trade volume from these sectors to generate over 16 billion dollars in 2015. The relationship between both countries has been buoyant as they have maintained high level diplomatic contacts.

It will be recalled that in April 2012, Nigeria’s former Foreign Affairs Minister Olugbenga Ashiru visited Ottawa, where he signed the Memorandum of Understanding to establish a Bi-National Commission, which covers four major themes: political relations, commercial relations, security cooperation and development cooperation.


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Nigeria reaches quarter finals in African Nations Championship

Nigeria shattered South Africa's dreams of progressing beyond the group stages of the African Nations Championship, beating the hosts 3-1 to join Mali in the quarter-finals.
Chistantus Ejike scored twice for Nigeria, either side of an Ifeanyi Ede penalty. Both sides had a man sent off.

In the other Group A match, Mali produced a 2-1 victory over Mozambique to ensure their place in the last eight as group winners , finishing one point above Nigeria.
Nigeria, who needed to win to progress, opened the scoring in the 21st minute when Ejike blasted a left footed shot from the edge of the six-yard-box into the top corner.

On 30 minutes, South Africa keeper Moeneeb Josephs conceded a penalty after spilling a routine free-kick. He got a hand to Ifeanyi Ede's effort from the spot, but was unable to stop Nigeria from pulling 2-0 ahead.

Ejike added a third in the second half for the Super Eagles, and almost made it a hatrick on 70 minutes, when his spectacular half volley from the edge of the box hit the crossbar.
With some 36,000 Bafana Bafana fans looking on, there was a glimmer of hope for the hosts on 74 minutes, when Nigerian defender Solomon Kwambe was sent off for a late tackle.

But the referee again reached for the red card two minutes later, sending off South Africa's Vuyo Mere for the same offence.
South Africa got a consolation on 81 minutes from the penalty spot, with Bernard Parker making it four goals from three group games.

Across the city at Athlone Stadium in Cape Town, Mali beat Mozambique 2-1 to win Group A.
Mozambique went into the match knowing they had no chance of progressing. Nevertheless, they took a surprise lead in the first half through Josemar to go into the break with the advantage.
Mali fought back quickly in the second half, Ibourahima Sidibe beating a host of Mozambican defenders in the box to knock the ball in from close range.

The match seemed destined to end in a 1-1 draw, but Mali made absolutely sure of their place in the last eight with a stoppage time penalty from Idrissa Traore to make it 2-1, ending as group A winners.


Friday, January 17, 2014

Video - Nigeria's anti-gay law denounced

In Nigeria, a gay man has been lashed 20 times, the first conviction for sodomy since President Goodluck Jonathan signed a law criminalising homosexuality earlier this week. Human rights activists said hundreds of gay men have been arrested and tortured by police. The international community said not only is the new law against fundamental freedoms, it will also affect services of millions of Nigerians living with HIV AIDS, as they scare away people to seek treatment, incase people think they are gay.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Video - Oscar nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor talks to Ellen about 12 Years a Slave

The talented star told Ellen about his incredible film, "12 Years a Slave," and Hollywood's response to his name.

President Goodluck Jonathan sacks military chiefs

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan has sacked his military high command, his spokesman Reuben Abati has said.

No reason was given but the dismissals come amid growing concern about the military's failure to end the Islamist-led insurgency in northern Nigeria.

Mr Abati said Air Marshal Alex Badeh replaces Admiral Ola Ibrahim as the new chief of defence staff, the most senior post in the military.

Boko Haram has been waging a four-year insurgency in Nigeria.

Mr Jonathan imposed a state of emergency in three northern states in May 2013, giving the military wide-ranging powers to end the insurgency.

'Tradition of sackings'
However, Boko Haram has continued with its campaign of violence - including attacks on two military barracks and an air base last month.

On Tuesday, the group carried out a car bomb attack in the north-eastern city of Maiduguri, killing at least 17 people.

