Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Video - 39 million people living with hypertension in Nigeria

According to Nigeria’s census numbers, rapid population growth from 160-million people in 2010 to 180-million people in 2016 has also seen prevalence in cases of hypertension - a cardiovascular disease. According to the World Health Organization, 75- percent of the world's hypertensive population will be in developing countries.

Nigeria to start exporting rice in 2017

The Central Bank of Nigeria, (CBN) on Tuesday said it’s Anchor Borrowers Programme for the promotion of Agriculture had set the country to begin exportation of rice by 2017. The Anchor Borrowers Programme of the CBN and the Presidential Committee on Rice Production launched in July had jointly set the target.

The Acting Director of Corporate Communications of the apex bank, Mr Isaac Okorafor, said this in Yenagoa at a sensitisation workshop for farmers. The theme of the workshop is entitled: “Promoting Stability and Economic Development’’. 

According to him, farmers in Kebbi, Jigawa, Ebonyi, Sokoto and Cross River states, among others, have already keyed into the programme, resulting in massive rice cultivation. He said the country would achieve self-sustenance in rice production if the momentum was sustained, adding that the country should commence exportation of locally produced rice by 2017. 

Okorafor said Kebbi State had already harvested one million tons of rice, adding that Ebonyi’s harvest had outstripped the earmarked production for the year. “The development is encouraging and by the end of 2017, we will not only meet our national demand which is between six and seven million tons but have surplus to export. 

“We must rid ourselves of eating foreign rice that has been stored for over nine years in Thailand, Vietnam and India. Nigerian rice is fresh and healthier. “We should eat Nigerian rice provided for by the CBN Anchor Programme; 50 Kg of local rice is now N8, 000 in Ebonyi.

Already, the Abia Government has ordered rice from Ebonyi for Christmas,’’ he said. He further said: “What we have done with this programme so far is to create jobs through farming, especially for the unemployed youths. “Nigerian youths must wake up, dust themselves up and join this worthy campaign. “Remember that the status of our farmers is now better due to the support they are receiving as a result of government’s policy. 

“Our currency is weak because we engaged in needless importation of all kinds of food stuffs, including tooth picks; the government is determined to stop this.’’ 

The Branch Controller, CBN, Yenagoa, Mr. Oke Nwajah, said the state was blessed with rich wet soil that supported rice cultivation. He therefore, urged the farmers to take pride in farming, adding that the Anchor Borrowers Programme was an intervention to reduce their burden.


Price increase in mobile services in Nigeria due to government policies

Around a year ago, Nigeria’s mobile internet subscriber base had nearly hit at a landmark figure: 100 million. But, due to unfavorable government policies, that trend is likely to be reversed.

Last year, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the country’s telecoms regulator earned praise for deregulating data prices. The removal of a data floor price allowed local telcos to set lower mobile data prices making them cheaper than ever before and enabling more Nigerians access to the internet.

But, in a surprising move, the NCC has reinstated its data floor price, forcing telcos to jack prices back up. In a letter sent to telcos, the NCC claims the price increase is necessary “in order to provide a level playing field for all operators in the industry.” The prices will take effect from Dec. 1.

The NCC cited the need to allow “small operators and new entrants” who hold “less than 7.5% market share” and have operated “less than three years in the market” to operate profitably. Put another way: the NCC thinks that, by charging lower prices for data, large telcos, like MTN, could kill off smaller internet service providers who’d be unable to compete profitably. Reports suggest the new regulation is due to lobbying by smaller operators.

More expensive mobile internet access costs will particularly stifle internet usage growth given Nigeria’s low fixed line broadband internet penetration. The move is being widely criticized by players in Nigeria’s fast-growing tech sector. Iyin ‘E’ Aboyeji, who made his name as a co-founder of Andela, one of the country’s high-profile young tech companies, called the decision the “biggest threat” to the Nigerian government’s own stated ambitions for the local tech sector. Aboyeji who now runs a payments startup called Flutterwave, addressed president Buhari directly in a series of tweets.

The decision also comes at a time when Nigeria’s mobile internet usage has been steadily regressing.

While the NCC’s decision to make telcos hike data prices is surprising, there was a chance the price of internet access was going to increase. As Quartz has reported, in a bid to increase government revenue, Nigerian lawmakers have discussed a bill to levy a 9% communications tax on various services including internet data. But with service providers unlikely to bear the extra expense, the costs was likely to be passed down to end users.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Video - Lagos hosts West Africa's first international art fair

Artists from West Africa have had the chance to showcase their work at the region's first international art fair. Art X drew over 5,000 guests to the Nigerian city of Lagos. The event highlighted Nigeria's vibrant connection to the contemporary art scene.

Nigeria's crackdown on begging possibly violating human rights

With Nigeria’s parliament poised to extend a controversial law banning the “menace of street begging” throughout the country, campaigners are warning the policy has already resulted in the persecution of tens of thousands of disabled and mentally ill citizens.

Street begging is illegal in Lagos, Nigeria’s most populous city, and carries fines of around N15,000 (£38) and up to three months’ imprisonment. Those who fail to pay the fine are incarcerated until they are able to pay up.

But due to poor medical support, the people begging on Lagos’s street are disproportionately made up of mentally ill and disabled citizens, and human rights activists say tens of thousands of vulnerable people have been detained over the past five years as a result of the ban.

Megan Chapman, a human rights lawyer and director of the local NGO Justice and Empowerment Initiatives (JEI), said the “scale of human rights violations is massive and extremely concerning”, and added the treatment may be illegal under the country’s constitution.

Though campaigners from JEI acknowledged that begging is also banned in other cities across the world, they claim the ban is policed brutally and without transparency in Lagos. “It’s hard to find a city enforcing the ban in as inhumane a way as Lagos is,” Chapman said.

Despite widespread calls from NGOs and activists for the state to reconsider its policy, the Nigerian senate is now considering a bill to ban begging nationwide.

The bill, proposed by Senator Isah Misau, has substantial backing in the senate, with lawmakers claiming the increase in begging is caused by criminal exploitation rather than poor economic conditions in Nigeria, which is now officially in recession.

Speaking in support of the proposed legislation, Misau said: “Street begging affects not only the geographical and social structure of urban areas; it also portrays the country in a bad light to tourists and foreign visitors.”

Lagos state’s governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, has backed the crackdown on street begging. “We’ve had security reports on the activities of persons who pose as beggars, especially in traffic, but their sole aim is to perpetrate evil,” he said in July.

The state government said in April that 1,340 beggars, destitute and “mentally challenged persons” had been “rescued” from the streets of Lagos in the past year. During this period, it said 590 “rehabilitees” had been released and reunited with their relatives for re-integration, while 1,228 people were rehabilitated at what it referred to as a “rehabilitation and training centre” in Majidun, on mainland Lagos.

In addition, according to a leaked memo cited on the Nigerian site PM News, 413 beggars and “lunatics” were reportedly evacuated from Lagos’s streets by government officials between March and July this year.

Most of those detained for begging are taken to the holding facility by the so-called “rescue team” from the Lagos State Youth and Development Ministry, which enforces the ban.

The centre was opened as part of a drive to clean up the city in the 1970s. State officials claim it is used to help and treat beggars and people who are physically or mentally ill, yet reports from former detainees paint a different picture.

Men and women held there have described torturous conditions, claiming to have been denied basic rights and medical attention, held in confined spaces, often for years, without a fair hearing.

“We have met dozens of people arrested for begging who have been made to pay a hefty bribe, who have been deprived of their liberty for months or even years. Not one of them has ever been taken before a court of law. It is a serious violation of their rights under the Nigerian constitution,” she said.

