Saturday, 24 February 2018
Headliners

Headliners (1858)

Zimbabwe’s former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa will be sworn in as president on Friday following the resignation of Robert Mugabe, state broadcaster ZBC reported on Wednesday.

Mnangagwa, who fled for his safety after Mugabe sacked him two weeks ago, will land back in Zimbabwe at 6pm (1600 GMT) at Manyame Airbase in Harare, ZBC said.

Mugabe resigned as Zimbabwe’s president on Tuesday, a week after the army and his former political allies moved to end four decades of rule by a man once feted as an independence hero who became feared as a despot.

Mnangagwa, whose sacking this month prompted the military takeover that forced Mugabe out, was expected to land

in Zimbabwe at 1130 GMT, Larry Mavhima, an ally of the former vice president, told Reuters.

Mnangagwa, 75, who fled from Zimbabwe in fear of his safety after being sacked this month, could be sworn in as president later on Wednesday or on Thursday and is likely to lead ZANU-PF into elections in 2018.

Mugabe resigned as Zimbabwe’s president on Tuesday, a week after the army and his former political allies moved to end four decades of rule by a man once feted as an independence hero who became feared as a despot.

The 93-year-old Mugabe had clung on for a week after an army takeover, with ZANU-PF urging him to go.

He finally resigned moments after parliament began an impeachment process seen as the only legal way to force him out.

People danced in the streets of Harare and car horns blared at the news that the era of Mugabe, who had led Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, was finally over.

Some brandished posters of Mnangagwa and army chief General Constantino Chiwenga.

Speaker of parliament Jacob Mudenda is due to hold a news conference at 8.30 GMT.

Posted On Wednesday, 22 November 2017 12:41 Written by

Robert Mugabe resigned as president of Zimbabwe Tuesday, swept from power as his 37-year reign of brutality and autocratic control crumbled within days of a military takeover.

The bombshell news was delivered by the parliament speaker to a special joint session of the assembly which had convened to impeach Mugabe, 93, who has dominated every aspect of Zimbabwean public life since independence in 1980.

It was greeted on the streets of the capital Harare with car horns and wild cheering.

“I Robert Gabriel Mugabe in terms of section 96 of the constitution of Zimbabwe hereby formally tender my resignation… with immediate effect,” said speaker Jacob Mudenda, reading the letter.

“My decision to resign is voluntary on my part. It arises from my concern for the welfare of the people of Zimbabwe and my desire to ensure a smooth, peaceful and non-violent transfer of power that underpins national security, peace and stability.”

It capped an unprecedented week in which the military seized control, tens of thousands of ordinary Zimbabweans took to the streets to demand that the president go and Mugabe wrestled to remain in power.

– ‘Things are finally going to change’ –
“We are just so happy that things are finally going to change,” Togo Ndhlalambi, 32, a hairdresser, told AFP.

Mugabe had ruled Zimbabwe almost unopposed since the country won independence from Britain but his efforts to position his wife Grace as his successor triggered fury in the military that had underpinned his regime.

His grip on power was shattered last week when the armoured military vehicles took to the streets, blockaded parliament and soldiers placed the president under house arrest in an operation that had all the hallmarks of a coup. 

But instead his generals stressed they were simply “arresting” criminals around Mugabe — a reference to supporters of Grace — and even allowed the one-time liberation hero to appear at a public function and deliver a TV speech stressing that he retained control.

Open dissent 
It is expected that he will eventually be replaced by former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa, who had been Grace Mugabe’s chief rival to succeed her husband and whose dismissal earlier this month triggered the army takeover.

Grace has not been seen since the start of the crisis.

However, under Zimbabwe’s constitution, second Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko stands to be elevated as head of state.

Veterans of the independence war — who were also formerly key Mugabe allies — had compounded mounting pressure on the former leader, demanding that he leave office immediately and helping to rally the weekend’s vast protests.

On Saturday, in scenes of public euphoria not seen since independence, huge crowds marched and sang their way through Harare and other cities in peaceful celebrations to mark his fading power.

The demonstrations drew citizens of all ages and races, jubilant that Mugabe’s fate had been sealed.

