Appeal court affirms conviction of ‘My Pikin’ producers

The Court of Appeal in Lagos on Tuesday affirmed  the judgment of a Federal High Court, Lagos, which sentenced two employees of the firm producing the killer baby theeting mixture, ‘My pikin’, to seven years imprisonment each, for the  sale of the medicine.

In the lead judgment delivered by Justice Dauda Bage, the appellate court  affirmed the seven years sentence handed down by the trial court, but reversed the order of winding up and forfeiture made by the court.

The convicts, Adeyemo Abiodun and Ebele Eromosele, both employees of Barewa Pharmaceutical Company Ltd, had appealed against the judgment of Justice Okechukwu Okeke, (now retired) delivered on May 17.

Following the conviction, Okeke had ruled that Barewa Pharmaceutical Company Ltd, producer of the killer mixture be forfeited to the Federal Government.

Okeke had only convicted the two persons and the company for just the sale of the medicine, but that it could not convict them for the manufacturing and the adulteration of the drug because the prosecution was unable to adduce sufficient evidence to back the allegations.

The National Agency for Food, Drugs, Administration and Control, which prosecuted the convicts at the trial court, had alleged that My Pikin caused the death of over 80 children in the country.

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Plateau set to ban street begging

Beggars in Plateau State are set for a surprise New Year gift as the state government  is  planning to  ban street begging on the streets  of Jos and Bukuru metropolis

Commissioner for  Information  and Communications,  Mr. Yiljap Abraham, who disclosed this while briefing newsmen after the state executive council meeting on Tuesday said the ban would be announced in a few days.

Without saying what the fate of the beggars would be, Abraham said,  ”The state  state government has  observed with dismay the influx of beggars from unknown destination to most streets in the state. The state government is not comfortable as some of the beggars might be used for sinister motives and therefore pose a security threat to the peace  in the state

He added,  ”We are  also set to  stop all individuals who display sick persons on the road to look for money as  such persons should be taking to hospitals for medical attention not on the road.

“The streets are not the best places to display sick persons, but rather such  persons should be taking to hospitals for medical attention. We want to warn that such practice should be stopped henceforth and  all those involved should take note or face the full wrath of the law.”

The commissioner said as part of measures to beautify the Jos and Bukuru metropolis, the state Governor, Jonah Jang, has  also approved the naming of all streets and houses within the Jos Greater Master Plan.

Adamawa PDP Publicity Secretary resigns, gives no reasons

The Publicity Secretary, Peoples Democratic Party in Adamawa, Alhaji Umar Jada, on Tuesday resigned his position.

Jada’s resignation is contained in a letter dated Dec. 30 and addressed to the state chairman of the party.

The letter did not, however, give reason for the resignation.

“I, Umar Bello Jada, humbly write to formally inform you that I have resigned from my position as the State Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, Adamawa chapter.

“I very much thank you and the party for giving me the rare opportunity to serve in that capacity.

“Thanks in anticipation of your kind acceptance”, the letter stated.

When contacted, the state Secretary of the party, Mr Tahir Shehu, confirmed the development, describing it as “something normal”.

South Sudan rebel leader agrees to talks after taking Bor

UPDATE

South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar has told the BBC he will enter peace talks, claiming his forces have captured the key town of Bor.

He had previously demanded 11 detainees accused of being co-conspirators in the coup plan be freed before negotiations.

He denies there was a plot – alleged by his rival President Salva Kiir.

Uganda’s president has threatened the rebels with military action if they fail to agree to a ceasefire by the end of Tuesday, and begin talks.

In a BBC interview on Monday, President Kiir ruled out any power sharing with Mr Machar to halt violence that has killed at least 1,000 people in the last two weeks.

By sending a delegation to Addis Ababa, Riek Machar has agreed to one of the mediation’s key demands – but not the other. The rebel leader told me he would not order his troops to stop fighting. This is something, he said, that can be discussed in Ethiopia.

Regional leaders had wanted a cessation of hostilities and talks to begin by the end of the year. The attack on Bor was a clear attempt by Mr Machar to show his military power, which will strengthen his hand in any negotiations.

