Senate asks all service chiefs to resign

Senate vs SGF: We never threatened to shut down Buhari’s govt - Senate
Senate vs SGF: We never threatened to shut down Buhari’s govt – Senate

The Nigerian senate has asked the service chiefs to step aside.

The resolution of the upper legislative chamber followed a motion sponsored by Ali Ndume, senator representing Borno south and chairman of the committee on army.

Gabriel Olonisakin, chief of defence staff; Tukur Buratai, chief of army staff; Sadique Abubakar, chief of air staff; and Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas, chief of naval staff; are all due for retirement.

Despite calls for their sack, President Muhammadu Buhari has kept them in office.

Reveal lawmakers who got NDDC contracts within 48hrs – Gbajabiamila to Akpabio

Speaker of the house of representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila has given Godswill Akpabio, minister of Niger Delta affairs, 48 hours to name the lawmakers who got contracts from the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

Speaking on the floor of the house on Tuesday, Gbajabiamila also commended Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, chairman of the house committee on NDDC, from withdrawing from the probe of the commission.

While appearing before the panel probing the NDDC on Monday, Akpabio said most of the contracts awarded by the agency were to members of the national assembly.

The speaker said if the minister fails to name the lawmakers, the full “wrath” of the house will be brought against him.

Gbajabiamila said Akpabio came to play games but “we do not play games here”.

“I am giving the minister 24 to 48 hours, to publish the names, the contracts, the companies, date, amount and the projects,” he said.

“Failing which, this house will bring the full wrath of the house on him. It is important that we set this record straight.

“The minister owes it to himself, to the committee, to people of Niger Delta, and the country to publish it. I will reserve my judgement. The minister came there to play games, but we do not play games here.”

Jonathan visits Buhari — 3 days after railway was named after him

Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday visited President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa in Abuja.

Mr. Jonathan visited Buhari three days after Buhari named the railway complex in Agbor, Delta state, after his predecessor.

Though we are yet to learn the reason for the meeting, we strongly believe it may be linked to Jonathan’s appointment by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to lead its mediation team to help resolve the socio-political tension Mali.

The former president paid his first visit to Buhari during his second term on October 10.

He also visited his successor on January 30.

Wike thanks Buhari for N78bn refund, invites him for state visit

Nyesom Wike, governor of Rivers, has invited President Muhammadu Buhari for a state visit.

This is coming after the federal government approved the disbursement N78.9 billion as reimbursement for the amount spent on executing some federal road projects in the state, including Port Harcourt-Owerri road.

The approval for the refund was granted at the virtual federal executive council (FEC) meeting presided over by Buhari on June 3.

In a newspaper advert on Monday, Wike thanked the president for approving the refund, saying the gesture has shown Buhari’s love for the people of the state and as a president for all.

The governor said his administration is willing to work with the federal government to develop the state.

“I wish to on behalf of the Government and people of Rivers State appreciate and most sincerely thank you for graciously approving the refund of the sum of 78.9 billion naira to Rivers state Government, as cost of the execution of Federal Government Road projects in Rivers State,” Wike said.

“Let me also through you thank the vice president, His Excellency professor Yemi Osinbajo GCON as well as other members of the Federal Executive Council for the support they provided for our request.

“Mr President has by this remarkable and heart-warming gesture shown not only your love for the Government and people of Rivers State, but also demonstrated expressly that you are indeed a President of every state of the Federation and Nigerians.

“I assure you that Rivers State Government is willing and ever ready to cooperate and partner with the Federal Government to advance the development aspirations of Rivers State in particular, and our nation in general.

“I wish to, therefore, appeal to Mr President to kindly obliged us a State visit, when invited to see what we have accomplished for the state and our people with the money.

“Once again, thank you Mr President, and please, be assured of our profound esteem, as always.”

Wike is a known critic of the Buhari administration. He once accused the federal government of playing politics with COVID-19.

He alleged that federal authorities were working to compromise the health protection system of the state and make it vulnerable to the disease.

SOURCE: TheCable

A protester gestures towards a police officer during a protest about legal reforms near the parliament in Kinshasa on 24 June. Photograph: Arsene Mpiana/AFP/Getty Images

DRC justice minister arrested after conflict over judicial reforms

A protester gestures towards a police officer during a protest about legal reforms near the parliament in Kinshasa on 24 June. Photograph: Arsene Mpiana/AFP/Getty Images
A protester gestures towards a police officer during a protest about legal reforms near the parliament in Kinshasa on 24 June. Photograph: Arsene Mpiana/AFP/Getty Images

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s justice minister, Célestin Tunda ya Kasende, was released from custody on Saturday just hours after his arrest in the capital Kinshasa, the city’s chief of police said.

Tunda was questioned by prosecutors for several hours at the court of cassation after surrendering to police at his home on Saturday afternoon.

“He’s been released,” said Kinshasa’s police chief, Sylvano Kasongo.

The action against Tunda on Saturday came a day after he clashed with President Félix Tshisekedi over the contested legal changes, according to a ministerial source.

The reforms, proposed by supporters of the still influential former president Joseph Kabila, have caused a damaging rift in the fragile government coalition.

Tunda, a lawyer by profession, had told AFP by phone shortly before his arrest that about a dozen officers had surrounded his Kinshasa home.

“I am serene. I’m a member of the government and I have immunity,” said the minister, a supporter of Kabila.

The controversial reforms include proposals to define the powers of judges, which critics said is a ploy to muzzle the judiciary. They were put forward by the Common Front for Congo (FCC), a coalition close to Kabila, who remains a behind-the-scenes force in national politics.

The FCC, in which Tunda is a senior figure, sits in an uneasy coalition with Tshisekedi’s Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) and it accounts for most of the 66 government ministers as well as the prime minister.

Over two days this week, angry demonstrators, mainly UDPS supporters, some of whom were armed with petrol bombs, blocked traffic outside parliament, erecting barriers and burning tyres in a protest over the legal changes.

Former parliament speaker Aubin Minaku, one of the people behind the proposed amendments, said this week the aim of the reforms was “to define the authority the justice ministry exercises over the judges”.

But Tshisekedi’s party on Monday lambasted the proposals as a ploy to “undermine the independence of the judiciary and increase the power of the justice ministry”.

VIDEO: Obaseki joins PDP

The governor of Edo, Godwin Obaseki has joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The announcement was made on the official Twitter handle of the PDP on Friday afternoon.

“Breaking News! The governor of Edo State, H.E. @GovernorObaseki has defected to our great Party, the @OfficialPDPNig. The declaration was made this afternoon at the state Secretariat of our party in Benin city, Edo State. Power to the people. #EdoIsPDP,” the tweet read.

Obaseki also confirmed the decision via his Twitter handle shortly after the announcement by PDP.

“I have officially joined the @OfficialPDPNig to advance my ambition to seek re-election as Governor of Edo State. I, as always, remain committed to engendering good governance and sustainable development of our dear state,” he wrote.

On June 12, Obaseki, who was elected governor of Edo on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), lost the chance of seeking a second term with the APC after he was disqualified by the screening committee from participating in the governorship primary scheduled for June 22, 2020.

The governor had called on his supporters to remain calm after the disqualification, stating that he would announce his decision on the matter after he met with President Muhammadu Buhari.

However, after meeting with Ibrahim Ganbari, the chief of staff to the president, on Tuesday, the governor announced his resignation from the APC, while still maintaining that he had not defected to any other party.

Philip Shaibu, his deputy, also followed his principal’s decision by announcing his resignation from APC.

Godwin Obaseki

Obaseki dumps APC after meeting with Buhari

Godwin Obaseki

The governor of Edo state, Godwin Obaseki, has resigned his membership of the All Progressives Congress (APC). 

Obaseki had met with President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday before announcing his decision.

Speaking with journalists at the presidential villa, Obaseki said he would pursue his second-term bid on another platform.

On June 14, the governor said he would disclose his next step after meeting with the president following his disqualification from the All Progressives Congress (APC) primary election in Edo.

Jonathan Ayuba, chairman of the APC screening committee for the Edo governorship poll, said the panel disqualified Obaseki over a “defective” certificate.

The PDP may be the governor’s next stop as the party had been waiting in the wings for the APC crisis to boil over so that it can provide a platform for him.

Atiku Abubakar, former vice-president, had asked Obaseki to join the PDP, and making way for him to get the party’s ticket.

The governor met with Nyesom Wike, Rivers state governor, and Emmanuel Udom, Akwa Ibom governor, (both members of the PDP) at the weekend.

Obaseki had been at loggerheads with Adams Oshiomhole, national chairman of the APC who supported him in 2016.

Oshiomhole is believed to be backing Osagie Ize-Iyamu who was cleared to contest the APC primary election in Edo.

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Buhari to address the nation on Democracy Day

Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari will on Friday, 10th June, 2020 address the nation.

A statement issued by Femi Adesina, special adviser to the president on media and publicity said the address is in commemoration of Democracy Day.

“To commemorate Nigeria’s Democracy Day, President Muhammadu Buhari will broadcast to the nation on Friday, June 12, 2020 at 7am,” it read.

“Television and radio stations as well as other electronic media outlets are enjoined to hook up to the network services of the Nigerian Television Authority and Radio Nigeria respectively for the broadcast.”

In 2018, Buhari had approved June 12 as Democracy Day to honour MKO Abiola, presumed winner of the 1993 presidential election.

Before 2019, Democracy Day had been observed on May 29.

22 years after his death, Nigeria still recovering funds looted by Abacha

Prior to the fourth republic, Nigeria was ruled by 11 leaders — eight military heads of states and three civilians. Of the eight military heads of state, three have died. But of all these, Sani Abacha, the late head of state, has featured more notoriously in the media. 

Today marks exactly 22 years after Abacha, who presided over the country between November 17, 1993, and June 8, 1998, died. While his death was met with a series of jubilations across the streets, the cause of his demise still remains a mystery. Although the rumour that he died of poisoning by prostitutes went wild, Abacha’s aides countered the claim saying the former ruler died of natural causes.

ABACHA’S EMERGENCE

Abacha, a native of Kano state, was commissioned into the military in 1963 after he received training in Kaduna and England. He rose through the ranks from second lieutenant to general in 1993. During the period, Abacha was involved in several coups until ex-military President Ibrahim Babangida appointed him as chief of staff in 1985, and subsequently minister of defence in 1990. In 1993, Abacha forced interim President Ernest Shonekan to resign and declared military rule across the country, having established the provisional ruling council (PRC).