“What we’ve been pressing the state government to do is to have a root and branch overhaul of the system; stop the mass incarcerations that impact on the health and well-being of the beggars.”

Workers from JEI, along with the Physically Challenged Empowerment Initiative (PCEI), a grassroots organisation campaigning against the detentions, have looked after several people after their release from the centre.

Among them was 25-year-old Yakubu Idris. After his arrest and 20-month detention at the Majidun facility, his health deteriorated. Interviewed hours after his release, he said: “Now I cannot walk – I cannot even stand up from the floor.”

Despite suffering from extensive infections and a respiratory problem, Idris said he was denied medical treatment by officials at the facility. “In the cell I totally forgot how long I was there because I was never let out. Then one day theoga [boss] took two of us and released us,” he said.

A week later, tests for tuberculosis came back positive, but Idris died before he could receive treatment.

Chapman said calls for change by local NGOs were slowly being heeded, but the proposed bill threatened to undermine years of work to change attitudes towards beggars.

“We have pointed out that current practices are completely unconstitutional and fail to address the social problems of destitution and street begging. The focus should be on helping the poor and people living with disabilities to find alternative livelihoods,” she said.

Under the previous Lagos state governor, scores of beggars were routinely deported to their states of origin. In 2011, 3,029 people were deported from Lagos. Dolapo Badru, a state government spokesman at the time, defended the measures, arguing that “beggars and destitutes constitute a social nuisance towards the development of Lagos as a mega-city”.

Muhammed Zanna, one of the founders of the PCEI in Lagos said negative perceptions of the poor had led to widespread apathy about the way they are treated by the state.

“Governor Ambode wants to create a modern city and the poor don’t fit into that vision,” said Zanna.

“The state doesn’t see beggars as real people, just as people to hide or to send away. People who have no interaction with the poor or disabled have this idea that they are really criminals and drug dealers, so even when the state services maltreats them people don’t show any concern,” Zanna said.

State officials at the youth ministry did not respond to requests for comment.

Officials at the facility in Majidun denied detainees were kept in harsh conditions indefinitely or denied basic rights, and claimed a doctor was available to provide treatment. They also say it is merely “a temporary holding site” until fines are paid or a hearing takes place.

Forty-year-old Binta Muhammadu was arrested in February with her two children, aged two and four. When she couldn’t pay the fine, she was detained at Majidun for nine months, with her children held elsewhere. “In that time I only saw my children three times,” she said.

According to Binta, “there were about 50 of us in the same room, where we bathed, ate and slept. We were never let out,” she said.

“I don’t know what I will do now that I am free,” she added. “I don’t have anything and I can’t walk well any more. This has just made things worse for me than it was before.”

Friday, November 25, 2016

Video - Nigeria transit centre a sanctuary to former Boko Haram hostages

The United Nations says at least 20,000 children in north-eastern Nigeria have been separated from their families due to the ongoing fighting between Boko Haram and the military. Some have become victims of sexual assault. Security challenges make it difficult to identify all the children who need help. But as Katerina Vittozzi discovers, a new transit centre in Maiduguri is able to offer a semblance of normalcy for some of the youngsters.

Video - Local Nigerian hunters help free kidnapped women and children

More hostages have been rescued from Boko Haram militants in Nigeria. Reports indicate local hunters in the Sambisa Forest helped to secure the release of five women and three children.

Video - Nigerian soldiers missing after militants' attack presumed dead

Nigeria military says the soldiers missing after clashing with Boko Haram in October are presumed dead. Authorities have already asked relatives to provide bank details so that the army can start paying out the soldiers' beneficiaries.

Nigeria military denies killing 150 Pro-Biafra demonstrators

Nigerian authorities have denied claims by Amnesty International that security forces killed at least 150 activists and demonstrators who supported the secession of Biafra, an area in the south-east of the country.

An army spokesman told Reuters that Amnesty’s allegation, the latest in a series of charges levelled by the campaign group against Nigeria’s military in the last year, aimed to tarnish the security forces’ reputation.

The police said they did not attack people holding demonstrations.

Amnesty said the military fired live ammunition with little or no warning to disperse members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) group between August 2015 and August the following year.

The unrest in the region is another challenge for the country’s president,Muhammadu Buhari, who is grappling with a sharp slowdown in Africa’s biggest economy, as well as the bloody Boko Haram insurgency in the north-east, and militancy elsewhere in the oil-rich southern Delta region.

Amnesty’s 60-page report based on interviews with 193 people, 87 videos and 122 photographs, said troops and the police used “arbitrary, abusive and excessive force to disrupt gatherings”.

Local media had previously reported “massive extra judicial killings” of pro-Biafra activists in Nigeria’s south-east.

Amnesty corroborated many of these claims, saying that at least 60 people were killed and 70 injured in two days in May after campaigners gathered for a rally in Onitsha , Anambra state.

Secessionist feeling has simmered since the separatist rebellion by the eastern Igbo people, one of Nigeria’s largest ethnic groups, led to a three-year civil war that ended 46 years ago. An estimated million people died, mostly from starvation and illness, in the conflict, which left deep scars and deep resentment.

Analysts say many of the same factors which prompted earlier anger still exist, and describe “a cocktail of longstanding and recent economic and political grievances”.

Now, like then, Igbos say they have been marginalised by being excluded from key government posts and denied vital funding for infrastructure development, schools and hospitals.

Anger in Biafra flared last year after the IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, who was based in the UK, was detained on a visit to Nigeria and charged with criminal conspiracy and with belonging to an illegal society.

The arrest of Kanu, who set up an underground radio station in London, which authorities say called for violent attacks on Nigerian security forces, prompted supporters to hold protests. These were dispersed with live ammunition, according to Amnesty.

Don Awunah, a Nigeria police force spokesman, said that officers “always abide by the law” and adhere to best practices. “We don’t attack people who are demonstrating, which every Nigerian has a right to do,” he said.

Sani Usman, an army spokesman, said Biafra separatists had behaved violently, killing five policeman at a protest in May and attacking both military and police vehicles. “The military and other security agencies exercised maximum restraints despite the flurry of provocative and unjustifiable violence,” said Usman.

Witnesses told Amnesty that some protesters had thrown stones, burned tyres and, in one incident, shot at the police, but added that “these acts of violence did not justify the level of force used against the whole assembly”.

Makmid Kamara, interim director of Amnesty International Nigeria, said: “This reckless and trigger-happy approach to crowd control has caused at least 150 deaths.”

The campaign group said their research showed a disturbing pattern of hundreds of arbitrary arrests and ill-treatment by soldiers during and after IPOB events, including arrests of wounded victims in hospital, and torture and other ill treatment of detainees.

One interviewee said he was shot during a protest meeting and hid in a gutter. When soldiers found him they poured acid on him, he said.

Last year Amnesty said that more than 8,000 people had died in detention during a crackdown on Boko Haram. The group also said soldiers killed hundreds of Shia Muslims in the northern city of Zaria in December 2015. A judicial inquiry in August concluded that 347 people were killed and buried in mass graves after those clashes.

Nigeria has at least 170 million inhabitants, split roughly equally between Christians and Muslims across about 250 ethnic groups, who mostly co-exist peacefully.

Buhari, a former military dictator in the 1980s, was a brigade major who commanded troops in Biafra during the war in which soldiers were accused of mass atrocities. Last year Buhari said he would not let any secessionist campaign in Biafra succeed. “We will not let that happen. For Nigeria to divide now, it is better for all of us to jump into the sea and get drowned,” he said.

