Friendly: Super Eagles Lose 1-0 to African Champions, Algeria

Super Eagles players in training session before the friendly match against Algeria on October 9, 2020.

 

The Super Eagles of Nigeria have lost 1-0 to African champions, Algeria in a friendly match played in Klagenfurt, Austria on Friday night.

Missing four of their regular players, Wilfred Ndidi, Joe Ayodele-Aribo, Oghenekaro Etebo and marksman Victor Osimhen for different reasons, Nigeria had to start with an unfamiliar midfield trio of Oluwasemilogo Ajayi, debutant Frank Onyeka and Alex Iwobi, with left back Zaidu Sanusi getting Coach Gernot Rohr’s nod ahead of regular Jamilu Collins to earn his first cap.

The Fennecs started powerfully and quickly forced a corner kick in the third minute, which was bundled to safety. Three minutes later, the African champions got the lead when Ramy Bensebaini reacted faster to a loose ball from another corner kick.

The goal was actually a reflection of the state of flow of the game, as the Algerians reacted faster and controlled the ball better.  Iwobi, latching onto the ball as Samuel Chukwueze cut inside from the right, saw his shot blocked. Okoye saved brilliantly from Farid Boulaya in the 20th minute, and two minutes later Alex Iwobi nearly restored parity but his shot from 22 yards screamed narrowly past Alexandre Oukidja and the far post.

Iwobi again enabled a flow from the middle in the 31st minute but Samuel Kalu’s shot was wild. Five minutes later, Maduka Okoye flung himself impressively to the right to parry a free-kick by Said Benrahma. The impressive Sanusi and Kalu had shots saved and a Samuel Kalu in-swinger missed everyone in the box as the first half came to a close.

The Eagles came into the second half with determination to add more grit to their game, Mikel Agu coming in for Onyeka. On the hour, Tyronne Ebuehi’s pile-driver from the edge of the box flew past the goal with Oukidja beaten.

Six minutes from time, Okoye again came up big, tipping away a tricky lob by substitute Fares. The Eagles got an opportunity to level at the death, but substitute Kelechi Iheanacho’s dipping free-kick from the right flew narrowly over the sticks.

Left-back Zaidu Sanusi, right back Kevin Akpoguma and midfielders Frank Onyeka and Samson Tijani all won their first caps and will look to add to these when the Eagles take on Tunisia in an der Glan on Tuesday.

Friday’s encounter was the first ever friendly game between both countries, as all their previous 21 games were at competitive level.

Rape, Murder Of Woman In Algeria Sparks Outrage

 

An Algerian activist holds a placard reading in French “we dream of a country where women who talk about rape are heard more than men who talk about veil” during a rally in the capital Algiers on October 8, 2020 to denounce the brutal murder of a 19-year-old woman and those of the 38 other women killed this year. –  (Photo by RYAD KRAMDI / AFP)

 

The rape and murder in Algeria of a 19-year-old woman sparked cries for action on gender-based violence in the North African country and calls to bring back capital punishment.

The body of the young woman, identified as Chaima, was found in early October at a deserted petrol station in Thenia, 80 kilometres (50 miles) east of the capital Algiers.

She had been beaten, raped and burned alive, according to local media.

The suspect, who has reportedly confessed, is being charged with “rape and voluntary homicide with premeditation and ambush, using torture”.

Chaima’s mother said the man was an acquaintance of the family, against whom the young woman had previously pressed rape charges in 2016.

The killing set off a wave of outrage on social media in Algeria, where internet users condemned the “heinous” crime and demanded justice, with many calling for the death penalty, under moratorium in the country since 1993.

A message shared widely online reads: “I am Chaima, I was raped in 2016 and I had the courage to press charges in a conservative society. I am still Chaima, it is 2020 and I have again been raped by the same rapist, who stabbed and burned me. #IAmChaima.”

– Death penalty –

In a video that circulated on social networks and was picked up by local TV stations, Chaima’s mother directly addressed Algeria’s President Abdelmadjid Tebboune and demanded the execution of the perpetrator.

Many Algerians also took to social media in support of reinstating the death penalty.

“Execution should be applied to the killer, to be an example for all those who think of doing the same thing,” one Twitter user wrote.

