Thursday, December 28, 2017

Video - Nigeria's fuel scarcity gradually fading out



The long lines at petrol stations in Nigeria are gradually thinning out as normalcy begins to return in the distribution of products to petrol stations. Africa's largest oil producer has been battling severe petrol scarcity over short fall in supply to filling stations. But the State run Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, has ramped up supply and the situations is beginning to show small sign of improvement.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Video - Record low sales for traders in Nigeria in run-up to Christmas



As Christmas approaches, many families in Nigeria are struggling to celebrate the holidays, with the country just emerging from a recession this year and majority of civil servants facing continued salary delays. Traders in the capital city say business is slow and that they are expecting subdued festive shopping this year. Here's Alexandria Majalla with more details.

Video - Nigeria becomes first in Africa to issue Sovereign Green Bond



Nigeria has become the first country in Africa to issue a Sovereign Green Bond and the fourth nation in the world to do so after Poland, France and Fiji. The 10.69 billion naira five-year green bond is expected to settle by Friday. And that's when we will know if investors have really warmed up to the Bond. The country's Debt Management Office has listed the Bond on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. Moody's Investors Service has also assigned a Green Bond Assessment of "excellence" to the issuance. Deji Badmus has been speaking with a member of the Investment bank, Chapel Hill Denham, who is the financial adviser on the Bond.

Malaysia set to hang 2 Nigerians for drug crimes

A court in Malaysia has sentenced two Nigerian students to death by hanging for trafficking hard drug.

A High Court Judge, Datuk Abdul Halim Aman sitting in Shah Alam ruled that Mustafa Azmir, 28, and Jude Nnamdi Achonye, 30 be hanged after convicting them.

Their ordeal started three years ago when the two students of a private university in Kuala Lumpur were arrested for being in possession of several boxes that contained 3.5kg of methamphetamine.

They were accused of trafficking the drugs at an apartment in Petaling Jaya at 3.30pm on September 2, 2014 which is an offense under Section 39B (1) (a) of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 of Malaysia.

In his ruling, the judge said the prosecution had proven a prima facie case against the convicts and the court had studied testimonies from 13 prosecution witnesses and two defence witnesses, alongside 73 exhibits tendered during the trial.

"The defence had failed to raise reasonable doubt at the end of this case and presented no testimony that thoroughly refutes the prosecution. Besides that, there were also discrepancies in testimonies of the accused and their defence only amounted to denial without concrete evidence," he said.

Mustafa and Achonye were represented by lawyer Leonard Anselm Gomes while Deputy Public Prosecutor Mohammed Rehan Mohammed Aris represented the prosecution.

Nigeria rejects President Donald Trump’s decision on Jerusalem

Nigeria was among the 128 countries, which voted against the decision of President Donald Trump, to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The voting took place at the UN General Assembly.

The countries on the opposing side stood their ground, despite Trump’s threat to cut off funding to them.

Thirty-five countries abstained, while nine tiny countries including Togo, voted along with US.

The resolution insisted that the status of Jerusalem must be resolved through negotiations.

Speaking ahead of the emergency session, Nikki Haley, US ambassador warned the general assembly that the United States “will remember this day”.

“America will put our embassy in Jerusalem. No vote in the United Nations will make any difference on that.

“But this vote will make a difference on how Americans look at the UN and on how we look at countries who disrespect us in the UN.

“When we make generous contributions to the UN we also have a legitimate expectation that our goodwill is recognised and respected,” Haley said.

The status of the Holy City is one of the thorniest issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with both sides claiming it as their capital.

Four in ten people in Nigeria are unemployed

Nigeria may have Africa’s biggest economy, but four out of every ten people in the country’s workforce were unemployed or underemployed by the end of September, the government statistics office said on Friday.

The regional power climbed out of its first recession in a quarter of a century in the second quarter, but economic growth remains sluggish. That has lead to a drought of work opportunities, contributing to a cycle of poverty that drives Nigeria’s yawning wealth inequality as well as social unrest.

