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Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Kenyan activists under attack yet again

Battle lines have been drawn with full frontal attacks on prominent Kenyan activists. Just last weekend the wife of a prominent youth activist Joshua Nyamori of the Nyanza Youth Coalition was attacked by six armed men and her car taken at gun-point at their home-gate.  Nyamori's youth group has been under spotlight as one of the groups who have been receiving support from the US Ambassador Michael Ranneberger.

Another activist under attack is Shem Ochuodo who apart from having a corruption case looming over his head, has had to face the tribulations of being considered in opposition to the grand coalition. His office in Nairobi was closed and people purporting to be 'auctioneers' seizing his equipment when in fact he had overpaid his rent and a lorry used for the 2007 elections being impounded. Ochuodo himself has wide appeal not only because of his byname 'father of the internet' but also for his activities in the newly formed Mageuzi Trust.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Entrepreneurship - Kenya's Economic Saviour

By Jeconia Omondi Olonde

The current economic condition for Kenya is on a down hill while the population growth rate is quite high. This implies there is an increase in unemployment as the new jobs created cannot match the increase in population. A situation is created where the youth are finishing university, college and secondary school expecting to be employed yet the economy cannot accommodate them. This will in the end bring social instability especially with the high cost of education.

But what can the government and the private sectors do to help alleviate the situation that may bring the country to its knees? An initiative such as the Kazi Kwa Vijana was started by the government and has ended as a failure, taking the country back to the maze. The Kazi Kwa Vijana could not have been sustained as we can say the jobs given to them “do not add value” to the economy and the government is spending a huge amount of money in paying recurrent expenses. Also some of the jobs given may seem demeaning to some of the unemployed graduates. Telling an engineering graduate to clean trenches shows that the government has no plans for its citizens who are meant to be assets.

Further, unemployment situations in Kenya have been increased by the high requirements by employers in order to get jobs. Requirement of years of professional experience for jobs in Kenya has made it difficult for the fresh graduates to get jobs and their Kenyan dream of finding that dream job after years of education.

For the country to be able to create employment, the government and the private sector should highly consider embracing entrepreneurship as a source of expanding the economy and reducing poverty. With the shift towards technology, the government can use the youth to enhance and come up with new technologies which will help accelerate growth and achieve Vision 2030.

Some of the ways in which the government can do to help youth embrace entrepreneurship are:
  • Providing financial assistance and guidance. Many youth have good business ideas but translating these to actual jobs is hindered by lack of knowledge of transforming ideas into feasible and tangible work. Also financial guidance on how to spend the initial finance is necessary as the projected financial statements are is not enough, for example, purchasing of essential assets, marketing and branding, establishing of internal business controls, and book keeping.
  • Providing mentors to the youth who come up with good business ideas or proposals. The mentors are used to guide the youth especially through the tough times as they have been in the business before and they know what to do best in such situations.
  • Introducing entrepreneurship as a subject in schools so that the students are able to know early enough how to start their own businesses and succeed. Mentality of students has to be changed from them expecting employment for them to create employment. This should be done for both students in professional courses and those in vocational training. In the earlier years, it was preached in radio stations and songs that at the end of education one will get a good job and this mentality has stuck in the mind of the population. We should therefore start changing the minds of people with regards to this.
  • Providing tax incentives for young entrepreneurs who provide employment to others. There are difficulties involved with business start ups and therefore the government should recognize this effort by giving the youth tax incentives. This has been done to Export Processing Zones (EPZs) to attract foreign direct investments. Local investments should also be considered important as this brings more stimulus to growth as there are no profit flights.
  • Patenting of special business ideas created by the young people. This may reduce the chances of the ideas being stolen by other capable individuals or by corporations. Good ideas are known to have been submitted to “wrong” organizations which take advantage of the weak protection laws of ideas. These weak laws demoralize the young people with brilliant ideas who may opt to stay with the ideas for long until they are able to finance themselves. Developed countries are known to have proper laws protecting ideas created by its citizens and developing countries should follow suit.
These are only some of the things the government should take into consideration if it has to help the country become entrepreneurial. The effect of citizens creating job opportunities in the economy cannot be over emphasized and the government has to act fast to improve the livelihood of its citizens.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Youth Disaffection: the elephant in the living room

This week both online and offline conversations have been revolving around Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the 23 year old engineering student who was apprehended as he tried to detonate explosives he carried onto a Christmas day transatlantic flight into Detroit.
However, Abdulmutallab somehow does not fit the stereotypical profile of a terrorist for most. The young man is highly educated and in fact was raised in a well to do family - his father is a prominent banker and former Nigerian Minister. As a Financial Times article says:

"Other Africans, from Comoros, Kenya and Somalia, who have been involved in al-Qaeda activities, have come from humbler backgrounds. But Mr Abdulmutallab was born into Nigeria’s elite, and there is little in his African background to suggest he was a terrorist in the making".
So the question many have been bandying about is why on earth would this young man feel that he had nothing to loose and everything to gain by not only killing himself, but also taking down 278 lives with him?

