Friday, July 29, 2022
Africa has recorded a spike in air travel demand as governments gradually relax COVID-19 travel protocols. The International Air Transport Association says the continent accounted for almost 2 percent of the total world passenger air travel market in May 2022. Kelechi Emekalam takes a look at how Nigeria's air travel industry, one of the hardest hit by pandemic restrictions, is faring.
Nigeria's Medical and Dental Council says it will no longer accept certificates issued by medical schools in Ukraine. CGTN's Kelechi Emekelan explains why.
Opposition lawmakers in Nigeria have threatened to impeach the country’s president Muhammadu Buhari over accusations he has failed to implement recommendations to end rising violence in the West African nation.
The lawmakers in the Nigerian House of Representatives said Thursday that they would join forces with their counterparts in the Senate who issued a six-month notice for Buhari’s impeachment on Wednesday just as the nation’s National Security Council announced plans for a new “strategy” to end the violence.
Impeachment of presidents in Nigeria is rare but such threats from lawmakers are not. Not much is expected of the latest impeachment threat which is coming just seven months to the end of Buhari’s second and final tenure as president. He has survived at least two past impeachment attempts since he became president in 2015 but none has seen the light of the day because they are usually partisan and initiated by the opposition.
The Nigerian presidency dismissed the latest impeachment threat as “ridiculous” and said it would welcome the collaboration of federal lawmakers in solving Nigeria’s problems.
“No one is asking them to waste their time attempting to impeach a democratically elected President at the end of his second term – certainly not their constituents,” a presidential spokesman said in a statement.
As the opposition in Nigeria’s lower legislative chamber briefed reporters about plans to impeach Buhari, the president met with Nigeria’s security chiefs during which they considered a new security strategy, according to Babagana Monguno, the country’s National Security Adviser.
“I know people are weary, people are tired, people are beginning to gravitate to other places for self-help,” Monguno told reporters, promising that “there will be a change in momentum” in the fight against crime. He did not share further details, but urged the media to be careful in what it reports.
The top security aide declined to speak on violent attacks in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, a worrying sign.
“We are in a very difficult situation,“ Monguno said. “Mr. President, understands people’s concerns about the growing insecurity but I can assure you that there is no straight cut and dried method of dealing with this thing unless all of us embrace each other.”
By Chinedu Asadu
Related stories: Nigeria shuts schools in Abuja over fears of attack
All schools have been told to shut and send children home amid security fears in Nigeria's capital, Abuja, and in nearby Nasarawa state.
Intelligence reports suggest armed groups are planning attacks in several states, including on the capital.
Schools, mainly in northern Nigeria, have become a target of kidnapping gangs in recent years - with hundreds of students held for ransom.
President Muhammadu Buhari is currently meeting with security chiefs.
Most private schools were in the middle of exams when they had to close on Wednesday afternoon.
An official at the association of private school owners in Abuja told the BBC that the directive to shut down had come from local authorities in the capital.
Those schools with adequate security arrangements would be allowed to hold a one-day prize giving ceremony at the end of next week, he said.
But the news has caused concern for parents in a city populated by many civil servants, who often send their children to private schools.
While some schools in Abuja had already closed for the term, the majority were not scheduled to close until next week.
He added that those with adequate security arrangements have been allowed to hold a one-day prize giving day many had been preparing for.
Abuja residents have been feeling uneasy since armed men broke into a prison in the city and released hundreds of criminals a few weeks ago.
On Sunday, at least three soldiers from an elite unit of presidential guards were killed in the Bwari district of the city.
They had been responding to threats of an imminent attack on the Nigerian Law School located in the area. Nearby Veritas University has since shut down and sent students home.
The next day, the government shut down one of its secondary schools in the Kwali suburb of Abuja after a security incident close by.
This level of insecurity in the city is unprecedented since President Buhari took office in 2015.
Security agencies have recently beefed up their security presence at strategic locations within the city centre.
But this seems to be doing little to allay fears, even amongst politicians.
This week, an MP told colleagues who were away from the city not to return for their own safety, highlighting the failures of Mr Buhari's government in dealing with widespread insecurity across the country.
On Wednesday, opposition senators gave the president a six-week ultimatum to find a solution to the security crisis or face impeachment, though they lack the numbers to do so.
