Israel Postpones Netanyahu Graft Trial By 2 Months Over Virus

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem, on July 8, 2018. ABIR SULTAN / POOL / AFP

 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial has been postponed until May 24 due to concerns about coronavirus, Jerusalem’s District Court said Sunday.

Netanyahu, the first Israeli premier ever to be indicted in office, had been scheduled to stand trial from Tuesday over alleged bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

In a statement, the court noted that given the coronavirus pandemic it had been instructed to hear “only urgent matters”.

“We have decided to postpone the first hearing (in Netanyahu’s trial) until May 24,” the court said.

Israel has 200 confirmed cases of the virus with tens of thousands of people in home quarantine.

Netanyahu has been charged with a range of offences including receiving improper gifts and offering a media mogul lucrative regulatory changes in exchange for favourable coverage.

He denies wrongdoing.

Despite the indictments, Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party won the most seats in March 2 elections and he is aiming to form a new government.

But Likud and its allies fell short of the 61 seats needed for a majority in the Knesset, or parliament. It was Israel’s third inconclusive vote in less than a year.

Netanyahu has called on his main challenger Benny Gantz of the centrist Blue and White party to form an emergency, national unity government to tackle the coronavirus crisis.

Gantz has said he is open to discussing the proposal, with negotiations set for this week.

Trump ‘Cheats At Golf’: Bloomberg Mocks President With Billboard

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Democratic White House hopeful Michael Bloomberg mocked Donald Trump with a giant billboard on the Las Vegas Strip on Friday, fueling their feud as the US president visits the city for a rally.

“Donald Trump lost the popular vote,” read one slogan on the world-famous street lined with casinos, while another read “Donald Trump’s wall fell over.”

The giant digital billboard is just two miles (three kilometers) down the Strip from Trump’s own hotel, where the president is staying while in Las Vegas.

Bloomberg is vying for the Democratic nomination to take on Trump at November’s election and has focused his fire on the president rather than candidates from his own party.

When Bloomberg did face fellow Democrats at a Las Vegas debate on Wednesday, Trump was quick to crow: “Worst debate performance in history!”

Perhaps inevitably in a row between billionaires, golf was also a theme of the billboards — “Donald Trump cheats at golf,” read a third sign.

“A lot of people cheat at golf, it’s probably true,” said Gerry Frenze, a transport company owner from Delaware who was in town for a convention Friday.

“But I don’t like the idea (Bloomberg) can buy his way into office.”

His wife, Kim Corrigan, had little sympathy for Trump.

“Trump makes you want to attack him,” she said. “I don’t like (Bloomberg) doing that. But Trump started it. The way he operates cheapens everyone.”

The attack comes on the eve of Nevada’s key vote in the race for the Democratic nomination, with media from around the world in town.

Another passerby who did not wanted to be named simply shrugged: “He’s got the money.”

But Mya Sepeda, a tarot card reader working on a pedestrian bridge beneath the sign, took the matter more seriously.

“Maybe it’s true but he is the president and he deserves a bit of respect,” said Sepeda — adding that he had foreseen Trump would win the last election.

AFP

Pompeo Closes Africa Tour With Warning About China’s ‘Empty Promises’

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa on February 19, 2020. ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / POOL / AFP.

 

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday closed a three-nation Africa tour with a thinly-veiled swipe at China as he talked up Washington’s ability to stimulate growth and entrepreneurship on the continent.

“Countries should be wary of authoritarian regimes with empty promises. They breed corruption, dependency,” Pompeo said in a speech to diplomats and business leaders at the UN’s Economic Commission for Africa in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

“They run the risk that the prosperity and sovereignty and progress that Africa so needs and desperately wants won’t happen.”

Pompeo in his remarks did not explicitly mention China — Africa’s largest trading partner — but analysts predicted ahead of his trip that he would attempt to pitch the US as an alternative source of investment.

On Wednesday Pompeo name-checked US companies operating in all three countries on his Africa tour, the first by a US cabinet-level official in 19 months: Bechtel in Senegal, Chevron in Angola and Coca-Cola in Ethiopia.

