Burkina Faso - Wiping out the daughters: Burkina Faso's controversial mosquito experiment
Image Profile
by FricNews
Nov 18, 2019 - 9:11
Health
A radical experiment to genetically modify a strain of mosquito in order to stop them breeding malaria-carrying daughters is one of the latest efforts to tackle the deadly scourge of malaria.

At 6.30am five-year-old Osman Balama and his mother reach the state hospital of Bobo-Dioulasso, the second-largest city in Burkina Faso. He hasn’t been feeling well for a few days and his mother is worried that he has contracted malaria. The waiting room is already full of mothers and grandmothers with young children on their laps, all with the same tired look as Osman.

“The rainy season has started,” says Sami Palm, head of the clinic. “That means more mosquitos. I’m certain that almost everyone here has malaria.”

Two red lines on the detection strip confirm malaria. “He doesn’t need to stay in the hospital, because he isn’t vomiting and isn’t extremely sick,” Palm says. Osman is sent home with medication – the Burkinese government covers treatments for children aged five and under.

Each year around 400,000 people worldwide die from malaria, half of them in seven countries in Africa, including Burkina Faso. Despite progress in reducing deaths since 2000, cases have been gradually increasing. “We’re having more and more problems with resistance – from the parasite, which knows how to counteract the medicines, and from the mosquitoes, which are getting less sensitive to the insect poisons applied to the mosquito nets,” says Palm. “On top of this, there are many remote areas we can’t reach.”

A radical trial using “gene drive” technology is currently taking place in Burkina Faso, that will see the release of genetically modified mosquitoes in an attempt to wipe out the carriers of the disease.

“We’re developing mosquitoes here that can only have sons. Those sons will also only be able to produce sons, causing the population of females, the only gender that bites, to dwindle until the mosquito is extinct,” says Moussa Namountougou, head of the insect farm of the Institut de Recherche et Sciences de la Santé (IRSS), just a few kilometres from the hospital.

“To do this we have added a bit of genetic information from a slime mould to the mosquito DNA. That extra bit contains the instructions to break down any sperm cells that could produce a daughter mosquito.”

Namountougou and his team have at their disposal a gene drive, which they want to use to stop the genetic instruction diluting as modified mosquitoes mate with those that don’t have the new genetic information. This uses a sort of genetic copier so breed offspring with the new trait – with the intention of wiping out female malaria-carrying mosquitoes. “This way the trait spreads rapidly through the entire population, over just a few years,” says Namountougou. “Such a gene drive has never been released into the wild.”

The village of Bana, near Bobo-Dioulasso, is where GM mosquitoes using this technology will eventually be released. The government gave the go-ahead in June.

Bana is like many others: mud huts around a central square, no sewage system or electricity, the ground strewn with drying shea nuts, whose harvest has just begun.

“We have two major problems here: water pollution and malaria,” says village elder Tchessira Sanou. “I used to go into the forest to gather sticks and leaves from specific trees and shrubs to treat the symptoms. Now we receive mosquito nets from the government and we have medicine, but the disease persists.” Even if no one dies, the disease has a huge impact. “If you or your child get sick, then you can’t work in the fields for several days. That can cost you your entire harvest, leaving you with too little to eat.”

For seven years, Target Malaria, the organisation behind the project – has been sending teams of theatre performers to Bana to explain what scientists are doing in their village.

“It’s very important to us that everyone in the village understands what’s going on here,” says Lea Pare, of Target Malaria.

“Not everyone in the village can read or write, so this helps everyone understand. We need that, or they won’t support the project.”

More than 100 local people have toured the insect farm in Bobo-Dioulasso, where scientists explained mosquitoes’ life cycle, and answered questions.

Genetic modification is controversial, and gene drive technology takes it a step further. Introducing “ordinary” GM produce to agriculture has led to widespread resistance. Several countries have also outlawed the technology.

And there are substantial objections in Burkina Faso. “It makes us puppets of the west,” says Ali Tapsoba, director of Terre à Vie, a community organisation in the capital Ouagadougou. “We believe genetic modification is never a solution. There is always a risk that the mosquitoes will mutate and we will lose track of them. People in our country must learn to live more hygienically, then the malaria mosquito will disappear in a safer way.”

There are doubts too in the academic world. Recently, entomologist Willem Takken from Wagening asked in the Volkskrant newspaper whether another type of mosquito wouldn’t simply take the place of the exterminated insect.

Namantougou already knows the work he’s doing is not nearly enough. “In Burkina Faso there are four mosquitoes that can carry malaria, and we need to tackle each.”

The genetic instruction taken from slime moulds only works in this one type of malaria mosquito, and not in others. “Those will continue to have daughters,” he says.

Bart Knols, mosquito expert at the Radbouduniversiteit in Nijmegen, says bed nets are far more cost effective. “The development of gene-drive mosquitoes is expensive, while a mosquito net costs next to nothing. I think that it’s more effective to invest more money in distributing those.”

Last year, a group of around 160 social and environmental organisations called for a for a moratorium on the experimental use of the gene drive at a UN meeting. It failed by a narrow margin, and many African countries voted against it.

“Opponents of the gene drive should be required to come live here in Burkina Faso for a while and see what malaria brings,” Pare says. “Then they can see for themselves how much we need a solution here.”

As evening falls in Bana, men with mosquito nets arrive and begin swishing them through the air. “These are test mosquitoes, without the gene drive,” says Namountougou. “They have a modification that makes them sterile: no eggs are formed after mating.”

These mosquitoes serve a primarily scientific purpose. “We want to know, for example, how far the mosquitoes travel. We also train people to catch and analyse the mosquitoes.”

One of the catchers shines a flashlight on his net, and at least 10 mosquitoes fly about. The men carefully place their filled nets in a freezer. The following day the mosquitoes will be removed one by one and transported to the lab, where Namountougou will inspect whether they are modified or not. He has great optimism for future possibilities: “The malaria mosquito isn’t the only mosquito causing misery. With a gene drive we can also make dengue, Zika, and chikungunya disappear.”
0
0
0
 A mosquito catcher at work in Bana, Burkina Faso Photograph: Joost Bastmeijer
Nigeria - Buhari right not to have submitted certificates to INEC – Supreme Court
Image Profile
by FricNews
Nov 15, 2019 - 10:11
Politics
The Supreme Court has held that President Muhammadu Buhari was right not to have submitted his academic credentials to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The court, while giving reason for dismissing the appeal by the PDP and Atiku Abubakar, held that Buhari was eminently qualified to contest the last presidential election.

The court held that contrary to claim by the appellants, no law requires a candidate to submit his/her academic certificates to INEC before being allowed to contest election.

The Supreme Court also held that the constitution does not require one to possess secondary school certificate to be qualified, but that schooling up to secondary school, without possessing the result of the final examination was sufficient.

It said, Buhari did not only show that he has secondary certificate and rose to the rank of Major General in the Army, attended military training, became the nation’s Head of State, could communicate in English and possessed primary school leaving certificate, all to the satisfaction of INEC.

The court upheld the decision of the PEPC on the issues of Buhari’s qualification and possession of relevant certificates.

It resolved issues 1 and 2 against the PDP and Atiku.
0
0
8
Nigeria - How policeman raped colleague’s 9-year-old daughter in barracks
Image Profile
by FricNews
Nov 15, 2019 - 10:11
News
A 45-year-old policewoman (name withheld) on Thursday narrated to an Ikeja Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Court how a fellow police personnel, Mohammed Alidu, allegedly defiled her nine-year-old daughter in a police barracks.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the policewoman was the second Prosecution Witness (PW2) in the of trial of Alidu, a police sergeant, for defilement.

The PW2 was led in evidence by Mr Akin George, Deputy-Director, Lagos State Directorate of Public Prosecutions.

She said that the defendant accosted her daughter (name withheld) on her way home from school, dragged her into his house and defiled her.

