Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Video - Nigeria rescues 41 girls being trafficked through Mali to Europe

Authorities in Nigeria have rescued 41 girls from human trafficking. They were being smuggled through Mali to Europe. The teenagers returned to Nigeria on Monday night. Authorities say they were rescued after the Nigerian Embassy in Bamako received distress calls. Nigeria has a long history of human trafficking. Hundreds of girls are smuggled into Europe every year. Authorities say the alleged traffickers in this case have been arrested.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Video - Nigerian students say they will expel South Africans

But those talks with African Ambassadors have done little to assuage angry Nigerians. The National Association of Nigerian Students say they will begin expelling South African nationals and business from Nigeria on Tuesday.

Kidnapped German archaeologists rescued in Nigeria

Nigerian security forces have freed two German archaeologists kidnapped by gunmen at a remote dig site.

The two academics were at the German embassy in Abuja on Sunday, and were doing well considering the circumstances, according to the German foreign ministry.

Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai, the governor of northern Kaduna state, commended the security agencies for their efforts in securing the release of the Germans, a statement said. It did not say whether anyone had been arrested for the kidnapping.

Gunmen had been demanding a ransom of 60 million naira (about £150,000) for the release of Prof Peter Breunig, and his assistant, Johannes Behringer, who were abducted at gunpoint on Wednesday and walked into the bush from an archaeological dig near Janjala village in Kaduna state. Two villagers who tried to help the Germans were shot and killed by the kidnappers, the police said.

Breunig, 65, and Behringer, in his 20s, are part of a four-person team from Frankfurt’s Goethe University. The other two members, women, were not touched by the kidnappers. The Germans were collaborating with Nigeria’s national commission for museum and monuments to recover relics of the Nok culture. The early iron age people, considered the earliest ancient civilisation of the west African region that is now Nigeria, are famous for their terracotta sculptures.

Kidnappings for ransom are common in Nigeria, with ordinary residents and even schoolchildren targeted as well as foreigners. Victims are usually released unharmed after a ransom is paid.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Video - U.S. praises Nigeria's progress, pledges ongoing security support

In an effort to crush Boko Haram, the United States has pledged to continue to provide security assistance to the West African country. Thomas Waldhauser, the head of the U.S Africa Command, AFRICOM, says enormous progress has been made in the fight against the insurgency. He had been speaking at a ceremony at the National Defence College in Abuja. Waldhauserof says America will continue to offer advice and assistance to Nigeria. Over the past two years, Nigerian and regional security forces from Cameroon, Chad, and Niger have made gains in pushing Boko Haram out of the towns and villages in the north-eastern parts of the country and the broader Lake Chad Basin region. The U.S. has praised Nigeria for this progress.

Xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa prompts backlash

A series of xenophobic attacks on foreigners in South Africa have provoked an angry response in Nigeria, where protesters ransacked the offices of a South African telecoms giant Thursday.

A spokesman for South African mobile phone firm MTN said that protesters in the Nigerian capital of Abuja had “vandalized equipment, stole customer phones and iPads” and attacked MTN customers at the firm’s customer care center, Reuters reported. The MTN spokesman said that the protesters were motivated by the xenophobic violence in South Africa.

Over the past week, residential buildings occupied by African immigrants, including Nigerians, and Nigerian-owned businesses in the South African capital Pretoria have been attacked and looted by demonstrators, who accuse foreigners of taking local jobs. Protesters also burnt buildings alleged to be brothels or drug dens in a Johannesburg suburb earlier in February; the buildings were reportedly owned by Nigerians.

Nigeria and South Africa, the continent’s two largest economies, have endured rocky relations before. Xenophobic violence flares up periodically in South Africa, and Nigeria recalled its ambassador to the country in 2015 after seven people were killed in a spate of anti-immigrant attacks in Johannesburg and Durban.

Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama said Wednesday that the government had summoned South Africa’s high commissioner in the West African country to discuss the response to the attacks.

In a statement to South Africa’s parliament Thursday, the country’s interior minister, Malusi Gigaba, said that local businesses were inflaming anti-immigrant sentiment by disrespecting local employment laws. South African labor law requires that 60 percent of a company’s employees be either South African citizens or permanent residents of the country.

“[Businesses] should not fuel tensions playing locals against foreigners but should be on the side of the law,” Gigaba said. The interior minister added that more than 33,000 people were deported from South Africa during the last financial year and urged South Africans to desist from xenophobic violence.

Tensions remain high in parts of the country, however. A citizen group calling itself the Mamelodi Concerned Residents has organized an anti-immigrant march in Pretoria Friday, according to South African newspaper The Citizen. The group’s spokesman, Makgoka Lekganyane, said they were tired of jobs going to Nigerians, Pakistanis and Zimbabweans, among other foreign nationals, ahead of South Africans. Police have reportedly denied an application for the protest to go ahead, according to South Africa’s Eyewitness News.

South Africa’s unemployment rate remains high at around 26 percent and the country recorded slow economic growth of 0.2 percent in the last quarter.

