Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Video - Nigeria advance to CHAN 2018 semi-finals

Nigeria and Libya have sailed into the semi-finals of the African nations championships. Nigeria beat Angola two-one while Libya downed Congo in the penalty kicks.

Lassa fever outbreak kills 21 in Nigeria

Lassa fever has claimed a total of 21 lives in its latest outbreak in Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, said Director General of the Nigeria Center for Disease Control Chikwe Ihekweazu.

A total of 77 confirmed cases have so far been recorded since the disease, which affected 10 health workers, broke out, the official said Tuesday in Abuja.

He described the situation as sober, adding that it had resulted in serious emotional trauma, fear, anxiety and sometimes anger among stakeholders.

Ihekweazu said it was high time stakeholders came together and addressed the challenges of hemorrhagic fevers, including Lassa fever.

The national coordinator said NCDC has distributed more Ribavirin drugs used in the treatment of the disease to the affected states than it had ever done in the past.

Lassa fever is a viral infection caused by the Lassa fever virus and the disease occurs all year round but more cases are recorded during the dry season.

It is spread through direct contact with urine, faeces, saliva or blood of infected rats, eating food or drinking contaminated water.

The disease can be prevented through enhanced personal hygiene, avoidance of all contact with rats (dead or alive) and keeping the house and surrounding clean.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Video - Analysts recognize Buhari's efforts to fight graft in Nigeria

Nigeria's President, Muhammadu Buhari, has lived up to his election promise, the fight against corruption. Several former senior government officials, former military chiefs and serving judges are standing trial for alleged corruption.

French journalist asks acclaimed Nigerian author Adichie 'are there bookshops in Nigeria?'

When Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was supposed to be answering questions pertaining to feminism and the #MeToo movement, the world gravitated towards her interviewer’s “retrograde” questions.

On January 25 at “La Nuit des Idees” (The Night of Ideas) in Paris, French journalist Caroline Broue asked the author of several award-winning books, including Half of a Yellow Sun, Purple Hibiscus and Americanah, whether her books were read in her home country of Nigeria, and if there were bookshops.

“I think it reflects very poorly on French people that you have to ask me that question … You’ll be shocked to know that they are, yes ... They are read and studied, not just in Nigeria but across the continent of Africa,” Adichie responded.

The author was then asked to speak about her country, as Broue admitted that the French know very little about Nigeria, “certainly not enough”, and when the French do speak about Nigeria “it’s about Boko Haram and the problems of violence and security”.

“I do not expect a French person to know almost everything about Nigeria. I don’t know almost everything about France. But to be asked to ‘tell French people that you have bookshops in Nigeria because they don’t know’ is to cater to a wilfully retrograde idea – that Africa is so apart, so pathologically ‘different,’ that a non-African cannot make reasonable assumptions about life there,” Adichie responded

Adichie said that she was taken aback when her “Intelligent, thoughtful and well prepared” interviewer asked a question that was “far below the intellectual register of her previous questions.”

“I know now that she was trying to be ironic ... it was a genuine, if flat, attempt at irony and I wish she would not be publicly pilloried,” Adichie said.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Herdsmen, farmers continue fight over farmland in Nigeria

Tensions between farmers and herdsmen in Nigeria is heightening, at the center of the conflict is the shrinking grazing and farming land available. Climate change and threats of Boko Haram attacks have led to herdsmen encroaching on farming land.

Nigeria defeat Angola to advance to CHAN semis

Nigeria needed an injury-time goal and another in extra-time as they came from behind to beat Angola in the quarter-finals of the African Nations Championship (CHAN) on Sunday in Morocco.

Angola took the lead in Tangiers with a fortuitous ricochet off the chest of their forward Va as Timothy Danladi tried to clear.

In the 92nd minute Anthony Okpotu stabbed home the equaliser to make amends for the earlier chances he missed and then Okechukwu Gabriel scored the winner in the 109th minute of the match.

Nigeria now play Sudan in Wednesday's second semi-final in Marrakech at the tournament only for players in domestic leagues on the continent.

The Nigerians dominated the opening exchanges while the Angolans were happy to rely on counter-attacks and set pieces.

Indeed, their efforts almost paid dividends in the first half as Nigeria keeper and captain Ikechukwu Ezenwa had to make the more difficult saves, firstly tipping over a fierce shot from Mano and then a double stop from the same player at closer range.

Okpotu's first missed chance came on the stroke of half-time as he had an effort headed off the line by Angola's Nary after goalkeeper Landu failed to catch a cross from Ikouwem Utin.

His next chance came just after the break, when he took advantage of hesitation between Landu and a defender on the edge of the area, but his shot went wide of a gaping goal.

Angola broke the deadlock 10 minutes after half-time when Danladi's attempted clearance hit the chest of Va and looped over Ezenwa into the goal.

Nigeria must have thought luck was against them in the 76th minute but Gabriel headed against the post from Dayo Ojo's cross.

With the seconds ticking away, Nigeria sent a free kick from inside their own half into the Angolan penalty box and Rabiu Ali's flicked header fell to Okpotu who this time put away the equaliser and sent his team-mates into wild celebrations.

Just after the break in extra-time, Gabriel drove across the area, finding himself some space, and managed to cut his shot back across goal and in, to seal the win for Nigeria.

