Friday, July 31, 2015

10 dead in suicide bomb blast in Nigeria

A suicide bomber killed about 10 people at a crowded market early Friday in a blast that thundered across the northeastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri, witnesses said.

The region has been pummeled by suicide bombings that have killed hundreds carried out by the Boko Haram Islamic extremists since Nigeria elected a new president who promised to root out the extremists.

Trader Bukar Shettima said the explosion lifted him off his feet and threw him to the ground. "Thank God I was not too close," he said. "But I saw nauseating corpses and battered bodies of humans littering the ground."

A police bomb expert said the bomber was a man, not a woman as had been originally described by witnesses. Both were in a tricycle taxi that exploded at a taxi rank outside Gamboru wholesale vegetable market.

The expert, who requested anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to reporters, said he helped collect seven bodies.

Civilian self-defense fighter Kabiru Yaro said he carried away at least 10 corpses. It is difficult to get an exact toll in such attacks because of the numerous body parts.

A suicide bombing at the same market killed at least 20 last month.

Nigeria's military Thursday announced its first major success in weeks: soldiers rescued 71 Boko Haram captives, mostly girls and women, in battles that killed many militants and destroyed their camps in three villages near Maiduguri.

President Muhammadu Buhari this week visited neighboring Cameroon to bolster support for the 8,700-strong, four-nation army to curb the uprising that has spilled across borders. Deployment has been delayed by a lack of funds.

The 6-year-old uprising has killed 20,000 people and driven nearly 2 million from their homes.


Thursday, July 30, 2015

Nigeria appoints new general to lead fight against Boko Haram

Nigeria has named a general to lead the new multinational task force to fight Boko Haram Islamists, the military said on Thursday.

Major General Iliya Abbah, who previously commanded military operations in the oil-rich Niger Delta, will head the new force, Nigerian military spokesman Major General Chris Olukolade said.

The 8,700-strong Multi-National Joint Task Force, drawing in Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Benin, is expected to be more effective than the current alliance in the battle to end Boko Haram's six-year insurgency that has claimed some 15,000 lives.

Abbah was until his new appointment the military secretary in the army, Olukolade added.

The spokesman had said on Tuesday that the new regional force is expected to go into action very soon, but did not specify when for tactical reasons.

Boko Haram has stepped up its attacks since President Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in in May, unleashing a wave of violence that has claimed 800 lives in just two months.

The new regional force will be headquartered in Chadian capital N'Djamena, but few other details have emerged on its specific nature, raising concerns its deployment may face delays.

Buhari is currently in neighbouring Cameroon for talks on how to combat the escalating regional threat from Boko Haram Islamists.

Nigeria's presidency said Buhari's talks with Cameroonian President Paul Biya were part of his "ongoing effort to build a more effective regional coalition against Boko Haram".

The Nigerian president has already visited neighbouring Chad and Niger, which have also suffered from attacks by the Islamist fighters.

He is also expected to visit neighbouring Benin on Saturday.


Related story: Nigeria president Muhammadu Buhari sacks army, navy and air force chiefs

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Video - Al Jazeera covers Nigeria's movie industry Nollywood

The story behind Nigeria's domestic movie industry, the second biggest producer of films in the world.

Related stories: Video - Nigerian filmmaker Kunle Afolayan wants to transcend Nollywood

Video - Nigerian short film Chuks premieres at Toronto International short Film Festival

Video - Nigeria women farmers demand for land rights

In rural Nigeria, 80 percent of small scale farmers are women. Yet very few own land -- held back by a lack of resources and conservative male attitudes. Activists are calling for more rights for women farmers, including access to land and credit.

Nigeria's Festus Ezeli story of becoming an NBA champion

Festus Ezeli departed from Nigeria in July 2004 as a nervous 14-year-old who stood 6-foot-8 and dreamed of becoming a doctor. While there is no medical degree 11 years later, the Golden State Warriors center on Wednesday returned to Africa six inches taller and an NBA champion after living a real-life fairy tale.

"I've been beyond lucky, blessed or whatever it is," Ezeli told Yahoo Sports. "I've had people come into my life that I never expected. I've had people come and support me that I never expected. They all are a part of my journey…

"Nothing is impossible. You just have to be able to dream big and work hard for it."

Ezeli is returning to Africa to play in the first-ever NBA Africa Game, an exhibition on Saturday in Johannesburg, South Africa. The Nigeria native will be playing for the Africa Team coached by San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich with teammates such as Luol Deng and Giannis Antetokounmpo. The World Team roster includes All-Stars Chris Paul, Marc Gasol and Pau Gasol.

Ezeli believes the exhibition will have such a strong impact on the growth of basketball in Africa that renowned power USA Basketball will eventually have to take serious notice.

"To bring NBA basketball out there just shows how much basketball has grown in that continent," Ezeli said. "Pretty soon, Africa is going to be a contender in basketball. Eventually, it's going to rival the United States. We just haven't tapped that resource yet. This is the beginning."

Ifeanyi Festus Ezeli-Ndulue was born in Benin City, Nigeria on Oct. 21, 1989, and was the first of six children to parents Chukwuma Festus Ezeli and Patricia Ada Ezeli. Ifeanyi means, "Nothing is impossible with God." The close-knit Ezeli family owns a home with a hoop outside. A young Festus Ezeli, however, didn't grow up a hoop fan in the southern Nigeria city of about 1.1 million as he enjoyed academics and soccer.

"He would do and say things at age 2 that 8-year-olds couldn't say or do. He was an exceptional and brilliant child," Patricia Ada Ezeli told Yahoo Sports.

Festus Ezeli said he advanced quickly in school and was promoted past the fifth and sixth grades by American standards at the private Igbinedion Education Center in Benin City. He actually earned his high school diploma just months from his 15th birthday.

"The common knowledge of Africa is poverty, which we do have a lot of," Ezeli said. "But the affluent and educated exist in Nigeria as well. My parents worked hard enough to send me to an international school. At the school I learned about different parts of the world. I learned to get out of a small-town mentality and to aspire to be great."

The Ezelis visited Northern California as a family in 2004. That same year, Ezeli's parents decided it would be best for their son to further his education – and reach his dream of becoming a doctor – by moving the United States. The Ezelis' plan was for Festus to live with and shadow his uncle, Dr. Chuk Ndulue, in Yuba City, Calif., a Sacramento-area town of about 65,000 residents. Ezeli had never lived away from his parents to that point and was "torn" about leaving.

"It was painful to let him go, but we knew it was for his own best interest," Patricia Ada Ezeli said.

Festus Ezeli arrived to Sacramento standing 6-foot-8 with plenty of room left to grow. While school remained the focus, his uncle believed it made a lot of sense for his nephew to begin playing basketball, too.

"[Ndulue] saw my height and said, 'We could do something with this,' " Festus Ezeli said. "I told him that I came to America to be a doctor. He told me, 'You can play basketball and use basketball to pay for your education.' We all thought it was a good idea, but we didn't realize how hard it would be."

Being tall definitely helped Ezeli's hoop dream, but not being skilled in the least in basketball in his teens brought major challenges.

Ezeli actually scored his first basket in his AAU debut in the wrong basket. He took a brief hiatus playing basketball after his frustrations, combined with his teammates' and coaches' frustrations, became too much for him. In 2005, he got cut from Sacramento's Jesuit High School basketball team.

"I didn't like it at all at first," Ezeli said. "I didn't understand anything about the game."

Ezeli next attended Yuba Community College initially just go to school. He eventually met Yuba basketball coach Doug Cornelius, who was the first coach who took time to teach him the game of basketball. Ezeli practiced with Yuba and filmed their games while gray-shirting to keep his four years of college eligibility intact.

After growing to 6-foot-11 at age 17, college scouts quickly became enamored with his potential despite how raw he was during AAU games. Ezeli received 27 scholarship offers before narrowing his field to Boston College, Connecticut, Harvard and Vanderbilt. Ezeli's parents thought it would be a dream come true for their son to get a Harvard education. In hopes of getting the best combination of school and basketball though, a strong-willed Ezeli chose Vanderbilt.

"I didn't think it was the best decision because I thought Harvard would give him the greatest opportunity in life," Patricia Ada Ezeli said. "Most parents would think that for their children. But when he kept insisting about basketball, school and being able to play at the highest level of the sport, we said to ourselves, 'School is always there. He can try it and if it doesn't work out he can go back to school.' "

The rest of the Ezeli family was finally reunited with Festus five years ago, but not under ideal circumstances. Amidst concerns about violence in Nigeria, Ezeli's family moved to the Sacramento-area in 2010. The Ezeli family also suffered a family tragedy in Nigeria while Festus was a sophomore at Vanderbilt that they preferred not to elaborate on.

