Saturday, 31 August 2013

Photonews: White House Brainstorming On Syria

Photo Credit: The White House

Videonews: Putin Urges US To Hold Off On Striking Syria

Videonews: Sunday Briefing By UN Chemical Weapons Team

News Report: "Madiba is Still In Hospital In Pretoria……” Says South Africa Presidency

Mandela
The Presidency of South Africa today issued a statement that the country’s first black President; Nelson Mandela, who also go by his clan name “Madiba”, is still in hospital in Pretoria, South Africa’s capital city where he has been for three months for treatment of lung infection.
The country’s presidency said in the statement that media reports that Mandela, who turned 95 recently, had been discharged were not true.

"Madiba is still in hospital in Pretoria, and remains in a critical but stable condition”, the statement said.

Friday, 30 August 2013

News Release: Ondo State Governorship Poll And Limits Of Media Noisemaking

Ondo State Governor And Supporters Celebrating Victory

The leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law wishes to celebrate with Governor Olusegun Mimiko, Government and People of Ondo State in Southwest Nigeria as well as other Nigerians and all true lovers of living democracy and the rule of law over the 29th of August, 2013 Supreme Court of Nigeria’s unanimous verdict affirming the election of the Governor of Ondo State, who was declared winner of the staggered governorship poll held on 20th of October, 2012. We congratulate all Nigerians for this historic verdict.

The result of the poll was declared on 21st  of October, 2012 with Governor Olusegun Mimiko polling two hundred & sixty thousand, one hundred & ninety nine (260, 199) live votes. The candidate of the PDP candidate, Barrister Olusola Oke secured a second position with one hundred & fifty five thousand, nine hundred & sixty one (155,961) votes while the defunct ACN ( APC) and its candidate, Barrister Rotimi Akeredolu came third with one hundred & forty three thousand, five hundred & twelve (143,512) votes.  Ondo State, according to INEC demographic data, has a registered voting population of one million, six hundred & thirty eight thousand, nine hundred & fifty (1, 638, 950); out of which, about 40.1 percent or six hundred & twenty four thousand, six hundred & fifty nine (624, 659) voted in the said election.

It is recalled that following the grand judicial precedent laid in Nigeria’s third republican democracy by Anambra State in the case of Dr. Chris Ngige/ INEC v Peter Obi (appellate court case of March 15, 2006), Dr. Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo, whose living electoral mandate was stolen on April 14, 2007 governorship poll in the State; got emboldened and approached the judiciary for the recovery of same. On 23rd of February, 2009, the Benin Division of  the Appellate Court , presided over by Hon. Justice Umaru Abdullahi answered his judicial prayers and returned him as the duly and truly elected governor of Ondo State. The grand judgment followed the earlier lower court judgment on 25th of July, 2008, which declared him winner. By the appellate verdict, Ondo State became the second beneficiary of the Anambra’s grand electoral judicial precedent, after the Governor, Government and People of Edo State, who got theirs on November 11, 2008.

The Governor Olusegun Mimiko’s smooth journey to judicial sanctification of his new electoral mandate started on May3, 2013, when the Ondo State Governorship Poll Tribunal confirmed his electoral declaration by the Independent National Electoral Commission.  The decision had arisen from the conduct of the poll on 20th of October, 2012. Governor Mimiko was declared winner of the poll on 21st of October, 2012. Following dissatisfaction expressed by the duo of PDP and defunct ACN-now APC and their candidates, the Akure Division of the Appeal Court on July 2, 2013 affirmed the lower court verdict. The rejection of the appellate verdict by the duo of PDP and ACN now called “APC” and their candidates led to the August 29, 2013 grand and unanimous judgment by the Supreme Court of Nigeria per Hon. Justices Sylvester Ngwuta and Mary Odili.

