Thursday, May 23, 2019

18 killed by armed gang in Nigeria

An armed gang killed at least 18 people in the northwest Nigerian state of Katsina, police and residents said on Wednesday, as unrest spreads across the region and into the president’s home state.

Hundreds of people have died in Nigeria’s northwest since the beginning of the year, in attacks the government attributes to bandits, a loose term for gangs of outlaws carrying out robberies and kidnappings.

Despite military and police operations to quell the conflict, the death toll continues to rise, along with incidents of kidnapping and robbery.

Security experts say Nigeria can ill-afford more instability, with the country already struggling to contain Islamist insurgencies in the northeast, brutal pastoral conflict in the central states and militant groups in the Niger Delta to the southeast.

In the latest incident, bandits attacked farmers at the village of Yar Gamji, near Nigeria’s border with Niger, on Tuesday morning killing 18 of them, police said.

The attackers escaped into a nearby forest, police said in a statement.

Residents said that while 18 bodies had been found, many more people were feared dead.

“Right now we are at the Emir’s palace for the mass burial of our relatives, but more than 18 people were killed in this attack,” said Hassan Ibrahim, whose brother was killed.

“There is no peace in Katsina,” he said. “Almost every day they carry out attacks on villagers, killing innocent people.”


Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Boko Haram adopting Isil stragedy

When a motorbike convoy of Boko Haram fighters invaded Baga in north-east Nigeria last December, residents feared the very worst. Watching the gunmen roll in, they recalled Boko Haram's last seizure of the town in 2015, when hundreds of their men were slaughtered and their women kidnapped as “bush wives”.

This time, though, the Hells Angels' style motorcade did not bring the usual orgy of rape, murder and pillage. "They didn't beat anyone, they just said that we should stay where we were," said Mansour Yusuf, 44, a father of nine. "But they also said we were free to leave if we wanted to."

Mr Yusuf took no chances, fleeing along with thousands of other Baga residents to the better-defended town of Monguno, where Nigerian troops have dug a protective trench around the town.

That he is alive to tell the tale, however, does not speak of any new tender-heartedness on Boko Haram's part. Instead, the "hearts and minds" strategy is all part of the long-term game being played by the new Isil-allied faction of Boko Haram.

Known officially as Islamic State's West Africa Province, or ISWAP, the group has gained a firm foothold in the past year, confounding claims by President Muhammadu Buhari that the insurgency is facing defeat.

Focusing on military rather than civilian targets, they have mounted devastating, well-organised attacks on isolated army bases, including one last November in which up to 100 soldiers died.

The group declared fealty to Isil in 2015, splintering from the rival Boko Haram faction led by Abubakr Shekau, the man notorious for the Chibok schoolgirl kidnapping in 2014.

While Shekau revelled in indiscriminate brutality – he boasted of slaughtering people "like chickens" – ISWAP has tried to build turf by courting rather than cowing the civilian population.

Massacres of entire villages have been avoided, as has the use of women and children as suicide bombers. To sweeten the pill of its religious dogma, it tries to present itself as a force for equality and social justice.

"When they came into Baga, they promised that they would take the food stocks from all the influential men in the community and share it with us," said Abdullahi Mohammed, 42, another fisherman who fled to Monguno. "They said: 'the government does nothing for you, we are here to relieve your suffering'."

There are limits to the group’s charm offensive, however. Captured soldiers and civilians suspected of spying can still expect torture and execution. Last year, the group also kidnapped and murdered two Nigerian Muslims working as nurses for the Red Cross, describing them as "apostates".

One man in Monguno showed the Telegraph an ISWAP propaganda video, showing two relatives who had been kidnapped by the group during the attack on Baga. “They were working for the civilian joint task force (an anti-Boko Haram vigilante group,” he said. “They’ll probably be killed now.”

Just how close ISWAP’s links are to Isil’s core leadership in the Middle East is unclear: most experts doubt it gets much logistical help. But with Isil now in disarray in both Iraq and Syria, Nigerian army commanders claim that foreign jihadists are already swelling its ranks.

"We have battle encounters where some of the corpses we have seen on the ISWAP side have been either white or North African - I've seen a couple myself," one senior Nigerian army officer told The Telegraph. "There seems to have been influx of non-locals into this sect, and we think it may account for some of the ambitious attacks they have carried out."

Mr Mohammed and Mr Yusuf now live in tents in a vast aid camp in Monguno, along with nearly 150,000 other people made homeless by the crisis. Many have fled towns that the Nigerian army had previously declared safe.

Edward Kallon, United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, said more landed was needed to build shelters and sanitation facilities. "This is crucial ahead of the upcoming rainy season, as many people are without shelter or living in overcrowded conditions that could lead to serious disease outbreaks like cholera.”

Although Monguno itself is guarded by a Nigerian army garrison, the empty desert that surrounds it is no-man's-land. For aid workers, the town is only accessible via a UN helicopter service.