He also hailed the free market generally, blasting “failed socialist experiments of years past” in places like Zimbabwe and Tanzania.

And he criticised a proposed constitutional amendment in South Africa that would allow private property to be expropriated without compensation — a plan that seeks to overcome inequalities set down in the apartheid era.

The amendment would be “disastrous for that economy and most importantly for the South African people,” he said.

Pompeo left later for Riyadh.

Mixed messages

Pompeo’s attempt to lay out a positive vision for US cooperation with Africa has been undermined by President Donald Trump’s Africa policy so far, analysts say.

Critics are quick to cite Trump’s widely-reported remarks in 2018 when he used a profanity to describe African and poorer Western Hemisphere nations whose citizens migrate to the United States.

Washington is currently discussing military cuts in Africa, and the US recently announced tightened visa rules targeting Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria, as well as Tanzania, Sudan and Eritrea.

“Pompeo is unlikely to undo the damage from the Trump administration’s travel bans, the proposed budget cuts, or the president’s disparaging comments about the region,” said Judd Devermont, Africa director at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think-tank in Washington.

But African leaders would nonetheless “welcome his long-overdue engagement and focus on the positives as much as possible,” Devermont said.

Even so, countries like Ethiopia have benefitted from Chinese engagement, rendering Pompeo’s message less effective, said Abel Abate Demissie, an Ethiopian political analyst.

“It is undeniable that Chinese investment was quite crucial in keeping Ethiopia on track as one of the world’s fastest-growing economies for many years,” Abel said.

He added that much Chinese money has gone toward tangible projects like roads and buildings, while American money is more often funnelled to “less visible” fields like education and health.

“The fact that Chinese loans and sometimes grants have less bureaucracy also makes it quite convenient for Ethiopia and Africa at large,” Abel said.

China has funnelled cash and loans into infrastructure projects across the continent.

However Beijing has faced accusations, which it denies, of saddling poor nations with debt, siphoning off mineral resources and leaving environmental damage.

Pompeo insisted Wednesday that Trump was eager to play a bigger role on the continent.

“If there’s one thing you should know about our president –- my boss –- you should know that he loves deals,” he said, drawing laughs from the audience.

“He wants more to happen between the United States and nations all across Africa.”

Bernie Sanders: From Leftist Fringe To Democratic Mainstream

Presidential Candidate Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders speaks during a rally at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, New Hampshire on February 10, 2020. Joseph Prezioso / AFP

 

He may be the oldest candidate in the field, but Bernie Sanders is the pick of the Democratic presidential hopefuls among young progressives seduced by fiery anti-establishment rhetoric and vigour belying his 78 years.

The Vermont senator, who hasn’t changed much since his days as a small-town mayor in the 1980s, finds himself catapulted from fringe leftist for much of his career to frontrunner in the race to challenge Donald Trump for the White House.

He is favourite to win the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday after narrowly losing the chaotic first-in-the-nation Iowa vote to fresh-faced challenger Pete Buttigieg.

Victory would put the gruff New York native in good standing to secure the Democratic nomination, although tougher challenges lie ahead as the contest moves to the more diverse electorates of Nevada and South Carolina.

Sanders has struggled to gain acceptance from the Democratic hierarchy — not least because the self-described independent only registered with the party last year.

Written off after defeat against Hillary Clinton in 2016 and dismissed by pundits again in 2020 after a heart attack that paused his campaign, he has re-emerged stronger than ever.

Sanders claimed frontrunner status for the first time with 25 percent support on Monday, reeling in former vice president Joe Biden (17 percent), in a Quinnipiac University national poll.

So what makes the famously irascible senator, a self-described democratic socialist, so popular?

Devotees point, for starters, to his energy. Sanders is a powerful, animated orator and his rallies — attended by thousands — have a rock star feel about them.

With his unruly white hair, he shakes his fist at corporate elites and fires up crowds with talk of “political revolution” and taxing the rich.