In his coup speech, the former military head of state described the interim government as an administration full of “heavy uncertainties”, adding that his regime came “in a bid to find solutions to the various political, economic and social problems which have engulfed our beloved country”.

“Many have expressed fears about the apparent return of the military. Many have talked about the concern of the international community. However, under the present circumstances, the survival of our beloved country is far above any other consideration. Nigeria is the only country we have. We must, therefore, solve our problems ourselves. We must lay a very solid foundation for the growth of democracy. We should avoid any ad hoc or temporary solutions. The problems must be addressed firmly, objectively, decisively and with all sincerity of purpose,” his speech read.

DICTATORSHIP AND HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS

Notable among the series of human rights abuses under the Abacha regime was the killing of Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni activists opposed to the exploitation of Nigeria’s resources. His regime also detained Moshood Abiola, touted winner of the 1993 presidential election; former President Olusegun Obasanjo, and the late Shehu Musa Yar’adua, brother of former President Umaru Musa Yar’adua. This was despite several pleas and condemnation by the international community.

In 2016, Thabo Mbeki, former South African vice-president, revealed how Nelson Mandela, former president of the country, begged Abacha to halt the execution of the “Ogoni Nine”. He said Mandela also pleaded with Abacha for the release of Obasanjo and Yar’adua.

“The first major test which faced our late President Mandela in this regard was at the 1995 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) held in New Zealand,” Mbeki wrote in a statement.

“Here President Mandela came under great pressure publicly to condemn the Nigerian Abacha military government, especially for its continued detention of M.K.O. Abiola who had won the 1993 Presidential elections, and agree to the imposition of some sanctions against Nigeria.

“President Mandela resisted all this until news came through that on the very first day of the CHOGM, the Nigerian Government had executed Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight of his Ogoni colleagues. He then immediately joined others strongly to condemn the Abacha Government and approved the suspension of Nigeria from the Commonwealth.”

CORRUPTION AND TREASURY LOOT 

In an article published in Newsweek, a US based publication, in May, President Muhammadu Buhari said close to $1 billion was stolen from Nigeria “under a previous, undemocratic junta in the 1990s”. Although Buhari did not mention the name of Abacha, it was clear that he was referring to the late dictator.

According to an analysis by TheCable, over $3.624 billion of the Abacha loot has been recovered between 1998 and 2020. These recoveries were made by four administrations from four countries.

In 1998, Abubakar Abdulsalami, former military head of state, recovered $750 million from the Abacha family.

In 2000, Obasanjo recovered $64 million looted funds from Switzerland, $1.2 billion from the Abacha family in 2002; $88 million from Switzerland in 2003, and another $160 million from Jersey, British Island in 2003 — all linked to Abacha.

In 2005, Obasanjo recovered another tranche of $461 million of the Abacha loot deposited in Switzerland. By the following year, 2006, $44 million was recovered from the same country.

In 2014, during the administration of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria recovered $227 million of the Abacha loot from Liechtenstein, a country in Europe. The administration also recovered $322 million from Switzerland, but the fund was repatriated during Buhari’s first term in 2018.

In 2020, during Buhari’s second term, Nigeria repatriated $311 million Abacha loot from the United States and the Bailiwick of Jersey.

The litigation process for the return of the most recent assets entitled “Abacha III” commenced in 2014 while the diplomatic process that culminated in the signing of the asset return agreement on February 3, 2020 by the governments of Nigeria, US and the Bailiwick of Jersey, commenced in 2018.

After Nigeria recovered the loot from the US and the Bailiwick of Jersey, Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation, who coordinated the repatriation of the funds, said the money would be used in expediting the construction of Lagos-Ibadan expressway, Abuja-Kano road, and the Second Niger Bridge.

In his Newsweek article, Buhari also said the recovered funds would be spent on infrastructure.

Long after the dictator’s death 22 years ago, Nigeria is still recovering the proceeds of his corruption — and more have been said to be waiting in the wings.

Orji Kalu released from prison

Awa Kalu, his senior counsel, confirmed Kalu’s release to TheCable on Wednesday night.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had arraigned Kalu and Ude Jones Udeogu, a former director of finance and account of Abia state on 36 counts of money laundering to the tune of N7.1 billion and they were jailed in December.

On May 8, the supreme court nullified the trial of Kalu’s co-convict.

The apex court held that Mohammed Idris, the trial judge who had been elevated to the court of appeal at the time of the case, ought not to have presided over the matter while he was an appeal court judge.

On Tuesday, a federal high court in Lagos ordered the release of Kalu.

Below are photos of Kalu leaving the prison:

Hage Geingob

Namibia’s president holds illegal party, then fines all guests

Hage Geingob
Hage Geingob

Namibia’s president has admitted that he breached his country’s coronavirus regulations when he hosted a party to mark his political party’s 60th anniversary. 

He has now fined all those who attended the illegal birthday bash. 

Namibia’s ruling party, the South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO), held a celebration on April 19th, when the sparsely populated southern African nation was under lockdown and gatherings were banned.

Hage Geingob, the president, said that less than ten people attended but those included the vice-president, the prime minister and party’s secretary-general. 

All of the guests have been fined 2,000 Namibian dollars, the equivalent of about £110. 

“We had a very important occasion of the 60th anniversary of SWAPO,” Mr Geingob said in a press conference yesterday. “We were found not on the right side of the regulations and law. We had to admit guilt and we were punished, we paid.”

From official data, Namibia seems to have been extraordinarily successful in its efforts to keep the coronavirus pandemic under control. 

The Namibian government was quick to react when it recorded its first cases of coronavirus on the 13th of March. Soon after, it closed its borders to international travel. 

The vast nation is roughly the same size as France and England combined has just 2.5m people. So far it has recorded 23 cases of coronavirus and no deaths. 

However, this is not the first time the president has attracted controversy. He invited several Africa presidents to his swearing-in ceremony in March, prompting them to breach their own travel bans. Botswana’s president was forced to self-isolate for 14 days upon his return.

Presidents Buhari and Trump are clueless – Wizkid

Sensational Nigerian singer Wizkid has criticised President Muhammadu Buhari in wake of the recent killings in the country.

Taking to his Twitter page, the “Joro” crooner likened the Nigerian president to the president of the United States,  Donald Trump.

According to the multiple award-winning singer, both presidents are clueless and the only difference between them is that one is addicted to Twitter.

In a tweet yesterday, he wrote:

“Police dey kill black Americans and Naija police dey kill Nigerians. No man fit sort this matter. God save us.”

In what appears to be a follow-up tweet today, he shared:

“Buhari/Trump same person lol only difference be say one sabi use twitter pass the other. Clueless!”

He added:

“God save the world ! Save the people.”

This is not the first time the entertainer is taking a swipe at the Nigerian president.

In a tweet, the singer swung a jest at President Muhammadu Buhari after he returned from a trip to the United Kingdom.

Responding to a tweet that President Buhari is back in Abuja from a private trip to the United Kingdom, Wizkid wrote:

“Nobody chop life pass Bubu.”

In a similar vein, Grammy award-winning songstress, Lady Gaga recently criticised President Trump for his response to the recent case of police brutality in the United States.

This comes after a white police officer killed an armless black man George Floyd during an arrest.

Lady Gaga slammed President Trump calling him a ‘racist’ and a ‘fool.’

She wrote in part:

“We have known for a long time that President Trump has failed. He holds the most powerful office in the world, yet offers nothing but ignorance and prejudice while black lives continue to be taken.

“We have known he is a fool, and a racist, since he took office. He is fuelling a system that is already rooted in racism, and racist activity, and we can all see what is happening.

“It’s time for a change. I urge people to speak gently to each other, speak with passion, inspiration, and impress the importance of this issue until the systems that keep us sick die, instead of people we love.”

Trump threatens to shut down social media

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa, United States, July 18, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Young – RTX1KTWT

There has been criticism against social media platforms regarding the lack of restraint on leaders who use the means to make unsubstantiated claims.

Trump had tweeted that mail-in ballots were fraudulent on Tuesday. This was fact checked by Twitter — an action which peeved the US president.

Twitter put a warning on Trump’s tweet: “Get the facts about mail-in ballots,” and redirected users to news articles about the president’s unproven claim.

In a tweet on Wednesday, Trump said social media was silencing the voices of conservatives, and that the platforms will be regulated or closed down before they totally silence conservatives.

”Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives voices. We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen. We saw what they attempted to do, and failed, in 2016. We can’t let a more sophisticated version of that happen again,” he tweeted.

”Just like we can’t let large scale Mail-In Ballots take root in our Country. It would be a free for all on cheating, forgery and the theft of Ballots. Whoever cheated the most would win. Likewise, Social Media. Clean up your act, NOW!!!!”

Evariste Ndayishimiye was a rebel leader alongside Pierre Nkurunziza

Ruling party wins Burundi presidential election

Evariste Ndayishimiye was a rebel leader alongside Pierre Nkurunziza
Evariste Ndayishimiye was a rebel leader alongside Pierre Nkurunziza

The electoral commission said Evariste Ndayishimiye won almost 70% of the vote in last week’s poll.

The retired general will take over from President Pierre Nkurunziza, who has led Burundi since 2005.

The former leader is widely expected to maintain a lot of influence.

The main opposition party has expressed doubt about the official results, which suggest its candidate, Agathon Rwasa, only gained a quarter of the votes – mostly in its traditional stronghold in the west.

Buhari: I won’t receive any visitor during Eid-el-Fitr due to Covid-19

President Muhammadu Buhari says he will be observing Eid-el-Fitr at home with his family owing to the measures put in place to curb COVID-19.

The president said he will not be receiving any visitor during the celebrations.

On Thursday, Sa’ad Abubakar, sultan of Sokoto and president-general of the Jama’atu Nasril Islam, directed the suspension of Eid-el-Fitr congregational prayers across the country.

In a statement on Friday, Garba Shehu, presidential spokesman, said the president will not entertain visits from top government officials and political leaders during Eid-el-Fitr.

“With the Eid-el-Fitr celebrations around the corner and the month-long Ramadan fast coming to an end, President Muhammadu Buhari will be conducting his Eid prayers with his family at home,” Shehu said.

“This is in observance of the lockdown measures in the federal capital territory, Abuja, put in place to save lives and protect people from all dangers.

