Mali violence: PM and entire government resigns

Women at a protest on April 5 gesturing to rally against the government and international forces' failure to tackle rising violence in Mali
Protests took place this month against the government and international forces’ failure to tackle rising violence in Mali

The prime minister of Mali and his entire government have resigned, following an upsurge of violence in the country.

On Wednesday, a motion of no confidence was submitted as MPs blamed Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga for failing to handle the unrest.

Last month, scores of herders were killed by a rival ethnic group.

President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita said in a statement that he accepted Mr Maiga and his ministers’ resignation.

A prime minister will be named very soon and a new government will be put in place after consultations with all political forces,” the statement said.

Mali has been struggling to control violence since Al-Qaeda-linked Islamist extremists gripped the desert north of the country in 2012.

Despite an ongoing military drive and a 2015 peace agreement, jihadists still dominate areas huge areas of the country, having migrated from the north to the more heavily populated centre of the country.

The government has come under increasing pressure over its inability to restore stability, particularly after the massacre of 160 Fulani herders in the Mopti region.

Armed with guns and machetes, the attackers appeared to be members of the Dogon ethnic group, which has a long history of tension with the nomadic Fulani people.

The country was shocked by the killings and tens of thousands of people protested on the streets of the capital Bamako on April 5.

The president said in a televised address on Tuesday that he had “heard the anger”.

A map showing the location of Mali and Mopti, where the killings took place
Walter Onnoghen (centre) is not allowed to hold public office for 10 years

Nigeria’s top judge Walter Onnoghen found guilty

Nigeria’s Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen has been convicted of falsely declaring his assets.

His suspension over the charges by President Muhammadu Buhari in January, weeks before the presidential election, caused a political storm.

Mr Buhari was accused of meddling with the judiciary in case the outcome of the election was challenged in court.

Justice Onnoghen was found guilty of hiding the extent of his wealth and has been banned from office for 10 years.

The case was heard by the Code of Conduct Tribunal, which was set up to tackle corruption allegedly committed by public officials.

The law requires senior civil servants and government officials to declare their assets before taking office as a way to monitor corruption.

Unprecedented ruling

Mr Onnoghen has not commented on the tribunal’s ruling.

His conviction is unprecedented as he was the first serving chief justice to be put on trial and found guilty, the BBC’s Best, reports from Nigeria..

In January, Atiku Abubakar – the president’s main challenger in the election – called Justice Onnoghen’s suspension “an act of dictatorship”.

At the time of his suspension, Mr Buhari’s spokesman said that trying to link it the elections was “illogical”.

The president has pledged to fight corruption and was re-elected in February.

Mr Abubakar has gone to court to challenge the result of the election.

Giant lion’ fossil found in Kenya museum drawer

A new species of giant mammal has been identified after researchers investigated bones that had been kept for decades in a Kenyan museum drawer.

The species, dubbed “Simbakubwa kutokaafrika” meaning “big African lion” in Swahili, roamed east Africa about 20 millions years ago.

But the huge creature was part of a now extinct group of mammals called hyaenodonts.

The discovery could help explain what happened to the group.

Hyaenodonts – so called because their teeth resemble those of a modern hyena – were dominant carnivores more than 20 million years ago, National Geographic reports.

But they are not related to hyenas.

“Based on its massive teeth, Simbakubwa was a specialised hyper-carnivore that was significantly larger than the modern lion and possibly larger than a polar bear,” researcher Matthew Borths is quoted by AFP news agency as saying.

In 2013 he was doing research at the Nairobi National Museum when he asked to look at the contents of a collection labelled “hyenas”, National Geographic says.

The creature’s jaw and other bones and teeth had been put there after being found at a dig in western Kenya in the late 1970s.

Mr Borths teamed up with another researcher, Nancy Stevens, and in 2017 they began analysing the unusual fossil specimens.

Their findings were reported in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology this week.

Libya's UN-recognised unity government is demanding that the Security Council hold military strongman Khalifa Haftar to account for deadly rocket fire on the capital Tripoli which it blames on his militia

Six killed in Libya capital as UN debates ceasefire demand

Rocket fire on the Libyan capital Tripoli, which the UN-recognised government blamed on military strongman Khalifa Haftar, killed six people ahead of a Security Council meeting on Wednesday over a ceasefire.

Diplomats have long complained that Libyan peace efforts have been stymied by major powers backing the rival sides, with Haftar ally Russia quibbling over the proposed wording of the ceasefire demand even as the bombardment of Tripoli intensifies.

Three of the six killed in the rocket fire on the south Tripoli neighbourhoods of Abu Salim and Al-Antisar late on Tuesday were women, said the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA.

Abu Salim mayor Abdelrahman al-Hamdi confirmed the death toll and said 35 other people were wounded.

AFP journalists heard seven loud explosions as rockets also hit the city centre, the first since Haftar’s Libyan National Army militia launched an offensive on April 4 to capture the capital from the government and its militia allies.

The LNA blamed the rocket fire on the “terrorist militias” whose grip on the capital it says it is fighting to end.

The bombardment came as diplomats at the UN Security Council began negotiations on a British-drafted resolution that would demand an immediate ceasefire in Libya.

The proposed text seen by AFP warns that the offensive by Haftar’s LNA “threatens the stability of Libya and prospects for a United Nations-facilitated political dialogue and a comprehensive political solution to the crisis.”

– No Haftar criticism –

After Britain circulated the text late Monday, a first round of negotiations was held during which Russia raised objections to references criticising Haftar, diplomats said.

“They were very clear. No reference anywhere,” a council diplomat said.

During a tour of the Tripoli neighbourhoods worst hit by the rocket fire on Tuesday night, unity government head Fayez al-Sarraj said the Security Council must hold Haftar to account for his forces’ “savagery and barbarism”.

“It’s the legal and humanitarian responsiblity of the Security Council and the international community to hold this criminal responsible for his actions,” Sarraj said in footage of the tour released by his office.

He said his government would seek Haftar’s prosecution for war crimes by the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

“We are going to hand all the documentation to the ICC tomorrow (Wednesday) for a prosecution for war crimes and crimes against humanity,” he said.

At least 189 people have been killed, 816 wounded and more than 18,000 displaced since Haftar ordered his forces to march on Tripoli, according to the World Health Organization.

Britain was hoping to bring the ceasefire resolution to a vote at the Security Council before Friday, but diplomats pointed to Russia’s objections as a hurdle.

The proposed measure echoed a call by UN chief Antonio Guterres, who was in Libya to advance prospects for a political solution when Haftar launched his offensive.

– Proxy war –

Haftar, seen by his allies Egypt and the United Arab Emirates as a bulwark against Islamists, has declared he wants to seize the capital.

He backs a rival administration based in eastern Libya that is refusing to recognise the authority of the Tripoli government.

The draft resolution calls on all sides in Libya “immediately to recommit” to UN peace efforts and urges all member states “to use their influence over the parties” to see that the resolution is respected.

Resolutions adopted by the council are legally binding.

Diplomats have long complained that foreign powers backing rival sides in Libya threatened to turn the conflict into a proxy war.

Saudi Arabia is also seen as a key Haftar supporter, while Qatar — which has tense relations with Riyadh and Abu Dhabi — has called for stronger enforcement of the UN arms embargo to keep weapons out of Haftar’s hands.

Russia and France, two veto-wielding permanent members of the Security Council, have praised Haftar’s battlefield successes in defeating Libyan militias aligned with the Islamic State group in the south of the country.

