Thursday, May 31, 2018

Video - President Buhari urges Super Eagles to make Nigeria proud at 2018 World Cup

Nigeria's team have met President Muhammadu Buhari. He's wished the Super Eagles good luck, urging them to make Nigerians proud in Russia. The three-time African champions are taking part in the global football showpiece for the sixth time.

Video - Nigerian activists question state's capacity to protect communities

Nigerians have been converging in major cities across the country to mourn thousands of people killed over the past few years. The clashes -- linked to grazing rights and dwindling fertile land -- have raised questions about the government's capacity to protect communities and their property.

Poland to extradite Nigerian to U.S. for $7m online fraud

A yet-to-be identified 27 year-old Nigerian is awaiting extradition by Poland to the United States over an estimated $7m cybercrime.

The Nigerian was arrested by Poland’s police in the southwestern city of Wroclaw in connection with alleged cyberfraud and extortion done over the internet.

The Police Central Bureau of Investigation said in a communique Wednesday that the Nigerian was nabbed as a result of cooperation with the FBI and Interpol, which had circulated a warrant for him. The police raid took him by surprise, the communique said. The man is suspected of banking fraud, extortion and theft of online banking access data.

Human traffickers plan to sell Nigerian women for sex at World Cup in Russia

Human traffickers are planning to exploit relaxed Russian visa controls for next month’s World Cup to sell Nigerian women into sex work, state officials and anti-slavery activists said.

Officials in Nigeria said they had intelligence showing plans were well underway to traffic local women into Russia for the football tournament, exploiting a move by Moscow to let spectators enter the country with just a ticket and a fan pass.

“This is a real present for traffickers,” said Julia Siluyanova of Russian anti-slavery group Alternativa.

She said Russia’s strict visa process had typically made trafficking people into the nation time-consuming and costly and the eased visa rules had now left the system open to abuse.

Many women and girls have been lured from Nigeria in recent years with promises of work and good wages only to end up trapped in debt bondage, and the World Cup could see the number of victims arriving in Russia soar, according to Alternativa.

“We discovered that about 30 victims (Nigerian women) were brought to the Confederations Cup in Moscow last year ... we expect to face the same problem during the World Cup this year,” Siluyanova told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by email.

Visa-free entry was trailed at the Confederations Cup and will apply to the entire World Cup, which runs in 11 Russian cities from June 14 to July 15, and the ten days either side.


Nigeria’s anti-trafficking agency NAPTIP said it had received intelligence that human traffickers were planning to take advantage of the tournament, and that it was working with the Russian embassy in the capital of Abuja to tackle the issue.

“If we alert Nigerians, we disrupt them (traffickers) ... and let them know that these plans are in the works,” said Arinze Orakwu, head of public enlightenment at NAPTIP.

NAPTIP was unable to say how many women were trafficked into Russia, but an official in Nigeria’s Edo state said it was sizeable.

“Women are being trafficked to Russia, and we get returnees back from Russia,” said Yinka Omorogbe, head of Edo’s anti-trafficking task force. “It is not a frequent destination in the same way as Italy is, but we do get a pretty large number.”

Thousands of Nigerian women and girls are lured to Europe each year, making the treacherous sea crossing from Libya to Italy, and trafficked into sex work, the United Nations says.

The number of female Nigerians arriving in Italy by boat surged to more than 11,000 in 2016 from 1,500 in 2014, with at least four in five of them forced into prostitution, according to data from the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

A spokesman for football’s governing body FIFA said it was committed to ensuring human rights were respected, but that crimes such as human trafficking were the responsibility of local and international authorities.

The Russian government could not be reached for comment.

From the Olympics to the Super Bowl, big sporting events regularly trigger warnings over an influx of sex workers, many of whom are victims of modern slavery, yet experts are split on whether such spectacles actively fuel trafficking.

President Buhari to reduce minimum age to seek political office in Nigeria to 35

The campaign to reduce the age limit to seek political office in Nigeria is finally about to bear fruit.

On Tuesday (May 29), during a national address to mark “Democracy Day,” president Muhammadu Buhari, 75, confirmed he will assent a bill to reduce the age limits across political offices, including the presidency. Passed by Nigerian lawmakers in July 2017, the “Not Too Young To Run” bill will reduce the presidential age limit from 40 to 35 and, for governorship positions, from 35 to 30. The move is timely too: polls show that Nigerians will prefer to vote for a younger president during next year’s elections.

While lowering the age limit is one thing, getting into political office is quite another and will likely be an arduous journey for young Nigerians. Some of the major hurdles they will have to overcome include the high cost of political campaigns and maneuvering “old boy” establishment networks. But there are numerous advantages to having young people in decision-making positions, chief among them being the formulation and implementation of policies that reflect their generation’s aspirations.

Beyond Nigeria, age limits are a common barrier to young people seeking political office in Africa as only six countries—Guinea, Uganda, Kenya, Mozambique, eSwatini and South Africa—have the same minimum age limit for voting and seeking office, according to the International Parliamentary Union (IPU). While only 2% of lawmakers(pdf p.7) globally are under the age of 30 even though 51% of the world’s population is under 30, in Africa, the mean stands at 1.2% (pdf p.9). Indeed, high age limits are one reason to explain the reality of old presidents on a continent that is home to the world’s ten youngest countries and with a median age of 19.5.

The success of the “Not Too Young To Run” campaign in Nigeria caps a wave of youth-led advocacy across the continent alongside campaigns such as #FeesMustFall in South Africa and #DumsorMustStop in Ghana. And it’s not just a thing in Africa: last year, Oxford Dictionaries picked “Youthquake”—defined as “a significant cultural, political or social change arising from the actions or influence of young people”—as the word of the year.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Video - Nigerians risk lives to reach Europe

Despite the inherent dangers and high death toll, African migrants are still trying to reach Europe via the Mediterranean. Looking at Nigeria alone, more than 7,000 of its citizens have been deported from Libya in recent months. CGTN's Deji Badmus has been speaking to one of the migrants who was detained in Libya for some insight into why people are are still braving the odds.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Video - Nigeria held to 1-1 draw with Congo in international friendly

World Cup-bound Nigeria conceded a late penalty and were held to a 1-1 draw by the Democratic Republic of Congo in a friendly in Port Harcourt planned to give them a fitting send-off to next month's tournament in Russia.

Nigeria, who head to Europe to continue their preparations with a game against England on Saturday, took a 15th-minute lead through Dutch-born defender William Troost Ekong.

But they gave away a spot-kick in the 78th minute which striker Ben Malomgo converted for the equaliser.

Nigeria will also play a friendly against the Czech Republic before they head to Russia, where they face Croatia, Iceland and Argentina in Group D.

'This is Nigeria' music video goes viral

One of Nigeria's biggest music stars, Falz, released a video this weekend as a cover version of Childish Gambino's viral video, 'This is America.'

The new version is titled 'This is Nigeria,' and it has generated a storm online, including a reaction from hip-hop musician and entrepreneur Diddy, who shared it on his Instagram page, propelling the video to worldwide recognition.

Falz, (real name Folarin Falana) has gained plaudits for tackling social ills in a country where pop stars rarely get political. Musicians tend to avoid political commentary, partly due to an ingrained fear of persecution from the powerful political class.

Revolutionary spirit
Falz's 'This is Nigeria,' embodies the revolutionary and rebel spirit of Fela Anikulapo Kuti before him. Fela Kuti, the pioneer of the Afrobeat genre, was famous for his political activism during the country's era of military dictatorships.

From his records 'International Thief Thief' (ITT) to 'Zombie,' Kuti exhibited a bold defiance against the Nigerian government and other corrupt officials of his time. Fela was a raging supporter of human rights, and his records, - often filled with verbal attacks - were against Nigeria's military government in the 70's. 

It came at a great personal cost to him; he was frequently imprisoned and his mother was thrown off a balcony by an unknown Nigerian soldier during a raid.

After the passing of Fela, his sons Femi and Seun Kuti have carried on some of his activism in their individual music careers, but Afrobeat, as a genre of music has largely become niche. 

Falz is known globally for his comedy-flavored hip hop hits but could he take on the political music mantle and fill the gap left by Fela?

The singer has a law degree and is the son of prominent Nigerian lawyer and human rights activist, Femi Falana, so this suggestion is not as far-fetched as it sounds.
It is also not the first time that the rapper has included social commentary in his music with previous hits 'Confirm' and 'Child of the World,' so it would appear that the apple does not fall far from the tree, as the saying goes.

Complacent slumber
While the concept for the 'This is Nigeria,' video isn't original, what Falz did was internalize the message, pass it through his own artistic filter and bring it home to Nigeria to highlight the country's numerous social ills. 

Almost as if to awaken Nigerians from their complacent slumber of acceptance. 

