Friday, January 28, 2022

Video - Ikeja bomb blast: Victims, witnesses recount experience 20 years after


On 27 January 2002, Lagos, Nigeria's commercial capital, witnessed one of the biggest disasters that have ever hit the state and country. 20 years after, the memory is still fresh. A continued blast at the military cantonment in Ikeja left many dead. The bulk of the victims did not die under the exploding shells. Most were hauled from canals into which they jumped or were driven - some still in their cars - by the huge crowds fleeing the shrapnel descending from the sky.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Nigeria seeks to extend fuel subsidy program

The Nigerian government had previously planned to phase out the gasoline subsidy program, calling it "unsustainable." Despite being Africa's main oil exporter, the country relies on importing petroleum products.

The Nigerian government on Tuesday said it intended to extend a costly fuel subsidy program, in a reversal of policy for the oil-rich African country.

Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Timipre Sylva told reporters that the government "was not removing subsidies" after meeting Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday.
What do we know so far?

The program, known as the Premium Motor Spirit subsidy, artificially keeps everyday gas prices low for Nigerian consumers.

The government has previously sought to phase out the program by this summer, with Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed calling it "unsustainable." She said the program cost $7 billion (€6.2 billion) a year in revenue. According to research by Eurasia Group, Nigeria's government spent more on subsidizing fuel at the pumps between January and August 2021 than it did on its entire health or education budgets in 2020.

In 2021, Ahmed proposed replacing the program with an initiative to give 5,000 naira (€10.70, $12) directly to the poorest Nigerian families instead of providing cheaper fuel for all.

Yet any attempt to end the program has been met with fierce opposition from labor unions and working-class Nigerians. Protests against the potential phaseout of the program were expected on Thursday.

Unions have also urged the government to expedite work on upgrading Nigeria's four major oil refineries, with the oil-rich country currently dependent on foreign imports of refined petroleum products.

Ahmed has acknowledged that cutting the program at this time could put an additional financial burden on Nigerians.

"It's become clear that the timing is problematic, that practically there is still heightened inflation and also the removal of subsidies would further worsen the situation and thereby imposing more difficulties on the citizens," Ahmed told Nigerian senators earlier this week.
Subsidy program phaseout could influence upcoming election

Cutting the subsidy program could exacerbate tensions ahead of Nigeria's presidential election in February 2023, with Nigerians voting to replace incumbent President Buhari.

Previous President Goodluck Jonathan also toyed with ending the costly policy, only to back down when facing public and military protests.

Nigeria is the largest oil and gas producer on the African continent. Oil is a major engine of the Nigerian economy, with the industry also at the center of corruption scandals in recent years. 


Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Video - Nigerians react to lifting of Govt’ ban on Twitter


The Nigerian government on Wednesday lifted the ban on Twitter after the social media company agreed to conditions, including opening a local office. The news came as a welcome relief to Nigerian users of the social media platform, who had been locked out for close to seven months. From the ability to use the platform to air one's views to promoting local businesses, Nigerians from all walks of life had mixed reactions to the lifting of the ban.

Monday, January 17, 2022

Video - The Fall of the World's Flashiest Scammer Hushpuppi

Ramon Abbas perfected a simple internet scam that helped him launder millions of dollars, riches he shamelessly flaunted on Instagram. Better known as @Hushpuppi, the young Nigerian became a fixture among the global elite as fashion houses showered him with gifts. But his fame would ultimately be his downfall.

Related stories: Video - Joe Rogan and Zuby talk about scammers from Nigeria

Nigeria suspends 'Hushpuppi-linked' police officer Abba Kyari 





Gunmen kill more than 50 in Nigeria's northwest, residents say

Dozens of gunmen on motorbikes ransacked a village and killed more than 50 people in the latest violence in northwest Nigeria, residents said on Sunday.

Gangs have been terrorising areas of the northwest in recent years, forcing thousands to flee and gaining global notoriety through mass kidnappings at schools for ransom.

