The UN says at least 110 civilians have been killed and many injured in attacks on two villages in northeast Nigeria. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack. but the armed group Boko Haram has carried out a series of deadly assaults in the area in recent years. Security forces are looking for dozens more villagers who are missing, many of them women. It is the worst attack on civilians in Borno state this year. President Muhammadu Buhari claimed five years ago that Boko Haram had been defeated.
Monday, November 30, 2020
A yet-to-be identified middle-aged man, accused of attempting to kidnap a boy, was on Saturday beaten to death by a mob in Omuo Ekiti, headquarters of Ekiti East Local Government Area, Ekiti State.
The incident occurred at Iludofin quarters of Omuo Ekiti where the deceased attempted to kidnap a seven-year-old boy but was apprehended by angry youths.
An eyewitness revealed that the incident happened around 2:30p.m. when the pupils were returning from school. He disclosed that the attempted kidnapping went sour when a man, who was defecating in a nearby bush, sighted the deceased and raised the alarm as the suspected kidnapper was forcibly dragging the boy into the surrounding bush.
Residents were said to have trooped out en masse and pounced on the suspect, beating him to coma.
“The suspect was trailing the boy home from school. When he realised that he had reached a footpath, he pounced on him and started dragging him into the bush. It was a man who was looking from afar that raised an alarm and the people caught him in the act and beat him to stupor. It was later that the police arrived and took him to the station.”
While confirming the incident, the Police Public Relations Officer, Ekiti Command, ASP Sunday Abutu, said the man died immediately he got to the police station.
Abutu said it was the High Chief Odofin of Iludofin quarters that reported the matter to the police.
“When we got the information, the police rushed to the scene of the incident, but the man had already gone into coma.
“The mob was thick, but the police tried and rescued him and the intention was to first take him to the station for a cover before taking him to the hospital for medical attention. Unfortunately, he died in the station as a result of the beating”.
Abutu said the suspect’s body had been deposited in the morgue at Omuo Ekiti General Hospital while investigation into the matter continues.
The police spokesman, however, cautioned against jungle justice, advising that any suspect arrested should be handed over to the police for investigation and prosecution.
By Ayodele Afolabi
Scores are dead after armed men on motorcycles gruesomely attacked agricultural workers in northeastern Nigeria.
Officials say the attack occurred Saturday in the country's Borno state. Multiple outlets report that suspected Islamist militants attacked the farmers while they were harvesting the fields in a rural part of the state.
Residents told Reuters at least 70 were killed during attack. A U.N. official in the region, Edward Kallon, said "tens" of civilians were killed.
"The incident is the most violent direct attack against innocent civilians this year. I call for the perpetrators of this heinous and senseless act to be brought to justice," said Kallon, who serves as the resident and humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria.
The U.N. Security Council said that "those responsible for these terrorist attacks should be held accountable."
Reuters reports that 30 of the victims were beheaded in the attack. At least ten women were reportedly still missing as of Sunday.
Though no one has claimed responsibility, Reuters and the BBC note that at least two militant groups are active in the area: Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province.
Both groups have carried out massacres in the region before. More than 37,000 people have died in incidents involving Boko Haram, the Council on Foreign Relationsestimates.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said: "I condemn the killing of our hard-working farmers by terrorists in Borno state. The entire country is hurt by these senseless killings. My thoughts are with their families in this time of grief. May their souls rest in peace," the BBC reported.
On Sunday, 43 of those killed were buried in a service, according to Reuters, where the governor of Borno, Babagana Zulum, called on the federal government to recruit more forces to protect farmers in the area.
Zulum also made reference to rising food prices in the country, while speaking at the burials.
"In one side, they stay at home [where] they may be killed by hunger and starvation, on the other, they go out to their farmlands and risk getting killed by the insurgents," Zulum said, Reuters reported.
By Jason Slotkin
Friday, November 27, 2020
Maradona, who died Wednesday at age 60 in Argentina, led his country almost single-handedly to the World Cup title in 1986, scoring what are considered to be the most infamous and greatest goals in the tournament's history.
His storied career with the Albiceleste came to an abrupt end against Nigeria in Foxborough, Massachusetts, near Boston.
The Super Eagles, making their first World Cup appearance, were brimming with confidence, having won the Africa Cup of Nations a few months earlier, and bursting at the seams with young, exciting talent around an experienced backbone.
But even they were awed by the legend of Maradona.
Midfielder Sunday Oliseh was tasked with the responsibility of keeping close tabs on Maradona, and he explained to ESPN the difficulty of the task.
"When I was playing at Standard Liege, I had a poster of Maradona on my wall with the Argentina team from the 1986 World Cup because, growing up, there were only two players that I could say that really made me dream each time I saw them play: That was Pele and Maradona," Oliseh told ESPN.
"He was going to be my direct opponent during the game. I knew that and so the night before, I went to bed early so I could rest and focus. When we got on the pitch that day, it was just that Nigerian mentality of never wanting to give up that helped me stand up to him. It took us about 10 minutes just to begin to figure him out, because his movement was so unpredictable. Even when he had his back turned to you, it was like he had eyes at the back of his head.
"So after about 10 minutes, I told myself there was only one solution; either brutalize this man or get humiliated. Luckily for me, I was slightly bigger and he was not a 26-year-old anymore. I think that was what helped me. So I can understand how those who played against him in '86 must have suffered.
"If you speak to anyone who has been on the pitch against Diego, they will tell you that he had something that you could never really put your finger on. You may call it an X factor, but it was more than that. It was something you can never describe in words."
Oliseh was 19 at the time, and he said it was an honour to have shared the pitch with Maradona, who was then 33. He says the experience helped him as a player.
"Having had the opportunity to play against him was a very special occasion for me," Oliseh told ESPN.
"Psychologically, it was after that game that I really had the confidence that I could go as far as playing in the biggest clubs in the world because, having been able to compete against him, with the esteem I held him at the time, and still hold for him, it means I could play against anybody."
Goalkeeper Peter Rufai, who conceded twice against Argentina, recalled the nonstop battle of wits that went on between Maradona and himself -- one he has no shame in conceding that he lost.
