Buhari Calls For End To Violence Against Children As World Marks Day Of African Child

File Photo: President Muhammadu Buhari receiving flowers from a girl.

 

As Nigeria joins the international community to celebrate the Day of the African Child, President Muhammadu Buhari has pledged that the government would continue to protect children from sexual violence, domestic abuse and exploitation.

The President also reiterated that his administration will continue to ensure that every Nigerian child has access to quality and affordable education by promoting free and compulsory basic education for the first nine years of schooling.

He was quoted to have said this in a statement signed by the Special Adviser to the President on Media & Publicity, Femi Adesina.

Speaking further, the president expressed concerns over the recent spate of sexual and physical violence on the girl-child and therefore, directed relevant government agencies to scale up support for victims of violence and ensure that those who have infringed on their rights face the full weight of our laws.

He affirmed that it is the right of every Nigerian child to be protected from sexual or physical violence and abuse and to enjoy an environment conducive for learning and development.

The President recognises that this year’s commemorative activities with the theme, “Access to a Child-Friendly Justice System in Africa,” have moved online due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

On the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the education sector, he noted that school-age children have been forced to continue education and learning online, as well as through the electronic media.

Recognizing that not all children have access to the tools and resources to do this, the President assured Nigerians that the priority of the Federal Government is to ensure that things get back to normal as soon as possible.

He noted that while dealing with the threats posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Government cannot allow education and learning to take the back seat.

The President, therefore, encouraged all Nigerians to take a moment this day to celebrate the African child, who represents a better future for all of us.

“Nigeria is blessed with exceptional and remarkable children and this government is ever ready to help the Nigerian child achieve their dreams and build a better tomorrow,” he said.

Senate Asks FG To Campaign Against Rape, Abuse Of Female Gender

A file photo of lawmakers in the Senate

 

The Senate is asking the Federal Government to campaign against rape and abuse of female gender in the country.

This formed part of the resolutions of the lawmakers following a motion raised by Senator Sandy Onoh during plenary on Tuesday in Abuja.

Senator Onoh condemned the rape and murder of 22-year-old Uwaila Omozuwa, a 100-level student of the Department of Microbiology, University of Benin (UNIBEN).

Omozuwa was reported to have been raped on May 27, inside a church where she went to read at the Ikpoba Hill area of Benin City, the Edo State capital.

The suspects were reported to have struck her on the head with a fire extinguisher after raping her.

Senator Onoh also condemned the killing of a teenage girl, Tina Ezekwe, by a policeman in Lagos last week.

According to him, the brutality and rape cases against the girl child are on the rise and Nigerian girls can no longer live their lives with confidence.

In their resolutions, the Senate resolved to call for the arrest of the perpetrators and mandated the security agencies to employ strategies to check the rising cases of rape.

The lawmakers also urged security agencies to ensure the enforcement of the Child Rights Act.

They further asked the State Houses of Assembly to amend the code to make rape a punishable offence.

The upper chamber also observed a minute of silence in honour of the two girls and others who have been victims of rape.

The news of Uwa’s death has sparked outrage on social media and many have demanded justice with the hashtag #JusticeForUwa.

 

Australia’s Cardinal Pell Loses Child Sex Abuse Appeal

 

 

Disgraced Cardinal George Pell lost his appeal against child sex abuse convictions Wednesday, prompting relief from those who fought to bring one of the Catholic Church’s most powerful men to justice.

Once the Vatican’s third-ranking official, Pell had been trying to overturn the verdicts and six-year sentence for sexually assaulting two 13-year-old choirboys at a Melbourne cathedral in the 1990s.

The high-profile case pitted the powerful 78-year-old — who previously helped elect Popes, ran the Vatican’s finances and was involved in the church’s response to child sex abuse claims — against a single surviving former choirboy.

Pell, dressed in a dark suit, occasionally bowed his head as Chief Justice Anne Ferguson dismissed his arguments and described his victim as “very compelling” and someone who “was clearly not a liar, was not a fantasist and was a witness of truth.”

