Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Video - Herbal medicine still in demand despite access to modern medicine

Traditional medicine in Nigeria appears set to continue attracting the interest of the general population. This, despite the advent of advanced medical treatment and technology. Herbal medicine provides a cheaper option for many, who say they cannot afford conventional treatment.

kidnapped school girls believed to have been taken out of Nigeria

Some of the schoolgirls abducted by suspected militant Islamists in northern Nigeria are believed to have been taken to neighbouring states, a local leader has told the BBC.

Pogo Bitrus said there had been "sightings" of gunmen crossing with the girls into Cameroon and Chad.

Some of the girls had been forced to marry the militants, he added.

Mr Bitrus said 230 girls were missing since militants attacked the school in Chibok, Borno state, two weeks ago.

The Islamist group Boko Haram has been blamed for the night-time raid on the school hostel in Chibok town. It has not yet commented.

Mr Bitrus, a Chibok community leader, said 43 of the girls had "regained their freedom" after escaping, while 230 were still in captivity. This is a higher number than previous estimates, however he was adamant it was the correct figure.

"Some of them have been taken across Lake Chad and some have been ferried across the border into parts of Cameroon," he told the BBC.

"And then we got this information that the captors went and auctioned these girls into marriage for a bride price," he added.

The students were about to sit their final year exam and so are mostly aged 16-18.

Boko Haram has staged a wave of attacks in northern Nigeria in recent years, with an estimated 1,500 killed this year alone.


Related stories: Video - Search continues for the 200 kidnapped schoolgirls

Wole Soyinka calls for the release of the kidnapped school girls

Video - Number of kidnapped girls revised to at least 230 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Video - Fake anti-malaria drugs flood Nigerian market

Nigeria is flooded with countless brands of malaria medicine and most of them are counterfeit. The World Health Organisation estimates that two-thirds of malaria drugs in the country are bogus or sub-standard.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Video - Search continues for the 200 kidnapped schoolgirls

In Nigeria, parents have joined the army to search for almost 200 schoolgirls kidnapped last week.They were taken from their school in Chibok in the northeastern Borno state.

Related stories: Wole Soyinka calls for the release of the kidnapped school girls

Video - Number of kidnapped girls revised to at least 230

I was born in Britain and not Nigeria because of Biafra civil war - Chiwetel Ejiofor

For Oscar-nominated British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, starring in a film about Nigeria’s civil war was “incredibly personal”, as the conflict both affected close relatives and determined the country where he was born.

His own grandfather had lived through the nightmare played out in “Half of a Yellow Sun”, which premiers in Nigeria on Friday, and spent long hours years later recounting the painful memories to Ejiofor.

While the actor won his Academy Award nomination for “12 Years a Slave”, 2014′s Best Picture winner, he said he felt particular “connective tissue” with the lead character in the Nigerian war film.

The movie — now showing in Britain and Australia and opening soon in the US and other countries — is based on the best-selling novel by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie about the 1967-1970 Biafra War, which began after the eastern region tried to secede from newly independent Nigeria.

“The Biafra War was a seminal part of my upbringing and my family history,” said Ejiofor, 36, the first black actor from Britain nominated for a Best Actor Oscar.

“In fact, I would say that the Biafra War was the reason I was born in London and not in Nigeria,” he told journalists in Lagos earlier this month.

His parents, natives of eastern Nigeria, left the country after the horrific conflict that killed more than one million people, including many from starvation.

The war was a regular family discussion topic throughout his upbringing in London, but Ejiofor said he acquired a fuller understanding of the conflict during a visit to Nigeria six years ago.
- Grandfather’s memories -

At independence from Britain in 1960, Nigeria was divided into three geopolitical zones: the north, dominated the mainly Muslim Hausa tribe, and two predominantly Christian regions, the west where the Yoruba were the majority and the east, led by the Igbo people.

In 1967, Igbo leaders declared independence after claiming that their tribesman living in the north were being massacred by Hausas. They charged the federal government with failing to provide protection.

Ejiofor’s maternal grandfather was among the Igbos based in the north during those violent, chaotic years.
The actor said he recorded 10 hours of conversation in Nigeria with his grandfather — who died three years ago — and played the material for “Half of a Yellow Sun” director Biyi Bandele and other cast members.

“It was an extremely powerful and moving account of an ordinary Igbo man in the north,” Ejiofor said.
“An ordinary Nigerian experiencing this extraordinarily turbulent time, from the hope of independence to the seismic cost of the war.”

The attempt to create an Igbo-led republic was crushed by the British-backed Nigerian federal forces, who had military superiority and used scorched earth tactics, including the blockage of all food imports to the breakaway Biafra region.

In “Half of a Yellow Sun”, Ejiofor plays Odenigbo, an idealistic math professor at the University of Nigeria in the eastern town of Nsukka.

Odenigbo hosts colleagues and friends for long-nights of drinking and discussion about Nigeria’s immense promise following the dismantling of colonialism.

His dreams are destroyed by the massacres and ultimately by the civil war.
“I had Chiwetel (Ejiofor) in mind for the part of Odenigbo,” Bandele told AFP.

“I did not have to audition him. I knew that he was going to be perfect. And he was.”
- ‘Helpful’ typhoid -

“Half of a Yellow Sun”, produced by Andrea Calderwood who also made “The last king of Scotland” about the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, was filmed entirely in the southeastern Nigeria city of Calabar and a nearby village called Creek Town.

The latter half of the film, which unfolds after the Biafra War has broken out, was shot first and the cast’s war-ravaged look was a product of more than just make-up and strong acting, Bandele said.

“Some of us had typhoid,” and likely contracted it on the first day of filming in Creek Town, he said.
“People started falling like flies three days into the shoot.”

Female lead Thandie Newton was among those who got sick and looked like “something the cat dragged into the house.”
“And it’s because she had typhoid! And her character is supposed to be going through a tough time here, so it actually worked really well!” Bandele said.

“I mean I wouldn’t recommend that as a way of making movies, but it worked, it really worked for us.”


Related stories: Chiwetel Ejiofor on shooting Half of a Yellow Sun in rural Nigeria

Nigerian censors delaying Half of a Yellow Sun premiere

The movie director says censors are delaying the Nigerian premiere of the movie "Half of a Yellow Sun."

The screen adaptation of Chinamanda Ngozi Adichie's novel is the story of two sisters caught up in Nigeria's 1960s civil war, when the southeast tried to form an independent nation called Biafra. About 1 million people died, most of famine.

Nigerian-born British director Biyi Bandele posted a tweet Friday saying "It's all true" that they were having difficulty with the Nigerian Film and Video Censors Board. No one answered the telephone at the board Friday. Some say the film may be banned because it could whip up tribal sentiment.

It stars Chiwetel Ejiofor and Thandie Newton and made it to the top 10 in London cinemas over Easter.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Video - Traditional textile business in Nigeria

Kano is famous for its pits, where fabrics have been dyed for over 500 years. But the ancient industry that once thrived in the days of the trans-Saharan trade, is no longer as popular as it once was. And as CCTV's Carol Oyola reports, many unemployed traders now want the state to invest in the pits, in order to revive and grow the local textile market.

Wole Soyinka calls for the release of the kidnapped school girls

  Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, yesterday, called on the Federal Government to ensure the release of 230 students of Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, who were abducted by members of the Islamic sect, Boko Haram.

Professor Soyinka made the call on a day a coalition of women’s rights in Borno expressed their readiness to mobilise thousands of women to embark on a voluntary search and rescue mission into the notorious Sambisa forest, to ensure the release of the abducted students.
Senate President, David Mark, on his part described the abduction of the girls as sacrilegious.
Meanwhile, members of the Islamist sect, Boko Haram, have threatened to kill the abducted students, should the search to recover them continue.

Soyinka tasks FG
Professor Soyinka, who gave the keynote address in Port Harcourt at the opening ceremony of declaration of Port Harcourt as UNESCO World Book Capital 2014, said the focus of the event was for the Federal Government to ensure the safe release of the students.
He said he had expected President Goodluck Jonathan to convene an emergency security meeting over the ugly development in the school after the abduction of the students.