"I could sleep better at night when they moved here," Ezeli said. "No place is completely safe. But given the circumstances and the situation, there was too much uncertainty over there. I'd rather them be here with me where they are safe."

When asked why he had not returned to Nigeria yet, Ezeli said: "At first it was because I became busy. But things became rough in Nigeria. Times were tough. There were some family issues… It just became unsafe."

After majoring in economics and suiting up for Vanderbilt from 2008-2012, the Warriors selected Ezeli with the 30th overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft. He played sparingly as a rookie and missed the entire 2013-14 season following knee surgery. Ezeli finally returned to the Warriors healthy in February.

Ezeli was in the Warriors' playing rotation as they progressed to the NBA Finals. And with center Andrew Bogut having injury issues, Ezeli played a pivotal role in the Warriors winning a championship. He celebrated by having his family on the float with him during the Warriors' championship parade in Oakland, Calif.

"Being on the parade with him was like going to heaven…," Patricia Ada Ezeli said. "I cried. But those were tears of joy because I was happy. I'm proud of him."

And while Nigeria is a ways from Oakland, Ezeli's family members and friends back home paid close attention to the Warriors' title run.

"I get messages all the time on LinkedIn, e-mail, What's App, Facebook and Instagram every day," Ezeli said. "People are excited about what I am doing and have congratulated me. It lets me know that what I'm doing is bigger than myself and people are supporting and watching me."

Said Patricia Ada Ezeli: "One time I put him on the phone with one of his cousins who called about him from Nigeria. Festus enjoyed that."

Festus Ezeli was honored to get the invitation to play in the first-ever NBA exhibition in Africa. Initially, however, his mom was extremely worried about safety and security. But with a strong NBA security contingent in tow while the players attend the NBA Africa Basketball Without Borders camp, take a visit to the Apartheid Museum, take part in charities and play in the exhibition game in Johannesburg, Ezeli and his agent, Ugo Udeze, calmed her concerns.

Ezeli says it was a must he attends since it's "bigger than just myself" and he's "paving the way for someone else."

"My mom wasn't against me going back. She was just scared for safety," Ezeli said. "She didn't know how the NBA works and how tight its security is. So that was her main concern because she is my mom first."

Said Patricia Ada Ezeli: "I told him to stay close to the team and be careful because of some of the things that happen in South Africa sometimes. I asked him to be careful."

Ezeli is scheduled to depart from South Africa back to the United States on Aug. 6. He says his trip to Africa won't be complete until he finally steps foot back in Nigeria.

"Even if I can't go right now, the fact that I can go back to Africa is exciting to me," Ezeli said. "There are a lot of things I want to do in the world. With the trouble in Nigeria and things like that, I want to be able to help my country in some way. I don't know how it's going to be, but I want to help my country. But to be able to give back to the continent, this is an exciting first step."


Former Nigerian minister alleged to have stolen $6 billion

A former government minister in Nigeria stole $6bn (£3.8bn) of public money, a state governor has alleged.

Adams Oshiomhole said US officials informed President Muhammadu Buhari of the alleged theft during his visit to Washington last month.

Mr Buhari took office in May, ending the rule of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The PDP has repeatedly denied allegations of widespread corruption during its 16-year rule.

Mr Oshiomhole, who accompanied Mr Buhari to Washington, did not name the minister who allegedly stole the money.

During his visit to the US, Mr Buhari said he had asked the US to help recover $150bn "stolen in the past decade and held in foreign bank accounts".

US officials described the theft during the PDP's rule as "earth-quaking", Mr Oshiomhole, the Edo State governor, told journalists in the Nigerian capital, Abuja.

The PDP said Mr Buhari's visit to Washington was a failure, in particular for failing to obtain "any sort of tangible gain for the fight against terrorism".

Mr Buhari, a former military ruler, was invited to Washington shortly after becoming the first opposition candidate to win a national election in March.

He succeeded President Goodluck Jonathan.

Nigeria is Africa's biggest oil producer, but the majority of its citizens live in poverty. Its oil sector has often been hit by allegations of corruption.


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Video - Boko Haram spreading attacks to Cameroon

A wave of suicide attacks has left dozens of people dead across Nigeria and Cameroon within a week's time. No groups have claimed responsibility for the attacks, but officials suspect they were carried out by Boko Haram.

Former Nigeria Super Eagles Coach Stephen Keshi demanding $5 million pay-out

Former Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi has demanded US$5m (£3.2m) compensation from the Nigeria Football Federation following his dismissal from the job.

Keshi was sacked at the start of July and has been replaced by Sunday Oliseh.

He has written to the NFF through his lawyers demanding the money, claiming damages for defamation.

However, NFF officials believe the claim has no substance and are confident the body will not be forced to compensate Keshi.

BBC Sport understands that Keshi is anxious to protect his reputation and profile in football circles after the NFF disciplinary committee made various allegations against him.

Keshi has yet to take the case to court as he is hoping the matter can be resolved amicably.

The former Togo and Mali coach becomes the second former Nigeria coach in five years to protest against dismissal by the NFF - his predecessor Samson Siasia launched legal action in October 2011 but later withdrew his case and said he wanted to look ahead.

Keshi, a former captain of the national team, led the side to the 2013 Nations Cup title in South Africa and also steered the Super Eagles to the Round of 16 at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

His contract was not renewed after the World Cup but he later returned on a match-by-match deal, which ended in November after the team's failure to reach the 2015 Nations Cup finals.

As caretaker coach, Keshi endured a turbulent 2014, in which he was sacked by the NFF and only reinstalled after intervention from then Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan. The 53-year-old, who returned for his third spell in April, led his side to a 2-0 home win against Chad in a 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in June, but was shown the exit door after less than three months into a two-year deal.


Monday, July 27, 2015

Video - The struggle of buying a house in Abuja, Nigeria

Many Nigerians aren't able to own their homes, as very few banks there offer mortgages. But it's hoped that new government initiatives will be able to boost the rates of home ownership.

Related story: Video - Nigeria's housing scarcity issue

Video - Housing crisis in Abuja, Nigeria

Sunday, July 26, 2015

10 year old female suicide bomber kills 19 in Nigeria

A blast set off by a female suicide bomber tore through a crowded market in the northeastern Nigerian city of Damaturu on Sunday, killing 19 people and wounding 47, the emergency response agency said.

No one claimed responsibility for the explosion but it is the latest attack in the last few weeks that bear the hallmarks of militant Islamist group Boko Haram.

Hundreds of people have been killed in bombings and shootings across northern Nigeria since Muhammadu Buhari, who has promised to crush the group, was inaugurated as president on May 29.

"The death toll has gone up to 19 dead and 47 injured," National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) spokesman Mohammed Kanar said.

The attack took place six days after a suicide bomber killed three policemen at a checkpoint on the outskirts of the city.

And earlier this month at least nine people were killed in the city by a female suicide bomber as worshippers gathered to mark the Muslim holiday Eid al-Fitr.

Boko Haram controlled a swathe of land around the size of Belgium at the end of 2014 but have been pushed out of most of that territory by Nigerian troops in the last few months, with military help from neighbouring Chad, Niger and Cameroon.

Since then the militants have carried out attacks in the north and neighbouring countries.

At least 19 people were killed in a suicide bombing in the northern Cameroonian town of Maroua on Saturday.

Since becoming president, Buhari has made a number of changes aimed at tackling the insurgency, including the replacement of his defence chiefs.

He moved Nigeria's defence command centre to Maiduguri, the birthplace of the jihadi sect, and has worked with counterparts in neighbouring countries to set up a multinational force with headquarters in Chad's capital, N'Djamena.


Friday, July 24, 2015

Video - One year marked without polio in Nigeria

Nigeria has made a vital step towards being declared polio free, after marking a year without a recorded case.

It can now be taken off the list of countries where the disease is endemic, if the World Health Organization (WHO) confirms the results.

Nigeria had struggled to contain polio since some northern states imposed a ban on vaccinations in 2003.

Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only countries to record cases in 2015.

Global health experts are hoping polio can become only the second human infectious disease to be eradicated, after smallpox.

Nigeria will still have to wait a further two years without a recorded case to be certified as polio free.

Polio can only be prevented by vaccination as there is no cure.

The 2003 immunisation ban in some northern states followed allegations by some state governors and religious leaders in the mainly Muslim north that vaccines were contaminated by Western powers to spread sterility and HIV among Muslims.

Independent tests ordered by the Nigerian government in 2004 declared that the vaccines were safe.

But there was still some hostility in a few areas to vaccination drives, with violent attacks against health workers.

The last attack was in 2013 when nine polio vaccinators were shot dead at health centres in the northern Nigerian city of Kano.


Related story: Video - Nigeria reaching a landmark of 6 months without a single case of polio

 Video - Bill Gates partners with Nigeria to erradicate Polio

Nigeria rejects degrees from Online Universities

The National Universities Commission, NUC, on Thursday called on Nigerians to stop patronising online universities and other degree awarding institutions operating online.

