A Week in Nigeria: 2 February

In this week’s round-up: Nigeria rejects foreign “meddling” over suspended judge, Boko Haram kills at least 60 in Rann and rising insecurity threatens election.

An uptick in attacks by Islamist militants in northeast Nigeria poses a threat to the presidential election

“I want to vote. We have to live here, so hopefully we can vote here,” said one person who had lost his voting card. “Where we don’t have security or peace, voting won’t prevail,” said an electoral commission official in Borno, the state worst hit by the decade-long Islamist insurgency in the region.

  • Underscoring the concerns about rising insecurity in northeast Nigeria, Amnesty International and security sources said Boko Haram killed at least 60 people in the town of Rann on Monday, a day after it was abandoned by the military. The attack on Rann, home to a camp housing tens of thousands of people displaced by the Islamist insurgency, was one of the group’s bloodiest. The army denied claims that troops had left the town and that Boko Haram had killed the people. It came two weeks after Boko Haram had overrun the same town, driving out Nigerian soldiers and signalling its re-emergence as a force capable of capturing army bases. The two attacks have driven some 40,000 people to flee, 30,000 of them into nearby Cameroon, according to aid agencies.
  • A week after President Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo were grilled for two hours in a live televised interview ahead of this month’s election, it was the turn of the main opposition candidate Atiku Abubakar and his running mate Peter Obi.
  • During the interview, Atiku said he would consider an amnesty for corruption suspects in order to help return billions of dollars stashed abroad to the country. The presidential candidate and Obi were repeatedly challenged on their track records regarding corruption, and about investing government funds in private businesses, some of which they owned shares in, while in public office. Both candidates denied any corruption allegations.
  • Atiku, whose campaign has focused on his vows to boost economic growth and improve the business environment, said he would create a $25 billion fund to support private sector investment in infrastructure if he won the election. “Our vision is to accelerate investment to double our infrastructure stock to approximately 50 percent of GDP by 2025 and 70 percent by 2030,” he said in a statement.

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Nigeria bureau chief for Reuters. Ghanaian family, British accent. Ex-BBC, before that newspapers.

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