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Ahead of the plan by the All Progressive Congress (APC) to zone the speaker of House of Representatives’ slot, Rep Chike Okafor (APC-Imo), on Tuesday, formally declared to run for the position.


Okafor made his intention known when members of Good Governance and Transparency Initiative (GGTI) visited him at his National Assembly’s office, Abuja.


The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that GGTI, an association of different youth organizations in the country, had, during the visit, endorsed Okafor as its preferred candidate for the speaker’s slot.


The lawmaker, who represents Ehime Mbano/Ihitte Uboma/Obowo Federal Constituency, disclosed that he had already written to the party’s National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, on his intention to vie for the position.


”The issue of zoning and election of principal officers of the National Assembly is about the most important talking point for most legislators and politicians, presently.


”While the position of the Senate President has been zoned by our party, the APC, to the North-East, we are aware that the party is yet to zone the Speakership of the House of Representatives to any zone.


”You are already aware of the clamor from across the country for equitable distribution of the principal offices of the National Assembly.


”Most importantly, the recent push by several APC support groups from across the northern states and the South-East calling on the party’s leadership to zone the speakership of the 9th assembly of the House of Representatives to the South-East,” he said.


According to him, in 2015, the APC denied the South-East principal officer’s positions in the National Assembly on the ground that we did not have a ranking member under the APC.


”I was slated for leadership position then but was eventually denied the position of deputy whip because I was a first timer. Now, I am back and ranking!


”Gentlemen and ladies, let me use the opportunity of your visit and overwhelming endorsement to declare that I have thrown my hat into the ring.


”I am running for the speakership of the 9th assembly of the House of Representatives, and have formally written to the National Chairman, and members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of my party, the APC,” he remarked.


Okafor, who is the Chairman, House Committee on Health, said it was no gainsaying that the South-East, which was denied a leadership position in the ruling party leadership caucus of the 8th assembly deserved compensation in the 9th assembly.


”And I am the appropriate vehicle for equitable compensation to the South-East,” he said.


The lawmaker, who said that his zone gave 403,958 votes to President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election victory in 2019 presidential poll, said this was against 198, 248 votes from the five states of the region in 2015.


”403,000 votes for Mr. President in the 2019 presidential election may not seem a big deal, but there is no geopolitical zone in Nigeria that doubled its vote haul of 2015 in 2019 and improved on its performance in 2015 by more than 100% except the South-East!


”A ruling party doesn’t just look at the numbers alone; it also looks at national interest; it looks at social justice; it considers political stability and harmony in the body politics.


”It feels the pulse of the nation and weighs in on equitable inclusion of federating units of the country in line with the provisions of the constitution of the country and the party, even as it affects sharing of political offices.


”And looking at all these indices, as a party, we have not given the South-East a fair deal! Not yet,” he said.


The lawmaker, however, hinted that he would not hesitate to go by the party’s decision should APC decide to zone the position against his wish.


Earlier, the leader of GGTI delegation, Mr. Abdulbasit Abubakar, said after the group’s congress meeting at Arewa House, Kaduna, Rep Okafor was unanimously endorsed by members as a most qualified person to lead the 9th House.


He said a 5000-man march would soon be organized by the group to press home their demand.

NAN

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Following the sad nature of the country's economy and the involvement of the Nigerian army during the general elections held in February and March; the governor of Rivers state, governor Nyesom Wike, condemns the Nigerian political system.

The Governor says he is tired of governing after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) presented him his certificate of return as the re-elected governor of Rivers state.

The Rivers state governor who disclosed this on Tuesday, April 16, reportedly said that he would not contest for a third term even if the constitution permitted him. He also dedicated his victory to the people of Rivers state who he said overwhelmingly voted for him.

He rebuked the Nigerian Army for the role they allegedly played during the 2019 general elections in the state.

"Nobody can be more than the state. So, for me, I want total peace in Rivers state. All of us should come back, wherever you are, whether in the federal or local government, come and work for the interest of the state.

“I’ll not be governor forever. I only have four more years. After the four years, I’m gone. The constitution does not allow for the third term. Even if it does, bye bye, I’m tired. I’ll not," he was quoted to have said.

