Democratic Republic of Congo’s minister of health on Thursday announced the first death since a new Ebola outbreak was declared in the country, as well as nine other cases of people sickened by a hemorrhagic fever that is suspected as Ebola.
Health officials declared an Ebola outbreak in the country’s northwest on Tuesday after lab tests confirmed the deadly virus in two cases from the town of Bikoro in the Equateur province. Officials from the World Health Organisation and other international health agencies are in the area to help contain the outbreak’s spread.
Seven people with a hemorrhagic fever, including two confirmed cases of Ebola, were hospitalized in Bikoro as of Thursday, according to Health Minister Oly Ilunga. The death happened overnight at a hospital in nearby Ikoko Impenge hospital that also reported four new suspected cases of Ebola, Ilunga said.
Ilunga told The Associated Press that the patient who died was a nurse. Three other nurses also were being treated for a hemorrhagic fever, he said.
The minister clarified with The Associated Press that testing still must be done in nine cases, and equipment to conduct rapid testing on the patients has been dispatched.
“This situation worries us and requires a very immediate and energetic response,” he said at a news conference.
The two Ebola cases were confirmed as the Zaire strain after officials in the capital, Kinshasa, were alerted early this month to the deaths of 17 people from a hemorrhagic fever and traveled to the Bikoro area to perform tests.
The deaths occurred over a period of time and Ebola, which is not the only virus responsible for hemorrhagic fevers, has not been confirmed as the cause in any of the 17 cases, Ilunga said.
Bikoro Hospital director Dr Serge Ngalebato told The Associated Press earlier Thursday that nurses at the hospital were among the five suspected Ebola cases there.
“We have isolated the patients,” Ngalebato said. “There are no deaths yet, but all of the sick are presenting signs of fever, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain and intense fatigue.”
This is the ninth Ebola outbreak in DRC since 1976, when the deadly disease was first identified.
Ebola occasionally jumps to humans from animals, including bats and monkeys.
There is no specific treatment for Ebola, which is spread through the bodily fluids of people exhibiting symptoms. Without preventive measures, the virus can spread quickly between people and is fatal in up to 90% of cases.
The director of the National Institute of Biological and Bacterial Research, Dr. Jean Jacques Muyembe, said Wednesday that health experts should be able to quickly contain this outbreak because the area is so remote.
The cases could be linked to a policeman in the Bikoro health zone who presented symptoms of hemorrhagic fever and died in December, Muyembe said. His mother and 10 others then showed similar symptoms.
None of the Ebola outbreaks in DRC have been connected to the massive outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in West Africa that began in 2014 and left more than 11 300 dead.
The Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court has granted Varun Gupta, the nephew of the controversial Gupta brothers, permission to travel to India.
Magistrate Jan Greyvenstein delivered his ruling on Friday morning saying, “I place my trust in you”.
Gupta will fly out on Friday. He is expected back in the country no later than May 27.
Gupta is one of the accused in the Estina dairy project case.
He asked the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court to relax the conditions of his bail, particularly the one that specified that he should inform the investigating officer six weeks before he undertakes any international travel.
It is understood that Gupta wants to leave the country to attend a religious ceremony.
Although the judge granted Gupta permission to travel he said he was greatly concerned about whether Gupta would come back to South Africa, adding that his wife and kids were already out of the country.
Gupta was arrested along with Estina director Kamal Vasram, former directors at the Guptas’ holding company Oakbay – Ronica Ragavan, Nazeem Howa and Ashu Chawla – and Free State officials Peter Thabethe, Sylvia Dlamini and Takisi Masiteng in February for their roles in the project.
They are all facing charges of fraud, theft, conspiracy to commit fraud and theft, contravening the Public Finance Management Act, contravening the Companies Act and contravening sections of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.
Alleged kidnap kingpin, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike a.k.a. Evans, broke down in tears on Monday before the Lagos State High Court in Igbosere where he was produced for arraignment on fresh two charges of kidnapping.
After initially refusing to come down from the prison van in protest, he was eventually brought into the courtroom by warders on the order of Justice Adedayo Akintoye.
Stepping into the courtroom bare-footed and in handcuffs, Evans, who wore a pair of shorts and a green T-shirt, torn on the shoulder with sand stain on the back, immediately indicated to the judge that he had something to say.
He said, “I have an explanation to make. Since I have been in the maximum prison, they have been maltreating me; no visit, they don’t feed me well, I have eye problem and I cannot see far.”
But he was countered by one of the prison officials, who maintained that Evans was being given the same treatment as other inmates.
“We have been treating him very well; he is well fed and people have been visiting him. A doctor has been checking him; the doctor came to check him yesterday (Sunday) and even this morning before coming to court, because he was saying he can’t be in court, that he is not feeling fine.
“But when the doctor checked him yesterday (Sunday) and this morning, the doctor said he was healthy and that he saw no reason why he couldn’t be in court,” the official said.
But Evans said he was seen by a nurse rather than a doctor.
The counsel for the second defendant, Ogedi Ogbu, told the court that his client, Joseph Emeka, had also made the same complaints to him.
But the Lagos State Director of Prosecutions, Ms. Titilayo Shitta-Bey, said Evans was only making up an excuse, urging the court not to buy it.
“That was the same thing he said before an Ikeja High Court and we wrote the prisons and they wrote us back that he was being taken care of like every other inmate,” Shitta-Bey said.
