Friday, April 30, 2021

Cameroon Military Says It Pushed Boko Haram Fighters into Nigeria

YAOUNDE, CAMEROON - Cameroon's military said Wednesday its troops pushed back about 80 terrorists from Fotokol, a town on the border with Nigeria.

The statement said the Boko Haram fighters were from the Nigerian town of Wulgo in Borno State.

Cameroon's military said it killed several fighters in clashes this week, but Boko Haram escaped with all but two of the bodies. The military said it destroyed six war jeeps and seized a large arsenal, including machine guns and assault rifles.

The military said Monday's operation was led by troops of the Multinational Joint Task Force of the Lake Chad Basin Commission.

A military spokesperson, Navy Captain Atonfack Guemo Cyrille Serge, said the operation freed several civilians who had been abducted by the militants.

Nineteen-year-old Zumbaisi Babale, who witnessed the abductions, said the fighters took away his elder sister and a man with whom she was seeking refuge in their village church. He said he hid under a bench until the fighters left, then the military took him to their base for protection.

Midjiyawa Bakari, governor of Cameroon's Far North region, said Boko Haram fighters are still lurking near the border, and civilians should report strangers in their towns and villages.

He said via a messaging app from the northern town of Maroua that the military has been mobilized to be alert all along Cameroon's border with Nigeria and Chad. All travelers and their goods will be checked to protect Cameroon's territory from Boko Haram and any rebel group that attempts to penetrate, Bakari added.

Monday's attack came a week after Chad announced the death of its president, Idriss Deby.

Conflict resolution specialist Joseph Vincent Ntouda Ebode of the University of Yaounde said the terrorists may have mobilized thinking that Chad had called back its troops and there were fewer soldiers fighting Boko Haram.

He said the terrorists know that Chad, which contributes a significant number of troops to combat Boko Haram, is now concentrating on stopping its internal security threats. For that reason, he said, Cameroon and Nigeria should remobilize their troops because Boko Haram terrorists will intensify attacks since they are aware that Chad has other priorities.

It is not known if the Transitional Military Council in Chad will be as devoted as Chad's late president in fighting Boko Haram, Ebode added.

There are about 8,000 troops in the multinational joint task force fighting Boko Haram.

The task force has not indicated whether Chad withdrew its troops.

By Moki Edwin Kindzeka


Nigeria's central bank sacks entire board of First Bank of Nigeria

Nigeria's central bank on Thursday sacked the entire board of First Bank of Nigeria and appointed new directors, the regulator said in a statement, citing the previous board's "sweeping changes" without alerting regulatory authorities.

First Bank of Nigeria (FBN) did not respond to calls seeking comment.

The bank had been in "grave financial condition" when the regulator become involved in its management "to maintain financial stability" in 2016, giving it authority over FBN's operations, the central bank said.

The sacking of the board on Thursday was done "in order to preserve stability of the bank, so as to protect minority shareholders and depositors," said the regulator.

"The actions being taken are meant to strengthen the bank and position it as a banking industry giant," it said.

Nigeria's central bank has powers to remove bank executives and used them during the 2008/2009 global financial crisis when it sacked nine CEOs at banks that were under-capitalised.

The regulator in 2016 sacked top executives of Skye Bank over capital adequacy issues, having in 2015 given three commercial banks time to recapitalise after they failed to hit a minimum capital adequacy rate of 10%.

By Chijioke Ohuocha


Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Nigerian lawmakers demand action on security crisis

Nigeria's parliament called on the presidency, armed forces and police to address the country's mounting security crisis on Tuesday, with the lower house urging President Muhammadu Buhari to declare a state of emergency.

The resolutions come as a wave of violence and lawlessness sweeps across Africa's largest economy. Security forces, including the military deployed across most of Nigeria's states, have shown little ability to stem the tide.

"The president should immediately declare a state of emergency on security so as to fast track all measures to ensure the restoration of peace in the country," said a resolution passed by the lower house.

In the northwest, gunmen have kidnapped more than 700 schoolchildren since December, as militants pillage communities in the region. read more

In the northeast, the armed forces are still struggling in a 12-year war with Boko Haram and Islamic State's West Africa branch. On Sunday, more than 30 soldiers died in an attack, soldiers and a resident said.

"The nation is on fire," said Smart Adeyemi, a senator in Buhari's ruling party. "The president must rise to the occasion and bring in people to save this country or else we will be consumed. We cannot keep quiet any longer."

The senate upper house called for "massive recruitment" for the military and police and procurement of new equipment for security forces.

Meanwhile, the senate also resolved for its leadership to meet Buhari to discuss the insecurity, and invite Nigeria's army chief and other commanders and intelligence chiefs to speak on the matter.

The military did not immediately respond to calls and messages seeking comment. A presidency spokesman declined to comment.

Earlier on Tuesday, Rivers state, in Nigeria's oil-producing heartland, said it will ban people crossing its borders at night due to insecurity.


Friday, April 23, 2021

Nigeria's Buhari condemns killing of 'tens' of villagers

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has condemned the killing of "tens" of villagers in restive northwestern Zamfara state and ordered security forces to hunt down the perpetrators.

Local residents said as many as 60 people could have been killed in Wednesday's rampage in about a dozen villages in the state but only nine bodies had been recovered.

Police and government officials could not immediately confirm the death toll.

Heavily-armed criminal gangs known locally as "bandits" have become a growing security challenge in northwest Nigeria, ransacking villages and carrying out mass abductions for ransom.

In a statement late Thursday, Buhari said "such wanton disregard for life will be brought to an end sooner than later."

He ordered security forces to rid the region of "frequent and horrifying bandit activities."

"The violence against poor villagers who are struggling with poverty and other severe economic challenges is not going to be tolerated by this administration," he said.

"Let's not give these criminals any opportunity to succeed by taking the war to their own camps and stop them in their tracks before they even have the time to respond under our massive fire power."

Local residents said motorcycle-riding gunmen stormed 13 villages in Magami district of Zamfara state on Wednesday, shooting residents, looting and burning homes.

- Gunmen on motorbikes -

The villages included Kangon Farimana, Ruwan Dawa, Madaba, Arzikin Da, Mairvairai, Gidan Maza, Unguwa Malam and Katohin.

"These are neighbouring villages and the bandits rode in motorcycles, shooting anyone at sight," resident Halliru Bala told AFP.

"Most of those killed were volunteers who mobilised to help fend off the attacks," he said.

"We buried nine people yesterday (Wednesday) here in Magami but we are still looking for 51 others," he said.

