Category Archives: West Africa

Nigeria – fuel shortages hit Lagos and Abuja

Punch

Fuel scarcity hits Lagos, worsens in Abuja, others

print

Fuel scarcity hits Lagos, worsens in Abuja, others

Entrances to many filling stations in Lagos and other parts of the country remained shut to motorists on Sunday following a sharp drop in the supply of petrol to the market.

Findings by The PUNCH revealed that oil marketers were no longer interested in importing the product mainly because of the rising exchange rate of the dollar to the Naira.

The other factors responsible for the marketers’ action are delayed subsidy payments and rising interests on loans from banks.

An official of a major marketing firm, who declined to have his name in print, said, “I am afraid that we cannot continue to import petrol because it costs more now to do so owing to the recent devaluation of the Naira. The rising amount of petrol subsidy arrears payable to us coupled with the high interests on loans   from financial institutions, are still major issues in our hands.”

Another marketer told one of our correspondents that an exchange rate of N226 per dollar was demanded on import duties contrary to the inter-bank exchange rate of N198 posted on the website of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency for the pricing template of PMS approved on February 19, 2015.

The major marketers import close to 60 per cent of petrol consumed in the country while the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation imports the balance.

Our correspondents observed on Sunday that the states hit badly by scarcity of petrol were Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Bayelsa, Ondo, Ekiti, Kaduna, Delta, Plateau, Akwa-Ibom.   Abuja, the nation’s capital, appeared to be the worst hit by the shortage.

The Chairman, Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, Lagos Zone, Alhaji Tokunbo Korodo, said the depots did not have enough products   to serve filling stations   across the country.

“If there were enough to go round, tanker drivers, of course, would move products to the areas of need. Nigerians should not be surprised that this is happening now. It is really unfortunate,” he said.

In Lagos, many filling stations did not sell petrol but those that were open for business had long queues of motorists to contend with.

Although their pump prices remained N87 per litre, black market operators sold 10 litres for N1,200, i.e N120 per litre.

Drivers of commercial buses capitalised on the situation to increase their fares.     For instance, fare for Ojodu-Berger to Magboro, which hitherto was N50, was   N100 on Sunday.

One motorist told one of our correspondents in Lagos that, “If our fuel finishes now, we will go and queue to get another fuel. Now that we have fuel, passengers would have to pay more until the situation improves.

It was a Herculean task   for motorists in   Sango-Ota, Ijebu Ode and Abeokuta in Ogun State to purchase petrol from the stations.

Although most of the stations sold petrol at the regulated price of N87 per litre, the Oando Filling Station in Ijoko, Ota sold it for N100.

A motorist, who bought from the said station demanded for and was issued a receipt which she forwarded to one of our correspondents.

In Ibadan, Oyo State, one of our correspondents had learnt on Friday that the scarcity was due to unsubstantiated information that petrol price would go down to N65 per litre.

A   manager at one of the   stations in the Mokola area of the city, said   the rumour seemed to be gaining ground and that the marketers were   studying the situation.

He said, “No businessman wants to run at a loss. The product we have now was purchased at the old price. We have not added any price to the stipulated N87 per litre of petrol but the queue is long because many people are not sure of the availability of the product in a few day’s time or why some fuel stations are not selling.

“Those who are not selling must have exhausted their product and are unwilling to buy more at the old price because of the fear that the rumour of a new price of N65 per litre could be true. If we buy today at the current price and government slashes price tomorrow, who pays for the deficit?”

The situation was the same   in Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State on Sunday as many filling stations rationed the product.

A station along Adebayo Road which on Saturday sold the product for only two hours in the evening and did not on Sunday.

Motorists and commercial transport operators   went to the hinterland where petrol sold at a higher price but readily available. The price ranged between N100 and N105 per litre.

The shortage which was noticeable in   Warri, Sapele, Ughelli and other parts of Delta State thinned out on Sunday.

But the pump price of the product remained high in Asaba as motorists   paid between N95 and N100 per litre.

The attendants said the directive to sell at prices higher than   N87   was given by their bosses, who they said claimed to have bought the product at a higher price .

