Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Video - Abuja-Kaduna railway: 1000 days in operation

The Abuja-Kaduna railway line has just marked its one thousandth day in operation. Commencing in 2016, the train service has transported over 1.5 million passengers. It's part of China's Belt and Road Initiative in Nigeria to boost economic and social development.

157 children rescued from slavery by Interpol in Nigeria

Up to 216 human trafficking victims have been rescued from forced labour and prostitution in a major operation in Benin and Nigeria, Interpol said on Wednesday.

Operation Epervier II involved 100 police officers across the two countries who rescued 157 child slaves, said the global police organisation, which coordinated the raids in early April.

Many of the children were working in markets peddling goods, carrying heavy loads or fetching water, while others worked as housemaids or were forced into prostitution, Interpol said. Of the minors rescued, 36 were boys and 121 were girls.

“This is about organised crime groups who are motivated by money,” Stanfield told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“It is challenging (to stop them) in the region because of lack of resources,” he said, adding that countries are nonetheless becoming better equipped and more prepared.

Child slaves

The children rescued were between the ages of 11 and 16 and came from Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria and Togo.

The youngest was a boy forced to smuggle heavy goods such as bags of rice across the Benin-Nigeria border, Interpol said.

Most were subject to beatings and abuse, including death threats and warnings they would never see their parents again. They are now in the care of national agencies or charities, and in some cases returned to their parents.

Dealing with perpetrators

Investigations are underway to dismantle the crime networks active in Benin and Nigeria, which are source, transit and destination countries for human trafficking, said Paul Stanfield, Interpol’s director of organised and emerging crime.

Police arrested 47 suspected traffickers and seized vehicles, cash, phones and computers in the operation, which targeted markets in the countries’ capitals as well as airports, seaports and border areas, said Interpol.

About 1.4 million people, or 0.8 percent of the population, are estimated to live as slaves in Nigeria, according to the 2018 Global Slavery Index published by human rights group Walk Free Foundation. Benin has an estimated 58,000 slaves out of a population of 11 million.

“These crimes can only be tackled collectively and through interagency cooperation,” said Dominic Asogwa, Comptroller of Nigeria’s Immigration Service in the Seme border region, in a statement.

Interpol will continue working to identify hot spots for modern slavery in West Africa with a focus on mobilizing countries to address the issue themselves, Stanfield said.

“I think we’ll be here for the long-term, but we don’t want to be in charge of leading it,” he said.


Tuesday, April 23, 2019

British aid worker killed in Nigeria by kidnappers

A British aid worker and a Nigerian man were shot dead after being kidnapped with three other people in an attack at a resort in Nigeria on Friday, officials said.

The British High Commission said in a statement Sunday that Faye Mooney, 29, was killed when gunmen attacked the Kajuru Castle holiday resort in Kaduna state, located in the north-central part of Nigeria.

Mooney worked as a communications specialist for the aid group Mercy Corps, and was one of 12 tourists traveling to Kaduna from Lagos, according to Kaduna state police spokesman Yakubu Sabo.

The 29-year-old, who has lived in Nigeria for nearly two years, was attending a party before the incident, Sky News reported.

Mercy Corps said in a statement it was "utterly heartbroken" by the killing.

"Faye was a dedicated and passionate communications and learning specialist who had worked with Mercy Corps for almost two years, devoting her time to making a difference in Nigeria, supporting our teams and the communities we work with to tell their stories of impact, and leading efforts to counter hate speech and violence," the group said.

Sabo told reporters the gunmen kidnapped three other people but officials did not release details of their nationalities. Officers have not yet named the other person killed in the incident.

No individuals or groups have claimed responsibility for the killings, and police have yet to identify the kidnappers.

Northern Nigeria has been dealing with violence from Islamic militants affiliated with Boko Haram and ISIS, in addition to clashes between farmers and herders, in which hundreds have died.

The region has seen a spate of kidnappings by armed men in recent months, according to Sky News.

Earlier this month, an American tourist and her safari guide were kidnapped by gunmen in Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park. Kimberly Sue Endicott and her guide, Jean-Paul Mirenge Ramezo, were eventually found alive in Congo, where their kidnappers had taken them after abducting them.

The kidnappers had demanded a $500,000 ransom after abducting the two at gunpoint. Ugandan officials say no ransom was paid, but a tourism operator said that money was paid to secure Endicott's release.

