Thursday, September 17, 2015

Burkina Coup: General Gilbert Diendéré now leader

Afp Gilbert Diendere Burkina Faso 2015 Coup Leader
General Gilbert Diendéré

Burkina Faso's Presidential Security Regiment declared a coup Thursday a day after seizing the interim president. Coup members later declared General Gilbert Diendéré the new leader until "inclusive and peaceful" elections can be held.

In a statement, the military unit also announced the closure of the West African nation's borders as well as the implementation of an overnight curfew.

Coup spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Mamadou Bamba spoke on national television to announce that "wide-ranging talks" were being held to form a new government leading to "inclusive and peaceful elections".

He added that the coup had put an end to “the deviant regime of transition” in the West African state.

Presidential guard members linked to ex-leader Blaise Compaoré had burst into a cabinet meeting on Wednesday and seized acting President Michel Kafando, Prime Minister Isaac Zida and two ministers.

Zida was himself once an officer in Compaore's powerful Presidential Security Regiment (RSP), before he toppled his boss after days of street protests in October 2014.

Shots could still be heard Thursday in the capital Ouagadougou after the arrest of the nation's transitional leaders triggered immediate street protests outside the presidential palace where they were reportedly being held.

Revolution Square – the epicentre of protests against Compaore – was empty apart from military patrols, with the streets of the capital also deserted.

International condemnation

Interim parliament speaker Moumina Cheriff Sy denounced what he said was a "coup d'Etat", and in an interview with Radio France Internationale (RFI) radio Thursday called on the people to "immediately rise up".

Sy called the detention of the president and prime minister "a serious attack on the republic".

International condemnation was swift, with the United Nations Security Council and the European Union, one of the main donors to the poverty-stricken country, demanding the immediate release of the country's transitional leaders, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressing his outrage.

President Francois Hollande of France – the former colonial power – joined the chorus of disapproval, calling for political order "to be restored".

In a joint statement, the United Nations, the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) demanded "the immediate and unconditional release of the hostages".

Protesters marching on the presidential palace on Wednesday evening were met with bursts of gunfire, with shooting also heard around the complex Thursday.

Crowds of several hundred shouting "Down with the RSP" gathered with whistles and vuvuzelas near the palace after news spread, with the headquarters of Compaore's Congress for Democracy and Progress (CDP) party ransacked.

Troops threaten to kill radio staff

Broadcasts by Radio France Internationale (FRANCE 24’s sister station) and the private Omega radio station were cut.

Omega boss Alpha Barry told FRANCE 24 television that RSP troops had threatened to kill staff if they did not stop transmitting.

The country's main trade unions launched a joint appeal "to observe a general strike throughout the national territory (...) against the RSP interference in politics and for a true democracy".

While the RSP's demands were not yet known, it has repeatedly tried to disrupt the ongoing transition.

On Monday the country's National Reconciliation and Reforms Commission had recommended that the 1,300-man force, considered the landlocked country's best troops, be disbanded.

A transitional government had been in place since ex-president Compaore fled into exile following violent protests in 2014, and was charged with running the nation until presidential and legislative elections could be held on October 11.

Supporters of Compaore were banned from standing in the upcoming elections under a controversial election law passed in April, which made anyone who supported "unconstitutional change" ineligible to run.

On the ground, the Balai Citoyen ("Civic Broom") movement, which was at the forefront of last year's anti-Compaore protests, called for protesters to gather to "say no to the coup d'Etat under way", an appeal that was shared widely on social networks.

State television was broadcasting its usual cartoons and a football match. Its buildings have traditionally been guarded by the RSP.

Anas appears in court today

Anas Aremeyaw Anas Vice
                        Anas Aremeyaw Anas - Investigative journalist                                                                                                     
Investigative Journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas has been summoned to appear before the five-member body hearing impeachment petition he filed against 34 judges in Ghana.

The undercover Journalist in a two-year investigative piece has established the complicity of some 34 Judges who have been found neck deep in corrupt activities in cases they presided over.

Some of them took bribes in the form of money and foodstuffs and left suspects off the hook.

Currently twenty-two of the judges – mainly magistrates – are on suspension, while 12 high court judges were expected to file their written responses to the petition by close of Monday, September 14.