"The primary motivation was to trigger an awakening among the Nigerian people about the numerous political and social ills that we constantly face as a country. And more importantly to spark a reaction in the positive direction," says Falz via email.

With the help of stuntmen and extras, Falz walks us step by step through Nigeria's major problems, central to this is what many perceive to be inefficient leadership by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Many believe he has failed to deliver on its promises of improving Nigerian lives and fixing the economy. which slid into a recession two years ago and is slowly starting to emerge out of it.
Nigeria is awash with petrodollars but much of this money does not trickle down to the average man and woman on the street. According to the World Poverty Clock, 82 million of the 180 million population (42.4 percent), live in extreme poverty. 

Other problems include the country's opioid crisis, normalization of insecurity such as frequent Boko Haram bombings and kidnapping of schoolgirls such as the Chibok girls. 

Added to this incendiary mix is the country's strained ethnic and tribal relations, a lack of dependable power supply, poor infrastructure, a trigger-happy police force, the popularity of advance fee fraud, (locally known as Yahoo boys) and exploitation of the citizenry by some clergymen.

A national mirror
The first thing you notice when you watch Falz's 'This is Nigeria,' video is the strongest message contained in the video; Nigeria is a lawless country, guided by a constitution that is treated like an honorary document. 

That's why the first man, dressed in traditional Fulani attire would switch from being a happy musician minding his business, to a murderer in an instant. He abandons his Goje (popularly known as the 'Hausa Guitar) for a machete, and instantly moves towards another helpless citizen who he kills without mercy.

It is this type of imagery that makes the video so powerful. 

This is the first time in the recent history of the local pop scene that an artist with the influence and credibility of Falz has released such material. 

While many commentators in the local space have been quick to dismiss it on the basis of it being a cover version, it doesn't take away from the core message; Nigeria is a flawed country, with multi-faceted problems. 

Falz captures this using cinematic techniques and concludes, just like the source material, by failing to proffer a solution.

Perhaps that is the point he's trying to make. It is a national mirror, created to make Nigeria stare at itself and its problems, one more time.

Falz's 'This is Nigeria' video and its impact has generated conversations around the world, and acts as a reminder of the power behind music, and how it can be used more effectively to inspire change.
It shows that contrary to popular opinion among local talents, there is a demand for conscious music.

Capturing their pain
Many musicians should follow his lead, and create art to reflect the times and the pulse of the people. While there are valid opinions against chasing activism as the sole focus of African music, the ability to balance it out, and create conscious music, while also feeding the people's desire to escape is a crucial skill.

Falz's video suggests that, as Nigeria moves forward, its musicians have a huge responsibility on their shoulders to create art that amplifies the state of the nation, and ultimately improves the society that nurtured them. 

Their music is created for communities that are massively affected by these problems.
Ultimately, it shouldn't only provide leisurely relief. It should capture their pain too.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Video - Nigeria to play DR Congo as part of World Cup preparations

The Nigerian Super Eagles will be taking on the Democratic Republic of Congo in a friendly match on Monday in the southern Nigerian city of Port Harcourt. The match will help Nigeria prepare for the 2018 World Cup, being held in Russia in a few weeks time. It will also afford Coach, Gernort Rhor, the opportunity to prune down his provisional squad for the global tournament.

Nigeria plans to get serious on income tax collection

Paying income tax used to be a joke in Nigeria which, no wonder, has the worst tax to GDP ratio in sub-Saharan Africa.

As one banking executive put it: “In Nigeria, the government pretends to tax people and people pretend to pay. That’s the Nigerian social contract.” But these days it’s no laughing matter, as an ambitious government scheme designed to make the executive class pay up draws to a close.

Millions of people for the first time are now coughing up taxes as President Muhammadu Buhari’s government conducts one of the country’s most vigorous collection drives in years. The money is desperately needed. Widening Nigeria’s tax base will help boost non-oil revenue in Africa’s largest economy, which is limping out of its worst recession in 25 years. And Nigeria has a long way to go. Its current tax-to-gross domestic product ratio is just 5.9%, according to the International Monetary Fund.

In Lagos alone, there are 6,800 millionaires and 360 multi-millionaires, according to a 2017 report by AfrAsia Bank. But top earners hardly lead by example.

In 2016, just 241 people paid more than 20 million naira ($55,600, 47,400 euros) in personal income taxes, the Nigerian finance ministry reported.

It’s not hard to see why Nigerians would be reluctant to pay tax to fund public services, when there has been no visible return.

Infrastructure in most cities is disintegrating. Roads between states are crumbling. People pay for their own electricity and water.

Endemic corruption is partly to blame, said the Emir of Kano Muhammadu Sanusi II, one of Nigeria’s leading Islamic figures who served as central bank governor in the previous administration.

“Improving transparency and public financial management is critical to improving revenues,” he said this week at a meeting of the African Development Bank Group in South Korea. “Make sure the taxes actually get into the government’s pockets and you don’t have all these leakages.”

Though difficult, tax reform isn’t impossible in Nigeria.

Lagos state, home to the country’s commercial capital, has successfully mobilised a tax base whose contributions represent over a third of internally generated revenue collected in all Nigeria’s 36 states, said transparency organisation BudgIT. That has allowed it to finance a growing number of projects, including a cable-stayed bridge linking the upmarket neighbourhoods of Ikoyi and Lekki that is now a city landmark.
Buhari, who is seeking re-election at polls next February, wants to double the tax-to-GDP ratio by 2020.

To do that, his finance minister Kemi Adeosun has followed in the footsteps of Turkey and Indonesia and launched a tax amnesty programme.

The Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) has a two-part strategy.

First, it offers Nigerians a period of grace to regularise their tax affairs or else face a prison term of up to five years, financial penalties and possible forfeiture of assets.
Second, it uses data to link land registry records and tax receipts to root out defaulters.

The government enlisted the help of international asset recovery firm Kroll to troll bureau de change networks, WikiLeaks and even the Panama Papers to identify negligent high net worth individuals.

The programme was launched in June last year, with the government declaring every Thursday “tax awareness day“.

Tax officers were stationed at airports and a massive digital billboard advertising of the scheme flashed over the Lekki bridge toll gate in Lagos — a not-so-subtle threat to the denizens of the affluent suburb. In May, Adeosun — a former chartered accountant and auditor with PricewaterhouseCoopers in London — said Nigeria’s tax base had risen from 14-million people in 2016 to 19 million in 2018.

But Adeosun’s promise to “name, shame and prosecute” defaulters lost some bite after the government pushed back the closing date by three months, from March 31 to June 30.

Still, those familiar with the programme say that it is well on track to deliver on its target of more than one billion dollars.

That amount may be modest but it’s a step in the right direction, said Yomi Olugbenro, West Africa tax specialist at Deloitte in Lagos. There’s something to be said for launching the scheme, which “definitely has more people talking about taxation“, he said. The key is to make sure the amnesty programme is built upon in the future and isn’t just a once-off windfall. Otherwise Nigerians will revert to old habits.

“It’s a chicken and egg thing,” Olugbenro said. “The government will tell you, ‘We need the money to provide all things that aren’t there’. “Taxpayers are saying, ‘I need to be convinced’.”

Friday, May 25, 2018

Video - Bata's entry to the shoe market in Nigeria

It may be Africa's most populous country, and home to its one of its largest economies, but the global shoemaker Bata is not keen on investing in local manufacturing plant in Nigeria. That's according to the company's Chief Marketing Officer, Thomas Bata. The company had production hubs in Kenya and South Africa, which can produce at least 30 million pairs of shoes, each year. Here he is explaining the firm's approach to the West African economy.

Video - Conflict in northern Nigeria partly linked to climate change

The African Union's Peace and Security Council is due to discuss the link between climate change and conflict in Africa. The problem's particularly acute in Nigeria, and has been blamed for the growing deadly conflict between herders and farmers, in recent months.

Survivors of Boko Haram starved and raped by Nigerian military

Shortly after Halima* arrived at a displacement camp in northeast Nigeria, a soldier approached her offering chicken and yams. Halima recognised him as one of the men who had beaten her husband and taken him into detention. For days, she had barely eaten so she accepted the food out of desperation. When the soldier returned demanding sex in exchange for the food, Halima was too scared to say "no".

"The soldiers are kings. When you see them, everybody is afraid", said Halima, who arrived at the Bama Hospital camp in late 2015. "They decide, they say nobody should complain. So, I did what he wanted."

Halima is one of thousands of women who, after surviving the brutal rule of the armed group Boko Haram, found themselves trapped in a nightmarish system of sexual violence and exploitation at the hands of the Nigerian military.

A new report by Amnesty International, "They Betrayed Us", documents the plight of women who were forced from their homes, separated from their husbands and confined to remote "satellite camps" in the northeast of Nigeria.