Yes, Osama Bin Laden hails from a wealthy Saudi family but he is the kingpin of Al Qaeda. The actual foot soldiers have tended to be not as well educated or rich. Towards the end of 2009, stories in the media said that the Somali militant group Al-Shabaab was recruiting Kenyan youth. However, unlike Abdulmutallab, these youth come from an environment of abject poverty coupled with high rates of youth unemployment. They are the ones with nothing to loose and everything to gain.

A young person, say during Kenya’s post election violence period would probably think twice about setting fire to someone’s else’s property if they had assets of their own. However, as is the case in Kibera in early 2008, they not only burnt homes where they lived; they burned down shops where they bought their food; and they also burned down the petrol station where they bought kerosene to cook their food from the shops. In short these disaffected youth had nothing to loose, and everything to gain.

Like Abdulmutallab, there is a new face of disaffected youth emerging. These are the ones who though being graduates, have no jobs or alternative opportunities to create meaningful and sustainable livelihoods. These are the white collar car-jackers and hostage takers demanding ransoms for well known kidnapped personalities.

Before it may have been easy to ignore poor youth that take to the streets and engage in crime. However, the number of disaffected youth is coalescing across social and economic divides so much so that the carpet can no longer cover the elephant of youth disaffection in the living room.

Friday, 1 January 2010

EDITORIAL:Africa Union must rid itself of Corrupt Dictators and their Sons

By Lord Aikins Adusei

At the inauguration in 2002, the Africa Union (AU) set itself ambitious goals "to promote peace, security, and stability on the continent; to promote democratic principles and institutions, popular participation and good governance; to promote and protect human and peoples' rights. It also aims to establish the necessary conditions which enable the continent to play its rightful role in the global economy and in international negotiations and to promote co-operation in all fields of human activity (in order) to raise the living standards of African peoples. The ultimate goal of the AU is to establish a United States of Africa" Source:

There are many issues that may derail the AU from achieving the goals it has set itself however the most critical of them has to do with the very kind of people who constitute the AU leadership. For example the current Chairman of AU in the person of Gaddafi has been a dictator since 1969. For forty years he has ruled his country with iron hand jailing opposition members, restricting freedom of speech, assembly and limiting political activities in attempt to stay in power for good. He frowns on any idea about democracy and has consistently argued that democracy is foreign and unAfrican.

Museveni of Uganda came to power in 1986 and has since ruled his country as his personal estate. In 2003 he had the presidential term limit set by the constitution abrogated so he could be president for life. Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea came to power in 1979 after overthrowing his own uncle and executing him. In that same year Dos Santos of Angola took over power and begun to rule. Both are still president today. In Burkina Faso Blaise Campore has been in power since 1987 and is still adamant about leaving office. Congo Brazzaville´s Denis Sassou Nguesso has used every means just to stay in power. Since 1982 Paul Biya of Cameroon has won every election is his oil rich but economically impoverished country and likewise Hosni Mubarak of Egypt who since 1981 has been president of the North African country. Ben Ali of Tunisia has resisted every attempt to leave office changing the country´s constitution just to stay in power.

Gaddafi has never been elected in his forty year reign as the head of state of Libya. Omar Al Bashir has not been elected. There are no words to describe Mamadou Tandja of Niger and Yahyah Jammeh of the Gambia. Iddris Derby of Chad and Isaias Afewerki of Eritrea have spent more than a decade in power and there is no sign that they are prepared to leave. Ethipoia´s Meles Zenawi is still prime minister after 18 years and it is a waste of time to talk about the tactics he has used to stay in power.

The last time I checked more than half of the over fifty countries that make up the AU had leaders who are unelected and deeply corrupt. Even the rest who claim to have been elected more than half have had their elections questioned by both local and international election observers. Yar´Dua of Nigeria, Ali Bongo of Gabon, Denis Sassou Nguesso, and Mugabe and the elections that brought them into power have all been questioned. The resignation of the head of the electoral commission in Mauritania just immediately after election confirmed what everyone was saying privately at the time.

