President Muhammadu Buhari has commiserated with family of former Minister of Information, Chief Alex Akinyele, who passed away on Thursday night.
The President’s condolence message is conveyed through a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, in Abuja on Friday.
President Buhari also commiserated with the government and people of Ondo State, friends and professional colleagues of the departed, urging them to take solace in the lasting legacies of the former colourful minister.
President Buhari affirmed that Akinyele’s scrupulousness, discipline and diligence were always obvious to those who worked closely with him, and his love for the nation, which was zealously demonstrated through providing exemplary leadership.
The President prayed that the Almighty God will grant the soul of the former minister eternal rest, and comfort all members of his family.
Akinyele, who died at the age of 81, was a trained teacher and Public Relations Specialist, and had also served as Chairman of National Sports Commission and Chairman of National Reconciliation Committee.
Buhari asks Senate to confirm Nami as FIRS boss, 13 others as board members
President Muhammadu Buhari has asked the Senate to confirm the appointment of Muhammad Nami from the North Central geopolitical zone, as the Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service.
Buhari, in a letter dated December 9, also sought the approval of the red chamber for the appointments of 13 others as members of the FIRS board.
They are: James Ayuba (North Central); Ado Danjuma (North West); Adam Mohammed (North East); Ikeme Osakwe (South East); Adewale Ogunyomade (South West); Ehile Aibangbee (South South);
Other members of the board appointed from the ministries agencies and departments of the Federal Government are: Ladidi Mohammed (Attorney General of the Federation Office) and Godwin Emefiele (Central Bank of Nigeria).
They also include: Fatima Hayatu (Ministry of Finance); Maagbe Adaa (Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission); and Umar Ajiya (Nigerian National Petroleum Commission).
The rest are: DCG T. M. Isah (Nigeria Customs Service) and the Registrar General of the Corporate Affairs Commission.
Buhari in the letter read at plenary on Tuesday by the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, urged the senators to accord the communication an expeditious consideration.
Education will stop early marriage of the girl child, says Women Affairs Minister
From Musa Pam, Jos
Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen has said she is committed towards abolishing early marriage of the girl child by ensuring their education
Tallen said her mnistry is collaborating with the Ministry of Education towards addressing the issue of early marriage among Nigerian girls.
The minister stated this in Jos on Tuesday while addressing journalists after a town hall meeting with women from Plateau State.
She said educating the girl child is key to unlocking access to economic and social development of the country, saying her ministry along with the Ministry of Education is ensuring that their education from primary to junior secondary school is free.
“Investing in girls’ and women education is one of the most effective ways to reducing poverty and advancing national development,” she said.
2020 Budget: Gov. Bello presents N148.2bn to Niger Assembly
Daniel Atori, Minna
Governor Abubakar Bello of Niger State on Tuesday presented a N148.2 billion budget for the 2020 fiscal year to the state House of Assembly.
The proposed the budget is N148,211,929,549.82 less than the 2019 budget which was N194,698,816,253.00 (including a Supplementary Budget of N30,247,947,518.42).
According to Governor Abubakar Sani Bello: “The proposal consists of Recurrent Expenditure of N69,968,379,598.50 or 47.21 percent and Capital Expenditure of N78,243,549,951.32 or 52.79 percent of the budget.”
The budget was christened: “Budget of Inclusion for Sustainable Development”.
Democrats expected to announce Trump impeachment articles Tuesday
Democrats in the U.S. House Judiciary Committee are expected to announce articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Tuesday, a lawmaker told multiple U.S. media outlets.
Elliot Engel, the House Foreign Affairs Chairman, told reporters that the articles of impeachment were likely be unveiled at a news conference on Tuesday morning.
It is unclear how many articles will be introduced and on what charges the articles will be based, reports dpa.
Democrats say that Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine as part of a pressure campaign to get Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Trump’s domestic political rival Joe Biden and conspiracy theories related to the 2016 presidential election.
According to the Democrats, Trump abused power and committed bribery, accusations which Trump denies.
Once the Democrats’ articles of impeachment are formally introduced, they are likely to go through changes before leaving the House Judiciary Committee and are put up for a general vote.
If the Democrat-controlled House votes in favour of the impeachment articles, then the process moves to the Republican-controlled Senate, where Trump’s supporters have promised to defend the president.
