LATEST SUB-SAHARAN AFRICAN NEWS, COMMENT AND OPINION FROM THE AFRICA CENTRE, 8/6/2013

Dear readers,

Warmest greetings from Barnet, north London. Below please find the latest sub-Saharan African news, comment and opinion, taken by the Africa Centre from media websites right across the continent and down to the Cape.

We have had some requests for a more uniform formatting than previously presented, when we reproduced that in which the stories and articles appeared. So for your ease of reading and also should you wish to extract the stories or articles yourselves, we have formatted today’s blog mostly apart from the Contents and headlines in standard printers Times Roman 14 point.

We at the Africa Centre are always open to suggestions or comments, however trenchant, as to how we might best improve this service; it is yours, an inclusive one, and as previously related, our ultimate goal is a sub-Saharan nexus of information which will further the democratic aim of freedom of expression, and the betterment generally of sub-Saharan Africans.

 

News Contents:

 

Nigeria: Emergency… Niger hosts fleeing Nigerians

Zimbabwe: U.S. urges Zimbabwe to allow international monitors; ‘SADC cannot stop polls’ – Zanu PF; Tsvangirai meets white farmers privately

South Africa: Marikana inquiry: I saw cops being killed

Ghana: 65 CHINESE IN THE COOLER …Helicopter Surveillance Expose Massive Illegal Mining Operations; Ghana to deport over 150 Chinese for illegal mining

Sudan: Sudan police tear-gas anti-govt protest: witnesses

Nigeria: Explosive diffused in Kaduna

Nigeria: Drug: NDLEA reads riot act to airlines; Three arrested with hard drugs at Lagos Airport

Uganda: Tighten measures on errant soldiers, UPDF told

Kenya: Nyeri Mau Mau cry foul in pay deal

Sierra Leone: Mendes now lead Sierra Leone Army… As allegations of tribalism in military prove untrue

Sierra Leone: In Sierra Leone, Sylvia Blyden Warns Journalists

Ghana: Chiefs, elders of Nyankpala given ultimatum to reintegrate banished ‘witch’

Comment and Opinion Contents:

Ghana: Media expert, human rights lawyer dismiss GJA’s anti-gay moral crusade

Rwanda: The untold story of Buhanga, the coronation ground

Emergency… Niger hosts fleeing Nigerians

Posted by: New York Times on June 7, 2013

For the soldiers, the young men’s long, flowing robes — the traditional garb of Muslim West Africa — were enough to establish guilt, the refugees said.

“As soon as they see you with clothing like this, they shoot,” said Abukar Ari, a Koranic teacher in a long robe who said he had fled across the border from Nigeria two weeks before. “They don’t ask any questions. I’ve seen them shoot people. Yes, I’ve seen them shoot.”

Other refugees in the registration lines of thousands who had fled Nigeria’s combat zone echoed these assertions, saying civilians were being killed there by soldiers unconcerned with the distinction between militants and innocents. Friends and neighbors were being shot, they said; young men were being rounded up at night; and citizens with the vertical ethnic scarring of the Kanuri, a group dominant in the Islamist militant group Boko Haram, were being taken away.

“They are killing people without asking who they are,” said Laminou Lawan, a student who said he had fled here 10 days before. “When they see young men in traditional robes, they shoot them on the spot. They catch many of the others and take them away, and we don’t hear from them again.”

Laminou Lawan, a student, said Nigerian soldiers had been attacking young men just because they wore traditional robes.

Nearly three weeks ago, Nigeria launched what it depicted as an all-out land and air campaign to crush the Boko Haram insurgency, using thousands of troops, vehicles and even fighter jets and helicopter gunships just over the border from here, where Nigerian officials say the insurgents have their stronghold.

The Nigerian president, Goodluck Jonathan, suggesting that he was fed up with the four-year uprising by Boko Haram, announced “extraordinary measures” in his country’s north and placed a large part of it under a state of emergency, ordering troops to “take all necessary action” to end an insurgency that he said was now threatening the country’s foundations.

Nigeria’s foreign partners, including the United States, which considers the country an important ally in the fight against Islamist militancy, have watched warily, with Secretary of State John Kerry pointedly warning the Nigerian military about what he called “credible allegations” that Nigerian forces had committed “gross human rights violations” in the period before the offensive began.

Last month, more than 200 people were killed in what local officials, residents and human rights groups say was a sweeping massacre by Nigerian forces in the nearby village of Baga, in northern Nigeria. Analysts have long questioned whether Nigeria’s heavy-handed counterinsurgency strategy, which has resulted in numerous civilian deaths since 2009, may be having the opposite effect of the one intended, increasing anger at the Nigerian state and driving new recruits to the militants.

Thousands of refugees have crossed into Niger, many saying their government’s fight against Islamists makes no distinction between militants and civilians.

But Mr. Kerry has not specifically raised the question of human rights abuses during the latest offensive, and for a good reason: it is difficult to get a clear idea of what is happening. Since its start, much of northern Nigeria has been under a communications blackout, as cellphone service has been cut, physical access has been limited and information restricted to a series of military communiqués. They have announced the “capture and destruction” of Boko Haram camps, the deaths of “high-profile” Boko Haram members and other “terrorists,” the “disarray” of militants, the discovery and destruction of weapons caches, and the “securing” of various towns and settlements in the north from Boko Haram.

Nigerian military spokesmen have been at pains to deny any misconduct against civilians during the campaign, trying to reassure the country’s allies by announcing that they were pleased soldiers were sticking to what they called “the rules of engagement.” A spokesman did not respond Friday to a request for comment on the refugees’ accounts.

But some of the refugees who have massed here in this remote border village at the far eastern edge of Niger — there are at least 5,000 of them, and possibly as many as 10,000 in the area, officials say — described the fighting in terms that varied widely from the military communiqués.

Their testimony is among the first independent accounts of the Nigerian military’s offensive, and they spoke of indiscriminate bombing and shooting, unexplained civilian deaths, nighttime roundups of young men by security forces. All spoke of a climate of terror that had pushed them, in the thousands, to flee for miles through the harsh and baking semidesert, sometimes on foot, to Niger. A few blamed Boko Haram — a shadowy, rarely glimpsed presence for most residents — for the violence. But the overwhelming majority blamed the military, saying they had fled their country because of it.

They had come from multiple villages in Nigeria to one of the poorest nations on earth, overwhelming local officials. But at least here, they said, the soldiers of the Republic of Niger are drowsing under a giant tree at the border, not pointing their guns at the civilians who continue to cross it.

“The military just opens fire and kills people, and throws bombs and kills people, for no reason,” said Abubakar Ali, a shoe salesman waiting in one of the registration lines. “That is why you see these people here,” he said, pointing out at the crowd. “That is what is happening now in Nigeria.”

Others in the crowd said that friends and neighbors had been shot during the offensive. They could not always identify the source of the shooting, but they could easily identify the victims.

“I’ve seen the wounded; these are people I know,” said Muhammad Yacoubu, a farmer.

“The military are looking for Boko Haram, but if they don’t find them, they take revenge,” said Moustapha Ali, a shopkeeper.

