Monday, June 30, 2014

Boko Haram attack Christians in Northern Nigeria - At least 40 dead

Four villages in north-eastern Nigeria have been attacked by suspected Boko Haram militants who targeted at least one church.

The bodies of at least 40 civilians and six militants have been recovered, a local vigilante has told the BBC.

It is the latest assault on villages near Chibok, the town where more than 200 schoolgirls were abducted in April.

Hundreds of villagers have been killed in similar attacks in the region by Boko Haram in recent months.

A state of emergency is in force in northern Nigeria because of the group's increasingly violent campaign to overthrow the government and create an Islamic state.

Attacks in the Chibok area eight days earlier were feared to have left dozens of villagers dead.

The BBC's Will Ross: "We are hearing reports of totally deserted villages"

Bows and arrows

An eyewitness said Kautikari village, a short distance from Chibok, was almost deserted, with bodies of civilians and Boko Haram fighters on the streets.

The insurgents were there for at least four hours, setting fire to homes and shooting sporadically.

Vigilantes armed with bows and arrows and hunting rifles have been trying to defend the village from such attacks.

One of the survivors said some 20 men arrived in a pick-up truck and on motorbikes, Reuters reported.

"Initially I thought they were military but when I came out, they were firing at people. I saw people fleeing and they burned our houses," Samuel Chibok was quoted as saying.

"Smoke was billowing from our town as I left."

The BBC's Will Ross, in the commercial capital Lagos, says a Nigerian air force plane has been seen flying over the area.

However, residents of these extremely vulnerable villages often complain that there are not nearly enough soldiers deployed in the area and they have been calling on the government to arm the vigilante force, our correspondent adds.

AFP news agency named the other villages targeted as Kwada, Ngurojina and Karagau.

According to one account from Kwada, a number of churches there were attacked during Sunday services and worshippers killed before the militants went on to Kautikari.


Related stories: Video - Bomb blast in the capital Abuja, Nigeria - At least 21 confirmed dead

Video - Bomb blast in Abuja kills 71

Friday, June 27, 2014

U.S. reduces surveillance flights seeking kidnapped schoolgirls in Nigeria

The United States reduced its surveillance flights to help find more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls abducted by Islamist militants after building a body of intelligence and after other states ramped up support, a U.S. official said.

Nigeria has committed itself to the hunt for the girls, who were kidnapped in April in one of the violent group's most spectacular attacks, and received help from the United States and other countries, including its neighbors.

The senior U.S. defense official told Reuters that the U.S. intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance flights, first announced in May, were now flying at an "intermittent" rate.

The official said overall intelligence-gathering had not diminished, and noted additional operations by Britain and France.

"We had substantial initial coverage for the baseline and we’ve moved into a maintenance mode," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The official declined to say how long the period of heightened initial U.S. coverage lasted. Asked whether it was just a week or two, the official said: "No. We were ... building this baseline for a good period of time."

The Pentagon had said on Thursday that there were "around the clock" intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) operations in support of Nigeria's search. U.S. military personnel are in Abuja helping coordinate the effort.

The United States also sent about 80 U.S. military personnel to Chad in May to support the surveillance operation. Chad lies to the northeast of Nigeria, bordering the area in which Boko Haram operates.

In the last month U.S. officials have played down expectations about a swift rescue of the girls and stressed the limitations of intelligence gleaned from surveillance flights.

One U.S. official told Reuters of concerns that Boko Haram may have laid booby traps in areas the girls could be held and there have been reports that the girls may have been split up into small groups.

"ISR alone will not solve this problem. It will take … the Nigerian piece of the equation with their own sources and human intelligence coupled with the other forms to really understand the picture," the defense official said.

In an opinion piece in the Washington Post on Friday Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said his government and security services had "spared no resources, have not stopped and will not stop until the girls are returned home."

The defense official did not discuss specific U.S. intelligence but acknowledged that information gathered from different sources had left only a murky picture of where the girls might be, in how many groups and even in which country.

"What is clear is a sense of dispersion that would contribute to pessimism in terms of the prospects for a successful rescue operation to be mounted by anyone, whether it’s the host nation or supported in any way by external actors," the official said.


Related stories: Nigerian government denies second mass kidnapping by Boko Haram

Boko Haram kidnap 60 more girls and 31 boys

Video - Search continues for the 200 kidnapped schoolgirls

Nigeria Intelligence Agency sent warning to Abuja malls for 2 weeks before bombings

Nigeria's intelligence agency said it has been warning shopping complexes in Abuja for two weeks that Islamic extremists might attack them in the capital, where a blast at a mall killed 22 people this week.

The increased security may have prevented even more carnage as witnesses said a security guard stopped a car bomber from entering the mall moments before the massive explosion on Wednesday.

Survivor Donald Chikason told ThisDay newspaper that a security guard argued with the driver of a car who wanted to enter Emab Plaza through the exit gate. When the guard refused, the man bent down and moments later the car exploded, Friday's edition of the newspaper quoted him as saying.

"The man started arguing, behaving as if he was drunk," it quoted him as saying.

Chikason, who works at a bank in the mall, was knocked unconscious by the blast and regained consciousness in the hospital.

The explosion was heard miles (kilometers) away. It set 17 vehicles ablaze and shattered windows throughout the four-story complex.

Body parts lay around the exit gate, other witnesses told The Associated Press. Dozens of wounded survivors were recovering in the hospitals Friday, most suffering burn wounds like Chikason, but at least one victim's leg was amputated, doctors said.

Nigerian intelligence received information that Boko Haram extremists were planning such an attack, said spokeswoman Marilyn Ogar of the Department of State Security.

"About two weeks ago we heard information that they were planning an attack at a busy shopping mall or market ... and so we had to go from one shopping complex to another trying to tell people to be more aware," she told The Associated Press.

Emab Plaza is the biggest and busiest in Abuja, the nation's capital in central Nigeria. The explosion occurred around rush hour as many residents were hurrying to view Nigeria's Super Eagles match against Argentina at the World Cup in Brazil. It was unclear if the bomb was timed to coincide with that, although Boko Haram has bombed several football viewing venues this year, prompting two northeastern states to ban public events to watch the football spectacular.

The state security department did not publish the intelligence about the threat to shopping malls, apparently to avoid a panic. Last week the government warned it had information that Boko Haram planned to hijack petrol tankers in the capital and booby trap them with explosives.

Two separate bombs in Abuja in April killed about 120 people and wounded more than 200 at a busy bus station.

President Goodluck Jonathan returned home Thursday night, cutting short his participation at an African Union summit in Equatorial Guinea.

The capital is in mourning, with speedy burials for Muslims among the victims. They included artist Abba Kura. His friend, Muhammad Khalifa Garba wept at his funeral Thursday, where mourners carried his works. He said Kura told him earlier this week that he no longer wanted to paint on canvas and had started a new work, a landscape on paper.

A relative of another victim, Mohammed Maina Bissala, railed against Boko Haram's indiscriminate tactics: "Allah says you should not take the life of a single person, so why should you claim that you are Boko Haram and you are killing everybody, both Muslims and Christians, everybody. What have they done? They have not done anything, these are innocent souls," he told The Associated Press.

Boko Haram's attacks have been concentrated in its stronghold in the northeast of the country but it has spread its attacks to the capital this year and increased the tempo and deadliness of attacks concentrated around bombings in cities and a scorched-earth policy in rural villages in the northeast.

Boko Haram attracted international condemnation for the April mass abductions of more than 200

schoolgirls who remain captive, and is blamed for this week's kidnappings of another 90 people.


Related stories: Video - Bomb blast in the capital Abuja, Nigeria - At least 21 confirmed dead

Video - Bomb blast in Abuja kills 71

Bomb blast at World Cup screening in Northern Nigeria - 21 confirmed dead

Nigeria Super Eagles refuse to train due to unpaid FIFA World Cup 2014 appearance fees

The Nigeria squad at the World Cup have missed a scheduled training session in a row over bonus money.

BBC Sport understands the players believe they are each $15,000 (£8,800) short of what they were expecting for reaching the last 16 in Brazil.

They refused to train in Campinas on Thursday and officials later confirmed the session had been cancelled.
Nigeria are scheduled to play France in the knockout stages on Monday having finished as runners-up in Group F.

BBC Sport has learned the problem lies in the interpretation of the bonus structure, with the players believing they will only receive $10,000 for their win 1-0 over Bosnia-Hercegovina and $5,000 for the 0-0 draw with Iran.

The players' understanding was they would receive a $30,000 payment for qualifying from the group.
However, it is believed the Nigerian Football Federation's offer to the players includes the agreed win and draw bonuses plus 30% of the prize money due from Fifa for reaching the knockout stage.

