• Abidjan-Lagos Corridor: UNAIDS, ECOWAS, FG Target 27m People on Health Security

    30/Jun/2016 // 351 Viewers


    The United Nations AIDS (UNAIDS) Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) and the federal government have unveiled a global health security targeting about 27 million people within the Abidjan – Lagos Corridor, made up of Nigeria, Ghana, Togo, Cote d’Ivoire and Benin Republic.
    Declaring open the first annual statutory meeting of the Abidjan – Lagos Corridor Organisation (ALCO) Governing Board, Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole said stakeholders are primarily concerned in tackling issues of health security, transport, HIV/AIDS and other socioeconomic challenges.

    The minister represented by Dr. Segilola Araoye, explained that “Abidjan – Lagos Corridor is about 1,022 kilometres, across the following five countries; Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria. Every year, about 27 million passengers including many traders and 140,000 truckers use this road and ports.

    “The impact of HIV/AIDS especially in the African region is exacerbated by socio-economic and cultural factors while effecting control has been challenging because of weak health systems,” Adewole stressed.
    The minister further stated that “the Abidjan – Lagos Corridor handles 65 per cent of economic activity in the region, thus the importance of establishing and sustaining interventions in the corridor project cannot be over-emphasised.”

    UNAIDS Country Representative to Nigeria, Dr. Bilali Camara on his part harped on the need for concerted efforts across the West African region to ensure that health security challenges like HIV/AIDS within the corridor are addressed.

    Camara maintained that “what is critical is to ensure that health security, particularly in the area of HIV/AIDS becomes an integral part of the region’s socio-economic policies.”

    Also, Director General, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) Prof. John Idoko stated that “key decisions have been taken to improve ALCO management and operations. We will take stock of them and see the way forward. They will be discussed in detail during the work session; but, let me highlight some of them:

    “Efforts of recovery of the arrears as at end of May 2016 is 94 per cent. Most of these arrears are paid. This undoubtedly, is a big relief for our Executive Secretariat, and I am appealing to the country members to continue with their efforts.”

    Idoko observed that “currently, ALCO has received grants from the World Bank, the Global Fund, USAID, WAHO, UEMOA/AfDB, CDC, and UNEP.

    “The activities being implemented are related to HIV/AIDS, EBOLA, Health Security issues, climate change, road infrastructure, road security and safety, free movement of people and goods.
    “The partnership and technical support with UNAIDS is still strong. This is the tangible proof that ALCO is gaining more and more confidence from our development partners,” the NACA DG stated.

    Participants from Federal Ministries of Transport, Foreign Affairs, ECOWAS, the World Bank, the Nigerian Customs Service and others also attended the seminar.

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  • GAMBIA: Outrage, shock across the world as victims revisit, recount JAMMEH's reign of terror in the Gambia

    30/Mar/2017 // 5746 Viewers


    PARIS, MARCH 30, 2017: (DGW) FORMER  Gambia's dictator Yahya Jammeh who is now exiled is a man of many parts and his reign of terror while he held sway as Gambia's strong man has been revisited by victms of his tyranical rule.

    In a piece published by Al-Jazeera, victims of his tyranical rule recounted the pains while in incaceration at the dreaded and notorious Mile 2 Prison located on the outskirts of Gambian capital of Banjul.

    Below is the full text of the narratives published on Al.Jazeera.

    Read full piece below:

    ''The walls were once painted white. And, in its past life, the floor was a layer of smooth cement. But the walls have turned brown now, covered in dust and sweat, and the cement has started to crumble into potholes and cracks. 

    This is the notorious Mile 2 Prison outside the Gambian capital Banjul.

    Just the mention of that name was once enough to inspire fear in those who did not toe the government line in this tiny West African country. It was where the political prisoners of former president Yahya Jammeh, who ruled The Gambia for more than two decades, since leading a military coup in 1994, were sent. 

    Some endured years of torture before being released. And those were the fortunate ones; others were never seen again. 