Another said: “We must open the debate on the death penalty, the monster who killed her has no place in society or in prison.”

But others in the country rejected execution as the best way to deter femicide, the gender-related killing of women and girls.

Femicides Algeria, a group that tracks such homicides, said: “It is not through the death penalty that we will give her (Chaima) justice, it is rather the law that must be changed and applied.”

The activists have counted 38 femicides in Algeria so far this year.

They recorded 60 in 2019, noting on their website that with so many cases going unreported or unconfirmed, the actual number “is much higher”.

– ‘Break the silence’ –

Hassina Oussedik, director for human rights group Amnesty International in Algeria, told AFP that “the death penalty is not a deterrent”.

“It is discriminatory and does not protect the most vulnerable.”

She added it was necessary to “change mentalities and the judicial system for the psychological and legal care of victims, launch national awareness campaigns, open shelters and train the various institutions”.

The Free and Independent Women’s Collective of Bejaia, a city on Algeria’s northeast coast, said Chaima’s killing “adds to the long list of femicides, which continues to grow in the face of complicit silence, the justification of violence and the absence of real measures”.

To “break the silence”, the collective called for a protest on Thursday in Bejaia.

The calls for action and solidarity have spread across the country.

The Algerian Women for Change Toward Equality group also organised a rally on Thursday, in Algiers, to “denounce the heinous crimes” that led to Chaima’s death and those of the 38 women killed this year.

-AFP

Algerians Take To Streets Despite Ban On Protests

Demonstrators take part in a protest rally on Place de la Republique in Paris on October 4, 2020, as they commemorate the October 5, 1988 riots in Algeria.  GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP

 

Hundreds of Algerians defied a nationwide ban on protests and took to the streets Monday to demand democratic change and mark the anniversary of 1988 demonstrations that ushered in reforms.

Around 400 to 500 demonstrators in Algiers tried to march to the city centre but were dispersed by police who made a number of arrests, an AFP reporter said.

A prisoners support committee, the CNLD, said more than 20 people were arrested including students.

Protests also took place in several other areas of Algeria, with demonstrators chanting: “The people want the fall of the regime” and “Yes to a civil state, no to a military state”, according to the CNLD and social media.

Demonstrators take part in a protest rally in Paris on October 4, 2020, as they commemorate the October 5, 1988 riots in Algeria. GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP

 

They called for the release of members of the Hirak, the anti-government protest movement which last year swept ailing president Abdelaziz Bouteflika from power.

More than 60 people are currently behind bars for acts related to Hirak, according to the CNLD.

Protesters had kept up rallies after Bouteflika stepped down, demanding the ouster of the entire state apparatus, widely seen as inept and corrupt.

But weekly demonstrations came to a halt earlier this year due to restrictions to curb the coronavirus pandemic.

With less than a month to go before a key referendum on constitutional reform — a vote the government hopes will meet protesters’ demands — many expect a resurgence of rallies.

Demonstrators take part in a protest rally in Paris on October 4, 2020, as they commemorate the October 5, 1988 riots in Algeria.  GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP

 

Monday’s protests also marked the anniversary of October 1988 demonstrations which rocked Algiers, prompting authorities to declare a state of emergency.

The protests left 150 dead, according to an official toll, but rights activists say the actual figure was more 500.

The army clamped down on the demonstrators but introduced political reforms which brought an end to a single-party system.

AFP

Osimhen Out Of Tunisia, Algeria Friendly Games

Victor Osimhen of Napoli scores against Italian second division side, Teramo on September 4, 2020.
File photo: Victor Osimhen of Napoli scores against Italian second division side, Teramo on September 4, 2020.

 

Napoli forward, Victor Osimhen, has been ruled out of the Super Eagles team for the friendly games against Tunisia and Algeria. 

“Victor Osimhen has been excused from SuperEagles’ games against Algeria and Tunisia,” the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF)  tweeted on its handle, Sunday morning as Napoli imposes further travel restrictions amid the second wave of COVID-19. “His replacement is Paul Onuachu. #Team9jaStrong #SoarSuperEagles.”

 

The three-time African champions are billed to take on Algeria and Tunisia on October 9 and 13 respectively but new travel restrictions by the club mean the former U-17 World Cup winner would not be available for the games.

