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Gloom hovers over Mogadishu on Thursday evening as two suicide car bombs exploded, killing at least 15 people, a Somali official told VOA.


The first explosion occurred just after the 8 p.m. local time when a vehicle loaded with explosives were detonated on one of the capital’s busiest streets, Maka Al-Mukarama Road.

Eyewitnesses said dozens of people were sitting outside hotels and restaurants in the area when the bomb exploded.

Journalist Abdishakur Mohamed Mohamoud was sitting outside a coffee shop when it occurred.


“Before the explosion, a street trader saw a parked vehicle with emergency lights on, we suspected the car is exploding, we started to run and then the same car exploded,” Mohamoud told VOA. “It was a huge explosion (heard) throughout the city.”


Mohamoud said saw 13 dead bodies when he returned to the site of the explosion to help some of the wounded. He said among the dead was a well-known imam who used to lead prayers on Maka Al-Mukarama Road for people who could not reach mosques.


An hour after the explosion, a second one occurred outside another hotel near the busy K4 junction in Mogadishu. There was no confirmation of casualties from the second explosion.


Security officials also reported the sound of gunshots and detonated grenades in buildings near the site of the first explosion. A security official, who asked not to be named, told VOA Somali that several al-Shabab fighters are holed up in the building.


Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack. The group also claimed that they carried out a complex attack on Hotel Maka Al-Mukarama.

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President Uhuru Kenyatta has reshuffled the Cabinet days after talking tough on mega corruption in his government.


In the changes announced on Friday morning, Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa was fired and replaced by his Education counterpart Amina Mohamed.


Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) Chairman George Magoha landed a promotion - he will take over from Ms. Mohamed and run the Education docket if cleared by Parliament.


Also shown the door was Broadcasting and Telecommunication Principal Secretary Fatuma Hirsi.


"In accordance with Article 155 of the Constitution, the appointment of Mrs. Fatuma Hirsi, as a Principal Secretary has been vacated," Mr. Kenyatta said in a statement to newsrooms.


PRINCIPAL SECRETARIES


President Kenyatta also shook up his principal secretaries, with Ms. Susan N. Mochache, of the State Department of Cooperatives, being appointed to the Ministry of Health.


Mr. Ali Noor Ismail was sent to the State Department of Cooperatives, Dr. Ibrahim M. Mohamed to the State Department of Environment & Forestry and Mr. Peter Kiplagat Tum to the State Department of Labour.


Others appointed were Dr. Margaret Mwakima (State Department of East African Community Affairs) and Dr. Susan Koech (State Department of Wildlife).


"The portfolio responsibilities and changes made in the structure of government set out in this order shall come into immediate effect," he said.


THE GOAL

The Head of State said the changes were aimed at equipping and orientating his government in its implementation of the Big Four Agenda— housing, affordable healthcare for all, manufacturing and food security.


The President added that the shake-up was targeted at " enhancing efficiency, transparency, and accountability at all levels of government through a governance structure and leadership that ensures rapid delivery of public services to Kenyans."


In the war on corruption, mega scandals having rocked his time at State House, Mr. Kenyatta has vowed time and again that action will be taken against all individuals found guilty, individuals whom he has said will carry their own crosses.


The scandals concern organizations including the National Cereals and Produce Board, Kenya Pipeline Company, the National Youth Service and Kenya Prisons.


Latest in the headlines are Arror and Kamwerer dams, phantom projects that have cost the taxpayer Sh21 billion so far.

Source.

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Businessman Genius Kadungure, who is facing charges of tax evasion and money laundering, yesterday successfully applied for the temporary release of his passport to enable him to travel abroad for business.


With the prosecution's consent, magistrate Mrs. Vongai Muchuchuti-Guwuriro granted the release of Kadungure's passport from February 28 to March 18.


"Temporary release of passport is granted and to be returned on March 18," she said.


"Reporting conditions for that period are hereby relaxed."


Kadungure, through his lawyer Mr Jonathan Samukange, submitted a written application to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) seeking the release of his passport.


The NPA then granted the application.


When he made the same application in January, the State requested that it should be given Kadungure's title deeds as surety.


He then complied.

Allegations against Kadungure are that between February 2009 and May 2016, his company Piko Trading Private Limited misrepresented to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) that it made total sales of $2 777 678, inclusive of Value Added Tax when in actual fact the company had made sales amounting to $9 092 951.


To that end, Zimra suffered prejudice of $417 940.

