Entries in Nigeria (31)


Nigerian Militant Group Kills Seven Foreign Hostages

iStockphoto-Thinkstock(BAUCHI, Nigeria) -- The Nigerian Islamist militant group Ansaru said in an online statement posted on Saturday that it had killed seven foreign hostages it seized in January.

According to BBC News, Western governments believe the claim is credible.

The hostages were working on a construction site in the northern state of Bauchi when Ansaru captured them. They hailed from Italy, Britain, Greece and Lebanon.

Ansaru said the hostages had been killed in response to a British and Nigerian rescue attempt, though the Italian government denies that there was any attempt to rescue hostages conducted by any of the concerned governments.

The Italian government added that the group's actions "can have no explanation other than blind and barbaric violence."

Ansaru, whose full name translates as "Vanguards for the Protection of Muslims in Black Africa," has proven itself to be quite a threat even though it is a relatively young organization, having just been founded in January of 2012.

Ansaru is suspected of being an offshoot of the Boko Haram network, and is listed by the UK government as a "terrorist organisation" aligned with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, according to BBC News.

Ansaru said it had carried out the raid in January as revenge for what it called atrocities by European nations against Islam.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Supreme Court Debates Whether US Courts Can Take Human Rights Cases Overseas

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- When a Supreme Court Justice tells you that a sentence in your brief is “striking,” it’s not always a good thing.

In fact, for Paul L. Hoffman, a lawyer trying to win a case before the court, it was a very bad thing.

Hoffman appeared before the justices last February on behalf of 12 Nigerian plaintiffs who are seeking to sue a subsidiary of Shell Petroleum for allegedly aiding and abetting human rights violations in Nigeria between 1992 and 1995. At issue was whether corporations can be held liable in U.S. courts for human rights violations allegedly committed abroad.

But Justice Samuel Alito wondered what Hoffman’s case was doing in U.S. courts in the first place.

“The first sentence in your brief in the statement of the case is really striking,” Alito said, before reading the sentence: “This case was filed … by twelve Nigerian plaintiffs who alleged … that Respondents aided and abetted the human rights violations committed against them by the Abacha dictatorship … in Nigeria between 1992 and 1995.”

Here’s what Alito wanted to know: “What business does a case like that have in the courts of the United States?”

A few days after arguments, the court made a rare request. Instead of deciding Hoffman’s case, the court wanted both sides to submit new briefs on the bigger issue framed by Alito: why should a case with foreign petitioners and foreign respondents, alleging misconduct that took place abroad, be heard in a U.S. court?

On Monday, the justices met again, starting their new term, to hear arguments on that question.

Hoffman argued a law passed by the First Congress in 1789 called the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) allows the courts to recognize a cause of action for violations of the laws of war outside the United States. The ATS says that district courts have jurisdiction “of any civil action by an alien for a tort only, committed in violations of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.”

The ATS had been unused for decades until the 1980s, when several courts allowed human rights cases to be brought under it.

On Monday, Justice Alito picked up where he left off last term: “Why does this case belong in the courts of the United States,” he asked, “when it has nothing to do with the United States other than the fact that a subsidiary of the defendant has a big operation here?”

Other justices seemed skeptical of Hoffman’s position.

Justice Anthony Kennedy asked Hoffman, “What effects that commenced in the United States or that are closely related to the United States exist between what happened here and what happened in Nigeria?”

Hoffman admitted that the “only connection” between the events in Nigeria and the United States is that the plaintiffs are now living here because they received asylum.

Justice Antonin Scalia said that national courts have been the deciders when a violation is alleged on American soil. But he was concerned about the turning-of-the-tables aspect of this case: “To give national courts elsewhere the power to determine whether a United States corporation in the United States has violated a norm of international law is something else, it seems to me.”

Kathleen Sullivan, a lawyer for Shell, stood up and told the justices directly, “This case has nothing to do with the United States.”

The U.S. government is asking the justices for a middle ground. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli said that the ATS does not mean foreign cases such as this one should automatically be heard in American courts.  “There just isn’t any meaningful connection to the United States,” he said.

But he asked the justices to leave the door open for suits under the ATS when the connection to the United States is stronger.