"He was always looking in my direction whenever he came close to the box," Rufai told ESPN.
"He had this way of always looking at me, always reading me but without making it obvious that he was doing it. Like he was measuring me, my position, and anticipating what I would do next.
"He was like a prowling lion, looking for breakthroughs, for opportunities to break into a solo effort.
"On my part, I kept one eye on him and one eye on the rest of the game. I was tracking him all through because his movement can be devastating. All it would take is one pass or one run so I tried to stay alert. I was always calling [Sunday] Oliseh, or Uche [Okechukwu] or [Augustine] Eguavoen to stay alert.
"Any time he got the ball, I knew it could be a game-changer. So as I watched him, I also tried to anticipate who was available in space for him to pass the ball to. It was an enjoyable tactical battle for me that we played in the field. I enjoyed playing that battle of wits with him all through the game."
Samson Siasia gave Nigeria the lead with a crafty goal, but the Argentines, inspired by whom else but Maradona, stormed back to win 2-1.
Argentina's winning goal was all about Maradona's quick thinking and guile, and Claudio Cannigia's execution.
Rufai explained the winner from his position in Nigeria's goal.
"When the free kick was given, I looked at him and saw him looking so I was trying to anticipate him making a long pass. And at the same time, I was checking my wall while I tried to use my peripheral vision to keep him in view. That was my mistake.
"The next thing I knew, he had disappeared, Cannigia was in front of me, and I saw the ball flying past me like a rocket into the angle.
"I knew it was gone and there was nothing I could do about it, but I just felt like I needed to do something and so I dived even though I knew it was hopeless.
"By the time I took off, the ball was already at its destination.
"It was an honour to play against him, to share the same pitch with him, to see him move. This is someone that many people dream of just meeting but a few of us were fortunate to actually play on the same pitch with him. My heart is broken."
Oliseh said the loss felt from Maradona's death goes beyond football.
"It's a different kind of sadness," Oliseh told ESPN.
"It pains in a way that I cannot describe. It is a very strange feeling, like I felt when I heard about the death of [Nigerian soccer legend Stephen] Keshi.
"We lost something today. The world lost something today, not just football.
"He was the best thing to happen to football. He modernized the sport, he transitioned from what Pele had done and took it to a modern level. I personally hold him and Pele as the greatest ever. They were originators, not imitators."
For 1994 African Footballer of the Year Emmanuel Amunike, another member of Nigeria's midfield in Massachusetts, Maradona's legacy will never fade.
"Maradona represented a lot of things," Amunike told ESPN.
"He was somebody that people like us looked up to as player. Watching him at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico was like magic. To have had the opportunity to play against him was a great privilege for me.
"He will always remain unforgettable, a legend and a great icon."
By Colin Udon
Nigeria has been producing traditional, handmade, beautiful fabric designs for centuries. But preservers of the ancient art say modern manufacturing and cheap Chinese imports threaten this way of life.
Kano’s Kofar Mata dye pit is one of the last surviving hand-coloring textile makers in Nigeria.
Over the years, the workers at the pit have become fewer and fewer due to reduced patronage.
Mamood Abubakar bends over the one-meter deep dye pit in a continuous dipping process that produces rich indigo fabrics.
Abubakar has done this for the last 70 years to earn a living and sustain the tradition, but as he gets older, he worries about the future of the trade.
"This place has been around for more than 500 years," Abubakar said. "Arabs, Whites, and people from all over Africa come here because this business is not a small one. We expect that the youth should desire to be part of it so that when we are gone, they will replace us," he says.
Not far from the Kofar Mata Dye pit is the Kantin Kwari Textile Market, the largest in Nigeria.
Ismaila Abdullahi, a designer at the market, says cheap Chinese manufacturing means it doesn’t make good business sense to produce textiles locally.
"The progress we have made in this business is that we now have our own graphic designer, who draws the designs and sends them to China for them to produce the textiles and send back to us," he said.
Hamma Kwajaffa, the director general of the Nigerian Textile Manufacturers’ Association, blames the decline in locally made fabrics on Chinese imports, which he says are often smuggled into the country.
“They take our designs and go to China and bring it to sell it cheaper. Five yards like this, they will sell it for 1,000 naira, while our factories cannot produce this product at less than 3,000 naira. Because these smugglers they have no workers, they don’t pay taxes, they don’t add any value, so they can afford in sell it cheaper,” he said.
Nigeria’s Central Bank said last month that it has provided cotton producers with more than $300 million in loans in recent years to support the domestic textile industry, once Africa’s largest.
In 2017, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, filling in for the president, ordered the government to give priority to products made in Nigeria when buying uniforms and footwear.
John Adaji, the president of the National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria, says the policy needs to be expanded.
“South Africa had a policy on textile and it simply said, ‘Buy South African — wear South African.’ And they have a tax in force that enforces that. So, it is government. Government must be seen to provide an enabling ground for business,” he said.
Craftsman Abubakar says the government should buy their handmade fabrics and export them to the world if they want these traditional Nigerian textiles survive.
By Ifiok Ettang
Nigerian state-owned Infrastructure Credit Guarantee Company plans to raise additional capital to fund critical projects in Africa’s biggest economy.
The unit of Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority is looking to raise equity and debt capital next year and go into risk sharing with development finance institutions to boost its insurance guarantee capacity, Chief Executive Officer Chinua Azubike said in a telephone interview in Lagos. “You need access to funding to kick-start the economy.”
With Nigeria going through its second recession in four years, President Muhammadu Buhari’s government is seeking to expand investments to help stimulate recovery. Weak institutions and governance frameworks, and a low tax base in Africa’s most populous country, have hindered efforts to build infrastructure, creating a gap that requires at least $3 trillion over 30 years to close, Moody’s Investor Services said in a report last week.
InfraCredit was established to guarantee companies seeking to raise local currency debt for infrastructure development in Africa’s biggest crude producer. It plans to double its guarantee portfolio to 100 billion naira next year and probably exceed that when it raises additional capital of $30 million to $40 million, according to the chief executive.
The Lagos-based company is working on private-sector led telecommunications, health care and agriculture projects in addition to a government road infrastructure it plans to deliver next year, Azubike said.
