Wednesday, November 30, 2022

2 Stowaways from Nigeria on Ship's rudder to be deported from Spain

Two of three stowaways who were rescued in Spain's Canary Islands after enduring 11 days on the rudder of a fuel tanker from Nigeria have been returned to the ship with the aim of deporting them.

The third person, who suffered hypothermia and dehydration during the voyage, has not yet been released from hospital on Gran Canaria, a local government spokesperson said. Under Spanish law, any stowaway who does not seek asylum must be returned by the operator of the ship to the port where the journey originated, a police spokesman told Reuters.

In a photograph on Twitter by the Spanish coast guard on Monday, the three stowaways are shown hunkered on the rudder under the hull, just above the waterline of the Alithini II.

The 183-metre ship, sailing under a Maltese flag, arrived in Las Palmas in Gran Canaria after setting out from Lagos in Nigeria on Nov. 17 and navigating up the West African coast, according to Marine Traffic.

The ship's captain confirmed to the Red Cross that it had sailed from Nigeria 11 days earlier.

A Canary Islands police spokesperson said it was up to the ship's operator to take care of the stowaways, provide them with temporary accommodation and return them to their origin as soon as possible.

The migrants should, at the least, have been informed of their right to ask for political asylum and should have been questioned before being returned to the ship, said Helena Maleno, director of the migration non-governmental organisation, Walking Borders. "The conditions of the journey are already an indication that something very serious may be behind it because the photos are incredible. We have never seen conditions like this where they have arrived alive," Maleno said.

She added: "These people have to be in a state of shock. They need a couple of days to recover and from there they can explain what they were running from to have made that decision."

Alithini II, owned by Gardenia Shiptrade SA, is managed by Athens-based Astra Ship Management, according to public shipping database Equasis.

Astra Ship Management did not respond to multiple calls from Reuters seeking comment. The Spanish government's representative on the Canary Islands didn't immediately respond to a query on whether the migrants should have been informed of their rights.

The coast guard said the migrants were rescued by a coast guard vessel at about 7 p.m. local time (1900 GMT) on Monday.

The stowaways were treated for moderate dehydration and hypothermia, the Canary Islands emergency services and the Red Cross said. The third migrant, who was in a more serious state, had to be taken to a different hospital on the island.

The Spanish-owned Canary Islands are a popular but dangerous gateway for African migrants attempting to reach Europe. Since 2014, 2,976 migrants have died or are missing after attempting to cross from Africa to the archipelago by sea, according to the International Organization for Migration.

Reuters, by Emma Pinedo

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Video - UK returns stolen Benin Bronzes to Nigeria

A London museum is returning its collection of 72 Benin artefacts - the first institution in the UK to do so on such a scale. British soldiers stole thousands of artefacts in the late 19th century from the Kingdom of Benin, which is now in Nigeria. In recent years, museums in Germany, France and the US have repatriated artefacts looted during colonial wars.

Al Jazeera 

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Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Nine hostages rescued in northern Nigeria

Nigerian troops have rescued nine people who were being held hostage by bandits in north Nigeria's Kaduna state, an official said Monday.

The rescue mission was carried out by Nigerian troops during a raid on a bandit camp in the Chikun area of the state on Monday, said Samuel Aruwan, the commissioner for internal security and home affairs in the state, in a brief statement.

Aruwan said all the rescued were safe and would be examined further before being reunited with their families.

"The bandits left their camp and ran into the forest after a fire exchange with the troops," he said.

There have been a number of gunmen attacks in Nigeria in recent months, resulting in deaths and kidnappings. 


Related story: Pirates in Nigeria Switch From Kidnapping Seafarer to Stealing Oil


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

Human rights groups have called for the release of a student who has been arrested for allegedly insulting Nigeria’s first lady, Aisha Buhari, in a tweet.

Aminu Adamu Muhammed was arrested on the 8th of November after reportedly tweeting in June that Buhari had gotten “fatter by eating the masses’ money.” The 23-year-old was picked up on the campus of the Federal University Dutse in the northern state of Jigawa. It is not clear what specific charges, if any, Aminu is being held under.

“Amnesty International strongly condemns the arrest of #Aminu,” Amnesty International tweeted. “His family and friends alleged that he was held incommunicado and subjected to severe beating, torture and other forms of ill-treatment. Since his arrest neither his family nor his lawyers have had access to him.”

“The Buhari administration must immediately and unconditionally release Aminu Muhammad,” SERAP, a nonprofit legal advocacy group said. “We'll see in court if he's not immediately released.

Aisha Buhari – who regularly faces criticism for appearing to live in Dubai despite her position as first lady – rarely makes public appearances but has been known to occasionally openly criticise members of her husband’s administration.

Aminu’s arrest comes just days after two TikTok creators in Nigeria were sentenced to be flogged for mocking a prominent politician. Mubarak Muhammad and Nazifi Muhammad published a skit criticising Abdullahi Ganduje, the governor of the northern state of Kano.

The pair were also ordered to pay a fine of ​​10,000 naira (around £17, $23) and clean the court premises for 30 days. 

Vice, by Dipo Faloyin

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3 Stowaways Travel from Nigeria to Canary Islands on Ship's rudder for 11 days










Three stowaways travelling for 11 days on a ship’s rudder were rescued by the Spanish coastguard and hospitalised in the Canary Islands, Spanish authorities have said.

The large ship had departed from Lagos, Nigeria on November 17, according to ship-tracking website Marine Traffic, and the men were rescued on Monday.

Found on the Alithini II oil tanker at the Las Palmas port, the men appeared to have symptoms of dehydration and hypothermia and were transferred to hospitals on the island for medical attention, Spain’s Salvamento Marítimo said.

Throughout the journey, at least three migrants and refugees had been hanging onto the narrow metallic rudder, with their feet dangling just a few feet above the Atlantic Ocean.

In a photograph Spain’s coastguard distributed on Twitter on Monday, the three men are seen perched on the rudder of the oil tanker.

The coastguard said they rescued the stowaways after the tanker had docked.

Though extremely dangerous, it is not the first time stowaways have been found travelling on the rudder of commercial ships to the Canary Islands, which is located around 97km (60 miles) off the coast of Morocco.

In late 2020, Spanish authorities identified six others travelling from Nigeria on the rudders of two tankers.

One of those who arrived in 2020 was a 14-year-old boy who narrated his harrowing two-week journey to the Spanish daily El Pais.

He described how the stowaways had to take turns sleeping because there was enough space for only one person to lie down at a time; how there was a fight and he was nearly thrown off the rudder; how they got cold and wet and it would take hours to dry off; how his urine turned green after drinking seawater.

In a tweet, migration adviser to the Canary Islands, Txema Santana, warned that the most recent arrivals “won’t be the last” and that “stowaways don’t always have the same luck”.

The migration route from West Africa to Spain’s Canary Islands is one of the most dangerous in the world.

In September, Santana estimated that about 1,000 migrants and refugees had died or disappeared trying to reach the Spanish archipelago this year.

As of November 15, nearly 15,000 migrants and refugees have made it to the Canary Islands by sea this year, down 18 percent from the same time in 2021, according to Spain’s Interior Ministry. Most make the long journey from West Africa on small rafts, a growing number of which are inflatable.

Al Jazeera

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Friday, November 25, 2022

Pirates in Nigeria Switch From Kidnapping Seafarer to Stealing Oil

The Gulf of Guinea is witnessing a shift in the dynamics of piracy, with criminal networks moving away from targeting commercial maritime and switching to oil bunkering, theft and illegal fishing, a development that indicates the global community must remain vigilant.

The UN Security Council (UNSC) has been informed that despite a significant drop in piracy incidents in the Gulf of Guinea in recent times, stronger action is still required to address the changing dynamics of piracy in the vast waters. Criminal groups have not gone away, but have transitioned to other activities.

Martha Pobee, an Assistant Secretary-General in the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs in the UN who presented the Secretary-General’s latest report on piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, warned that the shifting dynamics will require greater response not only from countries in the region but also from international partners.

