Friday, October 18, 2019

Fuel tanker explosion kills 2 in Nigeria

Nigerian presidency confirmed on Thursday two people were killed in a fuel tanker explosion which wreaked havoc in the southern state of Anambra on Wednesday.

A woman and her child were confirmed killed as the tanker fell and spilled its content on a busy road in Onitsha, a commercial city of Anambra, according to a statement from the presidency.

"I am profoundly touched by the sight of the charred remains of an innocent mother and her child who are victims of this tragedy," Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said in the statement issued in Abuja.

"I also extend my sympathies to other victims of the explosion whose houses, shops and other property were destroyed in the mishap," he said.

Over 40 buildings and scores of shops were lost to the fire, according to local media.

Buhari called for urgent action on the part of those concerned to stem these frequent fatal disasters on public roads.

The president directed relevant government ministries and departments, as well as local stakeholders, to urgently address the issue of safety standards in the country, with a view to "stemming the embarrassing frequency of these tragedies".

Andrew Kumapayi, head of the state's Federal Road Safety Commission, told Xinhua the tanker lost control and fell into a gutter after experiencing break failure, spilling its content and causing fire.

Kumapayi said the fire service officials got to the scene promptly but could not put out the fire as their water pump developed fault.

Acording to him, the fire spread through the gutter and affected houses and shops along the road.

In July, a similar explosion in the central Nigerian state of Benue had claimed at least 45 lives.


Town in Nigeria celebrate being 'twins capital' of the world

The sign greeting visitors at the entrance of Igbo-Ora in southwest Nigeria welcomes people to "TWINS CAPITAL OF THE WORLD".

The sleepy-looking town boasts of having the highest concentration of multiple births of any place on the globe.

To celebrate its self-proclaimed title the town hosts an annual festival, now in its second year, that draws hundreds of sets of twins from around the country.

Donning different traditional clothes and costumes, the twins -- male and female, old, young and even newborns -- sang and danced at the latest edition this weekend to the appreciation of an admiring audience.

"We feel elated that we are being honoured today," Kehinde Durowoju, a 40-year-old twin, told AFP as he hugged his identical brother Taiwo.

"With this event, the whole world will better appreciate the importance of Ibeji (twins) as special children and gifts from God."

Around them, twins moved in procession to show off their colourful outfits as magic displays and masquerades also entertained the crowds.

- 'Twins tourism' -

Population experts say the Yoruba-speaking southwest has one of the highest twinning rates in Nigeria.

Statistics are difficult to come by, but a study by British gynaecologist Patrick Nylander, between 1972 and 1982, recorded an average of 45 to 50 sets of twins per 1,000 live births in the region.

That compares to a twin birth rate of 33 per every 1,000 births in the United States, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

Igbo-Ora is the epicentre of the phenomenon in the West African country.

Residents in the town, some 100 kilometres (60 miles) north of Nigeria's biggest city Lagos, say that almost every family has some twins.

Traditional leader Jimoh Olajide Titiloye knows all about this special quirk.

"I am a twin, my wife is a twin and I have twins as children," he told AFP.

"There is hardly any household in this town which does not have at least a set of twins."

He said the festival on Saturday was aimed at promoting Igbo-Ora as "the foremost twins tourism destination in the world" and that efforts were underway to get the town listed in the Guinness Book of Records.

Prominent Yoruba ruler, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, said the festival "is a celebration of culture and recognition of Ibeji as special children in Yorubaland".

He said the birth of twins usually "heralds peace, progress, prosperity and good luck to their parents," adding that parents should always take good care of them.

But while twins are seen as a blessing by many today, that has not always the case in parts of southern Nigeria.

In pre-colonial times twins were often regarded as evil and were either banished to the "evil forest" or killed.

Scottish missionary Mary Slessor is widely credited with helping to curb the practice in the late 19th century.

- Food or genes? -

Scientists have not said definitively why Igbo-Ora has such a high number of twins.

Local residents have a theory that it is down to the diet of women in the town.

"Our people eat okra leaf or Ilasa soup with yam and amala (cassava flour)," community leader Samuel Adewuyi Adeleye told AFP.

Yams are believed to contain gonadotropins, a chemical substance that helps women to produce multiple eggs.

"The water we drink also contributes to the phenomenon," Adeleye added.

Fertility experts are sceptical -- and point to another explanation.

They say there is no proven link between diet and the high birth rate, with the same food being consumed across the region.

"It's a genetic thing," said Emmanuel Akinyemi, the medical director of Lagos-based Estate Clinic.


Related stories: The town in Nigeria known for multiple twin births

Video - Advocacy group in Nigeria fights to end traditional practice of killing twins

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Nigerian painting sells for $1.4 million

When a man found the almost forgotten portrait of his mother in their family house in Texas, he had no idea just how life-changing his discovery would be.

The portrait, Christine, was by one of the most revered African artists of the 20th century, Ben Enwonwu. The captivating sitter was Christine Elizabeth Davis, an American hair stylist of West Indian descent. The painting was completed in under a week as Christine was able to hold her pose for as long as needed. Christine, who was in her mid-30s at the time, passed away in Texas thereafter. But the painting remained in the family.

Just three months ago it was valued by Sothebys at around $200,000, but on Tuesday the portrait sold in London for over seven times the estimated price at $1.4 million.

And it’s not the first remarkable story of a Ben Enwonwu find. His best known portrait, Tutu, is a depiction of Nigerian royal princess Adetutu Ademiluyi (Tutu), often dubbed the “Nigerian Mona Lisa.” Prints of Tutu adorned the walls of living rooms across Nigeria. The 2017 discovery of Tutu was equally fascinating. The long-lost painting was found in a modest London flat and the owners had no idea of its importance or value. It sold at a record $1.6 million in 2018. It was originally estimated at a quarter of that price.

Enwonwu, who died aged 77 in 1994, was a Nigerian artist whose career spanned 60 years seeing the journey of Nigeria from a British colony to an independent nation. His story is unique in that not only did he become famous in his own country, but also in the UK where he studied.

While African art only accounted for 0.1% of global sales in 2016, these recent interesting discoveries and the impressively high prices they are garnering at auctions is cause for optimism. They are also proof that the international market for African art is indeed growing.

By Ciku Kimeria


Related stories: Britain open to loan Nigeria stolen art

The 'Mona Lisa' of Nigeria returns back home

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

President Buhari to crackdown on abusive Islamic schools

Nigeria's president on Tuesday ordered a crackdown on abuse at Islamic schools, after a second police raid in less than a month revealed men and boys subjected to beatings, abuse and squalid conditions.

Nearly 300 had been held captive at a school in the Daura area of Katsina, the home town of President Muhammadu Buhari, where police said they discovered "inhuman and degrading treatment" following a raid on Monday to free the remaining students.

Late last month, police freed hundreds from similarly degrading conditions in neighbouring Kaduna state.

"Mr President has directed the police to disband all such centres and all the inmates be handed over to their parents," said a presidential spokesman.

"The government cannot allow centres where people, male and female, are maltreated in the name of religion," he said.

Prior to this week's raid, hundreds of captives had escaped the centre, police said on Tuesday.

The 67 inmates who were freed by Katsina police were shackled, and many were taken to hospital for treatment, Police Superintendent Isah Gambo told Reuters.

"I tell you they were in very bad condition when we met them," Gambo said.

