Women mark Leah Sharibu’s 16th birthday in captivity in Abuja …yesterday. PHOTO LUCY: LADIDI ATEKO
As families and well-wishers marked the 16th birthday of abducted Leah Sharibu yesterday, the Federal Government was urged to go the extra mile to secure her release from the captivity of Boko Haram terrorists.
The fresh call for Sharibu’s release was further reinforced by the arrival into the country on Monday of Zainab Aliyu, a Muslim girl who was arrested and detained in Saudi Arabia for alleged drug trafficking, but whose release was secured through the intervention of the Federal Government.
Sharibu was kidnapped on February 19, 2018 by the Boko Haram terrorist group from the Government Girls’ Science and Technical College (GGSTC), Dapchi, located in Bulabulin, Yunusari Local Government area of Yobe State.
After the deployment of the Nigerian Air Force and other security agencies to search for the girls with the hope of securing their release, the government announced on March 21, 2018 that the terrorists had returned 106 of the kidnapped children, excluding Sharibu.
Her parents later informed the Agence France-Presse (AFP) that the group would only release her if she converted to Islam.
Although the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed announced that the girls’ release was unconditional, the refusal of the terrorists group to release the girl on condition that she converts to Islam since last year has not ceased from generating reactions.
Shortly after the other girls were released, President Muhammadu Buhari expressed sadness over Sharibu’s situation and promised his government would not abandon her.
“The lone Dapchi girl, Leah, will not be abandoned. President Buhari assures the Sharibu family that he will continue to do all he can to ensure that they also have cause to rejoice with their daughter soon,” a statement from Garba Shehu, a presidential spokesman, had read.
The Bring Back Our Girls movement led by a former Minister of Education, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili, held a series of protests to demand her release as well as that of over 100 Chibok schoolgirls who have been in captivity for over 1, 500 days.
Her whereabouts have, however, remained unknown despite promises by the government to get her released.
To mark Leah’s birthday and celebrate her testimony of faith and resilience, several activities were lined up in Abuja, Jos and Lagos.
At the Abuja gathering yesterday, President of the Leah Sharibu Foundation, Dr. Gloria Samdi Puldu, called for the intervention of the wife of President Buhari, Aisha.
“I want to specifically call on the First Lady who is a woman with children, who has daughters, to please ensure she prevail on the president; plead with him, cry out to him as a mother that he should give Nigerians an inaugural gift of having Leah Sharibu set free,” Puldu said.
Reverend Gideon Para-Mallam, who is the founder of Citizens Monitoring Group (CMG), which works with Muslims and Christians in Nigeria, said it was sad that while other girls were free with their families in Dapchi, Leah remained a captive for the crime of having the courage to assert her conviction.
“Leah had the courage to say no when it was dangerous. This communicates courage, hope, faith, resilience, conviction which are ideal takeaway from Leah’s decision not to convert. This story did not come from Leah but one of the released girls who heard her said the words.”
Many Nigerians from across the world, who took to the social media yesterday to wish the girl a happy birthday, criticised the Federal Government for not doing enough to secure her release. Nearly 8,000 Nigerians were tweeting about Leah yesterday as early as 10:00 a.m.
Ezekwesili said the government was not taking the matter as seriously as it should because Sharibu, like the other girls, were from poor homes.
She wrote: “Nations are like human organisms. Nations can become diseased. Sadly, a people may not realize how injustice is a disease that eats up nations. A country that handles the abduction of the children of the poor with levity is unjust. What more does President Buhari need to hear?
“History will record that a young daughter of our country Leah Sharibu was left behind when her schoolmates were retrieved from terrorist abduction. She stood unwilling to negotiate her faith for freedom. President Buhari promised, yet Leah is still with terrorists. She’s 16 today. Tragic.”
Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe State, said: “Happy 16th birthday to Leah Sharibu. Never to be forgotten! You are in our thoughts and prayers. Many happy returns.”
The President, Evangelical Church of Wining All (ECWA), Reverend Baba Panya, stated that it had reached a point where assurances of the Federal Government over the release of Sharibu no longer meant anything to the church.
Panya, who made the comment yesterday after a prayer session organised to mark the girl’s birthday at ECWA church in Jos, Plateau State, said: “The best of the Federal Government is not the best; their best over this issue can only be appreciated if Sharibu is released from the captivity. We keep on reemphasising that if the Federal Government is able to negotiate the release of Zianab and other 101 girls, we don’t see why they should not be successful in the negotiation towards the release of Leah Sharibu.
“If the Lord still uses Nigeria government, glory be to Him, but in terms of really having confidence in the government, our confidence over this period has been eroded. We are calling on the international community to come in and do something, may be pressure from the international community will spur the government to do what it is supposed to do.”
Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) accused the Federal Government of double speaking and deception on the abducted Leah, urging President Buhari and the security forces to borrow a leaf from Britain on how well it has coordinated the search 11 years running of the then four-year-old Madeleine Mccann.
HURIWA, which challenged the Nigerian government to publish the records of how much it has spent so far in the rescue efforts, said it was “shameful that whereas Nigeria pretends to be practising constitutional democracy with transparency and accountability as the key principles just like what obtains in other democracies, including Britain, it has failed to render public account of the financial commitments it has made in the rescue of the hundreds of girls abducted by the armed Islamists of Boko Haram terrorists.”
Wondering why the Nigerian government does not copy the positive examples of Great Britain which periodically publishes public expenses on such cases, including the subsisting case of the then little Madeleine Mccann who disappeared in Portugal about 11 years ago, the group expressed regret that “the Nigerian government does not even seem to be making any concrete effort to free Leah Sharibu and the remaining Chibok girls.”
Secondary school pupils in Jos also organised prayers sessions to mark Leah’s birthday. The school children aged 10 to 16 years from four private schools–Unique Schools and College; Christ the Redeemers College Jos; Ebomi High School and Children Academy–came out to pray for Sharibu’s safe return.
The school children, who carried placards with various inscriptions encouraging Leah to continue holding on to her faith and urging her parents to be hopeful about her return, sang a birthday song for the abducted Leah.
Gov AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara has called on Nigerian youths to shun drug abuse and other vices that could hinder them from realising their lifetime ambitions.
AbdulRazaq made the call on Wednesday when he received members of the state chapter of Scouts’ Association of Nigeria (SAN), led by its Commissioner, Deacon Olabisi Afolayinka, at the Government House, Ilorin.
The governor, who recalled, with nostalgia, his days as a scout boy in Capital School, Kaduna, said that the organisation had contributed immensely to nurturing youths to become good citizens and contribute to the development of the country.
“This is an association that prepares youths on how to be good citizens and how to relate with their fellow countrymen.
He acknowledged the fact that the camp in Kubwa, was faced with infrastructure challenges, adding that efforts would be made to amendments it and bring succour to the corps members.
“The council, in its capacity, alongside the management of the scheme, would meet and discuss how it would make the development feasible including our best effort to add a little raise to their allowance,” Gabaya said.
Earlier, the NYSC FCT Coordinator, Mrs Waleeda Isa, said the visit was to acquaint its officials with the new administration of the council as host of the orientation camp.
Isa decried the sorry state of infrastructure at the NYSC camp, saying “their lodge in the camp is dilapidated and needs attention”.
“Also, it would go a long way for those who serve under the council, if your administration can kindly add a little to their allowance to augment what the Federal Government is giving them.
“We will be honoured if you make these efforts so that we feel your presence and know that you have us at heart,” she said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the NYSC 2019 Batch B’ corp members have reported and would be inaugurated at the orientation camp on Aug. 22.
THE Lagos State Government says it has completed yet another Maternal and Childcare Centre (MCC) located in Eti-Osa Local Government Area of the state to increase residents’ access to qualitative maternal and child healthcare.
The state Commissioner of Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, made this known on Wednesday in Lagos during an advocacy meeting with community leaders and residents of Badore.
Abayomi was represented by the Director of Projects, Ministry of Health, Dr Olusola Oduwole.
He said that the continuous implementation of strategic maternal child survival interventions, policies, programmes and projects by the government was geared toward the reduction of maternal and child mortality in the state.
According to him, the local and national statistics of maternal and child mortality and morbidity rate are of utmost concern to the government hence, the adoption of various strategies to combat it.
“One of these strategies is the construction of MCC, a specialised healthcare centre for mothers and children.
“It is aimed at taking maternal and child healthcare closer to the people by reducing the travel time and improving the quality care to the highest possible standard,” the commissioner said.
Abayomi said that the MCC was located on Ogombo Road along Abraham Adesanya Estate in Eti-Osa local government area.
According to him, the facility is a four-floored 110-bed complex designed to respond to maternal and child health issues.
“It will provide quality services for the restoration, improvement and promotion of the health and well-being of women, babies and children in the local government area and adjoining communities.
“It has two theatres where surgeries can be done; consulting rooms; treatment rooms, antenatal and postnatal wards; baby nursery; pharmacy, laboratory and offices, among others,” he said.
Abayomi said that the construction of MCCs in the state was designed to stem the tide of maternal deaths which occurred as a result of delivery by unskilled birth attendants, haemorrhage, infection, obstructed labour and malaria, among others.
He said that women should not die in the course of life procreation process.
“The concept of the construction of MCCs was mooted with the conviction that these interventions will impact positively on the health indices of our mothers and children who constitute a significant percentage of clients attended to at public health facilities.
