The Continent

EU, group of 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific states reaffirm support for SDG 14

In the framework of the ‘Our Ocean’ Conference, the European Union and the group of 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific states have reaffirmed on October 6 their support to the implementation of SDG 14 and have stressed their commitment to an ambitious, long-term vision of protection, valorisation, and sustainable use of our oceans, as well as to sustainable blue growth, and their willingness to intensify their coordinated action and cooperation.

Noting with great appreciation the tangible interest that has surrounded the preparation of the Conference hosted by the EU and the wide participation of relevant stakeholders from international and regional organisations, the civil society, academia, and the private sector, the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, representing the large majority of Small Island Developing States, have agreed:

– Insofar as access, use, and management of vital marine resources, the EU and ACP countries will cooperate to increase convergence towards mutual commitments and undertake tangible actions to strengthen ocean governance worldwide, reduce pressure on the oceans, improve ocean research and data; and to reinforce actions for sustainable inclusive growth of the blue economy for the benefit all.

– Ocean governance is a strategic domain that offers a sizeable opportunity for the EU-ACP partnership to exploit to the fullest its potential of the largest ambitious alliance in the world

– The challenge of keeping our oceans healthy, productive, safe, secure, and resilient shall be addressed with the participation of all relevant actors and stakeholders, including local authorities, the civil society organisations, the research community, and the private sector.

The EU and the ACP Group of countries stand united in calling for effective global actions to manage and use the world’s oceans and their resources, in ways that keep our oceans healthy, productive, safe, secure and resilient.

Source: PR Newswire (New York)

Morocco tests Africa’s first high-speed rail Line

Morocco is to stage 320-kilometre-per-hour tests on the African continent’s first high-speed railway, due to come into operation during the summer of 2018, the national railway network ONCF announced on October 9. An earlier test at 275 kilometres per hour took place in the presence of French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who is in the country to monitor progress on the project, which is partly financed by a French loan. “At 270-275 kilometres per hour, this is already the fastest train on the African continent,” Le Drian commented during a ceremony to mark the signing of a loan to the ONCF by the French Development Agency.

France is providing 50 percent of the two-billion-euro cost, which is 15 percent higher than initial estimates published in 2007. The rolling stock will be provided by France’s Alstom engineering company. The 350-kilometre link between Casablanca and Tangiers via the capital Rabat will cut journey times between the north African country’s economic hubs by almost two-thirds, to just over two hours. Difficult terrain and high winds on parts of the route have made some major engineering works, including the construction of 12km of viaducts, necessary. A “Stop TGV” campaign was launched against the project, arguing that it was not a priority for the country and would not pay its way.

Source: Radio France Internationale       

Paratus now licensed in 22 African countries

Paratus, the fastest growing and also the largest privately owned Pan African telecoms operator, has reaffirmed its position on the continent. The company is fast expanding and is now fully licensed in 22 African countries. Paratus Africa is the largest privately owned Pan African telecoms operator with its head office in Windhoek, Namibia. The company was founded as Internet Technologies Group Namibia in 2005. “As a fully licensed telecoms operator in all the countries where we operate, we are perfectly positioned to take advantage of this opportunity,” said Paratus chief executive officer Barney Harmse. As part of its fibre expansion programme, Paratus plans to invest a total of more than N$150 million on infrastructure in Namibia over the next three years of which N$100 million will be invested in fibre infrastructure.

The Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) has prescribed that all Namibian businesses should receive their billing from a licensed operator in Namibia. Paratus is working closely with its clients and operators to ensure that all billing is done locally and that all operations are in terms of regulations and that all regulatory requirements are being met. “We work in close cooperation with the regulators in every country to ensure the services we provide are approved and licensed. Paratus is a reputable organisation, we cannot afford to be associated with or to do business with unlicensed service providers,” he said.

Paratus made a N$1 billion turnover in 2016 and its total budget for Africa over the next five years is N$1,5 billion. Paratus has fully licensed offices in Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Zambia and South Africa and delivers products and services to 22 African countries. Since inception, Paratus has established a prolific network extending the entire Namibia, with additional international points-of-presence located in Johannesburg (South Africa), Lisbon (Portugal) as well as London (UK). This network is commensurate of its ability to provide exceptional customer service at all times.

Paratus was issued with a Class Comprehensive Telecommunications Service License in 2012, following further expansion of its 4G network, national and international network to provide telecommunications services to the Namibian public at large as well as the private and corporate sector.

Source: New Era

Central Africa

Blazing DRC conflicts threaten entire continent

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s borders have degenerated into hot spots for local and foreign armed groups threatening peace in Central, Eastern and Southern Africa. Neighboring Burundi, Central African Republic and South Sudan, which are also besieged by conflicts of their own, have borne the brunt of the militancy while stable countries such as Angola and Uganda are equally in tribulation for sharing the border with DRC. The United Nations Security Council noted there have been cases of security breaches along the border between the DRC and Central African Republic as a result of the activities of the Lord’s Resistance Army.