The only downside for Nigeria were three players having to leave the pitch with injuries and coach Salisu Yusuf will be hoping that Emeka Ogbugh and Kalu Orji Okugbue can all recover in time to face Sudan in the last four, while Sunday Felaye is now a doubt for the rest of the tournament with an arm injury.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Video - High unemployment level in Nigeria attributed to last year's recession

Nigeria's unemployment rate has hit its highest levels in five years. Analysts attribute the latest statistics to a struggling economy after a recession last year. It has forced many Nigerians to look at alternative ways to make a living.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Nigerian prophet arrested for drug trafficking

Zambian authorities have arrested a Nigerian pastor for allegedly trafficking 26.29 kilogram of ephedrine, a medication and stimulant drug, a spokesperson said on Thursday.

Prophet Isaac Julius Amata, 42, is known for having predicted that President Edgar Lungu will win Zambia's 2016 general elections.

He was arrested by anti-drug officers on Wednesday upon arrival at the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Lusaka, the country's capital, according to Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) spokesperson Theresa Katongo.

She said the Nigerian pastor was arrested upon arrival at the airport from Nigeria aboard a South African Airways plane.

The suspect is currently in police custody and will appear in court soon, she added.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Di Maria blames missing Messi for loss to Nigeria

Paris Saint-Germain Argentina international Angel Di Maria has explained that the South Americans were humiliated by Nigeria in an international friendly last November because of the absence of Lionel Messi.

The former Manchester United winger revealed that the Argentina team is filled with stars and the presence of Messi makes the team tick. Without the Barcelona number ten in the squad, Nigeria recovered from a two-goal deficit to thrash Argentina 4-2, with Alex Iwobi, Kelechi Iheanacho and Brian Idowu finding the net for the three-time African champions in Krasnodar.

“I love playing with him (Messi), the best thing that can happen to a player is to play with the best and with the aliens, you value playing with him...,” said Angel Di Maria to Fox Sports Radio.

“Everybody has a good time in the clubs and in the national team when Leo is not there all of us want to assume that role, but being so used to playing with him it is difficult when he is not in.

“We all try to do our best, good first half against Nigeria and then the game got away, it got out of hand but at times we do things right.”

Angel Di Maria has faced the Super Eagles four times in his career, including the 2010 and 2014 World Cups.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Video - Nigeria senate rejects new subsidies, fuel shortage report

Nigeria's Senate has rejected a freshly imposed fuel subsidy by the state owned NNPC to ease the crisis across the West African country. The Senate has also rejected a report by a committee it appointed to investigate the current fuel shortage.

Google honours Nigerian soccer legend Stephen Keshi with doodle

Google is celebrating Stephen Keshi, former captain and coach of the Super Eagles, Nigeria’s soccer national team, with a doodle on Google Nigeria on what would have been his 56th birthday.

Keshi is famous for being the one of the two people, alongside Egypt’s Mahmoud El-Gohary, to have won the African Cup of Nations (AFCON), Africa’s biggest soccer tournament, as a player and manager. Keshi first won the title in 1994 as captain of the Super Eagles and, 19 years later, won it again as manager leading a less-than-fancied Super Eagles side. He died in June 2016.

In a soccer-mad nation where the sport is a national pastime and often a unifying event, Keshi was well-loved and is fondly remembered for his decades of service to the national team. His career as a player with the Super Eagles spanned 14 years during which he made 60 appearances—the second highest ever by any player at the time of Keshi’s retirement in 1995.

In 2011, Keshi took over as a manager of the Super Eagles at a time when the national team was at a low ebb and barely living up to its reputation as one of the continent’s best teams. Indeed, the Super Eagles had not won an international title since Keshi last lifted the AFCON trophy in 1994. In 2014, Keshi further sealed his legacy with the Super Eagles at the World Cup in Brazil, matching the team’s best ever performance at the event with a round of 16 finish.

Notably, Keshi remains popular among players in Nigeria’s local soccer league. During his time with the Super Eagles, Keshi broke a ceiling of sorts by insisting on inviting promising players from the local league to the senior national team—a gutsy move given that Nigeria had several big name players at popular European soccer clubs at the time. Keshi’s team at the 2013 AFCON comprised of six home-based players. His decision eventually paid off when, in the final against Burkina Faso, Nigeria’s lone goal was scored by a home-based star.

His 19-year club career spanned five countries and four continents, including a four-year stint at Anderlecht, Belgium’s most successful club, where he won the league title in 1991. Keshi’s managerial career also saw him make history outside Nigeria as he qualified Togo for the World Cup in 2006—the country’s first ever appearance at the global event.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Video - Boko Haram still staging deadly attacks despite Nigeria's military assurances

Nigeria's biggest threat to the its security is the Boko Haram militant group. Both government and the military claim the insurgency is over. But the group recently released a video showcasing its strength.

2 Canadians and 2 Americans rescued from kidnappers in Nigeria

Two Americans and two Canadians who were kidnapped in Nigeria's north-central Kaduna state on Tuesday have been freed and are in good condition, police said Saturday.

Police and a special anti-kidnapping squad rescued the foreigners in the Kagarko local government area Friday night after a massive manhunt, state police commissioner Agyole Abeh said.

"No ransom was paid. It was the efforts of the police through the directives of the Inspector General of Police that led to their release," he said.

One suspect was arrested in connection with the kidnapping and police were on the trail of remaining suspects, Abeh said. The foreigners have been taken to the capital, Abuja, Kaduna state police spokesman Mukhtar Aliyu said.

"They are in good condition but due to trauma they have to undergo medical observation." Aliyu said.

Gunmen ambushed the foreigners Tuesday as they traveled from Kafanchan in Kaduna state to Abuja. Two police escorts were killed in what police called a "fierce gun battle." They were ambushed in a forested area, the BBC reports.