Haftar’s offensive on the capital forced the United Nations to postpone a national conference that was to draw up a roadmap to elections, meant to turn the page on years of chaos since the 2011 ouster of Moamer Kadhafi.

Guterres has said serious negotiations on Libya’s future cannot resume without a ceasefire.

Birama, a civil engineer, and his baby Ndeye

How I made fathers in Senegal carry babies on their backs’

Marta Moreiras and the subjects of her portraits – fathers carrying babies on their backs – were surprised by the attention they attracted as she took their photographs on the streets of Senegal’s capital Dakar.

People were clapping – sometimes it was a bit hard to take the picture because we were having such a large audience,” the Spanish photographer told the BBC.

“All the women were like: ‘Hey, give me five, I’m going to call my husband – we don’t see this every day.”

And that is exactly why Moreiras started her project, which has been shortlisted for the portraiture category of this year’s Sony World Photography Awards Professional competition.

The idea came to her when she was looking through her photo archive, which for Senegal goes back to 2008.

“I realised that I had tonnes of pictures of mummies with babies on their back, but I just wondered why I didn’t have any of men.”

Kumba and Binta in Senegal
Kumba and her baby Binta – from Marta Moreiras’s archive

When she began phoning up some of her male Senegalese friends who had babies, most said that they would carry children on their backs if they were at home – but never outside.

“There’s a big division here between public spaces and private spaces… and it’s very important what others think of you,” says Moreiras.

Demba and Ely in Virage, an neighbourhood by the ocean on the outskirts of Dakar, Senegal
Demba, a financial consultant, with his baby Ely

Yet her research and interviews revealed that men do play a significant child-caring role, not least because Dakar is expensive and couples often both have to work.

“That will force them to start dividing tasks.

“And when I asked the men if they actually participated in the education of their children and if they helped at home they were like: ‘Well, yes I’m forced to, my wife, she works as well – she can’t just take on all the different tasks.’

“But whenever you see a picture of a baby you never see a dad with them or playing with them or taking them to school or washing them,” she said.

Cheikh and Zoe in Point E, a central neighbourhood in Dakar, Senegal
Cheikh, a freelance videographer, and his baby Zoe

This is how she first coaxed her interviewees into having their portraits taken.

“I’d say: ‘All right, so to make it more visible – this role of the dad – I want to take a photo of you with your child.'”

Jules and Jade in Zone B, a central neighbourhood in Dakar, Senegal
Jules, a computer specialist, and his baby Jade

When they agreed to that, she’d say she would like the baby to be on their backs instead of in their arms – this too they happily agreed to, hesitation only setting in when she asked them to move outside to give the portrait “a more interesting setting”.

“We don’t do that, we don’t take children to the street on our backs,” was the general response – but Moreiras’s persistence paid off.

“The whole reaction on streets was very cool, so the guy I was photographing began to feel more comfortable about it.”

Moulaye, Hassan and Malick in Mermoz, a residential neighbourhood of Dakar, Senegal
Moulaye, a music producer, and his children Hassan and Malick

The portraits she shot over a two- to three-month period were exhibited last May at Dak’Art, the African Contemporary Art Biennale, when the whole of Dakar becomes an art gallery.

And they certainly became a subject of debate – given the inspired decision to stage her exhibition at les parcours sportifs – a big open space on the main seafront thronged by those in pursuit of the body beautiful as it is full of gym equipment.

Mouhammed and Zakaria in Liberte 4, a popular neighbourhood in Dakar, Senegal
Mouhammed, a photographer, and his son Zakaria

“Ninety-nine per cent of people who go there are men, showing their masculine, macho side,” she said.

But they were also of an age when they were becoming fathers – the perfect target audience, says Moreiras.

One photo in particular had a great impact as it was of a popular rapper, Badou, known for his machismo.

Badou and Mouhammed in Medina in Dakar, Senegal
Badou, a rapper, with his baby Mouhammed

“He has a public image, and everyone recognises him. It’s important in this project that some recognisable people are included to be role models and open the debate to realise there is nothing wrong with it,” the photographer said.

There were some public figures who turned her down when she approached them as they were concerned about public attitudes.

For Moreiras, who has eight of her portraits from the series in the World Photography Awards, it will be a “never-ending project”.

“I’m still working on it – I’m happy to have as many daddies as possible because I believe that to destroy this stereotype of mums with babies, that we have seen forever, we need to do at least the same amount of images with men.”

Scorpion and Africa in Mermoz, a residential neighbourhood of Dakar, Senegal
Scorpion, a wood designer, and his baby Africa

Winners of the 2019 Sony World Photography Awards Professional competition will be announced on 17 April 2019. All shortlisted series will be exhibited at Somerset House in London from 18 April until 6 May 2019.

The man behind Somalia’s only free ambulance service

Somalia’s capital city – where there are frequent and deadly bomb blasts – only has one free ambulance service, which was founded by Abdulkadir Abdirahman Adan 13 years ago.

When he returned from Pakistan, where he had been studying dentistry, to Mogadishu as a fresh graduate he was struck by the lack of ambulances on the busy streets – and people using wheelbarrows to ferry the sick to hospital.

The very few ambulances that did exist and respond to calls came from private hospitals and patients had to pay for their collection.

So not long after his return, Dr Adan decided to start an ambulance service.

“I bought a minibus, revamped it and made it accessible for wheelchair users too,” he told the BBC.

Ambulance driving in Mogadishu
Aamin now has a fleet of 20 ambulances

He started to operate the minibus, carrying the wounded, injured and the heavily pregnant to the hospital.

Such was the demand for the service that he realised it needed to expand and he began frequenting the city’s open-air markets and corner shops, looking for potential donors.

“I managed to convince a group of local entrepreneurs to chip in and buy us another minibus,” he says.

At the time Dr Adan was a part-time tutor at a couple of universities in the city.

“I asked my students if they wanted to save a life and if they did, to donate a $1 (£0.75) a month to help save our brothers and sisters,” he says.

Soon everywhere he went, he began to ask people to contribute a $1 a month to help run Aamin Ambulance.

‘No government funding’

“Aamin” means “trust” in Somali – and most residents of the city feel it has lived up to its name in a society failed by its politicians.

Ambulance in Mogadishu

GettyAamin Ambulance

  • Up to 42calls a day
  • 20ambulances
  • 35members of staff

Source: Aamin Ambulance

Today Aamin Ambulance, which survives on donations, has a staff of 35 people. Many of them are volunteers and students, Dr Adan says.

The volunteers are not paid a salary but some of their expenses, such as transportation, are covered.

The service has a fleet of 20 ambulances and a driver for each vehicle.

Scene of a massive explosion is seen in the capital Mogadishu, Somalia - 14 October 2017
Aamin Ambulance helped in the wake of the October 2017 attack in which more than 580 people died

“We operate on donations. We don’t receive any funding or help from the government.

“A while ago, we asked the Mogadishu mayor’s office if they could assist us with 10 litres of petrol a day but we are still waiting to hear about that.”

‘Somalis are very generous people’

But Dr Adan has been able to attract some backing from the United Nations.

“WHO [the World Health Organization] bought us two cars. UNDP donated some walkie-talkies,” the 45-year-old says.

“We bought second-hand ambulances from Dubai and had them delivered here. Recently, the British embassy in Mogadishu organised a half-marathon to raise funds for our service.

Raising money can be hard work, as is dealing with the city authorities which recently banned Aamin Ambulance from attending blast scenes.

The crux of the problem seemed to be the government’s sensitivity about casualty figures from bombings carried out by Islamist militants – Aamin Ambulance often keeps journalists up-to-date about what its paramedics have witnessed using social media.

