By Ezinwanne Onwuka
● France to return $150 million stolen by a former military leader to Nigeria
The French government, on Friday [Nov. 3], made its intention to return looted public money running into $150 million [N117,232,500,000] to the Nigerian government, in a country where corruption and embezzlement of public funds are rife. The money was stolen by Nigeria’s former military dictator General Sani Abacha and frozen abroad.
Since the passing of General Abacha, the funds he stole from the nation’s coffers during his regime [1993–1998] estimated to be between $3 and $5 billion by Transparency International have been sent back to Nigeria in tranches. In November 2022, the U.S. turned over $20.6 million [N16,099,930,000] looted by the former military leader to Nigeria.
Catherine Colonna, the French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs, said France is returning the money to strengthen the France–Nigeria partnership. “We will start discussions with the Nigerian administration to allocate these $150 million to development projects that will benefit the population, according to the priorities of the Nigerian government,” she added. When repatriated, President Bola Tinubu said the money will be “judiciously applied in attaining our development objectives.”
● U.S. asks citizens to avoid major hotels in Nigeria’s big cities
Without giving details on any specific threat, the United States on Friday warned its citizens in Nigeria of “elevated threats” to “major hotels” in the “larger cities” of the country.
The alert, the U.S. Department of State says, is to ensure that U.S. nationals exercise vigilance when arranging lodging or visiting major hotels in Nigeria. Besides being vigilant, American citizens were also advised to be alert to their surroundings and to keep a low profile.
In an updated travel advisory issued in September, the State Department flagged 18 Nigerian states in its “Do Not Travel” list due to risks ranging from terrorism to kidnapping and other violent criminal activities.
The latest advisory provided the addresses and telephone numbers of the U.S. embassy in Abuja and the consulate in Lagos, should any U.S. citizen require assistance. “The Nigerian security services are working diligently to counter the threat,” the U.S. authorities added.
● Naira rebounds, exchanges for N960/$1
The Nigerian currency, the naira, has appreciated to N960/US$1 at the parallel market, otherwise known as the black market after the Nigerian government said it is working to achieve a “fair price” target of N650/$1 by December end.
This is the first time in over a month that the local currency would gain remarkable value since it exchanged for N1000/$1 on October 9. The naira has, in the last few days, appreciated against the dollar. From N1,004 on Friday [Nov. 3], a dollar exchanged for below N1,000 on Saturday [Nov. 4]. On the official market, a dollar trades for N803.37.
A financial expert, Aminu Gwadabe told the News Agency of Nigeria [NAN] that the naira is recording massive gains because of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s “double-edged sword measures of dollar liquidity injection and naira mopping through the instrumentality of interest rate hikes.” New CBN chief Yemi Cardoso started clearing a backlog of matured dollar obligations amounting to over $7 billion [N5,622,190,000,000] last week as a way forward for naira stability at the FX market.
● U.K. alerts British nationals about terrorism and violent political rallies in Nigeria
The British government has advised British nationals against traveling to Borno, Yobe Adamawa, Gombe, Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara, riverine areas of Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross River States of Nigeria over potential terrorist attacks.
An advisory on the U.K government’s website updated on Saturday [Oct. 4] says “There is a high threat of criminal and terrorist kidnap throughout Nigeria”, also warning that “incidents of banditry and inter-communal violence occur frequently throughout Nigeria. Attacks can occur without warning.”
Ahead of this weekend’s off-cycle gubernatorial election in Imo, Bayelsa and Kogi States, U. K’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office [FCDO] said: “There is a heightened risk of rallies and demonstrations which could turn violent.”
The FCDO further advises that U.K citizens avoid non-essential travels to Bauchi, Kano, Jigawa, Niger, Sokoto State, Kogi, Abia, Plateau, Taraba, Anambra, Imo, non-riverine areas of Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers States, and within 20 km [12.42 miles] of the border with Niger in Kebbi State.
● 3 dead as explosion rocks Canadian Embassy in Abuja
The Canadian Embassy located 13010G Diplomatic Drive Central Business District Abuja has been gutted by fire resulting in the death of three persons on Monday.
According to newspaper reports monitored by Mike Odeh of TruthNigeria, the explosion occurred during a routine maintenance of the Embassy’s power generator. Three members of the technical crew were killed in the unexpected conflagration. Other technical crew members barely escaped burning to death.
The fire incident broke out at 11:30 a.m. local time today. Staff were evacuated from the building to safety as the emergency response team arrived to contain the fire.
Ezinwanne Onwuka reports for TruthNigeria from Abuja.