Thursday, May 30, 2024

Video - Nigerian authorities spear head campaign against cervical cancer

Despite cervical cancer being preventable and treatable, the disease remains a major killer in Nigeria. Authorities are hoping an ongoing massive vaccination program against the HPV virus, which can cause the cancer, will save lives.


Related story: Video - Nigeria risks polio resurgence as millions of children are unvaccinated


Poll rates Tinubu’s performance as abysmal in first year as President

In his inaugural address one year ago, President Bola Tinubu championed unity and promised to remodel the economy to bring about growth and development through job creation, food security and ending extreme poverty.

As Mr Tinubu begins his second year as president, most Nigerians score him very low on the economy, according to results from a new national Africa Polling Institute (API) poll.

At least 84 per cent of respondents expressed sadness with the current state of affairs in the country under Mr Tinubu while 81 per cent said that the president is driving the country in the wrong direction.

One such Nigerian dissatisfied with Mr Tinubu’s performance is Abubakar Ibrahim, a development worker in the Nigerian capital and former supporter of the president.

Mr Ibrahim told PREMIUM TIMES that he was no longer happy to have voted for Mr Tinubu and remains sceptical of how much he can achieve. Mr Ibrahim, 31, sees Mr Tinubu’s first year as one of “ups and downs.”

“The biggest problem that continues to face us is inflation and in turn the cost of living crisis. Unfortunately, these are problems induced by the president’s policies,” Mr Ibrahim said.

The latest API national survey brings to light a stark reality, said Bell Ihua, the API’s executive director. “Hunger, poverty, and dissatisfaction are the harsh realities of President Bola Tinubu’s one year in office.”

In terms of the biggest challenges facing the country under Tinubu’s stewardship, 36 per cent of respondents said hunger, 28 per cent identified with inability to meet basic needs and 13 per cent said unemployment. This is followed by heightened insecurity (9 per cent) and poor electricity supply (5 per cent).

Similarly, about 74 per cent of respondents affirmed that their economic situation has deteriorated over the last year, compared to 20 per cent who said their economic situation had remained the same and a meagre 5 per cent who said it had improved.

“The impact of the cost of living crisis we are in is weighing heavily on me,” Muhammad Sani, a resident of Kano State, told PREMIUM TIMES. “The prices of goods have more than doubled under this administration. There are basic things we can’t afford now as a family and that has impacted our living standard negatively.”

“The biggest problem that continues to face us is inflation and in turn the cost of living crisis. Unfortunately, these are problems induced by the president’s policies,” Mr Ibrahim said.

The latest API national survey brings to light a stark reality, said Bell Ihua, the API’s executive director. “Hunger, poverty, and dissatisfaction are the harsh realities of President Bola Tinubu’s one year in office.”

In terms of the biggest challenges facing the country under Tinubu’s stewardship, 36 per cent of respondents said hunger, 28 per cent identified with inability to meet basic needs and 13 per cent said unemployment. This is followed by heightened insecurity (9 per cent) and poor electricity supply (5 per cent).

Similarly, about 74 per cent of respondents affirmed that their economic situation has deteriorated over the last year, compared to 20 per cent who said their economic situation had remained the same and a meagre 5 per cent who said it had improved.

“The impact of the cost of living crisis we are in is weighing heavily on me,” Muhammad Sani, a resident of Kano State, told PREMIUM TIMES. “The prices of goods have more than doubled under this administration. There are basic things we can’t afford now as a family and that has impacted our living standard negatively.”

By Kabir Yusuf, Premium Times

Rushed reversion to old national anthem of Nigeria met with incredulity

Nigeria has reverted to a national anthem it dropped nearly 50 years ago after lawmakers replaced the current one, prompting widespread criticism over the lack of public consultation on the change.

The country’s president, Bola Tinubu, confirmed the law on Wednesday, a day after it was approved by both chambers of Nigeria’s national assembly, which is dominated by the governing party. The federal lawmakers introduced and passed the bill in less than a week – an unusually fast process for important bills that usually take weeks or months to be considered.

Nigeria’s economy has plunged during Tinubu’s first year in office, with inflation reaching a 28-year high of 33.2%, and the change of anthem was dismissed by some as a cynical distraction from an escalating economic crisis.

The reintroduced anthem was played publicly for the first time at a legislative session attended by Tinubu. Titled Nigeria, We Hail Thee, it was introduced in 1960 when Nigeria gained independence from Britain. It was written by Lillian Jean Williams, a British expatriate.

It was replaced in 1978 by Arise, O Compatriots under the military government of Olusegun Obasanjo. That anthem was composed at a time when the country was reeling from a deadly civil war and calls on Nigerians to “serve our fatherland with love and strength” and not to let “the labour of our heroes past [be] in vain”.

The change was met with incredulity by some Nigerians as the country reels from the economic crisis and deteriorating security.

“It is a waste of time,” said Cheta Nwanze, lead partner at SBM Intelligence. “What is more important are inflation and security problems: that is what the government should squarely be looking at.”

Oby Ezekwesili, a former education minister and presidential candidate, said the law showed that the country’s political class did not care about the public interest.

“In a 21st century Nigeria, the country’s political class found a colonial national anthem that has pejorative words like ‘native land’ and ‘tribes’ to be admirable enough to foist on our citizens without their consent,” Ezekwesili posted on X.

Supporters of the new anthem argued it was wrong for the country to use an anthem introduced by the military.

“Anthems are ideological recitations that help the people to be more focused. It was a very sad development for the military to have changed the anthem,” said the public affairs analyst Frank Tietie.

The Guardian

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

‘Nigerian scammer’ takes credit for bizarre Graceland auction scare

A self-described scammer based in Nigeria has taken credit for a bizarre, failed attempt to auction off Elvis’ iconic Graceland property.

Earlier this month, a mysterious company with little paper trail, Naussany Investments and Private Lending, contacted Promenade Trust, which controls the Memphis estate, claiming it owed millions for failing to repay a loan.

Riley Keough, Elvis’ granddaughter who inherited Graceland after her mother Lisa Marie Presley died last year, sued Naussany alleging its documents were falsified. She also asked a judge to block the Graceland auction. The judge granted her request, putting a pause on the sale, one day before it was set to be finalized.

On Tuesday, the apparent perpertrator of the scheme was revealed when The New York Times reported that an individual based in Nigeria with a Naussany-associated email address contacted them and took credit for it.

The individual said he and his associates typically scam the vulnerable and elderly. The Times also reported that the email was written in Luganda, a language spoken in Uganda. “We figure out how to steal,” the individual told The Times. “That’s what we do.”

Experts also told the Associated Press that scammers often target people’s assets after they’re dead. “It’s very difficult for someone to say, ‘Well, no, I didn’t take out this loan, I didn’t sign these papers,’ when they’re dead,” Mark Sunderman, a University of Memphis real estate professor, told the AP.

The Independent was unable to verify specific details about Naussany Investments and Private Lending due to a lack of public records and unreliable contact information listed online.

No representative for the company appeared at a recent hearing over Graceland, however Naussany filed court papers denying Ms Keough’s allegations and asked the judge for more time to prepare a defense in the case, the Times reports.

Nikos Passas, a Northeastern University criminology and criminal justice professor, also told the AP the scammers likely knew that successfully auctioning off Graceland was impossible.

“The chance of succeeding in what they were trying to do — that is, to get the property auctioned off and get the proceeds and then use the money — doesn’t seem to be the actual intent, unless they are incredibly stupid,” Dr Passas said. “So, the question is then, ‘What was the intent, and who was behind it?’”

By Katie Hawkinson, Independent

Related story: Two arrested in Nigeria for sextortion after Australian boy's suicide

At least 160 kidnapped in hours-long deadly raid in Nigeria

Ten people were killed and 160 others, including children, were abducted during a raid by suspected Boko Haram militants on a remote village in north-central Nigeria, a local official told CNN on Monday.

The attack occurred in Kuchi village, Munya district, in Niger state, beginning at about 5:30 p.m. on Friday and lasting until 4:00 a.m. Saturday, according to district official Aminu Abdulhamid Najume.

