Chad votes to send troops to Cameroon, Nigeria to fight Boko Haram

Chad’s parliament voted Friday to send armed forces to Cameroon and Nigeria to fight Boko Haram a day after President Idriss Deby Itno announced his intention to join the fight against the Islamists. A convoy roared out of the city after Chad’s parliament voted to send armed forces to Cameroon and Nigeria to fight against the Islamists.

Cameroon’s President Paul Biya had announced Thursday that Chad President Idriss Deby had decided to send “a substantial contingent” of troops to help Cameroonian armed forces who have faced repeated attacks from Boko Haram.

A source close to the army said the force had begun preparing for departure on Thursday.

Earlier on Friday, Chad’s parliament in N’Djamena voted 150 to 0 to send an unspecified number of “Chadian armed troops and security forces to assist Cameroonian and Nigerian soldiers waging war against the terrorists in Cameroon and Nigeria”.

Boko Haram is fighting to create a hardline Islamic state in northeast Nigeria along the border with Chad, Cameroon and Niger.


NE Nigeria suicide bombing kills five, wounds 11

A suicide bomber killed at least five people and wounded 11 on Friday near a marketplace in northeastern Nigeria, an emergency services official told AFP.

“It was a suicide bombing,” said Saidu Ahmed Minin, head of operation of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in Gombe. “Six people were killed including the bomber and 11 others were injured. We evacuated them to the hospital.”

Witnesses said the blast went off at 7:25 pm (1825 GMT) in the packed market neighbourhood of Kasuwar Arawa, close to the public university in Gombe, which is capital of Gombe state.

“The bomber went into the crowd of people waiting to recharge their telephones” at a public charging station “and then set off the explosive,” taxi driver Idris Babandada told AFP by telephone. “The explosion shook the whole neighbourhood.”

No one claimed immediate responsiblity for the attack, but Boko Haram militants are increasingly powerful in the north-east of Nigeria and Gombe has been hit by several suicide bombers recently, most of them at bus stations and near military installations.

An aid worker in Gombe said that the injured were being treated by aid volunteers and nurses, because doctors in the city were on strike.

Photo Credits : AFP

Cholera kills 20 in Nigeria

A cholera outbreak in southern Nigeria’s Rivers State has killed 20 people and infected scores more, the state health commissioner, Sampson Parker, said Wednesday.

Parker, a physician, said the outbreak was recorded in 11 communities in the Andoni local government (municipality) of the oil-rich state.

“So far, 171 cases have been recorded, with 20 deaths, in the outbreak which was reported on January 5,” he said.

Parker said two treatment centres had been opened in the affected communities to manage cases.

“Emergency drugs and rehydration fluids have been provided,” he said, adding that the outbreak has been put under control.

World Health Organisation physician Sylvester Malemi said his agency would provide technical support to the state to tackle the outbreak.

He advised residents of the affected areas to boil their water before drinking and maintain good hygiene.

Cholera, a highly contagious intestinal infection, is transmitted by water soiled by human waste. The disease leads to diarrhoea, dehydration and death if untreated.

Photo Credits : AFP

Nigeria calls for support after ‘deadliest’ Boko Haram attack

Nigeria’s military has called for support in tackling Boko Haram after a major attack on a key northeast town that is feared could be the worst in the bloody six-year insurgency.

There are still no independently corroborated figures for the huge numbers said to have been killed in Baga, on the shores of Lake Chad in the far north of Borno State.

But defence spokesman Chris Olukolade said in a statement issued late Saturday that the description of the assault as “the deadliest” was “quite valid”.

“The attack on the town by the bloodhounds and their activities since January 3rd, 2015 should convince well-meaning people all over the world that Boko Haram is the evil all must collaborate to end, rather than vilifying those working to check them,” he said.

Nigeria’s military — West Africa’s largest — has faced repeated criticism for failing to end the six-year Islamist insurgency, as well as allegations of human rights abuses.

Soldiers have complained of a lack of adequate weapons and even refused to deploy to take on the better-armed rebels, who want to create a hardline Islamic state in northeast Nigeria.

With elections set for next month, Nigeria’s government has also been accused of playing politics with the insurgency, as most of the areas worst affected by the violence are main opposition strongholds.

But Olukolade said: “The Nigerian military has not given up on Baga and other localities where terrorist activities are now prevalent.