Lessons And Limits To Media Noisemaking:
The Ondo governorship poll and its sanctity is a clear indication that credible and conscientious electoral decisions by a people can never be corrupted by media noisemaking and intimidating resources mobilization drawn from meager public treasury. It was not only a shocker to the tribal ruling party in the Southwest zone, but it also sent a clear message to them to the effect that poisoned public perception using the media unduly and corruptly is a direct opposite of what obtains in polling centers under free and fair atmosphere.  Judging from the poisoned and corrupted public perception premised on media noisemaking, the tribal ruling party in the Southwest zone was predicted to win the poll on a landslide. But through the combination of towering performance index of Governor Mimiko known only to Ondo voters and independent electoral choice, the reverse became the case.

Judicially speaking, the absence of “Salami Magic” also dealt a fatal blow to the said tribal ruling party in the zone. Its media noisemaking following its abysmal performance and relegated third position in the important poll was cut to sizes, making it to shift to the media trial of the poll’s outcome with infantile threats to oust the living mandate using judicial salami magic, which has now disappeared from the hallowed temple of the Nigerian Judiciary.  It was on account of this that we stated clearly and irrevocably in our public information of 26th of October, 2012 that the Ondo State Governorship Election Results Are Beyond Judicial Revocation. Today, we have irrevocably been vindicated!

The latest apex court verdict on Ondo Governorship Poll should be an eye opener to all and sundry especially the Independent National Electoral Commission. This is because no court in the land can nullify the living electoral mandate derived from live votes. Also the credibility of the voters’ register makes judicial review of any conducted poll easy and its revocation difficult. The electoral review division of the Nigerian Judiciary will be sent on quiet holiday once the credibility of the voters’ register as well as the credible conduct  of its associated polls are traditionalized in Nigeria. Judges who lobby and bribe to be made electoral panel members and presiding officers will be shut out of such criminally lucrative ventures.

As INEC prepares for Anambra Governorship Poll, scheduled for 16th of November, 2013, the lessons from the forgoing are very importantly fundamental to the Commission. One of such lessons is the need to ensure that the Anambra version of the National Register of Voters is credibly cleaned and made legally and demographically grounded. To this effect, all “double registrants”,” dead voters” and “non-living object voters” must be deleted. Owing to monumental failure of the recently concluded “voter registration and revalidation” exercise, those who lost their voters’ cards, whose names and pictures are on the register should be allowed to vote. Similar treatment should be extended to those in the 53 missing polling centers said to be located in nine LGAs in Anambra State. Those of them with voters’ cards linked to the affected polling units should be allowed to cast their votes.

Signed:
Emeka Umeagbalasi, Chairman of the Board
08033601078, 08180103912
Comrade Justus Ijeoma, Head, Publicity Desk
08037114869

News Release: Nigeria Must Not Carry Out Further Executions Of Death Row Prisoners


Amnesty International and eight Nigerian civil society organizations call on authorities in Nigeria to immediately halt all plans to execute further death row inmates in the country, and to return to a moratorium on executions, with a view of abolishing the death penalty.

The organizations are deeply concerned that Thankgod Ebhos, who was nearly executed on 24 June 2013 when four other men were hanged at Benin City Prison in Edo state, is still at risk after unconfirmed reports that the authorities in Edo state are planning to request a court to change the method of his execution from firing squad to
hanging. The Edo state government gave a directive to Benin prison to transfer him to Kaduna state, where he was originally sentenced to death.

The organizations condemn the execution of Chima Ejiofor, Daniel Nsofor, Osarenmwinda Aiguokhan and Richard Igagu on 24 June 2013 without regard for due process and without giving prior notice to their families or lawyers. In addition, and also contrary to international standards on the use of the death penalty, the bodies of the four inmates executed have not been returned to the families for burial, or the location of their graves made known. Thankgod Ebhos only escaped execution because the prison authorities realized that his death sentence required a firing squad, after dragging him to the gallows.

According to information received by the organizations, prison officers fired tear gas into the cells of the death row inmates on 24 June because those to be executed were allegedly refusing to leave their cells. The small cells for death row inmates contained approximately six people. Deploying tear gas in enclosed areas can constitute a human rights violation. High levels of exposure to chemical irritants in buildings can be lethal or cause serious injuries. It is especially dangerous for those who have pre-existing or compromised health conditions.

