Germany looking to buy natural gas from Nigeria. The move is part of Germany's efforts to diversify its energy supplies.
Tuesday, October 31, 2023
Economic experts foresee a boost for Nigeria as China invests fresh funds in two crucial railway projects. Analysts believe the continuation of the projects that are part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) will stimulate more investments and job opportunities in the west African nation.
More than 70 people were missing on Monday after a boat capsized in northern Nigeria, according to authorities who deplored the frequent deadly boat accidents in Africa's most populous country.
The boat was carrying traders returning from a fish market in Taraba state's Ardo-Kola district late Saturday when it capsized on the Benue River, which is one of Nigeria's largest, the national emergency services said.
More than 100 passengers were on board and 14 were rescued, while 17 bodies have been recovered and 73 people are missing, Ladan Ayuba, head of Nigeria's National Emergency Management Agency, told The Associated Press.
Taraba Gov. Agbu Kefas called the accident a "monumental tragedy" and ordered the use of life jackets for boat passengers. "Our body of water, which is one of the longest in the region, should be a veritable source of wealth and not death," the governor said, according to a statement issued Monday by his office.
Boat disasters are common in remote communities across the West African nation. This is the third involving more than 100 passengers in just four months. Most are attributed to overloading. Good, accessible roads are often lacking in those areas.
Authorities were investigating the cause of this accident, said Taraba police spokesperson Usman Abdullahi. Locals and fishermen were helping rescue agencies.
Abdullahi said he feared that the operation could last for days because the river is flowing at its highest level.
"We don't even expect to get the bodies anywhere near here," he said.
Nigeria's main opposition leader Atiku Abubakar said on Monday last week's Supreme Court decision affirming President Bola Tinubu's election win would erode trust in elections and called for changes to the electoral laws to improve transparency.
The country's top court rejected a challenge by Atiku and Peter Obi, who came second and third in the vote, slamming the door on any legal challenge against Tinubu, who says he won fairly.
Reacting to the judgment for the first time, Atiku told reporters the court's decision would lead to "the erosion of trust in the electoral system and our democracy".
He criticised the judges for refusing to admit new evidence he said showed Tinubu had used a fraudulent university certificate to contest, which the president denies.
"As for me and my party this phase of our work is done. However, I am not going away," the 76-year-old Atiku said, hinting he may not be ready to retire from active politics.
Atiku, a former vice president between 1999-2007, said Nigeria's electoral laws should be amended, including making electronic voting mandatory and requiring a candidate for president to garner more than 50% of the vote to win.
In Nigeria, a candidate only requires a simple majority and at least 25% of the votes in three quarters of the country's 36 states to be declared president.
The Supreme Court judgment followed a pattern seen in previous presidential elections that have been challenged in court. None of the attempts to overturn results through the courts has been successful.
By Camillus Eboh,Reuters
Related stories: Supreme Court of Nigeria affirms President Tinubu's election win
Nigerians are being pinched by rising food prices where it hurts the most: Rice, the main ingredient for making jollof, a popular delicacy in many Nigerian homes, jumped 61% in September.
A kilogram of the local variety of the ingredient sold for 757 naira in September from 471 naira a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Monday.
Other ingredients used for making jollof are also up, a reflection of the cost-of-living crisis faced by many Nigerian households where about half of income is spent on food.
Vegetable oil rose 31%, onions gained 30% and frozen chicken – the preferred protein at the heart of a jollof rice, was 24% higher.
Food prices have surged in Nigeria as a result of higher transport costs after President Bola Tinubu in June announced the end of gasoline subsidies.
The reforms, as well as changes to the country’s foreign exchange regime that saw the naira weaken sharply, have been welcomed by investors and the International Monetary Fund, but they’ve been painful for ordinary Nigerians.
Annual food inflation quickened to 30.6% in September as headline inflation rose 26.7%, the fastest pace since August 2005.
Read more: Nigerians Left Cold by Tinubu Reforms as Investors Applaud
That’s leaving many households struggling to survive in Africa’s most populous nation, where at least 40% of the people live in extreme poverty.
Tinubu declared a state of emergency in July allowing the government to take exceptional steps to improve food security and supply. It later announced a 500 billion-naira ($625 million) package aimed at improving food supply, easing transportation costs and boosting manufacturing.
The International Committee of the Red Cross warned on Monday that acute food insecurity and malnutrition is worsening. Families are taking on higher debt to cover basic needs, the group said, citing an almost doubling in the price of maize in some parts of the country since the end of fuel subsidies.
Anthony Osae-Brown, Bloomberg
Related stories: Video - Nigerians claim to have the best Jollof rice in west Africa
Monday, October 30, 2023
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Sunday his country was willing to invest in gas and critical minerals in Nigeria, Africa's largest oil producer, as he started a two-nation visit to sub-Saharan Africa.
This is the third visit to the region by Scholz in two years and comes as conflicts elsewhere highlight the growing importance of an energy-rich region in which Berlin has traditionally had little involvement.
"There is a willingness to invest, especially in critical minerals," Scholz told reporters at a joint briefing with Nigerian President Bola Tinubu in the capital Abuja.
On gas, he welcomed Nigeria's efforts to expand its LNG capacity.
"If we are successful, if there is a better chance of exporting the produced gas ... it is then the question for German companies to do their private business," said Scholz.
Tinubu said he had "a very deep discussion" on the issue of gas and encouraged German businesses to invest in pipelines in Nigeria.
Nigeria is also seeking to woo investors to its mining sector, which has long been underdeveloped, contributing less than 1% to the country's gross domestic product.
Without giving details, Scholz said there was also a willingness from German companies to build railways in Nigeria. That sector is currently dominated by Chinese companies, which have won contracts to expand rail lines in Africa's biggest economy.
Scholz also met the president of the commission of West African regional group ECOWAS and said it was necessary to work with the bloc "to prevent that putsches will become a trend" following recent military coups in Niger and Gabon.
By Felix Onuah, Reuters
Friday, October 27, 2023
The West African country is showing signs of winning its battle against wildlife trafficking. Authorities have seized and burned a huge collection of illegal wildlife products, including pangolin scales and rare animal skins, worth over 1 million U.S. dollars.
ABUJA, Oct 26 (Reuters) - Nigeria's Supreme Court on Thursday upheld President Bola Tinubu's election win, bringing to an end a legal challenge brought by his two main rivals, who argued that his victory was marred by irregularities.
The ruling will give 71-year-old Tinubu a clear mandate to govern Africa's most populous nation, which is grappling with double-digit inflation, foreign currency shortages, a weakening naira, widespread insecurity and crude oil theft.
The biggest opposition, People's Democratic Party (PDP), said it was "alarmed and disappointed" by the ruling, but Tinubu welcomed the judgment.
"We are all members of one household, and this moment demands that we continue to work and build our country together," Tinubu said in a statement.
Nigeria returned to democracy in 1999 after three decades of almost uninterrupted military rule, but accusations of ballot-rigging and fraud have followed its electoral cycles.
The judgment by seven Supreme Court judges, which is final, follows a pattern seen in previous presidential elections that have been challenged in court. None of the attempts to overturn results through the courts has been successful.
"This judgment by the Supreme Court has evidently shaken the confidence of Nigerians in the judiciary, especially the Supreme Court as the last hope of the common man," the PDP said.
Atiku Abubakar of the PDP and Peter Obi of the Labour Party came second and third respectively in the February vote, but rejected the result and called for Tinubu's win to be annulled.
The two opposition leaders had appealed a Sept. 6 tribunal judgment that endorsed Tinubu's victory.
In the appeal, they argued that the electoral commission failed to electronically transmit results from polling stations to an online portal, which undermined their authenticity.
They also said Tinubu had won less than 25% of the vote in the federal capital Abuja so he did not meet the legal threshold to become president.
The judges dismissed all their arguments.
By Camillus Eboh, Reuters
Thursday, October 26, 2023
Nigeria's Supreme Court will rule on Thursday whether to uphold President Bola Tinubu's disputed election victory, a court notice showed on Wednesday, after two of his main contenders challenged the decision of a lower court last month.
