At least 30 children in Liberia were killed in a fire at their school, police said on Wednesday.
“The kids were learning the Koran when the fire broke out,” police spokesman Moses Carter said. “The cause is not known yet.”
The fire started late on Tuesday in the suburbs of the capital Monrovia, President George Weah said in a tweet, reports Reuters.
US Supreme Court clears way for shooting victim families to sue gun-maker
The US Supreme Court has cleared the way for families of Newtown, Connecticut, shooting victims to sue gun-maker Remington Arms Co. — the manufacturer of the AR-15 used in the 2012 massacre — rejecting the company’s request for the court to consider the case.
The case will now proceed to trial in Connecticut for the families of the victims of the shooting, which took place in December 2012 at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. Twenty children and six adults were killed at the school, reports ABC News.
The justices did not offer an explanation for their decision to deny the request to take up the case.
Alleged N16.4m fraud: Court discharges ex-IGP Ehindero
An FCT High Court in Apo has discharged a former Inspector-General of Police, Sunday Ehindero, who was charged with alleged diversion of N16.4million.
The trial judge, Justice Silvanus Oriji, also discharged Ehindero’s co-defendant, a former Commissioner of Police in charge of Budget at the Force Headquarters, John Obaniyi, of the 10-count charge filed against them by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (ICPC).
The ICPC had alleged that the defendants conspired and used their positions to pay N500 million in two fixed deposit accounts with Wema Bank and Intercontinental Bank from the N557.9m donated by the Bayelsa Government to the Nigeria Police for purchase of arms and ammunition.
The anti-corruption commission further alleged that the N500 million placed in fixed deposits yielded an interest of N16.4million which was allegedly diverted by the defendants. They, however, pleaded not guilty.
Following the closing of the case of the prosecution on May 8 after calling four witnesses, the defendants filed a no-case submission, urging the court to discharge them.
Ruling on the submission on Tuesday, Justice Oriji held that the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case against the defendants which would have warranted the court to call on them (defendants) to open their defence.
He held that the prosecution had failed to prove that the defendants converted the said interest generated to their personal use.
The judge further held that the investigation officer did not discredit the claim of the defendants to prove that the money was not used for operational purposes.
“I, therefore, uphold the no-case submission. The defendants are hereby discharged,” he held.
JUST IN: Senate proposes bill to establish agency for hate speech
The Senate has introduced a bill which seeks to establish a federal government agency to check hate speech in the country.
The bill, sponsored by a former Senate spokesperson, who is now the Deputy Senate Whip, Sabi Abdullahi, passed first reading on the floor of the red chamber on Tuesday.
It is titled, “National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches (Earn, etc) Bill 2019″.
A similar bill sponsored by Abdullahi in the 8th Senate prescribed among others, death by hanging for anyone found guilty of the offence.
Former Bolivian president Morales heads to Mexico for asylum
Bolivia’s former president, Evo Morales, was flying to Mexico on Tuesday after fleeing his South American homeland, seeking refuge under a leftist government that has supported the veteran socialist in the wake of a disputed election.
Bolivia’s first indigenous president came under Mexico’s protection after he departed Bolivia late on Monday on a Mexican Air Force jet, Mexico’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said.
“His life and integrity are safe,” Ebrard wrote on Twitter, after warning Morales was in danger and saying Mexico would offer asylum as part of its long tradition of sheltering exiles, reports Reuters.
The Mexican government’s support has helped cement its emerging role as a bastion of diplomatic support for left-wing leaders in Latin America.
Morales, who governed for 14 years, said on Twitter he was thankful to Mexico but saddened to leave Bolivia for political reasons, following weeks of violent protests and unrest.
In a photo tweeted by Ebrard, Morales is seated alone on the jet with a downcast, unsmiling expression, displaying Mexico’s red, white and green flag across his lap.
Morales’ government collapsed on Sunday after ruling party allies quit and the army urged him to step down, a tactic that Mexico’s government said it views as a “coup” because it broke with Bolivia’s constitutional order.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador praised Morales for the decision to resign rather than put the lives of Bolivians at risk.
His departure added to a sense of crisis in Latin America, which has been hit by weeks of unrest in countries such as Ecuador and Chile, where protesters are urging governments to step back from policies raising fuel and transport prices.
Afghan president: 3 Taliban released for abducted US, Australian profs
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani says his government has released three Taliban figures in effort to have the insurgents free an American and an Australian professor they abducted in 2017.
Ghani said at a press event broadcast live on state television on Tuesday that the release of the three prominent insurgents was very hard decision he had to make in the interest of the Afghan people, reports The Associated Press (AP).
He said that the three members of the Taliban-linked Haqqani network include Anas Haqqani, Haji Mali Khan and Hafiz Rashid, and that they are being released “conditionally in exchange” for the two professors. He did not elaborate.
