A ray of hope shone brightly in the year 2021. It had been a year since the coronavirus pandemic had been put on hold, and the longing for pre-Covid normalcy was palpable. However, the year was littered with important news and conversations that were at times shocking, revealing, uplifting, and fascinating, and which kept us talking for days. Vanessa Obioha examines some of the news that shaped the year 2021.
Twitter is being blocked.
The suspension of Twitter activities in Nigeria by the Federal Government in June caused a stir. Following the removal of the President’s tweet condemning attacks on police stations, prisons, and INEC offices in the South-east, as well as a warning to perpetrators of such violence, which many deemed inappropriate and insensitive, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, announced that the government is suspending the m Nigerians, ironically, were the first to learn of the Twitter ban.
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Nigerians chastised the government for attempting to stifle free speech while also depriving many Nigerians who use the platform for business of a source of income.
The government defended them by claiming that Twitter was complicit in supporting violence in the country, citing the 2020 ENDSARS protest as an example.
Despite this, Nigerians used VPN to access the social media site, drawing the wrath of the country’s Attorney-General, Mr. Abubakar Malami, who threatened to jail Nigerians who used VPN to access Twitter.
Despite talks of negotiations to lift the ban, many people doubt that it will happen, given President Muhammadu Buhari’s difficult tenure.
Terrorists who have repented.
This was one of the news stories that made many Nigerians’ stomachs turn. Nigerians have criticized the army’s rehabilitation and reintegration of Boko Haram terrorists who surrendered into society through Operation Safe Corridor (OSC). Nigerians were not ready to forget the daredevils’ heinous crimes or the kidnapped Chibok girls who were forced into the family way by their captors. Even the ex-Boko Haram supporters’ forgiveness placards failed to elicit sympathy from Nigerians.
The main point of contention was whether or not repentant terrorists could be trusted. Many feared that they would be used as spies, and given the country’s current state of insecurity, this was not a wise strategy.
The Nigerian Defence Academy was attacked.
On Tuesday, August 24, Nigerians awoke to the shocking news that the Nigerian Defence Academy in Kaduna had been attacked.
The military university is no longer an open-to-the-public warehouse, which is why Nigerians were shocked to learn of the attack on the highly secure institution. Two officers were killed and one was kidnapped, according to reports. The incident occurred at a time when insecurity in the Northwest was at an all-time high.
The death of Abubakar Shekau.
The news of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau’s death was met with skepticism, as he had previously been declared dead. However, Shekau was declared the wanted leader in an audio recording by the rival group Islamic State-West Africa Province (ISWAP), who claimed that Shekau blew himself up to avoid capture. His death, however, had little to no impact in the North-east, where violence continued to spread like wildfire.
Plane crash involving Lt-Gen Ibrahim Attahiru.
Lt-Gen Ibrahim Attahiru died in a plane crash in May, just five months after being appointed Chief of Army Staff. The plane was reportedly about to land at Kaduna International Airport when it crashed. Bad weather was cited as the cause of the crash. While some have expressed doubts about the cause of the crash, many Nigerians were irritated by the president’s absence from the burial of the COAS and ten other top aides. Lieutenant General Yahaya Faruk has since taken his place.
The Fall of Abba Kyari, a Super Cop.
Former Deputy Commissioner of the Nigerian Police Force Abba Kyari, regarded as one of the best in the country, was humiliated when the US declared him wanted in July over a fraudulent case. It all started when Ramon Abbas, also known as Hushpuppi, admitted that Kyari took a bribe from him to arrest Vincent Chibuzor, a member of his cybercrime syndicate who betrayed him in 2020.
Kyari, desperate to save his reputation, posted on a now-deleted post that the money he received from Hushpuppi would be used to make native attire for him. The statement elicited a barrage of witty retorts from the public, who thought it was ridiculous. Kyari was suspended, and a team was formed to investigate his role in the US Federal Bureau of Investigation’s scam case (FBI). The team is expected to release their findings in the near future.
Obi Cubana’s Money Rain at Oba
Obi Cubana kept a low profile before the obscene display of money at his mother’s funeral, only knowing those who mattered in the social scene. However, the businessman born Obi Iyiegbu became the poster boy of affluence after his mother was buried in Oba, Anambra State. The rain of Naira at the ceremony was documented by celebrities in various viral social media posts.
This was not, however, the only headline the socialite made this year. He made headlines in early November after a three-day detention by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Abuja, where he was interrogated about alleged money laundering and tax fraud. Later, he was released on bail.
The club owner was in the news again this month after a customer was allegedly electrocuted in his Abuja club, Hustle & Bustle. The club, on the other hand, denied the story, claiming that the lady had simply tripped and fallen. Despite the fact that the club was temporarily closed, business has resumed.
Fete of the Grammys
Burna Boy and Wizkid won Grammys in March, making it a memorable month for the Nigerian music industry. Burna Boy’s album ‘Twice as Tall’ won the Global Music Album award.
Wizkid made similar progress while sharing the Grammy stage with American singer Beyoncé, whose song ‘Brown Skin Girl’ won Best Music Video.
More Grammy nominations are expected for Nigerian artists, including Femi Kuti and his son Made, Tems, Wizkid, and Burna Boy, who are all up for awards at the 64th Grammy Awards.
Sit-at-Home Order from the IPOB.
The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) may have made news headlines in 2021. Their agitations have resulted in a series of acts of violence in the Southeast. Following the capture of their leader, Nnamdi Kanu, the separatist group in the region issued a sit-at-home order, which resulted in violence and hunger. Their clout in some eastern states turned them into demigods who were feared and revered more than the affected states’ top citizens. While many people thought their protests were valid, they were chastised for their tactics.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has been appointed to the World Trade Organization (WTO).