Niger state, which borders Nigeria's capital Abuja, has experienced repeated kidnappings for ransom by armed groups, including mass abductions, in recent years.

Najume reported that about 300 gunmen arrived on motorbikes and stayed for several hours, making themselves at home before leaving with the abductees. "They made a fire to curb the cold because it was raining throughout that day," Najume said. "They cooked and made tea; they made Indomie (instant noodles) and spaghetti."

Some of those killed were members of a local vigilante group who confronted the attackers but were overpowered. Najume added that security forces had not yet started rescue operations. "The police visited Kuchi yesterday [Sunday] and left, nothing else."

A spokesperson for the Niger State Police Command did not respond to CNN's request for comment.

"This is not the first or second time Kuchi village has been attacked. This is the fifth time," Najume said, noting that the area frequently suffers from kidnappings for ransom. The kidnappers have not yet made any demands regarding the latest abduction, he said.

Amnesty International said in a post on social media platform X on Sunday that it was "deeply concerned by the abduction," criticizing Nigerian authorities for leaving "rural communities at the mercy of gunmen."

"Since 2021, gunmen have been consistently attacking Kuchi village and raping women and girls in their matrimonial homes," the agency stated.

"The invasion of the village by the gunmen is yet another indication of the Nigerian authorities' utter failure to protect lives," Amnesty added.

Nigeria's security forces have struggled for years to control insurgent groups in the north of the country.

The Kuchi abduction comes two months after 21 people, including a newlywed, were killed when gunmen described locally as 'bandits' stormed a market in Rafi, another affected district in Niger.

At least 137 schoolchildren were kidnapped(opens in a new tab) earlier in March in Niger's neighbouring Kaduna state but were later released after the kidnappers made an initial demand of 1 billion naira (over US$675,000) and threatened to kill them all if their demands were not met. 

By Nimi Princewill, CNN

Related stories: Video - Over 350 abductees rescued in Nigeria’s Borno state

Video - Gunmen abduct over 100 people in Zamfara state, Nigeria

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Video - Nigeria facing a decline in foreign remittances

Insecurity at home appears to be one factor deterring Nigerians abroad from sending money back to the country. The decline in foreign exchange remittances affects the country's ability to import goods and services and could lead to further inflation. But authorities in the country say they are tackling the challenges.


Nigerian Army reopens Banex Plaza in Abuja

The Nigerian Army has announced the reopening of the popular Banex Plaza in Abuja after about one week it was shut down.

Army spokesperson, Onyema Nwachukwu, a major general, said this in a statement on Monday.

PREMIUM TIMES reported how the army shut down Banex following a mob attack on its personnel on Saturday 18 May.

Mr Nwachukwu said the reopening of the plaza followed a high-level meeting held in the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and attended by the FCT Commissioner of Police, FCT Director of the State Security Services, the Leadership and Management of Banex Plaza, a representative from the Directorate of Abuja Environmental Protection Board, and the National Chairman of the Mobile Phone Traders Association.

He said the meeting was convened “to identify and apprehend the perpetrators and ensure the continued security of the FCT.”

He said some resolutions were reached at the meeting among which was the immediate reopening of Banex Plaza to the public.

Mr Nwachukwu said it was also resolved that Shop C93 be locked up with immediate effect while the perpetrators of the mob attack on soldiers be arrested.

He also said the army “will thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding the presence of its personnel at the plaza and the subsequent attack.”

Read the full statement by the Nigerian Army


The Nigerian Army wishes to provide latest update on the recent unfortunate event involving an unprovoked attack by unidentified hoodlums on Nigerian Army personnel at Banex Plaza, Wuse, Abuja, which occurred on Saturday 18 May 2024, leading to the closure of the Plaza on Sunday 19 May 2024.

In response to this incident, a high-level meeting was convened in the Office of the National Security Adviser including the Principal General Staff Officer to the NSA, Commissioner of Police FCT, the FCT Director of the Department of State Services, the Leadership and Management of Banex Plaza, a Representative from the Directorate of Abuja Environmental Protection Board, and the National Chairman of the Mobile Phone Traders Association. The primary objective of this meeting was to identify and apprehend the perpetrators and ensure the continued security of the Federal Capital Territory.

The following resolutions were agreed upon:

a. Immediate reopening of Banex Plaza: Banex Plaza will be reopened immediately to the public.

b. Closure of Shop C93: The leadership of Banex Plaza is instructed to lock up Shop C93 with immediate effect.

c. Arrest of Perpetrators: The owners of the shop who orchestrated the mob attack on the soldiers are to be arrested and handed over to the Nigerian Police.

d. Vigilance by Market Leaders: Market leaders are to remain vigilant and report any remaining perpetrators to the authorities.

Furthermore, the two individuals already arrested have been handed over to the headquarters of the Nigerian Army Corps of Military Police for further action.

The Nigerian Army will also thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding the presence of its personnel at the plaza and the subsequent attack.

It must be reiterated that acts of violence against military personnel are not only condemnable but also pose a significant threat to national security and public order. We therefore urge members of the public to exercise caution and restraint when interacting with military personnel and other security operatives, especially when they are in uniform. There are established channels for reporting grievances or misconduct by personnel to the appropriate authorities. It is imperative that these channels are utilized to maintain order and respect for those who serve and protect our nation.

The Nigerian Army remains committed to ensuring the safety and security of all citizens and will continue to work diligently to prevent such incidents in the future.


Major General

Director Army Public Relations

27 May 2024.

By Popoola Ademola, Premium Times

Rising cost of sanitary pads in Nigeria impedes menstrual hygiene

Every month, Sadiya Maikasuwa, 40, is reminded that the cost of living crisis for her means more than high food prices. She now spends double what she used to on sanitary pads — a monthly expense she must prepare for.

Until she started using sanitary pads some years ago, Ms Maikasuwa never worried about these expenses. The mother of three said she has now reverted to her old ways.

“I used sanitary pads before but it’s too expensive now. I have stopped using it,” she told PREMIUM TIMES at her neighbour’s home in Pegi, a community in Kuje Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Rising Cost of Living

In the past year, soaring inflation, resulting from fuel subsidy removal and the floating of the naira by President Bola Tinubu, has created an economic crisis that has Nigerians groaning. The prices of commodities have more than tripled and inflation rose for the 11th consecutive month.

In Aprilreaching the highest level in a generation at 33.69 per cent, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

Meanwhile, about half of the country’s population is silently battling that crisis on another front: the prices of sanitary pads have more than tripled in the past year, worsening period poverty among Nigerian women of reproductive age.

Statistics show that about 37 million Nigerian women and girls cannot afford essential menstrual hygiene products.

Though the Finance Bill signed by former President Muhammadu Buhari in 2020 exempted sanitary pads from Value Added Tax (VAT), it has hardly affected the product’s prices, increasing from an average of N450 in 2021 to N1,500 in 2024.

Nigeria has one of the highest costs of sanitary products, according to a study by PlushCare, a telehealth platform that provides virtual primary care appointments. For this research, the platform said it measured in local currencies, the cost of a one-month supply of tampons, sanitary pads, and ibuprofen medication at the cheapest available prices in 107 countries before converting prices to US dollars.

“We then compared this cost to the average local person’s monthly income to find the most and least affordable countries and US states to menstruate,” it added.

With more than 133 million Nigerians living below the poverty line, menstrual expenses risk taking a backseat in family budgeting, said Anikeade Funke-Treasure, the convener of Sanitary Pad Media Campaign. She said the high prices of food means families now have less disposable income to spend on items such as sanitary pads.

“When gari is selling for N80,000 per bag, ditto rice and beans, why would people not use the money set aside for pads and add to the ones with which they will buy gari and rice and pepper? Something has to give in,” she said in a virtual interview.

Settling for cheaper options

Zainab Muhammad, a 24-year-old student at a university in Sokoto State, North-west Nigeria, makes and sells snacks and confectionery, making between N1,000 and N3,000 profits daily, depending on orders. Yet, she is not immune to period poverty. Ms Muhammad said she has had to settle for a less expensive sanitary pad or use a less healthy alternative.