The Americans and Canadians have not been publicly identified. Aliyu earlier said they are investors setting up solar stations in villages around Kafanchan.

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, especially on the Kaduna to Abuja highway. Two German archaeologists were seized at gunpoint last year less than 100 kilometers northeast of Abuja and later freed unharmed. Sierra Leone's deputy high commissioner was taken at gunpoint on the highway in 2016 and held for five days before he was let go.

In October, four Britons were abducted in the Niger Delta region, the BBC reports. Three were released and one was killed.

Victims typically are released unharmed after ransom is paid, though security forces have rescued a few high-profile abductees. A number of bandits, including herdsmen, have been arrested.

Nigerians beating bitcoin scams

Depending on your feelings about Bitcoin, it may seem appropriate that Nigeria’s love for the cryptocurrency began with a scam. Mavrodi Mondial Moneybox (MMM), a 30-year-long global Ponzi scheme that began in Russia, roped in millions of Nigerians from late 2015 to the end of 2016 with promises of 30 percent returns in as little as 30 days. When the government began to crack down on bank accounts linked to the scheme, MMM’s operators cut the banks out and started requiring victims to use Bitcoin. By the time MMM suspended its payouts, shortly before Christmas 2016, it had robbed an estimated 3 million people in Nigeria—where the per capita annual income is less than $3,000—of $50 million.

It had also convinced many of them that, the scam notwithstanding, Bitcoin was the future. “It was MMM that made Nigerians understand how Bitcoin worked,” says Lucky Uwakwe, co-founder of Blockchain Solutions Ltd., a cryptocurrency consulting firm in Lagos. Today, Nigerians are trading about $4.7 million in Bitcoin a week, Uwakwe says, up from about $300,000 per week a year ago. That’s No. 23 globally, according to researcher CryptoCompare—far below the more than $1 billion traded daily in U.S. dollars or Japanese yen, but comparable to the volume of activity in Chinese yuan or Indian rupees. “The growth has been crazy,” says David Ajala, who runs NairaEx, one of about a dozen digital currency exchanges in Nigeria. “It took us two years to get 10,000 customers. Within the last year, we’ve added 90,000.”

The scams have kept pace. Phony traders have flooded Nigeria’s cryptocurrency exchanges, messaging apps, and even the streets of Lagos and other cities, promising people fast money and disappearing once they’ve taken theirs. “A lot of people have had their fingers burned,” says Adeolu Fadele, founder of the Cryptographic Development Initiative of Nigeria, a group that aims to educate regulators and the public about digital currency.

The scams follow a pattern familiar to anyone who’s ever received a message from a supposedly beleaguered Nigerian prince: The target is asked to wire over naira, the local currency, in exchange for Bitcoin. In some cases the scammer uses the name and photo of a real dealer and creates a trading profile on a local exchange that’s good enough to pass a cursory background check, a technique known as cloning. Others will make an offer not of Bitcoin, but of “billion coin” or some other nonexistent cryptocurrency. “Everybody I know has been scammed in one way or another,” says Bashir Aminu, a digital-security expert and Bitcoin enthusiast in Lagos.

So Nigeria, unlike other Bitcoin hubs, has begun to develop informal groups of traders who take an old-school approach to verifying transactions. After several friends of Aminu’s lost thousands of dollars to scammers between them, they set up an informal exchange on the messaging app Telegram, trading among themselves. When other friends sought to join the group, Aminu would review their identification and banking documents—comparing passports and papers with the faces in front of him. Sometimes he’d even act as a trusted broker, holding a buyer’s money in escrow until the seller came through with the Bitcoin transfer. Over the past year, he says, his group has grown to almost 800 members. There are dozens of similar networks, Aminu says, with varying degrees of security procedures. Some arrange face-to-face meetings in homes, the backs of small shops, and other private places, where a buyer hands over hard cash and watches the seller make the Bitcoin transfer on a smartphone.

This sort of facilitator is essentially a digital aboki, the kind of black-market money-changer who lurks outside high-end Nigerian hotels to swap plastic sacks full of weather-beaten naira for stacks of $100 bills and euros. As these informal Bitcoin-centric networks grow and multiply, Aminu says, they’re increasingly populated by people who trade digital currency as a full-time occupation. Because of all this informal trading, the size of Nigeria’s market is probably much bigger than what the public exchanges report, says Uwakwe, the consultant.

Aminu says the occasional scammer still sneaks into his Telegram network, and he recently booted more than 100 people he deemed untrustworthy. For many, the potential profit is too good to pass up, says “Ambassador” Smart Oluwadola, a cryptocurrency peddler in Kano, a desert city in the north. In August a friend persuaded Oluwadola to ditch a job hawking health supplements for a suspiciously pyramidal Philippine “business club” and buy a couple hundred dollars’ worth of Bitcoin. Now he’s an evangelist, with thousands of dollars’ worth, a local radio ad urging others to buy Bitcoin, and a series of investing seminars at a local hotel. “If you don’t take a risk, you can’t get anything,” he says. “And if it’s going to be the future of currency, then you better start now.”

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Video - Nigeria's Government to review tax compliance records of all its contractors

The Nigerian government has started reviewing a tax compliance record of its contractors within all ministries and agencies. The Federal Inland Revenue Service also known as FIRS is responsible for customs and excise and says these steps are necessary to improve the country's revenues.

Nigeria to participate in five 2018 World Cup friendlies

Nigeria will play friendly internationals against Poland, Serbia, DR Congo, England and Czech Republic as preparation for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Gernot Rohr's side will face Poland on 23 March and Serbia four days later, before the home fixture against DR Congo in Abuja on 28 May.

