South Africans Loot Nigerian Businesses In Fresh Xenophobic Attack

The Nigerian Community in South Africa have confirmed attacks and looting of Nigerian-owned businesses in Pretoria West on Saturday.

Mr Ikechukwu Anyene, President, Nigeria Union, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on telephone from Pretoria, South Africa, that the attacks began at 4.00 a.m.

He said that the union had reported the incident to the Nigeria mission and South African police.

“As we speak, five buildings with Nigerian businesses, including a church have been looted and burned by South Africans.

“One of the buildings is a mechanic garage with 28 cars under repairs, with other vital documents, were burned during the attack.

“Also, the pastor of the church was wounded and is in the hospital receiving treatment,” he said.

Anyene said the union had informed Nigerians in South Africa to be vigilant in the face of renewed xenophobic attacks.

According to him, the union received information that there will be xenophobic attacks against foreigners on Feb. 22 and Feb. 23.

“We began taking precautionary measures when the incident took place today.

“The attack in Pretoria West is purely xenophobic and criminal because they loot the shops and homes before burning them,” he said.

Anyene called on the Federal Government to persuade its South African counterpart to protect Nigerians in their country.

“These attacks should not be allowed to continue because it is a big setback,” he said.

Trump May Be Impeached If… Prof. Dokubo

By Abdulrosheed Okiki

An International Affairs Expert, Prof. Charles Dokubo has predicted that the United States President, Donald Trump may be impeached unless he changes his approaches to American ideals.

He spoke at roundtable organised by the Department of Political Science, University of Ilorin on contemporary Nigeria-US relations, saying that President Trump must change if he must last three years in office.

Prof. Dokubo who is of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Lagos said American is blessed with strong institutions which could condition American leaders to respect the norms.

The Don urged the United States President to understand that election rhetorics do not translate to realities, hoping that the American system would calm the President down in taking decisions that could harm the country.

Prof. Trump whose presentation entitled: “The Phenomenon of Donald Trump in America” recalled that the President ability to work on the sensibility of Americans on immigration issue earned him victory during the poll.

He maintained that mutuality of interest would enable the US to work with Nigeria, noting that President Trump would work with Nigeria despite his election rhetorics.

Prof. Dokubo charged African leaders to put their houses in order through provision of critical infrastructure to reduce the trend of seeking greener pastures abroad.

Also speaking, Prof. Hassan Saliu of Political Science Department, University of Ilorin said whatever President Donald Trump does in Nigeria-US relations would amount to affirmation of US long time unfavourable relationship with Nigeria.

Prof. Saliu who spoke on “Why Nigeria has not benefited significantly from her relations with the USA called on Nigerian leaders to revitalise and restrategise on her relations with the US.

He also stressed the need for Nigeria to address its domestic challenges if it must command respect in the international community.

Prof. Saliu maintained that Nigeria’s Foreign Policy objectives are obsolete and called for robust research funding in fine-tuning the objectives with a view to making Nigeria takes it rightful position in the comity of nations.

In his remarks, the Chairman of the occasion and immediate past Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ilorin, Prof. Bisi Adedayo described the roundtable as academic ritual of the department in contributing to the development of the society.

Earlier in his address, the Acting Head of the Department, Dr. Abdulrasheed Muhammad had explained that the roundtable was organised to learn more about burning issues affecting Nigeria and Africa in the international community.

“Any Leader Tweeting Policy Is Ridiculous” – Trevor Noah

The Daily Show host Trevor Noah joined Talk To Al Jazeera on Saturday, one day after his autobiography, Born a Crime, won the Debut Author and Outstanding Biography/Autobiography prizes at the NAACP Image Awards.

Born in 1984 to a black mother and a white father in apartheid South Africa, at a time when interracial unions were still illegal, Noah began his life considered a crime by his own government. At 18, after South Africa’s transition to democracy, he starred in the popular Isidingo soap opera, then went on to host his own radio show, Noah’s Ark, on YFM, which he eventually quit to focus on comedy. After moving to the US in 2011, he became the first South African comedian to appear on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Late Show With David Letterman. In 2015, Jon Stewart handpicked him as his successor on The Daily Show, one of America’s top political satire programs.

