Friday, December 27, 2019

Islamic State in Nigeria 'beheads Christian hostages'

The Islamic State group has released a video claiming to show the killing of 11 Christians in Nigeria.

IS said it was part of its recently declared campaign to "avenge" the October deaths of its leader and spokesman in Syria.

No details were given about the victims, who were all male, but IS says they were "captured in the past weeks" in Nigeria's north-eastern Borno State.

The 56-second video was produced by IS's "news agency" Amaq.

It was released on 26 December and analysts say it was clearly timed to coincide with Christmas celebrations.

The footage was filmed in an unidentified outdoor area.

One captive in the middle is shot dead while the other 10 are pushed to the ground and beheaded.

IS's late leader and spokesman Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Abul-Hasan Al-Muhajir were killed in Syria in late October. Nearly two months later, on 22 December, IS declared a new militant campaign to "avenge" their deaths and has since claimed a flurry of attacks in various countries under the banner of that campaign.

One faction of Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram now fights under the banner of "Islamic State West Africa Province" (Iswap).

Last year, Iswap killed two midwives it had previously taken hostage.


Monday, December 23, 2019

Kanu to build cardiovascular hospital in Nigeria

Super Eagles’ former captain, Kanu Nwankwo has revealed that his foundation would soon build a cardiovascular hospital in Nigeria to offer adequate medical attention and treatment to heart patients.

The former Arsenal star, who is the founder of Kanu Heart Foundation, made the disclosure when he led officials of the Foundation to celebrate Christmas with heart patients at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Owerri, yesterday.

He also disclosed that the foundation has saved 565 indigent children following successful open heart surgeries in the last 20 years, adding that about 200 children with cardiovascular ailments were currently on the waiting list of the foundation for surgeries in order to save their lives.

“The Kanu Heart Foundation was established in 2000 and we have done 565 open heart surgeries since the foundation came on board. These are mainly the less privileged children.

“What this means is that Kanu Heart Foundation has saved the lives of 565 less privileged children. And we have 200 patients on the waiting list.

“Since three years, we have been going to hospitals to celebrate Christmas with patients across the country. We decided to do this year’s own in the South East with Abia and Imo the main targets.

“We want to let the patients know that it is not only the healthy that celebrate Christmas. Our major target is to give them hope while promising them what we can do for them in the future by helping them out from their current situation,” he said.

Kanu lamented that heart problems were on the increase in the country because most sufferers know little or nothing about the symptoms, as well as lack of affordable health care services in the country.

“From our findings, the case of heart diseases has been on the rising stage. Unfortunately, most people don’t even know the symptoms of heart problems. Whenever they have such cases, they go for malaria and typhoid treatment. That’s what is fuelling heart problems and sudden deaths.

“But now, I think the awareness is coming slowly and the number of patients is increasing. That’s why we have about 200 persons on the waiting list. As I’m talking to you, we get about 40 calls talking about heart problems”, he said.

On the cost implication of the foundation’s humanitarian activities, the ex-Eagles captain said, “If we look at the cost we have to bear, I think it may be difficult for us to achieve what we have achieved so far. The fare for taking a patient out of the country for surgery is about $15,000. This is not including accommodation, food and the cost of the surgery itself, as well as the drugs that will go with it.

“That’s why we’re working hard to build a hospital here in Nigeria. With a heart hospital here, more patients will be attended to. And the cost of taking care of one case in Europe will take care of four persons here”.

He continued, “The foundation has no foreign partners. However, we have a hospital in India and one in Sudan that receive some patients and cut operational cost for us.

“In Nigerian hospitals, we have to pay for everything. Some of them even send us some patients to take of.”

The Guardian

Friday, December 20, 2019

Video - Young Nigerian mechanic gives vintage cars a new look

Speaking of cars, if you're a fan of old, old vehicles, this story is one you'll take to heart. A young Nigerian mechanic is making waves in the country's commercial capital of Lagos, by giving vintage cars a complete make over.

Video - Nigerian Alternative health practitioner trying to mainstream practice

In Nigeria, traditional or alternative medicine has been used for centuries to cure illnesses. But its not considered standard medical practice. In the capital, Abuja, one practitioner who works with herbs is trying to build acceptance for traditional medicine.

Ex-Attorney General of Nigeria arrested over $1.3 billion oil deal

Nigeria's former attorney general was detained by the country's financial crimes agency upon his return home on Thursday, the commission said in a statement, as part of an investigation into one of the oil industry's biggest suspected corruption scandals.

Mohammed Adoke was arrested by Interpol in November after travelling to Dubai for a medical appointment. He voluntarily flew back to the West African country on Thursday, his lawyer said.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) investigation relates to the $1.3 billion (£999.54 million) sale of a Nigerian offshore oilfield known as OPL 245 by Malabu Oil and Gas in 2011.

Eni SpA and Royal Dutch Shell Plc jointly acquired the field from Malabu, which was owned by former petroleum minister Dan Etete.

The sale of the oil field has spawned legal cases across several countries, involving Nigerian government officials and senior executives from Eni and Royal Dutch Shell.

Shell and Eni, and their executives, have denied any wrongdoing. Etete has also denied wrongdoing.

"His return to Nigeria clears the way for him to answer to the charges against him," the EFCC said in a statement, following Adoke's return to Nigeria.

Adoke's lawyer, Mike Ozekhome, said the former attorney general was released by Interpol and Dubai authorities after "finding nothing criminal against him."

"Our client remains very confident that he will be vindicated in the court of law and justice at the end of the day, after a free and fair trial," Ozekhome said in a written statement.

Adoke served as attorney general from 2010 to 2015.

Ozekhome previously said his client had appeared in court in Nigeria in the past over the OPL 245 case and was exonerated.

The New York Times

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Video - Parliament pressing Nigeria government to place unemployed on allowance

The Nigerian senate has called for a state of emergency on unemployment in the country. With over 23% unemployed Nigerians and less functional industries to create jobs, parliament is pressing government to place all unemployed Nigerian youths on an allowance.

John Boyega dons traditional Nigeria attire at Rise of Skywalker premiere

John Boyega attended the European premiere of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker wearing traditional Nigerian attire.

On Wednesday evening, the actor, who portrays Stormtrooper-turned-rebel Finn in the intergalactic film series, joined his co-stars in London for the premiere of the saga’s latest instalment.

The 27-year-old, who was born in the capital to British-Nigerian parents, graced the blue carpet wearing a blue Agbada, a wide-sleeved robe traditionally worn by men in West Africa, particularly in Nigeria.

Boyega completed his look by wearing a Fila, a traditional Yoruba cap frequently paired with an Agbada.

He was joined at the star-studded event by members of his family, who were dressed in matching garments.

Several social media users expressed their admiration for Boyega’s sartorial choice, praising him for paying homage to his African heritage.

“He looks ‘out of this world’,” one person commented.

"For a Nigerian kid raised on Star Wars, this means everything to me. Representation matters. Thank you," someone else wrote.

Boyega shared a post on Instagram about the London premiere, saying he “had an amazing time”.

“Last leg of the tour! Couldn’t be more grateful for such an amazing opportunity,” he wrote in the caption.

