Monday, August 31, 2015

Africa's richest man Aliko Dangote launches 1.5 million ton cement plant in Cameroon

Africa's richest man, Aliko Dangote launched a 250 million U.S. Dollar cement plant in Cameroon's capital, Douala this week. The Dangote Cement plant will have a capacity of 1.5 million metric tonnes of cement per year. It's in line with the billionaires plan to meet demand by African governments seeking to build new infrastructure.

Related story: Africa's richest man Aliko Dangote transforming Nigeria into an export nation

Video - Aljazeera speaks with Africa's richest man Aliko Dangote

Airforce plane crashes in residential area in Nigeria - 7 dead

The Nigerian air force says one of its aircraft has crashed into a residential house in Kaduna state killing all four crew and three passengers.

Commodore Dele Alonge, air force spokesman, said the Dornier-228 aircraft had taken off from Kaduna Military Airfield Saturday morning bound for the country's capital, Abuja, when it crashed in a house in the Ribadu area.

Alonge said bodies of those in the plane have been recovered and firefighters are at the crash site trying to prevent the fire from spreading.

Earlier this month, a helicopter belonging to Bristow, a Houston, Texas-based firm that charters helicopters to oil and gas rigs, traveling from an oil rig crashed into a lagoon in Nigeria's largest city, Lagos, killing four people.


Nigeria wins first ever FIBA Afrobasket Championship

Finally, Nigeria’s national male basketball team, D’Tigers showed their talents by winning a first ever FIBA Afrobasket Championship on Sunday night in Tunisia when they beat 10-time champions, Angola 74-65.

And the added bonus after winning a first title and beating Angola for the first time in 10 matches was that the Nigerians also qualified directly for the 2016 Rio Olympics and it was all down to a better conversion in the free throw shooting, which went above 70 per cent for the first time in the 12-day tournament.

Chamberlain Oguchi scored 19 points and was voted the Most Valuable Player of the tournament and was also named in the team of the tournament alongside teammate, Al-Farouq Aminu.

Oguchi was curtailed on his three-point shooting as he only made three, compared to the eight he made in the semifinal against Senegal.

The Angolans were very aggressive and made 33 fouls compared to just 14 from D’Tigers with the Nigerians also dominant on the glass with 60 rebounds – 24 offensively and 36 on the defensive end. Alade Aminu led the team in blocks with 12 and he added four points

Captain of the team, Olumide Oyedeji, had said the team was the most talented of the teams that came to Tunisia and that claim was justified even though one of their best players, Ike Diogu, did not play a single minute of the competition because of a twisted ankle.

Afterwards, Oluchi, the MVP, said: “It’s the best moment of my life, to be able to come here after missing the last AfroBasket, to be able to come here and do this with my brothers, it feels amazing.

“I’m happy to be able to share this moment with them and for me personally, it’s just really great.”

It is also a great triumph for the coach of the team, William Voigt, who was named the substantive coach of the team just in July and he has fulfilled the first part of his contract, which was to qualify the team for Rio.

He will now be expected to prepare the team to do better in Brazil.

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Boko Haram trying to operate in Lagos, Nigeria

Boko Haram is trying to expand its activities beyond Nigeria's mainly Muslim north, to include the commercial capital Lagos, as well as other parts of the country, officials say.

Nigeria's intelligence agency says 12 members of the Islamist militant group have been arrested in Lagos since July.

It is not possible to independently verify details of the statement.

Boko Haram has waged a six-year insurgency in Nigeria, mainly in the north-east of the country.

Authorities arrested other self-confessed Boko Haram members in the south-eastern city of Enugu as well as other parts of central and northern Nigeria, the Department of State Services (DSS) said in a statement.

The DSS attributes the attempted expansion of Boko Haram into southern areas to the increased pressure the group is under in its north-eastern heartland.

However, the BBC's Will Ross in Lagos says the group is still causing havoc in the north-east, with reports that more than 50 people were killed in an attack in Borno State on Friday, about 100km (62 miles) north of the state capital Maiduguri.


Friday, August 28, 2015

Nigerian Ambassador to the U.S., Adebowale Adefuye dead

The Nigerian Ambassador to the United States, Adebowale Adefuye, is dead.
According to Sahara Reporters, Mr. Adefuye, a former History professor died on Thursday at an undisclosed hospital in Washington DC.

Mr. Adefuye was appointed the head of the Nigerian mission to the U.S. in 2010 by former President Goodluck Jonathan.

Mr Adefuye will be remembered for his dogged lobbying for declassification of Nigeria as “a country of interest” in the American terrorism watch list.

He also tackled the U.S. government over its refusal to sell arms to Nigeria to aid the country in the war against the extremist Boko Haram sect.

He was born in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State in 1947. He was a graduate of the University of Ibadan where he bagged his first degree in 1969.

He was also a Fulbright Scholar and did further studies and research work at the Columbia University in New York, the University of North Florida, and the University of Florida in Gainesville.

Prior to his being named Nigeria’s ambassador to the US, he served as ambassador to Jamaica, and deputy high commissioner in the U.K.

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Video - Population explosion in Lagos, Nigeria puts pressure on housing sector

Africa's most populous city is facing a housing crisis. The population of Nigeria's commercial capital Lagos has exploded in recent years. The immense pressure this has put on its housing sector has resulted in some Lagos residents finding risky and unusual sources of shelter.

Related stories: Video - Makoko Nigeria's thriving slum

Video - Nigeria's housing scarcity issue

Nigeria loses $22.53 million in a month due to falling oil prices

The declining trend in crude oil prices at the international oil market continued to negatively affect Nigeria’s earnings from crude oil exports, as the country lost $22.53 million (about N4.48 billion) in June, 2015.

The Accountant General of the Federation, AGF, Ahmed Idris, who disclosed this at the end of the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee, FAAC, meeting in Abuja on Wednesday, attributed the loss to the drop in average crude oil price from $65.76 per barrel in May to $61.27 in June 2015.

The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, secretariat calculation showed that daily basket price of 12 crudes dropped to $40.47 per barrel on Tuesday, from $40.67 on Monday.

The disclosure came just as the Federal and the 36 states of the federation as well as the 774 Local Governments and the authorities of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja shared N511.799 billion allocation for the month.

The amount included a value added tax, VAT, of N74.945 billion.

Apart from the deduction for cost of collection by the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, of N6.621 billion, or 4%, similar deductions of N3.199billion, or 7%, went to the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, and N2.389 billion or 4% for the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR.

Another N240 million was for the refund to the NCS.

Details of the distributable revenue available showed that statutory allocation was about N424.115billion, while gross revenue of N433.584 billion received was lower by N52.368 billion than the N485.952 billion earned in the previous month.

The AGF attributed the drop in revenue for the month to the crude oil production facility shut downs as well as shut-ins of production operations to allow for adequate maintenance and emergency repairs.

The disruptions in the normal operations, which resulted in the declaration of Force Majeure by the Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC during the period, the AGF said, were reported as the major incidents that negatively impacted crude oil revenue for the month.

While about N6.33 billion was refunded by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC to the Federal Government, the Federation Account also recorded Naira exchange gain of N6.409 billion, which was proposed for distribution.

Other details contained in the communique presented at the end of the meeting to reporters showed that the Federal Government took N202.111 billion, or 52.68 percent; States N102.513 billion, or 26.72 percent and Local Governments N79.033 billion, or 20.6 percent. Derivation payment of N28.209 billion, or 13 percent, went to the oil producing states.

Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance, Anastasia Daniel-Nwaobia, disclosed that Excess Revenue balance for the month stood at $2.257 billion.

On late payment of salaries to civil servants, Mrs. Daniel-Nwaobia blamed it on declining revenue earnings in the Federation Account, which has affected the normal schedule for the FAAC meetings and the distribution of the allocations to the various members by the Committee by the office of the AGF.

“Prior to the current revenue, challenges of government is facing, FAAC used to hold in the second week of the month. This used to give states enough time to prepare and pay salaries of their workers.

