Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Video - Nigeria's Monetary Policy Committee retains benchmark borrowing rate at 14%

Nigeria's Monetary Policy Committee has left its benchmark borrowing rate at 14%. The rate is being blamed for paralyzing businesses in Nigeria's recession-hit economy.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Video - Nigeria’s main airport to be shut for 6 weeks

Nigeria's government has announced a planned six- week closure of its main airport serving the capital city Abuja. Now, the country's society of engineers is leading a campaign to keep the airport open while repairs are ongoing. The airport acts as a hub linking Nigeria's capital to the rest of the world. Sophia Adengo has more.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Video - At least 38.2 million million youth in Nigeria are unemployed

Harnessing the demographic dividend through investments in the youth is the theme at the ongoing African union summit in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. But what are things looking like for young people across Africa? CGTN's Kelechi Emekalam met up with a young entrepreneur in Nigerian capital Abuja and filed this report.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Toronto sisters that blackmailed Nigerian billionaire miss court date in Nigeria

Two Toronto sisters accused of attempting to blackmail a Nigerian billionaire with claims he cheated on his wife have failed to show up for a court hearing, according to local media reports.

According to the website Politics Nigeria, Jyoti and Kiran Matharoo operated a website called NaijaGistLive. The news outlet alleged the sisters cyber-bullied several high-ranking men, including a billionaire named Femi Otedola, and accused them of cheating and seeing prostitutes.

Politics Nigeria said the sisters tried to blackmail Otedola by claiming they had evidence of him having an affair and recorded conversations of “sex romps” with politicians, club owners and businessmen.

The report said the sisters contacted the clients through a third party and demanded they pay “thousands of dollars or risk the release of the recordings/pictures/videos online through their website.”

In a video posted to YouTube on Dec. 29, the sisters apologized to Otedola and his family and said their intention was not to extort or hurt anyone.

On Wednesday, the website reported the sisters and their “Nigerian accomplice” Babatunde Oyebode a.k.a Baudex are facing extortion, cyberbullying and blackmail charges after a complaint to police by Otedola.

Politics Nigeria said the only defendant to appear in court Wednesday was Oyebode, who told presiding Justice E.A Ojo he had “no knowledge of their whereabouts.”

The judge reportedly issued a warrant for the two sisters and requested the case be transferred to the federal high court in Lagos, according to the news outlet.

“The absence of the ladies in court today has fueled rumors that the two sisters allegedly fled Nigeria silently last week,” Politics Nigeria stated.

“It is believed the sisters are still in possession of some digital copies of compromising pictures and videos of randy businessmen and politicians discovered on laptops and iPads seized from them by the Nigerian police.”

Global Affairs Canada has not yet responded to a request for comment but a spokeswoman said in a statement in December that consular services are being provided to Canadian citizens detained in Lagos, Nigeria. However, she said further details couldn’t be released due to privacy issues.

Global News hasn’t been able to independently confirm the allegations contained in the Politics Nigeria article.

Toronto sisters post apology video for causing Nigeria sex scandal

Shell wins case ruling against Nigeria pollution claims

Royal Dutch Shell has won a victory before London's High Court in a case brought by Nigerian farmers and fishermen who claimed their lands were polluted by the company's actions.

Shell had argued the case should be heard in Nigeria, and the court agreed.

U.K. law firm Leigh Day promised to appeal. The lawsuits were 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.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Video - Advocacy group in Nigeria fights to end traditional practice of killing twins

A rights group in Nigeria is trying to end the practice of killing twins, especially in the southern parts of the country. The tradition dates back many years, stemming from a belief that twins are evil spirits. Advocacy and education has reduced the practice, but hasn't completely ended it.

Boko Haram now using babies in suicide bomb attacks in Nigeria

Islamist terror groups in Nigeria are now using female suicide bombers with babies to avoid detection before carrying out their attacks, officials have warned.

Two women carrying babies blew themselves up in the town of Madagali on 13 January, killing themselves, the infants and four others.

They passed a security checkpoint after being mistaken for civilians because they were carrying children, the BBC reports.

Two other women were stopped at a security checkpoint and detonated their explosives.

Officials told the broadcaster the use of babies could signal a "dangerous" trend.

Islamist group Boko Haram is widely suspected of being behind the attack.

The insurgent group has used scores of women and girls in suicide bombings, prompting suspicions some of those are among the many thousands they have kidnapped over the years.

In one particularly horrific example, a female suicide bomber carrying a baby on her back was shot by soldiers at a checkpoint on 28 November, detonating her explosives and killing the woman and the baby.

On New Year's Eve, a 10-year-old girl was used in a suicide bomb attack in the north-eastern city of Maiduguri.

Boko Haram's seven-year insurgency has killed more than 20,000 people, forced 2.6 million from their homes and created a massive humanitarian crisis.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Video - Nigeria's central bank cautions financial lenders against Bitcoin

Nigeria's central bank is rallying commercial lenders against virtual markets to fight money laundering and terror financing.

Virtual or digital currency is just emerging in Nigeria. But it's feared to be gaining traction on the back of Nigeria's troubled foreign exchange markets.

Three-quarters of prisoners in Nigeria serving time without sentence

New data from Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics suggests Nigerian prisons may hold more innocents than guilty criminals. The report, covering data from 2011 to 2015, shows that 72.5% of Nigeria’s total prison population are inmates serving time while awaiting trial and without being sentenced.

The alarming figures highlight key flaws in Nigeria’s criminal justice system with proceedings often going on for years without conclusion. While lawyers often cite a large number of cases being tried as a reason for long drawn-out trials, the charged inmates on the other side of the divide often spend years waiting to get convicted or win back their freedom. In one instance, an inmate accused of murder spent 16 years in a prison in Nigeria’s southeast without being tried.