The Christian radical group has intensified its militancy due to the withdrawal of troops from the United States Forces Command in Africa and the gradual reduction of the activities of the African Union’s regional cooperation initiative for the elimination of the group. In addition, the conflict in South Sudan has exacerbated insecurity along the border with the two countries.About 600 members of the opposition Sudanese Liberation Movement are still in UN premises near Goma. In Uganda, inter-communal tensions in Kasese district, near the border with DRC, are cause concern.

The tensions have intensified along the border between Uganda and South Sudan as a result of the continuous influx of refugees. Angola has meanwhile strengthened the presence of its security forces in the border areas with DRC following the mass arrival of Congolese refugees. DRC is characerised by multifaceted conflict, which has escalated since President Joseph Kabila prolonged his stay in power despite the lapse of his term in 2016. About 3,5 million people are displaced, making DRC the country with the highest number of internal displacement globally.

Source: cajnews    

New witness links Kagame’s RPF to former Rwanda President’s killing

French investigators have questioned a new witness who implicates Rwandan President Paul Kagame’s forces in the 1994 killing of former Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana, which sparked the genocide of Tutsisby members of the Hutu majority, leaving an estimated 800,000 people dead.

The witness, who has been questioned twice but has not been named, says he helped load two surface-to-air missiles at the headquarters of Kagame’s Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) to be taken to Kigali, where they were allegedly used to take down Habyarimana’s plane. He also says that two men, Franck Nziza and Eric Hakizimana, later told him they had fired the missiles. The French judiciary, which is acting on a legal complaint from French citizens killed aboard Habyarimana’s plane, decided in October 2016 to reopen its investigation into the assassination.

So far a total of seven people have been charged in France over the deaths, including Rwanda’s current Defence Minister James Kabarebe. The witness says that he was part of Kabarebe’s bodyguard at the time and that Kabarabe boasted about the success of a mission on the date of the killing. Investigating magistrate Clément Herbo has ordered a confrontation between the witness and Kabarebe and Nziza in December. The man claims to have taken refuge in Uganda after being ordered to eliminate a colleague working in the missiles section of the RPF’s headquarters.

The Rwandan government has rejected all accusations of RPF involvement, claiming that the missile was fired by a hardline Hutu faction in the army of the time. A Rwandan investigation has accused 22 French army officers of involvement in the genocide.

Source: Radio France Internationale

North Africa

UN mission condemns deadly bombing in Libya’s Misrata

Condemning an attack against a court house in the Libyan city of Misrata, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) underscored that those behind the incident must be held accountable. At least three individuals were killed and more than 15 injured in the attack on October 4, the responsibility for which is claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) terrorist group.

“Indiscriminate attacks against civilians, including employees of the judicial institutions, are violations of human rights and international humanitarian law and cannot be justified,” the Mission said in a statement. “Those behind today’s bombing and other such despicable acts must face justice.”

In the statement, the Mission also expressed its solidarity with the Government and people of Libya. It added that the Special Representative for the Secretary-General for the country and the head of UNSMIL, Ghassan Salame, expressed his condolences to the families of those killed and wished a swift recovery to the injured.

Source: UN News Service 

Citizens among migrants found trapped amid Libya fighting

Thousands of migrants have been found trapped in camps in Libya the past days after they were caught amid the fighting over the northwestern city of Sabratha, officials said on October 8. Sabratha, a city on the western side of Libya’s Mediterranean coast that used to be the main launching point for migrant boats, has witnessed heavy clashes over the past two weeks. Hundreds were killed in the fighting and officials said that it was triggered by an Italian deal with one of the rival militias to stem the flow of migrants from Libya across the Mediterranean.

Over 4,000 migrants, including pregnant women and children, were found in the past two days in different locations in town, said Saleh Graisia, the spokesman for Anti-ISIS Operation Room. The group is now in control of the city of Sabratha. Graisia accused the al-Ammu militia — which struck a deal with Italy and Libya to stop trafficking — of storing the migrants to smuggle them later. It wasn’t immediately possible to reach al-Ammu for comment.

Essam Karrar, the head of the Sabratha Civil Society Federation, said 1,700 migrants were found at the western edge of Sabratha, which used to be under control of al-Ammu, while the rest were scattered elsewhere. He said al-Ammu intended to deport the migrants. The city is now “healing its wounds” after the fighting shattered families and brothers raised guns against each other. “We the people in Sabratha were only tools in the hands of Europeans,”‘ he said.

The deal with Italy led to a dramatic drop in migration from Sabratha but some in Libya feared the salaries and supplies would enrich the militias and make them more powerful. The boost to one side threw off the balance of power in Sabratha, triggering a backlash from other local militias.

