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What’s News: Journalist murdered, Naira crashes again & more

WHAT’S NEWS? September 21, 2022. These are among the top stories in Nigeria on Sept. 21.

By Ezinwanne Onwuka

● Missing journalist found dead after three days

A crime reporter in northwestern Zamfara State, Hamisu Danjibga has been reported dead after he was abducted by bandits on Sunday, Sept. 17. Reports say his corpse was found in a pit where his abductors had dumped his lifeless body on Wednesday evening. Family members told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the assailants demanded N1 million [$1300] for his release.

“The discovery of his corpse was a result of an unpleasant odor observed by children of an Islamic school behind his house in the evening of Wednesday, September 20, 2023,” said the Zamfara State chapter of Nigeria’s journalist union in a statement. “The dead body was confirmed to be that of Danjibga by his family and some neighbors.” The union tasked security agencies to thoroughly investigate the matter and bring the perpetrators of the dastardly act to book.

● Naira falls to N983/$ as USD scarcity persists

The pressure on Nigeria’s currency, the naira, remains unresolved as it crashed yet again to N983/US$1 at the parallel market, otherwise known as the black market, on Wednesday. It is the latest record low for the Nigerian currency since President Tinubu embarked on a “thorough house cleaning” of the nation’s monetary policy causing continuing repercussions.

Since the Nigerian President floated the naira by closing the gap between the official rates and the black-market rates of Nigeria’s foreign exchange market, the naira has continued to fall drastically as USD scarcity and inflation persist. In July, the naira had briefly traded as low as N955/US$1, raising concerns that it might reach the alarming rate of N1,000/$1.

While the naira traded on the black market for N983/US$1 on Wednesday, the official market rate was N776.60/US$1. The latest foreign exchange crisis is one among several monetary problems and foreign exchange challenges Nigeria’s new central bank governor Olayemi Cardoso has been tasked to resolve.

● Police kill four kidnappers in gun duel

Men of the Nigerian police demonstrated their gallantry to sustain the tempo in the fight against kidnapping and other vices in the country on Monday when they gunned down a four-man bandit gang who specialise in attacking and kidnapping unsuspecting motorists along the Jesse – Igueleba road in Delta State, South-South Nigeria.

Delta State police spokesperson Bright Edafe who confirmed the development on Wednesday said the gang fired shots at the police team’s van from their hideout, deflating one of the front tires. “They were swiftly engaged in a gun duel by the police team. The armed bandits eventually succumbed to the superior firepower of the policemen,” he added. One AK47 rifle with 25 rounds of live ammunition, and two locally made cut-to-size guns and cartridges were recovered.

● Tinubu woos Nigerians in United States to return home

President Bola Tinubu appealed to Nigerians in the diaspora to return home to Nigeria, emphasizing the nation’s current state of growth and progress. “We need you back home. Nigeria has arrived, forget the frustration of the previous year’s leadership,” he told several Nigerians residing in the U.S. who attended a presidential town hall meeting on the sidelines of the 78th session of the UN General Assembly in New York on Wednesday.

Young Nigerians are leaving the country in increasing numbers in search of a better life. It’s a trend that even has its own word — Japa — Yoruba for “to run, or escape.” Not many Nigerians would want to stay in their country and deal with corruption, broken infrastructure and the lack of jobs, hence the Japa wave. Tinubu stressed that “Nigeria is home for business opportunities “and encouraged diaspora Nigerians to contribute to Nigeria’s development.

● Diesel price skyrockets to ₦1,000 per liter

The cost of diesel at major retail outlets across Nigeria skyrocketed to over ₦1,000 (US$1.302) this week, marking a significant increase from its price between July and September when it was ₦600 (US$0.781).

The development has raised anxiety and outcry by Nigerians who are currently suffering hardship as a result of high petrol prices caused by the removal of the petrol subsidy and the imposition of a 7.5 per cent value-added tax (VAT) on diesel by the Nigerian government, a decision that was strongly opposed by oil marketers. This is further compounded by Nigeria’s volatile foreign exchange rates, given the country’s heavy reliance on petroleum product imports, necessitating transactions in foreign currencies.

The new VAT on the commodity pushed the cost to N950 (US$1.236) in August only for an upswing to be witnessed on Wednesday as some retail stations in Ogun, Ondo and Lagos States, and Nigeria’s capital Abuja sold above N1,000. However, there’s a glimmer of hope for the country as Dangote refinery, launched in May, is expected to commence diesel-refining operations in October.

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