There were also reports that the inmates executed were beaten by the prison officers before they were executed, and that no medical care was given. The prison authorities in Benin City have neither confirmed nor denied these allegations. Thankgod Ebhos’s son, Ebhodaghe Solomon, told Amnesty International that he only learned that his
father was going to be killed when a local newspaper carried the news of the executions. “They didn't call us. They didn't even ask him if there was anyone they could contact. They almost were going to kill him in secret” Solomon said.

The organizations are concerned that the authorities in Benin Prison may still execute Thankgod Ebhos and any of the 42 other death row inmates currently detained in the prison. In executing Chima Ejiofor, Daniel Nsofor, Osarenmwinda Aiguokhan and Richard Igagu, and almost executing Thankgod Ebhos, the Nigerian authorities disregarded the minimum international standards guaranteeing the protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty. These standards require, among other things, the right of convicted persons to appeal to a higher tribunal. The four executions were carried out only hours after a High Court in Benin City had dismissed a lawsuit against three of the execution warrants, although lawyers had immediately filed an appeal against this first instance judgment. A separate appeal, on behalf of the 840 inmates on death row in Nigeria in 2010, had been filed with the Court of Appeal in Lagos already in April 2012. Other appeals have also been filed, including one at the Court of Appeal Kaduna against the original judgment in Thankgod Ebhos’ case.

Under Nigerian and international law, executions may not be carried out while any appeals are still pending.

Thankgod Ebhos was tried and sentenced to death by a Robbery and Firearms tribunal in Kaduna in May 1995 - seven years after his arrest in April 1988. Serious concerns have been raised about the fairness of special tribunals set up in Nigeria during military rule. These tribunals at the time denied defendants, such as Thankgod, the right to a legal appeal. Of the over 1,000 people who were under sentence of death in Nigeria at the end of 2012, most have waited between five and 10 years to be tried, and some even more. Thankgod Ebhos has been on death row for 17 years, convicted of armed robbery. He had been accused of a car-jacking. According to the judgment the victim was very badly injured in the incident, but survived.

The undersigned organizations oppose the death penalty in all circumstances. The organizations are concerned that under international minimum standards for the use of the death penalty, Nigeria uses the death penalty in a way that is incompatible with its human rights obligations.

In recent weeks, many government officials have pointed to the fact that the death penalty in Nigeria is mandatory in cases of murder, armed robbery and certain cases of treason. However, mandatory death sentences are inconsistent with human rights because they do not allow any possibility of taking into account the defendant’s personal circumstances or the circumstances of the particular offence. In September 2012, the High Court of Lagos State declared that the mandatory imposition of the death penalty by hanging or firing squad was unconstitutional. Under Article 34(1) of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 all state authorities have to ensure that every individual is treated with respect for the dignity of his person, and that no person is subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment. The highest courts in Kenya, Malawi and Uganda have ruled the mandatory death penalty to be in violation of their national constitutions.
Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole and others have claimed that the death penalty has a deterrent effect on murder rates. But there is no convincing evidence that the death penalty has a particularly deterrent effect compared to other forms of punishment. The Attorney-Generals of Delta State and Edo State have recently noted that the existence of the death penalty in Nigeria has not in any way stopped or prevented people from committing criminal offences.

The 2004 National Study Group on Death Penalty and the 2007 Presidential commission on the Administration of Justice stressed that the Nigerian criminal justice system cannot guarantee a fair trial and called for a moratorium on the death penalty.


The undersigning organizations acknowledge the responsibility of states to protect the public, to ensure the proper administration of justice, and uphold the rule of law. Wherever sufficient admissible evidence is uncovered, those suspected of responsibility must be brought to justice in proceedings which meet international standards of fairness, and without recourse to the death penalty.

Stopping executions and doing away with the death penalty does not mean that criminals go unpunished. It is essential that human rights standards, including those related to fair trials, are respected in all stages of the criminal justice process. All punishments must be compatible with human rights.

As of 14 August 2013, 97 countries have abolished the death penalty for all crimes, and a total of 140 are abolitionist in law or practice. By resuming executions, Nigeria joined the small minority of only about 10% of countries in the world that still execute every year.

