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.