"We believe they were killed and their bodies are lying in the villages which have been deserted following the attacks."

Another resident, Babangida Ilu said villagers had fled the communities.

"We are still afraid to go into our villages to pick the dead because the bandits are still around nearby bushes and would attack whoever goes back," he said.

"Only nine out of the 60 people we lost in the attacks were recovered and buried. The rest are still scattered in the villages. We are afraid to go there because of the bandits."

Ilu said the gunmen looted food supplies and burnt homes during the attacks.

"The bandits went from village to village on a killing spree which made people to flee," said Altine Musa, another resident.

Zamfara has been the hardest hit by bandits in the volatile northwest despite a government offer of amnesty in exchange for renouncing violence and surrendering their weapons.

Nigerian police said on Tuesday they had killed 30 gunmen after the criminals raided some villages and slaughtered 10 people in the state.

Criminal gangs have recently targeted schools and colleges for kidnapping attacks, hoping to get ransom payments out of the authorities.

On Tuesday, some students were seized from private Greenfield University in Kaduna state while a member of staff was killed, in the fifth such attack since December.


Search Underway for Kidnapped Students from Nigeria’s Kaduna State

Nigerian officials say gunmen abducted several college students in the country’s north central state of Kaduna late Tuesday, killing at least one school official. The attack is the fifth high-profile abduction of Nigerian students since December, and it comes nearly one month after gunmen kidnapped 39 students in Kaduna.

School authorities at Greenfield University in Nigeria’s Kaduna state are conducting a headcount and investigating the attack, but say initial figures show at least 20 students are missing. A staff member was also found dead after the raid.

Local police search team has launched a rescue operation for the missing students.

The attack is the fifth in a series of mass kidnappings in the country's north since December, exacerbating an already bad security situation in the West African nation, said security expert, Ebenezer Oyetakin.

"It's worrisome and disturbing. The problem is that I think we do not have enough proactive intelligence gathering,” said Oyetakin.

It is not clear if all the missing students were kidnapped by local criminal gangs who often kidnap for ransom.

But the U.N. children's agency, UNICEF, said more than 700 students have been kidnapped from schools in northern Nigeria since December.

Nigerian states like Kaduna, Niger, Katsina, Yobe and Zamfara have been the hardest hit. Last month, 39 students were taken from another college in Kaduna, and only 10 of them so far have been released.

In another attack this week in nearby Zamfara state, barely 24 hours after the school attack, local dailies reported 45 people were killed.

Nigerian authorities repeatedly have pledged to secure the country’s citizens, but the recurrent attacks have drawn criticisms by right groups demanding accountability.

"We believe that why the crimes have continued is because of lack of accountability. Impunity always leads to further commission of crimes by perpetrators," said Seun Bakare of Amnesty International.

No one has been prosecuted so far since the wave of kidnappings began last year.

Amnesty International reports more than 600 schools have been shut down in at least six states in Nigeria’s north where education has been shaky.


Related stories: Video - 279 kidnapped Zamfara schoolgirls released

In Nigeria, an agonising wait for parents of 300 abducted girls

Video - More than 300 schoolgirls abducted in Northwest Nigeria

Video - Why are school children increasingly being kidnapped in Nigeria?

Video - Freed schoolboys arrive in Nigeria’s Katsina week after abduction

American rescued in daring SEAL Team 6 raid in Nigeria

Nigeria pays $11 million as ransom to kidnappers in four years

Two police officers arrested for the kidnapping of Okonjo-Iweala's Mother

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

YouTube shuts down prominent Nigerian megachurch preacher's channel for 'gay curing' claims

A popular Nigerian televangelist has urged his followers to "pray for YouTube" for shutting down his account after he posted videos on his channel claiming to 'cure' gay members of his congregation of their sexuality.

"I got to know what happened to YouTube when I saw the viewers complaining... I want you to help me pray for YouTube... Don't see them the other way around; see them as friends. We need to be strong," T.B. Joshua said in a sermon posted on the ministry's Facebook page at the weekend.

The YouTube channel of The Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) -- run by Joshua -- was deactivated last week and can no longer be viewed by its nearly two million subscribers.

OpenDemocracy, a media rights group based in the UK, told CNN that it sent a message to YouTube on April 8 asking if the conversion therapy videos did not violate its policies.

"We noticed at least seven videos. In one video, T.B. Joshua slapped a woman and her partner whom he called her 'second' (partner) at least 16 times," said Lydia Namubiru, OpenDemocracy's Africa Editor.

"He said he was casting the 'spirit of woman' out of her," Namubiru said as she narrated the content of the footage flagged to YouTube and Facebook by her organization. The woman later told Joshua that she no longer felt affection for her partner because of his intervention, Namubiru said.

"In yet another, a young person... is slapped several times and his dreadlocks are shaven off before he testifies that he is no longer attracted to men," Namubiru added.

YouTube has not issued a public statement on the matter. CNN attempted to contact YouTube for comment but was not successful.

CNN saw an email sent to OpenDemocracy on April 13 by a YouTube spokesperson who stated: "YouTube's Community Guidelines prohibits hate speech and we remove flagged videos and comments that violate these policies. In this case we have terminated the channel... We reviewed the videos flagged to us and took appropriate action, which resulted in the termination of the channel."

'Prosperity gospel'

Emmanuel TV, the broadcast arm of the church, airs in Africa on DSTV -- a satellite service owned by South African firm MultiChoice.

SCOAN plays host to dozens of international guests, and local celebrities, who visit the worship center for prayers.

In 2011, Joshua was listed by Forbes as the third-richest pastor in Nigeria with an estimated net worth of between $10 - $15 million.

In a statement posted on Facebook last week, T.B. Joshua Ministries said it would appeal the decision by YouTube to suspend its channel.

"Emmanuel TV's mission is to share the love of God with everyone -- irrespective of race or religion -- and we strongly oppose all forms of hate speech! We have had a long and fruitful relationship with YouTube and believe this decision was made in a haste... we are making every effort to appeal this decision and see the channel restored," the statement said.

The Lagos-based megachurch also called on millions of its followers to protest on social media -- Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube -- against YouTube's action.

Reacting to Joshua's doctrinal methods, a spokesman for the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), an umbrella body of Christian groups in the country, told CNN that the association "does not interfere in how churches are run or how individuals operate their worship centers."

The YouTube sanction poses a big blow to Joshua, whose ministrations and humanitarian outreaches in different parts of the world are showcased on the popular video platform.

