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Africa Energy Series: Exploring Nigeria’s Gas-to-Power Sector

The latest Africa Energy Series, a documentary focusing on Nigeria’s gas-to-power prospects and challenges, is set to air this year on CNBC Africa. The documentary features key leaders in Nigeria’s gas and power sectors, including Bart O. Nnaji, Former Minister of Power; Dada Thomas, CEO of Frontier Oil and Head of the Nigeria Gas Association; Agatha Nnaji, Managing Director of Geometric Power Ltd.; Prof. Charles Odita, Managing Director and CEO of Midwestern Oil

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Nigeria and South Africa both come out of recession

Nigeria and South Africa both come out of recession

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Nigeria's economic growth is not yet keeping up with its economic growth

Nigeria and South Africa, two of Africa's richest countries, are no longer in recession as the economies of both grew in the last quarter.

Nigeria had experienced a long period in the doldrums with five consecutive quarters when the economy shrank.

But with annual GDP growth at less than 0.6%, Nigeria's emergence from recession is slow.

South Africa is still facing big economic challenges despite recording a more healthy 2.5% growth figure.

The economic boost in South Africa can be put down to a big rise in agricultural output of 33%.

But overall, its economy still continues to struggle with unemployment remaining stubbornly high at nearly 28%, the BBC's Africa Business Report editor Matthew Davies says.

In Nigeria, the poor performance of the vital oil sector continues to be a drag on the economy. Furthermore, the country's GDP needs to grow by 3% every year just to keep up with the rise in the country's population.

"It still falls far short of the growth rates the Nigerian economy should be achieving," economist Razia Khan told the Reuters news agency.

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Kenya: Announce Poll Date Now, Ruto Tells Polls Body

Photo: Daily Nation

Deputy President William Ruto addressing residents of Githurai during his tour of Kiambu County.

By Mary Wambui and Eric Wainaina

Jubilee leaders have asked the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to announce the date for a fresh election, saying President Uhuru Kenyatta would win with a huge margin.

Deputy President William Ruto and the leaders who accompanied him to a rally in Thika, insisted that the election date must fall within the constitutional deadlines provided.

"We are telling IEBC not to waste our time. It should announce the date of the fresh election because Kenyans are ready," Mr Ruto said, adding that the repeat of the presidential poll must take place in a peaceful environment.

Mr Ruto who addressed the rally after a church service at St Andrews Cathedral sustained his criticism towards the Supreme Court, saying the decision to annul President Uhuru Kenyatta's victory had undermined the will of millions of Kenyans who cast their ballots on August 8.

He added that the opposition National Super Alliance was colluding with the Judiciary to subvert the will of Kenyans, calling it stupidity.

FOUR JUDGES

"Fifteen million Kenyans cast their ballots and the vote is not in dispute. That four judges can orchestrate a coup against the will of the people...We are telling them that they booked a permanent place of shame in the history on our country," Mr Ruto said.

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"They are telling us that there is no need of seeking votes from wananchi and that if you want to be a leader, you must seek connections and networks with brokers within the Judiciary. That our mistake was that we wasted time by campaigning...that we should have sought connection by looking for (Chief Justice David) Maraga and other judges so that they could give Uhuru Kenyatta victory. They are foolish."

The Deputy President said Jubilee would not entertain blackmail or intimidation.

Mr Ruto added that Kenyans were willing to go back to the ballot and vote for Mr Kenyatta.

JUBILEE LEADERS

"We are telling Maraga and his Kitendawili (riddle) man wakenya ni wale wale na wembe ni ule ule (Kenyans are still the same and they will do as they did on August 8).

Mr Ruto was accompanied by Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka, Water and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa, senators Kithure Kindiki (Tharaka-Nithi), Kimani Wamatangi (Kiambu), Kipchumba Murkomen (Elgeyo-Marakwet), Irungu Kang'ata (Murang'a), Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu and his deputy James Nyoro.

