Leaders Must Rise Above Personal Interests – Gov. Ambode

Lagos State, lekki free zoneNigeria’s present economic situation may still be biting hard, but the situation urgently requires elected leaders to put aside personal differences and interests and focus on delivering good governance to those they represent.

This charge was giving by the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode to participants of the ongoing maiden edition of the executive and legislative retreat in Lagos.

Governor Ambode said that the recession taking its toll on Nigerians is a wakeup call for leaders at all levels to come together for the purpose of rescuing the nation rather than seeing it as an opportunity to amass resources for selfish purposes.

The 3-day retreat had in attendance members of the executive and the legislature at the state and federal level.

Party leaders from the All Progressives Congress (APC), the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and other political parties in the state were also part of it.

Ivory Coast Ex-first Lady Goes On Trial For War Crimes

ivory coastIvory Coast’s former first lady, Simone Gbagbo, went on trial on Tuesday, accused of crimes against humanity and war crimes for her alleged role in a civil war that followed a 2010 presidential election and left around 3,000 people dead.

The trial, the West African nation’s first for crimes against humanity, is being held in a domestic court after the government rejected her extradition to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

It has already drawn criticism from Gbagbo’s supporters, who claim it is politically motivated, as well as from rights groups, who accuse the prosecution of rushing the investigation.

Her husband, ex-president Laurent Gbagbo, is already before the ICC on charges linked to the brief conflict, which was sparked by his refusal to accept defeat to Alassane Ouattara in an election run-off.

Flanked by policemen, Simone Gbagbo, a key figure in her husband’s regime, greeted several dozen cheering supporters gathered at the entrance of the court in the commercial capital Abidjan with waves and smiles.

The prosecution alleges she was part of a small group of party officials from Gbagbo’s Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) that planned violence against Ouattara’s supporters to keep him out of power.

“The FPI put in place a crisis cell in January 2011 that met at the presidential residence and constituted the organ charged with planning and organising the repression,” an indictment read in court stated.

Simone Gbagbo did not immediately enter a plea on Tuesday. However, the indictment said she rejected the charges and denied the existence of a crisis cell at the presidency.

As each witness’s name was read in court, she turned in her seat, scanning the gallery.

Jazz Artiste, Kirk Whalum Talks About His Roots

Kirk WhalumJazz saxophonist, Kirk Whalum, started out as a band leader, performing in clubs before he joined the big league and went to on win 12 Grammy awards.

In the 80’s, he formed a band, having regular gigs in local clubs.

It was at this time he was discovered by jazz pianist, Bob James. That move proved to be his biggest decision as he went on to play for top artistes, including late soul singer, Whitney Houston.

The originator of ‘Gospel According to Jazz’ backed up for top artistes in America, including late singer, Whitney Houston, who gave him a slot in the song, ‘I Will Always Love You’.

Kirk recently visited Nigeria to celebrate the International Jazz Day and Entertainment News seized the opportunity to speak with him about his roots and music.

Do enjoy.

Italy Rescues Nearly 1,800 Migrants In Mediterranean

italyItalian vessels have helped rescue nearly 1,800 migrants from boats trying to reach Italy from north Africa in the last 24 hours, the navy said on Friday, indicating that numbers are rising, as the weather warms up.

The navy said 1,759 migrants were rescued in 10 operations involving the Italian navy, coastguard and finance police, the European Union’s external borders agency Frontex and the medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres.

The Italian frigate Grecale was taking the migrants to the Sicilian port of Augusta, where they were expected to arrive on Saturday morning, a navy statement quoted by Reuters said. It gave no details of their nationalities.

The latest arrivals picked up in the Strait of Sicily will bring the total of migrants reaching Italy by boat so far this year to more than 30,000, slightly higher than in the same period of 2015.

Humanitarian organisations say the sea route between Libya and Italy is now the main route for asylum seekers heading for Europe, after an EU deal with Turkey dramatically slowed the flow of people reaching Greece.

Officials fear the numbers trying to make the crossing to southern Italy will increase, as sailing conditions improve in warmer weather.

More than 1.2 million Arab, African and Asian migrants fleeing war and poverty have streamed into the European Union since the start of last year.

Most of those trying to reach Italy leave the coast of Libya on rickety fishing boats or rubber dinghies, heading for the Italian island of Lampedusa, which is close to Tunisia, or toward Sicily.

On Wednesday, however, Italy’s coastguard said it had rescued 42 migrants from a sailboat off the coast of Puglia, in the southeastern heel of mainland Italy.

