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BENIN: President’s Patrice Talon relentless persecution of his most feared opponents: The Case of former State Minister of Finance Komi Koutche
April 6, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L & Amos Fofung

By slamming a heavy jail sentence on Komi Koutche, President Talon is hoping to clip the wings of someone presented as a formidable opponent in the 2021 Presidential elections
By slamming a heavy jail sentence on Komi Koutche, President Talon is hoping to clip the wings of someone presented as a formidable opponent in the 2021 Presidential elections

Widely considered as one of the success stories of African democracy with its peaceful political transitions, Benin has lost its shine since President Patrice Talon came to office in 2016. From controversial Halloween night’s constitutional changes to going after political opponents including his predecessor President Yayi Boni, there is growing fear that the West African nation is headed down the wrong path.  

In late July 2019, the Talon Administration released a list of “wanted” political figures it accused of evading justice in the country with  a decree stopping authorities from issuing identification documents for anyone who did not answer police summons, in a move seen as targeting Talon’s opponents abroad. Amnesty International said post-election “repression reached disturbing levels”

Four people were killed during the demonstrations. Benin’s status declined from Free to Partly Free in the Freedom in the World report, because a new electoral code and a series of decisions by the courts, electoral authorities, and the government resulted in the exclusion of all opposition parties from the April 2019 parliamentary elections.

According to Heritage Foundation 2020 report, Benin continues its slide toward less economic freedom, with scores dropping steadily from a high-water mark in 2016. Its economy is now well entrenched among the mostly unfree. 

While fighting corruption in Africa is critical and should be applauded, it becomes very troubling when targets are real and perceived political opponents of a seating President. Such seems to be the case in Benin, where most of those targeted are known to be people with presidential ambitions of their own.

On Saturday April 3rd,  2020 Benin’s Court for the Repression of Economic Offenses and Terrorism (CRIET) sentenced in absentia  Former State Minister of Finance Komi Koutché, Talon’s top Challenger’s  to twenty 20 years in prison and a 100 million CFA francs fine for embezzlement of public funds and abuse of office.

Koutché’s sentence made him the latest victim of President’s Patrice Talon relentless persecution of opponents perceived to be formidable challengers in the 2021 Presidential election in Benin. Earlier on, in October 2018, multimillionaire Sebastien Ajavon, who had voiced his ambitions for the top job, was sentenced in absentia to 20 years for drug trafficking. Former President Thomas Boni Yayi was kept under de-facto house arrest for 52 days after he criticized one-sided parliamentary elections that sparked bloody street protests. And in August 2019 a court in Benin court banned presidential rival and former Prime Minister Lionel Zinsou from polls for 5 years and  with a suspended 6-month jail term over 2016 campaign breaches.


By taking on Businessman and former Presidential candidate Sebastian Ajavon, Former Minister of Finance Komi Koutche and former Prime Minister and runner up in last Presidential elections Lionel Zinsou, President Talon is slowly but steadily pushing out his most formidable rivals in the 2021 elections .Photo credit Courtesy

 

For those sounding the alarm bells, one of the most cited examples is the frenzied manner in which the Talon administration has gone out to forcefully saddle embezzlement and corruption charges on former Finance Minister Komi Koutche.

Young, dynamic, and hardworking, Komi Koutche is one of the most persecuted members of the previous Administration. Accused of embezzling public funds and corruption, the abrasive manner in which the government has gone about the case , trampling on existing rules and creating new ones has only helped in fueling the feeling that there is more to the case than meets the eye.

To Koutche’s camp, the attempts to indict him at all cost are nothing short of attempts by President Talon to take out a potential and formidable rival. In a recent statement from Mr. Koutche’s team chronicling a timeline of his judicial travails, the former Minister is painted as victim and the whole process described as a sham and a political witch hunt.

From the statement, the judicial woes and persecution It all started in July 2017 when the Council of Ministers presided by the Head of State Patrice Talon, released two audit reports. The first audit report was about Benin cotton industry and the second about the management of the National Microfinance Fund (NMF). 

The council of Ministers was transformed for the occasion into an indictment court. The council pronounced a staunch indictment on Komi Koutche’s Management of the National Microfinance Fund and alleged misconduct by the audit reports. 

Joseph Djogbenou, then Minister of Justice, and personal lawyer to President Patrice Talon  and was instructed to initiate legal proceedings against Mr. Koutche. This procedure was faulted by Mr Komi’s team as due process was not followed and he was not heard in the proceedings as auditing rules and regulations require.

In August 2017, Komi Koutché filed a complaint before the Benin constitutional court on two counts (the Cotton’s audit and the National Microfinance Fund’s audit) alleging the violation of his rights to be heard during the audit proceeding as required by law. In December the constitutional court, presided by Professor Theodore HOLO, squashed the cotton audit ruling and declared that the government violated constitutional provisions. The appeal about the National Microfinance Fund (NMF) is yet to be reviewed because the government hasn’t responded to the investigatory measure indicated by the Court;

In a bid to better control the judicial proceeding, the current administration saw that Joseph Djogbenou, Minister of Justice responsible for prosecuting Komi Koutche became President of the Constitutional Court, the statement says, and it didn’t take that long for him to bring back Komi Koutche’s NMF appeal ushering a complete turnaround in the case.

He argued that the lack of hearing during an audit procedure is not a violation of the Constitution. This led to the convocation of Komi Koutche who at that time was out of the country and could not be present within that designated timeframe. 

This immediately resulted in the signing of an arrest warrant by the judge. On April 06, 2018, Komi Koutche appeared before a judge who found no reason to arrest him as requested by the prosecutor. By order, he set aside the arrest warrant of April 4, 2018, and stated that disciplinary proceedings will be opened later against Komi Koutche. 

July 2018 saw the creation of the Criminal Enforcement of financial and Terrorism Offences Court, CRIET, described by Komi’s partisans as a body designed to do the government’s bidding. To back this up, they point to the fact that Komi Koutche’s files were immediately transferred to the CRIET.

On August 27 after canceling Komi’s passport and ordering for his extrajudicial arrest while on visit abroad, Komi Koutche was arrested in Madrid on December 14, 2018, on a fraudulent notification to Interpol of the loss of his passport. 

Then State Minister of Finance (left) signing the second millenium challenge compact under with the CEO of MCC Dana Hyde under the watchful eyes of Former US Vice President and Presidential hopeful Joe Biden and former two terms president of Benin Boni YAYI

The government notarized the same day the April 04, 2018 arrest warrant, previously canceled by the judge, and transmitted it to Interpol. An extradition request was transmitted the same day.

