Malawi – President Mutharika denies ill health reports

Al Jazeera

President says he is in “excellent health”, dismissing speculation of illness in first remarks after extended US trip.

Mutharika was elected in 2014 for a five-year term [File: Mabvuto Banda/Reuters]

Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika, 76, has dismissed rumours of ill health after being away from the country for a month, saying doctors told him his vital organs are like those of a 30-year-old.

Mutharika flew to New York in mid-September to give a speech at the UN General Assembly later that month, but there had been no sight of him until his return on Sunday, prompting widespread speculation that he was critically ill or even dead.

Speaking for the first time after his extended trip to the United States, Mutharika said on Friday he was in “excellent health”.

“I am not sick. I am still alive and I have more than nine lives,” he told reporters jokingly.

Malawi celebrates 50 years of independence

‘Nothing to worry’

Mutharika entered the press conference in the administrative capital Lilongwe waving both hands to an audience of media, cabinet ministers, supporters and diplomats.

Last Sunday, when he disembarked from his plane from the US, his right arm appeared stiff and he instead used his left arm to wave and to shake hands with officials, raising more speculation among Malawians who are scrutinising every detail for clues about his health.

He told the press conference he was unable to use his right hand then because of “slight rheumatism”.

“It’s getting better now. I am really fine and there is nothing to worry. I hope that puts to rest the rumours about my health,” he added to wild applause and dancing from supporters.

Mutharika said if he was sick, he would have been “crazy” to leave the US and fly home.

‘Absence without leave’

When Mutharika extended his stay in the US for two weeks after the UN gathering, his office condemned rumours that he was critically ill as “baseless, malicious and sickening”.

It threatened legal action against anyone responsible for “damaging rumour-mongering”.

Politicians in Malawi have called on Mutharika to disclose all expenses incurred on his tour, including those of his entourage, as well as explain what critics called his “absence without leave”.

But the president refused to discuss the money spent on his trip, saying he does not have to explain “every minute of what I am doing.”

Mutharika, a former lawyer, was elected in 2014 for a five-year term.

Source: Al Jazeera News And News Agencies

Cameroon – over 50 dead and hundreds injured in train accident


Fifty-three people were killed and nearly 300 injured on Friday when a packed passenger train travelling between Cameroon’s two largest cities derailed and overturned, the transportation minister said.

Speaking on state radio, Edgar Alain Mebe Ngo’o said the figures represented a provisional toll from the accident, which occurred near the train station in the town of Eseka, around 120 km (75 miles) west of Yaounde.

(Reporting by Anne-Mireille Nzouankeu; Writing by Joe Bavie; Editing by Larry King)

Nigeria – Niger Delta Avengers tell Buhari that the military option won’t work


Ovie Okpare, Warri

The Niger Delta Avengers has warned President Muhammadu Buhari that the threat to use military option to resolve the Niger Delta crisis will not work vowing to resist any form of ‘modern colonisation’ of the oil-rich region.

The militant group, in an open letter addressed to the President by its spokesman, Mudoch Agbinibo, on Thursday, condemned what it described as disparaging remarks by Buhari since its (Niger Delta Avengers’) strike force suspended hostilities and attacks on oil facilities in the region.

It described as unacceptable attempt by the Federal Government to engage in dialogue with the people of the region through the military and representatives of oil multinationals, noting that such motives remained undemocratic for a civilian government.

He said, “The High Command of the Niger Delta Avengers is constrained to write you, Mr. President, General Muhammadu Buhari, on your continuous disparaging remarks, since the cessation and suspension of hostilities by our fighters for the liberation of the Niger Delta from economic colonialism of Nigeria.

“We are curious of comments like: ‘Niger Delta militants’ objective is to colonise Nigeria economically’, ‘Niger Delta militants are sponsored by economic looters’, where you personally issued misleading statements and threats of decisive military action, if necessary, to deal with the Niger Delta agitation because you have purportedly opened up channels of talks through security agencies/agents and the multinational corporations.

“Mr. President, do democratically elected governments open channels for talks in situations like we have in the Niger Delta through security agencies/agents or you are assuming the Niger Delta as a conquered colony in your 1984 era?”

The group, which has since ordered cessation of hostilities to allow the Chief Edwin Clark-led Pan-Niger Delta Stakeholders commence dialogue with the Federal Government on its behalf, maintained that the people of the region remained resolute to control their resources.