In central Harare, a group of young men tore down a green metal street sign bearing Robert Mugabe’s name and smashed it repeatedly on the road.

Such open dissent would have would have been routinely crushed by security forces before this week’s shock events.

The majority of Zimbabweans had only known life under Mugabe’s rule, which was defined by violent suppression, economic collapse and international isolation.

Posted On Tuesday, 21 November 2017 18:45 Written by

Zimbabwe’s parliament opened a session on Tuesday to begin the process of impeaching President Robert Mugabe, which could lead to him being stripped of office, an AFP correspondent saw.

Parliament speaker Jacob Mubenda gave permission for a joint session of the House of Assembly and the Senate to debate a motion that would trigger impeachment proceedings against Mugabe.

“This motion is unprecedented in the history of post-independence Zimbabwe,” Mubenda declared.

Lawmakers from across the political spectrum have called on Mugabe to quit after the military seized power and tens of thousands of citizens took to the streets to demand the 93-year-old’s resignation.

They accuse him of allowing his ambitious wife Grace to plunder the country and to usurp his power.

She emerged as the front-runner to replace the veteran leader when Mugabe fired his vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa.

That prompted the current crisis as the army, alarmed by Grace’s rise, deployed armoured vehicles on the streets and took power.

There were tense protests outside parliament as hundreds of demonstrators — from rival political parties — shouted for Mugabe to go.

Posted On Tuesday, 21 November 2017 14:18 Written by
Fresh facts emerged last night that the jealous wife, Maryam Sanda, who stabbed her late husband, Bilyamin Bello, the son of a former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mohammed Haliru Bello, was earlier prevented four times from carrying out the act.

It was also alleged that bloodstains in the couple’s flat had been mopped up and murder weapon cleared by unknown persons before homicide detectives stormed the place on Sunday.

The deceased also at the last minutes went to an ATM and withdrew cash to pay for the balance of the repair of his wife’s crashed car.

But Maryam was said to have demanded for a divorce with the threat of cutting off her husband’s manhood.

These facts were contained in the testimony of a witness, Habib Gajam (aka Gidado), which was published in the Lifestyle Section of  inside are wa.com.ng

Gajam, who is a family friend, gave the graphic details of what transpired and how the embattled wife had tried to cover up the act.

Gajam said: “Today, I witnessed the most wicked and shameful display of arrogance in Bilyaminu’s death case.

“At about 9 to 10p.m. last night  (Saturday),  tension started to build between Bilyaminu  and his wife, Maryam,  at his residence.

“Maryam demanded a divorce with the threat of cutting off his manhood. Ibrahim Aliero, Bilyaminu’s friend (in whose instance the drama started) intervened four times to stop Maryam from stabbing her husband.

“Ibrahim called Auta (Maryam’s uncle) and Abba (Bilyaminu’s cousin), who had left the house moments before the drama started, to come and intervene.

“After a short calm, Maryam broke a bottle of groundnut and attempted to stab Bilyaminu, again, but this time he held both her hands and struggled to take the bottle from her, injuring himself in the process. Unrelenting and wild, she bit his finger.

“Uncle Auta had arrived this time to calm the situation. They both committed to Uncle Auta to let go of the grievances (at least for the night).

“After the situation had become calm, Bilyaminu and his friend went to the Pharmacy to get his hand treated from the bite he sustained from Maryam.

“They later went to the ATM and made a withdrawal to pay up the balance of a spare part for Maryam’s crashed car. By 11pm, Bilyaminu and Ibrahim had gone back to a calm home. Abba (Bilyaminu’s cousin) joined them in the living room.

“They stayed till almost midnight and decided to call it a night.

In the emotional piece, Gajam related the parting words of Bilyamin to his cousin and others.

He also captured attempts by the detained wife to change the story at the police station in order to cover up her crime.

The witness said: “When Bilyaminu was seeing them off, he told Ibrahim that ‘I don’t want to go back until she’s asleep’. They called it a day. Abba and Ibrahim left.

“At around 2pm Sunday afternoon, family members were summoned to Maitama Hospital, where Bilyaminu was lying in a pool of his blood with multiple stabs on his chest, shoulder, a deep cut on his inner thigh and many bite wounds on his stomach.

