Saturday, 31 March 2018

Senate President Bukola Saraki joins presidential race, considering Ekweremadu as running mate - Report

Senate President Bukola Saraki has joined the 2019 Presidential race and he is considering the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, as his running mate, media mogul Dele Momodu has revealed in an exclusive report.

Momodu disclosed this in a lengthy statement on his ‘Boss Newspaper’.

The statement read in part: “The Boss can exclusively reveal that Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki has joined the 2019 Presidential race.

“There is no doubt that he would be a formidable force that should not be ignored because only few politicians in Nigeria today have the pedigree, the experience, the clout and the connection of Senator Saraki.

“Impeccable sources reveal that as he plots his move for the Presidency, he is said to be considering building alliances with all Nigerians of like minds.

“He is also considering using the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu as his running mate. Having already exhibited the ability to work seamlessly with politicians from the two main political parties, it is a path he can easily thread.

“Having risen to the enviable position of the number three citizen, the only place to go for the two-term Senator and former two-term governor is up! Indeed, Saraki is not new to the dynamics of power politics, he is the scion of a political dynasty that is well-known across the nation.

“He has all the criteria that a modern Nigerian president should have, he is tall, urbane, suave, charismatic, cool and collected. But behind this charm, is a man of steel who is never afraid to pursue causes that he feels are right and just.

“Saraki is one of those rare breeds who is street smart as well as book smart. This was evident when he steered his political path away from his father, and triumphed without breaking up the family or the people’s faith in his leadership abilities.

“Those who know, say he is counting on his youthfulness and ability to connect with the youths and his strategy will be to spread the “I am one of you” message and show his track record of working with young technocrats and turning them into prolific achievers.

“Of course, like everything in life, Saraki would have to navigate through thorny paths to reach the Presidential Villa, he surely has many challenges ahead.

“The most important challenge, according to our source, is the perception that he is corrupt. This has been a damaging blow to his profile, little wonder that Saraki has not taken this allegation lying down.

“His father, the late Oloye, Dr. Olusola Saraki was a revered politician. He not only rose to become the Senate Leader of Nigeria under the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), but was the Chief Strategist and King Maker of Kwara Politics.

“Before politics, he was in the corporate world, working in the family-owned Societe-Generale Bank (SGBN) . Though his enemies will say he ran the bank aground and some even say, he emptied the bank vault to run for Governor, it was to his credit that after its demise, he insisted that the bank was solid and was closed down in error.”

Trump blasts California governor for pardoning 5 immigrants facing deportation

President Donald Trump blasted California Gov. Jerry Brown on Saturday for his pardon of five ex-convicts facing deportation, including two who fled the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia with their families four decades ago.

In a tweet , Trump referred to Brown as "Moonbeam," referencing a nickname a newspaper columnist coined for him in the 1970s. Trump then listed the ex-convicts' crimes before they were pardoned Friday. They include misdemeanor domestic violence, drug possession, and kidnapping and robbery.

Trump wrote: "Is this really what the great people of California want?"

A spokesman for Brown responded to a request for comment with more information about the five men but did not directly address Trump's criticism.

In a news release about the pardons on Friday, the governor's office said that "those granted pardons all completed their sentences years ago and the majority were convicted of drug-related or other non-violent crimes."

"Pardons are not granted unless they are earned," the governor's office said.

Brown's pardons marked the third time the Democrat has intervened on behalf of immigrants who were deported or faced deportation over convictions. Brown has accused the Trump administration of "basically going to war" with California over immigration policy.

Brown's pardons don't automatically stop deportation proceedings, but eliminate the convictions on which authorities based their deportation.

Trump has been criticized for his own pardon, that of former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted last year of a misdemeanor contempt charge for flouting the courts in carrying out his signature immigration patrols.

Trump's pardon spared Arpaio from a possible jail sentence. The 85-year-old longtime lawman announced a run for Senate in January.

Those pardoned Friday by Brown included Sokha Chhan and Phann Pheach, who face deportation to Cambodia, a country ruled in the 1970s by the genocidal Khmer Rouge. Chhan was convicted of two counts of misdemeanor domestic violence in 2002 and served about a year in jail.

Pheach was convicted of possessing drugs and obstructing a police officer in 2005 and served six months in jail. His wife said he is in federal custody.

Also pardoned was Daniel Maher, who served five years in prison stemming from the 1994 armed robbery of a San Jose auto parts store. He was convicted of kidnapping, robbery and being a felon in possession of a firearm in the case.