Recognizing their blunder in utilizing a canceled arrest warrant, a new arrest warrant for regularization was issued under the pretext that Komi Koutche did not respond to a CRIET convocation on December 18. Note that at this time, Komi was incarcerated in Madrid. An additional extradition request was made to the Spanish courts.

After close scrutiny of the case, Komi Koutche regained his freedom on January 17, 2019, and the Spanish proceeded to reject the extradition request without the possibility of an appeal, stating that the CRIET could not offer guarantees of a fair trial.

At its 109th session, on July 2, 2019, Interpol, upon reviewing the issue through its legal department, concludes it’s a political file and decides to delete all the data in its database about Komi Koutche and moved to notify all its operations worldwide that any police collaboration under the pretext of international cooperation would be a violation of the constitution of the organization. This position applies as well for the French and the Guinean criminal police.

Despite the verdict by the international court and Interpol’s decision against proceeding with the verdict, Komi was in September referred back to the CRIET criminal chamber. 

The African court of human rights orders the Beninese government to report the abusive decision to cancel Komi Koutche’s passport and shall refer the rest of the claims to the fund and in December 2019, the U.S. administration after conducting its findings concluded that the lawsuit is based on political persecution and not corruption charges as claimed by Benin government. 

Getting into the new year, Komi Koutche’s lawyers were convened on the first appeal. It should be recalled that the lawyers mentioned the regularization warrant of December 27, 2018, issued under the pretext their client had not responded to convocation on December 18, 2018, was pointless since the issuers knew that Komi Koutche was already incarcerated in Madrid during this period. 

The appeal was dismissed with the lawyers requested to convene at the Supreme Court for the second appeal. 

During a press briefing on the criminal session which opened on March 16, 2020, Special Prosecutor of the CRIET evoked the NMF file for which Komi Koutche is subject to legal actions, among the dossiers to be studied…However this dossier was still the subject of a cassation procedure and the hearing on the cassation was on March 13, 2020. Apparently, the Special Prosecutor without any statement from the Supreme Court already knew the decision which would be taken the day after its press conference.

Unsurprisingly, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal and returns the file to the CRIET prosecutor. Komi Koutche’s lawyer receives a summons to appear for his client on March 24, 2020, but the summoned could not be honored due to the global shutdown enforced so as to curtail the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

And with all airports limiting or completely halting flights, Komi’s lawyers say honoring the summon was not possible and have rather picked on the government for failing to comply with the demand of the African Court on Human Rights which requested that Komi’s travel documents be reinstated.

“Even if Komi Koutche can travel, he risks extrajudicial arrest once he steps into the country” his defense team is quoted to have said as they struggle to vindicate their client against the unjust political prosecution he faces.  Nevertheless  late at night from Friday 03 to Saturday 04 April 2020 Komi Koutche was finally tried in absentia by the judges of the Court for the Repression of Economic Offenses and Terrorism (Criet) and sentenced to  20 years’ imprisonment and 100 million F CFA fines .

In the face of his judicial woes, and relentless persecution, Komi Koutche has continued to speak out on seminal issues concerning Benin. From castigating President Talon for confiscating power, to calling on the international to help rescue democracy in Benin, Komi Koutche seems to be sending the message that if judicial persecution was the way to silence him, the government of Benin got it wrong as he is still very much in the political game.

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Nigeria: On 2011 Elections, US Envoy Got It Wrong-Former President Goodluck Jonathan
April 6, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Ikechukwu Eze*

Former President Goodluck Jonathan

Our attention has been drawn to regurgitated discredited comments by John Campbell, a former United States Ambassador to Nigeria, who in a recent article on political developments in Nigeria, repeated his disproven assertions that the 2011 Presidential elections won by former President Goodluck Jonathan, was rigged.

Mr. Campbell styles himself as a ‘Nigeria expert’ at the Council for Foreign Relations, but in truth, he is regarded as a figure of ridicule in Nigeria for his postulations, which have repeatedly and consistently proven to be way off the mark.

How he can continue to make pretensions to be an expert on Nigeria, beats our imagination. Besides serving as a diplomat in his country’s embassy in our dear country, what other competences does Campbell possess to qualify as a Nigeria expert?

Sadly, he has continued to deploy his half-baked knowledge of the nation’s political environment and his closeness to the United States power brokers not only to canvass his ill-conceived political agenda, but to also exploit some Nigerian politicians.

For instance, because he is not well schooled in the tone and nuances of Nigerian politics, he had no way of knowing that the riots he cited in some cities in the north following the 2011 presidential election had nothing to do with his claims on rigging. Otherwise, why would Bauchi and Kano States, where former President Jonathan had only 16% and 15% of votes, witness the worst riots?

However, for the benefit of his audience, we will like to further state the following facts:

The 2011 Nigerian Presidential elections were adjudged by both local and international observers including the Commonwealth Election Monitoring Group and even the US contingent of both the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute, as the most credible and transparent elections in Nigeria, since our great nation returned to civil rule in 1999.

Speaking on 18 April 2011, the chair of the Commonwealth Election Observer Group, former Botswana President Festus Mogae, said the 2011 Nigerian elections “discarded the notion that the country can only hold flawed elections”.

He further said: “Previously held notions that Nigeria can only hold flawed elections are now being discarded and this country can now shake off that stigma and redeem its image.”

Secondly, the 2011 elections saw a 75% reduction in election petition cases in Nigeria and the United States Institute for Peace described the elections as the “best run” election in Nigeria’s history, saying, inter alia, that “Nigeria’s 2011 general elections–in particular the presidential election–were seen widely as being well-run. This was especially important, given the universally decried elections of 2007.”

Thirdly, on December 29, 2011, the Nigerian Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, declared that then President Jonathan was validly elected. It is important to note that this was a seven man panel, and there was no dissenting judgment. The verdict had no such precedent in Nigeria’s political history.

Former President Jonathan is known for his ‘one man, one vote, one woman, one vote, one youth one vote’ policy. Before the 2011 elections, he said “my ambition is not worth the blood of any citizen” and was indeed guided by that creed throughout the process. He is also on record to have publicly called on members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) not to even attempt to rig for him, stating that he was a pencil in God’s hands.

There is no doubt that Nigerians above 45 years witnessed the past six presidential elections in the country- 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019 – and are in a better position than Campbell to objectively appraise the processes. Today, our compatriots are focusing on such issues as electronic voting and complete independence of the electoral body INEC, as a way of strengthening our democracy, ahead of the next general elections. Anyone who means well for the country’s democracy should rather focus his attention on perspectives that could illuminate this path, not offer jaundiced and self-serving opinions on a settled past.

