Friday, June 29, 2018

Video - Nigerian police deploy special force to bring order in central plateau

The Nigerian government says it has deployed a Special Intervention Force to restore peace in the central plateau region that saw violence over the weekend.

Video - 11-year-old artist becomes a sensation in Lagos, Nigeria

In Nigeria, an 11-year-old artist is creating waves with his unique creations. From a makeshift studio in a poor neighbourhood in Lagos, Waris Kareem produces incredibly life-like works of art.

Nigeria Super Eagle Ighalo comments about alleged death threats

Super Eagles player Odion Ighalo has spoken out against alleged death threats from fans who are blaming him for Nigeria's failure to advance to the knockout stages of the World Cup in Russia. 

Ighalo has been singled out for missing what fans believe was a clear goal opportunity that would have kept Nigeria's World Cup hopes alive in Tuesday's game against Argentina. 

Since their defeat, the striker has faced a barrage of insults -- including threats of violence -- online.
Ighalo took to social media Thursday to address fans and appeal to those who "want to kill him."

Writing in the local pidgin vernacular, Ighalo asked fans to remember he was "someone's child."
"Great experience to be at the World Cup and I enjoyed every moment of it," he wrote on Instagram.
"We did our best but sometimes things don't always go the way you want, but life has to go on.
"For those that want to kill me abeg na person pikin I be o (please I am someone's child), Ighalo wrote.

The Nigerian Football Federation's spokesperson, Ademola Olajire, told CNN in St Petersburg, that it strongly condemns threats to any of its players or members of their family because of the World Cup results.

Olajire said: "We understand that people might have been hurt by the loss to Argentina, and failure to qualify for the knockout stage. But we condemn any threat on the life of any of our players or their loved ones. We will immediately alert the police to this issue."
The NFF believes it is the first time a direct threat has been made to any of its players, many of whom do not live in Nigeria.

Fuel truck blaze kills nine in Nigeria

A petrol tanker has caught fire in Nigeria's biggest city, Lagos, killing at least nine people, officials say.

More than 50 vehicles, including five buses, were set ablaze after the truck lost control and spilled its contents on a busy motorway during rush hour.

The tanker is said to have crashed after its brakes failed.

Fuel explosions are common in Nigeria, Africa's biggest oil producer. Petrol is transported via badly maintained roads and vehicles.

The incident on Thursday occurred at about 17:30 local time (16:30 GMT) on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, one of the main motorways into the city.

A representative from the Federal Road Safety Corp (FRSC) told the BBC that the tanker had lost control as it approached a bridge, and ended up falling on its side.

Petrol then began pouring from the tanker and a fire erupted. The blaze quickly spread from vehicle to vehicle.

Images later showed black smoke rising from the road and the shells of several burnt-out cars.

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari said he was "very sad to learn of the tragic loss of lives".

"Sadly, this seems to be one of the greatest tragedies we have seen in recent times," he said in a statement.

Government spokesman Kehinde Bamigbetan said it was time "to find ways of ensuring that tankers are driven by drivers who have more responsibility".

"We need to work more with federal agencies so we don't have these crises all the time," he said.

Disaster waiting to happen

By Friday morning the full scale of Thursday's tragedy was still visible as rescue workers clear the road of the burnt-out remains of the vehicles.

An acrid smell still hangs in the air.

It's a gory scene many Nigerians are all-too familiar with. Oil tankers have been involved in some of Nigeria's worst road accidents. Many of these tankers were conveying imported fuel from the Lagos port for distribution around the country.

Even though Nigeria is the world's sixth largest exporter of crude oil, the country imports virtually all its fuel because its refineries are not working due to years of mismanagement.

The Lagos port remains the main entry for the fuel that serves Nigeria's almost 200 million people.

It is a disaster always waiting to happen in a country where fuel distribution is in the hands of often reckless oil tanker drivers.

Most of them are driving tankers imported from Europe that are not roadworthy.

While Nigerians mourn the victims of this latest accident, many know it may not be the last, if efforts are not made to get good drivers and vehicles for Nigeria's fuel distribution business.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Video - Nigerian fans disappointed by refereeing decisions after loss to Argentina

Well, fans of the Super Eagles watching the match in Russia are disappointed about some of the refereeing decisions.

Death toll increases to 200 after attacks in central Nigeria

Over 200 people have died in Nigeria's central state of Plateau where gunmen attacked many villages last weekend, according to a local lawmaker and the media on Wednesday.

Peter Gyedeng, a member of Plateau State's parliament, said over 200 of his constituents died in the attack.

"Over 200 innocent citizens of my constituency were killed...this is barbaric and evil. This is happening even when we have security all over the state," Gyedeng told reporters in Jos, the state capital.

The lawmaker alleged "genocide and ethnic cleansing" against his constituents.

The attacks, which started on Saturday, continued on Monday in another area of the state, despite a dawn-to-dusk curfew imposed by the government.

Local police on Sunday confirmed only 86 people were killed and six others severely wounded. Meanwhile, 50 houses, two cars, and 15 motorcycles were razed, the police added. However, residents said more than 140 bodies were buried during a mass funeral on the same day.

More than 11 villages were targeted by the gunmen during these coordinated attacks, which mostly affected Razat, Nekan, Ruku, Nyarr, Kufang, Kura and Gana-Ropp villages of Gashish District in Barkin Ladi area of Plateau, Terna Tyopev, the spokesman for Plateau police, said.

The local Vanguard Newspaper on Wednesday reported that Ruku Village recorded more deaths in the attack, with at least 47 victims.

President of Nigeria's Senate Bukola Saraki on Wednesday arrived in the city of Jos to commiserate with Governor Simon Lalong and families of the victims.

Saraki's visit was also to do an on-the-spot assessment of the carnage.

On Tuesday, Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari was also in the city to mourn the victims. Buhari's condolence visit was preceded by that of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who led a federal government delegation to Plateau following the attacks.

Plateau State is located in Nigeria's middle belt where the Muslim-dominated north and the Christian-majority south meet.

There had been a long time strife in the central state between indigenous groups, mostly Christian or animist, and migrants and settlers from the Hausa-speaking Muslim over the control of fertile farmlands.

Earlier in the week, one regional head of a local cattle breeders group had opined that those who carried out the attacks in Plateau might be on a revenge mission.

Danladi Ciroma, the head of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) in the north-central region, said there had been recent reports of cow rustling and destruction of farms between local farmers and herdsmen.

"The people carrying out these criminal activities are well known to the communities but the communities are hiding them," Ciroma said in a statement.

This incident was not the first herdsmen-farmers conflict in the most populous African country, whose estimated nearly 200 million people are divided into at least 200 distinct ethnic groups and about evenly split between Muslims and Christians.

On March 7, 2010, members of local Muslim and Christian communities fought each other in revenge for previous killings.

In November 2008, clashes between Muslim and Christian gangs triggered by a disputed local government election killed hundreds of people in Jos and rendered thousands of people homeless.

According to media reports, hundreds of people died in clashes in the town of Yelwa in Plateau State in 2004, while in September 2001, ethnic and religious rioting in Jos had killed at least 915 people, according to official statistics.

On the other hand, Plateau has witnessed some bomb blasts, too, apart from the constant rifts between local farmers and herdsmen, with many, especially women and children, losing their lives.

The herders, pressured with the effects of climate change and others, are forced southward into the farming communities in search of better resources of grazing.

The threats posed by the fighting between herders and farmers as provided by some accounts have been more serious than those from Nigeria's Boko Haram extremist insurgency.

The conflict in the region has weighed upon the government and other political forces as general elections approach next year.

Bitcoin used in Nigeria to hedge against national currency

The scrappy citizens of Lagos, Nigeria are traders and can-do survivors almost by nature. Their government, however, has mismanaged the nation’s money to such a degree that it’s prone to wild devaluation swings. And while an argument could be made bitcoin too is volatile, it actually isn’t comparatively. With access to peer-to-peer exchanges such as Localbitcoins, Nigerians are revolutionizing even their traditional outdoor marketplaces, providing a financial oasis in rather dark times.

“I can use Bitcoin for anything now […],” Soji, a Lagos web designer told Jeremy Kirshbaum and Pelumi Oguntemehin. “It means I can invest and also pay anybody currently, except old people, I will send them bitcoin. But some people think it is a scam to deal in Bitcoin and they also fear being hacked, as many people do not know how to protect themselves online.” Bitcoin is a handy way for Soji to gain overseas hosting services from vendors who simply won’t accept his country’s native fiat currency, Naira.

Bitcoin gets considerable flack in professional financial circles for its legendary volatility. Wild price swings can for sure occur, and have. However it is no match for Nigeria’s Naira. As Longhash explains, “Silas Okwoche is a self-taught engineer […]. He was the co-founder of a cell phone company called Nerve Mobile, which used Android smart phones from Shenzhen, China. Silas found a Chinese partner via the e-commerce platform Alibaba. Nerve Mobile’s venture was profitable for a time, but ended for a reason that had nothing to do with Silas’s product. The Nigerian Naira fell against the Chinese yuan by over 15%, and the hardware became too expensive. Silas’s story is not exceptional: Nigerian business people struggle with currency volatility every day,” the reporters insist.