Maher is facing deportation to China, where he has never lived. Maher is from Macau, which became part of China after his family immigrated to California when he was 3.

Also pardoned while facing deportation were Daniel Mena and Francisco Acevedo Alaniz. Mena served three years of probation after being convicted of possessing illegal drugs in 2003. Alaniz served five months in prison for a 1997 car theft conviction.

The governor is a former Jesuit seminarian and traditionally issues pardons close to major Christian holidays. Easter falls on Sunday.

California's longest-serving governor has now issued 1,519 pardons, including 404 during his first two terms as governor from 1975 to 1983.

Herdsmen killings: We can shut this government down - Pastor Bakare tells Buhari

Tunde Bakare, pastor of the Latter Rain Assembly, says Nigerians can shut down the government as a result of herdsmen killings in recent times.

Bakare spoke on the sidelines of “the real cost of subsidy”, an event organised by Enough is Enough, a coalition of youth advocacy groups.

He said the order by the inspector general of police for vigilante groups and weapon-bearing individuals to surrender “illegal firearm” should apply to all including the herdsmen.

“This is why I said this government is compromised completely,” he said.

“If you are making such a rule, let it be a statute of general application, let it apply to all. Nigerians to wake up, shine their eyes and put their own destinies into their hands. They should fight for themselves. There are several ways to do it. Civil unrest is one of them, protest is another. We (Nigerians) can shut this government down. We have the numbers and we will show them that we have done it before and we will do it again.”

Bakare also accused the Buhari administration of mismanaging fuel subsidy, saying it refused to deregulate the downstream sector of the oil industry at the expense of Nigerians.

“Show me in the world, any civilized society or any nation that is developed where government does business,” he said.

“Government job is to create enabling environment for business to thrive and flourish. Government job is to set policy. In Nigeria, the sleaze they get from it (subsidy) is why they are not letting go. There is only one word for either this government or any government, Buhari inclusive: let him that stole steal no more.”


Russia to UK: Explain search of our plane or we may search your passenger planes

Russia's Ministry of Transport said on Saturday that Moscow would demand an official explanation from Britain for why a Russian Aeroflot passenger plane had been subjected to a search at Heathrow airport on Friday.

The Russian embassy in Britain complained about the search at the time.

On Saturday, the Ministry of Transport said it wanted to know what had happened. "If there is no explanation, the Russian side will deem the actions towards our plane as illegal and also reserve the right to take similar action against British airlines," it said in a statement.

"I’m not afraid of Buhari or Saraki, APC nearing its grave" – Dino Melaye

The Senator representing Kogi West, Dino Melaye, has declared that he is not afraid to tell the truth on anybody, whether on President Buhari, Senate President Bukola Saraki, or even his father.

Melaye  added that the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, is moving towards failure in 2019 if it fails to resolve ongoing crisis.

Speaking on BBC Hausa, Melaye alleged that members of the party were sabotaging one another.

“There are many crises in APC, let the truth be told. Everybody is sabotaging one another. Something should be done, otherwise, the funeral trumpet may be blown on APC.

“I have to say the truth. There are problems in this party. Look at how senator Misau was taken to court, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki was also taken to court, then you said we should not tell the truth?

“I am not afraid to tell the truth on anybody, whether on Buhari, Saraki, or even my father. I have to speak against injustice. APC and PDP patronize the same market,” he said.

He further stated that his recall process was a handiwork of Kogi governor Yahaya Bello, stressing that he would only return to his constituency when his tenure expires on May 20, 2019.

“Are you asking me about my recall process? I will only return to my constituency on May 20, 2019 because I enjoy massive love from my constituents. The matter is also at Supreme Court.

“This is all a handiwork of Yahaya Bello, just because I advised him to pay salary arrears to Kogi State workers. You are all aware how his government, despite receiving two trenches of Paris Club refund fund, failed to pay salary for several months.

“We can recall how a worker committed suicide for lack of salary. Hunger and poverty don’t know any political party. So, for telling him this, that is why he is witch-hunting me.

“This man is not working in Kogi State. You cannot show even one Kilometre road constructed by his administration, and he said we should not tell the truth. I must tell the truth even if I would be killed”.

Microsoft delivers dozens of computers to Ghana school where teacher taught IT class without computers (PHOTOS)

Computer giant Microsoft has donated dozens of computers to the school in Ghana where an IT teacher won worldwide praise after improvising with chalk-drawn sketches to bring to life his lessons on Microsoft Word.