“When I don’t have enough money, I use what our parents used to use,” she said, referring to cuttings, adding it is an option she now explores more frequently.
Settling for cheaper options

Zainab Muhammad, a 24-year-old student at a university in Sokoto State, North-west Nigeria, makes and sells snacks and confectionery, making between N1,000 and N3,000 profits daily, depending on orders. Yet, she is not immune to period poverty. Ms Muhammad said she has had to settle for a less expensive sanitary pad or use a less healthy alternative.

“When I don’t have enough money, I use what our parents used to use,” she said, referring to cuttings, adding it is an option she now explores more frequently.

“Some will come to buy the other (more expensive) one and when they don’t have enough money for it, they just buy the other one,” he said.

Umar Hassan, a store owner at Wuse Market in Abuja, also said his customers opt for the less expensive products.

“Some people that used to buy Molped stopped buying it when it became expensive and they have switched to Softcare because it costs less,” he said.

How prices of sanitary pads rose

PREMIUM TIMES spoke with sellers of the products in the FCT, Enugu, Plateau, Lagos, and Sokoto states.

At the Wuse Market in Abuja, Rufai Ibrahim, a trader, said the prices have doubled in the last few months. He said Softcare sold for N1,000 last year but now costs N1,800. Always, another brand, which used to sell for between N700 and N800, now sells for N1,500, he said.

Mr Ibrahim said the smallest size of Molped increased from N500 to N1,000. The medium size increased from N1,000 to N2,000 and the biggest size from N1,500 to N3,000.

“Most of them doubled their prices,” he said, adding that his customers now buy less quantity than they used to.

This year, the price of Molped has increased at least two times, PREMIUM TIMES gathered.

The price of a bag containing 18 packs of sanitary pads sold for N11,250 (for Maxi thick) and N13,320 (Ultra soft) in February. Each of the packs contains seven to eight pieces of sanitary pads. The bag with eight packs (each with 32 pieces) sold for N16,640 (Maxi thick) and N20,240 (Ultra soft).

In March, the bag of 18 packs increased to N13,800 (Maxi thick) and N16,500 (Ultra soft). The bag of eight packs increased to N21,000 (Maxi thick) and N25,500 (Ultra soft).

In April, the price for a carton of Virony increased from N36,000 to N40,000, said Umar Hassan, a store owner at Wuse Market in Abuja.

He said a carton of Softcare increased from N31,000 to N35,500. Molped increased from N10,500 to N16,500. “It’s the most surprising one because it’s the smallest and they hiked the price so much,” he said.

He added that the smaller carton of Softcare increased from N9,800 to N11,500.

In Sokoto State, Armiya’u Aliyu, a store owner, said the price of Molped recently increased from N500 to N750 and Softcare from N400 to N650.

Mr Kabara, a store owner in Jos, said the price of Virony increased from N1,200 to N2,000.

Reusable pads to the rescue

Faced with the rising prices, some women told PREMIUM TIMES that they have abandoned disposable sanitary pads.

Safiya (not real name), a broadcast journalist, said reusable pads have offered her freedom from the constant expenses of sanitary pads.

“Well, it is getting ridiculous. The price you heard of today differs from that of tomorrow, so I opted for reusable pads in the market,” she said.

“Now, I buy reusable pads instead and I am okay with it. …though washing it can be somehow, but we move.”

Also, Ubaida Abubakar, 35, said she started using reusable pads after it was distributed to her daughter in school. “When you use it, you can wash it, dry it in the sun, and reuse it next time,” she said.

Ms Funke-Treasure said reusable pads are one of the ways to solve the issues of period poverty. She said her not-for-profit has also adopted the distribution of reusable sanitary pads to tackle period poverty in both urban and rural areas.

“The disposable ones you use and discard. The reusable ones you use, wash, sun-dry, and then use again. So you don’t have that repeated purchases,” she said.

Martha (not real name) said she now uses the sanitary pads for longer hours than she used to, changing it less frequently to reduce the number she uses.

“Because of the availability of the pads, I used to change like three to four times but now I find myself changing only twice a day,” she said.

Charity Israel said she experiences ‘heavy flow,’ which means she has to change the sanitary pads more frequently. She uses three packs whenever she’s on her period, she said. Ms Israel lamented that she now gets only one pack with the same amount she previously paid for the three packs she needs.

“(The hiked cost of sanitary pads) stresses me out, but I still struggle to get it,” Kasuwa Danlami said, echoing what some retailers told this newspaper.

Losing campaign against period poverty

When Ms Funke-Treasure started the media campaign against period poverty in 2020, sanitary pads were still selling for between N400 and N450 but many women couldn’t afford them.

“Fast forward to four years later, a pack now sells for N1,000, depending on the kind of brand that you’re looking for,” she said.

Ms Funke-Treasure, who produces radio dramas, podcasts, and a TV show about menstrual hygiene, worries that the inflationary effect on sanitary pads may reverse the gain recorded in the number of women adopting sanitary pads, and worsen menstrual hygiene for them.

“If we thought we were winning, with the campaign for proper menstrual hygiene for women, it looks like we may be losing that way given the rising cost of living in Nigeria now.”

She said the challenges faced by menstruating Nigerian women are multi-faceted. She, therefore, advocated a comprehensive policy by the Nigerian government.

“We’re saying to the government, please let’s have a comprehensive menstrual health policy that will make it possible for children or school girls to have free menstrual pads. That’s number one,” she said.

She added that the policy should also extend to practices including menstrual leave at places of work.

“Many women in the workplace suffer from endometriosis or fibroids from PMDD and all of those things they will not tell you because of the silence around period conversations,” she added.

By Qosim Suleiman, Premium Times 

Related story: Video - Babies born in Nigeria 80 times more likely to die before age 5

Nigeria government cracks down on illegal Lithium mining operations

Nigeria’s government is cracking down on illegal mining, making dozens of arrests of unlicensed miners since April for allegedly stealing the country’s lithium, a critical mineral used in batteries for electric vehicles, smartphones and power systems.

The recent arrests come as Nigeria seeks to regulate its mining operations of critical minerals, curb illegal activity and better benefit from its mineral resources. The clean energy transition, a shift away from coal, oil and gas and toward renewable energy and batteries has spiked global demand for lithium, tin and other minerals. Illegal mines are rife in the country’s fledging industry as corruption among regulatory officials is common and the mineral deposits are located in remote areas with minimal government presence. Officials say profits from illicit mining practices has helped arm militia groups in the north of the county.

In the most recent arrests in mid-May, a joint team of soldiers and police conducted a raid on a remote market in Kishi, in the country’s southwestern Oyo State. Locals said the market, once known for selling farm produce, has become a center for illicit trade in lithium mined in hard-to-reach areas. The three-day operation resulted in the arrest of 32 individuals, including two Chinese nationals, local workers and mineral traders, according to the state government and locals. Loads of lithium were also seized.

Jimoh Bioku, a Kishi community leader, said there had been “clandestine searches” for the mineral at remote sites tucked away in the bush in the past years by Chinese nationals before “they engaged people to dig for them and turned the market into a transit point.” The community was “particularly worried about the insecurity that usually follows illegal mining and that was why we reported to the state government,” he said.

China is the dominant player in the global EV supply chain, including in Nigeria where China-owned companies employ mostly vulnerable people leaving Nigeria’s far north — ravaged by conflicts and rapid desertification — to work in mining operations throughout the country. China’s nationals and companies are frequently in the spotlight for environmentally damaging practices, exploitative labor and illicit mining. There have been at least three cases of illegal mining arrests involving Chinese nationals in two months.

President Bola Tinubu has repeatedly blamed illegal mining for the worsening conflicts in the country’s north and asked the international community for help to stop the problem, which provides armed groups with the proceeds needed to sustain and arm themselves.

The Chinese embassy in Abuja did not respond to an Associated Press request for comment on the arrests and claims of illegal operations. But in a statement last year following a report by The Times of London alleging Chinese miners were bribing militants for access, the embassy said it “always encouraged and urged the Chinese companies and nationals in Nigeria to abide by the laws and regulations of Nigeria.”