“Pirate groups are adapting to changing dynamics both at sea and in coastal areas. In this respect, the recent decrease in instances of piracy may in part be attributable to the shift by criminal networks to other forms of maritime and riverine crime, such as oil bunkering and theft, which they likely view as both less risky and more profitable,” she said.

Nigeria has witnessed an unprecedented surge in large scale cases of oil theft and pipeline vandalism, whose impacts have been crippling of the country’s oil industry, with production in the months of August and September plummeting below one million barrels per day (bpd), the lowest levels in decades. An investigation by the country's senate reckons the widespread cases of thefts have resulted in Nigeria losing more than $2 billion during the first eight months of this year.

Once a hotspot of maritime piracy, the Gulf of Guinea has recorded a drastic decline in incidents due to concerted efforts by national authorities supported by regional and international partners, both on land and at sea. Actions such as increased patrols, deployment of naval assets, enhanced coordination as well as convictions have served as deterrents to criminal networks.

In a quarterly report released last month, the International Maritime Bureau contends that although global piracy and armed robbery incidents have reached their lowest levels since 1992, the world cannot afford to be complacent, particularly in the Gulf of Guinea. Of the 90 incidents reported in the first nine months of 2022, 13 were in the Gulf of Guinea region compared to 27 over the same period of 2021.

In her report to the UNSC, Pobee reports that due to the changing dynamics of criminal activities in the Gulf of Guinea, it is imperative for states and their regional and international partners to accelerate efforts to establish security in the region as outlined in the Yaoundé Code of Conduct, signed in June 2013.

The code, which is approaching its 10th anniversary, promotes information sharing and reporting, interdicting suspicious vessels, ensuring apprehension and prosecution, harmonizing national legislation, guaranteeing resources to maritime security and safety, and outlining state responsibility to patrol anchorage areas.

Part of recent measures to wage a coordinated war against the piracy networks include the signing of an agreement to establish a Multinational Maritime Coordination Centre for a zone covering Cabo Verde, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Mali and Senegal and conducting a maritime exercise involving 17 of the 19 countries bordering the Gulf of Guinea.

The Maritime Executive

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Thursday, November 24, 2022

Syinix launches swallow-maker into Nigeria market

Syinix Electronics, the global smart home appliance brand has announced the launch of its first entry point appliance, Syinix Swallow Maker, to help in the preparation of swallow foods and solve the difficulties of making swallow foods such as fufu, amala, pounded yam, semovita, semolina, and wheat, amongst others for Nigerians.

The innovative Swallow Maker is designed to replace the usually tedious and time-consuming old ways of preparing swallow foods with a fully automated machine that requires minimal human effort.

Fulfilling its promise of a comfortable” and “relieved” life experience, Syinix developed the swallow maker for families to truly live a quality life and prepare their swallow foods with the speed of time and still enjoy their meals.

Speaking about the product launch, Justin Liu, Chief Operating Officer, Syinix Nigeria, noted that the swallow maker is the first all-purpose automated swallow food maker in the world.

“The Syinix Swallow Maker is here to save your time and energy; the machine encourages creative cooking and users can try a combination of ingredients and recipes with no health implications to consumers,” he stated

Continuing, he said, “Syinix is a high-end home appliance brand with spread to more than 20 countries in Africa and its features of high quality and innovation are becoming increasingly competitive and promising in the African market in recent years”.

“Our brand’s vision is to provide African families with reliable products that seek to improve their value of life. It’s in the bid for continuous improvement that the Syinix Swallow Maker was birthed to keep improving the customers’ lifestyles and putting smiles on their faces through the creation of innovative home appliances with superior quality products, Liu said.

Ease the swallow-making experience with varieties

Syinix Swallow Maker is an all-purpose latest development by Syinix for Nigerians to ease the stress of making swallow foods. It offers speedy preparation and reduces the time spent in the kitchen with a smarter and cleaner experience—alongside useful features which include an automatic intricate food processor that saves time and energy.

The all-purpose Swallow Maker supports the making of varieties of most of Nigeria’s common solid foods such as eba, amala, pounded yam, semovita/semolina, wheat, fufu, etc. Beyond that, you can also be creative with other dishes of your choice using this machine and still have more time and energy to do other things while waiting for the meal.

Efficient and stable operating system with a large capacity design

It is equipped with a top cover power system, motor, and gearbox for machine operation, transmission power; knob timing button, etc. to control the production time with stainless steel stirring knife set to ensure that every time the ingredients are fully stirred and smooth, delicate and soft without any sense of grain or lumps.

It comes with a base heating plate that fills the whole pot with heat to cook the food and it has a large capacity designed to cater to 4-5 families at a go.

Easy to clean with a better Interactive Experience

Built with a simple interior for easy separation after use; the Syinix Swallow maker is stylishly designed for easy cleaning with non-stick coating which makes for convenient cleaning.

The transparent view window on the lid enables visualization while the exhaust valve is designed to allow automatic evaporation of food vapor to ensure the smooth release of ingredients from the machine while users can see the ingredients mixing process till it is ready to serve.

Market availability

Syinix Swallow Maker is available in Syinix official store at and in any SPAR mall or Cash N carry outlets.

The Guardian

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New bank note launched in Nigeria to help curb corruption

Nigeria has launched newly designed currency notes, a move that the West African nation’s central bank says will help curb inflation and money laundering.

Experts, however, are sceptical about such results in a country that has battled chronic corruption for decades, with government officials known to loot public funds causing more hardship for the many struggling with poverty.

Launched on Wednesday, the new denominations of 200 ($0.46), 500 ($1.15) and 1,000 naira ($2.30) are the first time Nigeria’s currency has been redesigned in 19 years. The banknotes will be in circulation by mid-December.

The naira is “long overdue for a new look,” Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said at the launch. The new paper notes designed in Nigeria and featuring enhanced security “will help the central bank to design and implement better monetary policy objectives”.

More than 80 percent of the 3.2 trillion naira ($7.2bn) in circulation in Nigeria are outside the vaults of commercial banks and in private hands, said Godwin Emefiele, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

With inflation at a 17-year high of 21.09 percent that is driven by soaring food prices, he said the new notes “will bring the hoarded currencies back into the banking system” and help the central bank regain control of the money being used in the country.

Regulators last month announced a January 31 deadline for old notes to either be used or deposited at banks.

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

Analysts, however, say the new notes would yield little or no results in managing inflation or in the fight against corruption in the absence of institutional reforms.

“If you want to curb money laundering, your financial system needs to be better; if you want to curb ransom payment, security needs to be better; if you want to curb inflation, the level at which the total money supply in the economy is growing has to slow down — so it is not about cash,” said Adedayo Bakare, an analyst with Lagos-based Money Africa.

The newly designed denominations would also drive financial inclusion and economic growth, the central bank chief said.

But Bakare said the move by Nigeria’s central bank is at best an “expensive process that will cost the public a lot of pain because of the short period” required to either use or deposit cash in circulation.

At least 133 million people, or 63 percent of Nigeria’s citizens, are multidimensionally poor, according to government statistics.

“It could potentially slow down the economy if people do not have cash and people cannot exchange their cash for new notes at a fast pace,” he said. “You can’t phase out cash without fixing financial inclusion or electronic payment and even at that.”


Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Nigerians with expired passports now allowed to travel back to Nigeria

The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) on Tuesday said that Nigerians in diaspora with expired passport would no longer require visas to visit home.

The Service, however, stated that they must show their expired Nigeria’s passport to ensure they were truly from Nigeria.

Mr Tony Akuneme, the NIS Public Relations Officer, disclosed this in an interview with Newsmen in Abuja.

Akuneme was reacting to inquiries about the new visa policy of the Federal Government which said that Nigerians with dual citizenship don’t need visa to visit home.

“The statu of the new policy is that Nigerians with dual citizenship are free to come to Nigeria but with their Nigeria passport even if it’s expired.