With the FAAC meeting now holding in the third week of the month, states are not having enough time after the money from the office of the AGF hits the accounts of members, and it shared through the Integrated Personal Payment Information System, IPPIS, system, resulting in the delays.”

She urged the civil servants to understand the difficulties the government was facing in discharging its obligations regularly, assuring that the current delays in the payment of salaries was a passing phase that would soon go away.

On speculations that government was considering granting exemption to some government agencies from the directive on the Treasury Single Account, TSA, the AGF said he was not aware of any such exemption to the policy.

“TSA is a government policy. For now, there is no exception. All agencies that are funded either 100 percent or partially through the national budget, as well as those agencies funded through other means are expected to key in to the policy,” the AGF said.

“I am not aware of any exception. We are here to debunk the rumour that all agencies are supposed to comply as directed. We are coming up with adequate guidelines for the entire process and for the enlightenment of the general public.”

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Nigeria marks 500 days since Boko Haram kidnapped 200 schoolgirls that are still missing

Relatives of over 200 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram militants marked 500 days on Thursday since the abductions, with hope dwindling for their rescue despite a renewed push to end the insurgency.

The landmark comes amid a worsening security crisis in northeastern Nigeria, where Islamists have stepped up deadly attacks since the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari, killing more than 1,000 people in three months.

Boko Haram fighters stormed the Government Secondary School in the remote town of Chibok in Borno state on the evening of April 14 last year, seizing 276 girls who were preparing for end-of-year exams.

Fifty-seven escaped but nothing has been heard of the 219 others since May last year, when about 100 of them appeared in a Boko Haram video, dressed in Muslim attire and reciting the Koran.

Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau has since said they have all converted to Islam and been "married off".

The Bring Back Our Girls social media and protest campaign staged a youth march in Abuja to mark the grim anniversary and have announced plans for an evening candle-lit vigil.

Dozens of young campaigners known as the "Chibok Girls Ambassadors" processed through the streets of the capital dressed in their signature red t-shirts, many with red ribbons tied to their hair and around their heads.

- 'Terribly ashamed' -

Joined by prominent clerics and other well-wishers, they carried placards bearing the names of the missing girls and banners displaying their pictures and campaign slogans.

"My heart bleeds for the children. I feel terribly ashamed," said Abuja's Catholic archbishop John Onaiyekan, dressed in his red cardinal's robes.

"I feel ashamed that about 300 girls should disappear just like that, even after we have been told that the military are doing very well, that they are making progress, routing the terrorists, scattering their camps."

Sheikh Nura Khalid, chief imam of the capital's Apo Mosque said he would be challenging all fellow Muslim clerics to "use our pulpits to be preaching for the freedom of the Chibok girls".

The mass abduction brought the brutality of the Islamist insurgency unprecedented worldwide attention and prompted a viral social media campaign demanding their release backed by personalities from US First Lady Michelle Obama to the actress Angelina Jolie.

Nigeria's government was criticised for its initial response to the crisis and Western powers, including the US, have offered logistical and military support to Nigeria's rescue effort, but there have been few signs of progress so far.

The military has said it knows where the girls are but has ruled out a rescue effort because of the dangers to their lives.

- Global sex trade -

Boko Haram, blamed for killing more than 15,000 people and forcing some 1.5 million to flee their homes in a six-year insurgency, has rampaged across Borno since Buhari came to power on May 29, vowing to crush the insurgency.

The fresh wave of violence has dealt a setback to a four-country offensive launched in February that had chalked up a number of victories against the jihadists.

An 8,700-strong Multi-National Joint Task Force, drawing in Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Benin, is expected to go into action soon.

In a report published in April, Amnesty International quoted a senior military officer as saying the girls were being held at various Boko Haram camps, including in Cameroon and possibly Chad.

The Chibok abduction was one of 38 the rights group has documented since the beginning of last year, with women and girls who escaped saying they were subject to forced labour and marriage, as well as rape.

Fulan Nasrullah, a respected Nigerian security analyst and blogger who claims specialist knowledge of the inner workings of Boko Haram, told AFP there was "no hope" of ever recovering most of the Chibok girls.

"Most have had kids by now and are married to their captors. Many have been sold into the global sex trade and are probably prostituting in Sudan, Dubai, Cairo and other far flung places," he said.

"Some have been killed probably in attempts to escape, air strikes on camps where they were being held, et cetera."


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Nigeria plans to set-up new national airline

Nigeria is setting up a committee to consult with local and international partners on establishing a national airline, the ministry of aviation said on Monday.

The committee will be chaired by a former pilot and will review reports on Nigeria's failed national carrier, Nigerian Airways, and other private airlines. It has four weeks to submit its findings.

The committee will also consult with Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) to determine the debt profile of domestic airlines. Three years ago, AMCON, a state-backed "bad bank" established in 2009, took on more than 132 billion naira ($663 million) of debts from 12 Nigerian airlines, including the biggest carrier, Arik, and Aero.

In a report seen by Reuters, the country's ruling party, the All Progressives Congress, proposed last month merging those dozen debt-laden airlines into a single carrier. The report said the airline should operate in partnership with a global airline.

British billionaire Richard Branson set up a domestic and international carrier called Virgin Nigeria in 2000, but he pulled out in 2010 in frustration at what he said was interference by politicians and regulators.

The airline he created, which was later rebranded Air Nigeria, closed in 2012 after collapsing under about 35 billion naira of debt, leaving it unable to pay staff, a former finance director of the company told Reuters at the time.


Ex-National security adviser Sambo Dasuki charged

Nigeria's sacked national security adviser, Sambo Dasuki, has been charged in court with illegally possessing weapons, an official statement has said.

Firearms were seized during a raid on his properties last month, it added.

Mr Dasuki denied any wrongdoing at the time and said the weapons belonged to his security guards.

He is the first senior official of the former government to be charged under President Muhammadu Buhari's rule.

Mr Buhari took office in May after defeating former President Goodluck Jonathan in elections.

In a separate statement, his office said he had ordered an investigation into military equipment bought since 2007.

The investigation was part of an effort to curb corruption and ensure that the military was properly equipped, it added.

Mr Buhari replaced Mr Dasuki and other security chiefs last month in a renewed effort to end a six-year insurgency by militant Islamist group Boko Haram.

The Department of State Security said the decision to charge Mr Dasuki was in line with its commitment to upholding democratic values.

No-one was above the law, no matter how highly placed they were in society, it added in a statement.


Teen girl suicide bomber kills five in Nigeria

A teenage suicide bomber detonated an explosive device strapped to her body in the northeastern Nigerian city of Damaturu early on Tuesday, killing five people and wounding about 30, police said.

No one claimed responsibility for the blast but Islamist militant group Boko Haram has been blamed for a series of similar attacks in the region in recent weeks.

"At about 7:40 a.m., a female suicide bomber about 14 years old denoted an explosive device at the central Damaturu motor park. Six people were killed including the suicide bomber," police spokesman Toyin Gbadegesin said.

An official at the state emergency management agency said the suicide bomber tried to enter the motor park, or bus station, and was accosted by civilian viligantes. She then pulled away and set off the bomb, Idi Musa Jigawa told Reuters.

Jigawa said six people were critically wounded and another 22 had minor injuries. He confirmed the death toll given by police.

"I was inside the park, just boarded a bus when I heard a loud noise. Some policemen came to the scene and evacuated corpses," an eyewitness traveling to Maiduguri told Reuters.

Boko Haram has waged a deadly campaign for the past six years to carve out a state adhering to strict Islamic law in northeast Nigeria. After being pushed out earlier this year from most of the territory it had gained, the group scattered and returned to attacking soft targets.

Gbadegesin said another child suicide bomber, age 12, set off an explosion at a security checkpoint after the motor park attack, but there were no casualties.


Tackling the main health problems in Nigeria

When it comes to overcoming hardship, Nigeria has faced the challenge of disease with determination and hard work from all those dedicated to conquering the health problems of Africa’s most populous country. Diseases such as HIV, malaria, sickle cell disease, and tuberculosis are some of the most lethal that Nigeria faces, but with continued support in tackling the problems, success rates are improving.


