News reports from Abuja Nigeria say the Federal High Court in the city has adjourned the trial of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the banned Indigenous People of Biafra movement.
Kanu’s case was adjourned due to the absence of the trial judge. Justice Binta Nyako is away attending the ‘All Judges’ Conference in Abuja.
This is the second time that The Indigenious People of Biafra leader Kanu was absent from court. On September 14, there was an alleged home invasion by men dressed in military uniform. Family members say Kanu has gone missing since.
Kanu and his co defendants are facing felony treasonable charges.
The Nigerian military says it has no idea where he is and has denied any involvement in his home invasion.
Last week, President Muhammadu Buhari visited the Southeastern region where Biafra is situated.
Support for the creation of a “Biafran nation” is gaining popularity again after fifty years when conflict ensued over the secessionist attempt.
Banjul (Gambia) (AFP) – When strongman Yahya Jammeh left The Gambia for exile after 22 years, new foreign minister Ousainou Darboe pledged the tiny nation would become the “human rights capital of Africa”.
His remarks came days after Jammeh’s forced departure in January, and followed the release of droves of political prisoners from the country’s notorious jails — the face of years of flagrant rights abuses under the mercurial leader.
But as the first anniversary approaches of the December 1 election that would eventually spell regime change for Banjul, AFP has learnt that a dozen soldiers are currently being held in Gambian detention far beyond the remit of the constitution, in some cases for months.
Three of those detained, Lance Corporal Abdoulie Bojang, Lance Corporal Abba Badjie and another soldier, Lamin Nyassi, were all picked up by the military police in July, according to their wives.
“He is accused of facilitating the escape of a soldier who was wanted in connection with a Whatsapp group chat,” Bojang’s wife Sunkaru Jarjue told AFP, an account repeated by Nyassi’s wife, Banna Jarju.
An official within the military who wished to remain anonymous confirmed to AFP a dozen soldiers were being held.
Although the men appeared before a judge on Friday, they have yet to be formally charged and are only expected to enter a plea of November 27.
The men’s prolonged detention is inextricably linked with suspicions of sedition and covert support for Jammeh from a faction of the army and intelligence services, but rights groups say the military figures are not exempt from the constitutional right to be charged within 72 hours.
A coalition of parties fielded standard-bearer Adama Barrow as their candidate in December 2016 elections, who ultimately defeated Jammeh and took over the presidency in late January.
But then, as now, there are concerns about lingering Jammeh supporters in the ranks of the army, evoked back in July by Colonel Magatte Ndiaye, the head of a Senegalese army contingent still deployed to The Gambia by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
He told AFP that rebel elements were intent on destabilising the country and working with exiled Jammeh-era top brass, though President Barrow has said such reports are “hugely exaggerated”.
The wife of one soldier arrested at the Farafenni army camp in September, nominally for failing to show up for work, believes his family connections ensnared him while maintaining his innocence.
“They asked whether he is still communicating with his uncle (Yahya Jammeh),” Tida Bajinka Jammeh told AFP in mid-November, adding her husband had only just been released.
Gambia Armed Forces Spokesman Captain Lamin Sanyang confirmed the detention of members of the Gambian Armed Forces pending investigation for “mutinous and seditious acts” revealed by audio recordings shared by Whatsapp.
“Some soldiers are arrested in connection with a Whatsapp page they have created to discuss amongst themselves,” Sanyang told AFP.
“Investigations are ongoing and once we get the facts, we will share it with members of the public at the appropriate time. They are still under detention pending investigation into the matter,” he added.
Minister of Information and Communication Demba Ali Jawo meanwhile agreed the men had been detained longer than 72 hours but referred to a “drawback clause” that allowed detention to be renewed every 14 days.
That response has not satisfied human rights defenders.
Mr Gaye Sowe, Executive Director of Gambia-based Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa, said the cases are “wrong, illegal and unconstitutional.”
“There is no way a provision of the Gambia Armed Forces Act or any other law can override any provision of the Constitution,” which provides a maximum three-day limit for police to charge suspects after arrest.
“This should have been done within 72 hours after they were arrested,” Sowe said.
The memories of state-sponsored rights abuses and military purges remain fresh in Gambia, where the NIA carried out torture and forced disappearances on Jammeh’s orders, according to rights groups Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.
A struggling court case against the so-called “NIA nine”, a group of intelligence officials including Gambia’s dreaded former spy chief Yankuba Badjie and eight of his subordinates at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), may offer a potential clue to the military arrests.
Lawyers for Badjie, the most feared agent in the dock, have not appeared for the last two hearings, but the case will go ahead without them, the presiding judge said on Thursday.
The former NIA agents are accused of killing opposition activist Solo Sandeng in April 2016, sparking rare protests, but it has run into legal difficulties over what Justice Minister Aboubacarr Tambadou has called “rushed” police work.
Future prosecutions of Jammeh-linked crimes, he said, must be watertight.