The ban infuriated some when it was reported last week on the BBC Somali Service’s Facebook page, who deplored the government for “stopping aid”.

But Dr Adan tried to play down the friction.

Abdulkadir Abdirahman Adan

The most valuable thing for me is human life. That is my driving force”Abdulkadir Abdirahman Adan
Aamin Ambulance founder

“I spoke to the police commissioner, who rescinded the ban but he told us to let them know when we are attending to an emergency. We are not allowed to talk to the media or talk about the body count.”

While a spokesman for the regional authority, Salah Hassan Omar, told the BBC it had all been a misunderstanding and was more about “how to best work together”.

For Dr Adan, such headaches can be overcome as he is heartened by the generosity he has experienced since starting the ambulance service.

“Every person in this life has a purpose and the most valuable thing for me is human life. That is my driving force,” he says.

Aamin operator in Somalia on the telephone
Operators are on hand 18 hours a day to take calls and despatch the ambulances

“Somalis are very generous people, even when they have nothing. Our country has been in turmoil for 30 years and it is only active because of money sent from abroad.

“Our country has been running on the generosity and goodwill of Somalis in the diaspora for decades.

“Aamin is almost a joint community effort – we have had to take the reins for the well-being of our fellow Somalis.”

‘We’re not political’

Although Mogadishu has been in the news for bombings carried out by the militant group al-Shabab, Aamin Ambulance service is not solely borne out of the need to attend to these types of attacks.

Mr Adan says the ambulances go where they are needed, whether it is to attend to a small child, a woman going into labour or an old person in need of assistance.

“Anything really and anyone who needs our help – we have paramedics and nurses ready,” he says.

For the future, Dr Adan envisions a Somalia where nobody needs to die because they are unable to get help in time.

Presentational grey line
Control map of Somalia

He would like to see Aamin Ambulance expand to cover the whole country.

It may seem like an unlikely vision as al-Shabab still controls most rural areas – but Dr Adan is nothing if not determined.

And al-Shabab, known for demanding protection money from many Somali businesses – even in Mogadishu from where it was expelled in 2011, does not seem to hassle Aamin Ambulance.

“We’re not a business, we’re not making a profit and we’re not political. I can’t possibly see what al-Shabab would want with us,” says Dr Adan.

Demonstrators in Khartoum have vowed to continue their sit-in until a civilian government is in place

Sudan crisis: Military council arrests former government members

Sudan’s transitional military council has arrested members of the former government and promised not to disperse protesters.

A spokesman also urged the opposition to pick the next prime minister and vowed to implement their choice.

Months of protests in Sudan led to the ousting and arrest of long-time leader Omar al-Bashir on Thursday.

Demonstrators have vowed to stay on the streets until there is an immediate move to civilian rule.

A sit-in is continuing outside the defence ministry in the capital Khartoum.

What did the military council say?

In a press conference on Sunday, spokesman Maj Gen Shams Ad-din Shanto said the military council was “ready to implement” whatever civilian government the opposition parties agreed.

“We won’t appoint a PM. They’ll choose one,” he said, referring to opposition and protest groups.

He also said the army would not remove protesters from their sit-in by force, but called on protesters “to let normal life resume” and stop unauthorised roadblocks.

“Taking up arms will not be tolerated,” he added.

The military council also announced a raft of decisions, including:

  • New heads of the army and the police
  • A new head of the powerful National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS)
  • Committees to fight corruption, and to investigate the former ruling party
  • The lifting of all media restrictions and censorship
  • The release of police and security officers detained for supporting protesters
  • A review of diplomatic missions, and the dismissal of Sudan’s ambassadors to the US and to the UN in Geneva
Demonstrators in Khartoum paint a mural reading "Freedom", 14 April 2019
After months of protests, long-serving leader Omar al-Bashir was ousted and detained by the military

What’s been happening in Sudan?

Protests against a rise in the cost of living began in December but soon developed into a wider call for the removal of Mr Bashir and his government.

On Thursday the military removed and detained the veteran leader, after nearly 30 years in power.

The coup leader, Defence Minister Awad Ibn Auf, announced the military would oversee a two-year transitional period followed by elections and imposed a three-month state of emergency.

But demonstrators vowed to stay in the streets regardless, demanding an immediate switch to civilian government.

Mr Ibn Auf himself stood down the next day, as did the feared security chief Gen Salah Gosh.

Lt Gen Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan was then named as head of the transitional military council, to become Sudan’s third leader in as many days.

Lt Gen Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan
Lt Gen Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan became head of the transitional military council after the coup leader stepped aside

In a televised address on Saturday, Gen Burhan vowed to “uproot the regime”, pledging to respect human rights, end a night curfew, release political prisoners immediately, dissolve all provincial governments, try those who had killed demonstrators and tackle corruption.

But the Sudan Professionals Association (SPA), which has been spearheading the demonstrations, said the council’s response “did not achieve any of the demands of the people” and urged protests to continue.

Among its demands are the restructuring of state security, the arrest of “corrupt leaders” and the dissolution of militias that operated under former President Bashir.

The whereabouts of Sudan’s former leader is currently unknown, but the coup leaders said he was in a secure place.

Mr Bashir has been indicted on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur by the International Criminal Court.

But the military council has said it will not extradite him, although he could well be put on trial in Sudan.

Mr Bashir’s National Congress Party on Saturday called his overthrow unconstitutional, and demanded that the military council release the party’s imprisoned members.

Maj-Gen Shanto said that the former ruling party would have no part in the civilian transitional government but could field candidates in the next elections.

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Seychelles president delivers speech in Indian Ocean calling for better protection for world’s seas

The Seychelles president has gone below the surface of the Indian Ocean to call for better protection for the world’s seas.

Danny Faure said that a healthy ocean was “crucial for the survival of humanity” in a broadcast made 124m (406ft) below sea level.

He had joined a British-led expedition exploring the ocean’s depths.

Last year, the Seychelles created protected areas of the ocean that were “the size of Great Britain”.

During the live broadcast Mr Faure could be seen in the submersible wearing a Seychelles T-shirt.

He told viewers that the ocean was “the beating blue heart of our planet” and said that it was “under threat like never before.”

“We have managed to seriously impact this environment through climate change. I can see the incredible wildlife that needs protection. Over the years we have created these problems, we must solve them and we must solve them together.”

The broadcast was part of an expedition by Nekton Mission. The mission will explore deep sections of the waters surrounding the Seychelles.

The goal is to gain public support for the country to protect 30% of its national waters by 2020.

It will then explore other areas of the Indian Ocean ahead of a summit in Oxford in 2022.

In February 2018 the Seychelles protected 210,000 sq km (81,000 sq miles) of ocean in exchange for getting some of its national debt paid off.

Waves break on the beach of an island in the Seychelles
The island nation plans to protect 30% of its seas by 2020

The reserves limit tourism and fishing activities in the country to halt further damage to aquatic life. It was the first debt swap designed to protect ocean areas in the world.

According to the UN, only 16% of marine waters under national jurisdiction are covered by protected areas.

The Seychelles aims to protect 30% of its ocean space by next year.

Oceans are one of the seven main themes of this year’s UN climate summit in Chile in December.

Small island nations like the Seychelles are among the most vulnerable to the rise in sea levels caused by climate change.

Ms Trump (R) with Sara Abera who founded clothing company Muya Ethiopia 16 years ago

Ivanka Trump in Ethiopia to ‘promote women’

President Donald Trump’s eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, is in Ethiopia to promote a US government initiative aimed at advancing women’s participation in the workplace.

