Wednesday 21 February 2018
(AFP (eng) 02/12/18)
Hundreds of Boko Haram suspects were due back in court Monday to hear if they will be prosecuted, sentenced or released, as proceedings resumed at a military base in central Nigeria. The first major prosecutions of people arrested during the insurgency began last October, involving 1,669 suspects held at the facility in Kainji, Niger state. The justice ministry has said 468 were released after it was found they had no case to answer; 45 were sentenced to between two and 15 years in jail; and 28 had their cases transferred. A further 82 pleaded guilty in exchange for a lesser prison sentence or release taking into account time served in custody. The remainder have had their cases adjourned pending further...
(AFP (eng) 02/12/18)
Jihadist group Boko Haram has released 13 hostages, including a group of oil explorers and policewomen, that it held captive for more than half a year, the Nigerian presidency said on Saturday. The three oil explorers are lecturers from Maiduguri university, in northern Borno state, who were kidnapped while searching for oil in July last year. Their exploration team was ambushed by Boko Haram in an attack that killed at least 69 people, one of the bloodiest assaults of 2017. A group of 10 women were also released, including police officers and civil servants, who were kidnapped near Maiduguri in June. Police initially denied the kidnapping until Boko Haram released a video weeks later showing the woman pleading for their...
(AFP (eng) 02/10/18)
Three people were shot dead in central Nigeria, police said on Friday, with suspicion falling on cattle herders after a wave of communal violence that has heaped pressure on the government to act. Unknown gunmen opened fire on the men on Thursday evening in Anyiin, in the Logo area of Benue state, where early last month more than 80 people were killed. Benue state police chief Fatai Owoseni said the identity of the gunmen had not yet been established. But given the location and similarity to previous attacks, suspicion locally immediately fell on herders. Owoseni said officers sent to the scene at the sound of gunshots found that four people on two motorcycles had been attacked, with three others collecting...
(AFP (eng) 02/09/18)
A Nigerian government official found with 86 new luxury cars was charged with fraud on Thursday, court papers show. Ibrahim Tumsah, finance and account director at the Power, Works and Housing Ministry was arraigned at Abuja Federal High Court along with his brother Tijani Tumsah, a member of a presidential committee on initiatives in the country's north east. Both were accused of "refusing" to declare the assets "without reasonable excuse" and after being given notice by a special presidential investigation panel tasked with the recovery of public property. Besides the cars, their assets include four houses and a quarry plant in Abuja.
(AFP (eng) 02/08/18)
Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday warned about the dangers of political unrest as he met the new envoy from Togo, where there has been a wave of anti-government protests. Buhari did not specifically mention Togo as he received the newly appointed ambassador, Lene Dimban, at the presidential villa in the capital, Abuja. But according to his office, the president said "peaceful transitions" in Africa were now non-negotiable, because political crises had a drastic effect on the economy and people. The West African bloc ECOWAS was working "to prevent political transitions from snowballing into crisis so that citizens in the region can focus their energies and resources rather than trying to survive political upheavals"...
(AFP (eng) 02/08/18)
The UN on Thursday said more than $1 billion in funding was needed this year to help millions of people affected by Boko Haram's Islamist insurgency in northeast Nigeria. The humanitarian co-ordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, said "life-saving emergency assistance to the most vulnerable" in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states was the "immediate priority". Funding would also go towards improving the quality of programmes already in place and increasing the ability of local agencies to respond in the longer term, he added. "In doing so, humanitarian partners will require $1.05 billion to reach 6.1 million people with humanitarian assistance," he said in the foreword to the 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan. Launching the document in Abuja, Kallon said some 70 percent...
(AFP (eng) 02/08/18)
Six children drowned when two boats collided and capsized in northwest Nigeria, the emergency services said on Wednesday. A passenger boat on the River Niger collided head-on with another vessel carrying onions to a market in the fishing town of Yauri in Kebbi state on Tuesday evening. Sani Dodo, head of the Kebbi state emergency management agency, told AFP: "We have recovered six bodies of children -- five boys and a girl between the ages of five and eight. "Sixty passengers were rescued and 13 of them have been taken to hospital for treatment from various injuries."
