News Highlights for December

ICON publishes this weekly news bulletin to share brief updates and links on the conflict and increasing violence in Nigeria.

This is our monthly news summary that ICON distributes weekly via our email list.

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Nigerian Christians Putting on a Holiday Face Despite Continuing Terrorist Assaults
By Douglas Burton
As Christmas arrived in Nigeria’s troubled northern states, believers counted their losses and their blessings in 2022. Christians in Makurdi, the capital of Benue state, are celebrating Christmas despite recent financial reversals, according to Rev. Michael Burton, an American missionary in the city. “People are excited about Christmas, partly because nearly all employees get a full week of paid vacation,” Burton told The Epoch Times. Farmers in the northern county of Guma have suffered nearly incessant attacks since 2018 according to media reports. In October and early November, scores of rural dwellers were slaughtered during night-time raids by Muslim mercenaries striking from across the border in neighboring Nasarawa and Taraba states. “People aren’t putting up house ornaments unless they have purchased them in previous years, but almost every night groups of carolers are going from door to door singing songs of the season,” Burton said. “The congregation of more than 500 adults, children, and senior citizens of the community gathered to sing songs to celebrate Christmas despite the recent losses of loved ones by raids of Fulani militants,” according to community leader and Epoch Times reporter Lawrence Zongo. “No fewer than 32 communities were displaced by terrorists in 2022,” Zongo said. “Some residents have returned but most communities in the village network surrounding Miango area have not returned to their homes,” he added. “Between January and September of 2022 alone, 69 women became widows as a result of the Fulani herdsmen attacks.”………….READ MORE

Buhari Condemns ‘Senseless’ Killing, Says Justice Must Be Done
By Ignatius Igwe 
ABUJA – President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday condemned the “heinous and senseless” killing of a Lagos-based lawyer, Bolanle Raheem, by a trigger-happy Assistant Superintendent of Police, Drambi Vandi. Raheem was shot dead on Christmas Day by Vandi who was attached to Ajiwe Police Station in Ajah. The cop and his team were said to have tried to stop Raheem and her family members as they drove back home from a church service. Raheem was shot when the car she was in tried to make a U-turn under the Ajah Bridge. The victim was rushed to a hospital but was confirmed dead. The President in a statement by his media aide, Garba Shehu, assured the late lawyer’s family and the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) that justice must be done in the case. “In this hour of grief, the nation stands in solidarity with the bereaved family and the NBA. I assure you that justice will be done in this case,” the President was quoted as saying. Buhari said he was deeply shocked and saddened to learn of the brutal killing and directed the police authorities to take “the strongest possible action” against the culprit already held in detention…………..READ MORE

37 Victims Of Kaura, Kaduna Attack Buried Amidst Tears
KADUNA — It was a sad day in Malagum and Sokwong communities, Kaura Local Government Area of Kaduna State, on Friday as hundreds of villagers gathered to bury victims of an attack in the area earlier in the week. They were killed on Sunday by a suspected militia group. The arrival of the truck carrying the victim’s caskets triggered an outpour of emotions as relatives and friends wept helplessly. Children, aged men, and women as well as youth, were among those whose lives were cut off in their prime by the attackers. Hundreds of people who gathered for the funeral service including relations, religious leaders, and politicians called on the government and security agencies to stop the attacks before they are completely wiped out……………WATCH

One Killed, 45 Others Abducted in Kaduna Community on Christmas Day
By Amos Tauna
One person was killed and no fewer than 45 others were abducted in Angwan Aku, Kajuru Local Government Area of Kaduna State by bandits on Christmas Day. According to a source, the incident took place when the victims were getting ready to attend church service in celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. He explained: “The bandits came to the community in their hundreds on motorcycles and parked their motorbikes along the road before invading the villages, shooting indiscriminately.” The bandits, according to the source, went from house to house picking their victims and went away with 53 but seven people escaped and one was killed at the end of their operation. The source said that at the moment 45 of the villagers are in captivity, stressing that the bandits struck at about 10 am on Sunday, Christmas Day when Christians were getting set for church services…………READ MORE


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Terrorists Kill 28 In Fresh Southern Kaduna Attack
By Beinmo C Livinus
About 28 people have been killed after terrorists attacked Malagum 1 and Sokwong communities of Kagoro Chiefdom in Kaura Local Government Area of Southern Kaduna State. Information gathered revealed thata the attack occurred on Sunday night, December 18, 2022, barely five days after the killing of three persons in Malagum 1.  The Council Chairman, Hon. Mathias Siman, who confirmed the incident to the Punch on Monday December 19, said he could only confirm seven people gruesomely killed in Sokwong Community. According to him, all the houses in Sokwong Community had been completely razed down by the terrorists, adding that he is yet to confirm the killings in Malagum one. Mathias urged residents in the area to remain calm as security agencies were being deployed to carry out investigation in the area. Meanwhile, the Speaker of Kaura Local Government Area, Hon. Atuk Stephen,  said over 22 people had been confirmed killed in Malagum 1, while eight were said to have been killed in Sokwong. Atuk described the killings as deadly while calling on the Federal Government and security agencies to redouble their efforts in order to curtail renewed killings in the area. “Attacks in our area have been consistent and multi dimensional with efforts of the security operatives and government not seen or felt,” he added…………..READ MORE