Joshua rose to prominence in the late 1990s following the boom of "prosperity gospel" -- a Pentecostal doctrine that hinges good health and financial blessing on the depth of faith an individual is able to demonstrate.

He, however, suffered national infamy in 2014, after a building on SCOAN's premises collapsed, killing more than 100 people -- most of whom were foreigners from South Africa, Chinese state media, CCTV reported


Related stories: Evangelist T.B. Joshua to be sued for building collapse that left 115 dead in Lagos, Nigeria

26 people rescued in human trafficking bust in south Nigeria

At least 26 persons including 19 children have been rescued from trafficking during a law enforcement operation in Nigeria’s southern state of Edo, authorities said on Tuesday.

In a statement, Kontongs Bello, a police spokesperson in Edo, said the victims comprise 19 children, one teenager and six women who were trafficked from the southeast states of Ebonyi, Imo, Abia, Anambra and Akwa Ibom.

He said they were heading toward Evbuotubu in Ekenwan road axis of Benin city before rescue came their way.

According to the police spokesman, the women were lured from their various home states by a woman named “Jennifer”, noting that the suspect is now on the run.

“They were lured in a guise that Edo state government is giving financial support to single mothers with newborn babies especially twins,” he said.

“The women said they were forced to go for street begging for their mistress Jennifer. They further stated that only peanut is given to them to take care of their children,” he said.

By David Ochieng Mbewa


Related story: New Nollywood film shines a light on human trafficking in Nigeria


Monday, April 19, 2021

Video - Nigerian duo changing how locally made gin is perceived


'Ogogoro' or as it's commonly known, local gin, is consumed not only throughout Nigeria but across the West and Central African region. On Grassroot tonight, CGTN's Wilkister Nyabwa brings you the story of Pedro's, the Nigerian brand that's refining and rebranding 'ogogoro' to meet growing demand for premium spirits amid the pandemic.

At least 7 killed in Nigeria's fuel tanker explosion

At least seven people have been confirmed dead following a tanker explosion in Nigeria's north-central state of Benue, an official said on late Sunday.

The fire was caused by a tanker, which lost control and fell after experiencing brake failure, according to Yakubu Mohammed, head of the state's Federal Road Safety Corps.

About 50 houses were destroyed in the fire accident occurring at the Agatu local government area of the state on Sunday, confirmed Emmanuel Shior, a staff member of the state's Emergency Management Agency, adding that a detailed assessment would be carried out on Monday.


Nigeria records lowest daily COVID-19 infections in one year

Nigeria on Sunday recorded 26 new coronavirus infections, the lowest daily figure recorded since April 15, 2020, when Nigeria recorded 11 infections.

At that time, the disease had just started spreading in a few states with only about 400 infections recorded in the entire country.

Sunday also became the sixth consecutive day that Nigeria recorded no daily fatality from the virus which has caused over 3 million deaths globally and over 2,000 deaths in Nigeria in the past year.

Sunday’s tally brings the total number of infections in the West African nation to 164,233.

This is according to an update published by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Sunday night.

While some countries such as Brazil and India are witnessing a resurgence in COVID-19 infections, Nigeria has witnessed a massive reduction in new cases from an overage of over 1,000 daily cases between December 2020 and February 2021, to less than 200 in the past month.

Also, with no new deaths in the past six days, the fatality toll from COVID-19 in Nigeria remains 2,061, according to the NCDC data.

Only three deaths have been reported from the pneumonia-like disease in Nigeria in the past two weeks, an indication that Africa’s most populous nation has gone past its worst phase, although experts warn it might be too early to celebrate.

There is still low testing for the disease across Nigeria, a situation health experts believe could be masking the severity of the outbreak.


The 26 new cases were reported from six states- Ebonyi (10), Lagos (9), FCT (2), Kano (2), Osun (2), and Oyo (1).

Since the pandemic broke out in Nigeria in February last year, the country has carried out over 1.8 million tests.

More than two-thirds of the over 164,000 people infected by COVID-19 in Nigeria have recovered after treatment.

According to NCDC data published Sunday night, a total of 154,332 people have recovered after treatment.

The data showed that the country’s active COVID-19 cases increased by 19, bringing the total number of people being treated for the virus to 7,840.

More than 140 million people have been infected with COVID-19 globally leading to over 3 million deaths, according to


Having received 3.94 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines through the COVAX facility in early March, Nigeria commenced vaccination beginning with healthcare workers and other priority groups.

Nigeria on March 21 received another 300,000 doses of the same vaccine from telecom giant, MTN. On April 6, the government of India also delivered 100,000 doses of vaccine to Nigeria, bringing the total number of vaccines in stock to about 4.4million.

The Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Faisal Shuaib, on Friday, announced that about 1,071,346 Nigerians considered “eligible” for the first phase of the rollout have been vaccinated six weeks into the process.

Nearly 900 million vaccine doses have been administered worldwide, equaling 11 doses for every 100 people, according to latest figures from research and data provider firm, Our World in Data.

The U.S is leading in the vaccination race, having inoculated nearly 200 million of its population. It is closely followed by China with over 183 million people vaccinated in the Asian country.

Africa has the lowest vaccination rate of any continent, with many countries yet to start mass vaccination campaigns.

By Ebuka Onyeji

Premium Times

Friday, April 16, 2021

Media portrayal of Nigeria led Twitter to choose Ghana for Africa office -minister

Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) failed to choose Nigeria for its first African office because the media misrepresents the country, its information minister said on Thursday, citing coverage of police reform protests last year.

The social media giant on Monday said it would set up its first office on the continent in neighbouring Ghana, as the company seeks to make inroads in some of the world's fastest-growing markets. read more

Nigeria, Africa's biggest economy, has a thriving technology sector that has attracted international investors but faces numerous security challenges including a decade-long Islamist insurgency in the northeast, mass abductions from schools in the northwest and piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.

Rights group Amnesty said soldiers and police shot dead at least 12 people on Oct. 20 after largely peaceful protests calling for police reforms in the wake of alleged brutality turned violent. The military and police deny the allegations.

"This is what you get when you de-market your own country," Information Minister Lai Mohammed told reporters, in a video posted on Twitter by his ministry, when asked about Twitter's decision.

"Nigerian journalists were...painting Nigeria as a hell where nobody should live," he said of coverage of the protests in which Twitter users coalesced behind the #EndSARS hashtag in reference to the widely feared Special Anti-Robbery Squad that was disbanded after abuse allegations surfaced.

"The natural expectation would have been for Nigeria to be the hub for Twitter in this part of Africa," said Mohammed.