Fox News

Monday, April 22, 2019

Video - Trade volume increase between Nigeria and China

Trade volume between Nigeria and China has expanded by 10% in the last year-yielding more than 15 billion dollars in value. Nigeria is among China's important trading partners in Africa. Both countries are forecasting a significant rise in trade volumes in coming years as various trade deals get concluded.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Questions after deadly collapse in Nigeria

A building collapse in Nigeria last month that killed as many as 20 children is raising questions about construction safety standards. Many are now asking questions about safety standards and what can be done to prevent similar incidents.

Chief justice in Nigeria banned from holding public office

Nigeria's top judge has been sacked by a tribunal that found him guilty of falsely declaring his assets.

Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen was banned from office for 10 years on Thursday and ordered to forfeit any assets he could not account for to the state.

Onnoghen's suspension in January by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, just weeks before a presidential election, prompted allegations of interference in judicial matters.

The chief justice holds a key role in determining the outcome of Nigerian elections if the results are appealed by a candidate and a tribunal is formed.

A request to remove the chief justice usually requires the approval of two-thirds of the Senate, but Buhari did not follow that process.

Onnoghen was tried for failing to divulge cash in five foreign bank accounts in contravention of rules governing the declaration of assets by public officials.

"The defendant has clearly contravened the code of conduct for public officers, and he is hereby convicted," said Danladi Umar, chairman of the country's ethics court.

Umar ordered that any cash found in Onnoghen's foreign bank accounts be taken by the treasury.

"The money in the five accounts, which the defendant has failed to declare and disclose its source, is hereby confiscated, seized and forfeited to the federal government," Umar said.

After the ruling, Onnoghen's lawyer, Okon Efut, said the process had not been fair.

He decried what he called the "unconstitutional" suspension of the judge in January, claiming it was the first step in what he said was a "premeditated" decision.

"Judgment had been passed before today," Efut said.

As head of the Supreme Court, Onnoghen could have ruled on any disputes relating to the election, which saw Buhari, of the All Progressives Congress, win a second term of office.

Atiku Abubakar of the main opposition group, Peoples Democratic Party, who lost to Buhari has launched a legal challenge to the result, after calling the election a "sham".

Al Jazeera

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Video - Online house cleaning service in Nigeria

An online house cleaning service is promising to create millions of jobs for Nigerians. Kureen is an online service that pairs house cleaners with home owners in need of cleaning services in three major Nigerian cities.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Video - Nigeria to diversify economy away from oil

Nigeria is Africa's largest oil producer but more than half of its population lives in extreme poverty. In his recent election campaign, President Muhammadu Buhari promised to diversify the economy away from oil. But Nigeria is even struggling to grow its own food.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Video - Nigeria's Chibok schoolgirls: Five years on, 112 still missing

It has been five years since hundreds of schoolgirls were abducted in north-eastern Nigeria by Boko Haram fighters. While a total of 164 girls have been found or released as part of a deal between the Nigerian government and the armed group, 112 are still missing. In Nigeria's capital, there are renewed calls for the search to continue. The international outcry sparked the Bring Back Our Girls movement, which continues to this day. Despite the pain, one mother still hopes she will once again see her daughter alive.

President Buhari still promises to bring back Chibok students five years after kidnapping

Some of the young women are thriving at a new school. Some have returned home to their family farms. But the fates of more than 100 other students who were kidnapped from a school in northeastern Nigeria are unknown, five years after militants from Boko Haram abducted them.

On Sunday, the fifth anniversary of the kidnappings from the village of Chibok, President Muhammadu Buhari reiterated a pledge he had made years ago to bring back all of the students.

“We will not rest until all the remaining girls are back and reunited with their families,” he said on his official Twitter account. “I made this promise when I became President, and I will keep it.”

In 2014, Boko Haram militants stormed a girls’ school in Chibok and made off with over 200 girls who were boarding there to take exams the next day — an act that gained widespread attention across the world with the social media hashtag #BringBackOurGirls advocating their release.

Mr. Buhari’s message came after months of silence on the topic, which barely registered in campaign discourse during a heated presidential election this year. The kidnappings, which riveted a global audience at the time, seem all but forgotten by the outside world.

Protesters who once marched daily at Unity Fountain in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, have been quiet. Activists both locally and globally who had held signs and tweeted have mostly gone silent.