Endorsements from rising Democratic star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and rapper Cardi B have helped Sanders maintain an aura of vitality singularly lacking, according to critics, in fellow septuagenarian Biden.

Carpenter and filmmaker 

Sanders has put the fight against income inequality — which he has called the greatest moral, economic and political issue of our times — at the centre of his campaign.

His zeal and steadfast approach have helped pull the Democrats to the left.

Sanders’ calls for universal health care, a $15 minimum wage and free public university education, were once viewed as unrealistic.

But with Trump taking the Republicans further to the right, several of Sanders’ flagship policies are now championed by Democrat opponents, including Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.

“We have had more success in ideologically changing the party than I would have dreamed possible. The world has changed,” Sanders told GQ magazine in January 2019, a month before announcing his candidacy.

Sanders, who mounted a bruising challenge to Clinton for the Democratic nomination four years ago, avoids going into great detail about how he will pay for keynote policies such as healthcare for all and free college tuition.

Warren, on the other hand, has at times got too caught up in the minutiae and has struggled to shake off the notion that she is a policy wonk.

Bernard Sanders was born on September 8, 1941, in Brooklyn, New York, into a family of Jewish immigrants from Poland.

He attended Brooklyn College and later the University of Chicago, where he was active in the civil rights movement, attending the 1963 “March on Washington” where Martin Luther King Jr delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.

After graduating, Sanders worked on an Israeli kibbutz and moved to Vermont, where he worked as a carpenter and filmmaker.

In 1981, he was elected mayor of Burlington, a city of 42,000 people where he met the woman who would become his second wife and closest political advisor — Jane O’Meara.

In 1990 he won election as an independent to the US House of Representatives, serving until 2006 when he was elected to the Senate. He was re-elected in 2012 and 2018.

 ‘Bernie Bros’ 

While Sanders’ base appears younger and more diverse than Trump’s, elements have drawn comparisons with the president’s: those that are white and come from blue-collar backgrounds.

Warren and Clinton denounced a toxic streak among Sanders’ more ardent supporters, known as “Bernie Bros,” accused of aggressive and at times sexist online tactics.

Sanders was also forced to deny telling Warren that a woman could never win the White House.

Following his likely success in New Hampshire, Democrats will need to decide where they stand on the broader question of Sanders’ electability.

Some worry that Trump, who routinely mocks Sanders with the nickname “Crazy Bernie,” could successfully portray him as a dangerous communist in an election showdown.

But for supporters, as well as opponents on the Republican side, that outsider quality is exactly why he could appeal to voters.

“Sanders poses the greatest risk because we are still in an anti-establishment era for presidential elections,” summed up the Republican congressman and Trump ally Mark Meadows.

AFP

Trump Remains A Threat To American Democracy – House speaker

 

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi denounced the Senate’s acquittal of President Donald Trump on Wednesday and said he remains “an ongoing threat to American democracy.”

“Today, the President and Senate Republicans have normalized lawlessness and rejected the system of checks and balances of our Constitution,” Pelosi said in a statement issued after the Senate acquitted Trump of both impeachment articles passed by the House.

“The President remains an ongoing threat to American democracy, with his insistence that he is above the law and that he can corrupt the elections if he wants to,” Pelosi said.

The Republican-majority Senate voted 52-48 to acquit Trump of abuse of power and 53-47 to acquit him of obstruction of Congress.

UK Leaves European Union

 

 

Britain on Friday ended almost half a century of European Union membership, making a historic exit after years of bitter arguments to chart its own uncertain path in the world.

There were celebrations and tears across the country as the EU’s often reluctant member became the first to leave an organisation set up to forge unity among nations after the horrors of World War II.

Thousands of people waving Union Jack flags packed London’s Parliament Square to mark the moment of Brexit at 11 pm (2300 GMT) — midnight in Brussels.

“We did it!” declared Nigel Farage, the former member of the European Parliament who has campaigned for Brexit for years, before the crowd began singing the national anthem.

