Wednesday, 20 September 2017
Headliners

Headliners (1730)

At least 18 African Union troops were killed in a deadly ambush in the Lower Shabelle region by al-Shabab militants, officials and security sources told VOA Somali.

The attack, near near Golweyn village, 120 kilometers south of Mogadishu, targeted a supply convoy of 24 vehicles near the town of Bulo Marer.

Al-Shabab claimed killing 39 AU soldiers, but military officials say that figure is exaggerated.

The convoy of Ugandan soldiers was as part of AMISOM that left Shalanbod town.

Residents in Jeerow village also told VOA Somali that they saw al-Shabab fighters dragging the bodies of two soldiers

AU military spokesman Wilson Rono confirmed the ambush in an interview with VOA Somali.

“There was an IED [Improvised Explosive Device] that was made on the road that hit our convoy and then they followed that up with an ambush, but so far we have not gotten the details of the casualties on both sides,” he said.

Rono denied the figure claimed by al-Shabab.

“That figure is farfetched.”

AMISOM exit strategy

The attack comes a day after AU and Somali government officials concluded a five-day conference where they discussed transitioning security responsibilities from the AU peacekeepers to the Somali national security forces. AMISOM said it will start gradual transfer of responsibilities next year.

A statement issued at the conclusion of the conference said the transition is “real and must happen, but will be gradual and conditions-based”.

The statement also said the commanders of AMISOM and Somali national forces will hold a meeting in August for a joint, coordinated operation against al-Shabab “for the rest of 2017 and beyond”.

Deputy Governor of Lower Shabelle Ali Nur Mohamed, whose region sees relentless al-Shabab attacks, says “politicization” of the rebuilding of Somali national army is delaying the process. Mohamed was referring to the apparent divisions within the Somali national army in his region.

He said some members of the national army have left the region following the infighting, which he says created a vacuum in the troops’ capability to operate alongside the AU troops.

“It was five years ago when AU and Somali troops came here in this region, but their operations have been politicized by the officials in previous governments and AMISOM officials themselves,” he said.

He said the Somali government needs to make its own plans.

Mogadishu explosion

Meanwhile, at least 10 people were killed and 15 others were wounded in a massive suicide car bomb attack Sunday in the Somali capital, witnesses and security sources said.

Burning vehicles are seen outside Midnimo mall after a car bomb attack on a popular mall in Mogadishu, Somalia, July 30, 2017.
Burning vehicles are seen outside Midnimo mall after a car bomb attack on a popular mall in Mogadishu, Somalia, July 30, 2017.

The car that exploded was in a line of vehicles on Maka Al-Mukarama road, Mogadishu’s busiest street, witnesses said.

A VOA Somali service reporter who went to the scene said the car was stuck in a traffic jam due to intensive stop and search operations by the security forces. The bomber then detonated the car filled with explosives.

A security source who could not be named said it’s believed the ultimate destination for the car used in the attack may have been the parliament, where lawmakers were discussing ongoing constitutional reviews.

Most of the victims were shoppers caught in the explosion as they came out of a supermarket next to the road.V

Posted On Sunday, 30 July 2017 22:37 Written by
KIGALI — 

Normally, African election campaigns like the one taking place in Rwanda generate a lot of "noise," meaning tension and worries of unrest, according to Moody Awori, head of the East African Community team tasked with observing the August 4 presidential vote.

In Rwanda, however, "I have not seen that, I have not heard that and, in fact, sometimes it is difficult to know that an election campaign is going on," he said. "To me, that is a plus."

Of course, a campaign is taking place. Incumbent President Paul Kagame has attracted huge rallies in the capital, Kigali, and everywhere else he goes. His opponents, opposition party leader Frank Habineza and independent Philippe Mpayimana, have drawn crowds too, although not nearly as large.

FILE - Frank Habineza speaks to a reporter at his offices in Kigali, Rwanda, March 25, 2014.
FILE - Frank Habineza speaks to a reporter at his offices in Kigali, Rwanda, March 25, 2014.

The events have been peaceful and free of threatening rhetoric, in part because Kagame is expected to win in a landslide. He won the 2003 and 2010 polls with more than 90 percent of the vote, and there is no indication this year's result will be much different.