A freed captive told Reuters on Monday that the instructors beat, raped and even killed some of the men and boys held at the facility, who ranged from seven to 40 years of age. It was not immediately possible to verify his account.

While the institution told parents it was an Islamic teaching centre that would help straighten out wayward family members, the instructors instead brutally abused them and took away any food or money sent by relatives.

Police said they had arrested the owner of the facility and two teachers, and were tracking other suspects.

The more than 200 captives who escaped were still missing, Gambo said. Police were working to reunite the others with family members.

"The inmates are actually from different parts of the country - Kano, Taraba, Adamawa and Plateau States," he said.

"Some of them are not even Nigerians. They come from Niger, Chad and even Burkina Faso and other countries."

Islamic schools, called almajiris, are common in the mostly Muslim north of Nigeria.

Muslim Rights Concern, a local organisation, estimates about 10 million children attend them.

Buhari said the government planned to ban the schools eventually, but he has not yet commented on the Katsina school.

Al Jazeera

Related stories: Police in Nigeria rescue another 67 males from "inhuman' conditions

Hundreds freed from torture house in Nigeria

Survivor recounts torture house experience in Nigeria

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Video - Nigeria's lost Generation

In April 2014 close to 250 girls were abducted by the Boko Haram from a secondary school in Maiduguri, Borno State in north eastern Nigeria. Bukky Shonibare a "Bring our girls back home" campaigner shares her hopes on the Chibok girls rescue and return four years after their abduction. Fatima Adam, one of the Chibok abductees narrates how she survived a suicide bomb planted on her by the insurgents.

Police in Nigeria rescue another 67 males from "inhuman' conditions

Police in northern Nigeria rescued nearly 70 men and boys from a second purported Islamic school where they were shackled and subjected to "inhuman and degrading treatments."

The raid in Katsina, the northwestern home state of President Muhammadu Buhari, came less a month after about 300 men and boys were freed from another supposed Islamic school in neighbouring Kaduna state where they were allegedly tortured and sexually abused.

"In the course of investigation, sixty-seven persons from the ages of 7 to 40 years were found shackled with chains," Katsina police spokesman Sanusi Buba said in a statement. "Victims were also found to have been subjected to various inhuman and degrading treatments."

The raid occurred on October 12 in Sabon Garin in the Daura local government area of Katsina state. Police issued a statement on Monday and said they were working to reunite the victims with their families.

Police arrested one man, 78-year-old Mallam Bello Abdullahi Umar, for running what they called an "illegal detention/remand home."

Lawai Musa, a trader who lived near the centre, told Reuters by phone that families sent unruly men and boys there believing it was an Islamic teaching facility that would straighten them out and teach them Islamic beliefs.

"The way he is treating the children is un-Islamic" he said. "We are not happy, they were treated illegally."

Islamic schools, known as Almajiris, are common across the mostly Muslim north of Nigeria. Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), a local organisation, estimates about 10 million children attend them.

In June, President Buhari, himself a Muslim, said the government planned to ban the schools, but would not do so immediately. After the incident in Kaduna, the president issued a statement calling on traditional authorities to work with government to expose "unwanted cultural practices that amount to the abuse of children."

Buhari's office declined to immediately comment on the Katsina raid, saying it would issue a statement after a full briefing from police.

"The command enjoins parents to desist from taking their children/wards to illegal, unauthorized or unapproved remand/rehabilitation centres," the police statement said. (Reporting By Ahmed Kingimi, additional reporting by Felix Onuah in Abuja Writing by Libby George Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)


Related stories: Hundreds freed from torture house in Nigeria

Survivor recounts torture house experience in Nigeria

Monday, October 14, 2019

Video - Nigerian shoe manufacturers compete to put industry on the map

If you are familiar with Nigeria, you may have heard of the city of Aba in Abia State, in the country's southeast. It one of Nigeria's industrial clusters and the biggest shoe market in the West African sub-region. But a new set of shoe manufacturers are competing to put another Southeast Nigerian State on the map.

Video - Brazil 1-1 Nigeria - Highlights

Nigerian saved from football scam

 A Nigerian footballer has arrived back home from Mongolia following an ordeal that saw him scammed by a shady agent who promised him a glittering sports career that never materialised.

Moshood Afolabi, 24, arrived at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos on Saturday having left Ulaanbaatar, the Mongolia capital, a day earlier.

He had been trapped in Mongolia for 16 months and was overstaying a tourist visa, a situation which made it impossible to secure work, get his travel documents in order or afford a flight home.

"I'm very happy to have gained freedom leaving Mongolia," he told Al Jazeera. "I didn't believe I'd be in Nigeria on Saturday. I didn't believe it. Now, I'm experiencing so many things in Nigeria. Fresh air, fresh food. I'm really happy."

Al Jazeera reported on his plight in August and the challenges faced by many other aspiring African footballers who are stranded in several countries, having been duped by people posing as agents and tricking them into paying significant sums to travel and play for foreign clubs.

In Afolabi's case, a Nigerian man who lived close to his home spun him a tale, took his savings and sent him to play for local Mongolian club Western Khovd FC, but the job did not last beyond his tourist visa and he quickly fell into serious financial and personal problems.

Christopher Hannah, a Scottish businessman who had lived in Mongolia for six months, read and empathised with Afolabi's story and volunteered to help him.

"I had come across Moshood two weeks before I contacted him. I saw the article on Al Jazeera and at the time I was in Scotland," Hannah told Al Jazeera.

"I flew back to Mongolia and I saw it posted again on a forum and I remember someone was asking, 'Why doesn't someone help this guy?'"

Hannah, who was working on setting up a cashmere business in the East Asian country, had previous experience in the football industry and a passion for the sport.

He was previously an image rights agent for several European football clubs and footballers.

"Football is one of the best ways to break communication or culture barriers. This was the main reason Moshood and I could come together," he said.

After the Nigerian footballer spent a week in detention in late September at the Mongolian immigration service, Hannah booked and paid for Afolabi's $900 flight home, while Afolabi's friend Wael, an Egyptian immigrant, gave him the $750 he needed to pay to Mongolia for overstaying his visa.

"I felt sad because I hadn't experienced it in my life to be in a detention room for seven days," said Afolabi. "For the first three days in detention, I was drinking water, fasting and praying to Almighty Allah to save me."

Hannah claimed that his life in Mongolia took a turn for the worse after he helped Afolabi, saying he was treated with hostility by locals and was eventually denied a business visa extension.

He has now returned to his native Scotland and is in the process of opening a new football agency focusing on regions such as Africa.
Up to thousands of scammed African footballers

It is not clear exactly how many hopeful African players are stranded across the world but according to some estimates, the number is in the thousands.

In 2017, there was an influx of more than 100 African talents to Nepal, a south Asian country known least for football.

British media reported that an estimated 15,000 players are trafficked to Europe annually.

In Russia, there are dozens of cases.

Beverley Agbakoba Onyejianya, a Nigerian sports lawyer, said being deported can seriously impact a person's state of mind.

"Being deported may leave a footballer being stigmatised and even anxious about their future opportunities and ability to earn a good income," she said. "The player's career may or may not be affected depending on how they work to find new opportunities."

Back at home and reflecting on his journey, Afolabi says he will continue to play his beloved sport.

"Football is my passion," he said. "I want to use football to help my family and other people that do not have the means. I believe I'll make it in football and I want to continue."

