Friday, August 18, 2017

Video - Nigerian president has been in London for more than 100 days

It's been more than a hundred days since President Muhammadu Buhari left the country for medical treatment in the UK. The Nigerian government maintains all is in order, despite concerns from citizens.

Nigerian hacker sentenced to jail in New York

Obinna Obioha, a Nigerian hacker, has been jailed for 51 months by a New York federal judge for operating a fraud scheme that swindled $6.5 million from businesses in the U.S. and elsewhere.

U.S. District Judge David N. Hurd sentenced Mr. Obioha, 31, for running a scheme in which he instructed hackers to hack into computers and email accounts of individuals around the world using malicious software.

The announcement of Mr. Obioha’s sentence was made by Acting United States Attorney Grant CJaquith and Vadim D. Thomas, Special Agent in Charge of the Albany Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“Obioha, working from Nigeria, was a central figure in a fraud scheme using digital disguises and deceit to bilk businesses out of millions of dollars. We will continue to track down and bring to justice cyber criminals like Obioha no matter where they operate. I thank the FBI for its terrific work in this case identifying and apprehending Obioha,” said Acting United States Attorney Grant C. Jaquith.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Vadim D. Thomas said: “These schemes can rob individuals and businesses of their livelihood. Cyber-crime is a serious threat and the FBI is prepared to go to any lengths to apprehend those like Obioha.”

As part of his guilty plea to wire fraud in April 2017, Mr. Obioha admitted that, while in Nigeria, he worked with and instructed others to hack into computers and email accounts used by dozens of victims in the United States and around the world. The organisation infiltrated victims’ computers and email accounts using malicious software (“malware”). After monitoring victims’ information to identify imminent commercial transactions, Mr. Obioha and his associates created knockoff email addresses that appeared similar to – but varied slightly from – victims’ legitimate email addresses.

Mr. Obioha and his associates used those bogus email accounts to send fraudulent invoices to victims, instructing them to wire funds to bank accounts controlled by Mr. Obioha and his associates, under the pretence that the wires were payments for actual deals that had been previously negotiated by the victims. Mr. Obioha admitted that between January and September 2016, he was involved in at least 50 wire transfers, and that about $6.5 million was sent by wire to bank accounts that he and his associates controlled. The accounts received money from fraud victims in New York, Florida, Illinois, Ohio, and Texas, among other places.

During Thursday’s sentencing, U.S. District Judge Donald N. Hurd described Mr. Obioha as “right in the middle of the action” in “very sophisticated criminal activity” designed to achieve “millions of dollars in illegal funds.”

Mr. Obioha was arrested on October 6, 2016, after flying from Lagos, Nigeria, to JFK International Airport. He has been in custody since that time.

This case was investigated by the FBI and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Wayne Myers.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

President Trump fires adviser Adebayo Ogunlesi

Nigerian born international CEO, Adebayo Ogunlesi has now ceased to be an adviser to embattled US President Donald Trump. Trump sacked him today along with other distinguished CEOs counselling him via two councils on how to “Make America Great Again”.

Trump sacked Ogunlesi on Twitter, when he announced the dissolution of two business advisory councils, in one fell swoop.

Ogunlesi was a member of Strategic and Policy Forum, one of the two disbanded by the unpredictable president. The other group was the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative Council. Ogunlesi, heads Global Infrastructure Partners, a private equity firm and one of Fortune 500 companies. He was the only African on the panel.

The New York Times reported before Trump’s tweeted dissolution, that members of Ogunlesi’s panel were debating dissolving the body entirely as Trump wallowed deeper into bigotry quagmire. But Trump preempted their move. “Corporate leaders had hoped that President Trump would help businesses by slashing taxes and gutting regulations. 

It is not clear how much he will deliver on that score. On top of that, he is putting many chief executives in the position of answering for a president with an unparalleled track record of outraging people, most recently at a contentious press conference on Tuesday when he drew a false equivalence between the white supremacists who protested in Charlottesville, Va., last weekend and counter-protesters.”, NYT reported. Trump had earned rebuke and isolation from business leaders for supporting racial bigotry, White Supremacists and the KKK, following his remarks that failed to blame the tragic violence in Charlottesville, Virginia on the group. Instead, he blamed all the sides and the group that challenged the racists. 

The leaders of three companies — Kenneth Frazier of Merck, Kevin Plank of Under Armour and Brian Krzanich of Intel — were the first to resign from the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative Council. They resigned on Monday because Mr. Trump was slow to condemn the white supremacists during the weekend and blamed “many sides” for the violence. 

When Trump moderated his tone on Monday by saying “racism is evil” and condemning neo-Nazis, he did not assuage some of the CEOs working with him. Scott Paul, the president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, an organization backed by the steel industry and the United Steelworkers resigned. he was followed on Tuesday by Richard Trumka and Thea Lee, the president and deputy chief of staff for the union group A.F.L.-C.I.O.. The latter’s resignation followed Trump’s reversed position at a press conference at Trump Tower in New York, in which he said that “not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me,” referring to the white nationalists who were chanting “Jews will not replace us” as they marched with tiki-torches. 

Ogunlesi’s Strategic Forum, composed some of America’s most highly respected and successful business leaders. Members of the body were expected to meet with Trump frequently to share their specific experience and knowledge as the president implements his plan to bring back jobs and “Make America Great Again. ”

Apart from being managing partner of Global Infrastructure Partners, Ogunlesi also serves on the boards of Callaway Golf Co. and Kosmos Energy Ltd. At the same time he’s the chairman of Africa Finance Corp. and serves on the boards of various not-for-profits ranging from New York Presbyterian Hospital to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Video - Nigeria's blogger uses digital media to promote political dialogue

A social entrepreneur in Nigeria is using digital media platforms to promote political dialogue. Last month, Facebook reported there were nearly 16-million active users in Nigeria. And one blog has become popular among those who want to air their views on the political climate. However, critics have warned that the biased information provided on these sites could hinder an expanding media industry.

30 dead in suicide bomb attack in Nigeria

At least 30 people were killed and more than 80 others injured in a triple suicide attack Tuesday in the town of Mandarari, in Nigeria's Borno State, according to civilian vigilantes fighting Boko Haram Islamists in the area.
Three female suicide bombers detonated their explosive belts in a local market and outside a nearby camp for people displaced by Boko Haram violence.
"The first bomber struck outside the IDP (internally displaced persons) camp overlooking the market around 6 p.m. local time (1 p.m. ET) hitting some people and causing confusion as people tried to flee," civilian vigilante Bukar Kyari said.

While traders were trying to close their shops and evacuate their wares, two female bombers hit the market "almost simultaneously," said another civilian vigilante, Usman Grema.
The attacks happened on a weekly market day when people from the town and nearby villages flood the market to buy and sell food, clothing and livestock.

Twenty-eight people were initially killed at the explosion site, and two others died after being taken to a hospital in the town of Maiduguri, where they died at admission, according to a medic at the state-run hospital. The death toll is expected to rise. 

As of yet, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack. However, the Konduga district where it took place is a known flashpoint for Boko Haram attacks.

Earlier this month, a study found that the majority of suicide bombers used by Boko Haram to kill innocent victims are women and children.

Researchers at the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point and Yale University analyzed the 434 suicide bombings carried out by Nigeria-based militants Boko Haram since 2011, and found that at least 244 of the 338 attacks in which the bomber's gender could be identified were carried out by women.

The ISIS-affiliated insurgent group's use of women as bombers increased after the abduction of 276 female students aged between 16 and 18 from their school dormitories in April 2014. It has sent over 80 women to their deaths in 2017.
The report's authors say there are several reasons why women and children are chosen as bombers, one being that they are far less likely to be searched.
They can hide explosives under their billowing clothing, or inside handbags, and in some cases have even strapped explosives on their backs with infant children.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Video - Nigerian Petroleum Minister threatens to cancel licences due to high costs

The Nigerian petroleum ministry may be forced cancel production licenses if some companies fail to lower the cost of production. The ministry is engaging in negotiations with oil firms for better costs to improve revenue from crude exports.

Nigerian soldier killed by angry mob

The Nasarawa State Police Command has arrested two persons in connections with a mob action that led to the death of a soldier, Ayuba Ali, on Monday in Akwanga, Nasarawa State.

The command’s spokesperson, Kennedy Idirisu, confirmed the arrest to the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, on Monday in Lafia.

Mr. Idirisu said that available information revealed the victim, who was on pass from Maiduguri, allegedly hit a street hawker at Agwan Affi area of the town while riding on a motorbike.

According to him, the soldier, who was in mufti, tried to pacify the hawker and an altercation ensued resulting in irate youth beating him to coma.

Mr. Idirisu said the soldier later died at the hospital, while investigation has begun to arrest all the perpetrators of the dastardly act.

Meanwhile, John Abimiku, a witness, told NAN that the area has been deserted for fear of the unknown.

“As I speak with you now, about four military trucks are stationed in the area and soldiers are picking up any youth on sight,” Mr. Abimiku added.