This is understood to rise to 40% of the prize money from Fifa if Nigeria were to win their round of 16 match, 50% for a quarter-final victory, 60% for a win in the semi-final stage and 70% for lifting the trophy.

While all parties work to find a resolution to the misunderstanding, coach Stephen Keshi has insisted it will not affect the team's performance.

And it has been confirmed to the BBC that the players will travel to Brasilia on Friday as scheduled and will train in the evening and over the weekend.

It is not the first time the Super Eagles have made a stance over money - last year they arrived late for the Confederations Cup in Brazil.


Related stories: Video - FIFA World Cup 2014 Team Profle: Nigeria Super Eagles

Nigerian coach Stephen Keshi says "Messi is from Jupiter" after Super Eagles 3-2 defeat by Argentina in 2014 FIFA World Cup

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Nigerian government denies second mass kidnapping by Boko Haram

Nigeria's government on Wednesday denied claims that Boko Haram militants abducted 60 women and children from the country's restive northeast, saying there was no evidence despite eyewitness testimony.

Government spokesman Mike Omeri told a news conference in Abuja that there was "nothing on the ground to prove any act of abduction, as reported".

A local government official in the Damboa district of Borno, a vigilante leader and an area senator on Monday all said the women and girls, some as young as three, were taken during a raid on Kummabza village in the last week.

Nigeria's military initially did not confirm or deny the abduction and Borno governor Kashim Shettima on Monday ordered an urgent probe, highlighting a recent reported abduction of at least 20 nomadic women from the same area.

Shettima said he was cautious because of subsequent counter-claims that the women had in fact moved elsewhere in the state as part of migration patterns among ethnic Fulani cattle breeders.

Omeri claimed that Shettima had established "that there were no sufficient facts on the alleged abduction", adding: "We hereby wish to state that based on available facts before us there was no abduction of 60 persons in Borno state."

Residents from Kummabza and the surrounding villages attacked over three days from last Thursday, however, said they could not understand the denial.

"This is happening. I can't understand why they would say that. It has been confirmed," one man, who asked for his name to be withheld, told AFP.

Establishing facts on the ground is notoriously difficult in northeast Nigeria, which has been hard hit by five years of violence at the hands of the heavily armed militant group.

Mobile phone networks have been downed and there are few functioning landlines, while travel between towns and villages is fraught with the danger of attack. Often news of attacks takes days to emerge.

Independent corroboration of claims is also hard to come by, with the police and security services also unable to move freely because of dangerous conditions.

Nigeria's government was heavily criticised for its slow response to the mass abduction by Boko Haram militants of more than 200 schoolgirls from the town of Chibok, also in Borno, on April 14, that triggered global outrage.

The military claimed in the days after the kidnapping that most of the girls had escaped, while President Goodluck Jonathan's wife, Patience, alleged that the abduction was a fabrication by her husband's political rivals to smear him.

The military's claim was soon retracted.

Police in Borno said that 276 girls were kidnapped and that 53 escaped in the days following the attack. On May 28, the authorities said that four more girls than previously thought had escaped, leaving 219 still held hostage.

The figures were confirmed in a report submitted to the government by a presidential fact-finding committee this week.


Related stories: Boko Haram kidnap 60 more girls and 31 boys

Video - Search continues for the 200 kidnapped schoolgirls

Nigerian coach Stephen Keshi says "Messi is from Jupiter" after Super Eagles 3-2 defeat by Argentina in 2014 FIFA World Cup

Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi said Lionel Messi "is from Jupiter" after the Argentina forward scored twice in their 3-2 win over the African nation.
The 27-year-old scored a half-volley and a free-kick as Argentina recorded a third win to finish top of Group F."Messi is one of heck of a player. He's blessed. You can't take it away from him," said Keshi, whose Nigeria side still qualified despite the defeat.
"There are good calibre players in the team but Messi is from Jupiter."

Keshi, whose team advanced to the last 16 of the World Cup after Iran lost to Bosnia-Hercegovina, added: "I feel honoured and happy it's going our way, I want to thank the players and the fans and some of the media."

Messi is now joint top scorer at the 2014 tournament with four goals, alongside Brazil's Neymar. Prior to Brazil 2014, he had scored just once in eight World Cup matches.
The Barcelona star paid tribute to Nigeria, who equalised twice through Ahmed Musa before Marcos Roja scored a second-half winner for the two-time champions.

"We played against a team that wanted to play," Messi said. "I think we saw a good Argentina. We need to continue on this path."

Messi had previously only scored one World Cup goal in 571 minutes, but former England striker Gary Lineker believes he is now comparable to Argentine compatriot Diego Maradona.
Maradona inspired Argentina to their 1986 World Cup triumph, scoring twice to eliminate Lineker and his England team-mates in the quarter-finals.

"I don't think since Maradona we've seen anyone quite like Messi on the field," said the Match of the Day presenter.

"They're very similar players in many ways: both have that mercurial left foot, balance, precision, the ability to beat players very easily and make the game look simple.

"And he scores goals as well. Diego was an unbelievable player, certainly the best of my generation, and he was unbelievably creative, he could do all those sort of things, but he wasn't as prolific as Messi is, he didn't score quite as many goals."

The South American side will now play Switzerland in the last 16, while Nigeria will face France.
"As we advance we start improving our structure, in general I saw improvement today," said Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella.
"We've got nine points, but we can always get better."


Related story: Nigeria progresses to 2nd stage of the FIFA 2014 World Cup

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Video - Bomb blast in the capital Abuja, Nigeria - At least 21 confirmed dead

An explosion has struck a busy shopping district in Nigeria's capital, Abuja, killing at least 21 people.

The explosion was in the capital's Wuse district, near the popular Banex plaza shopping complex, and could be heard from miles away.

It is not yet clear what was behind the explosion, however police say they are securing a "crime scene".

Islamist militant group Boko Haram has bombed targets across northern Nigeria in recent years.

"After a preliminary investigation we can confirm that 21 people were killed and 17 injured," police spokesman Frank Mba told reporters.

'Covered in blood'

Chiamaka Oham, who was near the site of the blast, told the BBC: "We heard a really loud noise and the building shook, and people started screaming and running out.

"We saw the smoke and people covered in blood. It was just chaos."

Eyewitnesses at the scene described seeing body parts scattered across the area.

The area was packed with shoppers at the time of the blast, the BBC's Hausa service editor Mansur Liman reports.

Many cars outside the shopping complex were burnt out and many windows were shattered, he adds.

One man told the BBC his driver was killed in the blast: "I was in the complex when I saw that the ground was shaking. I saw my driver dead and a lot of casualties."

Manzo Ezekiel, spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency, told AFP news agency: "You can see smoke billowing from the sky. It's a very crowded place."

Police spokesman Frank Mba said he could not provide details of the nature or extent of the damage.

"Our most important assignment now is to secure lives, secure the crime scene and actually carry out preliminary investigations," he added.

Boko Haram has staged previous attacks in Abuja, but most of its targets have been in the north-east of the country.

In April, more than 70 people were killed in a bomb blast at a bus stop on the outskirts of the capital in an attack claimed by Boko Haram.

The group also said it was behind a car bomb attack near a bus station in the suburbs in May, which killed at least 19 people and injured 60 others.

The group also carried out a deadly car bomb attack on the United Nations building in the Nigerian capital in 2011.

It has become a source of growing international concern since the recent abduction of more than 200 girls from a school in northern Nigeria.


Related stories: Video - Bomb blast in Abuja kills 71

Bomb blast at World Cup screening in Northern Nigeria - 21 confirmed dead

Nigeria progresses to 2nd stage of the FIFA 2014 World Cup

The World Cup Group F final between Argentina and Nigeria finishes with Argentina winning 3-2.  The duel between the much-storied Lionel Messi and the relatively little-ballyhooed Vincent Enyeama created an immensely captivating match.

The World Cup exploits of Messi, FC Barcelona’s wunderkind, have been much publicized. His second-half goals in both of Argentina’s previous wins have been praised widely, especially his injury-time strike to beat Iran 1-0 on Saturday.

But with Nigeria scoring one goal in its two previous matches, Enyeama likewise has been carrying the Super Eagles, the only team yet to concede a goal at the World Cup.

The 31-year-old goalkeeper, who plays for Lille in France, reportedly is drawing interest from Arsenal and Sunderland.

Neither Messi nor Argentina needs to duel with Nigeria. They’ve already clinched their place in the last 16 with six points, and need merely a draw to finish atop the group. That would get Argentina a second-round match against the runner-up from Group E, the France-Ecuador-Switzerland-Honduras group.