Unemployment is often linked to outbreaks of xenophobic violence in South Africa. According to the 2011 census, 2.1 million foreign nationals were living in South Africa, while the U.N. Refugee Agency estimated in 2015 that a further 600,000 asylum seekers and refugees were also living in the country, according to fact-checking site Africa Check.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Video - Nigerian government urges AU to intervene after spate of attacks its citizens in South Africa

Nigeria's government is calling on the African Union to urgently intervene in the xenophobic attacks in South Africa. President Muhammadu Buhari's foreign affairs advisor maintains South African authorities aren't in control of the situation. Kelechi Emekalam has this report from Nigeria.

Video - AMCON stops several big companies from collapsing

In Nigeria, several companies ranging from banks to airlines have been saved from total collapse by the state-owned Assets Management Company -- AMCON. The latest firm AMCON has taken over is the heavily indebted Arik Air. The average life span of a Nigerian company is estimated at 10 years before they fold -- mostly due to poor management. CGTN's Kelechi Emekalam spoke to AMCON about its role in supporting Nigerian businesses at a time when the economy continues to struggle.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Video - Nigeria Central Bank to sell off $500 million to improve dollar liquidity

Nigeria's central bank will sell $500 million to help improve dollar liquidity a day after the bank effectively devalued the naira for retail currency sales. Nigeria has been running short of dollars as its oil revenues have fallen along with the price of crude. That has driven the naira to a low of 520 to the dollar on the black market, far weaker than the official inter-bank rate of 305.

Video - Nigerian Football Federation endorses Ahmad Ahmad

The Nigerian Football Federation has joined the Southern African federations in endorsing Madagascar's Ahmad Ahmad for the post of CAF President in next month's elections. African football will hold elections in Addis Ababa, with incumbent Issa Hayatou vying for an eighth term.

Vice President of Nigeria launches 60-day plan to improve business climate in Nigeria

Feb 21 Nigeria's Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has launched a 60-day action plan to improve the business climate in Africa's biggest economy struggling with recession, his office said on Tuesday.

"There are improvements which we expect to see at our ports. Improvements at our airports, improvements at the seaports, improvements in immigration visas," Osinbajo said in a statement.

Last month, President Muhammadu Buhari put Osinbajo in charge while he is on sick leave in Britain.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Video - Thousands of Nigerians homeless after massive blaze

In Nigeria, thousands of residents of a slum in Lagos are counting their losses after a fire swept through the area on Sunday. Although many homes have been burnt to the ground, no casualties have been reported yet.

Nigeria lost $100bn to Niger Delta militants

The Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, has clarified the $50-$100 billion said to have been lost to the attacks of oil and gas infrastructure by the Niger Delta militants.

In his recent monthly podcast, the minister was quoted by some media reports (not THISDAY) as saying that Nigeria lost $50-$100 billion in oil revenue at the peak of the militant attacks on oil and gas facilities in the Niger Delta, which slashed oil production from 2.2 million barrels per day to one million barrels per day last year.

But in a statement yesterday, the Technical Assistant (Media) to the minister, Uche Ozurumba Adighibe, made a clarification on the $50 – $100 billion unearned income lost to militancy, which was mentioned by the minister.

Adighibe, who quoted the minister as having said in the podcast that “as at 2016 on the average and looking at it historically that we (Nigeria) was losing $50 – $100 billion as result of the disruption,” said the amount covers a period of 10 years and not 2016 only.

On the amount lost in 2016, Adighibe pointed out that the Nigeria’s oil and gas industry lost over $7 billion to militancy from January to October 2016.

“Please note the word ‘historically’. Over the last decade spanning through various administrations, the oil industry in Nigeria has suffered critical disruptions to operations resulting in the unearned incomes amounting to $50 – $100 billion due to militancy activities and vandalism. This can be verified through the records provided by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) during the 2016 Fiscal Liquidity Assessment Committee Retreat which showed that the industry lost over $7 billion due to activities of militancy groups and oil pipeline vandals from January 2016 –October 2016,” Adighibe further clarified.

The minister’s technical assistant added that the amount mentioned as unearned income due to militancy activities as stated in the podcast covers the entire industry which includes the international oil companies (IOCs), independent producers as well the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

To tackle the scourge the minister, who spoke on “Oil Sector Militancy Challenges…Roadmap to Closure,”also unveiled a 20-point agenda aimed at instituting permanent peace in the oil-producing region.

According to him, the Niger Delta crisis, coupled with the 45 per cent drop in oil production, worsened the financial challenges of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.

Kachikwu said the crisis resulted in attacks on oil and gas facilities and the sub-optimal performance of the refineries, stressing that Nigeria was unable to meet its international obligations as a result of the militancy.

He said despite all efforts made by successive administrations to tackle the militancy in the Niger Delta, a permanent solution was never found.

The minister also stated that the present administration has also made efforts to end the crisis by launching a seven-point roadmap, engaging the oil-producing communities and sustaining the Amnesty Programme for the repentant militants.