With hunger rife in the camps, military personnel and the militia members working with them used their authority and access to food and other basic necessities to coerce women into sex, which amounts to rape under international law. The soldiers sometimes used force if the women resisted.

Hauwa* told us she was raped on several occasions by a militia member after arriving at Bama Hospital Camp. She described being hemmed in by sexual violence and starvation.

"I arrived with 130 other women and children [in early 2016]. Hunger and thirst [killed] 58 from our group in the first four months," Hauwa said.

"You'll see a military man with food in the hand and he'd say, 'If you like me, take this food'. If you accept the food, later, he'd come back to you to have intercourse. If you refuse, he'd rape you [using physical force]."

Amnesty International has collected evidence that thousands of people have starved to death in these camps, mostly in late 2015 and in 2016. Almost half of the women we spoke to in one camp, Bama Hospital camp, said that one or more of their children had died.

While the daily deaths have now abated as humanitarian assistance has scaled up, many women are still restricted from leaving the camps and sometimes go days without food. In these conditions, sexual exploitation has thrived.

Since 2012, when Boko Haram started attacking civilians in northeast Nigeria, Amnesty International has repeatedly denounced abuses carried out by the armed group, which has committed massacres, launched car bomb and gun attacks in cities and abducted thousands of people.

But the crimes committed by Boko Haram must not blind the outside world to the widespread abuses carried out by the Nigerian military, which is responsible for arbitrary detention, torture and thousands of unlawful killings.

Rape and sexual violence are just one of the numerous injustices women have faced at the hands of the military. They described their villages being burned down in military operations and being ordered to leave, and being starved and beaten in the camps while their husbands and sons were detained.

Treated with suspicion by soldiers simply because they lived under Boko Haram's control, hundreds of women and girls were also detained and transferred to military detention facilities such as the Giwa barracks, where Amnesty International has documented the deaths of at least 37 women and children since 2015 due to the appalling conditions.

"They asked us women where our husbands were, then they flogged us with sticks. They beat my children and said they are Boko Haram children ... I was pregnant at the time," said 25-year-old Zara, who spent two years in Giwa barracks with her children, and gave birth unassisted in an overcrowded cell.

Some women detained for being so-called "Boko Haram wives" told us that they had been abducted by the armed group and forcibly married to a member. During subsequent military interrogations, they were beaten into silence as they tried to explain this to the soldiers.

For too long, Nigeria's allies - including the United States and the UK - have been content to condemn the terrible crimes committed by Boko Haram while giving the Nigerian military a free pass. Even UN humanitarian agencies working on the ground, where abuses are often committed in plain sight, have done little to challenge the confinement of women to militarised camps and the outrageous levels of sexual violence perpetrated by security forces within them.

Last year, the acting president of Nigeria, Yemi Osinbajo, established a Presidential Investigation Panel to review the army's compliance with human rights obligations, but so far there has been no action and the situation for women in the camps remains bleak.

Yet, against all odds, these women bravely continue their fight for justice including the return of their husbands and sons. In September 2017, hundreds of displaced women lined the streets waiting to tell their stories to the president's investigation panel. They had drawn up lists of their loved ones in detention, or of those who died in the camps.

As one of these women told us, "This has happened to us. It cannot be undone now. But the government should recognise it. They should know how we suffered and how we died. They should make sure it does not happen again."

* Names were changed to protect the women' identities.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Video - Nigeria awards rail construction contract to Chinese company

The Nigerian government has awarded a six-point-seven billion dollar contract to the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation. This is for work on a major segment of a railway linking the country's commercial hub Lagos and Kano in the north. When completed, the line is expected to effectively link the country's south to the north via rail and boost commercial activities.

Nigerian army accused of raping women rescued from Boko Haram

Women and girls who have fled terrorist group Boko Haram are being raped by Nigerian soldiers, starved and forced to exchange food for sex, according to claims in a new report by human rights group Amnesty International. 

Thousands of these women have died because of lack of food in camps for internally displaced people in Nigeria's northeast after they were rescued from Boko Haram, Amnesty says.
In the report titled "They betrayed us," it is alleged that five women said they were raped by soldiers in late 2015 and early 2016 in a displacement camp in Bama, Borno state.

'Boko Haram wives'
Women interviewed by Amnesty said they were beaten and called "Boko Haram wives" by security officials whenever they complained about their treatment. 

The report says that members of the Nigerian military and a local vigilante group Civilian Joint Task Force (Civilian JTF) "separated women from their husbands and confined them in remote 'satellite camps' where they were raped, sometimes in exchange for food."

Ten women in the Bama camp told Amnesty they were forced to date security officials to get food. One woman said a member of the JTF vigilante group raped her after he brought her food, telling her: "I gave you these things, if you want them, we have to be husband and wife." 

"Sex in these highly coercive circumstances is always rape, even when physical force is not used, and Nigerian soldiers and civilian JTF members have been getting away it," Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria said. 

"They act like they don't risk sanction, but the perpetrators and their superiors who have allowed this to go unchallenged have committed crimes under international law and must be held to account."

Deadly terror group
Boko Haram, described as the third deadliest terror group by the Global Terrorism Index, has unleashed waves of brutal attacks across parts of northern Nigeria, bombing schools, churches and mosques and kidnapping women and children in a conflict that spans nearly a decade. 

The conflict has killed thousands of people and also internally displaced two million people, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre.

However, the Nigerian army claims it has technically defeated Boko Haram and retaken territories seized by the militant group in the northeast.

Members of its troops recently rescued 1,000 hostages, mostly women and children, from the militant's camps in Borno State, it said.

Hundreds of women along with their children have been held in overcrowded centers in northern Nigeria since 2015.

Amnesty said it had collected evidence that thousands of people have starved to death in displacement camps since 2015.

In the report, the women alleged that 15 to 30 people died each day between 2015 and 2016 due to lack of food in these camps.

The human rights group said satellite images of an expanding graveyard in one of the camps during the time confirmed their testimonies. 

In a 2016 report, another rights group, Human Rights Watch, said it had documented 43 cases of sexual violence against women by soldiers in displacement camps in northern Nigeria, forcing the Nigeria government to investigate.

Nigerian army spokesman John Agim denied the allegations in the Amnesty report, branding them "propaganda." 

He said the army hasn't been deployed to displacement camps, which he said are run by the police, local vigilante groups and NGOs. "I wonder where Amnesty interviewed women who said they saw soldiers in these camps hoarding food and raping women?" Agim asked.

Agim accused the human rights group of republishing claims that had been investigated by the Nigerian government and had been found to be false. 

"Amnesty wrote the same allegations in a report in 2015 and it was investigated then and found not to be true. Why are they presenting them in 2018 after investigations? It is all propaganda and when they continue to propagate these reports, it assumes the property of truth when its not refuted," Agim told CNN.

"Amnesty does not want our war against terrorism to finish; the Nigerian military maintains this position," he said. "Their reports on human right violations is to stop the selling of weapons to the Nigerian military by the American government and others and that approach is not working."
"The Nigerian army just rescued 1,000 Boko Haram captives, that is a good development, why is it not reflected in the report if they are being fair?" Agim added.

Broken promises
For it's part, Amnesty said there has been "no tangible action to address the problem and no one appeared to have been brought to justice," despite promises by the Nigerian government to investigate reports of alleged abuse in these camps since 2015.

"It is absolutely shocking that people who had already suffered so much under Boko Haram have been condemned to further horrendous abuse by the Nigerian military," Amnesty's Ojigho, said. 

The organization called on the Nigerian government to make public the findings from a panel investigating the military's compliance with human rights provisions set up by Vice President Yemi Osibanjo.

Many women had testified before the panel whose report was submitted to Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari in February, the human rights group said.

"Now is the time for President Buhari to demonstrate his frequently expressed commitment to protect the human rights of displaced people in north-east Nigeria. The only way to end these horrific violations is by ending the climate of impunity in the region and ensuring that no one can get away with rape or murder," Ojigho added. 

"The Nigerian authorities must investigate or make public their previous investigations on war crimes and crimes against humanity in the northeast," she added.

'Lacking credibility'
The Nigerian government told CNN the military had found cases of abuse in these camps during the period mentioned in Amnesty's report in 2015, countering the army spokesman's claims that the allegations were investigated and found not to be true.

"Over this period of time, the Nigerian military had indeed established cases of abuse and punishments meted out from orderly room trials and court martials that included the losses of rank, dismissals, and trials and convictions by civil courts," Garba Shehu, a spokesman for the president, told CNN.

However, Shehu echoed the Army spokesman's claims and accused Amnesty of "recycling" claims from a previous report. 