World Cup-bound England will be Nigeria's opponents on 2 June at Wembley ahead of the final warm-up fixture against Czech Republic on 6 June.

Jairo Pachon of Eurodata Sport, Nigeria Football Federation (NFF)'s official match agent, said much planning had gone into the fixtures.

"We've worked closely with the coach and the great support of the NFF to finalise these games," Pachon told BBC Sport.

"Coach (Rohr) stressed the importance of playing teams with a similar style to their World Cup opposition and we've got two going to Russia from eastern Europe.

"The game against DR Congo in May will afford the fans, media and everyone the opportunity to see the Super Eagles play before they fly out to Europe to conclude preparations," Pachon added.

Nigeria have chosen the eastern European oppositions Poland, Serbia and Czech Republic with the hope that they will provide ideal preparation for their opening Group D game against Croatia in Russia on 16 June.

"The opening game is the most important match and we hope to prepare for it - against opponents similar to Croatia," Rohr had confirmed to the BBC.

Nigeria will then face Iceland on 22 June before finishing with Argentina four days later.

The Super Eagles will be making a sixth appearance at the World Cup tournament in Russia.

They reached the round of 16 in 1994, 1998 and 2014 but exit the 2002 and 2010 tournaments in the group stages.

Nigeria World Cup friendlies

Nigeria vs Poland (23 March in Poland)

Nigeria vs Serbia (27 March in the UK)

Nigeria vs DR Congo (28 May in Abuja)

Nigeria vs England (2 June in London)

Nigeria vs Czech Republic (6 June in Austria)

U.S. ambassador summoned by Nigeria over President Trump's 'shithole" comment

Nigeria’s government on Monday summoned a representative of the the U.S. ambassador to explain reported remarks by President Donald Trump that immigrants from Africa and Haiti come from “shithole countries”, the foreign ministry said.

Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama “sought clarification on the veracity or otherwise of the substance of the remarks, stressing that if they were true, they were deeply hurtful, offensive and unacceptable”, the ministry said in a statement.

Trump reportedly made the remarks at a private meeting with lawmakers on immigration on Thursday. A U.S. senator who attended the gathering said the president used “vile, vulgar” language, including repeatedly using the word “shithole” when speaking about African countries. 

The Nigerian foreign ministry statement noted the “very warm and cordial relations that presently exist” between Nigeria and the U.S. The United States, represented by Deputy Chief of Mission David J. Young as the ambassador was not in Nigeria, said there were contradictory accounts as to whether the remarks were made, the statement said. 

In a separate statement, a U.S. embassy spokesman said Young “reiterated the excellent relations that exist between the United States and Nigeria and they discussed future cooperation between the two countries”. The U.S. president on Friday denied using such derogatory language. But he has been widely condemned in many African countries and by international rights organisations. African Union countries demanded an apology on Friday.

Two Americans and two Canadians kidnapped in fatal ambush in Nigeria

Two Americans and two Canadians have been kidnapped in an ambush in Kaduna state, northern Nigeria, in the latest abduction targeting foreigners.

State police spokesman Mukhtar Aliyu said that “unknown armed men” seized the four on the road to Abuja at 7pm local time on Tuesday.

“They engaged in a fierce gun battle with the two police escorts attached to the expatriates, who unfortunately lost their lives,” he added.

No further details were given and Aliyu said “every possible means” were being employed to rescue the four abductees and arrest the kidnappers.

A spokesman for the US embassy in Abuja said he had no comment to make when contacted by AFP. There was no immediate response from the Canadian high commission.

Kidnapping has long been a problem in Nigeria’s southern states, where high-profile individuals, including the families of prominent politicians, are frequently seized. Victims are usually released after several days once a ransom is paid.

In recent years the crime has spread across the country as the economy has stalled. A crackdown on cattle rustling has been blamed for rising numbers of abductions in the north.

In October last year, an armed gang seized four British missionaries working for a medical charity in the oil-rich but impoverished state of Delta in the south. One of the hostages was killed while the three other hostages were later released.

Also in October, the Vatican said an Italian priest was kidnapped near Benin City, the capital of Edo state, which borders Delta state to the north. He was also later released.

Last February, two German archaeologists from the Goethe University in Frankfurt were kidnapped from an excavation site in Kaduna state. The site was off the main road linking the airport north of the state capital, Kaduna city, with Abuja, 137 miles away. The pair were freed after several days.

Safety on the Kaduna-Abuja road came under intense scrutiny last year when the federal government announced the closure of the capital’s only airport for essential runway repairs.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Video appears to show Chibok girls don't want to be rescued

Boko Haram has released another video purporting to show some of the remaining Chibok girls it's holding hostage. In the unverified footage, the more than a-dozen young women claim they don't want to return home.

Video - Nigeria has released 244 repentant Boko Haram suspects

Nigeria's Military have released 244 of what the army calls repentant Boko haram suspects who have been undergoing a de-radicalisation programme. The group was handed over to the Borno state government and would later be integrated into the society.

Niger Delta Avengers threaten to attack Nigeria's oil sector

Nigerian militant group Niger Delta Avengers said on Wednesday it planned to launch attacks on the country’s oil sector in the next few days.

The group claimed responsibility for most attacks on oil facilities in the Niger Delta in 2016, which cut Nigeria’s crude production from a peak of 2.2 million barrels per day to near 1 million barrels per day. That was the lowest level seen in Africa’s top oil producer in at least 30 years.

“This round of attacks will be the most deadly and will be targeting the deep sea operations of the multinationals,” it said in a statement on its website.

