Thursday, September 30, 2021

Video - Can Boko Haram fighters rejoin society?


Nigeria’s military is increasingly confident in its fight against Boko Haram, as growing numbers of members surrender. But victims of the armed movement in the country’s northeast are nervous about reintegration programmes that aim to return former adherents to mainstream society. At least 10,000 people linked to Boko Haram and its rival, the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), have given themselves up in recent weeks, the Nigerian army says. 

Those surrendering range from combatants to abductees coerced into working for the groups. The pace of defections from Boko Haram, which is fighting to impose its own interpretation of Islamic law on the northeast and is behind a wave of mass kidnappings, has increased since the reported death in May of the group’s leader Abubakar Shekau and the subsequent rise of ISWAP. Hundreds of former low-level members of Boko Haram are now undertaking government "deradicalisation" programmes to reintegrate them to civilian life, with authorities also providing support to family members of surrendered fighters. 

Supporters of state-run rehabilitation initiatives such as Operation Safe Corridor say they tempt fighters to give themselves up, and could help end a 12-year war between Nigerian government forces and insurgent groups that the UN estimates has killed about 350,000 people. But many people who have borne the brunt of Boko Haram attacks and exploitation are questioning the government’s decision to host surrendered fighters in a compound in Maiduguri - where Boko Haram originated. They have doubts about the sincerity of those who have given themselves up and say the rehabilitation schemes allow Boko Haram followers to get away with their crimes. Hundreds of thousands of people who remain displaced and dispossessed due to Boko Haram attacks are urging the government to ensure that victims are also supported. In this episode of The Stream we’ll look at the challenges in rehabilitating former Boko Haram fighters as victims maintain their call for justice.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Video - Nigeria builds new schools, but not all students can access them

Education in Nigeria’s northern Borno state, the region at the heart of years of Boko Haram violence, is getting back on track. With new schools now built, enrollment is increasing but because facilities cannot be built in areas where Boko Haram is still active, thousands of children still have no schools to go to. Al Jazeera's Ahmed Idris reports from Maiduguri, Nigeria.

Nigerian air force kills dozens of civilians in northeast

The Nigerian Air Force fired upon and killed dozens of civilians at a village in the northeast, a victim and a resident said on Tuesday, as the country wages a 12-year war against Islamist insurgencies.

The air force did not respond to repeated requests for comment by phone and message.

The deaths come two months after the U.S. government transferred six A-29 Super Tucano fighter planes to Nigeria to assist in its war against Islamist militants. The sale of the aircraft was condemned by critics, citing the Nigerian military's record of killing civilians. read more

Two planes bombed a fish market in the village of Daban Masara on Sunday, said Husaini, who spoke to Reuters by phone on condition he be identified only by his first name. He said his leg was wounded in the attack.

"At least 50 people were killed instantly... including my friend who got married just three weeks ago," Husaini said.

The other resident, who asked not to be named, said locals had been fishing despite a military ban on the trade because of allegations the sales of fish are funding the Islamic State West Africa Province insurgent group.

The resident said they saw the corpses of at least 60 people after the air force's strike.

"They are innocent people like us that depend on fishing to sustain their living. Their mistake is that they were fishing in an area restricted by security forces," said the resident.

A United Nations security report reviewed by Reuters confirmed the strike, saying one fisherman was killed and six wounded

It is not clear whether the killings could affect the transfer to Nigeria of six more A-29 Super Tucanos, propeller-driven light attack aircraft.

The United States under then-President Donald Trump agreed to sell the planes to Nigeria in 2017, resurrecting a deal frozen by the Barack Obama administration after the Nigerian Air Force bombed a refugee camp, killing as many as 170 civilians.


Nigeria police arrest 57 in Shia procession, deny casualties

Nigerian police said they arrested dozens of Shia Muslim followers of an outlawed group at a religious procession in the nation’s capital with a spokesperson of the group claiming eight members were shot dead during the gathering.

Abuja police denied any casualties occurred when the group, marking the religious ritual of Arbaeen, was dispersed on Tuesday

Police said they intervened to stop members of the banned Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) as they had been causing “unnecessary hardship to motorists” along the Abuja-Kubwa expressway, adding that 57 people were arrested after IMN members attacked the police with petrol bombs and stones.

“The miscreants who were found in their numbers were promptly intercepted by the security operatives and dispersed to prevent them from causing further disruption of public order,” the police statement said.

However, Abdullahi Muhamed, an IMN member, told the Reuters news agency that participants were walking peacefully along the expressway when a team of police and soldiers fired tear gas and live ammunition at them.

IMN spokesman, Ibrahim Musa, said security forces shot and wounded protesters.

“We were almost rounding up the procession when the police and army came and started shooting,” he said.

The IMN, a pro-Iranian group that was outlawed in 2019 for protests against the arrest of their leader Ibrahim el-Zakzaky, has clashed with Nigerian security forces for years and often marches in Abuja.

The army killed 350 IMN Shia Muslims during a religious procession in northern Nigeria in December 2015. According to rights groups, many were gunned down and burned alive.

IMN leader el-Zakzaky and his wife, who have been in custody since 2015, were freed last month after a court acquitted them of murder charges involving the death of a soldier.

But the religious leader still faces terrorism and treasonable offences charges, according to prosecutors.

Muslims make up about half of Nigeria’s population of 200 million. The overwhelming majority of them are Sunni. The Shia Muslim minority have long complained of discrimination and repression.

Al Jazeera

Nigeria jihadist infighting kills scores in Lake Chad

Infighting between Nigeria's two major jihadist factions has left scores dead, raising the possibility of a prolonged internecine conflict between the two forces, civilian and security sources told AFP Tuesday.

Islamic State West Africa Province or ISWAP has emerged as the dominant faction in Nigeria's conflict, especially after the death of rival Boko Haram commander Abubakar Shekau in May during infighting between the groups.

His death marked a major shift in the grinding 12-year insurgency that has left 40,000 people dead, but security sources say Shekau loyalists have held out against ISWAP's bid to consolidate.

Boko Haram jihadists on Monday launched an attack on rival ISWAP militants on the Nigerian side of Lake Chad, ISWAP's bastion, seizing a strategic island, fishermen and a security source said.