United Nations figures suggest more than 1,200 people have been killed in Islamist-related violence since the state of emergency started.

Mr Abati said the new appointments would come into effect immediately.

The president had briefed the leadership of the National Assembly on the changes "and will, in keeping with the provisions of the law, request the National Assembly to formally confirm the appointments when it reconvenes", he added.

Mr Jonathan also appointed a new chief of army staff, replacing Lt Gen Azubike Ihejirika with Maj Gen Tobiah Minimah.

Rear Admiral Usman Jibrin takes over from Vice Admiral Dele Joseph Ezeoba as chief of naval staff and Air Vice Marshal Adesola Nunayon Amosu takes over from Air Marshal Badeh as chief of air staff.

BBC Nigeria analyst Naziru Mikailu says Mr Jonathan's decision does not come as a complete surprise because there is a tradition in Nigeria of sacking military chiefs.

It seems Mr Jonathan wants to show he is in charge, at a time when his leadership is being increasingly questioned within the governing People's Democratic Party (PDP) ahead of the 2015 elections, our correspondent adds.

Last month, ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo called on Mr Jonathan not to seek re-election, accusing him of failing to tackle Nigeria's many problems - including the Islamist insurgency, poverty and corruption.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

President Goodluck Jonathan's photographer shot

President Goodluck Jonathan’s official photographer, Mr. Callistus Ewelike, was on Monday night shot by unknown gunmen in Abuja.

Ewelike, a photojournalist with the News Agency of Nigeria is attached to the State House, Abuja, and he is currently acting as the President’s official photographer.

The father of two was reportedly shot at a close range in front of his house in Nyanya in the outskirts of the Federal Capital Territory, between 10pm and 11pm.

He was said to be returning to his house after filing the photographs he took during Jonathan’s visit to Shape Community in the FCT, where the President inaugurated the Operation Light Up Rural Nigeria Project when the incident happened.

An eyewitness told our correspondent that the attack was carried out by two men on a motorcycle.

The eyewitness said, “The two men were apparently waiting for him at his residence. While one of them was on the motorbike, the guy who pulled the trigger was standing, waiting for him.

“As the victim parked his car and was making his way into his house, the armed man shot him in the neck at a close range. The gunshot attracted some residents of the area, so the two men quickly sped off on the motorbike.”

No personal belonging was stolen from the victim.

Ewelike was rushed by his neighbours to the National Hospital, Abuja, where medical doctors as of Tuesday were attending to him.

Our correspondent visited the victim at the hospital on Tuesday.

A source in the hospital said the x-ray conducted on the photographer showed that the bullet that entered through his neck was lodged at a spot close to his shoulder.

Armed men had also visited Ewelike’s residence few weeks back.

They left with his working tools, including his camera and a laptop and a few other personal effects.

Our correspondent learnt that security agents were already investigating the attempt on Ewelike’s life.

The Police Public Relations Officer, FCT Command, Altine Daniel, on Tuesday confirmed the incident.

Daniel said the FCT Commissioner of Police, Mr. Femi Ogunbayide, had directed that full scale investigation be carried out on the case.


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Dozens of gay men are reported to have been arrested across northern Nigeria as police begin to enforce punitive new laws that criminalise same-sex marriages and membership of gay rights organisations.

The legislation, condemned by the US secretary of state, John Kerry, and human rights groups in Europe, has come into force shortly after the Ugandan parliament passed an Anti-Homosexuality Act.

Last week Nigeria's president, Goodluck Jonathan, signed the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, which provides penalties of up to 14 years in jail for a gay marriage and up to 10 years' imprisonment for membership or encouragement of gay clubs, societies and organisations.

His spokesman, Reuben Abati, said: "This is a law that is in line with the people's cultural and religious inclination. So it is a law that is a reflection of the beliefs and orientation of Nigerian people … Nigerians are pleased with it."