Source: Shabelle Media Network (Mogadishu)

Mass arrests in Egypt amid LGBT media blackout

The Egyptian government has intensified its campaign against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and their supporters, arresting dozens of people in less than two weeks, Human Rights Watch said on October 6. A media regulatory body has also banned all “positive” reporting on homosexuality. Since September 22, 2017, when several young people waved rainbow flags at a Cairo concert featuring the Lebanese band Mashrou’ Leila, security forces have been relentless in their bid to track down people suspected of being gay or supporting LGBT rights – most of whom had no involvement with the rainbow flag display. According to one Cairo-based LGBT rights organization, there have been at least 43 arrests under Egypt’s abusive laws that outlaw “debauchery” and “incitement to debauchery.”

Another group monitoring the arrests, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), put the figure as high as 54. “Egypt should immediately halt this vicious crackdown on a vulnerable group simply for waving a flag,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa Director at Human Rights Watch. “Repression will not turn gay people straight – it will only perpetuate fear and abuse.” As of October 4, courts had sentenced at least six people to between one and six years in prison for “debauchery” and “incitement to debauchery.” Others are scheduled to stand trial on October 12 and October 29. An appeal is scheduled for October 11 in the case of the first man arrested, who was sentenced to six years in prison on September 26.

On October 1, Egypt’s Supreme State Security Prosecution ordered two activists, Sarah Hegazy and Ahmed Alaa, to be detained for 15 days pending investigation for allegedly joining a banned group aimed at interfering with the constitution. Hegazy told her lawyers that police officers at al-Sayeda Zeinab Police Station in Cairo allowed fellow detainees to beat and sexually harass her after informing them of the reason for her arrest. Alaa, who confirmed raising the rainbow flag in support of Mashrou’ Leila’s openly gay lead singer, said in a BuzzFeed video before his arrest that he had received death threats. Egypt is a member of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which calls on all member states to protect people from violence on the grounds of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

Rights groups in Egypt said that security forces have subjected at least six of the people detained to forced anal examinations, which often involve a doctor inserting a finger or object into the anus of the accused person and drawing conclusions about their alleged sexual behavior. These exams have no scientific basis and have been denounced by African and international human rights bodies as cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, which can constitute a form of torture. Lebanon and Tunisia have both banned anal exams, following pressure from human rights groups and medical associations, but Egypt still publicly defends them.

In the midst of this latest crackdown, the Supreme Council for Media Regulation – a government body established in 2017 whose head is appointed by the president – issued an order that prohibits the “promotion or dissemination of homosexual slogans.” It adds that “it is forbidden for homosexuals to appear in any media outlet whether written, audio or visual, except when they acknowledge their wrong conduct and repent for it.”

The council, which has the power to fine or suspend media outlets, refers to homosexuality as “a pure, great and eternal evil that must be rooted out.” It calls on the media to “shed light on these dangers, and discuss them in an objective, scientific framework that aims to convey the danger of the problem, not celebrate it.” “There’s no possible objective or scientific reason to throw people in prison simply because of their sexuality,” said Whitson. “Given the mass arrests and climate of fear, truly objective reporting on this issue and giving LGBT people a voice is more important than ever.”

Source: Human Rights Watch (Washington D C)

Southern Africa

EU keen to see Zimbabwe agriculture booming, injects $7m into the sector

The European Union (EU) has injected $7 million towards the revitalization of the country’s agricultural sector whose yields have been declining since the turn of the millennium. Since 2000 when President Robert Mugabe’s administration embarked on the land reform programme which saw the violent seizure of farms from white commercial farmers without compensation, Zimbabwe’s food production has been dwindling.

Mugabe partitioned the seized productive land to former liberation war fighters and close allies most of whom did not have basic farming knowledge. As a result, Zimbabwe, once the bread basket of the region, is now a basket case relying on food aid. To assist in the revival of the once vibrant agriculture sector, the EU on October 2 said it was calling for proposals from organizations involved in projects that aim at promoting sustainable service delivery in the field of research, education and extension for improved contribution to wealth creation and agricultural growth.

“The target groups of this support include the Departments of Research and Specialist Services and of Agriculture Education and Farmer Training, Agritex and Ministry of Youth and Indigenization,” the EU Harare office announced. The EU noted with concern the declining food production saying it wanted to assist Zimbabwe to regain its bread basket status.

“Service provision to the Agriculture Sector has eroded over time and is largely ineffective and inefficient in supporting value chain development and rural development in an agriculture and farming landscape that has significantly changed,” said EU. “It is therefore critical to re-think and re-define relevant, farmer centric and value chain oriented services and to develop a robust framework for their sustainable effective and efficient delivery,” EU said.

Source: NewZimbabwe.com

Zimbabwe Govt proposes $104 million election budget

Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Patrick Chinamasa, is proposing to set aside $104 million for harmonised elections due next year, far less than the $274 million required by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to run the elections. In a draft proposal for the 2018 national budget seen by The Financial Gazette, Chinamasa indicates that just over $100 million will be set aside for the poll.