Atiku Abubakar of the People's Democratic Party and Peter Obi of the Labour Party, who came second and third respectively in the February vote, allege that the election was marred by irregularities.
The Supreme Court is the highest court in Africa's most populous nation, and its decision will be final.
No legal challenge to the outcome of a presidential election has succeeded in Nigeria, which returned to democracy in 1999 after three decades of almost uninterrupted military rule and has a history of electoral irregularities.
Abubakar and Obi on Monday asked the Supreme Court to quash a Sept. 6 tribunal decision upholding Tinubu's win, in a last bid to overturn a result widely accepted by the international community.
The Supreme Court has 60 days to pass judgment on the tribunal ruling.
Lawyers for Atiku and Obi told the Supreme Court the tribunal erred when it declared that it was not mandatory for the electoral agency to electronically transmit results from polling stations even though it had promised to do this.
They also argued that Tinubu did not score 25% of the vote in the federal capital Abuja, which meant he did not meet the legal threshold to be declared winner.
Under Nigeria's electoral law, a presidential candidate is deemed to have won if he or she gets no less than a quarter of the votes cast in at least two-thirds of all the 36 states and Abuja.
The provision has been interpreted differently by the opposition and Tinubu's lawyers.
The opposition says a successful candidate should get 25% of the vote in three quarters of the states and the same in Abuja, while Tinubu argued that the 25% refers to the states and Abuja combined.
By Macdonald Dzirutwe, Reuters
Related stories: No evidence president of Nigeria forged college record
Wednesday, October 25, 2023
A three-day festival, commemorating the shipment of people captured from West Africa hundreds of years ago and forced to work as slaves in America and the Caribbean, came to a close in Nigeria over the weekend. The fourth edition of the Door of Return festival is a symbolic event that reconnects people of African descent living overseas to their roots in Africa.
On Saturday, October 21, 76 people, including 59 men and 17 women, were arrested in northern Nigeria for attending an alleged LGBTQ+ birthday party where organisers were suspected of planning to host a same-sex wedding.
Buhari Saad, a spokesperson for the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), said, “We apprehended 76 suspected homosexuals at a birthday party organised by one of them who was due to marry his fiancé at the event.”
The arrests took place in Gombe State, a paramilitary organisation under the government where Islamic Sharia law can be applied alongside the federal and state judicial systems. Under Sharia law, homosexual relations can be punishable by death.
The NSCDC spokesperson refused to say under which law the suspects will be charged, but death penalties passed in Sharia courts must be approved by the state governor, and this punishment has never been enforced.
Those arrested were the latest targets of Nigeria’s 2014 Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act which bans gay marriage, same-sex relationships and membership of gay rights groups.
According to this legislation, people in same-sex relationships can face of up to 14 years in prison. In recent years, security forces have intimidated LGBTQ+ people in Nigeria and carried out numerous raids on gatherings where they suspect same-sex weddings are taking place.
In August, Nigerian police arrested dozens of people after raiding a gay wedding in the southern city of Warri. Those arrested were paraded before spectators and journalists before being released.
Similarly, last December, police arrested 19 young people for attending an alleged gay wedding in the centre of Kano, the largest city in northern Nigeria. The couple narrowly escaped and were able to flee the area before the arrests began. Those arrested were not charged and instead asked to “change their lifestyle” through “counselling.”
Amnesty International has condemned these raids saying: “In a society where corruption is endemic, the law prohibiting same-sex relationships is increasingly being used for harassment, extortion and blackmail by law enforcement officials and other members of the public.”
Nicole Lee, Yahoo News
Related stories: Dozens arrested at gay wedding in Nigeria
Tuesday, October 24, 2023
Lagos, Nigeria — At about 7pm on August 1, when Vwaere Daiso exited her room on the ninth floor of the 10-storey residence for doctors at the Lagos hospital where she worked to retrieve a parcel from the ground floor, she had no idea it was the last time she would do so.
Moments later, she crashed to the floor together with the lift which had become unhinged.
No help came until after 40 minutes of frantic calls for a rescue team by the facility manager and Daiso’s roommate, who sprinted several flights of stairs to call him. The machines in the emergency section were not working either when she was taken there, so she was pronounced dead just as resuscitation began at about 8:59pm.
The 26-year-old’s death and the state of the facilities in the state-run establishment have angered many of her peers, including Joy Aifuobhokhan, one of the first responders at the scene.
“With all due respect, I feel like that [the late treatment] was medicine after death,” Aifuobhokhan, who was stuck in the same lift last year for hours, told Al Jazeera. “Imagine all of that was in place when Vwaere was first brought in within the first five minutes.”
The struggles of Nigeria’s healthcare system are well-documented and have affected the quality and number of doctors available locally, for decades.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), at least 2,000 Nigerian doctors emigrate yearly to hotspots like the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada. Since 2019, Nigerian newspapers have been reporting about recruitment exercises conducted by Saudi officials in Lagos and Abuja.
The average salary for a Nigerian doctor in the employ of the federal government, is 240,000 naira ($312.92) monthly, a fraction of the 2,448 ($2,967.20) average remuneration for their peers in the UK. Those employed by the state governments earn even less.
And that has been a key factor in their migration.
But doctors say fleeing Nigeria is also a matter of life and death even for them due to deplorable working conditions and poor equipment as they work round the clock.
On September 17, a doctor at the Lagos State Teaching Hospital died after working nonstop for 72 hours.
‘A vicious cycle’
After Daiso’s death, the Lagos state government fired the hospital facility manager and suspended the head of the agency responsible for maintaining the lift. The police also arrested three people.
The incident highlights the state of the health system, according to Dr Fejiro Chinye-Nwoko, general manager at the Nigerian Solidarity Support Fund, a Lagos-based NGO fundraising for medical interventions.
“A strong health system needs to be able to forecast, plan, and respond adequately to health emergencies,” she said.
Only about 72,000 doctors are registered with the Nigerian Medical Association even though approximately 3,000 doctors graduate from Nigeria’s medical schools yearly.
Worse still, only about 35,000 practise in Nigeria, a country of 200 million people, a ratio of one doctor to 10,000 people. This is far below the WHO’s recommended doctor-to-patient ratio of one doctor to 500 people.
This is compounded by a steady decline in the number of nurses, 75,000 of whom have left the country in the last five years.
Routine strikes for better wages and working conditions by available medical personnel have also led to patients now waiting long hours in hospitals to see a doctor. Some have died waiting, especially in areas of conflict in the country’s north.
Doctors often have to innovate on the go, sometimes using cartons as makeshift incubators or conducting critical surgeries by candlelight.
According to Dr Orji Innocent, president of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), doctors now die on a weekly basis due to increased stress and unfavourable working conditions. The association is compiling data on deaths to release soon as a report, NARD told Al Jazeera.
“We have entered a vicious cycle because the few doctors that are left are overworked. Many of them feel that they cannot cope and they will pack their bags and leave the system,” he said. “We believe that with what we are seeing, it will be a matter of weeks before there will be a total collapse of the healthcare system in this country.”
“When you check the surgery booking note, you see people are already booked till July next year. And these are cases that shouldn’t take more than a month for the patient to go under surgery,” Innocent added.
Besides going to practise abroad, many medical personnel are now leaving their jobs in pursuit of less strenuous work elsewhere.
Ayomide Ogunrinde, a trained doctor, told Al Jazeera that she endured sexual harassment from superiors while working at a government hospital and then depression from seeing people die “avoidable deaths”.
“The way the hospitals work is that you have to buy the things you need down to the littlest things like cotton wool and that makes work very ineffective. No one would assume that in a public hospital, patients wouldn’t have to be buying plaster,” the 25-year-old said.
Ogunrinde said she sometimes worked 72-hour shifts, attending to patients despite being tired and running the risk of making costly mistakes. Last year, she quit her job and now works as an administrator at a Lagos-based hospitality firm.
Experts say doctors need to be in optimum physical, mental, and psychological state to be able to save lives, but an increased workload and lack of an enabling environment have made that difficult.