Going further, Wike attributed everything going on in his life to God saying:

“I use to tell my wife every day whenever I wake up, I say thank God, you never can tell the next day, what will happen. And any day I have an opportunity like this, I’ll speak my mind. I am not afraid; nobody has the monopoly to take my life. I will die the day God says I will die."

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Leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, said he has been vindicated over his claim that former Vice-President and presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar was born a Cameroonian.


He spoke as the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has also filed the claim in its response to Atiku’s petition before the election tribunal.


Addressing his members through his broadcast on Radio Biafra, Kanu said: “The headline: ‘Atiku Is Not A Nigerian, APC Tells Tribunal’, is a vindication that everything I say on Radio Biafra is the truth. It may appear outlandish and unbelievable at first, but eventually, history always vindicates me.


“As everyone can see very clearly, it is unambiguously stated that for you to become the President of Nigeria, you must be born a Nigerian. Simply put, your birth certificate or any official notation must say clearly that you are a Nigerian. As at the time Atiku was born, the citizenship on his birth certificate read Cameroonian.”


The fugitive IPOB leader described the 1999 Constitution, as amended, as clearly defective because those who crafted it were neither philosophers, social scientists, thinkers nor constitutional experts.


According to him, the argument by some people that if Atiku was a Cameroonian, he could not have been the Comptroller of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and Vice-President, will not hold water.


He noted that Section 131(a) of the Constitution is clear on who should be the President of the country.


Kanu said: “The incontrovertible truth is that His Excellency, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the former Vice-President of Nigeria for eight years, became a Nigerian by virtue of the referendum of February 11, 1961. He was not born a Nigerian and as such he became a Nigerian as a result of the British organized plebiscite held in British Cameroons to give the people of Adamawa, where Atiku comes from, the opportunity to choose where they would like to belong.


“When I first raised this issue, which incidentally has been ignored by all arms of government- including the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), whose duty it is to ensure that candidates meet all stipulated constitutional requirements – it was not to insinuate or imply that Atiku is not a Nigerian. Rather, it is to highlight the very constitutionally critical point at the heart of IPOB agitation for Biafra independence, which is that asking for a referendum is never a crime in any law known to man…”


He berated Atiku’s defense team for what he called their weak and porous argument that if the PDP chieftain was not a Nigerian, he wouldn’t have become Nigeria’s vice-president, lived, invested and paid tax in the country for years as a citizen.


The proscribed IPOB leader noted that by virtue of relevant sections of Nigeria, anybody born in Adamawa between 1946, when Atiku was born, till 1960, was not qualified to contest election as President of Nigeria.


“Atiku Abubakar was born on November 25, 1946, in Jada, now Adamawa State, then in Northern Cameroon. He was a citizen of Cameroon but now a Nigerian by plebiscite. This information has always been in the public domain. What I did was just to flag it…”


Published by The Nation

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Sudan’s military ousted and arrested President Omar Hassan Ahmed Bashir on Thursday, delivering the deathblow to the authoritarian’s nearly 30-year rule after months of intense protests but protesters’ jubilation was short-lived as they took to the streets demanding military leaders hand over power to civilians.


Bashir, 75, had faced 16 weeks of demonstrations against his rule. Announcing the ouster, Defence Minister Awad Mohamed Ahmed Ibn Auf said Sudan would enter a two-year period of military rule to be followed by presidential elections.


Speaking on state television, he said Bashir was being detained in a “safe place” and a military council would now run the country.


Ibn Auf, who Bashir appointed a first vice president in February as the protests intensified, will head the military council, state TV said late on Thursday. The Sudanese military’s chief of staff Kamal Abdel Marouf al-Mahi will be deputy's head.


Ibn Auf announced a state of emergency, a nationwide ceasefire and the suspension of the constitution. Seated on a gold-upholstered armchair, he said Sudan’s airspace would be closed for 24 hours and border crossings shut until further notice.


The main organizer of protests against Bashir, the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), rejected the minister’s plans. It called on protesters to maintain a sit-in outside the defense ministry that began on Saturday.


Shortly afterward, tens of thousands of demonstrators packed the streets of central Khartoum, their mood turning from celebration over Bashir’s expected departure to frustration at the announcement of the military-led transition.