The world premiere for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was held in Hollywood, California on Monday evening.


Related story: British Nigerian John Boyega and Star Wars lead actor talks about growing up in England

Environment minister says Nigeria needs to 'be ready' for oil decline

Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil-producing country, understands it will have little choice but to wean its economy off a reliance on fossil fuels as the world inches onto a low-carbon path, its environment minister said.

Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar said he did not see a long-term future for Nigeria’s oil industry if governments follow through on their promise under the 2015 Paris Agreement to cut planet-warming emissions to net-zero by the second half of the century.

“These days, anything to do with fossil fuel... may have its days numbered, or years numbered,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation at this month’s U.N. climate talks in Madrid.

Abubakar said Nigeria should use the royalties and export earnings it receives from oil - which account for about half of its revenues - to invest in alternative sources of energy, in order to “be ready” for a global transition to cleaner energy.

“If the world is truly willing... to quit fossil fuel, then if you are not ready and finally the world comes to terms with that and there are alternatives and no one is buying enough oil from you, at that point you are in trouble,” he said.

Africa’s most populous nation has started to diversify into renewable power generated from solar, wind and waste and is moving its universities onto solar power systems, he added.

It is also making efforts to end gas flaring from oil-industry operations on its soil by 2030, as part of its national climate action plan submitted to the United Nations.

Burning off the gas is a waste of energy and a major source of planet-warming emissions, and Nigeria is procuring technology to capture the gas instead to produce power or heat water, said the minister, a biologist and environmental protection expert.

The West African nation’s climate action plan also pledges to improve its energy grid and expand the use of efficient gas power plants, in an effort to cut widespread use of polluting diesel generators.

Nigeria has an overall target of cutting its emissions by 45% by 2030 from 2010-2014 levels, conditional on receiving international support to achieve that.

Like many other emerging economies, it is seeking funding from wealthy governments to pursue low-carbon development and adapt to climate change impacts such as creeping desertification in the north and rising sea levels affecting its coastal areas.

Abubakar said finance was “very critical” for Nigeria and called for processes to gain access to it - which many countries struggle with - to be “made easy”.


Nigeria faces what the minister called significant “climate disruption”, such as the shrinking of Lake Chad to less than a tenth of its size in 1960, depriving local fishermen and farmers of their livelihoods and forcing them to leave their homes.

The lake’s deterioration was one reason Islamist insurgent group Boko Haram had flourished in the region, he added.

“I am sure their recruiters used that opportunity to prey on young people - and even the old ones, because there are no jobs... they are sitting ducks for extremist organizations,” he said.

Deforestation is another issue Nigeria needs to tackle, he noted, as rural communities continue to use wood as their main fuel for heat and cooking, making climate change impacts worse as rainfall-stabilizing and carbon-absorbing trees disappear.

At the same time, Nigeria faces a huge task to repair the environmental damage caused by oil extraction in the Niger Delta, which has contaminated water supplies and soils as a result of spills.

International oil companies have recognized their role in causing that pollution, and agreed to provide about $1 billion to restore the affected areas, Abubakar said.

He recently visited some of the roughly 20 sites where clean-ups are underway so far and met with the companies and United Nations officials in Geneva to review progress. More effort was still required, he added.

Businesses that exploit fossil fuels, gold, diamonds or other resources in Africa should be held accountable if those activities harm local communities, the minister said.

“Wherever there is oil or mining or whatever it is, let them pay for the clean-up but also for the restoration of livelihoods of the people that are being displaced there,” he added.


Nigerians raise alarm over controversial Social Media Bill

Tens of thousands of Nigerians have banded together online to call for the scrapping of a bill which, they say, threatens to roll back internet freedoms in the country.

The proposed legislation - officially named the Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulation Bill 2019 - would allow Nigeria's government to cut off internet access or block specific social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter at its own discretion.

"The law enforcement department may direct the NCC [Nigerian Communications Commission] to order the Internet access service provider to disable access by users in Nigeria to the online location and the NCC must give the Internet access service provider access blocking order," it says.

Otherwise known as the Social Media Bill, the proposed act also contains provisions prohibiting statements online deemed "likely to be prejudicial to national security" and "those which may diminish public confidence" in Nigeria's government - offences that would be punishable by fines of up to 300,000 Naira ($825) or imprisonment for up to three years.

Legislators backing the bill, which is advancing through Nigeria's Parliament, claim it will enhance security, peace and unity in Africa's most populous country by curbing the spread of "false statements".

But critics argue it could gag free speech, with many now speaking out via the very platforms they say are at risk of being curtailed.

More than 85,000 people have signed an online petition demanding the bill be done away with. The bill's "aim is to curb our use of social media with the reasoning that the Senate wants to curb the spreading of false information when in reality they want to limit our freedom of speech and our right to criticise them", the petition says.

A campaign on Twitter saw the #SayNoToSocialMediaBill hashtag top the platform's trending charts in Nigeria recently.

"The Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulation Bill ... is a backdoor approach to silence critical voices in Nigeria," said Adeboye Adegoke, a digital rights advocate and programme manager at the Nigeria-based social enterprise Paradigm Initiative.

"[It is a] dangerous path to tread ... [and] will serve to provide a legitimate justification for many illegitimate things that the Nigerian government already do," he told Al Jazeera.
Legislative progress

Despite the opposition, the legislation has continued its passage through Nigeria's legislature, passing a second reading and subsequent vote in the Senate in late November.

It has since been moved to the Senate's Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters for a period of further consideration which could last up to four weeks.

Senator Godiya Akwashiki, a spokesman for the Nigerian Senate, said the open discussions would allow for citizens' concerns over the effect of the bill to be aired.

"Nigerians still have a say over the bill during the public hearing," Akwashiki told Al Jazeera. "[It] is an opportunity for the general public to express their views, in order [for them] to be captured in the bill."

A spokesman for President Muhammadu Buhari meanwhile told Al Jazeera on condition of anonymity that the government had "not made a position" yet on the act, which was introduced by legislators and has not been sponsored by the administration.

Rights groups Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have raised the alarm over the bill's possible effect on public discourse in a country with an estimated 113 million internet users, 30 million of whom are active on social media.

"Social media is one of the last remaining places where Nigerians can express their opinions freely," Seun Bakare, programmes manager for Amnesty's Nigeria branch, said in a statement on December 4.

"The harassment of journalists and bloggers and the introduction of the Cyber Crimes Act have already shrunk the civic space and created a climate of fear," Bakare added, citing a 2015 piece of legislation that criminalised a broad range of online activity.
'Problematic for many reasons'

Other critics have meanwhile argued the legislation would not only prove restrictive, but also ineffective.

Berhan Taye, a senior policy analyst at global internet advocacy organisation Access Now and leader of the group's #KeepItOn campaign in Africa, said the bill was "extremely problematic for many reasons".

According to Taye, the provisions allowing for internet access to be cut off would not solve more fundamental problems about the veracity of content being shared online - a major talking point in Nigeria's latest presidential election in February.

"An internet shutdown does not solve the problems of disinformation and misinformation," Taye told Al Jazeera, adding that "fake news is a global problem".