Nigeria rests on the African continent at its Western curve, hugging the Gulf of Guinea, a click North of the Equator. It’s bordered by four countries to its immediate East, as a kind of horseshoe with only the South Atlantic opening West. Lagos is the largest city in Nigeria, while also boasting being the highest concentrated city in Africa. It is one of the fastest growing cities in the world, according to many estimates. It routinely ranks as the highest in African GDP, acting as a financial center and bustling port. A rather wonderful examination of Lagos can be found in Robert Neuwirth’s presentation, “The power of the informal economy,” though admittedly a bit dated.

Present day sees the broader country as lagging behind even India in extreme poverty, as CNN reports, “Nigeria has overtaken India as the country with the largest number of people living in extreme poverty, with an estimated 87 million Nigerians, or around half of the country’s population, thought to be living on less than $1.90 a day […] In Nigeria, as with other countries on the continent, that figure is projected to rise. ‘By the end of 2018 in Africa as a whole, there will probably be about 3.2 million more people living in extreme poverty than there are today,’” according to researchers. All this, and with being the largest oil producer in Africa.

Crypto as an Oasis in Extreme Poverty, Sectarian Violence

As of this writing, central Nigeria has descended into sectarian violence. Reports are sketchy, but most outlets reveal scores of people have been killed as ethnic and religious tensions rise. Fifty houses have been destroyed, if local police are to be believed. And these tensions have been brewing at least since 2013 between herdsmen and farmers.

Lagos, then, becomes a beacon of hope in a sea of economic and sectarian devastation. The settling of bitcoin in terms of price, the sideways action of recent weeks, has ironically allowed more businesspeople of Lagos to onramp into crypto. It’s also tamped down scams. “Currently, most Ponzi scheme traders are out of the market as they were only there for profit only, now that Bitcoin is stable and the profit margin is small, we will witness a gradual growth and diverse application of blockchain tech solutions,” Toyosi, investor and crypto trader, told Longhash.

Jeremy Kirshbaum and Pelumi Oguntemehin note “it is hard for a cryptocurrency to act as both a speculative asset and a currency. Countries like Nigeria that suffer from high volatility or institutional uncertainty actually need Bitcoin to act as a medium of exchange.” Traders such as Toyosi turn to remittance tokens such as Sure Remit, hoping to reduce overall costs. “Sure Remit,” they explain, “uses a cryptographic token as an alternative for sending money home from abroad. When people are using cryptocurrency for normal transactions and the value is more stable, Sure Remit can provide a more useful service.”

The key is contending with its fiat currency, Naira. Its flash devaluations add “another layer of uncertainty to businesses that purchase goods or components from abroad. That’s why Nigeria presents the perfect use case for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin,” Longhash stresses. Another tech businessman, Temo, “works on hardware ventures and he buys his components from China. When he does this, the most convenient option is to purchase Bitcoins on or another peer-to-peer marketplace using Naira, and then sell them for Chinese yuan. It is much faster than using normal channels, and costs a fraction of the price. If he uses a normal bank transfer, he will be charged huge fees by both the sending bank in Nigeria and the receiving bank in China. Also, it can take up to a week for the wire transfer to move the money.”

Video - Nigerian police deploy special force to bring order in central plateau

The Nigerian government says it has deployed a Special Intervention Force to restore peace in the central plateau region that saw violence over the weekend.

Video - Nigeria coping with food shortage caused by Boko Haram attacks

Our main problem is food and nothing is more important than that.” Breastfeeding her child, Yagana shares while she sits in the crowded conditions of an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State in northeast Nigeria. Only twenty years old, she fled with her child after Boko Haram attacked her village, losing contact with her husband and family along the way. Over the past decade, the Boko Haram insurgency has displaced over 1.8 million Nigerians in an predominantly agricultural northeast Nigeria, stalling food production, hiking up prices, and restricting safe market access to help create one of the world’s worst food crises.

Just Food: Coping With The Crisis, an immersive film by Contrast, sheds light on the people impacted by the widespread food insecurity crisis. Uncertain of whether they can return to their homes, hundreds of thousands of families live suspended lives in IDP camps and host communities, all the while struggling to feed their families. Through the stories of three displaced women who live in different IDP camps, we examine the situations they face and how in spite of hardship, they find ways to put food on the table for their children.

Video - Nigeria eliminated from the 2018 World Cup by Argentina

Marcos Rojo's late winner put Argentina through to the round of 16 at the World Cup with a 2-1 victory against Nigeria on Tuesday night.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Video - Nigeria promises to accommodate the disabled in next year's polls

The Nigerian government says it plans to make life a bit more easier for people living with disabilities - ahead of next year's elections. The World Health Organisation has put the number of people with disabilities in that country at over 25 million. There's skepticism coming from lobby groups against the country's electoral commission.

Nigerian filmmaker Femi Odugbemi becomes member of Oscars voting academy

Nigerian producer and filmmaker Femi Odugbemi has been formally invited into the voting membership of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in the United States of America.

The academy organises and decides the nominations for the universally-acclaimed Oscars award for motion pictures.

It is a world recognised movie-related organisaion, comprising more than 8000 accomplished men and women working in cinema.

Academy membership is limited to film artists working in the production of theatrically-released motion pictures.

The academy has 17 branches ranging from actors, writers and two categories that involve members-at-large and associates to accommodate individuals who have no defined branches in motion picture.

Elated Odugbemi shared the news of his invitation to the oscars on his Instagram page @femiodugbemi on Monday.

He wrote: “so today, I received a formal invitation to become a voting member of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in the United States. Honoured! #Oscars #Vote4bestfilm.”

Odugbemi, who studied Film and Television at The Montana State University, scripted, directed and produced numerous documentaries, short films and drama.

He produced Tinsel, a widely acclaimed soap opera that started airing in August 2008 and celebrated as a successful drama on Nigerian television.

The producer’s filmmaking credits include ‘Gidi Blues’, ‘Battleground’, ‘Maroko’ and ‘Bariga Boy’.

Odugbemi was the President of the Independent Television Producers Association of Nigeria in 2002, a tenure that ended in 2006.

In 2008, he produced ‘Abobaku’, a short film directed by Niji Akanni. The film won the Most Outstanding Short Film at the Zuma Film Festival held in 2010.

It also won Best Costume at the 6th Africa Movie Academy Awards held on April 10, 2010 at the Gloryland Cultural Centre in Bayelsa.

In 2013, Odugbemi scripted, produced and directed a documentary titled, ‘Literature, Language and Literalism’ about the late Nigerian writer, Daniel O. Fagunwa, the author of ‘Ògbójú Ọdẹ nínú Igbó Irúnmalẹ̀’.

Nigeria tops extreme poverty world ranking

Nigeria has overtaken India as the country with the largest number of people living in extreme poverty, with an estimated 87 million Nigerians, or around half of the country's population, thought to be living on less than $1.90 a day.

The findings, based on a projection by the World Poverty Clock and compiled by Brookings Institute, show that more than 643 million people across the world live in extreme poverty, with Africans accounting for about two-thirds of the total number.

In Nigeria, as with other countries on the continent, that figure is projected to rise. "By the end of 2018 in Africa as a whole, there will probably be about 3.2 million more people living in extreme poverty than there are today," the researchers write.

Despite being the largest oil producer in Africa, Nigeria has struggled to translate its resource wealth into rising living standards.
A slump in oil prices and a sharp fall in oil production saw the country's economy slide into recession in 2016.

A recent rise in oil prices has helped to spur the country's economic recovery. Addressing the situation in March this year, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said that although growth was again beginning to rise, "more needs to be done to reduce unemployment and address poverty."

But while the numbers of Nigerians falling into extreme poverty grows by roughly six people every minute, poverty in India continues to decrease.
At present, an estimated 5.3% of Indians or 71.5 million people, live below the poverty line.

Confined to Africa

The researchers note that 14 out of 18 countries where poverty is rising are in Africa, adding that if current rates persist, 90% of the world's poorest will be living on the continent by 2030.
Bangladesh and Indonesia are the only other non-African nations to feature among the list of 10 worst affected countries, with an estimated 17 million and 14.2 million people living in extreme poverty, respectively.

Other nations in Africa to feature on the list of 10 worst affected countries, include the Democratic Republic of Congo, with 60 million people; Ethiopia with 23.9 million people; Tanzania with 19.9 million.
Mozambique, with 17.8 million people; Kenya, with 14.7 million people; and Uganda, with 14.2 million.

