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Richard Assheton

Ikeja, Nigeria
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About Richard
Richard Assheton is West Africa correspondent for the Times of London, based in Lagos. I am an experienced news editor and reporter in international print and digital media and give regular phone-in interviews for international TV and radio. I work on a freelance basis and am available for writing, reporting and copy-editing projects as well as photography and media training. I am British.
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Disgraced Nigerian bank chief accused of hiding £543m in the UK

26 Dec 2023  |  www.thetimes.co.uk
Nigeria’s former central bank governor, Godwin Emefiele, is accused of hiding £543 million in UK accounts and stealing £5 million from the bank's vaults. An investigation revealed he maintained 593 bank accounts across the UK, US, and China. Emefiele allegedly colluded with finance ministry associates to embezzle central bank loans, inflate costs of a failed cash note redesign, and misappropriate funds approved by the president.

Knife-wielding muggers attack tourists on Table Mountain

14 Dec 2023  |  www.thetimes.com
Table Mountain in South Africa has seen a surge in knife-wielding robberies targeting tourists, walkers, and cyclists, with over 80 muggings and a suspected murder recorded this year. In response, Cape Town’s city hall and South African police have increased patrols, deploying 80 security staff and twelve rangers to the area.

Russia’s African sphere of influence sealed with Niger junta deal

06 Dec 2023  |  www.thetimes.com
Niger’s junta has formalized a military co-operation agreement with Russia, marking the completion of Russia's influence in the Sahel region. The agreement was signed following meetings between a Russian delegation led by Colonel General Yunus-Bek Yevkurov and Niger's junta leader General Abdourahamane Tiani in Niamey. This development underscores Russia's expanding geopolitical reach in Africa.

Nigeria: Army drone strike accidentally kills at least 85 civilians during Muslim festival

05 Dec 2023  |  The Irish Times
At least 85 civilians were killed in a Nigerian army drone strike during a Muslim festival in Tudun Biri, Kaduna state. The strike, intended for terrorists, inadvertently hit villagers celebrating Maulud. Survivors and local reports indicate that the army has met with village elders and promised compensation. President Tinubu and Kaduna state governor Uba Sani have expressed grief and committed to an investigation and prevention of future incidents. Nigeria's northwest has seen an increase in violence, with the military conducting regular air strikes against Boko Haram jihadists and militants. Past incidents of civilian casualties during military operations have raised concerns about human rights abuses.

Niger repeals law banning migrant trafficking in blow to EU

28 Nov 2023  |  www.thetimes.com
Niger's military government has repealed a 2015 law banning people-smuggling, potentially leading to an increase in African migrants traveling to Europe via the Sahara. The junta, which took power in a July coup, announced that all convictions under the law would be quashed and those imprisoned would be considered for release. Smugglers in Agadez, a key transit city, are expected to quickly resume operations.

Zimbabwean ranger brings unloved painted dogs back from brink

21 Nov 2023  |  theguardian.com
Jealous Mpofu, a Zimbabwean ranger, has been recognized by the charity Tusk as its ranger of the year for his 25-year effort in conserving painted dogs, an endangered species in southern Africa. Mpofu, who grew up near Hwange National Park and once worked as a casual laborer, became the first ranger for Painted Dog Conservation, founded by Peter Blinston. Despite challenges, including the dispersal of Hwange's last pack in 2006, Mpofu's dedication led to the successful rehabilitation and release of painted dogs, with one female raising up to 30 puppies. Mpofu, who leads a team of six rangers, is known for his intimate knowledge of the dogs and his anti-poaching efforts. His work has allowed him to support his family and community, and he plans to use the £30,000 grant from the award to benefit both his family and the painted dogs.

China opens school in Tanzania to train leaders ‘how to be despots’

16 Nov 2023  |  www.thetimes.co.uk
China has established its first government school in Africa, the Mwalimu Julius Nyerere Leadership School in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, with the aim of training African leaders in the Chinese model of governance. The curriculum includes 'Xi Jinping thought', propaganda, and party discipline, reflecting the Chinese Communist Party's influence on the continent.

President budgets £5m for yacht as Nigerians struggle with austerity

14 Nov 2023  |  www.thetimes.co.uk
President Tinubu of Nigeria is facing criticism for allocating £5 million for a presidential yacht within a £2.3 billion supplementary budget, which also includes £29 million for his presidential villa and £13 million to upgrade the presidential fleet of planes. This comes as 60 percent of Nigerians live in poverty and are experiencing a cost of living crisis with soaring costs and a depreciating naira.