He claimed that the two persons arrested by the police were amongst those who took the soldier to the hospital after the mob action.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Video - Nigerian president says he is ready to return home

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari says he's ready to go home after more than three months in London for his health. Many Nigerians have been questioning whether the president would be well enought to run the country. In 2017 he's spent more time in the UK than he has in Nigeria. The country's Vice President has been running Nigeria in his absence. His health has sparked several protests, with people calling for more transparency over the president's health. Nigerian authorities have maintained Buhari was getting better. All that remains now is the all-clear from his doctors.

Nigeria aplogises to the United Nations

The federal government on Sunday assured the UN of its commitment to respect and safeguard diplomatic status of the organisation’s personnel and property in Nigeria.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a statement by its acting spokesperson, Jane Adams, said that the assurance was sequel to the military search of the UN premises in Maiduguri, Borno on August 11.

The UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, Edward Kallon, had on August 11 expressed concern over the unauthorised search of a UN base for humanitarian workers in Maiduguri by security forces.

The Ministry expressed the federal government’s regret over the incident noting that government recognised its obligations under international humanitarian law and principles which protect all humanitarian organisations.

“The federal government, however, noted with satisfaction the success of the collaborative efforts by the Nigerian Army, the Borno governor and the UN team in Nigeria.

“It also noted the efforts to re-establish trust, confidence and cooperation, between the Nigerian Army and the UN in Maiduguri.

“The federal government appreciates the vital support being provided by the UN and other humanitarian organisations in addressing the humanitarian crisis in the north-east of the country,” the spokesperson said.

She said government would continue to take all necessary measures to respect and safeguard the neutrality of these institutions and the diplomatic status of the UN personnel and property in Nigeria.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Nigerians want President Buhari to resume duties or resign

Nigerian protesters in Lagos and Abuja are demanding President Muhammadu Buhari either resume his job as president or resign, after more than 90 days of absence.

Demonstrators have rallied in Lagos for three days, demanding action by the government, with many claiming Buhari's absence is unacceptable and harmful for the country.

"We believe the president has become incapacitated and cannot continue in office, so we are calling for the President to either resume (to continue as president) or resign" Adeyanju Deji, founder of the online campaign #ResistOrResign, told Al Jazeera.

Charles, another supporter of the campaign told Al Jazeera: "It's quite unacceptable that the leader of the most populous African nation in the world would leave the country and go sit down in the UK, on account of a health issue that is unknown to Nigerians".

Some have also used the hashtag #ResumeOrResign.

Buhari, 74, has been under growing pressure to disclose his state of health since a series of lengthy trips abroad to seek treatment for an unspecified illness.

He returned from London in early March after nearly two months away, then left Nigeria again on May 7, 2017.

On the other hand a pro-Buhari group called "Coalition for good governance and change initiative" also took to the streets supporting President Buhari carrying banners that read: "Our President is recuperating. Nigeria is moving forward. No cause for alarm."

Buhari was last in Nigeria in May welcoming back 83 Chibok school girls who had been abducted and then released by Boko Haram. He went on to say that he has "absolute confidence the government will continue to run smoothly while I'm away. God bless Nigeria".

In July, the Nigerian President Twitter account tweeted that Buhari "will be back to Nigeria as soon as his doctors give the go-ahead". As of now it's been more than 90 days since he was last in Nigeria.

While outside Nigeria, Buhari has handed power temporarily to vice president Yemi Osinbajo.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Video - Nigerian militants kill at least 31 fishermen in two attacks

Boko Haram militants have killed at least 31 fishermen in two separate attacks in Nigeria's north-eastern Borno state. Eyewitnesses say the gunmen stormed two islands in Lake Chad.

Graft Agency traces $615 million to Nigeria former oil minister

Nigeria’s anti-graft agency said it traced at least $615 million of allegedly illegally acquired cash and properties to the West Africa nation’s former oil minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke.

In addition to “boxes of gold, silver and diamond jewelry, worth several million pounds” found at her residence, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission identified more than a dozen buildings across the country worth more than $500 million owned by the former minister, the agency said in a statement on its website on Wednesday.

On the strength of the evidence it has gathered, the EFCC said it will ask federal courts to order that the assets be forfeited to the government, according to the statement.

Alison-Madueke has previously denied any wrongdoing, and calls to her mobile phone for comment didn’t connect. Oscar Onwudiwe, a lawyer representing Alison-Madueke, didn’t answer four calls to his mobile phone or respond to a text message seeking comment.

Appointed by former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in 2011, Alison-Madueke, an ex-president of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, served as national oil minister for five years until her party lost elections in 2015. She was arrested in London in the same year on suspicion of bribery and money laundering and later released on bail, a spokesman for the Nigerian government said at the time.

Property Forfeit

Justice Chuka Obiozor of the Federal High Court court in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, on Aug. 7 ordered Alison-Madueke to forfeit a $38 million property in the Banana Island district, one of the richest areas of the city, saying it was unlawfully acquired.

U.S. prosecutors are also seeking to recover $144 million of assets, including proceeds from the sale of a luxury condominium in Manhattan, New York, which they claim were bought with the proceeds of bribes paid for Nigerian oil contracts when Alison-Madueke was minister.

The U.S. Justice Department, in a suit filed in a Houston, Texas court, said bribes were paid between 2011 and 2015 to the former oil minister by two business associates, Kolawole Akanni Aluko and Olajide Omokore. The defendants acquired real estate in London that was used by the minister and her family, and bought her more than $1 million of furniture and artwork from several stores in Houston, according to the complaint.

Alison-Madueke was charged in a Nigerian court in April with violating anti-money laundering laws. She was described in the charge as being "at large."

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Video - Boko Haram female suicide bombers sold by their parents

Nigeria military claims parents are offering their daughters to Boko Haram militants to be used as suicide bombers. If true, it's a bizarre twist in the recruitment methods the insurgents are known for.

$37.5 million luxury apartment complex seized from Nigeria's ex-oil minister

Nigeria’s ex-oil minister Diezani Alison-Madueke has been embroiled in a global corruption scandal involving hundreds of millions of dollars that has pulled in investigators from London to Houston to the tiny island of Dominica.

On Monday (Aug. 8), a Lagos court ordered the final forfeiture of a $37.5 million apartment complex on Banana Island, one of the most expensive neighborhoods in Lagos. The building was allegedly purchased by the 56-year old ex-oil minister between 2011 and 2012 while she was still in office. The court also ordered that rent proceeds from the apartment building, totaling nearly $3 million, be forfeited.

The ruling comes after Alison-Madueke and other respondents failed to show cause for why the property should not be forfeited in the 14-day window granted by the court at its last hearing on July 19.

It is the latest high profile example of president Buhari’s government using a forfeiture strategy through the court to reclaim stolen funds or property from the ex-minister. Back in January, the government reclaimed up to $153.3 million of funds misappropriated from the Nigeria’s national oil company NNPC.

Since leaving office in 2015, Alison-Madueke has become the face of corruption during the administration of president Goodluck Jonathan.

Just last month, Alison-Madueke was named in a US Department of Justice (DOJ) lawsuit seeking to reclaim assets worth $144 million believed to have been proceeds of corrupt dealings. The assets include a $50 million luxury condo apartment in New York and a $80 million yacht purchased by Nigerian businessmen believed to have received lucrative oil contracts from Nigeria’s state oil company largely thanks to Alison-Madueke’s influence.

Among other details, DOJ’s 54-page case showed that, in exchange for the contracts, the businessmen purchased property in the United Kingdom worth £11.5 million for the ex-oil minister. Back in Oct. 2015, Alison-Madueke was arrested in London on charges of bribery and money laundering.

Monday, August 7, 2017

11 left dead in attack on Catholic Church in Nigeria

Authorities in Nigeria say at least 11 people are dead and others were critically wounded when gunmen attacked a church in southeastern Nigeria.

Garba Umar, police commissioner of Anambra state, said a gunman attacked St. Philip Catholic Church early Sunday.

But one parishioner, Uche Nonoso, told The Associated Press there were in fact two gunmen and more than 15 killed at the church.

The Rev. Hygi Aghaulor, communications director for the Nnewi Diocese, said the community was praying for the wounded.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but the police say a manhunt has been launched. Authorities said they did not believe Boko Haram was behind the attack. The group has burned hundreds of churches over the past decade.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Video - Nigeria army moves operation base to Maiduguri to tackle insurgency

Following Nigeria’s acting president Yemi Osinbajo's order, Nigeria's top military officials have moved their operation base from the country's capital Abuja, to the northeastern city of Maiduguri in Borno State. The move is meant to tackle a resurgent Boko Haram, which seems to have surprised Nigerian authorities by staging new deadly attacks.

US to sell attack aircrafts to Nigeria

The Trump administration is greenlighting a nearly $600 million sale of high-tech attack planes to Nigeria, officials said Thursday. The goal is to shore up the West African nation's ability to fight Boko Haram and other extremists, despite U.S. concerns about human rights abuses by Nigerian security forces.

The sale will let Nigeria buy up to 12 Embraer A-29 Super Tucano aircraft from Colorado-based Sierra Nevada Corp., according to officials who were briefed on the matter but spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it publicly. The aircrafts come with sophisticated targeting equipment that the U.S says will help Nigeria fight terrorism, trafficking, insurgency and illicit trade.

