Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Nigeria's senate to consider oil overhaul bill on Thursday

Nigeria's senate presented a long-awaited oil overhaul bill to the full chamber for passage on Tuesday and will consider it by the end of the week, according to an order paper and the senate president.

President Muhammadu Buhari sent the bill to the National Assembly in September last year. The senate package is the result of months of consultations between national assembly members and oil companies, local communities and other stakeholders.

Senate President Ahmad Lawan said the chamber would "commence passage" of the bill on Thursday.

"Every senator must have a copy today," Lawan said. "We would be considering the report on Thursday."

The bill aims to modernise Nigeria's petroleum industry and attract a shrinking pool of global fossil fuel investment dollars. Observers had hoped the political alignment of the presidency and the National Assembly would break a cycle of failure that has stalked overhaul efforts for 20 years.

But the House has not updated its timeline for considering the bill, and sources told Reuters the chamber could be a bigger obstacle to quick passage.

There are pending demands for big changes to the bill, including from community leaders seeking an increased share of revenue.

This week, national assembly leaders from northern Nigeria pressed for a greater share of oil revenue for "frontier" communities where there is petroleum exploration. Meetings with key leaders continued into Monday evening without resolution, and a failure to reach a deal with those leaders could scupper passage before the summer recess, pushing its earliest approval to September.

By Libby George


Biafra separatist leader arrested and extradited to Nigeria

The fugitive leader of a prominent Biafra secessionist group has been arrested and extradited to Nigeria to face trial, in a move likely to inflame separatist unrest in south-east Nigeria.

Nnamdi Kanu, a British national who has lived in south London, had been wanted by Nigerian authorities since 2015, when he was charged with terrorism offences and incitement, after broadcasts aired on Radio Biafra, a digital station he founded and ran from his home in Peckham.

Nigeria’s attorney general, Abubakar Malami, said on Tuesday that Kanu had been extradited to the capital Abuja, after cooperation between Nigerian intelligence services and Interpol.

“He has been brought back to Nigeria in order to continue facing trial after disappearing while on bail,” Malami said. He accused Kanu of “engaging in subversive activities” and also alleged that Kanu was responsible for armed attacks.

Malami did not say where Kanu was extradited from, although British government officials have said he was not arrested in the UK. British MPs have in the past raised concerns for Kanu’s wellbeing while held in detention in Nigeria.

A lawyer for Kanu confirmed the arrest. “He was brought before the Federal High Court … today on an 11 count charge, though without our knowledge,” Ifeanyi Ejiofor said in a statement.

Kanu is the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (Ipob), a secessionist group which has been proscribed as a terrorist organisation in Nigeria. In recent months, police have blamed Ipob for a series of arson attacks and killings targeting police units and civil authorities across southern Nigeria.

Kano was first arrested in Nigeria in 2015, and was granted bail on medical grounds in 2017 before fleeing the country.

His prominence in Nigeria has soared in recent years, as secessionist sentiment for an independent country of Biafra in south-east Nigeria has seen a marked rise.

Secessionist sentiment was inflamed by the 2015 election of President Muhamadu Buhari who was a brigade major during the Biafra civil war, one of the darkest chapters in Nigerian history where an attempt to form an independent Biafran state was quelled.

Millions of people in south-east Nigeria died, many from starvation after a government blockade of the region prevented food supplies and humanitarian support.

Earlier this month, Twitter deleted a post by Buhari for violating its rules on abuse, after he referred to the civil war in a threat against armed Biafran groups.

“Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand,” the president said, drawing mass condemnation.

In retaliation for the deletion, the government soon after banned Twitter in Nigeria.

The legacy of the war is still bitter. Authorities censor cultural depictions of the conflict and the war is not taught in most schools.

Since 2015, secessionist protests have met a brutal response by Nigerian security forces. More than 150 people were killed at pro-Biafra rallies between August 2015 and August 2016 according to Amnesty International.

Security operations in south-east Nigeria, a largely ethnically Igbo region, have received allegations of rights abuses against civilians. Armed attacks blamed on pro-Biafran groups have soared this year.

Since fleeing Nigeria, Kanu had been sighted in different countries including Israel.

His fierce monologues on Radio Biafra, taunting President Buhari, targeting ethnic groups and calling for armed uprising have drawn an international following – and also the ire of Nigerian authorities.

The Guardian

By Emmanuel Akinwotu 

Monday, June 28, 2021

Unpicking Twitter boss's passion for Nigeria

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is no stranger to controversy but in Nigeria he has become embroiled in the battle between the country's tech-savvy youths and a ruling class that is seen to be out-of-touch with their thinking.

His Twitter platform was used to galvanise support for last year's #EndSars protests, which began as a movement against police brutality and morphed into a confrontation between the political class and Nigeria's youth.

But Twitter is now blocked in the country after a recent tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari, 78, was deleted.

Many Nigerians adore Mr Dorsey. His ideals of open internet, freedom of expression and economic rights resonate with those who feel marginalised by their government.

Far from being intimidated by the Twitter ban, Mr Dorsey has kept tweeting about Nigeria and has captivated many here.

As the nation marked Democracy Day on 12 June and protests were held in different cities calling for a reversal of the block on Twitter, he tweeted the Nigerian flag with an emoji of a handshake and "#bitcoin".

The next day he retweeted an article calling for the Nigerian government to pursue a Bitcoin standard, and quoted a tweet with the caption "the people of Nigeria will lead #bitcoin".

Some analysts say this shows Mr Dorsey is a businessman looking after his interests.

While he is more famous as the CEO of Twitter, Mr Dorsey is also the founder of Square and Cash 

App, two payment processing platforms with interests in cryptocurrencies, especially Bitcoin.


Cryptocurrencies targeted

Nigeria's cryptocurrency market is the largest in Africa.

High inflation and a weak national currency has led millions to turn to digital currencies, which some see as safer and more reliable.

"There will always be room for products and solutions that help Nigerians save, invest and hedge in currencies other than in naira [the local currency]," said Faith Babafemi, a cryptocurrencies expert in Lagos.

She said there was space in the Nigeria cryptocurrencies market for services like trading that Mr Dorsey's financial apps can provide.

However, Nigeria's crypto-market is under regulation after the central bank placed restrictions in February.

Concerned by the growing adoption of digital currencies and what it saw as the harm it posed to the Nigerian economy, the government barred financial institutions from dealing in them.