The initiative aims to benefit 50 million women in developing countries by 2025.

Ms Trump toured a female-run textile facility in the capital, Addis Ababa.

The US policy in Africa under President Trump has prioritised the war on terror and checking the influence of China.

When his administration’s long-delayed policy on Africa was finally unveiled at the close of 2018, many observers of the continent were quick to point out that it did not include the favoured American staples: promotion of democracy, free and fair elections, political and civil rights.

The Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP), which was launched in February, coincides with President Trump’s proposed cuts to foreign aid, and a ban on US aid to health groups that promote or provide abortions.

The W-GDP initiative aims to train women worldwide to help them get well-paying jobs.

Ms Trump visited Muya Ethiopia, a clothes manufacturing company.

The 16-year-old company, which exports clothes to the local and international markets, was founded by Sara Abera, who gave Ms Trump a tour.

AMENSISA NEGERA

According to the W-GDP’s website, low participation of women in the formal labour markets impedes economic growth and poverty reduction in developing countries.

The project is financed by a $50m (£38m) fund within the US international development aid agency (USAid).

AMENSISA NEGERA

Fundamentally we believe that investing in women is a smart development policy and it’s smart business. It is also in our security interests because women when they are empowered they foster peace and stability and we have seen this play out time and time again,” Ms Trump said as she met women working in the coffee industry.

US EMBASSY IN ETHIOPIA

Ms Trump, who serves as an adviser to her father, will also attend a World Bank policy summit while in Ethiopia.

She will visit Ivory Coast later in the week and is set to visit a cocoa farm, as well as participate in a meeting on economic opportunities for women in West Africa.

She tweeted ahead of the trip that she was “excited”.

The Trump administration’s policy in Africa has focused on the war on terror and trying to manage the growing political and economic influence of China and Russia on the continent.

It has, however, backed democratic reforms in countries like Ethiopia where Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has implemented a series of progressive changes including the normalisation of relations with Eritrea after a bitter border standoff going back two decades.

The US also recently backed pro-democratic protests in Algeria and Sudan.

Mr Trump, however, upset many in the continent last year after, he reportedly used the word “shithole” to describe African nations

Why I have no house outside Nigeria – Dangote

Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, has declared that he has no personal house outside Nigeria.

The business mogul said this at the 2019 Mo Ibrahim Forum.

Dangote hinted that he avoids luxury things “because they distract and take time”.

Dangote said: “I don’t have any holiday home anywhere. I don’t have a house anywhere but I know people who are working for me…they have houses in London.”

“But you see, a lot of people, even the younger ones, we need to be very careful because one of biggest issues with us as Africans is that we spend our projected incomes.

“Once you start doing business [and] it starts doing well, but rather than for you to invest more in the business, you start spending thinking that profit will continue to come.

“There are ups and downs in business so you need to be very focused.”

Asked of his opinion on areas young entrepreneurs should invest in, Dangote replied: “The sectors to focus on now are ICT and agriculture. These are the 2 promising sectors.”

Lt-Gen Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman also announced the end of a curfew and the release of jailed protesters

Sudan coup: Military leader vows to ‘uproot regime’

The leader of Sudan’s interim military council has vowed to “uproot the regime” two days after a military coup.

Lt-Gen Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman announced the “restructuring of state institutions”, in a televised address.

His announcement came as protests against the authorities continued, despite the ousting of long-time leader, Omar al-Bashir.

Protesters have demanded an immediate move to civilian rule and vowed to stay in the streets.

In his address, Gen Burhan announced the end of a curfew, confirmed the release of jailed protesters and dissolved all provincial governments.

The army would maintain “peace, order and security” across Sudan during an already announced transition period.

It would last at most two years, he said, until elections could be held and civilian rule introduced.

He also called on the opposition to “help us restore normal life”, and promised to try those who killed demonstrators.

The speech came after the resignation of feared security chief Gen Salah Gosh hours after the coup leader himself, Defence Minister Awad Ibn Auf, stepped aside.

No official reason has been given for either departure.

What has the opposition said?

Privately-owned Sudan News 365 reports that opposition leaders are meeting with the military on Saturday to discuss “transitional arrangements”.

The Sudan Professionals Association (SPA), which has been spearheading the demonstrations, has called on the armed forces to “ensure the immediate transfer of power to a transitional civilian government.”

Sudanese demonstrators in Khartoum celebrating
Sudanese people have been demonstrating for weeks

Omar el-Digeir, leader of the opposition Sudanese Congress Party, said the military should not be “the sole custodians of power”.

A growing economic crisis has gripped the country since the oil-rich southern part split away in 2011, and Thursday’s coup followed months of unrest over rising prices.

How did we get here?

When Mr Bashir was removed, he was replaced by a military council led by Mr Ibn Auf.

But demonstrators camping out outside army headquarters in Khartoum refused to disperse, rejecting Mr Ibn Auf as an ally of Mr Bashir.

On Friday the new leader announced he was resigning and being replaced by Lt-Gen Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan, who is seen as a less controversial figure.

But the move failed to satisfy protesters who have kept up their sit-in in the capital.

Lt-Gen Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan talks to demonstrators in Khartoum, 12 April
The new military leader, Lt-Gen Burhan, could be seen talking to demonstrators on Friday

They called for the abolition of “arbitrary decisions by leaders that do not represent the people” and the detention of “all symbols of the former regime who were involved in crimes against the people”.

“Until these demands are fully met, we must continue with our sit-in at the General Command of the Armed Forces,” the SPA said.

On Saturday, Sudanese TV reported the resignation of Gen Gosh, head of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) which has powerful forces within the capital.

Gen Salah Gosh in Khartoum, 2010
Gen Salah Gosh seen here in 2010

The general has been a key ally of Mr Bashir since the early 1990s and is among 17 Sudanese officials indicted for genocide, human right abuses and war crimes in the Darfur region by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2009.

The NISS has extensive powers and influence, supervising the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.

At least 16 people have been killed by stray bullets at the protests since Thursday, police say.

The momentum is clearly with the protesters.

They have forced out two powerful generals in just a matter of days. NISS, which Gen Gosh headed, exemplified the ruthlessness of security forces under Bashir’s regime.

There is however anger that Gen Gosh is not being arrested for alleged human rights abuses. The SPA had called for the disbandment of NISS.

And interestingly soon after Gen Gosh’s resignation was announced the SPA released the names of its negotiating team. In the past they said they would not publish any names for fear they would be targeted.

The fact that they can do so now suggests there could be room for talks with the military council.

But in his first address Gen Burhan insisted the council would govern for two years. This idea has been rejected by opposition groups who demand a civilian transitional government. They have asked for demonstrations to continue until this happens.

Presentational grey line
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What will happen to Bashir?

He has also been indicted by the ICC on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.

But the military council has said it will not extradite Mr Bashir, who denies the charges, although he may be put on trial in Sudan.

Mr Ibn Auf was head of military intelligence during the Darfur conflict and the US imposed sanctions on him in 2007.

Sudan coup: Protesters demand immediate move to civilian rule

Leaders of the protests in the Sudanese capital Khartoum have called on supporters to stay in the streets two days after the military coup.

They are demanding an immediate move to civilian rule after the army ousted long-time leader Omar al-Bashir, putting him in custody.

The military wants to hold power for two years, followed by elections.

It replaced its own leader in an apparent concession to the protesters but the change did not sway them.

“We call on the armed forces to ensure the immediate transfer of power to a transitional civilian government,” the Sudan Professionals Association (SPA), which has been spearheading the demonstrations, said on Facebook.