The statement further said, “We are not in the trenches for the sake of arm struggle. The people of Niger Delta; our forefathers have always resisted the colonisation and exploitation of the land. Since antiquity, even without weapons against all forms of occupation by (the) army, as such we wonder how your desire for decisive military action is going to win this war in your four-year term to end our legitimate objective of controlling our resources for posterity.

“Mr. President, you continue to emphasise on the charade you called “the flag-off process to the cleanup of Ogoniland” as part of your government’s programmes to salvage the ravaged environment.  We are disturbed by the type of rhetoric and politics you are degenerating your age and authority (to) as President of (the) Federal Republic of Nigeria on issues concerning (the) Niger Delta since you came into office.

“You continue to live in pretence and blind to the history of the Niger Delta agitation because of some sycophants around (who are) advising you. As far as you are concerned, you are as white as the snow!”

While accusing the present administration of politicising the Ogoni cleanup exercise, the militant group said “basically, some other factors fuelling the Niger Delta conflict are corruption engendered by successive governments that you served since oil became the commonwealth of the nation.

“Whilst you start the Ogoni cleanup process; what is wrong in reviewing the Sir Henry Willink Commission Report (of) 1958? The Ogoni Bill of Rights, The Kaiama Declaration document of the Ijaw Youth Council, The General Alexander Ogomudia Committee Report, and The Leedum Mitee-led Niger Delta Technical Committee Report?”

Copyright PUNCH.      

South Africa – Zuma says he is not answerable to opposition parties over state capture report


Zuma ‘not answerable to EFF, UDM and Cope’

2016-10-22 09:22

Johannesburg – President Jacob Zuma says he will not respond to the EFF, UDM and Cope until the court grants the parties’ permission to oppose his application to interdict the release of the state capture report.

The three had joined the matter to oppose an urgent interdict filed by Co-operative governance Minister Des van Rooyen on October 14. However, that fell away on Friday when the minister filed a notice of withdrawal of his bid.

The three political parties will then write to the high court next week seeking to oppose Zuma’s application set to be argued on the November 1. The matter was initially put down for the October 18, but was postponed to allow all parties to file their papers so it could be argued together with the local government minister’s application.

In a late night affidavit served on the political parties’ legal representative, which News24 has seen, the president said he was advised that it’s not permissible for him to participate in the proceedings until such a time as he has been joined as a party.

“I have delivered an answering affidavit to the DA’s application for the intervention,” the president’s papers read.

He comprehensively dealt with basis of his objection to the DA’s application, he says in the papers.

The main opposition party had joined to oppose both Van Rooyen and Zuma’s interdicts.

Burkina Faso – pro-Compaore coup plot reportedly foiled


ousted Burkina Faso leader, Blaise CompaoreAFP Former President Compaore fled Burkina Faso in 2014 following a mass uprising against his rule

Burkina Faso has foiled a coup plot by forces loyal to ousted President Blaise Compaore, the interior minster says.

At least 10 of the plotters had been arrested, but the top suspects were still on the run, the minister said.

The coup was to have been staged on 8 October, with an attack on the presidential palace, he added.

Forces loyal to the ex-president staged a coup in September 2015, but surrendered a week later after protests and opposition from top generals.

French-educated banker Roch Marc Kabore was elected president in November, ending a turbulent period since Mr Compaore’s overthrow in a popular uprising in 2014.

The latest coup plotters had also planned to attack a prison to free those held over last year’s coup, Interior Minister Simon Compaore said at a press conference in the capital, Ouagadougou.

A man gestures as he stands in front of burning tyres on 19 September 2015 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso's capital.AFP Street protests followed the September 2015 coup

Gen Gilbert Diendere, the head of Blaise Comapore’s presidential guard, was detained for seizing power in September 2015.

He has been charged with 11 crimes including threatening state security, murder, collusion with foreign forces, voluntary assault and wilful destruction of property.

Blaise Compaore, no relation to the interior minister, is exiled in neighbouring Ivory Coast.

He was driven out of power by crowds opposed to his bid to change the constitution to extend his 27-year rule.

He was accused of committing widespread abuses during his rule.

DR Congo – security forces killed at least 48 anti-Kabila protestors


Congolese opposition supporters chant slogans during a march to press President Joseph Kabila to step down in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital Kinshasa, September 19, 2016. REUTERS/Kenny Katombe/File Photo
By Aaron Ross | KINSHASA

Congolese security services shot, burnt, beat and hacked to death at least 48 civilians and reportedly hired thugs to attack protests last month against the extension of President Joseph Kabila’s mandate, the United Nations said on Friday.

