Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Video - At least eight killed in suicide attack on Borno State mosque

In Nigeria, at least eight people have been killed in a suicide attack at a mosque in Borno State. Boko Haram insurgents are believed to be responsible.

Video - Police raid Nigeria Football Federation headquarters

Nigeria's football leadership dispute has taken another new twist. Officials of the Department of State Service have stormed the NFF headquarters in Abuja and ejected the new president, Chris Giwa. Giwa took over leadership following an order by the sports minister, Solomon Dalung, in compliance with a verdict from the Supreme Court.

Video - 52 MPs quit President Buhari's ruling APC party ahead of 2019 poll in Nigeria

In Nigeria, 52 lawmakers from both chambers of the National Assembly have defected from the ruling All Progressives Congress. The move is a blow to President Muhammadu Buhari, who is seeking a second term in next year's elections.

75 Nigerian football fans vanish in Russia after 2018 World Cup

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said 75 out of 230 stranded Nigerian Football fans vanished in Russia after the 2018 FIFA World Cup .

The ministry’s spokesperson, Dr Tope Elias-Fatile, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Abuja that the fans absconded in spite of government’s efforts to repatriate them.

Fatile said that 230 stranded Nigerian football fans were profiled to board chartered Ethiopian Airline to Abuja but at the last minute, only 155 boarded the flight.

“As at the last count, over 230 stranded Nigerians had been cleared to board an Ethiopian Airline flight to Abuja, however, only 155 boarded the flight that arrived Friday night July 22,” he said.

He said that the ministry officials had to contribute to feed some of the stranded Nigerians in Moscow as many of them were left with nothing.

He said that though they had the rights not to come back, it would be better for them to return because of the unfavourable weather in that country.

He said that the mission had done a lot to facilitate their coming back, but they did not appreciate it.

”Do you know that the officials at the mission had to sacrifice their earning by contributing money to feed the stranded fans?,” he said.

He said that if, however, they repented and decided to come back, the ministry was ever ready to assist them.

Fatile said that Federal Government was ever willing to assist Nigerians at anytime, anywhere in the world

The spokesperson said that the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, had also made some contacts with relevant agencies to commence investigation into suspected human trafficking in the case.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the stranded football fans including a nursing mother in her mid-thirties arrived Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport Abuja at about 9.12 p.m. on July 20.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, who was at the airport to monitor their arrival, had said that the Federal Government was going to probe the case.

Onyeama said that the plan to probe the issue surrounding the incident was underway.

He said after a discussion with the Director-General of National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Ms Julie Okah–Donli, it was clear that there were possible cases of human trafficking among the returnees.

“I have spoken to the D-G of NAPTIP and she had also indicated that they had sounded the alarm bells for these young children not to leave the country, that it had all the hallmarks of trafficking and irregular migration,” he said.

The minister insisted that some of them, among whom was a nursing mother, were quite too young to have travelled to Russia by themselves solely for the purpose of the World Cup tournament.

He added that an investigation would also be launched into an allegation that some travel agents cancelled the return tickets of the football fans without informing them, leaving them stranded in the European country.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Video - Nigeria makes progress towards reaching consensus on CFTA deal

Nigeria is moving closer to signing the pan-African free-trade deal. 44 other countries have already signed on. The agreement scraps barriers to intra-African trade. President Muhammadu Buhari says he's made significant progress in reaching consensus to sign the deal.

Video - At least 44 people dead, thousands stranded after heavy rains in Nigeria

At least 44 people are dead and scores still missing after severe flooding in Nigeria. Torrential rains have swept across northern parts of the country this week, leaving thousands of people homeless.

Video - Nigerian football league suspended after leadership row

Leadership wrangles in Nigeria's football managing body have taken another twist. The League Management Company has suspended all Premier League matches indefinitely.

Nigerians are burying cash in backyards due to stumble in mobile cash

Every few days, Tasiu Abdurrahman takes the money he makes from selling spices in Nigeria’s biggest northern city and buries it in his yard.

The 55-year-old closed his bank account eight years ago after growing disillusioned with standing in long lines for hours to deposit or withdraw cash. Abdurrahman is one of about 50 million of the unbanked in Nigeria, which despite having Africa’s largest mobile-phone market, is only just opening up to the technology to bring banking to its estimated 200 million people.

“My business partners need cash,” said Abdurrahman as he juggled two mobile phones at his ginger and tamarind stand, one of many dotting the streets in Kano. “If they all opened bank accounts, I would be happy to.”

Financial inclusion in Nigeria -- which vies with South Africa as the continent’s biggest economy -- has gone backward as the regulator blocked network operators from applying for mobile-money licenses that would allow cash transfers without the need for a bank account. Between 2014 and 2017, the percentage of banked adults dropped nearly 4 percentage points to 39 percent, while the sub-Saharan African average increased more than 8 percentage points to 43 percent.

The Central Bank of Nigeria this month announced it is not on track to reach its target of increasing financial inclusion to 80 percent by 2020. It is now reviewing the path it took in 2012 with a “refreshed strategy” and has also signed a cooperation agreement with the Nigerian Communications Commission to improve the penetration of financial services using mobile phones.

Baby Steps

Less than 6 percent of Nigerians use their handsets to transact using mobile money, compared with 73 percent of Kenyans, where more than two-thirds of adults have a bank account, according to the World Bank. That’s even though there are more than two phones for every bank account in the West African nation.

Mobile First

Nigerians own twice as many mobile-phone lines as they do bank accounts

“We’re taking baby steps when we should be running,” Yomi Ibosiola, an associate director at Deloitte Nigeria’s data analytics practice, said in an interview in Lagos, the commercial hub.

Cellular phone operators would invest more if they were allowed to lead the way, said Emeka Oparah, a spokesman for Bharti Airtel Ltd.’s Nigerian unit, which has 40 million subscribers.

“Right now, we’re only providing a platform for some people to use, if it becomes our business, we will invest in it,” Oparah said. The government should adjust its policies “if it wants to move very quickly.”
Verification Details

Fidelity Bank Plc allows people to open an account using a mobile phone, said Chief Operations and Information Officer Gbolahan Joshua. It is also using agents to offer banking services, such as small payments and deposits, through informal branches, he said, adding the lender has 3.9 million customers.

“When you open an account on your mobile, you can receive money but you cannot make payments,” Joshua said. “You need a Bank Verification Number to make transactions on that account you opened on mobile. Since the targets for financial inclusion are people that don’t have BVN already, some infrastructure needs to be deployed, like mobile BVN.”

