Friday, February 27, 2015

Video - The mass unemployed in Nigeria

Goodluck Jonathan says he'll create two million jobs if he's re-elected as President of Nigeria.

But the low price of oil, which is the bedrock of their economy, may impact those plans.

Around a quarter of Nigerians of working age are currently unemployed.

Amongst the youth, the figure is much higher, at more than 50 percent. 

Suicide bombings in Jos and Biu kill 35 people

At least 35 people ‎were killed on Thursday in two attacks in the northeast Nigerian town of Biu and central Nigerian city of Jos, according to residents and the military.

In the first attack, a suicide bomber detonated his explosives at Tashar Gandu bus station on the outskirts of the town of Biu in northeast Nigerian Borno state, killing 18 people and injuring six others.

A second bomber was mobbed and killed before he could detonate his explosives at the scene of the carnage, residents and local vigilantes said.

"We have received 18 dead bodies ‎from the scene of the suicide explosion along with six injured victims," said a nurse at the Biu General Hospital who asked not to be named to protect her safety.

"The two men came to the bus station‎ around 2:55 p.m. pretending to be traders intending to take a bus back to their village and one of them detonated his explosives among a group of passengers waiting to board a bus," local vigilante Ahmad Girema said.

"He killed 18 people, including three women. His accomplice was, however, restrained by the crowd around before he could pull the trigger ... and (he was) beaten to death‎," Girema said.

His account was supported by Laminu Kolo, a driver at the bus ‎station.

An angry mob later doused the body of the failed bomber with gasoline and set it alight from a distance, causing the unexploded devices on him to explode, Kolo said.

Hours later, 17 people were killed in the central city of Jos when explosives were thrown on two crowds from a moving car.

"There were twin explosions along Bauchi Road this evening, which killed 1‎7 people and injured some others," said Iweaha Ikedichi, military spokesman in the city.

Ikedichi declined to provide details of the incident.

However, witnesses said two ‎explosives were thrown at an open-air bus station along Bauchi Road, killing five people and injuring several others.

"There was a heavy downpour today and soon after the rains stopped‎, a car drove along the road and two explosives were thrown at the motor park, which killed five people," said Sagir Badaru, a driver at the Bauchi Road bus station.

"The car threw another explosive in the midst of grocers outside the main bus station some hundreds of meters away, killing 12 people and wounding many," Badaru said.

Although no one has claimed responsibility for the attacks, Boko Haram Islamists, who have carried out deadly bombings in Biu and Jos, are the prime suspects.

The Islamists are believed to be behind a recent spate of suicide bombings and attacks in parts of the north in response to a sweeping offensive on Boko Haram strongholds in northeast Nigeria by a regional alliance of troops from Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Video - Printing business capitalizing on upcoming presidential elections in Nigeria

The business boom for printers in Nigeria continues, given the postponement of the country's elections to the 28th of March. Demand for posters, banners and t-shirts from politicians, so far, remains strong. In the south of the country, the printing industry is very, very busy.

Chinese construction worker kidnapped in Nasarawa, Nigeria

Gunmen on Tuesday kidnapped a Chinese National, Chui Fu Long, the police in Nasarawa State have said.

Mr. Long works with a construction company in Toto Local Government Area of Nasarawa State.

The state police spokesperson, Ismaila Numan, said that security agencies have commenced a search and rescue mission to ensure the release of the Chinese.

Mr. Numan explained that officers of Command are ensuring that the culprits are apprehended and the expatriate released as soon as possible.

He appealed to members of the public to avail the police any information that will lead to immediate release of the kidnapped man.

PREMIUM TIMES gathered that about seven gunmen stormed the Adadu construction site at about 4:30 p.m. shooting sporadically in the air before kidnapping the expatriate.

Premium Times

Related story: American missionary kidnapped in Kogi, Nigeria

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Video - Nigerian army takes back Baga territory from Boko Haram

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan says the military is gaining the upper hand against Boko Haram, despite two bombings in the country's north that killed at least 27. Goodluck, who has been criticised for his inability to end the six-year insurgency, described the attacks as the "callous bombing of soft targets".

American missionary kidnapped in Kogi, Nigeria

An American missionary in Nigeria has been kidnapped in what authorities call a "purely criminal" act.

Kogi state Police Commissioner Adeyemi Ogunjemilusi says five men kidnapped the woman from her workplace and are demanding a ransom of 60 million Naira ($301,500).

The Free Methodist Church has identified the woman as the Rev. Phyllis Sortor, a missionary based at the Hope Academy compound in Kogi state.

Kogi state is located away from the areas where Boko Haram operates, making it likely that the kidnapping is not related to terrorism. But there is also the possibility that an offshoot group could have kidnapped Sortor, or that she might be sold to another group. Police have not said if they suspect a certain group or band of criminals.

Sortor was kidnapped on Monday, Ogunjemilusi said.

The U.S. Embassy in Nigeria and the FBI have been notified of the incident, the Free Methodist Church said.

Sortor runs a nongovernmental organization that educates nomadic Fulani children, the police commissioner said.

According to her biography on the church's website, Sortor is the financial administrator of Hope Academy.

"A special friendship with a clan of nomadic Fulani has given Phyllis the opportunity to open additional schools for Fulani children and their parents," the website says.

The commissioner said five men scaled the wall of the school where Sortor's office is and "whisked her away," jumping back over the wall and fleeing to the nearby mountains.

Two of the men were masked, and they fired shots into the air to scare people away during the kidnapping, Ogunjemilusi said.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Video - Nigeria raises import tax on imported cars

The Nigerian government has introduced a tax of up to 70 percent on new and used imported cars. It hopes the decision will help local car manufacturers. However, many worry it will hurt the used car industry. Al Jazeera's Ahmed Idris reports from Kaduna.

Suicide bomber kills more than a dozen at bus station in North Eastern Nigeria

A suicide bomb attack has killed more than a dozen people at a crowded bus station in Potiskum, north-eastern Nigeria.

A witness told the BBC that a bomber tried to board a bus as transport officials were loading it.

Hospital sources say 13 corpses have been taken to the town's mortuary and more than 30 people have been injured.

It is the second attack on Potiskum in recent days. Both have been blamed on the militant group Boko Haram.

The Kano-bound bus was completely destroyed and other vehicles at the Dan-Borno bus station were also affected in Tuesday's explosion.

Although no group has claimed responsibility for the latest attack, Boko Haram has stepped up suicide bombings against civilians in recent months.

On Sunday, a young girl with explosives strapped to her killed five people and wounded dozens at a security checkpoint outside a market in Potiskum.

Boko Haram now controls vast swathes of north-east Nigeria and has displaced over 1.5 million people.

The mounting threat of the Islamist insurgency has already led to postponement of February's presidential elections, with the vote now due to take place on 28 March.

The delay is designed to give the Nigerian military time to re-establish its presence in the area. However, opponents of President Goodluck Jonathan have claimed that the delay is actually a political tactic.

The group is under increased pressure from the Nigerian troops as well as those of Chad, Niger, and Cameroon.


Monday, February 23, 2015

Suicide bomb attack by young girl leaves 5 dead in North Eastern Nigeria

A girl suicide bomber as young as 7 blew herself up at a busy market in the northeastern Nigerian town of Potiskum on Sunday, killing four others and seriously wounding 46 people, a witness and hospital records show.

The girl who appeared no more than 10 years old got out of a tricycle taxi in front of the cellphone market and detonated her explosives on Potiskum’s main market day, according to survivor Anazumi Saleh, who suffered injuries to his head.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but the attack bears all the signs of similar bombings by Boko Haram and raises fears that Nigeria’s home-grown Islamic extremists are using kidnap victims as bombers.

Meanwhile, a new group releasing propaganda for Boko Haram denied a Ministry of Defence statement that troops Friday seized back the border garrison town of Baga.

