Friday, December 30, 2022

Former Miss Nigeria dies at 75

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Former Miss Nigeria, Foluke Abosede Ntukdem, has passed on peacefully in her sleep at her Lagos residence.

She died on Monday, 19th of December, 2022, as confirmed by the family

She was 75.

The deceased represented Western State at the beauty pageant and won the competition to become Miss Nigeria in 1968.

She also represented Nigeria at the 18th edition of Miss World held in the British capital in November 1968, which Miss Australia Penny Plummer won.

The son of the late beauty queen, Mfon, when contacted on Thursday, confirmed to our correspondent that his mother died in her sleep.

“My mum, Mrs Foluke Abosede Ntukidem (neeOgundipe), died last Monday, 19th December, at age 75. She had been Miss Nigeria in 1968. We are concluding arrangements and selecting pictures which we will share once concluded,” he said.

ByDimeji Kayode-Adedeji, Premium Times

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Video - New currency in Nigeria to affect small businesses according to World Bank



The World Bank has said Nigeria's new currency regime will affect small businesses negatively.The Washington lender expressed this concern in its Nigeria Development Update report.

CGTN

Naira hits record low

Nigeria's naira extended losses on the official market on Wednesday to a record low of 461 to the dollar, as trading resumed after the Christmas holiday and the currency weakened to cope with high foreign exchange demand.

The currency hit a low of 460.20 naira by 11:04 GMT, down from its opening position of 454.98 naira, Refinitiv data showed.

"It's a shift from previous levels. Supply is limited," a currency trader at a local bank said.

The currency has fallen to successive lows across both the official and black markets due to dollar scarcity since last year after the central bank intervened to ease pressure on the spot market, where the naira has been trading within a range.

"The scarcity is still there yet clients are doing trades with guides from the regulator," the trader said.

The naira dropped to a two-month low on the official market last week and weakened across the board on

the forwards market.

By Chijioke Ohuocha, Reuters

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Car crash into street party in Nigeria leaves 7 dead

An out-of-control car crashed into a crowd at a large street party in southern Nigeria on Tuesday, leaving seven people dead and many others injured, authorities told The Associated Press.

The driver lost control of the car on a packed street in Calabar, Cross River State capital, just as people were gathering to watch a bikers parade at the Calabar carnival, Nigeria’s Federal Road Safety Corps said.

Tuesday’s bikers show is one of the main highlights of the carnival event known as one of Africa's biggest street parties. The annual carnival has regularly drawn people from across Nigeria and beyond since it began nearly two decades ago.

Thousands had gathered to watch the bikers’ stunts when the car smashed into people, scattering bodies and leaving the injured along the road, witnesses said.

Hassan Abdullahi Maikano, head of the road safety corps in Cross River, told AP that the car was traveling at high speed when it ran through security controls.

“The motorist lost control and ran into the crowd. The total number involved were 36; seven died and 29 got injured,” said Maikano, adding five of the injured were children. The driver survived but was injured, he added.

Cross River Gov. Ben Ayade ordered the parade canceled and the driver placed under arrest, according to Christian Ita, his spokesman.

Ita said the governor has extended his sympathies to the victims and their families and ordered an immediately investigation into how the crash occurred.

By Chinedu Asadu, AP

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

How a grandmother in Nigeria became an internet start



Hamsatu Izang sings out as she hammers rocks into small gravel pieces for the construction industry. Singing brings her joy and peace, she says, amid this hard manual labour. But when a local music producer hears her song, her life takes a surprising turn and a whole new world opens up. This film follows Mama Hamsatu as she navigates two very different realities, her work as a lifelong stone crusher and a new role as a singing star, in the hope that her new success might bring lasting change. Dorcas Sheffy Bello is a multimedia journalist and filmmaker from Jos, Nigeria. She is the founder of Unzipped Stories Africa, and has won awards for scriptwriting and reporting. Her documentary on polio, Not All Darkness, has won many regional plaudits. 

Al Jazeera 

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

 

Video - Makoko faces new threat



Makoko is located in the country's commercial city of Lagos and is mainly inhabited by a fishing community that has lived there for about a century. Residents fear they could be evicted by the government to pave way for new development.

CGTN

Christmas spirited dampened in Nigeria due to economic hardship



Christmas is marked with joyous celebrations as in most parts of the world. Shopping, sharing of gifts, traveling and other activities mark the Christmas season. This year is however witnessing muted celebrations due to economic hardships.

CGTN

Dance carnival in Nigeria helps residents reclaim streets






 

 

 

 

 

 

In a street in a poor neighbourhood of Lagos, a bare-chested young man, Gift Eze, holds his screaming partner, helping calm the rage within and stop him fighting.

Residents of Oworonshoki have seen their share of violence, with robberies and tit-for-tat gang murders once commonplace in this part of Nigeria's vast, boisterous commercial capital.

But the scene on Christmas Eve, a dance routine between two men caked in chalk, showed how far the community has come since the annual Slum Party, an art event using dance to tell stories of the local community, was established four years ago.

Days of dance workshops culminated with an all-day carnival aiming to reclaim the streets and reduce tensions between rival gangs. Before long, onlookers were dancing along with the drums, blurring the lines between performers and their audience.

"We are using dance as a focal point ... to come to the community and just talk about the various socio-political issues that needed to be addressed, using a party as the template," said Sunday Ozegbe-Obiajulu, who founded the event.

Eze, one of the Slum Party's participants, said the event has been transformational.

"I've been able to achieve a big goal in my life, and Slum Party has really changed a whole lot for me," he said.

Community leader Oriyomi Akeem said Slum Party has helped bring peace to a neighbourhood once known as a no-go area overrun by gangs. "Now everything is calm and good," Akeem said.

Ozegbe-Obiajulu hopes the carnival's success could be replicated by people in other troubled areas of Nigeria and beyond.

"With their dance, their poetry, their music, they can definitely use it to bring some sort of attention to their community, they can also use it to inspire the young ones." 

By Seun Sanni, Reuters

Friday, December 23, 2022

Video - What lies ahead in upcoming Presidential election in Nigeria

 

After a year where countries in Africa faced the impact of climate change, navigated political and social challenges, and celebrated sporting achievements, people across the continent are now looking ahead to the new year. In this episode of The Stream, we'll look at three stories in Africa that will be headline news in 2023. 

Nigeria decides Africa's most populous country is preparing to hold a general election in February that will decide who succeeds President Muhammadu Buhari at the end of his second and final term. 

Bola Tinubu, the nominee of the ruling All Progressives Congress, is expected to face a strong challenge from People’s Democratic Party nominee Atiku Abubakar, who lost to Buhari in the 2019 election.

Peter Obi of the Labour Party is also expected to be firmly in the running. Eligible voters across the country of 211 million people will also choose members of the Senate and House of Representatives in the election. But as economic and security issues weigh on the minds of the electorate, there are concerns that recent attacks on election commission offices could undermine the free and fair running of the landmark vote. 

We'll look at the issues at stake in the final stretch of campaigning. Sudan in transition? Sudan’s military coup leaders and a coalition of civilian pro-democracy parties reached a framework deal on December 5 that proponents hope will lead to a transitional civilian government and a new constitution. But while members of the Forces of Freedom and Change say the internationally-brokered agreement provides a fresh chance for lasting political reform after the failure of previous deals, it does not have universal support. 

Protesters allied with neighbourhood resistance committees say the deal grants too much undue power to the military and paramilitary groups and is a betrayal of those killed and injured in protests in the wake of the military takeover in October 2021. 

We'll ask what lies ahead for Sudan in 2023. Zimbabwe’s election season Presidential and parliamentary elections in Zimbabwe are expected to go ahead in 2023, in what is widely expected to be a tightly-fought race between the ruling ZANU-PF of President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change, led by Nelson Chamisa. Millions of people across the country have long endured economic hardship and now daily power cuts have made day-to-day life even harder. 

