#Some of the major events of 2021 in Nigeria

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January 26: Buhari finally changes service chiefs

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on January 26, 2021, appointed new service chiefs after the previous ones had served for nearly six years, the longest in recent history.

The former chiefs were the Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ibas; and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar. In an unprecedented move, however, they were all appointed as ambassadors.

February 17: Kagara students’ abduction

On 17 February 2021, bandits attacked a school in Kagara, Niger State, abducting 27 students and killing one pupil in the process. This would be the first major attack on a school in 2021..

February 26: Abduction of Jangebe students

On February 26,  bandits abducted 279 schoolgirls at Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe in the Talata-Mafara Local Government Area of Zamfara State. The bandits, who pretended to be security operatives, arrived in the school around 1am in Hilux vehicles and motorcycles and forcefully evacuated the students from their hostels.

March 11: 39 more students kidnapped in Kaduna

The abduction of students in northern Nigeria intensified and on March 11, gunmen kidnapped 39 students of Federal College of Forestry Mechanization, Afaka, Igabi LGA, in Kaduna State. It was the third attack on a school by bandits in 2021.

April 18: Owerri jailbreak

While Nigerians were celebrating Easter Monday on April 18, by gunmen invaded the Owerri Correctional Centre and freed 1,884 inmates.

The armed group, which arrived in pickup trucks and on buses carrying rocket-propelled grenades, machine guns and rifles also attacked the Imo State Police Command headquarters in Owerri, and razed no fewer than 50 vehicles.

April 20: Abduction of 20 and killing of two Greenfield university students by bandits

On April 20, bandits also abducted 20 students and two workers at Greenfield University, Kaduna. About five of them were later killed while the rest were freed after reportedly paying a ransom. One of the parents of the victims said N180m was paid to the abductors of the university students kidnapped over a month ago.

He said a total of 10 motorcycles were also given to the kidnappers as part of the ransom to secure the release of the students. The Kaduna State Government, however, argued that paying ransom would only embolden bandits

May 16: Oshoala becomes first African to win Women’s Champions League

Super Falcons captain Asisat Oshoala became the first African woman to win the UEFA Champions League, after coming on in the 71st minute as Barcelona Femenino thumped Chelsea 4–0 in the final of Europe’s number one women’s football club competition.

The four-time African Women’s Footballer of the Year enjoyed a perfect year with Barcelona, helping them win the treble for the first time in the club’s history.

May 21: Chief of Army Staff, others die in air crash

On May 21, the country was thrown into mourning with the death of the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General, Ibrahim Attahiru, and 10 others. His death for weeks dominated conversations in the country. This was also fueled by the failure of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), to attend the funeral of the late army chief despite being in the country.

Attahiru who had barely spent five months in office died in the NAF Beechcraft B300 King Air 350i crash near Kaduna International Airport. While an interim report into the crash has been submitted, Nigerians await the final report which the Nigerian Air Force promised to make public.

May 25: CBN devalues naira

The Central Bank of Nigeria, on May 25, adopted the NAFEX or Investors and Exporters rate of N410.25 per dollar as the government’s official exchange rate. It made this know when it updated its website with the NAFEX rate, almost two weeks after it erased its previous official exchange rate of N379/$1 from the site. Consequently, the apex bank devalued the naira by 7.6 per cent.

This move was considered an effort by the government to unify the two exchange rates that exist in the country; the official and parallel market rates.  Reacting to the development, financial experts condemned the decision of the CBN, warning that the action would drive inflation and increase the poverty level in the country. Since the adoption, the NAFEX rate has oscillated and is currently pegged at N411/$1 on the bank’s official website.

May 30: 200 Islamiya students abducted

On May 30, at least, 200 students of an Islamiyya school located at Tegina in the Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State were abducted.

One person was said to have been shot dead while another was critically injured after gunmen carried out the kidnap operation at about 4.30pm. The victims remained in captivity for three months before they were released on August 26.

June 5. Prophet TB Joshua dies

The General Overseer of the Synagogue Church of All Nations, Prophet Temitope Joshua (popularly known as TB Joshua) died on Saturday, June 5, 2021, just seven days to his 58th birthday.

His death increased the church’s social media following by over 600,000 and the week-long burial which was held in July 2021, at the church in Ikotun, Lagos, was met by an outpouring of millions of testimonies and tributes from 195 countries of the world.

June 5: Nigeria suspends Twitter

On June 5, social media platform, Twitter, was suspended by the Nigerian government barely days after it deleted a controversial tweet by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari, (retd.). In a post in response to the incessant destruction of election offices in the South-East, Buhari threatened that he would speak to those misbehaving in a language they understood, a tweet that made reference to the Biafra war. The tweet which was perceived as a threat violated the Twitter violence rule which prohibits any user from threatening an individual or a group of people. The suspension took effect from June 5, when telecommunication companies barred Nigerians from accessing the platform.

