Monday, June 27, 2022
A Nigerian lawyer caused a stir at the country’s Supreme Court on Thursday when he appeared in the full traditional attire of a traditional priest to attend court proceedings. Lawyer Malcolm Omirhobo was protesting the ruling of the Nigerian Supreme Court allowing the use of hijabs, which are headscarves won by Muslims, in public schools in the city of Lagos.
The Tuckahoe Police Department on June 19 announced in a Facebook post that Etobo was missing and requested information from the public.
The 70-year-old diplomat at the time of his death, served as the Director and Deputy Head, Peacebuilding Support Office at the United Nations headquarters in New York between December 2006 and October 2013.
On June 24, the police announced that Etobo had been found dead and sent condolence message to his family.
A statement by the police said: “The Tuckahoe Police Department regrets to inform members of the community that Mr Ejeviome Otobo was located yesterday afternoon and is deceased.
“We would like to thank those of you who offered tips and tried to assist with the investigation. Our thoughts go out to the Otobo family during this difficult time.”
The Guardian gathered that until his death, he was a Non-Resident Senior Fellow in Peacebuilding and Global Economic Policy at the Global Governance Institute in Brussels, Belgium.
From February to August 2009, Otobo acted as the Assistant Secretary-General at the UN.
By Odita Sunday
Two priests were killed over the weekend in Nigeria, one in Kaduna state and one in Edo state.
Fr. Vitus Borogo, a priest serving in the Archdiocese of Kaduna, was killed June 25 “at Prison Farm, Kujama, along Kaduna-Kachia Road, after a raid on the farm by Terrorists,” the chancellor of the Kaduna archdiocese said in a statement shared with ACI Africa.
The priest, who was age 50, was the Catholic chaplain at Kaduna State Polytechnic.
In Edo state, Fr. Christopher Odia was kidnapped from his rectory at St. Michael Catholic Church, Ikabigbo, Uzairue, around 6:30 am June 26. He was killed by his abductors, the Diocese of Auchi has announced.
Fr. Odia was 41, and the administrator of St. Michael’s and principal of St. Philip Catholic Secondary School in Jattu.
The Sun, a Nigerian daily, reported that a Mass server and a local vigilante who followed the abductors were shot and killed during Fr. Odia’s kidnapping.
More Christians are killed for their faith in Nigeria than in any other country worldwide — at least 4,650 in 2021, and nearly 900 in the first three months of 2022 alone.
According to the UK-based human rights foundation Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Kaduna state has become "an epicenter of kidnapping and violence by non-state actors, despite being the most garrisoned state in Nigeria.”
Earlier this month gunmen attacked a Catholic church and a Baptist church in Kaduna state, killing three people and reportedly kidnapping more than 30 worshippers, and more than 40 Christians were killed in an attack on a Catholic church in Ondo state on June 5.
Nigerian northern Zamfara State will allow people to carry guns to protect themselves against armed bandits after authorities failed to curb a rise in kidnappings and killings.
The government has told police to issue firearm licenses “to all those who qualify and are wishing to obtain guns to defend themselves,” Hudu Yahaya, a spokesman for governor Bello Matawalle, said on his Facebook page. It’s intended “to deal with the recent escalating attacks, kidnapping and the criminal levies being enforced on our innocent communities,” he said.
Many states in Nigeria’s northern region, including Zamfara, have been targeted by armed militants and bandits who have been carrying out a growing number of kidnappings for ransom and murders. The violence has forced thousands to flee their homes. Crime is growing at the same time authorities are battling Islamist insurgents and facing separatist unrest in various parts of the country.
By Emele Onu
Six weeks after withdrawing Nigeria from international basketball for two years, president Muhammadu Buhari's government have made a U-turn and reversed the ban. But it came too late for the women's national team, who have seen their place at the FIBA Women's World Cup taken up by Mali.
Ismaila Abubakar, an official at Nigeria's Sports Ministry, said last Thursday that the reversal came after a meeting between Sports Minister Sunday Dare and FIBA, and receiving guarantees from the Nigeria Basketball Federation [NBBF] to include all stakeholders in reconciliatory meetings going forward.
But that peace treaty is of little solace for D'Tigress players, who will not be able to compete at the FIBA showcase in September, after their place was given to Mali, who were the next-ranked team in their qualifying group. Nigeria had, ironically, beaten Mali in order to qualify.
NBBF President Musa Kida described the decision to reverse the ban as a major victory for Nigerian basketball, saying: "I am quite glad to see that this decision is reached, and it is a major victory for basketball. It gladdens our heart that the Federal Government has decided to return basketball to where it rightfully belongs."
But his happy response was certainly not shared by Adaora Elonu, captain of the Nigeria women's team, who told ESPN she'd rather not comment on the situation. Her team had beaten number three-ranked Australia, amongst others, to qualify for the World Cup.
A team member, who did not wish to be named, described the situation as "a nightmare that many of us are still trying to come to terms with," and told ESPN that the players were "distraught and pained" by the actions of the officials costing them a place "after we worked so hard to qualify."
Ike Diogu, captain of the men's national team, said the ban could have been even more devastating for basketball in Nigeria. It would have threatened the men's team's qualification for the 2023 FIBA World Cup and 2024 Paris Olympics, and risked an even longer ban from FIBA for government interference.
"It was very devastating to basketball in Nigeria," Diogu told ESPN of the withdrawal. "The withdrawal was detrimental for us because I don't think people really understand how hard it was for us to get to the point where we are now.
"It took 10, 12 years just to get to the point where we could compete. If we had got a 5-year ban [from FIBA], we would have to start all over again and there is no guarantee it would get right back to where it is now, because there is a whole generation of young guys who would be miss out playing in these tournaments."
Diogu, who most recently played for Zamalek at the Basketball Africa League, has opted to sit out international hoops this season regardless of the ban, and will rather play in the Big3 Tournament for Snoop Dogg's team.
In any case, the convoluted situation in Nigeria is long-simmering, and really comes down to two rival factions who want control of the hoops governing body in the country.
Most recently, Nigeria's Sports Minister Sunday Dare had refused to recognise the election which had returned Musa Kida and his cabinet as the legitimate board of the NBBF.
This, even though the election was held under a Constitution approved by the Ministry, the Nigeria Olympic Committee and FIBA, and the election was held with a FIBA representative as an observer.
FIBA also sent a letter to Nigeria's government recognising the legitimacy of that election and the leadership of Kida. Instead, the government withdrew the country from international basketball and set up an interim committee.
Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri and Boston Celtics coach Ime Udoka, both of whom are of Nigerian descent and represented the country internationally, had spoken out against the ban last month.
Ujiri released a letter saying, "Enough is enough.
"The leaders of the basketball ecosystem in Nigeria continue to rob our youth of their present and future while tearing the entire basketball community apart -- this needs to stop."
For his part, Udoka said just before leading his team out to Game 2 of the NBA Finals, that the issues with Nigerian basketball had not changed in the years since he represented the country: "It's a lot of the same stuff I dealt with as a player, which is disappointing."
High-level sources told ESPN that during the recent peace talks, FIBA made it clear that if the withdrawal were to stand, Nigeria would be handed an additional 5-year ban running concurrently with the period of withdrawal and lasting through to 2027.
FIBA's refusal to budge, and pressure from businesses, players, and fans, finally forced the ministry into a retraction. To help the ministry save face, the NBBF agreed to write a letter of apology and also agreed to Constitutional amendments.
"At our last board meeting, we resolved to put machinery in motion to bring every genuine stakeholder to the table," Kida said.
"We have also resolved to maintain a very high level of respect for the Federal Government, through the Ministry of Sports, as we recognise their supervisory role in line with global laws governing sports federations."
The NBBF board led by Kida -- and now recognised by the government as the legitimately elected leadership of basketball in the country -- will now be officially sworn in on July 1.
