President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ally Chris Mutsvangwa ranted against Vice President Constantino Chiwenga in a chance encounter with the MDC leader, Nelson Chamisa, ZimLive can reveal.
The shock development comes as the Zanu PF Youth League has recently become vocal against “cartels”, seen as a precursor to an all-out war with Chiwenga by first targeting his financial backer, Kudakwashe Tagwirei, an influential player in the petroleum industry.
Chamisa was at the Robert Mugabe International Airport on January 29 ahead of a trip to South Africa when he came across the chairman of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association who was also at the airport on undisclosed business.
Two sources who witnessed the encounter said Mutsvangwa initially requested a photo to be taken with Chamisa, before launching into an unrestrained attack on Chiwenga, Mnangagwa’s ambitious deputy.
“He told Chamisa to disengage from Chiwenga, stating that the former army general was claiming influence that he did not have, both in the military and Zanu PF,” one source said.
Chamisa reportedly expressed surprise that Mutsvangwa was associating him with Chiwenga, remarking: “You are donating me to Chiwenga, and Chiwenga donates me to you. Which is which?”
Mutsvangwa did not care who was listening, another source who witnessed the encounter said. The war vets chief, said the source, appeared convinced that Chamisa was open to a political alliance with Chiwenga.
“He was particularly dismissive of Chiwenga, questioning his fitness for higher office,” the source, who had just walked over to greet Chamisa, told ZimLive.
Referring to Chiwenga’s nasty divorce from his former model wife, Marry Mubaiwa, Mutsvangwa told Chamisa: “Don’t be fooled by a man who has a pr0stitute running rings around him.”
Chamisa reportedly asked “who’s the pr0stitute, and who’s the man?” before the two men separated, both laughing.
The encounter reveals deepening divisions in Zanu PF, with two distinct factions – one led by Mnangagwa and the other by General Chiwenga – each seeking to take decisive control of the party before the next elections in 2023.
Chiwenga was the army general who led a coup against the former late president Robert Mugabe in November 2017. He recalled Mnangagwa, Mugabe’s former deputy, from exile to make him president in a bid to sanitise the coup.
But the two men have differed sharply after Mnangagwa claimed victory in a presidential election in August 2018 by just over 35,000 votes. Chiwenga’s camp says the 76-year-old Zanu PF leader is unelectable and has failed to effectively run the country, imperilling their project with the lurking dangers of a popular uprising or annihilation in a future election.
Mnangagwa, through his son Emmerson Junior, has reportedly engaged the Zanu PF Youth League to push back against Chiwenga.
Youth League deputy secretary Lewis Matutu and Godfrey Tsenengamu, the political commissar, have taken to social media to launch thinly-veiled attacks on Sakunda Holdings boss, Tagwirei, believed to be Chiwenga’s moneyman.
Tagwirei, the local partner of global commodities trader, Trafigura, is accused of running a near monopoly in the petroleum industry and fleecing the state through the opaque Command Agriculture scheme run by Sakunda.
A parliamentary committee says agriculture ministry officials have failed to account for US$3 billion expenditure on the scheme, and Tagwirei has refused to testify before parliament.
Writing on Facebook on January 29, Matutu said: “How can a few individuals prosper on majority’s tears?”
Avoiding naming Tagwirei, he added in another post on January 31: “We will be judged by our deeds as a generation. Personally, l refuse to be amongst the cursed ones simply because l would have ignored evil things happening whilst watching and right now l have an opportunity to make things right #cartelsmustfall.”
Tsenengamu, also taking to Facebook, said: “We will pay the price, either for fighting the blood-sucking cartels or for smiling at them while they suffocate us. I choose to fight.”
Tsenengamu said Zimbabwe was being destroyed “not by those few who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing something positive.”
“Monday is the day #CartelsMustFall,” he wrote on January 31, hinting strongly that the Youth League would pursue some action soon.
Zanu PF sources told ZimLive that Matutu was also personally angry after recently going to the party’s secretary for administration, Obert Mpofu, to demand that he be issued a Toyota Land Cruiser “like all other politburo secretaries”, and being rebuffed.
All Zanu PF secretaries in the politburo had Land Cruisers purchased for them by Tagwirei, and if Matutu had been granted his wish, the party would have turned to the Sakunda boss who has used his vast fortune to buy influence.
The convergence between Matutu and Tsenengamu has surprised some, who say the two men have rarely been aligned.
“It shouldn’t surprise anyone, however, because Tsenengamu will do anything for money or a voucher. He’s shamelessly unscrupulous. For a thousand dollars, he would slap the president, he’s that sort of guy,” a member of the Youth League said.
Mnangagwa’s son, Emmerson Junior, is reportedly pulling the financial strings on the Youth League to do his father’s bidding.
Mnangagwa has identified Tagwirei – whose accounts were temporarily frozen by the Reserve Bank last year over allegations that he was manipulating the local currency – as the power behind Chiwenga, and hopes by targeting him, he would leave his 63-year-old deputy financially weaker and unable to mount any challenge to his rule.
The Zanu PF leader has, since taking power in 2017, been reorganising the military top brass and retiring other senior officers in moves aimed at diminishing Chiwenga’s influence.
The Zimbabwe Independent reported on Friday that “an unsettled Mnangagwa” had made moves to “coup-proof” his regime by changing the commanders of the Presidential Guard, the infantry battalion which, together with the Mechanised Brigade, played a critical role in the 2017 military coup that toppled Mugabe.
The Presidential Guard, responsible for providing protection to the president and securing Harare, is a specialised force trained to fight in built up areas. It consists of two battalions, the 1 PG Battalion commonly known as State House Battalion, and the 2 PG Battalion situated in Dzivaresekwa.
Mnangagwa has named Lieutenant-Colonel Alison Chicha as the commander of 2 PG Battalion, replacing Lieutenant-Colonel Regis Mangezi, who moves over to command the 1 PG Battalion. Mangezi takes over from Lieutenant-Colonel Solomon Murombo, removed from the unit after he clashed with Mnangagwa’s wife – an incident caught on a leaked audio tape.