Yet the missing students remain constantly on the minds of their parents, who gathered Sunday at the site of the school in Chibok to offer prayers for their return.

“They are losing hope,” said Allen Manasa, a spokesman for the village, adding that in five years the government had yet to brief the parents about their missing daughters.

He said the community urged “mounting pressure on the Nigerian government to explore all available means to rescue these girls.”

Mr. Buhari’s message on Sunday sought to reassure Nigerians that he hadn’t forgotten.

“We will never give up on our missing daughters,” Mr. Buhari wrote on Twitter, also citing other hostages taken by Boko Haram. “In the last four years our security agencies have successfully rescued thousands of captives, and they will not relent until every captive is free.”

Yet critics say it defies belief that the students remain missing.

“It is a global failure of monumental proportion that the whereabouts of hundreds of girls who went to school remain unknown in an age of intrusive technology,” said Oby Ezekwesili, a former education minister who has been a leading advocate for the students’ release.

For the past decade, Nigeria’s northeast has been ravaged by a war with Islamist militants from Boko Haram who have made kidnapping innocent villagers one hallmark of their brutality.

A video that the militants released in 2014 of the sad-looking girls from Chibok, dressed in dark hijabs and sitting on the ground at a militants’ hide-out, caught the attention of celebrities and Michelle Obama, who was photographed holding a #BringBackOurGirls placard.

When Mr. Buhari assumed the presidency in 2015, he made progress in the fight against militants, chasing them from forest hide-outs and killing scores of fighters. But in past months the militants have regrouped, and simultaneously fractured while boasting about ties to the Islamic State, which they pledged loyalty to several years ago.

Boko Haram fighters have carried out suicide bombings and stepped up attacks across the border in Niger and Chad. One faction circulated a video of a violent attack on a military installation in Nigeria.

Last week, amid threats of an attack in the countryside, Nigerian soldiers rounded up community members in the middle of the night and herded them into a camp for displaced people, prompting outrage from residents who unexpectedly had to leave their homes.

Last year, the fighters carried out kidnappings eerily similar to the one in Chibok, taking dozens of girls in the community of Dapchi before returning most of them several days later. At least one student, Leah Sharibu, is still being held, reportedly because she is a Christian and refused to convert to Islam.

Mr. Buhari has negotiated for the release of about half of the students from Chibok, who are now in their late teens or early 20s. Many of them are studying at the American University of Nigeria in Yola, where a special program was designed to catch them up with their studies and advance them to university work if they choose. The government is picking up the tab.

On Sunday, the local news outlet This Day published an editorial calling for the remaining students to be rescued and saying that their continued absence “represent a blur on our collective humanity.”

“Until all the abducted girls can be accounted for,” the editorial said, “the promise of the constitution, that the welfare of Nigerians shall be the primary purpose of government, will continue to ring hollow.”

The New York Times

Friday, April 12, 2019

Entire town in Nigeria evacuated to screen out Boko Haram militants

Up to 10,000 civilians have been forcibly relocated because of a military operation against Boko Haramin northeast Nigeria, the United Nations said on Thursday, calling for better protection.

At least 2,000 people were initially said to have been moved the 40km from Jakana to the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, on Tuesday. But the UN said five times as many were forced to flee.

"The military ordered the immediate departure and forced the relocation of up to 10,000 civilians in the middle of the night, without prior warning," it said in a statement.

"The entire town of Jakana was emptied, and people were forced to move to Maiduguri with very little time to collect personal belongings," added UN Humanitarian Coordinator Edward Kallon. "Some people said they arrived in Maiduguri with nothing, not even with shoes on their feet."

The northeast is the battleground in Nigeria's decade-long fight against the armed group of the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) and Boko Haram.

A surge in attacks in December in which towns and military bases were overrun saw tens of thousands of civilians fleeing into Maiduguri and swelling the population of existing camps.

Humanitarian concerns

The armed groups have in the last few weeks been hit by intensive air and ground offensives from coalition forces involving Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon in the Lake Chad region, according to military sources and armed fighters.

But there are fresh concerns about the effects of the conflict on civilians after nearly 10 years of fighting, more than 27,000 deaths and 1.8 million made homeless.

Previous mass displacements of civilians have forced them into already overcrowded camps for the internally displaced in Maiduguri, putting pressure on the authorities.

"The United Nations is urging the government to urgently provide safety, shelter, food, water and medical care to the displaced civilians, in addition to information about when they will be allowed to return home," said Kallon.