The ruling prompted cheers to ripple into the courtroom from a large crowd gathered outside, and produced emotional statements from victims, their families and advocacy groups.

The now-adult victim — who cannot be named for legal reasons — said the “stressful” four-year legal fight had taken him “to places that, in my darkest moments, I feared I could not return from.”

Dismissing vocal media critics, the man said the death of his friend, the second choirboy, from a drug overdose had prompted him to break his silence.

“After attending the funeral of my childhood friend… I felt a responsibility to come forward,” he said in a statement read by his lawyer.

“I am not an advocate. You wouldn’t know my name. I am not a champion for the cause of sexual abuse survivors.”

A lawyer for the father of the second victim said he felt “a weight had been lifted.”

“He feels that justice has been delivered today. He has a real sense of relief that George Pell is behind bars tonight,” Lisa Flynn told AFP.

Following the ruling, Pell — who will be eligible for parole in three years and eight months — maintained his innocence and said he was now considering a second and final appeal.

“Cardinal Pell is obviously disappointed with the decision today,” said a statement issued through the church.

“His legal team will thoroughly examine the judgement in order to determine a special leave application to the High Court.”

‘Done their job’

Pell’s lawyers now have 28 days to consider further legal steps.

They had raised 13 objections to his convictions, casting doubt on everything from the physical possibility of Pell removing his robes to carry out the act, to the credibility of the main witness.

The case was unusual in that it relied heavily on the closed-door testimony of the sole surviving victim.

The three judges unanimously dismissed two so-called “fallback” arguments for Pell related to alleged procedural errors during his trial.

His lawyers argued they should have been allowed to show an animated reconstruction of peoples’ movements in the cathedral on the days of the assaults.

They also took issue with the fact that Pell was not arraigned in the presence of the jury. The process was completed via video link so the large pool of potential jurors was able to watch.

Ferguson said that despite these complaints the judges “decided that it was open to the jury to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Cardinal Pell was guilty of the offence charged.”

Following Wednesday’s ruling Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison expressed sympathy for the victims.

He said the “courts had done their job” and indicated Pell would be stripped of his Order of Australia honour.

During Pell’s trial under a court-ordered veil of secrecy, the Vatican gradually removed him from top Church bodies with little explanation.

Shortly after his conviction, Pell was removed from the so-called C9 Council of Cardinals that are effectively the Pope’s cabinet and inner circle of advisers.

The Vatican dropped him as the Church’s finance chief and opened its own probe into his actions after his conviction was made public in February.

Gambian Ex-Dictator ‘Handpicked’ Women For Rape, Abuse – HRW

Yayah Jammeh: Handover Deadline May Be Extended

 

Former Gambian president Yahya Jammeh “handpicked” women whom he would rape or sexually coerce, offering cash, gifts and other privileges in exchange, international rights groups said on Wednesday.

“Yahya Jammeh treated Gambian women like his personal property,” said US attorney Reed Brody of Human Rights Watch (HRW).

“But rape and sexual assault are crimes, and Jammeh is not above the law, and no woman is beneath it.”

Jammeh ruled the tiny West African state for 22 years before fleeing to Equatorial Guinea after losing elections to opposition candidate Adama Barrow in December 2016.

His regime was notorious for its brutality and corruption, but this is the first time that his sexual abuse of women has been extensively and publicly documented.

The investigation, by HRW and a Swiss NGO, TRIAL international, is based on evidence from several women, eight former Gambian officials and several other witnesses, they said.

Jammeh had “protocol girls” who were required to be on call to provide him with sex, according to their report, issued in Dakar, the capital of neighbouring Senegal.

He “handpicked young women to satisfy his sexual fantasies,” according to a top aide quoted in the report.

As an inducement, he would lavish gifts on them or provide support for their impoverished families or offer a scholarship to study abroad.