On Saturday, Napoli said they had tested all their players for COVID-19 but only Macedonian midfielder, Elif Elmas, was confirmed to have contracted the virus.

The club also said their players and staff were in isolation and would not be travelling for the international break.

Local authorities had told the Napoli team it was unsafe to travel and has restricted them from going outside Turin region for their league tie at the Allianz Arena on Sunday.

Osimhen joined Napoli in July for an undisclosed fee believed to be over $96 million (81.3m Euros), making the forward one of the most expensive African player of all time.

Image
Photo: [email protected] VictorOsimhen9

 

“Welcome to Napoli, Victor, ” the club said on their Twitter handle while confirming the arrival of the Nigerian from French side, Lille.

Osimhen’s move to the Gli Azzurri trumps the prize Arsenal paid for Ivory Coast forward, Nicolas Pepe last year.

Last term, the former Charleroi (from where he moved to France) man scored 18 goals in all games for Lille and has been linked with a move to Naples in recent times.

His stellar showing for the French side saw him winning the Lille Player of the Season just as he made it to Ligue 1’s team for the 2019/2020 campaign.

 

Algeria Blocks Social Media To Prevent Examination Malpractice

Photo: Eric BARADAT / AFP

 

 

Algerians were unable to access social media accounts on Sunday as students sat national exams in the North African country where authorities are cracking down on cheating.

Social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp were inaccessible, an AFP journalist said, while the internet faced disruptions across the country.

The move came a day after the justice ministry announced that a teenager had been sentenced to one year in jail for having shared the results of an Arabic-language test online.

The boy was sentenced Wednesday by a court in the northeastern city of Guelma in line with a penal code amendment adopted in April that criminalised cheating during the brevet and baccalaureate examinations, usually taken at the end of secondary and high school, respectively.

After a spike in cheating during national exams in recent years, authorities in the North African country adopted legislation under which those found guilty of wrongdoing could face up to 15 years in jail.

According to the justice ministry, courts in Algeria have begun to hand down jail sentences to individuals accused of having leaked exam papers or results during the brevet earlier this month.

In 2016, authorities temporarily blocked access to social networks to prevent cheating after leaked papers forced hundreds of thousands of students to resit the baccalaureate exam.

Authorities then arrested dozens of people, including the heads of national exam centres and teachers on suspicion of leaking the final exam papers.

There was no official comment Sunday from authorities or telecom officials on the internet disruptions and the lack of access to social networks.

The baccalaureate exams, which began Sunday, are due to last until September 17.

AFP

Algeria’s President Sacks Labour Minister, Youcef

Abdelmadjid Tebboune

 

 

 

Algeria’s President Abdelmadjid Tebboune on Wednesday sacked Employment Minister Ahmed Chawki Fouad Acheuk Youcef, his office offering no reason for the move.

Tebboune “today signed a decree ending Mr Ahmed Chawki Fouad Acheuk Youcef’s tenure as works, labour, employment and social security minister,” the presidency said in a statement published by the official APS agency.

It also named an interim replacement, Kaoutar Krikou who is already the national solidarity minister.

M. Acheuk Youcef, 64 ans, was named to the post in January as part of Tebboune’s first goverment since his December 2019 election.

He was reappointed during a government reshuffle in June that saw the energy and finance ministers replaced — two of the key sectors in Algeria’s economy.

The North African country is very vulnerable to falls in oil prices. Confronted also by a political crisis and a rise in COVID-19 cases, fears are growing of a financial crash and social unrest.

Mass protests swept Algeria early last year in response to ailing president Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s announcement that he would seek a fifth term in office.

They swiftly morphed into demands for a sweeping overhaul of the political system, carrying on well beyond Bouteflika’s April 2019 resignation.

Last month Bouteflika was sentenced to 16 years in prison on corruption charges.

The protests were only suspended in mid-March as the coronavirus pandemic ravaged the country.

Acheuk Youcef is the second minister to leave the government since the June reshuffle.

Samir Chaabna, minister for the Algerian diaspora was fired barely four days after his appointment due to his double French-Algerian nationality.