Nigeria, however, is in a precarious situation. With four points, it sits three ahead of Iran, which plays pointless and eliminated Bosnia-Herzegovina in a simultaneous match.

A draw would get it through without having to worry about the Bosnia-Iran result. But a Nigeria loss and an Iran win could send the “Princes of Persia” through. It will all depend on goal difference, or possibly goals scored. Nigeria has a plus-1 goal difference, Iran a minus-1.

Nigeria has scored once, Iran not at all. A 1-0 victory by Iran and a 1-0 loss by Nigeria would leave them equal – and require the drawing of lots. (The only other tie-breaking criteria after goals scored have to do with head-to-head, and Iran and Nigeria drew 0-0.)

A 2-1 win by Iran combined with a 1-0 loss by Nigeria would send the Iranians through. But a 1-0 win by Iran joined with a 2-1 loss by Nigeria favors the Africans. Of course, Iran has won only one game in 11 tries at the World Cup, in 1998 against the United States.

And for a really interesting scenario, consider this: If Iran prevails and finishes second in Group F, and the United States beats Germany to win Group G, the teams would be one step away (i.e. the quarterfinals) from a rematch of “The Mother of all Games.”

Wall Street Journal

Related stories: Video - FIFA World Cup 2014 Team Profle: Nigeria Super Eagles

Nigeria Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi says Africa can with the World Cup

In Northern Nigeria - man sent to mental institute for being atheist

A Nigerian man has been sent to a mental institute in Kano state after he declared that he did not believe in God, according to a humanist charity.

Mubarak Bala, 29, is said to have been forcibly medicated by his Muslim relatives, despite being given a clean bill of health by a doctor.

The International Humanist and Ethical Union say a Lagos-based group has asked a lawyer to take up his case.

Kano is a mainly Muslim state and adopted Sharia (Islamic law) in 2000.

The IHEU says that when Mr Bala told relatives he did not believe in God, they asked a doctor if he was mentally ill.

Despite being told that he was not unwell, Mr Bala's family then went to a second doctor, who declared that his atheism was a side-effect of suffering a personality change, the group says.

Mr Bala, a chemical engineering graduate, was forcibly committed to a mental institution, but was able to contact activists using a smuggled phone.

IHEU spokesman Bob Churchill said the group was concerned about his "deteriorating condition" and called for his "swift release".


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Boko Haram kidnap 60 more girls and 31 boys

Islamic extremists have abducted 60 more girls and women and 31 boys from villages in northeast Nigeria, witnesses said Tuesday.

Security forces denied the kidnappings. Nigeria’s government and military have attracted widespread criticism for their slow response to the abductions of more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped April 15.

There was no way to safely and independently confirm the report from Kummabza, 150 kilometres (95 miles) from Maiduguri, capital of Borno state and headquarters of a military state of emergency that has failed to curtail near-daily attacks by Boko Haram fighters.

Kummabza resident Aji Khalil said Tuesday the abductions took place Saturday in an attack in which four villagers were killed. Khalil is a member of one of the vigilante groups that have had some success in repelling Boko Haram attacks with primitive weapons.

A senior local councillor from the village’s Damboa local government told The Associated Press that abductions had occurred but requested anonymity because he was not authorized to give information to reporters. He said elderly survivors of the attack had walked some 25 kilometres (15 miles) to the relative safety of other villages.

The Damboa council secretary, Modu Mustapha, said he could not confirm or deny the abductions and directed a reporter to the council chairman, Alamin Mohammed, who did not answer phone calls or respond to text messages.

Boko Haram has been demanding the release of detained members in exchange for its hostages but President Goodluck Jonathan has said he will not consider a swap.

A strategy to rescue the girls appears to have reached an impasse. Nigeria’s military has said it knows where they are but fears their abductors would kill them if any military action is taken.

Politics have bedeviled the issue, with many distracted by upcoming presidential elections in February 2015. The first lady, Patience Jonathan, and some other supporters have claimed the reports of the April abductions of the schoolgirls were fabricated to discredit her husband’s administration.

Last week, a presidential committee investigating the kidnappings stressed that they did in fact happen and clarified the number of students who have been kidnapped. It said there were 395 students at the school, 119 escaped during the siege of the school, another 57 escaped in the first couple of days of their abduction, leaving 219 unaccounted for.

This year, the Boko Haram insurgents have embarked on a two-pronged strategy — bombing in cities and a scorched-earth policy in rural areas where they are devastating villages. Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, the central city of Jos and the northeastern state capital of Maiduguri, the birthplace of Boko Haram, all have been bombed.

On Monday, an explosion at a medical college in the northern city of Kano killed at least eight people and wounded 12, police said. It was the third bomb blast in four months in Kano, Nigeria’s second city.

Also on Saturday, the same day as the latest abductions, scores of Boko Haram fighters attacked four other villages, near Chibok town from which the girls were kidnapped. Witnesses said at least 33 villagers were killed as well as six vigilantes and about two dozen Boko Haram fighters.


Related stories: Boko Haram kidnap 20 women

Video - Search continues for the 200 kidnapped schoolgirls

Monday, June 23, 2014

Video - Classmates of kidnapped schoolgirls worry about their abducted friends

It's been 69 days since Boko Harm abducted more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls. Despite a worldwide outcry, the majority of them are still missing. For those left behind, it's a daily struggle to
continue with their lives. Al Jazeera's Andrew Simmons spoke to some of the girls who escaped that night in April.

Related stories: Increasing possiblilty that kidnapped schoolgirls may never be rescued

Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo says some of the 200 abducted schoolgirls may never be found

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Nigeria beat Bosnia 1-0 in FIFA 2014 World Cup

Nigeria beat Bosnia 1-0 on Saturday to record their first World Cup finals victory since 1998 and condemn the European team to an early exit in their first appearance at the tournament.

Peter Odemwingie's 29th-minute goal lifted the African champions to four points from two games, two less than Argentina who they meet in their final Group F match on Wednesday with top spot at stake.

"It's been 16 years and no wins for our country so we are very excited," Odemwingie said in a television interview.

"We needed the win. They have some fantastic players so we are happy to bounce back after what our people thought was a poor performance in the first game (a 0-0 draw with Iran).

"Victories affect people in different ways so we are looking up now and if we get into the second round anything can happen. Maybe we will be inspired as we were in the last African Nations Cup."

Nigeria took the lead when Odemwingie fed Emmanuel Emenike on the right wing and raced into the box to receive the striker's low return before sweeping the ball under goalkeeper Asmir Begovic.

The Bosnian bench angrily protested that Emenike had fouled captain Emir Spahic as he bundled past him into the box before making his cross.

The tournament newcomers had earlier been denied a goal after a poor offside decision against striker Edin Dzeko after he ran on to a through pass and beat goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama in the 21st minute.

Dzeko had another shot saved by Enyeama but he was well off target with chances later in the half as he fought a lonely battle with the Nigeria defence.

The more experienced Nigerians, playing in their fifth World Cup, created several chances in the first half but were let down by the final pass, poor control or wayward shooting and a couple of smart diving saves by Begovic.

The Bosnia keeper, a team mate of Odemwingie's at Premier League club Stoke City, made a string of saves, denying Emenike and midfielder Ogenyi Onazi to keep his side in the match in a second half of end-to-end excitement.

Dzeko nearly stole an equaliser for Bosnia, his shot in a goalmouth melee hitting Enyeama's legs and coming back into play off the post deep into stoppage time.

Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi was rewarded for his adventurous tactics while Safet Susic packed his midfield as he had done in the 2-1 defeat by Argentina and only sent on a second striker in Vedad Ibisevic, whose best headed effort went over the bar, for the last half hour.

Just before the Nigerian goal, Enyeama had parried a shot from midfielder Miralem Pjanic and the ball rebounded into the middle of the box but no Bosnian player was following up to take advantage.


Friday, June 20, 2014

Nigeria to extradite suspected Boko Haram terrorist from Sudan

The extradition process of Aminu Ogwuche, the suspected mastermind of the bus station bombings in the capital city of Abuja that killed over 70 and injured many others, would be completed soon, an official said on Wednesday.

The Sudanese Ambassador to Nigeria Tagelsir Ali told reporters in Abuja, the West African country’s capital city that both Sudan and Nigeria had similar standards guiding an extradition process.

Ogwuche was arrested in Sudan in May following the joint efforts of the Nigerian Army, Department of State Services, the National Bureau of Interpol based at the Nigerian Police Force Headquarters, and the Sudanese security operatives.