“We live at Makinde Barracks, Mafoluku, Oshodi, Lagos.

“On June 29, 2018, I was at work when my husband, who was out of Lagos, called me to inform me that Sgt. Mohammed defiled our daughter.

“I went to the police station which is within the same compound of the barracks, and my daughter was in the police station.

“My daughter told me that when she was coming back from school, Mohammed called her but she did not respond.

“She said he forcefully took her to his apartment, put her on a bed, tore her underwear and defiled her,” she said.

According to her, Mohammed was also at the police station, begging and telling the divisional police officer that it was the work of the devil.

The policewoman said that her daughter was taken to the Mirabel Center (a sexual assault referral centre) for medical examination, and doctors confirmed that she was defiled.

During cross-examination by defence counsel, Mr Sunday Odise, the policewoman told the court that the defendant lived near her residence.

“He did not have a house within the barracks. He was sleeping in a shop opposite our home,” she said.

Earlier, the PW1 and the investigative police officer of the case, Sgt. Juweratu Ashiru, told the court that shortly after the alleged defilement, the victim reported the incident at the police station.

“She told me that when Mohammed dragged her into the wooden house he lived, to defile her, she screamed during her ordeal and that no one rescued her.

“Mohammed was arrested at the wooden house where the crime occurred, and when we took his confessional statement, he said that it was the devil’s work.

“He said we should forgive him and drop the case, but we refused and said that he must face the full wrath of the law.

“The victim’s underwear was torn. I recovered the underwear and it was kept as an exhibit in the Gender Unit of the Police Force,” Ashiru said.

NAN reports that Justice Abiola Soladoye ordered members of the public to leave the courtroom when the alleged victim, now 10-year-old, was to give evidence.

After she testified, the judge adjourned the case until Jan. 15, 2020, for continuation of trial.
0
0
8
Nigeria - Many feared killed as petrol tanker falls, explodes in Ogun
Image Profile
by FricNews
Nov 15, 2019 - 10:11
News
A petrol-laden tanker fell in the wee hours of Friday around Toll gate, Ota axis of Lagos-Abeokuta highway, while approaching Shoprite Store, killing yet to be identified number of people.

The tanker, DAILY POST learnt, went up in flames immediately, destroying lives, vehicles, and properties.

Confirming the incident, the Ogun State Traffic Compliance (TRACE) Corps Spokesperson, Babatunde Akinbiyi released a video of the inferno.

Akinbiyi told DAILY POST that there were casualties but the number could not be ascertained as of the time of filing this report.

According to Akinbiyi, the TRACE Corps, Fire Service agents, Federal Road Safety Corps, the police, the NSCDC, Naval officers and the Army were all on ground for rescue operations.

While sympathising with those affected by the ugly incident, Akinbiyi advised motorists to avoid Toll Gate Area for now.

“Nevertheless, they can go through the Old Ota Road to link Awolowo Road down to Sango under bridge to link Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway,” he said.
0
0
7
Guinea - Teen shot dead by police during protest: family, doctor
Image Profile
by FricNews
Nov 15, 2019 - 10:11
News
A Guinean teenager was shot dead on Thursday by police as he tried to flee a crackdown on anti-government protests in the capital Conakry, his family and a doctor said.

Alpha Souleymane Diallo, 19, was caught up in clashes and came face to face with two policemen who shot him in the chest, his elder brother Boubacar said.

A doctor at the Amitie Hospital confirmed that one person had died from bullet wounds.

The poor West African nation of about 13 million people has been shaken by violence during weeks of demonstrations over opposition suspicions that President Alpha Conde is seeking a third term in office, banned by the constitution.

At least 18 civilians and a paramilitary policeman have been killed since October 14. Dozens of people have been wounded and dozens more arrested.
0
0
7
South Africa - Study exchange programme a unique opportunity to learn about Chinese culture
Image Profile
by FricNews
Nov 15, 2019 - 10:11
Opinions
By Wesley Seale

Autumn is rather chilly in Beijing and one has to dress warmly especially if the invitation is to have dinner with a friend.Shaolong, a classmate and friend, has invited me to meet at a local mall. Shaolong has an English name as well.

It is not only in Africa that people have an English name in addition to their own name and, as with many languages, Shaolong has a special meaning.

The Chinese just think it more practical to have English names, as China grows faster and faster into becoming a leading country in the world.

We must meet at a mall. Invitations to people’s homes are rare, if not non-existent. Maybe because space is so limited in a city that plays home to 25million people.

Most social gatherings therefore entail a meal at a restaurant or karaoke spot. As a result, eating out is relatively cheap. Of course, the more fancier the place, the more delicious the cuisine, the more you pay.

Again, as in most cultures, Chinese people have a deep appreciation for sharing a meal.

When invited out for a meal it is because they value the friendship and the company.

Traffic in Beijing is a nightmare compared with South African cities. You have to plan an hour for travelling and punctuality is a must.

Do not arrive too early, lest you be thought of as starving. Never arrive late, it is an insult to the host. Bus works better these days.

In my first semester, I used the underground metro to go anywhere. Yet by metro one does not get to see the city and it is a bit more expensive, with a bigger crowd.

A bus ride generally costs about R2, with a normal journey entailing no more than two bus rides. The transport system is integrated, which means you can use the same card on the metro and the bus.

We thought of having this idea back home. Sadly, as with so many great ideas, it became stuck in the political will phase.

As one who has lived in Europe as well, China is much more like Africa. We do not mind bumping into each other, nor do we hesitate asking people for help.

Chinese people are friendlier than Europeans and always willing to help. The older ones will help you improve your Chinese while the younger ones will want to practise their English.

By the way, Chinese people do not speak Mandarin; they speak Chinese or Cantonese.

Often people would ask me how good my Mandarin was and I had to explain that Mandarin was rare and more complicated.

We will speak the language of the people, declared Chairman Mao.

Mandarin characters are much more intricate and it was used by the ruling elite, the Mandarins, in the old China.

One only has to see the difference when using the translate app on a cellphone, an app that often comes in handy.

In the bus or metro, adults give up their seats for children and older folk. There is a deep respect for children and older persons.

Back home one can understand why this is done for older folk, but generally children must stand up so that adults can sit.

It was one of the beautiful things that this culture shock experience taught me.

During occupation by the Japanese, the colonisers treated Chinese women and children terribly. As a result, there is a deep respect for women and children in China.

There exists what I like to call a Chinese feminism. A Chinese woman would think nothing of becoming hysterical or wailing loudy in public if her partner upset her.

The philosophy is: do not think that you can treat me any way you like. The poor guy is just sitting there feeling embarrassed because in Asia shame is a cardinal sin.

The other side to this Chinese feminism is that it is generally expected for the woman to make the first move. Unwarranted attention by men is therefore rare because men know that it is the woman that must initiate, and if she doesn’t, then oh well, we have to just move on swiftly.

Shaolong is at the restaurant already and checks with me whether what he has ordered is fine.

The food served here is authentic Chinese food, not like the commercialised Chinese food they serve back home.

South Africans generally only know châomià* spelt chow mein, fried noodles, or fried rice, châofà* .

Yet Chinese cuisine is much richer and, of course, depends on what region one comes from in China.

We agree that we need more of these kinds of interactions between Chinese and South Africans at this local level.

Friendship and learning to know each other will teach us how diverse we all are, but more importantly also just how much more we have in common.

The coldness of autumn therefore evaporates as the warmth of friendship and laughter, with help from the food and báijiu of cos, strengthens these two brothers once separated not by a bus ride, but by thousands of miles.

* Wesley Seale is currently pursuing his PhD in Sino-SA relations in Beijing.
0
0
12
South Africa - SCA to hear wife killer Jason Rohde’s bid for freedom
Image Profile
by FricNews
Nov 15, 2019 - 10:11
News
Convicted wife killer Jason Rohde will hear in two weeks if he will be allowed to be released on bail while he waits to appeal his murder sentence and conviction.The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) informed Rohde on Thursday his bail application would be heard on November 28.

