Shell was complicit in a billion-dollar corruption scandal for a lucrative Nigerian oilfield

OBSESSION

Nigeria Now

April 11, 2017Quartz Africa

This story has been updated.

Royal Dutch Shell’s checkered history while operating in Nigeria has taken another bad turn.

The oil giant is mired in a billion-dollar bribery scandal over its 2011 acquisition of OPL 245, a vast undeveloped but lucrative Nigerian oilfield off the coast of the Niger Delta. Shell first acquired a stake in the oilfield back in 2001 alongside Malabu, a company allegedly controlled by Dan Etete, Nigeria’s oil minister between 1995 and 1998. Etete is believed to have acquired the rights to the oilfield under questionable circumstances while serving as minister.

After two decades of legal wrangling over ownership of the oilfield, in 2011, Shell, in collaboration with Italian oil company Eni, paid the Nigerian government $1.3 billion to acquire OPL 245. But that money never went into the public trust, as it should have. Instead, nearly all of it went to Etete who was convicted of money laundering in France in 2007. Through Etete, much of the money is believed to have ended up being shared by high-ranking Nigerian government officials in a series of political kickbacks with Shell fully aware.

Shell initially denied knowledge of payments made to Malabu, Etete and any other Nigerian officials, saying that its dealings with regard to the acquisition of OPL 245 were legal and that none of the questionable payments “were made with its knowledge, authorization or on its behalf.” But a trove of emails published by anti-corruption charities, Global Witness and Finance Uncovered, suggest that is not the case. Indeed, the emails show “evidence” of Shell’s senior employees “knowingly participating in a vast bribery scheme,” according to Global Witness.

The emails show correspondence between senior Shell officials acknowledging the possibility that almost all the money paid for OPL 245 could be passed to government officials, through Etete, in underhanded deals. Following the published emails, in a reversal of prior denials, Shell has now admitted that it engaged with Etete during negotiations to acquire OPL 245. For its part, an Eni spokeswoman told Quartz the company, through its Nigerian subsidiary, paid “exclusively to the Government of Nigeria in respect of title to OPL 245” and that the company “did not pay any money other than as contemplated and recorded by the Block Resolution Agreement” to “Malabu, to Chief Dan Etete or to any public officer.”

The stink of the scandal reached all the way to the presidency with Goodluck Jonathan, the then-president, named as a beneficiary in documents from Italian prosecutors. Jonathan is said to have received nearly $500 million, which was split with other high ranking members of his administration, including Diezani Alison-Madueke, his embattled former minister of petroleum. For his part, Jonathan has denied any wrongdoing, claiming the allegations are sponsored by people threatened by his “continuously rising profile in the international community.” Italian prosecutors have recommended that Claudio Descalzi, Eni CEO, stand trial for corruption.

Shell took the risk of getting caught up in such a murky deal because of the value of the asset at stake. OPL245 is one of Africa’s largest undeveloped oilfields with an estimated nine billion barrels of “probable reserves,” according to Global Witness. Acquiring the oilfield could have also seen Shell’s global “proven oil reserves” increase by a third, Global Witness says.

While OPL 245’s probable reserves could generate $500 billion worth of oil at current market prices, that’s not necessarily a measure of its actual worth, Dolapo Oni, head of energy research at Ecobank Development Company, tells Quartz. With attendant costs and taxes accompanying eventual exploration of the oilfield, Oni says, based on 2011 oil prices, OPL 245’s actual value was likely around $1.9 billion—$600 million more than Shell and Eni paid for it.

But while the deal clearly enhances Shell, it’s at the detriment of Nigerians. For decades, government officials have been accused of flitting away the country’s oil wealth and pocketing large sums of cash through corrupt dealings. The sale of OPL 245, for less than its actual value—most of which went into private pockets—captures that sentiment.

Active in Nigeria since the 1950s, the latest scandal does nothing to boost Shell’s battered reputation among locals, particularly in the oil-rich Niger Delta. The company’s fractious relationship with the region is linked to the 1995 executions of nine Niger Delta leaders, including popular activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa. Shell has been accused of collaborating with the Nigerian government in the executions and, in 2009, the company agreed to pay $15.5 million as compensation to affected families.