He also said his delegation will be led by Rebecca Nyandeng Garang, the widow of the South Sudanese hero John Garang. As a Dinka, she may help Mr Machar challenge the allegation that his rebellion is primarily from his Nuer ethnic group.

It is interesting that Mr Machar is now admitting that the “white army” – an ethnic militia – is “part of” his army. This will not do much for his popularity in many parts of South Sudan.

“These men have rebelled. If you want power, you don’t rebel so that you are rewarded with the power. You go through the process,” he said.

Mr Kiir has consistently refused to release Mr Machar’s political allies, arrested when he made the coup plot allegations.

It has not been confirmed whether Bor has fallen to Mr Machar’s forces – a mix of mutinous soldiers loyal to him and an ethnic militia called the “white army”, known for putting white ash onto their bodies as a kind of war-paint.

A UN spokesman said the town of Bor had come under attack at day break, not far from the town’s UN compound.

A South Sudanese army spokesman confirmed a “big fight” had happened.

Later, Mr Machar told the BBC he was sending a delegation to Addis Ababa for peace talks, where he will discuss a ceasefire.

He also said his delegation will be led by Rebecca Nyandeng Garang, the widow of John Garang, who led South Sudanese rebel forces against Khartoum for many years.

The BBC’s James Copnall in the capital, Juba, says as a Dinka she may help Mr Machar challenge the allegation that his rebellion is primarily from his Nuer ethnic group.

According to the AFP news agency, both parties are expected in the Ethiopian capital soon.

“Both President Salva Kiir and Dr Riek Machar are coming to Addis Ababa for talks, they are coming now and should meet today,” Ethiopian foreign ministry spokesman Dina Mufti told the agency.

Talks in South Sudan’s troubled history have often been preceded by renewed fighting, to allow the belligerents to go to the negotiating table in a position of strength, our reporter says.

A South Sudan army soldier stands next to a machine gun mounted on a truck in Malakal town, 497km (308 miles) northeast of capital Juba

Talks in South Sudan’s history have often been preceded by renewed fighting

In recent days, thousands of people have fled from Bor, the capital of Jonglei state.

The fighting initially broke out more than two weeks ago in Juba, and has now spread to many parts of the country.

At least 1,000 people have died and more than 121,600 are believed to have fled their homes.

The UK has announced a £12.5m ($20.6m) aid package to support organisations, including the International Committee of the Red Cross and UN agencies, to provide tents, emergency health care and other supplies.

Mr Machar was President Kiir’s deputy until he was sacked in July.

What began as a power struggle between the two men has taken on overtones of an ethnic conflict. The Dinka, to which Mr Kiir belongs, are pitted against the Nuer, from which Mr Machar hails.

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South Sudan rebels attack key town of Bor

Anti-government rebels in South Sudan have attacked the key town of Bor, just hours before a deadline for a ceasefire expires.

A UN spokesman said the fighting began at daybreak, not far from the town’s UN compound.

A South Sudanese army spokesman confirmed a “big fight” had happened.

Uganda’s president has threatened the rebels with military action if they fail to agree to a ceasefire by the end of Tuesday, and begin talks.

But the rebel leader, Riek Machar, has demanded the release of all his detained political allies before any talks can begin, something South Sudanese President Salva Kiir has rejected.

Only last week the army was celebrating the recapture of Bor from the rebel forces – but it now appears that the rebels are back, and have captured a key crossroads.

The UN believes the attackers are a mix of mutinous soldiers loyal to Mr Machar and an ethnic militia called the “White Army”, known for putting white ash onto their bodies as a kind of war-paint.

In recent days, thousands of people have fled from Bor, the capital of Jonglei state.

South Sudan’s president says he believes a peaceful solution is still possible

The fighting initially broke out more than two weeks ago in the capital, Juba, and has now spread to many parts of the country.

At least 1,000 people have died and more than 121,600 are believed to have fled their homes.

Mr Machar, who was President Kiir’s deputy until he was sacked in July – is accused of mounting a coup that sparked the violence. He denies the allegation.

