Monday, March 31, 2014

Video - Housing crisis in Abuja, Nigeria

Since Nigeria's capital was built after a 1970s oil boom, it has grown into one of Africa's most expensive cities. Wealthy politicians and tycoons are among the elite who call Abuja home. But many others have been priced out, including hundreds of thousands of civil servants who keep the government running.

 Related story: Video - Housing shortage in Nigeria

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

Sunday, March 30, 2014

21 dead in attempted jail break near Presidential villa

A shootout at Nigeria's State Security Services headquarters near the presidential villa killed at least 21 people Sunday, a government spokeswoman said of what appears to be an attempted jailbreak by Islamic extremists.

Residents described shooting that went on for more than two hours Sunday morning.

Security services spokeswoman Marilyn Ogar tried to minimize the event, saying it involved one detainee who tried to disarm a guard by hitting him on the back of his head with his handcuffs. Ogar's statement said the only shots fired were warnings by guards and soldiers who quickly deployed around the perimeter of the compound, fearing collaborators from the outside.

Later Sunday Ogar reported 21 deaths — but did not specify if the fatalities included security agents and soldiers. She said two "service personnel" were seriously injured.

Residents described a shootout that began at about 7 a.m., when detainees are served breakfast, and continued until after 9 a.m.

"Whatever this is, it appears more serious than an attempted jailbreak claimed by the SSS," said a tweet posted by Nasir El-Rufai, a former Cabinet minister who lives in the neighborhood. He said there were exchanges of gunfire and a helicopter gunship hovering overhead.

"What I witnessed with my eyes and heard this morning was a full-scale battle," tweeted another former Cabinet minister, Femi Fani-Kayode. He said he lives 50 meters (55 yards) from the state security headquarters and the presidential villa called Aso Rock.

Agents at the scene said a detainee received a smuggled pistol along with his breakfast, and used it to shoot a guard who had unlocked his handcuffs so he could eat. It was unclear if the guard survived. The agents spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to reporters.

Jailbreaks are common in Nigeria, often aided by corrupt officials. But not from the state security headquarters which holds suspects of special interest including alleged fighters in the northeastern Islamic uprising that has killed more than 1,000 people this year.

That insurgency is led by the Boko Haram terrorist network that on March 14 staged a daring jailbreak in an attack on Giwa Barracks, the main military barracks in the northeastern city of Maiduguri. Hundreds of detainees held at the barracks were freed. The military said it killed hundreds of them. Hospital workers said they counted 425 corpses at the morgue, the worst fatalities recorded in the 4-year-old uprising.


Friday, March 28, 2014

12 including 2 British nationals arrested for oil theft in Nigeria

Nigeria has arrested two Britons and 10 of its own citizens on charges of trying to bribe a military officer to facilitate oil theft, the military said on Friday.

Oil theft by armed gangs is rampant in Africa's top crude-producing country, with estimates ranging from 100,000 barrels to 250,000 barrels a day lost to so-called "bunkerers".

Major-General E.J. Atewe, commander of the mixed military and police Joint Task Force (JTF) for the oil-producing Niger Delta region, said two of the bunkerers, both Nigerian, had gone to an officer to request clearance to move the crude oil.

They had openly admitted their plan was to hack into a pipeline and connect a hose that would siphon crude out of it onto a waiting boat, and offered him $6,500 to provide a gunboat to protect them on the way out.

"The suspects were immediately arrested for attempting to bribe the brigade commander for economic sabotage," Atewe said in a statement, and a follow-up operation had led to the arrest of two Britons and another eight Nigerians.

Stories of collusion with the security forces are common and the sheer scale of oil theft in Nigeria would not be possible without systematic collusion by various security agencies, security sources say.

Loss of output from theft and outages caused by sabotaging pipelines has cost the treasury - which relies on oil for about 80 percent of revenues - billions of dollars. Critics, however, say theft is exaggerated to cover up embezzlement of oil revenues by officials in the state oil firm, a charge they deny.

Oil theft has contributed to the high likelihood Nigeria will lose its top African crude oil exporter spot in May, as exports could fall to their lowest since records began in 2009.

Production of the Forcados grade has been hit by

underwater pipeline leakage, which Shell blamed on oil theft, and which led the operator to declare force majeure on the grade this week.

Despite widespread evidence of collusion between Nigerian security forces, the government has been keen to portray oil theft as the work of foreign criminal gangs. Analysts say the main buyers are gangs in the Balkans and refiners in Singapore.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Video - Oil theft a threat to Nigeria's economy

Oil theft is a threat to the Nigerian economy that the government is determined to curb. On Sunday at the Global Nuclear Security Summit in the Netherlands it announced it had allocated huge resources to cut down on theft and vandalism and to prosecute thieves.

Aliko Dangote 'Africa's richest man' plans to acquire Shell assets

Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, is planning to acquire a stake in a Nigerian gas field owned by Anglo-Dutch multinational energy giant Shell.

According to a report by Africa Intelligence, Dangote Industries submitted the highest bid for Shell’s stake in Oil Mining Lease (OML) 18 at an auction organized last year in the Niger Delta region. The financial details of the bid and the exact stake Dangote is looking to acquire are undisclosed.

Shell is currently the operator of the Alakiri Creek plant on the OML 18 field. The Alakiri Creek plant processes 80 million standard cubic feet per day (MMpc/d), but has the potential to rise to 120 million square feet per day (mmsf/d). The OML 18 field is said to have reserves of close to 1.5 billion barrel of oil equivalent (BOE) of gas.

This is not the first time Dangote would make an attempt to acquire an asset owned by the Dutch oil major. In 2010 Dangote put in a bid for Shell’s 45% stake on OML 30, but lost his bid to Conoil Producing, an exploration company owned by billionaire Mike Adenuga. The Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), the exploration and production subsidiary of the Nigerian government-owned oil company would later cancel the sale of the stake to Adenuga and sell it to London-listed Heritage Oil PLC. Shell has recently been divesting from some of its key Nigerian assets in the wake of crude oil theft and weak refining margins.

Dangote, who made his $24 billion fortune trading cement, sugar and flour, has recently ramped up his efforts to boost his investments in Nigeria’s booming oil sector. While his largest and most publicized investment in the energy sector is a planned $9 billion private oil refinery in Nigeria, Dangote also owns minority stakes in a handful of oil exploration concerns, including a 9% stake in block 1 in the Joint Development Zone between Nigeria and Sao Tome, where Chevron is the operator. He also owns a 10% stake of block 3 in the JDZ.


Related stories: Nigerian Aliko Dangote is 23rd richest man in the world

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

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Godwin Emefiele to replace Lamido Sanusi as Cenral Bank Governor

Nigeria’s upper house of parliament approved President Goodluck Jonathan’s nomination of Godwin Emefiele as the country’s next central bank governor.

The Senate confirmed Emefiele, the 52-year-old chief executive officer of Zenith Bank Plc, at a hearing today in the capital, Abuja. He will take up his post in June, replacing Lamido Sanusi, 52, who was suspended by Jonathan last month for “financial recklessness and misconduct.” Sanusi has denied the allegations.

Emefiele will have to steer Africa’s most populous nation through next year’s presidential election amid pressure to boost government spending, support a currency that has declined 2.5 percent versus the dollar this year and keep inflation under control. He also faces the task of convincing investors and the public of the independence of the central bank following Sanusi’s removal.

The Monetary Policy Committee, led by acting Governor Sarah Alade, held its key interest rate at a record 12 percent and increased the cash reserve requirements on private sector deposits to 15 percent from 12 percent yesterday, citing the continued need for a tight monetary stance. It was the first MPC meeting since Sanusi was dismissed.

Sanusi’s suspension came after he alleged that billions of dollars of government oil revenue were unaccounted for. Jonathan’s actions were criticized by investors concerned that the independence of the central bank may be compromised.

A banker with 26 years of experience, Emefiele became the managing director of Zenith Bank, Nigeria’s second-largest lender by assets, in August 2010 after serving as deputy managing director from 2001.

