Monday, June 29, 2020

Nigerian kids 'Ikorodu Bois' get Hollywood invite after recreating movie trailer

The Nigerian kids famous for remaking multimillion-dollar music videos and movie trailers with household items may be heading to Hollywood.

Members of Ikorodu Bois nabbed the opportunity Wednesday after the group shared on social media their homemade remake of the trailer for the Netflix movie, "Extraction."

Undaunted by high-end productions, the Sanni brothers, Muiz, 15, and Malik,10 (with video-editing help from older brother, Babatunde), and their cousin, Fawas Aina, 13, filmed the trailer in their neighborhood in Ikorodu, a suburb in Lagos, using their ingenuity, the ever-present wheelbarrow, and some upcycled items.

Once uploaded, they told their followers to share and tag lead actor Chris Hemsworth and Netflix to get their attention. Produced by the American duo, the Russo Brothers, "Extraction" features Hemsworth as Tyler Rake, a mercenary tasked with rescuing the teenage son of a jailed drug lord who is abducted by a rival boss.

A couple of hours later, Netflix retweeted their post, saying, "LOVE THIS."

The video also caught the attention of Hemsworth, who retweeted the video, commenting, "EPIC."
But what really got their attention was the unexpected recognition from movie producers, the Russo Brothers, who shared the video and invited them to the premiere of "Extraction 2." In May, Joe Russo told Deadline that they had secured the deal to write a sequel.

"This is awesome! We would love to have you guys at the #Extraction 2 premiere...DM us and we'll get you there!" they said in a tweet.

The boys reacted with elation, saying the comments from the producers and Hemsworth were a dream come true.

"This is the day we've been waiting for all our lives," they said in a tweet reply to the invitation.

Babatunde Sanni, the 23-year-old who's the brain behind the group but doesn't appear in the video, said the trailer had taken them a month to make.

"Some days we shoot but end up re-shooting just because we wanted to do our best," Babatunde Sanni told CNN.

While the invitation marks a significant development for the kid sensations, it's not the first time their innovative videos have garnered notice.

Since creating their Instagram page in 2017, they have amassed more than 600,000 followers. Some of their content has gone viral, and they've collected kudos from big stars including actor Will Smith, Netflix "Money Heist" actor Alvaro Monte and rapper Roddy Rich.

Babatunde Sanni told CNN it was rewarding to see all their hard work pay off.

"We are so happy people are getting to know us globally," he said.


Monday, June 22, 2020

Nigerian doctors call off strike over lack of PPE

Nigerian doctors in state-run hospitals have called off a week-long strike over welfare and inadequate protective equipment as new coronavirus cases spike in the country.

The strike by the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), which represents some 40 percent of Nigeria's doctors, began last Monday but had exempted medics treating coronavirus patients.

The group's directors decided to suspend the strike action from Monday, June 22, by 08:00am local time (07:00 GMT), the association said in a statement.

NARD said the decision, which followed the intervention by state governors and others, was to give the government time to fulfil the outstanding demands.

The organisation had called the strike over a range of issues, including the "grossly inadequate" provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) and calls for hazard pay for those working close to the virus.

Other demands focused on improving general welfare and protesting dismissals or pay cuts for doctors in two regions.

Strikes by medics are common in Nigeria, where the health sector has been underfunded for years.

The authorities fear that any reduction in capacity could severely hamper its ability to tackle the pandemic as the number of cases continues to rise.

The main nationwide doctors union briefly staged a warning strike in commercial hub Lagos over police harassment of its members.

According to a tally by Johns Hopkins University, Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation of 200 million inhabitants, has recorded 19,808 COVID-19 cases and 506 related deaths since the first case of the virus was reported in February.

More than 800 healthcare workers have been infected by the virus, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.

Al Jazeera

Friday, June 19, 2020

Nigeria's plan to reopen airports hindered by multiple issues

Indications emerged on Thursday that Nigeria's plan to reopen its local airports for operations on June 21 is slowed down by multiple hurdles in the aviation sector, as the most populous African country strives to navigate the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Nigerian government shut down airports for commercial flight operations on March 23, as part of the measures to curb the spread of COVID-19. The government contemplated the reopening of the airports twice but ended up extending the exercise to allow for wider consultations.

Going by the prevailing situation, the plan to reopen the airports is "unrealistic" for now, the Nigerian Senate said after a meeting between lawmakers and local aviation workers on Thursday.

"Though you emphasized the need to unlock the airport, the fact remains that there are quite a number of issues that are begging for answers," Smart Adeyemi, chairman of the Nigerian Senate committee on aviation, told the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association who raised some concerns experienced by local aviation workers due to the pandemic.

The representatives of aviation workers said at the meeting that there was a need for special financial intervention and provision of necessary protocols, protective systems in view of the COVID-19 pandemic before reopening the airports for operations.

In addition to this, most aviation workers in the country had not been paid their wages since the country was locked down by the authorities since March, the aviation union said.

Noting the aviation sector is key to the socio-economic development of any country including Nigeria, Adeyemi said the legislature was already in talks with the executive to address the general issues.

"The aviation sector cannot be compromised for any reason, given its importance to economic development. There must be mechanisms put in place to ensure safety and confront the challenges facing the sector before unlocking the airports," Adeyemi said.

In a similar development, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) on Thursday said the date earlier set for the resumption of flights is no longer feasible.

"We never said aviation is going to start definitely on June 21... This is not a feasible date to resume operations," Musa Nuhu, director-general of the NCAA, told the media in Abuja.

According to Nuhu, the NCAA would not approve the resumption of flight operations until it is satisfied that the operations can be carried out "in a safe and organized manner."

"We (the NCAA) will not be pressured to approve resumption because doing that without the appropriate checks would be disastrous," he said further.

As a precondition for reopening the airports, aviation expert Llitrus Ahmadu said there is a need for the government to ensure the proper provision of protective equipment and other protocols, including the re-certification of pilots, airworthiness of the aircraft, and payment of the workers' salary, among other multiple issues that are currently being raised.


Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Nigerian doctors stage 'indefinite' walk out, crippling Covid-19 response

Nigerian doctors in state hospitals have begun a nationwide strike, paralysing the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic as cases continue to rise steadily.

Members of an umbrella organisation representing all doctors employed by the government announced an indefinite strike yesterday to protest low salaries, a lack of "hazard" pay for treating virus patients and the "grossly inadequate" provision of protective equipment.

The doctors also demanded an end to the harassment and assault of medical workers by security agents enforcing curfews.

The National Association of Resident Doctors, which represents about 40 per cent of the country’s physicians, said the government had been given two weeks notice of the strike action but had failed to meet their demands.

In a statement given in the capital Abuja on Monday, the group’s president said that some Covid-19 patients in treatment and isolation centres would be exempted from any strike action. However, if the Nigerian government does not meet its demands in the next two weeks, those centres will be hit by the strikes, too.