Nigeria is emerging as a new source of lithium in Africa as the world’s largest producers, like Australia and Chile, are unable to fulfill the growing demand worldwide. But illegal activities thrive in Nigeria’s extractive sector, denying the government due revenues, said Emeka Okoro, whose Lagos-based SBM Intelligence firm has researched illicit mining and terrorism financing in northern Nigeria.

And the combination of conflict and climate change effects, such as once fertile land rapidly turning into useless arid sand in northern Nigeria, has produced a cheap workforce for mining sites.

The arrests of “both Chinese nationals and young Hausa boys from conflict-affected regions underscore a troubling pattern,” Okoro told the AP. “The socioeconomic strain stemming from conflict and the repercussions of climate change has given rise to a vulnerable demographic desperate for survival.”

To fight resource theft that causes losses of $9 billion to the government annually, according to the country’s extractive industry transparency watchdog, the West African nation has set up a 2,200-strong “corps of mining marshals” earlier in the year.

While existing law enforcement agencies are still combating the problem, the new corps is geared at curbing “the nefarious activities of illegal miners,” said Segun Tomori, spokesperson for the solid minerals ministry.

Before the Kishi raid, the mining corps arrested two trucks laden with lithium on the outskirts of the capital Abuja in April. Later that month, the corps raided a location in Karu, Nasarawa State, near Abuja, leading to the arrest of four Chinese nationals and the seizure of tons of lithium. Tomori said the cases are now in court.

On April 22, a federal court in Ilorin, in the north-central region, convicted two Chinese nationals for illegal mining and sentenced them to a one-year jail term, although with an option of a fine.

Nigeria has long neglected the solid minerals sector, which allows some communities like the northern-central town of Jos — which is tin-abundant — to depend on subsistence mining for their livelihood.

For those communities where livelihood is tied to mining, Tomori said the government is encouraging artisanal miners there to form cooperatives and operate legally.

By Taiwo Adebayo, AP

Related story: Nigerian Billionaire Plans to Dig Platinum Mine in Zimbabwe


Friday, May 24, 2024

Video - Farmers in Nigeria grapple with soaring transport costs

Transportation expenses in Nigeria have surged by over 200 percent in the past year, severely impacting the agricultural sector and escalating food prices, according to farmers and analysts.


Related story: Video - Soaring fuel prices in Nigeria threaten agricultural prosperity


Binance executive collapeses in court in Nigeria - Trial pushed to June

A Nigerian court on Thursday adjourned a money laundry trial against cryptocurrency exchange Binance and two of its executives to June 20 because one of the defendants was not well enough to stand trial.

Binance and executives Tigran Gambaryan, a U.S. citizen and head of financial crimes compliance, and British-Kenyan national Nadeem Anjarwalla, a regional manager for Africa, have been charged with laundering more than $35 million and engaging in specialised financial activities without a licence.

They have all pleaded not guilty to the money laundering charges.

Gambaryan, who has been in detention since February, is "very ill and requires comprehensive medical attention," his lawyer said in a letter to trial judge Emeka Nwite.

"The applicant broke down yesterday and the medical facility gave him intravenous treatment for malaria," the letter said.

Gambaryan, who also faces four counts of tax evasion alongside Binance and his colleague Anjarwalla, did not appear in court on Wednesday for that trial.

Judge Nwite ruled that Gambaryan should be treated at the hospital requested by his lawyer or any other recommended by prison authorities. He adjourned for the trial to continue on June 20 and 21.

Nigeria blamed Binance for its currency woes after cryptocurrency websites became the platforms of choice for trading the Nigerian naira as the country grappled with chronic dollar shortages and the currency fell to a record low. 

By Camillus Eboh, Reuters 

Related story: Nigeria rejects Binance CEO's bribery claim

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Video - Analysts say Nigeria not prepared for a shift from fossil-fuel vehicle



Nigeria bans smoking, ritual killings in movies, music videos, skits

The National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) Tuesday announced that it would henceforth restrict the depiction of smoking, ritual killings and money rituals in movies, music videos and skits.

NFVCB’s Executive Director, Shaibu Husseini, disclosed this in Enugu at a National Stakeholder Engagement on the “#Smoke-Free Nollywood” campaign, which was organised in collaboration with Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA).

Mr Husseini said the federal government would prohibit the depiction and glamorisation of smoking, violence, criminal acts, immoral acts, ritual killings and money rituals in Nollywood, Nigeria’s film industry.

He said the country faced a film “industry emergency requiring bold and ambitious actions” from parents, guardians, and stakeholders.

“Therefore, after a series of engagements, the NFVCB, in collaboration with CAPPA, decided to make Subsidiary Regulations to address smoking in movies since this aspect was not expressly spelt out in the extant Law.

“Today (Tuesday), I am delighted to announce to you that the Honourable Minister of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy, Hannatu Musa Musawa, under Section 65 of the NFVCB Act 2004, has approved the “Prohibition of Money Ritual, Ritual Killing, Tobacco, Tobacco Product, Nicotine Product Promotion, Glamorization, Display in Movies, Musical Videos and Skits” Regulations 2024. We have forwarded the approved copy to the Federal Ministry of Justice for Gazette,” the official said.

Mr Husseini explained that the goal was eradicating smoking in movies and skits.

He added, “We will work with the industry to see how we achieve zero, completely smoke-free Nollywood.”

He identified the tobacco industry’s tricks to promote smoking but expressed confidence that the government was prepared to counter them.

Mr Hussein said: “Of recent, we realised that tobacco industries hide under the banner of entertainment to flaunt smoking. The NFVCB is well prepared to take leadership in this regard and has planned and begun implementing innovative ways to achieve its mandate, especially at this crucial time when the National Assembly is insisting that there is “Need to Curb the Rising Spate of Cultism, Trafficking, Consumption of Illicit Drugs and other Substances among Youths in Nigeria”.

“The Board had been urged to undertake detailed enlightenment programs in secondary schools, tertiary institutions, local communities, faith groups and other institutions, as well as impose restrictions on home movies promoting social vices.”

Participants at the event included veteran and top filmmakers, producers, scriptwriters, marketers, and distributors from across the country, such as Zeb Ejiro, Fred Amata, Segun Arinze, Bolaji Amusan, and The Aneke Twins, as well as leaders of various guilds and associations in the Nigerian film industry.
Smoke-free Nollywood

The participants affirmed their commitment to a pro-health Nollywood by signing a pledge to ensure a smoke-free Nollywood.

CAPPA’s Executive Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi, stressed the need for stakeholders to work towards a Smoke-Free Nollywood in the interest of a healthy future for Nigerian children.

Mr Oluwafemi said, “Shockingly, studies have shown that smoking remains prevalent in Nigerian movies in contravention of the NTC Act and the Tobacco Control Regulations 2019, which explicitly prohibits tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorships in movies and entertainment. There is also a clear provision for warnings that should accompany any tobacco depiction necessary for “Historical Accuracy and Artistic Expression.”

“With the power to tell the Nigerian story, shape our future, and build a genuinely productive society, Nollywood ensures that the growing concerns of non-communicable diseases in Nigeria are addressed. Movies and music videos must reverse the role they play in painting smoking and tobacco use as an excellent way of life.

“With more than five million young Nigerians aged 15 years addicted to smoking cigarettes, our job, not just as movie practitioners and industry experts but also as parents, is to rise to the occasion and act right to protect our children and prepare for a smoke-free future. We are at a point where we must stop the glamorisation of smoking and, instead, promote healthy lifestyles.”

In-Country Coordinator of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK), Michael Olaniyan, who delivered a presentation titled “A Code of Practice for Smoking in the Entertainment and Plenary for Next Steps”, urged stakeholders to be careful not to breach the NTC Act while shooting movies.

He added that the Act demands the prohibition of avoidable/unnecessary smoking scenes, avoidable/unnecessary tobacco use of any kind, glamorisation of tobacco use, tobacco brand marking, tobacco product placements and sponsorship by tobacco companies, among others.


The Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC)’s Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Ali Nuhu, backed the move to rescue “vibrant and energetic youths from the claws of smoking-related and early health challenges.”

Mr Nuhu, who was represented by the NFC’s Director, Public Affairs, Brian Etuk, lamented that most Nigerian youths have become victims of circumstances having taken to smoking habits, with consequential health challenges and damage to body organs.