This after Western Cape High Court Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlope dismissed his application in August.

Rohde was convicted on November 8 last year of the murder of his wife Susan at the Spier Hotel in Stellenbosch in 2016 and defeating the course of justice.

He was sentenced on February 27, this year to a 20-year prison term.

In dismissing his bail bid, Judge Salie-Hlophe said: “This court is of the view that releasing Rohde on bail for the reasons advanced would offend the rule of law and would make a mockery of the criminal justice system.”

Rohde’s counsel, William King then petitioned the SCA and secured leave to appeal to that court.

King submits that Rohde is not a flight risk, will not interfere with anyone or anything if released on bail, and that he is not a danger to society.

In papers, his counsel seeks an order that the appeal be upheld and that bail of R50000 is fixed pending the finalisation of the appeal against the conviction and sentence imposed.

“Unfortunately, with the lengthy trial and associated costs to date Rohde is without money and being represented on a pro amico and pro bono basis and supported by friends,” his counsel submitted. In papers, the State argued to release him on the basis that he had been granted leave to appeal and allow him thus to manage his wealth and comforts would threaten law and order.

“He will, if released on bail, undermine or jeopardise the objectives or the proper functioning of the criminal justice system. There is a good chance of Rohde’s appeal against his convictions and sentence not succeeding,” the State argued.
0
0
5
World - 246 children die of measles daily –Expert
Image Profile
by FricNews
Nov 15, 2019 - 10:11
Health
About 246 children die of measles daily across the world. 

An official of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Adetunji Adeoye, disclosed this while speaking at the flag off ceremony of Introduction of second dose measles into the Regular Immunisation (RI) in Akure, the Ondo State capital, yesterday.

He also disclosed that Nigeria is in the fourth position in the ranking of measles infected countries in the world and third in Africa.

According to him, measles affects ears, brains and eyes of children and eventually kill them.

He said the window was opened for second opportunity for children who couldn’t take first vaccination within age nine months, noting that the exercise would last seven days.

Adeoye enjoined parents to take their children between one day and 23 months to nearby health centres and not to entertain any fear, saying health workers had been trained to administer the vaccine

He added that apart from measles vaccine, children between five and 14 years would be given deworming drug, nothing that health personnel would go to all schools in the state to administer the drug.

Commissioner for Health, Wahab Adegbenro, said over 17,000 cases of measles occurred in Nigeria annually despite huge amount of money expended by government.

The commissioner said the second dose would provide high immunity against measles.

In his remarks, Executive Secretary of Ondo State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Francis Akanbiemu, said introduction of Measles Containing Vaccine 2 (MCV2) is not a replacement for MCV1, which is always given to children at nine months old.
0
0
5
Nigeria - Hate Speech Bill: Beware of entrenching tyranny, anarchy – Archbishop Martins warns law makers
Image Profile
by FricNews
Nov 15, 2019 - 10:11
News
Nigerian law makers have been cautioned to tread softly on their reported move to pass a bill recommending capital punishment for those found culpable of hate speech in the country.

The Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev Dr. Alfred Adewale Martins, while reacting to the controversy that has greeted the issue, warned that any attempt by the law makers to criminalize the freedom of expression, which is an inherent right of every human in a democracy, would be tantamount to entrenching tyranny and anarchy on the land.

In a release signed by the Acting Director of Social Communications of the Archdiocese of Lagos, Rev Fr Anthony Godonu, Archbishop Martins argued that mass advocacy coupled with running a truthful, transparent and credible government would help to curb hate speech and peddling of falsehood rather than passing a new law with such an irreversible sort of punishment. A government that is transparent, truthful and credible which gives ample evidence of its performances would by itself put detractors to shame and render them voiceless.

“My attention has been drawn to an on-going move by the law makers to pass a bill criminalizing hate speech and proposing death sentence for those convicted. I believe such a move should be discarded as it borders on infringing on the right to freedom of expression. Would the passage of such a bill contradict the Nigerian constitution which provides for the freedom of expression for all citizens? In any case, there are enough provisions in our law books to address such issues that border on character assassination, sedition, etc.” Apart from that, such a law could become a tool for persecuting anyone whose way of expressing dissenting opinions is offends powerful people in society. Who determines when an expression of thought becomes hate speech could become tricky.

“While I agree that there is need to curtail the spread of hate speech and fake news in the media, the approach to curbing them as being contemplated would amount to killing a fly with a sledge hammer. I believe the best way to stop the excesses of those who engage in hate speech and peddling fake news is through advocacy and continuous dialogue with the relevant stakeholders in the communications industry. In addition, it seems hate speech thrives in atmospheres of distrust, anger and fear. I believe, that if government is able to win the confidence of the masses by entrenching truth, transparency and respect for the rule of law in all of its activities, then it would have removed the fertile soil of deceit upon which falsehood thrives.”

Rather than dissipating energy on attempting to pass bills that would further create a gulf between the masses of the people and their leaders, Archbishop Martins urged the law makers to join hands with the Executive and Judicial arms of government and work towards providing good governance for all.
0
0
12
Zimbabwe - Budget goes pro-people
Image Profile
by FricNews
Nov 15, 2019 - 10:11
News
FINANCE and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube yesterday presented a pro-people 2020 National Budget, which announced various safety nets for vulnerable people including bonuses for all civil servants this month, a better mass public transport system and an increase in the tax free threshold to $2 000.

Presented under the theme, “Gearing for Higher Productivity, Growth and Job Creation”, the budget has several worker-friendly measures including revising the tax-free bonus threshold from $1 000 to $5 000. The bonus is based on gross salary.

Economic analysts and social commentators view a “people’s budget” as one that seeks to create a brighter future for all citizens, ensuring that every family struggling for survival has a fair opportunity to live well.

Investment in infrastructure, safety and prosperity of citizens is seen as crucial.

In an environment of rising prices, bonuses will avail more disposable incomes for civil servants ahead of the festive season.

Prof Ncube revealed that against the background of the inflationary environment, employee incomes will be reviewed constantly to ensure a decent living for citizens.

The tax free threshold was raised from $700 to $2 000, implying that at current salaries of $1 023 for the lowest paid civil servant, most of them will not be taxed.

Tax bands had been adjusted to begin at $2 001 and end at $50 000, above which the highest marginal tax rate of 40 percent would apply with effect from 1 January, 2020.

He said Government also remained committed to social dialogue and planned to put in motion, the establishment of an independent secretariat to oversee the work of the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF) as provided for in the TNF Act.

Through social dialogue, Government, business and labour would develop measures to address the socio-economic challenges confronting the country.

To protect vulnerable groups in society, Government intended to extend targeted subsidies on the production of roller meal, cooking oil and the standard loaf of bread.

A reimbursement system would be implemented to extend the subsidy to the producers of roller meal, cooking oil and standard bread through tax set-off arrangements where possible, and voucher schemes.

Prof Ncube added that Government would continue subsidising the mass transport system and capacitate Zupco to provide an efficient public transport system.

Zupco would be capacitated to purchase more reliable conventional buses to reduce the burden on both urban and rural people.

In addition, Government had ring-fenced the importation of 100 public service buses of a sitting capacity of at least 60 passengers, at a reduced customs duty rate of 5 percent to ease transport challenges.

To date, 51 buses had been imported and Prof Ncube proposed to extend the facility for 12 months beginning January next year to afford an opportunity to other bus operators to replenish their fleets.

An operator would be limited to five buses.

In terms of housing provision, Government was seeking to bridge the 1,3 million unit housing backlog within the context of urban renewal or regeneration under the National Housing Delivery Programme. This involved the modernisation of old or dilapidated superstructures and the attendant infrastructural services such as sewer and water.

