20, January 2020
Four people have been killed and several shops and vehicles burnt after thieves breached a fuel pipeline in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub, causing an explosion.
9, January 2020
About 20 soldiers were killed and nearly 1,000 people made homeless in a militant attack on a town in northeastern Nigeria, two residents and a military source said on Wednesday.
The militants entered Monguno in Borno state posing as a convoy of soldiers on Tuesday evening, the sources said. They then attacked troops inside the town, destroying at least 750 homes in the process.
Resident Gumati Sadu said people fled into the bush for safety during the fighting and that three civilians were killed by stray bullets.
A military spokesman declined to comment.
The West Africa Province (ISWAP) claimed responsibility for the attack on its Amaq news agency.
It said that one of its militants detonated a car bomb in the town, killing at least 8 soldiers and destroying 3 armored vehicles.
The group also said it had seized a vehicle, weapons and ammunition before leaving the town.
ISWAP split from the extremist group Boko Haram in 2016 and has since staged its own frequent attacks in the region.
Boko Haram’s decade-long insurgency campaign has killed thousands and displaced millions in northeastern Nigeria.
Thousands in Monguno had already been displaced from their homes elsewhere in Borno state by militants. Aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres warned last year that many thousands in Monguno lacked proper shelter, water, sanitation and food.
3, January 2020
Popular social media site, Facebook, has been accused of allegedly using its platform for the online sale of Cameroonian refugee children in Nigeria.
A Facebook page was alleged to have advertised photos of Cameroonian girls fleeing the ongoing conflict in Southern Cameroon’s Anglophone region.
Sahara Reporters had claimed that the victims of the Facebook sale were mostly teenage girls between the ages of 13 and 17 years.
The Africans Unite Against Child Abuse (AFRUCA) United Kingdom and the Centre for Children’s Health, Education, Orientation and Protection (CEE-HOPE) Nigeria had raised alarm that Facebook was being used to traffick children especially girls from a refugee camp in Ogoja, Cross Rivers State, Nigeria after being advertised for labour exploitation on Facebook.
Reacting, Debbie Ariyo, Chief Executive Officer of UK-based AFRUCA said that Social media platforms have become the 21st century slave markets.
She further called for an end to the slave treatment practiced by social media platforms.
Ariyo said: “ Human Trafficking is a growing global problem with over 40 million people at risk, according to the International Labour Organisation.
“Nigeria is known as a source, transit and destination country for human trafficking victims with over one million trafficked each year, according to the Global Slavery Index. Human trafficking and slavery is illegal in most countries around the world, including Nigeria.
“It is concerning that social medial platforms are increasingly being used by human traffickers to facilitate the sale of human beings, with little being done to address this. Social media platforms have become the 21st century slave markets. This has to stop.”
Also, Betty Abah, Executive Director of CEE-HOPE Nigeria, accused Facebook of having a discriminators wats of addressing crimes against children in Africa.
Ahah said: ‘It appears Facebook has a discriminatory approach to addressing crimes against vulnerable children in Africa than other more advanced parts of the world.
“I do not believe Facebook would have failed to act if this was happening in a European country.”
Both organisations called on the relevant government agencies in Nigeria to act to secure the well-being of refugee children in the country, and investigate the child trafficking allegations to ensure all perpetrators are brought to book.
They also called on Facebook to investigate the case as well as tighten its safeguard mechanisms to ensure that crimes such as human trafficking are completely eradicated on its platforms.
Source: Daily Post
29, December 2019
A video released by Islamic State on Dec. 26 which claims to show the killing of 11 Christian hostages in northern Nigeria threatens to spark religious tensions in the country and compounds the political problems of president Muhammadu Buhari.
The Islamic State sub-group called Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) said the “beheading” of the hostages was part of its campaign to “avenge” the killing of IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a US military raid in Syria last October.