Large numbers of heavily armed Boko Haram insurgents in speed boats invaded Kirta Wulgo island after dislodging ISWAP security checkpoints in an hours-long fight, those sources said.

- 'Mutually destructive fight' -

The seizure of Kirta Wulgo would be a huge setback to ISWAP as the island served as a port for importing weapons and supplies into its territory, according to security sources and local fishermen.

"It was a mutually destructive fight that lasted for more than nine hours, from 4 pm yesterday to early hours of this morning," said one fisherman in the area.

He could not give a figure for casualties, but his account was backed by two other fishermen in the region.

A local security source confirmed the clashes to AFP.

According to the security source, Boko Haram mobilised its fighters from camps in Gegime and Kwatar Mota on the Niger side of the lake and Kaiga-Kindjiria on the Chadian side.

"They gathered at Tumbun Ali island in the Nigerian side of the lake and dislodged six ISWAP checkpoints before taking over Kirta Wulgo," the security source said.

"It was a deadly fight. We are talking of more than 100 dead," the source said.

ISWAP split from Boko Haram in 2016 and rose to become the dominant jihadist group, focusing on attacking military bases and ambushing troops.

The two factions turned staunch enemies since the split and regularly fight for dominance.

Since Shekau's death in May following infighting with ISWAP militants in his Sambisa forest enclave, ISWAP has been fighting Boko Haram remnants who have refused to pay allegiance to it to consolidate its grip in the northeast.

More than two million people have been displaced by Nigeria's conflict since it began in 2009, and the violence has spread over the borders to Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

- Battles to come -

After Shekau's death, Boko Haram rebels led by Bakoura Buduma, a former Shekau lieutenant, fled Sambisa to the territory under his control in Niger's Gegime-Bosso axis of Lake Chad, according to security sources.

Last month Boko Haram suffered heavy casualties in a failed bid to invade Kirta Wulgo where they were beaten back by ISWAP, two sources in the area told AFP.

"This is just the beginning of an internecine battle between the two factions. It'll be a battle to the finish," said the local security source.

Boko Haram may want to assert their presence on the Nigerian side of the lake to get its share of fishing revenues accruing to ISWAP from levies on Nigerian fishermen.

With this sudden setback, ISWAP may look to push out the invading Boko Haram militants.

Boko Haram is now within striking distance from ISWAP's major strongholds of Sabon Tumbu, Jibillaram and Kwalleram, according to a source familiar with the area.

"ISWAP leader Abu Musab Al-Barnawi is known to reside in Sabon Tumbu where high-profile captured Boko Haram commanders are being held," the source said.

Al-Barnawi's deputy lives in Jibillaram along with other high-profile lieutenants while Sigir and Kusuma islands close to Kirta Wulgo house many of the group's senior commanders.

"All these islands are now under Boko Haram threat," the source said.

"ISWAP would use every means to ensure their safety from Boko Haram fighters who would go to any length to see they fall under their control."


Nigeria to become first country in Africa to launch CBDC

The Central Bank of Nigeria’s eNaira website has gone live ahead of schedule.

And, in the 24 hours following the launch, it received more than a million hits.

The CBN stated that eNaira – a central bank-issued digital currency that provides a unique form of money denominated in Naira – would serve as both a medium of exchange and a store of value, offering better payment prospects in retail transactions when compared to cash payments.

eNaira presents itself as the digital form of cash and is a direct liability on the Central Bank of Nigeria while the customer deposits are direct liabilities on the financial institutions.

However, it seems that a lot of its future users in Nigeria are still arguing whether or not it is actually a cryptocurrency.

Olumide Adesina, a CEO of Nigerian analyst firm TM Analytics believes the eNaira can’t replace the crypto market or fight and win Bitcoin. However, he stressed it could complement the crypto market and provide leverage for a growing number of people from Nigeria.

Some praise eNaira’s benefits for financial inclusion, while others are concerned it would give central banks more control over citizens’ financial rights through the removal of intermediaries.

eNaira makes remittance transfers easier

Still, the official website says the eNaira will “cultivate economic growth, provide cheaper remittances, limit fraudulent behaviour, and is secure, among other benefits for its use”.

Rakiya Mohammed, the bank’s director of information technology, recently explained eNaira could make remittance transfers easier for Nigerians working abroad.

South Africa also recently announced a trial of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) for cross-border payments. The central bank said it could motivate other financial institutions around the world to work towards using the technology.

Founder and CEO of cryptocurrency and digital asset exchange platform Botmecash, Oluwasegun Kosemani, said there was a rising interest in the use cases and value Bitcoin offers in Lagos, Ibadan, Abuja, Kaduna, Abeokuta, and among the Igbo tribe traders who import and export from China and Turkey.

“This will blow up soon when the eNaira launches in Nigeria,” he said, adding that eNaira “is the beginning and pathway to the end of cash in the country”.

By Teuta Franjkovic

Coin Rivet

Monday, September 27, 2021

Video - Nigeria children face mental health crises

Eleven years of conflict in northern Nigeria have left hundreds of thousands of children traumatised. Doctors and many other caregivers are concerned about the long-term effects on young children - and the impact on their communities as they grow up. Al Jazeera's Ahmed Idris reports from Maiduguri, Nigeria.

Related stories: Video - Is Nigeria's kidnapping crisis out of control?

Video - Boko Haram victim recounts time in captivity

Gunmen release 10 Nigerian students after collecting ransom

After captivity, Nigerian students seek overseas education


After captivity, Nigerian students seek overseas education

Emmanuel Benson was planning to get his diploma in horticulture and landscaping from Nigeria’s Federal College of Forestry Mechanization next year. Now, he’s not willing to risk the return to school, after he was kidnapped by bandits with dozens of others earlier this year.

“Our lives are at risk — Nigerian students, especially in Kaduna state where we are,” the 24-year-old said. As much as he wanted to complete his studies “the kidnapping and everything that is going on haven’t stopped yet ... staying here anymore doesn’t benefit anybody.”

Benson is among a growing group of Nigerian students seeking alternative solutions to their education that won’t further endanger them, as bandits in Nigeria’s northern states grow more ambitious, staging increased kidnappings of students for ransom.

At least 25 Nigerian students who spent nearly two months in the custody of gunmen in the country’s troubled northwest region are now putting resources together in the hopes of leaving the West African nation to study in another country, like the U.S., according to teachers and parents at the Federal College of Forestry Mechanization in the state of Kaduna.

