Christchurch mosque attacks: Gunman pleads guilty to murder, attempted murder and terrorism | Stuff.co.nz

The man accused of the Christchurch mosque attacks has entered shock guilty pleas, bringing relief to survivors and victims’ families.

Amid extraordinary coronavirus lockdown restrictions, Brenton Tarrant, 29, appeared via video-link in the High Court at Christchurch on Thursday morning and admitted 51 charges of murder, 40 charges of attempted murder and a charge of engaging in a terrorist act.

He’d previously pleaded not guilty to all the charges and was scheduled to stand trial on June 2.

GEORGE HEARD/STUFF
Fifty-one people died as a result of the March 15, 2019 attack.

Tarrant, who wore a grey prisoner sweater, was largely silent and emotionless throughout the hearing. He sat alone in a white room with a grey door at Auckland Prison, Paremoremo, where he’s held in maximum security.

The terrorist’s lawyers, Shane Tait and Jonathan Hudson, appeared via video-link from another court room.

Brenton Tarrant pleads guilty to murder, attempted murder and terrorism via AVL in the Christchurch High Court.

The names of all 51 people killed were read to Tarrant, before he was asked how he pleaded to the murder charges.

He replied: “Yes, guilty.”

The same process was followed for the attempted murder charges.

JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/STUFF
Terrorist Brenton Tarrant pictured at his first court appearance, the day after the mosque shootings.

Justice Cameron Mander remanded Tarrant in custody, but has not yet set a date for sentencing, when the summary of facts would be made public.

Few people knew of the special hearing, which was only scheduled late Wednesday, on the eve of an unprecedented nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus.

Six New Zealand journalists attended. Also in court were the imams from both targeted mosques. An-nur (Al Noor) imam Gamal Fouda was visibly upset as the guilty pleas were entered.

JOSEPH JOHNSON/STUFF
Mustafa Boztas still has a fragment of a bullet inside him.

The hearing concluded at 10.30am, but the judge suppressed the outcome for an hour to allow victims, who were unaware of the hearing, to be notified.

The decision to hold the hearing amid the national state of emergency was not made lightly.

Earlier in the week Tarrant indicated to counsel that he might change his pleas. A formal request was made on Wednesday that the matter be brought before the court.

DAVID WALKER/STUFF
Omar Abdel-Ghany, whose father Ahmed Gamal Eldin Abdel-Ghany was killed at Masjid An-Nur.

Mander said both the Crown and defence asked to have the hearing expedited, despite the severe health restrictions.

The courts were considered an essential public service that was able to deal with “priority proceedings without compromising people’s health”.

The judge said he felt the court had the capacity to safely hear the matter by limiting the number of people in court. In total, 17 people were present.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern reflects on the last year following the Christchurch mosque shootings.

It was regrettable the Covid-19 restrictions prevented victims from attending, he said, but the imams had been asked to be present to bear witness to the proceedings.

“It was my assessment that taking the defendant’s pleas at this time was the appropriate course in the circumstances,” Mander said.

“The entry of guilty pleas represents a very significant step towards bringing finality to this criminal proceeding, and I considered the need to take the opportunity to progress the matter was particularly acute coming as it has at a time when the risk of further delay as a result of Covid-19 was looming as realistic possibility.”

Mander said the defendant would not be sentenced before the court returned to normal operations.

The defendant had been remanded to a nominal date of May 1. It was hoped a sentencing date would be confirmed in the interim.

“It is fully anticipated that all who wish to attend court for the sentencing hearing will be able to do so in person.”  

On March 15 last year, Tarrant drove from his Dunedin home to Christchurch with an arsenal of guns and ammunition he’d amassed since moving from Australia to New Zealand in 2017.

The white supremacist entered Masjid An-nur (also known as the Al Noor Mosque) on Deans Ave as Friday prayers were beginning, about 1.40pm, and opened fire – killing and wounding dozens of people.

He then drove across town to the Linwood Mosque where he continued his shooting spree.

Tarrant was arrested a short time later after his car, a gold Subaru Outback, was rammed off the road by two police officers on Brougham St as he tried to make his way to a third target, though to be a mosque in Ashburton, where he planned to carry out another attack.

When police searched the vehicle they found several guns and petrol bombs.

NZ’S WORST MASS SHOOTING

In total, 51 people were killed in the terrorist attack, the worst mass shooting by an individual in New Zealand history.

Tarrant was the first person to be charged under NZ’s Terrorism Suppression Act 2002.

Omar Abdel-Ghany, whose father Ahmed Gamal Eldin Abdel-Ghany was killed at Masjid An-Nur, said he could not understand what caused Tarrant to change his plea.

“I’m both shocked and relieved. Shocked at the sudden change in plea, relieved that my family and I, along with other victims won’t have to relive it all through the courts.”

Muslim Association of Canterbury spokesman Tony Green said his immediate reaction was one of enormous relief and great gratitude.

