A former Chief of Army Staff, General Abdurrahman Dambazau (retd.), says insurgency has gone beyond being a threat to Nigeria as it now affects about 15 countries in West Africa including Benin Republic.
“This (insecurity) has become a regional issue because it is an issue that has engulfed the whole of the Lake Chad Basin region and it is an issue that also has connection with the Sahel region as a whole.
“It is a regional issue and even Benin (Republic), our neighbour is getting a touch of it,” Dambazau said on Channels Television’s current affairs programme, NewsNight.
Dambazau, who was COAS from August 2008 to September 2010 and Nigeria’s Minister of Interior between November 2015 and May 2019, said at first, the countries in the Lake Chad Basin such as Chad and Niger Republic thought terrorism was Nigeria’s challenge until recently.
“Initially, some of those countries in the Lake Chad Basin did not show much concern about it, that it was Nigeria’s problem until it became very much a reality that it was a regional problem.”
He, however, said the countries have now joined the fight against terrorism through the Multinational Joint Task Force established by the Nigerian Government to checkmate trans-border security challenges.
“Even Benin Republic which is not a member of the Lake Chad Basin Commission is contributing towards that because it is also a threat to it. It is a threat to the whole of West Africa,” the ex-Army chief said.
Nigerian rice farmer Adamu Garba squelched barefoot through his paddy fields, surveying damage from devastating floods that have destroyed farmland across the north of the country.
Parts of West and central Africa have been battered by floods ravaging farms like Garba’s rice plots, wiping out crops and risking worsening food insecurity in a region already struggling with economic fallout from the Ukraine war.
Just in Nigeria, constant heavy rains caused the worst flooding in a decade, killing more than 300 people since the start of the rainy season and displacing at least 100,000, according to emergency officials.
“It is devastating but there is nothing we can do, we just have to be strong,” Garba told AFP at his farm near the city of Kano, where he normally harvests 200 bags of rice.
“Now in the condition we find ourselves we are not sure we will harvest half a bag here.”
Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) spokesman Manzo Ezekiel said flooding has been unprecedented due to continuous rainfall with 29 of the country’s 36 states affected.
“Thousands of farmlands have also been destroyed. The figures will rise further because we are still experiencing torrential rains and flooding,” he said.
Flood waters were made worse partly by neighbouring Cameroon’s release of excess waters from a dam and by Nigeria releasing waters to ease pressure on its Kainji and Jebba dams, Ezekiel said.
However, an official with Eneo, operator of Cameroon’s Lagdo hydro-electricity plant, said excess waters released from the dam contributed only a small amount to flooding.
Parts of Nigeria, from northern farmlands to the coastal economic capital Lagos, are prone to flooding in the rainy season, though NEMA says this year is the worst since 2012, when 363 people died and more than 2.1 million were displaced.
– Climate change – The Niger river — West Africa’s main river — flows through northern Niger past Benin’s northern border into Nigeria before reaching in the Gulf of Guinea on the Atlantic through southern Nigeria’s Niger Delta.
Heavy rains falling in Niger since June and the severe floods have claimed 159 lives and affected more than 225,000 people, making this rainy season one of the deadliest in history, emergency officials said earlier this month.
“According to our studies, we can link these rains to climate change in general,” said Katiellou Gaptia Lawan, Director General of National Meteorology of Niger.
“The rains are becoming more and more intense and the extreme precipitation is increasing.”
Rains in Niger this year have also totally destroyed or damaged more than 25,900 homes, and impacted farmland and cattle, authorities said.
The June to September rainy season regularly kills people in Niger, including in the northern desert areas, but the toll is particularly heavy this year.
In 2021, 70 people died and 200,000 were affected.
In Chad, the UN said more than 622,500 people had been affected “at different levels” by flooding in more than half of the country, including the capital N’Djamena, with most impacted areas bordering the north of Cameroon.
According to the United Nations, in 2021, 5.5 million Chadians, more than a third of the population of the landlocked country were already in need of emergency humanitarian aid, even before the floods.
