10 Major events that shook Nigeria in 2019

 

President Buhari and Atiku Abubakar: war they fought over 2019 election nearly tore the country apart.

By Isa Isawade

Year 2019 was a very eventful year for Nigeria as a country. It was a year the country experienced unforgettable events among which shook it to its very foundations. Some of the events are here brought back to readers’ memory:

1. Vice President Osinbajo’s copter crash: What would have been a day of national mourning, by sheer providence, turned into a moment of excitement, singing, dancing and praising of God by Nigerians when the number two citizen in the country,

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo survived an air crash for the second time. Osinbajo and few of his aides were on election campaign visit to Kogi State on February 3 when his helicopter crash-landed in Kabba. Undeterred, the VP who was unhurt alongside his aides, continued the campaign trail for his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC). The first incident was in June 2017 when he went to Gwagawalada Area Council, Abuja FCT to attend graduation of 40 senior officers of the Nigeria Customs Service. The chopper he was traveling in crash-landed shortly after take-off. He was unhurt. These two similar events earned him the sobriquet “Ojabo koku” (One who fell from up without dying) among his Yoruba kinsmen.

VP Osinbajo: Escapes death twice in air crashes

The crashed chopper

Atiku and Buhari

2. 2019 General Elections: The elections were held across the country between February 23 and March 16, with the presidential being expectedly the most acrimonious. As a matter of fact, the kind of gang up against the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari overtly staged by various categories of people mostly from the opposition camp, some former leaders, religious leaders mostly from the Christendom, and corrupt politicians who were choking under his anti-corruption crusades had never been witnessed in the chequered history of Nigeria.

It started with former President Olusegun Obasanjo, leading a revolt against the government, as he had done to every government that has ruled Nigeria, except his own. Other disgruntled elements who could not wait to see Buhari’s back, for various reasons, seized the opportunity to join the wagon kick-started by the former President. Even the main opposition party’s presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, whose image, had in the past been ruined by Obasanjo, in his desperation to clinch the position of number one citizen, swallowed all the bitter pills Obasanjo had rammed down his throat and went back to his traducer like a prodigal son, giving effect to the saying: ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’. Obasanjo also reciprocated by going back to his own vomit, asking Nigerians to vote for the same man he had warned the people to steer clear of. Primordial sentiments capable of destabilizing the country such as ethnicity and religion were employed by the opposition camp as tools of campaign. It got to a point that fear that the country was going to break up was palpable.

Former President Obasanjo: spared no effort in campaigning against Buhari

As if to worsen the matter, the country’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), reminiscent of the 2015 incident, announced a postponement by one week on the eve of the much awaited presidential election. The Presidential and National Assembly elections earlier slated for February 16 were shifted to February 23 while those of the Governorship and State Assembly earlier scheduled for March 2 were postponed to March 9. This event cast initial shadow on the electoral process and it took repeated statements of reassurance from the INEC and government to Nigerians and the international community that the elections would not only take place, but would also be free and peaceful, to calm frayed nerves.

Buhari: victorious in the end

In the end, Mr. Buhari triumphed as he defeated his closest rival Atiku Abubakar with a wide margin of almost 4 million votes. Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) won 15,191,847 votes, while Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) got 11,262,978 votes.
The legal tussle and razzmatazz that followed the results’ announcement got finally settled by judgment of the apex court on October 30 which affirmed Buhari’s victory.

3. EFCC’s onslaught against Yahoo boys: An aspect where the country’s anti-corruption agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) made record achievement to the relief and excitement of majority of Nigerians aside catching some hitherto untouchable big thieves such as former governors and making them to cool off in jail, was busting of the most lethal industry of fraud- the cybercrime called ‘yahoo yahoo’. Multitude of the yahoo boys, who on daily basis wrecked life out of hardworking citizens and foreigners alike, were rounded up this year and made to face the music. The cases were too many that the year 2019 can correctly be dubbed ‘yahoo gangs bursting year’, because hardly would a weak pass without at least a gang being busted by operatives of the EFCC. Few of the major arrests published by P.M.NEWS at various times in the year are here catalogued:

EFCC Boss, Ibrahim Magu: fearless anti-corruption fighter

– March 26 six suspected yahoo boys were arrested in Ibadan, Oyo State, when operatives of the EFCC raided their hideout at the Kolapo Ishola Estate, Akobo area of the ancient city. Items recovered from the suspects include five different models of exotic cars, laptops, mobile phones.

