• JUST IN: Finally, President Adama Barrow breaks silence on multi-national forces in country

    25/Jan/2017 // 3895 Viewers

     

    Gambian President Adama Barrow has requested that troops of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) should remain in his country for the next six months.

    ECOWAS Commission President Marcel Alain de Souza, who revealed this yesterday in Abuja, said Barrow would go back to his country from Senegal as soon as it was convenient.

    He said the regional body was doing everything possible to ensure that Barrow return to his country.

    “He will go when he is sure that the country is safe for him,” de Souza said.

    He noted that the ECOWAS force must be sure that there is no stockpiling of arms.

    Barrow, according to the president of ECOWAS Commission, also requested that sufficient force be on ground for the next six months.

    On the request of amnesty by former President Yahya Jammeh, de-Souza said it was yet to be approved by ECOWAS, African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN).

    He explained that such a request must get the nod of these bodies before it can be granted, stressing that the blanket request of the former president, which includes his family members, supporters and aides would have to follow UN procedures.

    The ECOWAS Commission boss hinted that the former strongman might not get all what he requested for, as he cannot be guaranteed anything outside what any other citizen in the country gets.

    He stressed that the constitution and the laws would have to be enforced as the UN, AU and ECOWAS have to validate his request.

    The ECOWAS has told President Barrow not to witch-hunt his predecessor.
    The regional body advised that the issue of unifying and rebuilding of the country should be paramount.

    Also yesterday, the Gambian National Assembly revoked a state of emergency declared by Jammeh in an attempt to stay in power.


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  • Liberia celebrates 169 years of independence

    25/Jul/2016 // 346 Viewers

     

    Liberia celebrates 169 years of independence Tuesday. Some Liberians say there is little to celebrate in the face of economic difficulties. But Liberia’s ambassador to the United States, Jeremiah Sulunteh, said while there are some challenges, the country has made remarkable progress under President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

    “This year, we are celebrating our independence with the theme: 
    ‘Consolidating Progress Toward Transformation’ of Liberia. As you know, the Agenda 2030 that has been encouraged by our president is a long-range plan. And so every progress we are making toward the transformation of Liberia needs to be celebrated,” he said.
    Ambassador Sulunteh said much progress has been made in the government’s effort to rehabilitate some of Liberia’s broken infrastructure as a result of civil war.

    “The Mount Coffee Hydroelectric project is coming alive, hopefully in December; we have miles of roads that have been paved that were never touched during last 20-30 years. So, there’s a lot of progress being made, but at the same time we still have challenges,” he said.

    Sulunteh, who has been Liberia’s ambassador in Washington for the last four years, said this year’s Independence Day celebration will be his last. He said he hopes to be part of the political process in 2017 when the country will be electing a successor to President Johnson Sirleaf.
    “Usually, diplomats are posted for four years, but at the same time you serve at the will and pleasure of the president. So are calculating and assuming that we will be here for four years. This should be my last independence celebration, and we look forward to serving the Liberian people in another capacity,” he said.

    Ambassador Sulunteh said some presidential candidates have been speaking with him for what he calls possible collaboration.

    “The truth of the matter is many of the presidential candidates are talking not only to me. I know everyone is talking to someone. So people have been asking us what role we might want to play in their own camp. But the bigger picture is for Liberia,” Sulunteh said.
     
    Marking the independence anniversary, there have been cultural performances at the Liberian embassy as vendors from across the Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia area sold Liberian food, including cassava leaves, fufu and soup, check rice with gravy, and a lot more.
    Some Liberians like former journalist Jerry Wion said Liberia has made very little progress under President Johnson Sirleaf apart from the fact there has been no war.

    “We have nothing to celebrate. The army, police, immigration, health care workers in President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s hometown of Bomi, Tubmanburg, they have not been paid for three months. The American dollar is now scarce in Liberia. The rate of exchange is now 100 Liberian dollars to 1 US dollar. What is there to celebrate?”
    The U.S. and Liberian dollars are both legal tenders for Liberia.
    Wion also said the government has neglected the country’s health care system.