Dorothy Aken'Ova, executive director of the country's International Centre for Reproductive Health and Sexual Rights, said that the legislation, hailed the "Jail the Gays" law, had led to mass arrests. Police in Bauchi state, she claimed, had a list of 168 purportedly gay men, of whom 38 had been arrested.

The laws, she cautioned, will endanger medical programmes combating HIV-Aids in the gay community. Nigeria has the second-largest HIV epidemic globally with an estimated 3.4 million people living with HIV.

Responding to the spread of anti-gay legislation,Kerry said: "The United States is deeply concerned by Nigeria's enactment of the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act. Beyond even prohibiting same-sex marriage, this law dangerously restricts freedom of assembly, association and expression for all Nigerians.

"[The law] is inconsistent with Nigeria's international legal obligations and undermines the democratic reforms and human rights protections enshrined in its 1999 constitution," he added.

"People everywhere deserve to live in freedom and equality. No one should face violence or discrimination for who they are or who they love."

The London-based Human Dignity Trust, which supports legal actions around the world aimed at overturning anti-gay legislation, criticised both the Nigerian and Ugandan acts.

Jonathan Cooper, the trust's chief executive, has described the Ugandan legislation as "a bleak day for human rights. The bill undermines Uganda's human rights protection, breaches its international treaty obligations and violates Uganda's own constitution".

One of the men whose legal challenges the trust supported, Roger Jean-Claude Mbede, 34, died this week after being removed from hospital by his family. He had been jailed in Cameroon for sending a text message to another man saying: "I'm very much in love with you".

Mbede, whose case was highlighted by the Guardian in 2012, was subsequently declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International.

His lawyer, Alice Nkom, said: "[Mbede's] family said he was a curse for them and that we should let him die."


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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Car bomb hits Maiduguri

A car bomb has exploded in the north-eastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri, and there are fears of many casualties.

Reports say a second car was set on fire by the blast. Blood-spattered people were seen fleeing and vehicles crashed into each other as they tried to leave, while soldiers fired automatic weapons.

A suicide bomber is suspected of being behind the blast.

The Islamist militant group, Boko Haram, is active in the region.


Monday, January 13, 2014

Law against homosexuality passes into law today in Nigeria

Nigeria's president has signed a law that bans same-sex marriage and criminalizes homosexual associations, societies and meetings, with penalties of up to 14 years in jail.

The Associated Press obtained a copy of the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act on Monday that was signed by President Goodluck Jonathan and dated Jan. 7.

It was unclear why the law's passage has been shrouded in secrecy. The copy obtained from the House of Representatives in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, showed it was signed by those lawmakers and senators on Dec. 17, though no announcement was made.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday the United States is "deeply concerned" by a law that "dangerously restricts freedom of assembly, association, and expression for all Nigerians." Nigeria is one of the top crude oil suppliers to the United States.

It is now a crime to have a meeting of gays, or to operate or go to a gay club, society or organization.

In a recent interview, Olumide Makanjuola, executive director of the Initiative For Equality in Nigeria, had said: "If that bill passes, it will be illegal for us to even be holding this conversation."

The new law says, "A person who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies or organizations, or directly or indirectly makes public show of same-sex amorous relationship in Nigeria commits an offense and is liable on conviction to a term of 10 years."

Anyone convicted of entering into a same-sex marriage contract or civil union faces up to 14 years' imprisonment.

Nigeria already has a law inherited from British colonizers that makes homosexual sex illegal in the West African nation. In the areas in Nigeria's north where Islamic Shariah law is enforced, gays and lesbians can face death by stoning.

Makanjuloa said those who will suffer most under the law are poor gay Nigerians. Many rich ones already have left the country, or say they will fly elsewhere to have sex, she said.

The court of the European Union recently ruled that laws such as that passed in Nigeria could provide grounds for political asylum.

A spokesman for the British High Commission in Nigeria said: "The U.K. opposes any form of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation." The spokesman, traditionally not identified by name, echoed Kerry's concerns about freedom of expression, saying the law "infringes upon fundamental rights of expression and association which are guaranteed by the Nigerian Constitution and by international agreements to which Nigeria is a party."