– In May, the United States arrested 16 suspected internet fraudsters in several US cities, Canada and South Africa, majority of whom are Nigerians.

The 27 Yahoo Yahoo suspects arrested in Owerri

– On Wednesday 3 April, the Ibadan zonal office of EFCC arrested 11 suspected ‘Yahoo-Yahoo Boys’. Six of them were arrested at 2nd Pipeline, Ologunerun, Ibadan, while the other five were picked up at a location in Ijebu-Remo, Ogun State. Same day, the Oyo State special security outfit, Operation Burst, paraded two suspected yahoo boys after a woman jumped from a two-storey building in Ibadan, Oyo State to escape from Yahoo Boys who wanted to use her for ritual.

– On April 19, Police rescued a woman captured by Yahoo Boys for ritual in Asaba, Delta State.

Yahoo Yahoo boys arrested by EFCC in Osogbo

– On April 25, Ibadan zonal office of the EFCC arrested 32 Yahoo Boys. Items recovered from them include six exotic cars, laptops, mobile phones, several documents containing false pretences and fetish objects.

– On May 1, South-east Zonal Office of the EFCC arrested 37 suspects in Owerri, the Imo State capital. The arrest followed a raid on some targeted residences in Okwu Urata, Aladinma and Egbu areas. Items including 25 exotic cars of different brands such as Mercedez-Benz, Lexus, Toyota and expensive mobile phones and laptop computers were recovered.

18 Yahoo Yahoo boys arrested in Lagos

– On May 8, fifteen suspects between the ages of 18 and 30 were nabbed by the Port Harcourt Zonal Office of the EFCC in a late-evening raid on Blue Chip Hotels, Rumuigbo in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. Many laptop computers and phones were recovered from them.

– On May 17, The Abuja Zonal office of EFCC arrested ten suspects. 2 exotic cars 6 laptops, 10 smart phones and 1 international passport were recovered from them.

– On June 20, operatives of the Ibadan zonal office of EFCC arrested 31 suspects made up of 27 males and 4 females from their hideouts in Osogbo, the Osun State capital. Exotic cars of different brands, laptop computers and phones were also recovered from them.

Some of the cars seized from Yahoo Yahoo boys

– On July 10, thirty suspects aged between 18 and 27 were arrested when the Ibadan zonal office of EFCC raided some mansions in Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital. Eight exotic cars, laptops, mobile phones and several documents suspected to contain information used to access their victims were seized from them.

– On Sept.3, the Benin Zonal Office of the EFCC said it arrested no fewer than 133 internet fraud suspects in eight months through its ‘Operation Re-wire’. The biggest of the arrested suspects was a woman, who allegedly worked in collaboration with foreign counterparts. She was said to have amassed a princely N656million through the illicit trade. Her arrest was made possible with the collaboration of FBI.

– On Sept. 9, Operatives of the EFCC Abuja and Ilorin Zonal Offices arrested 13 suspects in separate operations. As usual, exotic cars and other items were recovered.

– On Sept. 26 and 27, the EFCC arrested no fewer than 53 suspects in Lagos, Abuja and Enugu. Cars of different brands, laptop computers, phones and charms were recovered from them.

– On 14 October, a staggering figure of 94 suspects were arrested when operatives of the Ibadan zonal office of EFCC raided a night club notorious for hosting parties for suspected internet fraudsters in Osogbo. 19 exotic cars, laptops, scores of sophisticated mobile phones and other items were recovered from them.

– On Friday, Nov. 15, seven yahoo boys were sentenced to various jail terms by Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court Enugu, Southeastern Nigeria.

– On December 4, again the Ibadan zonal office of EFCC raided a Lagos hotel believed to be a hideout for internet fraudsters and arrested a suspected internet fraud kingpin, Rasaq Balogun, and 26 others. Balogun’s illicit activities dominated intelligence gathered from previously arrested ‘police spies’ during a raid on their Abeokuta base. According to findings, Balogun harboured an army of young men recruited to carry out financial frauds through the use of internet.

Nigerian police officers patrol in the streets of Abuja during clashes with members of the shiite Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) on July 22, 2019.