Kachikwu added that President Buhari’s efforts to sustain the programme were being hampered by declining oil revenue, as the present administration only gets 55 per cent of the revenue that was available to previous administrations.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Video - Nigerians claim to have the best Jollof rice in west Africa

Jollof Rice is one of the most common dishes in Nigeria. It's also not alien to the west African region. It's one delicacy which caterers and chefs in Nigeria cannot afford to miss out - should they want to remain in business. CGTN's Kelechi Emekalam takes a look at the uniqueness of this delicacy to the Nigerian. They claim that they make the best jollof.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Video - Nigerians flock to refugee camps for food aid

The United Nations says around 20 million globally are in need of food assistance. World Food Programme economist Arif Husain says that even though humanitarian aid is at a record high, demand is growing faster. In Nigeria, famine has devastated communities and driven up prices. Millions are at risk of starvation, and turning to refugee camps for food assistance.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Video - Nigeria declares environmental emergency in oil-rich city

Nigeria's environmental ministry has declared an air pollution emergency in the southern city of Port Harcourt. For months the oil-rich city has been engulfed in thick black soot, thought to be coming from petrochemical plants and illegal oil refineries.

Video - President Buhari tweets, thanking Nigerians for their support

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has tweeted for the first time since he travelled to the United Kingdom for medical treatment. The contact has gone a long way to reassure Nigerians about his health. In the tweet, President Buhari thanks Nigerians for their support during his treatment. He's expressed gratitude to both Muslims and Christians in the country for their prayers and well wishes.

Video - New figures show Boko Haram killed 100,000 people in 8 years

New figures have emerged on the total number of people killed by Boko Haram during the group's eight-year insurgency. The governor of Borno State says the death toll could be as high as a-hundred thousand. The ISIL-affiliated group is already considered the deadliest in the world.

Nigeria spends $2bn annually in rice importation

Alhaji Aliko Dangote, President of Dangote Groups of Companies, says Nigerians consume over 6.5 million tonnes of rice annually, less than half of which is produced locally. Dangote stated this on Wednesday during the inauguration of the Dangote Rice Out growers Scheme in Goronyo Local Government Area of Sokoto state.

He expressed concern that the deficit arising from importation of rice cost Nigeria over $2billion per annum.

He said : ”As agriculture remains an important sector in our economy, we plan to produce 1million tonnes of high quality parboiled rice within the next three years. “This is by cultivating about 160,000 hectres of irrigable rice farmland in some selected states, thus making the commodity affordable to ordinary Nigerians. 

“Moreover, the outgrowers scheme is committed to creating significant number of jobs, increasing the incomes of small holder farmers and ensuring food security in the country. “This is by providing high quality seeds, fertiliser and agro-chemicals, as well as technical assistance on best agricultural practice to farmers.” The Project Director, Dangote Rice Ltd, Mr Robert Coleman said that the Sokoto operation was a demonstration phase meant to familiarise the farming community with the programme. 

“The phase is to familiarise the farming community through the training of extension workers and lead farmers as well as test modern technologies, ‘he said. ”In 2017, they will have 25,000 hectares to be cultivated by nearly 50,000 outgrowers, in addition to 260 jobs expected to be created by the end of the year.” Gov. Aminu Tambuwal called on the farmers to respect the agreement signed between the state and Dangote group to ensure that,” all products are directed to the real sectors of need.’’ 

The coming of Dangote to invest in the state was as a result of the government’s sustained efforts toward inviting prospective investors to the state,” he said. Earlier, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, commended President Muhammadu Buhari for diversifying the economy and urged Nigerians to pray for him.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Video - Trump cements relations with Nigeria's Buhari, S. Africa's Zuma

U.S. President Donald Trump has promised enhanced military support to Nigeria. The pledge was made during a phone call with President Muhammadu Buhari. The U.S. President also spoke to South African President Jacob Zuma about trade and security.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Video - Illegal refineries in Nigeria's Port Harcourt a health risk for locals

Oil refineries in Nigeria's southern city of Port Harcourt pose a serious threat to the environment. The city has been engulfed in black soot and residents are beginning to worry about the health consequences.

Trump promises President Buhari weapons to fight Boko Haram

U.S. President Donald Trump has promised to “cut a new deal” to sell more weapons to Nigeria to fight the extremist Boko Haram militia, a Nigerian spokesman says.

The promise came in a telephone conversation on Monday between Mr. Trump and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari – the first official conversation between Mr. Trump and a sub-Saharan African leader since he took office last month.

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“President Trump assured the Nigerian president of U.S. willingness to cut a new deal in helping Nigeria in terms of military weapons to combat terrorism,” a Nigerian presidential spokesman said after the phone call.

The planned weapons sales will be controversial. In the past, the United States has often refused to sell weapons to Nigeria because of deep concerns over human-rights abuses by the Nigerian military.

In 2014, for example, the United States blocked the sale of U.S.-made Cobra attack helicopters by Israel to Nigeria because of concerns that the Nigerian army was failing to protect civilians during military operations. The Nigerian government, furious over the blocked sale, made diplomatic protests in Washington.