According to him, there is an agreement between Sudan and Nigeria, adding that it was supposed to be revisited in the last bilateral meeting that took place in Khartoum.

The envoy said the extradition treaties always got a sequence of procedures that has to be taken care of, about 17 or 18 procedures that have to be dealt with before a person can go back to his or her country.

Ali acknowledged that the extradition process was delayed at the initial stage.

He gave the assurance that the authorities involved in the process were working hard to ensure that the requirements for the repatriation of Ogwuche were fully met.

He also noted that both parties shared cooperation in the areas of security adding that the head of security here in Nigeria is scheduled to visit the head of security in Sudan.

He said both countries shared similar experiences and expressed the willingness of the Sudanese Government to assist where necessary.

Nigeria’s Boko Haram sect has claimed responsibility for the deadly explosion at a crowded bus station in Abuja that killed at least 75 people.

Abubakar Shekau, leader of Boko Haram which has been responsible for major killings in Nigeria since 2009, said in a video message that the network was behind the bomb attack in Abuja.

Proved to be the biggest security challenge in the West African country, Boko Haram seeks to enshrine the Islamic Sharia law into the constitution and declared war against Western education.


Related story: Bomb blast at World Cup screening in Northern Nigeria - 21 confirmed dead

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Money laundering charges against Sani Abacha's son withdrawn

General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN, yesterday, withdrew the money laundering charge preferred against the eldest son of the late military dictator, Mohammed Abacha.

Mohammed was accused of concealing the sum of N446.3 billion allegedly stolen from the national treasury between 1995 and 1998.

He was said to have received the stolen money from his late father, General Sani Abacha, and hid same. On two different occasions, Mohammed failed to appear before the court to enter his plea to the charge.

The accused person, on April 10, told the court that he could not take his plea because he was not duly served with a copy of the charge and proof of evidence against him, a situation that led to the adjournment of the matter.

On April 29 when the case came up for arraignment, Mohammed also failed to appear before the court on the ground of ill-health, though his lawyer begged the court to adjourn the case for two weeks to enable him attend his trial.

At the resumed sitting yesterday, the prosecutor, Mr. D.C Enwelum, told the court that the AGF directed him to withdraw the charge.

"I have been instructed by the Attorney General of the Federation to withdraw the charges as currently filed before this court.

"My Lord, he said there are fresh facts/documents available to him that would necessitate the termination of this proceeding.

"In the circumstance, he instructed me to file a notice of withdrawal without prejudice to future cause of action that may be taken by his office. I humbly apply to withdraw the charges accordingly," Enwelum added.

He, therefore, urged the court to okay the notice of withdrawal,dated June 17.

Sequel to a 'no objection' stance by Mohammed's lawyer, Mr. Abdullahi Haruna who further prayed the court to discharge his client, Justice Valentine Ashi, struck out the charge.

Specifically, government had alleged that Mohammed "dishonestly received stolen property and voluntarily assisted in concealing money."

The federal government had maintained that the charge which was withdrawn yesterday, replaced an earlier 121 criminal counts, in which Mohammed was sued alongside his alleged accomplice, Atiku Bagudu.

Besides, the government had in the subsequent charge, excluded Bagudu from trial with an indication that he was among those billed to testify against Mohammed.

According to the withdrawn charge marked CR 21-24/2008, the stolen money allegedly received by Mohammed, included 141,100,000 pound sterling and 384,353,000 US dollars, made up of cash and travellers cheques.

In count one, Mohammed was alleged to have between August and December 1995 at Abuja, dishonestly received $36,480,000.00 made up of cash and travellers cheques property of the Federal Government, believed to have been stolen.

Count two alleged that Mohammed, between August and December 1995 at Abuja, voluntarily assisted in concealing $57,960,000.00 believed to have been stolen from the Federal Government.

Moreso, Mohammed was in count three alleged to have between October and December 1996 at Abuja, dishonestly received $26,913,500.00 believed to have been stolen from the Federal Government.

The prosecution alleged in count four that Mohammed, within the same time, voluntarily assisted in concealing $26,913,500.00 allegedly stolen from the Federal Government.

In count five, he was alleged to have sometime in June 1997 in Abuja dishonestly received $10,000,000.00 believed to have been stolen from the Federal Government. He was, in count six, said to have, between February and December 1997 dishonestly received $87,000,000 and 41,143,000 pound sterling believed to have been stolen from the Federal government.

The federal government also accused him of dishonestly receiving, between January and August 1998, $167,000,000 and 99,957,000 pound sterling.

This Day

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Liechtenstein returning loot from dead Nigerian President Sani Abacha worth €167m

Liechtenstein’s government has agreed to return to Nigeria €167m linked to the late General Sani Abacha, ending the country’s longest running battle to recover money that the late military dictator laundered through European banks.

Nigeria first requested Liechtenstein’s assistance in recovering the assets in 2000, two years after Abacha’s sudden death at the age of 54 paved the way for the return of civilian rule.

But the recovery effort has been hampered by lawsuits taken out by companies linked to the Abacha family – as it has in other legal jurisdictions.

Liechtenstein’s constitutional court dismissed a final appeal over the return of the funds in March 2013, but the principality still refused to release the money, infuriating Nigerian officials.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s minister of economy and finance, late last year accused Liechtenstein of “aiding and abetting corruption” by refusing to accept Nigeria’s guarantees that it would pay compensation if any liabilities resulted from a last-ditch effort by Abacha-linked companies to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

Officials in the principality feared they could be open to compensation claims from the Abacha-linked companies if it was shown they had not had a fair hearing.

But on Tuesday a statement by the principality said: “In May 2014, the complaint pending in Strasbourg was withdrawn by the four Abacha companies, clearing the path for repatriation of the assets once and for all.”

Abacha was the penultimate and most brutal of Nigeria’s military rulers. He and what Switzerland’s Supreme Court dubbed the “Abacha family criminal enterprise” amassed a fortune estimated at $3bn-$5bn from misappropriation of public funds during his 1993-1998 rule.

In a bizarre twist on Tuesday, the Nigerian government dropped embezzlement charges against Mohamed Abacha, the late dictator’s eldest son saying there had been new developments in the case.

Mohamed Abacha was accused of receiving N100bn ($600m) of the late dictator’s money, and has fought off various attempts to charge him over the years.

Enrico Monfrini, a Swiss lawyer working with the Nigerian government, has traced $2.4bn of assets linked to Abacha, most of which were channelled through European banks.

Criminal investigations and subsequent forfeiture proceedings established that the Lichtenstein funds originated from bribes paid by Germany’s Ferrostaal AG to companies whose ultimate beneficiary was Abacha. They related to a grossly inflated contract for the construction of an aluminium smelter.

So far, Nigeria has recovered $1.3bn, the largest tranche of which – $500m – came from Switzerland in 2005. A further $1.1bn – in France, the UK, Luxembourg and the Channel island of Jersey – is still tied up in legal proceedings. The US in March froze more than $458m linked to Abacha in Jersey and France.

Nigeria has engaged the World Bank’s Stolen Asset Recovery unit (Star), which was set up by Mrs Okonjo Iweala when she was at the bank, to ensure that the funds recovered from Liechtenstein are used properly – as it has done with other recovered assets.

While the Abacha funds are being recovered belatedly, fresh allegations of grand scale corruption have emerged in Nigeria this year.

The government of President Goodluck Jonathan has hired PwC to carry out a forensic audit of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation in response to allegations by Lamido Sanusi, the former central bank governor, that the state oil company failed to remit as much as $20bn in revenues due to the treasury between 2012 and 2013.

Financial Times

Related story: Switzerland returns Sani Abacha's loot

Bomb blast at World Cup screening in Northern Nigeria - 21 confirmed dead

At least 21 people have been killed in a bomb blast in northern Nigeria as they were watching a World Cup match, a hospital source has told the BBC.

Witnesses in Damaturu, in Yobe state, say a suicide bomber in a tricycle taxi detonated explosives as people watched Brazil's match against Mexico on TV.

At least 27 people are said to have been seriously injured.

Public screenings of the World Cup in some parts of Nigeria have been banned because of threats by Boko Haram.

Three states, including Yobe, are under a government-imposed state of emergency following years of attacks.

No group has said it was behind the latest blast.

The local police chief has told the BBC that the attack happened outside a shop with a television, where people had gathered to watch the game.

He said it was not a viewing centre where Nigerians often watch football matches, as these have been banned in the state.

Other sources say it was a viewing centre which was attacked.

While the police say 13 people died, the hospital worker told the BBC he had personally counted 21 bodies.

