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South African police officers to face trial for killing Nigerian

By News Desk,

Authorities would soon arraign South African police officers for alleged killing a 25-year-old Nigerian, Ibrahim Olalekan-Badmus, in 2017.

The Nigerian Mission in South Africa said on Friday in an interview that the officers were implicated in the killing.

The Nigeria’s Consul General in South Africa, Godwin Adama, said through a telephone from Johannesburg that the South African authority had confirmed that investigation into the murder case was almost concluded.

“Badmus, a native of Lagos was brutally murdered by the South African Police on Oct. 10, 2017 at vanderbidjk park, South Africa.

“Police officers implicated in the murder will be charged to the High court any moment from now,” he said.

Police officers were alleged to have stormed the home of Badmus, an undergraduate at Vaal University of Technology in Vanderbijlpark in South Africa, with claims that he was trafficking drugs.

However, when the police searched his home, they could not find any drug in it.

They allegedly asked the deceased for money and when he could not give them money, they handcuffed him and used excessive pepper spray on him.

He passed out and died due to suffocation

Adama said that the case was classified as high profile because of the tension generated by the development as some Nigerians who had confrontation with the police almost took laws into their hands.

The Consul General said that on hearing of the development immediately rushed to the scene where he interfaced with the aggrieved Nigerians and the police to calm frayed nerves.

“I led a delegation from the mission to visit the scene on receipt of the information. When we arrived at the scene, the place was tensed up because Nigerians there were not happy.

“We immediately met with the Station Commander in the area with some selected Nigerians.

“The police assured that a thorough investigation would be carried out and that the culprit would be brought to book,” he said.

He said that the authority arrested the police officers that perpetrated the crime and commenced investigation.

Adama said that the mission had followed up the case and it was clear that investigating authorities had done a very thorough job as promised.

He stressed that the authorities had said that the suspects would be charged to court any moment from now.

The President of Nigerian Union in South Africa, Adetola Olubajo, had blamed the incessant killings of Nigerians in South Africa on lack of prosecution of offenders by the authorities.

Olubajo said that the inability of the government to bring to book those perpetrating the heinous crimes against Nigerians has given the criminals free hands.

“Lack of prosecution of these criminal activities has actually emboldened a lot of people to feel that they can kill Nigerians without any consequence,” he said.

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa had, during his visit on July 11, said that the killing any national in the country was an act of criminality and not specifically targeted at Nigerians.

The killing of Nigerians in South Africa had been on the increase in recent times.

The latest was the assassination of Martin Ebuzoeme by unknown assailant in Yeoville, Johannesburg on July 12 .

Before then, was also the killing of Ozumba Tochukwu-Lawrence, by an unknown gunman at 10 Koppe, Middleburg, Mpumalanga on July 6.

Another Nigerian, ThankGod Okoro, was also reportedly shot dead in Hamburg, Florida West Rand, Johannesburg, on April 9 by the South African Police Flying Squad.

There was also the killing of Mr Clement Nwaogu a father of two, who was burnt to death by his assailants in April.

The wanton killings of Nigerians in South Africa had sparked a number of protests there.

At least 14 of the protesters were taken into custody and allegedly branded drug peddlers.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, had expressed worry over the killings of Nigerians in South Africa.

Dabiri-Erewa stated that no fewer than 117 Nigerians were extra-judicially killed in South Africa between 2013 and 2018 for one flimsy reason or the other.

Italy and NGO in row over migrant deaths

By News Desk, with Agency Report,

A bitter row has flared up between a Spanish rescue charity and the Italian government after a dead migrant woman and child were found off Libya.

Proactiva Open Arms posted images of the bodies and its rescue of a surviving Cameroonian woman clinging to timber on their deflated dinghy.

The charity said the Libyan coastguard had abandoned the three, and blamed Italy for backing it.

Italy and the Libyan coastguard deny the charity’s allegations.

More than 1,400 people have been reported dead or missing in the Mediterranean in 2018, and at least 16 more deaths were reported on Wednesday, when a migrant boat went down off northern Cyprus.

The Libyan coastguard said it had rescued 165 migrants on Monday from a damaged boat in the area where the deflated dinghy was found, nearly 80 nautical miles (148km) off the coast.

It said the migrants were dehydrated after drifting for more than 60 hours, and one dead baby girl was also recovered.

The coastguard did not say why the three others had been left on a damaged raft.

According to Proactiva Open Arms, the three were “abandoned by the so-called Libyan coastguards, who are legitimised and put in charge by Italy”. The charity added that “each death is a direct consequence of that policy”.

The NGOs accuse the Libyan coastguard of treating migrants harshly, and have condemned the practice of keeping them in unhygienic, overcrowded holding centres rife with human rights abuses.

Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini is campaigning to stop charity ships operating off the Libyan coast, where they have been rescuing migrants from unseaworthy boats.

He says such rescues should be handled by the Libyan coastguard, and accuses the charities of encouraging ruthless people-smuggling gangs.

Egypt’s ex-military chief of staff Sami Anan in ‘critical’ condition

By News Desk, with Agency Report,

Former Egyptian military chief of staff General Sami Anan, who was detained in January after announcing plans to compete in a presidential election, is in critical condition in hospital, two sources close to his family said on Monday.

Anan, 70, was admitted to the intensive care unit at a military hospital in Cairo’s Maadi suburb on Saturday and is on life support after suffering a chest infection and back problems that have impaired his ability to move, the sources said.

“He is in a very critical situation in the intensive care unit,” one of the sources told Reuters.

Military spokesman Colonel Tamer al-Rifai was not immediately available for comment.

The sources said Anan, who was detained in January, was held in a military prison until he suffered a stroke more than two months ago and was moved to the military hospital. They said his health had been improving and that the setback was a surprise.

Anan’s family last visited him about a week ago and said he was in good health, the sources said.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was re-elected for a second term in March, winning 97 percent of the vote with turnout of 41 percent. The election featured only one other candidate, an ardent Sisi supporter, after opposition contenders halted their campaigns in January.

Anan, seen as Sisi’s main challenger, was arrested and halted his presidential bid after the army accused him of running for office without permission, which it said was a breach of military law. Anan’s spokesman denied that he had broken any laws.

Congo opposition leader Bemba nominated for presidential election

By News Desk, with Agency Report,

Congolese politician Jean-Pierre Bemba, weeks after his conviction for war crimes was quashed at The Hague, was nominated by his party on Friday for December’s presidential vote, in what could be the stiffest challenge to President Joseph Kabila’s ruling coalition.

The election is due to choose a successor to Kabila, who is term-limited after having governed since 2001, and could herald Democratic Republic of Congo’s first democratic transition after decades marked by repeated coups and prolonged civil war.

But Kabila has refused to commit to standing down, sparking protests in which dozens of people have died. Some of his allies are now publicly arguing that he has the right to run again.

After he was announced as the Movement for the Liberation of Congo’s (MLC) presidential candidate at a party congress in Congo’s capital, Kinshasa, Bemba briefly addressed his supporters over the phone.

He is currently free in Belgium awaiting sentencing by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague on a witness tampering conviction.

“I thank all the participants. Thank you for your confidence,” he said to cries of joy and dancing by MLC members. “I will return soon.”

Bemba’s candidacy would represent serious competition to either Kabila or his hand-picked successor. Bemba served as vice president to Kabila during a 2003-06 transitional government and is popular in western Congo, including Kinshasa.

He finished runner-up to Kabila in a 2006 election that touched off street battles in Kinshasa between militiamen loyal to him and state forces.

The ICC quashed his convictions in May related to murder, rape and pillage by fighters he sent to Central African Republic to back CAR’s then-president Ange-Felix Patasse.

Bemba was one of only four people convicted by the permanent war crimes court in its 16 years of operation, and the highest ranking among them.

It is not clear, however, if he will be able to run in December as the sentencing process for the witness tampering conviction could drag on for weeks, or even months.

That could prevent him from returning to Congo before the Aug. 8 deadline to register his candidacy. Congolese officials have also offered mixed messages about whether he might face further criminal prosecution at home.

Several opposition leaders, including the exiled millionaire businessman Moise Katumbi, have been nominated by their parties to stand in the election. It was originally scheduled for November 2016 but has been repeatedly delayed.

The MLC and other opposition parties have endorsed the idea of presenting a single opposition candidacy but it is not clear they will be able to agree on who that should be.

Buhari to sign African Free-Trade agreement

By News Desk,

President Muhammadu Buhari said that Nigeria will soon sign up to a $3 trillion African free-trade agreement, on Wednesday.

Nigeria is one of Africa’s two largest economies, the other being South Africa. Buhari’s government had refused to join a continental free-trade zone established in March, on the grounds that it wishes to defend its own businesses and industry.

The administration later said it wanted more time to consult business leaders.

“In trying to guarantee employment, goods, and services in our country, we have to be careful with agreements that will compete, maybe successfully, against our upcoming industries,” Buhari told a news conference during a visit by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.

“I am a slow reader, maybe because I was an ex-soldier. I didn’t read it fast enough before my officials saw that it was all right for signature. I kept it on my table. I will soon sign it.”

Earlier Ramaphosa told a business conference in Abuja that South Africa saw huge benefits from the continental free trade deal and that a draft agreement relating to the movement of people was being reviewed.