The British government 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.

There has been no real opposition to the law among Nigerians, many of whom are religious and conservative. Whether Christian or Muslim, they often follow traditional mores and believe that homosexuality is unnatural and evil.

Nigerians are the least tolerant nation when it comes to gays, with 98 percent surveyed saying society should not accept homosexuality, according to a study of 39 nations by the U.S. Pew Research Center.

Nigeria's law does not contain a previous proposal making it obligatory for anyone knowing a homosexual to report that person to authorities, or face up to seven years in jail. That would have included a parent or friend of a homosexual.

And it is not as draconian as a Ugandan bill approved by parliament in December and awaiting the signature of President Yoweri Museveni. It carries a punishment of life in prison for "aggravated" homosexual sex involving someone infected with HIV, a minor or a disabled person.

The president of Gambia has said homosexuals should be decapitated.

Some 38 African countries — about 70 percent of the continent — criminalize homosexual activity, Amnesty International said in a report released last year.

When Nigerians with minority sexual orientations tried to give evidence last year in debate in the House of Assembly, they were heckled and booed until one broke into tears. Another could not be heard.

A statement by the Nigerian Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual and Intersex Diaspora to legislators urged them not to make them refugees.

Criminalizing same-sex relationships "turns us into asylum seekers in other countries," it said. "We visit home with trepidation because at home we have to live a life full of lies and deny who we are for us to be accepted. Why do we want to keep subjecting our citizens to such psychological and emotional torture?"


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Thousands of victims of sectarian violence in Nigeria are still waiting for justice years after crimes were committed against them. Hundreds of internally displaced people continue to live in refugee camps that they fled to when violence broke out after the 2011 general elections. Many say they still do not feel safe returning to their old homes and few believe justice will ever be served. Human rights groups have blamed the government for the lack of justice.

Mali upset Nigeria in African Nations Championship

Mali shocked African champions Nigeria 2-1 in the sides' opening Group A match at the African Nations Championship in Cape Town Stadium on Saturday.
Goals from Abdoulaye Sissoko and Adama Traore (pictured) gave Mali a stunning start to the competition.

Mali took the lead in the 17th minute with a ferocious drive from Sissoko after breaking free on the right flank after Mali had cut open the Nigeria defence.
They then missed two chances in quick succession - on 20 and 21 minutes - to double their lead as they dominated the Super Eagles, and just after half-time Nigeria cleared off the line after a corner.
On 50 minutes the Eagles got reward for their pressure when Traore made it 2-0 with another vicious shot which went through the legs of Nigeria keeper Chigozie Agbim.
Although Nigeria hit back four minutes later with a glancing header from substitute Fuad Salami, it was not enough to prevent defeat for the tournament favourites.

Earlier on Saturday, a stunning goal from Hlompho Kekana helped hosts South Africa to a 3-1 victory over Mozambique in the opening match of the competition.
With the tie delicately poised at 1-1, the Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder powered home a 40-yard shot that left goalkeeper Soarito a bemused spectator.
And the goal changed the complexion of the Group A clash in Cape Town.
Bernard Parker, who had earlier cancelled out Diogo's deflected shot, grabbed his second to seal the win.

Mozambique went into the match on the back of an intensive two-month training camp.
And they took the lead after just 11 minutes when South Africa goalkeeper and captain Itumeleng Khune was fooled by Diogo's deflected shot.
But the hosts equalised on the half-hour mark when Parker scored from the penalty spot.
And they could and should have gone to the break 2-1 up but for a horror miss from Katlego Mashego.

Siphiwe Tshabalala flighted a delightful cross into the area but Mashego fluffed his lines from just four yards when it appeared easier to score.
Bafana Bafana would not be denied, though, and after Kekana's stunning strike, Parker put the result beyond doubt when he netted from close range in the dying minutes.


