18 December 2017 – At least four civilians are reported to have been killed when an aid convoy transporting food supplies was ambushed by armed individuals in Nigeria’s strife-torn north-east region, the top United Nations humanitarian official in the country said.
The UN News Center says the attack took place along the Dikwa-Gamboru road in Borno state, and also resulted in the destruction of basic aid items initially destined to alleviate the suffering of thousands of conflict-affected women, children and men.
“Violence against convoys carrying humanitarian aid is unacceptable and can result in concerning limitations in our ability to provide life-saving relief to those who need it the most,” said Edward Kallon, the Humanitarian Coordination in Nigeria, in a news release issued Monday.
“We must ensure the safety of aid workers and aid convoys across the north-east of Nigeria, so people in need of assistance can access it in a timely manner and in sufficient quantity. Many lives are at risk,” he underscored.
The conflict in Nigeria’s north-east provoked by the Boko Haram terrorist group has triggered a deep humanitarian crisis. Since the start of the conflict in 2009, more than 20,000 people have been killed and thousands of women and girls abducted.
Borno along with Adamawa and Yobe are the worst affected with nearly seven million people in need of humanitarian assistance, more than 50 per cent of whom are children.
Since January 2017, despite major challenges, relief efforts by the UN as well as partners have managed to assist over five million conflict-affected people, reaching about five million with health care assistance, three million with food security interventions, 936,000 with nutritional support, and over 1.3 million with safe drinking water.
Owing to such humanitarian efforts, for the first time since the onset of the crisis, hunger has considerably declined in the region.
According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the number of people facing acute hunger has halved since June-August – from 5.2 million to 2.6 million people.
However, there are fears that without sustained and timely assistance, the good work could quickly be undone, leaving more than 3.5 million people with acute hunger, as well as at the risk of famine, by August 2018, warned the UN food security agency.
With just under 4 months before the holding of General and Presidential Elections, President Ernest Bai Koroma in Sierra Leone has effected some administrative changes at the National Army and Police and Diplomatic Missions in Liberia, Gambia and Nigeria.
In a rather surprising move, the head of the country’s Army, Lieutenant General John Milton was replaced and appointed instead as the new Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria.
He is being replaced by Major General Brima Sesay who was promoted last March to the rank of Major General by President Koroma.
A press statement from the Sierra Leone Presidency issued in Freetown on Wednesday also announced the replacement of the Police Inspector Francis Munu by his Deputy Richard Moigbe.
Mr. Munu now goes to neighboring Liberia as his country’s Ambassador.
All of the new Presidential appointees will have to obtain Parliamentary approval.
Oil giant Shell has a case to answer for its role in human rights violations including murder, rape and torture committed by the Nigerian military government in the 1990s.
The victims were the Ogoni people, whose land has been devastated by pollution from Shell’s operations. When the Ogonis organized in peaceful protest, the Nigerian government unleashed a campaign of appalling violence against them.
Despite a raft of evidence linking Shell with the government’s actions, no company executive has ever been made to answer for its involvement.
The fact that Shell has never been held to account for this is an outrage, and one that sends a terrible message: if companies are rich and powerful enough, they can get away with anything.
So, for the first time, Amnesty International has brought together the available evidence to paint a damning picture of Shell’s role.
From 1990 onwards, Shell knew that its requests for the security forces to intervene in the Niger Delta were likely to result in human rights violations.
In 1990, Shell requested the assistance of a paramilitary police unit to deal with peaceful protesters at one of its facilities in Umuechem. The police attacked the village with guns and grenades, killing 80 people and torching 595 houses.
Despite this atrocity, Shell went back to the Nigerian government for help in dealing with community protests. A clear pattern began to emerge: over and over again, Shell asked the government to intervene, and these requests were soon followed by violence and death. For example:
A Shell memo shows that on 18 March 1993, Shell staff “pleaded” with the governor of Rivers State for a military guard while its contractors laid a pipeline.
On 30 April, the army responded to community protests against the new pipeline by shooting and wounding 11 villagers at Biara village.
Days later, on 4 May, Shell again asked the governor for “assistance”. That same day, troops opened fire on community protests at Nonwa village, killing one man. Once again, a direct request from Shell led to human rights violations.
Then, a memo from 11 May 1993 shows that Shell managers met senior government and security officials in Abuja “to mobilise support at top government levels”. The head of the security service assured Shell that the Ogoni situation “would be over soon”.
Two months later, the military incited and participated in a new wave of armed attacks on Ogonis.
Despite these violations, it was Shell’s policy to provide security forces with logistical support.
A 1995 statement from Shell Nigeria’s then-chair Brian Anderson explained that it was company policy at the time to provide the Nigerian government with logistical support – including the use of its boats, buses and helicopters.
Sometimes Shell’s assistance directly facilitated human rights violations. For example, in October 1993 the company provided the army’s transport to Korokoro village, when troops opened fire on protesters.
Shell had no qualms about repeatedly offering logistical support to security forces it knew were committing human rights violations.
Shell even paid money to a military unit responsible for violence.