Although a few of the budget commitments will be taken care of in the current budget, there will still be a huge shortfall next year under the proposed financial plan for next year’s elections. “The 2018 budget will provide resources for the conduct of elections guided by practices and norms obtaining in the region. In this regard, the 2018 national budget should set aside resources amounting to $104 million in support of the 2018 harmonised elections budget,” the proposal said.

In July this year, ZEC chairperson, Justice Rita Makarau, revealed that the commission had submitted a $274 million budget to Treasury. The budget covers the introduction of the biometric voters’ registration, voter education and the running of the harmonised elections. “A consolidated budget requirement has since been submitted to Treasury for funding in the sum of $274 million, and ZEC is confident that Treasury will avail the funding, as it has funded all the past elections and the acquisition of the biometric voter registration (BVR) kits,” Makarau said.

“This is the funding that will enable ZEC to procure all election material necessary and to pay all allowances necessary to ensure not only a successful voter registration exercise, but a free and fair election.” So far, the government has released $15 million for the purchase of 3 000 BVR kits and for a 74-day nationwide voter registration campaign that ZEC said will start later this month.

It is not clear where the balance of the ZEC budget will come from. When President Robert Mugabe’s government appeared to have difficulties paying for the BVR kits, the United Nations Development Programme had offered to fund the acquisition and opened the tendering process, only for government to take the process back, claiming external funding of electoral processes would compromise the country’s sovereignty.

Source: Financial Gazette (Harare)

In Malawi, UN pulls out staff from Mulanje, Phalombe over ‘blood-sucking’ vampire scare

The  United Nations  (UN)  has  withdrawn its workers for their safety from  Mulanje and Phalombe districts in the southern region due to fears of vampires which has inspired mob violence killing at least people since mid-September. “These districts have severely been affected by the ongoing stories of blood sucking and possible existence of vampires,” acting UN Resident Coordinator Florence Rolle said in a statement seen by Nyasa Times. Villagers in the two districts have  been searching  for alleged vampires.

The U.N. Department on Safety and Security (UNDSS) said they are monitoring the situation closely and will work to “ensure all affected U.N. staff are back in the field as soon as possible.” Despite their frequent appearances in popular culture, there is no evidence vampires actually exist. But the widespread belief in witchcraft in Malawi perpetuates paranoia over vampirism. Belief in witchcraft in Malawi—one of the world’s poorest countries—has also led to frequent violence against albinos, a trend Amnesty International recently described as a “human rights crisis.” It is unclear how many UN staff had been relocated as a result of the violence thus far. The report recommended a “temporary suspension of UN activities in the area until the situation is normalized,” adding that the rumors allegedly began in neighboring Mozambique.

Minister of Information and Communications, Nicolas Dausi, and Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism, Henry Mussa,  described the attacks as ‘mythical’ calling for concerted effort to deal with the situation. The two ministers also appealed to donors not to rush to withdraw their workers in affected areas saying the situation is under control. Dausi particularly sent a message to development partners that they should learn to inform government before writing their governments about the situation in the country. “We are trying all we can to ensure the ituation is normalised,” said Dausi on Capital Radio on October 9. “Malawi government will make sure it protects and provide safety and security to every person there [Mulanje and Phalombe],” he added.

Government say the way the issue is being portrayed may affect tourism which contributes significantly to the economy.

Source: Nyasa Times

East Africa

9 dead, more at risk as drought ravages Somalia

A severe drought has claimed the lives of at least nine people in Somalia’s Galkayo District, media reported. The state broadcaster, Mogadishu Radio, quoted Galkayo Mayor Hersi Yusuf Bare giving the statistics while warning that the situation could get worse. “The destitute people I met at Harhaar pastoral land are deeply susceptible to the effects of the famine generated by the severe drought,” said Mr Bare. “So far, nine people have died in the areas visited, a sign that many more were vulnerable,” he added.

The mayor said the severe weather conditions had displaced thousands from Galkayo, which lies some 750km north of the capital Mogadishu. He stressed that many nomadic people had been forced to migrate as the drought continued to decimate most of their livestock. The generally insufficient rains in the southern and central Somalia have severely diminished the local food supplies.

UN agency OCHA on August 31 stated that malnutrition had reached emergency levels in a number of locations in southern and central Somalia. “Malnutrition, one of the leading indicators of the crisis, has reached emergency levels in a number of locations in southern and central Somalia, primarily, though not exclusively among displaced populations,” OCHA was quoted saying in ReliefWeb . “Overall, some 388,000 acutely malnourished children are in need of critical nutrition support, including life-saving treatment for more than 87,000 severely malnourished children.”

Source: The East African

In Kenya, 5 Shabaab terrorists killed in KDF raid

Five Al-Shabaab terrorists were killed in a military operation in Boni Forest, Lamu County on October 9. Six AK-47 assault rifles, 321 rounds of ammunition, three grenades and explosives were confiscated after the onslaught by Kenya Defence Forces at Bodhei. KDF spokesman David Obonyo said other terrorists escaped with injuries. “KDF appeals to the local population to report any suspicious individuals with injuries and seeking medical attention within the area,” Mr Obonyo said in a statement.