One grievance among some who support Biafran independence is that Nigeria’s presidents have tended to come from the north or south-west – areas dominated by Hausa and Yoruba people – which, they say, has led to Igbos not being appointed to influential government positions.

In 2012 a surge in protests led to the arrest on treason charges of more than a 100 supporters of a secessionist group after an independence rally in Enugu, the capital of Nigeria’s south-east region. The protesters included many elderly war veterans from the bloody 1967 conflict.

The arrests came shortly after the renowned Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe wrote in the Guardian that persecution of Igbos still persisted in Nigeria. Achebe’s memoirs prompted renewed debate about the 1960s conflict. Most of those involved in the current campaign for independence for Biafra are too young to remember the earlier war.

Analysts do not believe those campaigning for Biafra will make common cause with other militants in the Niger delta.

“Most groups in the delta are demanding regional autonomy and the right to control their petroleum resources within Nigeria. They are fiercely opposed to any suggestion of joining the Igbos in a breakaway Biafra,” wrote the International Crisis Group last year.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Video - Nigeria's Nollywood recognised on an international platform

The Africa International Film Festival has wrapped up in Nigeria's commercial capital of Lagos. Celebrities like Nollywood stars Rita Dominic and Ramsey Noah graced the red carpet, much to the delight of fans.

Nigeria military killed 150 pro-Biafra protesters since 2015

Nigeria's security forces have killed more than 150 peaceful protesters since August 2015, a human rights group has claimed.

Amnesty International said the military used live ammunition and deadly force against pro-Biafra protesters who were campaigning for an independent state in the south-east.

Nigeria's police denies allegations that it used unnecessary force.

The country's army said Amnesty was trying to tarnish its reputation.

Amnesty's report is based on interviews with almost 200 people, alongside more than 100 photographs and 87 videos.

Among the allegations contained in the report are what Amnesty called "extrajudicial executions", when 60 people were shot and killed in south-eastern Onitsha city, in the two days surrounding Biafra Remembrance Day in May 2016.

"This reckless and trigger-happy approach to crowd control has caused at least 150 deaths, and we fear the actual total might be far higher" said Makmid Kamara, Amnesty's interim director for Nigeria.

Other victims detailed in the report include a 26-year-old man who was shot in Nkpor, but hid in a gutter, still alive. He said when soldiers found him, they poured acid over him, and told him he would die slowly.

Another woman said she had been speaking to her husband on a mobile phone when he told her he had been shot in the abdomen. He was calling from a military vehicle, she said, and she heard gunshots. She later found his body in a morgue with two more wounds in his chest, leading her to believe he had been executed after the call.

'Unimaginable atrocities'

The human rights organisation said pro-Biafra protests had been "largely peaceful" despite occasional incidents of protesters throwing stones and burning tyres - and one occasion when someone shot at police.

"Regardless, these acts of violence and disorder did not justify the level of force used against the whole assembly."

But army spokesman Sani Usman that "the military and other security agencies exercised maximum restraints despite the flurry of provocative and unjustifiable violence".

The two main secessionist groups in the south-east, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra, had committed "unimaginable atrocities", he said.

This included burning and killing people from other parts of Nigeria and forcing them to flee, Col Usman added.

In the past year there has been a series of protests to demand the creation of the state of Biafra in the south-east, home to the Igbo people.

Prominent IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu has been detained without trial since October 2015, with the government defying a court order to release him.

The mention of Biafra continues to trigger powerful emotions in Nigeria - and memories of the country's darkest chapter.

In 1967, nationalists attempted to create the independent state of Biafra in the south-east. It was to be a homeland for the Igbo people, one of the country's largest ethnic groups.

But the bid for independence plunged the nation into a three-year civil war that killed at least a million people.

Almost 50 years on and the bitterness of that period still lingers. Many Igbos claim they are still being punished for the conflict.

In the past year that anger has manifested itself in a younger generation who have staged a wave of protests, fuelled, in part, by high unemployment and anger about official corruption - issues that are hardly unique to the Igbos.

But IPOB appears to have gained momentum after the Nigerian authorities detained Mr Kanu, accusing him of treason.

It is this heavy-handed approach, say human rights groups, that is inflaming the tensions.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Video - Nigeria's Central Bank Governor approves crackdown on currency dealers

The Central Bank of Nigeria approved a recent crackdown of currency hawkers by the country's secret police, the Department of State Security. CBN governor Godwin Emefiele says it is illegal to traffic in foreign currency and commended the Security agents for the raid. Officials of the DSS last week raided currency black markets in Lagos, Abuja and other major cities over alleged arbitrary sale of foreign exchange.

Shell sued for decades of oil spills in Nigeria

Emere Godwin Bebe Okpabi, leader of Nigeria's Ogale people, unpacked four bottles of water from his homeland and lined them up on a table to show why his subjects are suing Royal Dutch Shell in a London court.

The Nigerian water is contaminated with oil and cancer-causing compounds such as benzene. It is what his people drink every day.

Lawyers for more than 40,000 Nigerians are demanding action from Shell to clean up oil spills.

Britain's High Court began hearing lawsuits on Tuesday filed by the Ogale and Bille people alleging that decades of oil spills have fouled the water and destroyed the lives of thousands of fishermen and farmers in the Niger River Delta, where a Shell subsidiary has operated since the 1950s.

They brought their fight to Shell's home base because they say the Nigerian courts are too corrupt.

"Let the shareholders of Shell who are residents of the advanced world, like Britain, let them see a representative of a kingdom that is being destroyed for them to have money," he told The Associated Press news agency on the eve the hearing. "That's blood money."

The Anglo-Dutch oil giant argues the case should be heard in Nigeria, pointing out it involves its Nigerian subsidiary SPDC, which runs a joint venture with the government, and Nigerian plaintiffs.

London law firm Leigh Day is handling the cases after it won a landmark agreement from Shell to pay $83.5m in compensation to the Bodo community for damage caused by oil spills in 2008 and 2009.

Shell originally offered $50,000 before the Bodo took their case to the same UK court.

The new lawsuits were brought by two communities located in Ogoniland, part of the oil-rich southern Niger River Delta.

They want to hold Shell, incorporated in the UK, responsible for the actions of its Nigerian subsidiary, Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd, or SPDC.

The subsidiary said it has produced no oil or gas in the region since 1993.

The area is heavily affected by crude oil theft, pipeline sabotage and illegal refining.

It is arguing in court that the legal challenge is speculative and full of "legal and evidential weaknesses".

SPDC said it will challenge the jurisdiction of the UK courts in this case - arguing it concerns Nigerian plaintiffs in dispute with a Nigerian company over issues in Nigeria.

"If the Claimants' lawyers are correct as to the existence of this novel duty of care, [Shell] and many other parents of multinational groups will be liable to the many hundreds of millions of people around the world with whom their subsidiaries come into contact in the ordinary course of their various operations," the company said in its court argument.

"That would constitute a radical if not historic expansion of the law and open the floodgates to litigation on an unprecedented scale."

The Ogale and Bille communities account for only a small portion of the millions of Nigerians that human rights activists say have been injured by contamination they say would never have been allowed in the home countries of the multinational oil companies that operate in partnership with the Nigerian government.

Shell was the first oil company to operate in Nigeria, starting production in 1958.

In the 1990s, the military government sent armed troops to put down protests by the Ogoni people, turning the oil-producing south into a war zone.

One of the leaders of those protests was Ken Saro-Wiwa, a writer and environmental activist whose opposition helped stop Shell's production in Ogoniland.