Listed as one of the primary causes of death in Nigeria, malaria has claimed more lives in Nigeria than any other country in the world. To combat the incidence of malaria, the President’s Malaria Initiative was launched and is working to prevent malaria among those most vulnerable, with resources like insecticide-treated bed nets, application of insecticide indoors, and the best anti-malarial drugs available.


Working together with the Ministry of Health in Nigeria, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been implementing the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. This includes numerous preventative strategies and treatment services for HIV, which are adapted to best suit the area that they are aiding. The Gede Foundation, which was created by Dr. Jennifer Jamilah Douglas-Abubakar, PhD, provides support for HIV prevention and care, as well as seeking to lower the stigmatization of those afflicted and increase education about the disease. The foundation provides care to those who would often not be able to access treatment, not only by welcoming those living with HIV but also by providing home care services, as many suffering from HIV live in rural areas. To learn more about the foundation or even to provide support, you can connect to Jennifer Douglas, the founder.

Sickle Cell Disease

As the most prevalent genetic disease in the African region, it is no surprise that Nigeria sees the birth of an estimated 100,000 children with sickle cell disease each year. The CDC has been working to put in place programs that offer treatment plans for those afflicted, as well as developing preventative measures and researching the disease.


Nigeria is one of 22 countries that host 80% of the world’s cases of tuberculosis, necessitating that measures be taken to reduce the incidence rate of tuberculosis and to support treatment. The Nigeria Stop TB Partnership was created by the National TB Control Programme and the World Health Organization (WHO) to raise resources and secure government assistance in the treatment, care, and diagnosis of tuberculosis. Some of the aims include improving the detection rate of positive cases of tuberculosis for treatment in order to reduce the prevalence of tuberculosis and the number of deaths that result.

Through partnerships between organizations such as the World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as organizations like the Gede Foundation, the government and the people of Nigeria have been working to conquer the health problems that the country faces. Prevention, diagnosis, education, and improved treatment have all been important in addressing the health problems that Nigeria is working to overcome, and continuing support should continue to improve the survival rate from the effects of disease.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Former Nigeria Finanice Minister Okonjo-Iweala ready for investigation

Former Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on Sunday declared support for President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption drive, saying she was ready to subject herself to an unfettered government probe of her two terms in office.

The former Minister, who was reacting to media reports that she was planning to build a multi-million dollar Okonjo –Iweala family hospital in Abuja, denied nursing any such ambition.

Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala, who spoke through her spokesperson, Paul Nwabuikwu, described the report as “totally baseless”, as “the alleged hospital is non-existent”.

“Dr Okonjo-Iweala has a clean record of two terms in office,” the spokesperson said. “As we have consistently maintained, she is not afraid of a transparent investigation of her two terms in office. She supports the anti-corruption drive in Nigeria. No one who has had the privilege of serving his or her country should feel too big to be investigated.

“It is this very issue of fighting corruption that brought her back in the first place and she has a track record of blocking corruption. It is ironic that it is those same corrupt people who are trying to tarnish her image,” he said.

Mr. Nwabuikwu denied the existence of any hospital owned by Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala’s immediate family.

“Anyone who is in doubt can go to Gwarinpa, Abuja where the hospital is allegedly located, or enquire from General Electric and Perkins + Will Global, the two organisations that were mentioned as Consultants to the project in the report as to whether the hospital has been built,” Mr. Nwabuikwu said.

The spokesperson, however, confirmed that Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala’s husband, Ikemba Iweala, who retired recently as a neuro-surgeon and emergency physician with over 40 years’ of practice in Nigeria, the United Kingdom and the United States, was actually planning a hospital.

To actualize his desire to give back to Nigeria, Mr. Nwabuikwu said, Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala’s husband had, for several years, been working on plans to establish a hospital in Abuja, using his savings to develop the concept and design of the hospital.

So far, Mr. Nwabuikwu said, Mr. Iweala had made efforts to source for financing for the project, pointing out that it was the prototype design and website of the yet to be realized project that was being published as a multi-billion dollar evidence of corruption against the former minister.

“Why is Dr Okonjo-Iweala the object of this ceaseless campaign of falsehoods and distortions? The answer is simple: because she refused to steal and share, and because she blocked many powerful people, some of whom are now in power, from stealing. That is why they would go to any lengths to tarnish her name,” the minister’s spokesperson explained.

He recalled that it was the former minister’s fight against fuel subsidy scammers that led to her mother being kidnapped in 2012, followed with the demand for her to resign from government and leave the country.

“The hospital idea is still very much alive. Anyone who is interested should please come forward to discuss possible investment. But there is a condition: the money must be clean. Corrupt people, especially lying governors, need not apply,” Mr. Nwabuikwu said.

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Police foil assassination attempt on Minister of Finance Okonjo Iweala

United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon on 2 day visit to Nigeria

 UN chief Ban Ki-moon began a two-day visit to Nigeria Sunday in the wake of a suspected Boko Haram ambush on the army chief, saying it was "a time of hope" despite the rise of extremism.

Combating Islamist violence is expected to be high on the agenda as the secretary-general holds talks with President Muhammadu Buhari, whose inauguration in May sparked a massive upsurge in jihadist attacks.

"Across our world, we see insecurity, inequality, growing divides," Ban told a private meeting of state governors in Abuja, according to a UN statement.

"Here in Nigeria, you know the challenges all too well –- including the rise of extremism and the lack of equal opportunity.

"I know this is a deep and vital challenge in particular for the governors of the northeast... This is also a time of hope. I want to commend you and all of Nigeria's leaders for the peaceful democratic transition of power."

Ban touched down at Abuja's international airport just hours after the military revealed Boko Haram fighters had ambushed a convoy carrying Nigeria's army chief-of-staff Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai.

The senior officer, who was unharmed, was visiting troops Saturday when insurgents attacked in Faljari village, 45 kilometres (28 miles) east of Borno State capital Maiduguri, army spokesman Sani Usman said in a statement.

- 'Overwhelming firepower' -

"The terrorists encountered an overwhelming firepower from the troops in which 10 of them were killed. The troops captured five terrorists," he said.

"During the encounter, sadly, we lost a soldier, while an officer and four soldiers sustained gunshot wounds."

Boko Haram has stepped up its attacks in Borno and two neighbouring states in its northeastern heartland since Buhari came to power in May.

The Islamists have also carried out deadly ambushes across Nigeria's borders and in recent weeks suicide bombers, many of them women, have staged several attacks in Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad.

The fresh wave of violence has claimed more than 1,000 lives over the last three months, dealing a setback to a four-country offensive launched in February that had chalked up a number of victories against the jihadists.

An 8,700-strong Multi-National Joint Task Force, drawing in Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Benin, is expected to go into action soon.

Military officials have said it will be more effective than the current alliance in the battle to end Boko Haram's six-year insurgency, which has claimed at least 15,000 lives.

"This a crucial moment for Nigeria," said Ban, on his second visit to Africa's largest economy since taking office in 2007.

"You face many serious challenges but you have also taken a hugely important step to move forward in a way that can respond to the aspirations of the country's people."

- Deadly UN bombing -

Before his departure the UN chief will lay a wreath to commemorate the fourth anniversary of a Boko Haram bombing at Abuja's United Nations House, the headquarters for around 400 UN employees, that left 21 dead in June 2011.

He is also due to dine with captains of industry and discuss "democracy, human rights and countering violent extremism" in a meeting at the foreign ministry.

Ban last visited Nigeria in May 2011 to discuss the crises in southern Sudan and Libya with then leader Goodluck Jonathan.

Buhari, who came to power on May 29 vowing to destroy Boko Haram, replaced his military leaders earlier in August, ordering his new chiefs-of-staff to end the insurgency within three months.

The military under Jonathan was heavily criticised for poor handling of the insurgency and its failure to free more than 200 schoolgirls abducted from the northeastern town of Chibok in April last year.

Ban is due to head to France late on Monday to discuss preparations for a major climate change conference to be held in Paris in December.