He added that: “KDF assures the public that tracking of the terrorists will continue until the area is free from all security threats posed by this group.” The KDF spokesman said that soldiers who had been tracking the terrorists laid an ambush at Bodhei. The terrorists killed were part of a group that has been terrorizing residents. The group carjacked, in broad daylight, Public Works Principal Secretary Mariam El Maawy at Milihoi in Lamu before she was rescued by the military and later died of her injuries at a South African hospital.

The soldiers are part of Operation Linda Boni, a multi-agency security force in the forest. It was launched on September 2015 to flush out Jayshi Ayman, a local group of Somalia-based Al-Shabaab. The Kenyan group has aliases including Jeysh Ayman Majmo Ayman and Jeshi la Ayman. Its founder is Abdifatah Abubakar Abdi aka Musa Muhajir, a Kenyan from Mombasa who was a known commander of Al-Shabaab. Initially, his fighters were drawn from coastal communities and a few from north eastern region but the group now includes upcountry communities. That changed and militants in the group included Europeans and Kenyans from upcountry communities.

Source: Daily Nation

Raila Odinga quits repeat presidential election in Kenya

National Super Alliance flag-bearer Raila Odinga has withdrawn from the October 26 repeat presidential election. Mr Odinga on October 10 announced that his running mate Kalonzo Musyoka will also not take part in the repeat election. “After deliberating on our position in respect of the upcoming election, considering the interests of the people of Kenya, the region and the world at large, we believe that all will be best served by Nasa vacating its presidential candidature in the election scheduled for 26 October 2017,” said Mr Odinga.

Mr Odinga said Nasa has been calling for a free and fair election held in conformity with the Constitution. “We have come to the conclusion that there is no intention from IEBC to make sure that the irregularities and illegalities witnessed before do not happen again,” he said. He accused the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) of “stonewalling” deliberations to have a credible repeat elections. “We have come to the conclusion that there is no intention on the part of the IEBC to undertake any changes to its operations and personnel to ensure that the “illegalities and irregularities” that led to the invalidation of the 8th August, 2008 do not happen again.

“All indications are that the election scheduled for 26 October will be worse than the previous one,” he said. He took a swipe at President Uhuru Kenyatta-led Jubilee Party for pushing for election laws changes saying the move shows that it had no intention of competition on a level playing field. “The only election Jubilee administration is interested in is one that it must win, even unlawfully,” he said. He accused President Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto of boasting of having majority in the National Assembly and Senate, saying the two leaders “intend to overthrow our new constitutional order and re-install the old order.”

Source: Daily Nation         

Ethiopia devalues currency, raises interest rates

In the midst of a Forex currency crisis, the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) has devalued Birr by 15pc and raised the interest rate by two percentage points to seven percent. The devaluation pegs the Ethiopian Birr at 26.91 to the dollar, up from 23.40 Br on the official market. It will be effective from October 11, 2017. The Central Bank justifies the move as an effort to control the inflationary pressure and prop up export earnings. The export proceeds have been stagnant at around three billion dollars for the past three years, whereas inflationary pressure has been in the double-digits for the past two months, having reached 10.8pc in September 2017.

Yohannes Ayalew (PhD), vice governor and chief economist at the Central Bank, announced the adjustment on October 10 in a press conference where only the state media was invited to attend. Seven years ago, the government had made a 17pc devaluation resulting in inflation that had reached as high as 40pc. “Since investment return is high in Ethiopia, the devaluation won’t cause an inflationary pressure and adversely affect import,” said Yohannes. For more than half a year, the official exchange rate stood at around 23 Br to the dollar, while black-market traders sold a dollar for nearly 29 Br.

The current devaluation surfaced almost 11 months after the World Bank (WB), in its fifth economic update, suggested the government devalue the currency to raise the country’s competitiveness in the global arena. The recommendation, however, was rejected at the time by Yohannes, although the real effective exchange rate (REER) has appreciated in cumulative terms by 84pc since the nominal devaluation in October 2010.

Source: Addis Fortune (Addis Ababa)

West Africa

Nigeria Senator accuses police chief of corruption, sexual misconduct

The feud between the Inspector General of Police and a senator, Isa Misau, took a new turn on October 4 as the lawmaker accused the police chief of corruption, abuse of office and sexual affairs with female police officers. Mr. Misau while speaking at the floor of the Senate alleged that Mr. Idris recently impregnated two female police officers and arranged for a secret wedding with one in Kaduna.

Mr. Misau also accused Mr. Idris of awarding special promotions to female officers and ‘his boys’ at the expense of merit. He said: “The IG is openly having two relationships with policewomen who he gave special promotions. One of them is Amina and one of them is DSP Esther which the IG on 15th of last month got married to that woman DSP. Under police act and regulation, you cannot marry a serving woman police unless that woman retires.