It is not the first time Nigeria has withdrawn a sports team from international play and then reversed the decision when faced with the dire consequences. In 2010, then-president Goodluck Jonathan announced the withdraw of Nigeria men's football team from international competition, but also made an immediate U-turn barely four days later when FIFA reacted by handing down a provisional ban on the country.
By Colin Udoh
Friday, June 24, 2022
Two Nigerians, including a serving senator, have been charged with plotting to have a child brought into the United Kingdom to harvest their organs, the London police have said.
“The investigation was launched after detectives were alerted to potential offences under modern slavery legislation, in May 2022,” the police said in a statement on Thursday.
Beatrice Nwanneka Ekweremadu, 55, and Ike Ekweremadu, 60, were charged with conspiracy to arrange the travel of another person with a view to exploitation, namely organ harvesting.
They will appear at Uxbridge Magistrate’s Court in London later on Thursday.
The child has been safeguarded, and work was under way to provide additional support, the police said. No other details were given.
Ekweremadu, a former Nigerian deputy senate president, is from the southeastern state of Enugu.
Wednesday, June 22, 2022
The World Bank has said that Nigeria has the highest number of out of school children in the world with 11 million pupils recorded in 2020.
The Nigerian out of school children was 15 million in 2003.
According to the global financial institution, the number of school children under review who are between 6-15years increased by 100% between 2003 and 2020.
This was disclosed in the World Bank document titled “Nigeria Development Update (June 2020): The Continuing Urgency of Business Unusual.”
It revealed that the number of in-school children in 2003 was 20 million and has increased to 40 million in 2020, stating that the population of Nigerian children aged 6-15years in 2003 was 35 million and 51 million in 2020.
It, however, stated that more efforts need to be made to ensure Nigeria’s children are back to school.
The Bank said, “Although Nigeria has experienced a significant expansion in access to education during the last few decades, it still has the highest number of out-of-school (OOS) children in the world.”
The bank continued, “Nigeria’s more than 11 million OOS children between the ages of 6 and 15 represent 1 in 12 OOS children globally. The OOS children phenomenon in Nigeria is multi-causal and will require a combination of interventions. On the demand side, reducing the cost of education by eliminating school fees, providing cash transfers, and shifting socio-cultural norms that prevent school enrollment are critical steps.”
Reacting to the report, Statisense disclosed that the number, “represents 1 in 12 of all out-of-school children globally and 22% of all children in this age group in Nigeria.”
By Biodun Busari
Nigerian troops have found two former schoolgirls who were abducted by Boko Haram jihadists eight years ago, the military said Tuesday, freeing some of the last victims of the 2014 Chibok abduction.
The two women each carried babies on their laps as they were presented by the military, after captivity with militants who stormed their school in April, 2014 in northeast Nigeria in a mass kidnapping that sparked international outrage.
Major-General Christopher Musa, the military commander of troops in the region, told reporters the girls were found on June 12 and 14 in two different locations by troops.
"We are very lucky to have been able to recover two of the Chibok girls," Musa said.
Dozens of Boko Haram militants stormed the Chibok girls' boarding school in 2014 and packed 276 pupils, aged 12-17, at the time into trucks in the jihadist group's first mass school abduction.
Fifty-seven of the girls managed to escape by jumping from the trucks shortly after their abduction while 80 were released in exchange for some detained Boko Haram commanders following negotiations with the Nigerian government.
In the recent releases, one of the women, Hauwa Joseph, was found along with other civilians on June 12 around Bama after troops dislodged a Boko Haram camp, while the other, Mary Dauda, was found later outside Ngoshe village in Gwoza district, near the border with Cameroon.
On June 15 the military said on Twitter that they had found one of the Chibok girls named Mary Ngoshe. She turned out to be Mary Dauda.
"I was nine when we were kidnapped from our school in Chibok and I was married off not long ago and had this child," Joseph told reporters at the military headquarters.
Joseph's husband and father-in-law were killed in a military raid and she was left to fend for herself and her 14-month-old son.
"We were abandoned, no one cared to look after us. We were not being fed," she said.
Thousands of Boko Haram fighters and families have been surrendering over the last year, fleeing government bombardments and infighting with the rival group Islamic State West Africa Province.
The conflict has killed more than 40,000 people and displaced 2.2 million more since 2009.
Dauda, who was 18 when she was kidnapped was married at different times to Boko Haram fighters in the group's enclave in the Sambisa forest.
"They would starve and beat you if you refused to pray," Dauda said about life under Boko Haram.
She decided to flee and told her husband she was visiting another Chibok girl in Dutse village near Ngoshe, close to the border with Cameroon.
With the help of an old man who lived outside the village with his family, Dauda trekked all night to Ngoshe where she surrendered to troops in the morning.
"All the remaining Chibok girls have been married with children. I left more than 20 of them in Sambisa, she said. "I'm so happy I'm back."
After the Chibok school mass abduction jihadists carried out several mass abductions and deadly attacks on schools in the northeast.
In 2018, Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) fighters kidnapped 110 schoolgirls aged 11–19 years from Government Girls Science and Technical College (GGSTC) Dapchi in neighbouring Yobe state.
All the schoolgirls were released a month later except Leah Sharibu, the only Christian among the girls, who was held by the group for refusing to renounce her faith.
Related stories: Boko Haram attacks the same town it kidnapped the schoolgirls from
Video - Aljazeera speaks with Nigerian military about kidnapped schoolgirls
Video - The state of Nigerian governance and Boko Haram
A senior U.N. official warns of catastrophic consequences for millions of people in northeast Nigeria facing a food and nutrition crisis if the U.N. does not receive the funds needed to assist them.
U.N. resident and humanitarian coordinator for Nigeria, Matthias Schmale, says he is ringing the alarm bell now because the United Nations has received less than 20 percent of its $350 million appeal for Nigeria.
He says people in Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe states are struggling to survive after 12 years of conflict. Of the 8.4 million people who need humanitarian assistance, he says the U.N. plans to support at least 5.5 million of the most vulnerable. He says nearly 600,000 people are starving and go for days without food.
Malnourished children, he says, are of particular concern.
“Approximately, overall, 1.74 million children under five are expected to suffer from acute malnutrition across the northeast this year. Of these, over 300,000 … are expected to suffer from severe acute malnutrition and are, indeed, at high risk of death," said Schmale.
He says about 80 percent of U.N. aid will be used to assist women and children who often suffer the most in conflict zones. He says they are subject to violence, to abductions, to rape, and other forms of abuse.
Trond Jensen is Head of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Nigeria. He says much of the northeast lacks adequate protection for civilians. He says people who venture outside the fortified military garrison towns are in danger of being killed.
“It is a serious crisis in the sense that there is no freedom of movement, in the sense that much of the countryside is under the control then or the influence of the various different factions of Boko Haram," said Jensen. "So, that there are indiscriminate killings of civilians.”
U.N. officials recognize Nigeria’s crisis is overshadowed by the disastrous war in Ukraine and is in danger of being forgotten. However, they warn ignoring the humanitarian needs of Nigeria would have far reaching consequences in further destabilizing the region.
Monday, June 20, 2022
The sprint hurdler on Saturday set a new African record as she finished in pole position in the 100m hurdles, in 12.41 seconds, at the Diamond League meet in Paris, France.
Amusan before Saturday’s race was already the African record holder having erased the previous long-standing record held by her compatriot, Gloria Alozie.
However, while the initial record achieved at the Diamond League in Zurich nine months ago was12.42s, the 25-year-old has lowered it to a new lifetime best time of 12.41 seconds.
This is the 3rd fastest time in the world in 2022 behind Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, the reigning Olympic champion who ran 12.37 seconds early this month in Rome, Italy, and Alaysha Johnson of the USA who ran 12.40 seconds seven days ago in New York.
Going into the Paris leg of the money-spinning Diamond League, Amusan had widely been tipped to emerge tops and the Nigerian star did not disappoint; not just winning but in record-breaking fashion.
The eight maximum points she secured have moved her top of the event’s standing with 15 points. Amusan is also expected to pocket $10,000 in prize money.