The group, which wants a greater share of Nigeria’s energy wealth to go to the impoverished Delta region, said its targets would include Bonga Platform, Agbami, EA Field, Brittania-U Field, Akpo Field. In November, the group said it had ended a ceasefire.

In 2016 the Niger Delta Avengers bombed the Forcados sub-sea pipeline, a strike which involved the use of divers.

Since January 2017 no substantial attacks have been carried out by any groups in the Delta, Nigeria’s southern oil production heartland.

Bill Gates charity to pay off $76 milion of Nigeria's debt

Bill Gates’ charitable foundation has agreed to pay Nigeria’s debt to Japan so the African nation can become polio-free.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced it will shoulder the $76m debt for Africa’s largest economy, which is recoveringfrom its first recession in 20 years.

Nigeria originally took the loan in 2014 and payments are set to start this year and will be repaid over a 20-year period.

The loan was part of Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) provided by the Japanese government in 2014 for increased polio eradication efforts.

According to Quartz Africa, the Gates Foundation agreed to pay the loan on Nigeria’s behalf after the country “achiev[ed] more than 80% vaccination coverage in at least one round each year in very high risk areas across 80% of the country’s local government areas.”

Nigeria had completed a full year in 2017 without any reported polio cases.

However Paulin Basinga, Country Director Nigeria, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, told The Independent that the Gates Foundation is “pleased to repay the loan to the Government of Japan thanks to the strong leadership of the Nigerian government in polio eradication.”

However, Mr Basinga warned that though the country has not seen a polio case in over a year, there is an “ongoing risk” because the virus has not been completely eradicated.

Only six years ago, Nigeria accounted for nearly half of all polio cases so even if there are concerns it appears the country is progressing.

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The country came close to a polio-free year in 2016 - there were no reported cases between mid-2014 and August 2016 - but then the World Health Organisation reported two cases in the remote and volatile northeast of the country, a region notoriously out of reach to medical professionals.

Polio eradication is one the Gates Foundation’s steadfast priorities, having helped India eradicate the disease nearly seven years ago. It even pledged to double-match funds of other charity groups like Rotary International meaning up to $450m could be raised in order to fight the virus.

There is no cure for the disease but it has been shown to not be able to survive in animals and can only live outside of humans for two months.

The key is widespread vaccination.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Video - Boko Haram claims new video shows some Chibok hostages

Boko Haram has released a video purportedly showing some of the remaining girls who were kidnapped from the north-eastern Nigerian town of Chibok in 2014. Around one-hundred of the 2-hundred and 70 abducted schoolgirls remain in captivity. The 21-minute video clip has yet to be verified. Let's take a look.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Video - Nigerian stock market in three year high, forex reserves hit US$40 bln

Nigeria's Central Bank says that the country's foreign reserves reached $40.4 billion as of January 5th, marking an increase of roughly $1 billion from December. [TAKE: Gfx] Successful debt sales, including multiple Eurobond offerings last year, have helped the government accrue billions of dollars in foreign reserves, although they remain far from the peak of $64 billion in August 2008. The country's stock exchange also recorded a high of 40,000 points on Tuesday, a level was last experienced in October 2014.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Video - West African countries join forces to fight Boko Haram

Three West African countries -- Cameroon, Niger and Chad -- have again teamed up with Nigeria to fight Boko Haram. The joint forces claim to have killed scores of militants and forced more than a-thousand to surrender since the regional offensive began.

Fuel scarcity continues in Nigeria

Barely a week after the fuel scarcity across Nigeria subsided in major cities, long queues of motorists have resurfaced at filling stations in Abuja, Lagos and other parts of the country.

The fuel scarcity lasted through the Christmas and New Year celebrations forcing thousands of motorists to spend hours queuing for petrol. Although things appeared to return to normal in Lagos and Abuja after the celebrations, motorists in many other states have been forced to buy petrol at prices far above the official N145 per litre.

On Thursday, officials of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, made frantic efforts to assure Nigerians all was well.

“As far as NNPC is concerned, there is a robust stock of fuel for Abuja, Lagos and other parts of the country, sufficient to serve for more than 30 days,” NNPC spokesperson, Ndu Ughamadu, told PREMIUM TIMES in a telephone interview.

“Our plea is for motorists not to engage in panic buying of any petroleum products. We are just watching out to see what is going on.

“All I can say is that there is enough stock of petrol in all our depots. More truck-outs from our depots are coming into Abuja,” Mr. Ughamadu added.

However, he said the NNPC was suspicious that the bulk of products sent out for distribution across the country were being diverted to states where they are being sold above the approved retail pump price of N145 per litre.

During the last fuel crisis, the NNPC Group General Manager, Maikanti Baru, alleged that over 4,500 trucks of petroleum products were diverted to unknown destinations by unnamed marketers.

Mr. Baru made the allegation when he appeared before the joint Committee on Petroleum (Downstream) of the National Assembly.

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, also told the same committee that internal and external diversion of petroleum products was a cause of the scarcity.

He explained that the external diversion involved fuel being smuggled to neighbouring countries, while the internal involved products taken to the hinterlands and sold at almost double the approve pump price, despite ex-depot price remaining at N133.25 per litre.

One of the independent marketing firms, MATRIX Energy, also told our correspondent that the reason for the current scarcity defied explanation.

“There is sufficient fuel everywhere. Nobody knows what is causing it. There is massive loading from the depots. Even in our depot, about eight million litres of products was loaded Wednesday. Today, we have about 31 million litres. We are doing 24 hours loading of products,” Aliu Adisa, Chief Executive of the company said in a telephone interview late Thursday night.