Covid-19 is spreading rapidly across Africa’s most populous nation with some 16,000 recorded cases of the virus and 420 deaths. However, the real number of cases is almost certainly far higher than the official statistics because of a lack of testing materials. Nigeria has carried out just 94,000 tests on its population of about 200 million since the virus started to spread in March, according to the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

There have also been several outbreaks of hundreds of "mysterious" deaths in the northern Nigerian states of Yobe and Kano since the outbreak began in March. Last week, the Nigerian health minister admitted that many of these deaths were probably due to Covid-19.

Nigeria already has worryingly few doctors for its population. The World Health Organisation recommends that countries have a ratio of one doctor to 600 people. Nigeria has one doctor for every 6,000 people. According to the Nigerian Medical Association, there are 72,000 registered Nigeria doctors but that more than 50 per cent of them practice outside the country.

Strikes by medical workers are frequent in Nigeria. Despite having Africa’s largest reserves of oil, the health sector has been left underfunded for decades. Many Nigerian elites, including the country’s President Muhammadu Buhari, prefer to fly abroad to London for medical treatment when they get ill.

So far the majority of Nigeria’s confirmed cases have been reported in Abuja, and Lagos and Kano, its two largest cities.

The Telegraph

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Video - 20 soldiers, 40 civilians killed in attacks Nigeria's Borno state

At least 20 soldiers and more than 40 civilians have been killed, and hundreds injured in twin attacks in northeast Nigeria's Borno state, residents and a civilian task force fighter said. The attacks on Saturday, in the Monguno and Nganzai areas, came just days after armed fighters killed at least 81 people in a raid on a village in a third area, Gubio. Al Jazeera's Sara Khairat reports

Video - Nigeria's under-performance at 2010 FIFA WC still hurts the proud nation

Many Nigerian football fans and experts still feel the pain when they remember the 2010 World Cup. With so much promise before the tournament, the Super Eagles simply failed to take off and were dumped out in the first round. CGTN's Deji Badmus brings us more on the shattered dreams.

Nigeria's Muhammadu Buhari orders probe into Aso Rock shooting

The Nigerian president has ordered an investigation after security guards reportedly shot into the air at his presidential palace.

The incident happened at Aso Rock following an altercation between one of the president's aides and his wife's bodyguards.

They had been arguing about the need for a presidential aide to self-isolate after returning from a trip.

Some of the First Lady's staff have been arrested.

No casualties were reported.

The incident happened last week but came to light at the weekend when both President Muhammadu Buhari and his wife Aisha spoke about it publicly.

The BBC's Ishaq Khalid in Abuja reports that the incident is seen as yet another sign of internal wrangling in Nigeria's government where officials often publicly disagree.

The First Lady Aisha Buhari has spoken out about her husband before, suggesting in a 2016 BBC interview that his government had been hijacked. He responded by saying his wife belonged in the kitchen.

Aisha Buhari's plea

President Buhari's spokesman Garba Shehu said in a statement that the "minor" incident happened outside the main residence and that the president was not in any form of danger "arising, either from deadly infections or the reported incident by security personnel which is currently under investigation".

"That a minor occurrence is being used by some critics to justify attacks on the government and the person of President Muhammadu Buhari beggars belief," Mr Shehu added.

In a series of tweets, Mrs Buhari said she wanted authorities to make sure that anyone who had been travelling across states to go into 14-day quarantine - a reference to her husband's aide making a trip outside the capital, Abuja.

She then called upon the Inspector General of Police to release her staff "in order to avoid putting their lives in danger or exposure to Covid-19 while in their custody".

As part of the restrictions to try and contain coronavirus, Nigerians are banned from travelling outside their state.

There are 16,085 recorded cases of coronavirus in Nigeria and 420 confirmed deaths.


Is Genocide Happening In Nigeria As The World Turns A Blind Eye?

In recent six years, the world has witnessed two clear cases of genocidal atrocities. The first occurred in Syria and Iraq, perpetrated by Daesh against religious minorities such as the Yazidis and Christians. The second took place in Myanmar, perpetrated by the Burmese military against the Rohingya Muslims and other religious minorities. Yet, there are evolving stations where mass atrocities may be occurring and that appear to be neglected. One such example is in Nigeria.

On November 18, 2010, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) opened a preliminary examination into the situation in Nigeria. The preliminary examination followed several communications received by the Office of the Prosecutor (the OTP) which suggested that mass atrocities had occurred, involving Boko Haram militants based in Nigeria.

Having identified multiple issues which require closer scrutiny, the OTP named six potential cases where Boko Haram had committed crimes against humanity and two cases where such crimes were committed by the Nigerian security forces. The six cases include Boko Haram 1) targeting non-believers which resulted in several deaths; 2) kidnappings, abductions, and imprisonment of civilians, as associated with murder, torture and inhuman and degrading treatment; 3) attacks on schools, other buildings designated for education and attacks against students and teachers; 4) recruitment and use of child soldiers; 5) attacks on women and girls; 6) intentional targeting of buildings designated for religious practices, including churches and mosques.

Thousands have been affected by the litany of mass atrocities perpetrated by Boko Haram. However, among the staggering statistics, the fates of those suffering are lost. The fate of people like Leah Sharibu get lost among the suffering of thousands of people.

Leah Sharibu, a 15-year-old Nigerian girl, was one of the 110 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram from their school in Dapchi, Nigeria, in February 2018. Despite the fact that most of the girls have now been released, Boko Haram refused to let Leah go. According to one of the other girls, Leah declined to renounce her Christian faith. This is the reason Boko Haram continues to enslave her. Attacking women and girls is a signature tactic of Boko Haram. Boko Haram subjects women and girls to physical and mental abuse, rape and sexual violence, forced labor and much more. However, among its atrocities, those that are of a religious nature are significant too and cannot be neglected.

Nonetheless, the atrocities perpetrated by Boko Haram are not the only mass atrocities in Nigeria that require urgent attention.

Indeed, on June 15, 2020, the U.K. All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief (APPG), a cross-party group of parliamentarians representing both houses of the U.K. Parliament, released a report about the mass atrocities perpetrated in Nigeria by the Fulani militia. As the report “Nigeria: Unfolding Genocide?” notes: “The exact death toll is unknown. However, thousands of civilians are thought to have been killed in attacks led by Fulani herders and periodic retaliatory violence. Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust report that over 1,000 Christians were killed between January-November 2019, “in addition to the estimated 6,000+ deaths since 2015.” Amnesty International estimate that between January 2016 and October 2018 “at least 3,641 people may have been killed, 406 injured [and] 5,000 houses burnt down. Local groups, such as the Christian Association of Nigeria, report higher figures: between January and June 2018, over 6,000 people were killed by Fulani herders.”

