Christian Jonathan's mother was holding the 9-month-old boy in her arms when she was shot dead during an attack on their village in northwestern Nigeria. The assailants cut off one of Christian's finger and abandoned him by the side of the road with a bullet wound in his tiny leg. "They left him on the ground beside his mother's body," said Joshua Jonathan, Christian's father. "They thought the boy was dead." The late-night attack in April in Runji in Kaduna State left 33 people dead, most of them burned alive or shot dead. Many more have been killed since in the continuing clashes between nomadic cattle herders and farming communities in northwest and central regions of the West African nation, including more than 100 this month in Plateau state. The decadeslong violence is becoming more deadly, killing at least 2,600 people in 2021, according to the most recent data from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project. Once armed with sticks, the groups now fight with guns that have been smuggled into the country. Both sides accuse the government of injustice and marginalization, but the clashes have also taken on a religious dimension, giving rise to militias that side with the herders, who are primarily Muslim, or the farmers from Christian communities. The growing security crisis presents a huge challenge for Nigeria's incoming president, Bola Tinubu, who rose to power in Nigeria — Africa's largest economy and among its top oil producers — promising to improve the lives of affected communities and address the root causes of the crisis by providing jobs and ensuring justice. Tinubu's inauguration is scheduled for Monday. If the violence isn't reined in, analysts say, it could further destabilize the country and drive more of its 216 million people into poverty. U.N. agencies say the violence affects mostly children, who are already threatened by malnutrition, and women, who are often abducted and forced into marriage. The response of security forces can be slow and arrests are rare, prompting a growing number of communities to defend themselves when they come under siege. "There is a substantial loss of confidence in the government as a protector of citizens," said Nnamdi Obasi, the senior adviser for Nigeria at the International Crisis Group. Obasi warned that the failure of the incoming administration to speedily resolve the conflict would lead to "more people seeking their own self-defense, more proliferation of weapons, more criminal groups and a rise in organized armed groups." In Runji, an agrarian village, The Associated Press spoke to some survivors in hospital beds and others touring a mass grave and their razed houses. They said they were under attack for hours and that the gunmen fled long before security forces arrived. Every household bears a scar. Christopher Dauda's family was trying to escape when the gunmen caught up with his wife and four children, killing all five. Danjuma Joshua's two daughters were shot in the back while they tried to flee. In the home of Asabe Philip, who survived but has burns all over her body, the assailants burned five children alive as they cowered in one room. Christian's aunt has tried to fill the void left by the killing of his mother. His father said Christian cries a lot and barely sleeps, although his physical wounds are gradually healing. "We try to manage with what we have left," Joshua Jonathan said. On the other side of the conflict, the herders say they are also under attack. They complain of cattle rustling and extrajudicial killings by local security groups working as community vigilantes. Abdullahi Bello Bodejo, the president of the national herders' association, denied that anyone in the group was responsible for the violence. Most of the herders belong to the Fulanis, an ethnic group. "Fulanis are not the killers. Any person carrying out killings is not our member. Sometimes, when communities accuse us of killings, 75% is not true; they have their own crisis but always blame Fulanis," said Bodejo. Nigerian security forces say they have arrested dozens of gunmen and recovered their weapons. But the assailants are estimated to number in the thousands and can easily recruit new members, according to Abdulaziz Abdulaziz, a conflict researcher. "There is a limit to the kinetic (military) operations, as it doesn't address the socioeconomic issue that gave rise to banditry in the region in the first place," said Oluwole Ojewale of the Africa-focused Institute of Security Studies. He said the incoming Tinubu administration must work with state governments to address unemployment, poverty and social injustice. The recent violence has led to the formation of community, state and regional security outfits that experts say could create bigger problems for Nigeria's security architecture if not properly monitored. And their recruits are young. Felix Sunday, a college student in Kaduna, said that he was 16 when he joined a local vigilante group in 2021, and that he struggles to combine the night watch with his studies. Across much of West and Central Africa, porous national borders facilitate the smuggling of weapons. A survey-based report published in 2021 by the Geneva-based Small Arms Survey in collaboration with the Nigerian government found that at least 6 million firearms may have been in the hands of civilians in the country at the time. The military and police have recovered hundreds of firearms in Nigeria in the last year, but weapons dealers elsewhere are exacerbating the problem. "Things have gotten considerably worse. Some are large military weapons imported from other countries," said Confidence MacHarry with the Lagos-based SBM Intelligence security firm. With sophisticated weapons, the gunmen have launched daring attacks in areas with a heavy security presence, including a military base and an airport in Kaduna, indicating that the problem may be the motivation of the security forces themselves. Survivors of the attack in Plateau told the AP that the police didn't arrive until the next day, echoing comments from people living in Runji, which has a security checkpoint nearby. "When we call the soldiers, it is after the attackers have left that the soldiers come. Even if we hear they (the attackers) are coming and we report to the government, they don't take proactive action," said Simon Njam, a vigilante leader near Runji who uses bows, arrows and locally-made guns to secure the area. Part of the problem is that the security forces are disorganized and unprepared to respond to the attacks, according to Kabir Adamu, the founder of Beacon Consulting, a security firm based in Nigeria's capital, Abuja. "We don't have a coordinated security sector that identifies and counters threats," he said. "They need to work together to protect lives and currently, we are not seeing enough of that." The Nigerian military and police didn't respond to written and phone inquiries seeking a response to the claims. As more families mourn the loss of their loved ones, forced to replace farmland with graveyards, their priority is demanding justice. "How can people just come and kill and nothing will happen?" asked Dauda in Runji, remembering his life with his wife and four children. "They cannot bring back my lost family, but the government can at least rebuild my home and ensure justice."