It was a largely good-natured gathering, aside from one Brexit supporter who earlier set an EU flag alight.

But Brexit has exposed deep divisions in British society, and many fear the consequences of ending 47 years of ties with their nearest neighbours.

Some pro-Europeans, including many of the 3.6 million EU citizens who made their lives in Britain, marked the occasion with solemn candlelit vigils.

Brexit has also provoked soul-searching in the EU about its own future after losing 66 million people, a global diplomatic big-hitter and the clout of the City of London financial centre.

– ‘Not an end, a beginning’ –

In an address to the nation, Prime Minister Boris Johnson — a figurehead in the seismic 2016 referendum vote for Brexit — acknowledged there might be “bumps in the road ahead”.

But he said Britain could make it a “stunning success”.

As he held a private party in his Downing Street office, a clock projected on the walls outside counted down the minutes until Brexit.

Johnson predicted a “new era of friendly cooperation” with the EU while Britain takes a greater role on the world stage.

“The most important thing to say tonight is that this is not an end but a beginning,” he said in a televised address.

EU institutions earlier began removing Britain’s red, white and blue flags in Brussels ahead of a divorce that German Chancellor Angela Merkel called a “sea-change” for the bloc.

French President Emmanuel Macron described it as a “historic warning sign” that should force the EU and its remaining nations of more than 440 million people to stop and reflect.

Britain’s departure was sealed in an emotional vote in the EU parliament this week that ended with MEPs singing “Auld Lang Syne”, a traditional Scottish song of farewell.

Almost nothing will change straight away, because of an 11-month transition period negotiated as part of the exit deal.

Britons will be able to work in and trade freely with EU nations until December 31, and vice versa, although the UK will no longer be represented in the bloc’s institutions.

But legally, Britain is out.

And while the divorce terms have been agreed, Britain must still strike a deal on future relations with the EU, its largest trading partner.

Both will set out their negotiating positions Monday.

“We want to have the best possible relationship with the United Kingdom, but it will never be as good as membership,” European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said in Brussels.

– ‘Goodbye & good luck’ –

Getting this far has been a traumatic process.

Britain resisted many EU projects over the years, refusing to join the single currency or the Schengen open travel area, and eurosceptics have long complained about Brussels bureaucracy.

Worries about mass migration added further fuel to the Brexit campaign while for some, the 2016 vote was a chance to punish the government for years of cuts to public spending.

But the result was still a huge shock.

It unleashed political chaos, sparking years of toxic arguments that paralysed parliament and forced the resignations of prime ministers David Cameron and Theresa May.

Johnson brought an end to the turmoil a decisive election victory in December which gave him the parliamentary majority he needed to ratify his Brexit deal.

But Britons remain as divided as they were nearly four years ago, when 52 percent voted to leave and 48 percent voted to remain in the EU.

“Rise and shine… It’s a glorious new Britain” said the Brexit-supporting Daily Express. The i newspaper, in contrast, headlined: “What next?”

In Scotland, where a majority voted to stay in 2016, Brexit has revived calls for independence.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “Scotland will return to the heart of Europe as an independent country — #LeaveALightOnForScotland.”

In Northern Ireland — soon to be the new EU frontier — there are fears Brexit could destabilise a hard-won peace after decades of conflict over British rule.

Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney tweeted: “Goodbye & good luck.”

– ‘Glad it’s over’ –

Johnson, a polarising figure accused of glossing over the complexity of leaving the EU, made no public appearance on Friday and avoided any official celebrations that might exacerbate divisions.

He hosted a special cabinet meeting in the northeastern city of Sunderland, which was the first to declare for Brexit in 2016, while Downing Street was lit up in the colours of the Union Jack flag.

Millions of commemorative 50 pence coins have also been issued.

It was a different story in nearby Parliament Square, where the moment of Brexit was met with cheers, the lighting of flares and balloons let off into the night sky.

“What happens now marks the point of no return. Once we have left, we are never, ever going back,” Farage told the crowd of cheering supporters.

