FG Hails German Govt On Repatriation Of Benin Bronzes

The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed receives the German Government delegation on the repatriation of the Benin artefacts from Germany. Credit: FG


The Federal Government on Wednesday hailed the German Government for the repatriation of Benin artefacts from the European country.

About 1,130 pieces of Benin Bronzes are expected to be returned to Nigeria next year, with Germany expressing its readiness to willingly decide to return the items, thus becoming the first country to do so.

As part of moves to achieve this, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, received the German government delegation that came to Nigeria for the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding.

According to a statement issued by Segun Adeyemi, the spokesman of the Minister, Mohammed said the MoU “marked the beginning of efforts that will culminate in the signing, in December 2021, of the agreement on the repatriation of the Benin Bronzes.”

This is even as he described the MoU signed between Nigeria and Germany in Abuja as a major step toward the repatriation of hundreds of Benin Bronzes from Germany next year.

“The German Government and the German people have taken a bold step by agreeing to voluntarily, without too much coercion on the part of Nigeria to return these artefacts. Because what the return of the artefacts will do is that it’s going to really cement further the relationship between Nigeria and Germany. Culture today has become one of the effective tools for soft diplomacy,” the Minister said.

“The return of the artefacts should not be an end of an era but rather the beginning of further cooperation between the two parties.”

Mohammed said a team of experts will leave Nigeria very soon to engage with stakeholders in Germany on the repatriation of the artefacts.

Although Germany acquired the artefacts through global trading in artefacts, the Minister explained that it had voluntarily agreed to relinquish them in order to further strengthen the bilateral ties between Nigeria and Germany.

He added: “A team of experts will be visiting some museum in Germany very soon and the whole idea is again confidence building to especially assuage their feeling of loss and make it lighter and easier for them and to also make their position more tenable with the people.”

In his remarks, the Director-General for Culture and Communication of the German Federal Foreign Office, Dr. Andreas Gorgen, said the release of the artefacts is part of a cultural policy that will contribute to healing the wound inflicted by the looting of the artefacts from Nigeria and to establishing a new relationship between Germany and Nigeria.

He commended the efforts of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments and said the signed MoU was based on what the Minister initiated during his visit to Germany earlier in the year.

Members of the German delegation included the Director of the Museum at Rothenbaum, Prof. Barbara Plankensteiner; President of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, Prof. Hermann Parzinger and the German Ambassador to Nigeria, Birgitt Ory.

Germany Become First Team To Qualify For 2022 World Cup

Germany players celebrate after winning the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualification Group J football match between North Macedonia and Germany at the Toshe Proeski National Arena in Skopje on October 11, 2021. Nikolay DOYCHINOV / AFP



Germany continued their spotless record under new coach Hansi Flick and secured qualification for the 2022 World Cup as Chelsea striker Timo Werner scored twice in a 4-0 rout of North Macedonia on Monday.

Just months after they slumped to a shock 2-1 defeat to the same opponent on home soil, Germany cruised to a dominant win in Skopje to increase their lead at the top of Group J to eight points and secure their berth at next year’s tournament in Qatar.

Werner’s Chelsea team-mate Kai Havertz also got on the scoresheet and Jamal Musiala scored his first international goal as Germany made it five wins out of five under Flick, who took over from Joachim Loew after Euro 2020.

The 56-year-old coach said 2014 World Cup winners Germany still had “a long way to go”, but insisted his team could compete with the best in the world.

“Our players have the quality to rival France, Italy and Belgium. I am very optimistic,” he said.

Midfielder Leon Goretzka also backed Flick to take Germany back to the top of the world game after failing to make it past the first two rounds at both of their last two major tournament appearances.

“We still need to improve to get back to the top, but there are few people better placed than Hansi to do that,” he told RTL.

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Goalscorer Werner added that Flick’s faith in him had helped him to shrug off growing criticism of his form in recent months.

“When a coach likes you and trusts you, then it helps every striker, especially me. I need that trust, and Flick gives that to me 100 percent,” he said.