“I think the victims will feel a huge weight has been lifted from their shoulders. Our position has always been to let justice take its course, but a trial would have put a lot of pressure on our families. If you look at the anguish caused by the trial of Grace Millane’s killer you can see how bad it would be for 51 families.”

Mustafa Boztas, who lay on the ground inside the Masjid An-nur with a bullet in his leg, pretending to be dead, said from Turkey he always knew Tarrant would be found guilty. 

“I feel he basically played with our minds and emotionally upset us more for no reason.”

Boztas said he would have stayed in the country instead of going overseas if he’d known Tarrant was going to plead guilty. 

“While it can’t undo the damage it has brought upon our community and country, it gives me hope that this help bring not only justice but some closure to those touched by this event.

“To the families, I hope this brings you peace, and a sense that love can conquer hate. While this closes the criminal proceedings for the shootings, please know there is still a long way to go in recovery for some of us, so thank you for your continued support.”

Yasir Amin, whose father 67-year-old Muhammad Amin Nasir was shot in the back by the gunman shooting from his car, said the guilty pleas were good news.

“It’s good to avoid a trial because we would be reminded of everything, every day of the six week trial. We’ve avoided that mental torture and we’re not in a situation where the outcome is not 100 per cent sure.”

Nasir was to undergo another operation on Monday but the operation was postponed due to Covid-19 measures. He had spent two months in hospital after the shootings and had another 20-day stay in December.

“He is now doing well. He goes for walks and eats well.”

Just about every organ in his father’s body except his heart had been damaged by the shotgun pellets, Amin said.

Nasir was shot about 200 metres from the mosque on Deans Ave. The gunman drove past Amin and his father, who were walking to the mosque along the footpath, when he aimed a shotgun at them from his car. Both ran for their lives but Nasir was shot. Their plight was captured by a motel CCTV camera. 

‘HE’S GOT TO PAY THE TIME’

Tarrant’s grandmother, Marie Fitzgerald, had no idea about the plea until called by Stuff.

“I feel sorry he did the crime, but he’s got to pay the time now.”

She declined to comment further.

Victim Support chief executive Kevin Tso said support was ongoing for hundreds of victims who still need help coping with the trauma of the event and rebuilding their lives.

“We’re pleased victims no longer have to face the trauma of the trial.”

The victims had shown remarkable courage and resilience in the face of a heart-breaking, shocking and senseless tragedy, Tso said.

“They have our utmost respect and promise that we will be here for them for as long as they need us.”

Police Commissioner Mike Bush said the pleas were a “significant milestone in respect of one of our darkest days”.

“I want to acknowledge the victims, their families and the community of Christchurch – the many lives that were changed forever. They have inspired all of us to be a kind and more tolerant community.”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it would provide some relief to the many people whose lives were “shattered” on March 15.

“These guilty pleas and conviction bring accountability for what happened and also save the families who lost loved ones, those who were injured, and other witnesses, the ordeal of a trial,” she said.

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Stephen King quits Facebook over false claims in political ads | Books | The Guardian

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Stephen King has quit Facebook, saying that he is not comfortable with the “flood of false information allowed in its political advertising”.

The bestselling horror novelist, a prolific user of social media, also said he was not “confident in [Facebook’s] ability to protect its users’ privacy”. King made the announcement on Twitter, where he has 5.6m followers. His Facebook page has been deleted.

The social network has faced backlash over its decision not to factcheck political ads, with chief executive Mark Zuckerberg arguing that “political speech is important” and should not be censored. Facebook said last month that while it had considered limiting the targeting of political ads, it felt that “people should be able to hear from those who wish to lead them, warts and all, and that what they say should be scrutinised and debated in public”.

Last October, the company came under fire for airing a 30-second video from the Trump campaign that falsely claimed that Joe Biden “promised Ukraine a billion dollars if they fired the prosecutor investigating his son’s company”. CNN declined to run the ad, saying that it “makes assertions that have been proven demonstrably false by various news outlets”. When the Biden campaign complained about the ad, Facebook invoked its “fundamental belief in free expression, respect for the democratic process, and belief that, in mature democracies with a free press, political speech is already arguably the most scrutinised speech there is”.

Writing for the New York Times last week, the billionaire philanthropist George Soros said: “I believe that Mr Trump and Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, realise that their interests are aligned – the president’s in winning elections, Mr Zuckerberg’s in making money.” Facebook, Soros wrote, “follow[s] only one guiding principle: maximise profits irrespective of the consequences”.

Twitter, where King made his announcement, has banned all political advertising. King has long used the site as a way to air his political opinions, most recently using it to announce his support for Elizabeth Warren. “I’ll support and work for any Democrat who wins the nomination, but I’m pulling for Elizabeth Warren,” he wrote. “I’d love to see her open a large can of whup-ass on Trump in the debates.”

