Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Video - Young soprano promotes love for opera in Nigeria



Nigeria is known widely for its Afrobeat stars. But one young soprano hopes to make opera the country's next musical sensation. Let's take a listen.

Video - Nigeria appeals to global community to help tackle graft



The Nigerian government has called on the international community to help repatriate the country's stolen assets. Nigeria has signed several treaties with nations still holding assets belonging to the West African country. The call was made during the unveiling of an anti-corruption project by humanitarian organization ActionAid in Abuja. The initiative aims to include citizens in the government's drive to rid the country of corruption.

Video - FIFA sanctions Nigeria for fielding ineligible playear



The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has been sanctioned for fielding an ineligible player in the match between Algeria and Nigeria on November 10, 2017. In addition, Nigeria is to pay a fine of 6,000 Swiss Francs (about N2.2million)

FIFA's Disciplinary Committee yesterday awarded three points and three goals from the November 10 last Group B World Cup 2018 qualifier in Constantine to Algeria. Incidentally, Nigeria only lost one point as the match ended 1-1. Nigeria's remaining 13 points ensured Super Eagles have nothing to fret about as winners of the group while Algeria moved from two to four points.

The world football ruling body insisted that Abdullahi Shehu was ineligible to play Nigeria's last World Cup game away to Algeria on November 10, 2017.

Shehu was first booked in Nigeria's first round qualifier against Swaziland in 2015 before another card in the game against Zambia. The two caution (yellow) cards made it mandatory for the Nigerian defender to miss one game.

"The sanction relates to the player Abdullahi Shehu failing to serve the automatic one-match suspension imposed on him as a result of receiving a caution in two separate matches of the same competition," observed FIFA.


Traditionally, yellow cards issued in previous rounds of the qualifying race are cancelled going forward, but the principle did not apply for the latest series.

However, in a swift reaction to the sanction from FIFA, a miffed NFF President, Amaju Pinnick directed that an internal inquiry be instituted immediately and persons found culpable be dealt with.

"We accept the decision of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee to fine the NFF and award the match to Algeria.

"However, this is a grave error and somebody must be punished. We apologise to Nigerians for this and assure that this will not in any way derail or even distract us in our well-laid plan to ensure that the Super Eagles have a great outing in Russia.

"At the same time, I want to assure that persons responsible for this slip would not be given just a slap on the wrist. We are actually looking at a re-organisation of the Technical Department. The Technical Committee will henceforth play serious superintending role on all details, no matter how minute, in technical matters.

"It is important that all committees and departments at the NFF should move at the same pace as the Executive Committee," Pinnick concluded.

FIFA had hinted the NFF about the disciplinary proceedings, following the use of Abdullahi Shehu in the match against Zambia in Uyo on October 7.

Pleas from the federation that the technical officer (at the NFF) whom the FIFA email (suspending Shehu) was directed to was hospitalised at that period with a serious heart problem and so was not on emails and couldn't have seen it was rejected by the men in Zurich.

Two seasons ago, Real Madrid was thrown out of the Copa Del Rey and fined for fielding an ineligible player.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Video - Nigeria hopes to get $500 million in stolen assets back from the U.S.



Nigeria is a little closer to getting back 5-hundred-millions dollars stashed in the United States. A top Nigerian asset recovery official has told CGTN she's very optimistic. But that's only a drop in the pail. It's believed former Nigerian president Sani Abacha and his government stashed away over four billion dollars.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Video - Nigeria's Non-Academic Staff Union calls for higher pay, improved working conditions



Members of Nigeria's Non-Academic Staff Union -- NASU -- have gone on strike. Union leaders argue that the government must do more to improve working conditions and salaries at the 60 state universities across the country.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Video - Lagos festival showcases locally produced alcohol brands




At a festival in Lagos, Nigeria recently showcased more than 90 locally produced types of liquor from wine and liqueurs to traditional mixes. It's part of the country's efforts to penetrate its huge beverage market, which is currently dominated by imported brands.

Video - Hundreds more Nigerians flown home from Libya



The process of deporting migrants from Libya continues.Four hundred and one Nigerian migrants have been flown back home from Libya. They are the latest Nigerian returnees from Libya - where they had been in various detention camps for months.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Video - Nigerians demand repatriation of hundreds trapped in Libya



To Nigeria and since a video emerged of an alleged slave market in Libya where African migrants are sold, there have been growing protests across the country over the issue. There have been protests in both Abuja and Lagos demanding action from the government and a speedy repatriation of Nigerians trapped in Libya.