Many human-rights groups have documented atrocities by the Nigerian military in its battle against Boko Haram, a radical Islamist militia. Last month, a Nigerian warplane dropped two bombs on a refugee camp in northeastern Nigeria, killing more than 100 people, mostly women and children. In other well-documented incidents, the Nigerian military killed hundreds of Shia Muslims in northern Nigeria, bombed and strafed several hundred detainees who had escaped in a jailbreak, allowed thousands of detainees to die of starvation and torture at a military prison, and was reprimanded for the use of child soldiers in a government-sponsored militia.

Congressional rules have restricted U.S. arms sales to countries such as Nigeria where the military has a poor human-rights record. But last year, there were preliminary signs that the United States might be loosening these restrictions. The two countries have been discussing the sale of U.S. attack aircraft to Nigeria since last May, although the deal has not been finalized.

In their Monday phone conversation, Mr. Trump and Mr. Buhari “discussed ways to improve co-operation in the fight against terrorism through provision of necessary equipment,” the Nigerian spokesman said.

He said Mr. Trump invited Mr. Buhari to Washington and praised the Nigerian President for “the strides being taken by the Nigerian military.” The U.S. President also lauded the release in October of 21 of the schoolgirls from Chibok who were kidnapped by Boko Haram, the spokesman said.

The phone conversation between the two leaders has sparked controversy in Nigeria, where many people have been angered by Mr. Buhari’s mysterious disappearance from the country for the past three weeks.

Mr. Buhari travelled to London last month on what was initially reported as a vacation. Later, his office acknowledged that the 74-year-old President was receiving medical treatment for an undisclosed condition, and Nigeria was consumed by rumours that he was severely ill or even dead.

When news of the Trump-Buhari conversation broke on Monday, many Nigerians said Mr. Buhari should provide as much openness to the Nigerian people as he has to Mr. Trump.

Mr. Buhari’s office said he spoke to Mr. Trump from London, but some Nigerians said they wanted to see video evidence of the call to evaluate their president’s health, especially because Nigeria has a past history of leaders concealing their illnesses. In 2010, former president Umaru Yar’Adua died after a long illness that was covered up by the government.

Shortly after speaking to the Nigerian President, Mr. Trump spoke by telephone to South African President Jacob Zuma. A statement by Mr. Zuma’s office said they discussed trade and security issues, including “the quest for peace and stability on the African continent.”

Mr. Trump has said almost nothing about his Africa strategy so far. But from questions given by his staff to the U.S. State Department, it is clear that Mr. Trump has little interest in U.S. foreign aid to Africa. Instead, he sees Africa primarily through the lens of security issues, especially the fight against Islamist radical groups. Stability and security issues dominated his phone calls with both African leaders on Monday.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Nigeria - Authorities in Nigeria recover more than $160m dollars in anti-graft drive

Nigeria's government has announced the recovery of more than $160 million dollars in stolen state funds in less than two months as part of an anti-graft drive. Government officials say the money was recovered for four people including a former head of the state oil company. The largest amount, about $136 million was stashed in a commercial bank using a fake account name. In December last year the west African nation launched a whistle-blower scheme entitling those who help find stolen assets to up to five percent of the recovered sums. Graft, particularly in the oil sector on which Nigeria relies, has taken large sums from the country's coffers. Several former government officials, including army generals, are on trial for corruption.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Video - Boko Haram reportedly battling financial crisis and internal split

Boko Haram is reportedly struggling to survive. The United Nations maintains the group is broke and facing an internal split. CGTN's Kelechi Emekalam has more on what a financial crisis could mean to the militants' survival.

Nigerian seeks ban reversal from EU for beans export

Plans are in top gear by the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS) to get the European Union EU lift its ban on exportation of beans from Nigeria to its member countries.

The Coordinating Director of the agency, Dr. Vincent Isegbe, who disclosed this at the opening of a two- day training workshop on Plant Health Inspection and Certification of Vegetables for exporters and farmers, said all hands are on deck to ensure that the EU lifts the ban before 2019.

Noting that the EU ban on Nigerian beans has severely affected the economy, Isegbe said there was a need to avoid future rejection of Nigeria’s agricultural commodities even as he pointed out that the agency is doing its best to revert the situation.

According to him, the EU has promised to reverse the ban if necessary measures were put in place before 2019.

“We have had issues in the past concerning beans where the European

Union suspended Nigeria for three years from beans export. That is not good for us because it means that all the farmers who are producing beans can no longer export the quantity that they used to export.

“All the traders in between, the warehouse people, the transporters and we, who are involved in the inspection and certification, that aspect has been broken down because they cannot generate any revenue along the value chain anymore.

“The good news is that the EU said if we can put the process in place earlier than 2019, they will reverse their decision. So that is where we are,” he said.

Isegbe, said NAQS is fully committed to ensuring that the country agriculture produce meets international standards and export quality.

He said the training is centered on vegetables because it is one of Nigeria’s most exported commodity.

According to him, because of the sensitive processes involved in the handling of vegetables, there is a need to put in place stringent inspection and certification procedures that will sustain its export especially at a time the government is placing emphasis on non-oil exports.

“Vegetables are a delicate product and because it is almost ready to eat, it needs more stringent inspection and certification procedures since most times we eat it fresh as salad. So, such ready to eat commodity will need special attention.