The company is also notorious for the adverse environmental impact of its work in the Niger Delta. Severe oil spills have resulted in large-scale devastation and pollution which will likely take decades to clean up. In one of such cases, Bodo, a community in Niger Delta, received a $83 million payment from the oil giant in what was the largest ever out-of-court oil spill-related settlement in Nigeria.

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LandAssets Plan: Implementation (Sponsored by LandAssets Consult)

Photo published for International Organizations Take Major Step to Boost Global Cooperation in Tax Matters

IMF

At no other time in the history of mankind have things become as gloomy as they now seem. The seven years of drought in the Pharaohic time of Joseph, and the modern USA history of the depression of 1933 are the closest scenarios to the kind of devastation that stares mankind in the face in our present times. And, dare we say that we had a taste of it during the Global Economic Recession of 2008/2009?

Whereas that period of depression in the Biblical time of Pharaoh and Joseph

affected a region of the World; the Middle-East, the great depression of 1933

affected the United States alone. However, what stares mankind in the face in

our time is not just continent wide, it is worldwide!

Just as the transition from the Agrarian to manufacturing economies of the 19th

Century caused a lot of economic upheavals which required great minds like John Locke, Adam Smith, and Karl Marx to address, the current transition from

manufacturing to Service/Technology based economies is equally creating

upheavals that modern man is finding difficulty dealing with.

At the center of the problem this treatise hopes to address is the most

important unit of production: man, and hence employees or workers in the

production process. The onset of manufacturing meant that so many who were

employed in agricultural production, who wished to make the transition to

manufacturing couldn’t, because of the limitations in the numbers that could be

employed or absorbed by the owners of manufacturing concerns. Relatively

speaking, the numbers have further dwindled with the introduction of technology in manufacturing and the Service industries, leading to an aggravated spike in the unemployment rates in most economies. For instance, drones are already cutting down on the number of pilots that most air forces in the developed world need.

More of technology, and less of human factor has meant lesser number of people employed, and reduction in aggregate national wages; and in contrast, more of the proceeds of enterprise that owners or entrepreneurs retain. This scenario is what has finally developed into the 1%/99% phenomenon; with less than one hundred of the richest in the World having an asset net worth that far exceeds that of the bottom half or 3.5 billion of World population; a very unacceptable development, one would think.

Unemployment therefore is at the core of the concern we have devoted years and effort to address, and which we at LandAssets Consult, in this treatise, intend to address. What our years of enquiry, using the Nigerian economy as case study has birthed, we have named The LandAssets Plan, after our outfit, LandAssets Consult.

The LandAssets Plan

The LandAssets Plan is a concept which seeks to increase the volume of property insurance and use it to provide solutions to the world-wide problem of unemployment, and enhance poverty reduction, wealth creation, industrialization, manufacturing and housing provision. Put in a nut shell, the LandAssets Plan could be defined as the compulsory insurance of all urban and semi-urban based Real Estate within an economy, with a view to:

# deepening insurance penetration;

# increasing insurance volume and increasing appreciably, the Gross Annual

Insurance Premium;

# Providing there from, the required funding for infrastructure provision and

maintenance;

# providing long term funding for the private sector of the economy;

# reducing the cost of funds to single digit from the current, tortuous

double digit rates; and,

# jump-starting the economy from a recessive to a productive one.

As it is with so many developing economies, Nigeria is troubled by such economic problems as:

♦ Unavailability of long-term Development Funds;

♦ Infrastructure deficit;

♦High interest rates;

♦ High inflation rates;

♦High rate of Capital flight;

♦ Exchange rates deficiency;

♦ Inadequate housing provision;

♦ Decaying manufacturing infrastructure; and,

♦ Very low rate of industrialization.

The existence of the foregoing problems result in high unemployment and poverty rates. Such economies are often caught in the throes of recessionary spirals. The problem therefore, properly situated, is the need to conceptualize ways to fund job creation, create wealth, reduce poverty, industrialize the economy, enhance manufacturing, and create the enabling conditions for provision of affordable and adequate housing.

Muhammadu Buhari

President Mohammadu Buhari

The NEEDS Development Objective

 In the Nigerian context, (and we believe this is equally the applicable scenario

in most developing economies of Africa, the Americas, Asia-Pacific, and the

Middle-east) none availability of loanable funds seems to be the major handicap

towards the attainment of the foregoing laudable objectives. In the Nigerian

context, this problem was adequately captured in the following words in the

NEEDS Document:

“Financing: NEEDS will require a heavy investment program to jump start the

economy in a manner that is pro-poor and poverty-reducing. Aside from the

projected investment by the federal and state governments as well as the private

sector, there is still A RESIDUAL FINANCING GAP which requires special efforts to mobilize the required finance.”