In northern Nigeria, Kabiru Alassan, a 19-year old farmer, said flood waters washed sand from the roads and covered his rice fields. But he was trying to salvage what he could.
“This is the little we have left by Allah’s grace which we are going to harvest,” he said.
“The rains have never been this destructive. We pray never to experience such a nightmare.”
Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, on Sunday met with Yoruba Nation campaigner, Sunday Adeyemo, also known as Sunday Ighoho.
A statement issued by Soyinka’s media office in Abuja confirmed the visit, with a picture showing Igboho with the Nobel laureate and leader of Yoruba self-determination group, Ilana Omo Oodua Worldwide, Banji Akintoye.
It could however not be ascertained what transpired at the meeting.
This is coming about five weeks after Akintoye announced the release of Ighoho in the Benin Republic.
After being declared wanted by the Department of State Services (DSS), he was accused of stockpiling arms to destabilise Nigeria. But the separatist leader strongly denied the allegation. In July 2021, Igboho fled his Ibadan residence and escaped to the neighbouring Francophone country.
He was arrested by the Interpol at a Benin airport on July 19, 2021, while boarding a flight to Germany.
After spending about nine months in a detention facility in the Benin Republic, Igboho was released on health grounds. But his lead counsel, Yomi Aliyyu, ruled out the possibility of his client’s return to Nigeria anytime soon.
The embattled Yoruba Nation activist, Mr Sunday Adeyemo, has been released by the Benin Republic Government.
The activist, who is fondly called Sunday Ighoho, was released on Monday to the leader of the umbrella body of Yoruba Self-determination Groups, Ilana Omo Oodua Worldwide, Professor Banji Akintoye, and his deputy, a French Language Expert and Chieftain of Ilana Omo Oodua Worldwide, Professor Wale Adeniran.
In a statement issued by the Communications Secretary to Ilana Omo Oodua Worldwide, Mr. Maxwell Adeleye, Akintoye described Igboho’s release as a “Triumph of Truth over Darkness in Yoruba Land.”
Details of Igboho’s movement are still sketchy and it remains unclear if the activist, who has been incarcerated since July 2021, will be returning to Nigeria.
Igboho was arrested in the Benin Republic on his way to Germany alongside his wife who was released shortly after. They left Nigeria after operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) raided their Ibadan residence on July 1, 2021.
Parliamentarians in Benin have voted to legalise abortion in the West African country, where it was already authorised under restricted conditions.
Under the new law passed late on Wednesday women can terminate a pregnancy within the first three months if it is likely to “aggravate or cause material, educational, professional or moral distress, incompatible with the woman or the unborn child’s interest”.
Previously, abortion was authorised if pursing the pregnancy “threatened the life of the mother”, was “the result of a rape or incest” or when “the unborn child has a particularly severe affection”.
After a heated debate in parliament, with some lawmakers strongly opposed to legalising abortion further, the amendment finally passed.
In the freshwater swamp forest of Hlanzoun in southern Benin, majestic trees hum with chirping birds and playful monkeys.
Home to once-bustling flora and fauna, experts now warn that the fragile environment, one of the last of its kind in the West African country and accessible only by canoe, is at risk of disappearing.
The 3,000 hectares (7,400 acres) of forest, which takes its name from the river Hlan, is home to 241 plant and 160 animal species including the rare red-bellied monkey, the marsh mongoose and the sitatunga, a swamp-dwelling antelope.
Perched at the top of a gigantic tree squawks a hornbill — a big bird known for its long, down-curved and colourful bill, similar to toucans.
“Hornbills feed on insects and fruits. They like to follow monkeys around because they force insects to come out when they move around, making it easier for hornbills to catch,” explained Vincent Romera, a French ornithologist and photographer.
With his binoculars, Romera admires a family of monkeys jumping from tree to tree, while keeping a clear distance.
“The animals here have become fearful,” he says. He’s considering using camera traps to try to photograph them, but also to count the forest’s animal population.
“The numbers are in free-fall,” he says.