Last year, there were attacks and mass abductions in at least 10 schools in Zamfara, Kaduna, Kebbi and Niger states.
By Nduka Orjinmo
Wednesday, July 27, 2022
The soaring cost of diesel is now threatening Nigeria's manufacturing sector as more and more companies shut down their operations. CGTN's Kelechi Emekalam with the details from Abuja.
Thirteen scrap-metal collectors in northeast Nigeria’s Borno state have died after a bomb they excavated blew up, security sources told AFP.
Sixteen metal scavengers from a displaced persons’ camp in Bama found the bomb while digging for scrap on Monday in the bush on the outskirts of town.
“The bomb exploded as they were pushing it in a cart toward the town, killing 13 and seriously injuring three,” Babakura Kolo, a leader in a local militia, said on Tuesday.
Kolo said the ordnance had apparently been dropped in 2015 during military operations to retake Bama from the Boko Haram armed group.
“It was dormant for seven years and buried in the sand but they managed to dig it out, not knowing it was a bomb,” said a second militia leader, Bukar Grema, who gave the same toll.
Nigeria’s military is battling to end a 13-year conflict spearheaded by armed groups like Boko Haram in the country’s northeast. It has killed more than 40,000 people and displaced 2.2 million more.
Boko Haram seized Bama in 2014 when they took over swaths of territory in northern Borno and declared a so-called caliphate.
In March 2015, Nigerian troops aided by Chadian soldiers clawed back most of the territory after months-long intensive ground and aerial operations.
Residents who had fled the town returned three years later, with many of them living in displaced camps as the town was substantially destroyed during the fighting to retake it.
Most of the displaced who live in camps rely on food handouts from aid agencies, forcing many to turn to felling trees in the arid region for firewood and scavenging for metal scraps they sell to buy food.
Armed groups have been targeting scrap collectors, accusing them of spying for troops and the militia fighting them.
Last month, fighters from the ISIL-linked Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) group killed 10 scavengers in Goni Kurmi village near Bama where they had gone looking for metal, a week after they killed 23 collectors in nearby Dikwa district.
Earlier this month, attacks that took place within minutes of each other in different parts of Nigeria, and the apparent failure of the security forces to respond to them efficiently and in a timely manner, exposed how big of a threat lawlessness and impunity currently poses to the country and its people.
Late on July 5, heavily armed men on motorcycles raided the Kuje Medium Security Custodial Centre on the outskirts of Abuja and released more than 900 inmates, including more than 60 Boko Haram members in detention. The Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) – an offshoot of Boko Haram now allied with the ISIL (ISIS) group – claimed responsibility for the attack.
Just hours before the Kuje incident, another group of heavily armed men had attacked a convoy carrying an advance security team for President Muhammadu Buhari in his home state of Katsina. A presidential spokesperson said the convoy carrying a team of security guards, as well as protocol and media officers, was on its way to Daura, Buhari’s hometown, to prepare for a visit by him when the attack took place. According to the presidency, two people in the convoy sustained minor injuries before the gunmen were repelled. On the very same day, bandits on motorcycles had also ambushed and gunned down Assistant Commissioner of Police Aminu Umar Dayi in another part of Katsina, not far from where the president’s convoy was attacked.
Nigerian security forces failed to respond effectively to all three attacks, proving yet again that they don’t have the capacity to properly defend themselves, let alone members of the public, against armed fighters.
While some of the inmates who escaped from the Kuje Custodial Centre were recaptured hours or at least days after the attack, many are still on the loose – and those who managed to slip from the grasp of the security forces appear to include some of the most battle-hardened Boko Haram fighters and bomb experts.
The authorities’ response to the attack on President Buhari’s convoy and the ambush of Assistant Commissioner Dayi and his team in Katsina was equally incompetent. Those who attacked the presidential convoy, like those who killed the assistant commissioner, were not captured but simply “repelled” meaning they got away with what they did and are still free to stage further deadly attacks. According to reports, the very same bandits who attacked Buhari’s convoy have already raided a nearby village since.
All this exposes the current state of Nigeria: A country where members of armed groups raid prisons, attack presidential convoys and brutally murder security officers with ease and impunity.