Developing economies like Nigeria have hitherto relied on World bank and IMF

loans, which were mostly diverted by politicians into private accounts in

European and American banks. That was basically why Nigeria paid for loans that never yielded any dividends, since the projects for which the loans were

obtained were never developed, ab initio.

The LandAssets Plan was therefore focused on seeking a method to fill the void

created by the residual financing gap of NEEDS. Since sourcing such funds

offshore seems impossible at this time, the practical thing would be to source

them from within; and this, we believe the LandAssets Plan would accomplish in any economy.

Stated differently, the LandAssets Plan is a concept which seeks to use the

resources of the rich within any given economy to create jobs, create wealth,

redistribute wealth, and reduce poverty. This objective would be realised

through the compulsory insurance of all Real Estate situate within the urban and

semi-urban areas of the subject economy, at very affordable rates.

From our study of the Nigerian economy, which we employed as our Case Study for the LandAssets Plan, we found that for considerably reduced premium on individual properties, the increased volume of insured properties would result in:

ð  A Gross Revenue of N 3 trillion p.a. over an initial five-year period;

ð  The cost of realisation includes N 45 billions for Valuation fees, and N

180 billions in Legal, Architectural, Construction and other fees;

ð ¯ N 600 billion would be retained by LandAssets Consult for Conceptualizing,

Brokering, Managing and Coordinating the project;

ð ¯ Every destroyed property would be redeveloped within a year at no cost to

the property owner;

ð ¯ Over one million jobs would be created within the first year of

implementation; and,

ð ¯ The spill over effects of releasing three extra trillion Naira into the

economy annually would defy description.

Partnering with the IMF/World Bank

 We conceptualized the LandAssets Plan in 2002, and incorporated the “residual

financing gap” concept into same in 2004. From inception, we have tried to

secure our successive Governments’ interest in the project to no avail,

basically because of our aversion to paying lobbyists.

In order therefore to get this project off the starting blocks, we would

appreciate the partnership of either the IMF or the World bank. For a start, the

partnership of either finance institutions in an advisory role would be

immensely beneficial to the entire world economy by affording the project a

badge of acceptability. Moreover, having the resources of the institutions

available to us through their country managers would add a lot of advantages in

project execution.

We would gladly offer 30 percent of LandAssets revenue from every economy in which the LandAssets Plan would be executed to any of the subject finance

institutions which partners with us. We value very highly the statistics for

each individual economy in which we would consult, considering that such

resources would reduce highly, the time that would have been spent garnering

such.

Subtle Redistribution of Wealth and Income

 Issuing from the dictum in elementary physics that matter can neither be created

nor destroyed, but could be transformed from one state to the other, we, in

trying to address the 1% /99% phenomenon, ascertained that the LandAssets Plan could turn out a subtle instrument for wealth and income redistribution, in the sense that, unlike taxes which are resisted by the rich, and does nothing for

the poor; the institution of the LandAssets Plan would result in the idle wealth

of the rich being employed to empower the poor, and towards poverty-reducing

tendencies, while enhancing the wealth of the rich.

The way to achieving such goals , using Nigeria as case study, is for the

Federal government to appropriate yearly , 80% of the income of the insurance

companies over an initial five year period, specifically for development

purposes. In exchange, the Federal government would issue twenty year Bonds for the appropriated funds to the Insurance companies. Such Development Funds should be channelled towards:

ð ´ Infrastructure development and maintenance;

ð ´ Provision of Seed Capital to Small and Medium Scale Enterprises at 3%

interest through the insurance companies rather than banks;

ð ´ Providing funds for Solid minerals development and extraction;

ð ´ Lending towards assisting the manufacturing sector of the economy; and,

ð ´ Providing affordable housing to the low income group.

The IMF, or the World bank, whichever of the finance institutions which partners with us, would ascertain that the use to which such development funds are employed meet the defined objectives. They would be better placed to effectively play that role than LandAssets Consult.

By the sixth year of implementation, by which period over N12 trillion would

have been ploughed into such fund, the economy would be sufficiently empowered to become very productive. Again, the imagination could be stretched to appreciate what such development would do with regards to job creation and poverty-reduction. Simply stated, it would be beyond belief.

