Friday, April 29, 2016

Harry Redknapp might be Nigeria's new Super Eagles coach

The Super Eagles appointed Salisu Yusuf as interim manager this week to take charge of two upcoming friendlies against Mali in Paris on May 27 and Luxembourg on June 1.

But former Tottenham boss Redknapp has been approached to take over the national side full time.

A source close to the team revealed he could be named as the next permanent manager within a few days.

The role is widely seen as the biggest job in African football.

Redknapp is largely untested at international level after narrowly missing out on the England job to Roy Hodgson.

Last month Redknapp, 69, finished a two-game deal managing Jordan – reportedly a favour for the country's FA president Prince Ali bin al-Hussein.

Now Redknapp is free to prepare for Nigeria's opening African Cup of Nations qualifier in September.

Derby appointed Redknapp as an adviser earlier this year – but the ex-West Ham and QPR boss has said he did not want the job full time.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Video - Nigerian sportswear entrepreneur competing with imported labels

A Nigerian entrepreneur is challenging traditional but imported sports apparel labels. Owu Sportswear is an indigenous Nigerian brand that creates apparel for local teams. The company is fast becoming the preferred sportswear brand amongst professional football clubs providing a cheaper, more affordable alternative to brands like Nike and Adidas.

Former Nigerian Minister of Education kidnapped

A former Minister of State for Education, Iyabo Anisulowo, has been kidnapped.

Mrs. Anisulowo was abducted late Wednesday in Ilaro in Yewa South local government area of Ogun State, police said.

The spokesperson for the state police command, Muyiwa Adejobi, confirmed the incident to PREMIUM TIMES at about 10pm Wednesday.

He said the police commissioner had deployed five teams to rescue the former minister.

Mrs. Ashimolowo was minister of state for education during the regime of late Sani Abacha. She later became a senator representing Ogun West Senatorial District. She is also a former governorship candidate in Ogun State.

”The Ogun State police command is aware of the kidnapping of Senator Iyabo Anisulowo in Ilaro area today around 6pm. The Commissioner of Police Ogun State CP Abdulmajid Ali has detailed five teams to the area to rescue her unhurt,” Mr. Adejobi said in a statement.

“The special Anti-Robbery Squad SARS, and Anti-Kidnapping Squad Commanders have been sent to the area by the CP to rescue the senator and apprehend the perpetrators. We have also embarked on scientific investigation of the matter,” he said.

The command, however, gave assurance that the kidnapped top politician would be rescued, with a call on residents of the state to give adequate support to the authority.

“We therefore assure the general public particularly the good people and Government of Ogun State that the kidnapped victim will be rescued very soon unhurt. We appeal to Nigerians and people of Ogun State to support the police command with useful information to assist the police,” Mr. Adejobi said.

President Buhari orders crackdown on cattle raiders

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the security forces to crack down on cattle raiders accused of killing hundreds of people this year.

Soldiers and police would "go after the groups terrorising innocent people all over the country", he said.

The raids are seen as the biggest security threat facing Nigeria after the Islamist-led insurgency.

Nomadic herders from the Fulani ethnic group and farming communities often clash for control of land and water.

The announcement comes after national outrage over the killing of at least 20 people on Monday in a raid on the Ukpabi Nimbo community in south-eastern Enugu State.

In a statement, Mr Buhari said he deeply sympathised with those who had lost their lives.

He had ordered Nigeria's army and police chiefs to "secure all communities under attack by herdsmen", Mr Buhari added.

"This government will not allow these attacks to continue," the president said.

In February, about 300 people were killed and tens of thousands left homeless in a tit-for-tat raid in central Benue state, local media reported.

Homes, food stores and churches were also destroyed, reports said.

More than 1, 200 people were killed in 2014 by different groups of Fulani herders, according to the Global Terrorism Index.

The Fulanis are believed to be largest semi-nomadic group in the world and are mainly based in West and Central Africa.

In Nigeria, there are two types: The semi-nomadic herders and those who live in the city.

Unlike the more integrated city dwellers, the nomadic groups spend most of their lives in the bush and are the ones largely involved in these clashes.

They herd their animals across vast dry hinterlands, something that often puts them at odds with many communities, especially farmers who accuse them of damaging their crops.

However, the Fulanis have sometimes been attacked and have their animals stolen by bandits, prompting reprisal attacks.

The conflict has been going on for about two decades, but following the upsurge in attacks this year the government is under increasing pressure to take steps to curb it.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Video - Nigeria struggling to treat malaria in remote areas

Africa's most populous nation, Nigeria, has over the years been working hard to contain the spread of malaria. But Nigeria struggles with treating the disease in more remote areas.

Nigerian professor becomes first African scholar to lecture at the University of London

A Nigerian academic, Professor Abiodun Alao, will today deliver inaugural lecture at King’s College, University of London, making him the first black African scholar to deliver such lecture since the institution was established in 1829.

Alao, a professor of African Studies, was conferred with professorial title about two years ago alongside his Nigerian counterpart in the institution’s African Leadership Centre, Prof. Funmi Olonisakin, making them first black Africans to attain professorial cadre at the institution since its establishment. 

The appointments have been confirmed in a letter by the institution’s President and Principal, Prof. Edward Byrne AC, justifying their elevations based on their contributions to African peace and security. According to a statement obtained by Vanguard yesterday, Alao had published several single-authored books, well-researched journal articles and occasional papers, among others, which findings and recommendations “have largely helped establish peace and boost security in many African countries.”

In an institution that produced 12 Nobel Laureates among its professors, the statement said Alao had distinguished himself, citing about 100 widely recognized 100 academic articles and encyclopedia entries he had published, all of which were assessed to accord him professorial title. As an academic tradition globally, the statement said the Nigerian academic would today deliver his inaugural lecture, titled, “Africa: A Voice to be Heard, Not a Problem to be Solved” at the Edward Safra Lecture Theatre at the college’s main campus. 

The statement said the inaugural lecture, holding at the institution’s Edward Lecture Theatre on the Strand, “will be attended by many people from different parts of the world, including from the United States, Australia, Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria.” Aside his academic contributions, Alao joined the long list of globally renowned academics the institution had produced and whose research works had produced answers to different challenges of humanity and society since its establishment. 

The statement pointed diverse assignments Alao had undertaken for international institution, which include the United Nations (UN), African Union (AU), European Union (EU), World Bank, ECOWAS and for many individual countries in Africa and beyond. It added that Alao was part of the 4-person team that undertook “a comprehensive threat assessment for Rwanda immediately after the 1994 genocide and was on the team of academic experts that advised former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan on the civil war in Sierra Leone. “He also co-authored the Concept Note for the Common Defence and Security Policy for the Africa Union and was the co-author of the first post-Civil War National Security Strategy Framework for Liberia. 

He was a member of the team that worked on the Development of Donor Countries Effectiveness in Fragile States, the statement said. Ranking among the top 20 universities in the world, King’s College London holds a unique position in global scholarship, which the statement said, was evident in the landmark research works the institution’s professors and alumni had conducted since its establishment several decades ago. 

Among its landmark research works, the statement cited the research that led to the discovery of the famous genetic testing, DNA undertaken at the College by Prof. Maurice Wilkins, while another retired scholar of the institution, Prof. John Lister, developed Antiseptic Surgery. It cited the researches of Prof. Charles Wheatstone, who “invented the first working telegraphs line and Prof. James Maxwell, who began humanity’s first steps towards a unified theory of physics by bringing magnetism and electricity together in a research that paved way for radio, television, radar and mobile phones. “The College also has among its former Professors, Thomas Hodgkin, who discovered the Hodgkin disease that was named after him and John Danrell who invented the world’s first battery,” the statement added.


Former Nigerian MP sentenced to 154 years in jail for corruption

A court in Nigeria has sentenced a former local MP to 154 years in jail for corruption and money laundering.

Gabriel Daudu, from central Kogi State, was found guilty of 77 charges, Nigeria's anti-corruption body says.

But the judge ruled that the sentences would run concurrently, meaning Dauda will only spend two years in jail.

Corruption is endemic in Nigeria and so far the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has only managed to secure a handful of convictions.

President Muhammadu Buhari won elections last year, promising to tackle the problem.

A number of prominent officials from the previous government have been arrested and put on trial, but some accuse the president of only targeting the opposition.

The EFCC says Mr Daudu, who was put on trial in 2010, was involved in laundering about $7m (Ј5m).

Delivering the judgement in Kogi state capital, Lokoja, Justice Inyang Ekwo said the persecution had "proved its case beyond every reasonable doubt", the EFCC said in a statement.

It is not immediately clear whether Dauda will appeal against the ruling and whether any of the stolen money was recovered.