They were required to live next to his residence and were barred from leaving without his authorisation — and if they refused his sexual demands, he would threaten them or hit them.

The “protocol girls” were overseen by his female cousin, Jimbee Jammeh, who also procured other women for him, the report said. She fled with him to Equatorial Guinea.

Several women have gone on record with their experiences, it said.

One of them was Toufah Jallow, then an 18-year-old drama student, who was the 2014 winner of the main state-sponsored beauty pageant, which Jammeh had lauded as “a means to empower girls”.

Over six months, she refused his advances, rejected his offer to become a “protocol girl” and a proposal to marry him, Jallow said.

After aides brought her to attend a pre-Ramadan Koran recital at the presidency, State House, Yahya locked her in a room, hit and threatened her, injected her with a liquid and raped her, according to her testimony.

She fled to Senegal days later.

Gambia has set up a Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC), modelled on South Africa’s post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission, to shed light on Jammeh’s reign.

“These admirable women broke the culture of silence. It is now crucial that the TRRC and the government give them a path to redress and justice,” said Marion Volkmann-Brandau, who led the research.

“It’s time for the ‘shame’ of rape to switch sides.”

Jammeh is also accused of spiriting away hundreds of millions of dollars — one estimate put it as high as one billion dollars (880 million euros).

Chelsea Lodge UEFA Complaint Over Alleged Racist Abuse In Kiev

FIFA Hands Chelsea Two Transfer Windows Ban
file photo / AFP

 

Chelsea said on Monday they have lodged a formal complaint with UEFA over alleged racist abuse aimed at one of their players during the closing stages of the 5-0 Europa League win away to Dynamo Kiev last week.

“We can confirm a report of racist abuse directed at one of our players in the final minutes of the match in Kiev from a small section of home supporters. We wholeheartedly condemn such abhorrent behaviour,” Chelsea said in a statement.

READ ALSO: UEFA Probes Ronaldo For ‘Improper Conduct’

“The matter was reported to the referee at the final whistle and the chairman and club secretary spoke to the UEFA match delegate immediately after the match.

“We expect UEFA to conduct a fulsome investigation and we will provide full cooperation.”

Callum Hudson-Odoi was reportedly the victim of the abuse as the 18-year-old rounded off the scoring after Olivier Giroud’s hat-trick and Marcos Alonso’s strike secured Chelsea’s place in the last eight at a canter in the Ukranian capital on Thursday.

AFP

Convicted Australian Cardinal To Be Sued Over Alleged Abuse

Cardinal George Pell (C) makes his way to the court in Melbourne on February 27, 2019. Con CHRONIS / AFP

 

A man is set to sue convicted Australian Cardinal George Pell over child sex abuse allegations, reports said Monday, days after state prosecutors dropped his criminal case against the disgraced cleric.

Pell — the most senior Catholic clergyman to be found guilty of child sex abuse — is currently in detention awaiting sentencing for assaulting two choirboys in the 1990s.

News of the conviction in December had been suppressed by a court until last Tuesday when prosecutors dropped a second trial involving alleged abuse at a swimming pool in Pell’s hometown of Ballarat in Victoria state in the 1970s.

The man in the second trial, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said in the new civil lawsuit’s statement of claim that he felt “empty” after his criminal case was withdrawn before he could give evidence, Melbourne’s The Age reported.

“It took a lot of courage and soul-searching to be prepared to tell my story, accusing one of the most senior Catholics in the world of serious criminal offences, and eventually I was ready to have my day in court,” the man said in the statement of claim, the newspaper reported.

“But when I was told they had withdrawn the case I felt empty, and that an injustice had occurred.”

The alleged victim, reportedly now 50 years old, will also sue the trustees of Nazareth House which ran St Joseph’s Boys Home where he was a ward, Victoria state and the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne in a lawsuit to be filed in the Supreme Court of Victoria.

He is seeking damages for psychiatric injury, loss of wages and medical expenses, The Australian reported.