In his final days in office, former President Barack Obama put the planned sale on hold after a Nigerian fighter jet repeatedly bombed a camp near the Cameroon border housing civilians who had fled Boko Haram. Local officials have said more than 230 people were killed, in an incident that brought new attention to alleged abuses by Nigeria's forces.

A few weeks later, newly inaugurated President Donald Trump told Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari that he supported the sale. Trump told the Nigerian leader in their first phone call that it would increase American exports and help Nigeria fight terrorists, according to officials.

The move is Trump's latest to arm countries despite questionable rights records in some cases. On his first trip abroad as president, Trump announced a $110 billion sale of military equipment to Saudi Arabia, including precision-guided munitions that Obama had cut off over concerns about high rates of civilian casualties in Yemen. Saudi Arabia is at war with Iranian-backed Shiite rebels in Yemen.

Despite approving the sale to Nigeria, the U.S. is keeping up the pressure on Buhari's government to improve its forces' human rights practices and ensure accountability for violators, a U.S. official said. The aim of the sale is to help Nigeria and its neighbors strengthen their ability to fight Boko Haram and an Islamic State group affiliate in West Africa. Other countries in the region fighting similar threats already have the Super Tucano, the official noted.

The State Department notified Congress late Wednesday of its plans to approve the sale. That triggered a 30-day review period in which lawmakers can try to block the sale. While several Democrats in particular have raised concerns, Congress is unlikely to stop the administration from proceeding.

John Campbell, a Nigeria scholar at the Council on Foreign Relations, said concerns have receded somewhat as Nigeria has taken steps to address shortcomings, including granting the International Committee of the Red Cross access to some Nigerian detention facilities.

"There are signs of some progress," Campbell said. Still, he said Nigeria had a "long way to go."

If the sale goes forward, the U.S. will have to send employees or contractors to Nigeria to provide logistical support and train teams on how to use the aircraft. They also would provide guidance on international laws for protecting civilians, officials said.

The Nigerian air force has been accused of bombing civilian targets several times in recent years. The State Department said in report last year that the Nigerian government has taken "few steps to investigate or prosecute officials who committed violations, whether in the security forces or elsewhere in the government, and impunity remained widespread at all levels of government."

Amnesty International also has accused Nigeria's military of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the extrajudicial killings of an estimated 8,000 Boko Haram suspects. Buhari promised to investigate the alleged abuses after he won office in March 2015. No soldier has since been prosecuted.

Nigeria is Africa's largest consumer market, with 170 million people, and the continent's second-largest oil producer. It is strategically located on the edge of the Sahel, the largely lawless semi-desert region bridging north and sub-Saharan Africa where experts warn of Islamic extremists expanding their reach. More than 20,000 have been killed and about 3 million displaced in Boko Haram's insurgency since 2009, in which the extremist group has sought to enforce strict Islamic rule.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Video - Nigeria's Senate withdraws report exonerating MTN

Nigeria's Senate has withdrawn a report that largely exonerated South African telecoms giant MTN of illegally repatriating 14 billion dollars. The Senate also rebuked the Nigerian central bank for regulatory failures. The report was almost immediately sent back for further work because it did not capture possible infractions by all stakeholders. The crux of the allegation is that MTN did not obtain certificates declaring it had invested foreign currency in Nigeria within the 24-hour deadline stipulated in a 1995 law, making the repatriation of returns on the investments illegal. MTN has denied any wrongdoing.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Oil region in Nigeria threaten to quit peace talks

Negotiators representing militants in Nigeria’s oil region in talks with the government said they’ll pull out of the process if some demands aren’t met by November, accusing President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration of not doing enough for peace.

The efforts of the group, known as the Pan-Niger Delta Forum, “to help Nigeria climb out of recession through stable oil and gas production have not been met with tangible reciprocal action by the federal government,” Edwin Clark, its leader, said in a statement emailed on Tuesday.

A list of 16 demands, including the withdrawal troops from the region and the clean up of oil spills, presented for implementation “without delay” at the group’s meeting with Buhari last year was ignored, according to the statement. The negotiators “may consider pulling out of the ongoing peace process” by Nov. 1 if these demands aren’t met, said Clark.

Nigeria is suffering its worst economic downturn in a quarter century after oil prices fell in 2015 and output was hampered by a resurgence of militant attacks on pipelines in the Niger delta. The armed groups, including the Niger Delta Avengers that claimed most of the attacks, nominated the community leaders last year to represent them in talks with the government and agreed to a cease-fire.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Video - No clarity yet on how many killed in last week's attack in Nigeria

There is still no clarity yet on the death toll from last week's deadly Boko Haram attack on oil exploration experts in remote north-eastern Nigeria. The military had initially said only six of its personnel died in the ambush AND that it rescued all the oil exploration experts reportedly kidnapped. But it later emerged that information was not correct. The military has apologised, saying its initial statement was, quote, most regrettable.

Video - Nigeria, Africa's biggest oil producer calls for shift in strategy

Nigeria is calling for a drastic shift in business strategy among African oil producers to cope with the industry's crumbling fortunes. Nigeria spearheads the African Petroleum Producers Association. Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has asked the association's technical committee to urgently craft a new strategy for the continent.

Former Nigeria President's house looted by police

Former president of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, lost properties running into millions of naira when his residence in the administrative capital, Abuja, was burgled over a period of time.

The Premium Times news portal in an exclusive report said three police officers detailed to guard the premises had ‘conducted a systematic looting over a period of three months beginning from around March 2016.’

The ex-President’s spokesperson is said to have confirmed the incident adding that the said officers had been arrested. The implicated men are said to be two sergeants and an inspector.

They are said to have stripped the house bare over the period and were selling these items – some of which were customized materials – to traders in a popular second-hand market at Abuja.

Mr. Jonathan who is said to have visited the property after the looting according to the report, spoke directly with the Inspector General of Police with respect to the matter.

The 59-year-old former governor of Bayelsa State, is said to have occupied the house in his capacity as Vice-President for about a year. He moved to Aso Rock – the seat of government – as Acting President following the death of his boss, Umaru Musah Yar’Adua in 2010.

He won a substantive term after seeing out Yar’Adua’s tenure. He beat Muhammadu Buhari in polls held in 2011. But lost a second term bid to Buhari in 2015. His government came under flak for rising Boko Haram attacks and issues of widespread corruption.

The Premium Times portal listed some of the looted items as follows:

1. Traditional attires and bowler hats of the Niger Delta region: about 20 bags.
2. Customized suits: about five bags.
3. About 10 bags of Niger Delta styled women attires.
4. Bundles of Ankara materials, known as ‘Atamfa.’
5. About 10 sets of northern Nigeria styled three piece apparel.
6. Bag containing clothes with the opposition PDP logo sewn on each one.
Other electrical appliances that were stolen and sold by the officers were:

1. 36 Plasma televisions.
2. About 25 refrigerators.
3. Five sets of furniture.
4. Two sets of sitting room chairs.
5. Several air conditioner units.

Google CEO visits Nigeria

Google boss Sundar Pichai joined members of his executive team on his first visit to Nigeria as the company launched YouTube offline for Nigeria to help users save on data costs.

“What a great honour to have had our CEO @sundarpichai join us for #GoogleforNigeria today,” it tweeted via its verified handle @googleafrica.

Pichai who announced a series of products for the country, including YouTube Go, a platform where users with slow Internet can preview and save videos, also announced plans to train 10 million Africans.

This means that YouTube users in the country can now download any video in a range of different resolutions so that they can watch it later without an Internet connection.

Although, the cost of data is expensive and at times the Internet is very slow, Nigeria, with about 93 million mobile Internet users, making it the highest in Africa, is the second country after India to have the YouTube Go capability.

The move is certain to increase YouTube’s growing Nigeria base, which the platform is keen to court; it held the first YouTube sub-Saharan Africa awards last year and prominent Nigerian bloggers have been featured in advertising campaigns around the country.

According to Google, owners of YouTube since 2006, the number of hours of video content being uploaded in Africa has doubled for the past two years, while viewing time on mobile phones is grown 120% year over year.

According to Caesar Sengupta, Vice President of product management, Google will also launch a partnership in September with Japanese mobile manufacturer Freetel to provide 13,000 Naira (about $40) Android phones for the country.

Another feature that was launched for Nigeria was the Lagos Street View.

Imagery of 10,000 kilometres of Lagos roads, including Eko Bridge, Carter Bridge and the National Museum, are now available on Street View.

The tech giant is also set to launch Google Impact Challenge in Africa in 2018 as innovators from non-profits will be able to share ideas on how they can impact their communities and beyond.

“We ask non-profits from around Africa to nominate the best ideas and we allow local people to vote for what they think is the best idea. Nongovernmental organizations nominate themselves and people get to vote and choose where the funding goes to,” announced Pichai.

Google set up the challenge and visits regions across the world asking locals to share innovation that could help their communities and beyond. The winners will get a grant of $5 million to develop the concept.

