Nigeria bought emergency supplies of Canadian potash in April following disruptions from Russia amid Western sanctions, Reuters reported. Potash is used primarily as an agricultural fertiliser because it is an excellent source of soluble potassium. Quoting Uche Orji, managing director of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), the news agency reported that Nigeria bought three cargoes of Canadian potash, which should arrive within the next month. In a normal year, the country takes five Russian cargoes a year. “Russia was unable to deliver, so we bought a spot from traders in Canada. The Canadian High Commission in Nigeria helped start the conversation with producers,” Reuters quoted Orji to have said. He, however, declined to comment on prices. Spot prices on Tuesday are up more than 250 per cent for deliveries to West Africa compared to last year, according to Argus Media, a commodities pricing agency. The NSIA MD said there were ongoing discussions to see if a Russian delivery could still be possible. Russia’s Uralkali, a major global producer of crop nutrients, has been Nigeria’s exclusive supplier since 2019. The potash producer has not itself been targeted by sanctions so far. But Dmitry Mazepin, a Russian businessman left the board and cut his controlling stake in Uralchem after he was hit by EU sanctions in March. Uralchem owns the majority of Uralkali.

Armed gangs who kidnapped dozens of passengers in an attack on a train in northern Nigeria are using civilians as human shields, making it difficult for the military to carry out a rescue mission, President Muhammadu Buhari said on Monday. Nigeria’s state railway company said last month that 168 people were missing following the 28 March attack. Local media last week showed a video of victims of the kidnap, including a baby recently born to one of the abducted women. Reuters could not verify the video’s authenticity. Buhari said the government, which has been criticised for not doing enough to rescue the passengers, was trying to avoid a “tragic outcome” in any rescue operation. “They (the kidnappers) are using civilians as human shields, thereby making it difficult to confront them directly,” he said in a statement. “It’s a delicate situation … Any rescue operation that results in the death of any hostage cannot be deemed a success.” Abductions have become almost a daily occurrence in Nigeria, where armed gangs abduct people for ransom and hide in forests. The brutal nature of the attacks has increased insecurity fears in a country also grappling with an insurgency in the northeast and rising criminality around the country.

Gunmen killed four persons, including a police officer on Monday in two communities in Anambra. According to Premium Times reporting, two of the victims who were killed in Ukpor, Nnewi South Local Government Area (LGA), were brothers. The duo, identified as Godwin and Nnajiofor Modobi hailed from Umuhu village in the community. Two other persons were killed near a church, along Udorji road, Ozubulu, in Ekwusigo LGA. The latest attacks come barely four days after about five persons were killed at a beer parlour in Osumenyi, Nnewi South LGA. Nnajiofor was said to have been killed in their house, before his younger brother, Ikechukwu, was blindfolded, abducted and later killed by the gunmen near Utuh Junction. In a viral video of the incident shared in some WhatsApp groups, about four spent bullets were seen close to his blood strewn corpse. Anambra police spokesperson Ikenga Tochukwu confirmed the incidents. In neighbouring Imo, gunmen on Saturday killed two soldiers at an unknown location, according to the same paper. The victims, A. M. Linus, said to be a Sergeant in the Nigerian Army, and his unidentified wife, said to be a lance corporal, were reportedly beheaded after being shot dead by the gunmen. Their corpses were said to have been dismembered by the gunmen. A gory image of their heads has gone viral on social media. A phone conversation with the suspected gunmen, believed to have been initiated by a friend of the slain female soldier also made the rounds online. In the phone conversation, a suspected gunman admitted that he killed the couple. The gunman said they were aggrieved that the military has been consistently killing innocent residents in efforts to attack them (gunmen). As the caller burst into tears after hearing that her friend and her husband had been killed by the gunmen, the gunman was heard making a joke of her. Confirming the attack, Army spokesperson Onyema Nwachukwu told the paper that military authorities have received information about the killing of two of their personnel and had commenced investigations.

Guinea’s military junta said its transition back to civilian rule will probably take more than three years, a proposal likely to upset West Africa’s political bloc that has called for a swift return to constitutional order. Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, the head of the junta that took power in a coup last September, told state television on Saturday that after political consultations he was considering a transition of 39 months – the first time he has proposed a timeline. Military leaders have snatched power in Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea over the last two years, raising concerns of a backslide in democracy in West Africa that over the past decade had begun to shed its reputation as a “coup belt”. The coups have put the countries at odds with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which is trying to put power back in civilians’ hands. ECOWAS has already imposed sanctions on Mali after military leaders proposed holding onto power until 2025, hammering its economy by shutting it off from regional trade and financial markets. ECOWAS has given Mali 12-16 months to arrange democratic elections. When Burkina Faso’s leaders proposed a 3-year transition to civilian rule, ECOWAS called for “a more acceptable timeline” but stopped short of imposing sanctions on the country. There are subsisting sanctions on Guinea’s junta leaders. Doumbouya said he would submit the proposal to the National Transitional Council, an 80-member body set up by the junta to act as parliament during the transition to elections. A coalition of political parties and civil society organisations condemned the plan. It was not clear when the 39 month period would start.