Ousmane Boukari, a herdsman, said, “They bombed on Saturday, and they missed their targets; they’re just firing at random, they don’t even know where the Boko Haram are.”

Modu Goni, another refugee, said: “At night you hear the shooting, and in the morning you find the bodies, people from the village. When you see your friends dead, it’s scary.”

Others spoke of seizures of young men by security forces, a pattern already established in the insurgents’ stronghold city of Maiduguri, according to residents there.

“The soldiers took the young men away, at least 10 of them, at night; it’s at night that they make their raids,” said Sherrif Alhadji Abdu, another refugee. “They band their eyes, and take them away. They took away my friends.”

At the edge of this village, some of the refugees have erected crude reed shelters in the sand, or simply posted sticks in the ground and placed rags over them. Abou Boukar, a farmer, had just finished building a reed hut. Anything was better than staying in Nigeria, he said. Boko Haram had built a camp near his village. The next day, he saw a Nigerian air force plane flying overhead.

“This doesn’t look good,” he recalled saying to himself. And then he fled to Niger. From The Nation/New York Times.

 

 

U.S. urges Zimbabwe to allow international monitors

 

Reuters

WASHINGTON – The United States on Friday urged Zimbabwe to allow outside observers led by a regional consortium of African nations to monitor elections to ensure the vote is peaceful and credible.

 

The 15-member Southern African Development Community, which includes South Africa, has called a summit this weekend to help Zimbabwe raise an estimated $132 million needed for an election.

The regional group, which includes South Africa, wants to avoid a rerun of a disputed poll five years ago, which sparked violence and prompted a flood of refugees into neighbouring countries.

Zimbabwe’s constitutional court told President Robert Mugabe on May 31 to hold elections before the end of July, in a ruling on an application by a Zimbabwean citizen demanding that an election date be set before the current parliament expires next month.

Mugabe, 86, Africa’s oldest head of state, has clung to power since independence from Britain in 1980 and will face his long-time rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, in an election.

“The United States sincerely hopes Zimbabwe will hold peaceful, credible presidential and parliamentary elections this year,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told a daily briefing.

“We believe the credibility of these elections would be enhanced if a broad range of international monitors led by the Southern African Development Community were accredited to observe,” Psaki said, adding: “This would help to verify that the elections are truly representative of the will of the Zimbabwean people.”

Although there is no formal opinion poll, surveys in the last year by Freedom House, a U.S. political think tank, and African research group Afro-Barometer have given Mugabe a narrow lead over Tsvangirai.

The country’s finance minister said on May 28 uncertainty over the election was pushing the country’s fragile economy closer to recession. A repeat of the 2008 election violence could end Zimbabwe’s economic recovery.

On Friday, the International Monetary Fund said it was willing to negotiate an economic monitoring program with Zimbabwe, the first step in a process that could see the country fully restore relations with the global lender and donors. From the Zimbabwe Mail/Reuters.

 

‘SADC cannot stop polls’ – Zanu PF

HARARE – President Mugabe’s party Zanu PF says the postponement of the special summit on Zimbabwe which was set for Maputo, Mozambique will not stop the country from preparing for the harmonised elections.

Regional mediators are consulting to set a date for the summit, after one scheduled for Sunday was abruptly called off on Thursday, she told reporters in Pretoria.

SADC Executive Secretary Tomaz Salamao this Wednesday confirmed that the special summit on Zimbabwe had been postponed indefinitely.

A new date has not been set for a regional summit to assess Zimbabwe’s readiness for general elections, South Africa’s International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said on Friday.

Zanu PF’s Secretary for Information and Publicity, Rugare Gumbo complained that though SADC is yet to give reasons for the indefinite postponement of the special summit that had been pencilled for Maputo this weekend, the development has no bearing on Zimbabwe’s preparations for elections in compliance with the Constitutional Court hearing.

Turning to other political leaders who have set conditions for the holding of elections, Gumbo said they must read between the lines that SADC understands that elections are overdue in Zimbabwe and will not continue to entertain cheap politicking meant to delay the polls.

Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said: “The date for such an extra-ordinary summit always gets decided upon by the availability and programmes of heads of state, creating space for this meeting. It’s not an ordinary, scheduled meeting.”

President Jacob Zuma – who has led SADC’s efforts to facilitate negotiations between President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party and the MDC formations was expected to present his latest report to the meeting.

Media reports on Friday suggested that Sunday’s meeting was called off because President Robert Mugabe informed SADC he would not be available for the summit.

The summit was expected to discuss a range of issues, including the cash-strapped n government’s efforts to raise a US$132m election budget.

Last Friday the Constitutional Court ruled that Mugabe should organise elections no later than July 31.

The polls aim to end an uneasy SADC-brokered unity government between Mugabe and his rival, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, which was formed in 2009 after deadly disputed elections. From the Zimbabwe Mail.

 

Tsvangirai meets white farmers privately

 

Saturday, 08 June 2013 00:00
Bulawayo bureau
MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday met a group of mainly white farmers in a closed door

meeting in Bulawayo, in what observers said was a mission to reassure them that they will get their farms back should he win the forthcoming harmonised elections.

Mr Tsvangirai recently vowed to review Zanu-PF’s indigenisation and economic empowerment drives and said most local farmers who benefited from the highly successful land reform programme would be brought back to urban centres to work in the industries.

More than 300 000 families benefited from the redistribution of land that was previously held by about 6 000 white farmers. In yesterday’s meeting, at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair Farmers’ Hall, burly aides blocked journalists from entering the hall.

A number of black farmers who turned up late for the meeting were refused entry by the aides, while two white farmers who also came late, strolled in without being questioned.

A party official who spoke on condition of anonymity said Mr Tsvangirai had been nervous about holding the meeting and had to be convinced by his advisors to go ahead with it.

“He said he did not want to be photographed with white farmers again because it could lose him votes. He wanted to have the meeting cancelled or held informally, but his advisors said it would be a blunder if he appeared to snub the farmers,” said the official.

White farmers and Western countries are among the major bank-rollers of the MDC-T as they fight to effect regime change in the country.

“In the meeting, Mr Tsvangirai was not very specific about what he wanted but hinted that he would return farms that were seized in the land reform,” said the official.

After the meeting, the farmers were asked to remain seated as Mr Tsvangirai and his bodyguards left the venue first.

“That was done deliberately so that journalists would not get shots of the Prime Minister with the white farmers. Mr Tsvangirai has often said pictures of white farmers giving him bundles of cash, which were widely circulated in 2000, cost him victory. He said the pictures alienated him from thousands of voters who benefited from the land redistribution exercise,” said another official.

The official said journalists were excluded from yesterday’s meeting because they covered a session in which he was found wanting when Bulawayo residents grilled him about his party’s proposals to reverse the de-industrialisation of the city.

Mr Tsvangirai also held private meetings with religious leaders at the Brethren-In-Christ Church along Fort Street and Masotsha Avenue, and the National Railways of Zimbabwe unions.

He was said to be on a fire-fighting mission in Bulawayo where his MDC-T party is in turmoil.
No comment could be obtained from Mr Tsvangirai’s spokesperson, Mr Luke Tamborinyoka as he was not reachable on his mobile phone.