The global trend is mirrored in Africa where 37 of the 54 member states of the African Union are abolitionist in law or practice. Since 2000, Burundi, Cote d'Ivoire, Gabon, Senegal, Rwanda and Togo have abolished the death penalty for all crimes. In 2012, the government of Ghana accepted the recommendation of a Constitution Review Commission to abolish the death penalty in the new Constitution, and Benin became one of presently 77 states worldwide to have ratified the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty.

The undersigned organizations are calling on Nigeria to take specific steps to move towards abolition.

Both the federal and state governments should start by putting in place immediately an official moratorium on executions.

Signed:

Amnesty International
Avocats Sans Frontières (ASF-France)
Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD)
Human Rights Law Service (HURILAWS)
Human Rights Social Development and Environmental Foundation (HURSDEF)
Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP)
Nigerian Bar Association
Social Action/Social Development Integrated Centre
Social Justice Advocacy Initiative (SJAI)

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Photonews: The Shooters Of Syria

Photo Credit: Reuters

News Release: Six Years Of Impunity And Bad Governance In Abia State

A Street In Aba; Abia State

Civil Society activists and non state actors under the umbrella of Save Abia Now Group met at Freedom Park, along Park Road Aba, Abia State, on the 26th of August 2013 to take stock of major human rights and governance issues as they affect Abia State on the occasion of her 22nd Anniversary. The occasion also provided a platform for the group to articulate an independent alternative view and assessment of the development in the state and the much touted legacy Project of the present Administration.

The group after due considerations and resolutions of all facts came to the following conclusions:.

1. That Abia state has come a long way as state in Nigeria after its creation in 1991 by the
2.  Government of Gen. Ibrahim Babanigida.
3.That the state has had several military and civilian led government with the current occupier being Chief T.A.Orji (2007-till date)
4. That the state has produced many personalities that have served and serving the nation in various capacities and has made meaningful contributions to the socio-economic growth of the country.
5. That Abia state is also among the oil producing states of the Niger Delta as well as beneficiary of derivation accruing there from.
6.The group further stated that Abia State has two Major cities of Umuahia and Abia: the former being the capital city while the latter is the commercial nerve centre of the state and indeed south east of Nigeria, Despite the High federal Allocation and Internally Revenue accruing to the state it lends credence to the appalling lack of federal presence and infrastructures decay which signifies the failure of the PDP led Government in the State.

Save Abia Now Group held that in spite of the relative age of the state and resources available to it both material and financial she has been adjudged as one of the least developing state in terms of human capital development and infrastructure like debilitating states of roads at Aba and other parts of the state

The state with the high record of human rights violations in terms of social, economic and political rights typified by the sacking of non-indigenes from the state civil service, backlog of unpaid salaries of the civil servants, non payment of pensions and gratuities of retired senior citizens of the state.

The state with very high level of fiscal indiscipline and non-implementation of budgetary provision.

State with notorious use of the state apparatus in exploiting the already inflicted citizenry through illegal taxation especially the suffering Aba traders. A state known to have low tolerance for opposition and a high record of scuttling the freedom of information and independence of the media which is the beauty of Democracy

Save Abia Now state that the government in Abia has nothing to show for six years of its Administration, except a verbal report of the state brand of youth empowerment of Tri – cycles, the much touted Legacy Projects and avalange of electronic media footage in NTA and AIT, bill boards of works not done and Sponsored Advertisements in National Dailies with the Tax payers Money.

Save Abia Now of the opinion that any conclusions reached without objective assessments based on real appraisals of existing democratic structures that promotes and sustains popular participation, accountability, and good standard of living for the populace is dubious and criminal. The case of Abia State is a clear example. A state which has refused to domesticate FOI law, Fiscal Responsibility Law, Public Procurement law and other instruments that uphold human rights and respect for rule of law, siphoning of the SURE-P Funds meant for safety nets and Youth Empowerment, Lack of Job opportunities for teeming unemployed youths of the state, Diverting  of the local councils funds through the caretaker committees , non conduct of Local Government Election, disdain for civil society and opposition, Such Government can be scored high in good governance rating  by low rate personalities and sycophants’. Save Abia Now called on Abians to take their destiny in the hands by choosing wisely in the forth coming 2015 General Election and protect their votes to bring the desired change the state is clamouring for.