The six-foot-deep trench that runs round Monguno's perimeter does not stop Boko Haram trying to attack. The night before The Telegraph visited, two local boys were reported to have been abducted.

"If you go across that trench and walk for just half an hour, you will start to meet Boko Haram fighters," Mr Yusuf added.

According to US government estimates, ISWAP now has around 3,500 fighters, mostly around the Lake Chad basin, compared to around 1,500 for Shekau's faction, which are based in the Sambisa Forest.

The strength of the two groups shows just how deadlocked the conflict has become, after a decade in which an estimated 27,000 people have been killed and two million forced to flee their homes.

The crisis is a sore point for Mr Buhari, who was re-elected in February despite criticism of his record against Boko Haram. Frontline Nigerian troops complain that vast amount of the money allocated to the war budget is siphoned off by corrupt officers, leaving them undermanned and outgunned.

On a visit to Nigeria earlier this month, the Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, warned that Nigeria was being "massively destabilised" by the conflict, and that Isil would be "looking to make their presence felt now they have lost their territory."

He hinted that Britain would offer extra military help if the Nigerian army could improve its human rights record - a view that is unlikely to have gone down well with his hosts.

Amnesty International has repeatedly accused troops of brutality and arbitrary detentions - much to the irritation of the government, which claimed last year that the rights group seemed to care more about Boko Haram than its victims. That frustration is shared by those manning the frontlines up at Monguno.

"These people who criticise us aren't up here doing the fighting, losing their lives or seeing how brutal Boko Haram are to civilians," said the Nigerian army officer. “This is a vicious war, and it isn’t fair to say that we are as bad as the militants."

By Colin Freeman

The Telegraph

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Kidnapping in Nigeria on the rise

Frequent acts of violent crime have grown to form a major threat to Nigeria’s national security. These include instances of militancy, insurgency and banditry. Banditry includes cattle rustling, armed robbery and kidnapping for ransom.

Kidnapping has remained the most virulent form of banditry in Nigeria. It has become the most pervasive and intractable violent crime in the country.

Kidnapping can be targeted at individuals or at groups. School children have been kidnapped in groups in various parts of Nigeria. Usually, the prime targets of kidnapping for ransom are those considered to be wealthy enough to pay a fee in exchange for being freed.

Kidnapping is the unlawful detention of a person through the use of force, threats, fraud or enticement. The purpose is an illicit gain, economic or material, in exchange for liberation. It may also be used to pressure someone into doing something—or not doing something.

Nigeria has one of the world’s highest rates of kidnap-for-ransom cases. Other countries high up on the list included Venezuela, Mexico, Yemen, Syria, the Philippines, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia.

Thousands of Nigerians have been kidnapped for ransom and other purposes over the years. Kidnapping has prevailed in spite of measures put in place by the government. The Nigerian police’s anti-kidnapping squad, introduced in the 2000s, has endeavored to stem the menace. But this been to no avail, mainly due to a lack of manpower and poor logistics.

In my view these efforts have also failed because of weak sanctioning and deterrence mechanisms. Kidnapping thrives in an environment that condones crime; where criminal opportunism and impunity prevail over and above deterrence.

This obviously calls for an urgent review of Nigeria’s current anti-kidnapping approach to make it more effective.

Opportunistic and organized bandits

Even prior to the advent of colonialism there were recorded cases of kidnap for rape, ritual or for other purposes in various parts of Nigeria. But kidnapping today is done primarily for ransom – either money or its material equivalent to be paid for someone’s release. The underlying logic of the kidnapping enterprise is that the victim is worth a ransom value and they or their proxy have the capacity to pay.

Each victim has a so-called “kidnap ransom value” which makes them an attractive target. This value is determined by a number of factors. These include the victim’s socio-economic or political status, family or corporate premium on the victim, the type of kidnappers involved, as well as the dynamics of ransom negotiation.

The kidnapping business in Nigeria has been mostly perpetrated by criminal gangs and violent groups pursuing political agendas. Bandits have often taken to kidnapping for ransom to make money. The escapades of the famous kidnap kingpin, Evans, speak volumes of this pattern of kidnapping. Evans was a multimillionaire kidnapper who was arrested in Lagos a few years ago. He is currently is detention awaiting trial.

Organized violent groups such as militants and insurgents have also been involved in kidnap for ransom in Nigeria. Current trends have been linked back to the example set by Niger Delta militants who resorted to solo and group abductions as a means of generating funds both for private use and for the cause of a particular group.

Similarly, Boko Haram insurgents have used the proceeds of kidnapping to keep their insurgency afloat. The insurgents engage in single or group kidnapping as a means of generating money to fund their activities. Huge sums are often paid as ransom by the victims’ families and associates to secure their release.

In addition to militants and insurgents, organized local and transnational criminal syndicates have been involved. This is happening to apocalyptic proportions in North West Nigeria where rural bandits engage regularly in kidnapping in the states of Zamfara, Kaduna, Katsina, Kebbi and Sokoto.