Some of the students, as well as parents and teachers at the Kaduna college, told The Associated Press that after spending about seven weeks in captivity before regaining freedom in May, life hasn’t remained the same. They fear pursuing an education in Nigeria, and they are now relying on the help of a school committee overseeing their application process for overseas education.

There are no clear plans yet on how that enrollment would work out, except that they are hoping for scholarship opportunities in the U.S. or elsewhere.

Nigeria is no longer an option for them because “the country is not safe,” according to Paul Yahaya, one of the 25 students.

Many families in Kaduna state say they now stay mostly indoors over fears of attacks. Ransoms are hefty, and in Nigeria, with a national poverty rate of 40%, parents are struggling.

“Even the parents don’t have money, because they have been struggling to pay their (abducted children’s) ransom and they paid (so) much amount to the negotiators (who helped to secure the release of the children),” said Abdullahi Usman, the chairman of the committee of parents and teachers who is overseeing the application process for interested students.

If the students left, that would mean starting tertiary education afresh and losing at least three years spent so far for some.

The 25 students hoping to leave are among 1,436 students who have been abducted in the last year in Africa’s most populous country, according to Peter Hawkins, the U.N. Children’s Agency Nigeria representative. The education of up to 1.3 million Nigerian children has been affected because of the school abductions, he said.

The Kaduna school and many other schools in at least four states remain closed because of insecurity.

Kauna Daniel wants to leave, despite not having the money to do so or a passport, but is still frightened.

“I don’t want to go anywhere again,” her voice rang out angrily over the phone. She said she hasn’t been able to sleep since she was released from captivity in May because of trauma and an eye problem.

“The trauma we are passing through is getting out of hand and it is even now that everything is getting worse,” the 19-year-old said, adding almost as if she is pleading that “it is better for me to stay at home.”

The United Nations estimates that the country of more than 200 million people already has 10 million children not attending school, one of the highest rates globally, with 1 million more afraid to return to classes as schools reopen in the coming weeks. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated those numbers, according to Save The Children Nigeria, which said 46 million Nigerian students have been affected by school closures as a result of the pandemic.

With the school abductions by groups of gunmen who often camp in abandoned forest reserves across the northwest and central parts of the country, some parents are caught in a dilemma. Should they brave the odds and send their children to schools, which are often located in remote areas, or keep them home, away from the prying eyes of the gunmen?

The Kaduna school committee chairman Usman said parents of affected students in Kaduna are “eager” for their admission to schools abroad because their children “are still vulnerable … and can be kidnapped anytime.”

Friday Sani is one such parent. He said his two daughters spent weeks in captivity along with other students of the Kaduna college, and they now await responses from places outside of Nigeria, mentally unable to return to school in the West African nation.

“The government of Nigeria needs to have a plan to better prepare education systems to respond to crises,” said Badar Musa of Save the Children International, Nigeria. “There is need for increased investment in education systems from both government and international donors.”

By Chinedu Asadu


Related stories: Video - This 25-Year-Old Is One of Nigeria’s Best Hostage Negotiators

Video - Boko Haram victim recounts time in captivity

Gunmen release 10 Nigerian students after collecting ransom

Gunmen release 10 more Nigerian students after fresh ransom

Gunmen in Nigeria on Sunday freed 10 students abducted in the northwest Kaduna state after collecting a ransom, a school official told The Associated Press.

The Rev. John Hayab said the students were released on Sunday afternoon, nearly three months after they were seized by the gunmen in Kaduna. Their release comes about a week after 10 of their other schoolmates were also released.

Eleven of the 121 students of the Bethel Baptist High School in Kaduna are still being held, Hayab said, expressing frustration at the refusal of the gunmen to release all the students at once.

“If we have the power, we would have brought them,” he told AP when asked why the gunmen held back 11 students. “The bandits are the ones in control, we now have to play along softly and get our children back.”

He was referring to the gunmen who have abducted at least 1,400 schoolchildren in Nigeria in the last year, according to the U.N. children’s agency.

“Our anger is not with the bandits as it is with the government, because we can’t have a government that is supposed to protect us and the bandits are having a field day. There is no day they have ever released one child for free,” the official added.

In the wake of increasing school attacks in the northwest and central parts of Nigeria, some governors have temporarily shut down schools and imposed phone blackouts in their states as they struggle to contain security challenges in Africa’s most populous state.

The first mass school abduction in Nigeria was carried out by the Boko Haram extremist group in 2014. But the West African nation has witnessed more than 10 other attacks on schools in the last year, a sudden spike that authorities have blamed on outnumbered security operatives in remote communities where the affected schools are mostly located.

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, who rode to power in 2015 on a wave of goodwill after promising to end the country’s security challenges, has come under growing pressure over the security crisis, especially regarding the gunmen abducting schoolchildren and the Boko Haram extremists.

Security analysts have told the AP the gunmen and the extremists might be working together.

By Chinedu Asadu 


Related stories: Video - Boko Haram victim recounts time in captivity

Gunmen release 10 Nigerian students after collecting ransomAfter captivity, Nigerian students seek overseas education 

Video - Nigeria children face mental health crises

Friday, September 24, 2021

At least 329 people killed by cholera in Nigeria's northern state

A cholera outbreak in north Nigeria's Kano state has killed at least 329 people since March, a state government official said on Wednesday.

Addressing a media forum on the cholera outbreak in the state capital Kano city, Sulaiman Iliyasu, a disease surveillance officer in the state, said 11,475 suspected cholera cases were reported across the 44 local government areas of the state since March.

Iliyasu said out of the number, 11,115 cases had fully recovered, while 329 people had died, noting that 31 cases were still receiving treatment from three local government areas of the state as of Tuesday.

The officer said Kano ranked second in the country in terms of the number of cholera cases, adding the state government has established cholera treatment centers and intensified social mobilization and community awareness in the state as part of measures to check the disease.

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 by severe dehydration.

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 a common practice.


Nigerian court orders alleged separatist freed, lawyer says

A Nigerian court on Thursday ordered the immediate release of a woman held in detention since February accused of being a member of a banned separatist organisation, her lawyer said.

The court in Abuja ruled that the police had illegally detained Ngozi Umeadi and ordered it to pay her damages of 50 million naira ($121,500), lawyer Ejiofor Ifeanyi said.