The scarcity in Ondo State which began on Thursday worsened on Sunday.   Petrol also sold   for between N95 and N110 per litre in filling stations that were operational.

Checks by our correspondent in the state showed that most of the stations were still locked .

The Chairman, Independent Marketers Branch, Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, Ore, Mr. Olakunle Ajulo, attributed the scarcity to the failure of government to pay subsidy claims.

He expressed hope that the matter would soon be resolved as stakeholders were already tackling the issue.

Ajulo blamed the shortage in Ondo and Ekiti states on the fact that the Ore Depot was not functioning.

There was also   scarcity in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State. Apart from a few filling stations and the NNPC mega filling stations, others did not sell the product.

Some motorists   spoken to said it was only the NNPC mega stations that sold petrol   for N87.

A motorist, who gave his name simply as Femi, said he bought a litre for   N90.

The product also sold for between   N110 and N120 per litre in Jos,   Bukuru and its environs in Plateau State.

An attendant at one of the stations, who identified herself as Yeni, said, “We have product, but the manager asked us to lock up the station.”

Many filling stations in Uyo, Akwa Ibom on Sunday were selling petrol at N110 per litre as against N140 to N150 per litre which was prevalent price for a litre of fuel last week.

Motorists and commuters in Kaduna State continued to groan in pain in the wake of fuel scarcity that hit the metropolis and its environs since Friday.

The   Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division of the NNPC, Ohi Alegbe, told our correspondent on the telephone that the Federal Government had injected fresh 680 million litres of petrol to boost the product supply base.

He said the effect of the injection which was done at   the weekend would be felt from Monday(today).

He advised Nigerians to desist from panic buying of petrol because there was no need for such.

Meanwhile, the   Presidential Campaign of the All Progressives Congress has said that the return of queues at filling stations is a confirmation that the policies of the Goodluck Jonathan administration are founded on deceit and insincerity.

According to the APC campaign, it is now evident that the recent reduction in cost of petrol   was borne out of political expediency, rather than compassion.

It also condemned the poor electricity supply across the country by power firms, describing it as a sad reminder of the failure of the PDP-led Federal Government.

The group, in a statement by its Director of Media and Publicity,   Mallam Garba Shehu,   wondered how a political party which has been in power for 16 years, could still feel confident to seek another term in office.

The statement partly read,“The issue is that being unable to set up even one new refinery in the past five years and unable to get existing refineries to function up to 50 per cent capacity, the people of Nigeria surely need another set of people to be in charge of affairs.

Copyright PUNCH.

Cameroon – thousands march to support government over Nigeria’s Boko Haram

Reuters

Reuters) – Thousands of people marched in Cameroon’s capital on Saturday to protest against Nigeria’s Boko Haram insurgency and support the Central African nation’s army, which is fighting alongside regional neighbours to defeat the Islamist group.

The march in Yaounde was aimed at informing the public, especially in the southern regions, about the threat posed by Boko Haram, which has carried out regular cross-border raids in the far north, one of the organisers said.

Yaounde is located in the central region of the country.

“It was important to tell Cameroonians that we are at war and a part of the country is suffering,” said Gubai Gatama, a newspaper editor who was among the march’s organisers. “About 150,000 people have been displaced by the conflict.”

In addition to its own citizens forced to flee the violence, thousands of refugees have poured into Cameroon from northeastern Nigeria, where Boko Haram is seeking to carve out an Islamist emirate.

“Some 170 schools in Cameroon’s northern region have been closed,” Gatama said.

Boko Haram’s six-year insurgency in Nigeria has spread to neighbouring countries, where the group has launched attacks over the past year, burning villages and kidnapping residents.

The Lake Chad region nations threatened by Boko Haram, Nigeria along with Cameroon, Niger and Chad, have launched a joint offensive to quell the rebellion and claim to have retaken territory from group in recent weeks.

Muhamadou Labara Awal, 27, was among the 5,000 people who organisers estimated marched on the May. 20 boulevard in Yaounde, chanting and waving the flags of the regional coalition.

“It was important for me to be here because I’m not a soldier to be deployed to Fotokol. The only way I could pay homage to our troops was to be here,” Awal said, referring to a northern town regularly targeted by Boko Haram.

