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Church attacked and burnt down over imam arrest in Niger

Witnesses said that late Saturday youths set up roadblocks and burned tyres in the streets of Niger’s third largest city

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Protesters torched a church overnight in the southern Niger city of Maradi after the arrest of a prominent imam who was subsequently freed Sunday, religious and security sources said. Sheikh Rayadoune, the imam of the Zaria mosque in Maradi, was detained Saturday after criticising a proposed law on religious worship as “anti-Islam” a day earlier.

He has appealed to his supporters to end the unrest. The group behind the church attack also burned the pastor’s car, a church official said in a WhatsApp message to parishioners that were sent to journalists.

A local security source confirmed the incident in Maradi’s working-class district of Zaria. Witnesses said that late Saturday youths set up roadblocks and burned tyres in the streets of Niger’s third largest city as news of the imam’s arrest spread.

A police source said that Sheikh Rayadoune had been released Sunday afternoon, adding: “He has acknowledged his mistake and has apologised.” Shortly before his release, the imam published a statement appealing for calm.

“All my supporters must stop burning things and making trouble in town: Islam does not recommend that I have in no way been mistreated by police,” the message said. The imam said he had read a bad translation of the draft law, which had been transcribed from French into Hausa, Niger’s main language.

He added that he would rectify his position at Friday prayers.

Law not ‘anti-Islam

A top interior ministry official said the legislation, designed to lay down official guidelines on worship, was “the fruit of many consultations…There’s nothing anti-Islam in the text.”He said it was aimed at preventing “anarchy and the distortions promoted by obscurantist terrorist groups to gain ground in our country.”

The government adopted a draft bill in late April, saying there was a “total absence of norms” regarding worship in Niger while fundamentalist and extremist tendencies were on the rise.

“To head off risks of abuse seen in other countries … it is vital the state gives itself the means to control practices in the religious sphere,” the statement added. Parliament still has to vote through the text before it becomes law. Niger has experienced several bouts of religious strife in recent years.

Following the publication of cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed in French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo in 2015 ten people were killed in anti-Christian riots in Niamey. Several churches were destroyed in the capital and second city Zinder.

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19 die from road accident in Nigeria

The accident occurred late Sunday at Dinyar Madiga village, 85 kilometres (52 miles) from Kano, Nigeria’s second largest city

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19 die from road accident in Nigeria
(File photo)

Nineteen people were killed when four vehicles collided on a busy road in northern Nigeria’s Kano state, a road safety official said Monday.

The accident occurred late Sunday at Dinyar Madiga village, 85 kilometres (52 miles) from Kano, the state capital, said Zubairu Mato of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC).

“A total of 19 people died in the accident involving four vehicles, including two buses and two cars,” Mato said, adding that seven others were seriously injured.

“The speeding vehicles collided while trying to dodge potholes,” he said.  

Accidents are common on Nigeria’s poorly maintained roads, caused majorly by reckless driving, speeding, and disregard for traffic rules.

In April, 19 wedding guests were killed in nearby Jigawa state when their overloaded bus skidded off the road and crashed after a tyre burst.

READ: Horror: Road accident kills 19 wedding guests in Nigeria, 21 injured

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Botswana’s government will appeal ruling decriminalising homosexuality

The government’s chief legal advisor, said he would take the case to the court of appeals

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Activists leave Botswana High Court in Gaborone

Botswana’s government will appeal a June high court ruling that decriminalised homosexuality, the attorney-general said Friday.

Abraham Keetshabe, the government’s chief legal advisor, said he would take the case to the court of appeals after reading the 132-page ruling of the high court, which he said had “erred in arriving at (its) conclusion”.

Under Botswana’s 1965 penal code, homosexuality is punishable by a jail term of up to seven years.

But high court judge Michael Elburu ordered the laws be amended in a June 11 ruling that was widely hailed.

“We say the time has come that private, same sexuality must be decriminalised,” Elburu said. “It is a variety of human sexuality.”

The judge’s ruling was welcomed by the UN agency UNAIDS, the United States, and rights groups.

In May, Kenya’s high court upheld laws against same-sex relations, shocking activists campaigning to roll back anti-gay laws and stigma still widespread in Africa.

At present, 28 out of 49 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including Botswana, have laws penalising same-sex relationships, according to Human Rights Watch.

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Petrol pipeline fire kills two in Nigeria

The inferno was caused by vandals who broke open a state-run pipeline in order to steal petrol -Emergency official

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Petrol pipeline fire kills two in Nigeria
TEMILADE ADELAJA: REUTERS

Two people were killed and over 30 vehicles burnt on Thursday after thieves breached a fuel pipeline in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub, causing an explosion, emergency services said.

The incident, which happened in the early hours in the Ijegun area, is the latest in a long string of such accidents.

“We have recovered two burnt bodies and rescued eight others with severe burns,” Lagos State Emergency Mangement Agency (LASEMA) head Femi Osanyintolu told reporters.

He said more than 30 vehicles caught fire.

The inferno was caused by vandals who broke open a state-run pipeline in order to steal petrol, he said.

Security agents intercepted the thieves as they were transferring the petrol to their trucks, Osanyintolu said.

“In a bid to escape arrest, the vandals spilled some of the petrol into drainages and set it on fire,” he said.

“The fire then spread back to the point where the vandals had siphoned the fuel and exploded,” he said.

Osanyintolu said firefighters were battling to put out the inferno, adding that the toll might rise further.

Ibrahim Farinloye, spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), told reporters the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), which owns the pipeline, had been informed.

“Vandals are responsible for the incident and some of them are affected in the inferno,” he said. 

He said the area had been cordoned off, and called on the NNPC to shut down the pipeline to cut off the fire.

Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer and exporter, runs a network of pipelines that transport crude and petrol across the vast nation.

Hundreds of lives have been lost in recent years from fuel theft that culminates in a fire or explosion.

On Monday, at least 45 people were killed and more than 100 injured in Ahumbe, in the central state of Benue, when a petrol tanker crashed and then exploded as a crowd gathered to scoop leaking fuel.

Related: Fuel tanker blast kills 10 in Nigeria

In June, at least 30 people were killed in a petrol tanker fire in southern Rivers state.

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