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Monday, 25 November 2019

Africa’s decolonisation is far from being complete as the United Kingdom holds onto an archipelago, a group of islands in the Indian ocean as its colony. And this is despite UN resolution asking the old colonialist to leave.

The islands belong to Mauritius, but UK declined to let them go in 1965, when the country became independent. It’s like Britain holding on to Tarkwa Bay at Nigeria’s independence in 1960.

The development has infuriated the Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat, who has expressed deep concern over UK’s continued “colonial administration” of the Chagos Archipelago.

“The Chairperson expresses his deep concern over the continued colonial administration of the United Kingdom to the Chagos Archipelago, in violation of the United Nations General Assembly’s Resolution 73/295 adopted on May 22, 2019, in which the international community demanded from the United Kingdom to withdraw unconditionally within six months from the date of the Resolution, which expired on November 22, 2019,” an AU statement issued on late Friday read.

Chairperson of the 55-member pan African bloc further recalled that the UN General Assembly Resolution 73/295 was adopted following the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice of February 25 this year “on the legal effects of the separation of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965.”

Mahamat also “reiterated the support of the African Union to the Republic of Mauritius for a complete decolonization of the Chagos Archipelago, in conformity with the Constitutive Act of the African Union which defines the defence of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of the Member States as one of its main objectives,” the statement read. He further reiterated the relevant decisions made by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the AU on the matter, in particular the Assembly/AU/Dec. 747(XXXll) decision on the decolonization of the Chagos Archipelago, which was adopted in February this year in Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. The AU Commission Chairperson also “called upon the United Kingdom to comply with the General Assembly Resolution, within the spirit of the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice.” He further “requests the international community to continue its support to the Republic of Mauritius for a complete decolonization of the Chagos Archipelago.”

Chagos Archipelago, a group of islands in the Indian Ocean, was hived off Mauritius in the run-up to independence in 1965. The Britain has retained possession of the islands ever since, while Mauritius has continued to claim its sovereignty over them. The International Court of Justice, also the principal judicial organ of the UN, in February handed Mauritius a victory when it said in a legal opinion that Britain had illegally split the islands and should give up control of them. The resolution on Wednesday, which received 116 votes in favor, demands that Britain withdraw its colonial administration, thus enabling Mauritius to complete the decolonization of its territory “as rapidly as possible.”

The UN General Assembly’s Resolution 73/295 that was adopted on May 22 this year demands that UK withdraw its colonial administration within six months period, thus enabling Mauritius to complete the decolonization of its territory “as rapidly as possible.” The resolution, eventually, expired on Friday as the UK failed to do so, much to the dissatisfaction of the AU as it urged the UK “to comply with the General Assembly Resolution, within the spirit of the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice.”

Published in World

Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC, a subsidiary of Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC, has been named amongst the top 100 banks utilizing social media globally.

The Top 100 list recently released by The Financial Brand, reflected that Stanbic IBTC Bank emerged number 55 on the list of global social media savvy banks for the third quarter of 2019. The Top 100 list is made up of banks and credit unions who are considered adept at using major social media channels.

The criteria which was adopted in adjudging the bank as the 55th in the list of global banks include Facebook ‘Likes’, Twitter followers, most tweets sent, most Twitter accounts followed, most YouTube video views and most YouTube subscribers.

Stanbic IBTC Bank’s social media statistics reflected that the financial institution had 593,055 Facebook ‘Likes’, 240,555 Twitter followers and 8,676,407 YouTube videos, as at the period the third quarter report was released.

Speaking on the list, Dr. Demola Sogunle, Chief Executive, Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC, described the feat as a result of the bank’s agility and continuous innovative exercises.

“I am delighted that Stanbic IBTC Bank emerged as one of the top banks effectively utilizing social media, globally. It is proof that even though we are a Nigerian bank, we are taking giant strides globally in the social media space. This is also a reflection that our digitization agenda is producing results”, the bank chief said.