Google grants arm will also train 100,000 African software gurus focusing mainly on Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Video - Africa's biggest black gold producer Nigeria calls for a shift in strategy

Africa's biggest oil producer Nigeria is calling for a drastic shift in business strategy among the continent's oil producers to cope with tumbling fortunes in the oil industry. West Africa's largest economy spearheads the Association of Africa oil producers. Acting president Yemi Osinbajo has asked the association's technical committee to urgently craft a new strategy for the continent.

Mass arrests in Nigeria over gay sex

More than 40 men have been arrested Nigeria over the weekend for performing homosexual acts, police say.

They are due to appear in court later.

Nigerian newspaper Punch reports that the police raided a hotel in Lagos State on Saturday afternoon and says the hotel was cordoned off while the investigation was carried out.

Homosexual acts are punishable by up to 14 years in jail in Nigeria, while gay marriage and shows of same-sex affection are also banned.

Same-sex relations are explicitly banned in 72 countries, according to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA).

The number of states that criminalise same-sex relations is decreasing annually, though, with Belize and the Seychelles repealing such laws last year.

Nigeria is one of a small number of countries which has gone against a global trend.

The country has had a ban on gay relationships since 1901, and in 2013 also outlawed same-sex marriages, gay groups and shows of same-sex public affection.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Video - Designers awake to new age of "modest" couture in Nigeria

In Nigeria women who like to dress modestly have found a place in the fashion industry. An alternative catwalk, which showcases full-body couture, is growing in popularity - especially among Muslim women.

Video - 8 people killed, 15 rescued from Lagos building rubble

Eight people were killed and fifteen rescued, when a four-storey building collapsed in a densely populated area of Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos. Rescue operations have since ended and the site has now been condoned off. Officials of the Lagos State building Control Agency blame the collapse on foundation failure caused by excessive load on the building. A telecommunication mast had been erected on the building weeks ago without the necessary approval.

Video - Nigeria stocks surge to three year high

Nigerian stocks continue a rally witnessed for the last 17 successive days, an achievement last accomplished in 2001. The market crossed the 37,000 point level on Thursday to close 1.37 percent stronger at 37.245 points. The level was last seen in November 2014. On Wednesday stocks surged 3.4 percent to hit the 32-month high. The rise has been attributed to positive results from several mid-sized firms that have announced half-year earnings. It is also being seen as a sign that Nigeria's economy is on the road to recovery. Governor Godwin Emefiele said recently that Nigeria is likely to emerge from a recession this year.

50 people died during Boko Haram ambush of oil team in Maiduguri, Nigeria

More than 50 people were killed in a Boko Haram ambush on an oil exploration team in northeast Nigeria earlier this week, multiple sources told AFP news agency on Thursday, warning the death toll could rise.

Tuesday's attack in the Magumeri area of Borno state on a convoy of specialists from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) was the group's deadliest in months.

It underscored the persistent threat posed by Boko Haram fighters, despite government claims they are a spent force, and also the risks associated with the hunt for crude in the volatile Lake Chad basin.

Details of the ambush, which was initially thought to be a kidnapping attempt, have been slow to emerge and an exact death toll difficult to establish, as the military strictly controls access to rural Borno.

Telecommunications and other infrastructure have been severely damaged or destroyed in the conflict, which has left at least 20,000 dead and more than 2.6 million homeless since 2009.

The army said on Wednesday that 10 people were killed in the attack.

But one source involved in dealing with the aftermath told AFP news agency on Thursday: "The death toll keeps mounting. Now we have more than 50... and more bodies are coming in."

"It's clear that the attack wasn't for abduction. They (Boko Haram) attacked just to kill."

Missing university staff

An aid agency worker in Magumeri, which is 50 kilometres northwest of Maiduguri, said 47 bodies were recovered from the bush as of Wednesday evening.

"Eleven of them were badly burned in the attack. They were burned alive in their vehicle, which was stuck in a trench," he added.

"We buried them here because they couldn't be taken to Maiduguri.

"This evening (Thursday), six more bodies were recovered, including one soldier, and many more could be recovered because search and rescue teams are all over the place."

A medical source at the Nigerian Army 7th Division headquarters at Maimalari barracks in Maiduguri said: "So far we have 18 dead soldiers. Ten were brought yesterday and eight more today."

At the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH), a medical worker said: "We have 19 bodies at the moment of civilians.

"Fifteen of them were vigilantes (civilian militia), and four were staff from the university. They have been taken for burial."

The head of the academic staff union at the University of Maiduguri, Dani Mamman, confirmed they had received four bodies and said two of them were academics.

"We got the impression our staff on the team were rescued because that was what the military spokesman said yesterday," he added.

"But we were shocked when we were given four dead bodies. This means it wasn't a rescue. We still have other staff that are yet to be accounted for."

Hospital and army officials told the local Punch newspaper that the corpses of 18 soldiers and 30 others had been brought to a facility in Maiduguri following the incident.

The bodies brought to the hospital included 18 soldiers, 15 members of the Civilian Joint Task Force (JTF), a group of fighters to help expel Boko Haram, five local university staff and four NNPC drivers, Punch reported.
An ongoing threat
In a statement, Nigeria's junior oil minister and the former head of the NNPC Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu described the attack as "unfortunate" but did not give a death toll.

OPEC-member Nigeria is looking to find new oil reserves away from the southern Niger Delta, which has been blighted by attacks from rebels wanting a fairer share of revenue for local people.

With production hit by the attacks, there has been a shift in focus to explore inland basins, including around Lake Chad in the northeast, where Nigeria meets Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

Both Chad and Niger are exploiting reserves on their side of the freshwater lake.

Activities on the Nigerian side had to stop in November 2014 because of Boko Haram violence, but the military gave permission to resume exploration in November last year, according to Kachikwu.

Work is centred on a triangle of hotly contested land stretching from Gubio in the west of Borno to Marte in the east, and Kukawa, in the far northeast corner near the shores of the lake.

There has been no serious suggestion that Boko Haram is motivated by a desire to control oil in northeast Nigeria.

But fighters, squeezed out of captured territory by the military counterinsurgency, may have been eager to make a show of force against the soldiers and civilian militia guarding the NNPC team.

In recent months, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group affiliate has been forced to rely on guerilla tactics, particularly suicide bomb attacks, against the security forces and civilian militia.

Women and young girls, in particular, have been used against civilian "soft" targets such as mosques, as well as the university in Maiduguri.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Video - Nigerian state oil firm says 10 employees abducted by Boko Haram

10 geological researchers have been kidnapped by suspected Boko Haram militants in Nigeria. According to the National Petroleum Corporation, geologists and surveyors from the University of Maidugiri were ambushed near Jibi village in Borno state. They are contracted to work on oil exploration in nearby Lake Chad. Some local media are reporting that many people were killed in the ambush. But this has yet to be confirmed.

More young people to participate in the house of senate in Nigeria

Nigeria’s next general elections might still be two years away but there’s already a good reason for young citizens to be excited.

In a session today (July 26), the Nigerian senate voted to lower the age limit for contesting for elections for the offices of state governors and president. The age limit for candidates for president has been reduced from 40 to 35 and, for governorship positions, from 35 to 30. To take effect, the vote still requires endorsement by 24 of Nigeria’s 35 state assemblies as well as the president’s assent. Regardless, the landmark vote marks a triumph for the “Not Too Young To Run” campaign led by a coalition of youth advocacy groups.

The vote comes at a time when public perception favours a younger generation of leaders with a recent survey by NOIPolls showing that a majority of Nigerians hope to elect a president younger than 50 in the 2019 elections. At 53, Goodluck Jonathan was Nigeria’s youngest president at time of taking office since 1999, the start of the current democratic era.

Nigeria is a particularly young country with a median age of 18. UN predicts that while 2.2 billion people could be added to the global population by 2050, Africa will account for more than half of that growth. Nigeria will account for some of that growth spurt as it is projected to become the world’s third largest country with a population of over 300 million.

The current debacle around the health status of Nigeria’s president Muhammadu Buhari, 74, also serves as a timely reminder to the perils of electing older presidents. Buhari is currently away in London on his second medical leave in 2017 where he’s spending time getting treatment for an undisclosed ailment. The president has spent more time away getting treatment than he’s been at work this year. A photo of president Buhari released earlier this week was the first time he’d been seen in public in nearly three months.

The Senate also voted to allow independent candidates to run for office, reversing a decades-old trend which has required aspirants to be members of political parties, thus needing the backing Nigeria’s political establishment to seek and possibly win votes.

However, running as an independent candidate, while encouraging more participation, is hardly a guarantee of victory as aspirants will still be up against the deep pockets and network of the country’s largest parties. But, if nothing else, the move is seen as bringing local politics in line with global trends. Long-term, the Senate’s votes today will likely further galvanize young Nigerians who, after becoming more involved in politics, have witnessed repeatedly underwhelming governments and may have become cynical or apathetic.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Video - Women take the stage in Nigeria's floating slum

Nigeria's floating Makoko slum - a vast settlement of houses on stilts in a Lagos lagoon was the stage for this year's showing of the popular play - "Hear Word" - a performance targeting issues affecting women. The cast of Makoko residents, with no acting experience, alongside Nollywood veterans delivered powerful scenes on a stage that will later be converted to a community center for the women of the slum.