Germany were wasteful in the first half, with striker Werner squandering several chances and Joshua Kimmich and Serge Gnabry forcing saves from North Macedonian goalkeeper Stole Dimitrievski.

Havertz finally opened the scoring just after the break, slotting into an empty net after a lightning counter-attack.

Werner doubled the lead with a sharp volley on 70 minutes, before curling a third into the bottom corner a few minutes later.

Seven minutes from time and shortly after coming on to replace Werner, Musiala fired a low shot past Dimitrievski.

The goal made him Germany’s youngest scorer since 1910 at just 18 years and 227 days.

“Jamal is very cool in front of goal for a player his age,” said Flick.


100-Year-Old Ex-Nazi Camp Guard Tells Court He’s ‘Innocent’

Man Bags 15 Years In Prison For N5.2m Fraud
A file photo of a court gavel.


A 100-year-old former Nazi concentration camp guard, the oldest person charged with complicity in the murder of thousands of detainees, told a German court on Friday that he was not guilty.

“I am innocent,” said Josef Schuetz, who stands accused of “knowingly and willingly” assisting in the murder of 3,518 prisoners at the Sachsenhausen camp in Oranienburg, north of Berlin, between 1942 and 1945.

When asked about his work at the camp, he insisted that he “knows nothing” about what happened there and that he did “absolutely nothing”.

“Everything is torn” from his head, he said, complaining that he was the only one in the dock.

Allegations against Schuetz include aiding and abetting the “execution by firing squad of Soviet prisoners of war in 1942” and the murder of prisoners “using the poisonous gas Zyklon B”.

The Sachsenhausen camp detained more than 200,000 people between 1936 and 1945, including Jews, Roma, regime opponents and gay people.

Tens of thousands of inmates died from forced labour, murder, medical experiments, hunger or disease before the camp was liberated by Soviet troops, according to the Sachsenhausen Memorial and Museum.

‘No man like you’ 

Schuetz’s defence had said at the opening of the case on Thursday that he would not speak about his time at the camp, but would only provide details about his personal life.

Arriving alone at the hearing with his walking aid, Schuetz recounted in detail his past, including his work at his family’s farm in Lithuania with his seven siblings before his enrolment in the army in 1938.

After the war, he was transferred to a detainees camp in Russia before he was sent to Brandenburg state in Germany where he worked as a farmer and later as a locksmith.

Speaking with a clear voice, he spoke about his past birthdays with his daughters and grandchildren, or about his late wife.

“My wife always said that ‘there’s no other man in the world like you’,” said the widower since 1986.

Schuetz remains free during the trial. Even if convicted, he is highly unlikely to be put behind bars given his age.

More than seven decades after World War II, German prosecutors are racing to bring the last surviving Nazi perpetrators to justice.

The 2011 conviction of former guard John Demjanjuk, on the basis that he served as part of Hitler’s killing machine, set a legal precedent and paved the way to several of these twilight justice cases.

Since then, courts have handed down several guilty verdicts on those grounds rather than for murders or atrocities directly linked to the individual accused.

Among those brought to late justice were Oskar Groening, an accountant at Auschwitz, and Reinhold Hanning, a former SS guard at Auschwitz.

Both were convicted at the age of 94 of complicity in mass murder, but died before they could be imprisoned.

Most recently, former SS guard Bruno Dey was found guilty at the age of 93 last year and was given a two-year suspended sentence.

Separately in the northern German town of Itzehoe, a 96-year-old former secretary in a Nazi death camp is on trial for complicity in murder.

She dramatically fled before the start of her trial, but was caught several hours later. Her trial resumes on October 19.


Merkel Meets Pope, Draghi In Farewell Visit To Rome

This photo taken and handout on October 7, 2021 by the Vatican media shows Pope Francis and German chancellor Angela Merkel during a private audience at the Vatican. Handout / AFP / VATICAN MEDIA


German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed climate change and clerical abuse with Pope Francis Thursday in a farewell trip to Rome that included talks with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.

Merkel, who is bowing out after 16 years in power, also visited St Peter’s Basilica and will lunch at a restaurant in central Rome before giving a speech at a peace conference at the Colosseum.