And in an increasingly fractious political environment journalists covering political events have faced harassment and assaults by party supporters, raising fears of widespread violence at the time of the election. We'll look at the challenges people in Zimbabwe are facing in the run-up to what could be a critical vote in the country’s history.

Al Jazeera

Related story: Video - Presidential hopeful Peter Obi on his plans for Nigeria


Public debt in Nigeria reaches all time high of $102 billion



Nigeria's massive debt is largely driven by government borrowing to finance the budget deficit. Experts warn the debt stock is likely to reach 40 percent of the country's GDP by 2025.

CGTN

Video - Military operation leaves 70 dead in Nigeria



Nearly 70 people were killed following a military airstrike targeting bandits in Zamfara State on Sunday. Nigerian media reports say the military was responding to bandit attacks in Malele, Ruwan Tofa and Yan-Awake communities. Witnesses say those who died include militants and civilians. 

CGTN

$15m settlement to be paid by Shell for oil spills in Nigeria

Shell will pay 15 million euros ($15.9m) to communities in Nigeria that were affected by multiple oil pipeline leaks in the Niger Delta, the oil company has announced.

“The settlement is on a no admission of liability basis, and settles all claims and ends all pending litigation related to the spills,” Shell said on Friday in a joint statement with the Dutch division of Friends of the Earth.

The compensation is the result of a Dutch court case brought by Friends of the Earth, in which Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary SPDC was last year found to be responsible for the oil spills and was ordered to pay for damages to farmers.

The money will benefit the communities of Oruma, Goi and Ikot Ada Udo in Nigeria, which were affected by four oil spills that occurred between 2004 and 2007.

An independent expert had confirmed that SPDC has installed a leak detection system on the KCTL pipeline in compliance with the appeal court’s orders, the company added.

The case was brought in 2008 by four farmers and the environmental group Friends of the Earth, seeking reparations for lost income from contaminated land and waterways in the region, the heart of Nigeria’s oil industry.

In 2020 and 2021, Nigeria’s National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) recorded 822 combined oil spills, totalling 28,003 barrels of oil spewed into the environment. And experts say life expectancy in the Niger Delta is now 41 years, 10 years lower than the national average.

After the appeals court’s final ruling last year, Shell said it continued to believe the spills were caused by sabotage.

But the court said Shell had not proven “beyond reasonable doubt” that sabotage had caused the spill, rather than poor maintenance.

Reuters

Related stories: Video - Shell due in court over damages the oil company has caused in Nigeria

Video - Chevron oil drilling disaster in Nigeria enters fourth week

Thursday, December 22, 2022

First phase of light rail project by Chinese company completed in Nigeria

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Nigeria's southwestern state of Lagos on Wednesday marked the completion of the first phase of a 27-km electric-powered light rail project.

Undertaken by China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) since 2010, the completed tracks of the Lagos Rail Mass Transit (LRMT) Blue Line project span 13 km in the first phase and cover five stations.

The LRMT Blue Line project is the first rail infrastructure traversing Okokomaiko, a densely populated area in the western part of Lagos, and Marina, a business district on Lagos Island.

It is part of an ambitious transport master plan, which aims to meet the demands of the state as Nigeria's commercial and economic hub and one of the world's fastest-growing megacities.

Declaring the completion of construction on the Blue Line project at a ceremony, Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, governor of Lagos, described the moment as "historic," saying Lagos became the first sub-national government in West Africa to fund and deliver a rail system from the state's balance sheet.

Sanwo-Olu said the milestone was a culmination of "impactful reforms" initiated in the state's transport ecosystem.

"Today, we are making history with the completion of the historic rail line, which is the first phase of the Blue Line," Sanwo-Olu said. "Now, we have put the challenges behind us; from now on, we will focus on the benefits of this project for our people."

The governor said the construction of the second phase of the Blue Line rail project, which covers 14 km, will be launched immediately after the inauguration of the first phase next month.

More than 2,000 Chinese and local employees worked together to optimize the construction even in the face of multiple challenges, such as complicated geology and the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Chu Maoming, China's consul general in Lagos.

Huge infrastructure projects like the railway construction would continue to energize the Nigerian economy and promote speedy development, Chu said.

Speaking at the event, Zhang Zhichen, chairman of CCECC Nigeria Limited, said the Chinese firm will continue to maintain the enterprise spirit of "diligence, integrity, and tenacity" while building the follow-up projects with high quality and efficiency.

The first phase of the LMRT Blue Line project is expected to carry over 250,000 passengers daily when in full operation.

Xihua

Related stories: China to invest $40b in Nigeria

China offers Nigeria $6 billion loan for infrastructure

China to build $12 billion railway system in Nigeria

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Video - What lies ahead in Nigeria's Presidential Election?

 

After a year where countries in Africa faced the impact of climate change, navigated political and social challenges, and celebrated sporting achievements, people across the continent are now looking ahead to the new year. In this episode of The Stream, we'll look at three stories in Africa that will be headline news in 2023. 

Nigeria decides Africa's most populous country is preparing to hold a general election in February that will decide who succeeds President Muhammadu Buhari at the end of his second and final term. Bola Tinubu, the nominee of the ruling All Progressives Congress, is expected to face a strong challenge from People’s Democratic Party nominee Atiku Abubakar, who lost to Buhari in the 2019 election. Peter Obi of the Labour Party is also expected to be firmly in the running. 

Eligible voters across the country of 211 million people will also choose members of the Senate and House of Representatives in the election. But as economic and security issues weigh on the minds of the electorate, there are concerns that recent attacks on election commission offices could undermine the free and fair running of the landmark vote. 

We'll look at the issues at stake in the final stretch of campaigning. Sudan in transition? Sudan’s military coup leaders and a coalition of civilian pro-democracy parties reached a framework deal on December 5 that proponents hope will lead to a transitional civilian government and a new constitution. 

But while members of the Forces of Freedom and Change say the internationally-brokered agreement provides a fresh chance for lasting political reform after the failure of previous deals, it does not have universal support. 

Protesters allied with neighbourhood resistance committees say the deal grants too much undue power to the military and paramilitary groups and is a betrayal of those killed and injured in protests in the wake of the military takeover in October 2021. We'll ask what lies ahead for Sudan in 2023. 

Zimbabwe’s election season Presidential and parliamentary elections in Zimbabwe are expected to go ahead in 2023, in what is widely expected to be a tightly-fought race between the ruling ZANU-PF of President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change, led by Nelson Chamisa.

Millions of people across the country have long endured economic hardship and now daily power cuts have made day-to-day life even harder. And in an increasingly fractious political environment journalists covering political events have faced harassment and assaults by party supporters, raising fears of widespread violence at the time of the election. We'll look at the challenges people in Zimbabwe are facing in the run-up to what could be a critical vote in the country’s history.

Al Jazeera

Gay Wedding Raided in Nigeria - 19 Arrested

The Islamic police have arrested 19 people accused of organizing a gay wedding in the city of Kano, in conservative northern Nigeria, a spokesman said Tuesday (December 20).

Kano is one of 12 northern Nigerian states that introduced sharia law in 2000, where Islamic courts operate alongside the state judicial system.

This is not the first time the Islamic police have made arrests, accusing youths of organizing a gay wedding. Each time, the suspects have denied it, saying they had gathered to celebrate.


Homosexuality is punishable by death under Islamic law, but no execution has ever been carried out.

The 19 people, 15 women and four men in their 20s were arrested Sunday in a multipurpose hall, Lawan Ibrahim Fagge, a spokesman for the Islamic police, told AFP.

"Our men broke into the venue where a gay couple was holding a wedding and arrested 19 men and women, including the wedding planner," he said.