“Nigeria has never had an adequate number of doctors, and the recent challenge of brain drain has further worsened the situation,” said Professor Tanimola Akande, a consultant community health physician at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital. “This will certainly worsen our already bad health indices. Patients’ patronage of quacks and other unreliable places has increased.”
To discourage doctors from fleeing the country, a member of parliament recently proposed that newly inducted doctors practise for a mandatory period of five years in Nigeria to get a licence.
Critics of the government say this will be ineffectual. Instead, they want to see more political will from the government, to ameliorate the situation.
An upgrade of existing facilities and introduction of competitive benefits will boost job satisfaction for medical personnel, said Chinye-Nwoko.
“Prioritising safety by maintaining equipment, and implementing safety protocols is vital to prevent accidents and promote a safer work environment. By taking these steps, the government can help keep doctors in the country … and improve healthcare for all citizens, especially those who are most vulnerable,” she said.
In Lagos, Aifuobhokhan joined other doctors to observe a candle procession in honour of their colleague, days after her passing. She too is leaving her job, to avoid deja vu.
“Now I know for sure I do not want to practise,” she told Al Jazeera. “I don’t want to be in the four walls of any hospital saving lives and then dying where I am saving lives.”
Related stories: Over 10,000 doctors left Nigeria for UK in last 7 yrs
Nigeria on Monday hailed a landmark victory after it won its bid to overturn an $11 billion damages bill for a collapsed gas project, in a case a judge at London's High Court said exemplified the ravages of greed and corruption.
Africa's most populous country had previously been ordered to pay the sum – representing around a third of its foreign exchange reserves – to Process & Industrial Developments (P&ID), a company based in the British Virgin Islands.
But Judge Robin Knowles found that P&ID had paid bribes to a Nigerian oil ministry official in connection with the gas contract signed in 2010, and had failed to disclose this when it later took Nigeria to arbitration over the collapse of the deal.
Nigerian President Bola Tinubu described the judgment as a blow against economic malpractice and the exploitation of Africa.
"Nation states will no longer be held hostage by economic conspiracies between private firms and solitarily corrupt officials," he said in a statement.
The ruling is a major boost for Africa's biggest economy, which is saddled with mounting debt, high inflation and unemployment.
"The economic prospects of an entire country have been held hostage by a tainted arbitral award that was built on bribes and lies," said campaign group Spotlight on Corruption.
In 2017, an arbitration tribunal had awarded P&ID $6.6 billion for lost profit after its 20-year contract to construct and operate a gas processing plant in southern Nigeria had fallen apart.
The sum had since swelled with interest to over $11 billion, representing 10 times the country's 2019 health budget.
"DRIVEN BY GREED"
However, Nigeria's lawyers went to court to overturn the award, saying P&ID had bribed senior officials to obtain the contract and corrupted the country's lawyers to obtain confidential documents during the arbitration. P&ID denied this and accused Nigeria of institutional incompetence.
But Knowles allowed Nigeria's challenge, writing that the case showed what some people would do for money, "driven by greed and prepared to use corruption; giving no thought to what their enrichment would mean in terms of harm for others".
The judge said a further hearing would take place to decide whether to send the case back to arbitration or ditch the $11 billion award without further delay.
Lawyers representing P&ID said the firm was disappointed and considering steps available to it.
In a rare rebuke, the judge said two British lawyers who stood to receive astronomical sums had Nigeria been forced to pay the $11 billion-plus bill had misconducted themselves out of greed.
Trevor Burke, an eminent criminal barrister and a nephew of P&ID's co-founder, would have received $850 million while Seamus Andrew, who represented P&ID during the arbitration, would have received up to $3 billion.
Both received confidential Nigerian documents during the arbitration that they knew they were not entitled to see, the judge found. Their decision to say nothing and not to return the documents was "indefensible", he wrote.
They did so "because of the money they hoped to make" and gave untruthful evidence about it, Knowles added, referring his ruling to legal standards regulators.
Burke and Andrew said in separate statements they did not accept the judge's criticisms and believed they would be exonerated by the regulators.
By Sam Tobin, Reuters
Nigeria expects $10 billion in foreign currency inflows in the next few weeks to ease liquidity in a foreign exchange market that has cramped growth in Africa's biggest economy, finance minister Wale Edun said on Monday.
The West African country has faced chronic dollar shortages after foreign investors exited local assets during a period of low oil prices. Since then, investors are yet to return and the central bank has not yet settled outstanding demand for dollars from foreign investors seeking to repatriate funds or airlines seeking to send money from ticket sales abroad.
As a result of the shortages, some businesses and individuals have turned to the black market, where the naira currency has hit successive record lows, widening the gap with the official rate.
Edun said President Bola Tinubu on Thursday signed two executive orders to allow domestic issuance of instruments in foreign currency and also allow all cash outside the banking system to be brought into the banks.
"There is a line of sight on $10 billion worth of inflow of foreign exchange in a relatively near future, in weeks rather than months," Edun told a business conference.
He added that liquidity would also come from state-oil firm crude sales and foreign investment firms willing to invest in Nigeria.
"These measures taken as a whole and comprehensively should lead to the flow of foreign exchange."
On Monday, the naira hit a record low of 1,200 per dollar on the black market, two days after it fell to a new low of almost 1,000 naira on the official market.
Tinubu told the conference that all forward contracts entered into by the government would be honoured while the country's central bank governor said the currency would adjust once rules for market participants were made clear.
By Chijioke Ohuocha, Reuters
Monday, October 23, 2023
The Nigerian government says the launch of the initiative will cushion millions of people against the effects of the removal of the petrol subsidy and other economic shocks.
Nigeria plans to inject 34 billion U.S. dollars into the economy in 2024, a substantial increase from the 25 billion U.S. dollars in the 2023 budget. Experts link the increase to efforts to combat inflation and propel infrastructure development.
Nigeria is facing a tax administration challenge characterized by corruption and disorganization within the tax collection system. Authorities say there's a significant shortfall between the number of taxes collected and what is reflected in the revenues.
A Nigerian action thriller that tells a gripping story of corruption and police brutality in Africa’s most populous country has reached record viewership numbers on Netflix charts globally. It's a reminder of the power and potential of Nigeria's rapidly growing film industry.
“The Black Book” has taken the streaming world by storm, spending three weeks among the platform’s top 10 English-language titles globally, peaking at No. 3 in the second week.
It garnered 5.6 million views just 48 hours after its Sept. 22 release and by its second week was featured among the top 10 titles in 69 countries, according to Netflix.
"Films are made for audiences, and the bigger the audience for a film, the better the chances of your message going out,” producer Editi Effiong told The Associated Press. “The reality for us is that we made a film, made by Nigerians, funded by Nigerian money, go global.”
Nollywood, Nigeria's film industry, has been a global phenomenon since the 1990s when it rose to fame with such films as “Living in Bondage,” a thriller with Kunle Afolayan's Anikulapo released in 2022 and peaking at No. 1 on Netflix's global chart. It is the world's second-largest film industry after India based on number of productions, with an average of 2,000 movies released annually.
Nollywood's latest blockbuster, “The Black Book,” is a $1 million movie financed with the support of a team of experts and founders in Nigeria’s tech ecosystem and is Effiong’s first feature film.
It tells the story of Nigeria’s checkered past, spanning a period of 40 years from when military regimes killed and arrested dissidents at will until the present day, when police brutality and abuse of power remain rampant.
The film opens with the abduction of family members of the head of the Nigerian oil regulatory agency, aided by corrupt police officers working for top politicians.
To cover their tracks, the police kill a young man framed as the suspect in the kidnapping — not knowing he was the only child of a former special operative who abandoned his weapons for the pulpit.
In his prime, the character of ex-officer-turned-pastor Paul Edima — played by Nigerian movie icon Richard Mofe-Damijo — was known as Nigeria’s “most dangerous man” with a past punctuated by assassinations and involvement in several coups across West Africa.
Portrayed as a repentant man who has turned over a new leaf after being inspired by his favorite Bible passage 1 Corinthians 5:17, Edima feels compelled to take revenge for his son’s death after failing to convince authorities his son is innocent.