While lengthy court proceedings are an obvious problem, the figures in the NBS report also highlights a worrying culture of arbitrary arrests by Nigerian law enforcement agencies. Local police officers have been known to arrest people randomly for frivolous offenses such as “loitering”. To secure their release, family members of those arrested are expected to pay bail fees dictated by the police in an elaborate racket. In other cases, inmates land in prisons only due to the suspicion of having committed a crime, and not an actual conviction. Arrests over petty crime such as shoplifting and traffic offenses also often see people land in maximum security prisons without being charged.

In total, NBS data suggests Nigeria officially has a low incarceration rate with a total prison population of 62,260—much less than 1% of the total population. Compared to countries with populations between 100 and 350 million people, Nigeria has the lowest prison population rate per 100,000 citizens.

Minister of Petroleum urges IOCs to build refineries in Nigeria

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, has urged International Oil Companies (IOCs) to invest in building refineries in Nigeria.

Kachikwu made the call in Rome in a presentation to top Executives of ENI, an IOC, the Director of Press in the Ministry, said in a statement released in Abuja on Monday.

He urged the group to move beyond just the business of crude exploration to firmly supporting the vision of enhancing local production of petroleum products in Nigeria through the building refineries.

He ‎said the major plan of the Federal Government was to stop importation of petroleum products in the long term.

”It would be expedient that every IOC should invest in building a refinery with a chain of distributions,” Kachikwu said.

He reiterated the need for the building of refineries and power plants to drive Nigeria’s economy.

The minister said that the refineries could be built by IOCs, and within a short period of time, investment in the venture could be recouped by direct sales model.

He gave a historical background of the nation and challenges of the oil sector.

Kachikwu said that the refineries were built in the 1970s and 1980s and were currently working at sub-optimal levels and hence could not cater to local needs.

The minister said Nigeria was dependent on product importation but the ‎present administration had promised to correct this anomaly by upgrading old refineries and building new ones.

”This will increase local production capacity with an objective to reduce importation of petroleum products by 60 per cent in 2018, and by 2019 become a net exporter of petroleum products and value added petrochemicals,” he said.‎

A Memorandum of Understanding between ENI and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation was signed with ENI committing to the refurbishment of the Port Harcourt Refinery.

The company also agreed to build Phase 2 of Okpai Power Plant and to further invest in Nigeria’s Oil and Gas industry.

Kachikwu, currently in Rome, is slated to meet‎ the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Economic Development of Italy to formalise the cooperation between Oil Majors and Nigeria and meet with 10 other IOCs to further expand the partners of investments in Nigeria’s Oil and Gas sector.

Nigeria’s oil industry is facing a lot of challenges with government-owned refineries not functioning optimally and militants in the oil producing Niger Delta region destroying facilities.

In 2015, the Muhammadu Buhari administration, said it would sell off refineries which were underperforming.

Number of people killed in accidental Nigerian air strike rises to 115

The number of people mistakenly killed last week in an air attack on a camp for those who have fled conflict in north-east Nigeria has risen to 115, an official has told the BBC.

Camp residents and aid workers were among those killed when the air force bombed Rann, in Borno state, thinking it was a base of Boko Haram militants.

It was the biggest known botched attack in eight years of fighting the group.

The Nigerian army says it is engaged in a "final push" against the Islamists.

Commanders have apologised for the "accidental" bombing, which they said was because of "the fog of war".

Human Rights Watch said this did not absolve them of responsibility, and called for compensation for the victims.

A local government official from the area, Babagana Malarima, said a mistake had been made when it was earlier reported that the figure of those killed had risen to 236.

The error had been made by those in the camp settlement who had added the number of dead to the number of injured to come up with the figure, he told the BBC.

An aid worker told the BBC that the attack, in which at least two bombs were dropped, caused terror and chaos at the camp.

He said he saw dead children lying on the ground, others left as orphans and terrible injuries among survivors.

Aid workers estimated 20,000-40,000 people had been sheltering in Rann, near the border with Cameroon, after fleeing attacks by Boko Haram.

The emergency services official, who spoke to the BBC on condition of anonymity, said all those who had died at Rann had now been buried.

Those critically injured were still receiving treatment in the state capital, Maiduguri, while others were being treated locally by international aid agencies and local services.

The Red Cross has said it has distributed food to more than 25,000 people in Rann since Saturday.

It said they had received enough rice, beans, oil, salt and corn soya blend to last for five weeks.

"People in Rann were happy to receive food. They have been isolated by rains and poor quality roads since June and running very low on food supplies," said Red Cross economic security coordinator Mohammed Sheikh-Ali.

"At the beginning of January, we laid sand bags on the road for our trucks to be able to cross. We got 12 trucks full of food to Rann last week on the day of the air strike, which prevented us [from distributing]. As soon as medical evacuations were over, we organised the distribution with the help of the community."

Twenty aid workers from the Nigerian Red Cross were among the casualties in the air attack.

Monday, January 23, 2017

65 people arrested in Pro-Trump rally in Nigeria

Police in Nigeria on Sunday said they had arrested 65 people at a demonstration of support for US President Donald Trump organised by pro-independence activists in the country's south.

The rally, which took place on Friday in the southern oil hub of Port Harcourt, was organised to coincide with the billionaire businessman's inauguration as the 45th US president.

It was organised by a pro-Biafra group advocating an independent state in southeastern Nigeria and was held on the eve of massive demonstrations against Trump across the globe.