The National Human Settlements Policy being developed would guide the operations in the housing sector including urban regeneration for projects such as Mbare in Harare, Sakubva in Mutare and Makokoba in Bulawayo, funded through the market. “On its part, Government will avail land and support local authorities invest in servicing of the land by putting up required infrastructure such as roads, water and sewer lines and water reservoirs.

“This allows the middle class to invest in housing construction. For the less privileged, Government, through vehicles such as UDCORP and IDBZ, will support implementation of various housing projects countrywide.

“Furthermore, and given the fact that land is a finite resource, flats will be constructed in identified sites with existing off and on site infrastructure such as Budiriro, Dombotombo in Marondera and Senondo in Gwanda,” said Prof Ncube.

Civil service accommodation and institutional accommodation would be given priority on a cost recovery mechanism.

Government would also scale up social protection interventions for vulnerable citizens at a time when over six million people required food aid in rural areas.

An additional 2,2 million in urban areas also need assistance, according to the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC) report. Food insecure citizens would be supported up to March next year.

Labour constrained households which consist of persons with disabilities, the chronically ill, elderly and child-headed households would be entitled to free food handouts among other interventions like assisted health care under the Assisted Medical Treatment Orders (AMTO) facility and cash transfers.

To avert starvation during the peak hunger period of January to March 2020, the Budget proposes to allocate $5,2 billion for purchase and importation of grain.

Non-labour constrained households shall participate in public works programmes to be undertaken in the communities.

Prof Ncube said resources were being mobilised to allow communities to undertake small income generating projects under the Sustainable Livelihoods programme.

The Harmonised Social Cash Transfer to vulnerable households was also being scaled up from the current 23 districts to 33 in an effort to cushion vulnerable communities, said Prof Ncube.

“Districts not yet targeted for Harmonised Social Cash Transfer will continue to be assisted under the traditionally means tested Public Assistance programme,” he said.

Under the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM), Government was currently assisting 415 000 children but this was being scaled up to cater for 1,2 million children.

Prof Ncube said children living under difficult circumstances continued to get assistance under the Children in Difficult Circumstances Fund, with those living in children institutions getting more support. Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) donations were being channelled towards those living under institutional care.

Government would continue to play its role in capitalising various institutions which support women, youth and medium and small scale enterprises (MSMEs) besides facilitating access to markets, workspace, trade promotion and capacity building, among other functions.

The 2020 Budget provides for capitalisation of institutions that support various MSMEs projects which include the Women Development Fund ($20 million); the Community Development Fund ($15 million); the Zimbabwe Women Microfinance Bank ($100 million); SMEDCO ($90 million); and Empowerbank ($50 million).

Prof Ncube said specific allocation in support of projects and programmes aimed at empowering women, including the completion of refurbishment of training centres, Jamaica Inn and Rodger Howman, construction of safe houses in all provinces in 2020 would be made.
0
0
7
President Emmerson Mnangagwa with Vice President Kembo Mohadi (left) and Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Professor Mthuli Ncube (right) at the presentation of the 2020 National Budget St
Zimbabwe - Suicide pastor’s spirit haunts lover . . . Lover’s ghost pays nocturnal visits to place of death
Image Profile
by FricNews
Nov 15, 2019 - 10:11
News
A Bulawayo woman is experiencing nocturnal visitations from a shadowy apparition which she suspected to be that of her late pastor lover who committed suicide four months ago at her house.

Prisca Ncube (21) complained that she was being visited by the spirit of her late lover Prophet Thembani Ngwenya who was a member of the Inhlanganiso Yama Nazaretha Apostolic Church.

In an interview with B-Metro Ncube said her dead lover’s spirit began visiting her soon after his burial. She, however, didn’t divulge events that led Prophet Ngwenya to commit suicide at her house.

“I no longer have peaceful nights because of my late lover whose spirit is always visiting me. The spirit shows up and sometimes it would just hover on the door while handing over keys to me. At times the spirit would be charging at me saying I should I leave it,” said a troubled Ncube.

She said her family had tried to assist her but to no avail.

“Sometimes in my dream I see his lifeless body dangling from a roof truss of my rented room where he hanged himself,” said Ncube.

She said it was a double tragedy for her as Ngwenya’s family and his wife she only identified as MaMoyo were also baying for her blood.

“Ngwenya’s wife and her relatives are always threatening me saying they will fix me. They are accusing me of having caused Ngwenya’s death and if it was not officers from Pumula Police Station who intervened they would have mercilessly attacked me,” added Ncube.

Circumstances are that sometime in August this year Ncube’s fellow tenant Munyaradzi Musakai (23) discovered Ngwenya’s lifeless body hanging from a roof truss of her room.

Ngwenya reportedly used a blue fleece jacket to hang himself and left a suicide note whose contents Ncube, however, refused to disclose to B-Metro.
According to a post-mortem report Ngwenya died as a result of hanging.
0
0
5
Prisca Ncube
Zimbabwe - Cash leaks: Two banks in trouble
Image Profile
by FricNews
Nov 15, 2019 - 10:11
News
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) is investigating CBZ Bank and Ecobank for allegedly illegally releasing $59 180 of the new bond notes and coins to two clients.Pictures of wads of bank notes and a bucketful of coins channelled to the black market circulated on social media platforms, sparking a public outcry at a time when depositors were struggling to withdraw money from banks.

Lucky depositors were getting as little as $100 each, amid reports that some illegal currency traders were already in possession of large amounts of the new notes and coins.

RBZ Governor Dr John Mangudya yesterday said preliminary investigations into the suspected illegal issuance of coins and notes revealed that a CBZ Bank customer was involved.

“Investigations by RBZ at CBZ indicated that an amount of $44, 180 was withdrawn by one of their customers. In this regard, CBZ Bank together with their customer are now assisting the Zimbabwe Republic Police with further investigations,” he said.
“As advised in our earlier Press statement (involving Ecobank), appropriate disciplinary measures shall be taken against those bent on damaging confidence by placing such pictures on social platforms.

“Such behaviour causes unnecessary anxiety and despondency within the economy.”
Last night, CBZ Group Chief Executive Officer Dr Blessing Mudavanhu declined to comment, referring all questions to the bank’s corporate affairs manager Mrs Laura Gwatiringa, whose phone was not going through.

In the case of Ecobank, Dr Mangudya said the central bank had found out that the bank notes circulating on social media had emanated from the bank.

“Preliminary investigations by RBZ at Ecobank indicate that an amount of $15 000 was withdrawn by one of their customers.

“Ecobank, together with their customer, are now assisting the Zimbabwe Republic Police with further investigations,” he said. No comment could be obtained from Ecobank.

Dr Mangudya said the apex bank will strongly punish the implicated banks to ensure illegal activities do not recur.

Before the presentation of the 2020 National Budget in Parliament yesterday, Makonde MP Cde Kindness Paradza rose on a point of privilege and called for the punishment of banks involved in channelling money to the black market when genuine depositors were not getting money.
0
0
6
Uganda - Orphans are 50% more likely to drop out of school– study
Image Profile
by FricNews
Nov 15, 2019 - 9:11
News
A study done by three researchers under fhi360, a research firm, titled, “Child Vulnerability and education attainment in Uganda’, shows that orphans in age ranges of six to 12 years are more likely to be out of school than primary aged non- orphans.

John Atugonza, became an ‘adult’ just at 14 years of age when both his parents passed on in an accident. He started raising his siblings, much as he was not yet an adult.

Fortunately, at the time, there was universal secondary education, provided by the Government. However, after Senior Six, he decided to start a charcoal business to earn some money to keep his two siblings in school; who have, as of today all managed to graduate from various universities.  

He is just one of the several orphans in Uganda and sub-Saharan Africa, who struggles to look after their siblings and themselves.  A few lucky few, study to the tertiary level, but a number of them fail to join or stay in school.

Of late, the number of orphans in school has been increasing in the country, much as it has started. The 2016 UBOS report shows that the number and percentage of orphans in schools, reduced from 1,256,172 (15.1%) in 2012 to 956,972 (11.5%), and later shot up to 1,073,569 (12.4%) the following year. Today, it is estimated by the education ministry that there are 1,200,100 orphans in school, accounting for 13.4% of children in school.