Countries falling behind

Data compiled by the World Poverty Clock was drawn from both household surveys and new projections on country economic growth from the International Monetary Funds' World Economic Outlook. 

Researchers noted that between January 1, 2016 and July 2018, the world has seen about 83 million people escape extreme poverty, owing in part to the introduction of internationally agreed UN Sustainable Development Goals, intended to "end poverty" by 2030.

"The task of ending extreme poverty by 2030 is becoming inexorably harder because we are running out of time. We should celebrate our achievements, but increasingly sound the alarm that not enough is being done, especially in Africa," the researchers say.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Video - 60% of Nigerian university students cite harassment

Staying with Nigeria, universities are at the centre of a growing sexual harassment scandal. An online survey shows over 60% of women at the country's universities have experienced some form of sexual abuse. In a bid for justice, survivors are taking matters into their own hands, naming the perpetrators and sharing their stories on social media.

Son of Nigerian music star D'banj drowns at home

The one-year-old son of Nigerian music star D'banj has drowned in a pool at his home in the commercial city of Lagos, local media report. 

D'banj did not directly confirm the Sunday incident but posted a black image on his Instagram account with the caption: "Trying Times . But my God is Always and Forever Faithful."

He was in Los Angeles attending the BET awards ceremony when his son died.

The Afrobeats star gained world fame for his 2012 hit, Oliver Twist.

He calls himself "Koko master" which could mean a variety of things from being the "boss", "lover" and the "main topic".

His music is a mix of Yoruba, English and Pidgin.

D'banj, whose real name is Oladapo Daniel Oyebanjo, became a father in May 2017, and posted regular pictures of his son, Daniel Oyebanjo III.

His last picture was on Fathers' Day on 17 June, of him changing his son's nappy.

Drogba warns Nigeria Super Eagles against defensive approach with Argentina

Former Ivory Coast captain, Didier Drogba has told the Super Eagles of Nigeria that they will go home if they start defending against Argentina.

Argentina is Nigeria’s next opponent in the 2018 World Cup going on in Russia.

As Nigeria prepares to take on the South Americans on Tuesday, Drogba advised them to keep to their style of play if they are to go far at the 2018 World Cup.

Gernot Rohr’s men came alive again in their bid of reaching the knockout stages after beating Iceland 2 – 0 in their second Group D match on Friday.

Drogba told BBC Sport that the Eagles must keep to their aggressive and fast style of playing if they want to go far at the tournament.

The former Chelsea striker said, “It has been a disappointing start to the World Cup for Africa – until Nigeria beat Iceland on Friday.

“There had been six defeats in seven games for the five African countries in Russia. So it was great to see the Super Eagles win , but the way they did it was just as important and impressive.

“In the second half, Nigeria came to life and played the way I want to see all the African teams play – going on the attack, using their pace and power, and having lots of shots.

“That is what I did not see in their first game against Croatia , when Nigeria were playing within themselves – keeping a good shape , playing safe, and passing the ball from side to side.

“This time, they went out just to win. They played with two strikers and they were so fast and aggressive going forward that they frightened Iceland.

“They were spontaneous and exciting, which is the way I expected them to play at this World Cup – and that is why they won the game.

“The point I am making is that they need to keep their identity as a team. It is important they keep doing that if they are going to reach the last 16. If they decide to stay defensive and start fearing conceding goals, they will be going home.”

Farmers and Herders clash leaves 86 dead in Nigeria

At least 86 people have died in central Nigeria after violent clashes broke out between farmers and cattle herders, police in Plateau state said.

Some reports say fighting began on Thursday when ethnic Berom farmers attacked Fulani herders, killing five of them.

A retaliatory attack on Saturday led to more deaths.

The area has a decades-long history of violence between ethnic groups competing for land.

Earlier, dozens of people were killed in a similar round of violence between Fulani herders and local hunters in Mali.

A curfew has now been imposed in three parts of Plateau state.

State police commissioner Undie Adie said a search of villages following the bloodshed revealed that 86 people had been killed, and six injured.

He said 50 houses had been burned, as well as 15 motorbikes and two vehicles.

The Plateau state government said the curfew would be in place between 18:00 and 06:00 local time (17:00 to 05:00 GMT) in the Riyom, Barikin Ladi and Jos South areas "to avert a breakdown of law and order".

Tit-for-tat clashes erupt into warfare

Analysis by the BBC's Stephanie Hegarty, in Lagos

It's an age-old conflict that has recently taken on a new level of brutality.

In Nigeria's central region settled farming communities and nomadic cattle herders often clash - usually over access to land and grazing rights.

But these tit-for-tat clashes have erupted into inter-communal warfare, killing thousands in the last year.

This region, where the Muslim north meets the Christian south is prone to religious tension - herders are ethnic Fulani and mostly Muslim, while the farmers are mostly Christian.

But it's not clear why this spike in violence is happening right now. Nigeria's president has repeatedly blamed the escalation on an increase in gun-running from Libya.

Others blame security forces' failures in a country busy fighting two insurgences - Boko Haram in the north and militants in the oil-producing south.

The state's governor Simon Lalong said work was under way "to secure the affected communities and fish out perpetrators of these crimes".

"While we pray for God's guidance through this difficult time, we will do everything humanly possible to secure our state immediately," he said.

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari - himself a Fulani - is under increasing pressure to address the tensions ahead of elections in 2019.

In January he ordered the head of police to relocate to the country's middle belt to manage clashes there.

Special forces were also deployed to the central states of Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba to "secure vulnerable communities and prevent further attacks".
Who are the Fulani herdsmen?

They are believed to be the largest semi-nomadic group in the world, and are found across West and Central Africa - from Senegal to the Central African Republic.

In Nigeria, some continue to live as semi-nomadic herders, while other have moved to cities.

The nomadic groups spend most of their lives in the bush.

They herd their animals across vast areas, frequently clashing with farming communities.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Video - President Buhari signs long delayed 2018 budget for Nigeria

Nigerian President Muhamadu Buhari has finally signed the 2018 budget-more than six months after it was tabled at the national assembly for approval. While signing, Buhari said he only did so to avoid an economic shutdown. CGTN's Kelechi Emekalam tells us why in the following report.

Britain open to loan Nigeria stolen art

Nigeria’s looted art could be returning home from cultural institutions such as the British Museum after officials said they were open to the idea of it being a loan. Some of the most prized items stolen by British forces are the Benin kingdom’s bronze statues.

The statues were pillaged in 1897 as British forces sought to wipe out the kingdom in what is known as the ‘punitive expedition’ for acts deemed an upfront to the colonial-occupier government. Despite repeated attempts by Nigerian authorities and traditional elders for them returned home, the statues remain unmoved in the British Museum in London or shipped across to other western museums.

The governor of Edo state in southern Nigeria (home to the modern day Benin kingdom) told Reuters: “whatever terms we can agree to have them back so that we can relate to our experience, relate to these works that are at the essence of who we are, we would be open to such conversations.” The Oba of the Benin kingdom has already announced plans for a new museum near his palace to house the art stolen from his forebears.Nigeria’s looted art could be returning home from cultural institutions such as the British Museum after officials said they were open to the idea of it being a loan. Some of the most prized items stolen by British forces are the Benin kingdom’s bronze statues.

The statues were pillaged in 1897 as British forces sought to wipe out the kingdom in what is known as the ‘punitive expedition’ for acts deemed an upfront to the colonial-occupier government. Despite repeated attempts by Nigerian authorities and traditional elders for them returned home, the statues remain unmoved in the British Museum in London or shipped across to other western museums.

The governor of Edo state in southern Nigeria (home to the modern day Benin kingdom) told Reuters: “whatever terms we can agree to have them back so that we can relate to our experience, relate to these works that are at the essence of who we are, we would be open to such conversations.” The Oba of the Benin kingdom has already announced plans for a new museum near his palace to house the art stolen from his forebears.

This appears to be part of a growing acceptance among African governments that such deals, however unpopular among the public, are the only way western museums will let go of pieces that attract millions of visitors. In April, Ethiopia also agreed to a similar move by theVictoria & Albert Museum to have its stolen art loaned to them, saying it viewed “[the] goodwill gesture as a step in the right direction.”

However, Egypt, which also has numerous art pieces spread across the west have insisted on unconditional returns. Analysts say if a successful deal is done with Nigeria, it could serve as a template for other equally contentious demands such as the ones for the Greek and Chinese governments for Britain to return stolen items.

Earlier this month, the Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn promised to return stolen artefacts if he was voted in as British prime minister. In March, Emmanuel Macron appointed two experts whose job is to present to him by November, a plan on how to return stolen art. He has also set a target that could see the return of some items within five years.

Aside concerns that once these artifacts go back as a loan, they will not be handed back to western museums, wariness has been expressed about the safety of these items once they get back. There are fears that returning the pieces to poorly resourced African museums could expose them to poor maintenance or even ending up on a black market, where they could fetch millions of dollars.