Perhaps this is the time to remind Campbell and other wheeling and dealing consultants like him that Nigerians have placed the 2011 elections behind them and are no longer in a position to welcome those who have nothing but sophistry to offer our citizens! As our own inimitable Fela would say, ‘Mr. Teacher don’t teach us nonsense’!

In the light of these overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the public, especially the esteemed audience of the Council on Foreign Relations, should ask themselves what Mr. Campbell’s motives are, especially as he has been known to act as a consultant to certain political interests in Nigeria.

*Spokesman to former President Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan

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Communiqué of the African Union (AU) Bureau of Heads of State and Government Teleconference Meeting held on 3 April 2020
April 6, 2020 | 0 Comments

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, April 6, 2020,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/- President Cyril Ramaphosa of the Republic of South Africa, and Chairperson of the African Union (AU) convened a second and follow-up teleconference meeting of the AU Bureau of Heads of State and Government, on 3 April 2020, to discuss the African response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The following members of the Bureau participated in the teleconference meeting: President Abdel Fattah al Sisi of the Arab Republic of Egypt, President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita of the Republic of Mali, President Uhuru Kenyatta of the Republic of Kenya, and President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as the Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat .

President Paul Kagame of the Republic of Rwanda, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia, President Macky Sall of the Republic of Senegal, and President Emmerson Mnangagwa of the Republic of Zimbabwe also participated in the teleconference. The Bureau received presentations from Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus the Director General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr John Nkengasong, Director of Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and President Emmanuel Macron of France.

Chairperson Faki briefed the Bureau on actions undertaken by the Commission on recommendations from the Bureau meeting on Covid19 held on 26 March 2020.

Dr John Nkengasong, Director of Africa CDC gave a continental update which highlighted rapidly increasing Covid-19 infection rates across the continent

Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus emphasised the importance of acting now to test and to guarantee equitable access to test kits, masks and personal protective equipment (PPEs), vaccines and therapeutics as soon as they become available.

The Bureau of Heads of State and Government commended the able stewardship of exemplary leadership of Dr Tedros in leading the global response to the pandemic.

The Heads of States highlighted the unprecedented threat that Covid-19 presents to the health of African citizens and to the continent’s hard-won developmental and economic gains. They also recognised the imperative to establish humanitarian and trade corridors in a spirit of African solidarity and integration.

Given the urgent need for medical supplies and equipment, the Heads of states called for international cooperation and support while up-scaling local production on the continent.

The Heads of States noted with satisfaction progress made in operationalising the African Union Covid-19 Response Fund established on 26 March 2020 to which members pledged the sum of US$12.5 million and an additional US$4.5million to the Africa CDC.

It was agreed to establish continental ministerial coordination committees on Health, Finance and Transport to coordinate in order to support the comprehensive continental strategy.

The Heads of States underscored the need for a comprehensive and coordinated continental approach, and to speak with one voice on Africa’s priorities.

Cognizant of the devastating socio-economic and political impact of the pandemic on African countries, the Bureau reiterated the need for rapid and concrete support as pledged by the G20 and other international partners, including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. It is critical that these institutions review their current disbursement policies to display flexibility and speed, including raising the availability of IMF Special Drawing Rights (SDRs). The Bureau also echoed the call for a comprehensive stimulus package for Africa, including, deferred payments, the immediate suspension of interest payments on Africa’s external public and private debt in order to create fiscal space for Covid-19 response measures.

Lifesaving supplies including PPEs, masks, gowns, and ventilators and other support devices are urgently needed. The Bureau commended the rapid action coordinated by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the Jack Ma Foundation in mobilising and distributing, with the support of the World Food Programme (WFP) and Africa CDC, over one million diagnostic tests, six million masks and 600,000 PPE items to all African Union member states in less than a week.

The Heads of States and Government strongly urged for the immediate lifting of all economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe and Sudan to allow them to adequately respond to the pandemic and save lives. The African Union has repeatedly called for the lifting of these punitive sanctions, which the Bureau consider intolerable and inhumane in the present context.

It was noted that the Sahel region need special attention in the light of terrorist activity, and pledge solidarity with the countries in this region who have to fight the twin scourge of terrorism and COVID-19.

The Heads of States and Government thanked President Emmanuel Macron for his strong support for Africa during the Extraordinary G20 Summit. The Bureau expressed its support for the proposals he raised regarding a comprehensive approach to mobilising international support for Africa’s health, economic, humanitarian, and medical research priorities, which are aligned with the in African position. The Bureau also acknowledged the commitment of the People’s Republic of China for its support and solidarity with Africa.

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of the African Union Commission.

Source : African Media Agency (AMA)

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Amnesty International, Foreign Newswires as Nigeria’s Second Coronavirus
April 3, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Ahmed Danfulani*

Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari (L) stands next to Nigeria chief of Army staff Tukur Yusuf Buratai during the opening ceremony of the military staff annual conference, on November 28, 2018, as part of his trip to visit troops on front lines of Boko Haram conflict. (Photo by Audu MARTE / AFP) (Photo credit should read AUDU MARTE/AFP/Getty Images)

Fear has been sold to the world with the outbreak of pandemic of Coronavirus (CONVID-19) in Wuhan, China. In just a few weeks, the entire world has been reduced to one huge symbol of deaths and of mass graves.

The phobia of Coronavirus is real and deafening. The victims are as scary as much as the non-victims.  Like a verse in the legendary South African reggae star, Lucky Dube, everybody “is the next victim,” unless the haunting image of Coronavirus is pulled down globally.  It has reached the shores of Nigeria with about 30 reported cases of infected people, with one death so far.

Regrettably though, Nigeria has seen enough mass deaths in her history in a decade to the extent the global alarm over Coronavirus induced deaths is mincemeat or child’s play in the psyche of Nigerians. Boko Haram insurgency, with its latest tincture, ISWAP terrorism have made mass deaths a regular menu in the country.

Can Nigerians excuse themselves from gory and nauseating memories of mass deaths and graves spurred by vicious armed bandits, armed separatists campaigners, herders/ farmers conflagrations, communal upheavals, militancy or religious extremists and even political thugs or violent election riggers? 

These memories are evergreen and recurs from time to time.
However, it should not be misconstrued that recounting these orgies of recurrent circle of  violence and deaths in Nigeria implies an endorsement or preference for it than the epidemic of Coronavirus. But it’s simply, a parodic attempt to establish how Nigerians are inured to mass deaths in other more demonic forms in the country than Coronavirus. 

And to date, Nigeria has been grappling with silent, but very sophisticated layers of Coronavirus in other colorations. Nigeria has been battling things far more deadly and contagious  than Coronavirus which neither the military nor the civil authorities have fully appreciated  its intensity in recent times.