(AFP (eng) 02/08/18)
The African Union's chairman dismissed during a visit to Beijing on Thursday a French newspaper report alleging that China had spied on the continental body as "lies" intended to derail cooperation. The report published by Le Monde in January claimed technicians at the AU's Chinese-built headquarters in the Ethiopian capital discovered last year that the contents of their computers had been regularly copied to servers in Shanghai since 2012, citing unnamed AU sources. "I don't see it is in the interest of China to spy," AU commission chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat said during a visit to Beijing, where he met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to discuss deepening cooperation on a variety of issues, as well as opening a...
(AFP (eng) 02/08/18)
"I think of it as the African Mona Lisa," said award-winning novelist Ben Okri, gazing at the long-lost portrait of a Nigerian princess which recently turned up in a London flat. Ben Enwonwu's 1974 painting of Adetutu "Tutu" Ademiluyi, daughter of a Yoruba king, has taken on almost mythical status in the painter's native Nigeria. It was last seen in 1975 but is now up for sale after its surprise rediscovery. "It has been a legendary painting for 40 years, everybody keeps talking about Tutu, saying 'where is Tutu?'," the Booker Prize-winning writer Okri told AFP. As a prominent Nigerian cultural figure on the world stage, Okri viewed the painting at prestigious London auction house Bonhams, where the work will...
(AFP (eng) 02/07/18)
Nigeria's army on Wednesday said it would send troops into the country's volatile central states to quell violence between farmers and herders that has killed hundreds in recent weeks. Major General David Ahmadu said the deployment from February 15 would crack down on "herdsmen/farmers clashes and attacks on innocent members of our communities, particularly in Benue, Taraba and Nasarawa state by armed militias". The operation will also target "armed banditry, kidnapping and cattle rustling" in Kaduna and Niger, plus other crimes in Kogi, he added. Ahmadu, who is the army's head of training and operations, said criminal activities had "continued unabatedly in these states despite the efforts ...
(AFP (eng) 02/07/18)
Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau released a video Tuesday pledging to continue attacks days after Nigeria's military repeated that the jihadist group had been defeated. The factional leader said in a video message that a recent offensive to clear out Boko Haram's stronghold of Sambisa forest in Borno State had failed and vowed to keep fighting against Nigeria and western education. "The person that believes in nationalism is the one we are at war with, the person who believes in disseminating western education, which is replete with unbelief, is the one we fight", Shekau said in the 11-minute video. Nigeria has repeatedly claimed it has beaten Boko Haram, whose name means "Western education is forbidden" in the Hausa language.
(AFP (eng) 02/07/18)
Nigeria's port workers' union on Wednesday backed down from a threat to call an indefinite strike that could have shut the country's main seaports. The Maritime Workers' Union of Nigeria (MWUN) said it would order its members to down tools because of the state of access roads to the country's busiest port, Lagos. But MWUN president-general Adawale Adeyanju told AFP the industrial action was called off after a meeting with Nigeria's labour minister and the Nigeria Port Authority. Adeyanju said "strong commitments to fix the roads were given", adding: "We have therefore decided to suspend the strike following the fruitful deliberations we had with the government. "We are calling on our members to continue with their work." The Lagos ports...
(AFP (eng) 02/07/18)
In the heart of Gboko's main market, in Benue state, central Nigeria, stains still darken the dusty corners of the car park, where seven men were burned alive in broad daylight. Their only crime was to have "light skin and look like Fulanis", said a police officer, referring to the herders blamed for deadly violence against farmers in recent months. For the last week, lack of street lighting has plunged Gboko into virtual darkness. Residents have shut themselves away at home and nervous police on patrol threaten to shoot at any vehicle defying a 6:00 pm to 6:00 am curfew. Near the scene of the crime, the faces of traders give away nothing and become hostile at approaches. They "weren't...
(AFP (eng) 02/07/18)
While bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have suffered precipitous falls in recent weeks, the units remain popular in Nigeria where they make it easier to do business. On the surface, digital coins may not seem like a good idea in a country where corruption is rampant and stacks of hard cash are often smuggled overseas. Yet West Africa's biggest economy has the world's third-largest bitcoin holdings as a percentage of gross domestic (GDP), behind Russia and New Zealand, according to Citigroup. That may be because blockchain technology -- public, online ledgers that underpin cryptocurrencies...