Returning stolen art has for a long time being part of a wider campaign for reparations from Western governments to countries that endured the brutalities of slavery and colonization which contributed significantly to wealth of the west and impoverishment of colonized societies.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Video - Nigerian authorities discover at least 257 illegal orphanages in Imo State

At least 257 illegal baby factories were recently uncovered in Imo State. Scores of children have been rescued. It's part of a government directive to eradicate illegal orphanages. Reports say that only 15 of the 272 foster care homes in Imo state are legal. The first network of baby factories in Nigeria was identified in 2008. The rising numbers have caused increased concern over the past decade. In April, a raid in Lagos led to the rescue of about 160 children -- some of whom had been sexually abused.

9 soldiers killed by Boko Haram in Nigeria

Boko Haram fighters killed nine soldiers and wounded two others in northeast Nigeria, according to military sources, just days after 43 civilians died in deadly suicide bombings.

Both attacks came as the government, which says the jihadists are on the verge of defeat, urges those displaced by the conflict to return to their homes across the war-torn region.

Troops from 242 battalion Nigerian Army stationed at Gajiram, some 80 kilometres north of the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, came under attack on Monday afternoon.

The Borno state police initially said its officers and soldiers "engaged the terrorists and promptly repelled the attack". "There was no casualty on the side of the police," it added.

But military communications seen by AFP said nine soldiers were classed as "KIA" -- killed in action -- while two others were "WIA" -- wounded in action.

Locals said they had seen between 10 and 12 Boko Haram fighters being loaded into vehicles but it was not clear how many were dead or injured, it added.

There was no immediate official response from army spokesman Brigadier General Texas Chukwu.

Gajiram has been attacked before during the Islamist insurgency, which has left at least 20,000 people dead and displaced more than two million since it began in 2009.

In February last year, seven soldiers were killed in an attack on military positions. Fighters loyal to the Islamic State group-backed faction headed by Abu Musab Al-Barnawi were blamed.

Barnawi split from the faction following long-time Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau in mid-2016 in opposition to his indiscriminate attacks on civilians.

Shekau has in particular, used suicide bombers against civilian "soft" targets such as camps for the displaced, mosques, markets and bus stations.

Barnawi, in contrast, has vowed to hit only "hard" targets such as the military and police.

On Saturday, six young girls strapped with explosives were blamed for blasts that killed 43 in Damboa, some 90 kilometres southwest of Maiduguri.

More than 90,000 internally displaced people live in Damboa, the UN said on Saturday; 18,000 of them live in five camps.

The world body said humanitarian access outside the town remained "limited due to ongoing hostilities and lack of safety assurances".

Monday, June 18, 2018

Video - Nigerian fans disappointed after 2-0 Group D loss to Croatia

Nigerians gathered at viewing centres across the West Africa nation to catch the action from the Kaliningrad Stadium. It was a disappointing ending for most of them, who now believe making it out of the group will be a tall order. Others however, remain optimistic.

Nigerian Human traffickers operating at 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia

Weeks before the 2018 FIFA World Cup was due to kick off in Russia, a woman met Blessing and Mfon at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in the southern Nigeria city of Uyo. The two young sisters had gone there to watch Nigeria play Spain’s Atletico Madrid in a warmup match ahead of the global soccer fiesta in which this West African nation is proud to participate, and the woman, in her 40s, seemed to be a devoted fan.

“We sat beside her during the match, and we were all analyzing the performance of the [Nigerian] team together,” Blessing, who is 19 and the older of the two siblings, told The Daily Beast. “After the match, she asked us if we would like to go watch the World Cup in Russia and work there after the tournament.”

Russia is open to foreigners with just a single match ticket and a FAN ID, which is available online to confirmed ticket holders. Once you’re in, you can stay legally until July 25, which is 10 days after the end of the competition.

While this is good news for soccer fans visiting the country, it is equally an opportunity for traffickers to do big business.

Blessing and Mfon were told their travel to Russia would be taken care of and that they would get jobs in Moscow as social workers for a nongovernmental organization dealing with traumatized athletes once the World Cup was over. The girls were told it would take about six months to pay back the cost of the journey to Russia, put at $20,000 each, after which they could keep all the money they made.

“We took her to our parents, and she told them the same thing,” Blessing said. “She said she had slots for 20 Nigerian girls and was looking to take girls from all regions of Nigeria with a passion for sports.”

No one suspected the woman was a human trafficker because she showed documents appearing to link her to a number of humanitarian organizations in Russia, and she hailed from the same wider community as the family of Blessing and Mfon, which gave the parents of the girls the impression that she wouldn’t hurt her kindred.

Suicide bomb blasts kills at least 31 in Nigeria

At least 31 people have been killed in a twin suicide bomb attack by suspected Boko Haram fighters on a town in northeast Nigeria, according to local sources.

Two blasts ripped through the Damboa government area in Borno state on Saturday evening targeting people returning from celebrating the Eid al-Fitr holiday.

Following the suicide bombings, the attackers fired rocket-propelled grenades into the crowds that had gathered at the scene of the blasts, driving the number of casualties higher.

"There were two suicide attacks and rocket-propelled grenade explosions in Damboa last night which killed 31 people and left several others injured," Babakura Kola, from the Civilian Joint Task Force, a militia assisting the military with security, told AFP news agency on Sunday.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but the attack bore all the hallmarks of Boko Haram, a group waging an armed campaign in northeast Nigeria for nearly a decade.

The blasts on Saturday occurred in the Shuwari and Abachari districts of the local government area, which is about 90km from state capital Maiduguri.

"It has destroyed our houses. We have also counted 31 innocent people including children and elderly killed in the attack," said local resident Modu Usman, son of a community leader, according to the Reuters news agency.

Boko Haram roughly translates to "Western education is forbidden".

More than 20,000 people have been killed and over two million have been forced to flee their homes since 2009, when the group launched its campaign which has seen the regular deployment suicide bombers in mosques, markets and camps housing displaced people.

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.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Video - Nigerian President Buhari apologises for Abiola's annulled 1993 presidential win

Nigerian President Buhari has been lauded for declaring the 12th of June as Democracy Day and for recognizing MKO Abiola's 1993 presidential election victory. Many Nigerians have described Buhari's announcement as a victory for democracy. The president has offered a public apology to Abiola, who won the 1993 vote -- an election that was later annulled by the military. As of next year, the 12th of June will be a public holiday and commemorated as Democracy Day.

Messi warns 'Nigeria will be no walkover'

The Albiceleste have defeated the West Africans in all their previous meetings at the tournament but in November they went down 4-2 to Gernot Rohr’s side in a friendly tie.

They lock horns with the Super Eagles in their last group game at the Saint-Petersburg Stadium after ties with other group D rivals Iceland and Croatia.

And the Barcelona star is certain that the encounter with Gernot Rohr's side will be a tough one.

“Croatia is a good team with players in the big European leagues and that makes them dangerous, Messi told the Express.

“We don’t know so much about Nigeria but the African teams are normally compact, tough and strong. So it will be no walkover.”

Video - Why Nigeria has more HIV-positive infants than anywhere else

Preventing mother-to-child HIV transmission is considered one of the most basic goals for curtailing the AIDS epidemic, and Nigeria is struggling mightily. In our series The End of AIDS, William Brangham and Jason Kane examine why this oil-rich nation is falling so badly behind, and profiles a unique, church-based program that’s showing real promise.

Psychic pig predicts Nigeria will reach the semi-finals in the World Cup

The psychic pig Mystic Marcus that predicted President Donald Trump’s victory has picked Nigeria, Argentina as semi-finalists for the 2018 World Cup. The psychic pig which has a history of sniffing out a winner – and is hoping to continue his unbroken record for this summer’s World Cup, thesportsbay reports.

Mystic Marcus has a 100 per cent track record of predicting sports results according to his owner Juliette Stevens.

The black micro pig has previously guessed the winner of the 2014 World Cup and the Wimbledon tennis finals by picking apples. With bad news for England fans, Mystic Marcus expects Belgium, Argentina, Nigeria and Uruguay to make it through. Farmer and micro pig breeder Juliette from Heage, Derbyshire, said: ‘Marcus is the seventh child of a seventh child and apparently they’re gifted with special powers so maybe that’s where it comes from. ‘A few years ago I was invited on a radio show because of Paul the octopus predicting results and they wanted to see if I had any animals that had the ability. ‘I hadn’t tried the seventh child theory out so thought I’d give it a go.’

Nigeria to recover $500 million from Abacha loot

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) rose from its weekly meeting in the State House Abuja Wednesday with cheery news of the forthcoming repatriation of $500 million loot from United Kingdom, United States and France to Nigeria.

The money was part of the huge sums stolen by the former despotic leader, Gen. Sani Abacha.

Making the disclosure while briefing journalists at the end of the meeting, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Malam Abubakar Malami, said the move was the fallout of negotiations between the federal government and the three countries.