She was honoured with a ceremonial welcome by the Swiss Guards at the Vatican before meeting and exchanging gifts with the pope, whom she has met several times before.

She said afterwards they discussed climate change — an issue on which Francis has been outspoken — and the sexual abuse by children of clergy, a problem that has rocked the Catholic Church in Germany and elsewhere.

“We had important discussions about child abuse,” Merkel, the daughter of a Lutheran clergyman, told reporters.

“I wanted to underline with my visit that we think that the truth must come to light, and the topic must be dealt with.”

Earlier, Merkel visited the site of a new institute within the Vatican’s Gregoriana university dedicated to child protection and met with Hans Zollner, the Vatican’s leading expert on measures to safeguard minors.

She was later due to meet with Draghi, with whom she has worked closely for years, notably when he was head of the European Central Bank — and where they did not always see eye-to-eye.

Merkel will stay on in a caretaker capacity as her successors haggle over forming a coalition.

Germany is inching towards a government led by Olaf Scholz after the Greens and the liberal FDP party said Wednesday they would try for a three-way tie-up with his Social Democrats while shunning Merkel’s conservatives.

The two kingmaker parties’ decision sends the CDU-CSU bloc closer to the opposition, in a major shift for the country after a decade and a half of Merkel’s centre right-led government.


Merkel Congratulates Scholz On His Election Win

A  photo combination of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and German Finance Minister, Vice-Chancellor and the Social Democratic SPD Party’s candidate for Chancellor Olaf Scholz.


Germany’s outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel has congratulated Finance Minister Olaf Scholz from the rival Social Democrats on his election victory, a government statement said Wednesday, as Merkel’s conservatives remain in disarray after the vote.

Scholz’s SPD won 25.7 percent of the vote in Sunday’s hard-fought general election, while Merkel’s centre-right CDU-CSU bloc slumped to a record-low of 24.1 percent.

“The chancellor congratulated Olaf Scholz on Monday on his election success,” the statement said.

Merkel’s would-be conservative successor Armin Laschet has yet to publicly do so.

Despite leading the conservative alliance to its worst result in its seven-decade history, the unpopular Laschet has insisted on trying to form the next German coalition government with him as chancellor.

READ ALSO: EU Looks To Tighten Visa Restrictions On Belarus

But key conservative figures have increasingly distanced themselves from Laschet in recent days, raising doubts about his future.

Bavarian premier Markus Soeder, leader of the CSU sister party to the CDU, publicly congratulated Scholz in a press conference on Tuesday, illustrating a growing rift with Laschet.

“Olaf Scholz clearly has the better chance of becoming chancellor at the moment,” Soeder said, insisting the election result “must be accepted, it is a basic rule of democracy”.

Merkel herself is standing down after 16 years at the helm of Europe’s top economy.

But the veteran leader will stay on in a caretaker capacity until the new government is formed, expected to take weeks or even months.

With neither the SPD nor the CDU-CSU keen on teaming up again in a so-called grand coalition, the only way either can achieve a parliamentary majority is by partnering with the Greens and the pro-business FDP party.


‘I’m A Feminist’, Says Germany’s Chancellor Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel gives a press statement at the Chancellery in Berlin on March 25, 2021, following a European Union (EU) summit via video conference with EU leaders. (Photo by Michael Kappeler / POOL / AFP)


German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday described herself as a feminist, saying her position on equality between men and women had developed over the years. 

“Essentially, it’s about the fact that men and women are equal, in the sense of participation in society and in life in general. And in that sense I can say, ‘yes, I’m a feminist’,” Merkel told reporters after a meeting with Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

“For me, the word ‘feminism’ is linked to a specific movement which has fought a great deal to put these issues on society’s agenda,” said Germany’s first woman leader.

It is the first time that the 67-year-old — who is scheduled to step down following a general election later this month after 16 years in power — has spoken so overtly about an issue that in the past she has been more cagey about.

READ ALSO: The Afghan Ex-Minister Who Now Delivers Food In Germany

In the past, “I was a bit shyer when I said it. But it’s more thought-out now. And in that sense, I can say that we should all be feminists,” she said.