MPs present were Kanini Kega (Kieni), Moses Kuria (Gatundu South), Benjamin Washiali (Mumias East), Alice Wahome (Kandara), Jude Njomo (Kiambu Town), Kago wa Lydiah (Githunguri), Githua wa Macukuru (Kabete), Kimani Ichung'wa (Kikuyu), Wanjiku Kibe (Gatundu North) and Ng'ang'a King'ara (Ruiru).

Others were Francis Waititu (Juja) and former Thika town MP Alice Ng'ang'a who made her first public appearance since losing her seat to Mr Patrick Wainaina who is out of the country.

SHALL COMPLY

Prof Kindiki told off those accusing Jubilee leaders of subjectively criticising the Judiciary "since our words are based on the reasoning that informed the ruling".

"We respect the decision of the court and we shall comply with it but do not block us from voicing what we don't agree with. Don't try to cow us into silence," he said.

"Two judges agreed with what we are saying. If the judges themselves are saying the ruling was erroneous, baseless, illegal and unconstitutional, how then can you tell politicians not to speak?"

The senator faulted some opposition leaders he accused of introducing an ethnic angle to the Supreme Court ruling debate.

ATTACKING COMMUNITIES

"They should not tribalise this issue for the simple reason that one of the judges comes from a certain community. We are not attacking communities. If Kindiki does something wrong, don't blame Meru people, blame me," he said.

The leaders vowed to campaign vigorously and get more votes for Mr Kenyatta than what he received on August 8.

"We have never been this psyched up. They (Nasa) called us vifaranga vya kompyuta (computer-generated leaders) but we are telling them they will go nowhere. This time, the margin will be historic," Mr Wamatangi said.

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Ethiopia: Addis Abeba May Never House Its Dispossessed, Unsheltered Inner-City Dwellers

Photo: Addis Standard

Addis Abeba is full of houses that need to give way to better ones, but at whose cost?

analysisBy Samuel Bogale

On left side in the middle of the long stretch from Arat Kilo Square (otherwise known as 'Victory Square') down to Mesqel Square, lays the age-old Menilik II Palace (The residence of the prime minister) and one of the most protected and secured places in the country. On the other side of the same road, a large plot of land fenced with green and yellow corrugated iron lays idle. Covered by the fences is an area famously known as Fit Ber (Front Gate), where thousands of the city's poor lived for as long as 50 years. It is where Ephrem Ayele, (who requested his name to be changed for fear of "repercussions" from his Kebele administrators), lives with his wife and two of his kids in a combined plastic and corrugated iron makeshift 'house'.

Ephrme's 'house' is barely a hundred meters away opposite one of the many gates of Menilik II Palace, and on the other side, roughly two hundred meters away, is the country's luxuries five star hotel, Sheraton Addis. Previously, Ephrem and his neighbors lived in a poorly built and dilapidated mud houses which, by many standards, do not qualify for the name "house," and were demolished in mid 2000s as part of the city government's effort to clear the city off its slums.

"I was born and raised here [as do] all of my friends you see around. I am living in this makeshift house with my wife and my kids ever since the area was demolished," says Ephrem pointing at his 'house. "We had [a better] house before but many of us did not get a replacement after it was demolished for development projects." Hundreds of others who lived in the same area were relocated to different parts, mostly to the outskirts of the city. "We didn't want to take those options so we made these plastic shacks and continue to live here," Ephrem told Addis Standard.

Ephrem and his neighbors are not only forced to live in makeshift houses but also to sustain "the cruelty" of their Kebele administrators who "come and dismantle our plastic makeshift houses whenever they want to, or cover the area with corrugated iron fences whenever there is a high level meeting in the city or some international leaders visit the city," says Haqegna Birega, another resident of the area. "They don't put up the fences to make us feel secure, [but to cover the ugly site] and make it look acceptable for onlookers."

"Accumulation by dispossession"

In the years between 2009 and 2015, the Addis Abeba city administration has expropriated 392 hectares of land from inner-city dwellers in four different sub-cities: Arada, Lideta, Kirkos, and Addis Ketema, and demolished more than 23,151 dilapidated houses for 23 Urban Renewal Project sites, according to a newly released report by the UN-Habitat.