There are efforts being made to remove those obstacles. One includes issuing identity numbers to 70 million people by the end of next year and pulling together the government’s various identity verification systems into a centralized database, which will make it easier for people to plug into financial services.
India Inspiration

The central bank has said it’s taking inspiration from India, where a government-biometric database known as Aadhaar helped grow financial inclusion from 53 percent to 80 between 2014 and 2017, by cutting the cost for banks of identifying a customer.

Regulators in Nigeria also announced an initiative in March that will help to increase banking agents to 500,000 within two years, from 100,000, according to estimates by Enhancing Financial Innovation & Access, or EFInA, a research organization.

“One of the major issues for banks has been the cost of going to those unprofitable areas,” said Henry Chukwu, who focuses on broadening agent networks at EFInA.

Most of the biggest lenders are focused on business banking. Zenith Bank Plc, the country’s largest lender with the equivalent of $15.4 billion in assets, makes about 6 percent of its revenue from retail banking and about 58 percent from corporates.

There are not enough incentives for people to open bank accounts, especially among the poor, said Ameya Upadhyay, a principal in the investment team of Omidyar Network Fund Inc., which has invested in Pagatech, one of Nigeria’s first mobile-money providers, and another company that gives loans to small- and medium-sized businesses. About 87 million Nigerians live on less than $1.90 a day, according to Vienna-based World Data Lab’s World Poverty Clock.

“You have to create a ‘pull’ to these accounts and that happens when those accounts are meaningful to people’s every day lives,” he said, such as increasing the number of merchants with pay points or offering more insurance, savings or lending products. “People don’t eat accounts.”

Abdurrahman, the Kano spice merchant, agrees and remains unconvinced about using his phone to transact.

“I may decide to go for mobile money if more of my suppliers have it,” he said. “But for now I am very comfortable keeping cash at the shop to pay for supplies and keeping the rest at home.”

Nigeria to relaunch its national airline by the end of year

Nigeria unveiled a new national carrier Wednesday, nearly 15 years after the previous state-run airline, Nigerian Airways ceased operations.

The new airline will be known as Nigeria Air.

Nigerian Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika made the announcement and unveiled the new branding and livery for the airline at the Farnborough International Airshow in the UK.
"I'm very pleased to tell you that we are finally on track to launching a new national flag carrier for our country: Nigeria Air," Sirika said at the event.

The name was chosen after Nigeria's Ministry of Aviation invited Nigerian youth and students to contribute "their ideas and creativity in developing the new Nigerian Flag carrier," according to the website

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari's media aide, Bashir Ahmad announced the name on Twitter.
"And it's Nigeria Air ...Bringing Nigeria closer to the world #NigeriaAtFarnborough," Ahmad wrote, alongside a photo of the branding presented at Farnborough.

According to Sirika, the federal government hopes to launch operations by the end of the year.
Nigerians have greeted the announcement with skepticism as they expressed uncertainty about the federal government's capacity to sustain a national airline, especially considering its track record with previous national carriers.

One man wrote on Twitter that he supported the creation of a national airline, "as long as it's not the government running it."

Their fears may be allayed by reports that the airline will be primarily owned and managed by a group of a yet unidentified private investors. 

"The Nigerian Government will not own more than 5% (maximum) of the new National Carrier. The government will not be involved in running it or deciding who runs it," Sirika said at the press conference in Farnborough.

Marketplace Africa covers the macro trends impacting the region and profiles the continent's key industries and corporations. 

However, some are also questioning the government's involvement in bargaining with aircraft manufacturers such as Boeing in light of Sirika's statement.

"No private investors named but the govt that will supposedly own a tiny percentage is leading negotiations for aircraft purchase and drawing logo in Calibri font. Carry on," London-based Nigerian commentator, Feyi Fawehinmi wrote on Twitter.

Nigeria's federal government has suffered many setbacks in its many attempts to create a new national carrier since Nigerian Airways ceased operations in 2003.
Described as 'Africa's fastest growing airline' in its heyday in the 1980s, Nigeria Airways was plagued by mismanagement, eventually amassing millions of dollars in debt upon its closure.

In 2004, a team of Nigerian investors and Virgin Atlantic Airways, owned by British entrepreneur, Sir Richard Branson signed a joint venture agreement creating a new national carrier, Virgin Nigeria.

Despite reaching record numbers and carrying its 1,000,000th passenger within two years of operations, Virgin Atlantic announced plans to sell its 49% stake in Virgin Nigeria in August 2008, along with a review of whether "the Virgin brand should remain linked to Virgin Nigeria."

In September 2009, Virgin Nigeria announced a name change to Nigerian Eagle Airlines on its website.

In 2010, Nigerian business magnate, Jimoh Ibrahim acquired a majority stake in the carrier and announced a rebranding to Air Nigeria.

The airline eventually ceased operations in September 2012, weeks after laying off the majority of its staff.

Minister Hadi Sirika assured the audience at Farnborough and Nigerians that the new national carrier would be a much sturdier and efficient enterprise.

"I am confident that we will have a well-run national flag carrier, a global player, compliant to international safety standards, one which has the customer at its heart. 

"An airline that communicates the essence of our beautiful country, an airline we can all be proud of," Sirika said at the unveiling.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Video - West Africa's first light railway system launched in Abuja, Nigeria

The first light railway system in West Africa has been launched in the Nigerian capital, Abuja. The 8-hundred million dollar project is the first phase of a grand plan to build a comprehensive metro railway system to boost public transport in Abuja.

Video - Nigeria close to signing Continental Free Trade Agreement

Africa's largest economy Nigeria is inching closer to signing the pan Africa free trade deal, almost five months after 44 other African countries signed it. President Muhamadu Buhari has made significant progress in reaching a consensus to sign the deal that would see member states drop non tariff barriers to intra Africa trade.

Six hacked to death in Nigerian market by suspected herdsmen

Six traders were hacked to death and at least 17 others wounded in an attack at a local market in Nigeria's northeastern state of Taraba, according to local police and residents on Wednesday.

Local authorities have ordered the closure of the Iware market in Ardo-Kola area of the state following the incident on Tuesday.

Taraba police spokesman David Misal said an investigation has been launched to arrest the perpetrators and confirm the motive of the gruesome attack.

So far, no arrest has been made in connection with the killing.

Misal said the information available to the police indicated that the attackers struck in retaliation for an alleged rustling of their cattle.

"The attackers claimed that the cows they (the traders) brought to the market were their cows, stolen during a recent conflict in another area of the state," he said.

Local residents told Xinhua there was pandemonium at the local market as the attackers went on the rampage. Most traders abandoned their wares as they ran to safety.

"We gathered that the killers trailed their victims from Lau, one of the areas where there was a recent farmer-herders conflict," said Jipsari Mohammed, a survivor.