Switzerland to return $320m of Abacha loot to Nigeria

The Swiss government has announced that it will return $320m (£240m) of the money allegedly stolen by Nigeria's late military ruler Sani Abacha.

The money was frozen in 2014 by a Swiss court after a legal procedure against his son, Abba Abacha.

Originally deposited in Luxembourg, it is a fraction of the billions of dollars allegedly looted during his rule from 1993 to 1998.

Recovering the "Abacha loot" has been a major priority for Nigeria.

President Muhammadu Buhari made the recovery of stolen assets a major part of his 2015 election campaign and this will be the largest yet.

Although an agreement to repatriate the money was signed in March, the Nigerian Ministry of Justice, the World Bank and Switzerland have been grappling with legal complications surrounding the return of the money, says the BBC's Stephanie Hegarty in Abuja.

However an agreement setting out how the money would be repaid was signed on Monday by the three parties at the Global Forum on Asset Recovery GFAR in Washington, which means the funds will finally be sent back to Nigeria.

How much 'Abacha loot' is outstanding?

The Swiss government has paid $700m of the "Abacha loot" to the Nigerian government in the last 10 years and the outstanding $320m is the last of the money on Swiss soil and will be remitted in the next two to three years, ambassador Roberto Balzaretti, head of the Swiss delegation to GFAR told BBC's Gbolahan Macjob in a telephone interview.

"The money will be transferred to the Bank for International Settlements in Basel into the Nigerian government account," he said.

"It will be used to finance projects that will strengthen social security for the poorest sections of the Nigerian population."
What are the conditions of the agreement?

The money will be paid in instalments and in small amounts, specifically to finance the National Social Safety Net projects, which would be agreed with the Nigerian government under the supervision of the World Bank with regular audits.

If the first instalment is not properly accounted for, subsequent payment will be halted. This is to prevent the funds from being stolen again, Mr Balzaretti said.

"It is the first time we are having this sort of trilateral agreement and we feel confident that it will work, plus we signed it in the spirit of trust that the money will be put to good use," he said.

Switzerland said the agreement was in line with its policy on returning illegally acquired assets and would set a good example for future cases, according to a statement from the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.

"The fight against corruption is one of Switzerland's priorities" Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter said, adding that the move should "strengthen social security for the poorest Nigerians", AFP reports.

General leading fight against Boko Haram in Nigeria removed

The Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, Attahiru Ibrahim, has been removed from that position.

Mr. Ibrahim’s redeployment comes three days after Boko Haram insurgents carried out one of the deadliest attacks on Biu town in Borno where at least 18 people were killed and 52 others seriously injured.

Mr. Ibrahim, a major general, took over the command of the ongoing counterinsurgency operations in the North-east in May 2017. The former occupant of that position was Lucky Irabor who was redeployed to coordinate the Multi-National Joint Task Force, MNJTF.

Boko Haram attacks appear to have increased since Mr. Ibrahim assumed duties with scores of suicide bombings, mostly by teenage girls, occurring between May and December.

The Chief of Army staff, Tukur Buratai, apparently unimpressed with the way the operation was going, had in August issued a rare ultimatum of ‘40 days’ for the theatre commander to arrest the Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, and put an end to the incessant Boko Haram attacks. Neither was achieved.

The insurgents continued to stage daring attacks including on military formations.

Though a large number of Boko Haram hideouts were raided and many terrorists including kingpins reportedly killed by soldiers during the period, well over 50 soldiers including officers were killed between May and now.

Some of the most recent cases were the ambush in Magumeri that caused the death of about 19 soldiers and kidnap of some oil explorers.

The military also suffered a major loss of some 15 soldiers including a commander in November when Boko Haram insurgents attacked troops’ location in Sassawa village near the Yobe State capital, Damaturu.

Also in November, Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, witnessed one of the worst suicide bombings in recent times when four female suicide bombers attacked Muna Gari, a suburb of the city, killing 14 persons.

About 45 persons were also killed and 47 critically injured in November after a suicide bombers detonated their explosives in a mosque in Yola, Adamawa State.

Another suicide bombing was witnessed on December 2 when two teenage suicide bombers attacked Biu market killing at least 18 persons and injuring 52 others.

About two weeks ago, the Chief of Defence Staff, Gabriel Olonisakin, paid a sudden visit to the Command and Control Centre in Maiduguri. Mr. Ibrahim had a closed door session with the defence chief. No reason was given for the CDS’ visit without other service chiefs.