Fulani militia continue to perpetrate mass atrocities in Nigeria’s Middle Belt. Their crimes continue to go unreported. This is why earlier this year, Lord Alton of Liverpool, Baroness Cox, Fiona Bruce MP and many other British Parliamentarians wrote to the ICC sending further evidence of the atrocities for the OTP’s consideration. At this stage it is not clear whether the cases will be considered by the ICC. However, it is clear that the Nigerian Government will not address the crime adequately or at all. Indeed, according to a statement by President Muhammadu Buhari’s spokesperson, Garba Shehu, the “false allegations of persecution of Christians” are “a most misleading campaign.” If the Nigerian Government is blind to the issue of religious persecution in the country, it is clear that the issue will not be addressed. However, the international community cannot be blind to the reports of atrocities and must ask important questions. How will the Nigerian Government explain the mass killings in Nigeria as recorded by several international organizations? What is the Nigerian Government doing to ensure that the acts are investigated and the perpetrators prosecuted?

There are several steps that need to be taken to address the atrocities and the APPG’s report maps these, including comprehensive investigations and prosecutions. However, the comprehensive response will not happen until we recognize, once and for all, the nature and severity of the atrocities. The crimes must be recognized for what they are and “a most misleading campaign” is not that name.

By Ewelina U. Ochab


Monday, June 15, 2020

Nigeria’s State-Owned Oil Corp. Publishes Audited Accounts

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. has published audited financial statements online in a bid to improve transparency around its operations.

The state-owned oil company, known as NNPC, has been criticized for years of conducting the nation’s oil business in secret by publishing only unaudited financial reports. The statements published on the company’s website yesterday were for 2018 and were signed by Chief Executive Officer Mele Kyari.

NNPC also published audited accounts online of its 20 subsidiaries and business divisions for first time.

Disclosure “is good for transparency and accountability,” Waziri Adio, executive secretary of Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative, said in a response to a private message on Twitter. “I urge them to make this a regular practice and in open data format.”

National Petroleum Investment Management Services is the group’s most profitable division, according to the statements. It reported revenue of 5.04 trillion naira ($13 billion) in 2018 and profit of 1.01 trillion naira. That compares with a loss of 1.65 trillion naira in 2017.

The report shows total assets managed by NAPIMS at 18.6 trillion naira, with the oil and gas components valued at 14.2 trillion naira.

Its oil production subsidiary, the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, reported a post-tax profit of 179 billion naira in 2018. The corporation’s three refineries reported a combined loss of 154 billion naira with the Kaduna refinery recording zero revenue for that year. NNPC didn’t publish consolidated audited accounts for the group.

“Over the years, NNPC has been rated as a cesspool, providing slush funds for politicians,” said Oluseun Onigbinde, director at Lagos-based BudgIT, a civic group that lobbies for government transparency. “They have been trying to change the perspective since 2015 with the publication of monthly reports and the 2018 audited statements is also a step forward.”

Yahoo Finance

Nigeria's Boko Haram crisis: UN ‘appalled’ by twin jihadist attacks in Borno

Dozens of soldiers and civilians are reported to have been killed in twin attacks by Islamist militants in north-eastern Nigeria's Borno state.

Fighters attacked Monguno, a garrison town where UN and other aid workers are based, and a village in Nganzai.

The UN said it was "appalled" by the raids that came days after at least 81 villagers were killed in Gubio.

A Boko Haram faction calling itself the Islamic State in West Africa (Iswap) says it is behind all three attacks.

The splinter group declared its loyalty to the Islamic State group four years ago.

What do we know about the attacks?

At least 20 soldiers and more than 40 civilians are said to have been killed in the two attacks.

People from Goni Usmanti village in Nganzai told the AFP news agency that militants shot dead 38 people and set a truck on fire with passengers inside.

Security sources and residents said at least 15 people, including nine soldiers, died in Monguno town, which is about 60km (37 miles) away.

Militants armed with heavy weapons including rocket launchers arrived in Monguno, a base for many international non-governmental organisations, on Saturday morning, overrunning government forces in the area.

In a statement, the UN confirmed that "non-state armed group operatives" entered Monguno in the late morning.

"Several" civilians, including a four-year old girl, were killed, it said, while at least 37 other civilians were injured.

Although vehicles were set ablaze and an unexploded missile found outside the main humanitarian facility, it was not seriously damaged.

"Protective security measures deployed at the humanitarian hub prevented any harm to the over 50 aid workers who were in the facility at the time of the attack," the UN said.

Reports say hundreds of civilians were injured in Nganzai and the local hospital was overwhelmed, forcing some of the injured to lie outside awaiting help.

The militants then distributed letters to residents, in the local Hausa language, warning them not to work with the military or international aid groups, the BBC's Chris Ewokor reports from the capital, Abuja.

Iswap does not usually target civilians unless they are working with Western aid agencies, or suspected of providing information to the army.

What has the reaction been?

"I am relieved all staff are safe and secure, but I am shocked by the intensity of this attack," said Edward Kallon, UN humanitarian co-ordinator in Nigeria.

The Nigerian military said that its forces had "successfully repelled" the attack on Monguno and killed 20 jihadists.

It did not mention any casualties among soldiers and civilians or the attack in Nganzai.

More than 100,000 of Monguno's residents are people who have been displaced from their homes by the 10-year conflict in the region.


Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Nigerian writer wins German literature award

 A Nigerian author, Chigozie Obioma, has won the 2020 Internationaler Literaturpreis Award through the German translation of his second novel, ‘An Orchestra of Minorities’.

The award was founded in 2009 and has since been honouring outstanding contemporary works especially first-time translations “to rack up voices of relatively unknown authors in Germany”.

In the past, the winning duo for the best novel and the best translation are honoured with a major celebration in which other authors and translators of the books nominated for the final round are invited .

There is usually a cash prize of €20,000/$24,000 for the winning author and €15,000 for the translation.

But this year, in its 12th edition, Germany’s national centre for presentation and discussion of international contemporary arts, Haus der Welt der Kulturen (HKW), alongside the seven-member jury, decided not to honour a single book.

There are six titles on the shortlist. Organisers say there will be 12 winners instead of 2, among whom the prize money of £36,000 will be divided.

“In the current precarious situation for many people working in the cultural field, the organisers wanted to honor the work and voices of many, rather than a single work,” a statement by the organisers said.

Mr Obioma’s book, whose German title is “Das Weinen der Vögel” was among the six books selected from a diverse list and recognised by the German literary community.

The novel follows the story of Chinonso, a hardly surviving poultry farmer who stops a woman from committing suicide, his quest for material advancement and the unsettling end to his dream as a Nigerian on a foreign land.

A jury member, Daniel Medin, considered “An Orchestra of Minorities” to be a philosophical novel “of rare ambition and breadth that questions the freedom of the human will with relentless precision."