The issue of delayed justice is not new in Nigeria. Many on Friday remembered the deadly protests of 2020 when young Nigerians demonstrating against police brutality were shot at and killed. Three years later, rights groups say many victims of police abuse still haven't gotten justice.
For Edima, justice for his son comes at a cost. One by one, he hunts down the officers behind his son's death, leading him to the army general behind the plot — coincidentally his former boss.
“It is a fictional narrative, but this is what Nigeria was,” Effiong told the AP.
He believes Nigeria is not doing a good job of teaching its history in the schools and letting young people understand how the country’s past is shaping the present.
“A society must be changed positively by art, and so there was an orientation on our part to, through the film we are going to make, reflect on this issue (of police brutality),” Effiong said.
While a government-commissioned panel of inquiry investigated the protest shootings in Nigeria’s economic hub of Lagos in 2020, Effiong attended its meetings and provided live updates via his page on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter. At the same time, pre-production for the movie already had begun.
“We must tell the truth in spite of the circumstances," he said. "Justice is important for everyone: the people we like and the people we do not like — especially the people we do not like,” he said.
Some have said the movie's plot is like that of the American action thriller John Wick. It is a surprising but flattering comparison that also testifies to the movie’s success, Effiong said.
The movie also has been lauded as signifying the potential of the film industry in Nigeria as well as across Africa. The continent's streaming on-demand video (SVOD) market is expected to boast a robust 18 million subscribers, up from 8 million this year, according to a recent report from market intelligence firm Digital TV Research.
According to a Netflix spokesperson, entertainment with local stories remains the core of the platform’s main objective in sub-Saharan Africa. “Africa has great talent and world-class creatives, and we are committed to investing in African content and telling African stories of every kind,” Netflix said in a statement.
In Nigeria, the movie industry is at “the point right now where the world needs to take notice,” Effiong said.
He said that's because. “The Black Book is a film by Black people, Black actors, Black producers, Black money 100%, and it’s gone ahead to become a global blockbuster.”
Related stories: Video - Mami Wata selected as contender for 2024 Oscars
Friday, October 20, 2023
China's President Xi Jinping pledged on Thursday for his country to increase investments in Nigeria's power generation sector and its digital economy, the Nigerian vice president's office said in the wake of a Belt And Road Initiative forum in Beijing.
Nigeria's National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) and three Chinese partners signed contracts for new projects valued at $2 billion, Vice President Kashim Shettima's office said.
It added that another $4 billion worth of letters of intent was received for new projects and investments in different sectors of the economy.
Nigeria is seeking to attract investments to boost sluggish growth in Africa's biggest economy, which is saddled with mounting debt, high inflation and unemployment.
The agreements signed include vehicle assembly projects, solar products, vehicle design and production, drone technology transfer, clean energy utilisation and the development of an industrial park.
Nigeria also signed contracts with China Harbour Engineering Company for the construction of the Lekki Blue Seaport in Lagos.
Shettima met Xi, who asked for the protection of Chinese workers in Nigeria, according to the vice president's office.
China had committed to rail projects in Nigeria in the past and to a seaport in Bonny Island in the Niger Delta. But the projects are still waiting for loan disbursements after securing approvals from China Exim Bank and Nigeria's parliament.
At the Belt And Road Initiative Forum, China also committed to refinancing the completion of two rail projects that stalled due to a cut in China's funding commitments. China had earlier agreed to provide 85% of the financing for the rail projects.
By Felix Onuah, Reuters
Wednesday, October 18, 2023
China's Belt and Road Initiative in Nigeria has been yielding a number of landmark infrastructure projects. Nigeria and China have a longstanding bilateral relation, which received a further boost when the West African nation formally signed up to the BRI in 2018. Since then, the country has witnessed tremendous growth and development of its infrastructure.
At least 50 people, including women and children, were abducted and three others were killed in an attack by gunmen in Bagega, a mining village in Nigeria's northwest Zamfara state, residents said on Tuesday.
Kidnapping for ransom has become commonplace in northwestern Nigeria in recent years where armed gangs, often referred to locally as bandits, have targeted villages, schools, and travelers, demanding millions of naira in ransom and making it unsafe to travel by road or to farm in some areas.
The Zamfara police spokesperson did not immediately respond to Reuters' request for comment on the attack, which took place on Monday.
Residents told Reuters the gunmen had stormed the village on motorcycles, shooting indiscriminately and setting houses ablaze. Seven people were also injured in the attack.
The district head was among at least 50 people kidnapped, Mallam Abubakar, the village chief, said by phone on Tuesday.
Bello Yahaya, whose father was abducted, said three people were killed and two policemen were shot and wounded while trying to fend off the attackers.
"The injured officers, along with the other individuals who suffered various degrees of gunshot wounds, are currently receiving medical treatment while two critically injured victims have been referred to the Federal Medical Centre in Gusau," Yahaya said. Gusau is the state capital.
"As I speak with you now, an unspecified number of people have been abducted. There is panic and widespread fear among our people," Ismail Badamasi, a resident who managed to escape the assault, told Reuters by phone.
Nigeria faces numerous security challenges, including a 14-year Islamist insurgency in its northeast, separatist violence in the southeast, and frequent deadly clashes between farmers and herders in the central region.
President Bola Tinubu has yet to detail how he will tackle the insecurity. His economic reforms, including the removal of a costly petrol subsidy and freeing the naira currency, have led to a sharp increase in the cost of living, angering citizens.
By Ahmed Kingimi, Reuters
Nigeria is toughening up licensing rules for foreign mining companies to push them to boost processing and refining of metals like lithium and zinc within the country, its minister of mines said on Tuesday.
The policy announced by Dele Alake at a Nigeria Mining Week event in the capital Abuja will require mining companies to show business plans for so-called "value addition" before they are granted licences.
Alake said that the move is essential to help create jobs. "I am glad to mention that such an initiative is already on stream as some companies have already commenced operations in Nigeria," he said.
The minister referenced Ganfeng Lithium Industry Ltd, a Chinese company that is building a lithium processing plant in the central Nasarawa state, as an example of the type of investment the government is looking for.
The plant will process about 18,000 tons of lithium ore per day to manufacture batteries for electric vehicles, he said.
Nigeria is seeking to woo investors to a mining sector that has long been underdeveloped, contributing less than 1% to the country's gross domestic product.
Africa's top oil producer, which is also rich in gold, limestone and zinc, wants its mining industry to play a much bigger role in its effort to diversify the economy away from its reliance on oil.
Alake said the mining industry is been modernized and the government is investing in data collection, spending more than 15 billion naira ($19.6 million) over seven years to generate mineral data through a National Integrated Mineral Exploration Project (NIMEP).
"The preliminary reports from this project have unravelled massive discoveries which have literally put Nigeria on the world map of lithium-rich countries," he said.
Last month, Nigeria announced plans to start a state-backed company to help attract investments for the extraction of gold, coal, iron ore, baryte, lead, bitumen and limestone.
By Camillus Eboh, Reuters
The Federal Government has announced that President Bola Tinubu will launch the new cash transfer program to 15 million households across Nigeria on Tuesday, October 17.
Nigerian Presidency made the announcement in a tweet on Tuesday.
The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Dr. Betta Edu, had disclosed the FG’s plan to commence a new cash transfer program to 15 million households by October.
She disclosed this in September during an interview on Arise Tv on the Progress Report on Nigeria’s participation at the 78th United Nations General Assembly meeting.
Edu made the disclosure while responding to questions on the FG’s presence at the UNGA 78 and what it meant for the Nigerians.
“We had meetings with the World Bank and very soon, we will announce the upscale of the national safety net program which will be putting funds in the pocket of over 15 million households in Nigeria,” she said.
“These are tangible funds that people can use to start businesses and improve their lives. This will be happening next month October.”
Edu had also revealed that the FG was ready to extend its social safety net program so as to reduce the level of poverty among households across Nigeria.
She added that the initiative is a strategic effort on the part of the FG to empower individuals and families in the country.
