The seven COVID-19 deaths recorded last week represents Nigeria’s lowest death toll in five months. According to data sourced from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the last time Nigeria saw a similar number of weekly deaths was the nine deaths recorded between 12 and 18 April. 12 persons died from the virus in the week preceding the record week (20-26 September) while 16 deaths were recorded in the penultimate week (13-19 September). The record week marked the 40th week since Nigeria reported its first COVID-19 case, a week that saw a total of 1,089 new infections, 1,053 new cases in the previous week (September 20 – 26). NCDC data from the week also showed that 28,727 samples were tested, up from 25,929 samples the previous week. Additionally, 996 people recovered and were discharged last week, down from 1,175 recoveries the previous week. So far, Nigeria has tested 535,733 samples, of which 59,287 cases have been confirmed, along with 1,113 deaths and 50,718 recoveries. There are 7,456 active cases in Nigeria.

Nigeria’s Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, has expressed ‘anger’ at the activities of police officers who harass, assault and sometimes kill innocent Nigerians. Mr Osinbajo stated this Sunday when questioned by journalists in Abuja, according to his spokesperson, Laolu Akande, in a statement. “I am very concerned, in fact, very angry about what I see, happening to young men and women who are arrested, in some cases maimed or killed by men of the police force,” Mr Osinbajo was quoted as saying. Mr Osinbajo’s reaction came hours after the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, banned some police units, including the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS), the Special Tactical Squad (STS) and Intelligence Response Team (IRT) from undertaking routine patrols as well as stop and search duties following withering public criticism of their activities. In his statement Sunday, Mr Osinbajo vowed that culpable police officers will be punished and prosecuted.

Nigeria plans to bar vessels without a valid licence to operate in Nigerian waters and has given shipping companies that trade in its coastal and inland waters three months to register, the maritime regulator said on Sunday. The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) said it will notify international oil companies to bar vessels without valid certificates after the three months expire. Most of the vessels that use Nigerian waters are owned by foreign companies. They mostly transport crude oil for international oil companies. The regulator said the new regime would also apply to vessels whose licences have already expired. The government is pushing to boost revenue and increase its foreign exchange earnings after the new coronavirus pandemic triggered a collapse in the price of oil, Nigeria’s main export. Levies — import duties and shipping charges including taxes — are big revenue earners for Nigeria, which relies on international trade, especially oil exports.

Malian authorities have released 180 Islamic extremists from a prison in the capital and flown them to the country’s north, an official confirmed late Sunday, fuelling speculation that a prominent opposition politician held by jihadists could soon be freed after more than six months in captivity. The militants who abducted Soumaila Cisse back in late March were believed to be seeking a prisoner exchange with the Malian government. Some 70 men were released on Saturday and another 110 on Sunday, according to an official who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter. There was no immediate comment late Sunday from Mali’s transitional government, which was only recently put in place more than a month after the country’s democratically elected president was ousted in a military coup. Cisse, a 70-year-old who has run for Mali’s presidency three times, was campaigning ahead of legislative elections not far from Timbuktu at the time of his abduction. His bodyguard was killed in the attack, and the only proof of life has been a handwritten letter delivered back in August. Government efforts to negotiate his release were thrown into upheaval after the coup that forced President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita from power, though it did not appear progress was being made toward Cisse’s release. Islamic militants are active throughout northern and central Mali, though typically launch attacks on the Malian military and U.N. peacekeepers. A 2013 French-led military operation dispersed the jihadists, who then regrouped and have expanded their reach in the years since.