“Maryam had confessed to stabbing him to the hospital authorities. Maitama Police Station was the next point of call.

“At Maitama Station, where Maryam was asked to write her statement, story changed. She claimed they got involved in a fight and Bilyaminu sustained injuries from a broken Shisha pot and that she never stabbed or hit him.

“She was later taken to the FCT Command in Garki II for further investigation. The police commissioner instructed that the crime scene should be visited.”

Gajam explained: “To the amazement of Abba (Bilyaminu’s cousin) and Ibrahim (his friend), who are key witnesses in the investigation, bloodstains had been mopped up, murder weapon disappeared, but flower vases and shisha pot were broken to corroborate Maryam’s earlier statement at the station.

“In the midst of this tragedy and confusion, Maryam had the audacity and courage to change her story. More disgusting is her lack of remorse and respect for the victim’s family.

“Someone, who divorced his first wife to be with you doesn’t deserve this. #JusticeForBilyaminu shall be served by the Almighty Allah on the day of resurrection.

“May Allah grant Bilyaminu Jannah and bless the life of his eight months old daughter, Sa’adatu.”

Posted On Tuesday, 21 November 2017 07:06 Written by
Second Republic vice president, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, is dead.
 
The elder statesman’s death was disclosed in a statement issued by the Ekwueme family of Oko, in Anambra State.
 
The statement was reportedly released in the early hours of Monday.
 
The statement, signed by the former vice president’s brother, and the traditional ruler of Oko in Anambra State, Igwe Laz Ekwueme, explained that he passed on around 10:00 pm on Sunday, in a London hospital.
 
The statement read, “Ekwueme family regrets to announce the peaceful passing away of their patriarch, the former Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme, GCON.
 
“The sad event occurred at the London Clinic at 10:00 pm on Sunday, 19th November, 2017.”
 
It would be recalled that Ekwueme was hospitalised in Memfys Neurosurgery Hospital, Enugu, for about two weeks before he was flown abroad for medical treatment on November 12.
 
The elder statesman was rushed to the hospital after collapsing at his residence in the Independence Layout area of Enugu on October 28.
 
It was learnt that the elder statesman was in a coma at the time he was admitted to the hospital.
 
Ekwueme, who celebrated his 85th birthday on October 10, reportedly suffered from a chest infection, according to his family members.
Posted On Monday, 20 November 2017 17:01 Written by

The police are probing the stabbing to death of Bilyamin Muhammed Bello by his wife, Maryam, in Abuja.

Bilyamin is a son of a former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and one-time minister, Dr. Haliru Bello.

His wife, who is the suspect, is a daughter of former Aso Savings boss Hajia Maimuna Aliyu.

Hajia Aliyu was recently nominated into the board of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).

The couple before the weekend tragic incident had a one-year old daughter.

“The FCT Police Command has commenced investigation into the matter.

“The case has been transferred to the Homicide Section for discreet investigation,” spokesman Anjuguri Manzah stated in a text message last night.

The suspect is being detained by the police while the deceased was buried yesterday after the Janazar prayer at the Central Mosque in Abuja.

Maryam was taken to her residence by homicide detectives for a search, fingerprints and forensic investigation.

She was saved from being mobbed by angry siblings and relatives of the deceased husband. 

Clinging to her seven-month old baby girl, Maryam, who looked remorseful, burst into tears after being led into the flat where she allegedly killed her husband.

According to sources, the jealous wife was uncomfortable with the text messages her late husband had been receiving from some women.

It was gathered that a particular message from a banker made the wife to attack her husband.

The source added: “They were at home when the wife became berserk over some text messages, including one allegedly suspected to be from a female banker.

“After engaging in a shouting match, the wife was embroiled in fighting with her husband before heading to the kitchen where she picked a knife to stab Bilyamin three times, including on his private parts.

“Drenched with blood, Bilyamin fought hard by crawling out of the couple’s flat to ask for help from neighbours.

“Upon hearing his distress call, neighbours, who had heard the exchange of words and banging of doors at the flat, ferried Bilyamin to a hospital.