“You have to show that you are a Nigerian, that is why we say they can come with their expired passport. Dual citizenship means carrying two passports.

“Unlike before that when your passport is expired you will not be allowed to come to the country, now we can allow them to travel in with their expired Nigeria passport”, he said.

Akuneme further explained that although the essence was to allow them return home, they will be required to renew the passport before returning to their destinations.

“The whole essence is that when they arrive, they must renew their Nigeria passport before going back,” the NIS spokesman added. 


Oil drilling starts in Nigeria by government ownded company

Nigeria's state-owned NNPC Ltd on Tuesday started drilling for oil and gas at a field in northern Nigeria that has reserves of 1 billion barrels, as the country seeks to produce crude outside the Niger Delta for the first time.

NNPC said in a statement that phase one of the Kolmani project in the northeast would have an oil refinery, gas processing unit, 300-megawatt power plant and fertilizer plant producing 2,500 tonnes a day.

NNPC Ltd first announced in 2019 the discovery of crude oil, gas and condensate in commercial quantity in the Kolmani area between Bauchi and Gombe states in northeastern Nigeria, a region that is battling an Islamist insurgency.

President Muhammadu Buhari said Kolmani had 1 billion barrels of oil reserves and 500 billion cubic feet of gas.

No oil major is involved in the project being developed by NNPC, local firm Sterling Global Oil and New Nigeria Development Commission, a conglomerate owned by 19 northern states.

"It is therefore to the credit of this administration that at a time when there is near zero appetite for investment in fossil energy, coupled with the location challenges, we are able attract investment of over $3 billion to this project," Buhari said at a ceremony to start the oil project.

Nigeria has for years been searching for oil in frontier basins in the largely poor north of the country, including the Lake Chad Basin, the heartland of the Islamist insurgency.

Buhari urged NNPC and its partners to work with local communities and draw lessons from the restive Niger Delta, where militants have in the past blown up pipelines, accusing oil companies of neglecting locals.

Oil was first discovered in the Niger Delta more than six decades ago.

Oil majors in Nigeria are divesting from onshore to focus on offshore drilling due to increasing insecurity and oil theft, which have led to a decline in production and caused Nigeria to lose its status as Africa's top oil producer.

Reuters, by Felix Onuah

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Monday, November 21, 2022

Gunmen abduct more than 100 in Nigeria's Zamfara state

More than 100 people, including women and children were abducted when gunmen raided four villages in Nigeria's northeastern Zamfara state on Sunday, the information commissioner and residents said on Monday.

Kidnapping has become endemic in northwest Nigeria as roving gangs of armed men abduct people from villages, highways and farms and demand ransom money from their relatives.

More than 40 people were abducted from Kanwa village in Zurmi local government area of Zamfara, Zamfara information commissioner Ibrahim Dosara and one local resident said.

Another 37, mostly women and children were taken in Kwabre community in the same local government area, the resident added, declining to be named for security reasons.

"Right now Kanwa village is deserted, the bandits divided themselves into two groups and attacked the community. They kidnapped children aged between 14 to 16 years and women," the Kanwa village resident said.

In Yankaba and Gidan Goga communities of Maradun Local government area, at least 38 people were kidnapped while working on their farms, residents said.

Information commissioner Dosara accused the gunmen of using abductees as human shields against air raids from the military.

Reuters, by Garba Muhammad

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Friday, November 18, 2022

Portugal Beat Nigeria 4-0 in International Friendly

Bruno Fernandes scored twice in the first half and debutant Goncalo Ramos and Joao Mario added late goals as Portugal crushed Nigeria 4-0 in a World Cup warm-up in Lisbon on Thursday.

Missing Cristiano Ronaldo due to a stomach bug, his Manchester United team mate Fernandes led a strong Portugal side in their last match before travelling to Doha on Friday.

The only surprise was the debut of 19-year-old Benfica defender Antonio Silva, who started ahead of Pepe as the veteran works his way back from a long injury layoff.

Roared on by a sold-out Alvalade stadium, Fernandes seized the first chance he had in the ninth minute when Joao Felix found Diogo Dalot and he teed up Fernandes to tap into an empty net.

Portugal doubled their lead through Fernandes from the penalty spot in the 35th minute after a Bernardo Silva cross struck the hand of defender Bright Osayi-Samuel.

Fernandes calmly converted the spot-kick to complete only the third brace for Portugal.

"The perfection didn't exist or at least it is very hard to accomplish, but we made a great game, dominating every level," Fernandes told Sport TV.

"It was a win that give us great confidence ahead of our debut against Ghana.

"We are a team, it is not about individuals and we have a great group, young players that are up and coming and hungry. We are ready to the World Cup."

Coach Fernando Santos made six substitutions in the second half and Ramos scored Portugal's third immediately after Portugal goalkeeper saved a penalty from Emmanuel Dennis after the VAR spotted Dalot's foul in the 81st minute.

Ramos took a short pass from Raphael Guerreiro in his stride and unleashed a powerful shot low into the middle of the goal.

Joao Mario closed out the victory with a strike into the bottom corner to the delight of around 45,000 fans in the stadium.

Portugal are in World Cup Group H with Ghana, Uruguay and South Korea.

Reuters, by Fernando Kallas

Nigeria artist creates art with oil kegs in effort to reduce waste

Growing up, Nigerian artist Oluwajuwonlo Adeyemi saw her mother discard large plastic kegs of cooking oil she used for her catering business in Lagos.

Distraught at the thought of adding waste to sprawling dumpsites in a city where only a small fraction of rubbish is recycled, Adeyemi turned them into faces that have become a trademark of the artwork.

She cuts off the top of the keg and paints it, using the handle as a long nose and the round screw-top opening as a mouth.

The colourful masks then become the heads of the protagonists in her paintings, on which she uses materials such as fabric and string to add texture and dimensions.

"Instead of me just painting the face, I wanted something that I can feel, something that can look real... that will look real to others," Adeyemi told Reuters in her studio.

The 20-year-old marketing student has exhibited twice in Lagos. Some of her pieces have sold for over $1000, she said.

Through her work, Adeyemi also hopes drawing attention to her mother's discarded oil kegs will raise awareness about waste reduction.

"Whenever she is throwing them away, it affects us and it pollutes our environment," she said, noting that re-using the kegs was a way of "stopping the pollution".

Reuters, by Seun Sanni

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Wednesday, November 16, 2022

26 men charged in suspected crude theft from oil tanker

A Nigerian court has charged 26 men with conspiracy to commit a maritime offence and attempting to illegally deal in crude oil after authorities accused their supertanker of sailing in Nigerian waters without authority.

The captain is an Indian national while the crew members are from Poland, India, Sri-Lanka and Pakistan, court papers showed.

At the request of Nigerian authorities, Equatorial Guinea detained the Heroic Idun, a vessel capable of carrying 2 million barrels of oil, on Aug. 17 for sailing without an identifying flag, fleeing from the Nigerian navy and sailing in Equatorial Guinean waters without prior authorization.

The 26 men, including the captain, appeared in a High Court in the Nigerian Rivers state capital Port Harcourt on Monday and Tuesday and the judge ordered them to be detained on their ship under the guard of the Nigerian navy.

The men, who all denied the charges, were accused of having "attempted to deal with crude oil within the Nigeria Exclusive Economic zone without lawful authority".

Nigeria said the vessel had not loaded any oil before the navy approached it, but said the ship made a false claim of a piracy attack, entered a restricted area without authorization and attempted to load crude oil illegally.

Oil theft has taken more than 400,000 barrels per day from Nigeria's oil output, hit state finances and knocked it from Africa's top exporter to number two, the state oil firm says.

Reuters, by Tife Owolabi

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Police investigate Killing of Traditional Monarch in Southeast Nigeria

Police in Nigeria’s southeast Imo state are investigating after gunmen allegedly from the separatist group the Indigenous People of Biafara (IPOB), shot and killed a traditional ruler and three others. The group has previously denied responsibility for a series of attacks in the region that authorities blame on the rebels. The killings Monday came as a court in the capital dismissed terrorism charges against the separatist group’s leader.