Correspondents say Nigeria's authorities often downplay the number of casualties.

In another development, the authorities say a senior Boko Haram militant was among almost 500 northerners arrested as they travelled to Nigeria's oil hub of Port Harcourt earlier this week.

The authorities did not name the suspect. Relatives of those arrested say they had no links to Boko Haram and had gone to southern Nigeria for economic reasons.

The Damaturu hospital worker said truckloads of injured people were being treated in overcrowded wards after the explosion on Tuesday evening.

"The military and police trucks that brought them in have made four return trips so far ferrying them in," the worker said.

"Every single truck was full of the injured. And all of them are young men or children."

The worker said that the injuries suffered by people caught up in the blast were "horrific".

Damaturu resident Mohammed Kurkure Yobe told the BBC that the venue where the attack took place was very popular and often crowded with people watching big events.

'Football un-Islamic'
Open-air viewing centres - where people pay to watch live football - are popular throughout Nigeria. Boko Haram has described football as un-Islamic.

On 1 June at least 14 people were killed in a bomb attack on a bar in Adamawa that was screening a televised football match. No group claimed responsibility for the blast.

In March, many people were also killed in explosions while watching football in a video hall in Borno's Maiduguri town. On both occasions, Boko Haram was blamed for the blasts.

Boko Haram - which means "Western education is forbidden" in the Hausa language - wants to overthrow the government and create an Islamic state.

The group captured international attention in April after it abducted more than 200 girls in Chibok in Borno state.

The states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa have been under a state of emergency since May 2013. Thousands have died in the north-east since Boko Haram launched an insurgency in 2009.


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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

PayPal coming to Nigeria

PayPal is entering 10 new countries this week, including Nigeria, providing online payment alternatives for consumers via mobile phones or PCs in markets often blighted by financial fraud.

Rupert Keeley, the executive in charge of the EMEA region of PayPal, the payments unit of eBay Inc, said in an interview on Monday the expansion would bring the number of countries it serves to 203.

Starting on Tuesday, consumers in Nigeria, which has 60 million users and has Africa's largest population, along with nine other markets in sub-Saharan Africa, Eastern Europe and Latin America will be able to make payments through PayPal.

"PayPal has been going through a period of reinvention, refreshing many of its services to make them easier to use on mobile (phones), allowing us to expand into fast-developing markets," Keeley said.

Once the services go live, customers in the 10 countries with access to the Web and a bank card authorized for Internet transactions will be able to register for a PayPal account and make payments to millions of sites worldwide.

Initially, PayPal is only offering "send money" services for consumers to pay for goods and services at PayPal-enabled merchant sites while safeguarding their financial details. This is free to consumers and covered by fees it charges merchants.

"We think we can give our sellers selling into this market a great deal of reassurance," said Keeley, a former regional banking executive with Standard Chartered Plc and senior executive with payment card company Visa Inc.

PayPal does not yet cover peer-to-peer transactions, which allow consumers to send money to other consumers. It has not yet enabled local merchants in the new markets to receive payments, nor is it offering other forms of banking services, he said.

A 2013 survey of 200 UK ecommerce sites by Visa's CyberSource unit estimated that 1.26 percent of online orders are fraudulent and that 85 percent of merchants expected fraud to increase or remain static last year.

CyberSource also estimated that suspicion of fraudulent transactions result in 8.2 percent of online orders in Latin America being rejected by merchants, compared with 5.5 percent in Europe and 2.7 percent in the United States and Canada.

Such fraud can include ID theft, social engineering, phishing and automated harvesting of customer financial data via botnets, or networks of computers controlled by hackers.

A total of 80 million Internet users stand to gain access to PayPal global services this week, including those in five European markets - Belarus, Macedonia, Moldova, Monaco and Montenegro, four in the African nations of Nigeria, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, and Zimbabwe, as well as Paraguay. Internet usage figures are based on research by Euromonitor International.

PayPal counts 148 million active accounts worldwide.

Last week, MasterCard Inc, the world's second-largest debit and credit card company, and a PayPal rival in payment processing, said it was working with the Nigerian government on a pilot to overlay payment technology on a new national identity card.

PayPal has operated in 190 markets since 2007 and added three countries - Egypt, Georgia and Serbia last year. Roughly a quarter of the $52 billion in payment volumes PayPal reported in the first quarter of 2014 were for cross-border transactions. PayPal reported $1.8 billion in revenue during the period.


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Monday, June 16, 2014

Nigeria draw with Iran 0-0 in FIFA World Cup 2014

Nigeria and Iran delivered the first draw of the World Cup on Monday as they ground out a scrappy 0-0 stalemate in their opening match in Group F.

The draw at the Arena da Baixada in the southern Brazilian city of Curitiba followed 12 mostly high scoring and attacking games.

After a first half in which Nigeria failed to capitalize on its dominance, chances were few and far between in the second.

In the early passages of play, Nigeria had shown menace, with much of its attacking thrust coming down the left with Emmanuel Emenike and Victor Moses combining to cause problems for the defensively-minded Iran side.

Nigeria came closest to scoring in the seventh minute when an Ahmed Musa goal was disallowed after John Obi Mikel was adjudged to have fouled Iran goalkeeper Alireza Haghighi at a corner.

Iran grew more confident as the game progressed and came close to scoring in the 34th when a Reza Ghoochannejhad header required a sharp save from Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama.

In the second half, both sides were guilty of sloppy passages of play, to the growing annoyance of the mainly Brazilian crowd. Players from both sides snatched at chances, and neither goalkeeper was troubled despite some frantic late pressure in the final minutes.

''They had 11 people behind the ball, which made it hard for us to create chances,'' Mikel said. ''It's frustrating because they sat back.''

Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi said his team became anxious when it failed to score during a dominant opening 25 minutes.

But he added: ''Respect to Iran, they had their game plan to sit back and defend and they did well.''

Keshi, who played for Nigeria at the 1994 World Cup, is already anticipating a backlash after the draw.

''Win or lose I'm criticized,'' said Keshi, whose side won last year's Africa Cup of Nations. ''A draw now, I'll be criticized. It's part of the game. In my country, it's win at all costs and sometimes it doesn't go that way.''

The best chance either side has to progress in the tournament is to beat debutant Bosnia-Herzegovina, as Argentina is the firm favorite to top the group. Lionel Messi scored one of the tournament's best goals in Argentina's 2-1 victory over the Bosnians on Sunday.

Iran coach Carlos Queiroz said the result was ''fair'' and that his players deserved ''sympathy and respect'' for performing on the biggest stage despite the impact of economic sanctions on the country - which made it difficult to arrange friendlies.

''We're not here to perform the role of the happy loser,'' Queiroz said. ''The fans need to know the conditions we have endured for three years to get here.''

Queiroz wouldn't talk about the team's next game against Argentina.

''Now I'm so tired just let me enjoy this point we collected from Nigeria,'' he said.

The draw means the winless World Cup runs of both teams continues, dating back to France 1998. For Iran, though, this was the first time it had not conceded a goal at the World Cup finals.


Related story: Nigeria Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi says Africa can with the World Cup

Video - Insight on Nigeria's TV show clone of Biggest Loser called Fastest Shedder

A recent report on obesity had said 62 percent of overweight people in the world are found in developing countries. Even though Nigeria did feature among African countries with high cases of obesity, the country has its own fair share of people struggling with being overweight.

Nigeria Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi says Africa can with the World Cup

African sides are as good as any at the World Cup and one could end up winning it in Brazil, Nigerian coach Stephen Keshi said on Sunday ahead of his side's opening group game against outsiders Iran.

And if Nigeria were to get that far, against the current odds, expect at least one reporter to be running for cover.

"I will love it. I will kiss you all over," the former Nigeria captain turned 'Big Boss' assured a news conference at the Baixada arena, where his players kick off their campaign on Monday.

African champions Nigeria are one of five representatives from the continent competing in Brazil - the others are Algeria, Cameroon, Ghana and Ivory Coast - and face a tough task to get through a Group F that also includes Argentina and Bosnia.

However Keshi said their chances should not be under-estimated.
Asked how close he felt Africa was to winning the Cup for the first time, he did not hesitate: "Very close.

"Because they (the African sides) are good. As good as any other teams that are here. I think this tournament is an open tournament. We just have to do what we have to do," he continued.

Ghana's Black Stars were a penalty shootout away from becoming the first African side to reach the semi-finals at the last World Cup in South Africa in 2010 while Nigeria have twice previously reached the second round.

Cameroon made it to the quarter-finals in 1990 and Senegal in 2002.

