The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo; Senate President, Ahmad Lawan; Ekiti State Governor and Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), Kayode Fayemi among others on Sunday converged in Owerri to celebrate the first year anniversary of Imo State governor Hope Uzodinma.
Other governors at the Dan Anyiam Stadium -the venue of the event – include those of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello; Lagos, Babajide Sanwo-Olu; Ebonyi, Dave Umahi and other personalities.
Yobe State Governor and chairman, All Progressives Congress (APC) Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, Mai Mala Buni, was also in attendance.
Uzodinma was sworn in as Imo State Governor on January 15, 2020, by the Chief Judge of the state, Paschal Nnadi after the Supreme Court sacked Emeka Ihedioha of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The death of Cardiff forward Emiliano Sala in a plane crash a year ago will be marked by his family on Tuesday in “private, quiet contemplation of their loss”, their lawyer said.
The 28-year-old striker was killed when the small plane taking him to join the then Premier League side after being bought from French side Nantes for £15 million ($19.5 million, 17.6 million euros) crashed off the Channel island of Guernsey.
There are still unresolved issues surrounding the player’s death, such as who was responsible for the crash in which pilot David Ibottson also died, and, above all, the payment of the 17-million-euro ($18.85 million, 17.6 million euros) fee agreed for his transfer.
British aviation accident investigators said Tuesday they would release their final report into the crash by the end of March.
In September, football’s world governing body FIFA ordered Cardiff, relegated last year to the Championship, to pay the first instalment of the transfer fee of six million euros. But the Welsh club has taken the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, whose decision is not expected until June.
The Sala family — who suffered another tragic loss when his father Horacio died of a heart attack three months after his son — said their priority was for a full inquest to take place so they could find out what happened on that fateful night.
“The Sala family will mark the anniversary of the untimely death of Emiliano in private, quiet contemplation of their loss,” the family’s lawyer in Britain, Daniel Machover, said in a statement.
“The family’s primary concern remains for the full inquest to take place as soon as possible so that they can finally learn the truth about what happened and ensure that no family has to suffer a similar preventable loss of a loved one.”
The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said its investigation “is now at an advanced stage and we intend to publish our final report by the end of March 2020.”
Sala’s death will be commemorated by supporters in Cardiff on Tuesday and Nantes will remember their former player on Sunday when they play another of his former clubs, Bordeaux.
‘What a son he was’
The family — Sala’s mother Mercedes and his younger siblings Dario and Romina — told the BBC when they visited them in Argentina in late December they were overcome by the outpouring of grief and gifts they had received. Even Sala’s French hairdresser had paid the family a visit.
Mercedes said she used to go over to France every year to celebrate Sala’s birthday on October 31 and stay with him, bringing with her ingredients for traditional Argentinian dishes such as empanadas.
“He (Sala) was shy, but he would always stop, open the windows and start signing autographs and taking selfies,” said Mercedes.
“All those fans, today, are the ones that I want to thank because they are still sending me pictures I had never seen before.
“I receive so much stuff from France, from England, from the rest of Argentina.”
Dario spoke of how tight-knit a unit they were while Mercedes said she would speak with Sala as often as two or three times a day.
“There was distance, but it was like we were all together,” Dario said. “He’d ask me a lot about football, about the team, about his performances.”
Mercedes says she had never recovered from the death of her eldest son.
“I can’t say I found peace, unfortunately,” she said. “I’m still fighting.
“I am practically dead while living. It’s been a terrible, terrible year. I loved him so much. I would tell him every day… what a son he was.”
The Alumni of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) is currently holding its golden anniversary in Akoka, Yaba area of Lagos State.
The event has drawn participants including the immediate past Director-General, United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and special representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy, Dr. Kandeh Yumkella, among others.
Yumkella, being the guest lecturer will speak on the topic, “How Nigeria can achieve the sustainable development goals by 2030.”
Other participants include the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals, Mrs. Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer at Financial Derivatives Limited, Mr Bismarck Rewane among others.
Fierce clashes broke out between protesters and riot police in Hong Kong on Sunday as thousands marched through the strife-torn city, during a day of global protests aimed at casting a shadow over communist China’s upcoming 70th birthday.
Beijing is preparing for huge, tightly-choreographed festivities from Tuesday to mark the founding of the People’s Republic of China, including a huge military parade that will revel in the country’s emergence as a global superpower.