The determination of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to blight insecurities in Nigeria, especially insurgency is unflinchingly consistent. And the unquenchable zeal and courageously gallant outings of the Nigerian military to also eliminate Boko Haram/ ISWAP terrorism in Nigeria is self-evident. But again, it is variously frustrated in more stealthy ways than the global invasion and spread of Coronavirus pandemic.

Many Nigerians may not be aware of the dark forces against the resurgence and festering of Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorism in the country. The problem with these latest security threats is not because insurgents or terrorists are so powerful to the level of repressing the Nigerian military. It is also beyond the contemplation that the FGN has not done commendably enough to terminate the reign of insecurities in Nigeria.

The major issues in the Northeast are not really the Boko Haram terrorists who, who like Coronavirus, sneak to hack people to death at will, abduct and destroy public infrastructures in the region.  It is also not the evil men who masquerade under the cover of NGOs to subject the already traumatized, frail and suffering victims of insurgency to inhumane and degrading treatment after taking so much from the outside world to assist them survive.

More than a few will also be shocked that it is also not the usual political actors who appear on the stage only when Boko Haram is at the losing end with their crocodile tears. But they initiate nothing to get youths off the streets to divert their attention from conscription as foot soldiers of terrorism. 

From these ponders, one will therefore hastily guess that it is Coronavirus pandemic that is Nigeria’s problem. But the real problem in the Northeast shockingly is not Coronavirus. After all it hasn’t been discovered in Nigeria beyond manageable stage, after the first case in Lagos.

On the contrary, the greatest existential threat to Nigeria now in respect to her battles with terrorism and insecurities is the role of Amnesty International (AI) and some foreign cables such as Reuters and AFP. They have constituted the worse stumbling blocks to Nigeria’s match towards exculpation from insurgencies and insurrections.

AI and these foreign online platforms have been the major disasters that our country has faced in its war against Boko Haram and  it is hideously more potent and lethal than Coronavirus.  And insurgency has attracted more deaths in Nigeria than Coronavirus has ever recorded anywhere in the world outside Wuhan in China.  

There is every clue to suspect AI and these foreign newswires as agents and fake news purveyors for terrorists and their external sponsors. Not only that they fabricate and circulate fake news on the FGN and the Nigerian Military’s confrontations with Boko Haram, but their extreme focus of propaganda on Nigeria on the fake side of news is repulsive.

AI has morphed into a daily news medium in Nigeria; inventing and syndicating news about terrorism and the Nigerian military encounters with terrorism in the Northeast. The common denominator among them all is that their published reports are permanently crafted to indict the Nigerian troops and Military authorities.

It does not usually have named attributions, but speculative and propagandic. It drapes with everything which conveys the message that these actors are into active promotion of cyberspace terrorism.  And the world frowns at it and there are laws which prohibits it.

Nonetheless, these vicious enemies of Nigeria make generous, but unprovable allegations against the Nigerian military such as human rights violations, extra-judicial killings, sexual abuse of women, use of child soldiers, starvation of Boko Harm suspects in military detention facilities, unlawful arrests and detentions and sundry such constructions of offences of war crimes. 

But sadly, while they level such allegations on the military, these suspected agents of terrorists are less bothered to confirm their findings from military authorities before  rushing to the press with the scanty findings from what they usually term “eyewitness” account. And the “eyewitness accounts” are usually their planted agents in the theatre of war  in the Northeast  or outrightly cooked sources.  

Therefore, they reel out very alarming and unsubstantiated casualty figures. When terrorists triumph against troops or not, a news story is crafted to give credit to the “invincible” might of terrorists, to cause anxiety in Nigerians and dampen the spirit of troops. These agents are normally the first to break the news of Boko Haram attacks on any community, an indication that they might be privy to such attacks before its occurrence.  It means they are likely working closely with terrorists.

In its 2015/2016 annual report on Nigeria, AI levelled such senseless allegations of war crimes against the Nigerian Army prosecuting the Boko Haram insurgency in the Northeast as well as other security agencies.
 

However, when several probe panels invited them to substantiate the allegations, AI hedged and adduced excuses on lack of trust in members of the Panel. From its reaction, it was clear that AI was functioning like an opposition party or alternative government in Nigeria. And it had no evidence to prove the allegations.   

And the scheming of AI and its apostates is to perpetually and falsely accuse Nigerian Military of war crimes in prosecution of the counter-insurgency combats in the country.  And therefore, frustrate plans by countries of goodwill to sell weapons to Nigeria to battle Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists, citing human rights violations and war crimes against Nigeria.  
 

So, AI and these online newswires are Nigeria’s worse version of Coronavirus more than the pandemic itself.  Any country will be glad to accept Coronavirus, but pray fervently never to have these agents of darkness gang-up or occupy their country in the guise of anything.

Nigerians should not forget that AI and these newswires as well as their external sponsors are very determined to set the people against themselves. Over the years, this has been the game plan, which is designed to finally plunge Nigeria into an interminable war like in Syria or Sudan.  But the plans have so far not succeeded because Nigerians are aware and have refused to fall for their cheap propaganda. Nigerians are urged to remain steadfast and vigilant. 

*Danfulani wrote from Yola, Adamawa State. The views are his

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A Political Witch Hunt of Epic Proportions For Komi Koutche in Benin
April 2, 2020 | 0 Comments

No one in Benin political memory would have been so much persecuted. Komi Koutché became since 2016, the national “pigñata” of the sitting government in Cotonou. On the pretext of fighting corruption, this young man, for whom many predicted a bright political future  has been unjustly harassed, slandered and sued, all because of his popularity, his swift political ascension and  impressive track record. Since most of the facts fueling  such unprecedent witch-hunt are not well known to the general public, let’s review in chronological order the facts surrounding the relentless attempt to destroy the political career of the former State Minister of Benin by the Government of Benin and his President.

 July and August 2017: The Republic of Benin Council of Ministers presided by the Head of State Patrice Talon, released two audit reports. The first audit report  was about the Benin cotton industry in Benin and the second one about the management of  the National Microfinance Fund (NMF). The council of Ministers was transformed for the occasion into an indictment court. The council pronounced a staunch indictment  on  Mr. Komi Koutche’s Management of the National Microfinance Fund and  alleged misconduct by the audit reports. Joseph Djogbenou, then Minister of Justice, was instructed to initiate legal proceedings against Mr. Koutche; It is worth nothing that the Minister was not extended due process and wasn’t heard in the proceeding as required by auditing rules and regulations.