WASHINGTON — Religious freedom activists, including a woman who was once sentenced to death for apostasy in Sudan, demonstrated against what they say is genocidal violence taking place in Nigeria as the leader of the African nation spoke at an event Friday. A small group of activists held a protest outside the U.S. Institute of Peace as Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari delivered remarks at an event titled “A Conversation with Buhari.”  Buhari’s trip to Washington, which also included an appearance at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit hosted by the U.S. State Department, comes on the heels of a Dec. 7 Reuters report alleging that the Nigerian military has conducted a secret forced-abortion campaign in its fight against radical extremist groups since 2013. Less than a week later, Reuters reported that the Nigerian government denied the allegations of wrongdoing. Stephen Enada of the International Committee on Nigeria, whose cousin was killed by Fulani in Benue state, offered similar concerns. He insists that “the U.S. government is playing the ostrich game” by welcoming a leader who has overseen “the genocide of his own people.” He characterized the decision to allow Buhari to “come and talk” as “reprehensible.”…….READ MORE


Many Killed As Nigerian Army, Terrorists Battle In Zamfara, Insurgents Burn Three Military Vehicles
The clash occurred while the army personnel were responding to citizens’ distress calls following a terrorists’ attack on Malele community within Mutumji area of Maru Local Government Area, according to Channels TV. Some terrorists and personnel of the Nigerian Army were reportedly killed following an ambush by the armed terrorists on Sunday in Zamfara State. The clash occurred while the army personnel were responding to citizens’ distress calls following a terrorists’ attack on Malele community within Mutumji area of Maru Local Government Area, according to Channels TV. Sources from the military who spoke under anonymity said on Monday that the troops fought gallantly to repel the ambush, gun duel but it led to the death of numerous terrorists and some men of the Nigerian Army The terrorists also burnt the three army’s armoured vehicles. Residents of the attacked settlements claim that bandits from several camps in Zamfara, Katsina, Niger, and Kaduna States gathered to assault Malele, Ruwan Tofa, Zaman Lafiya, and other nearby areas under Dansadau Emirate because the communities refused to engage the bandits in conversation…………READ MORE

‘Anti-Democratic Forces’ May Sabotage 2023 Elections
By Channels Television
Human rights lawyer Femi Falana has called on security agencies to apprehend those he claimed are “anti-democratic forces” bent on truncating the 2023 elections. Falana raised the alarm on Monday and based his argument on the series of attacks on the facilities of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), bandits’ mayhem, and the activities of some political actors in the country among others. “In spite of the fact that the facilities are said to be well guarded, the criminal elements involved in the nefarious activities generally operate without any challenge from security forces. If the dangerous trend continues on a larger scale, INEC will not be in a position to conduct elections in the affected areas. It is, therefore, curious to note that the few suspected arsonists have not been charged before any court,” he said in a statement sent to Channels Television. “The state of insecurity in Nigeria has also constituted a serious threat to the conduct of credible elections. It has been confirmed that elections cannot take place in the over 40 local government areas in different parts of the country which are firmly under the control of various armed gangs, including bandits, terrorists, and known and unknown gunmen. The territories seized by the criminal gangs are in Borno, Kaduna Katsina, Niger, Sokoto, Zamfara, Abia, and Imo States.” “Unless the security forces are prepared to deal with the anti-democratic forces that are currently disrupting the democratic process, the 2023 general elections may be sabotaged to the detriment of democracy and political stability in the country,” the lawyer added………. READ MORE


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Gunmen Bomb Imo INEC Headquarters
By Chris Njoku
Heavily armed hoodlums on Monday bombed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) headquarters along Owerri Port Harcourt road in Imo State, killing two policemen.
The gunmen threw grenades through the commission’s fence, destroying several offices and vehicles parked within the premises. However, the police stationed at the INEC office engaged the gunmen in a heavy shootout, leaving three of the gunmen wearing charms and Biafra camouflages dead. It was gathered that some of the policemen were critically wounded while several of the hoodlums sustained multiple bullet injuries before they fled towards Onitsha road. But police reports said the gunmen killed one policeman and injured one in the gun duel that lasted for an hour and kept the residents of Owerri, the state capital awake throughout the night. NEC public relations officer, Dr. Chinenye Chijioke-Osuji confirmed the attack to The Nation. INEC Head of Department, Voter Education and Publicity (VEP), Mrs. Emmanuella Opara, said some parts of INEC State office like the EPM(Election and Political Party Monitoring and Liason) building were completely burnt while the Accounts and Servicom depts were also torched…………….READ MORE