    'They filmed everything they did to me' 

    About a 40-minute drive from the colonial era prison is the home of politician Nokoi Njie. As the late afternoon sun disappears behind the palm and mango trees, her children and relatives gather around her to listen to stories of what life was like behind the prison's bars.

    "I still remember the day the security services picked me up. It was April 14, 2016, and we were protesting for electoral reform," she says, her breathes deep as she tries to hold back her tears.

    "The beating and torture started as soon as they put us in the lorry that was to take us into custody. We were arrested by big paramilitary men."

    She was not alone. Dozens of activists and politicians were picked up that day. It wasn't the first time Njie had fallen foul of the authorities - but it would be the worst.

    "It was my second time," she explains. "In 2011, before the election, I was arrested because I opposed the president's people registering non-Gambians to vote in our election."

    On that occasion she was released after a day. But things would be different this time; she would spend months behind bars without any contact with her family or a lawyer.

    "When they put me in a cell, they tied my legs with a wire rope which cut deep into my flesh and I was bleeding. They then beat me with a baton and a rubber whip made from car tyre. They filmed everything they did to me. It was so bad I started saying my final prayers," she says, the tears now running down her cheeks.

    "For three months my family did not see me or hear from me. They thought I was dead."

    'They beat him non-stop' 

    But Njie was lucky. Some of those arrested with her that day did not leave the torture chambers alive.

    Solo Sandeng was one of them. The opposition activist had, like Njie, been protesting for reform when he was arrested. Not many people know what happened to him, but Njie does. 

    "We were in the same cell," she says, her voice cracking with emotion. "They beat him non-stop in front of my eyes until he could not move a finger. He was motionless but that did not stop them."

    Wiping away her tears with trembling hands, Njie continues: "They then poured cold water on him to try and make him move. They then started beating him again. Solo then made one small grunt and that was it. He was dead."

    Fifty-seven-year-old Sandeng left behind nine children - and they say they want answers about what happened to their father.

    "We want justice and we want those behind his death to be brought to court," explains one of his daughters, Fatima Sandeng, in the family home about an hour outside Banjul.

    Then, Fatima, who is also an activist, adds defiantly: "Before any reconciliation can happen in our country those who committed these crimes need to face the law. Justice before reconciliation."

    Two days after Fatima spoke to Al Jazeera, police found the unmarked grave where her father's body had been buried. The former director of operations at the notorious National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Saikou Omar Jeng, led police to a grave in Tanje, a small fishing village around 33km from the capital.''

    Waiting to die

    It wasn't only activists and politicians who bore the brunt of Jammeh's rule. Anyone who stood in the way of those connected to the seat of power could find themselves imprisoned.
    Twenty kilometres south of the prison, in a two-bedroom house in the town of Brikama, Musa Jobe still can't believe that he is a free man.
    The former tax collector was arrested in 2011 after he upset a group of well-connected businessmen. They accused him of issuing vehicle licences illegally.
    He spent three years and 11 months behind bars in Mile 2. He thought he would die there, he says, shaking his head.
    "Two to three people were dying a day of sickness and maltreatment while I was there."
    "The court dropped all the charges [against me] because they had no evidence," he says. "But they still kept me in prison."
    Jobe says he was simply waiting for death. 
    "I was kept in a cell with 30 other people. We had no bathroom and had to relief ourselves in a tin on the corner of the room."
    The slow but firm 'wheels of justice'
    But The Gambia is changing. Jammeh is no longer in power after losing December's poll.
    He lost last December's elections and, after refusing to leave office, was forced into exile in January by forces from the regional bloc ECOWAS.
    Adama Barrow was sworn in as the country's new president. One of the first things he did was release the political prisoners and those who had been held without trial. Njie and Jobe were among them.
    The new government also arrested the former head of the country's national intelligence agency, Yankuba Badjie, and his deputy Saikou Omar Jeng. Both were accused of overseeing killings, kidnappings, arbitrary arrests, torture and rape during their time in office.
    The new government has also promised to leave no stone unturned when it comes to investigating the abuses that occurred under Jammeh.
    "We have released all political detainees and political prisoners in The Gambia," explains Mai Ahmad Fatty, the country's new interior minister a day after President Barrow ordered the release of more than 90 prisoners from Mile 2 Prison. "Today as we speak we don't have any political prisoners or detainees in our country. They were incarcerated on account of their opinion or beliefs. They had no business being in prison so we released them all."
    The interior minister says that he wants Gambians to be patient as the new government tries to reform the country's justice system.
    "The wheel of justices grinds really slowly but firmly. The government is investigating all allegations of human right abuses and we have apprehended some people who have been accused and they will appear before court," he tells Al Jazeera.
    "But the exercise is not complete and we are looking at persons of interests who are alleged to have been involved in these illegal practices and we will not rest until justice is served. Some suspects might be out of the country and we will use the international criminal justice processes to reach them."
    Njie says she is happy that Jammeh is no longer running the country and that she finally has a government she believes in.
    "The new government is doing well," she reflects as one of her grandchildren looks on from the corner of the living room. "And we can vote them out if they don't do as we want them to. Our main problem was Jammeh. Now that he is gone we are happy."
    Follow Hamza Mohamed on Twitter: @Hamza_Africa
    Source: Al Jazeera News