Richard Akoto (Owura Kwadwo Hottish) had no computer to demonstrate Microsoft Word to his students, so he drew it on the chalkboard.

In a Facebook post, he wrote: "Teaching I.C.T in Ghana’s school is very funny. I.C.T on the board paa. I love ma (my) students so have to do what will make them understand what am [I’m] 

The tech giant had pledged to equip him after his pictures went viral.

Mr Akoto, 33, was also hosted at Microsoft’s 2018 Global Education Exchange Summit (E2) in Singapore making him a MIE.

Microsoft has now donated technological resources, including 27 laptops, to equip a computer lab at Betenase Junior High School, located in Sekyedumase, Ashanti Region, Ghana.

In collaboration with eSolutions Consulting – a local Education partner in Ghana, he computer lab donation includes devices for students and lab teacher, furniture – tables and chairs, school uniforms, mathematical sets, device security storage units, 1-year free 3G connectivity, a projector, screen, UPS back up and routers.

All devices will also be provided with Office Professional Plus software.

“As a technology brand that is on a mission to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more – Microsoft believes that enablement must start at grassroots level – by way of education. It is the teachers and the work they do through their lessons, that allow for this to happen effectively.

“We are extremely impressed by the work educators all over the continent are doing.  – As economies like Ghana become increasingly digital, technical thinking and understanding technology becomes of supreme importance. Around the world, a key part of Microsoft’s work is concentrated on empowering educators to create environments in and out of the classroom that guide and nurture student passion and enable students to achieve beyond their wildest imagination – making, designing, inventing, building the future,” Warren La Fleur, Education Lead for West East and Central Africa at Microsoft said.

Teachers not only in Bentase Junior High School but across Ghana will gain access to the Microsoft Certified Educator Program (MCE) for professional development, so that they can nurture their passion for teaching and build rich, custom learning experiences for students.

Trump declares April 'Sexual Assault Awareness' month

US President Donald Trump -- who has himself been repeatedly accused of sexual misconduct -- on Friday designated April 2018 "National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month" amid a national debate over the issue.

"Sexual assault crimes remain tragically common in our society, and offenders too often evade accountability," said a proclamation from Trump released by the White House. "These heinous crimes are committed indiscriminately: in intimate relationships, in public spaces, and in the workplace."

"Too often, however, the victims of assault remain silent. They may fear retribution from their offender, lack faith in the justice system, or have difficulty confronting the pain associated with the traumatic experience," it continued.

"My administration is committed to raising awareness about sexual assault and to empowering victims to identify perpetrators so that they can be held accountable."

At least 20 women have publicly accused Trump of engaging in sexual assault or harassment prior to becoming president. The White House has maintained that the women are lying.

Last month, Trump described allegations that he kissed a receptionist without her consent as "Another False Accusation" in a post on Twitter, calling instead for coverage of "the story of the women taking money to make up stories about me. One had her home mortgage paid off."

Since former film mogul Harvey Weinstein's dramatic downfall over allegations ranging from harassment to rape, the #MeToo campaign has seen a deluge of accusations topple men from powerful positions in a number of industries including Hollywood, the media and politics.

In February, allegations of domestic abuse led two Trump staffers to resign. The Republican leader came under fire for lamenting the "shattered" lives of those accused, saying the allegations could be false.

The 2016 presidential campaign that launched Trump to the White House saw the unearthing of an infamous "Access Hollywood" tape in which the real estate tycoon bragged about groping women.

"I don't even wait," Trump says in the clip. "And when you're a star, they let you do it, you can do anything. Grab them by the pussy."

Trump dismissed his lewd comments as "locker room banter.”


PHOTOS: Aisha Buhari’s brother weds in Abuja

Friday 30th March 2018, witnessed the wedding Fatiha of Hamza Halilu Ahmed, younger brother to the wife of the President, Mrs. Aisha Muhammadu Buhari to Miss Hadiza Jika. 

The ceremony was conducted at the National Mosque by the Chief Imam, Professor Shehu Galadanci.

The guardian of the groom, Prof. Abdallah Abba requested the hand of the bride on behalf Hamza, while Engr. Saleh Dunoma accepted the request on behalf of the bride. The dowry was set at N100,000, which was duly paid.

The wedding Fatiha was witnessed by President Muhammadu Buhari, Ministers, Governors and many Nigerians.

A reception was held at the Banquet Hall of the State House immediately afterwards and was chaired by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo.