“The Eti-Osa MCC will commence operation before the end of the week and will serve as a referral centre to all primary health facilities in Eti-Osa local government and accompanying communities.
“It will yield the much desired and anticipated impact towards the reduction of maternal and child mortality in the area,” the commissioner said.
THE Association of Resident Doctors, Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba, has resolved to continue its ongoing indefinite strike demanding for optimal mental healthcare for patients.
The President of the association, Dr Afeez Enifeni, said in a statement on Wednesday, in Lagos, that the strike would continue until the management addressed the work experience of the overworked doctors.
Enifeni said that the doctors had on Aug. 19 held a meeting to review the current industrial action.
She said the organisation made use of Community Oriented Resource Persons (CORPs) as volunteers, 124 Lower Level Health Facility Workers, 340 Faith and community leaders, and two local partners; Ohonyeta CareGivers and Jireh Doo Foundation, during the intervention.
Adah-Ogoh appealed to relevant authorities in Nigeria to conduct continuous capacity building for community development committees to strengthen advocacy at local government levels.
He further appealed for the provision of potable water and good roads in the rural areas for improved health and human capacity building.
In his goodwill message, the Country Director of the NGO, Mr Charles Usie, commended the Benue Government for providing a conducive environment for the effective implementation of their projects over the years.
Usie appealed to the government to ensure that available data is made available at all local government areas for effective usage.
He said the project has ensured availability of drugs and improved healthcare delivery in the remote areas where hitherto had access to no medical facilities.
The Executive Secretary, Benue Health Insurance Agency, Mr Tony Egwa, said the state was in receipt of N1.7 billion federal government counterpart funding for the upgrade of 273 primary healthcare centres in the state.
Egwa said the counterpart funding was possible following the earlier N100 million counterpart fund paid by the state government.
He explained that each of the 273 council wards would benefit from the upgrade of a single primary healthcare centre.
He said that funds would also be used for the eradication of malaria in the state and pledged that the state would improve on the intervention of Christian Aid (UK) Nigeria.
The state Commissioner for Health and Human Services, Dr Sunday Eligwu, commended the organisation for their intervention in childhood illnesses.
Eligwu, who was represented by the State Director of Public Health, Dr Terna Kor, said the state government was planning to establish community-based health insurance programmes across the state for improved health.
On his part, Gov. Samuel Ortom, appealed to the NGO to workout modalities so as to carry out similar interventions in the remaining 19 local governments in the state.
Represented by his Special Adviser on Special Duties, Mr Joseph Odaudu, he said the government was ready to facilitate all their projects in the state in every possible way.
“We are ready to partner with you. We will facilitate all your projects in the state because every life saved is worthwhile,’’ Ortom said.
He said that myxedema was the name for severe, untreated hypothyroidism, noting that it can result in a medical crisis known as myxedema coma, in which the patient may lose consciousness as organ functions slow or shut down.
Henry said that the symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease were related to the effects of low levels of thyroid hormones.
“You may notice a swelling of the throat beneath your Adam’s apple as the thyroid gland becomes inflamed and enlarged. Hashimoto’s disease may cause mood changes, fatigue, memory problems and depression.
“Pale skin, sensitivity to cold, a puffy face and brittle nails can also be signs of this disease.
“Additionally, unexpected weight gain, muscles aches and joint pain can signal this disorder. Women may notice unusually heavy menstrual bleeding,” he explained.
According to him, Hashimoto’s disease is more likely to affect women than men.
“While this disease can appear at any age, it is most likely to set in during the middle-age years,’’ Henry said.
He said that people were at greater risk of developing this disease if a family member had the disease or if they already suffer from another autoimmune disorder.
Henry explained that autoimmune disorders were diseases in which a body’s immune system goes awry and begins attacking healthy body organs or tissues as if they were foreign substances.
In Hashimoto’s disease, he said, it affects organ in the thyroid, stating that the thyroid gland is a small gland located just below Adam’s apple.
“This gland produces and releases thyroid hormones into your bloodstream. Thyroid hormones regulate body functions such as metabolism, heart function, muscle control, brain development and mood.
“When the thyroid is attacked by your immune system, it is no longer able to produce the hormones needed for these necessary functions,” he said.
He, however, added that exposure to radiation increases chances of developing the disease.
The endocrinologist said that there were two types of blood tests used for the diagnosis of hypothyroidism, stating that the first is to test a person’s blood for Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH).
“TSH levels become high in the blood when the thyroid is not producing enough thyroid hormones. The pituitary gland of the brain then produces more TSH in an attempt to stimulate the production of T3 and T4,” he explained.
He stated that the second test was to determine the presence of antibodies against the enzyme Thyroid Peroxidase (TPO).
“The immune system is attacking TPO, then these antibodies will be present,” he added.
