Canadian Woman Missing In West Africa Believed To Be Alive – PM

Luca Tacchetto (L) and Edith Blais (R) pose for a selfie picture. Credit:  FACEBOOK / AFP

 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday that a Canadian woman reported missing along with her Italian partner in Burkina Faso is believed to be alive.

“To the best of my knowledge, yes,” Trudeau said in response to a reporter’s question.

“With all that I know so far, I have not been told anything else other than that she is believed to be alive.”

The Canadian government said earlier it was leaving no stone unturned as it tries to determine what exactly happened to Edith Blais, 34, and her companion Luca Tacchetto, 30.

The pair were last seen on December 15 traveling by car in Burkina Faso between the town of Bobo-Dioulasso and the capital Ouagadougou, for a four- or five-day stay.

Kidnappings have increased in the impoverished Sahel state, which has been battling a rising wave of jihadist attacks over the last three years.

A Canadian travel warning had reported a risk of banditry and kidnapping in the area.

Late Wednesday, a Canadian geologist kidnapped at a remote gold mine in northeast Burkina Faso by suspected jihadists was found dead.

Blais and Tacchetto were working on a reforestation project with aid group Zion’Gaia.

Investigators on the ground have found no clues in their disappearance, but a senior Canadian official told AFP on condition of anonymity that they may have fallen victim to kidnapping or a robbery gone awry.

“All options are being explored,” Canadian International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said after meeting Friday with Blais’ family in Quebec province.

“We are doing everything we can,” she said.

Burkino Faso is in the front line of a jihadist rebellion in the Sahel, a vast, dusty region on the southern rim of the Sahara.

Canada has 250 soldiers and eight army helicopters deployed in neighboring Mali as part of a UN peacekeeping mission.

After chaos engulfed Libya in 2011, an Islamist insurgency gained ground in northern Mali, while Boko Haram rose in northern Nigeria.

Jihadist raids began in northern Burkina Faso in 2015 before spreading to the east, near the border with Togo and Benin.

Most of the attacks have been attributed to Ansarul Islam and the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (JNIM).

Smaller groups are also active, with the overall number of fighters estimated to be in the hundreds, according to security sources.

The groups are believed to be responsible for more than 270 deaths since 2015.

Ouagadougou has been hit three times, including a coordinated attack last March that targeted the French embassy and devastated the country’s military headquarters.

Eight foreigners have been abducted in the last four years, according to an AFP tally.

Among them is 84-year-old Australian doctor Kenneth Elliott, who was kidnapped with his wife Jocelyn in April 2015 in Djibo, where the pair ran a clinic for the poor.

Jocelyn Elliott was released after a year. Her husband, whose whereabouts remain unknown, has been declared a citizen of Burkina Faso, under a decree issued last November.

AFP

Swiss Police Confirm Identities Of Couple Buried In Glacier Since 1942

Swiss police confirmed on Wednesday the identity of a Swiss couple whose frozen remains were found on a shrinking glacier last week, and who had been missing for 75 years.

Marcellin and Francine Dumoulin, the parents of seven children, had gone to feed their cattle in a meadow in the Valais Canton on August 15, 1942.

Their bodies and belongings including food, a book, umbrella and backpack were found in a hole on Zanfleuron Glacier, on Glacier 3000, by an employee doing maintenance work last Thursday (July 13).

The disappearance of the 40-year-old shoemaker and his 37-year-old wife, a teacher, shocked the region.

All their sons are now dead. One of them spent a great part of his life desperately searching the glacier hoping to find the bodies of his parents.

The two daughters, Monique Gautschy-Dumoulin, 86, and Marceline Udry-Dumoulin, 79, are still alive.

For Monique, who was 11 when her parents went missing and still remembers details of that day, there is little relief in the discovery of their bodies, and the pain of their absence remains strong.

“25,300 and something days…I have counted and written on a bit of paper the number of days during which we missed our Mum and our Dad. These are things one can never ever forget. I’ll be able to forget only when I close my eyes for the last time,” Monique said.

Recalling the morning her parents left, she said, “The day they left, the weather was beautiful…You know, at that time, we didn’t have anything like a radio, or anything like we have today giving the weather forecast for a number of days. When they started climbing up the glacier, the weather was beautiful, until a huge cloud came when they were in the middle of the glacier…They were swallowed by this cloud.”

Glacier 3000 Director Bernhard Tschannen explained that the couple had fallen into a crevasse in the glacier, adding that Francine had gone out with her husband for the first time that day.

“So for the first time, the wife went with the husband, because before she was always pregnant, she had seven kids, and we believe that they were walking either in direction of Bern (Swiss capital) or coming back and that they fell into a crevasse,” he said.