Nigeria has highest number of children out of school in the world

Nigeria has the largest number of children in the world who are not being educated, the government has said.

Acknowledging the scale of the problem the education ministry's permanent secretary Adamu Hussaini said it was "sad to note" that Nigeria had 10.5 million children out of school.

This is the first time senior officials have admitted the size of the problem.

Cultural factors have been blamed but critics point to a lack of money going to publicly funded schools.

The UN's children's agency, Unicef, has been campaigning on this issue as well as a number of other groups.

On a visit to the country last week, education activist Malala Yousafzai met acting president Yemi Osinbajo and asked him to declare what she called "an education state of emergency in Nigeria".

Mr Hussaini said those most affected were girls, street children and the children of nomadic groups and added that economic prosperity can only be achieved with an "inclusive and functional education system".

But BBC Hausa editor Jimeh Saleh says the failure in the education system is due to a lack of government funding, rather than any cultural factors as suggested by the ministry.

"Government funded schools in Nigeria have practically collapsed over the years because of poor funding leaving children from poor homes with nowhere to go but the streets," he says.

Unicef estimates that 60% of Nigerian children not attending school live in the north of the country.

Shell shuts down major oil pipeline in Nigeria

Anglo-Dutch energy giant Shell said Tuesday it has shut down a key crude supply pipeline in Nigeria’s restive south because of a leak.

Shell subsidiary the Shell Petroleum Development Corporation of Nigeria Ltd (SPDC) said the Trans Niger Pipeline (TNP) was shut on July 21 at B-Dere in Ogoniland.

“Efforts are ongoing for a joint investigation visit to determine the cause of the leak and repair of the pipeline,” the company said in a statement. The volume of production shut-in was not disclosed. The TNP feeds the Bonny Light export terminal, which has a production capacity of 225,000 barrels per day of oil. Militants and oil thieves in the region have repeatedly attacked the pipeline. Community unrest forced Shell to quit oil production in Ogoniland in 1993 but the company still runs a network of pipelines criss-crossing the area. 

A spokesman for the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) pressure group said it was not responsible for the latest shutdown. “We are not involved in the incident we only heard about it. Our position however remains that Shell is not welcome on our land,” Fegalo Nsuke told AFP. He called on Shell to address the issues of environmental degradation, neglect, injustice and under-development before considering the resumption of production in Ogoniland. 

“If they want our oil, they have to take care of the people,” he added. MOSOP founder Ken Saro-Wiwa was executed with eight other activists by Nigeria’s then-military government in November 1995 on trumped-up murder charges at a secret trial. Many believed his conviction was politically motivated because of his opposition to Shell’s presence in Ogoniland, where there have been repeated oil spills. In 2015, Shell agreed to pay £55 million ($72 million, 61 million euros) in compensation to more than 15,500 people in Ogoniland and agreed to start a clean-up of two major spills.

Boko Haram ambush oil convoy in Maiduguri, Nigeria

Authorities in northern Nigeria say roughly 10 military personnel have been killed and a similar number of university workers are unaccounted for after Boko Haram extremists attacked their convoy.

The secretary of the Hunters Association in Borno State, Bunu Bukar, says members of the self-defense group saw the bodies of military personnel after the ambush Tuesday.

The military and self-defense group were providing security for oil exploration workers in northern Borno state. Bukar says the convoy had been traveling between Magumeri and Gubio towns.

Nigeria’s military has not immediately commented on the ambush.

Boko Haram’s eight-year insurgency has killed more than 20,000 people and continues to carry out deadly attacks despite the government’s declaration late last year that the extremists had been “crushed.”


5 dead in building collapse in Lagos, Nigeria

A four-story residential building collapsed in Nigeria's largest city and killed at least five people, emergency officials in Lagos said Wednesday.

Authorities said at least 15 people had been rescued from the rubble of the building that collapsed Tuesday afternoon.

Government officials did not immediately say what caused the collapse in a poor neighbourhood of the sprawling city of about 21 million people. Rescue efforts continued overnight and into Wednesday morning.

An Associated Press photographer at the scene saw the body of one adult pulled from the rubble. It was not clear how many people were living in the building.

Hundreds of people gathered at the scene where rescue workers and heavy machinery were sifting through the rubble.

Building collapses are not uncommon in the West African powerhouse where corruption is rampant and infrastructure often poor.

Lagos, Nigeria's commercial hub, is said to be Africa's largest city.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Video - U.N. says Nigerian government must intensify efforts to free remaining girls

The United Nations has called on Nigeria to intensify its efforts to find and free the remaining girls abducted by Boko Haram. A U.N. panel of experts has been assessing discrimination against women in the West African nation. It's recommended that the government ensure young women are able to return to school without fear of stigma due to their abduction.

Government of Nigeria wants to regulate social media

The federal government is in a move to set up a council whose duty will be to regulate the use of social media in Nigeria.

The recommendation was made by the National Council on Information, NCI, which suggests, “setting up of a council to regulate the use of social media in Nigeria.”

The recommendation was part of a communiqué issued at the end of Extraordinary Meeting of NCI on Hate Speeches, Fake News and National Unity held in Jos, Plateau state.

The Council, presided over by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, recommended the use of stringent measures in checking conventional media and their programmes.

The Council noted that there was no way vetting and editing posts on Social media could be possible since it has no address.

The Council also suggested that information managers at the state level should open a website that would immediately counter report of any misinformation posted on social media.

It further recommended the killing of whatever is assumed or presumed to be hate speeches or fake news or misinformation by the information managers in various states on social media.

NCI said social media might take over the 2019 elections because Nigerians have come to rely on whatever they find on social media than on conventional media.

President Buhari expected back in Nigeria in two weeks

A Nigerian state governor says he expects President Muhammadu Buhari to return home from the UK within the next two weeks.

Governor Rochas Okorocha was a member of a delegation who met the president in London on Sunday.

Mr Buhari has been receiving treatment in the UK for an unspecified illness.

His absence has led to some anxiety in Nigeria, with some speculating that he might have died. Others have worried he may not be able to return to duty.

The presidency later released images of Mr Buhari, 74, at the meeting with governors from his party. It is the first time he has been pictured in London since leaving Nigeria almost 80 days ago.

'High spirits'

The Imo state governor told the BBC's Newshour programme on Monday: "I met a very hardy man in high spirits, and he's doing quite well. He has not lost his sense of humour, for which is he known for.

"So he is doing quite well and we are very pleased to see him and I think that has gone a long way to reassure Nigerians about the health of their president."

Mr Okorocha earlier said Mr Buhari had laughed off rumours concerning his health when asked about them.

"President Buhari was completely unperturbed by the cocktail of lies. He, instead, sent his best wishes to Nigerians."

Mr Buhari would be returning as soon as doctors gave him the green light, Mr Okorocha said.

The president left Nigeria on 7 May - his second trip to the UK for treatment this year.

In his absence, he has given Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo full powers to act as head of state.
Buhari's unhealthy start to 2017

19 January: Leaves for UK on "medical vacation"

5 February: Asks parliament to extend medical leave

10 March: Returns home but does not resume work immediately

26 April: Misses second cabinet meeting and is "working from home"

28 April: Misses Friday prayers

3 May: Misses third consecutive cabinet meeting

5 May: Appears at Friday prayers in Abuja

7 May: Travels to UK for further treatment

6 June: Buhari's wife says he is "recuperating fast"

12 July: Acting head of state says the president will be home "very soon"

Monday, July 24, 2017

Video - Nigeria government sending troops to Kaduna amid ongoing clashes

Nigeria's government says it is sending more security personnel to southern Kaduna where hundreds have been killed in clashes between Fulani herdsmen and villagers in the past months.The statement follows latest clashes in the village of Kajuru where 37 people were killed in the past week.

Video - Nigeria releases first photograph of president in almost 80 days

Nigeria has released a photograph of President Muhammadu Buhari-the first in almost three months, since he left the country for treatment in the UK. The picture shows Buhari dining in Britain with senior members of his political party. Speculation is rife in Nigeria, over Buhari's medical condition. Buhari is on his second medical leave so far this year. His health has also sparked debate about his ability to finish his current term, to his being able to contest the 2019 election.

Suicide bombers attack IDP camps in Nigeria

At least eight people have been killed after female suicide bombers attacked two camps hosting internally displaced people (IDP) in northeastern Nigeria's Maiduguri, a civilian self-defence group said.

It was the first major attack on a displaced persons camp in the city which is the birthplace of the Boko Haram.

The attack started late Sunday night and left another 15 people wounded, the Civilian-JTF group spokesman Bello Danbatta told The Associated Press.

Boko Haram often targets the city with suicide bombers and has been using female ones increasingly.

Late last year, Nigeria's government declared the group "crushed" but dozens of such attacks have taken place in 2017.

The latest bombings occurred a few days after Nigeria's army chief of staff issued a 40-day deadline for troops to flush out Boko Haram's leader and finish off the group.