He has an MBA degree from the University of Nigeria in Nsukka and lectured at the University of Port Harcourt, the institution where Jonathan taught before he entered politics.


Fire at Central Bank of Nigeria office in Lagos

The Tinubu, Lagos office of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, went up in flames yesterday.

The cause of the fire said to have started from the third floor of the five storey building was yet to be ascertained as at time of writing this report.

But unconfirmed report said it was caused by electrical fault.

It was gathered that it started at about 5.10pm as workers were about moving documents and other sensitive items to the new building . Eye witnesses said an alarm was raised by a passer-by who noticed smoke billowing from the affected floor, causing staff of the apex bank who had closed for the day to scamper for safety.

The Lagos State Director of Fire Service, Mr. Rasaq Fadipe, when contacted, said two fire trucks from Onikan and Sari Iganmu stations with 10,000 litres of water each were drafted to the scene immediately information reached the service at about 5.45pm.

The fire fighters were still battling to contain the situation at about 6.50pm.

Fadipe could, however, not give the exact number of offices affected. He stated that it would be ascertained at the end of the operation, assuring that his men were on top of the situation.

The tragedy took a new turn when a state fire officer (names withheld) collapsed due to suffocation by the fumes he inhaled but he was later rescued and taken to a nearby hospital.

CBN reacts

While reacting to the fire incidence, the Director, Corporate Communications Department, Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Mr. Isaac Okorafor, in a statement said: "The CBN wishes to inform its stakeholders and the general public that a fire incident occurred at its Lagos Branch Office at about 5.30 this evening (Tuesday, March 25, 2014).

"The fire, which occurred on the first floor of the building, has been put out by a combined team of fire fighters from the CBN and other institutions. We wish to assure our numerous stakeholders that the records of the bank are intact, as the bank has an effective backup of all its records as part of our disaster recovery infrastructure."


Monday, March 24, 2014

Video - Local govrnment fight to take youth off the streets in Kano, Nigeria

Northern Nigeria has some of the highest unemployment and school dropout in the world. Many of those jobless young people are exploited as foot soldiers for criminal gangs. Several programmes have started to try and nip trouble in the bud.

Video - Increase in child rape cases in Kano, Nigeria

Convicted child rapists could be jailed for life in Nigeria, as part of government efforts to stop the rising number of sexual assaults. A hundred rape cases were recorded in just two months in the northern state of Kano.

Boko Haram market bomb blast leaves 20 dead in

Suspected Islamist militants detonated a bomb in a crowded marketplace in northeastern Nigeria killing at least 20 people, witnesses said on Sunday.

Nigerian security officials said the attack late on Saturday in the town of Bama in Borno state bore the hallmarks of an attack by the al Qaeda-linked militant group Boko Haram, which is fighting to carve an Islamic state out of northeast Nigeria.

Security sources say Boko Haram has killed hundreds, possibly thousands, this year in a campaign of violence that is growing in intensity.

"I travelled to Bama buy bags of beans. Suddenly, there was a deafening bang at the middle of the market. It was in the late afternoon and commercial activities were at their peak," said Shuaibu Abdulahi, a trader at the market. He estimated the death toll to be as high as 29.

Abba Tahir, a bus driver who was offloading passengers at the market, said he counted 20 bodies.

"People were helping in evacuating the corpses after the confusion had died down. Some people who were injured were taken to the general hospital," Tahir said.

There was no claim of responsibility for the attack. The military spokesman for Borno state did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A military crackdown since last May has failed to quell the insurgency, which after four and a half years remains the leading security threat to Africa's top oil producer.

Borno state has ordered all of its schools to shut before the end of term to protect children after Islamists killed dozens of pupils in an attack last month, state officials said on Friday.

Security officials said Boko Haram had shot or burned to death at least 29 pupils in a boarding school in northeast Nigeria. A journalist who counted bodies in the morgue after the attack put the figure at 59.

The failure of the military to protect civilians is fuelling anger in the northeast, although state security officials have claimed some recent successes, including killing several militants as they tried to escape from a prison in Borno's state capital Maiduguri this month.


Police investigate house of horror in Ibadan

Nigerian police have opened a murder investigation after human skeletons and body parts were discovered in an abandoned building in the south-west.

Officers also rescued several people nearby who had been chained together and appeared severely malnourished.

The alarm had been raised by motorcycle taxi riders in the city of Ibadan after some of their colleagues went missing.

Several people have been arrested in the city - Nigeria's third largest - a police spokeswoman said.

Living skeletons

When police searched the abandoned building - dubbed the "house of horror" by the media - they found skeletons, decomposing bodies, skulls and bones on bloodstained floors.

A number of people were found shackled in leg-irons inside the building.

"Some seven malnourished human beings looking like living skeletons were also rescued in the bushes surrounding the building," police spokeswoman Olabisi Ilobanafor told AFP.

She said the motorbike riders had stumbled on the bodies after complaining to police about the disappearance of colleagues in suspicious circumstances.

"It is not a common occurrence in Ibadan or in the (Oyo) state. The police will investigate this crime in all its ramifications," she said.

Observers say some victims of kidnapping are often tortured or used as sacrifices in black magic rituals.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Nigerian filmmaker Kunle Afolayan talks with SaharaTV about his career and the industry

Award winning Nigerian film maker, Kunle Afolayan has produced movies that won for him international accolades. The veteran actor shares with SaharaTV his definition of "Nollywood", what it takes to make quality movies in Nigeria and his passion for making film with special cut on African culture.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Video - KICKTV profiles Nigeria's Super Eagles ahead of 2014 World Cup

The World Cup is less than 100 days away, and to kick things off, KICKTV in partnership with Howler Magazine is rolling out its World Cup Crash Course. Next up, Nigeria. The Super Eagles are bringing a strong mix of veterans and youngsters. But will it be enough to get out of their group?

Oil reserves in Nigeria drop to 35 billion barrels

The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) said on Tuesday that Nigeria oil reserves had dropped from 40 billion to 35 billion barrels.

A Director in the department, Mr George Osahon, made this known in an interview with newsmen at the ongoing Oil and Gas Seminar in Abuja.

Osahon attributed the development to reduction in oil production in the country.
He said that some oil wells in the Niger Delta had stopped production because they had attained “maturity.”

He also said that vandalism and other unwholesome acts in the oil distribution process in the region accounted for the drop in production of crude oil.

Osahon said that the situation called for worry, adding that there was urgent need to boost oil exploration in order to shore up the dwindling reserves.

“Oil reserves are dropping and our output is dropping too. What we are supposed to do to correct this is to continue to explore and explore and explore for more oil.

“We started with ‘2D seismic’; now we are at the ‘3D seismic’. Already, 1,300 exploration wells have been drilled so far.

“We need to do more in this regard so as to have more reserves. We have reached the plateau of production in the Niger Delta and we are already going down”, he said.

The director said a lot of money had been spent in the effort to increase reserves from the old fields.
On exploration at the Chad basin, he said that oil had not been found there but stressed “that we have not found anything at the Chad basin as at today does not mean that oil is not in the basin.

“We are optimistic about this. We have come up with strategies to boost our reserves and in due course, we would make this known.’’

He said that other things to do to shore up the nation’s reserves were seismic data coverage and drilling of exploration wells, enhanced recovery methods, utilisation of non-saddled reservoirs and bitumen exploration.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Video - President Goodluck Jonathan urges ethnic unity

Nearly 500 delegates attended a national conference in Abuja to decide on Nigeria's future, representing the country's many ethnic, linguistic and religious groups. In the most populous country in Africa, Nigeria is also the continent's top oil producer. Many of them are now demanding a bigger slice of the country's resources.

30 million Nigerians don't have access to electricity

The Federal Government has said that over 30 million Nigerians have no access to electricity supply because they are yet to be connected to the national electricity grid.

The Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, who disclosed this while declaring open, the Nigerian Renewable Energy Private Equity seminar in Abuja, said most of the affected Nigerians are in the rural areas.