By Tolu Olasoji

Al Jazeera

Friday, October 11, 2019

Video - Chinese app Vskit gaining huge traction in Nigeria

Chinese applications such as TikTok have been gaining massive traction across the African continent. Now joining the league is V-skit, an app used for the creation and sharing of short interesting funny videos. CGTN's Kelechi Emekalam explores how the entertainment platform is slowly becoming a fun-favorite amongst Nigerian youths.

Journalist Omoyele Sowore still remains in detention in Nigeria

 The founder of African investigative digital media site Sahara Reporters Omoyele Sowore remains detained in Nigeria on charges including treason, his wife Opeyemi Sowore told TechCrunch.

Her husband founded Sahara Reporters to create and aggregate news content, social media tips, and self-digital reporting toward exposing corruption in Africa and his home country of Nigeria.

After being jailed and beaten several times for his journalistic work in Nigeria, Sowore re-located to New York City and formed Sahara Reporters in Manhattan in 2006 to report under U.S. legal protections.

Several outlets, including Reuters, reported his arrest in August 2019. According to Opeyemi Sowore — who lives in New Jersey — her husband was detained in Lagos on August 4th while at a protest. He was then transferred to Nigeria’s capital, Abuja.

Per social media and press reporting, Omoyele Sowore (who goes by Sowore), was participating in #RevolutionNow movement of peaceful demonstration against bad governance in Nigeria.

After several hearings, he is still being held in Abuja, his wife said.

According to a copy of his court charging document obtained by TechCrunch, Sowore is charged with two counts of conspiring to stage a revolution and to remove Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, from office “otherwise than by constitutional means.”

Sowore is also charged with cybercrimes for “knowingly send[ing] messages by means of a press interview granted on Arise Television…for the purpose of causing insult…and ill-will on the…President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria” and for money laundering based on a transfer of $19,975 from a Nigerian bank account to a Sahara Reporters held account in New York.

Sowore pleaded not guilty to the charges and rejected an offer of bail for roughly $800,000, according to press reports and his wife.

As for the veracity of the charges, Sowore’s wife Opeyemi believes they are a cover to go after her husband for his activism and work with Sahara Reporters.

Sowore has never been an advocate of violence or insurrection, according to his wife.

“If you look at his history he is the most peaceful person. He does what he does so Nigeria can work for all Nigerians…be inclusive of all ethnic groups, all socio-economic backgrounds, and religions,” Opeyemi Sowore said.

“I think the charges are about silencing a critical voice that’s shining light on corruption,” she added.

Not everyone is a fan of Sowore and Sahara Reporters’ work, particularly in Nigeria. The country has has made strides in improving infrastructure and governance and has one of Africa’s strongest economies and tech scenes.

But Nigeria is still plagued by corruption, particularly around its oil-resources, and has a steady-stream of multi-billion dollar scandals — yes billions — in state related funds being stolen or simply going missing.

Sahara Reporters has made a practice of reporting on such corruption. The site, which has a tips line and small TV station, has exposed improprieties of many public officials and forced a number of resignations in Nigeria’s government.

In the previous administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, Sahara Reporters played a role in exposing the theft of an estimated $20 billion in public funds by Petroleum Minister, Diezani Allison-Madueke, who was forced to resign and eventually arrested.

The internet, mobile, and digital media play a central role in the work of Sahara Reporters. In an interview in 2014, Sowore explained to me how these mediums often do much of the investigative work.

“In many cases, there’s less investigation to breaking these stories than you’d think. The corruption and who’s perpetrating it is generally well-known and the evidence easy to distribute through social media and devices. We just need a safe place to report it from, and the rest often takes care of itself,” Sowore said.

Ironically, Sowre’s own thesis of using digital and social media for advocacy may be tested on his getting out of jail.

Sowore’s wife is working on a campaign of global supporters — including Amnesty International — to shine a light on her husband’s charges, innocence, and press for his release.

Away from the activism and politics, “I want Yele to come home safely. I’m worried about his safety and we have two small children and they miss their father dearly,” Opeyemi Sowore said.

The trial for her husband Omoyele Sowore is scheduled for early November.

Tech Crunch

Related stories: Activist Sowore pleads not guilty to treason charges in Nigeria

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Video - Nigeria clinic provides free healthcare services to women

It is estimated that one in 13 women in Nigeria die during childbirth, mainly because they cannot afford quality healthcare services. To tackle this, a humanitarian organization in Abuja is providing free healthcare services to women across the country CGTN's Deji Badmus has that story.

Nigeria has a mental health problem

On the outside, the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital Yaba seems tranquil.

But on the inside of this century-old facility - one of only a half-dozen psychiatric centres in Lagos, and the only one run by the federal government of Nigeria - tensions are running high.

At the outpatient clinic, the crowd of people waiting to consult with doctors is so thick that it spills into the hallway.

The workload is so overwhelming that Dr Dapo Adebajum, a psychiatrist rushing to attend to an agitated patient, has slept in the hospital for the past two nights.

In the emergency ward, a patient named Jide languishes in a queue where he has been waiting since 7am.

It is not yet noon at Yaba hospital, but this is business as usual. The hospital saw a 22 percent increase in the number of new patients with different types of mental illnesses in 2018 - along with a 50 percent increase in the number of patients struggling with substance abuse.

One in four Nigerians - some 50 million people - are suffering from some sort of mental illness, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Today - World Mental Health Day - finds the country nowhere near equipped to tackle the problem.

There are only eight neuropsychiatric hospitals in Nigeria. With dire budget and staffing shortfalls prompting doctors to go on strike, leave the country, or quit the medical profession altogether, the prognosis looks as grim for psychiatric care at Yaba hospital as it does for Nigeria's healthcare system as a whole.

Mental health crisis

The seventh-largest country in the world, Nigeria has Africa's highest rate of depression, and ranks fifth in the world in the frequency of suicide, according to WHO. There are less than 150 psychiatrists in this country of 200 million, and WHO estimates that fewer than 10 percent of mentally ill Nigerians have access to the care they need.

The stark difference between Nigeria's need for better psychiatric care - and the resources available - is illustrated by the healthcare gaps at Yaba psychiatric hospital, which had a 2018 budget of 133 million naira ($372,000) - but only 13 million naira ($36,000) or less than 10 percent of that amount released by the federal government.

As a result of financial deficits and other challenges, Yaba hospital lost 25 - roughly half of its resident psychiatrists over the past four years. Some left to find work in other countries. Some went to private hospitals. Others simply quit. The facility now has 33 resident doctors and 22 consultants scrambling to address the needs of the more than 5,000 patients that they treat every year.

Each doctor now tends to 50 to 80 patients per day - including the 535 who fill the inpatient beds, and the 100 or more emergency cases who are rushed to the hospital each week.

Yaba's psychiatric clinic, once open from 9am to 1:30pm, is now open until 5pm so its doctors can try to catch up on their backlog of patients.

Critics say Yaba's shortfalls are not only affecting the quality of its services, but the bottom lines of its patients and their families, too.

A father sitting next to his teenage daughter in the queue of patients tells Al Jazeera that he has spent 1,440 naira ($4, or half the average daily pay in Nigeria) to bring the girl in for that day's treatment. Because the journey - and the more-than-four-hour wait to see a doctor - are both so time-consuming, the exhausted-looking father has taken a full day off work - putting his family at financial risk - to give his daughter the psychiatric care that she needs.