Friday, August 21, 2015

Video - Uber expanding in Nigeria

American taxi-hailing company Uber has launched services in Lagos - connecting drivers with riders through its smart phone app. It's hoping Nigeria could be a growing market by offering a reliable and safer alternative for commuters.

Related story: Uber is recording exponential grown in Lagos, Nigeria

Pharmaceutical research institute of Nigeria paid “ghost workers” for months before backdoor recruitment

The Nigerian Pharmaceutical Research Institute, caught this week in the web of a recruitment scam, paid non-existent workers for months, or even years, before hastening this week to replace the fake names, PREMIUM TIMES can report today.

The institute, headed by Karniyus Gamaniel, a professor, paid at least 35 “ghost workers” in several departments, according to new evidence obtained by this newspaper.

PREMIUM TIMES had reported on Wednesday how Mr. Gamaniel, in a secret understanding with the health ministry and the office of the head of service, brushed aside civil service rules requiring that all government employment be duly advertised to allow qualified candidates vie for the openings.

After handpicking candidates for the available 35 positions, the institute scheduled a sham interview with those chosen for Wednesday.

The recruitment exercise was postponed indefinitely after PREMIUM TIMES’ report.

Under the deal, the pharmaceutical agency, NIPRD, was allowed to fill 15 positions, while the head of service and the ministry of health (which supervises the NIPRD), were allotted 10 slots each.

Mr. Gamaniel shared the 15 slots among the seven directorates of the agency, after his initial plan to retain all nearly backfired, with directors in the office threatening to undermine the recruitment.

In response to our earlier report, Professor Gamaniel denied violating any rule, saying the institute obtained appropriate clearance for the process, ostensibly referring to the waiver from the office of the head of service.

He said the candidates for the jobs were drawn from a pool of applications received by the institute in response to a previous advertisement, and argued that placing new advertisement for the openings would have amounted to a waste of government resources.

PREMIUM TIMES has obtained exclusive details of how the institute for months paid salaries and allowances of 35 non-existent names, an indication that this week’s hasty recruitment was to fill those gaps.

The use of “ghost workers” is a common scheme used by dubious Nigerian officials to steal public funds.

In 2014, the federal government said it weeded over 40,000 “ghost workers” from government payroll with the use of a new software, thereby saving over N100 billion.

The figures provided by the finance ministry at the time showed that some ministries and agencies included as much as 5,000 ghost names in their payroll.

At the pharmaceutical institute, in a list of 211 names of staff, PREMIUM TIMES confirmed only 176 to be genuine staff.

The fake names are listed side by side with real names.

There are “ghost” staff for scientific officer, research fellows, junior research fellows, higher science laboratory technologist, and administrative officers.

There are also confidential secretary, accountants, planning officers among other positions.

All the staff were captured in the institute’s 2015 budget, a process facilitated by the finance and accounts office of NIPRD. For its service, the unit was given four slots to fill in the new recruitment.

PREMIUM TIMES understands that the recruitment process should have been hastily completed before end of August, as directed by the office of the head of service.

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

160 dead in Boko Haram attack

The number of villagers massacred by Boko Haram jihadists in a remote village in northeastern Nigeria rose to 160 on Wednesday, according to locals, as the military rejected accounts of the attack.

Residents of Kukuwa-Gari in Yobe State described how more than 150 of their relatives and neighbours drowned in a river fleeing militants who opened fire on the village on Thursday last week, while another eight were shot dead.

A local official put the death toll at a much lower 50 while Colonel Rabe Abubakar, the acting director of the military's information department, said reports of the incident were "not true, utterly scurrilous and very misleading" in a statement entitled "Boko Haram did not kill 150 in Yobe".

He said the military was tipped off ahead of the attack, which he placed at "mid-afternoon yesterday", so that troops and civilian forces were able to ambush the Boko Haram militants outside Kukuwa-Gari.

"The insurgents ran into them and a gunbattle ensued in which four Boko Haram members and one civilian (fighter) lost their lives," he said.

The villagers' count of the dead in Kukuwa-Gari would constitute the largest loss of life in any single Boko Haram attack since President Muhammadu Buhari swept to power on May 29, vowing to crush the insurgency.

Telecommunications in Kukuwa-Gari are almost non-existent, but villagers who fled to nearby settlements said those who returned had buried 160 bodies, while many feared going back.

Alhaji Kankana Sarkin-Baka, leader of a local group of hunters co-opted to fight the insurgency alongside vigilante groups, said 17 gunmen had come on motorcycles, including a local Boko Haram commander.

"They had superior firepower because they were using modern guns while we were using hunting guns. We were outpowered but they were outnumbered," he told AFP.

He said six of the fighters positioned themselves by the river, blocking the only escape route, and opened fire on fleeing residents, forcing them to jump into the water.

"So far we have buried 160 people. And out of this number only eight bodies had gunshot wounds, which means all the others drowned," he told AFP.

He said the villagers had received reports from Galda town, around 100 kilometres (60 miles) away, of seven bloated bodies seen floating down the river which were believed likely to be further victims of the massacre.

Sarkin-Baka said the hunters killed 14 of the attackers, including the commander and his deputy, while three escaped with gunshot wounds.

"We recovered guns and explosives and drugs from them," he added.

The villagers, who have secured reinforcements of 100 hunters from the state capital Damaturu, say the gunmen were "born and bred" in the area and joined Boko Haram several years ago.

"Up to this moment no troops have deployed. Our major operational challenge is good weapons to effectively counter any possible further attack by Boko Haram. All we have are hunting guns," Sarkin-Baka told AFP.

Kukuwa-Gari resident Modu Balumi, who had fled to neighbouring Gombe State, told AFP his sister-in-law and two of her children were among several villagers still missing.

"Honestly, I am not happy with the way the military tried to deny that our village was attacked. Many of us who are yet to return have changed our minds about going back by this stance of the military," he told AFP.

Boko Haram has waged a violent campaign for a separate Islamic homeland in the northeast which has seen more than 15,000 deaths since 2009.

The Gujba area of Yobe state, where Kukuwa-Gari is located, has been hit hard by Boko Haram violence in the past but had seen relative calm since troops reclaimed it in March.

"The fact that reports of the Kukawa-Gari massacre are only being reported five days after the fact... suggests that there was unlikely any discernible security presence in the region at the time the militant incursion took place," Ryan Cummings, chief security analyst at South African consultancy Red 24, told AFP.

"A worrying consideration given that the Nigerian government is facilitating the repopulation of areas which were similarly recaptured from Boko Haram control."

The army later issued a statement which made no mention of the Kukuwa-Gari attack but said troops engaged Boko Haram fighters fleeing an air force bombardment of their stronghold in the Sambisa forest, in neighbouring Borno State, late on Tuesday.


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Video - Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari appoints new anti-corruption advisory committee

Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari has appointed an anti-corruption advisory committee to advice on the country's criminal justice system. The committee has seven members and is headed by a scholar and a human rights activist. President Muhammadu Buhari recently announced an anti-corruption investigation aimed at recovering around 150 billion dollars from alleged illegal oil sales. Buhari also ordered ministers to use government approved bank accounts to pay receipts owed to the government. CCTV's Deji Badmus spoke with the Managing Director of Financial Derivatives about the new reforms introduced by the president. Here is what he had to say.

President Muhammadu Buhari orders probe on how ISIL leader got a Nigerian visa

The Nigerian government has ordered a full investigation into how a wanted terrorist was granted Nigerian Visa in Lebanon to visit the country.

An official of the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign affairs told Vanguard in Abuja, Tuesday evening, that President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to investigate the circumstances surrounding the issuance of Visa to the wanted terrorist‎ who has been on the wanted list of several governments.

It would be recalled that a radical Muslim cleric, Ahmad al-Assir was arrested by Lebanese authorities as he attempted to leave Lebanon to Nigeria via Cairo.

He was said to have arrested while attempting to travel with a fake Palestinian passport with a valid Nigerian Visa‎ at the Beirut’s Rafik Hariri International Airport early Saturday, August 15, 2015 in Lebanon.