Indeed, the raiding the Kuje prison was only the latest instalment in the escalating attacks on prisons across the country. In 2021 alone, more than 5,000 inmates escaped thanks to such incidents. And “bandits” – the catchall phrase for criminal gangs masterminding frequent bouts of abduction, maiming, sexual violence and killings of citizens – have been staging bloody attacks on rural communities without much meaningful push back from security forces for at least a decade in northern parts of the country.
While the July 5 attacks represented a continuation of existing trends in many ways, they also marked a grim turning point in Nigeria’s fight against armed groups.
For ISWAP, the attack on the Kuje prison was a spectacular success, not only because it helped free several prominent members of the group, but also because it demonstrated that the group is now confident enough to stage a major assault on a supposedly highly protected prison in the capital city. Much of the group’s successes before this year were restricted to the North East, but in recent months, it has moved beyond its traditional influence zone in Borno, left imprints on Taraba, and driven westwards, gaining footholds in Niger, Kogi and even the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). After the Kuje jailbreak, it staged several other attacks on communities around Abuja. Now, there is no debating that even the most important and dearly guarded state institutions in Nigeria’s capital city are facing a very real threat from ISWAP.
The attacks on Buhari’s convoy and the deputy commissioner in Katsina state, meanwhile, clearly showed that Nigeria’s security forces are no longer able to protect themselves – let alone civilians – against bandits in certain areas of the country.
Upon independence, Nigeria inherited a deeply faulty security architecture from the British that was geared towards protecting only the political and economic elites in urban centres and leaving the rest of the population to practically fend for themselves.
Consecutive governments, especially during the military dictatorship between 1966 to 1999, failed to reform this faulty infrastructure which led to the security situation getting worse and worse in the peripheries. In recent years, the country’s economic downturn forced the security forces to further narrow the scope of their operations and put all the resources they have towards protecting the regime and its highest officials. This resulted in even the members of security forces themselves becoming overly vulnerable to attacks by “bandits” and armed groups, and perhaps most importantly, large swaths of Nigerians, especially in urban centres, starting to lose any trust they had in their country’s security forces.
The apparent collapse of Nigeria’s fragile and faulty security architecture may have immediate, and deadly, consequences for the public beyond the emboldening of bandits and armed groups. Namely, the security forces can turn on innocent civilians to protect their dignity and try to regain some respect.
Even before the failures experienced on July 5, we have witnessed some examples of this dangerous behaviour. In late June, for example, the soldiers who were sent to Yakurr in Cross River State to restore peace after a communal dispute reportedly turned their guns on the civilian population after one of their colleagues was killed in action. Local media reported that the soldiers shot at anything that moved, killed at least 10 people, and burned down several houses. Several other similar incidents have been reported in recent years.
After their failures on July 5, Nigeria’s security forces are likely feeling more incompetent and under threat than ever before. This could easily lead to many more tragedies where underfunded, underprepared and frustrated members of security forces turn their weapons on those they should be protecting, and collectively punish communities in order to regain respect, power and control.
If Nigeria is to ensure the safety of all its citizens, and effectively counter the threat posed by bandits and armed groups, the government should stop downplaying the failures of the security forces, and focus its efforts on repairing – and perhaps completely reshaping – the country’s faulty security architecture.
By Cheta Nwanze
Related stories: Jihadis Attack Jail in Nigeria's Capital, 600 Inmates Escape
Monday, July 25, 2022
There is a looming shortage of bread in Nigeria after bakers threatened to shut down operations. This is due to a shortage of raw materials and rising taxation. CGTN's Kelechi Emekalam reports from Nigeria.
Amusan broke the world record earlier on Sunday by running 12.12 in the semi-final at Hayward Field.
She recovered from a slightly slower start to put on a pristine performance over the barriers, .17 seconds clear of silver medallist Britany Anderson of Jamaica.
"The goal was to come out and to win this gold," said Amusan.
"I believe in my abilities but I was not expecting a world record at these championships. You know, the goal is always just to execute well and get the win. So the world record is a bonus."
Puerto Rico's Olympic champion Camacho-Quinn accelerated at the midway mark but lost a close battle with Anderson over the final strides after hitting the last hurdle, going home with bronze in her first World Championships.
"I got my nerves to be honest. It kind of showed on my face but I am just glad to come out here," said Camacho-Quinn.