Speaking at the seminar organised to sensitise investors, fund managers, policy makers and other stakeholders on the need to support the development of renewable energy, the minister called for more private sector financing to improve electricity supply.

Represented by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Amb. Godknows Igali, he noted that the training is meant to sensitise and mobilise stakeholders to initiate an equity fund through private sector participation to promote sustainable energy.

Citing the United Nations Report on access to power, he said, "there is still a wide gap in power supply. Sadly for us here in Nigeria, we still have about 30 million people that do not have access to power at all."

"This is the reason the federal government is focusing on Renewable Energy (RE) particularly off-grid solar and small hydros that would not need to depend on the national grid," Nebo explained.

He disclosed further that government is now rounding up on financing process for the 3050mw Mambilla hydro dam and would soon be flagged off by President Goodluck Jonathan.

He said, "There are 264 hydro dams which have not been fully utilised, so in this first quarter, government did a study and is fixing the turbines and other components in 12 of them to increase their generation capacity."

In his remarks, the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said there is a need to supplement mainstream power generation through the harnessing of renewable energy.

Okonjo-Iweala, who was represented by Hajia Lare Shuaibu, said that the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Company Plc (NBET) has received proposals and enquiries on developing the vast renewable energy in Nigeria.

"Giving the national resources of sunlight, wind, biomass among others, we need to start thinking of how they can be harnessed for the power sector," she added.

The Chief Executive Officer, Henshaw Capital Partners, Ms. Barbara James said in her remarks that business financing through banking lending and capital market lending at a percentage of the GDP is still relatively low, about 20 percent unlike in other advanced countries like Brazil.

James noted that the seminar is to prepare the grounds for an intended development of a Private Equity and Venture Capital where resources would be pooled to develop a sustainable renewable energy for the country.

She stated that private equity is an ecosystem that involves investors, fund managers, entrepreneurs, and the policy makers adding that, "We work with these different groups in the ecosystem to raise their awareness, engage them in pre-investment and post investment activities in the sector."

Also speaking, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Power, Senator Philip Aduda, said despite the vast renewable energy sources, Nigeria still experienced acute inadequate power supply, adding that renewable energy needs to be developed to boost supply.


Related story: Video - Nigerian economy growing despite epileptic power supply

Monday, March 17, 2014

Video - Finance minister Okonjo-Iweala talks to CNN about gay rights

Fareed asks Okonjo-Iweala about Nigeria's anti-gay laws. Her response: "We need a conversation ... We need evolution."

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Video -16 feared dead in stampede at recruitment drive in Abuja

Over 125,000 applicants in Abuja and Lagos alone chasing 4,500 jobs! 16 feared dead in the scramble. Thousands fainted from stampede and exhaustion.

Many more applicants thronged the remaining 35 states of the federation.

These casualty figures from the recruitment test centres of the National Immigration Service (NIS), held across the country, yesterday, told the story of Nigeria’s frightening unemployment situation.

In Lagos and Abuja alone, 56,000 and 69,000 applicants respectively sat for the job test.

Thousands of others took the exercise in other state capitals.

NIS allegedly raked N6billion from the applicants as processing fee.

Each applicant paid N1,000.

At the National Stadium, Abuja, which was the centre for the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, eight applicants were reported dead.

Four others were feared dead at the Port Harcourt, Rivers State centre, three in Minna, Niger State and one in Benin-City, Edo State.

Unconfirmed reports claimed the Benin-City victim was a pregnant applicant.

Stampede was reported in Akure where 12,000 were invited for the test.

Thousands of certificates were allegedly lost at the Ondo State centre.

At the Abuja centre, the thousands of applicants were overwhelmed with emotions as eight of their colleagues were allegedly taken to the mortuary.

About 50 were said to have fainted and several others injured.

The tragedy, it was learnt, happened in the morning when the crowd of applicants was trying to gain entry into the test venue.

The test eventually started around 3.30p.m.

One of the applicants at the centre, Abubakar Isah Wada, told Sunday Vanguard, yesterday.

“Government is not treating unemployed youths well. Due to this disorganised nature of our country and lack of discipline, some persons died this morning and several fainted,” Wada said.

“Government needs to recognise the plight of unemployed graduates and not waste time and money on issues that are not important to the development of this country”.

Another applicant said: “Immigration (NIS) should have divided the applicants and run this test on different days rather than bringing all of us here like this to pass through this suffering. If President Jonathan really wants to come back in 2015, this is his ticket”.

At the National Hospital, Abuja, the Director of Management Information, Mr Tayo Haastrup, confirmed the death of seven persons and 40 sustaining various degrees of injuries in the stampede at the recruitment venue.

Poor crowd control

At the Liberation Stadium, Port Harcourt venue where four applicants reportedly died, no fewer than 23, 000 sat for the test.

Some of the applicants blamed the incident on poor crowd control. According to them, the 16,000 capacity stadium was relatively small to accommodate the 23,000 that turned up for the exercise.

They said security men had a hectic time controlling the crowd of applicants. “Some applicants who were finding it difficult to get into the stadium suddenly started pushing their way through. Some persons reportedly stepped on those who fell on the ground,” an eye witness said.

According to him security men had to fire shots into the air to stop those still outside from pushing to get inside the stadium. ” More persons would have died if the security men had not shot into the air. The shot stopped those who were outside from pushing in “, he stated.

Some of the applicants said they lost the originals of their certificate during the commotion.

Sunday Vanguard gathered that a pregnant woman was among those who died from exhaustion.

But the spokesman for the NIS in Rivers State, Mr Bisong Abang, denied deaths during the stampede. He however said those who sustained injuries were treated by medics on ground, adding that those who turned up for the screening exercise far exceeded the number of applicants.

Some critical cases were rushed in an army ambulance vehicle with registration number NA 307 EOI to hospital for medical attention.
Applicants were still being attended to by NIS officials at the time our correspondent left the stadium.

Examiner confused
At the Minna centre, four of the 11,000 applicants were said to have died while scrambling to gain access into the examination hall.The candidates had reportedly been subjected to standing on the queue for several hours while the chief examiner was calling the applicants into the hall. It was learnt that the candidates, having waited for hours and becoming restless, started shunting which led to a stampede leaving the examiners confused.

In an effort to bring orderliness, officers of the NIS stationed at the Women’s Day Secondary School, venue of the test, fired cannisters of teargas into the crowd. This led to several of the applicants falling down and trampled upon.Three of them were reportedly confirmed dead. The remains of the applicants, it was learnt, were deposited at the Minna General Hospital. Contacted,Controller of Immigration in Minna, Ezekiel Kaura, confirmed that five people were rushed to hospital after the stampede but could not confirm how many people died. He also said 11,000 applicants were expected to sit for the test.

Many of the 12,000 applicants, who sat for the examination at the CAC Grammar School, Akure, lost their certificates in the stampede that attended the exercise.

Tragic town

The NIS recruitment exercise in Benin-City turned tragic when a pregnant woman died at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium Benin-city venue after collapsing. About 20 others were said to have been injured.

She reportedly died in a stampede. The 20,000 applicants who came from different states of the South- south thronged the stadium at about 5am but it was learnt that screening could not start till about 2:30pm.

Many of the applicants complained bitterly that the exercise was poorly conducted and wondered why people could be subjected to such inhuman treatment.

PDP shocked by deaths

In the meantime, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday, challenged government agencies, as well as elected and appointed officials at all levels to redouble their efforts to curb unemployment in the country, just as it described the death of the NIS applicants as shocking and unfortunate.

In a statement by the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, the party, while calling for investigation into the remote and immediate cause, said it was extremely grieved by the death of the young Nigerians.


At least 100 dead in attack on village in Kaduna, Nigeria

At least 100 villagers have been killed in Nigeria's central Kaduna state in attacks linked to disputes between ethnic groups, officials say.

Heavily armed men entered three villages in the Kaura district in the south of the state.

It is not clear who was behind the attacks, but residents blame members of the mainly Muslim Fulani tribe.

Central Nigeria has often witnessed violence stemming from disputes over land and religion.