“We’ll initiate an expanded and upscaled social safety net program designed to reach a lot of households in Nigeria,” Edu said.
“These funds are aimed at jumpstarting businesses and helping individuals regain their footing.”
She further noted that the Federal government will partner with the state government and local communities in the verification of the national social register.
The Minister said it was geared towards ensuring that those in the current social register are still in that social category.
By Oluyemi Ogunseyin, The Guardian
Related story: President Tinubu stuns wary investors with quick reforms
Nigeria’s naira plunged the most in almost four months to an unprecedented level in the official market as the West African nation’s move to a more flexible exchange rate puts pressure on the currency.
The naira weakened 8.9% to 848.12 to the dollar in the official market on Tuesday, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The drop was the most since June 20.
Trades in the foreign-exchange market were executed within the range of 700 naira to 981 naira per dollar, according to an investment note by Lagos-based investment banking firm Chapel Hill. The value of dollar traded jumped 2.12 times to $133 million, the firm said.
The currency was little changed at 1,052 a dollar on the street, according to Abubakar Mohammed, chief executive officer of the Forward Marketing Bureau de Change Ltd.
The Central Bank of Nigeria eased foreign exchange controls in mid-June after newly elected President Bola Tinubu criticized monetary policy measures and pledged an end to the nation’s multiple exchange-rate regime. That saw the official rate plunge 40%, briefly aligning with the parallel market before the spread began to widen again. Until Tuesday, the official rate stayed near 800 to the dollar even as the street rate weakened past 1,000 naira.
“Illiquidity persists in the market in the absence of central bank intervention,” Tajudeen Ibrahim, head of research at Chapel Hill, said by phone.
The widening premium between the official rate and the black market “indicates that the exchange rate has not been setting a clearing price,” the central bank said on Monday after it scrapped restrictions put in place eight years ago to manage demand for dollars.
Nigeria, Africa’s biggest crude producer, has been struggling to boost the supply of dollars for years after falling oil revenue left its foreign-exchange reserves in a perilous state. That prompted authorities to stop selling foreign currency to importers of products such as rice, vegetables and chicken in a bid to encourage local production.
The move only pushed demand for dollars to unauthorized trade.
Anthony Osae-Brown and Emele Onu, Bloomberg
Tuesday, October 17, 2023
Five men have been jailed for 12 years each in Nigeria after they were convicted of exhuming a human skull.
They had planned to take it to a traditional doctor who said it was needed for rituals that would make them rich.
The men pleaded guilty after being caught with the skull in a bag.
The prosecutor told the court that the men had dug up a body buried three years earlier at a Muslim cemetery in the north-central Niger state.
"They said the herbalist informed and promised all of them that they would share the wealth from the said criminal activity and directed them to look for the human skull," the prosecutor was quoted as saying by the privately owned Daily Punch newspaper.
Security officers had arrested the young men, who are aged between 18 and 28, in early September as they transported the remains to a third party, on the instructions of a traditional doctor.
A court in Minna, the capital of Niger state, declared the men guilty on the charges of criminal conspiracy, trespassing on burial grounds and unlawfully possessing a human skull.
The traditional doctor was not arrested and charged.
Belief in "juju" - sometimes known as voodoo or magic - is fairly widespread in Nigeria, with many combining it with either Christianity or Islam, according to a 2010 report by the Pew Research Centre.
Such beliefs, especially that human body parts and charms can produce money from a clay pot, have led to a recent wave of gruesome murders in Nigeria, often targeting individuals seen as vulnerable, including children, single women and people with disabilities.
Local authorities have also said that body parts are sold and used in rituals believed to generate wealth.
Money-making rituals in Nigeria have also been fuelled by mounting economic desperation, in a country where four out of 10 people live in poverty, according to World Bank data.
By Gloria Aradi, BBC
Nigeria’s cabinet approved plans by the government to seek a $1.5 billion loan from the World Bank, Finance Minister Wale Edun said.
The funding will be concessionary and is expected to be secured by December, Edun told reporters in the capital, Abuja, on Monday. The West African nation will also seek $80 million of financing from the African Development Bank, he said.
Nigeria is seeking funding as it implements a series of economic reforms to accelerate economic growth and support the more than 40% of its 200 million people who live in poverty. Over the past eight years, the nation’s debt has increased almost eight-fold to more than $110 billion, and servicing those obligations consumed 96% of government revenue in 2022.
The reform initiative by President Bola Tinubu “is being rewarded by processing for Nigeria $1.5 billion of immediate financing,” Edun said. “Provided that we do everything on our own side, it will be in before the end of the year.”
Read More: Nigeria Seeks World Bank Loan as IMF Says It’s Open to Funding
The International Monetary Fund has welcomed Nigeria’s reforms, which include unifying the nation’s various exchange rates and removing a costly gasoline subsidy, and said it’s prepared to help the government.
“As every member country of the IMF, Nigeria can seek IMF financing if they see this as helpful to address external imbalances,” the Lagos-based Punch newspaper quoted the fund as saying. “The Nigerian authorities have not approached the IMF with a request for financing.”
By Ruth Olurounbi, Reuters
Monday, October 16, 2023
Nigeria has selected Sundance Festival award-winning film, “Mami Wata” as its contender for the 96th Academy Awards’ International Feature Film (IFF) category.
Written and directed by C.J. Obasi, the film is an exploration and creative reimagination of the mythology of a titular mermaid-deity of West African folklore, and one which, among other things, celebrates womanhood.
The Nigerian Official Section Committee (NOSC) for the IFF said it selected the film for its “relevant theme – multiple generations of women at the forefront of society’s well-being, its unique approach to a story of pre and post-colonial African societies, as well as its technical and artistic excellence.”
The NOSC voting members include: Stepanie Linus – award-winning actress and Chairperson of NOSC; Dr. Chidia Maduekwe – M.D Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC); Dr. Victor Okhai – President of Directors’ Guild of Nigeria (DGN); Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde – veteran actress; Mr. Andy Amenechi – former President of DGN; Yibo Koko – theater practitioner; and Izu Ojukwu – writer/director.
Others are Adetokunbo ‘DJ Tee’ Odubawo – Cinematographer; Emem Isong – writer/producer; Dimeji Ajibola – director; Jude Idada – writer/director; Ngozi Okafor – producer/costumier; John Njamah – actor/director; and Meg Otanwa – actress/polyglot.
“I’m excited to announce a milestone in our NOSC journey: our first Pidgin film submission to the Academy, marking our commitment to diversity and global representation. I urge filmmakers not to relent in enhancing their skills, and elevate production to global standards,” Linus stated.
“Mami Wata” advances in the Oscars race having received the highest votes from the 14-man committee. The next stage of the film will be determined by the IFF Executive Committee.
Shot on location in the Republic of Benin, “Mami Wata” tells the story of a beach-side community that must interrogate previously held beliefs when a stranger washes up ashore and further threatens its harmony.
The film, which had its theatrical releases in Nigeria and other countries, won the Special Jury Award at Sundance Film Festival 2023 for its vivid black-and-white cinematography.
The 96th Oscars will take place on Sunday, March 10, 2024. The show will air live on ABC and in more than 200 territories worldwide from the Dolby Theatre at Ovation, Hollywood.
By Chinelo Eze, The Guardian
Nigeria’s government is seeking a $1.5 billion loan from the World Bank to help fund its budget, Finance Minister Wale Edun said, as the International Monetary Fund welcomed recent government reforms and said it’s open to funding the West African nation.
The authorities in Nigeria have “concluded plans” to seek funding from the World Bank, including concessional financing from the International Development Association, the Lagos-based ThisDay newspaper quoted Edun as saying. The IDA is an arm of the World Bank that provides help to the world’s poorer countries.
The cabinet will discuss the proposal to seek World Bank funding at a Federal Executive Council meeting in the capital, Abuja, on Monday, ThisDay reported. The meeting, confirmed by the presidency, will be the FEC’s first since Aug. 28.
