Nigerians In India Protest Over Death of Nigerian

Nigerians In India Protesting.A group of Nigerians has clashed with the police in India after they allegedly attacked a police vehicle carrying the body of a Nigerian who was said to have been stabbed to death in India’s beach state, Goa.

The body of the man, whose name has not been revealed, was found with wounds in Mapusa town, triggering protests by angry Nigerians who removed the body from the van and kept it on the road, blocking traffic in the area

The Chief of India’s Goa State, Manohar Parrikar, said the murder would be investigated.

“We have detained 53 of them (Nigerians) and two of them are in the hospital,” he said.

Manohar Parrikar described the attack on the Police as illegal and said that the state had booked a case on the issue.

 

UK £3,000 Visa Bond Under Review- British High Commissioner

The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Andrew Pocock, has once again cleared the air on the controversy surrounding a proposed UK government’s bond on visa applicants from some countries, including Nigeria.

He clarified that, ‘the visa bond, as it is being called here, is not a £3,000 charge for a British visa. That is not the case, it is not going to happen now and it is not going to happen in the future. Visa fee, which is what you pay for a visa, will not go to £3,000 or anywhere near it.’

Pocock also explained that there are plans to influence the inflow of more Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) from British companies into Nigeria.

He said this after ringing the closing bell  at the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) in Lagos.

The United Kingdom is reviewing its plan to introduce a £3,000 visa bond scheme.

“We have made it very clear to our government in London that there is concern about this. So, this is being reviewed and considered in London as we speak now.” he said

He further said the visa bond is yet to be approved and if even its approved it will only apply to a very minute number of the over 150, 000 Nigerians that will apply for UK visas.

He also said while there were security concerns in Nigeria, they were not overwhelming in many respects and could be managed.

He said the British government will not jeopardize diplomatic ties with Nigeria with any move that will call the relationship between both nations to question.

The British government had proposed a new scheme under which some visitors from six commonwealth countries, including Nigeria, would be asked to pay a £3,000 cash bond in return for visas that allows them to stay in the UK for up to six months.

Other countries include India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Ghana.

Indian Rupee Falls To A Record Low Against The Dollar

Currency dealer, MumbaiThe Indian rupee has hit a record low against the dollar despite recent efforts to prop-up the currency. On Wednesday India’s central bank put further restrictions on the amount of money that companies and individuals can send out of the country.

That had little impact and the rupee fell to 62.03 to the dollar, below its previous low of 61.80 hit on 6 August. Overseas investors have been pulling money out of Indian shares and debt on concerns over the economy.

According to official data, international investors have withdrawn $11.58bn in shares and debt from India’s markets since the beginning of June.

India’s economy had been growing at a fast clip, reaching annual growth of 9%. In recent months, it has seen a sharp decline largely because of a slowdown in its manufacturing and services sectors.

“There is a complete lack of faith in the markets. There are fears that the RBI (Reserve Bank of India) measures may not help improve the rupee,” said Param Sarma, chief executive with NSP Forex.

Indian authorities are concerned that the weak rupee is stoking inflation.The nation relies on imports of crude oil, chemicals and some foodstuffs, which are priced in dollars.

The weak rupee makes those more expensive, a cost that is eventually handed on to the consumer.

In July, India’s main gauge of inflation, the Wholesale Price Index, was 5.79% higher than a year earlier, up from 4.86% in June

India Submarine Blast: Lives Lost In Mumbai Port

A man watches Indian Navy submarine INS Sindhurakshak on fire in Mumbai August 13, 2013A number of crew have been killed in a huge explosion and fire on an Indian submarine berthed at a Mumbai dockyard, India’s defence minister says.

AK Anthony said he felt “sad about those navy personnel who lost their lives”. Earlier the navy said it feared 18 sailors had been trapped on board.

The blast on the INS Sindhurakshak took place after midnight and fire-fighters spent four hours putting out the blaze.

Officials said the diesel-powered vessel was badly damaged.

Mr Antony gave no further details about how many people were killed and if he was referring to deaths among the sailors still trapped on the submarine.

But one navy official said that “surviving an explosion of this huge scale” was rare.

Many sailors managed to jump to safety after the blast. Rescue teams are on scene and some of the injured were taken to hospital. The submarine remains partly submerged at its berth.

It is unclear exactly what caused the explosion but dramatic images on Indian television showed a large fireball illuminating the sky. Smoke from the blaze could be seen in many parts of the city.