On Monday Democrats held a public hearing summing up their case against the president.
House Judiciary Committee staff lawyers for majority Democrats laid out evidence for impeachment over Trump’s dealings with Ukraine earlier this year, while a committee lawyer for minority Republicans rebutted the claims in sometimes heated exchanges.
“We are here today because Donald J Trump, the 45th president of the United States, abused the power of his office, the American presidency, for his political and personal benefit,” Daniel Goldman, a lawyer for Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, said in his opening statement.
Democrats say a back-and-forth during a July 25 call between Trump and Zelensky showed a “quid pro quo” that put Trump’s own personal political interests over U.S. national security.
Trump has vehemently denied any wrongdoing, and on Monday he tweeted about the hearing, citing a comment from Zelensky that Trump did nothing wrong.
“If the Radical Left Democrats were sane, which they are not, it would be case over!” he tweeted.
Republicans on the committee said that the evidence presented since the inquiry was announced in September, based on a whistleblower’s report, was thin and the process used by the Democrats unfair.
But the Democrats’ lawyer for the Judiciary Committee told lawmakers that the evidence against Trump was “overwhelming” and revealed a “brazen” scheme.
Barry Berke said that impeaching him was an urgent matter because he could potentially repeat the behaviour.
“This is a big deal. President Trump did what a president of our nation is not allowed to do,” Berke said.
In addition to Goldman and Berke the committee heard testimony from Stephen Castor, a lawyer for Republicans on both committees.
He said that the process was “not warranted” based on the evidence and that a “compelling argument” to take a decision “out of the hands of the voters” was lacking.
The full House could vote on articles of impeachment as early as Friday.
The inquiry’s leaders have not yet named the specific impeachable offences they may vote on.
Once articles of impeachment are passed – as expected in the Democrats-dominated House – the articles would then move to the Republican-controlled Senate, where Democrats appear unlikely to rally enough Republicans to vote to remove Trump from office.
Democrats in the House appear undeterred by that reality.
Democrats have said that the matter is too important, citing it as an example of what the framers of the U.S. Constitution intended to stop when they gave Congress the ability to remove a president through impeachment.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said in his opening statement that Trump “put himself before country” as monarchs of the past had done.
Nadler was forced to pound his gavel several times and warn Republican members not to interrupt as they bickered over procedural matters.
He also was forced to order a number of roll call votes to satisfy Republican demands, even once over a question of whether the committee should take a break.
Republicans complained bitterly about the timing of the impeachment process just a year before the next presidential election and said that the evidence didn’t show that impeachable offences had been committed.
Representative Douglas Collins complained that the Democrats had put the House in danger by abusing its power, saying that the hearings had been “all military,” and adding, “It’s a show”.
Saudi Arabia lifts ban on segregating men, women in restaurants
Women will no longer have to be segregated from men in restaurants in Saudi Arabia, the country’s government has said.
Previously, it was mandatory to have one entrance for families and women, and another for men on their own.
The ruling is the latest measure announced by the Saudi government that upends conservative restrictions that have been in place for decades, reports standard.co.uk.
The decision was announced in a lengthy and technically worded statement by the Municipal and Rural Affairs Ministry.
While some restaurants and cafes in the coastal city of Jiddah and Riyadh’s upscale hotels had already been allowing unrelated men and women to sit freely, the move makes official what has been a sensitive issue in the past among traditional Saudis who view gender segregation as a religious requirement. Despite that, neighbouring Muslim countries do not have similar rules.
Across Saudi Arabia, the norm has been that unrelated men and women are not permitted to mix in public. Government-run schools and most public universities remain segregated, as are most Saudi weddings.
Restaurants and cafes in Saudi Arabia, including major Western chains like Starbucks, were segregated by “family” sections allocated for women who are out on their own or who are accompanied by male relatives, and “singles” sections for just men.
Many also have separate entrances for women and partitions or rooms for families where women are not visible to single men. In smaller restaurants or cafes with no space for segregation, women were not allowed in.
In recent years, however, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has pushed for sweeping social reforms, with women and men now able to attend concerts and movie theatres that were once banned. He also curtailed the powers of the country’s religious police, who had been enforcers of conservative social norms, like gender segregation in public.