Although the NNPC advised motorists to report to the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, any marketer found either hoarding petrol or selling above the official price, PREMIUM TIMES reporters in many states of the federation found the price of the commodity remains high, just as the scarcity persists.


In Jos, the scarcity has created the environment for petty fuel hawkers to thrive on the roadsides.

‎Long queues, which had been a common feature in most filling stations since late last year In Plateau State, has remained.

On Thursday, only Albabatou Oil filling station on Bukuru Express-way, along Nasco Foods Limited, sold fuel in Jos. The other stations stopped business shortly before noon.

The NNPC mega filling station along Secretariat Roundabout/Dogon Kerfe Road, Jos, was the only station selling at government approved pump price of N145 per litre.

But, only vehicles belonging to security agencies and those bearing government registered number plates received preference in service.

Other members of the public were forced to join long queues stretching up to three kilometres.

Most filling stations, from Mararaban Jama’ar roundabout, to Plateau State Polytechnic, Jos campus, did not have or sell petrol.

The stations included two belonging to Total at Jeney, two NNPC mega stations, Mobil, Tayan, Dipdat, Rito, Oando and Bok.

The only independent petroleum marketer, Basaco filling station, which had fuel had long queues of motorists, despite selling at N195 per litre.

In contrast, the population of roadside petrol vendors, including women, particularly at night, has continued to grow.

A four litre gallon now attracts about N1,200 with the emergency vendors, despite complaints about the quality of such fuel and the impact on engines.

Despite the obvious risks consumers face using fuel bought from the illegal sources, officials of the regulatory authorities, the DPR, were nowhere to be found in most locations visited throughout Plateau State.

Regardless, head of the DPR field office in Plateau State, Jeremiah Mashat, said the agency recently sealed one filling station in Barkin ladi Local Government Area for selling petrol above government approved pump price.

In Abuja, Total and Azman filling stations along Sultan Abubakar Way in Wuse Zone 2 did not have fuel on Thursday.

The attendants at the Total filling station, who said they just ran out of products a few hours earlier, said they were expecting another truck.

At Azman, the attendants said the station last had fuel Thursday last week.

Although Total filling station at Wuse Zone 2 junction had fuel, a long queue of anxious motorists stretched almost down to Wuse market.

The story was the same at Oando filling station at Herbert Macaulay Way, off Sudan Street. Customers impatient due to the long queues could be seen lobbying, while black marketers were offering their products to potential buyers.

None of the filling stations within Berger axis had fuel. The few that had were chocked up with unending queues causing mild grid locks on the roads. All the stations visited still fixed pump price at N145.


In Kaduna State, only few filling stations belonging to major marketers in Kaduna metropolis sold at official N145 pump price, with long queues stretching into the distance.

Although Mobil filling station along Independence Way, which opened earlier in the day closed at about noon after exhausting its stock, anxious motorists continued to wait in queues outside the station in anticipation of the next supply.

“I will rather leave my vehicle in this queue, no matter how many days it takes for the next supply to come, because this is the only filling station in Kaduna that is reliable in terms of accurate gauge and orderliness,” a motorist told our correspondent.

At Oando, another major marketer’s filling station, located at Ungwan Sarki, fuel also sold at N145 per litre, with about 50 vehicles waiting on the queue.

“I have been on this queue for more than six hours, yet only three vehicles have been ahead of mine,” one of the motorists on the queue lamented.

“It’s so frustrating. The station attendants are doing business. They collect money and sell to those who are not on queue and black marketer operators with big jerry.”

At NIPCO filling station, Kawo, a truck was seen discharging petrol into the underground tanks, the first consignment for the week.

With many of the independent marketers’ filling stations without fuel, the number of those involved in black market fuel business on the streets kept increasing. A gallon of four litres sold for between N1,500 and N1,700 on Thursday.

Other independent filling stations along Ali Akilu Road, which claimed not to have products in the day time, were selling at night at about N220 per litre.

The National Financial Secretary and former Chairman, Petroleum Tanker Drivers, PTD, Gambo Tuge, advised the DPR to focus their monitoring on private depots, instead of filling stations.

“Many of these private depots in Lagos, Port Harcourt and Warri are the major factors that DPR should focus on. They are the ones hoarding millions of litres in their depots and not these petty filling stations that DPR is always invading.

“These depots have two accounts, they will ask for deposit of money for official price per litre in a separate account and give another account for extra money per litre they charge . So, how do you expect somebody who bought a litre at the rate of between N180-N200 to sell at official pump price?” he asked.


In Ondo and Ekiti, most filling stations sell above N145 per litre.

In Akure, the Ondo State capital, some of the marketers still sell between N190 and N200 per litre.

Sieve Petroleum located along Oda Road had been selling at N195 per litre, whereas Mercyway Petrol sells for N200.

However, Bovas and Oando in the township sell at N145, but there were long queues.

The situation remains the same in Ekiti, where only Bovas and NNPC mega stations sell at the normal price and were attracting very long queues.

In Osun, the situation is slightly different as most of the fuel stations sell at N145.

PREMIUM TIMES, however, learnt that some fuel stations collect additional money for every 10 litres purchased.

Mass burial in Nigeria for 73 killed in violence between herdsmen and farmers

Seventy-three people killed since the start of the year in communal violence between semi-nomadic herdsmen and farmers were buried in Nigeria on Thursday highlighting a bloody conflict over fertile land that is taking on political significance.