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In the ground and off the page: why we’re banning ads from fossil fuels extractors | Membership | The Guardian

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In a bid to reduce our carbon footprint, confront greenwashing and increase our focus on the climate crisis, the Guardian this week announced it will no longer run ads from fossil fuel extractors alongside any of its content in print or online. The move will come into immediate effect, and follows the announcement in October last year that we intend to reduce our net emissions to zero by 2030.

Once upon a time, a newspaper was a rather straightforward business. You generated enough material of interest to attract a significant number of readers. You then ‘sold’ those readers to advertisers happy to pay to get their ideas, products or brands in front of consumers with cash to spend.

Of course, digital disruption over the past 20 years has upended that model, but advertising remains an important part of the media business ecosystem. At the Guardian, it is still responsible for about two-fifths of our income.

But what happens when the readers don’t like the adverts? What do you do when the message that advertisers want to spread jars awkwardly with the work your journalists are doing?

What if your journalists are some of the best in the world at revealing and investigating the deepening climate catastrophe and the disaster that is fossil fuel growth, while some of your advertisers are the very people digging the stuff out of the ground?

This contradiction has bothered us – and some of you – for some time. We came up with a rather bold answer this week: turn away the money and double down on the journalism.

“It’s something we thought about for a long time,” says Anna Bateson, the interim chief executive officer of Guardian Media Group, the Guardian’s parent company. “We always felt it was in line with our editorial values but were cautious for commercial reasons.”

She said it was the logical next step after the Guardian committed last year to becoming carbon neutral by 2030 and was certified as a B Corp – a company that puts purpose before profit. But she added that the move had to be weighed carefully, given the fact that the Guardian only recently returned to breakeven after years in the red.

“You have to be careful you are not making cavalier decisions,” she said. “ We are still having to fight for our financial future. But because of the support we get from our readers, it is less of a risk.”

On the advertising side of our business, Adam Foley said there were no complaints at all that potential customers were suddenly off-limits, adding that staff felt that “being part of a company that shares their values” was the biggest motivation for his teams.

“A statement like this reaffirms to all of us that we’re contributing to a business that really lives those values – to the extent where it is prepared to sacrifice profit for purpose.”

The response from the wider world has been a pleasant surprise. Hundreds of you have written in, pledging your support, and in some cases, one-off contributions to start making up the shortfall. (EDS: See below – I’m going to append the best responses below. In print you can use as the panel)

The environmental movement was instantly appreciative, with activists quickly urging our peers to follow suit. “The Guardian will no longer accept advertising from oil and gas companies,” Greta Thunberg tweeted. “A good start, who will take this further?” Greenpeace called it “a huge moment in the battle against oil and gas for all of us.”

Some readers have been calling for the Guardian to go the whole hog and forsake advertising from any company with a substantial carbon footprint. Bateson said that was not realistic, adding that such a move would result in less money for journalism. She said the fossil fuel extractors were specifically targeted because of their efforts to skew the climate change debate through their lobbying effort.

“We are committed to advertising,” she said. “It will continue to be part of our future. We want advertisers who want to be appear alongside our high quality journalism.”

And how will we know if this has worked?
“We will listen to our readers, we will listen to our advertisers. The response so far has been gratifying. If we continue to hear positive noises from our readers and supporters, then it will have been a success.”




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Responses from our supporters

That is such a brilliant decision and it will be tough, but it is the correct one and I am very proud of The Guardian. Barbara Syer

Following the Guardian’s decision to ban ads from fossil fuel companies I’m making a monthly contribution to support its fearless journalism: reader support is essential for independent scrutiny of the powerful in business, finance and politics. Titus Alexander, Hertfordshire, England

I live at present in Canada, home to the Alberta Tar Sands: another name for ecological devastation resulting from fossil fuel extraction. I fully support The Guardian’s action in ceasing to be a vehicle for advertising by fossil fuel extractive companies, and I’m proud to be a supporter. My monthly donation is small, but when I can I will make it much greater. Rosemary Delnavine, Canada

Congratulations. At this time it may be a bold step, indeed, within this industry, but true leaders have to take bold steps for the betterment of the quality of life, and more importantly for the life of future generations. I applaud this decision, and will spread the word. Raphael Sulkovitz, Boston MA

What a bravery! This is what the life on earth needs, thank you. Karri Kuikka, Finland (EDS: please leave her wonderful Finglish intact!)