“We must, therefore, use the power of film/movie to help address the gradual but avoidable drifts that are ultimately life-threatening.”

Concurring, Enugu State Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Ugochi Madueke, noted the “incredible influence” Nollywood holds over public perceptions and behaviours and urged film industry professionals to promote public health by making movies smoke-free.

The Alliance Coordinator for the Nigeria Tobacco Control Alliance, Olawale Makanjuola, congratulated the NFVCB, adding, “We all know the role film, and most importantly, Nollywood, plays in our culture. For us, there is no better partner than the NFVCB and the creative industry in ensuring our screens remain smoke-free, thereby strengthening our public health infrastructures.”

By Jayne Augoye, Premium Times

Emirates set to resume flights to Nigeria after a two-year hiatus

Emirates is set to resume its services to Nigeria this October, after having suspended them back in October 2022. The airline will be operating a daily service between Lagos and Dubai from 1 October 2024, operated using a Boeing 777-300ER. Each day, flight EK783, will depart from Dubai 0945 and arrive in Lagos at 1520 local time, while flight EK784 will depart from Lagos at 1730 and arrive in Dubai at 0510 local time the next day. Each flight will have eight First class suites, 42 Business class seats, and 304 Economy class seats available, and among its in-flight dining and entertainment offerings, passengers will be able to enjoy at least 23 Nigerian movies on offer. Tickets are already available for booking now.

Adnan Kazim, Emirates’ deputy president and chief commercial officer, said, “We are excited to resume our services to Nigeria. The Lagos-Dubai service has traditionally been popular with customers in Nigeria, and we hope to reconnect leisure and business travellers to Dubai and onwards to our network of over 140 destinations. We thank the Nigerian government for their partnership and support in re-establishing this route and we look forward to welcoming passengers back onboard.”

Including the resumption of this flight route, Emirates will now serve 19 gateways in Africa, encompassing a total of 157 per week from Dubai plus an additional 130 through its codeshare and interline partnerships with South African Airways, Airlink, Royal Air Maroc, Tunis Air, among others.

As a major economic hub in Africa, Nigeria and the UAE have built strong bilateral trade relations over the years, headlined by Lagos as the nation’s commercial centre. With the resumption of daily passenger flights, the airline’s cargo arm, Emirates SkyCargo, will further bolster the trade relationship by offering more than 300 tonnes of bellyhold cargo capacity, in and out of Lagos every week. The latter will support Nigerian businesses by exporting their goods via its state-of-the-art hub in Dubai, into key markets such as the UAE, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Bahrain, among others with key anticipated commodities such as Kola Nuts, food and beverages, and urgent courier material. Meanwhile, Emirates SkyCargo will also import vital goods such as pharmaceuticals and electronics as well as general cargo from key markets such as the UAE, India and Hong Kong, with the aim of keeping trade flowing seamlessly.

By Yi-Hwa Hanna, Business Traveller

Related story: Ban lifted on Nigerian Travelers to UAE After president Tinubu’s Visit


Warner Music to Expand Into Lagos, Nigeria

Warner Music Africa (WMA) is planning to establish a new creative hub in Lagos, Nigeria.

The move will mark the opening of Warner’s first fully-owned office in the market. WMA says that its expansion into Lagos will enable it “to provide more of its A&R, Operations and Marketing expertise to Nigeria’s creative ecosystem”.

WMA’s plans to expand in Nigeria arrive at a time of significant recorded music industry growth in the wider Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) region.

According to IFPI, Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) was the fastest-growing music region in 2023. It was also the fastest-growing music region globally in 2022.

Recorded music revenues in Sub-Saharan Africa grew by 24.7% in 2023, fuelled, according to IFPI, by a 24.5% rise in paid streaming revenues.

Ahead of the opening of its new office in Lagos, Warner Music Africa’s management team, including Alfonso Perez-Soto, President of Emerging Markets, Warner Music; Laverne Thomas, Operations Lead, WMA; Temi Adeniji, Managing Director, WMA, and Yoel Kenan, CEO, Africori, met with government officials in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja last week.

According to Warner Music Group, this “pivotal journey” saw the executives engage in meetings with key government officials to “establish crucial relationships and to bolster WMA’s mission of empowering Nigeria’s vibrant creative sector”.

During the Warner executive team’s visit last week, they met two senior ministers and the Special Advisor to the President of Nigeria.

Amongst them were: Minister Ayodele Olawande, Nigeria’s Minister of State For Youth Development, who provides insights into youth empowerment initiatives and holds a crucial role in the creative sector for national development. They also met with Minister Hannatu Musawa, the country’s Minister for Art, Culture, and the Creative Economy, and a prominent Nigerian lawyer and politician.

The WMG team also met with Adeagbo (Oluwadunsin) Ayomide, the Special Advisor to the President on Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy.

WMG says that its meetings in Nigeria underscore its “longstanding commitment” to the market.

In 2019, Warner Music Group invested in independent Nigeria-based music company Chocolate City in a deal that WMG said at the time will “dramatically grow the reach of African artists around the world, and will create new opportunities for global superstars in the region”.

In 2022, Warner Music Group acquired a majority stake in Africori, a prominent African music distribution, music rights management and artist development company which has offices in Johannesburg, London and Lagos.

WMG first invested in Africori in early 2020. The original deal gave WMG access to what it called “Africa’s largest catalog and A&R network”, as well as enabling WMG to establish a presence in many African markets for the first time. WMG’s publishing division, Warner Chappell Music, also inked a global deal with Africori in 2020.

In addition, the Warner Music Group / Blavatnik Family Foundation Social Justice Fund (WMG/BFF SJF) has contributed more than USD $400,000 to Nigeria’s creative sector via its Repertoire and Core Funds.

For example, it contributed $200,000 in 2022 to the West African Vocational Education and $150,000 in 2023 to The Sarz Academy which nurtures emerging talent in music production.

Meanwhile, WMG noted on Wednesday (May 22) that Temi Adeniji and Alfonso Perez-Soto’s leadership “has been instrumental in driving the success of Warner Music’s global artists in Africa and their local repertoire across the globe”.

According to WMG, they have played “a pivotal role” in signing and promoting superstar Nigerian artist CKay, whose viral single Love Nwantiti has achieved significant success, recently being certified 8x platinum in the US.

Additionally, WMA recently signed 26-year-old Nigerian singer-songwriter Joeboy, who has amassed 2 billion streams over the past five years.

As part of the deal, Joeboy has created his own record label, Young Legend which will partner with Warner Music Africa for global distribution of its artists’ music.

Earlier this week, Temi Adeniji, Managing Director at Warner Music Africa and Warner’s SVP of Sub-Saharan Africa, joined the MBW podcast to discuss the rise of music from Africa and more.


Video - Nigeria’s Lookman the hero as Atalanta stun Leverkusen

Ademola Lookman scored a stunning hat-trick as Atalanta beat Bayer Leverkusen 3-0 in the Europa League final to win just the second major trophy in their 117-year history and end the German champions’ remarkable unbeaten streak.

Lookman, who struggled to establish himself in the English Premier League with Everton, Fulham and Leicester City before reviving his career in Italy under Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini, struck twice inside the first 26 minutes before sealing the win 15 minutes from full-time on Wednesday night.

The victory ended Gasperini’s own two-decade-long pursuit of major silverware as his side totally outplayed Xabi Alonso’s Leverkusen – or ‘Neverlusen’ as they had been dubbed after going an incredible 51 games unbeaten.

But just as they did against Premier League heavyweights Liverpool and three-time finalists Olympique de Marseille in the previous two rounds, Atalanta didn’t give their opponents a sniff and marked their first European final with a famous victory.

“We needed to be attacking. It was not enough just to defend. We know these teams are great at attacking. Everyone was extraordinary,” Gasperini told Sky Sports Italia, referring to the teams his side beat to become the first Italian winners of the competition since Parma 25 years ago.

“The way we did it was the most important thing. We deserved it without a shadow of a doubt against such a strong team. Winning the Europa League is an extraordinary achievement.”