National flags were waved over the vast crowds, which included families, women, and people of all ages. “Fall, again!” many chanted, adapting an earlier anti-Bashir slogan of “Fall, that’s all!”. Some wrote anti-Ibn Auf slogans on their clothes.


Sudanese sources told Reuters that Bashir was at the presidential residence under “heavy guard”.


State television said there would be a nighttime curfew from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m.


In a clear challenge to the military council, several thousand protesters remained in front of the defense ministry compound, and in other parts of the capital, as the curfew went into effect.


They chanted “They removed a thief and brought a thief!” and “Revolution! Revolution!”

Some shops in Omdurman, across the River Nile from central Khartoum, remained open past 10 p.m., a Reuters witness said.

“To comply with the curfew is to recognize the clone rescue government,” SPA said. “Stay put and guard your revolution.”


SPA also said the sit-in will not end until power is handed to a civilian transitional government. Omar Saleh Sennar, a senior SPA member, said the group expected to negotiate with the military over a transfer of power.


The United States said it was suspending talks with Sudan on normalizing relations. The State Department ordered non-emergency U.S. government employees to leave the country and warned Americans against traveling to Sudan due to “crime, terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping, and armed conflict.”


The State Department, while declining to declare the takeover a coup, said Washington supported a peaceful and democratic Sudan and believed the Sudanese people should be allowed a peaceful transition sooner than two years from now.


“The Sudanese people should determine who leads them in their future,” State Department spokesman Robert Palladino told a news briefing. “The Sudanese people have been clear that they have been demanding a civilian-led transition. They should be allowed to do so sooner than two years from now.”


British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt called for a “swift move to an inclusive, representative, civilian leadership”, saying in a tweet that a “military council ruling for 2 years is not the answer”.


ICC WARRANT

Bashir has been indicted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague and is facing an arrest warrant over allegations of genocide in Sudan’s Darfur region during an insurgency that began in 2003 and led to the death of an estimated 300,000 people. He denies the allegations.

He defied the court by visiting several ICC member states. Diplomatic disputes broke out when he went to South Africa in 2015 and Jordan in 2017 and both failed to arrest him.

Bashir’s downfall was the second time this month that a leader in the region has been forced out after mass demonstrations. Algeria’s ailing former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, in power since 1999, stepped down on April 2 after six weeks of protests against him extending his rule.

Names circulating about Bashir’s possible successors include the defense minister, an ex-military intelligence chief, also an Islamist, and former army chief of staff Emad al-Din Adawi.

Ibn Auf has long been among Sudan’s senior leadership.

Adawi is said to be favored by regional neighbors at odds with Bashir over his Islamist leanings.

Osman Abubakar, a 27-year-old protester in Port Sudan, said some soldiers had joined in chants against the military council in the eastern city.

Ibn Auf announced the release of all political prisoners, and images circulated of freed detainees joining the protests.

In Port Sudan and Kassala, another eastern city, protesters attacked the offices of Sudan’s intelligence and security service, witnesses said.

Amnesty International expressed alarm at the “raft of emergency measures” announced on Thursday.


FATE UNCLEAR

Bashir, a former paratrooper who seized power in a bloodless coup in 1989, has been a divisive figure who has managed his way through one internal crisis after another while withstanding attempts by the West to weaken him.

Sudan has suffered prolonged periods of isolation since 1993 when the United States added Bashir’s government to its list of terrorism sponsors for harboring Islamist militants. Washington followed up with sanctions four years later.

A long civil war with southern separatists ended in 2005 and South Sudan became an independent country in 2011.

Since December, Sudan has been rocked by persistent protests sparked by the government’s attempt to raise the price of bread, and an economic crisis that has led to fuel and cash shortages.

From the start, the protests called for Bashir’s downfall. Opposition unions of medics and other professionals have played a prominent role, as have women and young people in general. Security forces responded with tear gas, arrests and sometimes live ammunition, killing dozens.

Since the weekend, the protests have become more intense.

Clashes erupted between soldiers trying to protect the protesters and intelligence and security personnel trying to disperse them. Around 20 people have been killed since the sit-in began.

Activists abroad pressed for Sudan to turn over Bashir to the International Criminal Court.