At a “Big Brexit Bash” in Morley, northern England, Raymond Stott described the four years since the referendum as “a right cock-up”.

“I am just glad it’s all over. We will look after ourselves. We don’t need Europe,” said the 66-year-old.

Some British expatriates in southern Spain celebrated in bars but for many pro-Europeans, Friday marks a day they hoped would never come.

“Today is a day of mourning,” said Katrina Graham, 31, an Irish women’s rights activist who lives in Brussels, at a protest in central London.

At Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, a flashmob sang the EU anthem “Ode to Joy”, from Beethoven’s ninth symphony and waved flags.

– Trade talks loom –

From Saturday, Britain will be free to strike trade deals around the world, including with the United States.

Johnson has given himself just 11 months to negotiate a new partnership with the EU, covering everything from trade to security cooperation — despite warnings this is not enough time.

He also discussed with his ministers on Friday an aim to get 80 percent of Britain’s commerce covered by free trade agreements within three years, a spokesman said.

US President Donald Trump is an enthusiastic supporter of Brexit, and one of his top envoys on Friday hailed an “exciting new era”.

“We will continue building upon our strong, productive, and prosperous relationship with the UK as they enter this next chapter,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

Queen Elizabeth II Approves Government’s Brexit Bill

 

Queen Elizabeth II gave her formal assent Thursday for Britain to end its decades-long involvement in the European Union and seek a more independent but uncertain future at the end of the month.

The head of state’s ceremonial approval of the withdrawal legislation allows Britain to leave its closest neighbours and trading partners after years of bickering and three delays.

Two top EU officials in Brussels are expected to sign the separation treaty on Friday and Prime Minister Boris Johnson — the pro-Brexit figurehead of Britain’s seismic 2016 referendum — will put his name on it in the coming days.

“At times it felt like we would never cross the Brexit finish line, but we’ve done it,” Johnson said after both houses of the British parliament ratified the withdrawal bill on Wednesday.

“Now we can put the rancour and division of the past three years behind us and focus on delivering a bright, exciting future.”

The January 31 split caps a remarkable political comeback for Johnson at one of the most difficult points in Britain’s post-war history.

He quit former prime minister Theresa May’s government in 2018 in protest at what he viewed as her pro-European separation terms.

Johnson returned as May’s successor in July last year and has since managed to negotiate his own deal with Brussels and regain the government’s control of parliament in a risky early election last month.

The rest was a formality. Lawmakers barely debated the withdrawal agreement before passing it — even though critics called it worse for Britain than the one reached by May.

Johnson will celebrate his victory by issuing commemorative coins and chairing a special cabinet meeting in England’s pro-Brexit north on January 31.

‘Absolute priority’

Johnson will now be responsible for defining the terms on which Britain trades and shares everything from data to fishing waters with the remaining 27 EU member states.

The formal talks are not expected to begin until March but the war of words is already intense.

Johnson rejects EU arguments that the end-of-year negotiations deadline is too short to reach a comprehensive deal.

The UK government is also demanding the post-Brexit right to set its own rules on politically sensitive issues such as environmental standards and workers’ rights.

EU officials say this will give Britain an unfair advantage and are threatening to retaliate with tariffs and quotas that could hit the UK auto and pharmaceutical industries especially hard.

European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde said the bloc’s financial system was ready for the next stage.

“There can always be a risk somewhere,” she said in Frankfurt. “But I think in good conscience we have covered everything that we thought was necessary.”

Some analysts believe Johnson is prepared to pay the price of short-term economic damage in order to deliver on pledge to “get Brexit done”.

He argues that greater flexibility will help him reach a quick post-Brexit agreement with the United States and other nations that are growing much faster than those in Europe.

US officials say they are eager to strike a deal with Johnson.

An agreement “is an absolute priority for President (Donald) Trump and we expect to complete that with them this year,” US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said ahead of his arrival in London this weekend.

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross added that Johnson would have an easier time with Washington than Brussels because “there are far fewer issues between the UK and US.”