“A return to economic growth provides an impetus to employment,” Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said in a report released on Friday.

“However, employment growth may lag, and unemployment rates worsen especially at the end of a recession and for many months after,” the stats office said, adding that it expects unemployment to peak in the fourth quarter of 2017.

By the end of September, Nigeria’s economically active or working population was 111.1 million people, said the NBS.

Unemployment has increased to 18.8 percent of that population from 16.2 percent at the end of June, it said.

The combined proportion of people unemployed or underemployed was 40 percent at the end of September, up from 37.2 percent by the end of June, said the NBS report.

Earlier this month, ratings agency Fitch cut its 2017 economic growth forecast for Nigeria to 1 percent from 1.5 percent.

The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, who campaigned on vows to fix Nigeria’s economy, has struggled to follow through with plans to reduce the country’s dependence on oil.

Much of Nigeria’s recovery since the second quarter has been driven by crude production, which accounts for roughly two-thirds of government revenues, despite the government’s assertions they are investing in infrastructure and key industries such as agriculture to drive employment and boost growth.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Video - Nigeria seeks bids for concession contracts of 4 major airports



Nigeria's government is set to begin accepting bids for concession contracts of four of the country's major airports. Both foreign and local investors have expressed interest. The government is seeking to concession the airports to generate revenue and make them work better. But the unions are opposing the plan.

Nigerian Navy rescues kidnapped Chinese men

The Nigerian Navy in Lagos on Thursday said it rescued four Chinese men from kidnappers around Igbokoda area of Ondo State.

The Flag Officer Commanding, FOC, Western Naval Command, Sylvanus Abbah, told journalists in Lagos that the four victims were abducted on board a fishing trawler within the Lagos waters on December 14.

According to him, operatives of the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) BEECROFT rescued the abducted Chinese nationals from a militant camp in the riverine area of Ondo State.

He said that after the abduction, the kidnappers took their victims in a speed boat to Igbokoda, Ondo State the same day.

“Naval operatives attached to Forward Operations Base (FOB) who sighted the kidnappers as they were entering Igbokoda gave them a hot pursuit.

“The kidnappers opened fire on the naval gunboat.

“There was a fierce gun battle between the suspects and the naval men and the hoodlums abandoned their boats and fled on foot through the creeks,” he said.

Mr. Abbah said that the naval men went after the suspects who later abandoned the four Chinese men and fled.

“Presently efforts are ongoing to arrest the suspects.

“The Chinese sustained bullet wounds during the gun battle and they have been treated and are in stable condition,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Acting Chinese Consul General in Nigeria, Mr Guan Zhonggi, who paid a thank you visit to the FOC, commended the navy for its prompt intervention.

He said that the four Chinese men regained their freedom because of the swift action of the naval men.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Bitcoin blooming in Nigeria

In July 2016, Manasseh Egedegbe, an Abuja-based investment manager, was caught in the cross hairs of Nigeria’s dollar crunch and had some difficulties making an international payment. At the time, with Nigeria’s foreign reserves and revenues shrinking amid an economic slump, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) put up currency controls to restrict access to dollars. For Egedegbe, and many other Nigerians, that presented a problem. In his desperation, he turned to the cryptocurrency wave of the moment: bitcoin.

“I was able to use bitcoin to do just one transaction and then I got hooked,” Egedegbe tells Quartz.

Over the past 18 months, due to reasons ranging from needing to make international payments, like Egedegbe, or simply wanting a slice of the next big thing, bitcoin adoption in Nigeria has spiked. This year, peer-to-peer bitcoin trading in Nigeria has increased by nearly 1,500%—surpassed only by China. Data from LocalBitcoin, a popular bitcoin exchange available in around 200 countries, shows weekly bitcoin trade volume in Nigeria crossed 1 billion naira ($2 million) in August. “Seeing the price skyrocket” has drawn a lot of Nigerians “who want a piece of the action,” Egedegbe says.