Speaking at a press conference, the NUC’s Public Relations officer, Ibrahim Yakasai, said that degrees obtained online are not accepted in the country.

“Nigeria will not recognize online degrees. Online degrees are not accepted in Nigeria at the moment,” he said.

Mr. Yakasai warned Nigerian students and parents against patronising Maryam Abacha American University in Niger Republic.

“We wish to restate that as the only quality assurance agency for universities in Nigeria, the NUC is maintaining its stand that degrees from Maryam Abacha University will not be accepted in Nigeria” he said

He noted that the Commission has been inundated with enquiries from some Nigerian students who had been offered admission to the university.

He said the concerned students were offered admissions on part-time basis with a graduation time of four semesters for programmes like Nursing, Medical Laboratory Science, Public Health among others.

Mr.Yakasai explained that in Nigeria the duration for a fulltime degree programme is not less than three years for direct entry and at least six years for part-time.

He said professional programmes in Science, Engineering and Health Sciences including Nursing, Medical Laboratory Science and Public Health are not offered on part-time basis in Nigeria.

He added that all part- time cross border education in Nigeria are not allowed.

Mr. Yakasai said the Maryam Abacha University admits Nigerian students who do not have the basic requirements to gain admission into the nation’s tertiary institutions in addition to running courses such as Nursing, Medical Laboratory Science on part-time basis which, according to him, is not acceptable.

Mr. Yakasai said all countries are at liberty to accept any qualification they wish to.

Many Nigerians enroll annually in online schools based in the United States and the United Kingdom, and other countries.

Premium Times

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Suicide bombings kill 29 in Gombe, Nigeria

Explosions at two bus stations in the northeastern town of Gombe on Wednesday night killed 29 people, officials said. Nigeria's National Emergency Management Agency called for urgent blood donations to treat a further 105 people injured in the assaults.

The bombings represent the latest in a series of attacks by the insurgent group in Nigeria and across the country’s borders. In neighboring Cameroon on Wednesday, two suicide bombers killed at least 18 people at a marketplace near the border, officials said.

Nigerian authorities have come under increasing pressure to confront the threat of Boko Haram, a group that has waged a brutal campaign against civilians as it seeks to carve out a separate state in northern Nigeria.

More than 2,600 people have been killed by the group since January, according to the Council of Foreign Relation’s Nigeria security tracker.

Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari returned to the capital, Abuja, on Thursday following a four-day visit to the United States. During his visit, he was warmly received by President Barack Obama but failed to get all he wanted.

“Buhari returns to Abuja, with no weapons sale from USA,” said a headline in Nigeria's The News.

Buhari told policymakers at the U.S. Institute for Peace on Wednesday that Nigeria's armed forces are “largely impotent” because they do not possess the appropriate weapons to fight Boko Haram.

He urged the U.S. president and Congress to find ways around the Leahy Law, which prohibits sales of certain weapons to countries whose military are accused of gross human rights violations.

Amnesty International says Nigeria's military is responsible for the deaths of 8,000 detainees — twice as many as Boko Haram's victims in the first four years of its 6-year-old insurgency.

“The application of the Leahy law ... has aided and abetted the Boko Haram terrorist group in the prosecution of its extremist ideology and hate, the indiscriminate killings and maiming of civilians, in raping of women and girls, and in their other heinous crimes,” Buhari said.


Video - President Muhammadu Buhari says U.S. aiding Boko Haram with arms ban

The US has "aided and abetted" the Boko Haram Islamist militant group by refusing to provide weapons to Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari says.

A US law prevents the government from selling arms to countries which fail to tackle human rights abuses.

Mr Buhari met President Barack Obama in Washington on Monday to seek further assistance.

Boko Haram has killed some 10,000 people since 2009 and has also kidnapped hundreds of girls and women.

Last month, human rights group Amnesty International said that some 8,000 men and boys had died in Nigerian military custody after being detained as suspected militants.

The military rejected this allegation, Nigeria's president promised an investigation but there have been no further details.

The US has previously promised some $5m (£3.2m) in military assistance to the regional coalition helping to fight Boko Haram, which has pledged allegiance to Islamic State.

However, Mr Buhari heavily criticised the US, especially the Leahy Law, which links military sales to human rights.

The Nigerian military did "not possess the appropriate weapons and technology which we could have had if the so-called human rights violations had not been an obstacle," he told the United States Institute of Peace on Wednesday.

"Unwittingly, and I dare say unintentionally, the application of the Leahy Law Amendment by the United States government has aided and abetted the Boko Haram terrorists."

In the latest suspected Boko Haram attack, at least 29 people were killed in bomb blasts at two bus stations in the north-eastern city of Gombe on Wednesday.

At least 11 people were earlier killed in the Cameroonian town of Maroua, just over the border from Gombe.

Boko Haram last year seized a huge area of north-eastern Nigeria, before being beaten back by a regional coalition, including Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

Mr Buhari was elected in March, partly on a pledge to defeat Boko Haram.


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Video - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari

Secretary Kerry hosts Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, for a working lunch at Department of State on July 21, 2015.

Video - President Muhammadu Buhari speaks with CNN's Christiane Amanpour

In an exclusive interview during his visit to America, Muhammadu Buhari speaks with Christiane Amanpour about terrorism, corruption, and his meetings with Obama.

Video - Nigerian artists win big at the 2015 MTV Africa Awards

The South African city of Durban played host to the fifth MTV Africa Music Awards over the weekend.

Hosted by American comedian and actor Anthony Anderson, the ceremony celebrates African music, and most importantly, African youth culture.

President Muhammadu Buhari vows to recover Nigeriai's stolen oil money

The 72-year-old head of state, in Washington for talks with US officials, alleged that 250,000 barrels of crude were being stolen every day, with the profits going into individual bank accounts.

Buhari, a former military ruler, has carved a reputation as a no-nonsense crusader against graft and has vowed the corrupt and corruption "will have no place" in his government.

He told an audience at the Nigerian Embassy in Washington on Tuesday evening that the United States and other countries "are helping us to trace such accounts now".

"We will ask that such accounts be frozen and prosecute the persons. The amount involved is mind-boggling. Some former ministers were selling about one million barrels per day," he alleged.

"I assure you that we will trace and repatriate such money and use the documents to prosecute them," he said, according to a statement from his spokesman Femi Adesina.

Buhari, in power since May 29, has pinpointed the state-run oil firm as a key culprit in a pervasive culture of corruption, sacked the entire board and ordered an investigation into its finances.

Last year, a political row ensued between his predecessor Goodluck Jonathan and the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, who alleged $20 billion of oil revenue had gone missing.

The governor, Lamido Sanusi, was later sacked.

Buhari has accused the previous administration of leaving the treasury "virtually empty" and is grappling with how to turn around an oil-dependent economy hit by falling global crude prices.

The focus of looted state revenue has until now been focused on accounts linked to the former military ruler Sani Abacha, who ruled with an iron fist from 1993 until his death in 1998.

Abacha is suspected to have looted the public purse of some $2.2 billion, squirreling away the money in European accounts.

In March last year, the United States said it had ordered a freeze on $458 million in assets stolen by Abacha and his accomplices, calling him "one of the most notorious kleptocrats in memory".

Since then, Switzerland has said it will return some $380 million seized in Luxembourg in 2006, after a deal in which Nigeria accepted to drop a case against Abacha's son.

Times Live

Related story: Nigeria's $20 billion oil leak

Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari ready to negotiate with Boko Haram for kidnapped schoolgirls

Nigeria's new president has said he is willing to negotiate with Boko Haram leaders for the release of more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped last year.

Muhammadu Buhari told CNN it would depend on the credibility of those saying they represented the Islamist militant group.

"Our main objective as a government is to secure these girls safe and safe," he said during a visit to the US.

A previous prisoner-swap attempt for the girls' release ended in failure.

The kidnap of the girls from a boarding school in the north-eastern town of Chibok in April 2014 sparked global outrage.

The mass abduction sparked one of the biggest social media campaigns last year, with the Twitter #BringBackOurGirls being used more than five million times.

Boko Haram, thought to be responsible for more than 10,000 deaths since 2009, has stepped up attacks since Mr Buhari took office in May, vowing to tackle the insurgency "head on".

'Arms dealer arrested'

"If we are convinced that the [Boko Haram] leadership that presented itself can deliver these girls safe and sound, we'll be prepared to negotiate what they want," President Buhari, a former Nigerian military ruler, told the US broadcaster.

"We have to be very careful about the credibility.... [of those] claiming that they can deliver... we are taking our time because we want to bring them safe back to their parents".

He told CNN that bringing security to stabilise Nigeria - both in dealing with the oil militants in the south as well as the Islamist insurgents in the north-east - was his main priority.