Imo state police said in a statement that gunmen disguised as locals in distress invaded the palace in the Oguta local government area around noon Monday, shooting and killing the monarch.

The gunmen also killed two of his aides and a local vigilante member near the palace.

On Tuesday, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari condemned the murder of the traditional ruler and called on police to investigate.

Imo state police spokesperson Michael Abattam told VOA by phone they're already heeding the president's call.

"We're investigating already and we have clues," Abattam said.

Abattam could not provide further details.

IPOB has repeatedly denied involvement in a surge of violent attacks in southeastern Nigeria over the past two years.

Between May and October of last year, authorities said at least 175 people, including military, police and local civilians were killed in attacks in the region.

Imo state is a strong base of support for the Biafran separatist movement, which began decades ago. The movement is now led by 54-year-old Nnamdi Kanu, who is facing trial for acts of terrorism and treason against the Nigerian state.

Kanu’s legal counsel, Ifeanyi Ejiofo, says authorities are trying hard to implicate the separatist movement.

He said it's a conspiracy by the government of the day and security agents to blackmail IPOB before the international community. He noted that IPOB has issued several publications distancing itself from those committing crimes. These are serious offenses, these people should be hunted and treated like criminals, he said, but they're not IPOB members, they're not Kanu’s followers.

Experts warn violence in the southeast could increase around elections next year, after unidentified gunmen issued warnings on social media for people not to vote.

Meanwhile, on Monday, an Abuja high court adjourned Kanu's terrorism trial indefinitely.

Last month, a three-judge appeals court panel in the capital held that Nigerian authorities breached local and international treaties to unlawfully arrest and detain Kanu and annulled terrorism charges against the separatist leader.

Nigerian authorities are challenging the ruling and have yet to free the separatist.

VOA, by Timothy Obiezu

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Video - Firm in Nigeria provides health care in exchange for collected waste

Only 3% of the Nigerian population have access to health insurance, and a majority of them are government workers covered under the National Health Insurance system. To bridge the gap, Soso Care, a Nigeria-based health firm is offering health insurance in exchange for collected waste.


Family planning remains contentious in Nigeria as overpopulation hitting the poorest

Nigeria is the most populated country in Africa and the largest black demographic in the world. If current trends continue, the country is projected to become the third most populous nation in the world by 2050.

It is 6am and Lagos is alive as city pavements buzz with commuters preparing to pack into bright yellow Danfo minibuses.

Roadside sellers push their stock as traffic slowly builds. The financial capital of Nigeria - the continent's largest economy - never takes a break.

In just a few decades, this small coastal town has transformed into a sprawling metropolis and is now the most populous city in Africa. A thriving symbol of the world's population spilling over the eight billion mark.

With more than 15 million people living here, Lagos is double the size of the next biggest African megacities Kinshasa and Cairo.

The city is constantly growing as economic migrants flock to the hub from across Nigeria and the region.

Property developers are scrambling to capitalise on the influx. Skyscrapers are cropping up all over the wealthy residential areas of Ikoyi, Lekki and Victoria Island, as the infrastructure groans under the strain.

But nowhere else in Lagos is the burden of overpopulation felt more than the waterfront slums just across the lagoon.

These neighbourhoods have little to no access to basic urban amenities and face the constant threat of state-endorsed demolition.

The historic fishing slum of Makoko marks the Lagosian landscape and is growing in number but not geographical size. The stilt houses are now doubling up as residents build upwards to accommodate the expansion.

"We have 200,000 living on water and 200,000 living on land. Right now the children are more than the adults," says Taiwo Shemede, son of Makoko's chief.

"In this economy - to be sincere - most people in Makoko don't want to have a child anymore."

Taiwo runs an orphanage and school on the polluted waters. More than three hundred children row in wooden boats from their homes to fill the classrooms.

Taiwo is one of his father's 27 children but only has three of his own. He believes that limited education and access to contraceptives is preventing Makoko residents from family planning.

A reality faced by the 95 million Nigerians that live below the poverty line.

Nigeria is the most populated country in Africa and the largest black demographic in the world. The population has doubled in size twice in the last 60 years.

If current trends continue, the country is projected to become the third most populous nation in the world by 2050.

In an effort to address the surge, President Muhammed Buhari has doubled down on population policies.

Earlier this year, he launched legislation targeting high fertility rates by expanding access to birth control - distributed by the Ministry of Health to local clinics across the country.

But despite the state effort, contraceptive use in Nigeria is little more than a meagre 16% (National Bureau of Statistics August 2021).

The effort to educate women on family planning is consistently undermined by tradition and what NGO workers describe as "male involvement".

Abortion is illegal in Nigeria, unless the mother's life is deemed to be at risk.

Walking along the plastic heaps of Egu - another waterfront neighbourhood in Lagos - community leader Kehinde Dare reflects on his advocacy work on the use of contraceptives.

He and his wife have been using birth control for seven years and he stays hopeful that it can become common practice.

But can women spearhead that choice?

"I think it's not possible because they said they cannot do anything without the husband because the husband is the head of the house.

"They have to follow the instructions of the husband," said Kehinde.

Under the searing sun, the women echo his observation.

"I cannot tell my husband I will not give birth. If I say I will not give birth, my husband will go and get another woman. He will get another wife," says Ruth Kodja, a 26-year-old mother of six.

Mothers in this impoverished community go hungry to feed their many children. Those who don't have children still pay a high price.

Rosaline Rogah, 20, has been married for three years and is yet to conceive. She describes being consistently berated by her husband's family.

"They say I'm useless - that I have no use in anything," she said.

As child-bearing continues to be closely wrapped up in a woman's worth, family planning will remain contentious in this conservative society.

And so, Lagos will continue to grow and the most vulnerable will be the most overwhelmed.

Sky News, by Yousra Elbagir

Related story: Video - Population explosion in Lagos, Nigeria puts pressure on housing sector


Friday, November 11, 2022

Video - Returning the Benin Bronzes of Nigeria

The Benin Bronzes, arguably some of Africa’s priced treasures; looted from southern Nigeria's Benin Kingdom by European powers, have begun their long journey back home. Could this be a start of a process that could see the return of the remaining looted artifacts? We will find out in this week’s program. 


Related stories: Germany signs deal to give ownership of Benin Bronzes to Nigeria

Nigeria receives stolen artifacts repatriated from the U.S.



Nigerian government closely monitoring Nigerians using Twitter after ownership change

The Nigerian Government said that it is closely monitoring the use of Twitter by Nigerians.

Speaking at the media briefing on the achievements of President Muhammadu Buhari’s (2015-2023) series, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said the monitoring has become imperative following the change of ownership of Twitter.

He noted that with an increase in the dissemination of fake news in the country, many have expressed fears of the possible banning of Twitter again.

“Many have asked for our reaction following reports that there has been a spike in fake news, disinformation, and
hate speech since the micro-blogging site changed ownership. Many have even asked us if another ban is in the offing”, he said.

The Minister however informed that the government has no intention of further banning any social media platform. He added that while the government upholds freedom of speech, it will not watch mischief makers destabilize the country through fake news.

“It has never been our intention to ban any social media platform or stifle free speech. Not at all. What happened in the case of Twitter is well-known to all.

“Twitter became a platform of choice for those who want to destabilize Nigeria, using fake news, disinformation, and hate speech.

“No nation will allow any social media platform to plunge it into anarchy. Definitely not Nigeria. But we have continued to engage positively with the different social media platforms, including Facebook, Google (owners of YouTube), and Twitter.

“We have no intention of banning any social media platform again. But we will also not sit by and allow any platform whatsoever to throw our nation into crisis.”

The Federal Government between June 5 2021 and January 13, officially banned Twitter, restricting it from operating in the country after it deleted tweets made by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The Guardian, by Bridget Chiedu Onochie

Related story: Nigerians launch legal action against government’s Twitter ban

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Costa Rica beat Nigeria in Football International Friendly

World Cup-bound Costa Rica bid farewell to home fans with a 2-0 victory over Nigeria in a friendly international on Wednesday.