In the weeks before the shootings, protesters used social media to organise, raise money and share what they said was proof of police harassment. Twitter's CEO, Jack Dorsey, tweeted to encourage his followers to contribute to the protests using bitcoin.

Mohammed, days after the circulation of images, video and an Instagram live feed of the incident, said "some form of regulation" could be imposed on social media to combat "fake news".

Twitter described Ghana as "a champion for democracy" and "a supporter of free speech, online freedom, and the Open Internet".

By Alexis Akwagyiram


Rising Food Costs Add to Misery of Nigeria’s High Unemployment

Nigerian merchant Feyintola Bolaji, struggling with stagnant earnings and dwindling sales, is now being squeezed by the ever increasing prices demanded by her food suppliers, leading her to cut down on the amount she can put on her own family’s table.

Bolaji’s belt tightening is being shared by millions across Africa’s most populous nation. Not long after Nigeria’s statistics agency revealed that one in three people in the continent’s largest economy were unemployed, on Thursday it announced that food inflation has accelerated at the highest pace in 15 years, compounding the misery of many households.

“It is really bad, I can’t simply afford to give my children what they really need in terms of food,” said Bolaji, a mother of three in her 50s based in the southwestern city of Ibadan. “I try to make them get the nutrients they need as growing children, but it is not enough,” she said, adding “I have had to cut down on meat and fish.”

Insurgency, unrest, and President Muhammadu Buhari’s government’s stand on food imports in a nation where more than half the population lives on less than $2 a day, are issues worsening food insecurity in the African country. Meanwhile, the coronavirus pandemic has robbed 70% of Nigerians of some form of income, according to a Covid-19 impact survey published by the statistics agency last month.

Food inflation rose to 22.95% in March, caused by wide-ranging price increases across items such as cereals, yam, meat, fish and fruits. Those soaring costs have been in part blamed on a worsening conflict between farmers and herders in Nigeria’s agriculture belt that the Buhari has struggled to quash.

The unrest, combined with the more than decade-long Boko Haram insurgency in the north, a weakening currency and higher fuel prices have also contributed to rising food prices, according to SBM Intelligence, a Nigerian research firm.

The situation has also been exacerbated by import restrictions on certain staples, such as rice, that have remained in place despite Buhari reopening Nigeria’s land borders in December following a 16-month shutdown in an attempt to end rampant smuggling.

Food prices will remain elevated until the security crisis, which has prevented farmers from returning to their land, is resolved, said Cheta Nwanze, a lead partner with SBM Intelligence. That’s “unless the government does the sensible thing and allows food imports to happen,” he said.

Until then Nigerians, who already spend more than half their earnings on food, have had to cut down. Just over 50% of all households reported reduced consumption between July and December last year due to the twin pressures of falling wages and rising food costs, according to Nigeria’s statistics agency.

Kemi Adedigba, a 42-year-old freelance writer living in Lagos, the country’s financial hub, is among those who has been hit by that double-whammy. Adedigba has two growing teenagers to feed, but is struggling with a steady drop in work even as her monthly food bill climbed by almost 70% since December.

“You are lucky if you get recurring gigs with the way the economy is going down the toilet,” she said. “It is a nightmare.”

By Anthony Osae-Brown and Ruth Olurounbi


Tens of thousands forced to flee violent attacks in Nigeria’s Borno State

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is deeply concerned as up to 65,000 Nigerians are on the move following a series of attacks by armed groups on Damasak town, in northeast Nigeria’s restive Borno State. Initial reports indicate that eight people were killed, and a dozen injured.

Following the latest attack on Wednesday 14 April, the third in seven days, up to 80 per cent of the town’s population —which includes the local community and internally displaced people— were forced to flee. Assailants looted and burned down private homes, warehouses of humanitarian agencies, a police station, a clinic and a UNHCR Protection Desk. Those fleeing include Nigerians and Niger nationals living in the area.

While many fled towards Borno State capital city, Maiduguri, and to Geidam town in neighbouring Yobe State, others crossed into Niger’s Diffa region. Our staff and partners in both countries immediately deployed assessment missions to identify the most pressing needs and tailor the response.

Due to insecurity, however, humanitarian access is increasingly challenging in many parts of Nigeria’s Borno State, including for UNHCR staff, who were forced to temporarily relocate out of Damasak this week.

Despite the challenges, we stand ready to assist those newly displaced people we can reach.

Violence in the Lake Chad Basin has uprooted 3.3 million people, including over 300,000 Nigerian refugees and some 2.2 million displaced within North East Nigeria, especially in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States. More resources will be needed to respond to this new emergency since funding for our Lake Chad Basin operation is already critically low with only 14 per cent of the US$ 128.4 million requested received so far.


Wednesday, April 14, 2021

The NFT Craze Is Helping Nigerian Artists Go Global

In March, Oyindamola Oyekemi Oyewumi, a 24-year-old Nigerian artist who creates portraits using ballpoint pens, tweeted her drawing of Ethereum co-founder Charles Hoskinson.

Hoskinson noticed the tweet and put it up for sale as a non-fungible token (NFT), or one-of-a-kind digital item with its own digital signature. By the end of the month, the tweet sold for $6,300 and now it’s Hoskinson’s Twitter profile picture.

“Luckily for me, Hoskinson himself told me about NFTs. He gave me a link to read about NFTs and, after reading about it, I decided I want to try it out,” Oyewumi told CoinDesk. Last week Oyewumi sold the first NFT she minted by herself on Mintable, and a friend helped her convert her crypto earnings to the local naira currency.

NFTs are all the rage this year, especially after the artist Beeple sold a digital art collage for $69.3 million through the British auction house Christie’s in March. Christie’s also announced Thursday it will be selling nine NFT collectibles known as CryptoPunks. This month, American-Senegalese R&B singer Akon launched AkoinNFT, an NFT platform to “supercharge and empower” artists and brands.

Now the trend has spread to Nigeria, where local financial institutions are banned from servicing crypto firms. This means Nigerians cannot convert digital assets to naira through traditional crypto exchanges. But that hasn’t wiped out crypto in Africa’s largest economy, thanks in part to its young and tech-savvy population. Users began switching to peer-to-peer platforms to avoid using banks and the use of crypto continues, as evidenced by how local artists like Oyewumi are embracing NFTs.

Although more Nigerian artists are entering the NFT space, they do so wary of the hype. Some Nigerian artists told CoinDesk that although minting their artwork comes with a number of advantages, they have concerns about the impact of NFTs on the art world in general.