Mnangagwa’s wife, Auxillia, accused Murombo of spying on her and plotting to kill the president. Her outburst betrayed the first family’s fears and concerns about their security. Murombo has been shunted off to Zimbabwe Defence House, the military headquarters.
Breaking News via Email
Enter your email address to subscribe to our website and receive notifications of Breaking News by email.
Because of pressure mostly from Senate Democrats but also from some of his colleagues, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agreed late Friday to postpone President Donald Trump’s acquittal vote until next Wednesday.
The decision provoked frustration in some, though for different reasons.
Here is the McConnell-Schumer Senate deal which extends impeachment to next Wednesday. Story first reported by @OANN pic.twitter.com/b2pKhBma2i
— Jack Posobiec🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) February 1, 2020
Chris Wallace, one of Fox News’ most vocal Democrats, responded by blasting the Democrats for being so “petty” and “spiteful.” The remarks came after fellow FNC contributor Dana Perino opined about the Democrats’ motivation for pushing for a delay.
“I think one of the things that the Democrats want, and I don’t know why they think this would be helpful, is to be able to have the headline say, ‘An impeached president gives State of the Union,’” she said.
The president’s SOTU address is scheduled for Tuesday, a day before Trump is to be formally acquitted.
“I think it is so petty on the part of the Democrats and spiteful,” Wallace promptly chimed in. “End this. Land the plane!”
(Source: Fox News)
Others aimed their criticism at McConnell instead, including Fox Business Network host Lou Dobbs and frequent FBN guest Ed Rollins, the co-chairman of the Donald Trump Great America PAC.
“Why in the world would the majority leader agree to run this thing through the state of the union address?” Dobbs asked in exasperation late Friday.
“He won, and the bottom line is that he should have shut it down tonight. And who cares if it’s in the middle fo the night? The whole thing is in the middle of the night,” Rollins replied.
“So what’s the profit in him doing this?” Dobbs pressed.
“There’s not,” Rollins replied. “There’s a danger to it because you have another whole weekend of the co-conspirators — The New York Times — leaking more Bolton stories and raising more hell. He’ll be on all the talk shows.”
(Source: Fox Business Network)
Shortly before the Senate began the process of voting on whether or not to allow witnesses to testify in the president’s trial, the Times dropped yet another Bolton “bombshell.”
This one alleged that the “president asked his national security adviser last spring in front of other senior advisers to pave the way for a meeting between Rudolph Giuliani and Ukraine’s new leader.”
Within an hour of the “bombshell” dropping, the Democrat impeachment managers began making closing arguments that reportedly contained quotes from that very story.
“[T]he House managers begin their closing arguments, and guess what? They’ve got charts, they got graphs, they got quotes from the New York Times leak!” conservative radio show host Rush Limbaugh noted at the time.
“It’s the playbook, and it is now so obvious, it’s become a joke. Every senator in that room knows exactly what’s going on here. We’re listening to closing arguments that are a coordinated, last-gasp, hail Mary for witnesses or what have you, that the New York Times found somebody to leak ’em something else from the manuscript of Bolton’s book.”
Dovetailing back to Dobbs, he shared his concerns on Twitter, as did other notable conservatives.
Why in the world would Senate Majority Leader McConnell allow this Radical Dem assault on @realDonaldTrump and the nation to run through the State of the Union and go on Wednesday when he could wrap it up tonight or at least tomorrow? #MAGA #AmericaFirst #Dobbs
— Lou Dobbs (@LouDobbs) January 31, 2020
Get the vote done Tuesday.
Exonerate the President BEFORE the State of the Union Address Tuesday so America can officially and symbolically turn the page from this duplicitous impeachment.
Tuesday night needs to be @realdonaldtrump‘s. https://t.co/koYyhxOQOv
— JD Rucker (@JDRucker) February 1, 2020
Why is McConnell pushing this now to Wednesday?
— Jeremy Frankel (@FrankelJeremy) January 31, 2020
Someone needs to ask all those ‘muh Cocaine Mitch’ people why McConnell is cutting deals with Schumer to extend the impeachment trial. Weird!
— Jack Posobiec🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) January 31, 2020
Reports have emerged suggesting that “Cocaine Mitch” may have delayed the acquittal vote for his own personal benefit.
“A joint fundraising committee allied with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is hosting a fundraiser in the Miami area over Super Bowl weekend,” The Hill has confirmed.
“McConnell for Majority Leader, a joint fundraising committee, has scheduled a fundraiser at 4 p.m. Saturday at a ‘South Beach Miami Location Provided Upon RSVP,’ according to an invite obtained by The Hill.”
While it’s not clear whether the majority leader will attend the event, some have speculated that his scheduled presence at the event would certainly explain his inexplicable decision to delay the president’s acquittal vote.
So is this why McConnell didn’t force a vote tonight or tomorrow? Cause that would be bad https://t.co/n19AMOVDYg
— jim manley (@jamespmanley) February 1, 2020
To be fair, however, the president himself reportedly signed off on the delay.
“Before agreeing to the delay, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) phoned Trump to get the president’s approval, according to a source familiar with the conversation. Trump then signed off on the decision,” Politico reported.
It’s not clear what the strategy here is, though knowing the president, there is indeed most likely some sort of strategy at play.
Senior Staff Writer
V. Saxena is a staff writer for BizPac Review with a decade of experience as a professional writer, and a lifetime of experience as an avid news junkie. He holds a degree in computer technology from Purdue University.
Republican Sen. Mitt Romney’s decision to side with Democrats and vote for witnesses in the impeachment trial earned him much criticism and now a dis-invitation.
The Utah lawmaker was “formally not invited” to attend this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, referred to as CPAC, after his stunt in a Senate vote Friday when he voted in favor of hearing from witnesses in President Trump’s impeachment trial.
“The ‘extreme conservative’ and Junior Senator from the great state of Utah, @SenatorRomney is formally NOT invited to #CPAC2020,” American Conservative Union Chairman Matt Schlapp said in a mocking tweet on Friday.
The conservative conference scheduled for the end of the month will feature Trump as the keynote speaker.