On our part, from every revenue we shall earn in every economy, 80% would be

ploughed back in investments in such economies, depending largely on the perception of those who would advise LandAssets Consult as to what the priorities are for each economy. For the Nigerian economy, the following shall be our priority investments objectives:

🔵 Development of a Petroleum Refinery in order to alleviate the bleeding of the economy by oil marketers;
🔵 Investment in, and development of affordable housing for the low and middle income earners, since most housing developments seem aimed at the top end property market;
🔵 Investing in solid minerals extraction by taking on stocks in some of the extraction outfits;
🔵 Construction of water hydrants in various residential and commercial districts in the urban areas of the economy, with a view to fighting fire more effectively;
🔵 Taking the lead in investing in an East-West fast rail project;
🔵 Investing in Power generation;
🔵 Lending directly to Small and Medium Scale Enterprises;
🔵 Investing in the manufacturing, industrialization and other economy enhancing investments and sectors of the economy; and,
🔵 Investing in the provision of internet platform and technology to the rural and highly disadvantaged areas with a view to making the internet more accessible and affordable throughout the economy.

Conclusion

 During the period of the Sub-Prime Mortgage induced World Economic Recession of 2008 / 2009, the erstwhile President of France, Nicholas Sarkozy remarked that Capitalism had failed; and that there was a need to develop a new system, perhaps some innovation, comprising of an amalgam of Capitalism and such innovative application.

The “Invisible hand” theory of Adam Smith which is the core and basis of Capitalism, it seemed to world leaders then, no longer does any good to the majority of mankind; since the rich seemingly gets richer while the poor gets nothing. From the developing economies, all kinds of indictment have been flung the way of the IMF and the World bank for impoverishing developing economies with their “one solution fits all” approach to dealing with economic problems.

The first salvo which signified that the voiceless poor were getting their voice back was the disruptive economic stirrings induced by, and dubbed “Occupy Wall Street”, which metamorphosed into the “Occupy Movement”, with London and several European cities witnessing the  phenomenon.

Unfortunately, since that movement got to and became transformed into the “Arab Spring” by radicalised, and mostly unemployed Arab and Muslim youths, the World has neither known peace, nor would ever be the same again. In essence, it is our contention that unemployment is at the very roots of the spike in terrorism the world is currently witnessing. We doubt that any informed member of any nation would doubt the foregoing assertion because the facts and statistics are glaring enough.

Recently, in discussing the Brussels terrorist attack, a TV anchor, quoting from a study undertaken by some organisation, stated that of the foreign fighters who joined ISIS,   (the financial inducement being a factor), the contingent of unemployed Tunisian youths, who numbered six thousands, were the highest from any particular country.

The point which needs to be made here, and which needs restating, is that the United Nations Organization, the World Finance System, represented by the World bank and the IMF should, with all the statistics at their disposal, be addressing World Poverty and Unemployment much more than they have done. The world’s rich don’t seem to appreciate that whether it is “the Occupy Movement,” “Arab Spring,” or “ISIS,” it is all about unemployment and poverty.

A young man or woman out of University and holding down a good job to which he reports every morning, has no business either occupying anything other than his job, or lending his time to being a suicide bomber. The resources to ensure that, we insist, is domiciled in every economy, but locked down by the rich in non-performing wealth and assets. We just want to free up those latent assets and use them for the benefit of humanity.

If we had the wherewithal to impose the LandAssets Plan solution on an economy such as Greece, then the fact that this is “an idea whose time has come,” would  become crystal clear to all and sundry.This is the best we can do. From here on, we await the United Nations, the World Bank, the IMF, the Federal Government of Nigeria, and who else to talk to us.

Let’s get the World working again. Like  President Barrack Obama said in one of his State of the Union addresses, “opportunities abound, let’s get to work.” Give a helping hand in reducing poverty. Help us to create wealth. Give us a helping hand in getting youths off guns and bombs, and having them gainfully employed in civil jobs. Help us make this world liveable again.

Thank you for your time.

GabbyOgbechie
Managing Consultant, LandAssets Consult.