Danbatta said one bomber sneaked into the Dalori camp and detonated, and two other attackers exploded on or near the camp's perimeter fence. Another bomber detonated early on Monday.

Thousands of people continue to shelter in camps after being forced from their homes by Boko Haram.

Attacks carried out by the group over the last eight years have killed more than 20,000 people, kidnapped thousands of others, spilled into neighbouring countries and created one of the world's largest humanitarian crises.

Nigeria is moving closer to famine, with more than five million people expected to face "crisis, emergency and famine conditions" by the end of August as the lean season continues, the Norwegian Refugee Council said in a statement on Monday.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Video - Etisalat Nigeria rebranded as 9mobile

Troubled telecoms firm Etisalat Nigeria has a new image. The company will now trade as nine-mobile. The new look was triggered by Etisalat International's decision to pull out of Nigeria after debt restructuring talks between the firm and banks failed.

Nigeria's former oil minister's $37.5 million property to be seized

A Nigerian court has ordered the temporary seizure of a $37.5 million property owned by a former oil minister, the state news agency said, the latest move related to graft allegations against a lynchpin of the last administration.

Diezani Alison-Madueke, a key figure in the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan who served as petroleum minister in the OPEC member country from 2010 to 2015, has been dogged by corruption allegations over the last year.

The U.S. Justice Department filed a civil complaint last Friday aimed at recovering about $144 million in assets allegedly obtained through bribes to the former minister.

A lawyer representing the former minister did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

Alison-Madueke's whereabouts are unclear, but she was last known to be in Britain.

In April, she was charged in absentia with money laundering by Nigeria's financial crimes agency.

In October 2015, she was briefly arrested in London for questioning about allegations related to missing public funds but no charges were brought against her. Prior to her arrest she had denied to Reuters any wrongdoing when asked about missing public funds and corruption allegations.

On Wednesday the Federal High Court in the commercial capital Lagos issued the order over Alison-Madueke's property in the city's upmarket Banana Island area which she bought in 2013, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) said.

The property is an apartment block situated in a heavily guarded gated community where some of the richest people in the country have properties worth millions of dollars. The area is also popular with expat oil executives.

The court also ordered a temporary freeze on sums of $2.74 million and 84.54 million naira ($269,000) that were said to be part of the rent collected on the property.

The temporary seizure orders were made following an application to the court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Anselem Ozioko, the barrister representing EFCC, told the court that the financial crimes agency suspected the property was acquired with the proceeds of alleged illegal activities.

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari took office in May 2015 vowing to crackdown on corruption, but there have been no high-profile graft convictions during his tenure.

A number of former government officials have faced criminal charges, which they have denied, since Buhari took office.

The opposition People's Democratic Party (PDP), which ruled for 16 years prior to Buhari taking office, has previously accused the 74-year-old former military ruler of mounting a witch-hunt against its members.

Hotline set-up to stop Nigerians from murdering their wives

It was an ordinary afternoon when Anthonia Iheme left her work at a nursing home in Hennepin County, Minnesota, and got into her car. But as she was about to pull out of the car park, she was shot - twice. Her vehicle lurched forward and clipped the side of a parked van before going over a pavement, down a small hill and striking a chain-link fence bordering the nursing facility. The gunman followed. He approached the driver's window and fired several more shots.

The attacker was Anthonia's husband. It was July 24, 2008. After murdering his wife, he called 911 and declared: "I have killed the woman that messed my life up … a woman that destroyed me."

Years later, Grace Ogiehor-Enoma sat quietly on the J train heading to her office in the New York borough of Brooklyn. When the train emerged above ground, her phone rang. The caller had hidden his ID.

"Tell me why I should not kill my wife now," he raged.

Although she receives similar calls 10 to 15 times a year, they never cease to startle Ogiehor-Enoma. The man, calling from the state of Georgia, launched into a tirade against Nigerian nurses in the United States.

"Some of the women, they deserve what they get," he said. Ogiehor-Enoma let him vent.

When he had finished, she assumed the role of educator and counsellor. She asked: What would become of his children? What would become of him? By the end of her commute, she had managed to talk him down.

After 10 Nigerian women - eight of them nurses - had been killed in the US by their partners between 2006 and 2008 - shot, stabbed or bludgeoned to death - Ogiehor-Enoma decided to act.

The nurse and executive director of the National Association of Nigerian Nurses in North America (NANNNA) started handing out her mobile phone number at community gatherings and events. It became an unofficial, de facto hotline for Nigerian men abusing or contemplating killing their partners, for couples seeking help, and for abused women.

The unofficial hotline was part of her organisation's efforts to understand and tackle domestic violence among Nigerians in the US. Why was there so much violence against nurses? What should be done?

Deciphering violence
Domestic abuse and fatal cases of partner violence are global phenomena. According to the United Nations, 38 percent of murders of women worldwide are committed by their male partners, and partner violence is the most common type of violence against women, affecting 30 percent of women globally.

The National Network to End Domestic Violence reports that three women are killed every day in the US by their partners. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), black women in the US have historically experienced intimate partner violence at rates higher than white women.

These numbers, however, fail to account for the plurality of experiences within the African-American community. The BJS' National Crime Victimization Survey did not track domestic-related murders and murder-suicides by perpetrators with an immigrant status until July 2016.

NANNNA wanted to determine the specific factors driving violence in the Nigerian diaspora. In 2011, they conducted an informal investigation into the murders of Nigerian nurses, gathered anecdotal data by reviewing comments on Nigerian news sites and blogs, hosted focus groups and used knowledge gleaned from the hotline.

Their findings revealed a recurring theme for Nigerian women in the US. They earned more than their partners and worked long hours, which kept them from what their partners perceived to be their domestic duties and led to suspicions of infidelity.

It also revealed a clash between a particular strain of patriarchy - as embodied by the Nigerian man accustomed to the norms of his male-dominated homeland - and feminism, as represented by the acculturated Nigerian woman.

Women were accused of "losing their identity" in the US and being corrupted by its "women-friendly" legal system.

NANNNA is currently collaborating with two psychiatrists at Yale University, Theddeus Iheanacho and Charles Dike, to formally research domestic violence against nurses in the US and Nigeria. Based on news reports of fatal domestic violence cases, Iheanacho estimates that on average in the past decade about three to four Nigerian nurses are killed by their intimate partners every year.

"In Nigeria, the balance of power, most of the time, is in the man's hands, so he has less recourse to violence," says Iheanacho. "Domestic violence is acceptable in Nigeria."

Nearly a third of all women in Nigeria, 28 percent, have experienced physical violence. Nigeria has disparate pieces of legislation. A few states have passed legislation on domestic violence, but others permit husbands to physically "correct" their wives. Nigeria signed the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act into law only in 2015, after a decade-long legislative process. The bill finally tagged spousal battery as "an offence".

"[But] there is no enforcement of laws around domestic violence in Nigeria," says Iheanacho.

Sometimes the abuse can escalate to extreme violence because women often stay in abusive relationships and refuse to take advantage of the different sources of aid available to them in the US. They believe as Ogiehor-Enoma puts it, "that as Nigerian women you have to be married to gain the respect of the community".
Why nurses?

One of the reasons nurses are targeted is because it is a common profession for Nigerian women in the US.

Based on data from the Migration Policy Institute as of 2015, Nigeria was the third source country for foreign-born registered nurses in the US. The field is relatively easy to get into; one can become a certified nursing assistant, picking up extra shifts and working for $12.78 an hour, in a matter of weeks.

"Nigerian nurses [also] marry Nigerian-American men as tickets/passports to higher income and better quality of life," states the NANNNA study, which also revealed that some Nigerian-American men often return to Nigeria to marry nurses or women they later convince to adopt the profession.

After bringing their female partners to the US and or funding their nursing education, some of the men feel entitled to their partners' salaries and insist on controlling their income. Once the women start to work, the men expect a return on their investment, says Ogiehor-Enoma - but in the US they often find it harder than anticipated to control their partners.

"Decisions about how money is spent are a source of conflict. The women were blamed for rebelling against this expectation and sometimes flaunting their superior contribution to their peril," says the NANNNA study.

It is not just the prevalence of the nursing occupation in the community that accounts for why most of the victims of fatal domestic violence cases are nurses. For Iheanacho, the murders of nurses are almost symbolic.

"Nurses are just representative of a professional woman," he says. "A nurse from Nigeria represents a successful professional, potentially independent, woman."

Ogiehor-Enoma receives calls from irate husbands, complaining that now their women are nurses they no longer feel respected by them.

Her hotline has deepened understanding into the issue, and it is also filling a void - offering help to a community that is often not reached.

Official marriage counselling or involving the authorities in marital disputes is not common in the Nigerian community "because back home we tend to focus on elders; reporting the woman or the husband to the mother-in-law or to the family member to discuss the issues," Ogiehor-Enoma says.

Community members, like most immigrants, are often unwilling to seek help from official sources of aid for fear of the authorities and of betraying their own group.

Research findings suggest West African immigrants are more likely to turn to informal avenues such as religious leaders, friends and relatives for help with domestic violence than the authorities, psychologists or marriage counsellors.
Filling the void

The advice and counselling Ogiehor-Enoma dispenses draws on her medical training, her Nigerian background and common sense.