“I thank you for adopting this idea while studying in America and for deeming it appropriate to furnish, equip and employ workers for the health centre,’’ the commissioner said.
A member of the Board of Trustees (BOT) of the Foundation, Dr Victor Iloegbunam, said that the group believed in giving back to the society.
He said that the Foundation had been working on four areas: Health, Opportunity for economic empowerment, Borehole for water and Education (HOBE), with particular focus on Awa and Abatete in Orumba North and Idemili North Council Areas respectively.
“At Community Secondary School, Awa, we donated an ultra-modern science laboratory, in addition to the classroom blocks renovated and the many boreholes sunk in the community.
“We also renovated another classroom block at Abanna Secondary School, Abatete.
“We have completed, equipped and employed a doctor and five qualified nurses for this cottage hospital. Everything here is free; you only need to pay for drugs at wholesale price,’’ Iloegbunam said.
He called on well-meaning individuals and groups to contribute their time, talents and resources to ensure that the facility continued to provide services for the people of the community.
The President-General of Abatete, Mr Moses Chukwuka, urged the state government to employ more doctors and nurses for the facility, and provide an ambulance.
Chukwuka assured that the community would continue to cooperate with the Foundation and the state government in order to attract more development projects to the community.
NAN reports that Sen. Uche Ekwunife, representing Anambra Central senatorial district, also donated a generator, beds, scale and wall screen to the health centre.
Noise pollution can cause health problems for people and wildlife, both on land and in the sea. From traffic noise to rock concerts, loud or inescapable sounds can cause hearing loss, stress, and high blood pressure.
Although it cannot be seen, noise pollution is present nevertheless everywhere. It is considered to be any unwanted or disturbing sound that affects the health and well-being of humans and other organisms.
There are many sounds in the environment, from rustling leaves to a thunderclap to the wail of a siren. Sounds that reach 85 decibels or higher can harm a person’s ears.
Sound sources that exceed this threshold include familiar things, such as power lawn mowers, food grinders and loud concerts and religious meetings.
World Health Organisation declared noise in large cities as pollution (third after water and air). Most areas in the world have this menace. This menace has been on the increase due to population growth, increase in vehicular movements, high industrial activities and many others.
Dr Ayotunde Fasunla, an ear, nose and throat expert at the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan states that the negative effect of noise pollution will depend on its loudness and length of time of exposure.
According to him, any music or sound that is lower than 80 decibels is not likely to cause ear damage.
However, he says, “if you listen to sound at 80 decibels continuously for eight hours, it will cause weakness of the hair cells within the inner ear and cause damage. Your ear can recover from this damage if you do not expose yourself to the loud noise again.
“But if the loud noise at 80 decibels is continuous for eight hours, such a person is likely to go deaf. If it increases to 83 decibels, you just need four hours to be deaf. If the loudness increases to 86 decibels, you need two hours to be deaf. If it increases to 91 decibels, you need just 30 minutes to be deaf.”
However, scientific research into understanding the impacts of noise is increasingly showing the detrimental health impacts that exposure to noise pollution can have on different people.
Researchers in a new study that determines the health effects of noise exposure among instrumentalists in Pentecostal churches in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, found 39 per cent had noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) and 38 per cent had tinnitus.
The 2019 study published in the Nigerian Journal of Medicine included F.E. Anyiam, K.E. Douglas. It involved 216 instrumentalists from 30 churches in Port Harcourt.
Although 80.56 per cent of them was aware that loud music can cause permanent hearing loss, only 19 per cent used hearing protection devices (HPD).
Howbeit, a significant risk of noise-induced hearing loss was observed in musicians who had experienced tinnitus, played only amplified instruments and had at least 10 years of music experience.
Noise induced hearing loss is highly prevalent in occupational settings. A study that assessed the workplace noise exposure level among 220 food grinders and other market traders in four markets in Calabar found a majority of food grinders (97 per cent) were exposed to noise levels greater than 85 decibels.
This study, a dissertation by Dr Abasi Ubong Akpakpan to the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria (NPMCN), indicated a significant noise problem exists among the food grinders resulting in hearing impairment in excess.
A significantly higher proportion of these food grinders also had abnormal blood pressure compared with other market traders.
Meanwhile, the expert’s assessment of noise from generators in four locations in Akure (two residential, commercial, and industrial areas) indicated that noise levels were above the permissible limits in a 2018 study in the journal, Environmental Research and Technology.
The average noise levels were between 88.7 and 90.5 decibels at Oke Eri Estate, between 81.7 and 85.0 decibels at Housing Estate; between 84.8 and 113.4 decibels at Stadium Road and between 81.9 and 90.0 decibels at FUTA Road.
Howbeit, an audiologist at the King Saud University, Saudi Arabia, Professor Dele Owolawi says m any Nigerians are losing their hearing abilities gradually due to noise from power generating set.