The two men — an American identified as Kevin King and an Australian man identified as Timothy Weekes — were abducted outside the American University in Kabul.
Israeli forces kill top Islamic Jihad commander in Gaza strike
Israel killed a top commander for Iranian-backed Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad in a rare targeted strike in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, accusing him of carrying out a series of cross-border attacks and planning more.
The slaying of Baha Abu Al-Atta in his home looked likely to pose a new challenge for Gaza’s ruling Hamas faction, which has mostly tried to maintain a truce with Israel since a 2014 war.
At least one other person, a woman, was also killed in the blast that ripped through the building in Gaza City’s Shejaia district before dawn, medics said. Two others were wounded.
Shortly after, Palestinian militants launched a salvo of rockets into Israel, witnesses said. There was no immediate word of casualties or damage on the other side. Israeli police said they closed some roads on the edge of Gaza as a precaution, reports Reuters.
In a statement, the Israeli military said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had authorized the operation against Al-Atta, blaming him for recent rocket, drone and sniper attacks against Israel, and attempted infiltrations into the country.
“Abu Al-Atta was responsible for most of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s activity in the Gaza Strip and was a ticking bomb,” the statement said, accusing Al-Atta of planning “imminent terror attacks through various means”.
An Islamic Jihad statement confirmed the death of Al-Atta, who it said had been in the midst of “heroic jihadist action”.
“Our inevitable retaliation will rock the Zionist entity,” the statement said, referring to Israel.
Islamic Jihad shares Hamas’s ideological commitment to Israel’s destruction. But unlike Hamas, it is has often chafed at Egyptian-led efforts to forge ceasefires with the Israelis.
Israeli analysts have said Iran has been cultivating Islamic Jihad as a Gaza-based proxy as part of Tehran’s widening regional confrontation against Israel.
At least 15 killed, 58 injured as trains collide head-on
At least 15 people were killed and 58 others injured when two trains collided in Brahmanbaria district in eastern Bangladesh early on Tuesday, police said.
Three coaches were sent tumbling off the tracks at Mondolbhag station in the town of Kasba when a Dhaka-bound intercity train and a locomotive bound for Chittagong collided.
“At least 15 people have been killed. And another 58 were injured. We have sent the injured to different hospitals in the region,” district police chief Anisur Rahman told AFP news agency.
Rahman told Anadolu Agency that the death toll might rise as some passengers were still reportedly trapped under the affected coaches.
Train services between the capital Dhaka and two other important cities – Sylhet and Chittagong – have been suspended.
The circumstances surrounding the accident were under investigation, a railway official told reporters.
“We are still conducting a rescue operation,” he said, adding that faulty signalling could have been to blame.
Bangladesh President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed their condolences over the deaths, reports al-Jazeera.
Train accidents are common in Bangladesh and are often caused by poor signalling or other rundown infrastructure.
Ex US President Jimmy Carter admitted to hospital for brain surgery
Former President Jimmy Carter was hospitalized on Monday for a procedure to relieve pressure on his brain, caused by bleeding due to his recent falls, a spokesperson said.
Carter, the oldest living ex-U.S. president, was admitted to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta on Monday evening ahead of the procedure, which is scheduled to take place Tuesday morning, reports ABC News.
A spokesperson for the family said he was “resting comfortably, and his wife, Rosalynn, is with him.”
Carter, 95, was recently hospitalized after fracturing his pelvis on October 21. — the most recent of three falls this year.
Carter had to get stitches above his brow after falling at his ranch house in rural Plains, Georgia, on October 6. And in May, he underwent surgery after falling and breaking his hip while he was leaving to go turkey hunting.
The nation’s 39th president made headlines earlier this month when he opened up about being “at ease with death” during a Sunday school service near his home in Georgia.
“I assumed naturally that I was going to die very quickly,” said Carter, referring to his cancer diagnosis in 2015. “I said a prayer about it; I didn’t ask God to let me live, I found that I was absolutely and completely at ease with death.”
During Sunday’s service he said his only concern about dying was missing his family and loved ones, but said that he realized, as a Christian, he would see them again.
Carter was elected president in 1976, defeating Republican Gerald Ford, but served just one term before his loss to Ronald Reagan in 1980. Since his presidency, he’s dedicated himself to charitable causes, such as Habitat for Humanity.
APC vs PDP: Confusion in Oyo over A’Court verdict
- Court allows APC’s appeal, fails to upturn gov’s victory
- Adelabu seeks Supreme Court’s interpretation on ruling
- Makinde: My victory remains intact, nobody can steal it
There was a thick judicial confusion yesterday in Ibadan, Oyo State capital, as the Court of Appeal, Ibadan Division allowed the appeal filed by Adebayo Adelabu, the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) during the March 9, 2019 election against the sitting governor, Seyi Makinde, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The court, however, ordered status quo in the lower tribunal’s judgement, meaning that the return and declaration of Makinde as winner of the March 9 governorship poll in Oyo State remained.