Enugu Killings Perpetrators Must Be Punished – Cattle Breeders Ass.

cattle breedersThe National Secretary, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, Baba Othman Ngelzarma, has called for the perpetrators of the Enugu killings to be brought to book.

Speaking on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Thursday, he said that such persons were criminals that must not be allowed to go unpunished.

Mr Ngelzarma advocated the need for the grazing bill put before the National Assembly as this would help curb the violence between herdsmen and indigenes.

He urged the National Assembly to focus on the grazing bill before focusing on the communal clashes.

He noted that most of the herdsmen get their livelihood from rearing of cattle but the neglect from the National Assembly is making the herdsman to spread to other parts of the country which he said is exposing them to danger.

Arguing that the grazing bill has been neglected, Mr Ngelzarma blamed the past administration for not paying attention to the grazing reserves and for the kidnap of some herdsmen.

He also stated that there had been many cases of Fulani herdsmen being killed or kidnapped, especially in Kaduna but these incidents were not reported. He criticized the media for not reporting such.

Mr Ngelzarma further expressed his displeasure at the light in which the cattle-rearers are seen and also blamed the media for it.

Troops Avert Suicide Bombing In Ummarari

Troops-of-the-african-UnionTroops of 7 Division Garrison Forward Operation Base (FOB), on Saturday averted another suicide bombing on Ummarari community by suspected Boko Haram terrorist.

The suicide bomber was intercepted at about 7:00am local time by the troops and the Civilian Joint Task Force (JTF) while making attempt to enter the village to detonate his dangerous cargo on innocent persons in the Ummarari.

A statement by a spokesman for the Army, Colonel Sani Usman, said the suicide bomber detonated the strapped Improvised Explosive Device (IED) vest on his body, thus killing himself instantly when he was forced to halt based on suspicion that he was carrying suicide bombing material.

There was no other casualty.

The troops and the Civilian JTF at the village are now combing the surrounding area to forestall further attacks and clear the environment of likely remnants of Boko Haram terrorists hibernating.

The suicide bomber, according to Civilian Joint Task Force sources, had three IEDS strapped to his body before he was stopped.

He detonated one upon interrogation blowing up himself, while the police antibomb squad reportedly diffused the other two.

Umarari, barely six kilometers from Maiduguri was attacked for the third time by two female suicide bombers in March this year, leaving 22 persons dead.

The village’s proximity to the the notorious Sambisa forest has made it vulnerable to attacks by suicide bombers on errand.

EDHA Reacts To Oshiomhole’s Letter On L.G.A Chairmen’s Tenure

OshiomholeThe Edo State House of Assembly has summoned the state’s Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice to appear before it on Monday.

This is for him to explain why the State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, was not well advised concerning a letter sent to the House on the tenure of local government chairmen in the state.

The resolution was passed after the lawmakers deliberated on the letter challenging the House on why it recently passed a resolution directing the local government council chairmen whose tenure expired on Thursday to hand over to the head of local government administration in their respective LGAs.

Night Grazing Banned In Plateau State

grazingSecurity operatives have banned the movement of cattle and herdsmen after 7PM in Riyom, Barkin Ladi, Mangu and Jos South Local Government Areas of Plateau State.

The Commander of Operation Safe Haven, Major General Tagbo Ude, made the announcement during a town hall meeting between community leaders, village heads and Ardos of the affected communities as part of efforts to maintain law and order in the areas.

Top of the agenda at the meeting was the return of internally displaced persons ousted from both the Berom and Fulani settlements.

They also looked into the issue of maintaining peace and having an understanding between the cattle rearers and farmers especially during the rainy season.

During the interactive session some community leaders expressed concerns on issues of internally displaced persons returning to their homes, in spite of the assurances that it was safe for them return to commence.

Major-General Ude again allayed their fears on the destruction of newly built houses of returning displaced persons. He maintained that security operatives would be available to protect such structures.

He went ahead to read the riot act to perpetrators of such crimes, insisting that the security agencies would not condone any excesses.

The banning of night grazing was one of the agreements reached at the town hall meeting. Participants expressed hope that all concerned would adhere to the decisions taken and embrace peace for the sake of development.

Taiwan Accuses China Of Kidnapping Eight Nationals From Kenya

taiwanTaiwan on Monday accused China, which regards the self-ruled island as a breakaway province, of kidnapping eight of its nationals who it said had been acquitted in a cyber crime case in Kenya.