"Some suspected members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB)... staged an unlawful protest in the Port Harcourt metropolis," said Rivers State's deputy police chief Ahmed Magaji.

He said the march was not authorised and had disturbed the public order, with police using tear gas to disperse them.

"About 65 of them were arrested" on suspicion of belonging to the IPOB, and were found to be carrying the movement's flag, he said.

The IPOB is part of a wider secessionist movement that advocates an independent state of Biafra, a region in southeast Nigeria that unsuccessfully fought for independence in a brutal three-year civil war that ended in 1970.

Posting on Twitter, several pro-Biafra activists claimed police had brutally attacked the unarmed demonstrators and even killed several of them but there was no way of independently verifying the reports.

Early on in the US presidential race, IPOB threw its support behind Trump in the belief he would recognise their independence movement.

Soon after Britain voted in a referendum in June to leave the European Union, the group pushed for its own version of "Brexit" from Nigeria that it dubbed "Biafrexit".

Separatist sentiment has grown over the past 15 months since the arrest of the brother of the IPOB's leader, with activists engaging in bloody clashes with the security forces that have been condemned by human rights groups.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Satellite shows imagery of Nigerian military air strike on settlement

Nigerian authorities should conduct a prompt, thorough, and impartial investigation into the January 17, 2017 airstrikes that hit a settlement for displaced people who had fled Boko Haram, killing at least 70 people, including nine aid workers, and wounding at least 120, Human Rights Watch said today. The government, which has stated that the Nigerian air force accidentally carried out the strikes, should compensate those who were injured and the families of those killed as a result of any violation of international humanitarian law or the right to life.

Human Rights Watch reviewed satellite imagery in the town of Rann, Kala Balge Borno State, recorded on the morning after the attack and identified two distinct areas of destruction in densely populated areas on the western side of the town that are consistent with the detonation of multiple air-dropped munitions. At least 35 structures were destroyed in the attack, including shelters for displaced people.

“The Nigerian military has taken an important and rare step in accepting responsibility for this horrible attack,” said Mausi Segun, senior Nigeria researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Now it should go further by explaining how it came to attack a displacement settlement, and by compensating the wounded and relatives of those who lost their lives.”

Although there is no clearly delineated displacement camp in Rann, the town includes hundreds of tents for displaced people located among residential buildings at the two sites that were hit. The tents are easily visible from the air, making it difficult to understand how an accident of this nature could have occurred. The presence of what appears to be a large Nigerian military compound on the edge of town, 100 meters from one of the impact sites, raises further questions, as the military would have been expected to know that the area was filled with civilians and to take adequate precautions not to harm them during any operation targeting Boko Haram fighters who might have been in the area.

Even if Boko Haram fighters were present in or near the settlement at the time, the Nigerian military should have ensured all of their attacks were targeting military objectives, and that they took all feasible precautions to minimize harm to civilians, Human Rights Watch said.

The investigation should determine the causes of the attack and the military should make the necessary changes, including in its planning of operations to minimize the risk of similar attacks in the future, Human Rights Watch said.

According to the Nigeria Air Force, one of its fighter jets launched an “accidental air strike” during operations in pursuit of Boko Haram fighters. The commander of the military’s counterinsurgency operations in the northeast, Major General Lucky Irabor, told media that he ordered the mission because Boko Haram fighters were gathering in the area. Two soldiers were also wounded, and an investigation would take place, he said, but it is not clear by whom and in what time frame.

Aid groups reported earlier that the area has been inaccessible to aid agencies until recently due to fighting, and the military was in charge of delivering aid to displaced people. A firefight between the military and Boko Haram fighters in Rann on December 30, 2016 might have contributed to the apparent haste with which Major General Irabor ordered the airstrikes to deal with an alleged report of the rebel group’s gathering in the area.

Among those killed were nine people working for humanitarian organizations. The head of emergencies at Doctors Without Borders, which has worked in Nigeria since 1971, told media that the army had full control of the Rann at the time of the attack, including checking those who came in and out. The organization strongly condemned the attack, in which it said three workers of a Cameroonian company it had contracted to provide services were killed.

The Nigerian Red Cross Society said that six of its staff and volunteers providing humanitarian services to displaced people were killed and another 13 were injured.

The tragic incident is not the first military airstrike that apparently killed civilians during the fight against Boko Haram. On February 28, 2014, a Nigeria military aircraft dropped munitions on Daglun, a Borno village, killing 20 civilians, mostly older residents, according to media reports. On March 16, 2014, a similar military attack on Kayamla village, less than 10 kilometers outside Maiduguri, reportedly killed 10 civilians. Media reports quoted villagers there as saying they had told security forces about the presence of some suspected Boko Haram fighters near the village, but the airstrike came days later, after the insurgents had abandoned the area. In both attacks, the military denied knowledge of civilian casualties.

On January 16, 2017, the United Nations estimated that 2.4 million Nigerians had been displaced in their country as a result of Boko Haram’s abuses and Nigerian military operations.

Even if there is no evidence that the airstrikes were a deliberate attack on the Rann displaced persons’ settlement, which would be a war crime, the bombing, apparently not being directed at a specific military target, would be indiscriminate, therefore violating international humanitarian law. The attack would also appear to have violated the right to life under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and other international human rights laws applicable in Nigeria, including if those planning the operation did not take sufficient steps to minimize the risk to civilian lives. Nigeria has an obligation under international law to ensure transparent and independent investigations into the apparent violations, and to pay compensation to the victims and their families for the injury caused by any violation.

“Authorities should ensure effective and speedy medical treatment for the injured victims of this unfortunate incident,” Segun said. “And they should ensure prompt, adequate and effective compensation for all the victims and their families of any violations of international law.”