Keep it up. Here in Canada, we’re still trying to have it both ways — sell the product internationally but discourage buying domestically. As I recall, it was the same with tobacco. Eventually, it took a change in public opinion to solve the problem. As a news source, your efforts are part of this solution. Robert Shotton, Ottawa

I applaud your decision to”walk the talk.” I will therefore continue to contribute to The Guardian. Bob Wagenseil

Bravo yr decision to eschew $ from the FFI. Please do continue to hold to the fire(s) the feet of the deniers and the willfully ignorant. Sydney Alonso, Vermont, US

I am very happy to hear that good news. It’s quite courageous on your part, and I’m happy to support you! Have a great year ahead, you’ll have my continuous support! Julien Psomas

I completely support your plan to refuse ads from fossils, despite the
financial hit to the Guardian. I have made a donation to help out. David Thompson

A very commendable decision, very much in keeping with the Guardian’s position as leader of green issues to leave a better planet for following generations. Richard Vernon, Oxford

Yay! I’m so proud of the Guardian! We can no longer support or fund in any manner the fossil fuel industry if we have any chance of survival as a civilization on this planet. You’ve taken a courageous and moral step that will hopefully embolden others to join you. Good on you! Best, Carol Ross, Missouri, US

Good decision. I’ll support you as much as I can, which unfortunately is not much as I live on age pension only. Keep up the good work, we need it desperately! Ursula Brandt, South Australia

I am absolutely delighted by this decision. So many people pledge to do something about Climate Change, but few actually are willing to get uncomfortable and DO it. I am very proud of you as my favourite source of Information and this only makes a case for me to donate next time to you again. Christiane Gross

It was great reading what The Guardian is doing re the climate. As a Guardian on-line reader from The Netherlands I’m going to contribute monthly now instead of ‘now and again’. The amount will be relatively small as I do not have a great income. I really hope more of your supporters will do so, because it is really great what you are doing.
With kind regards, Aleida Oostendorp, Netherlands

I congratulate you and your team on taking this step regarding fossil fuel companies. The Guardian’s stance on the environment and its excellent coverage of related stories and events is the major reason for my support. Well done, and good luck in the future. Deirdre Moore

Love your new policy about accepting money from fossil fuels. Will contribute more to help make up for the shortfall. Todd Misk

I live on a fixed income with a strict budget so my continuing support of your excellent news organisation represents my commitment to the fight to address climate change. Every step counts. Barbara Hirsch, Texas, US

Only when we speak truth to power can change take place. thank yo for your courageous and expensive decision. Nancy Shepherd, Vermont, US

Love your journalism, especially your investigative work and the climate change topic. And with the bold statement about not receiving any more sponsorship from the fossil extracting companies? Well, the already great newspapers became even more impressive now. Keep up the good work. Miroslav Řezníček, Czech Republic

Thank you for taking the bold step of refusing advertising from fossil fuel extractive companies. I think it is the right thing to do & hope many more companies do the same. We must all work together if we want to save our planet. It is one of the most important issues of our times. Ginger Comstock, New York, US

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Details of Facebook, NCC meeting emerges – Daily Post Nigeria

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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).

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Police inspector allegedly beats widow to death in Akwa Ibom

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Police inspector allegedly beats widow to death in Akwa IbomBy Chioma Onuegbu

A police officer in Akwa Ibom state police command identified as Inspector Bassey Ikpe has allegedly beaten one widow, Mrs. Deborah Mkpenie to death over a civil matter based on inheritance rights.

An eyewitness and a tricycle rider Sunday Umoren told newsmen yesterday that the brutal murder of the widow and mother of three occurred last Thursday, Jan 16, 2020, following the invitation of late Mrs. Mkpenie by Bassey Ikpe who was the Police Investigation Officer (I.P.O) in the civil matter.

Umoren who brought the deceased to the Police Headquarters Ikot Akpan narrated how Ikpe attached to the State Criminal Investigation Department, (SCID) manhandled Mrs Mkpenie at the police premises.

He said, “The policeman approached my Keke which bore the woman, shouted at her that she was lying about her sickness. He made efforts to drag her out, in anger, he knocked her head several times by the side rail of the Keke. The woman was screaming that she is not well.

“She began to suffocate and found it difficult to breathe. The policeman kept insisting that she was lying that she was not feeling well. He even told her that, if she wanted to die, she should die. As the policeman kept trying to pull her out of the Keke, she was screaming until her voice grew faint.

“We even begged the policeman to refrain from his hostile act towards the woman. He even refused our taking her to hospital. It was after she breathed her last, that he eventually ordered that she should be taken to the hospital.”

Another eyewitness and sister to the deceased Mfonobong Peter corroborated Umoren’s explanation that Inspector Ikpe went wild that the deceased was lying about her state of health to escape being arraigned in court.

READ ALSO: Graphic: One shot dead, another injured as police disperse Shi’ites protest in Abuja

“My late sister was beaten to death by Inspector Bassey Peter Ikpe. He had threatened her repeatedly ever since this matter came up. My sister had waist pains arising from the dislocation she had while caring for the late husband. This made it difficult for her move about freely.

“She was also hypertensive due to the health complications that led to the husband’s death. But this policeman refused to take even the advice of the Deputy Commissioner of Police. I don’t know what interest he had on the matter.

“He had forced her to come to the police station, so that they could appear in court on a fictitious criminal charge, against the advice of the Deputy Commissioner of Police, the previous day. He beat my sister to death. I want Justice to be done”, she lamented.

She noted that when her late sister was rushed to the Police Clinic, the doctor confirmed she was already dead, adding “On returning to the police headquarters, we were denied entry into the premises by the police officers at the gate”.