Reasons why fuel scarcity persists in Nigeria

Nigeria’s perennial fuel crisis has defied all solutions by successive governments. The problem is not a creation by witches from outer space, but an entirely Nigerian problem by Nigerians.


Fuel scarcity is usually a result of limited or inadequate stock of products not replenished on time. But, how do you replenish the stock when nobody knows exactly what the country’s demand is?

From the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, through the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, to the Department of Petroleum Resources, and the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, no one can say categorically what the daily national fuel consumption figure is.

The statistics are as varied as the purpose for which each agency is issuing them.

When calculating subsidy claims for products, marketers, the NNPC and PPPRA put figure at between 45 and 60 million litres against conservative industry figures of between 30 and 35 million litres.

If the agencies that are supposed to handle fuel supply do not know what we need or consume daily, how can we build an adequate and sustainable stock? How are we sure we are not spending our scarce resources building a stock that are being diverted and smuggled outside the country to service consumers in neighbouring countries to the detriment of Nigerians?


The NNPC allocates 445,000 barrels of crude oil daily for domestic refining. If the four refineries in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna, in their present state, were functioning optimally, total products yield cannot be more than about 10 to 12 million litres.

Even at full capacity, the supply from those refineries will still be far from sufficient to take care of at least 50 per cent of the 45-60 million litres the NNPC says we consume daily.

Despite the huge amount of money spent by government over the years on turnaround maintenance, the functional states of the refineries remain seriously impaired.

With the poor condition of the refineries, the natural consequence has been the scarcity consumers are currently facing.


The story would have been different if there were new refineries built either by government or private investors.

But none of the 18 licenses issued by government to private investors since 2008 have led to any new facility on ground to help solve the fuel crisis puzzle.


Even if the refineries are in top shape, their optimal performance still depends on the availability of services from other facilities associated with their operations.

The volume of refined products supplied depends directly on availability of crude oil feedstock. If crude oil is lacking because the pipelines are repeatedly attacked by vandals, there is no magic anybody can perform to guarantee sufficient products supply to consumers.

The result would be scarcity and more fuel crisis.

The NNPC says its biggest headache in its bid to find lasting solution to the fuel crisis over the years has been how to deal with pipeline vandalism.

The corporation says over the last decade, it has reported a total of 16,083 pipeline breaks in different locations in the country, with ruptures accounting for 398 pipeline breaks, while 15,685 breaks were due to the activities of vandals.

But the deeper issue has to do with reports that pipeline vandalism appears to be a very sophisticated insider crime with connivance of agents linking to even the highest reaches of the NNPC management echelon.

That President Muhammadu Buhari recently threatened to treat persons involved in oil pipeline vandalism and other sabotage activities in the oil and gas industry like terrorists or saboteurs shows how frustrating the problem has been to the government, industry and Nigerians.


To make up for the balance of supply from the refineries, government’s only viable option has been to import.

Although that has been going on these years, the huge cost to the economy justifies why local production is still the best way out.

Because crude oil and its derivatives – refined petroleum products – are subject to the gyrations of forces at the international oil market, a spike in crude oil price directly impacts retail prices of refined petroleum products at filling stations.

With government opting to subsidize the difference between the landing cost of imported petroleum product and retail price above N86 per litre, it means huge amounts has to be paid as subsidy to petroleum products marketers for fuel imports.

But the corruption in the fuel subsidy arrangement made the arrangement very unattractive for the present administration, which at inception found it difficult to continue the payment of the subsidies.

After inception, government inherited a backlog of over N600 billion subsidy bill due to marketers. Coming at a time the country’s economy was bleeding from declining revenue earnings as a result of low global crude oil prices, paying the huge bill became a huge burden and a bitter pill for government to swallow.

Although part of the money was paid in November 2015, it was hardly enough incentive for all the marketers to continue fuel importation.

Apart from unpaid subsidies, claims for arrears of interests on bank loans, and differentials in foreign exchange made the new fuel price unattractive for the marketers. The result has been the scarcity and fuel crisis.


With global crude oil prices dropping to unprecedented levels of less than $25 per barrel late last year, landing cost of imported fuel translated to a retail price below the official pump price of N86 per litre, necessitating the marketers to pay back money to government in the form of over-recovery.

For marketers, the modulated fuel pricing mechanism introduced by government was not a good business, hence their resolve to drop out of the fuel importation programme.

The modulation mechanism provides an automatic adjustment that regulated retail price of fuel at the pump against the movement of prices at the international crude oil market, to minimise or eliminate subsidy payment.

The withdrawal of the independent and major marketers, which accounted for the supply of 55 per cent of the entire national fuel consumption, meant NNPC would move from providing 45 per cent capacity to 80 per cent initially, and ultimately 100 per cent of the supply.

Out of more than 26,700 filling stations nationwide, only 2,453 stations belong to the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), comprising Mobil Oil, Total, Oando, Conoil, Forte Oil and MRS.

NNPC has only 37 mega stations located only in the capital cities in the 36 states of the federation and the federal capital territory. The rest of over 24,226 outlets located in the country’s hinterland belong to the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN).

Equally, out of nearly 130 fuel depots in the country, IPMAN, MOMAN and NNPC own them in the ratio of 83:24:22 respectively.

With inadequate capacity of the NNPC in terms of resources to handle the entire importation programme and the facilities to store and distribute even the inadequate quantity imported is part of the current fuel supply crisis.

The scarcity is simply because the NNPC is unable to import enough to meet growing demand.

The problem is worsened by the lack of involvement of the independent and major marketers in the fuel supply programme.

If an idle man is known to be a devil’s workshop, an idle marketer with a huge capacity than NNPC could be worse – a willing tool to sabotage the fuel supply effort for selfish reasons.


Even in the best of times, the NNPC has not been the best of planners.

Under the current crisis, the situation appears to have worsened, because there are strong suggestions that the corporation did not do enough due diligence, in terms of advance planning and monitoring of the stock of fuel at the depots to know when they would run dry and ensure that fresh orders were placed on time to replenish depleting stocks.

Even where such stocks were experiencing unusual pressures, every forward planning country maintains a healthy strategic reserve or national reservoir it could draw from in contingencies to make up for any shortfall in supply till the import consignments arrive.

With the uncertainty and crisis the country is always exposed to each time there was a short delay in delivery of imported fuel cargoes, there are strong doubts that the country has any such strategic reserve or advance planning arrangement for fuel supply.

If there is, how long is that reserve capable of sustaining supply before the next crisis?

The effect of lack of planning has always been shortages, which always triggers ripples of panic buying by consumers perpetually unsure for how long the scarcity would last.


Despite a hugely inadequate supply by NNPC, a significant volume is being diverted by corrupt officials who connive with marketers and transport owners to divert allocations from depots either to hoard in underground tanks to create artificial scarcity, or smuggle to neighbouring countries to earn higher profits.

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, was stating the obvious when he said this week that at least 30 per cent of fuel allocations meant for different parts of the country were diverted daily to neighbouring countries like Cameroon, Chad, Togo and Benin Republic.

Despite efforts by the NNPC to curb such sharp practices by publicizing the daily truck outs from the depots, it was hardly enough to deter these saboteurs, who work with insiders to undermine the system.

Whereas marketers are supposed to get the product at the depots at about N77 per litre to retail at N86 at the pump, reports say corrupt depot officials give the allocations to marketers at about N105 per litre.

To recover their costs, such allocations are usually diverted to remote locations in the hinterlands where they are sold at cut throat prices of between N150 and N200 per litre to desperate consumers.


Even those marketers that had allocations to import and supply petroleum products are unable to do so due to lack of foreign exchange following the restriction imposed by the Central Bank of Nigeria on access to FOREX by some importers.

Some fuel marketers are hardly able to access dollars and open letters of credit for their imports.

Banks are reluctant to provide credit lines to enable marketers bring in more products. They are more interested in recovering outstanding amounts in terms of interests on previous loans and the differentials in foreign exchange rates.

This is at the heart of the current fuel crisis.


Fuel crisis, like break out of war, is the perfect time for good business for some Nigerians, who thrive in crisis situations, and would do everything to sustain the crisis.

The belief of such people is that if they do not create a desperate situation through fuel scarcity, they might be deprived the opportunity to make extra profits from the crisis that would ensue.

In the recent past, there were some Nigerians who amassed stupendous wealth from the murky waters of the fuel subsidy scam.

Most of those marketers who have tasted the allure of the subsidy wealth have reinvested their loots in strategic downstream oil industry facilities like tank farms, depots and transportation facilities, and developed capacities to dictate to even the NNPC the direction the fuel supply issue should go.

