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Gambia Electoral Commission Postpones Voter Registration for Logistic Reasons

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The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) of The Gambia has postponed the start of the General Registration of Voters citing logistical challenges.

Voter registration ahead of the December 4, 2021 presidential election was slated to begin on 14 January 2021. However, in a press statement on Thursday, the IEC announced a change in date challenges around the “procurement of materials and equipment needed for the successful conduct of the voter registration.”

The statement said the IEC is hindered by the lack of clearance from GPPA which is required before the release of funds by the Ministry of Finance.

The commission, however, assured citizens that the delay will not affect the electoral calendar, insisting that the December polls will still go ahead as planned.

“The IEC would like to re-assure Gambian’s that the delay in conducting the vote registration exercise would not affect the electoral calendar as there is still room to conduct the exercise on time,” the IEC said.

“In 2011, general registration of voters commenced in May and the presidential election was held in November; meaning the IEC is on course to conduct a general registration of voters prior to the presidential election on the 4th December 2021.”

Reacting to the news, President Adama Barrow – who defeated longtime ruler Yahya Jammeh in 2017 at the polls – has advised the IEC against delaying the presidential election.

Civil society groups are demanding an emergency meeting about the postponement, the website reports.

In December 2019 the banned “Operation Three Years Jotna” movement staged protests in the capital Banjul to pressure President Barrow to honour his 2016 promise to stand down after a three-year transitional period.

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Nigeria to Evacuate 600 Stranded Nationals from Saudi Arabia Next Week

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No fewer than 600 stranded Nigerians will be evacuated from Saudi Arabia next week, the federal government has said.

Abike Dabiri-Erewa, the Chairman, Nigerians in the Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), said the 600 irregular migrants would be evacuated on January 28 and 29 in batches of 400 and 200 respectively.

In a tweet on Friday, Dabiri-Erewa said their evacuation was delayed due to issues relating to COVID-19.

She said, “Nigerian irregular migrants in Saudi Arabia are due to be evacuated on the 28 and 29th of January, pending any unforeseen issues. Their evacuation was delayed due to issues relating to COVID-19. We appeal to Nigerians to resist travelling abroad without proper documents.”

The Nigerians are currently detained at a facility in Saudi Arabia pending their repatriation.

A video on social media had shown the Nigerians lamenting the hardship they were facing at the detention facility.

The immigrants wrapped in black polythene bags were lying on the floor in a packed room.

A voice in the video said, “We are here more than three months, six months, seven months ago, without any action, no better information on transport to Nigeria.

“According to the rules and regulations of this location, we are not supposed to be here for more than two weeks.

“Most nationals of other countries have been flown back to their countries. Only we Nigerians don’t have any source or way of getting back.”

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Brother Loses Appeal to Unfreeze Foreign Accounts of Nigeria’s Ex-Dictator, Abacha

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Court seizes uncovered $267m loot owned by late Nigerian dictator in Jersey

Nigeria’s Supreme Court on Friday dismissed an appeal by one Ali Abacha, a brother to the late Head of State, Sani Abacha, to unfreeze accounts traced to him and his relatives.

It would be the second time the apex court is dismissing the appeal.

News Central reports that the bank accounts are domiciled in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Jersey, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg.

In a unanimous judgment, a five-man panel of the court, led by Justice Sylvester Ngwuta held that Ali Abacha’s case was statute-barred, as at when it commenced in April 2004, at the Federal High Court in Kaduna.

The judgment was in the appeal marked: SC/359/2010, filed by Alhaji Ali Abacha, said to be a brother of the late Gen Sani Abacha.

In the lead judgment prepared by Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, but read on Friday by Justice Ejembi Eko, the court held that, having dismissed a similar appeal in an earlier judgment given in February last year, it had no reason to depart from its reasoning in that case brought by Alhaji Abba Mohammed Sani on behalf of the Abacha family.

The court said it noticed that the appellant, in this appeal, was represented by Reuben Atabo who, incidentally, was the appellant’s counsel in the earlier appeal.

“No new superior arguments were proffered here to warrant a departure from the decision in the case of Alhaji Sani, earlier decided. This appeal fails, and it is hereby dismissed.

The appeal was against the July 19, 2010 unanimous judgment of the Court of Appeal, Kaduna division, in which a three-man panel set aside the Sept. 24, 2004 judgment by Justice Mohammed Liman of the Federal High Court, Kaduna, earlier given in favour of Ali Abacha.

Ali Abacha had sued at the Federal High Court, Kaduna in 2004, challenging among others, the 1999 decision by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration, acting through the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Kanu Agabi (SAN), to request the freezing of all accounts traced to the late Abacha, his family members and relatives in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Jersey, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg.