    “Yesterday, the minister of state for Presidential Affairs, Edward McClain died in a hospital in South Africa; the former associate justice to the Supreme Court Emmanuel Wureh died in Ghana. Why are they not going to JFK [main government hospital in Liberia] instead going to foreign countries? Because the government has neglected the health care system in Liberia,” Wion said.

    Another Liberian, Lahai Swaray, vice chair of the Patriot Movement – a group that wants to elect Vice President Joseph Boakai to succeed President Johnson Sirleaf – said the vice president will solve the country’s economic problems if elected in 2017.

    “I’m excited to be here to celebrate our country’s independence today. Mostly importantly the reason for my being here is to mobilize our Liberian youth and our Liberian public to tell them more about Honorable Joseph Boakai. I will tell you that he has the solution to take us to the next level economically,” Swaray said. - AP


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  • Hello Gambia! Beijing is searching far and wide for allies to back its grab of the South China Sea

    26/Apr/2016 // 440 Viewers

     

    China has a habit of making improbably grouped friends. When it held a World War 2 victory parade last year, key attendees included officials from East Timor, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and North Korea.
    Today Beijing is cobbling together a similarly incongruous group of nations in support of its position on the South China Sea—ahead of an upcoming ruling in an international court that isn’t likely to go China’s way.
    China says nearly all of the South China Sea is its territory, basing its claim partly on a nine-dash line drawn after the end of World War 2—a line that conflicts with the claims of other nations in the area, including the Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia. The Philippines is legally challenging the validity of that line, saying it violates agreements about exclusive economic zones and territorial seas established by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The Permanent Court of Arbitration under the United Nations will issue a ruling, likely in late May or early June.
    China has refused to recognize the court’s authority in the matter and says its position—that the issue should be resolved directly between the nations involved—will not change regardless of the ruling. In the meantime, it’s drumming up international support to complement its militarization, island-building, and aggressive fishing in the sea.
    Last week Gambia released a statement expressing its support for China’s position. It said that China had “indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea islands and the adjacent waters” that the court has “no jurisdiction in pronouncing a verdict on maritime boundaries in the South China Sea,” and that the matter ought to be resolved bilaterally. Gambia, which lies on Africa’s west coast and faces the Atlantic Ocean, would seem a rather odd nation to be weighing in on the matter.
    Not every ally Beijing has enlisted is so remote. China’s foreign ministry indicated over the weekend that three nations in Southeast Asia have voiced their support for Beijing’s position: Laos, Cambodia, and Brunei. All three oppose “any attempt to unilaterally impose an agenda,” according to state news wire Xinhua, and agree that nations should resolve disputes between themselves.
    Of course, Laos is completely landlocked, and Cambodia’s single stretch of coastline faces the Gulf of Thailand, well removed from the waters around China’s nine-dash line. China is also a major aid donor to and trade partner with both of the economically challenged nations. Brunei actually does face the South China Sea—but it’s an oil-enriched speck of a nation with fewer than 500,000 people.
    China is also courting Russia, which has reasons to dislike the Permanent Court of Arbitration: A Ukrainian businessman brought a case to the court over his right to operate a passenger airport in ­Crimea after Russia annexed the peninsula. The court, Moscow argues, lacks jurisdiction over the matter.
    “Both China and Russia should remain alert against behavior abusing the mechanism of compulsory arbitration,” said Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi, who visited his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov Moscow last week.
    Lavrov indicated Russia favors direct negotiation between the countries involved and opposes “any attempts to internationalize” the South China Sea issue.- Quartz
     


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  • Belgium's Deputy Prime Minister, DE CROO, blows hot, joins forces with UNICEF, UNFPA to tackle sexual exploitation in BENIN

    26/Apr/2017 // 299 Viewers

     

    PARIS, APRIL 25, 2017: (DGW) Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo today signed two programmes in Benin, related to the promotion of sexual and reproductive health and rights. Belgium will be cooperating with UNICEF to help combat child marriages. With the support of our country, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) will be setting up an information project aimed at young people and women, covering sexual education and sexual violence. Minister De Croo also announced that Belgium will release a total of 60 million euros over the next four years in support of UNICEF's work and another 36 million euros for UNFPA.