Local elder Abdullahi Karman Unashi told Reuters that the men entered Dankade village in Kebbi state on Friday night and exchanged gunfire with soldiers and policemen.

Security forces were forced to retreat, leaving the attackers to burn shops and grain silos and take cattle into the early hours of Saturday, he said.

"They killed two soldiers and one police officer and 50 villagers. (They) kidnapped the community leader of Dankade and many villagers, mostly women and children," Karman said.

It came a week after armed men killed 200 people in the nearby state of Zamfara.

Didzi Umar Bunu, son of the abducted community leader, said the gunmen had returned early on Sunday and torched more houses.

"They have not called or made any ransom demand. Dankade village is littered with dead bodies," he said on the phone.

Nafiu Abubakar, police spokesperson for Kebbi, did not respond to calls and messages to his phone.

Kebbi shares a border with Zamfara, where the government in September started a military offensive and imposed a telecoms blackout to rid the state of gangs it calls terrorists.

Violent crime has compounded the challenges in northern states, which are typically poorer than in the south.

President Muhammadu Buhari said in a statement that the military had started a major military operation in Niger state, next to Kebbi, to clear bandits and Boko Haram insurgents running from a government offensive.

By Garba Muhammad 


Saturday, January 15, 2022

Video - Aid agencies warn of growing humanitarian crisis in Nigeria

Aid agencies are warning of a growing humanitarian crisis in northwest Nigeria. A decade of fighting over resources has left hundreds of thousands without food, shelter and medicine. This comes amid regular attacks on villages by armed gangs. Al Jazeera's @Ahmed Idris reports from Zamfara state, Nigeria.

Friday, January 14, 2022

Nigeria rescues 26 people from gunmen in north region

The Nigerian air force said on Thursday its troops rescued 26 people from gunmen on a highway in north Nigeria’s Kaduna state on Wednesday.

Edward Gabkwet, a spokesperson for the air force, said in a statement a team of special forces from the air force came across five abandoned vehicles with their doors open while on a fighting patrol along the Birnin Gwari-Kaduna road in the state, which is “an indication of forced removal or evacuation and a likely kidnap scene”.

“Acting on instincts, the special forces began exploiting the general scene of the abduction and extended it for about three kilometers, well into the bushes while clearing the general area,” Gabkwet said.

“Upon sighting the special forces, three victims suddenly came out of the bushes. Further searching by the troops led to the discovery of four different groups of victims hiding in the bushes,” he said.

“After a thorough search further into the hinterland, a total of 26 victims were rescued,” the spokesperson added.

Gabkwet said the victims were travelling in several vehicles when a large number of bandits in three groups suddenly appeared from the bushes and surrounded their vehicles.

“However, on sighting the special forces, the kidnappers fled into the bushes with a handful of the victims, while the other majority took cover and hid in the bushes until they sighted the special forces,” said Gabkwet.

Armed attacks have been a primary security threat in Nigeria’s northern and central regions, resulting in deaths and kidnappings.


Thursday, January 13, 2022

Nigeria lifts its ban on Twitter after 7 months

The Nigerian government has lifted its ban on Twitter, seven months after the West African country's more than 200 million people were shut out of the social media network.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari directed that Twitter's operations can resume on Thursday, according to the director-general of the country's National Information Technology Development Agency. Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi said that was only after Twitter agreed to meet some conditions, including opening an office in Nigeria.

Nigeria suspended Twitter's operation on June 4, citing "the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria's corporate existence." The action triggered criticisms as it came shortly after the social media network deleted a post by Buhari in which he threatened to treat separatists "in the language they will understand."

This week's action "is a deliberate attempt to recalibrate our relationship with Twitter to achieve the maximum mutual benefits for our nation without jeopardizing the justified interests of the company. Our engagement has been very respectful, cordial, and successful," Abdullahi said in a statement.

A spokesperson for Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In addition to registering in Nigeria during the first quarter of 2022, Abdullahi said Twitter has also agreed to other conditions including appointing a designated country representative, complying with tax obligations and acting "with a respectful acknowledgement of Nigerian laws and the national culture and history on which such legislation has been built."