"Nothing will work until this country is secure," he said.

In last seven weeks, he has replaced his military chiefs, moved the military headquarters to the north-east and organised for the deployment of a multi-national force to fight Boko Haram by the end of July.

Meanwhile, a Nigerian spokesman has told the BBC that the multi-national force has arrested a suspected arms dealer in Chad who was allegedly supplying weapons to the militants.

Mr Buhari was speaking in Washington after meeting US President Barack Obama and World Bank officials about securing help to tackle Boko Haram.

The US has committed $5 million (£3.2m) to the fight against the insurgents since his election.

And the World Bank has pledged $2.1bn to help rebuild north-eastern parts devastated by the insurgency, Mr Buhari said on Tuesday.

Many villages and towns have been burnt down during six-year insurgency and more than one million people have fled their homes.

The Chibok schoolgirls have not been seen since last May when Boko Haram released a video of around 130 of them gathered together reciting the Koran.

Some of those who were kidnapped have been forced to join the militant group, the BBC was told last month.

Amnesty International estimates that at least 2,000 women and girls have been abducted by Boko Haram since the start of 2014.


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Lufthansa lets go 13 Nigeria trainee pilots due to non-payment of fees

The delay by President Muhamadu Buhari to appoint a new head to drive the Presidential Amnesty Programme, PAP, has begun to take a toll on the beneficiaries of the scheme.

In far away Germany, no fewer than 13 Nigerians from the Niger Delta region undergoing commercial point training at the Lufthansa Flight Training School in Frankfurt, have been sent away for non-payment of fees.

Vanguard learnt that the Nigerian pilots who would have graduated from the prestigious aviation training institution, were axed last Friday due to their inability to pay for sundry fees stipulated in their training manual.

The fees were for accommodation and training logistics.

Apart from that, six of the pilots who had already completed their training had their licenses withheld by the school.

Two of the students sent home for non-payment, had only one test to complete their Programme for Commercial Pilot Licence, one was in his final stage of the CPL test while four had just started their type rating test and would have completed next month.

A source at the PAP confirmed to Vanguard yesterday that there was money in the account of the agency with the Central Bank of Nigeria but that there was no signatory to authorize the payment to the beneficiaries since the exit of the former presidential aide, Kingsley Kuku.

President Buhari is yet to name a Special Adviser on Niger Delta, who doubles as the chairman of the PAP and is the chief executive of the agency.

Before leaving office in May this year, Kuku had written PMB to either allow him to pay the May financial obligations to avoid a breakdown of law and order or appoint a new signatory for the account.

However, no appointment has been made and the ex-militants who collect a monthly salary of N65,000 and the students who are spread around major universities around the world and Nigeria, are suffering, as a result.


Video - Barack Obama pledges support to Nigeria's fight against Boko Haram

US President Barack Obama has pledged to support his Nigerian counterpart Muhammadu Buhari in the fight against Islamist militant group Boko Haram.

In the first meeting between the two since Mr Buhari's election, Mr Obama said the Nigerian leader had a "very clear agenda" for defeating extremism.

The US has committed $5 million (£3.2m; €4.6m) to the fight against Boko Haram since Mr Buhari came to power.

The jihadists have killed thousands in north-east Nigeria since 2009.

Speaking after the two met at the White House, Mr Obama called Nigeria one of the most important countries on the African continent and praised Mr Buhari for tackling corruption, an issue which compromised Washington's relationship with the Nigerian leader's predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan.

Boko Haram has carried out attacks in northern Nigeria since its insurgency began in 2009, most notably the April 2014 kidnapping of 276 Nigerian school girls who are still missing.

President Obama's wife Michelle got involved in an online campaign to draw attention to the girls' plight, #BringBackOurGirls, and the US sent surveillance flights over Nigeria to help locate them.

However, the US refuses to sell weapons to Nigeria because of concerns over its army's human rights record.


Monday, July 20, 2015

2 dead in suicide bomb attack in Damaturu, Nigeria

At least two people were killed on Monday after a car suicide bomb detonated at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Damaturu, capital of Yobe state in northern Nigeria, witnesses and a hospital source said.

The checkpoint is along a major highway that connects the city with Borno state capital Maiduguri. The road and villages along it are frequently hit by bombs or raids by suspected members of Islamist jihadi group Boko Haram.


113 vessels banned from lifting crude oil from Nigeria

President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the immediate ban of 113 crude oil vessels from doing business in any of the 27 oil terminals within the length and breadth of the Nigerian territorial waters.

The ban followed a directive contained in a memo dated July 15, 2015 by the Group General Manager, Crude Oil Marketing Division, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Gbenga Komolafe, to all terminal operators.

Copies of the memo were also sent the Director of the Department of Petroleum Resources; Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration & Safety Agency, and the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service.

No reason was stated in the memo why the ban was imposed on the affected vessels.

However, industry sources familiar with the development said the ban may not be unconnected with certain discrepancies between the volume of crude oil lifted by the affected vessels from various Nigerian terminals and the volume eventually discharged abroad to buyers.

The source, who pleaded not to be named, as he was not authorised to speak officially on the issue, said the NNPC had faced the challenge of explaining huge differences between the volume of crude oil lifted from Nigeria by these vessels and what they actually delivered to customers abroad.

Considering the huge volumes involved, the source said it was difficult to rule out high level connivance to steal the country’s crude oil using the affected vessels, a development that costs the Nigerian government huge losses in revenue.

Since his assumption of office, President Buhari, himself a former Minister of Petroleum, has met the top hierarchy of NNPC management and the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to express his concern over the huge impact of crude oil theft on the country’s economy.

The President has also met with the leadership of the Nigeria Customs Service and the Navy to emphasise the need for them to step up their processes to ensure close scrutiny of all NNPC’s operations at all terminals within the country’s territorial waters.

Some of the affected vessels include MV Eliza, with international maritime organisation registration, IMO, No. 9387578 with MV Happines, with IMO No. 9212905; MV Progress, with IMO No. 9180152; MV New Harmony (No. 963207); MV Cosgrace Lake (No. 9294587) and MV Plata Glory (No. 9172674).

Others include MV Humanity (No. 9180281); MV Scf Shanghai (No. 9325968); MV Tenyo (No. 9222443); MV Astro Challenge (No. 9237072); MV Maran Thetis (No. 94214427); MV BW Bauhinia (No. 9315070); MV Dream (No.9356893); MV Xin Dan Yag (No. 96140048) and MV Desim (No. 9395305).

Premium Times

Friday, July 17, 2015

10 year old girl and erderly woman carry out suicide bombings in Nigeria - 49 dead

A 10-year-old girl and an elderly woman carried out two suicide bombings Friday targeting Muslim prayer grounds in Nigeria's northeastern Yobe state, an army spokesman said.

They detonated their devices at screening areas set up by security forces outside two sites where worshippers were gathering for prayers in the town of Damaturu, said Col. Sani Kukasheka Usman, killing nine people and injuring 18.

Police spokesman Gbadegesin Joshua Toyin had earlier said at least 12 people were killed in the blasts as well as the two attackers.

A day earlier, two simultaneous bombings ripped through a market in the city of Gombe, capital of neighboring Gombe state, killing at least 48 people and injuring 58 others, a Red Cross official said.

One of the blasts was caused by a female suicide bomber, the other by a bomb hidden at the market, the official said.

The deadly attacks struck a region where violence blamed on the Islamic militant group Boko Haram has killed hundreds of people in recent weeks.
Highway barricaded

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the latest attacks. But Boko Haram terrorists have previously carried out suicide and bombing attacks on bus stations and markets in Gombe and other northern cities.

Damaturu, which is about 185 kilometers (115 miles) northeast of Gombe, has repeatedly found itself the target of attacks tied to Boko Haram in the past.

Earlier this week, gunmen barricaded a highway that links Damaturu to another town and killed more than 20 motorists, a lawmaker said.

Security forces responded immediately to Friday's blasts in Damaturu, and the situation is "currently under control," an army statement said.

"The Yobe State Governor, Ibrahim Geidam and the Chief of Army Staff, Major General Tukur Yusuf Buratai have (sympathized) with the victims and the people of the state and urged residents to stay calm and be security conscious at all times," it said.


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Nigeria govenment to shut down pirate signal of Radio Biafra

Nigeria's government has vowed to shut down an illegal radio station operated by people sympathetic to the breakaway state of Biafra.

The ministry of information said it has "successfully jammed the signals" of the station.

However, the BBC's Abdussalam Ahmed in Enugu says Radio Biafara is still broadcasting.

It is not clear where it is based but it mainly broadcasts to the Igbo-speaking south-east of the country.

The first republic of Biafra declared its independence from Nigeria in May 1967, but was eventually defeated after a three-year civil war that cost more than one million lives.