Thousands of people have been killed in recent years in violence blamed on semi-nomadic Fulani herdsmen attacking Christian farmers.

A member of Kaduna's state assembly, Yakubu Bitiyong, visited the scene of the most recent attacks, which took place on Friday night.

Most of those killed in the villages of Ugwar Sankwai, Ungwan Gata and Chenshyi, had been so badly burned they could not be identified, he told the BBC. Houses were destroyed by fire and food supplies looted.

Mr Bitiyong said two of the attackers were also killed and their bodies taken away by police, who have sent in reinforcements.

The unrest is not connected with the continuing Islamist insurgency carried out by the Boko Haram group, which wants to impose Sharia law in the north.

The attacks in Kaduna came only a day after reports emerged of 69 people being killed over several days in northern Katsina state when dozens of armed men arrived in villages on motorbikes.

Violence in that area has also been blamed on Fulani attacking local farmers from the Muslim Hausa ethnic group, rather than the Christian community.


Friday, March 14, 2014

Nigerian best selling author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie wins Americia's National Critics Book prize

Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has won the US National Critics Book Prize for her novel Americanah.

The writer's work tells the story of a Nigerian woman who moves to the US to pursue a college education.

In 2008, her second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, won the UK's Orange Prize and Purple Hibiscus was longlisted for the Booker Prize four years earlier.

Other category winners for the US honour included Sheri Fink's book about Hurricane Katrina.

Her account of the patients, staff and families who took shelter in New Orleans' Memorial Hospital during the devastating storm took the non-fiction prize.

Frank Bidart won the poetry section for his collection Metaphysical Dog, while Amy Wilentz was honoured with the autobiography award for her account of journeys to Haiti following the 2010 earthquake in the country. 'It takes an outsider'

For the first time, a special award was given for a debut writer, crossing all categories.

Anthony Marra was honoured with the prize for his novel A Constellation of Vital Phenomena.

Adichie's third novel was also named as one of the New York Times' top 10 books of 2013.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, the author said her book drew on her own experiences as an African living in the US, particularly with African Americans.

"I don't know race in the way an African American knows race… Sometimes it takes an outsider to see something about your own reality that you don't," she said.

Her preceding work, Half of a Yellow Sun, is set during the Biafran War of the late 1960s and has been adapted into a forthcoming film starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Thandie Newton.

The writer is also in the running for the UK's Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction - formerly known as the Orange Prize - for Americanah.

The National Critics Book Prize was first awarded in 1974 and is open to writers of all nationalities whose work has been published in the US.


Related stories: Video - Best selling author Chimamanda Adichie talks about her new book and gives praise to Lupita Nyongo

Best selling author Chimamanda Adichie addresses Nigeria's anti-gay law
Chimamanda Adichie's Americanah tops BBC top 10 book of 2013

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Attack by gunmen leave 69 people dead in Katsina

Gunmen on motorbikes in Katsina state killed at least 69 people and torched several homes in attacks on four villages, a local lawmaker said Thursday, amid rising communal tension in the region.

The state’s police chief, Hurdi Mohammed, who gave a lower toll of 30 dead, told AFP the violence was perpetrated by ethnic Fulani herdsmen who have been blamed for scores of deadly raids.

 “So far, 69 bodies have been recovered from the attacks carried out by a large group of gunmen riding on motorcycles,” said Katsina lawmaker Abbas Abdullahi Michika of the violence which first broke out late Tuesday. “The victims include men, women and children.

Rescue teams are still combing nearby bushes in search for more bodies,” he told AFP. He specified that 47 people were killed in the village of Mararrabar Maigora while seven deaths were recorded in both Kura Mota and Unguwar Rimi.

 Another eight people were killed in Maigora, according to Michika. Fulani leaders have for years complained about the loss of grazing land which is crucial to their livelihood, with resentment between the herdsmen and their agrarian neighbours rising over the past decade. Most of the Fulani-linked violence has been concentrated in the religiously divided centre of the country, where rivalries between mostly Muslim herdsmen and mostly Christian farmers have helped fuel the unrest.

While there is no religion element to the conflict in Katsina, which is overwhelmingly Muslim, tensions between the Fulani and ethnically Hausa farmers have worsened in recent months. Residents have blamed the Fulani for several violent robberies this year.

Three people were killed earlier this month in Katsina when suspected Fulani gunmen opened fire at a checkpoint. The police chief insisted the attacks were not linked to Islamist group Boko Haram, whose insurgency has killed more than 500 people in the northeast already this year.


Video - Nigeria demands justice for Nigerian brutally mistreated by South African police

Nigeria has protested to South Africa about a "merciless attack" by police on one of its nationals in Cape Town, its foreign ministry has said.

An amateur video on social media sites purportedly shows the man being stripped, assaulted and handcuffed by policemen and security guards.

Nigeria had sent a "strongly worded" note to Pretoria, demanding justice for the man, the ministry said.

Two South African police officers have been arrested.

Rights groups have often accused South African police officers of brutality, incompetence and corruption.

"The Nigerian High Commission will continue to monitor the case with keen interest until justice is achieved," the ministry said in a statement.

South Africa's police watchdog, the Independent Police Directorate, has said the officers would be charged with assault.

About 17,000 registered Nigerians live in South Africa, but correspondents say there are many more illegal immigrants.

Last year, Mozambican national Mido Macia died after being dragged behind a moving police patrol van in a town east of Johannesburg.

Nine officers are standing trial for his killing.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Stephen Keshi is ranked 24th best coach in the world

Super Eagles coach, Stephen Okechukwu Keshi  has been named the 24th best national team coach in the world by The Institute of Football Coaching and Statistics.

The listing, which is the latest by the body, also named the Head coach of Ghana Black Stars James Kwesi Appiah in the 42nd position.

Top of the list

The coach of the Spanish national team, Vincente Del Bosque tops the list with 25188 points followed by Germany Joachim Low with 21422 points.

Oscar Tabarez of Uruguay placed 3rd, Italy Ceasre Prandelli came fourth, Netherlands Van Marwijk 5th, Jurgen Klinsmann 6th , Poalo Jorge Gomes of Portugal 7th.


Guinea coach Michel Dussuyer is in the 29th position, while Algeria coach Vahid Halihodzic fell from previous 34th position to 41st.

Seasoned coaches like Laurent Blanc was named in 43rd place, Lars Lagerback, 47th, with Croatia Slaven Billic placing 50th.

The listings can be found at


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Video - Best selling author Chimamanda Adichie talks about her new book and gives praise to Lupita Nyongo

During a recent segment of HuffPost Live, critically acclaimed author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie discussed Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong'o and her influence on beauty for black women. "I think her existence is very important" Adichie said, while expressing her personal adoration for the actress. Adichie goes on to talk about Nyong'o's mainstream presence, pressing the notion that the Kenyan actress' looks challenge a typical Hollywood aesthetic. "Looking the way she looks, she's very dark-skinned, she has natural hair -- this is spectacular," Adichie added. And speaking of spectacular, last week Nyong'o gave a powerful speech at Essence Magazine's Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon, telling her story about accepting her beauty as it is, not as it should be.

Related stories: Best selling author Chimamanda Adichie addresses Nigeria's anti-gay law

Chimamanda Adichie's Americanah tops BBC top 10 book of 2013

Aliko Dangote makes good on promise - Super Eagles to receive $1m for Nations Cup win

Africa's wealthiest businessman Aliko Dangote is set to fulfil his promise to reward Nigeria's team with $1m for winning the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.

After a public appeal by Super Eagles captain Vincent Enyeama, it seems Dangote is about to come good.

He told BBC Sport: "We've been waiting for Nigerian officials to collect the money but nobody has written to us.

"We will write to them, asking for the account numbers of the players, then we'll make the transfer immediately."

Dangote, who is group president and chief executive officer of the Dangote Group, is reputed to be Africa's richest man.

Earlier this month he became the first African to be listed in the top 25 of Forbes magazine's annual ranking of global billionaires, with a net worth of $25bn.