InfraCredit can help clients raise as much as 20-year funds in the local market, Azubike said. “In addition to our guarantee services, we work with our development partners to render technical assistance to companies to come up with bankable projects.”
By Emele Onu
Thursday, November 26, 2020
Elijah Atinkpo, 26, lost almost everything he owned on April 9, 2017. The police razed the impoverished Nigerian waterfront community of Otodo Gbame. Like 30,000 other evictees, Antinkpo fled without most of his belongings. He lost his art and poetry in the fire. Atinkpo now works for a legal campaign group, Justice and Empowerment Initiatives (JEI). He travels to communities where scattered evictees now live, dedicating himself to achieving justice.The forcible eviction from Otodo Gbame was not an exceptional event. In Lagos, a city of 14 million, land is a precious commodity. The Nigerian government has been accused of displacing poor communities living on prime real estate. Rights groups like Amnesty are calling these forced evictions land grabs. But Antinkpo remains optimistic about the future. He is still holding onto his dream of being a filmmaker, working in Marvel Studios. He wants to see his people reflected in their stories.
BBC Pidgin met up with Emmanuella who showed them around the house.
Aged just 10, Emmanuella Samuel has used her own earnings from YouTube, to build a house for her parents. She has been the star of the popular Nigerian Mark Angel Comedy YouTube channel since the age of five.
Thankful for her ongoing support, Emmanuella says her mother actually deserves an estate.
Wednesday, November 25, 2020
Members of the Nigerian community in Canada are calling on Ottawa to condemn their home country’s decision to freeze 20 bank accounts linked to recent protests against police brutality.
The bank accounts, linked to prominent participants of the #EndSARS protesters have been restricted following a federal court ruling in Abuja and an investigation by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Amnesty International said it has been monitoring developments across Nigeria since the #EndSars protest began last month.
Nigerians have been taking to the streets, peacefully demanding an end to police brutality, extrajudicial executions and extortion by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a unit of the Nigerian police tasked with fighting violent crimes, the human rights group said.
According to Amnesty International, at least 56 people have died across the country since protests began. In multiple cases, the security forces have used excessive force in an attempt to control or stop the protests.
The government says 51 civilians and 22 policemen died as the initially peaceful protests against the excesses of the police’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad, degenerated into days of rioting and looting across most of the country of more than 200 million people.
The Coalition of Nigerians in Canada (CONIC) said the decision to freeze the bank accounts is “obnoxious and a confirmation that it (Nigerian government) had resorted to intimidation and harassment of real and imaginary enemies.”
In a statement carried by Nigerian news portals, CONIC said Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had been turned into an agent of intimidation and could now “frivolously” secure an order to freeze the accounts of the government’s perceived enemies and those they see as the brains behind the #EndSARS movement.
“As Nigerians living in Canada, we do not believe that it is against the law for Nigerian citizens to protest any perceived injustice against police brutality, corruption, and government’s inaction, insensitivity, and fiscal irresponsibility of governments at all levels,” the statement said.
“We, the Coalition of Nigerians in Canada (CONIC) join the other groups of Nigerians in the Diaspora to condemn the government’s action in freezing the bank accounts of free Nigerian citizens while the bank accounts of rogues and bandits in government are left untouched, and are free to enjoy their loots.”
“CONIC will be calling on our host government to intervene and impose economic and diplomatic sanctions if need be. In this age and advancement of democracy all over the world, Nigeria cannot reverse into militocracy by unleashing terror on its people, as is currently apparent,” read the statement, which was signed by CONIC coordinators, Yemi Adegbite, Kemi Amusan and Femi Boyede.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) has also lent its voice to condemn the attacks on the protestors in Nigeria.
“We condemn this violence. The protesters are demanding an end to police brutality; accountability for extrajudicial killings, rape, torture and extortion by police officers; and policing reforms. These demands must be heard and acted upon,” CUPE, Canada’s largest union with over 700,00 members, said in a statement.
“We further join the international community in calling for an impartial, thorough and transparent investigation into all cases of human rights violations by the police, and for access to justice and effective remedies for the victims and their families.”
Meanwhile, the Canadian High Commission in Nigeria, in a notice posted on Twitter, said it has been receiving “great interest” in Canadian immigration programs, in the wake of the unrest.
It clarified that Canadian Embassies, High Commissions, Consulates, Consulates General or Honorary Consulates do not accept refugee applications directly from people.
The High Commission also warned Nigerians not to be taken in by people who claim they can fast track immigration and refugee applications to Canada.
Nigeria is the fourth-leading source country of new arrivals to Canada, behind India, China, and the Philippines. A total of 12,600 Nigerians gained permanent residence in 2019, a tripling of Nigerian immigration to Canada since 2015.
Nigeria is also a hotbed for corruption and visa scams according to reports posted by the Research Directorate of Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada.
By Fabian Dawson
Related stories: Video - Is SARS gone or has it been rebranded?
Tuesday, November 24, 2020
For the past decade and more, Nigeria has been battling Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram in an insurgency that has cost about 30,000 lives and displaced 2.3 million people in and around the northeast region of the country. The group, which has carried out attacks in the country’s capital Abuja as well as in neighboring countries Chad, Cameroon, and Niger, remains very active in the northeast even after splintering into the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) and the Jamaa’atul Ahlis Sunnah (JAS), with both carrying out attacks on civilians, aid workers, and the military.
However, for the past five years, the northwestern part of Nigeria has also become gradually engulfed by violence, with much less media coverage because these attacks have been carried out groups that have been described locally as “bandits”. These are not islamist terrorist groups with international affiliations which would more easily garner global media attentition.
Bandit is used here as a catch-all term to describe numerous groups that have carried out vicious attacks on local communities, killing scores of people, and have also been kidnapping as many as they can for ransoms. Zamfara, Katsina, and Kaduna states are the epicenters of the growing crisis.
The genesis of the lawlessness is not as clear-cut as the Boko Haram insurgency as it is a combination of various factors.
The northwest region makes up just over a quarter of Nigeria’s landmass and is composed of seven states, including some of Nigeria’s poorest. Zamfara and Sokoto have high poverty rates like in the northeast. But unlike the northeast, the northwest region is more homogenous in terms of ethnicity and religion: with the exception of the southern part of Kaduna State and parts of Kebbi State, it is mostly peopled by the Hausa and Fulani ethnic groups, and mostly Muslim.