Talk to Al Jazeera’s Dareen Abughaida started by asking about Noah’s recent comment relating current events in the US to what he has already lived through in his life. In response, the comedian expressed concern that a culture of segregation and oppression is brewing under President Donald Trump. “He is proud to put forth a white nationalist agenda that is becoming more and more something that a lot of Americans are excited about – but more Americans are not, which is the one beacon, the light you have to keep aiming towards.”

“It’s actually frightening to see how quickly you can repeat the ills of the past when enough people are afraid and hungry – and those are two things that if you combine them and use them in the right way you can get people to commit the most heinous crimes against each other,” he added.

When asked about Trump’s stated strategy to strengthen libel laws, Noah called it “a scary place to be in” but added, “The closer you get to censorship, the more comedy thrives. Freedom of speech is something that people pursue regardless of the laws. As human beings, we want to speak our minds, whether it’s whispered in back alleys or proclaimed from a pulpit. As human beings, we want to tell the truth about what we see. Dick Gregory… once said to me, ‘The truth is way funnier than any joke you can try to concoct.’ So essentially it doesn’t become harder, because as a comedian I just tell more of the truth.

Among other criticisms, he called Trump “somebody who is all about themselves,” adding, “Donald Trump spent the first day of Black History month speaking about himself and how well he has been doing and his contribution, as opposed to what the month is supposed to be about…”

He added, “People always say, ‘What would you have done if you were around when Hitler was coming up?’ And everyone has theories. Now we’re in a time when there is someone who is presenting the same rhetoric, who is discrediting democracy, who is saying there are imaginary voters and a rigged election. Where does that lead? The question I always ask myself is: If Donald Trump acts like this when he has won an election, how will he act when he loses an election?”

On the topic of whether the media has contributed to Trump’s rise through the free exposure they have given him, Noah said there was a distinct difference between unchallenged platforms and critiques of current affairs. “It’s one thing to have Donald Trump on TV saying something and criticize that, call him out and fact-check him, dispel myths,” he said. “It’s another thing to put his podium on TV for two hours before he comes out, an empty podium … what are you doing? You’re giving the man free promotion…  As a comedy show, your job is to look for the truth, find the laughter and speak truth to power. Donald Trump will always be somebody that The Daily Show is looking at, as long as he is involved in the realm of politics.”

Speaking about Trump’s fondness for Twitter, he said, “Trump today is having conversations on a platform where he genuinely shouldn’t be. Any leader who is tweeting policy is ridiculous.”

He also speaks about being the target of racist tweets. “That’s social media. I feel like if you’re on social media, you’ll be the target of racist tweets. I always tell people, ‘Man, I come from a country where racism meant teargas and dogs and rubber bullets.’ So someone saying something to me online is really the most timid form of racism I have come across in a long time.”

The Boy Who Started The Syrian War Tells His Story

“If we had known what would happen, we’d never have written that graffiti,” says Mouawiya Syasneh in The Boy Who Started The Syrian War, a recent Al Jazeera documentary that tells his story.

Mouawiya was 14 and in the seventh grade when he sprayed anti-government slogans on a school wall in Deraa in February 2011, never thinking his mischievous act of youthful defiance would spark a war that’s left over half a million dead.

“We saw what was happening in Egypt and Tunisia,” he tells Al Jazeera, referring to the Arab Spring. “So we got together at school, took some paint and sprayed the walls. We wrote on the school wall, ‘Your turn next, Doctor [Assad].’ A few days later the police saw what we’d written and rounded up the boys in the neighbourhood.”