The two parties in the electoral dispute laid claim to the victory at the appellate court.
The four-man panel of the Appeal Court, led by Justice Abubakar Yahaya, ruled that there was miscarriage of justice in the decision of the Oyo State Election Petitions Tribunal which upheld the victory of Makinde, against the petition by Adelabu. But the appellate court could not order a retrial or give any consequential order to the effect. It also refused to make any order for re-hearing of the election petition.
It held that the tribunal erred by not considering every document submitted by Adelabu to prove his case and lumping them together as one.
In its ruling, the Appeal Court resolved all the four issues raised by Adelabu in favour of Makinde, noting that it allowed the appeal because there were issues of miscarriage of justice at the lower court, but added that a judgement must be given after considering the situation in its entirety.
But there was a dissenting judgement from a judge with a proviso that the panel could not nullify Makinde’s election, as, according to him, the 180 days mandated for the tribunal to deliver its judgement in election petition had lapsed and there was consequently no reason to touch the ruling of the lower court.
Adelabu had filed an appeal through his counsel, Yusuf Alli (SAN), against the judgement of the tribunal upholding the victory of the PDP and its candidate, Makinde.
He had prayed the court to dismiss the judgement of the lower court and order a fresh election while counsel to Makinde urged the court to dismiss the appeal and uphold the judgement of the tribunal.
While speaking with journalists after the judgement, the lead counsel to Makinde, Eyitayo Jegede (SAN), said that the declaration of Makinde as governor “has not been affected in any way. The Court of Appeal, in their wisdom, said they did not agree with the lower tribunal. They did not also say that they did not agree with INEC. So, INEC’s declaration is sacrosanct and it remains until any other pronouncement from the court.
“We have not seen the details of the judgement. We were all in court and you (journalists) saw that the details were not read to us. As far as we are concerned, there is no cause for alarm,” he said.
Speaking on the implications of the judgement on Governor Makinde, Jegede said: “There is no implication on the return and declaration of Seyi Makinde as the governor of Oyo State.”
The counsel to Adelabu and APC, Adeboye Shobanjo, however, told journalists that: “You listened to what My Lord said about the evaluation of judgement of evidence that when there are evidence before the court, the evidence of all parties before the court should be evaluated. Judgement should not be based only on the evidence of a party in a case, and if that was done during the trial, or during the judgement, that is contrary to the provision of the constitution on fair hearing.
“Second, this court settled the issue of dumping of documents on election cases. And contrary to the decision of the tribunal that all the documents tendered by the appellants were dumped on the tribunal, the judgement made it known that the documents were not dumped on the tribunal.
“In totality, the appeal was allowed. But My Lord said that because of effusion of time, that since the time for trial has lapsed at the tribunal, they cannot order for retrial of the case.
“But generally or totally, the appeal was allowed. It showed that the judgement of the tribunal occasioned miscarriage of justice against the appellants.”
When asked to comment on if Adelabu and the APC would proceed to the Supreme Court, Shobanjo simply said: “The next step depends on my clients. They will brief us accordingly and it depends on instructions.”
Meanwhile, the APC in Oyo State has reaffirmed its strong belief in the judiciary as the pillar of hope for the sustenance of democracy, saying Adelabu and the party would approach the Supreme Court for final settlement of the litigation.
The APC “regretted that the good people of the state would still have to wait for the final adjudication on the case before our candidate could reclaim his mandate.”
According to a statement issued by its Assistant Publicity Secretary, Prince Ayobami Adejumo, Oyo APC lauded the appellate court’s judges for their pronouncement which validated the claims of the plaintiffs in the matter, saying, “The verdict given on Monday was unambiguous, apt and sound enough to convince any informed mind about the genuineness of our claim that Makinde’s declaration as the winner of the March 9 poll was done by INEC in error. The results announced were ridiculously inflated and there is no way such conspiracy could stand the test of proper scrutiny as this was just confirmed by the appellate court.
“Obviously, the next line of action is for us as a party and our gubernatorial hopeful to approach the Supreme Court for perfection of the landmark verdict delivered by the Court of Appeal today and, by the special Grace of God, we shall obtain favourable judgement from the apex court as only this would lend credence to the fact that Nigeria’s democratic practice is premised on free and fair elections as well as the rule of law.”
Meanwhile, Governor Makinde has declared that his mandate remains intact and cannot be stolen through the back door.
Makinde, in a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Taiwo Adisa said, “There is no ambiguity as to the state of things in our Pacesetter State as far as the election of March 9, 2019, is concerned. Our party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) won the election.
“The victory was reaffirmed by a ruling of the Election Petitions Tribunal, sitting in Ibadan, the state capital.