4. Shiite Protest: On Monday July 22, a protest by members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) otherwise known as Shiite in the Nigeria’s capital of Abuja turned violent when the demonstrators clashed with security agents. Government vehicles including those owned by the emergency management agency were burnt by the aggrieved protesters. Many lives both of the Shi’ites, police officers and a young reporter undergoing the mandatory one year service under the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme, Precious Owolabi, were lost. Among the police officers who lost their lives in the violence was a deputy commissioner of police. It was alleged that the group threw petrol bombs as part of the protest. As a result, on the following Tuesday, the Inspector-General of Police (I-G), Mohammed Adamu ordered 24-hour surveillance on the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and its environs.

Ibrahim El-Zakzaky: leader of the Shiites still in detention

The Monday incident followed a similar protest two weeks before when two Shiites were killed and two police officers injured at the National Assembly complex in Abuja. The Shiites were demanding release of their leader, Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, and his wife, Zeenah, who have been in detention since their arrest by Nigerian soldiers for alleged murder in December 2015. During the arrest, his house was raided by soldiers and hundreds of his followers, including three of his sons were killed.

Obinwanne Okeke et al. posing for the camera: FBI arrests Forbes under 30 Nigerian Obinwanne Okeke for $12m fraud, Nigerians react

5. Obinwanne Okeke: The most shocking of the cases of internet frauds was that of the 32-year old billionaire Obinwanne Okeke, Chairman, Invictus Group, who prior to his arrest by the FBI, had been celebrated by the world as a role model to African youths. He made the cover of Forbes Africa magazine in 2016 and was listed as one of Africa’s Under 30s Most Promising Entrepreneurs. In December 2018, he was a guest speaker at TEDxYaba 2018, speaking on “the DNA of the Nigerian entrepreneur”. His recommendation was considered very inspiring even to the most laid-back youth. Hear him: “The success of a business is largely dependent on you as the owner. If there is any part of you that appears to be a limitation, don’t let it hold you back. Take deliberate steps to develop yourself to match your weakness, growth is continuous. Associate with people that will inspire you and are ready to support you. Develop these traits in the right proportion. Don’t be afraid to fail, be afraid not to try. Go for it. Start Something Today!”

Obinwanne Okeke: the young billionaire fraudster

Therefore, it was an embarrassed world that received the shocking news on August 16 of his arrest by the FBI. He was discovered to have fleeced companies in US and UK of hundreds of millions of dollars through wire frauds.

Obinwanne Okeke on Forbes Africa cover in 2016: everyone fails to pick the red flags

Nigerians, who were evacuated from South Africa after xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals, arrive at Lagos airport, Nigeria September 11, 2019.

6. Xenophobic attacks: The world was jolted in September when xenophobic attacks erupted again in South Africa with many nationals of African countries like Nigeria, Zambia, Gambia, etc lynched and their properties and businesses destroyed. The outraged world roundly condemned the acts of bestiality visited by South Africans on their fellow Africans. The unabated attacks on foreigners most of whom were Nigerians led to reprisal attacks on South African businesses in Nigeria. Such investments as the popular supermarket, Shoprite and the communication giant MTN Nigeria closed shop for days during the disturbance. Nigeria evacuated its stranded nationals from the hot land with assistance of Air peace Airline. It took strong messages and actions from notable leaders in the world and visit by Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari for the madness to stop. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa apologized to Nigeria.

Xenophobic: South Africans on the rampage

Omoyele Sowore

7. ‘#RevolutionNow’ and Sowore’s arrest: Omoyele Sowore, activist, presidential candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC) in the 2019 election and publisher of Shahara Reporters, an online news publication known for its investigative activities, was arrested along with a colleague, Olawale Bakare, on August 3 ahead of a planned nationwide protest tagged #RevolutionNow and charged with conspiracy to commit treason. Sowore had previously led a demonstration where he called for a revolution in the country. The video clip of the protest and his address went viral. The drama of his arrest; the granting of a bail with very stiff conditions; and the disobedience to court order by government months after meeting his bail conditions brought public opprobrium both from home and abroad on the Buhari administration. The outcry, especially from the international community, pressured the government to toe the line of reasoning by ordering his release from detention. He was therefore released on December 24, 2019 alongside former National Security Adviser, Retired Colonel Sambo Dasuki who had been in detention since December 2015 over an alleged laundering of $2.1billion money meant for arms purchase during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

