Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Chibok leader: 100-plus girls unwilling to leave Boko Haram

Nigeria's government is negotiating the release of another 83 of the Chibok schoolgirls taken in a mass abduction two-and-a-half years ago, but more than 100 others appear unwilling to leave their Boko Haram Islamic extremist captors, a community leader said Tuesday.

The unwilling girls may have been radicalized by Boko Haram or are ashamed to return home because they were forced to marry extremists and have babies, chairman Pogu Bitrus of the Chibok Development Association told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
Bitrus said the 21 Chibok girls freed last week in the first negotiated release between Nigeria's government and Boko Haram should be educated abroad, because they will probably face stigma in Nigeria.

The girls and their parents were reunited Sunday and are expected to meet with Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday or Wednesday, Bitrus said. Buhari flew to Germany on an official visit the day of the girls' release.

President Buhari said Monday that his government is prepared to talk with Boko Haram as long as the extremists agree to involve organizations like the International Committee of the Red Cross, which was an intermediary in last week's release.

Some 276 schoolgirls were kidnapped from a school in northeastern Chibok in April 2014. Dozens escaped early on and at least half a dozen have died in captivity, according to the newly freed girls, Bitrus said.
All those who escaped on their own have left Chibok because, even though they were held only a few hours, they were labelled "Boko Haram wives" and taunted, he said. At least 20 of the girls are being educated in the United States.

"We would prefer that they are taken away from the community and this country because the stigmatization is going to affect them for the rest of their lives," Bitrus said. "Even someone believed to have been abused by Boko Haram would be seen in a bad light."
All Nigerian institutions and the freed girls' communities and families must "stand strong" to "protect them from stigma, ostracization and rejection," the U.N. special rapporteurs on the sale of children, on slavery and on the right to health said in a statement Tuesday.

One Chibok girl, Amina Ali Nkeki, escaped in May. Chibok Parents' Association chairman Yakubu Nkeki said the young woman has been reunited with her freed classmates, all of whom are being treated by doctors, psychologists and trauma counselors at a hospital in Abuja, Nigeria's capital, run by the Department of State Security, Nigeria's secret service.
Human rights advocates and the Bring Back Our Girls Movement have been asking if the girl is a detainee of the government and have been demanding she be allowed to return home, as she has requested.

One father of a newly freed girl, Emos Lawal, said his daughter was "praying that they let the rest of them have the chance to come out."
The freed girls have told their parents they were separated into two groups early on in their captivity, when Boko Haram commanders gave them the choice of joining the extremists and embracing Islam, or becoming their slaves, Bitrus said.

The girls freed and those whose release is being negotiated, numbering 104, are believed to be in the group that rejected Islam and Boko Haram, he explained. The freed girls said they never saw the other girls again.
Bitrus said the freed girls were used as domestic workers and porters but were not sexually abused. 
He said that was why only one girl in the freed group is carrying a baby, and her parents have confirmed that she was pregnant when she was kidnapped. An aid worker had told The Associated Press that he had seen the girls on their release and that all but three carried babies. Bitrus said that report was incorrect.

Previous negotiators in talks that failed also had corroborated that more than 100 of the girls did not want to return to their parents, Bitrus said. 

Chibok is a small and conservative Christian enclave in mainly Muslim northern Nigeria, where many parents are involved in translating the Bible into local languages and belong to the Nigerian branch of the Elgin, Illinois-based Church of the Brethren.

Nigeria's government has denied reports that the girls were swapped for four Boko Haram commanders, or that a large ransom was paid.

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Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world ..... Albert Einstein

Tuesday, 24 May 2016


The fact that only yesterday, on the orders of the President truck loads of soldiers reportedly moved into the Niger Delta does suggest that this current rapprochement may not be the idea or preferred option of Mr President who (because of the soldier in him) saw no other way forward but the military option. Having said that, it is to me immaterial whose idea it is. What is imperative is that the Buhari administration  approach the dialogue with a sincerity of purpose because the issues highlighted by the Avengers go to the very foundation of our national existence and ignoring them would be the worst mistake this administration will make within their first year in office.