However, Fagge said the alleged couple managed to escape and police are looking for them.

The suspects, meanwhile, have been taken into custody pending further investigation, the spokesman said.

In 2014, Africa's most populous country - which is very religious - passed a law against same-sex marriage. Since then, homosexuality has been punishable by 10 to 14 years in prison.

The Islamic police, the "Hisbah" in Kano, have in the past arrested several people accused of planning gay and lesbian marriages, without any convictions.

In 2018, the Hisbah arrested 11 young women on charges of planning a lesbian wedding.

They had refuted the charge, stating that they belonged to a dance club and wanted to celebrate the appointment of their club's president.

In January 2015, the Hisbah arrested 12 young men at a hotel in the suburbs of Kano on suspicion of planning a gay wedding. The youth had also denied it, saying they were planning a friend's birthday party.

African News

Related stories: Dozens arrested in Nigeria after anti-gay law passes

Wole Soyinka advises anti-gay bill legislators to go back to school

Dozens on trial in Nigeria over gay wedding

Video - Nigeria's anti-gay law denounced

$2 bln extra budget for flood damage approved by Buhari

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari has approved an 819.5 billion naira ($2 billion) supplementary budget for 2022 to help deal with the impact of recent flooding, after the widespread destruction of farmland, the Senate President said on Wednesday.

Severe flooding this year has destroyed farmland, roads and dams, raising food security concerns as high food prices add to concern over double-digit inflation.

Nigeria is also battling with insurgents in the northeast and crude oil theft in its oil-producing regions in the south which has slashed oil output and government revenues.

"The year 2022 has witnessed most flood incidents in recent history, which has caused massive destruction of farm lands at the point already close to harvest season," Buhari said in a letter read by the Senate President to lawmakers.

"This may compound the situation of hostility and aggression in the country," he said.

Nigeria is also trying to stabilise its ailing currency, curb surging inflation and boost economic growth.

Buhari said the new spending will be financed through domestic borrowing, which will raise the deficit for 2022 to 4.43% of GDP.

The government expects the deficit to widen to 4.78% in 2023 as spending rises in an election year in which Buhari will not stand for re-election to due term limits.

Economists warn that the Nigerian government is spending more money on debt repayments than on education and health, but Buhari has said his government had no choice but to borrow its way out of two recessions in the past seven years.

Buhari has approved a 20.51 trillion naira ($45 billion) budget for 2023, up 18.4% from this year.

Nigerian lawmakers expect to pass the 2023 budget on Thursday, the speaker of the lower house of parliament told reporters late on Tuesday after a meeting with the president.

By Camillus Eboh, Reuters

Related stories: Displaced by devastating floods, Nigerians are forced to use floodwater despite cholera risk

Nigeria’s Buhari orders formulation of action plan to prevent flood disasters

Video - Nigeria floods cause food, fuel shortages for over a million people

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Cholera outbreak in Nigeria brings death toll to 51

The death toll from a cholera outbreak that hit at least 10 villages in Nigeria's southern state of Cross River rose from 20 to 51 on Monday, a local traditional ruler said.

The additional 31 victims died between Sunday and Monday, Bernard Egbe, a tribal chief in the Ekureku community of Abi local government area in Cross River, where the outbreak has been recorded, told media.

Four of the cholera patients in local hospitals are in critical condition, Egbe said.

Local health authorities said on Sunday that the cholera outbreak began on Thursday, prompting the government to deploy human and material resources to the affected villages to prevent the virulent disease from further spreading.

Janet Ekpeyong, head of the Cross River Primary Healthcare Development Agency, told reporters Sunday that the deaths could have been avoided if protocols were followed in the affected villages.

As a measure to manage the outbreak, Ekpeyong said the government had so far established communication with the community leaders to ensure their communities adhere to hygiene protocols to end cholera and other related illnesses in that part of the country.

In addition, she said treatment of the water source and fumigation were ongoing, noting the community had been grappling with challenges associated with a lack of potable water and poor health facilities.

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

Cholera outbreaks are frequently reported in Nigeria due to a lack of potable water supply, especially in densely populated areas.

Xinhua 

Related stories: Displaced by devastating floods, Nigerians are forced to use floodwater despite cholera risk

Nigeria faces one of its worst cholera outbreaks in years

Possible review of U.S. security assistance to Nigeria after Reuters abortion report

U.S. Senator Jim Risch, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has requested a review of U.S. security assistance and cooperation programs in Nigeria following Reuters reporting on an illegal abortion program and killing of children carried out by the Nigerian military.

Risch, in a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken seen by Reuters, also called for the State Department to examine the potential use of sanctions in addition to an expeditious review of U.S. security assistance and cooperation.

"I look forward to hearing more about the Department's planned response to the serious and abhorrent allegations levied against a long-standing beneficiary of U.S. security assistance and cooperation which, if deemed credible, have done irreparable harm to a generation of Nigerian citizens and to U.S. credibility in the region," Risch said in the letter dated Friday.

Nigeria's information minister was not immediately available to comment on the requested review.

A Reuters investigation this month found that since at least 2013, the Nigerian military has conducted a secret, systematic and illegal abortion program in the country’s northeast, ending at least 10,000 pregnancies among women and girls.

Many had been kidnapped and raped by Islamist militants. Resisters were beaten, held at gunpoint or drugged into compliance, witnesses say.

Nigerian military leaders denied the program has ever existed and said Reuters reporting was part of a foreign effort to undermine the country's fight against the insurgents.

Last week, Reuters also reported that the Nigerian Army and allied security forces have slaughtered children during their gruelling 13-year war against Islamist extremists in the country’s northeast.

Nigerian military leaders told Reuters the army has never targeted children for killing. They said that the reporting in the article was an insult to Nigerians and part of a foreign effort to undermine the country’s fight against the insurgents.

Nigeria's military chief on Friday called on the National Human Rights Commission to launch an independent investigation into the illegal abortion program reported by Reuters, according to reports.

The Human Rights Commission had already said it would launch an investigation, according to reports.

A U.S. State Department spokesperson, asked about Risch's letter, said the United States is still reviewing the Reuters reporting and will then determine next steps.

"Decisions to proceed with the provision of military training and equipment are made on a case-by-case basis and consider a variety of factors, including respect for human rights and adherence to the law of armed conflict," the spokesperson said.

"Our existing defense sales to Nigeria include robust components focused on human rights, preventing civilian harm, and promoting military justice and accountability."

The department vets all Nigerian security force units nominated for applicable training and assistance and does not provide security assistance to a force unit if there is credible information indicating it has committed a gross violation of human rights, the spokesperson added.

Earlier this year, the United States approved nearly $1 billion in weapons sales to Nigeria, after Nigeria took delivery last year of Embraer-made A-29 Super Tucanos, a slow-flying plane that can provide close air support to infantry much like a helicopter.

The deal, approved in April, had been put on hold over concerns about possible human rights abuses by the Nigerian government.

The United States has also obligated about $6 million between 2016 and 2020 for the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program.

By David Lewis, Reuters

Related stories: U.S. call on investigation of Reuters report of children allegedly killed by Nigerian government

Nigeria government denies Reuters report of mass ‘abortion programme’ of Boko Haram victims

Reuters expose Nigerian military abortion programme

Monday, December 19, 2022

Davido performs at the 2022 World Cup finals






 

 

 

 

 

 

In a history-making event, Nigerian superstar Davido joined the duo of Aisha and Trinidad Cardona to perform ‘Hayya Hayya’ (Better Together) at the finals of the 2022 FIFA World Cup 2022 Official on Sunday.

The track is the first single of the multi-song FIFA 2022 World Cup 2022 official soundtrack.

It is Davido’s first public performance since his son, Ifeanyi, died in an unfortunate drowning incident in September.