Reacting, Justice Akintoye directed the prison officials to ensure that Evans and his co-defendants were treated like other inmates, noting that they were still presumed innocent.
On the request of Evans’ lawyer, Olukoya Ogungbeje, who had earlier written to the court, praying that the case be stood down, the judge acceded to his request and stood the case down.
Soon as the judge rose, Evans broke down in tears.
“What have I done to you people? They have been beating me; no good food; I have been locked up in one place since August 30 last year; why are they taking my case personally? Let me face my trial alive, why do you people want to kill me,” he said sobbing.
About then his lawyer, Ogungbeje came into the courtroom and began to pacify him.
The defendants were eventually arraigned on the fresh charges.
Evans was arraigned alongside Joseph Emeka, Linus Okpara and Victor Aduba.
The charges border on “conspiracy and unlawful capture.”
The state alleged in the charges that the defendants conspired with some persons still at large, to “unlawfully capture one Uche Okorafor, on the 21st of November, 2014, at Festac Town, Lagos and demanded a ransom of $2m.”
The DPP said they acted contrary to sections 409 and 269 of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State 2011, adding that they were liable to punishment under the same law.
But they pleaded not guilty.
Justice Akintoye adjourned till May 25, 2018 for the commencement of trial.
Source: The Punch
A batch of 218 Nigerians, which included seven pregnant women on Tuesday voluntarily returned from the volatile North African country of Libya where they had been stranded en route Europe.
The returnees arrived at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos about 3.44am aboard a chartered Libyan Airlines Airbus A330-200 aircraft with registration number 5A-LAU.
They comprised of 46 adult females, five female infants, 161 adult males, two male children and four male infants.
The returnees were brought with the assistance of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the European Union (EU).
The South West Zonal Coordinator of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Alhaji Yakubu Suleiman, said a total of 8,129 Nigerians had returned so far under the EU and IOM Assisted Voluntary Returnees Programme.
Suleiman advised the returnees to be champions of change in sensitising the youths against the urge of seeking greener pastures through irregular migration due to unforeseen dangers.
He assured them that the Federal Government was pursuing socio-economic programmes aimed at giving employable opportunities to the youths.
According to him, the government has intensified efforts at curbing the menace of corruption that has bedeviled the country and denied Nigerians the opportunities to put up their best toward its development.
Speaking to newsmen, one of the returnees, Ms. Titilayo Kayode-Owojori, from Ile Ife, Osun State, regretted embarking on the ill-fated journey but thanked God for returning home safely.
She said: “Nigeria is far better than where we thought we could get better lives. The Libyans live with the sweat of the blacks.
“If the Arabs see us working and collecting wages, they wait and burst our houses to collect the money. If they don’t see any money, they will kidnap us and ask us to call Nigeria to send us money to free ourselves. If we can’t raise money, we will be sold or imprisoned.”
The returnee, therefore, urged the government to fulfill its promise of creating an enabling environment for Nigerians to thrive in order to reduce the urge to seek greener pastures outside the country.
Source: The Punch
We tested the number on the payslip to confirm if our non-existent employee works at the stated company.
In a shocking exposé, the SABC News can reveal how fake payslips and bank statements are sold in Johannesburg. The documents which appear authentic can be obtained at an internet café for just R600.
The payslip contains a telephone number of a fake company where a potential creditor can confirm employment. At the internet café in Yeoville, Johannesburg, creating forged payslips and bank statements are as easy as pie.
All that is needed is a computer and a printer. SABC News received a tip off from a community member, we decided to go undercover to show our viewers just how simple the job can be done.
We meet this man, who tells us about someone who “can make things happen” for us.
Anywhere in the whole of Yeoville everybody knows him. His name is Kagiso known as Rasta man. He is a grand master.
So we meet Rasta and ask him if he can provide the documents.
“I need three months bank statements and payslip. – Which bank should I use? Capitec is better. What about a confirmation number? If they call who are they going to get?” we asked.
“The person who has the line. The number is not for a specific person but they say hello and will confirm. You can use as many companies as possible. How much? Confirmation number is separate, it’s R200, bank statement is R200, payslip is R100 each on original paper,” answered Rasta.
Kagiso known as Rasta gets down to fabricating a perfect replication of a payslip and bank statements, so seemingly authentic, that it fools even us.
He is a busy man, inundated by clients.
After about 30 to 45 minutes, for R600, we got a payslip, with a randomly chosen name and surname that we provided. The ID number of an unknown person, working for a company that Rasta chose, in a position of our choice.
So we tested the number on the payslip to confirm if our non-existent employee works at the stated company.
Unsurprising, the bogus company confirms a bogus employee, and that opens the door to a world of credit, ramping up debt of thousands or even millions of rand hat no one can trace to you.
The police in Lagos have arrested a middle-aged woman, Mary Henry, for allegedly abducting two children in the Yaba area of the state.
The suspect, who lives on Akanni Street, Somolu, was reportedly caught with the kids – Mukaila Ya’u, 10, and Mariam Jubril, 2 – along Herbert Macaulay Way, Yaba.
PUNCH Metro gathered that Ya’u was sent on an errand around 10am on Wednesday and Jubril had followed him.
They were running the errand when Henry reportedly lured them.
Our correspondent gathered that the woman was fleeing with the kids when she was trailed by a team of policemen from the Sabo division, led by the Divisional Police Officer, CSP Mary Ubangha.