ISWAP is a 2016 breakaway faction of the Nigeria-founded Boko Haram terrorist group. Until last year when more radical leaders took over, ISWAP was led by Abu Mus’ab al-Barnawi, the son of Boko Haram’s founder, Mohammed Yusuf. As well as Nigeria, it operates in Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Mali, all of which are Nigeria’s neighboring countries. In December, the group killed four aid workers from the NGO Action Against Hunger who they originally abducted in Damasak in Nigeria’s northeastern Borno state in July.
In a bid to ward off talk of religious disputes getting widespread, president Buhari said Nigerians shouldn’t allow terrorists split the populace along religious lines. “We should, under no circumstance, let the terrorists divide us by turning Christians against Muslims because these barbaric killers don’t represent Islam and millions of other law-abiding Muslims around the world,” he said in a statement.
Nigeria, whose 200 million-strong population is split almost evenly between Christians and Muslims, is particularly sensitive to the risks of religious tensions being ignited after decades of on-and-off conflict especially in the country’s middle belt region over the last couple of decades. Most recently the region has been subject to vicious clashes between migratory herdsmen and local farmers primarily over land use. As the herdsmen are often Muslim and landowners widely believed to be Christian, these clashes are regularly perceived as religious clashes.
Islamic State’s release of the video came days after the United States government accused Nigeria of not protecting religious freedom. The US State Department on Dec. 18 added Cuba, Nicaragua, Nigeria, and Sudan on a Special Watch List (SWL) of governments that “have engaged on or tolerated severe violations of religious freedom.”
Nigeria and the other three countries now join Comoros, Russia and Uzbekistan on the list. The designation was a triumph of American Christian right groups that have been lobbying the Trump’s administration to appease its evangelical base by taking up the fight of Christians across the globe.
Earlier, Nigeria’s information minister Lai Mohammed rejected Nigeria’s new designation and argued the Trump administration was acting on the basis of a discredited narrative from “failed politicians and disgruntled elements.”
“The deliberate effort to give religious colouration to the farmers-herders clashes and the Boko Haram insurgency, in particular, has undoubtedly helped to mislead the US into concluding that the government is doing little or nothing to guarantee religious freedom in the country,” said Mohammed.
The video of ISWAP killing of Christians says otherwise. In fact, it reinforced what some Nigerian Christian leaders have previously claimed—that the government of Buhari had not done enough to curtail the activities of various Islamic terrorist groups operating in Nigeria.
In his reaction to the US designation of Nigeria amongst countries on SWL, the president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Samson Ayokunle warned “discrimination against Christians can result in another civil war which Nigeria may not survive.” Through a spokesman CAN’s president pointed to killings of Christians in states in the middle-belt region as atrocities that could not have gone unnoticed by the United States. The Christian group alleges that while Muslims have also been killed, the primary targets were Christians.
After initially receiving plaudits for pushing back against the peak of Boko Haram’s rise in Nigeria’s northeast, Buhari’s government, which came to office in 2015, has been more recently criticized over its weak handling of Islamic insurgency, broader conflict and rising insecurity across the country.
As a result of continuing insecurity in Nigeria’s northeast, conservative Christian groups including Washington DC-based Save the Persecuted Christians (STPC) have seized on the killings to urge the Trump administration to appoint a US special envoy to Nigeria and the Lake Chad region to monitor what it called “heightened violence against Christians.”
In conservative media across America, there are barrage of stories emerging about the persecution of Christians in Nigeria. The Christian Post reported Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen have killed over 1,000 Christians in Nigeria in 2019 alone. A separate figure by put the estimated number of dead Nigerians in 10 years of the insurgency as 27,000.
The break away of ISWAP is widely believed to have brought about a change in direction for the Islamic insurgency. What started in 2009 as an indiscriminate campaign of terror against Muslims and Christians alike has in recent times seemed more targeted. From the 2018 kidnapping in Dapchi schoolgirls in Yobe state and the release of the girls with the exception of Leah Sharibu, a Christian, the insurgence seems to have taken a turn to primarily targeting Christians.
Source: Quartz Africa
19, December 2019
Nigeria’s ex-attorney general Mohammed Adoke has returned to the country to face corruption charges over his involvement in one of the oil industry’s biggest corruption scandals.