The trio performed the FIFA theme song before the estimated 88,000 fans in attendance at Lusail Iconic Stadium, Qatar.

The tournament’s closing ceremony, which FIFA dubbed ‘A Night to Remember’, also featured a performance by Puerto Rican reggaeton singer Ozuna and French rapper Gims’ collaboration Arhbo’.

Moroccan-Canadian singer Nora Fatehi, Emirati pop star Balqees, Iraqi musician Rahma Riad and Moroccan vocalist Manal concluded performances with ‘Light the Sky’.

The trio emerged from underneath the stage, simulating a blossoming flower.
History made

Davido made history as the first Nigerian artiste to perform on a FIFA World Cup stage.

It is the first time that the tournament’s soundtrack will feature a multi-song collection, with international singers showcasing diverse musical genres that span the world setting.

During the tournament, other Nigerian singers, Kizz Daniel and Patoranking performed before football lovers at the FIFA fan arena in a series of concerts by the football governing body.

Amid speculations, Davido, who arrived in Qatar before his appearance at the FIFA 2022 World Cup’s closing ceremony, was supposed to perform at the beginning of the football tournament but couldn’t.

The ‘Stand Strong’ singer’s appearance at the World Cup was first announced on Thursday by Chinese businessman Stephen Hung on Instagram.

Before then, the singer’s fans doubted whether he would form as he had maintained a social media silence after his son died.
Fans react

Unknown to many, Nollywood actress and filmmaker Omoni Oboli is one of Davido’s biggest fans.

The actress spared no words in celebrating the arrival of the singer and his wife, Chioma, at Qatar, the venue of the World Cup.

“My joy is full. My love for these 2 is something even I can’t comprehend. We are all praying and rooting for you,” she captioned a photo of their arrival on Twitter.
Background

Although he is the first Nigerian to grace the World Cup stage, other Africans have been privileged to perform at the acclaimed arena.

In 1998, Senegalese singer Youssou N’Dour and Axelle Red performed their song ‘La Cour des Grands’ (Do You Mind If I Play) at the tournament’s opening ceremony hosted by France.

The song was from the album, ‘Music of the World Cup: Allez! Ola! Ole’, released in 1998 by Sony Music Entertainment.

It was also chosen as the official anthem of the FIFA World Cup that year.

Also, Grammy-winning singer Angelique Kidjo performed at the 2010 FIFA World Cup held in South Africa.

She was one of the headline artists for the Kick-Off Celebration Concert in Johannesburg.

By Ovwe Medeme, Premium Times

Related story: 3-year-old son of Davido drowns in home pool in Nigeria

Nigeria to possibly make Bitcoin usage legal






 

 

 

 

A local Nigerian newspaper has reported that Babangida Ibrahim, chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Capital Market and Institutions of Nigeria, claimed the country will soon pass a law making the usage of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies legal. The bill would amend the 2007 Investments and Securities Act and would recognize bitcoin as legal capital for investment.

Back in February of 2021, Nigeria effectively banned the usage of bitcoin with a letter prohibiting regulated financial businesses from “dealing” with cryptocurrencies. In the same year, Bitcoin Magazine reported Nigeria soaring to the largest volume of bitcoin peer-to-peer trading in the world, and Chainanalysis reports showed that Nigeria had greatly accelerated bitcoin adoption.


The newspaper report described how Ibrahim pointed to Nigeria being behind in regards to regulation of the industry, saying “Like I said earlier during the second reading, we need an efficient and vibrant capital market in Nigeria. For us to do that, we have to be up to date global practices.”

If the proposed regulation properly addresses the growing bitcoin usage within the country, it could be a major catalyst for the African continent’s most populated country.

Bitcoin has had a large presence in the country despite the current ban, including the construction of a Bitcoin village, Nigerian Bitcoiners participating in all sorts of development, philanthropic work from Bitcoin companies and mining being an active industry there. 

Bitcoin Magazine

Related stories: Thriving Under Pressure: Why Crypto Is Booming in Nigeria Despite the Banking Ban

Digital art thrives among crypto-curious Nigerian artists

Friday, December 16, 2022

Imam Sentenced to Death Over Blasphemy in Nigeria

A Nigerian Shariah court has sentenced a prominent Sufi Muslim cleric to death for blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad in a rare capital punishment ruling against an imam.

The Upper Shariah court sentenced Sheikh Abduljabbar Nasiru Kabara for what was seen as his revisionist preaching.

Blasphemy is a sensitive issue that can lead to a death sentence in a dozen predominantly Muslim states in northern Nigeria, where Islamic law operates alongside common law.

Death sentences are rarely carried out.

Judge Abdullahi Sarki Yola found Kabara guilty of blasphemy. He had been in custody since his arrest in July 2021.

"This court has established all the charges brought against you and hereby sentences you to death in accordance with Shariah provision on blasphemy," Yola said during the hourlong judgment.

The judge ordered the confiscation of Kabara's two mosques and his personal library.

Kabara sat quietly throughout the judgment in the courtroom packed with lawyers and journalists, with scores of armed police and other paramilitary personnel on guard outside.

Kabara objected to his counsel's plea for leniency and maintained his innocence, calling on his followers to remain calm.

Kabara, from the Qadiriyya Sufi order, has been at odds with other Sunni Muslim clerics in northern Nigeria, particularly ultraconservative Salafi.

Their disagreement stemmed from his approach to Islamic history and theology, which he claims are replete with myths, lies, distortions and concoctions.

Kabara's opponents accused him of insulting the companions of the prophet, some of whom Kabara accused of lying about the prophet, and maliciously portraying him in a bad light.

Kabara's conviction for blasphemy is the third in recent years in Kano.

In August 2020, a Shariah court in the city gave the death penalty to singer Yahaya Aminu Sharif from the Tijjaniyya Sufi order for a song he shared online that was found to have blasphemed the prophet. His case is on retrial.

Abdul Nyass, a Tijjaniyya Sufi Muslim cleric, was sentenced to death in 2015 for blasphemy against the prophet in his preaching. The sentence has not been carried out.

In April, a Kano high court jailed Mubarak Bala, an atheist, to 24 years for blasphemous online posts against the prophet.

AFP

Related stories: Mob kills student over ‘blasphemy’ in northern Nigerian college

Nigerian singer sentenced to death for blasphemy in Kano state

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Nigeria church attack video restored to Instagram by Meta's Oversight Board

Meta's Oversight Board on Wednesday overturned a decision to remove a video that was shared on Instagram showing the gruesome aftermath of an attack on a church in Nigeria that killed at least 40 people.

The video showing motionless, bloodied bodies on the floor, apparently the aftermath of the church attack that took place on June 5 in Owo, southwest Nigeria, was shared by an Instagram user on the same day.

Meta removed the video, saying hashtags added by the user could be read as glorifying violence and minimizing suffering. The user appealed against the removal to the independent board.

The board on Wednesday asked Meta to restore the post with a "disturbing content" warning screen, saying this would protect victims' privacy while allowing for discussion of events.

"Nigeria is experiencing an ongoing series of terrorist attacks and the Nigerian government has suppressed coverage of some of them, though it does not appear to have done so in relation to the June 5 attack," the board said.

"The Board agrees that in such contexts freedom of expression is particularly important."

Nigerian authorities have accused insurgents from the Islamic State in West Africa group of carrying out the attack on St Francis Catholic Church, which took place during Pentecost Sunday mass. Five suspects were arrested in August.

The Nigerian government has been exploring ways to regulate social media use in the country, Africa's most populous. Millions of Nigerians are active users of YouTube, Twitter , Facebook (META.O) and TikTok.

The West African country has asked Google to block the use of YouTube channels and livestreams by banned groups and terrorist organizations in the country. 