In his first visit to Nigeria since becoming South Africa’s president in February, Ramaphosa said he was seeking greater collaboration between the two countries.

He condemned xenophobic attacks on foreigners in South Africa, including Nigerians, against a backdrop of economic hardship and soaring unemployment.

“This is a working visit to come to Nigeria and I’ve made it a specific issue that I want relations with Nigeria to improve exponentially,” Ramaphosa told the conference.

Nigeria and South Africa have the two largest economies in Africa. Along with Angola, they make up about three-fifths of sub-Saharan Africa’s annual economic output.

Both countries have been hit hard in recent years by low commodity prices that slowed growth, cut government revenues and weakened their currencies. But each has emerged from recession, largely because of a rebound in commodity prices.

The growth of the two economies played a large part in the World Bank’s forecast that sub-Saharan Africa’s economy will grow by 3.1 percent this year, up from 2.6 percent in 2017.

The continental free-trade zone, which encompasses 1.2 billion people, was initially joined by 44 countries in March. South Africa signed up earlier this month. Six countries, including Nigeria, are yet to sign the agreement.

Economists point to the continent’s low level of intra-regional trade as one of the reasons for Africa’s enduring poverty and lack of a strong manufacturing base.

African Union officials said countries that have signed the agreement will need to submit a schedule of tariffs by December, adding that they expect intra-African trade to double over the next four years once tariffs are reduced.

Congo accuses Uganda of killing 12 fishermen in border dispute

By News Desk, with Agency Report,

Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday accused Ugandan forces of shooting dead 12 Congolese fishermen last week on a lake straddling their shared border, something Uganda’s army denied.

One Ugandan soldier was killed when the countries’ navies clashed on Lake Edward.

Oil exploration near the lake has raised the stakes along the border, with each side periodically accusing the other of encroaching on its territory.

Obed Kambale, a spokesman for Congo’s fishing ministry, said Ugandan forces killed 12 fishermen last Friday following the previous day’s naval clashes. He said Ugandan troops arrested 92 fishermen last week.

“In the coming hours, a significant government delegation composed of the relevant ministries … will go to Kampala to begin talks with Ugandan authorities,” he said.

Uganda’s army spokesman Richard Karemire could not be immediately reached for comment but said over the weekend that reports of Ugandan troops killing Congolese fisherman were not true.

Uganda has a keen interest in eastern Congo’s lawless border zones and battled Congolese forces during a 1998-2003 war in the region in which millions of people died.

U.N. investigators have since accused it of backing rebel forces in eastern Congo – something it denies. The two countries have more recently coordinated operations against a Ugandan Islamist group active on Congolese soil.

S. Sudan govt forces, allies kill 232, raped 120 women, girls

By News Desk, with Agency Report,

At least 232 civilians were killed and 120 women and girls raped this spring in attacks by South Sudan government troops and aligned forces in opposition-held villages, the U.N. human rights office said on Tuesday.

A United Nations investigation identified three commanders suspected of bearing the “greatest responsibility” in the violence in Unity state between April 16 and May 24 that may amount to war crimes, it said in a report.

Elderly and disabled civilians were burned alive in the attacks on 40 villages, which appeared aimed at driving out opposition forces, it said.

“The perpetrators …must not be allowed to get away with it,” said U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein in a statement.

Reiterating his call on the government and African Union to establish a hybrid court for South Sudan, he said the soldiers had slit elderly villagers’ throats, hanged women for resisting looting and shot fleeing civilians.

The U.N. report said opposition forces had also carried out armed attacks that caused civilian casualties.

The U.N. mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said on May 17 it was sending 150 peacekeepers to protect civilians being targeted in clashes between the government and rebel troops in Unity state, which hosts abandoned oil fields.

There was no immediate reaction to the report from the Juba government.

On Monday, South Sudan rebels rejected a peace plan to reinstate insurgent leader Riek Machar as vice president, under a deal reached at talks in Uganda a day before.

South Africa charges Zuma’s son with corruption

By News Desk, with Agency Report,

Duduzane Zuma, son of former South African president Jacob Zuma, was released on bail on Monday after appearing in court in leg irons on corruption charges, the most high profile figure to be prosecuted so far in investigations into graft under his father.

Johannesburg’s Specialised Commercial Crime Court ordered Duduzane Zuma, who returned to South Africa last week to attend his brother’s funeral, to pay 100,000 rand ($7,440) bail. His case was postponed until Jan. 24, 2019.

His court appearance marks a dramatic turnaround from Jacob Zuma’s nine years in power, when corruption allegations involving top officials were rarely investigated.