Mr. Ibrahim has now been replaced by Rogers Nicholas, also a major general.

The new Theatre Commander was, until his appointment, the Chief of Logistics at Army headquarters in Abuja. Before that, he was Commander of the Special Security Task Force in Jos as well as Chief of Civil Military Affairs at Army headquarters.

Mr. Ibrahim is believed to have been redeployed to the Army headquarters as the Deputy Chief of Policy and Plans.

Although the army has not officially announced the new deployments to Nigerians, the military radio in Borno has already made the announcements.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

US, UK issue travel advisories against Abuja, Nigeria



The Governments of both Britain and the United States of America have issued advisories to their citizens residing in or planning to visit the Nigerian capital of Abuja. This was inspired by the information that terrorists are threatening to carry out attacks in the city during the festive season of Christmas and New Year. Both countries are advising their citizens to limit movements around the city. The U.S. Government in particular warned its citizens not to travel to Northern State like Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa and Yobe till the end of the year. The Nigerian government has however said it's taken every security measure to forestall any planned attack.

Fuel scarcity hits Nigeria again

In a bid to salvage the fuel supply and distribution challenges witnessed in some parts of the country due to panic buying from motorists, the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Maikanti Baru, on Tuesday cut short his trip to London.

Mr. Baru, who was billed to receive the Forbes Oil & Gas Man of the Year Award 2017 in the British Capital on Tuesday, flew back home to attend to what he described as a “matter of urgent national importance.”

Speaking on the development shortly before his departure back to the country, Mr. Baru called on Nigerians to stop panic buying as the Corporation was doing everything within its reach to address the situation.

“For the umpteenth time, I wish to call on all Nigerians to stop panic buying. We have said times without number that NNPC has sufficient products to cater for the needs of all consumers,” Mr. Baru said.

Before leaving for London, the GMD had directed that more truckload of petroleum products be dispatched to various parts of the country to cushion the effects of excessive demand caused by panic buying.

Earlier on Monday, NNPC informed Nigerians that there was no plan whatsoever to increase the prices of petroleum products both at the ex-depot level and pump price ahead of the forthcoming yuletide.

The NNPC in a release said that the ex-depot petrol price of N133.38 per litre and the pump price of N143/N145 per litre have not changed noting that the Corporation has enough stock of fuel to ensure seamless supply and distribution of products across the country.

While assuring that the Corporation has the full commitment of all downstream stakeholders including petroleum marketers and industry unions to cooperate in achieving zero fuel scarcity this season and beyond, the NNPC enjoined motorists and other users of petroleum products to disregard trending rumours of an impending fuel price hike as reported in some news platforms.

The Corporation also noted that its downstream subsidiary companies namely the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC) and NNPC Retail Limited are fully geared up to ensure that motorists enjoy uninterrupted access to petrol throughout the nation during the yuletide period and beyond.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Video - Nigerian fans wary of their Group D opponents especially Argentina



Nigeria will be facing a familiar foe in the group stages of the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The Super Eagles have been paired against Argentina for the fifth time in its six World Cup appearances. Other teams in the group are Croatia and Iceland and indeed they are no pushovers. CGTN's Deji Badmus has been weighing the reactions of football fans on the streets of Lagos.

Nigerian narrates how he became a slave in Libya

The Edo State indigene, whose emotion-laden interview with CNN’s Nima Elbagir in a Libyan deportation camp, was viewed by millions worldwide, shared his life-experiences in T.B. Joshua’s church on Sunday.

The young barber explained that his father died when he was just 11, adding that he struggled to sponsor himself through school along with his five siblings.

“When I was cutting the hair of one of my customer’s, he advised me to go to Europe where he promised I could earn a lot of money,” Mr. Imasuen recounted.

“I asked the man how much it would cost me. He said N350,000 but I said I only had N140,000 with me,” he said.

Mr. Imasuen had been determinedly saving N10,000 monthly for over one year.

The man promised to ‘help’, not knowing that Mr. Imasuen was naively about to use his own hard-earned cash to sell himself into slavery.

Travelling by road on a tortuous journey through Niger, the young Nigerian explained how one of the vehicles in his convoy had a “terrible accident” in the Sahara Desert, killing 30 people instantly.

“Upon arriving in Libya, the driver said he had not been paid his money and we were sold into the slave trade in Sabha.”