Nigeria is seeking funding as it implements a series of economic reforms to accelerate economic growth and support more the than 40% of its 200 million people who live in poverty. Over the past eight years, the nation’s debt has increased almost eight-fold to more than $110 billion, and servicing those obligations consumed 96% of government revenue in 2022.
The IMF welcomed the recent reforms, including unifying Nigeria’s various exchange rates, and said it’s prepared to help the government.
“As every member country of the IMF, Nigeria can seek IMF financing if they see this as helpful to address external imbalances,” the Lagos-based Punch newspaper quoted the fund as saying. “The Nigerian authorities have not approached the IMF with a request for financing.”
Friday, October 13, 2023
Nigeria's president nominated a lawyer to head its anti-graft agency after President Bola Tinubu suspended the previous chief amid corruption allegations, his spokesperson said on Thursday.
Tinubu's nomination of Ola Olukoyede, a former chief of staff to the previous head of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), comes four months after he suspended indefinitely Abdulrasheed Bawa for alleged abuse of office.
The EFCC is tasked with investigating and prosecuting graft in Africa's largest oil exporter and biggest economy, which has grappled with endemic corruption for decades.
If confirmed by the Senate, Olukoyede will take the reins of an agency that is leading extradition proceedings for former oil minister Diezani Alison-Madueke, charged with receiving bribes in the form of cash, luxury goods, flights on private jets and the use of high-end properties in Britain in return for awarding oil contracts.
Nigerians blame corruption by the political elite for widespread poverty in the country, which is facing chronic dollar shortages, a high debt burden, double digit inflation and sluggish growth.
By Felix Onuah, Reuters
Related stories: US Treasury Secretary Adeyemo urges Nigeria to fight corruption
Thursday, October 12, 2023
Nigeria has temporarily halted all pilgrimages to Israel. This move follows a surge in deadly hostilities over the weekend, disrupting the plans of eager Easter pilgrims.
Originally scheduled to depart for Israel and Jordan on Tuesday, the pilgrimage for a group of committed Christians has now been canceled until further notice. The Nigerian government's Christian Pilgrim Commission has confirmed this decision, emphasizing the prevailing uncertainty caused by the ongoing conflict.
Sunny Udeh, the commission's Director for Mobilization and Sensitization, shared his thoughts on the matter, stating, "The war has created uncertainties in our planning for the main pilgrimage in December... we do hope the hostilities will end before the end of the year." It is a sentiment that underscores the desire for peace in the region.
On average, approximately 18,000 Christian pilgrims from Nigeria embark on journeys to holy sites in Israel and Jordan each year. The commission's commitment to ensuring the safety of these Nigerian pilgrims remains unwavering, prompting them to closely monitor the situation in Israel.
The recent escalation in violence stems from an attack launched by the Palestinian militant group Hamas against Israel last Saturday. Tragically, the conflict has claimed the lives of at least 1,200 Israelis, with retaliatory strikes on the Gaza Strip from Tel Aviv resulting in the deaths of at least 1,000 Palestinians.
The Nigerian government has called for an end to hostilities and a ceasefire between Israeli forces and Hamas fighters. Their stance prioritizes a peaceful resolution to the conflict through dialogue.
It's worth noting that, despite the ongoing chaos in the region, commercial flights from Nigeria to Tel Aviv remain unaffected. The situation continues to be closely monitored, with hope for a swift return to normalcy and peace in the region.
More than 600 people, mostly children, have died of diphtheria in Nigeria since the current outbreak began in December 2022, officials say.
With 14,000 suspected cases, this outbreak is far worse than the last one in 2011 when 98 cases were reported.
Kano state, in northern Nigeria, is the epicentre, recording more than 500 deaths, but there has been a recent decline in active cases.
Diphtheria is highly contagious and affects the nose and throat.
It can also cause ulcers on the skin.
It is spread by coughs and sneezes or through close contact with someone who is infected, and in serious cases can be fatal.
It is preventable through vaccines, but many of the children who have died in Nigeria were unvaccinated, said Dr Faisal Shuaib, the head of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency.
During a visit to a diphtheria isolation centre in Kano city on Wednesday, he added: "Witnessing the young children suffering from this entirely preventable disease at the centre today was profoundly heart-wrenching".
The death toll has risen since 24 September, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) reported 453 fatalities, and 11,587 suspected cases.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said the fatality and infection rate may be higher due to low testing and the failure by some patients to report their symptoms.
But Dr Shuaib said that measures, including contact tracing, have contributed to a decline in the number of cases.
The outbreak has hit 19 of Nigeria's 36 states as well as the federal capital, Abuja.
The worst-affected states are all in the north - Kano, Yobe, Katsina, Borno, Jigawa and Kaduna.
Health authorities are rallying parents with unvaccinated or partly vaccinated children to get them immunised, insisting that immunisation is the most powerful way of controlling the ongoing outbreak.
The WHO said that only 57% of Nigerians are immunised with the pentavalent vaccine, which protects against five life-threatening diseases, including diphtheria.
Nigeria must increase vaccinations to cover at least 80% of the population to prevent future diphtheria outbreaks, it added.
The last major outbreak in the country was in 2011, when 21 people died and 98 were infected in Borno state, the WHO said.
By Gloria Aradi, BBC
Related story: Video - Nigeria confirms diphtheria outbreak
Wednesday, October 11, 2023
Gunmen in Nigeria kidnapped four people from a house in the university town of Keffi, in central Nasarawa state, police said on Tuesday.
Kidnapping for ransom is rife in Nigeria, but attacks have mostly been in the northwest region where armed men have targeted university students.
Nasarawa police spokesperson Rahman Nansel said police received a distress call at about 0155 GMT on Tuesday after armed men invaded a house in Angwan Kaare community and responded with the military, but the kidnappers had already fled with their victims.
"The Commissioner of Police has ordered a manhunt for the culprits with a view to rescue the four victims unhurt," Nansel said in a statement.
Keffi is about 70 km (43 miles) east of Abuja, the Nigerian capital.
Kidnapping for ransom is part of widespread insecurity in Nigeria. Islamist insurgents still carry out deadly attacks in the northeast, violent clashes between herders and farmers continue to claim lives in the central region, and separatists attack security forces in the southeast.
By Ahmed Kingimi, Reuters
Related stories: Video - Five university students kidnapped in northern Nigeria
Allegations that President Tinubu's certificates were faked went viral on social media following the release by Chicago State University (CSU) of his academic records last week.
We have looked at some of the most widely circulated claims.
The release of the president's academic documents is the culmination of a judicial case filed in August by one of his main rivals in February's presidential election, Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Mr Abubakar was hoping to have the victor disqualified after accusing him of falsifying the CSU diploma of Bachelor of Science in Business Administration awarded in 1979 that he submitted to the electoral authority (Inec).
To obtain evidence for his case in Nigeria, Mr Abubakar approached a US court in August, requesting it to compel CSU to release Mr Tinubu's academic records through a process called discovery, where the parties exchange information including documents ahead of a trial.
Mr Tinubu's lawyers opposed the discovery application, citing privacy concerns, but the US court decided it should proceed.
The documents requested by Mr Abubakar were:
A copy of any diploma issued by CSU in 1979
A copy of the diploma CSU gave to Mr Tinubu in 1979
Copies of diplomas with the same font, seal, signatures, and wording awarded to other students that are similar to what CSU awarded to Mr Tinubu in 1979
Documents from CSU that were certified by Jamar Orr, who was then a staff member of CSU, in the 12 months from 1 August 2022
In response to request one, CSU submitted seven diplomas covering different disciplines with the names of the students redacted. According to the university's registrar, these diplomas had not been collected by the students.
In response to request two, CSU stated that it could not find the diploma they issued to Mr Tinubu in 1979, because they do not keep copies of diplomas already collected by students.
In response to request three, CSU stated that it produced for Mr Tinubu a replacement diploma dated 27 June 1979. It also released diplomas awarded to other students that bore similar font, seal, signatures and wordings as Mr Tinubu's diplomas.
In response to request four, CSU submitted other academic documents initially attested to and released by Mr Orr.
