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Opposition leader mulls amnesty for Nigeria’s corrupt elites if elected

Critics of the proposal say it would only serve as a payback to his corrupt friends.

News Central



Presidential candidate of Nigeria's opposition party Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Atiku Abubakar, followed by Vice Presidential candidate Peter Obi - AFP

NFrontline opposition candidate in Nigeria’s February 16 presidential polls, Atiku Abubakar has canvassed an amnesty programme for corrupt persons who return their loot to the public treasury, if he wins.

Abubakar who is the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, while speaking at a debate-styled townhall meeting in the nation’s capital, Abuja late Wednesday said it was a more realistic way of solving Nigeria’s corruption challenges. 

He said such recovered funds would be invested in the country to grow the economy and create jobs.

“Why not? I give you an example of Turkey. Turkey gave amnesty and all the money taken abroad were brought back.

“The government said when you bring the money back, you don’t need to pay taxes; invest in manufacturing, technology and real estate. And look at Turkey today, it is like any other European country,” Abubakar, who is also a businessman, disclosed.

He said automation in the public sector would reduce corruption as technology would be used so as to reduce personal contacts which fuels corruption.

“On the issue of corruption, we can use punitive and preventive measures. We should be able to introduce technology in the private and public sectors so that relationship between government and members of the public is not personal.” Abubakar said. 

The opposition candidate has constantly positioned himself as the best for the Nigerian Presidency, promising to use his knowledge of the business environment, contacts with international investors and vast political network to boost Nigeria’s fledgling economy which has slowed due to falling oil prices, a rising inflation and reduced foreign direct investment.

In trying to key into Abubakar’s promise of a business-like government, his Vice Presidential candidate, Peter Obi who also answered questions at the live televised townhall meeting swiftly sanctioned the amnesty proposal.

“Is it not better to have an amnesty to bring money and use the money to create jobs than for looters to join another party and it becomes a safe haven and you can keep the money?,” Obi said in an apparent jibe at President Muhammadu Buhari’s ruling All Progressives Congress which had received top politicians defecting to the party in recent times.

Obi himself is a former bank manager and ex-governor of the southeastern state of Anambra who is seen as offering a fresh impetus to Abubakar’s desire to court the business community to support the presidential ticket. 

The duo have in the past weeks held meetings with captains of industry, young entrepreneurs and unemployed youths where they promised to build a “digital economy.”

Critics of the amnesty proposal say it would only serve as a payback to his corrupt friends, if Abubakar is elected. They say Abubakar himself had been accused of huge corruption by his former principal while he served as Nigeria’s vice president between 1999 and 2007.

“What I did not know, which came out glaringly later, was his parental background which was somewhat shadowy, his propensity to corruption, his tendency to disloyalty, his inability to say and stick to the truth all the time,a propensity for poor judgment, his belief and reliance on marabouts , his lack of transparency, his trust in money to buy his way out on all issues and his readiness to sacrifice morality, integrity, propriety truth and national interest for self and selfish interest”, former President Olusegun Obasanjo had said, of Abubakar, in his book “My Watch”. 

Obasanjo recently endorsed Abubakar, saying he had forgiven his former deputy.

Observers of Abubakar’s recent campaign rhetoric that he would sell Nigeria’s state-owned oil company or NNPC and other national assets to “my friends” have described his capitalist-driven ideologies as inconsistent with his earlier opposition to Buhari’s plan to sell the government’s shares at the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas, NLNG in 2017 as part of measures then to boost the country’s income to fund the federal budget for that year.

The presidential election holds on February 16 with incumbent Buhari and Atiku seen as major challengers.

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East Africa News & Stories

Court in Kenya convicts 3 over involvement in Garissa massacre

The Garissa massacre was the second-bloodiest terror attack in Kenya’s history

News Central



Court in Kenya convicts 3 over Garissa massacre | News Central TV
Suspects Hassan Aden Hassan, Mohamed Ali Abdikar, Rashid Charles Mberesero and Sahal Diriye sit in the dock as they wait for the verdict where they were charged with helping those who carried out the attack on Garissa University in 2015; at the Milimani Law Courts in Nairobi, Kenya June 19, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

A Nairobi court on Wednesday found three men guilty of abetting Somali jihadists who carried out a 2015 attack on Garissa University in northeast Kenya in which 148 people were killed.

A fourth individual was acquitted, Judge Francis Andayi said, adding that sentencing will be handed down on July 3.

The April 2, 2015 attack was carried out by four gunmen from Al-Shabaab, a Somali jihadist group linked to Al-Qaeda.

Firing their weapons, they stormed the students’ hall of residence at dawn.  

They first separated the victims according to their religion, letting Muslims go but keeping and then killing the others, most of whom were Christians.

It was the second-bloodiest terror attack in Kenya’s history, surpassed only by al-Qaeda’s bombing of the US embassy in Nairobi in 1998 that killed 213 people.