Anas will be in court for the first time today since the hearing started to testify as well as be cross-examined by the counsel of the accused judges.

In a related development, one of the High Court judges, Justice Paul Derry has sued Anas over his findings.

He is seeking 17 reliefs from the Accra Fast Track High Court. Among his prominent request is “A declaration that the 1st Defendant (Tiger Eye PI) obtained the contents of the audio-visual recording unlawfully.”

The suit was filed on, Monday, September 14. The Attorney General and the Chief Justice were also sued as defendants.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Judicial scandal: My wife won’t be a judge – Dag Heward-Mills

Bishop Dag Heward Mills
Bishop Dag Heward-Mills has revealed he would not have allowed his wife to become a judge if she had opted to, in the wake of a massive corruption scandal which has hit the judiciary of Ghana.

Thirty-four judges are being investigated after first-rate investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas captured them on tape falling to various forms of inducements to free or mitigate sentences of suspects before them.

One of the high court judges Justice Ivy Heward-Mills has been described in certain quarters as the wife of the Presiding Bishop of the Lighthouse Chapel International, due to her surname.

However, Bishop Heward-Mills in a sermon on Sunday distanced himself from the embattled member of the bench clarifying that his wife’s name is Adelaide Heward-Mills.

“My wife is not a judge and has never been a judge, not even for one day in her life,” the Bishop told his congregation.

“My wife is a pastor,” the religious leader stressed in a myjoyonline.com’s report.

Bishop Heward-Mills added his wife is a trained lawyer, though, but has never been on the bench and will never have allowed her to be a judge if she had chosen that profession.

He fell short to explain why he would not have allowed his wife to become a judge, but his comments come on the heels of hard core evidence of corruption against the Judicial Service of Ghana.

GROUNDBREAKING PARTNERSHIP TO REVIVE OBUASI GOLD MINE

Randgold Resources Limited (“Randgold”) and AngloGold Ashanti Limited (“AngloGold Ashanti”) have concluded an investment agreement (the “Agreement”) aimed at the formation of a joint venture to redevelop and operate AngloGold Ashanti’s Obuasi gold mine in Ghana.  In terms of the Agreement, Randgold will lead and fund a development plan designed to rebuild Obuasi as a viable long-life mining business with an attractive cost structure and returns.

Obuasi, located in the Ashanti region of Ghana 320 kilometres northwest of the capital Accra, is a large, high-grade deposit with proven and probable ore reserves (as reported by AngloGold Ashanti in their 2014 Annual Report) of 24.53Mt at 6.70g/t for 5.29Moz, part of a substantial mineral resource base.  In 2012, AngloGold Ashanti initiated a programme to modernise the mine, principally by starting to develop a ramp access that will ultimately run from surface to high-grade blocks of ore underground.  
The ramp will supplement current vertical hoisting infrastructure and help debottleneck the underground operation by allowing for greater ease in transporting people and materials underground, and transporting ore to surface.  This is a necessary step ahead of the envisaged transformation of the mine into a modern, mechanised operation.

At the end of 2014, AngloGold Ashanti converted Obuasi to limited operations, ceasing underground production, retrenching the workforce, but continuing to process tailings and starting a feasibility study on the redevelopment of the mine.  Development of the decline ramp has continued over this period.

The development plan will build on this feasibility study with the intention of establishing a more focused, efficient, mechanised high-grade operation, and is expected to take about four months to complete.  If the development plan meets both parties’ investment criteria, and assuming all other conditions are satisfied, Randgold and AngloGold Ashanti will form a new joint venture company.

Randgold and AngloGold Ashanti will then be jointly responsible for funding the redevelopment of Obuasi in line with the agreed development plan.  A Randgold group entity will be appointed as operator of the mine, and Randgold and AngloGold Ashanti will appoint an equal number of directors to the board of the joint venture company, with board and shareholder decisions to be approved by both parties.


Randgold chief executive Mark Bristow said “Obuasi is a world-class resource.  We now have to see if we can convert it into a world-class mine.  We have a long history of cooperation with AngloGold Ashanti and we look forward to working with them again on charting a new course towards a viable future for Obuasi.”