His wealth has been accumulated from a business empire that he founded in 1977 and now includes the number one sugar production company in Nigeria, a cement factory and textile products.

Dangote added that "the money was promised through the presidency [during a state dinner last February]" and he had been waiting to be approached about the pledge.

The delay led to a public appeal by Nigeria goalkeeper Enyeama, who said: "It was just a reminder to patriots who are very busy and may not have been prompted after they made their pledges.

"The players are determined to bring more honours to fatherland at the forthcoming World Cup."
Enyeama was full of praise for Cross River State governor Liyel Imoke for following through with his promise to give members of Super Eagles one plot of land each in the state capital, Calabar.

Last week, Nigerian Football Federation president Aminu Maigari delivered the land papers from government house in Calabar to team administrator Dayo Enebi Achor, who has since commenced their distribution to all the players and officials.

But Nigerian economist and banker Tony Elumelu's promise of $500,000 for the Super Eeagle's Nations Cup success in South Africa remains outstanding.


Related stories: Video - Africa's richest man Aliko Dangote talks about his road to success

Nigerian Aliko Dangote is 23rd richest man in the world

Monday, March 10, 2014

Nigeria's growing video game industry

It's a common enough scenario in Nigeria and across Africa: how to get rid of pesky mosquitoes whose buzzing disturbs sleep and whose bites can carry malaria and other diseases.

Two Nigerian start-ups have tapped this -- and other aspects and quirks of daily life in Africa -- to create online and mobile phone video games that are winning fans around the world.

It's easy to see why "Mosquito Smasher" -- which has earned comparisons to "Angry Birds", the worldwide mobile app success of recent years -- might be a hit.

The graphics are simple, the aim clear and the reward immediate: squash as many of the blood-sucking parasites as possible under your thumb with a satisfying "Splat!"

Another, the highly popular "Okada Ride", has players guide a motorcycle-taxi driver around roadside street vendors, road-blocks and police in the notorious traffic of Lagos, a sprawling metropolis of nearly 20 million people.

"What I like about Nigerian video games, it's one: the local content, because it tends to give you that everyday feel," said Chucks Olloh, 32, a big fan.

"For example the 'Okada' hussle, it tells you how you ride on your bike, trying to avoid so many obstacles on your way home or on your way to work," said the computer programmer from Lagos.

"Two: it's very simple. All you have to do is to gain as much points as possible and avoid the obstacles."

- An African flavour -

The worldwide video games industry, worth more than $63 billion (46 billion euros) in 2012, is expected to reach nearly $87 billion in 2017, PricewaterhouseCoopers said in a recent study.

And while the African market has not figured prominently on the radar of game developers, the founders of Maliyo -- the makers of "Mosquito Smasher" and "Okada Ride" -- and Kuluya are hoping to change that.

Both firms were launched about 18 months ago and draw inspiration from life in Lagos. Kuluya -- "action" in the Igbo language of southern Nigeria -- has already created some 70 games.

It hopes to reach one million mobile telephone users by the end of June and has fans well beyond Nigeria's borders.

"In Africa, we have a lot of downloads from Ghana, Kenya and South Africa," said Lakunle Ogungbamila, who runs Kuluya.

"There was a particular game that a lot of people downloaded in Ethiopia, I'm not sure why. It's called 'Ma Hauchi': it's a hunter who is shooting vultures. A very simple game...

"Also, we get a lot of downloads from China, India, Thailand, Taiwan."

- 'Mobile is massive' -

Adapting the games to the platforms that Africans use is vital, said Ogungbamila and Maliyo founder Hugo Obi.

Unlike in Europe or the United States, sales of games consoles are low in Africa and there is a preference for playing on-line.

Internet access comes rarely via home broadband hubs but instead -- and increasingly -- via smartphones.

"Mobile is massive in this part of the world. It has the highest penetration, especially for Internet users. And we are exporting a lot of our games onto mobiles," Maliyo's Obi told AFP.

Figures clearly show the trend in Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation with 170 million residents and nearly 100 million mobile phone users in 2012.

In 2011, it is estimated that 46 million people used Internet, up from 2008 when there were only 11 million Internet users.

Obi, who invented "Mosquito Smasher", spent 10 years in Britain running a recruitment company before returning home in 2012 to set up his on-line games company.

To share Nigeria's high operating costs, with daily power cuts the norm and investment in diesel-powered generators a must, his five-member firm shares workspace with eight other companies.

From an office in the Lagos suburb of Yaba, Maliyo now offers 10 free on-line games to some 20,000 users across Nigeria but also in Britain and the United States.

It is preparing to launch smartphone versions of its most popular games.

- Expansion plans -

Kuluya, meanwhile, started with an investment of $250,000 but is now worth an estimated $2 million and employs about a dozen people in its Lagos office.

Sitting behind large Apple Mac screens and armed with giant tablets and light pens, the creative team, all Nigerian, find inspiration from what dominates their daily life but also comb the web for information about other African countries.

Along with the typically Nigerian games, their catalogue now nods to Kenyan culture with the game "Masai" and another called "Matatus", which features the minibuses that travel around Nairobi. Their "Zulu" game, meanwhile, has clear references to South Africa.

For the moment, Kuluya, which is seeking new investment, earns little money from advertising. Maliyo, for its part, funds itself by creating games for businesses.

The next stage for Kuluya is to introduce payment by text message for more sophisticated versions of its games.

Why oil funds are missing

Even in a country where untold oil wealth disappears into the pockets of the elite, the oil corruption scheme he was investigating seemed outsize — and he threatened to lay it bare at a meeting with Nigeria’s top bankers.

The rabble-rouser was none other than the governor of the country’s central bank. Weeks later, however, he was out, fired by Nigeria’s president in an episode that has shaken the Nigerian economy, filled newspapers and airwaves here, and even inspired a rare street demonstration.

The bankers were going to have to open their books, the governor, Lamido Sanusi, warned them at the recent meeting. He wanted to see where the money was going — $20 billion from oil sales that, mysteriously, was not making its way to the treasury, in a country that could soon be declared Africa’s biggest economy and already attracts the most direct foreign investment on the continent, according to the United Nations.

But his suspicions were cutting too close, Mr. Sanusi said — too close to an oil-politics nexus that both feeds the political establishment in Nigeria, in his view and that of analysts, and deprives the country of vital revenue.

The charge of missing oil money is not new in Nigeria. In recent years, government commissions, parliamentary inquiries and civil society groups have all pointed to serious shortfalls in the disbursement of oil revenues. Their findings have been ignored.

This time, the accusations appear not to be going away: Never before has an official at Mr. Sanusi’s level made them.

In interviews here, Mr. Sanusi gave a detailed account of the events that he said led to his ouster on Feb. 20, a dismissal that continues to depress the country’s currency and frighten investors. He said his warning to the bankers had been reported straight back to the threatened seat of power in the country’s capital, Abuja.

It was too much, he said. With his accusations, which outside analysts consider credible, the soft-spoken, bow-tied central banker appeared to have penetrated to the heart of the country’s entrenched corruption problem.

In 2009, Mr. Sanusi took aim at Nigeria’s failing banking sector, shutting down fraudulent banks, uncovering theft that led to an unprecedented conviction, and earning trust in international financial markets. He was named central bank governor of the year by The Banker magazine in 2011, and is a suited-up member of his country’s establishment, as an heir to the position of emir in the ancient northern city of Kano, one of Nigeria’s highest-status designations.

But then he began taking on the government oil agency, which determines whether oil-dependent Nigeria rises or falls. Specifically, he accused the Nigerian National Petroleum C orporation — the agency that buys, sells, regulates and produces the country’s oil — of not turning over earnings to the country’s central bank. The country is Africa’s largest oil exporter, oil prices were steady or rising, yet Nigeria’s financial reserves were falling. It was a mystery. The money was missing. Mr. Sanusi said he feared an eventual collapse of Nigeria’s currency.