When she receives calls from men, she refers them to local NANNNA leaders in their state; and she directs abused women to the National Domestic Violence Hotline. The calls are confidential and are often from nurses and their partners. But it is difficult to get these men and women to trust and use resources outside the community.

After the 2011 research, NANNNA presented its findings to the Ministry of Health in Nigeria and created domestic violence groups in their 13 chapters across the US.

Ogiehor-Enoma faces a lack of resources to create an official hotline with designated responders other than her as well as the culture of silence around domestic violence that prevents more people from using existing services to openly discuss intimate partner abuse.

More research, services and programmes tailored to the cultural needs of the community are needed to effectively monitor and curb domestic violence, she says. This would involve collaborating with diaspora groups and religious centres such as churches and mosques.

There have been no fatal cases since the death of Nigerian-American nurse Nnenna Laura Ogbonna-Onwumelu in Baltimore, Maryland on February 16, 2016.

The calls to Ogiehor-Enoma's hotline are decreasing, and she isn't certain why, but she attributes it partly to a lack of awareness and people's unwillingness to discuss domestic violence. Perhaps opening a direct line to her community has also helped with curbing domestic violence, but without the data, it's hard to tell.

Ogiehor-Enoma, like Iheanacho, believes the murders are just the tip of the iceberg, as the abuse endures and remains normalised below the surface. For their study, Iheanacho and Dike screened 100 Nigerian nurses in the US and Nigeria, and while their final findings will be reported in November, Iheanacho says the majority of the women screened positive for intimate partner violence.

As much as the Nigerian diaspora tries to save face and tackle its issues internally, Ogiehor-Enoma admits their aims cannot be met alone. More external assistance and resources are needed for community-run programmes; particularly programmes targeting men. "Our community needs help," she says.

Written by Irene Chidinma Nwoye

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Video - Abuja, Lagos are among the most costly cities for expats in Nigeria

Consulting firm Mercer has released its latest Cost of Living Survey. African, Asian and European cities top the list of most expensive locations for people working abroad in 2017. Two of those African cities are Lagos and Abuja -- both in Nigeria.

Video - Retired footballer Okocha believes Nigeria will rise again

Speaking on the sidelines of that symposium, retired Nigerian footballer Austin Okocha has backed his country to bounce back, despite a recent spate of poor results.

Nigeria clears Cameroon of the death of 97 fishermen

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, on Wednesday said there was no evidence of 97 Nigerians being killed by Cameroonian Gendarmes.

He said the 97 deaths represented the accumulation of all the Nigerians that had been killed in previous incidents in the Bakassi area since 2008.

Mr. Onyeama made the claim before the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs headed by Nnena Elendu-Ukeje. The committee is probing the incident.

The minister, who was represented by the permanent secretary in the ministry, Olusola Enikanolaye, added that independent investigation had shown that such killings did not occur.

He explained that the incident started following the deployment in July 2017 of a new Divisional Officer (DO) to Idabato sub- division of Cameroon to administer the Bakassi General Area.

“On assumption of office , the new DO commenced the imposition of new taxes on the residents after a meeting with all the chiefs.

“Accordingly, all men engaged in fishing and other business activities in the area were to pay N55,000, women 30,000 and churches N50,000 per annum.”

“Furthermore, taxes on packets of fish were raised from N200 to N1,000. Butchers were to pay N1,000 per head for goats slaughtered by them.

“The sanctions placed on the residents for violation of the tax rules include seizure of their boats and payment of 200 per cent of the initial tax.

“This accounts for the N100,000 which was hitherto heralded in the news and initial reports as the amount of the tax to be paid by Nigerians.”

He said by the records of the Nigerian Mission, the death recorded were not orchestrated by the Gendarmes.

He said some Nigerians fled their homes and headed for the Ikang Jetty when the new DO threatened to use force. It was while they were on their way that some of them reportedly drowned.

“Unfortunately, the leaders who confirmed these assertions to the team had no corpse of persons drowned in the incident as proof of the manner of death,” he said.

New oil policy approved by Nigeria

The Federal Government has approved a new policy on oil administration in the country.

The approval is sequel to a memo presented to the Federal Executive Council, FEC, by the Minister of State, Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu.

Mr. Kachikwu said the approval was given at FEC meeting Of Wednesday chaired by the acting president, Yemi Osinbajo.

Briefing State House correspondents at the end of the meeting, Mr. Kachikwu said his ministry had already began implementing some of the policy.

“We are working assiduously to exit the importation of fuel in 2019 and we also captured the cash calls changes we have done which enables the sector to fund itself through incremental volumes,” he said.

The minister also said the new policy captured the reorganisation in the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, for efficiency and to enable accountability.

“It captured the issues in the Niger Delta and what we needed to do as a government, to focus on stability and consistency in the sector.

“It is a very comprehensive 100-page document that’s deals with all the spectrum in the industry,” he said.

Mr. Kachikwu said the last oil policy was in 2007.

“It’s has been 10 Years and you are aware that the dynamics of the oil industry has changed dramatically.

“Apart from the fact of fluidity in pricing and uncertainty in terms of the price regime in crude, we are pushing for a refining processing environment and moving away from exporting as it were to refining petroleum product, that’s one change you will see.

“Secondly how we sell our crude is going to be looked at, there is a lot of geographical market we need to look at in the long term, contracting and sales as opposed to systemic contracting that we have been doing.

“Those are the fundamentals, it’s a document if well executed will fundamentally take the change process that we began in 2015 to its logical conclusion hopefully in the next couple of years,” he said.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Video - Public outcry over Nigerian lawmakers' salary perks intensifies

If there is one thing Nigerians are unanimous about, it's that their lawmakers earn far more than they should. Public pressure to reduce lawmakers' salaries and allowances has been growing -- but nothing has happened. One of the problems is that Nigerians don't know what their politicians earn.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Video - Anger grows in Nigeria's south over oil spills

Oil production in southern Nigeria is at its highest level in the last two years. But it comes with a cost.

There is growing anger over pollution that is affecting local communities, an anger now threatening stability in the region.

Video - Nigeria working on improving tax compliance

Nigeria is cracking down on tax avoidance to help rebuild its finances. But experts say more needs to be done in changing public perceptions towards tax compliance.

Suicide bomber kills in Maiduguri, Nigeria

At least eight people were killed on Monday when a female suicide bomber detonated her explosives at a mosque in northeastern Nigeria.

The head of the Borno state emergency management agency, Ahmed Satomi, said the blast injured 15 others in the London Ciki area of Maiduguri, which has been at the epicentre of Boko Haram violence since 2009.

"The mosque was being guarded by civilian JTF [joint task force militia] during prayers," he told AFP.

"Unknown to them, the girl was being pursued from another part of town by residents who were suspicious of her movement at the time.

"When she approached the mosque, they demanded that she stop to be searched but she suddenly bolted into the mosque and set off her bombs."

"There were two girls that wanted to attack the mosque but one of them got stuck in barbed wire in the ditch dug near the area. The second one escaped and began to run as our operatives there began to chase after her," said spokesman Danbatta Bello with the Civilian-JTF self-defence force.

"She rushed to the mosque and detonated the second bomb."

The mosque collapsed in the blast. Police did not immediately comment.

Two other female suicide bombers were shot and killed in Maiduguri around the same time as the mosque was attacked, Bello said.

It is the second time in a week that four female suicide bombers have sought to cause carnage in Maiduguri.

Last Monday, at least 19 people were killed and 23 others injured when four women set off their bombs in the Molai Kolemari area of the city.

Boko Haram has increasingly used girls and young women to carry out attacks. Some young women who escaped the hardline group have said girls are drugged and forced to carry out suicide missions.

Nigeria's government late last year declared that Boko Haram had been "crushed" but deadly attacks continue. The Islamic group have killed more than 20,000 people, abducted thousands of others and spilled over into neighbouring countries.

Northeastern Nigeria is part of what the United Nations has called the world's largest humanitarian crisis in more than 70 years, with the World Food Programme estimating that more than 4.5 million people in the region need emergency food assistance. Boko Haram has disrupted both agriculture and markets.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Video - Nigerian entrepreneurs help riders, passengers beat traffic safely

Nigeria's biggest city Lagos is notorious for its terrible traffic. Motorcycle taxis or Okadas in the city are an easier way to get to your destination -- but authorities recently banned them from highways because of a sharp increase in accidents. Two young entrepreneurs want to make it easier for Okada riders and passengers.

HBO to adapt book by Nigerian novelist to TV series

Nigerian-British writer Nnedi Okorafor has revealed that her 2010 fantasy novel 'Who Fears Death' has been adapted by Home Box Office (HBO) for a television series. In a tweet on the 10th of July, the writer shared this news with her fans and followers. The book won the 2011 World Fantasy Award for best novel as well as the Carl Brandon Kindred Award in 2010, for outstanding work of speculative fiction dealing with race and ethnicity because of its unique blend of Nigerian culture with science fiction.