Thus from Libya where Gaddafi has managed to misrule his country for forty years, to Zimbabwe where the old man still thinks of himself as one that Zimbabwe cannot do without; to Uganda where Museveni and his family are anything but thieves; to Gambia where Jammeh continue to ridicule himself and that of his country with his treatment of HIV/AIDS sufferers; to Kenya where Mwai Kibaki refused to leave office after a humiliating defeat and had to resort to violence to keep himself in power; to Nigeria where corruption and embezzlement have produced a failed state; to Niger where Mamadou Tandja has staged a coup against his own government in an effort to rule for life; to Angola, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea and Congo where a cabal of corrupt leaders preside over the looting of their countries´ oil revenues; to Ethiopia where Meles Zenawi has turned his country into a prison; to Eritrea where Isaias Afewerki has turned from a freedom fighter to a brutal despot and to Gabon, Togo and DRC where children of former corrupt dictators have assumed the mantle of leadership apparently to continue where their parents left off (including the systematic looting and mismanagement of their countries´ treasuries) there is no sign that continent is going to achieve the lofty goals it has set itself. One needs not look far to see how their incompetence and monumental failures have contributed to the demise of the continent, the countries swimming in rich natural resources yet the people lacking the basic necessities of life.
There are two main characteristics of these leaders which directly go to affect the achievement of the goals set by the AU. First they are all corrupt dictators who are unwilling to relinquish power despite their colossal failures. And second none of the leaders seem to have any good political, economic or social record. Their countries are deeply soaked in poverty. The key question is how is the AU going to promote peace, security, and stability on a continent full of unrepented dictators and how is the AU going to promote democratic principles, popular participation and good governance when the people at the helm of affairs on the continent consistently kick against those laudable ideas?

There is no point arguing that there are strong and direct link between dictatorship in Africa and the high level of insecurity and instability seen all over the continent. We need not to look too far to see how dictatorship, corruption and unfair distribution of resources (poverty) led to many civil wars, coups and counter-coups in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and even this 21st century. The logic is that if people who are poor cannot democratically change their leaders they will have no other alternative but to use force and violence to bring about a change of government hence the many conflicts and wars seen in Africa.

This logic of violent removal of governments was correctly echoed by President Julius Nyerere who warned against the consequences of over staying in power and stealing resources meant for the people:

"We spoke and acted as if, given the opportunity for self-government, we would quickly create utopias. Instead injustice, even tyranny, is rampant…We can try to carve for ourselves an unfair share of the wealth of the society. But the cost to us, as well as to our fellow citizens, will be very high. It will be high not only in terms of satisfactions forgone, but also in terms of our own security and well-being." Julius Kambarage Nyerere, from his book Uhuru na Maendeleo (Freedom and Development), 1973.

The consequences of a continent dominated by tyrants as echoed by Nyerere was given a boost by Obama in a speech to Ghana´s Parliament in which he linked tyranny and corruption in Africa to the high level of poverty, instability and conflict:

"But history offers a clear verdict: governments that respect the will of their own people are more prosperous, more stable and more successful than governments that do not. Democracy is about more than holding elections - it's also about what happens between them. Repression takes many forms, and too many nations are plagued by problems that condemn their people to poverty. No country is going to create wealth if its leaders exploit the economy to enrich themselves, or police can be bought off by drug traffickers. No business wants to invest in a place where the government skims 20 percent off the top, or the head of the port authority is corrupt. No person wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives way to the rule of brutality and bribery. That is not democracy that is tyranny, and now is the time for it to end". He added: "Make no mistake: history is on the side of these brave Africans and not with those who use coups or change Constitutions to stay in power. Africa doesn't need strongmen, it needs strong institutions". People everywhere should have the right to start a business or get an education without paying bribe. We have a responsibility to support those who act responsibly and to isolate those who don't" Source: July 2009.

As Nyerere and Obama correctly hypothesized you can only expect wars, instabilities and conflicts in an environment where tyrants and dictators dominate. Hence one may not be surprised to hear that Somalia is burning, or the Lord´s Resistance Army is heading to Kampala, or rebels have encircled N´Djamena the Chadian capital, or the Great Lake Region is in turmoil they are the consequences of dictatorial rule, bad governance, nepotism, cronyism and rampant corruption. The high number of dictators making up the AU leadership, their unwillingness to allow democracy to work will only continue to breed instability, conflicts and wars and hence will defeat the AU´s key goal of promoting peace, security, and stability upon which all the other goals depend.

Where is the AU heading with these dictators still in office? Can any progress be made towards Africa´s unity and can the United States of Africa be realised with all these tyrants in power? The answer is a big no. The fact is that if the AU is ever going to transform itself into a respected democratic institution made up of democratic member countries then it must as a necessity purge itself of these tyrants and their children who are holding the organisation in bondage.

The question is how can the AU rid itself of these selfish leaders? There are a number of things the AU can and must do.