“Unfortunately, the husband died in the hospital. The incident was reported to the police and Maryam was arrested by homicide detectives.”

Maryam is a graduate with two degrees from British university.

In a Whatsapp message yesterday afternoon, her mother Hajia Aliyu expressed shock and feeling of loss over the sad development.

“It is with a heavy heart but with total submission to the will of Allah that I announce the death of my son in-law, Bilyamin Bello Haliru, which sad event took place in the early hours of today.

“Prayers will be held at the Central Mosque…

“May Allah grant his soul Aljannah Firdaus as his permanent place of abode,” the grieving mother in-law stated.

There had been whispers of a rocky relationship in a marriage meant to bring two prominent families together but allegations of infidelity and plans to marry another wife might have caused the insecurity in Bilyamin’s Maitama home.

The patriarch of the family, Bello, is said to be away in the United States for medical attention.

“We were all sad, it was just too heavy for us to break the news to our father,” a family source added.

Posted On Monday, 20 November 2017 04:19 Written by

The Independent National Electoral Commission has declared Governor Willie Obiano of the All Progressives Grand Alliance the winner of the November 18, 2017 governorship election in Anambra State.

The Returnee Officer and Vice Chancellor of the University of Calabar, Professor Zana Akpagu, made this declaration at the INEC office in Awka at the end of the collation of results from the 21 local government areas of the state. 

Obiano, who was running for a second term in office, polled 234,071 votes to beat Tony Nwoye of the All Progressives Congress, who came second with 98,752 votes.

The PDP governorship candidate Oseloka Obaze, came third in the November 18 contest with 70,293 votes.

Posted On Sunday, 19 November 2017 19:02 Written by

Zimbabwe's ruling party has sacked Robert Mugabe as its leader, as pressure intensifies for him to step down as president.

Zanu-PF appointed ex-Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was fired by Mr Mugabe two weeks ago, in his place.

The party has given Mr Mugabe, 93, until 10:00 GMT on Monday to resign as president, or face impeachment.

The military intervened last week, in an apparent attempt to block him from installing his wife as his successor.

The first lady, Grace Mugabe, and several other senior officials have been expelled from the party altogether.

Tens of thousands of Zimbabweans attended street protests on Saturday, demonstrating against the Mugabes.

Mr Mugabe has also reportedly been meeting military leaders, according to Zimbabwe's The Herald.

While no details of the talks have been released, photos posted by the newspaper show the two sides - which also met several days ago - shaking hands.

Cheering erupted when the decision to dismiss Mr Mugabe as party leader was announced.

One senior official later told the BBC's Andrew Harding: "It's the dawn of a new era. Mugabe can go farming."

Zanu-PF's Central Committee also warned that impeachment proceedings would begin on Tuesday if Mr Mugabe did not step down as president by noon local time on Monday.

One party official said Mr Mnangagwa, who has since reportedly returned to Zimbabwe, had been nominated as the party's presidential candidate for the 2018 general elections.

President Mugabe and Grace Mugabe on 24 May 2014Image copyrightAFP
President Mugabe's wife, Grace, had emerged as a leading candidate to succeed her husband
Zimbabwe Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa listens as President Robert Mugabe (not pictured) delivers his state of the nation address to the countryImage copyrightREUTERS
But Mr Mnangagwa has re-emerged as front runner after his dismissal two weeks ago

His sacking prompted an extraordinary chain of events over the past week:

  • Mr Mnangagwa fled the country after his dismissal as Mr Mugabe's deputy two weeks ago
  • The army's chief of staff, Gen Constantino Chiwenga, warned last Monday that the military might intervene to stop purges in the party - and was roundly criticised by allies of the Mugabes
  • On Wednesday, soldiers seized the headquarters of the national broadcaster
  • Mr Mugabe has been mostly under house arrest for several days
  • On Saturday, unprecedented mass protests further weakened Mr Mugabe's position

Speaking ahead of the party meeting, the head of the influential War Veterans Association, Chris Mutsvangwa, threatened to "bring back the crowds and they will do their business" if Mr Mugabe did not step down.