Several rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, have said Kagame's re-election bid comes in a climate of fear that resulted from two decades of crackdowns on the political opposition, media and activists.

FILE - Philippe Mpayimana speaks to the media during his first press conference in Kigali, Rwanda, Feb. 4, 2017.
FILE - Philippe Mpayimana speaks to the media during his first press conference in Kigali, Rwanda, Feb. 4, 2017.

Kagame commented on the accusations at one of his campaign stops in western Rwanda, saying that those who say there is a climate of fear and that people are being forced to attend rallies have yet to "get used to the new Rwanda."

Kagame has ruled the country with a firm hand since his forces ended Rwanda's 1994 genocide, which killed an estimated 800,000 people. He is widely credited with helping to bring peace to the country and spurring on economic growth that has led to a falling poverty rate.

Diplomats don't usually make election predictions, but in May, a European Union official in Rwanda said Kagame was likely headed toward re-election.

FILE - Rwanda's President and RPF Chairman Paul Kagame gives a press conference after presenting his credentials as presidential candidate for the upcoming elections in Kigali, June 22, 2017.
FILE - Rwanda's President and RPF Chairman Paul Kagame gives a press conference after presenting his credentials as presidential candidate for the upcoming elections in Kigali, June 22, 2017.

Michael Ryan, head of the European Union delegation in the country, told reporters, "I think you would not lose any money if you bet on Mr. Paul Kagame."

While the EU declined to send a mission to monitor the election, the East African Community picked Awori, a former Kenyan vice president, to head its team of 30 election observers in Rwanda.

The team will observe the concluding stages of the campaigns, as well as observe the voting and counting process on and after August 4.

"The community attaches great importance to the promotion of democracy, which will in turn guarantees political stability in the region," Awori told VOA's Central Africa service Thursday in Kigali.

He said that on election day, the EAC will deploy teams around the country, sampling all 30 districts to assess the level of preparation for the vote, as well as the polling process.

"I am looking forward to seeing a free, fair and transparent election," Awori said.

Kenyan elections

Separately, the seasoned Kenyan politician dismissed fears of election problems in his home country.

"There won't be problems. What I see now is simply healthy and things will work out quite well," said Awori.

Kenyans go to the polls on August 8.

Posted On Saturday, 29 July 2017 06:03 Written by

Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha has said that he was shocked when he saw President Muhammadu Buhari in London on Sunday.

The governor, who along with some All Progressives Congress leaders visited the President on Sunday, said his surprise was because of the rumours and conspiracy theories that had made the rounds regarding President Buhari’s health.

Since May 7 when the President flew to London for medical treatment, he hasn’t been seen in public many people claiming his health had declined.

Governor Okorocha explained during an appearance on Channels Television’s Politics Today that in Buhari’s absence, there was a lot of confusion and speculations about his health and it took the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, who visited the President on July 11, to reassure Nigerians that the President was in good spirits.

“Even then, most people didn’t believe it. But to my greatest shock, when I arrived in London with the Party Chairman and the governors of Kano, Kaduna, Kogi, Nasarawa and the Minister of Transport, we saw a man that was full of humour as usual and we were wondering whether it is the same person that they are talking about,” he said.

“All I can say is that Mr President is in good health, he is not on life support and he will soon be back. And he is not in the hospital. I was thinking I was going to see him in the hospital, but he is not even in the hospital. He was at home relaxing and having a good time.”

The governor said considering how healthy the President looked, he was surprised he had not already returned to Nigeria.

He said, “When I made enquiries as to why he is still waiting, why he is still not back home, all I got as an answer is that he is just taking some vitamins to increase his appetite to regain his lost weight.

“But I think the man is in good spirits and I think the prayers of Nigerians have worked to a great extent and President Buhari is coming back in full force to resume his work. What Nigerians should be talking about now is what should be his next line of action.”

Asked when the President was likely to return, he said, “The Buhari I saw two days ago will be back to Nigeria as soon as possible. I don’t think that he will stay longer than necessary, unless for some other reasons. I saw a man that was quite healthy, in high spirits and very sound – except for the fact that he has lost a bit of weight.”

 
Posted On Wednesday, 26 July 2017 19:17 Written by

Nigeria’s ailing President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday received a delegation of the All Progressives Congress leadership in London, the Nigerian presidency said in a Twitter message accompanied by a photo of the president with the party members.

