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25 Katsina based millionaires relocate to Niger Republic over fear of kidnapping

Many Nigerians residing in Katsina State have fled to neighbouring Niger Republic to escape persistent attacks by kidnappers and bandits, .

In addition to evacuating their family members, the Nigerians are also acquiring plots and building houses in Niger Republic’s towns of Maradi and Dan Issa.

This is even as some of them have obtained residence permit, allowing them to stay in the West African country.

Activities of kidnappers heightened recently in Katsina State, with many residents falling victims or being forced to pay large sums of money to secure the release of loved ones.

In December 2018, the state Governor, Aminu Masari, raised alarm that the state was under the siege of kidnappers.

Katsina’s neighbour, Zamfara State, has seen a spike in kidnapping and banditry over the years, with hundreds of lives lost in 2018 alone.

Most of the residents fleeing Katsina State are from Jibia Local Government Area, a community sitting on the border between Nigeria and Niger Republic.

A visit to Jibia and Magama, border towns, by our correspondent showed that most of those who moved to Niger spent the day running businesses in Katsina and only returned to Maradi or Dan Issa to pass the night. All their businesses and social life are based in Nigeria, but their new homes are in Niger.

Some of those interviewed attributed their reasons to the relative safety in the neighbouring country.

It was gathered that more than 25 Nigerian millionaires have moved to Niger. Some live in rented houses while others have built their own houses. Some of the rich men received threats before deciding to relocate.

It was also gathered that individuals in Jibia frequently changed phone numbers as a result of constant harassment from suspected criminals threatening their lives.

Although people were scared to discuss insecurity issues in the towns “for fear of informants” exposing them, the few that agreed to talk  on condition of anonymity said more people would relocate to Niger for safety if the security situation did not improve.

A wealthy individual who also sought anonymity said, “I can tell you about 25 of us are presently living in Niger Republic.

Ex-UK Secretary of State warns investors to be wary of Nigeria

Priti Patel, former Secretary of State for International Development in the United Kingdom (UK), has called on investors to be wary about investing in Nigeria.

In a short op-ed for City A.M., London’s first free daily business newspaper, Patel, a member of the UK parliament, said President Muhammadu Buhari has disrespect for “international law and convention, and court decisions”.

Patel, who visited Nigeria in 2017, alongside Boris Johnson, former UK foreign secretary, shared the experience of two Irish businessmen, who suffered from Buhari’s decision to renege on signed contracts.

THE FULL OP-ED IS REPRODUCED BELOW:

When the Nigerian finance minister visited London last week, she and her officials came to advertise Nigeria as a country that is open for business.

The minister, Zainab Ahmed, came to promote Nigeria’s $2.8bn Eurobond sale, which follows on from the Nigerian government’s oversubscribed $1bn Eurobonds sale in February 2017.

I am a supporter of economic investmentinto developing countries – open markets and capitalism have paved the way for poverty reduction around the world.

Many nations in Africa, including Nigeria, have benefited from investment over the years, and Nigeria’s Eurobonds could bring relief to its ongoing economic woes.

Over the last decade, the amount of UK foreign direct investment into Africa has more than doubled from £20.8bn to £42.5bn. This is good news.

However, as with all investments, investors should know of the corrosive effect of corruption, as well as the lack of transparency and associated difficulties of doing business in certain countries.

In Nigeria, the unhappy experience of the firm founded by two Irishmen, Process and Industrial Development (P&ID), is a case inpoint, and demonstrates the risk that businesses will face in Nigeria.

In 2010, P&ID signed a 20-year contract with the Nigerian government to create a new natural gas development refinery, but the project fell through after the Nigerian government reneged on its contractual commitments. Upon taking office, President Buhari promptly cancelled a compensation settlement, and has done his level best to pretend Nigeria’s obligations to P&ID do not exist.

Since Buhari reneged on this deal, P&ID has undertaken legal efforts to affirm a tribunal award, first decided in London. It also made several attempts in court to force the Nigerian government to respect its obligations.

The most recent court decision at a London tribunal confirmed that the Nigerian government owes P&ID almost $9bn for the initial breach of contract, loss of income, additional costs, and interest accrued after five years of non-payment.

However, the Nigerian government has continued to flout international law and convention, and it refuses to respect the various court decisions.

Investors must consider this long-runningscandal and weigh this obstinance against Nigeria’s mishandled economic potential.

Let us not forget that Nigeria is the only member of OPEC that is dependent upon petrol imports to keep the country going. Nigeria is ranked 145th in the world for its ease of doing business, which demonstrates the risks of investment into Nigeria.

Despite the President’s public anti-corruption platform, Transparency International has not seen any reduction in corruption since Buhari took office. In fact, the precise opposite has happened, with Nigeria falling 12 places between the 2016 and 2017 rankings.

President Buhari currently faces serious allegations, which include staging show trials of opponents of a regime that is accused of corruption and graft, while simultaneously shielding his own party members and inner circle.

We should all welcome international efforts to attract international investment into developing economies. However, to do this successfully Nigeria must seriously tackle corruption, rather than use it as a smokescreen. It must honour its obligations to companies like P&ID. Until then, investors inevitably will be very wary of investing in Nigeria.