The 2017 Education Sector Report shows that majority of the orphans; 905,610 (84.4%) are found in Government schools.    Analysis by grade indicates that most orphans are in P.1 (206,054)   and these decrease with ascendance to higher classes.   This indicates the possibility of orphans dropping out of school due to various reasons.

A study done by three researchers under fhi360, a research firm, titled, “Child Vulnerability and education attainment in Uganda’, shows that orphans in age ranges of six to 12 years are more likely to be out of school than primary aged non- orphans.

“In Uganda, this is only true of children aged 6-9.” It reads.

Among children aged 10-13 and 14-17 in Uganda, the study shows, “Orphans are 50 percent more likely to be out of school than non-orphans and differences are statistically significant.”

More so, overall, the number of primary-aged orphans who are out of school is 18 percent in Tanzania to 12 percent in Uganda.

The study adds that, although older orphans appear to be disadvantaged in terms of school attendance, those who do attend school do not appear to perform any better or worse than non-orphans on the Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality (SACMEQ) learning assessment.

Tuition-free primary education has been available in Uganda for two decades but universal enrollment has yet to be attained, as the Net Enrollment Ratio (NER) stands at 83%; owing to issues like orphanhood and poverty, among others, keeping children out of school.  Studies show that due to lack of guidance, financial and moral support, at times some orphans end up dropping out of school. There are also several hidden costs and at times illegal costs, under free primary education, like lunch fees, uniforms, books and boarding school fees.

Usually, the most obvious and likely outcome of being an orphan especially at a very tender age is missing out on education, according to a 2012 study by Anthony Tamusuza, a researcher in Uganda. Several recent studies have shown that orphans are more vulnerable than non-orphans concerning schooling.

In his research, ‘Leaving School Early: The quest for Universal Primary Education in Uganda’ he says, being an orphan, alongside other factors increase the likelihood of children dropping out of school.

Tamusuza’s study also shows, “Orphans and non-orphans are equally likely to enroll in primary school but, once enrolled, orphans are more likely to drop out.”

The Uganda Demographic and Health Survey (UDHS) reports show that there are about 2.4 million orphaned children in Uganda. The findings further show that orphanhood in Uganda has been slightly on the decrease across the three survey periods, from 15% in 2005/06 to 11% in 2016/17.

The 2016 Uganda Demographic and Health Survey report shows that, 32% of households in Uganda have foster or orphaned children. There are more households with single (have lost one parent) orphans (12%) than double orphans (lost both parents) (2%).

The same report shows that there are over 88,000 children (0.7%) who are living in child-headed households, while 13.1 percent (1.8 million children) lived in elderly headed households. Some of these child-headed home, are headed by orphans.

Is free education a solution

Free primary education partly helping reduce of the drop out of orphans as the former education minister Namirembe Bitamazire says. “But this cannot be a complete solution to this problem. Orphans need much more than school fees,” she says.

Ronald Mayanja, the founder of Ability Explored, an organization geared at helping orphans and vulnerable children also says, “Even with free primary and secondary education, children do not only need fees to keep in school,” argues.

“Apart from social protection, children also need uniforms, books, and food to eat. “Without good families, social networks and organizations to help, we are ignoring a big population in our country. This a big lot of abandoned children in the country,” Mayanja adds.

Although the Government allocates 14% of its total budget to education, households still foot the highest bill towards the education of their children. This means that even with free education, orphans in whichever homes they stay in, still suffer with the blunt of paying fees.

The 2016 National Education Accounts (NEA) report by UBOS and the education ministry, with support from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), found that in 2014, households funded 47.23% of the education budget, the Government 27.21% and development partners 24.65%, up from 6.05% in the previous year. The same report shows that most of the Government expenditure went to paying salaries (38%) and administrative costs– 41%; leaving the funding of pedagogy to parents.

 “A lot of information on household expenditure goes unrecorded and yet the household expenditure contribution to the sector is highly significant,” stated the report.

The 2016 UNESCO studies also note that that with fees averaging $450 (about sh1.6m) per year in primary and secondary urban schools, many families simply cannot afford to send their children to a good school.

With Uganda’s GDP per capita at $673.21 (2015), it means families are spending almost three-quarters of their incomes on education leaving nothing for savings or investment.

Joseph Mulindwa, a parent at St. Mary’s College Kisubi says, “With this kind of high-cost education, how do orphans without so much help get to cope?”

Way forward

Epaphrodite Nsabimana, the learning and research manager at Hope and Homes for children, a charity organisation based in the UK, that seeks to eliminate orphanages has three words to say about institutionalization of children; unwanted, damaging and unnecessary.

He notes that globally, about 8million children live in orphanages despite their demerits.

Nsabimana explains, “Residential care facilities require staffing, salaries must be paid, buildings must be maintained et cetera”

The researcher explains that in South Africa, they found that keeping a child in institutional care was six times more expensive than keeping them in a family. Also in Tanzania, they found that the annual cost of keeping a child in an institution cost $1000, still six times the cost of one child in a family.

More so, Ronald Mayanja, the founder of Ability Explored, an organization geared at helping orphans and vulnerable children say the onus is on all of us to lend whatever we can, to help the needy. “It is not just about money. All kind of help can be vital in helping needy children. I personally at times run campaigns to collect sh1,000 from whoever cares, for the orphans we take care of.”

He was a couple of weeks ago, at St. Cyprian High School, Kyabakadde in Mukono, on the same campaign. “I do believe in children growing up in other people’ homes, not orphanages.”

His organization is taking care of about 100 orphans in different schools around the country. “Instead of waiting for donations, we also try to teach children to work hard wherever they have a chance to improve their lives. We go to communities and schools, to get students to collect their coins to support their colleagues.”

He adds, that a focused orphan is more likely to succeed in life if fully committed to the cause of making it in life. “We must as a country and communities be intentional in helping orphans.”

More so, Pr. Wilson Bugembe says that all churches and communities must find a way of protecting the children in their vicinity. “You are the best people in your community to shield the children from all troubles of life. Wherever I find an opportunity, I always try to help the orphans in whichever way I can, since I was also an orphan.”

Pr. Bugembe, who partly raised his brothers, started an orphanage with his friends, way back as secondary school students. Their desire to support the needy later grew into an orphanage now run by his friend Apostle Wilfred Rugumba. Their philosophy is that it is better to support orphans within the homes of their relatives, other than a foster home.

Ministry’s take

Government through the minister of gender, labour and social development is working closely with orphanages, to ensure they are monitored and other closed, to get children to their families. Government, as a policy believes children should grow up with relatives and not orphanages. 

The assistant commissioner for children James Kaboggoza says Government would want to see most of the orphanages closed. “Child need a better support system of their communities they come from, not orphanages.”

The state minister for higher education Dr. John Chrysostom Muyingo says that parents and communities should be open to supporting the orphans.

“All children who lose their parents deserve to live a good and normal life like all other children. It is more reason I advocate for children to be raised in relatives’ homes, other than orphanages if there is a choice. Unfortunately, at times, this choice is not available,” he says.

He calls upon all people, in their different groupings, to start foundations to support such children. “We should not wait for other people to help those children. It starts with you. What have you done, to give back to the Lord who has helped you grow and succeed? If we all care and pay attention, orphans ill not failed to get educated.” 

 He also calls upon the willing school proprietors, to always offer some slots to orphans and vulnerable children. “But it starts with your heart. You cannot force people to help.”

Other countries case studies

In Africa, Rwanda is in the final lap of closing its orphanages and so far, 80 percent of the children under institutional care in Rwanda have been reintegrated into either home-based care system. In Malawi, the government is already closing down 400 orphanages and reintegrating the children into the community.
0
0
5
Uganda - TASO employee arrested over theft of HIV testing kits
Image Profile
by FricNews
Nov 15, 2019 - 9:11
News
Police in Mbale District have arrested a laboratory technician attached to The AIDS Support Organisation (TASO), over theft of about 60 HIV testing kits worth Shs2.7 million.