Clashes between herders and farmers in Nigeria have left hundreds dead in the past few months.

The majority of farmer-herder clashes have occurred between Muslim Fulani herdsmen and Christian peasants, exacerbating ethno-religious hostilities.

Super Eagle Ahmed Musa shortlisted for best goal in 2018 World Cup

Nigerian forward Ahmed Musa is in the race for the best goal at the 2018 FIFA World Cup hosted by Russia. His goal has been shortlisted along with the likes of Ronaldo, Messi and Modric.

The player’s second goal in Nigeria’s victory against Iceland in the group stages joins seventeen other contenders in a contest to pick which one is the best.

It is the last individual accolade to be presented by the football governing body having already named the best player (Luka Modric, Croatia), best young player (Kylian Mbappe, France), top goalscorer (Harry Kane, England), top goalkeeper (Thibaut Curtois) and Fair play team of the tourney (Spain).

It is also a contest that is open to public voting. “Here is your chance to vote for the 2018 FIFAWorld Cup Russia Goal of the Tournament, presented by Hyundai.

“Choose below from our shortlist of the best 18 goals at Russia 2018 and cast your vote. Voting will remain open until Monday 23 July, so don’t miss this opportunity to pick your favourite!” FIFA wrote on their website.

Entrepreneur Emeka Offor wants to combat mental health crisis in Nigeria

Apparently concerned about rising cases of mental disabilities among Nigerians, leading entrepreneur and philanthropist, Sir Emeka Offor, has begun a series of interventions aimed at equipping Nigerian health officials with adequate knowledge and tools to tackle the ailment.

Top on the series of programmes lined up by the oil industry player and industrialist, is a mental health training and awareness programme, which has already organized a training programme in conjunction with an American group known as The Educator Incorporated, a non-profit organisation with key interest in promoting healthy individuals and family development through training, advocacy and policy formulation.

The event, which took place at Sir Emeka Offor Foundation Headquarters at Oraifite, Anambra State, brought together top players in the health sector, academia and the community as well as the state. Others who took part in the programme were drawn from the police, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, Medical and Nursing students, traders and community leaders and youths. Declaring the training programme open, Sir Offor said he was driven by the need to create an enduring enlightenment on the scourge of mental health so as to steer the people off the path of the ailment. 

The promoter of the foundation also said that he would do all within his powers to ensure that the problem of mental health was contained so that the people could live happily and contribute meaningfully to the development of their family and society.

Universal Music to launch division in Nigeria

Universal Music Group today announced an expansion of its operations in Western Africa with the launch of Universal Music Nigeria. This new strategic division will operate from a new office in Lagos under the leadership of Ezegozie Eze Jr., who has been named General Manager of Universal Music Nigeria.

According to the announcement, Eze and his team will support artists from Nigeria, Ghana, and Gambia throughout the continent and beyond, utilizing Universal Music Group’s global networks for wider discovery, marketing, promotion and distribution. Eze has previously held roles at Channel O Television, Empire Mates Entertainment (Banky W & WizKid) and was a founder of Pan-African creative companies, Republic 54, Alore Group, and Duma Collective. He will report to Sipho Dlamini, MD, Universal Music South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.

The label has signed a host of Nigerian-born artists including WurlD, Odunsi (the Engine), Tay Iwar, and Ghanaian-born artists Cina Soul and Stonebwoy. In addition, the label has recently signed deals with acclaimed Banku singer and songwriter Mr Eazi for pan-African releases, co-signed Nigerian artist Tekno in conjunction with Island Records UK and Tanzanian singer and songwriter Vanessa Mdee in conjunction with AfroForce1 Records/Universal Music Central Europe/Universal Music South Africa.

In making the announcement, Dlamini said, “In recent years there has been an increase in visibility of Nigerian and Ghanaian music and its influence on contemporary music around the world. Eze and his team are perfectly placed to support, nurture and help develop artists and musicians from the region, whilst creating opportunities for new talent from the region to reach the widest possible audience.”

Eze commented, “I am delighted to be officially launching Universal Music’s Nigerian division at such an exciting time for African music around the world. The world’s largest music company opening an office within the region is a huge statement of belief in our local music talent. The signings we have already made show our ambition to help our artists reach the widest global audience and we are looking forward to working closely with our UMG label partners around the world to make that happen.”

This new division will work in partnership with existing UMG operations throughout the continent including Cote D’Ivoire, Morocco and alongside key markets across English-speaking Africa. Universal Music Group operates two successful live music companies within Africa, both of which will also have divisions within Universal Music Nigeria.

The new company is also developing plans to open a recording studio in Lagos. It will become UMG’s second fully purposed studio within Africa, alongside the existing facility in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Video - Nigerian football fans stranded in Moscow with no return tickets back home

Nigeria may have been eliminated from the FIFA World Cup two weeks ago, but some fans are still in Russia -- stranded with no return tickets. A few dozen Nigerians have been sleeping outside the embassy in Moscow. They reportedly acquired Fan ID tickets back in Nigeria, with the promise they could watch the World Cup matches and then remain in Russia where work opportunities were awaiting them. About 200 Nigerians are believed to be stranded in Moscow, without flights home and no work visas permitting them to stay in the country.

President Buhari orders Aviation minister to bring back stranded football fans in Moscow

Stranded Nigerian football fans camped on the floor outside the country's embassy in Moscow have been ordered home by President Muhammadu Buhari, his aide said.
Around 200 Nigerians became stranded in Russia following the World Cup as they did not have a return ticket home, authorities said. 

They had gone to support the national Super Eagles team, but some also planned to settle in Russia after the tournament. 

Buhari has ordered the Minister of Aviation and Foreign Ministry to bring the fans back home, the President's Senior Special Assistant, Garba Shehu said.

Lagos State governor Akinwunmi Ambode was also forced to step in last week to cover the return expenses of around 50 of the fans.

Some of them said they had paid agents large sums of money to obtain the Fan ID documents issued by the Russian authorities as a special traveling document during the World Cup. 

Two brothers Ismail and Sodiq Olamilekan said they paid N250,000 naira ($800) each to a man in Lagos for their Fan IDs. 

They said they planned to become professional footballers in Russia. 

Others paid over one million in the local currency, naira ($3,000) for the document, they said.
"The man told us that with the Fan ID we could get a job and stay here," Ismail told AFP at a hostel on the outskirts of Moscow.
"But when we got here we discovered that it was a fraud, that he had just collected the money and lied to us," he said. 

Rafiu Ladipo, of the Nigerian Supporters Club, told CNN: "Some of those who traveled for other reasons beyond the World Cup did so in ignorance and believing that Europe is all rosy and everything becomes available as soon as you touch down."