Only good for already-established artists

Oyewumi feels the NFT culture is only beneficial to those artists who already have a large fanbase.

“If I put my art up as NFTs, sure, lots of people will see it. But some people will still prefer to purchase work from artists they already know. People might end up just creating pieces and uploading but not be able to sell anything,” Oyewumi said.

For instance, NFT art collector Michael Ugwu typically likes to check out an artist’s online presence and work before purchasing his or her art. A London-based music executive and entrepreneur of Nigerian descent, Ugwu owns around 40 NFT pieces by artists from around the world, including Nigeria. Ugwu told CoinDesk he only buys art he loves, but there is also a business perspective to consider.

“I also want to know that there’s going to be a global marketplace for that piece, if I want to sell it on the secondary market. It’s much easier to sell a Fewocious, a Billelis or if you get lucky and get your hands on a Beeple. So based on those factors, from African artists I primarily acquire work that I feel has a global audience,” Ugwu said.

He added that for some African artists, minting their first pieces could be a challenge due to the Ethereum gas fees sometimes needed to sell an NFT.

“It’s not cheap. A typical African artist may or may not have the $100 or $200 it’s going to cost them per piece. So that’s a small barrier,” Ugwu said, adding there are some platforms that waive or subsidize the minting fee.

Oyewumi feels new artists may also struggle with pricing their pieces and end up selling their art for less than what it’s worth.

All about the money

One NFT art piece in Ugwu’s collection is by the acclaimed Nigerian digital artist Osinachi.

Osinachi, 29, has made a name for himself as a digital artist and produces most of his work using Microsoft Word. When he first started making art in the late 2000s, his primary goal was to see his work displayed in a traditional art gallery. Over the years Osinachi reached out to numerous galleries but received no response.

Then he discovered crypto art.

In 2017, Osinachi learned people were posting artwork as NFT collectibles. With some help from the community, Osinachi minted a few of his works. In 2018, his art was featured in the Etherealblockchain summit in New York.

The following year Osinachi’s dream came true when he was invited to show his work at a contemporary art gallery in Switzerland. In 2020, his art was featured in CoinDesk’s “The Most Influential People in Crypto” list. The same year, he quit his job as an academic librarian at the University of Nigeria Nsukka to focus on his art full time. A month ago he sold one of his digital paintings, “Am I pretty?,” for 13.2 ETH (+5.85%) (around $27,600 as of Friday).

“A single NFT sale can translate to my one-year salary when I was working at the University of Nigeria,” Osinachi said.

Now, he is helping other Nigerian digital artists mint their work. Osinachi told CoinDesk that thanks to the NFT gold rush, digital artists like him are getting the attention they deserve and (thanks in part to the Beeple sale) learning that digital art can be priced as high as or higher than traditional art.

But he is also concerned about aspects of the traditional art world flooding the NFT space.

“Now, you also see marketplaces paying attention to certain big names. They care about the big artists that would make huge sales, and not necessarily about the art that is being made,” Osinachi said.


Oyewumi, who set up her NFTs by herself, found the process to be complicated and experienced a number of unfamiliar technical issues.

She also saw a colleague’s art minted without the artist’s knowledge or permission. As NFTs went viral, scammers took to minting other artists’ work. In early March, illustrator Derek Laufman lashed out at NFT platform Rarible when a Twitter user notified him his art was listed on the website for sale without his knowledge.

Anthony Azekwoh, a 21-year-old chemical engineering student and digital artist, minted his first NFTs last month but finds the NFT space quite “tricky.”

“It’s been very complicated for me as a Nigerian. I come from a place where you make money through years of hard work, but with the NFT space it’s a situation where in a single minute you’re making millions of naira. I feel like the relationship most Nigerians or most people from places like Nigeria would have with the NFT space is, ‘Wow, how does any of this work? How is it possible?’” Azekwoh told CoinDesk.

But it’s not all bad.

Like Osinachi, Azekwoh is wary of the focus on monetization in the NFT world and determined to help other Nigerian artists. With his NFT earnings, he has set up a fund that pledges 200,000 naira to young local artists between the ages of 15 and 25.

Ugwu believes that although the NFT space in Nigeria is still small, it has the potential to propel Nigerianartists to the global stage if local digital art curators emerge in the coming years.

There are “a lot of great artists out of Africa, and Nigeria, who are focused on physical work, and I’m all for them getting a better understanding of the opportunities of NFTs,” Ugwu said.

Despite the many complexities, younger artists like Oyewumi and Azekwoh, inspired by veterans like Osinachi, are slowly working out the kinks and establishing themselves as global artists of the digital era.

NFT newcomer Oshomah sold his first multimedia artwork two weeks ago and has minted his second. Oshomah said that at the moment he could probably only name 10 Nigerian NFT artists, but there are hundreds of talented artists who, with some help, can enter the space in the months and years to come.

“You will see a lot of artists come out of Africa [who] will give Beeple a run for his money,” Oshomah said.

By Sandali Handagama


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The new 'jollof wars' and why Twitter chose Ghana over Nigeria for its first Africa base

Twitter's announcement Monday that it will set up its first Africa base in Ghana, West Africa, has generated fierce debate among Nigerian users of the social media app, and reignited the never-ending rivalry between the two countries, known colloquially as the 'jollof wars.'

Many Nigerians believe that Twitter's decision is a snub to the continent's largest economy, which is seeing rapid growth and investment in its tech scene.

According to NOI polls, 39.6 million Nigerians have a Twitter account, which is more than the entire 32 million population of Ghana.

Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey capped a whirlwind tour of Africa in 2019 by pledging to move to the continent for several months in 2020.

Now it seems that his business will make that move first.

In a statement announcing the decision, Twitter described Ghana "as a champion for democracy, a supporter of free speech, online freedom, and the Open Internet."

The social media giant also cited Ghana's hosting of the secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) as another reason for moving there, saying it aligns with "its ambition to establish a presence in the region that will support our efforts to improve and tailor our service across Africa."
Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo said "the choice of Ghana as headquarters for Twitter's Africa operations is EXCELLENT news," and described it as a "beautiful partnership between Ghana and Twitter and which is critical for the dev't of Ghana's hugely important tech sector."

No ease of doing business

Some Nigerians blamed an "inconducive business environment" for Twitter choosing Ghana over Nigeria.

"Under @MBuhari our ease of doing business is so bad that it's easier for terrorists to get phone lines than law-abiding residents. You can land at Ghana's Kotoka Airport and get a SIM card at the airport. But a camel has to pass through the eye of a needle to get one in Nigeria," said Reno Omokri via Twitter, a former presidential aide to former President Goodluck Jonathan.