While parading the suspect at the Lagos State Police Command headquarters in Ikeja, the Commissioner of Police, Edgal Imohimi, said the woman ran into a church with the victims.
He said, “The DPO observed the woman’s worried countenance and felt something was amiss. She decided to trail her. The suspect, however, noticed that she was under surveillance and diverted into Saint Dominic Catholic Church, Yaba.
“The DPO followed her and warned the church security men to keep an eye on the woman and never allow her exit the church without the police ascertaining the identities of the children with her. The security man obliged and brought the woman and the children to the DPO.
“During interrogation, it was discovered that she was not the biological mother of the children, who are of different parents. Investigation into the case is ongoing.”
Imohimi added that the police were on the trail of the suspect’s brother, believed to be her accomplice in the alleged abduction.
But the suspect, who was aggressive, said her daughter was with one Shitan.
She was evasive when asked whether she abducted the children in retaliation, adding that Shitan had earlier visited the command on Wednesday.
She said, “I did nothing. You (the police) are making a false accusation against me. They arrested me for no just cause. God will bear me witness. My daughter, Ada, is with Shitan.”
Source: The Punch
Suspected herdsmen yesterday attacked Ayar Mbalom community in Gwer-East Local Government Area of Benue State, killing 19 persons, including two priests of the Catholic Diocese of Makurdi.
The Guardian learnt from some locals who pleaded anonymity that the militia herdsmen, who ransacked the entire village around 5:30 a.m., also set ablaze over 80 houses and destroyed foodstuff.
One of the sources said: “The killer herdsmen, unknown to us, ambushed our settlement. They shot sporadically at dawn, and slaughtered our people, including two Catholic parishioners who were in the church at St. Ignatius Quasi Parish in Ukpor-Mbalom for their 5:30 a.m. devotion.
They did not know they were being targeted.”
The attack came barely four days after the murder of 10 persons by herdsmen in Guma Local Government Area and the destruction of 300 houses by men suspected to be military personnel in Naka, Gwer West Local Government Area.
The Director of Communications, Catholic Diocese of Makurdi, Rev. Father Moses Iorapuu, who confirmed the incident, named the priests killed in the attack as Rev. Fathers Joseph Gor and Felix Tyolaha.
Iorapuu who expressed disgust that the police seem to know nothing of the attacks which have been going on in other villages within Benue State since the anti-open grazing law came into effect last year, wondered why the international community has remained silent over the massacre of the citizens.
“It is very clear that it has been the goal of the jihadists to conquer Benue and Tiv people who resisted their advance into the middle belt and the Eastern part of Nigeria since 1804, the people who rejected Islam and fought for the unification of Nigeria in the Civil War of 1967 – 1970.
“There were over 170,000 internally displaced persons before the Naka invasion, and surely, with the current situation in Mbalom, Benue will be flooded with thousands more.
“The Catholic Diocese of Makurdi is one of the largest in Nigeria and has been active in providing relief materials, including education and skills acquisition lessons. To go for the priests means total destruction of everything we stand for and believe in as a people,” Iorapuu said.
The Guardian learnt that bodies of all the victims have been deposited at the mortuary of Bishop Moray Hospital, Makurdi.
Consequent upon the killings, tension is rising across Makurdi city resulting in security beef-up and closure of businesses, including major markets like Wurukum, Modern Market, Wadata and North Bank markets by the owners for fear of the unknown.
The Acting Governor, Benson Abounu, said it was another black day for the state.
“Benue is still under siege. It is clear that this is a calculated attack on the church and the burial that was ongoing in the community.
I understand that two reverend fathers were killed right in the church. We are under siege and I do believe that this has gone beyond farmers, herdsmen clash.
The Federal Government and the security agencies should look at this as insurgency and must be treated as such,” he said.
Noting that the security agencies were on top of the situation, he said: “My directive to them is that it is still very hot and the security agencies should rush after these killers into their hideouts in the bushes to round them up.”
The Commissioner of Police, Fatai Awoseni, who also confirmed the incident, said he got the information as early as 5:00 a.m. and quickly mobilised security personnel to the scenes of the attacks.
In a reaction, President Muhammadu Buhari described as vile and satanic the killing of the worshippers and the priests.
Buhari, who declared that the country would not bow to the machinations of evildoers, yesterday vowed that the assailants would be hunted down and made to pay for the sacrilege committed.
“This latest assault on innocent persons is particularly despicable. Violating a place of worship, killing priests and worshippers is not only vile, evil and satanic, it is clearly calculated to stoke up religious conflict and plunge our communities into endless bloodletting,” the president said in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina yesterday.
Meanwhile, the pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, has urged Buhari to urgently resign his membership of the Myetti Allah group or forfeit his position as president of the country.
Afenifere, rising from a meeting held at the house of its leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, in Akure, Ondo State yesterday, alleged that the president has conflicting roles as the patron of Myetti Allah and the president of the country.
The Yoruba leaders said if Buhari failed to choose one out of the two responsibilities, in the interest of the country, the National Assembly should begin the process of impeaching him, and also for spending money without budgetary approval.
In a communique read to journalists by Afenifere’s spokesman, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, the group said the position occupied by the president as a member of Myetti Allah made it difficult for him to take decisive action against Fulani herdsmen that have turned Nigeria into a killing field.