He noted that the ongoing book fair in Port Harcourt was a national rejection of Boko Haram, adding that the Islamic sect does not reflect the teachings and values of Islam.
Minutes after his address, former Minister of Education, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili and the Project Director, Rainbow Book Club, Mrs Koko Kalango led the gathering to make a collective demand for the girls’ release.

Storming Sambisa forest
The Borno women, under the auspices of BAOBAB Women’s Right, have said they were ready to storm the major hide out of the insurgents in Sambisa forest, where the abducted girls were believed to be held.
Spokesperson for the group, Professor Hauwa Biu, told newsmen that they resolved to embark on the rescue mission when it was evident that no reasonable progress was being achieved in the rescue efforts.

Biu said: “We are ready to go into the forest and search for the girls. In fact, we are prepared to risk our lives and get up to Boko Haram camp and appeal to them to release the children to us so that they can re unite with their parents.
“There is nothing extraordinary in our quest to enter the dangerous forest. We learnt that some men in Chibok had earlier embarked on such mission, which later turned out to be fruitless.
“We felt that as mothers, we are in a better position to have the sympathy and concern over the fate of the missing girls.

“Our target is not to fight the abductors, but we want to beg them to release the girls in the name of the God that we all worship.”
The group urged security forces to expedite action in their search and rescue mission of the students so that their parents can have rest of mind.
Biu appealed to security agents to make use of sophisticated weapons in detecting the location of the abductors for easy rescue operation.

She described the abduction of the school girls as inhuman, abuse of human rights, capable of scuttling efforts for enhanced girl child education in the state and the country at large.
She said: “The abduction of the innocent girls violates their human rights, and it is a crime against humanity and prohibited under international humanitarian law.
“Women in Borno strongly condemn this act in its totality as it deprives children their right to learn in a safe environment, thereby jeopardising their future.”

Biu also appealed to the insurgents to lay down their arms and hold dialogue with the government.
She said: “We wish to appeal to the insurgents to lay down their arms and embrace dialogue. We assure them of our motherly support toward rehabilitating them when the need arises
“We condemn all other attacks in form of bomb blasts and serial killings all over the country and commiserate with the families of those who lost their relations during the unfortunate incidents.
“We commend the efforts of Borno and Federal governments as well as youths and vigilantes in addressing the current insurgency in the country.
“However, bearing in mind the continuous attacks on schools, we appeal for the provision of adequate security to all schools so as to have a safe learning environment for our children.”

It’s sacrilegious—Mark

Meanwhile, Senate President, Senator David Mark has described as sacrilegious the abduction of the female students and called for their release.
The Senate President, in a statement by his Press Secretary, Paul Mumeh, in Abuja, yesterday, said the abduction was embarrassing and that no nation that had the desire to develop would indulge in such dastardly act.

He pleaded with the captors to listen to the voices of reason and release the teenagers.
According to the statement, “Senator Mark imagined the harrowing experience the students had been subjected to by their captors and the mental and psychological torture parents and guardians of the students had faced.”
He said no nation could justify the abduction of the children whose only offence was that they chose to go to school to better their lots and contribute to the socio economic and political development of their fatherland.

Mark said: “It is a sad commentary and a terrible assault on our psyche as a people. In the good old days of Nigeria this was a taboo and unarguably unheard of.”
The Senate President canvassed for synergy between and among security agencies, especially in the area of information gathering and sharing to facilitate their rescue, stressing that the deteriorating situation was making a mockery of the nation.


Related stories: Video - Number of kidnapped girls revised to at least 230

 Boko Haram abduct 100 schoolgirls from boarding school in North Eastern Nigeria

More girls escape from kidnappers

Heineken experience growth due to double-digit sales in Nigeria

Heineken sold more beer in the first three months of 2014, with a pick-up in Africa, especially Nigeria where beer volumes grew by a double-digit percentage in the first three months of 2014,  the Americas and some of Europe.

The world’s third largest brewer recorded a flat Asia and weakness in Russia.

The brewer of Europe’s best-selling Heineken lager, Sol, Tiger and Strongbow cider said on Thursday it was encouraged by a positive start to the year in Africa and the Americas and its sharper European business.

“This is offsetting continued challenging beer market conditions in Russia and softer consumer spending in Vietnam,” Chief Executive Jean-Francois van Boxmeer said in a statement, adding that economic conditions as a whole were mixed.

Heineken shares were trading up 1.0 percent at 51.68 euros at 0715 GMT, making them among the stronger performers in the a largely flat STOXX European food and beverage index.

“Volumes were a bit weaker than expected, revenue broadly in line. Regionally, Africa was very strong, Americas pretty solid and western Europe having an easy comparison,” said Trevor Stirling, beverage analyst at Bernstein. “The bears will look at Asia-Pacific, the bulls at Africa.”

The Dutch brewer said consolidated beer volumes rose 1.5 percent on a like-for-like basis to 38.2 million hectolitres. Consolidated revenue was up 3.4 percent to 4.04 billion euros ($5.59 billion).

Heineken, the largest seller of beer in Europe, repeated its forecast that revenue should grow in 2014 on a like-for-like basis and excluding currency effects. It grew by just 0.1 percent in 2013.

Heineken suffered a year ago from an exceptionally long winter in northern Europe making people less inclined to drink, a 160 percent increase in beer duty in France and a slowdown in Nigeria, one of its major growth markets where high inflation hit disposable income.

In the first three months of 2014, Heineken said beer volumes grew by a double-digit percentage in Nigeria and by 8.7 percent as a whole in Africa.

Beer volumes also grew, by a more modest 2.1 percent in western Europe, with increases in the France, the Netherlands, Spain, Ireland and Belgium, but declines in Britain, Italy and Switzerland.

Heineken also benefited from price increases in Brazil and Mexico.

However, in Asia, a reliable source of growth in recent years, volumes were stable, with declines in India, Malaysia, Taiwan and large market Vietnam, where currency weakness and economic slowdown hit.

Russia, with sales down by a mid-teen percentage after yet another excise increase, also dragged down earnings in eastern Europe.

Heineken, like brewing rivals, has sought to increase its emerging market presence to tap higher growth, while hiking prices in developed markets. It bought the brewing operations of Mexico’s Femsa in 2010 and took full control of Asia Pacific Breweries (APB) in 2012.

About 60 percent of operating profit now comes from emerging markets, on a par with rival Anheuser-Busch InBev ABI.BR, from 40 percent in 2007, although emerging markets are less reliable growth engines, with a number suffering growing pains in recent months.

SABMiller, the world’s second largest beer maker, reported a modest 2 percent increase in volumes in the year to the end of March, with political and economic issues and a tax hike causing problems in some African nations.

Business Day

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

50 dead in attack in Taraba, Nigeria

Wukari—Daring gunmen, yesterday, defied the dusk-to-dawn curfew and attacked Gidan Aku community on the outskirts of Wukari Local Government Area of Taraba State, killing no fewer than 50 persons and injuring many others.

The attackers, armed with sophisticated weapons allegedly came from Nasarawa State through the plains of Benue River and descended on their victims while the residents were asleep.
According to a lawyer in the community, Luka Agbu, the “attackers were very hostile to us and did not spare even children or the aged.

“The attackers shot at people and burnt houses at the same time without any intervention by the security forces. We are helpless here and we plead with the Federal Government to deploy special troops to rescue us from this unfortunate and deadly attacks.

“Our people are being killed by gunmen, we are losing property on a daily basis. What kind of a country is this?” Agbu queried.
But as the dust began to settle, a contingent of soldiers and anti-riot policemen were drafted to Wukari community to contain the situation although most of the community members had deserted the area for fear of further attacks.

In the meantime, acting Governor of Taraba State, Garba Umar, has warned the people of the state to desist from politicising the current spate of violence and join hands with government in finding a lasting solution.
Addressing journalists Wednesday, Umar said that the lingering insurgency in four local government areas of the state was not peculiar to Taraba but was a national crisis affecting no fewer than 15 states of the federation.

While regretting that the attacks have seriously affected the state, Umar announced the deployment of 50 more soldiers from Yola to assist the ones on the ground in quelling rising violent attacks in the state.
“Information available shows that the insurgents came from Nasarawa State and they camped at the Coast of River Benue close to Ibi”, the governor said.