Mr Mugabe has been president of Zimbabwe for 37 years, having led the country since it gained independence from Britain in 1980.

He has made just one public appearance since events unfolded, speaking at a university graduation ceremony on Friday.

Posted On Sunday, 19 November 2017 15:18 Written by

“These are tears of joy,” Frank Mutsindikwa, 34, told Reuters, holding aloft the Zimbabwean flag.

“I’ve been waiting all my life for this day. Free at last. We are free at last.”

NAN reports that on Friday, President Ian Khama of Botswana urged Mugabe to end his attempts to remain in office after the military seized power, as he has no regional diplomatic support to stay in power.

The military intervention, which political sources say could pave the way to a national unity government after 37 years of Mugabe rule, also presented “an opportunity to put Zimbabwe on a path to peace and prosperity”, Khama told Reuters.

“I don’t think anyone should be President for that amount of time. We are Presidents, we are not monarchs. It’s just common sense,” Khama said.

Earlier, Mugabe arrived at a university graduation ceremony in the capital on Friday, his first public appearance since a military seizure of power that political sources say is aimed at ending his 37 years in office.

Mugabe, who is 93, opened a graduation ceremony at Zimbabwe Open University in Harare.

He wore blue and yellow academic robes and a mortar board hat and appeared to fall asleep in his chair as his eyes closed and his head lolled.

Mugabe led the country’s liberation struggle and has dominated its politics since independence in 1980.

He said he is still in charge but a senior member of the ZANU-PF ruling party said it wanted him gone.

“If he becomes stubborn, we will arrange for him to be fired on Sunday,” the source said. “When that is done, it’s impeachment on Tuesday.”

In contrast, the military said in a statement on national television it was “engaging” with Mugabe. It referred to him as Commander in Chief and said it would announce an outcome as soon as possible.

Mugabe is revered as an elder statesman and member of the generation of Africa’s independence leaders but he is also viewed by many in Africa as a president who held his country back by remaining in power too long.

He calls himself the grand old man of African politics.

Zimbabwe’s official newspaper, the Herald, ran photographs late on Thursday showing him grinning and shaking hands with military chief Gen. Constantino Chiwenga, who seized power this week.

The images stunned Zimbabweans who thought it meant Mugabe was managing to hold out against Chiwenga’s coup, with some political sources saying he was trying to delay his departure until elections scheduled for next year.

The ZANU-PF source said that was not the case. Anxious to avoid a protracted stalemate, party leaders were drawing up plans to dismiss Mugabe at the weekend if he refused to quit, the source said.

“There is no going back,” the source told Reuters. “It’s like a match delayed by heavy rain, with the home side leading 90-0 in the 89th minute.”

The army is camped on his doorstep.

His wife, Grace, is under house arrest, and her key political allies are in military custody.

The police, once a bastion of support, have showed no signs of resistance.

Furthermore, he has little popular backing in the capital, a stronghold of support for opposition parties that have tapped into the anger and frustration at his handling of the economy, which collapsed after the seizure of white-owned farms in 2000.

Unemployment is now running at nearly 90 percent and chronic shortages of hard currency have triggered hyperinflation, with the prices of imports rising as much as 50 per cent a month.

The only words Mugabe spoke at the graduation ceremony were met with ululations from the crowd.

In a telling irony, one of the graduates was the wife of Chiwenga.

The U.S., a longtime Mugabe critic, is seeking “a new era”, the State Department’s top official for Africa said, an implicit call for Mugabe to quit.

n an interview with Reuters, acting U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Donald Yamamoto appeared to dismiss the idea of keeping Mugabe in an interim or ceremonial role.

“It’s a transition to a new era for Zimbabwe, that’s really what we’re hoping for,” Yamamoto said.

The army appears to want Mugabe to go quietly and allow a smooth and bloodless transition to Emmerson Mnangagwa, the vice president, whose sacking last week triggered the military takeover.

The main goal of the generals is to prevent Mugabe from handing power to his wife, Grace, who appeared on the cusp of power after Mnangagwa was pushed out.