It must first and foremost abrogate the automatic membership. Throughout the world all serious bodies have constitutions and charters that set out the benchmarks that would-be members must attain before they are admitted. This contrasts the AU where membership is automatic no matter the record of a government or the means by which it came to power. This system is not only wrong but it is also self defeating. It is one of the reasons why AU is full of corrupt dictators and tyrants. It is this automatic membership that has ensured that Mugabe could wrought violence against his people and still has the audacity to attend AU meetings. It is this automatic membership that has ensured that Nguema, Museveni, Nguesso, Santos, Afewerki, Tandja, Kibaki, al-Bashir, Mubarak, Gaddafi, Campore, Biya and Jammeh can do whatever they like in their respective countries and still attend AU meetings. The automatic membership must be abolished and benchmarks set for would-be members to attain before being accepted. That is AU must be made up of serious minded countries committed to democracy, rule of law, protection of human rights, peace, stability and fight the against corruption and poverty. Members must demonstrate their commitment to democracy, rule of law, and fight against corruption and poverty before being admitted as is seen in the EU. This must change if the AU is ever going to be a United States of Africa. In the European Union where membership is earned all the 27 members have democratic governments that respect human rights. Romania and other Eastern European nations whose governments were corrupt were forced to reform before they were admitted into the EU and we know how hard Turkey has tried to become a member without success despite the huge internal reforms it has carried out over the last couple of years. We cannot make the AU a body of no standards AU must have standards and benchmarks if it is ever going to eliminate dictatorship from its ranks.

The effort by some leaders to transform the AU into a Commission with more powers to conduct business on behalf of the continent has met fierce resistance and continues to be thwarted by these old corrupt guards who see every reform as a threat to their power and corrupt lifestyle. These tyrants continue to torpedo every effort of AU to move from its current position as a talking shop into serious solution solving body. Mugabe and his cohorts and their sons are holding the AU in bondage through their hold on power. They continue to resist every attempt to transform the AU into a useful body. These corrupt dictators have and still continue to frustrate the good intentions of the body but the AU must not capitulate but work to adopt and implement resolutions that will force these tyrants to improve human rights, empower women, fight corruption and poverty, promote democracy and ultimately give up power.

Furthermore, to prevent the AU from being dominated by tyrants and their children the Africa Union must insist that leaders who are not democratically elected by their citizens cannot become a Chair of the body. If a leader of a country wants to be the Chair of the august body then he/she must subject himself/herself to rigours of elections in his country. Such simple demands by the AU will make these tyrants consider their positions carefully. They will be ashamed to request for a chairmanship position when they know they are not democratically elected. The current situation in which Gaddafi a lifelong dictator chairs the body is not only unacceptable but is also an insult to all the democratically minded people in Africa.

Additionally to boost its position to rid itself of these tyrants the AU must lobby the democratically elected leaders like Senegal´s Wade, Ian Khama of Botswana, Ghana´s Atta Mills, Zuma of South Africa, Benin´s Yayi Boni and others to persuade these tyrants to adopt democracy. The tyrants must be persuaded to stand down and allow free and fair elections to be held. Any tyrant who refuses to stand down should be suspended until free and fair elections are held. The AU is not going to make any progress if the leaders are pampered to do what they want. AU leaders must recognise that Africa cannot harness her strategic importance in this new global order unless there are democratic and institutional reform that will rid the continent of absolute dictators and their corrupt machinery which for so long a time has been responsible for the misery and high levels of poverty seen throughout Africa.

Again the AU should push for genuine democracy in its member countries like the one in Ghana. I am not talking about just elections I am talking about free and fair elections that give opposition equal access to state media and resources. The situation whereby incumbent governments monopolise state resources and employ all manner of tactics to win power as happened in Equatorial Guinea, Congo, and Zimbabwe is a recipe for disaster.

In addition, the AU must insist that children of former dictators cannot automatically replace them when they leave office. The current situation where children of former dictators have been installed as presidents in sham elections is not only an insult to people of these countries but is an indictment on the credibility of AU as a body. It is unacceptable for Faure Eyadema of Togo, Joseph Kabila of DR Congo and Gabon Ali Bongo of Gabon to replace their fathers as presidents. These precedents and developments seem to have encouraged Gaddafi, Museveni and Hosni Mubarak who are busy grooming their children to replace them. This trend is not only dangerous but it is also a recipe for conflict and instability and the earlier the AU sends a clear message to these leaders the better. These dictators and their children must be prevented from establishing dynasties in Africa.

Also the current practice where a country is only suspended when there is coup is not fair to the citizens of Zimbabwe, Equatorial Guinea, Libya, Niger, Gambia, and Eritrea who suffer human right abuses on the daily basis. AU should not suspend only countries where coups have taken place but must also suspend all countries whose leaders engage in human rights abuses and corrupt practices that push their citizens into poverty and economic annihilation. If a country is suspended because a coup has taken place, is it also not morally right to suspend a country when its leaders loot their resources, and engage in human rights violation? If citizens of a country like Libya are denied a say on how their leaders are elected or how their country is governed is it not enough to suspend that country until the citizens are given the opportunity to determine who should lead them?