What began as a power struggle between the two men has taken on overtones of an ethnic conflict. The Dinka, to which Mr Kiir belongs, are pitted against the Nuer, from which Mr Machar hails.

Mr Kiir has ruled out any power sharing with Mr Machar, telling the BBC on Monday: “These men have rebelled. If you want power, you don’t rebel so that you are rewarded with the power. You go through the process.”

4,000 Nigeria police officers on peace missions -IG

The Inspector-General of Police,  Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, said on Tuesday that more than 4,000 police officers were serving in various peacekeeping missions worldwide.

Abubakar made the statement in Abuja when he addressed 450 police officers deployed for peace support operations in Liberia and Sierra-Leone.

He said the officers were serving in missions of the UN, Africa Union,  ECOWAS and many others.

He said the police had upgraded their training level and achieved 85 per cent of contingent-owned equipment all over the missions.

“We have replaced all the equipment that were not working because you cannot take officers and men and send them to a mission area that is very challenging security wise.

“Without equipment, that means you are telling them to go and die and that is why you have minimal number of accidents in terms of those who are performing outside,” he said.

Abubakar said the UN was very happy with Nigeria and they also appreciated what the country was doing in terms of peace support missions.

He urged the officers and men that were being deployed to be good ambassadors of the country and Nigeria Police Force.

Senator to dump PDP for APC in Rivers

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream), Senator Magnus Abe, declared on Tuesday that he would soon join the All Progressives Congress.
Abe, who spoke during the third annual interactive session with youths from the seven local government areas of Rivers South East Senatorial District, maintained that there was no provision in the constitution preventing him from moving from one political party to another.
He pointed out that with the current turmoil in the Peoples Democratic Party, he was set to join the APC, even if he was the only Senator to do so.
Explaining that the Nigeria’s Constitution guaranteed citizens of the country the freedom of association, the Senator added that the situation in the PDP had forced some of its members to move to an alternative political party.
He said, “I am going to cross to APC. Even if it is only one senator that will cross from PDP to APC, you can go and write it down; Magnus Abe will be that Senator. I will cross.
“The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria guarantees freedom of association. It says if there is division in your political association, you can cross.
“The crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party, which led to the walk-out of some aggrieved members of the party and subsequent formation of a faction of the ruling party, justifies the decision to dump the PDP for the APC.
“Everybody in Nigeria knows that there was a walkout during the convention of the PDP and that resulted in the formation of a faction. That faction has now merged with the APC.
“So, what am I doing in PDP when my faction is in APC? This country belongs to all of us and Nigerians must oppose this idea that once you hold power, it is your personal estate and you can do whatever you like.
“Have people not been crossing to the PDP? How many governors have crossed from other parties to the PDP? Was Orji of Abia State not elected on the platform of another party? Is he not in PDP today? Did they go to hang him.”

PDP members in Sambo’s council defect to APC

No fewer than  1,200 chiefs of the Peoples Democratic Party in Kaduna North Local Government Area, the constituency of the Vice President Namadi Sambo on Tuesday defected to the All Progressives Congress in the state.
This came barely a week after a former Chairman of the PDP in the state, Alhaji Yaro Makama, ex-commissioners  and 70 others chiefs of the in state  defected to the APC.
The former chairman, who led the defectors, cited injustice as one of the reasons for leaving the PDP.
The new defectors were received by the APC’s Interim Chairman in the State, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, at the party’s secretariat on Ali Akilu Road in the metropolis.
Speaking to reporters  after the ceremony, Baba-Ahmed, also a former INEC secretary, said  the defectors had asked  for forgiveness for stealing  the party’s  mandate over years during  elections.
“We have forgiven them and hope that together, we shall work to defeat the PDP in the state come 2015,” Baba-Ahmed said.
He noted that if an unprecedented number of party leaders could defect in the Vice President’s local government, it showed that the PDP was finished the state.
He described what was  going on in the state as a political revolution, assuring the defectors of equal opportunity in the APC.
“As for today, the original APC members  and the defected PDP members are one and the same,” he said.