Our correspondent says the station hosts phone-in programmes with listeners calling to talk about issues affecting their region and their desire to break away from Nigeria.

It also attacks and ridicules President Muhammadu Buhari and other government officials.

Although the Biafra uprising was quelled by the military, a group called the Movement for the Actualisation of a Sovereign State of Biafra (Massob) has attracted the support many young people in the region.

They feel they have been discriminated against by those in power in Abuja and demand independence.Several of their leaders and sympathisers have been detained by authorities and accused of treason.


Video - Former Super Eagle Sunday Oliseh confirmed as new Nigeria football coach

Nigeria have appointed former Super Eagles midfielder and captain Sunday Oliseh as their new coach.

The 40-year-old has signed a three-year deal and succeeds Stephen Keshi, who was sacked at the start of July.

"We have the talent to change our fortunes, to regain the respect we once had and match that with results," Oliseh told BBC Sport.

"This is the biggest job in African football. With everyone's support we can get the Super Eagles flying again."

Oliseh, who earned 63 caps for Nigeria and helped his country win the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations and Olympic gold in 1996, takes the helm at a time when Nigeria are struggling on and off the field.

Political fighting within the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and poor results on the pitch - culminating in the Super Eagles failing to qualify to defend their 2013 Nations Cup title this year - have left Nigerian football in a mess.

The former Borussia Dortmund, Ajax and Juventus player is well aware of the size of the task he faces.

"I am here today because I believe in the NFF and the big project before us. We had a passionate discussion and the result is the mandate to manage Nigeria," he said.

"The job doesn't start tomorrow, it starts now, we need the support of everyone because together we can make our country great."

A member of the 'golden generation' of Nigerian football stars - alongside Jay-Jay Okocha, Nwankwo Kanu and Finidi George - Oliseh has been working as a pundit, sport consultant and Fifa Technical committee member.

He becomes the fourth player from the class of 1994 to manage the Super Eagles after Austin Eguavoen, Samson Siasia and Keshi.

While Oliseh has little management experience, having coached only Belgian lower league side Vervietois between 2008 and 2009, he does hold the Uefa Pro Licence and the NFF have every faith he can handle the challenge of coaching the Super Eagles.

"Oliseh has all the necessary knowledge and exposure we're looking for to take the country's football to a great height," said NFF president Amaju Pinnick.

"He shares our vision, received the approval of our sports ministry, the blessings of the NFF technical committee and executive board."

Oliseh, who will be assisted by Belgian coach Jean Francois Losciuto, will immediately begin the task of preparing the Super Eagles for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier away to Tanzania in the first week of September, as well as an international friendly days later.

"There is no time to waste. The team has important matches in the next few weeks and it is imperative that Oliseh starts work immediately," NFF General Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi said.

Nigeria beat Chad 2-0 in their Group G opener in June and are second in the table behind Egypt on goal difference.


30 dead in Boko Haram triple attack in Nigeria

Militants believed to be with Boko Haram killed at least 33 people in three separate attacks in northeastern Nigeria, a lawmaker, residents and civilian vigilantes who oppose the Islamist terror group said Wednesday.

All the attacks took place in Borno state, which has been among the areas most targeted in recent years by Boko Haram.

The deadliest happened around 5 p.m. (noon ET) Tuesday, when gunmen barricaded a highway linking Maiduguri, the Borno state capital, and Damaturu, the capital of neighboring Yobe state, and killed more than 20 motorists, federal lawmaker Mohammed Sanda said.

These attackers -- who Sanda said were Boko Haram militants -- then stormed the village of Ngamdu, setting homes on fire and spurring residents to flee, said the lawmaker said.

Boko Haram gunmen also ambushed and killed eight people traveling on a lorry, or large truck, from Maiduguri to the town of Baga, which is on the shore of Lake Chad, local vigilantes said.

Those on the vehicle had fled Baga due to the militant group's bloody advance and were heading home after Nigeria's military reclaimed their hometown. They were about 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) away when gunmen attacked around 4 p.m. Tuesday, shot the eight passengers in the head, then fled into the nearby bush, according to the vigilantes.

And in Damasak -- a town taken by Boko Haram last November that's just a few miles away from Niger -- dozens of militants burned structures and killed at least five people, residents said. This attack came shortly after Chadian troops, which had warned people to evacuate, pulled out of Damasak.


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Video - The war between farmers and cattle herders in Nigeria

Farmers have greeted the new season in Nigeria with hope, but the mood has since turned to fear and suspicion. Violent clashes between indigenous farmers and cattle herders have killed thousands over the decades. This year, the killings and reprisals have already started.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Nigeria president Muhammadu Buhari sacks army, navy and air force chiefs

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari has sacked the army, navy and air force chiefs, his spokesman has told the BBC.

Mr Buhari is expected to announce their replacements soon.

This move does not come as a surprise, as the president has repeatedly criticised the military's inability to defeat Islamist militants Boko Haram.

After losing most of their territory earlier this year, they have recently launched a series of deadly guerrilla attacks, killing more than 250 people.
Africa Live: Latest news updates

The new military chiefs will be expected to work closely with neighbours Chad, Cameroon and Niger as the countries join forces to tackle Boko Haram.

The group has also stepped up attacks on these countries.

At least 12 civilians were killed in Cameroon in a suspected Boko Haram suicide attack on Sunday evening, a military source told the BBC.

Two soldiers also died along with two bombers who blew themselves up in Fotokol, near the border with Nigeria.

Chad will be the headquarters of an expanded Nigeria-led regional force of around 7,500 troops.

Its formation has gained momentum since President Buhari took office in May.

On Saturday morning, 15 people died in the main market in Chad's capital, N'Djamena, when a man dressed in a burka blew himself up.

Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the attack.

The BBC's Nigeria correspondent, Will Ross, says just hours before his sacking, army chief Lt Gen Kenneth Minima said the upsurge in violence was the result of military success against the jihadists.

Lt Gen Minima suggested Boko Haram no longer had the capacity to fight the army and so had resorted to attacking soft targets with bomb blasts.


Related story: President Muhammadu Buhari dissolves state oil company board

Video - Nigeria teenage brothers that developed the crocodile browser

Nigerian brothers Osine and Anesi have developed an Android web browser. Inspired by Google Chrome, they named their browser Crocodile Browser Lite. It has been described as a functional, fast browser for feature and low end phones. Focus on Africa went to meet them at their home in Lagos.

5 killed in shooting at Rivers state Nigeria

At least five people were shot and killed on Saturday evening in a small community a few kilometres (miles) from Nigeria's largest refinery in the oil hub Port Harcourt in Rivers state, a spokesman police and local leaders said on Sunday.

Gunmen on motorbikes rode around Agbonchia for about an hour shooting at people, youth leader Osaro Nwoke and Simeon Awaji, a local council official said.

Police spokesman, Ahmad Mohammad, said that five people had been killed and that 11 people connected to the attack had been arrested, one on Saturday and the others on Sunday.

"We arrested 10 people today ... items recovered included a Lexus jeep, two motorcylces and ... ammunition," Mohammad said.

The delta region periodically sees kidnappings and shoot-outs between local gangs.


Friday, July 10, 2015

Oil-Pipeline blast kills 12 in Nigeria

Twelve people died and three were injured in an explosion during repair work at an Eni SpA crude oil pipeline in Nigeria.

The victims worked on a maintenance team for a local service company, Rome-based Eni said in a statement Friday. The Tebidaba-Clough Creek pipeline in the Niger delta was previously “damaged by acts of sabotage.” The company said it is still investigating the cause of Thursday’s blast.

Accidents are common in Nigeria, where pipelines are often breached in attempts to pilfer crude. The incidents interrupt oil and gas flows, affecting Nigeria’s energy exports and revenue for companies including Eni, Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Chevron Corp. Thursday’s incident was the worst since January 2012, when an explosion at Chevron’s Funiwa gas field killed two workers, according to a spokesman for a local environmental group.

“The dead were unidentifiable,” said Alagoa Morris of Environmental Rights Action, the Nigerian affiliate of Friends of the Earth. “Two people that were seriously wounded were rushed to Port Harcourt last night for medical attention. They were badly burnt but they were still alive.”

Eni had 13 incidents related to pipelines and oil wells in Nigeria in May including theft, pipelines being cut using a hacksaw and equipment failure, according to the company’s website. Seventeen were reported in April and 14 in March.

Hundreds have been killed in Nigerian pipeline accidents in the past decade. An explosion at a vandalized oil pipeline in Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city, started a fire that killed at least 200 people and burned many more in December 2006. In May that year, about 200 people were killed when another oil pipeline exploded near Lagos.

Nigeria, Africa’s biggest oil producer, loses an estimated 300,000 barrels a day to criminal gangs that tap crude from pipelines that criss-cross the southern, oil-rich delta for local refining or sale to tankers waiting offshore, according to state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corp.