At will, such corrupt private individuals are the ones holding the government to ransom by cutting deals that are inimical to the collective interest of Nigerians.


The bulk of the marketers that enjoyed the subsidy fraud find the present administration’s determination to stop that arrangement an affront to their selfish interest.

For refusing to pay arrears of their subsidy claims, as was usually the case under the immediate past administration, the marketers would stop at nothing to frustrate government efforts, and have found the current fuel crisis the best time to get back at government.

In the face of foreign exchange scarcity, the NNPC was made to become the sole importer of petroleum products, to the exclusion of the independent marketers, which have the bulk of the fuel storage and distribution facilities.

Even when government negotiated with the upstream multinational companies for a $200 million foreign exchange buffer for their downstream affiliates over the next one year, the independent marketers were not involved.

That is why the recently invitation by the minister for the independent marketers to join hands with the government and other marketers to ensure adequate fuel supply has not been attractive to some operators.

Some of the marketers who responded are said to be cutting deals with some fuel importers on the high seas by delaying their import schedules to bring in products beyond the normal time, in a bid to attract costs that would make payment of subsidy inevitable.


The current fuel crisis has lingered longer than Nigerians are used to because corruption is fighting back. Reports say there is a power tussle in the NNPC between loyalists of the old order in the oil industry and the new order led by President Muhammadu Buhari and Ibe Kachikwu.

The old order feels threatened by the changes in the NNPC so far to uproot entrenched interests, particularly in the fuel supply front, and have resolved to frustrate every effort to change the status quo.

Every attempt to reform the NNPC’s operational processes, including the removal of fuel subsidy and rehabilitation of the refineries, have been criticized as ‘one-man show’.

When Mr. Kachikwu recently moved around some line managers and deputy managers in the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company, PPMC, while some others were asked to proceed on compulsory leave, most of the affected workers not only adopted a ‘siddon look’ attitude to work, but openly defied official directives, sabotaging efforts to turn the system around.

Frustrated by the antics of this group, the minister was compelled recently to blame “saboteurs” for the persistent fuel queues across the country.


Deregulation, as one of the key components of the Petroleum Industry Bill, is a policy that government expected would help open up the industry for more private sector participation in the downstream sector of the petroleum industry.

With more participants in the fuel supply process, the scarcity problem would be resolved.

The delay in the passage of the PIB, which would have paved the way for the take-off of deregulation, as a solution to the bad management of the oil industry, is seen as the reason for the perennial fuel shortage and the crisis consumers are facing.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Video - Nigeria to pay bondholders despite debt deferral

Nigeria's federal government said it will help pay states' creditors, including bondholders. This despite the finance ministry announcing that it will defer their debt obligations for the month of March as the regions struggle to pay civil servants. The International Monetary Fund forecasts growth in 2016 might recede to 2.3 percent. Nigeria may need to significantly increase borrowing to fund its budget and is in discussion with China, the World Bank and the African Development Bank, in addition to planning a number of renminbi-denominated bonds. The government's plan to widen the tax base and accelerate non-oil revenue to 87 percent this year is unlikely given the country's floundering economy and capital controls"

Nigeria to track trucks to fight fuel scarcity

The Nigerian government is planning to plant tracking devices on trucks as nearly a third of the country's fuel supply is being stolen in the midst of crippling shortages in Africa's largest oil producer.

About 30 percent of Nigeria's refined fuel is being "diverted" and often smuggled into neighboring countries, Emmanuel Kachikwu, state minister for petroleum resources, told a town hall meeting in Lagos, the commercial capital on Monday. None of the trucks transporting fuel across the country are being tracked, despite on and off shortages in the past year, he said.

"We need a whole army to stop this from happening," he said, referring to the widespread theft.

The most severe fuel scarcity in a year in Africa's most populous nation has left motorists paying more than double the government's official price for gasoline and put increasing pressure on a stagnating economy that's been hit by tumbling oil prices. The national statistics office blames the shortages for contributing to an 8 percent drop in labor productivity in the fourth quarter.

"They've done this before," Dolapo Oni, the Lagos-based head of energy research at Ecobank Transnational Inc. said, referring to Project Aquila, which put trackers on gasoline trucks. "Drivers tampered with them. It sounds like an interesting idea, but it's difficult to implement unless you have a sanction for all those operating without a tracker."

The government of President Muhammadu Buhari, who came to power last year on a wave of support for his change and anti-corruption campaign, has been hit by criticism for failing to deal with huge queues at fuel stations across the country.

The latest crisis has been worsened by central bank foreign-exchange controls that have left retailers paying higher costs to import supplies at a time when the government has removed subsidies and imposed a price cap at 87 naira a liter ($1.67 a gallon).

Kachikwu told the Lagos audience to "please give us your patience" as the government deals with the shortages. "This one is challenging for us," he said, before asking the crowd to stand and recite a pledge to "help this country change."

Nigeria currently doesn't have gas to generate enough electricity for the country

The Vice President of Nigeria, Mr. Yemi Osinbajo, on Monday, lamented that the country does not have sufficient gas to fire the country’s power plants to generate up to 7,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity.

This was even as the President of the Nigerian Association for Energy Economics, NAEE, Mr. Wumi Iledare, stated that in line with the current realities in the global petroleum industry and the foreign exchange rate, the price of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, also known as petrol, in the country should be about N120 per litre.

Osinbajo, who was speaking at the NAEE/International Association for Energy Economics, Annual International Conference 2016 in Abuja, expressed his disappointment in the fact that despite Nigeria’s enormous natural gas reserves of over 185 trillion cubic feet, the country is still faced with huge energy supply problems.

Osinbajo, who was represented by his Senior Special Assistant (Power and Privatisation), Chiedu Ugbo, said: “In fact, it is an irony, that we do not have sufficient gas to fire our power plants up to 7,000MW, yet in energy industry circles, Nigeria is described as more of a gas territory than an oil territory.”

He pointed out that presently, the country has over 12,500MW of installed electricity generating capacity, consisting of gas thermal and hydropower plants, stating of that capacity, about 7,000MW is available to be generated if the required fuel is available.

He, however, disclosed that in spite of the available capacity, power plants in the country, over the last couple of weeks, distributed less than 4,000MW of electricity to consumers across the country.

Osinbajo blamed the development on inadequate investment on gas facilities,gas flaring, inadequate gas infrastructure and vandalism among others.

He said, “We have limited gas molecules to supply to the power plants. This is a result of many years of under-investment in gas gathering and processing for domestic consumption and also many years of gas flaring. Nigeria alone flares about half of the 40 billion cubic meters of associated gas estimated to be flared in Africa annually.

To address the situation, Osinbajo disclosed that the Federal Government is aware that there is no alternative to electric energy for energizing and powering Nigeria’s economic growth and development; hence it is determined to resolve the challenges to achieving sustainable energy supply in the country.

“We are working tirelessly towards resolving the gas-to-power challenge, ensuring that the needed investment will be made in gas gathering and processing for domestic consumption especially for power plants and at the same time working to ensure sustainability of supply of existing gas volumes,” he noted.

Also speaking, Iledare stated that he does not see the low oil price as a disaster for Nigeria, stating that it offers the country the opportunity to adopt fiscal responsibility practices and reduce fiscal irresponsibility.

He further stated the low oil price allows the country to take advantage of the situation to allow prices in the sector to be determined at current international market price, while he recommended a PMS’ price of N120 per litre, stating that the Federal Government had no business regulating the sector.

He said managing the petroleum sector has become‎ elusive, adding that regulators should be autonomous and any regulation put forward should have the backing of the law.

He warned that it is fool-hardy for the country to perpetually develop oil and gas resources for cash, instead of for the basis of satisfying the country’s energy needs.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Video - President Buhari continues to defend the Naira

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari, continues to remain firm in his stance against the devaluation of the Naira.Buhari and CBN, governor, Godwin Emefiele, who meet at least weekly, say that the Naira is fairly valued on the official market and that letting it drop would only harm poor Nigerians by pushing up prices. Pundits believe that history is repeating itself, as it's not the first time Buhari has resisted a devaluation. During his first stint in power in the 1980s, when oil prices had just crashed, he ignored advice to depreciate the currency and refused financial assistance from the international monetary fund. Some investors and analysts have criticized the position as making little economic sense.

2 million Nigerians displaced by Boko Haram

A total of 1,934,765 displaced persons, IDPs, are currently living in formal camps, host communities and satellite camps in liberated communities as a result of insurgency in North Eastern States of Borno, Yobe, Taraba, Gombe, Bauchi and Adamawa states.

