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Nigeria’s UN Boss in Trouble over Illicit $300m Timber Export



Amina Mohammed, UN deputy secretary-general

Amina Mohammed, UN deputy secretary-general is facing accusations from an advocacy group that she granted illegal permits to Chinese firms to import endangered Nigerian timber when she was Nigeria’s environment minister.


Documents provided by Mohammed were used by Chinese importers to clear more than $300m worth of rosewood logs held up by Chinese border authorities for months, according to the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), a Washington-based environmental campaigning organisation.


The EIA said its investigation had found that Nigerian officials were paid over $1m to help the importers release the rosewood, which was put on a list of endangered species last year by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).


In January, Mohammed allegedly signed thousands of retroactive CITES permits allowing the export of 1.4 million rosewood logs in one of her last acts as environment minister before she was sworn in as deputy secretary-general in late February.


Farhan Haq said Mohammed, UN spokesperson “categorically rejects any allegations of fraud.”


The signing of the permits for the rosewood exports was delayed after Mohammed insisted “that stringent due process was followed,” said Haq.


“She says that she signed the export certificates requested before the ban only after due process was followed and better security watermarked certificates became available,” he added.


Mohammed, the highest-ranking woman at the United Nations, served as environment minister from November 2015 to February of this year and had previously lead the UN’s efforts to agree on a new global anti-poverty agenda.


Foreign Policy magazine quoted a senior Nigerian forestry official, who asked not to be named and who said that Mohammed had signed 2 992 export certificates on January 16.


Mohammed had been due to begin her new post at the United Nations on January 1, joining Antonio Guterres as he began his term as UN chief.


But she delayed her move to New York to stay on as environment minister at the request of Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and was finally sworn in as deputy secretary-general in late February.


The UN spokesperson said Guterres has been informed of the reports and “reiterates his full support and confidence in her.”


Exploding Chinese demand for African rosewood, also known as “kosso”, has depleted forests across West Africa, prompting CITES to impose strict restrictions last year.


According to EIA, Nigeria since 2013 has become the world’s largest exporter of rosewood logs, which are mainly used for luxury furniture.


CITES is scheduled to discuss the Nigerian rosewood exports to China at a meeting later this month in Geneva.

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Lack of Funds Grounds TRACON, Raises Safety Concerns over Air Travels



Total Radar Coverage (TRACON), may collapse due to lack of spare parts raising questions over the safety of air travels in Nigeria.


TRACON is a project conceived to improve the level of air safety with expeditious and efficient control of aircraft within the Nigerian airspace.


Capt. Folayele Akinkuotu, managing director, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), said that the 64 million Euros airspace surveillance system, may collapse due to lack of spare parts.


Akinkuotu, however, stated that the radar has remained functional, thanks to the ingenuity of NAMA engineers who have kept it working, stressing that the contractors for the multibillion naira project, Thales, a French firm, had reneged in supplying spares for the life-saving equipment.


NAMA wants the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency, assist the Agency to upgrade and modernise the Total Radar Coverage of Nigeria for a safe and efficient air transport in the country.


The contract for TRACON was awarded in 2003 by President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration at the sum of 67 million Euros to Thales ATM GmbH, a French company.


Even though the project was commissioned in 2012 with fanfare, aviation experts familiar with TRACON have described as fraudulent how the project was conceived and executed.


Akinkuotu said the agency needs mobile towers for safe air navigation as the two currently in use were inadequate to cater for the 21 airports managed by government and other private airports requiring their services.


He noted that Benin and Calabar airports were in dire need of Instrument Landing System (ILS) as the routes into these airports were difficult ones, especially during the rainy and harmattan seasons.


The NAMA boss, however, noted that despite these challenges, the agency had been able to address the radio communication system with the optimization of the Very High Frequency (VHF) radio for Upper Airways communication between the pilots and air traffic controllers, installation of Distance Measuring Equipment (DME), ILS in 12 locations and a Category III ILS in Lagos and Abuja, among others.


According to him, efforts are on to ensure that its personnel were given the requisite trainings to improve their knowledge and keep them abreast of new technology to facilitate seamless air navigation in Nigeria.


Akinkuotu said that before the end of the year, the ILS III would be installed in Lagos and Kano airports once funds were granted to the agency by the Ministry of Transportation.


He said early in 2017, there were complaints of shortcomings in the performance of Communication, Navigation, Surveillance and Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM) facilities on assumption of duty as management team in NAMA.


“There was desire for urgent improvement by our customers. Also, request for staff training and improvement in the welfare of the workforce was in the forefront of the welcome address delivered by the labour unions within the agency.