Nnedi's works are usually laced with cultural norms- especially the ones that affect women, yet she skillfully shatters these stereotypes about Africans and women. The book 'Who Fears Death' is the story of a girl - Onyesonwu, who was conceived as a result of rape. The story takes us through her development to the point where she discovers a world full of mystical powers, where she learns that she must end the war between the two communities.

Also included in her tweet was the Executive Producer of the upcoming series. The writer stated that the prestigious George R. R. Martin will preside over the production process of the series. She wrote: "My novel WHO FEARS DEATH has been optioned by @HBO & is now in early development as a TV series with George RR Martin as executive producer. George is the author of best-selling series of fantasy books 'Game of Thrones' and is currently the Executive Producer of the HBO adaptation of his book- hit TV series Game of Thrones, and he's doing a great job with that, therefore Nnedi is in great hands".

According the author, the development has been in the works for a few years, but they just decided to come forward with it. She also revealed in another tweet that she will be overseeing the adaptation:"I am very involved. I also know George well (we met in 2014 and I stayed in touch); he's been a sort of mentor to me through all this. And all those involved know what this story is; Onyesonwu is in good hands."

America gives Nigeria $4.3 billion to tackle HIV in Nigeria

The US government support for HIV/AIDS programmes in Nigeria totalled $4.3 billion between 2014 and 2016 with more than 700,000 patients treated in 2016 alone.

Charge D Affairs U.S Mission in Nigeria, Mr David Young who disclosed this in Abuja. Young who made the call at the commissioning and official handing over of Jikoko Community Health Centre project supported by U.S. Ambassador’s small Grant Programme in Bwari Local Council Area, Abuja, said over $23 million is contributed annually to immunisation activities in Nigeria. 

The envoy said the US through the United States Agency for International Development, USAID, made annual contribution of $7.35 million to support Nigeria polio programme.” “In addition to the annual contribution the polio programme also received an additional seven million dollars at the national level in 2016 and provided technical assistance in Bauchi, Katsina and Sokoto States. 

“The U.S. Government is appreciated of our work with the National Primary Health Development Agency, the UN agencies, state governments as well as National Stop Transmission of Polio programme and GAVI alliance. “We urged them to strengthen this work to kick out polio out of Nigeria. Nigeria is the only country in Africa that is still on the endemic list of polio.” 

He said health workers are encouraged to continue to make the provision and demand for immunisation a priority, and that health of children is the future of the family, community and the country in general. The envoy said U.S. always cooperates with other partners and government to make a difference in Nigeria.

He expressed confident that the commissioning of the health centre in the community would contribute towards the goal to kick out polio. “The commissioning of the clinic was an indication that “health is one of the priority areas of U.S. development assistance in Nigeria.”

Friday, July 14, 2017

Video - New plan adopted to eradicate insurgency in Lake Chad Basin

Well, authorities say they're close to eradicating Boko Haram. Defence ministers from the Lake Chad Basin and the government of Benin have adopted a new strategy to curb the insurgency.

Cameroon military kill 97 Nigerian fishermen

Nigeria's parliament is investigating reports that 97 fishermen have been killed in the Bakassi peninsula, which the country ceded to Cameroon.

Reports say that the killings happened last week when a Cameroonian paramilitary unit was enforcing a $300 (£230) fishing levy.

Nigerian Interior Minister Abdulrahman Dambazau accused Cameroon of breaching an agreement to protect its citizens.

The Cameroonian government is yet to comment.

Cameroon took control of oil-rich Bakassi in 2008 after an International Court of Justice ruling, ending years of border skirmishes.

Survivors of the attack have been arriving back in Nigeria with injuries, reports the BBC's Naziru Mikailu in the capital, Abuja.

Nigeria's lower house of parliament resolved that it will investigate the reports in view of the 2005 Green Tea agreement between the two countries, to protect the citizens of the ceded areas from harm.

A five-year UN-backed transition period was put in place exempting the area's residents, many of them Nigerian fishermen, from paying tax.

Nigeria earlier this week summoned the Cameroonian ambassador to lodge a formal protest note.

Nigeria possibly headed to a civil war?

On August 1, 1966, after the collapse of last-ditch attempts by Nigeria's power brokers to prevent the impending civil war, Lieutenant Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu said only one thing would make the rebels cease fire: "that the Republic of Nigeria be split into its component parts; and all southerners in the North be repatriated to the South and that Northerners resident in the South be repatriated to the North".

On May 30, 1967, Oxford-educated Ojukwu declared Biafra an independent state in the southeast of the country, in an attempt to fulfil his dream for an Igbo homeland. On July 6, 1967, civil war broke out in Nigeria, which claimed more than a million lives in just three years.

Fast-forward to June 2017. Irked by renewed secessionist calls from the same Igbo ethnic group, a coalition of northern groups issued a notice, demanding "all Igbo currently residing in any part of Northern Nigeria to relocate within three months and all northerners residing in the East are advised likewise".

Although made 51 years apart, those two statements are strikingly similar. Since the first was followed by a war, there is real reason to worry that the second could prompt another.

Last week's commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Nigeria's civil war should have been an opportunity for Nigerians to remember the ills of war and to vow not to let it happen again. Instead, the voices of secession raged even louder.

Secessionist movement an indictment of past leadership
The resurrection of the clamour for secession five decades since the civil war is simply the result of serial leadership failure in Nigerian politics. When the war ended in 1970, Yakubu Gowon, then head of state, promised to "build a nation, great in justice, fair trade, and industry". But he and his successors didn't.

Although there is no evidence of efforts to specifically ignore the plight of the Igbo, generations of corrupt and selfish leaders have entered and vacated office with no real plan to rebuild the East from the ruins of war, neither have they done anything for the insurgency-ravaged North-East. They have been filling their pockets with public funds while ignoring a disenchanted youth and growing anger.

Now, the Igbo youth is ready to do anything, including sacrificing their lives, to actualise the dream of an independent Biafra. Some 150 of them already died for this causebetween August 2015 and August 2016. The series of military crackdowns on pro-Biafra activists was a grave error by the authorities as it has spawned clusters of bellicose Igbo youth who want to avenge their brothers' deaths. Anyone who has physically met secessionist leader Nnamdi Kanu's apostles, or read their viperous online comments, will admit that quite a number of them are seething with rage that can only be thawed by the highest level of tact from the government.

The absence of that kind of tact is arguably the reason for the escalation of the Biafra agitation in the last two years. After all, Kanu, the face of the secessionist movement, was little-known until October 2015 when the Muhammadu Buhari government arrested him and subsequently disobeyed court orders granting him bail.

He was eventually released in April this year, but thanks to that unlawful detention Kanu exchanged his freedom for undeserved martyrdom. Now, what should have been an intelligent campaign for self-determination has been entrusted to a man whose message is primarily driven by emotion and aggression.
'Nigeria's unity is non-negotiable'

The most important question regarding the secession of Biafra is, of course, whether Nigeria's unity is negotiable. President Buhari has said it a few times, and his vice - now acting - president, Yemi Osinbajo has reiterated it: Nigeria's unity is not negotiable. According to them, secession is not and will never be on the negotiation table.

The superficial argument behind this claim is that the Nigerian Constitution is unequivocal in its exclusion of secession when it states in Section 2(1) that "Nigeria is one indivisible and indissoluble sovereign state to be known by the name of the Federal Republic of Nigeria".

But Biafra is not a fresh secessionist movement - it is a 50-year-old idea. And, regardless of the grave shortcomings of its current proponent, a 50-year-old movement cannot be dispelled with a wave of the hand or by locking up the proponent or brandishing the Constitution. The Nigerian government must come up with an agreeable, realistic and practical solution to this problem.

In its ninth section, the same constitution provides for dialogue on the possibility of amending Nigeria's indissolubility. But for this amendment to come into force, not less than two-thirds majority of state and federal legislators must support the move. So, instead of saying an outright "no" to Biafra, Buhari and Osinbajo should remind the secessionists of what they must do: lobby the legislature. Everyone knows the success rate is negligible, if not nil, but good luck to them if they succeed.

A referendum on internal governance
Importantly and urgently, Nigeria needs a referendum. There is palpable public frustration with a governance structure that allocates the lion share of the country's earnings to the federal government while leaving states to scramble for crumbs. A referendum on the preferred system of internal governance is crucial, even though recent calls for fiscal federalism have come from politicians who are more interested in cornering the nation's wealth than redistributing it for common good.

Now is the time to take the decision to the public court. Some may criticise direct democracy as the "tyranny of the majority", but there's no other option for a Nigerian state where the tyranny of the ruling minority is monumental.

Neither history nor currency is on the side of Biafra. Only two secessionist movements have ever succeeded in Africa: Eritrea from Ethiopia after 30 years of war, and South Sudan from Sudan in 2011 after 22 years of war - the latter still as war-torn as the pre-2011 Sudan. Herein lies the lesson for Biafra agitators: Secession from Nigeria will not solve their problems unless accompanied by conscientious leadership.

Nigeria, meanwhile, must go back 50 years to draw its own lessons: These types of agitations can lead to war. If the south-easterners don't want to stay, let them go. Fragmentation is a million times better than the devastation of war.