Abducted Wife Of Nasarawa Journalist, Others Regain Freedom

 

The wife of a member of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Nasarawa State, Mrs Yahanasu Abubakar, and three other women who were abducted have been released.

They were abducted on Wednesday after gunmen attacked their vehicle along the Gudi-Garaku road in Akwanga Local Government Area of the state while they were on their way to Lafia, the capital.

READ ALSO: Gunmen Abduct Journalist’s Wife, Three Other Women In Nasarawa

The gunmen said to be over 30, were said to have shot at the vehicle conveying the women from Keffi, where Yahanasu had gone to register for the Batch A Corps at the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) orientation camp.

They shot sporadically in the air few, metres from a police checkpoint and forcefully made away with the women.

While it is not yet clear if a ransom was paid to secure their release, the Chairman, NUJ Correspondent Chapel, Mr Suleiman Abubakar, confirmed the development to Channels Television.

Egypt Frees Blogger Detained For Nearly Seven Months

 

Egypt on Wednesday released blogger and journalist Wael Abbas, known for standing up against police violence, after nearly seven months in detention, his lawyer said.

Abbas was arrested at his Cairo home in May and questioned over alleged involvement in helping a “terror group achieve its objectives” and spreading “fake news”.

“Finally, Wael Abbas is released,” his lawyer Gamal Eid, who heads the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, wrote on Facebook.

Abbas has been posting about police violence, torture and corruption on social media for more than a decade.

He was particularly active during the January 2011 street protests that toppled president Hosni Mubarak.

Abbas’s Twitter account was suspended in December 2017.

A criminal court in Giza near Cairo ordered his release on December 1.

Prosecutors lodged an appeal which was rejected last week.

Under the terms of Abbas’s release, he will have to report to police twice a week.

Human rights groups regularly criticise President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s government for cracking down on secular and left-wing activists, as well as Islamists close to the banned Muslim Brotherhood.

A growing number of activists have been detained in Egypt in recent months.

As army chief, Sisi overthrew Egypt’s first freely elected president Mohamed Morsi in 2013 after mass street protests.

Sisi was re-elected in March after securing more than 97 per cent of the vote in the absence of any serious competition.

AFP

Press Freedom Advocates Freed After Detention In Tanzania

 

Two press freedom advocates taken from their hotel in Tanzania by security officers have been released, a South African government official said Thursday.

South African journalist Angela Quintal, Africa programme coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), and her Kenyan colleague Muthoki Mumo had been detained by authorities on Wednesday without explanation.

However, South African foreign ministry spokesman Ndivhuwo Mabaya told AFP on Thursday that “they were both released”.

Mabaya said their release came “after a lot of calls” but that neither woman had been given back their passport.

“We need to understand the circumstances… (we) must get all the facts in order to engage the Tanzanian authorities,” Mabaya said.

He added that both women were currently at the South African embassy in Tanzania’s economic capital Dar es Salaam.

CPJ said that Quintal, a former editor of South Africa’s Mail and Guardian newspaper, and Mumo were legally in Tanzania “on a reporting mission” when they were detained.

“Officers who identified themselves as working with the Tanzanian immigration authority detained Quintal and Mumo in their hotel room in Dar es Salaam,” the CPJ said in a statement.

“The officials searched the pair’s belongings and would not return their passports when asked. Quintal and Mumo were then escorted from the hotel and… taken to an unknown location.”

Increasing repression 

Soon after their detention, an uncharacteristic tweet was sent from Quintal’s Twitter account reading “God is great we are released going back to our hotel”, raising fears that someone had accessed her electronic devices.

“The tweet by @angelaquintal was not sent by her,” her niece Genevieve Quintal, also a journalist, wrote. “This shows someone is using her account.”

Both Quintal and Mumo’s social media accounts have since been deactivated.

Tanzania government spokesman Hassan Abbasi said he did not know why the two had been taken for questioning.

“My office is monitoring why the so-called CPJ journalists were allowed to enter the country but later were interviewed by immigration and released,” he said on Twitter.

Since his election three years ago, Tanzania’s President John Magufuli has cracked down on independent media, closing down critical newspapers while rights groups have protested against the imposition of restrictive laws on freedom of expression.

Reporters Without Borders, a pressure group, ranked Tanzania 93rd out of 180 countries worldwide in its 2018 World Press Freedom Index, down 10 places on the previous year.

Other freedoms are also under pressure, with a powerful Dar es Salaam official last week announcing an anti-gay witch-hunt to track down people suspected of engaging in homosexuality, which is illegal in Tanzania under British colonial-era laws.

AFP

79 Abducted Pupils Regain Freedom In Cameroon

 

Seventy-nine school pupils abducted by gunmen this week in a troubled English-speaking region of Cameroon have been freed, the country’s communications minister told AFP Wednesday.

“All 79 students have been released,” said Issa Bakary Tchiroma, without giving details of the circumstances under which they were set free.

The kidnappings on Monday were the first such mass abductions seen in Cameroon and coincide with an upsurge of political tensions in the majority French-speaking country.

The students were enrolled at the Presbyterian Secondary School in Bamenda, capital of Cameroon’s Northwest Region — one of two areas where surging anglophone separatist militancy has been met with a brutal crackdown by authorities.

Their release comes a day after Cameroon’s 85-year-old President Paul Biya was sworn in for a seventh term in office.

Biya has promised to pursue policies of decentralisation to address “frustrations and aspirations” in English-speaking regions.

