Unnamed officials of Nigeria’s anti-corruption agencies, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) told Premium Times that their morale and commitment to work have been affected by the controversial presidential pardon of former Taraba governor Jolly Nyame and his counterpart, Joshua Dariye of Plateau State. Both men had been convicted and jailed for stealing state funds. The officials accused President Muhammadu Buhari of sabotaging the anti-corruption fight. “We used to say our problem in our work against corruption is the judiciary but we see a lack of political will by the president,” one EFCC official said. Messrs Nyame and Dariye were pardoned by Mr Buhari despite still serving their jail terms. Mr Dariye, 64, and Mr Nyame, 66, were convicted for mismanaging and stealing public funds while they were governors. But last Thursday, at the National Council of State’s meeting held at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, Mr Buhari pardoned them, as well as 157 others, on the grounds of health and age. By granting them a pardon, insiders say Mr Buhari — who rode to power on the campaign of fighting corruption — has dampened the morale of the officials of the anti-graft agencies. One official said the anti-graft officers would now merely attend work to earn their salaries without passion. “People will be taunting us now that a president can pardon a big thief whom we seriously try to prosecute,” the official said. The official told the news site the prosecutions of the two former governors took up to 10 years and their eventual convictions were a high point of their work. “Staff are angrier because the two former governors were tried for over a decade and got convicted. They are saying that the corrupt public servants even made appeals but their conviction was affirmed by Nigeria’s apex court,” the official said. Another official said he doubts Mr Buhari reviewed the implication of his actions on operatives of the anti-graft agencies. “People risked their lives and friendships to investigate the ex-governors. They refused to be compromised. Now it appears all the efforts were in vain,” the anti-corruption investigator said. Some non-governmental organisations including the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), and Transparency International (TI) also condemned the pardon granted to the corrupt politicians convicted by Nigerian courts. The civil society organisations are worried about what they called “the effect such ill-thought political pardon will have on the anti-corruption efforts, which constitutes the major agenda and commitment of the current administration”.

A joint military force from Nigeria, Niger and Cameroon said on Sunday it had killed more than 100 Islamist insurgents, including 10 commanders, in the past few weeks, as it intensifies a ground and air offensive in the Lake Chad region. Boko Haram fighters and its splinter Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) group have for more than a decade battled the Nigerian army in a conflict that has sucked in neighbouring states. Multinational Joint Task Force spokesman Colonel Muhammad Dole said troops had ventured deep into enclaves controlled by insurgents in the Lake Chad area and recovered several weapons, food and illicit drugs. “Within the period of this operation, well over a hundred terrorists have been neutralised, including over 10 top commanders … following intelligence-driven lethal air strikes in the Lake Chad islands by the combined air task-forces,” Dole said. Dole did not give the period covered by the operation or number of troops killed but said 18 soldiers were injured by improvised explosive devices planted by retreating insurgents. The Islamist insurgency is concentrated in the northeast of Nigeria and has left thousands dead while driving millions from their homes into camps for internally displaced persons. Nigeria received a boost after the United States last week approved a nearly $1 billion weapons sale. U.S. lawmakers had put a hold on the deal over concerns about possible human rights abuses by the Nigerian government.

Standard Chartered says it will fully exit operations in seven countries in Africa and the Middle East (AME) region as part of plans to upscale its businesses. The countries include Angola, Cameroon, Gambia, Jordan, Lebanon, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe. In a recent statement, the bank said it would also exit its consumer, private and business banking businesses in Tanzania and Cote d’Ivoire. The multinational lender added it would focus solely on its corporate, commercial and institutional banking in both countries. According to the bank, it would be leaving these markets as it generated around one per cent of its total group 2021 income and a similar proportion of profit before tax. “The Group remains focused on serving its clients where it can make the most impact. The Group will continue to serve corporate and institutional clients and facilitate cross-border capital flows and offshore business in all the above markets from its international network. The Group is currently present in 59 markets and serves clients in a further 83.” Chief Executive Bill Winters said: “As we set out earlier in the year, we are sharpening our focus on the most significant opportunities for growth while also simplifying our business.” In January, Standard Chartered announced the closure of 50 per cent of its branches in Nigeria to embrace digital banking.

The president of Burkina Faso’s mines chamber said on Monday extra measures would be taken to increase security and help to avoid further suspensions after Russia’s Nordgold shut down a gold mine in the insurgent-hit country earlier this month. Nordgold called force majeure on its Taparko mine on 9 April, citing the deteriorating security situation in the country where Islamist militants have gained ground and escalated attacks in recent years. Taparko’s closure prompted a meeting on 14 April between the head of army and the mines chamber. “Measures will be taken and strengthened on all aspects… to give us even more security,” the chamber’s president Adama Soro told Reuters, refusing to detail strategies discussed. Improved security was the way to avoid a “spiral of suspensions,” he said and urged investors to stay in the country, noting 16 gold and one zinc mine felt protected enough by the army to continue their operations. Soro said Burkina Faso’s insecurity had increased operational costs for mines run by international companies, as staff needed to be flown in or heavily escorted when travelling by road. Mining sites and their supply chains also require additional protection, most of which is provided by state security, while exploration for new sites has declined, he said, citing the 2019 abduction and killing of a Canadian geologist. Burkina Faso’s mining industry was scarred by a November 2019 attack on a convoy transporting workers of Canadian gold miner Semafo that killed 37 civilians and wounded dozens. When Nordgold announced Taparko’s closure, it said access to the site had become “quasi-impossible” and was putting staff in danger. The forced shutdown is another blow for Nordgold as it navigates disruptions linked to Western sanctions on Russia over its war in Ukraine. Although not under sanctions, Nordgold, like other Russian miners, has faced disruptions because of the sanctions regime and counter-parties self-sanctioning. Taparko is close to the tri-border area of Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali, where violent militants linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State control territory. A state security vehicle headed to Taparko for a change of duties hit an improvised explosive device on Saturday, leaving two passengers dead and three injured, the government said.