Praising the Nigerian author for capturing African religions which are “firmly anchored in Igbo cosmology” in the novel, Mr Medin described Mr Obioma as an innovator of the African novel, also with his debut novel, “The Fishermen.”

“An Orchestra of Minorities” was also shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2019.


Winning the International Literature Award for Mr Obioma amidst coronavirus blues is pleasing.

“The past few months have been difficult for me, following the lockdown, coming down with the virus myself and the recent events. But I’m happy to share this bit of good news: the German translation of my second novel, DAS WEINEN DER VOGEL, has won this year’s Internationaler Literaturpreis, Germany’s prestigious prize for foreign fiction,” he said in a Facebook post.

“While I’m grateful and elated, I owe this win to my wonderful translator, Nicholai von Schweder, a remarkable man and the very best. Also, my wonderful publisher, Piper Verlag. Thank you to all who continue to support my work. It means so much to me!”

Previous winners of the award have included Teju Cole, Indian-French author, Shumona Sinhaand, and Mexican Fernanda Melchior.

By Aishat Babatunda

Premium Times

Nigerian women are taking to the streets in protests against rape and sexual violence

Protesters have taken to the streets in cities across Nigeria to demand urgent action to combat rape and sexual violence against women.

In Lagos on Monday a coalition of rights groups marched to the state parliament calling for it to declare a state of emergency on rape and sexual violence. The march followed the gruesome death of 22-year-old student Uwaila Vera Omozuwa -- and the rape and killing less than a week later of another student, Barakat Bello.

University student Omozuwa died after she was attacked in a church in Benin City where she had gone to study on May 27, while Bello was raped and killed during a robbery in her home in the southwestern city of Ibadan on June 1, according to Amnesty International.

The students' killings, which happened as citizens were still reckoning with a spate of violence against teenage girls in May, have sparked calls for government action on gender-based violence in the country.

"These unfortunate events are not a standalone, rather they are a culmination of unhealthy cultural practices," the Women Against Rape in Nigeria group said in a petition submitted to lawmakers on Monday.

WARN is pushing for all states in Nigeria to have a sex offenders list -- and for it to be made public -- as well as other measures to name and shame perpetrators of sexual violence.

Sexual survivors silenced

Ebele Molua, an activist and one of the conveners of the protest, said Nigerian women have long been violated and harassed because authorities still perceive rape as a "women issue" leaving women vulnerable to their abusers.

"In Nigeria, you see men catcalling, and groping women in the market and they become violent once they don't respond to their advances. You find men dismissing the accounts of sexual violence. This has to stop," Molua told CNN.

Nigerian celebrities have also denounced the latest sexual violence cases on social media and citizens continue to gather in several cities, demanding law enforcement bring the women's killers to justice.
Nollywood actress Hilda Dokubo joined a women's group demonstration to the police headquarters in Lagos on Friday in the wake of the killings and a group of students protested in Benin City on June 1.

Efforts to combat violence

One in four girls in Nigeria has experienced some form of sexual violence, according to UNICEF.
Meanwhile Amnesty International, which has launched petition demanding justice over the killings, said femicide and rape cases go under-reported in the country, allowing perpetrators to go unpunished.

However the latest cases have forced authorities to reckon with the scale of the problem.
Nigeria's Human Rights Commission has launched a social media campaign to educate men about consent and the country's police force, whose officers have been accused of gender violence in the past, has announced plans to allocate more officers to tackle cases across the country.

By Bukola Adebayo 


Over half of April's unexplained deaths in Nigeria's Kano state due to coronavirus, health minister says

More than 50% of the unexplained deaths in the northern Nigerian state of Kano in April were due to coronavirus, according to Health Minister Osagie Ehanire.

Ehanire said a government team sent to investigate a spike in deaths in the state during April showed that 979 people died in eight municipalities at the rate of 43 deaths per day.

The deaths peaked in the second week of April and mortality figures later fell to 11 per day in early May -- the state's typical daily death rate -- according to the minister.

Most of the deaths happened at home and in patients older than 65 and with pre-existing illnesses, he said.

"With circumstantial evidence as all to go by, investigation suggests that between 50-60% of the deaths may have been triggered by or due to Covid-19, in the face of pre-existing ailments," Ehanire told a Monday briefing.

Spike in deaths
President Muhammadu Buhari locked down Kano state for two weeks in April following reports of "mysterious deaths," and panic spread that the virus may have circulated undetected in the area.

While gravediggers told CNN they were burying more bodies, state authorities said preliminary investigations showed the deaths were unconnected to coronavirus, initially blaming them on meningitis, diabetes, hypertension and other ailments.

The state governor said a team of health officials from the World Health Organization had been sent to affected communities to probe the deaths.

During a daily presidential briefing on the country's response to Covid-19, Ehanire said the team had been able to provide support and strengthen the state's response to the pandemic.

Nigeria has record 12,801 coronavirus cases, with more than 1,000 cases in Kano state, according to the latest figures from the country's Center for Disease Control.

By Bukola Adebayo


Dozens killed in attack in northern Nigeria

At least 59 people have been killed in a suspected jihadist attack in north-eastern Nigeria.

Gunmen entered a remote village in the Gubio district of Borno state on Tuesday afternoon, killing dozens.

The village was also razed, in what is believed to have been a reprisal attack, according to local reports.

No group has yet claimed the attack. The AFP news agency said that 59 bodies had been recovered, while Reuters reported that 69 people were killed.

Reuters reported that the militants suspected villagers of sharing information about their movements to security forces, while AFP said jihadist fighters had been killed by locals trying to protect livestock.

While it is unclear who carried out the attack, both the jihadist group Boko Haram and an offshoot which fights under the banner of the Islamic State group have carried out deadly attacks in the north-east of Nigeria.

Boko Haram, which sparked global outrage in 2014 when they abducted more than 270 schoolgirls in Chibok in Borno state, is also active in neighbouring Chad, Niger and Cameroon.

In March, its militants ambushed and killed at least 47 Nigerian soldiers in the country's north east, before killing almost 100 soldiers in Chad the following day.

The group's decade-long insurgency has left thousands dead and displaced many more.


Nigeria to cut healthcare spending by 40% despite coronavirus cases climbing

Plans by Nigeria’s government to cut healthcare spending risk undermining the country’s coronavirus response and severely impacting already strained services, health and transparency groups have warned.

Funding for local, primary healthcare services will be cut by more than 40% this year in a revised budget expected to be passed into law in the coming weeks.

The proposed cuts could affect immunisations, childcare, maternal healthcare and family planning services.

Nigeria currently spends less than 5% of its federal budget on health. Dwindling oil sales, the crash in global oil prices and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic are understood to be the reason for the cuts.

According to Prof Innocent Ujah, the head of the Nigerian medical association, the proposed cuts have come just as more investment in health is needed.