City authorities often argue that their efforts to upgrade slums in the city is primarily aimed at improving the living standards of poor people and the urban status of the city. It is, they insist, a necessary sacrifice. However, although the intention is not disputed by many, the process by which slums are demolished, the lack of adequate replacement and compensations has often come under criticisms both from the people affected, several researchers, and concerned urban planners.

"I don't buy the [narrative of] 'sacrifice for a better future', because the sacrifice is not equally paid by everyone. In practice it is not a 'sacrifice for a better future', it is rather a sacrifice for a better future of someone else," said one such Urban Planning Expert who requested to remain anonymous in an interview with Addis Standard. According to him, when the city's average household size of 4.3 (2007 population size divided by the total number of housing units) is multiplied by 23,151 demolished houses, it brings the number of city residents currently displaced to more than 100,000. It is a conservative estimate, and most of them are pushed out to the city's periphery which have "less or no access" to social facilities and job opportunities.

Our interviewee mentioned a recent development project in Kasanchis I site (the Radisson Blu Hotel area) as an example, where the people have paid "huge sacrifices" after relocating to areas which are "not easily accessible even by transport, and are far from schools, health and market facilities". The ones that have benefited from many development projects are the upscale developers, stared hotels and luxury apartments that mushroomed in that area. "[The people] have paid huge sacrifices but not for themselves or their children's future. It is impossible to give your child a better life while as parents your income is dwindling [due to lack of job opportunities] and at the same time living very far from the inner part of the city," our interviewee says. The sacrifices city authorities often mention as necessary are therefore not to bring about a "bright future" for the ones paying the sacrifices, but for the "very few resourceful and privileged people."

Over the course of the last 10 years, many studies conducted on the impact of inner-city redevelopment projects have found out that displacements have resulted in social disarticulation, increased the time of travel to the nearest social service facilities, lack of employment opportunities and homelessness, among others. "David Harvey, a well-known professor of anthropology and geography, calls this process 'Accumulation by Dispossession'", says our interviewee, adding, "The City Administration is dispossessing the poor inner-city residents so that the upscale developers could accumulate more wealth."

Are condominium alternatives at risk?

The Addis Abeba City Administration has built several condominium house project sites as alternate means of accommodating displaced peoples. The condominium housing projects built in Lideta, Yeka Abado, Basha Wolde Chilot, and Tulu Dimtu, for example, are but few that bear witness to that.

However recent moves by the city administration shows the government is increasingly vying to use redevelopment sites primarily for stared hotels, shopping malls, and luxury apartment projects than building affordable housing. The redevelopment sites of Kasanchis II (Denver Café area) and the African Union II (in front of AU) are but two examples.

In Addition to that, a few weeks ago the government has announced that it was planning to revise the current Urban Lease Proclamation to allocate land for five-star hotels, shopping malls and luxurious condominium developers without auctioning.

Our interviewee fears this will end up in "transferring the prime land at cheaper prices to the upscale developers after expropriating the properties of poor citizens by paying them meager compensations, or in the case of tenants of government-owned houses with no compensation."

But even before the city authorities' recent plan to change urban land provisions for upscale developers was announced, the massive condominium projects the city has been undertaking for several years is besieged by lack of finance, corruption, proper implementations and poor infrastructure designs.

In the backdrop of this is the grim estimate by many state-owned and private media organizations that going by the current pace, it will take several decades to house the thousands of inner-city dwellers registered to get a house. "Bear in mind that the number of people who demand affordable housing is not static," said our interviewee, "it will increase annually in response to migration and the new entrants to adulthood (18+)."

Perhaps cognizant of this grim reality, City Administration officials have recently unveiled yet another plan to facilitate cooperative housing programs. Speaking to state affiliated media organizations, Diriba Kuma, Mayor of Addis Abeba, said in September 2016 that, "to enable people to be owners of their own house, the government is setting out a plan to construct new houses for 20, 000 civil servants. Construction of the new houses is necessitated as far as [condominiums] alone cannot solve the housing conundrum."