It comes amid reports that military from Nigeria and neighbouring Chad are retaking towns and villages held for months by Boko Haram even as the extremists attack other northeastern communities. Scores of civilians have been killed in such attacks in recent days.

“Baga still is under the control of the mujahedeen and any claim by the regime that they took the city is their usual lie,” said a brief message posted on the Twitter account of Al-Urwa Al-Wuthqa, according to the SITE intelligence monitoring service.

The Associated Press was trying to verify the situation in Baga, a town on Lake Chad and the border with Cameroon where the extremists are accused of killing hundreds of people in a January attack after Nigerian troops fled.

The government hopes the military will be able to reclaim enough territory to allowpresidential elections March 28, which Boko Haram is threatening to disrupt.

The vote looks like it will be the most closely contested in the history of Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and its biggest oil producer. Boko Haram has warned it will disrupt the elections by attacking polling stations and denounced democracy as a corrupt Western concept.

The Star

Friday, February 20, 2015

Video - Nigeria prepares for presidential elections

Nigerians were due to vote this week – but plans have changed. Citing security concerns, the electoral body has postponed the elections until 28 March – a move welcomed by the ruling party but taken with contention by many onlookers. Was the postponement warranted? And will it make a difference?

Related story: Video - Nigeria presidential campaign on social media

158 kidnapped women and children freed from Boko Haram in Nigeria

A group of 158 women and children abducted by Boko Haram militants in north-eastern Nigeria in December have been reunited with their families.

They were kidnapped during a raid on Katarko village in Yobe state and spent about a month in captivity.

The circumstances of their release are unclear but they were eventually handed over to the state authorities for counselling and rehabilitation.

Officials said the reunion in the state capital, Damaturu, was jubilant.

In April last year, the Islamist insurgents caused worldwide outrage when they kidnapped more than 200 girls from a boarding school in Chibok in Borno state, which borders Yobe.

The schoolgirls have yet to be rescued despite military assistance from countries such as China, France, the UK and the US.

'Very happy'

Of the 158 people reunited with their families, 62 were married women and the rest were children, Musa Idi Jidawa, the secretary of Yobe's State Emergency Management Agency (Sema), told the BBC.

He said husbands of 16 of the women had been killed by Boko Haram during the attack.

Muhammdu Katarko said he was very happy to see his two daughters at the reunion on Thursday.

"I had given up when they were kidnapped; my hope was to see even their dead bodies," he told the BBC Hausa service.

"But fortunately I have now seen them alive, health and hearty."

One of the abductees, who requested anonymity, told reporters in Damaturu that they were treated humanely by the militants.

She said the insurgents did not rape or abuse the women during their stay.

The BBC's Ishaq Khalid reporting from neighbouring Bauchi state says there were conflicting accounts about how the abductees gained their freedom.

Some reports suggested the insurgents released them voluntarily and took them to the outskirts of Damaturu, he says.

But Mr Jidawa said the militants had come under attack from the security forces and they had run away, leaving behind their captives.

The reunited families will stay in Damaturu until it is safe to return to their village, which is still occupied by Boko Haram fighters and is in an area where the military is carrying out operations.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Air Strike in Niger kills 37 civilians

Thirty-seven people have died in an air strike in southern Niger, local officials say.

They were attending a funeral ceremony in Abadam village on the border with Nigeria when an unidentified plane began dropping bombs.

The incident came as the Nigerian army said more than 300 militants were killed in nearby north-east Nigeria during operations targeting Boko Haram.

Two soldiers lost their lives and 10 more were wounded in Borno state.

Nigerian defence spokesman Chris Olukolade said that a number of Boko Haram fighters had been captured and weapons and equipment seized.

The number of militant deaths has not been independently verified.

'Three bombs'

A military official told AFP news agency that an air strike had hit a mosque in the village of Abadam.

The deputy mayor of Abadam, Ibrahim Ari, told the BBC that a plane had dropped three bombs. One struck a group of mourners sitting in front of the residence of a local chief.

He added that more than 20 people had been injured during the incident.

It is not yet clear who was responsible for the bombardment, but Nigeria has denied responsibility.

"It's not to my knowledge and there has not been any report from our people of such an incident," said Dele Alonge, a spokesman for Nigeria's air force.

'Desperate response'

Niger has been the target of bombings in the past, blamed on Boko Haram since it widened its brutal insurgency.

Thousands of civilians and soldiers have been killed during the group's campaign for a breakaway Islamic state.

Niger, Chad and Cameroon have recently formed a military coalition with Nigeria to help combat the threat.

Nigerian forces have been accused of overstating enemy casualties in the past.

But the two-day operation against militants in Borno State had inflicted "massive casualties", Mr Olukolade said.

He told the BBC he was not surprised Boko Haram was continuing to carry out attacks despite "heat" from coalition troops.

"What you see are elements of their desperate response to the ongoing onslaught on their various camps and locations.

"It is expected and it will be contained accordingly," he added.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Boko Haram says postponed Nigerian Presidential elections will not take place peacefully

Nigeria's presidential election on March 28 will not take place peacefully, AbuBakr Shekau, leader of Boko Haram, has said in a new video purportedly released by the group.

In the video, released on social media on Tuesday and obtained by US based SITE intelligence group, Shekau issued a warning to the Goodluck Jonathan's government that next month's elections would be disrupted with violence.

"Allah will not leave you to proceed with these elections even after us, because you are saying that authority is from people to people, which means that people should rule each other, but Allah says that the authority is only to him, only his rule is the one which applies on this land," he said.

"And finally we say that these elections that you are planning to do, will not happen in peace, even if that costs us our lives.

In the video message, titled "A message to the leaders of the disbelievers", the contents of which Al Jazeera has not been able to independently verify, Shekau also takes aim at the leadership of regional countries who are co-ordinating efforts against the group.

"You are claiming that we don't know how to fight, but we forced your forces to flee from their bases and we freed our imprisoned brothers from the prisons that you oppressed them in, only praise be to Allah."

Nigeria's presidential election was to be originally held on February 14, but was postponed due to security concerns.

Speaking before Shekau's threat, Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou vowed that his country would herald the end for the rebels, whose six-year insurgency has cost more than 13,000 lives.

Renewed attacks

"Niger will be the death of Boko Haram," he told a cheering crowd after a protest against the insurgents in the capital Niamey.

But Boko Haram has proved resilient and experts question whether the group can be overpowered in the short-term.

On Tuesday, two suicide attacks ripped through northeast Nigeria, killing at least 38 people and injuring 20 others.

In a separate development, the United States military said on Tuesday they would be providing communications equipment and intelligence to help African nations in the fight against Boko Haram.

Major General James Linder said that, as part of the annual US-backed 'Flintlock' counter-terrorism exercises this year in Chad, the United States would provide technology allowing African partners to communicate between cellphones, radios and computers.

The renewed attacks on Tuesday came as heads of states from Central African countries were ending a meeting in the Cameroonian capital, Yaounde, to plan the creation of a joint military response to the growing regional threat posed by Boko Haram.

The 10 member states announced that they had contributed more than 50 percent of the $100m needed to fight Boko Haram. They also called on Nigeria to cooperate by allowing the multinational joint task force to attack Boko Haram in its strongholds in Nigeria.

Boko Haram has fought a five-year insurgency, has recently begun stepping up its attacks against neighbouring countries after Cameroon, Niger, Chad and Benin agreed to contribute troops toward a regional military effort.

The violence has forced some 157,000 people to seek refuge in Niger, while 40,000 others have gone to Cameroon and 17,000 are in Chad, the UN said.

Almost one million Nigerians are internally displaced, according to the country's own statistics.


300 Boko Haram fighters killed by Nigerian army

More than 300 Boko Haram fighters have been killed in military operations in north-east Nigeria, the army says.

A number of militants had also been captured and weapons and equipment seized, defence spokesman Chris Olukolade said.

Two soldiers had lost their lives and 10 others were wounded during the operation over the last two days in Borno state, he added.