“AngloGold Ashanti has since 2012 effected a range of improvements to modernise Obuasi and – in line with its strategy – has progressed a feasibility study as the critical next step toward breathing new life into this important mine,” AngloGold Ashanti CEO Srinivasan Venkatakrishnan said.  “Our partnership with Randgold has proved successful for well over a decade in bringing value from sustainable gold mining to all stakeholders and we believe that pooling the extensive expertise and the capital of these two companies will improve our ability to bring Obuasi’s world-class high-grade gold deposit to account.”

Transaction Timetable and Key Conditions
Randgold is expected to deliver the new development plan to both parties’ boards by 31 January 2016.  Formation of the joint venture is conditional on the satisfaction of a number of conditions, which include the approval by the boards of Randgold and AngloGold Ashanti of the final development plan prepared by Randgold, approval of the transaction by the South African Reserve Bank (“SARB”), consent of the lending banks under certain existing financing agreements of AngloGold Ashanti, completion by Randgold of due diligence to its satisfaction and receipt of any applicable anti-trust approvals (the “Initial Conditions”). 


 SARB approval is required to be obtained within 45 days from the date of the Agreement, and AngloGold Ashanti’s financing consent within 60 days, with the other Initial Conditions to be satisfied by 19 February 2016 (the “Approval Date”). 

 In addition, formation of the joint venture is conditional on the receipt of the approvals necessary for the implementation of the development plan and formation of the joint venture from the Government of Ghana on terms acceptable to the parties, including agreement of a revised stability agreement and a development agreement reflecting the agreed development plan and their ratification by the Parliament of Ghana and the issue of all necessary environmental licences and permits for the project (the “Government of Ghana Conditions”), which are planned to be satisfied by 31 March 2016. 

 Subject to the transaction completing, Randgold and AngloGold Ashanti will each fund their pro rata share of the agreed costs incurred in implementing the development plan from the Approval Date and certain other agreed costs from the date of the Agreement.  Randgold will also assume responsibility for its proportionate share of certain liabilities arising under guarantees given by AngloGold Ashanti in relation to the liabilities of its Ghanaian subsidiaries.

Under the terms of the Agreement, the Iduapriem mine, and certain other non-core assets, will be retained under the sole ownership of AngloGold Ashanti.

The Agreement has been entered into between group entities of Randgold and AngloGold Ashanti, with their payment obligations under the Agreement and the joint venture agreement referred to above guaranteed by Randgold and AngloGold Ashanti, the group parent companies.


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

I refused to become a judge because of my lifestyle – Ace Ankomah

Ace Ankomah Lawyer
Respected legal practitioner Ace Ankomah has revealed that he turned down a request to become a judge because of his unwillingness to deprive himself of good life.

According to him, a former Chief Justice of Ghana Justice, George Acquah (late) offered him an opportunity to serve on the bench but he turned it down.

In a Facebook post, Mr. Ankomah said his love for fast cars and the desire to give his family a good life informed his decision to turn down the offer 10 years ago.

“I went to see CJ Acquah again and politely declined the offer. He asked for my reasons, and I gave him many rehearsed answers, the silliest being that I thought the position would restrict me, since I still loved playing music with bands. When pressed further, I told the simple truth, and in Fante: "My Lord, mé gye bribe," translated, "My Lord, I will take bribes."

“He burst out laughing. But I explained that I had spent so much time building a private legal career, which was just about bearing fruit. I also had young children whom I had very great plans for. If I left private practice and became a judge, I would always look back and wonder and regret. I would be unhappy. I would still want to drive fast cars (yes, that's my weakness, still). And if the pay was not sufficient to sustain that lifestyle, I would find myself taking bribes," he wrote.

Below are full details of the post

It was about 10 years ago, if I am not mistaken. I had stopped teaching at Legon for about 2 years. I received a call from the office of the late CJ Acquah, to come in and see him.

Not knowing what was up, I simply went. He had very kind words to say about me and my work, and then he said he was going to submit my name as one of the judges for the Commercial Courts, which was then being set up. CJ Acquah was blunt to a fault. He said that if I worked hard, I could make it to the Court of Appeal in a couple of years and that in about a decade I could be on the Supreme Court bench. He said that with my age (probably 37 at the time), only the sky could be my limit, once I made it that far.

Right there and then, I knew my answer. But to be polite, I asked for a little time to think about it. And, although I knew what my answer would be, i did give it a thought. I spoke with my senior partners in the firm, my family, very close friends and my pastors.

On the set date, I went to see CJ Acquah again and politely declined the offer. He asked for my reasons, and I gave him many rehearsed answers, the silliest being that I thought the position would restrict me, since I still loved playing music with bands. When pressed further, I told the simple truth, and in Fante: "My Lord, mé gye bribe," translated, "My Lord, I will take bribes."

He burst out laughing. But I explained that I had spent so much time building a private legal career, which was just about bearing fruit. I also had young children whom I had very great plans for. If I left private practice and became a judge, I would always look back and wonder and regret. I would be unhappy. I would still want to drive fast cars (yes, that's my weakness, still). And if the pay was not sufficient to sustain that lifestyle, I would find myself taking bribes.

To CJ Acquah's credit, he did not try to convince me any further. He let me go, although, subsequently, he and Mr. Kwaku Ansa-Asare dragged me kicking and screaming to become a senior lecturer at the law school. But that's another story.

Why am I saying this? I am wondering where I would be today, if I had gone to the Bench. Would I have worked hard and made it to the Court of Appeal or even Supreme Court by now? Probably Court of Appeal. Would I have become a bribe-taking judge? Do you want an honest answer to that? I think..., I might, or might not, or might, or might not. Would Anas have filmed me by now? Probably. Or not. Possibly. Or not. But if he had, you, yes, you, the one reading this would be saying, "Ei, Ace, we thought he went to church. But we always knew that there was something dodgy about him." Yes, you!!

I am no angel. I like good things, and I hope to get good things even in the afterlife as well, God being my helper. But as I look at This Anas Sting story unfold, I look back at the honest answer that I gave to CJ Acquah, and I am glad I did that. But I am sad, very sad, and I keep having flashes of what I saw in the Anas films, and I keep saying, "THAT COULD HAVE BEEN ME."

Ghana's Voters Register Should be Cleaned: Asantehene

Otumfuoregister Otumfuo
The Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, is leading the crusade for a credible voter register, saying that cost should not be a hindrance to the compilation of a new electoral roll.

“I know how concerned our friends in the international community are about the sustenance of democracy through elections that are credible; and I have no doubt they will find it of greater value to help fund a more credible process that delivers a fair and just result than to pay for the unpredictable consequences of flawed elections. So we should ask ourselves now: Is our electoral register tainted? If it is, how best can we clean it to give the register credibility? If we are seeking the ultimate fairness, we must seek first the ultimate credibility,” Otumfuo said at the annual Ghana Bar Association (GBA) conference in Kumasi yesterday.

He was not happy about GBA’s deafening silence on contentious issues in the country, including the credibility of the electoral register ahead of the 2016 general elections.

The Asantehene said the forthcoming elections could be the most challenging in the nation’s constitutional development after the landmark legal tussle which followed the 2012 elections, and that “The world will expect that all the lessons have been learnt, all the loopholes have been identified and we should therefore have a reasonably error free, truly free and fair polls.”

There has been disagreement on whether a new voter register should be compiled. While the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the other opposition parties have been vociferous on the need for a replacement of the current register to guarantee credible, free and fair elections, the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) has been dismissive of the calls, describing them as absurd and without basis.

The NPP recently claimed the party’s 10% investigation had uncovered more than 76,000 people with the same names and pictures on Ghana and Togo’s electoral rolls – a development which makes the nation’s electoral roll incredible for free and fair elections.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu II said the nation was looking at the GBA, which appeared to have lost focus and fallen into coma, to be able to offer counsel devoid of party interest.

“Politicians have taken their positions, undoubtedly each influenced by perceptions of party interest. In the face of the conflicting arguments, I consider it an obligation on your part to pronounce on this from the perspective of professionals who have a stake in protecting the integrity of our electoral system,” he noted.

Cost Of New Register

Otumfuo pointed out that even though cost continues to be a key factor in considering such matters, credibility of the voter register is pertinent and fundamental for the protection of Ghana’s democracy and ultimately the country’s peace.
Otumfuo’s straight talk attracted rapturous applause from the legal luminaries that had gathered at the Great Hall of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).

The conference was held under the theme: “Rule of Law, Access to Justice and Sustainable Development – The Panacea to Political and Economic Progress of a Nation State.”

Expectation

“I detect a certain loss of focus, a lowering of ambition if you like, at the BAR for current constitutional reforms and related matters. I would have thought that the Bar Association would lead the way in the debate on possible constitutional reforms but all I have heard is silence at the BAR,” he chastised.

The Asantehene said he expected the GBA to kick-start the process to ensure fairness in the next general elections, noting that the association ought to seek first the credibility of the electoral process for fairness to be guaranteed.

Political Favours

According to him, while lawyers and politics are inseparable Siamese twins, there is a line between the political good of the country and slavish attachment to political parties, arguing that this is the nub of the problem afflicting the law today with the overweening and pervasive influence of political parties upon the citizenry.

Otumfuo stated that Ghana had found herself in a period in which political parties had built up into machineries of credible monstrosity seeking to manipulate and control our minds as in an Orwellian society.

He said people at law should never feel the need to grovel at the feet of politicians for the favour of political appointments, as they must be sought by the appointing authority because the nation needs their expertise, skills and intellect.

“Much of the sloppy half-baked legal advice handed down to policy-makers is the product of self-interest couched to please political masters rather than to conform to the requirements of the law,” Otumfuo observed.

He urged members of the GBA to consign such activities to the past, pointing out that “every epoch in history throws up its challenges and brings forth its heroes.”

Monday, September 14, 2015

Africa: Attah Abraham | How A 14 Year Old Street Vendor in Ghana Won Marcello Mastroianni’s Best Young Actor Award at Venice Film Festival for His Lead Performance in ‘Beasts of No Nation’ Alongside Idris Elba - See more at: http://brutallyuncensored.com/africa-attah-abraham-how-a-14-year-old-street-vendor-in-ghana-won-marcello-mastroiannis-best-young-actor-award-at-venice-film-festival-for-his-lead-performance-in-beasts-of-no-nation