“This is also in line with the directive of the Sultan of Sokoto and president-general of the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III suspending Eid congregational prayers across the country as well as the protocol against mass gathering issued by the presidential task force on COVID-19.

“Further to this, the President, who has traditionally shared the joyous moment with top government officials, political leaders, community heads, Muslim and Christian religious leaders and children, will not be receiving these homages in a bid to stop the coronavirus from further spreading.”

‘Hundreds arrested’ on Burundi election day

Preliminary election results are expected on Monday

An opposition party in Burundi says 200 of its members were arrested on election day on Wednesday.

The National Freedom Council (CNL) spokesperson Terence Manirambona says the arrests continued into Thursday.

“Most of those arrested were CNL observers at polling stations, it happened in every province of the country, we could see it was a hunt on them,” he told BBC Great Lakes.

Police have not commented on the arrests but earlier a spokesperson said general election day had been generally peaceful.

CNL’s leader and presidential candidate Agathon Rwasa is considered the main challenger to the ruling party’s Evariste Ndayishimiye.

“Our observers, any who could tell poll officers that ‘what you are doing is against the law’ would be accused of disrupting the poll and thrown to jail,” Mr Manirambona said.

Some of those arrested arrested had gone to observe vote counting on Thursday, he said.

Some had already been arraigned in court for what Mr Manirambona termed as “non-factual charges”.

Meanwhile, social media users in Burundi were able to reconnect to Twitter, WhatsApp and Facebook on Thursday, ending an outage that started on Wednesday morning.

President Pierre Nkurunziza is stepping down following 15 years in power, during which his government has repeatedly been accused of serious human rights abuses.

Nkurunziza: from Burundi president to ‘supreme guide’

Burundi is about to lose its president of 15 years but gain a “supreme guide to patriotism”, according to the official title that will be given to Pierre Nkurunziza once he steps down after Wednesday’s election.

He will also receive a $540,000 (£440,000) retirement pay-out and a luxury villa. But it is not clear if he is going to step out of the limelight and spend more of his time on other things, like his beloved football.

The build up to the poll – in which seven candidates are vying to replace the president – has been marred by violence and accusations that the vote will not be free and fair.

But whoever wins will be required by law to consult Mr Nkurunziza on matters of national security and national unity. Whether they have to follow his advice is not clear.

Perhaps he could persuade them by pointing to his successes, such as introducing free primary school education, free medical treatment for mothers and children, and building new roads and hospitals.

Man with a gas mask
Image captionThere were widespread protests when Pierre Nkurunziza said he would seek a third term in 2015

Five years ago, Mr Nkurunziza’s third term began amid political turmoil. His announcement that he would run for a further five years in power had sparked anger as some questioned its legality.

There was a failed coup attempt, hundreds of people died in clashes and tens of thousands fled the country. His election in July 2015, with nearly 70% of the vote, was described as a “joke” by opposition leader Agathon Rwasa, who boycotted the poll.

This time around, Mr Nkurunziza was allowed, after a change in the constitution, to run again, however he appears to have opted for a quieter life.

Voting amid the virus

Wednesday’s election has also been criticised for taking place during the time of coronavirus.

The country has only recorded more than 40 cases of the virus, with one death, but the wisdom of holding mass rallies has been questioned.

A government spokesman said in March, when no cases had been recorded, that the country had been protected by God.

Burundi has resisted imposing tough restrictions, with the government only advising the population to stick to strict hygiene rules and avoiding crowds wherever possible – except of course in campaign rallies.

Burundi"s opposition National Freedom Council (CNL), presidential candidate Agathon Rwasa, addresses supporters during a campaign rally in Ngozi province, Burundi April 27, 2020
Image captionThe opposition has also been holding mass rallies, like this one

But the government did insist that foreign election observers be quarantined for 14 days from arrival in the country, which some saw as a way of discouraging them from going at all.

‘Election highly questionable’

”What we’ve seen in the last few months is that the political space in Burundi is fairly limited,” Nelleke van de Walle, who works on Central Africa for the Crisis Group think-tank, told the BBC.

“So it’s highly questionable that the elections will be free and fair.

“The fact that no election observers will be allowed in the country to see what’s going on – I think that increases the risk for election fraud, corruption and human rights violations in the run-up to the elections as well.”

The government insists that it warned would-be observers about the quarantine in April, giving them ample notice.

Diplomats have also expressed concern over the poll.

Facts about Burundi

  • Gained independencefrom Belgium in 1962
  • Population11 million
  • Average income$272 per person
  • Life expectancy61
  • Main exportscoffee, gold and tea

Source: World Bank

But for the past five years, Burundi has found a way to deal with its international critics either by completely denying allegations of abuse or simply ignoring them. And so far it has worked for the government and the ruling party.

The country has managed with little donor support, much of which disappeared after the 2015 turmoil. As a result, these elections have been entirely funded by the government – a first in the history of Burundi and rare on the continent.

All this has made the authorities there confident to push ahead.

Evariste Ndayishimiye

Candidate for governing CNDD-FDD party

  • Born in1968
  • Left universityto join FDD rebel group in 1995
  • Acted as spokesmanfor FDD high command
  • Served asinterior minister from 2006-2007
  • Made chief of staffto the presidency in 2015
  • Elected leaderof CNDD-FDD in 2016

Source: BBC Monitoring

From the seven candidates in the presidential race, only two are seen as real contenders.

Mr Nkurunziza is backing the governing CNDD-FDD party candidate, Evariste Ndayishimiye, who has been feted at huge rallies.

He is the party’s secretary general, former interior minister and was a rebel commander, alongside Mr Nkurunziza, in the FDD during the civil war, which ended in 2003.

Opponents ‘tortured and killed’

Mr Rwasa, the former leader of another rebel group, the FNL, has called for a “profound change in all sectors of national life”, when he spoke to supporters of his National Congress for Liberty (CNL), which was formed last year.

Despite pulling out of the 2015 race, when he was the candidate for another opposition party, he still garnered 19% of the votes as his name remained on the ballot paper.

Both men are confident they have the support base to win, but it has been an uphill battle for Mr Rwasa. Human rights organisations say the government has used its might to intimidate and repress the opposition and its supporters.

Agathon Rwasa

Leading opposition candidate

  • Born in1964
  • Led rebel groupthe National Liberation Forces (FNL)
  • Lived in exilefrom 1988 to 2008, returning after peace deal
  • Runner-up in 2015despite boycotting poll after ballots were printed
  • Voted deputy speakerof parliament in 2015
  • Formed new partyNational Congress for Liberty (CNL) in 2019

Source: BBC Monitoring

According to Human Rights Watch, there have been at least 67 documented killings, including 14 extrajudicial executions, in the last six months. There have also been disappearances, cases of torture and over 200 arrests against real or perceived political opponents.

The security forces have been accused of using excessive force to shut down opposition activity.

Hopes for a new beginning

Since gaining independence from Belgium in 1962, Burundi has seen wave after wave of violence between an ethnic Hutu majority and the Tutsi minority, which dominated the country.

It has never had a sustained period of peace after a change of leader.

Melchior Ndadaye, a Hutu, was elected president in the country’s first democratic election in 1993.

But hopes of democracy taking root were dashed just three months into his presidency, when a group of soldiers from the Tutsi-led army mutinied and assassinated him, together with a number of his cabinet members and political allies.

Hutu rebel groups, including the FDD and Mr Rwasa’s FNL, then took up arms in a decade-long civil war, which saw some 300,000 deaths.

The tumult of 2015 ended another period of relative peace. But the question is whether the next president can restore the country’s reputation in the eyes of international observers.

Mr Nkurunziza, armed with his title of “supreme guide to patriotism”, may hope to continue to maintain some influence.

But even if his party’s candidate does win, that is no guarantee that he will be able to pull the strings should he so desire.

In Angola, long-serving President Jose Eduardo dos Santos expected to continue to have a say in government after João Lourenço was elected to replace him in 2017. But his hand-picked successor turned against him, sacking and even prosecuting some of Mr Dos Santos’ children and close allies.

Party wrangling and jockeying for position however should not detract from the main task of the next head of state.

The World Bank estimates that seven out of 10 Burundians live below the poverty line, and the country’s 11 million people will hope that whoever ends up president will make their lives better.

Additional reporting by the BBC Great Lakes service.

Burundi opposition condemns ‘electoral fraud’

Burundi’s main opposition candidate, Agathon Rwasa, has complained of fraud in Wednesday’s general election.

He said his party’s election observers were chased away from some polling stations.

His National Freedom Council (CNL) party has also accused supporters of the ruling CNDD-FDD party of multiple voting.

Neither has the electoral commission or the ruling party commented on the allegations.

Agathon Rwasa and his wife voted in Ngozi in the north

Voting passed off largely peacefully after a campaign marred by violence. The vote took place without international observers and social media platforms such as WhatsApp were blocked.

Media houses were also barred from announcing results of respective polling stations, unlike unlike in previous elections, with authorities saying only the electoral commission is allowed to announce consolidated results.

The two main contenders, retired general Evariste Ndayishimiye from the ruling party and Mr Rwasa, have called for calm as the country waits for preliminary results due on 25 May.

Evariste Ndayishimiye and wife voted in the capital, Gitega

President Pierre Nkurunziza is stepping down following 15 years in power, during which his government has repeatedly been accused of serious human rights abuses.

Mr Ndayishimiye was chosen by Mr Nkurunziza, who is expected to continue to exert influence through a new role of “supreme guide”.

Governor Ben Ayade

Cross River lifts ban on religious gatherings

Governor Ben Ayade

Governor of Cross River, Ben Ayade has lifted the ban on religious gaherings in the state.

This was contained in a statement issued by the governor on Wednesday.

According to the statement, the governor acknowledged the efforts and cooperation of religious leaders in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ayade said he was “conscious of the spiritual economy”, and that his action was as a result of appeals by religious leaders in the state.

He, however, said worshippers must ensure that they comply with the directive on the use of face masks, and that such gatherings must not exceed the building capacity.

The governor also added that the state COVID-19 task force will be monitoring such gatherings to ensure compliance.

According to the situation report of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) for May 18, 2020, Cross River has recorded the second lowest number of tests in Nigeria, with seven samples tested so far in the state.

The state is also yet to record any positive case of COVID-19.

