Category Archives: Africa – International

Nigeria – Patience Jonathan appeals to House of Representatives to protect her against EFCC

PunchPatience Jonathan writes Reps


Former Nigeria’s First Lady, Patience Jonathan 

John Ameh, Abuja

Wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Patience, on Wednesday sought the protection of the House of Representatives against alleged harassment by the operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

The former President’s wife laid a petition before the House in Abuja, complaining that her fundamental human rights were infringed upon by the anti-graft agency.

A Peoples Democratic Party member of the House from Delta State, Mr. Lovette Idisi, had submitted the petition on behalf of Jonathan’s wife.

However, he told members that the document was signed by youth groups from six ethnic groups in the country.

The youth groups were the Ijaw Youth Council; Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council; Ndokwa Youth Council; Arewa Consultative Forum; Yoruba Youth Council; and the Middle Belt Youth Council.

Idisi, while conveying the complaints of Mrs. Jonathan to the House, said under the Nigerian constitution, mere allegations did not amount to guilt until a proper conviction by a competent court of law.

He added, “This petition is in line with Section 36 where every citizen is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Mr. Speaker, the constant harassment of the former first lady is in a petition emanating from her that was sent to my office.

“With the leave of the House, I seek your permission to lay the petition before the House.”

The Speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, referred the petition to the House Committee on Public Petitions for hearing.

It is expected that the former President’ wife will come to the National Assembly when invited, to defend the petition.

The key issue raised by the groups on behalf of Jonathan was that the EFCC had frozen her accounts and those of some of her close associates on account of corruption allegations.

They noted that some of the affected individuals were not under investigation by the anti-graft agency, but the agency still froze their accounts.

Part of the document read, “A simple cost benefit analysis of the EFCC’s current approach would reveal that it is harming this government’s strategic interest far more than the brief publicity it gets from its current modus operandi…

“We are urging you to caution and rein in the EFCC to operate within the confines of its enabling laws, lest it becomes victim of the corrupting influence of absolute power.

Mrs. Jonathan and the EFCC have had a running battle of late over the $31m in some companies’ accounts frozen by the EFCC.

Jonathan is already in court over the matter.

South Africa – how Guptas laundered kickbacks millions

Huffington Post

Guptas ‘Laundered’ Kickback Millions — Here’s The Evidence

A year-long investigation points to an intricate system President Jacob Zuma’s friends, the Gupta family, allegedly used to extract bribes from companies doing business with a state institution.

08/12/2016

Evidence of millions flowing to a Gupta company has tied the family directly to an apparent racket of shaking down companies that sought state contracts.

For more than a year, amaBhungane has investigated how a letterbox company called Homix secreted away hundreds of millions; apparent kickbacks from companies doing business with Transnet, the state-owed transport operator.

There were signs all along that this had something to do with the Guptas. Homix’s self-proclaimed chief executive used to manage a Gupta company. Some of the money flowed to a Hong Kong firm that shared an address with a Gupta lieutenant’s companies.

Now, papers filed in the High Court in Johannesburg have provided direct evidence of Gupta involvement: after Homix was exposed, a seemingly round 10% of the first year’s fee on another big Transnet contract flowed to Gupta-owned TNA Media.

The amount, R17,1 million, was allegedly laundered through two companies on the strength of a backdated contract and bogus invoices before arriving at TNA, which publishes The New Age, court papers show.

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The latest evidence adds substance to the claim at the centre of the “state capture” debate: that the Guptas squeeze kickbacks from companies doing business with the state by using their political connections and officials they have deployed or bought.

We fully respect genuine media enquiries but will no longer reply to … amaBhungane.Gupta family

The Gupta family did not reply to questions this week, saying via a spokesperson: “AmaBhungane has consistently printed innuendo, speculation and lies about the Gupta family, its businesses and its friends. We have replied in good faith many times, but still suffer from total rubbish being printed. We fully respect genuine media enquiries but will no longer reply to … amaBhungane.”

Transnet denied wrongdoing, saying it was “confident in [our] processes”.

The emergence of Homix

The story so far starts in early 2014 when Homix made contact with telecoms provider Neotel. In a letter, it offered to land Neotel a Transnet IT equipment contract — in return for which it wanted 10% of the contract value.