The basic principles underpinning the LandAssets Plan could be found in our

earlier publications in The Property Gazette, (thepropertygazette.org) namely:

  1. On Reviving our Depressed Economy; Engendering Growth and Development; and,

Creating millions of Jobs: The LandAssets Plan – short link –

  1. The Jurisprudence of Annuity and the LandAssets Plan – short link –
  2. Banking Reforms and the LandAssets Plan -short link –
  3. Infrastructure Development and Maintenance: The LandAssets option

Nigeria’s expulsion from J.P Morgan’s bond index may increase lending rates – Expert

jp-morganThe Head of Strategy, Citibank, Mr Sharaf Muhammed, on Wednesday said the expulsion of Nigeria from J.P Morgan’s Bond Index for Emerging Markets might increase lending rates for the country.

J. P Morgan Chase and Co. is the largest financial services holding company in the United States and the world’s fifth largest bank with total assets of 2.6 trillion dollars.

J.P Morgan added Nigeria to its index in 2012 and on Jan. 16, 2015, it placed Nigeria on a negative index watch and finally expelled Nigeria on Tuesday.

According to J.P Morgan, Nigeria is expelled from its Government Bond index for Emerging Markets for lack of liquidity for transactions, transparency in the determination of exchange rate, among others.

Muhammed said that Nigeria stands to lose a lot financially as a result of its expulsion.

“When Nigeria borrows money by selling bonds, they pay investors based on the prevailing bond yields. This means the next time the Nigerian government goes out to borrow it will no longer attract a 10 per cent yield, but it will now borrow from investors at a yield of 12.5 per cent or even more.

“This will cost the government more money in servicing interest, thus taking money it could have used for capital projects for debt servicing,’’ he said.

He said by taking Nigeria off the index, it might result to little or no demand for Nigeria bonds from foreign investors.

“Already, since JPM threatened to expel Nigeria in January, foreign holding of our bonds has dropped from a peak of 11 billion dollars in 2013 to three billion dollars today. It is likely that this may shrink further, thus affecting the demand for our debts.

“A lack of demand for our debts means yields may even get higher as fewer investors will now seek for our bonds,’’ he said.

Muhammed said that this might also result to Nigeria losing its prestige as not just the largest economy in Africa, but the economy attracting the most foreign investments.

He said that if the situation was not handled properly it might create demand pressure on forex and trigger another devaluation of the naira.

A statement signed by the Director, Corporate Communications, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Ibrahim Mu’azu, on behalf of CBN, and Federal Ministry of Finance, said they would focus on what was best for Nigeria.

“In our continuous bid to strengthen the Nigerian financial market and enhance our status as a preferred destination for investors, we take measures to improve the market. Despite the fact that oil prices have fallen by nearly 60 per cent in one year, which should expectedly reduce the amount of liquidity in the market, CBN ensure that all genuine forex demands are met.

“On transparency, the CBN mandated that all forex transactions were posted online in the Reuters Trading Platform so that all stakeholders could easily verify all transactions in the market. We introduced an order-based, two-way forex market, which had resulted in the stability of the exchange rate in the interbank market over the past seven months and largely eliminated speculators from the market.

“Despite these positive outcomes, the J. P. Morgan would prefer that we remove this rule; even though it is obvious that doing so will lead to an indeterminate depreciation of the naira. With dwindling oil prices, we believe that an order-based two-way market best serves Nigeria’s interest at the moment,’’ it said.

It said that the Federal Government viewed Nigeria and the interest of Nigerians as paramount, thus would only continue to take economic decisions that would impact positively in the lives of Nigerians.

Boko Haram killers on horseback massacre nearly 80 in NE Nigeria

AFP

Fire guts a police station set ablaze by Boko Haram Islamists in Kwadon village outside the northeast Nigerian city of Gombe on February 14, 2015
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Kano (Nigeria) (AFP) – Suspected Boko Haram gunmen on horseback shot dead nearly 80 people in attacks on three villages in Nigeria’s restive northeast at the weekend, a vigilante and residents told AFP on Monday.

The attacks were the latest bloodbath in the six-year-old insurgency by the extremist group aimed at carving out an Islamic state in the volatile region.

Babakura Kolo, a vigilante fighting Boko Haram, said 68 people were killed in the attack on Baanu village in Borno state late on Friday while residents said another 11 people were shot dead in two other villages on Saturday and Sunday.

“Reports reached us of an attack on Baanu village late Friday where Boko Haram gunmen riding on horses opened fire on the village. Sixty-eight people were killed in the attack,” Kolo told AFP.