Monday, July 16, 2018

Video - Nigeria floods worsen food shortages

Flooding and heavy rains are affecting many parts of Nigeria. Dozens of people have been killed and crops have been lost, raising fears of a food shortage. As the rains peak in a few weeks’ time, many farming communities living in Nigeria’s fertile basins are bracing for more losses, with wider implications on country’s agricultural output.

Video - Five officers, 18 soldiers missing after attack in Borno state, Nigeria

More than 100 Nigerian army troops are still missing following an attack on a military convoy on Saturday in Borno state. The attacking insurgents were believed to have been those who escaped the ongoing military offensive in the Sambisa Forest and Lake Chad region. Local media reports say the military was acting on intelligence when it mobilised the troops in a convoy of 11 trucks to clear the insurgents from the Bama Local Government Area in Borno State. Reinforcement troops have since been deployed from Maiduguri to Borno state following the attack.

China planning to invest $3 billion in oil operations in Nigeria

China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC) is willing to invest $3 billion in its existing oil and gas operation in Nigeria, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) said on Sunday following a meeting with the Chinese in Abuja.

During a visit to Nigeria’s state-owned NNPC, CNOOC Chief Executive Yuan Guangyu said the Beijing-based oil company had invested more than $14 billion in its Nigerian operations and expressed readiness to invest more.

Guangyu said Nigeria was their largest investment destination and also asked the NNPC to seek common grounds with CNOOC for enhanced productivity.

Nigeria has been holding talks with oil majors over new finance agreements for joint ventures since last year. The NNPC last year signed financing agreements with Chevron (CVX.N) and Shell (RDSa.L) worth at least $780 million to boost crude production and reserves.

Other western oil companies, including ExxonMobil (XOM.N), operate in Nigeria through joint ventures with NNPC.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Video - Nigerian president says he intends to sign CFTA agreement

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has admitted the reason he hasn't signed the Continental Free-Trade Area agreement is because he is, quote, a slow reader. But the Nigerian leader says he does intend to sign the deal, which was reached by African leaders at a summit in Rwanda in March. Once the agreement is implemented, it will be the world's largest free-trade area.

MTN offices reopen in Nigeria after days of violent protests

MTN Group Ltd. reopened offices in Nigeria that had been closed since Monday due to violent protests by labor groups against Africa’s largest mobile-phone company by subscribers.

Staff were assaulted and properties vandalized during the demonstrations, the Johannesburg-based company said in an emailed response to questions on Friday. The wireless carrier is working with the Nigerian Communications Commission, government ministries and industry groups to reach an “amicable resolution” with unions led by the Nigeria Labour Congress, MTN said.

A spokesman for MTN Nigeria said later Friday that the offices were back open. He declined to comment on whether a settlement had been reached with the labor groups.

The NLC had been picketing MTN’s offices across Nigeria all this week, accusing the company of refusing to allow workers to be asked whether they want to join a labor union. The company rejected the claim, saying none of its workers took part in the protest.

MTN is the market leader in Nigeria with almost 55 million customers, but has had a troubled relationship with Africa’s most populous country in recent years. In 2015, the company was hit with a regulatory fine that led to more than 18 months of negotiations that eroded the share price. Last year, MTN Nigeria’s headquarters in the capital, Abuja, were vandalized in retaliation for xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa.

The shares declined 0.2 percent to 106.67 rand as of 12:15 p.m. in Johannesburg, extending the year-to-date drop to 21 percent.

New China-assisted light rail services commences in Abuja, Nigeria

Nigeria on Thursday formally commissioned the China-assisted Abuja light rail transportation system, the first of its kind in West Africa.

Nigerian leader Muhammadu Buhari declared the full operation of the capital city's light rail system, handled by China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) and partly funded by the Export-Import Bank of China.

Buhari, while delivering a keynote address at the light rail's commissioning ceremony, hailed the project as a significant milestone in the history of Nigeria.

"I am very optimistic that a modern rail service would bring about a boost to the FCT (Federal Capital Territory) economy and greatly enhance social life," said Buhari, who, thereafter, took a ride on the train.

Local passengers will enjoy a free ride on the train for one month, starting from Friday, said Kong Tao, an operations manager of the CCECC.

Kong said the three available coaches can convey more than 300 passengers on a trip, while at least 1,000 people are expected to daily ride on the train.

With a total length of 45 kilometers, the newly completed Lot A1 and Lot 3 of the light rail are part of the Abuja rail mass transit project.

The light rail was designed to have an interface with the national line at two points, where there would be interchanges to join the rail line linking the northern part of Nigeria.

It covers 12 stations, 21 operational offices, 13 bridges, 50 culverts and nine pedestrian overpasses.

The commissioning was preceded by a three-month test run, during which residents of Abuja beheld the new addition to the country's transportation infrastructure.

Buhari, together with key cabinet members and officials of the Federal Capital Territory Administration, flagged off the light rail transportation from the Abuja Metro Station, located behind the Abuja World Trade Center still under construction in the city center.

The president and co-passengers, including Zhou Pingjian, the Chinese ambassador in Nigeria, rode on the train to the Abuja Airport Terminal at the capital city's Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport.

Forty-year-old Chima Paul, who drove Buhari and others, told Xinhua it was a rare privilege for him to convey the country's very important personalities on his train.

"Apart from that, I am happier because this light rail system is a historic feat happening in my lifetime," said Paul.

"I've been driving the train for about three years now after learning from the Chinese. With this now, I can support my family and build a new career for myself," said the father of three.

Paul said the Abuja light rail is expected to reduce vehicular traffic and accidents, ensures the durability of the roads and makes transportation of goods, services and people a lot easier.

Nigerians had long anticipated the use of this facility, said Daniel Obot, a local civil servant.

According to him, the local transportation experience in the city of Abuja, the political capital of Nigeria, may never be the same as the train service cuts down travel time and cost.

Abuja, with a population of 4 million, is a relatively new city in Nigeria, but one of the fastest developing cities in Africa.

The construction of the light rail and its use is expected to open up new towns and boost economic activities along the corridor of Gwagwa, Kalgoni, DeiDei, Kubwa, Kokoaba, Dasonga, Asa, among 12 satellite towns in the Nigerian capital city.

For now, only three sets of standard coaches have been provided to cover skeletal services as the main set of the rolling stock is being awaited to make operations cover more passengers.

Sunny Moniedafe, a Nigerian education administrator, described his first ride on the train as "comfortable."

"I am seated as if I'm in my parlor and it is moving. Truly, this is commendable. I can see that the journey between the airport and the main city has reduced drastically and it is very comfortable," Moniedafe said.