Namibian president bans ministers from buying new cars

Namibian ministers and government officials have been banned by the president from buying a new car for five years so that the money can be spent on dealing with coronavirus, a tweet from President Hage Geingob’s office says.

The measure will save $10.7m (£8.8m), the tweet says. It adds that the money will instead be spent on “urgent priorities, specifically at a time when the country is dealing with the health and economic implications of Covid-19”.

The president has also capped the fuel allowance.

There have been 16 recorded cases of coronavirus in the country and no deaths. The country has a population of 2.5 million.

Every Namibian minister and deputy can get a Mercedes-Benz when they are appointed, AFP news agency says.Article share tools

Governors unanimously ask N’assembly to halt infectious diseases bill

The Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) has asked the national assembly to suspend the infectious disease bill.

The bill prescribes, among other provisions, compulsory vaccination of citizens against infectious diseases. This has sparked public outcry over possible human rights violation.

In a communique issued after a virtual meeting of the governors on Wednesday, Kayode Fayemi, chairman of the forum, asked the lawmakers to step down the bill to give room for consultations with state governments and other stakeholders.

The forum also constituted a three-member committee to engage the leadership of the national assembly on the bill.

“Following an update from the Governor of Sokoto State and Vice Chairman of the NGF, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, on the proposed Control of Infectious Diseases Bill, 2020 introduced by the House of Representatives, Governors raised concern with the lack of consultation with State governments who are at the forefront of the epidemic,” the governors said.

“The Forum resolved that the Bill should be stepped down until an appropriate consultative process is held, including a public hearing to gather public opinion and concerns.

“In the light of this, the Forum established a Committee comprising the Governors of Katsina, Sokoto, and Plateau to lead a consultative meeting with the leadership of the National Assembly on the proposed Control of Infectious Diseases Bill, 2020.

“The NGF Secretariat was also mandated to comprehensively review the Bill and its implication on States.”

Burundi orders WHO official to leave country

There are no restrictions on movement in Burundi over the coronavirus pandemic

Burundi has expelled the World Health Organization (WHO) representative in the country and three other health experts.

An unsigned letter from the foreign affairs ministry declares the WHO representative Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo and three others as “persona non grata” and gives them 48 hours to leave the country.

The others are Prof Tarzy Daniel, Dr Ruhana Mirindi Bisimwa and Dr Jean Pierre Murunda.

Burundi Foreign Affairs Minister Ezechiel Nibigira did not deny or confirm the letter in a phone interview, but a source at the ministry confirmed its authenticity to the BBC.

The ministry has not given reasons for the expulsion of the officials.

Burundi government is facing criticism for organising elections amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Campaign rallies by candidates for the presidency are taking place across the nation ahead of the 20 May election and no measures to contain the virus are being observed – sparking fears of its imminent spread.

In a press briefing on Wednesday, the International Crisis Group said the Burundi government is working in denial, questioning the number of coronavirus cases the country has announced.

The country has reported 15 cases so far including one death.

Yemi Alade faults Buhari’s appointment of Gambari as Chief of Staff

Yemi Alade

Nigerian Afro-pop singer Yemi Alade has waded into politics by criticising the appointment of Ibrahim Gambari as President Muhammadu Buhari’s new chief of staff.

Mr Gambari is a retired diplomat and previously served in Mr Buhari’s military government in the 1980s. He replaces Abba Kyari, who died last month from coronavirus.

The fact that he is 75 years old has led to some opposing the appointment, which was the gist of Alade’s tweet.

“We also need young minds… I never said old minds are irrelevant,” she later added.

About Ibrahim Gambari, the new chief of staff to President Buhari

Ibrahim Gambari, Chief of staff to President Muhammadu Buhari.

President Muhammadu Buhari has appointed Ibrahim Gambari, former UN under secretary-general, as his chief of staff.

Boss Mustapha, secretary to the government of the federation, announced the appointment of Gambari at the federal executive council (FEC) virtual meeting on Wednesday.

Gambari replaces Abba Kyari who died on April 17 from COVID-19 complications.

The new chief of staff, who is from Kwara state, was the minister of external affairs from 1984 to 1985 under Buhari’s military regime.

He also served as the under secretary-general of the UN and special adviser to the secretary-general on Africa between 1999 and 2005.

The president’s media team later released the biodata below.

Professor Ibrahim A. Gambari, CFR, OCORT, a scholar-diplomat, is the Founder/Chairman of the Board of Directors of Savannah Centre for Diplomacy, Democracy and Development, a non-governmental think-tank on research, policy studies, advocacy and training on the nexus between conflict prevention and resolution, democratisation and development in Africa.

He has had an illustrious career, spanning academia, government and international diplomacy, culminating with his appointment as the first United Nations Under-Secretary General and Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Africa (1999-2005). He was the Chairman of the United Nations Special Committee Against Apartheid (1990-1994) and on Peace-Keeping Operations (1990—1999). He was Head of the United Nations Department of Political Affairs (2005-2007) and also operated as UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Cyprus, Zimbabwe and Myanmar and Special Representative in Angola.

Earlier, he was Minister of External Affairs (1984-1985) and subsequently Ambassador/Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations (1990-1999). Professor Gambari also served as Joint AU/UN Special Representative in Darfur and Head of UNAMID (2010-2012). He is currently a Chairperson of the Panel of Eminent Persons of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM).

Professor Gambari attended the Provincial (now Government) Secondary School, Ilorin before proceeding to the Floreat Collegium Kings College, Lagos. He received his BSc (Econs) degree from the London School of Economics (1968) and his MA and PhD in Political Science/International Relations (1970, 1974) from Columbia University, USA. He has taught at universities in the Unites States, Nigeria and Singapore and has to his credit the authorship of a number of books.

He has received several academic and national honours, including the “Commander of Federal Republic of Nigeria” (CFR), and the “Order of the Champion of the Oliver R. Tambo” (OCORT) of South Africa. He is the Pioneer Chancellor of the Kwara State University (KWASU), Ilorin, Nigeria, as well as the current Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council of Bayero University, Kano (BUK). He is a married with children and grandchildren.

Malabu: Everything We Know know about the oil scandal

Former President Jonathan speaks on why he is staying away from Politics

Malabu: Everything We Know know about the oil scandal
Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan indicted in the scandalous Malabu oil deal

Former President Goodluck Jonathan says he is staying away from partisan politics because of his non-governmental organisation (NGO).

The former president established the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation, which has peace building, national integration and democratic governance as its focus.

Speaking at the inauguration of the state executive council of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Yenagoa, Bayelsa state, on Sunday, Jonathan said through his foundation he will support the country and his state.

“Don’t be discouraged if you do not see me in most party activities in the state. I decided to appear in this event so that I will not be misunderstood,” he said.

“I’m shifting away from being an effective partisan politician because of my foundation. People who want to partner me feel that if you are a partisan leader in the country, they will eat with you with a long spoon.

“I felt that after serving as President of this country, I should go to some other areas where my services would be required.

“Through that process, I would be able to support the nation and the state in one way or the other.”

Jonathan asked the new PDP state executive council inaugurated by Douye Diri, Bayelsa governor, not to work at “cross purposes” with the governor.

“You have an enormous responsibility before you. You must work with the governor and not at cross purposes,” he said.

“No matter how strong a party is, if the people don’t appreciate you, you would be struggling to have them on your side.

“I know you will work harmoniously with members and carry everyone along.”

We have caught the person that leaked Buhari’s draft speech – Femi Adesina

Femi Adesina, special adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on media and publicity, says the person who leaked the draft speech of the president hours to his last nationwide broadcast, has been caught.

Buhari had addressed the nation on Monday, extending the lockdown in Abuja, Lagos and Ogun by a week.

He also commended health workers on the frontline of the battle against COVID-19 and adopted some of the recommendations of governors about the pandemic.

Among the recommendations he listed for implementation are use of face mask in public, restriction of interstate movement and imposition of dusk to dawn curfew.

A version — full of errors — circulated on social media at least four hours before the president eventually read what was different in some ways from the draft.

In a piece entitled: “Enemies of the state”, Adesina said the individual who leaked the memo had been traced and is now “paying for his evil action”.

“President Muhammadu Buhari was to broadcast to the country by 8 p.m, to give an update on the battle against COVID-19, and what becomes of the lockdown that had lasted four weeks, particularly in the Federal Capital Territory, Lagos and Ogun States. Kano was also a point of heavy interest, with the strange deaths ravaging the state. Was it COVID-19 or not?” Adesina wrote.

“As the country waited for the President with great expectations, a purported copy of the broadcast began to circulate on social media from about 4 p.m. Whodunnit?

“I took a look at the circulating document, and within one minute, I knew that it was a rogue copy. What immediately gave it away was the paragraphing. It was completely different from the one I had been part of producing, and which had been recorded for broadcast by the President.

“If the person that leaked the unedited draft of the broadcast had access to more sensitive national documents, he would do the same thing. If he cottons on information that could sell Nigeria to the enemy, he would gladly do it. Thou art in the midst of foes, watch and pray.

“Igbo people speak of the proverbial lizard that ruined his own mother’s funeral. That was what the hidden hostile hand did. But he forgot that in these days of technology, almost everything leaves a trail. Before the end of that evening, computer evidences had narrowed down the suspect, and he was already answering for his evil action.”

‘Show evidence I’m IPOB’s sponsor’ — Alex Otti to Ikpeazu

Alex Otti, former governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in Abia, has asked Okezie Ikpeazu, the state governor, to show proof of his alleged sponsorship of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

Otti made the demand while responding to a petition Ikpeazu allegedly wrote to the Police Service Commission against him, accusing him of sponsoring the secessionist group.

The governor was alleged to have accused him of being behind the removal of Ene Okon, the state commissioner of police, for failing to release one Emperor Ogbonna whom he said is an ally of Otti.

Reacting via a statement on Thursday, Otti said he does not know Ogbonna and had only intervened in his detention out of concern.

“To set the records straight, I do not know Emperor Ogbonna. I have never met nor spoken to him. So the allegation of him being sponsored by me is laughable,”he said.

“When the plight of the young man was brought to my attention and by then he had been incarcerated for about 3 weeks, I picked up my phone and called CP Okon. I started by telling him that I did not know Mr. Ogbonna but as an Abia citizen, I thought I should intervene.