By MacDonald Dzirutwe, Reuters

Relates story: Video - Nigeria church attack: Survivors face grief, trauma





12-year-old Nigerian chess prodigy and his family granted asylum by U.S.






 

 

 

 

 

 

Chess prodigy Tanitoluwa "Tani" Adewumi and his family, who fled Nigeria in 2017 fearing attacks by the terror group Boko Haram, have officially been granted asylum in the United States, the family confirmed to CBS News Wednesday.

Tani, now 12, rose to fame at just 8-years-old, when he defeated 73 of the best chess players in his age group in New York to win his division in the state championship, and set a record in the process.

"We thank God for his mercy and the people of America for their kindness," Kayode Adewumi, the boy's father, told CBS News in a text message. Kayode indicated that Tani will now be able to compete internationally.


In 2019, the family told CBS News they were living in a homeless shelter while trying to support Tani's goals of becoming a grandmaster in the sport.

At 10 years old, Tani became the 28th-youngest chess player to become a national master in the U.S. Chess Federation. He has since become an International Chess Federation (FIDE) master, after winning the under-12 division of the North American Youth Chess Championship in 2021.

Tani's father told CBS News the family's next goal is to obtain U.S. citizenship.

By Greg Cannella,  CBS

Related story: Bill Clinton praises 8-year old Nigerian chess prodigy seeking refugee status in the U.S.

Is this Nigerian teen the next women's golf prodigy?

Nigeria’s Ambassador to Spain, Demola Seriki, passes away at 63




 

 

 

 

 

The Nigerian ambassador to Spain, Demola Seriki has died at the age of 63.

The news of his death was made public in a statement signed by his children, the former minister was said to have passed away “surrounded by his family” on Thursday, December 15.

“It is with heavy hearts and profound gratitude to Almighty Allah that we announce the loss of our much loved and admired patriarch, husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, and friend,” the statement reads.

Born on November 30, 1959, Seriki was a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos State, and a one-time Minister of State for Defence.

As Nigeria’s Ambassador to Spain, he had concurrent accreditation as a permanent representative of Nigeria to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

Vanguard

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Women led startups in Nigeria winning over investors


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At Nigerian snack company ReelFruit's Lagos warehouse a woman places handfuls of dried mangoes in bags and workers hammer open coconuts to scrape out the flesh. The company is expanding production and exports after a $3 million investment.

ReelFruit is part of a burgeoning group of female-founded Nigerian startups attracting investor cash as women stake more claim to the funding and as some financiers look to support female-led companies and redress a gender gap.

Africa's female-founded companies got just 3% of the $1.7 billion invested in the continent's startups in the past decade, according to emerging market intelligence firm Briter Bridges. But last year, equity rounds from female-founded African startups raised $834 million, a 284% increase and 20% of the total.

ReelFruit is led by 36-year-old Affiong Williams, who said securing major cash was an arduous process.

"The difficulty is that maybe in the areas where a lot of money is flowing to, women are not represented," she told Reuters. "And I think that's what needs to change."

Much of the money invested in startups heads to technology and finance projects.

Ifeoluwa Dare-Johnson, co-founder of Healthtracka, said fundraising for her company, which aims to make medical diagnosis accessible and affordable, was also a bumpy journey.

After pitching to one group of investors, Dare-Johnson said she was quizzed about her family, and how she would manage to combine her role as a mother with her work – questions she doubts male founders are asked.

"I felt quite insulted honestly… insulted and also amazed at their ignorance," she said, adding that their attitude was what "stops so many women from reaching out and just being more ambitious."

In June, Healthtracka, which now delivers more than 1,000 tests a month in ten Nigerian cities, raised $1.5 million. Dare-Johnson said closing the funding gap is crucial for all of the continent's consumers, who would benefit from products designed and manufactured by women.

"I think that we're robbing the world of a balanced view, a balanced product, a better product, if we leave one gender out of it," she said.

By Angela Ukomadu, Reuters

 

U.S. call on investigation of Reuters report of children allegedly killed by Nigerian government

The U.S. military on Tuesday called on Nigeria to conduct an independent investigation of allegations in a Reuters report that the Nigerian army killed children in its fight against insurgents.

"The Department of Defense is concerned by the allegations reported in the Reuters article, and we join our colleagues from the State Department in urging the Government of Nigeria to conduct an independent investigation," a Pentagon spokesperson said in a statement.

The U.S. military on Tuesday called on Nigeria to conduct an independent investigation of allegations in a Reuters report that the Nigerian army killed children in its fight against insurgents.

"The Department of Defense is concerned by the allegations reported in the Reuters article, and we join our colleagues from the State Department in urging the Government of Nigeria to conduct an independent investigation," a Pentagon spokesperson said in a statement.

By Phil Stewart, Reuters

Related stories: Nigeria government denies Reuters report of mass ‘abortion programme’ of Boko Haram victims

Reuters expose Nigerian military abortion programme

Survivors of Boko Haram allegedly starved and raped by Nigerian military

 

 

Artermis Accords signed by Nigeria and Rwanda

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rwanda and Nigeria became the latest nations to sign the document that outlines best practices for safe and sustainable space exploration based on the Outer Space Treaty and other agreements.

During the US-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson announced that two African countries, Rwanda and Nigeria, became the first from the continent to join the Artemis Accords as the United States works to bring more emerging space nations into the agreement.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson was joined by Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs Monica Medina, U.S. National Space Council Executive Secretary Chirag Parikh, as well as representatives from Nigeria and Rwanda as those nations signed the Artemis Accords.

With the addition of these two signatories, 23 nations have affirmed their commitment to transparent, safe, and sustainable space exploration. Through the accords, the signatories are guided by a set of principles that promote the beneficial use of space for all of humanity.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said: “I’m thrilled Nigeria and Rwanda are committing to the safe, sustainable use of outer space. In an era where more nations than ever have space programs, today’s signings highlight a growing commitment to ensure space exploration is conducted responsibly. As the first African nations to sign the Artemis Accords, Nigeria and Rwanda exemplify the global reach of the accords and are demonstrating their leadership in space exploration.”

The accords were signed on behalf of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by Isa Ali Ibrahim, minister of Communications and Digital Economy.

On behalf of the Republic of Rwanda, Francis Ngabo, chief executive officer of the Rwanda Space Agency, signed the accords.

The summit, hosted by President Joe Biden and led by the US Department of State, brought together leaders from across the African continent to Washington. The Artemis Accords were signed at the start of the US-Africa Space Forum – an element of the broader summit.

NASA and the State Department announced the establishment of the Artemis Accords in 2020. The Artemis Accords are a set of principles to guide the next phase in space exploration, reinforcing and providing for important operational implementation of key obligations in the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. The Accords also reinforce the commitment by the United States and signatory nations to the Registration Convention, the Rescue and Return Agreement, as well as guidelines and best practices NASA and its partners have supported, including the public release of scientific data.

More countries are anticipated to sign the Artemis Accords in the months and years ahead, as the United States continues to work with international partners for a safe, peaceful, and prosperous future in space. Working with both new and existing partners will add new energy and capabilities to help ensure the entire world can benefit from our journey of exploration and discovery.

SatelliteProMe

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Video - New yam varieties developed by scientists in Nigeria to boost harvest



Scientists in Nigeria have developed new yam varieties that are helping to increase output for the world’s biggest producer of the crop. They say the new, more robust and sustainable yams will also help to cut farmers’ losses, reducing hunger and poverty. Al Jazeera's Ahmed Idris reports from Ibadan, Nigeria.

Al Jazeera

Policeman killed in attack on electoral office in Nigeria

Gunmen bombed the headquarters of the electoral commission in Nigeria's southeastern Imo state on Monday and killed a policeman during a gunfight, police spokesman Michael Abattam said.