Oscar Pistorius can apply for parole, court rules

10 Oct 2023  |  www.thetimes.co.uk
Oscar Pistorius is eligible to apply for parole after South Africa’s highest court ruled in his favor, potentially leading to his release a decade after the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. His previous parole attempt was unsuccessful due to not having served half of his sentence, but the constitutional court has now determined he met this requirement by March 21 this year. The Correctional Services Department is reviewing the court's decision to determine the next steps.

Seychelles opposition leader charged with witchcraft

03 Oct 2023  |  thetimes.co.uk
Patrick Herminie, the main opposition leader in the Seychelles, has been charged with witchcraft alongside seven others following the discovery of two exhumed bodies in a cemetery on Mahé island. Herminie, who intends to run for president, denies the charges and suggests the case is a political witch-hunt against him, stemming from his contact details being found in a fellow suspect's WhatsApp messages. The fellow suspect, a Tanzanian, was arrested at the Seychelles' main airport with various items described as satanic.

EXCLUSIVE: Palestinian rights activist wins legal fight over 'terrorism' database

02 Oct 2023  |  Middle East Eye
Majed al-Zeer, director of the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC), won a legal battle to remove his name from the World-Check financial database's terrorism category, receiving £10,000 in damages. The case highlights accusations against the Israeli government for politically motivated listings. The PRC, recognized by the UN, continues to face challenges despite the legal victory. The article underscores the broader implications of such databases on Palestinian rights and the ongoing conflict with Israel.

Trojan Horse schools affair: Did UK minister mislead parliament?

02 Oct 2023  |  Middle East Eye
The Cabinet Office is investigating claims that former UK Education Secretary Nicky Morgan misled parliament regarding the Trojan Horse affair, a controversy involving alleged attempts to Islamicise Birmingham schools. John Holmwood, a sociology professor, asserts that Morgan's department omitted crucial evidence in a report presented to parliament. The report, commissioned by Michael Gove and authored by Peter Clarke, has been criticized for inaccuracies and for failing to consider exculpatory evidence. Caroline Lucas has endorsed Holmwood's allegations, forwarding them to Prime Minister Theresa May. The affair has influenced government counter-extremism strategies, despite many of the initial claims being disputed or overturned.

Nigerian sisters rescued after criticism over ransom crowdfunding

01 Oct 2023  |  www.thetimes.com
Five Nigerian sisters kidnapped from their home in Abuja have been rescued after their family faced criticism for crowdfunding to pay their ransom. The sisters, aged from early teens to 23, and their father, Mansoor Al-Kadriyar, were taken on January 2 during a raid that resulted in the deaths of their uncle and three policemen. A sixth sister, Nabeeha Al-Kadriyar, was killed by the captors when the family failed to pay her ransom in time.

Sajid Javid: How far have we come?

01 Oct 2023  |  Middle East Eye
Sajid Javid, Britain's home secretary and a potential future prime minister, is a prominent figure with a background that includes significant achievements in both finance and politics. Despite his Muslim heritage, Javid's political stance often diverges from the broader British Muslim community, particularly in his support for Israel and opposition to the BDS movement. His career reflects a blend of admiration for Margaret Thatcher and alignment with neoconservative ideologies, as evidenced by his connections to the American Enterprise Institute. The article highlights the complexities of Javid's identity and political affiliations, noting his ambition and the challenges he faces within the Conservative Party.

Street Child education helped me after falling into the hands of traffickers

01 Oct 2023  |  www.thetimes.co.uk
Ebele, a single mother from Benin City, Nigeria, fell victim to human traffickers after being lured by the promise of work in Italy. She endured severe hardships, including imprisonment and abuse in Libya, before being repatriated by the United Nations. Upon her return, the charity Street Child, in collaboration with Girls’ Power Initiative, provided her with vocational training, enabling her to start a salon business. Despite recent setbacks, including a fire and theft, Ebele continues to rebuild her life. The article highlights the critical role of charities like Street Child in supporting trafficking survivors.

Singer comfortable in her own skin hails ban on whitening creams

01 Oct 2023  |  www.thetimes.co.uk
Mani Bella, a Cameroonian singer, celebrates Cameroon’s recent ban on toxic skin-whitening products, reflecting on her own experience with harmful bleaching creams. The ban addresses the widespread use of these products in Africa and Asia, which often contain dangerous chemicals like mercury, leading to severe health issues including rashes and cancer.