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  • SHOCKING: 128 Nigerians, other W'African migrants drown in Mediterranean Sea - UN agency, IOM reports

    30/Mar/2017 // 2133 Viewers


    PARIS, MARCH 30, 2017:(DGW) No fewer than 120 Nigerians and other migrants from West African countries died between March 6 and 26, 2017 while trying to cross the Mediterranean sea to Europe, the International Organisation on Migration (IOM), has reported.

    The UN agency in a statement by its spokesman Flavio Di Giacomo, stated that the number made it 649 deaths recorded in the first 86 days of 2017.

    The IOM spokesperson said other nationals included Gambians, Ivorians, Ghanaians, Malians, Senegalese and Guineans (both Guinea-Bissau and Conakry).

    Di Giacomo explained that 521 deaths were recorded in the first 65 days of 2017.

    He said the number of deaths recorded in the first 86 days of 2017 was higher compared with 566 deaths recorded in the same period on March 26, 2016.

    He said 26,589 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2017 through March 26, with over 80 per cent arriving in Italy and the rest in Spain and Greece.

    Di Giacomo said the number was, however, lower compared with 163,895 recorded through the first 86 days of 2016.

    The spokesperson explained that 2,320 migrants were brought to land between March 23 and 24 in 2017.

    He added that another set of 1,160 migrants which did not include the number above were brought to land on March 25 and 26.

    He stated that one corpse was found on a dinghy, which was carrying 138 migrants.

    Di Giacomo said Proactiva OpenArms, an NGO, retrieved the remains of five migrants from a capsized dinghy in addition to a sixth victim it retrieved near the original site of the shipwreck.

    According to him IOM believes the dinghy found by OpenArms is the same one that IOM Libya reported was rescued by Libyan fishermen who saved 54 people on 21 March.

    He said that the 54 survivors brought to Libya said that approximately 120 migrants were on board including six dead.

    Di Giacomo said 66 victims remained unaccounted for in that tragedy.

    He further explained that a vessel “Iuventa” of the German CSO “Jugend Rettet” claimed it spotted another ship sinking six miles off the position of the “Golfo Azzurro.”

    The spokesperson stated that IOM had no further information about sinking vessel, adding that The Jugend Rettet was the vessel that retrieved the remains of the sixth victim.

    “We are trying to understand whether the ship found by OpenArms is the same one that was rescued earlier this month by Libyan fishermen.

    “This may considerably change the number of missing migrants. For the moment, it is only possible to confirm that there are 66 victims,” Di Giacomo quoted Federico Soda, Director for IOM’s Mediterranean operations as saying.