Leverkusen started the game looking decidedly unsure of themselves and some uncharacteristically sloppy play handed the first chance of the game to Gianluca Scamacca, who didn’t get enough on his header from a fine Matteo Ruggeri cross.

It was an early warning shot, and the purposeful Italians struck within minutes when Davide Zappacosta was allowed far too much space down the right before Lookman beat a flatfooted Exequiel Palacios to the cutback to stroke home the opener.

Lookman was mobbed by his teammates and substitutes who were in dreamland 14 minutes later.

Another Leverkusen error gifted possession to the Nigerian forward, who skipped past one defender and curled a beautiful right-footed shot into the bottom-right corner from just outside the box.
‘One of the best nights of my life’

The stunned Germans showed brief flashes of how quickly they could turn it on in attack, but little came of it – and it was Charles De Ketelaere who came closest on the break as Atalanta did not show a shred of debut final nerves nor any effects from the absence of injured captain Marten de Roon.

Leverkusen swapped defender Josip Stanisic for top scorer Victor Boniface at halftime, but it changed little as both sets of travelling fans continued to create the kind of Aviva Stadium noise matched only by some of the Irish rugby teams’ famous wins or memorable international football nights of years gone by.

Leverkusen had only failed to score once during the run that featured 42 wins in all competitions and 17 goals scored in or after the 90th minute, but there was no such comeback on Wednesday against the resolute Atalanta backline.

“The normality is not to get defeated in the 52nd game. Normally it happens much earlier in the season. It’s been quite exceptional what we have achieved, and we have to be really proud,” Alonso told a news conference.

“We were missing many things for sure. It’s very demanding to play against Atalanta, a lot of dual situations, very physical … It happens, it’s football, today wasn’t our day. They were better.”

Lookman, who completed his hat-trick with another stunning strike into the top corner, this time with his left foot, became the sixth person to score three goals in a major European final and first since Jupp Heynckes’ for Borussia Monchengladbach in the 1975 UEFA Cup.

He was flung into the air by his teammates when the final whistle blew, and the Bergamo club ended the 61-year wait since their 1963 Italian Cup triumph.

“It’s one of the best nights of my life,” Lookman, who cradled the match ball as he collected his winners’ medal, told TNT Sports.

“It was an amazing performance from the team. We did it … We made history tonight.”

Al Jazeera

Related story: Nigeria appoint Finidi George to succeed Peseiro

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Court in Nigeria adjourns Binance, executives' tax evasion trial to June 14

A Nigerian court has adjourned a tax evasion case against Binance to next month for possible arraignment of the cryptocurrency exchange and two of its executives after a trial stalled on Wednesday, the judge said.

The matter stalled because authorities failed to bring Tigran Gambaryan, a U.S. citizen and Binance head of financial crime compliance, to court. No reason was given for Gambaryan's absence in court.

On Friday, an Abuja court ruled that Gambaryan could stand trial in the tax evasion case on behalf of Binance.

The CEO of Binance Richard Teng in May accused Nigeria of setting a dangerous precedent after its executives were invited to the country and then detained as part of a crackdown on crypto. The company is challenging the trials on charges of tax evasion and money laundering.

Binance and its executives Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla, a British-Kenyan who is Binance's regional manager for Africa, face four counts of tax evasion, including failure to register with Nigeria's Federal Inland Revenue Service for tax purposes.

Anjarwalla escaped custody in March but is still listed on the case, without indicating he was 'at large' - a factor that could stall trial given that Nigerian law requires that parties must be served before the case can proceed, Gambaryan's lawyer Chukwuka Ikwuazom said.

The revenue service lawyer Moses Ideho said Gambaryan was supposed to have been produced in court by Nigeria's prison service and that he did not know why he was not in court.

Judge Emeka Nwite adjourned the possible arraignment of Binance and Gambaryan to June 14.

In addition to the tax evasion trial, Binance and the executives have also been charged with laundering more than $35 million by Nigeria's anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). A money laundering trial will be heard on Thursday.

Binance has said it is working closely with Nigerian authorities following the detention of Gambaryan. 

By Camillus Eboh, Reuters 

Related stories: Nigeria rejects Binance CEO's bribery claim

Generator fumes choke students to death in Nigeria

At least seven university students have died after apparently inhaling fumes from a generator in a music studio in Nigeria's oil-rich Bayelsa state.

The young men are said to have worked late into Monday night and fell asleep in the locked studio with the generator still running.

They are suspected to have suffocated from carbon monoxide emissions but police say investigations are ongoing.

Many businesses and households in Nigeria rely on diesel- or petrol-powered generators because of inadequate power supply.

Six bodies were discovered on Tuesday morning, while one of them, who was found unconscious, was rushed to a nearby hospital but later died, local media reported.

Residents of the area raised the alarm when they peeped through the window of the studio and saw the bodies sprawled on the floor.

Police arrived and cordoned off the area after moving out the bodies in the Amarata area of Yenagoa - the Bayelsa state capital.

“Investigations are being carried out but based on what we have seen, carbon monoxide poisoning due to generator fumes is a possible cause,” police spokesperson Musa Mohammed told the BBC.

The victims were undergraduates from the state-owned Niger Delta University (NDU) in Amassoma, who were involved in the music recording business to support their education.

This is not the first time generator fumes have killed people in Nigeria, Africa's top oil producer.

In 2009, at least 13 family members, including four children, died after inhaling noxious fumes from their power generator while they slept in a remote village in south-eastern Imo state.

Nigerians rely on backup generators to cover about 40% of their electricity needs, according to a recent report by the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Grid power supplies are often erratic in Nigeria, despite its role as a major oil and gas producer.

President Bola Tinubu recently ordered all government agencies to purchase only vehicles and generators powered by natural gas as part of the country's efforts to transition to cleaner energy and cut high fuel costs.

By Mansur Abubakar & Wycliffe Muia, BBC


Nigeria Taps Tinubu’s Ally to Build a $13 Billion Highway

Nigeria’s federal cabinet last week approved construction work on the second section of a $13 billion highway awarded to an ally of President Bola Tinubu, a project that’s ignited a political firestorm in Africa’s most populous country.

The 700-kilometer (434 miles) Atlantic coastal road linking the commercial hub of Lagos to Calabar in the oil-rich Niger Delta has been mired in controversy since being awarded in September to Hitech Construction Company Ltd., a business owned by tycoon Gilbert Chagoury, who was listed by the government as Tinubu’s “confidante” when part of Nigeria’s delegation at last year’s COP28 climate conference in Dubai. The government has been forced to hold a series of public meetings, press conferences and speeches to defend the project, while surrogates have been sent to explain its position on television.

Authorities have demolished dozens of houses and buildings, including sections of the popular Landmark beach complex in the Lagos district of Victoria Island. That’s led to protests from businesses and residents in the area, home to many of Nigeria’s richest people and local headquarters of TotalEnergies SE and Standard Chartered Plc. Nigeria is littered with ambitious projects that are abandoned after huge amounts of money have been spent, and those that are completed often experience lengthy delays.

Chagoury, 78, has been a fixture of Nigerian politics and business for decades. In 2000, he was convicted in Switzerland of laundering money for Sani Abacha, the notoriously corrupt Nigerian dictator, and has admitted to making illegal campaign contributions in the US. The Chagoury Group didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Hitech has built a number of major infrastructure projects, including the privately developed Banana Island luxury housing estate and the 10-square-mile Eko Atlantic development — both on land reclaimed from the sea. The firm has constructed two highways in Lagos that are 16 miles and 31 miles long, but critics question its capability for large-scale projects.

“We don’t feel like we caught the best deal,” Lagos opposition politician Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour said by phone. “Because this whole project did not go through the Senate, did not go through the regular due process and we’re just being stuck with the bill that seems extremely overbloated.”

The bidding process for the contract wasn’t conducted publicly, which has also drawn criticism from civil society groups and opposition politicians.

Works minister Dave Umahi told journalists that the government approved a “restrictive bidding” round for the project, without elaborating on what other companies were involved or why it wasn’t made public.

“People say it was not listed in the 2024 budget,” he said during a May 14 speech at the presidential villa in Abuja, the seventh time he has addressed the controversy around the highway since April. “Yesterday, I quoted the budget number and so everything about coastal road followed due process.”