The justices should decide the case by June.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Scores Dead in Nigerian Fuel Truck Explosion

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LAGOS, Nigeria) -- At least 95 people were killed Thursday in Nigeria while siphoning oil from a fuel truck that had crashed on a highway.  Authorities say the victims died when the truck exploded.

A spokesman for Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency said residents from a nearby village were catching leaking fuel from the wrecked tanker truck with makeshift containers when the vehicle exploded.

Nigeria is the top crude oil producer in Africa and the fourth-largest supplier of oil to the U.S., but its lack of proper roads in the country’s oil-rich swampland is responsible for countless deadly accidents.

In 2010, more than 200 people died when a wrecked tanker truck exploded into flames as they approached.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


More Than 150 Feared Dead in Nigerian Plane Crash

EMMANUEL AREWA/AFP/GettyImages(LAGOS, Nigeria) -- The American captain of a packed passenger jet that crashed into an apartment building in Nigeria's largest city called the control tower to report engine failure just minutes before the plane went down Sunday, killing all 153 people on board, according to Nigerian aviation officials.

"The important progress we made in the investigation today was the discovery of the two black boxes in the wreckage, including the cockpit voice recorder," said Kunji Okecunbi, spokesman for the West African country's Accident Investigations Bureau.

The MD-83 plane of Dana Air crashed into a building in a densely populated neighborhood in Lagos, Nigeria, near Lagos' Murtala Muhammaed International Airport on Sunday.

Okecunbi spoke to ABC News on his cellphone from the still-smoldering scene of the wreckage site, where he said he had to cover his nose at times to block the smoke blowing in his direction. Thousands of people were reportedly drawn to the crash, many to help any survivors out of the smoke and burning debris.

The Dana Air plane was reportedly flying from Abuja, the nation's capital, to Lagos when the accident occurred.

On the first of three official days of mourning in Nigeria, rescue workers used cadaver dogs and cranes to recover bodies. Officials do not yet know how many people were killed on the ground when the plane careened through a church, a textbook printing warehouse, and a two-story apartment complex. Local media report at least 10 casualties on the ground, which would bring the death toll to at least 163.

For a second day, large crowds gathered around the crash site. At one point police used tear gas to keep the crowd from interfering with rescuers' work. Many of the onlookers were people hoping to locate missing relatives.

Secretary Clinton issued a statement Monday expressing “deep condolences to those who lost family and loved ones."

State Department Spokesperson confirmed there were several Americans on the flight, but said the Embassy and Consulate in Nigeria are still notifying next of kin. There has been no confirmation yet of how many Americans were killed in the flight.

The cause of Sunday's crash is still unknown. At the time the aircraft went down, the weather was overcast but there were no storms. Authorities are investigating.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Passenger Plane Crashes into Building in Lagos, Nigeria

EMMANUEL AREWA/AFP/GettyImages(LAGOS, Nigeria) -- A passenger plane crashed into a building in a densely populated neighborhood in Lagos, Nigeria, likely killing all 153 people on board.

The Boeing MD-83 of Dana Air came down near Lagos' Murtala Muhammed International Airport on Sunday.  Pilots had radioed to air traffic control reporting engine trouble, a military official said.

Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority and the Nigeria Emergency Management Agency said that they are unsure of the number of people that were injured or killed.  It is feared that all 153 people on board the aircraft died.

"The fear is that since it happened in a residential area, there may have been many people killed," said Yushau Shuaib, a spokesman for Nigeria's National Emergency Management Agency.

The Dana Air plane was reportedly flying from Abuja, the nation's capital, to Lagos when the accident occurred.  The head of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority said he doubted there would be any survivors in the crash.

Thousands of people were reportedly drawn to the crash, many to help any survivors out of the smoke and burning debris.

At the time the aircraft went down, the weather was overcast but there were no storms.  Authorities are investigating.

The crash was the worst in Nigeria in over two decades.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Attackers Open Fire and Bomb Bayero University in Nigeria; Six Dead 

AMINU ABUBAKAR/AFP/GettyImages(NEW YORK) -- At least 16 people are dead and six others are in serious condition after gunmen attacked a university in Kano, Nigeria, the BBC reports.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack at Bayero University, where a Christian worship service was underway, but the militant group known as Boko Haram is active in the city, and has recently attacked churches, the BBC says. In addition to firing guns, police said the attackers used small explosives inside soft drink cans, a method known to be used by Boko Haram, according to the BBC.