    According to him, this tragic event reminds us all of the massive loss of lives in the tragedies occurring on the central Mediterranean route where over 590 migrants died in 2017 alone.

    “That is 418 more than last year on this route during the same period.

    “In this context, the presence of many rescue ships at sea is crucial; without them, the number of fatalities would be inevitably higher”, he said.

    Di Giacomo said IOM had received information about the remains of a 15-year old African girl retrieved from the shores of Sabratah by the Libyan Red Crescent.

    He said that puts the total confirmed dead found on Libyan beaches in 2017 at 164, of which 20 were retrieved in March.

    He added that the number rescued in 2017 by the Libyan Coast Guard and others were 3,457.

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  • Breaking! Legendary 'early men' resurface in Abuja, Nigeria (Photo)

    30/Nov/2016 // 1793 Viewers


    THE SUN: The Gbagyi is the most populated ethnic and indigenous group in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), also predominantly found in Central Nigeria Area of Niger and Kaduna States. They are also found in Nasarawa and Kogi States.

    Mainly farmers, some Gbagyi men are also hunters while some others are involved in making traditional arts and craft products including pottery and woodwork like mortar and pestle. The dexterity of the Gbagyi woman in pottery was epitomised by the legendary Ladi Kwali. The women take great pride in their large piles of firewood.

    But occupations like hunting and weaving are no longer common nowadays as they were in earlier days. Worthy of note is that civilisation has not really diminished the common feature of the Gbagyi as shoulder carriers.

    Another striking feature of the Gbagyi is that they are seemingly uncomfortable with civilisation. In fact, to them, the making of Abuja; the nation’s capital has somehow raped them of their serenity, innocence and original nature.

    Little wonder, they are said to usually withdraw further into the villages as development approached them; where they cultivate yam, guinea corn, millet and other type of grains. Some others cultivate melon, garden egg, groundnut and even rice. In fact, as rural farmers, most of them see education as waste of time.

    The people are naturally peace-loving, transparent and accommodating. Daily Sun gathered that the Gbagyi are quite friendly with strangers but it takes time to build firm friendships based on trust.

    Confronted by the threat of extinction of their culture all round, some young men in the FCT said their culture was vastly being eroded by modernisation; hence they are resolved to stop at nothing in keeping their heritage.

    To this end, they appear almost like the early men at functions and ceremonies these days in the FCT, in costumes depicting the traditional Gbagyi man before the coming of civilisation with its attendant effects including culture shock.

    Leader of the group, Mr. Zephaniah Henry, a Senior Secondary School Certificate holder told Daily Sun that they display in public functions in Abuja as a way of preserving and promoting their culture.
    He said the troupe could perform at any event except in marriage ceremonies.

    Henry explained that the cultural group has neither religious nor fetish embellishment; hence any Gbagyi male born is free to join them.
    Unlike some cultures where you must get to certain age before performing some traditional rites, the group’s spokesman said that age was not a condition for joining them.

    On the significance of their costume made up of hoe, bow and arrow, calabash, black dye, and piece of rag among others, he said it was meant to show Gbagyi man in his original age of innocence.

    The Esu of Kwali, Alhaji Nizazo Shaban the third, in talking about the history of his people described an ordinary Gbagyi man as a simple person attached to nature, adding that whenever he notices things disturbing the nature, he runs away from it: “He is naturally bound to his environment and whenever there is a disturbance to his ecosystem, he tries to run away and create another system that will be favourable to him.

    “However, presently, some sociological elements have caused the Gbagyi man to behave like other people. We are now caught up with modernity. We cannot force ourselves again. We have to accept now that we need to behave like other people. Most of the Gbagyi settlements have been destroyed by modernization.

    “Again, our housing system cannot conform to what we have in Abuja. The Gbagyi do not have the wealth to compete with people in Abuja who built skyscrapers. Sometimes, we call ourselves the missing tribes. If we do not work very hard, the Gbagyi of Abuja will disappear with time. Development will consume the Gbagyi people and we may not see them again.