He and eight others were hanged by the government of military dictator Sani Abacha in November 1995 in a case the US condemned.

President Muhammadu Buhari has promised a clean-up of Ogoniland, which was supposed to start in June but has been delayed.

The new lawsuits come at a time when Shell is pivoting towards other areas, such as Brazil.

It recently bought BG Group Plc for $52.4bn, increasing its proven reserves of oil and gas by 25 percent. And like other oil companies, it is also slashing jobs and postponing investments to adjust to lower oil prices.

But Shell is still seen as having deep pockets, said David Elmes, course director of the Warwick Business School's Global Energy Research Network.

While Shell would argue its settlement with the Bodo community shows its willingness to provide compensation for problems it caused, the new cases involve damage arising from what Shell says is sabotage and theft, Elmes said.

And as Shell looks to move to other countries, "people who feel they have a case against the company are looking to take action now", he said.

In a 2011 report, the UN said in at least 10 communities in Ogoniland, public health was "seriously threatened" by drinking water contaminated with hydrocarbons.

In one area, the water contained the carcinogen benzene at levels 900 times higher than what the World Health Organisation says is safe.

While the report recognised that oil production in the region had ceased, it criticised Shell's oversight of the remaining facilities.

The report recommended emergency measures to provide adequate drinking water. But so far nothing has been done, said Okpabi who describes himself as the paramount ruler of the Ogale people.

He brought the bottles of water to his lawyer's office in London just to make the point.

Removing his hat and leaning forward, he argues his people have been made poorer by the destruction of an ecosystem.

He is angry at Shell, arguing it called the shots for its Nigerian subsidiary and so should be held accountable in Britain.

"My system cannot give me justice," Okpabi said. "There is only one place that can give me justice. That is why I am here."

Jordon Ibe wants to play for Nigeria after England snub

FC Bournemouth winger, Jordon Ibe is willing to rescind his initial decision and pledge football allegiance to Nigeria.

Former Liverpool ace Ibe initially turned down pleas to play for the Super Eagles when approached by former Eagles gaffer, Sunday Oliseh, but is now ready to make a U-turn.

A source close to the Nigerian Football Federation said: “Jordon is willing to listen to what we have to offer.

“We are hoping he finds the project enticing enough to dump England where he is a youth international and play for Nigeria at senior level.”

Ibe has played for England at all levels from u-18s and has four u-21 caps.

The Cherries star was reportedly a victim of a £25,000 robbery earlier this month.

The ex-Liverpool winger was understood to have been hit by a vehicle containing four men, who threatened Ibe with a knife before taking off with his watch on November 6.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Video - Nigerian musician writes, composes, sings in Chinese

Meet this Nigerian artist who not only speaks Chinese, but also sings it. Abayomi Adeagbo has performed in shows in both China and in his native Nigeria. Back home, he's become popular among the Chinese community, which books him regularly for various functions.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Video - Twin babies rescued from ritual killings in Nigerian village

Here's a look into a Sanctuary established for twins who risk execution for a bizarre traditional belief. An hour's drive away from the Nigeria capital, Bassa people believe twins are evil-as such they are killed at birth. Now Local christian group has taken the trouble to save children from that community from being killed.

Economic crisis in Nigeria worsens

Nigeria’s economic slump deepened in the third quarter as oil production continued to fall and factory output was hit by a shortage of dollars.

Gross domestic product in Africa’s most populous country contracted 2.2 percent in the three months through September from a year earlier, after shrinking 2.1 percent in the second quarter, the Abuja-based National Bureau of Statistics said in an e-mailed statement Monday. The median of 15 economist estimates compiled by Bloomberg was for a 2 percent contraction. The economy expanded a non-seasonally adjusted 9 percent from the second quarter, the statistics office said.

Government revenue has plunged and foreign currency became more scarce with the decline of oil prices, the country’s main export, since mid-2014, and production fell as militants in the Niger River delta blew up pipelines. The authorities have struggled to manage the economic fallout, at one point pegging the exchange rate against the dollar for more than a year and more recently using law enforcement to bring down the street price of foreign currency.

“The key drag on the economy remains issues around oil production,” Wale Okunrinboye, an analyst at Asset & Resource Management Co. in Lagos, said in an e-mailed response to questions. “We do not think this reading is a trough for the economy and see downside to growth from a combination of continued militant attacks, depressed real wages and persisting dollar shortages.”

Crude production fell for the fourth consecutive quarter to 1.63 million barrels per day, from 1.69 million barrels in the three months through June, the statistics office said. The oil industry contracted by 22 percent from a year earlier. The non-oil sector, which includes manufacturing, banking and agriculture, expanded 0.03 percent. Factory output contracted 4.4 percent, the third consecutive quarter of decline, and construction shrank 6.1 percent, the fifth straight quarterly contraction.

Manufacturing was “affected by the foreign-exchange volatility and depreciation of the naira,” Damilola Akinbami, an analyst at Financial Derivatives Co. in Lagos, said by phone. “We saw significant injection in construction, but there is a time lag between when something is implemented and when you see the impact, that’s why we didn’t see the impact in the third quarter.”

The slump in oil and shortages of foreign currency and power could cause the economy to shrink 1.7 percent this year, according to the International Monetary Fund. That would be Nigeria’s first full-year contraction since 1991, according to data from the Washington-based lender.

Budget Rejected

Nigeria’s Senate rejected the government’s spending plan for the next three years earlier this month because the proposals, which were meant to boost the economy, lacked details. Lawmakers also rejected President Muhammadu Buhari’s plan to borrow $30 billion abroad through 2018 on the same grounds.

The central bank removed its 197-199 naira per dollar peg on June 20, causing the currency to lose more than a third of its value.

The Monetary Policy Committee, which will announce its interest-rate decision on Tuesday, left the benchmark rate unchanged at a record-high 14 percent in September to help prop up the naira and fight inflation, which quickened to an 11-year high of 18.3 percent in October, even as the economic outlook deteriorated. All but two of the 18 economists in a Bloomberg survey forecast the MPC will keep the key rate unchanged.

While the third-quarter GDP data “will put pressure on the central bank as they meet, I don’t think it is going to change their stand as inflation remains very high,” Michael Famoroti, an economist at Lagos-based Vetiva Capital Management, said by phone. “Inflation is going to remain their focus, as well as the foreign-exchange market.”

Friday, November 18, 2016

Video - Nigeria Chibok girls' parents eagerly await for their return

Parents in northeastern Nigeria plead for the return of their girls who have been kidnapped by Boko Haram.

Video - Nigeria asks Brazilian Pele to refund appearance fee due to no-show

Brazilian legend Edson Arantes do Nascimento -- popularly known as Pele -- is being asked to refund a $300,000 appearance fee at the inauguration of Uyo stadium in southern Nigeria. Akwa Ibom state government claims it advanced the money to Pele in 2014 but the soccer legend didn't show up at the sports complex.

Mob in Nigeria beat and burn boy to death

This is the horrifying moment an alleged thief is savagely beaten by an angry mob before he was burnt to death.

The boy was set upon after being accused of repeatedly robbing local residents and businesses, and even threatening to kill people, according to reports.

The incident took place in the Badagry district of the city of Lagos in the south-western Nigerian Lagos State.

The shocking footage shows the boy with a bloodied face holding his hands up as the mob surrounds him as he sits on the ground with his legs tied together.

He is beaten over and over again as he begs for his life, and a man can be seen trying to place a tyre around his neck to necklace him.

Necklacing is when a tyre full of flammable liquid is placed around someone’s neck and the fluid is then set alight, causing them to burn to death.