Any such move could also have major ramifications for Nigeria's economy, with a 24-hour blackout projected to cost $134m, according to the Cost of Shutdown Tool developed by non-profit organisation The Internet Society and Netblocks, a non-governmental internet governance observatory.

However, supporters of the Social Media Bill have cast aside such concerns, arguing it can be applied effectively and deliver transformative security benefits.

Senator Muhammad Sani Musa, a member of Buhari's political party and a co-sponsor of the legislation, said it would help stop the spread of fake news in Nigeria and hence curtail groups seeking to undermine the country's cohesion.

"Individuals and groups influenced by ideologies and deep-seated prejudices in different countries are using internet falsehood to surreptitiously promote their causes, as we have seen in Nigeria with the insurgency of Boko Haram," Musa said while defending the bill in November.

By Timileyin Omilana

Al Jazeera

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Video - Nigeria's State oil firm hits $14 million trading surplus in August

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation has announced a trading surplus of about $14M for the month of August this year. This reflects a 22% increase in revenue, compared to roughly $12M recorded in July.

Nigerian Prince sentenced to death for killing former boss

A Nigerian prince has been sentenced to death by hanging for strangling a politician to death so he could steal her business.

Prince Adewale Oyekan, 50, son of the late Adeyinka Oyekan II, the 23rd Oba of Lagos, murdered businesswoman and politician Alhaja Sikirat Ekun in 2012.

The prince, who managed Ms Ekun's restaurant in the Nigerian capital, recruited her former servant Lateef Balogun, 27, paying him £12.59 to conspire with him.

The pair strangled the 62-year-old before dumping her body down a 1,000ft well at her home and covered it with a generator and gas cylinder, local media reported.

After her murder they took over her businesses and property, including a bus which was flogged for £360.

Balogun had been employed by Ms Ekun to care for her elderly father but had been sacked following a dispute.

The prince had returned to Nigeria in 2003 following the death of his father, who reigned from 1965 until his death as the ceremonial sovereign of Lagos.

The Oba, a pacifist and peacemaker throughout his reign, was a qualified pharmacist and had served in the Third Field Ambulance 81st West Africa Division in Burma during WWII.

The prince had been studying architecture in the States when his father died. His mother had been living in the US until her death in 2001.

The court heard that Ms Ekun had helped the prince on his return, offering him a job at the restaurant and allowing him to stay at her home.

On October 17, 2012, the prince and his accomplice Balogun strangled Ms Ekun at her home in the Ojodu neighbourhood, on the outskirts of Lagos.

When her family inquired as to her whereabouts the high court heard that the prince sent them a text message claiming Ms Ekun had travelled to Abuja for a religious festival.

Two months later an extensive search of her home by well diggers and firefighters uncovered her corpse.

Their trial began at the Ikeja High Court in April 2015. Both men denied knowing each other, claiming they had first met at the police station.

Prince Adewale told the court that he had met Ms Ekun at a People's Democratic Party rally after returning from his architecture studies in the United States.

Before sentence was passed on Monday, the murderers' defence counsel Mr O. C. Onwumerie declined to plead for clemency.

'I will be leaving sentencing to the hands of the court,' the lawyer said.

Justice Raliatu Adebiyi, during the two-hour hearing, said: 'The circumstantial evidence was strong and cogent; the act of the defendants in killing the deceased was intentional and premeditated.

'The court finds that the prosecution has proved beyond reasonable doubt the offences of conspiracy and murder and are accordingly found guilty of the two-count charge.'

She outlined that the sentence for murder was death, telling the court: 'The first and second defendants are hereby sentenced on each of counts one and two, to death by hanging. May God, the giver of life, have mercy on your souls.'

Daily Mail

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Netflix debuts Nigeria’s ‘Crazy, Lovely, Cool’ TV sitcom

The popular streaming platform, Netflix has acquired a Nigerian TV drama series titled “Crazy, Lovely, Cool” (CLC), adding to its expanding roster of Nollywood content.

The series is a joint production between The Nollywood Factory, owned by award-winning director Obi Emelonye and Trace TV.

The film was shot in 2017 inside the picturesque campus of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State, Nigeria. It explores the interesting activities of university undergraduates and their lecturers in a typical Nigerian university.

The dynamic hour-long drama series is filled with many familiar faces like Adesua Etomi-Wellington, Uru Eke, Zynell Zuh, Anthony Monjaro, and Enyinna Nwigwe.

With over two decades of experience in filmmaking, Emelonye is renowned for telling Nigerian stories with a universal appeal. He has his imprint on some of Nollywood’s most successful productions, including the much-awaited biopic, ‘Badamasi: Portrait of a General’ which tells the story of General Ibrahim Babangida.


Nigeria university lecturer sacked over sexual harassment

The University of Abuja in the Nigerian capital has dismissed one of its lecturers over sexual harassment.

A female student had alleged that the lecturer, a professor, had demanded sex in exchange for marks.

The university said it had acted after reviewing the report of a panel set up to investigate the allegations.

In October, the BBC's Africa Eye investigative programme exposed sexual misconduct by lecturers at two top West African universities.

The revelations in the "Sex for grades" documentary led to the suspension of some lecturers at both the University of Lagos in Nigeria and the University of Ghana.

A separate BBC Africa Eye investigation in December uncovered an illegal network that lured women to India from Africa, where they were then forced into sex work to satisfy the demands of the many African men living in Delhi.


Monday, December 16, 2019

Video - Conversation with chief Nike Okundaye Africa’s queen of textile

African artists who have made it big on the global stage are few and far between. Among them is Chief Nike Davies Okundaye; a Nigerian professional textile artist and painter. At 68 years of age, Chief Nike as she’s fondly referred to, is an icon in her own right. With a career spanning 5 decades, the textile queen’s art pieces grace some of the most prestigious art galleries in the world and her fabrics are celebrated as contemporary jewels of traditional African art. Today, Chief Nike is on another mission: To pass on generations of knowledge and skill to the future custodians of Nigerian cultural heritage. I sat down with Chief Nike at the Nike Art Gallery in Lagos to explore her unrivalled passion for art, her mastery in the business of textiles and the Chief’s quest for cultural preservation in Africa.

Kamaru Usman breaks Covington as he retains UFC welterweight title

Nigerian-American mixed martial artist Kamaru Usman retained his UFC welterweight title in Las Vegas after a hard-fought win against US challenger Colby Covington on Sunday, December 15, knocking him out in the final stages of the fifth round.

The Nigerian, 32, broke Covington’s jaw with a huge punch in the third round.

But it wasn’t an easy victory for Usman as he and his challenger engaged in an all-out war for nearly five full rounds before the Nigerian Nightmare finished off his opponent in style.

After an early exchange of blows and kicks, the fight took a turn in favour of the champion in the third round after catching Covington with a strong blow that broke his jaw.

But the challenger relentlessly continued to fight on and looked like he could secure a win based on the judges’ decision. Covington before the fight had received a video message from the Trump family as they urged him to win the belt.

However, Usman had other plans as he dropped Covington twice in the final minute, then finished the fight with hammer fists on the mat.

He was cheered on by fellow Nigerian UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya as they both celebrated his victory together.