“We have deployed 50 soldiers from Yola to add to the troops on the ground who were deployed from Serti and Takum and with a reasonable number of policemen on the ground, we hope the situation would improve.

“We have concluded arrangements on how to visit the internally displaced persons and render immediate succour to them. That is why we have dispatched 28 trailers laden with relief materials to the affected LGAs.

‘I have ordered that despite the curfew in Wukari, the General Hospital there should be open for the treatment of the victims of the crisis. The 24-hour curfew earlier imposed in the area had been relaxed and would be in force from 12 noon to 6 a.m.,” the governor said.
“We remain committed to the security and well being of the public. Unfortunately some people are using these security challenges to achieve political goals. Security of our dear state is too sensitive to play politics with,” he said.

The Acting Governor sympathised with four women who delivered at the Mutum-Biyu refugee camp and promised that government would render free treatment to every victim of the attacks in the area.
….Ambush motorists, kill 2 APC leaders.

Meanwhile, gunmen suspected to be Boko Haram terrorists have shot dead the Kala/Balge council chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC), Alhaji Modu Janga and the party’s youth leader, Alhaji Abba near Mafa town on the Maiduguri-Dikwa Road.
The deceased were returning to Gudumbali from Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, when their vehicle was ambushed near Mafa town.

According to an eyewitness and resident of Mafa, Babagana Usman Mafa, “the insurgents blocked the road with wood and tree branches, after identifying occupants of the vehicle, the gunmen shot them on the spot, and fled towards Dikwa, a border town with Cameroon.

“The party chairman alongside other passengers in the ambushed vehicle, were first stopped by flagging down the driver for identification, before three gunmen on motorcycle shot dead two people at close range; and fled towards Dikwa,” Usmani said in a telephone chat Wednesday in Maiduguri.
He said the gunmen did not rob the party officials, as their vehicle was abandoned at the scene of the incident, adding that the road was also closed for two hours by soldiers and policemen to prevent further attacks.

On whether other vehicles were ambushed during the attack, he said: “These gunmen could have targeted the APC officials returning to the council area of Kala/Balge, before they were ambushed on that road leading to Gudumbali, the council headquarters.”
Council chairman of Kala/Balge, Alhaji Alifa Bukar Rann confirmed the incident, yesterday, in Maiduguri. He said: “Two officials of APC were shot dead near Mafa town while returning to Gudumbali for party official engagements”.

When contacted for confirmation over the incident, yesterday, in Maiduguri, the Borno State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Gideon Jibrin’s phone number could not be reached, but a security source who is not authorized to speak on the matter said “armed hoodlums ambushed a vehicle on Dikwa Road on Monday; and two people were feared dead, before the security agents closed the road for two hours to prevent further attacks”.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Video - Challenges for Nigeria's security

Nigeria is currently facing serious security challenges. Since the beginning of this year, about 1,500 people have been killed in the Boko Haram insurgency, in the country's northeast. The insurgency which began in 2009 is not showing any sign of abating despite several measures the government has taken to end it. The crisis has now put Nigeria in the frontline of states battling terrorism. But is Africa's most populous country doing enough to stem the tide?

Related stories: Video - Bomb blast in Abuja kills 71

Boko Haram abduct 100 schoolgirls from boarding school in North Eastern Nigeria


Video - Low key easter celebrations in Nigeria

Five days after the blast that killed at least 74 people at a bus terminal in Nigeria"s capital Abuja, the Easter celebrations were low key, with a high security presence. Soldiers mounted checkpoints at major junctions, hotels and churches. Even at fun spots, which are crowded on public holidays, the turnout was relatively scanty and even those, who dared to have a good time, made it clear they were taking a risk. However, children managed to have a good time in spite of the security situation.

Related story: Video - Bomb blast in Abuja kills 71

Video - Recycling incetive introduced in Lagos, Nigeria

Nigeria's largest city, Lagos produces around 10,000 tonnes of waste every day. To tackle the problem, working class neighbourhoods are being offered incentives to recycle trash. An innovative loyalty scheme offers electrical equipment, groceries and phone credit in return for garbage.

Related story: Video - Some Lagosians forced to turn to alternate water supply

More girls escape from kidnappers

Seven of the 85 Nigerian schoolgirls still missing after being abducted last week have escaped, the local state governor says.

Another girl had run home on the day of the attack, meaning 77 are still missing, said Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima.

About 130 girls were seized from their school hostel by gunmen last Monday.

Islamist group Boko Haram is suspected to be behind the kidnapping but has not issued any statement.

Some 1,500 people are believed to have been killed in attacks blamed on Boko Haram this year alone.

The group, whose name means "Western education is forbidden", is fighting to establish Islamic law in Nigeria. It often targets educational establishments.

Mr Shettima did not give details of how the girls had escaped, for security reasons.

The headmistress of the school in the town of Chibok on Saturday called on the kidnappers to "have mercy on the students".

It is thought that the militants took the girls to forested areas near the Cameroonian border.

Parents and vigilante group have gone there to help search for the teenage girls.

Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states in north-east Nigeria have been under emergency rule since last May.


Related story: Boko Haram abduct 100 schoolgirls from boarding school in North Eastern Nigeria

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Video - Chimamanda Adichie on the theatrical release of Half of a Yellow Sun

Best selling author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Oscar nominated Chiwetel Ejiofor and film director Biyi Bandele. shares their thoughts on the film adaptation of best-selling novel Half of a Yellow Sun.

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

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

Chiwetel Ejiofor on shooting Half of a Yellow Sun in rural Nigeria

Chiwetel Ejiofor wins best actor at the 2014 British Academy Film Awards

Search continues for kidnapped school girls

Security forces in Borno State in Nigeria are searching for dozens of teenage girls abducted by suspected members of the Islamist militant group Boko Haram.

It is thought that they were taken to a forest near the Cameroonian border.

The abductions are the latest in a series of attacks being blamed on Boko Haram. On Monday, 71 people were killed in two explosions at a bus station in the capital Abuja.


Related story: Boko Haram abduct 100 schoolgirls from boarding school in North Eastern Nigeria

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Video - Fatality count in Abuja bomb blast rises to 75

The death toll from Monday's massive explosion at a busy bus station in Nigeria's capital Abuja has now risen to 75 and is expected to grow. No one has claimed responsibility for the blast, but President Goodluck Jonathan is blaming the attack, the deadliest to have struck the capital, on Islamist militants Boko Haram.

Related story: Video - Bomb blast in Abuja kills 71

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Boko Haram abduct 100 schoolgirls from boarding school in North Eastern Nigeria

Around 100 girls are thought to have been abducted in an attack on a school in north-east Nigeria, officials say.

Gunmen reportedly arrived at the school in Chibok, Borno state, late last night, and ordered the hostel's teenage residents on to lorries.

The attackers are believed to be from the Islamist group, Boko Haram, whose militants frequently target schools.

On Monday, bombings blamed on the group killed more than 70 people in the capital, Abuja.

Boko Haram, whose name means "Western education is forbidden" in the local Hausa language, has been waging an armed campaign for an Islamic state in northern Nigeria.

A government official in Borno state told the BBC around 100 girls were thought to have been abducted from the school.

The exact number of missing students had yet to be established, as some of the girls had managed to return to their homes.

Parents had earlier told the BBC that more than 200 students had been taken from the school.

Residents in the area reported hearing explosions followed by gunfire last night, said BBC reporter Mohammed Kabir Mohammed in the capital, Abuja.

"Many girls were abducted by the rampaging gunmen who stormed the school in a convoy of vehicles," AFP news agency quotes Emmanuel Sam, an education official in Chibok, as saying.

Another witness, who requested anonymity, told AFP that gunmen overpowered soldiers who had been deployed to provide extra security ahead of annual exams.

A girl, who managed to escape and wished not to be named, told the BBC she and fellow students were sleeping when armed men burst into their hostel.

"Three men came into our room and told us not to panic. We later found out later that they were among the attackers," she said.

The girls said she and her schoolmates were taken away in a convoy, which had to slow down after some of the vehicles developed a fault.

Around 10 to 15 girls seized the opportunity to escape.

"We ran into the bush and waited until daybreak before we went back home," she said.