"This team is growing, it's like a baby," Keshi said of his current crop of players, when asked to compare them with his class of World Cup debutants 20 years ago. "This team is just a year and a half-old. The team of 1994 was almost five or six years old.

"In 1994, the spirit was very high, we didn't care where the (opposing) team was coming from, we knew we are going to go out there and win the game. Here, we're building that, we try to bring the same spirit.

"Once we get the spirit, trust me, it's going to be two times as strong as 1994."

One of two African coaches at the finals, the other being Ghana's Kwasi Appiah, Keshi said it was time the continent nurtured home-grown managerial talent.

"We haven't been given enough chances or opportunity or time to show what we can do," said the coach, who qualified Togo for the 2006 finals only to be ousted before the tournament.

"The biggest problem is that once you do the dirty job of getting the team qualified as an African coach, when you come to the big stage that's when they think that you're not experienced and they need a European coach to come in."

When Nigeria competed at the 1994 tournament in the United States, the coach was Dutchman Clemens Westerhof. In 1998, it was the turn of Serbian Bora Milutinovic after Frenchman Philippe Troussier had secured qualification.

"I think this is wrong," said Keshi. "A lot of African seasoned coaches that are there and can make Africans proud are not being given opportunities to do so."


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Increasing possiblilty that kidnapped schoolgirls may never be rescued

It's now been two months since terrorist group Boko Haram kidnapped more than 200 Nigerian school girls in the country's unstable north.

Despite new aerial patrols from U.S. drones, no progress has been made in locating them. This past week, former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo said some of the girls may never return home. And ordinary Nigerians are accusing the Nigerian government of trying to stifle their pleas to keep the situation top of mind.

In an op-ed on Project Syndicate, former British PM Gordon Brown goes a step further, discussing the gruesome reason for why the campaign may have already been lost: is likely that in the month since Boko Haram released a video of the girls flanked by gunmen, the girls have been split into groups of 40-50. If one group is rescued by force, the others will be murdered, creating a serious tactical dilemma for the Nigerian government’s special forces.

And, as the world’s attention shifts to other global trouble spots, such as Iraq, intense international scrutiny is giving way to what seems like silent acceptance of the girls’ fate. The fight to maintain global support has become an uphill one for Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, despite his direct appeal to the whole world for help in securing the girls’ release.

A Times of India report says the Nigerian government has now turned to the Sri Lankan government for advice in counteracting the movement, given the latter's experience defeating the Tamil Tigers. That campaign resulted in tens of thousands of civilian casualties. So it seems like whatever , the price for doing so may be extreme.

Written Rob Wile

Business Insider

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Friday, June 13, 2014

Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo says some of the 200 abducted schoolgirls may never be found

Nigeria's former President Olusegun Obasanjo warned Friday that half of the over 200 abducted Nigerian school girls may never be found, in comments that will surely raise fears among the parents and guardians of the girls.

“It’s inconceivable to get all of them back. If you get all of them back, I will consider it a near-miracle. Do you think they will hold all of them together up till now? The logistics for them to do that, holding over 200 girls together, is too much,” Obasanjo told the local Premium Times newspaper.

It was the most pessimistic comments made on the chances of the girls being rescued safely since their abduction exactly two months ago Friday (13June).

PANA reports that an international coalition that includes the US, UK and Israel is working with Nigeria to find and rescue the girls, but there has yet been no breakthrough.

The terror group Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for the abduction and vowed to release them only in exchange for their members who are being detained by the government nationwide.

But there are fears that the girls may have been scattered and taken outside Nigeria, which will make it difficult to get all of them released.

Obasanjo, who said the best option now is to negotiate with the abductors, also disclosed that he is willing to reach out to the Boko Haram leadership through a channel he had established, but would only do so if given the go ahead by President Goodluck Jonathan.

“If they (government) agree to negotiate then we can begin to talk with them (Boko Hara),” he said. “Nobody can do anything alone. You cannot do it alone, it is not a one man mission, it’s not even a two-man mission. It’s a collective mission. It can even be an international mission,” he said.


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Thursday, June 12, 2014

World Cup opening ceremony uses wrong flag for Nigeria

The opening ceremony organizers displayed the wrong flag while announcing Nigeria on Thursday. Instead of Nigeria's flag, it projected an image of Niger's flag onto the globe at midfield during the ceremony.

Twitter user Cameron Laws pointed out the blunder.

Nigeria's flag features three vertical stripes, with a white stripe sandwiched between two green stripes.

Niger's flag features three horizontal stripes. The top stripe is orange, sitting above a white stripe and a green stripe. There is an orange circle in the middle of the white stripe.

The neighboring African nations share a 450-mile border and maintain friendly relations. Nigeria is currently ranked No. 44 in FIFA rankings. Niger is ranked No. 112 and did not qualify for the World Cup.

This isn't the first time the wrong flag has been displayed during a major sporting event. In the 2012 London Olympics, a women's soccer match between North Korea and Colombia was delayed because the organizers showed the South Korean flag while introducing the North Korean team, and the players refused to take the field.


Related story: Video - FIFA World Cup 2014 Team Profle: Nigeria Super Eagles

Northern Nigeria police warn football fans - World Cup screening venues possible targets for Boko Haram

The authorities in Northern Nigeria are warning soccer fans that venues showing live coverage of the World Cup starting today may be targets of bomb attacks.

Police spokesman Frank Mba urged people “to exercise a lot of caution” and said in a statement yesterday that the security agencies will step up surveillance around viewing centers such as outdoor bars. The government has been battling militants loyal to Islamist group Boko Haram for the past five years.

A suspected suicide bomber killed three people on May 24 when his explosives detonated while he was driving toward a viewing site for the European Champions League soccer match between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid in the central Nigerian city of Jos.

During the 2010 World Cup, the al-Qaeda-linked militia based in Somalia, al-Shabaab, killed more than 70 people in twin bombings in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, at venues where crowds had gathered to watch the final on television.

Soldiers have closed venues preparing to screen World Cup matches in the northeastern Nigerian state of Adamawa to protect people from potential attacks, Ahmad Sajoh, a spokesman for the state governor, said yesterday. Adamawa has been under a state of emergency since May last year.

“Terrorists have previously targeted places where football matches are being viewed,” Britain’s Foreign Office said in its most recent travel advisory, issued on June 10.

Suicide Bombers

“Most suicide bombers are strangers in areas they are trying to attack and that is the reason why most often they ask questions about directions, especially if they are the ones driving themselves to the scene,” Mba said.

The World Cup kicks off at 9:00 p.m. Nigerian time today when host Brazil plays Croatia.

Boko Haram’s April 14 kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls from the town of Chibok, 386 miles (622 kilometers) to the northeast of the capital, Abuja, sparked international outrage and prompted the U.S. and the U.K. to send help to Nigeria to rescue them.

“Boko Haram remains primarily focused on delegitimizing the Nigerian government and terrorizing the Nigerian population, Muslims and Christians alike,” a U.S. State Department official, who wasn’t authorized to speak on the record, said on June 9.

Suspected Islamist militants abducted 20 women from near Chibok on June 8. Ethnic Fulani herders received a ransom demand of 40 head of cattle for each of those women, a local vigilante group leader said.


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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Video - FIFA World Cup 2014 Team Profle: Nigeria Super Eagles

Featuring interviews with John Obi Mikel, Victor Moses and coach Stephen Keshi, this preview examines what to expect from the African champions in Group F against Iran, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Argentina and looks at Nigeria's FIFA World Cup history.

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Aljazeera profiles Nigeria Super Eagles ahead of FIFA World Cup 2014

Players to watch

Ogenyi Onaze. The 21-year-old midfielder who plies his trade with Lazio in Italy’s Serie A just can’t stay out of the headlines. One minute he’s narrowly surviving a Boko Haram bombing in Jos; the next he finds himself used – unknowingly – by a Nigerian sports agent who was caught on videotape boasting that he could fix World Cup matches.

In between all of that, he’s a critical source of strength at the base of Nigeria’s midfield. While striker Emmanuel Emenike is on most pundits' cards as the man most likely to provide the goals up front, keep an eye on Peter Osaze Odemwingie. The Tashkent-born son of a Nigerian father and Russian mother has been recalled after 18 months in the wilderness, and the Stoke striker remains a prolific scorer at the age of 32.

Greatest moment

The Super Eagles marked their World Cup debut in 1994 with an emphatic 3-0 drubbing of Bulgaria, lost narrowly to Argentina and then beat Greece to make the round of 16 where they were agonizingly bested by Italy after extra time.