The cost

Kidnapping has led to the loss of tens of thousands of lives and huge sums of money in Nigeria. Many of the victims of the crime have been killed in the course of their abduction, custody or release. Many more have been injured. This is in addition to huge amounts of money lost to ransom takers.

For the victims and their families and friends, the consequences are even more frightful.

Nigeria should never have got here. Kidnappers persist because the benefits of their crimes exceed the costs. So the obvious solution is to raise the costs by imposing harsher, surer penalties. The present penalty for kidnapping ranges from one to 20 years in prison, with the possibility of life imprisonment for extreme cases involving, for instance, murder.

Stricter measures, such as life imprisonment or the death penalty, may not be completely out of place in dealing with the kidnapping menace. After all, the crime of kidnapping is a maximum threat that requires an equally maximum deterrence.


Monday, May 20, 2019

Nigerian UN soldier killed in Mali

A United Nations soldier has been killed and several injured in two attacks on the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, officials said on Sunday.

Gunmen attacked the UN troops in Timbuktu, where several armed groups are active, according to Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

The peacekeeper who was killed was Nigerian, as were three of those injured.

A further three UN soldiers from Chad were injured in Tessalit in the northern Kidal region near the border with Algeria when their vehicle drove over an explosive device.

Condemning the violence and expressing his condolences to the family of the killed soldier, Guterres said such attacks on UN soldiers could be considered war crimes under international law.

Mali has experienced sporadic attacks by armed groups since a 2012 coup that helped separatist rebels and groups associated with al-Qaeda gain a foothold in the country's restive north.

A UN peacekeeping mission has been active in Mali since 2013.

A peace agreement signed in 2015 by the Bamako government and armed groups was aimed at restoring stability. But the accord has failed to stop the violence.

Since their deployment in 2013, more than 190 peacekeepers have died in Mali, including nearly 120 killed by hostile action - making Mali the UN's deadliest peacekeeping operation, accounting for more than half of blue helmets killed globally in the past five years.

There have been repeated attacks on the mission in the north of the country by armed groups, while ethnic conflicts in the centre flare up regularly.

Al Jazeera

Friday, May 17, 2019

Video - Nearly 900 children released by pro-government militia in Nigeria

Nearly 900 children held by a pro-government militia in Nigeria have been freed. Among them -- more than a hundred girls.They're part of the Civilian Joint Task Force or C-J-T-F, which has been battling the extremist group Boko Haram. It's not clear how many children the group is still holding.

Nigerians warned against trending ponzi scheme called Loom Money Nigeria

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has warned Nigerians against fraudsters currently running an online investment scheme tagged “Loom Money Nigeria’’. Acting Director-General of the commission, Ms Mary Uduk gave the warning at a news conference on Thursday in Abuja.

A statement by SEC’s Head of Media, Mrs Efe Ebelo, said that Uduk, who was represented by acting Executive Commissioner, Operations of SEC, Mr Isyaku Tilde, said Loom Money Nigeria had taken over the social media. She said that the scheme targeted young people, luring them to participate in a pyramid model of the Ponzi.

The director-general disclosed that the fraudsters carried out their illegitimate activities via social media platforms like Facebook and whatsapp. She added that they lured young Nigerians to invest as low as N1000 and N13, 000 and to get as much as eight times the value of the investment in 48 hours. Uduk said that the venture was a Ponzi scheme, where returns would be paid from other people invested funds, adding that it had no tangible business model.

“We are aware of the activities of an online investment scheme tagged ‘Loom Money Nigeria’. “The platform has embarked on an aggressive online media campaign on Facebook and whatsapp.

“They lure the investing public to participate by joining various Loom whatsapp groups to invest as low as N1, 000 and N13, 000 and get as much as eight times the value of the investment in 48 hours".

“Unlike MMM that had a website and the promoter known, the people promoting Loom are not yet known and this pyramid scheme operates through closed groups mainly on Facebook and Whatsapp".

“If it were a local Ponzi scheme with known offices, it would be very easy for the Commission to seal their offices and freeze their accounts".

“We therefore wish to notify the investing public that the operation of this investment scheme has no tangible business model hence it’s a Ponzi scheme, where returns are paid from other people’s invested sum".

“Also, its operation is not registered by the Commission,” she said.

Uduk, therefore, advised the public to distance themselves from the scheme, adding that anyone that subscribed to the illegal activity did so at his own risk.

She assured that an inter-agency committee, Financial Services Regulation Coordinating Committee (FSRCC), was working on the issue, and that the commission was also collaborating with security agencies to track them down.

A Ponzi scheme is an investment fraud that involves the payment of purported returns to existing investors from funds contributed by new investors.

Loom Pyramid Scheme is not new to the world. Last month, Daily Mail UK reported that the scheme has resurfaced online all over the world, with different names such as ‘loom circle’, ‘fractal mandala’ and ‘blessing loom’.

In Nigeria, its central name is Loom Money Nigeria with individuals creating their own WhatsApp groups such as Jack Loom, Catherine Loom, among others.