This year’s budget contains two line items for the project totaling 1 billion naira, a fraction of the 2.6 trillion naira ($1.8 billion) approved so far, according to the version posted on the website of the budget office in January.

“It is curious that the terms of such an audacious project continue to be shrouded in secrecy,” opposition leader Atiku Abubakar, who lost to Tinubu in last year’s presidential election, said in a statement. “It is no secret that both Tinubu and Chagoury are business partners.”

The president’s office didn’t respond to a detailed list of questions, instead referring to an April 8 statement that called the highway an “economic gamechanger.”

Tinubu, who was governor of Lagos from 1999-2007, has long been dogged by allegations of corruption, which he denies. He was being investigated by Nigeria’s anti-graft authorities as recently as June 2021, two years before he was elected president. In 1993, he forfeited $460,000 to resolve a lawsuit in Chicago after US federal authorities said bank accounts in his name held the proceeds of heroin trafficking. Tinubu’s lawyers have said he was never charged over the matter.

Nigeria ranks among the world’s most graft-ridden countries, according to a Corruption Perceptions Index published by advocacy group Transparency International, a key reason why the economy is mired in crisis. Since coming into office, Tinubu has talked about enhancing transparency in government and vowed to fight corruption. In April, he described corruption, self-interest and fraud as “an enemy” of the country.

The task of completing the coastal road project will extend beyond Tinubu’s first term, and cost more than Nigeria’s 9-trillion naira budget deficit for this year. Civil society groups and opposition leaders have questioned the rationale behind spending so much on a highway while ordinary Nigerians battle a cost-of-living crisis and citizens have died in stampedes to get food.

“With the cost involved, you can see that it’s an inflated contract that has been given simply because some people believe that they will make money out of it,” said Auwal Rafsanjani, Nigerian head of Transparency International. Lack of transparency around Nigerian projects like this is “the reason why we are not making any progress in terms of improving transparency and accountability in public sector.”

23-Year Plan

Estimated at 15 trillion naira, the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway is part of Nigeria’s 23-year plan to improve the nation’s infrastructure. The project was first designed as a railway under President Goodluck Jonathan and awarded to the China Civil Engineering Construction Corp. for $12 billion, but fell apart when he left office in 2015.

The following year, the plan was revived by President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration for $11 billion and given a timeline of three years, which expired without significant progress.

Minister Umahi then announced the project had been resurrected once again, but as a coastal highway alongside some rail, and this time awarded to Chagoury’s Hitech.

As much as 30% of the funding for the highway is expected to come from the government, with Hitech sourcing the rest, according to Umahi. The road will also be tolled, costing as much as 3,000 naira to use for a one-way trip — the equivalent of two day’s salary at the current national minimum wage.

By Nduka Orjinmo, Bloomberg

Related story: Rail projects in Nigeria drive home China's belt and road commitment to African infrastructure development

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Video - Over 350 abductees rescued in Nigeria’s Borno state

Some of those rescued were kidnapped 10 years ago. Most of the victims were women and children.


Related story: 386 civilians rescued from Sambisa forest in Nigeria 10 years after abduction


Nigeria central bank delivers third big interest rate hike of the year

Nigeria's central bank delivered another big interest rate hike on Tuesday, responding to a continued rise in inflation which hit a 28-year high in April.

Central Bank of Nigeria Governor Olayemi Cardoso said the bank's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) was faced with a decision to either raise or hold rates while it observed the impact of previous hikes, but opted for an increase in the interests of price stability.

The Monetary Policy Rate was increased by 150 basis points (bps) to 26.25% (NGCBIR=ECI), the third rate increase this year after hikes of 200 bps in March and 400 bps in February.

"The balance of risks suggests further tightening of policy to build on the benefits from previous hikes," Cardoso told a news conference.

Economists had widely predicted another hike given soaring inflation and the highly volatile naira currency.

"A bold policy move was required to bring Nigeria's real rates closer to positive territory and halt the naira's decline," said Danny Greeff, an analyst at ETM Analytics.

Inflation reached 33.69% year-on-year in April (NGCPIY=ECI) - a level not seen since mid-1996 - spurred by the government slashing petrol and electricity subsidies and twice devaluing the naira since President Bola Tinubu took over last year.

The central bank has more work to do to rein in price pressures and there could be more rate hikes to come, analysts said.

The International Monetary Fund has welcomed the central bank's previous hikes and called for decisions to be data-driven.

Cardoso has pledged to curb inflation, support the naira and depart from the unorthodox policies of his predecessor who blurred the lines between monetary and fiscal policy with direct interventions to try to lift economic growth.

The government is also struggling to lift output from its crucial oil sector and keep a lid on rampant insecurity that has left swathes of the country outside its control.

The central bank's next rate-setting meeting is scheduled for July. 

By Chijioke Ohuocha, Elisha Bala-Gbogbo and Macdonald Dzirutwe, Reuters

At least 40 villagers shot dead in Nigeria

Armed men attacked remote villages in northcentral Nigeria, killing at least a dozen villagers during a late-night raid, authorities said Tuesday.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack which follows a similar pattern to yearslong violence in the region blamed on the fight for control over water and land between nomadic herders and rural farmers. These raids have so far killed hundreds in the region.

The local Punch newspaper cited witnesses as saying at least 40 people were killed in Plateau’s Wase district on Monday night. However, government officials told The Associated Press only 12 casualties have so far been confirmed.

It is common for official figures to be less than that of witness accounts in such attacks.

The attackers opened fire on villagers in Wase’s Zurak community, forcing many to flee into nearby bushes, Musa Ashoms, the state commissioner for information said. “We are trying to comb the area to see whether we have more casualties or people with bullet wounds,” he added.

The motorcycle-riding gunmen attacked the village following a security operation that targeted their hideouts and aimed to “wipe” them out of the area, Idris Wase, a federal legislator from Plateau’s Wase district said.

Locals have repeatedly expressed concern over how the assailants can attack villages for hours and escape before security forces arrive on the scene.

Arrests following such attacks are rare.

In December, assailants killed at least 140 residents during an attack that targeted more than a dozen communities over two days.

By Chinedu Asadu, AP 

Related story: Video - Gunmen abduct over 100 people in Zamfara state, Nigeria


Video - Nigeria risks polio resurgence as millions of children are unvaccinated

Despite being declared polio-free by the World Health Organization in 2020, Nigeria now faces a new challenge. Millions of children remain unvaccinated, putting the country at risk of a resurgence of the disease. 


Related story: Video - Nigeria close to attaining polio-free status


Police rescue kidnap victims in Abuja

The Police Command in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) said its operatives on Sunday foiled a kidnap attempt and rescued victims in Dawaki area of Abuja.

The Police Public Relations Officer in the FCT, Josephine Adeh, a superintendent of police, said this in a statement on Monday in Abuja.

Ms Adeh said that the kidnap attempt was foiled following an immediate and strategic response to a distress call on the attack by unknown gunmen in Dawaki on 19 May.

She said the Commissioner of Police (CP) in charge of the FCT, Benneth Igweh, led the operatives that swiftly mobilised to the scene to foil the kidnap attempt.

“Displaying remarkable bravery and coordination, the police, in synergy with local hunters, advanced on the assailants, tactically ambushed them at Ushafa Hill via Bwari and Shishipe Hills via Mpape.

“This led to a fierce gun duel where the hoodlums were overwhelmed by the firepower of the operatives, and this forced them to scamper to safety with various degrees of bullet injuries and the victims were rescued,” she said.

Ms Adeh added that one of the rescued victims was currently in the hospital receiving medical attention.

The FCT Police command spokesperson said that the CP had reaffirmed the command’s steadfast dedication to maintaining peace and security in the FCT.

She also said that search operations were ongoing to rescue other hostages who fled the scene during the shootout.

Meanwhile, the Chairperson of Dawaki Rock Heaven Community, Tunde Abdulrahim, said the incident happened at about 7: 30 p.m. on Sunday.

Mr Abdulrahim said that the heavily armed bandits numbering about 50, consisting of men and women invaded the community and broke into about six houses.