The deaths have not been independently verified.

Nigerian forces have been accused of overstating enemy casualties in the past.

Boko Haram attacks on civilians and the military have killed thousands since the group launched its violent campaign for a breakaway Islamic state in 2009.

Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger have recently formed a military coalition and have claimed gains against the group.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

FMR Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo quits ruling party PDP after criticising President Goodluck Jonathan

Nigeria's former President Olusegun Obasanjo has quit the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) ahead of the 28 March elections, tearing up his membership card in public.

Mr Obasanjo has been fiercely critical of President Goodluck Jonathan, who is seeking re-election on a PDP ticket.

Mr Jonathan is facing a strong challenge from opposition candidate Muhammadu Buhari.

The elections, due on 14 February, were postponed over security concerns.

BBC Nigeria analyst Ibrahim Shehu Adamu says Mr Obasanjo's decision is a major blow to the PDP, showing the divisions that have hit the party as it battles to extend its 15-year rule.'Serious embarrassment'

In a statement, the PDP described Mr Obasanjo as a "revered leader of our party" and said it was "deeply saddened" by his resignation.

It added that it was "bewildered" by the former president's choice to tear up his party membership card in public.

Mr Obasanjo, 77, was a founding member of the PDP and led the party to two resounding victories after military rule ended in 1999.

So, his decision to quit the PDP may knock the morale of some party activists and persuade undecided voters to back the opposition in the hard-fought presidential and parliamentary elections.

But Mr Obasanjo's move does not come as a complete surprise. His influence within the party has been declining for quite some time and he probably found it difficult to see President Jonathan - whom he once mentored - ignoring his advice.

More worrying for Nigerians will be the role of the military. There are growing suspicions that it is backing Mr Jonathan, raising doubts about its impartiality and the credibility of the elections.

Last week, Mr Obasanjo raised fears of a coup. Many Nigerians will be hoping that his fears are misplaced and that Nigeria holds a free and fair election in which the losing candidate gracefully accepts defeat.

The Nigerian military issued its own statement, calling Mr Obasanjo, a former military ruler as well as an elected president, "a serious embarrassment" after he criticised its role in the postponement of the elections.

Our correspondent says the military's statement has raised concern among many Nigerians that it is taking sides in a political dispute rather than remaining neutral.

Prior to tearing up his membership, Mr Obasanjo told local media outside his residence that he was expecting to be ejected from the party.

"They said they want to expel me from PDP, although I have not been told, but I have my ears on the ground," he said.

'Going for broke'

Mr Obasanjo said he would not be joining another party.

"I will only be a Nigerian, I'm ready to work with anybody regardless of political affiliation. Why would some people say they want to send me away, they don't need to bother themselves, here's your membership card, take it," he added.

Despite his pledge not to defect to another party, Mr Obasanjo has been vocal in his support for Mr Buhari, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), although he has fallen short of offering an outright endorsement.

Last week, Mr Obasanjo told London's Financial Times newspaper that he hoped the president was "not going for broke and saying: 'Either I have it or nobody has it'".

Mr Jonathan hit back at Mr Obasanjo, accusing him of threatening "national security" by whipping up opposition to his rule.

"It is very regrettable that in your letter, you seem to place sole responsibility for the ongoing intrigues and tensions in the PDP at my doorstep, and going on from that position, you direct all your appeals for a resolution at me," Mr Jonathan said.

Nigeria's election commission postponed the presidential and parliamentary election after the military said it would not be able to guarantee security at polling stations while it fought militant Islamist group Boko Haram in the north-east.

Mr Jonathan is contesting his second presidential election. His presidency has been marred by powerful PDP members defecting to the newly formed APC, fuelling speculation that he could be defeated in the election.

He has also been strongly criticised for failing to curb Boko Haram's insurgency.

Thousands of people have died as a result of the conflict over the past six years, while more than three million people have been forced from their homes.

The militants control a large stretch of land in north-eastern Nigeria and have stepped up attacks on neighbouring countries.


Monday, February 16, 2015

Video - Nigeria presidential campaign on social media

Nigeria's two main Presidential candidates are not only fighting for votes on the streets, they are doing so on social media as well.

Suicide bomber kills seven in Yobe, Nigeria

A female suicide bomber has killed at least seven people at a crowded bus station in north-eastern Nigeria.

Police say more than 30 others were wounded in the city of Damaturu, capital of Yobe State.

No group has said it carried out the bombing but the jihadist group Boko Haram has previously launched attacks in the city.

On Saturday, Boko Haram fighters tried to take over the regional capital of neighbouring Gombe state.

They were repelled by Nigerian troops backed by a fighter jet.

Marcos Danladi, police commissioner of Yobe State, said Sunday's attack took place at the Damaturu Central Motor Park.

According to reports, the female suicide bomber arrived in a vehicle and walked into a crowd outside a grocery store at the end of the terminal where she detonated her explosives.

Witness Adamu Muhammad said the bus station "descended into panic".

A shop owner told AFP news agency that an angry mob stopped emergency workers from retrieving the remains of the bomber and instead set them on fire.

Thousands of people have been killed and more than three million displaced by Boko Haram's insurgency.

The Islamist militants, who are fighting to create an Islamic state in north-eastern Nigeria, have become a regional threat.

In response, Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon have agreed to form a regional military force to combat the group.

Growing insecurity in the north-east led Nigeria to postpone elections due to be held on 14 February.

Correspondents say the insurgency has also cast doubt on the leadership of President Goodluck Jonathan, who is accused of not having done enough to contain it.


Friday, February 13, 2015

Video - President Goodluck Jonathan says Nigeria wasn't ready for elections

Nigeria's president Goodluck Jonathan has defended the 6-week delay imposed on the country's elections. He's denied pushing for the postponement and says Nigeria's election commission was just not ready to run the vote.

Seven confirmed dead from Boko Haram suicide bomber in North Eastern Nigeria

At least seven people have been killed by a female suicide bomber who blew herself up at a crowded market in northeast Nigeria, according to witnesses and officials.

The mid-afternoon attack on Thursday in Biu, 180km south of the Borno state capital Maiduguri, is the latest in a spate of similar attacks in the region.

This was the first bombing in the area, which came before a visit by the former governor to Biu, according to a witness who is a member of the Civilian Joint Task Force (JTF).

Biu is the biggest town in southern Borno, and Boko Haram fighters have made repeated attempts to bomb the market, which is open on Mondays and Thursdays.

The JTF was formed by residents to combat Boko Haram, the Nigerian armed group.

Boko Haram has been blamed for using women and young girls as human bombs as part of its deadly campaign to create an Islamic state in the country's far northeast.

A senior security source in Maiduguri confirmed the deadly suicide blast but had no immediate details on casualties.

But multiple witnesses and a nurse at the Biu general hospital said that at least seven people were killed by the explosion.

Al Jazeera

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Video - Nigeria to investigate reports of child rape and trafficking in refugee camps

Officials are investigating claims of widespread abuse in the camps set up for people who've fled Boko Haram. There've been allegations of rape and child-trafficking.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Video - Boko Haram leader releases video promising to take on African Union troops

Nigerian militant group Boko Haram has mocked plans by the African Union to send a regional force into north-east Nigeria. The group's released a video welcoming the AU force and vowing to seize the soldiers, one by one.

Related stories: Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau apparently alive - releases new video

Military of Nigeria confirm Boko Haram leader dead

Nigeria military pledges neutrality in Presidential campaign

Nigeria's military pledged not to get involved in party politics on Wednesday, after concerns grew about its role in pushing for the country's presidential election to be delayed by six weeks.

Defence spokesman Major-General Chris Olukolade noted "the palpable tension being generated ... with regards to the roles of the Nigerian military in the ongoing political activities and recent developments, especially in relation to electioneering."

"It is important to reassure Nigerians that the military will remain professional, apolitical and non-partisan in all operations ... related to (elections)," he said in a statement.