The situation in Nigeria is not too dissimilar from Zimbabwe, whose unstable economy and depleted foreign exchange markets saw locals turn to bitcoin as a storage of value this year. At one point Zimbabwe had the highest bitcoin prices in the world.

A new crop of local bitcoin exchanges are proving central to the growing local adoption. Timi Ajiboye co-founded Bitkoin Africa in October after experiencing some difficulty trying to buy the cryptocurrency on foreign exchanges. The inability to pay with a Nigerian bank account or card drove Ajiboye’s decision to start Bitkoin Africa to make it much easier for local trading.

For his part, Tim Akinbo, co-founder of Tanjalo, also an exchange founded in October, says the potential local applications of cryptocurrencies and the enabling technology was the motivation for starting the exchange. There are also some older players in the space like NairaEX, a bitcoin exchange founded in Nov. 2015.

Despite growing adoption, skepticism largely outweighs enthusiasm but Ajiboye says local exchanges can help ensure more people understand cryptocurrencies better. An initial skeptic himself, Ajiboye cites his new-found conviction in cryptocurrencies, after gaining more understanding of their potential, as hope for a broader change in mindset.

Much like how local fintech companies are creating products and services to plug gaps in the local financial system, cryptocurrency technology has some potential across Africa given the lack of “advanced financial infrastructure,” Akinbo says. In that respect, these exchanges serve as vital cogs in the evolving infrastructure that will see cryptocurrencies achieve some of its potential in Africa. Whatever that potential is, the first step is “allowing people to buy and own the currencies,” Ajiboye says.

Both exchanges are notching up transactions in just two months of being in business. Bitkoin Africa’s trade volume is rapidly increasing: nearly half of its total trade volume since inception happened in the first ten days of December. Meanwhile, Tanjalo has done close to $1 million in trade volume with “very little marketing,” according to Akinbo.

Dodgy beginnings

The origins of mainstream interest in bitcoin across many African markets has been credited to Mavrodi Mundial Moneybox (MMM), a two-decade old Russian ponzi scheme. At its peak, MMM had over two million users in Nigeria despite several warnings by authorities. It has also been operational in Ghana, Zimbabwe, Kenya and South Africa in the past 18 months.

The scheme’s playbook was simple: users could “invest” money by pledging to other users in the scheme and then receive returns plus 30% interest in 30 days. But its long run in Nigeria came to a halt when, in Dec. 2016, it suspended operations (CBN estimates that MMM users lost $50 million when the scheme crashed). But, at the start of the year, when MMM sought to relaunch, it tried to get round regulator’s rules by allowing users pay and receive pledges using bitcoin—a strategy it has also deployed in other parts of Africa. Many participants of the scheme, looking to make a quick buck, were quick to latch on yet again.

Over time, renewed interest has come from wealthier, middle-class Nigerians who, Egedegbe says, “likely understand the technology better than the average man in the street.” But even though it’s not a Russian ponzi scheme, a sharp drop in bitcoin’s prices could still see people get their fingers burned. Its manic price surge—it has broken through $1,000 thresholds within hours in December—has seen it questioned as possibly the most obvious bubble ever and has also drawn comparisons with the dot-com bubble at the turn of the millennium.

Akinbo, who is more upbeat about bitcoin’s future, says its potential to facilitate cross border trade may eventually justify the increasing price spike. “When you look at it in terms of that potential alone, I’d say it’s undervalued.” As for a potential bubble, Akinbo views this phase more as a time when everyone is trying to get in on the action. “Just like any new technology, speculation is how this will find its footing,” he says.
The big picture

Much of the bitcoin craze is down to big-ticket predictions about its future potential. In Africa, possibilities discussed range from easing payments, particularly for international services to enhancing remittances—a boon for many local economies. But the most basic of these, Akinbo says, is the possibility of having a system “where everyone is permitted to participate” without discrimination of geographical location or origin.