MTN listed on Nigerian Stock Exchange

Three years after it was first mooted as part of the $1.6 billion settlement in a sim card authentication dispute with the Nigerian government, the listing of Africa’s largest telecoms company on the Nigerian Stock Exchange is finally complete.

Following a “listing by introduction”, MTN Nigeria, which trades with “MTNN” as its ticker, has listed 20 billion ordinary shares at $0.25 each. Unlike with an initial public offering (IPO), MTN Nigeria will not raise new funding as it has only listed already existing shares.

The choice for a listing by introduction rather than an IPO, like in Ghana, is linked to MTN’s long-running billion-dollar regulatory disputes in Nigeria. Revising its initial plans for an IPO, the company claimed it would be “challenging to get a fair valuation” amid ongoing disputes with authorities, including allegations that it owes $2 billion in taxes.

But IPO or not, MTN Nigeria’s listing is a timely boon for the local stock market which has seen a steady decline in its all share index over the past year. “We need more listings like this [because] the Nigerian market isn’t deep enough,” says Onome Akpifo, a Lagos-based stock market analyst. The stock market is yet to fully recover from a major crash in 2008 which fueled a lack of trust among investors.

Already, MTN Nigeria’s $5 billion listing makes its the second largest company on the Nigeria’s stock exchange, right behind only the $8.3 billion market cap of Dangote Cement, owned by Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man. The listing also comes on the heels of the MTN’s recent positive financial results in Nigeria, its largest market.

“What this [the listing] does is to open the market up to the general public, giving them a piece of the pie,” says Tunji Andrews, a Lagos-based economist. In reality, Andrews acknowledges it’s unlikely there’s enough of that pie to go round given significant interest from institutional investors who either already own shares or will buy to hold. “Especially because no new shares are being issued, it means that it will turn into a scramble for whatever is available, from people who would like to sell—if any,” Andrews tells Quartz.

This proved correct a few hours later. As Nigerian markets closed 2.30 pm local time, MTN Nigeria’s stock was traded for just 16 minutes yet it was enough time to capture demand as it surged 10%, valuing the company at $5.6 billion. That surge also reversed the stock market’s trend of eight consecutive days of losses.

While the listing fulfills a government condition, it could also serve to temper unfavorable public sentiment which largely sees the South Africa-owned telecoms giant discussed as a foreign company which extracts profits. That sentiment of exclusion from the company’s success holds strong despite MTN’s impact on the local economy through jobs and taxes as well as its vast spend on telecommunications infrastructure which see it dominate the Nigerian market. Those views were further fostered by claims last year by the Nigerian government that MTN illegally repatriated $8.1 billion in profits. (The dispute was settled for $53 million in December).

By Yomi Kazeem


Wednesday, May 15, 2019

US makes new rules for visa applications for Nigeria

Nigeria accounted for over 25% of non-immigrant visas issued to Africans in 2018 alone—but that may be set to change.

The United States embassy has announced an immediate indefinite suspension of interview waivers for visa renewals for applicants in Nigeria. Known as “drop-box,” the interview waiver process allowed Nigerian applicants who met certain eligibility criteria to renew their visas by submitting their passports and supporting documents for review without going through a new in-person interview each time.

The process mainly targeted regular visitors to the US who have a history of applying for and receiving visas. One of the requirements for the interview waiver was for an applicant to have previously received a two-year visa.

With the new waiver suspension, all applicants—first time and recurring—will now be required to appear for in-person interviews at US embassies in Nigeria.

A likely consequence could be a drop-off in the number of non-immigrant visas issued to Nigerians. Compared to the drop-box process which resulted in a high rate of visa renewals for regular visitors, in-person interviews will likely result in increased scrutiny, a much longer process and, by extension, fewer visas issued.

There have already been local reports of visa drop-box submissions taking much longer to process over the past year, hinting at increasing scrutiny. Increasingly, drop-box applications have also been returned unapproved with requests for in-person interviews.

The possibility of a tougher outlook for applicants is noted in the US embassy’s statement as it says one of the reasons it has suspended the interview waiver is to “promote legitimate travel.” It’s rhetoric that is consistent with the Trump administration’s stance on immigration.

The suspension also comes one month after news that Trump administration has been considering new immigration measures to impose visa restrictions on countries whose citizens have a track record of overstaying beyond the validity of their short-term US visas. Nigeria accounted for the third highest number of US visa overstays last year.

The proposed measures included reducing visa validity periods, making it tougher for citizens from countries like Nigeria to receive visas at all and the long-term possibility of outright bans.


Tuesday, May 14, 2019

50 women freed from Boko Haram by Nigerian army

The Nigerian army says it has rescued 54 women and children held captive by the extremist group Boko Haram.

A statement issued Monday by military spokesperson Sagir Musa says troops rescued the captives during a clearance operation over the weekend in Borno State.

The military spokesperson said the rescued persons consist of 29 women and 25 children.