In December 1993, shortly after a military coup, Shell wrote to the new military administrator of Rivers State, highlighting the economic consequences of protests and naming communities, including in Ogoniland, where protests had occurred.
One month later, the military administrator created the new Internal Security Task Force (ISTF), under the command of Major Paul Okuntimo.
The ISTF began carrying out human rights violations almost immediately. On 21 February 1994, soldiers under Major Okuntimo’s command shot at thousands of people who were peacefully demonstrating outside Shell’s main compound.
Then, on 3 March 1994, Shell paid Major Okuntimo and 25 of his men an “honorarium”. An internal Shell memo explained that the payment was a “show of gratitude and motivation for a sustained favourable disposition towards [Shell] in future assignments”.
Shortly afterwards, the ISTF began a campaign of brutal raids in Ogoniland – killing, raping and torturing villagers.
Shell knew all about these human rights violations.
Major Okuntimo boasted of these raids on television, and they were widely reported. In July that year, the Dutch ambassador told Shell that the army had killed some 800 Ogonis.
Shell also had insider knowledge. Company executives met regularly with top government officials, and discussed the government strategy for dealing with the Ogoni protests.
Shell raised the Ogoni and Ken Saro-Wiwa as a “problem”.
The Ogoni crisis culminated in the executions of the “Ogoni Nine” by the Nigerian state. Among them was Ken Saro-Wiwa, a famous writer and leader of protests by the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP).
Evidence shows that, at the peak of the crackdown in Ogoniland, Shell provided encouragement and motivation to the military authorities to stop the MOSOP protests, and specifically named Ken Saro-Wiwa.
A memo describes how, at a meeting with President Sani Abacha on 30 April 1994, Brian Anderson raised “the problem of the Ogonis and Ken Saro-Wiwa”.
Anderson reported that he came away from the meeting with the sense that Abacha “will intervene with either the military or the police.”
Indeed, within a month Ken Saro-Wiwa and other MOSOP leaders had been arrested, unfairly accused of involvement in murder, and held without charge.
The men were tortured and ill-treated in detention, before being found guilty in a sham trial and executed on 10 November 1995. The detailed records show that Shell knew the trial would be unfair and Ken Saro-Wiwa found guilty; but there is no indication in the available evidence of Shell trying to persuade the Nigerian military government to follow a less violent path in Ogoniland.
Shell’s conduct amounts to encouraging, and, at times, facilitating the horrific crimes and abuses committed by the Nigerian security forces in Ogoniland in the mid-1990s. The company, knowing that violence against local communities was almost certain to occur, asked for the security forces to deal with community protests. Shell provided logistical support to the army and police, repeatedly underlined to the Nigerian government how the country was financially dependent on oil, and even paid money to the security forces.
Shell has always strongly denied these allegations. But the evidence paints a shocking picture of a corporation putting its interests above all else. The key question is: if Shell had not acted as it did, and had not pushed the Nigerian military and government, would so many people have been beaten, tortured, raped and killed?
Amnesty International is calling on the authorities in Nigeria, and Shell’s home states, the Netherlands and the UK, to launch a criminal investigation into the company’s role in the human rights violations committed by the Nigerian security forces.
LAGOS, Nigeria, November 23, 2017 — Facebook has announced a new nationwide initiative in Nigeria to further cement its commitment and investment in the country, and across the continent.
Incorporating a series of high profile partnerships,a press statement issued by the web conglomerate and copied to West African Journal says, training programs and a physical space will serve as a center for learning and skills development
This set of initiatives is aimed at helping to develop and nurture communities, including small businesses, the tech and start-up ecosystem, youths and creatives., the release said.
“In Nigeria, more than 22 million people use Facebook every month and 87% of SMEs say that when they hire, digital skills are more important than where an applicant went to school. This demonstrates that the power of digital skills to aid economic growth and development has never been more important”, commented Ebele Okobi, Facebook Public Policy Director, Africa.
“At Facebook, our mission is clear: To give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together. Our investments and commitments announced in Lagos today further reflect our intent to partner with Nigeria’s policy makers and its vibrant tech and entrepreneurial eco-system to create economic opportunity and independence in Nigeria and across Africa.’’
NG_HUB from Facebook
In partnership with CC Hub, Facebook will be opening the doors to its first community Hub space in the heart of Lagos, scheduled to open early next year. ‘NG_HUB from Facebook’ will be a multi-faceted creative space, which will connect and bring together developers, start-ups and the wider community to collaborate, learn and exchange ideas. The NG_HUB will also host a start-up incubator programme, as well as bespoke trainings, guest speakers and a dedicated event space, all aimed at attracting the best talent and driving innovation in Nigeria’s tech ecosystem.
Additionally, across Nigeria, Facebook will be supporting a number of existing tech Hubs to serve the communities outside Lagos. The hubs will function as learning centres for local communities, providing multiple opportunities for training and access.