A year later not only has the program started (it is awaiting for city administration cabinet members' approval), but there is no indication on whether or not it will address the demands of those already made homeless by previous projects.

Promises broken, slums kept

The latest report by the UN-Habitat estimates that 80% of Addis Abeba's population live in houses that do not qualify as such. Most of these houses are owned by private individuals and the government.

The city government had launched the much hyped Integrated Housing Development Program (IHDP) project in 2005, and promised to clear the inner-city slums and poor neighborhoods by building "up to 50, 000 houses per year". Accordingly, many of the city's notorious slum areas and poor neighborhoods, such as the ones in Fit Ber and Basdha Wode Chilot, were demolished at the speed of light, displacing thousands without proper replacement. But twelve years on, the City Administration of Addis Abeba is able to build just about 250,000 houses so far.

Still holding onto the promise of getting better housing facilitated by the city government, by the year 2013 more than 900,000 city dwellers were registered to get affordable and clean houses, and have started saving millions in the state owned Commercial Bank of Ethiopia. But, 12 years on, as city authorities faltered to deliver on their ambitious plans, many fear if they could ever get their savings back, and inner-city slums remained prominent features of the city. The promises are broken and the slums remained.

Biruk, 26, is another resident of the city living in a slum around Janmeda area, near the expansive French Embassy. He lives with his parents and two siblings. "We have to share communal toilet with around 50 of our neighbors. I have to go to some hotels to take shower twice or once in a week," Biruk told Addis Standard. By saving for a condominium house from his meager income, all he wanted to get was "a small house with access to clean toilet and shower, and live a simple life."

That is something his income wouldn't allow if he had to rent a house of his dream, small it is. "It would cost me more than I earn. I don't have any choice but to live here with my family and support myself and my family until we get [the house of our dream]."

Biruk's monthly income is 3,000 Ethiopian birr (About US$125). While millions of the city's poor consider such income as a better income already, Biruk is in no position to spend 30% of his income on housing alone, a conservative estimate per a given household one needs to spend to get decent housing, according to UN-Habitat.

The story of Biruk and thousands like him who are trapped in no-win no-lose poverty flies in the face of the government's major narrative that it is a champion of pro-poor polices.

No rain please! Not now, not again

Beyond the quantum of highlighting city authorities' failure, however, it is important to look at the immeasurable suffering of tens of thousands of inadequately sheltered city residents who simply do not have permanent incomes that could cover for their basic social needs such as food and access to health, let alone housing. This is also a section of the society where addiction to substances including drugs and alcohol among the youth is rampant, and where the women are more vulnerable to sexual abuses and other forms of exploitations.

But above all, the current rainy season, which is heavier than usual, has united all of them in their sufferings. A recent report by Addis Zemen, a government daily, revealed the partial extent of flooding in June this year that affected an entire neighborhood. According to Debela Biru, Addis Abeba Rivers and River Banks management bureau head, his office has identified 37 flood-prone areas within the city, of which 24 were given priority due to the severe nature of the damages expected this rainy season. But all the same the rain continues taking heavy toll on all.

The sight of rooftops loaded with rocks and other heavy materials to prevent them from either sinking by the weight of the water or flying by the power of the wind is a prominent appearance on thousands of houses in the inner-city. Inside, buckets serve to collect steady trickles of water from the roof, something Ephreme's family are accustomed to do.

Hopes are fading

Back in Fit Ber, Ephrem and his neighbors know all too well that their dreams of one day having a proper roof over their heads "may never come true". And a recent fresh attempt by city administration officials to demolish 3000 more houses located on 360 hectares of land in Yeka Sub City comes as just another reminder that theirs too will not last any longer than it already did.

But more than anything else, it was a cover page story on 01 March 2017 by the government daily Addis Zemen that delivered the ultimate shock: it estimated it will take the City Administration at least 55 years to fulfill the housing needs of those who are already registered and are saving money at the state owned commercial bank.

"I believe the government needs to facilitate housing provisions for the middle and high income people and take the [sole] responsibility of housing the poor and the homeless to itself. But what the government is doing [now] is the reverse; it is trying to build for the rich, who can pay the full price of 40/60 apartments upfront while efforts to house the poor, the homeless and the poorest of the poor have received less attention," said our Urban planner interviewee.