Conventional wisdom

Beset by corruption and mismanagement, Nigerian football endured a long slump following its mid-'90s heyday – a slump that arguably continues even though the Super Eagles won last year’s African Cup of Nations. The squad heads to the World Cup with few standout players, and coach Stephen Keshi at odds with the Nigerian Football Association. Still, with Iran and Bosnia to beat for second place in Group F behind Argentina, they should make it at least as far as the Group of 16, but no further.

Unconventional wisdom

The squad have won the African Cup of Nations, and enjoy a measure of stability under coach Stephen Keshi, himself a player in 1994. Their round-of-16 opponent would likely be France, against whom they may get lucky. If so, though, they’re unlikely to get past Germany in the quarterfinal.

Did you know?

Boko Haram, notorious kidnappers of hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls and perpetrators of dozens of attacks on civilians, sees soccer as part of the Western influence they’re trying to violently eliminate. In recent weeks, they’ve killed dozens of Nigerians in attacks on crowds watching soccer games, and Nigerians gathering in public places to watch World Cup broadcasts in areas where the group is active do so under the shadow of Boko Haram’s violent objections.


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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Nigeria Super Eagles touch down in Brazil for FIFA World Cup

Two more teams arrived in Brazil on Tuesday with Belgium and Nigeria touching down at Sao Paulo International Airport, ahead of the 20th FIFA World Cup™.

The Belgium squad travelled to Jaguariuna, in the state of Sao Paulo, where they will train at Paradise Golf & Lake Resort Team Base Camp for the matches against Algeria (17 June), Russia (22 June) and Korea Republic (26 June).

Nigeria will travel to Campinas to start their preparation to face Iran (16 June), Bosnia-Herzegovina (21 June) and Argentina (25 June) at Estadio Brinco de Ouro da Princesa Team Base Camp.

Following the arrival of USA, Ecuador, France, Argentina, Uruguay and Honduras, Costa Rica was the seventh team to arrive on Monday.

At Sao Paulo International Airport, coach Jorge Luis Pinto said that his team has great expectations for the FIFA World Cup.

“We are very happy to be here in Brazil,” he said. “All the players, the coaching staff, the national football federation and the whole country believe we can do great things in the FIFA World Cup.”


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Nigeria draw with Scotland 2-2 in international football friendly

Protests as former central bank governor Lamido Sanusi made Emir of Kano

Hundreds of youths protested on Monday against a decision to appoint Nigeria's former central bank governor as the country's second-highest Islamic authority.

Sunday's state government decision to make Lamido Sanusi the Emir of Kano, one of the most influential positions in the largely Muslim north, surprised many who had expected the job to pass from father to son as a sign of stability when the north faces an Islamist insurgency.

Sanusi, an outspoken critic of the government's record on corruption, became the Emir two days after the death of his great uncle, the last emir.

Protesters backing the late emir's oldest son, Lamido Ado Bayero, chanted "Ba ma son", or "We don't want" in the Hausa language, and "Kariya ne", meaning "It's a lie", near the emir's palace in Kano, the north's main city, witnesses told Reuters.

Sanusi was popular among international investors for his inflation-fighting policies. But his past clashes with the government could make him a more divisive figure on the local stage than his predecessor, who largely stayed out of politics.

"They are really wild and angry with the state governor about the choice of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi as the emir ... They stopped our vehicle and insisted that we must put tree branches on it as solidarity with their protest," said tailor Alhaji Adamu Scorer.

The crowd tore up pictures of the governor Rabiu Kwankwaso, who with the state authorities made the final decision to appoint Sanusi, and attacked anyone they thought had supported the decision, he added.

There is no automatic father-to-son succession for the position which has few formal constitutional powers but has significant influence over the region's Muslims. Candidates, who are shortlisted by a panel of "kingmakers", have to come from leading families.

Sanusi was suspended from his post at the bank in February by President Goodluck Jonathan after presenting parliament with evidence that the state oil firm Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had failed to pay $20 billion into federal coffers.

NNPC has repeatedly denied Sanusi's allegations, which brought him into conflict with Jonathan's administration a year before national elections.

The administration of Jonathan, a southern Christian, denied any link between Sanusi's removal and his allegations and went on to accuse the central bank of procurement irregularities during his tenure. He has dismissed those charges.


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Former minister of information Dora Akunyili passes away

Prof. (Mrs.) Dora Nkem Akunyili, former Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and former minister of Information, is dead.

She was aged 59.

According to a family source, Isaac Umunna, Media Advisor to Prof. Dora Akunyili confirmed that Akunyili died in an India Hospital where she has been receiving treatment for an undisclosed ailment.

Also former governor of Anambra, Mr Peter Obi, on Saturday confirmed the death of the former minister, on behalf of the Akunyili family.

According to Obi,” On behalf of the Akunyili’s family, I wish to officially confirm the death of Prof. Mrs Dora Akunyili in a Specialist Cancer Hospital in Indian this morning at 10 am, Nigerian Time, after a two-year battle with cancer.

“In spite her illness, she was unwavering in her belief in a better Nigeria. That was why she defied her condition and was part of Anambra State Handover Committee and the National Conference.

“The last time I visited her in India, even when she needed all the prayers herself, she was full of concern for Chibok girls, security and other challenges facing the country and told me that she remained prayerful for the release of those girls and for God to help President Goodluck Jonathan to overcome all the challenges facing the Nation. She therefore urged all Nigerians to remain prayerful and committed to building a better society for our children. We all prayed together and I promised to be visiting her every month.

“We thank all those who remain fervent in prayers for her recovery and urge them to remain prayerful for the peaceful repose of her soul.”

About DORA

Prof. Dora Nkem Akunyili (OFR) was born in Makurdi, Benue State (Nigeria) on the 14th of July 1954 to Chief & Mrs Paul Young Edemobi. She is a devout Catholic and is happily married to Dr. J.C. Akunyili, a Medical Practitioner and they are blessed with six children and three grandchildren. Her hobbies include reading, writing, cooking and travelling. She speaks Igbo and English fluently.

Prof. Akunyili, is an internationally renowned Pharmacist, Pharmacologist, Erudite Scholar, Seasoned
Administrator, and a visionary leader.

She has served her country in numerous strategic positions including as Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and Federal Minister of Information and Communication.

Prof. Akunyili’s educational career started with her passing the First School Leaving Certificate with Distinction in 1966, and the West African School Certificate (W.A.S.C.) with Grade I Distinction in 1973 (both in Nigeria), which earned her the Eastern Nigerian Government Post Primary Scholarship and the Federal Government of Nigeria Undergraduate Scholarship respectively. It is remarkable that throughout her high school career, Dora Akunyili was always top of her class – a record that has never been broken in the school to date.

She got her B.Pharm (Hons) in 1978 and PhD in 1985, both at the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN). Prof. Akunyili won the best student award in the school of Pharmacy in her very first year in the school and the Vice Chancellor’s Postgraduate and Research Leadership prize in Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences for 1984/85 and 1985/86 academic Sessions.

She was promoted to the rank of Professor of Pharmacology in October, 2000 by the same University.

Prof. Akunyili started her working career as a Hospital Pharmacist in the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH) Enugu in 1978. In 1981, she ventured into Academics as a Graduate Assistant (Research Fellow) in the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, UNN. In the University system, she made a steady progress from lecturer I in 1986 until she was made Senior Lecturer in 1990.

In 1992 she transferred to the College of Medicine, UNN and became a Consultant Pharmacologist in 1996. She also worked as a part time lecturer at the West African College of Pharmacists, Lagos, Nigeria from 1992-1995.

She was appointed Supervisory Councilor for Agriculture in Anaocha Local Government of Anambra State, Nigeria from 1994 – 1996. Prof. Dora Akunyili was appointed Zonal Secretary of Petroleum Special Trust Fund (PTF), where she coordinated all projects in the five South Eastern States of Nigeria from 1997 – 2000.

Prof. Dora Akunyili was appointed Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Nigeria from April 2001-2008. Here she recorded outstanding success. Prior to her appointment, food and drug regulation in Nigeria was chaotic.

All manner of adulterated, fake and substandard food and drugs were dumped into Nigeria resulting in over 60 percent of fake drugs in circulation. Unscrupulous individuals made fortunes from such unwholesome practices. When she assumed office, she brought in a new culture of excellence and honesty to NAFDAC and the entire Nigerian public service. As a result, the level of fake and counterfeit drugs in circulation dropped to 16.7 percent with vast improvement in the food and other regulated sectors.

As a commentator in a national newspaper once wrote, “The NAFDAC Director General is a revolutionary. She has not only changed NAFDAC, she has also changed the pharmaceutical industry in the country.”