    “There are people who do not speak Gbagyi to their children and we tell them to speak Gwari to their children or lose their identity. There are social forces against the Gbagyi people as far as project Abuja is concerned.”

    Coping with culture shock
    There are some theories that posit reason for the scattered settlements and migration of the Gbagyi people. Their settlements can be both large and small; but in locations were farming is the dominant occupation, the settlements tend to be small so that enough land is available for farming.

    Forty years after their land was designated the nation’s capital; the people are still suffering culture shock occasioned by the development of FCT. The result of the dislocation was the removal of people from their ancestral homes, from spiritual symbols such as Zuma Rock. Today, they still brood over seeing their ancestral land being referred to as no man’s land while battling with issues about adjusting to the new environment given by the government.


    Prince Gbaiza, National Coordinator, Greater Gbagyi Development Initiative of Nigeria (GG-DIN) at a forum in Abuja recently to press for the rights of FCT indigenes, emphasized that the issues must be redressed because if the people are left with nothing, then the heritage of the Gbagyi man would be extinct.

    Credit: Syndicated from The Sun

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  • Tension rises as UN says GAMBIA'S JAMMEH defiant, unreacheable

    31/Dec/2016 // 2061 Viewers


    Embattled President Yahya Jammeh of Gambia has been unreachable by the phone, United Nations (UN)  Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has revealed.

     ”Despite efforts to reach President Yahya Jammeh by phone, the Secretary-General has not yet been able to speak with him”, the statement by Stephane Dujarric, Ban Ki-Moon’s spokesman said in a statement in New York.

    The UN chief has, however, spoken with Adama Barrow, the President-elect,  to congratulate him on his electoral victory and to reiterate the commitment of the UN to a peaceful, timely and orderly transfer of power.

    In a readout of the phone call to Barrow, Ban Ki Moon said the UN welcomed and fully supported the  December 17 decision of ECOWAS to support the safety of the president-elect.

    Ban advised the president-elect to urge his supporters to show restraint and not resort to violence.

    The secretary-general emphasized that the UN would support the will of the people in their election of Barrow as well as the future government in efforts to promote democracy and sustainable development of the country.

    The UN Security Council and the AU have also expressed such support and have acknowledged Barrow as the president-elect after he defeated the incumbent, Jammeh, in the December 1 presidential election.

    Jammeh has refused to accept the result of the election after first congratulating  Barrow.

    He has approached the Supreme Court on the matter.

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  • Breaking: ECOWAS troops recover weapons from JAMMEH’s home, high-ranking Gambian General arrested

    31/Jan/2017 // 3306 Viewers


    The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) force deployed in The Gambia to secure the nation’s presidential transition said it has recovered weapons from the home of ex-president, Yahya Jammeh.

    The forces also confirmed the arrest of a high-ranking Gambian general.

    Leader of the military forces, Senegalese General, Francois Ndiaye, said the arms and ammunition were found at ex-president Yahya Jammeh’s private residence in his home village of Kanilai.

    Jammeh left the country after refusing for weeks to recognise his electoral defeat to Adama Barrow, who returned to The Gambia as president from Senegal this week.

    “All the weapons and ammunitions are now under ECOWAS custody. So nothing will happen there,” Ndiaye said. “The situation is under control.”

    He added that since the Kanilai residence is private, “There shouldn’t be any military there. In the coming days, there will be no more military there.”

    He also said that General Bora Colley, the head of a Gambian military commando unit, had been arrested in Senegal, without giving further details.

    Four guards of Jammeh’s wife, Zainab, were also arrested, in the border town of Karang in Senegal, and were being held in Dakar.

    Ndiaye said that Gambian officers and soldiers needed to be “screened”, including “background checks, so that we know all of them”, he said.

    He added, however, that the Gambian armed forces have been “very cooperative, and we are now controlling the ammunitions and the weapons. So there is no need for us to stay longer. That’s why we are downsizing gradually.”

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