"From this point on, it is only going to be faster ... I think we had the best event of the whole world champs."
Anderson told reporters she was pleased with her performance, despite clipping some hurdles.
"I feel like everyone is so excited now," she said. "I came out here to do what I had to do and I did it."
The final was without 2019 champion Nia Ali and medal contender Alaysha Johnson, both of the United States, after they hit hurdles and crashed out in the opening round. read more
The United States' Olympic silver medallist Kendra Harrison, whose 2016 record Amusan broke in the semi-final, was disqualified.
Amusan’s world record in the semi-final stunned the athletics world.
“Wow” tweeted sprint king Usain Bolt, while 200m champion Noah Lyles tweeted: "Are you kidding me?"
Amusan said she was shocked to have produced the record in the semi-final but knew she had it in her.
"I could not believe it when I saw it on the screen after the semis. But it was just a matter of time," she told reporters.
Monday, July 18, 2022
Title holders and record winners, the Super Falcons of Nigeria will take on hosts Morocco in the semi-final of the Women's Africa Cup of Nations after they defeated the Indomitable Lionesses of Cameroon 1-0 in the quarter-finals. Striker Rasheedat Aji-bade scored the winner in the 57th minute for the victory that also automatically qualified Nigeria for a ninth FIFA Women's World Cup, next year.
The top executives of a United States-based fintech company, Ping Express have been sentenced to 27 months imprisonment for breaching money laundering rules.
The fintech executives who are Nigerians with the names Anslem Oshionebo and Opeyemi Odeyale pleaded guilty to contravening money laundering rules after sending $167 million to Africa unchecked in less than three years.
While Oshionebo is the chief executive officer, oyedale is chief operating officer and both are suspected to have laundered $160 million out the to Nigeria.
This was revealed by the US Department of Justice at the weekend as it added that the Ping Express failed to seek sufficient details about the sources or motives of the funds involved in the transactions, or the customers initiating the transmissions.
It also said part of the money sent to Nigeria was also suspected to be proceeds of internet fraud.
It went further to state that the company’s Information Technology/Business Development Manager, Aleoghena Okhumale, was said to have also pleaded guilty to knowingly transmitting illegally-derived funds.
Both Oshionebo and Oyedale were sentenced to 27 months in federal prison, but Okhumale bagged a prison sentence of 42 months.
Ping Express also admitted that it conducted money transmission business in states in which it was not licensed to do so, including Nevada, New Jersey, Utah, West Virginia, and Connecticut.
In addition, according to DOJ, one Collins Orogun admitted last week that he accepted a fee in exchange for transferring money for ‘romance scam’ fraudsters and other criminals.
In one instance, an Indiana woman sent $15,000 to ‘Carson Jacks’, a purported oil roughneck in the Gulf of Mexico she fell in love with online, after he told her he’d contracted malaria.
In another, a second Indiana woman sent $6,300 to ‘Thomas Ken,” a purported Irish ship captain she fell in love with online, to fix his ship.
In two years, Orogun received more than $1.3 million in cash, cashier’s checks, and wires into several US bank accounts he controlled and then quickly moved more than $1 million of the funds to Africa through Ping Express.
“He faces up to 20 years in federal prison and is set to be sentenced on Jan. 23, 2023,” the statement said.
Ping Express, the company, now faces five years of probation and a fine of up to $500,000. Sentencing has been set for December 19, 2022.
Monday, July 11, 2022
The MP for Saffron Walden said she supported lower taxes “to boost growth and productivity, and accompanied by tight spending discipline.”
Writing in The Times, she also hit out at “identity politics” and said Boris Johnson was “a symptom of the problems we face, not the cause of them.
“People are exhausted by platitudes and empty rhetoric. Loving our country, our people or our party is not enough,” she said.
“What’s missing is an intellectual grasp of what is required to run the country in an era of increased polarization, protectionism and populism amplified by social media.”
She said governing Britain today requires “a nimble centre-right vision” that “can achieve things despite entrenched opposition from a cultural establishment that will not accept that the world has moved on from Blairism.”
Badenoch’s declaration capped off a day that saw many Tories declaring allegiances in the leadership race.