A naval inquiry has been set up to look into the causes of the incident, but officials said they suspect it to be the result of an on-board error and not an act involving any outside agency.

The Russian-built submarine was upgraded recently at a cost of $80m (£52m).

Russian firm Zvyozdochka, which refitted the submarine, said the vessel had been fully operational when it was returned to India in January.

 

UK N750, 000 Visa Bond: FG Promises To Defend Nigerians

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru has stated that Nigeria has not received any communication on the plan by the British government to introduce £3,000 (about N750,000) fee as visa bond from visitors from Nigeria.

The Sunday Times of London reported that the Conservative government is planning to implement a pilot scheme that would target visitors from Nigeria, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Ghana, Pakistan and India from November. The countries are considered as high risk of immigration abuse in the United Kingdom.

The Minister, who spoke at a news conference in Abuja on Monday, assured that when received, the proposed visa policy will be carefully studied to protect the interest of Nigerian citizens.

“Really, we have received no official communication from the U.K. government,” he said.

“When we receive communication from them, we will study whatever proposal they are trying to do but I can assure all Nigerians that President Jonathan’s government will defend the interest of Nigerians by whatever means it can.’’

Uk’s Home Secretary; Theresa May said the David Cameron administration is serious about cutting immigration and abuses of the system.

Visitors from 18 years of age and over would be compelled to hand over £3,000 from November for a six-month visit visa.

They will forfeit the money if they overstay in Britain after their visa has expired.

9000 Nigerians in Prisons Abroad

Beside the visa issue, the Minister expressed concern about the number of Nigerians in foreign prisons, many of whom, he noted, are on death row in Asia and pacific countries.

He said over 9000 Nigerians are currently serving prisons term abroad, with the largest number of 752 in the UK.

“Most of the remaining prisoners are concentrated in the Asia – Pacific region and a good number of them are on death row” he stated.

He however said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has entered transfer agreement with some of these countries.

“We are concluding Prisoners’ Transfer Agreement (PTA) with all those countries, such as United Kingdom, Thailand, Japan, China, Indonesia, Switzerland, South Africa, Mozambique, Angola and Hong Kong, so that we can bring home these Nigerians to complete their prison terms.

“I wish to seize this opportunity to appeal to members of different groups; the media, civil societies, religious groups, traditional rulers, etc, to join hands in the education of our youths in an enlightenment campaign against trafficking in drugs, in particular, and other social vices in general.

“This assignment should not be left alone to Governments at different levels to handle.’’

The Minister also revealed that Nigeria has acquired a total of N8billion foreign direct investment in 2012 following its bilateral ties with other countries.

 

 

India monsoon floods kill at least 560; thousands missing

Flash floods and landslides unleashed by early monsoon rains have killed at least 560 people in northern India and left tens of thousands missing, officials said on Saturday, with the death toll expected to rise significantly.

Houses and small apartment blocks on the banks of the Ganges, India’s longest river and sacred to Hindus, have toppled into the rushing, swollen waters and been swept away with cars and trucks.

“It has been a horrifying experience,” said Tulika Srivastava, a visitor from the northern Indian city of Lucknow, who has been stranded with her 80-year-old mother in the key pilgrimage town of Rudraprayag since last week.

Thousands of military servicemen are involved in rescue operations, with air force helicopters plucking survivors, many of them Hindu pilgrims and tourists, from the foothills of the Himalayas.

About 33,000 people had been rescued so far this week, the home ministry said. Railways were running special trains from the devastated areas to take people home.

“Whatever is humanly possible is being done,” Manish Tewari, the minister of information and broadcasting, told reporters.

The rains had eased on Saturday but more rain is expected early next week, complicating the task of rescuers. Rain will fall from Monday onwards in many places in the Himalayan foothills, said a weather official who sought anonymity.

As many as 150,000 people were airlifted from the reach of the floods, said Dinesh Malasi, a rescue official at Dehradun, the state capital, with 60 helicopters pressed into the task.

Aid workers are struggling to negotiate roads blocked by landslides to reach the Kedarnath Valley, one of the worst affected areas, where thousands of pilgrims have been stranded. Some of those rescued by helicopter told charity officials in Dehradun they had seen bodies scattered everywhere.

Kedarnath, the site of a temple to a powerful Hindu deity, is 86 km from Rudraprayag in the hill state of Uttarakhand.

“The deaths will certainly rise,” said Madan Mohan Doval, an official of Sphere India, a group of non-government bodies working in the area that includes international charity Plan as well as the Indian Red Cross Society.