In line with the judge's ruling, Mr Abubakar's lawyer Angela Liu last week questioned Caleb Westberg, CSU's current registrar, in a deposition.
The BBC was given access to the deposition transcript by Mr Abubakar's spokesperson, Phrank Shaibu.
Some social media users in Nigeria allege that the deposition and the diplomas released by CSU confirm that the diploma submitted to Inec by Mr Tinubu was forged. This claim was also repeated by one of Mr Abubakar's lawyers, Kalu Kalu, at a press conference last week.
We found there was no evidence to support this claim.
The CSU released several diplomas issued between 1979 and 2003. We analysed all of them.
There are three different diplomas for Mr Tinubu that we refer to throughout our analysis:
The original one, from 1979, which he has said in the past was lost when he went into exile in the 1990s
The second one, that he submitted to Inec - supposedly a replacement diploma from CSU (it is similar to diplomas issued by CSU in the 1990s)
Additionally, CSU holds another replacement diploma for Mr Tinubu that they say is probably from the early 2000s that he never collected
The allegations on social media are based on a comparison between the document Mr Tinubu submitted to Inec and the 1979 diplomas released by CSU.
During Mr Westberg's deposition, Mr Atiku's lawyer focused on the copy of the diploma President Tinubu handed to the electoral commission and suggested that it was unlike any of the diplomas released by CSU.
However, while Mr Westberg agreed with Ms Liu that the diploma in question does not look like the samples from 1979, he stated that the certificate actually looks like three of the diplomas CSU released to Mr Abubakar. Our analysis confirms this.
It turns out that the discrepancy in the appearance of the diploma is down to it having been re-issued in the 1990s.
Mr Westberg said the template of CSU's diploma has changed several times over the years. He said any request for a new diploma would resemble the current template at that time, no matter when the student graduated.
As such, if Mr Tinubu had reordered his diploma in the late 1990s, what he would have been given would look like what was obtainable then.
Three of the diplomas dating from the 1990s that CSU submitted were similar to Mr Tinubu's.
One of them, which bears the date 18 December 1998, is identical (aside from the names, class of degree, and dates) to the diploma Mr Tinubu handed over to Inec.
Mr Westberg also stated that CSU does not keep notes of when a graduate asks for the reissuing of a diploma and therefore Mr Tinubu's request for a copy of the diploma was not recorded.
The copy he gave to the election commission had part of the university logo missing, which Mr Westberg said in his deposition was possibly "cut off" when it was photocopied.
We analysed the diploma. It appears in fact that its bottom part was not included during the photocopy process.
The BBC reached out to Mr Tinubu's team to get a copy of the diploma in question. They sent what they said was the only existing copy of the diploma. It is a black and white photocopy identical to what was submitted to Inec.
Another claim, made by a fact-checking organisation in Nigeria, was that the diploma Mr Tinubu submitted was not from CSU as its diplomas do not include the phrase "with honors" under the degree name.
But the BBC found that while this was not reflected in the other diplomas released by CSU, it does appears in Mr Tinubu's diploma issued in the early 2000s, which was authenticated by Mr Westberg during his deposition.
It has the words "with honors" - a match with the diploma with the same detail submitted by the president to Inec.
Mr Westberg said that the school could authenticate this particular diploma because it was still in its possession as it was never picked up.
Not every student graduates from university with honours. Mr Tinubu, as attested to by CSU in several court documents seen by the BBC, did graduate from CSU with honours.
The BBC contacted CSU with questions about its diplomas and it referred us to a statement that read in part: "We are confident and always have been in the veracity and integrity of our records regarding Tinubu's attendance and completion of graduation requirements".
Another allegation making the rounds on social media is that the person who attended CSU with the name Bola A Tinubu is female.
Mr Tinubu attended Southwest College (now known as Richard J. Daley College) before transferring to CSU in 1976. In Southwest's transcript, there is an "F" (for "female") in the column where gender is indicated, leading to claims that it was a woman who attended the school and Mr Tinubu "stole her identity". Mr Atiku's lawyer, Mr Kalu, alluded to this in a press conference last week.
However, in his deposition, Mr Westberg stressed that there was no confusion about the gender of the person who attended CSU as he was a male named Bola A Tinubu. He said the university used other factors other than the name to authenticate the student's identity.
According to him, the Social Security Number (SSN) in the transcript from Southwest College matches what it has in other documents in which the student's gender is clearly marked as male.
However, the released documents did raise questions about Mr Tinubu's birth date and the secondary school he attended.
One of the documents stated that Mr Tinubu attended Government College Lagos in 1970. However, information available on the school website stated that it was only founded in 1974.
Aside from the gender discrepancy, the birth dates in some of the released documents differ from the official birth date of President Tinubu, which is 29 March 1952.
His transcript from CSU has his date of birth as 29 March 1954. His undergraduate admissions application form has his date of birth as 29 March 1955.
Mr Atiku's lawyer said during Mr Westberg's deposition that on the forms submitted to Inec, Mr Tinubu had given his date of birth as 29 March 1952.
Mr Westberg, during cross-examination, responded that the discrepancies could have been due to human error.
We contacted Mr Tinubu's team for comment about these discrepancies and a spokesperson directed us instead to his party - the All Progressives Congress. We then contacted Mr Tinubu's presidential campaign spokesperson Festus Keyamo, who is also a minister in the government. He did not take our calls or respond to our text and WhatsApp messages.
We also sent questions to Mr Abubakar's team. They did not respond.
By Chiagozie Nwonwu & Fauziyya Tukur & Olaronke Alo, BBC
Related story: Opposition claims president Tinubu forged diploma
Tuesday, October 10, 2023
A Nigerian court sentenced Monday a police officer to death for shooting and killing a lawyer in the commercial hub of Lagos. Many applauded the rare sentence as a punitive measure against rampant cases of police abuse.
After nearly a year, Justice Ibironke Harrison of the Lagos High Court found police officer Drambi Vandi guilty of one count of murder of Bolanle Raheem, who was pregnant at the time when she was shot dead Christmas Day last year. Local reports said Raheem was in her early forties.
Vandi shot the lawyer after her vehicle in the town of Ajah in Lagos failed to stop at a checkpoint, local media reported at the time.
He had denied opening fire at Raheem, but one of his colleagues who testified during the hearing confirmed hearing the gunshot. Vandi has a right to appeal the ruling.
“You will be hanged by the neck till you are dead,” the judge told the police officer who had pleaded not guilty.
The death sentence was lauded by many in Africa’s most populous country where allegations of abuse and extrajudicial killings against the police are rife. On social media, people hoped the sentence would send a warning signal to erring police officers who often evade justice.
Death sentences in Nigeria are common but no police officer has received such sentence in the country in many years.
Nigeria has thousands of pending death sentences. Executions rarely go into effect as they require approvals by powerful state governors. Only two warrants for death sentences were carried out since 1999, according to Inibehe Effiong, a Nigerian human rights lawyer.
There were questions about whether the Lagos Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu would approve the police officer’s execution.
Authorities have been under increasing pressure to hold security forces accountable after the deadly nationwide protests against police brutality in 2020.
While many in Nigeria praised the death sentence, some argued it should be abolished.
"The death penalty is inhumane, amounts to vengeance and prone to error. There is no evidence that it has achieved the objective of creating a deterrence to crime," said Okechukwu Nwanguma, who leads the Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre which advocates for police reforms in Nigeria.
By Chinedu Asadu, AP
Nigeria's national oil firm NNPC Ltd has again become the sole importer of petrol because local private firms are unable to obtain foreign currency, its chief executive said on Monday, four months after imports were opened up to private players.
Mele Kyari also said the government had not reintroduced a decades-old petrol subsidy scrapped at the end of May, despite concerns from investors of a de facto return as pump prices have not moved since July, despite a more than 30% rise in oil prices.
Africa's largest oil exporter, Nigeria, imports nearly all its fuel as it does not refine nearly enough to meet the demand of its 200 million citizens. In recent years, it has swapped crude for fuel, depriving it of a source of U.S. dollars.
Opening up petrol imports to the private sector was part of reforms by President Bola Tinubu to wean the country off fuel subsidies.