Nigerian authorities routinely detain people for months or years without charge.

Umeadi was accused of being a member of the Indigenous People of Biafra, which campaigns for the southeastern region to secede. Nigerian authorities blame it for attacks on police stations and other targets and have been cracking down on the group, which denies wrongdoing.

IPOB members and supporters accuse the authorities of arbitrary killings and detentions in the southeast, which they deny.

Ifeanyi also represents IPOB's detained leader, Nnamdi Kanu, who is facing trial for treason.

Kanu disappeared from Nigeria while on bail in 2017 after spending two years in jail. The Nigerian authorities announced in June that he had been captured abroad and brought back for his trial to resume, without explaining the circumstances.

Kanu's family and lawyers have alleged that he was illegally transferred from Kenya to Nigeria. Kenya has denied involvement.

Kanu's detention, and the fact that the authorities failed to produce him in court at the last hearing in July, have fuelled tension in the southeast, where a series of mass "sit-at-home" protests have taken place in solidarity with him.

Amnesty International said in August that Nigerian security forces had killed at least 115 people in the southeast this year and arbitrarily arrested or tortured scores of others. The authorities made no comment on the findings.

The southeast, homeland of the Igbo ethnic group, attempted to secede in 1967 under the name Republic of Biafra, triggering a three-year civil war in which more than a million people died, mostly of starvation.


Video - This 25-Year-Old Is One of Nigeria’s Best Hostage Negotiators


The Nigerian government blames ransom payers for this year’s massive spike in kidnappings and accuses them of financing terrorism. But as troops fail to protect civilians, hostage negotiators are the victim's only hope for survival. VICE News follows a 25-year old hostage negotiator as she works to rescue ten hostages in the largest case of her career.

Related stories: Video - Is Nigeria's kidnapping crisis out of control?

Video - Boko Haram victim recounts time in captivity

Gunmen release 10 Nigerian students after collecting ransom



Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Video - Nigeria's Super Falcons Firm Grip On Women's Football In Africa


No team has dominated women's football in Africa like the Super Falcons of Nigeria. The record 11-time continental champions are also one of the few teams in the world to have qualified for every edition of the FIFA Women's World Cup. CGTN's Deji Bademosi has been finding out why Nigeria has held such a firm grip on women's football in Africa.

Nigerians offer artworks to British Museum in new take on looted bronzes

A new guild of artists from Nigeria's Benin City has offered to donate artworks to the British Museum in London as a way to encourage it to return the priceless Benin Bronzes that were looted from the city's royal court by British troops in 1897.

Created in the once mighty Kingdom of Benin from at least the 16th century onwards, the bronze and brass sculptures are among Africa's finest and most culturally significant artefacts. European museums that house them have faced years of criticism because of their status as loot and symbols of colonial greed.

The Ahiamwen Guild of artists and bronze casters says it wants to change the terms of the debate by giving the British Museum contemporary artworks, untainted by any history of looting, that showcase Benin City's modern-day culture.

"We never stopped making the bronzes even after those ones were stolen," said Osarobo Zeickner-Okoro, a founding member of the new guild and the instigator of the proposed donation. "I think we make them even better now."

"Part of the crime that's been committed, it's not just ok, these were looted, it's the fact that you've portrayed our civilisation as a dead civilisation, you've put us among ancient Egypt or something," he said.

The artworks on offer, unveiled in Benin City in a ceremony attended by a member of the royal court, include a 2-metre-by-2-metre bronze plaque with carvings representing historical events in Benin, and a life-size ram made entirely from spark plugs.

Asked to comment on the offer, the British Museum said only that it was a matter for discussion between itself and the parties offering the objects.

Zeickner-Okoro, who travelled from Benin City to London this month partly to advance his initiative, said he had a meeting coming up with curators from the museum's Africa department.

While Germany has said it wants to return Benin Bronzes from its museums to Nigeria, the British Museum, which houses the largest and most significant collection of the items, has stopped short of making a clear commitment.

It says on its website that its director, Hartwig Fischer, had an audience with the Oba, or king, of Benin in 2018 "which included discussion of new opportunities for sharing and displaying objects from the Kingdom of Benin".

But many people in Benin City see no justification for European museums holding onto loot.

"They must bring it back. It is not their father's property. The property belongs to the Oba of Benin," said bronze caster Chief Nosa Ogiakhia.

Zeickner-Okoro, who grew up partly in Britain before moving back to Benin City, acknowledged that the Benin Bronzes' presence in European museums had allowed them to reach a global audience. But he said they should now return to the place and the people that created them.

"The descendants of the people who cast those bronzes, they've never seen that work because most of them can't afford to fly to London to come to the British Museum," he said.

"They have these catalogues, PDF copies of the catalogue from the British Museum, which they use to reference the work of their ancestors, and I think it's so sad."

By Tife Owolabi and Estelle Shirbon


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

Britain open to loan Nigeria stolen art

Around 20% of Nigerian workers lost jobs due to COVID-19

Around 20% of workers in Nigeria have lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19, the government's statistics office said on Tuesday, outlining the impact of the pandemic on businesses in Africa's most populous nation.

The National Bureau of Statistics and the United Nations Development Programme surveyed nearly 3,000 businesses in the formal and informal sectors in Nigeria.

In March, the NBS said a third of Nigeria's workers were out of a job in the fourth quarter of 2020, a situation worsened by the pandemic.

"While there have been promising signs of recovery this year, COVID-19 has had an outsized socio-economic impact on Nigeria," the duo said in a statement.

Businesses complained about revenue declines, higher costs and an inadequate safety net for those in the informal sector, they said, adding that the disruption could leave a lasting impact on enterprises. Only a few in the utilities, financial and health sectors reported gains from the previous year.

The West African nation's economy, the biggest on the continent, was hammered by the fall in oil prices following disruptions caused by the pandemic. The country relies on crude exports for around 70% of government revenues.

Growth in Nigeria has resumed after COVID-19 triggered a 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 has said.

The bank has said that 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.

By Camillus Eboh 


Meet the Nigerian board game creator trying to change an industry

Kenechukwu Cornelius Ogbuagu has been obsessed with playing and building games his entire life.