It’s alleged that Stephen Aupal requisitioned the testing kits from Bufumbo Health Centre IV on November 4, 2019 using a forged stamp and signature of the branch Manager. He later sold off the kits.

Elgon region Police Spokesperson, Robert Tukei confirmed the arrest on Wednesday and said the suspect informed detectives that he sold the HIV testing kits to Tash Biomedical Laboratory Supplies Company Limited, situated on Pallisa road in Mbale town.

“We have arrested him and he is currently detained. He committed a serious offense with two others, who are currently on the run,” Mr Tukei, said.
Mr Tukei noted that the suspect would be produced before court for stealing government testing kits after investigations are completed.

He added the case of fraud is registered under CRB 2002/2019 at Mbale Central Police station against the suspects.

The Mbale District Health Officer, Dr Jonathan Wangisi, said the suspect defrauded them using a forged requisition form.

“We got a TASO staff who forged his supervisor’s stamp and signature and made a requisition through my office to get HIV testing kits. At that time we didn’t know that it was a fraud, “Dr Wangisi, said, adding after approving the requisition, he referred the suspect to Bufumbo Health Centre IV to get the testing kits.

“We realized that it was fraud when the suspect took another requisition in a period of one week and this prompted them to report case to police,” he said.
Dr Wangisi said a team of health officials are still conducting a search to find out where the suspect could have sold the kits.

The Inventory officer of Bufumbo Health Cnetre IV, Mr Menya Balonde, told Daily Monitor that released the testing kits to the suspect because he had requisition form from his branch manager approved by the DHO.

“I first gave him 60 HIV testing kits but surprisingly within short time, the same person came back with another requisition for more testing kits. I then contacted Manager TASO who told me he was not aware of any requisition,” Mr Balonde, said.

The manager TASO, Mbale branch, Dr Bonny Oryokot, declined to comment saying the case is under investigations.

“Let’s allow the process of investigation to continue and after that I will interact with you how it happened,” Dr Oryokot, said.

When Daily Monitor visited Tash Biomedical Laboratory supplies Company Limited, where the suspect is said to have sold the kits, the owner identified only as Mr Ambrose, dismissed the allegations.

“Much as the suspect is pinning us, I don’t do such business. Maybe the suspect is using that excuse to get off the hook.”
0
0
5
Nigeria - Court remands father for raping 17-year-old daughter
Image Profile
by FricNews
Nov 15, 2019 - 9:11
News
An Ikeja Chief Magistrates’ Court on Thursday ordered that a 45-year-old man, Aderemi Adeleja, who allegedly defiled his 17-year-old daughter, be remanded in a correctional centre pending legal advice.

The Chief Magistrate, Olufunke Sule-Amzat, who did not take the plea of the defendant, ordered that he should be remanded in the Nigerian Correctional Service in Kirikiri.

The News Agency of Nigeria reported that the police charged Adeleja, who lives on Afariogun Street, Oshodi, Lagos, with sexual assault and defilement.

Sule-Amzat ordered the police to send the case file to the Lagos State Director of Public Prosecutions for advice and adjourned the case till February 2, 2020.

Earlier, the prosecutor, ASP Benson Emuerhi, told the court that Adeleja committed the offence on November 2, around 11.44 pm.

He alleged that Adeleja raped the girl while she was asleep.

Emuerhi said the case was reported at the Area ‘F’ Police Command, Ikeja, by the girl’s mother and later transferred to the Gender Section, Ikeja Police Command.

He said, “The offence contravenes the provisions of sections 35, 137 and 265 of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State 2015.”
0
0
5
Nigeria - Position on Oshiomhole Personal, Says APC Govs’ DG
Image Profile
by FricNews
Nov 15, 2019 - 9:11
News
The Director General of Progressives Governors Forum (PGF), a club of All Progressives Congress (APC) governors, Dr. Salihu Lukman, has clarified that he did not speak on behalf of the governors when he asked the National Chairman, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole to convene the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the party or resign from office, stressing that he only expressed the sentiment of APC members.

However, despite the clarification, the forum of state chairmen of the APC has called on the governors of the party to sack the director general of its forum, accusing him of causing disaffection within the APC.

Lukman, had in a statement issued on Wednesday, demanded that Oshiomhole should convene the statutory NEC meeting to resolve some of the lingering crisis in the party or resign from office.

But, while addressing a press conference thursday in Abuja, Lukman called on party leaders to rise up and demand that the NEC meeting be convened.

He stated categorically that unless former President Olusegun Obasanjo is Oshiomhole’s role model in politics, then he needs to listen and convene the NEC meeting.

“I have not received any call that asked me why did you do that – not one, including from the governors. There is no meeting of governors where decision was taken on this matter. That is why I said first and foremost, I am talking as a Nigerian; two, I am talking as a party member; and three, as somebody who relates, I know the sentiment, everybody is worried,” he said.

He recalled that during Oshiomhole’s declaration speech on May 10, 2018, the national chairman had promised to ensure that all organs of the party meet as stipulated in the constitution, but lamented that the last time the NEC meeting was held was in August 2018.

He added: “I want to say that all that we tried to do especially with respect to the statement in question; first and foremost we are Nigerians; two, we are party members and three I can tell you that as privileged person, being the DG of PGF, I am privileged to relate with not just governors, I relate with virtually everybody in the party and to that extent, one can have a feel in terms of the concerns, the worry and really the frustration that exist in the party.

“I thought I need to make this background clarification because I received calls from people asking me whether the statement is coming from governors or I’m issuing it as a person. Those issues need not even come up. What is at stake is the substance, the content, if anybody wants to dispute it, let him go into the content.”

Lukman noted that the request for Oshiomhole to convene a meeting of NEC was inspired by his commitment when he announced his intention to run for the national chairmanship of the party.

Lukman said he predicted that Oshiomhole and the group loyal to him would move to pronounce the suspension or expulsion of Governor Godwin Obaseki, adding that his prediction has come to pass.

He noted that the NWC met on Tuesday and rather than deliberate on the court judgment that disqualified the Bayelsa State deputy governorship candidate so that appropriate step could be taken, it only deliberated on Edo APC crisis.
Lukman also said that with the purported cross-carpeting of Pastor Ize-Iyamu from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to APC, he predicted that the party is going to have a ‘celebration of fight’ during the primary that will produce the governorship candidate in Edo State, saying that it would be the beginning of the party’s undoing in Edo State.
He emphasised that the party can begin to address this issue by convening meeting of the statutory organ, which is the NEC, that can listen to everybody and make a pronouncement which everybody would respect.

APC State Chairmen Demand Lukman’s Sack

Meanwhile, the forum of state chairmen of the APC has called on the governors of the party to sack the Director General of its forum, accusing him of causing disaffection within the APC.

The forum made the call in a statement issued yesterday and jointly signed by its Chairman, Mr. Ali Dalori and Secretary, Mr. Ben Nwoye.

The forum noted that it had initially decided to ignore the director general, but as stakeholders in the party, it found his actions and comments very suspicious.

It added that the position of the National Chairman of the party is not a child’s play, adding that the forum would not allow it to be demeaned by Lukman.
0
0
6
Adams Oshiomhole
Nigeria - INEC’s Big Dilemma: Will Election Hold in Bayelsa State With or Without APC?
Image Profile
by FricNews
Nov 15, 2019 - 9:11
News
Faced by last minute court judgments, a notice of appeal and an impending stay of execution of rulings from the appellate court, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) thursday played safe, saying despite the judicial proceedings, the governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi States scheduled for tomorrow would hold as planned.

“Dear colleagues, the meeting has ended but we are not issuing a statement. However, our elections in both Kogi and Bayelsa will go on as planned,” the commission said through the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC chairman, Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi, after a meeting of the commission last night.