Video - Nigeria's dairy industry

Some economists believe that Nigeria's dairy industry has the potential to be a major source of jobs and revenue for the country. Dairy farmers, however, say the government isn't doing enough to develop the industry. Farmers complain of facing major problems getting their products to the market.

Video - Nigeria electricity crisis worsens

How is it possible to have a country which is veritably swimming in crude oil but where less than half the population has electricity? That's the situation in Nigeria, according to figures from the World Bank. Residents of Africa's most populous nation live with daily power cuts and most rely on generators for their everyday needs. The country is touted as an emerging economy to watch, but can it fix its problems of infrastructure and oil supply in order to meet its touted potential?

Related story: Video - Electricity shortage threatening Nigeria's economy

Volkswagen restarts car manufacturing in Nigeria

Years after vehicle assembly operations got suspended by Volkswagen of Nigeria Ltd (VON), the firm on Tuesday, unveiled brand new Jetta, CC and Amarok models to kick-start full operations in Nigeria.

Stating its commitment to provide customers, particularly Nigerians with not only the right but also consistently the best choice while ensuring that the Nigerian automobile market becomes viable, the official representative of Volkswagen in Nigeria, Stallion group said that it would continue to work harder to make sure that cars become affordable in Nigeria.

Speaking at the event, Chairman of Stallion group Sunil Vaswani said: “This is a great moment for Stallion in partnering with a world leading global brand like Volkswagen.

We are immensely pleased to bring back the proud legacy of Nigeria automotive industry – the Volkswagen brand that once was indigenously produced at the same premises.” According to him, Stallion is committed to investing and expanding its operations in the automotive value chain across multiple global brands and paving the way for Nigeria to establish itself as a regional leader in the automobile eco system.

The Director-General, National Automotive Council (NAC), Aminu Jalal, in a speech delivered by the Executive Director, National Automotive Council, Lukman Mamudu at the event commended the efforts of the organisation, saying, “we delivered and they also delivered” Jalal said the automobile industry is a great tool for industrial development in any nation, particularly in a developing country like Nigeria, stating further that the initiative would drastically reduce unemployment problem in Nigeria.

According to him, the development in the automotive sector would enable Nigeria to create employment, acquire technology for industrialization and reduce pressure on the country’s balance of payment position resulting from escalating vehicle import bill. Jalal stated: “The response to the policy has exceeded our expectations. Nissan, Hyundai, Kia, Peugeot and Renault vehicles are now assembled locally.

Toyota, Ford and many others are concluding their feasibility studies with a view to setting up assembly operations. Our focus has accordingly shifted to the development of local content.” Leader of the Volkswagen Group delegation from Germany, Ratz Wolfgang, noted that the event marks the revival of the assembly of Volkswagen vehicles in Nigeria, stressing that Volkswagen has returned to Nigeria to continue a long history that began in the 1970s.

As the largest market in Sub Sahara Africa, Wolfgang noted that Nigeria remained strategic to the firm as Volkswagen seeks new opportunities to expand its market reach across the globe.

“We are certain that further growth is possible, which is why Volkswagen is constantly searching for new opportunities to increase global market and sales potential and we appreciate the fact that we are able to strengthen our business relationship with our professional partner Stallion,” he said.

The Guardian

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari meets with campaigners for the kidnapped schoolgirls

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday held his first meeting with campaigners calling for the release of more than 200 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram militants in the northeastern town of Chibok last year.

The militant Islamist group, whose six-year insurgency has seen thousands killed in Africa's most populous nation and top oil producer, caused an international outcry when it took the girls from secondary school dormitories in April 2014.

Buhari praised members of the Bring Back Our Girls group for their efforts to prevent the missing children being forgotten.

"Nobody in Nigeria or outside could have missed your consistency and persistence," said Buhari during the meeting at his presidential villa in the capital, Abuja.

"I think you will agree that the present government takes the issue very seriously," he said, adding that the military was working with neighboring countries to ensure a regional task force could fight the insurgency.

Earlier this year an Amnesty International report said that Boko Haram had kidnapped at least 2,000 Nigerian women and girls since the start of 2014, many of whom were sexually abused or trained to fight.

In a statement, the Bring Back Our Girls campaigners said the safe return of the schoolgirls would "amount to the strongest statement that our government has respect for the sanctity and dignity of every Nigerian life".

The frequency of attacks by suspected Boko Haram militants in northern states has increased since the president vowed in his inauguration speech of May 29 that the group would be crushed.

More than 200 people died in a string of attacks last week and dozens more have been killed in northern Nigeria and Chad in the last few days.

Boko Haram, which has been trying to establish a state adhering to strict sharia law in northeast Nigeria, controlled an area larger than Belgium at the end of 2014.

Nigerian and regional forces pushed the jihadists out of most of that territory in the last few months but the militants have a last stronghold in the Sambisa forest reserve and, with the increase in attacks, appear to be growing in strength.


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Only one Nigeria univeristy in Africa's top 10 universities

Only one Nigerian university has made it to the list of top 10 African universities, a rating that has six South African schools.

In a ranking released Tuesday, Nigeria’s University of Ibadan came a distant eighth on the top 10 list, beaten by schools from South Africa, Kenya and Egypt.

With its performance, the University of Ibadan naturally came tops as Nigeria’s best, according to the research conducted by Journals Consortium.

The result shows how the Nigerian education system struggles against its African peers.

The ranking was based on research publications and citations from 2010 to 2014 as well as visibility on the Internet, Journals Consortium said.

The University of Cape Town in South Africa was graded the continent’s best while Cairo University in Egypt came second.

Another South African institution, University of Pretoria, ranked third while the University of Nairobi, in Kenya, ranked fourth.

University of South Africa was ranked fifth leaving Witwatersrand University at the sixth position and Stellenbosch at seventh.

The University of Nigeria, Nsukka, came 13th in Africa – apparently Nigeria’s second best.

While the University of Ibadan started off as University College in 1948, the University of Nigeria was founded in 1955 and was formally opened in 1960.

Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, ABU, ranked 18th in Africa and third in Nigeria, while the University of Lagos ranked 20th in Africa, and fourth in Nigeria.

Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU, ranked 24th in Africa, and fifth in Nigeria while University of Benin ranked 27th in Africa and sixth in Nigeria.

University of Ilorin was rated seventh best in Nigeria but 31st in Africa while the University of Port Harcourt ranked eighth in Nigeria, and 36th in Africa.

Nnamdi Azikiwe University stood at ninth position in Nigeria, and 42nd in Africa, leaving the University of Calabar as 10th in Nigeria but 43rd in Africa respectively.

“University of Ibadan has always maintained that rank status from as back as I know, and am proud to be a product of that University,” Bayo Aladejo, an alumnus of the University of Ibadan said.

Premium Times

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Former Super Eagle Sunday Oliseh in talks to become new Nigeria football coach

 The 40-year-old former midfielder, who captained Nigeria and won 63 caps, is set to be appointed in the coming days.

The NFF have acted quickly to fill the vacancy following the sacking of Stephen Keshi on Saturday.

Oliseh was part of the Nigeria squad that won the Africa Cup of Nations in 1994 and Olympic gold two years later.

He also played at the World Cup in 1994 and 1998, helping the Super Eagles to the last-16 at both tournaments and in the latter he scored a memorable winner as Nigeria shocked Spain 3-2 in a group match.

A member of the "golden generation" of Nigerian football stars, alongside Jay-Jay Okocha, Nwankwo Kanu and Finidi George, Oliseh has been working as a pundit, sport consultant and Fifa Technical committee member.

Oliseh has little management experience, having coached only Belgian lower league side Vervietois between 2008 and 2009, but he does hold the Uefa Pro Licence.

He would take over from NFF technical director Shaibu Amodu and assistant coach Salisu Yusuf, who are are currently in charge on an interim basis.


President Muhammadu Buhari approves $2.1bn bailout for bankrupt Nigerian states

At least 12 of Nigeria's 36 states are said to owe their workers more than $550m in salaries and allowances.

Some workers have not been paid for seven months.

The government revenue, which depends largely on crude oil exports, has fallen sharply in recent months because of a fall in global oil prices.

Last month, Mr Buhari said the treasury was "virtually empty".

He has vowed to recover billions of dollars "stolen" under previous administrations.

The president won elections in March on a promise to tackle corruption, seen as one of the country's biggest problems.

Nigeria is Africa's biggest oil producer but much of the revenue is said to be stolen.

A government statement said the money would come through soft loans from the central bank, and dividends paid by the state-owned natural gas agency.


25 confirmed dead in bomb blast in Zaria, Nigeria

A suspected suicide bomber targeted civil servants at a government building in the city, witnesses said.

Emergency workers have rushed to the scene to help evacuate the wounded.