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Video - Nigerian Air Force accidentally bombs refugee camp - 52 dead

A Nigerian Air Force fighter jet on a mission against Boko Haram extremists mistakenly bombed a refugee camp Tuesday, killing dozens of people.

Military commander Maj.-Gen. Lucky Irabor confirmed an accidental bombardment in the northeastern town of Rann, near the border with Cameroon, saying "some" civilians were killed.

A spokesman from Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said at least 52 people were killed and 120 injured in an airstrike on a refugee camp in the country's northeast.

A Borno state government official, who was helping to coordinate the evacuation of wounded from the remote area by helicopters, had earlier said more than 100 refugees and aid workers were among the dead. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.

It was believed to be the first time Nigeria's military has admitted to making such a mistake in a region where villagers have in the past reported civilian casualties in the near-daily bombings targeting the Islamic militants.

The International Committee for the Red Cross said six staff workers with the Nigerian Red Cross were among the dead and 13 were wounded.

"They were part of a team that had brought in desperately needed food for over 25,000 displaced persons," spokesman Jason Straziuso said in a statement from Nairobi, Kenya.

Two soldiers were also wounded as well as Nigerians working for Doctors Without Borders, Irabor said, without giving a precise figure.

"This large-scale attack on vulnerable people who have already fled from extreme violence is shocking and unacceptable," said Dr. Jean-Clément Cabrol, the aid group's director of operations. "The safety of civilians must be respected."

Irabor said he ordered the mission based on information that Boko Haram insurgents were gathering, along with geographic co-ordinates. It was too early to say if a tactical error was made, he said.

The general, who is the theatre commander for counterinsurgency operations in northeast Nigeria, said the air force would not deliberately target civilians but there will be an investigation.

Some of the nearly 300 Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram in 2014 and freed last year have said three of their classmates were killed by air force bombardments, according to the freed girls' parents.

Boko Haram's seven-year-old Islamic uprising has killed more than 20,000 people and forced 2.6 million from their homes, creating the continent's worst humanitarian crisis, with the United Nations warning some 5.1 million people face starvation.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Video - Suicide attack hits Nigeria's University of Maiduguri

At least four people were killed and 15 others injured in a suicide bomb attack on a university campus in northeast Nigeria, police said.

Video - Abductors demand $300,000 for release of hostages kidnapped in Nigerian school

Gunmen who kidnapped eight people from a school in south-western Nigeria last week have issued a ransom demand. They want more than three hundred thousand dollars.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Nigeria will lead in Bitcoin adoption in Africa

Bitcoin adoption in Africa was being spearheaded by South Africa, Kenya, and Ghana, until recently. In fact, the year 2016 witnessed the upward improvement of Bitcoin penetration in the Federal Republic of Nigeria in an encouraging dimension.

In October 2016, a Nigerian based Exchange BitX announced that their wallet on Google Play Store recorded 100,000 downloads. Besides the increase in volume, the exchange also stated among other things that the price rate was also lucrative. For instance, when Bitcoin price was around $800, Nigerians were buying it at $1000.

Many analysts are confident the drift will keep growing to the extent where Nigeria may overtake countries like Kenya and Ghana. News BTC decided to find out what is driving this positive move in the West African Nation.

E. A. Afolabi, CEO of Exact Group, an Information Technology outfit in Lagos Nigeria is convinced Nigeria will lead in adoption sooner than later. “We are going to be in the lead. We are not good at starting, but we will benefit in anything until it is not existing,” Afolabi stated.

The IT expert explained that Nigerians are making use of Bitcoin to make life easier in so many spheres of life. According to him, Satoshis facilitates activities like MMM, Zarfund, Online Shopping, Forex and cross-border trading for his compatriots.

On the perception of the government on Bitcoin and other Cryptocurrencies, Afolabi is of the view that the government should overcome its inexperience. “The recent Security and Exchange Commission’s warning to Nigerians to beware of Bitcoin and other Cryptocurrencies are uncalled for, and ignorance at best.” He further stated that “The government will do all Nigeria’s an invaluable service by finding out the immense benefits of Bitcoin.”

From Afolabi’s scope, the biggest challenge facing Bitcoin in the Africa’s most populous country is the distrust of online-based activities. “Bitcoin is already in Nigeria, but the fear of online is the challenge most of the illiterates and few scholars are afraid of. Most believe that anything online is fraudulent,” he related. Meanwhile, 59.6% of the total population of the dwellers of the River Niger are Literates.

It is also worth noting that only 32.5 percent of the adult population in Nigeria have access to Bank Accounts. The situation makes Cryptocurrency extremely ideal for adoption.

To have your bank account on your smartphone is exciting for many Nigerians. And Nigeria is awash with Smartphones. Needless to say, this Sub-Sahara African country is one of the most bureaucratic countries in the world.

Refreshingly, all factors indicate that Bitcoin will thrive astonishingly well in Nigeria and the future is radiant. “In the next five years, even in the village, they will be using Bitcoin to buy from China,” Afolabi, concluded excitedly.

Suicide bomb attack kills professor and child in Nigeria

A professor at the University of Maiduguri and a child were killed and 17 people wounded on Monday in a twin suicide bombing in the city in Nigeria's northeast, officials said.

State emergency agency NEMA said two suicide bombers blew themselves up at different gates to the university in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, the former stronghold of Boko Haram Islamist militants, at around 5 a.m..

There was no claim of responsibility but the attacks bore the hallmarks of Boko Haram, which has killed 15,000 people and displaced more than 2 million during a seven-year insurgency to set up an Islamic state in Nigeria's northeast.

The group has stepped up attacks in the past few weeks as the end of the rainy season facilitates movements in the bush.