“Appropriate plans, men and resources are presently being mobilised to address the situation,” he said on, in the military’s first detailed comment on last weekend’s attack.

The military and government often makes such statements, without giving specific details, yet there are reports of attacks on an almost daily basis.

On Saturday, two explosions rocked northeast Nigeria, including one by a suicide bomber at a crowded market in the Borno State capital, Maiduguri, by a young girl thought to be just 10. Nineteen people were killed.

Photo Credits : AFP

Nigeria’s Jonathan claims assassination plot

Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan has claimed that the leader of a home-grown militant group currently serving time in South Africa for terror offences had tried to kill him.

The head of state said in a speech in Lagos on Thursday that Henry Okah, who headed the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) had been tasked to carry out the assassination.

He alleged that Okah, whose group fought for a greater share of oil wealth in the 2000s, “was procured by some Nigerians to assassinate me”.

“And Okah bombed Abuja. The attempt was to assassinate me,” he told supporters of his ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Okah, an engineer, was convicted of 13 counts of terrorism in 2013 and sentenced to 24 years in jail in South Africa, where he has permanent residency.

The charges related to twin bombings at celebrations of Nigeria’s 50 years of independence on October 1, 2010, which killed at least 12 in Abuja, and two other bombings in the southern oil hub of Warri in March that year.

“Intelligence investigation from South Africa intelligence system and Nigerian intelligence system roped him in that plan to assassinate me,” Jonathan told the crowd.

Jonathan has never before said that he was the subject of an assassination plot and despite MEND’s claim of responsibility for the attack, indicated that other forces were responsible.

“People just use the name of MEND to camouflage criminality and terrorism,” he said in a televised interview at the time.

He was responding on Thursday to an apparent statement from the group, which was active in the oil-producing southern Niger Delta region until a government amnesty.

In it, a purported MEND spokesman, Jomo Gbomo, claimed that it was backing opposition candidate Muhammadu Buhari in next month’s presidential elections.

Gbomo on Friday challenged Jonathan to reveal the names of those he claimed were behind the plot and explain why they were not arrested, tried and convicted.

Jonathan’s spokesman Reuben Abati was not immediately available when contacted by AFP.

Okah, who claims the terror charges against him were politically motivated, last November began an appeal against his conviction, arguing that the South African court had no right to try him.

Photo Credits : AFP

Boko Haram kidnaps 185 women and children, kills 32 people

Boko Haram insurgents kidnapped at least 185 women and children, and killed 32 people in a raid in northeastern Nigeria this week, local officials and residents said.

Gunmen in pickup trucks attacked the village of Gumsuri, just north of Chibok, on Sunday, shooting down men before herding women and children together.

“They gathered the women and children and took them away in trucks after burning most of the village with petrol bombs,” a local government official said on condition anonymity for fear of reprisal.

News of the attack took four days to emerge because of a lack of communication. Telecommunications towers in the region had been disabled in previous attacks.

Local officials learned of the attack from residents who fled to Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, where the officials had moved to a year ago to escape Boko Haram attacks.

The militants stormed the village from two directions, overwhelming local vigilantes who had repelled Boko Haram attacks over the course of the year, said Gumsuri resident Umar Ari, who trekked for four days to Maiduguri.

‎”They destroyed almost half the village and took away 185 women, girls and boys,” Ari said.‎

Resident Modu Kalli said the militants fired heavy machine guns on the village and poured canisters of gasoline on houses before setting them on fire.

“We lost everything in the attack. I escaped with nothing, save the clothes I have on me,” Kalli said.

Hundreds of residents of Gumsuri continue to arrive in Maiduguri, which has been struggling to accommodate thousands of residents fleeing towns and villages overrun by Boko Haram.




Nigerian luxury handbags: making a mark overseas

Mention northern Nigeria and the first thing that may spring to mind is Boko Haram. Zainab Ashadu is hoping to change that — by selling designer handbags.

The Nigerian designer is the brains behind the Zashadu brand, whose modern, colourful creations use the ancient art of tanning and leather-dyeing from the country’s north.

“I think people like the story behind the bags. They like the fact that the bag has roots and origins,” the 32-year-old told AFP at her bustling workshop in a working class district of Lagos.

From the cramped premises in Festac, which buzzes with the sound of Singer sewing machines, a team of about half a dozen artisans make between 200 and 300 bags every year.

Ashadu’s parents were from the north, which is these days rarely out of the news because of the Islamist insurgency that has been raging since 2009.