A six-minute video seen by AFP on Monday, but which could not be confirmed independently, showed 11 boys apparently aged about 15 giving their identity and name of the school in English, and adding that they were abducted by the “Amba Boys” — a name for anglophone separatists.

AFP

Kidnapped Kaduna Lecturers Regain Freedom

Kaduna Assembly Declares Ex-Deputy Speaker, Another Lawmaker's Seats Vacant

 

The three lecturers of Shehu Idris College of Health Technology in Makarfi Local Government Area of Kaduna state have been released.

The Spokesman of Kaduna State Police Command, Yakubu Sabo, says they were released at about  8pm on Tuesday night.

He said that the lecturers were released after the management of the college established contact with the kidnappers.

According to the police spokesman, the victims are in good condition and  have since been reunited with their families.

The lecturers were abducted on Sunday night when they were travelling to Makarfi from Zaria in the Kaduna north senatorial district.

Among them were two women and one man.

Their release comes 24 hours after the police vowed to launch a manhunt for the kidnappers and rescue the lecturers alive.

 

Kidnapped Syrian Engineer Regains Freedom In Sokoto

 

A Syrian engineer who was abducted last week by unknown gunmen in Sokoto state in northern Nigeria has been released, the police said on Wednesday.

Abdul Nasir was kidnapped on May 16 on his way to a road construction site outside the state capital of Sokoto city by armed men who killed three policemen that tried to rescue him.

“Abdul Nasir was released on Tuesday at about 12:30 am (1130 GMT) by his abductors,” said Sokoto state police spokeswoman Cordelia Nwawe.

“He was dropped off along Arkilla Road on the outskirts of the city”.

Nwawe declined to give further details but said no ransom was paid.

Kidnapping has not been common in Sokoto but cattle rustling and kidnapping gangs operate in neighbouring Zamfara state to the west, which has prompted the deployment of troops.

In March 2011 a British construction engineer and his Italian colleague were kidnapped from their lodgings in Kebbi state, which borders Sokoto to the east.

It later emerged that Boko Haram splinter group Ansaru was behind the abduction.

The hostages were killed in a botched rescue operation involving British and Nigerian forces in a house in Sokoto where they were kept for 10 months.

AFP  

Kidnapped British Tourists Regain Freedom In DRC

 

Two British tourists who were kidnapped in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been freed, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Sunday.

Their vehicle was attacked on Friday in the Virunga national park, a famed haven for gorillas and other endangered species.

Their guard was killed and their driver was also kidnapped. The Britons were released unharmed, while the driver was injured.

“I am delighted to announce that two British nationals who were held hostage in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been released,” Johnson said in a statement.

“I pay tribute to the DRC authorities and the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation for their tireless help during this terrible case.

“My thoughts are now with the family of Virunga Park ranger Rachel Makissa Baraka, who was killed during the kidnapping, and with the injured driver and the released British nationals as they recover from this traumatic incident.”

A Foreign Office spokeswoman told AFP that the two Britons were released unharmed and the ministry would continue to provide support to the Britons and their families.

One of the most important conservation sites in the world, Virunga Park covers 7,800 square kilometres (3,000 miles) along a swathe of eastern DR Congo abutting the border with Uganda and Rwanda.

Established in 1925, Virunga is home to about a quarter of the world’s population of critically endangered mountain gorillas, as well as to eastern lowland gorillas, chimpanzees, okapis, lions, elephants and hippos.

But it is located in DR Congo’s North Kivu province, where armed groups are fighting for control of territorial and natural resources, and poaching is a major threat.

On April 2, a park ranger died in an attack by armed men while guarding the site of a hydroelectric plant that is under construction.

On April 9, five rangers and a driver were killed in an ambush in the park.

I Support June 12 As Democracy Day — Dino Melaye

Democracy Day, June 12A federal lawmaker, Senator Dino Melaye, has joined many other Nigerians in advocating the recognition of June 12 as Nigeria’s Democracy Day.

He was speaking on Channels Television’s political programme, Sunday Politics, as Nigerians marked the 23rd anniversary of the June 12, 1993 presidential election widely acclaimed to be the freest and fairest in the country’s history.

The poll is believed to have been won by business mogul and philanthropist, Chief Moshood Abiola but was annulled by the then military regime of General Ibrahim Babangida.

Chief Abiola later died in custody on July 7, 1998 following his arrest and detention by the regime of General Sani Abacha, for attempting to actualise his mandate.

Senator Melaye said, “Without gainsaying, one will say that it is mandatory, pertinent and obligatory and it is a bitter necessity that as a government and as a people, we do recognise the historical significance of June 12.

“I am one of the advocates of declaring that day as our Democracy Day because it has a lot of historical and revolutionary value.

“I will support that that day be declared our Democracy Day and we should continue to herald that, we should continue to agitate that and I’m sure someday sometime, reason and logic will come to play.”

Struggle For Emancipation

He said that the reason why June 12 is not yet recognised nationally is because most politicians or people in government do not understand the significance of the day.

Melaye said that not every Nigeria politician is a democrat, “Only democrats will understand the significance of June 12.

“But when those who do not even believe in the tenets and doctrines of democracy find themselves in position of authority, they may not actually recognise the struggle that brought about the June 12 victory.”

Speaking further on the significance of June 12 if recognised as Democracy Day, Senator Melaye explained, “Every struggle has the impetus to propel people to the next level. Today most public holidays in the United States of America are significant and have positive concomitant effects with some revolutionary struggle.

“The June 12 struggle for me was a struggle for emancipation, freedom and departure from the old order and giving it that historical resonance by recognising that date will have a resultant effect on Nigeria’s political evolution now and in the future.”