This was disclosed by the Yola Camp Coordinator , Saad Bello, who, on behalf of the Director General of NEMA, Muhammad Sani Sidi, took the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, round the facilities at Malkohi IDP Camp in Yola, Adamawa State at the weekend.

He said there were 32 formal camps in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States with a total of 189,783 IDPs. Borno has 19 camps with 150, 858 IDPs; Yobe has 9 camps with 31, 988 IDPs and Adamawa 4 camps with 6, 937 IDPs.

The Camp Coordinator added that there were 14 satellite camps in liberated communities, mainly in Borno State with 216,184 IDPs. The camps with the highest population are Ngala with 70,505; Dikwa 53,636; Bama 27, 00 and Damboa/Sabon Gari 25,311.

Mr. Saad said host communities in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states have a total of 1,391,613 IDPs. Borno state has the highest with 1, 158, 362; Adamawa 125, 689 and Yobe 107, 562.

He said "Federal Government through the coordinating agency, NEMA and relevant line Ministries, Departments and Agencies have been trying to meet the needs of the IDPs in the provision of food, nutrition, non-food items (NFIs), temporary shelter, medicament, psycho-social therapy, security and protection.

He said as the government continued in the efforts to meet the needs of the IDPs, more supports were critically required for the IDPs across the three identified kinds of camps before they return back to their communities.

The critical areas where further support is needed are food, non-food items (including basic household needs), shelter, WASH, education, nutrition, protection, health and sexual reproductive health, and psycho-social helps.

The U.S. Ambassador to the UN , Samantha Power, who led a high level delegation from US to the Malkohi IDPs camp and host communities told them that they were there to determine what more could be done to defeat Boko Haram so that they can return back to their communities.

"I know how difficult these last years have been for you and on behalf of President Barack Obama, I express my sympathy and my condolences for all you have lost and our resolve to try to make things better together," she said.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Video - Former female captives of Boko Haram speak with Aljazeera

Former female captives of Boko Haram captivity find life much harder than they thought when they regained their freedom.

Their situation is further compounded by a feeling of rejection and lack of care.

Video - 37,000 ghost workers discovered in Nigeria's government payroll

Nigerian authorities say they have uncovered more than 37,000 ghost workers in the federal payroll. Head of the country's anti-corruption agency, Ibrahim Magu, said 17,000 of them were recent discoveries and that there could be more. Nigeria has been trying to clean up the government payroll in an attempt to plug leakages in government finances.

Nigerian MP slapped by prison boss aide

The head of Nigeria's prisons service has been summoned to appear before parliament after his security guards allegedly slapped a female MP.

Onyemaechi Mrakpor, 49, and a member of the lower house, said she was attacked for overtaking the motorcade of Peter Ezenwa Ekpendu on Wednesday.

Mr Ekpendu reportedly watched as the lawmaker was assaulted by his aides within the premises of the parliament.

Mrs Mrakpor was in tears when she reported the incident, one MP said.

"This is the time we need to rally behind her not just as a member but as a woman," MP Femi Gbajabiamila said, The Herald newspaper reported.

It is not clear when Mr Ekpendu, who has not yet reacted to the report, will face the MPs.

Nigerian officials often travel in large convoys, forcing other motorists to make way. There have been frequent accusations that those who refuse to pull over are assaulted.

All heads of security agencies in the parliament have also been summoned to explain why they failed to protect the lawmaker.

Nigerian army tried to cover up massacre

Officials of the Nigerian Army made concerted efforts to cover up the mass slaughter of over 350 Nigerian citizens, including women and children, between December 12-14, 2015, in Zaria, Amnesty International has said.

In a newly-released report about the killing, which involved members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, IMN, Amnesty International said it was able to uncover evidence of a possible mass grave in Zaria neighbourhood of Mando with the aid of satellite imaging.

The report, titled: “Unearthing the truth: Unlawful killings and mass cover-up in Zaria”, is based on interviews with 92 people, including victims, witnesses from the Shi’ite and other communities, relatives of victims, residents of the areas where the incidents took place, lawyers and medical personnel and contains shocking eyewitness testimony of large-scale unlawful killings by the Nigerian military and exposes a crude attempt by the authorities to destroy and conceal evidence.

“The true horror of what happened over those two days in Zaria is only now coming to light. Bodies were left littered in the streets and piled outside the mortuary. Some of the injured were burned alive,” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for Africa.

“Our research, based on witness testimonies and analysis of satellite images, has located one possible mass grave. It is time now for the military to come clean and admit where it secretly buried hundreds of bodies.”

The massacre of Shi’ites and continued detention of their leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, have earned the Nigerian government widespread international condemnation, including a probe by the International Criminal Court.

In February, the Islamic Human Rights Commission, IHRC, a United Kingdom-based Muslim advocacy organisation, has dragged President Muhammadu Buhari, the Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai, the chief of army staff, Tukur Buratai, to the International Criminal Court (ICC) over the massacre.

The organisation also asked the ICC to investigate the emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, and the emir of Zaria, Shehu Idris, for human rights violation and crimes against humanity.

Other army officers and persons the IHRC asked the ICC to probe for their roles in the massacre are: spokesperson of the Nigerian Army, Sani Usman, General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the Nigerian Army, Kaduna, Adeniyi Oyebade, the Commander Nigerian Depot, Chief of Defence Staff, Abayomi Olonisakin, Director Military Intelligence, Chief of Defence intelligence – AVM Riku Morgan, AK Ibrahim – Commander 1 Division Garrison, Nigerian Army, Kaduna and Col. F.M Babayo.

The rest are Capt Ben, Adjutant Depot, Nigerian Army; Adeniyi Oyebade, General Officer Commanding, 1 Division Garrison Kaduna; Umar Labdo; Sambo Rigachukun; Bala Lau; Yahaya Jingir and; Kabir Gombe.

In a detailed report, the IHRC argued that attacks of the army on members of IMN between December 12 and 14 in Zaria qualify as crime against humanity and therefore called on the ICC to initiate an investigation into the incident.

In April, the ICC announced the commencement of detailed investigation into the killings.

According to Amnesty International’s findings, more than 350 people are believed to have been unlawfully killed by the military between 12 and 14 December, following a confrontation between members of IMN and soldiers in Zaria, Kaduna State.

IMN supporters – some armed with batons, knives, and machetes – had refused to clear the road near their headquarters, the Hussainiyya, for a military convoy to pass. The army has claimed that IMN supporters attacked the convoy in an attempt to assassinate the Chief of Army Staff. IMN members deny this.

Some people were killed as a result of the indiscriminate fire while others appeared to have been deliberately targeted, Mr. Belay said.

The report highlighted the agony of relatives of the victims of the massacre, which the federal government has continued to deny.

Zainab, a 16-year-old schoolgirl, was quoted by Amnesty International: “We were in our school uniforms. My friend Nusaiba Abdullahi was shot in her forehead. We took her to a house where they treated the injured but, before reaching the house, she already died.

The cover-up

Amnesty International said after the incident, the military sealed off the areas around El-Zakzaky’s compound, the Hussainiyya and other locations. Bodies were taken away, sites were razed to the ground, the rubble removed, bloodstains washed off, and bullets and spent cartridge removed from the streets.

Witnesses saw piles of bodies outside the morgue of Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital in Zaria. A senior medical source told Amnesty International that the military sealed off the area around the morgue for two days. During that time he saw army vehicles “coming and going”.

A witness described to Amnesty International what he saw outside the hospital mortuary on the evening of 14 December: “It was dark and from far I could only see a big mound but when I got closer I saw it was a huge pile of corpses on top of each other. I have never seen so many dead bodies. I got very scared and run away. It was a terrible sight and I can’t get it out of my mind.”

Another witness told the organisation how he had seen diggers excavating holes at the site of the suspected mass grave: “There were five or six large trucks and several smaller military vehicles and they spent hours digging and unloading the trucks’ cargo into the hole they dug and then covered it again with the earth they had dug out. They were there from about 1 or 2 am until about 5 am. I don’t know what they buried. It looked like bodies, but I could not get near.”

Amnesty International identified and visited the location of a possible mass grave near Mando. Satellite images of the site taken on 2 November and 24 December 2015 show disturbed earth spanning an area of approximately 1000 square metres. Satellite pictures also show the complete destruction of buildings and mosques.

“It is clear that the military not only used unlawful and excessive force against men, women and children, unlawfully killing hundreds, but then made considerable efforts to try to cover-up these crimes,” said Netsanet Belay.

“Four months after the massacre the families of the missing are still awaiting news of their loved ones. A full independent forensic investigation is long overdue. The bodies must be exhumed, the incident must be impartially and independently investigated and those responsible must be held to account.”

