Boko Haram Kills More Than 100 People, Threatens More Attacks

A series of attacks by Boko Haram in northern Nigeria hasclaimed the lives of more than 100 people. The sect claimed responsibility for the attacks, which included a suicide bomb blast from a car driven into a court and gun attacks in the town of Damaturu, in Yobe State (pictured). Boko Haram warned that "more attacks are on the way", while a member told the Daily Trust that "we will continue attacking federal government formations until security forces stop their excesses on our members and vulnerable civilians". The US embassy in Abuja issued a warning to foreign nationals claiming it had received intelligence reports of possible attacks on luxury hotels in the national capital, Abuja.

Oil Committee Walk Out After Heated Row

Members of the House of Representatives Joint Committee on Finance, Petroleum Resources and Gas Resources walked out of a hearing into missing oil money after a heated argument. The probe into the non-remittance of N450 billion (about $2.86 billion) into a federal government account by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation was thrown into confusion by the walkout, which came on the final day of proceedings after a statement was taken from the Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, Zainab Ahmed. Ahmed accused the Corporation of lacking transparency in the handling of crude oil sales and unauthorized deductions from government revenues to finance the subsidy of petroleum products. Committee members viewed questions posed to Ahmed by Chairman of the House Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream), Ajibola Muraina, as being in favour of the oil corporation, prompting a row and the walkout. The intervention of the minority leader of the House restored calm, and the Committee was able to resume. Notable absentees included the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, who was scheduled to give evidence.

Obsanjo Slams Arms Imports

Former president Olusegun Obasanjo slammed the N9 billion (about $57 million) the government spends on importing arms and ammunition into Nigeria. Obasanjo, guest of honour at an event at the Nigerian School of Military Engineering in Makurdi, Benue State, said that "if well funded, the National Defence Intelligence Corps could manufacture arms for the country, rather than expenditure on importation". The former president also suggested the military becomes involved in mechanized agriculture in a bid to enhance the country's food security, adding that it had a role to play in power, transportation and ICT.

Government Proposes Toll Gates for Roads

Minister of Works Mike Onolomemen proposed the reintroduction of toll gates on federal highways last week. The minister, who was summoned by the Senate Committee on Works, explained that the reintroduction of toll collections would enhance the maintenance of federal roads. "The future of the road sector cannot be shouldered by the Federal Government alone," he said. "Beyond the reintroduction of tolls, we need a major reform in the sector.'' The chairman of the committee, Senator Ayogu Eze, lamented the state of Nigerian roads and promised wide-ranging measures if efforts were not taken to repair the country's dilapidated road infrastructure.

Nigeria Loses ECOWAS Post

The post of Commissioner for Administration and Finance in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has been ceded to Sierra Leone from Nigeria, sparking complaints from the Chairman of the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties. Former governor of Old Kaduna State and CNPP chair, Alhaji Balaraba Musa, questioned the rationale behind the move and criticized the government, due to the amount that Nigeria contributes to funding ECOWAS. "Between July 2003 and 2009, Nigeria's contribution to ECOWAS amounted to $629,768,000 or N99,467,500,000, whereas Sierra Leone's contribution within the same period was $8,100,789 or N1,279,460,000, going by the present exchange rate," Musa said. Nigeria retains the Political Affairs and Security portfolio as well as the ECOWAS presidency.

Hijacked Oil Tanker Released

An oil tanker hijacked last week by suspected pirates off the coast of Port Harcourt has beenreleased with no crew members injured. The oil tanker "The Halifax" was registered to Greek company Ancora Investment Trust Inc. Pirates operating off the Gulf of Guinea rarely request ransoms – unlike pirates in the Gulf of Aden - due to their main focus being seizing cash and cargo.

This Week: Politics

The need to defend territorial waters is an essential part of national security. In order to protect a country from piracy, terrorism and oil bunkering, the maritime security sector needs not only to be well-funded, but strategically well developed. The recent release of the Greek-registered oil vessel that was hijacked in the restive Niger Delta region further highlights the issue of insecurity on the nation's waterways. That maritime insurance companies attach the same premiums to ships sailing off the coast of Somalia as they do to Nigeria should serve as a national embarrassment. Foreign vessels enter Nigerian waterways unchallenged, pirates parade superior weaponry than the under-funded and under-trained maritime police, and the navy seems incapable of stepping up to the challenge. We must move away from US-led donations of speed and patrol boats towards establishing a coherent maritime security policy in which procurement, refurbishment, training and enhancement of our maritime security force is taken with the utmost seriousness.

Boko Haram has once again attacked Nigeria, this time killing innocent residents in Damaturu, Yobe State. The sheer number of dead and the brazen way in which the attacks were carried out were shown on all major news networks throughout the world. Why does the Nigerian government seem incapable of stopping the sect? Why is it that we never hear of any tangible leads or convictions in cases of terrorism and violence, whether the 2010 independence day bombing , the UN building attacks or any other attacks? Nigeria is capable of taking on and defeating Boko Haram, and while it has always been against foreign assistance and intervention, on this occasion it may be needed. If allowed to grow further, Boko Haram is in danger of threatening the unity between Christians and Muslims in Northern Nigeria.

Writers of the Week:

The sardonically titled "Are Nigeria's leaders Superhuman or Gods" is an article written by Rufus Kayode Oteniya for 234.Next. The witty and unrelentingly critical piece provides a damning verdict on Nigerian politicians, but also engages in the manner citizens allow their political masters to dominate. "They plunder our commonwealth without any restraints; yet, we celebrate them and beg for crumbs of what is ours," writes Kayode Oteniya in one of many such lines.

The run up to the Bayelsa State primary elections have been played out on the front page of all Nigerian media outlets, allowing an insight into the political maneuvering taking place between the contenders who have their eyes fixed on government house. Writing for the Daily Trust, Jibrin Ibrahim provides a good wrap article of all the salient issues while paying particular heed to the importance of the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) and the need to listen to the voice of the electorate.

Website of the Week:

Nigerian Entertainment Today (NET) is a genuine pacesetter. First published in 2009, NET has gone from strength to strength through the use of its dual platforms of internet site and print edition. Priding itself on up-to-date reporting of the Nigerian entertainment industry as well as the global scene, NET and its stable of talented writers is the place to go for all things entertainment.

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