Militant Islamist group Boko Haram, which often targets northern Nigeria, has stepped up attacks since President Muhammudu Buhari took office in May.

The group has not yet commented on the latest attack.

It came a day after police chief Solomon Arase announced new measures to curb the rise in bombings. They include:

. banning street trading and hawking in the capital, Abuja

. strengthening security at all mosques and churches countrywide.

Latest African news updates

Witnesses in Zaria said people including primary school teachers had been queuing up seeking employment under Mr Buhari's administration when the bomb detonated in Zaria's Sabon Gari district.

"We call on our citizens to be vigilant and avoid crowded places like markets, mosques, churches and motor parks in the next few weeks," Kaduna state governor Nasir El-Rufa'i said on his Twitter account.

Mr El-Rufa'i said the government was working with the security agencies to end the wave of militant attacks in the country.

Buhari blamed

More than 200 people were killed in attacks blamed on Boko Haram last week.

On Sunday two bombings in Jos, Plateau state, left at least 44 people dead.

On Monday, a young girl believed to be just 13 was killed when explosives strapped to her body detonated near a mosque in Kano city, the biggest in northern Nigeria.

Some analysts link the upsurge in bombings to Mr Buhari's decision to remove military checkpoints countrywide on the grounds that internal security was the responsibility of police, reports the BBC's Bashir Sa'ad Abdullahi from Abuja.

Plateau state governor Simon Lalong has called on Mr Buhari to reverse his decision, saying checkpoints made it more difficult for militants to move around.

Meanwhile, military spokesman Colonel Sani Usman told the BBC that 100 men, 24 women and dozens of children accused of links to Boko Haram had been freed.

Some has spent months in custody but investigations revealed that they were innocent, Col Usman added.

Regional forces have been battling Boko Haram in north-eastern Nigeria, and have recaptured all major cities and towns from the group.


Video - Nigeria to receive $75m to reduce child birth mortality

The United Nation's population agency is giving $75m to boost reproductive health services in Nigeria. Some of the funds will be used to improve access to family planning to help reduce the high number of deaths during pregnancy and childbirth.

Teenage girl attempts suicide bomb attack in Kano, Nigeria

A teenager blew herself up near a mosque on Monday night in an apparent suicide attack attempt in Kano, Nigeria's second-largest city, police said.

Police spokesman Magaji Majiya said the girl's target was likely the Umar Ibn Al-Khattab mosque and that she was the only casualty.

The attempted attack bore the hallmarks of the Islamist militant group, Boko Haram, that was behind a wave of violence last week that killed 200 people. On Sunday, at least 44 people died in two attacks in the central city of Jos.

Kano has not been attacked since February this year when two suicide bombers struck a bus station killing at least 10 people.

On Monday in Kano, two witnesses said they saw the girl crossing a road before they heard a loud bang.

Boko Haram has been waging an insurgency since 2009 to establish a state in Nigeria's northeast adhering to strict sharia law. Boko Haram took over large swathes of territory last year but have since been repelled from most parts by Nigerian forces with the help of Chad, Niger and Cameroon.


Another Bitcoin service BitX launches in Nigeria

BitX has launched services in Nigeria, a move that will enable local users to access the company's bitcoin wallet, exchange and API services.

The announcement comes roughly six months after the emerging markets-focused bitcoin services provider launched in Indonesia. Both countries had been on BitX's list of planned markets since April 2014.

BitX CEO Marcus Swanepoel expressed his optimism that Nigeria would soon become one of the company's leading markets due to its "fast-growing" and "highly entrepreneurial economy".

Swanepoel said:

"We’ve been inundated with requests for bitcoin products and services from consumers, developers and Nigerian businesses. The business aspect is particularly interesting and we’re currently working with a number of these businesses to bring some exciting new products to the market."

Nigeria notably became the largest economy in Africa in April 2013, surpassing South Africa with a gross domestic product (GDP) of $509.9bn compared to South Africa's $350.6bn. However, with a population of 170 million (compared to South Africa's 52.98 million), economists have argued the country's economy is still underperforming.

One factor that may hold back the utility of bitcoin, though, is the relative lack of smartphone penetration, which mobile operator interest group the GSM Association estimates at just 10-15% of mobile subscribers.

The announcement will nonetheless find BitX joining ICE3x as the latest exchange to try and galvanize bitcoin user interest in the Nigerian market.

ICE3x launched its services in January and now offers an order-book exchange that allows Nigerian naira to be exchanged for digital currencies such as bitcoin and litecoin.


Related stories: Bitcoin interest grows in Nigeria

Bitcoin exchange market coming to Nigeria

Local Bitcoin Remittance service Bitstake launches in Nigeria

Monday, July 6, 2015

Video - Council want former Finance Minister Okonjo Iweala investigated

A war of words is currently brewing in Nigeria between the new government of President Muhammadu Buhari and the country's former Finance Minister, and it's all about money from the the excess crude account.

Nigeria Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi sacked

The former Nigeria international, who coached his country to victory in the African Cup of Nations in 2013 and into the last 16 of the World Cup in Brazil last year before losing to France, has been replaced by Shuaibu Amodu, who was appointed Nigeria's technical director last week.

The statement issued by the NFF said it had reviewed Keshi's "actions and inactions" and found he lacked "the required commitment to achieve the federation's objectives as set out in the coach's employment contract."

It added it had "decided to exercise its option to summarily terminate the employment contract of Mr. Stephen Keshi with the federation with immediate effect".

An NFF disciplinary committee headed by Chris Green has been investigating allegations that Keshi applied to coach Ivory Coast while under contract with Nigeria.

Keshi, 53, took over the national side in 2011 and led them to a long-awaited third African title two years later.

The charismatic coach then quit the day after their 1-0 victory over Burkina Faso in the final, only to change his mind a day later.

The same thing happened after the World Cup last year when he quit and was then reinstated before threatening to leave again last October after a poor run of results as they failed to qualify for this year's African Cup of Nations.

Keshi is the only African coach to qualify two African teams for the World Cup finals -- Togo in 2006, as well as Nigeria. He played 64 times for his country and spent the peak years of his playing career in Belgium in the 1980s and 1990s.

Times Live

Two bomb attacks leaves many dead in Jos, Nigeria

Two bomb attacks on the central Nigerian city of Jos have left at least 44 people dead, the authorities say.

A restaurant and a mosque were targeted on Sunday night.

No-one has claimed responsibility but militant group Boko Haram has attacked Jos before, even though it is not in north-east Nigeria where the Islamists normally operate.

The blasts are the latest in a series of deadly attacks in recent days which have seen more than 200 people killed.

The attacks came shortly after the Ramadan fast was broken, with both sites full of people.

Of the 44 dead, 23 were killed at the restaurant and 21 at the mosque, Nigeria's National Emergency Management Agency (Nema) says.

There are also 47 people being treated for injuries, but emergency officials are still gathering information, so the figures may rise.

The blast at the restaurant was caused by a bomb that had been planted, whereas the mosque was attacked by a suicide bomber and that explosion was preceded by gunfire, the BBC's Ishaq Khalid reports.

Our correspondent says that many believe that the mosque's imam, who was preaching at the time, may have been the target.

Sheikh Muhammad Sani Yahya Jingir, who survived the attack, is known for preaching against Boko Haram and has written a book, which criticises the group, called Boko Halal (Western education is permitted - Boko Haram means Western education is forbidden).

He has survived a previous assassination attempt at his home and is seen as one of the most influential clerics in Nigeria.
Why the upsurge in attacks? Will Ross, BBC News, Nigeria

It is not unusual for there to be a heightened risk of jihadist attacks during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.

Boko Haram may be trying to deepen its ties with the jihadists fighting in Iraq and Syria who had called for "a month of disasters for the infidels".

Many of the recent attacks have been by suicide bombers - often young women.

Where the bombs are being made and where the bombers are being brainwashed is unclear but the Nigerian intelligence and security services need to do far more to stop the bloodshed.

Once again the range of targets is alarming and on this latest bloody Sunday a church and a mosque were bombed within hours of each other.

Jos has seen several attacks blamed on Boko Haram, including an incident in February when at least 15 died and in December last year when more than 30 people died.

The city has in the past seen clashes between Muslim and Christian communities and some have suggested that Boko Haram is looking to exploit these fault-lines.

On Friday, Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari described the recent attacks as "inhuman and barbaric".

In power now for just over a month, the president was elected on the pledge to defeat Boko Haram.

He said they were "the last desperate acts of fleeing agents of terrorism".

Boko Haram took control of a large area of north-eastern Nigeria last year and declared a caliphate - a state governed in accordance with Islamic law.

However, Nigeria's military, backed by troops from neighbouring countries, has recaptured most of the territory.

President Buhari has called for an expanded regional force to be deployed more rapidly.