Rishi Sunak declared his much-anticipated intention to run, enjoying public backing from Commons Leader Mark Spencer, former Tory Party co-chairman Oliver Dowden, former chief whip Mark Harper, ex-ministers Liam Fox and Andrew Murrison, and MPs Sir Bob Neill and Paul Maynard.
Kemi Badenoch’s recollection of her childhood in Nigeria brings tears to her eyes. It is only five months since the death of her father, Femi Adegoke, from a brain tumour.
Little could he have imagined that within three years of entering the government ranks, his daughter would be launching a bid to replace Boris Johnson as Prime Minister.
But Badenoch said her father instilled in her a sense of “personal responsibility”. Last week, she quit the government to help force Johnson’s resignation.
In an interview with The Telegraph, she has now set out her reasons for launching a bid to lead the Conservatives. In short, she believes the government has lost its way.
“I think that we have accepted a consensus that is not right – that the Government should get involved in everything and do everything,” she said.
But Badenoch, who quit as equalities and local government minister in a joint move with four friends and colleagues last week, believed that the government is “doing many things badly and doing things in the wrong way.”
Nigeria's presidential frontrunner Bola Tinubu on Sunday picked as his running mate a sitting Muslim senator and former governor of northeastern Borno state, the heartland of an Islamist insurgency that has killed and displaced thousands of people.
The move by Tinubu, who is also Muslim, breaks with past practice where presidential candidates from major political parties have chosen running mates from a different religion in a bid to foster unity in the country.
Tinubu, 70, was last month elected as the ruling All Progressives Congress party's candidate to succeed incumbent Muhammadu Buhari, who will step down next year after completing two terms.
A Yoruba Muslim from southwestern Nigeria, Tinubu told reporters after meeting Buhari in northern Katsina state that he had chosen Kashim Shettima, 55, to be his presidential running mate.
By picking Shettima, Tinubu may also be looking for a deputy broadly acceptable to powerbrokers in the north, which is a large voting block.
"He is competent, capable, reliable and able," Tinubu said.
Atiku Abubakar, the main opposition candidate and Tinubu's main rival, is a northern Muslim who has picked a Christian running mate from the south.
Since the end of military rule in 1999, Nigeria has followed an unwritten rule where power is shared between the largely Muslim north and mainly Christian south.
Growing insecurity will be a major election issue next year. A decade-long Islamist insurgency and attacks and kidnappings for ransom by armed gangs mostly in the northwest are some of the major security challenges.
During Shettima's 2011-2019 governorship, Borno state grabbed global headlines when Boko Haram militants abducted more than 200 schoolgirls in Chibok community in April 2014.
Shettima was among those who supported the release of low-risk detainees caught up in the government's fight against insurgents, as a good-will gesture.
By MacDonald Dzirutwe
Friday, July 8, 2022
Nigeria's security forces on Thursday recaptured 27 inmates who fled from a prison in the capital in Abuja following an attack claimed by Islamic State, the correctional service said.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for Tuesday's raid on the Kuje prison, which freed around 440 inmates, among them Islamist militants, raising fears that insurgents are venturing from their enclaves in the northeast.
Three of the attackers were killed in the encounter while several others escaped with bullet wounds, a Nigerian Correctional Service spokesperson said in a statement.
The prison attack has raised questions on the security of Nigeria's correctional facilities, especially those holding suspected militants.
Related story: Jihadis Attack Jail in Nigeria's Capital, 600 Inmates Escape
Wednesday, July 6, 2022
At least 600 inmates escaped in a jailbreak in Nigeria's capital city, officials said Wednesday, blaming the attack on Islamic extremist rebels.
About 300 have been recaptured, authorities said.
The “very determined” rebels attacked the Kuje maximum prison in Abuja on Tuesday night with “very high-grade explosives,” killing one guard on duty, according to Shuaib Belgore, permanent secretary of Nigeria's Ministry of Interior.
Explosions and gunfire were heard at about 10 p.m. in the Kuje area of Abuja when the attackers arrived and forced their way into the prison through a hole created by the explosives.
The Islamic extremist rebels who attacked the prison have waged an insurgency in the country’s northeast for over a decade. Their attack on the detention facility freed many of their members who are inmates, prison officials said.