Nigerian media reported that two members of the security forces had been killed, and residents said 170 houses were burnt down during the attack.

Boko Haram emerged as a critic of Western-style education, and its militants frequently target schools and educational institutions.

This year, the group's fighters have killed more than 1,500 civilians in three states in north-east Nigeria, which are currently under emergency rule.

The government recently said that Boko Haram's activities were confined to that part of the country.

However, Monday's bombings in Abuja prompted renewed fears that the militants were extending their campaign to the capital.


Nigeria continues with plans to host World Economic Forum after terrorist attack on capital

Nigeria will continue to host the World Economic Forum in Abuja despite yesterdays bomb attack that killed 71.

Nigeria has pledged that they will put together the "largest security operation ever mounted in the country for an international summit" to protect guests - Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said in a statement sent to forum participants.

The 24th World Economic Forum on Africa will be held in Abuja, Nigeria, on 7-9 May 2014.


Related story: Video - Bomb blast in Abuja kills 71

Monday, April 14, 2014

Video - Some Lagosians forced to turn to alternate water supply

In Nigeria's Lagos state many residents have turned to informal wells to provide them with water. Some of the state's water infrastructure has been neglected for decades and officials say the little infrastructre that does exist, is over burdened. Millions of residents now rely on informal well diggers to get their water supply.

Video - Bomb blast in Abuja kills 71

A morning rush hour bomb killed at least 71 people at a Nigerian bus station on the outskirts of the capital on Monday, raising concerns about the spread of an Islamist insurgency after the deadliest ever attack on Abuja.

Suspicion fell on Boko Haram, though there was no immediate claim of responsibility from the Islamists who are mainly active in the northeast. As well as 71 dead, police said 124 were wounded in the first attack on the federal capital in two years.

Security experts suspect the explosion was inside a vehicle, said Air Commodore Charles Otegbade, director of search and rescue operations. The bus station, 8 km (5 miles) southwest of central Abuja, serves Nyanya, a poor, ethnically and religiously mixed satellite town where many residents work in the city.

"I was waiting to get on a bus when I heard a deafening explosion, then saw smoke," said Mimi Daniels, who escaped from the blast with minor injuries to her arm.

"People were running around in panic."

Bloody remains lay strewn over the ground as security forces struggled to hold back a crowd of onlookers and fire crews hosed down a bus still holding the charred bodies of commuters.

"These are the remains of my friend," said a man, who gave his name as John, holding up a bloodied shirt. "His travel ticket with his name on was in the shirt pocket."

The attack underscored the vulnerability of Nigeria's federal capital, built in the 1980s in the geographic center of the country to replace coastal Lagos as the seat of government for what is now Africa's biggest economy and top oil producer.

Boko Haram militants fighting for an Islamic state have largely been confined to the remote northeast. They have been particularly active there over the past few months and are increasingly targeting civilians they accuse of collaborating with the government or security forces.


"In some ways it's not a big surprise," said Kole Shettima, director of the Abuja office of U.S. charitable institution, the

MacArthur Foundation. "The situation has been escalating.

"It's a statement that they are still around and they can attack Abuja when they want, and instill fear."

The Islamists, who want to carve an Islamic state out of Nigeria, have in the past year mostly concentrated their attacks in the northeast, where their insurgency started.

There had been no such violence near the capital since suicide car bombers targeted the offices of the newspaper This Day in Abuja and the northern city of Kaduna in April 2012.

Security forces at the time said that was because a Boko Haram cell in neighboring Niger state had been broken up.

A Christmas Day bombing of a church in Madalla, on the outskirts of Abuja, killed 37 people in 2011, although the main suspect in that attack is now behind bars. Boko Haram also claimed responsibility for a bomb attack on the United Nations' Nigeria headquarters that killed 24 people on August 26, 2011.

Boko Haram, which in the Hausa language of largely Muslim northern Nigeria means broadly "Western education is sinful", is loosely modeled on the Taliban movement in Afghanistan, and has forged ties with al Qaeda-linked militants in the Sahara.


Friday, April 11, 2014

Chiwetel Ejiofor on shooting Half of a Yellow Sun in rural Nigeria

 Chiwetel Ejiofor has said he felt it was "correct" to shoot Half Of A Yellow Sun in rural Nigeria despite filming difficulties, because they were the areas most affected by the war.

Oscar nominee Chiwetel's latest film is an adaptation of the book Half Of A Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie, which tells the story of four people caught up in the Biafran War and Niferia's struggle for an independent republic.

Talking about the filming location, the 36-year-old star said: "Whenever I've been to Nigeria in the past, I've been to Lagos, Abuja and Nogu, which is where my family are and it's a bit more rural but it's in, comparatively to where we were [filming] in Calabar, it's very industrialised.

"We were out in a very rural part of Nigeria, which really made sense for the story, but it has its own challenges, just in terms of getting to places and moving equipment.

"So yeah it was complicated, but it's completely beautiful as well and so correct for the film."

He continued: "The nature of the Biafran War was so much of the struggles happened in the small villages. They were the people who really suffered as a result of the conflict.

"It felt correct to get out there and tell the story in that way."

The 12 Years A Slave star has spoken before about his own family's involvement in the war, including his grandfather's, and added that he was pleased to be able to tell a story so personal to him.

He said: "I'd always understood its very profound relevance to me and my family history and so I was excited about getting a bit of that out there and talking about it all."

Half Of A Yellow Sun is in cinemas now.

Belfast Telegraph

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Child bride kills 35 year old groom and three others with poison

Police say a child bride forced into marriage in Nigeria prepared a poisoned meal that has killed her groom and three of his friends.

They quote 14-year-old Wasila Umaru as saying she used rat poison in the food because she was forced to marry a man she did not love.

The couple was married last week. The 35-year-old groom had invited a dozen friends to celebrate at his village 100 kilometres from the north Nigerian city of Kano over the weekend.

Child marriage is common in Nigeria and especially in the mainly Muslim north.

Assistant police superintendent Musa Magaji Majia said Thursday that the teenage suspect is co-operating with police and probably will be charged with culpable homicide.

The Gazette

Bitcoin interest grows in Nigeria

There is an emerging market of online shoppers in Nigeria. Many entrepreneurs and investors see promise in this market, in spite of negative stereotypes held globally. The online shopping market has been valued at several billion dollars and there are currently over 300 registered e-commerce sites. The total investment, locally and abroad, in the e-commerce space was estimated at over fifteen million US dollars at the end of 2013. That figure has already been well surpassed, as investors seek new opportunities in this emerging market.

The opportunities

Nigeria’s population is expected to swell to well over four hundred million people by the year 2050; this represents a four times increase. Critical infrastructure is lacking: notably, there is no functioning postal service in the country and a lack of reliable roads makes deliveries difficult. Nigeria also lacks access to standardised banking and payment networks, such as PayPal. As a result it has been a tough market to crack for conventional online retailers like Amazon.

This is where local companies, Konga and Jumia, have seen a unique opportunity on which they are capitalising. These companies promise delivery within twenty-four hours. Both companies have been able to live up to that promise and they both boast a safe and secure online shopping experience available to all Nigerians.

Their success has not gone unnoticed. Jumia has secured over sixty million US dollars in seed and series-A funding, to-date. Its growth has been rapid, expanding from three to five hundred employees. Konga has raised similar investment capital, fostering similar growth.

Media giant Facebook is also interested in the opportunities that exist in the Nigerian market. Facebook has over twelve million registered users in the country and they recently sent a delegation to Lagos to strengthen relations with these companies.

Overcoming the limitations

Jumia and Konga are the larger operators in the local market. However, they are not the only businesses developing online shopping. More specialised entrants are also making their presence felt. Gloo.ng focuses on supermarket items. The last twelve months have seen this company grow four times in size and expand to a massive twenty thousand square foot facility.

Similar to Amazon, these companies are known to be exploring the use of drone technology in product delivery, as a means of servicing the growing population base.

The African continent, for the most part, skipped fixed line Internet and moved immediately to mobile technology for connectivity. Perhaps it will move directly to drone delivery out of necessity, bypassing conventional means of transportation.