Despite internal misgivings, Neotel paid Homix R35 million and landed the contract, worth over R300 million.

During August 2014, an even bigger prize came up. Transnet nominated Neotel as preferred bidder in a tender for a wide suite of network services, saying that it would get the contract if terms could be agreed by a December deadline.

With two weeks to go, Transnet withdrew from the negotiations without giving reasons, according to information from an investigation later ordered by Neotel’s board. In apparent desperation, Neotel reached out to Homix again.

A single person used to come in irregularly, generally after hours.

A Neotel employee told the board’s investigators that Homix again demanded 10%. Neotel bargained it down to 2% of the R1.8 billion contract value — R41 million including VAT.

Transnet returned to the negotiating table and Neotel got the contract.

There can be little doubt the payments were kickbacks. Homix was not a sophisticated consulting business whose work could justify millions in fees. When amaBhungane visited its Wierda Park, Centurion office address last year, we found a locked blue door abutting a latrine in a neglected office block.

amaBhungane

amaBhungane

A neighbour said a single person used to come in irregularly, generally after hours.

Homix’s only registered director, Yakub Bhikhu, was hard to trace. When someone claiming to be him finally answered a phone number stuck to the blue door, he did not respond to questions.

However, when the Neotel investigators started asking questions, one Ashok Narayan identified himself as Homix’s chief executive and tried unsuccessfully to convince them that the company had done real work for Neotel.

Narayan was a former managing director of Gupta IT company Sahara Systems.

amaBhungane

The Homix laundry

Homix bank records later seen by amaBhungane confirmed the impression that it was a front to launder kickbacks, not a legitimate business.

The records showed minimal office and no salary expenses. But they did show money flowing in and out of Homix at an astounding rate: R144 million in and R189 million out over just six months.

The inflows consisted largely of transfers from Neotel and four other companies, each of which benefited from Transnet contracts.

Almost all of the outflows went to Bapu Trading, a company more obscure even than Homix. There the trail went cold.

But a month later, in May 2015, Homix made 16 transfers totalling about R66 million to two Hong Kong companies, according to an official report seen by amaBhungane.

The Reserve Bank got suspicious, as the outflows did not match claimed imports. It froze the last three transfers at the end of that month.

One of the two Hong Kong companies on the receiving end, Morningstar International Trade, shares a registered address with companies formed by Gupta lieutenant Salim Essa.

“Confinement” is Transnet’s term for appointing a supplier without a competitive tender.

CCTV contracts

During this entire history, two more very large contracts came up at Transnet, this time to install CCTV cameras at ports. Again they went to Neotel, and again 10% appears to have been laundered.

But this time it ended discernably in a Gupta account. It went like this:

In May 2014, Transnet approved the confinement of the first CCTV contract, worth R329 million, to Neotel. “Confinement” is Transnet’s term for appointing a supplier without a competitive tender.

Nine months later, on February 20, 2015, Transnet management recommended confining a second CCTV contract to Neotel too, Transnet procurement records show.

The timing was interesting. The day before, Neotel records show, Neotel had signed a “business consultancy agreement” with Homix finally to give effect to its promise to pay Homix R41 million to get the unrelated Transnet network services contract.

Transnet notified Neotel that it had won the second CCTV contract, worth another R505 million over three years, at the end of March 2015, Neotel records show. Two weeks later Transnet formally placed the order with Neotel.

Neotel in turn subcontracted a CCTV specialist company, Technology and Procurement Holdings, better known as Techpro.

Homix exposed

If Neotel or Techpro had promised a kickback on this latest contract too, paying it via Homix would have been risky.

In mid-April 2015, when Transnet placed the CCTV order, Neotel’s auditors were crawling all over the earlier Homix payments. They blew the whistle to Neotel’s board, which commissioned an investigation that ultimately led to Neotel’s chief executive and chief financial officers resigning.

And the air was not about to clear. By the end of April, Neotel’s auditors had reported the Homix payments to the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors, which in time notified other authorities, including the Hawks.

By the end of May, the Reserve Bank had frozen Homix’s remittances to Hong Kong.