“Now that the revenue from oil is falling, we need to go back to our first love which is agriculture. We were doing well in that area in the 1960,s and early 70’s but in the 80’s, upward, there has been a reduction in agricultural produce for export. That is why we are emphasising that the process that will enable our commodities to be accepted internationally, we have to put it in place,” he said.

Also speaking, Zonal Coordinator, South West Zone S. A. Ikani S.A said in recent times, vegetables from Nigeria are been intercepted by the importing countries especially United States of America due to the menace of White Flies (Bemisia Tabacci).

He said the constant interception is fast becoming an embarrassment to the agency and the nation as a whole hence, the need to organise the training for farmers and exporters to be more experienced in the process involved in the production and handling of vegetables from the farm down to the port of exit.

Video - Nigerian soldiers caught on camera beating up disabled man

Two Nigerian soldiers have been arrested and charged with assault after they were filmed beating a disabled man with sticks in a busy street.

The army said the reason for the assault, in Onitsha in Anambra state on Tuesday, appeared to be because the man was wearing a camouflage shirt.

It said the soldiers had been charged "in line with our zero tolerance for acts of indiscipline".

Many Nigerians complain that soldiers are rarely punished for excesses.

Human rights groups have persistently accused Nigeria's military of abuses against civilians, especially in north-east Nigeria, where it has been fighting a long-running insurgency by militant Islamist group Boko Haram.

Wearing camouflage clothing is a sensitive issue in Nigeria because militants and criminals have often worn camouflage clothing either to carry out attacks or impersonate soldiers for other criminal purposes.

Section 110 of the Nigerian criminal code says it is an offence to unlawfully wear uniform of the armed forces or dress "having the appearance... of such uniforms".

Footage of the assault on the disabled man in Onitsha, in southern Nigeria, had been circulating on social media before the army commented.

It said the "ugly incident" was "an isolated case which is not [a] true reflection of the Nigerian army".

News of the soldiers being charged came a week after another soldier was jailed for seven years for shooting dead a civilian at a market in the city of Maiduguri, in the north-east, last year.

The soldier, who was not identified, was found guilty of manslaughter.

In court, he argued that he acted in self-defence after the man he killed, named as Umar Alkali, tried to wrestle his rifle from him. The military court rejected this argument, deciding that he had used disproportionate force.

800% over-subscription recorded by Nigerian's $1bn Eurobond

The Federal Government, yesterday, said that it had issued the $1 billion Eurobond with 800 per cent over-subscription, as foreign investors demanded for $7.8 billion, reflecting investors‘confidence in the nation’s economy.

In a statement yesterday, the Ministry of Finance said that the 15-year bond was priced at 7.875 per cent and will mature on February 16, 2032. According to the statement by Director of Information, Ministry of Finance, Salisu Dambatta:  “The notes will bear interest at a rate of 7.875 percent and will mature on February 16, 2032 with a bullet repayment of the principal. 

The republic intends to use the proceeds of the notes to fund capital expenditures in the 2016 budget. The notes represent the republic’s third Eurobond issuance, following issuances in 2011 and 2013. “The notes were approximately eight times over-subscribed with orders in excess of $7.8 billion compared to a pre-issuance target of $1 billion demonstrating strong market appetite for Nigeria. 

This is despite continued volatility in emerging and frontier markets and shows confidence by the international investment community in Nigeria’s economic reform agenda. “The offering attracted significant interest from leading global institutional investors.  

The notes will be admitted to the official list of the UK Listing Authority and available to trade on the London Stock Exchange’s regulated market. The republic will apply for the notes to be eligible for trading and listed on the Nigerian FMDQ OTC Securities Exchange and the Nigerian Stock Exchange. “The pricing was determined following a roadshow led by Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, the Minister of Finance, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Mr Godwin Emefiele, Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Dr. Abraham Nwankwo, Director-General of the Debt Management Office, DMO, and Mr Ben Akabueze, Director -General of the Budget Office, to key global financial centres.”

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Video - Nigerian designer creates cool sneakers for big feet

With a love for shoes and the goal to create a manufacturing sector for quality footwear in Nigeria, entrepreneur Babajide Ipaye created Keexs - an Africa-inspired brand with a social brief. Take a look.

Boko Haram is broke according to United Nations

The destructive Boko Haram group is currently plagued by financial difficulties, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, has said.

According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Feltman stated this Tuesday while briefing the Security Council on the UN Secretary-General’s Fourth Report on the threat the group poses to international peace and security efforts to “check and roll it back”.

The UN envoy also revealed that Boko Haram was under intense military pressure, but warned against undermining its capacity to launch fatal attacks.

“ISIL-affiliate Boko Haram is attempting to spread its influence and commit terrorist acts beyond Nigeria.

“And Boko Haram remains a serious threat, with several thousand fighters at its disposal.

“It is, however, plagued by financial difficulties and an internal power struggle, and has split in two factions,” Feltman said.

While the previous reports on the subject had focused on South East Asia, Yemen and East Africa, Libya and Afghanistan, the fourth report focused on Europe, North Africa and West Africa.