But it fell short of telling whether the election would go on in Bayelsa State with or without the All Progressives Congress (APC), where a Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja on Tuesday disqualified the governorship running mate, Senator Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, on the grounds that he supplied false information to the electoral commission contrary to the Electoral Act 2010 as amended.

The judgment compromised the candidacy of the APC in the contest as in view of Section 187 (1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, the nomination of the party’s candidate, Mr. David Lyon, was technically nullified.

The party, however, approached the Court of Appeal in Abuja on Wednesday and eventually got a stay of execution of the judgment via an ex parte process yesterday.

But another Federal High Court, sitting in Yenagoa, the state capital, yesterday nullified the APC primaries and the nomination of Lyon as the party’s candidate.

“Once we are served with the ruling, we would study them and know what the courts wants us to do; and we would comply accordingly,” said the National Commissioner, Voter Education and Information, Mr. Festus Okoye.
The INEC has only today to do that study and inform the public on the fate of the APC.

The APC, political analysts told THISDAY last night, might have made the same mistakes it made in Zamfara and Rivers States, where multiple litigations and court rulings arising from disputes from its primaries for the 2019 general election robbed it of a chance to contest in the poll in Rivers, while its votes in Zamfara were nullified as wasted ballots by the Supreme Court.

In its judgment on Tuesday, Justice Inyang Ekwo had disqualified Degi-Eremienyo from participating in the governorship election for providing conflicting information in his documents submitted to the electoral commission.
The court agreed with the arguments of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that Degi-Eremienyo gave false information in support of his candidacy to the INEC.

While APC was still smarting from the verdict, the Yenagoa Division of the Federal High Court, in a judgment yesterday, quashed the primaries that produced Lyon and barred the APC from participating in the Saturday election.
It held that the party did not follow its electoral guidelines in conducting the primaries and should not be allowed to profit from its mistakes.

But THISDAY learnt that as at press time, INEC had not been served the enrolled order of judgment of the court in Yenagoa.

However, a partial reprieve came later yesterday for APC as the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, granted a stay on the execution of the judgment of the lower court in Abuja that disqualified the APC running mate and by consequence Lyon to whom he is constitutionally conjoined to run the race.

That leaves the party with yesterday’s judgment barring both Lyon and Degi-Eremienyo from the election to contend with.
Amid the legal confusion, which has the potential to exacerbate the threats of violence that could mar the elections, President Muhammadu Buhari called for fairness and transparency to ensure the smooth conduct of the polls in Bayelsa and Kogi States.

But rising from a meeting yesterday in Abuja, the Election Management Body (EMB) of INEC said the elections were on course.

A senior INEC official, who asked not to be named because he was not authorised to speak, told THISDAY that INEC’s decision to allow the elections to go ahead as planned, might not be unconnected with the decision of the Court of Appeal that stayed the judgment of the lower court.

Court Nullifies APC Primaries, Bars Party from Gov Poll

Justice Jane Inyang of the Federal High Court in Yenagoa affirmed that the APC breached the rules when another person announced the results of the party’s primary election, other than the statutorily recognised authority, the chairman of the party’s National Electoral Committee.

Justice Inyang had made the declaration while entering judgment in a suit filed by one of APC’s governorship aspirants, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, who had instituted the case against the APC, its standard bearer, Lyon and INEC over the outcome of the September 4, governorship primaries in the state.

However, the judge declined to declare Lokpobiri, a former minister, the valid candidate, as requested in his prayers before the court.

Justice Inyang noted that the exercise was conducted arbitrarily outside the rules of the party.
She ruled that since the process was conducted in violation of the party’s constitution and guidelines for the conduct of governorship primaries, none of the aspirants should be fielded as the party’s candidate.

She, therefore, restrained INEC from fielding Lyon as the party’s candidate in the election.
She held that by the APC guidelines for the conduct of the 2019 governorship primaries, the results were expected to be declared by the returning officer for the primaries, Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State, and not Senator Emmanuel Ochega, secretary of the election committee, who announced the results.

According to her, the APC also violated its own rules in the composition of the election panel when it constituted an 11-member committee rather than seven stipulated by the rules.

She said: “It has been established by judicial authorities and several judgments that political parties are bound by their own rules. The committee that conducted the primaries threw caution to the winds and it is my ruling that the primaries stand nullified.

“The results announced by Senator Emmanuel Ochega are not valid as he is not the returning officer for the election, and I make an order restraining INEC from recognising any of the aspirants that participated in the said primaries.”
Justice Inyang chastised the Bayelsa governorship primaries election committee headed by Mala Buni, saying it was clear that the committee threw caution to the wind while conducting and announcing the outcome of the September 4 exercise.
“Neither the plaintiff nor the first defendant can lay claim to the ticket of the party. The governorship primaries are hereby set aside.”

She also directed INEC not to include Lokpobiri and Lyon on the ballot paper.
“The legal unit of INEC is to be served quickly,” the judge said.

APC, Lyon’s Legal Team Reject Court’s Ruling

Lead counsel to the APC and Lyon, Mr. Sydney Ibanichuka, in an interview, said the judgment was a travesty of justice.

He said the court granted a request that was not part of the suit before it.
He said: “What has happened is a travesty of justice. It has been said before that the court is not Father Christmas. The court cannot dish out orders not asked for.

“The request was to be declared winner and not to nullify the entire process. What the court just did was to cancel the whole process and there were documents attached, which showed that there was nothing wrong with the process.”
APC has also kicked against the judgment, urging the people not to lose sleep over the ruling.

The Campaign Director, Lyon Campaign, told reporters in Yenagoa, that the judgment was suspicious.
“We reject this judgment and by November 16, APC will take over this state. This judgment is baffling but we want to say going forward that the people of Bayelsa should not give any thought or moment of sleeplessness to this judgment,” he said.

Reprieve as A’Court Stops Execution of Disqualification Order

Reprieve, however, came the way of APC on participating in the election following an order of the Court of Appeal, sitting in Abuja, which yesterday halted the execution of the judgment of the Federal High Court that disqualified Lyon and his running mate.

Justice Ekwo of the Abuja Division of the lower court had disqualified Degi-Eremienyo on account of lying on oath.
Dissatisfied with the decision of the lower court, Degi-Eremienyo and Lyon had approached the Court of Appeal to reverse the decision and allow them to participate in the governorship poll.

Outside the notice of appeal against Justice Ekwo’s judgment, the appellants had also filed a motion for stay of execution of the disqualification order of the lower court.

The appellate court in its ruling, however, cleared the coast for the participation of the APC’s candidates in the election.

The three-man panel led by Justice Stephen Adah granted the motion ex-parte as prayed and stayed the execution of the judgment of the lower court pending the hearing and determination of the appellants’ motion on notice.
The appellants in the ex-parte application argued by their counsel, Mr. Damian Dodo SAN, prayed the court in the interest of justice to grant the request of his clients.

The court after listening to his submissions, held that: “That the status quo ante bellum, which existed on or before the 19th September, 2019 when the suit was filed be maintained pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.
“An interim order for stay of judgment of the lower court delivered on 12th November, 2019 pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.

“The motion on notice to be heard on 20th November, 2019 and the respondents to be served with the motion on notice and copy of the court order.”

Buhari Calls for Fairness, Transparency Elections

Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has called for fairness, transparency and peace during Saturday’s elections in Bayelsa and Kogi States.

In a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, in Abuja yesterday, the president urged INEC and security agencies to be neutral, noting that on November 16, voters in the two states should be left alone to decide who takes charge of the administration of their states for the next four years.

He added that since the ban on campaigns was lifted a few weeks ago, the people had been called to attend political rallies of various hues and were bombarded with political advertisements.

According to him, the campaigns have so far recorded not a few uninspiring incidents of violence and intemperate use of language.

