Sunday, 19 November 2017
Items filtered by date: June 2017

After several denials, suspected kidnap kingpin, Chukwudumeje George Onwuamadike, alias Evans, has finally admitted some prominent southeast businessmen provided information on victims and shared from the ransoms.

The Nation gathered yesterday that the suspect had given a lot of names to the police, most of whom were currently being tracked.

It was gathered that the kingpin also disclosed that some of his accomplices were based in Europe, which explained his craze to collect ransoms in foreign currencies.

According to a source, Evans explained that he usually shared the loot with his informants on a 60%/40% basis.

The source said Evans had threatened to make a public announcement should the police fail to arrest those he mentioned.

He said: “It is true. He has mentioned some very prominent businessmen from the southeast as those who provided information on people he kidnapped.  He claimed that they shared from the ransoms he collected.

“Evans claimed that most of his accomplices were based in Europe and that they were into drug business. The information he provided is being investigated. You do not expect the police to go and arrest people just like that.

“We have to be sure there is a connection between Evans and those mentioned. Once that is established, they would all be arrested. But he has been threatening to go public, if people mentioned are not arrested”

Published in News & Stories

Barcelona forward Neymar has said he would be delighted if midfielders Lucas Lima and Marco Verratti joined him at the Camp Nou.

Santos star Lima told ESPN Brasil this week that he would move to Barca on a five-year deal in January when his contract with the Brazilian side expires.

However, there has not yet been confirmation from either club and a pre-contract agreement cannot be signed until July 1.

Neymar was unable to confirm the transfer -- despite Lima being represented by N&N Consultancy, the company run by his father -- but said he hopeful his international teammate would make the switch to La Liga.

"The only person who knows the truth is Lucas and the people he works with," he said at an event for his institute in Sao Paulo. "I hope everything works out. Besides being a good friend of mine, he's a great player.

"If it works out and he joins Barcelona, he'd be received with open arms and I'm sure he'd be able to bring joy to the club. If I could suggest a lot of people, I'd have done by now, but that's not a thing I did.

"There are so many rumours out there. I'm just hoping he joins us [at Barcelona]. If I had actually suggested his name, he'd be already signed," Neymar said with a laugh.

"I'm helping with it [lobbying for the transfer], I am," he said, again with a laugh. "He's a guy we all admire, we all like a lot, a very good friend of mine. I hope he can be happy, even if it's not at Barcelona, though I want it to happen.

"We can make jokes, say things, but actually he's the only who knows the truth, just him and the people who work with him. I'm cheering for him and encouraging him to join Barcelona."

Wagner Ribeiro, agent for both Neymar and Lima, admitted that Lima can determine his future soon.

"He has a contract until Dec. 31, and from July 1 on, we will be able to sign with any side he wants, he'll be free to do whatever he decides -- even to renew his current deal.

"Santos did an amazing offer, one of the best ever done in Brazilian football as they've got this issue with Doyen. Financially speaking, it's not good enough for him, though."

Paris Saint-Germain's Verratti has also been strongly linked with Barca, although the French club French club are reluctant to sell one of their star players.

The Italy international is reported to be one of the players Barcelona director Robert Fernandez was referring to when he said this week that "big-name signings" would be made.

"Of course I would like [Verratti] to come to Barcelona -- I would love it," Neymar said. 

"He's a top player with incredible technical quality. He has the profile and the right qualities to play with us at Barca.

"If we sign Verratti, I'm convinced that the whole team will be delighted to welcome him because he's an amazing player."

 

Published in Sports

Prosecutors in Spain say they are happy for Lionel Messi's 21-month prison sentence for tax fraud to be replaced with a fine, a spokeswoman confirmed on Friday.

They said they are not opposed to the Barcelona star being fined €400 per day -- a total fine of around €255,500 -- for the duration of the sentence, an option also put forward by the player's defence team.

Messi's father, whose sentence was reduced to 15 months upon appeal, could also see the original punishment exchanged for a fine of around €180,000.