For Ajiboye, who plans to expand Bitkoin Africa into other African countries from next year, making it easier to trade across Africa is a real possibility. “It’s easier to send money from America to Nigeria than to send money from Nigeria to Gambia but the technology can power these things,” he says.
Death by regulation

Whether or not the bitcoin bubble bursts, its potential locally could be mitigated by regulation. While it’s difficult for authorities to regulate cryptocurrencies which they have little control over, it’s possible to regulate companies that provide services using the currencies. So far, Nigeria’s Central Bank (CBN), like most apex banks across the world, has issued warnings on the risk of cryptocurrencies. One of the earliest came in a January circular in which it cited the dangers of “money laundering and financing of terrorism.”

However, more recently, the apex bank’s stance appears to have softened: in October, it reportedly set up departments to develop a report on policy proposals for cryptocurrencies. Quartz’s email inquiries to ascertain the progress and submission date for the report have not yet been replied.

As CBN mulls its policies on cryptocurrencies, Akinbo advocates that it “remains flexible” by continually reviewing and tweaking its policies in line with global trends. The alternative is adopting and sticking to a policy which could become archaic in a quick changing world. One event that could trigger a wave of apprehensive regulation could be a sharp dip in prices (or the bitcoin bubble bursting). If that’s the case, Osarumen Osamuyi, a Lagos-based developer, hopes the apex bank doesn’t adopt “draconian regulation.” Such drastic action, he says, “will ultimately hurt innovation.”

Monday, December 18, 2017

Video - Nigeria’s recession forces government to withdraw handball funding



Several athletes in Nigeria are helping generate local interest in the sport of handball. Nigeria's sports ministry removed funding for the sport earlier this year, causing concern over its future as CGTN's Sophia Adengo now reports.

Video - Nigerian army says arrested more than 400 militants



The Nigerian army at the weekend announced it's arrested more than 400 people with suspected links to the Boko Haram militant group -- among them, women and children. The people were arrested on islands in Lake Chad over a two-week period.

Thierry Henry receives chieftaincy title in Nigeria

Former Arsenal and France international striker Thierry Henry who is in Lagos for the Guinness Made of Black programme has been crowned the, Igwe of football’ in Nigeria.

Henry who is in Lagos to meet the ‘Be a Front Row Fan’ winners; a consumer promotion of the company also watched the West Brom v Manchester United EPL game at Landmark Event Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos. Aside receiving the ‘igwe of football’ title, Henry also participated in the cooking of Jollof rice. The 40-year-old Frenchman retired from football in 2014.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Video - Nigerian NGOs worry new civil society bill will limit their operations



Rights groups in Nigeria are up in arms over a proposed bill that seeks to regulate the activities of non-governmental organisations operating in the country. Scores of activists have taken to the streets of the capital in protest. Critics argue that if the bill is signed into law, it will limit the activities of civil society organisations. The legislation is currently being tabled before committees at the House of Representatives.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Nigeria to amend deep offshore oil act to increase revenue

Nigeria is seeking to amend a law on deep offshore oil exploration and drilling, aiming to increase government revenue from crude sales when prices exceed $20 a barrel, the country’s oil minister said on Wednesday.

Nigeria’s government relies on oil for around two-thirds of its revenue and Africa’s largest economy is still largely dependent on crude production despite the current administration’s attempts to diversify away from the industry. Those efforts have yielded few results, economic data shows.

Under the deep offshore act, there was a provision in 1993 that allowed for the government to charge oil companies a premium for the administration’s share of sales once the price of crude exceeded $20 a barrel.

The Nigerian government has not enforced that provision but could now look to amend the law to enable it to do so, Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, the oil minister, told reporters after a cabinet meeting in the capital of Abuja.

“The net effect for us is close to $2 billion extra revenue for the federation,” Kachikwu said, adding that the petroleum ministry was working with the attorney general to look at the legislation.