Johnson is expected to lay out his vision for the post-Brexit agreement with Brussels in a big policy address early next month.

“Once we have left the EU in just over a week’s time we’ll be free to start having discussions with countries around the world including the US,” Downing Street said Wednesday.

Trump ‘Should Be Removed’ – Adam Schiff

File Photo: US President Donald Trump 

 

Lead House impeachment manager Adam Schiff called dramatically for the Senate to remove President Donald Trump from office Thursday, saying the US leader cannot be trusted to put the country’s interests ahead of his own.

“The American people deserve a president they can count on, to put their interest first,” said Schiff.

His impassioned words capped a long day in which Democrats detailed Trump’s illicit scheme to pressure Ukraine to help his 2020 reelection campaign.

“You know, you can’t trust this president to do what is right for this country. You can trust he will do what’s right for Donald Trump,” Schiff added.

“He’ll do it now. He’s done it before. He’ll do it for the next several months. He’ll do it in the election if he’s allowed to. This is why, if you find him guilty, you must find that he should be removed.”

“Because right matters. And truth matters. Otherwise, we are lost.”

‘It is illegal’

As the 100 senators sat as jurors and millions of Americans watched on television, House impeachment managers mustered scores of videos, internal documents and extensive witness testimony to lay out a strong case that the US leader abused his powers.

Schiff’s prosecution team detailed how Trump flagrantly undertook last year to force Kiev to help him tarnish his possible 2020 reelection rival, former vice president Joe Biden.

“President Trump used the powers of his office to solicit a foreign nation to interfere in our elections for his own personal benefit,” House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler told the chamber.

“Since President George Washington took office in 1789, no president has abused his power in this way,” Nadler said.

“The president has repeatedly, flagrantly, violated his oath… The president’s conduct is wrong. It is illegal. And it is dangerous.”

‘Unfair and corrupt’

Over nine hours the Democrats methodically dismantled Republican claims that Trump did nothing wrong.

They left few doubts that Trump’s sole motivation in secretly freezing aid to Ukraine last July was to force Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to announce one investigation into Biden and a second into an unsupported story that Kiev helped Democrats in the 2016 election.

To puncture a key White House argument that the US constitution requires a specific crime to remove a president, they played old videos in which two of Trump’s closest defenders, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and storied criminal defense attorney Alan Dershowitz, said that abuse of power itself is a clear impeachable offense.

And they detailed the extensive role of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani in the scheme to pressure Zelensky, even while US intelligence and diplomatic chiefs disagreed with it.

“Donald Trump chose Rudy Giuliani over his own intelligence agencies. He chose Rudy Giuliani over his own national security advisors… That makes him dangerous to our country,” said Schiff, who leads the House Intelligence Committee.

Uphill battle

Yet, three days into arguments into the historic trial, there were few signs that any of the Republican majority that Trump commands in the Senate would buy into the evidence and turn against him.

“What we heard from the managers yesterday, the day before, it is the same thing, day after day after day,” said Republican Senator John Barrasso.

“We’re hearing the same things over and over,” said Trump attorney Jay Sekulow. “We will be putting on vigorous defense of both facts and rebutting what they’ve said.”

At the White House, Trump unleashed a barrage of tweets attacking the process as “loaded with lies and misrepresentations.”

“Most unfair & corrupt hearing in Congressional history!” he tweeted

Witness issue

Democratic prosecutors will complete their arguments Friday with a focus on the second impeachment charge, obstruction of Congress, before Trump’s legal team holds the floor in his defense for three days.

Democrats are hoping their arguments will at least persuade some Republicans, who hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate, to support their call to issue subpoenas next week for four top current and former Trump aides to testify, and for internal White House records about the Ukraine affair.

But all indications were that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, in coordination with the White House, will seek to stifle witness requests and bring the trial to a close with a vote to acquit Trump by the end of next week.

Both Trump and McConnell said early this week that the White House could claim executive privilege to refuse the subpoenas, forcing a court challenge that could prolong the case well into February.