BREAKING: The “extreme conservative” and Junior Senator from the great state of Utah, @SenatorRomney is formally NOT invited to #CPAC2020. pic.twitter.com/f35tYy73V1
— Matt Schlapp (@mschlapp) January 31, 2020
Romney and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine were the only Republicans who voted with Democrats on Friday in the failed attempt to allow additional witnesses to be heard in the trial. The final vote of 51-49 shot down a weeks-long Democratic effort to hear witnesses, such as former national security adviser John Bolton and others, and set the stage for a final vote to acquit the president next week.
Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska were ultimately the swing GOP votes, sticking with the party and voting against the effort while Democrats began to discredit the process as a “sham.” Romney, who is not up for reelection until 2024, was roundly condemned for bucking the party though some, like Utah’s Republican senior Senator Mike Lee did come to his defense.
Mitt Romney is a good friend and an excellent Senator. We have disagreed about a lot in this trial. But he has my respect for the thoughtfulness, integrity, and guts he has shown throughout this process. Utah and the Senate are lucky to have him.
— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) January 31, 2020
Lee is a frequent CPAC attendee as is Romney who has spoken at the annual conservative gathering in the past, including in 2013, following his 2012 failed presidential bid. It was not clear if the former Massachusetts governor was even planning to attend this year’s event which will include Diamond and Silk, Candace Owens and California Rep. Devin Nunes as speakers as well as conservative commentator Mark Levin, and Brexit leader Nigel Farage.
CPAC and Schlapp were slammed by some Twitter users for the rebuke of Romney and display of “cancel culture” politics.
— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) January 31, 2020
oh what a calamity how will Mitt ever be able to carry on https://t.co/7vsYOPzEuh
— George Conway (@gtconway3d) January 31, 2020
— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) January 31, 2020
CPAC has turned into an alt right clown show. I’m sure Mitt could care less.
— Marylou Culkar (@MarylouCulkar6) February 1, 2020
But many others on Twitter were happy to see the Utah senator get called out.
I am so disappointed in Romney. What a traitor and I don’t use that loosely. Trump supported him completely in his bid for the senate. Romney has done everything to betray Trump. I never would have believed it but there it is.
— Chuck Woolery (@chuckwoolery) January 26, 2020
— Sara A. Carter (@SaraCarterDC) February 1, 2020
Epic Burn. 🔥🤣
I am going to CPAC because my dreams became memes.
And I didn’t betray the president 40 times.
— Carpe Donktum🔹 (@CarpeDonktum) January 31, 2020
Good riddance… It’s about time Mitt Romney be held accountable for his actions.
Not sure why he’d want to be at #CPAC anyway, he’s no longer a conservative. https://t.co/KtXVM1tWZY
— Jason Lewis (@LewisForMN) February 1, 2020
Good! He’s NOT a Republican!
Senior Staff Writer
Originally from New York, Powers graduated from New York University and eventually made her way to sunny South Florida where she has been writing for the BizPacReview team since 2015.
Nigerians have reacted to the Court verdict sentencing Maryam Sanda to death by hanging for killing her husband Bilyaminu Bello in November 2018.
The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court on Monday sentenced Maryam Sanda to death by hanging after convicting her for the death of her husband Bilyaminu Bello.
Sanda had faced trial over an allegation of stabbing Bilyaminu to death, son of former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Haliru Bello.
In November 2017, the police charged Sanda for culpable homicide and sought a death penalty against the accused on two counts.
She was pregnant when she killed her husband and has since birthed a baby girl.
They informed the court that the killing was premeditated.
According to the charge sheet, Sanda was said to have stabbed her husband with broken bottles.
The police charged her for culpable homicide and sought a death penalty against her on two counts.
They informed the court that the killing was premeditated. According to the charge sheet, Sanda stabbed her husband with broken bottles at about 3:50 am.
But the accused who was initially remanded in custody has repeatedly pleaded not guilty to the crime.
After her conviction, she fled the dock immediately. However, court officials and prisons officials dragged her back into the dock.
Maryam started wailing and shouting “Inna lilahi Inna roji hun”, as her family and lawyer try to console her. She was heard saying, “I was fasting and praying … Ya Allah, why?”
Watch video below:
The news of the court’s verdict has been met with different reactions on social media with some people including celebrities preaching against anger or staying in an unhappy marriage.
However, a Nigerian activist identified as Rahama (@Forever_Rayyan) on Twitter, has taken to the microblogging site to show support to Maryam. According to Rahama, men are demonic and can push one to extreme lengths.
She added that Maryam’s life matters in this case and that her husband misbehaved which led to her stabbing him in anger.
Rahama reiterated that she stands with Maryam and that even though she killed her husband, it is not a reason for them to pay evil with evil. She added that because Bilyaminu Bello’s father is a former PDP chairman does not mean Maryam does not have rights.
See some reactions below:
We should take this Maryam sanda situation as a lesson to control our rage and anger in life,because 2minutes can ruin your life forever so please and please let’s try and control our rage before we do what we will regret in life …
— 👑👑Nûmérö Ûñô🚀 (@Haidaer__) January 27, 2020
Maryam Sanda’s kid is going to be like ‘my mom killed my dad then the government killed my mom’
— Boardman (@TimelineBandit) January 27, 2020
I’ve no pity for her; Maryam Sanda, for that’s the provision of QUR’AN and constitutionally it’s a law we must to abide by. I wish you the best when approaching the MASTER OF all the JUDGES
— Amb Shuaibu Gomna (@Shuaibu_Gomna) January 27, 2020
Justice well served!
As an activist I stand with MARYAM SANDA😌 men are demonic and can push you to extreme lengths, yes we should learn to control our anger but even the Qur’an said you should seek for protection and defend your self when necessary in the 1999 constitution as been amended.