(AFP (eng) 02/06/18)
Ibrahim Babangida has become the latest former leader in Nigeria to criticise President Muhammadu Buhari, as elections approach and the incumbent is yet to confirm he will stand again. The man who once described himself as Nigeria's "evil genius" said in a statement issued on Sunday that "analogue" Buhari should make way for "digital" leaders. "There comes a time in life when personal ambition should not override national interest," he added. Babangida, who ousted Buhari as military ruler in a bloodless coup in 1985, later distanced himself from the statement, which he attributed to his spokesman. He then put out another in his own name, calling on any realignment of forces to be lawful. Babangida's intervention follows that of Olusegun...
(AFP (eng) 02/06/18)
Thirty-one people have died from Lassa fever in Nigeria since the start of this year, the health minister said, with cases of the viral disease recorded across the country. Isaac Adewole told reporters in Abuja on Monday that the outbreak was currently "active in 15 states, (with) 105 laboratory-confirmed cases, three probable cases, with 31 deaths". Ten of the 31 dead were health workers, he added. Lassa fever belongs to the same family as Marburg and Ebola, two deadly viruses that lead to infections with fever, vomiting and in worst-case scenarios, haemorrhagic bleeding. In Ivory Coast, meanwhile, Health and Public Hygiene Minister Raymonde Goudou Coffie said Tuesday that the country had stepped up vigilance "in light of the... situation in...
(AFP (eng) 02/06/18)
Nigeria on Monday assured Cameroon that it is determined to deal with secessionist forces attempting to use its territory to destabilise its West African neighbour. Last week, Nigeria extradited Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, leader of a Cameroonian anglophone separatist movement, and 46 of his supporters at Yaounde's request, sparking condemnation from the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR. But Nigeria's National Security Adviser Mohammed Monguno said at a trans-border security meeting in Abuja that extradition was ordered to preserve Cameroon's unity and sovereignty. "President Muhammadu Buhari assures you that we will take all the necessary measures...
(AFP (eng) 02/05/18)
Boko Haram fighters stormed a village in northeast Nigeria and murdered two civilians, while six people were killed in an attack in northern Cameroon, a local resident and security sources told AFP on Monday. The attacks came as Nigeria's military again maintained the jihadists had been defeated, and that its repeated raids and suicide bombings were "a sign of weakness". At least 20,000 people have been killed in nearly nine years of violence and more than 2.6 million made homeless, triggering a humanitarian crisis across the Lake Chad region. Bulama Bukar said Boko Haram fighters stormed his village, Alau-Kofa, about 8:00 pm (1900 GMT) on Sunday, firing guns and rocket-propelled grenades. "Two people were burnt alive and the whole village...
(AFP (eng) 02/05/18)
Boko Haram fighters stormed a village in northeast Nigeria and murdered two civilians, a local resident and a security source said Monday, as the military again maintained the jihadists had been defeated. The attack happened on Sunday evening at Alau-Kofa village, some 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) from Maiduguri, the capital of unrest-hit Borno state. "Boko Haram came to our village last night at about 8:00 pm (1900 GMT) firing guns and RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades)," Bulama Bukar, who lives in Alau-Kofa, told AFP. "Two people were burnt alive and the whole village was burnt, along with our food." Bukar, whose father was shot in the leg during the attack, said the jihadists "specifically came to steal our cattle" but were forced...
(AFP (eng) 02/05/18)
Even okadas, the motorcycle-taxis that buzz fearlessly around Nigeria's commercial capital, Lagos, struggle to negotiate the road to Apapa -- the country's busiest seaport. Riders pick their way gingerly around giant potholes that resemble blast craters, and among the lines of stationary trucks perched at precarious angles on the rutted surface. Getting to and from Apapa -- the catch-all name for Lagos' two seaports of Apapa and Tin Can Island -- has increasingly become a nightmare for pretty much everyone. Now, with the chronic traffic jams hurting business and no sign of any swift resolution to the problem, labour unrest is looming large on the horizon.

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