“Our budget for health is unacceptably low, under 5%. With the Covid-19 pandemic, it becomes even more serious,” he said. “It will have an impact on our response to the virus.”

Ujah said he was shocked at the announcement of the cuts, as it had been assumed health budgets would be ringfenced during the pandemic.

Fuelling criticisms of the healthcare cuts has been the 37bn naira (£75m) set aside for renovations to Nigeria’s National Assembly buildings.

“Whatever renovations they want to do in the National Assembly should be suspended,” Ujah said. “This is a global emergency.”

The legislative body is heavily criticised in Nigeria for the lack of transparency in government spending and for the high salaries of lawmakers.

Oluseun Onigbinde, the director of BudgIT, an organisation which tracks government spending, said that the budget cuts were not distributed fairly.

“The National Assembly budget was cut 10%, but the severe cuts were made to education and healthcare,” he said.

“It’s a bit shameful that Nigeria’s allocation for health and education has not gone above 5% of the total budget provision in the last five years. The government has really underinvested in healthcare.”

Nigerian authorities took early steps to try to contain the outbreak of Covid-19. But cases are steadily rising, doubling in the past three weeks to 12,000 infections.

A number of challenges have undermined its test and trace strategy, including too few test kits. Just 80,000 tests have been administered, far lower than the country’s health officials want.

The Nigerian Centre for Disease Control has said 75% of infections are occurring in communities without an identifiable trace.

Adding to the challenges are issues with morale among some health staff.

Fifty doctors and nurses at a key Covid-19 response centre in Lagos University teaching hospital say they have not been paid the allowances promised to workers caring for coronavirus cases since April. The allowances are paid on top of their usual salaries.

According to staff who spoke on condition of anonymity, the delay in receiving allowances was making it difficult to recruit health professionals to fight the virus.

“We were assured payments for the Covid response. We started in April, but we’re in the third month and we haven’t been compensated,” said one member of staff.

Many had not seen their families in three months to prevent spreading the virus, and were furious that their payments are not being prioritised.

“We’ve put our lives on the line here, now for us not to be paid is inhumane,” the health worker said.

Government officials said they are working to address the payment delays.

“They have assured us they are working on this but such issues are causing much disillusionment,” said Ujah. “No matter what, in a healthcare emergency, motivation is a very important component.”

The Guardian

Monday, June 8, 2020

This agricultural enterprise is helping Nigerian farmers expand their business

In 2015, farmer Sule Yohana joined Babban Gona, a social enterprise organization with a focus on providing expansion services to smallholder farmers in Nigeria.

Babban Gona which means 'Great farm' in Hausa language, spoken in West Africa, provides services such as loans, agribusiness training, and provision of storage facilities for subsistence farmers in rural communities.

Yohana, whose farm is in Kaduna state in northern Nigeria, told CNN that since he joined the enterprise as a member he has been able to grow his maize farm from two hectares of land to four.
A hectare of farmland is about the size of the average football field.

"They (Babban Gona) taught me how to farm better, they taught me the best way to store my maize and they supplied me with fertilizers and pesticides," he said.

Promoting Agriculture

Farmers like Yohana make up one of the largest sectors of the Nigerian economy as agriculture contributes 21.9% of the country's overall gross domestic product, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

Founder of Babban Gona, Kola Masha says the enterprise was established in 2012 to promote agriculture and reduce the rate of unemployment in the country.

Out of a population of 202 million people, 39 million in Nigeria were unemployed, according to a 2018 report by the NBS.

Masha told CNN that Babban Gona's objective is to bring down the unemployment numbers by expanding crop production in rural communities, thereby creating room for more jobs in the country.

"We set a goal for ourselves that we will create around 10 million jobs by 2030 ... We firmly believe that agriculture is Nigeria's job-creation engine because it is massive, labor-intensive, and has tremendous growth potential," he said.

Babban Gona, which specializes in supporting maize farming is present in six Nigerian states and has so far provided its 100,000 farmer members with different farming-related services to improve their business.

One of the services offered is the provision of storage facilities for farmers during harvest season. Due to insufficient storage facilities for community-level farmers, a lot of farm produce is often wasted.

Investing in spaces to store maize ensures that farmers don't lose their produce and by extension, their income.

"We invested in over 60,000 tonnes of storage where the farmers can store their harvest," Masha said.

Farmer training 

Babban Gona also trains all its farmer members on some of the best farming techniques to improve their production of maize.

The company has a large number of field agents across small communities in northern Nigeria. These agents specialize in teaching water retention, soil analysis, seed planting, and sustainable farming.

Once a farmer joins Babban Gona, he automatically becomes eligible for this training.
Masha says anybody can join as a farmer member and that some people apply to become a part of Babban Gona on their own.

"Our team is actively out there at the grassroots level engaging with tens of thousands of farmers to get them to join. So, it is really a community effort, going from village to village, sharing with people about the potential of how Babban Gona can help," he explained.

When a farmer indicates interest in joining, they are subjected to a psychometric test where they are evaluated based on their maize production skills, personality traits, job potential, and abilities.
Those who pass become member farmers.

Yohana, who has been a Babban Gona member for about five years says he has been able to increase his net income as a result of the incentives provided by the enterprise.

"You know I used to plant one maize seed per hole but during my training with Babban Gona, I was taught that I could plant more than one seed with appropriate spacing," he explained.
He said he used to harvest only 40 bags of maize during harvest season, but he now harvests up to 200 bags.

Farmer members like Yohana are offered access to credit for their business and information on the best ways to market and distribute their products, according to Babban Gona founder, Masha.
"We help them to start thinking about turning their farm into a large business, to start making the necessary investments that will make their farms profitable," he told CNN.

Funded by financial institutions

The farmers are charged a small margin for the different services provided to them.
And according to Masha, the social enterprise is funded by leading financial institutions and governments such as the Nigerian Sovereign Wealth Fund, the German government, the Entrepreneurial Development Bank, among others.

Through the funding received, Babban Gona has been able to provide credit facilities for 55,000 farmers and aims to reach a million more by 2025.


Why Nigerians are muting their mothers on WhatsApp

In our series of letters from African writers, Nigerian novelist Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani says children are now having to police their credulous parents on WhatsApp.

Just a few years ago, local comedians had a field day with jokes about elderly Nigerian mothers and their nonchalant attitudes towards their mobile phones.

They needed their children's assistance to type and send text messages or log in to their accounts and read emails.

And their frequent excuse for missed calls was: "My phone was in my handbag."

These days, the jokes have upgraded to Nigerian mothers and their infatuation with WhatsApp, the most popular messaging app in Africa.

Nigerian comedians like Maraji have been making skits about them.

"My mother spends her entire morning on WhatsApp," 39-year-old Udo, whose home is in Lagos, told me.