“Our approach was to identify and apply measures in the short, medium and long terms to respond to these issues. I can report today that some of the measures implemented are already yielding positive results,” Akinkuotu said.


According to him, a notable short-term measures implemented to address radio communication challenge was optimisation of the Very High Frequency (VHF) radio for Upper Airways communication between Air Traffic Controllers and pilots, which recorded a significant success.


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Kaspersky Lab’s Report Reveals Children’s Online Activities in Nigeria



Kaspersky Lab has revealed the online activities of children across Nigeria, based on statistics from the company’s Parental Control modules. The research has revealed what children in the region watched, listened to, purchased and searched for online.

The report shows anonymised statistics on websites visited from Windows PCs and Macs, and search activity on Windows PCs, Macs, Android and iOS devices. The stats were taken from Kaspersky Lab’s flagship products that have the Parental Control module switched on, and from Kaspersky Safe Kids, a standalone service installed for kids’ online protection.

Globally, children were more likely to watch video content and listen to music, than spend time on social media, however this was not true for children in Nigeria, who were most active across internet communication media (referred to as social media/networks) in the region at 35% with the most popular being Facebook, Google Mail, Twitter, WhatsApp and Instagram.

This was then followed by video content and music at 29%. The research revealed that children spent more time on YouTube– in particular, showing an increased interest in Netflix and for movies and series.

Children in the region also began to visit news sites more frequently, including, accounting for 20% of activities. Electronic commerce was also among top four categories as well:  7% of children showed their interest in exploring online stores for clothes and mobile devices. With regards to online stores, children in Nigeria visited Amazon the most.

It should be noted that alongside computer games (just under 1%), similar statistics where noted for children in Nigeria who also searched for adult-content web-sites. However, if their parents had blocked such sites, then the children’s attempts to visit these sites were unsuccessful.

“The statistics we have obtained indicate the interests of children and teens in the region today. This is why we recommend using parental control products not only to block potentially dangerous content, but also to help parents stay informed about their children’s interests and passions. Many software programs, including those from Kaspersky Lab, allow parents to see reports about their children’s online activities.

“Naturally, reports like this do not disclose any private information. In our opinion, the parents’ knowledge of what their children do online should promote better family relationships, helping to encourage open dialogue and preventing more serious threats to children in the region,” Riaan Badenhorst, General Manager for Kaspersky Lab Africa.

The Kaspersky Total Security and Kaspersky Internet Security consumer solutions include a Parental Control module to help adults protect their children against online threats and block sites or apps containing inappropriate content.

In turn, the Kaspersky Safe Kids solution allows parents to monitor what their children do, see, or search for, online across all devices, including mobile devices, and offers useful advice on how to help children behave safely online.

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Andela Taps David-Ashiru as Nigeria’s Country Director



Andela, a company that builds high-performing engineering teams by investing in Africa’s most talented software developers, has appointed Omowale David-Ashiru as its Nigeria Country Director.


As Country Director, Omowale will be responsible for leading Andela Nigeria, a rapidly growing team of 500+ people, and ensuring that the organization continues to advance its objectives of developing Africa’s future technology leaders.


Before joining Andela, Omowale’s professional experience spanned almost two decades in management consulting and entrepreneurship. During her eleven years at Accenture, she grew to become a seasoned Management Consultant and Certified Project Manager.


Omowale then transitioned into entrepreneurship, launching a fashion retail company, which she managed for eight years.


Her experience managing complex projects for global technology and financial services companies, combined with her entrepreneurial mindset, makes Omowale the right leader for Andela Nigeria.


“Everything I’ve done before now feels like a preparation for this role,” says Omowale, “and I’m excited to join this wonderful team of highly motivated individuals who are investing their skills and effort into advancing opportunity and potential in Nigeria and the continent at large.”


Seni Sulyman, Andela’s Vice President of Global Operations and previous Country Director, Nigeria, shared his excitement about Nigeria’s new Country Director: “Omowale has the right mix of relevant experiences in leadership, management and entrepreneurship to lead the next phase of Andela Nigeria’s growth,” he said, “and I’m particularly excited because she shares the same values and aspirations as Andelans.”


He continued, “Andela Nigeria, our first office in Africa, is rapidly growing, and I have complete confidence in Omowale’s ability to lead the team as we continue to scale.”


Omowale obtained a First Class B.Sc. in Economics from the University of Ibadan. In her own words, she has a deep passion for people, is an avid reader and loves adventure. Omowale joined Andela on September 3rd, 2018.



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