Amnesty's report lacked "credibility, falling vehemently short of evidential narration," from victims by failing to address mechanisms put in place by the military and the president's panel after similar allegations were published in 2015, he said. 

The Nigerian government was committed to investigating "all documented cases of human rights abuses," Shehu added.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Nigeria's Ogoniland residence desperate for clean water

In the Ogoni region, 90 percent of the underground water is not fit for human use because of oil pollution. A big clean-up is under way in Ogoniland, but local communities say they have already become victims of water contamination.

Video - Rising debt in Nigeria

The International Monetary Fund has warned The financial body attributes the risk to heavy borrowing and gaping deficits despite overall economic growth. The assessment comes as African countries continue to tap international debt markets and issue record levels of debt in foreign currencies, spurred on by insatiable investor demand for yields. 

According to the IMF's findings, African governments issued a record 7.5 billion dollars in sovereign bonds last year - which is 10 times more than in 2016 - and they plan to issue over $11 billion dollars in additional debt in the first half of 2018 alone.

Bodo villages dispute with Shell over oil spills in Nigeria back in UK court

Lawyers for the Bodo community in Nigeria’s oil-producing Niger Delta, which was devastated by two major oil spills a decade ago, went to court in London on Tuesday to fend off what they said was an attempt by Shell to kill off their litigation.

The Bodo oil spills have been the subject of years of legal wrangling. In 2015, Shell accepted liability for the spills, agreeing to pay 55 million pounds ($83 million at the time) to Bodo villagers and to clean up their lands and waterways.

Oil spills, sometimes due to vandalism, sometimes to corrosion, are common in the Niger Delta, a vast maze of creeks and mangrove swamps criss-crossed by pipelines and blighted by poverty, pollution, oil-fuelled corruption and violence.

The spills have had a catastrophic impact on many communities where people have no other water supply than the creeks and rely on farming and fishing for survival.

At the same time, oil companies have run into problems trying to clean up spills, sometimes because of obstruction and even violence by local gangs trying to extract bigger payouts, or to obtain clean-up contracts.

After years of delays, the clean-up in Bodo is currently underway and litigation in the London High Court is stayed, or on hold.

Lawyers for SPDC, the Nigerian arm of Shell, argued on Tuesday that the litigation should be struck off in October 2018, or at the latest a year later, and that it should only be re-activated if SPDC failed to comply with its obligation to pay for the clean-up.

Lawyers for the Bodo community said that was unacceptable, because the clean-up could go wrong for any number of reasons and that under Shell’s proposal the villagers would be left without the recourse of going back to court.

“The effect of what Shell is trying to do is to kill off the case,” said Dan Leader, the Bodo community’s lead lawyer, on the sidelines of the hearing. “It’s only because of the pressure of litigation that the clean-up is getting back on track.”

But Shell’s lawyers, citing an earlier judgment, compared the stayed litigation to a “gun in the cupboard” that the Bodo community’s lawyers wanted to be able to hold to Shell’s head at their convenience, for years on end.

They said the litigation was a hindrance to the clean-up because it gave some local community members the impression that there was still the possibility of a bigger payout, incentivising them to block the clean-up rather than cooperate.

“The previous persistent delays to the clean-up process clearly demonstrate that litigating Nigerian oil spill cases in the English courts does little to resolve the complex underlying security and community issues which can frustrate attempts to clean up areas impacted by oil pollution,” an SPDC spokeswoman said.

“We hope that the community will continue to grant the access needed for clean-up to progress as planned.”

A judgment on the litigation issues is expected on Friday.

Leaked audio - Nigerian Professor gives student ultimatum of sex or fail

When Monica Osagie got low marks in a course for her master's degree, she says the professor gave her two options: Sleep with him, or fail the class.

Faced with this stark choice, Osagie says she knew no one would believe her word against the lecturer's, so she recorded one of their conversations using a cell phone app.
The audio recording was leaked online and went viral on social media. Osagie says she did not leak it but had submitted it to university authorities before it surfaced online.

The student's allegations, coming amid the conversations around the global #Metoo movement, have now sparked a nationwide conversation in Nigeria about predatory sexual behavior on campuses and bolstered the notion that sexual harassment is a problem women the world over face almost every day.

In the recording, a man can be heard saying that if the student agreed to have sex with him five times, he would improve her grades.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Video- Nigerian doctors' strike cripples service delivery in public hospitals

A strike by Nigerian health workers is in its fourth week with no end in sight. It's crippled service delivery in government hospitals. The health ministry has now directed managers to start an attendance register, and staff who don't turn up for their shifts could be penalized. Employees across the healthcare sector are calling for higher salaries and improved working conditions.

Medical doctor turned hacker says hacking into Nigerian banks is very easy

A medical doctor turned international hacker, who has been on the Police wanted list, Michael Thompson Williams, has been arrested by the Lagos State Police Command.

Michael, who boasted of his escapades as a hacker, took a swipe at the Nigerian banking system, describing it as the easiest to hack, including government-owned account.

The 28-year-old suspect mentioned an American leading Hollywood actor, John Travolta, as one of his prey, revealing that his (Travolta) account was being monitored through a programmed device, where cash running into millions of US dollars were diverted weekly.

During preliminary investigation, it was discovered that the suspect, who has mastery of the cyber café environment, created credit cards of deceased foreigners through cyber Ghost 12. When the credit cards matures, it would be funded through a hacked Swiss account and then any transaction done by genuine accounts owner through Swiss account would be manipulated by the suspect and wired to his contrived credit card. 

Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Imohimi Edgal, paraded the suspect before journalists yesterday. After a successful transaction, the suspect as gathered would buy posh cars, sending fake alerts to the owners. The bubble burst in March after he bought a Porche car worth N28 million from a car dealer in Lagos and sent him a fake alert before making away with the car. 

However, on getting to the bank to collect the money, the car dealer, Abidogun Adewale, discovered to his shock that no amount was paid. Asked how that was possible, the suspect said he used to send such fake alert. 

He disclosed that during such payment, the amount would appear on the seller’s account at that moment, even if he visited his bank to confirm the payment, adding that it would disappear after one hour. Three of the vehicles he bought through such process were traced to Asaba, Delta State, and Owerri, Imo State. The number plates on the three vehicles read HRM OGUEZI 1, II and III, respectively.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Video - Nigeria Dambe Boxing

And now to something that's not your usual boxing format, at least not following the usual rules of amateur or professional boxing. And it's not for the fainthearted either.

Changing tactics of Boko Haram in Nigeria

In West Africa, the Nigerian military is warning about the changing tactics of the militant group, Boko Haram. The group now seems to be targeting elderly members of society for its suicide attack missions. Earlier this week, a senior male citizen, suspected of being a member of Boko Haram, detonated an explosive device killing himself and three other people.

Video - Nigeria chief coach Salisu confident of good show in 2018 FIFA World Cup

The Nigerian national football will play their last friendly match at home to the Democratic Republic of Congo next week. CGTN's Kelechi Emekalam sat down with the team's head coach, Salisu Yusuf, and she started by asking him about their opponents, including Argentina.

Video - Cleaning up the oil industry’s past mistakes in Nigeria

For decades multi-national companies and the Nigerian government have earned billions of dollars in oil revenues. But oil exploration often led to exploitation of local communities and damage to the environment. Now a big clean-up initiative is under way. Al Jazeera's Ahmed Idris is in the Niger Delta to see if a government-backed project can make a difference.

Nigeria 2018 World Cup kit enjoying huge demand

Nigeria announced on Thursday that the national team's new 2018 kit line had hit a record three million pre-orders, far outstripping anything that preceded it.

While this was the first time such official sales figures have been announced, it's clearly a number that leaves everything else in its wake.

Such high demand for a Nigeria kit is unprecedented, but NFF Vice President Shehu Dikko explained that they the federation were informed at a meeting with Nike on Thursday that the novel, throwback design was behind the broad appeal.

"They told us Nigeria is their best selling kit due to the uniqueness," Dikko told KweséESPN, "so it appeals to everyone both from a sporting and fashion point of view."

The VP was also quick to end any scepticism about the validity of the figures.

"The three million are not actual sales but orders placed by all of their stores across the world," Dikko added. "These orders will not be delivered at once, but probably over the lifespan of the jerseys, which have a cycle of about two years.

"They cannot produce without orders, and some of these orders may not be delivered until next year," he continued, "but the stores have placed them now to ensure they have consistent supply and don't run out of stock."

It's been nearly three months since the kit reveal, and frustration has grown among Nigerians who have been unable to purchase the attire, especially with less than a month to the World Cup.

Friday, May 18, 2018

AS Roma supports Nigeria in 2018 FIFA World Cup

Italian Serie A side Roma has come out to back Nigeria at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

The club initially posted news of the Super Eagles squad on Twitter and one of Nigeria president Muhammadu Buhari's personal assistants thanked Roma.