Mouawiya’s three accomplices were arrested by the police, together with a dozen other suspects. Mouawiya was arrested at home at 4am and driven away in handcuffs. He was detained for 45 days and tortured. “The electric shock treatment was the worst,” he tells Al Jazeera. “They took me to the bathroom and it was really wet and they would turn on the shower. They ran the current through the water and onto my back. I felt the shock wherever the water went.”

When their fathers tried to find out what had become of the boys, they were told, “Forget those children; go home and make some more. If you can’t manage, send us your women and we’ll make more for you.”

Fearing for the boys’ safety after a month in police custody, thousands began taking to the streets demanding their return. When the peaceful protests were met with further violence, they spread. Soon this was no longer a protest over the arrest of some young boys; it had become an uprising.

“When I got out, I was surprised by all the protests,” says Mouawiya. “There were mass demonstrations.  It was chaos. We went and joined in when we saw what was happening. We were happy. I suppose we felt all this support was for us.  All these people were out on the street, for us.  But we didn’t know that a crackdown was coming.”

Mouawiya had dreamt of going to university. “I wanted to study business and economics,” he says. But his dreams were shattered by the war, especially after his father was killed in an airstrike in Deraa in 2013, plunging his family into poverty. “When he was killed, I felt lost in the world,” says Mouawiya.

He saw only one option open. “I felt I must take up arms and fight,” says Mouawiya. “It was a big moment in my life. I wanted to fight for the Free Syrian Army (FSA).

Just four weeks after joining the FSA, Mouawiya was shot and wounded in the leg. His best friend, Amaar, joined the FSA on the same day but was less fortunate, and is buried at the edge of town.

“I didn’t expect this to happen,” says Mouawiya. “No one expected this against civilians.  We didn’t expect all the destruction. Later on, we started to feel we’d messed up and made a huge mistake.”

US Judge Suspends Donald Trump’s Travel Ban

The travel ban on seven Muslim nations by US President, Donald Trump, has been reversed by a federal high court.

James Robart, a federal judge in Seattle, on Friday temporarily blocked Trump’s divisive immigration order from being enforced nationwide.

The judge stopped the 90-day suspension of entry into the United States placed on citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen and also the cutbacks on refugee acceptance.

The white house has vowed to fight the ruling by pursuing an emergency halt to the judge’s order.

“The president’s order is intended to protect the homeland and he has the constitutional authority and responsibility to protect the American people,” the white house said.

Trump has already taken to Twitter to call the ruling “ridiculous” while describing Robart as a “so-called judge.”

He said the judge’s decision “will be overturned.”

He tweeted: “When a country is no longer able to say who can, and who cannot , come in & out, especially for reasons of safety &.security – big trouble!

“The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!”

Meanwhile, the US state department has announced the reversal of the revocation of visas.

“We have reversed the provisional revocation of visas. Those individuals with visas that were not physically cancelled may now travel if the visa is otherwise valid,” a US state department spokesperson told AFP.

Beyonce Expecting A Set Of Twins

American pop queen, Beyoncé and her rap mogul husband, Jay Z, are expecting a set of twins the family have announced on the first day of Black History Month.

“We would like to share our love and happiness. We have been blessed two times over,” the 35-year-old singer wrote with photo of herself cradling her sizeable bump on Instagram on Wednesday.

“We are incredibly grateful that our family will be growing by two, and we thank you for your well wishes. – The Carters.”

 

Nothing is said about expected date of delivery.

The couple – who wed in 2008 – already share daughter Blue Ivy, 5.

Queen Bey broke the news of her first pregnancy during the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards by revealing her bump while performing one of her many hit songs.

With the announcement that the music royalty expecting an addition, social media went straight into overdrive.

African Leaders Back Move To Withdraw From ICC

African Leaders under the aegis of the African Union (AU) have backed a strategic plan to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Their decision is based on their conclusion that the court seems to target only African countries.

According to Reuters (quoting an anonymous AU official), their support for the withdrawal however came with an unspecified reservation.

“The leaders of AU member states endorsed the strategy of collective withdrawal, with reservations,” the AU official, who asked not be identified, told Reuters.