At least 30 people were killed in an attack on an internally displaced person's camp in north-central Nigeria, the second major attack in the area this week, authorities said Saturday. Gunmen attacked civilians in Mgban village in Benue state Friday evening and an investigation is underway, said Sewuese Anene, a local police officer. While it's unclear who was responsible for the attack, authorities said suspicion fell on local herdsmen who have clashed in the past with farmers over land disputes in north-central Nigeria. The farmers accuse the herders, mostly of Fulani origin, of grazing their livestock on their farms and destroying their produce. The herders insist that the lands are grazing routes that were first backed by law in 1965, five years after the country gained its independence. The people attacked had been displaced from fighting between farmers and cattle herders and were seeking refuge in a makeshift displacement site. The violence comes days after gunmen killed at least 50 people in two separate attacks on Umogidi village in the state, which is referred to as “Nigeria’s food basket” because of its bountiful harvests. The villages are some 170 kilometers (105 miles) away from Friday's attack, however, it's unclear if the same group was responsible for both attacks.
Ruling party candidate Bola Tinubu was declared winner of Nigeria's presidential election early Wednesday, with the two leading opposition candidates already demanding a revote in Africa's most populous nation. Election officials' overnight announcement was likely to lead to a court challenge by his main opponents Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi. Abubakar also finished second in the last vote in 2019, then appealed those results before his lawsuit ultimately was dismissed. On Tuesday, the two leading opposition parties had demanded a revote, saying that delays in uploading election results had made room for irregularities. The ruling All Progressives Congress party urged the opposition to accept defeat and not cause trouble. Tinubu received 37% of the vote, or nearly 8.8 million, while main opposition candidate Abubakar won 29% with almost 7 million. Third-place finisher Obi took 25% with about 6.1 million, according to the results announced on live television by the Independent National Electoral Commission. Also Read: Nigerian delegation discusses Dhaka-Abuja trade potential with BGMEA Tinubu "having satisfied the requirements of the law, is hereby declared the winner and is returned elected,” said the country’s election chief, Mahmood Yakubu. The announcement came after 4 a.m., but celebrations already had started late Tuesday at the ruling party’s national secretariat where Tinubu’s supporters had gathered in anticipation of his victory. “None of the others matches his record!” said Babafemi Akin as he chatted excitedly about the prospects of a Tinubu administration. “I am sure he will do well.” Tinubu, 70, is the former governor of Lagos state, home to Nigeria's megacity of the same name. However, he lost the state in Saturday's election to Obi, who drew a strong following among younger voters eager for change. The parties now have three weeks to appeal results, but an election can be invalidated only if it's proven the national electoral body largely didn’t follow the law and acted in ways that could have changed the result. The Supreme Court of Nigeria has never overturned a presidential election, though court challenges are common, including by outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari, who doggedly fought his past election losses for months in vain. Nigeria’s presidential election has been closely watched as the country is not only the continent’s largest economy but it is also one of the continent’s top oil producers. Observers have said Saturday’s election was mostly peaceful, though delays caused some voters to wait until the following day to cast their ballots. Many Nigerians had difficulties getting to their polling stations because of a currency redesign that resulted in a shortage of bank notes.