According to the official of the ministry of foreign affairs who spoke with Vanguard on the condition of anonymity, the ministry of foreign affairs has been directed to explain how the wanted terrorist was able to get Nigerian Visa.

“The reported‎ arrest of the wanted terrorist is a huge embarrassment to Nigeria and the President has directed that the matter should be investigated. The embassy in Lebanon has been directed to furnish the ministry with details of how the man got the visa. The National Intelligence Agency Officer has been directed to provide details of what happened” the officer said.

Nigeria recruiting 10,000 police officers to boost security and employment

Nigeria is to recruit an extra 10,000 police officers to boost security and help tackle youth employment, President Muhammadu Buhari has announced.

More CCTV cameras would also be installed in cities and major towns to curb crime, he added.

Inadequate security has been blamed for the authorities' failure to defeat the militant Islamist group Boko Haram.

Last week, President Buhari gave his security commanders three months to defeat the insurgents.

The police are part of the national task force fighting the insurgents in the north-east of the country.

Although the militants have lost their strongholds this year, they are still active and there has been an upsurge in suicide attacks since Mr Buhari took office.

The bombers often target markets and bus stations.

A senior officer told the BBC that the police force had an estimated 375,000 officers at the moment.

150 people drown and shot dead while fleeing from Boko Haram

Up to 150 people drowned in a river or were shot dead fleeing Boko Haram gunmen who raided a remote village in Nigeria's northeastern Yobe state, residents said on Tuesday.

Dozens of militants arrived on motorcycles and in a car on Thursday last week and sprayed automatic gunfire, scattering terrified inhabitants of Kukuwa-Gari.

"They opened fire instantly, which forced residents to flee. They shot a number of people. Unfortunately many residents who tried to flee plunged into the river which is full from the rain. Many drowned," Modu Balumi, a resident of the village, told AFP.

"By our latest toll we have 150 people either (shot dead) or drowned in the attack. The gunmen deliberately killed a fisherman who tried to save drowning residents of the village."

Balumi said the bodies of many of the drowned were picked out by locals several kilometres away.

News of the attack was slow to emerge because the militants have destroyed telecom masts around the village, about 50 kilometres (30 miles) from Yobe State capital Damaturu, since the insurgency began in 2009.

"Most residents, particularly women and children, ran towards the river in confusion,"said Bukar Tijjani, another villager, who confirmed the death toll.

"They were pursued by the gunmen who kept firing at them. In the frantic effort to escape they jumped into the river, which was full to the brim."

A local government official confirmed the attack but put the death toll much lower, at around 50.

- Massacre -

The higher count would constitute the largest loss of life in any single Boko Haram attack since President Muhammadu Buhari swept to power on May 29, vowing to crush the insurgency.

The ambush came during the region's peak rainy season, when most waterways in northeastern Nigeria are swollen and can flow with dangerous speed.

The village was still reeling from a raid by suspected Boko Haram militants on July 31 when at least 10 people were killed by gunmen who burned homes, food silos and livestock.

‎The Gujba area of Yobe state, where Kukuwa-Gari village is located, has been hit hard by Boko Haram violence in the past but had seen relative calm since troops reclaimed it in March.

In September 2013 scores of students of an agricultural college in the area were massacred as they slept in their dormitories.

In February last year dozens of students of a boarding secondary school in the main town of Buni Yadi were also killed in a gun attack on their hostels.

Boko Haram claimed responsibility for both attacks.

The jihadist militia, which has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, has waged a violent campaign for a separate Islamic homeland in the northeast which has seen more than 15,000 deaths since 2009.

Ryan Cummings, chief security analyst at South African consultancy Red 24 and an expert on the Nigerian insurgency, said the Kukuwa-Gari attack underlined that victory against the Islamists could not be defined by territorial control.

Many areas liberated by the army were more than likely abandoned by Boko Haram who preferred not to engage troops in conventional warfare, he said.

- Suicide attacks -

"Consequently, while localities such as Kukuwa-Gari have been reclaimed from rebel hands, Boko Haram continues to possess both the intent and operational capacity to execute attacks against these settlements," he told AFP.

"Furthermore, what the Nigerian army is witnessing now is that snapshot operations to liberate civilian populations is a much easier task than actually securing communities from the ever-present threat of further attacks."

The military under Buhari's predecessor Goodluck Jonathan was heavily criticised for poor handling of the insurgency and its failure to free more than 200 schoolgirls abducted from the northeastern town of Chibok in April last year.

Since Buhari took office, the militants have stepped up their campaign with a wave of raids, bombings and suicide attacks which have left more than 1,000 people dead in Nigeria alone, according to an AFP count.

The Islamists have also carried out deadly ambushes across Nigeria's borders and in recent weeks suicide bombers, many of them women, have staged several attacks in Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad.

Nigeria's new leader replaced his military chiefs last week, ordering them to end the insurgency within three months, and a five-nation regional force of 8,700 troops from Nigeria and its neighbours is expected to deploy imminently.

Chadian leader Idriss Deby declared on August 12 that efforts to combat Boko Haram had succeeded in "decapitating" the group and that its fearsome leader Abubakar Shekau had been replaced by a commander open to negotiations.

But Shekau dramatically rebuffed the claim in an audio recording released on Sunday and authenticated by security analysts, dismissing the Chadian head-of-state as a "hypocrite" and a "tyrant".

60 people rescued from Boko Haram during Nigeria military offense

Reports in Nigeria say as many as 60 people may have been killed after a raid on a village in the north-east by suspected Boko Haram militants.

The attack on Kukuwa in Yobe state happened last Thursday but details have only just emerged from survivors.

Some of the villagers are said to have drowned while fleeing gunmen.

The BBC's Nigeria reporter says the fact it took five days for any news to come out shows how dire the security situation is in parts of Yobe state.

A military spokesman said that following air surveillance and armed reconnaissance, the reports of a massacre and drownings could not be substantiated.

However, eyewitnesses said that dozens of militants arrived in the village on motorcycles and began shooting the residents.

"We were getting ready to observe evening prayers, all of a sudden we started hearing sounds of gunshots," one man told the BBC Hausa service.

"We all ran for our dear life into the bush. The following morning we returned home and discovered corpses of 60 children. They all drowned in the river in their effort to escape the attack."

Some accounts put the death toll higher than 60 but exactly how many people died remains unclear.

A regional military offensive has weakened the Islamist group in recent months but parts of north-east Nigeria, such as Yobe and neighbouring Borno state, are still extremely insecure.

Kukuwa is about 50km (30 miles) from the state capital Damaturu but the people there have for some time been extremely vulnerable.

Last month, Boko Haram killed 10 people there after some of its own fighters had been killed by a vigilante force in the village.

The southern part of Yobe has witnessed some of the most shocking attacks launched by Boko Haram fighters in recent years.

In February last year, militants targeted a boarding school in Buni Yadi killing 59 boys in their dormitories. In 2013, dozens of students were killed at an agricultural college in the same area.

The BBC's Will Ross in Lagos says that in general, the security situation has improved in Nigeria since then - but the challenge is still immense.

Close to 1,000 people have been killed by Boko Haram since President Muhammadu Buhari took over in May.

He has ordered the military to defeat Boko Haram within three months.

Monday, August 17, 2015

President Buhari goes after unreturned government property still being used by former administration

Plans are afoot by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to recover unreturned government property still being utilized by the officials of the immediate past administration.

A committee, comprising civil servants and representations from some security agencies, will be mandated to recover the public assets from the political appointees that served under Mr. Buhari’s predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan.

Towards entrenching his anti-graft drive, which is one of the focal areas of the administration, Mr. Buhari has also perfected plans to recover looted funds from Europe, particularly Switzerland, and America.

In an OpEd article published in The Washington Post in July, Mr. Buhari Buhari had sought the cooperation of the U.S. government in helping Nigeria recover its stolen wealth.

“The fact that I now seek Obama’s assistance in locating and returning $150 billion in funds stolen in the past decade and held in foreign bank accounts on behalf of former, corrupt officials is a testament to how badly Nigeria has been run. This way of conducting our affairs cannot continue,” the president wrote in the piece.