“I must say, however, that something has changed in our country, well, in Germany it has,” she continued.

“I wouldn’t have noticed 20 years ago if a panel discussion had been all men. I no longer think that’s OK. There’s something missing,” Merkel said.

On Tuesday, Merkel lauded her CDU party’s candidate Armin Laschet as the best choice to succeed her, as polls showed the gaffe-prone Rhinelander still trailing badly ahead of this month’s election.

Laschet, the chancellor candidate for Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU bloc, was long the favourite to be the next German leader, but his ratings have plummeted following a series of missteps.


Merkel Distances Herself From Would-Be Successor

German Chancellor Angela Merkel gives a press statement at the Chancellery in Berlin on March 25, 2021, following a European Union (EU) summit via video conference with EU leaders. (Photo by Michael Kappeler / POOL / AFP)


Germany’s outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday distanced herself from Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, saying there was “a huge difference” between her and the centre-left candidate seeking to take her crown.

Less than a month before a September 26 general election, Merkel’s CDU/CSU conservatives are slipping in opinion polls while Scholz’s Social Democrats (SPD) have taken the lead in a race still seen as wide open.

Germans do not directly elect their chancellor but surveys show Scholz would now be the favourite if they did — while the conservatives’ pick, Armin Laschet, has fallen behind after a string of gaffes.

“With me as chancellor there would never be a coalition with the (far-left) Linke, and whether this can be said of Olaf Scholz or not remains open,” Merkel told reporters in Berlin.

“So in that regard, there’s simply a huge difference for the future of Germany between me and him.”

Scholz, who is also the country’s vice chancellor, is presenting himself as the stability candidate and the natural heir to Merkel’s legacy despite hailing from a rival party.

He has even copied the famous “Merkel rhombus” hand gesture, pressing his thumbs and fingers into a diamond shape the same way the chancellor does.

Surveys suggest the September ballot could result in a three-way coalition government, potentially with uneasy bedfellows.

The latest Forsa survey for broadcasters NTV/RTL put the SPD at 23 percent, followed by the CDU/CSU at 21 percent and the Green party at 18 percent support.

While the Greens would be a logical partner in a possible SPD-led coalition, Scholz has come under fire for not explicitly ruling out a tie-up with the radical Linke party, which opposes NATO and is currently polling at around six percent.

The pro-business FDP party, polling at around 12 percent, would also be an option but they are traditionally wary of teaming up with the Greens.

Conservative politicians have accused Scholz of riding on Merkel’s coat-tails.

Bavarian premier Markus Soeder from the CSU welcomed Merkel’s pushback on Tuesday, saying she could not have been clearer.

“Everyone knows that Olaf Scholz wants to move to the left,” Soeder said.

Merkel herself is bowing out of politics after 16 years as chancellor.


The Afghan Ex-Minister Who Now Delivers Food In Germany

Sayed Sadaat, former communications minister in Afghanistan, poses for a photo in Leipzig, eastern Germany on August 29, 2021. Sadaat, minister in Afghanistan from 2016 to 2018, quit, fed up with the corruption. Now in Germany, he is making a living delivering meals as a bicycle courier.



He was once a minister in Afghanistan but quit, fed up with the corruption. Now in Germany, Sayed Sadaat is making a living delivering meals as a bicycle courier.

For six hours on weekdays and from noon to 10pm on Saturdays and Sundays, Sadaat dons his distinctive orange coat and big square backpack, shuttling pizzas or other orders to customers.

“There is no shame in the job at all. Work is work,” he told AFP.

“If there is a job, it means there is public demand… someone has to do it,” he said.

Sadaat is one of thousands of Afghans who have found a home in Germany over the last years.

Since 2015, when Europe saw a huge influx of people fleeing wars mostly from Syria and Iraq, around 210,000 Afghans have sought asylum in Germany.

This makes them the second biggest group of people seeking protection in Europe’s most populous country after Syrians.

With the Taliban’s return to power earlier this month, Germany has also evacuated around 4,000 Afghans, including those who worked with NATO forces and others who need protection.