“There is hardly any day now you open our newspapers without reading about scores of citizens who have been killed in cold blood by this terror group with our security agencies unwilling to act in the defence of the citizens.
“The fears that were raised by Lt. Gen. Danjuma (rtd) that there was collusion between security forces and the killer herdsmen, have become much more real by the declaration by the Emir of Nka in Zamfara just yesterday after 26 people were killed in his community.”
Odumakin quoted the emir to have said: “We are so disturbed over this issue. We noticed negligence of the security agencies because they came after the damage has been done and very too late.”
Source: Guardian News
A 50-year-old man, Taiwo Oyelabi, has been arrested for allegedly sleeping with his biological daughter. The suspect, who is currently being detained at the Gender Section of the Lagos State Police Command, was also accused of impregnating his 21-year-old daughter, Taiwo Nibilia Oyelabi.
Confessing to newsmen, the suspect admitted having an affair with the young girl, saying he had canal knowledge of her only five times. “I only slept with my daughter five times and it took place in my house. She came to me the first time kissing me while I was lying down on my bed, and urging me to make love to her. At first I was surprise but I gradually yielded to her demand.
“It all started some years back after my wife, who is also the girl’s mother moved out of my house over a minor domestic quarrel. She actually left with our twin kids while they were still young. At the time she left, she kept the children in the custody of my younger sister.
“However, Taiwo came back to stay with me in 2017. That was how this whole drama started. Like I said, it was the girl who came to me for sex the first time, but I demanded for it subsequently. I thought of committing suicide when it dawned on me. I tried to take my own life twice.
“There was a time when I tried to drink insecticide but some petty traders prevented me from doing so in my area. I also tried to jump into a well the second time, but was rescued by neighbours who saw me when I attempted to climb the well. I know it is the handwork of the devil and I pray that God and members of my family would have mercy on me,” he said.
The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Imohimi Edgal, who paraded the suspect before newsmen at the command headquarters, Ikeja, yesterday, said a case of incest was first reported at Igando Police Station on April 16. Edgal said the report was actually made by some concerned members of the public who felt sad about what was happening.
He said that preliminary investigation carried out at Igando police station revealed that the suspect has had sexual intercourse with his daughter on several occasions.
“Based on the findings at Igando, the case was transferred to the Gender Section of the Command on April 18, for a more in-depth investigations. The suspect, Taiwo Oyelabi, who resides at No. 15 Community Road, Obadore, Iyana Oba, while the victim is the suspect’s 21-year-old daughter.
“Both have been having inappropriate sexual liaison, the result of the unholy alliance between father and daughter was pregnancy. Investigation into the case revealed that the suspect is a security man but the strange part of his work was that whenever he was going to work, he goes with his daughter. This strange behavior attracted the attention of the community and they reported to the police,” Edgal told newsmen.
Meanwhile, in line with its objective to rid Lagos of all criminal elements, the state police command yesterday paraded 20 suspected armed robbers and three cultists arrested in different incidents. The suspects, according to the state police boss, Edgal, were arrested between April 8 and last week Sunday.
Giving a breakdown of the arrests, he said Damilola Oluwole, 27; Seyi Adebayo and Olasupo Jeremiah, were apprehended on April 8, following complaint from the management of AB Hotel at Shogunle that the premises was attacked by armed robbers.
He said the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) operatives from Mushin were directed to fish out the culprits, which they did within 24 hours. He said a locally-made pistol, one expended and five live cartridges were recovered from the robbers’ hideout at Akala, Mushin.
Also, four other suspected armed robbers were arrested on April 17, at about 11:00a.m. while they were about to sell a Highlander Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) they snatched at gunpoint. He said: “Operatives of FSARS at Mushin were dispatched and thy intercepted the suspects. The team arrested one Olamilekan Lamidi alias Dudu with the said vehicle at Ogunsanga Street, Mushin.
“They followed up on the case and arrested Yusuf Jimoh, 36, Isah Ogungbenro, 29, Sulaiman Osayemi, 28, and Seun Shoneye, 29. One of the suspects, Osayemi led detectives to Idi-Araba where a Toyota Highlander SUV, three locally made short guns and eight live cartridges were recovered.
“On April 20, at about 5:30p.m., one Raphael Oluwanisola of 1, Adeniyi Castro Street, Alagbado was arrested along Ile-Iwe Road, Meiran. They flagged down a man carrying a bag on a motorcycle. Upon questioning him, he said he was a thrift collector and attempted to bribe the policemen with N5,000.
“The officers refused the offer and suspected something was wrong. He immediately jumped down from his motorcycle and started running but he was pursued, apprehended and his bag searched. Three locally-made cut-to-size pistols and 11 cartridges were recovered from him.
Also arrested in a separate incident were one Noah Olaniyi, Moshood Fatai, Segun Ajibade and Abiola Ige while attempting to sell their stolen loots – two laptops, one iPad and three handsets, to one Lukman, the receiver of stolen goods. The CP said a search warrant was executed at the receiver’s house and three additional laptops were recovered from him.
Meanwhile, one Barrister Arowole Gabriel, who had earlier reported the theft of his electronic gadgets from his shop in Mushin, has identified the recovered items as his. This prompted a fresh quizzing of the receiver and he confessed that one Azeez, also currently at large, sold the laptop to him. He said all arrested suspects would be charged to court for prosecution.