“I reminded him that this is a democracy and warned him about being used by the Governor and his co travelers to abuse the fundamental human rights of Abians including Emperor Ogbonna.

Otti also said the allegation he is sponsoring IPOB is to “pitch me against the authorities”.

“I make bold to challenge Ikpeazu to come up with proofs to show that I am the sponsor of IPOB or forever hide his head in shame,” he said.

“I consider this as a cheap attempt to pitch me against the authorities which will fail. It was actually his incompetence in dealing with the a small insurrection that ballooned into the python dance.”

The former governorship candidate asked the governor to withdraw the said petition and tender “an unreserved apology to me for defaming my character and false accusation”.

SOURCE: This story was first published and owned by TheCable

Reps want FG to deport of illegal Chinese immigrants

By Leke Baiyewu and Olaleye Aluko, Abuja

The House of Representatives on Tuesday moved a motion seeking relevant government agencies to check the validity of immigration documents of Chinese nationals in Nigeria, to fish out illegal and undocumented immigrants and repatriate them to China.

The bill, titled Maltreatment and Institutional Acts of Racial Discrimination against Nigerians Living in China by the Government of China, was sponsored by Benjamin Okezie Kalu, Yusuf Buba, John Dyegh, Babajimi Benson, Tunji Olawuyi, Zakari Galadima, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, Nnoli Nnaji, Dennis Idahosa and Tolu Shadipe.

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The prayers of the motion as unanimously adopted include; “one, condemn, in its entirety, the maltreatment, discrimination and xenophobic attacks against Nigerians in the Peoples Republic of China; two, urge the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and all relevant agencies to ensure that all Nigerians who wish to return home, including Nigerians that only visited for business, Nigerians with any form of travel document and identification, Nigerians with passports but expired visas, and Nigerians with passports and valid visas who have been ejected by house owners, Nigerians who have tested negative for COVID-19, are evacuated from China and quarantined upon arrival.”

They said, “The bill also urges the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and all relevant agencies to provide all necessary financial and other assistance to affected Nigerian citizens in China who wish to seek redress in any local or international court for breach of fundamental rights, loss of property or any other actionable cause occasioned by their maltreatment or discrimination in China.


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“Four, it mandates the Committees on Interior, Nigeria Content Development and Monitoring, and Commerce to investigate the Nigerian Immigration, Corporate Affairs Commission, Nigerian Content and Development Monitoring Board, and any other relevant Ministry, Department or Agency to check the validity of all immigration documents of every Chinese person in Nigeria and the expatriate quota of all the Chinese businesses in Nigeria to ascertain the number of illegal and undocumented Chinese immigrants in Nigeria and to repatriate them to China.”

Goodluck Jonathan: I don’t have property or bank accounts abroad

Former President Goodluck Jonathan says he has no accounts or property abroad.

Jonathan made the comment in response to a report that the federal government has requested for the statements of public officers including his and his wife, Patience; former ministers of petroleum, Diezani Alison-Madueke and Rilwanu Lukman.

The request was reported to have been made by Abubakar Malami, the attorney general of the federation, to help an ongoing investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) know individuals involved in the Process & Industrial Developments Ltd gas deal.

“Our attention has been drawn to international media reports to the effect that the Federal Government of Nigeria has subpoenaed bank records for former President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife, Dame Patience Jonathan in the United States of America,” the statement signed by Ikechukwu Eze, Jonathan’s spokesman, read.

“We aver that the Federal Government of Nigeria did not contact Dr Jonathan or his wife before issuing these subpoenas. If they had, we would have advised them of the fact that you cannot subpoena what does not exist.”

Eze referenced a comment made by Jonathan during the swearing-in of new ministers on March 5, 2014, when the former president said he had no accounts or property abroad.

“We are confident in stating that between that time and now, nothing has changed with regards to Dr Goodluck Jonathan. He has no accounts in the United States of America and encourages US authorities to cooperate fully with the Federal Government of Nigeria’s subpoena.

“We would also like to state that during his tenure as President of Nigeria, Dr Goodluck Jonathan extended every courtesy to former Presidents and Heads of state because he believed and still believes that promoting, projecting and protecting Nigeria’s sovereignty and the image is the paramount duty of her government because it is not possible to belittle Nigerians without belittling Nigeria.”

Eze said the P&ID contract was signed before the Jonathan administration and that he “gave appropriate counsel to the incoming government in the handover notes of 2015, which advice if carried out, would have prevented the current unfortunate circumstances”.

Nigeria hopes to overturn a $9.7 billion judgement awarded against it for breach of agreement in a botched gas project.

Just in: Buhari seeks for N’Assembly’s approval for N850 billion loan request to fun 2020 budget

President Muhammadu Buhari has asked the national assembly to approve a loan request of N850 billion to fund the 2020 budget.

The president’s request was contained in a letter read by Senate President Ahmad Lawan on Tuesday.

Buhari asked that the loan be raised from the domestic capital market..

Details soon…

Buhari’s draft speech was leaked before broadcast, but by who?

Hours before President Muhammadu Buhari delivered his address to the nation on Monday night, a version — full of errors — was already circulating on social media.

Although the version he eventually read was different in some ways from the draft, presidency officials are livid over the leak, TheCable understands.

In the draft, the lockdown in Lagos, Ogun and the federal capital territory (FCT) was to be lifted on Saturday, May 2, 2020.

But in the broadcast, the president moved the date to Monday, May 4.

Significantly, while the president announced a total lockdown for two weeks in Kano state, the draft only said “the total lockdown recently announced by the State Government shall remain enforced… for the full duration”.

It appears the leaked version was copied from a Microsoft Word document with the original text and edits included, leading to the repetition of many words and phrases.

All these had been cleaned up in the final version read by the president.

TheCable understands that the draft was prepared by a member of the presidential task force on COVID-19 and sent to the office of the secretary to the government of the federation (SGF).

Boss Mustapha is both the SGF and chairman of the task force.

All fingers are now pointing at the SGF office for the leak, although there is also suspicion that the email of the writer might have been hacked.

A few days ago, a memo to Mustapha by the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) was also scanned and leaked on social media.

In the letter, the forum made recommendations on the easing of lockdowns nationwide.

Some of the recommendations — including use of face mask in public, restriction of interstate movement and imposition of dusk to dawn curfew — were adopted by the president.

Abdullahi Ganduje

Coronavirus: Nigerian govt has abandoned Kano – Ganduje

Abdullahi Ganduje
Abdullahi Ganduje

The Kano State governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, has accused the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 of neglecting the state in its current battle against coronavirus spread.

Mr Ganduje said this in an interview with BBC Hausa Service on Monday.

He said, “We are in a serious problem. I can tell you the situation is really bad and scary. Because what we solely rely upon in fighting the disease is the testing centre.

“This laboratory suspended its operation five or six days ago. There is also a shortage of sample collection equipment. It is not a common equipment that you can go and buy in the market. Those whose samples were collected are still waiting to know their fate.”

The governor also noted that “the problem (is) with the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19. Even its Director General was in Kano. He spent a night there, but we have not heard from him again. The minister (of health) too knows the laboratory is not working.

He added, “there is serious problem. We have been complaining that Kano needs more than one testing centre, right from the beginning of this (pandemic).”

Excerpt

BBC: “If we understand you, there is problem. Are you saying you are not getting any support from federal government agencies on the fight against COVID-19?”

Ganduje: “Sincerely speaking, we are not getting deserved attention. If these equipment (testing centre) are under our control, we will do our best to make sure it works properly. But we are not getting the needed support and cooperation from from Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.”

Meanwhile, the minister of health, Osagie Ehanire, on Sunday said, the COVID-19 testing centre in Kano will resume operations on Monday.

The minister said this when he featured on Channels television’s Sunday Politics

He equally said a delegation will be sent to the state “to thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding some mysterious deaths in the state”.

New book shows how corruption took root in democratic South Africa

By Mcebisi Ndletyana, University of Johannesburg

In evidence before a commission of inquiry investigating corruption, South Africans have been treated to shocking revelations about brazen looting of state coffers. Ín his new book, Anatomy of the ANC in Power: Insights from Port Elizabeth, 1990—2019, Mcebisi Ndletyana shows how the governing African National Congress (ANC) failed to enforce a strict moral code to guide its conduct in government when it took power in 1994, which laid the ground for malfeasance. Below is an edited extract from the book.

“Amandla, ANC, ANC!” (Power, ANC, ANC!), the chants reverberated throughout the municipal chamber. It was just after 3pm on 6 November 1995. The commotion was unusual for the customarily restrained municipal council proceedings.

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It marked a similarly rare occasion.

For the first time in its 134-year history, the port city of Port Elizabeth, on eastern shore of South Africa, had elected a black man, Nceba Faku, as its 53rd mayor. Faku’s election, on an ANC ticket, followed a string of white males who had occupied the mayoralty since the establishment of the municipality in 1861. Unlike his predecessors, Faku had served two stints in prison and was once denounced as a terrorist for his role in the struggle against apartheid.

His election was truly a signal that the democratic change that started in the country in 1994 , had not only permeated throughout the structures of governance, but was also irreversible.

In reality though, local government remained largely untransformed throughout the 1990s. New legislation was still relatively absent. This lacuna allowed for the continued application of old apartheid practices. One of these was allowing councillors to adjudicate over the allocation of tenders. Previous councillors had abused this to advance their own their business interests.

The new democratic city council proceeded in a similar fashion, and council regulations allowed councillors to enter into business contracts with the municipality. Before doing so, however, they had to secure consent from the council and exempt themselves from any decision-making process related to their interests.

But, councillors did not always seek consent to bid for municipal work.


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Licence to loot

Using the opportunity offered by their presence in council for business interests, or to generate alternative sources of income, was enticing for the new councillors. They only received allowances. For those to whom the allowance was the only source of income, being a councillor was an attractive opportunity to augment one’s income.

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It was common for councillors, says Errol Heynes – who was deputy mayor at the time – to be approached by business people with bribes to vote for their being awarded a tender. According to Mthetheleli Ngcete, who was one of the councillors, some councillors approached them with stacks of money showing that they had been bribed.

Involvement in business also pitted councillors against each other. Some clashed over the same business deal. A prominent example happened in the late 1990s, over the plot of land where the Boardwalk Casino and Entertainment World complex stands today.