“People are in immediate need of basic aid such as dry food, clean drinking water, clothes, medicines, tarpaulin sheets for shelter and blankets,” Doval added.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has offered 200,000 rupees ($3,400) to the family of each of those who lost their lives and 50,000 rupees ($840) to the injured from his national relief fund. He also pledged money to people who have lost their homes.

Singh promised 10 billion rupees ($167 million) in disaster relief to Uttarakhand, home of the gods in Hindu mythology and the hardest-hit state.

The rains have not hit the summer sowing season in northern India so far, as the planting of rice, sugar, cotton and other agricultural produce is not yet in full swing. ($1=59 rupees)

India Sets Up Elaborate System To Tap Phone Calls, E-Mail

India has launched a wide-ranging surveillance program that will give its security agencies and even income tax officials the ability to tap directly into e-mails and phone calls without oversight by courts or parliament, several sources said.

The expanded surveillance in the world’s most populous democracy, which the government says will help safeguard national security, has alarmed privacy advocates at a time when allegations of massive U.S. digital snooping beyond American shores has set off a global furor.

“If India doesn’t want to look like an authoritarian regime, it needs to be transparent about who will be authorized to collect data, what data will be collected, how it will be used, and how the right to privacy will be protected,” said Cynthia Wong, an Internet researcher at New York-based Human Rights Watch.

The Central Monitoring System (CMS) was announced in 2011 but there has been no public debate and the government has said little about how it will work or how it will ensure that the system is not abused.

The government started to quietly roll the system out state by state in April this year, according to government officials. Eventually it will be able to target any of India’s 900 million landline and mobile phone subscribers and 120 million Internet users.

Interior ministry spokesman K.S. Dhatwalia said he did not have details of CMS and therefore could not comment on the privacy concerns. A spokeswoman for the telecommunications ministry, which will oversee CMS, did not respond to queries.

Indian officials said making details of the project public would limit its effectiveness as a clandestine intelligence-gathering tool.

“Security of the country is very important. All countries have these surveillance programs,” said a senior telecommunications ministry official, defending the need for a large-scale eavesdropping system like CMS.

“You can see terrorists getting caught, you see crimes being stopped. You need surveillance. This is to protect you and your country,” said the official, who is directly involved in setting up the project. He did not want to be identified because of the sensitivity of the subject.

NO INDEPENDENT OVERSIGHT

The new system will allow the government to listen to and tape phone conversations, read e-mails and text messages, monitor posts on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn and track searches on Google of selected targets, according to interviews with two other officials involved in setting up the new surveillance program, human rights activists and cyber experts.

In 2012, India sent in 4,750 requests to Google Inc for user data, the highest in the world after the United States.

Security agencies will no longer need to seek a court order for surveillance or depend, as they do now, on Internet or telephone service providers to give them the data, the government officials said.

Government intercept data servers are being built on the premises of private telecommunications firms. These will allow the government to tap into communications at will without telling the service providers, according to the officials and public documents.

The top bureaucrat in the federal interior ministry and his state-level deputies will have the power to approve requests for surveillance of specific phone numbers, e-mails or social media accounts, the government officials said.

While it is not unusual for governments to have equipment at telecommunication companies and service providers, they are usually required to submit warrants or be subject to other forms of independent oversight.

“Bypassing courts is really very dangerous and can be easily misused,” said Pawan Sinha, who teaches human rights at Delhi University. In most countries in Europe and in the United States, security agencies were obliged to seek court approval or had to function with legal oversight, he said.

The senior telecommunications ministry official dismissed suggestions that India’s system could be open to abuse.

“The home secretary has to have some substantial intelligence input to approve any kind of call tapping or call monitoring. He is not going to randomly decide to tape anybody’s phone calls,” he said.

“If at all the government reads your e-mails, or taps your phone, that will be done for a good reason. It is not invading your privacy, it is protecting you and your country,” he said.

The government has arrested people in the past for critical social media posts although there have been no prosecutions.

In 2010, India’s Outlook news magazine accused intelligence officials of tapping telephone calls of several politicians, including a government minister. The accusations were never proven, but led to a political uproar.

NO PRIVACY LAW

“The many abuses of phone tapping make clear that that is not a good way to organize the system of checks and balances,” said Anja Kovacs, a fellow at the New Delhi-based Centre for Internet and Society.

