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Nigeria: Anti-graft officials arrest defeated candidate’s son-in-law for alleged money laundering

The sum involved is 150 million euros ($169 million)

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A bus decorated with campaign posters bearing images of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party election candidate Atiku Abubakar

Nigerian anti-corruption investigators have arrested a relative of the runner-up in Nigeria’s presidential elections as well as the candidate’s lawyer, sources said on Monday.

Alhaji Babalele Abdullahi, a son-in-law to Atiku Abubakar who was defeated in the February 23 polls, “is being investigated over an alleged case of money laundering,” an official at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said, speaking under condition of anonymity. 

“The sum involved is 150 million euros ($169 million),” he claimed. 

Abdullahi, who was also director of finance for Abubakar’s presidential campaign, was arrested at his home in the capital Abuja on Saturday, the source said. 

Meanwhile, Abubakar’s lawyer, Uyi Osagie, was arrested on February 18 by the EFCC, who raided his home in Lagos and found sums of cash, said Boladele Adekoya, a spokesperson for Abubakar’s campaign.

“It is part of an orchestrated campaign to intimidate Atiku Abubakar,” Adekoya charged. 

The agency said he was being investigated but did not confirm his detention or give details about any charges.

In a statement posted on his Twitter page, Abubakar said his son-in-law and lawyer were “paying the price for supporting me.”

“I urge those now persecuting them to remember that a government’s mandate is to pursue peace and justice for all, and not just those who support them,” he added. 

The arrests come on the heels of a tense election that saw President Muhammadu Buhari re-elected for a second term. 

Abubakar refused to concede defeat after the result was announced last Wednesday, denouncing the vote as a “sham election” and vowing to challenge it in court. 

His Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has accused the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) of vote-rigging and “widespread manipulation” in the elections.  

Nigeria’s electoral body delayed the vote by a week, just hours before polls were to open on February 16.

The Independent National Electoral Commission blamed the delay on logistical challenges, yet both parties criticised the decision, warning of attempts to rig the vote. 

The rescheduled election saw Buhari win comfortably, gaining 15.2 million votes (56 percent) to Abubakar’s 11.2 million (41 percent). 

Observers said the vote outcome was credible although it was marred by violence, including 53 deaths, according to the Situation Room, an umbrella group of more than 70 civil society groups that monitored polling. 

There were also widespread reports of intimidation of voters and election officials. 

Voters will be called out again on Saturday, for governorship and state assembly elections. 

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5 killed in a rap concert in Algeria

Seven people who were still in hospital in a critical condition

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Stadium where five young people were killed and dozens more injured

Five young people were killed and dozens more injured in a stampede at a packed rap concert in the Algerian capital, a spokesman for rescue services said Friday. The stampede took place Thursday night as fans thronged an entrance of the August-20 Stadium where rapper Soolking was to perform.

The 29-year-old has won a huge number of fans in the country, his song “La Liberte” becoming a mainstay of anti-government protests that enter their seventh month on Friday.

Captain Nassim Bernaoui of the civil protection unit told reporters there were five killed in the crush: “two young girls aged 19 and 22 and three boys aged 13, 21 and 16.”

five young people were killed and dozens more injured in a stampede at a packed rap concert
A picture shows on August 23, 2019, the exterior of Algiers’ August-20 Stadium where five young people were killed and dozens more injured in a stampede at a packed rap concert the previous night. – The stampede took place as fans thronged an entrance of the stadium where rapper Soolking was to perform. AFP there were five victims of the crush: “two young girls aged 19 and 22 and three boys aged 13, 21 and 16.” (Photo by RYAD KRAMDI / AFP)

Similar News: Protests in Algeria force resignation of lower parliament speaker

Dozens of people were lightly injured, Bernaoui said, 86 of whom were treated on the spot with another 32 taken to hospital. Eight others were transferred to the Mustapha Pacha hospital in Algiers in critical condition, he added.

A medic, who asked to remain anonymous, later said seven people were still in hospital in a critical condition, without giving details on the eighth. In front of the hospital, Ahmed Kadi had red eyes as he waited to collect the body of his 18-year-old daughter Chourouk.

“I didn’t even know that my wife and my daughter had gone to the concert,” he said, holding back tears. They had been separated in the stampede. “The organisers did their job badly,” he said.

Nearby, Abderezak accompanied his friend Rachid Kadri as he collected the body of his 19-year-old daughter Chiraz. “Chiraz wasn’t planning to go but as she had passed her high school exams, her father wanted to give her a present and let her go with her friends,” he said.

“It’s criminal to organise a concert like that at the August-20 Stadium,” he added. According to APS, the incident took place at around 1900 GMT, adding that the concert went ahead as planned but with a 30-minute delay.

 flyers of rapper Soolking lying on the ground outside Algiers' August-20 Stadium
A picture shows on August 23, 2019, flyers of rapper Soolking lying on the ground outside Algiers’ August-20 Stadium where five young people were killed and dozens more injured in a stampede at a packed concert by the musician the previous night. – The stampede took place as fans thronged an entrance of the stadium where rapper Soolking was to perform. AFP there were five victims of the crush: “two young girls aged 19 and 22 and three boys aged 13, 21 and 16.” (Photo by RYAD KRAMDI / AFP)

Similar Story: French police arrest 282 in riotous celebrations after Algeria football win

Algerian journalist Akram Kharief said thousands of fans began gathering outside the stadium from mid-afternoon. More than 30,000 people were estimated to have attended the concert, he reported.