"It is a very good thing. I commend the Chinese government for the relationship with the Nigerian government to make things better for us," he added.

Second man jailed for involvement in Chibok girls kidnapping

A Nigerian court has jailed a second man involved in the kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls from Chibok town in northeast Nigeria, officials told CNN Friday.
Banzana Yusuf was sentenced to 20 years in prison by the court sitting at the Kainji military base in Niger, a central Nigerian state this week, Salihu Isah, a spokesman for the justice ministry said.
No further details were given about his involvement in the abduction.

This is the second conviction in connection to the Chibok kidnappings this year.
In February, the court imposed a second 15-year sentence on Haruna Yahaya, who was involved in the kidnapping.

Boko Haram militants seized 276 schoolgirls between the ages 16 to 18, from their boarding school in the town of Chibok, Borno State April 2014, sparking global outrage.

Eighty-two of the schoolgirls were released in a swap between the Nigerian government and the militant group last year.

But more than 100 of them remain in captivity, with their whereabouts unknown.
The militant group has kidnapped more than 1,000 children in Nigeria since 2013, according to a recent report, most recently kidnapping 110 schoolgirls from the town of Dapchi in Yobe state on February 19.

More than 200 people have been convicted for their involvement with the insurgent group this year.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Video - South African president Ramaphosa visits Nigeria

South African president Cyril Ramaphosa is in Nigeria for a official two-day visit. He is expected to attend the annual Afri-exim bank meeting, and hold bilateral talks with President Muhammadu Buhari.

Video - Nigerian opposition parties form alliance to challenge Buhari in 2019

It looks like President Muhammadu Buhari has a fight on his hands for next year's elections. 38 opposition parties have united to field a presidential candidate to run against Buhari in the February polls. Among the parties is the main opposition P-D-P and a breakaway faction of the ruling All Progressives Congress. CGTN's Deji Badmus takes a look at how much of a threat this new coalition poses to Buhari.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Google to partner with Nigeria on global digital access

The Federal Government on Tuesday gave the assurance that it would partner premier internet provider, Google, in the Google’s Next Billion users plan intended to ensure greater digital access in Nigeria and around the world.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo gave the assurance during a meeting with Google executives at the company’s corporate headquarters in the Silicon Valley at the start of the investment roadshow he is leading to San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The proposal is in line with the Federal Government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), especially its strategy to diversify the economy by making technology an important foreign exchange earner.

A release issued by Mr Laolu Akande, the Vice President’s Spokesman said that Google CEO Sundar Pichai welcomed the Vice President to the meeting held at Googleplex in California, U.S.

The Vice President also said the Federal Government would partner Google in the area of localisation of content and content creation to make content cheaper and more accessible to Nigerians.

Osinbajo also discussed other areas for partnership with Google, including the establishment of Google Artificial Intelligence Centres in Institutions of Higher Learning in Nigeria.

Another is the establishment of a Youtube Creator space to support Nigeria’s digital content producers and enable them to make money with their craft leveraging on Youtube and Google Tools.

Other areas discussed include the expansion of Google’s Launchpad Accelerator Programme in Africa.

According to Akande, Google also indicated interest in the policy environment in Nigeria and formulation of policy to encourage partnerships and investments from Google global with companies in Nigeria’s technology space.

For Nigeria, the Google Next Billion Users plan is expected to provoke innovation on a large scale.

Nigeria has been identified as one of the major countries where the latest generation of Internet users will come from, and the next billion users are said to be already changing the Internet in three key ways.

The areas include: the prominent use of smartphones to access the Internet, an instinct for universal computing, and a demand for localized content.

The future of the internet is in the hands of the next billion users, as the global technology company has noted.

It is reckoned that the latest generation of internet users will come online on smartphones in places such as Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and Nigeria.

The country’s interest is in line with its ERGP plans and quest to become a data-driven digital economy in addition to making gains in terms of the efficiency and transparency of process that a digital economy offers.

“Also in Federal Government’s effort of ensuring a skilled work force, it is partnering Google to increase the number of Nigerians in the global technology firm’s Launchpad Accelerator, and Google I/O Developer Festivals.

“Also Google will offer training to Nigerians on Android and Web Development, Digital Marketing and Taking Business Online,’’ he said.

Akande recalled that an objective of the Vice President’s trip was to showcase to the world the progress and strides in the country’s technology, innovation and creative space by Nigerian start-ups and entertainment industry practitioners.

At the meeting held on Tuesday in Silicon Valley, the Vice President also interacted with scores of Nigerians working with Google.

He later met with a series of key technology investors and also visited the headquarters of LinkedIn where he was the Special Guest at the firm’s Fireside Chat with Nigerians in the Diaspora.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Video - CAF promotes Nigeria Football Federation chief Amaju Pinnick amidst power struggle

Africa's football body CAF, has promoted Nigeria's embattled football president to the post of first Vice-President, despite protracted leadership wrangles in the country's football federation.

Video - Nigeria's World Cup Experience

Nigeria's World Cup dream may have come to an end in the group stage, but the nation recently had the chance to present itself to the world from Russia...away from the pitch. At an exhibition in Moscow, Nigerian song and dance was on display for football fans from all over the world in Russia for the World Cup.

Video - New breakaway faction yet to register as party ahead of polls in Nigeria

Still in Nigeria, internal rifts in the ruling All Progressive Congress are deepening. A group of party members announced they were forming a break-away faction, just months before next year's elections. The splinter group is compromised of politicians from six states, who have indicated that they will be backing a candidate under a new party, known as the Reformed A-P-C. CGTN's Kelechi Emekalam takes a look at how much the new party could change Nigeria's political landscape.

Video - Nigeria's epicentre of unrest over land and resources

The fight for fertile land and other resources between farmers and cattle herders in central Nigeria has forced hundreds from their homes. In Jos, central Nigeria's Plateau State, food shortages are feared as the economy suffers because of the rising violence and lack of investment.

Vice-president of Nigeria meets with Google's CEO

Nigeria’s vice-president Yemi Osinbajo, who is leading a three-day US roadshow to showcase the growth of Nigeria’s tech and entertainment sectors, yesterday met with Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

Yesterday Pichai tweeted: “Happy to welcome the Vice President of Nigeria @ProfOsinbajo to the Googleplex today — great to chat with him about the opportunities of Nigeria’s digital economy”.

Osinbajo, who arrived in the US yesterday, is leading a public-private sector collaborative investment roadshow to the US, where he will be speaking to global industry leaders in IT and entertainment sectors in Silicon Valley in San Francisco and in Hollywood, California, until tomorrow (11 July).