    The UNFPA will use Belgian funds in Benin to run the project ‘Learning about living in Benin’. The aim is to inform young people and help combat sexual violence against girls using an e-learning platform, which is also accessible via mobile telephone. Our country will donate 1.5 million euros for this purpose.

    Belgium will also provide 1.17 million euros to support UNICEF in tackling child marriage in Benin. The programme Lutte contre le mariage des enfants au Benin aims to give children and young people better access to justice and better protection from violence and sexual exploitation.

    In Benin 35% of girls marry before their eighteenth birthday, and almost two out of ten girls have their first baby before reaching the age of fifteen.

    Alexander De Croo: “Girls who are forced to marry and become mothers at a young age miss out on many opportunities. They must leave school early and spend the rest of their life depending on others. The battle against sexual violence and child marriage is crucial if we are to help strengthen the position of girls and women. Belgium wishes to join UNICEF and UNFPA in supporting the struggle.”

    Intense collaboration

    With his agreement to two specific programmes in Benin, Minister De Croo also announced Belgium's intention to continue working intensely with UNICEF, the UN Children's Fund, and UNFPA, the UN Population Fund, over the next four years. Belgium has volunteered to donate 60 million euros to UNICEF over the coming four years and a total of 36 million euros to help UNFPA. Children's rights together with sexual and reproductive health and rights are key priorities in Belgium's Development Cooperation policy.

    Minister De Croo announced our country's commitment in the presence of Goedele Liekens and Axelle Red, Goodwill Ambassadors for UNFPA and UNICEF Belgium respectively. They are currently all together on an official visit to Benin and Senegal, which is focused on sexual and reproductive health and rights.

    Involvement from the wife of the Beninese president

    Today their visits included a meeting with Claudine Tallon, the wife of the Beninese president Tallon. In early March she launched a foundation aimed at improving the position of girls and women in Benin. Her actions include a focus on better education for girls, tackling the deaths of mothers and children, and sexual violence.

    As a country, Benin is the sixth most important partner country in Belgium's Development Cooperation. Next year, Belgium and Benin will agree on a new bilateral collaboration programme.

    Source: Belgian Government


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  • BUHARI who breaches ECOWAS court judgments not qualified to oust JAMMEH by enforcing democratic principles - Nigerian Civil Rights Group tells Gambians, ECOWAS

    26/Dec/2016 // 4987 Viewers

     

    A civil Rights group- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has asked the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to drop President Muhammad Buhari as the joint Chairman of the committee mediating over the political impasse in the Gambia.

    The group said it smacks of unprecedented hypocrisy and political immorality for the regional group to have the President of Nigeria in that troubleshooting position when his administration is in violation of a binding judgment of the highest constitutional court in the region- the ECOWAS COURT OF JUSTICE which ordered the immediate freedom for the erstwhile National Security Adviser Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd).

    Besides, the Rights group said President Buhari has persistently failed to respect the municipal Federal High Court of Nigeria which in its Abuja division made several binding orders granting bails to the Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) Mr Nnamdi Kanu and the former National Security Adviser Colonel Sambo Dasuki who was even refused exit from the dungeon of the Department of State Services (DSS) to attend the funeral rites of his late father- the deposed Sultan of Sokoto Alhaji Dasuki who passed on recently.

    In a media statement by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA said it was ludicrous for President Buhari to accept to carry out a peace building job for a regional group that his administration had jettisoned an enforceable judicial decision an institution under it issued legitimately.

    HURIWA averred thus : “The disrespect to binding order of ECOWAS court of Justice is a serious breach which mustn’t be overlooked by the member States of the Economic Community of West African States. What moral high ground is President Buhari standing on to demand that the Gambian President obey his nation”s electoral law and quit office for the lawfully and democratically elected President elect of Gambia when his administration in Nigeria has rubbished the integrity of both the judicial institutions of Nigeria and the regional bloc?”