Wanted: a new kickback channel

So if a kickback could not be paid via Homix, then who?

The answer appears to lie in the dirty washing of financial advisory firm Regiments Capital, hung out to dry in rancorous litigation between its directors at the Johannesburg High Court.

On June 4, 2015, days after the Reserve Bank froze Homix’s transfers to Hong Kong, Wood received an email from Narayan — the former Gupta manager and self-identified Homix chief executive.

Directors Litha Nyhonyha and Niven Pillay on the one hand, and Eric Wood on the other, fell out after Wood sided with the Guptas and Essa when a Gupta offer to buy Regiments fell through.

Though Wood joined Essa in the competing Trillian Capital Partners this year, the two sides are still trying to have each other removed from Regiments’ board.

In an affidavit filed last month, Nyhonya describes, and attaches, evidence he says was discovered after Wood left.

What it shows is this:

On June 4, 2015, days after the Reserve Bank froze Homix’s transfers to Hong Kong, Wood received an email from Narayan — the former Gupta manager and self-identified Homix chief executive.

Narayan asked Wood to get Regiments to invoice Techpro, the Neotel CCTV subcontractor, for R17,1 million. Wood complied.

The next day Narayan emailed Wood again, attaching three invoices, also totaling R17,1 million, from TNA, the Gupta media company, to Regiments. The TNA invoices purported to be for Regiments advertising in The New Age.

Next, Narayan emailed Wood an agreement purporting to be between Regiments and Techpro. It was already signed by Techpro and backdated five months to January 2015.

The agreement provided justification, on paper at least, for the Techpro payments to Regiments, saying Regiments would do “cost analysis and financial modelling” for Techpro “in respect of the second phase of CCTV installation at Transnet”.

amaBhungane

‘Fictitious transactions’

Nyhonyha states in his affidavit that Regiments did not advertise in The New Age and that Regiments did not provide the claimed services to Techpro. Wood, he charged, “knowingly allowed Regiments to be used as a conduit for an entirely fictitious set of transactions” to launder money from Techpro to TNA.

Wood denies this, saying his version will be provided when he files a replying affidavit.

But Nyhonyha’s version is supported not only by the emails, invoices and backdated contract annexed to his affidavit, but also by a Regiments bank statement which shows the symmetrical flow of R17,1 million from Techpro to Regiments and Regiments to the Gupta company on two consecutive days.

When the R17,1 million washed up at TNA, it not only swelled the Guptas’ purse but gave the clearest indication yet that they were the true beneficiaries of the Homix kickback laundry.

The backdated contract, perhaps carelessly in retrospect, tied the R17.1 million payment to the second Transnet CCTV contract. The amount also ties back neatly back to it.

Neotel records show that it recognised R150 million in revenue immediately on getting the contract from Transnet.

R17,1 million — R15 million excluding VAT — is a round 10% of that first year’s revenue.

And so, when the R17,1 million washed up at TNA, it not only swelled the Guptas’ purse but gave the clearest indication yet they may have been the true beneficiaries of the Homix kickback laundry.

amaBhungane

Responses

Narayan and Essa did not respond to requests for comment.

Wood said via a spokesperson: “Suffice to say that all of the allegations made by his former partners are strenuously denied and will be comprehensively traversed in his answer to the court papers which his attorneys are presently preparing on his behalf and which will be filed in short order.

“It would be improper and possibly prejudicial to his case to answer your questions prior to the filing of his answer.”

He also said he “would advise that these matters” be left to an independent investigation led by Advocate Geoff Budlender, appointed by Trillian chair Tokyo Sexwale.

“As you can imagine it is quite a shock getting this kind of information and we’ve sent it to [our attorneys] to investigate further.”

Techpro manager Craig Smith said about the allegations contained in the court papers: “As you can imagine it is quite a shock getting this kind of information and we’ve sent it to [our attorneys] to investigate further.”

He added: “Whether the insinuations that you are making are true or not true I don’t know…. If there is wrongdoing we want to know about it.”

Neotel chair Kennedy Memani said that during the company’s initial investigation the board “took all the necessary steps on the basis of what came out”.

He said he did not want “to go back to that debate … unless anything else comes out”.