However, it was gathered on Wednesday that Inspector was arrested on Tuesday January, 21 and detained pending completion of investigation into the murder case.

A human rights activist and Executive Director, Foundation for Civic Education, Human Rights and Development Advancement (FoCERaDA) Mr Clifford Thomas (Esq) described the action of Inspector Ikpe as highly condemnable.

Thomas who said the organisation petitioned the IGP,and CP when the matter was brought to her said “What this development means is that we still have police officers who needs further training in respect to observance and promotion of Human Rights.

” We are insisting on justice for the late widow because the action contravenes section 33 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended). However, the reaction of the Commissioner of Police in the state is commendable.

“He swung into action immediately he got the report and after enquiries got him (Ikpe) arrested yesterday (Tuesday) and detained him while investigation is ongoing”

Thomas added that their brief has it that Victor Nkereuwem Mkpenie, Mkpenie Nkereuwem Mkpenie, and Aniekan Nkereuwem Mkpenie, stepsons of the deceased reported a civil matter based on inheritance and sharing of properties of the late husband of the deceased to the said Inspector Bassey Peter Ikpe, who thereon tutored them to frame up a lame charge against the deceased.

“The charge never came up but the deceased had filed for the enforcement of her fundamental human rights following the repeated harassment she received from the Inspector Ikpe and her three stepsons. The trio had threatened that the deceased would die and the case discontinued.

“On Wednesday, January 15, 2020, the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of the SCIID , S. U Horsefall had warned Inspector Ikpe against his very obvious violation of police regulations and procedure and advised him to bring all the parties for interview on that fateful day to see if going to court would still be an option”

Several efforts by newsmen to get police reaction on the incident was abortive.

However, the Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Odiko MacDon, in a statement yesterday made available to newsmen said, “The attention of the Akwa Ibom State Police Command has been drawn to a publication in some dailies and online media that Police personnel attached to the Akwa Ibom State Police Command, one Inspr. Bassey Ikpe reportedly beat up one Mrs. Deborah Nkereuwem Mkpenie to death on Thursday, 16th of January, 2020.

“To authenticate this serious allegation, the Commissioner of Police, Akwa Ibom State Police Command, CP Imohimi Edgal has ordered the immediate arrest of the said Inspector.

“The Commissioner has instructed the Deputy Commissioner, State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) to carry out a thorough investigation into the matter, while reiterating the Command’s commitment to policing with great respect for human rights”.

The post Police inspector allegedly beats widow to death in Akwa Ibom appeared first on Vanguard News.

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Facebook hammered for Nigerian child trafficking adverts on its platform | P.M. News

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Cameroonian children who fled the fighting in their country’s English-speaking regions are taking refuge in Adagom community in south-central Nigeria, where some have been exploited by people looking to take advantage of their vulnerability. [Photograph: Philip Obaji Jr.]

By Philip Obaji Jr.

The Africans Unite Against Child Abuse, United Kingdom, and Centre for Children’s Health, Education, Orientation and Protection, Nigeria, have criticised Facebook following revelations that children, especially girls, were being trafficked from a refugee camp in Ogoja, Cross Rivers State, after being advertised for labour exploitation on the popular social networking platform.

The groups slammed Facebook for permitting child trafficking to take place on its service and also being slack to take action when such incidents happen.

In a joint statement, the non-profit organisations expressed dismay that it took Facebook 29 hours to suspend the account of the suspect, after investigative journalist, Philip Obaji Jr, had reported the account in contravention of the company’s policies of responding to enquiries within 24 hours.

The report revealed details of a named person, who had used his Facebook page to advertise photos of Cameroonian girls fleeing the ongoing conflict in Southern Cameroon’s Anglophone region.

This conflict has so far displaced millions of people with several thousand staying in refugee camps across Southern Nigeria.

The NGOs were exceptionally concerned that despite this case being reported to Facebook, it took the online platform hours to take action, thereby putting the victims at further risk of harm.

In one of the Facebook posts cited, the person had uploaded an image of a girl he claimed was “intelligent, hardworking and about 17,” and asked persons “interested in hiring her as a maid to inbox me.”

The organisations recalled that this would not be the first time Facebook would be accused of enabling child trafficking on its platforms.

“In 2018, Facebook was severely criticised by NGOs in South Sudan and across the world that its site had been used for the auctioning of a child bride in the country.

“Human trafficking is a growing global problem with over 40 million people at risk, according to the International Labour Organisation.

“Nigeria is known as a source, transit and destination country for human trafficking victims with over one million trafficked each year, according to the Global Slavery Index.

“Human trafficking and slavery is illegal in most countries around the world, including Nigeria,” the NGOs said.

Debbie Ariyo, Chief Executive Officer of UK-based AFRUCA, an anti-child trafficking organisation, said, “It is concerning that social media platforms are increasingly being used by human traffickers to facilitate the sale of human beings, with little being done to address this. Social media platforms have become the 21st century slave markets. This has to stop.”

