Category: Nigeria

22-Year Term for Nigerian Who Joined Al Qaeda and Then Denounced It

Lawal Babafemi
Lawal Babafemi

Stephanie Clifford writes:

From one perspective, Lawal Babafemi was a propagandist for Al Qaeda who traversed several countries to join in jihad, and was plotting to carry out an important mission when he was arrested in 2011.

From another, he was a desperately poor Nigerian who was sexually abused as a child, was kept from graduating from college because of bureaucratic malfunctions, and faced torture by Nigerian officials after embracing and then turning away from terrorism.

On Wednesday, Mr. Babafemi was sentenced to 22 years in prison in Federal District Court in Brooklyn, having pleaded guilty in April 2014 to providing and conspiring to provide material support to a terrorist group. Federal sentencing guidelines called for a term of 24 to 30 years; the defense had asked for 15.

Mr. Babafemi told Judge John Gleeson that he was “extremely sorry” and that he now denounced Al Qaeda. His lawyer, Lisa Hoyes, noted that he had been advising another of her clients — who is in jail on charges of trying to join ISIS — to avoid terrorism.

“It’s hard to conjure a more serious offense,” Judge Gleeson said in handing down the sentence. He noted, however, that Mr. Babafemi’s recent denunciations of terrorism factored slightly in his favor. “I wish I had a better feel for how genuine it is,” the judge added.

Mr. Babafemi, about 35, was born in Nigeria. When he was 2, his parents separated — his father had several wives, Mr. Babafemi said in a letter to the judge. After that, he saw his father only three more times.

His mother hauled timber to a sawmill six days a week to support him and his four siblings, and “there were many cases of people dying in this forest due to the attack from the wild animals,” Mr. Babafemi wrote.

Mr. Babafemi was often left in day care or watched by older family members, and he was sexually abused by some of them until he was 10, according to a sentencing memorandum filed by Ms. Hoyes.

In Lagos, violent student groups known as cults shut down his college’s operations. After an identification mix-up, he had to repeat his first-year courses, and professors said they lost exams, so he did not get credit for some classes. Mr. Babafemi did not graduate despite paying for and attending for six years.

He married a childhood friend, a woman named Nike, in 2007, and tried to start a fish-farming business. Suppliers, however, lied to him about the species they sold, and power failures made maintaining fresh water for the fish impossible, the memorandum said.

Nike had a stillborn baby and several miscarriages before delivering two children.

In 2010, Mr. Babafemi went to Yemen, apparently wanting to join Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. He did not explain why.

Zainab Ahmad, an assistant United States attorney, said at the sentencing that Mr. Babafemi could have joined terrorist groups closer to home, but instead joined a group that was targeting the United States.


Un grupo armado secuestró a un ingeniero argentino en Nigeria

Santiago López Menéndez
Santiago López Menéndez

Un ingeniero agrónomo argentino fue secuestrado en Nigeria en extrañas circunstancias cuando se encontraba trabajando en un campo junto a un grupo de compañeros.

Se trata de Santiago López Menéndez, de 28 años, que hace más de un año trabaja en un campo de la empresa Four Mills of Nigeria.

Manuela, hermana del joven, relató al canal TN que Santiago estaba comenzando su jornada laboral junto a un grupo de granjeros locales cerca de las 10 de la mañana hora local (6 en Argentina) cuando un grupo de hombres armados llegó y lo secuestró solamente a él.

“Es una situación rara porque estaban ahí armando todo, y llegaron en moto, con armas automáticas, dispararon al aire, y se lo llevaron a él solo en la camioneta (de Santiago)“, comentó la mujer y agregó que la camioneta fue encontrada abandonada poco después.

Chinua Achebe, Nigerian author, was born today in history: 16 November, 1930

Chinua Achebe in 2008
Chinua Achebe in 2008

Chinua Achebe (/ˈɪnwɑː əˈɛbɛ/, born Albert Chinualumogu Achebe; 16 November 1930 – 21 March 2013) was a Nigerian novelist, poet, professor, and critic. His first novel Things Fall Apart (1958) was considered his magnum opus, and is the most widely read book in modern African literatura.
Raised by his parents in the Igbo town of Ogidi in southeastern Nigeria, Achebe excelled at school and won a scholarship for undergraduate studies. He became fascinated with world religions and traditional African cultures, and began writing stories as a university student. After graduation, he worked for the Nigerian Broadcasting Service (NBS) and soon moved to the metropolis of Lagos. He gained worldwide attention for Things Fall Apart in the late 1950s; his later novels include No Longer at Ease (1960), Arrow of God (1964), A Man of the People (1966), and Anthills of the Savannah (1987). Achebe wrote his novels in English and defended the use of English, a “language of colonisers”, in African literature. In 1975, his lecture An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” featured a famous criticism of Joseph Conrad as “a thoroughgoing racist”; it was later published in The Massachusetts Review amid some controversy.
When the region of Biafra broke away from Nigeria in 1967, Achebe became a supporter of Biafran independence and acted as ambassador for the people of the new nation. The war ravaged the populace, and as starvation and violence took its toll, he appealed to the people of Europe and the Americas for aid. When the Nigerian government retook the region in 1970, he involved himself in political parties but soon resigned due to frustration over the corruption and elitism he witnessed. He lived in the United States for several years in the 1970s, and returned to the U.S. in 1990 after a car accident left him partially disabled.
A titled Igbo chieftain himself, Achebe’s novels focus on the traditions of Igbo society, the effect of Christian influences, and the clash of Western and traditional African values during and after the colonial era. His style relies heavily on the Igbo oral tradition, and combines straightforward narration with representations of folk stories, proverbs, and oratory. He also published a number of short stories, children’s books, and essay collections. From 2009 until his death, he served as a professor at Brown University in the United States.