A Supreme Court of Victoria spokesman said it had yet to receive any filing in the matter.

News of Pell’s conviction which emerged last week is expected to encourage victims of alleged sex abuse by another clergy to come forward.

Pell, who helped elect popes and ran the Vatican’s finances, was found guilty by a trial jury on one count of sexual abuse and four counts of indecent assault of two boys.

AFP

Zimbabwe Govt Pledges To Probe Abuse, Rape Claims Against Security Forces

 

Zimbabwe’s government has pledged to “thoroughly” investigate allegations of abuse and rape levelled against its security forces during a brutal crackdown to quell last week’s anti-government protests.

Nationwide demonstrations erupted last week after President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced on January 12 that fuel prices were being more than doubled in a country suffering from spiralling inflation and regular shortages of necessities.

Furious demonstrators took to the streets in several cities and towns with widespread rioting and looting before soldiers and police brutally put down the protests at the cost of at least 12 lives, according to NGOs.

Hundreds of people were injured, including dozens from bullet wounds.

“The government wishes to assure the public that all allegations of misconduct against any of our security services will be thoroughly investigated and that the law will be allowed to take its course,” Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said in a statement on Friday.

He said complaints should be lodged with the police and also assured that they would be treated with “impracticality and sensitivity”, but many Zimbabweans fear retribution and find reporting such cases daunting.

In a separate statement, Home Affairs Minister Cain Mathema acknowledged reports of “alleged rape, sexual abuse and assaults that have been perpetrated by security forces during the recent operation”.

But he said only one report had been received so far.

He also referred to media footage of women who claimed they were raped by security forces during the widespread clampdown.

“We take these rape allegations very seriously and investigations will be instituted immediately once complainants file reports with the police,” Mathema said.

“We are therefore making a passionate appeal to all citizens of Zimbabwe to come forward and report any cases of sexual abuse, rape or misconduct by the security forces to the police,” said Mathema.

Army spokesman Alphios Makotore earlier this week issued a statement alleging that “bogus” elements in military uniform were engaging in violence and placing the “image of the organisations into disrepute”.

Police said that more than 1,100 people have been arrested since the unrest began and hundreds have been moving through the courts for summary trials, according to lawyers.

Chelsea Fan Banned For Abuse

Chelsea Fans celebrate. Credit: Daily Mail

 

A Chelsea fan has been banned from football matches for three years after being ejected from their Premier League game against Brighton for shouting homophobic abuse.

The 20-year-old man pleaded guilty to the offence of using threatening, abusive or insulting words during Chelsea’s 2-1 win at Brighton’s Amex Stadium on December 16.

As a result, the fan has been banned and fined £965 ($1219).

A spokesperson for Brighton and Hove Albion said in a statement: “We would like to thank Sussex Police for their assistance in dealing with this unsavoury incident, and we are very pleased with the outcome.

“It underlines both their and our commitment to a zero tolerance policy on any form of abuse from those attending matches at the Amex. We would remind all fans that we will not tolerate any form of abusive behaviour at the stadium and will always take the strongest possible action.”

The fan ban is the latest worrying incident involving Chelsea supporters this season.

A Chelsea fan was accused of shouting racist abuse at Manchester City star Raheem Sterling during the Blues’ 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri admitted he was frustrated by the “stupid” people who were tarnishing his club’s reputation after repeated complaints about fans singing an anti-semitic chant about Tottenham supporters.

AFP

Fulham To Take Action Over Kamara Racist Abuse

Aboubakar Kamara argued with Aleksandar Mitrovic over who would take a penalty against Huddersfield.                                  Credit: @MirrorFootball

 

Fulham have vowed to take the “strongest possible action” after striker Aboubakar Kamara was racially abused on social media following his penalty miss against Huddersfield on Saturday.

The Frenchman was strongly criticised by his manager Claudio Ranieri for disobeying orders to hand over penalty duties to Aleksandar Mitrovic.