— R(a)HaM(a)❤ (@Forever_Rayyan) January 27, 2020
There is no reason to pay evil with evil, you didn’t ask her for her reason for the murder even taught islam prohibits killing, sometimes men do really push women to the wall you know🙄🤔 just cause his father is a former PDP chairman doesn’t mean she has no right Nigeria 😪
— R(a)HaM(a)❤ (@Forever_Rayyan) January 27, 2020
I also stand with Maryam sanda,she is d only one that knows what she went through.u shouldn’t blame her for what she did.Dont be judgemental
— Miss Rabiah (@RabiatAbdulkad1) January 27, 2020
Maryam Sanda opinions in this case matters as well, human rights are women right, her husband mis behaved she stapped him out of anger without knowing, he died & you’re now blaming her. Put yourselves in her shoes arewa Twitter.
— R(a)HaM(a)❤ (@Forever_Rayyan) January 27, 2020
What happens to the child, they should leave her for the child sake, so the child is now an orphan, mommy killed dad and everyone starts running away from the child thinking she is also gonna be a serial killer? Weve to change our mind sets. Nigeria law is scam.#MaryamSanda https://t.co/uV6dNxvNhR
— R(a)HaM(a)❤ (@Forever_Rayyan) January 27, 2020
Hours after Mayam Sanda was sentenced to death by a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, the nation’s capital, for killing her husband, a special assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on new media, Bashir Ahmad, has described the incidents as devastating and traumatic.
The presidential aide made this known on his Twitter page on Monday, January 27, stressing that only Allah could strengthen the couple’s families.
Ahmad said it would be sad for Maryam Sanda’s daughter to know while growing up that her mother killed her father and that the court in return sentenced her to death.
He said it might not be easy for the innocent girl to cope with such traumatic incidences, adding that it is only Allah could give her strength to bear the burden and agony of losing both parents in such circumstances.
Ahmad further stated that thoughts and prayers have been with Bilyaminu and Maryam’s families since the incident happened.
I feel so sorry and sad for Maryam Sanda’s daughter, growing up to understand such devastating incidences will not going to be easy. May Allah give her the strength and be with her. Thoughts and prayers have been with Bilyaminu and Maryam’s families. May Allah comfort them.
— Bashir Ahmad (@BashirAhmaad) January 27, 2020
He prayed Almighty Allah to be with both families and Sanda’s daughter.
Meanwhile, the police had told the court that Sanda had stabbed her husband with a broken bottle with the intention of killing him.
However, the accused denied the claim and pleaded not guilty to the crime. She said her husband died after he accidentally fell on a broken bottle in their home.
She was eventually granted bail after many attempts. As part of her bail condition, the court-mandated her father to produce her in court till the end of the trial.
Mrs. Maryam Sanda, who was on Monday sentenced to death by hanging for killing her husband, will appeal the judgment, a member of his legal team has told THISDAY.
Justice Yusuf Halilu of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) had given her the maximum sentence for killing her husband, Mr. Bilyaminu Bello.
However, some women and civil rights activists have condemned the death penalty, describing it as unacceptable.
But another activist and co-convener of #BringBackOurGirls (BBOG) movement, Mrs. Aisha Yesufu, welcomed the death penalty, saying that it was not only an adequate punishment but also that justice had been served in the case.
The federal government had arraigned her on a two-count charge bordering on murder.
In the judgment delivered, the trial judge held that there was circumstantial evidence coupled with the defendant’s testimony and statement to the police that she “fatally” stabbed her husband to death in Abuja on November 19, 2017.
The judge while stating that the offence for which the defendant was convicted was based on Section 221 of the Penal Code imposed the maximum sentence.
“It has been said that thou shall not kill. Whoever kills in cold blood shall die in cold blood,” the judge said, adding: “Maryam Sanda should reap what she has sown. It is blood for blood.”
However, reacting to the judgment yesterday, one of the lawyers, who spoke off the record, said they would go on appeal against the judgment.
“She has a constitutional right of appeal and definitely she has to exercise it,” he said, adding: “We will definitely appeal the judgment.”
Sanda killed her husband on November 19, 2017, through multiple stabbing.
She was arraigned alongside three other persons, including her mother and brother.
However, the others were discharged because the prosecution was unable to link them to the charges.
The late Bello is a son of a former national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Haliru Bello.
Activists Condemn Death Penalty
Some women and civil rights activists have condemned the death penalty given to Sanda, describing it as unacceptable.
In a WhatsApp conversation with THISDAY, an activist and Director of Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre, Mrs. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, condemned the court’s ruling.
Though she agreed that anyone found guilty of such conduct should be punished, she said death penalty was condemnable.
She said: “It’s a very unfortunate situation, killing of a spouse whether a man or woman is condemnable and anyone found guilty of such conduct should be punished, as deterrence.
The society should have zero tolerance to gender-based violence. “However, death penalty is condemnable. I think maximum sentence in this instance is not the option given the background of the offence. The society should shift from the culture of death penalty; it is no longer acceptable, it has not served the purpose it was meant in the society.”
Corroborating Akiyode-Afolabi’s comment, human rights lawyer and Director of Citizens Advocacy for Social and Economic Rights (CASER), Mr. Frank Tietie, said Sanda should not have been given the maximum punishment.
Tietie in a phone conversation with THISDAY hinged his claim on the possibility of defendant being mentally unstable during the time the crime was committed and the defence team not doing enough to explore all the possible defences available to the woman.
He added that Nigeria must move beyond being a retentionist country in these modern times and realise that death penalty does not solve problems.
According to him, “Mental incapacity is something that should have been brought to the court and with the use of expert witness to prove that she’s not mentally capable of organising herself in such a state of frustration.
“Firstly, for someone to want to kill her husband is an expression of abnormality; it’s not quite natural. I suspect that her mental health was something to be questioned, which should have been brought before the court. If to argue that the woman did not do it, it’s a different thing but to say that she did it, her mind set was not in control of her mental faculty as at the time she did it because of the marital trauma she must have been exposed to which was prolonged and eventually led to pent-up anger and she was also left unattended to by relatives and friends.”
He expressed optimism that Sanda has a window for appeal both at the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.
He said: “It’s my hope that some new pieces of evidence will be introduced.
“Even by law, death penalty is barbaric; Oscar Pistorius wasn’t given maximum sentence not to talk about this kind of culpable homicide that was done based on crime of passion. What led her to committing those crimes should have been brought to the court.”
But activist and co-convener of #BringBackOurGirls, Yesufu, believed that justice was served.