The boy, however, appears to manage to throw the tyre off.

As the pictures show, however, he was then apparently set alight anyway and burnt to death, despite the fact that some residents called for him to be handed over to police, according to reports.

The video clearly shows him being savagely beaten and later the images show him being burnt alive.

The gruesome scene was shared on social media, with reports about his age varying wildly, with some suggesting he was 15 years old, but with others saying he could be as young as seven.

Netizen ‘Oladipupo Raphael Dare’ was one of those who spread the footage, writing: "Lagos thief rest in bad. Good bye to you oooo..."

The boy had allegedly been caught in a supermarket trying to steal food, which he had been caught doing before on more than one occasion, as well as robbing locals.

The police have not yet commented on the matter.

Nigeria settles $5.1 billion debt with oil companies

Nigeria reached a $5.1 billion settlement to reimburse foreign oil companies including Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell Plc for past operating costs.

The amount, less than the $6.8 billion previously discussed, will be settled through crude-oil sales over five years and will be interest free, Petroleum Minister Emmanuel Kachikwu told reporters in the capital, Abuja, Thursday.

“What we have been able to put together has enabled us to shave about $1.7 billion in savings for the federal government from the $6.8 billion that was owed,” he said. “The barrels to pay those will come from incremental barrels generated by the oil companies, not from the current 2.2 million-barrel-a-day production.

“In other words, if we do not meet those thresholds we will not pay the $5.1 billion,” he said.

Exxon, Shell, Chevron Corp., Total SA and Eni SpA are owed money for costs incurred from 2010 to 2015. Nigeria still owes the companies $2.6 billion from operations this year.

Shell and Total declined to comment. The other producers didn’t immediately reply to requests for comment.

Nigeria could pay more than its share of costs from October to December this year to reduce the outstanding bill for 2016 to $1.5 billion, Kachikwu said.

Revenues Squeezed

Crude’s collapse has hurt the economies of oil-producing countries including Venezuela and even Saudi Arabia. Lower government revenues have prevented state-run companies from contributing their share of expenses and foreign producers -- also hurt by the slump -- in some cases haven’t been paid.

In Nigeria, the debt has been a point of contention for the oil companies, and the settlement could unlock investment. The agreement is likely to result in $15 billion of spending by the international oil companies, which may be announced within weeks, the minister said. That could bring back some of their projects in the country, he said.

Nigeria surpassed Angola as Africa’s biggest oil producer in October, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The country is restoring output shuttered by militant attacks and is exempt from any potential production cuts by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, which is due to meet in Vienna later this month.

Kachikwu sees oil production rising to 2.5 million barrels a day by 2019 and 3 million by 2021. The country also plans to reduce production costs to $18 a barrel in two years from $27 now, and to $15 a barrel in four years.

Nigerian executed in Singapore for drug trafficking

Singapore on Friday executed two foreigners convicted of drug trafficking, authorities said, a day after the city-state’s highest court rejected final bids for both men to escape the gallows.

The Nigerian and Malaysian were hanged after their last minute appeals were thrown out.

“A 38-year-old male Nigerian national, Chijioke Stephen Obioha, had his death sentence carried out on 18 November 2016 at Changi Prison Complex,” the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) said in a statement.

Obioha, who came to Singapore hoping to be a footballer, was convicted of trafficking 2.6 kilograms of cannabis in 2008. Under Singapore law, anyone caught with more than 500 grams of cannabis can be sentenced to death.

A change in the law in 2013 meant that Obioha could apply to be re-sentenced, opening up the possibility of a life sentence, but he turned it down, the CNB said.

Just before he was to be hanged in 2015, Obioha’s lawyer filed for a stay in execution, which was allowed by Singapore’s highest court, marking the start of a legal rollercoaster which saw Obioha applying and withdrawing several legal options.

On Thursday, his lawyers launched a final bid to have his sentence commuted to life in prison but were turned down by a three-judge court.

Separately, the CNB also confirmed the execution of 31-year-old Malaysian Devendran Supramaniam, who was convicted of trafficking heroin.

He was arrested in May 2011 at Singapore’s border checkpoint with Malaysia carrying 2.7 kilograms of a powdery substance that contained 83.36 grams of pure heroin.

Like Obioha, Devendran launched an eleventh-hour appeal on Thursday to stay his execution, but was turned down.

Singapore takes a strong stand against crime and imposes the death penalty on offences such as murder and drug trafficking.

But human rights groups, which have called on Singapore to abolish capital punishment, condemned the execution.

“By executing people for drug-related offences, which do not meet the threshold of most serious crimes, Singapore is violating international law,” Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty International’s director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific said in a statement Wednesday calling for a halt to Obioha’s execution.

Singapore executed four people in 2015, one for murder and three for drug offences, according to prison statistics.

Malaysia also uses capital punishment, executing murderers and drug traffickers by hanging, a system which, like that in Singapore, dates back to British colonial rule.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Video - Nigeria's inflation rises from 9% to 18% in 12 months

Nigeria's National Bureau of Statistics indicates that the cost of living in the country rose to an 11 year high last month. Inflation was pegged at 18 percent at the end of October compared to 9 percent at the same time last year. Sophia Adengo looks at how this is affecting people on the street.

Video - Nigeria holds unique beauty pageant to promote peace

Nigeria's beauty pageant with a difference. The contest aims to promote peace, in a country that's seen ongoing conflict lead to one of the biggest humanitarian crises in Africa.

Video - Piracy in Nigeria

People and Power investigates the rise of piracy in the oil-rich Niger Delta region.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Video - Nigerian Petroleum minister debunks claims that gov't will scrap NNPC

Nigeria's Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu has allayed fears that the government plans to scrap the country's oil monopoly, the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation. In the past week, Nigerian media has been awash with reports that the NNPC will be dissolved and replaced with a new National oil Company.

Video - Nigerian businessman transforms food vending in Lagos

A young Nigerian is now redefining the traditional way of hawking food in a typical African society. Rasheed Salami's Prestigious Meals, basically hawks prepared food in the city of Lagos but in completely different way. He uses specially made tricycle to sell cooked meals across the city. More like taking the restaurant to people and not wait for them to come to you.

Video - Followers of Judaism and number of synagogues rise in Nigeria

Judaism is finding its voice in Nigeria. According to the country's Inter-Religious Council, the number of synagogues across Nigeria has risen over the past two decades. As Sophia Adengo reports, the religion is still very much a minority in the country, where 60-percent of the nearly 180-million people are Muslim.

Militants bomb 3 oil pipelines in Nigeria

Nigerian militants and a local leader say attackers have bombed oil pipelines 100 kilometers (60 miles) apart, the fifth attack this month in response to a military campaign in Nigeria's southern, petroleum-producing Niger Delta.

The Niger Delta Avengers say on Tuesday night they blew up three Nembe Creek trunk lines carrying 300,000 barrels a day to the Bonny export terminal of Dutch-British producer Shell.

Community leader Stephen Igwe says two other explosions blasted Italian company Agip's Tebidaba-Brass pipeline.

Earlier this month, militants carried out three attacks on the Trans Forcados network carrying crude from Shell's Forcados export terminal.

An Avengers statement warns of "continuous attacks" in retaliation for military raids.

It questions the sincerity of government negotiations to address demands for justice and development in the oil-polluted region.

Oil companies do not comment on attacks.

75,000 at risk of starving to death in Nigeria

Some 75,000 children in north-eastern Nigeria risk dying of hunger in "the few months ahead", the UN says.