Friday, January 10, 2014

Nigeria signs prisoner exchange deal with the UK

The UK and Nigeria have signed an agreement to allow the transfer of prisoners between the two countries.

It means citizens of one who commit crimes in the other will serve sentences in their homeland.

The UK government said it meant inmates could be "properly prepared for release into the community in which they will live following their release".

Both countries already have prisoner-transfer treaties in place with several other states.

The UK-Nigeria agreement was one of the objectives outlined by UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan following a meeting in 2011.

It is expected the first prisoner transfers will take place before the end of this year.

UK Justice Minister Jeremy Wright said: "Removing foreign national offenders is a key priority for the British government and the prisoner transfer agreement I signed this morning with the Nigerian attorney-general plays a significant role in supporting this.

"Both the United Kingdom and Nigeria have prisoner transfer arrangements with other countries and it is right that our two countries, which have such strong ties and shared interests, should develop our own arrangements.

"I strongly believe that this agreement will have significant benefits for both our countries."


President Goodluck Jonathan asks bank chief Sanusi to resign

Nigeria's president asked central bank chief Lamido Sanusi to resign over a leaked letter about missing oil funds, a source has confirmed to the BBC.

But Mr Sanusi refused, telling Goodluck Jonathan that others could have leaked his memo about the state oil firm's failure to account for $50bn (£30bn).

Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo referred to this in a letter criticising Mr Jonathan's leadership last month.

President Jonathan was angered by the criticism, denying government fraud.
In a rebuttal letter before Christmas, the president said that Mr Obasanjo, who is also a member of the governing People's Democratic Party, was threatening "national security" by whipping up opposition to his administration.

He dismissed allegations of "high corruption" in government and said that Mr Sanusi's allegations - made in a letter dated 25 September - were "spurious".

A respected banker, Mr Sanusi has spearheaded reforms in Nigeria's troubled banking sector since his appointment in 2009.

'Heated exchange'
According to Nigeria's This Day newspaper, President Jonathan demanded the bank chief's resignation over the phone, asking him to leave by 31 December 2013.

But in a heated exchange, Mr Sanusi refused to leave his post before his term ends later this year, a source confirmed to the BBC.

Mr Sanusi said that about $10bn (£6bn) was still unaccounted for by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and expressed surprise that those responsible were not being asked to resign instead.

Mr Jonathan accused the Central Bank governor of leaking the letter to Mr Obasanjo after which the full letter was published in the Nigerian media.

Mr Sanusi said the leak could have come from the presidency or ministry of finance and the blame could not lie with him.

Nigeria has recently been listed among countries that could become the next set of economic giants in years to come - known as the "Mint" nations.

Correspondent says deep divisions have engulfed the PDP over the last year amid fears that it could lose the election under Mr Jonathan's leadership.


Thursday, January 9, 2014

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Can Lagos save Nigeria?

Nigeria is arguably the worst run of the world’s seven most populated countries. Despite earning hundreds of billions of dollars in oil revenue over the past decade, it is expected by 2015, by some calculations, to have the second-most destitute people in the world after India. But its largest city, Lagos, which until recently was known as one of the world’s most difficult cities to govern, seems to have turned a corner.

Even though it remains a slum-ridden and largely impoverished metropolis, with an exploding population estimated at 21 million (of Nigeria’s 170 million people), it has seen steady improvement in its governance for over a decade. The government has enhanced public transportation, cleaned up streets, upgraded the business environment and bettered the lives of its inhabitants.

So Nigeria, of all places, may be pointing the way to a strategy by which fragile states might begin to succeed: Devolve more power to cities from their corrupt and overcentralized national governments. At least in democracies, the cities have promise because their elected politicians face pressure to deliver specific services to their constituents. In the central governments, which are more remote, there is too much power and wealth to be grabbed by dysfunctional politicians and their cronies, and too little direct accountability.