The photo was the president’s first image to be shared publicly since he left the country on May 7.

The delegation hosted to lunch included APC’s national chairman John Odigie-Oyegun, Governors Rochas Okorocha (Imo), Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna), Yahaya Bello (Kogi) and Tanko Al-Makura (Nasarawa), and Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi.

The visit of the APC leaders to the president came two weeks after the country’s acting president Yemi Osinbajo’s.

No details were given about the meeting but it is believed to be the first face-to-face encounter between Nigeria’s two most senior politicians in more than two months.

Buhari has spent most of this year in London receiving treatment for an unspecified medical condition. He left for London for a medical check-up on May 7, leaving Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to lead the country.

Buhari would only return to Nigeria “as soon as his doctors give the go-ahead,” the presidency insisted.

He had earlier left Nigeria on January 19 for London to “undergo routine medical check-ups” during a short holiday. He only returned on March 10 after an extended period of medical treatment.

Posted On Monday, 24 July 2017 00:11 Written by

The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, has has directed Maj.-Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, the Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, Maiduguri, to capture Abubakar Shekau, self-styled leader of the Boko Haram sect, “dead or alive”.

Buratai further directed the Theatre commander to do so within 40 days.

A statement issued by the Director, Army Public Relations, Brig.-Gen. Sani Usman, on Friday night, said that Attahiru should “employ all arsenal at the disposal of the Theatre Command to smoke out Shekau wherever he is hiding in Nigeria.”

“The general public is please requested to also assist and volunteer information that would lead to the accomplishment of this task,” Usman said.

Posted On Sunday, 23 July 2017 01:21 Written by

A Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday ordered seven banks to remit to the Federal Government $793,200,000 (about N249,659,700,000.00) allegedly hidden with them in breach of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy.

A vacation judge, Justice Chuka Obiozor, made the interim order following an ex parte application by the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF).

The judge warned that the remittance order would be made permanent on August 8, unless cause was shown why it should not.

The AGF, through his counsel, Prof. Yemi Akinseye-George (SAN), accused the commercial banks of illegally keeping the sums in their custody for “unknown government officials”.

Justice Obiozor ordered the banks to remit the money to the designated Federal Government’s Asset Recovery dollars account domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The banks are United Bank for Africa (UBA), Diamond Bank Plc, Skye Bank Plc, First Bank Limited, Fidelity Bank Plc, Keystone Bank Limited and Sterling Bank Plc.

According to court processes filed by Akinseye-George (SAN), $367.4m was hidden by three government agencies in UBA; $41m was kept in a National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS) fixed deposit account with Skye Bank.

The documents stated that $277.9m was in Diamond Bank, $18.9m in First Bank, $24.5m in Fidelity Bank, $17m in Keystone Bank, and $46.5m in Sterling Bank.

The AGF’s application was supported by a 15-paragraph affidavit deposed to by a lawyer from Akinseye-George’s law firm, Vincent Adodo.

Adodo averred that the banks colluded with Federal Government officials to hide the funds in breach of the TSA policy.

The funds, he stated, were revenues, donations, transfers, refunds, grants, taxes, fees, dues, tariffs etc accruable to the Federal Government from ministries, departments, parastatals and agencies.

Adodo said the banks failed to remit the funds to the TSA domiciled in the CBN in violation of the guidelines issued by the Accountant-General of the Federation, which fixed September 15, 2015 as the deadline for such funds to be moved.

“The 1st to 7th respondents (banks), in collaboration with and/or collusion with unknown officials of the Federal Government, conspired to disobey the relevant constitutional provisions, thereby depriving the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of funds belonging to it, which are needed urgently to fund pressing national projects under the 2017 budget,” Adodo said.

Among the allegedly culpable government agencies is the National Petroleum Developing Company (NPDC).

Moving the ex parte application yesterday, Akinseye-George said it would best serve the interest of justice for Justice Obiozor to order the banks to remit the funds to the Federal Government, to prevent the funds from being moved or dissipated.

“The withheld funds are urgently required for the implementation of the 2017 budget. The budget has a lifespan of 12 months and we are already in the middle of the year.

“By hiding these hidden funds, the Federal Government is being forced to borrow money from these commercial banks at exorbitant interest rates,” Akinseye-George added.