In response the Italian club posted: "Good luck to the squad at the @FIFAWorldCup in Russia.

"Italy won't be there, so #ASRoma will be supporting our own players and the #SuperEagles - #ForzaSuperEagles."

The Italian side have two Nigerians on their books, Nura Abdullahi and Umar Sadiq - neither of whom have been included in the Super Eagles' preliminary World Cup squad.

Abdullahi spent last season on loan at Italian rivals Perugia while Sadiq was at Dutch side NAC Breda.

Egypt may well be disappointed not to get Roma's backing given that the Pharaohs' key striker Mohamed Salah spent two seasons at the club.

Nigeria have been drawn in Group D at the World Cup and will play Argentina, Iceland and Croatia.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Video - Armed gunmen seize at least 80 people in Kaduna State

We start in Nigeria, where at least 80 people have been abducted in the north-west Kaduna State. The victims were seized at gunpoint on major highways in the area.

Video - Nigeria's senate set to pass 2018 budget

The Nigerian senate is set to pass the country's 2018 budget after receiving a report from its committee on appropriation. This is coming six months after President Muhammadu Buhari presented the 2018 Budget to a joint session of the National Assembly. The budget is expected to consolidate on the gains of the 2017 budget to help actualize the economic growth recovery plan of President Buhari's administration.

Video - Nigeria's senior women's team gears up for AWCON qualifier against Gambia

Nigeria's senior women football team, the Super Falcons, have commenced preparations for the 2018 African Women Cup of Nations qualifiers against The Gambia. The two-leg fixture will take place between 4th - 12th June, with the Gambians hosting the opening leg in capital Banjul while Nigeria will host the return leg in Calabar - in the South East.

Video - Nigeria's Inspector General of Police struggles to read own speech

The Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, on Monday in Kano, inaugurated a Technical Intelligence Unit at the Kano State Command as part of renewed effort to curb crimes in the country.
Speaking at the occasion, Idris said that the facility, code named ‘COBWEB Solutions Intelligence Platform’ was established to enhance the Nigeria Police capacity for effective and responsiveness in the art of policing.

He said: “We are going to train our officers in the area of technical intelligence to enhance their capacity to address the intelligence challenges we are having in the country.
“The TIU in Kano for North West Zone, will aid police efficiency, effectiveness and their capacity to detect crime.”

Idris called on police commands in the zone to utilize the opportunity provided by the four technical intelligence platforms in Abuja, Lagos, Owerri and Kano to boost policing.
He said: “I will not relent on my efforts to ensure that the challenges of crime faced in the country, be it kidnapping, armed robbery, militancy and terrorism among others will soon be resolved with the use of TIU.

“The technical intelligence unit in line with international best practices will link all state police commands with technical intelligence COBWEB platform as soon as funds are made available.”
Idris said that the fight against insurgency, kidnapping, armed robbery, cattle rustling and other heinous crimes had systematically been won by 70 per cent.

He said that thousands of arms and ammunition have been recovered therefore making it difficult for criminals to access illegal arms for their criminal activities.

Idris said: “These achievements would not have been possible without the use of technical intelligence unit in Abuja managed by the Special Intelligence and Tactical Response teams.

“I have kept faith with the promise despite efforts at various quarters to distract me. Nigeria Police have recorded breakthroughs in crime prevention, detection, and prosecution among others.”

The IG assured Nigerians that the Police was doing everything possible to protect lives and properties in the country.

He appealed to Nigerians to be patient with the Police saying they are doing everything possible to tackle the challenges.

Speaking, the Commissioner of Police, Kano State command, Rabiu Yusuf, commended the Inspector General of Police for making the command one of the pilot states for the project.

He said the unit was saddled with the responsibilities of detecting and tracking down hoodlums as well as unfolding their heinous agenda.

Yusuf said: “The tracking system will reduce crime and criminality in the state, with a view to boosting economic activities.

In his remarks, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State, represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Usman Alhaji, expressed gratitude to the IGP for establishing the facility in Kano.

Ganduje said that establishing the unit in Kano, which is a mega city, would improve commercial activities and reduce the rate of crime in the state.

Video - Nigeria Trade Minister Says Corruption Fight a 'Top Priority'

Nigeria Industry, Trade and Investment Minister Okechukw Enelamah discusses investment opportunities and efforts to reduce corruption in his country. He speaks with Bloomberg's Shery Ahn and David Westin on "Bloomberg Markets: Balance of Power."

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Young Nigerians turning to drugs

A growing number of young Nigerians are addicted to drugs, officials and police say, turning to cheap narcotics like codeine, tramadol, and other chemical substances in search of a high.

The government this month have banned the production of codeine-based cough syrup and, in the wake of a recent BBC investigation, temporarily shuttered three pharmaceutical firms for allegedly failing to cooperate with federal inspectors. 

Now, drug-reform policy advocates, such as RISE Nigeria's Adeolu Ogunrombi, fear the problem will worsen and are pushing authorities to be more proactive about tackling corruption and closing loopholes they say still exist in the public health system. 

"There is still a huge demand, and a criminal market is going to spring up to meet the needs of the users who are in need of the substances", he said. "We don't even consider that someone who is dependent on drugs is still a human being." 

In this episode, The Stream explores the depth of Nigeria's opioid problem to learn how the government is working to prevent abuse and the distribution of drugs on the black market, and what needs to be done next.

Germany to deport 30,000 Nigerians

Germany has proposed a new process that will facilitate the smooth repatriation of over 30,000 illegal Nigerian migrants back to the country.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyeama said this when he received the Security Adviser to the President of Germany, Dr Jan Hecker, and his team in Abuja.

The new proposal, according to Onyeama, is predicated on perceived failures and slow pace of the current system of repatriation.

This, he said, involved both the participation of Nigerian embassies and consulate and the German immigration office.

“They don’t have enough faith and confidence in the process that we have at the moment for the repatriation process.

”Some of the delays they believed are with the mission and consulate in Germany.

” They want to propose a completely new process of repatriation, known as Return and Re-admission,” he said.

Onyeama said that in the last two years only about 200 Nigerians had returned to the country out of about 30,000.

”Germans were not happy that the system we have in place at the moment is certainly not working to their satisfaction,” he said.

According to him, the new process essentially entails that once all legal processes have been exhausted, Nigeria should trust them (Germany), to make right decision on whom should be repatriated.

He added that once the decision was taken, Germany would bring the affected persons to Nigeria without the involvement of Nigeria’s mission in Germany.

“They will bring them here to Nigeria and say we have gone through a process in Germany; these people are your nationals, they have exhausted all the legal processes, please take them.

”And it will be here on Nigeria territory that any possibility will then exist to say maybe that one is not or this one is not.

Onyeama, while describing the proposed process as a complete transformation of the current process, noted that Germany aside from issuing travel documents to those to be repatriated, would also be responsible for their travels.

However, for the new process to come into being, Nigeria would have to agree and carry out some changes in her laws.

Earlier, Jan Hecker said he was in Nigeria to see how both countries could intensify their bilateral relations and achieve good result, particularly on migration.

He was accompanied on the visit by the German Ambassador to Nigeria, Bernhard Schlagheck and other officials.

China awarded $7bln rail project by Nigeria

Nigeria has awarded a $6.68 billion contract to the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) for work on a major segment of a railway linking the country’s commercial hub Lagos, in the southwest, and Kano in the north, Xinhua reported.

“The signing of the ... segment contract agreement today (Tuesday) concludes all outstanding segments of the Lagos-Kano rail line,” the Chinese state news agency quoted Nigeria’s transport ministry as saying. The work is expected to take two or three years.

CCECC, a subsidiary of Chinese state rail builder China Railway Construction Corporation, has been involved in other parts of the Lagos-Kano rail project, which started in 2006 and was broken into segments for implementation.

In 2016, Nigeria awarded it work on a segment between the northern states of Kano and Kaduna with a contract sum of $1.685 billion.

The railway line is also receiving funding from China. In April, China Exim bank approved a $1.231 billion loan for the network’s modernisation programme.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Nigerian launches 'Save me from dying in this shithole' GoFundMe campaign

A Nigerian, Oladapo Olawuni, has launched a gofundme campaign to raise $1,000 to enable him leave the country.
Olawuni said he is tired of Nigeria, as the country holds nothing for him.

“I'm tired or this country and I need to leave.” he wrote. “This country has nothing for me. Save me from dying in this shithole. Plis dear.”

The account, opened 23 hours before the filing of this report, has received no donation yet — although it has been generating buzz on social media, particularly on Facebook.