But the regulation has had the opposite effect as investors have seen an increase in activity.

Much like the way people have got around the Twitter ban, there has been a surge in cryptocurrency transactions between individuals that bypass the financial institutions.

"When you look at the Twitter ban and you look at the cryptocurrency ban, it really draws from the same government-driven fear which is: 'To what extent can we allow Nigerian youths to exercise freedom on the internet?'," said Senator Ihenyen, head of Nigeria's blockchain and cryptocurrencies association.

Mr Dorsey's defenders argue that while he is advancing his business interests, he also appears to be genuinely interested in Nigeria - even though he overlooked it for Twitter's Africa headquarters, preferring Ghana instead.

One-stop shop for everything

Mr Dorsey visited Lagos as part of his tour of Africa in November 2019, and a Nigerian, Uche Adegbite, is among the social media giant's senior directors.

Nigeria's former Finance Minister and current World Trade Organisation head, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, had also previously served on Twitter's board.

The founder of the Co-Creation Hub in Lagos, Bosun Tijani, who met Mr Dorsey during his visit, said the Twitter CEO left with a strong belief that the platform was having a real impact in Nigeria.

"It's a country that is typically hierarchical but Twitter is one of the platforms that gives opportunity for people, regardless of who you are, to have conversations that naturally in the Nigerian context you never get to have," he said.

In fact, Twitter in Nigeria is more than a platform. It is a one-stop shop for everything - from job openings, to a missing persons portal, and a civic space to hold public officials to account.

It made its biggest political impact during last year's #EndSars demonstrations, when it became the platform of choice for the young demonstrators. They succeeded in forcing the president to scrap the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (Sars), a notorious police unit that was known for its brutality.

However, the peaceful protests were then hijacked by thugs who damaged public buildings across Nigeria.

For that, the government says it holds Mr Dorsey "liable", with some officials going as far as to accuse him of being part of a campaign to remove President Buhari from office.


Buhari's controversial tweet

Information Minister Lai Mohammed has alleged that Mr Dorsey raised funds through Bitcoin to sponsor one of the protest groups , and Twitter - which created a special emoji in support of the demonstrations - was used to stoke the crisis. Mr Dorsey has not commented on the allegations.

Relations hit a new low last month when the government blocked Twitter, alleging that the micro-blogging site was being used to undermine "Nigeria's corporate existence" through the spreading of fake news that had "violent consequences".

This came after Twitter deleted a tweet by President Buhari about the security issues in south-east Nigeria. He said "those misbehaving today" would be dealt with in "the language they will understand".

The president faced a massive backlash from users who saw this as a threat of violence. As a result Twitter accused accusing Mr Buhari of violating its rules and removed the tweet.

The government was furious and accused Twitter of double standards. It highlighted messages by Nnamdi Kanu, the exiled leader of a banned group calling for secession from Nigeria, which it argued encouraged the killing of police officers.

Those tweets were subsequently deleted by Twitter.

The Twitter founder has largely stayed out of politics in other African countries, fuelling suspicion among his critics that he not only has a business interest in Nigeria, but also a political interest.

But Mr Tijani simply sees Mr Dorsey as representing a new breed of CEOs.

"He's not the generation of Bill Gates. He's part of the generation that doesn't rely on the government," he said.

Moreover, Nigeria's youth are using his invention to push for political and economic change, worrying a government that does not have a good grasp of technology.

"[Government leaders] are beginning to see that this technology can be used to challenge them in ways that people have never been able to challenge them," Mr Tijani added.

By Nduka Orjinmo


Related stories: Biden Administration Calls On Nigeria To Reverse Twitter Ban

Trump congratulates Nigeria for Twitter ban, says more countries should do the same

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

Friday, June 25, 2021

Video - Nigeria defends law on registration of social media platforms

The Nigerian government's decision that all social media platforms be registered has drawn widespread criticism. This follows the suspension of Twitter's operations in the West African nation. But the Nigerian Information minister has been defending the move. Here is more on that story.

Digital art thrives among crypto-curious Nigerian artists


At only 29, Nigerian pop-artist Osinachi has sold paintings on Microsoft Word for several thousand euros, or the equivalent amount in ether, a cryptocurrency often used to buy digital art.

One of his works, Becoming Sochukwuma, shows a black dancer wrapped in a tutu made of African fabric, dreadlocks tied in a bun, swirling on a computer screen.

But what makes the painting truly unique is its endorsement with an NFT (Non-Fungible Token) -- a set of data stored in a blockchain that is used as a certificate of ownership.

The digital painting was sold in April for $80,000 worth of virtual money on the crypto-art market, a growing business in Africa's most populous country.

Worldwide, NFTs, which serve as a unique identifier, have reassured collectors when buying online art and propelled digital artists to stardom. Between January and May, NFTs generated around $2.5 billion worth of transactions according to the website sparking the interest of global auction houses Christie's and Sotheby's.

Osinachi's pieces have done very well on this emerging market and in just a few months the young man has become the most famous African crypto-artist.

He was already using Microsoft Word to paint when he was at university but "gallerists didn't care about digital art" until recently, he told AFP.

It was in 2017 that he discovered he could sell his artwork directly to buyers using a blockchain - where a record of NFT ownership can be stored.

In the past six months, as crypto-currencies and NFTs have boomed, digital art like Osinachi's has thrived.

"Now, galleries are after him," said Oyindamola Fakeye, creative director at the Center for Contemporary Art in the country's cultural capital Lagos.

"He has a very positive influence on other African digital artists."

Blockchain, cryptocurrency, NFTs, are terms that are no longer foreign to Osinachi, who spends a lot of time in person and online explaining what they are to other artists.

Many creative minds and entrepreneurs in Nigeria are inspired by his success.

It's a "revolution in the art space", said fellow crypto-artist Niyi Okeowo, whose afro-futurist work combines photography, 3D and graphic design.

Nigeria has about "a hundred" digital artists, Okeowo says, and "most have been inspired by Osinachi".

With its large, youthful, creative and connected population, the West African nation has "the potential to lead" when it comes to NFTs, Osinachi believes.

"We have plenty of talents here. The creative energy in Lagos alone is baffling among young people."

Nigerians are also fond of cryptocurrencies, contributing to the success of NFTs.

In times of economic crisis, with a devalued naira, a growing number in the country are chosing to invest in digital currency.