The vice-president yesterday tweeted that at a fireside chat with LinkedIn co-founder Allen Blue he described the role the role of the recently inaugurated Technology and Creativity Advisory Group to drive policy in tech innovation and entertainment.

In a press release today the vice president’s office said Osinbajo has spoken extensively about the commitment of Nigeria’s federal government to supporting the growth of technology and creative industries in the country through its policies and reforms.

180 child soldier handed over to UN by Nigerian military

Nigerian army says it has handed over 183 child "foot soldiers" freed from the Boko Haram terror group to a UN agency and the government. 

The children aged between seven and 18 years old were released to the Borno State government and UNICEF in Maiduguri, northeast Nigeria, which has borne the brunt of Boko Haram's decade-long insurgency. 

Army spokesman John Agim told CNN the children were being used as "foot soldiers" by the militants.
"Boko Haram militants send them for different kinds of operations, but they are under-aged. So, they need to be rehabilitated before they are released to their families," Agim said.

However, a UNICEF Nigeria spokeswoman said the group of eight girls and 175 boys were released after they were cleared of any affiliation with Boko Haram. 

Eva Hinds said the agency "views the children as children," and therefore they could not be classified as child soldiers or "being affiliated to violence without any judicial process. From our perspective, children are easily coerced into doing things to stay alive." 

"Their involvement is still an allegation," she added. 

The children are being rehabilitated and given psychological support, Hinds said. 

Around 8,700 children released from armed groups have been rehabilitated in the country since 2017, according to UN figures. 

Mohamed Fall, who heads UNICEF Nigeria, said their release from the military was "an important step on their long road to recovery."

"I also want to commend the action taken by the military and the authorities, it demonstrates a clear commitment to better protect children affected by the conflict," Fall said.

Last month, the army said it had rescued 148 hostages, most of them women and children, from Boko Haram militants.

Over 1,000 hostages were also freed in May by the military after a week-long battle with insurgents in northeast Nigeria.

Boko Haram has devastated vast swathes of northeast Nigeria over a ten-year period and has kidnapped more than 1,000 children in Nigeria since 2013, according to a recent report.
The group sparked global outrage after militants seized 276 girls from a boarding school in Chibok town, Borno in 2014. 

Some of the girls were freed last year following negotiations between the government and the militant group.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Video - President Buhari optimistic about defeating insurgents in Nigeria

Nigeria's President Muhamadu Buhari is in the north east of the country, to mark military successes recorded against Boko Haram insurgents. The one-week long celebration is being held amidst renewed claims that Boko Haram is all but defeated. CGTN's Kelechi Emekalam takes a closer look at how much the offensive against Boko Haram has achieved.

Video - Nigerian military denies UN report on human rights violations

Nigeria's military is rejecting a UN report that placed equal blame on the military and Boko Haram for killing and maiming hundreds of children in the country's north east. CGTN's Kelechi Emekalam has more.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Video - U.S. court awards P&ID $8.89 billion against Nigeria government

A United States' district court has awarded Process and Industrial Developments Limited 6.59 billion dollars and interest of 2.3 billion dollars after the Nigerian government failed in its part of the deal. The company got into a contract with the government for gas supply.

British Nigerian jailed for trafficking women

A London-based nurse has been sentenced to 14 years in prison following a landmark prosecution which saw her convicted for trafficking Nigerian women to Europe and forcing them into sex work.

Josephine Iyamu, 51, was sentenced to 14 years in prison, 13 years for the slavery offences and 1 year for perverting the course of justice, to be served consecutively. She will serve at least half of that in prison, the rest on the licence.

Iyamu is the first British national to be convicted under the Modern Slavery Act for offences committed overseas, UK’s National Crime Agency said in a statement on its website.

In July 2017, The National Crime Agency’s (NCA) investigation into Iyamu began following information from the German Police who had identified one of her victims working in a brothel in Trier.

Investigations showed that she had positioned herself as a rich and powerful woman in Nigeria and had launched a political campaign through which she claimed she wanted to empower women and families.

Iyamu recruited vulnerable women from rural villages and promised them a better life in Europe but was arrested by NCA officers after landing at Heathrow airport on a flight from Lagos on 24 August 2017.

Whilst in prison, she made attempts to trace and intimidate the victims and their families together with bribing law enforcement officers into proving her innocence.

On 28 June 2018 at Birmingham Crown Court, she was found guilty of five counts of facilitating the travel of another person with a view to exploitation and one count of attempting to prevent the course of justice.

The NCA’s financial investigation into Iyamu’s illicit earnings and assets continues.

Speaking as he sentenced Iyamu, Judge Richard Bond described Iyamu’s victims as “naive and trusting women who only wanted to make theirs and their families lives better,” and said she had seen them as “commodities…to earn you money.” During their journey to Europe, he said they had been “exposed to a real and significant risk of death.”

Kay Mellor, operations manager at the NCA, said Iyamu specifically targeted vulnerable women and put them through the most horrific experience for her own financial gain.

“She thought living in a different country to were her crimes were committed would protect her. Working closely with our Nigerian and German colleagues however we were able to bring her to justice right here in the UK.

Mellor added that Iyamu’s expenditure on travel and properties far outweighed her legitimate earnings as a nurse and investigation into her finances is ongoing.

National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) Director-General, Dame Julie Okah-Donli said: “As part of our renewed determination to root out human trafficking from Nigeria, we have strengthened our networking and collaboration with the relevant sister law enforcement agencies around the world. This simply means that there no more a hiding place for any human trafficker around the world.”

He further commended the officers of NAPTIP and the partners in NCA for the heart-warming development.

Nigerian football fan in Russia seeks political asylum

A football fan from Nigeria has reportedly requested political asylum in Russia, citing fears of political persecution in his home country, the Moscow Times reports. Human rights groups say it is difficult for asylum seekers to obtain refugee status in Russia, with only 582 people admitted as refugees in 2017, the lowest number in the past decade.

Since the World Cup began, dozens of people who entered Russia using World Cup fan identity documents have attempted to enter neighbouring European countries and request asylum.

The 31-year-old citizen of Nigeria arrived to Russia for the World Cup before asking police in the Perovo district of Moscow for political asylum, the RBC news agency reported, citing an unnamed police source. “The man said that he had participated in anti-government protests in his country and that his life was currently threatened by Nigerian government forces,” the police source was cited as saying. 

The asylum request has been transferred to a local migration services branch of the Interior Ministry, RBC reported. According to Russian law, political asylum requests are granted by presidential decree.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Video - France sign $475 million agreement on projects with Nigeria

France's Emmanuel Macron is wrapping up his two day state visit to Nigeria. The French president and his Nigerian counterpart Muhamadu Buhari have signed a 475 million dollar agreement for the implementation of different projects in Lagos, Kano and Ogun States.