“Victims of the gravest crimes in Darfur should not have to wait any longer for justice” said Jehanne Henry, associate director at the Africa division of Human Rights Watch.


Reuters

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After 8 decades of colonization, Belgium had finally apologized for the kidnapping, segregation, deportation and forced adoption of thousands of children born to mixed-race couples during its colonial rule of Burundi, Congo, and Rwanda. 

The apology which was pronounced on Thursday is the first time Belgium has ever taken any responsibility for what historians would say was the immense harm the country inflicted on the Central African nations.

Prime Minister Charles Michel offered the apology Thursday afternoon in front of a plenary session of Parliament, which was attended by dozens of people of mixed race in the visitor's gallery.

“Throughout Belgian colonial Africa, a system of targeted segregation of métis and their families was maintained by the Belgian state, and acts were committed that violated the fundamental rights of peoples,” he said, using the term for mixed-race people.
This is why, in the name of the federal government, I recognize the targeted segregation of which métis people were victims” under Belgian colonial rule in Africa and “the ensuing policy of forced kidnapping” after independence.
In the name of the federal government, I present our apologies to the métis stemming from the Belgian colonial era and to their families for the injustices and the suffering inflicted upon them.
I also wish to express our compassion for the African mothers from whom the children were taken,” he said.


The prime minister said the Belgian government would make resources available to finance additional research on the issue, open up its colonial archives to métis people and offer administrative help to those seeking to gain access to their official records and seeking Belgian nationality.

Some experts on colonial history noted that Belgium’s apology had come late — nearly 60 years after the three countries gained independence.

Racial segregation was a pillar of Belgian colonial rule, historians say. Until the late 1950s, the colonial authorities discouraged interracial romance and banned interracial marriage before the Catholic Church.

Many white Belgian men, nevertheless, married Black Congolese women according to local customs, producing children sometimes called métis. But in the eyes of Belgium, these children undermined official segregation policies and blemished the white race’s prestige, official documents from that time show.

Fearing a repeat of the Red River Rebellion in Canada in 1869-70, when métis people revolted and overthrew the local government, the Belgian authorities ordered métis children in Congo to be separated from their families and from the Black population as a whole.

An estimated 10,000 to 20,000 children were segregated from their parents — most often from single African mothers — and placed in orphanages and schools predominantly run by the Catholic Church, historians said.

 — (The New York Times)

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Italy’s Eni has carried out internal audits in a slander case relating in part to a Nigeria corruption scandal, and a source with knowledge of the matter said the review could prompt some management changes at the oil major.

Eni and it's Anglo-Dutch peer Royal Dutch Shell are on trial for allegedly paying $1.1 billion in bribes to buy Nigeria’s OPL 245 offshore oilfield in 2011, one of the oil industry’s biggest graft cases.

Both companies deny any wrongdoing.

Milan prosecutors opened in 2018 a separate case involving allegations that certain Eni managers had a role in exploiting false statements to discredit and slander witnesses involved in the main case.

The source said Eni had conducted at least two audits on the case concerning alleged false statements and sought legal opinions from outside lawyers.

“The audits could lead to a reshuffle of management at the group,” the source said.

In comments sent to Reuters, Eni confirmed it had launched audits on internal company processes linked to the matter, adding they had been wrapped up and steps for improvement identified.

Eni also denies any wrongdoing in the case opened by Milan prosecutors on the alleged making of false statements.

“If there should be changes to the (management) structure these will be announced, as always, in the correct way,” it said.

The company said it was awaiting the outcome of judicial investigations before deciding whether to take further steps.

Reuters

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Jihadist group Islamic State reportedly claims the responsibility of the death of 13 Nigerian soldiers. The claim which was made known on Thursday asserts that the Jihadists killed 13 Nigerian soldiers and five troops from a West African anti-militant force in attacks over recent days.

Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), which split from Nigeria-based Boko Haram in 2016, has carried out a series of attacks in the last few months.

In its newspaper, Al-Nabaa, IS said its fighters killed the Nigerians in attacks on a military barracks on Friday, a military post on Sunday, and a town on Monday, all in northeastern Borno state.

Fighters also detonated explosives on Wednesday on a vehicle in the Lake Chad region, killing five more soldiers, IS said, without specifying the country.