Mr. Imasuen said he and ten other Nigerians were ‘sold’ and then “locked up in one small room.”

More than 200 slaves were kept inside that inhumane cell.

“They started beating me to call my mother to send money. That was when my mother learned I was not in Nigeria – because I did not tell her before I left,” he admitted.

The ransom they demanded – N200,000 – was simply too much for Mr. Imasuen’s poverty-stricken mother to raise.

“For months, I did not hear from her. They kept on beating me everyday and I fell sick. If I went to the toilet, I was shitting blood.”

Mr. Imasuen said he was beaten three times daily for eight gruelling months. That was his fate as a male.

For the ladies sold into slavery, “they would send them out to do prostitution before selling them to another person; I know of a girl there who was sold three times.”

According to him, most of the enslaved females fell pregnant “without even knowing the father of the child.”

When a picture of Mr. Imasuen’s emaciated condition was circulated in his local community, they managed to come together to raise the money to secure his freedom in March 2017.

After gaining his freedom, he attempted to travel to Tripoli, hoping to join the thousands of illegal migrants who would brave the sea to try and reach Italy by boat.

“I didn’t even get to Tripoli before I was caught and taken to prison. I met more than 10,000 Nigerians there. We only eat once a day there – one piece of bread. I would drink salt water.”

While suffering the horrific prison conditions, Mr. Imasuen hatched a plan to reach the deportation camp.

He slipped a note into the female section of the prison, pleading that any of the ladies who was being taken for deportation claim he was their husband.

The ruse worked and Mr. Imasuen was taken to Tripoli’s main deportation camp – one step closer to being repatriated to Nigeria.

It was there he granted an interview to CNN, he said.

“I decided to speak to them, hoping to get help but at the end, nothing came out of it,” he bemoaned.

Through the intervention of the International Organisation for Migration, IOM, Mr. Imasuen was finally deported to Nigeria – with nothing but the clothes on his back to show for his “journey through hell”.

“Upon getting to Nigeria, I decided to come to T.B. Joshua because even before I left, I heard of the help he renders to others. I need prayer.”

Osazee Aghimie, another deportee, equally shared his own sorrowful tale, explaining how over 100 migrants died in the boat he was in after it capsized en route to Italy. He narrowly survived only to be thrown into prison and eventually deported.

T.B. Joshua, who had just turned from the Dominican Republic, gave the two men each N200,000. Mr. Imasuen could not hold back tears as he received the gift.

Mr. Joshua’s support to the duo is not an isolated instance. This week alone, the cleric gave over N4.4 million to Nigerians returning from Libya, and well over N100 million ($277,000) has been provided to them by The SCOAN since 2016.

The illegal sex trafficking trail between Nigeria and Europe

Sandra knew there was always a chance that her clients would kill her.

For three years, she was forced to work as a prostitute on the streets of Moscow, repaying a $45,000 debt to the trafficker who brought her from Nigeria.
"There were five of them," she recalls of one occasion. "They were brutal, they beat me up, they brought out a knife and tried to stab me."

Instead, they pushed her out of the two-story window for not submitting.
Often times, there were more men -- 10, 15, 20 per call.

"They might even kill you if you try to defend yourself," she says. "That's the reason why it is very horrible. And in that process most Nigerian girls lose their life, because not every girl can withstand the pressure of 10 men."

Sandra, not her real name, is one of tens of thousands of Nigerian women who have been trafficked into Europe for sexual exploitation. And many of those women come from a single city.

For decades, Benin City, the capital of Edo State in southern Nigeria, has been tied to trafficking to Europe. Here, a potent mix of poverty and spiritualism drives thousands of young women to make the dangerous journey.

Along its often unpaved, mud-ridden streets there are houses with wide gates and high walls. These belong to the families with a relation who has "made it," says Roland Nwoha, a local NGO worker who has devoted his career to stopping the trade. "Almost every family has a contact in Europe."

Organizations like Nwoha's help educate people about the risks. But he says these few stories of success continue to be a powerful motivator in a city where so many live in desperate conditions.
And in Benin City, the push to leave comes from every direction.

Trapped by fear

Sandra says she was convinced to go by a man she met at church, who said he was an assistant pastor.

She says he told her he had a vision from God that she traveled overseas, that his sister in Russia could get a job in a hair salon. For added insurance, the man had given the items she left behind to a traditional priest.