He said the gunmen stormed Baanu around 8.30 pm (1930 GMT), shooting sporadically.

Baanu resident Aisami Ari who fled the attack to the state capital Maiduguri on Saturday, also confirmed the attack and the death toll.

“The attackers came on horses around 8.30 pm and began shooting sporadically. The whole village was thrown into confusion and everybody fled. We returned after they had gone and found out they had killed 68 people in the village,” he said.

“Most of us left the village on Saturday for fear of a fresh attack,” he added.

A government official, who demanded anonymity, however put the death toll in Baanu at 56.

Kolo also said four people were killed in another attack by the Islamists in Karnuwa village on Saturday.

“They shot dead four people in the village, including the chief imam of the village, his son and two neighbours,” he said.

Local resident Saleh Musa told AFP of a third attack on Hambagda on Sunday where they killed seven villagers and injured five others.

– Attackers on horses –

“The attackers arrived on horseback around 2:00 pm while people were praying in the mosque. They went straight to the mosque and opened fire on worshippers,” said Musa who later fled to the nearby town of Askira Uba.

“They killed seven people, while five others were injured. I was late for the afternoon prayers and I was at home preparing to go to the mosque and join in the prayers when the attack happened.”

Army spokesman in Maiduguri, Colonel Tukur Gusau, and Borno government spokesman Isa Umar Gusau said they could not immediately comment on the attacks.

Boko Haram has stepped up its attacks since Nigeria’s new President Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in on May 29, vowing to crush the insurgency.

The wave of violence since the inauguration has claimed more than 1,000 lives, dealing a blow to a four-country offensive launched in February that had chalked up a number of victories against the hardline Islamists.

The extremists have carried out deadly ambushes across Nigeria’s borders and in recent weeks suicide bombers, many of them women, have staged several attacks in Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad.

Boko Haram, which is seeking to carve out a hardline Islamic state in northeast Nigeria, has killed some 15,000 people and displaced 1.5 million since 2009.

An 8,700-strong Multi-National Joint Task Force, drawing in Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Benin, is expected to deploy against the insurgents soon.

Block Leakages, Start Immediate Reforms, Experts Urge New NNPC GMD

 NNPC Kachukwu

Reacting to the appointment of the new NNPC GMD, the director general of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Muda Yusuf, urged him to endeavour to run the corporation in a very transparent way.

“The NNPC is a strategic institution but has been a platform for leakages. He should know that the economy significantly relies on the oil and gas industry, and for the economy and people of Nigeria to have full value of that sector, whosoever is in charge must be relevantly sincere and ready to support economic growth,” Yusuf said.

Describing Kachikwu’s appointment as good choice, industry analyst, Dan Kunle, stated that with his wealth of experience and understanding of the local environment, the new NNPC GMD should be able to lead the much needed reforms in the sector.

He explained that coming from ExxonMobil, a leading player in Nigeria’s offshore, Kachikwu has valid experience of the underlining issues of the Nigerian oil and gas sector.

On his part, the executive secretary, Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association (DAPMMA), Olufemi Adebayo Adewole, asserted that, from his background, the new GMD is “a round peg in a round hole.”

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Nigeria Boko Haram: Twin blast kills dozens during Eid al-Fitr celebrNiation in Damaturu

Nigeria twin blasts in Jos
Two female suicide bombers detonated their device as Muslims were celebrating end of Ramadan(Reuters)

At least nine people have been killed in a twin blast in the Nigerian town of Damaturu, Yobe state, while Muslims were celebrating Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan. However, a source close to IBTimes UK said the death toll reached 50.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack, but suspicions are likely to fall on Boko Haram terrorists, who have been killed thousands of people in north-eastern Nigeria since 2009.

Who are Nigeria’s Boko Haram terrorists?

Boko Haram (recently renamed Iswap) fights against Western influence in Nigeria and aims to impose its version of Sharia law in the country.

The group declared an Islamic caliphate in Gwoza, along the Cameroon border, in August 2014.

Boko Haram has raided several cities in the north of the country in a bid to take control of more land.

Three states − Adamawa, Borno and Yobe − have been under a state of emergency since May 2013, due to Boko Haram’s attacks.

The group has killed more than 2,900 people since the beginning of 2015.

The group – renowned for kidnapping women and children and forcing them to carry out suicide attacks – has stepped up its attacks during the month of Ramadan, killing dozens of people.