Dr. Sogunle further stated that the bank’s presence on social media is part of an innovative outline geared towards ensuring that it provides unparalleled levels of services to its customers.

Published in Bank & Finance

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised on Sunday “to get Brexit done”, with his Conservative Party making an election pledge to bring his deal to leave the European Union back to parliament before Christmas.

With Britain heading to the polls on Dec. 12, the governing Conservatives rolled out an election manifesto that promised more public sector spending and no further extensions to the protracted departure from the EU.

They also pledged no new taxes, drawing a distinction with the opposition Labour Party that has promised to raise taxes on the rich and businesses to fund a major expansion of the state.

But the manifesto offered little detail on other policy areas, with aides wanting Johnson to play it safe after plans on social care in 2017 saw an opinion poll lead enjoyed by his predecessor Theresa May all but disappear.

Johnson is the runaway favourite to win the election, according to opinion polls.

“Get Brexit done and we shall see a pent up tidal wave of investment into this country,” the prime minister said, launching the manifesto in the central English town of Telford.

“Get Brexit done and we can focus our hearts and our minds on the priorities of the British people.”

He also ruled out seeking any further delay to Brexit, saying in his party’s manifesto: “We will not extend the implementation period beyond December 2020”.

Arriving at the Telford conference centre, Johnson was welcomed by supporters chanting “Boris” but a little further away, protesters shouted: “Liar, liar, pants on fire”.

Contrasting with Labour’s unabashed tax-and-spend approach, Johnson’s manifesto – titled “Get Brexit Done, Unleash Britain’s Potential” – pledged to freeze income tax, value-added sales tax and social security payments.

Instead, he promised 23.5 billion pounds ($30.2 billion) worth of “sensible” tax cuts and higher spending, including on the National Health Service which would gain 50,000 nurses. [L8N2840EI]

His pledges are dwarfed by Labour’s 83 billion-pound planned spending increase. Johnson, portrayed by the opposition party as being in the pockets of billionaires, said he was targeting his measures towards those who are less well off.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn described the manifesto as one “for billionaires. They bought it and you’ll pay for it”.

Labour earlier announced another spending commitment, promising to compensate more than three million women who lost years of state pension payments when their retirement age was raised.

Published in World

Spanish police on Sunday intercepted a submarine that appeared to be transporting drugs in waters off the northwestern region of Galicia, a source with the central government’s delegation to the region said.

“Early this morning an international operation was able to locate a small submarine of around 20 meters near the beach of Hio in the province of Pontevedra,” the source said, confirming earlier media reports.

News reported that the vessel was carrying some 3,000 kilograms of cocaine, citing sources from Spain’s Guardia Civil.

However, the source told News Men that while the submarine appeared to be carrying drugs it had not yet been confirmed and a spokeswoman for the Guardia Civil said she could not confirm the submarine’s cargo as it was still under water.

Two South-American men were detained as part of the operation, in which the Guardia Civil and National Police participated, while a third man escaped, the source said.

Authorities will attempt to refloat the vessel on Monday morning after attempts on Sunday proved unsuccessful.

Published in Travel & Tourism

Pro-democracy candidates in Hong Kong took a significant early lead in district council elections after residents turned out in record numbers on Sunday to vote following six months of anti-government protests.

The elections are seen as a test of support for the city’s pro-Beijing chief executive, Carrie Lam, who has faced intense pressure during months of unrest in the Chinese-ruled city.

Initial results from the voting, which ended with no major disruptions, began to trickle in after midnight and signalled major gains for the pro-democracy camp.

As of about 4:00 a.m. (2000 GMT), pro-democracy candidates had won at least 207 seats, compared to about 18 seats for the pro-establishment camp, according to local media estimates. A record 1,104 candidates were vying for 452 seats.

Electoral affairs chief Barnabus Fung said at least 2.94 million people voted, a record turnout of more than 71% that appeared to have been spurred by the turmoil. About 1.47 million voted in the last district elections four years ago.

