Secondary schools reopen in Nigeria

Chris Ewokor

BBC News, Abuja

Secondary school students work at their desks wearing masks

Secondary schools in Nigeria reopened on Tuesday for classes almost four months after they closed to halt the spread of coronavirus.

Final-year students now have just two weeks to prepare for their exams.

Face masks, social distancing and hand-washing facilities are mandatory within all schools, the education ministry says.

There are indications the government may be using this reopening to test-run the system for possibly opening all schools in Nigeria.

Nigerian police arrest pastor and local king over kidnap

Police in Nigeria's Imo state have arrested a preacher and a customary leader in connection to kidnappings and armed robbery, according to local media.

The pair were also reportedly accused, along with eight other people, of having a role in the deaths of two anti-drugs officials in the south-eastern state.

State Police Commissioner Isaac Akinmoyede was quoted as saying the group was found with 4.2m naira ($10,800, £8,200) in their possession.

Hard-hit Nigerian airline sacks dozens of pilots

Kunle Falayi

BBC Yoruba, Lagos

At least 70 pilots have been sacked at one of Nigeria’s main airlines, Air Peace, in a restructuring which the company says became important in order for the company to stay afloat.

The airline said it had two options: Either to sack and reduce the salaries of staff members who remained or be unable to pay salaries and fulfil other financial responsibilities. It chose the former.

Few weeks ago, the airline’s boss, Allen Onyema, called on the government to provide the aviation industry with bailouts to enable airlines stay afloat.

But airlines have not been included in the government’s $6bn (£43bn) Covid-19 stimulus plan which would see various sectors of the economy given access to loans to lessen effects of the pandemic.

A statement from Air Peace spokesperson, Stanley Olisa, said the review was first done in terms of pay cuts of between zero to 40% depending on the salary grades. But that was not enough to help the airline.

Even though domestic air travel has now reopened in Nigeria, the damage is already done.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) had said that for each month the aviation sector was closed, the industry in Nigeria was losing $77m.

SA's Shoprite retailer mulls quitting Nigeria

Nduka Orjinmo

BBC News, Abuja

Shoprite branch in Lagos
Getty Images
Shoprite is popular with Nigeria's upper-middle class population whose spending power have been impacted by the coronavirus

South African supermarket chain, Shoprite, says it is considering discontinuing its operations in Nigeria.

The retail giant which entered the Nigerian market in 2005, said it will consider to "sell all, or a majority stake" of its retail operations in the West African country.

In a statement released on Monday detailing its 2019 financial year that ended in June, the company said the decision was made “following approaches from various potential investors, and in line with our re-evaluation of the group’s operating model in Nigeria”.

It added that "Retail Supermarkets Nigeria Limited may be classified as a discontinued operation when Shoprite reports its results for the year."

Shoprite said lockdown restrictions because of coronavirus had impacted its operations in 14 African countries were sales declined by 1.4%, but its South African operations witnessed “significant growth”.

The retailer has also been battling currency-induced inflation surges especially in Nigeria were it was hit hardest.

South African retailers have struggled in Nigeria, Africa's largest economy, and if it leaves, Shoprite will join clothing outlets - Mr Price and Woolworths who exited the West African country after failing to get a foothold.

Last year, some branches of the supermarket in Nigeria were targeted as young people, allegedly motivated by a need for revenge, and fuelled by fake videos and photos of xenophobic attacks on social media, started looting and burning South African businesses.

Churches and mosques to reopen in Lagos

Chris Ewokor

BBC News, Abuja

Pastor and songwriter Dupe Olulana sings in an empty Hosanna Christian Ministries in Lagos, Nigeria - April 2020
Many religious services have been conducted online in deeply religious Nigeria

Nigeria’s commercial hub of Lagos - Africa’s biggest city - is to reopen places of worship in the coming week.

Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the state’s governor, said worshippers would be allowed back into mosques on Friday and churches next Sunday.

Religious centres have been closed since March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The governor hailed the reopening as a sign of progress in Nigeria's fight against Covid-19.

But restrictions will be in place - the mosques and churches will only be able to open once a week and operate at 50% capacity.

There have been more than 43,000 coronavirus infections in Nigeria and nearly 900 deaths.