This decision of the government was met with criticisms from the United States, the United Kingdom and human rights groups.

June 10: Buhari inaugurates Lagos-Ibadan railway service

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on June 10, 2021, inaugurated the commercial operations of the Lagos-Ibadan Railway project at the Mobolaji Johnson Railway Station, Ebute Metta, Lagos.

Buhari had described the feat “as another milestone in the drive of this administration to revitalise the railway system and establish it as a choice mode of transportation for both passengers and freight.”

June 17: Abduction of 80 Kebbi students

The abduction of students continued on June 17 when armed attackers killed a police officer and kidnapped at least 80 students and five teachers from the Federal Government College, Birnin Yauri in Kebbi State.

Thirty of the students were released four months later while five others and a teacher were rescued by the military. The fate of the others remains unknown till date.

June 29: FG announces Nnamdi Kanu’s arrest

Out of the blues, the Attorney General of the Federation and the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, on June 29 announced that international collaborative efforts with security agencies led to the arrest and repatriation of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, to Nigeria. He did not state the country or give details of his arrest.

Kanu had fled the country in September 2017 after an invasion of his home by the military in Afara-Ukwu, near Umuahia, Abia State. Although, the brother of the IPOB leader, Kingsley Kanu alleged that his brother was apprehended in Kenya and subjected to extraordinary rendition, a claim the Kenyan High Commissioner to Nigeria, Wilfred Machage, denied.

Ten Nigerian athletes — Knowledge Omovoh, Ruth Usoro, Favor Ofili, Rosemary Chukwuma, Glory Patrick, Yinka Ajayi, Tima Godbless, Chidi Okezie, Chioma Onyekwere and Annette Echikunwoke — who were to compete in track and field events, were disqualified July 28, two days before the start of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, by the Athletics Integrity Unit for failing to undergo mandatory tests ahead of the global sports event.

July 31: Another Tokyo shame: Okagbare suspended

On July 31, and with the country yet to overcome the shock of the disqualified athletes, Nigeria’s top medal hopeful, Blessing Okagbare, was also suspended for doping, after reaching the semi-finals of the 100m women’s event.

The AIU said the 32-year-old, a silver medallist at the Beijing edition of the Games in 2008, tested positive for a banned substance – human growth hormone.

August 16: Signing of the Petroleum Industry Act

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), gave assent to the Petroleum Industry Bill, transforming it into the Petroleum Industry Act on August 16, 2021.

The Presidential assent marked the end of about two decades of inaction, ambiguity, indecision, and under-investment in Nigeria’s petroleum industry due to the absence of the Act.

Experts and industry operators said the delay in the passage of the PIB stifled Nigeria’s petroleum industry, as it made investors to lose confidence in Nigeria at the time.

August 24: Invasion of NDA

On August 24, daredevil bandits invaded the Nigerian Defence Academy, Zaria, killing two officers identified as Lieutenant Wulah and Flight Lieutenant Okoronkwo. Another senior officer was abducted in the process.

October 17: Eagles lose first World Cup qualifier at home in 40 years

The Super Eagles suffered a humiliating home defeat in World Cup qualification on October 7 as the Central African Republic grabbed a last-minute winner for a shock victory at the Teslim Balogun stadium in Lagos.

It was the first time in 40 years that Nigeria lost a World Cup qualifying match at home, after the Eagles lost 2-0 to Algeria in Lagos in the qualifiers for Espana ’82 in 1981.

October 25: Nigeria launches eNaira

On Monday, 25th of October, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), launched the eNaira platform after the Central Bank of Nigeria had postponed the initial launch from October 1. According to the CBN, the eNaira is supposed to advance the boundaries of the payments system in order to make financial transactions easier and seamless for everyone.

November 17: Report of #EndSARS Lagos Panel

The Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Restitution for Victims of SARS Related Abuses and Other Matters, led by Justice Doris Okuwobi, in its report released on November 17, 2021, said at least nine persons were confirmed dead at the Lekki toll plaza on the night when soldiers stormed there to disperse #EndSARS protesters on October 20, 2020.

In the 309-page report by the panel, 48 names were listed as casualties of the incident. Among the 48, about 20 sustained gunshot injuries, while 13 others were assaulted by the military.

December 20: Buhari’s rejection of Electoral Act amendment bill

On December 20, 2021, after keeping the country in suspense for weeks, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), rejected the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill which was passed by the National Assembly. The bill contained innovations like electronic transmission of results and also increased the spending limit for election campaigns. However, the President in a letter to the National Assembly said he withheld assent to the bill because of a provision for the mandatory conduct of direct primaries by political parties.

–Compiled by Okechukwu Nnodim, Adelani Adepegba, Victor Ayeni, Deborah Tunde-Kolawole, Sami Olatunji, Temitayo Jaiyeola, Amarachi Orjiude, Solomon Odeniyi, Stephen Angbulu, Jonny Edward and Ebenezer Bajela

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