Kenya’s Attorney-General said in January it was considering a request from Beijing to extradite 76 Chinese charged with cyber crime in Kenya for trial in their homeland.

But Taiwan said some of these people were actually from Taiwan and that a total of 23 of its people had been acquitted last Tuesday by a Kenyan court and given 21 days to leave.

Yet China pressured Kenyan police to put eight of the Taiwanese nationals on to a Chinese jet bound for China on Friday, Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said. It did not say how they were taken.

“This is an uncivilized act of illegal kidnapping and a serious violation of basic human rights,” the ministry said in a statement, adding it was demanding the immediate return of the eight.

Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party, which distrusts China, also weighed in on the issue, demanding China “repatriate our people and guarantee their legal rights”.

China views Taiwan as a wayward province, to be brought under Beijing’s control by force if necessary. Defeated Nationalist forces fled to the island in 1949 after a civil war with the Communists now in control in Beijing.

Only 22 countries recognize Taiwan, with most, including Kenya, having diplomatic relations with Beijing, recognizing its “one China” policy.

Taiwan had sent officials from its representative office in South Africa to Kenya to try to deal with the case as it has no office in Kenya, the Foreign Ministry added.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said he needed to “further understand” the situation, when asked during a regular news briefing on Monday.

“But in principle, countries which follow the ‘one China’ principle are worthy of approval,” he added, without elaborating.

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, which oversees relations with Taiwan, said in a short statement sent to Reuters it was trying to find out what had happened. China’s Ministry of Public Security did not respond to a request for comment.

Kenyan government officials were not immediately available for comment.

Ties between Taiwan and China rapidly improved after the China-friendly Ma Ying-jeou took power in 2008 as Taiwan president and signed a series of landmark trade and business deals.

But China has looked on with suspicion at Taiwan since Tsai Ing-wen and her independence-leaning DPP won presidential and parliamentary elections in January.

Last month, China resumed ties with former Taiwan ally Gambia. China and Taiwan had for years tried to poach each other’s allies, often dangling generous aid packages in front of leaders of developing nations.

Alleged Money Laundering: Court Grants Badeh’s Variation Application

Alex BadehJustice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja has granted an application for variation filed by the counsel of the former Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshall Alex Badeh, having met all the conditions attached.

The judge, in his ruling, granted the application on the ground that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) failed to comply with a court order requesting it to verify the documents of the two sureties provided by the former Chief of Air Staff as part of his bail conditions.

The trial  was stalled on Wednesday because of the absence of the trial judge, Justice Obong Abang. The prosecution witness, who had testified at the last sitting, was expected to be cross examined by counsel to the former Defence Chief.

The trial, however, resumed at the Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday.

Badeh’s lead counsel asked the court to grant his client bail since he had met all the conditions, except for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, that had not gone to certify the properties of the sureties despite an existing court order to do so.

Justice Okon Abang granted the application, saying that the court will henceforth consider only documents verified by the court registrar as the EFCC cannot be punished for contempt.

The court also adjourned for a record third time, the case involving the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Mr Olisa Metuh.

Trial for both cases will now resume on April 8 when the EFCC is expected to call more witnesses in Badeh’s trial, and Justice Okon Abang is expected to rule on an earlier application by Metuh’s lawyer asking the court to disqualify itself.

U.N. Sets Up Inquiry Into South Sudan Human Rights Violations

United NationsThe United Nations Human Rights Council decided on Wednesday to set up a three-person commission to investigate the human rights abuses in South Sudan, making a last minute amendment to a resolution to significantly bolster scrutiny of the country.

The Council had been considering mandating a single expert, a proposal initiated by the United States and Albania. But after an oral amendment, it agreed by consensus to set up the commission, with a renewable one-year mandate.

South Sudan said it would cooperate with the commission, which is charged with looking gang rapes, destruction of villages and attacks on civilians that may constitute war crime

Allegedly Missing INEC Official With Ballot Box Re-surfaces

Election UpdateAn official of the Independent National Electoral Commissioner (INEC) in charge of the Port Harcourt City Council Hall, allegedly went missing on Saturday but re-surfaced at the state capital on Sunday and was promptly whisked away to the Mile-1 Police Station for questioning.

The governor of Rivers State Nyesome Wike, former Governor of Rivers State and presently the Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi, and other leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) all visited the police station, as tension mounted this morning.

There were accusations that it was an attempt to intimidate officials into rewriting the results of the poll.