The military faced accusations of interference when chairman of the electoral commission Attahiru Jega revealed that the office of the National Security Advisor had written a letter to him saying that unless he delayed the Feb. 14 election, it could not guarantee his security.

It urged a six week delay to enable them to contain the Islamist Boko Haram insurgency.

There have also been reports in the local press that the military colluded with the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) to try to influence the election in Ekiti state in May, a claim the military has not directly commented on.

Nigeria's decision to delay the poll on the advice of security forces was a worrying echo for some of the annulment of 1993's democratic vote by a military government.

President Goodluck Jonathan's PDP had pushed for a delay, while his main opponent Muhammadu Buhari of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) had urged the vote go ahead on time, arguing that a six-year old insurgency was hardly going to be solved in six weeks.

But the PDP also argued that the commission was not ready because millions of voters had not picked up their ID cards.


Fmr President Olusegun Obasanjo says Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan's actions are inviting a military coup

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has raised fears that the political posturing of President Goodluck Jonathan – using the military to delay scheduled election – might invite a military coup on the country.

“The signs are not auspicious,” Mr. Obasanjo told the Financial Times in an interview in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital. “I don’t know whether a script is being played.”

“I sincerely hope that the president is not going for broke and saying ‘look dammit, it’s either I have it or nobody has it’. I hope that we will not have a coup . . . I hope we can avoid it.”

There have been concerns among opposition activists and civil society that Mr. Jonathan is excessively courting the armed forces and dragging them into politics.

National elections, earlier billed for February 14 and 28, were rescheduled for March 28 and April 11 following a “strong advisory” and a warning from the National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, and military chiefs that they could not guarantee security for the polls.

The opposition All Progressives Congress has accused the military of being used by the Jonathan administration to scuttle the election after it had earlier given a clear commitment to provide security for the elections just three days before making a volte-face.

Many Nigerians also expressed concern when the Nigerian Army addressed a press conference in January, saying it did not have the original certificates of Muhammadu Buhari, the APC presidential candidate Mr. Jonathan’s party is battling to disqualify from running.

And just recently, a leaked audio recording suggested that Mr. Jonathan ordered the military to rig last year’s Ekiti governorship election in favour of his party, the Peoples Democratic Party.In his interview with the Financial Times, Mr. Obasanjo said the military, especially the army, is in bad shape and had not been properly led.

“It’s a question of leadership — political and military,” Mr. Obasanjo said. “I think you need to ask [Mr Jonathan] how has he let [the army] go to this extent . . . Many things went wrong: recruitment went wrong; training went wrong; morale went down; motivation not there; corruption was deeply ingrained; welfare was bad.”

There are suggestions Mr. Jonathan would prefer to hand over to the military rather than Mr. Buhari if he loses the coming presidential election, but there is so far no clear-cut evidence to suggest that, although the APC has repeatedly alleged that the president’s party is in cahoot with the military to rig the coming election.

In the interview published Tuesday, Mr. Obasanjo, a card-carrying member of the PDP, openly endorsed opposition candidate, Mr. Buhari, saying he is best for Nigeria at this time.

The APC candidate is a former military head of state, who ruled Nigeria between December 1983 and August 1985.

“The circumstances [Mr. Buhari] will be working under if he wins the election are different from the one he worked under before, where he was both the executive and the legislature — he knows that,” Mr. Obasanjo said. “He’s smart enough. He’s educated enough. He’s experienced enough. Why shouldn’t I support him?”

Mr. Obasanjo has repeatedly accused Mr. Jonathan of deepening corruption in Nigeria and mismanaging public funds.

Speaking about the financial crisis facing the country as a result of the crash in crude oil prices, Mr. Obasanjo sees some positives in the development.

“There’ll be less in the pot, for stealing or corruption,” the paper quoted him as saying.

Premium Times

Alleged abuse in refugee camps for Nigerians displaced due to Boko Haram violence

Nigeria is to investigate reports of rapes, child trafficking and other abuses in camps for people fleeing from the militant Islamist group Boko Haram.

The country's National Emergency Management Agency (Nema) has formed a panel to investigate the abuses.

A spokesperson for Nema told the BBC that investigators would visit every camp for displaced people.

Approximately 3.2 million Nigerians have fled their homes to escape Boko Haram's insurgency in the northeast.

Nema's investigation is a response to a report published by Nigeria's Calabar-based International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR).'Grievous' abuses

The report, written by freelance journalist Charles Dickson, alleges that hundreds of young girls have been trafficked from internally displaced persons (IDP) camps.

Many victims were from unregistered, makeshift camps established when official camps could no longer cope, the report says.

It quotes an unnamed nurse as saying many children were brought to her hospital after being raped in the IDP camps.

It also alleges refugees are being sold as unpaid domestic workers, raped repeatedly, and in some cases burned and wounded with knives.

A spokesperson for Nema told the BBC that the allegations were "very grievous".

Ezikial Manzo said that the report published by the ICIR was the first Nema had heard of abuses at the camps and that its panel would "do everything in their power" to investigate.

Mr Manzo said that representatives from the ICIR had been invited to join the investigators as they toured the camps. He was not able to say how many camps there are, as many have been set up unofficially to cope with the millions of refugees.

Nigeria's Independent National Electoral Commission estimates that 3.2 million people have been displaced by Boko Haram's insurgency in the country's northeast, 1.6 million internally and 1.6 million in neighbouring Chad, Cameroon and Niger.

BBC Nigeria analyst Jimeh Saleh says Nema's decision to launch the investigation is significant as the allegations are extremely serious.

Many people do not report rape in Nigeria, and have little confidence in the police to investigate cases, he says.

They will be hoping that Nema's investigation will be credible, and help break the culture of silence around rape, our reporter adds.

Nema has given the investigators two weeks to compile their report.

Nigeria's upcoming general election, due to take place on 14 February, has been postponed until 28 March due to security concerns.

Government officials said the country's military would be unable to provide sufficient security for the poll due to the Boko Haram insurgency.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Video - Thousands of Nigerians flee Nigeria

Boko Haram crisis has been directly affecting Cameroon as well. The number of Nigerian refugees in the country has quadrupled. We take you to a camp in Maroua in the north of the country.

Boko Haram kidnap 20 in cameroon

Suspected militants from Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram have hijacked a bus in northern Cameroon, abducting at least 20 people, residents say.

Militants reportedly seized a bus carrying market-goers and drove it toward the border with Nigeria.

Some reports put the total number kidnapped in Cameroon as high as 30.

Boko Haram has escalated its attacks outside Nigeria in recent weeks, targeting neighbouring Cameroon and Niger.

The insurgency has forced a postponement of Nigeria's presidential and parliamentary elections from 14 February to 28 March.

The bus was seized near the border area of Koza and driven towards the Nigerian border 18km (11 miles) away, a resident told the Associated Press news agency.Prison attacked

In an apparently related incident, several Boko Haram fighters were killed and around 10 Cameroonian soldiers injured as the militants attacked Kerawa, a local journalist told the BBC.

A separate group of fighters reportedly attacked the nearby town of Kolofata, looting food and livestock.

The attacks in Cameroon follow a series of assaults on the border towns of Bosso and Diffa in Niger.

Boko Haram militants targeted a prison in Diffa on Monday but were repelled by soldiers from Niger and Chad.

Diffa was also targeted by a car bomb which exploded near a market, news agencies reported, citing residents and military sources. A local journalist in Diffa told AFP he counted one dead and 15 injured.

Niger's parliament is due to vote on Monday on contributing 700 troops to a regional force battling to regain territory from Boko Haram ahead of Nigeria's rescheduled elections.

Abbo Moro, Nigeria's interior minister, told the BBC he believes the fight against the militant group will be successful enough for the elections to go ahead.

Elections for state governors and assemblies slated for 28 February have also been moved to 11 April.

BBC Nigeria correspondent Will Ross says many observers in the country see the delay as a political move aimed at helping the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan.