In line with what prosecutors proposed, a judge will now make the final decision.

After learning of the possible changes to Messi's sentence, Barcelona vice president Carles Vilarrubi questioned the timing of the decision in relation to the accusations of tax fraud against Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo.

He insinuated that Messi's tax case was unfairly dragged out for years but then quickly resolved this week so that La Liga's two star players would not be under investigation at the same time.

"I find it difficult to imagine that this would have happened had there not been a similar problem with another player," he told RAC1, alluding to the Portugal international.

"All of the developments that are taking place right now and that will take place in the coming days are going in a very clear direction: so that Cristiano Ronaldo does not sit in the dock.

"They don't want there to be a photo of Ronaldo in the dock, but Messi did have to go through that."

Messi and his father were both found guilty of three counts of tax fraud totalling €4.7 million last year. In addition to their sentences, they were ordered to pay fines of €2m and €1.5m, respectively.

They were found to have used tax havens in Belize and Uruguay as well as shell companies in the U.K. and Switzerland to avoid paying taxes on earnings from Messi's image rights between 2007 and 2009.

Last week, Spanish prosecutors accused Madrid forward Ronaldo of defrauding Spain's tax office of €14.7m in unpaid taxes by hiding "income generated in Spain from image rights." 

Ronaldo has been called to give evidence in the case against him in court on July 31, but some reports in Spain have said he will strike a deal with prosecutors before then by paying the €14.7m.

However, sources close to the player told ESPN FC on Thursday that there are no plans to pay the money because they feel Ronaldo is innocent.

 

Published in News & Stories

Monaco midfielder Fabinho says he would be tempted by an offer from Manchester United this summer.

Sources said that United have other midfield targets -- including Tottenham's Eric Dier and Chelsea's Nemanja Matic -- but sources close to Fabinho are saying both United and Manchester City hold an interest in the former Rio Ave man.

Some reports have linked Fabinho with a move to Old Trafford, and the 23-year-old says he would be open to working with Jose Mourinho again after their short time together at Real Madrid.

He told Esporte Interativo: "If Mourinho invites me [to join United], it would be very tempting, but, first of all, I would have to talk with my agent and with Monaco to make the things right.

"But Manchester United is a great team, and I would think about it, for sure."

But despite his interest in United, Fabinho told ESPN Brasil's Antonio Strint that he's currently happy at Monaco.

"I speak every day with my agent, and he always says to me that when an official proposal comes, he will inform me," Fabinho said. "Today I have nothing, I'll be back to Monaco, start the preseason with Monaco. I have contract with Monaco until 2021"

Fabinho played a key role in Monaco's Ligue 1 triumph last season, and their run to the Champions League semifinals.

Monaco have already lost Bernardo Silva to City while midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko and forward Kylian Mbappe have been linked with moves away.

United are close to admitting defeat in their pursuit of Dier with Tottenham adamant they will not sell a player who signed a new five-year contract in September.

There is hope, however, that if Chelsea can secure Bakayoko from Monaco, Antonio Conte could allow Matic to move to Old Trafford to be reunited with Mourinho.

Published in News & Stories

Manchester United are making progress in their pursuit of Alvaro Morata but have yet to agree a fee with Real Madrid, sources have told ESPN FC.

Manager Jose Mourinho has identified Morata as the striker he wants to replace Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

There is still hope a deal could be secured before United head to the United States for their preseason tour on July 9.

Sources have told ESPN FC that agreeing personal terms should be straightforward because of Morata's willingness to move to Old Trafford.

There had been a fear that uncertainty surrounding the future of Cristiano Ronaldo could force Madrid to stall on any deal for the Spain international.

But reports in Spain suggest Ronaldo will now stay at the Bernabeu while Marca, which has close ties to president Florentino Perez, reported that the Spanish champions are set to push on with a bid for Monaco striker Kylian Mbappe.

French newspaper L'Equipe reported on Friday that Zinedine Zidane, once Mbappe's idol, called the striker to convince him to join Madrid said they were ready to sell one of their "BBC" stars to make room for him.