But the region has long been known for its high-quality leather, which the designer turns into clutch purses and handbags that sell overseas for between 150-800 euros ($180-980, 120-630 pounds).

The leather comes from the north’s biggest city, Kano, goatskin from the ancient northwestern city of Sokoto as well as python skin from snake farms in the region.

– Sustainability, know-how –

Unlike European fashion houses, which import raw leather from Nigeria and then tan and dye it overseas, Ashadu decided to make use of the centuries of know-how of artisans in Kano.

“It is very important for me to work in a sustainable way,” she said.

“I work with small families of tanners, the animals are traceable, we use vegetable dyes and other environmentally friendly dyes, and also the dyers work all together to save energy.”

The designer gets her inspiration from hours of hunting for bargains in the maze of stalls in the huge Mushin market, in the Lagos suburbs.

The market sells Nigerian leather off-cuts and rejects, particularly from Italian fashion houses.

“It’s so vibrant… there’s so much leather available and sometimes the sellers have no idea of the quality of what they sell,” said Ashadu.

“There’s antelope — that is very soft — there’s goatskin, sheepskin…”

From there, the material is turned into bags by her team, all of whom have been trained at a specialist school of leatherwork in the northern city of Zaria.

– Adaptability key –

Ashadu is one of an increasing number of returning Nigerians or “repats”, chancing their arm in their home country after years spent overseas.

She spent her early childhood years in Lagos but was a teenager in London, where she was variously a model, actress, buyer and architecture student.

She came back in 2010 and has had to adapt to a different way of doing business.

“You need to be tough-skinned, adaptable and to have a great sense of humour,” she said.

“Nigeria is a very hard place to… do anything, let’s put it that way. It’s definitely very hard to run a business. But it’s more earthy. You feel like your feet are on the ground.”

Understanding and adapting to a different style of doing business is key to getting ahead, with some overseas firms looking to invest in Nigeria put off by red tape and logistical constraints.

Power cuts that often last more than 12 hours are a major problem and force businesses to invest in huge, costly electricity generators.

At Ashadu’s workshop, in a modest house belonging to her family, power comes from a small generator.

What’s important is adapting as much as possible to how her employees work, rather than trying to apply to the letter what she learnt at the London College of Fashion.

– ‘Made in Africa’ –

Zashadu bags have won a small but loyal following locally. Private sales have been held in unexpected locations such as a hotel suite with champagne and macaroons and at an upmarket yacht club.

French designer Charlotte Ziegler, who sells Zashadu bags at the Franck et Fils department store, said she was intrigued by Ashadu’s unusual profile and also its “sustainable luxury”.

But she admits it was a risk.

“For 200 or 400 euros, people sometimes prefer to buy a product with a (recognised) designer label,” she said.

Ashadu is confident and knows that she’s tapped into a trend.

“People love Africa and Africa is something that is new in this way and people love to jump on bandwagons,” she said.

“And this one ticks all the boxes: it’s made in Africa, it’s beautiful-looking, it’s made sustainably, it’s international.”

Nigeria’s falling currency

Nigeria’s central bank devalued the naira by 8 percent and raised interest rates sharply on Tuesday, as it sought to stem losses to its foreign reserves from defending the currency against weaker oil prices.

The bank moved the naira’s target band to 160-176 to the U.S. dollar, compared with 150-160 naira previously, owing to prolonged naira weakness and high dollar demand.

The last time it devalued was in November 2011, when it lowered the band from 145-150 naira to the dollar.

The bank also raised its benchmark interest rate by a hefty 100 basis points to 13 percent, the first change in the policy rate for more than two years.

The naira has taken a beating over the past few months, as falling oil prices have shaken confidence in the assets of Africa’s leading energy producer and biggest economy.

Defending the devaluation, central bank Governor Godwin Emefiele said efforts to prop up the naira had led to “dwindling foreign reserves” and that a “more flexible exchange rate is the most viable option”.

“Falling oil prices have consistently reduced the accretion to external reserves, thus constraining the ability of the bank to continually defend the naira and sustain the stability of the naira exchange rate,” Emefiele said.

He forecast a sustained drop in the oil price, saying the government’s benchmark oil price of $73 a barrel in its 2015 budget may be overoptimistic.