The mass burial took place in Makurdi, in the central state of Benue, where thousands of mourners took to the streets to watch the funeral procession. The killings occurred in remote parts of Benue, the state worst hit by clashes that have killed at least 83 people since Dec. 31.

Thousands of herdsmen mainly from the Fulani ethnic group have moved southwards in the last few years to flee spreading desertification in the north, putting pressure on dwindling fertile land amid rapid population growth.

The spike in violence has become increasingly political ahead of elections in February 2019 with critics of President Muhammadu Buhari, who is Fulani, accusing him of failing to get tough with the herdsmen.

Feelings ran high on the streets of Makurdi where thousands of people, many clad in black, waved wreaths as coffins on lorries passed by carrying the dead who were mainly from rural communities of Benue.

Some mourners held banners featuring pictures of victims and the words: “President act now: your people are killing us”.

“Something that is disturbing that I have heard about is linking those developments to the fact that a Fulani man is president and so, he is brooking such kind of evil acts,” said the president’s spokesman, Femi Adesina, this week, adding that such violence predated Buhari’s administration.

The herdsmen are mostly Muslim and the settled farmers are often Christian.

Despite the recent outbreaks of violence, Nigerians, split roughly equally between Christians and Muslims from around 250 different ethnic groups, mostly live peacefully together.

Clashes in the last few months have occurred in parts of the northwest and southeast, but the middle belt - where differing religious, ancestral and cultural differences frequently ignite conflict - has been worst hit in the latest flashpoints.

Peter Zion,31, a member of a state government task force set up to defend farms, was recuperating in hospital after being shot and cut across his face and torso by herdsmen wielding guns and cutlasses on Jan. 2 in the state’s Guma district.

“They killed some of my colleagues and the neighbors that were there all died,” said the father-of-two whose face had been cut and whose hands and legs were heavily bandaged. He described attackers going door-to-door shooting people.

The executive secretary of the Benue emergency agency, Emmanuel Shior, on Thursday said around 80,000 people who had fled herdsmen attacks were living in four camps located across the state.

Herdsmen traditionally roam freely across West Africa, entering and leaving Nigeria through porous borders with Benin, Niger and Cameroon. They have also accused Nigerian farmers of violent attacks in the last few years.

Improving security was a key promise in Buhari’s successful 2015 presidential election campaign. The 75-year-old has not yet said whether he will seek re-election next year.

“Security of life and property continues to be top of our agenda, in line with our election pledge and promises,” said Buhari in a tweet on Thursday, which linked to a list of ways in which the government has responded to the killings.

He bolstered the police presence in Benue on Monday and ordered the head of police to relocate to the state.

The violence is likely to further stretch security forces already contending with Boko Haram’s Islamist insurgency in the northeast and the threat of attacks on oil facilities in the southern Niger Delta of the type that in 2016 helped to push Africa’s largest economy into recession.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Video - Nigerians evacuated from Libya arrive home

Nigeria has begun evacuating its citizens trapped in Libya. Over 400 Nigerian returnee migrants have been flown into Port Harcourt. More are expected in the coming days. The Nigerian government is aiming to repatriate around 5,000 of its citizens from Libyan detention centres.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Video - 71 people killed in Benue State clashes

A total of 71 people have been killed following a week of violence in Nigeria's Benue state. According to authorities much of the violence involves clashes between Muslim cattle herders and Christian farmers. Muslim herdsmen, mainly of the Fulani ethnic group, and Christian farmers often clash over the use of land in remote areas of the Middle Belt region.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Video - Local Nigerian community says little achieved in conserving environment

In June 2016, the Nigerian Government launched a project to clean up the polluted Niger Delta area known as Ogoniland. Eighteen months on, the clean-up, has however left many community members wondering whether the launch was a political gimmick or a true effort at restoring the devastated land.

Video - Nigerians evacuated from Libya

Nigeria is flying out thousands of its citizens from Libya who face grave abuses such as rape and slavery as they attempt to reach Europe through the war-torn North African nation.

Large numbers of Nigerians have been trapped in Libya where they were trying to cross to Italy by sea, but were stopped by local armed factions and the Libyan coastguard.

Nigerian officials on a fact-finding mission to Libya expressed shock at what they saw and heard from victims.

"They talked about various abuse - systematic, endemic, and exploitation of all kinds," said Nigeria's Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama. "There were obviously interests that wanted to keep as many of them there as possible because they were commodities."

Al Jazeera's Ahmed Idris, reporting from the Libyan capital Tripoli, said Nigerians there told of abuses such as slavery, rape, imprisonment, and torture.

"These happened either in the hands of the authorities or people-smugglers," Idris said.

"The journey back home for them is a mixed bag. A lot of them are happy that they are free at last, but disappointed that many lost so much in this country and they are going back with nothing."

Thousands to be evacuated

Citizens of Nigeria, the most-populated country on the African continent, have been the largest group of migrants travelling to Libya to try and cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.

Nigeria's government said the rescue flights will continue for as long as necessary, estimating that about 5,500 people would be flown back to their country.

"If I'll die, I want to die in my country. I have suffered so much in the last few months after I left my great country of Nigeria," a migrant waiting to fly back home told Al Jazeera, warning others not to make the same mistake he made.

Another said he wanted to go to Italy when he reached Libya. "But now in this situation, I want to go back to my country."

The UN's International Organization for Migration said 171,635 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea during 2017, with nearly 70 percent arriving in Italy. The remainder were divided among Greece, Cyprus and Spain.