A Transnet spokesperson said the company was “confident in its processes… In addition, Transnet was advised by Neotel that an independent investigation commissioned by Neotel revealed no wrongdoing or corruption by Transnet or any of our executives”.

“Please note that Homix is not a Transnet supplier. All matters related to Homix should be directed to Neotel. Transnet has never engaged with Homix or its executives.”

He said the confinement of the CCTV contracts was justified by Transnet’s urgent need to replace outdated CCTV equipment to comply with international standards and not lose its status as a ports authority. Neotel was chosen as service provider as the existing infrastructure belonged to Neotel and “the need to integrate new and existing equipment and systems was crucial”.

The amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism, an independent non-profit, produced this story. Like it? Be an amaB supporter to help it do more. Sign up for its newsletter to get more.

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MORE: Gupta Gupta Money Laundering Evidence News

Ghana votes in close presidential race

BBC

Long queues as Ghanaians vote in tight presidential poll

There are long queues at polling stations in Ghana amid a tight election race between President John Mahama and veteran opposition leader Nana Akufo Addo.

All seven candidates have pledged to keep the process peaceful but an opposition supporter died when a rally tuned violent on Monday.

The campaign has been dominated by the faltering state of Ghana’s economy and the issue of corruption.

Results are expected within three days.

A run-off will be held later in the month if neither of the two main candidates secures more than 50% of the votes.


Casting my vote – Akwasi Sarpong, BBC Africa, Tema

sarpong

In Tema, where I’m registered, I found a queue of men and women waiting for voting to start. The first in one of the queues, Alfred Aggrey, told me he arrived five hours earlier. Many wanted to get on with their day’s business.

Loud noises of disapproval rung out when polling officers positioned the voting booths away from the crowd. People demanded that the booths be made to face them so they could see people going in to thumbprint only the assigned ballot papers and no other papers that they suspected could be smuggled in.

After a few minutes of shouting at the officers, their request was carried out to cheers of approval.


Voting in his northern home region of Bole, where he was mobbed by a cheering crowd, President Mahama said Ghana’s democracy had “matured” and this election would further consolidate it.

Asked about corruption, he told AFP news agency: “There is a general perception of corruption in all African countries. I think it is a stage of our development. As we continue to strengthen the institutions of state, I think that people will come to see the integrity in these institutions.”

mahama votesAFP/GETTY Casting his vote, Mr Mahama said he had no regrets over his first term in office
Akufo votesREUTERS  Akufo-Addo said Ghana had to maintain its democratic image

Casting his vote in Kibi in the south of Ghana, Mr Akufo-Addo said he hoped for an orderly election.

“It’s very important that this process goes off efficiently and smoothly and peacefully so that Ghana continues to maintain its deserved image of being a democracy that takes democracy seriously,” he said.

The candidates signed a pact last week vowing to follow electoral rules and keep the peace.

Many Ghanaians began queuing at polling stations overnight.

“I needed to register the strong feeling I have about this country with my thumb and the least I could do was to sacrifice sleep,” Comfort Laryea, a 78-year-old who had waited to vote since 04:00 in the capital, Accra, told the Reuters news agency.

For many, the economy is the main issue.

“We need change in Ghana because things are very difficult,” taxi driver Stephen Antwi Boasiako told the AP news agency. “This country has a lot of resources that can provide good jobs, but they’re not used.”

Police have told voters to go home after casting their votes, Joy FM reported.

Clashes near the border with Togo on Monday left one person dead and six in a critical condition.

Defeat for Mr Mahama of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) would make him the first incumbent to lose an election since Ghana returned to multi-party democracy.

He has been nicknamed “Mr Dumsor”, a local word that refers to the power cuts that have blighted the country during his term, but on the campaign trial has been trying to convince Ghanaians that he is delivering on his promise of creating more jobs.

Mr Akufo-Addo meanwhile has promised free high-school education and more factories, but his critics have questioned the viability of his ambitions.

The other four candidates include former first lady Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings of the National Democratic Party (NDP), whose husband Jerry John Rawlings initially took power in the 1979 coup.

She is the first woman to run for president in the West African country.