From December 2008 – December 2010, she worked as the Honourable Minister of Information and Communications, Federal Republic of Nigeria. As the Honourable Minister, Prof. Akunyili anchored the Re-branding Nigeria Project driven by the slogan, Nigeria Good People, Great Nation. The programme was conceived as an internal process to address Nigeria’s negative image both at home and abroad. Dora has proved her versatility in all areas of human endeavour as she also ventured into politics when she aspired to serve her own people in Anambra State as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

As a Scientist and a Scholar, she has presented over 600 papers delivered in various Local and International Conferences, published 4 books and written scientific articles published in 37 local and international journals. She also supervised PhD and Masters candidates.

Prof. Akunyili has held several positions of responsibility in Nigeria as a professional in the course of her career. She served in six Senate Committees and various Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences Committees of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka from 1986 –1992.

From 1992 to 1994, Prof. Akunyili served as a member of Anambra State Hospitals Management Board and State Advisory Council for Women Commission. She has also served the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (P.S.N.) in various capacities, notably as the National Vice President of Association of Lady Pharmacists (1992-1995) and President of the Enugu State Branch from 1992-1998.

Internationally, as Director General of NAFDAC, Prof. Akunyili was appointed Chairman of West African Drug Regulatory Agencies Network (WADRAN) in March 2006 and as Vice Chairman of the International Medical Products Anti-Counterfeiting Task Force (IMPACT) in November 2006.

She is a Post Doctorate Fellow of University of London, Fellow of the West African Post Graduate College of Pharmacists, Fellow of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) and member of other learned societies, a few of which are New York Academy of Science, International Narcotics Control Board, United States Pharmacopeia (USP) Expert Committee, Association for African Medicinal Plant Standards (AAMPS), Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), and International Council for Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders (ICCIDD).

For her industry and commitment to the values of honesty, transparency and selfless service, Prof. Akunyili has received over six hundred Awards and Recognitions locally and internationally, notably among which are: –

Conferment with the National Order of the Federal Republic (OFR) and Recognition as an Icon of Hope for Nigerians by President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo(2002); Person of the Year 2005 Award by Silverbird Communications (2006); Nigeria’s Five Greatest Living Legends Award by Silverbird Group and Vanguard Media (Dec. 2009); Recognition as Nigerian Woman of Distinction during the Nigeria @50 Independence Anniversary Celebration (Sept. 2010); and as Minister of the Year 2010 by Nigeria Royalty Award (Dec. 2010). Integrity Award by Transparency International in South Korea (2003); Honoured as one of the 18 heroes (Health) of our time by TIME Magazine, New York (2005); Grassroots Human Rights Campaigner Award by Human Rights Defence Organization (International Service) in British House of Commons (2005); Special Award for Combating Economic Crime by International Chamber of Commerce-Commercial Crime Services London (2004); Amazon of Integrity by National Council of Women Society (2004); Pharmacist of the Year Medal Award by International Pharmaceutical Federation, FIP (2005); Honourary Degree of Doctor of Laws by University of Bristol, London (2006); Honorary Georgia Citizen by The State of Georgia, USA (2006); Agribusiness, International Euro Market and Transbusiness Awards respectively for 2003, 2005 and 2006 by European Marketing Research Centre (EMRC), Brussels; Elected Honourary Member of The Royal Pharmaceutical Society Of Great Britain, London, by The Royal Pharmaceutical Society Of Great Britain, London (2008); Conferred with the prestigious Harmony Tribute Award by Planet Africa Television Canada (2010).


Related story: Dora Akunyili honoured in U.S.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Boko Haram kidnap 20 women

Suspected Boko Haram gunmen have reportedly kidnapped 20 women from a nomadic settlement in northeast Nigeria near the town of Chibok, where the Islamic militants abducted more than 300 schoolgirls and young women on April 15.

Alhaji Tar, a member of the vigilante groups set up to resist Boko Haram’s attacks, said the men arrived at noon Thursday in the Garkin Fulani settlement and forced the women to enter their vehicles at gunpoint. He says they drove away to an unknown location in the remote stretch of Borno state.

Tar said the group also took three young men who tried to stop the kidnapping.

“We tried to go after them when the news got to us about three hours later, but the vehicles we have could not go far, and the report came to us a little bit late,” he said.

In another incident, the Defence Headquarters said Monday that troops prevented raids by Boko Haram this weekend on villages in Borno and neighbouring Adamawa state. Soldiers killed more than 50 militants on Saturday night as they were on their way to attack communities, defence spokesman Chris Oluklade said in an e-mailed statement.

The Nigerian military has come under rising criticism from Nigerians who say they’re not protected by the security forces, left to fend off attacks by Boko Haram on their own.

Boko Haram, which wants to establish Islamic state in Nigeria, has been taking over villages in the northeast, killing and terrorizing civilians and political leaders. Thousands of people have been killed in the five-year-old insurgency, more than 2,000 people have been killed so far this year, and an estimated 750,000 Nigerians have been driven from their homes.

In recent weeks, the extremists have used a two-pronged strategy and widened their theatre of operation beyond the remote northeast of the country. The group has bombed bus stations and marketplaces in three cities, killing about 250 people, and they are staging daily attacks on northeast villages, killing 20 people one day, and 50 another.

In one incident last week, the militants reportedly killed hundreds of civilians in three villages in the Gwoza local government. Residents said they had requested the military sends troops to protect the area after hearing Boko Haram militants were about to attack, but they said help never came.

The extremists abducted more than 300 girls from the Chibok Government Girls School on April 15, according to the police. Chibok community leader Pogu Bitrus says 57 girls escaped, leaving an estimated 272 still held captive.

The Globe and Mail

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Friday, June 6, 2014

Lupita Nyong'o to star in movie adaptation of Chimamanda Adichie's best selling book Americanah

Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o is to star in and produce an adaptation of Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's acclaimed novel Americanah.

It will be made by Brad Pitt's company Plan B, producers of 12 Years a Slave - which won Nyong'o an Oscar in February.

Americanah centres on two Nigerians who fall in love, but find themselves separated by immigration issues.

In a statement, Nyong'o said it was an "honour to bring Ms Adichie's brilliant book to the screen".

Americanah, which follows lovers Ifemelu and Obinze, won the prestigious US National Book Critics Circle Award in 2013.

It was selected as one of the 10 best books of the year by the New York Times Book Review, the BBC and Newsday.

It was also on the shortlist for this week's Baileys Prize for Women's Fiction in the UK, but lost out to Eimear McBride's A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing.

"Page after page I was struck by Ifemelu and Obinze's stories, whose experiences as African immigrants are so specific and also so imminently relatable," said Nyong'o.

"It is a thrilling challenge to tell a truly international story so full of love, humour and heart."

Adichie's award-winning novels include Purple Hibiscus and Half of a Yellow Sun, which was recently made into a film starring Thandie Newton and 12 Years a Slave star Chiwetel Ejiofor.

Nyong'o became an overnight star with her performance in 12 Years a Slave, winning this year's best supporting actress Academy Award.

Earlier this week, it was announced that she was to join the cast of the latest Star Wars film.


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

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

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Nigerian military generals court-martialed for aiding Boko Haram

The government of Nigeria has court-martialed 15 members of the Nigerian military accusing them of supplying intelligence and weaponry to Boko Haram, severely weakening Nigeria's ability to cope with the growing threat Boko Haram presents.

According to the Nigerian news organization Leadership, 10 generals and five other officers of varying rank were found guilty. Some of the guilty parties may appeal to the overall military structure in Abuja after being found guilty on a divisional level.

One source told Leadership some of the information shared with Boko Haram resulted in deadly ambushes that cost the lives of Nigerian soldiers.

The courts-martial seem to lend credence to previous claims that members of the military were aiding Boko Haram. Nigerian leadership previously mentioned such allegations, and The Associated Press reports that even President Goodluck Jonathan has made similar accusations.

News of the courts-martial comes at the same time the Nigerian government has announced that it will no longer tolerate demonstrations organized under the banner of #BringBackOurGirls, according to both the AP and Leadership.

The police commissioner in the Nigerian capital of Abuja claims the protests have gotten away from their original goals and now pose a serious security threat to the Nigerian state, according to the AP.

This is not the first time the government has tried to silence dissent associated with #BringBackOurGirls. Thugs and the police have broken up such rallies throughout the capital. Government resistance to the protests has grown so great that the First Lady of Nigeria even had one of the principal organizers of #BringBackOurGirls temporarily arrested.

The more than 200 girls at the center of all this activity have been missing for more than a month. The Nigerian military seems no closer to finding them despite military aid from the United States, China, Israel, and the United Kingdom.

Daily Zone

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