On Monday 25 April, the military are expected to give evidence to the Judicial Commission of Inquiry established by the Kaduna State Government in January 2016.

On 11 April, a Kaduna State government official told the Judicial Commission of Inquiry that the bodies of 347 members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) were collected from the hospital mortuary and an army depot in Zaria and buried secretly in a mass grave near Mando (outside the town of Kaduna) on the night of 14-15 December.

The IMN claim a further 350 people who went missing during the incidents in Zaria remain unaccounted for.

IMN leader Al-Zakzaky and his wife Zeinat Al-Zakzaky were arrested and held incommunicado. They were only allowed access to their lawyer for the first time on 1 April 2015, three and a half months after their arrest.

Amnesty International called for those IMN supporters charged in connection with this incident to be tried promptly and fairly and for those still held in detention without charge to be either immediately charged or released.

The group also urged the Nigerian government to thoroughly investigate the killings and punish those responsible without recourse to death the penalty.

Premium Times

U.S. to help Nigeria fix fuel crisis

The U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, on Thursday promised that the U.S Embassy in Nigeria would offer technical assistance to help Nigeria solve its lingering challenge of fuel scarcity.

Ms. Power made the promise on Thursday in Abuja while fielding questions from journalists during her visit to the minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama.

“Just last night when I was coming from the airport, I saw long lines at petrol stations here in Nigeria.

“And I really feel for the people of this country, who are going through this difficult economic time.

“And I think this is something the embassy has promised to offer whatever technical advice, counsel and technical assistance that we can offer.

“But we know that some of the best minds in Nigeria are thinking about that, including the ministers in this government,” she said.

Ms. Power said the U.S would discuss with Nigeria on diversification of its economy.

She said the drop in oil prices had caused hardship for countries that are oil dependent.

The envoy, who had earlier met with some civil society organisations, said the meeting deliberated on the deteriorating condition in Northern Nigeria due to the threat posed by Boko Haram insurgency.

She attributed the poor condition in the North-Eastern part of Nigeria to economic hardship exacerbated by the insurgency since inter-city trade had been hampered.

“In terms of our meeting with civil society, Nigerian civil society is one of the most vibrant, articulate and rigorous in the world.

“What we heard a lot about was the questions of how the conditions in the north are deteriorating because of the threat posed by Boko Haram.

“The economic hardship in the region has been exacerbated by the presence of Boko Haram and trade across the border has now come to virtual standstill.

“We heard about very difficult humanitarian conditions in Northern Nigeria and we will travel to Northern Nigeria tomorrow (Friday) and we will try to get a feel of it for first hand,” she said.

The envoy said the meeting with civil society organizations also focused on what more could be done on abductions and kidnappings, particularly of Chibok girls.

She said the issue would be discussed with the federal government by sharing whatever information at the disposal of the US government in a timely manner.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Nigerian military says Boko Haram luring young people with loans

Boko Haram is luring young people by giving them loans as a bait for membership, the Nigerian military warned.

As part of the "clandestine dispensation," the terror group is offering loans to young entrepreneurs in the country's troubled northeast as part of recruitment, the military said in a statement Wednesday.

Butchers, traders, tailors, beauticians and other vocational entrepreneurs are major targets of the "unholy business engagement," it said.

"After such loans, the beneficiaries are given the option of either joining the group or risk being killed if they fail to pay the loan as at when due," the military said. "The payment has been surreptitiously programmed to fail by the benefactor, the Boko Haram."

Authorities urged residents to avoid loans or financial assistance from nonconventional sources.

Boko Haram's desperation to recruit members shows the sustained offensive by government forces is working, the military said.

But critics say the government has not been as effective in fighting the terror group. Last week marked the two-year anniversary of Boko Haram's abduction of nearly 300 schoolgirls from the town of Chibok.

Most of the girls are still held captive, forcefully married to Boko Haram fighters, and in some cases used as suicide bombers. CNN obtained exclusive footage last week that shows some of the girls are alive. While the video was sent to negotiators by their captors as a "proof of life," the government did not act on it at the time.

Boko Haram, which means western education is a sin in the local Hausa language, has become the deadliest terror group for its attacks in Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon. It has killed more people than ISIS, which it reportedly pledged allegiance to, according to the Global Terrorism Index.

The group is blamed for attacks on government targets as well as schools, mosques and churches.

It aims to impose a stricter enforcement of Sharia law across Nigeria.

Video - Released video show some of the kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls still alive

A newly-surfaced video is giving Nigerian families hope that children kidnapped by Boko Haram are still alive.

Nigeria to start paying salaries by the 25th of every month

The Accountant-General of the Federation, AGF, Ahmed Idris, says the federal government plans to begin payment of staff salaries by the 25th of every month as directed by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Mr. Idris, who disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Wednesday, said “this is going to be given a test, I believe, by this month”.

The AGF also said the government was working on a new arrangement, which, if approved, would ensure payment of the salaries before the monthly meeting of the Federal Accounts Allocation Committee, FAAC.

According to him, salaries are usually paid after the FAAC meeting, where revenue accruing to the federation’s account is shared among the federal, state and local governments.

“There is a standing instruction of Mr President to pay salary on or before 24 or 25 of every month and we will try as much as possible to comply and to abide by that.

“We are taking a step further to make a provision whereby we can accommodate salary payments even before FAAC.

“This is going to be given a test I believe by this month.

“We will go to seek necessary approval of our political masters to make sure that at least salary and other statutory payments are made even before FAAC.

“Because we can project how much they are and therefore we can prepare and hit the ground running to make them realisable and actualised.

“Even when we delay FAAC, we can still pay salary,” he said.

Mr. Idris dispelled the widely held belief that the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy was responsible for the delay in the payment of salaries and attributed the situation to the crash in global oil prices, which affected the inflow of income to the country.

“Nigeria is practically making about 30 to 40 per cent of what it used to make by way of revenue from oil and that has affected inflow generally.

“These inflows are what the federal, state and local governments receive to service the economy.

“It is when we receive these resources and sit at the end of the month for FAAC that the resources are shared among the three tiers of government,’’ he said.

Citing the benefits of TSA, Mr. Idris said more than N2.7 trillion had been realised under a single account domiciled at the Central Bank of Nigeria.

He also said the cost of borrowing by government agencies had been reduced substantially and that the economy was already a beneficiary of the policy.

“The monies are stimulating the economy in a way that delivery of social goods, services and efficiency in government expenditure are being achieved.

“So I believe that they are already serving the purpose for which they are meant and they are within the economy,” he said.

He said he was optimistic having seen the benefits of the TSA policy to the Federal Government, states governments would key into it.

Mr. Idris said any insinuations that the policy would lead to laying off of staff by deposit money banks was unfounded as the policy was not intended to disrupt the operations of those banks.

He, therefore, advised commercial banks to re-strategise on how to make profit without relying on government funds.

“I think banks need to really focus themselves and re-direct themselves to face traditional banking business and not rely heavily on public resources.

“They should be more strategic and focused and I believe that they will be better for it,” he said.

The TSA policy was introduced in September 2015 to ensure that government’s resources are centralised in a single account.

It was introduced to block leakages in the system to ensure transparency and efficiency in the management of government resources.

Suicide bombers attack refugee camp in northeast Nigeria - 8 confirmed dead

Two female suicide bombers have killed at least eight people at a camp for people displaced by the jihadist Boko Haram insurgency in northeast Nigeria, a community security force member and a customs official said on Thursday.

The bombings happened around 8 a.m. (0700 GMT) on Wednesday in the town of Banki on the edge of Borno state, near the border with Cameroon. An attack in February on an internally displaced persons camp, also in Borno, killed 60 people.

Details of Wednesday's attack were slow to emerge as Banki is remote and largely disconnected from mobile phone networks. The state of Borno is where Boko Haram began their insurgency seven years ago. The group wants to create a state adhering to strict sharia law.

"Two female suicide bombers who were initially thought to be IDPs blew themselves up in the camp," said Khalid Aji, a member of a grassroots community security group based in Konduga, a Borno district nearly 100km from Banki.

"The first one occurred at about 8 a.m. and the second followed few minutes later. Eight people died and 12 were wounded," he added.

Aji said members of his organisation in Banki who helped to evacuate victims gave him details of the attack.

There has been no claim of responsibility for the attack.

A senior Nigeria Customs Service official, who asked not to be named, also said eight people were killed but put the number of wounded at 15.

Banki, which is around 120 km from the state capital Maiduguri, was seized by Boko Haram in 2013 but Nigerian troops drove the militant group out of the town early last year.

Boko Haram once controlled an area roughly the size of Belgium in northeast Nigeria, but in early 2014 they were pushed out by Nigerian troops aided by soldiers from neighbouring countries.