Last year, more than $400 million were exchanged in cryptos, making Nigeria the third-largest user of digital money worldwide, behind the US and Russia, according to Statista, a German company specialising in market and consumer data.

Entrepeneur Uyi Omokaro was an early believer in the potential of NFT in Nigeria.

This month, he launched Wearmasters, a platform to sell Africa-made NFT art, where he hopes to bring on some of Nigeria's most talented emerging artists like 23-year-old painter Daniel Pengrapher

"Our ambition is to give them international visibility through NFT."

For now, NFT collectors are few in the country. One of them is Michael Ugwu, director of a digital studio in Lagos.

"I'm one of the only ones," says Ugwu.

He started investing in cryptocurrencies in 2017, after several devaluations of the naira, before discovering his real passion: the crypto-art market.

"The traditional art space can be a little bit snobbish," said Ugwu. On the crypto-art market, he says he "found a community, so welcoming, so interactive".

He owns about "a hundred" NFTs he says proudly, but he also considers them investments.

Ugwu has used NFTs as insurance to obtain loans on the crypto-finance market, a process that would take months in the traditional banking system.

Ugwu remains confident, despite recent crypto crashes that automatically devalue his collections.

"Most of my friends think that I'm crazy... Let's wait and see in 10 years."


Related stories: The NFT Craze Is Helping Nigerian Artists Go Global

Germany has agreed to return Nigeria’s looted treasure. Will other countries follow?

Nigeria’s crackdown on Bitcoin echoes global crypto conundrum


Northeast Nigeria conflict killed more than 300,000 children: UN

A 12-year-old conflict in northeast Nigeria has caused, directly and indirectly, the deaths of some 350,000 people, the vast majority of which are children below the age of five, the United Nations found in a new report.

The death toll, given by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in a new study on the war and its effect on livelihoods published on Thursday, is 10 times higher than previous estimates of about 35,000 based only on those killed in fighting in Nigeria since violence broke out.

The armed group Boko Haram launched an uprising in 2009 displacing more than two million from their homes and spawning one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, with millions of people dependent on aid. The conflict shows little sign of ending.

Children younger than five account for some 324,000 deaths, more than nine out of 10 of those killed, with 170 dying every day, the UNDP said.

Of nearly 350,000 deaths from the conflict, it estimated 314,000 to have resulted from indirect causes.

Insecurity has led to declines in agricultural production and trade, reducing access to food and threatening the many households that depend on agriculture for their livelihood, the UN said.

Thousands of displaced people lack access to food, health facilities, shelter and clean water, with children more vulnerable, the report added.

“With another decade of conflict, that could grow to more than 1.1 million,” it said.

Nigeria’s Boko Haram group split into two in 2016 with its rival ISIL (ISIS)-allied faction ISWAP becoming the dominant threat. Despite ongoing military operations, the groups have continued to launch attacks, spreading violence to parts of neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

In the Lake Chad region, the UN said more than “3.2 million individuals are displaced, with 5.3 million food-insecure people at crisis and emergency levels”.

The situation is worse in Nigeria’s northeastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, it said.

“In northeast Nigeria alone, 13.1 million people live in areas affected by conflict, out of whom 8.7 million are in need of immediate assistance,” the UN said.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired general, is under pressure to end armed groups’ violence.

But the security forces appear overwhelmed as they battle other security challenges, including herder-farmer clashes in the centre of the country, kidnapping and banditry in the northwest and separatist agitations in the south.

In the northeast, armed groups have kidnapped dozens of aid workers, of whom many have been killed.

Al Jazeera

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Nigeria’s first female tugboat Captain emerges

Following the emergence of the first female Tug Boat Captain, Canus Ebinipre Robinson, Acting Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Mohammed Bello-Koko, has restated that the agency will continue to empower and provide opportunities for women in the maritime industry, while taking deliberate steps to nurture young women maritime professionals.

Bello-Koko gave this assurance last week in Lagos at a reception in honour of the country’s first female Azuimuth Stern Drive (ASD) Tugboat Captain Robinson, organized by LTT Coastal and Marine Services, the company managing the Authority’s marine crafts.

He said the Nigerian Ports Authority as an equal opportunity organization is always delighted to be associated with exceptional feats especially when accomplished by our female professionals.

He stated: “In our relentless drive to improve operational efficiency we recently invested heavily on the acquisition of world class tugs to boost towage and mooring operations at the Port, so the news of increasing availability of local talent and expertise to seamlessly maneuver sophisticated high performance vessels such as the ASD is heart gladdening for us”. He commended the Management of LTT Coastal & Marine Services Limited for the foresight that birthed such achievement.

“This feat is more heartwarming for us at the NPA because it shows that stakeholders are keying into our efforts at promoting the participation of women in the maritime ecosystem. If we must optimize the ever growing potentials and dynamism of the global Port system, we must create an atmosphere conducive for increased participation of women in port operations”, he remarked.

He described the emergence of the first female Tug boat Captain in West Africa from Nigeria as an uncommon feat that should challenge our young ladies to aspire to achieve greater heights, not because of their gender but because of their capacity.

The Authority according to the NPA Boss places high premium on gender, in her overall talent development agenda.

Capt. Ebinipre Canus Robinson, West Africa’s first female ASD Tug Boat Captain is from Bayelsa State in Nigeria. She is a product of the National Seafarers Development Programme, promoted by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).

By Godwin Oritse 


Nigeria's Dangote to start exporting fertiliser to U.S., Brazil

Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote’s new fertiliser plant near Lagos will export its first shipment in late June or early July, to Louisiana, while the majority of exports from the plant are expected to go to Brazil, Dangote said on Tuesday.

The new plant at the Lekki Free Zone in Lagos State, designed to manufacture 3 million tonnes of urea per year, will also be able to supply all the major markets in sub-Saharan Africa, Dangote told a virtual economic forum hosted by Qatar.

“Apart from meeting the domestic demand, we are going to be able to earn quite a lot of money exporting the goods to the South American countries,” he said.

Many in Nigeria also hope the Dangote plant will help alleviate chronically low crop yields in Africa’s most populous country, which are partly due to insufficient access to fertiliser.

According to the World Bank, Nigeria consumed around 20 kg of fertiliser per hectare of arable land in 2018, compared with 73 kg in South Africa and 393 kg in China.

Nigeria’s Central Bank bars the use of its foreign exchange for fertiliser imports as part of a raft of controls aimed at boosting domestic production. 