    Besides, HURIWA has also called on ECOWAS to boldly ask President Buhari to respect the ruling of the ECOWAS court because if the intransigent and defeated President of Gambia is to be persuaded to quit in accordance with democratic and global best practices it therefore follows that equity demands that President Buhari who is in breach of a subsisting judgment of the ECOWAS court of Justice must be compelled under a threat of regional sanctions to comply with the decision of the ECOWAS  court and release on bail  the detained former National Security Adviser Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd).

    HURIWA recalled that the Liberian President Mrs. Johnson Sirleaf, the acting head of the Joint Economic Community of West African States, African Union and United Nations (ECOWAS-AU-UN) team, said late on Tuesday that an agreement could take longer.

    The ECOWAS team, made up of President Muhammadu Buhari, Johnson-Sirleaf, the Chairperson of ECOWAS, President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone,
    outgoing President John Mahama of Ghana, and Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas, (UN Special Representative for West Africa), urged Jammeh to reconsider his
    rejection of the election results.

    The team was insistent that Jammeh hand over power “within constitutional deadlines, and in accordance with electoral laws of The Gambia.”
    HURIWA which said it supports the call for the Gambian leader to step aside, however said it was laughable that a man like President Buhari of Nigeria  who is in gross breach of a binding judgment of ECOWAS court of Justice is now being presented as an enforcer of the democratic principles.

    HURIWA reminded the regional body that not long ago the Economic Community of West African States Court of Justice declared the arrest and continued detention of the immediate past former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd), as unlawful, arbitrary and a violation of his right to liberty.

    The court ordered that the former NSA be released from the custody of the Department of State Services, whose operatives re-arrested him shortly after he was released from Kuje Prison, Abuja on bail on December 29, 2015.

    Dasuki, who was arrested for alleged economic crimes and other offences, was later granted bail by all three courts where he is currently facing charges relating to criminal diversion of funds meant for procurement of arms for fighting Boko Haram terrorists in the North-East.

    But he had remained in the custody of the DSS since he was re-arrested at Kuje prison on December 29, 2015 upon being released after fulfilling the bail conditions granted by the courts.


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  • Couple hire shipping container to transport aid to Gambia

    26/Feb/2016 // 414 Viewers

     

    Colin Fox. Credit: Colin Fox.

    A couple from west Cumbria have received so many donations for their charity, which operates in Gambia, that they've hired a shipping container.

    Colin and Sharon Fox from Egremont were on honeymoon when they saw the conditions children went to school in and decided to make it their mission to return with help.



    People have been so generous, and we've also had medical supplies donated by the Cumbria Partnership NHS Trust.

    We've got 14 beds, 7 wardrobes, 4 bedside lockers, a steel trolley, loads of walking aids and that's going across to an outpost like a medical centre and that'll be used to furnish the new build."

    – COLIN FOX


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  • Kingdom of MOROCCO pushes for ECOWAS membership, submits official request to ELLEN JOHNSON, Liberian President

    26/Feb/2017 // 2567 Viewers

     

    PARIS, FEBRUARY 26, 2017: (DGW) THE Kingdom of Morocco has formally requested to join the West African economic regional body, the Economic Community of West African States as a full-fledged member, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.

    The disclosure was made by the country's Foreign Affairs Ministry in a statement.
    Meanwhile, the country has taken due steps to formally inform chairman of the 15-member West Africa economic bloc, the President of Liberia Ellen Johnson.
     
    This request is in line with provisions of ECOWAS founding treaty and in full satisfaction of its membership criteria, it asserted.

    According to Morocco, its move comes “to crown the strong political, human, historical, religious and economic ties at all levels with ECOWAS member countries.”

    It said these links were reinforced over the last few years, through the king’s 23 visits to 11 countries in the region.

    The statement said these visits were crowned by the signing of several hundred agreements, which gave a “strong” impetus to bilateral cooperation with the 15 member countries of the regional bloc.