The death toll came from two days of violence in the capital Kinshasa and included four police officers killed by protesters and one other civilian. It was higher than during the 2011 electoral process, the U.N. Joint Human Rights Office in Congo (UNJHRO) said in a report.

Kabila’s chief diplomatic adviser Barnabe Kikaya Bin Karubi conceded errors by Democratic Republic of Congo’s police and armed forces but said that both were confronted by “looters and stealers and rapists”.

“The reaction was not commensurate to what can be considered acceptable by international standards for a police force,” he told Reuters. “But the fact of the matter is that these policemen and these army officers were in a position of self-defence.”

However, the interior minister denied last week that on-duty security forces opened fire on protesters, who authorities say were conducting an armed insurrection. A government report said 32 people, including three police officers, were killed by protesters or private security guards, or in accidents.

Congo’s main opposition alliance had called for a march on Sept. 19 to demand that Kabila, who has ruled the vast central African country since 2001, step down in December as required by constitutional term limits.

The governing coalition and other smaller parties agreed last week to postpone elections planned for November until April 2018, citing logistical woes registering millions of voters, but most major opposition parties rejected the accord.

Congo has never experienced a peaceful transition of power and international donors fear that the impasse over Kabila’s plans to stay on will lead to widespread bloodletting.

In total, UNJHRO said, there were at least 422 victims of human rights abuses by state agents in Kinshasa between Sept. 19 and 21. “This is clearly outrageous and serves to fuel an already explosive situation in the country,” U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said.

Of the civilians killed, 38 were shot by the police, army and presidential guard and seven were burnt to death by members of the presidential guard, including during an attack on the headquarters of the main opposition party, the report said.

Four police officers were burnt alive or beaten to death by protesters who also looted the headquarters of ruling coalition political parties, according to UNJHRO.

The death toll could be much higher due to the authorities’ restrictions on access to morgues and other facilities, it said.

UNJHRO also said it had received “concordant reports about the distribution by the authorities of machetes and money to about a hundred young men, with a view to disturbing the demonstration.”

The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor sent a delegation to Congo this week to urge restraint by all parties in the coming months and warned that human rights abuses could be prosecuted by the court.

Nigeria – EFCC opens fraud case against former air force chief

Premium Times

N22.8 billion fraud: EFCC opens case against ex-Nigeria Air Force chief

The prosecution on Thursday opened the trial of the alleged N22.8 billion fraud against a former Chief of Air Staff, Adesola Amosu, and 10 others in a Federal High Court, Lagos.

Mr. Amosun is charged alongside two other officers of the Air Force, AVM Jacob Adigun and Air Commodore Gbadebo Olugbenga.

Also charged were some companies: Delfina Oil and Gas Ltd, Mcallan Oil and Gas Ltd, Hebron Housing and Properties Company Ltd, Trapezites BDC, and Fonds and Pricey Ltd.

The accused are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) before Justice Mohammed Idris.

They were arraigned on June 26 and had pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The judge had granted them bail in the sum of N500 million each with two sureties each in like sum.

At the resumed proceedings, counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, called his first witness, Mojeed Olatunji, a compliance officer with Skye bank.

Mr. Olatunji told the court that the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) had an account numbered 1750013097 with Skye Bank.

He said the account had as its signatories as at January 28, 2014, Air Commodore J. Adigun, Air Commodore O. Gbadebo and Group Capt. B. Ifeobu

He said that Messrs Adigun, Gbadebo and Ifeobu were those who had the mandate on the account and on whose instruction monies were withdrawn.

Armed with the statement of the said NAF’s account with Skye Bank, Mr. Olatunji took the court through a number of inflow and outflow of cash transactions carried out on the account.

For example, he told the court how N2.4 billion was credited into the account on September 11, 2014 and how this was followed by a debit transaction of N959.7 million, N893.2 million and N556.3 million, respectively.

The witness said that the debit was in favour of the NAF Special Emergency Operation account.

Justice Idris further adjourned trial till October 21.

The charges against the accused border on conspiracy, stealing and money laundering.

In one of the counts, the accused were said to have indirectly converted N3.6 billion belonging to the Nigerian Air force to their own use.

In another instance, the EFCC alleged that Mr. Amosun and the others stole over N323 million from the accounts of the Nigerian Air Force between March 21, 2014 and March 12, 2015.

The commission said the alleged theft was for the purpose of purchasing for themselves a property situated at No.1, River Street, Wuse II, Abuja.

The alleged offences contravened Section18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012.