August 2017: Mr. Komi Koutché filed a complaint before the  Benin constitutional court on two counts  (the Cotton’s audit and the National Microfinance  Fund’s audit) alleging the violation of his rights to be heard during the audit proceeding as required by law for all audit proceeding.

December 5, 2017: The constitutional court, presided by Professor Theodore HOLO, squashed the cotton audit ruling and declares that the government has violated the country’s constitution. The appeal about the National Microfinance Fund (NMF) hasn’t be reviewed because the government didn’t respond to the investigatory measure indicated by the Court;

June 07, 2018: Joseph Djogbenou, Minister of Justice responsible for prosecuting Komi Koutche became President of the Constitutional Court.

December 06, 2018: The Djogbenou court brings back Komi Koutche’s NMF appeal and proceeds to an absolute turnaround in the case-law stating that the lack of hearing during an audit procedure is not a violation of the Constitution.

April 02, 2018: Convocation of Komi Koutche by the investigating judge of the first office of the Cotonou Court of First Instance in April 04, 2018. Komi Koutche living abroad could not be present within that period;

April 04, 2018: Signature of an arrest warrant by the judge;

April 06, 2018: Presentation of Komi Koutche to the judge. He finds no reason to arrest him as requested by the prosecutor. By order, he sets aside the arrest warrant of April 4, 2018. Disciplinary proceedings will be opened afterwards against Komi Koutche.

July 2018: Creation of the CRIET (Criminal enforcement of financial and terrorism offences Court) and transfer of Komi Koutche file to the CRIET;

August 27, 2018: The government decides to cancel Komi Koutche’s regular passport and all police units are being instructed via a radio message to make his extrajudicial arrest.

December 14, 2018: Komi Koutche was arrested in Madrid on a fraudulent notification to Interpol of the loss of his passport. The government notarized the same day the April 04, 2018 arrest warrant, previously canceled by the judge, and transmited it to Interpol. An extradition request was transmitted the same day.

December 27, 2018: Aware of the false alibi for the arrest, a new arrest warrant for regularization was issued under the pretext that Komi Koutche did not respond to a CRIET convocation on December 18, 2018 while he was incarcerated in Madrid. An additional extradition request was made to the Spanish courts;

January 17, 2018: Release of Komi Koutche by the Spanish investigating judge handling the case;

April 23, 2019: Spanish justice rejects Komi Koutche’s extradition request without the possibility of an appeal, the main reasons being the alleged offenses could not be justified, the CRIET does not offer guarantees of a fair trial, the basics principles of law would be violated since the ordinary judge in charge of the case was relinquished for the benefit of a new special court. Spanish justice concludes this is a political persecution.

Komi Koutche’s team believes his persecution is political with the intent to to convict by default the most feared political opponent of the regime
Komi Koutche’s team believes his persecution is political with the intent to convict by default the most feared political opponent of the regime

July 2, 2019: At its 109th session, Interpol, upon reviewing the issue through its legal department, concludes it’s a political file and decides to delete all the data in its database about Komi Koutche. Moreover, Interpol notifies all its operation worldwide that any police collaboration under the pretext of international cooperation would be a violation of the constitution of the organization. This position applies as well for the French and the Guinean criminal police.

July 22, 2019: Komi Koutche is deprived of all rights to obtain administrative and civil status documents in his country.

September 24, 2019: Komi Koutche is referred back to the CRIET criminal chamber. The lawyers raise a second appeal in the case;

September 30, 2019: On behalf of the Supreme Court, the government recruits 5 retired magistrates on about twenty files. The 5 magistrates selected raise the problem of objectivity. Curiously, it is at this moment that the dossier is activated at the Supreme Court and conveniently, one of the 5 retired magistrates is designated rapporteur; the NMF file is entrusted to one of these magistrates;

November 14, 2019: Two lawyers from Joseph Djogbenou and Quenum Severin’s firms requested an abbreviation for proceedings deadline, which was granted to them by the Supreme Court;

December 02, 2019: The African court of human rights orders the Beninese government to rescind the abusive decision to cancel Komi Koutche’s passport and shall refer the rest of the claims to the fund;

December 13, 2019: The U.S. administration concluded that this is a lawsuit based on political persecution.

January 28, 2020: Komi Koutche’s lawyers have been convened on the first appeal. It should be recalled that the lawyers mentioned the regularization warrant of December 27, 2018, issued under the pretext their client had not responded to a convocation on December 18, 2018 was pointless since the issuers knew that Komi Koutche was already incarcerated in Madrid during this period. Curiously, the appeal was dismissed.

From December 14, 2018 to January 17, 2019, Komi Koutche was in prison in Madrid, how could this be possible for him to respond to a convocation in Cotonou on December 18, 2018 ?

March 10, 2020: Komi Koutche’s lawyers are convened by the Supreme Court in March 13, 2020 for the second appeal. The statement of the opposing party was not communicated to them as is the usual practices of law

March 11, 2020: redeployment of CRIET judges at the Council of Ministers following the spectacular turnaround of the constitutional court and the adoption of a new law to install the right to appeal to a higher court. The judges are, for the most part, those who animated the CRIET in its previous format. There is every reason to believe that all of this was done to give a distorted impression of having corrected the grievances of the international community and those of other credible jurisdictions, before passing the Komi Koutche’s file to trial.

Then State Minister of Finance (left) signing the second millenium challenge compact under with the CEO of MCC Dana Hyde under the watchful eyes of Former US Vice President and Presidential hopeful Joe Biden and former two term President of Benin Boni YAYI

March 12, 2020: The Special Prosecutor of the CRIET, during a press briefing on the criminal session which opened on March 16, 2020, evoked the NMF file for which Komi Koutche is subject of legal actions, among the dossiers to be studied…However this dossier was still the subject of a cassation procedure and the hearing on the cassation was in March 13, 2020. Apparently the Special Prosecutor without any statement from the Supreme Court, already knew the decision which would be taken the day after its press conference;

March 13, 2020: Unsurprisingly, the Supreme Court dismisses the appeal and returns the file to the CRIET prosecutor as he had prophesied the day before.

March 24, 2020: Komi Koutche’s lawyer receives a summons to appear for his client. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic where almost all the airports in the world are closed, we can only wonder how Komi Koutche, who is known to live outside Benin,  can respond to such a convocation. To this must be added that despite the injunctions of the African court of human rights, the government did not comply with the injunction requesting the cancellation of the passport. Even if Komi Koutche can travel, a risk of extrajudicial arrest if he steps into the country remains, based on a radio message that accompanied the decision to cancel the passport. Moreover, the authorities announced a systematic 14-days quarantine for of all those who come from abroad. How under these conditions is it possible to respond to a summons on April 03, 2020.