The victory means Usman has successfully defended his welterweight title for the first time in his career.

He won the title in Las Vegas when he defeated defending champion Tyron Woodley after five rounds to become the new champion.

Adeolu Johnson

New Telegraph

Friday, December 13, 2019

Nigeria is trying 47 men arrested in a hotel under its anti-gay laws

Forty-seven men accused of homosexuality are standing trial in a Nigerian court, their lawyer and a rights group told CNN.

The men, who say they are innocent of the charges, appeared in court on Thursday. They are among the group of 57 men arrested by the police in a raid on a hotel in Lagos in 2018.

Xeenarh Mohammed, executive director of The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIERS) in Lagos, the nongovernmental organization representing the defendants, said they were at a birthday party when police invaded the establishment and rounded up guests.

"The taxi driver that was delivering a cake to the birthday party was detained. A man that was looking to book a room at the hotel was also arrested. Each one of them has a unique story to tell about that day," Mohammed told CNN.

The Nigeria Police Force, also the prosecutors, have now charged the men with "public show of same sex amorous relationship with each other in hidden places" and claim the event was a gay initiation party. Mohammed said the police also paraded them on television which she said had made them the subject of homophobic attacks after they were released last year.

"Many of them were disowned by their families after they saw them on TV. A dry cleaner among them lost clients that feared he could introduce their kids to homosexual acts," Mohammed said.
Nigeria police spokesman Frank Mba told CNN he needed to gather more information on the case before giving a response.

Anti-gay sentiments
Nigeria's anti-LGBT laws punishes same-sex relationships or associations with a maximum of a 14-year jail term.

In northern states, where Sharia Laws or Islamic laws, are enforced, individuals convicted of homosexual offenses could get the death sentence, according to Human Rights Watch.

Last year, a high-ranking police officer issued a warning to gay people living in the country to leave or risk prosecution.

"If you're homosexually inclined, Nigeria is not a place for you," Chief Superintendent Dolapo Badmos wrote in a now-deleted post on her Instagram page.

Mohammed said authorities have often used the law to intimidate the LGBT community and people of different sexual orientation.

"We are handling cases of people who were arrested because they had a certain hairstyle or dressed in a way perceived to be gay, being forced to pay bribes because they are threatened with 14 years in jail if they don't pay up," Mohammad said.

The case involving the 47 men has been postponed until February.

By Bukola Adebayo


Related stories: 47 Nigerian men plead not guilty to homosexuality charge

Bill banning gay marriage approved in Nigeria

Hunting down gays in Nigeria

Video - Nigeria's anti-gay law denounced

Thursday, December 12, 2019

President Buhari promises Africans visas on arrival

Nigeria says it will give all African travellers visas on arrival from January, dropping the requirement that they apply in advance.

President Muhammadu Buhari said it showed Nigeria's commitment to "free movement of Africans within Africa".

The announcement comes five months after Nigeria signed a deal aimed at promoting free trade on the continent.

But Mr Buhari's critics accuse him of being a protectionist, undermining the vision of pan-African unity.

He has kept Nigeria's land borders with all its neighbours closed since August, making it impossible for businesses to do cross-border trade by road.

Mr Buhari has rejected pressure to lift the blockade, saying it was aimed at ending the smuggling of goods into Nigeria and to make the nation self-sufficient, especially in the production of food.

The borders were shut despite the fact that Nigeria is part of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), a 15-nation regional bloc which allows visa-free travel among its estimated 350 million citizens.

Mr Buhari gave no indication of when the blockade will be lifted when he announced the government's latest policy on visas for African passport-holders.

Nigeria is seen as an African superpower, with the biggest economy and population.

So what will change?

Currently, applicants for visa to Nigeria often need to make a request in their country of origin, and it will be issued when they arrive in the West African state, BBC Nigeria correspondent Mayeni Jones says.

This would change in the New Year, when citizens of all African states would be able to board a plane to Nigeria and get a visa on arrival, she adds.

What are other African countries doing?

Research released by the African Development Bank (ADB) last month shows that Africans need visas to travel to just under half (49%) of other African countries. They could get visas on arrival in just over a quarter (26%) of states and did not need visas in a quarter (25%) of countries.

This is a slight improvement from 2018, when the figures stood at 51%, 24% and 25% respectively.

Out of Africa's 54 countries, the five with the best "visa openness" policies were Seychelles, Benin, Senegal, Rwanda and Ghana.

The five worst countries in 2019 were Equatorial Guinea, Libya, Sudan, Eritrea and South Sudan.

Ethiopia was also listed as one of the worst performers in 2018, but it has since announced a visa-on-arrival policy for Africans, dropping the requirement that they get one in advance.

Nigeria was ranked at number 30, one down from 2018. It fared better than Africa's other economic powerhouse, South Africa, which received a score of 36 in 2019, compared with 34 in the previous year.

Kenya - the biggest economy in East Africa - was ranked at number 13, down from the nine ranking it got in 2018.

The African Union (AU) is pushing for a single passport for all African nationals so that they can travel across the continent without requiring visas.

It unveiled an AU passport in 2016, issuing it to heads of state and diplomats. However, no country has as yet given it to ordinary citizens.

Is there pressure to make travel easier?

Yes. Last year, Africa's richest man, Aliko Dangote, complained that he needed 38 visas to travel within the continent on his Nigerian passport.

Many European nationals, meanwhile, can enter most Africans countries visa-free.

In fact, African nations agreed at a meeting of the AU in 2013 to scrap visa requirements for all African citizens by 2018.

The fact that this has not yet happened signals the extent to which African states are affected by political and economic rivalries - or the fear that their countries would attract many migrants who would take jobs from locals.

South Africa, for instance, plans to create a new Border Management Authority in 2020 in a bid to curb the entry of undocumented migrants - a pledge the governing African National Congress (ANC) made to voters in the general election earlier this year, amid a spate of attacks on nationals of other African countries.

And the Rwanda-Uganda border has been shut since March after Rwanda's President Paul Kagame accused his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni of trying to destabilise his government.

Mr Museveni denied the allegation and various diplomatic efforts to reo-open the border have failed, just as efforts to get Nigeria to reopen its border with its neighbours have not succeeded.

This is despite the fact that all the countries are signatories to the African Continental Free Trade Area, an AU plan adopted in 2018 to turn Africa into the world's largest free trade area.


Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Anthony Joshua considering Nigeria as future bout venue

Anthony Joshua has expressed his desire to defend his heavyweight titles in Nigeria after reclaiming his world champion status in his rematch against Andy Ruiz Jr.

Since his victory over Ruiz, offers have flooded in for the Briton to stage future fights in numerous locations across the globe. Africa is amongst those to show interest in hosting Joshua, and the 30-year-old is keen to connect with his roots in Nigeria.

A fight in his parents’ home country would be the first world championship heavyweight fight outside of South Africa since Muhammad Ali and George Foreman participated in the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ in Zaire.

“People were telling me I should go back [to Nigeria] for ages,” Joshua told reporters. “It was crazy because they don’t have 24-hour electricity but they still know me and support me.”