The jihadist group has since stepped up cross-border attacks and carried out suicide bombings in markets, bus stations and places of worship.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Video - Nigeria no longer top oil producer in Africa

Nigeria has lost its position as Africa's biggest oil producer to Angola. According to the latest data from the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, it's crude oil production dipped by 67,000 barrels per day last month.

Nigerian judges sacked for lying about age

The National Judicial Council said on Tuesday that it had sanctioned two judges of the Niger State High Court, Justices Idris Evuti and Tanko Usman, for allegedly falsifying their dates of birth.

The NJC also said it also sanctioned another Lagos State‎ High Court judge, Justice O. Gbajabiamila, for allegedly delayed delivery of judgment in a suit for 22 months.

‎NJC’s Acting Director of Information, Mr. Soji ‎Oye, said in a statement that the council had recommended Justices Evuti and Gbajabiamila to their respective states governors (Niger and Lagos respectively) for compulsory retirement.

Oye said both Justices Evuti and Gbajabiamila had been placed on suspension pending when the Niger State Governor, Mr. Abubakar Bello, and his Lagos State counterpart, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, would take decision on the NJC’s recommendations.

He said Justice Usman was not recommended to the Niger State governor for compulsory retirement because the judge had already retired as of the time the NJC took the decision at ‎its meeting which was held April 13 and 14, 2016.

But the NJC’s spokesperson explained that ‎the council had written to the Niger State Government to deduct from Justice Usman’s gratuity, the salaries received by him from June 2015 when he should have retired from the bench.

He also said the NJC had recommended to the Niger State Government to deduct all salaries received by Justice Evuti from September 2015 till date from his gratuity and remit same to the council which is the body that pays salaries of judicial officers in the country.

‎The statement read in part, “Council also considered a petition written by Mohammed Idris Eggun against Hon. Justices Idris M. J. Evuti and Tanko Yusuf Usman of the High Court of Niger State on falsification of their dates of birth.

“A fact-finding committee set-up by the council found from the records made available to it that the Hon. Justice Evuti used three different dates of birth over the years as 15th September, 1950, 10th April, 1953 and 1st April, 1953 and therefore recommended his compulsory retirement with immediate effect.

“Apart from the recommendation for compulsory retirement of Hon. Justice Idris M. J. Evuti, Council recommended to the Government of Niger State to deduct all salaries received by him from September, 2015 till date from his gratuity and remit same to the National Judicial Council that pays salaries of all Judicial Officers in the Federation.

“With respect to the Hon. Justice Tanko Yusuf Usman, Council did not recommend his compulsory retirement because it had already accepted his retirement with effect from 1st March, 2016.

“However, council decided to write to the Government of Niger State, to deduct from the gratuity the salaries received by him from June 2015 when His Lordship should have retired from the bench.‎”

‎In respect of Justice ‎of Justice Gbajabiamila of Lagos State High Court, the NJC said apart from delaying judgment in a suit, ID12792007 – P. K. Ojo Vs SDV & SCOA Nigeria Plc, for 22 months after adoption of written addresses, the judge also failed to publish his judgment 40 days after delaying it.

‎The judge was also said to have, among other alleged professional misconduct, continued to hear the case after he had been notified of the pendency of a motion for a stay of execution at the Court of Appeal and that an appeal had been entered.

The statement read, “Hon. Justice O. Gbajabiamila was recommended for compulsory retirement from Office to the Governor of Lagos State, pursuant to the findings by the council on the allegations contained in the Petitions written against His Lordship by Mr. C. A. Candide Johnson, SAN.

“The allegations: That the Hon. Judge delivered judgment in Suit No ID12792007 P. K. Ojo Vs SDV & SCOA Nigeria Plc, twenty-two months (22), after written addresses were adopted by all the Counsel and Thirty-five (35) months after the close of evidence in the Suit, contrary to the Constitutional Provisions that judgments should be delivered within a period of 90 days;

“That His Lordship did not publish a copy of judgment he delivered on 24th December, 2013 until after 40 days, contrary to the provision of the Constitution which required that a copy of the Judgment of a Superior Court of Record be given to Parties in the case within seven days of delivery.

“That the Hon. Judge continued to hear the Suit in his court after he had been notified of the pendency of a motion for a stay of execution at the Court of Appeal and that an appeal had been entered.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Video - Nigeria cracks down on meth labs

Nigeria’s drug law enforcement agency says it's trying to stop a rise in methamphetamine production.

In the last four years, 11 laboratories have been dismantled across the country.

Related story: Video - Meth labs cropping up in Nigeria

Aide to former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan arrested

A top aide to former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan was arrested by the country’s anti-corruption agency on Monday.

Waripamowei Dudafa, who served as a special assistant on domestic matters to Jonathan, was picked up by agents of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos, Nigeria’s Premium Times reported.

Dudafa was wanted by the EFCC for his alleged involvement in an arms scandal in which $2.1 billion of government funds earmarked for fighting Boko Haram was diverted by government officials.

Nigeria’s former national security advisor, Sambo Dasuki, was arrested in December 2015 on charges of fraud and money laundering, which he denies. Dasuki allegedly distributed the funds among members of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, including Dudafa, for use in campaigning ahead of presidential primaries in December 2014. Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress defeated PDP candidate Jonathan in the March 2015 general election.

Newsweek contacted the EFCC for confirmation of Dudafa’s arrest but received no immediate reply. There is no suggestion that Jonathan did anything wrong and the former president has not been charged by the EFCC.

President Buhari has made tackling corruption a focus of his administration since his inauguration in May 2015. Endemic corruption costs the West African country millions of dollars per year, with Nigerian Information Minister Lai Mohammed saying in January that the country lost of 1.34 trillion naira ($6.8 billion) in public funds between 2006 and 2013 at the hands of just 55 individuals, including government ministers and bankers.

Nigerian military troops ambushed by Boko Haram

Suspected Boko Haram insurgents on Tuesday ambushed the convoy of the Acting General Officer Commanding, GOC, 7 Division, the Nigerian Army has said.

The Army spokesperson, Sani Usman, said in a statement that “the leading elements of the Acting General Officer Commanding, GOC, 7 Division Nigerian Army, Brigadier General Victor Ezugwu’s leading convoy was about 8.30am on Tuesday morning ambushed by suspected Boko Haram terrorists enroute to visit troops in Bama, Borno state, north east Nigeria”.

He said “although 1 soldier lost his live and 2 others were injured, they were able to clear the ambush, killing some of the terrorists and recovered vehicle and weapons from them”.

He said the recovered items include a Toyota Hilux vehicle, 2 AK-47 rifles and several ammunitions.

The Acting GOC has continued his operational visit to Bama, while the body of the late soldier and the wounded had been evacuated to Maiduguri, the statement added.

He added that Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Yusuf Buratai, a lieutenant general, has also spoken with the GOC.

“The Nigerian Army wish to reiterate its unalloyed commitment and determination to continue to clear the remnants of the Boko Haram terrorists wherever they might be hiding,” he said.

The attack came a day after soldiers clashed with Boko Haram militants in Borno State.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Video - Villagers return home after Nigerian military chase off Boko Haram

The Nigerian army says it has succeeded in chasing Boko Haram fighters from some of the territory they held.

Daniel Amokachi shares the incredible experience of winning olympic gold

Former Nigeria international Daniel Amokachi has stated that he will forever cherish winning the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games football gold.

The 1996 Nigeria team, nicknamed the Dream Team because of the numerous stars in the squad, became the first African team to win an Olympic football gold after defeating Argentina 3-2 in the final.

And last week Thursday, the current U-23 Eagles were drawn in Group B alongside Japan, Colombia and Sweden at this year's Rio Olympic Games.

In a chat with, Amokachi re- collects the impact winning the gold had in Nigeria 20 years ago.

“Back then Nigeria was on sanction from the United Nations and the football that we played during the Olympics made Nigerians forget about the problems they were going through by focussing on football,” said Amokachi.

“The manner in which we did it made us incredibly happy. Playing the giants of South America, and then coming back from behind against the likes of Brazil in the semi-final and Argentina in the final.

“It was an incredible experience being an Olympian and winning a gold medal. It’s something I'll cherish all my life."

The 2013 Africa Cup of Nations-winning assistant coach attributed the Super Eagles failure to qualify for next year's AFCON to poor mentality of the players.

“The players when they return to play in Africa on international duty forget to switch [mentally]. It’s something that we kind of struggle with – not only as Nigerians, but as Africans," Amokachi added.

"You play in Europe and everything you get is professional from A-Z and then when you come to Africa, the likes of transportation and accommodation can seem a distraction.