It involved two companies, Emfuleni Resorts and Siyalanda Property Development. Siyalanda Property Development was publicly associated with councillor Sicelo Kani, while unconfirmed names of some councillors were connected to Emfuleni Resorts. Both companies made a bid for the same plots. The council could not decide, for a considerable period of time, which of the two companies should be sold the plots.

The council seemed to prefer selling to Emfuleni, whereas the executive committee appeared to favour Siyalanda. Emfuleni eventually built the casino, following a court decision in February 2000. Instead of insisting on buying the land, Emfuleni had switched to the easier option of leasing, to which the municipality agreed.

Before the lengthy wrangle was resolved, however, it had wrought serious damage on the ANC. In the midst of the impasse the executive committee was reshuffled. Five of its members – Mandla Madwara, Rory Riordan, Mcebisi Msizi, Khaya Mkefa and Errol Heynes – were removed. The dismissal was unceremonious.

 

They were not directly informed of their removal, but read about it in the newspapers. Madwara, Msizi and Heynes were, at the time, away in China on council business. Mike Xego, a prominent local ANC leader, narrates the story rather theatrically:

Bagxothwa bese China. Kogqitywa bafowunelwa kwathiwa “buyani sanuba sayenza na lonto ben” iyele apho. Anisena magunya”. [They were fired whilst in China and phoned to come back immediately since they had no standing anymore].

The ANC justified the reshuffle on the grounds of supposed poor performance by the five councillors. Heynes was personally blamed for the ANC’s poor showing amongst coloured voters in the 1999 national elections that had taken place earlier that year. The term ‘coloured’ is an apartheid-era label used to refers to people of mixed European (‘white’) and African (‘black’) or Asian ancestry.

Madwara and his colleagues accepted the decision, but rejected the supposed reasons for their removal. The claim that Madwara and his colleagues were fired on account of poor performance was spurious. It assumed that their performance would have been evaluated. None of them were. Ngcete, who succeeded Madwara as chairperson of the municipalily’s executive committee, also does not recall ever being subjected to a performance evaluation when he was a councillor.

No accountability

Close scrutiny of the municipal performance disputes the assertion of poor performance. The mayor, Faku, with whom they occasionally disagreed, was complimentary about their performance. In his mayoral speech, made on 23 September 2000 – a year after the reshuffle – Faku singled out Madwara and Riordan as deserving of special praise for gaining the Port Elizabeth Municipality “the reputation as one of the most competent municipalities in the country”.

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Ismael Momoniat, deputy director-general at the country’s National Treasury, recalls Riordan as a particularly competent city treasurer (as they were called then). As a result, according to Heynes, the municipality enjoyed a triple-A rating, which meant that its finances were sound, had reserves and could easily borrow.

Incompetence had nothing to do with the reshuffle. The real reasons, according to Mabhuti Dano, were their involvement in business and lack of accountability. They had used their positions in the executive committee, Dano explains, to advance their business interests.

Even if Madwara and his colleagues had business interests, they were not the only ones in positions of influence with such. The mayor, Faku, was a director at the construction company, Murray and Roberts, but survived the chop. Just as the 1990s came to a close, it became apparent that disputes were not settled objectively, but were swayed by personalities and factional support one enjoyed within the organisation.

COVER PHOTO: The ANC, which has governed South Africa since 1994, has failed to deal decisively against corruption in its midst.
EFE-EPA/Yeshiel Panchia

Mcebisi Ndletyana’s book, Anatomy of the ANC in Power: Insights from Port Elizabeth, 1990 – 2019., is published by HSRC Press.

Mcebisi Ndletyana, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Johannesburg

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Nigeria to reduce price of petrol

Nigeria’s government is to cut the price of petrol as global crude oil prices plummet.

A litre will cost 125 naira ($0.34, £0.29), down from 145 naira.

“This action is being taken to cushion the economic impact of Covid-19 on our people,” the Reuters news agency quotes Petroleum Minister Timipre Sylva as saying.

Despite being one of Africa’s largest oil producers, Nigeria has to import most of the fuel used in the country.

Oshiomhole begs for forgiveness from APC members

Adams Oshiomhole, national chairman of the All Progressives Congress APC

Adams Oshiomhole, national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), has asked members of the party for forgiveness, saying no one is perfect.

Speaking on Tuesday at the end of the national working committee (NWC) meeting of the party, Oshiomhole said he has also forgiven those who offended him.

The embattled party chairman said the NWC has also resolved that aggrieved members would withdraw all pending cases in court.

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Oshiomhole also announced that the suspension of two members of the NWC had been lifted, which is part of the measures to revolving the crisis within the party.

“We have also resolved that we are going to withdraw all cases in court that any member of the NEC is involved in so that we must lead by example and we have shown that we are capable of managing ourselves and therefore we do not need the minister to help us resolve what we are capable of resolving,” Oshiomhole said.

“People have issues which they feel strongly about, and as a result the NWC took some decisions which affected my friend and brother, Senator Lawal Shuaibu, deputy national chairman north. The NWC had a reason for suspending him as at then.

“Today we have reviewed the situation and we believe that in the spirit of our renewed commitment to build unity and true reconciliation, we as leaders of the party elected at the convention should live by example.


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“And that means for those we think have offended the system, we have chosen to lift their suspensions. Senator Lawal Shuaibu can resume his duties as deputy national chairman, north.

“We also reviewed the matter of Inuwa Abdulkadir, national vice chairman northwest. By the same spirit, the NWC was unanimous in lifting the suspension and he resumes work with immediate effect.

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“I have asked everyone and they have accepted. Whatever they consider to be my own shortcomings, I have asked for forgiveness and they have forgiven. And whatever I considered to be anyone’s shortcoming that irritated me, I have also forgiven. This is the way it should be. It can only be abnormal if people know how to fight and they do not know how to settle.”

The crisis in the leadership of the ruling party had deepened after Danlami Senchi, a judge of the federal capital territory (FCT) high court in Abuja, ordered the suspension of Oshiomhole.

On Monday, a court of appeal sitting in Abuja restrained the party from executing the judgement which ordered Oshiomhole’s suspension.

SOURCE: The Cable

I know what to do to take back my throne – Sanusi

Muhammad Sanusi II, the deposed emir of Kano, says his removal was so badly done that he could have challenged it in court if he wanted the throne back. 

Sanusi was dethroned on Monday by the Kano state government who accused him of insubordination. 

He was subsequently moved to Loko and later Awe, both in Nasarawa state. However, he arrived in Lagos on Friday following a court order granting him freedom. 

In a video circulating on social media, Sanusi said the dethronement letter sent by Kano government was poorly written and it would have been easy for him to proceed to the court to challenge it. 

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“I have done what I could in six years, I’m moving on. I don’t want to go back. The truth is, if I had wanted to go back, the dethronement letter was so badly written, it was not done professionally. The easiest thing is just to go to court,” he said.

“It’s simple, fair hearing, ‘did you query him? Did you ask him to defend himself? Did you even call him to ask him any question?’ That’s all but I think we should go on to a new phase in life.”


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Sanusi said it could be difficult for him, but his removal is not an issue as he has no reason to be sad or depressed. 

Below is the video:

PHOTOS: Sanusi full of smiles as he receives el-Rufai in Awe

Muhammad Sanusi II, deposed emir of Kano, was all smiles as he received Nasir el-Rufai, the governor of Kaduna state, in his ”exile home” at Awe, Nasarawa state, on Friday.

El-Rufai, who recently appointed Sanusi as vice-chairman of Kaduna Investment Promotion Agency (KADIPA), greeted the ex-monarch with a bow as they shook hands.

Below are photos.

Man who charged at Buhari wanted to greet him – Presidency

The man who charged at President Muhammadu Buhari in Kebbi wanted to greet the president, an official has said.

The incident occurred when Mr Buhari visited Kebbi Thursday.

The president’s spokesperson, Femi Adesina, in a statement said the claim that the man wanted to attack Mr Buhari was false.

“As the President went round the arena to inspect rice pyramids on display, and take photographs with farmers, a young man was so very excited to see his President so close. He made an attempt to get to him.

“World over, such would not be allowed by security details. The young man was prevented, and he protested that he should be allowed to greet his President.” Mr Adesina said.

An eyewitness the man was whisked away by security agents.

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The witness, who worked with one of the organisations that organised the event, said he witnessed the young man being whisked away.

“I saw when they descended on him and took him away. I doubt if he is still alive,” said the source who was not authorised by his organisation to speak on the issue.

Read Mr Adesina’s full statement below.


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ALLEGED ATTACK ON PRESIDENT BUHARI IN KEBBI: CONTORTIONISTS AT WORK AGAIN

President Muhammadu Buhari was in Kebbi State Thursday to declare open the Argungu Fishing and Cultural Festival. It was the first time the international tourism event would hold in eleven years, as security considerations had rendered it impracticable.

As the President went round the arena to inspect rice pyramids on display, and take photographs with farmers, a young man was so very excited to see his President so close. He made an attempt to get to him.

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World over, such would not be allowed by security details. The young man was prevented, and he protested that he should be allowed to greet his President. Now, professional contortionists are making mischief of the event. They are passing the video clip off on social media as an attempt to attack the President.

Malicious people always twist things to give a negative narrative. But they simply dash their heads against the wall. The country moves on.

Femi Adesina
Special Adviser to the President

SOURCE: Premium Times

Senate approves HND as minimum qualification for president, govs

The Senate, on Thursday, passed for second reading, a constitution amendment bill which prescribes Higher National Diploma or its equivalent as the educational qualification required for anyone seeking to contest the office of the Nigerian President or state governors.

The bill sponsored by a member of the Peoples Democratic Party from Plateau State, Senator Isfifanus Gyang, also prescribes National Diploma or its equivalent as the minimum qualification for federal and state lawmakers.

The bill seeks to alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to provide for the amendment of Sections 65 (2) (a), and 131 (d).

It will also amend Section 106 (c) and Section 177 (d) on minimum education qualification for those seeking election into the State Assembly, Governor, National Assembly and office of the President.

The bill seeks the alteration of section 65 (2) (a) of the Constitution which deals with the qualifications for intending members of the National Assembly

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The current law, which the bill seeks to amend reads, “A person shall be qualified for election under subsection (1) of this section if he has been educated up to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent.”

Section 65 (2) (a) has now been rephrased to read “if he has been educated to at least a National Diploma level or its equivalent.”