Abacha prayed the court to, among others, void the freezing of the accounts on the grounds that the AGF lacked the powers, under the Banking (Freezing of Accounts Act, Cap 29, Laws of Nigeria, on which he claimed to have acted, to request the foreign nations to freeze his accounts and those of the companies in which he was a director.

Justice Liman, in his judgment of Sept. 24, 2004, upheld the claims by Ali Abacha and granted all the reliefs sought, a decision that the AGF, listed as the sole defendant, appealed at the Court of Appeal, Kaduna division.

In their judgment on July 19, 2010, in the appeal marked: CA/K/71/2005, Justices John Inyang Okoro, Baba Alkali Ba’aba and Mohammed Lawal Garba of the Court of Appeal, Kaduna, were unanimous in holding that the suit was statute barred.

They equally held that the AGF was not accorded fair hearing by the Federal High Court, and proceeded to set aside the judgment by Justice Liman, a decision on which Ali Abacha appealed to the Supreme Court, which the apex court decided on Friday.

A five-member panel of the Supreme Court had, in its Feb. 1, 2020 judgment in the earlier appeal, marked: SC68/2010 by Abba Mohammed Sani, held among others, that it was was too late for the Abacha family to query the decision taken by the Federal Government of Nigeria in 1999, via a letter authored by the then Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Kanu Agabi (SAN).

Justice Chima Nweze, who authored the panel’s lead judgment held, among others, that in view of the evidence presented by parties, he was left with no other options than to uphold the earlier concurrent decisions of the two lower courts, the Federal High Court, Kano and the Court of Appeal, Kaduna division, to the effect that the suit was statute barred.

Nweze said: “In all forms, with the eloquent submission of the respondents’ counsel, and submissions anchored on the admitted evidence, I have no hesitation in affirming the concurrent decisions of the lower courts.

“Accordingly, I hereby enter an order dismissing this appeal. I further affirm the concurrent findings and decisions of the lower courts, appeal dismissed”.

Court documents had shown that President, Olusegun Obasanjo, in December 1999, authorized the then AGF, Agabi, to request the Swiss authorities to freeze all bank accounts held in its jurisdiction by the late Head of State, General Abacha, his children, servants, agents and any other individuals or companies linked to them, between 1993 and 1998.

The Nigeria government was also said to have requested the Swiss authorities to seize and detain all banking and other documents relating to the affected accounts, charge and prosecute all holders of such accounts, in order to recover and pay over to the Federal Government of Nigeria all monies falsely and fraudulently taken from the government and people of Nigeria.

Also, the government was said to have engaged a foreign financial investigator, Enrico Monfrini of Hauchomann & Bottage in Geneva, Switzerland, to assist in recovering “all looted monies by Gen Abacha and his family members and other public servants and third parties who have used their position or participated as accomplices to misappropriate public funds”.

Following these steps by the Federal Government, the accounts of the Abachas, found in Switzerland, United Kingdom, Jersey, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg were frozen, development members of the late Head of State challenged by filing a suit, marked: FHC/KN/CS/6/2004, on Jan. 28, 2004 before the Federal High Court, Kano.

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Namibia Proceeds With Auction of 170 Elephants on January 29

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Namibia on Friday said it will go ahead with plans to auction 170 high value wild elephants on January 29

The Namibian government is selling the elephants to drought and an increase in elephant numbers, despite objection from conservation groups.

The nation had announced in December 2020 that an increase in incidents of human-elephant conflict had motivated the sale of the large mammal that is at risk of extinction due to poaching and ecological factors.

The government said it would auction the animals to anyone in Namibia or abroad who could meet the strict criteria, which include quarantine facilities and a game-proof fence certificate for the property where the elephants will be kept.

Several online petitions from animal rights groups and conservationists have since gained traction, calling on the Namibian government to stop its planned sell-off of entire herds to the highest bidder.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), a global non-profit helping animal and people thrive together, said selling the elephants will not solve problems of human-elephant conflict (HEC) and is contrary to the guidance of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), of which Namibia is a member.

“Selling elephants will not prevent HEC. The most effective way to mitigate the problem of conflict is by working with communities to ensure habitats are managed properly and solutions found to ensure wildlife and the people who live alongside them are protected,“ Neil Greenwood, IFAW regional director for southern Africa, said.

“This has been proven time and again throughout southern Africa.’’

Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism spokesperson Romeo Muyunda, however, said Namibia will not allow communities living with elephants to suffer for the emotions of people that do not understand the situation on the ground.

“The ministry is doing the right thing for conservation,” he said.

Namibia’s conservation drive, which has seen its elephant population jump from around 7,500 in 1995 to 24,000 in 2019, according to government figures, has largely enjoyed international support.

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