Sometimes, the forest’s noisy concert is interrupted by gun shots, he says, probably from poachers.
– Logging – Communities living around the forest “need money, so those who can shoot go and kill animals,” explained Roger Hounkanrin, a local tourist guide.
Despite steady economic growth in recent years, poverty is widespread in Benin, especially in rural areas, and 40 percent of the population lives below the poverty line according to World Bank data.
On the side of the road that lines Hlanzoun forest, lizards, crocodiles and snakes killed by hunters are sold and bought. Monkeys, too, are sometimes sold for meat.
But even more than poaching, excessive logging threatens the forest.
Between 2005 and 2015, Benin’s forest cover was slashed by more than 20 percent according to the World Bank, and the deforestation rate continues to be high at 2.2 percent annually.
Trees are cut down for firewood, and the fermented sap of palm trees is used to make a local alcohol, sodabi.
The damaging practice of slash-and burn agriculture has also become more prevalent, warned Josea Dossou Bodjrenou, director of Nature Tropicale, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that works on environmental issues in Benin.
The destruction of the forest habitat reduces areas where animals can thrive, forcing them towards farms to find food and exposing them to poachers.
“This is a location that is at risk of disappearing,” said local agricultural economist Judicael Alladatin.
“It’s a poor area and we can’t blame people for wanting to feed themselves,” Alladatin said, urging authorities “to create conditions for alternative sources of income.”
The government does not officially recognise Hlanzoun forest despite lobbying efforts of several NGOs and scientific papers on the forest since 2000.
But it has started to recognise the importance of safeguarding forests in general, according to the World Bank, with recently updated forest policy and tax systems.
In Hlanzoun, the state “must act quickly” said Bodjrenou, and “support forest communities so that they can continue to make profit… but in a different way” by developing agriculture, trade and sustainable tourism.
Yoruba Nation campaigner Sunday Igboho was on Monday scheduled to appear in a Republic of Benin court to face “likely extradition charges to be brought against him by the Nigerian Government.”
This is according to Yoruba group, the Ilana Omo Oodua Worldwide.
Mr Igboho has been declared wanted by the Department of State Services for threatening national security.
Before fleeing Nigeria for Benin after his house in Ibadan was raided by DSS officials, Mr Igboho had been vocal about the creation of a Yoruba state due to the Nigerian government’s inability to curb herdsmen violence.
No immigration charges
In the Monday statement signed by spokesperson Maxwell Adeleye, the Yoruba group said security operatives in Benin have removed leg-chain and hand-cuff from Igboho since Saturday evening.
The statement also noted that Igboho’s wife, who was arrested with him in Benin but later released, has now been granted access to meet her husband three times daily.
The Benin authorities have also allowed “medical Personnel provided by our legal team” to examine Igboho, the group said.
Meanwhile, the statement stressed that Igboho is not in court to face “any immigration-related probe in Benin Republic” but “likely extradition charges to be brought against him by the Nigerian Government.”
“We urge supporters from Nigeria not to bother coming to the court premises in Bénin,” the statement added.
“Kindly stay in Nigeria and support with prayers and whatever you can do within the ambit of the law.
“We are confident that Chief Igboho shall be set free.”
Yoruba Nation agitator, Sunday Adeyemo, also known as Sunday Igboho, has been arrested in Cotonou, Benin Republic.
Although security agents in the country are yet to confirm the arrest, renowned historian and leader of the Umbrella Body of Yoruba Self-Determination Groups, Professor Banji Akintoye, in a statement on Monday, confirmed the incident.
“I received last night the troubling information that Chief Sunday Adeyemo fondly called Igboho had been arrested at the Cotonou Airport,” Akintoye said.
According to The Punch, Igboho was arrested at an airport in Cotonou on Monday night by the security forces in Benin Republic while trying to flee to Germany.
“He was arrested in Cotonou while he tried to travel out on Monday night. His destination was Germany. The security forces in Benin Republic should repatriate him to Nigeria on Tuesday,” the source said.