Two years ago, women for the first time were allowed to attend sports events in stadiums in the so-called “family” sections. Young girls in recent years have also been allowed access to physical education and sports in school, a right that only boys had been afforded.
In August, the kingdom lifted a controversial ban on travel by allowing all citizens – women and men alike – to apply for a passport and travel freely, ending a long-standing guardianship policy that had controlled women’s freedom of movement.
Reflecting the sensitive nature of this most recent move, the decision to end enforcement of segregation in restaurants was announced in a statement published by the state-run Saudi Press Agency.
The statement listed a number of newly approved technical requirements for buildings, schools, stores and sports centres.
The statement noted that the long list of published decisions was aimed at attracting investments and creating greater business opportunities.
Among the regulations announced was “removing a requirement by restaurants to have an entrance for single men and (another) for families.”
N’Zealand police launch criminal investigation after 13 killed in volcanic eruption
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern expressed “unfathomable grief” on Tuesday after a volcanic eruption at a popular tourist island, as the police announced that it is launching a criminal investigation into the circumstances of the deadly incident.
Ardern confirmed five fatalities and said eight people were still missing after Monday’s eruption at Whakaari, also known as White Island, reports al-Jazeera.
There was little hope of finding the missing alive, after overnight aerial reconnaissance flights found no signs of life. Police also said that the bodies left on the island are covered in ash.
“The focus this morning is on recovery and ensuring police can do that safely,” Ardern told a news conference.
Reuters and AFP news agencies confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that a criminal investigation is being launched by police to look into the incident, and why the tourists were allowed despite an earlier warning about volcanic activities.
Among those on the island during the cataclysm were tourists from Australia, the United States, the UK, China and Malaysia, as well as their New Zealand guides.
“To those who have lost or are missing family and friends, we share in your unfathomable grief and in your sorrow,” Ardern said.
“Your loved ones stood alongside Kiwis who were hosting you here and we grieve with you.”
Ardern singled out “our Australian family” for sympathy, while her Australian counterpart Scott Morrison said there were fears that three of the five dead were Australian.
“This is a very, very hard day for a lot of Australian families whose loved ones have been caught up in this terrible, terrible tragedy,” he told reporters in Sydney.
A total of 31 people – including 13 Australians – were in hospital with various injuries, some listed as critical with serious burns.
Of those those who were injured, police said on Tuesday that 27 of them suffered greater than 71 percent body surface burns.
White Island Tours, a trip operator, confirmed that two of its guides were unaccounted for, while the UK’s High Commissioner in Wellington said two female citizens were in hospital.
Concerns about further eruptions, poisonous gases and choking ash prevented efforts to recover bodies.
The eruption occurred just after 2pm on Monday (01:00 GMT), thrusting a thick plume of white ash 3.6km (12,000 feet) into the sky.
The island is about 50km (30 miles) off New Zealand’s North Island in the picturesque Bay of Plenty and attracts more than 17,000 visitors every year.
When the blast occurred, it was being visited by a group of more than 30 people from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, the Ovation of the Seas, which left Sydney on a 12-day voyage last week.
The threat level at the volcano had been raised in recent days, and questions are already being asked about whether it was safe for tour groups to visit.
Cruise operator Royal Caribbean had sold a day trip to White Island as an “unforgettable” adventure to New Zealand’s most active volcano, one that took visitors so close to the action they could require gas masks and hard hats.
White Island Tours said it “operates through the varying alert levels” but that “passengers should be aware that there is always a risk of eruptive activity regardless of the alert level”.
Scientists said there had been increased activity at the volcano over the past week – but nothing to indicate an eruption was imminent.
Aung San Suu Kyi to appear at ICJ as Myanmar faces genocide case
Aung San Suu Kyi will appear at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague on Tuesday for a highly anticipated genocide case against Myanmar.
The country’s civilian leader, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her struggle against Myanmar’s military dictatorship, arrived at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport on Sunday alongside Wouter Jurgens, the Dutch ambassador to Myanmar, and was greeted by a handful of supporters.
Several demonstrations, for and against her, are expected to take place in the coming days in the Dutch city, reports al-Jazeera.
The case, the first international legal attempt to bring Myanmar to justice over alleged mass killings of the Rohingya minority, comes after the Gambia on November 11 filed an application at the ICJ, accusing Myanmar of violating the 1948 Genocide Convention.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s office confirmed last month that she would participate in the hearing and lead her country’s team to “defend the national interest”.