Amusan’s latest win is coming a few days after she also won the 100 Hurdles event at the Paavo Nurmi Games in Turku, Finland.
Before her exploit in Finland, Amusan had also successfully defended her African title at the Senior Athletics Championship in Mauritius where she also helped Team Nigeria to gold in the 4x100m Women’s relay event.
Amusan will now shift focus to the Nigerian Athletics Championships which will take place between June 24 and 26 in Benin City, the Edo State capital.
The reigning Commonwealth Games champion is the favourite to retain the Nigerian 100m hurdles title she won last year at the Yaba College of Technology Sports complex.
By Tunde Eludini
Gunmen attacked two churches in rural northwestern Nigeria on Sunday, killing three people, witnesses and a state official said, weeks after a similar attack in the West African nation left 40 worshippers dead.
The attack in Kajuru area of Kaduna State targeted four villages, resulting in the abduction of unspecified number of residents and the destruction of houses before the assailants managed to escape, locals said.
It wasn’t immediately clear who was behind the attack on the Kaduna churches. Much of Nigeria has struggled with security issues, with Kaduna as one of the worst-hit states. At least 32 people were killed in the Kajuru area last week in an attack that lasted for hours across four villages.
Worshippers were attending the church service at the Maranatha Baptist Church and at St. Moses Catholic Church in Rubu community of Kaduna on Sunday morning when “they (the assailants) just came and surrounded the churches,” both located in the same area, said Usman Danladi, who lives nearby.
“Before they (worshippers) noticed, they were already terrorizing them; some began attacking inside the church then others proceeded to other areas,” Danladi said. He added that “most of the victims kidnapped are from the Baptist (church) while the three killed were Catholics.”
The Kaduna state government confirmed the three deaths by bandits who “stormed the villages on motorcycles, beginning from Ungwan Fada, and moving into Ungwan Turawa, before Ungwan Makama and then Rubu.” Security patrols are being conducted in the general area” as investigations proceed, according to Samuel Aruwan, Kaduna commissioner for security.
The Christian Association of Nigeria condemned Sunday’s attacks and said churches in Nigeria have become “targets” of armed groups.
“It is very unfortunate that when we are yet to come out of the mourning of those killed in Owo two Sundays ago, another one has happened in Kaduna,” Pastor Adebayo Oladeji, the association’s spokesman, told The Associated Press. “It has become a recurring decimal.”
Many of the attacks targeting rural areas in Nigeria’s troubled northern region are similar. The motorcycle-riding gunmen often arrive in hundreds in areas where Nigeria’s security forces are outnumbered and outgunned. It usually takes months for the police to make arrests and authorities have identified the attackers as mostly young herdsmen from the Fulani tribe caught up in Nigeria’s pastoral conflict between host communities and herdsmen over limited access to water and land.
Related stories: Video - Nigeria church attack: Survivors face grief, trauma
In 2013, Bianca Okorocha, a Nigerian artist who performs as ClayRocksU, received a DM from one of her Twitter followers. It was an invitation to Metal and Romance, a party in Lagos focusing on rock music — a genre long plagued by negative stereotypes in Nigeria. When she got there, she couldn’t believe what she saw: a whole community of fellow rock fans. “It was one of the happiest moments of my life,” she recalls.
Okorocha grew up listening to her father’s rock records, mostly by foreign bands. Through her teenage years and early adulthood, she immersed herself in punk fashion. But she noticed that people were always wary of her. “In church, I was always called to the pastor’s office for one complaint or the other,” she says. “People always gave me the side-eye and refused to approach me. So I didn’t expect to see so many people in tune with rock music.”
During Metal and Romance, she was shocked to hear Danjuma, lead singer of the metal band 1 Last Autograph, growl — something she’d never seen a Nigerian do. “When I saw them perform, I said to myself, ‘No way I’m not going to collaborate with these guys,’” she says. She’d later become friends with Danjuma, and perform and release music together with 1 Last Autograph, including the metal single “Down” in 2014. These days, they’re still playing together anywhere rock music can be found in Lagos and elsewhere in the country.
And they’re not the only artists leading a new wave of Nigerian rock. For the Love of Woman and Country, the latest album by Lagos’ Oma Mahmud, features both Afrobeats and punk-rock songs, along with songs that blend both genres. “There’s a lot of people that actually want to listen to [rock] songs like this,” Mahmud says. “Every single time I perform my music, it’s usually one of the highlights of the night. Mostly because most rock songs are people just venting their frustrations, and living in Nigeria, [it’s] a country where almost everybody’s frustrated.” His music speaks to Nigeria’s everyday problems, such as corruption, poor government, and a failing economy. Mahmud’s high-energy performances make his audiences feel connected to his music. “They immediately lock on to the music and feel like I’m their best friend,” he says, “like I’m telling their story.”
With artists like Burna Boy selling out Madison Square Garden and Wizkid and Davido doing the same at the 02 Arena, Nigerian music is becoming part of the Western pop mainstream. Could Nigerian rock be the next breakout sound? Okorocha thinks so. “If we can combine the rock that we love with Afrobeats, it may go a long way,” she says.
While rock music is often aligned with non-conformity and resistance, in a hyper-religious society like Nigeria, the genre is also branded as evil — or even associated with the occult. “Most people just think rock fans are listening to something demonic,” says Deoye Falade, who started listening to rock and metal in the mid-Nineties and now attends rock festivals and meetups in Lagos. “The kindest reactions I often get is that this is noise.” But, he says, he no longer cares. “When you like something and you understand it, you just enjoy it.”
He recalls a video of a Nigerian wedding that trended on Twitter in 2018, which featured the couple and their guests headbanging to System of a Down’s “Toxicity.” Some viewers couldn’t understand why Nigerians were partying to rock while dressed in agbada. “But you don’t have to paint your faces or rock the fashion before you like rock music,” Falade says.
A 26-year-old Lagos-based graphic artist going by the name of Queen, who has loved punk and metal since she was 13, says she felt shunned by her peers for listening to music from her favorite bands Bring Me the Horizon and Asking Alexandria. “People were wary of talking to me, and I struggled to make friends,” she recalls. “Once I started rocking and nodding my head, my roommates would say ‘the spirit’ had possessed me, which is weird because even the Christian music they listened to is pretty much rock music — just a softer kind.”
But rock music wasn’t always perceived like this in Nigeria. In the 1970s, after the Nigerian Civil War, and as the country was experiencing an economic boom fueled by the discovery of crude oil, rock bands like Ofo and the Black Company, War-Head Constriction, the Hykkers, the Funkees, and the Lijadu Sisters graced the airwaves with psychedelic rock and funk that captured a distinctly Nigerian sound. These artists chronicled the evils of the civil war, and Nigerians reveled in a renewed sense of optimism that turbocharged the growth of the nation’s music industry. But leftover war trauma and unresolved tensions got swept under the rug — along with Nigerian rock.
Music historian and researcher Uchenna Ikonne, who spearheaded the two-volume compilation Wake Up You! The Rise and Fall of Nigerian Rock 1972-1977, says that rock’s youth appeal in Nigeria — which set it apart from the then more popular genre of juju — ultimately hurt the genre. “In Nigeria, [young people] have the least amount of disposable income, compared with the West where teenagers have jobs and can spend money on entertainment, buy records, and support artists,” he explains. “Teenagers [have never really had] jobs in Nigeria, and the ones that do are doing it to help support family. So rock music had a niche culture that had a hard time sustaining itself, as opposed to juju artists like King Sunny Ade and Ebenezer Obey who would make entire albums praising the richest aristocrats in the society. Those social elites would in turn attend their performances and shower these musicians with their money. … So while juju artists were making money hand over fists, rock artists were struggling.”