Jakana lies on a known crossing route for ISWAP fighters moving between their camps in the Benisheikh forest area of Borno and their hideouts in the Buni Yadi area of Yobe.

In January, ISWAP sent letters to Jakana and Mainok residents telling them to vacate their homes for an impending raid on the military.

Al Jazeera

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Pirate attacks in Nigeria fall by 36%

Piracy attacks off Nigeria’s coast fell to 14 in the first quarter from 22 a year ago after the navy improved its response to incidents, the International Maritime Bureau said.

“These results confirm the Nigerian navy’s increased efforts to actively respond to reported incidents by dispatching patrol boats,” the London-based body that tracks attacks on sea vessels said. “Despite these efforts, Nigerian waters remain risky for vessels, especially the port of Lagos where four incidents have been reported.”

The Gulf of Guinea retained its notoriety for piracy with 22 incidents reported during the period. The region accounted for all the crew kidnappings reported globally in the three months, after 21 of them were taken in five separate attacks, the IMB said. Incidents were reported off the coast of Benin, Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Nigeria and Togo in the first quarter, it said.


Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Video - More than 11,000 youths complete government skills training in Nigeria

In Nigeria, more than 11,000 young people have received start-up Kits. This is after completing Government-sponsored Skills Development Training. Nigeria has a record 26 million unemployed people -- and the government is exploring ways to change this.

The town in Nigeria known for multiple twin births

In a dusty school playground in southwest Nigeria, the rows of children lined up to return to their classrooms are dotted with the faces of identical twins.

Sights like this can be seen everywhere in Igbo Ora, where a banner welcomes visitors to the “twins capital of the world”.

Twins are common in the Yoruba ethnic group that dominates this part of Nigeria. A 1970s study by a British gynecologist found that around 50 sets of twins were born out of every 1,000 births in the southwest - one of the highest rates of twin births in the world.

In Yoruba culture twins are so common that they are traditionally given specific names. They are called either Taiwo or Kehinde depending on whether they were born first or second.

But even for Yoruba people, Igbo Ora is considered to be exceptional. Among the nearly 100 secondary school children assembled at the end of their break there were nine sets of twins.

“There are so many twins because of the okra leaf that we eat,” said 15-year-old Kehinde Oyedepo, one of the twins, repeating a view commonly held in the town.

The leaves are used to make a stew that is popular in Igbo Ora.

Others have pointed to the popularity of Amala - a local dish made from yams and cassava flour. One theory is that yams prompt the production of gonadotropins, a chemical agent that stimulates the production of eggs.

Ekujumi Olarenwaju, an obstetrician gynecologist based in Lagos, around 100 miles (160 km) away, believes the causes of the phenomenon lie elsewhere because the same kind of yam is eaten elsewhere in the world without the same result.

“Thus far scientifically, no one can say this is the reason,” said Olarenwaju. “One of the plausible reasons is the hereditary aspect of it because maybe over the years they inter-marry, they now have that gene being pooled and concentrated in that environment,” he said.

But the women who sell piles of okra leaves at a town market are quick to disagree.

They said local traditions over how the leaves are consumed were crucial. For example, a stew made from the leaves should be eaten immediately and never stored.

Oyenike Bamimore, who sells the bread, said she was living proof that the diet was the cause. “Because I eat okra leaves a lot, I gave birth to eight sets of twins,” she said.


Parliament in Nigeria proposes tax rise on luxury goods

Nigeria’s parliament has asked the government to consider increasing taxes on luxury goods to boost revenues, it said on Tuesday.

An expenditure plan approved by the Senate on Tuesday showed Nigeria is expected to generate 172.47 billion naira ($564 mln) from privatisation proceeds this year.

The budget deficit for 2019 is estimated at 1.86 trillion naira ($6.1 bln), according to the plan. Lawmakers said the deficit would covered via borrowing, privatisation proceeds and loans secured for specific projects.


Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Video - Nigeria suspends mining in Zamfara state plagued by gang violence

Nigeria has suspended mining activities in Zamfara and has ordered foreigners engaged in the work to leave the northern state within 48 hours. The move comes after a surge in crime in the state. The military, police and the state security forces have been deployed in recent weeks to tackle criminal gangs behind a spate of killings and kidnappings. The government says the suspension begins with immediate effect. Any operators who defy the order will have their licences revoked. Al Jazeera's Ahmed Idris has more from the capital, Abuja.