"Throughout while she's having her breakfast and drinking her tea, she's checking people's status updates and watching videos."
'Relevant messages'

Unlike Twitter and Instagram, WhatsApp can work even when internet connections are iffy, as is often the case in many parts of Nigeria.

And it requires no profiles or passwords, so the generation that mostly retired from active life before access to the internet became common in Nigeria finds it easy to use. In fact, it is their internet.

A common complaint among younger Nigerians is the number and nature of WhatsApp messages they receive from their mothers.

"You just wake up in the morning and you see 10 videos from your mother," 41-year-old Ihuoma, who lives in Nigeria's capital, Abuja, told me.

"And each one begins with: 'You must watch this!' 'This will help somebody!' Those are always the opening lines."

Her 76-year-old mother, Patty, told me that all the messages she forwards are "relevant".

"I don't send frivolous messages at all," she said.

"Why I send those things to my children, it is a form of education, lifting up of minds, sharing knowledge, experiences. I consider it a sort of fellowship, sharing with my children."

Ihuoma has since muted her mother's WhatsApp account and rarely opens her messages.

For many Nigerian mothers, the ability to broadcast ready-made messages via WhatsApp is like a superpower.

It enables them to transmit unsolicited prayers, advice and opinions.

One woman who complained on Twitter about her mother putting onions in the corner of every room in the house - touted on WhatsApp as a way to absorb toxins - received replies saying their mothers had also followed the erroneous advice.

"In our family group, my mother was always forwarding me and my siblings different health suggestions, concoctions to mix and drink," said Udo.

"When I pointed out to her that some of them are questionable, she replied: 'You never know, just try it and see.'"

Her mother also forwarded gory videos of kidnap victims and crime scenes, insisting that her children needed to see these to be aware and beware.

"That's when I left the family group and felt I could not do this any more," Udo said.

"My brother blocked her, which hurt her a lot. But she wouldn't listen. She keeps forwarding."
Thongs, cancer and other fanciful warnings

A number of people told me that they also had blocked their mothers on WhatsApp but did not want to let them know.

"I was once involved in an online debate about this," Ihuoma said.

"Some people were of the opinion that they wanted to block their mothers but couldn't get themselves to do that to someone who had carried them in the womb for nine months."

They were tired of the advice and cautions, mostly from conservative or religious mothers who have always had a problem with their more liberal-minded children's lifestyles.

Warnings, for example, signed by unknown medical experts, explaining how wearing thongs can cause cancer and how tight skirts can lead to heart attacks.

And of the most implausible stories:

. People told me of their mothers who are convinced that Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari died long ago and had since been replaced by a body double from Sudan, known as "Jubril".

. That Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a lion into the streets of Moscow to prevent people from flouting the coronavirus lockdowns.

. That Queen Elizabeth has been pictured around the UK wearing face masks that are the same bright colours as her clothes, shoes and handbags.

All stories accompanied by videos and photos.

Affordable internet access became common in Nigeria just a few years ago, so this generation of elderly Nigerians was hardly exposed to the wonders of Photoshop and the ingenuity of idle minds that invent stories just for fun and clicks.

The Wuhan 'dragon'

And so, they tend to believe most information they come across, especially when there is visual "evidence".

"My mother sent me and my siblings a video of a dragon-like creature fleeing towards the sky," said 40-year-old Grace, who lives in Lagos.

"She said we should see, that coronavirus was finally leaving the earth."

Grace was shocked that her well-educated, 76-year-old mother could actually believe that the coronavirus was captured on camera, finally fleeing the Chinese city of Wuhan through the clouds and into the sky.

"She asked me how I knew that it wasn't true and I said: 'Mummy, the coronavirus is not a flying reptile!'

"She acknowledged that I was right and we just kind of laughed over it."

Hardly any of the ongoing efforts here to combat fake news and improve digital literacy focus on older Nigerians - and so the burden must continue to rest on younger family members like Grace to correct and enlighten their parents.

But, sometimes, even this is impossible.

"Sometimes when I correct her, my mother tells me that I'm being rude," said Udo. "She complains that I'm being insulting."


Thursday, June 4, 2020

Nigerian Reggae Star Majek Fashek Dies at 57

Beloved Nigerian reggae star Majek Fashek has died at age 57.

The singer's manager, Omenka Uzoma, told the BBC that Fashek (born Majekodunmi Fasheke), died in his sleep in New York. In an Instagram video, Uzoma reconfirmed the news, praising Fashek for all he did for Nigeria.

Singer/songwriter Fashek was born in the Edo state of Benin in 1963 and rose to prominence in 1988 when he released his solo debut, Prisoner of Conscience (his backing band was known as the Prisoners of Conscience), which included the award-winning single "Send Down the Rain."

With a high, quivering voice that drew comparisons to reggae great Bob Marley, and a conscious vibe in keeping with Marley's push to uplift, Fashek quickly gained a reputation as a voice of righteousness.

He furthered that image with the dancehall-spiked anti-apartheid song "Free Africa, Free Mandela," from his 1989 album I&I Experience. He achieved a rare cross-over success in the United States in 1991, when he signed with Interscope Records and released the Little Steven Van Zandt-produced breakthrough Spirit of Love. That effort included his biggest international hit, "So Long Too Long," an uplifting anthem that opened with the exhortation, "Arise from your sleep Africa/ Arise from your sleep America/ There's work to be done Africa."

The song, which Fashek performed on tour while opening for Tracy Chapman and on The Late Show with David Letterman, directly paid homage to Marley's legacy of activist lyricism with lines such as, "Remember, remember, Marcus Garvey/ Who had a dream for you Africa/ Remember, remember, Martin Luther King/ Who had a dream for you America/ They say you are black, they say you are brown/ They say dem white, they say you are brown/ But only the Angels of God is white now/ Only the Angels of God is white."

In 2016, Fashek wrote the song "We Are Not Afraid," which was the soundtrack to an all-star fundraiser video for victims of religious and political violence around the world directed by photographer Bob Gruen that featured more than 200 artists, including Keith Richards, Robert Plant, Bruce Springsteen, Yoko Ono, Robert DeNiro, Sting, Patti Smith, Dr. Jane Goodall, Iggy Pop, Peter Gabriel, Jackson Browne, Chuck D,Joe Walsh, Bonnie Raitt, Darlene Love, Debbie Harry, Dion, Elvis Costello, Grandmaster Flash, Jeff Tweedy and Susan Sarandon, among others.

At press time the cause of Fashek's death was not released.

Nigerian singer Burna Boy paid tribute to one of his biggest influences, writing, "The lyrics to his song 'So Long, Too Long' remain true as a wake up call to Africans still today."