As a child, he played board and card games including Snakes and Ladders, Whot, and Ludo with the kids in his neighborhood in Enugu, southeastern Nigeria, where he was born and raised.

Yet in a country that loves games such as chess and Scrabble -- even fielding a world champion Scrabble team -- Ogbuagu noticed a lack of Nigerian-made games. In 2013, he decided to create his own game while studying at the University of Calabar in southern Nigeria.

"There was a nationwide strike at government-owned universities in the country at the time, so nobody was going to class," Ogbuagu, now 29, says. With nothing to do, "eventually, we started playing tabletop games."

At the time, he was not sure how to create games, so he used cardboard, stones, and dice from an old Ludo game to make a dice rolling and card drafting game for him and his friends.
Many of Ogbuagu's friends in school enjoyed playing the game, inspiring him to turn his passion into a profession.

Creating made-in-Nigeria games

In 2016, a few years after making his first game, Ogbuagu founded a game production publishing company called NIBCARD, which focuses on tabletop games such as board and card games.

"I eventually learned to make games on YouTube," he says. "I learned how to make boards. I learned about direct imaging printers. I also found stores where I could get material to make the games I wanted."

That same year, he started an annual convention in Abuja, Nigeria's capital city, called the Africa Boardgame Convention, or "AbCon" -- a gathering of tabletop game lovers from across the country, which Ogbuagu says is the first of its kind in West Africa.

"Many Nigerians hold stereotypes about board games. They say, 'oh, it is a woman's game.' The convention exists to cancel those types of stereotypes," Ogbuagu explains. Roughly 500 people attend the convention every year, he adds.

But his big break came in 2017 when charity organization Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) hired NIBCARD to create 2,300 copies of a game called "Luku Luku" for an education project it was running in the country.

Ogbuagu had been working with VSO as a volunteer when the group found out he was into games. "I met British colleagues who liked to play card games. I became inspired by their games and wanted to make something like that in Nigeria," he says.

Since making Luku Luku for VSO, Ogbuagu says NIBCARD has created at least two dozen tabletop games for sale across the country and received grants from organizations including the UN's International Organization for Migration (IOM).

"With the (IOM) grant, we were supposed to, in an artistic way, create an activity that will create awareness on migration," Ogbuagu says. To achieve this, he created a tile-placement game called "My World Trip."

"The game has maps of different countries and the names and continent of the countries," he explains. "As players are jumping from country to country trying to win the game, they are forced to learn new countries that they probably have never heard of."

Nigeria's tabletop gaming industry

According to a report in Dicebreaker, a publication focused on tabletop games, the 2020 Covid-19 lockdown period renewed interest in games and increased the sales of board games in places like the US and UK.

In the same year, tabletop games successfully raised $236.6 million on Kickstarter, accounting for nearly a third of all the money made on the crowd-sourcing platform in 2020.

But in Nigeria, there is hardly any data about the tabletop game industry. While games like chess, Ludo, and Scrabble are popular, the local sector is still largely untapped.

Ogbuagu says one of the reasons the industry is struggling is because there aren't a lot of board and card games designed and produced in the country.

"Many Nigerians don't have access to information about where to get games made in the country. There is also no access to tabletop games cafes and other value chains surrounding these games," he explains.
It is difficult for the average Nigerian to find information about games, he adds: "People will most likely know where to find Scrabble or chess than where to find their local, made-in-Nigeria games."

A home-grown movement

In 2019, as a way of increasing that awareness, Ogbuagu opened a cafe in Abuja.

"The cafe is just a space filled with games. People can come there to play," he says, with 60 Nigerian-made board games and another 300 non-Nigerian games. "Not all the games there are made by NIBCARD," he adds. "We stock games from other people too."

In the next couple of years, another goal is to get more people to appreciate and access locally made games, which starts with visibility.

He says he is currently in talks with filmmakers from the country, encouraging them to swap games such as chess in their movies for Nigerian games like the ones NIBCARD produces.

He's also trying to reach the next generation of tabletop gamers, with "volunteers that take our games to different schools across the country," Ogbuagu says. "They teach children to play these games so that as they are growing up, they know that we have our own Nigerian games." 

By Aisha Salaudeen 


Monday, September 20, 2021

Video - Nigeria approves 5G technology after 7 years

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved the Fifth Generation Network, otherwise known as 5G for the nation.

Nigeria to incorporate state-oil firm NNPC, board appointed

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari said on Sunday he had appointed a board for state-oil firm NNPC and directed that it should be incorporated within six months, a move that could allow it to sell shares in the future.

Buhari, who doubles as petroleum minister, signed an oil bill into law last month that has been in the works for nearly two decades, aiming to overhaul the sector and turn the state-owned oil company into a private firm. read more

The new oil law requires NNPC to be incorporated within six months, Buhari said in a statement, appointing Ifeanyi Ararume as NNPC chairman and its current Chief Executive Mele Kyari to lead the firm.

Kyari has said NNPC could consider an initial public offering (IPO) within three years. The incorporation could pave the way for NNPC to sell shares.

Buhari said last month that NNPC made its first profit in 44 years in 2020. 


Gunmen release 10 Nigerian students after collecting ransom

Gunmen in northern Nigeria have released 10 more students after a ransom was paid, but 21 others remain in captivity despite a pledge to release them all, officials said Sunday.

The Rev. John Hayab, the chairman of the local Christian association, said the kidnappers had collected money three days ago. The 10 freed students were returned to their parents Saturday night, he said.

Assailants had stormed the Bethel Baptist High School on July 5, seizing at least 120 of the students from their hostels. Various batches of the students have been released since then and the last group was freed on Aug. 27.

"These bandits are torturing us emotionally, psychologically, physically, financially. They are putting us under serious pressure," he said of the gunmen. "The moment they release a number (of students), it is because they want to ask for fresh money."

About 1,400 children have been abducted from their schools over the last year and nearly 200 of them have yet to be released. Sixteen children have died in the attacks, UNICEF Nigeria Representative Peter Hawkins told The Associated Press.

As schools are set to reopen across Nigeria, UNICEF has also said at least 1 million children are afraid to return to their classrooms because of insecurity. That aggravates the education crisis in the West African country where more than 10 million children are already out of school.