She, however, tasked the judiciary to also apply the same energy in ensuring that everyone gets justice regardless of one’s status or gender.
She said: “For me basically the case is simple. Maryam Sanda was found guilty of killing her husband and of course justice has been served. My take out from this is that if the Nigerian judiciary system can be very strict in ensuring that people get justice, a lot of things that happen in Nigeria, we wouldn’t see them happening.
“People won’t have any reason to take the laws into their hands and feel that they can do anything and get away with it. No matter who you are, you have to pay for your crimes no matter your gender, age or status. It’s all a tragic ending for the families involved but it’s what it is, justice has been served.”
The post Maryam Sanda to Appeal Death Sentence appeared first on THISDAYLIVE.
Top Management staff of Facebook paid a visit to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), on Thursday, to explore opportunities for collaboration and partnership for infrastructure deployment to strengthen connectivity, enhance businesses and bolster citizens’ embrace of digital culture.
Ibrahima Ba, Network Investment Lead at Facebook Office in the United States, who led the delegation to NCC, stated that robust infrastructure was the bedrock of the massive connectivity that signposts Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram.
Facebook had successfully undertaken two connectivity projects in Edo and Ogun involving a total of 800 kilometres of fibre connecting institutions and operators towers.
He said that considering the connectivity gap that still exists in the country, there was a need for further expansion of infrastructure as increased penetration of services will require further deployment of infrastructure.
Ba, who declared that Nigeria was important to Facebook being Africa’s most populous country, emphasised that his company looked forward to seeing opportunities for partnerships manifest to ensure infrastructure expansion in fibre connectivity.
Ba advised the NCC to facilitate additional liberalisation of partnership and collaboration processes with stakeholders, a proposition Jerry Ugwu, Deputy Director Legal and Regulatory Services at NCC, assured that the NCC will explore.
Edoyemi Ogoh, Deputy Director Technical Standards and Network Integrity at NCC, who led the team that received the Facebook delegation on behalf of the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive (EVC/CE) of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, commended the group’s interest in the Nigerian market.
He affirmed that NCC was aware of the importance of central infrastructure to the expansion of telecom services, and added that the realisation explained NCC’s adoption of the Open Access Model (OAM) and the licensing of infrastructure companies (Infracos) to cascade fibre to the hinterland of Nigeria.
Ogoh noted that President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent re-designation of NCC’s supervising ministry as Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy was a conformation of Federal Government’s commitment to encouraging more citizens to embrace digital culture.
Stressing that the NCC is central to these processes, the official added that the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, has continued to demonstrate his commitment to tackling bottlenecks to infrastructure expansion.
He cited the recent meetings between the Minister, the EVC and Dr. Kayode Fayemi, the Governor of Ekiti State and Chairman of Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) which focused on streamlining and standardization Right of Way (RoW) charges.
Ogoh disclosed that the Commission was finalising processes to institute the ‘Dig Once Policy’ that will encourage operators and other key players in infrastructure segment to have greater strategic collaboration in the laying of fibre especially in the context of the upcoming National Broadband Plan 2020-2025.
On Ba’s delegation were Erik Schmidt, Network Strategy Manager, Facebook Infrastructure; Adaora Ikenze, Head West Africa (Public Policy); Imran Abass, Partner Manager, Sub Saharan Africa; and Fargani Tambeayuk, Africa Public Policy Manager (Connectivity).
Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, pioneer chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission scored a major political goal on Saturday when he brought Nigeria’s political and business elites together at the Al-Nur Mosque in Abuja.
They came to attend the wedding of Nuhu’s two sons, Mahmud and Abubakar Sadiq, to their beloved partners, Aminatu Ismaila and Fatima Jijiwa. President Buhari was the only major political actor that was absent, but he was ably represented by a delegation led by Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari.
Luckily, the wedding was held without incident.
Tinubu and Atiku discuss at the wedding. Months ago, Tinubu’s party and Atiku’s were fighting over Aso Rock
Buhari’s digital economy minister Isa Pantami and Atiku
However, images out of the occasion offered some sobering lessons to Nigeria’s political followers, who break bottles and kill themselves, all in the name of politics. At the top, the elite ‘Dey Kampe’, to use a pidgin phrase made popular by former president Olusegun Obasanjo. The political elite surely know how to sort themselves out despite superficial differences and acrimony on the political turf.
VP Osinbajo and ex-VP Atiku Abubakar
APC, PDP dignitaries at the wedding fatiha of Nuhu Ribadu’s sons in Abuja
Femi Otedola, Aliko Dangote and Isa Pantami at the wedding
Just watch Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar sharing one big mirthful laughter. Watch Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Atiku Abubakar discuss as old friends or Digital Economy Minister, Isa Pantami sit calmly beside Abubakar Atiku.
The truth is ‘there is no fight upstairs’. It’s political ‘make believe’. We cannot but agree with the comment of Oluwaseyi Adeniyi, who posted photos of the wedding showing the dignitaries exchanging camaraderie: Today at the Wedding Fatiha of Mahmud Nuhu Ribadu & Amina Aliyu Ismaila, Son of Mallam @NuhuRibadu at The Al-Nur Mosque Abuja. And you think our political elites are fighting? If you allow yourself to be killed all in the name of defending them. You die for nothing”.
This is the takeaway lesson from Al Nur Mosque in Abuja.
THE 13 people killed on Wednesday by gunmen in Kombun district in Mangu Local Government Area of Plateau State have been given mass burial.
The burial, which took place on Thursday at about 6.46 p.m., was attended by a huge crowd of long-faced members of the community.
The victims were murdered by gunmen suspected to be Fulani herdsmen but the state chapter of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN) has absolved its members of the killings.
The traditional ruler of Mangu, Chief Nelson Bakfur, the Mishkaham Mwaghavul of the Mwaghavul tribe, described the killings as barbaric and called on the security agencies to track down the perpetrators and bring them to justice.
“I was taken aback by the dastardly act of the gunmen and I condemn such in very strong terms as the paramount ruler of the Mwaghavul nation. The killing of my kinsmen is not acceptable.
