Highlights from Reuters coverage of Nigeria over the last seven days

Thursday’s attack on humanitarian workers in the northeast comes nine months after Islamic State’s West Africa branch executed a Red Cross aid worker

In this week’s round-up: abductions in the northeast and Gulf of Guinea, the central bank tries to force banks to lend, and French TV group Canal+ acquires Nollywood studio.

  • Nigeria’s security challenges have been in the headlines this week due to high profile attacks at opposite ends of the country. Ten Turkish sailors were taken hostage by armed pirates who attacked a Turkish-flagged cargo ship off the coast of Nigeria. Turkey’s foreign ministry said the sailors were seized on Saturday evening. After the pirates left the ship it was taken to Ghana’s Tema port, and Ghanaian and Nigerian authorities are working on returning the captured sailors, the ministry said. Shipping company Kadioglu Denizcilik said its ship, the Paksoy-1, was attacked in the Gulf of Guinea as it sailed from Cameroon to Ivory Coast without freight. Kidnappings and piracy for ransom in Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea are common.
  • Nigeria’s central bank barred banks from buying bills for their own accounts at an open market auction held on Thursday, a move intended to force them to lend rather than invest in government debt, traders said. The bank is stepping up a campaign to get credit flowing. Last week, it limited the size of interest-bearing deposits it would hold for banks, the latest in a series of measures aimed at reviving a sluggish economy. The central bank, which had not issued market stabilisation bills for about a week before Thursday’s auction, told banks bids must be backed by customer demand. In the past, banks have bought government debt rather than assume risk by lending. It was unclear if the order applied to Thursday’s auction only. Banks can still purchase bills on the secondary market, traders said.
  • French pay-TV group Canal+ has acquired African film and television studio ROK, marking the first international acquisition in Nigeria’s film industry, popularly known as Nollywood. Lagos-based ROK, which announced the deal on Monday, owns a large library of films and animation series in Nigeria and produces movies and TV series for distribution platforms. Nollywood is one of the world’s biggest film production hubs and Canal+, owned by Vivendi, aims to expand in Africa as stiff competition from streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon has caused the group to lose subscribers in France. Under the deal, Canal+ acquired ROK’s production, content distribution and publishing channels, from IROKO Ltd, Africa’s digital content distributor for Nigerian films. ROK founder Mary Njoku will continue as general director of ROK Productions. ROK will produce Nollywood content for Canal+ group’s French-speaking African audience, to be distributed via IROKO’s subscription video on-demand app. Last year, Vivendi said that Canal+ aimed to add 1.5 million African subscribers by 2020 to bring the total to about 5 million, up from 1 million five years ago.

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