At least 30 people comprising staff and passengers of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) have been reported to be kidnapped at the Igueben train substation in Edo State. On Saturday night, the Edo State Police Command announced that scores of travellers waiting to board a train from Igueben in Igueben Local Government Area of the state to Warri in Delta State were kidnapped by suspected herdsmen. The command, in a press statement, stated that the incident happened at about 4.00 pm on Saturday. According to the statement, the suspected herdsmen, who were armed with AK 47 rifles, invaded the train station and shot sporadically into the air before herding an unspecified number of intending travellers into the bush. Some passengers were also reported to have sustained bullet wounds. The command stated that bush combing and rescue operations had begun. Speaking on the development on Sunday, the Liaison Officer to Igueben Local Government Area, Best Oseh, said security agencies and paramilitary organisations are combing the forests within the area so as to rescue the victims and arrest those behind the dastardly act. The Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) announced the closure of the station in a short message on Sunday.

Nigeria’s external reserves have declined by 8.44 percent year-on-year to $37.08 billion as of 30 December 2022 from $40.50 billion recorded at the beginning of 2022, new data from the Central Bank of Nigeria shows. According to a report by FBNQuest, the trend in gross official reserves was downward through 2022. Foreign exchange inflow from crude oil sales, the main source of FX accretion to the official reserves, was essentially non-existent last year, the report stated. According to the report, despite the demand pressure on the naira exchange rate, the CBN was able to keep the naira relatively stable on the official market. This was mostly accomplished by means of FX supply rationing. The naira lost just about 9 percent of its value against the US dollar last year, despite the US Federal Reserve’s significant interest rate rises. This is in contrast to the performance of most other currencies around the world, the report stated. FBNQuest sees the gross official reserve balance at about $36 billion by the end of 2023. The modest decrease relative to the end of 2022 levels is mostly due to the gradual improvement in oil production following a step-up by the security agencies. The federal government’s proposal to eliminate fuel subsidies by June 2023 will also be supportive, the report stated.

Nigerian government officials will be barred from withdrawing cash from government accounts from 1 March 2023, the head of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) has said. The new rules, which will apply to federal, local and state officials, are aimed at combating money laundering and corruption and are in line with government efforts to move Africa’s most populous country towards a cashless economy. “Civil servants are becoming more and more vulnerable to money laundering and its predicate offences due to their exposure to cash withdrawals from public accounts,” NFIU director and chief executive, Modibbo R. HammanTukur said. NFIU analysis found that from 2015 to 2022, officials withdrew nearly ₦1.1 trillion ($2.45 billion) from government accounts – most of it exceeding previous withdrawal limits. “In the unlikely event that a public official feels he may need cash withdrawal, he may apply for approval for a waiver from the presidency which may be granted on a case-by-case basis,” HammanTukur said.

The 49 Ivorian soldiers convicted of undermining Mali’s state security and conspiracy against the government, have been pardoned by the military junta leader, Colonel Assimi Goita. The pardon comes one week after 46 of the soldiers were sentenced to 20 years in prison. The three women who had been freed in early September were tried in absentia and sentenced to death. Government spokesperson, Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga, shared the news on national Malian television. This gesture by Colonel Goita is prompted as a way to keep the peace between the neighbouring countries “This gesture, once again, demonstrates his attachment to peace, dialogue, pan-Africanism, and the preservation of fraternal and secular relations with the countries of the region,” added Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga. The 49 soldiers were detained in July when they went to work for Sahelian Aviation Services, a private company contracted to work in Mali by the United Nations. The 1 January 2023 deadline ECOWAS set for Mali to release the soldiers was missed but ECOWAS decided not to sanction the country.