“It is indeed shocking to us as Mwaghavul nation as we are not known for cattle rustling or stealing in general to warrant such an attack on us. I am appealing to my people to remain calm in the face of the provocation and not to react in any unlawful manner,” Chief Bakfur said.
The state caretaker chairman of MACBAN, Malam Isa Bapbba, noted that members of his association had lost so many cattle to rustlers in the local government and the neighbouring council areas, but he said the association had no hand in the incident that happened in Kombun district of Mangu on Wednesday.
“Though prior to the in incident, some of our members were harassed and beaten by some people in the area and their cattle killed, the matter was resolved. But I can tell you that we have no hand in the killings.”
He implored security agencies to fish out those behind the murders.
How the killings happened –Gov Lalong
Meanwhile, the state governor, Simon Lalong, was at the State House, Abuja, on Friday, to brief President Muhammadu Buhari on the killings.
Speaking to State House correspondents after the meeting, the governor said the attack was caused by cattle rustlers, leading to reprisals with innocent citizens falling victim.
He said: “As a matter of fact, we woke up yesterday (Thursday) early in the morning to get information that people were killing themselves in a village. I didn’t waste time; I took off to that village. My timely intervention and presence helped a lot. Because, after the first set of killings, the second set was reprisal killings.”
Lalong said his intervention had restored normalcy to the area, saying: “We buried the people. I spoke to the people and they understood me and the place has remained calm. Peace has been restored to that place.”
He explained the cause of the crisis further: “Our little investigations confirm that it was a group of cattle rustlers in a huge number that rustled over 100 cows. They were moving with them.
“We have also made appeal through the youths that whenever there is this kind of challenge, they should move in and seek to arrest some of the criminals. “Unfortunately, the youths came out, they did their best. In fact, I will call them patriotic. They went in and stopped the rustlers from moving with the cows and were able to rescue about 100 cows at the end of the day.
“So, after the rescue, they were only able to arrest about three or four of those people and took them to the police station and returned to their various villages.
“That early morning, some of those rustlers who escaped came back and started attacking and killing people in the villages. So, it was quite unfortunate.”
Lalong said a committee was working on new security architecture for northern states, which would be based on community policing as a way to provide sustainable solution to the insecurity in the region.
When asked whether the North Central would consider a local security outfit in the mould of the South-West, Amotekun, he said: “When you talk about North Central, I am the chairman of the Northern Governors Forum. We took a decision sometime last year.
“You will recall that at one time, we met the president and we told him what we were doing. We set up committees and the committees have worked very hard.
“You will recall that we started our meeting from the North-West, in Katsina. We are going back to have another meeting in the North-Central.
“The situation in the South might not be the same with the North but in the North, we are also looking at some ways that will also address these issues.
“So, we have gone ahead to set up committees. Those committees have done their work and we are going to meet to address these issues once and for all.
“We have also agreed to key into community policing and at the level of the committee, we have already gone far. Each state is already neck deep in community policing.
“But I have not read the (Amotekun) document. I cannot claim to have read the details of that document, to understand what they mean by Amotekun.
“I saw various vehicles that were bought but, you know, if it is about vehicles, many vehicles have been bought in the North. I bought almost 100 vehicles and gave to the police but that is not what will address the insecurity in my state.
“So, it may vary from the South to the North, but in the North, we are trying to look for a comprehensive way that will help augment what the Federal Government is doing in respect to insecurity.”
Last November, thousands of Lagosians including hundreds of UBA Bank employees attended what was billed as the ‘party of the year’ at the Lekki Special Events Centre on Admiralty Way.
The UBA RedTV Rave had everyone from Wizkid to Olamide to Jidenna to Burna Boy thrilling the festive crowd as UBA chairman Tony Elumelu and CEO Kennedy Uzoka mingled with the artists and guests.
On the surface, this was the best of times, as a bank that was clearly in rude health celebrated a successful year with thousands of employees, friends and family. The bank had also recently concluded a recruitment exercise that would add nearly 4,000 new employees to its staff strength, so the year ahead looked to be a promising one for most employees present.
Unknown to them, while senior executives danced with Wizkid in the VIP area, one of the most brutal staff layoffs in Nigerian banking history was just around the corner. They partied well into the night and then showed up for work the following week as usual. A week went by. Two weeks. Four weeks. Then right at the start of the new year – a shocker.
Closed at 5.30PM, Terminated at 10.30PM
Ifunanya (name has been changed) was asked to wait behind at work on Friday January 3. As a 12-year UBA veteran including a long stint in her role as a Branch Operations Manager at a branch in Ojodu, Lagos, this was not an unusual request to receive. She was even used to working weekends so that the ATMs could remain functional and she could troubleshoot other onsite customer-facing issues. This time however, was different.
Along with other staff members at the branch, she was asked to wait for a board meeting. By 10.30PM, the assembled staff were informed that their services were no longer required. They were then told verbally to write out their resignation letters on the spot and leave voluntarily or be forced out. At this point, her security pass was taken, and along with the other affected staff, her profile was unceremoniously deactivated from the bank’s internal system. She was reminded to drop her work ID on the way out, and thus ended a 12-year association with the bank.
When a relative of hers reached out to tell the story, he was keen to make the point that she was not an agency employee, but a full UBA employee on a monthly salary of N153,000. He could not understand why the bank would treat her that way. I heard similar stories from two other sources who insisted that they were coerced into resigning after being told that their services were no longer required right at the start of the new year.
Shocking and callous as these stories may have sounded, one of the first things you are taught in any professional journalism program is to always balance the story. So I sought an alternate account of what transpired, with the goal of putting the picture together to tell a complete story. There were conflicting accounts of the events of January 3 flying around, with some accounts describing a recruitment and promotion exercise without mentioning any firings, while others reported a purported “restructuring” at UBA, which is a well-known euphemism for “mass sack.”
I managed to establish contact with a current senior employee at UBA who asked to remain anonymous because he is not authorised to speak about such matters. This was his account of what happened at UBA bank at the start of this year:
“Usually when anyone joins UBA with a Bachelor’s degree, they are put on a GT1 level (N80,000). After one year, they are promoted to GT2 (N100,000), then after another year ET1 (N140,000) which is where a lot of people get stuck on. If you are lucky, you get to ET2 (N165,000). So what UBA did was to meld those 4 levels into one (ET) so any one who was on GT1 and GT2 gets automatically promoted to ET2. Those that were on ET1 and ET2 got promoted to SET (Senior Executive Trainee).
So it was a promotion of sorts, but honestly it was long overdue because compared to other banks, N80,000 for entry level staff is quite low. About the layoffs: I only know 4 people personally who got affected. The people affected were on manager grades and worked at the head office, they all reportedly got 6 months arrears.”
According to this source, he was not personally aware of the fate of any branch staff or what he termed ‘OND staff.’ He did however say that in his opinion, the bank handled the situation poorly and that Nigeria does need stronger labour laws to protect young graduates fresh out of school from exploitation for cheap labor at the hands of corporates like UBA. He also mentioned that he knows current UBA staff have not had a salary increase in ten years – a remarkable situation for workers in a country whose currency has declined 195 percent over the same period.
As it later emerged, more than 2,000 staff were affected by the shocking late-night cull at UBA. It also became increasingly clear that the firings had nothing to do with a harsh operating environment or decreased profitability. The bank which had brought together Nigeria’s most expensive music stars to perform at its end of year shindig was anything but struggling – it actually hired more people than if fired. What the sackings did though, was clear out a number of people in roles that the bank considered obsolete, particularly within branch operations.
It can definitely be argued that such restructuring is inevitable in the face of rapidly changing technology, which is hardly a terrible thing. What is also true however, is that the bank that paid huge sums of money to bring Burna Boy and Jidenna to an annual vanity event that adds nothing to its bottom line could also afford to retrain its redundant staff to fit into new roles – instead of just sacking them and instantly bringing in thousands of readymade replacements.
Yet again, the actions of a Nigerian corporate made the point that Nigerian labour law, in addition to be being poorly enforced is also woefully inadequate and unfit for purpose. If after 12 years of useful service to a bank, Ifunanya could be dumped out onto the street without even a few hours of notice – and no regulatory action was forthcoming – then clearly, Nigerian employees working for Nigerian companies have a problem on their hands.
As much as the UBA situation made that point, nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to unearth about another Nigerian corporate behemoth.
Diarrhea in India, Death in Ibeju-Lekki: The Unbelievable Story of Dangote Refinery
While senior executives at UBA House were going over the finer points of their plan to log 2,000 employees out of their work systems and force them to resign on the spot, a different level of labour exploitation was entering its fourth year about 73KM east of the Marina. There, at the site of the Dangote Refinery at the Free Trade Zone in Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos, the refinery was taking delivery of the world’s largest crude oil refining tower.
While this was predictably being celebrated across local and foreign media as the start of a glorious new chapter in Nigeria’s industrial history, I was speaking to a whistleblower with close and detailed knowledge of the project. What he had to say about the refinery project, the Indian project managers, the company’s internal culture and its much-publicised trainee program left me absolutely floored. Naturally I reached out to Dangote Group for a comment, but at press time I have received no response or acknowledgment.
My source, whom I shall call “Mukhtar” worked in and around the refinery project between 2016 and 2018, and what I found most distressing amidst everything he said was the revelation that deaths due to onsite accidents are not just known to happen at the refinery site, but are effectively covered up by Dangote. This he said, is because the people who die are mostly site labourers who are hired through staffing agencies instead of directly. When they die, it becomes the staffing company’s problem and the Dangote brand distances itself from it – even though the site owner is legally responsible for all safety-related incidents onsite.
Something else that struck me was that he implied that – contrary to all its public posturing – the company actually has no intention of using Nigerian engineers to run the refinery anytime soon. The trainee program that sent dozens of Engineering graduates for a one-year training program in India? “Strictly PR,” he said.
For full effect, I have decided to reproduce the full and unredacted transcript of our conversation instead of using quotes and reported speech. Here is the conversation below:
ME: When we started this conversation, you mentioned that Dangote Refinery is exempt from Nigerian labour laws. What were you referencing?
Mukhtar: Because the refinery is in the FTZ, it is not subject to certain laws like local content laws. As such, even mundane jobs are given to non-Nigerian companies. Even the refinery’s fence wall was handled by a Chinese company. This didn’t stop long stretches of the fence from collapsing sometime in 2017. The FTZ affects Labour laws too. The company is not really under any obligation to employ Nigerians. They do so mostly for PR. All key decision makers are Indians (say 98%).
ME:There have been several horror stories about Indian-run businesses in Nigeria. Was this one of them?
Mukhtar: Yes, the Indians are quite racist. Some even demand to be referred to as “master”. To be fair, when this is reported, the HR unit makes a show of cautioning them. But I dont think anyone has ever been dismissed for it or seriously punished. Most of workers who meet their death on site are labourers. So their names might be known to many staff. I’ll see what I can get. It happens. It’s kept under wraps but it happens.
ME:Now you mentioned onsite deaths earlier. I want to know all about this. Why haven’t we heard anything about this?
Mukhtar: The refinery site is not really the best place to work. Mortality rate on site is quite high. People falling from heights or getting crushed by heavy vehicles/machines is quite common. These numbers are not reported because most staff are contract staff (or outsourced) so the company gets to wash its hands off such cases. But safety on site is the ultimate responsibility of the owner of the project. The construction site has a board that is supposed to display the safety statistics but it is never displays the truth. According to that board, there has never been a fatality on site. But in reality, I think 2018 had about 5 fatalities between January and March. If I were to guess, I’d say there have been over 25 fatalities since construction started in 2016/17.
ME:Now you said earlier that the trainee program was a washout and a disappointment. Fill me in on that.
Mukhtar: I was one of the first batch of engineers sent to India for training in 2016. In my opinion, the whole scheme was either poorly thought out or the company was somehow compelled to do it, and did so for PR. Our salaries were being paid into our accounts in Nigeria, so we were using our debit cards to access our Nigerian accounts for expenses over there) Around July 2016 when the naira went from around 160 per dollar to nearly double that number, our spending power was effectively halved.