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ICYMI: Why Boko Haram will continue attacks – Osinbajo – The Punch

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Nigeria: Rights Group Asks Buhari to Seek Former Minister Alison-Madueke’s Arrest

Photo: Premium Times

Diezani Allison-Madueke (file photo).

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently "seek from the International Criminal Court an arrest warrant to bring Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke before the court on allegations of corruption against her, which the government should consider as crimes against humanity and serious enough for it to sanction her prosecution before the court."

The organization also urged the government to "pursue civil actions to ensure that all the funds allegedly stolen by her are fully recovered and duly accounted for."

In a statement dated 3 September 2017 and signed by SERAP deputy director Timothy Adewale the organization said that, "The allegations of corruption against Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke suggest the manifest failure of the government of former president Goodluck Jonathan to protect Nigerians from such heinous crimes. Your government now has the responsibility to take bold action to sufficiently redress this injustice committed against Nigerians, and the significant long-term damage for the country."

The organization said that, "By pursuing international warrant of arrest for Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke in order for her to be brought before the ICC, your government would be showing to Nigerians that it is indeed determined to match its stated commitment to combat grand corruption and its debilitating effects with concrete and bold action."

SERAP's request followed growing allegations of corruption against Mrs Alison-Madueke and the recent disclosure by the Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had recovered about half a trillion naira from her. Several court orders have also seized millions of dollars from bank accounts and forfeiture of several houses both in Nigeria and abroad linked to her.

The statement read in part: "SERAP believes that as important as it is, the recovery of alleged stolen public funds from Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke is far from adequate to redress the crimes against humanity that have been committed against Nigerians. The allegations of corruption clearly suggest the exploitation of Nigeria's natural resources to the detriment of its people, and are serious enough to meet the requirements of crimes against humanity, thus bringing her within the jurisdiction of the ICC."

"Pursuing this case before the ICC would also help to deter grand corruption and its devastating effects on Nigeria and contribute to the development of case-law in the field of corruption and citizens' socio-economic rights, and ultimately advance the right of Nigerians to restitution, compensation and guarantee of non-repetition. Such bold initiative would also improve public confidence in the fight against corruption."

"We also urge your government should urgently propose legislation that would characterise the kind of corruption allegedly committed by Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke as crime against humanity within our national laws, and thus allow Nigerian courts to directly hear those cases."

"In this case, the inhumane acts committed against Nigerians take the form of grand corruption, and taking away our commonwealth for her personal benefit, the corrupt acts apparently took place over an extended and critical period during the government of former president Goodluck Jonathan. Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke knew or ought to have known that such level of alleged corruption by her would cause or contribute to or aggravate the suffering of marginalized and vulnerable Nigerians, denying them access to the basic necessities of life."

"The fact that such enormous crimes could went on for such a long time without any form of redress is an affront to universal human rights of Nigerians to their natural wealth and resources. SERAP believes that causing unspeakable hardships or aggravating the suffering of large numbers of Nigerians ought to constitute an inhumane act of a nature amounting to a crime against humanity, for which the most appropriate forum of redress is the ICC."

"The allegations of corruption against Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke deeply shock the conscience of humanity. Stealing of public funds meant to ensure basic necessities such as water, shelter and medicines for Nigerians rises to the level of crimes against humanity, as this has compelled the citizens to live in inhumane or degrading conditions, in violation of customary international law and treaty obligations particularly the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court to which Nigeria is a state party."

"Article 7(2)(b) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court among others includes the intentional deprivation of access to food and medicine as crime against humanity. Under Article 30(2)(b), a person has intent in relation to a consequence, for example, where that person means to cause that consequence or is aware that it will occur in the ordinary course of events."

"Allegedly stealing such huge public funds from a developing country like Nigeria has not only drained Nigerians of their valuable commonwealth but also contributed to poverty, irregular electricity supply, bad roads, poor and inadequate health facilities, underdevelopment, conflicts, and insecurity."