The bill also seeks the alteration of Section 131 (d) which deals with minimum requirements for anyone running for the office of the governor.

The current Section of the Constitution states that the person must have “been educated up to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent”.

Section 131 (d) is now rephrased to read, “He has been educated up to at least HND level or’ its equivalent.”

For House of Assembly, the bill seeks the alteration of section 106 (c) of the Constitution.

According to the existing law, anyone aspiring to be a member of the House of Assembly must have “been educated up to at least the School Certificate level or its equivalent”.


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But Section 106 (c) is now rephrased to read, “If he has been educated up to National diploma level or its equivalent.”

The bill seeks the alteration of section 177 (d) of the Constitution for governors.

As it is currently, the Section states that the person must have “been educated up to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent”.

However, Section 177 (d) is now rephrased to read, “If he has been educated up to at least Higher National Diploma Level or its equivalent.”

The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, referred the bill to the Committee on Constitution Review after the senators passed the proposed amendment for second reading.

Why a rise in court cases is bad for Nigeria’s democracy

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari at a campaign rally ahead of the 2019 general elections.
Stefan Heunis/AFP via Getty Images

By Ini Dele-Adedeji, University of Bristol

One year after the 2019 general elections in Nigeria, courts are still busy deciding who the winners were in dozens of them.

One of the most recent cases was in Bayelsa State . The candidate of the All Progressives Congress was initially thought to have won the election. But, he was sacked by the Supreme Court 24 hours before his swearing-in ceremony because, the court found, his running mate had presented fake documents and was therefore disqualified. You can’t be a candidate without a qualified running mate.

There is also a case in Imo State. There, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party was sworn into office like others on 29 May 2019. But he was removed by the Supreme Court following a dispute over the electoral result. In its ruling, the court declared the candidate of the All Progressives Congress the winner. He’d come fourth at the polls.

Looking at the rate at which courts, rather than the electorate, end up determining actual winners of the polls, is the credibility of the Nigerian elections at stake?

I believe the answer is yes.

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The power to determine who is elected into political office ought to be decided by voters. Judicial recourse is perfectly allowed and is preferable to extra-judicial measures to redress perceived electoral slights. But this should be an exceptional option taken to rectify an electoral impropriety of some sort.

But, it’s not the exception in Nigeria. The Independent National Electoral Commission recently announced that it had so far withdrawn 64 certificates of return –documents issued to election winners – and reissued them to people declared winners by courts of law following the 2019 general elections. The election saw 1,031 candidates contested for presidential, governorship, national assembly and state houses of assembly seats.

The reality is that there’s merit to a large majority of the cases brought before the law courts seeking electoral redress. This is because electoral malpractice has become part of Nigeria’s electoral culture. These malpractices take place before, during and after elections. Some of the most common examples include multiple thumb-printing, falsification of result sheets, fake ballot papers, manipulation of voter registration and the use of violence to disrupt voting.

The history

There is precedence for the Nigerian courts acting as a last resort in cases of electoral result disputes. Arguably the most monumental episode was the case between the late Obafemi Awolowo and late Shehu Shagari following the 1979 presidential election.

Awolowo, a Nigerian nationalist and statesman who played a key role in the country’s independence movement, was a presidential candidate of the Unity Party of Nigeria in that year’s poll. Shagari, was a presidential candidate of the National Party of Nigeria. Shagari won, emerging as Nigeria’s first democratically elected president.

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But Awolowo contested Shagari’s victory on the grounds that it had not satisfied the requirement in the electoral decree of the time that the winner had to secure one quarter of the votes cast in two thirds of all the states of the federation.

The election tribunal dismissed Awolowo’s claim and the case came before the Supreme Court. The judges also ruled in favour of Shagari except for the dissenting judgment of Justice Kayode Eso.

The current situation is different because of the rate at which election results are being annulled. This means that the courts are essentially determining the winners.

It unnecessarily places the courts and judges under the spotlight and the attendant pressure that comes with it, since it shifts the role of the judiciary from being an umpire to an arbiter.

Courts have upturned several electoral victories since after the 2019 polls.
Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP via Getty Images

Weaknesses in the system

Nigeria has a strong Electoral Act. It has been amended a few times over the years and it is not different from the electoral constitutions being used in other democratic climes.

But the law can only go so far. The bigger problem is an absence of strong democratic institutions to support it. The strengthening of democratic institutions, I would argue, would result in an increase in free and fair elections.


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In particular the electoral commission and the police force need to be strengthened. The police are usually left out during elections. Instead of being trained and given the wherewithal to assist electoral commission officials in safeguarding voters, electoral officials and ballot centres, the army is usually deployed during elections. This puts the police and army at cross purposes. It also increases the possibility of violence ensuing.

Another problem is the Independent National Electoral Commission. The root of a lot of the election-related cases brought before the courts can be traced to its limited ability to anticipate and address known recurring election-related problems. Examples include it’s inability to secure ballot boxes and tally votes in a timely fashion.

These things could be achieved if the commission was strengthened by the executive and given the statutory, logistical, financial support, and independence it requires.

Voters are often left with a shorter end of the stick.
Adekunle Ajayi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Who benefits?

Politicians – and those close to them – are the only ones to benefit from the current state of affairs. The Nigerian voting public will always come off worse. This is because voters are likely to become apathetic about voting if they feel that their vote doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Low voter turnout is an indictment of the electoral process.

In addition, the argument over whether the courts are partial or impartial is a moot one. The fact remains that appointments to positions in almost every aspect of Nigeria’s public sector are politically influenced. Nigerians are, therefore, right to question the partiality – or otherwise – of the courts.

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The current trend also has the potential to embolden politicians to forego the polls and instead try to “win” elections by influencing the judiciary in underhand ways.

Making a habit of by-passing elections as a means of determining elected officials due to electoral irregularities, and forcing the judiciary to constantly have to annul elections doesn’t bode well for Nigeria’s fledgling democracy.


Ini Dele-Adedeji, Research Associate, University of Bristol

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Muhammadu Sanusi II

Sanusi replaced with son of former leader

A regional government in northern Nigeria has appointed a new Emir of Kano – hours after dethroning the previous traditional ruler who has been caught up in a prolonged dispute with the state governor.

Muhammadu Sanusi II

Kano state said Muhammadu Sanusi II had disrespected the regional authorities.

After he was taken away from the palace by security forces, the son of a former emir – Aminu Ado Bayero – was installed in his place.

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Muhammadu Sanusi II became the emir in 2014 shortly after he was sacked as the central bank governor, after exposing massive corruption in the oil sector.

As emir he was critical of some government policies that put him at loggerheads with politicians.

Muhammadu Sanusi II

Sanusi dethroned as Emir of Kano for ‘disrespect’

The Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, one of Nigeria’s most influential Muslim traditional leaders, has been removed from his throne.

Muhammadu Sanusi II
Muhammadu Sanusi II

He was deposed for showing “insubordination” to the authorities in the northern state of Kano.

Mr Sanusi, an ex-central bank chief, has had frosty relations with Kano Governor Abdullahi Ganduje since 2017.

His supporters believe he was sacked for opposing Mr Ganduje’s re-election last year.

Traditional leaders in Nigeria hold few constitutional powers but are able to exert significant influence as they are seen as custodians of both religion and tradition.

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Mr Sanusi was seen as a reformist and had been critical of some government policies – a stance that frequently put him at loggerheads with ruling politicians, reports the BBC’s Nigeria reporter Ishaq Khalid.

The emir has been removed from the palace in the city of Kano by security forces. It is not clear where he has been taken, but by tradition he will be expected to live in exile outside the emirate for the rest of his life, our reporter says.

Aminu Ado Bayero, the son of Mr Sanusi’s predecessor who ruled Kano for more than half a century until his death in 2014, has been chosen as the new emir by the local authorities.

Why was he sacked?

The government said he was removed “in order to safeguard the sanctity, culture, tradition, religion and prestige of the Kano emirate”, accusing the emir of “total disrespect” of institutions and the governor’s office.

Presentational grey line

The emir’s role

  • Absolute power before British colonial rule
  • Became part of colonial administration
  • Few constitutional powers since independence
  • Seen as custodian of religion and tradition
  • Revered in the mainly Muslim north
Presentational grey line

Since the emir and governor fell out, Mr Sanusi has not attended state functions and official meetings, which the government said amounted to “total insubordination”.

The emir’s refusal to appear before a panel investigating allegations of corruption against him also did not go down well with the government.

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He is accused of selling property and mismanaging emirati funds but he secured a court order stopping the probe.

After last year’s election, Mr Ganduje, who is a powerful figure within Nigeria’s governing All Progressives Congress (APC) party, split the Kano emirate into five and appointed four more emirs – to weaken Mr Sanusi’s influence.

Emir of Kano on horseback at a durbar for his coronation in 2014 in Kano, Nigiera
Image captionThe emir was crowned with much pomp and ceremony in 2014

Mr Sanusi is not shy about voicing his opinions, which some say is a break with the tradition that an emir be seen and not heard.

Last month, he said fathers who sent their children out to beg for alms should be arrested.

In the past he criticised what he described as the “ultra-conservative interpretation of Islam” in some parts of northern Nigeria that has discouraged the education of girls, family planning and other progressive policies.

Who is Mr Sanusi?

Born into the Fulani royal family, Lamido Sanusi became the 14th Emir of Kano in 2014 after the death of Ado Bayero.

He described the post, which carries enormous weight among Nigeria’s northern Muslims, as a life-long ambition.

Presentational grey line

Five things about Muhammad Sanusi II

  • Born into the Fulani royal family, Lamido Sanusi became governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria in 2009
  • He was sacked in 2014 after revealing that $20bn (£12bn) in oil revenue had gone missing
  • TIME magazine named him in its list of influential people in 2011
  • In 2013, he was awarded a special award at the Global Islamic Finance Awards for his role in promoting Islamic banking and finance in Nigeria
  • He became the 14th Emir of Kano in 2014 and is the grandson of the 11th Emir
Presentational grey line

In the mid-1990s he quit a well-paid job as banking risk manager to deepen his knowledge of Arabic and Islamic studies by going to study in Sudan.

Long before he became emir, he opposed the adoption of Islamic law in some northern states, arguing that there were more pressing issues that needed to be dealt with.

But it was as governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria that he gained notoriety.