Details of the reservation were not given but the summit of heads of states highlighted that the ICC unfairly targets African nations.

According to a document, the AU summit had proposed a co-ordinated withdrawal unless the ICC was reformed.

It also called for Part of the reforms it expected to see in the ICC was “regionalization” of international law, a reference to proposals for an African war crimes court.

Almost a third of the ICC’s 124 members are African, and a withdrawal by a large number of them would cripple a court that has yet to fulfil hopes that it would ensure perpetrators of war crimes and genocide never go unpunished.

Three African states – South Africa, Gambia and Burundi – signaled last year their intention to quit what is the world’s first permanent global war crimes court.

The ICC, which is 15 years old this year, has only ever charged Africans, including the presidents of Kenya and Sudan, although it has procedures open at earlier stages dealing with crimes in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and South America.

NAN

Emirates Airline Changes Roaster Of Pilots, Flight Attendants Following US Travel Ban

Emirates airline has changed pilot and flight attendant rosters on flights to the U.S. following the sudden U.S. travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries, the report said on Sunday.

However, it said that U.S. flights would continue to operate as scheduled.

According to the report, “the world’s largest long-haul carrier, who flies daily to 11 U.S. cities, has made the necessary adjustments to our crewing to comply with the latest requirements”, Emirates spokesperson said.

President Donald Trump had on Friday temporarily suspended the entry of people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

According to the International Air Transport Association, “the decision caught airlines off guard.’’

The ban applies to pilots and flight attendants from the seven countries, even though all flight crew who are not U.S. citizens already needed a special visa to enter the country.

Another Emirates spokesperson said the impact of the ban on operations would be minimal.

The airline employs over 23,000 flight attendants and about four thousand pilots from around the world, including the U.S., Europe and the Middle East.

Meanwhile, an Etihad Airways spokesman said the airline has “taken steps to ensure there will be no issues for flights departing over the coming weeks.”

However, amid confusion over enforcing the ban, it is unclear if the ban applies to dual nationals who hold one passport from a country on the list and another from a non-U.S. country that is not.

Etihad said on its website that dual citizens could travel to the U.S. using their non-banned passport.

According to the report, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), has told its members that the ban does not apply to dual nationals if they have a passport not on the list.

However, the Guardian reported on Saturday, quoting State Department officials, that dual nationals were banned.

Dubai-based Emirates and Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways are both owned by the governments of the United Arab Emirates, a U.S. ally and Muslim-majority country.

Both carriers said they would continue to comply with the new rules on U.S. immigration but where possible would offer to refund or rebook affected passengers.

Emirates and Etihad have also said that passengers were affected by the ban over the weekend but their flight crews had not been impacted.

Qatar Airways declined to comment on the impact of the ban on flight operations.

Although, on Saturday, it issued a statement on its website that passengers would need a green card or diplomatic visa to enter the U.S. Emirates and Etihad issued similar statements.

(Reuters/NAN)

‘We’re Taking Names Of Those Opposing Trump’s Policies, His UN Envoy Warns

Washington’s new ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, vowed Friday to show US strength, bluntly warning those who oppose President Donald Trump’s policies that she is “taking names” and will respond.

The former South Carolina governor served notice that the new US administration will push for an overhaul of the United Nations, in her first remarks at UN headquarters.

“Our goal with the administration is to show value at the UN, and the way that we will show value is to show our strength, show our voice, have the backs of our allies and make sure that our allies have our back as well,” Haley said.

“For those who don’t have our backs: we’re taking names,” she added. “We will make points to respond to that accordingly.”

The 45-year-old daughter of Indian immigrants made clear that some cuts were in store at the world body, which critics describe as a bloated, ineffective bureaucracy.

“This is a time of strength. This is a time of action. This is a time of getting things done,” Haley said.

“Everything that is working, we are going to make it better. Everything that is not working we are going to try and fix. Everything that seems to be obsolete and not necessary, we’re going to do away with,” she said.