This is real economic growth and it is exciting. While none of the above listed companies use bitcoin yet, it could certainly provide benefit going forward. However, there is one online retail start-up embracing the utility of bitcoin for its fashion design business: Minku.

Minku is based in Nigeria and Spain. The company specialises in the design, manufacture and sale of original handmade leather bags. These bags are sold both online and at high-end fashion stores in Nigeria. The founder, is a young and dynamic entrepreneur. She has worked in the fashion industries in both the United States and Europe. Minku's bags are all designed and handmade by Kunmi personally. Excited by the opportunities bitcoin represents in the Nigerian e- commerce space, Kunmi points to leading online merchants, like Overstock.com, as indicative of growing acceptance globally. She sees greater merchant acceptance in Nigeria as inevitable. In the meantime, she is content to be pioneering.

For her company, "accepting bitcoin is not just about nudging Nigerians to adopt the currency", it is also about "including Nigeria...in an interesting global conversation".

Bitcoin represents an opportunity for Minku as a company and Kinmi sees that. Her company is more focused on the international market than online retailers like Konga and Jumia. With bitcoin, Minku is able to sell product to clients in over sixteen countries. For the most part, product is delivered to Nigeria and the USA. Notably, there is a market for her products in places as far-flung as Finland and India. It is bitcoin that facilitates this extraordinary global reach.

Bitcoin’s acceptance by boutique manufacturers and designers in Nigeria is a trend that one would expect to gain momentum; it just makes sense. Conventional payment processors block Nigeria and banking infrastructure is poor. The greater promise of bitcoin to entrepreneurs in markets lacking access to conventional payment networks is often cited. It is good to see the early signs of this development in Nigeria.

Written by
Tristan Winters

Video - Nigeria's housing scarcity issue

Africa's most populous country, Nigeria says it needs billions of dollars to be able to plug a serious housing-deficit in the country. The rate of home ownership in Nigeria is still very low but a renewed effort from the government is now being made to address the problem.

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Nigeria Super Eagles move up to 45th in FIFA rankings

 The Super Eagles have moved two places up in the monthly Fifa ranking released on Thursday morning

Nigeria have moved up to the 45th position in the latest Fifa global rankings released on Thursday.

The Super Eagles were ranked 47th in the last Fifa rankings following their goalless draw with Mexico in last month's international friendly.

Europe occupies the top three places on the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking after Portugal climbed third behind leaders Spain and Germany.

They are followed by four South American sides in Colombia, (4th, up 1), Uruguay (5th, up 1) and fierce rivals Argentina (down 3) and Brazil (up 3), who share sixth position. Just 12 points separate this quartet.

Greece return to the top ten for the first time since October 2012, while Scotland moved up 15 places to the 22nd position in the world.

Cote D'Ivoire continue to be the top-ranked African side moving up three places to 21 this month. Egypt also moved up two spots to finish in 24th position in the world and second in Africa. They are followed by Algeria in 25, Ghana 38, Cape Verde 42, Tunisia 49, Cameroon 50, Guinea51 and Mali 59 to round up the African top ten.

Nigeria's World Cup Group F opponents are ranked thus: Argentina 6, Bosnia-Herzegovina 25 and Iran 37.

The next FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking will be published on 8 May.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Woman arrested attempting to traffic 686 of cocain concealed in her vagina

A Nigerian woman who allegedly inserted 686 grammes of cocaine in vagina, to beat security operatives at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, has been arrested by officials of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA.

The suspect identified as Chinelo Okorom Lynnette, 36, was arrested  during  an inward screening of passengers on an Ethiopian Airline flight from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to Nigeria.
NDLEA Head of Public Affairs, Mitchell Ofoyeju, who made the disclosure, yesterday, said the suspect concealed the  drugs in a cellophane bag before inserting it into her vagina and ingested some.
He said: ”The suspect tested positive for drug ingestion and vaginal insertion. She, however, expelled a total of 686 grammes of substance that tested positive for cocaine while under observation at the airport.”

I was deceived
However, the suspect, reportedly told NDLEA officials at the Airport Command headed by Mr Hamza Umar that she was deceived into the illicit business out of frustration by her landlord, following  her in ability to pay her rent.
According to her, “My husband abandoned me with four children two years ago. Since then, I have been working hard to pay their  school fees and also ensure their proper upkeep. I sell food at Ajagbandi to take care of my children.
“When my rent expired, I had no money to renew it. My landlord ejected us and I had nowhere to go with the children or who to talk to. I was crying like a baby when a man came to console me.
“He told  me to wipe my tears and promised to introduce me to importation business. I felt he was God-sent when he sponsored my trip to Addis Ababa. Before leaving, he said I was to go into importation of female hand  bags.
“But when I got to Ethiopia, he told me to take cocaine to Nigeria. Initially, I disagreed but he threatened to recover his investment at all cost. I am just a victim of man’s cruelty to man.”
Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of NDLEA, Ahmadu Giade, said the arrest was made following the eagle-eye operatives at the airport, as a result of  different antics used by drug traffickers..
He noted: ”Going to Addis Ababa to smuggle cocaine into Nigeria is one of the tricks employed by drug trafficking syndicates. Cocaine is not known to come from Addis Ababa, but we were able to detect it because of our vigilance. We are prepared to counter  activities of drug kingpins and bring them to justice. We look forward to fruitful progress in our investigation.”
He, therefore, advised members of the public to be cautious of the tricks by drug syndicates, adding that the suspect’s action is shameful.


Video - Africa's richest man Aliko Dangote expanding cement business

Dangote Cement plans to double its production capacity across Africa to around 40 million tonnes this year. According to its Chief Executive Director, Deva Kumar Edwin the firm will add 9 million tonnes of production capacity to its Nigerian operations bringing the total installed capacity to 29 million tonnes a year.

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Monday, April 7, 2014

Video - Nigerian breweries investing in Sorghum and Cassava

Nigeria's recent reforms in the agriculture sector are impacting positively on the country's food and beverages industry as producers source more raw materials locally and invest further in the sector.

Video - Nigeria is now Africa's biggest economy

Nigeria has "rebased" its gross domestic product (GDP) data, which has pushed it above South Africa as the continent's biggest economy.

Nigerian GDP now includes previously uncounted industries like telecoms, information technology, music, online sales, airlines, and film production.

GDP for 2013 totalled 80.3 trillion naira (£307.6bn: $509.9bn), the Nigerian statistics office said.

That compares with South Africa's GDP of $370.3bn at the end of 2013.

'Changes nothing'
However, some economists point out that Nigeria's economic output is underperforming because at 170 million people, its population is three times larger than South Africa's.

On a per-capita basis, South Africa's GDP numbers are three times larger than Nigeria's.

And Nigerian financial analyst Bismarck Rewane called the revisions "a vanity".

He added: "The Nigerian population is not better off tomorrow because of that announcement. It doesn't put more money in the bank, more food in their stomach. It changes nothing."

Rebasing is carried out so that a nation's GDP statistics give the most up-to-date picture of an economy as possible.

Most countries do it at least every three years or so, but Nigeria had not updated the components in its GDP base year since 1990.

Then, the country had one telecoms operator with around 300,000 phone lines. Now it has a whole mobile phone industry with tens of millions of subscribers.

Likewise, 24 years ago there was only one airline, and now there are many.

International aid donors are keen for more African countries to undertake this process regularly because it enables them to make better decisions when it comes to aid.


Related story: This coming Sunday Nigeria set to become Africa's biggest economy

Friday, April 4, 2014

This coming Sunday Nigeria set to become Africa's biggest economy

Nigeria will rebase its GDP on Sunday, the statistics office said, in a move that will boost its estimated size by anything from around 40 to 70 percent and is almost certain to push it ahead of South Africa to become Africa's biggest economy.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) will change the base year for calculating Nigeria's GDP to 2010 from 1990 to reflect changes in the economy of Africa's most populous nation, and more accurately assess the size of its current output.

Most governments overhaul GDP calculations every few years to reflect changes in output and consumption, but Nigeria has not done so since 1990, meaning sectors such as the Internet, telephones and even the "Nollywood" film industry have had to be newly factored in to give a truer picture, sources say.

When Ghana rebased in 2010, output jumped 60 percent. For Nigeria being the continent's number one economy could prove an irresistible magnet for investors.