BREAKING: Defence Headquarters on Fire
By Adeola Bodunrin
A fire incident occurred on the second floor of the Defence Headquarters, Garki, Abuja on Monday afternoon. A statement by the Director, Defence Information, Major-General Jimmy Akpor, obtained by POLITICS NIGERIA, confirmed the development. “The incident has been brought under control with the combined effort of the military and Federal Fire Service personnel and resources. All personnel and civilian staff were also evacuated without injury or loss of life. “Accordingly, normalcy has returned. Investigation to determine the cause of the fire incident has commenced immediately. “We thank the Federal Fire Service and the entire public for the continued support and goodwill to the Armed Forces of Nigeria,” a statement by the Defence Headquarters reads……………READ MORE

Why I Deleted Tweets Condemning Deborah Samuel’s Murder for Blasphemy – Atiku
By Ripples Media
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, on Sunday explained why he deleted the tweet condemning the murder of a second-year student of Shehu Shagari College of Education in Sokoto. Deborah Samuel. Deborah was lynched by a mob for alleged blasphemy in May. The former Vice President who condemned the heinous act on his Twitter handles later deleted the post to the chagrin of Nigerians. Abubakar’s decision generated reactions from Nigerians on social media with many berating him for exhibiting double-standard on the matter. Efforts by the PDP candidate to placate Nigerians on the matter had however fallen on deaf ears. Abubakar, who spoke at Channels Television’s town hall meeting in Abuja, said the removal of the tweet was not approved by him. The former Vice President insisted that he condemned the unlawful killing in his subsequent reactions. He said: “I have been asked this question several times, and the answer I always give is, I deleted the tweet because I didn’t approve it. I normally approve of every tweet. So I asked the tweet to be deleted because I didn’t approve it………..READ MORE

Debt Servicing to Gulp 123% of 2023 Revenue
By  Sami Tunji
The World Bank has projected that debt servicing will gulp 123.4 percent of the Federal Government’s revenue in 2023. This was according to a presentation made by the new World Bank Lead Economist for Nigeria, Alex Sienaert, in November 2022, which was obtained by our correspondent. The document was entitled, ‘Nigeria Public Finance Review: Fiscal Adjustment for Better and Sustainable Development Results.’ The document projected that debt servicing would gulp 100.2 percent of Federal Government revenue by the end of 2022. This was a decline from the earlier projection in its October Africa’s Pulse report, which is a biannual analysis of the near-term macroeconomic outlook for the region, published during the World Bank/IMF Spring and Annual Meetings in April and October. In Africa’s Pulse report, the Washington-based bank said that Nigeria’s debt service to revenue ratio could stand at 102.3 percent by the end of 2022. It described the public debt in Nigeria as concerning due to the rising debt service-to-revenue ratio. This was a decline from the earlier projection in its October Africa’s Pulse report, which is a biannual analysis of the near-term macroeconomic outlook for the region, published during the World Bank/IMF Spring and Annual Meetings in April and October. In Africa’s Pulse report, the Washington-based bank said that Nigeria’s debt service to revenue ratio could stand at 102.3 percent by the end of 2022. It described the public debt in Nigeria as concerning due to the rising debt service-to-revenue ratio. However, the situation would be dire in 2023 as debt survival would exceed 118 percent of revenue reported in the first four months of 2022. In his presentation document, the World Bank’s lead economist for Nigeria noted that borrowing more money was not the solution for Nigeria. The document read, “Borrowing more is not the solution: debt costs are rising rapidly, squeezing non-interest spending………. READ MORE