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His whistle-blowing over $20bn (£12bn) allegedly missing from the state oil company caused a storm that led to his suspension by then President Goodluck Jonathan. The government denied that any money was missing.

Mr Sanusi challenged the suspension in court but was still sacked from the role. He later withdrew the court case.

Critics say he has a holier-than-thou attitude and have wondered why he refused to appear before the panel investigating corruption allegations against him.

What is happening in Guinea-Bissau?

One of the two men declared president of Guinea-Bissau has resigned from the post after just one full day in office, saying his life was in danger.

The elections in December were disputed

Cipriano Cassamá was chosen by lawmakers as president following disputed elections in December.

This was despite the fact that former army general Umaro Cissoko Embaló had already been sworn in as president at a hotel in the capital, Bissau.

Currently on the streets of the capital ministry buildings are closed and surrounded by armed guards, as the country lurches through a protracted crisis that some parliamentarians are calling a coup.

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A truck of soldiers from a regional force, deployed to the country about eight years ago, are guarding the home of Aristides Gomes, one of two men laying claim to the post of prime minister.

The soldiers are perched on their white truck, with a mounted machine-gun pointed outward and at the ready.

Mr Gomes’ home is just a few hundred metres from the presidential palace.


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On the same street, the Ministries of Finance, Justice and Fisheries are all closed and guarded by armed officers.

But residents appear to be continuing with their daily lives – cashew vendors are still on the streets, and residents are still withdrawing money from cash machines along Avenue Amilcar Cabral, named after the revolutionary who led Guinea-Bissau’s campaign for independence.

Guinea-Bissau president resigns after one day

One of the two men who had been declared president of Guinea Bissau resigned his office on Sunday – after just one full day in office.

Cipriano Cassamá was made interim president by the PAIGC party

Despite not being in the December ballot Cipriano Cassamá was appointed by parliament, the majority of whose deputies have refused to acknowledge the election victory of the former opposition leader, Umaro Sissoco Embalol.

Mr Embalol was sworn in as head of state at a luxury hotel on Thursday after the electoral commission had again declared him the winner of December’s presidential vote.

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The ruling PAIGC party is contesting that result in the Supreme Court.

Despite the resignation of one president, Guinea-Bissau still has two rival prime ministers.

Cameroon protest over Macron’s ‘Biya insult’

Scores of young people protested outside the French embassy in Cameroon’s capital, Yaoundé, over what they say were “insulting” remarks made by French President Emmanuel Macron about his Cameroonian counterpart Paul Biya.

It came after a video went viral on social media over the weekend of President Macron telling a Cameroonian activist in Paris that he had pressured Mr Biya to release opposition leader Maurice Kamto – who was eventually freed from jail after nine months in October 2019.

In the video, the French president was also heard saying that there were “intolerable human rights violations” taking place in Cameroon where a deadly separatist insurgency in the English-speaking regions over the last three years has forced more than 700,000 people from their homes.

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“I will call President Biya next week and we will put maximum pressure so that the situation ends,” Mr Macron told the activist.

The remarks have not been taken kindly by authorities in Yaoundé.

“We are comfortable with our president. He is a man of peace,” shouted one protester.

“France has no lessons to give Cameroon and Macron must apologise for insinuating that our president is his stooge,” said another.

On protester carried a placard asking Mr Macron to have respect for his elders, emphasising the fact that Cameroon was a sovereign state.

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Civil activist Yvone Mumah Biya said the authorities were behind the protest.

“This is political manipulation. Somebody somewhere thinks they have not done their job well, and they think they can go and mobilise these youths,” she told the BBC.

Widespread irregularities marred last year's poll

Malawi sets date for fresh elections after annulment

Malawi’s parliament has passed a law that sets 19 May 2020 as the date for fresh presidential elections.

Widespread irregularities marred last year's poll
Widespread irregularities marred last year’s poll

Last May’s polls, which handed victory to President Peter Mutharika, were nullified earlier this month by the Constitutional Court citing widespread irregularities.

The challenge was brought by two opposition candidates – Lazarus Chakwera and Saulos Chilima – whose lawyers said some tallying forms had been doctored with Tipp-Ex, and that some polling officials sent in the wrong copy of the results sheet to the main tallying centre.

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The new law passed on Monday includes provision for a run-off presidential election to be held if no candidate wins a 50% plus one majority, Malawi24 reports.

It also reports that parliament passed a bill to ensure that the electoral commission’s chairperson is first nominated by the Judicial Service Commission, then appointed by the president on the recommendation of the Public Appointments Committee.

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Other members of the electoral commission will be appointed on recommendation of the Public Appointments Committee following nominations from political parties represented in parliament, Malawi24 adds.

Ondo state declares holiday ahead of Buhari visit

Nigeria’s Ondo state government has declared Tuesday a holiday as it hosts President Muhammadu Buhari.

The state’s communications office announced that all state workers would not have to report to work so they would have the time to welcome the president.

Ondo Governor Arakunrin Akeredolu invited Mr Buhari to open various projects as part of festivities to mark his third year in office.

He tweeted that the industrial hub the president would be opening already had six factories – one of which was a cassava-to-ethanol facility.

The president is also expected to open a flyover.

The festivities to celebrate Governor Akeredolu’s anniversary started on 21 February and are scheduled to end on 1 March, according to a programme of events shared on social media.

Former President Hosni Mubarak in ICU

Egypt’s former President Hosni Mubarak dies

Egyptian state media reports that Hosni Mubarak has died aged 91.

Former President Hosni Mubarak in ICU

Former President Mubarak ruled Egypt for three decades.

After being forced from office during the protests that engulfed parts of the Arab world in 2011, he was tried and found guilty of complicity in the killing of protesters during the uprising.

That conviction was overturned and he was freed in March 2017.

More details to follow…

Somalia is very close to first democratic election in half a century

Landmark law expected to replace clan system and lay groundwork for long-awaited ‘one person, one vote’ poll.

Somalia’s president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, has signed a federal law that could trigger ‘historic’ change, according to the national independent electoral commission. Photograph: Vladimir Smirnov/Tass

The president of Somalia has signed a landmark federal law, paving the way for the country to hold its first popular election in half a century.

A long awaited “one person, one vote” election could be held by the end of the year.

“It is such a historic time for Somalia, this bill will give Somali people the right to political participation, which they have been denied for 50 years,” said Halima Ismail, chair of the national independent electoral commission.

The law is expected to replace the existing clan-based, power-sharing model, which gives the country’s main clans equal representation in government.

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The proposed system would still ensure clan representation in parliament, however, which has raised concerns about the potential for continued marginalisation of minorities and women. Analysts have questioned whether the country is ready for a popular election.

“Although it is different this time, the clan element is still there,” said Ismail. “But parliament will put in place necessary measures to make sure women get their 30% seats reserved.

“We are not there yet, but we have come a long way. There was a time when women had only 4% representation in parliament.”

The last time Somalia had a universal suffrage election was in 1969. Following that were decades of dictatorship, civil war and relentless terrorist attacks.

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In a desperate attempt to stop the bloodshed and restore law and order, Somali leaders – with backing from the UN – agreed on a clan-based form of governance known as the “4.5 system”. Under this system, parliamentary seats and most government positions are divided equally among the four major clans, with the remainder allocated to a cluster of minority clans.

This model, which was meant to be a temporary measure to mitigate clan conflict, has become a never-ending problem.

“It is unfortunate that we are still talking about 4.5 clan elections,” said Ismail. “It is not a viable option. People should be free to elect the person they want based on merit, someone they can hold accountable, but this primitive clan system is taking us back whenever we try to move forward.”

Somali women have long struggled to navigate a male-dominated culture where traditional tribal elders select their representatives in parliament, excluding them from decision-making.


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But there has been significant progress in recent years thanks to sustained campaigns by Somali women and pressure from the international community, which has been supporting the country’s nascent democratic progress.

In 2016, a 30% parliamentary gender quota was introduced, giving women more leverage to demand greater influence and representation.

In the current government women make up 24% of the 275 representatives in parliament, 10% more following the 2012 election.

“Women are powerless only when they are outside the political space,” said Ikraam Hirsi, who was among a wave of young politicians who dared to challenge the status quo in the last election.

“But once we are in the parliament we have equal votes and have even proven to be more capable and more committed than men.”

Hirsi said she is planning to seek another term to continue the fight for gender equality in Somalia. “Our target is not just 30%,” she said. “We have to demand our constitutional rights for full political participation, we will not stop there until we reach our goal.”

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The passing of the law is seen as a milestone by the government and its international partners but many critics, including major opposition leaders and federal member states, say they have not been fully consulted on the changes.

“Given the current political and security situation, a one person, one vote election does not seem feasible,” said Abdimalik Abdullahi, a Somali political analyst.

“Two important federal member states [Puntland and Jubaland] are at loggerheads with the government. There is also a high tension in Gedo region between military forces loyal to the federal government and Jubaland security forces, which could blow into a full-scale conflict.”

Of particular concern to the opposition parties is article 53 of the electoral law, which says elections will be postponed in the event of a national disaster such as floods, famine or armed conflict. The article is seen as a mechanism that the government could use to extend its term.

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Earlier this month, the regional government of Puntland closed the offices of the national independent electoral commission and called for a meeting of the federal member states to discuss critical issues about the elections and the country’s federalism project.

“Puntland administration had closed our offices but they have not boycotted Somalia’s general election,” said Ismail. “They have called for an inclusive dialogue and we hope something good will come out of the expected talks.

“As a commission we have made all necessary preparations for a general election. Every technical detail has been put in place, but it is up to the Somali political leaders to come together and reach consensus on the way forward. If only there is political will among the Somali elites, then it is possible to hold a one person, one vote election by the end of the year.”

Buhari’s government denies spying on social media users

Nigeria’s ministry of communications has denied reports that it has been spying on mobile phone and social media users.

This comes after a fake statement went viral and caused panic by claiming that all mobile phones are connected to the ministry’s systems and that government officials are monitoring conversations.

A spokesperson for Communication Minister Isa Ali Pantami has urged Nigerians to “disregard the [viral] message and delete” upon receipt.

“The office of the Honourable Minister, initially ignored the message which has been in the public domain for some time, so as not to give undue attention to the originators,” Ms Suleiman wrote.false

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“But its spread, the efforts of well-meaning Nigerians to get clarity and the need to ensure that all Nigerians are properly informed, has necessitated this disclaimer/public awareness”.