However, on Thursday, Mr Tsvangirai refuted reports that his visit to Bulawayo was to try and quell factionalism that has rocked his party in the province.

In Bulawayo Central, racism has threatened to split the MDC-T apart, with some members saying they did not want to be represented by a white person in Parliament and were therefore against the candidature of Ms Nikki Brown in the constituency.

Primary elections held in the city also exposed deep seated factionalism, with observers saying they turned out to be a contest between factions led by the party’s provincial chairperson Mr Gorden Moyo and Mzilikazi Senator, Mr Matson Hlalo.

Members in Makokoba have threatened a protest vote in the elections, saying Mr Moyo had been imposed on a constituency that, according to the party’s policies, was reserved for women candidates.

The party announced that constituencies that were held by women MPs would be contested among women and Makokoba was represented in the House of Assembly by Ms Thokozani Khupe. From The Herald.

 

Marikana inquiry: I saw cops being killed

 

07 JUN 2013 13:09 SAPA

 

The cop in charge of the Marikana operation has described to the Farlam commission how he saw police officers being hacked to death during the unrest.

 

Giving evidence on Friday, North West deputy provincial commissioner Major General William Mpembe said the two officers, Tsietsi Monene and Sello Lepaku, were killed as police escorted striking mineworkers on August 13.

“I heard [tear gas] shooting. I then realised that strikers had turned against police. It wasn’t a very good scene,” he said. “I saw warrant officer Monene being chopped and killed in front of me … I saw how officer Lepaku was killed.”

Several of the officers’ family members were upset by Mpembe’s testimony and left the auditorium in Centurion.

“Captain Baloyi defended himself. At the same time, the police came to his rescue and he was taken to hospital,” said Mpembe.

The strikers robbed the dead officers of their pistols, a shotgun and rifle.

Mpembe said he then decided police should withdraw and return to the joint operations centre.

He later identified the officer who had fired the tear gas when the strikers turned on police. “He said he had heard an order [to fire], but he couldn’t tell me who gave the order,” said Mpembe.

“The emotions were extremely high, but as a senior officer, I tried to cool down the members,” he added.

Blamed for deaths
Previous witnesses testified that police officials had issued threats to Mpembe, blaming him for the deaths of the two officers.

Mpembe said he was approached by Lieutenant colonel Salmon Vermaak, who told him that his life was in danger as other officers blamed him for the deaths of their colleagues.

They claimed to have been against Mpembe’s instruction to go after the armed strikers.

Mpembe, who is the deputy provincial commissioner responsible for operational matters, said he told Vermaak he would not withdraw from the operation until he had handed over to Major General Ganasen Naidoo.

The commission heard the officers were killed just several hours after Mpembe’s arrival at Marikana. He said he had been on leave and was called to Marikana by provincial police commissioner Luzuko Mbombo that morning.

National police commissioner Riah Phiyega then appointed him overall commander of the operation.

Mpembe told the commission that since completing his basic police training in 1996, he had received extensive training in crowd management.

Probe continues
Vuyani Ngalwana, for the police, is leading Mpembe in delivering his evidence-in-chief.

The commission, chaired by retired judge Ian Farlam, is investigating the circumstances that led to the deaths of 44 people during the unrest at Lonmin’s Platinum mine in Marikana last year.

Police shot dead 34 striking mineworkers on August 16. Another 10 people, including two police officers and two security guards, were killed in the preceding week.

Mpembe, led by Vuyani Ngalwana, is delivering his evidence-in-chief before the commission.

President Jacob Zuma has said he would not fire Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa for the Marikana shooting because he viewed it as a mistake, the Farlam commission of inquiry heard on Thursday. – Sapa  From the Mail & Guardian.

 

65 CHINESE IN THE COOLER …Helicopter Surveillance Expose Massive Illegal Mining Operations

By Emmanuel Akli

The Inter-Ministerial Taskforce set up by President John Mahama on May 14, this year, to clamp down on illegal mining activities in the country, has swung into full gear with the arrest and detention of illegal miners, whose activities are causing severe harm to water bodies and the environment as a whole.

Information reaching The Chronicle from a credible source indicates that with the full support of the National Security, the taskforce has now used a helicopter survey to identify all areas where these illegal mining activities are going on in the country.

The information obtained through the helicopter surveillance, The Chronicle gathered, had been handed over to the police and the military, which have started swooping on these illegal Ghanaian miners and their Chinese counterparts.

The Chronicle was told that a military cum police taskforce was dispatched from Accra on Wednesday, May 29, 2013, to arrest and seize equipment being used by the illegal miners.

The Chronicle can report on authority that the taskforce arrested as many as 65 Chinese illegal miners, whose activities were causing havoc to the environment. A source close to the taskforce told The Chronicle that 29 of the Chinese were arrested at the Dunkwa mining district in the Western Region, whilst the remaining 36 were arrested from various locations in the Ashanti Region. All the 65 Chinese have, since, been transported to Accra, awaiting their repatriation.

A source contacted at the Ghana Immigration Service confirmed the story, and said in line with President Mahama’s directive to deport all foreign illegal miners, they were processing the 65 Chinese who are being detained by the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) for repatriation back to China.

The Chronicle gathered that some of the arrested Chinese were found to using heavy duty equipment and other sophisticated machines, thereby causing substantial damage to the environment.

Some were even using the latest Toyota Land Cruisers to transport fuel from Kumasi, Obuasi and other large towns to the remote villages, where they were operating.

At the inauguration of the Inter-Ministerial Taskforce, which is headed by the Minister of Land and Natural Resources, President John Mahama directed them to seize all equipment used by those illegal miners, who fail to comply with the new directives of obtaining licenses or renewing their licenses.

He also directed them to arrest and prosecute anybody, both Ghanaians and non-Ghanaians, involved in small-scale illegal mining.  He further mandatedthem to deport all non-Ghanaians involved in small-scale mining, and also revoke the licenses of Ghanaians who had sub-leased their concessions to non-Ghanaians against the rules.

The President also tasked the taskforce to revoke the licenses of Ghanaians who had engaged the services of non-Ghanaian miners in the small-scale mining sector, in ways that are contrary to the rules. Municipal and District Chief Executives  (MMDCEs) and their respective District Security Councils (DISECs) were also to be held accountable for any illegal mining activity in their areas of jurisdiction.

“There is no doubt that the introduction of heavy equipment has compounded the destructive nature of small-scale mining. While traditional mining with pick, shovel and panning may have caused harm, such harm was on a small scale.

The question then is, how do these heavy equipment get to the sites? Who imports them? Who sells them? And who transports them to the various sites?” President Mahama asked, and directed the police to confiscate or disable any mechanical equipment, bulldozers, diggers, conveyor belts and water pressuresystems not licensed by the appropriate authorities.
“In constituting this Inter-Ministerial Taskforce on illegal small-scale mining, I am sending a clear signal to the offending individuals and groupings that government will not allow their activities to cause conflict, dislocation, environmental degradation, and unemployment, when, in fact, the sector should benefit our communities and help develop Ghana,” President Mahama added. From the Modern Chronicle.

