Authorities in Kaduna have joined their counterparts in Katsina, Sokoto and Zamfara to shut down telecoms networks and banned the use of motorcycles. The development was announced Wednesday as part of a raft of measures to tackle banditry and other related atrocities carried out by criminal gangs that have caused havoc in the country’s northwest for months. Zamfara had already shut down its telecoms and several other northwestern states, a tactic aimed at helping the security forces crackdown on the gangs by preventing coordination. Bandits seeking ransoms and loot have been blamed by the authorities for a string of mass school abductions and deadly attacks on villages and on military targets that have disrupted everyday life for millions of citizens. According to a statement released by the Kaduna state government, “Too many lives have been lost, and too many families have been shattered. Small groups of wicked persons cannot continue to hold us to ransom, and force us to live in perpetual fear.” The armed gangs operate from remote camps and often travel on motorcycles in large numbers when carrying out a raid. The motorcycle ban would last for an initial three months, the state government said, as it added that all vehicles used for commercial transport would have to be painted yellow and black within 30 days to help security agents identify them. The sale of petrol in jerry cans was banned in parts of the state. The new rules were in addition to measures previously taken in Kaduna, including a ban on the transport of charcoal, firewood or livestock and a shutdown of markets in affected areas.

The federal executive council (FEC), presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, on Wednesday, approved 14-day paternity leave for civil servants. Folasade Yemi-Esan, head of the civil service of the federation, disclosed while briefing state house correspondents at the end of the weekly meeting. Yemi-Esan explained that paternity leave will allow fathers to properly bond with their newborn babies or adopted children. “We’ve gotten approval to include paternity leave. This is something that is new. And this is something that the unions in the service asked that we include, and luckily, we’ve been able to include it,” she said. “We’ve also been able to ensure that leave now is calculated based on working days, not on calendar days; that also has been approved. This is the first time that this has been approved — for men to form bonds at the early stages, especially at the early stages of a child’s life; that is when it’s very important for this bonding to take place.” The development comes months after the federal government approved paternity leave for staff of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA). Prior to the approval for NITDA staff in March 2021, there was no provision for paternity leave for civil servants, while female employees are entitled to three months of maternity leave. The house of representatives had, in 2018, rejected a bill seeking to grant paternity leave to married men. A few states in the country — including Lagos and Enugu — have approved paternity leave for employees.

Enugu Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has signed the anti-open grazing bill into law. The passage of the bill is in line with the decision of Nigeria’s 17 southern governors. The governor who signed the bill into law at the Government House, Enugu, Wednesday, joins other governors in Southern Nigeria who took the decision in response to the outcry by members of the public over the activities of armed herdsmen in several communities. The bill is for a law prohibiting open grazing, regulating cattle ranching, and for connected purposes. The bill was recently passed by the Enugu State House of Assembly. According to the Leader of the State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Ikechukwu Ezeugwu, the law would be cited as the “Prohibition of Open Grazing and Cattle Ranching Law of Enugu State,” after the governor’s assent. Gov. Ugwuanyi’s assent to the bill is expected to improve security and peace in the State. The development is coming after some other States in Southern Nigeria also passed the bill. At the last meeting of the governors in Lagos State, they had set a September deadline for the ban on open grazing. Before the meeting, Ondo State House of Assembly had passed the bill and Governor Rotimi Akeredolu who has been on the forefront immediately signed the bill into law. Rivers State House of Assembly also passed the bill mid-August, expressing certainty that it would put an end to the prolonged crisis emanating from the open rearing of cattle. The bill is still at different stages in the Delta, Cross River and Ekiti state legislatures. In some southeast states, including Abia and Ebonyi, the governments are claiming they already had similar laws in place. In the case of Imo, Governor Hope Uzodinma has made it clear the state is monitoring the development, even as he said herders and host communities in the state live harmoniously. The southern governors will continue their meeting in Enugu on Thursday and the various open grazing bans is expected to be a major topic of discussion.

President Kais Saied named a geologist with little government experience as Tunisia’s first woman prime minister on Wednesday amid a crisis following his seizure of powers and with public finances close to breaking point. He asked Najla Bouden Romdhane, a little-known professor of geophysics who implemented World Bank projects at the education ministry, to form a government as quickly as possible. The move prompted a surge in Tunisian bond prices. Elected in 2019, Saied has been under domestic and international pressure to name a government after he dismissed the prime minister, suspended parliament and assumed executive authority in July in moves his foes call a coup. Last week, he suspended most of the constitution, saying he could rule by decree during an “exceptional” period with no set ending, calling into question democratic gains after Tunisia’s 2011 revolution that triggered the Arab Spring protests. Speaking in an online video, Saied said Bouden’s appointment honoured Tunisian women and asked her to propose a cabinet in the coming hours or days “because we have lost a lot of time”. The new government should confront corruption and respond to the demands and dignity of Tunisians in all fields, including health, transport and education, he added. Women have only rarely held senior political roles in Arab countries. In Tunisia, Saied has also appointed a woman, Nadia Akacha, as chief of staff, his closest and most powerful aide. Bouden is likely to have less direct power than previous prime ministers under the 2014 constitution after Saied said last week that during the emergency period the government would be responsible to the president. Tunisia faces a looming crisis in public finances after years of economic stagnation were aggravated by the coronavirus pandemic and political infighting. There was no direct reaction from the labour union or political parties to Bouden’s appointment. However, the biggest party in the elected parliament, the moderate Islamist Ennahda, urged its leader the parliament speaker Rached Ghannouchi to resume the assembly’s work in defiance of Saied.