A delegation comprising high officials of different ministries of the Nigerian government paid a visit to Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) President Faruque Hassan in Dhaka Monday (January 16, 2023). The delegation included Abubakar Aliyu Aziz, director general of the National Identity Management Commission, MaskaUbale Ahmed Shehi, executive commissioner of the Communications Commission, Alhassan Haru, director of Communications Commission, and Roberts Moses Achanya, president of the Nigeria-Bangladesh Trade and Technology Forum. BGMEA Director Barrister Vidiya Amrit Khan, Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association Vice-President Fazlee Shamim Ehsan and Fakir Fashion Managing Director Fakir Kamruzzaman Nahid were also present. Read more: Bangladesh, Nigeria to explore possibility of signing framework agreement on FTA or PTA They had discussions about possible areas of collaboration between Bangladesh and Nigeria for bilateral trade benefits, particularly in the apparel and textile industry. Faruque said there is potential to import more cotton from Nigeria which is a cotton-producing nation. "Nigeria is also a potential market for Bangladesh's apparel export." He called upon the Nigerian government to reduce import duty on readymade garments (RMG) from Bangladesh and requested cooperation from the delegation in this regard. Read More: Bangladesh, Nigeria to explore possibility of signing framework agreement on FTA or PTA
Bangladesh and Nigeria agreed to explore the possibility of signing a framework agreement on a free-trade agreement (FTA) or preferential trade agreement (PTA), the Foreign Ministry said Saturday. The sides also agreed to consider signing an agreement between the apex chambers of the two countries and establishing cooperation in the IT and ICT sectors. At the invitation of Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen, a 17-member government and private sector delegation of Nigeria is in Dhaka now. The Nigerian delegation, led by Communication and Digital Economy Minister Professor Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, comprises government representatives from the economic, trade and investment department, Communication and National Identity Management commissions, the education department, the High Commission of Nigeria in New Delhi, private sector representatives from the Nigeria-Bangladesh Trade and Technology Forum and businessmen. Read more: Bangladesh, Nigeria to explore possibility of signing framework agreement on FTA or PTA Pantami had a bilateral meeting with Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi today. The commerce minister said mutual trade between Bangladesh and Nigeria is steadily growing and the Bangladesh government is making efforts to augment trade and commerce with Nigeria. Tipu said there is a huge potential for cooperation in economic areas like manufacturing and garments industries. He underlined the importance of more contacts among the chambers and businesses of the two countries and suggested the formation of a joint business council. Pantami talked about Bangladesh's excellence in the IT and garments sectors. Tipu sought continued support from the Nigerian government on the Rohingya issue as well as at different UN elections where Bangladesh has launched candidature. He also urged the Nigerian government to set up a diplomatic mission in Dhaka. Read more: Dhaka, Abuja agree to explore possibilities in contract farming, cooperation in agro, food processing
Gunmen opened fire on worshippers and detonated explosives at a Catholic church in southwestern Nigeria on Sunday, leaving dozens feared dead, state lawmakers said. The attackers targeted the St. Francis Catholic Church in Ondo state just as the worshippers gathered on Pentecost Sunday, legislator Ogunmolasuyi Oluwole said. Among the dead were many children, he said. The presiding priest was abducted as well, said Adelegbe Timileyin, who represents the Owo area in Nigeria’s lower legislative chamber. Also read:Children among 31 killed at church fair stampede in Nigeria “Our hearts are heavy," Ondo Governor Rotimi Akeredolu tweeted Sunday. “Our peace and tranquility have been attacked by the enemies of the people.” Authorities did not immediately release an official death toll. Timileyin said at least 50 people had been killed, though others put the figure higher. Videos appearing to be from the scene of the attack showed church worshippers lying in pools of blood while people around them wailed. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said “only fiends from the nether region could have conceived and carried out such dastardly act,” according to a statement from his spokesman. “No matter what, this country shall never give in to evil and wicked people, and darkness will never overcome light. Nigeria will eventually win,” said Buhari, who was elected after vowing to end Nigeria’s prolonged security crisis. In Rome, Pope Francis responded to news of the attack. “The pope has learned of the attack on the church in Ondo, Nigeria and the deaths of dozens of worshippers, many children, during the celebration of Pentecost. While the details are being clarified, Pope Francis prays for the victims and the country, painfully affected at a time of celebration, and entrusts them both to the Lord so that he may send his spirit to console them,” the pope said in a statement issued by the Vatican press office. Also read:Police say man shoots 2 females, self outside Iowa church It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack on the church. While much of Nigeria has struggled with security issues, Ondo is widely known as one of Nigeria's most peaceful states. The state, though, has been caught up in a rising violent conflict between farmers and herders. Nigeria's security forces did not immediately respond to questions about how the attack occurred or if there are any leads about suspects. Owo is about 345 kilometers (215 miles) east of Lagos. “In the history of Owo, we have never experienced such an ugly incident," said lawmaker Oluwole. “This is too much.”