Sagir said Boko Haram fighters had fled the villages before troops arrived.

Boko Haram frequently abducts women and children. The jihadist group began its insurgency in northeastern Nigeria and now has expanded its reach to the neighbouring countries of Chad, Cameroon and Niger.

In April 2014, 276 girls were abducted from the Government Secondary School in Chibok. Many have been freed, but more than 100 of them are still missing five years later.

More than 100 schoolgirls were kidnapped in February 2018 after Boko Haram attacked a village in the northeastern state of Yobe.

Last Friday, UNICEF reported that a regional militia allied with Nigerian government forces freed almost 900 children the militia had used in the war against Islamist Boko Haram insurgents.

Non-state armed groups embroiled in the decade-long conflict against Boko Haram recruited more than 3,500 children between 2013 and 2017 in Nigeria's northeast, according to UNICEF.

"[This] is a step in the right direction for the protection of children's rights and must be recognized and encouraged," UNICEF Nigeria chief Mohamed Fall said in the statement, referring to Friday's release by the militia group, which works closely with the military to fight Boko Haram.


65 women arrested in raid in Nigeria. Some of the arrested said police raped them

In a sparsely decorated room in Nigeria's capital city of Abuja, seven women are seated in a row, their backs turned to the assembled media to remain anonymous.

One after the other, the women recount horrific physical and sexual abuse they say they were subjected to following their arrests on April 27 by officers of a special task force that raided hotels and nightclubs in Abuja.

"They forced us, they raped us," one of the women shouted into the microphone at the media conference, which was recorded on video and seen by CNN.

The 65 women who were arrested say they were beaten and harassed by officers, who forced them into their vans and drove them to the police station, their lawyers and NGOs told CNN. The seven women in the video say they were sexually assaulted as well.

They said the officers, part of a task force targeting prostitution, demanded bribes in return for some of the women's release. Those who couldn't pay were forced to have sex with the officers, the women said during the media conference.
"'Where is your money?' they asked, and if you say you don't have, then it is your turn to have sex with them," one of the women said in the video of the news conference. The event was organized by activists calling for the officers involved in the raid to be arrested.

Police investigating allegations

Abuja police spokesman Gajere Tanimu said in a statement that the department is taking the rape allegations against the task force seriously and investigations are under way.

"The command wishes to assure members of the public of its zero tolerance for unprofessional disregard to human rights and stiff punishments will be meted out to erring officers," the statement read.

"A high-powered team was constituted to investigate the veracity of the allegation" against police, he wrote. "In this regard invitations were sent out to relevant individuals that may assist in getting to the root of the matter."

In all, 65 women were arrested by a task force comprising officers from the city's environment and social development agency and local police, Tanimu told CNN.

Twenty-seven of them were arraigned and charged with prostitution, said their lawyer, Jennifer Ogbogu.

The women said they were coerced into confessing and had no legal counsel at the time to contest the allegations against them, their lawyer said.

"They threatened they would be sentenced to six months in jail and they won't have access to their family. They were scared and they had no lawyer at the time," she told CNN.
Those who pleaded guilty were sentenced to a month in jail and given an option to pay a fine of 3,000 naria (less than $10) for an immediate release, said their lawyer. An NGO paid the fines to secure the women's release, Ogbogu said.

Women say arrests are arbitrary

The FCT (Federal Capital Territory) Joint Task Force frequently conducts raids on institutions or establishments suspected of violating city laws, including prostitution. They regularly clear beggars from streets.

But Nollywood actress Ada Akunne said she was in her car to go out with friends to celebrate a cousin's graduation from medical school when police officers accosted them on the night of the raid.
Akunne, 44, said the officers threatened to seize their phones and accused them of being inappropriately dressed.

"They said we dressed provocatively and since there was no man in the car we must be prostitutes looking for clients. They called their colleagues to come and arrest us," she told CNN.

She was not arrested. She said the police officers only released them after passersby gathered around.
Some women arrested in the raids said that they were randomly selected in nightclubs and detained at the Utako police station, where police sexually assaulted them, according to a coalition of over 70 activist groups and individuals protesting the arrests.

Tanimu, the police spokesman, said, "We know some of the women were arrested and released by the task force even before they got to the police station. Some were also charged to court, we are investigating all these allegations and questioning all those who went on the raids."

Groups want the raids to stop

The allegations of rape and extortion at the hands of law enforcement officers have provoked widespread anger, with many calling for a shutdown of the task force.

Hundreds of women and rights groups organized two demonstrations in the capital in the space of a week calling for the shutdown of the task force.

Rights group Amnesty International said the raids were "unconstitutional" and also called for an end to the continued harassment of women in the city.

Osai Ojigho, Amnesty International's Nigeria director, said the raid violated the women's rights of free movement and expression.

"This adds another layer to the insecurity women already face," Ojigho said. "A woman now fears to go out in the evening because she can be picked up and labeled a prostitute while shopping or jogging."