The country anti-graft body, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC; confirmed his return stating that “The ex-AGF left Dubai following pressure from the EFCC.”
He was arrested by authorities in Dubai in November this year. Adoke’s lawyer, Mike Ozekhome whiles confirming the arrest told Reuters that the warrant used to arrest his client was expired.
Ozekhome said his client was arrested as he went to Dubai for medical appointment, adding that a Nigerian court had nullified the warrant in October because his client was not served with the charges before the warrant was issued.
The EFCC secured warrants in April for two former ministers including Adoke and an Eni manager over the $1.3 billion sale of a Nigerian offshore oilfield by Malabu Oil and Gas in 2011.
The deal has spawned legal cases spanning several countries, involving Nigerian government officials and senior executives from ENI and Royal Dutch Shell. Shell and Eni, and their executives, have denied any wrongdoing.
12, December 2019
The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) said the Federal Government has approved that all Africans could come to Nigeria without Visa from January 2020.
The Comptroller General, NIS, Mr Muhammad Babandede, disclosed this at the inauguration of the Africa–Frontex Intelligence Community (AFIC) on Wednesday in Abuja.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that European border and Coast guard Agency also known as Frontex is an agency of European Union (EU) tasked with border control of the European Schengen Area, in coordination with border and coast guard of Schengen area member states.
“The announcement would be made soon by the President of the Federation.
”But we cannot succeed without a tool like AFIC. This tool is key if we want to implement an effective free movement across our border.
“The tool is actually coming at the right time. AFIC would help African countries especially Nigeria that want to open its border for all Africans to enter at will. And now that tool is available, it would make the work easier for us,” he said.
Babandede said that it was important to acknowledge the different forces in Nigeria curbing crime and insecurity.
“But our duty is unique and you may not see it as it is in Chad, Benin or Cameroon.
“The essence is that we are very keen and we have been working with EU for a long time. Frontex is in charge of border before they got another responsibility called coast guard which is also very keen to Africa especially checking member state of ECOWAS,” he said.
The CGI commended the EU and Frontex delegates for establishing the risk analysis centre, adding that analysis could not be done physically without analytical system.
“I was opportune to be at the Frontex headquarters, and I came with useful tools which are for border and control centre.
”This has brought about the building of border and control centre which will be inaugurated next year. So the analytical system from Frontex, border control system and even mobility would all be in one place,” he said.
Babandede assured the delegates that the service would maintain the equipments and called for more training of officers.
“We assure you of the site maintenance if we have a technical know how of maintaining this system. We have done that with IOM very well.
”All the equipments donated for e-Migrants registration are already been installed by all our trained officers,” he said.
Roman Fantini, the head of sector, Frontex, assured the immigration service of training the officers as requested to help maintain the system and usage.
Fantini said that AFIC was not a new development as it started nine years ago and had since grown to what it was today.
He commended the EU and NIS for collaborating to ensure the security of the country.
Ms Eleni Zerzelidou, EU head of delegates, appreciated the immigration service for beefing up the collaboration by taking a step further to ensure border opening for all Africans by 2020.
Zerzelidou added that the EU would continually support the service in delivering its mandate and ensuring the safety of the country.
She said that the long standing partnership with NIS resulted into border management such as NIS border management strategy, MIDAS, among others.
“But we believe Frontex would do more to compliment all we have done so far in assisting the service and the county at large,” she said.
4, December 2019
Early each morning, a crowd gathers outside Ahmad Isah’s radio studio in Nigeria’s capital Abuja hoping to share their problems over the airwaves.
For those waiting — men and women, young and old — Isah’s Brekete (very big in Pidgin English) Family show offers a rare chance try to hold officials to account in a country where rampant graft and abuses of the justice system often frustrate citizens.
The lucky few who Isah picks each day get to make themselves heard on issues ranging from their struggles against the authorities to medical needs and requests for financial assistance.
The others will have to come back another time.