Court restrains Nigeria from prosecuting Twitter users: Activists

A West African court has restrained the Nigerian government from “unlawfully” prosecuting people from using Twitter, while it is considering a legal action launched by activists and journalists seeking to reverse a ban on the social media giant.

Authorities in early June indefinitely suspended Twitter, two days after the platform removed a post from President Muhammadu Buhari that threatened to punish regional secessionists, which Twitter said violated its rules. The Nigerian attorney general further said those who defied the ban should be prosecuted, but did not provide any details as to which law would be invoked.

n response, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), a local rights group, along with 176 other Nigerians, went to court to fight the ban.

On Tuesday, a statement describing the decision to suspend the hugely popular social media platform’s operations as an attempt to silence criticism of the government from SERAP quoted the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) as saying it was restraining the government from acting against citizens or media outlets over the use of Twitter, pending a substantive ruling on the core issue.

“The court has listened very well to the objection,” SERAP said. “Any interference with Twitter is viewed as inference with human rights, and that will violate human rights,” it added.

The lawsuit’s applicants had argued that the Twitter suspension “escalated repression of human rights and unlawfully restricted the rights of Nigerians and other people to freedom of expression, access to information, and media freedom in the country”.

Applicants also urged the court to hold the Nigerian government liable for the violation of “their fundamental human right and for breaching its international obligations” by banning Twitter.

The government’s move prompted an immediate backlash among social media users and human rights activists, with #NigeriaTwitterBan and #KeepitOn trending on the platform as Nigerians used virtual private networks to access the site.

There was no immediate comment by the Nigerian government following Tuesday’s ruling.

Nigeria’s Information minister Lai Mohammed has previously said the suspension had nothing to do with Buhari’s tweet being deleted, but rather with “separatists inciting violence” online.

“Regulating social media is not about stifling press freedom. All we are talking about is the responsible use of these platforms,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, adding that Facebook, WhatsApp and YouTube were still accessible.

In 2021, Nigeria ranked 120th out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) World Press Freedom Index.

Al Jazeera

Related story: Video - Nigeria's Twitter ban leaves businesses in the lurch

Monday, June 21, 2021

Emirates suspends Nigeria passenger flights until further notice

Dubai's flagship carrier Emirates has announced a suspension of flights to and from Nigeria from June 21, 2021.

“In line with government directives, passenger flights to and from Nigeria (Lagos and Abuja) are suspended with effect from 21 June 2021 until further notice,” it said in a statement.

“Customers travelling to and from Lagos and Abuja will not be accepted for travel. Customers who have been to or connected through Nigeria in the last 14 days are not permitted to board from any other point to the UAE,” said the statement posted on its website.

The Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management in Dubai on Saturday eased travel rules for inbound passengers arriving from India, South Africa and Nigeria.

“We regret the inconvenience caused, and affected customers should contact their booking agent or Emirates call centre for rebooking. Emirates remains committed to Nigeria, and we look forward to resuming passenger services when conditions allow,” Emirates said. 

Khaleej Times

Three students dead after Nigeria school kidnapping, says principal

Three children have died following a school kidnapping of 94 students and eight staff in northwest Nigeria this week, the establishment’s principal said on Sunday. read more

The army said in a statement it had rescued three teachers and eight students so far, killing one of the kidnappers.

There have been a series of kidnappings for ransom in northern Nigeria, with a sharp rise in abductions since late 2020 as the government struggles to maintain law and order amid a flagging economy.

Two girls and a boy were found dead, two with gunshot wounds in their legs, said Mustapha Yusuf, principal of the federal government college in the remote town of Birnin Yauri in northwest Nigeria's Kebbi state.

The kidnappers "have been taking cover under the students ... They are in the bush," he said, adding that bandits had used students' phones to call parents and demand a 60 million naira ($146,341) ransom.

By Garba Muhammad and Libby George


Friday, June 18, 2021

Video - Nigeria's Twitter ban leaves businesses in the lurch


Scores of small and medium-sized businesses across Africa's most populous nation and largest economy are reeling from the indefinite suspension of the social media site. The West African nation announced the suspension on June 4, days after the platform removed a post from President Muhammadu Buhari that threatened to punish regional separatists. Most telecommunications sites have since blocked access.

Policeman killed, more than 80 students abducted in attack on Nigerian school

Gunmen killed a police officer and kidnapped at least 80 students and five teachers from a school in the Nigerian state of Kebbi, police, residents and a teacher said.

The attack is the third mass kidnapping in three weeks in northwest Nigeria, which have authorities have attributed to armed bandits seeking ransom payments.

Usman Aliyu, a teacher at the school, said the gunmen took more than 80 students, most of them girls.

"They killed one of the (police officers), broke through the gate and went straight to the students' classes," he told Reuters.

Kebbi State police spokesman Nafiu Abubakar, said the gunmen killed one officer during an exchange and also shot a student, who was receiving medical treatment.

Police late on Thursday had not released the number of students missing, and a spokesman for the Kebbi state governor said they were conducting a tally of the missing.

The attack took place at a federal government college in the remote town of Birnin Yauri. Abubakar said security forces were searching a nearby forest for the abducted students and teachers.

Atiku Aboki, a resident who went to the school shortly after the gunfire stopped, said he saw a scene of panic and confusion as people searched for their children.

"When we got there we saw students crying, teachers crying, everyone is sympathising with people," he said by telephone.

"Everyone was confused. Then my brother called me (to say) that his two children have not been seen and (we) don't know if they are among the kidnapped."

Bandits seeking ransom have kidnapped more than 800 Nigerian students from their schools since December in a series of raids. Some have been freed while others remain missing.

The raids in the northwestern region are separate from Islamist insurgencies centred on the northeast, where the Boko Haram militant group made global headlines in 2014 when it abducted more than 270 schoolgirls from the town of Chibok.


Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Video - Nigeria's Buhari says border closure failed to restrict illegal weapons

Last month, Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari surprised many when he said an 18-month border closure to restrict illegal weapons had failed. The land border had been shut since 2019 - but Buhari said illicit arms have continued to flow into the country - raising numerous conflicts. Al Jazeera's Ahmed Idris reports from Seme - a town on the border between Nigeria and Benin.