He, therefore, stated that all stakeholders in the conduct of the elections must carry out their functions with fairness and transparency; without let or hindrance and without fear or favour.

“I call on voters in Bayelsa and Kogi States to exercise their franchise in a peaceful and orderly manner and in line with the law in all situations. Law enforcement officials must ensure that citizens are allowed to vote without harassment and intimidation and any attempt to steal or hijack ballots must be stopped using all legal means,” he stated.

Police Identify Threats to Kogi, Bayelsa Elections

In a related development, the Deputy Inspector-General of Police in charge of Operations, Mr. Abdulmajid Ali, yesterday said the police had identified possible risks that could constitute threats to the smooth conduct of the two elections.

He told journalists in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital, that individuals and groups that could pose security challenges to the election had been identified, classified and placed under surveillance.He said a security threat assessment carried out in the states made it possible for the police to discover all these.

According to him, the outcome of the intelligence-driven assessment was also used as a guide in the deployment of personnel and logistics for the elections.
0
0
5
Nigeria - Thriving business of begging in Idi Araba
Image Profile
by FricNews
Nov 15, 2019 - 9:11
News
How Jakande provided a safe haven for us, by beggarsFor the past few years, the rate of begging in Idi Araba area of Lagos State has tremendously stood high despite the measurable tactics deployed by the government to curb the trend.

In an interview with one of their leaders, one “Sarkin Makafi Iko” translated as “The King of the Blind beggars of Lagos State, Alhaji Abdullahi Hamza who hails from Sandamu Local Government Area of Katsina State, said “I have been begging in this state for over 60 years now and from that time till now, there has been series of maladies inflicting us as less privileged.

“We have been together with several governments in Lagos State and we can as well tell the attitude of each administration towards us. The government of Lateef Jakande has done well in carving a comfort zone for us, he didn’t neglect us, he often invited us for prayers and also provided for us our basic needs”. He added.

According to him, “during the tenure of Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the goodies came also. The governor usually sends for us through the immediate past Imam Abubakar. The government of Fashola and Ambode came with a tragic story for us. We hope Sanwo-Olu would make a difference”“Just like other children goes to school, ours are also entitled to acquire education. We pay house rent and other bills. We cannot achieve all these if not through begging.

Similarly, Mallam Ibrahim Audu who affirmed that he has been in the business for over 50 years urged the public care for beggars who are physically and mentally challenged. In a feigned voice he said, “Out of more than ten children that God blessed me with, only one is remaining. Others have passed away, so I wisely utilise the money earned to send my only son to school in Kano State and also take care of my health issues.

One Rakiya Abdullahi who is in 60’s decried how horrible it is to be a beggar. “Some people bring us possessed gifts, which has hugely claimed lives of our colleagues. No one would like to be a beggar, but I think this is the path we have chosen. I would like the government to equip us to be self-sufficient by giving us a better option to begging.

According to a source that pleaded anonymity, “some of them gain a lot from this business and I don’t think they can quit. There is one among them called Dan Bauchi, he is physically and mentally fit, but why he begs remain a mystery for me”“ I would describe him as ‘beggar mogul’ for he practice the business with sophistication. Both his colleagues and motorists branch his spot for change of money, which he usually removes his interest in any exchange. He added.
0
0
5
Nigeria - NES seeks institute for environmental practitioners
Image Profile
by FricNews
Nov 15, 2019 - 9:11
News
Nigerian Environmental Society (NES) has urged the National Assembly to speed up the passage of the Bill for an Act to establish the Institute of Environmental Practitioners of Nigeria intended to regulate and professionalise environmental practices and practitioners in the country.National President of the NES and Vice Chancellor, Igbinedion University, Okada (IUO), Prof. Lawrence Ikechukwu Ezemonye, stated this yesterday at the 29th national conference and yearly general meeting of the Society with theme, “Narratives of the Nigerian Environment Needs – A Holistic Approach”, in Benin City, Edo State.

He said the Society had been in the forefront for the establishment of an institute that would be a cesspool of trained and skilled environmental practitioners, experts, scholars and professionals that would be committed to standardising environmental activities and practices in Nigeria.

Ezemonye, who added that the institute would also conduct studies, diagnose and recommend solutions to the multiple environmental challenges in the country, said: “The Bill was successfully passed by both chambers during the Eighth Assembly and transmitted for presidential assent. Unfortunately, the bill only lapsed due to time and was never declined. Presently, this Bill is again receiving attention for the re-passage by the Ninth Assembly and just recently passed through the second reading in the House of Representatives and has been referred to the Committee of Whole. We would continually request for the support of all well-meaning stakeholders to ensure that this very important Bill is passed into law by the Ninth National Assembly.”

He said the theme of the conference was intended to x-ray the myriad of environmental challenges the country is grappling with and to proffer practicable solutions for containment, adding: “It is instructive to note that in the last two years, the society has actively been involved in strategic partnership with several organisations and agencies to effectively address the myriad of environmental challenges in Nigeria. Some of these include the partnership with the Regional Environment Office of the United States Embassy towards addressing critical environmental challenges in the country.”

Meanwhile, Director-General, National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), Mr. Idris Musa, who said that the Nigerian environment must be protected, cautioned against poor waste management system, which poses environmental challenges in the country.Musa, represented by Mr. Dipo Obanewa, stressed the need for sustainable environmental practices in the country, adding that environmental responsiveness cannot be over-emphasised.Some prominent Nigerians, including the Esama of Benin Kingdom, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion; Founder and Chancellor of Igbinedion University, Okada (IUO) and Senator Ike Ekweremadu, Chairman, Senate Committee on Environment and Habitat, were conferred with Lifetime Green Label Award and Honourary Fellowship Award of the Nigerian Environmental Society respectively.Other personalities at the conference include Director, International Collaborations, Lancaster University, Prof. Kirk T Semple.
0
0
5
Nigeria - Nigeria ripe for partnership with global tech giants, says Osinbajo
Image Profile
by FricNews
Nov 15, 2019 - 9:11
News
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has declared that Nigerians’ creativity and resourcefulness in the technology space present great opportunities for partnerships with global technology giants. Professor Osinbajo spoke yesterday when he received a delegation of Chinese techpreneurs led by co-founder of AliBaba Group, Jack Ma, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.Mr. Ma was in Nigeria on the behest of the vice president as part of the Federal Government’s efforts to promote technological innovation among young Nigerians as a means of job creation.

Osinbajo said, “Just as you said, Nigeria represents an incredible opportunity and potential, and we had spoken a few minutes ago about how Nigeria will, in another two decades or so, become be the third largest in terms of population in the world.

“Those who make up the largest segment of that population are young people, under 25, who will be over 60 per cent of that population.

“I think you will find very energetic, creative group of young men and women and older men and women who are increasingly interested in entrepreneurship, especially digital entrepreneurship.”

According to the number two citizen, the potential is tremendous and incredible, adding: “So, we are at a point, and your coming is very strategic, in our trajectory and in the progress of our country.”

The vice president spoke on some of the steps already taken by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to support young Nigerians in the technology space, in building skills and capacities as well as creating opportunities for themselves and others.

“But just as I said earlier, one of the critical things for us is that with a huge population and so many people living in the rural areas, we have major issues around financial inclusion for large number of our people.

“So making payment or doing financial transaction across the country presents a challenge which we have to meet.“The point you made is important, namely, that government must provide the infrastructure to enable the entrepreneurs do more effective business,” he added.

In his remarks, Mr. Ma said he had always looked forward to visiting Nigeria.He said his company was working on promoting technological innovation in the areas of e-frastructure, entrepreneurship, e-governance and education in Nigeria and other African countries.Four Nigerian technology entrepreneurs were among top 10 African entrepreneurs to be supported by the AliBaba Group, he added.
0
0
6
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo  with the Executive Chairman and Co-founder of Alibaba Group, Jack Ma, during a meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja…yesterday. PHOTO: NAN
« 1 2 3 »