A growing economic crisis has gripped the country since the oil-rich southern part split away in 2011, and Thursday’s coup followed months of unrest over the cost of living.

How did the latest drama unfold?

When Mr Bashir was removed, he was replaced by a military council led by Defence Minister Awad Ibn Auf.

But demonstrators camping out outside army headquarters in Khartoum refused to disperse, rejecting Mr Ibn Auf as an ally of Mr Bashir.

On Friday, the new leader announced he was resigning and being replaced by Lt-Gen Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan, who is seen as a less controversial figure.

But the move failed to satisfy protesters who have kept up their sit-in in the capital.

Protesters in Khartoum, 12 April
Protesters celebrated after Mr Ibn Auf stepped down

They called for the abolition of “arbitrary decisions by leaders that do not represent the people” and the detention of “all symbols of the former regime who were involved in crimes against the people”.

“Until these demands are fully met, we must continue with our sit-in at the General Command of the Armed Forces,” the SPA said.

At least 16 people have been killed by stray bullets at the protests since Thursday, police say.

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What will happen to Bashir?

He has been indicted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity over the conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region earlier this century.

However, the military council has said it will not extradite Mr Bashir, who denies the charges, although he may be put on trial in Sudan.

Mr Ibn Auf was head of military intelligence during the Darfur conflict and the US imposed sanctions on him in 2007.

How big are these events?

This is an exciting moment, writes the BBC’s Africa editor, Fergal Keane. It is happening in Sudan but the significance of these forces working peacefully for change is universal.

It may be very precarious but it is also full of possibility, he says.

One of the defining images of the peaceful protests in Khartoum is that of demonstrator Alaa Salah leading a crowd in anti-government chants.

Alaa Salah in Khartoum, 8 April

The image has been taken up by artists in turn, as French broadcaster Franceinfo reports

Have you been taking part in protests? You can share your experiences by emailing, haveyoursayonbbc@yahoo.com
Mr Ibn Auf quit a day after becoming military council chief

Sudan coup leader Awad Ibn Auf steps down

The head of Sudan’s military council has stood down a day after leading a coup that toppled long-time leader Omar al-Bashir amid a wave of protests.

Defence Minister Awad Ibn Auf announced his decision on state TV. He named as his successor Lt Gen Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan.

It comes after protesters refused to leave the streets, saying the coup leaders were too close to Mr Bashir.

The army has said it will stay in power for two years, followed by elections.

Mr Bashir’s downfall followed months of unrest that began in December over rising prices.

Mr Ibn Auf was head of military intelligence during the Darfur conflict in the 2000s. The US imposed sanctions on him in 2007.

Protesters in Khartoum celebrated his departure, with people chanting phrases like “it fell again”.

The Sudan Professionals Association, which has been spearheading the protests, said Mr Ibn Auf’s decision to step down was a “victory” for demonstrators.

They are demanding a transition to civilian rule before they return home.

The new man in charge is also a top military figure, but AP reports that his record is cleaner than other Sudanese generals. He is also said to have met with protesters to hear their views.

Mr Bashir has been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity over the Darfur conflict.

What happened on Friday?

Despite the removal of Mr Bashir on Thursday, demonstrators refused to disperse, camping out outside the army headquarters in the capital, Khartoum, defying a curfew declared by the military.

On Friday, a spokesman for the military council said the army was not seeking power and Sudan’s future would be decided by the protesters – but said the army would maintain public order and disturbances would not be tolerated.

Sudanese women reject ‘regime coup’

The military council also said it would not extradite Mr Bashir to face the ICC charges – which he denies.

It has imposed a three-month state of emergency, with the constitution suspended.

Police said at least 16 people were killed by stray bullets at protests on Thursday and Friday.

Awad Ibn Ouf has stepped down to be replaced by a general the senior military hope will be more acceptable to the protesters. The momentum is with civil society.

The regime has floundered since this phase of protests began. The old ways of coercion haven’t worked and they face a civil society that is well organised and disciplined. This is a further retreat. It is unlikely to be last.

And there’s the economic crisis brought about by misrule, corruption and loss of oil revenues. Even the regime’s friends in the Middle East and Asia will think twice about rescue packages if it looks like a new version of the old venality and brutality. That’s an important pressure.

This is an exciting moment. Just think about the role of women in all of this, of social media and civil society. It’s happening in Sudan but the significance of these forces working peaceful for change is universal. Yes it’s very precarious, but also full of possibility.

Presentational grey line
Have you been taking part in protests? You can share your experiences by emailing, haveyoursayonbbc@yahoo.com
Sudanese women reject 'regime coup'

Sudan coup: Military warns against disturbances

Sudan’s military coup leaders have warned protesters still on the streets that there will be “zero tolerance” for disturbances.

A spokesman insisted the army did not seek power and Sudan’s future would be decided by the protesters – but said the army would maintain public order.

Protesters are still out in Khartoum, fearing the coup leaders are too close to ousted ruler Omar al-Bashir.

The military says it will not extradite Mr Bashir on war crimes charges.

Mr Bashir is the subject of two international arrest warrants issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC). He is accused of organising war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sudan’s Darfur region between 2003 and 2008, allegations he denies.

However, he may be put on trial inside Sudan, according to the military council set up after the coup.

Mr Bashir, one of the world’s longest-serving leaders until he was ousted on Thursday, is now in custody.

His downfall followed months of unrest that began in December over rising prices. At least 38 people have died in the protests.

What are the military offering the protesters?

The army has said it will oversee a transitional period followed by elections. As part of this, it is imposing a three-month state of emergency, with the constitution suspended.

The military council will be in place for a maximum of two years, it says, but could last only a month if the transition to civilian rule is managed smoothly.

Lt-Gen Omar Zain al-Abidin, who heads the military council’s political committee, said on Friday: “The solutions will be devised by those in protest.

“You, the people, will provide the solutions for all economic and political issues. We have come with no ideology, we have come here to maintain order and security to provide the opportunity for the people of Sudan to achieve the change they aspire to.

“We have no ambition to hold the reins of power. We are here to provide an all-inclusive umbrella.

“Our key responsibility is to maintain public order,” he added. “We will have zero tolerance for any misdeed in any corner of the country.”

Later on Friday state media said the military had asked political parties to name representatives for a meeting with coup leaders at a later date.

Why are protesters so wary?

Thousands remained camped out near military headquarters in the capital on Friday, ignoring a curfew declared by the military.

They are demanding a transition to civilian rule before they return home.

The new military council is headed by Defence Minister Awad Ibn Auf, who was previously regarded as being well placed to succeed Mr Bashir.

Thursday’s coup announcement was made by the defence minister Awad Ibn Auf

During the Darfur conflict, he was head of military intelligence. The US imposed sanctions on him in 2007 in relation to his alleged support for militia blamed for atrocities in Darfur.

On Thursday Sara Abdeljalil, a member of the Sudanese Professionals’ Association (SPA) which has spearheaded the protests, called the new military council a “continuation of the same regime”.

“So what we need to do is to continue the fight and the peaceful resistance,” she said.

Anti-Bashir protesters celebrate

Reacting to the military’s statement on Friday, Khartoum resident Tagreed Abdin told the BBC: “We don’t know who’s behind the military council.

“We are used to hearing government double-speak but we need to see if they’re really interested in dialogue and listening to the voices of the people.”

The army said it had ruled out a violent response to the protests before Mr Bashir was overthrown because they didn’t want the loss of life. It will be difficult (of course not impossible) to walk back on that.