On a lighter note, I am aware that Jonathan was demonised and harangued for allowing a rag tag army of Boko Haram to virtually hold Nigeria hostage holding seventeen LGAs in the North East. From what Lai Mohammed the Hon Minister for Information said, if the current volte face by the government is not tantamount to Nigeria capitulating to a rag tag  army operation  in the inhospitable swamps of the Niger Delta I don't know what is. I hope my good friend Emeka Okala is listening. No one doubts that these are very trying times for our dear country. She needs all the prayers.
God bless Nigeria.

Emeka Obiandu
"You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free".

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Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world ..... Albert Einstein

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Uganda Opposition Gathers Evidence to Challenge Election Outcome

Uganda’s main opposition party says it's working hard to gather evidence to legally challenge the outcome of the February 18 general election.

Uganda’s electoral law says challenges can be filed up to 10 days after results are announced. Mugisha Muntu, chairman of the Forum for Democratic Change, said the party was doing everything possible to meet the deadline, despite what he said had been continuous harassment and intimidation by state security operatives.

Muntu noted that the intimidation followed the frequent arrests and subsequent release of Kizza Besigye, the FDC presidential candidate.

“We started gathering evidence on Saturday, right after we found out that there were huge discrepancies between what was being announced and what we’ve been gathering from our own polling stations," he said. Since then, he added, "our presidential candidate … has been taken to the police cells several times.”

Muntu said security services had raided party offices and arrested data entry clerks, but "we are not deterred. We are continuing to gather evidence to be able to move in that direction [toward a challenge] once a decision is firmly made."

Badru Kiggundu, the electoral commission chairman, declared incumbent Yoweri Museveni the winner of the presidential election with 60.07 percent of the votes cast, while Besigye was second with 35.37 percent.

Kiggundu insisted the general election was credible, despite preliminary reports by local and international observers that the poll was neither free nor fair.

“I don’t think he could have said anything else apart from that," Muntu said of Kiggundu. "Even as we moved towards the election day itself, you could see that the electoral commission chairman was partisan from the statements that he was making, from the actions that they carried out, and ultimately, from the evidence, which now is so visible.”

A Ugandan riot policeman blocks the gate of the party headquarters of opposition leader Kizza Besigye, shortly after raiding the premises for the second time in a week, in the capital Kampala, Uganda, Feb. 22, 2016.Discrepancies alleged

Muntu said initial evidence showed some of the poll results had been manipulated. He said results on the declaration forms signed by all party representatives, which show the results at the polling stations, were different from those the electoral commission announced.

Opposition groups also accused the electoral commission of bias after voting in areas where they were strong — including the capital, Kampala — started about seven hours later than in areas where the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) had a strong following. The FDC said the delays were a deliberate attempt to suppress opposition votes.

The electoral commission denied the accusation. It said the delays were regrettable but insisted that the results were credible, despite the logistical challenges.

Some FDC supporters said they weren't confident that the party’s legal challenge would succeed, contending that the country’s judiciary is not independent. They also said the government could pressure judges to rule in its favor.

“In our decision to eventually go to court, [judiciary independence] is also one of the factors that is being considered,” Muntu said.

Supporters of the NRM said the opposition parties were sore losers. They said the opposition parties weren't complaining about parliamentary races in which they defeated government ministers but were challenging losses to Museveni in the same areas.

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Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world ..... Albert Einstein

Saturday, 20 February 2016

EU referendum: Cameron sets June date for UK vote

British Prime Minister David Cameron makes a statement outside 10 Downing Street in London on Saturday.
British Prime Minister David Cameron makes a statement outside 10 Downing Street in London on Saturday.
Britain will vote on whether to remain in the EU on Thursday 23 June, Prime Minister David Cameron has said.
The prime minister made his historic announcement in Downing Street after briefing the cabinet.
He said he would be campaigning to remain in a reformed EU - and described the vote as one of the biggest decisions "in our lifetimes".
Ministers immediately divided up into the leave and remain camps as the campaigns got under way in earnest.
Home Secretary Theresa May heads the list of those who have announced they will campaign to stay - but Justice Secretary Michael Gove has signed up to the leave campaign.
Leave campaigners are also hoping London Mayor Boris Johnson will join their cause - but he has yet to declare where he stands.