Mbappe's arrival would further limit opportunities for Morata, who made only 14 La Liga starts last season.

The striker, who returned to Real Madrid last summer after two seasons at Juventus, scored 20 goals in 43 appearances last term.

There has been no offer for him from Chelsea, who are also in the market for a striker with Diego Costa set to depart and have been linked with Everton's Romelu Lukaku.

Published in News & Stories
 

The U.S. State Department has withdrawn its reward offer for Mukhtar Robow, a former leader of the Somali militant group al-Shabab. 

In June 2012, the State Department offered up to $5 million for information on Robow that brought him "to justice." At the time, Robow was still considered a top leader of al-Shabab, having served periods as its spokesman, spiritual leader and military commander.

But soon afterward, Robow exiled himself from the group because of long-running disputes with its emir, Ahmed Abdi Godane. He spent recent years living in his hometown of Abal, south of Huddur, in Somalia's Bakool region.

Robow has his own militias from his own clan in the area.

Godane was killed by a U.S. missile strike in 2014.

Published in News & Stories
Saturday, 24 June 2017 01:59

Pessimism About CAR Peace Deal Widespread

A new peace deal between the Bangui government and 13 major rebel groups in the Central African Republic is being met with criticism and skepticism domestically.

The agreement signed Monday in Rome promised an immediate cease-fire in exchange for political representation for the rebels.

The new accord followed a series of peace deals signed by armed groups in the CAR during 2014 and 2015. All fell apart.

"As one of the armed group representatives said, 'We have signed a good paper,' " said Igor Acko, the U.S. Institute of Peace's national program specialist in Bangui. "But the only worry is that it can remain just a 'good paper.' "

Acko received word of the new deal while in Bambari in central CAR, and said he went directly to members of the Union for Peace in the Central African Republic, one of the country's major armed groups. The militia members told him they were not aware of the deal or its contents.

"So they are waiting for their representative to come back, and they will ask about the content, and they will think [decide] if they fully follow or they don't," Acko said.

In this photo taken May 26, 2017, U.N. peacekeepers patrol outside Bria, Central African Republic. The United Nations said at the time that about 300 people had been killed and 200 wounded in the previous two weeks in Bria and a handful of other towns.
In this photo taken May 26, 2017, U.N. peacekeepers patrol outside Bria, Central African Republic. The United Nations said at the time that about 300 people had been killed and 200 wounded in the previous two weeks in Bria and a handful of other towns.

Battle in Bria

Just hours after the accord was signed, fighting broke out in Bria, the country's center of diamond mining, nearly 600 kilometers from the capital. The town's mayor said more than 100 people were killed, and the medical charity Doctors Without Borders said 43 wounded people required hospital treatment.

With dozens of houses burned to the ground in Bria, more than 40,000 people are displaced and are relying on humanitarian assistance. Across the country, more than 100,000 people have been displaced since last month, when violence increased.

Since cycles of inter-religious and intercommunal violence began in 2013, hundreds of thousands of people have been uprooted from their homes in CAR, a former French colony that is one of the world's poorest nations.

Central African Republic
Central African Republic

Lewis Mudge, who does research on the Central African Repulic for Human Rights Watch, said the fighting in Bria does not bode well for the accord signed in Rome. He noted that the previous deals all collapsed very quickly.

Members of civil society in CAR are most concerned about the new deal's failure to discuss issues of justice and accountability arising from the conflict. Some are concerned this could be a first step toward granting amnesty to the rebels, which would be seen as an affront to the victims of months of escalating violence.

Need for justice is 'clear'

Mathias Barthelemy Marouba, who runs the Central African Human Rights Observatory, said his group does not oppose a peace deal, but does not see the Rome accord as a substitute for justice.

"Those who committed these reprehensible acts must be brought to justice," Marouba said. "That's clear."

The new deal calls for establishment of a truth-and-reconciliation commission, but that assurance failed to sway Mudge of Human Rights Watch.