The United States is by far the UN’s biggest financial contributor, providing 22 percent of its operating budget and funding 28 percent of peacekeeping missions, which currently cost $7.8 billion annually.

The White House is reportedly preparing an executive order that could deprive the United Nations of billions of dollars in US financial support.

– Fresh eyes, new strength –

In his pledge to pursue an “America First” foreign policy, Trump has dismissed the United Nations as “just a club for people to get together and have a good time.”

Relations became tense after the UN Security Council adopted a resolution in late December demanding that Israel end settlement construction.

The previous US administration declined to use its veto to block that measure, prompting Trump to promise that “things will be different” at the United Nations under his administration.

Tough-talking Haley echoed that stance, promising “fresh eyes, new strength, new vision” as the US envoy.

“You are going to see a change in the way we do business. It’s no longer about working harder but working smarter,” she said.

The ambassador presented her diplomatic credentials to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and held a 20-minute meeting with the UN chief, who was “delighted to meet her,” said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

“It was an introductory meeting and the start of engagement with the new US administration,” he said.

Guterres, who took over from Ban Ki-moon on January 1, is also pushing for changes at the United Nations to improve its ability to respond to crises.

A US official said following the meeting: “They had a good and productive conversation about ways they can work together to reform the UN.”

Haley’s appointment has been welcomed by many diplomats who notably praised her for her strong stance against racism as South Carolina governor, when she ordered that the Confederate flag be pulled down from the state capitol.

Her lack of diplomatic experience however is expected to be a challenge as she confronts a string of complex issues on the agenda of the Security Council, where the United States is one of the five veto-wielding powers.

Barrow Finally Arrives Gambia To Take Office

President Adama Barrow of Gambia has arrived in his country, weeks after fleeing over the refusal of Yahya Jammeh to cede power.

Barrow had been in neighbouring Senegal where he took his oath of office in the Gambian embassy in Dakar, capital of Senegal.

Hundreds of people gathered along the streets of Gambia’s capital Banjul on Thursday to welcome home the new president.

Barrow, a former real estate agent, won the December election.

Jammeh fled to Equatorial Guinea on Saturday night as thousands of soldiers from ECOWAS regional bloc were poised to remove him by force after 22 years of increasingly repressive rule.

Along wide avenues leading to the airport, Gambians wearing T-shirts with Barrow’s picture blew whistles, banged calabash drums and sang in Fula language, ‘“We welcome you our president, our hope, our solution’, as Senegalese soldiers looked on.

Earlier, Ebrima Bah, who had been awaiting Barrow at the airport, said: “His arrival is raising my confidence in the new government.”

Jammeh’s political demise is a relief to many people in the small, sliver-like West African country who long were afraid to openly criticise the government for fear of his secret police.

Swiss police detained longtime former Gambian interior minister Ousman Sonko near the Swiss capital of Berne on Thursday after a complaint filed against him by non-governmental organization Trial International.

Mohamed Ibn Chambas, UN Special Representative for West Africa and the Sahel, who was due to accompany Barrow back to Banjul, pledged to provide assistance to help Gambia’s new government investigate human rights abuses under Jammeh.

Barrow has asked the 7,000-strong West African military contingent to remain in Gambia for another six months, Chambas said.

An ECOWAS official said they were studying the proposal.

Gambia, a tiny riverine nation surrounded by Western ally Senegal on three sides, has a bloated army for its size but so far there have been no signs of resistance to ECOWAS forces.

However, lingering questions remain as to the loyalty of the Republican Guard, thought to number about 400, who in the past protected Jammeh from coup attempts.

The whereabouts of members of alleged assassination squads known in Gambia as the “Junglers” were not known.

Gambia’s Central Bank Accounts “Intact”, Says President’s Spokesman

Gambia’s central bank deposits are “intact”, a spokesman for President Adama Barrow said on Monday, a day after the new leader had said there was no money left in the state coffers.