“The performance of the pro-democracy camp will send a signal to Beijing,” said Andrew Li, a 22-year-old student who supported a pro-democracy candidate. “By ignoring people’s demands, it wakes up all Hong Kong people to come out and vote.”

Hong Kong’s district councils control some spending and decide issues such as recycling and public health.

If the pro-democracy camp gains control, it could get six seats on Hong Kong’s semi-representative Legislative Council and 117 seats on the 1,200-member panel that selects the city’s chief executive.

Demonstrators are angry at what they see as Chinese meddling in the freedoms promised to the former British colony when it returned to Chinese rule in 1997. They say they are also responding to perceived police brutality.

China denies interfering and says it is committed to the “one country, two systems” formula for the autonomy of Hong Kong. Police say they have shown restraint in the face of potentially deadly attacks.

Jimmy Sham, a candidate for the Civil Human Rights Front, which organised some of the anti-government rallies, won his electoral contest and said the turnout should be a sign to the government that it should listen to their voices.

Published in World

A groundswell of opposition is building up against the death penalty proposal for hate speech.

The bill, which is sponsored by Deputy Chief Whip Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (Niger North), passed the first reading in the Senate on Friday.

Titled: “National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches (Establishment, etc) Bill, 2019”, the bill also proposes the setting up of a Commission on hate speech.

Last week, the Senate introduced a bill to regulate the social media to punish what it termed “abuse of social media” with a three-year jail term or N150,000 option of fine or both.

The Social Media Regulation Bill titled: “Protection from Internet falsehood and manipulations bill, 2019” is sponsored by Senator Mohammed Sani Musa (Niger East).

Minister of Information and Culture Alhaji Lai Mohammed has said that the Federal Government is poised to regulate social media.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus in the Senate has vowed to oppose any proposed legislation that would unduly infringe on the rights of Nigerians.

Minority Leader Enyinnaya Abaribe said this while reacting to concerns on the Social Media Bill raised by members of the Leadership and Accountability Initiative, who visited him at the National Assembly.

Abaribe said the PDP senators would oppose the bill if it threatened the fundamental rights of Nigerians guaranteed in Section 39 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

Abaribe noted that there were already laws that dealt with issues the proposed law seeks to regulate.

He urged Nigerians to ensure mutual respect while freely expressing their views.

Abaribe said: “There is no speed with which this Bill is being passed. The first reading of a Bill is automatic. We can’t make a comment on what is still on the first stage.

“What I can assure you is that this Senate can’t be a party to removing the rights of Nigerians under any guise. Section 39 of the Constitution talks about our freedom as citizens. The 9th Senate will not abridge your rights.

“I don’t think Nigerians who fought and paid the supreme price to entrench this democracy will easily give it away and make us go back to the dark days.

“Rest assured that when we get to that point, we will stand for the people. Every Bill that passes here must pass through the rigours to ensure that it protects the rights of over 200 million Nigerians.

“We have a plethora of laws that can be used to drive the question of driving a free society. While social media can be good, it can also be bad. I am a victim of social media.

“As much as there is freedom, yours stops where another person’s own starts. We urge Nigerians not to propagate falsehood or fake news. Our job is to guarantee the freedoms and rights of both sides.”

Leader of the group, Nwaruruahu Shield, insisted that since there were already existing laws dealing with Defamation, it is superfluous to introduce a fresh anti-social media Bill.

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar described the introduction of the Anti-Hate Speech Bill by the Senate as abuse of legislative process and called on the federal lawmakers to “stop the folly”.

In a statement by his media adviser, Mr Paul Ibe, the former Vice President said the bill sought to violate the constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of speech of Nigerians.

“It is prudent to build upon the tolerance inherited from those years and not shrink the democratic space to satisfy personal and group interests.

“Freedom of Speech was not just bestowed to Nigerians by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), it is also a divine right given to all men by their Creator.