Zuma’s successor, President Cyril Ramaphosa, has staked his reputation on rooting out corruption since becoming head of state in February.

Duduzane faces charges of corruption and conspiracy to commit corruption which his lawyers say he will contest.

They relate to allegations that he took former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas to an October 2015 meeting with the Gupta family, friends of his father, who tried to bribe Jonas in his presence.

The Guptas offered Jonas the position of finance minister in return for a bank transfer of 600 million rand and 600,000 rand in cash, if Jonas would assist the Guptas with their business ventures, according to a provisional charge sheet seen by Reuters.

The Guptas have denied that there was anything untoward in their relationship with former president Zuma, but their ties will be investigated as part of an influence-peddling inquiry due to start later this year. The Guptas’ whereabouts are not publicly known, and an attempt to contact a legal representative for them was unsuccessful.

Duduzane, who has held senior positions in several Gupta businesses, was detained briefly at Johannesburg’s main airport late on Thursday over the allegations made by Jonas in 2016.

An elite South African police investigating unit, the Hawks, launched a corruption probe into Duduzane and the Gupta family at the time, but it made little headway until Zuma left power.

Duduzane, who appeared relaxed and was joking with journalists in court on Monday despite being shackled, was ordered to hand over his passport and report weekly to police by magistrate Jeremy Jansen van Vuuren.

Duduzane was also due to appear at Randburg Magistrate’s Court in Johannesburg this week to face charges of culpable homicide over a fatal car crash in 2014, when his Porsche 911 crashed into a minivan taxi, killing one woman and seriously injuring another who later died in hospital.

He previously said his car hit a puddle of water before crashing, and his lawyers have said he will contest the homicide charges.

Jacob Zuma was also in court last month on corruption charges relating to a $2.5 billion arms deal from the 1990s. The elder Zuma denies wrongdoing in that case, and his supporters say he is the victim of a politically motivated witch-hunt.

Terror group, Al-Shabab claims Mogadishu car bomb attack

By News Desk, with Agency Report,

Al-Shabab have launched their first major attack in the Somali capital Mogadishu since the start of Ramadan almost two months ago.

Journalists say al-Shabab fighters stormed the ministry of the interior and national security after detonating two car bombs.

The BBC’s Somali service says there have been 10 deaths and at least 20 civilians are reported injured.

Security had been tightened in the city over Ramadan to prevent attacks.

The Islamist militant group, which is fighting to overthrow the Western-backed government, usually intensifies its attacks during the holy month, which began in May this year.

As a result, authorities had put in more roadblocks and checkpoints.

But this latest assault, which was immediately claimed by al-Shabab, has proved that it is still capable of large scale attacks, as well as the targeted assassinations it had been carrying out more recently.

One of the car bombs was detonated outside the interior ministry, which is also used by the police, and the other near the presidential palace at about 11:00 local time (08:00 GMT).

Abdiasis Abu Musab, al-Shabab’s military operations spokesman, earlier told Reuters news agency that the group had fighters “still inside the building”, while witnesses reported heavy gunfire being exchanged in the area.

Police have since told broadcaster al-Jazeera that all the militants had been killed in a two-hour gun battle.

Mogadishu is regularly targeted by al-Shabab, which was forced from the capital in 2011, but still has a strong presence in regions around the capital.

It was blamed for two attacks last October, which left more than 500 people dead.

Ivory Coast president dissolves cabinet, appoint PM as new government head

By NewsDesk, with Agency report, 

The Ivory Coast President, Alassane Ouattara, has dissolved his cabinet amid tensions with his party’s partner in the governing coalition, while the country Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly was re-appointed to form a new government.

However, Quattara through a statement issued on Wednesday issued by presidency, declared rest of the country’s government, including key posts of finance and defense minister, to remains vacant.

Before the president’s action, it was reported that political tensions were on rise again before a 2020 election, with constitutional term limits appearing to prevent Ouattara from standing for a third term, but he said last month that he is free to run again under a new constitution approved in 2016.

Ouattara won a run-off in 2010 and re-election in 2015, thanks partly to the backing of former President Henri Konan Bedie’s PDCI party, whose members serve in the government.

But the two sides have fallen out over the PDCI’s insistence that Ouattara back a candidate of its choosing in 2020. The PDCI last month rejected the idea of a joint ticket, after Ouattara’s RDR party refused to allow the PDCI to choose the candidate.

Julien Kouao, an Ivorian political analyst, said Ouattara was trying to consolidate his position within his own RDR party as the RDR and PDCI move toward fielding separate candidates.

“Ouattara wants … to have a strong political instrument to consolidate not only the peace obtained since 2011 but also to assure his political ambitions to run in 2020 or to field a candidate on his behalf,” Kouao told Reuters.