Backed by calculations, he presented his findings to a Nigerian Senate committee early in February. “A substantial amount of money has gone,” Mr. Sanusi said in an interview at the mansion reserved for the country’s central banker, which he will soon have to leave. “I wasn’t just talking about numbers. I showed it was a scam.”

At a time when political energy in Africa’s most populous country is focused on next year’s elections — and staying in power is costly for a governing party that functions as a patronage machine — Mr. Sanusi knew exactly which interests he had menaced, he said. He had been warned to “cool down.”

“By making N.N.P.C. an issue now, the source of money for financing elections is threatened,” Mr. Sanusi said, referring to the petroleum corporation. “If this is stopped, there will be no money to finance the elections.”

On the other hand, if it was not stopped, the risk to Nigeria’s economy was grave, the central banker suggested. “It was critical that we stop this hemorrhage,” he said. “Otherwise, we can’t maintain stability. Reserves had gone way down. We would watch the naira collapse,” he said of the nation’s currency.

Alarmed, Mr. Sanusi said, he went in front of Nigeria’s top banking heads for a semimonthly meeting on Feb. 11 and “threatened to open the books of the bankers, to trace the money.” He suspected some were laundering stolen oil money.

“Some of them were not giving information about their accounts,” the central banker said. “I told them I would order a special examination.”

One of the bankers at the meeting said, referring to the Central Bank of Nigeria, “He made it clear to them that the C.B.N. would need to unravel what was going on, and they should cooperate.”

Many of the bankers became angry. “One of us said, ‘What next?’ “ a second banker said. “There was a general heaviness. He spoke tough.” Both bankers requested anonymity.

Panicked, several of the bankers went straight to the government, Mr. Sanusi said. Two of the bankers — he would not identify them — “went and reported to the petroleum minister,” he said. And at that moment, his days were numbered.

“The strategy of the government was to discredit the messenger,” he said. The Nigerian president “doesn’t want me to bring out any more information that would get them into trouble.”

Mr. Sanusi’s account is “untrue,” a spokesman for President Goodluck Jonathan said.

“Mr. Sanusi has been making all kinds of claims to project himself as a victim,” the spokesman, Reuben Abati, said in an email, accusing the former bank governor of “financial recklessness, abuse of mandate, incompetence and criminal acts of negligence.”

Mr. Sanusi has not been charged with any crimes, and the most Mr. Jonathan held him responsible for in a series of counteraccusations that emerged after the bank governor raised an alarm over the oil money was having perhaps “sidestepped civil-service rules.”

Outside analysts appear to be in large agreement that Mr. Sanusi’s claim of vast missing oil revenues is plausible.

Nigeria’s state oil sales “feature undue complexity, extensive discretion and well-documented flaws,” Revenue Watch, a group focused on natural-resource management, wrote in an examination of the central banker’s declarations. “In such a system, the line between mismanagement and corruption is difficult to draw, as shortcomings in process often benefit specific private interests.”

One such “shortcoming” was laid bare by Mr. Sanusi last month to the parliamentary committee: a phony subsidy on kerosene that he determined to be a racket, costing the Nigerian treasury billions of dollars and greatly benefiting what he called a “syndicate” of marketers and unknown others. Mr. Sanusi showed that any official subsidy on kerosene had long since been abolished, that the petroleum corporation was nonetheless selling kerosene to marketers at less than a third of its purchase price on the international market and that the Nigerian marketers were then selling kerosene to the public at prices 300 to 500 percent above what they had paid for it.

“It’s just a big scam,” Mr. Sanusi said in the interview. “The amount is shared by a cabal.”

Though his official term would have ended in June anyway, Mr. Sanusi said, he is challenging his removal in court. In a judiciary that is only lightly insulated from political pressure, the outcome is uncertain, though perhaps not with the wider public. One of the bankers at the Feb. 11 meeting said: “For me personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the position he has taken. We are Nigerians. We owe it to this country that things are run properly.”

One of Nigeria’s leading activists, Tunde Bakare, a founder of the pro-democracy organization Save Nigeria Group, said: “This is going to be tried in the court of public opinion. We can’t wish this matter away. Twenty billion dollars is not going to go away overnight.”

Video - Suspended central bank governor Lamido Sanusi saw it coming

Nigeria ranks one of the lowest in rule of law

Nigeria has been ranked as one of the countries with the lowest respect for the rule of law in the world.

The World Justice Project (WJP) in its 2014 Rule of Law Index released last Thursday, ranked 99 countries out of which Nigeria placed 93 close to war ravaged Afghanistan and insurgent-prone Pakistan, which ranked 98 and 96 respectively.
Botswana and Ghana were among African counties ranked better in the index, standing at 25 and 37 respectively.

Apart from the overall ranking where Nigeria placed 93, the country did not fare well under the eight individual factors which were used as parameters for the overall ranking.

These factors, are: constraints on government powers, absence of corruption, open government, fundamental rights, order and security, regulatory enforcement, civil justice and criminal justice.

Under absence of corruption, Nigeria ranked 97 among the 99 countries considered in the report while in fundamental rights, Nigeria placed 88th. In order and security, Nigeria was ranked 98 beaten only Pakistan, ranked 99th, while it came 91st under the criminal justice factor.

WJP is an independent, multi-disciplinary organisation working to advance the rule of law around the world.

The index measures a nation’s adherence to the rule of law from the perspective of how ordinary people experience it.

The report said: “Nigeria ranks 93rd over all and near the bottom half of lower middle income countries in most dimensions. The country ranks 69th for checks on the executive branch and 76th for open government.

“In most of the other dimensions, the country remains one of the poorest performers of the region.

“Corruption is widespread (ranking third to last in the world), the criminal justice system has deficiencies (ranking 91st over and second to last in the region), fundamental rights are poorly protected and a deteriorating security situation continues to raise significant concern.”

Friday, March 7, 2014

Court in Nigeria orders homosexuals to be whipped

Four young men have beenconvicted of gay sex and whipped publicly as punishment in an Islamic court in northern Nigeria, according to a human rights activist.

The four were sentenced and punished on Thursday to 15 strokes. They also face a year's imprisonment if they cannot pay a fine of $120.

The men, aged between 20 and 22, should not have been convicted because their confessions were forced through beatings, said Dorothy Aken'Ova, the convenor of the Coalition for the Defence of Sexual Rights Network.

She said they had to prostrate themselves on the floor of the court to be whipped on their bottoms.

Aken'Ova said the families refused an offer of legal representation and were embarrassed by the stigma attached to homosexuality, which many highly religious Nigerians consider an evil imported from the West.

The hearings in Bauchi city, the capital of the state of the same name, had been delayed from January, when a crowd tried to stone the accused men outside the court and demanded the judge pass the death sentence.

Security officials had to fire into the air to save the men and disperse the crowd.

Under Islamic law in some north Nigerian states, homosexuals can be sentenced to death by stoning or lethal injection, though that sentence has never been enforced.

The judge said he was lenient because the men had promised that the homosexual acts occurred in the past and that they had since changed their ways, according to Aken'Ova.

The four were among dozens caught in a wave of arrests after Nigeria strengthened its criminal penalties for homosexuality with the new Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act in January.


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Makoko's floating school struggles to stay afloat

A floating school in Nigeria has been nominated for a prestigious Design of the Year award in London, but the Lagos State government has threatened to demolish it and the area to make way for development.

Whanyinna Primay School is kept afloat by 250 empty barrels and is made of bamboo and timber.

It was built as a solution to allow children to attend class during the country's rainy season, when many buildings flood.

Related stories: Video - homeless battle in Makoko 

Video - Building a floating school in Makoko

President Goodluck Jonathan's cousin kidnapped

The kidnappers of Chief Inengite Nitabai, cousin to President Goodluck Jonathan have reportedly rejected the N30m offered by his family for his release.

Chief Nitabai, a former lecturer at the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt was abducted penultimate Sunday at his Otuoke country home in Ogbia local government area of Bayelsa State by ten armed men.

The kidnapped chief is the traditional head of the compound from which the President hails from.
He was also said to have played a major role in the training of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan during his school days as an undergraduate and post graduate student.