This compared with 363,504 arrivals during the same period in 2016, according to the agency.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Video - More than 670,000 Nigerians living in camps due to insurgency

The eight-year Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria's northeast has displaced around 2 million people, some in Nigeria and some overseas. The United Nations calls it one of the world's worst humanitarian crises. More than 670,000 of those people live in camps in Nigeria's northeast. Their story is one of despair and one that tell of a longing of returning to their home towns.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Video - More than 670,000 Nigerians living in camps due to insurgency

The eight-year Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria's northeast has displaced around 2 million people, some in Nigeria and some overseas. The United Nations calls it one of the world's worst humanitarian crises. More than 670,000 of those people live in camps in Nigeria's northeast. Their story is one of despair and one that tell of a longing of returning to their home towns. Leslie Mirungu reports.

Nigeria to buy 2 satellites from China for $550 million

Nigeria has agreed a $550-million deal to buy two Chinese communications satellites and hopes to sign the contract before the end of the month, the communication minister said on Wednesday.

Adebayo Shittu said China Exim Bank and the manufacturer, China Great Wall, have agreed to pay for the new satellites after Nigeria renegotiated an earlier deal that had required it to cover 15 percent of the cost.

“This is a very big business opportunity ... which is ... why they have agreed that even without our ability to contribute 15 percent they are prepared to pay the entire sum of $550 million for the procurement of the two new satellites for Nigeria,” Shittu told reporters in the capital Abuja.

He said the satellite will be launched after a two-year production period starting from when the paperwork is signed.

The minister said the funds were not a loan but the Chinese company will take an equity stake in Nigcomsat, a limited liability company owned the Nigerian government and responsible for managing satellite communications.

Both parties will agree on a percentage share, Shittu said, adding that Nigeria “has nothing to lose because we are not putting anything into it in terms of financial resources.”

Shittu said the Chinese would help market satellite communication services to other African countries which would compete with current providers from Israel, Britain and the United States.

“The first thing is that we want to make a profit, we want to capture the local market and we also want to capture the African market,” he said.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Video - Surviving captivity under Boko Haram

Nigeria's military says more than 700 people held hostage by the armed group Boko Haram have managed to escape. Al Jazeera visited the region in northeast Nigeria where people have been living in the shadow of Boko Haram. While there, we met with former captives, and the families of people still held hostage by the armed group. Al Jazeera's Catherine Soi reports from Madagali, northeast Nigeria.

Suicide bomber attacks mosque in Borno, Nigeria

A suicide attacker blew himself up Wednesday during dawn prayers at a mosque in the Nigerian town of Gamboru in Borno state.

Officials confirmed at least 11 people were killed and the mosque was reduced to rubble.

"Only the muezzin has survived and we believe more bodies are buried under the debris," Umar Kachalla, a civilian militiaman, told the news agency AFP. "The death toll may likely rise."

It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the bombing, but Boko Haram is active in the area and often uses suicide bombers to attack public places like mosques and markets.

The extremist group has also stepped up its attacks in Borno state in recent months, particularly around the regional capital Maiduguri — the birthplace of its Islamist insurgency.

'We carried out these attacks'

On Tuesday, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau released a video message claiming responsibility for a series of attacks across Nigeria's northeast over the Christmas period.

On Saturday, 25 people were killed outside Maiduguri, while four civilians were killed in an attack in the city last week.

"We carried out the attacks in Maiduguri, in Gamboru, in Damboa," Shekau said. "We carried out all these attacks."

In November, at least 50 people were killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up at a mosque in Adamawa state.

Ongoing struggle

The extremist group has killed around 20,000 people and displaced more than 2.6 million since launching an Islamist insurgency in Nigeria's northeast in 2009.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said in his New Year address that Boko Haram had largely been "beaten."

But despite losing territory to Nigerian troops, the jihadi group's fighters have continued to stage attacks on military convoys and towns, as well as carry out cross border raids into Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Video - Recession, inflation make for a difficult year 2017 for Nigeria

2017 been a topsy-turvy year for the Nigerian economy. Reeling from the effects of recession and record inflation rate coupled with severe foreign exchange shortages, Nigerians had it tough in 2017. The economy is now out of recession and on the path of growth, albeit very slowly. But people are more optimistic. Here is Deji Badmus with a highlight of what Africa's largest economy has been through this year.

Video - Nigerian entrepreneur makes dessert themed bath, body products

Blondie Okpuzor makes BathKandy - a handcrafted, food-inspired, bath and body store in Nigeria. The skincare range is made from natural and organic ingredients that target common skin problems and the products are moulded in the shape and look of cupcakes, chocolate bars, lollipops and doughnuts.

Gunmen attack church on New Years eve in Nigeria - 14 reported dead

Gunmen killed at least 14 churchgoers returning from midnight services on Monday in Nigeria’s Rivers State, a police source said, after the latest violence to hit the oil-rich region.

“The gunmen opened fire on a set of worshippers at about 12.30am on Monday,” said Ugochi Olugbo, a relative of one of the victims who were attending a New Year’s Eve service.

The Nigeria Independent reported gunmen operated at two different locations, the Kirigani and Oboh axis of Aligu, Omoku, in a coordinated attack on Christians returning from church services.

“Fourteen persons died on the spot, while 12 who sustained gunshot wounds were rushed to the hospital and are receiving medical attention,” said a police source who asked to remain anonymous.

Rivers State police public relations officer Nnamdi Omoni could not confirm the number of casualties. “The commissioner of police, Ahmed Zaki, has also launched a manhunt for the bandits to ensure they are arrested and prosecuted,” Omoni said.

“The deputy commissioner of police in charge of operation and other tactical heads have been mobilised there to restore peace.”