Oscar Duarte’s seventh minute goal was followed by a second from Kendall Waston in the 73rd minute against a Nigerian team without any of their overseas-based regulars and made up mainly of members of their Under-23 team.

Costa Rica had several other chances to add to their tally as supporters at the National Stadium provided a carnival atmosphere ahead of the team's departure for the World Cup in Qatar.

Costa Rica will compete against Germany, Japan and Spain in Group E at the World Cup finals.

Reuters, by Mark Gleeson

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Five sisters released by Gunmen after parents pay ransom

Gunmen have freed five sisters abducted six months ago from their boarding school in northwest Nigeria after their parents paid ransom money to secure their release, police and relatives said.

The bandits kidnapped 11 schoolgirls, including the sisters, from a secondary school in Zamfara state in March and later released six of them. The sisters were detained because the kidnappers found out their father had previously worked as a senior government official in the state.

Kidnapping has become endemic as roving gangs of armed men abduct people from schools, hospitals, roads and farms and demand ransom money from their relatives.

Hadiza Abubakar, the mother of the school girls, said a total of 72 million naira ($164,000) was paid as ransom in three instalments in exchange for their freedom.

She said the bandits last month posted a video showing her daughters with rifles and ammunitions, pressuring the family to meet their demands.

"Initially, we almost lost hope especially when we saw them in a video with guns around their necks," Abubakar told Reuters.

A Zamfara police spokesperson confirmed the release of the five girls but did not mention the ransom payment.

Last week, a group of 21 children who were abducted by gunmen from a farm in northwestern Nigeria's Katsina state were freed and reunited with their families, police said.

Reuters, by Chijioke Ohuocha

Related stories: Nigeria pays $11 million as ransom to kidnappers in four years

Two police officers arrested for the kidnapping of Okonjo-Iweala's Mother


Catholic priest kidnapped in northern Nigeria

A Nigerian priest was kidnapped from his home in northern Kaduna state, the local Roman Catholic diocese said in a statement on Tuesday, in the first such reported abduction of a clergyman in the state since July.

Armed gangs are rife across northern Nigeria where they rob or kidnap for ransom, and violence has been increasing, where thinly stretched security forces often fail to stop the attacks.

Father Christian Okewu Emmanuel, the chancellor for Kaduna Catholic diocese, said Reverend Father Abraham Kunat, a parish priest in Idon Gida village, was abducted from a home he was staying in in another town, after leaving his parish due to insecurity.

Kaduna police spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Reuters, by Garba Muhammad

Related stories: Gunmen kidnap dozens in Nigeria, at least 11 killed

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

Blast in market kills four in Anambra state

At least four people were killed and a dozen more injured on Tuesday following a blast at a popular market in Nigeria's southeastern state of Anambra, a witness and official said.

Emeka Umeagbalasi, who heads civil society group Intersociety and witnessed the incident, said the blast occurred in a section of the market that sells chemicals, leading to a fire that razed some shops while "four people died and scores (were) injured."

Onitsha South local government area chairman Emeka Orji confirmed the death toll to reporters, adding that at least 12 people were injured as people stampeded to leave the market.

Anambra state police spokesman said the casualty figure was unknown but the situation was under control while the state emergency management agency said it was investigating.

Anambra is among states in the southeast of the country that are pushing to secede from Nigeria, and has been plagued by violence, which authorities blame on separatist groups.

Reuters, by Anamesere Igboeroteonwu

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Nigerian Senator Ike Ekweremadu charged with organ-harvesting

Nigeria’s former deputy Senate president will go on trial in the United Kingdom in January for alleged organ harvesting, a judge has said.

Ike Ekweremadu, 60, is accused with his wife, Beatrice, 56, their daughter, Sonia, 25, and a doctor of bringing a man from Nigeria to have a kidney removed.

The 21-year-old man is said to have raised the alarm after refusing to consent to the operation following preliminary tests at the Royal Free Hospital in London.

The BBC reported that the Ekweremadu family allegedly treated the man like a slave before he ran away and went to Staines police station in Surrey.

Ekweremadu is a senator for the opposition Peoples Democratic Party for Enugu State in southeast Nigeria.

Ekweremadu and his family were arrested at London’s Heathrow Airport in June.

The family and the doctor, Obina Obeta, 50, are accused of conspiracy to arrange the travel of another person with a view of exploitation.

Prosecutors say the kidney was meant for Sonia.

The alleged offence is believed to have taken place between August 1 last year and May 5 this year.

No pleas were entered when the defendants appeared at London’s Central Criminal Court on Monday.

Ekweremadu and Obeta were remanded into custody while Beatrice and Sonia were released on conditional bail.

Judge Mark Lucraft set another hearing date for December 16 and brought forward the defendants’ trial from May to January 31.

Al Jazeera

Related story: Nigerian senator accused of organ harvesting attempt in UK

Gunmen kidnap dozens in Nigeria, at least 11 killed

Gunmen in Nigeria kidnapped at least 80 people and killed 11 others in separate attacks in the northwest, traditional leaders and residents said on Monday, in the latest attacks by armed gangs that have been preying on villages, schools and highways.

Zamfara state is one of the worst hit by the armed gangs, known locally as bandits, who terrorise and abduct for ransom, adding to growing insecurity ahead of a presidential vote in February.

In the remote village of Masu, in Bukkuyum local government area, bandits kidnapped 50 people, mostly women, families of the victims told Reuters.

Ismail Jinjiri, whose wife was among those taken, said armed men arrived in his village early on Monday, rounded up dozens of women and some men and disappeared into the forest.

Sarkin Fawa Masu, a traditional leader, said "we had over 50 married women being abducted along with quite unknown number of innocent farmers."

Jinjiri and Masu said some women were later released while two men were badly beaten and admitted at Bukkuyum General Hospital. At least 27 remained in captivity, they said.

Bashiru Muawiya Mesudan, the administrator for Bukuyum local government area, said local authorities were still assessing the situation. Zamfara state police spokesman Mohammed Shehu did not respond to calls and texts seeking comment.

In a separate attack, armed men attacked Zonai community in Gusau local government area and abducted at least 20 people working on their farms, the village head Lawali Abdullahi Zonai told Reuters.

Some of the abductees managed to escape, he said.

In Yar Tasha community of Bungudu and Zurmi local government areas, gunmen killed 11 people and abducted at least seven farmers on Sunday, including a district head, residents said.


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



Hushpuppi sentenced to 11 years in US

A notorious Instagram influencer from Nigeria has been jailed for more than 11 years in the US for his role in an international fraud syndicate.

Hushpuppi, whose real name is Ramon Abbas, was also ordered to pay $1,732,841 (£1,516,182) in restitution to two victims.

The influencer rose to fame flaunting his wealthy lifestyle on his page, which boasted 2.8 million followers.

But it all came crashing down when he was arrested in Dubai two years ago.

According to Don Alway, the assistant director in charge of the FBI's Los Angeles field office, Abbas had - behind the glitz of his account - become "one of the most prolific money launderers in the world".

"Abbas leveraged his social media platforms... to gain notoriety and to brag about the immense wealth he acquired by conducting business email compromise scams, online bank heists and other cyber-enabled fraud that financially ruined scores of victims and provided assistance to the North Korean regime," Mr Alway said in a court document on Monday.

Abbas pleaded guilty to money laundering last year, admitting attempting to steal more than $1.1m from someone who wanted to fund a new children's school in Qatar. Court documents in California say he played a key role in the scheme, playing "the roles of bank officials and creating a bogus website".

He also admitted to "several other cyber and business email compromise schemes that cumulatively caused more than $24 million in losses", the US justice department said.

Among them was a 2019 scheme, which plunged the European island of Malta into chaos as payment systems shut down after he tried to launder €13m ($13m) stolen by a gang of North Korean hackers from the Maltese Bank of Valletta.