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  • The Gambia: Dr. Matthew Crosston, Vice Chairman of Modern Diplomacy writes on President ADAMA BARROW's prospects for reform

    26/Feb/2017 // 1344 Viewers

     

    For a very long time Intelligence Studies has been dominated by analysis of the Five Eyes community, which is comprised of the United States, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. In reality, that study is more often the study of intelligence in the US and UK. While not entirely fair to characterize this as Western prejudice - access to data is better in these two countries and intelligence scholars and analysts for the most part do not fear retribution or reprisal – more voices need to come forward to consider intelligence and its role on societies beyond the Five Eyes.

    There has been slow but gradual progress in getting the discipline to understand this fact, to understand how important the study of intelligence is outside of the Five Eyes. In recent years, particular emphasis has been paid to Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran, and Israel, just to name several. But the countries of Africa, unfortunately, have largely remained a near blank analytical slate when it comes to deeper work on respective nations’ intelligence communities. As recent events in The Gambia show, that absence needs to be rectified as some deeply disturbing aspects of state development and political stability hang in the balance.
     
    A few days ago, the ex-head of the Gambian NIA (National Intelligence Agency), along with eight other intelligence officers, was arrested and charged with the murder of Ebrima Solo Sandeng, a top political opposition figure. Sandeng, the National Organizing Secretary of the United Democratic Party (UDP), died in custody after being arrested for his participation in a protest demanding electoral reforms back in April of 2016. The protests were geared to influencing the December 2016 presidential election, which ultimately saw the defeat of incumbent President/Strongman Yahya Jammeh to Adama Barrow. Jammeh had corruptly governed the country since rising to power as a young military officer in a bloodless military coup in 1994.
     
    The official docket accused Yankuba Badjie and eight other members of the NIA of ‘conspiring amongst themselves to take part in the murder of Mr. Solo Sandeng.’ Back on April 14, 2016, Sandeng and five other members of the UDF party were arrested by police and taken to Mile 2 Prison where, after two days of torture, Sandeng died of shock and respiratory failure. Arguably, this was the case that broke Jammeh’s stronghold rule on power: the disgust and shock of the murder (following what most in Gambia considered an illegal arrest) pushed voter motivation all the way into the presidential election. Perhaps more importantly, it became the final Jenga block removed from a tower of intolerance, abuse, corruption, and torture that had plagued the National Intelligence Agency since it was founded by Jammeh in 1995 through Decree No. 45, issued by the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council. Indeed, the NIA has always operated outside of the formal legal framework in The Gambia: originally set up to supposedly combat threats within the armed forces, it ended up combating real and perceived domestic threats to Jammeh. As an organization that remained under military decree, the NIA de facto behaved like an extra-legal institution, above and beyond the law. Until, it seems, the murder of Solo Sandeng. But there are still many questions remaining for the future of Gambia. Perhaps a corner has been turned. But it does not mean old forces will not strive to prevent a new day from dawning.
     
    The clear immediate threat is Jammeh himself, who, after initially conceding defeat to Barrow, changed his mind and refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of the election. Adama Barrow was sworn in as President of The Gambia on January 19, 2017, but did so at the Gambian embassy in Dakar, Senegal. It was only two days later that Jammeh was forced to step down and go into exile when a combined military force team of several ECOWAS countries entered The Gambia. Jammeh first went to Guinea and then to Equatorial Guinea, where he still sits and claims rightful ownership of the Presidency. The obvious danger is that as long as Jammeh makes such claims and is free, The Gambia will be susceptible to coup, insurgency, or outright invasion by paramilitary forces.
     
    Newly-elected President Adama Barrow is doing his part, at least symbolically. On January 31, he announced that the National Intelligence Agency was going to be renamed the State Intelligence Services, while also claiming to have stripped the NIA of its extraordinary and extra-legal state powers. This attempt to reign the intelligence services back under proper state oversight and control is essential and logical. But it is also likely to be the first area ripe for Jammeh to recruit malcontents for future attempts against the new regime. After all, NIA operatives were once before accused of an attempted 2006 coup d’etat against Jammeh. Making moves against a new President trying to strip away all of its special power is not much of an analytical leap.
     
    More interestingly for the long term of Gambian democracy, Barrow has promised a truth commission and open investigation into all of the alleged human rights violations carried out under Jammeh. However, any such investigation is going to inevitably end up shining an even brighter light onto operatives of the NIA/SIS, many of whom still work for the organization. This is the precarious security/intelligence balance The Gambia finds itself in today. A new presidency is trying to take the necessary steps to not just emerge from a generation of corrupt autocracy, but must take those steps under the eyes of people who were also part of the corruption. So, while Intelligence Studies within the Five Eyes will undoubtedly remain dominant in the immediate future, situations like The Gambia show why more focus needs to be placed on events far outside it. For perhaps the effort to study and analyze these places, bringing more international light and attention to them, will end up helping the fledgling efforts to establish stability, rule of law, and democratic consolidation.
     
    *Dr. Matthew Crosston is Vice Chairman of Modern Diplomacy and member of the Editorial Board at the International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence.
     


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  • Breaking: JAMMEH's Minister arrested in Switzerland

    26/Jan/2017 // 5466 Viewers

     

    One of the ministers who served under the ousted former President of Gambia, Yahya Jammeh, has been detained in Switzerland by the Swiss authority.

    The former interior minister Ousman Sonko, was accused of committing serious offences under the president Yahya Jammeh during his 22 years of rule in the country.

    It would be recalled that President Jammeh was forced out of power a week ago after ECOWAS forces insisted on forcefully removing him after he refused to hand over to his successor, Adama Barrow in the 1st December, 2016 election in Gambia.

    The arrest, confirmed by Swiss prosecutors, comes as The Gambia prepared to welcome their new president Adama Barrow, who had fled to Senegal after beating Jammeh in a landmark election that sparked a political crisis.

    It was learnt that Sonko had been one of Jammeh’s top allies, serving in his presidential guard before leading the interior ministry from 2006 to 2016.

    Jammeh sacked him in September and Sanko fled to Sweden where his request for asylum was rejected but was detained in the Swiss capital Bern following a complaint filed by rights group TRIAL.

    TRIAL, which campaigns for the Swiss judicial system to act on crimes committed abroad, described Sonko as one of Jammeh’s “strongmen” and said he must have been aware of the violations committed under the fallen authoritarian regime.

    “Sonko could not have ignored the large-scale torture that political opponents, journalists and human rights defenders suffered”, said Benedict de Moerloose of TRIAL’s criminal law division said.


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  • GAMBIA: Again, JAMMEH sinks as female suspect grilled by Gambian detectives over one of Jammeh's hitmen sensational murders

    27/Apr/2017 // 4875 Viewers

     

    PARIS, APRIL 27, 2017: (DGW) Gambia's exiled leader, Yahya Jammeh is not having real peace of mind as a female suspect, Sally Jeng, was yesterday grilled by Gambia's police detectives over one of the sensational murders of a soldier, Sergent Ello Jallow, allegedly carried out by his hit men.

    Sally Jeng, our source revealed, admitted having a romantic relationship with the above-named deceased to the police.

    She reportedly turned herself in to the police and was allowed to go after an intensive interrogation.

    While speaking to police detectives in the course of the interrogation, Ms Jeng, our reports say, revealed that no sooner had she finished speaking with her lover, the late Ello Jallow than he was brutally cut down by unknown men suspected to be Jammeh's secret agents. 

    However, full investigations have in earnest to unravel the mystery behind the sensational murder of Ello Jallow who many believe died in active service in the hope of bringing the culprit to justice.

    Meanwhile, irked by the revelations, the deceased's family has reportedly has asked the police to intensify investigations into the killing.

    The police on its part, according to our reporter, promised to do everything within their powers to track down the suspects and bring them to justice.


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