I Will Ensure That 2023 Will Be Free And Fair – Buhari

 

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has declared that as a beneficiary of a free and fair election in the country he would bequeath the same to his successor and the nation in 2023.

The President spoke at a dinner with members of the legal team for the 2019 presidential election petition on Thursday in Abuja.

The President recounted that the turnout of Nigerians during his presidential campaigns to the 36 states of the Federation in 2019 convinced him that his re-election was not a fluke.

‘‘The number of people that turned out in every state across the country was more than anybody can buy or force.

‘‘This gave me so much confidence and the election proved that with the votes I got.

‘‘That is why I insist that elections must be free and fair because I am a clear successor to a free and fair election,’’ he said.

The President told the legal team that he was already looking forward to a peaceful hand over in 2023, stressing that he was morally bound to fulfill that wish.

READ ALSO: Buhari Departs Abuja For UK-Africa Summit

‘‘Morally I want to have a clear conscience. I swore by the Holy Book that I will abide by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

‘‘I will continue to do my best and I hope that by 2023, I can handover quietly to whoever succeeds me and I wish him the best of luck,’’ he said.

The President commended the legal team led by Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN for the outstanding legal successes recorded in the presidential election petition.

He praised the team for the effective legal strategy that thrived in piloting his election litigation.

‘‘You creditably demonstrated a deep understanding of the law and its practices and I am indeed proud of you all.

‘‘I am confident that by securing a convincing and unanimous legal victory at the Supreme Court you have by so doing ensured that the political mandate of the Nigerian electorate is now firmly secured,’’ he said.

The President added that the legal team’s enormous contributions have affirmed the rule of law and further entrenched democratic governance in Nigeria.

‘‘This legal team is an assemblage of some of the most scholarly legal teams ever assembled in this country.

‘‘I must note that the aforesaid legal successes recorded through your excellence have assisted me in fulfilling this government’s desire for a better Nigeria,’’ he said.

On behalf of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the President told the team to accept his commendations and best wishes for their meritorious service.

In his remarks, the lead counsel, Chief Olanipekun said the legal victory was won based on the facts of the law, stressing that the President never used his position or office to influence the decision of the Courts.

The lead counsel said:

“The courts were allowed to do their job, Mr President and I must commend you for that Sir. Nobody whispered to anyone of us, how we are going to see Judge A or Judge B. That’s the way it should be. Judges must be allowed and be given free hand to do their job.

‘‘Mr President, we are happy to have been called upon and we are happy that we delivered. ’’

On electoral reforms, Olanipekun acknowledged that while the National Assembly was doing something about the Electoral Act, the Act requires some ‘‘rejigging and cleansing.’’

‘‘We are happy to know that the National Assembly is doing something about the Electoral law.

‘‘We are ready to cooperate with them without taking a dime, whether as consultants, whether as legal practitioners, whether as experts. If the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) will co-opt us we are ready to give assistance,’’ he said.

Olanipekun commended the President’s commitment to the rule of law, saying ‘‘it is the surest legacy Mr President can bequeath to our dear nation.’’

Surprise Eminem Album Urges Gun Control, Sparks Anger Over Bomb Lyric

 

 

Guess who’s back?… Rapper Eminem surprised fans Friday by dropping a new album featuring a strong anti-gun violence theme but also stoking the kind of controversy that brought him fame.

On the album, one track called “Darkness” tells the story of a loner going on a shooting spree, while another song, “Unaccommodating,” has triggered outcry and muddied the veteran singer’s call for gun control.

The song references the 2017 deadly bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, Britain, which left 22 people dead.

“But I’m contemplating yelling ‘bombs away’ on the game like I’m outside of an Ariana Grande concert waiting,” the 47-year-old artist, born Marshall Mathers, raps on the track.

READ ALSO: Whitney Houston, Biggie Among Rock Hall Of Fame Inductees

The lyric was met with scorn on social media, with some users dubbing it “disgusting” and “trash.”