PREMIUM TIMES gathered that Mr. Buhari’s decision to recover the vehicles, houses and other property from the former government officials was prompted by refusal of some officials of the past administration to honorably surrender public property in their possession.

Sources at the presidency said the affected officials are still in control of government vehicles, buildings, power generator sets and other entitlements that came with their previous positions.

In a recent chat with newsmen in Abuja, Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity confirmed that the president is going after those found in possession of public assets.

“That is precisely the case. Even here at the Villa, there are cars and other property belonging to the government which are yet to be returned.

“The property belong to the Nigerian people. We are not trying to humiliate anyone by asking them to return their cars or houses,” he said.

He reiterated President Buhari’s commitment to running an austere government that will save the Nigerian people millions in public funds.

“Imagine how much Nigeria will save by retrieving and re-using these government properties instead of purchasing new ones for new government officials,” he said.

Mr. Shehu said President Buhari’s aim was not to humiliate anyone but to make the affected individuals return public property.

Premium Times

Abubakar Shekau still leading Boko Haram

An audio message has emerged of Nigerian-based Islamist militant group Boko Haram's leader Abubakar Shekau, in which he denies he has been replaced.

In the message, addressed to the leader of the Islamic State militant group to whom Boko Haram has pledged allegiance, Mr Shekau said he was still in command.

He had not featured in the group's recent videos, prompting speculation he had been killed or incapacitated.

Last week the Chadian president said Mr Shekau had been replaced.

The Nigerian army has dismissed the recording as irrelevant, saying it did not matter whether he was alive or dead.

Mr Shekau described as "blatant lies" reports that he was no longer in charge.

"I am alive," he said, adding: "I will only die when the time appointed by Allah comes."

The eight-minute-long recording mocked a recent statement by the new Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari that Boko Haram would be eliminated within three months.


Friday, August 14, 2015

New Nigeria oil chief Emmanuel Kachikwu announces restructuring

The new head of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp said on Thursday that he had started a three-pronged restructuring of the state-owned company that should lead to "a new NNPC".

President Muhammadu Buhari appointed Emmanuel Kachikwu last week with a brief to root out corruption and mismanagement at the NNPC, which has been accused of failing to account for tens of billions of dollars in recent years.

The former Exxon Mobil executive has already dismissed all of the company's executive directors and other top layers of management.

"There's a people aspect which we are dealing with now," he said after a meeting with Buhari. "After the people at the right places, we are going to get a forensic audit done ... that will cover us all the way to 2014, 2015."

In the final stage, the NNPC will review all existing contracts, including production sharing contracts with independent oil companies, and analyse the plunge in crude oil prices to improve revenue for the government.

"Over the next five-six months, you will begin (to) see emerging a new NNPC," Kachikwu said.

The NNPC has not been publishing annual reports and its bookkeeping has been criticised as opaque, which appears to have allowed billions of dollars to disappear.

It is supposed to remit all revenues to the country's treasury but is allowed to keep what it needs to cover costs with little oversight. The result is a legal grey area that has been open for abuse for decades.

The president on Sunday ordered ministries including the NNPC to use only approved government bank accounts to make payments, as part of efforts to improve transparency and clamp down on corruption.

"The reality is that to run an oil company, you've got to have funds to do it. If you don't, you close down the corporation and the production system will close down," he told reporters in the capital Abuja.


Thursday, August 13, 2015

Chad's President says Boko Haram has new leader

The Nigerian-based Islamist militant group Boko Haram has a new leader, Chad's President Idriss Deby says.

He did not say what had happened to Abubakar Shekau, but said he had been replaced by Mahamat Daoud - who has not been heard of before.

Mr Shekau has not featured in the group's recent videos, leading to speculation that he has been killed.

Mr Deby, whose troops have been involved in battling Boko Haram, said Mr Daoud was open to dialogue.

The BBC's Nigeria correspondent Will Ross says that last year, the Chadian leader was said to be brokering peace talks with Boko Haram.

But the negotiations never happened and were widely seen as a sham so some analysts will question how much credence to give to Mr Deby's latest comments about the jihadist group, he adds.

Mr Shekau took over as the group's leader after the its founder, Muhammad Yusuf, died in Nigerian police custody in July 2009.

Under his leadership the group has become more radical and carried out more killings.

Previous reports about his death proved to be untrue.

The last Boko Haram video, which was released earlier this month, showed an unidentified young man speaking in the name of the Islamic State in West Africa calling on people to be patient: "We are still present everywhere we had been before."

He spoke in the regional Hausa language, with an accent from the Kanuri ethnic group, to which Mr Shekau belongs.

In numerous videos, Mr Shekau has taunted the Nigerian authorities, celebrating the group's violent acts including the abduction of the more than 200 Chibok schoolgirls in April 2014.

He was last heard from in March, when he released an audio message pledging allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) group.

Last month, Nigeria's new President Muhammadu Buhari said he would be willing to negotiate with the Boko Haram leadership for the release of the Chibok girls - depending on the credibility of those saying they represented the group.

A previous prisoner-swap attempt ended in failure.

Earlier this year, Chadian troops played a key role in a regional effort to retake towns and villages held in north-eastern Nigerian by Boko Haram.


4 dead in helicopter crash in Lagos

A helicopter carrying 12 people crashed into a lagoon in Nigeria's commercial capital Lagos on Wednesday, killing at least four people, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA)said.

The helicopter operated by offshore energy transportation specialists Bristow Group, flying from an oil rig, crashed at around 3.30 p.m. (1430 GMT) in the Oworonshoki area of the city, shortly before it was due to land.

A rescue operation was continuing.

"We were watching the helicopter swaying in the air. And then it started to go down. As soon as it hit the water, we saw flames," said Nkoli Moka, who watched the crash from a car on the city's Third Mainland bridge.

"Four bodies have been recovered. Six people survived and two people are missing," said Fan Ndubuoke, a spokesman for the NCAA. The aircraft had been carrying 10 passengers and two crew.

Bristow Helicopters (Nigeria) Limited is part of Bristow Group, which provides helicopter transport to the worldwide offshore energy industry.

"Bristow Helicopters (Nigeria) Limited, confirmed today

that one of its helicopters was involved in an accident ... on approach to the Murtala Muhammed International Airport at Lagos, Nigeria," said the company in a statement.

"The aircraft, a Sikorsky S-76C+, was returning from a drilling rig offshore," it said.


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Video - Nigerian banks continue shaming agenda for delinquent debtors

Nigeria's Bankers Committee has resolved to press ahead with the naming and shaming of delinquent debtors and even threatened to apply market sanctions on affected individuals and corporations. This is despite the controversy it has raised and potential lawsuits.

Related story: Video - Banks in Nigeria publicly shaming debtors

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Suicide bomber kills 47 in Nigeria

An explosion at a crowded market in the north-east state of Borno in Nigeria has killed at least 47 people, officials say.

As many as 52 people are believed to have been injured, a military source told Reuters news agency.

The blast struck Jebo livestock market in Sabon Gari town in southern Borno at about 13:30 local time (12:30 GMT), sources said.

Suspected Boko Haram militants have have killed hundreds in the state.

It is not clear whether the explosion was caused by a suicide bomber or by a planted device.

Borno State has been at the centre of an Islamist insurgency, but in recent months Boko Haram has also targeted villages and towns in northern Cameroon as well as Chad and Niger.

Bombings intensified after the new Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari vowed to crush the group. Since he was sworn in last May, more than 800 people have been killed.


Nigeria blocks ISIL recruitement

About 24,000 people were stopped from leaving Nigeria in the 15 months to March because of suspicion they could become involved in militant Islamism, prostitution or slavery, the country's immigration agency has said.

Many of them were suspected to be heading to join militant groups such as Islamic State (IS), the agency added.

Others tried to reach "greener pastures" to escape poverty, it said.

Nigeria is Africa's most populous state, and has high levels of poverty.

It has also been hit by a six-year insurgency waged by militant Islamist group Boko Haram, which pledged allegiance to IS in March.

The agency said Nigeria was a "catchment area for recruiters because of the high number of jobless people" in the West African state.