By Gil Kaufman


Nigeria’s Insurers Given Another Year to Find Fresh Capital

Nigeria’s National Insurance Commission gave underwriters an additional year to recapitalize as companies deal with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

The industry recapitalization program scheduled to end in 2020 must now be completed by September 2021, the agency said in emailed statement.

“The incidences of Covid-19 pandemic have made it difficult to proceed with the Dec. 31, 2020 recapitalization deadline,” it said. Following the extension , underwriters are expected to meet at least half of the capital requirements by year-end, the regulator said.

Nigerian authorities last year asked insurers wanting to combine life and property and casualty businesses to raise their capital to 18 billion naira ($46 million) from 5 billion naira, with the minimum for property and casualty businesses increased to 10 billion naira from 3 billion naira. The requirement for life insurance is 8 billion naira, versus 2 billion naira, and that for reinsurance is 20 billion naira, compared with 10 billion naira.

By Emele Onu


Nigeria's Nollywood gets creative in response to Covid-19

As coronavirus closed businesses around the world and forced billions to stay home, Nigerian director Obi Emelonye came up with an innovative way to keep filming.

Inspired by his wife's teleconferencing calls from their isolation in Britain, he wrote and put together a short feature about a couple separated between London and Lagos.

There was just one day for rehearsals and two for filming, and relatives shot the actors on mobile phones in their homes on two continents.

"I said to myself, 'What if I shoot a film remotely? I can direct my actors and produce it from home, and the cost is zero," the well-known 53-year-old director told AFP.

"I wanted to show young people that despite the countless difficulties of our profession, despite the coronavirus, you can make a film without funding, without even a real camera."

Inventiveness has always been a hallmark of Nigeria's Nollywood -- the second most prolific film industry on the planet -- as it has risen from shaky homemade movies to slickly-produced blockbusters.

But now, in the face of the coronavirus crisis that has seen social distancing rules shut down shoots and cinemas closed, the sector has needed that spirit more than ever.

"We are an endangered species, we have to be innovative and to push the boundaries," said Emelonye, whose short "Heart 2 Heart" was released for free on YouTube last month.

"Things are very bad? You can make them better!"

'Difficult times'

The Nigerian film industry is riddled with contradictions.

On the surface are the red carpets, glitz and glamorous stars with millions of Instagram followers.

But underneath, much of the sector is poorly-funded, salaries are miserly and rampant piracy robs it of crucial revenues.

The arrival of the virus has dealt a major blow just as producers try to focus on higher-quality movies, cinema audiences grow and giants like Netflix push to tap into the country of 200 million, the most populous in Africa.

Moses Babatope watched in dismay as a government order to close saw income evaporate over the past three months at the Filmhouse, a cinema chain he co-founded in 2012.

"We've been through other difficult times, but this crisis is even worse," he told AFP.

Babatope estimated loses for the sector had reached over $9 million (eight million euros) so far due to the virus.

Dozens of film shoots have been put on hold or scrapped and the legion of workers in the industry -- from make-up artists to technicians to ushers -- are going unpaid.

Netflix has suspended the filming of its first original series made in Nigeria and French media giant Vivendi has delayed the opening of its first cinema in the capital Abuja.

Distributors reckon some 50,000 jobs are under threat since the sector juddered to a halt.

"It's going to take a while before it really starts up again," Babatope said.

'New experiences'

To navigate the current troubles the industry has begun pushing its boundaries.

Producer Charles Okpaleke teamed up with two local cinema chains Genesis and Silverbird to launch open-air "Drive-in" facilities.

A first screening in Abuja in late May saw all tickets sell out in just a few hours as viewers flocked to watched his film "Living in Bondage" from the comfort of their own cars.

"COVID forces us to rethink our habits, but it is also an opportunity to try new experiences," Okpaleke told AFP.

Producers and directors are also looking increasingly to the release their films on online streaming services like Netflix and its local competitor Iroko TV.

And even up-and-coming industry hopefuls were given the opportunity to keep on honing their skills despite the disruptions.

French start-up LAFAAC has partnered with cinema school Femis and Nigerian television channel Wazobia to offer online training to would-be scriptwriters via a mobile app.

"Nowadays there is a huge demand for series from Subsaharan Africa despite a relative lack of training," said LAFAAC co-founder Francois Catala.

"I believe that online releases are the future of Nollywood."

France 24

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Nigeria’s epileptic electricity grid collapses again

Nigeria’s national electricity grid, operated from Osogbo in Osun State, again collapsed Tuesday afternoon, leaving the entire country in darkness.

Managed by the Transmission Company of Nigeria, sources at the company confirmed the development to The Guardian as some distribution companies already notified consumers of total blackout.

The grid collapsed in May due to industrial unrest, after it had earlier collapse in April which heightened poor power supply.

Though TCN is yet to clarify the reason for the latest collapse, the grid recorded over eleven system collapse last year.

Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED), the umbrella body of the distribution companies had last year decried the repeated system collapse, stating that TCN’s analogue system caused over 100 electricity grid collapses since the privatisation of the power sector in 2013.

The Guardian

Nigerians go online to demand 'justice' for abuses against women

Large numbers of Nigerians are taking to social media to demand "justice" after a series of high-profile cases of violence against women sparked outrage in the country.

The rallying cries #JusticeForUwa, #JusticeForTina and #JusticeForJennifer have reverberated among internet users in the country, with celebrities also joining virtual campaigns inspired by the Black Lives Matter protests sweeping the United States.

The latest outpouring of anger has been unleashed by the cases of three women and girls who were killed or raped in incidents activists say showcase the widespread sexual violence and police brutality in Nigeria.

In April, an 18-year-old known only as Jennifer was allegedly attacked and raped by a gang of five men in Kaduna, a city in northern Nigeria.

The case only gained attention after her relatives - scared the accused would escape justice - released a video online of family comforting the traumatised teen that was shared tens of thousands of times.

Now, local police say two men have been arrested for rape and three other suspects are being sought.

Two other cases that happened last week prompted more people to express their anger.

A 16-year-old high school student called Tina Ezekwe was shot and killed after police opened fire at a bus stop in Lagos, the country's biggest city. during a nighttime coronavirus curfew.

After an outcry online, the police force said two officers had been arrested and were facing disciplinary action and possible prosecution.

Meanwhile, in southern Edo state, 22-year-old university student Vera Uwaila Omozuma, known as Uwa, was found beaten to death in a church after reportedly being raped.

A female blogger from the area drew the attention of hundreds of thousands of internet users with the hashtag #JusticeForUwa.

Under pressure, the regional governor and police pledged an investigation to track down those responsible for the killing of the microbiology student.

For many in Nigeria, the internet is a key outlet for protests in a country where taking to the streets can often draw a punishing response by security forces.

"Social media is a tool to bring light on police, or institutions," Segun Awosanya, the head of Social Intervention Advocacy Foundation that campaigns against abuses by law enforcement, told AFP news agency.