"Truth telling is all nice and good, but it can never come in the place of free and fair trials that hold perpetrators accountable," he said. "If we can stop the fighting, that's a very good thing, but I'm not convinced that this deal is putting accountability first."

FILE - United Nations peacekeeping force vehicles drive by houses destroyed by violence in September, in the abandoned village of Yade, Central African Republic, April 27, 2017.
FILE - United Nations peacekeeping force vehicles drive by houses destroyed by violence in September, in the abandoned village of Yade, Central African Republic, April 27, 2017.

The only way to break CAR's cycles of violence, Mudge said, is to "finally hold some of these individuals to account."

Marouba criticized U.N. peacekeeping forces in the country for not taking more aggressive action against rebel groups.

"Why aren't they protecting the civilian population?" he asked. "They have all the means to neutralize these bandits. Why haven't they done that?"

On the streets of Bangui, maintenance worker Kevin Vreka, 35, agreed, and said the U.N. force, known as MINUSCA, should be doing much more to stop the rebels' violent tactics.

U.N. peacekeepers "are there to secure the country," Vreka said. "They are in the countryside, but they do nothing. The United Nations, what did it come to Bangui to do? They do nothing ... except harass our women!"

'Nothing is going to change'

Carlos Bunju, a translator for a Chinese company in the capital, does not expect the peace deal to accomplish anything.

"Whatever they do, nothing is going to change," Bunju said. "Because some people, some armed groups, they want some part in the government, but other people, they're not going to allow them. They're going to fight over and over."

The armed groups are battling over CAR's natural resources, Bunju said: "That's all they want. They don't see the people. And even though they come and we allow them to be a part of the government, I don't think there's going to be any change. If they love this country, they're not going to fight anymore."

Iloua Banoua, 58, a tailor, had not heard about the new accord either, but for him, it's simple: "We want peace. We don't want violence. Peace is the purity of each country; without it, we can't live."

Published in News & Stories

Tanzania's President John Magufuli has been condemned for comments that girls who give birth should not be allowed to return to school.

An online petition has been set up and a pan-African women's organisation is mobilising to get the president to apologise and reverse his comments.

Mr Magufuli warned schoolgirls at a rally on Monday that: "After getting pregnant, you are done."

A law passed in 2002 allows for the expulsion of pregnant schoolgirls.

The law says the girls can be expelled and excluded from school for "offences against morality" and "wedlock".

Women's rights groups have recently been urging the government to change the law.

Mr Magufuli, who was speaking at a public rally in Chalinze town, about 100km west of the main city Dar es Salaam, said that young mothers would be distracted if they were allowed back in school:

"After calculating some few mathematics, she'd be asking the teacher in the classroom: 'Let me go out and breastfeed my crying baby.'"

He said that men who impregnate the schoolgirls should be imprisoned for 30 years and "put the energy they used to impregnate the girl into farming while in jail".


'I was a teenage mother': Jackie Leonard Lomboma, who runs a centre for teenage mothers in Morogoro

Jackie Leonard Lomboma with her daughter Rose, aged 15Image copyrightJACKIE LEONARD LOMBOMA
Jackie Leonard Lomboma with her daughter Rose, aged 15

I had just finished my primary education; I was supposed to go to secondary education but could not afford the fees.

I met this smart boy, who promised that he would ask his parents to help me go to secondary school if I agreed to be with him.

I didn't date him, like girlfriend and boyfriend.

The first time I met him was the first time I got pregnant and that was the last time I saw him.

Because I was kicked out of school, my grandfather chased me out of home.

I eventually found work as a maid. When the family left, they asked me what I would like as a goodbye gift.

I said I wanted to go to school. It was a shock but they eventually agreed.

It is a big disappointment to hear such a statement from our president. It is only education which can help any country in this world overcome poverty.


President Magufuli also criticised rights organisations who have been pushing the government to reverse the law:

"These NGOs should go out and open schools for parents. But they should not force the government [to take back the pupils].

"I'm giving out free education for students who have really decided to go and study, and now you want me to educate the parents?"