Head-to-head:

L: John Dramani Mahama, R: Nana Akufo-AddoImage copyrightAFP
Image captionJohn Mahama (L) wants a second term; Nana Akufo-Addo (R) hopes it will be third time lucky

NDC candidate: John Dramani Mahama, 58

  • Vice-president under President John Atta Mills, who died in 2012. Completed his term
  • Now seeking re-election after serving his first term of four years
  • Political pedigree: His father was first minister of state for the Northern region

NPP candidate: Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, 72

  • Campaigned for a return to multi-party democracy under military rule
  • A former justice and foreign minister in the NPP government from 2001 to 2007, he is running for president for a third time
  • Political pedigree: His father was a prominent politician who served as chief justice and ceremonial president

South Africa ICASA lays charges against SABC over non-reporting of protests

News24

2016-12-07 17:37

(File)

Cape Town – Icasa has laid criminal charges against the SABC for failing to adhere to a ruling it made regarding the withdrawal of its “protest policy”, MPs heard on Wednesday.

The broadcaster appeared to have reneged on its agreement to abide by the order to withdraw its decision not to air footage of violent protests, Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) representative Nomvuyiso Batyi told Parliament’s ad hoc committee looking into the SABC board.

On May 26, the broadcaster banned the airing of footage of violent protests on its television stations. Icasa held public hearings and, on July 11, instructed the SABC to reverse its decision.

Batyi said the SABC never provided any proof of its withdrawal of the policy, despite agreeing to abide by Icasa’s order on July 20.

“As you can imagine, the authority was faced with a dilemma, that here is an entity that advised it would abide by its decision,” she told MPs.

“But later on, we were informed the SABC has never actually canned any programming.”

She said they followed up with the attorneys of the eight SABC journalists, who were fired, and then rehired, for speaking out against the policy. The attorneys said none of them had received formal notification that the “protest policy” had been withdrawn.

“They responded and said a culture of censorship and fear continues in the SABC newsroom,” Batyi said.

Icasa approached the organisations which originally complained about the protest policy: the Save Our SABC coalition, the Freedom of Expression Institute, and Media Monitoring Africa. They were still collecting information in order to respond.

“Because the SABC has failed to comply with Section 17 of the Icasa Act, as of last week 29 November, we laid criminal charges against the SABC with the SAPS in Bramley.”

On July 20, the High Court in Pretoria interdicted the SABC from implementing its protest policy, following an application by the Helen Suzman Foundation.

 

Read more on:    icasa  |  sabc  |  media

Rebuilding Gambia post-Jammeh

IRIN

Last Friday, the unbelievable happened in Gambia: after 22 years of autocratic rule, Yahya Jammeh peacefully conceded defeat in a historic presidential election. By Monday, 19 political prisoners, including former opposition leader Ousainou Darboe, had been released from jail.

It has been a head-spinning few days for the nation as it breaks free from oppression to rebuild what the incoming coalition government, headed by Adama Barrow, has branded “New Gambia”.

The challenges ahead are daunting. Ensuring a safe transfer of power and reassuring the country that the new government has a strong reform plan are the immediate tasks.

But after more than two decades of misrule, Gambians are also impatient for change and the list of problems is long: a prostrate and undiversified economy, a high rate of outmigration, heavily politicised state institutions – including a military and a criminal justice system used to operating by fear.

Expectations are sky-high as so much already seems to have happened so quickly.

Coalition 2016, officially formed only one month before the election, swept to victory on Friday with 46 percent of the vote, to Jammeh’s 37 percent. Independent candidate Mama Kandeh trailed on 18 percent.

Soon after the announcement that Jammeh was to stand down, delivered by the reportedly trembling chair of the Independent Electoral Commission, Gambians began pouring onto the streets, shouting for joy and dancing as car horns wailed.

Jubilation

The jubilant scenes shared through social media were a collective release. “It was like we had been under a magician’s spell and the spell had just broken,” said Alieu Bah, a 24-year-old activist and writer.

“Twenty four hours earlier we were in the polar opposite situation. It was like a dream. No one saw this coming, even the most optimistic of people.”

Gambia celebrates
Steve Cockburn/Amnesty International
Gambia celebrates

The coalition’s popularity was no surprise. Its two weeks of electoral campaigning had culminated in youthful and energised crowds packing streets for several kilometres in the rallies held in the urban coastal areas. But nobody expected Jammeh, who had vowed that only God could remove him from power, to accept defeat without a fight.

“People were ready for change, but knowing the type of person Jammeh is, they did not believe that he would concede defeat without contesting the results,” said exiled journalist Alhagie Jobe, reporting from Dakar, Senegal. “Hopes were not high for a peaceful transfer of power.”

Gambians were bracing for the worst after Jammeh, without warning, imposed a total internet and telecommunications ban at 8pm on the eve of the election. “We thought there would be Ivory Coast-style electoral violence,” said Jobe, referring to a 2010-11 crisis that led to civilian massacres.

But the communications blackout ultimately failed to intimidate voters, and activists and journalists within the country published rolling results via SMS and on satellite phones, in a victory for transparency.

“Jammeh was not happy,” said Jobe, who had been tortured and imprisoned for 18 months by the regime. “He fought behind the scenes. He did all he could to hold on to power, but because there was such a strong atmosphere for change he knew he couldn’t stop it: the people had spoken.”

What next?

There are now great hopes – and pressures – on the coalition to deliver their promise of a New Gambia, especially among youths who voted for change in unprecedented numbers.

“Youths came out and voted in this election and their voices have been heard,” said Dakar-based rapper Jerreh Badjie.

Youth activist Mariama Saine said she hoped that once the new government took back all the industries owned by Jammeh, including farms and factories, there would be more employment opportunities that would provide an alternative to high-risk migration.

“Jammeh has monopolised any sector youths could fit into, now these will be areas the new government can develop for youths.”

For Bah, a new referendum should be held on the constitution to guarantee the secular nature of the country, introduce term limits, and guarantee human rights, and freedom of movement.

“Jammeh also needs to be held to account,” he said. “He should face justice through a fair trial.”

Jammeh concedes
Steve Cockburn/Amnesty International
Jammeh concedes in a phone call to Adama Barrow

Bintou Kamara, a Paris-based Gambian who founded an organisation to disseminate information about migration, said: “Now, there is a new window of hope for the entire population.

“Some migrants I have spoken to who are in a deplorable situation in Europe are thinking of going home. They will be empty-handed but they will be coming back to hope. There will be lots of returnees.”

Freedom of speech

The most immediate change for Gambians is the ability to speak freely. Over the weekend, the scenes from former businessman Barrow’s victory parade showed partying crowds and people tearing down and stamping on Jammeh’s paternally smiling election banners.

Bah, one of the few activists to criticise the government through social media while living in Gambia, told IRIN that before the election he could have been arrested at any time. “People really feared for my life, but I survived. This is what it means to triumph over a dictatorship. Gambia has become a beacon of hope. This is what we want to be remembered for.”

Photojournalist Alhagie Manka also needs no reminder of the brutal regime the country has just broken free from.

He was one of three journalists detained by the security forces at the start of the electoral campaign in a bid to intimidate the press and the electorate. “I was held for seven days, but they did not tell me why. They just kept asking me who I work for in the diaspora.”

Commenting on what the outcome means for him, Manka said: “I am overjoyed, knowing that I have witnessed history. We have been living in hell under Yahya Jammeh, and we thank God he is leaving now, and I hope he will leave in peace.”

Who’s in charge?

Behind the grins, people are understandably nervous about the transfer of power.

With Barrow’s inauguration not taking place until mid-January and a large military presence remaining on the streets, it’s clearly a highly sensitive security matter.

Human rights organisations Amnesty International and Article 19 have called for a “safe transfer of power”, but said they cannot comment further.

Sheriff Bojang, a Gambian journalist at West Africa Democracy Radio in Dakar, said there was still uncertainty about who is in charge of the military.

“It worries many people that the military hasn’t said anything so far to assure the population that there is no need for concern and that the country is safe and that the will of the people will continue to prevail,” he said.

President-elect Barrow is due to meet outgoing Jammeh at State House soon, and address the nation. In the meantime, the release on bail of Darboe and the 18 other political prisoners arrested during protests in April is a “positive step”, according to Amnesty International.

Fatoumatta Sandeng, whose father Solo Sandeng was allegedly tortured to death by the regime for protesting in April, told IRIN the new government is “a dream come true. It means freedom for the Sandeng family. It means justice.

“We are glad that my father didn’t die in vain, and his efforts – and that of all those who have contributed their part in making sure the Jammeh regime ends – have paid [off].”

lh/oa/ag

TOP PHOTO: Celebrating a historic election victory CR

Nigeria – Buhari says end of Boko Haram in sight

Premium Times

End of Boko Haram in sight, Buhari assures international community

President Muhammadu Buhari addressing World Leaders at the 71st General Assembly of United Nations in New York 7000/21/9/2016/ICE/HB/BJO/NAN

President Muhammadu Buhari addressing World Leaders at the 71st General Assembly of United Nations in New York 7000/21/9/2016/ICE/HB/BJO/NAN

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday in Dakar, Senegal, assured the international community that the end of Boko Haram terrorists was in sight.

The President gave the assurance at the meeting of a panel of heads of states at the 3rd Dakar International Forum on Peace and Security in Africa.

In a statement issued by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, on Tuesday in Abuja, the President also assured the international community that the security situation in Nigeria had improved significantly.

President Buhari noted with delight the increased cooperation between Nigeria and its neighbours in the fight against terrorism.

“About a month ago, I spoke with the President of Chad and I was pleased that a number of Chadians and Nigerians that were Boko Haram members are surrendering to him en-masse.

“The good news I have is that the end of the raining season has come in the North-Eastern region of Nigeria.

“Members of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) are in their respective positions and at an agreed time they will move simultaneously and spontaneously for us to see the end of Boko Haram.

“We are now operating in the Sambisa Forest and as far as Boko Haram is concerned in the Lake Chad Basin area, I think they are done for,’’ the President added.

While highlighting the gains of the cooperation among the Lake Chad Basin Commission countries comprising Chad, Niger, Cameroon, Benin Republic and Nigeria, Mr. Buhari told the gathering that “Boko Haram is no longer holding any territory or Local Government Area (LGA) in Nigeria.

“Those who live in the North East know that Boko Haram is no longer holding a single territory in the 774 LGAs in Nigeria.

“But they have a system of using IEDs and they indoctrinate mostly teenage girls and send them to soft targets, to churches, mosques and market places. That too is becoming very rear.

“I think Boko Haram shot themselves in the foot when they gave their ideology a religious connotation by killing children in their schools, people in the mosque and churches and shouting Allahu Akbar.’’

According to him, this is a major contradiction as no religion advocates hurting the innocent.

He said:“You can’t kill people and say Allahu Akbar. You either do not know what you are saying or you don’t believe it.”

The President stated that Nigeria was capable of surmounting its security challenges, and appealed to the international community to focus more attention on addressing piracy in the Gulf of Guinea and unemployment in Nigeria.

“In the southern part of the country, stolen Nigerian crude is being illegally transported through the Gulf of Guinea and installations offshore are being subverted.

“We also have the problem of unemployment in Nigeria. With a population of 180 million people of which 65 per cent are under the age of 35, young Nigerians are looking for any kind of job to survive.’’

He said that the present administration is addressing the problem of youth unemployment by turning to agriculture and solid minerals “because we are lucky to be blessed with arable land, water and resources.”

(NAN)

Gambia’s president-elect Adam Barrow talks to Al Jazeera

Al Jazeera

Adama Barrow, who won the election ending 22-year rule of President Yahya Jammeh, vows to introduce two-term limit.

News of Barrow's victory prompted thousands to take to the streets of Banjul in celebration [Dimitris Chantzaras/SOOC/Al Jazeera]
News of Barrow’s victory prompted thousands to take to the streets of Banjul in celebration [Dimitris Chantzaras/SOOC/Al Jazeera]

Yundum, Gambia – The Gambian opposition leader, Adama Barrow, has won the presidential election, ending the 22-year rule of President Yahya Jammeh in the West African country.

News of Barrow’s victory prompted thousands to take to the streets of the capital Banjul in celebration – some on foot while others rode in cars and trucks and on motorbikes – as confused soldiers looked on.