This chronological summary of the facts and circumstances shows we are not in a fair trial but in a political deal intended to convict by default the most feared political opponent for the regime, as it was already the case with other opponents in exile. In any cases, Komi Koutche has already one advantage: this matter is known by international judicial authorities which have exposed the subterfuge.

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Uganda: Respect Rights in COVID-19 Response
April 2, 2020 | 0 Comments

Ensure Security Forces Refrain From Violence, Abuse

KAMPALA, Uganda, April 2, 2020-/African Media Agency (AMA)/-The Ugandan government should ensure that its security forces refrain from using excessive force or committing other abuses when enforcing measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Security forces have been using excessive force to enforce the government’s COVID-19 measures,” said Oryem Nyeko, Uganda researcher at Human Rights Watch. “As we face an unprecedented public health challenge, it is all the more important for the government to ensure that it does not become a human rights crisis.”

Uganda currently has 44 confirmed cases, but no deaths. The government has imposed increasingly restrictive measures aimed at preventing the spread of the virus.

On March 25, 2020, the government banned public transport and non-food markets. Prior to that it had closed all bars and instituted a mandatory quarantine in hotels for Ugandans returning from high risk countries, for which those in quarantine initially had to pay for. The government has also closed public court hearings.

On March 30, President Yoweri Museveni announced several additional measures, including a nighttime curfew, banning the use of all privately-owned vehicles, and closing shopping malls and non-food stores for 14 days.

The next day, Richard Karemire, the Ugandan army spokesman, announced that the police, the army, and an armed community-policing paramilitary group called the Local Defense Unit (LDU), coordinated by the Ugandan army, would conduct patrols to help enforce the directive. However, security forces have used excessive force, including beating, shooting, and arbitrarily detaining people across the country.

On March 23, media reported that soldiers beat locals in Mityana district, outside of Kampala, who they said were not respecting the order to close bars. On March 24, Agnes Linda Auma, the resident district commissioner in charge of security in Amuru district, Northern Uganda, threatened during a radio interview to beat people who congregated in public spaces.

On March 26, police shot two construction workers, Alex Oryem and Kassim Ssebudde, who were riding a motorcycle taxi in Mukono, outside of Kampala, despite the ban on motorcycle transport with multiple passengers. On the afternoon of March 28, six police officers shot at a group of people in Bududa, in the Eastern region of Uganda, injuring one, ostensibly to enforce the ban on public gatherings. Police subsequently arrested David Agaba, the policeman in command. 

On March 26, members of the LDU used wires and sticks to beat people, including vendors selling fruit and vegetables and motorcycle riders, in downtown Kampala in an apparent attempt to punish non-compliance with the measures to close non-food markets.

“They found women [selling fruit and vegetables], they started chasing them,” said Alex Esagala, a photojournalist who witnessed the events. “Those who could manage ran away, and those who could not manage, the [officers] started caning them. [One woman] started crying in Luganda, ‘Why are you beating me? What crime have I committed? I am trying to survive!’”

On March 30, the Army Chief of Defense Forces, David Muhoozi, publicly apologized to Hadijah Aloyo, Christine Awori, and Safia Achaya, three victims of the LDU attacks, and announced that the military would hold the individual members responsible, without specifying how. He also announced that there would be a new commander for the units in Kampala.

On March 31, Alfred Ssembajjwe, a journalist, told Human Rights Watch that LDU personnel wielding sticks attacked him and the driver of a motorcycle taxi in Makindye, in Kampala, the night before. The officers demanded a bribe from him then let him go.

“We fell into the trench,” he said. “My knee got injured and my foot was torn. […]  They told me I have to pay 250,000 shillings [US$65] to [release] me and the boda boda [motorcycle taxi].” 

On March 29, community residents and police raided a shelter for homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth in Wakiso, outside of Kampala, and beat and arrested 23 people, including shelter residents, Human Rights and Protection Forum (HRAPF), a legal aid organization, reported. Its lawyers believe the youth were targeted because of their sexual orientation, though police charged them with “a negligent act likely to spread infection of disease” and “disobedience of lawful orders” for allegedly disobeying the government’s directives by residing in the shelter.

States parties to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights are obliged to take appropriate measures to give effect to the rights, duties, and freedoms enshrined in the charter, including through taking measures necessary for preventing threats to the life, safety, and health of people, but these measures must also respect human and peoples’ rights and protect vulnerable groups.

“The basic human rights of people should be at the center of the government’s response to this pandemic, especially those who are most vulnerable like street vendors, and homeless youth,” Nyeko said, “The government should immediately instruct all enforcement officers not to use violence and publicly hold those who do commit abuses to account.”

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of  Human Rights .

Source : African Media Agency (AMA)

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Mozambique: President Nyusi declares state of emergency
March 30, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Jorge dos Santos*

President Nyusi
President Nyusi

Mozambique should be in a state of emergency from 00:00 on 1 April, for 30 days in response to Covid-19, mozambican president Filipe Nyusi announced on Monday night saying that he himself submitted the proposal to parliament hoping it should be ratified on Tuesday.

In a statement to the nation, Nyusi also announced new measures to be implemented in the framework of strengthening prevention against the new coronavirus. Mozambique has a record of eight confirmed cases, of which six were imported cases of the virus and two were transmitted locally.

The measures include 14 days obligatory quarantine for all people who have recently travelled outside the country or who have had contact with confirmed cases of covid-19; a ban on any public or private event, such as religious worship, cultural, recreational, sporting, political, associative, tourist or any other idol except for unavoidable issues of State or social;

The internal circulation of people in any part of the national territory has been limited as well as the entry of people at land borders, airports and ports except for reasons of State interest or transport of goods and merchandise related to health.

Nyusi also said that commercial establishments of entertainment or similar should be closed; There should be monitoring of the prices of essential goods for the population including those necessary for the prevention and combat of the pandemic; The industrial sector is now oriented to the production of inputs necessary to combat the Covid-19.

Sustainable fiscal and monetary policy measures should also be adopted to support the private sector to face the economic impact of the pandemic and to introduce labour turnover or other modalities according to the specificity of the public and private sectors as well as to ensure the implementation of the prevention measures announced by the Ministry of Health in all public and private institutions.

Nyusi admitted that, although the measures are phase 3, and not lockdown, they are extreme and called for people to obey unconditionally.

“Stay home and break the network of the disease spreading,” he said.

*jorgedossantosmz@gmail.com

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Communiqué of the Chairperson on the Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria and Chad
March 25, 2020 | 0 Comments

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, March 25, 2020,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/- The Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat, has learned with deep sadness of the deadly and quasi simultaneous attacks perpetrated by Boko Haram against a Chadian army position in the area of Boma, in the Lake Chad region, and a convoy of the Nigerian army in Konduga in Borno State,Nigeria.