Ikonne also draws distinctions between Nigerian rock artists and the country’s most recognizable musical icon, Fela Kuti. On one hand, Fela Kuti’s Afrobeat sound shares stylistic similarities with Nigerian rock: percussive rhythms, and grungy electric guitar and organ work. (Compare the solos in “Ije Udo,” a track by Seventies Nigerian rockers Magnificent Zenians, for example, with Fela Kuti’s “Shakara.”) But, Ikonne says, “coming from a middle-class background, Fela was able to sidestep the struggles of rock artists at the time, as he had more resources.” In the end, his experimentation with Afrobeat, highlife, and rock, coupled with his larger-than-life personality, attracted more attention than his rock peers. “When [Fela] perfected his sound, it kind of upstaged and cannibalized the Nigerian rock scene,” says Ikonne.
By the Eighties, an era that saw a growth of Christian revivalism in Nigeria, heavily influenced by the Moral Majority movement in the United States, rock music gained a bad rep in the country. Those prejudices have lingered for decades. Even in the 2000s, Dammy Lawal, who grew up listening to foreign rock artists and would go on to found the Metal and Romance fest, faced criticism for his taste in music. “Most of what I was hearing was that it’s the devil’s music,” he recalls.
In 2013, Lawal started a BlackBerry Messenger group where he and his friends could share rock playlists. “We had people sharing songs from Disturbed to Linkin Park, AC/DC to Creed, and so much more,” Lawal says.
The collective grew and transferred to WhatsApp. As each group reached its member limits on the app, newer offshoots were formed: RockazWorld, Rock Republik, Rock Haven. Eventually, Dammy decided to host an in-person event: Metal and Romance, where he also met ClayRocksU. “It was meant to be a meetup for sharing music playlists and dancing to our favorite songs, but by the next year, members started demanding that we include performances,” he says. “That was when we knew we had to host an actual show with a bigger venue. We were on to something.”
In October 2015, Rocktober Fest was born. Rock bands and artists visited from all over Africa to attend the show. More than 700 tickets were sold, and 15 performers delighted fans. The numbers grew exponentially over the next two years.
Lawal believes that African rock artists need to embrace their culture, rather than simply emulating Western sounds. “The best rock songs are the ones that have local flavor,” he says.
Oma Mahmud agrees, saying that Nigerian rock artists have to make rock music “native” to the country. “I can perform regular punk-rock songs, but I know who I expect to listen,” he says. “But to scale, the rock has to sound [more] Nigerian.” He says that his friends often play his songs in front of random people, “to see if it’ll draw a reaction.” It always does. “When you hear rock music that sounds like it comes from here,” he says, pointing to his heart, “it catches people’s attention.” In 2021, Afrofolk artist Johnny Drille featured a punk-rock song on his album Before We Fall Asleep — a politically satirical rock song in pidgin that involves growling — to positive reception.
ClayRocksU excels at something similar, fusing Igbo language and local pidgin folk elements with punk rock. In February 2021, she released “Amin” with her band, the Misfits, creating a subgenre of sorts: “Afro-rock.” With the song — a feel-good tune sung in Nigerian pidgin and blending punk rock, Afrobeats, and folk — Okorocha and Co. are also attempting to challenge the negative stereotypes attached to rock music in this part of the world. The singer recalls performances where audience members were shocked to learn that what they were listening to was rock music. “Sometimes, people don’t care about genre,” she says. “They just like what they like.” The lyric video for “Amin” now has 12,000 views on YouTube, a feat she’s achieved organically.
“Not bad for a rock artist in a country where no one listens to rock, eh?” she asks.
By Ama Udofa
Nigeria is withholding $450 million in revenue international carriers operating in the country have earned, an executive at the world's largest airlines association said on Sunday.
Africa's largest economy has restricted access to foreign currency for imports and for investors seeking to repatriate their profits as the nation tackles a severe dollar shortage.
The International Air Transport Association's Vice President for Africa and the Middle East, Kamal Al Awadhi, described talks with Nigerian officials to release the funds as a "hectic ride".
"We keep chipping away and hoping that it clicks that this is going to going to damage the country down the road," he told reporters in Doha on the eve of IATA's annual meeting of airline chiefs there this week.
Al Awadhi, a former chief executive of Kuwait Airways, said Nigerian officials had blamed the foreign currency shortage for not repatriating the airline revenue.
The Central Bank spokesperson in Nigeria did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Nigeria has previously blocked revenue from foreign airlines before later repatriating the funds.
IATA has so far had held two rounds of talks with Nigerian officials, including from the Central Bank, who Al Awadhi said were "not responsive" to releasing cash.
Another round of talks between IATA and Nigerian officials is expected to start soon, the airline lobby group said, without specifying when.
"Hopefully, we can get some sort of solution where it starts going down (but) it won't, I doubt, be paid in a single shot," Al Awadhi said.
IATA says $1 billion of revenue belonging to foreign airlines is being withheld across Africa, although Nigeria is the only country where the value of blocked funds has risen.
The $450 million, the largest amount withheld by any African nation, in May was 12.5% higher than the previous month.
Algeria, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe, who combined are withholding $271 million from foreign airlines, in May marginally paid down what they owed. Eritrea was unchanged at $75 million, IATA said.
Friday, June 17, 2022
We turn to the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers where Nigeria smashed Sao Tome and Principe 10-nil for a record victory for the Super Eagles earlier this week at the Agadir Stadium in Morocco. Napoli forward Victor Osimhen grabbed four goals in the astonishing win. CGTN's Deji Badimosi brings us the reaction from Nigeria.
Nigeria's main opposition presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar on Thursday picked a governor from the oil producing Delta state as running mate for next year's presidential election.
The choice points to a strategy by Abubakar, a northern Muslim, to generate support in the largely Christian south.
In Nigeria, with a population of 200 million and some 250 ethnic groups, geographical affiliations are crucial in calculations for political and electoral supremacy.
Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, 62, has been governor of Delta since 2015 and is a veteran of the opposition People's Democratic Party (PDP) party.
"I know that he will not only add excitement to our already energised campaign, but will also help bring focus, discipline and stability to our government come 2023," Abubakar said while presenting Okowa at the PDP offices in the capital Abuja.
Abubakar, a former vice president between 1999-2007 and former Lagos state governor Bola Tinubu, the ruling party candidate, are the leading contenders for the election to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari who steps down next year.
Abubakar said Okowa, a former senator, came with executive and legislative experience.
Okowa served in various posts in the Delta State government under former governor James Ibori, who was in office from 1999 to 2007.
Ibori was later extradited to Britain, where he pleaded guilty in 2012 to 10 counts of fraud and money-laundering in relation to corruption during his years as governor and received a 13-year jail sentence.
Okowa has not been accused of any wrongdoing.
Nigeria's next president will face several security issues, including an Islamist insurgency, banditry and kidnappings, long-running unrest in the Niger Delta, herder-farmer confrontations and separatist agitation in the southeast.
By Macdonald Dzirutwe
At least 35 teenage girls held captive and forced to work in a prostitution ring in southeastern Nigeria have been rescued after police raided a hotel where they were being held, police said.
The girls between the ages of 14 and 17 were found by police acting on a tipoff in Nkpor town in Anambra state, according to a statement issued by Tochukwu Ikenga, Anambra police spokesman.
The girls were being used for prostitution and some were impregnated so their babies could be sold, said the statement. Four of the girls rescued are pregnant, police said.
Three suspects were arrested in connection with the incident, the police statement said. Rifles and 877,500 naira ($2,112) cash were also recovered, police said.
“The suspects arrested are being interrogated with a view to eliciting information on their involvement and unmasking other gang members,” said the police spokesman. The suspects arrested will be charged at the end of investigations, he said.
The girls freed will be handed over to Nigeria’s National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons for their care while, said the statement.
This is not the first time that police in Nigeria’s southeast have freed young girls who were being held captive and were sexually exploited and forced to have babies that were then sold.
A child trafficking syndicate was uncovered last month in Ebonyi state after it was discovered that a baby had been sold for 355,000 naira ($855), police said. Some babies have in the past been sold for as low as 70,000 naira ($168), police said.