"Primarily because of grand corruption under successive governments since the return of democracy in 1999, millions of Nigerians continue to live in extreme poverty, a condition manifested by the lack of clean water, malnutrition, high rates of child mortality and morbidity, low life expectancy, illiteracy, perception of hopelessness and social exclusion."

"Such basic necessities are those resources needed for individuals to maintain their physical and mental integrity. The resources may be material resources, services or access opportunities. SERAP believes that depriving individuals of basic necessities may cause physical or mental sufferings, material losses, physical or mental injury, or death."

"SERAP also notes the final report on the Question of Impunity of Perpetrators of Human Rights Violations by UN Special Rapporteur El Hadji Guiss which concluded that violations of economic, social and cultural rights could be declared international crimes that are consequently subject to the principles of universal jurisdiction and imprescriptibility."

"Similarly, Common Article 1 to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights stipulates an imperative prohibition against depriving a people of its own means of subsistence."

"The essence of crimes against humanity is a systematic policy or action of a certain scale and gravity directed against a civilian population. The expression 'attack directed against any civilian population' is defined as meaning 'a course of conduct involving the multiple commission of acts against any civilian population, pursuant to or in furtherance of a State or organizational policy to commit such attack."

"The term 'attack' is not limited to violent acts. SERAP believes it extends to grand corruption committed with the intent or knowledge that such enormous crime will subject a civilian population to inhumane conditions of existence or perpetuate such conditions."

"The ICC pre-trial chamber issues a warrant if it determines that the summary of evidence that the prosecutor presented establishes reasonable grounds to believe that the person named has committed a crime within the court's jurisdiction."

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Police’ summons to Misau is illegal – Lawyer – The Punch

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APC Cannot Give Nigerians Desired Change – Okoroji – Independent Newspapers Limited

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Governor Fayose in Sheik attire, joins Buhari, other Muslim faithful in Sallah prayers (photos) – NAIJ.COM

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Britain’s Priti Patel urges others to help Nigeria

Britain's Priti Patel urges others to help Nigeria

Image copyright Reuters Image caption UK International Development Secretary Priti Patel announced £200m aid to Nigeria over the next four years

Britain is to reduce the amount of money it is giving as humanitarian aid to Nigeria over the next few years.

The aid worth £200m ($258m) over the next four years is a 50% drop from the £100m it gave in 2017.

The money is aimed at helping north-eastern Nigeria recover from an eight-year insurgency by Boko Haram Islamist militants.

More than 1.5 million people are on the brink of famine in the area, aid agencies say.

The amount of aid given to Nigeria was increased this year to enable the country cope with the aftermath of the insurgency that prevented people from farming their land.

International Development Minister Priti Patel, however, said the Nigerian authorities needed to do more to defeat the extremists and to "secure the safety and well being of its own people".

She also said other donors should increase their assistance.

Africa Live: Updates on this and other stories 'We survived Boko Haram but face starvation' Who are Boko Haram?

On being asked if she was comfortable with a substantial cut in Britain's humanitarian aid, Ms Patel replied that she did not see it as a cut because she had just announced more money for Nigeria.

Ms Patel said the additional aid money was based on current humanitarian need. And that the situation would be "assessed constantly".

"My job isn't just to give aid and money... but also to get others to contribute as well."

Image copyright AFP Image caption Millions have been displaced due to Boko Haram attacks

She said that other countries and development partners needed to share the aid burden.

North-east Nigeria has been devastated by Boko Haram since 2009, with more than 20,000 people killed and 8.5 million people in need of urgent support, according to the UK Department for International Development.

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Lesotho: Lesotho’s Ex-Deputy PM ‘Flees to SA After Death Threats’ – Reports

Lesotho's former deputy prime minister Mothetjoa Metsing has reportedly fled the country after receiving death threats.

According to SABC, Metsing "feared for his life".

A BBC report said that he had fled to South Africa.

Tensions remained high in the mountain kingdom after the killing of Prime Minister Tom Thabane's estranged wife.

Thabane's estranged wife was shot dead two days before his inauguration in June. The motive behind the shooting still remained unknown.