AJ told Pulse FM earlier in the year that he is “massively into Nigerian culture” which showed as he opted for the song ‘Water Get No Enemy’ by Nigerian legend Fela Kuti during his ring-walk on Saturday.

The comments should come with a pinch of salt, however. A day after his latest win Joshua was singing the praises of London and its fanbase, with Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium mooted as a potential destination.

A return to London will likely be the next location for a match, but a visit to Nigeria to defend his titles is a firm ambition for Joshua.

“I went to the ghettos of the ghettos where it’s not all about egos and beef, it’s about people who are hungry to survive,” he reflected on his visit across the Mediterranean. “It was one of the best things I’ve done. Africa’s rooting for me for sure, so I would definitely love to fight out there.”

Joshua has two upcoming boxing commitments for 2020 – an International Boxing Federation (IBF) clash against Kubrat Pulev and a later World Boxing Organisation (WBO) fight which is likely to be against Oleksandr Usyk.

After working hard to snatch his titles back from Mexican underdog Ruiz, Joshua will need to defend his status from the Bulgarian and Ukrainian heavyweights.

“The plan is to maintain the belts, so we will have to have conversations this week with the IBF and the WBO to see who goes first,” AJ’s promoter Eddie Hearn told The Telegraph.

“It’s our understanding that the IBF mandatory comes first, which is Pulev, so realistically it is Pulev and then Usyk in that order, with Dereck Chisora fighting Usyk in February or March and then AJ fighting the winner.”

Joshua added: “I can’t get too caught up in the moment and have to stay focused on the task at hand, which is not staying undefeated any more, but staying champion for as long as possible.”

Yahoo Sports

Nigerian students wrongly deported to Bosnia plead to be sent home

 Two Nigerian student table tennis players are begging authorities in Sarajevo to return them to their home country after they were wrongly deported to Bosnia by Croatian police, who mistook them for undocumented migrants.

In an interview with the Guardian, Abia Uchenna Alexandro and Eboh Kenneth Chinedu said they were victims of injustice and that the only reason they were forcibly taken to Bosnia is that they are black.

“We hold the truth and we have evidence of it,” said Chinedu via telephone from an immigration centre in east Sarajevo where the pair are detained. Uchenna and Chinedu, students at the Federal University of Technology Owerri in Nigeria, arrived in Croatia with a regular visa on 12 November, on their way to participate in the fifth World InterUniversities Championships, held this year in Pula.

The pair, both 18, left Pula for the Croatian capital, Zagreb, after the tournament and were supposed to fly to Lagos on 18 November. “The night before our departure, on the 17th, we checked out from the hostel and went for a walk in Zagreb,” said Chinedu. “Suddenly … we were stopped by the police who asked us for our identification documents. We tried to explain that our passports were in the hostel and that we had a regular visa, but they paid no attention to what we were saying.”

The officers allegedly mistook them for undocumented immigrants, put them in a van and transferred them to the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina where, that day, Croatian authorities had gathered together a group of migrants who were intercepted as they were attempting to cross the country.

“There were men from Pakistan at the border,” said Chinedu. “They had been caught by the Croatians while attempting to cross the border from Bosnia. Police eventually ordered us to move through the woods. I refused and begged them one more time to check our status, but they wouldn’t listen. They kicked me in the back and told me they would shoot me if I didn’t move.”

Uchenna and Chinedu were eventually deported to Bosnia and ended up in a camp in Velika Kladuša, where thousands of migrants live in cramped tents without water or heating, and with temperatures as low as -2C.

The plight of the two students has made the news around the world and sparked a row between Croatia and Bosnia. Last weekend they were transferred to an immigration centre in east Sarajevo.

“Those people are victims of illegal acts on the Croatian side,” Dragan Mektić, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s minister of security, told al-Jazeera. “It is obvious that Croatian police forcibly displaced them.”

Police in Croatia denied any wrongdoing and raised doubts over the table tennis players’ intentions, suggesting they were lying. According to the police, another Nigerian who participated in the championship had attempted to cross the border with Slovenia from Croatia a few days before.

“Police officers have already witnessed cases of individuals who make an attempt, even abusing their participation in sports competitions in Croatia, to remain in the country or continue their journey illegally to other European countries,” Croatian police said.

“This is not true,” said Chinedu. “We were legal in Croatia. And our visa was valid until the 3 December. If we wanted to seek asylum, we could have asked for it because we had visas.”

The interior ministry in Zagreb said the men were stopped by police on 18 November, the day they were due to depart, and not the day before as the Nigerians claimed. However, the police’s version of events does not explain why the officers sent the students to Bosnia, knowing they had entered the country on a flight to Zagreb and not from Bosnia and knowing that they had a valid visa until 3 December.

In the meantime, authorities in Sarajevo are working on the case. The presence of the Nigerians in Bosnia – even if instigated by Croatian police – is technically illegal, given that their visa was valid only in Croatia, and which has now has expired.

“The case of two students from Nigeria is being handled by the ministry of security of Bosnia and Herzegovina as it is an internal issue involving illegal entrance to Bosnia and Herzegovina,” the minister counsellor for the foreign affairs of Bosnia wrote in an email to the Guardian.

Dragan Mektić said: “Respecting legal procedures, we now have to take them back to Croatia. It is obvious that they have Croatian visas, that they are in Bosnia-Herzegovina illegally.”

The Nigerians said they were willing to go back to Croatia, but only on one condition: “If they take us back to Croatia, we want to have UN escorts with us. We will not go to Croatia without a UN representative. We are scared of the Croatian police after what they did to us.”

“We want to go back to Nigeria,” said Chinedu. “Please, help us, send us home immediately.”

The Guardian

Related story: Croatia 'wrongly deports' two Nigerian table tennis players to Bosnia

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Video - Nigerian mothers juggle caring for kids with full time jobs

Nursing mothers in Nigeria are having a hard time caring for their kids and running their full time jobs. While some have a good family support system to help them with childcare, others oftentimes have to rely on daycare centres. CGTN's Kelechi Emekalam brings us a report on the daily struggles of nursing mothers in the West African nation.

Nigeria plans to contract Russian firm in reviving steel company

The Nigerian government is expected to sign a Memorandum of Understanding(MoU) with a Russian firm for the resuscitation of the multi-billion U.S. dollars Ajaokuta Steel Rolling Mill in Kogi State in January 2020.

Olamilekan Adegbite, Nigeria's Minister of Mines and Steel, who disclosed this on Monday, said the government meant to bring back on stream the steel rolling mill which was down since the late Nigerian President Shehu Shagari regime.

The minister spoke during his facility tour of the National Steel Raw Material Exploration Agency on Monday in Kaduna State.

While addressing the management staff of the agency, the minister said once the Russian contractors to handle the resuscitation of the Ajaokuta Steel Rolling Mill were identified, the MoU would be signed and work would commence earnestly.

Adegbite said funds for the resuscitation of the steel mill is already in place, adding that a committee has been set up to kick-start the project.

The minister, however, directed the head of the National Steel Raw Material Agency, Umar Hassan to nominate two persons to be part of the committee, saying that the agency was critical to the Ajaokuta project.