“On Monday, the Court of Appeal, also sitting in Ibadan, delivered its judgement on the appeal by the candidate of the APC, Adebayo Adelabu.
“In its ruling, the Appeal Court refused to grant any of the three key reliefs sought by the APC candidate.
“The court refused to nullify the election; it refused to order a fresh election and it also refused to order the retrial of the petition.
“With the above being the reality of the outcome of the Appeal Court ruling, the election of Engr. Seyi Makinde as the Governor of Oyo State has just been reaffirmed.
“There is nothing in the Appeal Court’s ruling that affects the returns made by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and there is nothing that tampers with the mandate freely given to Engr. Seyi Makinde by the people of Oyo State.
“Governor Makinde hereby urges the good people of Oyo State to remain calm and refuse to be provoked by agents of disruption who are seeking to upturn the truth, which remains constant against all odds.
“We also wish to enjoin the people of Oyo State to ignore the doctored reports in some media outlets, which are merely quoting the judgement of the Court of Appeal out of context.
“With a clear margin of Makinde’s 515,621 votes to Adelabu’s 357,982 votes, the preference of the people of Oyo State is as clear as day and night.”
Declare state of emergency on roads, SSANU tells FG
…threatens strike over balance of earned allowances
The Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) has called on the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency on Nigerian roads.
In a communiqué signed by its President, Comrade Samson Ugwoke and the Public Relations Officer, Comrade Abdussobur Salaam at the end of its 37th National Executive Council (NEC) meeting in Ondo State, the non-teaching staff union of universities decried the deplorable state of roads across the country.
SSANU lamented that despite the huge amount of resources generated through crude oil in past years, Nigerian roads have become death traps filled with potholes, gullies and craters leading to avoidable road crashes.
The communiqué reads in part: “NEC in Session noted with great disappointment that the state of Nigerian roads is getting worse and more dangerous to traverse by the day. Coming from various parts of the country, members narrated the hazardous experiences they had on roads which have become death traps.
“NEC observed that it is indeed shameful that a country which has realised billions of dollars in crude oil revenue for years, cannot maintain its roads, no thanks to endemic corruption which has eaten into the fabric of the nation.
“NEC, therefore, appeals to the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency on Nigerian roads to save Nigerians from avoidable loss of lives through road accidents and other mishaps.”
While calling on government to, without further delay, release the balance of the N30 billion Earned Allowances in the interest of industrial harmony in the universities, SSANU demanded that the Audit Reports of all disbursements of earned allowances be made public in order to guide government in subsequent disbursements.
The union has also directed its members to continue mobilisation to embark on a nationwide indefinite strike should government fail to keep to its part of the bargain on time.
The union recalled that after a five-day warning strike by the Joint Action Committee of NASU and SSANU to demand payment of N30 billion being part payment of arrears of Earned Allowances, the Federal Government, via a memo signed by the Director, Tertiary Education in the Federal Ministry of Education, had conveyed the release of the sum of N25 billion for the payment of Earned Allowances for staff of federal universities.
Alleging a breach of due process and established protocols in the disbursements of allowances, SSANU noted that “the pattern adopted for the payment was a gross violation of the University Autonomy Laws because the Governing Councils who by law are vested with the power of identifying and allocating allowances to staff in their various universities were bypassed while the Registrars and Bursars, being custodians of all university records in terms of allowances and remunerations, were not involved in the processes leading to the allocations of these monies.”
The communiqué further reads: “NEC in session, therefore, demanded that the Audit Reports of all disbursements of earned allowances be made public in order to guide government in subsequent disbursements.
“NEC in Session further reiterated its resolve to demand a minimum sum of N30 billion for the payment of Earned Allowances to the JAC of NASU and SSANU to correct the present imbalance while arrangements should be made to pay the total balance as the sum demanded represents only a fraction of the actual earned allowances owed the JAC of NASU and SSANU from 2009 till date.
“NEC in Session directed the National Administrative Committee to liaise with its JAC counterpart, i.e. NASU, to give ultimatum to the Federal Government to commence an indefinite strike for the failure of government on the release of the earned allowances as promised.
“NEC directed its members to continue mobilization for an industrial action which may become inevitable if government is not forthcoming in the fullness of time.”
On the new National Minimum Wage, SSANU called on the National Salaries Incomes and Wages Commission to expeditiously make public, the new salary tables based on the consequential adjustments.
While warning the Federal Government not to introduce economic policies that would be counter-productive and vitiate the gains of the new minimum wage regime, the union urged state governments to immediately domesticate the new minimum wage in the various states in order to ensure that employees at the states and local governments enjoy the new wage without delay.
Commending the government for the closure of the country’s land borders, SSANU urged the Federal Government to ensure a long term goal by creating an enabling environment for local industry to thrive through the provision of loans and microcredit facilities.
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