Police are searching for the assailants.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Ex-Nigerian State Governor Sentenced to 13 Years for Stealing $77M

PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- A former Nigerian State Governor was sentenced on Tuesday to 13 years in England’s Southwark Crown Court for stealing millions intended for his constituents.

Despite admitting to 10 counts of conspiracy to defraud and money laundering an estimated $77 million, the amount stolen by James Ibori, 49, from the southeastern Nigerian Delta State was said to be "unquantified" by prosecutors, reports BBC.

Ibori has a history with law enforcement dating back to his time in England in the 1980s and 90s when he worked as a cashier at a Wickes DIY store in Middlesex. He was convicted, together with his wife, of stealing from the store in 1991 and later for stealing a credit card.

Shortly after, Ibori returned to his native Nigeria where he joined the People's Democratic Party, establishing an extensive network of political and business leaders, which resulted in his rise within the party to become one of the nation’s political elite. Ibori became the Delta State governor in 1999, a powerful position in Nigeria’s oil rich region.

Among items bought with the stolen funds were properties in England and South Africa, Range Rovers and a Bentley totaling over $6 million. When the net was closing in, Ibori evaded authorities by fleeing from Nigeria. He was eventually arrested in Dubai in 2010 by local police and extradited to England in 2011.

The oil rich Delta State’s infrastructure in the eight years of Ibori’s governance deteriorated despite oil revenue pouring into the state because, prosecutors say, the governor diverted the funds for his personal use.

The total amount pilfered is unknown because Ibori and family members set up bank accounts and shell companies around the world.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Two Western Hostages Killed During Attempted Rescue in Nigeria

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(LAGOS, Nigeria) -- A Briton and an Italian man, who were kidnapped by militants in Nigeria last year, were killed in a rescue attempt on Thursday.

British Prime Minister David Cameron and Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan confirmed the deaths in a rescue operation conducted by forces from both countries. The two leaders say the decision was made to rescue Christopher McManus, 28, and Franco Lamolinara, 47, because they believed the men were in imminent danger, reports BBC News. Italian authorities say they were unaware of the military action that left one of their citizens dead.

The men were working as engineers on a building project for the Central Bank in Birnin Kebbi, a city in northern Nigeria, when they were kidnapped in May by Boko Haram militants. Boko Haram has been responsible for several bombings in the country, with the worst one occurring on Christmas Day at multiple locations, resulting in dozens dead. The Islamic group, whose name means "Western education is a sin," are said to have killed McManus and Lamolinara during the rescue attempt.

The captors were reportedly caught after a heavy gun battle.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Former Biafra Leader Ojukwu Buried in Nigeria

ABC News Radio(NNEWI, Nigeria) -- Thousands of mourners including politicians attended the funeral of the former leader of the Republic of Biafra in Nigeria.

Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, 78, died in the United Kingdom last year after a long illness. The leader declared independence in 1967, of the oil rich southeastern region inhabited by the Igbo people, in an attempt to secede from the rest of the country.

After three years of civil war and blockades which crippled Biafra resulting in at least a million dead, Biafrans surrendered. Ojukwu went into exile for a decade before returning after receiving a full pardon.

Among the attendees at Ojukwu’s funeral were Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan, Nobel Poet laureate Wole Soyinka and Ghana’s former President Jerry Rawlings as well as local politicians, reports BBC News.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


32 People Killed in Nigeria Bus Crash

ABC News Radio(BAUCHI, Nigeria) -- A two-bus accident claimed the lives of 32 people in northern Nigeria on Thursday.

The buses burst into flames in a head-on collision, killing everyone onboard. State officials say the buses, which belonged to a state-run company, were speeding in a work area zone.

The U.S. State Department issued an advisory on travelling on Nigerian roads, saying many roads in the country are in poor condition.

The advisory says in part: "Excessive speed, unpredictable driving habits, lack of basic maintenance and safety equipment on many vehicles, and the absence of any official vehicle inspection for roadworthiness present additional hazards."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio