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)
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?”
The Federal Government of Nigeria has pledged to take care of the upkeep of the 21 Chibok girls released recently by the Boko Haram terror group.
President Muhammadu Buhari stated this when he hosted the girls and their parents on Wednesday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The 21 girls were released last week following negotiations between the sect and the Nigerian government. The International Red Cross and the Swiss Government played some mediatory roles in the negotiations.
“Aside from rescuing them, we are assuming the responsibility for their personal, educational and professional goals and ambitions in life. Obviously, it is not late for the girls to go back to school and continue the pursuit of their studies,” Mr. Buhari said on Wednesday.
The Girls were part of the 276 female students of Government Secondary School Chibok who were abducted by Boko Haram in their hostel on April 14, 2014.
A total of 57 of them were able to escape, leaving 219 in captivity.
One of the abducted girls, Amina Ali, was found in May 2016.
“And today we are here celebrating the freedom and return of another 21 girls that regained freedom on Thursday 13th October. We are equally as hopeful as we are praying, that the remaining girls will be freed and returned to us without further delay,” Mr. Buhari said.
The President also said the released girls will be given adequate and comprehensive medical, nutritional and psychological care and support.
“The Federal Government will rehabilitate them, and ensure that their reintegration back to the Society is done as quickly as possible,” he said.
Mr. Buhari described the girls’ freedom as a “happy moment for me and for all Nigerians.
“It is a moment your parents, the Nation and the International Community have been eagerly waiting for, since your abduction on 14th April 2014.”
Mr. Buhari said since his administration assumed office, it has been working towards the safe release of the girls.
“The Nigerian DSS, Military and other Security Agencies have spared no effort to secure our girls.
“These 21 girls are the manifestation of our doggedness and commitments to the release and return of the Chibok girls.
“While joining their parents to rejoice and praise the Almighty, we shall redouble efforts to ensure that we fulfill our pledge of bringing the remaining girls back home.
“Already, the credible first step has been taken and Government will sustain the effort until all the remaining girls return safely,” he said.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday restated his administration’s commitment at ensuring all the kidnapped Chibok girls are released.
The president stated this when he played host to 21 of the girls who were freed last week by the Boko Haram after over two years since they were abducted by the terror group.
Mr. Buhari, who indicated that about 197 of the Chibok girls could still be in Boko Haram’s custody, also congratulated the parents and family of the released girls.
Read the president’s full statement below:
My dear children. This is a happy moment for me and for all Nigerians. I welcome you back to freedom. It is a moment your parents, the nation and the International Community have been eagerly waiting for, since your abduction on April 14, 2014.
We must from the onset, thank Almighty God for this day that 21 of the Chibok girls have again breathed the air of freedom and are reunited with their parents. We are equally prayerful, that God in his infinite mercies and benevolence, will see to it that the girls remaining in captivity will be freed and returned to us soonest.
All Nigerians recall, sadly the night of 14th April 2014, 276 young female Nigerian students were abducted from the Government Secondary School in Chibok Borno State by the Boko Haram.
Fortunately, 57 of the kidnapped school girls were able to escape, leaving 219 in captivity. One of the abducted girls, Amina Ali was found in May 2016. And today we are here celebrating the freedom and return of another 21 girls that regained freedom on Thursday 13th October. We are equally as hopeful as we are praying, that the remaining girls will be freed and returned to us without further delay.
The release of these 21 girls followed a series of negotiations between Government and the Boko Haram group, brokered by our friends both local and International. Since this Administration assumed office, we have been working towards the safe release of the girls. The Nigerian DSS, military and other security agencies have spared no effort to secure our girls. These 21 girls are the manifestation of our doggedness and commitments to the release and return of the Chibok girls.
While joining their parents to rejoice and praise the Almighty, we shall redouble efforts to ensure that we fulfill our pledge of bringing the remaining girls back home. Already, the credible first step has been taken and Government will sustain the effort until all the remaining girls return safely
These 21 girls will be given adequate and comprehensive medical, nutritional and psychological care and support. The Federal Government will rehabilitate them, and ensure that their reintegration back to the society is done as quickly as possible.
Aside from rescuing them, we are assuming the responsibility for their personal, educational and professional goals and ambitions in life. Obviously, it is not late for the girls to go back to school and continue the pursuit of their studies.
These dear daughters of ours have seen the worst that the world has to offer. It is now time for them to experience the best that the world can do for them. The Government and all Nigerians must encourage them to achieve their desired ambitions.
The Federal Government appreciates the patience and understanding of the parents of all the abducted Chibok girls. We equally thank Nigerians and the International Community for their support and prayers, and for never losing confidence in our ability to secure the safe release of our girls.
Once again, I congratulate the 21 released girls, their parents, the Chibok Community the security agencies and all Nigerians on this day of delight and rejoicing.
DAKAR (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – U.N. human rights officials accused the Mauritanian government on Wednesday of stifling anti-slavery campaigners jailed for up to 15 years for their alleged role in protests against forced eviction in the capital.
The West African country jailed 13 members of the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement (IRA) in August for taking part in protests by residents of a slum in Nouakchott in June, many of whom were former slaves.
The activists said they were not present at the protests and that the trial was an attempt by the state to discredit the IRA.
“The government is hostile to civil society groups that criticise its policies, especially to groups like IRA, whose members are drawn from the Haratin minority and advocate for an end to slavery,” seven U.N. special rapporteurs said in a statement.
They said they were concerned the IRA had been targeted by the government because its members met Philip Alston, U.N. special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, during his visit to the country in May.
Mauritanian government officials were not immediately available to comment.
Mauritania was the last country in the world to abolish slavery in 1981. The Haratin, who make up the main “slave caste”, are descended from black African ethnic groups in the south, and often work as cattle herders and domestic servants.
Today some 43,000 people or at least one percent of the population live as slaves, according to the 2016 Global Slavery Index. Yet other estimates put the number as high as 20 percent.
The activists’ trial in August was marred by serious rights violations, the U.N. experts said, citing reports of torture in detention and irregularities during the court proceedings.
The jailed activists were moved last month from Nouakchott to a detention centre in northern Zouérate, where they have been cut off from their families, doctors and lawyers, the IRA said.
“This is yet another indication that these proceedings are politically motivated and intended to suffocate those that promote human rights and oppose government policies,” the U.N. officials said. “Anti-slavery activism cannot be a crime.”
The activists have appealed their sentence, with a date for an appeal to be set this week, the special rapporteurs said.
Biram Dah Abeid, head of the IRA, said last month that the state had intensified a crackdown on its activists in response to the growing anti-slavery movement in the country.
The jailing of two slave-owners in May and the release of Abeid and activist Brahim Bilal, who had been in prison for 18 months after being part of an anti-slavery march, were hailed as a turning point in the fight to end the practice.
But Anti-Slavery International called the August sentences a “devastating blow” to the country’s anti-slavery movement.
(Reporting By Kieran Guilbert, Additional Reporting by Nellie Peyton, Editing by Katie Nguyen. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit news.trust.org)