Following his victory, Al Jazeera caught up with Barrow for an interview. The transcript of the interview has been edited for clarity.

Al Jazeera: During your address to the nation and during the campaign, you pledged to carry out some electoral reforms, including a two-term limit for president. Can you elaborate?

Adama Barrow: We promised to do a lot of things, including electoral reforms. We will look at everything and avoid making any mistake to arrive at a final document. We want the democratic process to be very smooth in the future. We want a level playing field for every politician in the future, that is our goal.

Al Jazeera: What do you mean by a level playing field?

Adama Barrow: We need laws that will favour everybody.

Al Jazeera: You also talked about reforms in public service that is free from corruption and nepotism. How do you intend to go about it given that your two predecessors failed to do so?

Adama Barrow: Well, if they failed to do it that does not mean it cannot be done. Nobody thought we could change this government by the ballot box. But the mentality of the people, the social media, played a role in voter education.

We will educate the people to carry the reforms and guarantee job security. That will help people to continue working hard and make sure Gambia benefits from the civil service.

Al Jazeera: What are some of the civil services reforms that you want to pursue immediately?

Adama Barrow: The focus of our civil service reforms are job security and review of salaries. These are the main issues that we want to start immediately.

Al Jazeera: Do you want to increase the salary of the civil services staff?

Adama Barrow: We will look at it very critically, analyse it and calculate the inflation level, living standard of Gambians, and then measure the salaries.

 Barrow has vowed to create more jobs to win the ‘confidence’ the the country’s youth  [Dimitris Chantzaras/SOOC/Al Jazeera]

Agriculture: Gambia’s backbone

Al Jazeera: Agriculture was very high on your agenda during the campaign trail, how do you intend to boost the productivity of agriculture?

Adama Barrow: We don’t have minerals here. The backbone of this country is agriculture. Basically, you can say 75 percent [of the people] are involved in agriculture, but they need guidance, they need government to bring in policies that will guide the farmers in improving the farming sector.

In the past, the government made efforts in that aspect. Maybe there were shortcomings but they tried setting up farming centres all over the country that was helping every farmer to do very well. And I think we will improve on that.

Under President Yahya’s government, all those farming centres collapsed completely, and they no longer exist. Farmers were not able to get help from anywhere, nothing like that.

Al Jazeera: You also spoke about a focus on technology, energy production and mining. Can you shed more light on this?

Adama Barrow: Without energy there cannot be production, without energy it is very difficult for a nation to develop because we are in the 21st century now.

Every technology has to use energy so that is fundamental. If there is no energy, there is no work, everything stops. It is something that is very, very important.

We also plan to encourage mining to help develop this country. If we are lucky to mine anything that will contribute to the economy of this country.

Supporters of president-elect Adama Barrow celebrate his election victory in the capital Banjul [Dimitris Chantzaras/SOOC/Al Jazeera]

Mining and environmental protection

Al Jazeera: The current mining activities are based in the coastal areas. But coastal settlements are saying that these mining activities are threatening their environment. How will you strike a balance between mining and environmental protection?

Adama Barrow: You know when you are doing these things, you have to calculate all the aspects, but at the same time, part of what is generated from there should go back to the people, should protect the environment. When we get there, we will look at that.

Al Jazeera: You also talked about judicial reform, what exactly do you want to reform in the judiciary?

Adama Barrow: We want a free and independent judiciary whereby nobody can influence the judiciary. We will put laws in place to protect those people running the judiciary. They will have that job security, they will have that independence. We will reduce the powers of the president.

Al Jazeera: Youths played a very pivotal role in electing you into the office. What do you have in store for them?

Adama Barrow: We will not forget the youth. We will focus on job creation so that we can win their confidence.

We have lot of things that we can do in this country, even the fishing industry is under-exploited. We will exploit that area. We will encourage investors to go into manufacturing and other industries.

Manufacturing is a big market. When you produce, you can export. When you produce, you can create employment so we are looking into that. We are in the 21st century so we must produce, we cannot just be consuming without producing.

So with that I think that will give encouragement to the people and it will win the confidence of the people and will create jobs for the youth.

Source: Al Jazeera News