The lifting of the ban, though a good thing, offers little hope because "whether the government likes it or not, one thing they have actually done is that they have gagged Nigerians," said Idayat Hassan, who leads the West Africa-focused Centre for Democracy and Development.

"They have violated the right to receive and impact information," Hassan said, adding that the Nigerian government should instead prioritize "openness and effective information flow."

There are no official estimates of the economic cost of Twitter's shutdown in Africa's most populous country since June 4 when it was announced, but NetBlocks, which estimates the cost of internet shutdowns worldwide, said Nigeria could be losing N103.1 million (US$251,000) in every hour of the blockade.

In the course of the shutdown, many young people have been finding a way around the ban by turning to virtual private network (VPN) apps, but corporate services -- some of which the Nigerian economy relies on -- have remained shut out.

Authorities have also set the ball rolling on regulating other social networks in the West African country. In August 2021, information minister Lai Mohammed told the government news agency that "we will not rest until we regulate the social media, otherwise, nobody will survive it."

But the government's claim it must regulate social networks to fight fake news has been repeatedly contested by many activists. While it is true that "the weaponization of information to spread fake news in Nigeria is quite high," an emphasis on countering fake news just online is actually defeating the purpose because it is both online and offline in Nigeria," said CDD director Hassan.'

By Chinedu Asadu


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

Video - Nigeria gov't promises action against bandits after Zamfara killings


President Muhammadu Buhari has sent a delegation to northwestern Nigeria after bandits raided villages, shooting people and burning homes. A search is under way for more bodies in Zamfara state after the gangs’ attacks which followed government air raids on their hideaways. An estimated 200 people have been killed and 10,000 displaced in the recent violence. Northwestern Nigeria has seen a sharp rise in violent crimes as the government struggles to maintain law and order. Al Jazeera’s Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Idris reports from Zamfara state, northwestern Nigeria.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Video - AFCON 2021 HIGHLIGHTS Nigeria 1- 0 Egypt


Manchester City's International star Kelechi Iheanacho broke the intense scoreless match tournament favorites Nigeria and Egypt were playing. Mo Salah's performance was the opposite to his Man City foe.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Nigeria’s diaspora remittances may beat World Bank’s projection, rise 10% to $14.2bn

Nigeria’s diaspora remittances inflow is set to beat the World Bank’s projection for 2021, as it rose to $14.2 billion in the nine months ending September 2021, up 10 per cent Year-on-Year, YoY, from $12.9 billion in the corresponding period of 2020, reflecting the impact of post-COVID economic recovery measures.

This is contained in a data from the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, which also shows that diaspora remittances rose by 5.1 per cent, quarter-on-quarter, QoQ, to $4.28 billion in the first quarter of 2021 (Q1 ’21) from $4.07 billion in Q4’2020. The upward trend continued in Q2 and Q3, when diaspora remittances rose QoQ by 21 per cent and 1.0 per cent to $4.92 billion and $4.97 billion.

Going by the trend, which translates to average quarterly remittances of $4.72 billion, annual diaspora remittances may hit $18 billion, slightly above the $17.6 billion projected by the World Bank for 2021. But observers believe it could be more going by the usual increases on Yuletide activities.

Citing increasing influence of policies intended to channel inflows through the banking system, the World Bank in a report titled, “Migration and Development Brief 35,” released last November, had projected that Nigeria’s diaspora remittances will increase 2.5 per cent to $17.6 billion in 2021 from $17.2 billion in 2020. The 10 per cent, YoY increase in 9M-21 also represents a reversal of the 41 per cent decline recorded in 2020 when diaspora remittances fell to $16.94 billion from $23.45 billion in 2020 due to the impact of COVID-19 triggered economic lockdown on the incomes of Nigerians in diaspora.