But ongoing unrest in Hong Kong threatens to upstage those celebrations as the semi-autonomous city boils with public anger over the erosion of its special freedoms under Beijing’s rule.
Democracy activists in the financial hub had vowed to ramp up their nearly four-month-long campaign ahead of Tuesday’s National Day celebrations, which Hong Kong protesters have dubbed a “Day of Grief”.
Sunday witnessed the most intense clashes in weeks as police used tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons at multiple locations during running battles with hardcore protesters hurling rocks and petrol bombs.
Using online forums and social media, protesters had called for “anti-totalitarian” rallies to be held around the globe. Marches were held in Australia and Taiwan, with more planned in some 40 locations across Europe and North America later in the day.
Clashes broke out before Hong Kong’s unsanctioned march had begun after angry crowds in the shopping district of Causeway Bay surrounded and heckled officers who were conducting stop and searches.
But the tear gas fired by police only emboldened the crowds who then began walking through the streets in their thousands.
Some hardcore activists vandalised subway stations, tore down banners proclaiming the upcoming 70th anniversary celebrations and set fire to makeshift barricades.
Many marchers were holding so-called “Chinazi flags”, a version of the Chinese flag with yellow stars arranged in the shape of a swastika.
Police spent hours firing tear gas and rubber bullets at different locations across the city centre and were seen making multiple arrests throughout the day.
An AFP reporter witnessed masked men repeatedly beating pro-democracy protesters in the district of Wanchai using long sticks.
It was not clear if the men were police dressed as protesters, a tactic used by the force with increased frequency.
A member of the media was also attended to by volunteer medics after being hit in the face with a police projectile.
Hong Kong’s protesters have stepped up their international lobbying in recent weeks.
A 20-year-old student, who gave his first name as Tony, was waving a Ukrainian flag.
Many of Hong Kong’s more hardcore protesters have taken inspiration from the 2014 Ukrainian Revolution which ousted a pro-Russian president.
“We are hoping that if we connect to different parts of the world and fight against Chinese communism, we will win this movement,” he told AFP.
A 62-year-old protester, who gave his surname as Man, said he felt people’s livelihoods and freedoms had deteriorated since Hong Kong was handed back to China by Britain in 1997.
“I don’t want to topple the regime, but it definitely needs to changed,” he told AFP. “It needs to seek a reconciliation with the people.”
Months of unrest
Over the last 17 weeks, Hong Kong has witnessed the worst political unrest since its handover to China in 1997 with huge pro-democracy rallies as well as increasingly intense clashes between police and a minority of violent protesters.
The city’s summer of discontent was first triggered by an extradition bill to the mainland that has now been shelved.
But the movement has since morphed into a call for free elections and less intervention from Beijing.
On Friday and Saturday night, tens of thousands of people turned out for two peaceful rallies.
But there were brief clashes on Saturday night when police used water cannon and tear gas to beat back small groups of protesters hurling bricks and petrol bombs at a government building.
Students are planning a one-day strike on Monday while activists have called for people to dress in black on Tuesday.
Under the policy of “one country, two systems”, China has offered tiny Hong Kong certain liberties denied to citizens on the mainland -– including freedom of expression, unfettered access to the internet and an independent judiciary.
But the arrangement is due to expire in 2047 and many accuse Beijing of eroding some of those freedoms in recent years.
Protesters are calling for an independent inquiry into the police, an amnesty for those arrested and the right to elect their leaders — demands repeatedly dismissed by Beijing and city leader Carrie Lam.
On Sunday, Lam’s office announced she would be travelling to Beijing to attend the National Day celebrations.
Britain’s high commissioner to India laid a wreath on Saturday on the 100th anniversary of the Amritsar massacre, one of the worst atrocities of colonial rule for which London is still to apologise.
The Jallianwala Bagh massacre, as it is known in India, saw British troops fire on thousands of unarmed men, women and children in the northern city of Amritsar on the afternoon of April 13, 1919.
The number of casualties from the event, which galvanised support for independence, is unclear. Colonial-era records put the death toll at 379, but Indian figures put the number closer to 1,000.
Even 100 years on, Britain has still made no official apology and Dominic Asquith, high commissioner, on Saturday followed suit at the Jallianwala Bagh walled garden where bullet marks are still visible.
“You might want to re-write history, as the Queen said, but you can’t,” Asquith said.