Despite the long wait, the girl - who comes to Yaba about twice a month - will have only a short time to consult with her psychiatrist.

"A patient ought to spend between 25 and 30 minutes with the doctor, but ends up spending between four and five minutes," Yaba psychiatrist Dr. Afeez Enifni tells Al Jazeera.

The father says he is determined to make the most of what the hospital can offer his daughter.

"Health," he insists, "is more important than anything else."

'Bearing the burden'

This past summer, Yaba hospital's Association of Resident Doctors (ARD) held a four-week strike to protest the conditions facing the facility's practitioners and patients.

"We could not continue bearing the moral burden of rendering below-par mental health services to our teeming patient population," ARD said in a statement it issued at the start of the strike.

ARD president Dr Enifni told Al Jazeera that a main goal of the strike - which halted the admission of new patients for a month, required that emergency cases be turned away, and ended in promises to hospital employees that the facility has yet to fulfill - was to spur the hospital to hire more doctors.

Between 2014 and 2018, 40 doctors completed their six-year training at Yaba hospital - then sought employment elsewhere. Some may have left for financial reasons: Yaba doctors can face two-to-three month delays in being paid their wages. And due to a no-work, no-pay policy implemented by the Nigerian government, those who went on strike this summer may not receive the salaries they would have earned during the month that they were protesting.

Enifeni says the workload has become "unbearable" for the 33 psychiatrists and resident doctors who are still working at the hospital - one of a growing number of healthcare facilities in Nigeria where workers are going on strike.

Yaba spokeswoman Philomena Omoike said that though the hospital wrote to the Ministry of Health in June and requested 15 more doctors, that request had yet to be filled.

"The constant leaving of the doctors," she said, "makes recruitment harder."

Physician exodus

Roughly nine out of every ten doctors in Nigeria are seeking to leave the country and find work elsewhere, according to a 2017 poll by the nonprofit organisation Nigeria Health Watch.

The desire for better opportunities - improved pay, facilities, work environments, professional satisfaction, tax breaks and career progression - were among the reasons that psychiatrists and other doctors surveyed said they were hoping to emigrate.

Every week, reports the General Medical Council of the United Kingdom, at least 12 doctors leave Nigeria to seek employment in the UK, where they can earn twice as much as they do at home - and where the number of practicing doctors from Nigeria has more than doubled in the past 13 years.

As Demola Alalade - a doctor who won a psychiatric residency slot in Nigeria but chose to emigrate to the UK - told Al Jazeera: "It's better to be a medical officer in a system that works than a psychiatrist in a system that doesn't."
'No funding from the government'

In part due to the migration of doctors to other countries, Nigeria has an estimated physician-patient ratio of one doctor to every 4,000 to 5,000 patients - six times smaller than the physician-patient ratio (one physician to every 600 doctors) that is recommended by WHO.

Nigeria Health Watch projects that with Nigeria's population on the rise (it is slated to double by 2050, according to the United Nations), the country will need to stop losing doctors and instead start bringing more in - at a rate of 10,605 per year - to keep pace with overall patient demand.

Nigeria's former Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, said in April that the country had "more than enough" doctors.

But practitioners at Yaba - and their patients - disagree.

They say Nigeria needs to start spending the money it has pledged to devote to psychiatry services and other forms of healthcare, too.

Along with 20 other member nations of the African Union, Nigeria signed the 2001 Abuja Declaration that promised to earmark 15 percent of its federal budgets for healthcare.

A 2011 WHO report found Nigeria had made "insufficient progress" towards that target. And by 2018, the country had allocated just 3.95 percent of its budget to funding its Ministry of Health.

In Nigeria's recently proposed 2020 budget, President Muhammadu Buhari allocated just 4.3 percent of the total budget for health.

For the physicians, residents, and patients of Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital Yaba, the money and support for which they have been long been waiting cannot come too soon.

"There has been an increase in patients," says Omoike, "but no funding from the government."

By Socrates Mbamalu

Al Jazeera

Related stories: The new mental illness approach in Nigeria

Video - Nigerian woman tackles mental health stigma

Entrepreneur Emeka Offor wants to combat mental health crisis in Nigeria

Nigeria seeks anti-sexual harassment law after #SexForGrades film

The Nigerian senate has introduced a bill that aims to prevent the sexual harassment of university students.

The proposed legislation follows a BBC investigation that uncovered alleged sexual misconduct by lecturers in Nigeria and Ghana.

The senate's deputy president said he hoped the BBC's investigation would help energise support for the bill.

Senator Ovie Omo-Agege said that he regarded sexual harassment in universities as unacceptable.

If the bill were to become law it would be illegal for lecturers to make any sexual advances towards students.

And under the proposed law, which was read in the senate on Wednesday, teaching staff could face up to 14 years in jail for having sexual relationships with their students.

The anti-sexual harassment bill was originally introduced in 2016 but didn't pass both houses of parliament.

Critics rejected the bill because it did not cover sexual harassment in the workplace and included a defence for consent. The defence for consent has been removed from the latest bill.

Footage of alleged sexual misconduct by academics at the University of Lagos and the University of Ghana was broadcast on Monday in Sex for Grades - a documentary by the BBC's Africa Eye investigative unit.

The documentary prompted outrage over harassment in Nigeria and Ghana and led to the suspension of four lecturers featured in the film. The suspended lecturers have denied the allegations.

What did the film show?

Four lecturers were secretly filmed allegedly propositioning or sexually harassing the BBC's undercover reporters.

Dr Boniface Igbeneghu, a lecturer at the University of Lagos and local pastor, was filmed making inappropriate remarks and requests toward an undercover journalist, who was posing as a prospective student aged 17, and later physically harassing her and asking to kiss her inside his locked office

Dr Igbeneghu then appeared to threaten to tell her mother if she was "disobedient" towards him.

The full hour-long documentary also featured interactions with two lecturers at the University of Ghana.

Both of the men, Professor Ransford Gyampo and Dr Paul Kwame Butakor, have been suspended but denied they were offering "sex for grades" in the undercover exchanges.


Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Video - Blogger/Photojournalist defies odds by chasing his dreams with one arm

About 19 million Nigerians live with some form of disability - majority of them having very significant difficulties in carrying on with their daily lives. But Blogger and Photojournalist Masara Kim has gone against all odds to be one of the best in his field.

Video - Parents in Nigeria adopt innovative options to discipline their children

The question of whether spanking a child translates to discipline or abuse has been dominating conversations around Africa. Nigeria is no exception. In this next report, CGTN's Kelechi Emakalam examines how Nigerian parents are devising other means of disciplining their children without using the cane.

Pirate activites drop in Nigeria

Recent records had shown drop in maritime crime and piracy in Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea, head of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) said here Tuesday.

Addressing the ongoing Global Maritime Security Conference holding in Abuja, Nigeria's capital, Dakuku Peterside, NIMASA's director-general, said there have been improvement through different initiatives to tackle maritime insecurity.

According to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), 73 percent of all sea kidnapping and 92 percent of hostage-takings occur in the Gulf of Guinea off Nigeria, Guinea, Togo, Benin and Cameroon.

Recently, the organization has noted "a welcome and marked decrease" in attacks in the region due to an increase in Nigerian Navy patrols.