Again the AU must make sure its institutions are headquartered in countries that respect human rights and rule of law, eschew corruption and is a democracy. I cannot imagine Gambia being made the headquarters of the AU´s Human Right Commission when Jammeh is busy killing journalists in cold blood and has threatened to annihilate people who freely express their views in that country. It is very shocking that the AU seems to be pampering these leaders. I can hardly comprehend why and how a nation whose leader is known to be abusing the rights of its citizens is made the headquarters of a human right commission. AU has got to be really serious if it wants the rest of the world to take it serious. Therefore certain criteria must be met before headquarters are cited in a country and the AU must not hesitate to remove the headquarters when the situation there changes. Ethiopian leaders must demonstrate their commitment to democracy, rule of law, justice and equality before the law. The eroding of democratic values in that country must be of much concern to the AU. I strongly believe Ethiopia should loose its headquarters status if the leaders continue on the path of dictatorship. This will send a clear message to the rest of the leaders that dictatorship and human rights abuse will not be tolerated in the new AU.

Moreover, AU must compile annual reports about human rights, corruption, and abuse of power in all member countries and sanction those countries found to be in breach of AU Charter. If we are ever going to rid ourselves of the dictators and the rampant corruption and abuse of power associated with their regimes then the AU must act and apply sanctions.

AU should engage the people of Africa in its programmes. Very few people know what goes on at the AU headquarters and we are not going to build a successful Africa when the people who make up the continent are excluded from its activities. Universities and other institutions of higher learning must be involved in AU´s activities to sensitise the people and to build grassroot support in member countries. Therefore AU Chapters must be established across Africa: in universities, colleges and high schools to make the people aware of what AU is doing. AU must organise symposia and debates and other competitions in schools. The advantage is that since the students are going to be the future leaders and policy makers in Africa their involvement will help inculcate and build support for AU. To add to this AU must publish news letters and distribute them to schools, civil society organisations, government departments and other institutions to create awareness. Since we are in the information age internet, e-mail and other information distribution methods must be employed to deliver information about the AU to the people. Editors of both print and electronic media must be encouraged to cover AU activities and events.

The AU must also involve the intellectuals, diplomats and technocrats in Africa. President Julius Nyerere the illustrious son of Africa says:

"...intellectuals have a special contribution to make to the development of our nation, and to Africa. And I am asking that their knowledge, and the greater understanding that they should possess, should be used for the benefit of the society of which we are all members." Julius Kambarage Nyerere, from his book Uhuru na Maendeleo (Freedom and Development), 1973.

In short the people of Africa of whom the AU belong must be involved, but this involvement of the people will come to nothing if the dictators are not persuaded to hang off their glove.

Above all, the tyrants themselves must acknowledge that it is in their own interest to give up power and allow democracy and rule of law to prevail. The cost of holding on to power may be costly not only in terms of satisfactions forgone, but also in terms of their own security and well-being.

If the prosperity and stability Obama spoke about and the contribution of intellectuals Nyerere mentioned above as well as the AU´s own long term goal of a United States of Africa are to be realised and have effect in Africa then the AU must at any cost rid itself of the corrupt dictators and their children who are lining up to take their position. You cannot ask intellectuals to play a role while the dictators are undermining their effort.

The AU will not be able to reverse decades of low per capita income, low productivity, slow pace of social and economic development, poor state of infrastructures and weak economies if steps are not taken to ensure that democracy is established on the continent, and that all leaders subject themselves to the rigours of election, fight corruption and poverty and promote peace, stability and development.

If the AU is ever going to realise any of the goals it has set itself then it must as a matter of necessity purge itself of the dictators and their sons.

By Lord Aikins Adusei
Political Activist and Anti-Corruption Campaigner.

Swiss judge sets precedent in global graft fight

Action by a Swiss judge to order the confiscation of bank accounts held in countries outsideSwitzerland set a legal precedent that will help in the international fight against corruption, legal experts said.

Yves Aeschliman, a magistrate in Geneva, found Abba Abacha, son of Sani Abacha, the late Nigerian dictator, guilty of graft, sentenced him to a suspended prison term and ordered confiscation of $350m in funds held in Luxembourg and the Bahamas. The funds had already been frozen in the course of the investigation.

The Geneva justice office said on Friday the 41-year old Mr Abacha, who was arrested in 2005, had been found guilty "of participation in a criminal organisation". Enrico Monfrini, a Geneva lawyer who acts for the Nigerian government, said the demand for seizure of funds outside Switzerland was a legal first for the country. The Swiss government has already handed over to the Nigerian authorities about $700m that the Abacha family stashed away in Swiss bank accounts.