Nigerian actress Dorothy Njemanze knows only too well the consequences of being falsely arrested and labeled a prostitute in conservative and highly religious Nigeria, where some people believe that "decent" women do not walk on the streets after midnight.

"We need to address this preconceived notion that any woman out at night and wearing what the police thinks is not decent is a prostitute. We are saying we have had enough," Njemanze told CNN.

In 2012, she was arrested by officers of the task force and accused of prostitution alongside three other women. She was never formally charged and she challenged the arrest in a lawsuit against the Nigerian government.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) ruled in 2017 that the arrest was unlawful and violated her right to freedom of liberty.

Njemanze was awarded 6 million naira in damages (approximately $16,000).
"Seeing this happening all over after again, after all I have gone through and lost is very traumatizing," Njemanze told CNN.


Friday, May 10, 2019

Widespread attacks by armed gangs in Nigeria

There is a growing concern in northern Nigeria where violence has increased significantly. More than 100 people have been killed in the past month by armed gangs. What began as a conflict between farmers and cattle herders a decade ago has now turned into regular killings and kidnappings.

Tracking movie box office earnings to become easier in Nigeria

The latest boost local movie industries in Africa are getting is data.

Comscore, the US-based media analytics company known for providing box office measurement data, is expanding operations to nine African countries where it will “capture more than 95% of all revenue and admissions.” The company’s operations on the continent will focus on West and southern African countries including Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Namibia, South Africa, eSwatini, Zambia Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

As expected, Nollywood, Nigeria’s high-profile movie sector, has proven a big draw. With investment in cinema outlets spiking over the past decade (and with more on the way), movie earnings have grown steadily in tandem. And this growth has not been limited to Hollywood blockbusters as Nollywood hits are also earning big box office returns with an increased focus on quality rather than quantity.

But the rising box office earnings have also created the need for more accurate data on movie earnings in an industry that’s long had a culture of opacity. A long-running piracy problem has usually meant that it’s unclear how much profit, if any, filmmakers and producers earn. But with cinemas now opening up an important revenue stream in comparison to other existing earning models like DVD and VCD releases, the need for industry data is even more apparent.

While local bodies like the Cinema Exhibitors’ Association of Nigeria currently track box office earnings, they lack the credibility of a global independent player like Comscore. There has also been some skepticism from industry insiders who suggest that earnings by local Nollywood movies may be inflated especially as earnings are typically declared by filmmakers and production companies rather than independent box office data sources. Indeed, last December, Genevieve Nnaji, veteran actress and director of Lionheart, Netflix’s first original Nollywood film, accused local cinema chains of manipulating numbers to maintain a “false imagery of making box-office hits.”

While Comscore is currently focused only on West and Southern Africa, there’s a chance it might look farther across the continent as more investors make plays to build cinema infrastructure. For instance, Orange, the dominant telecoms player in the region has partnered with CanalOlympia, the cinema network owned by French media giants Vivendi, to open a chain of twenty 300-seater cinemas.

By Yomi Kazeem


Nigeria police publish guidelines on how to survive their checkpoints

Smile, be polite, and avoid fighting an officer. These are some of the tips to improve drivers' experience during a police roadblock in Nigeria, according to the force's Twitter account.

It is not clear what prompted them to share the 16 guidelines, but a recent embarrassing viral video of an officer hassling a driver at a checkpoint for a bribe might be behind it.

In it, an officer is captured asking for a bribe of 4,000 naira ($10; £7) because the initial offer was, according to him, not enough.

Such incidents have reportedly ended in motorists being shot dead after drivers refused to oblige.

The police do not address the issue of bribe solicitation in their "tips for safe and cordial relationship at checkpoints".

So, just in case you're wondering how to comply with the guidelines, here's what a motorist should do:

Slow down as you approach the checkpoint, ensure the car's interior lights are on, if it's at night, and keep your hands visible to avoid spooking police officers. Lowering the volume of the car radio would be greatly appreciated. The police also felt it was necessary to warn about the potentially fatal consequences of fighting an armed police officer.

Most Nigerians don't trust the police because they see them as unprofessional and corrupt, according to BBC Nigeria editor Aliyu Tanko.

They often complain about the ubiquitous checkpoints, which many feel have been set up purely to extort bribes.

Nigerian police are among the worst paid and ill equipped in the world, our reporter says.

The police, however, see bad interactions with the public as being a result of misunderstandings.

The guidelines are being seen as part of efforts by the police service to burnish its image. It comes after the police held a public engagement event on social media.