“My goal is to give a voice to the voiceless, facilitate arbitration, expose wrongdoings and force those in power to respect rights,” Isah told AFP.
“The inspiration is about justice, kindness, and support to humanity.”
Nicknamed the “Ordinary President”, Isah begins his live show on Human Rights radio with a call and response in pidgin, the language widely spoken in Nigeria, to get his audience fired up.
Teacher Winifred Og ah has come to try to get some redress after she says a local court wrongly auctioned off her car for failing to pay rent on her house.
“I believe that the justice you get here, you can’t get it outside,” she told AFP.
“I have been listening to the programme and was encouraged by how other people’s problems were being resolved.”
– ‘Usually unheard’ –
Rights groups in Africa’s most populous nation often complain of a culture of impunity, where the wealthy easily skew the system in their favour and officials rarely have to answer for their misdeeds.
“The voices of the masses in Nigeria are usually unheard because they don’t have the financial muscle or connections to be able to project their views especially when in need of justice,” said Daniel Soe tan, from the Goodwill Ambassadors of Nigeria civil society organisation.
He is a regular listener to Isa’s show and lauds it for “helping to project the voices of ordinary people” in a way that makes it difficult for officials to ignore.
“When these issues are projected, it attracts the attention of the authorities to attend to their plights,” Soe tan said.
“It is a forum that allows people to speak because if they are left with authorities alone, there can be bureaucracies and attempts to silence them.”
Human Rights radio has been on air since 2006 and while Isah did not give precise audience figures he insisted it even had listeners outside Nigeria.
In a country where confidence scams are rife, the show has a checklist of requirements people must go through before they can bring their cases for resolution.
They first need to depose to an affidavit at the High Court in Nigeria in which they swear they are telling the truth.
– ‘Nothing is working’ –
It is not easy taking on the powerful interests deeply entrenched at every level of Nigeria’s federal, regional and local governments.
But Isah insists the radio show’s combative style has had concrete results bringing officials to book.
“Some of them see us as a threat. They don’t like us. We have exposed several corruption cases that other people are afraid to go close to,” he said.
“There is injustice everywhere, government is not accountable, and there is no justice for the poor, bad roads, terrible hospitals. Nothing is working in this country.”
Over 44 percent of Nigeria’s roughly 190 million people are estimated to live in extreme poverty and that fraction is expected to grow as the population expands.
The show also looks to give financial assistance to those in need with support from the MacArthur Foundation and it own fund-raising.
One of the beneficiaries Luis Kinta said the radio had raised two million naira ($5,600, 5000 euros) to boost his shoemaking business.
“I came here without knowing anyone. The good thing is that ordinary president assists without knowing the tribe, religious and affinity of those he supports,” he said.
But the major focus for Isah remains on trying get redress for those wronged by Nigeria’s abusive officials — and the flow of hopefuls bringing cases to him shows no sign of slowing.
“The justice system is only for the rich, not for the poor, So this is why we need this kind of journalism in this country,” he said.
“I will never give up.”
2, December 2019
The Borno State Government said it had donated patrol vehicles to members of Cameroonian vigilante to enhance fight against insurgents in border communities of the state.
Mr Isa Gusau, the Special Adviser on Public Relation and Media Strategy to Gov. Babagana Zulum, made the disclosure in a statement on Monday in Maiduguri.
Gusau dismissed as misleading reports indicating that the vehicles donated by the state government to 150 members of the Cameroonian vigilante violated Nigeria’s sovereignty and military protocols.
He explained that representatives of the government presented vehicles to the Cameroonian vigilante in concert with the Headquarters, 5 Brigade Nigerian Army Cell of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF), Damasak, Mobbar Local Government Area of the state.
Gusau noted that Zulum was a member of the Lake Chad Basin Governors’ Forum established with support of the Federal Government and UN Security Council Committee on counter-terrorism.
He added that the gesture was in line with the forum spirit to enhance cooperation on cross border security among member states.