In early 2015, Boko Haram controlled an area about the size of Belgium. It has been pushed out of most of that territory over the past year by Nigeria's army and troops from neighboring countries.

Last month, President Muhammadu Buhari said Boko Haram fighters had been pushed out of the Sambisa forest, their last stronghold in the northeast.

Security analysts say the group's ability to carry out attacks in neighboring Niger, Cameroon and Chad suggests it has multiple bases.


Friday, January 13, 2017

Video - Villages in North East Nigeria rebuild by embracing solar energy

People in Nigeria's northern part of the country are gradually rebuilding their lives, after attacks by Boko Haram two years ago left their homes destroyed and infrastructure ruined. Uche Okoronkwo takes a look at a small village where residents have embraced solar energy in an effort to improve their lives.

Nigeria offers asylum to Gambian President Yahya Jammeh

Nigeria's lower house has voted to offer Gambian President Yahya Jammeh asylum if he steps down, according to Gambian MPs.

The House of Representatives approved a motion on Thursday for President Muhammadu Buhari to offer Jammeh asylum if he hands over power to Adama Barrow, who won The Gambia's December 1 elections.

The motion is not binding on the government and there was no immediate response from Buhari, who is expected to travel to Banjul on Friday for talks.

The MPs said "the clock is ticking fast" for The Gambia and there was a need to step up diplomacy, as the possibility of violence and mass displacement threatened West African stability.

They called on Jammeh to "respect the will of the people" who voted for opposition candidate Adama Barrow in the elections.

Buhari, who is leading the regional diplomatic effort, should "extend Nigeria's readiness to offer ... Jammeh safe haven in Nigeria to live securely as a way of ending the political stalemate in The Gambia", they added.

'Violence should be avoided'

Buhari's foreign minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, said on Tuesday that "violence should be avoided but nothing is ruled out" by regional bloc ECOWAS to ensure The Gambia's constitution is upheld.

Jammeh has taken legal action against the election result and said he will not step down until his complaint is heard.

That has raised the prospect of months of political deadlock because The Gambia lacks Supreme Court judges to handle the case.

Nigeria has previously given asylum to a number of African political leaders, including the Liberian rebel-turned-president Charles Taylor.

Buhari is due to travel with other West African leaders to The Gambia on Friday to try to persuade Jammeh to accept the election results, which he has rejected so far.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Video - Nigeria oil union suspends 3 day strike over job cuts at oil companies

Nigeria's National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers called off its three-day nationwide warning strike on Wednesday at a meeting with Nigeria's Minister of Labour and Employment.

The oil union had announced on Tuesday that they would begin a nationwide shutdown of gas stations, fuel depots and loading bays, over job cuts at oil companies, including local units of Chevron and Exxon Mobil.

Union officials now say that every issue raised has been addressed. Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, urged all oil companies that entered into the collective agreement to ensure its implementation.

Nigeria's oil unions have protested against job cuts by oil companies in recent weeks. They suspended a plan to strike just last week at a lubricant facility operated by Total's local unit, after reaching an agreement with the company. The minister gave the oil companies two weeks to resolve all outstanding issues.

China to invest $40b in Nigeria

China is investing additional $40 billion in Nigerian economy, its Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Wang Yi, said on Wednesday at a bilateral meeting with his Nigerian counterpart, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, in Abuja.

The Minister said China has already invested up to the tune of $45 billion in the Nigerian economy.

“Nigeria and China are strategic partners; our relations have been developing well. China has already invested or financed a total number of $22billion projects here in Nigeria, another $23billion projects are on-going.

“In addition, we are also following up another over $40billion of investments which is in the pipeline.

“Compare with the size, population and market of our two countries, our cooperation still have large potential to be deepened,” he said.

According to him, in order to achieve further development and prosperity of the two countries, we need to strengthen our political mutual trust, deep complementary between our developments.

He stressed on the need to further expand practical cooperation and deepen strategic partnership between the two countries.

He expressed confidence that his visit would be a successful one and play a dual role in further strengthening the strategic partnership between China and Nigeria.

Yi said the purpose of his visit to Nigeria was to implement the important agreements and cooperation reached between the Chinese and Nigerian presidents.

He said the visit was also to help work closely with Nigeria to ensure that the outcome of the Forum for China Africa Cooperation summit are well implemented here in Nigeria.

Onyeama had earlier commended the existing relationship between Nigeria and China noting that the relationship had been strong for many years.

“I think the level of cooperation with China is extremely high and Chinese government is investing amount of money in Nigeria and probably is going up to $60 to $80 billion and we are extremely happy for that

He said that at the last meeting in South Africa and the government of China made available the total of $60 billon for Africa and a number of countries including Nigeria.

The Minister said that he would want to key in and see how much of that could be used to assist in the various projects that we have in this country.

He explained that President Muhammadu Buhari was in China in 2016 and had a discussion with Chinese Government on various cooperation.

“We know that in the area of infrastructure which is one of the priority areas and diversification the Programme of this government from oil .

“Chinese government has been showing a lot of cooperation with us in this area especially in the area of transportation,” he said

Minister of Transport, Mr Rotimi Amaechi was part of the meeting.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Video - Activists mark 1000 days calling for swift government action in rescuing kidnapped Chibok girls

A thousand days have now elapsed since several schoolgirls were taken captive from Chibok in the North East of the Country. Activists continue a series of campaigns to push the government to effect a speedy rescue.

Mounting pressure on Nigerian government to rescue Chibok girls kidnapped by Boko Haram

Chibok, Nigeria/DAKAR (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Nigeria is facing mounting pressure to find some 200 schoolgirls abducted 1,000 days ago in Boko Haram's most infamous attack after the rescue of 24 girls raised hopes that they are alive.