Owolawi who disclosed this recently in Lagos during a media chat, said noise from power generating sets was one of the things killing Nigerians, adding that people are dying gradually without being aware of it.
Studies have implicated entertainment noise in contributing to the burden of hearing loss. An assessment of occupational noise exposure and hearing impairment among employees of nightclubs in Port Harcourt metropolis revealed that 71.1 per cent of the respondents had mild hearing loss.
The 2019 study in the Asian Journal of Medicine and Health found that average sound level of nightclubs in Port Harcourt metropolis was 100.9dBA.
Additionally, the majority (93.7 per cent) of employees work more than eight hours daily and most (98.8 per cent) of these employees do not use hearing protection devices.
Furthermore, hearing loss was associated with age, sex, educational status and previous exposure to occupational noise. Similarly, there was a relationship between duration of employment, job description and hearing loss.
Dr Fasunla says the impact of noise in concerts, nightclubs and the religious meeting is felt more because the loudspeakers are placed on the ground or the level of the ear and are usually loud.
Continuous exposure to loud sound aside from causing hearing impartment may become a stressor that predisposes to hypertension, he added.
“You know when something happens that you do not like, it actually sends messages that lead to the release of cortisol and adrenaline, which are stress hormones that will shoot blood pressure up in those that are vulnerable over time,” he added.
Vice chancellor, Lagos State University (LASU), Professor Olanrewaju Fagbohun at the 4th annual stakeholders interactive session on noise pollution control in Lagos State listed the physical and psychological effects of noise to include hearing defects, cognitive impairment in children, increased blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, ulcer, headache, depression, sleep disorder and irritability.
Professor Fagbohun stated that “Other effects of noise on human health are emotional disturbance, low productivity at work, decrease in quality of life and life expectancy, while animals, vegetation and property are also not spared.”
Alhaji Baba Lawan, Director, Abuja Environmental Protection Agency (AEPB) under the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) said that the agency had received numerous complaints by FCT residents on noise pollution from clubs, recreational centres, among others.
“Some FCT residents are complaining that their children don’t sleep at night due to noise from loudspeakers used in some clubs and recreational centres, instead they sleep in the school when teachers are teaching them,” he said.
He advised users of loudspeakers in clubs and recreational centres, churches, mosques to ensure they provide insulation that could prevent noise pollution to avoid sanctions.
Alhaji Lawan said the agency was also working assiduously to curtail noise pollution from generators and grinding machines due to the negative impact of fume on the environment and human health.
The latest about the Forbes Africa celebrated Nigerian businessman Obinwanne Okeke, now in prison in the United States is that his case has been sent to a federal grand jury for a formal indictment for Business email Compromise(BEC) crimes.
That indictment will happen soon.
After his arrest in Washington in early August, the owner of Invictus Group, has appeared in federal court twice and remained in federal custody as of Monday.
During an Aug. 12 court hearing, the judge in the case noted that the matter is being sent to a federal grand jury for consideration for a formal indictment.
His arrest for executing within several months in 2018, an $11 million business email compromise scheme that targeted a U.K. affiliate of U.S. heavy equipment manufacturer Caterpillar, was not surprising to people who have been tracking this kind of crime.
It is a global fraud, they call it CEO fraud, worth about $12.5 billion between 2013-2018, with increasing Nigerian connection.
In a report in May this year,Scott Ferguson writing for Information Security Media Group, painted a breathtaking evolution of Nigerian email scammers, from “the days of asking for money to help a member of the country’s royal family”, to their present sophisticated practice of BEC. Ferguson also disclosed the existence of a Nigerian BEC gang, styled SilverTerrier, that is responsible for most of the scams emanating from Nigeria.
We reproduce the article:
Over the last four years, several Nigerian criminal gangs have turned their attention to business email compromise schemes. Now they’re using an increasing array of off-the-shelf malware to help advance their plans.
The most prolific of these groups, SilverTerrier, has been especially adept at adopting new technologies and techniques over the past several years, according to a recent analysis by Palo Alto Networks’ Unit 42. The analysis determined this gang is using 20 types of commodity malware, including information stealers and remote administration tools – or RATs.
Over the last 12 months, the number of actors associated with SilverTerrier has increased to over 400, and during the last four years, this group has been responsible for over 1 million attacks, according to Unit 42. This has contributed to a 54 percent increase in BEC scams coming out of Nigeria in 2018, compared to 2017, the analysis found.
In 2018, Unit 42 recorded an average of about 28,000 Nigerian BEC attacks per month, with particularly high spikes in March and April.
Nigerian malware activity from July 2014 through December 2018 (Image: Palo Alto Networks)
“The latest research continues our chronicling of the evolution of Nigerian threat actors from unsophisticated spammers to proficient users and abusers of malware and other tools used by cybercriminals worldwide,” says Jen Miller-Osborn, the deputy director of threat intelligence at Unit 42.