"We always have had this belief that your future lies in the hand of God," says Nwoha. "Religious leaders, both the traditional and the Christian, are capitalizing on this."
Like so many, Sandra feared the juju -- traditional witchcraft -- as much as she trusted her friend.

Her trafficker took much more than just her passport. "My pants, my bra, the hair from my head, the armpit and my private parts," she says.

The items were for a juju oath, so powerful, a local priest said, that no one dares break it.
For Sandra, it bound her to her home thousands of miles away in Benin City, and the assistant pastor that convinced her to go.

"I saw it with my own eyes. It's like a danger to weak girls, especially when it has to do with sensitive parts of your body."
She believed that her passage to Europe would cost her no more than $2,000. She ended up owing her trafficker $45,000.

The average debt for girls trafficked from Nigeria is around $25,000, but it can be as much as $60,000. None of them have any idea that they will owe these extortionate amounts. The debt, and the fear of juju, keeps them trapped.

Sea of misery

Sandra's journey took her through Lagos and then an onward flight to Europe.

But increasingly the trafficking trade is flowing through the lawlessness of Libya and across the Mediterranean where, according to the UN's International Organization for Migration (IOM), over the past three years there has been a 600 percent rise in the number of potential sex trafficking victims arriving into Italy by sea.
The IOM estimates 80 percent are from Nigeria. The majority are from Benin City.

"When the Europeans started their search and rescue operations, many people in Benin said, 'the road has opened, once you get on the boats you will be rescued," says Nwoha.

But just last month, the bodies of 26 Nigerian women were recovered from the Mediterranean in a single day, bringing this year's total number of migrant deaths in that sea to at least 3,000.

Often, the journey ends in tragedy. More often, the tragedy happens in Libya.

Ede's story

Physically, 28-year-old Ede is finally free, but the pain of what she endured is still raw.

"He used to hurt me, apart from work," she says of the man who purchased her. She was sold into sexual slavery in Libya as she tried to make her way to Europe.
"That is how they do there," says Ede, "When you finish paying your money [to your captor], if you are staying with a wicked somebody, they will sell you to another people so you start all over again."
She was freed after a police raid and eventually deported to Nigeria.
Now, back in Benin City, she sits next to 18-year-old Jennifer, who is too traumatized to talk. They are recent rescues, kept in a safe house run by the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP).
"Especially they hate us, we Nigerians ... they don't even want to hear anything concerning Nigerians," Ede remembers. "They treated us like a slave, as if we are nothing. So we went through a lot there."

Outside, the house is a non-descript, high walled compound, just like the others in the neighborhood.

Inside, the young women sit in a dark living room, where the hum of an overhead fan, and the Nigerian soap opera on TV are the few comforts in this temporary home as they wait for their cases to be investigated and to be reunited with their families.

Reducing demand
But few cases end up in court. Fewer still end in convictions.

According the US State Department's latest Trafficking In Persons report, last year NAPTIP reported 654 investigations, with 23 convictions for trafficking offenses.

"We're prosecuting the small fries in Nigeria," says Julie Okah-Donli, director general of NAPTIP. "Absolutely the number one problem is the inability of destination countries to clamp down on their own criminal networks.

"We've looked at the root causes in Nigeria without addressing the root causes in the destination countries," she says. "What is being done to reduce the demand for this crime?"

Sandra's case is one of the rare prosecutions. Her trafficker was arrested, as was his sister, who was Sandra's "madam" in Russia, pimping her out to clients. They are both awaiting trial.

"When I was in Russia I said to myself, if I get back to Nigeria alive I will expose her," says Sandra. "She is not going to go unpunished. The wicked don't have any place here, they have to face the law."

Her former church admits her trafficker was a member of the congregation but denies that he was an assistant pastor.
The betrayal that stretched across two continents is now even closer to Sandra.

"Even my own father he said I am not his daughter," she says.

The trafficking is not Nigeria's problem to solve alone, says Okah-Donli, but it is Nigeria's tragedy.

"It's our young boys and girls who are trafficked. Many are not making it back alive and the ones that do are battered and bruised."



Nigeria's international sex-trafficking ring

Friday, December 1, 2017

Video - Nigeria diversifying economy by promoting domestic tourism



Nigeria is now turning its attention to the tourism sector as a means of diversifying its economy away from oil. But what authorities are trying to promote is domestic tourism; getting Nigerians to travel within Nigeria. Tourism experts say that is the way to go and that Nigerians must be ready to embrace the idea for it to work.