Most of the actors are Fulani, the ethnic group that spreads across West Africa and is known for being nomadic pastoralists, while the communities being attacked are mostly Hausa farming communities. The current violent dynamic started soon after vigilante groups formed from the Hausa communities for security purposes carried out extrajudicial action against Fulani pastoralists as tensions mounted from increasing competition for land and water resources between the pastoralists and the farmers as the effects of climate change exacerbate.
This has all coincided with an increase in cattle rustling in the regionby armed gangs, again mostly Fulani, using increasingly sophisticated weapons and staging attacks from nearby forests. It is these gangs that have now been attacking communities and killing indiscriminately in a bid to exact revenge. There is also a nexus between the banditry and illegal gold mining in Zamfara state, with the miners accused of being collaborators but have also fallen victimsto the armed gangs.
“The population in the state, which is mainly made up of herders and farmers, have been affected heavily as they have been unable to carry out their economic activities,” says Yusuf Anka, a political commentator based in Gusau, Zamfara’s state capital. “There is arbitrary taxation on the communities by the bandits before they can plant and harvest crops. Everyone in Zamfara has suffered a personal loss to this banditry.”
Given there is very little or even no state presence in most parts of the northwest region beyond its state capitals and major towns, it has become very easy for non-state actors to run rampant in the deep rural areas. It is made worse by the fact the nearby national border in the region is very porous and for many years has become a conduit for smuggling illicit drugs, weapons, and even humans. Together with a high rate of unemployment and poverty, these factors have served to ignite and sustain the seemingly unending cycle of violence.
“It has been terrible in Zandam in the Jibia local government area of Katsina state, where we’ve experienced about five attacks in the last year,” says Gidado Suleiman Farfaru, a local civil society activist in Katsina. “All the resources of the community have been wiped out.” He said three people were killed in these attacks; and another nine people have been reported as kidnapped.
An uncertain calm has returned to the farms and surrounding areas after the government sanctioned the deployment of 60 mobile policemen in the village for the last two months, says Farfaru. The BBC story of the police kidnapping highlights the risk for even uniformed security officials.
But the disruption is not limited to rural areas anymore as there have been numerous kidnappings on major highways in the region and even attacks in cities: for example, traveling on the 190-kilometer expressway linking Nigeria’s capital Abuja and Kaduna is fraught with risk due to the high rate of attacks on travelers. This has made the train link the safer choice for traveling and even an air shuttle servicebeing mooted.
“The deteriorating state of security in the region has also provided opportunities for jihadist groups to take advantage,” says Murtala Abdullahi, a climate, conflict, and security reporter with Humangle News. “There have been reports of the Boko Haram factions trying to extend their reach from the Lake Chad region while groups active in neighboring countries such as Mali, Niger Republic, and Burkina Faso are getting increasingly active close to the region.”
The insecurity is also impacting Nigeria’s agricultural production and food security with more farmers abandoning their farms due to fears of being attacked.
“The insecurity in the northwest is causing significant problems for farmers. In many areas, they now pay bandits to have access to their farms in order to harvest—with fees often ranging in the hundreds of thousands of naira,” says Ikemesit Effiong, the head of research at SBM Intelligence, a geopolitical consultancy based in Lagos. “Even with this quasi-taxation, security is not always guaranteed.”
Effiong is worried about a fast deteriorating situation. “Food insecurity is now a national emergency and the federal and state governments in the northwest need to urgently and closely cooperate to re-establish an adequate security presence in farming areas, so normal activities can resume.”
To be clear, in its efforts to restore security to the region, the Nigerian government has launched numerous military operations over the past four years but with an overstretched military that is deployed in multiple concurrent operations across the whole country, the impact of these operations has been very limited.
“Military approach is important but it needs to be done in a way that is not excessive and targets only the right persons,” says Abdullahi. “Other approaches need to be utilized as well, addressing surrounding issues such as justice, rural development, and state presence, and improving livelihood.”
Other approaches such as a peace deal brokered with the bandits by state governors in the region only held together for a few months before it collapsed, leading to at least one state officially pulling out of the deal. This is likely due to the fragmented nature of the actors in the conflict with so many groups involved such that it is hard to have an agreement binding on all of them.
By Mark Amaza
Related stories: Conflict between Herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria escalates
Monday, November 23, 2020
Nigerian police confirmed on Sunday that the chairman of the ruling All Progressive Congress(APC) in central state of Nasarawa has been kidnapped by unknown gunmen.
Bola Longe, the commissioner of police in the state, told reporters in Lafia, the state capital that state chairman of APC, Philip Shekwo, was abducted from his residence in the Bukan-Sidi area in the state around 11 p.m. on Saturday.
Longe said the police had been deployed to comb the various forests and flash-points in the state to ensure the rescue of Shekwo.
A family member of the APC’s state chairman told media on Sunday the gunmen had not yet contacted the victim’s relatives for ransom.
Abduction is frequently reported in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country. Victims seized by gunmen in the country were usually released unharmed after paying a ransom.
Friday, November 20, 2020
The city thus becomes the sixth new destination announced by the national carrier of Qatar since the start of the pandemic.
The Abuja service will be operated by a Boeing 787 Dreamliner featuring 22 seats in business and 232 seats in economy class.
Qatar Airways Group chief executive, Akbar Al Baker, said: “We are delighted to be launching flights to the capital of Nigeria.
“With the strong Nigerian diaspora in Europe, United States and the UK, we are thrilled to now be flying to Abuja in addition to our existing Lagos flights which started back in 2007.
“We look forward to working closely with our partners in Nigeria to steadily grow this route and support the recovery of tourism and trade in the region.”
By mid-December, Qatar Airways will operate over 65 weekly flights to 20 destinations in Africa, including Accra, Addis Ababa, Cape Town, Casablanca, Dar es Salaam, Djibouti, Durban, Entebbe, Johannesburg, Kigali, Kilimanjaro, Lagos, Luanda, Maputo, Mogadishu, Nairobi, Seychelles, Tunis, and Zanzibar.