‘For private benefit’


Sayed Sadaat, former communications minister in Afghanistan, poses for a photo in Leipzig, eastern Germany on August 29, 2021. Sadaat, minister in Afghanistan from 2016 to 2018, quit, fed up with the corruption. Now in Germany, he is making a living delivering meals as a bicycle courier.



Sadaat’s journey to Germany was far less harrowing.

He was minister of communications in Afghanistan from 2016 to 2018.

But the 50-year-old said he quit his post because he was fed up with corruption in the government.

“When doing the job as a minister there was a difference between the president’s close circle and myself,” he explained.

“Their demands were for private benefit, I wanted the money for government projects to be implemented properly.

“So I could not fulfil their demands and then they tried to push me, put pressure on me from the president’s side.”

He took on a consultancy job in the telecommunications sector in Afghanistan.

But by 2020, the security situation had deteriorated, he said.

“So I decided to leave,” he told AFP.

As a dual Afghan-British citizen, he decided to move to Germany at the end of 2020 before Brexit made it no longer possible for Britons to obtain residency in the EU without conditions such as an offer of employment.

He could have secured a post in Britain, but said he saw more opportunities for his sector in Germany.

But without German, Sadaat, who came alone and refuses to talk about his family, said he has struggled to get employed.

 Advising the government?


Sayed Sadaat, former communications minister in Afghanistan, gives an AFP interview in Leipzig, eastern Germany on August 29, 2021. Sadaat, minister in Afghanistan from 2016 to 2018, quit, fed up with the corruption. Now in Germany, he is making a living delivering meals as a bicycle courier.


The coronavirus pandemic delayed his plans to learn to speak German.

But he is now taking language classes four hours a day, before getting on the bicycle for food delivery company Lieferando.

The job pays up to 15 euros ($18) an hour, enough for his living expenses, including rent of 420 euros a month.

Sadaat said he does not regret his decision to move to Germany.

“I know this challenge is for a short time, it is until I can get another job,” he said, touting the physical benefits of cycling 1,200 kilometres (745 miles) every month.

With the return to power of the Taliban and the withdrawal of NATO forces from his native country, he sees another possible opening for him in Germany.

“I can advise the German government on Afghanistan so that the Afghan people can benefit because I reflect the true picture there,” he said.

He admits however that no contact has yet been made with the German authorities on the issue.

As for the Taliban, he believes they may have “learnt from the past mistakes” in terms of human, women’s rights.

But he calls on the international community not to turn its back on Afghanistan and continue providing economic support.

As his shift begins at the stroke of midday, he flicks through his phone.

“I have to go now,” he says, riding off through the rain for his first delivery of the day.


Germany Moves Diplomatic Staff In Afghanistan To Kabul Airport

This picture taken on August 14, 2021 shows aircrafts standing on the tarmac of the airport in Kabul. (Photo by Wakil KOHSAR / AFP)


Germany on Sunday moved its diplomatic personnel in Kabul from the embassy to the airport ahead of an evacuation planned from Monday, as the Taliban reached the outskirts of the Afghan capital.

“I have decided this morning to move the personnel from the Kabul embassy into the military section of the airport,” Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Twitter.

Sources close to the defence ministry said an evacuation was planned from Monday.

Germany announced Friday it was slashing staff levels at its Kabul embassy to an “absolute minimum” as the security situation deteriorates around the city.

“We are not going to risk our people falling into the hands of the Taliban,” Maas told the Bild daily on Sunday.

The minister called a meeting of “crisis cell” to organise the evacuation of “German employees and other persons in danger”.

The German army will assist with the evacuations, Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said Saturday.

“The security situation in Afghanistan continues to escalate,” she said, adding that the military would help the foreign ministry in repatriating German citizens and evacuating local staff “who are in need of protection to Germany”.

READ ALSO: Afghan President Flees Country As Taliban Captures Kabul

The ministry estimates its remaining staff count at the embassy in the “high double digits”.

The Taliban were on the brink of total victory in Afghanistan on Sunday, with their fighters ordered to wait on the outskirts of the capital and the government conceding it was preparing for a “transfer of power”.

Other NATO members including Britain, Denmark and Spain, have also announced they are evacuating their embassy personnel.