Video - Will Nigeria crackdown on crime in Zamfara state work?

Nigeria has suspended mining in one of its northern states and ordered all foreigners engaged in mining activities to leave. The move comes after a surge in crimes, including kidnappings and killings, in Zamfara state. Ahmed Idris has more from the capital, Abuja.

Crypto currency traders in Nigeria accuse Paxful of fraud

Cryptocurrency exchange Paxful is in hot water in Nigeria after crypto traders in the country claimed the firm has been closing down their accounts illegally, causing them to lost tens of millions of dollars.

The traders have filed the petition with Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), accusing Paxful of robbery, fraud, and breaching its terms and conditions. The EFCC is the country’s financial services law enforcement agency. According to a report by local outlet Punch Nigeria, the traders were joined on the petition by United Global Resolve for Peace, a non-governmental organization.

The petition claims that Paxful falsely accused Nigerian traders of being involved in fraudulent activities. It then allegedly used this excuse to close down thousands of accounts belonging to Nigerian traders. Traders who owned cryptos when their accounts were closed lost those cryptos.

Part of the petition stated:

“A few days ago, our organization was approached by some Nigerians who complained bitterly that Paxful Incorporated, the company that owns the online cryptocurrency trading and exchange platform, ‘’ has been ripping them of their life investment in cryptocurrency by suspending their accounts, deactivating their wallets and refusing to return the value in their accounts to them even after investigation and finding that they were not involved in any fraudulent activities.”

The petition also gave some background on the immense success that the Estonia-based Paxful has had with Nigerian users. In 2018, the exchange made $20 million in profits from its operations worldwide. But it was Nigeria that contributed the bulk of this profit, making up over 40% of the total.

The petition further revealed how Paxful has used the opportunity to rob Nigerian traders. It stated:

“The respondent has, through willful disregard for contract and rules of commercial transaction, done a lot to rob Nigerians of their hard-earned money by its unrestrained activities of blocking their accounts and stating that investigation will be conducted. At the end of the investigation, the respondent always comes out to say the vendor has done nothing wrong and thereafter release their accounts without the funds in it.”

The report by Punch Nigeria also quoted some of the traders whose accounts have been drained under the guise of investigations. One of them is Samuel Olanrewaju, a trader who lost over 21 million Nigerian naira ($60,000) to the scam. Olanrewaju alleges that Paxful confiscated his Bitcoin Core (BTC) stash in November 2018. Paxful accused him of having a false online profile, a charge he still insists he is innocent of. Olanrewaju claimed Paxful is stereotyping all Nigerians as scammers. He told the news outlet, “We have about three million Nigerians trading on Paxful platform and they accounted for 40 per cent of its revenue. Despite this, the leadership of the firm was always referring to Nigerians as scammers.”

Paxful responded to the accusations in an email, denying any wrongdoing. According to the company, only accounts found to be engaging in fraud were suspended. Part of the statement said, “All accounts that have been shut down have a reason for it. We will not shut down any account unless they violate our TOS (Terms of Service).”

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.

Bitcoin Satoshi Vision (BSV) is today the only Bitcoin project that follows the original Satoshi Nakamoto whitepaper, and that follows the original Satoshi protocol and design. BSV is the only public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin and will massively scale to become the world’s new money and enterprise blockchain.


Monday, April 8, 2019

Video - Nigeria experiencing extended hot temperatures

Nigeria has been experiencing very harsh weather since March. Temperature have gone as high as 40 degrees celcius. The weather has had a huge impact on the lives of ordinary Nigerians, and experts have warned that the weather pattern will continue for some time.

Nigeria suffering from medical brain drain

In March, hundreds of Nigerian doctors gathered at a hotel in Abuja, the capital, and another in Lagos, the country's commercial centre, to take a test conducted by the Saudi Arabian health ministry.

In a symbol of the Nigerian medical "brain drain", those yet to migrate must complete foreign exams in order to get work placements abroad.

Weeks before the attempt by Saudi Arabia to lure Nigeria's greatest medical talents, dozens had sat the regular Professional Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) exams at the British Council. Once they pass, it will enable them to work in the UK.

According to some estimates, about 2,000 doctors have left Nigeria over the past few years.

Doctors have blamed the mass exit on poor working conditions - only four percent of Nigeria's budget is allocated to health.