Dasuki, Sowore: released Dec. 4

Boniface Igbeneghu on undercover film

8. Sex-for-grades: The menace was very rampant in 2019. Very many cases were recorded in the year. The biggest incident being an undercover investigation carried out, for more than a year, by the BBC on some randy university lecturers in Nigeria and Ghana. Its video, at conclusion of the investigation, was released on the BBC Africa Eye on Monday October 7. The video revealed a senior lecturer known as Dr Boniface Igbeneghu from the faculty of Arts, a former sub – dean in the University of Lagos (UNILAG) and the head of a local Foursquare Gospel Church harassing a female student sexually, promising good grades in return. Boniface was caught on camera telling his victim to ”Switch off the light, lock the door and I’ll kiss you for one minute”.

DR Boniface Igbeneghu: ASUU member accused of sex-for-grade

Several students had alleged that they had been harassed by Dr Boniface, which made BBC send an undercover journalist to him, posing as a 17-year old secondary school graduate seeking admission, a trick he fell flat for. The University of Lagos (UNILAG) and Foursquare Gospel Church subsequently suspended him. Another lecturer of the university caught in the documentary was Samuel Oladipo, a lecturer in the department of economics. He was also suspended.

Taiwo Oloyede, Principal Assistant Registrar, communication unit of UNILAG on Wednesday 9 October confirmed that the university’s panel headed by Ayodele Atsenuwa, a professor and dean of the faculty of law, had suspended the two randy lecturers. The University of Ghana also suspended two of its own indicted by the famous documentary. The two lecturers are Professor Ransford Gyampo and Dr Paul Kwame Butakor.

Again on Wednesday November 13, Vice Chancellor of the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Port Harcourt, Prof. Ozo-Mekuri Ndimele, disclosed that a lecturer had been dismissed, while 10 others were suspended over the allegation of demanding cash or sex for grades from desperate students in the university. He made the disclosure when the Rivers State House of Assembly committee on Education led by Christian Ahiakwo visited the institution as part oversight function. These incessant cases have led the National Assembly to propose an Anti-Sexual Harassment Bill aimed at deterring and punishing offenders. The bill sponsored by Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege seeks to jail a lecturer for up to two years if he or she winks at or touches a student in an inappropriate way. In the case of sex with minors, even if the student consents to it or lures the lecturer into it, the lecturer is liable.

Aisha and Muhammadu Buhari

Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq: the woman President Buhari was rumored to have chosen as second wife

9. President Buhari’s phantom marriage: On October 11, the news spread across the length and breadth of Nigeria like wild fire in harmattan that the Nigeria’s number one citizen who was less than 4 years away from age 80 had decided to marry one of his younger ministers, Sadiya Farouq, as second wife. A wedding invitation card with photograph of the President and that of the 45-year old Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management & Social Development standing by each other accompanied the fake news published by some mischief makers on social media. Absence of immediate denial from both the number one family and the concerned woman helped to keep flame the rumour blazing across the country. It took days before Nigerians realized it was a hoax.Andy Ruiz Jr v Anthony Joshua 2 - Clash on the Dunes, IBF, WBA, WBO & IBO World Heavyweight Title Fight

 

Anthony Joshua: A pride of Nigeria

10. Anthony Joshua: On Saturday December 7 the Nigerian-born British boxer Anthony Oluwafemi Olaseni Joshua ended major events of 2019 on a happy note for Nigeria when he became a two-time world heavyweight champion following his victory over the Mexican-American Andy Ruiz Jr in a tense rematch in Diriyah, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He had lost the belt to Ruiz in June. He outclassed Ruiz to score a unanimous points victory to regain his IBF, WBA and WBO titles in emphatic fashion. He dominated the match from the onset. Dubbed the “Clash on the Dunes”, the eagerly anticipated rematch marked the first time a world heavyweight title fight has ever been staged in Saudi Arabia. It was clearly a classic win.

The 2012 Olympic champion revealed he had adapted his style after June’s loss to Ruiz for the first time in his career. It was a moment of excitement for all Nigerians both at home and abroad with President Muhammadu Buhari leading the pack of notable figures who showered encomiums on the awesome pugilist. Joshua is a British boxer with Nigerian roots. His both parents are from Ogun State, Southwest Nigeria. He visited Nigeria in July and spent weeks before returning to the UK. He was born on 15 October 1989, and has, since the sweet victory, been ranked as the world’s best active heavyweight by BoxRec.

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