It said ISIL had conducted a range of attacks in Europe since declaring in 2014 its intent to target the region.

Some of these attacks were directed and facilitated by ISIL personnel, while others were enabled by ISIL providing guidance or assistance or were inspired through its propaganda, it said.

The report stated that while the military offensive in Libya has dislodged ISIL from its stronghold Sirte, the group’s threat to Libya and neighbouring countries persists.

“Its fighters, estimated to range from several hundred to 3,000, have moved to other parts of the country.

“ISIL has increased its presence in West Africa and the Maghreb, though the group does not control significant amounts of territory in the region.

“The reported pledge of loyalty to ISIL by a splinter faction of Al-Mourabitoun led by Lehbib Ould Ali may elevate the level of the threat.”

Following the increased military pressure, Feltman said ISIL was now on the defensive militarily in several regions, but was also adapting to military pressure by resorting to covert communications such as the ‘dark web’.

“Although its income and the territory under its control are shrinking, ISIL still appears to have sufficient funds to continue fighting,” he warned.

Feltman noted that ISIL relies mainly on income from extortion and hydrocarbon exploitation, even though resources from the latter are on the decline.

According to him, UN member states are concerned that ISIL will try to expand other sources of income, such as kidnapping for ransom, and increase its reliance on donations.

“ISIL is adapting in several ways to military pressure, resorting to increasingly covert communication and recruitment methods, including by using the ‘dark web,’ encryption and messengers,” he warned.

The report also focused on some some of the measures taken by member states and the UN, stressing the need to develop sustained and coordinated responses to the grave threat posed by ISIL and associated groups and entities.

Feltman said that there were 19 universal counter-terrorism conventions and protocols, as well as related regional instruments on international terrorism, and relevant UN General Assembly and Security Council resolutions.

“But we need to do more, as member states continue to face significant challenges to ensure effective international cooperation,” he said.

He warned that foreign terrorist fighters leaving the conflict could pose a grave risk to their homeland or to the countries they are travelling to or transiting through, such as Iraq and Syria’s neighbours, as well as countries in the Maghreb.

“Ultimately, it is the spread and consolidation of peace, security, development and human rights that will most effectively deprive terrorism of the oxygen it needs to survive,” he concluded.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Video - Nigeria's All Share index stands at 4.5% in the red, in the year to Feb 3rd

On paper, Nigeria is an investors dream, with vast tracts of arable land, strong and growing demand for processed agricultural goods, a fast-growing population, and many others. But the reality, for many investors is very different, with the current exchange rate policy a huge turn off, and that's just one factor. Billions of dollars in loans from the African Development Bank, and the World Bank have been withheld, since by late January, Nigeria had not submitted an economic recovery plan. As Aly Khan Satchu, CEO at Rich Management, without a plan, and a flexible exchange rate, Nigeria is a place to avoid.

Nigeria aims to stop importing fuel by 2019

Nigeria will stop importing refined petroleum products by 2019, Ibe Kachikwu, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, said on Tuesday in Abuja.

Mr. Kachikwu said this at a public hearing on the review of petroleum pricing template for petrol organised by the House of Representatives.

He said that within two years, the Federal Government revived refineries that were non-functional to contribute about eight million out of over 20 million litres of petrol consumed in the country daily.

He explained that the Federal Government initiated a model which attracted foreign investors to partner with the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to repair the country’s refineries within the two-year period.

“This has consistently served as a target for this government so that by December 2018, NNPC must be able to deliver on some of the terms given them, one of which is to reduce petroleum importation by 60 per cent.

“Cognisant of the fact that Dangote is building one refinery, we expect to have an excess situation,’’ he said.

The minister said that Nigeria must also have the capacity to stop exporting crude oil.

According to him, selling crude oil is not different from selling agricultural produce in an unprocessed manner.

“The world is leaving that, every member of OPEC is leaving that because the pricing, volume and market challenges is now shifting from selling crude to selling refined petroleum products.

“That is what this country must do and there is a template we are working on.”

He said the ministry intended to create an enabling environment that would promote local refining of crude oil.

“The issue is not giving licences to illegality, the issue is how do we ensure that we create an investment environment that pulls individuals from illegal creek activities to legal business activities.

“We are looking at modular refineries, about 60 licences were given out just before this government came in and none of that was utilised because it requires a lot of money, land and crude security.

“But now we are going out to identify refineries, get individuals who can build refineries on the same platforms where our refineries are and identify some key specific modular refineries backed up by foreign investments working with state governments.

“Hopefully this will address the restiveness you see in the Niger Delta,’’ the minister said.

On the possibility of reducing the fuel pump price, Mr. Kachikwu said there was no padding in the petroleum pricing template for petrol currently sold at N145 per litre.

According to him, 71 per cent of the cost is for the production and freight, 18 per cent balance is covered by depot charges and retailers margin.

“In other words the storage tanks, the amount you get by verge of operating a filling station takes another 18 per cent, the output of those is already taking you to roughly about 90 per cent.

“The transportation is less than 10 per cent; we probably can do better, the templating is an insignificant 1 per cent or 2 per cent but that’s not where the problem is.