The naira opened at a record low on Monday of 178.25 and the central bank sold dollars outside of its target band, giving an early signal of the devaluation to come. But its decision to raise interest rates as well on Tuesday took analysts by surprise.

Source: Reuters

Nigerian village buries 45 after Boko Haram slaughter

At least 45 people were killed in a Boko Haram reprisal attack on a village in northeastern Nigeria, the epicentre of the Islamists’ five-year insurgency, the head of the local government and a military source said on Friday.

The military source said the militants stormed the village in Wednesday’s attack to avenge four of their members who had wandered into the market but were identified and killed by soldiers in a gun fight.

“The Boko Haram militants mobilised and came on a reprisal,” the source told Reuters in the Borno state capital Maiduguri.  The attack on Azaya Kura village occurred on a busy market day, Shettima Lawan, chairman of Mafa district council said by telephone.  “They slaughtered 45 people


Tear gas and chaos shut down Nigeria’s parliament

Nigerian police fired tear gas and prevented the Speaker of the lower house of parliament, who has defected to the opposition, from presiding over a session on Thursday.

Senate President David Mark shut down the national assembly, postponing debate on a bill to extend a state of emergency in three states hit by insurgency, after the chaos erupted.

“After a due consultation with my colleagues in both chambers of National Assembly on this ugly development we have therefore agreed that today’s session be suspended forthwith,” Senate President David Mark said, adding that the assembly will reconvene on Tuesday.

Nigeria, Africa’s top oil producer, is battling a currency crisis exacerbated by falling global oil prices, as well as the Islamist insurgency in three northeastern states.

Parliament was convening for the first time since Speaker Aminu Tambuwal, whose post is the fourth most powerful in the country, switched political sides before presidential elections in February to join the opposition to President Goodluck Jonathan.


Female suicide bomber kills one at a Nigeria college

A female suicide bomber blew herself up at a teacher training college in Nigeria on Wednesday, killing at least one other person in the second such attack on an educational institution this week, police and a witness said.

The blast hit Kontagora in central Niger State two days after a suicide bomber dressed as a student killed at least 48 secondary school pupils in the northeastern Nigerian town of Potiskum.

No one has claimed responsibility for either assault. But Nigerian Islamist militant group Boko Haram has used female suicide bombers before and attacked schools it says spread corrupting Western ideas.

The woman’s device went off around midday as she tried to enter the library at Federal College of Education, Kontagora, student Samson Kazah told Reuters. He said he saw at least one other body and the explosion wounded one of his friends.

“The female suicide bomber blew herself up before reaching her target,” said a police spokesman.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan promised on Tuesday to defeat Boko Haram as he announced he would stand for a second term in February elections.

Source :Reuters


Suicide bomber kills 46 students at Nigeria school

BBC – At least 46 students have been killed by a suicide bomber at a school assembly in the north-eastern Nigerian town of Potiskum, police have said.

A suicide bomber dressed as a student is believed to have caused the blast at the boys’ school in Yobe state .

Police suggested the militant group Boko Haram carried out the attack.

Yobe state’s governor has shut all public schools around Potiskum and criticised the government for not tackling the group.

In a statement governor Ibrahim Gaidam said: “Urgent action must be taken right now to restore a fast-waning public confidence by doing whatever it takes to stop the escalating violence.”

Boko Haram has targeted schools during a deadly five-year insurgency aimed at establishing an Islamic state.

Nigeria given till Friday or face FIFA ban

Nigeria have been given until Friday to overturn a recent court ruling that voided its football elections or Fifa will ban them until May 2015.

In a letter sent to the Nigerian Football Federation on Tuesday, Fifa said their directive must be met by midday, 31 October.

Fifa wants the reinstatement of the NFF board that was elected on 30 September.

If Nigeria fail to comply, they will be expelled from qualification for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations.

The Super Eagles are the reigning champions but are now facing the very real prospect of missing the chance to defend their title at the 17 January to 8 February finals.

They will be banned from all football unless a court decision that sacked the country’s recently elected FA executives is not overturned by Friday, world governing body FIFA announced on Tuesday.

A leadership crisis has bedeviled the African champions for the past four months despite several interventions by FIFA, who have now warned it will slap a lengthy ban on it.

Nigeria’s Super Eagles sack head coach Stephen Keshi

Nigeria’s Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi has been sacked by the executive committee of the Nigeria Football Federation with Amodu Shuaibu set to take over from him to lead the team in the final two games of the African Nations Cup Qualifiers.