Source: Guardian News
Former President George H.W. Bush has been hospitalised after an infection he contracted spread to his blood, Just days after burying his wife Barbara, who died at age 92.
According to the Spokesman to the former president on Monday, Bush was admitted to the hospital on Sunday.
“President Bush was admitted to Houston Methodist Hospital Sunday after contracting an infection that spread to his blood.
“He is responding to treatments and appears to be recovering. We will issue additional updates as events warrant,” Bush spokesman Jim McGrath said in a statement.
Bush, 93, was hospitalised last April for two weeks due to a “mild case of pneumonia.” Earlier in 2017 he was hospitalized for 16 days, also to be treated for pneumonia.
His wife was also hospitalised around the same time to treat a case of bronchitis.
Barbara died Tuesday, shortly after her family announced she was in failing health and would decline further medical treatment in favor of “comfort care.” There were no details of her specific health problems.
The 41st president uses a wheelchair and an electric scooter for mobility after developing a form of Parkinson’s disease, and he has needed hospital treatment several times in recent years for respiratory problems.
Bush served as president from 1989 to 1993 and as vice president under Ronald Reagan from 1981 to 1989. He also served as a congressman and as director of the CIA.
North Korean leader Kim Jong, Un said he would halt nuclear tests and intercontinental missile launches, in a Saturday announcement welcomed by US President Donald Trump ahead of a much-anticipated summit between the two men.
Pyongyang’s declaration, long sought by Washington, will be seen as a crucial step in the fast diplomatic dance on and around the Korean peninsula.
It comes less than a week before the North Korean leader meets South Korean President Moon Jae-in for a summit in the Demilitarised Zone that divides the peninsula, ahead of the eagerly-awaited encounter with Trump himself.
But Kim gave no indication Pyongyang might be willing to give up its nuclear weapons, or the missiles with which it can reach the mainland United States.
The North had successfully developed its arsenal, including miniaturising warheads to fit them on to missiles, Kim said, and so “no nuclear test and intermediate-range and inter-continental ballistic rocket test-fire are necessary for the DPRK now”.
As such the North’s nuclear testing site was no longer needed, he told the central committee of the ruling Workers’ Party, according to the official KCNA news agency.
The party decided that nuclear blasts and ICBM launches will cease as of Saturday – the North has not carried any out since November – and the atomic test site at Punggye-ri will be dismantled to “transparently guarantee” the end of testing.
Within minutes of the report being issued, Trump tweeted: “This is very good news for North Korea and the World – big progress! Look forward to our Summit.”
Seoul too welcomed the announcement, calling it “meaningful progress” towards the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.
But Kim offered no sign he might be willing to give up what he called the North’s “treasured sword”, saying its possession of nuclear weapons was “the firm guarantee by which our descendants can enjoy the most dignified and happiest life in the world”.
‘A necessary but not sufficient step’
Pyongyang has made rapid technological progress in its weapons programmes under Kim, which has seen it subjected to increasingly strict sanctions by the UN Security Council, the United States, the European Union, South Korea and others.
Last year it carried out its sixth nuclear blast, by far its most powerful to date, while Kim and Trump traded threats of war and personal insults as tensions ramped up.
Even when there was an extended pause in testing, US officials said that it could not be interpreted as a halt without an explicit statement from Pyongyang.
South Korean envoys have previously cited Kim as promising no more tests, but Saturday’s news is the first such announcement directly by Pyongyang.
Analysts cautioned that while the declaration was welcome, Pyongyang appeared determined to retain its nuclear capability.
“Certainly this is a positive development,” said Daniel Pinkston of Troy University. “It’s a necessary but not sufficient step in North Korea returning to its past non-proliferation commitments.”
And Christopher Green of the International Crisis Group added on Twitter: “I don’t see how North Korean statement constitutes a step toward denuclearisation. It is a moratorium on testing, but recommits North Korea to nuclear weapons status.”
Japan – which has seen missiles fly over its territory – said it was not satisfied with Pyongyang’s pledge, pointing out North Korea did not mention the short- or medium-range missiles that put Tokyo within reach.
The formal declaration of an end to testing comes after Kim stated in his New Year speech that the development of North Korea’s nuclear force had been completed.
In the same address, he said he had a nuclear button on his desk, prompting Trump to tweet that he had a bigger one of his own.
Events have moved rapidly since then, catalysed by the Winter Olympics in the South, and Seoul is now pushing for a peace treaty to formally end the Korean War, raising hopes that a settlement can finally be reached on the peninsula.
But there is a long way to go and Moon himself acknowledged this week that the “devil is in the details”.
The US is seeking the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation of the North, while according to Moon, Pyongyang wants security guarantees, potentially leaving much space for disagreement.
The North has long demanded the withdrawal of US troops from the peninsula and an end to its nuclear umbrella over South Korea, something unthinkable in Washington.
But Kim told the Workers’ Party meeting: “A fresh climate of detente and peace is being created on the Korean peninsula and the region and dramatic changes are being made in the international political landscape.”
‘New strategic line’
For years, the impoverished North has pursued a “byungjin” policy of “simultaneous development” of both the military and the economy.
But the leader said that as it was now a powerful state, “the whole party and country” should concentrate on “socialist economic construction”, in what he called the party’s “new strategic line”.
Several factors have driven the Korean rapprochement, including the North feeling that it can now negotiate from a position of strength, concern about the belligerence of the Trump administration, and the looming impact of sanctions.