Despite reports of the resignation of long time Zimbabwean leader Robert G. Mugabe on Sunday following pressure from the military and calls for him to step down by tens of thousands of citizens over the weekend, the veteran leader has made a defiant televised speech insisting that he will preside over the next ruling Zanu-PF Congress in December.
On Sunday, the Central Committee of the party removed Mr. Mugabe as leader and replaced him with former Vice President Emmerson Mnagagwa who was dismissed by Mugabe.
On Sunday afternoon, Mugabe met with army generals at his residence as part of talks aimed at his exit. News circulated that the 93 year old veteran leader had resigned and would address the nation. However, in a rather defiant speech, he made no mention of his exit.
Reports from multiple news sources say that the U.S. and China were aware of the “military coup”. But there has been no official admission from the two countries of their knowledge of the plan to remove Mugabe from power
According to the City Press in Harare, Army Chief Constantino Chiwengo traveled to China two weeks ago as part of the secretive grand plot and to obtain assurances from China about its continuous economic engagement and support for the impending change. Chiwengo reportedly told Mugabe that he was traveling for medical follow up
South Africa and China have denied that they had prior information about the military take-over in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabweans are in disbelief at the defiant stance of Mugabe. It is unclear what the next steps are if he refuses to stand down. War veterans who have become disenchanted with Mugabe in recent years have given him until Monday to resign.
Latest reports from Reuters say ZANU PF Chief Whip Lovemore Matuke has announced that party members in Parlianent are set to meet later on Monday to start the process of impeachment against Mugabe.
It was reported earlier that Mugabe had prepared a draft resignation letter but has not signed nor delivered it.
According to latest reports coming into West African Journal Magazine, Zanu PF says it has informed President Mugabe Monday if it’s decision to recall him as President of the country and as First Secretary of the ruling party.
According to a letter seen by the West African Journal Magazine, the Chief Whip of the party in Parliament is to proceed with the impeachment process.
There is no word from President Mugabe on this latest development.
The north African national of Libya says will investigate alleged slave trading in the country, the internationally recognized government announced on Sunday following the release of video footage appearing to show migrants being auctioned off.
Chaos-ridden Libya has long been a major transit hub for migrants trying to reach Europe, and many of them have fallen prey to serious abuse in the North African country at the hands of traffickers and others.
US television network CNN aired the footage last week of an apparent live auction in Libya where black men are presented to North African buyers as potential farmhands and sold off for as little as $400.
Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Metig quoted by the AFP said his UN-backed Government of National Accord would investigate the allegations, in a statement posted on Sunday on the Facebook page of the GNA’s press office.
Metig said he would instruct the formation of a “commission to investigate these reports in order to apprehend and bring those responsible to justice,” the statement added.
The CNN report apparently showing migrants being auctioned off in Libya was shared widely on social media, provoking outrage in Africa, Europe and the rest of the world.
The grainy footage shot on a mobile telephone shows a man CNN said was Nigerian and in his 20s being offered up for sale as part of a group of “big strong boys for farm work.”
In the CNN report, a person identified as an auctioneer can be heard saying “800… 900… 1,000… 1,100…” before two men are sold for 1,200 Libyan dinars ($875).
Around 1,000 people took to the streets of Paris on Saturday to protest against slavery in Libya, according to French police.
Guinean President Alpha Conde, who is also chairman of the African Union, on Friday called for an inquiry and prosecutions relating to what he termed a “despicable trade… from another era.”
Senegal’s government expressed “outrage at the sale of Sub-Saharan African migrants on Libyan soil” that constituted a “blight on the conscience of humanity.”
African migrants from nations including Guinea and Senegal as well as Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Gambia make the dangerous crossing through the Sahara to Libya with hopes of making it over the Mediterranean Sea to Italy.
But a testimony collected by reporters has revealed a litany of rights abuses at the hands of gangsters, human traffickers and the Libyan security forces, while many end up stuck in the unstable North African nation for years.
More than 8,800 stranded migrants have been returned home this year, according to the International Organization for Migration, which is also compiling evidence of slavery.
A call has been issued to the Akufo-Addo government in Ghana to speed up the rehabilitation of the Eastern Corridor road which is in a deplorable condition.
The Ghana Conference of Catholic Bishops Conference, in a communique released at the end of its annual meeting held in Ho, cited the poor state of the road and the health and development risk posed. “…Lives of motorists, traders and tourists are in danger…” the Bishops said and called for the government to prioritize the project.
On the political crisis in neighboring Togo, the Ghana Catholic Bishops called for an intervention to ensure that all Ghana nationals in Togo and along their common border were safe.
Citizens of Ghana were urged to treat Togolese refugees with love and warmth. Several hundred Togolese nationals fled their government crackdown following protests against President Faure Gnassingbe.
Protesters are calling for his resignation and an overhaul of the political system in Togo to end the family grip on power.
However, President Gnassingbe has shown little interest in stepping down.