BEC Schemes on Rise Globally What’s happening with Nigerian scammers reflects a larger trend of cybercriminal gangs turning to business email compromise schemes to turn an illegal profit.
These schemes, which are also known as CEO fraud, have started to gain more attention from law enforcement as the number of incidents has increased over the past four years. In its annual Internet Crime Report released in April, the FBI reported that losses from business email compromise scams nearly doubled between 2017 and 2018, reaching $1.2 billion last year in the U.S. alone.
Globally, that number was over $12.5 billion between 2013 and 2018, according to FBI statistics.
In the typical business email compromise scheme, attackers start by stealing the email credentials of a top executive through phishing or other methods. Then they impersonate that executive, sending urgent messages to lower-level employees to transfer or wire money to various bank accounts. In other cases, the attackers spoof a company’s business partner.
The FBI’s most recent report warns that criminals are constantly changing tactics.
“Through the years, the scam has seen personal emails compromised, vendor emails compromised, spoofed lawyer email accounts, requests for W-2 information, and the targeting of the real estate sector,” the FBI report says.
Also of note: Starting in 2018, cybercriminals began asking for gift cards instead of money.
“The victims received a spoofed email, a spoofed phone call or a spoofed text from a person in authority requesting the victim purchase multiple gift cards for either personal or business reasons,” according to the FBI.
With all this increased attention, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies have started to step up prosecutions related to BEC scams. On May 9, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York indicted four individuals for allegedly running a multi-million dollar BEC scheme from 2016 to 2018.
Earlier this year, a Maryland man was sentenced to seven years in federal prison for running a $4.2 million BEC scam.
The Nigerian gangs are casting their nets as wide as possible in search of BEC victims, exporting their schemes to the U.S., Asia and Europe, Miller-Osborn of Unit 42 says. The targets include the tech industry, wholesale, manufacturing, education as well as professional and legal services.
Focus on Nigeria
The Nigerian gangs are casting their nets as wide as possible in search of BEC victims, exporting their schemes to the U.S., Asia and Europe, Miller-Osborn of Unit 42 says. The targets include the tech industry, wholesale, manufacturing, education as well as professional and legal services.
“We don’t have a dollar figure for the attacks that we’ve talked about here,” Miller-Osborn tells Information Security Media Group.
“However, we know that BEC is very lucrative globally and that these attackers have carried out 1.1 million attacks over four years. Also, given that they’re now using tools that hide their malware so that only 58 percent of the time it’s successfully detected, we can conclude that these attacks are successful enough in the eyes of the attackers.”
One of the reasons that the Nigerian BEC schemes have proven successful is the increasing use of commodity malware, especially within the SilverTerrier group, Miller-Osborn says. Many times, the attackers deploy “crypters” to obfuscate the tools they are using and to circumvent an enterprise’s detection capabilities, according to Unit 42.
“What we’ve shown is that they’re using the same widely and broadly available tools that other attackers are using,” Miller-Osborn says. “We don’t see these attackers building their own tools.” SilverTerrier
The Unit 42 analysis found that SilverTerrier and related groups are focused on two types of commodity malware: Information stealers and remote administrative tools – sometimes referred to as remote access Trojans.
The researchers found that the SilverTerrier group uses 10 types of information stealers: AgentTesla, Atmos, AzoRult, ISpySoftware, ISR Stealer, KeyBase, LokiBot, Pony, PredatorPain and Zeus. In most cases, these are used to capture screenshots, passwords and other sensitive details belonging to the victims.
These information stealers usually rely on simple command-and-control mechanisms, including web servers, FTP servers and SMTP email connections, the researchers say.
The Unit 42 researchers also found that SilverTerrier and its associates use 10 types of commodity remote administrative tools, including NetWire, DarkComet, NanoCore, LuminosityLink, Remcos, ImminentMonitor, NJRat, Quasar, Adwind and HWorm. These are used for modifying systems, accessing network resources and performing functions on behalf of compromised users, including sending fraudulent emails and accessing databases.
The Unit 42 analysis shows that in addition to relying on more of these remote administrative tools, the SilverTerrier group has developed new and much more complex infrastructure to support them. For instance, because the control servers that support remote administrative tools are often running on a high number of ephemeral ports, the gang has developed dynamic DNS and virtual servers to add a layer of obfuscation to hide their activities and extend the life of the malware.
A deep look at the numbers over the last year, however, shows a shift away from information stealers and a greater emphasis on using remote administrative tools as part of these BEC schemes. The Unit 42 research shows that in 2018, SilverTerrier produced about 1,000 information stealer samples each month. But new samples of stealers declined 26 percent, while remote administrative tools increased 36 percent during this time, producing about 533 different samples each month.