“What you can do, as the Queen said, is to learn the lessons of history. I believe strongly we are. There is no question that we will always remember this. We will never forget what happened here.”
In the memorial’s guest book Asquith, a descendant of Herbert Asquith, prime minister from 1908-16, called the events “shameful”.
“We deeply regret what happened and the suffering caused,” he wrote.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a tweet called the tragedy “horrific” and that the memory of those killed “inspires us to work even harder to build an India they would be proud of.”
Opposition leader Rahul Gandhi was present in Amritsar and on Twitter called the massacre “a day of infamy that stunned the entire world and changed the course of the Indian freedom struggle.”
In a visit in 2013 then British prime minister David Cameron described what happened as “deeply shameful” but stopped short of an apology.
In 1997, Queen Elizabeth II laid a wreath at the site but her gaffe-prone husband Prince Philip stole the headlines by reportedly saying that Indian estimates for the death count were “vastly exaggerated”.
On Wednesday, British Prime Minister Theresa May told the House of Commons that the massacre was “a shameful scar on British Indian history”.
“We deeply regret what happened and the suffering caused,” May said, but she, too, avoided saying she was sorry.
Amarinder Singh, chief minister of Punjab state, said May’s words were not enough.
He said “an unequivocal official apology” is needed for the “monumental barbarity”.
Singh said thousands attended a candlelight march Friday in memory of the victims ahead of a commemoration ceremony later on Saturday.
Around 10,000 unarmed men, women and children had gathered in the Jallianwala Bagh walled public garden in Amritsar on April 13, 1919.
Many were angry about the recent extension of repressive measures and the arrest of two local leaders that had sparked violent protests three days before.
The 13th of April was also a big spring festival, and the crowd — estimated by some at 20,000 — included pilgrims visiting the nearby Golden Temple sacred to Sikhs.
Brigadier General Reginald Edward Harry Dyer arrived with dozens of troops, sealed off the exit and without warning ordered the soldiers to open fire.
Many tried to escape by scaling the high walls surrounding the area. Others jumped into a deep, open well at the site as the troops fired.
One of several eyewitness accounts compiled by two historians and published in the Indian Express newspaper this week described the horror.
“Heaps of dead bodies lay there, some on their backs and some with their faces upturned. A number of them were poor innocent children. I shall never forget the sight,” said Ratan Devi, whose husband was killed.
Dyer, dubbed “The Butcher of Amritsar”, said later the firing was “not to disperse the meeting but to punish the Indians for disobedience”.
Indian newspapers this week repeated their calls for an apology for a massacre that Winston Churchill, then secretary of state for war, called “monstrous”.
“But even in the centenary year of the massacre, Britain has refused to… take that important step,” the Hindustan Times said in an editorial. May’s statement was “perhaps qualitatively a notch stronger… but is far from enough.”
Rwanda on Sunday began 100 days of mourning for more than 800,000 people slaughtered in a genocide that shocked the world, a quarter of a century on from the day it began.
President Paul Kagame started off a week of commemoration activities by lighting a remembrance flame at the Kigali Genocide Memorial, where more than 250,000 victims are believed to be buried, mainly from the Tutsi people.
They are only some of those killed by the genocidal Hutu forces, members of the old army and militia forces called the “Interahamwe”, that began their bloody campaign of death on April 7, 1994, the day after the assassination of President Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu.
Some were shot; most were beaten or hacked by machetes.
The killings lasted until Kagame, then 36, led the mainly Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) into Kigali on July 4, ending the slaughter and taking control of the devastated country.
Kagame, now 61 and who has been in power ever since is leading the memorial to the dead.
After lighting the flame, accompanied by his wife Jeanette, African Union chief Moussa Faki and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Kagame is expected to make a speech.
He will speak at the Kigali Convention Centre, a dome-shaped auditorium in the centre of the capital, a modern building emblematic of the regeneration of Rwanda since the dark days of 1994.
Kagame will then preside over a vigil at the country’s main football ground. The Amahoro National Stadium — whose name means “peace” in Rwanda’s Kinyarwanda language — was used by the UN during the genocide to protect thousands of people of the Tutsi minority from being massacred on the streets outside.
In past years, ceremonies have triggered painful flashbacks for some in the audience, with crying, shaking, screaming and fainting amid otherwise quiet vigils.
For many survivors, forgiveness remains difficult when the bodies of their loved ones have not been found and many killers are still free.
A quarter of a century on, the east African nation has recovered economically, but the trauma still casts a dark shadow.