Suleiman Haruna
Director of Information
to Wife of the President
State House

PHOTOS: #March4Buhari rally kicks off in Bauchi as campaign for 2019 election heats up

President Muhammadu Buhari’s supporters in Bauchi State on Saturday took to the streets to express their support for Buhari’s re-election in 2019.

Russia tests ‘Satan 2’, an ‘invincible’ missile that can reach anywhere in the world and impossible to intercept

Russia has successfully tested its latest intercontinental ballistic missile, the country's military said Friday.

The Defense Ministry said the launch from Plesetsk in northwestern Russia tested the Sarmat missile's performance in the initial stage of its flight.

Sarmat is intended to replace the Soviet-designed Voyevoda, the world's heaviest ICBM that is known as "Satan" in the West.

Presenting Sarmat and an array of other nuclear weapons earlier this month, President Vladimir Putin said that they can't be intercepted.

Putin said that Sarmat weighs 200 metric tons and has a higher range than Satan, allowing it to fly over the North or the South Poles and strike targets anywhere in the world. He added that Sarmat also carries a bigger number of nuclear warheads, which are more powerful than the ones on Satan.

The Russian president also said the new ICBM accelerates faster than its predecessor, making it harder for the enemy to intercept in its most vulnerable phase after the launch. He also said Sarmat could carry an array of warheads capable of dodging missile defenses.


Four suicide bombers killed in Maiduguri - Police

The police in Borno on Saturday confirmed that four suicide bombers were killed in Muna area of Maiduguri.

One civilian was also killed and 13 others wounded in the attack on Friday night.

Mr Eder Okon, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), said in a statement in Maiduguri that the victims were hit when four female suicide bombers stormed the Muna Zawuya village in the outskirts of Maiduguri.

He stated that “at about 21.49 p.m. on March 30, 2018, four female suicide bombers infiltrated Muna Zawuya village in Mafa Local Government Area, an outskirt of Maiduguri.

“The bombers detonated explosive devices killing themselves and one other woman and injured 13 other persons.

“The 13 injured persons are receiving treatment in hospital.”
Okon noted that the police had dispatched Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS), CTU and EOD teams to sanitise the scene of the attack, adding that normalcy had been restored to the area.According to him, adequate security arrangements have been put in place to ensure hitch-free Easter celebrations in the state.

Friday, 30 March 2018

KCNA VIA KNS/AFP / - The two men held discussions about the development of sport in the North and attended a women's football match
Kim Jong Un is committed to sending North Korean teams to the next two Olympics, the IOC chief Thomas Bach said Saturday after a rare meeting with the leader of the nuclear-armed regime in Pyongyang.

Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee, also said the IOC will make a proposal for a "potential joint march" and other shared activities between the North and South Korean teams at the Tokyo games.

Last month's Winter Olympics in South Korea saw competitors from the two countries march together at the opening ceremony and field a joint women's ice hockey team.

The Winter Games triggered a fast-moving rapprochement that will see Kim sit down with the South's President Moon Jae-in in late April — with a US summit with President Donald Trump planned for May.

Bach told reporters after landing in Beijing that his talks with Kim on Friday had been "very open and fruitful".

"They announced (to) us that they will definitely participate in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 as well at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022" and all editions of the Youth Olympic Games, Bach said.

"And this commitment was fully supported by the supreme leader of DPRK," he said, using the official abbreviation for the country.

North Korea's official KCNA news agency said Kim thanked Bach for helping to bring about a "dramatic thawing" of tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Bach arrived in the country on Thursday and his visit, which concluded Saturday, was the result of an invitation extended by Pyongyang in January.

The isolated regime rarely hosts foreign dignitaries but recent weeks have seen a flurry of diplomacy, with Kim making his first foreign trip as leader to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping and inviting him to visit Pyongyang.

Kim told Bach that the Olympics had "opened a new chapter of concord between the north and the south", KCNA said.

"He said that the once frozen north-south relations greeted a dramatic thawing season with the Olympics as a momentum and it was totally attributable to the efforts of the IOC which offered an opportunity and paved a path for it," the agency reported.

Bach told reporters the IOC "will continue to support the athletes from DPRK to prepare well" for the next Olympic Games.

"The IOC will make a proposal for a potential joint march, for potential other joint activities for Tokyo and maybe also for Beijing, at the appropriate time," he said.

The two men also held discussions about the development of sport in the North and attended a women's football match. 