 

Ghana to deport over 150 Chinese for illegal mining

By AFP

ACCRA (AFP) – More than 150 Chinese citizens arrested in Ghana for illegal mining will be deported next week but will not face criminal charges, an immigration official said Friday.

The 169 arrests have been carried out since June 1 across the west African country and particularly in the central Ashanti region, a major gold-mining hub.

“I believe by the middle of next week we should have repatriated them,” Michael Amoako-Atta, a spokesman at the Ghana Immigration Service, told AFP.

He had earlier said roughly 100 had been detained, but later said the figure had reached 169.

Amoako-Atta said some of the Chinese nationals were to be presented at a magistrates court Friday in the capital Accra, where authorities would seek permission to detain them until they are sent home.

The group is currently being kept in a series of holding cells at an immigration building in Accra. From Modern Ghana/AFP,

Sudan police tear-gas anti-govt protest: witnesses

By AFP

 

KHARTOUM (AFP) – Sudanese police on Friday fired tear gas after about 200 protesters gathered near a mosque which became a focus of Arab Spring-style protests one year ago, witnesses said.

“The people want the fall of the regime,” protesters shouted, according to the witnesses who said demonstrators also denounced high food prices.

Witnesses said the protest occurred after prayers at the mosque linked to an opposition party, Umma, in Khartoum’s twin city of Omdurman.

Demonstrators made the same calls in June and July last year when when scattered anti-regime protests sparked by inflation spread around the country.

They later petered out following a security clampdown.

A separate spurt of anti-government rallies occurred in December when hundreds marched in Khartoum’s streets after the death of four students.

Periodic protests over the past year against the 24-year government of President Omar al-Bashir, which calls itself Islamist, have failed to generate mass following like the Arab Spring revolts against authoritarian rulers in North Africa and the Middle East which began in December 2010. From Modern Ghana/AFP.

Explosive diffused in Kaduna

Posted by: TONY AKOWE, KADUNA on June 7, 2013 in News Update Leave a comment

The Police in Kaduna on Friday diffused  an Improvised Explosive Device ( IED) concealed in a computer bag along the busy Junction Road in the heart of the Kaduna metropolis.

The discovery of the device created anxiety and panic among residents of the area as business premises were hurriedly closed as police cordoned off the area leading to heavy traffic build up.

While residents of the area panicked, other residents of the metropolis went about their normal business unaware of the development.

Spokesman of the Kaduna State Police Command, DSP Aminu Lawan confirmed the incident.

“This afternoon, some vigilant passersby saw a suspicious carton placed at the Junction road and immediately called the police. Our anti-bomb squad were mobilised to the place and they confirmed that the computer carton was concealing an Improvised Explosive Device (IED).

“The road linking the junctions were condoned off and people nearby were evacuated. The bomb was then safely detonated. There was no injury of any kind. The bomb was not near any worship centre, as some people were insinuating. If anything, it was near the Unity Bank.

“We want to thank these vigilante residents who called the police and we urge everyone to report any suspicious object, persons or movements.

“We call on Kaduna residents to go about their business because there is nothing to worry about, ”Lawan stated. From The Nation.

 

POSTED ON SATURDAY, JUNE 8TH, 2013

By Abel Orukpe 

Correspondent, Lagos

Chairman/Chief Executive of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Ahmadu Giade, has called on airlines to take all necessary steps to prevent drug trafficking in the country.

This was made known during an emergency meeting of airline managers at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) with the agency’s leadership.

The agency also disclosed that the United Kingdom authorities have released the Arik crew member that was allegedly found in possession of cigarettes.

She is currently helping NDLEA officers in the ongoing investigation.

However, the crew member reportedly found with 6kg of substance suspected to be cocaine is still being quizzed in London.

Giade warned that any airline found wanting, shall be penalised, pointing out that section 25 of the NDLEA Act outlined the responsibilities of airlines. “It shall be the duty of every commercial carrier to take reasonable precaution to ensure that its means of transport are not used in the commission of offences under this Act. They are to comply with appropriate security measures at points of entry and exit in the Federal Republic of Nigeria and other customs control areas, to prevent unauthorised cargo in its means of transportation”.

The NDLEA commander at the Lagos airport, Mr Hamza Umar, explained that such precautions as contained in the Act include training of personnel to identify suspicious consignment or persons, promotion of integrity of their personnel and submission of cargo manifests in advance.

Others are use of tamper-resistant, individually verifiable seals on containers and reporting to the agency at the earliest opportunity all suspicious circumstances relating to drug trafficking.

The airlines through their representatives pledged their full cooperation with security measures by authorities in preventing drug trafficking.

Since the incident on Monday, security checks on airline officials have been intensified at the nation’s airports as well all entry and exit points.

Meanwhile, Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Mr Joyce Nkemakolam, has said that the regulatory body would not crucify the two Arik Air crew members arrested in London for allegedly being in possession of drugs, before they are found guilty.

Nkemakolam, who spoke with Saturday Independent in a telephone interview in Lagos on Friday, said the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) is still probing the matter, adding that it would be wrong to preempt the outcome of the investigation.

The Acting Director General said the body was still monitoring events as they unfold on the issue, adding that it would be wrong to pass judgment before they are found guilty since they were only alleged to have committed the offence.

According to him, “We will not crucify them before they are found guilty. NDLEA is still investigating. Don’t forget that it is still an allegation. It will be wrong to say they are guilty when investigation is still on.”

On whether the NCAA is in touch with other agencies on the issue, he said the matter falls under the purview of Immigration Service and Customs, assuring that the agency would keep the media informed whenever there are new developments.

Arik Air’s Media Officer, Mr Adebanji Ola, could not be reached for comment but the airline had, on Tuesday, said that it would cooperate with United Kingdom and other agencies in their investigations and that it would not tolerate the use of any of its aircraft or crew as courier of banned items and substances.

NDLEA had received a report indicating that one of the crew members, Temitayo Olubunmi Daramola, was found in possession of 6kg of cocaine while Delita Abibimgbi was found with 60 packets of cigarettes.

Arik Air flight reportedly took off from the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, on Monday, May 20, 2013 to London with a 10-man crew.  From the Daily Independent.

 

Three arrested with hard drugs at Lagos Airport

By Feyi Afisunlu on June 7, 2013

Three persons who allegedly ingested 161 wraps of narcotics, weighing 3.085kg in Lagos were on Thursday arrested at the Muritala International Airport, Ikeja Lagos. The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency,NDLEA has said.

In a statement signed by its spokesman, Mr Ofoyeju Mitchell, the NDLEA said the suspects were apprehended at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos.

“Two of the suspects were importing the drugs into the country, while one was caught attempting to export the drugs to London.

“One of the suspects alleged that a drug baron was after his life for excreting the drugs at the airport toilet in Doha.”

It said that one of the suspects ingested six wraps of cocaine from Brazil, weighing 0.095kg and another ingested 1.175kg of heroin from Pakistan.

It said that the third person, who had dual citizenship of Nigeria and Germany, ingested 100 wraps of cocaine weighing 1.815kg on his way to London.