Another Twitter user, lawyer Moe Odele wrote: "One of our clients wanted to open shop in Nigeria for their West Africa office. Once we sent them a breakdown of the regulatory requirements for their industry (also tech), they hit us with 'we will get back to you.' We haven't heard back since then."
Another commenter, Onye Ajuju, said Twitter's decision was justified and that Nigerians had a "bloated sense of entitlement."

"It's unbelievable seeing Nigerians throwing a tantrum because Twitter went to Ghana. The lack of awareness of how bad things are in the country, the bloated sense of entitlement, the unhinged expectations that everyone should accept Nigeria's's incredible!" she said.

In 2019, Ghana ranked 13 places higher than Nigeria in the World Bank's ease of doing business index.
Google (GOOGL),Microsoft (MSFT) and Huawei are among international tech giants that have expanded their operations in Ghana, targeting software developers and young creatives on the continent.

In 2018, Facebook opened its first community hub space in Africa in Nigeria's commercial city, Lagos, while announcing plans last year to open an operational office also in Lagos, but for tech investors such as Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, there are lessons to be learned if Nigeria will continue to attract much-needed foreign investment.

"We have to think carefully about the reasons why Twitter chose Ghana -- not necessarily in the context of whether we want to bring Twitter to Nigeria or not, but in the context of what it will take for us to remain a competitive destination for investors," Aboyeji told CNN on Tuesday.

"We need to start thinking very carefully about enhancing democracy and the rule of law, freedom of speech, and most importantly, our role in enabling the Africa Free Trade Agreement. It's not enough for us to just be a big market... We have next door to us, a very competitive neighbor, who's doing all the right things to make itself the hub of West Africa," he added.

'A more productive market'

Another Nigerian tech entrepreneur and investor Bosun Tijani, told CNN that Twitter simply chose a more productive market to run its Africa operations.

"While Nigeria has a huge market that Twitter would love to target, the business environment here is quite demanding... It's strenuous...the cost of running a business here is high. But with the AfCFTA single market agreement which Africa is signed up to, a company like Twitter can choose to set up shop in a small market like Ghana -- that gives the best opportunity for it to operate -- and still serve the Nigerian market," said Tijani, who heads a tech innovation lab, CcHUB.

From tourism to tech, Ghana has been actively courting investors from the diaspora and in particular African-Americans.

Ghana also ranked as the 43rd most peaceful country in the world, in the 2020 Global Peace Index, placing 104 spots ahead of Nigeria -- which grapples with Boko Haram insurgency and periodic outbreaks of violence.

By Nimi Princewill and Stephanie Busari


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Monday, April 12, 2021

Aid group facilities targeted in northeast Nigeria

Suspected Islamic extremists attacked the offices of several international aid groups, setting them ablaze and renewing concerns Sunday about the safety of humanitarian workers in Nigeria’s embattled northeast.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the overnight attack in Damasak town, but suspicion immediately fell on a faction of extremists aligned with the Islamic State group. Last year the militants warned Nigerians they would become targets if they assisted international aid groups and the military.

Edward Kallon, United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, expressed concern for civilians and aid workers Sunday in the wake of the overnight attack.

“Humanitarian operations in Damasak will be reduced due to the violent attack, which will affect the support to 8,800 internally displaced people and 76,000 people in the host community receiving humanitarian assistance and protection there,” Kallon said in a statement.

The Norwegian Refugee Council said the attack “jeopardized our work and threatened the lives of many aid workers.”

“Thankfully our five staff staying in Damasak town escaped unharmed. However, the perpetrators succeeded in setting our guesthouse ablaze and destroying lifesaving relief supplies, including vehicles used to deliver aid, said Eric Batonon, country director for the aid group.

An insurgency aimed at establishing an Islamic state in northeast Nigeria has now lasted more than a decade.

Militants from Boko Haram and the group known as ISWAP frequently target humanitarian hubs in northeast Nigeria. The attack on Damasak is the fourth on the town and its surrounding area this year and the second attack on humanitarians in the past two months in northeast Nigeria.

By Sam Olukoya


Friday, April 9, 2021

Nigeria police repel attack in restive southeast

Two officers were injured when police repelled an attack on their station in Nigeria’s southeast, a spokesman said Thursday, in the latest assault on security forces in the restive region.

Gunmen late Wednesday tried to invade the divisional police headquarters at Mbieri in Imo state, triggering a shootout with police on duty.

“There was an attack on the division but it was repelled by our men,” state police spokesman Orlando Ikeokwu told AFP.

“Two officers were wounded while resisting the attack,” he said.

Southeast Nigeria has seen an upsurge in attacks targeting security forces in violence that officials blame on the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), a separatist group seeking independence for the indigenous Igbo people.

On Tuesday, a police station in the town of Ehime Mbano was set ablaze after it was raided by gunmen.

The Ehime Mbano attack came a day after gunmen using rockets and explosives raided a prison and the police headquarters in state capital Owerri at dawn on Monday, freeing more than 1,800 inmates.

Prison officials said as of Wednesday, 48 escaped Owerri inmates had been recaptured, had surrendered on their own or had been returned by families, religious leaders or traditional rulers.

IPOB has denied accusations it carried out the Owerri attack, but security forces have declared a crackdown on the outlawed group.

The army said a joint security operation was underway in the volatile region “to flush out the miscreants”.

Separatist calls for a state of Biafra in the south are a sensitive subject in Nigeria after a unilateral declaration of independence in 1967 sparked a brutal 30-month civil war.


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Nigeria generating huge revenue from coconut oil export

The export of coconut oil and its derivatives have continued to generate huge revenue for Nigeria, as the country recorded at least $150 million in 2020 alone, an official said on Thursday.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Sabo Nanono said in a statement seen by Xinhua that coconut has so far proved to be a major non-oil export foreign exchange earner for Nigeria.

Coconut, Nanono said, currently accounts for 10 percent of Nigeria’s agricultural exports, and by the end of this year, it is expected to generate more than 250 million dollars.

It is also the means of livelihood for more than 500,000 households, as well as women and youths, in the country, he said.

The West African country has now increased the volume of production of coconut to an average of 250,000 metric tons per annum, the minister explained.

“In 2016, Nigeria produced 283,774 metric tons and the demands for the crop have been on the increase, growing upwards to more than 500 percent in the last decade,” he added.

Coconut is grown in 22 out of Nigeria’s 36 states, with Lagos being the largest producer, according to official data.