A renowned historian and leader of the Umbrella Body of Yoruba Self-Determination Groups, Emeritus Professor Banji Akintoye, has confirmed the arrest of Yoruba Nation Agitator, Sunday Adeyemo, popularly called Sunday Igboho in Benin Republic.
Akintoye, however, said he, alongside others are currently working to provide legal assistance for Ighoho to prevent his extradition into Nigeria, saying “Benin Republic is a land that respect the rules of law.”
This was disclosed in a statement signed on Tuesday by Akintoye.
“I received last night the troubling information that Chief Sunday Adeyemo fondly called Igboho had been arrested at the Cotonou Airport.
“I and other Yoruba Patriots who are immediately available are now working to provide the assistance necessary to ensure that nobody will be able to do to him anything unlawful or primitive and to prevent him from being extradited into Nigeria which is strongly possible.
“Fortunately, Benin Republic is reliably a land of law where the authorities responsibly obey the law,” the statement read in part.
He added that a “leading and highly respected lawyer,” has been hired in defence of Igboho.
He urged Yoruba citizens to stand strong and ensure that “neither Sunday Igboho nor any other Yoruba person will henceforth be subjected to inhuman or dehumanizing treatment of any kind.”
“We must all see to it now that Sunday Ighoho will get his freedom back so as to be able to move and operate as a free person. We all know he has committed no crime.
“We know that some people are trying to suppress or even eliminate him only because he stood up to defend his kinsmen, women and children who are being massively killed and raped in their ancestral home Land; who are having their assets and means of livelihood destroyed, and who are facing ethnic cleansing and even genocide without having the benefit of protection by the rulers of their country,” the statement read in part.
The popular historian called on all Yoruba citizens within and beyond the shores of Nigeria to ensure that their ancestral land is not defeated by invaders.
The Senate has condemned the unlawful encroachment and arrest of Nigerians by the authorities of the Republic of Benin.
This stance by the upper chamber followed a motion by Senator Tolu Odebiyi during the plenary on Tuesday.
The lawmaker drew the attention of lawmakers to reports of encroachments into Nigeria’s territory by authorities of the Republic of Benin.
He quoted a report from Channels Television dated July 2nd, 2021 where it was reported that gendarmes from the Republic of Benin crossed illegally into Nigeria to arrest one Pastor Kunle Garb and Benjamin Amosu his interpreter who are residents of Igbokofi village in Yewa North Local Government Area of Ogun State for demanding the reversal of the land encryption by the government of the Republic of Benin.
Odebiyi noted that the arrest of these Nigerians is based on the allegation that they are resisting encroachment into Nigerian land through Igbokofi village in Yewa North LGA of Ogun State.
The Senate consequently asked its committees on Foreign Affairs and Justice to engage with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Justice, and National border commission to investigate the incident and find solutions to the problem.
Abduction Of An Activist
The arrested person, Pastor Garb, is an activist, who has consistently campaigned against the incessant harassment of Nigerians by the Beninese in attempts to forcefully annex the Nigerian territory.
He was taken away in a Gestapo manner by the armed security agents from the neighbouring country.
He was allegedly charged to a court and remanded under inhuman conditions in the Benin Republic and prevented from having access to his lawyers, doctors, and members of his family.
Ballot counting was underway in Benin on Monday after an election with little suspense as President Patrice Talon looked set to win a second term following a tense campaign.
The vote itself was largely peaceful in the West African nation once praised as a vibrant democracy, but critics have accused Talon of rigging Sunday’s ballot by sidelining opposition leaders.
The cotton tycoon first elected in 2016 faced just two other rivals, little-known Alassane Soumanou and Corentin Kohoue, as most opposition figures were either disqualified by electoral reforms or were in exile.
In the economic capital Cotonou, residents went about their daily lives Monday morning, with little doubt over the election results scheduled to be announced by late Tuesday.
“We are relieved because the vote was peaceful, there was no violence like we had during the campaign. We were afraid, but in the end, everything went well,” said one 64-year-old voter who asked to be identified only as Guy.