Twenty-one incidents have been recorded around Nigeria as at July this year, compared to 31 in the same period of 2018, said Peterside.

The Nigerian official however reiterated the need for more partnership and collaboration between relevant stakeholders to tackle the maritime insecurity menace in the region.

Peterside told his audience that safe and secured waterways will boost maritime transportation in Nigeria and in the continent.

He said member states in the region had agreed to deal with the issue of insecurity of waterways from its roots and had developed initiatives to ensure this.


Related stories: Nigeria loses $1.5bn monthly to sea pirates and fuel fraud

Video - Nigerian government extends anti-piracy operation by 3 months

Video - Piracy in Nigeria

Nigeria's $875 million case against JPMorgan alllowed to proceed

An $875 million Nigerian government lawsuit against U.S. bank JPMorgan is clear to move forward after a London-based appeals court on Tuesday rejected the bank’s bid to have the case dismissed.

The bank had asked the court to quash the Nigerian government’s case, arguing that it had no prospect of success. All three justices at the Court of Appeal in London rejected JPMorgan’s argument in a ruling.

“I have formed no view as to the overall merits of the (government’s) claim but there is nothing in the terms of the depository agreement which entitles (JP) Morgan Chase to bring the proceedings to an end at this stage,” Lady Justice Rose wrote in the decision.

Tuesday’s decision upheld a February ruling from a lower court.

Nigeria is suing JPMorgan for more than $875 million, accusing it of negligence in transferring funds from a disputed 2011 oilfield deal to a company controlled by the country’s former oil minister.

The bank declined to comment on Tuesday's ruling. It has said it considers the allegations against it "unsubstantiated and without merit", and that it would fight the case in court.

A spokesman for Nigeria’s attorney general did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The case is one of several revolving around a $1.3 billion payment from oil companies Shell (RDSa.L) and Eni (ENI.MI) to secure offshore oilfield OPL 245.

The main trial related to OPL 245 is being held in Milan.

JPMorgan, acting under the instruction of previous Nigerian government officials, transferred money from those payments from an escrow account into accounts controlled by the previous operator of the block, Malabu Oil and Gas, itself controlled by former oil minister Dan Etete.

JPMorgan argued in its effort to dismiss the case that the approvals from those government officials was sufficient but the Nigerian government alleges that the bank’s transfers violated the duty of care owed to the government as a client.

Nigeria has also filed a $1.1 billion lawsuit in London against Shell and Eni over the deal.

Shell, Eni and their executives, have denied any wrongdoing. Etete, who was convicted of money laundering in France in 2007, has also denied charges against him.

The oilfield’s original license was awarded to Malabu in 1998, and is estimated to hold more than 9 billion barrels of oil, but has yet to enter production.


Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Video - Solar energy gradually replacing diesel generators in Nigeria

With poor electricity supply from the national grid in Nigeria, most businesses and households in the country rely on generators for power. But as people tire of the noise and pollution, many are now turning to solar energy - an alternative that is cleaner, quieter and cheaper in the long run.

Related story: Nigeria runs on generators and nine hours of power a day

Monday, October 7, 2019

Cross-cultural romantic relationships are occasionally marked by moments of misunderstanding, apprehension and soul searching. But they are leavened by commitment, love and, crucially, humour. Those experiences form the bedrock of Bob Hearts Abishola, a new US comedy series airing on CBS that portrays a blossoming romance between an American man and a Nigerian immigrant woman. To observers, Bob (Billy Gardell) has it good – he has a prosperous business in Detroit manufacturing compression socks, owns his home and drives a great car. But his loneliness and the stress of running a company takes a toll and lands him in hospital with a heart scare. He is drawn to Abishola (Folake Olowofoyeku), a nurse and single mother who helps him get back to full health. He sets out to convince Abishola to give him a chance. But they soon find the path of courtship is long and winding as they face questions and well-meaning interference from family and friends. On Monday’s show we’ll meet three cast members and hear what they learned from making a sitcom that places the immigrant experience at the heart of the story.

Video - A teenager's struggle for survival in tough northern Nigeria

CGTN's Kelechi Emekalam highlights the life of a young Nigerian teenager who is defying the odds and pushing hard to make headway in life. Northern Nigeria, is considered the toughest place to survive in the west African nation.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Former Nigeria striker Isaac Promise dies aged 31

His club, American side Austin Bold, said that he passed away on Wednesday night but offered no explanation as to the cause.

Promise was captain of the Nigeria side that won a silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

He spent much of his career in Turkey, with Trabzonspor among his former clubs, and also had a brief spell in Saudi Arabia with Al-Ahli.

Former West Ham defender Anton Ferdinand was among those to pay tribute.

"I'm in shock," he wrote on Instagram. "You were my room mate at Antalyaspor. RIP Isaac Promise. Rest well bro my prayers are with your family and friends at this time."


Facebook removes face accounts from Nigeria

Facebook has removed several pages, groups and accounts on its platforms from the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia, citing "coordinated inauthentic behaviour" aimed at misleading social media users.

A total of 443 Facebook accounts, 200 pages and 76 groups, as well as 125 Instagram accounts, were removed, the social media platform said on Thursday.

They were traced to three separate and "unconnected" operations, one of which was operating in three countries, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Nigeria; and two others in Indonesia and Egypt, to spread misleading posts and news articles.

Facebook, which owns one-time rivals Instagram and WhatsApp, said the accounts were engaged in spreading content on topics like UAE's activity in Yemen, the Iran nuclear deal and criticism of Qatar, Turkey and Iran.

Those operations created "networks of accounts to mislead others about who they were, and what they were doing," Nathaniel Gleicher, head of cybersecurity policy said in the statement.

In all, the accounts on Facebook and Instagram commanded an estimated 7.5 million followers.

The company added that it is taking down the accounts "based on their behaviour, not the content they posted".

"In each of these cases, the people behind this activity coordinated with one another and used fake accounts to misrepresent themselves."

Facebook defines coordinated inauthentic behaviour as "when groups of pages or people work together to mislead others about who they are or what they are doing."

One account called USA Thoughts posted false information about Qatar developing a "Hate App".

In Indonesia, accounts involved in "domestic-focused" issues were accused of spreading news about the deadly protests in the West Papua region.

"Although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities, our investigation found links to an Indonesia media firm InsightID."

As much as $300,000 was reportedly spent on Facebook ads paid in the Indonesian currency, rupiah.

Al Jazeera was not immediately able to contact InsightID.

During the April 2019 national elections, President Joko Widodo, who was seeking re-election, was also targeted with disinformation on social media, with some accusing him of being a communist and an underground Christian.

Sluggish response

The social media giant has recently cracked down on such accounts after its founder Mark Zuckerberg came under fire in the last few years for sluggishness in developing tools to combat "extremist" content and propaganda operations.

"We are making progress rooting out this abuse, but as we’ve said before, it’s an ongoing challenge," the statement on Thursday said.

Earlier this year, Facebook removed accounts from Iraq, Ukraine, China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Thailand, Honduras and Israel.

Facebook is also making attempts to prevent online abuses and spread of misinformation, including in political election campaigns.

In March, it removed 200 pages, groups and accounts linked to the former social media manager of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte for misleading people.

The accounts and posts in question posted about local news, elections and alleged misconduct by political candidates opposed to the Duterte administration.