At one point on Instagram, Abbas said he was a real estate developer and had a category of videos called "Flexing" - social media lingo for showing off.

In 2020, he renewed his lease for another year at the exclusive Palazzo Versace apartments in Dubai under his real name and phone number.

"Thank you, Lord, for the many blessings in my life. Continue to shame those waiting for me to be shamed," he captioned an Instagram picture of a Rolls-Royce just a fortnight before he was arrested.

Those who knew Lagos-born Abbas before his transformation into Hushpuppi allege these are not the first scams he has carried out.

He allegedly started his fraudulent lifestyle as a "Yahoo boy" - the Nigerian term for men who commit romance fraud by stealing other people's identities online and swindling their none-the-wiser lovers out of money.

A Lagos driver called Saye told the BBC back in 2021 that he developed a taste for the finer things in life - but was always "generous".

"He used to buy beer for everyone around," he said.

However, Abbas' supporters say he is a changed man.

According to Nigerian newspaper Permium Times, two imams wrote to the judge in Los Angeles appealing for leniency, saying he regularly helped out widows and orphans, as well as donating to things like feeding programmes.

Meanwhile, his wife said his arrest had plunged her into hardship - noting that she had to overtime in order to pay for their child's private education.

Abbas himself apologised for his crimes to Judge Otis D Wright in a handwritten note, saying he would use his personal funds to pay back his victims. He also said he had only made $300,000 from the crime he was being tried for.

However, he was still sentenced to 135 months in a federal prison.


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

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TikTokers sentenced to lashing in Nigeria for mocking official

Two TikTok stars in Nigeria have been sentenced to a whipping and forced to clean the court after they used social media to mock a government official.

Mubarak Isa Muhammed and Muhammed Bula were found guilty of defaming Abdullahi Ganduje, governor of the northern state of Kano.

The pair's lawyer said they would not challenge the judgement.

Nigeria has seen a growing number of social media stars who use comedy to comment on social and political issues.

Mubarak Isa Muhammad and Muhammad Bala were arrested last week after posting their video - in which they mocked the governor for alleged land grabbing, corruption and sleeping on the job - to TikTok and Facebook.

Prosecution lawyer Wada Ahmed Wada said the men had defamed the governor and that their action was capable of disturbing public peace.

They pleaded guilty and asked for leniency, but the judge ordered them to be given 20 lashes each, to pay a fine of 10,000 naira (£20) and to clean the court premises for 30 days. They were also ordered to publicly apologise to Mr Ganduje on social media.

Their lawyer, Bashir Yusuf, told the BBC they would not challenge the judgement, given it was a ''non-custodial'' sentence - meaning those convicted would not be jailed.

Nigeria has seen a rapid increase in TikTok users in recent years, particularly among young people.

These users sometimes mock public figures, including government officials, by clipping images or videos, often to create comedies that attract massive followers to their accounts.

Kano State, a Muslim-majority part of northern Nigeria, is among about a dozen states in the region that practise the Sharia legal system alongside the country's secular laws. Only Muslims can be tried in Sharia courts.

BBC, By Ishaq Khalid

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Monday, November 7, 2022

Gunmen release children kidnapped from Nigerian farm

A group of 21 children who were abducted by gunmen last week from a farm in northwestern Nigeria's Katsina state were freed and reunited with their families on Saturday, police said.

Kidnapping has become endemic in recent years in Katsina - the home state of President Muhammadu Buhari - as roving gangs of armed men abduct people from schools, hospitals, roads and farms and demand ransom cash from their relatives.

Three of the captives' parents told Reuters the children, aged between 8 and 14, were released after parents paid a ransom of 1.5 million naira ($3,400), but police spokesman Gambo Isa denied a ransom had been paid.

"They have been reunited with their families," Isa said in a message shared via WhatsApp late on Saturday.

The three parents who spoke to Reuters asked not to be named for fear of reprisals from authorities, who do not approve of ransom payments, or from the bandits themselves.

"They said if we don't pay the ransom between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. yesterday (Saturday) they will move into the deep part of the forest with them and then we will never see them," one father said, adding that some parents had to turn to relatives to help raise their share of the money.

Parents said more than 30 children were kidnapped on Oct. 30 while harvesting crops at a farm located between Kamfanin Mailafiya and Kurmin Doka villages in Katsina, but some managed to escape.

Police and the parents said all the remaining captives were now free.

Reuters, by by Libby George

Related story: Dozens of children kidnapped from farm by Gunmen

Nigeria to explore nuclear energy for electricity

President Mohammadu Buhari has said Nigeria would explore nuclear energy to generate electricity.

He also expressed unwavering commitment of his administration to energy mix through acquisition of nuclear power.

The President spoke at the just concluded International Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Power in the 21st Century held in Washington DC.

According to him, the Federal Government has activated the Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission, NAEC, as the national focal agency charged with the responsibility of developing the framework and technical pathway to explore, exploit and harness atomic energy for peaceful applications for the socio-economic development of the country.

He said Nigeria had also established the Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority as an independent agency of government to ensure the safety of humans and the protection of the environment in the process of development, deployment and use of nuclear power.

Buhari, who spoke through the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Sen. Adeleke Mamora, said like most other nations on the continent, Nigeria, with a population of over 200 million people, had a serious energy supply deficit, making it compelling for the government to critically look towards other energy options that were affordable, more environmentally friendly and sustainable.

Consequently, he disclosed that Nigeria had taken a decision to fully explore and harness nuclear energy resources for the generation of electricity, which would contribute to the country’s energy security through an appropriate energy mix

‘‘With the Small Modular Reactor, SMR, technology evolving, Nigeria sees this as a future game-changer in the nuclear industry and looks forward to a greater engagement with the IAEA and other global partners in the coming months and years to discuss the possibility of deploying SMRs in the country.

‘‘Several countries in Africa have genuine aspirations for industrialization and growth but the lack of reliable and sustainable base-load energy constitutes serious impediment.

‘‘Despite all the good policies formulated by African countries, the attainment of real growth and development has remained a mirage due to energy inadequacy. The possibility of nuclear power is now providing African countries with a better alternative for energy generation.

‘‘In this regard, Nigeria is currently engaged in discussions with some countries and vendors for our nuclear power project. Two potential sites for Nigeria’s nuclear power plant have been identified and necessary processes are being undertaken under the Integrated Nuclear Power Programme of Nigeria with the IAEA,” Buhari said.

While expressing Nigeria’s appreciation to DG Grossi and the entire staff of the IAEA as well as the leadership of the Nuclear Energy Agency, NEA, and other partners for arrangements put in place for the conference, the President assured of Nigeria’s full support and cooperation towards the attainment of the goals and objectives of the conference.

Vanguard, by Emmanuel Elebeke

Related story: Nigerian cities in darkness as electricity grid collapses again

Sunday, November 6, 2022

Director Ryan Coogler Premieres Black Panther: Wakanda Forever in Nigeria

Some cast and crew members of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, are in Lagos, Nigeria, ahead of the first-ever Marvel Studios’ premiere on 6th November.

The group is visiting Nigeria for the first time to kick off continent-wide celebrations ahead of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever‘s release on 11 November.

‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, a sequel to the 2018 box office hit movie, ‘Black Panther 2, is an American action superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character.

The film is a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), written by Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole and directed by Ryan Coogler. It continues with the story of T’Challa, the king of Wakanda.

The movie stars Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Dominique Thorne, Isaach de Bankole, Dorothy Steel, and Michaela Coel.

On Sunday morning, some cast and crew members were present at a press conference held at Lagos Continental Hotel, where they fielded questions from the media.

In attendance were filmmakers and cast from the highly anticipated sequel to 2018’s Black Panther, including stars Letitia Wright, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Tenoch Huerta Mejía, Winston Duke, as well as director Ryan Coogler.

Why Nigeria?

At the occasion, the film director, Coogler, recipient of four NAACP Image Awards, four Black Reel Awards and an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture, justified why the cast and crew decided to kick off the continent-wide celebrations ahead of the film’s release in Nigeria.

