The Nigerian Air Force said on Thursday it may have killed and injured civilians while pursuing suspected Islamist insurgents in the northeast, in an incident that local authorities said left nine people dead. Another 23 people from the village of Buwari, including five children, were injured on Wednesday, the State Emergency Management Agency in Yobe said, after what it described as reports of a strike. The Nigerian armed forces are fighting two Islamist insurgent groups in the northeast, Boko Haram and Islamic State’s West African Province (ISWAP), in a conflict that has killed 350,000 people and made millions dependent on aid. The air force, after initially denying involvement in the incident, said it may have killed and injured civilians by mistake. Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet said a fighter jet had responded to intelligence on suspicious movements of suspected insurgents from Boko Haram or ISWAP on Wednesday and fired “some probing shots”. “Unfortunately reports reaching Nigerian Air Force headquarters alleged that some civilians were erroneously killed while others were injured,” he said in a statement. “Therefore a board of inquiry has been set up to thoroughly investigate the circumstances of the incident.” Three residents in Yobe’s Yunasari local government area, where Buwari is located, told Reuters that an air force jet had flown over the village on Wednesday morning before there were explosions.
The World Bank Group on Thursday said it ended publication of its “Doing Business” report on country investment climates after a probe of data irregularities cited “undue pressure” by top bank officials, including then-Chief Executive Kristalina Georgieva, to boost China’s ranking in 2017. The World Bank said in a statement that the decision came after internal audit reports had raised “ethical matters, including the conduct of former Board officials as well as current and/or former Bank staff” and a board investigation conducted by the law firm WilmerHale. The WilmerHale report cited “direct and indirect pressure” from senior staff in the office of then-World Bank President Jim Yong Kim to change the report’s methodology to boost China’s score, and said it likely occurred at his direction. It also said that Georgieva, now the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, and a key adviser pressured staff to “make specific changes to China’s data points” and boost its ranking at a time when the bank was seeking China’s support for a big capital increase. China’s ranking in the “Doing Business 2018” report published in October 2017, rose seven places to 78th after the data methodology changes were made, compared with the initial draft report. The Doing Business report assesses regulatory environments, ease of business startups, infrastructure and other business climate measures. “I disagree fundamentally with the findings and interpretations of the investigation of data irregularities as it relates to my role in the World Bank’s Doing Business report of 2018,” Georgieva said in a statement issued by the IMF. She added that she had met with the IMF’s executive board to discuss the matter. The WilmerHale report also cited irregularities in the data used to determine rankings for Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan in the “Doing Business 2020” report published in 2019 but found no evidence that any members of the bank’s Office of the President or executive board were involved in these changes. “Going forward, we will be working on a new approach to assessing the business and investment climate,” the World Bank said in a statement.
54gene, a Nigerian health tech company advancing African genomics research for improved global health outcomes, has secured $25M in a Series B round. The round was led by Cathay AfricInvest Innovation Fund with participation from Adjuvant Capital, KdT Ventures, Plexo Capital, Endeavor Capital, Ingressive Capital and others. In April 2020, the biotech startup closed a $15 million Series A. Their recent funding brings the company’s total investment to over $45M since it was founded by Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong in 2019. The company continues to lead the new generation of health technology in Africa. In December of 2020, 54gene unveiled the first genome sequencing lab in Nigeria in partnership with Illumina, an American biotech company. Last year during the pandemic, 54gene worked closely with Nigeria’s Center for Disease Control (NCDC) in conducting COVID-19 tests across the country and played a pivotal role in purchasing necessary equipment like PPE, test kits, and others needed to combat the virus. The company plans to use the new funding to expand its capabilities in drug discovery in Africa for Africans and the global population. As part of its expansion plans, 54gene will focus on sequencing, target identification and validation, and precision medicine clinical trials. The company also plans to use this new funding to enter more African countries.
France says that the leader of the ISIS-affiliated Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) group, known for its deadly attacks in the so-called tri-border region of Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, has been killed by French forces. “[Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahrawi], leader of the terrorist group Islamic State in the Greater Sahara was neutralised by French forces,” French President Emmanuel Macron said in a tweet on Thursday. “This is another major success in our fight against terrorist groups in the Sahel,” Macron added, without providing details or location of the operation. Rumours of the ISGS leader’s death had circulated for weeks in Mali, though authorities in the region had not confirmed it. In another tweet, French Defence Minister Florence Parly said al-Sahrawi died following a raid by France’s Barkhane force – a 5,100-man operation active in the Sahel region for more than eight years. “It is a decisive blow against this terrorist group,” she tweeted. “Our fight continues.” The armed group’s leader was behind the killing of French aid workers in 2020 and was also wanted by the United States over a deadly 2017 attack on US troops in Niger. ISGS, formed by al-Sahrawi in 2015, has been blamed for most of the attacks in recent years on civilians and soldiers in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso. The flashpoint area has frequently come under attack by ISGS and the al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (GSIM). The US had offered a $5m reward for information on the whereabouts of al-Sahrawi, who was wanted over an October 4, 2017 attack in Niger that killed four US Special Forces and four Niger troops. On 9 August 2020, in Niger, the ISGS head personally ordered the killing of six French aid workers and their Niger guides and drivers. In late 2019, the group carried out a series of large-scale attacks against military bases in Mali and Niger. A former member of Western Sahara’s Polisario Front independence movement, al-Sahrawi joined al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and had also co-led the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa or Mujao, a Malian armed group responsible for kidnapping Spanish aid workers in Algeria and a group of Algerian diplomats in Mali in 2012. The French military has killed several high-ranking members of ISGS under its strategy of taking out fighters since the start of its military intervention in Mali in 2013. In June this year, Macron announced a huge scaling back of France’s Barkhane force in the Sahel after more than eight years of military presence in the vast region to refocus on supporting local forces.