Uncertainty over the election is also having economic repercussions, our reporter says, with Nigeria's currency the naira falling to a record low on Monday.

The Boko Haram insurgency has caused more than 1.5 million people to flee their homes.

On Saturday, Nigeria and the governments of Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Benin agreed to establish a force of 8,700 troops, police and civilians to fight the group.


Monday, February 9, 2015

Video - Al Jazeera talks with Nigeria Presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari

Nigeria's main opposition leader shares his views on the postponed vote, Boko Haram, and challenges facing his country.

Related stories: Video - Presidential candidate General Buhari promises to tackle Boko Haram and corruption

Nigeria presidential elections postponed for six weeks due to Boko Haram

U.S. dissapointed with Nigeria presidential election delay

United States has expressed disap­pointment over the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to postpone the February polls to March.

In a statement issued in Washington, the Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. was “deeply disap­pointed” by Nigeria’s deci­sion to delay the election. “Political interference with the Independent National Electoral Commission is unacceptable, and it is criti­cal that the government not use security concerns as a pretext for impeding the democratic process,” Kerry said.

He visited Nigeria on Jan. 25, urging the People Democratic Party presiden­tial candidate, President Goodluck Jonathan and the All Progressives Congress party presidential candi­date, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, to prevent potential post-election violence by their supporters. The state­ment read:

“The United States is deeply disappointed by the decision to postpone Nige­ria’s presidential election, which had been scheduled for February 14. Political interference with the Inde­pendent National Electoral Commission is unaccept­able, and it is critical that the government not use se­curity concerns as a pretext for impeding the democrat­ic process.

“The international com­munity will be watching closely as the Nigerian government prepares for elections on the newly scheduled dates. The Unit­ed States underscores the importance of ensuring that there are no further delays.

“As I reaffirmed when I visited Lagos last month, we support a free, trans­parent, and credible elec­toral process in Nigeria and renew our calls on all candidates, their support­ers, and Nigerian citizens to maintain calm and reject election-related violence.”

The Sun

Related story: Nigeria presidential elections postponed for six weeks due to Boko Haram

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Video - Presidential candidate General Buhari promises to tackle Boko Haram and corruption

As the presidential vote approaches there are concerns over mounting tensions especially considering Nigeria's post election history. In 2011, 800 people died from violence instigated by campaigns. President Goodluck Jonathan's main challenger Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress has, however pledged to follow due legal process to challenge the election outcome should he lose. He also promises that his administration will tackle the Boko Haram insurgency and end corruption and theft in the oil sector.

Nigeria presidential elections postponed for six weeks due to Boko Haram

Nigeria’s electoral commission will postpone next Saturday’s presidential and legislative elections for six weeks to give a new multinational force time to secure north-eastern areas under the sway of Boko Haram, an official close to the commission told the Associated Press on Saturday.

Millions could be disenfranchised if the voting went ahead while the Islamic extremists hold a large swath of the north-east and commit mayhem that has driven 1.5 million people from their homes.

Civil rights groups opposed to any postponement started a small protest on Saturday. Police prevented them from entering the electoral commission headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital. Armed police began deploying to block roads leading to the building.

The Nigerian official, who is knowledgeable of the discussions, said the Independent National Electoral Commission would announce the postponement later on Saturday. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

A major offensive with warplanes and ground troops from Chad and Nigeria already has forced the insurgents from a dozen towns and villages in the past 10 days. Even greater military strikes by more countries are planned.

African Union officials were ending a three-day meeting Saturday in Yaounde, Cameroon’s capital, to finalise details of a 7,500-strong force from Nigeria and its neighbours Chad, Cameroon, Benin and Niger. Details of funding, with the Africans wanting the United Nations and European Union to pay, may delay the mission.

Nigeria’s home-grown extremist group has responded with attacks on one town in Cameroon and two in Niger this week. Officials said more than 100 civilians were killed and 500 wounded in Cameroon. Niger said about 100 insurgents and one civilian died in attacks on Friday. Several security forces from both countries were killed.

International concern has increased along with the death toll; some 10,000 have been killed in the uprising in the past year compared with 2,000 in the four previous years, according to the US Council on Foreign Relations.

The United States has been urging Nigeria to press ahead with the voting. The US secretary of state, John Kerry, visited Nigeria two weeks ago and said that “one of the best ways to fight back against Boko Haram” was by holding credible and peaceful elections, on time.

“It’s imperative that these elections happen on time as scheduled,” Kerry said.

Officials in President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration have been calling for a postponement.

Any delay is opposed by an opposition coalition fielding former military dictator Muhammadu Buhari, though the opposition stands to take most votes in the north-east.

Supporters of both sides are threatening violence if their candidate does not win. Some 800 people were killed in riots in the mainly Muslim north after Buhari, a Muslim, lost 2011 elections to Jonathan, a Christian from the south.

A postponement will give electoral officials more time to deliver some 30 million voter cards. The commission had said the non-delivery of cards to nearly half of the 68.8 million registered voters was not a good reason to delay the vote.


Friday, February 6, 2015

Jumia gets official Apple istore

Jumia has rolled out their official Apple store online. According to Jumia, they are the first online retailer to be authorised by Apple to sell Apple related products.

According to the online retailer, it expects that the official authorisation will alleviate shoppers’ fears of purchasing counterfeit Apple products online.

Speaking on the launch of the online iStore, Jeremy Doutte, MD Jumia Nigeria stated that: “The collaboration between Jumia and Apple is a thing of beauty and can best be described as a big win for innovation and authenticity. Nigerians no longer have to be burdened by fears of using their hard earned cash to purchase a fake, stolen or reworked Apple device. Above all our continued commitment to seeing the Nigerian customer get top quality and premium retail keeps driving us to push new boundaries and break new frontiers.”

Darryl Linington

IT News Africa

Related story: Jumia is biggest e-commerce website in Nigeria

Nigeria's answer to

Nigeria's $20 billion oil leak

In late 2013, Nigeria's then central bank governor Lamido Sanusi wrote to President Goodluck Jonathan claiming that the state oil company had failed to remit tens of billions of oil revenues it owed the state.

After the letter was leaked to Reuters and a local news site, Jonathan publicly dismissed the claim and replaced Sanusi, saying the banker had mismanaged the central bank's budget. A Senate committee later found Sanusi’s account lacked substance.

Sanusi has since become Emir of Kano, the country's second highest Islamic authority, and has smoothed over relations with the president. He declined to discuss his earlier assertions. Before he was sacked, though, the central banker submitted to Nigeria’s parliament more than 300 pages of documentation in support of his claim. Reuters has reviewed that dossier, which offers one of the most comprehensive studies of waste, mismanagement and what Sanusi called “leakages” of cash in Nigeria’s oil industry. Detailed here, the dossier includes oil contracts, confidential government letters, private presidential correspondence and legal opinions.

Sanusi’s letter and documents do not state whether he thinks the money was stolen or lost through mismanagement. Nor did he make allegations of illegal acts against any specific individuals or entities. Both corruption and bad governance are perennial problems in Africa’s most populous nation, and central issues in elections due on Feb. 14.

Nigeria’s oil industry accounts for around 95 percent of the country’s foreign exchange earnings. If Nigeria continued to leak cash at the rate described in his letter to the president, Sanusi said at the time, the consequences for the economy would be disastrous. Specifically, the failure of state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation “to remit foreign exchange to the Federation Account in a period of rising oil prices has made our management of exchange rates and price stability ... extremely difficult," he wrote. "The central bank of Nigeria is always blamed for high rates of interest,” but “given these leakages, the alternative is a devalued currency ... and financial instability."

That is exactly what has happened. As oil prices have plummeted to around $55 a barrel, half their level at the beginning of 2014, Sanusi’s successor Godwin Emefiele has devalued the naira, Nigeria’s currency, by 8 percent, and raised interest rates for the first time in more than two years.