Ebola – Sierra Leone Vice-President quarantined after bodyguard dies

BBC

Ebola outbreak: Sierra Leone vice-president quarantined

Volunteers bury an Ebola victim in Waterloo, southeast of Freetown - 7 October 2014Cases of Ebola had been on the decline in Sierra Leone, but they have risen again in recent weeks

The vice-president of Sierra Leone has put himself into quarantine after one of his bodyguards died from Ebola.

Samuel Sam-Sumana said he would stay out of contact with others for 21 days as a precaution.

There was optimism the virus was on the decline in Sierra Leone at the end of last year but there has been a recent increase in confirmed cases.

Nearly 10,000 people have died in the outbreak, the vast majority in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

‘Taking no chances’

Mr Sam-Sumana said on Saturday that he had chosen to be quarantined to “lead by example” after the death of his bodyguard, John Koroma, last week.

He told Reuters news agency that he was “very well” and showing no signs of the illness, but said he did not want to “take chances”.

His staff have also been placed under observation.

He is the country’s first senior government figure to subject himself to a voluntary quarantine.

Ebola deaths

Figures up to 25 February 2015

9,675

Deaths – probable, confirmed and suspected

(Includes one in the US and six in Mali)

  • 4,057 Liberia
  • 3,490 Sierra Leone
  • 2,113 Guinea
  • 8 Nigeria
Getty

Officials in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia have pledged to achieve zero Ebola infections within the next two months.

But authorities in Sierra Leone have reinstated some restrictions in the country after a recent spate of news cases.

Of 99 cases recorded in the region in the week beginning 16 February, 63 were in Sierra Leone, according to the World Health Organization.

The government in the capital, Freetown, said it was gravely concerned about the new cases.

It said many of them had been connected with maritime activities and checks on ferries and other vessels had been increased in response.

President Ernest Bai Koroma has also ordered public transport operators to reduce capacity by 25% to limit physical contact between passengers.

In all, more than 23,500 cases have been reported in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea since the world’s worst outbreak began in December 2013.

line

Ebola virus disease (EVD)

A health worker attends to a patient at the maternity ward in the government hospital in Koidu, Kono district in eastern Sierra Leone, December 20, 2014
  • Symptoms include high fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage
  • Spread by body fluids, such as blood and saliva
  • Fatality rate can reach 90% – but current outbreak has mortality rate of between 54% and 62%
  • Incubation period is two to 21 days
  • No proven vaccine or cure
  • Supportive care such as rehydrating patients who have diarrhoea and vomiting can help recovery
  • Fruit bats, a delicacy for some West Africans, are considered to be virus’s natural host

Nigeria – army raids Boko bases in Yobe and Adamawa

Punch

Troops raid Boko Haram hideouts in Yobe, Adamawa

 

Nigerian Army

The Director of Defence Information, Maj. Gen. Chris Olukolade, has said some Boko Haram insurgents were killed by troops during a cordon and search operation along Djimillo-Damaturu, Yobe State on Friday.

Olukolade said the troops had a fierce encounter with the terrorists when their hideout was discovered by soldiers near a market.

According to him the soldiers killed an unspecified number of the insurgents and recovered some machine guns and rifles from them.

He added that some of the terrorists were believed to have been killed in a fire that gutted the house which they used as their base.

Olukolade said a soldier was killed in the fight with the terrorists while another who had gunshot wounds was undergoing treatment

The Defence spokesman also said the troops had an encounter with some terrorists who were in the process of blowing up a bridge to halt the military operation in Gulak, the headquarters of the Madagali Local Government Area of Adamawa State.

The troops, he said, also recovered some arms and ammunition from them, adding that flags hoisted by the terrorists were being dismantled by the troops in the operational area.

Meanwhile, an intelligence source said on Saturday that military operations were going on in various communities in the three states under emergency rule.

The source stated that the military had recovered over 30 communities in 12 local government areas in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states.

Olukolade had said in a statement on Friday that troops liberated Bara, the headquarters of Gulani Local Government area of Yobe and Gulak, the headquarters of the Madagali.