Kadungure is also being accused of evading tax, with Zimra suffering a total prejudice of $3 468 949.

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It's barely a week after President Muhammadu Buhari and his vice president, Yemi Osibanjo received their certificates of return and the president already has plans to replace his cabinet members. This appears to be quite a shocker as if you recall, it took the president six months long to constitute his cabinet after assuming office in 2015.

This announcement was made by Special Adviser, Media, and Publicity to the President, Femi Adesina, yesterday. According to him, President Muhammadu Buhari will likely dissolve his cabinet before May 29.


Speaking on Arise Television, Adesina said the President will not spend a long time before choosing his cabinet members this time.


Adesina, who noted that the President had already promised to do so as soon as possible, said: "One thing about governance is that the first mandate was for four years. That mandate lapses on May 29, and shortly before May 29, the President is likely going to officially dissolve his government. That is the way it is usually done.


"He says thank you to everybody that he has called to work with him and then he dissolves that government officially.


"Then when he is inaugurated for a second time, he now reconstitutes a government; he appoints his personal aides, he forms his cabinet, he appoints other people to fill other positions."

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President Muhammadu Buhari has received congratulatory messages from three Presidents from the West African sub-region.

The congratulatory messages came minutes after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared President Buhari the winner of the 2019 elections.

Those who sent in congratulatory messages to the President include President Nana Koffi-Addo of Ghana, Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger, and Macky Sall of Senegal, who himself just won re-election for a second term.


The Presidents felicitated with President Buhari, saying his re-election was a demonstration of the confidence Nigerians had in him and wishing him greater exploits.


South African President Cyril Ramaphosa also congratulated President Muhammadu Buhari on his victory in Nigeria’s Presidential election.


In his congratulatory message, the South African expressed his commitment to working closely with President Buhari’s government “to enhance the good bilateral relations which exist between South Africa and Nigeria, paying particular focus on the strengthening of economic cooperation”.


According to him, South Africa and Nigeria enjoy good political, economic and social relations formally established in 1994, immediately after South Africa’s first democratic elections.


“The two countries have thus far signed 34 bilateral agreements covering various areas such as arts and culture, education, agriculture, trade and investment, mining, defense, policing, immigration, taxation, science and technology, health, tourism, environment and energy,” the statement read in part.

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Ahead of Algeria’s presidential elections in April, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who is seeking a fifth term in April elections, remains in Switzerland for “routine medical checks”, his office said Thursday.

The 81-year-old will have a “short” stay in Geneva, it said in a statement carried by the government APS news agency.

Citing what it described as multiple and well-informed sources, the TdG reported that Bouteflika has been at the Geneva University Hospitals (HUG) since Sunday.


HUG is a public teaching hospital but has a private wing that could accommodate VIPs seeking privacy, according to the hospital’s website.

A HUG spokesman declined to comment on the report.


Bouteflika who has barely been seen in public since suffering a stroke in 2013, announced on February 10 that he would seek re-election in the April 18 election.


The 81-year-old has repeatedly received medical care in Switzerland since the 1980s.


His office had previously announced that the president was scheduled to travel to Switzerland for “routine medical checks” ahead of the election.


AFP

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Rochas Okorocha, governor of Imo State, has asked the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the just concluded election, Atiku Abubakar, to show the spirit of sportsmanship.

While speaking to journalists in Owerri, the governor plainly stated that wisdom calls for Atiku to congratulate the President on his re-election victory.


“Wisdom calls for the PDP candidate to congratulate him (Buhari), to show appreciation because when you don’t do that, people will begin to think that you are doing this for selfish reasons.

“Nigeria is bigger than all of us, leaders must learn to make sacrifices where possible, not to their own comfort but to the comfort of the nation. That is what leadership is all about,” he said on Wednesday.


Rochas comment comes a few hours after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) the winner of the presidential election.

He added, “Buhari will leave in 2023 and I believe he will make his marks. I ask all Nigerians to support him”.

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Judgment in two appeals filed against the Federal Government by the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen has been reserved by the Appeal Court.

The court made the decision after all parties had adopted their briefs of arguments.

It also adjourned judgment in a third appeal challenging the exparte order given by the CCT on the strength of which Justice Onnoghen was suspended to a date to be announced to the parties.


Justice Onnoghen had in the appeals, challenged his trial at the CCT, as well as his suspension.