A Facebook user, Oluwakayode Kakaki Agboola, shared the link to the gofundme account with the caption: “Help a Nigerian stranded in Nigeria. Support, Donate and join the campaign.”

Another user, Prince Adewole Adetokunbo Oyeledun, who commented on the same thread, said: “DSS should flag this guy. Let us hold this one against his will. We are in it together. Where does he think he's going? Nonsense!!!”

A survey conducted by CLEEN foundation and Afribarometer in 2017 revealed that one out of every three Nigerians is seeking to leave the country in search of greener pasture.

The survey also revealed that about 8 in every 10 Nigerians who wish to leave the country are aged 35 or below.

Similarly, a survey conducted by NOIPolls last year showed that Nigerian doctors move in droves to the United Kingdom, United States and Canada.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Video - Nigeria's Fulani-farmer conflict displaces many

Disputes over territory in central Nigeria have left hundreds of thousands of people displaced. Aid workers now fear a growing humanitarian crisis in Benue state.

Video - Buhari returns to Nigeria after UK medical treatment

Nigeria's president Muhamadu Buhari is back from sick leave in the UK. President Buhari traveled on short notice early this week for another round of medical treatment in London.

Video - Nigeria recovers millions of unpaid taxes

Nigeria's finance ministry says it has recovered millions of dollars unpaid taxes. This was achieved through the whistle blower policy that was enacted recently. Nigeria's tax to GDP ration is among the lowest in Africa at 6 percent. The government is now struggling to raise it to 15 percent in the next few years.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Video - The legacy of Boko Haram attacks on education

Boko Haram's nine-year battle to destroy the education system in northern Nigeria has left hundreds of teachers and children killed or kidnapped. Thousands of classrooms have also been blown up or set on fire. Many parents are now keeping their children at home.

Video -Track-laying begins for Lagos-Ibadan railway project in Nigeria

In Nigeria, tracks are being laid for the Lagos-Ibadan railway line. The ambitious project is managed by the Chinese Civil Engineering and Construction Company. The line links Lagos with Ibadan -- stretching 156 kilometres. It's the first double-track Standard Gauge Railway in Nigeria, built according to Chinese standards and technology. Total investment is estimated at 1-point-6 billion dollars. The Chinese construction giant has employed more than 7-thousand locals to build the railway line.

Video - Startup drives Nigeria solar revolution

Nigeria's perennial electricity challenge is a well-known fact. Power cuts are all too frequent in the country and most residents rely on petrol and diesel generators for their power supply. But in recent times solar technology is beginning to gain ground as a major source of alternative energy. Solar panels are now popping up on rooftops of buildings. Deji Badmus has been looking at one of the startups driving Nigeria's solar revolution.

Video - Nigerian authorities warn against artificially ripened fruits

Nigerian authorities are warning citizens to avoid artificially ripened fruit. Calcium carbide enables retailers to move their fresh produce rapidly, as it ripens fruit quickly, making it ready to sell. However, regular consumption of calcium carbide can cause cancer, as well as heart, kidney and liver failure.

Stressed out middle class Nigerians want out of Nigeria

By most standards, Ezekiel is living the middle-class Nigerian dream.

At 41, he works as a senior manager at a Lagos-based media company where he earns a healthy salary. He also runs a successful side business importing and selling American used cars and has enough money to fund his wife and two children on annual holidays in the United States. He also owns his home—the ultimate upper middle-class status symbol in Nigeria.

It might not be an extraordinarily lavish life, but it’s the kind millions of poor and lower middle-class Nigerians aspire to and work so hard to attain. But it’s not enough for Ezekiel—he’s happy with his life, he’s just not happy with where he’s living it.

Ezekiel is one of the thousands of comfortably middle-class Nigerians looking to uproot their families and plant them across the Atlantic. For many, that desire is borne out of growing frustrations with living in a country where basic amenities can often be a luxury despite the trappings of a middle-class life.

Despite Nigeria’s vast oil wealth, electricity supply is far from regular and makes life miserable and expensive. Middle class Nigerians can end up spending up to three times more running petrol or diesel power generators than they do on electricity bills.

Hospitals lack equipment or drugs and often end up with no staff due to frequent strikes by health workers over low wages. When the workers aren’t on strike, Nigerians dying of a lack of oxygen at hospitals is an all too familiar tale. And if there was any doubt about the state of Nigerian healthcare, there was the sight this week of president Muhammadu Buhari, getting on another flight to London to visit his doctor, for third time in 15 months. Then there’s the general insecurity with terrorist threats from Boko Haram and herdsmen attacks in key pockets of the country. But there’s also a fear of kidnapping and robbery, now a daily reality for the middle-class in major cities and the Nigerian police force—the worst in the world—is unreliable.

The recession of 2016 has left many unconvinced about the prospects of an economy once touted to be among the world’s most promising and the repeated failings of political leaders also inspires little confidencefor the future. More importantly, for Ezekiel, like many others who make the move, the decision is about giving his children access to educational and life opportunities that will likely stay beyond their reach if they remained in Nigeria. In today’s fast-changing, technology-driven world, Nigeria’s educational standards are not keeping up.

While most headlines about migration from Nigeria over the past two years have focused on the thousands who take the treacherous route across the Sahara desert and Mediterranean Sea to try and reach Europe, the preferred route for wealthier, well-educated Nigerians is through a more formal path to economic immigration. While in the recent past that move has often been to the UK and the United States, today it is mainly to Canada.

Canada, which has a smaller population than the UK or the US, is at a different stage demographically. To offset the effects of its aging population—in 2016, seniors outnumbered children—Canada started an Express Entry program for skilled workers in 2015 to boost its labour force. Successful applicants receive the holy grail of migration: a permanent residence permit.

Applicants are judged based on several factors including age (those between 21 and 35 stand the best chance), education level, language proficiency and work experience to determine their eligibility for the program. The entire process typically takes at least six months and it has quickly become popular among middle-class Nigerians: the number of Nigerians admitted into Canada through Express Entry between 2015 and 2016 increased tenfold—2017 data will likely show a much higher spike. With the program open year round and no cap on the number of candidates that can apply, that trend will likely continue. Canada hopes to admit 75,000 skilled migrants through Express Entry this year and 85,000 by 2020. In the first two years of the program, it already admitted over 43,000 applicants and their families.

But not everyone takes the legal route.

Nigerians with visitor visas to the United States have increasingly walked across the Canadian border in upstate New York into Quebec to claim asylum. The route accounted for 40% of Canada’s total asylum claimants in 2017 and in the first three months of 2018, more than half of the 5,000 asylum claimants who crossed the border were Nigerians. That’s set to be a marked increase on last year when a total of 5,575 Nigerians sought asylum in Canada—the second largest group by nationality.

From New York to Quebec: Thousands of migrants are crossing into Canada

The choice to try to claim asylum in Canada rather than remain in the US or even go to the UK is mainly driven by the Canada’s more welcoming stance to immigrants since the unexpected 2016 poll wins for Brexit in the UK and Donald Trump in US. Both campaigns were hinged on stiff anti-immigration rhetoric. The implicit message to immigrant hopefuls was that they were no longer welcome. In Canada, it appeared to be the opposite.

A majority of asylum seekers claim they are victims of persecution by Boko Haram terrorists and based on sexual orientation—Nigeria outlawed homosexuality in 2014. Indeed, from 2013 to April 2017, Nigerians made up about 25% of claims based on sexual orientation. But high spate and trends of LGBT-related claims by Nigerians are now raising questions that they may be fabricated. For example, around 60% of Nigerians seeking asylum claimed to be bisexual compared to an average of 12% for other nationals.

Seeking asylum is not a fail-safe method though as a majority of asylum seekers are unlikely to meet Canada’s criteria and will face deportation. Indeed, less than 15% of asylum claims by Nigerians in 2017 have been approved while a majority of claims remain pending, have been withdrawn or rejected. In the meantime, to stem the tide of illegal border crossings via New York, Canada has urged the United States to be more stringent with awarding visitor visas to Nigerians.

Pricey new beginnings

The financial requirements of either route—economic migration or asylum—puts it out of the reach of many. Walking through the US-Canadian border into Quebec requires first financing a trip to the United States while the basic application fee for Canada’s Express Entry program costs up to $800. Applicants will also need to prove they can fend for themselves after making the move: that requires showing proof of funds ranging from $9,600 to $25,000 depending on the size of the family. IELTS, an English language proficiency test essential to the application, now costs 75,000 naira ($208) per sitting after a recent increase.

For Izy, a 30-year old optometrist, it cost almost six million naira ($16,600) to move to Calgary in January after getting a permanent resident permit through Express Entry. That amount covered her program application fees and settling into a new life. Starting over has not been straightforward despite the best efforts of the Canadian government who have provided settlement and employment counselors, Izy admits. Despite having practiced for five years in Nigeria, she will likely have to wait for up to four years while taking expensive certification courses and exams before being able to practice in Canada. In the meantime, she works as an attendant at a Home Depot store. But she’s happy to have made the move. “I just got tired of Nigeria and frankly didn’t see it getting better any time soon,” she told Quartz.