“When similar rules are used for even more extensive monitoring and surveillance, as seems to be the case with CMS, the dangers of abuse and their implications for individuals are even bigger.”

Nine government agencies will be authorized to make intercept requests, including the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), India’s elite policy agency, the Intelligence Bureau (IB), the domestic spy agency, and the income tax department.

India does not have a formal privacy law and the new surveillance system will operate under the Indian Telegraph Act – a law formulated by the British in 1885 – which gives the government freedom to monitor private conversations.

“We are obligated by law to give access to our networks to every legal enforcement agency,” said Rajan Mathews, director general of the Cellular Operators Association of India.

Telecommunications companies Bharti Airtel, Vodafone’s India unit, Idea Cellular, Tata Communications and state-run MTNL did not respond to requests for comment.

India has a long history of violence by separatist groups and other militants within its borders. More than one third of India’s 670 districts are affected by such violence, according to the South Asia Terrorism Portal.

The government has escalated efforts to monitor the activities of militant groups since a Pakistan-based militant squad rampaged through Mumbai in 2008, killing 166 people. Monitoring of telephones and the Internet are part of the surveillance.

India’s junior minister for information technology, Milind Deora, said the new data collection system would actually improve citizens’ privacy because telecommunications companies would no longer be directly involved in the surveillance – only government officials would.

“The mobile company will have no knowledge about whose phone conversation is being intercepted”, Deora told a Google Hangout, an online forum, earlier this month.

Another Eight Die In Bangladesh Factory Fire

Eight people were killed when a fire swept through a clothing factory in Bangladesh, police and an industry association official said on Thursday, as the death toll from the collapse of another factory building two weeks ago climbed above 900.

The fire, in an industrial district of Dhaka, comes amid global attention on safety standards in Bangladesh’s booming garment industry following the catastrophic collapse of Rana Plaza, on the outskirts of the city, in the world’s deadliest industrial accident since the Bhopal disaster in India in 1984.

“It is not clear to us how the accident happened, but we are trying to find out the cause,” Mohammad Atiqul Islam, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), told Reuters.

On Wednesday the Bangladesh government said it had shut down 18 garment factories for safety reasons following the April 24 collapse of Rana Plaza, which housed five garment factories making clothes for Western brands. Six were cleared to re-open on Thursday after inspectors issued safety certificates.

Salvage teams were still pulling bodies from the rubble of the Rana Plaza complex in Savar, around 20 miles northwest of Dhaka, and on Thursday a spokesman at the army control room coordinating the operation said the number of people confirmed to have been killed had reached 912.

Roughly 2,500 people were rescued from the building, including many injured, but there is no official estimate of the numbers still missing.

The government has blamed the owners and builders of the eight-storey complex for using shoddy building materials, including substandard rods, bricks and cement, and not obtaining the necessary clearances.

Bangladesh’s garment industry, which accounts for 80 percent of the poor South Asian country’s exports, has seen a series of deadly accidents, including a fire in November that killed 112 people.

The latest fire, in an 11-storey building in the Mirpur industrial district, broke out at a factory belonging to the Tung Hai Group, a large garment exporter.

“The factory was closed and all the workers had left the premises an hour earlier,” said fire service official Bhazan Sarker.

A fire service official and BGMEA president Islam said the Bangladeshi managing director of the company and a senior police officer were among the dead. The others killed were friends and personal staff of the factory boss, officials said.

Tung Hai Group says on its website that it has more than 1,000 employees and its customers include major Western retailers including Britain’s Primark, and Inditex Group of Spain. It makes products including cardigans, jumpers and pyjamas.

India Bus Accident Claims 30 lives

At least 30 passengers died after a bus fell into a river in northern India on Wednesday.The private vehicle was said to be overcrowded.

The incident occurred at around 4.00 p.m. (local time) near Jhiri, about 20 kilometres from the tourist town of Kullu. Officials said the number of deaths was expected to rise.

Bodies were fished out from the turbulent waters and the injured taken to hospital.

A huge crowd of people gathered at the site to watch and help in the salvage operations.

The accident site is popular for adventure sports.

Road accidents are common in India, where roads are often of poor quality and rash driving is very common.

Politicians Have Taken Over Media Houses- Maku

Minister of Information, Mr Labaran Maku has accused media houses of serving as puppets to politicians in Nigeria.

Speaking as a guest on Sunrise Daily, a programme on Channels Television, Maku said “Unfortunately we have allowed our political biases to infiltrate sometimes the media that we own”.