“From 1993 to now, cumulatively, we have lost a total of $21 billion just because government did not act. We did not exercise it,” he said of the law, without explaining what amendment was needed.

The oil minister noted it would be difficult to recoup past losses, given oil companies that were not paying the government a premium for sales over $20 a barrel were not breaking the law.

However, the administration will explore whether there is an opportunity to get back some of the money, Kachikwu added.

The government is also pushing to have Nigeria’s three main oil refineries up and running at full capacity by 2019, the oil minister said.

Despite producing vast quantities of crude oil, Nigeria exports almost all of its crude for refining overseas before paying to have the final fuel products imported, a drain on foreign currency reserves.


The administration hopes to raise $2 billion for the refurbishment of the refineries from the private sector, and have them producing around 425,000 barrels of oil per day by the end of 2019, said Kachikwu.

Nigeria’s reliance on oil sales led to it falling into recession last year largely due to low crude prices and attacks by militants on energy facilities in the southern Niger Delta production heartland.

The OPEC member emerged from the recession - its first in 25 years - in the second quarter of 2017 as a result of higher oil receipts.

Nigerian teachers shortlisted for $1million Global Teacher Prize

Two Nigerians are among 50 finalists shortlisted for the 2018 Global Teacher Prize.

The winner, which will be announced March next year in Dubai, will receive $1 million prize money for being “an exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to their profession,” according to the information posted on the Global Teacher Prize website.

The shortlisted Nigerian teachers are Itodo Anthony and Ayodele Odeogbola of the Gateway Excel College Otukpa, Benue State, and the Abeokuta Grammar School, Ogun State, respectively.

The prize, which is considered the ‘Nobel Prize for teaching’, is sponsored by the Varkey Foundation, a non-profit organisation with interest in the education of underprivileged children around the world.

“The prize serves to underline the importance of educators and the fact that, throughout the world, their efforts deserve to be recognised and celebrated,” says the organisers of the prize.

“It seeks to acknowledge the impacts of the very best teachers – not only on their students but on the communities around them.”

The organisers said that one of the shortlisted Nigerians, Mr. Anthony, founded a community-based organisation for youths – New Frontiers Youth Forum – in May 2017 and used it to raise young leaders who in turn would act as the agent of positive change within the community.

“This October, The Forum commissioned a community library. The community had no library where students and others could study in comfort or have access to resources they could afford,” the organisers said.

They said further of him: “At the beginning of his career, in a small rural school in Nigeria, not many people understood why Anthony would get a masters degree from a UK university and end up teaching in a village for ‘peanuts’.

“But this was part of his mission – to elevate the teaching profession to a place of pride, to say with his own life that the profession is a noble one whose value is not tied to how much we earn. Today, the same people who mocked his decision to teach especially in a rural area are publicly celebrating his and his students’ successes.

“When he teaches in class he tries to introduce positive values from other parts of the world to broaden their view of life. When he told them that in some European countries a woman gets half the property at divorce, it shocked them, coming from a culture where gender inequality is grave and women can actually be kicked out of their husband’s homes at will.

“So he preaches the virtues of justice, institutional soundness, community service, value creation, among others that are elements from other cultures that can help create an ideal value system in Nigerian youth.”

An obviously elated Mr. Anthony reacted to his shortlisting thus, in a post he put up on Facebook, Wednesday: “As a Top 50 finalist, a teacher becomes a part of the prestigious Varkey Teacher Ambassadors programme, which has the Top 50 finalists from the past three editions as members.

“For me this is one of the biggest attractions of the prize, the opportunity to share a platform with over 200 of the world’s finest teachers, to learn and share best practices.

“Top 50 was my primary target and I achieved that.

“In the past three editions of this prize no Nigerian teacher made Top 50 and that was pretty unsettling for me, seeing how Kenyan teachers dominated African representation. This year we are two Nigerians, me and my friend Odeogbola Ay. I am happy we’re changing the narrative and opening the path for other Nigerian teachers,” he said.

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.