Also today, Qatar Airways has unveiled a specially-branded Boeing 777 aircraft painted in a FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 livery, to mark two years to go until the tournament kicks off on November 21st.
The bespoke aircraft, which features distinctive FIFA World Cup, branding was hand-painted to commemorate the airline’s partnership with FIFA.
More aircraft in the Qatar Airways fleet will feature the livery and will visit several destinations in the network.
The Boeing 777-300ER will enter service on tomorrow operating flights QR095 and QR096 between Doha and Zurich.
Al Baker said: “We are tremendously excited to celebrate our partnership with FIFA and Qatar’s status as host of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 by introducing this unique aircraft to our fleet.
“As official partner and official airline of FIFA, we can feel the excitement building with two years to go until we will welcome the world to our beautiful country.”
Breaking Travel News
Nigeria threatens CNN with sanctions but provides no evidence Lekki toll gate investigation is inaccurate
A senior Nigerian minister lashed out against CNN Thursday, saying the network should be sanctioned over its investigation, which uncovered evidence that the Nigerian army and police opened fire on unarmed protestors on October 20.
CNN's investigation focused on a demonstration against police brutality, led by the largely peaceful "#EndSARS" movement.
Minister for Information and Culture Lai Mohammed Thursday dismissed the CNN investigation as "fake news" and "misinformation," repeatedly denying the military used live rounds against protesters.
"Like everyone else, I watched the CNN report. I must tell you that it reinforces the disinformation that is going around, and it is blatantly irresponsible and a poor piece of journalistic work by a reputable international news organization," he told reporters at a press conference in Abuja, in the most significant federal government response so far to the October 20 violence.
"This is very serious and CNN should be sanctioned for that," he said.
CNN stands by its investigation, a company spokesperson said.
"Our reporting was carefully and meticulously researched, and we stand by it," the spokesperson said via email.
The report was based on testimony from dozens of witnesses, and photos and video obtained and geolocated by CNN. It painted a picture of how members of the Nigerian army and the police shot at the crowd, killing at least one person and wounding dozens more.
CNN verified photos and videos acquired from multiple eyewitnesses and protesters using timestamps and other data from the video files. Video footage shows soldiers who appear to be shooting in the direction of protesters. And accounts from eyewitnesses established that after the army withdrew, a second round of shooting happened later in the evening.
Prior to publishing the report, CNN tried multiple times to elicit comment from the Nigerian army and police. A Lagos State police spokesman declined to comment because of an ongoing investigation. While a statement from the Lagos State government said that there would be no comment while a judicial tribunal was underway.
CNN also included comments from army representative Brigadier Ahmed Taiwo, testifying before the tribunal. He denied that soldiers would shoot at Nigerian citizens.
The investigation was broadcast and published on Wednesday and cast doubt on Nigerian authorities' shifting and changing statements over what happened at the protest at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos.
Addressing reporters, Mohammed insisted that "the military did not shoot at the protesters at the toll gate" but fired blank ammunitions into the air, blaming looters for the violence which broke out on the night of October 20.
"Six soldiers and 37 policemen were killed all over the country during the crisis," Mohammed said.
"CNN relied heavily on unreliable and possibly doctored videos as well as information sources from questionable sources to reach these conclusions," he continued.
He did not provide any evidence the videos were doctored.
The CNN report included evidence that bullet casings from the scene matched those used by the Nigerian army when shooting live rounds, according to current and former Nigerian military officials.
Two ballistics experts also confirmed with CNN that the shape of the bullet casings indicate they used live rounds, which contradicts the army's claim they fired blanks.
While the Minister for Information and Culture asserted that "not a single family" has reported the death of relatives during the protest on October 20, the Chief Coroner of Lagos State has since issued a public call for all those who have "lost loved ones between 19 -- 27 October 2020" to come forward and provide evidence which could assist in the "identification exercise."
During his press briefing on Thursday, the Minister denied reports of fatalities at the protest.
"As I said earlier, what started as a peaceful protest against police brutality quickly degenerated into incredible violence despite an immediate response to the demands by the government," he said.
"While we await the Judicial Panel in Lagos to unravel what transpired at the Lekki toll gate, what we can say, based on testimonies available in the public space, is that the world may have just witnessed, for the very first time ever, a massacre without bodies," he added.
According to Mohammed, the National Economic Council (NEC) directed the "immediate establishment" of a state-based judicial panel of inquiry on October 15 -- before the Lekki toll gate incident, but after protests against violence had begun -- to investigate complaints of police brutality and extrajudicial killings.
Eyewitnesses have since told CNN that the government's comments are "lies," making them feel as though they had "hallucinated the whole event."
"Haven't they hurt us enough? I still close my eyes and see the blood and hear the screams," another eyewitness said.
By Ajeck Mangut, Angela Dewan and Nada Bashir
During the press conference, Mohammed said the federal government continues to be "very satisfied" with the role played by security agencies -- especially the military and police -- through the protests.
Thursday, November 19, 2020
Plentywaka, a Nigeria-based transport startup has announced the expansion of its current offering, with the launch of WakaCab, a new car-hailing service that will operate for commuters in the Delta State.
As the first bus-hailing service in the West African country, Plentywaka is renowned for its offering of safe and convenient transport for Nigerian commuters via an easy to use app.
The app allows people to book and pay for a ride in real-time. The startup expands by launching WakaCab which is a new car-hailing service that has trained drivers and is operating for commuters within Delta State beginning with Asaba.
With limited transport links present in Southern Nigeria, Plentywaka aims to solve this with the introduction of WakaCab, a secondary mode of public transport aimed at local commuters.
WakaCab is currently available in Asaba but Plentywaka plans to expand this offering across the region.
In an official press release, Johnny Enagwolor, President and co-founder of Plentywaka, commented on the lack of tech-driven transport systems and the reason for their strategic expansion.
“Expanding the Plentywaka brand into Delta State with a car-hailing service, after launching in 2019 is a testament to our success and the importance of staying true to the vision. But it also shows our commitment to solving the issues of transport in Nigeria; and that does not necessarily mean a one size fits all approach to each state. We recognised that there was a large shortfall in a private car and technology-driven services compared to the other states we operate in, therefore the proposition had to be different for Asaba and Warri.”