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Terrorists Kidnap 46 Students, Others In Buhari’s Home-State, Katsina
By Richard Ogunsile 
Terrorists have reportedly abducted no fewer than forty-six persons from President Muhammadu Buhari’s home state, Katsina, over the weekend. The state command of the Nigeria Police Force has confirmed the incident, acknowledging that students are among the victims of the incident. The people were reportedly abducted in two separate communities. It was, however, unclear if the perpetrators were the same group. The incident, Naija News understands happened in the Batsari and Funtua local governments area of the state on Friday and Saturday, respectively. 28 people, according to reports, were abducted in the Karare village of Batsari LGA, while one person was killed in the attack recorded last Friday. The terrorists, numbering about 40, reportedly stormed the village in the early hour of the day riding on motorcycles. Some of the abductees were said to be students from Kokiya village heading to Government Day Secondary School, Karare. A resident told newsmen that the terrorists came from the southern part of the village and started shooting sporadically, leading to the death of one person. “They abducted 28 people, including students, but released four later. Those released include one Malam Ladan and three children. They sent them a message that they would not accept old naira notes for ransom. “Later, one other person escaped. So as we speak, there are 23 people currently with the bandits, but they did not make any ransom demand,” the resident who spoke on anonymity said. Another source told Daily Trust that he went into a healthcare centre from where he jumped over a fence to escape abduction, adding that one person was confirmed dead. The second attack, Naija News learned, happened in a mosque in Maigamji village along Funtua – Dandume Road. The terrorists reportedly invaded the mosque and opened fire on worshippers during evening (isha’i) prayer. Residents of the village said the attack took place around 7:15 pm on Saturday……………READ MORE

Hoodlums Vandalise Office Of Electoral Body, INEC In Imo; Commission Laments 7th Attack On Facilities In Four Months
By Sahara Reporters
The recent attack comes barely three months before the conduct of the 2023 general elections. Nigeria’s electoral body, Independent National Electoral Commission has announced that its office in Oru West Local Government Area of Imo State was attacked early on Sunday. The recent attack comes barely three months before the conduct of the 2023 general elections. According to INEC, there have been seven attacks on its facilities in five states within the last four months. This was disclosed in a circular released on Sunday by Festus Okoye Esq, INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman of the commission’s Information and Voter Education Committee while announcing Sunday’s attack on its office in Imo. The statement reads: “The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Imo State, Professor Sylvia Uchenna Agu, has reported that our office in Oru West Local Government Area was attacked at about 4.00 am today Sunday 4th December 2022. “The attack affected the Conference Room where office furniture and fittings were destroyed. However, other critical facilities were not affected. “It would be recalled that on Thursday 1st December 2022, our office in Orlu Local Government Area of Imo State was also attacked. “Overall, this is the 7th attack on our facilities in five States of the Federation in the last four months. “Once again, the Commission expresses its concern on the consequences of what appears to be a systematic attack on its facilities across the country on the conduct of elections in particular and electoral activities in general…….. READ MORE

Benue: Police Intensify Search For Abducted Commissioner
By Tor Vande-Acka

MAKURDI BENUE STATE COMMAND OF THE NIGERIAN POLICE has intensified the search for the kidnapped State Commissioner for Housing and Urban Development, Chief Ekpe Ogbu. The search was initiated after the state Commissioner of Police, Wale Abass made an on-the-spot assessment at the scene of the incident on Monday.  In a statement signed and made available to Daily Independent in Makurdi on Monday, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Sewuese Anene noted that the police also cited a new route from the forest linking the highway that was probably used by the gunmen to abduct their victims. The discovery prompted the Commissioner of Police to order that henceforth, adequate security be placed on the identified road to forestall further occurrences. The statement partly read: “On 4/12/22 at about 1820hrs while police officers were on patrol, they sighted a vehicle parked by a forest area along Adankari village, Otukpo-Ado road. “Shortly after the vehicle was recovered, information was received that the Benue State Commissioner for Housing and Urban Development, Hon. Ekpe Ogbu who had traveled to Utonkon for burial was traveling back with three other persons through the same route and was no longer reachable.“Immediately, police teams were deployed in search of these victims………. READ MORE 

2023 Election: You Must Remain Neutral, Buhari Warns Army
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
AHEAD OF THE 2023 GENERAL ELECTIONS, President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Nigerian Armed Forces to remain apolitical and continue to operate within the framework of the constitution to ensure the successful conduct of the elections. President Buhari gave the directive in Sokoto, Monday, while declaring open the Chief of Army Staff’s Annual Conference 2022. He also urged the army to continue to improve their human rights obligations during operations in line with global best practices. The President pledged that the modernization drive of the Nigerian Armed Forces would be vigorously sustained, including the fast-track of activation of the Nigerian Army Aviation. On human rights, he described improved obligations by security agencies on this issue as ‘‘the major pathway for winning the hearts and minds of the people.’’ On the 2023 polls, President Buhari said it is imperative that the army and the armed forces, in general, support the civil authority by providing a peaceful environment to enable its successful conduct. He said, “We shall also continue to galvanize and encourage the public to support your efforts. I urge you to continue to improve your Human Rights obligations during your operations in line with global best practices. This is the major pathway for winning the hearts and minds of the people……………..READ MORE



Prospects for Peace in Nigeria – Sunday December 11

Nigerian Americans and friends of persecuted Christians will gather in Hyattsville, Maryland on December 11 to receive a Security Briefing on the one-sided terrorist conflict in Nigeria.







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