According to him, the expected sum is coming barely a few months after the repatriation of $322 million Abacha loot to Nigeria from Switzerland following an agreement signed by Nigeria and Switzerland.

Malami, who said the processes leading to the repatriation and the aftermath were reported to the council Wednesday, also disclosed that the council approved the payment of N500 million as legal fee to lawyers engaged in the litigation between the federal government and MTN over the N1 trillion fine imposed on the latter by the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC).

"The council approved the payment of professional fees to lawyers engaged by the federal government relating to the MTN case instituted against the federal government in pursuance of penalty of over N1 trillion imposed by the government on MTN.

"MTN, as you will recall, instituted a case seeking to retrain the federal government from recovering the over N1 trillion imposed on it. The federal government engaged the services of lawyers to put up defence on its behalf. As a result, the case was eventually settled by the parties amicably and arising from that settlement the lawyers were entitled to their fees.

"The federal government has now sanctioned the payment of N500 million for the N330 billion agreed upon for the alleged certain breaches in their operations. This amount is less than one per cent of the fee instead of the internationally recognised fee which is pegged at five per cent.

"Finally was a report on the global forum on assets recovery. You will recall that in December 2017, the federal government participated in global forum on asset recovery in Washington DC and during that forum, Nigeria and Switzerland signed agreement that paved the way for the repatriation of $322 million relating to looted assets and on the account of that the amount was eventually repatriated back to Nigeria.

"What transpired was only reported back to the council today. The report today was not only about the signing of the agreement but the report of the eventual repatriation of the amount of money that was signed and agreed to be repatriated during the forum.

"Nigeria has also engaged other countries including the UK, US, France and others in further negotiations relating to repatriation and I am happy to report that we are almost concluding the processes relating to the repatriation of additional $500 million," Malami said.

Malami also responded to questions on the legality and legitimacy of the declaration of June 12 as a public holiday, as well as the conferment of posthumous awards on the late Chief MKO Abiola and Chief Gani Fawehinmi as well as Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe.

The president had on June 6, proclaimed June 12 as the new Democracy Day, replacing the hitherto May 29 Democracy in acknowledgement of June 12, 1993 presidential election described as the freest and fairest in Nigeria's history and won by the late business magnate, Chief MKO Abiola, but unjustly annulled by former military president, General Ibrahim Babangida.

Consequently, the president conferred the highest honour of the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR) on Abiola on Tuesday.

He also conferred the award of the Grand Commander of the Order of Nigeria (GCON) on Abiola's running mate, Kingibe, and Chief Gani Fawehinmi posthumously in recognition of his gallant fight for the actualisation of June 12 mandate.

But the moves had been criticised by some Nigerians who argued that the president lacked the power to proclaim June 12 as public holiday without amending Public Holidays Act to pave the way for the replacement of May 29 with June 12 as the new Democracy Day.

The president was also criticised for unilaterally conferring the national honours on the recipients without consulting the National Council of State.

But Malami in his defence, said the president was only duty bound to consult the Governing Board in relation to the conferment of the National Merit Award, insisting that there is no law compelling the president to make any consultation before conferring national honours on anyone.

Malami also stated that it was not the first time that a posthumous national honours award was conferred on anyone, pointing out that former Head of State, Gen. Murtala Muhammed, had once been posthumously honoured.

However, he admitted that Public Holidays Act needed to be amended before June 12 Democracy Day can come into effect as a public holiday. Consequently, he said the process of amending the Act had already been put in place and the declaration would not be effective until the amendment is concluded.

"National Merit Award Act and the Nigerian National Honours Act are two distinct and different applicable laws as far as National honours awards are concerned. You have the National Merit Award on the strength of which we have the law of the governing board come into effect and then as it relates to the National Honours Act, the board does not have any relevance in terms of processing of the honours.

"Above all, we equally have in existence, a precedent as it relates to the award of posthumous honours. I can recall that a former Head of State, General Muhammed was equally honoured posthumously, among others.

"As it relates to public holidays, there is truly a Public Holidays Act, but it is about the process of amendment. At any rate, the Act can be amended and the process of amendment has been put in place.

"So, when the Act has been fully amended, the declaration of the President will come into effect. It is a declaration of intention, a declaration of desire and that will eventually be given effect with the act of amendment of the existing law," he said.

Inflation in Nigeria declines to 11.61%

For the 16th month, inflation rate continued a downward trajectory, declining from 12.48 per cent in April to 11.61 per cent in May.

This is just as the US Federal Reserve Wednesday hiked its benchmark short-term interest rate a quarter percentage point and indicated that two more increases are likely this year.

The Fed pushed interest rate to a range of 1.75 per cent to two per cent and this may have negative effect on capital flows to Nigeria and may compel the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to maintain its tight monetary policy stance.

THISDAY had reported on Monday that Nigeria’s external reserves has maintained a sustained decline in the past three weeks as foreign portfolio investors (FPI) continued to weigh the possibility that the US Fed would raise interest rate at its meetingWednesday.

Meanwhile, the latest inflation figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed that the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which measures inflation stood at 11.61 per cent (year-on-year) in May 2018, saying: “This is 0.87 per cent points less than the rate recorded in April 2018 (13.34) per cent. “

However, by this claim, the NBS inadvertently contradicted itself, having put the inflation rate for April at 12.48 per cent last month, contrary to its latest report alluding to April inflation rate as 13.34 per cent.

But a closer look at the info graph contained in the report reflected the accurate rate for April.

The statistical agency stated that in the May figures, increases were recorded in all Classification of Individual Consumption by Purpose (COICOP) divisions that yield the headline index.

COICOP is a classification and analysis of individual consumption expenditures incurred by households, non-profit institutions serving households and government according to their purpose.

It includes categories such as clothing and footwear, housing, water, electricity.

On a month-on-month basis, the Headline Index increased by 1.09 per cent in May 2018, up by 0.26 percentage points over the rate recorded in April 2018.

The percentage change in the average composite CPI for the 12 months period ending May 2018 over the average of the CPI for the previous 12 months period was 14.79 per cent, indicating a 0.41 percentage point decline from 15.20 per cent posted in April 2018.

The composite food index rose by 13.45 per cent in May 2018.

This rise in the index was caused by increases in prices of potatoes, yam and other tubers, vegetables, fish, bread and cereals, fruits and meat.

On month-on-month basis, the food sub-index increased by 1.33 per cent in May 2018, up by 0.42 percentage points from 0.91 per cent recorded in April.

The average annual rate of change of the food sub-index for the 12-month period ending May 2018 over the previous 12-month average was 18.36 per cent, 0.53 per cent points from the average annual rate of change recorded in April (18.89) per cent.

The ”all items less farm produce” or Core inflation, which excludes the prices of volatile agricultural produce stood at 10.7 per cent in May 2018, down by 0.2 per cent from the rate recorded in April (10.9) per cent.

On month-on-month basis, the core sub-index increased by 0.98 per cent in May 2018.

This was up by 0.11 per cent when compared with 0.87 per cent recorded in April.

The highest increases were recorded in prices of hairdressing saloons and personal grooming establishment, vehicle spare parts, fuels and lubricants for transport equipment, books and stationery, domestic services and household services, pharmaceutical products, paramedical services, medical services and passenger transport by road.

The average 12-month annual rate of change of the index was 11.83 per cent for the 12-month period ending May 2018; this is 0.19 per cent points lower than 12.02 per cent recorded in April.

Also, all items inflation on year on year basis was highest in Kebbi (14.65 per cent), Yobe (13.68 per cent) Jigawa (13.62 per cent), while Kwara (8.87 per cent), Kogi (9.07 per cent) and Delta (9.22 per cent) recorded the slowest rise in headline year- on -year inflation.

Month-on-month basis however, May 2018 all items inflation was highest in Adamawa (1.98 per cent), Kwara (1.79), and Kaduna (1.70 per cent), while Kogi (0.02 per cent), Lagos and Ogun (0.52 per cent) and Cross River (0.56 per cent) recorded slowest rise on a month- on-month all item basis in May 2018.

In May 2018, food inflation on a year-on-year basis was highest in Yobe (15.86 per cent), Kebbi (15.62 per cent) and Jigawa (15.56 per cent), while Kogi (8.54 per cent), Benue (9.93 per cent) and Akwa Ibom (11.13 per cent) recorded the slowest rise in food inflation.

On month-on-month basis, however, May 2018 food inflation was highest in Taraba (2.80 per cent), Adamawa (2.38 per cent) and Enugu (2.36 per cent), while Kogi, Oyo and Ekiti all recorded food price deflation or negative inflation (general decrease in the general price level of goods and services or a negative inflation rate) in May 2018.

The Federal Reserve hiked its benchmark short-term interest rate a quarter percentage point Wednesday and indicated that two more increases are likely this year.