Facebook said the accounts administrators tried to hide their identity but were linked to a network organised by Duterte's 2016 campaign operative.

The spread of fake news and propaganda, however, is not limited to individuals and private companies.

According to a study conducted by the University of Oxford and published in late September, a "handful of sophisticated state actors" are using social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to influence a global audience.

It listed China, India, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela for using Facebook and Twitter for "foreign influence operations".

The report said that most recently, China has been "aggressively using" Facebook, Twitter and YouTube in a "global disinformation" campaign related to the ongoing protests in Hong Kong.

Al Jazeera

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Six school girls kidnapped in Nigeria

Gunmen have abducted six girls and two staff members from a boarding school in northern Nigeria, according to a police spokesman.

Yakubu Sabo said armed men gained entry on Thursday into the Engravers College, a mixed boarding school in a remote area south of the city of Kaduna.

They "took away two staff of the college and six female students to an unknown destination", Sabo said.

It was not immediately clear who had taken them.

"The Kaduna state police command has mobilised and dispatched some operatives with a view to trail the perpetrators of this crime and rescue the victims and apprehend the criminals. The operation is still ongoing," he told Al Jazeera by phone.

An official at the school confirmed the kidnapping to the AFP news agency.

"Unknown gunmen broke into the school around 12:10 am (23:10 GMT) and took away six female students and two staff who live inside the school," Elvis Allah-Yaro said.

Abductions for ransom are common in Nigeria and the highway from the capital Abuja to the city of Kaduna has seen a surge in attacks by armed criminals, but raids on schools are rare.

In 2014, the armed group Boko Haram abducted 276 schoolgirls from the remote northeastern town of Chibok in the Borno state.

About 100 of those schoolgirls remain missing.

Last week, police in the city of Kaduna freed hundreds of men and boys from a purported religious school where they had been beaten and abused.

Al Jazeera

Nigeria fines banks $1.3 billion penalty

Nigeria’s central bank plans to charge 12 banks a total of more than 400 billion naira ($1.3 billion) for failing to meet its minimum loan-to-deposit ratio requirement by a September deadline, three banking sources told Reuters on Thursday.

The central bank has been seeking to boost credit to businesses and consumers after a recent recession in Africa’s biggest economy, but lending has yet to pick up. With growth slow, banks prefer to park cash in risk-free government securities rather than lend to companies and consumers.

Nigeria’s economy is expected to pick up in 2019 with gross domestic product expanding close to 3%, up from 1.9% last year, according to the central bank.

In July, the central bank asked lenders to maintain a ratio of lending out at least 60% of deposits by September as part of measures aimed at getting credit flowing.

Bank chief executives plan to meet with the banking regulator in Abuja on Thursday to discuss the charges, the sources said.

The local units of Citibank and Standard Chartered Bank are among those affected, the sources said.

Other include top tier Nigerian lenders Zenith Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank, First Bank and United Bank for Africa.

The central bank did not respond to a request for immediate comment. The banks declined to comment.

Lenders have done little to expand borrowing in Nigeria, blaming a weak economy after a 2014 oil price crash and a currency crisis that made loans go sour. Analysts fear growing credit quickly could weaken asset quality and capital buffers.

The central bank has said loans rose 5.3% in the three months to the end of September to 16.40 trillion naira, due the new minimum requirement and increased the lending ratio target in what it said was a move to sustain the momentum.

In the last few months, the regulator has also capped interest-bearing deposits at the central bank and barred banks from buying treasury bills for their own accounts at an open market auction, to boost lending.


Nigeria and South Africa to set-up warning system on xenophobic attacks

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has met his South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa, weeks after xenophobic attacks in Johannesburg triggered tensions between Africa's leading economies.

Nigerians were among those targeted during the wave of violence which resulted in the death of 12 people and led to an extraordinary airlift of hundreds of people last month.

On Thursday, amid warm smiles and a joint commitment to strengthen bilateral relations, Buhari said the attacks were "unacceptable" and called for preventive measures.

"We call for the strengthening and implementation of all the necessary measures to prevent the reoccurrence of such actions," he said.

Ramaphosa condemned the violence, saying: "Early warning mechanisms will be set up so that when we see there is restiveness in both of our people ... we will be able to inform one another."

He added: "We are equally committed to upholding the rule of law and ensuring that all those involved in criminal activities, regardless of their nationality, are prosecuted."

It is Buhari's first visit to South Africa since Ramaphosa's new administration was established earlier this year. The three-day visit is also the first to the country by a Nigerian leader since 2013.

Buhari and his ministers were welcomed with cannon shots and a guard of honour under a bright spring sun. At the welcome ceremony in Pretoria's Union Buildings, Ramaphosa and Buhari referred to each other as "brothers".

Economic ties

Buhari and Ramaphosa, accompanied by key ministers, discussed various issues, including strengthening economic relations.

The Nigerian leader's visit marks the 20th anniversary of a Bi-National Commission (BNC) established between the two countries in 1999. Since then, dozens of trade agreements have been signed between them.

In 2018, the total value of trade between them amounted to $3.35bn, making Nigeria South Africa's largest trade partner in West Africa.

A joint business forum between South Africa and Nigeria was held on Thursday afternoon.

"We want to create an enabling environment for doing business in our respective countries," said Ramaphosa, pointing out road, mining and infrastructure as key areas.

The South African leader also acknowledged Nigeria's support in the struggle against apartheid.

Buhari said his government is committed to fighting unemployment and poverty in his country. He also promised more opportunities for investors in Nigeria.

Formal relations between the two countries were established after the first democratic elections in South Africa in 1994.

Al Jazeera

Related stories: South Africa President to host Nigeria President after xenophobic violence

Video - Nigerians repatriated from South Africa after attacks

Unregulated reform schools in Nigeria paint a picture of torture and abuse

Horrific revelations of torture and abuse at a compound billing itself as a Koranic reform school in northern Nigeria have shone a spotlight on Islamic institutes unregulated by the authorities.

Last week police in the city of Kaduna raided a building to find hundreds of men and boys—some reportedly aged as young as 5 — held in atrocious conditions at a facility proprietors described as a religious school and rehabilitation centre.

Inmates were discovered chained to metal railings and with their hands and feet shackled together. Some bore scars from alleged beatings while other recounted being sexually abused.

"If they caught you if you want to run away from this place, they would hang you, they would chain you," one of the victims Abdallah Hamza said.

The shocking revelations made headlines but activists insisted they were symptomatic of abuses that have long-riddled a system beyond official control. Private Islamic schools — known locally as Almajiri schools — are widespread across mainly Muslim northern Nigeria, where poverty levels are high and government services often lacking.

The authorities have estimated that there are more than nine million students enrolled at the institutions.

"The latest example from Kaduna represented the worst of the system and very inhumane conditions," Mohammed Sabo Keana, team lead at the Abuja-based Almajiri Child Rights Initiative NGO, told AFP.

"But they are a clear manifestation of what a lot of children go through —including being made to beg on the streets, subjected to violence, sleeping in the worst conditions imaginable and living with terrible sanitation levels."

"A place of human slavery"

Activists have long pushed the government to reform or end the Almajiri system, arguing that it fails to provide children with the basics of an education. In June Nigeria's presidency said that it wanted ultimately to ban the schools, but insisted it would not be doing so anytime soon for fear of creating "panic or a backlash."