“He quickly did a secret wedding in Kaduna because the lady is four months pregnant. I am saying this because of the institution – that institution I am supposed to be a stakeholder in that institution. It is the institution that brought me here which I’m proud of. “There are serving police officers who now demoralized because of the activities of the office of the IGP. Mr. President, even when it comes to appointment, the IG decided to have his own boys who are just assistant commissioner of police, he will give them special promotion. “He will give them deputy commissioner of police, they won’t spend three months or six months he will just give them acting commissioners of police,” he added.

Mr. Misau alleged that the IGP is using his office to undermine the power and function of other high ranking officers. “The IGP has decided that all posting of mobile combatants be done in his office meanwhile there is Commissioner of Police in charge of mobile force and that of the Special Protection Unit. All postings which is supposed to be done by these commissioners are done in the IGP’s office. “Under the police act and regulations, every investigations into the force is supposed to be done under the office of the DIG Investigations and Intelligence but now, the IGP has created so many units under him putting junior police officers as heads thereby undermining the statutory office of the DIGs.”

A furious Mr. Misau also alleged that the IGP diverted funds meant to purchase eight armoured carriers. “Mr. President, there is illegal diversion of funds by the IGP. Under the 2016 appropriation act, there is the provision where the IGP is supposed to purchase armoured carriers. Instead of purchasing the 8 armoured patrol carriers to help the President in fighting insurgency in the North East, he diverted the fund to something else.”

The Police had earlier declared the senator a deserter after he first raised allegations of corruption in the police hierarchy. Mr. Misau, a former police officer, however said he retired following due process, a fact confirmed by the Police Service Commission. Following the senator’s allegations, the Senate set up an eight-member ad-hoc committee to investigate the allegations. The senate also mandated its Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions to investigate police allegations against Mr. Misau, and present its findings to the Senate.

Source: Premium Times

Buhari keeps mum as N9 trillion contract scandal rocks NNPC

President Muhammadu Buhari is yet to clear the air about the grievous allegations of abuse of contract process to the tune of N9 trillion naira at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, more than 24 hours after leakage of an internal memo which detailed the allegation. Presidential spokespersons, Femi Adesina and Garba Shehu, did not pick or return calls, or respond to text messages on the matter despite concerns expressed by Nigerians and activists.

Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, detailed the questionable deals when he alerted the president to the activities of the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Maikanti Baru. In the August 30 correspondence, Kachikwu said Mr. Baru circumvented extant procurement regulations in awarding a series of contracts up to $25 billion –or N9 trillion at prevailing exchange rate of N360 to a dollar– warning of grave consequences the decisions could wreak if allowed to stand.

The letter appeared on the Internet around noon of October 3, but no one has claimed credits for its leakage. Kachikwu gave a breakdown of the contracts said to have been awarded without recourse to the Ministry of Petroleum or the management board of the NNPC; including $10 billion crude term contracts; $5 billion direct sales direct purchase (DSDP) contracts and $3 billion AKK pipeline contract. He also said a $3 billion was awarded as a contract for various financing allocation funding contract and another $3-4 billion NPDC production service contracts.

The crude term is the annual contract which the Nigerian government enters with firms willing to do lift crude oil in the country through competitive bidding. About 39 companies won the contract for the 2017-2018 bids, out of 224 bids submitted, according to the NNPC. The winners included 18 Nigerian companies, 11 international traders, five foreign refineries, three national oil companies (NOCs) and two NNPC subsidiaries. All the contracts are for 32,000 barrels per day except Duke Oil Ltd, an oil trading arm of the NNPC, which secured 90,000 barrels per day. The Senate on October 4, however, resolved to investigate the allocation to Duke Oil, after a senator alleged it was fraudulently done.

The AKK contract pipelines contract was awarded by Mr. Baru for the installation of the new Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano gas pipelines. Estimates for the contract ranged from $2.3-2.7 billion. The NNPC announced in May that a Chinese firm won the contract to complete 80 per cent of the project on public-private partnership basis. Mr. Baru was also reported to have confirmed receipt of $250 million from Chinese banks for the take-off of the project. Some Nigerian senators raised concerns about the contract shortly after it was awarded, but the Senate resolved not to take action until there is enough evidence of wrongdoing.

The Direct-Sale-Direct-Purchase was adopted by the Buhari administration last year to replace the crude oil swap initiative and the offshore processing arrangement. The policy, which was designed by Mr. Kachikwu when he was still the GMD of NNPC, was aimed at entrenching transparency in the crude oil for product transaction by the NNPC. Under the crude oil swap initiative, crude oil was exchanged for petroleum products through third-party traders at a pre-determined yield pattern. Mr. Kachikwu said the DSDP option eliminates all the cost elements of middlemen and gives the NNPC the latitude to take control of sale and purchase of the crude oil transaction with its partners.