For more than two years there was no sign of the girls who were kidnapped by the Islamist fighters from a school in Chibok in northeast Nigeria one night in April 2014, sparking global outrage and a celebrity-backed campaign #bringbackourgirls.

But the discovery of one of the girls with a baby last May fueled hopes for their safety, with a further two girls found in later months and a group of 21 released in October in a deal brokered by Switzerland and the International Red Cross

For parents like Rebecca Joseph the return home of the group of 21 girls at Christmas was a bitter-sweet celebration.

Her daughter, Elizabeth, is one of an estimated 195 girls still held captive by the jihadist group, which has tried to force some of them to convert to Islam and to marry their captors.

"I am happy that some of the girls are returning home even though my own daughter is not among them," Joseph told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in the town of Chibok in Borno state.

"My prayer is that my daughter and the rest of the girls will be rescued and returned to their families safe."

With last weekend marking 1,000 days since the girls were abducted, President Muhammadu Buhari said he remained committed to ensuring the abducted schoolgirls are reunited with their families "as soon as practicable".

"We are hopeful that many more will still return," said Buhari, who came to power in 2015 and replaced a government criticized for not doing enough to find the missing girls.

"The tears never dry, the ache is in our hearts," he said in a statement.


The Nigerian government said last month that it was involved in negotiations aimed at securing the release of some of the girls as the army captured a key Boko Haram camp, the militant group's last enclave in the vast Sambisa forest.

The exact number of Chibok girls still in captivity is believed to be 195 but it has been hard to pin down an exact number since the girls went missing.

Academics and security experts say it may be a huge challenge to obtain the girls' freedom given the significance of the abduction for Boko Haram, which has killed about 15,000 people in its seven-year insurgency to set up an Islamic state.

"Outside Nigeria, the Chibok girls have come to symbolize the Boko Haram conflict," said Sola Tayo, an associate fellow at the London-based think tank Chatham House.

"The global outrage generated by their captivity has added to their value to the insurgents," she added, adding that they were also significant to Buhari because he made their release a key campaign pledge before his 2015 election.

The government said in October that it had not swapped Boko Haram fighters or paid a ransom for the release of the 21 girls but several security analysts said it was implausible that the Islamist group would have let the girls go for nothing.

"To secure the release of the remaining girls would require concessions by the Nigerian government, which could reverse significant gains it has made against Boko Haram," said Ryan Cummings, director of risk management consultancy Signal Risk.

"In addition to detainees, Boko Haram may also demand supplies, weapons, vehicles and even money which they could use to recalibrate and invigorate their armed campaign against the Nigerian state."


One of the major obstacles to securing the release of all of the Chibok girls who remain in captivity is the deep divisions emerging within Boko Haram, said Freedom Onuoha, a security analyst and lecturer at the University of Nigeria in Nsukka.

The militants split last year with one faction moving away from the group's established figurehead Abubakar Shekau over his failure to adhere to guidance from Islamic State to which Boko Haram pledged allegiance in 2015.

It is unclear how many Chibok girls are held by the main faction led by Shekau, thought to be based in the Sambisa, and by the Islamic State-allied splinter group - headed by Abu Musab al-Barnawi and believed to operate in the Lake Chad area.

"It will be difficult to release most of the remaining girls as each faction will maintain a strong hold on them and would negotiate with state officials on their own terms," said Onuoha.

While the deal to free the 21 girls was seen as a huge boost for the government's assertions that it would soon bring home the others, a lack of progress since then has seen public hopes dwindle and frustrations arise, academics said.

Although Nigeria has driven Boko Haram out of most of the territory it held, its battle against the militants will not be considered over until the fate of all of the Chibok girls is made clear, said Nnamdi Obasi of the International Crisis Group.

"From various indications, it is most unlikely that all the remaining girls will come home alive, but the government owes their parents and the public the fundamental responsibility of accounting for every one of them," the Nigeria analyst said.

"In the long run, that's the only way to bring closure to this sad episode."

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

President Buhari sacks 4 heads of Nigerian aviation

The President Muhammadu Buhari led government has sacked four heads of agencies and colleges in Nigeria’s aviation industry, a government statement said.

This is contained in a statement issued by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Sabiu Zakari, on Monday in Abuja.

Zakari, in the statement, added that President Buhari has approved the sack and the appointments of new chief executive officers to run the agencies.

Those relieved of their jobs are the Managing Director of Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, NAMA, Emma Anasi; and the Director General of the Nigerian Meteorological Agency, NiMet, Anthony Anuforom.

Others are the Rector of the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, NCAT, Zaria, Samuel Caulcrick; and the Commissioner of Accident Investigation Bureau.

While Fola Akinkuotu has been named the new Managing Director of NAMA.

Mr. Akinkuotu was described in the statement as a seasoned transport pilot, flight and aircraft maintenance engineer, airline chief executive officer as well as a trained aviation industry regulator.

Also, Sani Mashi, a professor of Geography with specialty in Environmental Application of Remote Sensing will hold sway in NiMet as Director-General.

According to the statement, Mr. Mashi is currently a Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Abuja.

Abdulsalam Mohammed, a renowned civil aviation trainer and examiner with accreditation by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority and the Federal Civil Aviation Administration, is the new Rector of NCAT, Zaria.

Similarly, Akinola Olateru, described as engineer of international repute, will take over as the head of the Accident Investigation Bureau.