By Chinedu Asadu
Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, yesterday, warned the Federal Government that its inability to secure lives and property would soon force Nigerians to arm themselves in self-defence.
Akeredolu, in his keynote address at the meeting of the Attorneys-General of the 36 states of Nigeria, in Lagos, said the Police were overwhelmed.
The governor asked the Police to ‘close shop’ if the Federal Government could not meet its equipment needs.
Akeredolu insisted that the Police have failed in their constitutional role of protecting Nigerians and that if the situation does not improve, citizens would be left with no other option but to arm themselves in self-defence.
Akeredolu stated: “The current spate of insecurity in the country leaves us with no room for equivocation on the rights of the states to maintain law and order through the establishment of State Police. The growing distrust in the polity is a direct result of the disconnect between Federal Government and the constituent units of the country. The economic adversity currently experienced in the country points directly at the defective political structure.
“A unitary system cannot work, successfully, in a country like Nigeria. The 1999 Constitution has been amended twice. There is another promise of further amendments arising from the manifest irregularity in many provisions.
“This has compelled many lawyers and educated citizens to insist on having a new Constitution which will reflect the agitations of the various groups which make up the country. The law is becoming increasingly less certain under these circumstances.
“The crises created by the 1999 Constitution, as amended, have been unending. There have been agitations that the Exclusive Legislative List in this Constitution is limited to Nigeria’s external trade, customs duties, export duties, tax on incomes, profits and capital gains, interstate commerce, external borrowing, mining rents and royalties from mineral resources, among others.
“The Federal Government has, consistently, rejected this suggestion, presumably, because of the humongous 52 percent revenue allocation to it while the 36 States and the 774 Local Governments share the remaining 48 percent.”
Akeredolu challenged states to restructure the country by, among others, setting up their anti-graft agencies.
However, in his address, Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami , SAN, said governors cannot continue to agitate for restructuring and state police when they are responsible for the compromise and mismanagement of the current system.
Malami also stated that “State police will not work because state governors would abuse it, look at the way they treat local government, imagine what will happen if they control the police.“
The AGF advised the governors to utilise the existing structures through the National Assembly to press on with their demands for restructuring and other constitutional amendments.
By Innocent Anaba
Related story: Video - Is Nigeria's security crisis out of control?
Wednesday, June 15, 2022
The Confucius Institute in Nigeria commemorated the 2022 Dragon Boat Festival. Chinese cultural enthusiasts gathered to witness the event which celebrates patriotism and classical poetry. CGTN's Kelechi Emekalam reports.
This was disclosed by the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (EVC/CEO) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, in his keynote address at the 2022 Nigeria DigitalSENSE Forum series on ‘5G: Enthroning Internet Governance for Digital Economy’ held in Lagos.
DigitalSENSE Africa, a project of ITREALMS Media Group, puts Nigeria DigitalSENSE Forum on Internet Governance for Development together.
Buttressing his position, the EVC, who was represented by a Deputy Director and Head of Spectrum Database Management at NCC, Abraham Oshadami, while dwelling specifically on “5G: Enthronement in Nigeria’s Telecom Sector” outlined some 11 points to drive home his assertion.
Some of these steps, he said, include the creation of a full-fledged department of Digital Economy in NCC with a mandate amongst others, to ensure that the programmes and targets set in the NNBP 2020-2025 and NDEPS 2020 – 2030 are rigorously pursued, tracked, and attained; INFRACO companies have been licensed to deploy fibre on an open access basis in six geo-political zones of the country and Lagos State. Approval to commence rollout was given in April 2021.
According to him, they have developed and secured the Federal Executive Council’s approval on Nigerian 5G Policy to guide deployments of 5G services nationwide, while acknowledging efforts of the Minister of Communication & Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami.
In addition, he said, NCC had successfully licensed two lots of 100 MHz bandwidth in the 3.5 GHz Spectrum band for 5G deployment in December 2021, just as they set up and expanded the Internet Exchange Point capacity of 930 MB/s for Abuja to Lagos Route, 620 MB/s for Abuja to Kano Route, 310 MB/s for Lagos to Port Harcourt route, bolstering landed total offshore broadband capacity of 50.74 TB comprising 40TB Submarine and 10.74 TB of Satellite and the figures are already set for increase.
Equally, he said, NCC followed up on the global industry trends on 5G spectrums such as the 26 GHz, 38 GHz and 42 GHz bands harmonized in World Radio Conference 2019 (WRC-19), and has updated the National Frequency Allocation Table (NFAT) to reflect the outcome of the WRC-19 through opening up the 60 GHz V-band; Opened up the 70/80GHz E-band for both point-to-point and point-to-multi-points deployments; and developed and published the Spectrum Trading Guidelines amongst other benefits.
These, he said, are evident in the efforts of the commission being demonstrated in the smooth update of previous technologies such as 2G, 3G and the 4G; and the one that is now being implemented to ensure the deployment and adoption of 5G infrastructure and services in Nigeria.
Equally speaking, the Director-General (DG), National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Mallam Balarabe Musa said that in the past few days, digital technology usage around the world have improved including raising the bar on credibility of election results across the continent.
Balarabe, who was represented by a delegation led by the Lagos Zonal Director, Dr. Chibuike Ogwumike, charged stakeholders including various regulatory organs, industries, network operators, service-technology providers, public and private partnership organisations to synergise and be in continued dialogue to address the challenges that may face the widespread 5G deployment worldwide.
By Adeyemi Adepetun
JPMorgan Chase (JPM.N) has won a London High Court battle against Nigeria, which was seeking $1.7 billion in damages over the U.S. bank's role in a disputed 2011 oilfield deal.
JPMorgan said the judgment reflected its commitment to acting with high professional standards everywhere it operates, while Nigeria said it was disappointed and would review the judgment carefully before considering its next steps.
The civil case, which was heard earlier this year, relates to the purchase by Shell (SHEL.L) and Eni (ENI.MI) of Nigeria's OPL 245 offshore oilfield.
Nigeria had alleged JPMorgan was "grossly negligent" in its transfer of funds paid by the energy majors to a company linked to the country's disgraced former oil minister Dan Etete, as per instructions received from Nigerian government officials.
Nigeria now says those officials were party to a fraudulent scheme.
According to Nigeria's legal argument, the transactions put JPMorgan in breach of its Quincecare duty, which obliges banks to disregard a customer's instructions if following those instructions might facilitate a fraud against that customer.
JP Morgan rejected the legal argument, putting the emphasis on its primary duty to comply promptly with payment instructions from its customer, and also contested some of the factual elements put forward by Nigeria.
London High Court Judge Sara Cockerill said in a 137-page ruling issued on Tuesday that no Quincecare breach had occurred.
JPMorgan said the outcome reflected "how we are prepared to robustly defend our actions and reputation when they are called into question".
The Nigerian government said it would continue its fight against fraud and corruption and work to recover funds for the people of Nigeria.
Campaign group Spotlight on Corruption described the ruling as "a huge setback in the fight against corruption", saying it gave a "free pass" to banks who ignored red flags.
The damages sought included cash sent to Etete's company Malabu Oil and Gas, around $875 million paid in three instalments in 2011 and 2013, plus interest, taking the total to over $1.7 billion.
Nigerian military ruler Sani Abacha had awarded licence OPL 245 to a company Etete owned in 1998.
Subsequent Nigerian administrations had challenged Etete's rights to the field over many years until a deal to resolve the impasse via a sale to Shell and Eni was struck in 2011.
The transaction is also at the centre of ongoing legal action in Italy.
By Sinead Cruise and Estelle Shirbon
Tuesday, June 14, 2022
Two mass shootings in different parts of Nigeria have brought people together in shock and revulsion - and have highlighted a country-wide security crisis. In one attack that horrified people across the country, gunmen killed dozens of congregants at a church in Owo, a town in Ondo state, on June 5.