Kagame has kept an authoritarian hold as he steers the small, landlocked East African nation through the economic recovery. Growth in 2018 was a heady 7.2 per cent, according to the African Development Bank (AfDB).
Some 10 leaders are expected to pay their respects, mostly from nations across the continent.
Former colonial ruler Belgium is sending Prime Minister Charles Michel.
French President Emmanuel Macron is not attending but expressed his “solidarity with the Rwandan people and his compassion to the victims and their families” in a statement Sunday.
The statement said Macron would like to make April 7 a “day of commemoration of the genocide” in France, without giving further details.
At the ceremony, France is represented by Herve Berville, a 29-year old Rwandan-born member of parliament in Paris.
Rwanda has accused France of being complicit in the genocide through its support for the Hutu-led government and of helping perpetrators escape.
Paris has consistently denied complicity in the bloodshed, though former president Nicolas Sarkozy in 2010 acknowledged France had made “serious errors of judgement”.
On Friday, Macron appointed an expert panel to investigate France’s actions at the time.
Macron is not the only notable absence; former ally Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni is also not attending, amid accusations by Kigali that Uganda is supporting Rwandan rebels.
The family of abducted Dapchi schoolgirl, Leah Sharibu has again called on the Federal Government to secure the release of their daughter from the enclaves of the Boko Haram sect.
Speaking on behalf of the family, the Pastor of the Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA), Pastor Fidelis Saul in Yola, regretted that the indifference shown in facilitating Leah’s release is as a result of her faith.
“I believe that the government is taking sides. This is because Leah is not the only person that was taken away. But why Leah is still being left behind today is because she is always calling Jesus Christ her saviour.
“The government is taking sides, they see Christians as nothing. That is the reason why when we are crying, nobody will care about our crying. If the government knows that we are together, they should allow Leah to come back home right now before elections.
Thousands of North Korean troops followed by artillery and tanks paraded through Pyongyang Sunday as the nuclear-armed country celebrated its 70th birthday, but it refrained from displaying the intercontinental ballistic missiles that have seen it hit with sanctions.
The missiles’ conspicuous absence drew praise from US President Donald Trump who called it “a big and very positive statement from North Korea.”
“Thank you To Chairman Kim. We will both prove everyone wrong!” Trump tweeted. “There is nothing like good dialogue from two people that like each other! Much better than before I took office.”
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un also used the parade to show off his friendship with China, raising the hand of President Xi Jinping’s envoy as they saluted the crowd together afterward.
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), as the North is officially known, was proclaimed on September 9, 1948, three years after Moscow and Washington divided the peninsula between them in the closing days of the Second World War.
Such set-piece dates are a mainstay of the North’s political calendar and have for years been opportunities to demonstrate progress in its quest for a missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the United States.
But too militaristic a display this time might have risked upsetting the recent diplomatic dalliance on the peninsula after Kim’s Singapore meeting with Trump in June and his third summit with the South’s President Moon Jae-in due in Pyongyang later this month.
After a 21-gun salute, dozens of infantry units marched through Kim Il Sung Square, some in night-vision goggles or wielding rocket-propelled grenade launchers, as the current leader — the founder’s grandson — looked on from a rostrum.
Li Zhanshu, one of the seven members of the Chinese Communist party’s Politburo Standing Committee, the country’s most powerful body, sat next to him, the two of them occasionally exchanging comments.
Armoured personnel carriers, multiple rocket launchers and tanks followed, with biplanes flying overhead in a ’70’ formation.
At one point jets trailing red, white and blue smoke — the colours of the North Korean flag — roared above the Juche Tower, the stone monument to Kim Il Sung’s political philosophy.
Finally came the missiles, the traditional climax of the parades. But the only ones on show were short-range battlefield devices, the Kumsong-3 anti-ship cruise missile, and the Pongae-5 surface-to-air weapon.
There was no sign of the Hwasong-14 and -15 rockets that can reach the mainland United States and changed the strategic balance when they were first tested last year.
“It looks like the North Koreans really tried to tone down the military nature of this,” said Chad O’Carroll, managing director of Korea Risk Group.
Any display of longer-range missiles would have cast doubt on North Korea’s commitment to denuclearisation, he added.
Pyongyang has not publicly stated a willingness to give up the weapons it has spent decades developing at huge political and financial cost, but it has been on a diplomatic charm offensive for months.