Kidnappings Plague Chinese Worksites in Nigeria

Two Chinese citizens working at a gold mine in southwestern Nigeria were kidnapped on April 5, China’s Foreign Ministry confirmed on Thursday. “Upon learning of it, the Chinese consulate general in Lagos immediately activated emergency response mechanism, urging the Nigerian police to rescue the hostages and ensure their safety, and guiding the enterprise involved to deal with the situation properly,” spokesperson Zhao Lijian told the media in a regular press briefing on April 8.

The incident took place in Nigeria’s Osun state. According to China’s Global Times, a local police spokesperson “said in a statement that around 4 pm that day, a group of criminals attacked the local gold mine and abducted two Chinese citizens. The two men, Zhao Jian, 33, and Wen, 50, were employees at the gold mine.” Two security guards were shot and injured during the attack.

The kidnapping followed a previous attack and abduction case of Chinese nationals in Osun state. Two other Chinese workers were kidnapped on March 31, and rescued by police on April 6 – the day after the attack on the gold mine.

In February, three Chinese workers were abducted from a gold mine in Osun state. It’s not immediately clear if this was the same mine attacked on April 5. In the February incident, the Chinese workers’ police escort was killed in the attack. The three Chinese workers were rescued by police on February 9, according to AFP, but no arrests were made, raising questions over whether a ransom had been paid to secure their release.

“Kidnapping for ransom, which used to be common in Nigeria’s oil-producing south, has lately spread to the other parts of the country,” AFP reported back in February. “The victims are usually released after a ransom is paid, although police rarely confirm if money changed hands.”

“We are very often the ‘sweet pastry’ for local violent militants. I once heard a friend relay the story of a Chinese worker who experienced a kidnapping firsthand; he had literally gone to hell on earth,” Global Times quoted a Chinese engineer who works in Nigeria as saying. The engineer said most Chinese companies have hired security guards to protect their workers – presumably the two guard injured in this week’s attack were supposed to provide protection.

According to the China Global Investment Tracker, run by the American Enterprise Institute, Chinese companies had cumulatively invested over $40 billion in Nigeria as of 2020, with the vast majority of that going to either transportation infrastructure ($17.1 billion) or energy projects ($16.5 billion, mostly in the oil sector specifically). That makes oil-rich Nigeria the top destination for Chinese investment in sub-Saharan Africa.

Data from the China-Africa Research Initiative Johns Hopkins University SAIS put the number of Chinese workers in Nigeria at 12,199 as of the end of 2019.ADVERTISEMENT

The surge in kidnappings comes at an awkward time, as China and Nigeria mark the 50th anniversary of their diplomatic relationship. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited the country in January, where he told his Nigerian counterpart that “China has always prioritized its cooperation with Nigeria and taken Nigeria as a major strategic partner.”

“Wang Yi added, this year is vital for China-Nigeria relations. It is the right time for the two countries to set up an intergovernmental committee and make overall plans for bilateral cooperation,” according to a read-out from the Chinese Embassy in Nigeria.

Zhao, the Foreign Ministry spokesperson, insisted that China was not considering drawing down its presence in Nigeria due to the recent kidnappings. “We have a number of projects and Chinese funded enterprises in Nigeria, even though the local security situation has never been ideal,” he told reporters. “We will not resort to evacuation because of some occasional individual cases.”

By Shannon Tiezzi 

The Diplomat

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Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Nigeria army finds five kidnapped students

Nigerian soldiers have found five of the dozens of students kidnapped last month from their college in the country’s northwest, state officials said on Monday.

Dozens of gunmen last month seized 39 students from their hostels in the Federal College of Forestry Mechanization in Afaka in Kaduna state, after a gunfight with soldiers.

It was the latest mass kidnapping in the country’s northwest, where criminal gangs have been increasingly abducting students for ransom, raiding villages, pillaging and stealing cattle.

“The Nigerian military has informed the Kaduna State Government that five of the many kidnapped students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanization, Afaka, Kaduna, were recovered this afternoon,” Samuel Aruwan, Kaduna state internal security commissioner, said in a statement.

Aruwan did not give details about how they were found but said they were undergoing medical checks at a military base.

The kidnap gang has previously released videos showing the distraught students being whipped and calling on the government to secure their release.

On Sunday, Aruwan had warned Kaduna authorities will prosecute anyone who negotiates with the kidnappers of the missing students as parents called for their rescue.

Aruwan ruled out negotiations and ransom payments to the kidnappers, warning that “any person who claims to do so in any capacity if found, will be prosecuted accordingly.”

He said the announcement was prompted by media reports that the state government had appointed “representatives to interface with bandits on its behalf”.

“The Kaduna State Government hereby clarifies firmly that such intermediaries have never been appointed.”

On Monday, parents of the kidnapped students, who have formed a support group, issued a statement condemning the state government’s “insensitivity” over the negotiations threat.

“For us, the statement is unfortunate and another demonstration of callousness on the part of the government,” Sam Kambai, the group’s head, said in the statement.

“We can never abandon our children and we will do whatever we can to see that we get them back.”

Kambai said the father of one of the kidnapped students died of shock after learning that his daughter was abducted. Local media have named the individual as Ibrahim Shamaki.

“We do not want to lose more parents… we will not resign to fate by doing nothing,” Kambai said.

On March 22 parents and colleagues of the kidnapped students held a protest outside the school where they blocked a highway and disrupted traffic for hours.

Heavily armed gangs have recently turned their focus to schools, where they kidnap students or schoolchildren for ransom — the Afaka mass abduction was at least the fourth such attack since December.


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At least 50 killed in suspected cholera outbreak in Nigeria

At least 50 people have been killed in a suspected cholera outbreak this year in Nigeria, local health authorities confirmed Tuesday.

Some eight states across the country had reported the suspected cholera outbreak, said the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC), which is currently monitoring the situation and coordinating the national response.

“As of March 28, a total of 1,746 suspected cases including 50 deaths with a case fatality rate that is 2.9 percent have been reported,” Chikwe Ihekweazu, head of the NCDC, told reporters in Abuja.

So far, states including Nasarawa, Sokoto, Kogi, Bayelsa, Gombe, Zamfara, Delta and Benue have reported the suspected cholera cases, Ihekweazu said.

Cholera is a highly virulent disease characterized in its most severe form by a sudden onset of acute watery diarrhea that can lead to death.

The outbreak of cholera in Nigeria has remained persistent, occurring annually mostly during the rainy season and more often in areas with poor sanitation, overcrowding, lack of clean food and water, and areas where open defecation is common practice.

