CSOs Ask UN, AU To Secure Sowore’s Release    

Sowore Accuses APC, PDP Of Spending Beyond N1bn Threshold At Primaries
Omoyele Sowore speaks during an appearance on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics on December 2, 2018.

 

Calls have been made from about 50 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) asking the United Nations and the African Union to intervene in the Federal Government’s case against the publisher of Sahara Reporters, Mr Omoyele Sowore.

They also want the international bodies to secure the activist’s release.

The groups include the Amnesty International, Media Rights Agenda, All Workers’ Convergence, and Afrika Movement for Freedom and Justice .

The CSOs had filed an appeal on Sowore’s behalf at the United Nations (UN) and the African Union (AU) on August 23.

This comes after one of the lawyers representing Sowore alleged that the Department of State Services (DSS) repeatedly blocked a bailiff of the Federal High Court in Abuja from serving a fresh court order for his release.

Macron Hails Ukrainian Film-Maker Oleg Sentsov’s Release

French President Emmanuel Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday hailed Ukrainian director Oleg Senstov’s release by Russia as part of a landmark prisoner swap.

“I hail the release of film-maker Oleg Sentsov under a prisoner exchange conducted today between Russia and Ukraine. We have always been by his side,” he said in a tweet.

AFP

Father-In-Law To Buhari’s ADC Regains Freedom

District Head of Daura, Musa Umar.

 

The kidnapped father-in-law to President Muhammadu Buhari’s Aide de Camp (ADC), Musa Umar, has regained his freedom.

Confirming the development to Channels Television, a security source within the Presidency who craved anonymity said Umar was rescued in Kano.

READ ALSO: Gunmen Storm Daura, Kidnap Father-In-Law To Buhari’s ADC

Umar who is said to be the Magajin Garin Daura was abducted in his Daura residence, Katsina North shortly after observing Maghrib prayer two months ago.

The attackers shot sporadically to disperse the crowd and picked the traditional ruler.

The traditional ruler, a retired customs comptroller, is the father of Fatima Musa, wife of Colonel Mohammed Abubakar, the ADC to President Buhari.

 

 

 

Again, IMN Members Demand Release Of El-Zakzaky, Wife

 

Some members of the academic forum of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria on Wednesday renewed their demand for the release of their leader, Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenah.

The spokesperson of the forum, Mukhtar Auwal at a conference in Abuja said his continued detention despite a 2016 Federal High Court order against the alleged protective custody is worsening his health condition.

They, therefore, called for their immediate release to enable seek proper medical attention.

“We are reiterating our demand for the unconditional release of our leader, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and his wife,” he stated.

The IMN leader is facing trial over allegations of culpable homicide, unlawful assembly, and disruption of the public peace, among other charges in a Kaduna State High Court.

He and his wife were first arraigned on May 15, 2018, two years after their arrest in December 2015 in Zaria.

Group Calls For Leah Sharibu’s Release, Says Her ‘Education Is Truncated’

Leah Sharibu

 

The Gideon and Funmi Para-Mallam Peace Foundation, an advocacy group has called on the Federal Government to release the abducted Dapchi schoolgirl, Leah Sharibu, from the Boko Haram captivity, stressing that her education is truncated.

The criticism comes a day after Nigerians marked the second birthday of Leah who was abducted along with over 100 of her mates from the Government Girls Secondary School in Dapchi, Adamawa State.

While the other schoolgirls had regained their freedom from the insurgents, Leah, a Christian, was the only one who was not released for refusing to denounce her faith.

But appearing on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, the Convener and Founder of the Gideon and Funmi Para-Mallam Peace Foundation, Reverend Gideon Para-Mallam, said the Federal Government ought to champion the cause for Leah’s release.

“Leah (Sharibu) presently is a voice. Our celebration yesterday not just in Abuja but throughout the country is to give a voice to Leah who is being held in captivity unjustly. Her education is truncated, something is happening in her life.

READ ALSO: Nigerians React As Leah Sharibu Marks Second Birthday In Boko Haram Captivity

“The (Federal) Government should be on the lead in this advocacy. But what the government sometimes do is to come up with some narratives, they come up with explanations,” he stated.

Following the continued captivity of Leah by the terrorists, Para-Mallam explained that Mrs. Sharibu has been going through emotional trauma.

When asked if he has been communicating with her parents, he responded in the affirmative saying “regularly.”

“We spoke with Leah’s dad yesterday, two days ago I spoke with the dad. I speak to the mother from time to time, I try to reach her. Her line was off so their father explained that there was no power,” he stated.

R. Kelly Released On Bail, Denies Sexually Abusing Children

R Kelly arrives for the 2013 American Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles, California.  Frederic J. BROWN / AFP

 

R&B superstar R. Kelly was freed from jail Monday after posting bail and pleading not guilty to 10 counts of aggravated criminal sex abuse against four victims, three of them minors.

The 52-year-old, who did not speak to reporters, was released from custody after spending three nights behind bars during which time his associates and family members worked to gather the $100,000 necessary to bail him out.