After listening to the SAN, Justice Obiozor granted the interim orders.

He directed that the order should be published in a national daily newspaper.

The judge adjourned till August 8 “for anyone interested in the funds to appear” before him “to show cause why the interim orders should not be made permanent”.

Posted On Friday, 21 July 2017 02:35 Written by

The Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday ordered the temporary forfeiture of a property at Banana Island, Lagos, reportedly bought for $37.5m in 2013 by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.

The property, designated as Building 3, Block B, Bella Vista Plot 1, Zone N, Federal Government Layout, Banana Island Foreshore Estate, has 24 apartments, 18 flats and six penthouses, according to court papers presented on Wednesday by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

Apart from the property, the court also ordered the temporary forfeiture of the sums of $2,740,197.96 and N84,537,840.70, said to be part of the rent collected on the property.

The funds were said to have been found in a Zenith Bank account number 1013612486.

Justice Chuka Obiozor ordered the temporary forfeiture on Wednesday, following an ex parte application to that effect brought before him by a counsel for the EFCC, Mr. Anselem Ozioko.

Ozioko had told the judge that the EFCC “reasonably suspected that the property was acquired with proceeds of alleged unlawful activities of Diezani.”

The lawyer said investigations by the EFCC revealed that Diezani made the $37.5m payment for the purchase of the property in cash, adding that the money was moved straight from her house in Abuja and paid into the seller’s First Bank account in Abuja.

“Nothing could be more suspicious than someone keeping such huge amounts in her apartment. Why was she doing that? To avoid attention.

“We are convinced beyond reasonable doubts because, as of the time this happened, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke was still in public service as the Minister of Petroleum Resources,” Ozioko told the court.

The ex parte application taken before the judge was filed pursuant to Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act, No. 14, 2006 and Section 44(2)(k) of the Constitution.

Listed as respondents in the application were Diezani; a legal practitioner, Afamefuna Nwokedi; and a company, Rusimpex Limited.

After listening to the EFCC lawyer on Wednesday, Justice Obiozor made an order temporarily seizing the property and the funds.

He directed that the order should be published in a national newspaper.

He adjourned the case till August 7, 2017 for anyone interested in the property and funds to appear before him.

Posted On Thursday, 20 July 2017 00:07 Written by

Zimbabwe will need $274m to fund next year's presidential and parliamentary elections, the Reuters news agency reports.

It says the head of the electoral commission, Rita Makarau, gave the figure while addressing a parliamentary committee.

The country is currently suffering a cash shortage but Ms Makarau said that she was confident that the money would be found, Reuters adds.

President Robert Mugabe has been in power since 1980 and is set to run for another five-year term in 2018.

Posted On Wednesday, 19 July 2017 01:08 Written by

…Arraigned on 32 count over alleged N36b fraud. 

A Federal High Court in Abuja Tuesday ordered that former Governor of Jigawa State, Ibrahim Saminu Turaki be remanded in Kuje prison in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.

By the order given by Justice Nnamdi Dimba, Turaki is to remain in prison pending when he is able to meet the conditions attached to the bail granted him after he was arraigned, with three companies, on a 32-count charge, in which they were accused of laundering about N36billion

Turaki, who was earlier granted bail on liberal terms on July 14 by the vacation judge of the High Court of the FCT, Justice Yusuf Halilu, was arraigned before the Federal High Court on Tuesday on a charge filed in 2007 by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The charge is marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/86/2007.

The ex-Governor, who was rearrested by the EFCC on July 4 at a social function in Abuja, after jumping bail and allegedly evading arrest for about six years, was arraigned on Tuesday with three companies -INC Natural Resources Ltd, Arkel Construction Nigeria Ltd and Wildcat Construction Ltd.

After the arraignment and the argument on the bail application made by defence lawyer, Ahmed Raji (SAN), Justice Dimgba noted that in view of the bail earlier granted Turaki by the High Court of the FCT, he was minded to grant bail.

He directed lawyers for the parties: Mohammed Abubakar for the EFCC and Raji for the defence, to agree on terms on which the Turaki could be granted bail.

