Nigeria is ready to reopen its land borders to trade for the first time in more than a year, the finance minister said on Wednesday. Africa’s largest economy closed its land borders in late 2019 in an effort to stamp out smuggling from neighbouring West African nations. Finance, Budget and National Planning Minister Zainab Ahmed told journalists that the president would determine the date of reopening. Ahmed said a presidential committee set up on the matter has completed its job and recommended the reopening of the borders. The minister did not disclose when the report will be submitted and how soon the land borders will be reopened. 

Following a year-long investigation led by Interpol, three members of a prolific cybergang with a confirmed victim count of about 50,000 organizations have been arrested recently in Lagos, Nigeria. The suspects are likely part of a larger organized group involved in business email compromise (BEC) attacks since at least 2017. Cybersecurity company Group-IB has been tracking the gang since 2019 and assisted the Interpol-led investigation, which received the code name Operation Falcon. The Nigerian Police Force apprehended the three suspects. Its cybercrime unit analyzing electronic devices belonging to the three suspects determined their involvement in cybercriminal activity and identified data stolen from at least 50,000 victims. The tally may be much higher, though, as Group-IB established that the TMT gang targeted around 500,000 organizations from the private and government sector in more than 150 countries. In an announcement on 25 November, the Interpol says that the three suspects “are alleged to have developed phishing links, domains, and mass mailing campaigns in which they impersonated representatives of organizations.” This enabled them to distribute to victims at least 26 different malicious programs. On the list is malware designed to steal information (AgentTesla, Azorult, Loki, Pony, ) and remote access tools like NanoCore, Remcos, and NetWire. These tools are commonly used by Nigerian threat actors specialized in BEC scams. They are either freely available or widely accessible on cybercriminal forums for low prices. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center received close to 24,000 complaints about these attacks last year, causing estimated losses of $1.7 billion.

The House of Representatives has announced its plan to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill by the end of the first quarter of 2021. The Ad Hoc Committee on PIB made this known in Abuja on Wednesday. The House had on Tuesday passed the bill for second reading. The Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamilia, had referred the bill to the committee for further legislative processes. Chief Whip of the House and Chairman of the committee, Mohammed Monguno, in his opening speech at the inaugural meeting of the panel on Wednesday, noted that the PIB when passed into law, would improve the clarity of structures, roles accountability, transparency, and overall efficiency and effectiveness of the institutions in the oil industry. The lawmaker stated that the committee would do its best by engaging various stakeholders, civil societies and the general public by subjecting the bill to detailed and public scrutiny. “We are confident that this piece of legislation will stand the test of time. In as much as we are eager to pass the bill, we will not circumvent the legislative process. It is our hope and belief that the bill will be passed by the end of the first quarter of the year 2021. “The committee has taken liberty to create a website, www.hrpib.org.ng, as one of the platforms where stakeholders and interested members of the general public can download the text of the bill and also upload comments/inputs/memoranda to same.The Chief Whip further said, “I am particularly alarmed that though the exploration of fossil fuel in Nigeria dates back to the 60s but commercial exploration may only last for another 25 years. It is not to say that we might exhaust the deposit, but that the entire world is focusing on research to develop, renewable energy that could turn out to be cheaper and environmentally friendlier. “That is why it has become expedient, more than ever to leverage on this window of opportunity that the oil exploration present to us as Nigerians, by ensuring that the Petroleum Industry Bill is passed without further delay.”

Burundi’s ex-president Pierre Buyoya said on Wednesday that he had quit as the African Union’s envoy to Mali to clear his name of alleged involvement with the murder of his successor. Buyoya resigned from his diplomatic position on Tuesday after being convicted in absentia in his native Burundi for the 1993 assassination of then-president Melchior Ndadaye. Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday in Mali’s capital Bamako, the 71-year-old said he had stepped down voluntarily. Buyoya served as the African Union’s envoy to troubled Mali and the Sahel region from 2012. “I considered it preferable to free myself from these responsibilities in order to have full freedom to defend myself and clear my name,” he told reporters. “I also said that this situation could hinder” the AU, he said. Buyoya, an ethnic Tutsi, first came to power in Burundi in a coup in 1987. He stepped down in 1993 in the former Belgian colony’s first democratic elections in which Ndadaye, a Hutu, beat him resoundingly. But hardline ethnic Tutsi soldiers killed Ndadaye just four months into the job. The murder plunged the East African nation into years of civil war between the majority Hutus and minority Tutsis that left an estimated 300,000 people dead by the time it ended in 2006. On 20 October, a court in Burundi’s capital Bujumbura handed down life sentences to Buyoya and 18 other defendants for their alleged roles in Ndadaye’s killing. Buyoya has rejected the verdict and dismissed the case against him as politically motivated.