Settling into a new life in Canada can be tricky, says Tobi (not real name), a 27-year old I.T specialist. Getting through the “difficult initial process of finding your feet can last up to two years,” he says. Regardless, after moving to Ottawa originally for a masters degree program last year, Tobi has quit his job at a global consulting firm in Lagos and is now trying to obtain a permanent residency. Trading in a cushy job and his home country is all about “playing the long game,” he says. Despite having to rely on low-skilled jobs for survival while settling in, Tobi says social safety nets and a higher standard of life in Canada make it worthwhile unlike remaining in Nigeria, “a country where nothing actually works.”

Déjà vu

There’s a feeling of déjà vu about the droves of middle-class Nigerians leaving or attempting to leave the country. From the late 1980s to mid-1990s, a wave of Nigerian intellectuals notably left the country to seek greener pastures abroad amid tough economic conditions and successive military dictatorships. More recently, Nigerians have tended to latch on to opportunities to move to developed Western countries through skilled migrants programs like the UK’s Highly Skilled Migrant Programme from 2002 to 2008.

Just as they do now, the prospect of better paying jobs and a much improved standard of living have proven to be strong draws over the years. Long-term, the downside for Nigeria is that many of its bright minds looking to move to Canada are intent on making it a one-way trip. “[I have] no plan to move back at all, no matter what Nigeria becomes,” Izy tells Quartz. “Not even for a visit.”

Nigerian diplomat assassinated in Sudan

The Federal Government on Friday strongly condemned the assassination of a Nigerian immigration attaché, Habibu Almu, at the Nigerian Mission in Khartoum, Sudan.

According to a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Tope Elias-Fatile, on Friday, the federal government described the killing as “unfortunate”.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has received an official report from our Mission in Khartoum, Sudan on the death of the Immigration Attaché I in the Mission, Mr Habibu Almu.

“He was killed in his official quarters on Thursday. This, indeed, sad news.

“The untimely death of the officer is certainly a great loss to our country.

“The Federal Government sympathises with the family members of the deceased on this unfortunate incident,” he said.

He said the mission was working very closely with host authorities in their investigations over the incident.

He assured that the government would do everything possible to ensure that those behind the act are made to face the full wrath of the law.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Nigeria may soon have first blockchain technology incubator

Peer-to-peer cryptocurrency trading platform, Paxful, just recently announced a major expansion into Africa.

Because of that, it would be launching a blockchain incubator in Lagos, Nigeria to help streamline operations.

According to Bitsonline, the incubator is scheduled to launch in the fourth quarter of 2018 and Chuta Chimezie has reportedly been appointed to lead the hub and spearhead regional operations in Africa.

Part of the reasons the company chose Nigeria to build this incubator is its demographics. According to a press release, Nigeria commands the highest number of Paxful users in Africa.

So it says a lot that this incubator will likely come as the first of its kind in Nigeria — or even Africa perhaps — when it finally debuts.

Globally, cryptocurrency has been facing intense crackdown as regulators are increasingly raising alarms concerning its volatility in the market.

Using the incubator to grow an army of platforms trading in crytocurrency will be appealing to Paxful. But that may simply raise eyebrows; especially with the whole regulations on cryptocurrency.

Perhaps, it plan to use the incubator in powering other blockchain technologies outside of crytocurrency.

Chimezie emphasises that the incubator is simply a starting point to help driven entrepreneurs in an industry that has shattered boundaries all over the world, and that Paxful initiatives have provided help to those in great need here.

Whichever way this turn out, it will make for an interesting watch.

Super Eagle Alexi Iwobi confident ahead of World Cup

No African nation has ever won the World Cup, but Nigeria's Alex Iwobi isn't letting that hold him back.
The 22-year-old Arsenal forward will play on football's biggest stage for the first time after helping the Super Eagles top their qualifying group for Russia 2018.

"The way we qualified in the group made us very confident," Iwobi tells CNN Sport.
"We've played against some big teams, some big countries, so we are very confident that we can go far."

Iwobi was twice on the scoresheet as Nigeria defeated Argentina 4-2 in a friendly last year. The two sides will meet again at the World Cup, which runs from June 14 to July 15, in a group which also contains Iceland and Croatia. 

Although the Super Eagles have never progressed past the last 16, Iwobi says winning the upcoming tournament is something he has discussed with his teammates.

"Of course, we've mentioned it and talked about it so many times in training, on the coach, in the hotel room," says Iwobi. 

"But we will take it step by step. Our coach always reminds us that we're not there yet. We need to prepare right. We've done well to get this far, so just be relaxed, be cool and wait for when the times comes.

"It's always been a dream to play in the biggest competition and there's no bigger competition than the World Cup to me."

Family affair
After representing England at youth level, Iwobi made his international debut with Nigeria in 2016. He has since gone on to be a regular fixture in a young and exciting Nigeria side which includes the likes of Leicester City trio Kelechi Iheanacho, Ahmed Musa and Wilfred Ndidi.

The nephew of former Fenerbahçe, PSG and Bolton Wanderers star Jay-Jay Okocha, Iwobi fondly remembers watching his uncle play in England.

"My family used to go up to Bolton and Hull to watch some matches," he says.

"My favorite [memory] is probably just watching him in training, just watching how he is. Everyone knows what he's like on the pitch but to actually see what he does in training when I was younger used to fascinate me ... he's always been a role model."

When Okocha, part of the Nigeria side that won Olympic gold in 1996, represented his country, the family would "just scream at the TV," Iwobi recalls.

Will they be making the same amount of noise when the Arsenal man takes to the field in his first World Cup?

"It depends where they are," he says. "If they're in the stadium, they'll be relaxed and cool. If they're at home, they'll be screaming and all the neighbors will hear."

Saying goodbye 

Immediate attention turns to the Premier League and Arsene Wenger's final days in charge of Arsenal.
Wenger handed Iwobi his first start for the Gunners aged just 18. His club form has been up and down since, but Iwobi says he's forever indebted to the man who gave him his big break. 

"I was very young, I was like a scholar," he recalls. "He was always saying to me to enjoy your football, express yourself, and if you make a mistake just continue and be positive.

"Everyone makes mistakes, it's how they deal with it and you just have to keep going. That's the best advice he's given me."

The focus now is on giving his mentor the best send-off possible after 22 years of service.
"The club without Arsene is going to be strange," says Iwobi. "He deserves the recognition that he should get. 

"We are going to do the best for him until the end of the season."

Mikel Obi and Victor Moses nominated for Nigeria Pitch Awards

Super Eagles Captain, John Mikel Obi and Victor Moses, Chelsea’s winger were on Wednesday nominated for the Nigeria Pitch Awards for 2017/2018.

Obi currently plies his trade as a midfielder for Chinese club Tianjin TEDA.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the awards in its 5th edition will hold later in the month in Lagos.

Other nominees for the awards are Ikechukwu Ezenwa of FC Ifeanyi Ubah of Nnewi, Anambra, Leon Balogun, FSV Mainz 05, Germany, Wilfred Ndidi – Leicester City FC of England, and Carl Ikeme of England’s Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Dele Ajiboye of Plateau United FC of Jos, William Troost-Ekong of Bursaspor, Turkey, Shehu Abdullahi of Anothosis Famagusta FC, Anthony Okpotu – Lobi Stars FC of Makurdi and Odion Ighalo – Changchun Yatai.

The rest are Stephen Odey – MFM FC/FC Zurich, Charity Rueben- Ibom Angels, Rasheedat Ajibade – FC Robo and Amarachi Okonkwo – Nasarawa Amazons.

Fidelis Elechukwu of MFM FC, Gernot Rohr of Super Eagles and Kennedy Boboye of Plateau United were nominated for the Coach of the Year Award.

Lagos, Rivers and Delta were nominated for State with the Best Grassroots Development programme.

Similarly, Gov. Godwin Obaseki of Edo, Gov. Emmanuel Udom of Akwa Ibom and Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State were nominated for Football Friendly Governors of the Year.

Also for the Sam Okwaraji Award for Commitment to Nigerian Football, Amaju Pinnick, President, NFF, Shehu Dikko – 2nd Vice-President, NFF and Chief Ifeanyi Ubah, Chairman, FC Ifeanyi Ubah were equally nominated.

The President, Nigeria Pitch Award, Mr Shina Philips, said the awards had continued to grow to become a significant part of the football calendar in spite of challenges.