“Then, at that time, the glacier was much bigger than now, and, to imagine, in winter time, we have 5, 6 meters of fresh snow on the glacier. So, in the last years, the glacier shrunk a bit. This is now why 75 years later, two bodies came out on the glacier and it took so much time because they were very deep in the glacier inside.”

The pair were among 280 people listed as missing in the Alps or rivers of the Valais canton since 1925, according to the police who expect to find more bodies as the glaciers melt.

Father Of Missing 16-Year-Old Boy Cries For Help

A refrigerator repairer in Ilorin, Kwara State, Kayode Oguntayo, has continued to lament the disappearance of his 16-year-old son, Abdulrasheed, since April 27, 2017.

The father of three said in an interview that his son might have been kidnapped as he is an obedient child and not the wayward type.

According to him, the boy was sent from his shop at Taiwo Road to give his mother the sum of N2,000 at their Oke-Erin residence but he never got home nor returned to the shop.

“I have been to virtually all the police stations in town over this issue but to no avail. The day I gave him N2,000 to give her mother at our Oke-Erin home was the last day I saw him, he was never home and he never came back to the shop.

“My son is 16 years old and had just left secondary school but he did not pass some papers, hence my reason for enrolling him again in the ongoing NECO exams.

“What is making me cry every day now is because my son was never a bad boy; he is decent and doesn’t keep bad friends.

“No one has ever reported him for mischief. He is my biological son and my third child,” Oguntayo lamented.

50 Questions: House Committee To Commence Public Hearing On Economy

The House of Representatives Committee on Finance is to begin a public hearing to dissect the response of the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to its 50 questions.

Dr. Okonjo-Iweala had sent a reply to 50 questions posed to her in an earlier meeting with the committee, but the House members did not seem satisfied with her answers.

To this end, the Clerk of the Committee on Finance, Farouk Mustapha, said that the members are in receipt of the 102-page response, but a public hearing would commence where all concerned Nigerians would get information on the NNPC missing funds and other lapses found in the economy.

The Minister had been scheduled to meet with the committee in December 2013, but the proposed meeting degenerated into a disagreement between her and the Chairman of the House Committee on Finance, Abdul-Mumini Jibrin.

The Chairman had ruled that the Minister, who had said that she was feeling a bit sick, would be excused and should return at another date to meet with the committee.

The confrontation, however, ensued when the Minister insisted that she was ready to speak to the committee and the committee insisted that they stand by their ruling that the Minister should return on another date, presenting her with the said document containing the 50 questions.

The newly announced public hearing is expected to bring out the needed information to finally clear the air on the state of the nation’s economy.

No date has been announced for the hearing.

War of Words: Minister Of Finance, Reps In Shouting Match

A war of words broke out on Thursday evening between the Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Finance, Abdul-Mumini Jibrin, during a meeting scheduled to discuss the state of the economy from January to date.

The chairman of the committee had ruled that the minister, who had said she was feeling a little sick, would be excused and should return at another date to meet with the committee.

The confrontation, however, ensued when the minister insisted that she was ready to speak to the committee and the committee insisted that they stand by their ruling that the minister should return on another date.

The Chairman of the Committee, Abdul-Mumini Jibrin, had earlier said that the purpose of the invitation was to “critically look at issues pertaining the economy.”

According to him, with lots of issues, allegations and counter-allegations, going on, “we want to open up all issues. We have sent her a letter that the committee doesn’t want any vague presentation”.

He stressed that: “I am actually interested in engaging with the minister who in private accepts something but shies away in public”.

“We will also engage the minister of finance on the allegations made by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor on ‘missing’ crude oil revenue, ‘missing’ Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF), external borrowings, ‘missing’ SURE-P funds and others,” Jibrin intimated.

Exchange Of Words

Exchange of words began when the committee insisted that it would give the Minister a list of questions it intended asking and asked her to give her response to the questions and return it to the committee on the day of the rescheduled briefing.

“We will give you time to give us a written explanation and answers to those questions and also arrange for you to appear before this committee when you are strong and energetic,” the committee chairman said.

The minister expressed her readiness to answer the questions but Jibrin refused to let her speak.

“Listen, you can decide what will happen only in the Ministry of Finance but not in the Committee of Finance. You will go, give us a written explanation after two weeks. We will take your written explanation and study it then we will invite you for a proper engagement. That is the ruling of the committee. Thank you for coming,” he said, hitting the gavel.

After the lawmaker’s ruling, the minister said the committee handled her in a rough manner without respect.

“When you invite ministers, you have to treat them with respect. We have human rights. We cannot come here to this house and be abused,” Okonjo-Iweala said, showing her disapproval of the committee chairman’s action.