The statement said one of the suspects, who is an auto parts dealer, claimed he ingested 80 wraps of drugs but excreted them in Doha.

“He was arrested during the inward screening of passengers on Qatar airline flight.

“While on observation, the suspect excreted 6 wraps of powdery substances that tested positive for cocaine weighing 95 grammes,” it added.

“They promised to pay me 2,000 dollars to smuggle the drugs from Brazil to Doha. When I got to Doha, the person who ought to collect the drug from me failed to show up.

“It was for fear of being caught that made me to dispose the drugs at the airport toilet.

“I never knew that six wraps were left in my stomach. Now, I have been arrested and the owners of the drugs are after my life,” the statement quoted the suspect. From the Daily Post.

ICC says it won’t investigate police killings in Tanzania

 

By Julius Bwahama, The Citizen

Posted  Friday, June 7  2013 at  20:47

IN SUMMARY

 

The Head of the Information and Evidence Unit at ICC, Mr M.P. Dillon, wrote to LHRC announcing the decision not to open the case.

 

According to Mr Dillon, the matters raised by the LHRC and evidence available did not meet the threshold for launching local investigations.

 

Dar es Salaam. The International Criminal Court (ICC) has turned down a petition to investigate Tanzania for alleged extra-judicial killings and gross violation of citizen rights.

The court rejected the appeal filed in September last year by the Legal and Human Right Centre (LHRC) asking the Hague-based institution to consider opening an investigation into crimes against humanity and other human rights violations perpetuated by security forces.

The LHRC petition accuses the government of complicity and condoning killings by security forces. It claims at least 237 innocent people have been killed since 2003.

But on Wednesday, the Head of Information and Evidence Unit of the Office of the Prosecutor at ICC, Mr M.P. Dillon, wrote to LHRC announcing the decision not to open the case.

According to Mr Dillon, the matters raised by the LHRC and evidence available did not meet the threshold for launching local investigations.

The claims against Tanzania, he added, did not fall within the court’s jurisdiction as they do not meet the definition of genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes as defined in Articles 6 to 8 of the Rome Statute.

In a letter to Dr Helen Kijo-Bisimba, the LHRC executive director, Mr Dillon writes: “The prosecutor has, therefore, determined that there is not a basis at this time to proceed further.”

“However, the information you have submitted will be maintained in our archives, and the decision not to proceed may be reconsidered in the light of new facts or information.”

The ICC official advised the petitioner to pursue justice with national authorities within Tanzania or raise the same concerns with other appropriate international authorities.

On Thursday, Dr Kijo-Bisimba told The Citizen on Saturday that the ICC stand will not deter their quest to ensure perpetrators of the crimes are brought to book.

“I am not disappointed even though it would have been better for the ICC to consider an investigation,” she said in an exclusive interview at the LHRC offices in Dar es Salaam.

“But at least our aim to highlight in the international stage human right violations in our country has been achieved.”

“We will soldier on. Most foreigners may be thinking everything is well in the country when internally that is not the case.”

The organisation is also awaiting a response to the same petition from the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Extra Judicial Killings and the African Commission on People’s Rights.

The announcement comes amid reports that Tanzania is being considered as a possible location for the ICC to prosecute the case against Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto and Radio Journalist Joshua arap Sang.

Mr Ruto and Mr Sang each face three counts of crimes against humanity that spring from the violence that engulfed Kenya after the 2007 presidential elections.

The charges against the accused were confirmed in January 2012 and the trial is scheduled to start on 10 September, 2013.

Last week, ICC judges asked the office of the prosecutor to consider moving part of the proceedings to either Tanzania or Kenya itself for logistical reasons.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta also faces crimes against humanity charges over the same episode of post-election violence. His trial is set to start in July.

The two Kenyan leaders, who overcame the ICC obstacle to rise to the country’s top political leadership, have lobbied their African colleagues far and wide to intercede on the matter.

They want the hearings moved closer to home, a position that received overwhelming backing during the recent African Union conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda held talks in Dar es Salaam last March with President Jakaya Kikwete but little is known about their discussions.

The visit was telling, however, as it came around the time of the Kenyan lobbying campaign and a few months after the LHRC forwarded its petition.

Several other African countries have also written to The Hague court seeking intervention in human rights violations.

According to Article 53 of the Rome Statute, the ICC must consider whether there is a reasonable basis to believe that crimes within the jurisdiction of the court have been committed before accepting such invitations. The ICC must also consider the gravity of the alleged crimes.

The court must also consider whether national systems are investigating and prosecuting the relevant crimes and whether the interests of justice would be served by an external investigation.

The LHRC petition tracks extrajudicial executions in Tanzania from 2003 to 2012. It says that while the right to life is protected in Article 14 of Tanzania’s constitution, it has been undermined by extra-judicial killings perpetrated mainly by security agencies.

The petition cites torture, murder, brutal evictions, a security clampdown and harassment at opposition party rallies in the list of abuse of people’s rights.

It reports that the killings target mainly political activists, demonstrators, human rights activists, crime suspects and investigative journalists.

The rule of law is heavily undermined, the report adds, when the people lose trust in governance institutions.

The petition further says that the structure and law enforcement mechanism that served the one-party system remain intact. From The Citizen.

Tighten measures on errant soldiers, UPDF told

BY PASCAL KWESIGA

A senior UPDF officer has told commanders of the defense forces to step up control and supervision of armed soldiers to prevent them from escaping with arms from their barracks to commit crimes against civilians.

The outgoing chairman of the General Court Martial, Brig. Fred Tolit observed the need for army commanders to step up control and supervision of all armed soldiers to stop incidents of soldiers sneaking out of their barracks to terrorize innocent civilians.

Tolit made the remarks while addressing leaders and residents in Mpakawero village in Bombo town in Luwero district after sentencing Pte. Patrick Okot Odoch to 90 years for killing ten people, injuring three others, aggravated robbery and failure to protect war materials.

“The control and inspection of guns and those holding them on duty should be improved,” Tolit said.

The army standing orders prohibit soldiers from leaving the barracks in uniforms and with weapons assigned to them. They are also not allowed to get out the barracks without movement orders.

“You have to carry out frequent checks of soldiers under your command to ensure they don’t sneak out and if they do so you should be able to get hold of them before they commit crimes,” he added.

Tolit explained that the fact that Okot escaped from his guard duties unnoticed by his colleagues and killed ten people without quick response from his commanders and the police reveal a big laxity in supervision of armed soldiers and command.

He advised residents to report to the authorities once they spot armed and uniformed soldiers roaming their villages, adding that “This is a wake-up call to the people in this area. Don’t allow this to happen again,”

He asked leaders to always inspect drinking places and close down those they deem not to be secure and conducive for the revelers saying “The bar in which Okot killed ten people was not fit to be a bar. The room was too tiny with one door way.”

Tolit observed that the people residing near Bombo land forces headquarters live in “a complex environment” that requires them to cooperate with leaders of the security forces to ensure that they are secure. From New Vision.