German Legend Gerd Mueller Is Dead

In this file photograph taken on January 21, 2009, former German footballer Gerd Mueller looks on after kicking the ball before the start of a friendly between FC Bayern Munich-II and a Siliguri Mayor’s 11 at Kanchenjungha Stadium in Siliguri. Diptendu DUTTA / AFP


Legendary German striker Gerd Mueller died in the early hours of Sunday at the age of 75, his former club Bayern Munich has confirmed.

“Today, the world of FC Bayern stands still,” the club wrote on it’s website.

During a glittering career, Mueller scored a record 365 goals for Bayern in the Bundesliga during the 1960s and 70s, as well as scoring 68 times for West Germany in 62 internationals.

“Today is a sad, black day for FC Bayern and its fans,” said Bayern president Herbert Hainer.

“Gerd Mueller was the greatest striker there has ever been — and a fine person, a personality in world football.

“Without Gerd Mueller, FC Bayern would not be the club we all love today.

“His name and the memory of him will live on forever.”

For the last few years, Mueller had been suffering from dementia.

He leaves behind his wife Uschi and a daughter.

READ ALSO: Germany Earmarks 30bn Euros To Rebuild After Floods

Largely thanks to his goals, Mueller made history for both Bayern Munich and West Germany.

He scored an unbelievable 566 goals in 607 competitive games for FC Bayern.

“Without Gerd’s goals, we’d still be in our old wooden hut on Saebener Strasse (the club training ground),” Franz Beckenbauer once said of his former Bayern and West Germany team-mate.

Mueller was part of Bayern teams that won four Bundesliga titles and dominated the former European Cup — now the Champions League — lifting the trophy three consecutive seasons from 1974-76.

Mueller’s Bundesliga record of 40 goals scored in a single season stood from 1971/72 until current Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski scored for the 41st time in 2020/21 last May.

Bayern CEO Oliver Kahn described Mueller as “one of the greatest legends in the history of FC Bayern”.

“His achievements are unmatched to this day and will forever be part of the great history of FC Bayern and all of German football,” Kahn added.

With the West German national team, Mueller won the 1972 European championships and the World Cup on home soil in 1974, scoring the winning goal in the final in Munich against the Netherlands.

After his career, he stayed with the club for a long time as a coach for the youth teams.


Germany Earmarks 30bn Euros To Rebuild After Floods

Soldiers of the German armed forces Bundeswehr search for flood victims in submerged vehicles on the federal highway B265 in Erftstadt, western Germany, on July 17, 2021, after heavy rains hit parts of the country, causing widespread flooding and major damage. (Photo by SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP)


Germany will earmark up to 30 billion euros ($35 billion) to rebuild after last month’s deadly floods that washed away homes, businesses and critical infrastructure, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday after talks with regional leaders.

The costs will be shared between the federal government and the 16 states, Merkel said, calling it a “sign of national solidarity”.

At least 190 people lost their lives in severe floods that pummelled western Germany in mid-July, with the states of Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia worst hit.

Underlining the scale of the destruction, NRW state premier Armin Laschet, the conservative frontrunner to succeed Merkel, said Monday his region has not had to rebuild thousands of destroyed homes at once since World War II.

The catastrophe has also raised questions over whether enough was done to forewarn residents of the impeding disaster.

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On Tuesday, Merkel and regional leaders agreed to improve the country’s warning system, including by providing states with up to 88 million euros to upgrade and install sirens by 2023.

German prosecutors said last week they have launched an investigation against the district chief of the flood-hit region of Ahrweiler for negligence as warnings were made belatedly, resulting in the deaths of dozens of residents.


Germany To Offer COVID Booster Shots From September

In this file photo Pfizer vaccines are seen kept on the table CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP


Germany will start offering COVID booster shots to the elderly and at-risk from September, the health ministry said, citing concerns over “a reduced or rapidly declining immune response” among some groups.

The booster shot — either Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna — will also be offered to anyone who received the two-dose Astrazeneca or single-dose Johnson & Johnson jabs, the health ministry said, “in the interests of preventative healthcare”.