Elections have in the past been marred by violence in Nigeria, which holds a presidential vote in February to elect a successor to President Muhammadu Buhari, now in his second and final term.

Imo is one of the states in the southeast where gunmen have attacked electoral officials, killed politicians and security agents this year. The government blames the separatist group Indigenous People of Biafra, which has denied the charge.

Abattam said the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) office in the state capital Owerri was attacked at about 3 a.m. (0200 GMT).

"They threw bombs on the roof of the INEC building but unfortunately for them, they were resisted by our men who were guarding the place," Abattam said.

He said the police repelled the attack after receiving reinforcements.

"Fortunately, we neutralised three of them. Others escaped with bullet wound injuries," he said, adding that a policeman was killed and another injured.

Two other gunmen were arrested and police recovered explosives, phones and five rifles.

INEC said in a statement no critical election materials were damaged. It added that this was the third attack on its facilities in Imo state this month.

By Anamesere Igboeroteonwu, Reuters

Related stories: Nigeria’s fragile security architecture is collapsing

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

 





Nigeria removes COVID-19 testing for international travellers

Nigeria on Monday removed COVID-19 testing requirements for international travellers and it was no longer mandatory to wear masks on flights and inside airport buildings, the airlines regulator said.

In a notice to airlines, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority said travellers to and from Nigeria did not need to undergo COVID-19 irrespective of their vaccination status.

The authority said travellers above 60 years and those with comorbidities were encouraged to use face masks.

Nigeria has recorded 266,381 COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic and 3,155 deaths. 

By MacDonald Dzirutwe, Reuters

Friday, December 9, 2022

25,000 trafficked women, girls from Nigeria trapped in Malian mines

Virtually all states in Nigeria face high human trafficking and no fewer than 25,000 Nigerian women and girls are trapped in the mining areas of Mali, where they are sexually exploited

This was revealed by experts at a three-day media training workshop on “Countering Trafficking In Persons, (CTIP),” organised by Network Against Child Trafficking, Abuse and Child Labour (NACTAL) in collaboration with USAID for journalists from Cross River and seven other states of the federation and Abuja.

Held in Benin, Edo State, the workshop ended on Wednesday.

National President of NACTAL, Abdulganiyu Abubakar, in his remarks at the workshop, said as result of the situation, some countries discriminate against Nigeria when they travel out.

He charged the media to embark on campaigns to tackle issues of trafficking.
Similarly, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) confirmed the high level trafficking of humans in the country, revealing that it has, till date, rescued 17, 753 victims in the country.

The Zonal Commander of NAPTIP, Benin Zonal Command, Mr. Nduka Nwanwanne, stated that out of the figure, 13,626 are female, while 4,727 are males.

He said: “No fewer than 25,000 Nigerian women and girls are trapped living in shanties in the mining areas in Mali, where they are sexually exploited.”

According to her, prostitution is not human trafficking but the exploitation in prostitution is human trafficking. He described Nigeria as transit and destination on human trafficking, saying it is endemic in Edo and Delta states and all parts of the country.

Human trafficking, according to him, is worth 150 billion dollars in global criminal enterprise and it is the second largest in trans national organised crime after drug trafficking.

One of NACTAL’s resource persons, Nasiru Muazu Isa, said trafficking on humans is huge business and is so sophisticated to the extent that they track their victims with electronic gadgets to know where they are and where they go to.

The Project Manager, NACTAL, Mr. Samuel Olayemi, listed the objectives of the workshop to include: increasing knowledge of media practitioners on CTIP, intensifying media campaigns, strengthening capacity of media practitioners and improving knowledge of participants in developing relevant programmes.

By Anietie Akpan, The Guardian

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

Gang charged with sex trafficking girls from Nigeria arrested in Italy

Video - Nigerian women trafficked to Europe for prostitution at 'crisis level'

4,000 Doctobers to Leave Nigeria

The National Association of Resident Doctors, NARD’s, recent alarm of a looming mass migration of no less than 4,000 of its members in the nearest future should call for an emergency meeting of President Muhammadu Buhari’s government with the medical service unions to discuss the stoppage of such a haemorrhage.

But, of course, no such a thing may happen because those we elected had for long abandoned the Nigerian healthcare system for treatment abroad. Successive presidential families since 1999 had turned treatment abroad into a fad, unlike the earlier practice where the State House Clinic was properly equipped to take care of them.

The late Mrs Stella Obasanjo received medicare abroad. The late President Umaru Yar’Adua received treatment in Europe and Saudi Arabia till his demise, and the wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan also got medicare outside the country. The most celebrated presidential treatment is that of the incumbent president who once spent over three months in a London infirmary and goes there routinely for follow-ups.

The State House Clinic itself which used to receive more budgetary allocation than all the University Teaching Hospitals in the country, has altogether been abandoned because the people who are supposed to use it no longer have use for it.

Because of this neglect, our doctors have steadily been leaving. When the Buhari administration assumed office in 2015, the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, reported that Nigeria had 35,000 doctors out of the 237,000 required to serve a population of about 180 million then. Over seven years later, the number of doctors available in our health system dropped to 24,000 while the population rose to an estimated 211 million.

NARD’s announcement that 4,000 its members are leaving is not surprising. Health workers are in hot demand all over the world, particularly in countries with advanced systems. Two of them, Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom in recent years, sent personnel to scout for, or opened their doors to employ our willing doctors. The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, despite the migration trend, insists Nigeria has enough doctors.

The consequence of this is that the few doctors who are still available, especially in government hospitals, are over-worked, underpaid and under-motivated. This, certainly, is a trigger for more migrations to places where they will get job satisfaction.

Nigerians have already lost hope that the incumbent regime can do anything about our healthcare system. It has only six months to go. Our attention should shift to the need to elect leaders who have the mindset to revive our health system. Adequately equipping our public hospitals and offering competitive welfare packages for our doctors and other health sector workers can stop and reverse the exoduses. This is in addition to squarely facing challenges in the training of more doctors for our teeming population. 

Vanguard

Related story: Over 10,000 doctors left Nigeria for UK in last 7 yrs

Nigeria suffering from medical brain drain

Citizens of Nigeria Uneasy about Cash Withdrawal Restrictions

Nigeria's Central Bank this week announced a new policy that restricts large amounts of cash from being withdrawn from bank accounts. The announcement comes two weeks after authorities unveiled redesigned currency in an attempt to curb cash hoarding and check corruption and crimes. But some critics say the decision will have a negative effect on small businesses.

The Central Bank’s directive this week restricting cash withdrawals from individual and corporate accounts will take effect on Jan. 9, 2023.

According to the new policy, personal account holders will be able to withdraw only 100,000 naira, or around $200, per week while companies will be restricted to about $1,000 in the same period.

The policy comes ahead of Nigeria's election slated for February 2023, with authorities vowing to tackle vote-trading and corruption.

The CBN says the initiative seeks to address excessive hoarding of cash, help fight crime, give authorities control of the legal tender, and encourage more people to use electronic means for their transactions.

But economist and director at the Centre for Social Justice, Eze Onyekpere, said it will have an adverse effect on small and medium scale enterprises, or SMEs.

"That is not the way to curb vote-buying,” he said. “Yes, it could restrict the amount people have in their hands but these amounts of money are too small considering the value of the naira, and in terms of small businesses particularly people in the informal sector who may not have gone fully cashless who have not gone completely cashless, it's going to cause them a lot of inconvenience, challenges and also may increase the cost of doing business."

The initiative allows for a monthly withdrawal above specified limits but that carries a 5% processing fee for individuals and 10% for corporate entities.

The CBN said it will sanction banks and other financial institutions that fail to comply with the measure.

In late November, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari unveiled the redesigned 200, 500 and 1000 naira notes initially scheduled for launch in mid-December.

Public finance expert Isaac Botti supports the move, saying it is the only way to ensure the new currencies are not stashed away.