Traditional healer killed in 'bullet-proof' charm test in Nigeria

A self-styled traditional healer in Nigeria has died after one of his clients tested his "bullet-proof" charms on him.

Chinaka Adoezuwe, 26, was killed after instructing the man to shoot him as he was wearing the charms around his neck.

Police in the country's south-eastern Imo state say the client has been arrested on suspicion of murder.

Charms are popular in Nigeria, where traditional healers are consulted for cures for various ailments.

But there have been several reports of people being killed after testing "bullet-proof" charms and medicines.

"A young man had gone to [the healer] to prepare bullet-proof charms for him, which the native doctor did," a villager told the Punch newspaper.

"To prove the efficacy of the new charms, [he] positioned and handed over a gun to his customer. Tragedy struck."

In January, a traditional medicine seller was arrested after a man drank a "bullet-repelling" liquid and was shot dead.

The seller in north-western Nigeria reportedly assured the man that he could not die if he was shot.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

France pledges security support to Nigeria

French Leader Emmanuel Macron yesterday met with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja, challenging him to work towards providing an enabling economic and political environment to help youths to achieve their dreams.He noted that it was important for leaders in Africa to understand why young people were disposed to joining terrorist groups.

“What we have to better understand is why many people are convinced to join these jihadists and these terrorists. That is why it is very important to build not just the security approach but also the stabilisation approach at the same time, to provide new opportunities.“Your governments will take care of you, I mean provide security and secondly, your governments can provide opportunities to you. And the best support is not to join crazy people and buy a bunch of guns and do crazy things,” Macron said.

At a joint press conference with Buhari after a closed-door bilateral meeting at the Presidential Villa, Macron pledged to increase the cooperation between Nigeria and France in tackling security challenges brought about by the activities of Boko Haram and ISIS jihadists in Nigeria and the Sahel region of Africa.“What is important to me is how the different African governments organise themselves to fight against terrorism and get rid of these people and especially, Jihadism. That’s is why I do promote the G5/Sahel Initiatives,” he said.

The French President noted: “First of all, I think the main plan is an African plan and France is not the one to solve or fix African situations. So, what we want to do is that we will intervene and maintain our presence in Africa and the Sahel, to fight against terrorism especially in Mali and in the region.”Both leaders signed agreements to facilitate French assistance totalling $475 million for some projects in Lagos, Kano and Ogun States. Specifically, the Lagos deal is a letter of intent for the financing of urban mobility improvement project via a loan of $200 million. This will involve the development of eight priority bus corridors connected to the Lagos mass transit network.

In Ogun State, a French firm in conjunction with the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority is to mobilise from investors about $200 million for land reclamation to correct the massive degradation of arable land being witnessed in the state.The project aims to reforest 108,000 hectares of depleting forest in Ogun, which the state governor, Ibikunle Amosun, hailed as very vital to not only addressing climate change challenges and recreating the forest, but also providing employment to the people of the state, among other benefits.

France, through its foreign development agency, Francaise de Development (AFD), will also extend a credit facility of $75 million towards improving water supply in Kano city.The concessional loan is expected to help the Kano government ensure more residents of the city have access to drinking water, while improving the financial viability of the state water board to increase its revenues.

Responding to questions on why he chose to visit the New Afrika Shrine of popular Afrobeat king, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Macron said the place was an iconic hub.“First, because I wanted to find a good occasion to come back there. I know the place and I have some memories. I think that is such an iconic place for a lot of African people and African culture. Fela, Femi, Seun Kuti are obviously very famous in France and Europe. I mean they are big successes, but the Shrine is a cultural hub, an iconic hub. And it is very important for me, first on a personal level. That is why I want to say with a lot of humility that I recognise the importance of this place. I recognise the place of culture in this current environment.”

Lagos State governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, said the visit would signal the dawn of a new era between France and the state, especially for the myriads of talents that have made Lagos a home.During a special Afrobeat performance for Macron at the Shrine in Agidingbi, Ikeja, Ambode said: “It is with joy that I look forward to deep collaboration with France in our quest to make Lagos the culture and entertainment capital of Africa.”

He noted that the French Cultural Centre and Alliance Francaise have always been an asset to the cultural landscape of Lagos, saying: “I am glad that the French Cultural Centre will now have a befitting and hopefully a permanent home in the heart of our city.”Guests at the Shrine included former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, Senator Ben Murray Bruce and human rights lawyer, Femi Falana.

Falana said the visit showed that a king, referring to the late Fela, is not honoured in his own country.Commending Macron for promoting arts and culture, Falana urged Nigerian artistes and musicians to borrow a leaf from Fela by singing songs that mirror the society and call government to order.Femi Anikulapo Kuti, son of the musician, described the visit as an endorsement of what his father stood for while he lived.

Nigerian police arrest 11 suspected Plateau attackers

The police have arrested 11 suspects in connection with the recent killings in Barkin Ladi, Riyom and Jos South council areas of Plateau State.In a statement yesterday, the force said the suspects were assisting the investigating team with useful information.It said five AK47 rifles and two live cartridges were recovered from the arrested persons.

The release reads in part: “It would be recalled that the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, visited Plateau State on June 26, 2018. “While in the state, he assessed the security situation and police deployment. Since his visit, the security situation has improved. Peace and normalcy have been restored in the affected areas.

“The Police Special Investigation Team, comprising the Intelligence Response Team (IRT), Special Tactical Squad (STS), and Technical Intelligence Unit (TIU), led by Commissioner of Police, IGP Monitoring Unit deployed to Plateau State, has commenced investigation and recorded significant progress in getting to the root of the killings of innocent people.

“The Nigeria Police Force is assuring the people of Plateau State of adequate security of lives and property.” In a related development, the force said it had also arrested eight bandits, including the Councillor for Fidi Ward, Makurdi, Benjamin Bagugba Tivfa, for allegedly admitting to have supplied arms to the criminals.It added said two AK47 rifles and 436 rounds of ammunition were also recovered from the suspects.

The police said: “The bandits confessed that the councillor is a member of their gang and is responsible for supply of arms and ammunition, including money to finance their operations. “The councillor admitted to have bought 15 rounds of AK 47 ammunition from the last suspect, Sunday Cheche, 34, and native of Guma Local Government Area of Benue State. He also confessed to have provided money to finance the operations of the gang.