Nyeri Mau Mau cry foul in pay deal

By NATION TEAM nyerinews@ke.nationmedia.com
Posted  Friday, June 7  2013 at  21:11

IN SUMMARY

  • Efforts by the Saturday Nation team to reach the association’s patron, Mzee Ndung’u wa Gicheru, at his home in Kiawara village in Kieni West to clarify the matter hit a snag after his wife denied journalists access.

 

Members of Mau Mau War Veterans Association in Nyeri County Friday said that none of the freedom fighters in the area is among the 5,228 listed for compensation.

They also claimed that Dedan Kimathi’s family had not been recognized in the list yet they are supposed to be key beneficiaries.

The group asserted that there were more than 6,000 Mau Mau members in the county and the municipality alone had 1,024 members.

The veterans stated that there were many imposters in the list and called for a thorough head count, noting that what the British government was offering was too little, and instead should consider paying Sh200 million per war veteran.

Efforts by the Saturday Nation team to reach the association’s patron, Mzee Ndung’u wa Gicheru, at his home in Kiawara village in Kieni West to clarify the matter hit a snag after his wife denied journalists access.

She said her sick husband was not in a position to talk to the media and was protecting his personal interests.

A former Mau Mau captain, Mr Nderitu Wambugu, said that by the British government accepting that the freedom fighters were subjected to torture means that they had the correct number of those involved and questioned how they came up with 5,228.

He alleged that the British government wanted to divide the freedom fighters into smaller groups and yet all of them fought for Kenya’s independence.

The veterans urged President Kenyatta not to allow the funds to be dispersed until they come up with a clear number of those to be compensated which they claimed to be more than 6,000 adding that no genuine fighter should be left out.

“We don’t have a problem with the Kenyan government, what we want is genuine Mau Mau freedom fighters be compensated,” said Mzee Wambugu.

Reported by James Ngunjiri, Stellar Murumba and Samuel Karanja From the Saturday Nation.

 

Mendes now lead Sierra Leone Army… As allegations of tribalism in military prove untrue

 

By Aruna Turay & Augustine Samba
Jun 7, 2013, 17:20

 

The Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) is highly constituted of fine, gallant and professional military officers from the South-East of the country with Mende and Sherbro origins to the extent that the number one and number two positions are currently held by South-Easterners. Many in local populace are therefore shocked over recent attempts by sections of the local and international media (particularly Kenya’s NATION MEDIA GROUP) attempting to give a false tribal and regional flavor to the recent decision to retire some officers from the army. The Kenyan article against the President of Sierra Leone written by one Kemo Cham is particularly galling to many Sierra Leoneans who view it as seditious and libelous.
Whilst opposition operatives are insisting in their newspaper tabloids that Brigadier Komba Mondeh and others were retired because they belong to the Mende and other ethnic groups from the South/East, the facts remain that from all indications, the current government and President Koroma still has one hundred percent trust in officers who hail from that part of the country.

Evidently, the two senior most positions in RSLAF, Chief of Defence Staff and Deputy Chief of Defence Staff, are occupied by officers of Mende and Sherbro origin from the South-East.

 

Brigadier General Samuel Omarr Williams is the Chief of Defence Staff and he is a Mende/Sherbro from the Bonthe district in the opposition dominated Southern Province. He was appointed by President Koroma last year to replace a northerner named Robert Koroma (See Page 3). His Deputy and Number 2 man in the military hierarchy is Brigadier John Edison Milton who is also a Mende from the opposition heartland of Moyamba District. Milton replaced Brigadier Sesay, a Northerner, who was retired from position of Deputy CDS last week at the same time as Mondeh and others.

 

What this means is that the two most senior officers in the current Sierra Leone Armed Forces are South-Eastern Mendes with no tribal and/or regional lineage to President Koroma.

 

In an interview with the newly promoted and appointed Deputy Chief of Defence Staff at his Joint Force Command Office at Cockerill Headquarters on Wilkinson Road in Freetown on Thursday 6th June 2013, he confirmed that he was born in a small village called Nyamiana inside Moyamba’s Mano Dasse chiefdom by a Mende woman from Mano Dasse and a Mende father from Serabu, Bumpeh chiefdom in Bo district, along the highway to Bonthe. He is a trained communications specialist.

 

Brigadier Milton was quite relaxed and confident as he debunked the allegations of tribalism on the part of the Commander In Chief, H.E. Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma.

 

The newly promoted Brigadier expressed gratitude for his elevation to the current position of Deputy CDS during the recent promotions.
Speaking of his prowess, Brigadier Militon explained that he has proven his merit both on the field of promoting the image of the military through communication tools as well as on the battlefield. He said upon the restoration of normalcy after the tumultuous period of civil strife in the country, he was appointed as Head of the Media in the army by the then British IMATT deployment in the country.

According to him, this was a trying period for the force as there was a need to restore the force’s dented image in the minds of the public.
He narrated how he succeeded via radio and television talk show and newspaper publications to repair the then dented image.

 

Milton was later promoted to the rank of a Lieutenant Colonel and appointed to head the 2nd Battalion in Kenema at the time.
He spent approximately two years as command head in Daru before being appointed Military Assistant (MA) to the then Deputy Minister of Defence, Joe C. Blell, a position he served until he was sent to Ghana’s Senior Division Staff College.

 

He was in Ghana for a year and returned to Sierra Leone and took up an appointment at Benguma Armed Forces Training Center as the Commandant before being transferred to the Freetown Garrison as Brigade Commander for two years.

 

Thereafter, he was moved to the Ministry of Defence where he served as the acting Director of Military Operations and also doubling as Director of Public Relations and Information for close to a year and half. He later relinquished the position of Director of Military Operations and held on to Director of Public Relations and Information.

 

The gallant officer was later sent to the Defence College in Nigeria where he performed exceptionally and became the best foreign student to graduate from the college that year.

 

Since he joined the military in 1985 after undergoing military training in Sandhurst, the Royal Military Academy in Britain and graduated as a Staff Officer, Milton has served in various sectors of the army as commander and has commanded successful military operations including the famous ‘Operation Ranger Storm’ that was geared towards rescuing the abducted British soldiers by the rebels during the war.
Prior to his appointment as Deputy Chief of Defence Staff, Brigadier Milton was the Joint Force Commander in the RSLAF, a position he has held for close to a year now.

 

The fine gentleman is married to a beautiful wife, Mrs. Zainab Milton and they are blessed with three children, two boys and a girl. He has vowed to serve in his new office diligently and be loyal and faithful to Sierra Leone’s Commander-In-Chief, His Excellency the President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma.

 

All the above revelations explain why opposition elements will never justify the tribal and regional sentiments they are attempting to sell in the retirement of officers found wanton of professional misconduct.

 

It is clear to see that no Mende or South/Easterner was sacked to be replaced with a Temne from the north but rather it was the other way around. Under President Koroma, a Northerner was replaced by a South-Easterner for position of Chief of Defence Staff and again under President Koroma, a Northerner has been replaced by a Mende South-Easterner in to position of Deputy Chief of Defence Staff.

Dr. Sylvia Blyden, the Special Executive Assistant to President Koroma has meanwhile told Awareness Times that going by the “dangerous trends” in the opposition media, the government would have to “sanitise the media through the use of the Public Order Act of 1965”.