The reason for this, according to Unit 42, is that the remote administrative tools are giving the cyber gang greater capability to pull off their schemes.
The fact that SilverTerrier and other Nigerian gangs are adopting more complex and dangerous tools shouldn’t surprise anyone in the security field given the history of how cybercriminal schemes have developed over the last several years, Miller-Osborn says.
“For many people, the idea that Nigerian threat actors are acting on par with other cybercriminals around the world in terms of sophistication would be surprising,” Miller-Osborn says. “However, this is in line with what we’ve been tracking since 2014 and so in that regard it’s not surprising. The most important lesson here is that attackers evolve and it’s important to continue to monitor threat actors to accurately reassess the threat they pose over time.”
Coffee is a brewed drink prepared from roasted coffee beans. The darkly coloured and bitter beverage is one of the most popular drink in the world.
It is estimated that 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed per day.
Coffee contains several useful nutrients, including riboflavin (vitamin B-2), niacin (vitamin B-3), magnesium, potassium, and various phenolic compounds, or antioxidants. Some experts suggest that these and other ingredients in coffee can benefit the human body in various ways.
However, drinking too much coffee can cause harm to your body. Underlisted are four reasons why you should put down that coffee mug.
Drinking too much coffee can lead to a condition called “caffeinism”. This condition is marked by restlessness, nervousness, irritability, insomnia. People who drink a lot of coffee every day become “dependent” on coffee to the point that they develop withdrawal symptoms that include headaches, muscle pain and stiffness, lethargy, nausea, vomiting, depressed mood, and marked irritability if they suddenly stop drinking it.
Coffee has a stimulating effect on humans, primarily due to its caffeine content – reduces fatigue and drowsiness. Caffeine is the world’s most widely consumed psychoactive drug. Caffeine can cause insomnia, nervousness and restlessness, stomach upset, nausea and vomiting, increased heart and breathing rate, and other side effects.
Drinking unfiltered coffee can increase total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL), and levels of another type of blood fat called triglycerides. This might increase the risk of developing heart disease. Using coffee filters helps to reduce these effects on cholesterol.
There is some concern that drinking more than 5 cups of coffee per day might not be safe for people with heart disease. But for people who don’t have heart disease, drinking several cups daily does not seem to increase the chance of developing a heart problem.
The medical information provided in this article is provided as an information resource only. This information does not create any patient-physician relationship and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.
Activist lawyer Femi Falana (SAN) yesterday said President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration knows those causing unrest in the country and should go after them.
Falana spoke at the Coalition for Revolution’s (CORE’s) working consultative assembly, with the theme: Democracy, State Repression and The State of Insecurity in Nigeria, at the Lagos Centre, Oregun, Ikeja.
The event, which was billed to start at 11 a.m, did not hold due to police disruption.
It was learnt that policemen barricaded the venue and arrested three participants.
Condemning the alleged arrest as well as that of Omoyele Sowore and other #RevolutionNow protesters, Falana said the Federal Government should deploy security forces to tackle terrorism, banditry, kidnapping and other crimes that breach public peace, and not protesters.
The lawyer said it was the struggle by democracy agitators that culminated in the democracy the current administration was turning into a rickety civil rule.
He said the agitators would not allow it.
Falana said: “Our right to assembly and associate peacefully in the country is constitutional. I want to assure you that we are going to ensure that all the rights of Nigerian people that we have fought for and won will not be allowed to be eroded by any regime in this country.
“When we were told that we will not be allowed to meet, my mind went back 30 years ago when we had the Buhari, Ibrahim Babangida and other juntas. We defeated the regimes, and I want to assure you all that any other dictator will not be allowed to raise their head again in Nigeria.
“I heard that about three persons have been arrested. But I want to assure you that after the programme, I will demand for their release because they have not committed any offence. I want to assure you that all those who were arrested and charged during the #RevolutionNow for unlawful assembly and breaching the peace will be given adequate defence at the court of law.
“We fought and defeated dictatorship under discredited and corrupt military rulers. It was the struggle that we waged that culminated in democracy which the ruling party has turned into a rickety civil rule. We are, therefore, not going to allow the emergence of any form of dictatorship in the country.
“The President Buhari administration knows those breaching the peace of the country: terrorist, armed robbers, coup plotters and others.
“Those who went to the street to protest in exercise of their right to assembly and complain against injustice, corruption and maladministration in the country cannot be said to have breached the law of the country.
“Therefore, the man (Sowore) who was arrested and detained before the protest will be adequately defended at the law court. This is because he has committed no offence.”
The lawyer reminded the gathering how Nigerians fought for their rights, even under the colonial era.
He recalled how nationalists, like the late Chief Anthony Enahoro, chaired lectures organised on the need for a revolution.