A stampede Saturday at a church charity event in southern Nigeria left 31 people dead and seven injured, police told The Associated Press, a shocking development at a program that aimed to offer hope to the needy. One witness said the dead included a pregnant woman and many children. The stampede at the event organized by the Kings Assembly Pentecostal church in Rivers state involved people who came to the church’s annual “Shop for Free” charity program, according to Grace Iringe-Koko, a police spokeswoman. Such events are common in Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, where more than 80 million people live in poverty, according to government statistics. Saturday’s charity program was supposed to begin at 9 a.m. but dozens arrived as early as 5 a.m. to secure their place in line, Iringe-Koko said. Somehow the locked gate was broken open, creating a stampede, she said. Godwin Tepikor from Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency said first responders were able to evacuate the bodies of those trampled to death and bring them to the morgue. Security forces cordoned off the area. READ: Nigeria attacks: Hundreds reported killed as bandits target villages Dozens of residents later thronged the scene, mourning the dead and offering any assistance they could to emergency workers. Doctors and emergency workers treated some of the injured as they lay in the open field. Videos from the scene showed the clothing, shoes and other items meant for the beneficiaries. One witness who only identified himself as Daniel said "there were so many children” among the dead. Five of the dead children were from one mother, he told the AP, adding that a pregnant woman also lost her life. Some church members were attacked and injured by relatives of the victims after the stampede, according to witness Christopher Eze. The church declined to comment on the situation. The police spokeswoman said the seven injured were “responding to treatment." The “Shop for Free” event was suspended while authorities investigated how the stampede occurred. Nigeria has seen similar stampedes in the past. Twenty-four people died at an overcrowded church gathering in the southeastern state of Anambra in 2013, while at least 16 people were killed in 2014 when a crowd got out of control during a screening for government jobs in the nation's capital, Abuja.
A disaster triggered by a severe downpour on Monday evening in northeast Nigeria's Yobe state killed five people, a statement from the emergency agency said on Tuesday. The rain was accompanied by very strong winds, causing havoc on residents and buildings in some communities of Damaturu, the state capital, said the State Emergency Management Agency in a statement. "A total of 41 victims from six different communities were evacuated, while unfortunately five died," the statement said, adding those injured were taken to nearby hospitals for treatment. Also Read: Rainstorms kill at least 12 in greater Sao Paulo area Meanwhile, the state governor, Mai Mala Buni, in a statement on Tuesday, commiserated with the families of the five people who died from building collapses following a heavy rainstorm in the state capital. Buni directed the emergency agency to ensure treatment of those who sustained various degrees of injuries and to provide the victims with emergency relief materials to cushion their hardships.