Algeria Sentences Prominent Activist To Prison

Man Bags 15 Years In Prison For N5.2m Fraud

 

An Algerian court on Sunday sentenced prominent anti-government activist Amira Bouraoui to a year in prison, amid a growing climate of repression, one of her lawyers told AFP.

“This conviction is unjust, there is no evidence. We are going to appeal,” lawyer Mustapha Bouchachi said.

Bouraoui, a 44-year-old gynaecologist, is a prominent activist in the “Hirak” protest movement that secured the resignation of former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika last April.

The mother of two was convicted on six counts, including “insulting Islam”, “insulting the president” Abdelmadjid Tebboune and “incitement to violate lockdown” during the coronavirus pandemic.

She was also accused of inciting illegal protests, publishing “fake news” likely to jeopardise security or public order and comments that undermine national unity.

Prosecutors had sought 18 months imprisonment.

“These kind of lawsuits, which have been going on for months, won’t calm the political situation,” Bouchachi said.

“It’s not the best way to open up towards society, activists and this peaceful revolution,” he added, referring to the Hirak movement.

Bouraoui was taken into custody after being arrested at her home on Wednesday.

A former activist with the Barakat or “That’s Enough!” movement, she came to prominence in 2014 when she opposed Bouteflika running for a fourth term.

– New criminal code –
In recent days Algerian authorities have arrested and prosecuted numerous activists in a bid to prevent protests from resuming when the coronavirus lockdown is lifted.

Most prosecutions are being carried out under a new penal code passed hastily on April 22 amid the public health crisis.

The recent wave of arrests and prosecutions has led some opposition activists to say that the rights situation in Algeria today is worse than during Bouteflika’s rule, particularly with regard to freedom of the press.

The North African country has gradually been relaxing its coronavirus lockdown measures since June 7.

But even though large gatherings have been forbidden since mid-March, hundreds of protesters turned out on Friday to resume the weekly protests that marked the political scene before the virus lockdown — particularly in the northwest Kabylie region, according to local sources.

The authorities arrested nearly 500 people across the country during Friday’s banned demonstrations, though most were subsequently released, said Said Salhi, vice president of the Algerian Human Rights League (LADDH).

But of around 100 detained on Friday, nearly 20 were remanded in custody Sunday. The rest were either convicted and sentenced or freed pending trial.

Before the latest wave of arrests, the National Committee for the Liberation of Prisoners (CNLD) said around 60 people linked to the Hirak movement were in detention.

The movement started in February 2019, and after obtaining the resignation of Bouteflika after 20 years in power, protests continued, demanding an overhaul of Algeria’s political system in place since independence from France in 1962.

Algeria Backs Hydroxychloroquine Despite WHO Dropping Trials

 

 

Algeria will continue to use the drug hydroxychloroquine against the novel coronavirus, a member of its scientific committee said, despite the World Health Organization suspending clinical trials of such treatments.

“We’ve treated thousands of cases with this medicine, very successfully so far,” said Mohamed Bekkat, a member of the scientific committee on the North African country’s Covid-19 outbreak.

“We haven’t noted any undesirable reactions,” he told AFP.

Public figures including US President Donald Trump have backed the drug as a virus treatment, prompting governments to bulk buy — despite several studies showing it to be ineffective and even increasing COVID-19 hospital deaths.

Bekkat’s comments came days after medical journal The Lancet published a study of nearly 100,000 coronavirus patients, showing no benefit in those treated with the drug, which is normally used against arthritis.

The study found that administering the medicine or, separately, the related anti-malarial chloroquine, actually increased Covid-19 patients’ risk of dying.

READ ALSO: COVID-19 Heightens Heatwave Health Risks, UN Warns

Both drugs can produce potentially serious side effects, particularly heart arrhythmia.

Bekkat, who is also head of the Order of Algerian Doctors, said the country had not registered any deaths caused by hydroxychloroquine.

Algeria decided in late March to treat patients infected with the Covid-19 illness with a combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, an antibiotic.

“For confirmed cases, we use hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin. Then there is a whole protocol for serious cases,” a health ministry official told AFP on Monday.

Thousands of people infected or suspected of being infected with the virus have received such treatments, said doctor Djamel Fourar, the scientific committee’s spokesman.