There is then the question of the dynamics within the army. Younger officers and rank and file will have been emboldened by their role and public reception during the protests. Will they be content to allow the Mr Bashir generation monopolise military power?

And there’s the economic crisis brought about by misrule, corruption and loss of oil revenues. Even the regime’s friends in the Middle East and Asia will think twice about rescue packages if it looks like a new version of the old venality and brutality. That’s an important pressure.

This is an exciting moment. Just think about the role of women in all of this, of social media and civil society. It’s happening in Sudan but the significance of these forces working peaceful for change is universal. Yes it’s very precarious, but also full of possibility.

Presentational grey line

What is the reaction abroad?

UN Secretary-General António Guterres appealed for “calm and utmost restraint by all” and urged a transition that would meet the “democratic aspirations” of the people. The UN Security Council is to discuss the situation in a closed-door meeting on Friday.

UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said that a two-year military council was “not the answer” and called for a “swift move to an inclusive, representative, civilian leadership”.

Sudan protests: So what’s going on?

The African Union condemned the military takeover, saying it was not an appropriate response to the challenges facing Sudan and the aspirations of its people.

Russia, which twice hosted Mr Bashir despite the international travel ban he faced, called for calm.

Sudan coup: Protesters defy curfew after military ousts Bashir

Large crowds have remained on the streets of the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, ignoring a night-time curfew declared by the country’s new military council.

Long-time President Omar al-Bashir was overthrown and arrested on Thursday after months of street protests.

But demonstrators say the military council is part of the same regime.

The fresh stand-off has raised fears of a violent confrontation between protesters and the army.

There is also a real danger that different elements of the security forces and militia could turn their guns on each other, BBC World Service Africa editor Will Ross says.

The UN and the African Union have both issued calls for calm.

A mood of celebration that followed news of 75-year-old Mr Bashir’s arrest quickly evaporated when organisers of the demonstrations called for a mass sit-in outside military headquarters to continue.

“This is a continuation of the same regime,” said Sara Abdeljalil of the Sudanese Professionals Association. “So what we need to do is to continue the fight and the peaceful resistance.”

Later, an official statement carried by state-run media said a curfew would run from 22:00 local time (20:00 GMT) to 04:00.

“Citizens are advised to stick to it for their safety,” it said, adding: “The armed forces and the security council will carry out its duty to uphold peace and security and protect citizens’ livelihoods.”

Anti-Bashir protesters celebrate

Crowds on the streets of Khartoum waved flags and chanted “Fall, again!” – refashioning their previous anti-Bashir slogan of “Fall, that’s all!”.

Mr Bashir is the subject of an international arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC), which accuses him of organising war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sudan’s western Darfur region.

It is not clear what will happen to him now that he is in custody.

How did the coup unfold?

Early on Thursday, military vehicles entered the large compound in Khartoum housing the defence ministry, the army headquarters and Mr Bashir’s personal residence.

State TV and radio interrupted programming and defence minister Awad Ibn Ouf announced “the toppling of the regime”. He said Mr Bashir was being held “in a secure place” but did not give details.

The announcement was made by the defence minister Awad Ibn Ouf

Mr Ibn Ouf said the country had been suffering from “poor management, corruption, and an absence of justice” and he apologised “for the killing and violence that took place”.

He said the army would oversee a two-year transitional period followed by elections.

The minister also said a three-month state of emergency was being put in place.

Sudan’s constitution was being suspended, border crossings were being shut until further notice and airspace was being closed for 24 hours, he added.

This is a military coup with no clear roadmap for how the generals plan to hand over power to civilian rule.

The fear will be that they have no such intention. The security elite has calculated that removing Omar al-Bashir and imposing a curfew will buy them time and end the protests. If so this represents a serious miscalculation.

The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) – which has spearheaded the demonstrations – and other civil society groups have made it clear they won’t accept a cosmetic change. They have the numbers and are highly organised.

The military has the guns and the capacity for imposing brutal repression. But what then? A crackdown will not resolve the desperate economic crisis that brought years of simmering resentment on to the streets last December.

There is also the question of the cracks within the Sudanese security establishment, evident during the clashes between soldiers and intelligence/militia forces in recent days. It is a volatile and unpredictable situation that demands cool heads and compromise on the part of the military. The stability of Sudan depends on how they react to continued protests.

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How did protesters react?

The SPA said the military had announced a “coup” that would merely reproduce the same “faces and institutions that our great people revolted against”.

It urged people to continue the sit-in outside the military complex – that began on Saturday – and to stay on the streets of cities across the country.

Graphic of longest-serving leaders

“Those who destroyed the country and killed the people are seeking to steal every drop of blood and sweat that the Sudanese people poured in their revolution that shook the throne of tyranny,” the statement read.

The SPA has previously said that any transitional administration must not include anyone from what it called the “tyrannical regime”.

How did the protests begin?

Demonstration began in December. They were originally triggered by a rise in the cost of living, but crowds then began calling for the president to resign and his government to go.

Former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on February 12, 2019
Omar al-Bashir had been in power since 1989

Government officials said 38 people had died since December but Human Rights Watch said the number was higher.

In February, it looked as though the president might step down, but instead Mr Bashir declared a state of national emergency.

What international reaction has there been?

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed for “calm and utmost restraint by all” and urged a transition that would meet the “democratic aspirations” of the people. The UN Security Council is to discuss the situation in a closed-door meeting on Friday.

UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said that a two-year military council was “not the answer”.

“We need to see a swift move to an inclusive, representative, civilian leadership. And we need to ensure there’s no more violence,” he said on Twitter.

The US called on Sudan’s military to bring civilians into the transitional government and said a two-year timeline was too long.

Sudan protests: So what’s going on?

The African Union condemned the military takeover. AU Commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat said it was not an appropriate response to the challenges facing the country and the aspirations of its people.

Russia, which has twice hosted Mr Bashir, called for calm and said it was monitoring the situation.

Amnesty International’s Secretary General Kumi Naidoo said that justice was “long overdue” for Mr Bashir.

“Omar al-Bashir is wanted for some of the most odious human rights violations of our generation and we need to finally see him held accountable,” Mr Naidoo added.

Who is Omar al-Bashir?

Formerly an army officer, he seized power in a military coup in 1989.

His rule has been marked by civil war. The civil conflict with the south of the country ended in 2005 and South Sudan became independent in 2011.

Another civil conflict has been taking place in the western region of Darfur. Mr Bashir is accused of organising war crimes and crimes against humanity there by the ICC.

Despite an international arrest warrant issued by the ICC, he won consecutive elections in 2010 and 2015. However, his last victory was marred by a boycott by the main opposition parties.

The arrest warrant has led to an international travel ban. However, Mr Bashir has made diplomatic visits to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and South Africa.

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Protesters remain outside the army headquarters

Sudan protests: Demonstrators wait for army statement

Sudan’s army has told the nation to expect an announcement following growing protests calling for President Omar al-Bashir to step down.

The army’s message sparked jubilant scenes among Sudanese convinced that a coup was under way, but it remained unclear what was happening.

Thousands marched through Khartoum, some chanting: “It has fallen, we won.”

Protests against Mr Bashir, who has governed Sudan since 1989, have been under way for several months.

They were originally sparked by a rise in the cost of living, but grew into a broader anti-government movement.

What is the latest?

In the early hours of Thursday, several military vehicles were seen entering the large compound in Khartoum that houses the Ministry of Defence, the army headquarters and Mr Bashir’s personal residence, AFP reported.