“The problem is with foreign exchange rate.

“There are two key elements in the template, how much you buy it is internationally fixed, it is not a Nigerian issue the cost of foreign exchange is a monetary policy issue.

“So at the time we did the template the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) monetary policy was N245, that was the basis upon which we calculated the pricing, today N305 is the exchange rate.

“And what we have tried to do is to ensure that anybody who sells us foreign exchange follows basically the instructions of the CBN in terms of the amount,’’ he said. (NAN)

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Video - Nigerian banks under pressure as naira is forecast to lose more value

In Nigeria, rising non-performing loans and an imminent fall in the naira's value have put banks in a precarious position. They need to raise fresh capital amid a distressed economy. Checks show that the Capital Adequacy Ratio of a number of mid- and large-tier banks is at the threshold stipulated by the Central Bank of Nigeria. This means that in the absence of additional capital, a slight depletion in capital will force a number of the banks to fall below the minimum measures prescribed. This comes amid predictions by economic and financial experts that the naira will hit between 350 and 400 to the U.S. dollar this year, compared with the current rate of 305.

Ban extended by FIFA on top Nigerian officials

World football’s governing body FIFA on Tuesday said it had extended a ban on five officials who have been involved in a leadership battle for control of the game in Nigeria.

FIFA said its disciplinary committee had “decided to extend the five-year ban from taking part in any kind of football-related activity” on Chris Giwa and four others.

The ban would apply worldwide, it said in a statement on its website.

Giwa, the former owner of Giwa FC in the central city of Jos, has insisted since August 2014 that he was elected as the rightful president of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).

But the result of the ballot was disputed and prompted FIFA to threaten to ban Nigeria from international competition unless the election was re-run.

Amaju Pinnick was duly elected as NFF boss but Giwa has since dragged the federation to court to challenge its legitimacy.

In May last year the NFF banned him and his supporters for impersonation and breaching FIFA rules by taking football matters to a civil court.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) also confirmed the ban.

Arsenal Football Club to partner with MTN Nigeria

MTN has become the official Nigerian mobile telecommunications partner for English top-tier soccer team Arsenal.

Fans of the Premier League club in Nigeria will have access to a range of exclusive benefits, while the telecommunications company will provide exclusive content to its subscribers, including match highlights, clubs news, and interviews. In addition, MTN and Arsenal will partner on a series of promotional and marketing activities, and specialist coaching sessions in the west African country.

"This partnership with MTN will really help us engage with these passionate fans on a regular and personal basis," said Vinai Venkatesham, Arsenal's chief commercial officer. "We are expecting MTN's Arsenal exclusive content to be very popular among our supporters, as well as followers of football generally."

MTN's consumer marketing general manager, Richard Iweanoge, added: "We are excited to announce our partnership with Arsenal and look forward to engaging with sports enthusiasts beyond the current traditional broadcast of matches. Not only this but also digitally with access to exclusive contents that will be delivered via our network."

Arsenal have long enjoyed significant support within Africa's most populous nation. Nigeria currently provides the club's largest website traffic outside of the UK and the team's second highest digital members.

Monday, February 6, 2017

President Muhammadu Buhari extends medical leave in the Uk

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari has asked the parliament to extend his medical leave in the UK, amid concerns that his health may be worse than officials are publicly saying.

The 74-year-old leader, who has been out of the country for two weeks, was expected to return to Abuja on Sunday.

An official statement said he had been advised by doctors to await the results of a series of tests.

However, it did not say how much extra time would be needed.

There was also no mention of what the medical checks were for.

Analysts say that Mr Buhari's extended absence could further erode confidence in his administration which is already under pressure due to a weak economy and the conflict with Boko Haram Islamist militants in the north-east of the country.

The country is currently suffering from its worst economic crisis in years, following a sharp in the price of oil, its major export.

Businesses and investors complain that the government's handling of the currency exchange rate has made a bad situation even worse, and there have been demonstrations against the lack of jobs and high inflation.

Vice-president Yemi Osinbajo is taking on presidential responsibilities while the president is abroad.

'Medical tourism'

It is the second time in less than a year that Mr Buhari has sought medical assistance overseas. Last June, he spent nearly two weeks, again in London, for treatment for an ear infection.

The trip to the UK appears to roll back on the commitment to tighten up on government officials seeking medical attention abroad.

Speaking on the president's behalf at last year's Nigeria Medical Association General Conference (NMA) in Sokoto, Health Minister Isaac ‎Adewole said the Buhari administration would not encourage spending Nigeria's hard earned resources on any government official seeking medical care abroad, especially when there was evidence of expertise in Nigeria.

The president has been heavily criticised for seeming to renege on his promise to restrict "medical tourism".

After the first visit to London, leading Nigerian doctor Osahon Enabulele, vice-president of the Commonwealth Medical Association, said it was a "national shame" that Mr Buhari went to the UK for treatment when Nigeria had more than 250 ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialists, as well as a National Ear Centre.

He said also that Mr Buhari should lead by example in using Nigerian doctors and facilities, and ensure government officials do not go abroad on "frivolous" medical trips.