Betty Abah, Executive Director of CEE-HOPE Nigeria, stated that it appears Facebook has a discriminatory approach to addressing crimes against vulnerable children in Africa than other more advanced parts of the world.

“I do not believe Facebook would have failed to act if this was happening in a European country,” she added.

Both organisations urged the relevant government agencies in Nigeria to act to secure the well-being of refugee children in the country, and investigate the child trafficking allegations to ensure all perpetrators are brought to book.

They also called on Facebook to investigate the case as well as tighten its safeguard mechanisms to ensure that crimes such as human trafficking are completely eradicated on its platforms.

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Apostle Who Predicted Pastor Adeboye’s Death Reveals Fresh Prophecy On Buhari

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President Muhammadu Buhari

Apostle Paul Okikijesu of the Christ Apostolic Miracle Ministry has revealed what God told him about President Muhammadu Buhari.

In a series of 2020 prophecy he released to DAILY POST on Saturday, he said God has asked Buhari not to rely solely on his wisdom.

He said Buhari must have a meeting with religious leaders, including his religious advisers in order for his government to be meaningful.

He said, “Thus says the Lord: Tell the President of this country to seek advice from those that I established as my ambassador and representatives that are telling the truth, and not the gluttons.

“The gluttons did not allow Buhari to listen to the truth and he did not count Christianity as something valuable, because the acts/behaviors of Christian leaders are different from what he thought.

“He should think deeply concerning his administration because the messages which I sent to him, he carried out some of my instructions and left the rest, that was the reason that his tenure was in this precarious state.

“Send these messages to him the third time that I want the fear of I the Lord in the heart of this man, and he should not see himself as the president. He should realize that God alone is the President of the world.

“Thus says the Lord: I have sent these messages to him in the past to give these three arms of the government the power to work effectively.

“These arms of the government are the executive, the judiciary and the law enforcement.

“This judicial arm includes the human rights advocates and I instructed him to give them free hand to operate; these are the things which I requested from him, and this is what can make his regime to be meaningful.

“I send this message to him the second time that he should invite the ex-presidents, and he must not commonize anyone if he wants his government to be peaceful.

“According to My previous messages, he complied partly but not fully. I instructed him to invite and have meeting with the banking sector, stock exchange sector, the oil and gas sector and the foreign exchange sector for the growth of the nation.

“He should then present the outcome of the meetings to the spiritual people for advice.

Thus says the Lord; remember that those I installed as rulers during the ancient period did not use only their wisdom, but they asked for direction from I the Lord.

“It is when he calls these people that his regime will be meaningful and he will have a successful tenure. If he uses power to do things, some people will be sabotaging his government.

“The executive that I said are the ex-presidents, he should call them and have meeting with them; then get the opinions/advice of the people in his administration separately.

“It is the wisdom derived from these meetings that will cause growth/development in Nigeria. He must have meeting with the business community including the expatriates, these are the steps that will make the economy of Nigeria to rise and grow.

“He should have meeting with ex-ministers, ex-senators, ex-presidents, and ex-governors, the outcome of the meeting will have positive effect on the economy and restore the economy to a buoyant position.

“He should have a meeting with judicial personnel, including the attorney general to find way that will make the law of the country to be effective.

“If Buhari can take these steps and have meeting with religious leaders, including his religious advisers, his government will be meaningful for good.

“Thus says the Lord; Buhari should have meeting with ex-party leaders and the current party leaders concerning the issues of Nigeria and how she can progress.

“These steps are the things that can make him to be successful and prolong his life, so that I will halt the judgment hand that I intend to use in year 2020.”

In his last prophecy, Okikijesu had declared that God told him that Pastor Enoch Adeboye of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG; Pastor W.F Kumuyi of Deeper Life Bible Church and Bishop Oyedepo of the Living Faith Church, will die soon and would not make heaven. 

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Review: Marlins Brewhouse: The most interesting restaurant in Estero

Fort Myers restaurant reviews: The most interesting restaurant in Estero? Marlins Brewhouse


Jean Le Boeuf


JLEBOEUF@NEWS-PRESS.COM
Published 11:00 AM EST Jan 16, 2020

The bowl of ramen came on the same tray as my IPA. 

Painted in a dainty teal print, the bowl cradled a trove of add-ins, from the traditional (wavy wheat noodles, herbs, soft-boiled eggs, glistening hunks of chashu pork belly) to the wholly untraditional (braised collard greens, fat chicken wings).

A French press, the kind used for morning coffee, sat next to the dish, filled with a murky, mahogany-hued broth. Our server pushed the plunger, pressing the aromatic bits of onion and garlic to the bottom, clear of the spout. He poured the broth into my bowl, set my IPA at its side, then went back to his beer-toting duties, leaving me slack-jawed and frozen in awe. 

What the how?!