More than 700,000 Rohingya, a mostly-Muslim minority, fled to neighbouring Bangladesh after a bloody crackdown in 2017 by the Myanmar military, which UN investigators have concluded was carried out with “genocidal intent”.
Reed Brody, a commissioner at the International Commission of Jurists, who was instrumental in the prosecution of former Chadian President Hissene Habre, told Al Jazeera: “It’s totally unprecedented for a top political leader like Aung San Suu Kyi to take a leading role in a legal case at the ICJ.
“Legally it could be counterproductive for Suu Kyi to assume such a role since it looks like she is politicising the case.
“The ICJ oozes tradition and diplomatic protocol and I doubt the judges will be impressed by tour groups arriving from Myanmar to support the government.”
During the three-day hearing, the Gambia’s legal team will ask the ICJ judges for “provisional measures” to protect the Rohingya before the case is heard in full.
Myanmar has long denied accusations of genocide and most allegations of targeted military-led violence, saying that its actions were meant to protect the country against Rohingya “militants”. It has promised to punish soldiers involved in cases of wrongdoing.
Several world leaders, rights groups, international observers and Rohingya survivors claim otherwise; that Myanmar has carried out systematic, violent and sometimes sexual and deadly abuse against thousands of Rohingya – including children – while denying members of the ethnic minority citizenship rights.
Aung San Suu Kyi has been widely criticised for remaining mostly silent on accusations of anti-Rohingya violence, and more recently on a mobile phone blackout imposed on parts of the majority-Buddhist Southeast Asian country.
Marzuki Darusman, the head of a UN fact-finding mission on Myanmar, warned last month that there was “a serious risk of genocide returning” against the Rohingya still living in the country.
The team from the Gambia, a tiny Muslim country, says Myanmar’s anti-Rohingya attacks are “genocidal in character because they are intended to destroy the Rohingya group in whole or in part”.
International lawyer Priya Pillay saidGambia’s case represents “a significant step in the quest for accountability”, but noted, “success at the ICJ is far from guaranteed”.
Unlike the International Criminal Court (ICC) or domestic courts, an individual cannot sue or be sued at the ICJ, which is also known as the World Court.
Cases before the ICJ determine whether a state breached a law.
“The court will read out the application and will set deadlines for the parties,” Ilias Bantekas, a professor of law at Hamad bin Khalifa University in Doha, Qatar, told Al Jazeera. “If Myanmar challenges the claims until the bitter end, the final judgement on the merits and reparation could take as long as five years.
“The best the victims can claim from this is an acknowledgement of the type of mass crime committed and an authoritative record of events.
“Moreover, a formal apology to the victims may be requested by the ICJ, as well as some form of collective compensation, through the applicant – Gambia, which may even consist of a return and healthy resettlement, along with the granting of a large array of collective rights to the Rohingya, for example, regional autonomy, the protection of religious rights and representation in parliament.”
Navanethem Pillay, an experienced South African judge and former UN high commissioner for human rights, and Claus Kress, a German law professor, have been appointed as ad hoc judges in the case.
Experts are divided over whether the ICJ is a suitable court to hear a genocide case.
Putin wants changes to Ukraine constitution
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday he wanted changes to the Ukrainian constitution to give a special status to the Donbass region after the first bilateral talks with his Ukrainian counterpart in Paris.
Putin, who said the meeting in Paris had been useful, said he needed more points of passage between front lines in eastern Ukraine for civilians and the implementation of an amnesty for people involved in the conflict, reports Reuters.
JUST IN: Chilean Air Force plane with 38 people aboard crashes
A Chilean Air Force plane flying to Antarctica with 38 people on board crashed on Monday afternoon, officials said.
The C130 Hercules, which took off from the city of Punta Arenas, was flying to President Eduardo Frei Montalva Antarctic Air Base when it disappeared, Chile’s Air Force said in a statement.
The plane, which was transferring personnel to a floating fuel supply pipeline, lost radio contact shortly after 6:00 p.m. Officials later said it had crashed.
Twenty-one people aboard the plane were passengers and 17 were crew members, the statement said.
President Sebastian Piñera said authorities were monitoring search and rescue efforts, reports NBC News.