The Nigerian Petroleum Development Company is a subsidiary of the NNPC that majors in the production of crude oil. The firm is responsible for the control of oil wells owned and managed by the NNPC. The production service contracts are contracts awarded for production of crude oil from oil fields run by the NPDC. The NPDC, due to its operational and capacity deficiencies, regularly enters production contracts with other oil companies — especially oil majors like Agip and Shell– to lift crude based on quantities determined in their contract. The minister said Mr. Baru shunned procedural requirements which stipulated that any contract award over $20 million must be reviewed and approved by the NNPC board to be valid.

Source: Premium Times

Women lead queues at polling centres in Nimba county ahead of opening of polls in Liberia

With few hours to go before Liberia’s 2017 presidential and legislative elections, unorthodox long queues have started forming at various polling centers in Ganta, Nimba County as early as 5:00 AM. The queues are being formed mainly by women voters. They are hoping to be among the first to cast their vote. From first-time women voters to those bent with age, thousands descended upon polling centers long before dawn to cast their ballots. “I really hope for a change of leadership, I really hope for a change in the way we do politics. I want corruption out of the country”, said a woman only identified as Mary, 42, at a Ganta polling station.

On the night of October 9, the women used various objects to form queues ahead of the opening of polls at 8:00am on Tuesday, October 10, 2017, as some showed up at their respective polling centers to keep vigil in a queue while others used stones, cement blocks, among other, items to secure spots in the queue. A little over 2 million eligible voters are expected to cast their vote in the October 10 general elections, which will elect the next president of Liberia and 73 new members of representatives.

The presidential election is being contested by 20 candidates. From the Gbatu Peace Hut and Liberty Christian Institute polling centers in electoral district one, our reporters said scores of electorate started queuing on the night of October 9 just about six hours to the opening of the polls. Our reporters also said some were keeping vigil in a queue, others came to the polling centers with various objects and items to form queues after which they left to their homes to catch some sleep and to return dawn on October 10. The situation, according to reports from our correspondents across the country, are no different in most polling centers.

Source: FPA (Front Page Africa)

Monkey pox spreads to Lagos, Rivers, five other states in Nigeria

Following the outbreak of the monkey pox virus in Bayelsa State recently, other suspected cases have been reported in six more states in the country, bringing the total number of suspected cases so far to 31. The states that have reported cases of the virus are Bayelsa, Rivers, Ekiti, Akwa Ibom, Lagos, Ogun and Cross River. Making this known on October 9, the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said samples had been collected from each of the suspected cases for laboratory confirmation and results were still being awaited.

According to the centre’s chief executive officer, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, no deaths had been recorded as a result of the virus, adding that it remained unlikely that many of the suspected cases were actually monkey pox. “All the suspected cases are currently receiving appropriate medical care and the patients are all improving clinically in their various states. “The Federal Ministry of Health, through the NCDC, is supporting the affected states to ensure the outbreak is brought under control and to limit further spread.

“NCDC has activated an Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) to coordinate the outbreak’s investigation and response across the affected states. “The EOC is currently supporting state ministries of health in their response to the outbreak through active case finding, epidemiological investigation and contact tracing. “Measures have been put in place to ensure effective sample collection and testing to enable laboratory confirmation. “Risk communication activities have been heightened to advise the public on preventive measures. All 36 states and the FCT have been notified for preparedness,” he said.

Ihekweazu warned that the monkey pox virus was a rare viral zoonotic disease with symptoms in humans similar to those seen in small pox patients, but much less severe and with a low fatality rate. He said transmission could be via contact with infected animals, humans, or contaminated materials. “Animal-to-human transmission occurs through bites or a scratch from animals and bush meat preparation. “It can also be transmitted from one person to another. Human-to-human transmission occurs through respiratory droplets, contact with infected persons or contaminated materials. “Control measures include isolation of suspected or confirmed cases, strict adherence to universal precautions, especially frequent hand washing with soap and water, and use of personal protective equipment,” he added.

The Lagos State Government on October 9 also confirmed the outbreak of the virus in the state, adding that two suspected cases had been recorded. The state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, disclosed this at a news conference, saying that the two suspected cases were currently being investigated in the state. “Though no confirmed case has been recorded, there is need to sensitise members of the public and provide adequate information on measures for prevention and control of the disease in line with the policy of the state government,” he said. Idris disclosed that the two suspected cases were recorded in a private hospital but did not disclose the name of the hospital. He added that one of the suspects had just arrived Lagos from Bayelsa State and ate bush meat.

Idris said the two suspects were currently being quarantined in their various homes, pending the result of the investigation. The commissioner said in the wake of this outbreak, the state government was reiterating the need for members of the public to observe and maintain high standards of personal and environmental hygiene at all times as part of the precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the disease in the state. He urged members of the public to be vigilant and report any suspected cases of the disease to the nearest public health facility or the Directorate of Disease Control in the state ministry of health.