The Group further advised the Governor to immediately resign for his inability to perform the functions of his office in accordance with section 17 sub sections 3, and section 20 and 21 of the 1999 constitution as Amended or mass action.

Signed:

Barr. Slyvanus  Alex-Igwe -Chairman
Human Rights lawyer

ChineduNworie -Secretary
Save Abia Now

Special Report: Resource Dependence And Fiscal Effort In Sub-Saharan Africa


High natural resource prices in recent years have resulted in sizeable increases in fiscal revenue for many resource-exporting countries in sub-Saharan Africa. However, this revenue source is volatile, and arguably these countries should also rely on other forms of taxation to help fund public expenditure. This paper asks whether the availability of higher resource revenue in these countries has led to lower taxation effort of other revenue categories. The question is analyzed both in terms of the relationship between non-resource tax revenue and resource revenue, and between non-resource tax revenue and statutory tax rates. The paper finds evidence suggesting that non resource revenue is negatively influenced by a higher resource revenue-to-GDP ratio. The lower take up of non resource taxes in resource-rich countries is correlated with higher levels of corruption in these countries, suggesting weaker institutions affect non resource revenue through incentives for tax evasion and/or large tax exemptions as argued in the literature.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Speech: “I have A Dream” By Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. Delivering The Speech 
I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquillizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquillity in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvellous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.
We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: "For Whites Only." We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until "justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."¹

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest -- quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.
And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day -- this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.
Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride,
From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.
Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.
Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that:
Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!3


Videonews: August 28th In History; King Gave "I have A Dream" Speech

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

News Release: AU Peace And Security Council Statement On Somalia


The Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU), at its 392nd meeting held on 26 August 2013, was briefed by the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the Commission, Head of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), on the situation in Somalia and the operations of AMISOM on the ground. Council also followed the statements made by the representative of the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS), as well as by those of the Republic of Kenya, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development(IGAD), the European Union (EU),the League of Arab States, the United Nations (UN), through its Special Representative for Somalia, France, United Kingdom, United States of America and Rwanda, in their capacity as members of the UN Security Council, and the Chair of the IGAD Partner Forum(IPF).

Council recalled that, over the past two years, tremendous progress has been made in the peace and reconciliation processin Somalia, as demonstrated by the security gains recorded on the ground and the successful conclusion of the Transition and the establishment of a new political dispensation. Council, once again, commended the Somali stakeholders for these achievements.

Council reiterated the primary responsibility of the Somali stakeholders in achieving lasting peace and reconciliation in their country. Council called on them to demonstrate selfless leadership and commitment to the higher interest of their country, stressing that no amount of external assistance can substitute Somali‐led efforts. In this respect, Council underlined the importance of inclusive dialogue among the Somali stakeholders and sustained efforts towards National reconciliation, asthe only way to sustain the remarkable achievements made, at great sacrifices, by the Somali National Security Forces(SNSF) and AMISOM and fulfill the aspirations of the people of Somalia for a country at peace with itself and with its neighbors.

Council welcomed the on‐going discussions, in Addis Ababa, under the auspices of the IGAD Chair, Ethiopia, between the FGS and Juba region stakeholders, and commended the Facilitator, the Ethiopian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Tedros Adhanom, for his sustained efforts. Council stressed the imperative for the Parties to extend full cooperation to IGAD and show the required flexibility and spirit of compromise, in order to expeditiously reach an agreement. Council requested the IGAD Facilitator to keep it constantly informed of the evolution of the discussions, in order to enable it take decisions on the matter, as appropriate. Council encouraged the convening of the larger reconciliation conference in Mogadishu, as agreed upon at the 22nd extraordinary session of the IGADAssembly of Heads of State and Government held in Addis Ababa, on 24 May 2013.