Moreover, some of the freed captives have told the AP of how they continue to face trauma weeks after their freedom. Some of them have also said they won't return to school. Victory Sani, 20, who was abducted from the Federal College of Forestry Mechanization in Kaduna and later freed, said the gunmen "asked us not to go back to school, that they will make sure they shut down all the schools in Kaduna state."

By Chinedu Asadu


Related story:  Video - Is Nigeria's kidnapping crisis out of control?


Friday, September 17, 2021

Nigeria is seeing one of its worst cholera outbreaks in years, with more than 2,300 people dying from suspected cases as Africa’s most populous country struggles to deal with multiple disease outbreaks.

Nigeria’s air force admits to strike in area where civilians were reported killed

Nigeria’s air force confirmed that there was an airstrike targeting a branch of the Islamist group Boko Haram in the northeast part of the country where civilians were reported to have been killed, a spokesman said Thursday.

The incident comes amid debate about the Nigerian government’s counterterrorism tactics, which critics say too often claim the lives of innocent people. Separatists in Nigeria recently sued two top Biden administration officials for clearing the sale of warplanes to the country in a deal initially greenlighted by the Trump administration.

Edward Gabkwet, the air force spokesman, said in a brief interview that he had received many reports that civilians were killed but could not say definitively.

“We are investigating,” he said. “We have to be sure. That environment is highly infested with terrorists.”

Mohammed Goje, a doctor who is the executive secretary of the Yobe State Emergency Management Agency, said that nine civilians, including three children, were killed in the strike on a rural community near the border with Niger. He said the dead were in their homes when the strike occurred and came from multiple families.

Those killed and the 23 people injured were farmers or children, he said. The injured were taken to hospitals and are in stable condition, Goje said.

“For us as an emergency management agency, the life of civilians is a priority,” he said. “They were children, they were farmers, they are people, and we must give them the treatment they deserve free.”

The governor of Yobe instructed hospitals to provide free care to the injured and said his office would work with the military to determine what had gone wrong.

“Government will work closely with the security forces especially the Nigeria Air Force to establish what actually happened,” Gov. Mai Mala Buni said in a statement.

Gabkwet initially denied that the air force was involved. But on Thursday, after Buni called for an investigation, the spokesman released a statement saying one of the air force pilots fired shots after observing “suspicious movement consistent with Boko Haram terrorists behavior.”

“Unfortunately reports reaching Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Headquarters alleged that some civilians were erroneously killed while others were injured,” he said in the statement.

The Nigerian government has used airstrikes in the northeast to target Boko Haram and an offshoot loyal to the Islamic State. The two groups have killed more than 30,000 people in 12 years. In 2017, a Nigerian air force fighter jet mistakenly bombed a town crowded with people who had fled Islamist militants, killing more than 50 and injuring more than 100.

Matthew Page, an associate fellow with the Africa Program at Chatham House, said civilian casualties in the fight against Boko Haram are common but rarely acknowledged by the government. The combat aircraft that Nigeria and Niger are using to fight the group, Page said, are “not effective counterinsurgency tools.”

“You’re using a meat cleaver rather than a surgeon’s scalpel,” he said.

The Nigerian air force has said it will use A-29 Super Tucano planes from the United States to conduct some of those airstrikes. Six of the planes arrived in Nigeria in July, after the Trump administration’s controversial decision to clear the nearly $600 million Super Tucano deal, ending an Obama-era ban on selling weapons to Nigeria.

Asked Thursday whether Super Tucano planes were involved in this airstrike, Gabkwet said he did not believe so but added, “All of these things will come out when the investigation is done.”

By Rachel Chason and Ismail Alfa

The Washington Post

Related story: Officers killed in attack on Nigeria’s elite military academy

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Nigeria Recaptures 108 Inmates After Prison Outbreak

At least 108 out of 240 inmates who escaped from a prison in central Nigeria have been recaptured, a prison official said Tuesday.

Heavily armed gunmen stormed the Security Custodial Centre in Kabba, in Kogi State, late on Sunday, freeing scores of inmates.

It was unclear who the gunmen were but criminal gangs have terrorized central and northwest Nigeria for years.

“We have a total of 108 inmates rearrested,” Nigeria’s correctional service spokesman Francis Enobore told AFP by phone.

“But as the day progresses, the figure will definitely increase,” he added, saying “several processes have been activated to ensure all inmates are rearrested.”

At about 2245 GMT on Sunday, the spokesman had said earlier in a statement, numerous attackers “engaged the armed guards in a fierce gun battle.”

The gunmen invaded the prison, which had 294 prisoners in custody at the time, including 224 pre-trial detainees.

A soldier and a police officer lost their lives in the attack, Enobore later added.

Large prison outbreaks are not uncommon in Nigeria.

On April 5, gunmen raided Owerri police headquarters, in Nigeria’s southern Imo state, freeing more than 1,800 inmates.

In addition to fighting criminal gangs who also kidnap people for ransom and rustle cattle, Nigeria’s security forces are facing a violent jihadist insurgency in the northeast and separatist agitation in the southeast.

The Defense Post 

Related story: Militant group storm prison in Kogi and free 118 inmates

Nigeria faces one of its worst cholera outbreaks in years

Nigeria is seeing one of its worst cholera outbreaks in years, with more than 2,300 people dying from suspected cases as Africa's most populous country struggles to deal with multiple disease outbreaks.

This year's cholera outbreak, with a higher case fatality rate than the previous four years, is worsened by what many consider to be a bigger priority for state governments: the COVID-19 pandemic. Nigeria faces a resurgence of cases driven by the Delta variant, and less than 1% of the population has been fully vaccinated.

At least 69,925 suspected cholera cases were recorded as of Sept. 5 in 25 of Nigeria's 36 states and in the capital, Abuja, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control. Children between 5 and 14 are the most affected age group and the overall case fatality rate is 3.3%, more than double that of COVID-19's 1.3% case fatality rate in Nigeria.

At least 2,323 people have died from suspected cholera this year, but there are concerns that might be an undercount given that many affected communities are in hard to reach areas.

States in Nigeria's north where flooding and poor sanitation increase the risk of transmission are the hardest hit. The 19 states in the north account for 98% of the suspected cases.

Cholera is endemic and seasonal in Nigeria, where only 14% of the population of more than 200 million have access to safely managed drinking water supply services, according to government data from 2020, which also shows that open defecation is still practiced by at least 30% of residents in 14 states

Nigeria also continues to see regular outbreaks of yellow fever, Lassa fever, measles and other infectious diseases.