The militants said the vehicle was carrying troops from a multinational task force - comprising of troops from Nigeria, Niger, Chad, and Cameroon - set up to fight them.

A Nigerian military spokesman declined to comment, and a spokesman for the task force could not immediately be reached.

Boko Haram has waged a decade-long insurgency in northeast Nigeria which has killed around 30,000 people and forced about 2 million to leave their homes.

Reuters

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It's sad the amount of young lives that are taken from the world by avoidable circumstances. Young and promising Dr. Urueye Stephen aka Sarutobi, a House Officer at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, who had just recently waved good bye to the Lagos State University on Tuesday April 2nd, was stabbed to death by some robbers.


According to social media reports, armed robbers have constantly terrorized the doctor quarters, but the death of Stephen was a heavy slam on the neck.

Viral reports from social media says that Stephen's murdered attacked him while he was casually walking along Idi Araba road where LUTH is located. Like every normal day, he wouldn't have guessed such fate was lurking around the corner for him. They stabbed him before taking away his properties. 

Why couldn't they just rob him and keep his life?

Students and doctor colleagues have taken to Twitter and the streets of Lagos to protest and seek justice for Stephen. #Justiceforstephen.

His friend and former UNILAG SUG president, Adeyeye Olorunfemi, took to his Facebook to mourn his passing and wrote;

And we lost Stephen. 
We lost this young Doctor who wants to save lives to insecurity. 
He died 24 hours after his graduation. After 8 years of struggle in the jungle called Nigeria.

He was stabbed by armed robbers and died of stab wounds right in front of a government teaching hospital- LUTH. 
Stab wounds!

The medical students said they have always complained about the frequent robbery attacks around and on the College of Medicine, Idi-Araba Campus but the Management keep turning deaf ears.

You know ‘noisemakers’ like us like to protest. But you don’t want to protest because you don’t want to die. 
Events have shown us that you don’t have to partake in any protest before you die in Nigeria. Just be a Nigerian! 
We are all in this together.

My heart is heavy! 
This is sad! 

#blackfriday

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#Reuters While some networks release weather forecast, Kenya's president releases economic forecast.
President Uhuru Kenyatta predicts that Kenya's economy should grow an improved 6.3 percent in 2019. He made this prediction on Thursday while citing an improved business environment and his government's push to boost manufacturing, food production and access to housing.

Last year, growth was an estimated 6.1 percent, he stated. "We expect an even stronger growth ... reflecting continued improvement in the business environment, momentum associated with execution of the Big Four Agenda, and sustained macroeconomic stability," he told parliament.

The government also plans to boost output by setting up a credit guarantee scheme for small and medium businesses, he said in an annual state-of-the-nation address.

"We will be launching an SME Credit Guarantee Scheme in a few weeks, aimed at deepening their access to credit without being subjected to complex application procedures and collateral requirements," Kenyatta said.

Small and medium businesses have been hardest hit since the government put a cap on commercial lending rates in late 2016.

At the time, lawmakers said they were concerned about high interest rates. But the cap led to a private credit squeeze, as banks said it forced them to cut back on high-risk loans.

With many Kenyans fed up of government corruption draining state coffers and distorting business and politics, Kenyatta reiterated a pledge to tackle graft.

"I must, however, caution that the pursuit of the corrupt will be undertaken strictly within the remits of the law – and not through vigilante justice and pitchfork protest," he added.

The Directorate of Criminal Investigations is investigating what it said was fraudulent construction of two dams valued at 63 billion shillings ($626 million). Some payments were already made out despite the dams not being built.

The probe has seen three ministers, including the one in charge of finance, questioned by detectives.

They have all denied wrongdoing.

($1 = 100.6000 Kenyan shillings)

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#Reuters:- The Pan-African bank, Ecobank, has put in $64 million into its unit in Nigeria after its decision to adopt a different exchange rate for the naira to the one supported by the central bank affected its capital ratio, it said on Monday.

Ecobank said its board decided in November to adopt a market exchange rate of 364 naira to the dollar, a move away from Nigeria's official exchange rate of 306 naira.

The weaker rate is more commonly used in trading and has more liquidity than the official exchange rate.

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