Andayi said the three — Kenyans Mohamed Ali Abikar, Hassan Aden Hassan and Rashid Charles Mberesero, a Tanzanian — “were members of the Al-Shabaab terrorist group whose members carried out the attack”.

Prosecutors had proven “beyond reasonable doubt” that they were involved in a conspiracy for “committing a terrorist act,” he said.

A fourth person, Sahal Diriye Hussein, was acquitted. In January, the court also acquitted a university guard who was accused of taking pictures during the assault — an allegation for which no evidence had been produced, the judge found.

During the trial, prosecutors placed 22 witnesses on the stand, most of them student survivors.

They also showed evidence that the three had been in contact with the gunmen, especially by telephone.

Mberesero, the Tanzanian, had been also been seen on the university campus three days before the attack, and on the day of the attack itself had been found under a bed in the hall of residence and was unable to explain why he was there, prosecutors said.

The three convictions are the first to result from a long-running investigation and prosecution.

All four gunmen were killed by security forces. The operation’s suspected ringleader, Mohamed Mohamud, also named “Kuno,” a former professor at a Koranic school in Garissa, was killed in southwestern Somalia in 2016.

The Shabaab said he had been killed by “US crusaders”.

Ruthless jihadists –

The Shabaab were chased out of Mogadishu in 2011 by the 22,000-strong African Union peace-enforcement mission, AMISOM.

They nevertheless control vast rural areas and remain the key threat to peace in Somalia. 

The group is fighting to overthrow the internationally backed government in Mogadishu but also regularly carries out attacks in neighbouring Kenya, which has troops in Somalia as part of AMISOM.

In September 2013, the Shabaab claimed responsibility for a dramatic raid on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi that killed 67 people over a four-day siege.

In June-July 2014 around 100 people were killed in raids in the coastal Lamu region in Kenya’s northeast, home of a once-popular tourist island.

In January 2016, the Shabaab overran a Kenyan army outpost at El-Adde in southern Somalia. Some estimates say that as many as 180 soldiers died.

And on January 15 this year, 21 people were killed and 28 injured when five Shabaab gunmen attacked the DusitD2 hotel and office complex in Nairobi.

The security response to Garissa was strongly criticised by many Kenyans. 

It took 16 hours for a special anti-terror unit to bring the attack to an end, their deployment slowed by a senior police officer who had commandeered the force’s plane for a family excursion.

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East Africa News & Stories

United States to ban corrupt Kenyans from entering country

“You cannot allow somebody to steal Sh20 billion and fine them Sh10 billion.” -McCarter



United States to ban corrupt Kenyans from entering country
(File photo)

Kenyans who have been implicated in corruption will not be granted entry into the United States, Ambassador Kyle McCarter has announced.

Speaking in Nairobi on Saturday, McCarter also said that their children and kin will not be allowed to travel or study in the US.

While speaking during the Junior Achievement Organization 100 year’s celebration, McCarter said that it is quite unfortunate that top government officials went unpunished after embezzling billions of shillings, while ordinary Kenyans are jailed over petty offenses.

“You cannot allow somebody to steal Sh20 billion and fine them Sh10 billion. We deal with thieves in a very brutal way, not even according to the law,” said McCarter.

“Somehow, we tolerate the theft of billions in Kenya. If we stop tolerating thievery, Kenya will be a shining star for democracy and prosperity in Africa.”

The ambassador further said that corruption prevents the country from achieving its development goals, including President Uhuru’s big four agenda.

“The cost of this is the same cost ironically as the Big Four. It could become a reality if we got rid of thievery.”

McCarter assured that Kenyan authorities had the full support of the US government in the fight against graft.

He also decried the high level of unemployment in the country and the slow growth of Kenya’s economy.

“We have a group of young people that are bitter and if we do not do anything, other people will employ them to harm,” McCarter added. 

US ambassador Kyle McCarter has been outspoken in his condemnation of what he has called “thievery”.

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North Africa

Turkey’s Erdogan claims ex-Egyptian president was killed

“Mohammed Morsi was on the ground of courtroom flailing for 20 minutes. The officials present there failed to intervene.” -Erdogan



Turkey's Erdogan claims ex-Egyptian president was killed
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Serhat Cagdas / Anadolu Agency

Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has claimed that Egypt’s former president, Mohammed Morsi, who collapsed in court and later died, did not die of natural causes but that he was killed.

Erdogan, while giving a speech in Istanbul, cited as evidence that the deposed Egyptian president allegedly “flailed” in a Cairo courtroom for 20 minutes on Monday and nobody came to his assistance.

On Wednesday, the Turkish president said: “Unfortunately, Mohammed Morsi was on the ground of courtroom flailing for 20 minutes. The officials present there failed to intervene. Morsi did not (die) naturally, he was killed.”

Erdogan said his country would do everything in its power to ensure Egypt faces trial in Morsi’s death. He also called on the Islamic Cooperation Organization to “take the necessary action” over the death of Morsi.

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