It had therefore intensified immigration checks to bar young Nigerians with "doubtful intentions" from leaving the country.

"The terrorist group has a syndicate that arranges travel documents, visas, ticket and money for their recruits," it added, in a statement.

Officials were also tackling illegal immigration, said Chukwuemaka Obuah, the agency's spokesman.

"We have always had problems of Nigerians going abroad for greener pasture. We look at the age of the intending traveller and the person he is travelling with, put them by the side and profile them thoroughly," he added.

The UN's Office on Drugs and Crime estimates West African trafficking victims, many of whom come from Nigeria, make up about 10% of those forced into sex work in Western Europe.

Last week, India detained two Nigerian students for allegedly trying to cross to Pakistan with the aim of finally reaching Iraq to join IS, media reports said.

Boko Haram's alliance with IS may be motivating young Nigerians to join the Middle Eastern group, reports the BBC's Bashir Sa'ad Abdullahi from Nigeria's capital Abuja.

They may have also been influenced by IS propaganda available on social media sites, he adds.


Nigerian military promises to punish soldiers caught turturing civilian

The Nigerian Army has apprehended some soldiers who were photographed torturing a suspected armed robber at Mararaba, a suburb in Nasarawa State, near Abuja.

The Acting Director, Army Public Relations, Col. Sani Usman, in a statement on Monday, vowed that the Army would ensure that the soldiers involved were punished.

He said the photograph of a soldier flogging a robbery suspect, who was stri*ped bare and lying in a dirty drainage, which appeared on the front page of a major national newspaper and other social media platforms, had done incalculable damage to the image of the service.

Usman said the action of the soldiers contradicted the ethics of the military tradition and professionalism in the service.

The statement reads in part: “The attention of The Nigerian Army has been drawn to a front page photograph of some soldiers maltreating a suspected robber at Mararraba, Nasarawa State, on the front page of today’s edition of Daily Trust newspaper.

“Sadly, it is also trending on the Social Media. There is no doubt the photograph has done incalculable damage to the image of the service. The act was unfortunate and at variance with military ethics and professionalism.

“The Nigerian Army wishes to inform the public that the perpetrators of the offence have been identified, summoned and would face disciplinary action”.

Usman said the Army had also reached out to the management of the newspaper over what he termed its “poor and worrisome editorial judgment”, as represented by the front page cover given to the photograph.

“Alerting appropriate Nigerian Army authorities would have been a better option that will be met with prompt response”, he said.

“We wish to assure the public that the Nigerian Army would continue to protect and respect human rights and that this regrettable incidence should not be used as a yardstick to judge the entire Army”, Usman added.

Information Nigeria

President Muhammadu Buhari appoints anti-corruption advisers

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari has appointed a committee to advise him on how best to tackle corruption and reform the legal system.

The seven-member Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption is mostly made up of academics.

Mr Buhari was elected in May, largely on a promise to tackle corruption.

He has said he believes government officials have stolen about $150bn (£96bn) from the public purse over the past decade.

"The committee's brief is to advise the present administration on the prosecution of the war against corruption and the implementation of required reforms in Nigeria's criminal justice system," said presidential spokesman Femi Adesina.

However, Mr Adesina was unable to say when the committee would report back to the president with its recommendations.

The BBC's Will Ross in Lagos says corruption is a massive drain on Nigeria's public finances and President Buhari's anti-corruption stance was a key factor in his election victory.

The difficult part will be ending a crooked culture deeply engrained in many government departments, our correspondent adds.

In a meeting with US President Barack Obama last month, President Buhari appealed for help in finding and returning government money he said had been stolen and was being held in foreign bank accounts.

Speaking on Monday, Mr Buhari criticised the way large loans had been diverted from the government projects for which they were intended.


Monday, August 10, 2015

Video - Nigerian Start-up producing Clean bio-fuel to improve Nigerian lives

A Nigerian startup is producing green energy from local flora, providing communities with an environmentally friendly, healthier and more affordable fuel option. The company hopes the bio-fuel will replace dangerous smokes and gases currently used in many homes.

President Muhammadu Buhari cleans up state payment system

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered ministries to use only approved government bank accounts to make payments, the vice president's office said on Sunday, part of a drive to improve transparency and clamp down on corruption.

Buhari, who took office in May after being elected on promises to fight endemic graft in Africa's biggest economy, has said he believes officials have stolen around $150 billion from the public purse over the past decade.

Under the new system, all receipts due to the government or any of its agencies must be paid into accounts maintained by the central bank unless specific permission has been granted not to do so.

"President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered each and every federal government ministry, department or agency to start paying into a Treasury Single Account (TSA) for all government revenues, incomes and other receipts," said Laolu Akande, a spokesman for Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

"This measure is specifically to promote transparency," he said, adding that the TSA would be linked to other government bank accounts.

Akande said the new system would end the use of "several fragmented accounts for government revenues", which he said had led to "the loss or leakages of legitimate income meant for the federation account".

The effectiveness of this change in public accounting remains to be seen since corruption and mismanagement of public funds have been entrenched in Nigeria's political system for decades.

Last month Buhari said his administration would trace and recover what he called "mind-boggling" sums of money stolen from the oil sector, which provides about 70 percent of revenues of the government in Africa's biggest crude producer.


Thursday, August 6, 2015

Nigeria Super Eagles move up to 53rd in FIFA rankings

Nigeria rose up four spots to 53rd place in the Fifa rankings released on Thursday, though are tenth-ranked African side.

In July’s grading, the Super Eagles dropped 14 places to 57th – their poorest drop in 2015.

One the continent, they are ranked Algeria, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Tunisia, Senegal, Cameroon, Congo, Cape Verde Island and Egypt.

Copa America champions, Chile entered the top ten at the expense of the Netherlands who that two places to 12th in the world. Argentina remain the best football playing country in the world and they are followed by Belgium and Germany respectively. Likely Nigeria opposition in the second round of the 2018 Fifa World Cup qualifiers, Swaziland and Djibouti are placed 132nd and 206th respectively in the world.

Former world champions Spain moved a place up to the 11th spot as Brazil are fifth in the world and third in South America.


Nigeria bans foreign currency cash deposits

Nigeria's central bank has banned the acceptance of foreign currency cash deposits by commercial banks in order to stem illicit financial flows, the bank said late on Wednesday.

Commercial banks had already started to either cap or ban such deposits last week due to the unavailability of outlets that could absorb their cash.

"For the avoidance of doubt, only wire transfers to and from Domiciliary Accounts are henceforth permissible," the central bank statement added.

A domiciliary account allows an individual or business to make transfers and save directly in British pounds, euro or dollars from within the Nigerian banking system.

Communications advisor to the central bank governor, Ugo Okoroafor, added that the move was also aimed at curbing the "increasing dollarisation of the economy".

Nigeria's currency, the naira, dropped sharply in July to around 240 against the dollar in the parallel market versus the official rate of 197 on the back of persistent dollar shortages.

Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele said last month that the naira, which has lost around 15 percent against the dollar over the past year, with an official devaluation in November and a de facto one in February, was "appropriately priced" at its current level.


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Video - Banks in Nigeria publicly shaming debtors

Nigerian commercial banks have begun publishing lists of debtors in national dailies in a bid to check the rising non-performing loan profile of Deposit Money banks in the country. The action follows the expiration of the Central Bank of Nigeria's three-month deadline for these debtors to meet their obligations or be exposed to the public.

Video - Nigeria's unemployment problem

In the second quarter of the year, Nigeria's economy shed over 1.3 Million jobs. As a result, the overall unemployment figure rose to 8.2%. That's the 3rd consecutive quarter in which unemployment figures in Nigeria have fallen, and women and people below the age of 25, are the hardest hit. Earlier on, I spoke to Adesola Oludamilare, an Economic Analyst with the Financial Derivatives Company. Our conversation started by asking how accurate the latest unemployment data, is.

Related story: Video - Entrepreneur Adeyoin Oshinbanjo talks about her successful venture Mile 12 Marketonline

President Muhammadu Buhari appoints new head of NNPC

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has appointed a new head of the country's corruption-hit state oil company, weeks after after sacking the entire board, his spokesman said on Tuesday.