Attah Abraham
Attah Abraham at Venice Film Festival
The life of a young street vendor from Ghana has changed for good or let’s say, is about to take a shocking good turn.
Without having ever stepped a foot in any acting classroom or haven’t even dreamt of ever becoming an actor, Attah Abraham who was picked from the streets of Ghana during the shooting of Netflix’s soon to be released movie “Beasts of No Nation“, has won the prestigious Marcello Mastroianni’s Best Young Actor award at the 2015 Venice Film Festival, the world’s oldest film festival.
It surely was a risky business to fly into Ghana and pick a street vendor to become your lead actor—you can say director Cary Fukunaga is crazy for doing this but his edge for risk has started paying off.
In April this year, producer James Schamus and director Cary Fukunaga at the Tribeca Film Festival spoke about how their latest film-Beasts of No Nation, starring Idris Elba’s teenage lead actor was randomly picked from the streets of Ghana.
Cary Fukunaga said; “the lead in ‘Beasts of No Nation’ was essentially a street vendor before we shot the film. [He had] zero film experience, little education…but he became a somewhat professional actor, which was astounding to watch.”
Fukunaga added that,  “his unlikely star’s name is Abraham Attah, and he is a 14-year-old who plays an 11-year-old child soldier in the film. Abraham’s character joins a militant group from an unnamed West African country that is led by a brutal warlord, played by Idris Elba (“Luther”)” reported the BusinessInsider.
Some will call it talent and others may call it the work of God—whatever it is, Attah Abraham’s future has new shinning stars—the 14 year old Ghanaian street vendor with no hope of a better tomorrow has now become an inspiration to even already ‘established’ Ghanaian actors.
Attah Abraham at Venice Film Festival
Attah Abraham at Venice Film Festival
Though it was a street pick, Abraham initially had to fight for the role. Fukunaga mentioned that it was an interesting casting process;
“We gathered a bunch of kids who had potential, about 30 of them, and we did this theater workshop and tried scenes that were in the script, and we would improvise. See if these kids could play a variety of emotions and actions that take place in the story. And the kids are fast learners, they quickly understood that the better they did the longer they stayed [in the running for the role].”
Even when he scored the role, Abraham took charge of affairs and made shocking progress during the shooting. Touching on the amazing progression of Abraham during the difficult scenes of filming, director-Fukunaga told the film festival audience at the time that;
“We had a difficult one long take that he had to perform; probably the most intense thing I ever asked him to do in the film. He had six or seven kids around him performing [in the scene], and I watched him become a leader among these kids and make sure they stayed in focus and not f— up the shot so they didn’t have to do it over again. I gave almost no direction to those kids. Abraham was driving that scene.”
Attah Abraham in 'Beasts of No Nation'
Attah Abraham in ‘Beasts of No Nation’
Ghana has somewhat a stagnant movie industry with many of its ‘big actors’ and actresses like John Dumelo, Majid Michel, Van Vicker, Yvonne Nelson, Nadia Buari and Jackie Appiah forever dreaming of playing even just a supporting role in a big budget movie that stars the man rumoured to be the next James Bond-Idris Elba.
But Attah Abraham, a young street hawker took the lead and performed greatly in “Beasts of No Nation”—thereby securing a prestigious award at the Venice Film Festivals.
Abraham may never act again but this has changed his life for good—as he was put into a boarding school by the film makers, an education he would never have had.
“There’s a reality that these kids will probably not have a career as an actor, so this experience is a one-time experience. For Abraham, he’s only 14 so we had to get him up to speed in school, so right now we put him into boarding school back in Ghana so he can get up to normal 14 year old academics. By nature of us crossing into these people’s lives you have some responsibility there to make their lives better, but at the same time you’re not adopting a child, by any means,” Cary Fukunaga said.
At the press conference of the film at Venice Film Festival, Abraham told reporters that the only time he felt fear during the filming of the brutal violent scenes was when he first played opposite Idris Elba. “I felt like an ant,” he joked.
Idris Elba who is currently shooting a film in Canada could not attend the festival, so Abraham Attah took all the international shine as the star at the movie’s press conference—this is a boy who perhaps had not heard of Venice Film Festival before just about a year ago.
Beasts of No Nation
Beasts of No Nation
The official trailer of ‘Beasts of No Nation’ was released last week and as Netflix announced earlier this year, the movie “will open in select cinemas in the US and on its streaming platform for the rest of the world” in October.
Netflix stated a few months ago that “Beasts of No Nation” is a powerful film that unfolds beautifully in the hands of director Cary Fukunaga, with Idris Elba delivering a career-defining performance.
We are so proud to bring a film of this calibre exclusively to Netflix members around the world at the same time as it appears in select theaters.”
Beasts of No Nation tells a story of a West African military leader (played by Idris Elba) who drafts a young boy (Attah Abraham) into his army of child soldiers…
US director Cary Fukunaga and Attah Abraham at Venice Film Festival
US director Cary Fukunaga and Attah Abraham at Venice Film Festival
See the full list of winners at the 2015 Venice Film Festival;
Venice 72
Golden LionFrom Afar (Lorenzo Vigas)
Silver Lion for Best Director: Pablo Trapero (The Clan)
Grand Jury PrizeAnomalisa (Charlie Kaufman, Duke Johnson)
Volpi Cup for Best Actor: Fabrice Luchini (L’Hermine)
Volpi Cup for Best Actress: Valeria Golino (Per Amor Vostro)
Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best Young Actor: Abraham Attah, (Beasts Of No Nation)
Best Screenplay: Christian Vincent (L’Hermine)
Special Jury PrizeFrenzy (Emin Alper)
Venice Horizons
Best FilmFree In Deed (Jake Mahaffy)
Best Director: Brady Corbet (The Childhood of a Leader)
Special Jury PrizeNeon Bull (Gabriel Mascaro)
Special Prize for Best Actor: Dominique Leborne (Tempête)
Best Short FilmBelladonna (Dubravka Turic)
Lion of the Future – “Luigi De Laurentiis” Venice Award for a Debut FilmThe Childhood of a Leader (Brady Corbet)
Venice Classics
Best Documentary on CinemaThe 1000 Eyes of Dr Maddin (Yves Montmayeur)
Best RestorationSalo, or The 120 Days of Sodom (Pier Paolo Pasolini
- See more at: http://brutallyuncensored.com/africa-attah-abraham-how-a-14-year-old-street-vendor-in-ghana-won-marcello-mastroiannis-best-young-actor-award-at-venice-film-festival-for-his-lead-performance-in-beasts-of-no-nation/#sthash.8YLkew9b.dpuf