On November 20, 2019, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari signed an executive order committed to ending open defecation throughout the country by 2025 in consonance with the commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Whilst signing the document, Buhari also declared a state of emergency on Nigeria’s water supply, sanitation and hygiene sector, saying the action will reduce the high prevalence of water-borne diseases which caused preventable deaths in different parts of the country.

In 2018 alone, the NCDC confirmed more than 16,000 cholera-related cases across the country.


More Than 1,800 Prisoners Are Broken Out of Jail in Nigeria

The Nigerian authorities say they are searching for about 1,800 inmates who escaped from a prison aided by heavily armed gunmen in the southeastern corner of the country, where anti-government separatists have long been active.

The authorities laid blame for the jailbreak on a rebel group that promotes the decades-old cause of secession for Nigeria’s southeastern corner, popularly known as Biafra.

“All is not well in the southeast,” said Emeka Umeagbalasi, a criminologist at the International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law in Nigeria, a good-governance advocacy group.

The escapes came as security has been declining in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, where kidnapping has become rife and the army has been deployed to respond to security threats, including terrorism and banditry, in almost every state.

Prison officials said that early on Monday morning, men armed with high-powered weapons including machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades arrived at a prison in Owerri, in southeastern Imo State. They exchanged fire with security personnel, according to prison officials, and then used explosives to blast their way into the prison yard.

One inmate died in the stampede that followed, officials said, and one police officer sustained a minor bullet wound to the shoulder. Officers repelled an attack on the armory at the prison, according to Frank Mba, a police spokesman.

Nigeria’s security services have launched a search operation to recapture the inmates, whose number was put at 1,844. It is not yet known how many of them were convicts and how many were just awaiting trial. Justice is often slow in Nigeria, with people spending years in jail before their cases are heard.

“I am worried that some criminals were set free,” said Kelechi Njoku, a hotelier and resident of Owerri whose hotel is about five miles from the prison. “But not all of them are criminals. There are thousands awaiting trials.”

A few prisoners were trickling back into custody, accompanied by their relatives or lawyers, Francis Enobore, a spokesman for the prison system in Nigeria, said in a WhatsApp exchange. Thirty-five inmates refused to leave when the jailbreak happened, he said.

The police said that the attackers were members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, a secessionist group that has been banned in Nigeria since 2017 and is designated as a “militant terrorist organization” by the government.

But a spokesman for the Indigenous People of Biafra denied that the group — or its paramilitary wing, the Eastern Security Network — were involved.

“E.S.N. is in the bush chasing terrorists and have no business with the said attacks,” the spokesman, Emma Powerful, said in a statement. “It is not our mandate to attack security personnel or prison facilities.”

Escaped inmates who return voluntarily will not be charged with unlawful escape, the minister of interior, Rauf Aregbesola, said on a visit to the prison. Prison officials said in a statement that they were “appealing to the good citizens of Imo State and indeed Nigerians to volunteer useful intelligence that will facilitate the recovery effort.”

They said all officers at other prisons should “remain vigilant at this trying moment in our history,” suggesting concern about further prison breaks.

Visiting the prison on Tuesday, Nigeria’s inspector-general of police, Mohammed Adamu, took a belligerent tone, instructing his officers to “never spare” bandits, in an apparent reference to the gunmen who attacked the prison.

“Deal with them ruthlessly,” local journalists reported Mr. Adamu as saying. “Unleash your full arsenal on them. The law is behind you.”

But while he was visiting Owerri, Mr. Adamu was fired as police chief by the Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari. It was a month before his tenure was set to end, and the reasons for the dismissal were unclear.

It has been 51 years since the end of the Nigerian civil war in which people of the eastern region broke away from the rest of the country. Biafra, the state they created, came to an end when its leaders surrendered after 30 months of fighting.

But the Biafran dream is alive and well.

It is nurtured by Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, a populist figure who peddles conspiracy theories — including one that the Nigerian president died and was replaced by a body double. Nevertheless, Mr. Kanu has managed to amass a huge following.

Biafra’s enduring popularity — and the group’s — is attributable in part to the rampant police abuses that a generation of Nigerians rose up against last fall, under the banner of the #EndSARS movement.

Young people in southeastern states have for years complained of arbitrary arrests, torture and killings at the hands of the security forces, who are usually drawn from other regions of Nigeria. Convinced that Biafra should be a separate country, many residents of the southeast say the heavy military presence in the region is reminiscent of an occupying foreign army.

The prison break is part of a pattern of attacks on national security forces. Six police stations were razed and 10 police officers killed in the southeast by gunmen over two weeks starting in late February, according to local media reports.

“With the way things are going, in two years’ time Nigeria may be able to play host to 30 to 40 insurgency groups, because government is pushing the people to the wall,” said Mr. Umeagbalasi, the criminologist.

By Ben Ezeamalu and Ruth Maclean

The New York Times

Nigeria receives 100,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines from India

Nigeria has received 100,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines from India, a senior official has said.

This will further boost the number of Nigerians to be vaccinated, Boss Mustapha, chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and secretary of the government of the federation, told reporters at a press briefing in Abuja on Tuesday.

The "Covishield" is the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines manufactured by the Serum Institute of India.

The frontline medical personnel, strategic leadership, and those above the age of 50 years across the nation would be vaccinated first.

As of Monday, a total of 963,802 persons in Nigeria had received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

"The objective is to vaccinate 70 percent of Nigeria's population between 2021 and 2022," he said.

The country has recorded a total of 163,388 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 2,058 deaths, and 153,630 have recovered as of Tuesday night, according to data from the Nigeria Center for Disease Control.


Friday, April 2, 2021

Nigerian air force jet goes missing

A Nigerian air force jet supporting ground troops fighting Boko Haram terrorists in northeast Borno city went missing, an official said on Thursday.

“The loss of radar contact occurred at about 5.08 p.m. [1608GMT] on 31 March 2021,” Edward Gabkwet, spokesman of the Nigerian Airforce, said in a statement.

The Alpha fighter jet was part of ongoing counter-insurgency operations in the North East region which has been ravaged by constant attacks by Boko Haram insurgents.

“Details of the whereabouts of the aircraft or likely cause of contact loss are still sketchy but will be relayed to the general public as soon as they become clear,” Gabkwet said.

The statement confirmed that search and rescue efforts are ongoing.

This incident comes a month after a Nigerian Airforce aircraft crashed at the Nigerian Airforce aircraft — killing all seven personnel on board.