“We understand they are Boko Haram. They came specifically for their co-conspirators,” said Belgore. “Right now, we have retrieved about 300 out of about 600 that got out of the jail."
Nigeria's jihadi rebels have carried out several jailbreaks in the country's northeast in recent years, but this is the first in the capital city.
Nigeria's extremist insurgency, carried out by Boko Haram and an offshoot known as the Islamic State Central African Province, is blamed for violence that has caused the deaths of more than 35,000 people and displaced more than 2 million people, according to the U.N. The prolonged instability, hunger and lack of health services caused by the insurgency have indirectly caused the deaths of more than 300,000 additional people, says the U.N.
The extremists' violence is the most serious security challenge in Nigeria, Africa's most populous country with 206 million people, which also is battling violence in the northwest area by rebellious herdsmen and a separatist movement in the country's south.
By Chinedu Asadu
Barkindo, 63, a veteran of the oil industry, was due to step down at the end of this month after six years in the top job at the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
"We lost our esteemed Dr Muhammad Sanusi Barkindo," NNPC CEO Mele Kyari wrote on Twitter, adding that he died late on Tuesday.
The death is a "great loss to his immediate family, the NNPC, our country Nigeria, the OPEC and the global energy community," Kyari added.
Kyari said Barkindo died hours after meeting Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and giving the main speech at an energy summit in Abuja.
His tenure as the head of OPEC has been marked by global shocks that have battered the industry.
During his keynote speech in Abuja hours before his death, Barkindo said the oil and gas industry is "under siege" and still reeling from the enormous investment losses of recent years.
"In a very short timespan, the industry has been hit by two major cycles – the severe market downturn in 2015 and 2016, and the even more far-reaching impact of the COVID-19 pandemic," Barkindo said.
Barkindo's career in the oil industry began in Nigeria in the early 1980s. He served in various capacities at the NNPC and represented Nigeria on OPEC's Economic Commission Board.
He was acting OPEC secretary general in 2006 before returning to the position 10 years later and has led the organisation through a turbulent oil market period including steering it towards greater cooperation with non-OPEC oil producers.
"Serving as Secretary General of OPEC for two terms has been the honour of a lifetime. Over the past six years, we have witnessed both challenging and historic moments, which have underscored time and again the importance of cooperation and teamwork," Barkindo said in his keynote speech on Tuesday.
Diamantino Azevedo, oil minister for OPEC member Angola, told Reuters that Barkindo was always striving to seek consensus for the good of the organisation.
After leaving OPEC, Barkindo was due to join U.S. think tank the Atlantic Council's Global Energy Center as a distinguished fellow, the Council recently announced.
"This tragedy is a shock to the OPEC Family. We express our sorrow and deep gratitude for the over 40 years of selfless service that Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo gave to OPEC. His dedication and leadership will inspire OPEC for many years to come," the OPEC Secretariat said in a Tweet.
Tuesday, July 5, 2022
Waste management is still one of the biggest concerns in Nigeria. Ifedolapo Runsewe, a banker turned recycler started the Free recycling company and has already recycled nearly 100,000 tyres into eco-friendly interlocking pavers, tiles, and other rubber products.
The suspect, identified as James Junior Aliyu was arrested at an upmarket estate in Sandton, Johannesburg, after a takedown operation.
Members from the Interpol National Crime Bureau (NCB) in Pretoria with assistance from members of the SAPS Gauteng Highway Patrol Unit raided the upmarket estate at 10:00 on Wednesday, 29 June 2022, where they effected the arrest.
His arrest follows a widespread investigation involving law enforcement authorities from South Africa (SA) and the United States of America (USA).
Confirming his arrest, INTERPOL on its verified Twitter page wrote: ” Last week @SAPoliceService detained a suspected Nigerian cybercriminal allegedly involved in phishing, Internet scamming and MoneyLaundering INTERPOL’s newly-launched Financial Crime centre IFCACC is already following up on intelligence received during the arrest.”
Aliyu is accused of swindling dozens of US citizens millions in USD through email and text messages.
It was reported that Authorities in the USA, where the investigation originated have applied for his extradition.
The suspect’s case will be heard at the Randburg Magistrates’ Court on 05 July 2022.
By Fikayo Olowolagba
Related stories: Video - The Fall of the World's Flashiest Scammer Hushpuppi