The emergence of fragile states is one of the world’s most pressing problems. Such states, which include Nigeria, Iraq and Yemen, contain a rising number of the world’s poor (half of the world’s people who live on less than $1.25 a day will be in fragile states by 2015, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) and contribute disproportionately to the world’s instability and terrorism. They have become a major focus of international aid efforts, but it has proved very difficult to improve governance there.

The turnaround in Lagos can be traced to 1999, when Nigeria returned to democracy and the city began holding regular elections. For the first time since independence, Lagos was able to re-elect its own leaders, or turn them out of office. And while national elections became a mud fight between elites to control the state’s enormous oil wealth, local contests forced candidates to show pragmatism and competence.

Citizens in densely populated cities find it easier to organize themselves. And in an ethnically and religiously diverse metropolis like Lagos, politicians could not afford to pit ethnic and religious groups against one another, a problem that has long bedeviled Nigeria. Simple geography also helped the city administration. The powerful and wealthy classes are more likely to insist on better governance when their own neighborhoods are affected.

And unlike national politicians, local leaders know that the better they perform, the more money their city nets. The better its roads, schools and business environment, the more likely companies will pay taxes, and individuals will buy goods and services, which also contribute to the tax base. At the national level, by contrast, the great majority of the central government’s income has little to do with government’s performance, since about 75 percent of the national budget comes from the $50 billion a year that Nigeria collects in oil revenue.

Can Lagos really save Nigeria? Alone, it’s unlikely — one factor is that the country’s population is expected to continue mushrooming to 400 million by mid-century — but Lagos can now be the model for transferring more authority to other cities, such as Ibadan, Kano and Benin City. And they, in turn, could help to shift the polarized national politics that produce the same cadre of unaccountable elites year after year.

For example, if local politicians were better able to raise and regulate local taxes, they would find themselves more accountable to the population. And they would presumably establish a more welcoming local environment for business to flourish, and perhaps start a nationwide chain reaction unleashing the country’s famous entrepreneurialism. If income levels rose, education and a rising middle class might follow. Greater affluence and aspiration, in turn, tend to act as a useful brake on population growth.

Elsewhere, other cities offer a similar lesson. In Medellín, Colombia, the city government outshone the national government in the late 1990s by setting up a network of publicly funded business support centers, investing strategically in transportation and security, and introducing its own program of cash grants to help the poor. Cities such as Chennai and Hyderabad in India have similarly outperformed India’s national government in promoting growth, educating children and reducing crime and poverty.

Can this model hold out hope for other fragile states? Countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan and Kenya all suffer from weak and dysfunctional governments, but have cities that could be the basis for a similar model of development. Regular local elections could spur significant changes in Kinshasa, Karachi and Nairobi, respectively, if the cities were granted more autonomy and the tax base was broadened to make government more dependent on local citizens and companies.

Almost half of the developing world’s population now lives in cities, and rapid urbanization is expected to increase this proportion to two-thirds within a few decades, according to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. The city is now the main driver of growth and stability across Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. And the example of Lagos shows that countries can begin to work better when their cities are well governed and thriving.

In other words, cities can help save countries.

Written by Seth D. Kaplan


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

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Comedian Basket Mouth under fire for rape joke

The Nigerian comedian Basketmouth has come under fire on social media after posting a joke about the difference between dating "white girls" and "African girls". In a nutshell, white women put out after a couple of dates, but African women keep holding out, so on the ninth date a bit of rape is required.

Funny? No. Instead, most Nigerian and other African commentators found it offensive. Basketmouth was trivialising rape in a country suffering from an epidemic of sexual violence.

"Show me a man who is insensitive to rape and I'll show you a man who is capable of rape&hellip," tweeted the Nigerian novelist Chika Unigwe.

Basketmouth had his defenders, who went the usual route of calling those who criticised him over-sensitive, or humourless, or saying they perhaps missed some grand satirical intention.