“There were only four small entrances allowing people to enter one at a time,” Kharief said. “This caused a stampede… and people fell” as they pushed to get inside before the start of the concert, he added.

Four concert-goers contacted separately, who were already inside the stadium when the stampede took place, said they had not been informed about it. They said that when they left the venue at around midnight, no rescue services were visible.

The Algiers prosecutor’s office said Friday that it had opened an investigation into the “painful accident” and would identify those responsibly.

Stadium where five young people were killed and dozens more injured
A picture shows on August 23, 2019, Algiers’ August-20 Stadium where five young people were killed and dozens more injured in a stampede at a packed rap concert the previous night. – The stampede took place as fans thronged an entrance of the stadium where rapper Soolking was to perform. AFP there were five victims of the crush: “two young girls aged 19 and 22 and three boys aged 13, 21 and 16.” (Photo by RYAD KRAMDI / AFP)

France-based Soolking, whose given name is Abderraouf Derradji, shot to stardom last year and was to perform just a single concert in his home country Algeria. He dedicated the song “La Liberte” to protesters engaged in months of anti-government demonstrations.

Algerians launched the unprecedented protest movement in February, initially against a bid by veteran President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to seek a fifth term in office.

Bouteflika eventually resigned in the face of mass protests but the movement has not let up, continuing to rally weekly on Fridays to demand a complete overhaul of the political system.

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Mali’s new mining rules end tax exemptions

The regulatory change seeks to bring a “substantial increase” in the contribution of the mining sector

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New Mali mining law removes tax exemption

Mining companies operating in Mali will no longer be exempt from value-added tax during production and will only be protected from fiscal changes for a shorter period.

The regulatory change seeks to redress the “shortcomings” of a 2012 law by bringing a “substantial increase” in the contribution of the mining sector to the economy, the Mines Ministry said in a statement.

However, some industry watchers view the code change as a new instance of so-called “resource nationalism” and will likely spark tensions between the Malian government and mining companies.

Mali is currently Africa’s third-largest gold producer.

The regulation shortens the “stability period” during which mining companies’ existing investments are protected from changes to fiscal and customs regimes.

Changes to regulatory stability clauses have been strongly opposed by international mining companies elsewhere in Africa, most notably in the Democratic Republic of Congo where miners spent months at loggerheads with the government.

Under Mali’s previous law, stability was ensured for 30 years. It was however not made clear what the length of the new stability period would be, but the Economy Ministry said last year that the government aimed to reduce those protections to the lifespan of a mine.

“It’s the reality of the playing field at the moment, a lot of companies in Mali will have looked at what happened in DRC and Tanzania and they will have to be very cautious,” said Warren Beech, partner and head of mining at Eversheds Sutherland in Johannesburg.

Mali’s government had been negotiating with a working group of mining companies to draft a new code but said last year that it would move to implement a new law unilaterally if no compromise was reached.

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South Africa’s openly HIV-positive judge retires

Edwin Cameron, 66, won widespread praise for spearheading the fight for people with HIV two decades ago

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South Africa's openly HIV-positive judge retires
Edwin Cameron. (AFP)

A South African Constitutional Court judge and gay rights activist who openly disclosed his HIV status retired on Tuesday.

Edwin Cameron, 66, who hung up his gown after 25 years of serving as a judge, won widespread praise for spearheading the fight for people with HIV two decades ago when the infection rapidly spread under what he called the “AIDS denialism” of the then South African President, Thabo Mbeki.

He revealed his status in 1999 more than a decade after he contracted the virus.

He stirred up the 2000 International AIDS Conference in Durban with a speech detailing his own infection and how he was fortunate to be able to afford to buy antiretrovirals when treatment was so expensive and only accessible to the well-heeled.

“I have survived a pandemic many have perished living under,” he said at a special Constitutional Court sitting held in his honour in Johannesburg.

South Africa has one of the highest rates of HIV infection in the world — 19 per cent according to the UN AIDS agency — with more than seven million people living with the virus.

The country now has the largest state-sponsored anti-retroviral programme in the world, serving 2.5 million people.

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng paid tribute to Cameron as “a brave and bold man” and for his catalytic role in mobilising authorities to roll out a mass ARV programme.

“When HIV and AIDS attracted stigma, he stood up and declared openly: ‘I am HIV positive’.”

“He could have chosen to mind his own business and care less about (others but) for the sake of the suffering masses, he not only spoke, but he acted.”

Openly gay, Cameron “helped secure the express inclusion of sexual orientation in the South African Constitution,” according to his official profile.

In 2006, South Africa became the sole African nation to allow gay marriage and it has become a haven for African homosexuals who flee persecution at home.

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