How it works
Commuters can book for either personal or shared rides with WakaCab through the Plentywaka app available on Google Playstore and IOS App store.
WakaCab assists with convenience as it locates available taxi’s on the main roads, including Okpanam or Nnebisi Road. Commuting in and out of Asaba and at a later stage, Warri will be made easier through the WakaCab service.
Regardless of location, commuters are able to select a driver within a one to five-kilometer radius and are provided a QR code which then is scanned as riders enter the vehicle.
Payments can be made by cash or Plentywaka’s e-wallet system called Wakapurse.
Plentywaka Vehicle Partnership (PVP) scheme
The startup’s aim to expand into Delta State has resulted in the launch of the Plentywaka Vehicle Partnership (PVP) scheme. This scheme gives users the opportunity to register their own vehicle on the Plentywaka app and allows them to earn over Nigerian naira 250 000 per month.
Users who register their vehicles must pass the company’s official training scheme and vehicle inspection in order to start operating, similar to the model adopted by Uber.
Plentywaka also recently announced their partnership with Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing (IVM) which will contribute to their objective to extend the car-hailing service to the state of Warri. Since September 2019, Plentywaka has been able to attract more than 45 000 customers to its platform.
Vehicle owners who are interested in the PVP scheme can sign up here.
The platform was forced to modify its business model in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic which indicates their ability to adapt to their environment.
Plentywaka’s response to the pandemic was to introduce Logistics by Plentywaka, a logistics aggregator platform that allows users to connect to better, safer, and affordable logistics services, and Staff Bus Solutions which is an exclusive bus service directed at corporate organizations
Related stories: Nigeria gets first electric motorcycles
Wednesday, November 18, 2020
Many girls worldwide face obstacles in their pursuit of careers that are considered male-dominated but this is slowly changing. In northern Nigeria, one female artist is using art to change the narrative in a part of the country where the girl child is hardly given a voice and gender bias is high.
Related stories: Nigeria to build new museum for looted art
On its website, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines announced it would be resuming flights to Nigeria. The airline will fly from Amsterdam to Nigeria starting in December. Nigeria suspended all international flights in March and has slowly been allowing airlines back into its airspace. Nigeria previously banned KLM and seven other major airlines from resuming operations.
In September, the Nigerian Government announced several retaliatory bans against eight airlines. The bans prevented Air France, KLM Royal Dutch, Lufthansa, Royal Air Maroc, Air Namibia, Etihad Airways, and TAAG Angola from operating flights into Nigeria. Additionally, nationals from each airline’s home nation could not travel into Nigeria using another airline.
The ban came in response to several Nigerian nationals traveling on tourist visas being denied entry into other countries amid the ongoing pandemic. Nigeria made it very clear that its airspace would only be open to those who would reciprocate the agreement.
However, the ban seems to have been lifted for KLM as it announced flights would resume in December. Minister of Aviation Hadi Sirika confirmed the news with a tweet stating that Air France and Lufthansa have also been given the go-ahead to resume flights to Nigeria. The Nigerian government also approved Qatar Airways for flights to Abuja.
As well as granting permission to Air France, KLM and Lufthansa, Nigeria is working hard to open other airports in the country and strengthen its international operations. The government shut down all airports in March to prevent the spread of COVID-19, except for humanitarian aid and repatriation flights. In July, the country opened up all airports for domestic routes but only opened Lagos and Abuja airports for international operations.
Now, Nigeria is looking to reopen its other airports, including Kano, Port Harcourt, and Enugu, for international routes. In a briefing at the end of last week, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority director, Musa Nuhu, said that opening other airports is now crucial to help decongest Lagos and Abuja airports.
However, a lack of staff members and several infrastructure issues prevent the airports from reopening immediately. Nigeria’s Coalition Against COVID-19 is working with the aviation authorities to fix issues and provide manpower. Because of the ongoing problems, there is no set date for when the airports will reopen.
Part of the issues stem from the ground handling operations in Nigeria. According to local media, two major companies in Nigeria, Skyway Aviation Handling Company Plc (SAHCO) and the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company Plc (NAHCO), have suffered since the outbreak of COVID-19 and the closure of airports.
Both ground handling companies have let people go since the start of the pandemic in attempts to minimize losses. With new, stricter checks and fewer staff on the ground, turnaround times will take longer. Getting an airport up and running again is more complicated than just restarting operations. With social distancing, new testing facilities, restrictions, and staff layoffs, Nigeria, like other countries, has an uphill battle to get all its airports ready for international visitors.
By Emily Derrick
In February, data showed that, for the fifth year in a row, more Nigerians emigrated to Canada in 2019 than the year before.
Another marker of that exodus is that the number of Nigerians issued permanent residence (PR) permits by the Canadian government has tripled since 2015. In 2019 alone, 12,595 Nigerians were issued the permits.
But while those figures are based on people who moved to Canada through its skilled workers immigration program, Nigerians are also taking other paths to move to the North American country.
In fact, Nigeria is set to end 2020 with the highest number of finalized asylum claims (i.e claims that were either accepted, rejected, abandoned, or withdrawn) to Canada for the fourth straight year. Nigeria overtook China as the country with the highest claims back in 2016. Nigeria’s hold on the top spot is despite a major slowdown in asylum claim rates given global travel restrictions in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. In fact, Canada has seen a 71% drop in finalized asylum claims so far in 2020.
Canada’s “open doors”
While Canada’s skill-based immigration program offers immediate residency permits and a long-term pathway to citizenship, the country’s perceived openness to immigrants, particularly relative to the US in recent years, means it has also become subject to rising asylum claims as well. Canada recently announced plans to welcome an additional 1.2 million immigrants over the next three years.
Canada’s ongoing immigration drive to boost its labor force has added to the country’s appeal for middle-class Nigerians who are increasingly pursuing exit plans to leave Nigeria given the country’s ongoing economic travails. Indeed, for many Nigerians, moving to Canada is also predicated on opening up increased educational and life opportunities for their children, particularly given Nigeria’s precariously low human capital spending. In 2018, Nigeria overtook India as the country with the highest number of people living in extreme poverty.