3 Nigerians selected for Netflix Development Lab to engender more local African content

 Three Nigerians have been selected among the twelve (12) African candidates chosen to participate in the 3-month Netflix Episodic Lab (EPL) and Development Executive Traineeship (DET) launched by the Realness Institute.

2 Nigerians were selected to participate in the Episodic Lab where they will develop their story concepts alongside expert story consultants and creative producers. They are Ayoade Adeyanju with Agent 419 and Kehinde Joseph with Osupa.

Other participants include Andile Ngcizela with Drummies (South Africa); Dominique Jossie with Fafi (South Africa); Kudakwashe Maradzika with Bad Influencer (Zimbabwe/South Africa) and Mary Waireri with Sheitain (Kenya/United Kingdom).

Netflix’s Episodic Lab and Development Executive Traineeship are part of efforts by the global streaming giant and the Realness Institute to produce more original local content from creative writers in Africa.

For the DET, Ololade Okedare is the only Nigerian selected to participate in the program where they will accompany the incubation of the six potential Netflix African Original Series.

Anneke Villet, Antionette Engel and Thandeka Zwane (South Africa), Damaris Irungu Ochieng’ (Kenya) and Lara Sousa (Mozambique) make up the other five DET participants.

The Episodic Lab will take place remotely till 5 September 2021, where selected participants will receive about $2,000 monthly stipend so that they can focus entirely on their development. At the end of the lab, each writer will have an opportunity to pitch their incubated concept to Netflix to have their series further developed for production.

Meet the Nigerian writers taking part in the Netflix Episodic Lab.

Ayoade Adeyanju

Ayoade has aggregated over 10 years of career experience creating content spanning various local and international TV shows, including MNet’s Tinsel and EbonyLife’s Ojo’s in ‘d House. He created African Magic’s Hustle and was the story editor for African Magic’s Battleground. He developed content for the critically acclaimed, award-winning show, MTV Shuga.

Kehinde Joseph

Kehinde Joseph has worked for 9 years as a radio presenter on Eko FM in Lagos. He’s the sole Nollywood screenwriter with 3 movies that’s grossed over 100 million at the box office.

By Gbemileke Babatunde


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MTN warns of service disruption in Nigeria due to rising insecurity

ABUJA, June 15 (Reuters) - MTN's (MTNN.LG) service in Nigeria could be disrupted as a result of rising insecurity in different parts of the country, the local unit of South Africa's telecoms group (MTNJ.J) said on Tuesday.

MTN Nigeria (MTNN.LG) is the first company to acknowledge a possible disruption to its services due to insecurity in Africa's most populous nation.

Nigeria faces increased insecurity across the country -- ranging from mass abductions at schools, kidnappings for ransom, armed conflict between herdsmen and farmers, armed robberies and various insurgencies -- a drag on growth and job creation.

"Sadly, we must inform you that with the rising insecurity in different parts of Nigeria, service delivery to your organization may be impacted in the coming days," MTN wrote in a message to customers seen by Reuters.

"This means that in some cases, our technical support team may not be able to get to your site and achieve optimum turnaround time in fault management as quickly as possible."

Nigeria is MTN's most lucrative market out of the 22 countries the company operates in across Africa, Asia and the Middle East but it is also one of the most problematic.

MTN runs Nigeria's largest mobile phone network which generates around a third of the company's revenue.

Growth in Nigeria resumed in the fourth quarter after a COVID-19 induced recession but it lags the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, with food inflation, heightened insecurity and stalled reforms slowing the economy and increasing poverty, the World Bank said.

By Chijioke Ohuocha


Nigerian growth lags Africa, poverty rising, says World Bank

ABUJA, June 15 (Reuters) - Nigerian economic growth has resumed after the COVID shock but is lagging the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, with food inflation, heightened insecurity and stalled reforms slowing growth and increasing poverty, the World Bank said on Tuesday.

Presenting its six-monthly update on development in Africa's most populous country, the organisation gave a GDP growth forecast for Nigeria of 1.9% in 2021 and 2.1% in 2022, compared with 3.4% this year and 4.0% next year for sub-Saharan Africa.

Lead economist for Nigeria Marco Hernandez said inflation, especially in food prices, was exacerbating poverty and food insecurity. Food accounted for almost 70% of Nigeria's total increase in inflation over the past year.

He said the COVID-induced crisis was expected to push over 11 million Nigerians into poverty by 2022, taking the total number of people classified as poor in the country to over 100 million. The total population is estimated at 200 million.

The World Bank expects the Nigerian inflation rate in 2021 to be 16.5%. The forecast for sub-Saharan Africa, excluding Nigeria, is 5.9%.

Hernandez said increased insecurity across the nation -- ranging from mass abductions at schools, kidnappings for ransom, armed conflict between herdsmen and farmers, armed robberies and various insurgencies -- was a drag on growth and job creation.

He said it was critical for the government to maintain reform momentum, but that some important reforms had stalled.

He cited petrol subsidies, which have recently returned after the government had established a market-based pricing mechanism, and electricity tariff reform, an area where planned adjustments to bring prices in line with costs have been paused.

Hernandez said Nigeria had the largest number of people without access to electricity in the world, and that electricity subsidies benefited mainly richer households. Only 22% of the poorest households have access to electricity, while 82% of the richest are able to access power.


Surging inflation in Nigeria fuels crime wave, says World Bank

Surging inflation is undermining the recovery of Africa’s biggest economy, pushing 7 million Nigerians into poverty and encouraging criminality as rising prices deplete already meager incomes, according to the World Bank.

In its Nigeria Development Update report, the Washington-based lender projects economic growth of 1.8% this year, compared with a previous estimate of 1.2%. But it warned that without deep reforms, the economy will continue to grow slower than the pace of population expansion of about 2.6% a year.

That, coupled with rising unemployment and inflation, is leading more Nigerians into criminal enterprises to make up for lost earnings in the continent’s top oil producer. A surge in insecurity over the past two years has further slowed economic activity and left more people unemployed, fueling a vicious cycle of violence and criminality, the lender said.

“While you have many people going into the informal sector and hustling, criminal activity has become one of the options to get by,” the World Bank’s country director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri, said in an interview. “In the context of rising inflation, that means a further deterioration of the purchasing power and livelihood of many Nigerians.”

Chaudhuri reiterated that the government must develop a sustainable economic-recovery plan before the bank can release a $1.5 billion loan initially discussed more than a year ago.