General Abacha is estimated to have plundered Nigeria's public coffers to the tune of some $2.2bn between 1993 and his death in 1998. A year later the new Nigerian government asked the Swiss to open an investigation.

In the same judgment, Mr Aeschlimann also fined an unnamed Monaco-based financier for helping the Abacha clan hide its gains and ordered him to pay SFr10m ($9.8, €6.6, £6m), equivalent to the illegal commissions he received, to the canton of Geneva.

The move marks a further step in international efforts to tackle theft by corrupt rulers by going after intermediaries as well as principals. Another financier accused of helping Gen Abacha to launder cash through Jersey has been arrested in the UK and is expected to stand trial.

Under Geneva's penal code, defendants have two weeks to object to the sentence handed down by an investigating judge and ask for a full court hearing, which could result in a much heavier sentence. Mr. Abacha's lawyers had no comment on Friday when asked if he would lodge an objection.

Despite its reputation as a home for illicit cash, Switzerland has recently been in the vanguard of international moves to track down and repay funds siphoned off by corrupt officials.

In the past 20 years it has returned millions of dollars to countries ranging from Peru to the Philippines

Nigeria: Ex-governor Attahiru Bafarawa in fraud raid


Nigerian anti-corruption officials have raided a meeting of opposition leaders and arrested Attahiru Bafarawa, who ran for president in 2007. The EFCC accuses him of involvement in a 6bn naira ($40m) fraud from his time as governor of Sokoto State.

Nigeria: El-Rufai challenges corruption arrest warrant


An high-profile former Nigerian minister has gone to court to challenge the international arrest warrants issued last week on corruption charges. As a close ally of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, former Abuja Minister Nasir el-Rufai used to be one of Nigeria's most powerful people.

Nigeria: Court dismisses former governor's money laundering charges


The former governor of Nigeria's oil-rich Delta State has been cleared of 170 charges of corruption - involving the laundering of millions of dollars. The federal court in Asaba said there was no clear evidence against James Ibori, governor from 1999 to 2007.

Kenya: Stolen free education funds threatens Kibaki legacy


Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki has ordered a probe into the disappearance of millions of shillings meant to finance the free primary school initiative, which attracted over seven million children previously locked out of school.

Kenya: Five Years On: How effective is the KACC in Kenya’s fight against corruption?



Corruption in Kenya has been a challenge since colonial times and the enthusiasm to fight it seems to be diminishing if Kenya’s poor score on the 2009 TI Corruption Perception Index is anything to go by. Kenya now ranks with Zimbabwe and Sierra Leone and well below Nigeria. This publication is an extract form a forthcoming report which reviews the effectiveness of the KACC after five years of it existence.

Why I swore in new Chief Justice, by Kutigi: Nigeria

By Ise-Oluwa Ige
ABUJA—IN SPITE of the controversy over his legal powers, the out-going Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi, yesterday, in Abuja, swore in Justice Aloysius Iyorgyer Katsina-Alu as the 11th Chief Justice of Nigeria.
Not a few senior lawyers, especially members of the Inner Bar, had strongly argued that the laws of the nation neither allowed, recognised nor envisaged an incumbent Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, swearing-in his successor because, by doing that, it would mean that the nation would have two substantive Chief Justices at the same time.

They had argued that such situation would be absurd and should be avoided.

It was also their contention that since 1958 when the first indigenous Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice (Sir) Adetokunbo Ademola, was sworn into office till the time of Justice Kutigi, who is the 10th Chief Justice, the Oath of Office was administered on each one of them by the Head of the Federal Government, the appointment being a political one.

They had also argued that even if there was no clear-cut constitutional provision stopping an incumbent CJN from swearing in his successor, the practice since 1958 was already a norm which ought not be disturbed.

But, the out-going CJN, Justice Kutigi who sworn-in his successor yesterday faulted the arguments of the senior lawyers, saying they lacked merit.

Kutigi, who administered the Oath of Office on Justice Katsina-Alu, yesterday, however, said he was still the number one judicial officer in the country and would be in charge of the third arm of government until he formally bowed out of the Bench.

SWEARING-IN—Outgoing Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Idris Kutigi (right) congratulating incoming Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu after the swearing-in ceremony of new CJN and President, Court of Appeal in Abuja, yesterday. Photo by Gbemiga Olamikan.

The Kutigi-born jurist, few hours after the swearing-in of Justice Katsina-Alu, hit the mandatory retirement age of 70, and is due to formally bow out of the Supreme Court Bench today.

Only six serving justices of the Supreme Court graced the event yesterday.

They are Kutigi, who administered the oath; Justice John Fabiyi, who was recently elevated to the apex court Bench; Justice Tanko Mohammed; Justice James Ogebe; Justice Coomasie and Justice Mahmoud Mohammed.