During these attacks, 92 soldiers were killed and 47 wounded on the Chadian army side, and 70 Nigerian soldiers were killed. In this particularly painful circumstance, the Chairperson expresses his sincere condolences and total solidarity with the President of the Republic of Chad HE Idriss Deby Itno and the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria HE Muhammadu Buhari, as well as to the defence and security forces of the two countries.These attacks are yet a further stark reminder that terrorism remains particularly aggressive in the Lake Chad basin, as it is throughout the Sahel region.

The Chairperson urgently appeals for continental and international solidarity with the countries of the Lake Chad basin and the G5 Sahel region who are at the forefront of the fight against terrorism.

The Chairperson respectfully bows before the memory of the Chadian and Nigerian soldiers who fell in the field of battle. He also extends his deepest condolences to the families of the victims and wishes a speedy recovery to the wounded.

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of the African Union Commission.

Source : African Media Agency (AMA)

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Malawi: Rerun of Presidential Elections Set for July
March 25, 2020 | 0 Comments

By James Mwala

It will back to square one for incumbent President Mutharika whose victory was annulled.

The South African nation will now hold its ordered fresh presidential elections on 2nd July this year, the electoral body has said.

This follows the launch of the electoral calendar.

The Constitutional Court had in February this year ordered for the nullification of the results in which Peter Mutharika was declared the winner.

Now, the Malawi Electoral Commission has indicated people will vote early July, a decision that is however being protested by opposition parties under the banner of the Malawi Congress Party and UTM.

Former President Joyce Banda’s Peoples Party has also joined the fold which in total has nine parties.

The parties insist that the commissioners should step down and not lead the elections following their admonishment by the Constitutional court and an appointments committee of parliament.

MEC Chairperson Jane Ansah however told the media that the commission ready to oversee the elections.

In the calendar, people will register their names in the roll from 4th April to 7th June, a task they say will be in four phases.

The commission will then start the official campaign period from 2nd May to 30th June.

The elections will be managed with funds amounting to K34 billion, although Ansah sees it rising due to disruption of activities as there is a public gathering ban due to corona virus fears.

President Mutharika recently denied to assent to the electoral bills and threw out demands to axe the commissioners.

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Mozambican city under extremist attack
March 23, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Jorge dos Santos*

A group of armed men invaded today Mocimboa da Praia, in the gas-rich province of Cabo Delgado, being part of the village under the command of the attackers who even raised their flag, announced on Monday the spokesman of the general command of the mozambican Police, Orlando Mudumane.

The attackers also invaded and took over the local Defence and Security Forces barracks, he added at a press conference where journalists had no space for questions.

Mudumane said the attackers created barricades at the main entrances to the town, with the Defence and Security Forces fighting them in crossfire and it is believed that at any moment order will be restored.

A source living in Mocimboa da Praia told Pan African Visions that it is an unprecedented attack and everyone was taken by surprise.

“Some have managed to escape into the bush but in general we are all hiding in our homes” he said. “From here we hear very strong shots and there’s no prediction of the end”

Another source said the flags the attackers raised are black with Arabic script.

Cabo Delgado has been under armed attack since October 2017. The authors are unknown, although the Islamic state has claimed some of them. More than 900 people have already lost their lives victims of the faceless mystery.

*jorgedossantosmz@gmail.com

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Cameroon:Law On Official Languages Will Yield Results If Embraced By All-George Ngwane
March 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

Following the promulgation into law on the promotion of Official Languages (English and French) on the 24th December 2019 by the President of the Republic, the National Commission for the Promotion of Bilingualism and Multiculturalism is heralding a nation-wide mission aimed at exchanging views with targeted professionals on the merits of this law on Bilingualism. The Sun newspaper’s Managing Editor Wasso Norbert Binde caught up with a scholar on Language Commissions, prolific writer and conflict management panAfricanist Mwalimu George Ngwane to shed some light in an interview on some of the black and white provisions found in the law.

The added value is that this law now transforms our official languages from a state policy to a citizen policy action instrument, says Mwalimu Ngwane

Mwalimu, first of all thank you for accepting to grant us an interview on the law of Official Languages in Cameroon. As a scholar on Language Acts and  Commissions,What is the novelty in this law?

Thanks for inviting me to engage your readers about this law. As you may know this is the first time in the life of our country to have a law on bilingualism. Granted that Article 1 sub 3 of our constitution stipulates that English and French are of equal status and granted as well that there exist a plethora of legal instruments that make bilingualism in Cameroon a state policy. I must also add here that barely in its two and a half years of existence the National Commission for the Promotion of Bilingualism and Multiculturalism has been associated with the conception of such a law. So for me the added value is that this law now transforms our official languages from a state policy to a citizen policy action instrument. In other words the law on bilingualism can be seen as an important step on the journey to upscaling the language rights of Cameroonians especially those from the minority official language community. It is now the responsibility of all public entities to make bilingualism a more robust user-centered and citizen-friendly activity.

But certain sections of the law have come under criticism right from the time the bill was sent to  Parliament

That is true and I am sure you are referring especially to Section 19 and Section 26 which on the surface are controversial with regard to those of us who come from the Anglophone regions of the North West and South West. Just to refresh the minds of your readers Section 19 says Official correspondences between public entities shall be written in either of the two languages while Section 26 says English and French shall be used indiscriminately in ordinary law and special courts. Now these two Sections can be examined through the Language Commission prism of Inference and Interpretation. By Inference we may jump into the conclusion that correspondences or court communication in the Anglophone region may be rendered in French even though the language community is predominantly English-speaking- something which the Anglophone lawyers fought against as from 2015.  But by Interpretation, at least from the perspective of any language body it must be made clear that laws on Official Languages focus on the principles of proportionality and specificity. Proportionality means Official language used is reflected by the proportion of language users in that community while the principle of specificity is informed by the historical and linguistic specificity of the language community. More so Section 26 sub 2 says court decisions shall be done following the language choice of the litigant. One can replace the legal term “litigant” with the global term “user” to mean that oral or written communication in any situation must respect the language choice of the user. This is what is called the principle of active offer. However with regard to official written correspondences served in either of the two languages it would have also been ideal to write both languages side by side as it is the case between Welsh and English in the United Kingdom or one language above the other as it is with some other bilingual communities.

While there are still some grey areas, Mwalimu Ngwane believes that the law marks significant progress

Let us take the case of our courts, what do you do if the Magistrate or Legal personnel does not speak or understand the language of the litigant?