'Source of instability'

In his statement, Mr Cameron warned that leaving the European Union would be a "leap in the dark" as he urged voters to back his reform deal.
"Those who want to leave Europe cannot tell you if British businesses would be able to access Europe's free trade single market, or if working people's jobs are safe, or how much prices would rise. All they're offering is a risk at a time of uncertainty - a leap in the dark."
In a direct appeal to voters, he said: "The choice is in your hands - but my recommendation is clear. I believe that Britain will be safer, stronger and better off by remaining in a reformed European Union."
Vote LeaveImage copyrightVote Leave
Image captionMinisters nail their colours to the Vote Leave campaign
Mrs May said the EU was far from perfect but "for reasons of security, protection against crime and terrorism, trade with Europe, and access to markets around the world" it was in the national interest to remain in.
Mr Gove said it had been the most difficult decision of his career to go against the prime minister but he believed "our country would be freer, fairer and better off outside the EU", adding that "far from providing security in an uncertain world, the EU's policies have become a source of instability and insecurity".
Commons leader Chris Grayling, another leave campaign backer, told the BBC's Laura Kuenssberg: "I actually believe the EU is holding this country back. We cannot control our borders, limit the number of people who come here do trade deals.

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Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world ..... Albert Einstein

Saturday, 6 February 2016

World Cancer Day 2016: millions to take action against the world’s most deadly disease

Breast cancer risk: debunking the myths and misconceptions

Thursday 4 February 2016 – World Cancer Day: Geneva, Switzerland – Cancer will kill more than eight million people worldwide this year, which is equivalent to the entire population of New York. Half of these will be people of working age (30-69 years old).
It has been estimated that the cost implications on world economies caused by cancer and the other non-communicable diseases (including mental health) could be as high as USD47 trillion[1] if no action is taken to reduce the anticipated growth in cases over the next two decades. This is a greater economic impact than the global financial crisis of 2008 and represents 75% of global GDP.
Today on World Cancer Day 2016 (Thursday 4 February), the world unites against this disease that knows no borders and represents one of humanity’s most pressing and financial concerns.
Under the campaign theme ‘We can. I can.’ World Cancer Day represents a unique opportunity to draw attention to what can be done to address cancer, save millions of avoidable deaths and, in turn, support global economic growth and development.
‘We can’: Today, the world’s leading international cancer NGO, the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), urges corporations to focus their business on products and services that improve public health.
Moreover, UICC is asking governments to urgently reaffirm their commitment to the following cost-effective cancer ‘essentials’ package that save lives:
  • Implementation of vaccination programmes which prevent infections that cause cervical and liver cancer
  • Scale up of access to early detection and screening programmes for cervical, breast and bowel cancers and follow-on treatment[2]
  • Improved tobacco taxation, regulation and control
  • As well, as pain relief and palliative care services for all cancer patients.
“Preventing millions of unnecessary deaths and suffering from cancer is not outside of the world’s scientific or financial capabilities,” said Dr Cary Adams, Chief Executive Officer, UICC.
“It will however require collaborative action at both individual and collective levels – spearheaded by key leaders in society. Governments have made global commitments to priority actions for addressing cancer, we now need to see these converted to national investments in treatment centres, services and skilled health workers, as well as health promotion. Employers can play a crucial role also by investing in the well-being of their workplace and the wider environment which they impact,” he added.
‘I can’: With more than a third of all cancers (up to 4.5 million per year) preventable through lifestyle interventions, UICC also calls on individuals to take responsibility for reducing their own cancer risk. Simple measures such as stopping smoking, eating less red and processed meat, exercising regularly and reducing alcohol use can extend a healthy life, and must be seen as the first-line of defence against cancer and other associated non-communicable diseases.
 “World Cancer Day 2016 is a chance to reflect on what everyone can do to reduce the impact of this devastating disease, now, and for the future. We wish it to be a springboard for positive change. Take action for yourself, your organisation or your community/country, as everyone can make a difference and inspire others. ‘We can. I can.’ beat cancer,” noted Professor Tezer Kutluk, UICC President.
“Join the fight against cancer, to take action on cancer by making health and well-being commitments, participating in the official ‘Talking Hands’ social media activity and getting involved in hundreds of other awareness raising initiatives that are happening worldwide,” he continued.
Visit for more information on how the day is being marked around the globe.

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Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world ..... Albert Einstein