While the annual healthcare threshold per person in the US is $10,000, in Nigeria it is just $6.

"More than half of those seeking visas to [India] are going for medical care that is not available here in Nigeria. Indigent Nigerians would be at the mercy of the dilapidated health infrastructure," Onwufor Uche, consultant and director of the Gynae Care Research and Cancer Foundation in Abuja, told Al Jazeera.

"It has become worse; a doctor [in Nigeria] earns N200,000 monthly ($560), necessitating moving to countries where they can be better paid for their services … This ultimately means that eight of 10 Nigerians are presently receiving substandard or no medical care at all."

Middle-class and wealthy Nigerians often travel for healthcare. Even the septuagenarian Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari, seeks medical care in London.

British, American, South African, Emirati and Saudi Arabian agencies operate in Nigeria to recruit the best doctors.

Nigeria's polling agency, NOI Polls, in partnership with Nigerian Health Watch in 2017, found that most doctors seek work abroad.

"The trend of doctors emigrating to other countries is at an all-time high," Chike Nwangwu, head of NOIPolls, told Al Jazeera in Abuja. "Our survey … showed that 88 percent of doctors are considering work opportunities abroad."

Reasons for emigrating include better facilities and work environment, higher salaries, career progression and an improved quality of life.

One doctor in 5,000

Medical schools and residencies are subsidised by government funds, an investment that is now benefiting other countries.

With an estimated population of over 180 million, there is one doctor per 5,000 people in Nigeria, according to Isaac Folorunso Adewole, the health minister, compared with the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation of one per 600 people.

There are 72,000 doctors registered with the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN); over half practise outside the country.

"Nine in every 10 doctors are considering work opportunities outside Nigeria. And it is projected to keep rising as doctors continue to face systemic challenges," said NOIPolls' Nwangwu. "I actually think [Nigeria] is already at the state of emergency with the availability of medical doctors."

The country's worsening health sector also grapples with strikes by health workers.

The government is often in conflict with the Nigerian Medical Association, an umbrella union of doctors, over working conditions. The union argues that government officials fail to stick to agreements, leading to industrial action.

When asked last year why Nigerian doctors had to wait a long time to get residency training, Adewole appeared to make light of the issue, saying: "It might sound selfish, but we can't all be specialists; we can't. Some will be farmers; some will be politicians … The man who sews my gown is a doctor. He makes the best gown. And some will be specialists, some will be GPs, some will be farmers."

As well as angering some doctors, the apparent failure to act seriously also affects patients.

"The government needs to urgently start addressing the issues and concerns of the medical workers and especially the doctors. The truth is, most of these doctors leave for better working conditions and you can't blame them," said Mariam Abdullahi, a 38-year-old patient at a hospital in Abuja.

"I am being referred to strange faces and different doctors almost at each of my bi-monthly visits and I'm always told the last doctor left the country. As a patient I feel heartbroken anytime my doctors leave, but what can I do when the system treats them poorly?"

By Mercy Abang

Al Jazeera

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Call to shut down contreversial police unit in Nigeria after deadly shooting of a man

The fatal police shooting of a Nigerian man has sparked outrage and reignited a public call for the shutdown of a controversial police unit in the country.

Kolade Johnson was shot by officers with Nigeria's anti-cultism police unit during a raid in Lagos on Sunday, according to a statement from the Nigerian Police Force. Members of the unit were searching for a suspect and at one point fired into the air, Johnson's family and lawyer told CNN.

The 36-year-old father and a friend were leaving a soccer viewing center in the area, where they had gone to watch a Premiership league match, when a stray bullet hit and killed Johnson, his family and lawyer said.

Johnson died at the hospital while waiting for treatment, according to his sister Toluwani Lukman.
Lukman said her brother was dedicated to his family and had just returned from South Africa, where he had lived for five years to focus on his music career.

"He had saved up some money while working in South Africa and he returned to Nigeria to start his own music label. He was just getting back on his feet. I can't believe he is gone," Lukman told CNN.
Johnson's killing provoked widespread anger among Nigerians, who said the police unit had gone rogue and should be disbanded immediately.

High-profile Nigerians including Nollywood actors, politicians and celebrities took to social media, calling for justice.

Police in Lagos said the officers who fled the scene after the shooting were identified with the help of eyewitnesses.