Now calls for change look likely to grow in the wake of the latest scandal. In a statement on the case the office of President Muhammadu Buhari — himself a Muslim from northern Nigeria — denounced the facility "as a house of torture and a place of human slavery."

"We are glad that Muslim authorities have dismissed the notion of the embarrassing and horrifying spectacle as (an) Islamic School," the statement said.

But it steered clear of mentioning any move to prohibit the schools and insisted that enforcing free compulsory education was a "panacea."

"To stop unwanted cultural practices that amount to the abuse of children, our religious and traditional authorities must work with the federal, state and local governments to expose and stop all types of abuse that are widely known but ignored for many years by our communities," it said.

"Stay in line"

Defenders of the Almajiri system argue that it can offer poor families services the Nigerian state woefully fails to provide. Millions of children in the country go without any education despite primary school nominally being free.

Retired civil servant Yusuf Hassan runs the Almajiri Foundation in the northern city of Kano that has looked to improve the system. He insisted that most schools are not like the one uncovered in Kaduna and instead blamed so-called "rehabilitation centers" where families send relatives considered delinquent or drug addicts.

"Some parents who have children that are difficult to manage at home take them to such rehabilitation centers," he said. "Some of the centres end up chaining the kids because they know they will run away."

Hassan blamed a lack of any government medical or psychiatric care to help tackle widespread drug addiction in northern Nigeria and said a first step should be to separate rehab centres from schools.

But even some of those who have lived through the brutal treatment meted out in such institutions have argued they can be a force for good. Mohammed Usman was chained up in one when his family took him there to get over a drug addiction in his twenties.

"Of course students were flogged when they misbehave which made us to mind our manners and stay in line," Usman, now 45 and a high school teacher, told AFP.

He said he was taught about religion, morality and "respect" and eventually managed to get clean.

"I was there for nine months and when the teachers were satisfied with my rehabilitation I was released and returned home. Ever since, I have never used drugs."


Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Activist Sowore pleads not guilty to treason charges in Nigeria

Nigerian activist and former presidential candidate Omoyele Sowore pleaded not guilty at a court in Abuja on Monday to charges of treason, money laundering and harassing the president.

State Security Service agents arrested Sowore in early August after he called for a revolution after a February election which he said was not credible. He ran for president in that election, in which former military ruler President Muhammadu Buhari secured a second term in office.

Buhari has faced criticism for his administration’s human rights record, particularly a deadly crackdown on members of a now-banned Shi’ite group that a United Nations special rapporteur said involved the excessive use of lethal force. The government has rejected criticisms of its human rights record.

Sowore, who also founded Nigerian online news organization Sahara Reporters, faces seven charges including treason, money laundering and “cyberstalking” for allegedly sharing false information about Buhari that insulted him and incited hated against him.

A court last week denied a request by state security to keep Sowore in detention pending the charges, but did not release him as ordered.

Last week, another federal court in Abuja threatened the head of the State Security Service with prison for contempt of court for the failure to release him. Sowore remained in detention despite the threat.

The judge, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, adjourned the case until Oct. 4.


South Africa President to host Nigeria President after xenophobic violence

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa will host Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari for talks, weeks after xenophobic violence strained economic ties between the two nations.

Nigeria recalled its high commissioner and evacuated some of its citizens last month after a spate of attacks in South Africa left at least 12 people dead, two of them foreigners. Protests in Nigeria over the violence targeted South African companies including mobile-phone giant MTN Group Ltd. and grocer Shoprite Holdings.

Ramaphosa and Buhari will meet Oct. 3 in Pretoria, the capital, the presidency said in a statement Tuesday. They’ll discuss ways “to strengthen political, economic, social and cultural relations,” it said.

Nigeria is South Africa’s biggest trade partner in Africa, with flows estimated at $4.5 billion last year compared with $2.9 billion a decade ago, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.South Africa has seen sporadic attacks on migrants, including Nigerians and Sudanese, the worst of which occurred in 2008 when about 60 people were killed and more than 50,000 forced from their homes. Another seven people died in similar attacks in 2015.

Related story: Video - Nigerians repatriated from South Africa after attacks

Police harassing tech industry in Nigeria

 It seems in the eyes of Nigeria’s police, any young man with a laptop, smartphone and an internet connection is likely a fraudster.

Such profiling has no bearing in reality, of course. It’s simply a crude extortion tactic that has fueled a long-running racket. Here’s how it often goes: the young person is stopped on suspicion, then arrested and detained followed up being hit with bogus accusations of being an internet fraudster. In those circumstances, the options are usually paying bribes to regain freedom or facing an uncertain future decided by Nigeria’s broken criminal justice system which has left 72% of prison inmates serving time without a sentence.

Given the nature of their work, Nigerian techies are frequent targets of this scam by the police’s anti-robbery squad (SARS), a special unit which is has garnered a reputation for arbitrary arrests, torture and extra-judicial killings. But, following the recent harrowing experience of a local software engineer who arrested by SARS and asked to pay a $1,300 bribe, leaders in Nigeria’s tech industry are crowdfunding a legal effort against the unit. His story which has been retweeted over 11,000 times and infuriated the local tech industry which has long protested harassment of its workers.

Startup founders and employees across the country have contributed $30,000 to the campaign within a day of its launch. Flutterwave, a Nigerian fintech giant, has provided a payments solution for the campaign with Olugbenga Agboola, Flutterwave CEO says the company is waiving regular charges on the payments link. Other notable tech founders leading the camapign include Jason Njoku, founder of iROKOtv, Tayo Oviosu, founder of Paga and SIM Shagaya, founder of Konga

The raised funds will go to financing lawsuits as well as supporting existing initiatives against police brutality. The campaign will work with civil society groups and activists with a track record of fighting police brutality and extortion.

Bosun Tijani, co-founder of Co-Creation Hub, Nigeria’s leading tech hub, is among those leading the campaign and says harassment by SARS officers will result in increased talent drain with several local developers already opting for careers and lives abroad, away from Nigeria’s dysfunction. Tijani says despite its prevailing rhetoric of supporting the budding tech industry, the government “continues to turn a blind eye to the robbery and psychological intimidation of young tech talent.”

In truth, the profiling of young laptop-carrying Nigerians as fraudsters by the police stems from the country’s much maligned history with internet fraudsters who continue to evolve while carrying out million-dollar scams. However, in targeting young techies, the police are inadvertently hitting at a group of Nigerians who are perhaps doing the most to correct the narrative of online fraud.

So far, much of the tech industry’s efforts have been rewarded: Nigeria’s ecosystem has morphed into one of Africa’s most valuableover the past decade with tech companies founded, led and staffed by young people offering innovative solutions to several of the country’s problems across financial inclusion, agriculture and healthcare.

It’s not the first time SARS has been subject of a widespread campaign against its excesses. A 2017 #EndSARS campaign led by young Nigerians on social media resulted in the announcement of a revamp of the unit. However, as stories of sustained harassment show, very little has changed. Any sustainable reforms to Nigeria’s police will likely be slow-growing given its entrenched problems: a survey by Nigeria’s statistics bureau showed police officers were the most likely of all civil servants to solicit and collect bribes while a 2016 security index ranked Nigeria’s police force ranks as the worst globally.

By Yomi Kazeem 


10 things Nigeria does better than anywhere else

From email scams to oil spills and charlatan Pentecostal preachers, it's clear that Nigeria has something of an image problem.