The French Pressed Ramen ($14) is a shockingly delicious stunner from Marlins Brewhouse in Estero. This fusion take is loaded with braised collards, noodles, soft-boiled eggs, chashu and four chewy-crisp chicken wings. It’s finished with a murky, rich broth that’s pressed and poured table-side. It’s possibly the last thing you’d expect from a taproom.
Special to The News-Press

I’d been to Marlins Brewhouse before. The original one in south Fort Myers and this new, 2-month-old one in Estero’s University Village south of FGCU. I’d eaten at the adjoining Caliburger. I’d snacked on massive, salt-strewn pretzels with pints of Palm City San Carlos Proper, watching the cars go by on Ben Hill Griffin Parkway. 

But a fusion take on ramen, served table-side, that looked as stunningly good as this one?

I repeat: What the how?!

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It wasn’t just a pretty bowl of soup. It was a masterful one: the noodles lithe and springy, the sunny egg and soulful broth, the complex spice of the collards, the chashu pork with its tantalizingly wobbly chew. 

Two bites in, I grabbed the Marlins menu and pored over it with forensic precision. Dishes I’d overlooked before jumped out now, one after the next: a cauliflower Caesar salad with tapenade and Parmesan crisps; a hot pot loaded with diver scallops, Gulf shrimp and Antarctic salmon in buttered dashi; thick-cut, fried-to-order potato chips dusted in house barbecue seasoning. 

Marlins’ Wild Fried Shrimp Platter ($17) includes fried Gulf shrimp and pickles, a loaded twice-baked potato, braised collards and a duet of dipping sauces.
Special to The News-Press

I’d been going about this taproom all wrong. Marlins Brewhouse might be the most interesting new restaurant in Estero. 

And all the credit goes to executive chef Noel Willhite (with a nod to Marlins’ owners Tim Frederic and Jeff Burns, who had the smarts to hire him). 

Willhite got his start locally as the garde manger at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point. His resume includes stints at the former Spago in Chicago and Las Vegas’s Tao — which explains his love for ramen and hot pot, and his knack for the tomato sauces that underlie some of Marlins other great dishes. 

Like its bistro steak frites. 

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Willhite takes a 10-ounce hangar steak, sears it till juicy, then teams it with charred cauliflower florets and thinly shaved pommes frites atop a tomato-cream sauce deepened by a touch of sherry. It is steak frites as I’ve never known steak frites. And yet, I loved it. Almost as much as I loved Willhite’s blue-cheese laced Buffalo chicken dip, his pimiento-cheese pretzel bones, his behemoth tray of beer-battered Gulf shrimp and pickles.

The bistro steak frites ($22) from Marlins includes a 10-ounce hangar steak, charred florets of cauliflower, and thinly shaved pommes frites atop a sherry-tomato cream sauce.
Special to The News-Press

This Deep South mashup was brilliant: the curls of shrimp, pink and briny-sweet; the pickles, tangy, bright, almost palate-cleansing. There were more collards, still spicy, still tender. Plus a twice-baked potato and two cups of house-crafted dipping sauces. It was an actual smorgasbord. All for $17. 

The true genius of Willhite’s Marlins work is its accessibility. It is, in essence, elevated beer food sold at beer-friendly prices. It’s food that tastes good with fruity daiquiris and honey-tinged hefeweizens. It’s food that begs to be shared. 

It’s food that’s fun.

Even when the server spilled a quarter of my beer across the table, giggled, then walked off one night. Even when I was left waiting (and. waiting.) for the check another. 

The fun of this menu overrides things like that. And really, how often do I get to call a place fun? Fancy restaurants are a dime a dozen, as are tasty dishes and classically trained chefs. But fun — as in taproom-french-pressed-chicken-wing-ramen fun — is rare.

Unless you’re at Marlins Brewhouse. 

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MORE: I am proud to be Jean Le Boeuf (I just can’t tell you who I am)

Jean Le Boeuf is the pseudonym used by a local food lover who dines at restaurants anonymously and without warning, with meals paid for by The News-Press and Naples Daily News. Follow the critic at facebook.com/jeanleboeufswfl or @JeanLeBoeuf on Twitter and Instagram.

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Marlins Brewhouse Estero

University Village, 19800 Village Center Drive No. 235, Estero

JLB’s stars AREN’T like Yelp stars, here’s why… 

• Call: 239-790-6573

• Web: facebook.com/marlinsbrewuniversityvillage

• Hours: 11 a.m.-midnight Sunday to Tuesday, 11 a.m.-12:30 a.m. Wednesday, 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Thursday to Saturday

• Noise level: Conversationally loud to just plain loud

• Etc.: Full bar, outdoor seating, live music on weekends

• Everything pretzel, $11

• Pineapple-salmon lettuce wraps, $12

• Lobster shrimp mac, $15

• Bistro steak frites, $22

What the symbols mean

★ – Fair

$ – Average entree is under $10

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Facebook Accelerator Startups in Nigeria raises over $500,000 in investments – The Eagle Online