I am told that the courts normally have Interpreters even though complaints have been made about some of them in relation to their mastery of oral translation. But this is an area to be examined seriously so that our courts and other public entities have Interpreters whose integrity and performance cannot be questioned. Secondly there is a need for public servants at a certain level and in this case Magistrates and others of their rank to be sufficiently bilingual. So the recommendation to your specific question is that bilingualism is something which all professional schools must henceforth take more seriously. Our government and I am sure this is within the purview of the Commission on Bilingualism should be working on what Canadians call the Public Service Official Languages Appointment Regulation or what we may simply call the Bilingualism Proficiency Appointment Charter. This is a Charter that places premium on appointment to certain positions in the public service based on the individual’s bilingual capacity. Third, team spirit is very important in the dispensation of bilingual communication so having less bilingual and more bilingual personnel or two from different language communities working side by side is an option to also consider. And this should be from the front desk workers like mail officers, secretaries, janitors, security guards etc to the highest working level.

You just talked of translation and we find poor translation in some of our official documents, billboards and public notices; what is the problem?

I am happy you said some of… because frankly the bulk of our translation is fantastic. Cameroon has about the most talented professional Translators and Interpreters in the world. They are found in most continental and world bodies, ample testimony that our Schools of Translators and Interpreters meet up with global standards. When the Commission on Bilingualism visited the various Ministries and parapublic institutions they discovered that most of them have Translation units. So the problem with some of the poor translation you are referring to cannot be due to a lack of professional Translators. Could it be that some of the Translators are not functionally empowered, could this arise from the erroneous notion that a minimum knowledge of the two languages can just qualify you as a Translator or could it just be a neglect of the fundamental role professional Translators play in our society? I am sure members of the Association of Professional Translators and Interpreters can best answer your question.

Now, let us come back again to the law proper, what do you consider as some of the strong sections in this law?

I am sorry I cannot quote all of the positive sections by heart. However I know of one that stipulates the right of every citizen to freely communicate in the language of their choice so expressions like “je ne comprend pas ton Anglais la” or “ you are even speaking Mbouda French” should now be stigmas or pejoratives of the past. Another section also talks of the state providing incentives for greater proficiency or what is called bilingualism bonus. I also have in mind I think it is Section 16 that encourages code switching which means using both languages alternately in the same official speech.

And which are the dark areas or sections?

I prefer to call them the grey areas because they are a little loose ended and open to subjective implementation. We have already talked of Sections 19 and 26 although I must add that other public entities like the health sector where  diagnosis and prescriptions are made by the medical practitioner to a patient in a language the patient does not master. How about the notion of bilingual colleges today/ How about the monolingual medium of instruction in some professional schools including those in the Anglophone region?  Yet and on a very personal assessment I feel  much has been covered in our bilingualism journey from the time I was arrested and locked up in March 1990 just for writing and questioning the validity of our bilingualism state policy to today where state officials use both languages effortlessly. Thirty years after it is both a personal vindication for me and a linguistic paradigm shift for the government. Of course we have not yet arrived but we are on track.

A key proposal from Mwalimu Ngwane is the government working on the creation of Bilingualism Proficiency Appointment Charter similar to what the Canadians call the Public Service Official Languages Appointment Regulation

Finally what sanctions are written in the law for those who violate these provisions?

Well, sanctions have not been implicitly built into the law.  We all wish they were because implementation is a problem with especially state officials. But my take is that first those who do not implement the law expose themselves to self-sanctions because they limit their chances on career upward mobility. Second I think it must be Section 27 of this law that says the state shall ensure the monitoring and evaluation of the law through an Advisory body. That Advisory body I am certain is the Commission on Bilingualism which has the role of receiving complaints or petitions from the public on the violation of their linguistic freedom or abuse of their language rights. It has already been doing this through its webpage and telephone hotline 1518. Most language commissions prefer the tongue rather than the teeth approach to sanctions. By this they carry out investigations, send reports to other state bodies like Human Rights or Parliament, call the violator to order through oral or written means or sometimes do a kind of name and shame report on the violator.

Any final word Mwalimu?

No law is static and when it comes to law on languages it is always prone to revisions and amendments based on public feedback and contestations. The Welsh Language Act of 1993 has been revised so many times and already in 2015 they have a new language law called the Wales Measure. I was privileged thanks to the Commonwealth Professional Fellowship offered me in 2016 to have understudied the Welsh Language Commissioner in Wales. Other Official Language Acts in Northern Canada, Belgium, Spain and Ireland have been subjected to revisions and amendments after being tested on the field.  It is therefore advisable for governments to be sensitive to citizen response to the law on languages. But before then let us give the language law a chance to be tested on the field for like it is said in French “le macon sera connu au pied du mur”.

Thanks Mwalimu

My pleasure Sir

*Culled from The Sun Newspaper. Photo Illustrations by PAV

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Mozambique suspends the issuing of any visa to the country and bans events with more than 50 people
March 20, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Jorge dos Santos*

President Felipe Nyusi

The Mozambican government has decided to suspend the issuance of entry visas to the country and to cancel all those already issued, as well as to prohibit events with more than 50 people, to stop the spread of coronavirus, President Nyusi announced in an address to the nation on friday.

Other measures include closing all schools, private and public, from pre-school through to higher education; mandatory 14-day quarantine of all citizens from any country and all social gatherings of over 50 people are suspended, including celebrations, sporting or cultural events, and religious ceremonies.

The measures take effect from Monday 23 March, with a 30-day extension, Nyusi said adding that Mozambique has not yet confirmed any cases, but preventive measures need to be strengthened because data indicate for “galloping spread” of the disease at regional and global level.

“The disease is affecting 160 countries today, which shows that it does not respect borders” said Nyusi. “Most countries in the region, including some bordering Mozambique, have reported the first cases of the disease, putting us at imminent risk and of great concern”

To date, the Mozambican authorities have identified and tested 35 suspects with negative results. 267 people from high-risk countries are in home quarantine.

“Fortunately so far we have no record of any suspicious cases, including in the diaspora” Nyusi said noting that this is a time of great challenges for the Mozambican nation that demands serenity and a sense of strong unity from all.

On the occasion, the president also announced the creation of a technical-scientific commission headed by the minister of health that brings together various professionals from various specialties with the task of advising the government in making decisions based on scientific evidence.

“We also want that on the basis of the commission there is a shortening of the circuit of consultations by the government” he said.

The government has also imposed an obligation to implement protection measures by public and private institutions, including commercial operators, in order to reduce the risk of contamination, as well as strengthen inspection and surveillance measures in order to ensure normality in the supply chain.

*jorgedossantosmz@gmail.com

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