‘Hasina: A Daughter’s Tale’- a docudrama - has been screened in the 12th edition of International Zuma Film Festival in Abuja, Nigeria that drew huge viewers. Bangladesh High Commission, Abuja screened the docudrama on May 5 in association with the Nigerian Film Corporation and Federal Capital Territory Administration of Government of Nigeria. The viewers included members of diplomatic corps, renowned film makers, notable film personalities, businessmen, Nigerian dignitaries and students, Bangladeshi community and media, among others. During the opening ceremony, Md. Anisur Rahman, Acting High Commissioner of the Mission welcomed the guests. While highlighting political life of Sheikh Hasina, he mentioned that Bangladesh has achieved tremendous progress in the country under her dynamic leadership. While briefly focusing Bangladesh’s recent socio-economic development, Bidosh Chandra Barman, Counsellor (Political) outlined the existing bilateral relations between Bangladesh and Nigeria. Speaking about cultural relations, he expressed hope that screening the docudrama in Nigeria would open a new vista in the field of people-to-people contact between the two countries. READ: Three-day special screening of ‘Hasina: A Daughter’s Tale’ begins at Amar Ekushey Book Fair 2022 Steve Eboh, Nigerian renowned Film Director and Film Producer mentioned that Bangladesh and Nigeria have been enjoying friendly relations since long ago. He added that screening of ‘Hasina: A Daughter’s Tale’ would elevate the existing relations into a new height. In concluding remarks, Dr. Chidia Maduekwe, CEO/Managing Director of Nigerian Film Corporation and Chairman of the Zuma Film Festival mentioned that both Bangladesh and Nigeria enjoy friendly relations under the aegis of the United Nations and other international organizations, while working together to explore new avenues of cooperation in the field of culture. He also mentioned that leaders of tomorrow can learn from Bangladesh’s current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. He wished the screening of docudrama success. After screening, while interacting with the crew members present, CEO/Managing Director of Nigerian Film Corporation and Chairman of the Zuma Film Festival, renowned Film Director and Film Producer, Actress and film enthusiasts expressed that they enjoyed the docudrama much. Its story telling, sound and music were excellent. The story touched them while saying that ‘Hasina: A Daughter’s Tale’ would remain in their minds. Dr. Chidia Maduekwe, CEO/Managing Director of Nigerian Film Corporation mentioned that the docudrama was heart-touching and revealing. It was a story of struggle, sacrifice and passion for service. He also mentioned that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been continuing his father’s legacy while carrying the same legacy to her grandchildren. Steve Eboh, Nigerian renowned Film Director and Film Producer maintained that the docudrama was a combination of emotion, picture, sound, perfect production and wonderful story. The docudrama captured, projected and produced insight of the soul of Bangladesh, he added. Gloria Opeyagiyemi, Nigerian Actress and Script Writer said that the struggle of Prime Minister is inspiring to her.
At least 100 people may have died in an explosion at an illegal oil refinery in southeast Nigeria, a local oil official said Sunday as the search intensified for bodies at the site and for two people suspected of being involved in the blast. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, in a statement, called the explosion a “catastrophe and a national disaster.” The explosion Friday night at the facility in Ohaji-Egbema local government area in Imo state was triggered by a fire at two fuel storage areas where more than 100 people worked, state officials told The Associated Press. Dozens of workers were caught up in the explosion while many others attempted to escape the blaze by running into wooded areas. Also read:Explosion at illegal oil refinery in Nigeria kills over 50 Those who died in the disaster are estimated to be within “the range of 100,” said Goodluck Opiah, the Imo commissioner for petroleum resources. “A lot of them ran into the bush with the burns and they died there.” Buhari has directed the nation’s security forces “to intensify the clampdown” on such facilities being operated illegally in many parts of southern Nigeria, a spokesperson said in a statement. Although Nigeria is Africa’s largest producer of crude oil, for many years its oil production capacity has been limited by a chronic challenge of oil storage and the operation of illegal refineries. Nigeria lost at least $3 billion worth of crude oil to theft between January 2021 and February 2022, with shady business operators often avoiding regulators by setting up refineries in remote areas such as the one that exploded in Imo, the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) said in March. “There are no arrests yet but the two culprits are on the run with the police now looking for them,” said Declan Emelumba, the Imo State commissioner for information. Officials did not reveal the identities of the suspects. A mass burial is being planned for those killed in the explosion, many of who “were burnt beyond recognition,” said Emelumba. Environmental officials have started to fumigate the area. Such disasters are a regular occurrence in Africa’s most populous country, where poverty and unemployment – at 33% according to the latest government estimates – have forced millions of young people into criminal activities. Also read:Aid group says tribal violence kills 8 in Sudan’s Darfur Operating illegal refineries is not as popular in Imo state as it is in the oil-rich Niger Delta region, where militants have gained notoriety for blowing up oil pipelines and kidnapping workers from petroleum companies. As many as 30 illegal oil refineries were busted in the Niger Delta region in just two weeks, Nigeria’s Defense Department said earlier this month when it announced a task force to curb crude oil theft. In the aftermath of the explosion in Imo state, the Nigerian ministry of petroleum told The AP there is “a renewed action” to tackle illegal activities in the oil sector. The government and the military are stepping up actions “to minimize the criminalities along the oil production lines,” said Horatius Egua, a senior official at the petroleum ministry. But many of the culprits are not deterred including in Imo state, one of the few places producing oil in Nigeria’s southeast. The problem of illegal refineries “has never been this bad” and remains “difficult to end,” said Opiah, the Imo petroleum commissioner. “It is like asking why kidnapping or armed robbery has not stopped,” he said. “Even with this incident, not many people will be deterred. I am sure more illegal refineries will be cropping up in other places.”