Former president Jacob Zuma has become a father again after a 24-year-old woman gave birth to his child in a Durban hospital last week.
News24 understands that the child was born at the Busamed Hillcrest Private Hospital last Thursday – Zuma’s birthday.
Zuma is a polygamist who has fathered 22 known children from at least 11 women.
Three independent sources confirmed to News24 that Zuma came to visit his baby under strict security on Thursday night. “They had to clear the maternity ward for other patients. Hospital staff made it clear that this was strictly confidential,” a source with direct knowledge of the birth told News24.
Ray Zuma, who is related to the former president, confirmed to News24 that Zuma was going to wed a woman named Nonkanyiso Chonco.
When asked if Chonco was the same woman who had given birth to a baby earlier this month, Ray Zuma responded by saying: “So?”
“I can’t see why you are interested. When he was still the president, you [the media] were terrorising him, and now you are all of a sudden interested in him.”
When asked about the details of the wedding, he said he was not privy to the details.
“No date has been set yet. Both families must come together to decide on the date. We are still in the pre-nuptial phases of the process.”
Zuma’s son Edward told News24, when asked about the baby: “We are not going to respond, or entertain any of that nonsense”.
When News24 visited the hospital earlier in the week, an employee confirmed that Zuma had visited the facility.
“Yes he was here last week. I saw him with his security. I do not know why he came through.”
But other sources confirmed the baby was Zuma’s. Hospital staff were briefed to keep it a closely guarded secret and only told “this is JZ’s child” and a “VIP delivery”.
Hillcrest Private Hospital management declined to comment saying they would not divulge details of any patient.
Nigerian forces battling Boko Haram jihadists need a change of mindset to overcome an evolving guerrilla threat, US military officials said this week on the sidelines of an African security summit.
Boko Haram’s tactics – from improvised explosive devices to hiding within the local population – necessitate a shift away from conventional strategies, said Lieutenant-Colonel Sean McClure, the US defence attache in Abuja.
“We haven’t necessarily seen that kind of adaptation cycle,” he told AFP. “They’re trying to figure out how to do this.
“How they think in terms of combat, in my opinion, is still thinking of things as conventional warfare.”
As the United States steps up its military presence in Africa, it hopes to share lessons learned in the Middle East with Nigeria and other countries in the Sahel fighting extremist groups.
The Sahel region is host to a string of Islamist groups including Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in Mali and Boko Haram in Nigeria and the wider Lake Chad area.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country with more than 180 million people, has been fighting Boko Haram since 2009 and has repeatedly claimed to have defeated the group.
Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Tukur Buratai, declared on Tuesday there was “no doubt Boko Haram terrorists have been defeated, they don’t have the capacity”.
But persistent attacks against soldiers and civilians, including a brazen new kidnapping of over 100 schoolgirls from the northeastern town of Dapchi on February 19, suggest otherwise.
Meanwhile, the emergence of an ISIS-allied faction of Boko Haram, whose strategy is to provide an alternative government for people living in the impoverished region, poses a new threat.
“It starts to become a very wicked problem,” McClure said.
At a military demonstration in Gwagwalada, a town on the outskirts of Abuja, Nigerian special forces performed a battle drill in front of Africa’s senior commanders.
Soldiers rappelled from helicopters as the midday sun blazed over the savannah, then the infantry moved in to liberate mock hostages from a compound.
But with Borno state, the centre of the Boko Haram conflict nearly twice the size of Belgium, Nigeria cannot rely on soldiers alone.
It also needs the support of the local population.
Buratai told the summit that winning the hearts and minds of people in the northeast has been a “big challenge”. Human intelligence has long been seen as vital to winning the war.
But rights groups have accused Nigeria’s military of killing, torturing and arbitrarily arresting thousands of civilians on suspicion of being Boko Haram members or sympathisers.
That has stoked tensions in a region already wary of the government and made people in hard-to-reach rural areas particularly reluctant to cooperate with the authorities.
“People thought the military action was aggressive to them, so this brought acrimony,” admitted Buratai but he added: “We have done a lot since then and the perception has changed.”
Human rights concerns
Similar tensions have been seen elsewhere in Nigeria in relation to separate threats, including over the military handling of protests by pro-Biafran separatists in the southeast.
Protests calling for the release of an imprisoned pro-Iranian Shiite Muslim cleric hung over the Abuja summit, again turning the attention to tactics and possible rights abuses.
Two days of protests on Monday and Tuesday saw at least 115 supporters of Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky arrested after running battles with police, who fired tear gas and water cannon.
Zakzaky, the head of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, has been in custody since December 2015 after troops attacked his supporters in the northern city of Zaria.
More than 300 were killed and buried in a mass grave, according to Amnesty International.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s government has launched a judicial panel to investigate allegations of human rights abuses in the military.
But experts warn any reform will take time – if it happens at all.
“It’s very difficult for the Nigerian army to overturn 50-plus years of a bad reputation,” said Yan St-Pierre, a counter-terrorism specialist at the Modern Security Consulting Group in Berlin.
“People are squeezed between a rock and a hard place. Some don’t feel comfortable with the army or Boko Haram,” he said, warning that “if the military doesn’t have popular support basically the insurgents will have it”.
Brazilian thieves disguised as workers made off with a shipment of cellphones worth $1m from Rio de Janeiro’s international airport, Globo television reported on Wednesday.