The compound has been the focus of a sit-in by tens of thousands of protesters who have been urging the military to oust Mr Bashir.

Troops have also raided Mr Bashir’s Islamic movement, linked to the ruling party, and deployed at key locations in the capital.

Meanwhile, Sudan’s state news agency reported that all the political prisoners in the country were being released.

Omar al-Bashir - 5 April
Mr Bashir has been in power since 1989

State TV and radio interrupted their programming, with TV broadcasting a message that the army would be making a statement.

The leading protest group, the Association of Sudanese Professionals, said power had to be handed over to a civilian transitional government made up of people who had no links to the “tyrannical regime”.

It urged demonstrators to remain at the sit-in to ensure there was no “partial or false solution”.

A woman dubbed “Kandaka”, which means Nubian queen, has become a symbol for protesters

Protester Hiba Ali told the BBC that “the suspense is killing” as she and others waited for the military to tell them what was happening.

“It’s not just Bashir stepping down. It’s also about the whole regime going down and everything that came with it and 30 years of oppression,” she said

“So what we want is a transition to a democracy. We want a civilian government and hand over of the authority and power to the people.”

Footage posted on social media showed an exchange of gunfire outside the army headquarters.

Other footage appeared to show people taking down posters of Mr Bashir and protesters entering an intelligence service building in the eastern city of Port Sudan.

How has the government responded?

Attempts by the authorities to quell the protests, which include security forces loyal to Mr Bashir opening fire on protesters, have been unsuccessful.

Earlier this week, the sit-in protesters were attacked on two consecutive nights, but on both occasions the army reportedly stepped in to protect them.

Police have ordered officers not to intervene against the protests. On Tuesday, a police spokesman called for “an agreement which would support the peaceful transition of power”.

Sudan protests: So what’s going on?

The government has been criticised by rights groups for a heavy-handed response to the unrest.

Government officials admit 38 people have died since the unrest began in December, but the rights group Human Rights Watch says the number is higher.

In February, it looked as though the president might step down, but instead Mr Bashir declared a state of national emergency.

Who is Omar al-Bashir?

Formerly an army officer, he seized power in a military coup in 1989.

His rule has been marked by civil war. The civil conflict with the south of the country ended in 2005 and South Sudan became independent in 2011.

protester kisses soldier, 11 april
Protesters have been appealing the army to remove Mr Bashir

Another civil conflict has been taking place in the western region of Darfur. Mr Bashir is accused of organising war crimes and crimes against humanity there by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Despite an international arrest warrant issued by the ICC, he won consecutive elections in 2010 and 2015. However, his last victory was marred by a boycott from the main opposition parties.

The arrest warrant has led to an international travel ban. However, Mr Bashir has made diplomatic visits to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and South Africa. He was forced into a hasty departure from South Africa in June 2015 after a court considered whether to enforce the arrest warrant.

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Atiku hires US lobbyist to unseat Buhari

Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has employed the services of a United States lobbyist firm to advance his challenge of the outcome of the February 23 presidential poll.

President Muhammadu Buhari defeated Atiku with over three million votes in the election but Atiku rejected the results and had challenged same at the presidential election petition tribunal, alleging that the poll was heavily militarised” and results manipulated.

According to a report by Centre for Responsive Politics, CRP, Bruce Fein, former justice department official and his firm Fein & DelValle PLLC registered on March 24 as foreign agents on behalf of PDP and Atiku.

The firm is expected to “encourage Congress and the Executive to forbear from a final declaration and recognition of Nigeria’s February 23, 2019 presidential election until outstanding legal challenges to the initial government of Nigeria assertion that incumbent Buhari was the victor are impartially and independently resolved by the Supreme Court of Nigeria without political or military influence, intimidation or manipulation”.

According to the firm, parts of its services on behalf of Atiku includes to “Meet and consult with members of Congress and staff in an effort to pass House and Senate resolution(s) to forebear from a final declaration and recognition of a winner of the 2019 Nigeria presidential election pending legal challenges to the initial assertion that incumbent Buhari was the victor are impartially and independently resolved by the Nigerian judiciary in accordance with the rule of law and due process, free from military or political influence.

“Draft articles and op-ed pieces to spotlight the issues in Nigeria post-2019 presidential election and to promote the rule of law and due process in resolving electoral disputes in Nigeria.

“Make television and other media appearances to engage in public advocacy discussions of these issues.”

In a letter replying Atiku’s request for their services, the firm said a “Nigerian barrister and trusted confidant of Your-Excellency Dr. Lloyd Ukwu, will assist in the operations of the U.S. Situation Room.”

The firm said its lobbying effort will demonstrate that an Atiku presidency is “the will of the people.”

It added that its services will convince the United States that an “Abubakar presidency” will open a fresh and new chapter in Nigerian politics, while “highlighting the declining rule of law, democracy and clue process in Nigeria under the APC and the current administration.”

#Reps probe #Nigerian bulk electricity trading over N90bn loss

The House of Representatives yesterday mandated its Committees on Procurement and Power to jointly investigate the allegations of gross statutory breaches including violation of the public procurement Act 2007 by the management of the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading, NBET,  Plc.

This was sequel to a resolution of the House after carefully debating a motion promoted by Muhammed Soba (All Progressives Congress, APC, Kaduna) the lawmakers expressed concerns over series of breaches against the provisions of Public Procurement Act, 2007, statutory guidelines and regulations by the Managing Director and management of the electricity company and resolved to investigate the firm.

In the matter brought under urgent national importance, Soba disclosed that   the firm’s Managing Director and his management executed power purchase agreements without following due process leading to the loss of not less than N90 billion

Besides the financial infraction, the lawmakers wondered why NBET management would also design a performance and implementation chart for its terms in the agreement against extant provisions of the Public Procurement Act 2007, Guidelines and Regulations from the Bureau of Public Procurements.

While leading the debate, Soba, accused, NBET of engaging  consultants without recourse to laid down financial rules, saying “They acted in  breach of the Act and extant Guidelines, Rules, Circulars and other Subsidiary Legislation.”

#Reps probe Nigerian bulk electricity trading over N90bn loss
House of Representatives, Nigeria

According to him, two law firms, Messrs AELEX, Azinge & Azinge, were engaged even where they lacked basic bidding documents.

He lamented that while the least responsive bidder was not awarded the contract, the necessary authorization from the Attorney General of the Federation was not secured before the two legal firms were signed on Soba said: “Most contractors and vendors engaged by NBET are not registered with the Bureau of Public Procurement, neither are they registered on the National Database of Federal Contractors, Consultants and Service Providers which is a gross violation of the provisions of the Acts. The Managing Director and Management of NBET are  also suspected of awarding contracts arbitrarily, resulting to colossal loses, while undermining the lowest evaluated responsive bidder as provided   by Section 16(17) of the Public Procurement Act 2007.”

He warned that if Parliament, did not intervene quickly by probing all alleged infractions and address the situation, a systemic institutional method of cheating in procurement process would have been put in place leading to further monumental losses.

Only 4% of Nigerians covered by health insurance — Minister

Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has lamented the poor state of Nigeria’s healthcare system, saying only four per cent of Nigerians are covered by the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

The Minister, who stated this while fielding questions from journalists in Abuja, however, disclosed that the federal government had put in place measures to reverse the appalling situation.

He said, “Part of the challenges we face is the near collapse of the healthcare system. But one of the unique things this government has done is to put money in the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund, BHCPF.