Nitabai, it was also learnt has been acting like a father to the President since Jonathan’s real biological father died, it was further learnt.

The alleged rejection of the family offer is coming on heels of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) worldwide warning to the embattled Nitabai family that no ransom should be paid to the kidnappers.

The abductors, it would be recalled, had contacted the victim’s family four days after he was whisked away demanding a whooping sum of N500m as ransom to set him free.

A source source close to the Nitabai family told Vanguard that the troubled family instead offered to pay his abductors N30m which they rejected.

“They (kidnappers) rejected the N30m offer which they described as laughable coming from a family linked to the President,” the source said.

Also a security source who pleaded anonymity confirmed the development saying, “we are aware that the family is negotiating with the kidnappers and that they are demanding N500m which the family described as outrageous. They instead offered to part with N30 which the kidnappers were said to have rejected.”

Contacted, the state police public relations officer, Mr. Alex Akhigbe, DSP said he was not aware of the demand.

He however said its operatives deployed in the creeks are making progress in their search for the kidnapped chief.

Meanwhile, the Ijaw Youth Council IYC has warned the family of Chief Nitabai not to pay any ransom to the kidnappers.

The IYC described the action of the kidnappers as crime which the council would not condone.
It said the three man committee it set up to work with security agencies to fish out the kidnappers of Chief Inengite Nitabai are making tremendous progress to secure his release.

Spokesman of the IYC, Eric Omare who disclosed this to newsmen shortly after the inaugural meeting of the council at the Ijaw House in Yenagoa said the identity of the three man committee working with the security agents would not be disclosed for security reasons as serious progress has been made to free the septuagenarian.

Omare added that the committee has established contacts with his captors assuring that in no distance time he would be released.

“In consonance with the position of the IYC we have advised the relevant persons not to offer any ransom in order to effect the release of Mr President uncle because if we offer ransom we are encouraging more kidnapping.

“IYC position is that criminality must be erased from Ijawland, so we have told them not to offer any ransom, though he has not been released but we are very sure in the next few days or hours we would effect his release,” he said.


Nigeria draws with Mexico in football friendly

Mexico and Nigeria played out an evenly-matched 0-0 draw in front of a record crowd in their 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil warm-up match.

Both sides started the match tentatively as Nigeria’s backline, consisting of Godfrey Oboabona, Efe Ambrose, Kenneth Omeruo and Elderson Echiejile, were able to keep Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez and Oribe Peralta at bay.

For Nigeria’s attack, Liverpool’s Victor Moses and Fenerbahce’s Emmanuel Emenike looked like the most likely sources of goals for the Super Eagles.

Moses had a penalty appeal denied in the 8th minute, while three minutes later, Emenike broke through inside Mexico’s penalty area only for Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa to save.

Nigeria and Mexico have drawn their last two meetings.

The two teams had chances to get on the scoreboard but thanks to outstanding play from Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa and Nigeria shot-stoppers Vincent Enyeama and Austin Ejide, the friendly ended in a draw.

Mexico had the last significant chance of the match in the 73rd minute when substitute Raul Jimenez failed to react in time to a driven cross from the left flank, resulting in a Nigerian goal kick.
There were debuts for Michael Uchebo, Ramon Azeez, Imoh Ezekiel and Leon Balogun, the last-minute replacement for injured skipper Joseph Yobo in front of a record crowd of 68,220 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

The Super Eagles Team vs Mexico
Vincent Enyeama (Ejide 46) – Elderson, Efe Ambrose (Leon Balogun 46)(Azubuike Egwuekwe 66), Godfrey Oboabona, Kenneth Omeruo – Ogenyi Onazi, Mikel, Ahmed Musa – Victor Moses, Emmanuel Emenike, Michael Uchebo (Ramon Azeez 46)


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Nigerians ready to be evacuated from Ukraine

As tensions continue to rise between Russia and Ukraine over the Crimea, the Nigerian Government has said it is closely monitoring events as they unfold, and would immediately evacuate its citizens if the need arises.

An estimated 7000 Nigerians are resident across Ukraine with at least 5000 of them studying in tertiary institutions across the country. 170 Nigerians are also studying in the Crimea, the flashpoint of the unfolding crises.

The Supervising Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prof. Viola Onwuliri speaking with THISDAY in Abuja Tuesday night said the Ministry has been in constant touch with its Mission in Kiev since the crises started.

This Day

The Canonisation Of Terror

The sheer weight of indignation and revulsion of most of Nigerian humanity at the recent Boko Harma atrocity in Yobe is most likely to have overwhelmed a tiny footnote to that outrage, small indeed, but of an inversely proportionate significance. This was the name of the hospital to which the survivors of the massacre were taken. That minute detail calls into question, in a gruesome but chastening way, the entire ethical landscape into which this nation has been forced by insensate leadership. It is an uncanny coincidence, one that I hope the new culture of ‘religious tourism’, spearheaded by none other than the nation’s president in his own person, may even come to recognize as a message from unseen forces.

For the name of that hospital, it is reported, is none other than that of General Sanni Abacha, a vicious usurper under whose authority the lives of an elected president and his wife were snuffed out. Assassinations – including through bombs cynically ascribed to the opposition – became routine. Under that ruler, torture and other forms of barbarism were enthroned as the norm of governance. To round up, nine Nigerian citizens, including the writer and environmentalist Ken Saro-wiwa, were hanged after a trial that was stomach churning even by the most primitive standards of judicial trial, and in defiance of the intervention of world leadership. We are speaking here of a man who placed this nation under siege during an unrelenting reign of terror that is barely different from the current rampage of Boko Haram. It is this very psychopath that was recently canonized by the government of Goodluck Jonathan in commemoration of one hundred years of Nigerian trauma.

It has been long a-coming. One of the broadest avenues in the nation’s capital, Abuja, bears the name of General Sanni Abacha. Successive governments have lacked the political courage to change this signpost – among several others – of national self degradation and wipe out the memory of the nation’s tormentor from daily encounter. Not even Ministers for the Federal Capital territory within whose portfolios rest such responsibilities, could muster the temerity to initiate the process and leave the rest to public approbation or repudiation. I urged the need of this purge on one such minister, and at least one Head of State. That minister promised, but that boast went the way of Nigerian electoral boast. The Head of State murmured something about the fear of offending ‘sensibilities’. All evasions amounted to moral cowardice and a doubling of victim trauma. When you proudly display certificates of a nation’s admission to the club of global pariahs, it is only a matter of time before you move to beatify them as saints and other paragons of human perfection. What the government of Goodluck Jonathan has done is to scoop up a century’s accumulated degeneracy in one preeminent symbol, then place it on a podium for the nation to admire, emulate and even – worship.

There is a deplorable message for coming generations in this governance aberration that the entire world has been summoned to witness and indeed, to celebrate. The insertion of an embodiment of ‘governance by terror’ into the company of committed democrats, professionals, humanists and human rights advocates in their own right, is a sordid effort to grant a certificate of health to a communicable disease that common sense demands should be isolated. It is a confidence trick that speaks volumes of the perpetrators of such a fraud. We shall pass over – for instance – the slave mentality that concocts loose formulas for an Honours List that automatically elevate any violent bird of passage to the status of nation builders who may, or may not be demonstrably motivated by genuine love of nation. According generalized but false attributes to known killers and treasury robbers is a disservice to history and a desecration of memory. It also compromises the future. This failure to discriminate, to assess, and thereby make it possible to grudgingly concede that even out of a ‘doctrine of necessity’ – such as military dictatorship - some demonstrable governance virtue may emerge, reveals nothing but national self-glorification in a moral void, the breeding grounds of future cankerworm in the nation’s edifice.