“Now we are waiting for results, even though there is no doubt that President Talon will get re-elected.”
“Most likely, we will have a KO victory (first-round win),” said another voter, Marc Adrien Sedjame, who was “preparing to celebrate”.
Opposition leaders had called for a boycott, urging supporters not to accept the election they say is fixed — a claim Talon’s backers deny.
“At most polling stations, the vote was calm and peaceful,” Emmanuel Tiando, president of the country’s electoral commission CENA, said Sunday evening.
“There were no major incidents,” Tiando said while noting that voting could not take place in 16 of the country’s 546 boroughs.
Those included several opposition strongholds, in the centre and north of the country, where two protesters were killed and five were injured days ahead of the vote after troops fired tear gas and live rounds in the air to break up a demonstration.
Protesters had blocked roads to the north last week, causing delays in the dispatch of electoral material.
The turnout is not yet known but is expected to be low. At several polling stations in Cotonou, an AFP journalist observed that participation did not exceed 30 percent.
The electoral commission said it had already received ballots from 400 boroughs.
An association of civil society groups, who deployed more than 1,400 election observers, said in its preliminary statement Sunday that “attempts to pressurise, intimidate, threaten, corrupt or harass voters were observed across the entire country.”
The government however said it was “satisfied” with the vote, in which more than 4.9 million people were eligible to participate.
Super Eagles Technical Adviser, Gernot Rohr has included Captain Ahmed Musa, deputy captain William Ekong, goalkeeper Francis Uzoho, midfielder Wilfred Ndidi and forward Victor Osimhen in a 24-man list for this month’s 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying battles with the Benin Republic and Lesotho.
Nigeria, top of the Group E table with eight points (one ahead of Benin Republic and five more than third-placed Sierra Leone), tackle the Squirrels away at the Stade Charles de Gaulle in Porto Novo on Saturday, 27th March.
The Super Eagles will lock horns with the Crocodiles of Lesotho at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos three days later. Both are the concluding games of the qualifying series.
Also included are Enyimba FC goalkeeper John Noble, defenders Leon Balogun, Kenneth Omeruo and Olaoluwa Aina, midfielders Oghenekaro Etebo and Joseph Ayodele-Aribo, and forwards Alex Iwobi, Moses Simon, and Samuel Chukwueze.
The versatile Abdullahi Shehu is listed as a midfielder this time and there is a first senior call for Spain –based forward Sadiq Umar.
Seven players, including long–time goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi, are on standby.
Rohr, who has steered Nigeria to qualify for two major tournaments (2018 FIFA World Cup and 2019 Africa Cup of Nations), with a game to spare, countenance even better accomplishment this time, as the Eagles could earn a ticket to the finals in Cameroon before kick-off in Porto Novo, should Lesotho and Sierra Leone end their encounter in Maseru in a stalemate. The result would be known before kick-off in Porto Novo.
THE FULL LIST
Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (APOEL Nicosia, Cyprus); John Noble (Enyimba FC); Maduka Okoye (Sparta Rotterdam, The Netherlands)
Midfielders: Oghenekaro Etebo (Galatasaray FC, Turkey); Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England); Abdullahi Shehu (Omonia Nicosa, Cyprus); Joseph Ayodele-Aribo (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland); Oluwasemilogo Ajayi (West Bromwich Albion, England)
Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Unattached); Alex Iwobi (Everton FC, England); Sadiq Umar (Almeria FC, Spain); Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal FC, Spain); Victor Osimhen (Napoli FC, Italy); Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, England); Samuel Kalu (FC Girondins Bordeaux, France); Moses Simon (FC Nantes, France)
Standby: Daniel Akpeyi (Kaizer Chiefs, South Africa); Henry Onyekuru (Galatasaray FC, Turkey); Peter Olayinka (Slavia Praha, Czech Republic); Terem Moffi (FC Lorient, France); Paul Onuachu (KRC Genk, Belgium); Michael Olise (Reading FC, England); Adekunle Adeleke (Abia Warriors)