The move pushes the funds rate target to 1.75 per cent to 2 per cent. The rate is closely tied to consumer debt, particularly credit cards, home equity lines of credit and other adjustable-rate instruments.

In an unusually terse statement that ran just 320 words, the Federal Open Market Committee changed multiple phrases from its previous missives, pointing to a more optimistic view on economic growth and higher inflation expectations.

Though the statement contained less than half the words of some of the committee’s typical communiques, there was a lot to unpack in the language.

Nigeria is the most stylish team in the 2018 FIFA World Cup

The World Cup has not started yet and Nigeria has already won -- for being the most stylish team in Russia.

It started with the fan frenzy to to buy the Nigeria Nike-designed World Cup kit, which sold out globally on the day it was released, with queues snaking round the block outside the Nike store on London's Regent Street.

Football fans queue outside Nike store in Oxford, London for the newly released Nigerian kits designed by Nike for the 2018 World Cup on June 1, 2018.

Nigeria had heads turning again for the team's outfits as they arrived in style ahead of the tournament in Russia. 

Fans are talking about their stunning white and green ensemble set off with a matching hat, worn at a jaunty angle.

The Super Eagles, as the team is known, arrived looking crisp in starched white traditional attire, known locally as the kaftan.

The knee-length white shirt was embroidered with a green eagle representing the country's green, white, green colors.
Social media was quick to react after the National Football Federation shared the images online.
There was so much chatter online that Twitter dedicated a 'moment' to it.

Twitter user Kirekaboy wrote: "Has anybody seen how the Nigerian team was dressed as they landed in Russia?...I have never seen a people so proud of their culture." While another wrote: "Nigeria's World Cup squad rocking that slick cricket umpire meets confident gospel choir singer look. Just give these guys the trophy now." 

There's no denying the love for the Nigerian players' outfits as they prepare for the start of the World Cup tournament on June 14. 

Nigeria's Nike-designed kit was voted the best of the World Cup in several polls, including UK broadcaster Sky. 

International men's magazine GQ also voted the Super Eagles strip top the best of all the 32 teams in Russia. 

The highly-sought after kit received three million pre-orders before it's release, according to Nigerian Football Federation.

'Nigerian swagger'

Design director Peter Hopkins told Fader magazine that the Nigerian team's confidence inspired him in his designs for the kit which has a bold neon green pattern that echoes the pattern of eagle wing feathers.

He said: "There's a confidence in all these young players, they're going to go for it and we were attracted to that."

"We've been following them from afar, and the players on social media...a lot of them are playing in some of the top clubs in Europe, and there's that boldness that aligns in Nigeria and Lagos and in London.

"We thought that there's something in here to do something different," Hopkins added. 

The kit has also been the subject of intense discussions in Nigeria where some people thought the football federation had missed an opportunity to boost local manufacturing.

One prominent politician said outsourcing the kits to be produced outside the country contradicted the Nigerian government's plans to expand and encourage production of 'Made in Nigeria' goods.
Senator Ben Bruce said the country could have made $100 million if the kit was made in Nigerian factories. 

The lawmaker said,"Just imagine if those 3 million Nigerian Super Eagles jerseys were made by a firm in Aba (a Nigerian state famed for local manufacturing) rather than Nike. Aba tailors have the capacity to produce them. 

"We just lost an opportunity to infuse at least $100 million into the Nigerian economy and provide jobs for our youths," he said.

Made by Nigeria for Nigerians

However, some enterprising young Nigerians have seized the initiative and are looking to cash in on the vacuum created by the sold out official Nike jerseys. 

One example is the 'Unity Collection," created by Chekwas Okafor, founder of e-commerce site OnChek in collaboration with designer Adebayo Oke-Lawal of Orange Culture and footwear designer Shem Paronelli.

The designers said they wanted to pay homage to the Super Eagles with their version of the jersey.
Okafor told CNN he conceived the idea to make jerseys for the national team back in 2014 when he noticed that Nigerian creatives were not active in the sports industry.
"My goal was to show that we can leverage our creative industry to make products like jerseys. We only stocks brands on our site that make their products in Africa. I also want to show that we could make similar products in Nigeria, in large scale," he says. 

The Unity kit is more than a jersey, it is also a medium to tell the Nigerian story, he adds.
"The Unity collection is made up of many parts, it tells a story of differences, cultures, traditions, and dialects. It's a story about the one thing that brings us together. A story about unity. The story of Nigeria."

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Video - Muslim group offended by 'This is Nigeria' music video content

A muslim group has voiced concerns about the popular 'This is Nigeria' video by music artist Falz. The video, a spin on U.S. artist, Childish Gambino's "This is America", has been trending in the country for weeks now. But Muslims have taken offense with a part of the video that shows Chibok girls doing a popular dance move known as 'Shaku Shaku' and wants it removed. They also want an apology from the artist.

World Cup child trafficking bid caught by Nigerian authorities

Nigerian authorities say they have rescued nine young girls and one boy who were being trafficked to Russia.

Five suspects, including a policeman and a quarantine officer, were arrested for allegedly facilitating their travel, the government agency fighting trafficking says.

The victims were found while trying to board a plane from Lagos to Moscow.

They had football supporter ID cards in order to look as though they were fans heading to the World Cup in Russia.

The children, who were unaccompanied, are now in a shelter for victims of trafficking which run by the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (Naptip).

Five other potential victims, also children, were stopped from boarding a flight to Russia when staff noticed they had one-way tickets.

Criminals have been pressurising young Nigerians and their parents to take advantage of the World Cup to get Russian visas, Naptip says.

It warns that, once out of the country, the victims would be exploited by traffickers.

Many victims of trafficking from Africa to Europe come from Nigeria.

According to the UN's agency for migration, most of the potential sex trafficking victims arriving in Italy by sea are Nigerian.

Nigerians mourn the passing of reggae star Ras Kimono

Nigerian reggae singer Ras Kimono has died aged 60, after a short illness. 
Born Ukeleke Elumelu Onwubuya, Ras Kimono, alongside his Massive Dread Band, won several awards and was prominent in the Nigerian music scene for his socially-conscious lyrics.
Kimono's music addressed the country's various socio-political problems and his debut album 'Under Pressure,' was a huge hit in the Nigerian music scene in the late 80s. 

Kimono also addressed the ills of South Africa's apartheid regime through his song 'Kill Apartheid.'
The reggae singer, who recently celebrated his birthday, died on Sunday morning after taking ill ahead of a scheduled trip to the US, according to local media. 

Many Nigerians, such as lawmaker Shehu Sani, took to social media to pay tribute to the music star.
Sani spoke of Kimono's impact in tackling injustice through his music. 

"Ras Kimono.. made an immeasurable contribution in the field of arts. He used music for political awakening. He was not a praise singer for the establishment. His songs were for the poor and for his country. Adieu," Sani wrote on Twitter.

Nigerian musicians tend to avoid political commentary, partly due to an ingrained fear of persecution from the powerful ruling class. 

One notable exception was legendary Afrobeats star Fela Kuti who frequently clashed with Nigeria's military regime -- at huge personal cost to him. 

Another senator, Ben Murray Bruce also paid tribute to Kimono on Twitter, writing: "I feel so sad hearing about the death of reggae legend Ras Kimono. He redefined the face of music and there will be none like him. He will be dearly missed."

Others recalled how Kimono's music was a part of their childhood and a staple of birthday parties growing up.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Video - Nigerian chef hosts web series on Iftar dishes

A popular Nigerian chef, Akanji Abiola, is hosting a daily web series tagged "IftarWithChefStone." It is specifically for the month of Ramadan. The series has over 2,000 online subscribers and features a fusion of Nigerian and international dishes. The easy to make meals are a healthy way to start and end each day, during the fasting season. The shows are recorded and posted on various social media platforms.

30 people kidnapped by bandits in northern Nigeria - 2 killed

More than 30 people have been abducted and two killed by armed bandits in several attacks on a highway in northern Nigeria’s Kaduna state, local officials said Saturday. The attacks are the latest in a spate of kidnappings for ransom in the Birnin Gwari district over the last two months.

“Around 6.25 pm (1725 GMT) on Friday, 22 people were kidnapped by armed bandits along Birnin Gwari highway, between Udawa and Labi villages”, said Isah Muhammad Galadima, spokesman for local traditional ruler the Emir of Birnin Gwari. 

“The bandits, who carried heavy weapons on motorbikes, intercepted seven vehicles and kidnapped everybody, even a young mother with her baby,” Galadima told AFP. “Earlier on Friday, another 10 people were also kidnapped along this highway by the armed bandits.” 

He added that the bandits had contacted the husband of the kidnapped young mother and asked him to pay a ransom for his wife and baby’s release. 