“Also, health workers are advised to practise universal safety precautions in the management of suspected or confirmed cases, wear appropriate personal protective equipment when attending to cases, wash hands after each contact with a patient or contaminated materials while surveillance systems must be strengthened. “The state government has mobilised the Disease Surveillance Officers in the 57 LGAs and LCDAs in the state and health workers in both public and private health facilities have been placed on high alert,” Idris said.

Idris called on residents of the state to remain calm and go about their businesses without fear, as the government had put in place adequate measures to effectively prevent and control the spread of the infection to Lagos. “In case of any suspected case of monkey pox, the Lagos State Ministry of Health should be notified through the following mobile lines: 08037170614, 09087106072,” he said.

Source: This Day

Liberia provisional elections result has Weah, Boakai in the lead

Liberia’s National Elections Commission (NEC) has unveiled the first provisional results of this week’s presidential elections putting football legend George Manneh Weah and vice President Joseph Boakai in the lead. According to the tally, Weah has a total of 137,606 votes so far representing 37.0528 percent, while Boakai has attained 106,456 votes so far accounting for 28.6651 per cent.

Weah has the lead in Bomi with 44.4 percent, followed by Boakai with 32 percent after 32 polling places reporting. In Bong, from 502 polling places reporting, Boakai is in the lead with 34.0 percent followed by Weah with 29.4 percent. In Gbarpolu, from 26 of 133 polling places reporting, Weah leads with 41.6 percent from 3,075 votes followed by Boakai with 2,768 votes for 41.6 percent. In Grand Bassa, which has 388 polling places, Liberty Party’s Charles Walker Brumskine has 48.4 percent followed by the CDC with 32.5 percent and the UP with 8.3 percent.

In Grand Cape Mount, the home of the UP’s former chairman Varney Sherman, Weah has 46.4 percent to Boakai’s 37.5 percent. In Grand Gedeh, CDC has 76.1 percent to UP’s 12.0 percent. In Grand Kru, Weah has 58.2 percent to UP’s 10.8 percent. In Lofa, Boakai has a commanding lead with 27.614 votes for 78.1 percent, followed by Charles Walker Brumskine of the Liberty Party with 8.8 percent of the votes and CDC with 5.8 percent. In Margibi County, the home of Boakai’s vice standard bearer Emmanuel Nuquay, Weah leads with 42.8 percent followed by Boakai with 34.6 percent, Alexander Cummings with 7.2 percent and Charles Walker Brumskine with 6.8 percent.

The dismal results in Margibi for the UP come at a blow for Emmanuel Nuquay, Mr. Boakai’s running mate. The current Speaker of the lower house of the national legislature was picked in a bid to cement Boakai’s hold of the Kpelleh belt. The ruling Party is trailing Weah’s CDC by 3,000 votes from 60 per cent of tallied votes so far. Many are pointing to the infighting in the county’s legislative race for the showing.

Political observers say, Speaker Nuquay’s long-standing feud with electoral District Four lawmaker Ben Fofana coupled with Nuquay’s breakup with influential youth and successor, Clarence Gahr was key to his downfall. Though Fofana contested on the candidate of Unity Party, he reportedly slowed down in supporting the Boakai-Nuquay because according to him, Nuquay was still supporting his candidate Francis Cooper.

Fofana leads in his district by a distant margin but the Unity Party fared poorly in district four and other parts of Margibi. All of the candidates NUQUAY supported in the county lost. FrontPageAfrica has gathered that those who won are planning to fight Nuquay. In District Five, Unity Party lost in Nuquay’s district five. Already, the agitations were high in the district after Gahr, who just won the seat vacated by Nuquay, was removed. Not many people welcomed Nuquay’s decision to field his protégé Alexander Charlie, Nuquay’s anointed candidate in the district to replace him was responsible for the Unity Party Dismal performance in Bong County. Nuquay established many frontlines for himself and it is left to see how he will make fence to secure his future.

In Montserrado County, which has 1,790 polling places, with 262 reporting, Weah leads with 50.4 percent of the votes followed by Boakai with 26.6 percent, Cummings with 9.6 percent and Brumskine with 7.2 percent. In Maryland, Weah has 3,892 votes for 36.2 percent followed by Cummings with 3,381 votes for 35.8 percent and Boakai with 1,612 votes for 15.0 percent. In NIMBA, Boakai, Senator Prince Y. Johnson, as expected has a commanding lead with 13,786 votes for 52.6 percent followed by Boakai with 4,744 for 18.1 percent.

In Rivercess, Brumskine has 37.3 percent followed by Weak with 36.1 percent. In River Gee, Yeah has so far, 12,883 votes for 60.7 percent followed by Boakai with 3,369 votes for 15.9 percent. In Sinoe, Weah has so far 9,391 votes for 69.3 percent followed by Boakai with 1,771 votes for 13.1 percent.

Source: Front Page Africa

 This monitor is prepared by Harish Venugopalan, Research Assistant, Observer Research Foundation, Delhi

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