Such abandonment of moral rigour comes full circle sooner or later. The survivors of a plague known as Boko Haram, students in a place of enlightenment and moral instruction, are taken to a place of healing dedicated to an individual contagion – a murderer and thief of no redeeming quality known as Sanni Abacha, one whose plunder is still being pursued all over the world and recovered piecemeal by international consortiums – at the behest of this same government which sees fit to place him on the nation’s Roll of Honour! I can think of nothing more grotesque and derisive of the lifetime struggle of several on this list, and their selfless services to humanity. It all fits. In this nation of portent readers, the coincidence should not be too difficult to decipher.

I reject my share of this national insult.
Wole Soyinka


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Nigerian Aliko Dangote is 23rd richest man in the world

 Alhaji Aliko Dangote has emerged the 23rd richest man on the 2014 Forbes Billionaires List just released. Three other Nigerians - Mike Adenuga, Folorunsho Alakija and Abdulsamad Rabiu - were also listed on this year's Forbes list of 1,645 billionaires across the globe who together are worth $6.4 trillion.

Africa's richest man Dangote is not relenting in his quest for wealth as he rose from the 43rd position on the Forbes Billionaires List in 2013 to the 23rd position in March 2014 with a net worth of $25 billion, a 20 per cent rise from $20.8 billion he was worth as of December 2013.

Dangote who ranks 64 on the list of 72 most powerful people who rule the world is looking beyond cement, sugar and flour, the three commodities that built his fortune, to the oil business.

In April, he announced $9 billion in financing from a consortium of local and international lenders to construct a private oil refinery, fertilizer and petrochemical complex in the country, which when completed will be Nigeria's first and Africa's largest petroleum refinery. He continues to expand his publicly traded Dangote Cement across the continent, announcing plans in recent months to build new plants in Kenya and Niger.

The self-made billionaire created the Dangote Group, which in addition to cement owns sugar refineries, flour milling and salt processing facilities operating in eight countries, owning the largest cement manufacturer in sub-Saharan Africa. He began trading in commodities more than three decades ago using a loan from his uncle.

Mike Adenuga who ranks second richest in Nigeria however dropped in position from the rank of 267 in 2013 to 325 in March 2014 with a net worth of $4.6 billion.

Oil and fashion billionaire Folorunsho Alakija who ranks third and 13th in Nigeria and Africa respectively ranked 687 on the Forbes Billionaires List 2014 with a net worth of $2.5 billion. Nigeria's fourth and Africa's 23rd richest, Abdulsamad Rabiu, was ranked 1, 372 on the world Billionaires List with a worth of $1.2 billion.

According to Forbes, "our global wealth team found 1,645 billionaires with an aggregate net worth of $6.4 trillion, up from $5.4 trillion a year ago. We unearthed a record 268 new 10-figure fortunes, including 42 new women billionaires, another record. In total, there are 172 women on the list, more than ever before and up from 138 last year.

Bill Gates is back on top after a four-year hiatus, reclaiming the title of world's richest person from telecom mogul Carlos Slim Helu of Mexico, who ranked No. 1 for the past four years. Gates, whose fortune rose by $9 billion in the past year, has held the top spot for 15 of the past 20 years.

Spanish clothing retailer Amancio Ortega (best known for the Zara fashion chain) retains the No. 3 spot for the second year in a row, extending his lead over Warren Buffett, who is again No. 4. American gambling tycoon Sheldon Adelson, who added $11.5 billion to his pile, makes it back into the top ten for the first time since 2007. Another first: A record net worth of $31 billion was needed to make the top 20, up from $23 billion last year.


Related stories: Video - Africa's richest man Aliko Dangote talks about his road to success

Dangote Sugar boosting Nigeria's economy

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

Monday, March 3, 2014

Video - Africa's richest man Aliko Dangote talks about his road to success

Africa's most successful industrialist Aliko Dangote has been talking about his journey to success.

Speaking to Africa Business Report's Lerato Mbele, he explained how he turned a loan from his grandfather into a business which spanned cement, sugar, flour and salt.

He also spoke about his latest venture to build a $9bn petroleum refinery in his native Nigeria - and avoiding corruption in the process.

Super Eagle legend Nwankwo Kanu undergoes corrective heart surgery

Former Nigeria striker Nwankwo Kanu has undergone corrective cardiac surgery in the United States, the head of the heart charity set up in his name said on Monday.

Onyebuchi Abia, the co-ordinator of the Kanu Heart Foundation, said the rangy former Arsenal forward and Super Eagles skipper was operated on at the weekend in Cleveland, Ohio, in the US mid-west.

“It was a corrective heart surgery,” Abia, without specifying the nature of the ailment, was quoted as saying in a number of Nigerian newspapers.

“He normally goes for a medical check-up annually and it was during one of such checks he was operated on to correct a heart-related issue.

“He is now recuperating. I spoke to him on Sunday.”

The 37-year-old first underwent heart surgery in the late 1990s to correct a faulty aortic valve.
The experience prompted him to set up a foundation to build five hospitals in Africa to treat undiagnosed heart disease and provide surgery.

At the weekend, the Nigerian government named Kanu among the 100 most distinguished Nigerians during a ceremony to mark the centenary of the unification of north and south Nigeria.


29 dead in Boko Haram attack in Borno

Suspected Islamist insurgents killed 29 people in embattled northeast, an official said Monday, the latest carnage in a surge of violence that has left more than 100 dead this month alone.

The latest attack on Sunday hit the town of Mafa in Boko Haram’s historic stronghold of Borno state, which is witnessing one of the deadliest episodes of the group’s nearly five-year-old rebellion.
The militants had sent fliers to the town earlier in the week, warning of an impending attack, a tactic used by the extremists elsewhere in the region, said Borno senator Ahmed Zanna.

Following the threat, some people fled, schools were closed and military reinforcements were deployed to the town roughly 45 kilometres (28 miles) northeast of Borno’s capital Maiduguri.
But when the attack began “the soldiers fled because they could not match the firepower and numerical strength of the gunmen,” Zanna told AFP.

“Twenty-nine people have been buried from the attack by Boko Haram,” he said.
Borno’s police commissioner Lawal Tanko confirmed the latest unrest and said units were headed to Mafa to assess the damage.

- Death toll could rise -
Boko Haram’s uprising, aimed at creating a strict Islamic state in northern Nigeria, has killed thousands since 2009.
Statistics have typically been hard to verify, as much of the violence has occurred in remote regions, often with poor phone access.

More than 330 people have been killed already this year — a nearly unprecedented two-month rate for the four-and-half-year conflict.
More than 800 people were killed during fierce clashes between Islamists and the police in Maiduguri in 2009.

On Saturday, 35 people died when two bombs exploded in a busy district of Maiduguri and 39 killed about an hour later when gunmen opened fire on a nearby village with heavy weaponry.
Boko Haram previously hit targets across northern Nigeria and while the military has largely managed to contain the violence in the northeast, outrage is building in the region over the Islamists’ apparent ability to attack at will and with impunity.

The governor of Borno state, Kashim Shettima claimed last month that the military was outgunned by better-equipped Boko Haram fighters after an attack on February 15 left 106 dead.
A Mafa resident who requested anonymity said the attackers were armed with explosives, rocket-propelled-grenades and lighter weapons.
They razed several homes, he said, and warned that the death toll may still rise.
“Houses are still smouldering and we intend to search the debris for more bodies,” he added.

- ‘A revenge mission’ -
Nigeria declared a state of emergency in the northeast in May and launched an offensive in May aimed at ending the insurgency.
But many believe the military onslaught has intensified the violence, with the Islamists launching waves of reprisal attacks, typically on defenceless civilians.

Boko Haram “is on a revenge mission,” the Mafa resident said, noting that many of his neighbours were still in the bush outside the town, afraid of yet another raid.
There are increasing worries of a humanitarian crisis, as people across the northeast flee their homes in fear.

The UN said last Thursday that a total of 290,002 people had been internally displaced in the region between the start of emergency rule and January 1 this year.
President Goodluck Jonathan has struggled to find solutions to the crisis, repeatedly promising those caught up in the violence that the military strategy is working and that Boko Haram will be defeated soon.

Analysts and Western diplomats have said that improving economic opportunity in the deeply impoverished north is the only permanent solution to the conflict.