While inflation eased slightly for the second straight month to 17.9% in May, it remains at near four-year highs with food-price growth at more than 20% year-on-year. The World Bank sees inflation at an average of 16.5% this year and remaining above the 9% top of the target band until at least 2023.

Little Credibility

The World Bank challenged the central bank’s position that high inflation stems primarily from supply constraints, citing tight exchange-rate controls and expansive monetary policy as key drivers of price growth.

“Policy decisions related to exchange rate, trade and monetary and fiscal factors are driving inflation, especially during 2021, more so than exogenous factors related to conflict and weather shocks,” said Marco Hernandez, the World Bank’s chief economist for the country.

The lack of a credible monetary anchor is keeping inflation elevated, with the central bank trying to achieve too many goals, such as controlling price increases, promoting economic growth and keeping a stable exchange rate, according to the report.

Although the central bank took the right step in unifying the official exchange rate with one used by investors and exporters, the exchange rate is not yet reflective of market forces, the World Bank said.

The central bank should aim for greater flexibility by reestablishing a dollar interbank market, effectively allowing banks to trade currency on their own behalf to increase liquidity and move toward a single rate, the bank said.

By Alonso Soto

Al Jazeera

Monday, June 14, 2021

Jack Dorsey Tweets Support For Nigerian Bitcoin Adoption

CEO of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, has been signaling his support for Nigerian bitcoin adoption through a series of tweets over the weekend.

Dorse is one of the big celebrity names in the crypto community. As a result, his tweets on crypto pick up a lot of interest, no matter how cryptic or simple they are.

He began his series of tweets simply with a single Nigerian flag. This happened a day after the government announced it would ban Twitter in the country. The ban came into effect as a result of Twitter deleting tweets by President Buhari.
Nigerian Bitcoin tweets

Later the same day, Dorsey published another tweet showing the Nigerian flag “shaking hands” with bitcoin.

This was followed by him tweeting, “The people of Nigeria will lead #bitcoin.”

This was a quote tweet over an open letter by United States footaball player Russell Okung to the Nigerian President.

Okung published the open letter in Bitcoin Magazine. In it, he urged the Nigerian government to accept a national bitcoin standard. In the article he wrote:

“Soon every nation will be faced with this decision, but those who seize the present moment proactively as we have just witnessed in El Salvador, will enjoy significant advantages globally for generations to come."

Finally, Dorsey’s last tweet on the subject was a graphic showing Africa leading in peer-to-peer bitcoin trading volume growth for 2021.

This is not the first time the Square CEO has shown interest in crypto and Africa. In 2019, after visiting Ghana, Ethiopia, South Africa, and Nigeria, Dorsey said he planned to move to a country on the continent for a few months in 2020.

However, he reconsidered the move as the COVID-19 pandemic picked up.
Nigeria and cryptocurrency

In 2020, Nigeria became the second-biggest bitcoin trader in the world. However, the government’s relationship with cryptocurrencies has been unstable.

In September 2020, the Nigerian Securities and Exchanges Commission announced a historic regulatory framework recognizing crypto assets as securities. However, this doesn’t mean that crypto is fully recognized. This is due to the central bank’s positionbeing in direct opposition.

In early 2021, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) reaffirmed its order to all financial institutions. This warned them to stop providing on and off-ramp crypto services. This caused issues for centralized exchanges operating in the country.

By Leila Stein

Yahoo Finance

Related stories: Why Bitcoin has been so successful in Nigeria

Video - Nigeria's booming investment in cryptocurrency continues despite ban

Nigeria’s Twitter ban leaves some businesses in the lurch

Lagos-based entrepreneur Ogechi Egemonu was selling more than 500,000 naira ($1,219) worth of watches, shoes and handbags on Twitter per week.

Now, with the site suspended by the Nigerian government, Egemonu does not know how she will cope.

“Social media is where I eat,” she told Reuters. “I depend on social media for my livelihood.”

Scores of small and medium-sized businesses across Africa’s most populous nation – and largest economy – are reeling from the indefinite suspension of the social media site.

Nigeria announced the suspension on June 4, days after the platform removed a post from President Muhammadu Buhari that threatened to punish regional separatists. Most telecommunications sites have since blocked access.

NOI Polls estimates that 39.6 million Nigerians use Twitter – 20% of them for business advertisement and 18% to look for employment. Experts warn its lack of ready availability – it is accessible using Virtual Private Networks that mask location – could ripple across the economy.

“The ban has significant collateral damage,” said Muda Yusuf, director general of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce, who said that a “sizeable number of citizens” use Twitter to make a living.


Parliament’s minority caucus warned the suspension was costing Nigerians “billions of naira on a daily basis.”

Dumebi Iyeke, a research analyst with the Financial Derivatives Company, said it would hit young Nigerians – among whom there is a 45% unemployment rate – the hardest.

“We are looking at a potential loss in their revenue,” Iyeke said, adding that it could further lower living standards amid high inflation.

Information Minister Lai Mohammed last week said that all social media sites must register a local entity and get a license to operate. He cited complaints over lost money as proof that the ban was effective, but said other sites are still available.

($1 = 410.0900 naira)

By Nneka Chile

(Additional reporting by Alexis Akwagyiram and Libby George in Lagos. Writing by Libby George;Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)


Related stories: Biden Administration Calls On Nigeria To Reverse Twitter Ban

Trump congratulates Nigeria for Twitter ban, says more countries should do the same

Friday, June 11, 2021

Video - Lagos considers waterways to ease traffic gridlock


The traffic problems in Nigeria's largest city have been growing as fast as its population. Lagos's residents describe long, uncomfortable hours sitting on gridlocked roads. Now, the government is looking at waterways as a potential solution. Al Jazeera's Ahmed Idris reports from Lagos, Nigeria.

Biden Administration Calls On Nigeria To Reverse Twitter Ban

The Biden State Department on Thursday called on Nigeria to restore its citizens’ access to Twitter after the government blocked the site in retaliation for deleting a tweet posted by the Nigerian president.

The U.S. “condemns the ongoing suspension of Twitter by the Nigerian government and subsequent threats to arrest and prosecute Nigerians who use Twitter,” the State Department said in a statement.

Free expression and access to information are “foundational to prosperous and secure democratic societies,” the agency added.

The department called on the Nigerian government to “respect its citizens’ right to freedom of expression by reversing this suspension.”