Hassan said the agency saddled with the responsibility of mining and exploration in the country, was constrained by inadequate skills, inadequate project vehicles, modeling software as well as dilapidated offices.


Nigeria is forging on with crypto despite regulatory hurdles

 Nigeria’s cryptocurrency industry has been on an uphill trend in the past few years, and it’s showing no sign of regression. This is despite the country’s central bank issuing constant warnings to the citizens, asking them to steer clear of cryptos. The latest industry reports indicate that this trend is set to continue in 2020.

Africa’s biggest economy, Nigeria, has been a leader in the crypto industry in Africa for years now. Its vibrant crypto industry has also seen it claim the top spot for Bitcoin searches on Google globally, ahead of established crypto hubs such as the U.S. and Japan.

In its annual market report, the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) noted the continued rise of cryptos, stating, “The CBN has also declared that digital currencies are not legal tender with naira as the sole legal tender. There are concerns on the use of other digital currency which is currently changing the global payment ecosystem.”

For Nigerians, cryptos offer hope of a better, more accessible and efficient financial system. Despite being the largest economy in Africa, the country has over 60 million citizens with no access to formal banking services. And while other African countries have sought to go around this through the use of mobile money, Nigeria hasn’t had much success with this either. According to the World Bank, only 6% of Nigerians use mobile money. This makes Nigeria a perfect market for crypto.

While the Nigerian Central Bank has discouraged its citizens from using cryptos, the country’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) intends on integrating cryptos into its capital market. The SEC has set up a committee that will work on a regulatory framework for cryptos. It will look into issues such as investor protection, maintaining the integrity of the financial market and ensuring financial stability.

Crypto trading platforms in Nigeria have continued to see increased activity, with Paxful being one of the leaders. The exchange, which hit 3 million wallets recently, revealed that Nigeria continues to be one of its leading markets.

Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey recognized the great potential the West African country has as a crypto hub. In his recent visit to Nigeria, he attended crypto meetups, later stating that he believes Africa will determine the future of crypto.

By Steve Kaaru


Friday, December 6, 2019

Video - Health tech startup in Nigeria seek to bridge service access gap

Imagine being a healthcare professional without your own healthcare facility. Well, in Nigeria, a health care startup is providing consultation and treatment facilities for rent. Doctoora, as it is called, provides a platform for people to find and book private healthcare professionals, bridging the gap between medical practitioners and patients.

Video - Abuja hospitality industry boosting youth football development

Nigeria's hospitality industry in the capital, Abuja, is now promoting grassroots football. Night clubs and Lounges are collaborating with key players to provide a platform for young football talents to display their skills in a tournament. The players are keenly watched by scouts, out to select some of the best, for international trials.

Nigerian activist Sowore re-arrested hours after he was freed

A Nigerian activist and former presidential candidate whose detention has prompted protests by rights groups was re-arrested on Friday at a court hearing hours after he was freed on bail, his lawyer told Reuters.

Omoyele Sowore, who ran against President Muhammadu Buhari in February’s election, was first arrested in August and has pleaded not guilty to charges of treason, money laundering and harassing the president.

He was released on bail on Thursday ahead of a court hearing on Friday. However, his lawyer, Femi Falana, said the activist was re-arrested by state security officials on Friday after the hearing, screaming and shouting as he was dragged away.

Falana said the state security had filed new charges against Sowore, without elaborating.

Sowore’s continued detention despite being granted bail has led to criticism of Buhari’s administration and allegations that human rights have been flouted in this case and those of other high-profile figures.

Prior to Thursday’s release, the Department for State Security said Sowore’s bail conditions had not been met and detained him for several weeks. But a court in Abuja said on Thursday he must be released within 24 hours.

“Having complied with the order of court ... what is therefore required is for the state security service to allow our clients enjoy their limited freedom,” Falana told Reuters after Sowore was re-arrested on Friday.

Sahara Reporters, the online Nigerian news organization Sowore founded, said he has been taken to the state security headquarters after his latest arrest.


Nigeria's parliament passes record budget for 2020

Nigeria's parliament passed a record 10.59 trillion naira ($35bn) budget for 2020 on Thursday, paving the way for the country's likely return to the international debt market next year as it struggles to shake off the impact of a recession.

The budget passed by lawmakers assumes a deficit of 1.52 percent of the estimated gross domestic product - representing around 2.18 trillion naira ($7.2bn) - to be financed through foreign and domestic borrowing.

In 2019, the debt office said it did not tap the international debt market because of time constraints before the end of its budget cycle. The West African country held its last Eurobond sale in 2018, its sixth outing, where it raised $2.86bn.

Nigeria emerged from a 2016 recession in 2017, but has struggled to boost growth. Ratings agency Moody's downgraded the country's outlook to negative from stable on Wednesday, citing an increased risk to government revenue.

Nigeria's Senate, parliament's upper house, passed the plan. It was also approved by the lower house a few hours later.

The budget assumes crude production of 2.18 million barrels a day and an oil price of $57 per barrel. Nigeria is Africa's top oil producer.

The spending plan includes a value-added tax increase from five percent to 7.5 percent. The budget is also up from the 8.83 trillion-naira budget for 2019 and tops the previous record spending plan, the 9.12 trillion-naira budget for 2018.

President Muhammadu Buhari last week asked parliament to approve a request for $23bn in foreign borrowings for infrastructure projects. It was not immediately clear if that sum was included in the budget passed by lawmakers on Thursday.

A central goal of Buhari's tenure has been to increase non-oil revenues to reduce Nigeria's dependence on crude oil sales.

In the president's first term, he was embroiled in a power struggle with the legislature, leading to months of delays in the implementation of spending plans.

But loyalists in his ruling party now occupy key parliamentary roles, which has sped up the passage of legislation.

"I hope we continue to work together as colleagues to ensure the 2020 budget is fully implemented," said Senate President Ahmed Lawan after passing the budget.

Lawmakers increased the budget from the 10.33 trillion-naira ($31.3bn) spending plan that Buhari presented to them in October. The president must agree to the revised plan before signing it into law.

Al Jazeera

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Nigeria's Leon Balogun says fight against racism is a collective responsibility

Nigeria international Leon Balogun believes tackling racism is a collective responsibility and that more 'extreme punishments' are needed.

The 31-year-old Brighton defender also supports players walking off the pitch, but admitted it is only part of what needs to be done.

Balogun wants those not being targeted on the pitch to fully support their team-mates who feel that leaving the pitch is their only option, so that not too much pressure is put on the individuals.

"It's like they are afraid because the manager might say 'if you don't want to play, even though you might be an important player to us, we can replace you' and so that's something you will think about at least twice," Balogun told BBC Africa.

"That is what a team is supposed to be. We are a family. We are walking off [together], this would empower so many players who are racially abused because that way they then wouldn't feel alone."

Balogun says in order to get the message across, fans who do not take part in the abuse must also get involved in the battle against racism.

"You really take away what they love so much so that they understand we need to rethink here for a minute," he explained.

"So it will also affect people who are not involved in the racial abuse of the players.

"People who just happen to be in the stadium and they will be like 'wait a minute', those ones, let's call them idiots are taking away what we love, what we are passionate about."