Buhari took office on May 29 and axed Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) chief Joseph Thlama Dawha and his directors less than a month later after vowing to tackle what he called "the evil of corruption".

Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu's appointment as NNPC group managing director was announced in a statement from Buhari's spokesman Femi Adesina, which also listed other changes at the top of the state-run company.

No reason was given for Dawha's removal after just 10 months in the job, but changes at the much-criticised NNPC have become routine and observers believe the move may have been a prelude to an in-depth probe of its activities.

"This appointment marks the beginning of the reforms which will establish the NNPC as corporation which fights corruption and drives growth in the Nigerian economy," the company said in a statement.

Kachikwu, a former executive vice-chairman of Exxon-Mobil Africa from the coastal Delta State, is a Harvard-trained lawyer with 30 years' experience in the energy sector, according to the NNPC.

"I am excited to be taking up this challenge," Kachikwu was quoted as saying in the NNPC statement.

"Being in a position to manage the most important natural resource in Nigeria is a source of pride and responsibility for the NNPC and I am committed to taking this forward and helping the NNPC achieve its potential as a globally competitive national oil company."

Nigeria is Africa's largest oil producer, churning out roughly two million barrels of crude per day.

Ordinary people have largely not benefited from the nation's oil wealth, however, with much of the revenue lost to graft.

The NNPC is regarded as one of the world's most opaque and corrupt publicly-controlled oil firms and has been linked to the massive theft of vast crude revenues.


U.S. prepared to train Nigerian military

The United States is ready to provide military training to help Nigeria's battle against Islamic extremists, the leader of a U.S. Congressional delegation said here.

Nigeria's military is not outgunned by Boko Haram and needs training, not arms, to defeat the insurgents blamed for the deaths of thousands in three countries, said Rep. Darrell Issa.

Issa spoke after his four-person bipartisan delegation met with President Muhammadu Buhari and military service chiefs.

Issa's statement contradicts Buhari who asserted, after meeting President Barack Obama at the White House last month, that the United States is aiding Boko Haram by refusing to sell attack helicopters to Nigeria.

The U.S. Leahy Law prohibits all aid to specific military units which have been found to violate human rights. In the case of Nigeria, U.S. officials have said that some units have been vetted and deemed eligible for assistance, and others have not. Amnesty International has accused Nigeria of killing without due process an estimated 8,000 people suspected of involvement with Boko Haram.

"The number one thing we bring is professional training" to help the Nigerian forces fight Boko Haram and to advise them how to treat insurgents and civilians captured in the war zone, said Issa, a Republican from California and member of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism. Nigeria's military "doesn't lack basic firearms ... it lacks training" in military strategy and in international and humanitarian laws.

"This is a military that was allowed to fall into disrepair during the previous administration. Morale is low when training is low," said Issa.

He said Obama's pledge to give whatever training is needed signals "a new day" in U.S.-Nigeria relations. Buhari has pledged to annihilate Boko Haram and fight Nigeria's serious corruption problem.


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

U.S. to ease military assistance restrictions on Nigeria

The United States will soon relax or completely lift the restriction on military assistance imposed on Nigeria under the country’s Leahy Law, U.S. congressman, Darrel Issah, said Monday.

The Leahy Law prohibits the U.S. Department of State and Department of Defence from providing military assistance to foreign military units that allegedly violates human rights with impunity.

Mr. Issah dropped the hint while fielding questions from journalists shortly after meeting with Nigeria’s service chiefs and Ministry of Defence officials in Abuja on Monday.

He said the development was occasioned by the policy of the new military command with regards to the ongoing military operations in the country.

“There were a number of things that were discussed at the meeting but basically the need for additional technical support including overhead surveillance. This was discussed because it is important in the fight against Boko Haram.

“This is because of the trust in the new regime which has begun the process of ensuring that the military’s professionalism in the battle field is made in a way that we all can be confident that the rule of law is followed.

“Following this development, we have begun the process of lifting restriction under the Leahy Law but the vast majority of the support U.S. provides will be given regardless of the restrictions,’’ said Mr. Issah, who led a delegation from the U.S. congress judicial committee to the meeting with Nigeria’s top ranking defence officials.

Mr. Issah said the U.S. will provide other forms of support that would not only boost the military’s capabilities but would also create the environment to rebuild devastated communities.

He said the U.S. through its agencies in Nigeria would help rebuild and rehabilitate communities and victims of insurgency in the northeast.

“We are looking forward to working with the president and the military to rebuild the confidence of the people of Nigeria in the professionalism of the military.

“To make the military something that the people will rely on as the nation tries to clear insurgents and protect the civilians; that is important to the new president of Nigeria, our president and it is also important to the congress.

“But we are looking forward to a great difference in the relationship, a proactive relationship and one in which we can provide a greater level of support,’’ he said.

On his part, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Ismaila Aliyu, said the visit was a sign of the renewed confidence in Nigeria’s military on the global scene.

He said Nigeria now enjoyed a greater level of confidence and trust in the international community, stressing that it would impact positively on the nation’s efforts in repositioning its economy.

“The U.S. believes in Nigeria, they have trust and confidence in Nigeria that is why they are here.

“On the issue of human rights, the U.S. is pleased with what we have been doing in recent times to address the gaps that may have existed in the past.

“This visit is a follow up to Mr President’s visit to the U.S., we have said it and will continue to state that the visit was of great benefit to Nigeria, it has rekindled confidence in the relations between the two countries,’’ he said.

Other issues that dominated discussions between officials of the two countries include justice reforms and support for devastated communities, among others.

The meeting is believed to be one of the gains of President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent visit to the U.S.

Daily Post

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

Monday, August 3, 2015

Video - Nigeria taking new measures to fight online and banking scams

Nigerian authorities are moving to stamp out rampant online and banking fraud which is costing local banks hundreds of millions of dollars. The measures which include new banking cards and higher online security checks are also aimed at improving Nigeria's international reputation, which has been damaged by a plethora of global email scams.

Nigeria military rescues 178 from Boko Haram

Nigeria's army says it has rescued 178 people held by the Boko Haram group in Nigeria's Borno state in raids that destroyed several camps in the country's northeast.

Army spokesman Colonel Tukur Gusau said in a statement on Sunday that 101 of the those freed were children, 67 were women and 10 were men.

Gusau said that a Boko Haram commander had also been captured in the raids on camps around the town of Bama, about 70km southeast of the state capital Maiduguri.

Nigeria's air force earlier said on Sunday that it helped ground troops repel an attack by Boko Haram around the village of Bitta on the southern edge of the Sambisa forest reserve, a stronghold of the group.

Bitta is west of Gwoza, a town near the Cameroonian border that was believed to be the group's headquarters until a major offensive was launched earlier this year against the group.

Last week the army said it rescued 71 kidnapped people.

Vow to crush group

Earlier on Sunday, witnesses said Boko Haram fighters killed 13 people in an attack on Malari village, which is also in Borno state.

Moha Saleh, a local farmer, told AFP news agency on Sunday that 27 people were also injured in the attack, which began when the armed group stormed the village at around 1am local time.

"They also set many houses ablaze after accusing us of telling soldiers their whereabouts," he reportedly said.

A local community vigilante, Goni Musi, confirmed the death toll.

Hundreds freed

Hundreds have been freed from Boko Haram captivity this year but none of the 219 girls abducted in April 2014 from a school in Chibok were among those rescued on Sunday, the AP news agency reported.

Boko Haram was pushed out of most of the vast swaths of territory it controlled at the start of the year but they have dispersed and returned to tactics of raiding towns and hitting soft targets with bombs.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has vowed to crush the group with a multinational joint task force comprising 8,700 troops from Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger, Chad, and Benin that is being set up in the Chadian capital N'Djamena.

The force was supposed to start operations on July 31 but has been dogged by a lack of funding and political will.

Buhari visited Cameroon this past week in an effort to smooth over differences over cross-border pursuit and then to Benin.