UN humanitarian co-ordinator Peter Lundberg said that overall 14 million people needed humanitarian assistance in a region that was the former stronghold of Boko Haram militants.

He warned that the UN did not have enough funds to avert the crisis.

Boko Haram jihadists laid waste to the region before being pushed back by Nigerian forces in recent months.

"Currently our assessment is that 14 million people are identified as in need of humanitarian assistance" by 2017, Mr Lundberg said in Nigeria's capital Abuja on Tuesday.

He added that this figure included some 400,000 children, and that 75,000 of them "are going to die in the few months ahead of us... if we don't do something rapidly and seriously".

Tens of thousands of people have been killed and more than two million displaced since Boko Haram began its military operations in 2009 in the Borno state and other areas.

In July, the UN warned that almost a quarter of a million children in parts of Borno were suffering from severe malnutrition.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Lagos - Former tourist haven in Lagos threatened by rising sea levels

Nigeria's sprawling commercial capital Lagos is already feeling the impact of climate change. Rising sea levels pose a threat to the city's sustainability. And some coastal communities are on the verge of being wiped out. CCTV's Deji Badmus has more.

Video - Famine in Nigeria threatens thousands

Famine is threatening more than 70,000 people in northern Nigeria. Aid agencies warn that 200 children could die every day. The emergency is also increasing the suffering of more than 2.5 million people displaced by the conflict with Boko Haram.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Video - Nigeria Football Federation struggling with unpaid and mounting expenses

Despite good performances on the pitch, Nigeria's National soccer federation says its is heavily indebted and only commitment and understanding from coaches and players will allow its national teams keep international obligations. The federation is struggling to get enough money for national team engagements.

Nigerian preacher TB Joshua explains wrong U.S. election prophecy

Nigerian preacher T.B. Joshua has sought to explain his unfulfilled prophecy on the U.S. presidential election.

The popular pastor predicted on November 6 that the election would be won by “a woman,” presumably Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Joshua’s message, posted on his Facebook page, indicated that the new president would face many challenges, including “passing bills” and a possible no confidence vote.

Following Republican candidate Donald Trump’s surprise victory, the post was temporarily deleted from Joshua’s Facebook page before later being restored.

The mega-preacher, whose services often attract tens of thousands of worshippers from Africa, posted an explanatory message Sunday.

“We have seen the outcome of the election in America. Having read, you will notice that it is all about the popular vote, the vote of the majority of Americans,” Joshua said.

The statement seems to be a nod to Clinton’s lead in the so-called popular vote—i.e. the individual votes collected by a candidate, rather than the number of states won under the U.S. electoral college system. The former U.S. Secretary of State is likely to end up with around 2 million more votes than the business mogul, according to The New York Times, once all provisional and absentee ballots are counted.

Joshua also appeared to suggest that his pre-election prophecy had been misinterpreted.

“In this case, we need the spirit of a prophet to recognize or to know a prophet. Our levels are different. We are not on the same level,” he said. “I see many people trying to interpret prophets on the basis of their own minds and ideas. The prophecy seems to cause uproar, to many who gave it different meaning and interpretation.”

After the election result was announced, many Nigerians took to social media to question Joshua’s credentials after his prophecy appeared to be proven false.

Joshua is one of Africa’s most popular preachers, but also one of its most controversial. In September 2014, a guesthouse belonging to his Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) in the Nigerian city of Lagos collapsed, killing more than 100 people, mostly South Africans who had traveled to Nigeria to hear Joshua preach. Joshua, along with several engineers and SCOAN trustees, is facing charges of criminal negligence for the incident, but his trial has suffered multiple delays. Joshua has rejected accusations that he was criminally responsible.

The preacher claims to predict various world events on a regular basis. He has previously said that he predicted the November 2015 militant attacks in Paris and the death of music legend Michael Jackson.

The Nigerian pastor is also estimated to be one of Africa’s richest preachers. In 2011, Forbes estimated his fortune at between $10-15 million. Joshua supports various charitable initiatives, including the rehabilitation of former militants in the oil-rich Niger Delta region of Nigeria.

Video - Nigeria vs Algeria World Cup Qualifier highlights

Friday, November 11, 2016

Chelsea are punishing Mikel - Gernot Rohr

Chelsea are punishing midfielder John Mikel Obi for representing Nigeria at the Rio Olympics, says the country's coach Gernot Rohr.

Mikel, 29, captained his country to bronze in Brazil this summer but has not played for the Blues this season.

Rohr said: "There is a reason why Mikel is not playing for Chelsea right now and that reason is because he played for Nigeria at the Olympics."

Mikel will play in Saturday's World Cup qualifier against Algeria.

The Super Eagles, who failed to qualify for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations, have set the pace in Group B, winning their opening game against Zambia while Algeria could only draw with Cameroon.

Rohr added: "I cannot punish a player who loves his country and shows that he loves the green jersey.

"He is here with us and he is fit and I hope he can play for 90 minutes against Algeria but if it is not possible, we shall see."

Chelsea declined to comment on Rohr's statement, but when asked about Mikel last week, Chelsea manager Antonio Conte said: "Mikel is working very well now.

"In the past he's sometimes had some injuries. But now he's working very hard, and I'm pleased with his work-rate."

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Video - Nigerians react to Donald Trump's victory

Nigerians have been reacting to the outcome of the U.S. presidential election. Our correspondent in the country's commercial capital of Lagos has been sampling opinions.

TB Joshua reinstates deleted Clinton win prophecy after backlash

Following much backlash from Nigerians over the prophesy by influential Nigerian TV evangelist, TB Joshua that Hillary Clinton would win the US presidential election which later turned out otherwise, Pastor Joshua has reinstated the post on his Facebook page after deleting it yesterday when the backlash became too hot. 
The post containing the prediction was “mistakenly removed and has been reposted as such is not our policy”, according to an email sent to the BBC from the Social Media Department of TBJMinistries on Facebook.

“Ten days ago I saw the president of America with a narrow win… What I frankly saw was a woman,” said the post, reiterating comments made by Joshua in an address to his congregation on Sunday. TB Joshua was widely mocked on social media when people noticed that the post had been removed, though many of his supporters on Facebook said they still considered him a prophet despite calling the election wrong.


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Video - NIgerian security authorities to boost number of women in their ranks

Nigerian security authorities will boost the number of women in their ranks, in response to calls to do more to protect women and girls against sexual assaults within Internally Displaced Camps.

Nigerian preacher TB Joshua deletes Clinton win prophecy from facebook

A prediction by influential Nigerian TV evangelist TB Joshua that Hillary Clinton would win the US presidential election has been removed from the his Facebook account.

Mr Joshua told his congregation on Sunday that he "saw" a woman winning.

After Donald Trump convincingly won Tuesday's vote, visitors to the preacher's Facebook page noticed the prophecy had been removed.

The wealthy pastor is known as "the prophet" to his many followers.

He is one of Nigeria's best-known and influential evangelists - and is popular across Africa, with many top politicians among his flock.

The US election prediction was broadcast on Mr Joshua's TV channel Emmanuel TV, which an individual uploaded to YouTube.

A section of that "prophecy" was posted on the preacher's Facebook page but is no longer available.

"Ten days ago I saw the president of America with a narrow win... What I frankly saw was a woman," it said.

Aliko Dangote plans $20bn investment in Nigeria

The Dangote Group has announced plans to invest $20bn in Nigeria over the next five years.

The investment, according to the group, is expected to generate 250,000 jobs over the next five to 10 years.

The Group Executive Director, Stakeholder Management & Corporate Communications, Dangote Group, Mansur Ahmed, told journalists in Abuja on Tuesday that the aim of the conglomerate in investing the sum in the country was to give support to the diversification drive of the present administration.