After a meeting between the lawyers, the reported the agreed terms to the court, which the judge partially adopted and granted Turaki bail at N500million, with two sureties at N250,000 each, who must either be businessmen or civil servants not below the level of a director and must own properties in FCT, including the satellite towns.

The judge ordered to submit his travel documents to the court, and is to seek the court’s permission before travelling abroad. He is to report to the EFCC one in a month.

Justice Dimgba directed the EFCC to liaise with the registrar of the court to verify whether or not Turaki meets the bail conditions, following which the EFCC is to send a letter to the court confirming verification.

The judge said, should the EFCC fails to do that within 24 hours of the defence meeting bail, the defence can write to the court informing it that the EFCC did not write to verify.

Justice Dimgba, who is the court’s current vacation judge in Abuja, adjourned further proceedings in the case to September 19, the date earlier chosen by the trial judge at the Federal High Court, Dutse, Jigawa State, where Turaki reportedly jumped bail about six years ago, following which a bench warrant was issued by the court for his arrest.

The judge also said further proceedings in the case shall resume at the court’s Dutse division.

Dressed in a white native attire (agbada and a cap), Turaki wore long face as he stepped off the dock, shortly after the judge’s pronouncement.

Some of the counts in the charge read: “That you Ibrahim Saminu Turaki, INC Natural Resources Ltd, Arkel Construction Nigeria Ltd, Wildcat Construction Ltd and Ahmed Ibrahim Mohammed (now at large) on or about May 3, 2006 at Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this court did collaborate in concealing the genuine nature of the sum of N8,004,000,000, which sum was diverted from an illegal act and you thereby committed  an offence punishable under section 14(1)(b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2004.

“That you Ibrahim Saminu Turaki on or about 15th July 2006 at Abuja, did conspire with INC Natural Resources Ltd, Arkel Construction Nigeria Ltd, Wildcat Construction Ltd and Ahmed Ibrahim Mohammed (now at large) to launder the sum of N5.200,000,000 and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 17(a) of the Monet laundering (Prohibition) Act 2004 and punishable under section 14(1) of the same Act.

“That you Ibrahim Saminu Turaki, INC Natural Resources Ltd, Arkel Construction Nigeria Ltd, Wildcat Construction Ltd and Ahmed Ibrahim Mohammed (now at large) on or about 3rd May 2006, did collaborate in concealing the genuine nature of the sum of $20,000,000 which sum was derived from an illegal act and you thereby committed an offence punishable under section 14(1)(b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2004.”

Posted On Wednesday, 19 July 2017 01:03 Written by

THE West African Examinations Council (WAEC) on Monday announced the release of the results of the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) for school candidates (May/ June 2017).

Addressing journalists at the Council’s National Office in Lagos on Monday, the Head of the National Office (HNO), Mr Olu Adenipekun, noted that a significant improvement was recorded this year, with nearly sixty per cent of the total candidates obtaining credit in six subjects including English and Mathematics.

He said, “A total of 923,486 (nine hundred and twenty three thousand four hundred and eighty six) candidates, representing 59.22%, obtained minimum of credits in five (5) subjects and above, including English Language and Mathematics. The percentage of candidates in this category in the WASSCE for School Candidates in 2015 and 2016 was 38.68% and 52.97%, respectively.”

Also, according to the breakdown, a total of 1,567,016 candidates registered for the examination, out of which 1,559,162 sat the examination.

Out of this figure, 1,471,151 (94.36%) results were released in full, while 95,734 candidates (5.64%) have some of their subjects still being processed “due to errors” committed by candidates in the course of registration or during examination.

However, a total of 214,952 results (13.79%) were withheld “in connection with various reported cases of examination malpractice.”

A further breakdown of the results showed that 1,490,356 candidates (95.59%) obtained credit and above in two subjects, while 1,436,024 candidates (92.44%) obtained credit and above in three subjects.

Also, 1,357,193 candidates (87.05%) obtained credit and above in four subjects; 1,243,772 (79.77%) in five subjects; and 1,084,214 (69.54%) in six subjects.

Adenipekun further disclosed that the Council had concluded plans to conduct its first ever January/February examination for private candidates in 2018, in line with the decision of WAEC’s Annual Council Meeting which “granted approval to member countries to conduct WASSCE for Private Candidates twice a year.”

Posted On Monday, 17 July 2017 23:46 Written by
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