The comedian himself eventually claimed that he was trying to flag up an important social issue: "I would never in a thousand lifetimes encourage rape, I broadcasted a joke that many clearly misunderstood and have found offensive and I sincerely apologise, the intention however was to highlight an unfortunate trend and the ridiculously flawed comparison between money & the worth of a woman."<

But his full apology only came after a half-hearted first attempt, and he has form – a year ago he entertained a British crowd with a charming granny-rape joke.

Basketmouth is just one in a pantheon of international stand-up comedians to use the rape of women as a subject for a cheap laugh (British 'comic' and tax avoider Jimmy Carr has been mining this seam for years). But in Africa he is a lightning conductor – he's the one with the big profile, who chose to shout out his rape joke to his one million Facebook fans. He's the big goofy team mascot for those Nigerian men who think women are teases and there for the taking. #basketmouthgate, as nobody called it, opened up a whole debate about the subject of rape in Nigeria and beyond.

There is no doubt that rape is a problem in Nigeria. When writer Elnathan John spoke about marital rape, he was attacked by angry men for daring to suggest that a woman could withhold sex once the ink on the marriage contract was dry.

On Twitter this week he said: "There is a reason Basketmouth makes so many people laugh with female rape jokes. We condone it. It is not yet a big deal here… All rape is abominable, but I tell you if men got raped as often as women, there would be no celebration of rape jokes."

Victim-blaming is widespread in Africa and much of the world – an Indian judge recently said that a Dalit woman who was brutally raped had indicated her sexual availability by going out of her house after dark. Across many countries in Africa, so called mini-skirt laws are being debated – the implication being that men are animals and women pieces of meat who should know better than to flash the flesh at their predators.

What happens in Nigeria is that women are often raped. They are raped in their homes by their husbands, on dates with men who think that a meal or a few drinks have purchased her consent; they are raped in police custody; they are raped by their teacher, professor or fellow students when they're trying to get their education.

The state colludes with this by failing to collate coherent statistics about rape and sexual violence, rendering these crimes invisible – or at least until some buffoon raises his head above the parapet to joke about them.

It seems that perpetrators can often get away with rape, but that critics jumping on a rape joke by a comedian is beyond the pale for some. Get a sense of humour and stop messing with our fun, was the general message from Basketmouth's apologists, mostly men. Nigerian-British blogger Mia Farraday (a pseudonym) was one of Basketmouth's biggest detractors on Twitter. "I made a fuss about this quite deliberately. Not because I've never heard a rape joke before or because I'm a secret Basketmouth hater… It's because Nigeria has a real and present rape epidemic and because our sense of humour about everything is often detrimental."

Writer and former Basketmouth fan from Zimbabwe Barbara Mhangami addressed a strong blog post to him after the joke was made public. In it, she says:

"From an early age girls are taught to view themselves from the negatives that are heaped on them because men rape. It is girls' fault that men are depraved. We teach them not to walk alone after dark, not to be alone with boys, to wear 'decent clothes. Yet after all this, many are still raped. Why is that, Mr Basketmouth? BECAUSE BOYS AND MEN ARE NOT BEING TAUGHT THAT RAPE IS NOT A JOKE!"

Of course, rape culture diminishes men as well as women. A woman is passive, a thing, without agency – but a man is, says the rape culture model, a flesh-covered skeleton with a penis and a bunch of uncontrollable impulses. Yes, most of humanity are capable of gross abuses of power if they are conditioned to them and feel they have the backing of the crowd – what is wrong can seem like the norm, or even funny or enjoyable.

Challenging rape culture is about calling out the men, one by one, who joke about or belittle women, and violence against them. It's about looking one man in the eye – your colleague, your family member, your friend – looking directly at them and explaining why one flippant comment can add to the weight of ALL the comments, which in turn diminish women as humans, which in turn makes it easier for a man to do what he can to them without their conscience reacting.