Hours earlier, Kelly stood in a Chicago courtroom wearing an orange jumpsuit as his lawyer entered a not-guilty plea. The musician had turned himself in three days earlier.

The star’s bail had been set at $1 million, of which he was required to pay 10 percent.

His lawyer Steve Greenberg — who has called his client’s finances “a mess” — maintained the chart-toppers innocence.

READ ALSO: $1 Million Bail Set For Singer R. Kelly

“Mr. Kelly’s done absolutely nothing wrong,” he told reporters at the courthouse.

Michael Avenatti, the high-profile lawyer representing at least two of the alleged victims, said his team had turned over a second, 55-minute-long tape to prosecutors that depict the artist “engaged in an illegal sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl.”

“The conduct in the tape can be described as nothing short of outrageous and illegal,” the lawyer told reporters.

Avenatti earlier this month gave Chicago prosecutors approximately 40 minutes of previously unreleased footage of Kelly allegedly having sex with a teenager.

He said his team was in the process of obtaining the third tape of a similar nature, and that additional witnesses had come forward over the weekend.

“This reign of abuse and assault by Mr. Kelly is about to come to an abrupt and permanent end,” Avenatti said.

Kelly, best known for hits such as “I Believe I Can Fly,” is next due in court on March 22.

 Checkered past 

Kelly surrendered to Chicago police Friday after a documentary series refocused attention on decades of accusations against him, including possession of child pornography, sex with minors, operating a sex cult and sexual battery.

After a dramatic trial, Kelly was acquitted in 2008 of child pornography charges, also in Chicago. The new 10-count indictment included three people who were minors aged between 13 and 16 when the alleged abuse occurred.

Kim Foxx — the state’s attorney for Cook County, which includes Chicago — told journalists the alleged crimes occurred between 1998 and 2010. The charges carry three to seven years of prison time each.

Kelly’s lawyer has said the charges are based on old and false accusations, adding that “all of the women are lying.”

Lizzette Martinez — who detailed allegations against Kelly in the docu-series and is now a client of prominent women’s rights lawyer Gloria Allred — lashed out against Greenberg’s comments, calling them “irresponsible.”

“I’m a mother and I have a daughter,” said the 41-year-old, who claims Kelly abused her between 1995 and 1999.

“I felt like I had to be transparent and vocal about what happened to me, to save others,” Martinez said when asked by journalists in Los Angeles why she came forward.

“I was hurt when I was young.”

Kelly is known for marrying his protege Aaliyah in 1994 when the late R&B star was 15.

Kelly, then 27, had produced the teenage singer’s debut album titled “Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number.” Their marriage was later annulled, and Aaliyah died in a plane crash in 2001.

Despite the slew of disturbing claims against him, the award-winning musician continued to perform for years and maintained a solid fan base.

Last month’s release of the “Surviving R. Kelly” series once again brought accusations against him to the fore. A #MuteRKelly movement — aimed at preventing his music from airing — has gained steam.

Lisa VanAllen, who spoke out against Kelly in the 2008 criminal trial and again in the recent documentary, wrote in The New York Times that she had feared no vindication would come for “a young, struggling, black girl victim like me.”

“It’s been a long time coming, but here we are,” she wrote. “More than 10 years after I nervously faced Rob in court, I know one thing: This will not end the way it did before. It cannot.”

AFP

Leah Sharibu’s Family Again Asks Buhari To Secure Her Release

Leah Sharibu (file photo)

 

The family of abducted Dapchi schoolgirl, Leah Sharibu has again called on the Federal Government to secure the release of their daughter from the enclaves of the Boko Haram sect.

Speaking on behalf of the family, the Pastor of the Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA), Pastor Fidelis Saul in Yola, regretted that the indifference shown in facilitating Leah’s release is as a result of her faith.

“I believe that the government is taking sides. This is because Leah is not the only person that was taken away. But why Leah is still being left behind today is because she is always calling Jesus Christ her saviour.

“The government is taking sides, they see Christians as nothing. That is the reason why when we are crying, nobody will care about our crying. If the government knows that we are together, they should allow Leah to come back home right now before elections.

READ ALSO: Leah Sharibu’s Family Asks Buhari To Secure Her Release Ahead Of Abduction Anniversary

Pastor Saul who also is the convener of a prayer session held in Leah’s remembrance called on the Federal Government to secure her release.

While stressing that releasing Leah would restore hope to them, he warned that “if they refuse to release Leah, it’s clear that they are showing us we are nothing in the country.”

Speaking also, Leah’s mother, Rebecca Sharibu lamented that since the abduction, she has never known peace.

The renewed calls for her release comes a year after Leah was kidnapped by a faction of the Boko Haram sect – Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP).

Leah is one of the over 100 schoolgirls abducted by the insurgents in February 2018 from the Government Girls Secondary School, Dapchi in Yobe State.

Weeks after the abduction, the other girls were released while Leah was kept in captivity by the terrorists reportedly for refusing to renounce Christianity.

She was the only Christian among the girls.

On August 27, 2018, an audio clip emerged in which the abducted schoolgirl could be heard pleading with the President to help her regain her freedom.