Falana to FG: Sowore not a terrorist, coup plotter
- Coalition issues 14-day ultimatum, threatens mass action
A rights activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Femi Falana, has flayed the Federal Government for comparing the Convener of #RevolutionNowgroup, Omoyele Sowore, with the dreaded Boko Haram terrorist group, saying it is highly contemptuous.
Falana told the government that Sowore is neither a terrorist nor coup plotter.
He also said that tactics adopted by the Federal Government and the Department of State Services (DSS), show that the government is not ready for the prosecution of his client, Omoyele Sowore, who was rearrested last Friday by the secret service.
He made the disclosure while reacting to a statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, on Sunday, in which Sowore was compared with the Boko Haram terrorist group.
According to Falana, it is highly unprofessional for the president’s aide to subject a man who is held incommunicado to scurrilous attacks in the media.
He added that Sowore will surely have a right of reply once the fundamental rights of the Nigerian people are restored because he is not among the well-known merchants of violence and coup plotters that had successfully but illegally removed democratically-elected governments in Nigeria.
Falana stated that comparing Sowore’s call for revolution with Boko Haram insurgency was an attempt to charge the activist with terrorism.
His words: “The link is a justification for the planned arraignment of Sowore for terrorism.
“Since it is common knowledge that Sowore and Olawale Bakare are not among the well-known merchants of violence and coup plotters that had successfully but illegally removed democratically elected governments in Nigeria, we are not going to join issues with Mr. Garba Shehu over the highly contemptuous statements credited to him.
“But as a senior journalist, Mr. Shehu ought to have known that it is highly unprofessional to subject a man who is held incommunicado to scurrilous attacks in the media. We are, however, convinced that Sowore will have a right of reply once the fundamental rights of the Nigerian people are restored.”
He also decried the media trial of Sowore by the Federal Government.
“Even though the Federal Government has failed to engage in the diligent prosecution of the serious case, the presidency has resorted to media trial while the charge of treasonable felony is allowed to hang menacingly on the heads of our clients.
“We are, however, not going to be tempted to join issues with the presidency over a case that is pending before a properly constituted court of law. If the presidency is so sure that our clients committed treasonable felony or any other offence whatsoever, it should keep its powder dry and advise the prosecution to commence the trial without any further delay,” the silk said.
The president’s aide had, in a statement on Sunday, dismissed insinuations in the media about government’s complicity in the re-arrest of Sowore by the DSS, saying no government will allow anybody to openly call for destabilization in the country and do nothing.
Shehu said the DSS does not necessarily need the permission of the presidency in all cases to carry out its essential responsibilities that are laid down in the Nigerian Constitution.
Meanwhile, speaking in Lagos at the public presentation of the third edition of Compendium of High Profile Corruption Cases in Nigeria put together by the Human Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resource Centre) Falana said Sowore became the target of attack because of his status as a publisher of a widely accepted online medium, Sahara Reporters, that is in the business of exposing corruption within the ruling class, adding that his client had not committed any offence, which explains why the prosecution had not been able to submit their witnesses’ statements for the commencement of trial.
He said: “Government has not shown any readiness to prosecuting him. If you recall, we were told that Sowore went to Dubai to collect millions of dollars to overthrow the government. But the government discovered that Sowore has never been to Dubai before and that aspect collapsed like a pack of cards.
“I have not seen any indication to show that they are ready to prosecute him. All the government is doing is to embark on media trial without leading evidence in court.
“You also have to examine the fact that at the time Sowore is harassed, you also have the Hate Speech and the Anti-Social Media bill going on, they are all linked. The whole idea is to cow Nigerians into submission so that nobody is in a position to criticise the government.”
The compendium, which consists of pending 100 corruption cases of prominent Nigerians before the judiciary, was researched and published to document and assist the public, the media and researchers with information for easy reference.
In his review of the compendium, Mr. Adeola Soetan, said HEDA published an ugly diary that the ruling elite will hate to see, adding that the report covers corruption cases in all the sectors of the country.
On his part, the Executive Director of HEDA, Mr. Olanrewaju Suraju, who was represented by Mr. Sina Odugbemi, said the motive of the compendium, which was done with support from the MacArthur Foundation, was to ensure that justice is administered swiftly on those who steal from public coffers.
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