Nigerian foreign exchange reserves are down around 20 percent on a year ago, while the balance in the country's oil savings account has fallen from $9 billion in December 2012 to $2.5 billion at the start of this year, even though oil prices were buoyant over much of that period. Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala told reporters at a press conference in November that a significant portion of that money was distributed to the powerful governors of Nigeria’s 36 states instead of being saved for a rainy day.

Nigerians are rarely shocked by stories of billions going unaccounted for, or ending up with politically powerful individuals. Africa’s largest oil producer has for years consistently ranked toward the bottom of Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index.

Sanusi handed his documents to a parliamentary inquiry set up last February to investigate the assertion in his letter that billions of dollars in oil revenue had not reached the central bank. He told the inquiry that state oil group NNPC had made $67 billion worth of oil sales in the previous 19 months. Of that, he said, between $10.8 billion and $20 billion was unaccounted for.

A spokesman for the president declined to comment on the specific contents of Sanusi’s dossier. He referred to a statement made at the time the banker was pushed out. It said the government “remains committed to ensuring integrity and accountability and discipline in every sector of the economy ... And indeed we look forward to a situation whereby Mr. Sanusi will continue to assist the legislature in their investigations.”

Those investigations include a “forensic audit” of the oil industry set up by Okonjo-Iweala. The audit was given to Jonathan on Feb. 2 and he said he would hand it on to Nigeria’s auditor general. NNPC said on Feb. 5 it had received a copy of the audit, before it was made public. The firm said the audit cleared it of wrongdoing, although it found NNPC owed the government $1.48 billion for a separate shortfall.

A spokesman for NNPC rejected Sanusi's allegations and referred Reuters to last August’s Senate inquiry. The inquiry expressed satisfaction that most of the money not remitted was withheld for legitimate reasons. But it urged the NNPC to remit $700 million that the committee said it could not account for.

Diezani Alison-Madueke, the oil minister who oversees NNPC, did not respond to a request for comment. She told the inquiry at the time that the correct sum for money not remitted was $10.8 billion, which was to pay for subsidies.

The NNPC has consistently said it did nothing wrong. The oil company said last year that Sanusi’s allegations came from his "misunderstanding" of how the oil industry works. The central bank is “a banking outfit ... how will they understand petroleum engineering issues?" then managing director Andrew Yakubu asked journalists. "They are not auditors."

Sanusi’s claims were seen by some Nigerians as part of the historic tensions between the country’s wealthy, Christian south and poorer Muslim north. Jonathan and oil minister Alison-Madueke are Christians from the oil-producing Niger Delta in the south. Sanusi is a Muslim from the country’s north, as is Muhammadu Buhari, a former military ruler of Nigeria who is the main presidential candidate running against Jonathan. The two regions have historically taken it in turns to hold the presidency. Since 2009, though, Jonathan has broken with this tradition.

Sanusi has said any notion there were religious or ethnic politics behind his allegations is absurd. He has declined to be interviewed since becoming the Emir of Kano.

But last April, two months after he was sacked but before he took on his new role, Sanusi told Reuters he worried that the sheer quantities of cash going missing were “unsustainable.”

“You are taking what doesn’t belong to you and transferring it to private hands,” he told Reuters. “The state is captive to vested interests.”


Sanusi’s documents identify three key mechanisms through which Nigeria has allegedly allowed middlemen to channel oil funds away from the central bank. Among the recipients, Sanusi alleges, are government officials and high-flying society figures.

The three mechanisms are: contracts awarded non-competitively to two companies that did not supply services but sub-contracted the work; a kerosene subsidy that doesn’t help the people it is meant to; and a series of complex, opaque "swap deals" that might be short-changing the state.

Sanusi’s concerns around the first of these mechanisms center on the 2011 sale by RoyalDutch Shell of its interests in five oil fields. The blocks were majority-owned by NNPC. The government, keen to end the domination of the oil industry by foreign oil majors, had been encouraging Shell and others to sell to local firms.

Shell sold its interest in the fields to companies in Poland and Britain. But the new owners did not get the same rights Shell had. To promote local control, the NNPC gave the right to operate the fields to its own subsidiary, the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC).

Without soliciting bids, the NPDC signed "strategic partnership agreements" worth around $6.6 billion with two other local firms to manage them.

One firm, Seven Energy, signed for three fields; another, Atlantic Energy, for two.

Seven Energy was co-founded in 2004 by Kola Aluko, an oil trader and Christian southerner. Aluko also co-owned Atlantic with another southerner, former oil trader Jide Omokore. Atlantic was incorporated the day before it signed the deals.

Geneva-based Aluko is a high-profile member of Nigeria's elite. He owns a fleet of supercars, including a Ferrari 458 GT2 that he races with Swiss team Kessel Racing. He also owns a $50 million yacht, according to Forbes magazine, and divides his time between a $40 million home in Los Angeles, an $8.6 million duplex on Fifth Avenue in New York, and homes in Abuja and Geneva. A colleague describes him as a "work hard, play harder kind of guy. He’s extravagant. That’s just his style.”

Aluko, whose stake in Seven is now minimal, did not respond to emailed questions.

Omokore has also become rich from oil and gas. Forbes has estimated annual revenue at another of his companies, Energy Resources Group, at $400 million. His jet-setting lifestyle is a regular feature in the local press. Omokore could not be reached for comment.

Reuters has reviewed the contracts the firms signed with NPDC. They give Seven Energy 10 percent of profits in the three oil blocks it operates, while Atlantic gets 30 percent of profits in its two blocks. The contracts also show that, unlike Shell, neither firm pays royalties, profit tax or duties to the state.

Both companies quickly sub-contracted production work to other operators, according to Sanusi's submission to parliament and several market sources. The companies did not disclose terms of these contracts.

Atlantic does not publish accounts, but Seven’s 2013 annual report shows its deal with NPDC helped its revenue more than triple to $345 million.

In May 2013, Nigeria’s parliament threatened to investigate the NPDC contracts because they were not issued through competitive tender. But the NNPC argued no tender was needed because the contracts involved no sale of equity in the oil fields; the probe did not go ahead.

Sanusi did not accuse Seven and Atlantic of any illegalities, but he did question why the NPDC chose those companies. His report said the deals’ only purpose seemed to be “acquiring assets belonging to the federation (state) and transferring the income to private hands."

Asked about this, NNPC referred to the Senate report, which found that no-bid partnership agreements are not new. It also said that "it may be good policy to encourage indigenous players by giving them greater participation," but called for such deals "to be conducted in a transparent and competitive manner."

Seven did not comment. It says on its website its agreement with NPDC pre-dated the Jonathan administration and included an allowance for taxes. The company says it has invested more than $500 million, more than doubled production from its three blocks, and paid $48.8 million in taxes in 2013. Atlantic did not comment.


The second mechanism Sanusi’s report identifies as problematic is a decades-old state subsidy provided to retailers of kerosene, the fuel most Nigerians use for cooking.

Nigeria lacks the refining capacity to make kerosene, so imports it instead. The government then sells the kerosene to retailers at a cheaper price than the import price. This subsidy is meant to make kerosene affordable for the poor. In reality, though, retailers have long hiked prices so consumers pay much more than official levels.

In June 2009, Jonathan’s predecessor, Umaru Yar'Adua, ordered a halt to the scheme on the grounds that it was not working. But the subsidies carried on regardless. The NNPC told parliament last February that it still deducts billions of dollars a year from its earnings to cover it.

In his report, Sanusi called the kerosene subsidy a "racket" that lines the pockets of private kerosene retailers and NNPC staff. The report estimated the cost of the subsidy at $100 million a month. It said kerosene retailers – there are hundreds of them around the country – routinely charged customers much higher prices than the government pays to import the fuel.

Sanusi’s report included an analysis of kerosene prices across Nigeria’s 36 states over two years. It found that the government buys kerosene at 150 naira per liter from importers and then sells it to retailers at just 40 naira per liter. Sanusi’s analysis found consumers pay an average of 170-200 naira per liter, and sometimes as much as 270 naira.