Maku who claimed to be a journalist further said “if you pick newspapers today, from the headlines you will know which one is pro-PDP, which one is ACN, which one is APC, which one is CPC”

He expressed worry over the bias displayed “not just on opinion pages, not just on editorial pages but right on front page including the casting of headlines”.

The minister likened the reporter to a doctor in the hospital who should not be told how to treat his patients be it owned by a politician or a businessman.

He charged Nigerians to set up an international panel to review media houses in other countries such as the England, USA, Canada, India, and South Africa with Nigeria quarterly.

These countries he said have “the traditions of our own liberal democracy”.

He said many journalists will be in jail if journalism is practiced the same way as in the aforementioned countries.

He also cleared the air on the controversy between the Leadership Newspaper journalists and the federal government.

Channels TV Joins Hillary Clinton’s Last Global Townterview

Channels Television on Tuesday flew the African flag in the live and last ‘Global Townterview’ with outgoing US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.

The Secretary of State had her 59th Global ‘Townterview’ at the Newseum in Washington DC, her last in which she engaged young people around the world including young Nigerian professionals who were gathered inside ChannelsTV studio for the live interaction.

The event which was streamed live on the internet on YouTube had in attendance BBC London, MBC Beirut Lebanon, NDTV, New Delhi, India, NHK Tokyo, Japan, NTN24 Bogota, Colombia and representing Africa was Channels Television from Nigeria.

Nigeria’s 2015 Election

When Channels TV correspondent Maupe Ogun, asked the outgoing Secretary if she can pinpoint any African country that has strived to develop its institutions as President Obama advised in his speech when he visited Ghana in 2009, Mrs Clinton replied; “both politically and economically, I see progress happening in Africa.”

She described the successful transition in Malawi and the peaceful re-election of Ellen John Sirleaf in Liberia and the just concluded election in Ghana as big moves that showed that the countries are building their political institutions and the voice of people are hearkened to.

“Nigeria is a very important country in Africa and even the world. It really matters how well the next general election goes. Whether it is free and fair. It really matters whether the endemic corruption is finally pursued. So it is important that everybody in Nigeria does not feel like they are going to be left out” she stated.

The crisis in Mali is one issue Madam Secretary spoke passionately about; she noted how important it is for peace to rain in the country and the region as a whole.

Hillary Rodham Clinton’s feat in the first four years of the Obama administration cannot be over-emphasized and this has aroused speculations if she would be running for president in the next US election.

But responding to a question on her plans for the US Presidential in 2016, she responded that “I am not thinking anything about that now. I am working on concluding my tenure as the Secretary of State. I am also working on my 20 years of sleep deprivation.”

When two uniformly dressed radio dee-jays from Australia asked her what she would advise anyone to include on their CV to appeal for her office, the former First Lady of the United States cheerfully stated that “education, good looks and ability to meet people are the essentials needed to be a Secretary of States.”

The Townterview is a mix of a town hall and a television interview. The concept was first introduced by the Secretary when she entered office as a way to broaden people to people engagement.

Mrs Clinton is expected to resign as the US Secretary of State on Friday, 1st of February.

Former aspirant to White House, Senator John Kerry, was on Tuesday, confirmed as the next US Secretary of State.

7 Men Rape Passenger In India

Another gang rape has happened in India, police say a woman was gang-raped over the weekend by seven men after she boarded a bus at night.

Police arrested six suspects, including the bus driver, after the alleged Friday night attack in Gurdaspur district in Punjab.

Just like a gang rape in New Delhi that sparked international outrage last month, the new attack occurred after the woman got on a bus.

The bus sped past her stop, police said. By that time, the woman was the only passenger.

The bus driver and his helper then took the married 29-year-old woman to an undisclosed address where five others joined the two men and raped her throughout the night.

According to the victim who spoke to CNN “They threatened me with a sharp edged weapon and did wrong things with me,”

“They kept me confined all through the night and forced me to do what they want.”

The next day, the suspects dropped her off at her village, where she informed her family and alerted police.
A similar incident occurred on December 16 where attackers assaulted a woman after she boarded a bus. The men also brutally beat her and her male companion, robbed them of their belongings and later dumped them by the side of a road.

The Delhi incident triggered rallies nationwide and an uproar over the treatment of women.

The badly beaten 23-year-old woman was flown to Singapore for treatment after the attack.

She died about two weeks later while undergoing treatment.

Both New Delhi and Gurdaspur are in northern India.