Harsher punishments needed

A recent rise in incidents of racism across Europe has been met with financial penalties and partial stadium closures.

He is also adamant that the kind of sanctions being handed down are simply not having the necessary affect.

"At the point it's at right now I think you have to be extreme, even banning a team or like deducting points," he added.

"You need to shock people the same way racism shocks players.

"You probably have to go to a place they never expect, where you can actually hurt [punish] those involved in racist behaviour."

The Germany-born player has experienced racism first hand and points to one incident in 2018 when playing for Mainz and he was subjected to monkey chants from Hannover fans.

Balogun says authorities also have to make an example of the clubs when their supporters become involved in the racial abuse.

"When they are punished, clubs that are affected by the actions of their fans will have to do something about it," he added.

"They will have to find a solution. 'We are fighting for the championship here or we are fighting for relegation'. We need every point. So they can't allow or afford to lose points over something which is as stupid as racism."

By Mimi Fawaz 


Nigeria launches updated security plan to tackle emerging threats

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday inaugurated an updated security plan to tackle emerging threats in the most populous African nation.

The National Security Strategy, a document revised every five years, covers details on how to enhance the capacity of Nigeria's military and other security agencies.

Speaking at the inauguration of the document in Abuja, Buhari said the government remains committed to enhancing the social security of Nigerians as a means of improving physical security.

He said the numerous security challenges facing the country made it necessary to come up with a comprehensive and coordinated response involving all segments of the society.

"As we continue to work towards completely ending insurgency in the northeast and laying the foundation of sustainable peace and development in the region, we are also addressing conflicts between farmers and herders, banditry and various forms of security challenges," Buhari said.

He said security is about bottom-to-top operation, and failure at any level will lead to a serious lapse in overall security.

"The task that now lies before us is the execution of the strategy and the achievement of a safer and more secure nation," Buhari said. "It is a task to which this administration remains fully and unreservedly committed."

Speaking earlier, Babagana Monguno, Nigeria's national security adviser, noted both internal and external security threats globally are attributable to organized crimes across borders.

"As we consolidate on the successes of peace-building in the northeast and the Niger Delta, the clear lesson for all of us here is that the key to sustainable peace and development is to guarantee security both in terms of economy and social status for everybody," he said.


Cardi B to perform in Nigeria for the first time

Grammy award-winning rapper and social media sensation, Cardi B is on her way to Africa to perform for the first time on the continent in Nigeria and Ghana.

The star shared a post on her Instagram page of her dancing in excitement in a private jet as she set off for the concert.

"1:03am drop my KK in NY on my way to Afrriiiiicaaaaaaaaaa baybeeeee!!!!!!," she wrote in the post.

Last month she announced that she would be performing at the Livespot X Festival in Lagos, Nigeria and Accra, Ghana.

"Africa. I'm coming! Nigeria and Ghana," she wrote at the time.

Cardi B (real name Belcalis Almanzar), broke into the music scene in 2017 with her hit single 'Bodak Yellow.'

She will be performing at the two-day festival alongside top African artists from both countries.
Organized by Livespot 360, a digital agency based in Lagos, the festival will feature Tiwa Savage, Burna Boy, Shatta Wale, R2bees among others.

Immense popularity

Darey Art Alade, a Nigerian singer and creative director of Livespot 360 says Cardi B was picked to headline the festival because of her immense popularity.

"She is one of the biggest artists in the world... It's really about her uniqueness, her star power. She has got great music and she is the girl next door character that everybody loves," he told CNN.

Cardi B has won multiple awards including a Grammy Award, seven Billboard Music Awards, and four BET Awards.

Alade, who will also perform at the festival, says bringing Cardi B to Africa has been in the works since 2018.

According to him, his team has been in conversation with her for months to make her trip to the continent smooth. "Getting Cardi B to come is a lot because there are many moving parts. She is specific about everything," he said.

The festival has organized the lighting, stage, and design of the venues in Accra and Lagos to suit the rapper's preferences.

Social media excitement

Meanwhile, social media is buzzing as fans share their excitement ahead of Cardi B's first Africa performance.

Darey Art Alade says he is hoping for a "hitch-free" concert. In the past, Alade has hosted celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Kelly Rowland in Lagos, Nigeria's commercial center.

"I am hoping people are looking forward to having a good time with Cardi B. We are looking forward to a hitch-free festival, no incidents," he said.

"We are looking forward to this further cementing us on the world map in terms of our tourism potential."

Ghana's 'Year of Return'

The artist's visit to the continent comes at a time where Ghana is pushing for a more united Africa.
In 2018, the West African country declared and formally launched the "Year of Return, Ghana 2019," marking 400 years since the first enslaved Africans arrived in North America.

The campaign encourages people of African descent, whose ancestors were victims of slave trade, to return to Ghana and invest in the continent.

Alade, says part of extending the Livespot X Festival to Accra, Ghana's capital city is to spread love across the continent through music.

"We want to spread the love, we have Nigerians performing in Ghana and we have Ghanians performing in Lagos as well. It's a bit of a symbiotic relationship about love and unity," he said.

It also creates an environment for international artists like Cardi B to share the stage with some of Africa's favorite music stars, Alade said.

Africa to the world

Cardi B's visit to Africa is one of many from A-list music artists. Over the past years, stars like Beyonce, Jay Z, Skepta, Kelly Rowland, and Toni Braxton have performed in different countries on the continent.

There has also been a rise in international collaborations with African artists. Drake and Nigerian musician, Wizkid teamed up on 2016 hit "One Dance" making Wizkid the first Nigerian artist to top the US Billboard Hot 100.

In July, Beyonce teamed up with multiple African acts including Ghana's Shatta Wale, Cameroon's Salatiel and South Africa's Busiswa and Moonchild Sanelly on her 'The Lion King: The Gift' album.

Toye Sokunbi, a Nigerian music analyst says the internet and social media are part of why more people are paying attention to the continent's music scene.

According to him, it is faster to access and share African music compared to many years ago.
"The internet, for example, has made the world smaller. This also means the synergy between African diaspora and Africans in Africa is strengthening," he told CNN.

"So, the communication between those two arms means there is a more unified African consciousness which expands the possibilities of music," he added.

Sokunbi, who is also the Editor-at-large for a Nigerian pop culture magazine, says the attention on the music scene can also be associated with an ongoing trend for African creativity and culture.

Over the past years, there have been movies, food, and fashion collaborations from outside the continent.

In August, Swedish retail giant, H&M, partnered with South African brand Mantsho in its first-ever collaboration with an African designer.

By Aisha Salaudeen 


Croatia 'wrongly deports' two Nigerian table tennis players to Bosnia

Croatian police have deported two Nigerian table-tennis players to Bosnia and Herzegovina, claiming they were in the country illegally, despite the pair having arrived in Croatia with valid visas.

Abie Uchenna Alexandra and Kenneth Chinedu, students from Owerri Technical University in Nigeria, arrived in Zagreb on November 12 to participate in the sport's World University Championships in Pula, according to Hina, the government-owned national news agency.

Following the table tennis tournament, they headed from Pula to Zagreb, scheduled to fly back to Nigeria via Istanbul on November 18.