In a bid to forestall this trend in 2021, the CBN in December 2020 introduced measures to encourage Diaspora Nigerians to send their remittances through the banking system. Among other things, the measures allow beneficiaries to have unfettered access and utilization to foreign currency proceeds, either in foreign exchange cash and/or in their Domiciliary Accounts. Furthermore, the CBN directed payment switching and processing companies to stop local currency transfer of diasporal remittances received through International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOs).

The apex bank also directed Mobile Money Operators (MMO) to disable wallets from receipt of funds from IMTOs.

To complement these measures, the CBN in February 2021 introduced the “Naira4Dollar” scheme, which rewards beneficiaries of remittances with N5 for every $1 of remittance sent through the banks. 

By Babajide Komolafe


Monday, January 10, 2022

Video - How can 'bandit' attacks be stopped in northern Nigeria?


Armed groups have terrorised people in northern Nigeria for years. The 'bandits' burn down villages, steal cattle and kidnap people for ransom. The government appears to be struggling to stop a rise in attacks. Gunmen killed least 200 people in Zamfara state on Tuesday, in an apparent retaliation against military air strikes on the armed groups' hideouts. So what can be done to stop the assaults? Presenter: Mohammed Jamjoom Guests: Mike Ejiofor - Former Director of Nigeria's State Security Service Bulama Bukarti - Analyst, Tony Blair Institute for Global Change Aliyu Musa - Independent researcher on conflict and Nigerian politics

Friday, January 7, 2022

Video - Nigeria labels bandit gangs ‘terrorists’ in bid to stem violence


Nigeria's government has labelled criminal gangs as “terrorist” organisations. The gangs are blamed for mass kidnappings. Earlier this week, soldiers rescued 97 hostages, who were abducted more than two months ago. The classification will lead to harsher penalties.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Video - Muhammadu Buhari signs 2022 Budget


Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday signed the 2022 Appropriation Bill titled “Budget of Economic Growth and Sustainability” into law at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Nearly 100 Nigerian hostages rescued after two months of captivity

Nearly 100 hostages, most of them women and children, have been rescued more than two months after they were abducted by armed groups in northwest Nigeria.

Among the 97 freed hostages were 19 babies and more than a dozen children, Ayuba Elkana, police chief in Zamfara state, said on Tuesday.

Mostly barefooted, weary and in worn-out clothes, the ex-captives trickled out of the buses that took them to Gusau, capital of Zamfara state. Women with malnourished-looking babies strapped to their backs trailed behind.

Coming a few days after 21 schoolchildren were freed by security forces, the rescue brought a sigh of relief in Nigeria where armed groups have killed thousands and kidnapped many residents and travellers in exchange for ransoms.

Police said the hostages were “rescued unconditionally” on Monday in joint security operations targeting the camps of armed groups that have been terrorising remote communities across the north-west and centre of Africa’s most populous country.

They had been abducted from their homes and along highways in remote communities in Zamfara and neighbouring Sokoto state.

The hostages had slept on the ground in abandoned forest reserves that serve as hideouts for the gunmen. The first batch of 68 “were in captivity for over three months and they include 33 male adults, seven male children, three female children and 25 women including pregnant/nursing mothers respectively,” Elkana said.

Another set of 29 victims were also rescued “unconditionally” in Kunchin Kalgo forest in the Tsafe local government area of Zamfara, police said.

It is not clear if ransoms were paid for the releases as is usually the case in many remote communities in Nigeria’s troubled north. Authorities have said the hostages’ freedom was the result of military operations including airstrikes.

The large bands of assailants are mostly young men from the Fulani ethnic group, who had traditionally worked as nomadic cattle herders and are caught up in a decades-long conflict with Hausa farming communities over access to water and grazing land.

The Guardian

Monday, January 3, 2022

Video - Nigerian Army kills 22 Boko Haram terrorists, lost 6 soldiers


Nigerian Army authorities have said 22 terrorists were killed when troops of the Multinational Joint Task Force engaged Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists around Mallam Fatori Town in the Lake Chad region. They, however, added that six soldiers were also killed during the engagement.