A Roman Catholic bishop and a Muslim imam both said prayers at the simple ceremony in the southern city of Salerno, with 26 wooden coffins laid out on a stone dais. A single white rose was placed on the lid of each.
Just two of the women were identified.
“It is very likely that these girls were victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation,” said Federico Soda, director UN migration agency IOM for the Mediterranean.
A recent IOM report had estimated that 80 percent of Nigerian girls arriving in Italy by sea might be trafficking victims.
The 26 bodies were retrieved from the sea on Nov. 3 by a Spanish rescue ship, while some 64 people were unaccounted for and feared lost, bringing the total dead to around 90, said Flavio Di Giacomo, an IOM spokesman.
Survivors found on nearby rubber boats said the women were all Nigerian and had left Libya hoping to make it to Italy.
The only two identified were named as Marian Shaka, who was married, and Osato Osaro. Both were pregnant. Some of those who died were believed to have been as young as 14.
Almost 115,000 migrants, mainly African men, have reached Italy so far this year, according to government data released on Friday, against just over 167,000 in the same period last year.
IOM said at least 2,925 people died trying to cross the Mediterranean from Jan 1.-Nov. 5 against 4,302 last year.
The Italian government has worked with Libyan authorities to block migrants from leaving the north African state, leading to a sharp fall in new arrivals since the summer.
The government says its policy has cut the number of sea deaths, while critics say it has left thousands of refugees and migrants trapped in appalling conditions in Libya.
Liberians went to the polls on October 10, 2017 to vote in presidential and legislative elections. To ensure the credibility of that democratic process, participating political parties accredited and dispatched their representatives to monitor the process at every polling station around the country. These party representatives worked alongside international election monitors from reputable and experienced organizations in the business such as the Carter Center.
These elections, according to observers, were generally free and fair. But out of the 20 political parties that threw their hats in the race for the highest office of the land, none received the required 51 per cent of the votes cast to be declared a winner. Consequently and as provided by law, the National Elections Commission (NEC) announced a runoff between the first and second place winners – the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) of former footballer George Weah and the Unity Party (UP) of Vice President Joseph Boakai, respectively.
The runoff was scheduled to have taken place on November 7, 2017. However, that second round of voting was halted by the Supreme Court based on an appeal by one party which alleged that the first round of voting was marred by fraud and irregularities, a complaint that was and is still being looked into by the NEC. The Supreme Court is expected to lift the injunction after the NEC has satisfactorily completed its investigation and announced its findings. All of this is taking place within the confines of the law as it relates to conducting national elections in Liberia.
Regrettably, however, supporters and sympathizers of the CDC, under the illusion that they’ve already won the presidency, now see themselves heavily burdened by conspiracy theory, inarticulately inundating social media with outrageous and substandard posts such as the ones below, to the embarrassment and shame of the country they’re losing sleep to rule:
We are CDCians we are preparing WAR coming
fight again in Liberia your get ready if NEC and
Ministry Justice don’t give green light to
election runoff WAR will open again
In another post, a man claiming to be a supporter of the CDC and struggling to get his message through, calls on his comrades to attack the Chairman of the National Elections Commission, Jerome Korkoyah, and “burn him alive.” This is not a hyperbole, just in case anyone has the most infinitesimal of doubts as to the recklessness of the people behind the political party that may become the ruling party in Liberia.
If one plus one equals two, and if we know that to be true, then anyone can be his/her own soothsayer here. The sign post is clear. The problem is that we do not know whether people are reading.
But let alone the intent and contents of these posts. What’s even more troubling is the fact that no one knows the stance of the CDC’s standard bearer on the scare tactics his followers are injecting into our political discourse. Mr. Weah has remained mute on every issue since he declared his presidential bid. We don’t know how Mr. Weah intends to govern the country if he becomes president; we don’t know how he plans to tackle local issues such as the economy and national unity and security in a country still reeling from war. What about Liberia’s foreign policy objectives under a Weah administration? We just don’t know anything because the CDC top ticket candidate avoided every debate during the campaign and he has not given one news conference or granted a press interview since he announced his candidacy, leaving the rest of the country in limbo and sending off his supporters on a free-for-all media blitz, saying and publishing whatever they want.
We want to state here with emphasis that Liberia deserves better, Mr. Weah! Come from the shadow, not only to tell the Liberian people which direction you plan to take their country if elected president, but also dissociate yourself and your party from your chaos-driven supporters pushing the country to the limit. Don’t leave the country the impression that re-enforces the parable that “A little boy will never talk about making his farm on the mountain if he didn’t hear it from his father.”
About the author:
James K. Seitua is a former Editor of the Liberian Daily Observer newspaper
Editor’s Note: West African Journal Magazine is in possession of the actual video of the “incitement to violence” against the NEC issued by a person purported to be a supporter of the CDC but is choosing not to publish it due to its highly incendiary nature.