He also said that about 20 people were abducted by the kidnappers.

Premium Times

Related story: 386 civilians rescued from Sambisa forest in Nigeria 10 years after abduction

Monday, May 20, 2024

Video - Nigeria cuts back on electricity sales to neighboring countries

The move is designed to boost domestic supply for Nigerians. Nigeria exports a chunk of the power it generates to its neighbors, despite not having a stable electricity supply for customers at home.


Related story: Video - Concerns over electricity rate hike in Nigeria


Video - Nigeria sesame industry booms as global demand continues to surge

With experts predicting a 500 percent growth in the country's sesame seed exports in the coming years, stakeholders want to make sure the sesame seed supply chain is properly managed.


Related story: Video - Soaring fuel prices in Nigeria threaten agricultural prosperity


386 civilians rescued from Sambisa forest in Nigeria 10 years after abduction

No fewer than 386 people, mostly women and children, have been rescued by the Army in Sambisa forest ten years after their abduction.

The acting GOC 7 Division, AGL Haruna, made this known while speaking to newsmen at the outskirts of Sambisa forest in Konduga LGA after welcoming the troops that conducted the 10-day operation.

Mr Haruna, a brigadier general, said the operation tagged “Operation Desert Sanity 111” was to clear Sambisa forest of the remnants of all categories of terrorists as well as provide some of them eager to surrender as observed the opportunity to do so.

“Our effort is to ensure that we clear remnants of terrorists in the Sambisa and give those willing to surrender the opportunity to surrender.

“With this operation, we envisage many of them will surrender as they have started.

“We also rescued some civilians; as of yesterday, we rescued 386 and I am sure the number will increase by today,” Haruna said.

The GOC, who addressed the troops on the message of Chief of Army Staff, lauded their performance and professionalism exhibited during the operation and urged them to sustain the tempo.

Some of those rescued from Sambisa forest, who spoke, said they were in captivity for 10 years.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that troops from 21 Special Armoured Brigade, 26 Task Force Brigade, and 199 Special Forces participated in the operation.

Premium Times

Related stories: Video - Gunmen abduct over 100 people in Zamfara state, Nigeria

14 kidnapped University students rescued


Starlink Becomes Third-largest ISP in Nigeria Q4 2023

According to the Nigerian Communications Commission, Starlink Services, LLC, is Nigeria’s third-largest Internet Service Provider (ISP) by subscriber count in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2023. The satellite internet constellation company has an aggregate of 23,897 active subscribed customers, cementing its status as one of the leading ISPs in the country. In addition, the NCC’s data showed that Starlink had 11,207 customers as of Q3 2023. The Q4 figure represents a 113 per cent increase in customers quarter over quarter.

However, the Nigerian-based internet provider Spectranet leads with 113,869 active customers, followed by FiberOne with 27,000 active subscribers. In 2022, Starlink services were approved to provide high-speed, low-latency broadband internet in Nigeria, with a monthly subscription of USD 110 and USD 599 for the complete Starlink kit.

By Deborah Faboade, SPACE IN AFRICA

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Activists in Nigeria condemn mass ‘forced marriages’ of 100 girls and young women

Human rights activists in Nigeria have launched a petition to stop a plan to push 100 girls and young women into marriage in a mass ceremony, which has caused outrage in the west African country.

The plan, sponsored by Abdulmalik Sarkindaji, the speaker of the national assembly in the largely Muslim north-western state of Niger, were criticised by Nigeria’s women’s affairs minister, Uju Kennedy Ohanenye. She said she would seek a court injunction to stop the ceremony next week and establish if any of the girls were minors.

Sarkindaji said the girls and young women were orphans whose parents were killed in attacks by kidnapping gangs that roam northern Nigeria. He said he would pay dowries to the grooms.

A petition launched on Wednesday that has more than 8,000 signatures said the Niger state government should prioritise the education of the girls instead of forcing them into marriage.

“We demand immediate action to halt the proposed forced marriages and to instead implement measures that will empower these girls to lead dignified and fulfilling lives,” the activists said.

Critics have expressed concern that some girls may be underage or being forced to comply for financial gain.

Sarkindaji and the Imams Forum of Niger said the marriage ceremony would go ahead on 24 May and insisted the girls were not underage.

Child marriages are common in the mostly Muslim north, where poverty levels are higher than the largely Christian south. Although the legal age of marriage is 18 under federal law, Nigerian states can set their own age.

Niger’s legal marriage age is also 18, but Sarkindaji’s spokesperson said that under sharia law, which is practised in the state, a girl can be married when she reaches puberty.

After meeting on Wednesday, the imams forum said it would take legal action against Kennedy Ohanenye if she did not withdraw her statement suggesting the girls were minors, its secretary, Umar-Faruk Abdullahi, said on local TV.

“We have given the minister seven days to withdraw her statement she used against us, against our speaker, against the Muslim community … that we want to force them into marriage and the children are underage,” said Abdullahi.

Kennedy Ohanenye did not respond to requests for comment.

The Guardian

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Abacha’s family challenges revocation of Abuja land

The Federal High Court, Abuja, on Wednesday, fixed 27 June for judgment in a suit by the family of the late Nigerian military ruler, Sani Abacha, challenging the revocation of his property in the Maitama District of Abuja.

The judge, Peter Lifu, fixed the date for judgement after the lawyer to the family of the late dictator, Reuben Atabo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), and those of the defendants led by James Onoja, also a SAN, adopted their processes and argued their case for and against the suit.

Mr Abacha, the partriach of the Abacha family, was a constant feature during the the dark era of military regimes between the 1980s and 1990s, variously serving as the Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Defence Staff and the Minister of Defence, until he became the Head of State in 1993.

Mr Abacha, a general, seized power from the interim national government of Ernest Shonekan on 17 November 1993 and ruled Nigeria until he died at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on 8 June 1998.

The developed piece of land in question was revoked from the family in 2006, about eight years after Mr Abacha died in office.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the suit was instituted by the widow of the late Mr Abacha, Maryam Abacha, and her eldest surviving son, Mohammed Sani Abacha.

The defendants in the suit are the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT); Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA); President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, and Salamed Ventures Limited as 1st to 4th respectively.

The applicants asked the court to set aside the purported revocation of the certificate of occupancy (CoO) of the property of the late Abacha located in the Maitama District.

The C of O marked FCT/ABUKN 2478 covering Plot 3119, issued on June 25, 1993, was said by the family to have been illegally and unlawfully revoked by the defendants.

How it began

In their statement of claims, the Abacha family said that the FCT, under Nasir El-Rufai, had instructed them to submit the C of O in their possession for re-certification.

They claimed that the 2nd plaintiff, Mohammed Sani Abacha, promptly complied with the directive by delivering the C of O to the FCDA and acknowledgement copy issued to him.

While waiting for a new C of O to be issued to them, Mohammed Abacha said he received a letter on 3 February 2006, notifying them that the C of O had been revoked without any reason adduced in the letter.

Besides the failure to give any reason for the revocation, the Abacha family alleged that adequate compensation was not paid as required by law.


The family therefore asked the court to declare as unconstitutional, unlawful, illegal, null and void and of no effect, the purported revocation of the property.

They sought an order of the court setting aside the purported revocation and holding that their CoO is valid and subsisting having been revoked without payment of adequate compensation.

According to them, the Certificate of Occupancy issued to the late Head of State was maliciously revoked without legal basis or justification

The plaintiffs asked for an order of injunction prohibiting the defendants from taking any further step on the disputed revocation.

Similarly, they prayed to award N500 million as damages to be paid to them by the four defendants.


However, the defendants in their separate counter-affidavits and preliminary objections, asked for outright dismissal of the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/463/2016.

The defendants claimed that the suit at the time it was instituted had become statute barred having not been filed within time allowed by law, among other arguments.

Although, some of the defendants were not in court at Wednesday’s proceedings, the judge, Mr Lifu invoked the rule of the court in adopting their processes already filed.


Mr Abacha ruled Nigeria with an iron fist between 1993 and 1998, when he suddenly died in office.

He seized power on 17 November 1993 after he dislodged the Ernest Shonekan-led interim government installed by the regime of Ibrahim Babangida.

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