Gusau said: “Gov. Zulum operational arrangements with the 150 Cameroonian vigilante happened with full involvement of the Nigerian Army’s component in the MNJTF currently fighting Boko Haram in eight regions affected by the insurgents’ attacks in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger Republics.
“The Cameroonian vigilantes are operating in parts of northern Borno; located in the shores of the Lake Chad, and they are operating under the coordination and command of the Nigerian Army Cell of the MNJTF.
“One of the key benefits of having these vigilantes is the latitude to generate and pass on intelligence from border communities in Cameroon and to also pursue insurgents who occasionally flee from Nigerian territories to border communities in Cameroon where Nigerian troops may be constrained to engage them.
“The main objective of the Lake Chad Basin Governor’s Forum is to ease cross border cooperation in the fight against Boko Haram insurgents in the affected countries.”
27, October 2019
How has it been since the refugee camps started?
By October 2017 when this crisis between the Southern Cameroon people and the government of Cameroon started, they got to Nigeria and by our being part of the signatory to the African Union (AU) and European Union (EU) Convention on Refugees, we are not supposed to send any refugees back because of the non-referral policy. So, since that time, we have accommodated them.
We went to the host communities to interface with them; we spoke to the people that the refugees were vulnerable and that they came here out of need. We asked that they should be allowed to be there. SEMA, at the instance of the government of Cross River State, led by Senator Ben Ayade, provided settlements and camps for the refugees. And since then, they have been here.
In mass care of this nature, which we call camp coordination and camp management, we have nine sectors, but they have been fused into about six. These bother on WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) protection; health and education, which fundamentally are their rights, and issues of sustainable livelihood for the refugees.
Initially, when they started, they were given food and non-food items directly. At some point, however, it became necessary to convert the supplies to money. So, as we speak, each Cameroonian or each refugee earns about N7, 200 based on the standard in the food basket. So, if you are five in number, it means you are earning N7, 200 times five in each household (amounting to N36, 000). When you contrast this with what obtains in Nigeria where N18, 000 is what an average household of five takes as minimum wage, you should know the worth of our effort.
The government of Cross River State, by extension the Nigerian government, has taken the Cameroonians and given them refuge. In different ways, they have been united with the host communities. Presently, the refugees are paying almost nothing to have their wards in school up to secondary school, courtesy of the Cross River State government. A primary school pupil pays a stipend of about N1, 000, while a secondary school student pays about N2, 000 because of their vulnerable situation.
The state has also given them settlement areas. There are five of such with two already working – that is Adagom and Okende. There are about 11, 000 inhabitants in Adagom and 4, 000 in Okende, making a total of about 15, 000 refugees that are in the settlements. Given that the settlements were made for less than the population we currently have, the state government, through the Director General, SEMA, have been able to secure a place in Adagom that is a bigger than the current settlement. This is in addition to new ones in Uyia and Oban that would also accommodate refugees.
Regarding the health situation in camp, the refugees have been integrated to state health facilities. Apart from that money paid to them, the health facility and education is free. They also have the right to interface with the communities in terms of livelihood. So, they can go to work and earn a living as Nigerians. There is a policy that ensures that the refugees will not be cheated or undermined. We have a mechanism that takes care of all the fundamental human right of settlers.
How many houses do you have?
We have up to 41 communities and each community has not less than 18 households or houses. In Okende, we have about 15 settlements (houses). We have about 15, 000 refugees here.
And how many refugees do you have in the state?
We have about 45, 000 in the country and Cross River state has more than 60 per cent of those refugees, about 28, 000 or more. Those are the ones that are biometrically registered. But those in the host communities who have not been registered are more. So, as we manage them here, we still go to the host communities where they are. They are in about eight or nine local government areas of Cross River State. They are in Boki, Obanliku, Etung, Akampka, Calabar South and Calabar Municipality, Ogoja and Odukpani.
Do you think their population could overwhelm the state and the Nigeria government in terms of resources?
Human wants are insatiable and in any economy, you have limited resources. The resources have been over-stretched, no doubt. But we have accommodation and we have a way of containing the people even though facilities are over-stretched.