“History is littered with the very negative unintended consequences that result when this God-given right is obstructed by those who seek to intimidate the people rather than accommodate them.

“We should be reminded that history does not repeat itself. Rather, men repeat history. And often, to disastrous consequences”, Atiku said.

He added: “We are now the world headquarters for extreme poverty as well as the global epicentre of out-of-school children. Our economy is smaller than it was in 2015, while our population is one of the world’s fastest-growing.

“We have retrogressed in the Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International, from the position we held four years ago, and our Human Development Indexes are abysmally low.

“It, therefore, begs the question: should we not rather make laws to tackle these pressing domestic challenges, instead of this Bill, which many citizens consider obnoxious?”.

Senator Abdullahi sponsored the same Hate Speech Bill during the Eight Senate but it attracted widespread condemnation from Nigerians. It never returned for a second reading before the eighth Senate elapsed

The Bill proposes that the establishment of a Commission to enforce hate speech laws across the country and ensure the “elimination” of hate speech.

For offences such as harassment on grounds of ethnicity or race, the Bill had proposed that the offender shall be sentenced to “not less than a five-year jail term or a fine of not less than N10 million or both.”

The Bill  proposes that, “A person who uses, publishes, presents, produces, plays, provides, distributes and/or directs the performance of any material, written and/or visual, which is threatening, abusive or insulting or involves the use of threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour” committed an offence.

It added that the charge would be justified if such a person intends to stir up “ethnic hatred”.

The Bill makes provision that any offender found guilty under the Act when passed would die by hanging.

“Any person who commits an offence under this section shall be liable to life imprisonment and where the act causes any loss of life, the person shall be punished with death by hanging,” the Bill said.

The Bill provides that “A person who uses, publishes, presents, produces, plays, provided, distributes and/or directs the performance of any material, written and or visual which is threatening, abusive or insulting or involves the use of threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour commits an offence if such person intends thereby to stir up ethnic hatred, or having regard to all the circumstances, ethnic hatred is likely to be stirred up against any person or person from such an ethnic group in Nigeria.

“Any person who commits an offence under this section shall be liable to life imprisonment and where the act causes any loss of life, the person shall be punished with death by hanging.

“In this section, ethnic hatred means hatred against a group if the person’s from any ethical group indigenous today Nigeria.

On discrimination against persons, the Bill also provides that: “For the purpose of this act, a person who discriminates against another person if on ethnic grounds the person without any lawful justification treats another Nigerian citizen less favourably than he treats or would treat other people from his ethnic or another ethnic group and/or that on grounds of ethnicity a person put another person at a particular disadvantage when compared with other persons from other nationality of Nigeria.

“A person also discriminates against another person if, in any circumstances relevant for the purposes referred to in subsection (1) (b), he applies to that person of any provision, criterion or practise which he applies or would apply equally to persons, not of the same race, ethnic or national origins as that other.”

On harassment on the basis of ethnicity, the Bill further provides that “A person (who) subjects another to harassment on the basis of ethnicity for the purposes of this section where on ethnic grounds, he justifiably engages in conduct which has the purpose or effect of 

a) Violating that other person’s dignity or b) Creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating, or offensive environment for the person subjected to the harassment.

“Conduct shall be regarded as having the effect specified in subsection (1) (a) or (b) of this section if, having regard to all circumstances, including in particular the perception of that other person, it should reasonably be considered as saying that effect.

“A person who subjects another to harassment on the basis of ethnicity commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not less than ten years, or to a fine of not less than ten million naira, or to both.”

The objectives and functions of the proposed commission on Hate Speech, according to the Bill includes to facilitate and promote a harmonious peaceful co-existence within the people of all ethnic groups indigenous to Nigeria and more importantly to achieve this objective by ensuring the elimination of all forms of hate speeches in Nigeria, and to advise the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on all aspects thereof.

Published in World
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