With refugee protection claims typically based on allegations of persecution in a person’s home country, a range of factors have seen Nigerians jump to the front of the queue, including persecution based on religion and sexual orientation. With homosexuality still criminalized under Nigerian law, it has become an oft-cited reason for Nigerian asylum seekers in Canada: between 2013 to 2017, Nigerians made up about 25% of claims based on sexual orientation.
But the high rate of LGBT-related claims from Nigeria (60% of Nigerians seeking asylum in that period claimed to be bisexualcompared to an average of 12% for other nationals) has raised questions that some of the claims may be fabricated.
Political persecution is also emerging as a factor driving these claims as well, especially in the wake of high-profile protests against police brutality in Nigeria. As several reports and incidents suggest that the Nigerian government is cracking down on the recent EndSARS protest organizers, there has been a spike in local interest in Canada’s refugee protection programs—enough to force the country’s High Commission to Nigeria to clarify the proper channels for seeking these claims.
By Yomi Kazeem
Related stories: Nigerian immigration to Canada is booming
Tuesday, November 17, 2020
The 36-year-old, who spent over a decade in the Italy's Serie A, was dragged from his car by unknown gunmen on Sunday after parking to buy fruit in the southern city of Warri.
"I was forcefully taken at gunpoint on refinery road not too far from my house, blindfolded and forced into the passenger seat of my car," Obodo told BBC Sport Africa, as he revealed dramatic details of his seizure.
"They started punching me and one of them threatened to shoot me in the head if I don't stay calm and quiet, it was at this point that I explained to them who I was and probably not who they were looking for.
"One of them recognised my name as the footballer, that was when I knew I wasn't targeted, but randomly picked up by these guys.
"It was really traumatising because the motives were unclear and being subjected to another abduction is very cruel.
"They took my diamond earrings, wrist watch, necklace and demanded for money, but I told them I only had my bank cards."
To make things even worse for Obodo he was locked in the boot of his car as his abductors decided to empty his account.
"I was kept in my boot for more than four hours. They started emptying my accounts using my two unlimited cards," he said.
"They were driving me to different places, I didn't even know we were still in Delta State. You can tell they are highly experienced in these card transactions.
"They were taking out cash endlessly and took their time with different transactions by removing unlimited cash whilst I was locked up in my boot.
"After they realised they couldn't take out more cash they drove me into a dark spot, where I was dumped later that night and was allowed to leave."
It is the second time the former Perugia, Lecce and Fiorentina player has been kidnapped in his hometown, with the first taking place in June 2012 while he played for Udinese.
Obodo said while this latest incident was random, the trauma has left him broken and feeling unsafe in his country.
"It's sad to say that I no longer feel safe anymore," he told BBC Sport.
"Just to park on the road to buy my mother apple and water melon, only to be seized at gunpoint.
"Imagine travelling on the road where you are all alone. A lot has to be done with security across the country for citizens to feel safe.
"I may have lost money and things money can buy, but now I fear that one day one could lose his life to gun-wielding people who might kill you for not having anything they want."
History of abduction
Kidnappings - more often of oil workers, the rich and famous - are a regular occurrence in Nigeria, but footballers and their families are increasingly being targeted.
In March 2019, the mother of Nigeria international Samuel Kalu was released after being held by gunmen for six days.
It came almost a year after former Chelseas and Nigeria midfielder John Mikel Obi's father was kidnapped for the second time in seven years in June 2018, before being released after a ransom of 10 million naira (about $27,500) was paid.
Back in 2007, France-based defender Onyekachi Apam was kidnapped by armed men who took his car before releasing him.
A year later, the elder brother of Everton defender Joseph Yobo was kidnapped in oil-rich Port Harcourt before being released 10 days later.
By Oluwashina Okeleji
Related stories: Nigeria pays $11 million as ransom to kidnappers in four years
Monday, November 16, 2020
This was made known on Twitter by his son, Olaokun Soyinka. A description of the 524-page book by its publisher, Bookcraft Africa reads: "The novel tells the story of a pact and an alliance formed between four friends, to make an impactful change in their nation. Now in the late stages of adulthood, against an evolving political landscape and a change of government, they drift apart, reunite, navigate complex familial relationships, and increasingly gain recognition in their professions -- all the while, their paths interweave with those of prominent religious, community and government leaders, and the tide begins to turn against them, with dire consequences.
"It is a dramatic and engaging read, laced with humour and extraordinary characters. The read also provides a realistic perspective on the state of affairs in Nigeria, with a depth of commentary. In Soyinka's expert hands, the apparently disparate strands are woven together with a master story-teller's aplomb. Chronicles of the Happiest People on Earth is a great and unputdownable read from start to finish."
The Nobel Laureate, known for his poetry and plays, published two novels, 'The Interpreters' in 1964 and 'The Season of Anomy' in 1972.
By Nathaniel Bivan
Related story: The Canonisation Of Terror
Many Benin bronzes -- a group of more than a thousand prized metal plaques and sculptures looted in 1897 by British troops from the royal palace of the Kingdom of Benin, in modern-day Nigeria -- are at the British Museum and the Ethnological Museum of Berlin.
The possibility of having the objects returned to Benin City in Nigeria's southern Edo state and shown at the future Edo Museum of West African Art has long been a dream for many.
"I am elated," Theophilus Umogbai, curator of the existing National Museum in Benin, told AFP.
"The museum will serve as an identity symbol of the rich cultural arts traditions of Benin people."
Museums in Europe and America have wrestled with a tangle of legal and ethical problems concerning objects taken during the colonial period.
Even in well-documented cases of pillaging, the law often prevents countries from giving them back -- as is the case with the British museum, which could however loan the Benin bronzes to the new Edo museum.
"This project will help us reconnect our past glory to our present realities," Edo state's governor Godwin Obaseki said, announcing the project at an event on Friday.
He said he hopes the overall project "should be far developed if not totally completed" by the end of 2024.
The 10,000-square foot (930-square metre) museum is being designed by David Adjaye, the award-winning architect behind the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, in Washington.
The Ghanaian-British architect hopes that the building in Nigeria will have "a place on the world stage."