The World Health Organization said on Monday it had temporarily suspended clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment for coronavirus, following the Lancet study.

That study looked at records from hundreds of hospitals, comparing a control group with patients treated with hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine, either alone or in combination with antibiotics.

At the end of the study, of those treated with hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine alone, 18 percent and 16.4 percent respectively had died, compared with nine percent in the control group.

Those given each drug in combination with antibiotics were even more likely to die — 23.8 percent with hydroxychloroquine.

Bekkat argued that the Lancet study had led to “confusion” as it “seems to concern serious cases in which hydroxychloroquine is of no help”.

“There is evidence that the use of chloroquine by Arab and African countries has proven to be effective when used early,” he explained.

Algeria’s coronavirus outbreak is one of the worst in Africa, with a total of 8,503 cases and 609 deaths officially recorded since 25 February.

AFP

Pregnant Doctor Dies Of COVID-19 In Algeria

Cemetery workers wearing protective gear bury a coronavirus victim at a cemetery on the outskirts of Saint Petersburg on May 6, 2020. OLGA MALTSEVA / AFP
iMAGE USED TO ILLUSTRATE THE STORY: Cemetery workers wearing protective gear bury a coronavirus victim at a cemetery on the outskirts of Saint Petersburg on May 6, 2020. PHOTO: OLGA MALTSEVA / AFP

The death of a pregnant Algerian doctor from the COVID-19 disease after she was denied maternity leave has sparked an uproar and prompted the dismissal of a hospital director.

Health Minister Abderrahman Benbouzid sacked the director of the Ras El Oued hospital in eastern Algeria after Wafa Boudissa succumbed to COVID-19, a source close to the case told AFP.

The 28-year-old doctor was eight months pregnant and worked at the IC surgery unit of the hospital when she died on Friday.

She had asked the hospital chief, who was not named, for early maternity leave, but he refused to let her take any time off.

Colleagues of the victim had backed her request and signed a petition in solidarity, one of them said.

Benbouzid on Saturday ordered an investigation into the death of Boudissa and, in an unprecedented move, tasked the inspector general of the health ministry to head the probe.

The source close to the case said that anyone found directly responsible for her death could face trial for negligent homicide.

State television meanwhile broadcast footage showing Benbouzid visiting the hospital and then Boudissa’s family home to offer his condolences.

In the footage, Benbouzid said he could not comprehend why a pregnant woman was forced to work, while Boudissa’s co-workers denounced those behind her death.

A presidential decree released at the onset of the novel coronavirus pandemic had stated that pregnant women and those raising children were among individuals allowed to take exceptional leave from work.

According to officially declared figures, Algeria has registered 6,821 cases of coronavirus, including 542 deaths, since February.

AFP

Algeria Regime Exploits Virus To Defeat Protesters – Analysts

An Algerian man disinfects his hands with alcohol gel attached to a pole in Algiers' Bab el-Oued district on March 20, 2020. - A total of 82 cases of coronavirus COVID-19 have been confirmed in Algeria, according to the health ministry. An 83rd case was detected in an Italian national, who has since returned to Italy. Two more virus deaths were registered in Algeria yesterday, the health ministry said, bringing to eight the number of fatalities from COVID-19 since the first case was registered in the country at the end of February. Photo: AFP
An Algerian man disinfects his hands with alcohol gel attached to a pole in Algiers’ Bab el-Oued district on March 20, 2020. AFP

 

The Algerian regime is exploiting coronavirus to defeat a protest movement that has shaken it to its core over the last year, analysts say.

Despite protesters deciding to halt their weekly gatherings since the start of the public health crisis, repression of regime opponents has persisted.

Security forces have targeted young bloggers, independent journalists, online media and activists from the “Hirak” protest movement.

Rapidly adopted laws ostensibly aimed at preventing the dissemination of false news and hate speech have further stoked fears of an orchestrated campaign to muzzle free expression.

The new laws “aim to repress citizens’ freedom of expression,” said lawyer and activist Abdelouhab Chiter, a lecturer at the University of Bejaia.

A law on “spreading false information”, he said, “was debated and passed by parliament in a single sitting, in the absence of almost half of its members”.