The Biden administration statement is a noticeable contrast with former President Donald Trump, who on Tuesday called on other countries to follow Nigeria’s lead and ban Twitter, as well as Facebook. “More COUNTRIES should ban Twitter and Facebook,” Trump said in a statement, adding “perhaps I should have done it while I was president.” Trump was kicked off of Twitter and Facebook in January following the Capitol riot. Facebook last week said Trump would remain off the platform for two years, before his ban would be revisited. Twitter’s suspension of Trump is permanent.


Nigeria is one of four countries that have banned Twitter, including China, North Korea, and Iran.


“Unduly restricting the ability of Nigerians to report, gather, and disseminate opinions and information has no place in a democracy,” the State Department said.


The Nigerian government banned Twitter on Friday after the social media platform deleted a tweet from President Muhammadu Buhari that it said violated its “abusive behavior” policy. The tweet compared the brutal Nigerian Civil War of the 1960s to the slew of attacks by Nigerian separtist groups against offices in the southeast area of the country. “Many of those misbehaving today are too young to be aware of the destruction and loss of lives that occurred during the Nigerian Civil War,” Buhari wrote in the now-deleted tweet. Those “who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand.” Twitter blocked Buhari’s access for 12 hours and ordered him to delete the tweet. After access to Twitter was restricted by the government, Nigerian Attorney General Abubakar Malami ordered the Ministry of Justice to prosecute those who violated the ban.

40 million. That’s the estimated number of Nigerians who used Twitter before the ban. Buhari’s account, which is still active, has 4.1 million followers.

“We are deeply concerned by the blocking of Twitter in Nigeria,” Twitter said in a statement. “Access to the free and #OpenInternet is an essential human right in modern society.”


Related stories: Trump congratulates Nigeria for Twitter ban, says more countries should do the same

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Trump congratulates Nigeria for Twitter ban, says more countries should do the same

Today, former President Donald Trump issued a statement supporting the Nigerian government’s decision to suspend Twitter activities in the West African country.

“Congratulations to the country of Nigeria, who just banned Twitter because they banned their President,” he said in the statement.

The ex-President also encouraged other countries to follow in Nigeria’s footsteps and ban Twitter and Facebook.

“More COUNTRIES should ban Twitter and Facebook for not allowing free and open speech — all voices should be heard. In the meantime, competitors will emerge and take hold. Who are they to dictate good and evil if they themselves are evil? Perhaps I should have done it while I was President. But Zuckerberg kept calling me and coming to the White House for dinner telling me how great I was. 2024?” he added.

Trump’s approval is coming days after Nigeria suspended Twitter indefinitely last Friday. The government made the judgment days after Twitter deleted Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari’s tweet for violating its abusive behaviour policy and several calls by Nigerians to take it down. His tweet threatened punishment on secessionists in the southeastern part of the country.

Although the Nigerian President, via his spokesperson, later declared that the state-wide ban on Twitter was only a temporary measure to curb misinformation and fake news, new directives suggest otherwise. The government ordered broadcasting media to delete their Twitter accounts and stop using the platform as a news source on Monday which further confirms a ploy to stifle free speech and enforce censorship.

“In compliance to the above directive, broadcasting stations are hereby advised to de-install Twitter handles and desist from using Twitter as a source (UGC) of information gathering for news and programmes presentation especially phone-in,” an excerpt of the statement read.

On the other hand, Trump has been on the receiving end of not one but two bans. In early January, he was permanently banned from Twitter after instigating the violent invasion of the U.S. Capitol. Twitter cited concerns over the “risk of further incitement of violence.”

He was subsequently suspended indefinitely on Facebook. Last Friday, the social media juggernaut announced its decision to reconsider Trump’s suspension in two years (which starts counting from January).

“At the end of this period, we will look to experts to assess whether the risk to public safety has receded. We will evaluate external factors, including instances of violence, restrictions on peaceful assembly and other markers of civil unrest. If we determine that there is still a serious risk to public safety, we will extend the restriction for a set period of time and continue to re-evaluate until that risk has receded,” Vice‑President for Global Affairs and Communications at Facebook, Nick Clegg said.

“When the suspension is eventually lifted, there will be a strict set of rapidly escalating sanctions that will be triggered if Mr Trump commits further violations in future, up to and including permanent removal of his pages and accounts.”

By Tage Kene-Okafor

Tech Crunch

Related story: Nigerians launch legal action against government’s Twitter ban

Nigerians launch legal action against government’s Twitter ban

Dozens of Nigerians and a local rights group have filed a lawsuit at a regional court seeking to lift the government’s ban on Twitter, describing the decision to suspend the hugely popular social media platform’s operations as an attempt to silence criticism of the government.

Authorities announced the ban on Friday, two days after Twitter removed a post from President Muhammadu Buhari that threatened to punish regional secessionists.

The government’s move prompted an immediate backlash among social media users and human rights activists, with #NigeriaTwitterBan and #KeepitOn trending on the platform as Nigerians used virtual private networks to access the site. The government has said those who continued to use Twitter would be prosecuted.

On Tuesday, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), a local rights group, and 176 Nigerians filed the lawsuit at the Economic Community of West African States Community Court of Justice in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, calling for an interim injunction restraining government from implementing the ban.

“The suspension of Twitter is aimed at intimidating and stopping Nigerians from using Twitter to assess government policies, expose corruption, and criticize acts of official impunity by the agents of the Federal Government,” the suit read, according to the group.

Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP’s deputy director, said the ban “negatively impacted millions of Nigerians who carry on their daily businesses and operational activities on Twitter,” calling it “final proof of shrinking civil space in Nigeria and the intention of government to stifle any dissenting voice”.
‘Erratic decision’

In 2021, Nigeria ranked 120th out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) World Press Freedom Index.

Africa’s most populous country has been celebrated as one of the few on the continent attracting investment into its tech ecosystem but was recently shunned when Twitter chose neighbouring Ghana for its first African headquarters.

Gbenga Sesan, executive director of the Paradigm Initiative, a pan-African social enterprise working on digital inclusion and rights, told Al Jazeera the suspension of Twitter sent the wrong signal to foreign investors, adding that small businesses using Twitter as a source of livelihood in Nigeria would be affected.

“Businesses in Nigeria use digital media to reach customers, expose their brands and communicate with various stakeholders. That will definitely be affected by this erratic decision,” he said.