Globo broadcast what it said was security video footage of the men, wearing the uniforms usually used by cargo area employees, as they entered the area in Galeo International Airport on Sunday.
The gang, which was armed, was then believed to have hidden the shipment of Samsung Galaxy S9 phones in the Mare, a huge, nearby Rio favela, or impoverished community, the report said.
“The three criminals easily got into the cargo terminal and stole a million dollars’ worth of latest generation cellphones,” Globo quoted Venancio Moura, head of security for the Rio transport businesses’ union, as saying.
Police declined to comment on the reported incident, which would be only the latest in a near constant stream of brazen robberies by thieves targeting commercial cargos.
The most common targets are trucks, which are carjacked and forced to lawless favelas for pillaging.
President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday received two letters from Queen Elizabeth that the late former president Nelson Mandela had written.
The exchange took place during his visit to Windsor Castle.
“She was reminiscing about her relationship with Nelson Mandela, particularly on the year when we celebrate 100 years of his birth,” he said after the visit.
“She remembered very fondly the discussions she used to have with him. She also gave me two letters that he wrote to her, wonderful pieces of memorabilia.”
The letters marked South Africa’s re-entry to the Commonwealth in 1994, according to the Royal Family’s official Twitter account.
Ramaphosa is in the UK on a working visit to London to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, which will take place on Thursday and Friday.
He met with British Prime Minister Theresa May for a bilateral meeting and agreed on a deal worth £50m (R857m) to help South Africa improve its business environment.
“We focused largely on the economy and how our partnership between SA and the UK can be deepened around economic matters, the economic growth we are trying to drive,” Ramaphosa said.
He said May was “quite enthusiastic” about assisting and wanting to find ways in which to play a role.
Ramaphosa said they would be trawling “the whole world” to try and campaign for investments in South Africa.
President Cyril Ramaphosa pays a courtesy call on Her Majesty the Queen at the Windsor Castle during a working visit to London to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. (GCIS)
The Plateau State Police Command has arrested a commercial motorcycle rider, Stephen Gyang, for allegedly killing his girlfriend, Alice Samuel, and burying her remains in a shallow grave.
Gyang allegedly killed the victim for wanting to force her pregnancy on him.
The 20-year-old Junior Secondary School two dropout said he killed his girlfriend because she had initially said he was not responsible for the pregnancy.
He said she recanted on the prompting of her mother, who wanted him to take responsibility for the pregnancy.
The incident happened in Tahoss village, in the Riyom Local Government Area of Plateau State.
The state Commissioner of Police, Undie Adie, said it was a case of “culpable homicide”, adding that the suspect had confessed to the crime and would soon be charged to court.
Gyang, an okada rider, told PUNCH Metro that he reported the matter to his elder brother because he lost his peace after the incident.
He said, “Yes, Alice Samuel was my girlfriend and we had been together for some time now. I killed her because of the pregnancy. After saying the pregnancy was not for me, she recanted and said it was mine; that was why I killed her. I decided to bury her that night in a shallow grave that was to be used either for a pit toilet or well.
“After the incident, the spirit of Alice Samuel did not leave me; she started disturbing me and I had to report to my brother who took the matter to my father. My father thereafter reported my predicament to the village chief.”
His friend and accomplice, 20-year-old Kelly James, who was an eyewitness, told our correspondent that he begged Gyang not to kill the victim, but he refused.
He claimed that the prime suspect threatened to kill him if he (James) did not assist him.
James said, “I had been seeing him and the girl together for over three years now. He is my friend and the two of us are commercial motorcyclists. On that particular day, I had gone to see his girlfriend, who sold palm wine. After taking palm wine at her shop, I went to my friend’s house. When I discovered that he was not at home, I picked the house key where he usually kept it, opened the door and slept off in his room.
“When he returned home at night, he was not happy that I entered his house without informing him of my visit. While I was asleep, I heard a knock on the window and he informed me it was his girlfriend, Alice.
“When I asked him what brought the girl by that time of the night, he said she came to see him. He opened the back door for her and they started having a discussion behind the curtains.
“He called me outside that the girl had implicated him over a pregnancy which did not belong to him. He insisted that the girl’s mother asked her to do so. I told him that since he had accepted the pregnancy and the case was already in the palace of the village chief, he should allow her to be with her parents for now.
“But he said no, that he was going to deal with the girl by killing her. I advised him against it, warning that if he killed Alice, we would not be friends again. But he refused.
“I left him outside and went into the room. I started trembling on the bed as I feared the worst. He was talking to the girl and I thought he had decided against killing her.
“Suddenly, I heard the sound of two legs on the ground, which suggested that she was struggling for life. I stood up and saw that he held the girl’s neck to the wall; he had strangled her and her eyes were already white. As I told him to leave the girl, he threatened to kill me if I did not assist him to cover up.”
Source: The Punch
Pope Francis told the faithful in St. Peter’s Square that he is “deeply disturbed” by the international community’s failure to come up with a common response to the crisis in Syria and other parts of the world.
“Despite the tools available to the international community, it is difficult to agree on a common action toward peace in Syria or other regions of the world,” the pope told a crowd of 30,000 after his traditional Sunday blessing.
Francis called on “all people of goodwill” to join him in praying for peace, and appealed to political leaders to help “justice prevail.”