To this end, he said the group would in the nearest future focus on agricultural expansion in the areas of commercial rice production and sugar cane plantations in Jigawa, Kwara, Kogi, Kebbi and Adamawa states.

“Consequently, the company has acquired 12,000 acres of land in Adamawa and arrangement is on to acquire more in other parts of the country,” Ahmed said.

According to him, the policy trust of the present administration is to reduce importation and achieve food security, adding that it was only necessary for the group to key in to the agenda in line with its corporate responsibility.

Ahmed also disclosed that the tomato paste manufacturing company in Kano would soon resume production as issues surrounding it stoppage had been resolved.

The group is also planning to raise its cement production from the current 40 million tonnes to between 75 million and 80 million tonnes per annum by the year 2020.

Ahmed explained that the cement manufacturing arm of the group was currently expanding its production capacity with new factories coming on stream across Africa in order to meet the ever growing demand for the product.

“It is our intention to continue to grow; by 2020, we should have at least 75-80 million tonnes of cement, 40 million tonnes of which should be in our plants here in Nigeria,” he stated.

The director explained that the current price of the company’s cement was dictated by the rising energy costs occasioned by the unavailability of gas.

This, he said, had forced it to rely on Premium Motor Spirit and coal as the main fuel for energy generation.

Gunmen kill 36 Nigerian gold miners in Zamfara state

Gunmen have killed 36 gold miners in north-west Nigeria, police say.

The attackers overran a mining camp in the Maru district of Zamfara state, in the latest in a series of similar raids in the region.

The gunmen's motive is unclear. Zamfara governor Abdulaziz Yari Abubakar called the attack an "act of terrorism".

In July Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari sent special military units to fight armed gangs in based in the forests of Zamfara.

Hundreds of people have been killed in villages in the area over the past three years.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Video - Nigerian government launches crackdown on criminal gangs sabotaging oil trade

Nigeria loses an estimated 8 billion dollars per year to oil thieves operating in the Niger region. For years the shadowy criminal syndicates have eluded security agencies but latest efforts to end the costly illegal trade are beginning to pay off. CCTV's Kelechi Emekalam reports on the ongoing crackdown on oil smugglers.

Video - Young Nigerians use oral art form to voice their grievances

Young Nigerians are using poetry to express their grievances with the state of affairs in their country.Through spoken word - an oral art form that is slowly finding its place in the country, Nigerians are openly talking about issues ranging from corruption to lack of development and the rising cost of living.

Vicious cycle turns Nigerian sex slaves in Italy into traffickers

Sitting on the floor surrounded by vials, animal bones and sheets stained crimson with blood, spiritual doctor Olor Elemian described how he scares girls into blind obedience with potions and spells known as "juju".

Pimps, madams, smugglers and even parents bring girls to his shrine in Amedokhian village near the southern Nigerian city of Uromi, where they drink concoctions brewed with pieces of their own fingernails, pubic hair, underwear or drops of blood.

"I can make sure she never sleeps well or has peace of mind until she pays what she owes," said the 39-year-old spiritual priest known in his neighborhood as "Doctor".

"Something in her head will keep telling her: 'Go and pay!'"

Juju is a potent ingredient in a cocktail of coercion that keeps thousands of Nigerian women and girls in sex slavery in Europe, mostly in Italy, after making the treacherous journey across North Africa and the Mediterranean in search of better lives.

Combined with crippling debt and threats of violence, it helps perpetuate a cycle of exploitation in which many victims then become perpetrators, returning to Nigeria as "madams" to recruit more girls, police and rights groups say.

In Edo state - a southern Nigerian hub for human trafficking - many girls begin their journey into prostitution willingly. Most have little clue of the nightmare to follow.

Some even visit native doctors like Elemian of their own accord, hoping juju will help them prosper while selling sex in Italy.

"It's not how hard a person works that determines how much money she will make," he said, showing off his new mobile phone and modern bungalow, which stands out amid his neighbors' mud huts.

These trappings of wealth are all funded by grateful clients from Italy, he said.


According to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC), more than nine in 10 Nigerian women smuggled to Europe come from Edo, a predominantly Christian state with a population of 3 million.

Traffickers in Nigeria are exploiting Europe's migration crisis, moving girls to lawless Libya, before crossing the Mediterranean to Italy, anti-slavery activists say.

"Edo women started going to Italy to buy gold and beads in the early 1980s and saw a thriving market in prostitution," said Kokunre Eghafona, a professor of sociology and anthropology at the University of Benin and a consultant researcher for the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

"They came back and started taking family and friends."

These women, known as "madams" - who make up around half of Nigeria's traffickers, UNDOC says - are mostly former victims-turned-brokers who prey on others to escape prostitution.

Many such traffickers believe they are being helpful rather than doing harm, calling themselves sponsors rather than madams, a more positive title, according to Eghafona.

Speaking from her home in the city of Warri with her one-year-old son crying in the background, madam "Mama Anna" said that with so many girls looking for traffickers to take them to Italy, she no longer needed to deceive or trick them into going.

"Some ask me what they will do when they get there," said Mama Anna, boasting of her reputation as a broker who sends interested girls to Italy to work for her older sister, also a madam.

"I tell them they will go and hustle," she said. "They ask: 'What kind of hustle?' I tell them. Some refuse to go, others agree."


For an insight into what drives young women to travel to Italy and sell sex, look no further than Uromi, with its pothole-ridden roads and derelict buildings with wells in front yards – evidence of the town's lack of running water.

One neighborhood stands out. Its nickname is "Little London" and it is known for sleek, modern houses behind imposing iron gates, many said to be funded from the proceeds of prostitution.

Faith, a 23-year-old hairdresser, traveled more than 300 km (almost 200 miles) to Uromi from her home in Akwa Ibom, dreaming of joining the ranks of thousands of sex workers smuggled to Europe each year.

"I want to go to Italy because I want to make money," she said. "If it is prostitution, I'll do it."

In the past, girls like Faith would have been tricked into prostitution, promised jobs like hairdressing or supermarket before being forced to work for pimps.

"Before, nobody knew - it was a secret thing," said 30-year-old Anita, who was sex trafficked to Italy in 2011, after being deceived into thinking she was going to work as a hairdresser.

"But now, even children know that when you get there, it is prostitution."

After escaping her traffickers, Anita spent days on the streets. She was finally arrested and deported back to Nigeria.

Before arranging their passage through contacts in Libya, traffickers like "Mama Anna" make the girls sign a contract to finance their move - leaving them with debts that can spiral to tens of thousands of dollars and take years to pay off.

Girls are then taken to a spiritual priest, who conducts the "juju" rituals designed to bind them to their traffickers.

Such rites instil fear in victims, who believe that they or their relatives may fall ill or die if they disobey their traffickers, go to the police or fail to pay off their debts.

Fearful that the juju "spell" may be turned on them, many Nigerian parents become complicit, insisting that their daughters obey their traffickers, testimony from Italian court documents shows.

It's then on to Europe via well-trod smuggling routes through Niger and Libya.


At Uromi market, several stalls display secondhand winter jackets and mittens, which one trader, Linus, described as a thriving market due to the number of people heading to Europe.

More than 12,000 Nigerian women and girls have reached Italy by sea over the past two years - a six-fold increase over the previous two-year period - with around four in five of them trafficked into sex work, according to data from the IOM.

Human trafficking by Nigerian organized crime gangs is one of the greatest challenges facing police forces across Europe, according to the EU's law enforcement agency, Europol.