Mr. Olateru is a trained air accident manager and certified safety officer with aircraft maintenance engineering licenses in Nigeria, U.S. and the United Kingdom.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Video - Leader of Bring Back Our Girls campaign speaks with Al Jazeera

Sunday marks 1,000 days since the mass kidnapping of schoolgirls in Chibok in northeast Nigeria.

A total of 276 girls were taken on the night of 14 April 2014, and nearly 200 are still in captivity.

In a message to mark the 1000th day since the abduction, President Muhammadu Buhari vowed to bring back the remaining girls.

Joining us from Abuja is Aisha Yesufu, one of the leaders of Bring Back Our Girls campaign, to discuss when families can expect their daughters back.

Suspected Boko Haram suicide bombers kill three over the weekend

Two separate attacks by suspected Boko Haram suicide bombers - one by a female duo, the other by three men - have killed three people in northeast Nigeria, police said on Monday. All the attackers died.

The bombings late on Sunday in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state where the Boko Haram insurgency began, followed a bloody clash on Saturday in which five soldiers and more than 15 jihadist fighters died in neighboring Yobe state.

The violence marks a resurgence in attacks weeks after President Muhammadu Buhari said Boko Haram fighters had been pushed out of their last stronghold in the northeast where they have been trying to set up an Islamic state.

Maiduguri police said the women bombers claimed two victims there late on Sunday evening shortly after the male group had killed one person in the city. Nobody has claimed responsibility for the attacks but they bear the hallmarks of the group.

The deaths in Yobe state came in Boko Haram attack on an army base in the remote town of Buni Yadi.

The frequency of attacks had slowed down in the last few months, but security analysts say the spate of bombings in the last few weeks has coincided with the end of the rainy season, when movements in the bush are limited.

A man claiming to be Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau has appeared in a video denying Buhari's statement that the group had been pushed out of the region.

Boko Haram's seven-year-old insurgency, which is aimed at creating an Islamic state in the northeast of Africa's most populous nation, has killed about 15,000 people and displaced more than 2 million people.

In early 2015, Boko Haram controlled an area about the size of Belgium. It has been pushed out of most of that territory over the past year by Nigeria's army and troops from neighboring countries, moving to a base in the Sambisa forest, a vast former game reserve in Borno state.

Security analysts say the group's ability to carry out attacks in neighboring Niger, Cameroon and Chad suggests it has multiple bases.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Video - Interrogation of captured militants leads authorities to missing girl

Ongoing interrogation of Boko Haram suspects have bourn fruits as one of the Chibok Girls captured --has been found. The Nigerian military confirmed this on Thursday. Rakiya Abubakar and her 6-month-old baby's identity were discovered in the course of grilling of over one thousand suspects captured in the Sambisa forest. Jubilation rang through amongst parents of the missing girls upon hearing the news and renewed optimism that more good news would soon follow. In May 2016, one girl fled captivity as the government negotiated the release of 21 girls in October. Another was freed in November when the army raided their camp in the Sambisa forest. It's been nearly 3 years since 300 girls vanished from a government school in Chibok in northern Borno State-most of whom still remain in captivity.

John Mikel Obi to make move to China

Midfielder John Mikel Obi has left Chelsea to join Chinese Super League side Tianjin TEDA.

The 29-year-old Nigerian has played 372 times for Chelsea since joining in 2006 but has not featured this season.

He said it had been "an honour" to play for the Stamford Bridge club but it was time to "seek a new challenge".

Mikel has won two Premier League titles, four FA Cups and the 2012 Champions League during his time at Stamford Bridge.

"I haven't featured as much this season as I would have liked and I still have many years in the game ahead of me," Mikel wrote on Twitter in a message to Chelsea fans.

"With this in mind, I feel now is the time to seek a new challenge.

"I'm delighted to be joining Tianjin TEDA FC at a time that the Chinese Super League is really taking off, and I look forward to helping Tianjin TEDA FC continue to grow.

"To play in the Premier League is every professional player's ambition.

"But to play for Chelsea, to become part of the Chelsea family to work with some of the best managers and players in the world, has truly been an honour.

Mikel is the second Chelsea player to move to the Chinese Super League in recent weeks following Oscar's transfer to Shanghai SIPG.


Chibok girl kidnapped by Boko Haram found with baby

Soldiers interrogating captured Boko Haram suspects have found one of the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped by the extremist group nearly three years ago, along with her baby, Nigeria’s military said Thursday.

Nearly 300 girls were kidnapped by the insurgents from a government boarding school in the remote northeastern town of Chibok in April 2014, a mass abduction that shocked the world and brought Boko Haram international attention. Most of the girls remain in captivity.

In May, one girl escaped. In October, the government negotiated the release of 21 more. Another girl was freed in November in an army raid on an extremist camp in the Sambisa Forest.

Army spokesman Col. Sani Kukasheka Usman identified the latest girl to be freed as Rakiya Abubakar and said she has a 6-month-old baby. He said her identity was discovered when soldiers were interrogating some of more than 1,000 suspects detained in recent weeks of army raids on the Sambisa Forest.

The military released a photograph showing Abubakar with mournful eyes, her head covered by a white scarf, and clutching the baby wearing a white beanie cap.

Nigeria’s government announced that troops two weeks ago destroyed that last stronghold of Boko Haram, and President Muhammadu Buhari declared the extremist group was finally “crushed.”

That raised questions about the whereabouts of the other Chibok girls, believed held in the forest. Some 196 remained missing before Thursday’s discovery, though some of the freed girls have said that several in their group have died from things like malaria and snakebite.

Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau issued a video last week to contradict Buhari’s assertion that “the terrorists are on the run, and no longer have a place to hide.” Shekau declared that the war was just starting and urged his fighters to keep killing, bombing and abducting people.