Council expressed grave concern about the deteriorating security situation in some parts of Somalia. Council condemned the recent Al‐Shabaab terrorist activities that have resulted in the loss of innocent civilian lives and destruction of property. Against this background, and bearing in mind the operational limitsfacing AMISOM and the SNSF, Council reiterated the need and urgency to mobilize further support, for both the Mission and the SNSF, to enable themPSC/PR/BR.2(CCCXCII) undertake further expansion operations as envisaged in the AU‐UN Strategic Concept for future operations in Somalia. In this regard, Council, as indicated in paragraph 11 of communiqué PSC/PR/COMM(CCCLXXIX), adopted at its 79th meeting, held on 13 June 2013, looks forward to the benchmarking exercise that will be undertaken by the UN Secretariat and the AU Commission in the context of paragraph 19 of UN Security Council resolution 2093 (2013).

Council expressed the hope that the exercise would result into concrete and action‐oriented recommendations for the enhancement of the capacity of AMISOM and the SNSF, in particular with regard to force enablers and multipliers, to create conditions that would make it possible to deploy, in due course, a UN operation to support the long‐term stabilization and reconstruction of Somalia.

Council, having emphasized, once again, the need for a coordinated action of the international community and renewed efforts to consolidate the gains made so far, welcomed the planned convening in Brussels, on 16 September 2013, of a High‐Level Conference on A New Deal for Somalia, co‐hosted by Somalia and the EU, with the underlying objective to sustain the positive momentum in Somalia, to ensure that the country stays on the path to stability and peace, and brings prosperity to its people.

Council commended, once again, AMISOM for its outstanding contribution to the improvement of the security situation in Somalia, the stabilization of the country and furtherance of the reconciliation process. Council reiterated its appreciation to AMISOM troop and police contributing countries– TCCs and PCCs (Burundi, Djibouti, Kenya and Uganda, Nigeria and the countries providing individual police officers), as well asto Ethiopia, for their commitment and sacrifices. Council welcomed the convening of the Kampala Summit of 4 August 2013, which brought together the TCCs and PCCs, Ethiopia and Somalia. Council also reiterated its appreciation to IGAD for its continued and active contribution to the quest of peace and reconciliation in Somalia. Council, once more, expressed AU’s gratitude to the EU and its Member States, the UN and bilateral partners, notably the United Kingdom and the United States, for their invaluable contribution to the peace and reconciliation efforts in Somalia.

Council reaffirmed the AU’s full support to Somalia and its people, emphasizing its commitment to continue to support the stabilization and reconstruction efforts, including the implementation  of the Government’s Six‐Pillar Strategy.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Speech: The slave Trade Is Not Merely A Thing Of The Past

Ms Irina Bokova

(Being Speech By Irina Bokova; Director-General Of UNESCO On The Occasion Of International Day For The Remembrance Of The Slave Trade And Its Abolition On August 23rd, 2013)

On 23 August, which marks the anniversary of the slave uprising in Saint Domingue, UNESCO celebrates the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition.

Transmission of this history is the cornerstone of UNESCO’s efforts to build peace, intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding. The slave trade reduced millions of human beings to mere chattels and was a crime of universal scope that shook the very foundations of civilization. The significance and implications of this history must be known to all and must be taught in and outside schools, through the media and in the public arena. UNESCO is committed to achieving this through teacher training, support for research and the protection of cultural and documentary heritage.

Under the Slave Route Project, UNESCO aims to reveal the extent and consequences of this human tragedy and to portray the wealth of the cultural traditions that African peoples have forged in the face of adversity – in art, music, dance and culture in its broader sense. This year, on the eve of the twentieth  anniversary of the Slave Route Project, I designated as a UNESCO Artist for Peace Mr Marcus Miller, who will undertake the mission of promoting the UNESCO Slave Route Project and conveying its message of respect through music. These endeavours will contribute to efforts for the Decade for People of African Descent (2013-2022), proclaimed by the United Nations in 2012.

The slave trade is not merely a thing of the past: it is our history and it has shaped the face of many modern societies, creating indissoluble ties between peoples and continents, and irreversibly transforming the destiny, economy and culture of nations. Studying this history is tantamount to paying tribute to freedom fighters and to acknowledging their unique contributions to the affirmation of universal human rights. They have set an example for us to continue the struggle for freedom, against racial prejudice inherited from the past and against new forms of slavery that subsist to this day and affect some 21 million people.