“The players forget to switch to being an African when they come back and that always makes them perform less than what they do at club level. I’m sure that has contributed to Nigeria not making it to back-to-back championships."

He went on to describe the Eagles' inability to be in Gabon as a setback for the country's football.

Amokachi said: "Not qualifying for the tournament is not good enough for a country like Nigeria, but that’s football. It makes you sit up and say: ‘We have a lot of work that needs to be done."

Speaking on his appointment as head coach of second division side JS Hercules, Amokachi expressed optimism that despite some of the setbacks, he believes he has what it takes to succeed.

“Freezing was the not the word, that’s an understatement – it was minus 35 degrees [Celsius] when I arrived!" he explained.

“I was leaving a country that was roasting, about 38 degrees when I left Nigeria. The day before I travelled, I checked the weather forecast with my wife and she joked: ‘Do you really want to go?’ [laughs] I said ‘Of course!’. The weather in Finland is an obstacle but with all obstacles when you’re trying to achieve something, you throw them out the window.

“The outdoor pitches are frozen and everything we do at the moment is indoor. You have a number of other teams using those facilities and it’s hard to get a full pitch to yourself, which can make the programme you’re trying to lay down difficult. But I am a Nigerian, an African. I’m used to challenges and I would love to see it through.

"It is my first experience as an African manager coaching in Europe and there are not many Africans who are head coaches in Europe,” said the former Club Brugge, Everton and Besiktas star. “They are giving me a platform as an African to showcase what I can do and if I do well, it's an open door for other African coaches."

U.S. to repatriate $480m of Abacha loot

United States has agreed to repatriate to Nigeria about $480million believed to have been stolen by the late Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha and his family.

But the conditions for the repatriation of the cash and other details are being worked out, The Nation has learnt.

Also, it was learnt that the Department of Justice in the United States now has a Kleptocracy Unit, which will assist to track looted funds and money laundered by public officials from Nigeria and other nations.

The planned repatriation is the outcome of the recent meeting between the Department of Justice and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN) and the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission( EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu.

A source, who spoke in confidence with our correspondent, said: “This is the largest loot ever traced to a former Nigerian public officer in the U.S.

“The DOJ, the AGF and the EFCC have concluded all the talks; we are in the process of repatriation of the $480million.

“Although there are interventions from private lawyers, the DOJ prefers a government-to-government deal.

“ I can tell you that the funds will soon be repatriated. If there is anything left, it has to do with the conditions which the US will attach to the utilisation of the funds.

“The US is likely to advise on specific areas to spend the funds on and the project monitoring mechanisms. It does not want the cash re-looted.”

In the source’s view, there is no hiding place for Nigerian treasury looters in the United States anymore.

“The Federal Government and the U.S. on January 14, 2003 signed the Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters between the two nations. So, no corrupt public officers from Nigeria can hide in the US.

“At the session with AGF and the EFCC boss, they told the Nigerian team that the DOJ now has Kleptocracy Unit which is closing tabs on Political Office Holders and other public officers in this country and many other nations.”

The Department of Justice of the United States had in the last few years initiated forfeiture proceedings against the Abachas.

The proceedings made it possible for the Abacha family and its associates to forfeit over $550million and £95,910 in 10 accounts and six investment portfolios linked to them in France, Britain, British Virgin Islands and the United States.

The Criminal Division of the Office of International Affairs of the US Department of Justice, in a letter to the Federal Government, identified the accounts where Abacha loot was hidden.

The highlights are as follows: Doraville Properties Corporation – $287 million in Account Number 80020796 located at Deutsche Bank International Limited in the Bailiwick of Jersey; HSBC Fund Administration (Jersey) – $12 million in account number S-104460 in the Bailiwick of Jersey; and Rayville International, S. A – $1 million in account number 223405880IUSD at Banque SBA in Paris, France.

Others are Standard Alliance Financial Services Limited – $144 million in account 223406510PUSD at Banque SBA in Paris; Mecosta Securities – $21.7 million in accounts 10030688 and 100138409 at Standard Bank in the United Kingdom; and HSBC Bank Plc – $1.6 million in account number 38175076.

Also listed are Blue Holding (1) Pte Ltd/ Ridley Group Limited – £6,806,900; Blue Holding (2) Pte. Ltd/ Ridley Group Limited – £21,846,983; Blue Holding (1) Pte. Ltd/ Ridley Group Limited – £10,293,343.58; Blue Holding (2) Pte. Ltd/Ridley Group Limited – £56,962,996.26

It was learnt that the Abacha family had pledged to cooperate with the Federal Government.

But the EFCC is still probing the whereabouts of £22.5m (N6.18billion) loot which the late Gen. Abacha allegedly stashed away on the Island of Jersey.

No fewer than three prominent Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) have been quizzed by the EFCC on the whereabouts of the records of the recovered £22.5m (N6.18billion).

According to records, the late Head of State allegedly stashed the funds through a Lebanese called Bhojwani.

But when the Office of the AGF was alerted by a whistle-blower, the administration of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan opened discussions with the Attorney-General of the Island of Jersey.

“The AG of the Island of Jersey cooperated fully with the government, leading to the repatriation of the £22.5m. EFCC is still searching for the records from those involved.

A top EFCC source said last night: “We have not closed investigation into the whereabouts of this money.”

Friday, April 15, 2016

Video - Author writing book based on Chibok girls kidnapping

The author of book on the Chibok girls has been visiting distraught parents, as she puts finishing touches to her book. Aisha Muhammed-Oyebode says documenting the girls’ story was a way of acknowledging their pain. Here's more on that.

Video - Football fans worried about possible FIFA suspension

A section of football fans in Nigeria have expressed displeasure towards the latest warnings of Nigeria's suspension by world football governing body, FIFA, over interference. For the third time since 2010, FIFA has threatened to ban Nigeria from the sport, the latest twist in Nigeria's football administration woes. FIFA has warned the country not to implement a court ruling ordering the removal of Football Federation boss, Amaju Pinnick, from office.

Nigeria can't afford nuclear technology

The association stated that it is unaffordable and suggested that the country should consider exploring other alternatives, such as coal and solar energy, to boost power generation and not nuclear technology.

According to the Guardian, in a statement signed by the national chairman of the NIEEE, Emmanuel Akinwole, the association said that Nigeria lacks a system that promotes a maintenance philosophy to engage itself in such a high discipline project as is required by nuclear energy.

Nuclear technology is expensive

Akinwole noted that nuclear energy is expensive, adding that nations like Europe are scaling down on the use of nuclear technology due to the associated risks and costs.

He further highlighted that in the past, almost all projects of that size in Nigeria were either not completed or could not be managed and sustained.

Akinwole then recommended that focus should rather be on projects that could boost the country’s economy, which are not properly managed, including the Ajaokuta steel mills, aluminium smelting plant, Nigerian paper mills, Discos and Gencos.

He advised that the government should discard the idea of deploying nuclear technology in the generation of power for now and rather focus its resources to unlocking the approximately 5,000MW of generation capacity that is nearing completion.

150MW of power stranded

In a separate statement, during a meeting between the minister of power, works and housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola and stakeholders in the power sector, it surfaced that about 150MW of power at the Odukpani National Independent Power Plant is stranded.

The ministry's permanent secretary, Louis Edozien, instructed the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company to fast-track the distribution of the stranded power to lines and sub-stations.

However, according to the media, the Niger Delta Power Holding Company Limited is already working on plans to distribute the stranded megawatts to customers in Calabar and Ikot Ekpene following the directive.

Nigerian government approves direct flight from Nigeria to China

The Nigerian government has granted an airliner, Air Peace, a license to operate international flights from southeast city of Enugu to China and other areas, an official said Thursday.

The recognition would open a new vista in the economy of the state, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, the state governor during the closing ceremony of the First Enugu Investment Summit.

The governor said by approving the license of the airline, President Muhammadu Buhari had shown himself as having the interest of all sections of the country at heart.

Ugwuanyi said the state would never be the same again having had a successful summit that attracted investors across the world.

"We have not only showcased the vast potentials in the state, but from reactions of participants, it does appear that we have been able to provoke an unprecedented interest from investors across the world," he added.

"The journey to economic prosperity has commenced. The light of the economic dawn that has been lit through this summit will never be allowed to die," he said.

Ugwuanyi thanked delegates who made the summit a success and pledged to create an enabling environment for interested investors.

Earlier in his presentation, the Chairman of Air Peace Ltd, Allen Onyema, said the airline would soon commence flights from the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu to China.

The chairman said it was time for Nigeria to be a hub for West and Central African sub-regions.