The new album, called “Music to be Murdered by,” features appearances from the late rapper Juice WRLD, along with Q-Tip, Ed Sheeran, Anderson. Paak and regular collaborator singer Skylar Grey.

Dr. Dre is credited throughout as a producer.

Eminem released his last album “Kamikaze” in 2018 in a similar sudden fashion. That album included several attacks on President Donald Trump.

The rapper also released Friday a video for “Darkness” that featured audio and footage from the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas, the deadliest US gun massacre carried about by an individual in modern history.

It ends urging viewers to register to vote: “Make your voice heard and help change gun laws in America,” closing text reads.

What Pushed Me Into Partisan Politics After 1985 Coup – Buhari

The President Needs To Rejig His Kitchen Cabinet – Oyebode
A file photo of President Muhammadu Buhari.

 

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has revealed why he took an interest in politics after ruling the country as a military general.

He explained that the decision to join politics was taken after a clean bill on his integrity by those who detained him after the 1985 military coup.

The President noted that his record as governor of the North East, Minister of Petroleum, and Head of State was thoroughly checked and nothing incriminating was found.

“After I was released and nothing was found on me, I took interest in politics,” he told a group of youths on Friday at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

President Buhari added, “This is what pushed me into partisan politics; to serve with integrity. So, I decided to try leadership as a civilian, after taking off the military uniform.”

‘We Learnt Our Lessons’

He made the remarks while receiving youth leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from the six geo-political zones.

The President advised the younger generation to keep a broader view of the country as one entity, and continuously de-emphasise ethnic and religious backgrounds in nation-building.

He said, “Whether we like it or not, we will someday handover to Nigerian youths. And you have to brace up for leadership.

“Some interest groups will come up with ethnic, religious issues, but you have to look at the broader picture.”

“We had a civil war that consumed over 2 million Nigerians, and we learned our lessons. Nigeria is one country, and no one should take our firmness for granted,” President Buhari was quoted as saying in a statement by his media adviser, Femi Adesina.

On his second tenure, the President gave the assurance that he would be more firm, focused and relentless in delivering results.

He also promised to ensure the country was secure, stimulate the economy to work for all, and fight corruption.

Ukraine Calls for ‘Evidence’ In Iran Plane Crash Probe

An engine lies on the ground after a Ukrainian plane carrying 176 passengers crashed near Imam Khomeini airport in the Iranian capital Tehran early in the morning on January 8, 2020, killing everyone on board. The Boeing 737 had left Tehran’s international airport bound for Kiev, semi-official news agency ISNA said, adding that 10 ambulances were sent to the crash site.
AFP

 

Ukraine asked international partners to provide any evidence they may have to help investigators probing a Ukrainian passenger plane that crashed in Iran, as US media reported it was mistakenly shot down by a missile.

All 176 people on board died when Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) Boeing 737NG went down on Wednesday, shortly after Tehran launched missiles at US forces in Iraq in response to the killing of a top Iranian general in a US drone strike in Baghdad.

“If any country has information that can help conduct a transparent and objective investigation into the tragedy, we are ready to receive it and cooperate in further verification,” the Ukraine presidency said in an English-language statement.

“Ukraine is interested in finding the truth. Therefore, I ask all our international partners: if you have any evidence to assist the investigation, please provide it.”

READ ALSO: UK PM Says Information Suggests Ukraine Jet Hit By Iran Missile

Investigators are pursuing several leads following the crash of the Ukrainian passenger plane in Iran, including a surface-to-air missile strike, an act of terror and engine failure, Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s national security and defence council (RNBO), told AFP earlier Thursday.

The council is tasked with coordinating the probe into the disaster, the first fatal crash involving Ukraine’s biggest carrier UIA.

US President Donald Trump said Thursday he had “suspicions” about the crash as unnamed officials told American media that Iranian air defence systems likely accidentally shot down the airliner.

Newsweek, CBS, and CNN said that satellite, radar, and electronic data indicated the tragic error, which followed a ballistic missile barrage by Iran on two military bases in Iraq where US troops work.