"It is not just enough to give back objects that were taken but to also collaborate and make this a world class centre."
In addition to the museum, an archaeological excavation project will begin in 2021, at a site adjacent to the palace of the Oba, Benin's traditional ruler.
The British Museum and the Legacy Restoration Trust have already secured the equivalent of $4 million of initial funding, according to a statement from the London museum.
Hartwig Fischer, director of the British Museum, said that the new Nigeria museum "will surely become one of the most significant museum initiatives in the coming decades."
Last month, French lawmakers voted unanimously to return artefacts to Benin and Senegal -- although it remains a small number compared to the estimated 90,000 artefacts the country holds from all over Africa.
A group of unidentified gunmen attacked a polytechnic in Nigeria’s northern state of Kaduna, abducting a lecturer and two children, local police said Sunday.
Mohammed Jalige, a police spokesperson in Kaduna, who confirmed the incident to Xinhua on the phone, said police operatives have been deployed to secure the area, track the perpetrators and rescue the victims.
The gunmen invaded the Nuhu Bamali Polytechnic in the Zaria area of the state late into the night on Saturday, said Abdullahi Shehu, an information officer for the polytechnic, adding the victims were taken away with force.
The gunmen shot sporadically into the air to scare the students and teachers after they forced their way into the school.
The lecturer, who teaches at the School of Engineering, Department of Electrical and Electronics of the polytechnic, was later taken away from his residence to an unknown destination.
Shehu said the father of the two abducted children was injured by the gunmen and was receiving treatment at a hospital.
Friday, November 13, 2020
The management of Dangote Refinery and Petrochemicals has disclosed that the 650,000 barrels per day project will create jobs for not less than 250,000 Nigerians when completed and fully operational next year.
Group Executive Director, Strategy and Capital Projects, Dangote Industries Limited, Mr. Devakumar Edwin, told reporters at the site that the company’s Refinery has potential to turn around Nigeria’s economy with the employment of thousands of Nigerians for direct and indirect jobs.
He said the huge unemployment rate of Nigerian youths and the need to make the country self-reliant in fuel consumption and attract much needed foreign exchange through export of the products were reasons that motivated the President of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote to venture into manufacturing
The Dangote Group boss said he was very optimistic that the refinery will be a game changer for Nigeria and the rest of Africa.
According to him, the Dangote Industries Limited has succeeded in substantially reducing the high rate of unemployment in the country, with the conglomerate already recruiting youths from its various agricultural scheme and also into its other subsidiaries. Dangote Industries Limited is the highest employer of labour outside the federal government.
In the same vein, Edwin also assured that, other things being equal, Dangote Fertilizer plant’s products will hit the market this month.
A military officer just threatened a colleague's driver after wrongfully overtaking her on their way to Kaduna— My name is Dare Kuti (@dkuti82) November 10, 2020
He threatened d guy life & promised to deal with him.
In his words: "I will kill you and nothing will happen"
Cc @AIT_Online @instablog9ja @bellanaija pic.twitter.com/HStyljioEv
An unidentified Nigerian soldier has been caught on camera assaulting a driver for overtaking his car on the Abuja-Kaduna road, North-central Nigeria.
The incident, which happened on November 10, was captured in a video posted on Twitter by a sports journalist, Dare Kuti.
Mr Kuti told PREMIUM TIMES he witnessed the incident and that his colleague was being driven by the victim from Abuja to Kaduna when the incident happened.
“Oga abeg, wetin I do you?” the driver, apparently frightened, is heard in the video speaking in Pidgin to the approaching soldier.
The soldier forcefully opened the car door, stretched his right leg into the car and continually hit the driver. The victim could be heard screaming in pain.
The soldier jumped inside the front seat of the car and kept punching the man who appeared too frightened to fight back.
“You are talking to me? You are talking to me? Are you mad?” the soldier shouted as he kept punching the man who later fell off from the car and was on the ground, writhing.
The soldier kicked him again and then shouted, “God punish you! I will kill you and nothing will happen. You are an idiot!”
Some sympathisers are seen in the video begging the soldier to have mercy on the man, while others tried to help the victim up from the ground.
The soldier entered his maroon colour Honda car and drove away after the incident, the video showed.
PREMIUM TIMES on Thursday spoke with the driver who identified himself as Dauda Mustapha.
Mr Mustapha, a commercial driver who plies the Abuja-Kaduna route, said he overtook the soldier, after the latter drove roughly from a filling station into the road.
He said when they got to an unmotorable spot on the road, the soldier used his car to block his and then came down to assault him.
“My car no even touch him car! Him say why me I overtake-am,” Mr Mustapha said.
Mr Mustapha said the soldier beat him with a timing belt and also broke his car’s windscreen.
“I talk-am for my mind say till I die I no go forgive-am. I no know wetin I do-am. I get wound for my body. As I dey talk with you, headache dey wori me,” the driver said.
A spokesperson for the Nigerian army, Sagir Musa, did not respond to calls and a text message asking for his comment.
Nigeria has a deteriorating human rights record. With a weak criminal justice system, citizens, frequently assaulted by security officials, appear helpless.
“The government took some steps to investigate alleged abuses but there were few public reports of prosecutions of officials who committed violations, whether in the security forces or elsewhere in the government,” the U.S. Department of State said in a 2019 report on the human rights situation in Nigeria.
“Impunity remained widespread at all levels of government. No charges were filed in some of the significant allegations of human rights violations by security forces and cases of police or military extortion or other abuse of power,” the report said.
A few days ago, some soldiers in Ibadan, Nigeria’s South-west, were caught on camera flogging one woman in public whom they accused of “indecent dressing”.
In Delta State, Nigeria’s South-south, soldiers last month reportedly forced a medical doctor to swim in the mud for “violating curfew”.
Young people across various states in Nigeria recently protested for days against police brutality in the country.
“This is barbaric. I feel totally disgusted watching this. Scenes like these just fuels so much anger and hatred towards the establishment,” one Twitter user, Isidore Akpaetuk (@IsidoreAkpaetuk), commented on the video showing the soldier assaulting the driver, Mr Mustapha.
By Cletus Ukpong
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