Friday, July 3, 2015

Boko Haram kill 150 in Nigeria

Nearly 150 people are reported to have been killed by suspected Boko Haram Islamist militants in attacks in Nigeria's north-eastern Borno state.

Eyewitnesses say the gunmen stormed the village of Kukawa near Lake Chad on Wednesday evening, killing 97 people, including women and children.

On Tuesday, the militants shot dead 48 men after they had finished prayers in two villages near the town of Monguno, a resident told the BBC.

The women are said to have been spared.

Monguno was recently recaptured from Boko Haram.

At least 23 people died in the town last month after a confiscated Boko Haram bomb exploded during celebrations to mark the successful military operation against the Islamist group.

According to Amnesty International, at least 17,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed since 2009, when Boko Haram launched its violent uprising to try to impose militant Islamist rule.
'They spared nobody'

More than 50 militants stormed Kukawa on Wednesday, eyewitness Babami Alhaji Kolo was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency.

"The terrorists first descended on Muslim worshippers in various mosques who were observing the Maghrib prayer shortly after breaking their fast," he said.

As a minute's silence is held to remember the 38 people killed in Tunisia one week ago, Nigerians woke up to a different kind of silence following the reported killing of close to 150 people in Borno State. Official silence. Nothing from the military and nothing from the government, whilst the state-owned TV station led its morning news bulletin with a report on a diplomatic appointment.

No-one knows how many people were shot or had their throats slit by the jihadists who targeted several villages on Tuesday and Wednesday - it is impossible for people who are fleeing for their lives or rushing the injured away in wheelbarrows to stay back and count.

The fact that it took as many as 48 hours for any news of the atrocities to reach the main city in Borno State, Maiduguri, points to just how cut off and vulnerable these communities are.

Boko Haram may no longer hold territory but there is little to celebrate when large swathes of the north-east are clearly not under any kind of government control.

"They... opened fire on the worshippers who were mostly men and young children.

"They spared nobody. In fact, while some of the terrorists waited and set most of the corpses on fire, others proceeded to houses and shot indiscriminately at women who were preparing food," he said.

A resident of Monguno told BBC Hausa he had heard gun shots at one of the two villages attacked on Tuesday and saw it on fire.

"They were praying in the mosque when Boko Haram attackers descended on the village. They waited till they finished the prayers. They gathered them in one place, separated men from women and opened fire on them," he said.

"Many died, some escaped. They then set the village on fire. I saw five victims with bullet wounds who managed to escape. They were brought to [Monguno] on wheelbarrows, before they were transferred to vehicles that took them to hospitals."

The politician representing the area, Mohammed Tahir Monguno, said jihadist fighters who had recently been flushed out of their stronghold in the Sambisa forest had settled in these villages close to Lake Chad.

He said that before the attack, he had notified the military of the jihadists' presence, warning that the villages were not safe.

These are the worst Boko Haram attacks for many weeks, BBC Nigeria correspondent Will Ross reports.

The group has carried out frequent bombings since it was weakened by a regional military offensive to recapture most of the territory it had controlled.

Nigeria's new President Muhammadu Buhari says his main priority is improving the regional effort to defeat Boko Haram.

The group is still holding many women, girls and children captive, including 219 schoolgirls it kidnapped from a school in Chibok in April last year.


Thursday, July 2, 2015

Outbreack of Cholera in Nigeria kills 15

At least 15 people, mostly children, have been killed by a cholera outbreak in Nigeria's north central Plateau state, according to a lawmaker.

"It is true that as of Monday, around 15 people have died from a new cholera outbreak in Langtang," Godfrey Lamdip, a lawmaker from the area, told Anadolu Agency over the phone on Wednesday afternoon.

"I have brought this issue to the attention of my colleagues and we have liaised with the state government to intervene to address the outbreak," Lamdip said.

The lawmaker added that a government delegation has visited Kantam and Filam, the two villages affected by the outbreak.

"Many people have now been admitted for treatment so we are on top of the situation," he said.

Joseph Wuyep, a resident of Kantam, said at least nine people had been killed in the village since the outbreak started two weeks ago.

"The problem is the water. We drink polluted water. We do not have good water and we have called on the government to help us. We drink from the stream which is polluted by animals, among other things," Wuyep, a school teacher, told Anadolu Agency.

"Six of the nine victims are children who died after protracted defecation and vomiting," he said.

Cholera outbreaks are very common in remote parts of Nigeria, where safe drinkable water is hard to come by and many residents make do with water from rivers which are often polluted by grazing cattle.

Most locals also wash their clothes in the same streams from which they drink.

Experts say poverty and poor hygiene are the most prominent causes of the repeated outbreaks, especially in the north and some parts of the south.

Dozens were killed in a number of cholera outbreaks in many parts of the northern and southeast regions last year.

World Bulletin

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Video - Interview with Boko Haram victim forced to marry or be killed

When “Miriam” was kidnapped by Boko Haram she was told she had the choice of marrying a member of the militant group’s fighters or being killed. She was repeatedly raped by the man she was forced to marry. But after she became pregnant she managed to escape. Miriam is one of more than 2000 women and girls have been abducted in North East Nigeria by the militant group Boko Haram since the start of 2014.

Video - rise in female suicide bombers in Nigeria

Nigerian authorities in the country are in a dilemma over how to deal with Boko Haram's use of young, naive girls in their suicide bombing campaigns. Analysts say the huge number of uneducated girls from impoverished families in the north has made them vulnerable to manipulation by Boko Haram. The Government now faces the challenging task of reversing this trend.

Arrest made in the kidnap of school girls in Nigeria

Nigerian troops have arrested a businessman accused of "participating actively" in Boko Haram's mass abduction of nearly 300 schoolgirls from the northeastern town of Chibok last year, Nigeria's Defence Ministry said Tuesday.

Spokesman Maj. Gen. Chris Olukolade said Babuji Ya'ari headed a "terrorists' intelligence cell" for the Islamic extremists while masquerading as a member of the self-defence Youth Vigilante Group. That confirms suspicions that the vigilantes have been infiltrated by Boko Haram. Soldiers have told the AP that some of their comrades also belong to Nigeria's homegrown Islamic extremist group.

"The arrest of the businessman ... has also yielded some vital information and facilitated the arrest of other members of the terrorists' intelligence cell who are women," Olukolade said in a statement Tuesday night. He did not say when the arrests were made or how many people were arrested.

He alleged that Ya'ari has since 2011 co-ordinated several deadly attacks on the northeastern city of Maiduguri, the birthplace of Boko Haram, and spearheaded the May 2014 assassination of the emir of Gwoza, a religious and traditional ruler who was targeted for speaking out against Boko Haram's extremism.

One arrested woman, Hafsat Bako, confessed to co-ordinating the payroll for operatives paid a minimum of 10,000 naira (about $50) a job, the defence ministry statement said.

Boko Haram was responsible for the April 2014 kidnapping of 273 girls from a boarding school in Chibok. Dozens escaped but 219 schoolgirls remain missing. The mass abduction sparked international outrage and demands for the girls' release under the Twitter hashtag .BringBackOurGirls.

The extremists last year took control of a large swath of northeastern Nigeria where they declared an Islamic caliphate. This year, they became the West African franchise of the Islamic State group.

As their attacks spread across borders, a multinational army from Nigeria and neighbouring countries mobilized and this year drove Boko Haram out of towns. Suicide bomb and attacks on villages continue.


Related story: Video - Aljazeera speaks with the few schoolgirls that escaped from Boko Haram

87 percent of Nigerians oppose gay rights

A new opinion poll suggests that 87% of people in Nigeria support the legal ban on same-sex relations.

That number is lower than five years ago, when 96% of Nigerians opposed relationships between same-sex couples.

Gay rights activists, who commissioned the poll, said this showed attitudes towards gay people were changing, albeit slowly.

Nigeria is a deeply conservative country and religion plays a major role in society.

The government tightened anti-gay laws last year, banning same-sex marriages, gay groups and shows of same-sex public affection.


Campaigners say the laws are among the most draconian anywhere - and impose a sentence of up to 14 years in prison for same-sex couples.

About 1,000 people across Nigeria took part in the telephone poll which was commissioned by gay rights groups, including the Bisi Alimi Foundation.

Only about one in six people said they knew someone who was openly homosexual, reports the BBC's Will Ross from Nigeria's main city, Lagos.

However, the number almost doubled for people in their late teens and early twenties.

About 30% of respondents said gay, lesbian and bisexual people should have access to public services such as education and healthcare.

Gay activists, including the Bisi Alimi Foundation, see this as progress, our correspondent says.

They believe the survey shows that the tide is slowly turning towards acceptance. Nevertheless, Nigeria remains a dangerous place for people to come out, our correspondent adds.


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

Being gay in Nigeria

Video - CNN covers anti-gay law in Nigeria