"For me, it's a commendable policy because it's a way to also curb corruption and looting of public treasuries,” he said. “I don't have concerns over it affecting SMEs because they're not expected to carry out solely cash transmissions. The only concern I have is about making the system more effective to be able to accommodate cashless policy."

Onyekpere also cites the lack of internet banking services as a major hindrance. More than 40% of Nigerians, mostly in rural areas, do not have bank accounts and rely on mobile money agents for their daily transactions.

Abuja bakery owner Eseoghene Eghove said the tightening of accounts will affect her business.

"As a business owner I go to buy flour, sugar, butter and many other things. How do you pay? It is not reasonable, they'll just make things more difficult for people," she said.

The old naira bills will cease to be legal tender by the end of January. The CBN has promised to monitor the rollout of the new bills and make sure not too much money is withdrawn.

By Timothy Obiezu, VOA 

Related story: Cash withdrawals in Nigeria limited to $225 a week to curb ransom payments

Attack aircraft, helicopters, and drones to be delivered to Nigeria

Nigeria is expecting to take delivery of 54 new air assets, including attack aircraft and helicopters as well as aerial drones, to boost its capabilities to fight insecurity in the country, Chief of Air Staff Marshal Amao said on Thursday.

A 13-year-old Islamist insurgency in the northeast and kidnappings for ransom by gunmen in the northwest are Nigeria's biggest security threats that will confront the country's next leader after a presidential election in February.

Amao said President Muhammadu Buhari approved the delivery to the Nigerian Air Force of m-346 attack aircraft, T-129 ATAK helicopters, Agusta 109 Trekker multi-role helicopters as well as Chinese-made Wing Loong II drones, among an assortment of air assets.

He did not say when exactly these would be delivered, how much was paid for them or which country or countries they were bought from.

Last year, Nigeria received 12 A-29 Super Tucano planes, four years after the United States agreed to sell the West African country the light attack aircraft to fight insurgents.

By Camillus Eboh, Reuters

Nigeria government denies Reuters report of mass ‘abortion programme’ of Boko Haram victims

Nigeria’s military has denied conducting a years-long illicit programme to carry out abortions among women and girls who have been victims of armed groups in the northwest, a claim reported by Reuters on Wednesday.

“Since at least 2013, the Nigerian military has conducted a secret, systematic and illegal abortion programme in the country’s northeast, ending at least 10,000 pregnancies among women and girls,” the news agency said.

It said many of the women and girls had been kidnapped and raped by armed fighters, adding that those who resisted an abortion ran the risk of being “beaten, held at gunpoint or drugged into compliance.”

The report was based on witness statements from 33 women and girls, five health workers, and nine security personnel involved in the alleged programme, and on military documents and hospital records “describing or tallying thousands of abortion procedures”.

Most of the abortions, Reuters said, were carried out without the woman’s consent and some were conducted without their prior knowledge, through abortion-inducing pills or injections passed off as medications to boost health or combat disease. The agency was unable to establish who created the abortion program or determine who in the military or government ran it.

United States Department of State spokesperson Ned Price said on Wednesday that Washington was looking into the report.

“It was a harrowing report. … It’s a concerning report and for that reason, we are seeking further information,” he said.

Northeastern Nigeria is the epicentre of a conflict spearheaded by armed groups, most notably Boko Haram in 2009.

More than 40,000 people have been killed and about two million people displaced in the long-running conflict, which has spilled into neighbouring Chad, Niger and Cameroon.

In its reaction, the Nigerian army lashed the report as “a body of insults on the Nigerian peoples and culture. Nigerian military personnel have been raised, bred and further trained to protect lives,” it said.

“[The] Nigerian military will not, therefore, contemplate such evil of running a systematic and illegal abortion programme anywhere and anytime, and surely not on our own soil.”

Religion plays a core part in Nigerian life, with Islam as the dominant faith in the north of the country, and Christianity in the south.

Abortion is illegal in the country except when the mother’s life is in danger.

In the north, illegal pregnancy termination carries the risk of a 14-year jail term.

Al Jazeera

Related story: Reuters expose Nigerian military abortion programme







First Lady of Nigeria allegedly ordered the beating of student for calling her fat

Nigeria’s first lady ordered security operatives to detain a student and also supervised his beating at the country’s presidential villa, his lawyer has alleged.

Aminu Mohammed Adamu, 24, was detained by police in the capital Abuja over a tweet he posted on June 8 that contained what prosecutors said were defamatory remarks about Aisha Buhari, the president’s wife, his lawyer Agu Chijioke Kingsley told CNN. A defamation lawsuit brought against Adamu by the first lady has since been dropped.

According to Kingsley, Adamu, a final year environmental management and toxicology student at a university in northern Nigeria, had been trailed by “plain-clothed security operatives” and arrested at the Federal University, Dutse, in Jigawa State on November 18.

“My client said he was arrested at school and taken to the presidential villa where he met with the first lady who told the security operatives to beat him … and he was beaten before he was detained at a police station in Abuja,” Kingsley told CNN.

Spokespeople for Nigeria’s national police and Department of State Services told CNN they were unaware of Adamu’s arrest.

A spokesperson for the Abuja police command did not comment when reached by CNN, while presidential spokesperson Garba Shehu did not return CNN’s request for comment on the allegations of assault against Adamu by the first lady.

The Nigerian first lady, Aisha Buhari, hasn’t spoken publicly about the incident.

Adamu was brought before an Abuja court last Tuesday (November 29), more than a week after his arrest.

“He was charged with criminal defamation, he pleaded not guilty,” according to his lawyer, who added he was in the process of applying for Adamu’s bail days after his arraignment when the charge was dropped by the first lady.

Adamu had earlier been moved from the police facility he was being detained to prison where he was remanded on the orders of the court.

“On Friday (December 2), we were called to move the bail application. On getting to court, the police said they were withdrawing the matter entirely because the first lady had decided to withdraw the case against my client,” Kingsley told CNN.

Adamu’s detention was widely condemned by Nigerians and human rights groups who called for his release using the hashtag #FreeAminu on social media.

The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) also called for nationwide demonstrations while demanding Adamu’s unconditional release.

A police commissioner in Nigeria has also called for the first lady to be prosecuted.

“She did not only have him arrested but he was also beaten and tortured in the (Presidential) Villa … This is not acceptable,” said Naja’atu Mohammed, a commissioner in the Police Service Commission (PSC), an oversight body of the Nigeria Police Force.

“There are laws governing every offense in this country, so why is she not abiding by the law? If indeed he defamed her character, she should follow due process and take him to court. Mrs. Buhari should be prosecuted for taking the law into her hands,” Mohammed told CNN.

Last month, two TikTok comedians were publicly whipped and ordered to wash toilets in northern Kano State for making a video that a court ruled had defamed the state Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje.

The Nigerian branch of Amnesty International says it is concerned that freedom of speech is being eroded in Nigeria.

“Amnesty International is concerned by the growing number of attacks on freedom of expression in Nigeria. The authorities are increasingly using unlawful arrests and ill-treatment to stifle those who criticize the state. This must stop now,” the human rights group said in a tweet on the day Adamu was released.

It also tweeted that “the heavy-handed mistreatment of Aminu Adamu Muhammed is a clear attempt to strike fear into the hearts of young Nigerians who use social media to hold the powerful to account. The Nigerian authorities must urgently respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression.”

After two weeks in detention, Adamu was freed and reunited with his family. His uncle Shehu Azare told CNN he is now focused on writing his final exams and would not speak out about his ordeal.
‘Apology to oppressor’

Adamu received a hero’s welcome when he arrived at his university shortly after his release and later posted a tweet apologizing to the president’s wife, saying “it was never my intention to hurt your feelings … I will change for the better … I’m also grateful for your forgiveness…”

In a video that followed the tweet, Adamu reiterated his gratitude to the first lady, which angered many Nigerians who criticized him for “apologizing to his oppressor.”