The explosions – carried out by two women, one of whom was believed to be aged 10 –occurred in an area known as Layin Gwange and an open-air praying area known as Eid grounds.

The source who spoke to IBTimes UK said the explosions are not preventing Muslims from continuing to pray.

“We will not stop performing our religious obligation no matter what the intimidation,” he said. “We will continue to pray Allah to bring peace back to our land.”

The twin blast occurred hours after at least 30 people were killed as two bombs had went off in a marketplace in the Nigerian city of Gombe.

Nearly 150 killed in suspected Boko Haram attacks in NE Nigeria

AFP

A grab taken from a video posted on YouTube on June 2, 2015 by Boko Haram shows an alleged group member delivering a speech at an undisclosed location
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  • Maiduguri (Nigeria) (AFP) – Suspected Boko Haram militants have killed nearly 150 people in northeastern Nigerian villages, mowing down men and children while they prayed in mosques and shooting women preparing food at home, witnesses said Thursday.

Dozens of militants stormed three remote villages in the flashpoint Borno state on Wednesday evening, setting houses ablaze in the bloodiest day of attacks by the extremist group since President Muhammadu Buhari came to power in May.

Gunmen killed at least 97 people in Kukawa, the worst-affected village, a local who gave his name as Kolo and who said he had counted the bodies told AFP.

“They wiped out the immediate family of my uncle… They killed his children, about five of them,” Kolo said.

A fisherman who witnessed the attack corroborated the death toll.

– ‘Victims as young as four’ –

Babami Alhaji Kolo, another witness in Kukawa who fled to the state capital Maiduguri, said more than 50 militants had stormed the village.

“The terrorists first descended on Muslim worshippers in various mosques who were observing the Maghrib prayer shortly after breaking their fast,” he said.

“They… opened fire on the worshippers who were mostly men and young children.

“They spared nobody. In fact, while some of the terrorists waited and set most of the corpses on fire, others proceeded to houses and shot indiscriminately at women who were preparing food,” he said.

Malami Abdulkareem, an Arabic teacher in Kukawa, said some of the victims were as young as four.

“The attackers did not spare even children between four and 12 years old who went to mosques with their fathers.

“I saw at least nine kids who were killed in two mosques,” he said.

A military source in Maiduguri, who refused to be named, confirmed the attack but could not yet give a death toll.

“The military responded with aerial bombardments on terrorist positions,” he said, without giving further details.

– ‘Volleys of bullets’ –

In two other villages near the town of Monguno, meanwhile, gunmen killed 48 people and injured 11 others, local lawmaker Mohammed Tahir and witnesses told AFP.

“They selected particular male residents from among the crowd of worshippers… and opened fire on them before setting the two villages on fire and razing them to the ground,” Tahir said.

Another resident who managed to flee said the militants arrived in vans and on motorcycles.

“Many of us managed to escape amid volleys of bullets,” said the resident who asked not to be named for safety reasons.

Kukawa is around 50 kilometres (30 miles) away from the two villages near Monguno.

All three are located near Lake Chad, which straddles Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon and has been a focal point of the unrest.

Boko Haram had captured scores of towns and villages in the northeast last year, but has since been pushed back into hide-outs by a four-nation military offensive that kicked off in February.

Despite their territorial losses, the insurgents have kept up their deadly raids, explosions and suicide attacks on “soft” targets such as markets and mosques.

And the armed group has intensified its campaign of violence since Buhari came to power on May 29 vowing to crush the jihadists’ bloody uprising that has claimed at least 15,000 lives.

Since then, some 400 people have been killed in attacks blamed on the extremists, who have sworn allegiance to the Islamic State group, according to an AFP tally.

– Vice president tours northeast –

A new regional fighting force comprising 8,700 troops from Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Benin is due to deploy at the end of the month to try and put an end to the insurgency.

Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who has been touring the northeast for several days, on Thursday pledged that the new regime would do its utmost in the fight against Boko Haram and to help victims of the insurgency.

Speaking in Yola in Adamawa state, which borders Borno and had been overrun by the militants before they were cleared out, he said one of the government’s priorities there was to de-mine farmlands in areas recovered from Boko Haram.

The militants “plant land mines and other forms of explosives, making it difficult for people to resettle and that is the reason why it is absolutely important for us that the farmlands are swept clean of mines and explosives,” he was quoted as saying in a statement.

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