Issues of poor health facilities, poor education standard and discrimination against the refugees have been raised. What is your take on this?
I wouldn’t agree with that. We signed the referral policy of being part of the AU and UN convention that allows for refugees to be part of us. We did that with the knowledge of the entirety of what it contains in terms of their rights and whatever is enshrined in the convention.
For instance, the schools in the host community are the same schools children of the Cameroonians attend. It is the same situation with health. A human being is a human being irrespective of where you come from. So, when you go to a doctor, he will not ask you whether you are a refugee or not. All the doctor knows is that somebody is sick and needs to be attended to.
It is said that since the camp started, over 80 persons have died because of alleged poor health issues and nutrition?
That is not exactly correct. However, they do have the attitude of not going to the hospital or health facility because of their belief in herbs. Some of them only surrender to the medics when their health situation has got to the critical stage. But we are doing a lot of sensitisations in conjunction with SEMA.
Prostitution is alleged to be very high in the camp due to lack of jobs?
Prostitution is not as a result of vulnerability. It is your act or your person. If you want to be promiscuous, you will be promiscuous. There are people in the settlements that are not promiscuous. We have some of them here who are heading organisations in three countries. There are two of them, for instance, that are here; they got jobs and are working and interacting in Ghana and Sierra Leone.
So, if you have come and you want to work, you will work. If you go through Ogoja, most of them are working in different areas. If you don’t have the attitude to work and you want everything to come to you, it is alright. But on the whole, in this intervention, one of the sectors is livelihood and professionals are the ones handling it. The ones willing, who are serious, are getting jobs. As we speak, we are trying to de-emphasis the issue of giving fish to them but to teach them how to fish, which is what they call durable and sustainable solution.
What are the major challenges that you face taking care of the refugees?
Resources are scarce generally. We need more resources, and more hands on deck. Multinational agencies and others should come to our aid and collaborate with UNCHR, the government of Cross River State and by extension, Nigeria. Again, when people come from another area with cultural differences, there would always be issues of variations. But we are trying to manage them to see how we can co-exist.
Source: The Guardian
15, October 2019
Global ride-hailing firm Uber Technologies Inc on Friday launched a pilot test of a boat service in Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos to attract commuters seeking to avoid the megacity’s notoriously congested roads.
The United Nations predicts that Nigeria’s population will more than double to 400 million by 2050, which would make it the third most populous country in the world after China and India.
The combination of population growth and congestion has made Nigeria, and more broadly West Africa, attractive to foreign transport companies.
Uber’s chief business officer told Reuters in June the company planned to launch the service to carry travelers in the Lagos megacity of around 20 million people that is built on a lagoon.
The waterway service, UberBOAT, is operated in partnership with local boat operator Texas Connection Ferries and the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA), said the ride-hailing firm.
“This initiative is aimed at providing commuters with an easy and affordable way to get in and out of the city’s business districts,” Uber said in a statement.
The pilot phase will operate on weekdays from 0700 GMT to 1600 GMT on a fixed route between two locations in the city.
Passengers will be charged a flat fare of 500 naira ($1.39) per trip, compared with about 300 naira by minibus for a similar journey in the commercial hub of the West African country where most people live on less than $2 a day.
At a press conference on Friday, Uber officials said there would be four trips a day, carrying up to 35 people on a boat, during the two-week pilot.
Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the governor of Lagos state, said the Uber boat service, and the use of waterways in general, were part of a raft of initiatives aimed at easing congestion that include a program of road repairs.
“We want ferries that carry 60 to 80 people,” he said, referring to his hopes for the future use of waterways, on Thursday at a forum with businesses.
Uber’s boat initiative follows a number of motorcycle ride-hailing firms that have targeted West Africa as an area for expansion in the last few months.
Technology giant Google also launched a new feature in July that allows Nigerians to hear travel advice in a local voice on Google Maps. Another feature allows users in Lagos to seek directions from “informal transit” services, such as private minibuses.
Source: Africa News