The Niger state government said Monday that gunmen killed 11 security agents and several villagers after attacking remote villages in the north-central state. This is one of many cases where gangs have been terrorising areas of northern Nigeria in recent years, forcing thousands to flee and perpetrating mass kidnappings for ransom. According to Governor Abubakar Sani Bello, the latest incident, which he blamed on “terrorists”, happened on Sunday afternoon in Shiroro local government area. Last year, local officials said suspected Boko Haram militants were active in Shiroro. The Islamist group has been engaged in an insurgency in Nigeria’s northeast for more than a decade. Bello said, “Terrorists, numbering over 100 are said to have invaded the community in broad daylight, killing about 11 Joint Security Taskforce members, several villagers and leaving many injured.”  Scores of gunmen were killed during a gunfight with security forces, he added.  Reuters quoted Dahiur Muhammed, a resident of Galadiman Kogo village in Shiroro as saying at least 30 villagers were killed and dozens more abducted after gunmen on motorbikes attacked three villages and set houses on fire. Some residents have fled to the state capital Minna where there is better security. Niger shares a boundary with the country’s capital, Abuja. President Muhammadu Buhari said earlier this month that the military had begun a major operation in Niger state against bandits and Boko Haram insurgents running from a government offensive in the northeast. Similarly, at least 11 persons were killed on Sunday by suspected bandits at Kurmin Masara in Zango Kataf Local Government Area of Kaduna. The state’s Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, confirmed the incident in a statement.

The National Assembly, on Monday, transmitted the reworked Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent. The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Babajide Omoworare, said this in a statement he personally signed after the transmission. According to the statement, “The Clerk to the National Assembly, Mr Olatunde Amos Ojo, has transmitted the authenticated copies of the Electoral Bill 2022 to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, on 31st January 2022. This was done in accordance with the provisions of Section 58 (3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and the Acts Authentication Act Cap. A2 LFN 2004. Mr. President had withheld assent to the Electoral Bill 2021 transmitted to him on 19th November 2021. The electoral bill was thereafter reworked by the National Assembly and both the Senate and the House of Representatives passed the same on 25th January 2022,” the statement reads. The federal parliament had since Tuesday last week amended the electoral bill for the second time by concurring on consensus candidacy and setting fresh conditions for political parties in the nomination of candidates for elections. Buhari had last year vetoed the electoral bill and sent it back to the National Assembly over the restriction of political parties to direct primary, insisting on the direct or indirect. The House had amended Clause Section 87 of the Electoral Act 2010, which is Clause 84 of the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, by inserting the indirect primary option. However, the Senate not only added indirect primaries but also consensus adoption of candidates for elections by a political party. The Senate and the House, in passing different amendments to the bill, were expected to refer the versions to a conference committee to harmonise the differences and report back for final passage and transmission to the President for assent. However, both the Senate and the House of Representatives, last week, took a shorter route by rescinding their decisions on the amendments last week and re-amending the electoral bill. This time, the House concurred with the Senate on the consensus, while both chambers passed the same conditions set for the option. In another legislative development, media reports say Senators deliberating on amending the constitution in committee have bowed to the president’s wishes and rejected the decentralisation of policing in the country. Vanguard reported that voices against the creation of state police forces outnumbered those for it against the backdrop of members of the ruling All Progressives Congress speaking the language of the party and President Buhari who are firmly against relinquishing federal priority over policing. The paper said the Constitution Review Committee while rejecting state policing, okayed an amendment requiring the President and state governors to constitute their cabinets within 60 days of being sworn in as well as voted for full autonomy to the Local Government Councils and the judiciary.

Rwanda on Monday reopened a border crossing with Uganda closed three years ago when the government accused Kampala of harassing its nationals and supporting dissidents bent on removing the government in Kigali. In turn, the government of President Yoweri Museveni accused Rwanda of conducting illegal espionage in Uganda, which suffered a huge drop in exports with the border closed. Officials from both sides hailed the reopening, allowing a resumption of trade and some people to move back and forth. But the comments of a Rwanda government spokesman to Rwandan television on Sunday signal the animosity still lingers. Deputy government spokesman Alain Mukuralinda told Rwanda TV that although the border was re-opening, Uganda had not yet addressed all of Kigali’s grievances. “It does not mean that cases of beatings, torture and deportations of Rwandan nationals are over. It does not mean that the people, based in Uganda, who want to destabilise Rwanda have stopped. We hope it is a good move towards stopping all that,” he said. On Monday, government spokeswoman Yolande Makolo declined to comment on her deputy’s comments. Uganda’s government spokesman could not immediately be reached. Both sides have previously denied the allegations from each other. The border closure had choked off commerce on a major regional transport artery that funnels goods from the Indian Ocean seaport of Mombasa in Kenya through Uganda to Rwanda, Burundi and the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. In the last two decades, Uganda’s annual exports to Rwanda rose gradually to above $200 million but suddenly plunged sharply after the border closure in 2019. In 2020, at the peak of the hostilities during the closure, Uganda’s exports to Rwanda were under $2 million.