No group has claimed responsibility for the assault, but the National Security Council says Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) masterminded it. Reports later emerged that on the same day as the church massacre, gunmen killed at least 32 people in the Kajuru region of the northwestern state of Kaduna, about 350 miles from Owo. President Muhammadu Buhari has condemned "the heinous killing of worshippers" in Owo, while pledging that the government will win its fight against armed groups. But the attacks are just the latest in a series of assaults against communities across Nigeria - north, south, east and west. Murder, kidnapping, and violent robberies have mounted in recent months, including in parts of the country that were once relatively peaceful.
The federal government and security forces are struggling to tackle a series of overlapping security challenges, including threats from Boko Haram and ISWAP, banditry, separatist groups, and violent conflict between herders and farmers over scarce land and resources. With police forces underfunded and understaffed, some leaders are now asking vigilante groups to guarantee communities’ safety – a development some analysts fear could spur further violence. In this episode of The Stream we'll look at the various security crises that Nigeria is facing, and ask what can be done to improve safety for communities enduring the daily threat of attack.
Monday, June 13, 2022
A Nigerian biker rides from London in the UK to Nigeria's largest city Lagos to raise funds for the polio awareness campaign and eliminating the disease.
Nigeria’s top lender, Access Bank, will acquire a majority stake in Sidian Bank from Centum Investments for Ksh4.3 billion ($36.8 million), two years after it entered the Kenyan market with the buyout of Transnational Bank.
Gunmen have released 11 passengers who were abducted during a train attack in northern Nigeria at the end of March, a government minister said, though dozens of others are thought to remain in captivity.
Gbemisola Saraki, the minister of state for transportation, said in a statement late on Saturday that the government was working to ensure all the kidnapped passengers were released.
The freed passengers were taken to a hospital in Abuja. Saraki did not say how and where they were released, or if ransom was paid.
Armed gangs, known locally as bandits, blew up the track on the Abuja-Kaduna route in the north of the country and opened fire on the night train on March 28, killing eight people.
Nigeria's state railway company initially said it could not account for 168 people who according to a passenger log had booked to travel on the train. Most were later traced to their homes, but 65 were confirmed missing.
Video released by the suspected bandits has since shown a number of people in captivity who identified themselves as passengers from the train.
"As grateful as we are for this positive development, we are equally mindful of the anguish of all the victims and their families, who have unfortunately endured and (are) still enduring unimaginable trauma since the tragic incident," Saraki said.
Bandits have killed and abducted hundreds of people for ransom in northern Nigeria, leaving citizens terrified.
Marking Democracy Day on Sunday, President Muhammadu Buhari said Nigerians were worried by rising insecurity, but promised his government was working to contain the situation and ensure a safe and secure general election in early 2023.
"I am living daily with the grief and worry for all those victims and prisoners of terrorism and kidnapping," said Buhari in a televised speech.
Reporting by Garba Muhammad in Kaduna and Felix Onuah in Abuja; Writing by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Jan Harvey
Nigeria’s wobbly national electricity grid has collapsed yet again, throwing several cities including the federal capital Abuja into darkness.
Electricity companies announced late Sunday that the collapse occurred just before 7pm.
It is the sixth reported collapse in 2022, although it is believed the figure could be higher.
The government blames poor management and low gas supply as the major causes of the repeated breakdown.
The Jos Electricity Distribution Plc informed its customers through its Facebook page on Sunday about the interruption in Electricity supply.
“The Management of Jos Electricity Distribution Company Plc wishes to inform the general public that the current outage being witnessed is a result of system collapse,” the head of corporate communication, Friday Elijah, said.
“We hope to restore supply as soon as supply is restored,” he added.
The Enugu Electricity Distribution Company Plc based in Enugu said, “EEDC wishes to inform her esteemed customers of a system collapse which occurred at 6.49pm this evening, Sunday, 12th June, 2022.”
The statement signed by spokesperson Emeka Ezeh said as a result of the development, all outgoing feeders were out and this has affected supply to its customers in Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo States.
“We are on standby, awaiting further information on restoration of supply from the National Control Centre (NCC),” he added.
Also the Eko Electricity Distribution Company said, “dear Esteemed Customer, we regret to inform you of the system collapse from the National grid. This has affected our entire network and impacted our ability to deliver optimum service.”
“Please bear with us as we are working with our TCN partners on a swift resolution. Power Outage In Our Franchise Due To Grid Collapse,” it concluded.
The spokesperson of the Kaduna electricity distribution company, Abdulazeez Abdullahi, passed the same message to customers.
“We regret to inform you that the power outage being experienced in our franchise states is due to System Collapse of the National Grid. The collapse occurred at about 18:47 pm this evening hence the loss of supply on all our outgoing feeders,” the notice said.
The company promised consumers that power will be restored as soon as the National Grid is powered back.
“Please be informed that the current power outage is due to a system failure from the National Grid. The system collapsed at about 6.49pm today 12th June, 2022, causing the outage currently being experienced,” the management of the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company said on Facebook..
“We appeal for your understanding as all stakeholders are working hard to restore normal supply,” it said.
After a similar collapse in April, the Minister of Power, Abubakar Aliyu, said the government had been making efforts to improve power supply.
Like past governments, the Buhari administration has so far failed to solve Nigeria’s perennial power problem.
By Oge Udegbunam
Related stories: Nigeria runs on generators and nine hours of power a day
Friday, June 10, 2022
US-based Nigerian adult-entertainment star, Judith Mazagwu, popularly known as AfroCandy, is set to unveil a studio, where she will ply her trade in Nigeria.
The controversial entertainer has hired an apartment somewhere in the Ajah area of Lagos and is currently furnishing it to taste.
“I’m just trying to set up my business here, so that I can be visiting home regularly.”
The porn star also has confirmed setting up a multi-purpose studio, which will be unveiled after she returns to the country again.
“The studio is not in my new home. It will be located in a separate environment and it will serve as a general production studio. So anything can be done there”, the porn star revealed.
Also, confirming the development in an Instagram post, the pornstar wrote: “ Sweetie, I didn’t quit, just busy setting up the stages, wait for it!! #afrocandy is coming!!”
Team Nigeria grabbed its first gold medal at the ongoing 22nd African Senior Athletics Championships in Mauritius, yesterday, as sprint hurdler, Tobiloba Amusan, became the fifth woman to successfully defend the 100m hurdles title. She stormed to victory in a wind-aided 12.57 seconds.
The 25-year-old Amusan first won the title four years ago at the 21st edition of the championship, Asaba 2018. She has now become the third Nigerian after Maria Usifo (1984 and 1985) and Glory Alozie (1996, 1998 and 2000) and fifth African to successfully defend the sprint hurdles title.
The reigning African Games champion was, however, denied the chance to break the 12.77 seconds championship record set by Alozie at the 11th edition of the championship in Dakar, Senegal, in 1998 by an excessive 4.0m/s tail wind.
Amusan’s victory has increased Nigeria’s gold medal haul in sprint hurdles to 12.
The story was, however, different for Team Nigeria in the 100m, where the nation failed to win any medal in both the male and female sprint events.
Reigning African Games fastest man, Raymond Ekevwo and home-girl, Tima Godbless, failed in their bid to return Nigeria to reckoning in the men and women’s 100m finals in Mauritius.
The two athletes ran new personal season’s best in all conditions and new personal best respectively in their bid, but ended up with no medal.
Ekevwo ran 10.03 seconds in the men’s race, but ended up in fourth place, thereby extending Nigeria’s wait for the blue ribband event’s crown beyond 12 years after Olusoji Fasuba won in 2008 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Reigning African 100m record holder, Kenya’s Ferdinand Omanyala and defending champion, Akani Simbine of South Africa, both ran a wind-aided 9.93s, but the former was crowned Africa’s speed king to become the second Kenyan after Joseph Gikinyo in 1990 to win the event.
In the women’s race, Godbless ran an impressive 11.27 seconds, but ended up in fourth place as The Gambia’s Gina Bass won in 11.06s.
