Gunmen have released 11 passengers who were abducted during a train attack in northern Nigeria at the end of March, a government minister said, though dozens of others are thought to remain in captivity. Minister of State for Transportation Gbemisola Saraki said in a statement late on Saturday that the government was working to ensure all the kidnapped passengers were released. The freed passengers were taken to a hospital in Abuja. Saraki did not say how and where they were released, or if a ransom was paid. Armed gangs, often called bandits, blew up the track on the Abuja-Kaduna route in the north of the country and opened fire on the night train on March 28, killing eight people. Nigeria’s state railway company initially said it could not account for 168 people who according to a passenger log had booked to travel on the train. Most were later traced to their homes, but 65 were confirmed missing. Bandits have killed and abducted hundreds of people for ransom in northern Nigeria, leaving citizens terrified.
Nigeria’s electricity grid has collapsed again, causing a blackout in states across the country. Major electricity distribution companies (DisCos) in the country notified their respective customers of the development on social media. In a Twitter post, Kaduna Electric said the national grid collapsed around 6:47 pm on Sunday. “The collapse occurred at about 18:47 pm this evening hence the loss of supply on all our outgoing feeders. Power supply shall be restored as soon as the national grid is powered back. Our sincere apologies for any inconvenience.” Also, Jos DisCo appealed to its customers for their understanding and cooperation regarding the power outage. On its part, Enugu Electric said the system collapse led to the shutdown of its outgoing feeders, thus disrupting supply to customers in Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo states. Abuja Electric, which oversees Abuja, Kogi, Nasarawa, and Niger states, also posted a similar message on its Twitter page on Sunday night as well as Eko Electric which supplies large portions of metropolitan Lagos. This is the fifth power grid collapse in Nigeria in 2022. The grid had collapsed twice in April 2022 and twice in March. The grid collapsed 206 times between 2010 and 2019 according to the Nigeria Electricity System Operator. Of those, 146 were total collapses and 73 were partial.
The Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) says global food imports are on course to hit a new record high of $1.8 trillion in 2022. In its latest food outlook report, it projected that the world’s food import bill is on track to surpass an all-time high set last year by nearly 3 percent — but higher prices and transport costs rather than volumes account for the bulk of the expected increase. “Countries are expected to spend a staggering $1.8 trillion importing food they need this year; this would be a new world record but worryingly, it’s going to buy them less food, not more,” the FAO said. The report said that higher fixed costs for farmers of so-called “agricultural inputs” such as fertiliser and fuel, are likely to be responsible for this year’s “bigger-than-ever global food import bill”. The UN agency explained that all but $2 billion of the additional $51 billion that is going to be spent worldwide on edible imports this year was owing to higher prices. “Developing countries, as a whole, are reducing imports of cereals, oilseeds and meat, which reflects their incapacity to cover the increase in prices,” the report said. Among the most vulnerable nations, it estimates that the least developed countries would have little option but to spend five percent less importing food this year. Also, sub-Saharan African countries and others that buy more food than they export are likely to face an increase in costs, for which they’ll get lower amounts of essential foodstuffs.
Armed men killed at least 100 civilians in a rural district of northern Burkina Faso close to the border with Niger over the weekend, a security source said. The attackers targeted men but appeared to spare women and children in Seytenga district on Saturday night, the security source and two other sources said, all speaking on condition of anonymity. No group immediately claimed responsibility, but the assault happened in borderlands where militants linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State are waging an insurgency. About 3,000 people who fled the attack have arrived in Dori, the capital of Burkina Faso’s surrounding Sahel region, where aid agencies are on the ground, said a local official who asked not to be named. There were differing accounts of the death toll. The security official said on Monday at least 100 people had died. A local source who did not wish to be named said the provisional tally stood at 165. Burkina Faso’s government spokesman, Lionel Bilgo, said 50 bodies had been found so far but that the figure was not final. Soldiers were going house to house looking for bodies, he said. Violence linked to Islamist insurgents has killed thousands and displaced millions across Burkina Faso and neighbouring Mali and Niger since 2015. Army officers angry about the escalating attacks overthrew Burkina Faso’s president in January and vowed to improve security, but levels of violence have remained high. Armed men killed 11 military police in the same area last Thursday.