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Startups participating in the second season of the Facebook Accelerator Programme have recorded significant achievements, including raising over $500,000 in committed investments and grants in just three months (halfway through the programme).
Within the same period, they have also made significant product pivots, sealed key partnerships and made progress towards creating unique products with world-class business processes.
These results were recently revealed by Facebook and CcHUB, following its 2019 programmes and training, which took place to support and empower students and entrepreneurs to build locally relevant solutions using advanced technologies at NG_Hub, Facebook’s flagship Community Hub space in partnership with CcHUB.
So far in the programme, the startups have been introduced to multiple venture capitalists and corporate executives and also matched with advisors within the CcHUB Global Advisory network.
These advisors include c-suite executives and experts from companies like Dell, Oracle, IHS Towers, Stanbic IBTC, Cellulant, Old Mutual, Axa Mansard, among others.
Six of the startups contributed to the $500,000 total raised so far, with highlights including:
Chekkit, the only African company to be accepted into a global accelerator, cementing a key partnership for their organisation. They also sealed a partnership with the Fantom foundation for their blockchain product and received a grant from Umdasch Challenge at World Summit Awards 2020.
Haulr emerged second place in the recently concluded Zenith Bank’s hackathon securing N6 million.
Simbi interactives sealed key partnerships and have so far received $35,000+ in investments and grants.
Student team, Vinsighte has completed its prototype that reads books to the visually impaired using computer vision.
AirSynq, completed its balloon satellite prototype and has enterprise clients on the waiting list for its product launch in February.
Gradely launched the beta version of its product, and received its first set of customers, whilst increasing the number of schools they are present in by 200 per cent.
These startups and many more will be showcasing their products and solutions aimed at tackling problems across multiple sectors to corporate executives, multinationals and other potential partners during the annual Facebook Accelerator Programme Innovation Showcase week in February 2020.
Speaking on the development, Adaora Ikenze, Head of Public Policy for Anglophone West Africa at Facebook, said: “The numbers speak for themselves, and further reinforces that the work and investments we are undertaking here in Nigeria are having real impact. At Facebook, we are passionate about helping developers and entrepreneurs to grow. We believe in empowering small businesses through our platforms to help more people launch and grow their businesses, which translates to real impact for their communities and local economies.”
Also speaking, Bosun Tijani, Chief Executive Officer, CcHUB, said: “This is yet another extremely brilliant cohort of startups from the Facebook acceleration programme which we are deeply proud of. This goes to further highlight the readiness of innovators across Africa to leapfrog development on the continent with technological innovation. We are delighted to be part of this journey with Facebook in its desire to inspire African entrepreneurs to be among the best in the world.”
With three months remaining, the cohort of season two of the Facebook Accelerator Programme will be undertaking workshop sessions, faculty one-on-ones, growth planning, Industry Advisor Sessions and mock pitches, rounded off with a demo day in April, the end of the programme.
For more information on the Facebook Accelerator Programme Innovation Showcase, visit www.bit.ly/isw-2020.

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Facebook Appoints Derya Matraş as Regional Director For Africa

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Social media giant, Facebook has appointed Derya Matraş as its Regional Director for the Africa, Middle East and Turkey.

This new appointment comes quite early in 2020 and according to Facebook, Derya will be charged with leading the platform to serve Facebook’s businesses and communities in the region.

@Facebook Middle East has just appointed their new Regional Director, Derya Matras. https://t.co/WYYL0Gjh8E

— CommunicateOnline (@CommunicateME)

This is because the regions, Middle East, Africa and Turkey, are an important market for Facebook and it is important that the company’s impact on the region increases.

The fast-growing Middle East, Africa and Turkey region is an important market for Facebook. Derya’s wealth of experience in emerging markets and her pioneering spirit will help us further drive impact and value in this uniquely diverse region, while maintaining our mission of bringing people together and building communities.

Derya holds a BsC in Electronics Engineering from Bogazici University, Instanbul, Turkey as well as an MBA from Columbia Business School. Prior to this recent appointment, Derya was the Country Director for Facebook in Turkey charged with the role of driving growth for brands, agencies and the digital ecosystem.

Facebook Appoints Derya Matraş as Regional Director For Africa, Middle East and Turkey
Derya Matraş, the New Regional Director for Facebook

Before Facebook, she has worked in executive roles at various companies. One of them is McKinsey and Company where she served as an management consultant. She was also vice president of the largest media conglomerate in Turkey, Dogan Media Group.

She’s expected to bring her wealth of experience to her new role as Regional Director where she will lead the company’s charge to grow its economic and social impact across the regions.

Speaking on her appointment, Derya Matraş reiterated Facebook’s commitment to supporting the millions of businesses in the region that rely on its services.

“As a woman leader, I am very proud to be appointed to this region where diversity is of crucial importance, and I am looking forward to continuing to drive our significant economic and social value contribution,” she says.

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