Today, I invite all governments, civil society organizations and public and private partners to redouble their efforts to transmit this history. May it be a source of respect and a universal call for freedom for future generations.

Ms Irina Bokova,

Director-General of UNESCO,

Sunday, 25 August 2013

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Friday, 23 August 2013

Opinion: Imo State Deputy Governor And The Gay Story (Part 2)

Madumere; Imo State Deputy Governor

By Barr. Emperor N. Iwuala (Ksc.)

Recently, I wrote an article on the media hype and rumours which have been making the rounds for some time now concerning an alleged involvement of the Imo State Deputy Governor His Excellency Prince Eze Madumere and others in homosexual practices. I also narrated how one Sandra Duru claims that she witnessed an alleged romp between her estranged husband who was a former Transition Committee Chairman for Njaba L.G.A. of Imo State Mr. Uchenna Rajis and Prince Madumere. In the write-up, I tried to draw the attention of the personalities involved to the allegations which I said, were very weighty and not good for their image. Consequently, I advised against the danger of keeping mute over the story.

Recently, I read an article which an acclaimed Chief Press Secretary to the Deputy Governor by name Uche Onwuchekwa wrote and syndicated to some media houses titled ‘Emperor Iwuala and Journalism of Stomach’. In the write-up, Mr. Onwuchekwa told the whole world that I used my article to extort money from people. He also blamed media houses that publish my stories casting negative aspersions on them. In synopsis, the entire article has a lot of disparaging and unprinted remarks about my style of writing.

Anybody who has been following my write-ups can confirm that I have a unique way of writing. I write on well researched facts and issues which are cogent and verifiable. On the contrary, I do not attack persons in my write-ups. Also I do not get involve in falsehood and blackmail and that is why a lot of people avoid joining issues with me in the media. The best people have succeeded in doing is attacking my person and not the issues I write on. This is because most of my facts are cogent and sacred.

Recently, some ignorant pessimists and hack writers, while trying to defend the rot in the Imo State Judiciary, came to the media to attack me over my exposition of what has been going on in that arm of government. They also tried to justify the illegal appointment of magistrates and the disobedience of court judgment ordering for the re-instatement of the sacked members of the Imo State Judicial Service Commission. Respectfully, I am today justified as the Nigerian Bar Association Owerri Branch who is a major stakeholder in the Imo Judiciary, has associated with my position over on the said rot by declaring the said appointment of new magistrates in the state illegal calling for its nullification.

In another development, sometime ago, I saw a picture published on the back page of a newspaper where the present Imo Deputy Governor was allegedly spreading notes suspected to be naira notes. I drew the attention of Mr. Onwuchekwa who claims to be the media aide to the Imo Deputy Governor. He admitted that he sent the picture to the media. However, I told him how unprofessional it was for him to send such a picture to the media for publication. Regrettably, instead of Mr. Onwuchekwa to appreciate the gravity of his professional blunder and see how best to protect the Deputy Governor’s image, he has been writing malicious and false publications against me.

Be that as it may, I am not good at wasting time discussing persons. But I wish to tell Onwuchekwa that sending a picture where his boss was spreading money to the media goes to tell much on his competence as somebody’s image maker.

In the same vein, I view it as a gross negligence on Onwuchekwa’s part to have also allowed the controversial gay story against his supposed boss to gain grounds without a strong rejoinder from him.

In his above mentioned article against me, this acclaimed media aide to my surprise, also failed to put up a strong defence for the Deputy Governor viz-a-viz the gay accusation. He only wasted his time, trying to disparage my ‘less-important person’.