“We cannot have this country slip back into chaos because of unwarranted stoking of negative tribal sentiments and hate speech in our polity. If it means forcing journalists to defend in court what they publish, then so be it. We will do it,” Blyden ended. From Awareness Times.

 

In Sierra Leone, Sylvia Blyden Warns Journalists

By Aruna Turay
Jun 7, 2013, 17:18

 

 

Special Executive Assistant to President Koroma has called on local journalists in Sierra Leone to prepare for a “massive and long overdue sanitisation” of the country’s media landscape. According to Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden who just returned from an 8 days absence out of the country, “it is now apparent that the Independent Media Commission has no intention of using the powers granted them to maintain sanity in the media and so we, as a government, are going to be left with no option but to save the country from sliding backwards at the hands of reckless media practitioners. The only solution is to apply Part 5 of the Public Order Act of 1965 and start chargingerrant persons to court for criminal and seditious libel”.
“I returned back to Freetown yesterday after some eight days out of the country. Some of what I met published in the local opposition media during our absence in Japan is just too unbelievable. Such media untruths and gross recklessness aimed at inciting this country into turmoil has to be curtailed. If it means forcing journalists to defend their articles in a courtroom to ensure sanity prevails, then so be it as the Commissioners of the Independent Media Commission continue to exhibit their inadequacy,” Dr. Blyden said.
Meanwhile, the following was an Update from Blyden on FACEBOOK SOCIAL MEDIA yesterday afternoon:


From Sylvia Olayinka Blyden:

I notice all this “noise” being made about tribalism being behind retrenchment of some military officers and also being behind the promotions of others. Worse of all is the report in Kenya’s NATION MEDIA GROUP that “the top decision-making body of the army was deliberately chosen to favour President Ernest Bai Koroma’s northern lineage.” Let me use this chance to set the records straight. VERY STRAIGHT..!!!! Firstly, just a year ago in June 2012, His Excellency President Koroma appointed the current Chief of Defence Staff and Head of the army, Major-General S.O. Williams to replace erstwhile CDS, Major-General R.Y. Koroma who was retired from the army. It is pertinent to note that the current CDS, S.O. Williams, is a Mende-Sherbro from Bonthe district in the opposition supported Southern Province whilst Robert Koroma, the man he replaced is a Northerner.

 

Secondly, the newly promoted Deputy Chief of Defence Staff, Brigadier John E. Milton is a Mende born of a Mende woman from Mano Dasse in Moyamba and a Mende father from Serabu in Bo district along highway to Bonthe. Newly promoted Brigadier John Milton has replaced Brigadier Sesay, a Northerner who has been retired from position of Deputy CDS last week at the same time as Mondeh and others.

 

What this means is that the two most senior officers in the current Sierra Leone Armed Forces are South-Easterners with NO tribal lineage to President Koroma and no regional lineage to President Koroma. Any journalist (local or international) who makes such a claim that “the top decision-making body of the army was deliberately chosen to favour President Ernest Bai Koroma’s northern lineage”, has committed reckless criminal and seditious libel. I repeat, HAS COMMITTED CRIMINAL & SEDITIOUS LIBEL. Let me stop here for now. From Awareness Times.

 

Chiefs, elders of Nyankpala given ultimatum to reintegrate banished ‘witch’

By Myjoyonline.com

Chiefs and Elders of Nyankpala in the Northern Region who banished a 40 year old woman from the town on suspicion that she was a witch will have to reverse their decision or face legal action.

The chiefs took the decision to banish Rahinatu Abdulai and her entire family of 10 earlier this week because according to them the woman was the cause of the ill health of a young lady of the area.

But their decision has sparked rage with a human advocacy group, the Anti-Witchcraft Campaign Coalition of Ghana.

The coalition has therefore issued a three week ultimatum to the chiefs and elders there to either re-integrate the banished woman or face legal action.

Coordinator of the coalition Kenneth Addae tells Joy News their investigation revealed that many other older women have been accused and have also been banished under similar circumstances. From Modern Ghana.

Following are the latest comment and opinion articles taken by the Africa Centre from media websites right across sub-Saharan Africa and down to the Cape:

Comment and Opinion Contents:

Ghana: Media expert, human rights lawyer dismiss GJA’s anti-gay moral crusade

Rwanda: The untold story of Buhanga, the coronation ground

 

POSTED ON FRIDAY, JUNE 7TH, 2013

Recent media reports indicate that the United States Government has excluded Nigeria from the list of countries, to be visited by President Barak Obama on his second tour of the African continent. Sources in US had revealed that before the announcement, the Nigerian ambassador to US, Prof Ade Adefuye was invited to the State Department by senior US officials where he was officially informed on the US concerns about security and corruption in Nigeria. Indeed the officials led by the acting Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Donald Yamamoto, reportedly presented the Nigerian ambassador with satellites photographs of the alleged Baga massacre, alleging that it made Nigeria’s inclusion in President Obama’s itinerary extremely difficult.

On May 17th, US secretary of state John Kerry had issued a public statement that  ‘for the first time the US had in its custody credible allegations against the country’s security forces in the implementation of the emergency rule’ recently declared by President Goodluck Jonathan in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States of Nigeria. He further stated that, “we are also deeply concerned by credible allegations that Nigerian security forces are committing gross human rights violation, which, in turn only escalate the violence and fuel extremism”. He concluded that “the United States condemns Boko Haram’s campaign of terror in the strongest term.

We urge Nigeria’s security forces to apply disciplined use of force in all operations, protect civilians on any security response and respect human rights and the rule of law”.

Earlier, reports claimed that besides the Baga incident, which is regarded as the immediate reason for the snub by the US government, the State Department had been presented with facts on how President Jonathan’s administration had allegedly abandoned the fight against corruption, in particular by pardoning the former governor of Bayelsa State , Diepreye Alamieyeseigha. The report also stated that the US officials were said to be concerned about the controversial reports it had received regarding two important Federal Government ministries, namely Petroleum Resources and Aviation. The decision to exclude Nigeria it seemed had been concluded after the May 17th announcement.

While this decision is quite contentious, especially coming at a time President Jonathan has shown a renewed commitment and determination by his government to combat terrorism and the debilitating effects of the corruption monster, we believe that there is a lesson to be learnt from this snub.

The government needs to know that Nigeria still commands the respect of the US, if only it could be more thorough and decisive with the implementation of its programs and agenda. It is still believed in international circles that the United States government still regards the country as its African anchor.

The thinking is that these reforms and war against corruption and terrorism seemed to have lost touch with the core values which Nigeria in particular and the international community in general need, to support and appreciate the efforts of the government. The question is, where are the cherished values of transparency, integrity, honesty, and discipline in the entire process?

Only recently, a United States government report on Nigeria “indicted Nigerian officials of widespread and pervasive corruption, affecting all levels of government”. The report published under the heading, ‘Corruption and lack of transparency in government,’ claimed that “officials frequently engaged in corrupt practices with impunity.”The report indicated that   “almost $7 billion must have been stolen in the period under review” which was 2012 and again “There was a widespread perception judges were easily bribed and litigants could not rely on courts to render impartial judgments. Citizens encountered long delays and alleged requests from judicial officials for bribes to expedite cases or obtain favorable rulings,” the report further stated.