Barrow said on Sunday that it appeared his exiled predecessor, Yahya Jammeh, had looted state resources after his election defeat. A Barrow adviser later said Jammeh had withdrawn the equivalent of over $11.5 million before he flew out of the country as West African troops were poised to remove him.

That amount would represent 1.2 percent of Gambia’s 2015 GDP, according to World Bank figures.

“There had been information to the public about the central bank. It was of particular concern but the inspector general (of) police told me that everything is intact,” Halifa Sallah said at a news conference in Gambia’s capital Banjul.

It was not immediately clear if Barrow and his adviser, Mai Ahmad Fatty, had been referring to central bank funds or other state resources. Fatty could not be reached for clarification.

Jammeh is believed to have acquired a vast fortune, including a fleet of Rolls-Royces and an estate in a wealthy suburb of Washington, D.C during his rule.

The veteran leader, who had refused to hand over power after his defeat in December’s election, flew out of Gambia late on Saturday en route to Equatorial Guinea after negotiations backed by regional military pressure.

But even before the cheers to celebrate Jammeh’s departure had died down, there was dismay that the former soldier was being allowed to flee into luxurious exile and might hold onto his fortune.

Rights groups also accuse Jammeh, who took power in a 1994 coup, of jailing, torturing and killing political opponents – charges Jammeh has denied. Barrow denied on Sunday that Jammeh had been offered immunity.

Sallah on Monday also announced that Barrow had named Fatoumata Tambajang, the country’s former health minister, as vice president. Tambajang was the architect of the opposition coalition that backed Barrow in the election.

He added that the director general of the country’s National Intelligence Agency had assured him that all prisoners held by the agency had been released but that the new administration would be looking into additional claims of missing persons.

ISIL Infiltrates Erdogan’s Maarif Foundation

There are strong indications that the Islamic State of Iran and Syria (ISIS) may have infiltrated the ranks of the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) promoters of the recently established Maarif Foundation.

This followed comments by a teacher in response to questions from her students in one of the educational institutions TIKA operates in Albania, that ISIS seeks to promote Muslims.

According to a news report published by the Washington Post newspaper on 19 January 2016, it was revealed that Emine Alushi, 39, was arrested and is facing a charge of religious hatred, which carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, according to a police statement.

“Alushi was shown by private television station TVKlan debating with students and making “strong statements for the notorious ISIS organization and the former leader of the terrorist organization al-Qaida, Bin Laden,” the report stated.

The controversial teacher works at a ?mam Hatip school established by the state-run Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (T?KA), which is primarily funded by the Turkey’s ruling AK Party government since 2002 under President Recep Erdogan. Turkish government’s education projects in foreign countries are mainly managed by the T?KA using the umbrella of Marrif foundation.

“During the 35-second video, a student says he does not understand if ISIL militants are Muslim or not. In her answer, the teacher says ISIL seek to protect Muslims and thereby they are good people.”

It would be recalled that Turkey recently proposed the newly established Maarif Foundation to take over schools that are linked with Hizmet movement in Africa and the rest of the world after the Turkish Parliament passed a bill last September. The Maarif foundation is under the supervision of the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA)

During his speech at the Turkey-Africa Business Forum in Istanbul, Turkish President Recep Erdogan asked African leaders to replace Hizmet affiliated schools in Africa with Maarif Foundation. In a statement credited to the President of TIKA, Dr. Serdar Cam, he said that “the Foundation has already taken over schools in Somalia, Sudan, Gabon and Guinea, and negotiation is undergoing with other African countries to replace Hizmet affiliated schools.”

However, in some quarters it has been widely reported that the bulk of the funding for Maarif foundation was coming from Saudi Arabia in an attempt to introduce the Wahhabism and Sufism ideology in these countries. Wahhabism is a conservative and intolerant form of Islam that is practiced in Saudi Arabia; Osama bin Laden and his followers practice Wahhabism.

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