And this time, on Twitter at least, Nigeria fought back. Its women, and many of its men, called bullshit on Basketmouth, they hit him where it really hurts – in the wallet – by threatening to boycott his shows and by alerting his sponsors to his joke.

As Nigerian TedxEuston organiser Patrick Anigbo put it: "Well done to my people for rejecting this scourge totally. And those few thousands that did not get it, I hope you have learnt today."

Several Twitter users even suggested that Basketmouth should use his platform to educate his fans about rape culture – or even become an anti-rape activist. So, Basketmouth, the ball's in your court. But the ball is also in the court of every citizen of Nigeria and any other country where rape culture reigns.


Mosque attacked in Kano

Gunmen have attacked a mosque in the northern Nigerian state of Kano, killing three worshippers and wounding 12 others, police say.

The attackers sprayed bullets into the mosque in the home village of Kano governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso.

His elderly father was in the mosque, but escaped unhurt, witnesses said.

No group has said it carried out the attack but one of Mr Kwankwaso's aides said it was punishment for his recent defection from the governing party.

Islamist group Boko Haram has also staged several attacks in Kano and elsewhere in northern Nigeria.

The run-up to elections in oil-rich Nigeria is often marred by violence between rival political groups.

Mr Kwankwaso was among five influential governors who defected from President Goodluck Jonathan's People's Democratic Party (PDP) to the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) in November.

Heshimu Suleiman, a special assistant to the governor, said the attack was politically motivated to punish Mr Kwankwaso for defecting, reports the AP news agency.

The PDP has not yet commented on the allegation.

In December, Nigeria's ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo said it would be "morally flawed" for Mr Jonathan to seek re-election next year.

He said Mr Jonathan had failed to tackle Nigeria's many problems, including corruption and an insurgency led by the militant Islamist group Boko Haram.

Mr Jonathan defended his record in government, but has not yet declared his candidature.


Monday, January 6, 2014

1600 Nigerians repatriated from Central African Republic

Nigeria is repatriating more than 1,600 citizens who have gathered in its embassy in the Central African Republic’s capital Bangui, as the violence continues in the country.

“The Federal Government has ... arranged several chartered flights to bring home over 1,620 Nigerians who took refuge at the Nigerian Embassy in Bangui,” Chris Olukolade, a spokesman for the Nigerian army, said in a statement issued on Sunday.

The statement added that evacuation operation started on Friday and half of the Nigerian nationals have been brought home.

The government of Mali was scheduled to evacuate some 500 of its citizens by two flights on Sunday.

Over 100 of Niger's citizens left the restive country for the capital Niamey, on Friday night.

The Central African Republic’s immediate northern neighbor, Chad, has already sent 12,000 of its citizens home through land and air while Senegal repatriated over 200 of its nationals earlier this week.

The Central African Republic spiraled into chaos in March last year when Seleka fighters overthrew President Francois Bozizé and brought Michel Djotodia to power. Bozizé fled the country after his ouster.

On September 13, 2013, Djotodia dissolved the Seleka coalition. Some of the rebels later joined the country’s regular army while some defied.

France invaded the Central African Republic on December 5, 2013, after the UN Security Council adopted a resolution giving the African Union and Paris the go-ahead to send troops to the country.

France has currently 1,600 troops in the African country, claiming that the aim of the mission is to create stability in the Central African Republic in order to allow humanitarian aid to reach violence-hit areas.

There are many mineral resources, including gold and diamond, in the Central African Republic.


Friday, January 3, 2014

Video - Nigerian filmmaker Kunle Afolayan wants to transcend Nollywood

Nigeria's film industry, known as Nollywood, started just over 20 years ago and is now the third largest in the world. Many of its low-budget films follow well-tried formulas with huge doses of love, betrayal and, often, witchcraft. However, some Nigerian filmmakers are working outside the Nollywood genre, hoping to succeed internationally. Kunle Afolayan is one of them. He studied film in New York and October 1 is his first big budget movie.