"We must remain conscious that these multiple outbreaks can further strain our health system," outgoing Nigeria CDC director-general Chikwe Ihekweazu told The Associated Press.

But he and other officials say the experience from those health crises has helped Nigeria prepare for the worst. "Prior investment in diagnostic capacity, case management, electronic surveillance systems, event-based surveillance, risk communication, logistic management systems and national/subnational workforce development have paid off significantly during COVID-19 pandemic," he said.

That has not contained cholera, however, and in some states, authorities have said COVID-19 has taken center stage.

In Kogi State, which has Nigeria's second-highest cholera case fatality rate at 24.5%, top health official Saka Haruna told the AP the rate is high because of the difficulty in accessing care in hard-to-reach areas.

Even in the capital, finding care has been challenging. Ese Umukoro said she had a "very difficult" experience when her brother, Samson, had cholera and was rejected at three hospitals before being admitted at the fourth. She asked the government to "try their best to at least give us good water to avoid that kind of sickness."

Sokoto State has Nigeria's fourth-highest count of suspected cholera cases, and its health commissioner told the AP that 22 of the 23 Local Government Areas have been hit by the outbreak.

"What is driving the infections is lack of good sanitary conditions in our villages and open defecation, aggravated by heavy rainfall," said Ali Inname.

It's a common problem. Government data from a study supported by UNICEF found access to safely managed sanitation services at just 21% nationwide.

Engineer Michael Oludare, an Oyo-based water scientist, said it is "very important" for authorities to provide basic water and sanitation. He said the poor, women, children and internally displaced people are among "those that will have problems when it comes to cholera."

Moreover, Nigeria still grapples with the challenge of inadequate vaccines and trained manpower to cover all Local Government Areas where the cholera outbreak has been recorded.

By Chinedu Asadu


Monday, September 13, 2021

Video - Boko Haram victim recounts time in captivity

The Boko Haram insurgency has lasted for over a decade. The group began launching attacks in northern Nigeria. Beyond carrying out the devastating attacks, the group also kidnapped hundreds of girls and students. We talked to one of their victims, Fatima Buba Saleh. She spent years in captivity, before she was able to escape with her child.

Video - Top Nigerian squash player combines business and sports

Combining competitive sports with active business is no mean feat at all and can be mentally challenging. But Nigeria's top female squash player, Yemisi Ola-tunji, is managing to do just that. Here is CGTN's Deji Bademosi with her story.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Phone and internet shutdown in Nigerian state enters sixth day as security forces target kidnappers

Most residents in Nigeria's north western Zamfara State have welcomed a government directive ordering a shutdown of internet and phone communications now in its sixth day designed to combat a spate of banditry and ransom-seeking kidnappings plaguing the region.

Last Friday, mobile network providers were directed by Nigeria's telecom regulator to shut down communications in Zamfara for two weeks "to enable relevant security agencies to carry out required activities towards addressing the security challenge in the state," the Nigeria Communications Commission said in a letter to a telecom firm.

The directive came two days after at least 73 students were abducted from a state-run high school in Zamfara's Maradun district. Military authorities are undertaking targeted raids on the hideouts of kidnappers and other criminal gangs in the state, who are known locally as 'bandits.'

Zailani Bappa, a media adviser to the Zamfara State governor told CNN Wednesday from neighbouring Kaduna State that the suspension of phone services "gives security forces the upper hand against the bandits."

Some Zamfara residents told CNN they endorsed the government's decision to shut down communications in the state even though it came at a cost.

"I left Zamfara for Kaduna yesterday (Tuesday) because of the ban on mobile networks," a resident, Hamdan Shinkafi, told CNN. "I sell phones online. Since there is no network, there is no way I can sell my gadgets, but I'm not bothered about that because it's for the best," he added.

Shinkafi said many locals were in support of the phone blackout which runs simultaneously with the ongoing military operations in Zamfara.

"I'm in full support of the ban. Many people in Zamfara also support it," Shinkafi said. "Before I left, soldiers were combing through forests in search of bandits... Before now, everyone has been living in fear because of the bandits."

Another resident, Ahmad Maishanu, told CNN many locals were "trooping into neighbouring states where they can make phone calls."

"I'm in Abuja. I won't return to Zamfara until the phone blackout is lifted," he stated, adding "some residents were not initially happy with the network disruption, but they are now jubilating following the military operations going on in the state."

Zamfara and other neighboring north western states have been hit with several mass kidnappings by ransom-seeking gangs this year.

Prominent among the string of kidnappings in Zamfara was the abduction of over 200 schoolgirls in the town of Jangebe in February.

The students have since been freed, with authorities insisting no ransom was paid to secure their release.

The phone blackout is one of many measures enforced by authorities in Zamfara to curb banditry and recurring abductions in the state. Last week, Zamfara's Information Commissioner, Ibrahim Dosara, told CNN schools in the state had been closed down to avoid further attacks by gunmen. Dosara added that vehicular movements had also been restricted across the state.

The Zamfara government had earlier suspended the transportation of livestock beyond the state's borders while ordering the closure of weekly markets. 

By Nimi Princewill


Related story: Video - Is Nigeria's kidnapping crisis out of control?

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

The Duchess of Cornwall has become patron of Nigeria's first sexual assault referral center

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, has been named patron of Nigeria's first sexual assault referral center in Lagos, the country's largest city.

The Duchess, 74, has long campaigned against domestic abuse and sexual violence and said she is "delighted to become Patron of the Mirabel Center in Lagos," which was founded in 2013 to support survivors of sexual assault.

"It is a truly trailblazing organization, supporting survivors of rape and sexual assault as they seek healing and justice," she added. "Their vital work means that women need no longer suffer in silence and I am deeply grateful to all Mirabel's wonderful staff and volunteers."

The Duchess will be working with Nigerian and British Nigerian women to find ways to help the Mirabel Centre over the coming months, Clarence House said.

The center's founder, Itoro Eze-Anaba, told CNN Tuesday the Mirabel Center provides free medical and psychosocial support services to survivors of sexual violence and has assisted over 6,000 people since it started eight years ago.

She said the youngest survivor they have helped was a 3-month-old baby and the oldest, an 80-year-old woman.

