Troops of 1 Division of the Nigerian Army, on Thursday engaged bandits terrorising the Kaduna-Birnin Gwari highway in a gun battle, rescuing 30 kidnap victims. The acting spokesman for the division, Lt. Col. Musa Yahaya, in a statement, said in part that “a fighting patrol from 1 Division on Thursday 2 February had an engagement with armed bandits kidnapping commuters at Manini village along Kaduna – Birnin Gwari road. The troops who were escorting the Chief of Defence Training and Operations Major General S.E Udonwa who was on operational visits to Operation Whirl Punch Headquarters in Birnin Gwari engaged the bandits and overpowered them forcing the criminal element to withdraw in disarray.”

The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) on Thursday said it will not issue any sit-at-home order during the February poll. It warned a group called the Pan Nigeria President of Igbo Extraction Coalition (PANPIEC) to desist from linking IPOB with the enforcement of sit-at-home orders to blackmail it and its associated group, the Eastern Security Network.  The group’s spokesman, Emma Powerful, in a statement said IPOB has no plan or intention to order any sit-at-home during the election period.  The statement read in part, “We have maintained that we don’t have any interest in the shambolic political selection process called Nigeria elections scheduled for February 2023. Our interest and focus is the release of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and the date for the Biafra referendum for Biafrans to determine their political future in or outside Nigeria.”

Ghana is asking some of its largest companies to pay millions of dollars in back taxes as the cash-strapped government scrambles to raise money and finalise a bailout from the International Monetary Fund. Gold Fields and Kosmos Energy have been told they owe back taxes, as have Tullow Oil and Africa’s largest wireless carrier MTN Group. All of the companies dispute the government’s claims. Ghana has been forced to allocate most of its revenue to service an estimated 576 billion cedis ($48 billion) of public debt. West Africa’s second-largest economy lost access to international capital markets because of its ballooning debt and loan-service costs. It’s restructuring most of its obligations amid a slump in the cedi, and is seeking a $3 billion loan from the IMF. Gold Fields is in talks with the country’s tax authority to try and resolve the demand for 2018 to 2020. MTN, which has been ordered to pay $776 million, has until Friday to reach an agreement with the Ghanaian authorities.

Cocoa arrivals at world top producer Côte d’Ivoire’s main ports of Abidjan and San Pedro have slumped since the beginning of the year as erratic and insufficient rainfall hit crop output, exporters and farmers said. Weekly port arrivals fell to about 70,000 tons from around 115,000 tons in November and December last year, according to exporters’ estimates. Total arrivals since the start of the season on 1 October reached 1.540 million tons by 29 January. The drop in beans arrivals is expected to last until the end of the main harvest in February and March, and might extend into the first two months of the mid-crop harvest in April and May if rains do not arrive with more regularity, Reuters reported. Cocoa farming requires heavy rainfall with spells of sunshine for drying of beans. The West and Central Africa region however, is in the middle of its dry season, which runs from mid-November to March. The country’s main cocoa crop harvest runs from October to March, while the smaller mid-crop runs from April to September.