Burkina Faso soldiers accused of executing children

01 Oct 2023  |  www.thetimes.co.uk
Burkina Faso has expelled journalists from Le Monde and Libération following an investigation into soldiers executing children. The military junta, which took power last year, gave the journalists 24 hours to leave, marking a significant blow to press freedoms. Le Monde's director, Jérôme Fenoglio, condemned the expulsions as a major setback for journalism in the country.

Attenborough’s long-beaked echidna rediscovered in Indonesia

01 Oct 2023  |  www.thetimes.com
The long-beaked echidna, named in honor of David Attenborough, has been rediscovered in Papua, Indonesia, by a team of scientists from Oxford, Royal Holloway, UNCEN, and Mendel universities. The expedition, led by James Kempton, faced numerous challenges but ultimately captured video evidence of the elusive creature. The team also discovered new insect species, two new frog species, and rediscovered Mayr’s honeyeater. The findings highlight the rich biodiversity of the Cyclops Mountains and underscore the urgent need for conservation efforts in the region, which faces threats from palm oil production and habitat encroachment.

'He looks like Bin Laden': Ex-cop accuses UK police of racism over airport stops

01 Oct 2023  |  Middle East Eye
British police have been accused of racially and religiously profiling Black and Asian passengers at airports under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000. Kevin Maxwell, a former counterterrorism officer, revealed that discriminatory practices were incentivized to meet performance targets. His memoir, 'Forced Out,' details systemic racism and Islamophobia within the Metropolitan Police's counterterrorism unit. The article also discusses a recent case where a woman was coerced to remove her hijab, leading to a human rights violation ruling. Despite official denials, Maxwell's account raises questions about the legality and fairness of Schedule 7 stops.

Nigerians feel brunt of economic shakeup

16 Jun 2023  |  theguardian.com
Nigerian President Bola Tinubu's new economic policies, including the removal of a petrol subsidy, ejection of the central bank governor, and floating of the naira, have led to a surge in living costs and widespread criticism among Nigerians. The policies have been praised by foreign investors and have resulted in the highest stock levels in 15 years, but have also led to increased inflation and economic strain for citizens. The national domestic security agency arrested the former central bank governor, and the devaluation of the naira and removal of the fuel subsidy are causing inflation. Some Nigerians are adapting by walking to work or staying at work overnight, and there is a call for Tinubu to reduce government spending. Analysts see the potential for long-term stability and investment, but immediate challenges remain for the population.

Romance, strife, and broadcasting rights: African telenovela goes global

21 May 2023  |  theguardian.com
African telenovelas are gaining global popularity, with Nigeria's 'Itura' and South Africa's 'Legacy' leading the charge. These shows are now being dubbed into Spanish for Latin American audiences, challenging the long-standing dominance of Latin American telenovelas. MultiChoice and its streaming service Showmax are key players in this trend, broadcasting these series through Africa Magic channels in various languages. The success of these telenovelas is attributed to their quality, cultural resonance, and the use of talent from the prolific Nollywood film industry.

Military races to evacuate Britons as ceasefire deadline looms

26 Apr 2023  |  www.thetimes.co.uk
British citizens in Sudan have been alerted to the limited availability of evacuation flights as concerns grow over the potential resumption of conflict after a US-brokered ceasefire ends. The RAF is working to evacuate 500 citizens daily from an airfield near Khartoum, with the ceasefire due to expire at midnight on Thursday. British officials are seeking alternative evacuation routes, with plans for a reception center near the Egyptian border. HMS Lancaster is en route to Port Sudan on the Red Sea to assist with the evacuation.

Wagner Group expands operations in Africa to boost Russia’s influence

11 Apr 2023  |  www.thetimes.co.uk
The Wagner Group, a private military company supporting the Russian army in Ukraine, is actively increasing its presence in Africa to enhance Russian influence. The group is employing military force and disinformation campaigns in Niger and Ivory Coast, diverging from its typical focus on unstable states. A recent video featured Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of Wagner and known as 'Putin's chef', alongside a former bus driver from West Africa.

Hero of Hotel Rwanda to be freed from 25-year terror sentence

24 Mar 2023  |  www.thetimes.co.uk
Paul Rusesabagina, known for saving over 1,000 lives during the Rwandan genocide and the inspiration for a Hollywood film, will be released from prison following a United States diplomatic intervention. His 25-year terrorism sentence has been commuted, with his expected release date being Saturday.