Two local officials confirmed that “at least 30 people” were abducted on the highway, adding that two people were also killed. “Two passengers were killed and six others were injured from gunshots. The injured are now in hospital in Udawa village,” said Danladi Haruna, head of the National Union of Road Transport Workers’ Birnin Gwari branch. Yusuf Abdullahi Udawa, spokesman for the union’s Udawa branch, said that “when the vehicles stopped (the bandits) took away 30 passengers that were not affected by the shootings”. 

“The new strategy the gunmen employ is to open fire on on-coming vehicles, forcing them to stop or veer off the road and crash in the bush,” he said. “There are few policemen manning few checkpoints on the highway. They just flee when heavily armed gangs open fire instead of facing them.” In early May, about 100 people were abducted in just two days on another road in the Birnin Gwari region, where kidnappings have reached unprecedented levels. 

The gangs, who roam on motorcycles on the hunt for victims, are known to operate in northern Kaduna and Zamfara state. Kidnapping for ransom used to be a phenomenon isolated to oil-rich southern Nigeria. But it has spread further north and become lucrative due to economic hardship. Abductees are often released within days if the ransom is paid — if not, they are killed, according to security sources.

Video - Fears over pay overshadow Nigeria's World Cup campaign

Nigeria kick off their World Cup campaign on Saturday, when they face Croatia in Group D. The players from the West African nation will be hoping to focus on their performances without having to worry about the possibility of not being paid properly. Team officials say they want to avoid a repeat of what happened during the last World Cup in 2014, when Nigerian players refused to train ahead of their match over a pay dispute. They have promised prompt payment of allowances this time, promises that officials failed to keep in the past.

UK to deport gay Nigerian asylum seeker

A Nigerian asylum seeker who fled to Britain to avoid prosecution for being gay is facing deportation after being held for six months in an immigration detention centre.

The threat hanging over Adeniyi Raji, 43, who received death threats on social media, highlights the increasing number of claims to the Home Office by individuals from countries where homosexuality is outlawed.

In Nigeria, homosexual acts are punishable by up to 14 years in prison. Gay marriage and displays of same-sex affection are also outlawed. After Pakistan and Bangladesh, it is the country that produces the largest number of asylum claims based on sexual orientation.

Home Office figures published last year show there were 362 such applications from Nigerians in the 21 months from July 2015 to March 2017. Of those, only 63 were allowed to remain in the UK after a tribunal hearing; the rest, 81%, were refused permission to stay.

Raji fled the city of Lagos and arrived at Heathrow airport in November. He claimed asylum and was immediately detained, being held at Harmondsworth and Tinsley House detention centres. He was recently given bail and released from detention.

“I decided to come to the UK to seek refuge and humanitarian protection [because] my life was in danger in Nigeria,” he told the Guardian.

“I was attacked on several occasions. [My] ex-wife caught me and my former partner in bed. As soon as she saw us, she immediately raised the alarm. People gathered and started beating us severely. After that, she divorced me.”

His employer in Lagos sacked him for being gay. “The Nigerian police started publishing my pictures and my name in the Nigerian national dailies,” he added. “They kept saying that anyone who has useful information that could lead to my arrest should come forward [so that I can] face the wrath of the land as a result of my sexual orientations.”

Threats against him on on social media in Nigeria included comments such as: “I really wish you were killed that very day …”, “You know gay practice is an abomination in our land …”, and “You better stop your gay practice, if not you could get yourself killed in this country”.

A first-tier immigration tribunal has rejected his asylum application. He is appealing against that decision.

Bisi Alimi, a Nigerian-born British citizen who runs a UK-based campaign supporting LGBT rights in his home country, criticised the Home Office’s treatment of gay asylum seekers. “They are often treated as liars. It becomes their responsibility to prove that they are gay and that that will put their lives at risk,” he said.

“In Nigeria, people put a tyre around your neck and burn you, and no one cares; or beat you until you die, and no one cares. The Home Office doesn’t believe in the impact of threats from non-state actors.

“Most of the time it’s difficult to prove [anyone is gay] because they live their private lives in hiding. Most don’t have a life history [of being openly gay]. There’s been an increase in the number of Nigerians seeking asylum in the UK on the basis of their sexuality.”

Raji’s solicitor, Bhaveshri Patel-Chandegra, an immigration specialist at the law firm Duncan Lewis, said: “The court has looked at his case and nullified all his evidence that he is at serious risk if removed to Nigeria but there’s been no evidence that his documents aren’t genuine.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The UK has a proud history of granting asylum to those who need our protection and each claim is carefully considered on its individual merits.

“We have worked closely with organisations and charities, including Stonewall, the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group, and the UN high commissioner for refugees to improve our guidance and training for asylum caseworkers.”

Friday, June 8, 2018

Video - Healthworkers return to work in Nigeria as negotiations with government continue

A Union of Paramedics who led a one and half month long strike to force a pay rise have agreed to resume work while negotiations continue with government. The protest had crippled health care service delivery and escalated fatalities across government hospitals in Nigeria.

Nigeria FIFA ranking drops to 48th ahead of 2018 World Cup

Nigeria have dropped to 48th in the FIFA's global rankings in June, a week away from the start of 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

The west African country also dropped to the seventh place in Africa.

Nigeria were on the 47th spot and sixth position respectively in the FIFA rankings and continental football in April and May.

An official statement on FIFA's website on Thursday said the recent flurry of pre-FIFA World Cup friendlies left its mark on the latest rankings.

Nigeria's Super Eagles were beaten 1-0 by the Czech Republic on Wednesday, during a last pre-World Cup friendly played in Austria.

Last Saturday, the team also saw a defeat by the Three Lions of England. The match, played at the Wembley Stadium, ended 2-1.

Nigeria had played a 1-1 draw on home soil against DR Congo on May 28.

Nigeria's World Cup opponents Argentina, Croatia, and Iceland are on fifth, 20th and 22nd positions respectively in the FIFA rankings.

Nigeria will face Croatia on June 16 at the football's greatest showcase.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

The story behind Nigeria's World Cup jersey craze

After the sort of long lead-up that can only accompany a once-every-four-years tourney, the World Cup will officially commence next week. Every sports angle's been dissected—which means we can turn to more important ideas, like the fact that the jerseys are, at long last, getting their official releases. And this go-round, undoubtedly the most exciting and anticipated of these jerseys belongs to Nigeria’s national team. 

The kits are a genuine fashion item: there are a couple versions but the favorite features an unripe-lime green in the body with white-and-black sleeves and jagged vertical stripes that are meant to resemble the wings of the team’s mascot, the Super Eagles (but look a little bit like Mario Kart turbo pads). The jersey looks less like a traditional soccer kit than a hyped-up sneaker—particularly the coveted Nike design seen on Acronym’s version of the Vapormax. And the response has been fitting: the jersey has been near-unanimously considered the coolest of this year’s crop ever since it was unveiled in February, and it’s turned from a piece of athletic gear to rarest-provenance streetwear.

Since that February reveal, the jersey’s picked up an alleged three million pre-orders (more on that later), sold out at Supreme box logo speeds, and is now reselling like one of those BOGO tees on the secondary market. Every day ultra-limited sneakers and items from hyped up streetwear brands trade back and forth on secondary platforms like Grailed or StockX, but it’s unusual for a soccer jersey to find its way onto the secondary market. In a World Cup cycle that’s also seen themed releases from Virgil Abloh and Kim Jones, one of the coolest pieces of tournament gear is a regular-degular jersey. How did that happen?

Great design, to start. But once everyone caught on to the jersey’s appeal—especially in comparison to something like England’s jersey, plain white with a badge on the breast, which was revealed alongside Nigeria’s kit—the shirt was sent through the hype machine. Twitter users were enamored with the jersey and started spreading images of it around, it got picked up on streetwear blogs, and was worn by grime star and stylish man Skepta months before going on sale to the general public. 

Then Nike came out and announced that three million people had already bought the jerseys before they were even released. As Quartz notes, analysts were skeptical of those figures since there wasn’t any apparent way to even buy the kits when that was announced—and three million is more than what Manchester United, the most beloved football club in the world, sold in all of 2017. Still, this didn’t stop the internet from going after these jerseys with serious hypebeast passion.

The Nigeria jersey provides a case study in how the streetwear internet works in 2018: cool-looking object gets hyped up endlessly until its coolness is a fact carved into stone. We’ve seen this happen countless times, sure—just not usually with a soccer jersey. But it does feel about time for soccer to have a moment like this. Remember that just a couple years ago Drake Instagrammed himself in a pink jersey from the Italian club Juventus, bumping sales for that particular kit. And soccer has been the inspiration for other designers in the fashion world: Gosha Rubchinskiy collaborated with Adidas on several kits and labels like Versace and Burberry have taken inspiration from the sport in recent collections. 

When Abloh released his collection of soccer gear with Nike he noted how the sport had a defined visual identity. “The great thing about the vocabulary and history of football is that aesthetically it has its own look,” he said.