The BBC's Sammy Awami in Tanzania reports that the crowd at the rally applauded the president's comments.

At least 8,000 Tanzanian girls drop out of school every year due to pregnancy, according to a Human Rights Watch report. 

'Betrayal'

The online petition says that the president's support for the expulsion law would end the education of many girls and "propagate more discrimination".

It instead calls for the girls to be protected from early pregnancies while in school.

The African Women's Development and Communication Network, Femnet has also expressed its outrage.

"With all the work we have done to emancipate Africa's girl-child from the shackles of discrimination and violation, a sitting president turns around to "re-victimze" and treat their situation like a terrible infectious disease which other girls must be protected from," said its head Dinah Musindarwezo.

Lawyer Kavinya Makau called Mr Magafuli's sentiments a" betrayal of the highest order."

Two weeks ago, Tanzania's Vice-President Samia Suluhu called for young mothers to be readmitted to school, saying they should not be denied a right to education.

 
Can apps replace teachers in Tanzania?
 
Published in Business and Economy

A 19-year-old Somali-American has become the first ever hijab-wearing model to appear on the front page of a major US magazine.

Halima Aden is featured on the July cover of American women's publication Allure.In a feature for the magazine, the model explained that it was always her choice to wear the hijab.

"Not all Muslim women opt to cover their heads." she explained. "It's how I interpret my religion, but there are women who are Muslim who choose not to wear the hijab. That's something people often forget."

The editor-in-chief of Allure, Michelle Lee, told the BBC the magazine was intensely proud of Halima and the cover.

"We knew that we wanted the July issue to be an ode to American beauty. One of Allure's core messages is that we believe strongly in the beauty of all people." Lee explained.

"America is, and always has been, a melting pot. The picture of American beauty is so diverse today, and Halima has an incredible story." 

Aden, who grew up in a Kenyan refugee camp, moved to the US at the age of seven and began wearing the hijab shortly after.

In a BBC interview in March the model described her hijab as her "crown" and explained how designers were reacting to a woman's right to choose: "It's almost surprising we haven't seen a hijab-wearing model. It should be normal, it shouldn't be any different to any other model.

"Designers should be happy with it. It shows their company is empowering women from all different walks of life, different faiths, and that's important."

It's not the first time the model has appeared on a magazine front cover. Earlier this month she was featured on the front page of Vogue Arabia.

Published in Headliners

Germany coach Joachim Low said he never expected his new-look squad to be "perfect" after they were given a fright by Australia at the Confederations Cup on Monday.

The reigning World Cup champions are without the likes of Toni Kroos, Manuel Neuer and Thomas Muller for the tournament in Russia Russia, with Low experimenting to find a team for the future.

Lars Stindl and Leon Goretzka both scored their first international goals, though goalkeeper Bernd Leno's two blunders made the game a little close for comfort.

And though Germany held on for a 3-2 win, Low said some growing pains were to be expected.

"Who would expect it to be perfect?" Low said. "This is a team that never played together so we have done a lot of work over 10 days.

"We were losing our thread, our attacks were not as consistent and we weren't single-minded.

"We need to work on maintaining our stability... but this is a new team and things have worked very well."

Leno demonstrated that he's far from being able to replace 31-year-old Neuer in the German goal, as he was wrong-footed on Australia's first goal and spilled a soft deflection for their second.

But Low ultimately backed his keeper despite acknowledging his errors.

"He could have held on to that ball but he is a good goalkeeper, no doubt about it," Low said. "Maybe that was a mistake."

Much of Germany's threat came from the right flank, where Brandt and Joshua Kimmich were given space to unsettle Australia.

"We invested a lot in the first half and ran a lot," Kimmich said. "So in the second half, Australia had a bit more possession but I didn't think they had a lot of opportunities and chances."

Still, Julian Draxler, one of the more experienced members in the squad, said the team had plenty to work on before their next game against Chile.

"Obviously, we'll have to improve," Draxler said, "but we will do that."

Published in Sports
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