ME:I also remember that there was a forex shortage crisis in 2016 and Nigerian bank cards stopped working outside the country.
Mukhtar: So when the banks eventually stopped all cards from functioning abroad, we were stranded. The company resorted to selling us dollars or rupees at the black market rate.They deducted the money from our salaries. We had accommodation (two adults per room) and feeding (Indian food which many of us did not like). Some of had to buy intercontinental dishes regularly, because Indian food is really not nice if you’re not into many smelly spices. It was crazy. Meanwhile we were told categorically that we would have Nigerian food and Nigerian cooks. It was a blatant lie by the Indian HR director.
Also, no arrangement was made for our medical care. Those who fell ill had to treat themselves from their pockets. During the currency crisis, those who fell ill had to rely on the rest of us to put together our spare change to pay for their treatment. The company promised to refund medical expenses, but this shouldn’t have been the situation in the first place.
ME:Tell me about the training program. What was the course content and the experience like? Was it what you were expecting?
Mukhtar: The training itself was a mess too. We were supposed to be trained to operate the refinery (at the time, it was said that it will be completed by mid 2017), but we were sent to a design company. These (designing a refinery and operating it) are two very, very different things. The trainers did not want us there in the first place. It was not a part of their initial contract with Dangote. Plus, they didn’t know what to teach us because designers are not operators. They were confused, several times, they asked us what we wanted to learn. But we could not know what we wanted to learn cos we knew nothing about the entire business. In the end, they reluctantly settled for teaching us design (skills we were/are unlikely to use cos the refinery was already 90% designed).
ME:If you say that the refinery was “already 90% designed,” and you were learning design in India, that sounds like your presence was superfluous. Was the company really serious about sending you to learn skills to run a refinery?
Mukhtar: Indians will run the refinery. It will take many many many years before that refinery will be populated by just Nigerians. It was strictly PR. Anyways, the training with that design company was suddenly terminated on December 31st. Apparently, Dangote had not paid them a dime for all the months were were being taught design. They didn’t want to send us back to Nigeria so they moved us to the Dangote office in India. The office housed the Indian engineers (around 150 – 200 in number) who were supervising the design work being done by the design company. Now, it is interesting that these guys were working and earning as expatriates within their own country.
But realising that the “training” was a blunder, the company sent back some engineers to train in an actual refinery. So what was supposed to be a 1 year training became 2 years.
ME:Since returning to Nigeria, is there anything else you have noticed about the project that worries or disturbs you?
Mukhtar: Yes. So we have only the refinery at the FTZ, but the company gets to import things meant for other branches of the company duty-free. As a matter of fact, with the Dangote jetty in place and a customs office right there, the company no longer needs to clear stuff at Apapa. Dangote empire effectively has its own customs and port, because we cannot assume that the custom officers stationed at Dangote’s jetty/FTZ are extremely meticulous in checking what comes in and goes out. Personally, I find this disturbing. No non-military entity should be able to import stuff that easily into any country. This is bigger than just skipping custom duty payment.
Between bank staff being fired at 10.30PM and refinery site labourers being killed by workplace accidents without accountability, the sheer grimness of the picture facing Nigerian workers comes into stark relief. It is afterall, an employer’s market, with several thousand qualified people jostling for every job opening, which creates the possibility and incentive to treat staff like battery animals.
Whether the Labour Ministry is willing or able to do anything about such blatant labour exploitation is anybody’s guess. Nigeria’s government is increasingly weak and unable to impose its will on the country even territorially. In the event that the government did take interest, there is a valid fear that it would go to the other extreme and adopt a lazy anti-business Hugo Chavez approach, as it so often does. The real solution if there is to be one, must come from Nigerian labour having a stronger bargaining position through an improved economy. Anything else as it stands, is little more than a sticking plaster.
As Mukhtar mentioned, even inside the ridiculous situation of being financially stranded in a foreign country at the behest of an irresponsible and insincere Nigerian corporate, the vast majority of the group chose to suffer in silence. They did so because spending a year abroad learning useless information, suffering deprivation and experiencing diarrhea after being forced to eat unfamiliar food was still preferable to whatever alternative was at home.
Ultimately, that is the biggest problem facing Nigerian labour.
An 18-year-old girl, Amaka Nweke, has reportedly been beaten to death by her parents for dating a Muslim Yoruba boy and having a baby for him in Lagos.
According to The New Telegraph, she was allegedly beaten to death by her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Mike Nweke, for dating and having a baby for a Muslim Yoruba boy in Agility, Mile 2 in Lagos.
The Lagos State Police Command has said it is waiting for medical report to ascertain the cause of her death, although, angry residents of Agility, Mile 12 claim her parents repeatedly subjected Amaka to torture, including starving her during pregnancy.
Amaka and her boyfriend, Ibrahim Lawal, were said to have met when she was in Senior Secondary School. The relationship later resulted into pregnancy, which her parents kicked against. She later delivered a baby boy, christened Zaeed.
Her friends claim Amaka went through hell while pregnant for defying her parents.
One of the Nwekes’ neighbours, Adebola, said;
“Amaka went through a lot. She really suffered. When they were dating, her parents were always threatening her.
They told her that they didn’t want her to continue associating with the boy. They used to beat her with different objects even while she was pregnant. Whenever her boyfriend brought food to her, they would not allow her to have access to it.”
When Amaka was delivered of her baby, her parents couldn’t afford the medical bill. They had to call on Ibrahim’s family and they gladly paid up.
After she was released from the hospital, her parents tried to prevent the boy’s family from naming their grandchild. But it took the intervention of the Chairman of the Community Development Association (CDA) and some elders in the area before the Nwekes released the baby to them.
Ibrahim’s mother, Ebunola, said that she reported the repeated beatings to the police. She said:
“When my son impregnated Amaka, I didn’t reject the pregnancy.
I was already used to seeing them together. On January 1, 2020, she called Ibrahim that her mother had started beating her again for collecting clothes and money from us. .
It was during the beating that she became unconscious and later confirmed death at the #Gbagada General Hospital.”