Nigeria's GDP only needs to go up by a quarter from a current IMF 2013 estimate of $292 billion to hit $365 billion, which would enable it to overtake South Africa, currently estimated by the fund at $353 billion.

"The impact of a rebasing would likely have a positive impact on perceptions ... this would come at time when most investors are fairly downbeat on South Africa," because of its high combined fiscal and current account deficit, London-based economist for CSL Stockbrokers, Alan Cameron, said.


Nigeria has been growing as a destination for foreign investors owing to the size of its consumer market and increasingly sophisticated capital markets. Analysts say higher GDP means more consumption per capita, boosting its allure.

"The globe is still looking at the next strong growth story outside China and India, and Africa is on their minds," said Abri Du Plessis, chief investment officer at Gryphon Asset Management, which has investments in Nigeria.

"We are seeing good growth in the ... Nigeria story."

It is already a growing market for consumer goods firms like Nestle, Heineken, Cadbury and Unilever, as well as construction material firms like Lafarge and Dangote Cement, owned by Africa's richest man Aliko Dangote.

Much increased interest would be in manufacturing and service companies, which could further help Africa's top oil producer move away from its over-reliance on the black stuff.

It certainly won't be the wonder cure for Nigeria's economic ills. For one thing, being bigger means expansion will slow.

"The rebasing exercise will result in an increase in the country's market size, but it is likely to lead to a slower rate of real GDP growth," said Ecobank economist Gaimin Nonyane, from its current rate of 7 percent for the past five years.

It will be mixed for Nigeria's fiscal stance as well, improving the debt-to-GDP ratio, currently less than 20 percent, but expose a weaker tax base, so debt investors won't be moved.

"Fixed income investors will probably not pay much attention to the GDP dynamics," said Standard Bank's Samir Gadio.

Despite roaring growth in recent years and a bigger GDP, Nigeria will continue to trail South Africa in terms of basic infrastructure - power and roads - necessary to lift the bulk of its population of 170 million out of absolute poverty.

And its legendary dysfunction - abysmal telephone and Internet quality, clogged roads, ports and airports, obstructive police and reliance on diesel generators for most of its power - mean it won't be replacing South Africa as a hub very soon.

"South Africa is going to stay the entry point for funds into Africa. I don't think (it will move to) Nigeria," Rigaardt Maartens, a portfolio manager at PSG Online Securities, said. (Additional reporting by Helen Nyambura in Johannesburg; Editing by Tim Cocks and Giles Elgood)


Forced out Central Governor Lamido Sanusi wins case in court against the government

A Nigerian court has awarded about $300,000 (£180,000) in damages to suspended central bank chief Lamido Sanusi after he filed a harassment case against the government.
The court also ordered that Mr Sanusi be given back his passport, and he should not be detained unlawfully.

He was briefly detained in February, soon after his suspension.

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan suspended him after he claimed that $20bn in oil revenue had gone missing.

Mr Sanusi's passport was seized on 20 February at the international airport in Lagos, Nigeria's main city.

The Lagos High Court restrained the government from arresting, detaining or harassing him, Nigeria's Premium Times newspaper reports.

Mr Jonathan says Mr Sanusi was suspended, pending the outcome of an investigation into "financial recklessness and misconduct" at the central bank.

Nigeria's state oil firm has denied failing to account for the money, saying Mr Sanusi's claim was "unsubstantiated".

Mr Sanusi is widely respected after undertaking reforms to the banking sector since his appointment in 2009.

He was named central bank governor of the year for 2010 by Banker magazine.


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Central bank governor Lamido Sanusi suspended

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Nollywood: most prolific movie machine

A 15-second drum roll and the title of the film, "Deceptive Heart," comes crashing onto the screen in a groovy 1970s font.

Less than 10 minutes into the Nollywood movie, the heart of plot is revealed: A woman has two boyfriends and doesn't know what to do.

The story moves as quickly as the film appears to have been shot. Some scenes are shaky, with cameras clearly in need of a tripod, and musical montages are often filled with pans of the same building.

Most Nollywood movies are made in less than 10 days and cost about $25,000.

Fueled by low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigeria's film industry has grown by some estimates over the past 20-plus years into the most prolific on Earth, pushing out more movies a year than Hollywood in California or Bollywood in Mumbai, India.

Hollywood tends to portray Africa as an exotic land of deserts and giraffes, populated by huddling masses, according to Samuel Olatunje, a Nollywood publicist known in the business as "Big Sam."

Nigerian movies are popular because they portray African people more accurately, Big Sam explains outside his single-room Lagos office. They explore African issues rarely touched on in Hollywood — magic, tribal loyalties, the struggle to modernize.

"Stories that you can relate to," he says.

Ventures Africa business magazine says Nollywood knocks out 2,000 titles a year and is the third-largest earner in the movie world, after Bollywood and Hollywood. The $250-million industry employs more than a million people.

Artists say Nigeria's bad infrastructure and chaotic legal system prevent them from making films that are as impressive in their quality as they are in quantity.

"You'll find that we're having to make do," legendary Nollywood actor Olu Jacobs explains at an exclusive country club in Lagos.

Trained at Britain's Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, Jacobs says Nigerian artists often have the same artistic capacity as their Western counterparts, but not the same financial capacity. "We're not happy because the finished product doesn't have the finish that it should have," he says.

Later that day, Jacob's driver inches his car through grinding traffic in Lagos, the African megalopolis as chaotic and bustling as any Nollywood production scene. A young businessman in an SUV nearly cuts him off. The SUV driver's eyes grow wide when he recognizes Jacobs, and he smiles like a child meeting Santa Claus. He lets the actor's car pass in front.

Nollywood was born, so the story goes, when Kenneth Nnebue, a video storeowner, had too many blank tapes in the early 1990s. To find a use for them, he shot "Living in Bondage" with a single camera for video. The protagonist joins a secret cult and kills his wife in a ritual sacrifice that wins him enormous wealth but leaves him haunted. The movie was an instant hit, selling 500,000 copies.

But at the country club, Jacobs says modern Nollywood is no accident. When he returned to Nigeria from the London stage in the early 1980s, he, like many other artists, knew he could make successful movies at home.

"We all knew that we had a market," he says. "When I grew up, cinemas were always filled up. Stage performances were all ways full. Why shouldn't there be?"

The main problem for movie-makers, Jacobs says, is also the top complaint of almost every industry in Nigeria: not enough power. Less than half the population of Africa's most populous country has access to government electricity, and even the wealthiest families deal with daily power cuts. Nigerian film producers pay a premium for fuel to run generators to keep the lights on and the equipment going.

Piracy also cuts into profits, Jacobs says. After a film is released, producers have only a few weeks before illegally burned copies undercut their sales. Pirated Nigerian DVDs cost no more than a dollar or two and are available at markets in even the farthest corners of Africa.

But these cheap DVDs have also helped the industry grow, making Nigerian movies wildly popular in Africa and among Africans overseas.

Last year, Nollywood ventured off the continent entirely to screen "Half of a Yellow Sun," a movie about Nigeria's 1960s civil war based on an award-winning novel by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, at film festivals Toronto, London and Los Angeles.

While it didn't get rave reviews, the Hollywood Reporter called it an "epic-on-a-budget" that will continue to draw audiences. "Half of a Yellow Sun" had a budget of about $8 million, the largest in Nollywood history.

By comparison, "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," based on a book by Suzanne Collins, had a budget of about $130 million and was one of the highest grossing Hollywood movies in 2013.

A week after the Los Angeles premiere of "Half of a Yellow Sun," the cast and crew of a Nollywood soap opera, "Remember Me," pack into a hot, borrowed apartment in Lagos. Director F. Olu Michaels secures a red film over a harsh white light with masking tape before calling out "Action!"

Then he silently drops to his hands and knees and crawls behind the cameraman to avoid casting shadows on the set.

After the shoot, as a generator rumbles just far enough away from the set to avoid being picked up by microphones, Michaels says Nollywood films are improving rapidly because of intense competition.

"The quality of what we bring out now is not what we brought out, even five years ago," he says.

Still, he says, the industry has a long way to go before its actors and directors have a chance to make millions of dollars.