President Jonathan on paper is passionate about the Nigerian project, but this latest development should be seen by the government as a reality check on the country’s perceived eminent position in Africa. Two decades ago, the country was considered a frontline state in Africa by the international community, but of late Nigeria’s profile has sunken so low that it has become a laughing stock in the international arena. While we appreciate the effort of the government in tackling these issues, we also urge the administration to have a rethink on some of its methods and strategies in combating these problems which have not achieved the desired goals or objectives. The government should do everything possible within its power to return this country to the path of honor. Indeed leadership should be seen as service and not opportunity for individuals to amass wealth and satisfy vain glory. It should scale down on rhetoric and walk the talk. From the Daily Independent.

 

Media expert, human rights lawyer dismiss GJA’s anti-gay moral crusade

By Myjoyonline|Edwin Appiah|edwin.appiah

Media expert, Prof. Audrey Gadzekpo has dismissed the call on journalists to take an anti-gay stance against gays and lesbians in their reportage. The call was made by Affail Monney, president of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA).

Mr. Affail Monney told Joy News on Thursday urging anti-gay media stance.

‘The media do not have to take a posture of neutrality as far as right and wrong are concerned’, Mr. Affail Monney said, adding that homosexuality is an issue that is totally wrong, it is morally repugnant, culturally offensive, legally unacceptable and because our laws frown on man sleeping with man and woman sleeping with woman.

But speaking on Joy FM’s Top Story, Professor Audrey Gadzekpo of the School of Communications, University of Ghana said she found the appeal by the GJA president “bizzare” and “wrong-footed”.

She said it was the responsibility of journalists to protect the rights of the vulnerable and marginalized in society. The practice of journalism needed broad-minded and critical thinkers to present thoroughly investigated issues of public concern, she added.

She acknowledged the deep cultural bias against the practice of homosexuality in the country and challenged journalists to find out from conservative groups like religious organisation and chiefs, the basis for this bias.

In her view, issues of homosexuality are complex and the president’s pronouncement did not consider tons of research on the matter. It would be better for Affail Monney to “leave evangelical right wing pastors” to make pronouncements on the issue, she suggested.

She compared the president’s call to apartheid South Africa where a white minority marginalized and denied a black majority certain basic human rights because of the colour of their skin. The associate professor advised the GJA to focus on ‘the morality of the issues’ facing journalists and “look after the welfare of your people” instead of attempting to foist his “personal views” on the Association.

‘I can think of 10 million things we should be doing than what people do in their bedroom’, Gadzekpo said.

Professor Attuafuah, a human rights lawyer and criminologist also contributed to the discussion.

He said although section 104 of the criminal code criminalizes “unnatural carnal knowledge”, proving this would involve installing “cameras in bedrooms”.

The gay question is a question of identity, he said, adding even if Ghana had a law against homosexuality, it would be impossible for the law to prosecute persons based on any “outward manifestation” of the practice such as men holding of hands or the wearing of certain gay symbols.

To him, there are numerous, compelling challenges of our time, that deserved the attention of the Association.

One of them is the pervasive lawlessness in our society, the criminologist pointed out.

The call by the president may be an attempt to “ride on the high crest of public disavow” to make a name for himself, he asserted.

From Modern Ghana.

The untold story of Buhanga, the coronation ground

Sitting on a lush, green and serene ground, Buhanga hill is most known in ancient history as a place where Rwandan kings reigned before they were enthroned.

Buhanga is located in Bukora Cell, Nkotsi Sector, in Musanze District.

The kings, historians say, would spend an unspecified number of days here in company of Abiru – the traditional historians in the king’s court – who performed different rituals aimed at sanctifying the king’s reign.

It is a green 12-hectare forest with a relaxing atmosphere shrouded by a breathtaking breeze.

Joseph Hategekimana is an employee at Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and serves as a tour-guide as well as a story teller for those who come to visit the place.

Trailing after him, he easily describes the place, its significance and the different rituals that took place here, probably centuries ago, at the coronation of the kings, who were the titular heads of the Rwandan Kingdom.

“The full name of this place is ‘I Buhanga Kwa Gihanga’ and it draws the name from the first king of Rwanda, called Gihanga, who is believed to have lived in this area,” said Hategekimana.

“There was once a palace here…and it was perched between two big trees,” he says as he points fingers to where the trees stood.

“It was a thatched traditional house that was never destroyed by anyone; it simply succumbed to time. Every would-be king would enter it to be blessed by the Abiru and all rituals happened before he took over the kingdom,” he narrates.

Sitting on a lush, green and serene ground, Buhanga hill is most known in ancient history as a place where Rwandan kings reigned before they were enthroned.

Buhanga is located in Bukora Cell, Nkotsi Sector, in Musanze District.

The kings, historians say, would spend an unspecified number of days here in company of Abiru – the traditional historians in the king’s court – who performed different rituals aimed at sanctifying the king’s reign.

It is a green 12-hectare forest with a relaxing atmosphere shrouded by a breathtaking breeze.

Joseph Hategekimana is an employee at Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and serves as a tour-guide as well as a story teller for those who come to visit the place.

Trailing after him, he easily describes the place, its significance and the different rituals that took place here, probably centuries ago, at the coronation of the kings, who were the titular heads of the Rwandan Kingdom.

“The full name of this place is ‘I Buhanga Kwa Gihanga’ and it draws the name from the first king of Rwanda, called Gihanga, who is believed to have lived in this area,” said Hategekimana.

“There was once a palace here…and it was perched between two big trees,” he says as he points fingers to where the trees stood.

“It was a thatched traditional house that was never destroyed by anyone; it simply succumbed to time. Every would-be king would enter it to be blessed by the Abiru and all rituals happened before he took over the kingdom,” he narrates.

What historians  say

According to Prof Déo Byanafashe, a lecturer in the history department at the National University of Rwanda, the place is of a great historic importance and should be properly preserved and publicised so that Rwandans know about it.

“The place should be taught about in schools and should be part of the documented national history,” said the don.

The future

In 2006, the government attached the site to the Volcanoes National Park as an eco-park and the plan to develop it as a cultural tourism site is underway, according to Rwanda Development Board officials.

The project, which will be modified into a cultural site, will be developed by RDB in partnership with Ministry of Sports and Culture together with the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

“We are planning to have a buffer zone to minimise human encroachment,” said Prosper Uwingeli, the Chief Park warden in Volcanoes National Park.

“The area is also rich in biodiversity such as birds, small cats and a variety of trees and therefore, nature tourism can be done. Trails have already been developed,” Uwingeli added.

With the place already on the tourist catalogue, Uwingeli said, what remains is to market this unique heritage site as part of cultural tourism.

The Government has requested RDB to demarcate the area of the eco-park that will be considered for tourism development, and consider expropriation of local communities with land adjacent to the site.

Over 80 individuals with land adjacent to Buhanga will be compensated for the land next to the ecopark. From The New Times.

Thank you for reading this blog. Please put any comments or suggestions in the box provided.

Endsit, and Bi-Bi.

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