For Nigeria's anti-trafficking agency, NAPTIP, efforts to combat the traffickers are being thwarted not only by the criminals themselves, but also by members of the public.

"Everybody believes that the streets of Europe are paved with gold," said Arinze Orakwe, an official at NAPTIP. "People see us as a problem, as stopping them from reaching El Dorado.

"One mother asked me if I would prefer her daughter to have sex with a young boy in Edo and get pregnant, when she can do the same thing in Europe and earn foreign currency," he said.

NAPTIP officials have been attacked by mobs in Edo while informing people of the dangers of trafficking, and angry relatives often snatch their daughters away from training or rehabilitation centers and threaten the staff, Orakwe added.

"These people, they are enemies, because this country is too rough now," said Igose, a mother-of-eight who relies on money sent by her 22-year-old daughter in Italy to feed her family.

While Igose in Benin City, the capital of Edo state, fears for the future of her family, in neighboring Uromi, Faith is still searching for a madam to arrange her passage to Italy.

Sometimes she is tempted to abandon her dream.

"I see pictures on my phone of people drowning in the sea," she said. "It is risky".

Monday, November 7, 2016

Video - Abducted Chibok schoolgirl found with baby by Nigerian army

Another Chibok girl has been rescued by the Nigerian Army. The girl, found with a child, was discovered at a screening centre in the Sambisa forest in Borno state.

Western Union commends Nigeria on resilience

With a record of remittances from Nigerians in Diaspora, Western Union has lauded assessed resilience and spirit of hard work, which it noted, cut across economic spheres globally.

The Regional Vice President of Western Union-Africa, Aida Diarra, while speaking at its 20th anniversary in the country, said Nigeria has become one of the most connected countries in the world when it comes to receiving and sending money.

According to him, the Nigerian spirit of hard work and resilience can be found around the world across all economic spheres.

“Western Union recognises that, at the start and end of every transaction are two people, and they rely on each other, just as much they rely on us to move their money reliably. It is this dual belonging that remains at the heart of our innovation to make it easy for Nigerians to send or receive money,” he said.

Referring to Western Union as the global leader in payments, Diara noted that Nigeria is the fifth largest remittance receiver globally, as attested by the World Bank.

He revealed that more than 195 countries and territories sent money into Nigeria, and 160 received money from Nigeria in 2015, reflecting the extraordinary global connections brought about by the rise in migration of Nigerians to many parts of the world.

“Migration destinations have remained steady since a decade ago, according to Western Union’s own trend analysis. The United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Italy, Australia, France and Netherlands continued to be the favourite destinations, while United Arab Emirates and Malaysia moved to the top 10, replacing Switzerland and Spain.

“Western Union bridges geographical gaps by diversifying the options to send and receive money with reliability, convenience, and speed. From a single location with the First Bank of Nigeria in the heart of Lagos in 1996, Western Union has expanded its walk-in retail Agent location count to more than 5,200, with a presence in every one of Nigeria’s 36 states.

“The company’s channel diversification focus also allows Nigerians to receive money into 2.2 million mobile wallets and into more than 50 million bank accounts.

“More than 20 majority-owned Nigerian businesses form the foundation of an Agent network that connects Nigerians no matter what distance exists between them and the world.

“It is an honour to have served Nigerians for the past 20 years and connect them to and from nearly every corner of the world, moving the money that funds education, healthcare, everyday living and the dreams and aspirations of their families,” he said.

Minister of Petroleum Kachikwu faults NNPC on fuel price increase

Nigeria Minister of Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu on Sunday condemned the recent increase in fuel price in Nigeria National Petroleum (NNPC) filling station.

Kachikwu made the statement after receiving an award at an event organized by the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

“First, I am not aware that the NNPC has increased price. I need to look into that. It is a bit of surprise for me, because there are processes in doing this, if they have done that, it means they are doing it wrongly.

“Let me find out what the facts are,” he told journalists

According to him, the government cannot fix a new price for petrol without putting into cognizance the market variables that gave rise to the current petroleum pricing template.

“What we ought to be doing was watching the prices, making sure that they are not taking advantage of the common man; making sure that the template is respected.

“One of the things I think we had hoped to do, which we should still do, before we embark on any price increase is to work on those templates,” he said.

NNPC had been selling fuel at N141 but on Thursday, increased it by N4 to the government benchmark of N145.

The pump price of petrol in Nigeria rose to N145 per litre earlier this year after President Muhammadu Buhari removed fuel subsidy.

The government said the decision to remove the subsidy was as a result of the fall in oil price and non-availability of foreign exchange.

The government however, said the liberalization of petrol supply and distribution will allow marketers and any Nigerian entity willing to supply PMS to source for their forex and import PMS to ensure availability of products in all locations of the country.

According to the government, the resultant fuel scarcity has created an abnormal increase in price, resulting in Nigerians paying between N150 and N300 per litre as prevalent hoarding, smuggling and diversion of products have reduced volumes made available to citizens.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Video - High cost of feed pushes Nigeria fish farmers out of business

Fish farmers in Nigeria's commercial capital, Lagos, have had to scale back on production. They say the cost of fish feed is simply too high - making the business unprofitable. Deji Badmus spoke to some that have chosen to hang in there.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Video - Suspected militants attack yet another oil facility in Nigeria

Suspected militants in the Niger Delta have attacked yet another oil facility - just one day after peace talks held by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Linda Ikeji launches social network

Since starting her blog in 2006, Linda Ikeji has become one of Nigeria’s most prominent online voices.

The 36-year-old former model’s blog, known simply as Linda Ikeji’s Blog, is the 13th most popular website in Nigeria, according to analytic company Alexa—ahead of any official news publications or sites.

Ikeji has more than 1.3 million followers on Twitter—half a million more than Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari—and almost 800,000 on Instagram. Her name was the most Googled term in Nigeria, a country of 180 million people, in 2014.

The blogger has now launched her own social network—known as Linda Ikeji Social (LIS)—which she is marketing as “Facebook meets Linda Ikeji Blog meets eBay.”

Ikeji had announced in August that she intended to expand her media empire into four more platforms—an online television station, an online radio station, a music website and LIS, which she declined to identify until it was launched on Tuesday.

The platform has a similar functionality to Facebook, allowing users to post stories and chat with friends. The twist, according to Ikeji, is that the platform has been monetized for users. The platform will pay users 1,000 naira ($) for exclusive “stories,” which Ikeji said could consist of eyewitness photos or video. Ikeji said that the site would also place advertisements on pages belonging to users with more than 50,000 followers, with the users then earning 20 percent of the revenue.

Ikeji said that the idea for the site came after an encounter with two fans in April, who told her that Facebook and her site were the only websites on the internet that they used. “I wondered, and then the idea came to me: why can’t I have a website that’s a combination of both blogging and social networking? The answer to that burning question is LIS.”

Nigeria has the biggest Facebook user base in sub-Saharan Africa, with the social network saying in February that 16 million Nigerians used the platform each month, with 100 percent of users accessing the site via mobile.

Ikeji shares a variety of content across her platforms. Her Instagram functions as a style and fashion guide for followers, while her blog shares Nigerian news and recirculates international stories.

Google took down Ikeji’s blog—which runs on the Google-owned Blogger platform—for a brief period in October 2014 amid allegations of plagiarism and intellectual property theft, which Ikeji denied.

She has also been involved in public spats with other Nigerian celebrities, including rapper Wizkid—who collaborated with Drake on the hit song “One Dance”—who allegedly threatened to have Ikeji beaten up after she wrote a derogatory post about him.