Nevertheless, politicians, judicial officers, serving and retired from various courts graced the occasion. Also present were the governors of Benue, Rivers, Kwara, Enugu and Bayelsa states.

Kutigi blasts critics

In a nine-minute remark by Justice Kutigi on the occasion which had all the trappings of a court ruling, he said:
“I thank the Almighty God Allah who brings us together today to witness this epoch-making event. For the first time in the history of this country, the Chief Justice of Nigeria has sworn-in the in-coming.

“It is the first time (clapping). That it is the first time is not the fault of anybody. This is because the law has always been there. The swearing-in of the CJN is either done by Mr President or the outgoing or retiring Chief Justice. Now the occasion arises to perform the function which I have just done.

‘I am aware that this has generated a lot of commentaries and controversies from people who were supposed to know. The law is there. There is nothing new.

“If you look at the Oath Act 2004, you will see the provision there where the CJN, justices of the Supreme Court, President of the Court of Appeal and the justices of the Court of Appeal, among others, are all listed in a column, all of them, according to the Act are to be sworn in by the President or the Chief Justice of Nigeria.

Kutigi justifies action

‘The provision is there and it has always been there.
“That the outgoing CJN has never done it does not make it wrong. The law is clear.

“If you also look at the 1999 Constitution, it also makes it clear: that the person who has the responsibility of swearing-in the new CJN is the Chief Justice of Nigeria.

‘What I am saying is that there is nothing new about it. The law is there but for the first time we are just using it today.
‘And, let me say that I will be attaining the age of 70, Insa Allahu, by midnight today (clapping)

“The law requires me to bow out at the age of 70 and so I should bow out tomorrow (today).
“So, make no mistake about it, I am still in charge. (clapping again and laughing)

“I said this because I don’t want mischief-makers to go and write in the papers that there are two CJNs in Nigeria .
“Until I retire tomorrow, I am still in charge.

“Ladies and gentlemen, being a member of the judiciary myself, a member of this court, I can say that the new CJN who has just been sworn-in is the 11th indigenous Chief Justice of Nigeria (clapping).

“The President of the Court of Appeal who has also just been sworn in is the fifth President of the Court of Appeal.
‘I have been at the Supreme Court since 1992.

Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu taking oath of office as the new Chief Justice of Nigeria

“I have worked with both of them. I have worked with Justice Salami at the Court of Appeal while I was there and all along while I was at the Supreme Court, the new CJN joined me here two years after I came here. “We know each other very well.

I can tell you that he knows his onions. Very hardworking. I can assure you that you will enjoy him.
“I say congratulations to both of them.

“I have nothing more to add but to say that I am very grateful. I didn’t know that this hall will this be filled. By the grace of God, we shall continue to do our best in the judiciary. Thank you very much,” he added.
Justice Kutigi, who administered the oaths of office was the 10th indigenous CJN.

His predecessors included Justices Adetokunbo Ademola, Taslim Olawale Elias, Sir Darnley Alexander, Atanda Fatai-Williams, George Sodeinde Sowemimo, Gabriel Ayo lrikefe, Mohammed Bello, Muhammadu Lawal Uwais and Salihu Moddibo Alfa Belgore, most of who are dead.

Enter new Chief Justice

The new and the 11th Chief Justice, Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu, was born on August 28, 1941.

He pursued his legal training at the Law Faculty of the Institute of Administration , Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, between 1963 and 1964, before proceeding to London .He attended the Inns of Court School of Law, Gibson and Weldon College of Law, School of African and Oriental Studies, University of London from 1964-1967.
He obtained the Degree of Utter Barrister.

Prior to the commencement of his legal studies, his Lordship had formal military training at home —Nigeria MilitaryTraining College, Kaduna, 1962, and abroad —Mons Military Training College, Aldershot, England, 1962-1963.
He also holds a diploma in Business English (1972).

Justice Katsina-Alu was enrolled to the English Bar in October 1967 and to the Nigerian Bar on June 28, 1968.
He worked as a private legal practitioner in 1968 and between 1977 and 1978.
Between 1969 and 1977, he worked as a Legal Officer at the Nigerian Ports Authority, Lagos .

In 1978, he became the Attorney-General of Benue State until 1979 when he was appointed a Judge of the Benue State High Court.

From the High Court of Benue State, he was elevated to the Court of Appeal Bench in 1985.

He served as a Justice of the Court of Appeal until 1998, when after 20 years post-call he was appointed a Justice of the Supreme Court in November 1998.

He has been on the Supreme Court Bench until recently when he was elevated and sworn-in yesterday as the 11th Chief Justice by Justice Kutigi.

He is an awardee of the National Honour of the Commander of the Order of the Niger, CON, in recognition of his services to the nation.