Some fuel companies began imports in July but Kyari told an energy conference that they were now struggling to get foreign currencies to import petrol, known as premium motor spirit (PMS).
"We are the only company importing PMS into the country," he said.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Tinubu, Kyari dismissed the concerns that a partial fuel subsidy had been restored.
"We are recovering our full cost from the products that we import. No subsidy whatsoever," he said.
Petrol is widely used by households and small businesses to power generators because millions of Nigerians are not connected to the national electricity grid.
Nigeria is in the grips of foreign currency shortages, which have seen the naira weaken to record lows on the parallel market. The new central bank governor has said that policymakers faced a nearly $7 billion backlog in foreign exchange demand.
By MacDonald Dzirutwe, Reuters
Monday, October 9, 2023
Nigeria has sounded the alarm over an increasing number of crude oil thefts. Africa's largest crude producer struggles to meet its 1.8-million-barrels-per-day quota set by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries(OPEC). The crisis is hurting government finances amid an economic downturn in Africa's most populous nation.
Related story: Blast at illegal oil refinery leaves at least 18 dead
Friday, October 6, 2023
Unidentified gunmen kidnapped five female university students in the northwestern state of Katsina, Nigeria on Wednesday. The incident occurred in the early hours at the Federal University in Dutsin-Ma town.
Related stories: 14 students abducted in Zamfara, Nigeria rescued
Nigeria’s main opposition said Thursday it will present new evidence to support its court challenge seeking to overturn this year's presidential election, saying it can show the declared winner provided faked academic credentials to authorities.
President Bola Tinubu forged a diploma from an American university that he presented to Nigeria’s election commission before the February vote and should be removed from office, first runner-up Atiku Abubakar and his lawyer alleged in a briefing with reporters. They cited records obtained from the university in a U.S. court hearing and shared with The Associated Press.
Abubakar previously has argued Tinubu should not be president because the election commission did not follow due process in announcing the winner and Tinubu was not qualified to run, citing allegations of dual citizenship and of a criminal indictment in the United States.
Tinubu has denied those claims. He did not comment on the new allegation, but his spokesman denied it. “A man cannot forge the academic records he possesses,” Temitope Ajayi, Tinubu’s media aide, wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.
The challenge is being closely watched by many Nigerians following a divisive election that saw Tinubu win with less than 50% of the votes, a first in Nigeria’s history.
Abubakar is one of three candidates who are in court seeking to void Tinubu’s election victory.
Kalu Kalu, Abubakar’s lawyer, said they are set to present “fresh evidence” in the case pending before Nigeria's Supreme Court.
“A party at fault cannot be allowed to enjoy the fruit of his illegality,” Kalu said.
No presidential election in Nigeria has ever been voided.
In advancing his court challenge, Abubakar secured an order from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois directing Chicago State University, which Tinubu attended, to release his academic records.
In a transcript of a deposition this week given to AP by Abubakar’s lawyers, and which has not been made available by the court, Caleb Westberg, registrar of the university, confirmed the school “has the original record of Bola Tinubu." But he said he could not confirm the authenticity of the diploma that the Nigerian leader presented to the election commission indicating he graduated in 1979.
“We’re not qualified to verify whether this document (the diploma) is authentic, given that it is not in our possession,” Westberg said.
Asked to confirm that the school “has no record of issuing” the diploma in question, Westberg responded, "Correct."
Alexandre de Gramont, who represented Abubakar in U.S. court, said in a statement that the team got “virtually everything we sought” after a “hard-fought battle to obtain the educational records … which Mr. Tinubu’s lawyers vigorously opposed at every step.”
It is not the first time that a Nigerian leader has been accused of forgery. Muhammadu Buhari, Tinubu’s predecessor, faced similar allegations though they were never proven to be true.
Thursday, October 5, 2023
The Head of Information and Public Affair at the Nigeria Labour Congress Benson Upah expounds on the main elements in the agreement between Nigerian government and the labour union following the suspension of the countrywide strike.
The planned nationwide strike was averted after intense negotiations between labour unions and the government. The unions halted the strike action for 30 days, after the government agreed to put measures in place to ease the current economic hardship.
Related story: Labour unions of Nigeria suspend indefinite strike
Gunmen in Nigeria kidnapped five female students from a university in the northwestern Katsina state on Wednesday, the police said, the second such abduction involving students in the region within a month.
Kidnapping for ransom by armed gangs is rife in northwest Nigeria due to high levels of poverty, unemployment and the proliferation of illegal firearms.
Katsina police spokesperson Abubakar Sadiq, in a statement, said the incident occurred early on Wednesday at the Federal University in Dutsin-Ma town.
The police have "deployed all its tactical and operational assets with a view to rescuing the victims unhurt", he said, adding one suspect is already in custody.
On Sept. 22, at least 24 female students were abducted from their hostel at the Federal University Gusau, in Zamfara state. Sixteen of them were freed three days later following a rescue operation by security forces.
By Ahmed Kingimi, Reuters
Related stories: 14 students abducted in Zamfara, Nigeria rescued
Wednesday, October 4, 2023
Nearly 40 people are missing and presumed to have drowned in Nigeria after a passenger boat capsized in strong currents, according to a local official. The Monday accident took place in the northwestern state of Kebbi. Authorities are searching for the passengers with the help of local divers.
At least 18 people, including a pregnant woman, have died in southern Nigeria when an illegal oil refinery exploded into flames, a security official and residents said.
The blaze took place early on Monday in Rivers State’s Emohua district when a homemade refinery ignited a nearby oil reservoir, leaving victims severely burned, according to a report by AFP news agency on Tuesday.
“The fire outbreak started at a very late hour … 18 victims were burnt beyond recognition while 25 injured persons were rescued,” said Olufemi Ayodele, spokesman for the local Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.
“Most of the victims were youths … a pregnant woman and a young lady getting ready for her marriage ceremony next month were all casualties,” he said.
In another report, the Reuters news agency, citing a local Ibaa community leader, said as many as 37 people died in the blaze.
“Thirty-five people were caught in the fire. Two people who were lucky to escape also died this morning [Tuesday] in hospital,” Rufus Welekem, the head of security in the community, told Reuters.
Illegal refining is common in the oil-rich Niger Delta region of Nigeria as impoverished locals tap pipelines to make fuel to sell for a profit. The practice, which can be as basic as boiling crude oil in drums to extract fuel, is often deadly.
Nigeria – an OPEC member and one of Africa’s largest petroleum producers – has for years tried to clamp down on illegal crude refineries, with little success, in part because powerfully connected politicians and security officials are involved, local environmental groups say.
Crude oil theft, pipeline vandalism and legal battles over oil spills are pushing oil majors operating in Nigeria to sell their onshore and shallow water assets to concentrate on deepwater operations.
Related stories: Explosion at Nigerian illegal oil refinery kills more than 100
Tuesday, October 3, 2023
The tanker overturned along the Sapele-Benin road on Sunday night causing a spillage. It's understood that locals, mostly young people, flocked to the scene to fill containers with the spilled fuel, despite warnings. A spark then ignited a fire causing the deadly explosion.
Related stories: Fuel tanker explosion in Nigeria kills dozens
Nigeria's biggest labour federations on Monday said they were suspending an indefinite strike that was set to begin on Tuesday after last minute talks with President Bola Tinubu's government, which had warned that the action could damage the economy.
Tinubu is under pressure to ease economic hardships after he scrapped a decades-old petrol subsidy and allowed the naira currency to depreciate, leading to soaring prices in Africa's biggest economy and major oil producer.
The government agreed a temporary wage increase for government workers, a three-month income subsidy for 15 million poor households and a pause in a value-added tax on diesel, among several concessions to prevent the strike.
In return, unions will suspend the strike for 30 days while negotiations continue, including on a new minimum wage for all Nigerian workers.
"After 30 days if these issues are not implemented ... it will show bad faith on the side of government," Joe Ajaero, the leader of Nigeria Labour Congress, the country's largest federation, told reporters.
By Felix Onuah, Reuters