Information minister Lai Mohammed told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that the suspension had nothing to do with Buhari’s tweet being deleted, but rather with “separatists inciting violence” online.

“Regulating social media is not about stifling press freedom. All we are talking about is the responsible use of these platforms,” said Mohammed, adding that Facebook, WhatsApp and YouTube were still accessible.

Nigeria joined countries such as China, North Korea and Iran in issuing a ban on Twitter, while Uganda, Turkey and Egypt have suspended the app during elections or political unrest.

The United States-based company said in a statement that it was “deeply concerned” as access to the internet was “an essential human right in modern society” and it “will work to restore access for all those in Nigeria who rely on Twitter to communicate”.

Al Jazeera

Monday, June 7, 2021

Controversial Nigerian pastor TB Joshua dies aged 57


The popular but controversial Nigerian evangelical preacher Temitope Balogun Joshua has died from an undisclosed cause, his church said on Facebook. He was 57.

The preacher, popularly known as TB Joshua, founded The Synagogue Church of All Nations, a Christian megachurch in Lagos.

The father of three was one of Africa’s most influential preachers with millions of television and social media followers. More than 15,000 people from Nigeria and abroad attend his Sunday services.

“God has taken his servant Prophet TB Joshua home … His last moments on earth were spent in the service of God,” the church wrote on its Facebook page on Sunday, without giving further details.

One of the pastor’s lawyers Olalekan Ojo also confirmed his death.

“I confirm that the man of God, pastor TB Joshua passed away on Saturday after his evening programme,” Ojo told AFP news agency.

Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Idris, reporting from the Nigerian capital Abuja, said the preacher was one of the most respected pastors in Africa’s most populous country.

“He rose to prominence in the 1990s at a time when there was an explosion of televangelism in Nigeria and many parts of Africa. He was one of the most followed preachers in Nigeria and [across] Africa,” Idris said.

He was also popular in South America where he had held many religious campaigns.


TB Joshua was known for making predictions and for his claims to cure various ailments and to make people prosper through miracles.

He was, however, controversial, with critics questioning his claims and saying he profited from people seeking hope.

According to Forbes, he had an estimated fortune of several million dollars.

Many African presidents, senior government officials, international football players, musicians and other high-profile guests have worshipped in his church.

In September 2014, the guest house of the church collapsed, killing more than 100 people, most of them foreigners who were in Nigeria to attend his services.

While authorities say the building collapsed because of structural defects, TB Joshua insisted the building was blown up by a small plane that he claimed flew over it shortly before it came down.

In April, the pastor’s YouTube channel, which has more than 1.8 million subscribers and 600 million views, was shut down over allegations of hate speech against LGBTQ people.

In one of his videos, watched more than 1.5 million times, a woman is seen being hit violently to “cure” her of her sexuality.

Homosexuality is illegal in Africa’s most populous country, and “homosexual acts” can carry a 14-year prison sentence.

Facebook had also removed several videos on Joshua’s page, which has more than 5.7 million followers, for his anti-LGBTQ remarks. 

Al Jazeera

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

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Nigerian preacher TB Joshua explains wrong U.S. election prophecy

Friday, June 4, 2021

Violence in Nigeria's northwestern Zamfara state spawns humanitarian crisis

Rising insecurity in Nigeria’s northwestern state of Zamfara has spawned a humanitarian crisis, International aid group Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said on Thursday.

Gunmen, often riding motorcycles, have attacked towns in the northwest in recent years, forcing thousands to flee across the northern border to Niger. Attackers have attained global notoriety through mass kidnappings at schools, abducting more than 800 students since December.

MSF, also known as Doctors Without Borders, said the security situation had worsened in the last few months. It referred to an increase in reports of kidnappings, killings, armed robbery and sexual violence in the region.

The medical group said its teams in Zamfara, one of the states worst hit by the violence, treated 10,300 children in the first four months of 2021 for ailments including severe malnutrition, measles, and respiratory infections. It said the number of children treated was 54% higher than in the same period last year.

“Our teams in Zamfara state have witnessed an alarming rise in preventable illnesses associated with a lack of food, drinking water, shelter and vaccinations,” said MSF doctor Godwin Emudanohwo.

Rising violent crime in the northwest has compounded the challenges faced by Nigeria in northern states which are typically poorer than those in the south of Africa’s most populous country of about 210 million.

A decade-old Islamist insurgency in the northeast has killed more than 30,000 people and forced at least 2 million to flee their homes, creating one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world.


Related story: Nigeria’s president threatens rebels amid rising violence in southeast

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Video - Nigeria internationals Iheanacho, Ndidi enjoy fruitful season at Leicester

Kelechi Iheanacho and Wilfred Ndidi propelled Leicester City to win their first-ever English FA Cup in the just concluded season. The pair also inspired the Foxes to a fifth finish in the English Premier League. CGTN's Deji Badmus now looks back at a rewarding campaign for the Nigerian internationals.

Nigeria’s president threatens rebels amid rising violence in southeast

People who promote insurrection in Nigeria face a “rude shock”, its president warned on Tuesday, raising the possibility of a fierce crackdown on rising violence in the southeast that has included arson attacks on police station and electoral offices.

Security forces are already grappling with criminal gangs in the northwest who carry out mass kidnappings for ransom, a decade-old Islamist insurgency in the northeast, and piracy in the Gulf of Guinea off Nigeria's southern coast.

Electoral offices and police stations have been burned down in recent months across the southeast, a region where armed gangs have carried out a series of killings of police officers, prompting a police operation in May.

Nigerian authorities have blamed those attacks on a banned separatist group, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), and what police call its armed wing, the Eastern Security Network. But the IPOB has repeatedly denied involvement.

The statement issued by the office of President Muhammadu Buhari, who previously led Nigeria as a military ruler in the early 1980s, said "a rude shock" awaits "those bent on destroying the country through promoting insurrection, and burning down critical national assets".

It referred to the 1967-70 civil war fought over the secession of an area in Nigeria's far southeast called Biafra that killed one million people.

"Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through (that) war, will treat them in the language they understand. We are going to be very hard sooner than later," Buhari, who served in the army against the secessionists, was quoted as saying.

On Monday the streets of towns across the southeast were quiet and businesses were shuttered after the IPOB urged people to stay at home to commemorate those who died in the war.

The presidency statement said there had been 42 attacks on offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission in recent months across 14 states.


Related story: Dozens kidnapped from Islamic school in northern Nigeria