Saudi Arabian authorities says six Nigerians are among the 244 who died in recent accident

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SAUDI Arabian authorities have confirmed that six Nigerians are among the 244 people who have been confirmed dead following the collapse of a crane on the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Mecca.   According to the Saudi civil defence authority a huge red crane crashed through the mosque's roof on Friday while maintenance works were being carried out during this year's hajj pilgrimage.

 Hundreds of thousands of people have begun arriving in Saudi Arabia from all over the world for the hajj and they are due to visit Mecca later this month.   With the identification of the dead underway, six Nigerian pilgrims have been confirmed dead while four have been declared missing. Uba Mana, a spokesperson for National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, confirmed the death of the six Nigerians, adding that they will all be buried in Saudi Arabia according to Muslim rites.   

Mr Mana said: “There are six Nigerians that lost their lives and in Islam, you don’t bring corpses back home. You bury them where they died, so preparations are on the way for their burial as I speak with you now but I’m sure they will be buried in Saudi Arabia.”   Four female pilgrims from Gombe State had been declared  missing following the crash and one other female pilgrim got injured during the incident. Alhaji Abdullahi Mai-Kano, the Gombe State Amirul-Hajj, said that the four pilgrims were from Akko, Dukku and Nafada local governments areas of the state.   

He said the other faithful sustained injury on her head but had been treated and discharged. However, the four pilgrims were declared missing after a thorough verification and bed checking in the three houses accommodating the state pilgrims.   Mr Mana added: “The incident won’t affect pilgrimage because airlifting is ongoing and we have already airlifted over 80% of our pilgrims. We don’t intend to stop and people are not scared but we have told our people to be cautious and observe what to do to protect themselves.”   

While an investigative committee was said to have commenced searching for the cause of the collapse of the crane, a former head of Mecca’s religious police, Sheikh Ahmed al-Ghandi, was said to have attributed the accident to an act of God. Meanwhile, members of the Nigerian rmed forces on pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia were said to have extended medical treatment to other Nigerian pilgrims in Mecca.

Military high command says large numbers of Boko Haram terrorists are surrendering

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NIGERIAN military authorities have reported more success in their ongoing fight against Boko Haram claiming that scores of terrorists are now surrendering following the attacks on their camps and the capture of their bases.   Over the last few weeks, Nigerian troops have intensified their attacks on Boko Haram targets and according to the army, all off the terrorists camps have been overrun. 

Chief of army staff, Lt General Tukur Buratai, recently visited Gamboru, the Boko Haram stronghold in Borno State where he spent the night and crossed the border into Cameroon to visit refugees in the border town of Fotokol.  

 Colonel Sani Usman, the director of army public relations, said that with the renewed onslaught, more terrorists and fighters are willing to surrender to the Nigerian military. He listed the new strategies employed to include sustained offensive operations, pre-emptive air strikes by the Nigerian Air Force  and routes blocking by ground troops all geared towards constricting and snuffing out the Boko Haram terrorists.  

 “Many of the terrorists that willingly surrendered painted images of mass panic and hysteria among their erstwhile colleagues. They are feeling the noose tightening around their necks with the relentless efforts of troops and renewed vigour in operations inspired by the personal leadership of the chief of army staff.    "Terrorists also seem to have an inkling of what happens to surrendered suspects as regards screening and de-radicalisation of innocent ones among them. 

The Nigerian Army wishes to also appreciate the great support and information it receives from well meaning citizens," Col Usman added.   Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari also said Boko Haram insurgents had been sufficiently weakened that they no longer have the capacity to occupy the northeast or any other party of the country. President Buhari, who was represented by vice president Professor Yemi Osinbajo, spoke while addressing the second plenary meeting of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria at the Catholic Pastoral Centre, Igwuruta, near Port Harcourt.

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