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

Nollywood actress Omotola Jolade-Ekeinde is in Forbes 100 most influential people in the world

Nigerians suffering in Chinese prisons

I know these are no easy times for the President so I will skip the details and present the facts unedited. About 1508 Nigerian citizens are dying needlessly in China detention camps and prison facilities for travel offences.

This figure is from Guangzhou alone and it is kept off the books. Guangzhou is a district in Guangdong province in the People's Republic of China. This province is notorious for so many reasons because it is the centre for African traders and business travellers with Nigerians noticeably influential in the control of African related transactions.

These resourceful Nigerians have (in no small way) contributed to the increase in sales volume of China wares at cheaper price to Nigeria. According to the China Bureau of Economics and International Trade, Nigeria was the biggest exporter of Chinese products to Africa in 2013. About US$ 205,600,000 (N34,940,000,000) was their official figure. I am sure it is more than that because Nigerians use very unofficial means in transferring funds. South Africa came a distant second. I am not convinced that Nigerians are targeted for mass arrest and gross abuse. I witness a police "raid" of the city and saw the way Nigerian business men and women were arrested en-mass and thrown into waiting vehicles, those with valid papers were not even spared.

A woman who came to buy clothes was accosted and she was screaming "I have my papers, its in my bag" the police collected her document and threw them into the canal. She was cuffed and pushed into the bus with other Nigerians onboard, she gave her name as Mrs. Mbamalu.

The plight of these people cannot be put into words. They are kept in underground dungeons in freezing weather, tortured and made to feed on rotten vegetables, caked blood of pork and mashed rice not fit for animals. Some of them have to be stretchered around because of deteriorating health condition like impoverished refugees trapped in war zone and they die without official records because the Guangzhou district police has no time limit for detaining Nigerians.

They keep them as long as they want and when any Nigerian dies in their custody, they simply cremate (burn the corpse) and wipe off the names. It is even more disturbing given the fact that the Nigerian embassy is not aware of most of these cases. Chinese police authority in this district keep it off the official radar of their ministry of foreign affairs. I have witnesses both here at home and in China.

Our president should be informed that other African national are not treated this way. Three African medical students (a Rwandese, a Kenyan and a Nigerian) were stopped on the way and the first two flashed their passports, without checking, the police moved to the Nigerian boy whose passport was checked and taken while his two years student visa was cancelled.

He was given 10 days to leave China. Infuriated the young Nigerian slapped the police officer and he was detained for 58 days till his parents were alerted by his friends and they bought a one-way ticket after paying 5000RMB (US$833.33) as fine. All the police could say was "China give and China take". I contacted some of the senior police officers and showed them the video I recorded on my mobile phone of the brutalization and hostilities Nigerians suffer in the hands of their men. Peeved by my action, they asked if I am a lawyer or from the embassy, I responded No, they took the memory card from my phone and promise to do "something" about it.

Overstaying is a minor travel offence, it is statistically known world-wide that 21 per cent of travellers overstayed the stipulated visa period. In Europe if an offender is to be sent back, the government buys his ticket and still gives US$2500 as stipend but the Chinese police in Guangzhou prefer criminalizing Nigerians, arresting detaining, torturing and asking them to pay 500RMB (US$83.33) per day for overstay. What this translates to is that an offender that overstays for two years cannot get out by paying fine.

FEELING deserted and abandoned by the Nigerian embassy in Beijing, the Nigerian community resorted to the only way they know - violence and outright confrontation with the city police which most times turns into massive fight and riots. These raids and riots (codenamed "niria mafan" which translates as Nigerian crises) are so common that there were about three in a month. The police close down their businesses, arrest them from the roads, in the malls, pubs and hotels.

This is bad for our great country's image. So they are all in detention not having a glimmer of hope when they will go home. I contacted the Nigerian Embassy (26 hours by train) and they made me to understand that the figure is far more than 1508 but they are constrained financially and limited diplomatically and they cannot bring all these to the attention of Mr. President because of their official status and the bureaucratic route it has to go through (I understand because I was a university teacher). I do not know any of these detainees (I can come back and mind my business) but no right thinking Nigerian (Let alone a responsible lender) will see these injustice and keep mute.

It will take the weight of our President's office to get these people back and correct the anomaly as they are dying silently and needlessly. Out of the need to help I visited one of the detention camps with the "assistance" of a good Laban (Laban is the Chinese word for a Factory owner).

It is the least place you will expect citizen from another sovereign nation, cited in what look like a hacienda, 45 minutes fast drive from civilization, deep inside a farm ranch with treelawns. The facility is a three storey building from the outside but when I went in, I realize it has six floors below the earth. I could not help but weep for my countrymen. The detainees I met at first thought I was from the Nigerian embassy and they chorused "praise the Lord"! some where inside the building, I heard crowd singing "Paul and Silas". No inscription on the building and none of them have their names written at the Camp, they are called "Hei kue" (Chinese word for black Satan) and given tag numbers. No communication, no money, no rights, no visitors, no-nothing. They have to take off all their clothes (including panties in a - 2°c weather). When detainees fall sick or die, they are not given the dignity of using a stretcher bed to carry them, the house keeper simply use a farm cart used in carrying animal feeds.

The detainees begged that I inform the Nigerian Authority and Dr. Ifeanyi Uba as he has been there to help several times in the past. This was around 1.a.m. The loban explain that "... this was just one of the several camps where Nigerians that overstayed are kept... ... ..that the police chief will want the world to believe that Nigerians are majorly Criminals... ... to him Nigerians are not but most of our citizens are infringing on a very profiting racket between the police and the Chinese buying/cargo agents who see the Africa market as an easy place to amass wealth that runs into hundreds of millions of dollars but Nigerians came and setup mega agenting firms thereby stopping the kick-backs that comes to the syndicates that include very powerful people in the Guangdong government and this did not go down well with the service chiefs who are addicted gamblers (in macau Island) used to exortic lifestyles... ..so the police will do everything to get rid of Nigerians"... .he said".

We are a great nation regardless of our domestic challenges and we must put it not only in words but also in action. Am not making a case for our citizens involved in crimes abroad but for those who overstay their visa period. I beg Your Fatherly conscience to respond to them because it can happen to anyone. No official of our embassy can tell Your Excellency this but it is an open secrete and it may need some unofficial handling because the camps are shrouded in secrecy so I have to take a sheet(secretely) that has the name.

I am not an expert in foreign diplomacy or international law so I do not know if our bilateral relation with china permits them to violate our citizens and lock them up without any explanation or notification to our embassy. Sir, please send a high-power delegate to china as majority of the detainees are uneducated and do not known what official channel they can explore, Your Excellency intervention is the only light in the tunnel. Am also appealing to our law makers, the president Nigerian Senate SEN.DAVID MARK, speaker House of Representatives - HON. AMINU TAMBUWA, The Governors, particularly the Governors of Abia State - H.E THEODORE ORJI, Governor of Anambra State - H.E WILLIE OBIANO, Governor of Ebonyi State -H.E MARTIN ELECHI. Governor of Enugu State - H.E Sullivan CHIME and Governor of Imo State H.E OWELLE ROCHAS OKOROCHA.

The Ndi-igbo leaders, MADAM OKONJO IWEALLA and DR. IFEANYI UBA (He has been there to help in the past) as they are mostly from the South-Eastern part of our great country. May God continue to guide Your Excellency in steering the Nigeria nation AMEN.



Related story: Video - Documentary on Nigerians in Chinese prisons for drug smuggling

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Ebola fear in Nigeria happens to be dengue fever

The Federal Ministry of Health has asserted that laboratory investigations have shown that there was outbreak of dengue haemorrhagic fever in Nigeria and not of the feared Ebola virus as widely reported.

Speaking at a news conference in Abuja Tuesday, the Minister of State for Health, Dr Khaliru Alhassan, said the alleged outbreak of Ebola fever in the country was false and misplaced.

"As a follow-up of a report in a section of the media of an outbreak of Ebola disease in Nigeria, the Federal Ministry of Health wishes to inform the general public that laboratory investigation has revealed that it is not Ebola, but dengue haemorrhagic fever," he added.