“It is unbelievable, he did not respect me, the club, the team and crowd. I spoke with him, it is not right. I want to kill him,” said Ranieri, despite Mitrovic’s stoppage-time winner in a 1-0 victory for the Premier League strugglers.

However, Fulham have promised to support Kamara after he was abused online.

“The club will provide all necessary support to Aboubakar and will take the strongest possible action against those identified and responsible for these posts,” a club spokesman said in a statement.

AFP

Couple Charged With Torturing, Abusing Their Children

This combination of pictures created on January 15, 2018, shows booking photos from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department of David Allen Turpin (R), 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49. Photo: Jose ROMERO / Riverside County Sheriff’s Department / AFP

 

A California couple who held their 13 malnourished children captive in a suburban home were charged Thursday with multiple counts of torture and child abuse.

David Allen Turpin, 57, and his wife Louise Anna Turpin, 49 were hit with 12 counts of torture, 12 of false imprisonment, six of child abuse and six of abuse of a dependent adult at a court hearing in the city of Riverside.

David Turpin was also charged with committing a lewd act against a child by force or fear or duress, District Attorney Mike Hestrin told a press conference.

Bail was set at $13 million for each of the defendants who if convicted face 94 years to life in prison.

AFP

Ex-Indian Army Officer On Street Killing Spree As Six Die

A former army officer beat six people to death with an iron rod Tuesday in a street killing spree that sparked panic in an Indian city, police said.

Naresh Dhankar, 45, began his two hour murder rampage in a hospital in Palwal, in Haryana state, then walked outside picking victims at random, police said.

His first killing of an woman waiting for a relative in the hospital was caught on security cameras.

As police took the body of the woman to the morgue word came through of the other killings and a citywide alert was ordered.

Three of the dead were night watchmen and one was a beggar who had been sleeping in the street in the city about 60 kilometers (37 miles) north of New Delhi, police officials said.

All were beaten over the head with the iron bar by the former army lieutenant who has a master’s degree in agriculture.

Dhankar was detained as he was attacking a seventh victim at another hospital.

“He attacked a woman at a hospital first. We rushed there and as we were scanning the CCTV footage we got to know that more bodies had been found,” said police spokesman Sanjay Kumar.

“The accused has been arrested and is currently undergoing treatment at a hospital.”

A TV grab showed Dhankar, wearing a blue pullover, walking with an iron rod in his hands.

As news of the attacks spread on social media, police appealed to residents of Palwal, ordering them to stay indoors.

Kumar quoted Dhankar’s wife as saying he had been “mentally disturbed” for the past few days. The couple had been separated for several years.

“We are investigating to find out the exact motive behind the killings,” the spokesman said.

AFP

Vigilante Member Arraigned For Allegedly Raping A Nursing Mother In Osun

Ogun Police Arrest Suspected Serial BuglerA 25-year-old vigilante member, Sunday Arewa, has been docked before an Ile-Ife Magistrate court in Osun, for allegedly raping a nursing mother.

The police prosecutor, Inspector Emmanuel Abdulahi, told the court that Arewa committed the offence on January 19, 2017, at about 12:00 a.m. at Oke-Ogbo area in Ile-Ife.

Abdulahi said that the accused inflicted injuries on the left arm of the victim, Tosin Afolabi and also threatened her with gun before allegedly having carnal knowledge of her in an uncompleted building.

The prosecutor further informed the court that the accused committed offences contrary to and punishable under Sections 351, 355, 86(2) and 360 of the Criminal Code, Cap 34, Vol. II, Laws of Osun, 2003.

But Arewa entered into a not guilty plea to the four-count charge preferred against him.

The defence counsel, Akintilo Olakunbi, made attempt to move application for Arewa’s bail but the presiding Magistrate, Olalekan Ijiyode, asked her to bring a written bail application.

He ordered that Arewa be remanded in Ile-Ife prison and adjourned the case till March 10, 2017 for hearing.