He stated also that the troops also recaptured other towns such as Shikah, Fikayel, Tetebah, Buza, Kamla and Bumsa, during the two-day operation.

In a related development, a former United States ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. John Campbell, has said Boko Haram’s loss of some of its captured territories to the Nigerian troops will not prevent it from carrying out violent attacks against government facilities and innocent people.

Though the Islamist insurgents still have swaths of lands in the North-East under their control, the Nigerian military has been able to drive out the terrorists from more than 10 communities including Mubi, Gamboru-Ngala, Hong, Monguno, Baga and Gombi.

Campbell made this known in an article he wrote for the US-based Council on Foreign Relations.

Addressing a news conference in Abuja on Thursday, the Director General of the National Information Centre, Mr. Mike Omeri, had said the army was in full control of the recovered territories in Borno and Adamawa states.

But according to Campbell, beyond the recovered territories, “there appears to have been little change in the areas where Boko Haram operates.

“What is the significance of the Nigerian military’s reoccupation of the three towns? Towns in North-East Nigeria appear to change hands frequently. Unlike ISIS in Syria and Iraq, where a major goal is the permanent occupation and governance of territory, Boko Haram appears to be highly fluid. Hence, Boko Haram does not need to hold territory to be effective. Boko Haram is also adept at melting back into the countryside when confronted by superior forces.”

In a related development, the US Senate voted unanimously to condemn the vicious attacks perpetrated by Boko Haram against innocent civilians, especially women and children, and called on President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration to ensure that Nigeria’s upcoming general elections on March 28 and April 11 are safe, credible, and transparent.

The resolution was introduced by Senator Robert Menendez.

The US Senate stated its support to bring an end to violence perpetrated by the Islamist insurgents, urging the Nigerian government to conduct transparent, peaceful, and credible elections.

Copyright PUNCH.

Nigeria – 13 dead in Jos bomb blast

Premium Times

Police confirm 13 dead, 14 injured in Jos explosion

bomb-blast

PREMIUM TIMES counted nine corpses being deposited at the Plateau State Specialist Hospital mortuary with 11 injured people hospitalized at the intensive care unit of the hospital.

Among the nine corpses placed on the mortuary floor was the body police traffic officer.

Most of the corpses had injuries to the head; one was completely mutilated.

The management of the hospital declined comments. However, a senior nurse, who pleaded anonymity as she was not authorised to speak, said most of the injured victims were in stable condition Friday morning. She called for blood donations.

Four injured victims were hospitalised at the Bingham University Teaching Hospital. One of them died during treatment early hours of Friday.

Meanwhile, the University of Jos spokesperson, Abdullahi Abdullahi, has debunked reports that 12 students died in the explosions on Thursday evening.

Mr. Abdullahi in a telephone interview on Friday said, “The report in some national dailies that the University of Jos lost 12 of it students to the blast was false. No student or any member of the university community was affected by the explosions. As I speak with you the second semester examinations are ongoing. We have intensified security of lives and property in all our campuses.”

At the scene of the blast, it was gathered from witnesses that four commercial drivers were killed in the explosion.

A witness, Sarki Adams, told PREMIUM TIMES that other bodies were evacuated for burial Thursday by relations according to Muslim rites. He said five cars were also affected and several other structures were torched.

According to another witness at the scene on Friday, Mustapha Kawu, who owns a shop at the park, a man and a woman suspected to be among the suicide bombers, were lynched by angry youth.

Mr. Mustapha said the suspected bombers drove in a saloon car, while another suicide bomber, a woman, allegedly alighted from a Jeep.

Speaking to PREMIUM TIMES, Ali, a relation to one of the survivors, said his brother Umaru, who is a butcher at the motor park, was injured in the explosion but was being treated at the Plateau Specialist Hospital Jos.

Ali said the 42 year old butcher was about closing for the day when the explosions occurred.

The Thursday Bauchi Road Motor Park twin bomb explosion was the fourth since Christmas Eve, 2010 when a blast rocked Gadabiu area, Jos north.

As a result of the recent incident, there has been an intense stop and search of motorists by security agents within the state capital Jos.