Coogler, an African American, said Lagos has a lot of history and cultural significance for filmmakers. He also informed the ecstatic audience that he recently took a genealogy test that revealed his lineage.

‘‘If you know, like African American history, it’s tough for us to trace our genetic lineage due to some purposeful things that happened to us during the transatlantic slave trade.

So one of the things I spoke with the late Chadwick Boseman about when we first met and were getting ready to put his movie on was that he put me up on something called, another company I like.

It was specific about finding out where you have a heritage to know. So Chad had done his own, and he explained how it is done. So when I did mine, it came back as having lineage to a part of Cameroon, but mainly Yoruba lineage. It was something that I held on to and always wanted to know, to travel to Nigeria for that reason.”

The 36-year-old filmmaker said different parts of Africa influenced the film; however, the Nigerian culture exudes a specific energy that is hard to ignore.

Soundtrack Album

Roc Nation Records, Def Jam Recordings, and Hollywood Records released the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever soundtrack album on 4 November.

In addition to the already-released Rihanna single “Lift Me”, co-written by Tems, the soundtrack features other Nigerian artists Burna Boy, Tems, Fireboy DML, Ckay, Rema, Tobe Nwigwe and Fat Nwigwe, amongst other African acts. The media asked the team why they featured several Nigerian and African artistes on the soundtrack album.

Responding, Coogler, who produced the album, said his team wanted a representation of various genres and music spaces on the album.

‘‘I mean, music is critical to film as a medium. The film is a combination of a lot of different mediums. For me, Sonic manipulation, I’m trying to get a form of sound design, production design at, like, all of these things, you know, all the artboards representing the music is a massive part of it.

‘‘And the music was a big part of the first field. We were able to line up a great collaboration. And we wanted to do something different on this particular project, where to get, you know, more into the continent. We want a representation from various genres and music spaces,’’ he said.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is one of the most highly anticipated films of the year. It is the sequel to Black Panther (2018), starring Chadwick Boseman, who died two years ago of Colon Cancer at 43.

It features Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), Shuri (Letitia Wright), M’Baku (Winston Duke), Okoye (Danai Gurira) and the Dora Milaje (including Florence Kasumba) fight to protect their nation from intervening world powers in the wake of King T’Challa’s death.

As the Wakandans strive to embrace their next chapter, the heroes must band together with the help of War queen Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) and Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) to forge a new path for the kingdom of Wakanda.

The movie introduces Tenoch Huerta Mejía as Namor, king of a hidden undersea nation; the film also stars Dominique Thorne, Michaela Coel, Mabel Cadena and Alex Livinalli.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever hits theatres on 11th November.

Premium Times, by Jayne Augoye

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Friday, November 4, 2022

Nigerian police launch search for 21 abducted farm workers

Police in Nigeria are searching for 21 people abducted by gunmen while working on farmland whose owner is believed to have owed the alleged kidnappers coerced payments.

Katsina state police spokesperson Gambo Isah said on Thursday that the people kidnapped were teenagers working on a farm in the remote Faskari council area of the state when the gunmen “singled out the farm and abducted them”.

“According to our investigation, the bandits placed some levies on some of these farmers, and this particular one refused to comply with their demands,” Isah said. “That was why they went to their farm and kidnapped the workers,” Isah said.

Police and Nigerian soldiers from a nearby military outpost were working to find the abducted farm workers, who are ages 15-18, he said.

Residents in remote parts of the northwest and central regions of Nigeria targeted by armed groups have complained of gunmen requiring farmers to pay huge levies to work their farmland.

Katsina, the home state of President Muhammadu Buhari, has been one of the hot spots in the abduction scourge.

The groups initially consisted of young men from the Fulani ethnic group, whose members traditionally worked as nomadic cattle herders and are caught up in a decades-long conflict with Hausa farming communities over access to water and grazing land.

But experts say multiple armed groups are now taking advantage of the situation to practise banditry in those areas, too.

Nigerian security forces carry out aerial bombardments of the known hideouts of the armed groups. Authorities blame their continued operation on the cooperation of some local residents.

Most of those residents are farmers who say they risk getting attacked if they do not pay the levies imposed on their villages.

The police are “worried and disturbed that terrorists are placing levies on people”, police spokesperson Isah said. He said villagers must still “desist from cooperating and from whatever demands made by these terrorists”. 


Related story: Dozens of children kidnapped from farm by Gunmen

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Amazon Web Services opens office in Nigeria

Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS) has announced the opening of its first office in Lagos, Nigeria.

Disclosing this in a statement on Wednesday, the company said the new office was part of its support for the growing number of customers and partners in Nigeria.

AWS is a subsidiary of Amazon, an American e-commerce company, that provides on-demand cloud computing platforms and APIs to individuals, companies, and governments, on a metered pay-as-you-go basis.

The development is Amazon’s latest investment in Africa, and it comes five years after its first office was opened in Johannesburg in 2017.

The e-commerce company said the office will support organisations of all sizes, including startups, enterprises, and public sector agencies as they make the transition to AWS cloud.

With the Lagos office, it said, AWS can better address the increase in customer and partner adoption of its services in Nigeria.

Commenting on the development, Amrote Abdella, regional manager of Sub-Saharan Africa, AWS, said with its local presence, the company will support new and existing clients looking to use its products and services to innovate, lower their information technology (IT) costs, and grow their organisations in the cloud.

“We are excited to open our first AWS office in Nigeria. Lagos offers a highly skilled and creative talent pool, and the area is home to many fast-growing startups and notable Nigerian enterprises leading the way in digital innovation,” Abdella said.

“We look forward to fostering the country’s pioneering spirit and helping our customers accelerate their digital transformation as they deliver innovative new products and services to the Nigerian community.”

Regarding plans for businesses, Amazon said it would actively support Nigerian startups and the community with educational programmes.

“AWS activate provides startups with the resources they need to get started on AWS, including up to $100,000 in AWS credits, training, support, and contact with incubators, accelerators, and venture capital firms. AWS academy helps university students and educators develop knowledge and skills about AWS cloud computing, to accelerate cloud-related learning,” it added.

“…member institutions in Nigeria include the University of Benin, University of Jos, and Igbinedion University. AWS re/Start is a 12-week, in-person, skills-based training program that covers fundamental AWS cloud skills and practical career skills, such as interviewing and resume writing, to help prepare individuals for entry-level cloud positions.

“AWS also has a vibrant user group in Lagos, with hundreds of members that organise local meetups for developers to network and share best practices and knowledge. To join the AWS Nigeria user group, visit the AWS User Group page.”

On his part, Isa Pantami, minister of communications and digital economy, said having such a development will boost the digital economy of the country.

Pantami said the service infrastructure pillar of the national digital economy policy and strategy (NDEPS) emphasises the importance of “digital platforms in the development of a robust digital economy”.

“The programs of Amazon Web Services support the development of such platforms and we look forward to partnering with AWS to accelerate the implementation of NDEPS,” he said. 

The Cable, by Busola Aro

Related story: Amazon Prime Video launches local service in Nigeria

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Dozens of children kidnapped from farm by Gunmen

Dozens of children were abducted by gunmen from a farm in northern Katsina state and the kidnappers were demanding a ransom for their release, police and residents said on Wednesday.

Katsina is the home state of President Muhammadu Buhari and is among states in northwestern and north central Nigeria where armed gangs on motorbikes have killed people or kidnapped them for ransom from villages and highways.

Police spokesman for Katsina Gambo Isah confirmed the abduction of the children but did not give details.

Residents told Reuters that the children were taken on Sunday while harvesting crops at a farm located between Kamfanin Mailafiya and Kurmin Doka villages in Katsina.

A resident whose son was among those kidnapped said 30 children were abducted but that at least two escaped while another one was released because she was sick.

"Only four of the children are boys, the rest are girls aged below fourteen (years)," said the resident, who declined to be named for safety reasons.

A village head from the area said the gunmen were demanding 30 million naira ($68,435) as ransom. Police records showed that at least 22 children were missing.