(Reuters/NAN)

Posted On Saturday, 18 November 2017 13:46 Written by

Barely 24 hours after his arrest, detectives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday grilled a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim, on how he allegedly laundered over N13billion out of N58, 146,983,677.85 in the Ecological Fund account.

He was also asked to explain how the ecological cash ended up in the accounts of about 15 companies linked with him.

A third peg of the interrogation bordered on why Anyim collected N520million from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) on the eve of the 2015 general elections.

The reasons for the payment of the N520million were described by investigators as “unclear” as at the time of filing this report. 

According to findings, Anyim, who was described as sober in custody, was said to have used two of the 15 companies to make several transfers to 37 entities.

It was learnt that the EFCC opted to arrest the ex-SGF after he failed to respond to a letter of invitation from the agency.

It was gathered that Anyim, who was aware of the EFCC trail on him in the last one year, had banked on a political solution to his travails.

His sudden attendance of a dinner in honour of President Muhammadu Buhari in Abakaliki on Tuesday was said to be one of the rapprochements he was banking on to stave off the EFCC’s arrest.

But top sources close to investigation, who spoke in confidence with our correspondent, claimed that Anyim had a lot of garbage to clear based on his conduct in office.

One of the sources said Anyim, who was SGF from May 2011 to May 29, 2015, was under probe for alleged “false declaration of assets, abuse of office, misappropriation of public funds and money laundering”.

The source said: “We have been conducting a covert investigation of Anyim in the last two years based on the alleged diversion and laundering of ecological funds.

“After reaching an appreciable stage, we invited Anyim, but he refused to honour the 10am appointment given to him. We had no choice than to effect his arrest at about noon on Thursday.

“We executed a search warrant in his house and we were able to recover some documents relevant to the investigation.”

Asked to be specific on the allegations against Anyim, another source added: There was the wild disbursement of cash from the SGF Ecological Fund account when Anyim was in charge. Most of the beneficiaries of the cash had nothing to do with ecological contracts.

“For instance, from May 2012 to May 2015, the SGF Ecological Fund Account with the Central Bank of Nigeria received an inflow of N58,146,983,677.85. From this fund, three of the companies linked to Anyim (Foundation Years, Obis Associate and Eldyke Engineering) received contracts worth over N13billion. Foundation Years alone received a net payment of N10,308,017,838.85 between 2014 and 2015.

“Curiously, on receiving the fund, Foundation Years and another Anyim’s company, Br-Kthru, made several transfers to 37 entities. Some of the organizations and individuals have no nexus at all with ecological issues. Investigators are probing the reasons behind the wild disbursement.

The source listed companies which Anyim allegedly used as fronts to “obtain contracts or laundered proceeds of the ecological funds contracts as Foundation Years Limited, Precious Integrated, Precious Petroleum, Mak & Mak, Chap Construction, Eldyke Engineering, Pryke Limited, Chipa Nigeria Limited, Prima A11 Limited, Pima International, Chanto Engineering, Ishiagu Microfinance Bank, Mulak Ventures, Vitro Engineering and Tip Top Nigeria.”

A third source said  Anyim has cases to answer in connection with alleged “false assets declaration, receiving N520m from the Office of the National Security Adviser on the eve of the 2015 general elections for unclear reasons and using proxies and companies in which he had interest to corner contracts from the Ecological Fund.

“So far, he is looking sober in our facility, but we have asked him to give account of the N13billion curious payments/ withdrawals/ transfers from the Ecological Fund account. We have conducted searches on the 15 firms, identified their accounts.

“More amazing was the transfer of the N520million to Anyim by ONSA on the eve of the 2015 general elections. He needs to account for this cash too.

“We have other strands of investigation, including the Centenary Project, alleged cornering of NDDC projects by cronies and alleged building of a 297-bed hotel within two years of becoming SGF. But we have not gone into these other allegations.

“Anyim knew all along that the EFCC had been on his trail. At a point, he wanted a political solution to his travails, but this has not worked for him. What is at stake has to do with public funds.”

All the efforts to contact Anyim or any of his aides for comment did not succeed as the mobile telephone numbers of virtually all the contacts were switched off.

Posted On Saturday, 18 November 2017 01:40 Written by
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