The reaction on Twitter to the police checkpoint guidelines has been mixed:

"As you've given us these tips. Also educate your officers on how to behave. Not when one follow these tips and at the end your officers start saying 'leave those talk', pay me and go'. Let's be guided and play our respective parts." @Shilorine

"The only thing missing here is what citizens should expect of policemen they meet on the roads. Do we not have any rights, or expectations of courteous service from people who are supposed to be providing service. It is all one way." @rotilaw

"Sir I am I highly impressed with this information and as you are informing and guiding us also try to inform your boys too". @_Tee90papi

"All the policemen along Abakpa to Nsukka road know me and can recognise my vehicle from miles away. Why? Whenever I see a check point, I slow down, hail the officer on duty, ask him how his day is going and tell him well done. I've never had an incident. They're human beings too" @crayziggy


Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Candidates to head Central Bank of Nigeria

Nigeria’s central bank governor for the next five years will have to balance fighting inflation and propping up the currency against pressure to boost an economy that’s expanding slower than emerging-market peers.

Godwin Emefiele’s first five-year term ends in June and he could be reappointed. But with less than a month to go, the top post has also been linked to the regulator’s most senior female official and other potential candidates at institutional and development banks.

Below are some of the possible candidates to oversee monetary policy in Africa’s most-populous nation and largest oil producer. That is, unless President Muhammadu Buhari elects a governor that markets didn’t expect, as his predecessor did five years ago in Emefiele.
Godwin Emefiele

Since being appointed, Emefiele raised the key interest rate to a record high to contain price growth and bolster the naira, despite sluggish growth. His decisions to implement currency controls by restricting importers of around 40 items from buying foreign exchange, and his defiance of calls to devalue the naira, may be viewed favorably by Buhari, who’s keen to boost local production and wants a strong currency. The 57-year-old banker would want a second term if he is offered, a person close to the matter has said.

While Emefiele has forged a good working relationship with Buhari, no central bank governor has served more than one term since the end of Nigerian military rule in 1999.

Emefiele’s decision to float the naira and his reluctance until March to reduce interest rates while the Buhari government was pushing for looser policy to support its borrowing plans and stimulate the economy may count against him, Michael Famoroti, an economist and partner at Stears Business, said by phone from Lagos.

Aishah Ahmad
Ahmad was appointed by Buhari as deputy governor in March 2018 and oversees financial-systems stability. Her banking experience, at the former Diamond Bank Plc, Zenith Bank Plc and Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc, may be welcomed by business. At the January Monetary Policy Committee meeting she called for increased lending to small- and medium-sized enterprises. If picked for the post, Ahmad would be the first permanent female governor.

Ahmed Kuru

Kuru heads the Asset Management Corp. of Nigeria which was set up by the West African nation to buy bad debt following a banking crisis in 2009. AMCON’s books expanded rapidly during Kuru’s tenure as non-performing loans spiked after the economy contracted in 2016. If appointed, Kuru could boost the central bank’s focus on banking reforms and strengthening the financial sector.

Mansur Muhtar

Muhtar is a former Nigerian finance minister and was director-general of the nation’s Debt Management Office from 2003 until 2007. Currently a vice president at the Saudi Arabia-based Islamic Development Bank, he’s also served as executive director on the board of the World Bank, as co-chairman of the United Nations Inter-Governmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Finance, and executive director at the African Development Bank.

By Solape Renner with assistance of PaulWallace


Monday, May 6, 2019

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Video - Nigerian radio host combats Boko Haram ideology on air

A radio station host is defying high odds to battle Boko Haram's extremist ideology. With programming in the local Ka-nuri and Hausa languages, Dandal Kura radio station seeks to inform communities around the Lake Chad basin, in spite of possible dire consequences.

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Friday, May 3, 2019

Widows of executed activists in Nigeria win case against Shell

The widows of nine Nigerian activists executed in 1995 got a major boost on Wednesday when a Dutch court ruled that it had jurisdiction to determine whether Royal Dutch Shell was complicit in the Nigerian government’s execution of their husbands.* The men who came to be known as the Ogoni Nine, were environmental activists who fought against widespread pollution in the Niger Delta.

The four widows accuse Shell of instigating a deadly crackdown by the military government of the time against peaceful protesters in Ogoniland, in the Niger Delta, the most valuable oil-producing region in Nigeria.

Shell denies any responsibility.

Africa News

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Two Agusta helicopters for Air force part of Nigeria military upgrade

Nigeria's air force has received two new military grade helicopters -- during celebrations to mark the country's 55th independence anniversary in the capital, Abuja. The Agusta helicopters are part of air power upgrades, which Nigeria has put in place to combat widespread security threats.

UK considering boosting military support to help Nigeria defeat Boko Haram

Britain is considering stepping up its military efforts to help the Nigerian government defeat Boko Haram, following a rise in terrorist activity in the country’s north-east in the past year, Jeremy Hunt has said after a visit to the region.

The UK foreign secretary said on Wednesday that he will be discussing what more the British government can do in terms of aid and military support to combat the terrorist group, warning the crisis had the potential to trigger a humanitarian catastrophe on the scale of that in Yemen.

Britain provides £240m in aid to Nigeria, of which £100m goes to the north-east, making it the second-largest donor after the US, and giving the UK a sizeable stake in what happens in the region.

Boko Haram and Islamic State in west Africa have terrorised the region for several years, but their activities came to the world’s attention when hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls were kidnapped in 2014.