In April, Kim declared that the North’s nuclear programme had been successfully completed and “socialist economic construction” was the new strategic priority.
In a speech Sunday, ceremonial president Kim Yong Nam lauded the country and its army as “the strongest in the world”, but did not mention nuclear weapons.
And immediately after the parade thousands of citizens rallied through the square, alongside floats displaying economic themes and calls for Korean reunification — the peninsula has remained split since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in an armistice rather than a peace treaty.
Thousands of accompanying citizens waved bouquets and flags, chanting “Long live” to the leader.
Diplomatic invitations for the anniversary went out around the world, but the only head of state who attended was Mauritanian president Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz — although AFP spotted French actor Gerard Depardieu seated in a section below the main tribune.
Afterward Kim and Li saluted the cheering crowd, the North Korean raising his guest’s hand into the air.
Beijing is its neighbour’s key diplomatic protector and trade partner, and after years in the deep freeze over the North’s weapons, ambitions ties have warmed rapidly this year, with Kim visiting China three times to meet President Xi Jinping.
Speculation that Xi might reciprocate for the anniversary did not come to pass — Hu Jintao remains the last Chinese president to visit in 2005 — but O’Carroll said Pyongyang appeared to want to promote its friendship with Beijing.
“China is still a very important player and its presence here with such a high-level delegation is intended in some way to remind the US of that,” he said.
Washington is seeking the “final, fully verified denuclearisation of North Korea”, while Pyongyang has only publicly affirmed its commitment to working towards the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, a euphemism open to interpretation on both sides.
The process has become bogged down in recent weeks, with the North demanding a formal declaration that the Korean War is over, and the South’s Moon caught between his neighbour and his ally.
“Apparently Kim Jong Un thought that now was not the time to unnecessarily provoke Trump,” said Kim Yong-Hyun, professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University in Seoul.
But some things do not change.
Many of the tanks and other vehicles at the parade still bore a slogan on the front: “Destroy the US imperialist aggressors, the sworn enemy of the DPRK people!”
Russians on Tuesday marked one year since a metro bombing in the northwestern city of Saint Petersburg that killed 15 people and wounded dozens of others as investigators said they have identified all those responsible.
In Saint Petersburg, the country’s second largest city, residents came to lay flowers and mourn at the metro station where the attack took place and attended a church memorial service.
“When something like this happens, it’s impossible to remain indifferent, not to realise that now no one is safe anywhere. That’s how our life is,” said 35-year-old Galina Semenets.
“Our family has still not managed to accept this. The pain has still not left us,” said another woman, Natalia, who lost a relative in the attack.
The alleged perpetrator, Akbarjon Djalilov, who died in the attack, was a 22-year-old Russian citizen but was born in ex-Soviet Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia.
The largely Muslim region has been a major source of fighters who have travelled to join the Islamic State jihadist group in Syria and Iraq.
Russia’s Investigative Committee, which is in charge of the probe, said Tuesday that it is “in the final stages” and 11 suspects have been detained.
The investigators said they had managed to establish “the whole chain of people involved in committing this crime, including the mastermind, the organiser, and perpetrators.”
The attack was “committed by one of the radical Islamic terrorist groups,” investigators said, without specifying, adding that the plotters did not know each personally and communicated using electronic devices.
The bombing was claimed by a little-known group, the Imam Shamil Battalion, which experts say is linked to al-Qaeda.
Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has reiterated his administration’s commitment in serving the people of the state.
He made this pledge on Saturday in an interview with journalists after projects inspection while celebrating the second anniversary of the Supreme Court Judgment validating his election as governor.
“We give God the glory, we give God all the honour because January 27, 2016, was when the Supreme Court gave us the nod as people who were duly elected with the people’s mandate,” he said.
“I am quite impressed by the kind of support we are getting from everywhere. We will not renege on our promises, we will not disappoint them. All we need is their prayer. “We also commend the Supreme Court who has shown commitment to being the last hope of not only the common man but everybody.”
While thanking his people for their continuous support, Wike promised to continue using their mandate to develop the state.
The governor directed contractors handling rehabilitation of the Court of Appeal Complex, the National Industrial Court, the Produce House, the Mother and Child Hospital and the Cinemas/Restaurants at the Pleasure Park, May 2018 to complete the projects.
He expressed satisfaction with the pace of work at the different project sites, stressing that the administration will sustain the funding of all the projects.