The pair settled into a hostel on November 16 and the following day went to explore the city, reported the Sarajevo-based Zurnal. They were stopped by police as they got off a tram, and arrested as they were not carrying their documents with them.

"They took us to the police station. We tried to explain who we were and that we had left our documents in the hostel. They didn't pay attention to what we were saying," said Chinedu.

He said police officers then put them in a van and said they were "taking them to Bosnia". They drove the pair to the border, along with several others, and dumped them on the Bosnian side, near a forested area.

"I refused to go into the woods," said Chinedu. "The officer told me he would shoot me if I didn't move."

After being chased, they reached the Miral Camp near Velika Kladusa in Bosnia.

That was two weeks ago.

Legal stay in Croatia

Chinedu said they immediately contacted one of their fellow students who had stayed back in Zagreb, and asked him to send them their passports. However, they now faced a new problem: they were stuck in a camp and their Croatian visas were due to expire when they were due to get their flight home.

The students complained to representatives of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which runs the Miral Camp, where it was confirmed that the students had been staying in Croatia legally.

Dean Sinkovic from the Faculty of Economics and Tourism in Pula confirmed to Al Jazeera that the students were competing in the table tennis tournament, that they had visas and an invitation letter from the university.

Emir Prcanovic, director of the Your Rights Organization, which is currently providing legal aid to the Nigerian students, told Al Jazeera that the documentation from the Croatian consulate proves the students' legal status.

Alberto Tanghetti, a representative of the Inter-University Sports Committee and the organiser of the competition in Pula, said there were a total of five participants from Nigeria - four students and a professor - and confirmed they all had valid visas.

"The two students were participating in the competition, they had a Croatian visa, return plane tickets from Zagreb to Istanbul and from Istanbul to Lagos," Tanghetti said.

Opposition outrage
Hina, meanwhile, announced "the Ministry of Interior does not know how these students ended up in Bosnia", adding "their legal departure from Croatia has not been recorded".

Ranko Ostojic, an opposition leader who chairs the Committee on Internal Policy and National Security, demanded the police explain themselves.

The students were on Wednesday, December 12 transferred to a field office of the Bosnian Foreign Service in Bihac, reported Al Jazeera's Boris Gagic. After five hours, they were released, accompanied by police officers, and made no statements to the media.

It is understood they are being returned to the Miral camp in Velika Kladusa, where they are currently accommodated with refugees and migrants.

"Those people are victims of illegal acts of the Croatian side," said Dragan Mektic, Bosnia and Herzegovina's minister of security. "Respecting legal procedures, we now have to take them back to Croatia … It is obvious that they have Croatian visas, that they are in B&H illegally. From their statements, it is obvious that Croatian police forcibly displaced them and we have to bring them back there."

Al Jazeera

Video - Nigeria's multi-billion dollar adult film industry

Despite the conservative nature of the Nigerian society, the adult film industry continues to boom with porn stars racking multi-million dollar every year. Though not yet regulated in Nigeria, there's a potential revenue stream for the government if the industry is backed with some legal frameworks.

In the United States, the porn industry is estimated to generate up to $10 billion, according to the National Research Council Report, 2002. No official record for Nigeria.
Edet Mareme, an adult entertainer, tells Business Insider SSA that pornstars make up to $10,000/month depending on the role.

“In a month, porn star can make from $3,000 to $10,000 and more. “Girls are paid more than their male counterparts in the industry," Mareme says.

Against societal narratives, Mareme said porn acting porn doesn't stop a woman from having a happy life and home. “A woman can decide to go into porn acting and stop after a while and go and marry. Nobody can stop you.”

Nigerian societal settings stigmatise against porn actors and women are castigated from society for engaging in porn or its related industries.

Changing the narrative about the porn industry

Mareme said people are mistaking the porn industry for commercial sex or prostitution, claiming they are quite different.

“People mistake me for a sex worker, I am a porn actress. Because you watched my video from an x-rated website doesn't mean I have sex with everybody I meet,” she explains.

She added that in the porn industry, so many protocols are followed before an actor or actress can participate, including conducting tests.

How the porn industry make money

The Nigerian porn actress said videos are posted on x-rated websites to generate views and per-click cost. She said videos are also sold to other x-rated websites. All these complement the amount paid for acting in a porn scene.

She called for a professional porn industry in Nigeria that would be able to compete with the international industry.

By Aderemi Ojekunle


Pirates kidnap 19 crew members from Supertanker off Nigeria

Pirates boarded a fully loaded supertanker off the coast of Nigeria, an act that is sure to ring alarm bells for insurers about the risk of collecting oil from Africa’s biggest producer.

Nineteen crew were kidnapped and remain missing, a spokeswoman for Navios, the ship’s owner said by phone Wednesday. The incident happened late Tuesday about 77 nautical miles from Bonny Island, a key loading point for Nigerian crude. The vessel had only recently collected its cargo.

The waters of the Gulf of Guinea have suffered from sporadic incidents of piracy for a few years, but an attack on a supertanker is a rare event. Nigeria suffered a spate of militancy that crippled its oil industry in 2016, but it rarely strayed into shipping.

Out of 95 attacks worldwide where hijackers boarded the vessel in the first nine months of 2019, 17 took place in Nigerian waters, according to data from the International Maritime Bureau, a piracy watchdog. As a region, the Gulf of Guinea accounts for for almost 82% of the crew kidnappings globally.

The crew that didn’t get kidnapped were able to sail the vessel to a safe location, the Navios spokeswoman said, adding that the company’s priority is the safe return of those who are missing.

The vessel, the Nave Constellation, can carry 2 million barrels of oil. It was full when it was hijacked and there was no damage.

By Olivia Konotey-Ahulu


Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Nigeria says on course to win fight against polio

Nigeria's National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) on Tuesday said the country is on course to win the fight against polio in the shortest possible time.

At a summit in Abuja to review the routine immunization against polio in Nigeria, the agency said three years and counting without the wild poliovirus in the most populous African country was nothing short of a milestone.

"The toward a polio-free Nigeria has begun. However, there's a need for health workers to access insecure areas in Borno and some parts of the northeast region," said Faisal Shuaib, head of the NPHCDA.

Experts attending the two-day summit in Abuja are expected to review Nigeria's efforts toward polio eradication and identify gaps.

According to Shuaib, progress has been recorded on reaching inaccessible children, sustaining communication and social mobilization, strengthening routine immunization and vaccine management and accountability.

"Together, we can finish the job of flushing polio out of the country," the official said, further expressing the optimism that Nigeria will soon obtain a polio eradication certificate.

He said health officials in the country had worked tirelessly with a very strong surveillance system.

As recently as 2012, Nigeria had accounted for more than half of all polio cases worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.

Nigeria's last polio case was recorded in August 2016, making it the last country in Africa to record wild polio virus infections.


Monday, December 2, 2019

Video - Nigeria's Oshoala gunning for record-equalling 4th player award

FC Barcelona women's striker Asistat Oshoala leads Super Falcons teammates Chia-maka Nna-dozie and Uchenna Kanu in the shortlist for the 2019 African Women's Player of the Year award. The 25 year-old is aiming to win the prize for a record-equalling fourth time.