“The bandits also admitted to have carried out several killings and armed robbery attacks in different locations in the state.”Meanwhile, troops of Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS) have denied involvement in the killing of six herdsmen and l50 cows as alleged by the Nasarawa State Chairman of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, Mohammed Hussein.The Acting Director, Defence Information, Brig.-Gen. John Ajim, who made the clarification yesterday in a statement, maintained that the claim was unfounded.

According to him, “the OPWS was established on May 8, 2018 by the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin, in consultation with the service chiefs and commanders of other security agencies with the mandate to completely restore law, order and peace in four affected states, Benue, Nasarawa, Taraba and Zamfara.”

He added: “It is therefore the duty of OPWS to ensure that all the people in these states go about their lawful duties without fear or molestation. These we have done at great cost to the military, which include some paying the supreme price.”“I wish to make it abundantly clear that the Special Forces troops of OPWS did not kill herdsmen or cows as claimed by the MACBAN chairman in Lafia.”

Video - President of France visits famous New Afrika Shrine nightclub in Nigeria

France’s president on Tuesday visited a nightclub founded by legendary Nigerian Afrobeat star Fela Kuti which has a reputation as a hedonistic haven filled with frenetic music, scantily clad podium dancers and the stench of marijuana smoke.

Emmanuel Macron arrived at the famous venue in the Nigerian city of Lagos, just hours after holding talks and a joint news conference with President Muhammadu Buhari in the capital, Abuja, at the start of a two-day visit to the West African country.

During the news conference he stated his commitment to helping the fight against Islamist militants in the northeast, before embarking on the hour-long flight to Lagos to visit the New Afrika Shrine.

The venue replaced the famed original - created by Fela - which burned down in 1977. It is managed by the musician’s sons Femi and Seun who continue their father’s musical and cultural tradition.

Fela - a singer, composer and saxophonist - pioneered the Afrobeat sound by combining organ riffs with West African drumming and brass instruments. He was famed for his sexual exploits, marijuana smoking and fearless critiques of Nigeria’s military regime.

“Fela was not just a musician. He was a politician who wanted to change society. So if I have one message for young people, it’s this: ‘Yes, politics is important; yes, be involved,” Macron told the audience from the stage.

Fela was jailed on dozens of occasions by military rulers in the 1970s and 1980s, including by Buhari during his time as a military leader in the early 80s.

The presence of the French president brought a different ambience to the famed venue: the smell of marijuana was absent and the gathering of youths that usually gather outside were absent due to the heavy security presence.

During an evening in which classic Fela songs were played alongside contemporary artists, and a fashion show was held, the French president told the audience Nigeria was important for African culture.

He said France planned to launch a season of events intended to be “the face of African culture in Europe”.

“It will be about a new generation of African artists - for them by them,” he said.

The visit to Nigeria has marked a return to familiar territory for Macron. He spent six months in Abuja as an intern at the French embassy in 2002.

When asked about previous visits to the legendary Lagos club, he said: “I can’t tell you everything that happened when I used to come to the Shrine because what happens at the Shrine stays at the Shrine.”

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Video - Nigeria oil output drops

10 people dead by flood in central Nigeria

A flood that wreaked havoc in central Nigeria has killed at least ten people, police and rescue officials said Tuesday.

The flood in Nigeria's central state of Niger followed a heavy downpour late Monday in the Kontagora area, the police said.

A local market in the area and two other communities were hard hit by the flood. So far, eight bodies have been recovered by local divers, said state police chief Dibal Yakadi.

Head of the Niger State Emergency Management Agency Ibrahim Inga said seven teenage girls were washed away by the flood in the Rafin-Gora local market.

Three other children were killed by the flood elsewhere, Inga added.

A boy was rescued Tuesday morning by a truck driver during a rescue operation.

Inga said the boy was holding tight to a tree when the truck driver saw and rescued him.

According to the emergency response official, it is difficult to ascertain the number of the dead or missing for now.

John Obi Mikel reveals that his father was kidnapped during the World Cup

Nigeria captain John Obi Mikel faced Argentina last Tuesday in the knowledge that his father was being held for ransom, but did not tell anyone about it as the kidnappers threatened to shoot "instantly" if authorities were informed.

Mikel told KweséESPN that he received a call from the kidnappers four hours before kickoff in the decisive World Cup clash in St Petersburg, and they demanded N10 Million ($28,000 US) for the safe return of his father, Pa Michael Obi.

The elder Obi was on his way to a funeral in south eastern Nigeria from Jos when he was abducted along the Makurdi-Enugu expressway on June 26. He and his driver were rescued after a "gun duel," on July 2, nearly a week after the kidnapping, Nigeria Police confirmed on Tuesday.

Mikel's father was then taken to hospital for treatment, with family sources telling KweséESPN that the elderly man had been tortured and required multiple stitches. He returned to hospital on Tuesday after some of the sutures broke, and Mikel is considering flying his father abroad for further treatment.

Mikel, speaking to KweséESPN after the rescue, said that he did not tell his bosses at the Nigeria Football Federation, nor did he tell his coach Gernot Rohr, but instead kept the situation to himself and opted to face Lionel Messi's team as if nothing was amiss.

"I was confused. I did not know what to do, but in the end I knew that I could not let 180 million Nigerians down," Mikel said.

"I had to shut it out of my head and go and represent my country first. I was told that they would shoot my dad instantly if I reported to the authorities or told anybody.

"And I did not want to discuss it with the coach because I did not want my issue to become a distraction to the coach or the rest of the team on the day of such an important game. So as much as I wanted to discuss it with the coach, I could not do it."

Nigeria lost that game 2-1 to Argentina and were eliminated from the World Cup. The midfielder flew home to England almost immediately to deal with the situation, and is scheduled to return to China, where he plays his club football, later on Tuesday.

Pa Obi was eventually rescued by the Nigeria Police on Monday at Egede, near Udi in Enugu State. The news was announced by the Enugu State Police Command via their official Twitter account, and only then did Mikel speak publicly about the incident.

Command spokesperson, Superintendent of Police Ebere Amaraizu said in a statement on Tuesday: "The abductors started calling to demand a ransom of N10 million before police operatives acted on intelligence information and swooped on them.

"In the process of the rescue, a gun duel ensued between police operatives and the kidnappers which forced the hoodlums to abandon their victims inside the forest and they were promptly rescued."

This was the second time that Mikel's father had been kidnapped. The first was in 2011, where he was released after 10 days. Security will be enhanced around the player's family in Nigeria, according to Mikel's advisor.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Video - Nigerian activists encourage youth to vie for political office

Young activists in Nigeria have started a campaign called "Ready To Run" to encourage younger people to stand in elections. It follows the success of "Not Too Young To Run". CGTN's Phil Ihaza has more on this from Abuja.