Wagner Group tightens grip in Central African Republic

24 Mar 2023  |  www.thetimes.co.uk
The Wagner Group, a Russian mercenary organization led by Yevgeny Prigozhin, has intensified its presence in the Central African Republic, supporting the regime of Faustin-Archange Touadéra. An attack on a French-owned brewery by individuals in Wagner military attire highlights the group's activities in Africa, where it has been described as President Putin's 'private army'.

‘Women get it done’: Ireti Kingibe, Abuja’s new senator, plans for progressive Nigeria

23 Mar 2023  |  theguardian.com
Ireti Kingibe, an engineer and wife of a former minister, has been elected as Abuja's new senator, representing the Labour Party. She plans to donate her salary to support policies aimed at wealth redistribution, improving access to water, health, education, and supporting farmers. Despite her progressive stance, female representation in Nigeria's parliament is declining, with Nigeria ranking 180th out of 186 countries for female parliamentary representation. Advocates like Abosede George-Ogan call for legislative action to increase women's participation in politics, citing financial barriers and violence as deterrents. Kingibe aims to push for more female representation within the Labour Party and establish a national lobby for women across parties.

Supermodel Georgie Badiel brings water to wartorn Burkina Faso

10 Mar 2023  |  www.thetimes.co.uk
Supermodel Georgie Badiel, a former Miss Africa, has returned to her homeland of Burkina Faso to provide drinking wells to nearly half a million people. Growing up, Badiel walked three hours daily to fetch water. Her humanitarian efforts are highlighted against the backdrop of the country's ongoing conflict. Her journey into modeling began when a stranger noticed her potential, leading to a successful career with brands like Louis Vuitton and Marc Jacobs.

Nigeria postpones state elections amid dispute over presidential vote

09 Mar 2023  |  the Guardian
Nigeria has postponed state elections by a week due to issues with reconfiguring a digital voting system, which had previously failed during the presidential elections. The opposition parties, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Labour Party, claim the presidential vote was rigged, leading to a court battle. The electoral commission's decision to delay the elections follows a court ruling that came too late to prepare the digital tablets used for voting. The Labour Party and PDP allege voter suppression and intimidation by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), which denies the accusations. The upcoming state elections are crucial, particularly in Lagos and Abuja, where Labour's Peter Obi performed well in the presidential vote. Key figures include APC's Bola Tinubu and incumbent Lagos governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who faces a strong challenge from Labour's Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour.

The straight arrow who aims to be the Robin Hood of Lagos

05 Mar 2023  |  www.thetimes.co.uk
Rhodes-Vivour, a candidate with a diverse educational background including a master's from MIT, aims to transform Lagos by tackling its infrastructure challenges and corruption. He plans to introduce a belt road, a railway, and an affordable property scheme, as well as publish the state's financial accounts and develop an AI-backed planning portal. Despite the challenge posed by the newly elected president Bola Tinubu, Rhodes-Vivour is determined to change the political landscape without succumbing to existing power structures.

Shell is sued over oil spills in Niger Delta

02 Feb 2023  |  thetimes.co.uk
Shell faces a lawsuit from over 13,000 individuals affected by oil spills in the Niger Delta, Nigeria. The claims, representing two communities totaling over 65,000 people, seek compensation and a potentially unprecedented oil clean-up. The legal battle, initiated in 2015, reached the UK Supreme Court in 2021, which allowed the case to be heard in England.

Peter Obi, the 61-year-old ‘youngster’ who wants to clean up Nigeria

07 Jan 2023  |  www.thetimes.co.uk
In Lagos, Nigeria, the presidential campaign of Peter Obi, an outsider candidate, has gained significant momentum, demonstrated by a large turnout of supporters during a march on Nigeria's Independence Day. The event, which took place near the Lekki tollgate, a site of a previous massacre, was filled with thousands of Obi's supporters, indicating his emergence as a serious contender. Obi, 61, promises to tackle corruption and authoritarianism, with tech consultant Chijioke Chuwunyere expressing optimism about the opportunity for change.

Kenyan Gayright Activist, Edwin Chiloba’s Partner Confesses To Killing And Disposing His Body Over Allegations That He Cheated On Him (video)

06 Jan 2023  |  sundiatapost.com
Kenyan police have arrested Jackton Odhiambo, the main suspect in the murder of LGBTQ activist Edwin Chiloba, who confessed to killing Chiloba over allegations of infidelity. Three additional suspects were detained for assisting in disposing of the body. The investigation revealed that Chiloba was strangled, and his body was found in a metal box. The incident has drawn attention to the challenges faced by LGBTQ individuals in Kenya.