Attempt by the Plateau state Government to relocate the park two years ago was met by stiff resistance, as management of the motor park approach a court of law for redress. The park remained in use.

Nigeria – Buhari says no amnesty orvtalks with Boko Haram if he is elected

Nation online

 No amnesty for Boko Haram if elected President – Buhari



Says, I’m fit, ready for March poll

The presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, on Thursday said he would not grant amnesty to Boko Haram insurgents if elected President next month.

He also said he is fit and ready for the poll.

The former head of state assured the audience that Nigeria will not break.

Buhari, who made the submissions during a question and answer session at Chatham House in London, said he would also personally lead the battle against Boko Haram.

He said: “I think I will not go to that office with that promise. I have said in my address how, at least 13,000 Nigerians have been killed by Boko Haram, how millions of them have been displaced and are now kept in different camps called Internally Displaced Persons camps.

“Schools have been burnt, there is so much disruption to normal life, people could not farm and where they are able to farm, they cannot harvest. So, granting amnesty to Boko Haram will be unfair to the system.

“We will secure Nigeria. We must have the time to collect enough intelligence to make sure that those that we got are given the chance in civil courts to be properly prosecuted.”

On his alleged health challenge, Buhari said he is fit as fiddle and battle ready for the March poll.

He added: “I am very happy that I have been able to visit 35 states out of the 36. I haven’t broken down even though somebody announced my death yesterday (Wednesday).

“I had a call from Maiduguri that somebody rushed into a friend’s house crying and said they have just announced that Buhari has died in hospital in London and so, he called me and I laughed my head off.

“Certainly, I will be expecting too much if I don’t expect people to wish me dead. But I am very pleased that I am fit, the doctors have declared me fit and I am going back for the final onslaught.”

Responding to a question, Buhari said Nigeria cannot afford to break up again as a nation because its nationalities have bonded.

He said: “I appreciate the full import of this question. We have a problem as a people and if you are following my statements, I warned about six months ago that we have to be careful of Somalialization of Nigeria.

“We are a group of nationalities like some people wants to call it. We are very different people, religiously, culturally and from different background and we happen to have come together after the amalgamation by the British in 1914.

“We find it difficult to separate now because there have been so many inter-marriages and some, we have become interdependent. Our constitution has been very deliberate in respecting our sensitivities and the freedom given in that constitution is a guarantee that we will certainly manage our differences.

“We are making a lot of efforts to make sure that we continue to understand ourselves and accommodate ourselves in spite of whatever impression is created among ourselves especially when people are talking so much about religion.”

The APC presidential candidate also spoke on his top three priorities to attract foreign investment.

Buhari said: “Nobody will take his investment to an environment that is insecure. That is why security is going to be one of our major priorities. We will secure the country and efficiently manage it. That efficient management is stopping corruption and getting jobs among others.

“The way of attracting investors is to persuade investors the world over that Nigeria is poised to cooperate with them by securing the country and helping them recoup their investment. It is not a question of having a free ride. They don’t invest for humanitarian reasons, but so that they can recover their capital and make some profit because that is what sustains them.

“So, we have to think very quickly and put in place assurances and improve the system so that the environment can be suitable for investment.”

BBC

Nigeria – more bus station bombings; Biu hit

BBC

Bomb attacks have killed at least 32 people in northern Nigeria, amid a wave of violence from Boko Haram militants.

A suicide bomber killed at least 17 people at a bus station in Biu, witnesses say, while a second bomber was caught by a crowd and reportedly beaten to death.

In Jos, three bombs thrown from a car killed 15 people at a bus station and the university.

February’s presidential election has been postponed because of the unrest.

The vote is now expected to take place on 28 March.

President Goodluck Jonathan, who was visiting the north-eastern garrison town of Baga, insisted that the army was winning the war against Boko Haram.

The army recaptured Baga from Boko Haram last week. The group still controls much of the north-eastern state of Borno and more than three million people have fled their homes.

Attacks in Kano and Potiskum on Tuesday claimed more than 50 lives. No group has said it carried them out.

Map of Nigeria

More on This Story