While the outside world's perception of Africa's most populous country hasn't always been overwhelmingly positive, there's plenty more to this nation than its unsavory associations.

With its vibrant culture, sense of humor and adaptability, Nigeria has become the "Giant of Africa" in more ways than just population size.

In honor of Nigeria's Independence Day on October 1, here are 10 of the many reasons why the destination one in five Africans call home stands out from the rest. You may be inspired to add
Nigeria to your travel list:

Traditional weddings

In Nigeria, if you've reached your 30th birthday and are still unhitched, the elders will harass you down the aisle, which is why barely a week goes by without someone staging a traditional wedding ceremony somewhere.

Weddings are a sacred part of cultural life, but also an excuse to show off cuisine, fabulous clothing, music and dance moves in one life-affirming, chromatic bonanza.

With 250-odd ethnic groups, the ceremonies come in a variety of styles, depending on your region.
In the southwest, the groom and his friends might prostrate themselves at the start.
However, in the southeast you'll see them dancing their way into the ceremony, wearing bowler hats and clutching walking canes.

In other regions, the bride and groom's families send each other letters of proposal and acceptance before getting down to dowry negotiations.

Once the serious stuff is done, it's back to music and dancing and, best of all, the tossing of banknotes in the air to make money literally rain down on the newlyweds.

If you haven't experienced a traditional Nigerian wedding, you haven't experienced Nigeria.

Jollof rice

This mouth-watering tomato-based rice dish is a party staple.
There are many ways to cook it, involving endless permutations of meat, spices, chilli, onions and vegetables.
While it's widely accepted that Senegal invented this dish, the concept spread to West African countries.
The most notable are Ghana and Nigeria -- two nations that have vied with one another for supremacy in a never-ending battle known as the jollof wars.
Nigerians are the indisputable champions, of course, serving up "advanced level" jollof that our Ghanaian rivals can only watch and admire.
Oya, come chop!

Eating chicken to the bone

While we're still on the subject of food, Nigerians are champions at eating chicken to the bone and beyond.
It's not enough to simply eat the flesh. We break the bone, suck out the marrow and pulverize the remainder until there's almost nothing left.
If your chicken thigh is still forensically identifiable at the end of the meal then you haven't done it right. Abeg, finish am!

Nollywood films

Only Hollywood and India's Bollywood make more movies than Nigeria.
Known as Nollywood, our film industry is big business -- so big it contributes 5% to national GDP.
With average flicks churned out in under a two weeks, Nollywood films are famous for their poor (albeit improving) production values.

But what they lack in sophistication they make up for in story lines that are an entertaining window on Nigerian moral values and byzantine social dynamics.

Narratives exploring servant-master relationships, the supernatural, corruption and infidelity are delivered with lashings of shouty, eye-bulging overacting.

The movies draw a big audience in the rest of Africa, where viewers from more reserved societies can revel vicariously in Nigeria's outlandishness and even pick up some of our slang.
Nigerian soft power has never been greater.

Durbar royal horse parade

The annual Durbar festival is the cultural highlight of Nigeria's Islamic north.
This visual extravaganza is celebrated by thousands of peoples, mainly from the Hausa-Fulani ethnic groups, in multiple cities at the end of Ramadan.

Followed by a parade that takes place in the city of Kano at the Emir's Palace, it's become a longstanding tourist attraction.

The Emir's sons, noblemen and regiments show their loyalty by trooping past on horses, accompanied by musicians.

Each royal household has its own unique costume, made up of billowing robes and turbans that glitter in every color under the sun.

Wearing black leather gloves, the princes raise a "power" fist as they bounce past the Emir.
Being polygamous, the Emirs have literally dozens of sons and every one of them takes part, from the middle-aged to the toddlers. Counting them all is part of the fun.


For all its political and economic troubles, Nigerians are somehow still among the most optimistic and happy people on the planet.

Opportunity doesn't come knocking -- we chase it, with the help of God, who we all know is on our side.

The Lord may have rested on the seventh day of Earth's creation, but that's the last day off he's enjoyed ever since.

Nigerians call upon Him 24/7, praying and pumping fists and demanding His favors.
Evidence of our optimistic spirit lies everywhere: It's in the billboards that promise "a divine upgrade", or our hustling entrepreneurial spirit, or the crumbling roadside shacks grandly named "Victory Plaza." There's no room for despair when we see ourselves as "temporarily embarrassed millionaires" (to quote Steinbeck) on the expressway to heaven.

So next time a Nigerian tells you "I will become the greatest by force!" understand that they're not bragging -- they're just speaking their dreams into existence.

Proverbial sense

Nigerians love a good proverb and we never stop inventing new ones.

Some aphorisms are blunt and to-the-point. Others can be a little cryptic, so you sometimes need a high level of "proverbial sense" to understand what they're getting at:

"Monkey no fine but im mama no like am [The monkey might be ugly but his mother loves him]."

"If you can't dance well, you'd better not get up."

"The man being carried does not realize how far away the town really is."

"The quarrel that doesn't concern you is pleasant to hear about."

"The whip hits at the legs, not the guilt."

"Until lions have their historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunters."

"The one-eyed man does not thank God until he sees a blind man."

"Rat wey get only one hole, they quick die [A rat with just one hole will soon die]."

"After God, fear woman."

"No license for nonsense [behave yourself]."

"No business, no wife."

"Keke [motorized tricycle] today, private jet tomorrow!"


Masquerades are a huge aspect of Nigerian culture.

These masked costumed figures are considered to embody the spirits, and serve as a fundamental part of Nigerian pre-colonial religious tradition.

Nowadays they double up as entertainment and appear during weddings and festivals, particularly at Christmas time.

Nigeria has over 250 ethnic groups, each with its own masquerade. The masks and costumes are visually striking.

They can be made from a variety of materials such as grass, animal horns and teeth, and the young men who wear them sometimes cover their limbs in black palm oil to mesmerizing and scary effect.

The masquerades travel through the villages, performing dances, acrobatics and reciting incantations.
Chasing terrified villagers with bows and arrows or whips is also part of the tradition, so get ready to move your feet.

Bronze sculptures

The famous Benin Bronzes are a collection of plaques and sculptures that once decorated the royal palace of the Kingdom of Benin.

Dating back to the 13th century, these exquisite artworks include bas-relief images of dignitaries or warriors.

They were influenced by the Ife civilization nearby, which produced life-sized bronze heads of the Ooni (king) and his queens.

When Europeans first saw the Hellenic-style realism of the Ife sculptures they were "shocked" that Africans could produce such beauty and sophistication.

The British liked the Benin bronzes so much they stole them during punitive raids in 1897 and have kept hold of them to this day.

Some of the best specimens are displayed at the British Museum in London, the Louvre in Paris and Berlin's Ethnological Museum.

Making the best of 'go slows' (traffic jams)

Traffic jams -- known as go slows -- are a daily part of life on Nigeria's roads, but although they may delay your journey they needn't stop you from completing your day's shopping from the comfort of your vehicle. Need some socks? Street vendors can sort you out.

They'll also sell handkerchiefs, belts, books, newspapers, fruit, vegetables, chocolates, electrical appliances and even oil paintings -- if that's what you're after.

Simply roll down your window and call for their attention.

By Noo Saro-Wiwa