When former Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was appointed Director-General of the World Trade Organization, she raised the Nigerian flag high. On March 1, she became the first woman and the first African to lead the organization.
The Visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to Imo State.
What was supposed to be a solemn presidential visit to the state in the south-east turned into a caricature of President Muhammadu Buhari’s attire. Nigerians on social media mocked the president’s trouser, which appeared to be too small for his tall frame. Memes of the president and the tailor who created his outfit flooded the internet, taking attention away from the president’s historic visit to the state.
Iniobong Umoren was assassinated.
The rape and murder of Iniobong Umoren, a University of Uyo Philosophy graduate who left her home for a job interview on the outskirts of Uyo, enraged Nigerians. Initially reported missing, Umoren was discovered raped and murdered by Uduak Akpan, a 20-year-old young man.
The serial rapist was said to have buried her in his father’s backyard in a shallow grave. Over 2000 women, including Ini Adiakpan, the Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, and other women in the state executive cabinet, rallied to protest her death and demand justice for Akpan, whose case has been postponed.
EndSARS ‘Massacre’ at Lekki Tollgate is causing controversy.
Any hope of a resolution from the Lagos State EndSARS Judiciary panel on the fated shooting at the Lekki Tollgate was dashed when the state government issued a White Paper refuting the claims of a’massacre.’ Many Nigerians were enraged and disappointed by the government’s claim that no massacre occurred at the tollgate, and governor Babajide Sanwo-request Olu’s for a peace walk with university students and celebrities was turned down by many.
A change of Service Chiefs has occurred.
The Buhari administration finally appointed new service chiefs after years of pressure from the Nigerian public and civil society organizations. General Leo Irabor was named Chief of Defence Staff, while Lt-Gen Ibrahim Attahiru was named Chief of Army Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo was named Chief of Naval Staff, and Air Marshal Amao was named Chief of Air Staff. Following a string of violence and kidnappings that began the year, Buhari made the appointment on January 26.
Prophet Temitope Joshua died.
On June 5, the sudden death of Prophet Temitope Balogun Joshua, also known as T.B. Joshua, the leader of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), sent shockwaves throughout the Christian world. The prophet, who was 57 at the time of his death, was remembered for his miracles that brought worshippers from all over the world to the Ikotun area of Lagos State. Many people did not expect the leadership squabble that ensued between his widow and some church members accused of misappropriating funds. The church, however, resumed services this month.
In Ikoyi, the 21-dtorey Building collapsed.
On November 1, tragedy struck in Ikoyi’s highbrow area when a 21-story building collapsed, killing 21 people, including Femi Osibona, the owner and CEO of Fourscore Homes. A total of 46 people were killed, with 15 people surviving.
However, the number of floors approved by Osibona was overshadowed by controversy. Initially, it was reported that Osibona received approval for a 15-story building, but that he went over his budget and used substandard materials. The deceased was said to have attempted to prevent the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA) from sealing off the structure in question.
However, according to a “preliminary investigation” conducted by the Nigerian Institution of Structural Engineers (NIStructE), the building was originally designed for six floors, then increased to twelve floors before being changed to fifteen floors. The Lagos State Government is investigating the collapse, and Governor Akinwunmi Ambode has promised to deal with saboteurs.
Prof. Chukwuma Soludo has been elected as the Governor-elect of Anambra.
The Anambra elections on November 6 made national headlines as the state’s major political parties fought tooth and nail for the top spot. Charles Chukwuma Soludo, the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), would win the election, defeating Andy Uba, who ran on the platform of the All Progressives Congress. However, it was Soludo’s victory that made history.
The low turnout of only 4.5 percent is the lowest in the country’s electoral history.
Home of Justice Mary Odili is raided.
On October 29, an attempted raid on Justice Mary Odili’s home was seen as a betrayal of the judicial system. Odili, the wife of former Rivers State governor Peter Odili and the Supreme Court’s second most senior justice, had her home invaded by security operatives who claimed they received a tip that criminal activities were taking place in the house. They were stopped, however, by vigilant security officials who detected a fish in the search warrant issued by an Abuja Magistrate Court.
Many theories have emerged since then about who was behind the raid, with some pointing to possible intimidation of the justices by powerful figures.
Usifo Ataga and Chidinma Ojukwu
The assassination of Super TV CEO Usifo Ataga by Chidinma Ojukwu was one of the most talked-about stories in 2021. Chidinma, a 21-year-old Mass Communication student at the University of Lagos, was arrested on June 23 for the murder of Usifo in a Lekki short-let apartment.
She and Quadri Adedapo were charged with murder before Justice Yetunde Adesanya of the State High Court in Lagos Island’s Tafawa Balewa Square. Egbuchu Chioma, her sister, has been implicated in the crime after the late Ataga’s iPhone 7 was discovered in her possession. Her case is still being heard.
Ooni of Ife and Evangelist Naomi’s Alleged Divorce
Evangelist Silekunola Naomi dropped a bombshell on Nigerians on Thursday, December 23, when she announced her separation from Ooni of Ife Adeyeye Ogunwusi. The prophetess denounced her Queen title on Instagram and clarified that she would not leave her three-year marriage because the Ooni married another queen.
However, it was reported shortly after the report went viral that the Palace is investigating a possible hacking of the Queen’s account. The Oba has yet to make a public statement on the split. Tadenikawo is the result of their union.
Bullying and Death in Oromoni’s World.
The tragic and untimely death of 12-year-old Sylvester Oromoni at Dowen College at the hands of bullies sparked a national conversation about bullying in schools. The school had previously denied that the victim had been bullied by a cult. Parents expressed their concerns about how schools should handle bullies while recounting their children’s traumatic experiences. The school was eventually closed down by the Lagos State Government, but the fact that suspects were granted bail before the investigation was completed has sparked outrage among Nigerians.