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Reuters-  A Kenyan court charged seven men on Wednesday for impersonating President Uhuru Kenyatta and swindling a prominent businessman out of 10 million shillings ($100,000) in yet another high-profile corruption case. 


The suspects called tyre firm Sameer Africa boss Naushad Merali and his finance director Akif Butt pretending to be the president and asking to sell the land, court documents showed.

The seven pleaded not guilty at a Nairobi court and were released on bail before their case resumes on March 12.

One of the suspected fraudsters impersonated Kenyatta’s voice, while the others arrived in fancy vehicles and suits to collect the money, police said.


“Merali .... gave a go-ahead to the finance director to process payment believing he spoke to the head of state,” the documents read. 

The Star newspaper said Joseph Waswa, the man accused of imitating Kenyatta, was known to use luxury cars, helicopters, and bodyguards.

Although the case was entertaining, it also showed how pervasive corruption was in East Africa’s richest economy, lamented prominent anti-graft campaigner John Githongo.


“It is so completely normal to be shaken down ... that he didn’t even bother to check up before sending the money,” he told Reuters. “For that to happen, especially right now when we are ostensibly in the middle of an anti-corruption campaign, shows that much of it is window dressing.”

Kenyatta’s government has come in for repeated criticism over corruption scandals in the health sectors, national youth service, and construction contracts.

Dozens of senior officials and business people were charged in May with various crimes related to the theft of nearly $100 million from the National Youth Service (NYS), a state agency.


The Directorate of Criminal Investigations said on Monday it was also investigating what it said was fraudulent construction of two dams valued at 63 billion shillings. Some payments were already made out despite the dams not being built, it said.

Neither Sameer Africa nor Kenyatta’s State House had any immediate comment on Wednesday’s court case. 

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Former VP and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar finally comments on the presidential election happenings.

In a statement on Wednesday morning, he thanked Nigerians who trooped out in mass to support his presidential ambition and vote for a better Nigeria.

Atiku, who got a total vote of 11,262,978 rejected the result of the election adding that he will proceed to court to challenge the result.

Atiku said;

I hope and pray Nigerians will someday summon the courage to defend democracy. That is the only way we can move away from being the world headquarters for extreme poverty.

I want to assure my supporters and the entire Nigerian people that together, we will not allow democracy to be emasculated.

Consequently, I hereby reject the result of the February 23, 2019 sham election and will be challenging it in court.

One obvious red flag is the statistical impossibility of states ravaged by the war on terror generating much higher voter turnouts than peaceful states.

I am a democrat and there are democratic avenues available to present the truth to the nation and the watching world. Already, many international observers have given their verdicts, which corroborate our observations. I am sure more will come in the coming hours and days.

In some areas of the country, such as Rivers, Akwa Ibom, and Imo states, troops deployed for the elections turned their guns on the very citizens they were meant to protect.

The suppressed votes in my strongholds are so apparent and amateurish, that I am ashamed as a Nigerian that such could be allowed to happen. How can total votes in Akwa-Ibom, for instance, be 50% less than what they were in 2015?

If I had lost in a free and fair election, I would have called the victor within seconds of my being aware of his victory to offer not just my congratulations, but my services to help unite Nigeria by being a bridge between the North and the South.

With regards to the Presidential elections that took place on February 23, 2019, it is clear that there were manifest and premeditated malpractices in many states which negate the results announced.

Another glaring anomaly is the disruption of voting in strongholds of the Peoples Democratic Party in Lagos, Akwa-Ibom, Rivers, and diverse other states, with the authorities doing little or nothing and in some cases facilitating these unfortunate situations.

The militarization of the electoral process is a disservice to our democracy and a throwback to the jackboot era of military dictatorship.

This is condemnable and should not be associated with our electoral process in the future.

This is condemnable and should not be associated with our electoral process in the future.

I am a democrat and there are democratic avenues available to present the truth to the nation and the watching world. Already, many international observers have given their verdicts, which corroborate our observations. I am sure more will come in the coming hours and days.

If I had lost in a free and fair election, I would have called the victor within seconds of my being aware of his victory to offer not just my congratulations, but my services to help unite Nigeria by being a bridge between the North and the South.

However, in my democratic struggles for the past three decades, I have never seen our democracy so debased as it was on Saturday, February 23, 2019.

2007 was a challenge, but President Yar’Adua was remorseful. In 2019, it is sad to see those who trampled on democracy thumping their noses down on the Nigerian people.

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