In the clip, the 15-year-old also sought help for her family and asked the government also treat a case with passion.

ICC Orders Conditional Release Of Former Cote D’Ivore Leader Gbagbo

The International Criminal Court on Friday ordered the conditional release of former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo after he was cleared last month on charges of crimes against humanity.

Appeals judge Chile Eboe-Osuji said the court was “adding a set of conditions to the release” including that Gbagbo, 73, should live in an ICC member state pending a final prosecution appeal against his acquittal.

AFP

Court Orders Release Of Hunger Striking Lawmaker

 

A Turkish court on Friday ordered the supervised release of a detained lawmaker from the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) who is seriously ill as a result of her 11-week hunger strike.

Leyla Guven, 55, launched a hunger strike on November 8 in protest at the prison conditions for Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan and her deteriorating health has sparked concerns and rallies to support her cause.

The MP will be monitored after she is freed, the court in Diyarbakir in the Kurdish majority southeast said, although few further details of the terms of her release are yet available.

Guven, whose party has said is suffering a “life-threatening” medical condition, did not attend the hearing, according to an AFP journalist in the court.

She was arrested in January 2018 for her criticism of Turkey’s military operation against a Syrian Kurdish militia that Ankara considers an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The MP started the hunger strike in prison and her action was supported by more than 150 prisoners across Turkey in a show of solidarity.

Guven’s hunger strike was aimed at pressuring the government into allowing lawyers and family members to visit PKK leader Ocalan, who has been serving a life sentence on an island prison near Istanbul since his capture in 1999.

Ocalan met his brother Mehmet for the first time in more than two years on January 12. The details of that meeting were not yet made public.

In 2012, hundreds of Kurdish prisoners ended a 68-day hunger strike after Ocalan urged them to do so.

Guven’s HDP party remains under the scrutiny of Turkish authorities, which accuse it of links to the PKK. Several of its MPs are behind bars, including former party leader Selahattin Demirtas.

AFP

Cote D’Ivore’s Gbagbo Seeks Immediate Release From ICC

Former Cote D’Ivore’s President Laurent Gbagbo enters the courtroom of the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Peter Dejong / ANP / AFP

 

Defence lawyers sought Ivorian ex-president Laurent Gbagbo’s immediate release by the International Criminal Court on Thursday following his acquittal over post-election violence.

The Hague-based court halted the freeing of 73-year-old Gbagbo, the first former head of state to face trial at the ICC, and his right-hand man Charles Ble Goude late Wednesday after a last-ditch application by prosecutors.

The prosecution argued that there was a “concrete risk” they could flee, and that they should stay behind bars while an appeal against Tuesday’s decision to acquit the two men of crimes against humanity is heard.

A legal filing by defence lawyers on Thursday, a copy of which was seen by AFP, urged the court to “reject the demand by the prosecutor seeking to suspend the decision to immediately release Laurent Gbagbo”.

Attorneys for Ble Goude, 47, made a similar bid.

Lawyers for victims of the violence, however, filed a separate motion calling for them to stay behind bars.

Appeals judges are expected to hold a hearing within days on whether to release Gbagbo and Ble Goude. Dealing with the wider appeal on the acquittal will take weeks or months.

The Ivorian pair had been on trial over violence in 2010-11 in the West African nation after Gbagbo refused to concede defeat in an election to now-president Alassane Ouattara.

The crisis claimed some 3,000 lives, with atrocities allegedly committed by both sides.

Judges stopped the trial midway on Tuesday citing an “exceptionally weak” prosecution case, and earlier on Wednesday, they rejected an initial bid by prosecutors to keep Gbagbo behind bars.

Celebrations erupted outside the court and Gbagbo’s daughter said he planned an emotional homecoming to the Ivory Coast, after seven years in detention in The Hague.

But the court then halted the release later Wednesday.

AFP

Abducted Ekiti LG Workers Regain Freedom

 

The two local government workers abducted in Ekiti State have regained their freedom.

Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Caleb Ikechukwu, confirmed this to Channels Television on Saturday.

He also said the new Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr Amba Asuquo, visited the two officials at their homes after they were released by their abductors.

Ikechukwu, however, could not confirm if any ransom was paid.

He explained that the captives were released when it became obvious to the abductors that the police were trailing them.

The gunmen had killed one Abayomi Ajayi, an accounting officer working at Emure Local Government Area (LGA) of the state.

The victim was shot dead by the gunmen on Wednesday along Ikere-Ise Road while returning from work and, thereafter, abducted the two men who were released after three days.

Meanwhile, the state government stated that it was stepping up its fight against criminal elements in the state.

Trump Demands Immediate Release Of US Pastor

Pastor Andrew Craig Brunson (R), escorted by Turkish plain clothes police officers as he arrives at his house on July 25, 2018 in Izmir. STRINGER / AFP

 

President Donald Trump on Thursday demanded Turkey free an American pastor detained since 2016, warning the United States was ready to impose “large sanctions” against its NATO ally.

“He is suffering greatly,” Trump said of 50-year-old pastor Andrew Brunson. “This innocent man of faith should be released immediately!”

AFP