Eze-Anaba added that having the duchess as patron will, among other things, enable the organization to boost the work it does for survivors of sexual violence, who are often too afraid to speak out.

"It will raise awareness about the center, and the issue of rape in Nigeria. When we started in 2013, we were seeing between 20 to 30 clients in a month. Now we see at least 70, sometimes more than 100 clients in a month. This means that more people are having the confidence to speak out," she said.

The Duchess of Cornwall became patron of the UK domestic abuse charity SafeLives last year.
"Sexual violence in Nigeria is rampant but shrouded in secrecy because of the stigma that is associated with it," Eze-Anaba said.

A report by UN Women found that 30 percent of women and girls aged between 15 and 49 have experienced sexual abuse in Nigeria.

The report also found that gender-based violence had worsened during the Covid crisis.
Last month, the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT) said at least 1,617 cases of sexual assault were recorded in the state between January and June this year.

The DSVRT further stated that more than 10,000 cases involving men, women, and children had been handled by the agency in the last two years.

"The current COVID-19 pandemic has further revealed the endemic nature of sexual violence. We have seen a huge number of children and women coming forward to report cases of sexual assault and rape," Eze-Anaba said. 


Friday, September 3, 2021

Video - Is Nigeria's kidnapping crisis out of control?

Nigeria’s government is struggling to tackle criminal gangs who have stepped up concerted attacks against village communities, schools, and colleges in northern states over the last eight months. Gang members popularly characterised as ‘bandits’ have kidnapped more than 1,000 students alone since they began abducting civilians for ransom payments in greater numbers in December. 

While some children and young adults have been freed through mediation, in many cases families and school administrators have paid the attackers to secure their release. With the central government of President Muhammadu Buhari and some state governors refusing to pay the gangs and many families unable to meet the ransom demands themselves, hundreds of people remain hostage. 

The gangs have launched increasingly bold attacks as central and state authorities try to tackle them. In an unexpected raid on an elite military academy in Kaduna on August 24, suspected gang members killed two officers and kidnapped another. In this episode of The Stream, we will look at how people in northern Nigeria are coping amid the advance of the gangs and what can be done to improve security and safety.

Schools in Nigerian state shut after mass kidnapping of students by gunmen

Schools in Nigeria's northwestern Zamfara State have been ordered closed after scores of students were kidnapped by gunmen on Wednesday.

At least 73 students were abducted from a state-run high school in Zamfara's Maradun district, local police said in a statement, adding that the high school was targeted by "armed bandits."
"The abduction followed the invasion of the school by a large number of armed bandits," according to Zamfara State Police Command.

"A search and rescue team has been deployed to work with the military to locate and rescue the abducted children... Security has also been beefed up at Kaya Village and environ to forestall further attacks on the communities," the statement added.

Zamfara's Information Commissioner, Ibrahim Dosara, told CNN on Thursday that schools in the state have been closed down to avoid further attacks.

"We have closed primary and secondary schools in the state," Dosara said, adding "but schools currently writing examinations are asked to stay behind until they finish their examinations... Heavy security presence will be provided to protect those writing exams."

The latest kidnapping comes days after 91 schoolchildren earlier abducted in north-central Niger State were released by their captors after thousands of dollars were paid by their families as ransom.
Peter Hawkins, UNICEF's representative in Nigeria told CNN the Zamfara kidnapping "highlights the fragility of education and security" in the state.

"The bandits have reached a stage now where all schools in Zamfara state have been closed down through their actions. The impact this will have on children who want to learn will be profound — not only on those 73 children whose lives are at stake for purposes of extortion, but for all children in Zamfara who are prevented from being able to go to school and learn," said Hawkins, who added that an estimated 1.3 million Nigerian children have been affected by frequent raids on schools by gunmen.
Kidnapping for ransom has become one of the major security challenges in Nigeria, with Zamfara and other neighbouring northwestern states being hit with several mass kidnappings this year.

Prominent among the string of kidnappings in Zamfara was the abduction of over 200 schoolgirls in the town of Jangebe in February. The students have since been freed, with authorities insisting no ransom was paid to secure their release.

Between June 2011 and the end of March 2020, an estimated $18.34 million was paid in ransoms, Lagos-based SBM Intelligence said in a report last year titled "The economics of the kidnap industry in Nigeria."

Amnesty International has described this latest incident in Zamfara as "disturbing," saying in a tweet that "attacks on schools and abductions of children are war crimes."

"The children abducted are in serious risk of being harmed. Nigerian authorities must take all measures to return them to safety," Amnesty added. 

By Nimi Princewill and Sarah Dean 


Related stories: Gunmen release some students in northern Nigeria months after kidnapping

Bandits release 15 students after parents pay ransom

Kidnapped Nigeria Chibok girl free after seven years

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation is considering an initial public offer of its shares after declaring profit for the first time in its 44 years of operation in the 2020 financial year. This comes after President Muhammadu Buhari, signed into law the Petroleum Industry Act, which enables the state-owned oil giant to offer its shares to the public. Listing of NNPC's shares will draw on the experience of the Saudi Arabian oil giant, Aramco, which listed its shares in 2019. The news of the proposed sales of NNPC shares to the public and its subsequent listing on the Nigerian exchange limited is expected to help improve transparency and accountability at the oil firm which had been bedeviled with large scale corruption.

Nigeria and Russia Sign Military Cooperation Agreement

The Nigerian Embassy in Moscow announced last week the signing of a legal framework agreement that would provide for Russia to supply Nigeria with military equipment and training. The Agreement on Military-Technical Cooperation also provides for “after-sales services, training of personnel in respective educational establishments, and technology transfer.” Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari reportedly raised the possibility of such an agreement with Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2019.

Media sees the agreement as related to U.S. congressional hesitancy to authorize the sale to Nigeria of certain military equipment because of human rights concerns. Indeed, ​Nigerian desire to buy such materiel—and American reluctance to sell, often on human rights grounds—is a perennial irritant to the bilateral relationship. Nigeria already uses military equipment from Russia and other military suppliers as well as the United States.

The just-signed agreement is a legal framework only; Nigeria has not entered into a new agreement actually to make new purchases. With respect to Nigeria, Russia is likely to be “transactional”—can its companies make money? Any accompanying increase in political influence Moscow will regard as a secondary dividend. 

By John Campbell