“The margin of 300 percent to 500 percent over purchase price is economic rent, which never got to the man on the street,” Sanusi wrote.

NNPC said in a statement last year that it can't force retailers to sell kerosene at the subsidized price.


The third mechanism Sanusi identified involves other types of refined petroleum products, such as gasoline. Like kerosene, these are also imported. Nigeria is Africa’s biggest oil producer but it depends on imports for 80 percent of its fuel needs because its refining capacity is tiny.

To pay for the imported products, Nigeria barters its crude oil. Sanusi’s dossier focuses on these barter exchanges, which are known as "swap deals." The idea is that importers who bring in refined fuel worth a given amount receive an “equivalent value” in crude oil.

How that equivalent value is determined is unclear. Sanusi said he was uncertain how much, if anything, is lost in these deals. But he expressed concern at the sheer value of oil that changes hands and the lack of oversight. His report estimated that between 2010 and 2011, traders involved in swap deals effectively bartered 200,000 barrels of crude a day – worth nearly $20 million at average crude prices over the period - for a loosely determined equivalent value in refined products. It is impossible to tell, he said, if all the refined products were delivered, let alone if the terms were fair.

“It was clear to us that these transactions ... were not properly structured, monitored and audited,” he wrote.

Sanusi wrote in his report that mismanagement and “leakages” of cash in the industry cost Nigeria billions of dollars a year.

Since the price of oil has fallen by around half since the start of 2014, such losses are even more significant. As it approaches elections, Nigeria faces plummeting oil revenues and a lack of buffers to shield the economy. Construction projects are on hold and the government is struggling to pay its sizeable workforce.

Multiple scandals in the oil sector since Jonathan took power have boosted the popularity of his rival, former military leader Muhammadu Buhari. Remembered by some for deposing a civilian government in a 1983 coup and trampling on civil liberties, the sandal-wearing general often promises to "free Nigeria from corruption."

Jonathan, too, says he will “clean up” Nigeria. By using technology and strengthening institutions, “I will solve the problem of corruption in this country,” he told a crowd in Ibadan in January.

Written by Tim Cocks and Joe Brock


Related story: Video - Finance minister Okonjo-Iweala talks about alleged missing $20 million

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Audit report by PricewaterhouseCoopers indicts NNPC and states the Nigerian petroleum corporation should refund $1.48 billion

The forensic audit conducted by the audit firm of PriceWaterHouseCoopers on behalf of the Federal Government on the operations of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation [NNPC] has indicted the management of the national oil company for various questionable transactions.

Part of the recommendations include that the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, NPDC, the upstream subsidy of the NNPC should refund about $1.48billion to the Federation Account for various unreconciled transactions.

More details of report to come.

President Goodluck Jonathan had on Monday publicly received the report a day after a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria [CBN], Chukwuma Soludo, wrote a long, acerbic article accusing the managers of the Nigerian economy of misappropriating over N30trillion of public funds, including several billions in oil money.

The forensic audit was commissioned following allegation by the immediate past Governor of the CBN, Lamido Sanusi, that about $20 billion oil money was missing from the NNPC.

The Presidency had on March 12, 2014 announced, through a statement by the president’s spokesperson, Reuben Abati, that it had authorised the engagement of reputable international firms to carry out the forensic audit of the accounts of the NNPC.

The allegation that the huge amount had been stolen was raised in 2013 by a former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Lamido Sanusi, who is now the Emir of Kano.

Mr. Sanusi said as much as $49 billion was diverted by state oil company, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC.

He later reviewed the amount to $20 billion, and called for investigations after writing to President Goodluck Jonathan.

A Senate probe into the allegation yielded no result. Mr. Sanusi was later fired by President Jonathan after he was accused of “financial recklessness”.

The government said no money was missing, but promised a forensic investigation of NNPC.

In April 2014, the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, announced the appointment of the accounting firm, PriceWaterHouseCoopers (PwC), to conduct a detailed investigation into the accounts and activities of NNPC.

The minister said the investigation, under the supervision of the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation, would take about 16 weeks.

That schedule meant at most by September 2014 ending, the report should have been ready. A two-month delay meant the report should have been ready by November.

But the government only publicly received the report on Monday.

Premium Times

Related stories: Video - Finance minister Okonjo-Iweala talks about alleged missing $20 million dollars

 Video - Sanusi Lamido's TEDx speech - Overcoming the fear of vested interest

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

Stolen crude oil in Nigeria exceeds Ghana's daily production

The vice-presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Prof. Yemi Osinbajo says the volume of crude oil being stolen from Nigeria on a daily basis far outweighs what Ghana produces in a day.

He was delivering a speech as the guest speaker at a lecture organised to mark the 73rd birthday of the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) Pastor Enoch Adeboye in Lagos yesterday.

Osinbajo, a senior pastor of the RCCG, spoke on the topic: "Harmonising Virtues to Gain Heaven and Earthly Prosperity." He said part of the many challenges confronting Nigeria today is the problem of oil theft.

"In our society, we have certain challenges including corruption, described by Hillary Clinton as unbelievable, missing funds NNPC petroleum subsidy scam, kerosene subsidy scam and so on. Missing excess crude amounts to $1 billion, that is, 400,000 barrels of oil stolen every day. This is more than what Ghana struggles to produce as a nation. Since becoming an oil producing country, Ghana produces 120,000 barrels per day", he said.

Osinbajo also lamented some statistics he said had become part of Nigerian history in recent years.

He said: "Challenges such as poverty is what we face today in Nigeria. Today, over 112 million Nigerians are categorised as extremely poor despite being the largest economy in Africa. In fact, we are one of the 33 poorest countries in the world. Also, on infant mortality, about 3.9 million children have died between 2009 and 2014. Similarly, 55,000 women die every year, which accounts for our maternal mortality. On the other hand, Nigeria records 110,000 deaths as a result of diarrhoea while 10.4 million children are out of school. Again, 80 percent of our graduates are jobless".

To surmount the challenges, Osinbajo said Nigeria needs a personality that has integrity, "because integrity is at the centre of everything we do."

Daily Trust

Chad retakes border town in Nigeria

Chad’s government said this week that its military had retaken a border town in Nigeria from the Islamist militant group Boko Haram, suggesting that momentum in the nearly six-year war against the group may finally be shifting.

Chad said that its forces had been attacked Tuesday along the Cameroon-Nigeria border and that they responded by crossing the frontier into the Nigerian town Gamboru Ngala, which has been held for months by Boko Haram.

The Islamists were “completely wiped out” there, with the death of nine Chadian soldiers and “more than 200” on the Boko Haram side, according to a statement from the Chadian government.

The Chadian incursion into Nigeria in pursuit of Boko Haram, its second in less than a week, underscores the failure of Nigeria’s own military to take on the Islamists despite years of civilian massacres by the militants in the country’s northeast.

Here in Nigeria’s capital, officials this week have largely denied, ignored or minimized Chad’s new role in the fight on Nigerian soil. The African Union has endorsed the creation of a 7,500-member regional force to fight the Islamists and aid Nigeria’s faltering military.

But it is the Chadians — whose soldiers played a critical role in chasing Al Qaeda’s African affiliate from Mali, in partnership with the French, two years ago — who have so far taken the lead.

Western diplomats here, exasperated by Nigeria’s ineffectual response so far, said the new Chadian presence could be a “game changer” in the fight against Boko Haram, as one put it.

“As usual, they are doing the job,” a Western diplomat said in a text message about the Chadians. “Above all with their planes, and their helicopters, and since the 20th of January.”

On Wednesday, the remaining militants in the Gamboru area counterattacked, crossing the bridge from Gamboru into the Cameroon border town Fotokol, where they killed many civilians before being pushed back by the Chadian and Cameroonian military forces, according to a Chadian military official.