Nevertheless, few days ago, the Deputy Governor called me on phone. When I picked his call, I was expecting him to speak strongly to me in anger because of the anxiety surrounding the gay story as many typical Nigerian politicians would do. But to my surprise, I heard the voice of humility and subtleness. With a voice full of emotions, the Deputy Governor gave me a different version to the whole gay story. To my greatest surprise, he told me that he had not set his eyes on the said Sandra Duru before. He also said that he was not in any way close to the man he was accused of having gay act with saying that he only knew him as a former Transition Chairman in Imo State. He completely denied the whole allegation of being involved in homosexuality strongly terming it as false and cheap blackmail.

From the tone of the Deputy Governor’s voice, I strongly suspect that an innocent man is likely being unjustly taken to the cleaners especially. However, I believe the story was badly managed by his image makers.

Nevertheless, it is good that we have now heard from the horse’s mouth. This is what the public has been expecting for long. Therefore, there may now be a sigh of relief in the minds of many as this saga has come to a final bus stop.

To God be the glory.

(Iwuala can be reached on: 08037247295)


Opinion: What A Church?


By Amita Jones

There is a Church on the Spintex road that has no sign posts or billboards. In fact, it does not have any directional sign indicating its location and yet people start arriving for Sunday service by 2am.

This is not about crusade or any special programme but usual Sunday service. When you report for service after 5am, you will not get a seat in the Church's premises but sit outside under the canopy. Amazing thing is that, people are able to sit through the service for more than 10 hours.

Guess which church I am talking about. This is T.B. Joshua's Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN).

If I were to witness the above scene some ten years ago, I would have maintained that majority of Christians in Ghana, if not all are gullible because that is totally illogical and no amount of explanation could have convinced me. What on earth could make a person wake up such early from the comfort of one's house to go and queue as early as 2am for a church service when there are other churches around?

I would have wondered why some Christians were so lazy that now they don't even want to read the Bible but wanted fast ways to solve their problems. I have personally never sat in a church service for more than 4 hours. I call that 'time-wasting' and 'unproductive hours' at Church.

That really used to be my mentality some ten years ago until recently when I joined this group of 'gullible' Christians at SCOAN. May be, I am now more gullible than those who are at SCOAN in my bid to dig further to find out whether T.B. Joshua is a real man of God or not. I will not hesitate to say I used to doubt much of the miracles God used this man to perform but what really attracted me to search further was the campaign of calumny launched against him by other respectable men of God.

In my usual logical approach to issues, I do not just take what people say but do seek for more information independently before I draw conclusion. After I had done enough readings about SCOAN, I finally visited the Ghana branch. What happened there was beyond man's imagination and beat my logical reasoning to occurrences.

I thought people were pretending until it happened to my wife. She made serious confessions we hadn't spoken to anybody about and even revealed spiritual issues we are not aware of. This happened after the so called 'anointing' water was administered on her. I was wondering what kind of water that was. Water that could make people say a lot of things. Why didn't that water move me too but only my wife?

I became more curious and decided to travel to Nigeria with my wife to SCOAN headquarters where T.B. Joshua himself resides. We were booked into a hotel closer to the headquarters of SCOAN, where we learnt T.B. Joshua and his assistants (Wise men) reside. In the hotel, I went round looking for secret cameras or recorders that could eavesdrop on conversations for T.B. Joshua to use as prophecies, as I thought then. Having worked as a journalist for more than five years, at least I could locate strategic positions for such items and identify them. I was so suspicious to the extent that I was able to identify all the covert security guards who worked around the hotel and their movement.

I had the opportunity of entering the auditorium before the usual Sunday service. I saw visitors coming to pray in front of the altar and I went further to touch and look around for possible gadgets that could record their prayers which I suspected might be used as prophecies by T.B. Joshua and the 'Wise men'. I didn't see anything like that.

During the Sunday service, instead of concentrating on the activities and playing active role, all I did was to monitor the movements and actions of T.B. Joshua and the 'Wise men'. Things beyond my logical reasoning happened. For the first time in my life, just by a touch, I fell down, not once but several times. The more attempts I make to resist the touch of the 'Wise men' the more I'm floored. Logical reasoning had come to an end!

No wonder the rich, the poor, intellectuals, school-drop outs, politicians, army officers, police officers, fraudster, ordinary Ghanaians and other nationals report for service at the Ghana branch of SCOAN as early as 2am