Niger’s Aminatou Seyni Moumouni (11.09) and South Africa’s Carina Horn (11.14) came in second and third respectively. This will be the second time in last three editions Nigeria has failed to make the podium in 100m event.
Nigeria was last crowned African champion in the event eight years ago, when Blessing Okagbare ran a then 11.00 seconds championship record to win the country’s 12th blue ribband gold medal in the history of the championship.
Meanwhile, quartermiler, Patience Okon George, qualified for her straight fourth final in the women’s 400m after running 53.24seconds to win her semifinal heat.
The 30-year-old will be hoping to strike gold this time around after winning bronze in 2014, 2016 and return Nigeria as African champion eight years after Folasade Abugan ran 51.21s to win at the 19th edition in Marrakech, Morocco in 2014. The feat made Abugan the seventh Nigerian to win gold in the history of the championship.
In the men’s version, the trio of Sikiru Adeyemi, Nathaniel Samson and Johnson Nnamani failed to advance to the final, thereby, extending Nigeria’s wait to get an African champion 24 years after Clement Chukwu won the gold medal in Dakar, Senegal.
By Gowon Akpodonor
The 24-year-old was cleared earlier this year by FIFA to switch his allegiance from England to the West African nation.
Lookman had featured for the Three Lions at the youth level.
“It was a tough decision. A decision I had to make because obviously, it was my country’s call.
“My parents are Nigerians and I came to Nigeria a lot of times growing up and Nigeria wasn’t new to me.
“Making decisions wasn’t a tough decision in terms of knowing where I was going. Coming into the team, the squad has been great. Everyone has been very receptive and welcoming. I love this group and the people,” Lookman told Complete Sports.
By Ifreke Inyang
Attacks by armed gangs on motorcycles are blamed for the deaths of at least 32 people in rural northwestern Nigeria, residents told The Associated Press.
The gunmen attacked four villages in the Kajuru area of Kaduna state on Sunday, said Monday Solomon, a resident of the area about 230 kilometers (143 miles) from Abuja, Nigeria’s capital. The attackers moved from village to village for hours before leaving, he said.
Poor telecommunications delayed residents from reporting the attacks as is often the case in parts of Nigeria’s north.
News of the killings in Kaduna state comes shortly after more than 30 people were killed in an attack on a Catholic church on Sunday in southwestern Ondo, a state previously known as one of Nigeria’s safest.
Nigeria’s National Security Council said Thursday that the attack in Ondo was carried out by extremist rebels under the Islamic State West Africa Province group, confirming alarms raised in the past by local authorities and security analysts that the militants who have been restricted to the northeast for many years are looking to expand their influence and reach to other parts of the country.
Following the recent attack in Kaduna state, at least 32 bodies have been recovered from the villages, according to the Adara Development Association. It said survivors continue to “comb surrounding bushes for more corpses.” Twenty-eight people have so far been buried, said residents.
In the Kajuru area, attackers arrived on more than 100 motorcycles, said resident Usman Danladi. Many villagers “took to their hills and ran into the bush (but) they (the attackers) followed them with motorcycles and killed many of them,” said Danladi.
“Twenty-eight people have been buried as of yesterday and we cannot say if they are all because many of the dead bodies are being picked from the bush,” said Danladi.
More than 20 people were kidnapped and the abductors are demanding money for their release, he added.
Such attacks have become frequent in Nigeria’s troubled northwest. Thousands have been killed in the violence, according to data compiled by the U.S.-based Council on Foreign Relations. Residents are often abducted and kept in detention for weeks usually in forest reserves until ransoms are paid.
The gunmen in the latest violence were “armed Fulani militia,” said resident Danladi. “That is the language they were speaking. That was their outlook. They are not new to our environment because this is not the first time they were attacking,“ he said.
The Fulani herdsmen, who are mostly Muslim, have been in conflict for decades against the settled farmers over access to land for grazing. The rivalry has become deadly in recent years as gangs of gunmen attack rural communities.
In one of the villages, residents were able to repel them at first before a helicopter arrived and “started gunning the youths from the air,” Awemi Dio Maisamari, the Adara association national president, said in a statement.
Neither the police nor Kaduna state officials have yet confirmed the attacks. The limited security presence in many remote communities in Nigeria makes it difficult for government forces to protect residents from the attacks or quickly arrest the perpetrators, analysts say.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has been accused of not doing enough to end the country’s security woes, a key campaign promise the former military general made when he sought election in 2015. Buhari’s tenure as president ends in May next year after eight years in office.
By Chinedu Asadu
Nigerian security officials suspect extremists from Islamic State’s affiliate in west Africa were behind an attack on a Catholic church last weekend that killed dozens.
Forty people are now thought to have died after gunmen stormed St Francis Catholic church in Owo, Ondo State, on Sunday, and 61 survivors are still being treated in hospital, according to local authorities. The total is double an earlier estimate.
Nigeria’s National Security Council said on Thursday that the attack was the work of the Islamic State West Africa Province (Iswap) group, apparently reinforcing fears that the militants, who have been restricted to the north-east for many years, are looking to expand their influence and reach to other parts of the country. Ondo, in the south-west, has long been considered one of the safer parts of the country.
Nevertheless, some analysts have counselled caution, noting the absence of any claim of responsibility from Iswap.
“Iswap always claim big attacks, and always ones in the south,” said Vincent Foucher, a research fellow at the CNRS (National Centre of Scientific Research) in Paris. “They want to show they are strong and even expanding so they definitely would claim this one.”
He said, the modus operandi was different. “Most previous Iswap attacks have used hit-and-run tactics, not a big assault team as in this incident.”
Other possible perpetrators include militia involved in local conflicts, violence between farmers and herders, and even criminal networks. In one attack on a church in Anambra state in 2017, police arrested local racketeers and traffickers.
The growing instability of Africa’s most populous nation was underlined by attacks that killed at least 32 people in the rural north-west several days ago.
Armed gangs on motorcycles attacked four villages in the Kajuru area of Kaduna state on Sunday, witnesses said. Poor telecommunications delayed residents from reporting the attacks, as is often the case in parts of northern Nigeria.
Such attacks have become frequent in Nigeria’s troubled north-west, where thousands have been killed, according to data compiled by the US-based Council on Foreign Relations. Residents are often abducted and kept in detention for weeks, usually in forest reserves, until ransoms are paid.
The gunmen in the latest violence were “armed Fulani militia”, one resident said. “That is the language they were speaking. That was their outlook. They are not new to our environment because this is not the first time they were attacking.”
Fulani herdsmen, who are mostly Muslim, have been in conflict with the settled farmers for decades over access to land for grazing. The rivalry has become deadly in recent years as armed gangs attack rural communities.
Neither the police nor Kaduna state officials have yet confirmed the attacks. The limited security presence in many remote communities makes it difficult for government forces to protect residents from the attacks or quickly arrest the perpetrators, analysts say.
Muhammadu Buhari, the Nigerian president, has been accused of not doing enough to end the country’s security problems, one of the main campaign promises the former general made when he sought election in 2015. Buhari’s tenure as president ends in May 2023.
Iswap has been unable to fully capitalise on its spectacular victory over the rival extremist group Boko Haram last year.
“They have had mixed fortunes,” Foucher said. “The army has been more active and pretty good at putting them under pressure now that they are the main focus …. They are also facing unexpectedly tough resistance from other extremists.”
By Jason Burke
Related stories: Video - Nigeria church attack: Survivors face grief, trauma
Thursday, June 9, 2022
The All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain will now contend with opposition leader Atiku Abubakar as the two vie to succeed incumbent Muhammadu Buhari as president of Africa’s biggest economy. In the primaries held on Tuesday and Wednesday, Tinubu, 70, a former two-time governor of Lagos, won with 1,271 votes, ahead of former Transportation Minister Rotimi Amaechi’s 316 votes and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s 235 votes. Senate President Ahmad Lawan scored 152 votes. The septuagenarian was one of the first candidates to declare his intention to succeed Buhari whose second and final term ends in May next year. To become president, he will have to defeat the People’s Democratic Party flagbearer Atiku – his former business partner and another founding father of the APC – in the general elections scheduled for February 2023. Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Idris reports from Abuja, Nigeria.