The pope spoke after airstrikes by the United States, France and Britain aimed at taking out Syria’s chemical weapons capacity. That followed a suspected poison gas attack by Syrian government forces on a rebel-held Damascus suburb that killed dozens, including children.
The suffering in Syria has been top among the pope’s concerns. Francis last Sunday said “nothing can justify” the use of chemical weapons and called for negotiations.
“There is not a good or a bad war, and nothing can justify such instruments that exterminate defenseless people and populations,” the pope said. “Let’s pray that the responsible politicians and military leaders choose another path: that of negotiations, the only one that can bring peace.”
The Syrian army on Saturday declared that all anti-regime forces had left Eastern Ghouta, nearly two months into a blistering offensive on the rebel enclave.
“All terrorists have left Douma, the last of their holdouts in Eastern Ghouta,” state news agency SANA quoted an army spokesman as saying, using the regime’s usual term for rebels.
“Areas of Eastern Ghouta in rural Damascus have been fully cleansed of terrorism,” an army spokesman also said in a statement delivered on state television.
The announcement comes after a massive assault launched by Syrian government and allied forces on February 18 to retake the enclave, which has been out of regime control since 2012.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, at least 1,700 civilians have been killed in bombardment on the enclave in just under two months.
Douma is the main town in what at the start of the year was a sprawling semi-rural area just east of Damascus, home to almost 400,000 inhabitants.
The regime has been accused of carrying out a chemical weapons attack last week on Douma, the final part of the enclave where rebels were balking at a Russian-brokered deal to evacuate them to northern Syria.
The United States, France and Britain responded Saturday with pre-dawn strikes on alleged regime chemical weapons sites.
Source: Guardian News
Nine people have been arrested after 15 people were killed when armed men attacked two banks and a police station in central Nigeria, police said on Friday.
The gang struck in broad daylight in a busy commercial district in Offa, Kwara state, on April 6, opening fire indiscriminately as they made off with the looted cash.
Federal police spokesman Jimoh Moshood said the arrests were made during “massive raids” in Offa and the southwest, which saw a shoot-out between officers and suspects.
Those detained include the alleged mastermind of the attack, he added. Two pistols, ammunition and mobile phones belonging to some of the victims were recovered, he said.
Nigeria’s government is facing a number of security threats across the country, including gang violence which has been linked to kidnapping and cattle rustling in northern states.
Shortly before 17:00 on Saturday, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela reached her final earthly destination as her coffin was lowered into the grave next to that of her great-granddaughter in Fourways Memorial Park Cemetery.
Her daughters Zenani Mandela-Dlamini and Zindzi Mandela each put a bouquet of white flowers on the coffin after it was lowered.
During the ceremony they sat next to each other, flanked by President Cyril Ramaphosa and his deputy David Mabuza.
The private ceremony was attended by family, dignitaries and struggle comrades. Several prayers were said. A military bugle player sounded The Last Post and the Reveille.
General Thanduxolo Mandela said a word of thanks on behalf of the family. He also thanked everyone who attended the service in Orlando Stadium, specifically the community of Soweto, which Madikizela-Mandela was a part of.
He said the family felt honoured by the heads of state – Denis Sassou Nguesso, president of the Republic of Congo, and Namibian president Hage Geingob – who attended the service and delivered speeches.
After the completion of the official state funeral service – which included speeches by Ramaphosa, EFF leader Julius Malema and Mandela-Dlamini in the Orlando Stadium, the casket was loaded into the hearse, surrounded by sobbing supporters.
The procession moved to Fourways, where members of the public braved the rain to line the street to catch a glimpse of the hearse. Many have been waiting there for hours, singing struggle songs. Most of the women wore doeks.
The crowd outside the cemetery cheered and ululated as the military personnel arrived at the cemetery. This reached a crescendo as the procession, led by police motorcycles, arrived.
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s coffin is taken from the Orlando stadium during her funeral service in Soweto, South Africa April 14, 2018.
People pay their respects as Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s funeral cortege leaves for the burial site after her funeral service in Soweto, South Africa April 14, 2018.
Three presidents will pay their respects at the funeral of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela on Saturday.
President Cyril Ramaphosa will deliver the eulogy, while president of the Republic of Congo Denis Sassou Nguesso, and Namibian president Hage Geingob are also expected to give speeches.
Other speakers expected at the state funeral include Madikizela-Mandela’s daughters, Zindzi Mandela and Zenani Mandela-Dlamini.
There will also be tributes by Madikizela-Mandela’s sisters and one of her grandchildren, Zondwa Mandela. Madikizela-Mandela’s granddaughter Swati Dlamini-Mandela will read the obituary.
EFF leader Julius Malema is also expected to speak, while Fikile Mbalula will speak on behalf of the ANC as will Bathabile Dlamini in her capacity as leader of the ANC Women’s League.
Another politician, Energy Minister Jeff Radebe, will deliver a tribute on behalf of the extended family. Gauteng Premier David Makhura will welcome the mourners at the ceremony.
The AbaThembu Prince Azenathi Dalindyebo will deliver a royal address and Zukiswa Madikizela will pay tribute on behalf of the Madikizela family.
Among the expected musical performers are Thandiswa Mazwai and Sipho Hotstix Mabuza.
The funeral service at the Orlando Stadium is scheduled to start at 09:00 and is expected to finish at 13:00, after which a military ceremony will take place before the procession moves to the Fourways Memorial Park.
3 presidents to pay their respects to Mama Winnie
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