"This has been reported wrongly. Dengue fever is caused by a virus, which is usually transmitted through a particular type of mosquito, not the normal Anopheles mosquito that we know which transmits malaria, but another kind of mosquito known as Aedes albopictus.

"Its (Dengue haemorrhagic fever) symptoms are very similar to that of malaria; that is, you get fever, you get headache, you get body pains and of course it may be associated with vomiting."

Alhassan added that dengue fever could cause bleeding gums, bloody diarrhoea, nose bleeding, severe pains in the eyes as well as red palms and soles.

According to him, the activities of the mosquito that transmits the virus are being closely monitored nationwide by the Enugu-based Arbovirus Research Centre of the ministry.

He urged the public to keep the environment clean always, saying that the ministry had intensified surveillance on the disease with all the state ministries alerted.

He added that all the airport health posts and border medical centres in the country had been put on alert and directed to screen travellers from countries with confirmed cases of Ebola hemorrhagic fever.

The minister advised Nigerians travelling to countries with proven cases of Ebola virus to be careful and to report any illness with symptoms such as sore throat, fever, dry and hacking cough. He added that illnesses with weakness, severe headache, joint and muscle aches, diarrhoea, dehydration, stomach pain, and vomiting as symptoms should be reported to the appropriate authorities.

"Any suspected case should be reported to the nearest health facility including general hospital, federal medical centre or teaching hospitals where non-specific and symptomatic drugs against this disease have been prepositioned."


Suicide bomber leaves 21 dead in Maiduguri

At least 15 civilians have been killed in a suicide bombing by suspected Islamist militants in north-east Nigeria, officials say.

Six of the attackers also died in the explosion, which took place on the outskirts of the city of Maiduguri, a defence ministry spokesman said.

Authorities said the Boko Haram group was behind the assault.

At least 1,500 lives have been claimed in the restive north-eastern region this year, according to latest figures.

Half of those killed were civilians, Amnesty International said in a report released on Monday.

The organisation blamed both "an increase in attacks by Boko Haram and uncontrolled reprisals by Nigeria's security forces" for the high death toll.

Militant stronghold

Tuesday's explosion happened when a militant blew up a vehicle near a checkpoint in Borno state, the defence ministry said.

The blast took place as soldiers were trying to foil the militants' attempt to drive several vehicles with explosives into a petrol station, spokesman Brig Gen Chris Okulade told journalists.

"Three explosive-laden vehicles were demobilised by shots fired at them by soldiers at the checkpoint," he said.

But a fourth car exploded, apparently set off by one of the militants.

Boko Haram was launched in Maiduguri in 2009, with the aim of setting up an Islamic state.

A state of emergency was declared in three north-eastern states last year to help the military crush the insurgency.

However, the militants have stepped up attacks in recent months.

The violence has forced some 250,000 people from their homes so far this year, according to Nigeria's relief agency.

More than three million people are said to face a humanitarian crisis.


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Former central bank governor Lamido Sanusi under probe for financing terrorism

The Federal Government, yesterday, said it WAs investigating suspended governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, on suspicions of being a major financier of terrorism in the country.

This was revealed by the Department of State Services, DSS, in a counter-affidavit to the suit filed by Sanusi before a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, in which he is seeking to restrain the Police and operatives of DSS from arresting, detaining or otherwise harassing him.

The DSS told the court that it impounded Sanusi’s international passport because of on-going investigations over alleged terrorism financing.

Further in the counter-affidavit, DSS argued that it was absurd for Sanusi to say that an interaction with DSS for less than an hour amounted to a violation of his rights.

It argued that the provisions of Section 6 of the National Security Agencies Act empowered the service to impound the international passports of suspects pending conclusion of investigations.

It would be recalled that upon Sanusi’s arrival at Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos on February 20, the DSS impounded his international passport.

No evidence of such against me —Sanusi

However, Sanusi has denied being a financier of terrorists, insisting that the Federal Government had failed to substantiate the allegation of terrorism financing levelled against him.

Sanusi, who spoke through his counsel, Mr Kola Awodein, SAN, at the resumed hearing in his fundamental human rights enforcement suit before the Federal High Court in Lagos, said that apart from the mere allusion to the allegation of terrorism financing, the Federal Government never produced any evidence before the court to back up such claim.

The court adjourned till April 3, 2014 to rule on the fundamental rights suit by Sanusi.
Respondents in the suit are the Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, Inspector-General of Police, IG and DSS.

Adoption of pending applications

Trial judge, Justice Ibrahim Buba, adjourned for judgment after counsel representing parties argued their respective pending applications before the court.

Counsel to the AGF, Dr Fabian Ajogwu, SAN, who moved his preliminary objection to Sanusi’s suit, urged the court to strike it out for want of jurisdiction.

He argued that the provisions of Section 254 (c) 1 (d) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), ousted the court’s jurisdiction to entertain the suit.

He submitted that the case before the court bordered on the employment of the applicant, adding that matters which were labour-related, were within the exclusive jurisdiction of the National Industrial Court, NIC.

“Section 254 (c) 1 (d) of the Constitution vests exclusive jurisdiction on the National Industrial Court, with respect to civil cases or matters touching on employment, labour or industrial relations.

“We respectfully urge the court to hold that it has no jurisdiction to entertain the reliefs sought by the applicant, and strike out the suit,” he said.

Adopting his counter affidavit, Ajogwu argued that the applicant cannot by his suit, seek to restrain the respondents from performing their constitutional and statutory duties.

He argued that investigations were being made in accordance with the provisions of the law, on the applicant, for which the second and third respondents had a statutory duty to perform.

“My lord, we respectfully submit that the applicant is not entitled to a grant of perpetual injunction, restraining the respondents from performing their constitutional duties,” he said.

Citing the judgment of retired Justice Niki Tobi of the Supreme Court in the case of Adeniran vs Alao, Ajogwu submitted that perpetual injunction is everlasting, incessant, interminable and so, cannot be granted by a court of law.

“A court cannot grant perpetual injunction on a mere prima facie case. The applicant’s suit is basically an action to shield him from the machinery of administration of justice, which has been kick-started by the respondents.

“I therefore, urge your lordship, like the Biblical Pontius Pilate, to wash your hands off this case, as it is not the affairs of this honourable court,” Ajogwu submitted.
Counsel to the second and third respondents, Mr David Abuo and Mr Moses Idakwo, also associated themselves with the submissions of Ajogwu.

Court has jurisdiction to hear suit

Responding to the preliminary objection and counter-affidavit adopted by Ajogwu and counsel to other respondents, Awodein contended that the court was clearly vested with jurisdiction to hear the suit.

He argued that the suit had nothing to do with the terms of employment of the applicant or industrial relation as submitted by first respondent, since it was not a case of the applicant against the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Awodein noted that in construing the provisions of Section 254 (c) 1 (d) of the constitution, the word “employment” must be read together with other words listed therein, to appreciate its scope.

He argued that the applicant in his originating summons, never sought for an order of perpetual injunction, adding that the reliefs sought were qualified.

“It cannot be suggested that the applicant is restraining the respondents from performing their duties, but they must be restrained from doing so, without due process of the law. The seizure of the applicant’s international passport by the third respondent is a derogation of his freedom of movement.

“The first to third respondents give conflicting reasons as to the complaint made against the applicant: This conflict goes to show that they acted without due process of the law.

“The allegations against the applicant as to funding of terrorism, is an after-thought by the respondent, which is not backed by facts, as there is no reasonable suspicion that the applicant committed any crime. The law clearly defines how such duties should be performed, and so, I invite your lordship to hold that the applicant has a cause of action against the respondent.”

He drew the court’s attention to the provisions of Section 251 of the Constitution which provides in its preamble that “Notwithstanding anything to the contrary— the Federal High Court shall have jurisdiction in civil cases.”

He further contended that the provision of Section 254 (c) 1 (d) of the constitution, must be read subject to the provisions of Section 251.

He urged the court to dismiss the preliminary objection of the respondents, and uphold the case of the applicant.

After listening to the submissions of all counsel, Justice Buba reserved ruling till April 3.
The court had on February 21 granted an interim order of injunction, restraining the respondents from arresting, detaining, or harassing the applicant, pending the determination of the motion on notice.


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