The use of underage children as farm labourers is common in some states in northern Nigeria, which has the highest number of children out of school in the country, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

The military has been bombing suspected hideouts of the gunmen, known locally as bandits, as the government seeks to end the attacks that have raised concerns ahead of a general election next February to choose Buhari's successor.

Reuters, by Hamza Ibrahim

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

Singer Davido's 3-year-old son appears to have drowned at his home in Nigeria, police said.

The incident happened Monday night, two weeks after Ifeanyi David Adeleke celebrated his birthday.

Davido, the Nigerian music star whose real name is David Adedeji Adeleke, and the child's mother, Chioma Rowland, were not home at the time, Lagos police spokesman Benjamin Hundeyin said in an emailed statement.

Authorities questioned eight members of Davido's team who were at the home and released six of them. A nanny and another unidentified person are still being questioned, Hundeyin said.

He said the investigation continues to "ascertain if it was truly drowning or otherwise."

Lagos Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu said Tuesday on Twitter that the child had a smile that "made the world smile" and offered his condolences to the grieving parents.

"Death leaves a heartache no words can heal and today, I express my deepest condolences to David and Chioma, over the death of their son," he wrote. "I pray that God grants you strength even as my thoughts and prayers are with you."

Davido, 29, and Rowland, a popular chef, have not publicly commented on the death. His representative could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.

Last month, they shared pictures of their son as he celebrated his birthday.

"I pray with all my heart that God grants you perfect health and pure happiness for as long as humanly possible. You will grow to be greater than Me, Happy birthday, son #BIG3," Davido wrote in an Oct. 20 post.

Rowland called her son the "love of my life.

"Mummy loves you so much, may God always bless you for me. God has been so faithful to us and I’m so grateful to be called your mummy," she posted. "May you be greater than your parents in Jesus’ name, amen. Love you twin! #big3."

Davido, who was born in Atlanta, has more than 25 million Instagram followers and is one of Africa's most prominent artists. His 2018 single "Fall" became the longest-charting Nigerian song in history in 2019, Billboard reported. He has collaborated with several high-profile artists, including Chris Brown, Nicki Minaj, Nas, Stefflon Don, Young Thug and Lil Baby.

NBC News, by Minyvonne Burke 

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Nigeria loses $12.6b worth of crude oil in nine months

Nigeria has lost nothing less than 120 million barrels of crude oil from January and September this year amidst revenue crisis.

The level of crude oil loss in production translates to $12.6 billion going by crude oil production data obtained from the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC).

While Nigeria had proposed a budget of N20.5 trillion ($47.3 billion) in 2023 with the feasibility of relying heavily on borrowing amidst the country’s debt crisis, the $12.6 billion loss from the oil production would have provided a quarter of what is needed to finance the budget.

Infrastructure issues, pipeline leaks and oil theft have squeezed Nigerian output this year, leaving the country consistently below its OPEC+ crude targets. Nigeria’s own submission to the OPEC Secretariat put September crude output at just 938,000 b/d, just over half its quota for the month, while total liquids production was only 1.14mn b/d, according to the NUPRC.

Notwithstanding the challenges, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited is hopeful the country’s oil production will rebound to 1.8mn b/d by the end of the year and to increase further in 2023.

If Nigeria is successful in increasing its oil production, it may again broach the subject of adjusting the baseline production figure that determines its quotas within the OPEC+ group.

In 2021, the country produced 1.7 million barrels per day (bpd) in January, 1.76 million bpd in February and 1.74 million bpd in March. Production volume dropped slightly to 1.68 million bpd in April, went down to 1.65 million bpd in May and went to 1.63mbpd in June and July before dropping to 1.5 million bpd in August and September.

Compared to the same period in 2022, January production figure in terms of daily average was 1.67 million bpd, 1.52 million in February. In March, it dropped to 1.49 million bpd, went down slightly to 1.48mbpd in April before dropping sharply to 1.27 million bpd in May, 1.40 million bpd in June. It crashed to 1.31mbpd in July and worsened to 1.1 million bpd in August and September.

The total production from January to September of 2021, which included crude oil and condensate, stood at 452,051,631 barrels.

The total production from January to September of 2022, made up of crude oil, blended and unblended condensate stood at 331,825,054 barrels.

This development brought the level of loss in a space of nine months to 120,226,577 barrels.

While Brent was trading for $95.5 to barrel yesterday, the average between 2021 and 2022 stands at about $105 per barrel. The 120,226,577 barrels loss in the period under review translates to $12,623,790,585.

By Kingsley Jeremiah

The Guardian 

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Nigeria's Obasanjo clinches truce in Ethiopia

Olusegun Obasanjo has had mixed results as a mediator of intractable conflicts across Africa since he stepped down as Nigeria's president in 2007, although he has never tired of trying.

But on Wednesday the 85-year-old secured a surprise win, leading the team that announced a cessation of hostilities in Ethiopia, marking a diplomatic breakthrough in a conflict that has killed thousands, displaced millions and left many starving.

Aware that permanent progress in ending two years of fighting with roots that can be traced far further back in Ethiopia's history, the former army officer struck a cautious note.

"This moment is not the end of the peace process," the African Union mediator said. "Implementation of the peace agreement signed today is critical for its success."

Welcoming Ethiopia's government and the Tigray forces to a signing ceremony on Wednesday in South Africa's capital Pretoria, where talks have been held since Oct. 25, he said the agreement would allow the restoration of humanitarian supplies to Tigray.

Obasanjo stepped down from Nigeria's presidency in 2007 and presided over elections that marked the first handover of power from one civilian head of state to another in Nigeria since it became independent from Britain in 1960.

Many Nigerians wondered at the time of that vote whether the man who regularly spoke of his plans to retire to his chicken farm really meant to relinquish power, after his allies had at one stage sought a constitutional change to secure a third term for him.

In the end, he delivered on his promise, at least in part.

He gave up the presidency, but instead of heading off to tend his poultry he launched a new career trying to calm flare-ups across the continent, stretching from the Ivory Coast and Liberia to Congo, Angola, Burundi and Mozambique.

Some cooled down, others simmered on.

The test now is whether Ethiopia's conflict is on track for a permanent peace deal or just a temporary respite.


His own country, meanwhile, has remained prey to instability.

When president of Nigeria, an OPEC state which has struggled with violence across much of its territory, he faced insurrection in the oil-producing Niger Delta, which he was criticised for dealing with harshly.

He did all in his power to block a presidential bid by his estranged deputy, Vice President Atiku Abubakar.

That move was blocked by the Supreme Court, although Abubakar never managed to secure the top job.

In the eyes of many in Nigeria and abroad, these manoeuvres tarnished his reputation as a democrat.

Obasanjo first gained prominence during the 1967-1970 civil war over the Biafra region. As a young colonel in the federal army, he received the surrender of the secessionist Biafrans.

After a coup in 1975, Obasanjo was number two in the military government of Murtala Mohammed, and when Mohammed was assassinated the following year, he became head of state.

He presided over elections in 1979 and handed over power to an elected president -- the first Nigerian army ruler to do so.

Ater a long period out of the limelight, Obasanjo was convicted of plotting to overthrow dictator Sani Abacha, on what were widely seen as trumped-up charges, and jailed in 1995.

After Abacha's death in 1998, Obasanjo was released and was elected as civilian president in 1999.

As president, he restored Nigeria's status as a major African power after years of isolation under Abacha, sending peacekeepers into several war zones and being feted at international summits.

He brought in a team of economic reformers who introduced more budget discipline and launched a war on corruption, although critics at the time said that crackdown was aimed mainly at his opponents. Despite its oil wealth, Nigeria's economy has continued to falter.

Obasanjo, like others before and after him, failed to curb ethnic, religious and regional tensions, including the continuing instability in the Niger Delta, where oil production has been severely disrupted by kidnappings and violence.


Related story: FMR Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo quits ruling party PDP after criticising President Goodluck Jonathan