“I’ll like to thank the first lady of Nigeria … for finding me worthy in her heart to forgive my recent actions and for her moral advice that I should change for the better … I’ll abide to those words,” Adamu said in his video.

Reacting to Adamu’s apology to the first lady, one Nigerian tweeted: “I don’t even understand him, (he) left everyone who stood by him, and he is apologizing to an oppressor?? How come?!!!” ​

Some other commenters said Adamu had “done the right thing” by apologizing to the president’s wife.

“To me, it’s not in order, because we’ve been pleading with the first lady (to release Adamu) before he was taken to court, but she refused to accept the plea and took him to court where he was arraigned and remanded in prison. So, there’s no point for that (apology),” his uncle Azare told CNN.

“Many people have been complaining about that (apology). People look at it as very wrong to be asking for forgiveness from someone that beat you and inflicted harm on you,” he added.

By Nimi Princewill, CNN

Related stories: Student charged with defaming first lady of Nigeria freed

Student in Nigeria Arrested After Calling President's Wife Fat on Twitter

Thursday, December 8, 2022

D'banj arrested in Nigeria for youth fund fraud





 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nigerian Afrobeats star D'banj has been arrested over allegations of fraud after millions of dollars meant to help unemployed youths start businesses was reported missing.

The artist, who has claimed to be the brand ambassador for the scheme, has turned himself in.

The N-Power initiative was launched in 2016 by President Muhammadu Buhari.

But many beneficiaries have complained for months that they were not receiving their grants.

Nigeria's anti-corruption agencies said in a statement on Wednesday that "billions of naira" had been diverted.

Lawyers representing D'banj - whose real name is Oladapo Daniel Oyebanjo - have denied a claim by the anti-corruption agency that their client had ignored multiple summons.

They said the artist willingly turned himself in on Tuesday and that he will cooperate with the investigation.

More than two million Nigerians aged between 18 and 35 have benefited from the N-Power scheme since it was launched, according to the government.

At least 280bn naira ($629m; £516m) was distributed in 2019 to beneficiaries who started small businesses, the authorities said.

Ten other people, as well as D'banj are being investigated, the anti-corruption agency said.

"The investigation will be all-encompassing and also be extended to other collaborators of the fraud and the banks where the beneficiaries' accounts are domiciled," a statement read.

The Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, which oversees N-Power, said it had no official engagement with the artist and that his claims to be an ambassador for the scheme was misleading.

D'banj's 2012 hit Oliver Twist won him fans across the continent and in the diaspora.

Two years ago his one-year-old son drowned in a pool at his home in the commercial city of Lagos. 

BBC, by Nkechi Ogbonna

Related story: Son of Nigerian music star D'banj drowns at home

Video - D'Banj talks new album and Kanye West

Reuters expose Nigerian military abortion programme

A Reuters investigation published on Wednesday revealed that the Nigerian Army has run a secret, systematic and illegal abortion programme in the country's northeast since at least 2013.

The programme has involved terminating at least 10,000 pregnancies among women and girls, many of whom had been kidnapped and raped by Islamist militants, according to dozens of witness accounts and documentation reviewed by Reuters.

Here are some reactions to the report:
 

NED PRICE, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON

"My reaction to it in the first instance was a personal one in that I read it and was deeply disturbed by it. It was a harrowing report ... It's a concerning report, and for that reason we are seeking further information."
 

ALICIA KEARNS, CHAIR OF UK PARLIAMENT FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE

"The stories in this report are heartbreaking and - if verified - represent a large-scale, and deeply concerning, abuse of human rights.

"It is the responsibility of UK authorities to ensure that their support of the Nigerian military does not aid human rights abuses and we expect the Government to take these allegations seriously.

"The Committee will do its part and will continue to follow this story closely as part of ongoing scrutiny of the UK's relationship with Nigeria."
 

JIM RISCH, LEADING REPUBLICAN ON U.S. SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE

"This is a deeply disturbing report. Nigeria’s government, and our government, must investigate these troubling allegations. Swift action must be taken against those found to have carried out this policy of murder and violation of rights.”


CHRIS SMITH, REPUBLICAN MEMBER OF U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE

“The credible reports by Reuters implicating Nigerian officials in systematic forced abortions performed on women and girls who were kidnapped and raped by Islamic militants shock the conscience.

“The United States must stand with these victims and ensure that those involved in planning and carrying out this heinous abuse are held to account.

"Provisions I authored that were enacted into law (PL 106-113) give the Secretary of State the authority to sanction any foreign national directly involved in forced abortion.

"Secretary (of State Antony) Blinken must immediately investigate this egregious violation of human rights and take action against any Nigerian official involved or complicit in this atrocity pursuant to my legislation."


AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL NIGERIA ON TWITTER

"Amnesty International is deeply concerned by the findings of an investigative report by Reuters news agency, which reveals that the Nigerian army has carried out secret, systematic and forced abortions terminating at least 10,000 pregnancies of women and girls.

"Many of the women and girls affected had been kidnapped and raped by Islamist militants. Such forced abortions constitute gender-based violence that may amount to torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

"Nigeria as a State party to the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) is responsible for acts of its agents, including those by the Nigerian Army that constitute gender-based violence against women.

"Amnesty International is hereby calling on the Nigerian authorities to:

1. Promptly, thoroughly and impartially investigate this report of forced abortions committed by the Nigerian Army.

2. Prosecute and ensure appropriate legal and disciplinary sanctions on all those found culpable.

3. Provide effective reparations to all victims of forced abortion committed by the Nigerian Army."

Reuters







Cash withdrawals in Nigeria limited to $225 a week to curb ransom payments

Nigeria’s central bank has imposed restrictions on weekly cash withdrawals to limit the use of cash in an apparent bid to curb counterfeiting and discourage ransom payments to kidnappers.

Under a new policy announced late on Tuesday, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said that weekly cash withdrawals for individuals had been slashed to 100,000 Nigerian naira ($225) from 2.5 million naira ($5,638).

A majority of Nigerians have no bank accounts and use informal markets where cash is preferred. This move aims to bring more people into the banking system, and will take effect on January 9, the CBN said.

“The maximum cash withdrawal per week via automated teller machine shall be 100,000 naira subject to a maximum of 20,000 naira ($45) cash withdrawal per day,” it said.

Only denominations of 200 naira and less will be loaded into ATMs, it said.

For businesses, the weekly limit has been cut to 500,000 naira ($1,128) from the current daily limit of three million naira ($6,766).

“Withdrawals above these limits shall attract processing fees of five percent and 10 percent, respectively,” the CBN said.

But in compelling circumstances individuals and businesses could withdraw a maximum of five million naira ($11,277) and 10 million naira ($22,553) respectively once a month, it added.

The central bank warned commercial lenders against violating the new cash limits, which it said were in line with its policy to promote cashless transactions.

The bank has expressed concerns in the past over currency counterfeiting, the volume of money outside the banking system and huge ransom payments to kidnappers and bandits.

Last month, Nigeria launched newly designed currency notes, another move the central bank said would help curb inflation and money laundering.

More than 80 percent of the 3.2 trillion naira ($7.2bn) in circulation in Nigeria are outside the vaults of commercial banks and in private hands, CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele said when he unveiled the new notes.

“The currency redesign will also assist in the fight against corruption as the exercise will rein in the higher denomination used for corruption and the movement of such funds from the banking system could be tracked easily,” he explained at the time.

The new notes – denominations of 200, 500 and 1,000 naira – come into use on December 15, but Nigerians have until January 31 to turn in old notes when they will cease to be legal tender.

Al Jazeera

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