The country's former defence minister Tseliso Mokhosi was also recently arrested over the killing of a policeman in 2016.

The police officer's body was found earlier this month.

The former minister had since been freed, SABC said.

News24

Lesotho

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Nigeria: What South-East Governors Discussed With Biafra Leader

Photo: Premium Times

Nnamdi Kanu.

By James Eze

The South-east governors on Wednesday said dialogue and not confrontation was the only panacea needed to solve the agitation by the Indigenous People Of Biafra, IPOB.

The governors had a meeting on Wednesday with the IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, at the Government House, Enugu.

The governors, it was gathered, told the IPOB leader during the meeting that the group's demands 'must not be absolute.'

The forum also promised to engage the entire leadership of IPOB in further dialogue to address their demands.

The meeting commenced at about 2 p.m. and ended by 4.30 p.m.

Mr. Kanu arrived Enugu Government House around 1.30 p.m. in the company of a constitutional lawyer, Ben Nwabueze, who is also the leader of Igbo Leaders of Thought, ILT, and Eliot Uko, deputy secretary of ILT.

The Chairman of the South-east Governors Forum and Governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi; Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi; and Anambra Deputy Governor, Nkem Okeke, were present at the meeting.

The Imo and Abia governors, Rochas Okorocha and Okezie Ikpeazu, were said to have travelled outside the county.

Mr. Umahi, who read the communiqué after the meeting, spoke on the outcome.

"The meeting agreed that these demands by IPOB should not be absolute, rather the South-east Governors shall immediately engage the leader of IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, and the entire leadership of IPOB to further meetings and dialogue with a view to quickening the resolutions of all issues amicably," Mr Umahi said briefly.

The meeting with the IPOB leader may not be unconnected with the recent move by the federal government to re-arrest him on alleged violations of his bail condition. Mr Kanu is currently on bail after being charged with alleged treasonable offences.

Mr. Kanu in a recent reaction dared the federal government to arrest him.

Kanu is currently agitating for a sovereign state of Biafra.

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Cameroon: Govt Drops ‘Terror’ Case Against Anglophone Activists

Photo: facebook

Some of the Anglophone leaders in court

Cameroon's president has ordered a military court to halt its trial of Anglophone leaders to ease tensions with the country's minority English-speaking areas. The activists faced a possible death sentence if convicted.

President Paul Biya has issued a decree dropping terror-related charges against Anglophone civil society leaders and several supporters who were jailed amid unrest months ago.

The leaders of the country's minority English-speaking communities - Felix Agbor Balla, Fontem Aforteka'a Neba and Paul Ayah Abine - were arrested late last year following demonstrations by English speakers calling for equal treatment in the majority French-speaking nation.

The men are expected to be released soon, according to one of their lawyers.

The men were being tried under anti-terrorism laws that were established to combat Islamist Boko Haram militants. They faced a possible death sentence if they had been convicted.

"This decision stems from the head of state's firm resolve to continuously explore ways and means to seeking a peaceful solution to crises," read a statement released by the secretary general of the presidency on Wednesday.

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The case stoked tensions in the country's English-speaking northwest and southwest regions, fueling opposition to Biya's government. The move to end the trial followed a growing wave of pressure from church officials, diplomats and an online campaign demanding their release.

Crackdown in Anglophone areas

Amnesty International has welcomed the government's decision to drop the case, but said the Anglophone leaders shouldn't have been arrested in the first place for helping organize non-violent protests last year.

The government's reaction to the unrest has been to crack down on Anglophone regions. Internet connections in the areas were cut for three months, and earlier this week authorities announced a ban on broadcasts from a South Africa-based channel SCBC.

The English-speaking minority can be traced back to Cameroon's unique history. At the end of World War II, the one-time German colony was handed to France and Britain to run.

Read more: After Namibia, could other former German colonies demand reparations?

During Cameroon's independence in the 1960s, the English-speaking voters opted to join Cameroon rather than neighboring Nigeria. The community has since said they've suffered discrimination.

rs/cmk (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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