A north Cameroon newspaper, L’Oeil du Sahel, reported Wednesday that “Boko Haram perpetrated a massacre at Fotokol. Dozens of people were slaughtered, in the mosques, in their houses, killed in the streets.”

Chad has an interest in the Boko Haram fight on economic as well as security grounds. Many goods into the landlocked country are shipped up from the port at Douala in Cameroon through that country’s narrow northern neck, an area that has been ravaged for over a year by Boko Haram incursions from neighboring northeastern Nigeria.

“Chad’s forces are determined to crush this force of evil,” Chad’s information minister, Hassan Sylla Bakari, said Wednesday. “We are absolutely determined because Boko Haram is a threat to the entire subregion. They want to asphyxiate the Chadian economy by blocking our outlets in Nigeria and Cameroon.”
New York Times

Related story: Chad military forces enter Nigeria to fight Boko Haram

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Chad military forces enter Nigeria to fight Boko Haram

Chadian troops have crossed into northeastern Nigerian town of Gambaru to launch a ground offensive for the first time against Boko Haram fighters that control the town bordering Cameroon, Chadian military sources have said.

Fighting between the two sides began after armoured vehicles and soldiers from Chad entered the strategic Nigerian town on Tuesday in an increasingly regional conflict.

"Our troops entered Nigeria this morning. The combat is ongoing," one of the sources at Chad's army headquarters told the Reuters news agency.

Chadian forces have also taken up position close to Boko Haram strongholds along Nigeria's border with Niger.

"A contingent of about 400 vehicles and tanks is stationed between Mamori and Bosso," Niger's private radio Anfani reported.

The ground offensive followed days of intense combat between Boko Haram fighters and Chadian forces in Cameroon, during which Chad's air force carried out strikes on the rebels, Chadian and Cameroon military sources said.

Boko Haram fighters had launched attacks across the border bridge from Gambaru into Cameroon, the sources said.

Nigeria's military said the country's sovereignty was not compromised despite the presence of Chadian ground troops on its territory.

"Nigeria's territorial integrity remains intact," Defence spokesman Chris Olukolade said, claiming national forces had "planned and are driving the present onslaught against terrorists from all fronts in Nigeria, not the Chadian forces".

Chad has deployed some 2,500 troops as part of a regional effort to take on the armed group that has waged a rebellion in Nigeria's north, killing an estimated 10,000 people last year. The group says it wants to establish an Islamic state in Africa's biggest oil producer.

Major supply route

The road from Gambaru to Fotokol in Cameroon is one of Boko Haram's major supply routes. It has been hampered since Cameroon deployed special forces to the area in mid-2014, leading to fierce fighting in the area.

The Nigerian government said on Monday that Gambaru alongside several other towns in the region including Mafa, Mallam Fatori, Abadam and Marte had been liberated from Boko Haram.

In a further sign of mounting international action to combat the militant group, France said on Tuesday that French military aircraft are carrying out surveillance missions to help countries bordering Nigeria tackle Boko Haram.

The African Union (AU) has authorised a force of 7,500 troops from Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Benin to fight the rebels.


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

President Goodluck Jonathan escapes suicide bomber during presidential campaign rally

A female suicide bomber has blown up herself in northern Nigeria's Gombe city, minutes after President Goodluck Jonathan left a campaign rally there.

At least one person was killed and 18 others were wounded in the blast, police and hospital sources said.

Mr Jonathan is standing for re-election on 14 February against former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari.

Militant Islamist group Boko Haram has stepped up its attacks in the run-up to the contest.

It has not commented on the blast.

Explosions have also ripped through court buildings in three towns in oil-rich southern Nigeria in what police described as co-ordinated attacks.

Dynamite was suspected to have been used in the attacks in Port Harcourt city and the towns of Isiokpo and Degema in oil-rich Rivers State, regional police spokesman Ahmad Muhammed said.

There were no casualties, but the court building in Degema was "razed down and documents burnt", he is quoted by Nigeria's privately owned Daily Trust newspaper as saying.

Boko Haram is not known to be active in the oil-producing region, where militants demanding a greater share of Nigeria's oil wealth have carried out attacks in the past.'Angry youth'

In the blast in Gombe, the bomber blew herself up near a car, Gombe state police spokesman Fwaje Atajiri told the BBC.

He said a female passerby had been killed, contradicting earlier reports that three people had been killed in the blast.

Mohammed Bolari, who was at the rally in Gombe, said the explosion occurred some three minutes after Mr Jonathan's departure, AFP news agency reports.

"The president had just passed the parking lot and we were trailing behind his convoy when the explosion happened," he was quoted as saying.

Mr Jonathan addressed a rally in the north-eastern city a day after it was hit by two blasts that killed at least five people.

A local journalist told AFP the latest blast had led to unrest in Gombe, with angry youths attacking supporters of Mr Jonathan's People's Democratic Party (PDP).

"They were shouting and denouncing the president's visit which they blamed for the attack," he added.

A report in the Nigerian paper The Vanguard says the president and Mr Buhari have cancelled scheduled election rallies in Damaturu in Yobe state and Maiduguri in Borno state respectively.

It may not have been as large as other bombings in Nigeria but the timing of the latest attack will have shocked the security forces. The violence is escalating in the run-up to elections due in less than two weeks.

The attacks are blamed on Boko Haram which is against democracy and says it wants to set up a caliphate.

As well as the bombings the military is facing a huge challenge as the Boko Haram fighters try to capture more territory in the north-east.

On Sunday, the military and local vigilantes prevented the jihadists from penetrating Maiduguri city in Borno state for the second time in a week.

Military aircraft from Chad have meanwhile continued their attacks on Boko Haram positions in north-east Nigeria for a third day.

Eyewitnesses said Chadian jets and helicopters hit targets in the town of Gamboru, just across the border from Cameroon.

Chad sent forces into northern Cameroon in January, driving Boko Haram out of the area but stopping short of advancing on the militants' strongholds deeper inside Nigeria.

Chadian forces are reported to have been massing in the Cameroonian border town of Fotokol since Sunday.

The election is expected to be the most tightly contested since military rule ended in 1999 but there are growing fears that voters in areas controlled by Boko Haram will not be able to vote.

Last week, the African Union (AU) backed plans for the deployment of a 7,500-strong regional force to fight Boko Haram.

Mr Jonathan declared a state of emergency in Nigeria's north-eastern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa in May 2013, but it has not stopped the Boko Haram offensive.


Related story: Angry mob stones President Goodluck Jonathan's convoy

Monday, February 2, 2015

Video - Bird flu in 11 states in Nigeria

An outbreak of bird flu in Nigerian poultry farms has spread to four more states, raising the total of affected areas to 11. That is according to the agricultural and rural development minister Akinwumi Adesina.

Nigeria's military defend Maiduguri from Boko Haram attack

The Nigerian army says it has repelled an assault by Boko Haram Islamist militants on the strategic north-eastern city of Maiduguri.

Defence Ministry spokesman Chris Olukolade is quoted as saying the attack was "contained" and the rebels suffered heavy casualties.

The militants attacked in the early hours of Sunday, and gunfire was reported on the streets of the city.

Last week's assault by Boko Haram on the city was also stopped by the army.

Boko Haram began guerrilla operations in 2009 to create an Islamic state. It has taken control of many towns and villages in north-eastern Nigeria in the last year.

The conflict has displaced at least 1.5 million people, while more than 2,000 were killed last year.'Stray bullets'

Brig Gen Olukolade was quoted by the AFP news agency as saying that "the terrorists incurred massive casualties" on Sunday.

"The situation is calm as the mopping up operation in the affected area is ongoing," he added.

A number of eyewitnesses confirmed the army claim.

They also said that several civilians had been hit by stray bullets and bombs during the fighting.

The army was supported by vigilantes who recently have taken a central role in fighting the militants.

The military's handling of the six-year insurgency has often been criticised.