Nigeria’s government has been criticized over its treatment of the freed girls, who have been sequestered in Abuja, the capital, allegedly for trauma counseling and rehabilitation.

The freed girls insisted on being taken to Chibok for Christmas, but they were kept in the home of a local legislator and prevented from attending Christmas service at their EYN Church of the Brethren, supposedly for security reasons. They were not reunited with their parents until the day after Christmas. Chibok is a small Christian enclave following a branch of the U.S.-based Brethren in mainly Muslim northern Nigeria. Many parents of the girls are translating the Bible into local languages.

More than a dozen of the parents have died since their daughters were kidnapped, relatives say from stress-related illnesses.

Nigeria’s government has said it continues to negotiate with Boko Haram for the release of all of the Chibok girls. But Chibok community leader Pogu Bitrus has told The Associated Press that more than 100 of the girls appear unwilling to leave their Boko Haram captors. He said the unwilling girls may have been radicalized or are ashamed to return home because they were forced to marry extremists and have babies.

In captivity, Boko Haram forced the girls to convert to Islam and “married” many of them to fighters. There have been unverified reports that some were carried across borders into Cameroon and Niger and Shekau had threatened to sell some of them into slavery.

Boko Haram’s seven-year Islamic uprising has killed more than 20,000 people, spread across Nigeria’s borders, forced. 2.6 million from their homes and created a massive humanitarian crisis in which the U.N. says 5.1 million people face starvation in northeast Nigeria.

Hundreds of innocent victims have died in the hands of the military, Amnesty International has charged, including babies held with suspects detained in military raids on Boko Haram camps.

Abuja airport closed for six weeks due to unsafe runway

A Nigerian official has said the airport in the capital city of Abuja will close for six weeks beginning in March to repair its “dilapidated” and “unsafe” runway.

The closure beginning on 8 March will see flights diverted to an airport in Kaduna, a city about 180 km (110 miles) to the north, with additional security provided for shuttle busses travelling along a highway that has been the scene of high-profile kidnappings.

“I was conscious of the sheer size of dilapidation of our critical infrastructure in our aviation industry and especially the most critical ones such as the runway at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja,” junior aviation minister Hadi Sirika said as he announced the closure at a meeting.

Built in 1982 with a planned 20-year life span, Sirika said the “entire structure of the runway has failed” and was “unsafe for operation.”

Helicopter services will also be available between Kaduna and Abuja

In 2015, a travel website rated the Nigeria’s Port Harcourt International Airport the worst in the world, describing it as “the dirtiest and most corrupt airport in Africa.”

Nigeria’s aviation sector took a beating last year as currency controls made it difficult for airlines to obtain sufficient funds to pay suppliers, with many curtailing and some suspending operations.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Video - Nigeria's government launches $15 monthly stipend for vulnerable groups

As part of its efforts to improve the lives of Nigerians, President Buhari's administration has started providing 15 dollar monthly stipends to some of the country's poorest and most vulnerable communities.The first round of payouts covered nine states -- including Borno, Kwara and Bauchi. Many beneficiaries have already reported receiving their stipends. Funds for another five states will follow soon. The government has also set up a Homegrown School Feeding Programme in three states, providing meals to pupils.

3 girl suicide bombers killed in Nigeria

Three girl suicide bombers targeting a bustling market in northeastern Nigeria were gunned down Wednesday, civilian and military officials said. They blamed the Boko Haram Islamic extremist group for the attempted bombing.

The civilian fighters who work alongside the army challenged the girls as they approached a village near Madagali town, local council chairman Yusuf Muhammad Gulak told The Associated Press.

The girls began running at the checkpoint and the fighters shot the girl in the lead, activating her explosives and killing her and a companion, he said. The third girl tried to flee and was gunned down, Gulak said.

Army spokesman Maj. Badare Akintoye confirmed the shootings, adding: "Our soldiers are on alert and commercial activities are going on" at the targeted market.

Soldiers and civilian fighters have stopped many suicide bombers before they can reach heavily populated targets in recent months. But two female suicide bombers killed 57 people and wounded 177, including 120 children, last month at Madagali market, 20 kilometres from the scene of Wednesday's shootings.

Boko Haram has used scores of women and girls as young as seven in suicide bombings that have killed hundreds. Some of the bombers are suspected to have been previously kidnapped.

A multinational force of troops from Nigeria and its neighbours has driven the Islamic extremists from most of the towns and villages where they had declared a caliphate to help create an Islamic state in Nigeria, a country of 170 million people divided almost equally between Muslims and Christians.

Nigeria's president declared that Boko Haram had been crushed last month, but there's unlikely to be a swift end to the suicide bombings and attacks on remote villages and army outposts.

Boko Haram's seven-year-old Islamic uprising has killed more than 20,000 people, driven 2.6 million from their homes and created a massive humanitarian crisis that the UN says has 5.1 million people facing starvation.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Video - Efforts are under way to rebuild north-eastern Nigeria

What are Nigerian authorities doing to rebuild the north-eastern part of the country after the Boko Haram insurgency? CGTN's Kelechi Emekalam sat down with Nigerian presidential spokesperson Garba Shehu for more details.

Video - Former Nigerian leaders sing for peace and goodwill in 2017

A video shared by vice president Yemi Osinbajo on his social media account showing some past leaders of Nigeria singing hymns for the deliverance of the country from its multiple challenges has been trending online.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Video - Nigeria's first digital bank issuing loans to small business

Imagine getting a loan from a bank without the usual collateral, within just 72 hours of applying. It may sound impossible -- especially in a country like Nigeria, where securing credit is a difficult process. But one start-up is making it possible for small businesses.