In the past, President Buhari has said that Nigeria loses about $1bn a year to medical tourism.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Video - Nigeria orders commercial vehicles be fitted with speed monitors

In Nigeria, the road safety body is mandating all commercial vehicles be fitted with a speed governing device. The country boasts some of the more modernized roads in Africa, but also registers some of the highest numbers of road-related deaths.

Gunmen kill UN members in Nigeria

Gunmen have attacked a United Nations monitoring team at the Nigeria-Cameroon border, killing five people.

Three Nigerians were among those killed, a UN statement said Wednesday.

“According to preliminary reports, at around 14:00 hours, yesterday (Tuesday), an unknown armed group attacked a UN Technical Monitoring Team, killing five individuals – a UN independent contractor, three Nigerians nationals and one Cameroonian national – and injuring several others,” the UN envoy for West Africa and the Sahel, Mohamed Chambas, said in a statement.

“The team was conducting a field mission in the vicinity of Hosere Jongbi, near Kontcha, Cameroon, about 700 kilometres north of the capital Yaoundé, as part of the Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission mandate,” he said.

The UN “strongly condemned” the attack and called on Nigeria and Cameroon to take swift action to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Taraba State Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Silas Sanga, announced that one of those killed was the Assistant Surveyor-General of the state, Zakari Bakari.

He said the deceased included a Kenyan and another Nigerian from Jigawa.

Mr. Sanga said Mr. Bakari together alongside a UN official and some staff of National Boundary Commission were killed in Koncha village in Cameroun, according to the News Agency of Nigeria.

He said the deceased were killed on Tuesday while in the process of demarcating and delineating the Nigeria-Cameroon border in line with the judgement of the International Court of Justice.

He said the deceased entered Cameroun through Toungo Local Government Area of Adamawa to conduct the exercise.

Mr. Sanga added that the deceased were members of International Committee set up by the UN to conduct the exercise.

“The Cameroonian authorities have released their corpses and the corpses have just arrived Adamawa as I am talking to you,” Mr. Sanga told NAN.

The spokesman of Adamawa Police Command, Othman Abubakar, who confirmed the killing, said he had not received full details.

The UN offered his condolences to the families of those killed in the attack and wished a speedy recovery to those injured.

The Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission was established by the UN Secretary-General at the request of Presidents of Cameroon and Nigeria in 2002, to settle border disputes between the two West African neighbours.

The Mixed Commission’s mandate includes demarcation of the land boundary and delimitation of the maritime boundary between the two countries.

It also includes the withdrawal of troops and transfer of authority in the Lake Chad area, along the land boundary and in the Bakassi Peninsula.

Addressing the situation of populations affected by the demarcation activities and development of recommendations on confidence-building measures aiming at promoting peaceful cross-border cooperation, is also one of the mandates of the commission.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Nigerian soldier given 7 years jail sentence for killing unarmed civilian

The Nigeria Army general court martial sitting in Maiduguri, Borno State, on Wednesday sentenced a soldier to seven years in prison for shooting and killing an unarmed civilian two years ago.

The convicted soldier, Hassan Adamu, a lance corporal, had told the court that he shot the deceased on December 23, 2015 in self defence.

He said the victim attempted to disarm him while he was on guard duty at the popular Monday market, Maiduguri.

He narrated that the deceased came from nowhere screaming Allahu Akbar, and running towards his duty post. The jailed soldier said he was able to dislodge the attacker whom he said continued to hold on to the nozzle of his rifle. He said he had to shoot even though other soldiers came to back him up.

But the testimonies of various non-military prosecution witnesses at the court martial were in conflict with that of the soldier.

Most of them said the shooting was unprovoked, even though some said they actually heard the victim shouting Allahu Akbar in the manner most Boko Haram terrorists do before carrying out attacks.

The court said the convicted soldier could have exercised more restraint in overpowering the victim who was found to be unarmed.

Besides, the court said, the action of the soldier, though carried out while on lawful duty, was against relevant laws of the Nigeria Armed Forces.

The court martial also jailed a private soldier, Egbechi Oze, for 14 months for absconding from his duty post for about 270 days, while taking refuge somewhere in southeast Nigeria.

The soldier was counted among those missing when Boko Haram attacked a military base in Gwoza. The soldier, according to the court, continued to enjoy his emoluments while staying away from his duty post for nearly one year.

He was also charged for not accounting for his rifle and cache of ammunitions he signed to be in his possession during the attack on Gwoza.

He was however acquitted for the missing rifle and ammunition on the grounds that he lost possession of them when he was abducted by Boko Haram insurgents before soldiers attacked the place.

The court explained that a soldier that is jailed by the court marshal, stands dismissed as such soldier cannot be reabsorbed into the Nigeria Army.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Video - Readers, writers pay tribute to Nigerian author who died Wednesday aged 72

Readers and writers from across the continent have been paying tribute to Nigerian author Buchi Emecheta, who died at the age of 72. Her books covered themes that championed the rights of girls and women, although she fiercely rejected being described as a feminist. They even became part of the national school curriculum in many African countries.