Facing new laws, Nestlé offers £1bn to keep children out of chocolate trade

20 Nov 2022  |  www.thetimes.co.uk
Nestlé has pledged £1bn to combat child labor in the cocoa industry, particularly in Ivory Coast, where 1.5 million children are believed to work in cocoa fields. The initiative aims to improve the livelihoods of cocoa farmers, who often resort to using child labor due to low profit margins. The article highlights the financial struggles of cocoa farmers and Nestlé's efforts to address these issues.

Nigeria urges millions who fled Boko Haram to return home

30 Oct 2022  |  www.thetimes.co.uk
Tosin Oshinowo, a London-educated architect from Lagos, has transformed a former Boko Haram stronghold into a modern village with solar street lights and color-coded roofs. The unveiling of the new Ngarannam, which was previously destroyed by Nigeria's military, was marked by a significant event despite the challenges of the jihadist insurgency in the area.

Elephants trumpet as mother gives birth live on Facebook video

23 Oct 2022  |  www.thetimes.co.uk
An elephant birth in Kruger National Park, South Africa, was captured on video and shared on Facebook. Adam Fillmore described the event as amazing and noted the electric atmosphere created by the herd's trumpeting. The video shows the mother elephant giving birth to a calf, which is then nudged awake by its mother and other female elephants.

Globe-trotting botanists beaten to death and fed to crocodiles

04 Oct 2022  |  www.thetimes.co.uk
Rod and Rachel Saunders, world-renowned botanists featured on BBC2, were kidnapped and murdered after their appearance on the show. They were known for their dedication to finding rare plants in South Africa's Drakensberg Mountains. The couple, aged 74 and 63 respectively, were bludgeoned to death and their bodies were disposed of in a river.

Singer comfortable in her own skin hails ban on whitening creams

23 Sep 2022  |  www.thetimes.com
Mani Bella, a Cameroonian singer, celebrates Cameroon’s recent ban on toxic skin-whitening products. After experiencing adverse effects from these creams, Bella stopped using them and now advocates against their use. The ban reflects growing awareness of the health risks associated with skin-bleaching products, which are widely used in Africa and Asia and often contain harmful chemicals like mercury.

Nigeria becomes first country to ban foreign models in adverts

26 Aug 2022  |  thetimes.co.uk
Nigeria's advertising regulator has announced a ban on the use of foreign models and voiceover artists in adverts, effective from October, as part of a policy to develop local talent. Previously, companies were charged a tariff for using foreign models, positioning Nigeria as a strict environment for media representation.

Biggie Brother is watching and Nigerians are watching back

07 Aug 2022  |  www.thetimes.co.uk
A man in a slick suit announced the eviction of a housemate on the Nigerian version of Big Brother, which has been a popular show since 2017. Despite recent news about a potential British comeback, the focus remains on the local production, which continues to grow in scale. Beauty, a contestant, was disqualified for property damage and alcohol abuse.

Bushmeat banned as Nigeria tries to quell monkeypox

03 Jun 2022  |  www.thetimes.com
Nigeria has banned the trade of bushmeat to curb monkeypox, a disease that has seen over 550 cases confirmed in at least 30 countries outside Africa, including 190 in Britain. Health officials have long warned of the risk of a global outbreak. Nigeria, the likely origin, has recorded nearly 600 suspected cases since 2017. Genome sequencing of a sample taken in Portugal is ongoing.

Wagner Group massacred 300 civilians in Mali, witnesses claim

06 Apr 2022  |  www.thetimes.co.uk
Mercenaries from the Kremlin-linked Wagner Group, alongside soldiers, allegedly executed about 300 civilians in Mali's Mopti region, burying them in mass graves. Witnesses reported that the mercenaries, described as 'white men speaking a bizarre language,' stormed the town of Moura on March 27, engaging in a gun battle with jihadists before detaining and executing men in small groups. Human Rights Watch has documented these claims, marking it as Mali's worst atrocity in a decade.

Maksim Levin: Reuters war photographer killed by Russian troops near Kyiv

03 Apr 2022  |  thetimes.co.uk
Maksim Levin, a photojournalist and documentary filmmaker whose work appeared in The Times, was killed by Russian soldiers in Huta-Mezhyhirska, north of Kyiv. The 44-year-old, who worked for LB.ua and contributed to Reuters, leaves behind a wife and four children. He was found shot twice amidst heavy shelling in the village. John Pullman of Reuters expressed that Levin's death is a significant loss to journalism.
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