Commenting on the announcement of NG_HUB in partnership with CC Hub, and Facebook’s further support of local hubs across Nigeria, Emeka Afigbo, Head of Platform Partnerships, Middle East & Africa said “Nigeria is producing a new generation of exciting start-ups that have incredible potential. We understand the important role Facebook plays here in Nigeria with developers and start-ups and are invested in helping these communities build for the next billion. One of our key passions at Facebook is nurturing and helping to develop the tech and start-up community, and I’m excited to announce our partnership with the Nigerian tech hub ecosystem especially the NG_HUB space, here in Lagos.”
Facebook Nigeria Skills Programmes
Facebook is committed to working with Nigerian small businesses, tech entrepreneurs and the next generation of leaders to better understand and utilise the power of digital tools for economic growth. Launching a series of learning-based programmes facilitated by local training partners, these have been designed to provide skills that lead to employment and to support the growth of small businesses. The goal is to train and support over 50,000 students, small businesses and creative entrepreneurs across the country through a series of scaled digital skills trainings, as well as long-term impact programmes. The training programmes will include:
Aspiring Entrepreneurs: Digital (in partnership with the Fate Foundation) – a four-week intensive programme for entrepreneurs across Nigeria. This will be offered throughout the year in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Calabar, Ibadan, Kaduna and Enugu
Jobs for Youth: Coding for Employment – a training programme to develop Nigeria’s next generation of coders – designed to upskill developers and prepare them for employment
Boost your Business – designed for small, medium sized businesses owners, teaching the fundamentals of digital marketing for business growth, with the goal to help business owners better understand their brand, audience and how to best reach and service them online
Creative Entrepreneurship Training – specialised training designed specifically for creatives, including photographers, filmmakers, musicians, artists, bloggers and other creative content creators
Online Safety + Digital Literacy Training in Schools and Universities – featuring a series of online safety and digital literacy courses for secondary school and university students
Ahead of the programme launch, Facebook undertook a detailed ‘Economic Impact Study’ to further understand how communities like small businesses and consumers in Nigeria use the platform, and the effectiveness of social media as a growth tool. Nearly 1 in 2 small businesses on Facebook say they built their business on the platform, and 62% stated they have been able to use Facebook to help find employees for their business, whilst over half (58%) of small businesses on the platform say they have been able to hire more employees’ due to growth since joining Facebook.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari says the current political challenges in Liberia will be resolved through constitutional means.
President Buhari Meets Ecowas Chair President Gnassingbe in Abuja
The Nation newspaper reports that President Buhari gave the assurance on Tuesday when he received President Faure Gnassingbe of Togo, who is the current Chairman of ECOWAS, at the State House, Abuja on Tuesday.
The Nigerian Chief Executive expressed hope that the outcome of the Li eria’s Supreme Court verdict would be acceptable to all in order to ensure a peaceful transfer of power.
President Buhari, the paper said. also urged all parties in the crisis to exercise patience while waiting for the verdict of the Supreme Court.
Country Map of ECOWAS
Turning to the political situation in Guinea Bissau, President Buhari told the ECOWAS Chairman that the leading political actors in the country should agree to a resolution and a transition that would pave way for elections in the country in 2018.
The ECOWAS Chairman President Gnassingbe said he had met with Buhari on a number of challenges facing the West African region and seek his counsel on the best way to resolve the issues.
Gnassingbe said they reviewed the political situations in Liberia, Guinea Bissau and Togo, and also talked about the ongoing reform in ECOWAS.
Both African leaders expressed satisfaction at the efforts.
News reports from Abuja Nigeria say the Federal High Court in the city has adjourned the trial of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the banned Indigenous People of Biafra movement.
Kanu’s case was adjourned due to the absence of the trial judge. Justice Binta Nyako is away attending the ‘All Judges’ Conference in Abuja.
This is the second time that The Indigenious People of Biafra leader Kanu was absent from court. On September 14, there was an alleged home invasion by men dressed in military uniform. Family members say Kanu has gone missing since.
Kanu and his co defendants are facing felony treasonable charges.
The Nigerian military says it has no idea where he is and has denied any involvement in his home invasion.
Last week, President Muhammadu Buhari visited the Southeastern region where Biafra is situated.
Support for the creation of a “Biafran nation” is gaining popularity again after fifty years when conflict ensued over the secessionist attempt.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari who is visiting the pro-Biafran region in the southeast of the country on Tuesday thanked citizens of the southeast for the “enthusiastic” welcome they accorded him since his arrival.
In a Twitter post, the Nigeria leader said “from Enugu to Abakaliki, I have enjoyed a profuse display of warmth from everyone; political leaders, traditional leaders, citizens. I thank you all.”
While vising Igboland on Monday, Southeast Traditional leaders and Ebonyi State Traditional Council conferred the Chieftaincy title of Ochi Oha Ndigbo (leader of all) of Igboland on President Buhari.
Buhari’s trip to the southeast is his first since ascending to the Presidency and comes on the heels of the acceleration of tension in the region which is home to Biafran secessionists.
The movement has been designated as a terrorist group by the Federal government. The leader of the Biafran separatist group Nnamdi Kanu is facing charges and was recently granted bail.