“So, let the authority in Abuja know that the call for revolution is not new in Nigeria. Political leaders in this country have over time called for revolution and they have never been arrested and prosecuted. If there is a mistake now, such must be corrected. This country belongs to all of us.
“Before today, they claimed that we must not engage in any activity on the street. We are trying to gather inside the hall, they claimed that we cannot do that. But because of our resolve, we won.
“Revolution is not a dinner party. It is a serious, rigorous and consistent battle for the soul of a country like Nigeria. Therefore, what we have done is a mere declaration of our resolve.
“The struggle is going to be in pains and it will require time. But I believe that we have started and there is no going back. What we have done is to challenge the Nigerian people to appreciate the enormity of crisis of underdevelopment that is confronting the country.
“We do not have a revolution yet in Nigeria, but there is revolutionary pressure in Nigeria. We must seize the advantage of the moment and mobilise Nigerians on the need for revolution: tell them that it will come sooner than later…”
Also at the event were Femi Aborisade, Seun Kuti, Martin Onovo, former governorship candidate for the National Conscience Party (NCP) Funsho Awe and former student unionist Lanre Legacy.
Onovo said: “We understand how herdsmen have become the greatest threat overtaking Boko Haram. The government has failed and the leader of the government must resign. There is no democracy in Nigeria,” he said.
Awe said there was need to correct the bad things noticed in the country, adding that the time was right for a revolution.
For Kuti, the movement was fighting for the collective interest of Nigerians and the country’s future.
Aborishade said: “The failure of government to provide employment violates the dictates of the constitution. President Buhari is criminalising the rights of the people. If they say that I am a terrorist for asking for free medical care for the masses, free education for all, then, I am guilty for that and will like to be prosecuted.
“I demand that Sowore and others be released by the government. Nigeria has been turned to prison. We will ensure that the citizens enjoy the tenets of democracy. The law is taller than the President. I refuse to live in any society that is governed by the whims and caprices of the President and not the constitution. We reject enslavement.”
But the police denied obstructing the gathering or arresting anyone.
They said they were at the venue to maintain the peace.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) in charge of Operations Mohammed Ali told The Nation on phone that it was normal to deploy policemen to avoid any breakdown of law and order.
“It is not true that the police disrupted their gathering. They were billed to have a press conference and they did. There was no disruption whatsoever, and I do not have information of any arrest there,” he said.
Juventus forward, Cristiano Ronaldo, has admitted he paid his rape accuser Kathryn Mayorga the sum of $375,000 to settle the claim in 2010, TMZ reports.
The American model claimed Ronaldo raped her in a Las Vegas hotel room in 2009, but Ronaldo strongly denies the claims.
Las Vegas authorities announced last month, that there was not enough evidence to bring criminal charges against the footballer.
Mayorga is pressing ahead with a civil case, but Ronaldo’s lawyers want to have it thrown out.
According to them, the claim was already settled with a payoff and confidentiality agreement in 2010.
In newly filed court documents, Ronaldo’s camp are said to acknowledge the $375,000 figure. They insist the payment was not an admission of guilt, but merely an effort to keep the story from public attention.
Mayorga’s lawyers now want the agreement thrown out.
The Ekiti State All Progressives Congress (APC) and former Governor Ayodele Fayose on Monday exchanged verbal attacks over alleged plot to cause havoc in the state.
The party alleged that Fayose has perfected plans to tinker with the state’s peaceful ambience by hiding under the celebration of the annual Udiroko cultural festival scheduled to hold today.
But, the former governor denied the claims, describing the allegation as baseless and figment of the critics’ imagination.
In a statement signed by the APC Director of Media and Publicity, Elder Sam Oluwalana, said: “We have it on good authority that a former governor of the state wants to hide under the Udiroko festival to attempt to launch himself back into the politics of the state, having failed woefully to achieve this through the ballot.
“The former governor and his cohorts, having been traumatised by the gale of unprecedented achievements of the present administration of Dr. Kayode Fayemi, are now attempting to make a return to the politics of the state through the backdoor.
Elder Oluwalana, who doubles as SSA Media (Party Matters) to Fayemi, advised the people not to allow themselves to be used by political marabouts in their quest to portray themselves as friends of the masses.
But Fayose’s media aide, Mr. Lere Olayinka, said: “We are not in the habit of dignifying lowlife and people living with guilt of forcing themselves on Ekiti.
“It is obvious that almost a year after manipulating themselves to power, they are still afraid of the shadow of Ayo Fayose, a man whose footprints will remain on the sands of Ekiti forever.
“Rather than jumping up and down spinning lies against Fayose, who is moving on with his life after serving Ekiti diligently, Governor Fayemi and his APC election riggers should concentrate on making meaningful impacts in the state.”