"Once the light is on them, they have to go back to the cases and dig them up. They can't keep quiet anymore."

Now, the protests rocking cities across the US in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, a Black man, at the hands of white officers, coupled with the power of the online campaigns there against police brutality and racial inequality, appear to be pushing more Nigerians to demand action.

"We see the crowds in America, and its an opportunity to share our pain and our displeasure," Awosanya, who has more than 500,000 followers on Twitter, said.

While the online protests were sparked by violence against women, they have quickly begun tapping into broader anger about the state of the country.

Now, some of Nigeria's biggest stars have ditched their usual reticence to get involved in politics and are speaking out.

"#WeAreTired of senseless killings, lorries falling on road and killing passengers, ACs catching fire and burning houses, young girls getting raped, young boys killed," tweeted Afropop diva Tiwa Sawage to her four million followers.

"Please add your own frustration because my list is long."

Savage has been joined by other celebrities like music producer Don Jazzy, who has 4.6 million followers, and singers Mr Eazi and Rema who railed against rape in the country and police violence.

"The police kills black Americans and the Nigerian police kill Nigerians," Wizkid, a popular singer, wrote in Pidgin to his 6.5 million followers, taking direct aim at President Muhammadu Buhari.

"Buhari/Trump are the same person - only difference is that one knows how to use Twitter."

Al Jazeera

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Nigeria to relax coronavirus curbs on places of worship

Nigeria will relax coronavirus restrictions on places of worship from Tuesday, the chairman of the presidential task force for COVID-19 said.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country where Christianity and Islam are widely practised, has recorded 10,162 confirmed cases and 287 deaths.

Boss Mustapha, the country’s most senior civil servant, also said a lockdown in the northern city of Kano would be eased, one of a number of changes over four weeks from Tuesday.

“Nigeria has not reached the peak of confirmed cases,” Mustapha told reporters.

Another official said the aviation industry had been asked to prepare for the possible resumption of domestic flights from June 21. He added that a national curfew would be shortened to 10 p.m.-4 a.m. from Tuesday, from the current 8 p.m.-6 a.m. order.

Nigeria’s financial sector will also be able to resume normal working hours, said Sani Aliyu, the national coordinator of the task force.

Other curbs remain in place, such as a ban on interstate travel, with a few exceptions, such as for essential workers. And face masks must still be worn in public.

By Felix Onuah


Nigeria to resume film production under coronavirus guidelines

Nigeria's movie industry is set to resume film production which has been banned during lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a producers association.

The Theater Arts and Motion Pictures Producers Association of Nigeria (TAMPAN) announced relaxed restriction on movie production, saying it was in line with the Lagos state government's relaxation order which took effect from June 1.

In a statement reaching Xinhua in Lagos on Tuesday, Bolaji Amusan, TAMPAN's national president, thanked members for abiding by the earlier proclamations of the association to stop shooting of films and other related productions during the pandemic.

He however urged the artists to take the necessary precautionary measures that would protect them from contacting the virus in the course of their work, as the pandemic had not been completely defeated.

He said part of the measures to put in place subsequently on movie locations was that producers must provide soap and running water for constant washing of hands by both the cast and crew members.

"Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness, coughing or sneezing repeatedly, and quickly report such cases to the production managers for necessary actions," Amusan said.

Nigeria's movie industry, also known as Nollywood, is one of the largest film industries in the world in terms of quantity of films produced every year. Nigeria's films and TV series have enjoyed popularity in Africa and even made a hit on international theaters, such as "Lionheart", "Up North", and "Chief Daddy".


Monday, June 1, 2020

Video - Lagos has few bed space for COVID-19 patients

Lagos, which is the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria, is facing a new challenge. It is running out of bed space for patients of the disease. The government of the city now says it would adopt a strategy of home care treatment for mild cases. But experts are warning that could be dangerous. CGTN's Deji Badmus has that report.

Video - Football action set to resume on June 1 in Nigeria

In Nigeria, the country is on course to resume its top-flight professional football league from Monday. Matches were suspended following the coronavirus pandemic and the return of action will be guided by detailed medical protocols and rules. CGTN's Kelechi Emekalam reports.

Nigerian resident doctors issue ultimatum for strike amid COVID-19 fight

Resident doctors in Nigeria have issued an ultimatum to embark on an indefinite strike if the government failed to address their demands within 14 days, as the country continues to battle the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) on Sunday told the media that the agreement to embark on the indefinite strike action was reached on Saturday.

Sokomba Aliyu, the association's national president, said issues affecting the Nigerian healthcare system and welfare of health workers remained their core concerns.

Part of the demands of the NARD from the government included the provision of adequate personnel protective equipment, such as N95 respirators, gloves, and others to all health workers during this pandemic, Aliyu said.

The resident doctors also demanded the prompt payment of their salaries, as well as the immediate recall of their sacked colleagues in central Nigeria. According to the association, 26 resident doctors at the Jos University Teaching Hospital in Nigeria's central Plateau State were illegally disengaged without recourse to the law governing residency training.

The doctors also called on security agencies especially in Lagos, Delta, and Abuja to stop the harassment and assault of doctors while carrying out their legitimate activities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The NARD president noted the shortage of medical staff, especially resident doctors in most health institutions across the country, and called on the government to quickly address the problem.


#JusticeForUwa trends in Nigeria after student murdered in church

There is outrage in Nigeria following the murder of a 22-year-old student, Uwavera Omozuwa in a church.

The hashtag #JusticeForUwa is trending in Nigeria, with her family appealing for help to track down her killers.

Uwavera had been studying in a "quiet" church near her home in Benin City when she was killed, her sister, Judith, told BBC Pidgin.

The student, who had wanted to become a nurse, died in hospital on Saturday, three days after the attack.

Judith Omozuwa said her sister had also been raped.

Her family said they received a call from a woman at the Redeemed Christian Church of God on Wednesday evening.

Uwavera was taken to hospital after a security guard found her, her skirt torn and her shirt covered in blood, Judith Omozuwa said.

'Failure to curb gender-based violence'

However, a police spokesperson in southern Edo State, whose capital is Benin City, told BBC Pidgin that they were treating the incident as a murder, not a rape, case.

The student died following a fight at the church, the spokesperson added, without giving more details.

Uwavera had only just been admitted to the University of Benin to study microbiology when she was killed.

She often went to sit and "read" at the church near her house as it was quiet, her sister added.

Unconfirmed reports in local media said a group of men had entered the church, raping Uwavera and hitting her with a fire extinguisher.

On Tuesday, many Nigerians were angered after a policeman allegedly shot dead a 16-year-old girl, Tina Ezekwe, in the commercial capital, Lagos.

The officer was arrested, police said.

On Twitter, many Nigerians expressed concern about the government's failure to tackle gender-based violence, and questioned whether parents were bringing up boys properly.