Akram Belkaid, a journalist for the Oran daily, warned of “a return to the iron fist as in the 1970s”.

“Hirak won the first leg of the game,” he said.

“The regime is on course to win the second leg, and its true goal is to prevent any further rematches being held at all — or in other words, to prevent protests reoccurring once the pandemic has been overcome.”

– Police & judicial harassment –

Karima Direche, a historian specialising in contemporary Maghreb region affairs, said the pandemic was “bread from heaven for the regime”.

“The confinement period lends itself to police and judicial harassment. This explains the dozens of arrests of known and unknown people in all Algeria’s cities,” she said.

READ ALSO: Iran Warns Of COVID-19 Resurgence After 51 New Deaths

“The detentions and judgements prove once again that the judicial regime is totally subservient to the executive”.

The protest movement, calling for the full-scale overhaul of a system in place since independence in 1962, scored one major success: it toppled Abdelaziz Bouteflika after two decades in power.

Members of the unprecedented, leaderless and diverse movement had vowed to continue their mass demonstrations “until they’re all gone!”

President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, elected in a poll that drew less than 40 percent turnout, has said that “a true democracy (is built on) a strong state with justice and national cohesion”.

He also cites “national sovereignty” to justify censorship measures against websites he accuses of being in the pay of foreign organisations.

In the face of Tebboune and the army, which Direche sees as more influential than ever, the political opposition is weak and divided.

“The regime has won on the ground, consolidated by the reprieve offered by the pandemic and the absence of an alternative vision,” writer Kamel Daoud told the Swiss daily Le Temps in late April.

But, he noted, there is “not one regime, but several, competing among themselves — some tempted by real reforms, others set on accumulating ever more control”.

– ‘Ideas don’t die’ –

And while its adversary may have been weakened, the regime has been hit by the double blow of the novel coronavirus and a collapse in oil prices.

As crude sales account for 90 percent of the state’s foreign revenues, that is likely to necessitate deep spending cuts, risking economic disaster and further social disruption.

“The government is more concerned with reviving economic, social and educational activity than any resurgence of the Hirak,” said Mansour Kedidir of the Research Centre for Social and Cultural Anthropology (CRASC) in the second city Oran.

By implementing promised constitutional and institutional reforms, Tebboune “plans to breathe new life into the economy and establish credit in society,” Kedidir said.

“It’ll be a tough job.”

Tebboune plans to insert a mention of the “blessed Hirak” in the preamble of the constitution, effectively declaring it over.

A prominent campaigner for the release of detained protest figure Karim Tabbou, the biomedical researcher Asma Mechakra, said the government wants to use the health crisis and the lockdown to “break up” the Hirak.

“But the regime fails to see that the Hirak is all about ideas and ideas don’t die,” she told AFP.

“Maybe my generation won’t see the change, but we will have laid the groundwork for the blossoming of a new Algeria.”

AFP

Algeria Suspends Travel To Europe Over Coronavirus

 

Algeria’s Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad announced Monday a suspension of all scheduled travel links with Europe in a bid to forestall the spread of coronavirus.

The measure, to take effect from Thursday, will hit all “air and sea travel to and from European countries”, the premier’s office said.

“This exceptional suspension… will be accompanied by a repatriation plan for our citizens currently in the countries concerned,” it said.

Algeria has already announced a suspension from Tuesday of all traffic links with France, which hosts a large Algerian community, following cuts with Spain and Italy.

Four people have died from coronavirus in Algeria, according to the health ministry.

AFP

Algeria Reports First Case Of Coronavirus

PHOTO USED TO DEPICT THE STORY: A member of a medical team takes a the temperature of an Iraqi traveller at the Shalamjah border crossing, some 15 kms southeast of the city of Basra, upon his return from Iran on February 21, 2020. PHOTO:Hussein FALEH / AFP

 

Algerian authorities on Tuesday announced the country’s first case of the novel coronavirus, in an Italian citizen who arrived in the country on February 17.

“One case was confirmed positive for coronavirus (COVID-19), out of two suspected cases (both) of Italian nationality,” the North African country’s health ministry said.

State television said the infected person had been placed in isolation, without offering further details.

The health ministry said it had reinforced its “monitoring and surveillance systems at all points of entry” into Algeria.