This comes just after Nigeria triumphed over Sudan 3-1 in Abuja yesterday.

The statement issued to the press today reads, “In recognition of their contributions to the Nigerian game, the Executive Committee also approved that the trio of Keshi, Amokachi and Shorounmu should proceed to any coaching course of their choice in any country of their choice to build their capacity, at the expense of the NFF. All their entitlements will be paid within the next fortnight.”

The NFF said the decision was reached in the interest of Nigerian football and the desire to ensure qualification for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations finals thus their sacking was with immediate effect

Nigeria’s “megachurches” a hidden pillar of Africa’s top economy

When a guesthouse belonging to one of Nigeria’s leading Christian pastors collapsed last month, killing 115 mostly South African pilgrims, attention focused on the multi million-dollar “megachurches” that form a huge, untaxed sector of one of Africa’s top economies.

Hundreds of millions of dollars change hands each year in these popular Pentecostal houses of worship, which are modelled on their counterparts in the United States.

But exactly how much of Nigeria’s $510 billion GDP they make up is difficult to assess, since the churches are, like the oil sector in Africa’s top energy producer, largely opaque entities.

In 2011, Forbes magazine estimated the fortunes of Nigeria’s five richest pastors. Oyedepo topped the list, with an estimated net worth of $150 million. He was followed by “Pastor Chris” Oyakhilome of Believers’ LoveWorld Incorporated, also known as the Christ Embassy and popular with executives and politicians, on $30 million to $50 million. TB Joshua, pastor of the Synagogue Church of All Nations, at the centre of the recent diplomatic storm over the deaths in its guesthouse, was thought to have $10 million to $15 million.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) declined to comment on how churches fit into their GDP figures, but a source there said they were included as “non-profit”, which falls under “other services” in the latest figures. In 2013, the category contributed 2.5 percent of GDP, the same as the financial sector.

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IT expert steals equivalent of SH3.5B from bank where he worked

A Nigerian IT worker is being sought by police for his alleged role in co-ordinating a £25m ($40m) cyber-theft at a bank in Abuja where he worked.

Godswill Oyegwa Uyoyou is being sought by Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

A wanted notice claims he helped conspirators dressed as maintenance staff get into the bank so they could use computers to transfer cash.

Local reports suggest the theft was spotted when stolen cash was withdrawn.

Although no members of the gang have been caught, several are being “tracked”, Wilson Uwujaren, a spokesman for the EFCC, told News Nigeria.

Details of the robbery are scant but it is thought that Mr Uyoyou and conspirators entered the bank on a Saturday when it was closed and no other staff were working.



Deaths from Nigeria church guest house collapse rise to 41

(Reuters) – The number of people killed in the collapse of a guest house under construction at the Lagos headquarters of one of Nigeria’s best-known Christian evangelical pastors rose to 41 on Sunday, rescuers said, as they worked to clear the wreckage.

The five-story building in the Ikotun neighborhood of Lagos collapsed on Friday, and Farinloye said some 130 people had been pulled out alive with varying degrees of injury.

Local media showed a mound of flattened concrete and twisted steel wires at the compound belonging to the Synagogue Church of All Nations, which is headed by “Prophet” T.B. Joshua, who has followers across Africa and around the world.

“We have 41 dead now,” Ibrahim Farinloye, spokesman in Lagos for Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), said.

On Friday after the collapse, members of the church had at first prevented emergency officials from participating in the rescue, making it difficult to establish a toll for the dead and injured. But state rescuers were allowed in on Saturday.

“We’re still working at the site,” said Farinloye, adding he expected the clear-up would extend into Monday.

There was no immediate explanation for the collapse.

Emergency services officials said the lower two floors of the building located in the large church compound had already been operating as a guest house, and it appeared construction work was underway to add three more floors

(Reporting by Pascal Fletcher; Editing by Ralph Boulton)

Nigeria closes all schools until October over Ebola fears

All schools in Nigeria have been ordered to remain shut until 13 October as part of measures to prevent the spread of the deadly Ebola virus.

The new academic year was due to start on Monday.

But the education minister ordered the closures to allow staff to be trained on how to handle suspected Ebola cases.

Five people have died of Ebola in Nigeria. The West Africa outbreak has centred on Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, killing more than 1,400 people.

It is the largest ever outbreak and has infected an estimated 2,615 people. About half of those infected have died.