Gunmen have kidnapped the prelate of the Methodist Church Nigeria, police said Monday, in an incident that once again mirrors the troubling security challenges in the country. His Eminence Samuel Kanu Uche was kidnapped Sunday along a highway in the Umunneochi in Abia, police spokesperson Geoffrey Ogbonna said. Two other senior clerics with him were also taken hostage. Nigeria’s southeast has in recent years grappled with violent attacks and abductions often blamed on unknown gunmen. Authorities have accused members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, a leading separatist group, of being behind many of the attacks. There has been no word yet from the kidnappers, Ogbonna said, adding that “we are making efforts” to rescue him and the two other captives. The leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) condemned the kidnapping and called on Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari to “give an express order to the security agencies to free them immediately and stop the incessant abduction of clerics and other innocent Nigerians.”

Nigeria has confirmed 21 cases of monkeypox since the start of the year with one death reported, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has said. “Among the 21 cases reported in 2022 so far, there has been no evidence of any new or unusual transmission of the virus, nor changes in its clinical manifestation documented (including symptoms, profile and virulence),” NCDC said in a statement. Monkeypox, a usually mild viral infection, is endemic in the African countries of Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria. But it has caused global alarm after more than 200 suspected and confirmed cases of the virus were detected in at least 19 countries since early May, mostly in Europe and the Middle East. No deaths have been reported so far. The NCDC said out of 61 suspected cases of monkeypox reported since January, 21 had been confirmed with one death, that of a 40-year-old man. The cases were reported in nine states and the federal capital Abuja. Six of the cases were detected this month, it said.

Industry stakeholders have called on the federal government to suspend the 15 percent levy imposed on wheat grain importation to avert production and a major food inflation crisis. The stakeholders made the call in a recent report on the global wheat market following the war between the two top wheat exporting countries – Russia and Ukraine. According to them, the multifaceted value chain crises, including the shortage of foreign exchange, mounting freight charges, and hike in the price of diesel further worsened by the war, continue to take a heavy toll on the wheat value chain. The report showed that the price of wheat in the global market rose to $1,000 per bushel in March 2022 from $761.25 in January. Arguing for the removal of the 15 percent levy in a recent interview, Jude Okafor, National Secretary-General of the Association of Master Bakers and Caterers of Nigeria (ABCON), said discussions have been had with the government on the matter. “We had earlier made a plea to the government to cancel the 15 percent wheat (cassava) levy.” The stakeholders said the 15 percent levy was meant to drive up local cassava production to the point of substituting cassava flour for wheat flour in most bakery production. According to them, however, there has been no significant improvement in the cassava value chain since the introduction of the cassava substitution policy and the levy. Considering the crisis in Ukraine and the global food crisis, the stakeholders called on the Nigerian government to reconsider the removal of the 15 percent wheat import levy as “this is necessary to prevent a wider supply chain breakdown and recession.” Measures proposed by the stakeholders to help the millers, bakers, and consumers include increased access to forex at the import and export (I&E) window, allowance for tax concessions in line with the key backward integration programmes index, and the provision of logistic support.

Civilian deaths and rights abuses attributable to the Malian armed forces and backed by “foreign military elements” have surged in the first quarter of 2022, a United Nations report has said, with the killings seeing a 324 percent rise during the previous quarter. “Malian Armed Forces, supported on certain occasions by foreign military elements, increased military operations to combat terrorism … some of which sometimes ended in serious allegations of violations of human rights,” the UN’s Malian mission, known as MINUSMA, said in the report released on Monday. The report did not identify the “foreign military elements” supporting the army. The total number of people killed in the first quarter of 2022 by all parties in the conflict – rebels, self-defence groups and security forces – quadrupled during the last three months of 2021, rising from 128 to 543. A total of 248 civilian deaths were attributable to the defence and security forces, the report said. MINUSMA documented 320 human rights violations by the Malian military in the January-March period, compared with 31 in the previous three months.