He noted that challenges such as securing sponsorship and partnership did not deterred the organisation’s resolve to make the awards an essential part of the nation’s football culture.

“The Nigeria Pitch Awards is a platform for recognising, rewarding and celebrating talented and industrious footballers and other stakeholders in Nigerian football.

“Since the introduction of the awards five years ago, it has continued to grow to become a significant and essential part of our football society,’’ he said.

Philips said that organising a credible and transparent reward system for Nigerian footballers and stakeholders would help youths to imbibe the culture of hard work, patriotism and honesty.

The president of the award added that he was grateful for all partners and all corporate bodies that had identified with the award since the project began.

“We thank the Federal Ministry of Sports and Nigeria Football Federation for their immense support.

“We thank SIAO Partners, Nigeria’s foremost accounting firm for being our independent vote collation body for displaying professionalism in the collation of results and the entire voting process.

“We are also buoyed by the responses we have received from sports journalists, Nigerian footballers and administrators,’’ he said.

Aisha Falode, Chairperson, Nigeria Women Football League congratulated the organisers of the award, saying that it would build the confidence of young people in the nation’s football.

“The Nigerian youths can be engaged through entertainment and sports with football being the most enticing when it comes to sports,’’ she said.

Falode urged sports journalists and stakeholders to support the award because of its credibility and assured that the awards get the necessary support to expand in scope.

Mr Buri Olugbami, an official of SIAO Partners, said that SIAO recognised the potential of football and its impact in providing youth development.

Olugbemi said that they would remain committed to all social and sport activities which would be strategic to youth development.

President Muhammadu Buhari under pressure to reveal illness

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari is under pressure to disclose the state of his health after he embarked on a fourth medical trip to London.

Nigeria's opposition party, People's Democractic Party (PDP), said it was time for the president to reveal his medical condition.

PDP spokesman Kola Ologbodiyan said: "We need full disclosure about the president's health. He needs to be honest with Nigerians to say he his unwell. He can't travel for an official meeting to the US and sneak into London to see his doctor, then tell Nigerians it was a technical stopover due to flight issues."

Buhari,75, announced Monday he will travel to the United Kingdom to see his doctor, reigniting speculation about the state of his health and ability to rule Africa's biggest economy.

The president also saw his doctor last week in London on his way back from Washington where he had met with the US President Donald Trump at the White House, his aide said. 

Nigerians on social media have also joined in the call for Buhari to make his health records public. These calls have grown louder since he announced plans to seek re-election next year.

But the president's spokesman Garba Shehu told CNN Buhari was under no obligation to disclose his medical records.

According to the spokesman, Buhari is the first Nigerian president to make public his need to see a doctor.

"The constitution does not say the president must disclose his health status, it only says he should make his medical vacation public to the House of Assembly."

"Let's check the records, no other president in this country has made public their medical trips abroad," Shehu said.

He added that Buhari's latest trip to the UK did not mean that he was ill and it was merely a review after his treatment nine months ago.

Since he took power in 2015, President Buhari has left the country at least four times on trips that included medical treatment in the UK. So far, he has failed to state the exact nature of his illness.

The president of Africa's most populous country has also faced criticism for seeking treatment abroad when critics say he should be fixing the nation's health system, which is in dire straits.

"President Buhari just loves flying around. If he truly wants Nigeria to grow, His doctor should fly down here instead, whatever equipments and knowledge he has should be brought down to a hospital here to improve our health care system," commentator Yul Edochie said in a tweet.

Nigeria will take measures to prevent spread of Ebola from DR Congo

The Nigerian government on Wednesday said it was acting to prevent the spread of Ebola from Democratic Republic of Congo where an outbreak of the disease has killed 17 people.

The federal government had put in place an emergency programme to monitor all border activity to keep Nigerians safe, Health Minister Isaac Adewole said after a cabinet meeting.

"We will be screening incoming passengers, particularly passengers from DRC and neighbouring countries. (The) Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) will also consider sending some team to DRC as part of building capacity for managing the outbreak," he added.

Nigeria, which does not share a border with DR Congo, is the only country in West Africa with a mobile laboratory for haemorrhagic fevers.

Funded by the European Union it can carry out rapid testing even in the most remote areas.

Ebola is one of the world's most notorious diseases, being both highly infectious and extremely lethal.

There is no current vaccine to prevent Ebola or licensed treatment for it.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Video - Nigeria's midwives seek to improve maternity care

Having a baby in Nigeria is a major risk for women. The United Nations says more than a hundred die each day while giving birth. The lack of access to healthcare means many expectant mothers have babies in their villages. Al Jazeera's Jamela Alindogan reports from Makurdi in Benue State, central Nigeria, where a veteran midwife is trying to improve standards.

Video - School in Nigeria teaches martial arts to help keep students safe

In Nigeria, the United Nations' Children's Fund, UNICEF, says sexual violence against children is on the rise across the 36 states. A survey carried out in the country shows that 1 in every 4 girls and 1 in every 7 boys is molested, before the age of 18. And it mainly happens in schools. In response, one school in the capital, Abuja, has started an active initiative to prevent sexual molestation and violence against children.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Video - Army launches new operation to prevent Boko Haram attacks

For the past few weeks, Boko Haram has been staging bold attacks on military installations and killing scores in suicide attacks. Nigeria's military says it will soon launch a new operation to prevent further attacks by the insurgents.

Video - Boko Haram hamper learning in North eastern Nigeria

Nigeria's government says more than 1,500 primary schools in the North have been destroyed by Boko Haram since 2014. The group continues to target schools as part of their campaign against western education.

1,000 hostages rescued from Boko Haram in Nigeria

Nigeria's military says it has rescued more than 1,000 people held captive in northeastern Nigeria by the armed group Boko Haram.

Brigadier General Texas Chukwu, army spokesman, announced on Monday evening that the hostages were rescued from four villages in Borno State.

The Multinational Joint Task Force, which comprises Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Benin, helped to secure the release of the captives, mostly women and children.

Some men who had been forced to become Boko Haram fighters were among those rescued, the army said.

Boko Haram has been held responsible for thousands of abductions, especially of young girls and women, during its nine-year armed campaign in Nigeria and surrounding countries.

The group gained international notoriety after its fighters kidnapped 276 schoolgirls in the town of Chibok in April 2014. About 100 girls are still missing.

More than 20,000 people have been killed in the fighting, which has also forced some two million to flee their homes.

Al Jazeera's Ahmed Idris, reporting from Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, explained that the rescued individuals will be taken to hospitals to be treated for wounds and ailments sustained in captivity.

"They will be profiled and de-briefed by security forces before they are rehabilitated and eventually returned to society," Idris said.

"For those who carried arms before, fighting the Nigerian state, they will have to undergo another rehabilitation process being conducted by the Nigerian government in another state ... as part of an operation called Operation Safe Corridor."

Leaders from the countries comprising the Multinational Joint Task Force will be meeting on Tuesday in Maiduguri to discuss the long-term strategy on how to deal with the Boko Haram crisis.

In March, a Boko Haram attack on the northeastern town of Rann left at least two aid workers, a doctor and eight soldiers dead.

In February, the group's fighters attacked another school in the northeastern state of Yobe and seized more than 110 schoolgirls. A month later, the government said 101 had been freed.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said earlier this year that the era of Boko Haram violence "is gradually drawing to end".

However, the group continues to launch attacks in the country's northeast.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Video - Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria blamed for attack on church

Disputes over territory are escalating elsewhere in Nigeria. President Muhammadu Buhari's government is under pressure to prevent such attacks, ahead of elections next year. Al Jazeera's Jamela Alindogan reports from Benue state, where an attack on a church is dividing a community that has lived peacefully for generations.

Raid on village in Nigeria leaves 45 dead

At least 45 people were killed after armed bandits attacked a village in northern Nigeria, officials said Sunday, the latest in a series of attacks in the country’s rural areas.

Fighting between militiamen and the bandits erupted after the raid on the village of Gwaska, in northwestern Kaduna state, on Saturday, according to Agence France-Press.

“There was violence between the militias, who are very powerful, and bandits,” said Kaduna’s state police chief, Austin Iwar.

An unnamed vigilante told AFP that he believed the bandits to be from neighboring Zamfara state. “The 45 bodies were found scattered in the bush. The bandits pursued residents who mobilized to defend the village after overpowering them,” he said, adding that children were among those killed. “They burnt down many homes,” he said.

Thirteen people were killed last week in Zamfara in fighting between cattle thieves and local civilian militia. Cattle rustlers and kidnapping gangs have long plagued rural herding communities in the state with killings, robberies, and arson.

Nigeria’s security forces are stretched thin as the country tackles Boko Haram jihadists in the north and pirates in the south. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has been criticized for his failure to quell the violence, which will be a key issue in the 2019 presidential elections.