"Members of the team suspected to be involved in the shooting have since been arrested and are currently in police custody undergoing interrogation," Lagos police spokesman Bala Elkana.

Nigeria's Presidency sent its condolences to the family in a post on Twitter and said the Nigerian police have assured the government that the members of the unit involved in the shooting were under arrest and were facing disciplinary measures.

Lagos State Commissioner Zubairu Muazu also paid a condolence visit to the family Tuesday and assured them their would be justice.

Nigeria's police force also shared photos of two police officers wanted in connection to the shooting.
But this has not stopped the growing calls by citizens and rights groups for a shutdown of the police unit.

In August 2018, Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo ordered an overhaul of the country's Anti-Robbery Police Squad (SARS), which was accused of torture, extortion, widespread brutality and even murder.

Osinbajo, who is also a law professor, promised a total reform of the controversial police unit and vowed to prosecute those found guilty after investigations.

Amnesty International Nigeria, which has long campaigned for the disbandment of the SARS police unit, said Monday the vice president's reforms have been "ineffective."

The rights group alleged that the police unit was still torturing many citizens and restructuring was not enough to stop their atrocities.

"Police torture is a stain on Nigerian society that must be addressed with clear orders to law enforcement officers not to inflict torture or other ill-treatment on detainees under any circumstances," Amnesty International Nigeria said.

A spokesman for Osinbajo, Laolu Akande, said it was hasty to describe the ongoing police reforms as ineffective.

"We are firmly committed to ensuring these reforms are fruitful. In the particular instance, we will ensure that justice is served," Akande told CNN.


Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Video - Lagos-based firm opens design hub & innovation center in Kigali

African cities like Nairobi, Cape Town and Lagos could be ahead of the game when it comes to digital innovations. Kigali is catching up. Recently, a Lagos-based tech hub opened a design and innovation center in the Rwandan capital. CGTN's Hlonela Lupuwana caught up with the company's Project Manager Tomi Jaiyeola. Here are excerpts from their conversation.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Nigerian journalist arrested at gunpoint

Unidentified armed men have taken away a Nigerian journalist in the southern Bayelsa state, according to witnesses and watchdog groups, just months after his release from a two-year stint in state custody.

Jones Abiri, editor and publisher of the Weekly Source newspaper, was accosted by armed men as he was meeting six colleagues at the Bayelsa Federated Newspaper Publishers Association on Saturday, witnesses said.

Eric Eweke, secretary-general of the publishers' association, told AFP news agency on Sunday that the men arrived in vehicles belonging to Nigeria's intelligence agency, Department of State Security (DSS).

"Two DSS vehicles ... stormed the office" of the publishers' association in Yenagoa, the capital of Bayelsa, around lunchtime, Eweke said.

"They threatened that if [he] tries to run, they would shoot at him," he said.

Abiri's whereabouts were not known on Sunday.

Peter Afunanya, DSS spokesman, told local media he did not have any information on the incident.

Austin Bodo, another witness, told Nigeria News Agency that the men who accosted Abiri were "carrying the type of guns used by DSS operatives".

Sahara Reporters, a US-based independent news website that covers Nigerian affairs, quoted an unnamed witness as saying: "The men jumped out of the vehicles in a gestapo fashion while he [Abiri] was chatting with his friends and shouted at him that he was under arrest.

"While he was demanding to know his offence, he was forcefully pushed into a waiting vehicle at gunpoint."

Abiri was previously held by the DSS for two years without trial, over alleged links to rebels in the Niger Delta in the country's southeast. He was also accused of threatening oil companies.

He had no access to a lawyer or his family during this time, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). Abiri was freed in August last year following a campaign by rights organisations.

Angela Quintal, CPJ Africa programme coordinator, said the press freedom group was "deeply worried" about Abiri's arrest.

"We call on federal and state authorities in Nigeria to disclose where Abiri is being detained and the reasons for his arrest, and urge that they ensure that his rights are not violated yet again and that due process is respected."

Amnesty International also expressed concern over the arrest "by armed men suspected to be DSS operatives". It added in a Twitter post: "The humiliating manner of his arrest is unacceptable."

Nigeria is ranked 119th out of 180 countries on Reporters Without Borders' World Press Freedom Index.

The global press freedom group says journalists in Nigeria "are often threatened, subjected to physical violence, or denied access to information by government officials, police, and sometimes the public itself."

Al Jazeera