Sudan adopts referendum law for oil-rich Abyei

By Khaled Abdelaziz

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudan"s parliament passed a law on Wednesday governing the oil-producing Abyei region"s right to join the country"s southern region if it secedes, or to remain part of the north.

But lawmakers said problems remained about who in Abyei would be allowed to vote on the question in a ballot that will coincide with a referendum in the south in a little over a year on whether southern Sudan should go its own way.

In a 2005 peace deal which ended more than two decades of civil war, Abyei was a major bone of contention and the region remains a possible flashpoint for a return to conflict.

The dominant northern National Congress Party and the former southern rebel Sudan People"s Liberation Movement (SPLM), which formed a coalition government after the 2005 deal, voted for the law. But some lawmakers said significant problems remained.

The law allows for the people of Abyei, in central Sudan, to choose whether to remain in the north or join the south, which many analysts expect to secede in a simultaneous vote in January 2011.

It gives the Ngok Dinka tribe and other Sudanese who reside in Abyei the right to vote. A simple majority will decide the region"s future.

Prominent lawmakers from the nomadic Missiriya tribe, who graze cattle a few months a year in Abyei, walked out of parliament, saying they wanted the same status as the Ngok Dinka.

"What happened today was a conspiracy against the Missiriya," said Mahdi Babo Nimr, a senior Missiriya figure.

The tribe has previously threatened military action if its demands are not met.

Parliament"s deputy speaker said some details on who was eligible to vote had yet to be finalised.

"The referendum commission will decide on the criteria for residency in the region," said the SPLM"s Atem Garang. "It is a deferred problem."

Garang said choosing the eight members of the referendum commission would in itself be a point of contention.

"It will be difficult to get people who are sincerely neutral," he said.

Abyei, whose people are among the poorest in Sudan, lies along the north-south border which is still not demarcated. Its potential as a flashpoint is increased by the fact that many of Sudan"s oil fields traverse the contested north-south boundary.

Sudan"s civil war claimed an estimated 2 million lives, drove 4 million from their homes and destabilised much of east Africa.

Many worry a separate south will have serious security problems as tribal violence has sharply escalated this year killing at least 2,000 people.

A witness said five Kenyans were shot, three to death, by a man wearing a south Sudan army uniform in the region"s capital Juba on Monday night.

"The dead, one lady and two men, are still in the mortuary in Juba waiting to be transferred to Nairobi today," said Kenyan Lucy Wanjiku who saw the attack.

The independent web site Sudan Tribune quoted south Sudan army spokesman Kuol Diem Kuol as saying the army was investigating the attack.

Kuol also said that in separate violence on Monday, five south Sudan soldiers were killed in clashes with civilians.


Gambia News : Gambian president roars at gays

Gambian president, Yahya Jammeh, is once again on the offensive against homosexuality, describing the practice as an act of "indecency" which has no place in the country"s military.
‘‘We will not encourage lesbianism and homosexuality. It is a taboo in our armed forces.”

But this is not the first time Jammeh has shown revulsion for gays and lesbians, and certainly not only in the army. The largely homophobic president who seems to enjoy basking in interminable trend of controversies recently ordered all people with sexual orientation to persons of the same sex to leave the country, or risk death.

"The Gambia is a country of believers...sinful and immoral practices as homosexuality will not be tolerated in this country," he said in May 2008. And as usual, he came under wide condemnation then.

President Jammeh made his latest outburst as he preached ‘Indiscipline’ in the military, as part a decoration ceremony for newly promoted army officials, including the country’s newly appointed military chief and his deputy who was just demoted to private and sacked, only to be reinstated a day or so after and promoted to a higher rank. That has been the trend in the country’s largely traumatized military core of late.

He said that indiscipline in the army will not be tolerated. “Discipline in the army cannot be compromised. We have seen a drastic drop in discipline in the army which is unacceptable. If you wear a uniform, you must be exemplary in discipline,” the president stated.

Yahya Jammeh,
An undisciplined army, he added, is equal to a band of robbers and thus “dangerous to the nation. From the general down to recruits, I am not going to tolerate indiscipline.”

In his characteristic posture, the Gambian leader, notorious for his uncompromisingly strong feeling of hostility for the country’s colonial power, Britain, said he has achieved so much in 15 years for the Gambian army what the British could not in 400 years. He pointed to the existence of the rank of ‘General’ in the present Gambian army as indication of this fact.

Over the past few weeks there have been persistent reports of alleged coup attempt, and this has mainly been fueled by a number of arrests of senior military officers, including the country’s immediate former army chief who was instrumental in foiling a coup that almost saw the removal of Yahya Jammeh who himself came to power by the barrel of the gun.

The men have since been in detention without charges or any official explanation from the authorities.


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