North and South Korea plan to hold a summit on April 27.
Trump is then due to meet Kim before the end of May for talks on Pyongyang's denuclearisation.
Bach has hailed the reconciliatory mood, saying previously that the Olympic spirit "brought two sides together" and the two neighbours sent a "powerful message of peace" to the world.

Clashes, 16 dead as thousands of Gazans march near Israel border

Israeli soldiers fire tear gas as thousands of Gazans march just across the border fence sparking clashes in which four Palestinians were killed and more than 200 wounded
Clashes erupted as tens of thousands of Gazans marched near the Israeli border in a major protest, with 16 Palestinians killed and hundreds more wounded in the conflict's worst single day of violence since the 2014 Gaza war.

Israel's military targeted three Hamas sites in the Gaza Strip with tank fire and an air strike after what it said was an attempted shooting attack against soldiers along the border that caused no injuries.
Protesters, including women and children, gathered at multiple sites throughout the blockaded territory, which is flanked by Israel along its eastern and northern borders.

Smaller numbers approached within a few hundred metres (yards) of the heavily fortified border fence, with Israeli troops using tear gas and live fire to force them back. Israeli security forces used a drone to fire tear gas toward those along the border, in one of the first uses of the device, a police spokesman said.

The health ministry in Gaza said 16 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces.
More than 1,400 were injured, including 758 by live fire, with the remainder hurt by rubber bullets and tear gas inhalation, it said.

Palestinians accused Israel of using disproportionate force, as did Turkey.

The UN Security Council held emergency talks Friday to discuss the risks of further escalation in Israeli-Palestinian violence in the Gaza Strip, but failed to agree a joint statement on the deadly clashes.

"There is fear that the situation might deteriorate in the coming days," said assistant UN secretary general for political affairs, Taye-Brook Zerihoun, urging maximum restraint.

Israel's military alleged that the main protests were being used as cover by militants to either break through the border or carry out attacks.

"It is not a peaceful demonstration," an Israeli military official told journalists.
The army said it estimated some 30,000 demonstrators were taking part in the protests.
"Rioters are rolling burning tyres and hurling firebombs and rocks at the security fence and at (Israeli) troops, who are responding with riot dispersal means and firing towards main instigators," it said.

- 'Playing with your life' -
Protesters were demanding hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees who fled or were expelled during the war surrounding Israel's creation in 1948 be allowed to return.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniya attended the protest, believed to be the first time he has gone so close to the border in years.

Hamas and Israel have fought three wars since 2008, the most recent of which in 2014 ended with a fragile truce.
The protesters were demanding hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees who fled or were expelled during the war surrounding Israel's creation in 1948 be allowed to return
The demonstration is planned to last six weeks, until the inauguration of the new US embassy in Jerusalem around May 14. The upcoming embassy move has added to tensions surrounding the march.

US President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital in December has infuriated Palestinians, who claim its annexed eastern sector as the capital of their future state.
The protest also began as Jewish Israelis were to mark the Passover holiday.

Israel announced a "closed military zone in the area surrounding the Gaza Strip," accusing its Islamist rulers Hamas of using the lives of civilians "for the purpose of terror".

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in a tweet directed to Gazans in both Hebrew and Arabic that "Hamas's leadership is playing with your life".

- Rare family protest -
Protests along the border are common but the "March of Return" protest is different because it is intended to include families with women and children camping near the border for weeks.
A Palestinian woman joins the protest in Gaza along the border with Israel that commemorates Land Day

Protester Saeed Juniya erected a small tent a few hundred metres from the border fence east of Gaza City, where he was accompanied by his wife and children.

"We are determined and not scared as we are not doing something wrong. The people are demanding their land and to return to their country," he said.

Organisers say the camps will remain in place until May 15 when Palestinians commemorate the Nakba, or "catastrophe", of the 1948 creation of Israel with the exodus of more than 700,000 Palestinians.

According to the United Nations, some 1.3 million of Gaza's two million residents are refugees and the protest is calling for them to be allowed to return to land that is now Israel.

Washington's plans to launch its new embassy to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the Israeli state, further stoking Palestinian anger.

"We are deeply saddened by loss of life in #Gaza today," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert wrote on Twitter.

"Int'l community is focused on taking steps that will improve the lives of the Palestinians and is working on a plan for peace. Violence furthers neither of those goals."

The launch of the protests comes as Palestinians mark Land Day, commemorating the killing of six unarmed Arab protesters in Israel in 1976.