The Nigeria jerseys seem to tap into what designers already knew: soccer is fashion, or at least a sport worthy of being mined for fashion inspiration and turned into luxury soccer scarfs or streetwear-adjacent jerseys. And so why shouldn’t a team have jerseys befitting that status? When the Super Eagles line up against Croatia in Russia next week, they’ll certainly be the best-dressed dudes on the field. And if and when they make their exit from the tournament, they’ll be able to cushion the blow by flipping their jerseys on eBay.

Nigeria 2018 World Cup kit enjoying huge demand

Nigeria ranked 16th least peaceful country in the world in Global Peace Index

Nigeria has been ranked the 16th least peaceful country in the world, according to the 2018 edition of Global Peace Index, GPI. The report, released yesterday, ranked Nigeria 148 out of the total 163 countries surveyed.

Iceland is the most peaceful country, closely followed by New Zealand and Austria while Syria is ranked least peaceful, coming after Afghanistan and South Sudan respectively.

In Sub-Sahara Africa, Nigeria is ranked 40 out of 44 countries, with Mauritius topping the list, while South Sudan is ranked least. According to the report produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace, IEP, global level of peace has deteriorated by 0.27 percent in the last year, marking the fourth successive year of deterioration. 

It also said the world is “less peaceful today than at any time in the last decade.” It added that 92 countries deteriorated, while only 71 improved. Nigeria is one of such countries, up one place from its 2017 ranking of 149. In 2016, Nigeria was pegged at 149, while the figure was 151 for both 2015 and 2014. 

The report said the global economic impact of violence was $14.76 trillion PPP in 2017, equivalent to 12.4 percent of global GDP, or $1,988 per person. The report covers 99.7 percent of the world’s population and uses 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators from “highly respected sources” to compile the index. 

These indicators are grouped into three key domains: ‘ongoing conflict’, ‘safety and security’, and ‘militarisation.’ All three domains deteriorated over the last year. “There’s been a gradual decline in peacefulness over the last decade,” said Steve Killelea, head of IEP. “The reason for this slow, gradual decline in peacefulness really comes back to the conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa, and the spillover effects into other areas.”

Video - Nigeria 0-1 Czech Republic highlights

Nigeria 0-1 Czech Republic highlights

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Video - New air-conditioning directive in Nigeria is aimed at promoting tourism

All passenger service vehicles operating in Abuja have been directed to fix the air-conditioning in their cars. Authorities say the directive is aimed at promoting tourism - and will be enforced from the 1st of October.

Video - Military rescues 148 Boko Haram hostages in Nigeria

Our correspondent Kelechi Emekalam is following the Nigerian military's crackdown on Boko Haram. The army says it's rescued another 148 hostages from the militant group. They have been freed during an operation in Bama, a remote part of Borno State in north-eastern Nigeria.

China to invest $300m in mass housing in Nigeria

As part of measures to bridge the rising accommodation and shelter gaps in the country, Chinese investors have said they are investing a whopping $300m in mass housing schemes for low and middle income earners across the country.

The Assistant of Director, Director of the One Belt One Road Financing Operation in China, Mr Steven Kim, made the disclosure on Tuesday in Abuja at the operational briefing of the ZVECAN Homes and Estate of the ZVECAN consulting and Engineering Limited.

This is as the Managing Director, Zvecan Homes and Estate, Mr Nicholas Ogbedo, said that over 5,000 civil servants, who are the initial off-takers and completing their documentaries with the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) and the Federal Government Staff Housing Loans Board (FGSHLB), would be the first beneficiaries of the homes to be built on request in one bed-room, two bed-rooms and others bungalows in the allocated locations in the FCT.

The briefing was to update the developer’s inputs for the off-takers in the Federal Integrated Staff Housing (FISH) initiated by the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (HoCSF) Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita, as part of measures to by the Federal Government to provide affordable housing for the Federal Civil Servants before they retire from service.

According to Kim, who spoke through an interpreter, Mr Sylvester Osagie Aigbe, most of the $300m would be spent on local raw materials and technical manpower, while some importations including some raw materials, not readily available in Nigeria, would be imported from China.

“The Chinese Government is reviewing some of its policies in some countries receiving aids and grants, some of the reviews involve direct investment in housing and other critical infrastructural needs. Like we are going to do in Nigeria, partnering indigenous organisations, we have been involved in similar mass housing schemes in Kenya and Angola, where we are building over 3000 units of different specifications of affordable housing,” Kim said.

Speaking earlier, the Managing Director, Zvecan Homes and Estate, Mr Nicholas Ogbedo, said his organisation is working with FISH and other government stakeholders to realize their mandate.

He added that his organisation was involved in the Kenyan and Angola schemes, hence his efforts to get the investors to Nigeria for the benefits of the low and medium civil servants.

Daily Trust

Germany plans to deport 30,000 Nigerians

The German government is set to deport close to 30,000 Nigerians seeking asylum in Germany.

The Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Diaspora and Foreign Affairs, Hon. Abike Dabiri Erewa disclosed this at a programme; "Developing a mixed migration strategy for UNHCR Nigeria" in Abuja on Tuesday.

"Germany said it has about 25,000 to 30,000 Nigerians seeking asylum and they can't guarantee they will get it. So, there is every possibilities that they will be returned to Nigeria," she said.

According to her, the reasons for asylum by the Nigerians were not genuine as "some who are from the East and West are saying they are running away from Boko Haram while some others say they are gays and were having challenges expressing themselves in Nigeria."

The SSA to the President said a date has not yet been set for the deportation of the asylum seeking Nigerians.

"Germany has set up a team working with the ministry of foreign affairs to see how the whole process [of deportation] can be made easier," she added.

While noting that Germany is offering more scholarships and easier process of regular migration for Nigerians, she appealed to young Nigerians to watch out for those opportunities and take advantage of them.

"We are looking at the option of reverse migration also where you can actually stay in your country and enjoy everything you are migrating abroad to get," Hon. Dabiri Erewa added.

She noted that irregular migration was no longer working as the foreign countries were also having their own challenges now.

she said the government was already doing much to tackle the issues that are encouraging irregular migration, adding that "we are fighting corruption, insecurity and trying to revive the economy."

Earlier, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Antonio Jose Canhandula told the stakeholders to suggest better ways of tackling irregular migration, adding that European countries were already closing their doors against migrants.

On her part, the South West Zonal Director of National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI) Margret Ukegbu lamented that Nigerians have started migrating to unpopular countries like Morocco, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Mali.

She noted that importance should be placed on education, stressing that the Nigerian society has been encouraging irregular migration.

Daily Trust

National Assembly threatens President Buhari with impeachment

The National Assembly on Tuesday, gave President Muhammadu Buhari 12-point condition to address urgently or face the invocation of its powers against him.

This was the outcome of closed-door joint executive session of both chambers of the assembly in Abuja.

President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, read the resolution from the session, which lasted over three hours, and declared that the lawmakers would not hesitate to move against the president if he failed to comply.

He enumerated the conditions as:

"1. The Security Agencies must be given marching orders to curtail the sustained killings of Nigerians across the country and protect lives and properties of Nigerians as this is the primary duty of any responsible government.

"2. The systematic harassment and humiliation by the Executive of perceived political opponents, people with contrary opinions, including legislators and judiciary, by the police and other security agencies must stop.

"3. There must be strict adherence to the Rule of Law and protection for all citizens by the President and his appointees.

"4. The President must be held accountable for the actions of his appointees and must be ready to sanction those that carry out any act which will ridicule or endanger our country and democracy.

"5. The Government should show sincerity in the fight against corruption by not being selective, and also prosecute current appointees that have cases pending against them.

"6. The sanctity of the National Assembly should be protected and preserved by the Federal Government of Nigeria by not interfering in its business, but prosecute those who invaded the Senate to seize the mace.

"7a. National Assembly should liaise with International Communities through the IPU, APU, ECOWAS, CPA, Parliament, Pan African Parliament, EU, UN, US Congress and UK Parliament to secure our democracy.

"b. Democratic elections must be competitive and inclusive by removing the present reign of fear and intimidation, particularly as we approach the 2019 elections.

"8. The National Assembly will work closely with Civil Society Organisations, Trade Unions and NGOs to further deepen and protect our democracy.

"9. The President must take immediate steps to contain the growing level of unemployment and poverty in Nigeria, especially now that we have advantage of the oil price having risen to 80 dollars per barrel.

"10. Both chambers of the National Assembly hereby pass a vote-of-confidence on the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the entire leadership of the National Assembly.

"11a. We reaffirm our earlier resolution of vote-of-no-confidence on the Inspector-General of Police, who does nothing other than preside over the killing of innocent Nigerians and consistent framing up of perceived political opponents of the President.

"b.The Inspector-General of Police has outright disregard for constitutional authority, both executive and legislative.

"12. Finally, the National Assembly will not hesitate to invoke its Constitutional powers if nothing is done to address the above resolutions passed today (Tuesday)."