Wednesday, June 8, 2022
Hospitals in southwestern Nigeria say they are running out of supplies to treat survivors of Sunday's attack on a church. Gunmen killed dozens of people as worshippers gathered for Catholic mass in in the town of Owo in Nigeria’s Ondo state. Police say the gunmen who attacked the St Francis Xavier Catholic Church disguised themselves as congregants. The families of the victims say they do not know why a church service was targeted. Africa's most populous country has grappled with severe problems of violence and criminality in the north for more than a decade. But millions may be forced to flee Nigeria if the internal conflict moves south. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack as seven days of national mourning continue. Al Jazeera’s Jillian Wolf reports.
The Athletics Federation of Nigeria has selected over 50 athletes to represent the country at the 22nd African Athletics Championship scheduled for Mauritius. The athletes have begun preparation for the championship and are quite confident of posting a good showing at the competition. Here CGTN's Deji Bademosi with more on that story.
The Cinema Exhibitors Association of Nigeria (CEAN) on Tuesday said that it generated N653 million from tickets sold across the country in May.
Mr Patrick Lee, National Chairman of CEAN, disclosed this while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.
“We had total sales of N653,229,100.00 for the month of May 2022.
“21 Nollywood films shown in May accounted for 28 per cent of total ticket sales while 14 films, Hollywood films accounted for about 69 per cent, with “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” being the major outliner.
“Comparing April with May, ticket sales improved by about 12 per cent, with May being the highest-grossing month in 2022, so far.
Lee noted that the top five highest-grossing films in May are: “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness”; “King of Thieves”; “Sonic the Hedgehog2”; “The Lost City” and “The Perfect Arrangement”.
He said the films to be released across cinemas in June are: “Ex and Exes”; “Jurassic World: Dominion”; “The Order of Things”; “Flatus”; “Last Seen Alive”; “Light Year”; “Silent Baron”; “Black Phone”; “Elvis” and “Ile Owo”.
“It is exciting to see the mind-blowing box office performance of titles released in
“Like we all anticipated, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” led the park with over N330million to consolidate on the continued monstrous performance of Nollywood’s rave-of-the-moment, “King of Thieves”.
“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” now holds the record of the strongest weekend opening for a post-pandemic release in Nigerian cinemas.
“While “King of Thieves”, is so far, the highest-grossing Nollywood film since “Omo Ghetto the Saga”,” he said.
Before February, Khalil Rahman Abdullah would start his day with morning prayers before racing off to classes at the University of Ilorin, where he is a final-year medical student.
These days, he wakes to his phone and laptop screen, then browses the web or signs up to online courses. As time ticks by, like many Nigerian students, he is becoming enormously frustrated.
Nigeria’s Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the umbrella body for university lecturers, went on strike on 14 February … and staff have not returned since.
“With the strike, it means I will spend a longer year,” says Abdullah, 28, who would have qualified by now if the strike hadn’t happened. “The bulk of the work I do at this level is hands-on, not what you can study at home. You need constant exposure to patients.”
The ASUU says it is protesting over the government’s refusal to fulfil a 2009 agreement which included a better welfare package and improved facilities for universities across Nigeria. It also wants the government to adopt the University Transparency and Accountability Solution [UTAS] for payment of its members’ salaries.
For students like Abdullah, plans for their lives and careers have been put on hold. “At this point, I am not supposed to be a student,” says Abdullah.
The current strike comes after a 10-month strike in 2020. National affairs analyst Alausa Issa Sanni says the strike is bringing an “idleness to young people”. “The danger is that we will have potential students becoming uninterested in education. Many have already lost interest, and it leaves the country in a shaky place.”
But Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, ASUU president, says the industrial action is in the best interests of students. “The students are not being punished – what we are doing is fighting for the future of the Nigerian university system,” he says.
“We are negotiating with the federal government, and making emphatic progress. We hope the government will accept whatever they’ve negotiated, and then we can look at all the issues and come back to work if they meet the conditions.
Osodeke adds that the government only started negotiating three weeks ago, and lecturers have not been paid for four months.
The strike has crippled small businesses that depend on students. Sherif Olayiwola, 27, runs a cafe on the Ilorin campus. “When the students left, there was nothing to do other than close down. I’m eating into my savings, and I’m scared they may finish before the strike will be called off. I don’t know how things are going to pan out.”
Fatima Owoeye, a final-year history student at Ilorin, says the strike has left her feeling depressed. “At my age, I am supposed to have something promising I’m doing, but the fact that the country is not good at all makes it impossible. I was supposed to spend four years in school, and it has turned to almost six years now.”
To ease the burden on her single mother, who cares for her and her two siblings, Owoeye has started applying for jobs. Most employers turned her down for not having a degree, even though she sat her final exams a week before the strike began. “Some told me they want someone who can work full-time and won’t leave after school resumes,” she says.
She has learned to bake to keep herself engaged, but she remains troubled by the knowledge that most employers in Nigeria’s competitive job market discriminate against applicants older than 24. “I will be 26 next year. What position will I be in? Will I be able to get these opportunities? This is not the plan I had for myself,” she says.
“I’m not moving forward, I’m not moving backward, I’m just in one place.”
By Pelumi Salako
Deep in a forest in Nigeria's Ebute Ipare village, Egbontoluwa Marigi sized up a tall mahogany tree, methodically cut it down with his axe and machete, and as it fell with a crackling sound, he surveyed the forest for the next tree.
Around him, the stumps dotting the swampy forest were a reminder of trees that once stood tall but are fast disappearing to illegal logging in Ondo state, southwest Nigeria.
"We could cut down over 15 trees in one location, but now if we manage to see two trees, it will look like a blessing to us," the 61-year-old father of two said. (Photo essay: https://reut.rs/3zkLV8y)
From 2001 to 2021, Nigeria lost 1.14 million hectares of tree cover, equivalent to a 11% decrease in tree cover since 2000 and equal to 587 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, according to Global Forest Watch, a platform that provides data and monitors forests.
After felling the trees, Marigi put markers on them, a message to other loggers that he is the owner. The logs would be transported via creeks and rivers all the way to Nigeria's commercial capital Lagos.
"During the time of our forefathers, we had big trees but sadly what we have now are just small trees and we don't even allow them to mature before we cut them," Marigi said.
Cutting down trees for logging, opening up farmland or to feed energy demand for a growing population is putting pressure on Nigeria's natural forests.
President Muhammadu Buhari told a COP15 meeting in Abidjan, Ivory Coast on May 9 that Nigeria had established a national forestry trust fund to help regenerate the country's forests. That may not be enough as the country loses forests at a faster pace.
"Protecting the forest means protecting ourselves. When we destroy the forest, we destroy humanity," said Femi Obadun, director of forest management for Ondo state's agriculture ministry.
It's something Marigi knows all too well, but his priority is to eke out a living.
Months after cutting the trees, Marigi returns to the forest to pull the logs together and fasten them into rafts. He has a collection of more than 40 logs.
With other loggers, they have put together money to hire a tugboat to pull the rafts through creeks and rivers from Ondo state to Lagos.
Makeshift shelters on the rafts are made from wood and help shield Marigi and his friends from the weather. Food is shared while they belt out local folk songs to lift spirits.
"We don't sleep at night during the journey. We monitor the logs and make sure that (they don't) detach from the tugboat," Marigi told Reuters.
The boat stops at several locations to pick up more loggers and their rafts. A single boat can carry up to a thousand rafts, each containing as much as 30 logs.
Marigi's journey ends at a lagoon in Lagos, where rafts from Ondo state and other parts of the country converge and the logs are processed at sawmills and sold to different users.
By Nyancho Nwa Nri and Fikayo Owoeye