Despite a curfew, gunmen suspected to be Fulani herders again attacked Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau, killing five persons. The Plateau state government had imposed a curfew on Jos North, Jos South and Bassa LGAs over the weekend. The assailants attacked Tafi-Gana village on Tuesday night where they killed their victims while asleep. In another attack in Dong village, the gunmen killed a resident, a leader of the community, Danjuma Auta told Thisday. The National President of the Irigwe Development Association, Mr Ezekiel Bini confirmed the killings on Wednesday adding that the whereabouts of four other persons have remained unknown after the attack. The association represents the interest of the Irigwe people who primarily live in Bassa LGA. Bini said, “Yes, it is true that five persons have been killed in a fresh attack on us; we are now on our way to meet the governor over the continued killings in our communities of Bassa, despite the curfew by the state government. They were killed right in their homes. Their corpses have just been deposited at the mortuary. Aside from the five persons, four others have been missing.” The Military Information Officer of the Special Task Force (STF), Major Ishaku Takwa, could not be reached to respond to the recent killings.

The FG’s total borrowing from the Central Bank of Nigeria through ‘ways and means advances’ has ballooned to ₦15.51 trillion, rising by 2,286 per cent in six years, new CBN data shows. The ₦15.51 trillion owed by Abuja to the central bank is not part of the country’s total public debt stock – a number which comprises federal and subnational debt as well as that of the Federal Capital Territory – which stood at ₦33.11 trillion as of March 2021, according to the Debt Management Office. Ways and means advances is a loan facility used by the central bank to finance the government in periods of temporary budget shortfalls subject to limits imposed by law. According to Section 38 of the CBN Act 2007, the bank may grant temporary advances to the FG in respect of temporary deficiency of budget revenue at such rate of interest as the bank may determine. The Act says, “The total amount of such advances outstanding shall not at any time exceed five per cent of the previous year’s actual revenue of the FG.” In the first six months of this year, the FG borrowed ₦2.4 trillion from the CBN, more than half of what it got in the whole of last year. The ₦2.4 trillion is also much higher than five per cent of the FG’s retained revenue of ₦3.9 trillion in the previous year. As of June 2015, a month after the President Muhammadu Buhari came into power, the total government borrowing from the apex bank stood at ₦648.26 billion. The CBN data show that it jumped from ₦856.33 billion in December 2015 to ₦2.23 trillion in December 2016. The total borrowing from the bank grew by ₦1.08 trillion in 2017 to ₦3.31 trillion. It rose further by ₦2.1 trillion in 2018 to ₦5.41 trillion. The FG’s borrowing from the CBN surged by 61.18 per cent (₦3.31 trillion) to ₦8.72 trillion at the end of 2019. Last year, the government turned to the apex bank for a record ₦4.9 trillion to plug its fiscal financing gap, bringing its total borrowing to ₦13.11 trillion as of December 2020.  In February, the International Monetary Fund said Nigeria’s monetary policy operational framework should be reformed in the medium term, adding that the central bank financing of the budget deficit should be phased out in order to reduce inflation. “The increasing reliance on CBN overdrafts has come with negative consequences. The financing is costly for the FG at interest rates of MPR plus 300 basis points, and for the CBN, with sterilisation done through issuance of OMO bills,” it said. The IMF added that a complete removal of central bank financing of fiscal deficits would require higher domestic revenue mobilisation. In a letter of intent to the IMF, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, and the CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, said the recourse to central bank financing would be eliminated by 2025. They added that the existing stock of overdrafts held at the CBN would also be securitised.

45 Nigerian soldiers who were court-martialed and jailed seven years ago for demanding adequate weaponry to aid the fight against the North-East insurgency have been released. The soldiers were convicted and jailed at Ikoyi Correctional Centre and the Kirikiri Medium Correctional Centre, Apapa, Lagos. Initially, the soldiers were charged with mutiny and sentenced to death but their sentences were commuted to 10 years jail term after the case was reviewed. The soldiers were released to the waiting arms of their families before they were conveyed in a bus belonging to the Baptist Convention, branded “Plenty – Move Faster”, to the chambers of Femi Falana. According to Falana, who represented them during the military court-martial, “the only allegation proved against them at the court-martial was that they protested the refusal of the military authorities to provide weapons to fight insurgency. “Unlike many soldiers who deserted the army, the convicts were ready to defend the territorial integrity of the country. They only made a legitimate demand for equipment to fight the insurgents who were better equipped and motivated. “The second batch of convicts actually fought and defeated the Boko Haram troops at Delwa in Borno State when weapons were eventually made available to them. “But for having the temerity to demand for weapons they were convicted and sentenced to death.” Thisday quoted unnamed “reliable sources” as saying that the soldiers would be taken to Defence Headquarters in Abuja to meet with both the Chief of Defence Staff and the Chief of Army Staff. Also, the soldiers have been scheduled for rehabilitation in Eket, Akwa Ibom by an NGO to ease their reintegration into the society. According to the paper, 20 of the 54 inmates were interned at the Ikoyi Correctional Centre and four pursued degrees at the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN).

Dozens of people were killed in a clash between Islamist militants and government forces in northern Burkina Faso on Wednesday as violence spirals anew in West Africa’s Sahel region. In an attack near the northern town of Arbinda, militants killed at least 47 people, including 30 civilians, 14 soldiers and three pro-government militiamen, state media reported. State media reported that government troops killed 16 militants while a security source put the number at 58. Militants linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State regularly carry out attacks in Burkina Faso and neighbouring Mali and Niger, killing hundreds of civilians this year alone. Violence in the Sahel, a semi-arid band beneath the Sahara Desert, has continued to intensify despite the presence of thousands of U.N., regional and Western troops and efforts by some governments to negotiate with the militants. Armed men killed at least 12 soldiers last week in northwestern Burkina Faso as well as 30 civilians, soldiers and pro-government militiamen days before that. In Niger, armed men on Monday killed 37 civilians, including 14 children, in an attack on a village. The violence comes as former colonial power France prepares to begin drawing down its forces in the Sahel from 5,000 to about 2,500-3,000. The Sahel was thrown into chaos by the takeover in 2012 of northern Mali by militants linked to al Qaeda. France intervened the following year to push them back. But they have regrouped and expanded their operations, and they now threaten coastal West African countries like Benin and Ivory Coast.