"President Muhammadu Buhari in his magnanimity on March 31, 2016 approved for us the right to fly to five different countries and we decided now to make Enugu State the hub," he said.

Onyema said Air Peace would fly to India, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Atlanta in the U.S. and China, adding that the China flight would commence in a few months.

"There is no other airline in West and Central Africa that flies direct to China," he added.

"We will use our airline to bring passengers from countries in West and Central Africa to Enugu and move them to China," Onyema said.

"We are going to deploy a cargo plane that will do nonstop flights to Enugu," Onyema said.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

President Buhari vows to crackdown on oil militants in the Niger Delta

Nigeria’s President Buhari has vowed to crack down on groups responsible for attacks on oil pipelines, which have contributed to a fuel shortage in the country.

Buhari made the comments during a state visit to China on Wednesday, where he has been meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping to secure support for infrastructure projects. The Nigerian president said he was aware that the country’s national grid had collapsed several times in recent weeks and threatened the “vandals and saboteurs” responsible for blowing up pipelines and oil facilities. “We will deal with them the way we dealt with Boko Haram,” said Buhari, according to a statement from the Nigerian Presidency.

The Nigerian military has regained much of the territory previously held by Boko Haram as part of a sustained offensive beginning in 2015. Buhari claimed that the armed group—which is affiliated to the Islamic State militant group (ISIS)—controlled 14 local government areas when he came to office in May 2015 but these had all now been liberated and Boko Haram’s fighting capacity had been “significantly degraded.”

There has been an uptick in attacks on oil pipelines in 2016. Three people were killed when militants blew up a pipeline, owned by Italian company ENI in the Niger Delta, Reuters reported. Two of the four refineries owned by the state-run Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) were temporarily closed in January, due to attacks, which Nigerian power minister Babtunde Fashola said were costing the country $2.4 million per day at the time. One of the refineries was reopened in March.

The Niger Delta region was plagued by militant groups such as the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) during the mid-2000s, who kidnapped oil workers and blew up pipelines in protest at what they saw as the unfair distribution of wealth. At its peak, the militancy cut oil production to 800,000 barrels per day, less than a third of the maximum 2.5 million barrels per day. Buhari has extended a multi-million dollar amnesty program—which involves the payment of monthly subsidies to ex-militants—but has ended the practice of giving militants generous contracts for pipeline protection.

The recent attacks have resulted in massive queues gathering outside gas stations as desperate Nigerians attempt to buy fuel for their vehicles. Nigeria’s petroleum minister Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu was recently summoned to appear before the Senate to explain how the ministry was working to solve the shortage.

Video - Boko Haram release video showing some of the kidnapped schoolgirls still alive

A video released by Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram appears to show some of the schoolgirls kidnapped two years ago from the town of Chibok.

The video, apparently filmed in December, was sent to the Nigerian government and shows 15 girls in black robes identifying themselves as pupils abducted from the school.

Some of those filmed have been identified by their parents.

It is the first footage of the girls to be seen since May 2014.

The kidnapping of the 276 girls triggered the global social media campaign #BringBackOurGirls, involving US first lady Michelle Obama and a host of celebrities.

But despite their efforts, most of the girls are still missing.

Meanwhile, hundreds of parents are holding a march in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, to demand the government does more to find their daughters.

The BBC's Martin Patience in Abuja says they blame the previous government for doing nothing when the abduction took place and now the current administration for failing to devote enough resources to the search.

Boko Haram militants attacked the government boarding school in Borno state on 14 April 2014, seizing the girls who had gone there to take exams.

Shortly afterwards they released a video of them and demanded a prisoner exchange.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Video - China to strengthen cooperation with Nigeria

President Xi Jinping has met with the visiting Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari in Beijing. The two leaders agreed to strengthen cooperation in various fields including infrastructure, agriculture, energy and trade.

China offers Nigeria $6 billion loan for infrastructure

China has offered Nigeria a loan worth $6 billion to fund infrastructure projects, the Nigerian foreign minister said on Tuesday.

The announcement came as both countries signed a currency swap deal to boost trade. Nigeria has been in talks with China on an infrastructure loan for months.

Nigeria is Africa's largest economy and its top oil producer. But its public finances have suffered as the price of crude oil dropped around the world.

Although President Muhammadu Buhari wants to triple capital spending in 2016, he also needs to plug a projected deficit of $11.1 billion.

"It is a credit that is on the table as soon as we identify the projects," Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama told reporters after Buhari met Chinese President Xi Jinping. "It won't need an agreement to be signed. It is just to identify the projects and we access it."

There was no immediate comment from China.

Lin Songtian, director general of the Chinese foreign ministry's African affairs department, had earlier said Nigeria would be able to benefit from a $55 billion package for Africa, which mostly consists of concessional grants or export lines.

The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd (ICBC) , the world's biggest lender, and Nigeria's central bank also signed a deal on yuan transactions.

"It means that the renminbi (yuan) is free to flow among different banks in Nigeria, and the renminbi has been included in the foreign exchange reserves of Nigeria," Lin said.

Nigeria had said it was looking at panda bonds - yuan-denominated bonds sold by overseas entities on the mainland - to fund the deficit, saying they that would be cheaper than Eurobonds.


Nigeria's central bank has said it plans to diversify its foreign exchange reserves away from the dollar by switching some into yuan. It converted up to a tenth of its reserves into yuan five years ago.

Lin said a framework on currency swaps has been agreed with Nigeria, making it easier to settle trade deals in yuan. China has signed similar swap agreements with countries ranging from Kazakhstan to Argentina to promote wider use of its yuan.

Beijing also signed agreements to develop infrastructure in Nigeria, part of a drive to deepen its ties with Africa.

ICBC agreed a $2 billion loan to Dangote, the company owned by Africa's richest man, Aliko Dangote, to fund two cement plants it plans, he told Reuters.

China's Xi told Buhari there was huge potential for economic cooperation in areas like oil refining and mining, according to Xinhua, China's official news agency.

In a speech to business leaders, Buhari said both countries wanted to work together in agriculture, fishing and the manufacturing of cars, construction materials and textiles.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Video - President Muhammadu Buhari visits China

Nigeria's president, Muhammadu Buhari is on a five-day state visit to China, which began on Monday. He's expected to conclude negotiations over a 2 billion US dollar low-interest loan with the Chinese government. The money will help Nigeria fund its infrastructure projects, as well as finance a deficit on its 3 trillion Naira, or 15 billion US dollar, budget. Activities will be held to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties. The visit is an important one for Nigeria. Our Lagos correspondent Deji Badmus told us about Nigeria's economic situation, and how working with China can benefit the West African nation. Earlier we spoke to CCTV's Su Yuting in Beijing for more on President Buhari's schedule during this state visit.

FIFA sends warning to Nigeria to reinstate sacked officials or get banned

Football's world governing body Fifa issued a warning to Nigeria on Monday to either reinstate its sacked Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) officials or face a suspension.

It follows last week's regional high court ruling that Chris Giwa should be installed as the NFF's President and that the Fifa-recognised head, Amaju Pinnick, be sacked.

Fifa warned that the country could face sanctions - including a ban - if a decision of the Federal High Court in Jos from Friday is implemented.

In a letter dated 11 April 2016, Fifa's acting secretary general Markus Kattner said the ruling by a Jos federal high court is classed as "interference."

"The decision of the Federal High Court in Jos, if implemented, would likely be considered as interference in the internal affairs of the NFF and the case would be brought to the highest authorities of Fifa for consideration of sanctions, including the suspension of the NFF," the letter read in part.

"All members associations have to manage their affairs independently and with no influence from third parties. In addition and according to article 68 of the Fifa Statutes, recourse to ordinary courts of law is prohibited unless specifically provided for in the Fifa regulations.

"Furthermore, it is the duty of each member association to ensure that these provisions are implemented by its members and possibly take sanctions against those which fail to respect these obligations.

Fifa also acknowledged that it is the second time that Chris Giwa has resorted to legal action as well as a futile appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) in his attempt to run the country's football affairs.

"We would like to stress that the plaintiff in question already filed an appeal in relation to the same matter with the highest judicial Sport authorities, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), and that said appeal was dismissed by the CAS on 18 May 2015."

The NFF has appealed against the court ruling, insisting that Pinnick is still the head of the federation while Giwa's faction and all other non-NFF staff were denied access into the football house by police in the capital Abuja on Monday.

Fifa, however, has taken a dim view of the development and warned that Nigeria risked suspension if the sacked officials are not reinstated as soon as possible.

The ongoing power struggle means Nigeria's Olympic team is at risk of being banned from Rio this year, and the Super Eagles could be denied a chance to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

The qualifying draw takes place in June.