British military personnel in Abuja and the wider region are giving strategic advice to Nigerian forces on how to run counterinsurgency operations, with their advice focused on combining humanitarian and military activities.

The Nigerian military has been repeatedly criticised by humanitarian groups for running brutal campaigns that make little effort to win over hearts and minds.

The 120,000-strong army is structured on very traditional lines but sends troops to highly hostile areas for as long as four years. Operating on a small budget, soldiers are often underpaid and morale is low.

Speaking on a visit to Maiduguri as part of a week-long trip to Africa, Hunt said: “It has got all the hallmarks of something that if you do not nip in the bud, it will get a lot worse. Conversely, it feels like a situation that it is something that could be dealt with if there was appropriate action by the government of Nigeria with international support.”

He said the crisis had spread to Niger, Chad and Cameroon. “There is a potential solution here … Nigeria is huge country and it is very stretched,” Hunt added.

Asked if he supported an increase in military action in the region, the UK foreign secretary said: “I think the crucial deciding factor is the willingness and enthusiasm of the Nigerian government and the Nigerian army to work closely with us – we would like to support and help them, but they are a sovereign nation and they have got to want our help.”

He said Britain wanted to bring holistic solutions, suggesting by implication that the Nigerian army has focused too heavily on militaristic solutions. “I think our approach is potentially a very significant one, because we could bring not just the British army but also DfID [the Department for International Development] and our experience in holistic solutions to these kind of situations,” Hunt added.

“This is a region of Africa that is being massively destabilised by conflict. These things can escalate quite quickly and get out of control. We know from Sri Lanka that Daesh [Isis] are looking to make their presence felt now they have lost their territory. We have to be vigilant.”

He said Sri Lanka was not on anyone’s radar, and showed how threats can escalate. Nigeria was “an area where all the warning signs are there”, he said, adding that not all the conflict was driven by religion.

“The feedback I got from NGOs on the ground is that lack of trust between the authorities and local people is one of the things that is fuelling the problem at the moment. The Nigerian army strategy is largely about herding people into towns and saying if you are not in a secure area, we are going to assume you are Boko Haram and/or Islamic State west Africa,” he said.

“Such an approach was understandable in the short term, but the long-term risk is that you are depriving people of their livelihoods and their farms. There are 2 million people displaced living there at the moment in pretty horrific circumstances.

“Both NGOs and military analysts fear the recent increase in violence reflects changes in the terrorist leadership, and a failure by the Nigerian military to establish humanitarian plans to follow the military clearances of areas. The brutal methods only lead to a loss of support for the military.”

The Guardian

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Two shell oil workers kidnapped in Nigeria rescued

Two Royal Dutch Shell oil workers who were kidnapped in Nigeria’s southern Niger Delta region last week have been rescued, a police spokesman and Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) said on Tuesday.

Kidnappings for ransom occur in much of Nigeria, Africa’s biggest oil producer, but are particularly prevalent in the Niger Delta which produces the majority of the country’s crude oil.

The pair were attacked in southern Rivers state last week while returning from an official trip to Bayelsa state.

“The tactical team of the command rescued the victims in the early hours of Tuesday,” said Nnamdi Omoni a spokesman for Rivers state police force.

A spokesman for SPDC also said the pair were free. “They are well and being supported after their ordeal,” said SPDC spokesman Michael Adande.


Student from Nigeria arrested for drug trafficking in Saudi Arabia freed

A Nigerian student who was arrested last year for alleged drug trafficking in Saudi Arabia has been freed, the Nigerian government says.

Zainab Aliyu was accused of smuggling 2,000 packs of a strong pain killer.

The Nigerian authorities later found that the drugs had been planted in her luggage by a criminal gang.

Drug trafficking is a capital offence in Saudi Arabia, which practices conservative Islam. Those found guilty are executed.

This was the fate earlier this month of a Nigerian woman, who was beheaded in the city of Mecca, along with two Pakistani men and a Yemeni man.

Ms Aliyu's detention sparked protests and with supporters in Nigeria using the hashtag #FreeZeinab to call for her release.

Her freedom comes as hundreds of her fellow students gathered at Maitama Sule University in the northern city of Kano on Tuesday to demand her release.

On Monday, President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the attorney general to intervene in the matter.

His aide tweeted the news of Ms Aliyu's release using the popular hashtag #FreeZeinab.

Ms Aliyu was arrested at her hotel in Medina by Saudi police last December, shortly after arriving for the lesser hajj with her family - and remained in detention until Tuesday.

The Saudi authorities had accused her of trafficking 2,000 packs of Tramadol in a bag tagged with her name that had been left at the airport.

Recently, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency of Nigeria (NDLEA) said it had uncovered a criminal gang that had been planting illicit drugs in travellers' luggage.

An investigation was launched after Ms Aliyu's father reported the case to the police and it led to the arrest of six officials at Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport.

They have been accused at a federal high court of framing Ms Aliyu and have not commented on the charges.