Prof. Isaac Adewole, Health Minister

“Fifty per cent of the money will flow to NHIS to take care of medical expenses of our people so that they will not have to pay out of their pocket for treatment. We will also use this measure to grow NHIS enrollment. As of today, only four per cent of Nigerians is covered by the scheme.

“We are encouraging the states and the FCT to set up their own health insurance systems. No state will benefit from the BHCPF if they don’t have functional health insurance and contributory scheme.”

With respect to medical tourism vis-à-vis the concern of the Buhari administration, Adewole said: “We’re focusing on three main reasons Nigerians go out of the country for medical treatment. They are cancer, kidney problems, and cardiac issues.

“We’re investing in cancer now so that we can develop the capacity. At the National Hospital, we have two cancer treatment machines. Any moment from now the second machine will start working. The two machines will be able to treat 200 persons daily. We’re also supporting Sokoto, Enugu, and Edo. We will do this all over the country.’’

#Brexit: What are #EU countries doing to prepare for no deal?

Theresa May is trying to persuade European Union (EU) leaders to extend the Brexit deadline, amid political deadlock at home. British MPs have rejected her divorce deal with the EU three times.

As things stand, the UK is scheduled to leave the EU on 12 April – without an agreement.

The UK government has stepped up its planningfor a no-deal Brexit, covering areas such as transport, healthcare, energy, food and water.

What is the EU doing to prepare for this scenario?

European Commission

The European Commission has set out its readiness for the “increasingly likely” chances of no deal. It covers basic arrangements for road hauliers, flights and financial services.

The Commission reiterated that these would not replicate the conditions of EU membership and said that it would be “required to immediately apply its rules and tariffs at its borders”.

The document, however, did not mention what would happen to the Irish border.

The Commission has a website which links to advice from all of the EU member countries. Here are summaries of the measures taken by some of them.

Irish landscape: view from the top of Slieve Gullion (County Armagh)
The 499km (310-mile) Northern Ireland border would be hard to police

Ireland

The Republic of Ireland has been preparing for Brexit for a long time.

It’s clear that a no-deal Brexit would raise serious questions for the Irish economy.

Ireland passed no deal Brexit legislation, in February, which covers a number of important issues such as allowing for pension and other benefits to be paid, for cross-border rail and bus services to continue and for citizens to access services across the border as they do now.

But, the most important issue – the future of the land border with Northern Ireland – does not feature in the legislation.

Ireland, the UK and the EU all say they want to avoid any physical infrastructure at the border. But an EU official said checks on goods would need to be done and the EU and Ireland were working on carrying them out away from the border.

In the event of no deal, the EU would add new shipping links between Ireland and ports in France, Belgium and the Netherlands; the EU says funding for this would be a priority in its budget.

The Irish government has plans to expand port infrastructure in Dublin and Rosslare, to allow inspections of trucks arriving from the UK and of live animals, and to accommodate extra staff.

Cars queuing in Calais
France is creating extra facilities in Calais, a vital hub for trade with the UK

France

The French customs service has been preparing for Brexit for some time and is planning to recruit 700 extra staff by the end of 2020.

It has also produced detailed online information for businesses with advice on transporting live animals, fish, chemical products, medicines and waste.

France is spending €50m (£43m) on expanding port infrastructure to accommodate additional officials and customs checks. If there is no deal, new border inspection posts will be needed to check food, plants and live animals.

For veterinary checks, 117 new inspectors have already been trained after a fast-track programme and are ready to take up their posts. The majority will be based in Calais.

The French parliament passed a law in January to give the government (rather than parliament) the power to introduce new measures by emergency decree to cope with a no-deal Brexit. The law covers, among other things, the rights of UK nationals living and working in France.

Further advice for citizens and companies is available on the French government’s website.

German cars preparing for export
German VWs bound for export: they could face 10% tariffs in the UK under no-deal

Germany

Germany has produced less detailed public information than France, which has led to some frustration among business leaders and opposition parties.

The German government has a special Brexit cabinet, led by Chancellor Angela Merkel. It says it is well prepared for all eventualities.

Behind the scenes, Germany is making many of the same preparations as France, including the recruitment of 900 extra customs staff.

In areas of social security, tax issues and financial services, the German government has initiated new legislation with the aim of creating legal certainty if there is no deal.

But the government says its biggest priority is protecting the interests of citizens on both sides of the Channel.

In the event of no deal, the government would give British citizens living in Germany an initial period of three months during which their rights to live and work there would not change. However, they would have to apply for residence permits during that period.

Container ship in port of Rotterdam
Rotterdam handles a vast amount of cargo going to and from the UK

The Netherlands

The Dutch have been busy. Last year the government said more than 900 customs officials and an extra 145 vets would be needed for the Port of Rotterdam.

The foreign ministry has published a no-deal Brexit impact document which says that this outcome would be “accompanied by disruptions and problems”.

It says 321 customs officials are ready to be deployed as well as an extra 14 border guards to carry out checks on UK nationals entering the country.

The main international airport, Schiphol, will have more than 100 extra customs staff. UK passport holders will face stricter checks, the airport says. Some 10.5m people fly between Schiphol and the UK every year.

British nationals and their family members who were legally resident in the Netherlands before the UK’s departure would retain their right to live, study and work in the Netherlands for 15 months, through a temporary residence permit.

The government estimated that around 45,000 British nationals and their family members currently have residence rights, with around 20,000 of them working in the Netherlands.

British students already studying in the Netherlands will be able to continue on the same terms as before, but anyone planning to study there after a no-deal Brexit will have to pay much higher tuition fees.

Ostend fish stall, file pic
An Ostend fish stall: Brexit means extra food inspections in Belgium

Belgium

An extra 141 customs officers are being deployed in the port cities of Ghent, Antwerp and Zeebrugge to cope with the impact of Brexit. Antwerp, Europe’s second-biggest port, currently has 3,400 customs staff.

The greatest impact is expected in Zeebrugge, as 45% of the port’s traffic is with the UK.

Belgium’s government says it will maintain current rights for UK nationals – residence and social security – until the end of 2020, and the same goes for their tax status.

Belgium’s national food safety authority AFSCA will recruit 300 extra staff in the event of no deal, to check food going to and from the UK.

Beach in Spain
Spain wants to minimise any Brexit harm to its vital tourist industry

Spain

Spain has announced it needs an additional 860 employees for airports and ports to carry out checks on people, goods and animals.

But, as in many other countries, the issue of citizens’ rights is the most pressing one. On 1 March, Spain’s cabinet approved temporary measures for Britons in Spain to continue living there as now, if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

Under the measures, which will become law if the UK leaves the EU with no deal, Britons living in Spain would have to apply for the “foreigner identity card” before 31 December 2020, to prove their legal residency status.

More than 300,000 UK nationals are officially resident in Spain – the highest number in Europe, outside the UK.

There are many pensioners among the UK nationals in Spain. The Spanish measures include healthcare provisions, stating that the current conditions will continue – provided the UK government reciprocates for Spaniards living in the UK.

Rock of Gibraltar
Gibraltar remains a thorny issue between Spain and the UK

Gibraltar

The Spanish plans would also cover Gibraltar, although certain additional provisions may apply, including Spain’s power of veto over issues relating to the British Overseas Territory in any future agreement between the UK and the EU.

An estimated 9,000 Spanish citizens work in Gibraltar, and the Madrid government says the measures would be contingent on them receiving the same rights as British citizens.

The Government of Gibraltar’s no-deal planning has been focused on possible delays at the border with Spain, which is crossed by thousands of people every day. It has also issued a number of notices with advice to citizens on healthcare, driving, studying, financial services, mobile phone roaming and other issues.