Buhari Receives Cheers for School Feeding Programme

Parents and teachers gives cheers and praises to the President for the numerous benefits the free feeding programme has brought, not just to Ogun State but to Nigeria.

“I want to say a big thank you to the federal government of Nigeria and the Ogun state government for providing food for us,” 10-year-old Ramon Samuel told Al Jazeera before opening the lid on his bowl.

Samuel and his classmates receive free meals every school day, thanks to a national programme, which aims to provide nutritious meals to young schoolchildren in order to increase enrolment, help them stay in school, and reduce malnutrition, particularly among children from low-income families.

The Home Grown School Feeding initiative, a movement launched in 2003, is driven by national governments to improve the lives of schoolchildren and farmers alike. It is practised across the continent, including in Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Ethiopia, Namibia, Botswana, Ivory Coast, and South Africa.

The concept is not confined just to the continent as Brazil, Japan, and Italy have similar programmes aimed at keeping children fed while promoting local agriculture.

Though the scheme began in December 2016 in Nigeria, it is not entirely new here. Nigeria’s former President Olusegun Obasanjo launched a pilot programme in 13 states in September 2005, but after a few years, only southwestern Osun state maintained it.

The school programme operates in 20 out of Nigeria’s 36 states and has fed nearly seven million pupils in about 40,000 public schools, the programme’s manager Abimbola Adesanmi told Al Jazeera. She said more than 68,800 jobs have also been created through the initiative.

The plan was reintroduced by President Muhammadu Buhari in December 2016 as part of his administration’s multi-million dollar National Social Investment Programmes to address poverty, hunger and unemployment in Nigeria.

The school programme operates in 20 out of Nigeria’s 36 states and has fed nearly seven million pupils in about 40,000 public schools, the programme’s manager Abimbola Adesanmi told Al Jazeera. She said more than 68,800 jobs have also been created through the initiative.

Knock-on effect
Adeleke Adewolu is the commissioner of special duties and inter-governmental affairs in Ogun state. He said the meals are not only nutritious but also serve as a “social safety net” for low-income households.

“If children eat nutritious food it will enhance their learning ability and this will have a knock-on effect on their cognitive development and help to encourage enrolment and retention,” Adewolu said.

The programme provides income for thousands of people, including farmers, cooks recruited from local communities, and those involved in the processing and transportation of food, he said.

In Ogun, the coordinating team collaborated with the ministries of education, health, agriculture, women’s affairs and community development to divide farmers into cooperative groups and link them to about 3,000 cooks who were trained and deployed to more than 1,500 schools. Farmers received training in seed quality and fertilisers to grow enough food to meet demand.

The cooks – who are responsible for procuring ingredients for the daily meals – are given a budget of 70 naira ($0.23) per child each day. With help from the state government, they received 57,000 naira ($188) in loans to purchase water drums, pots, bowls, uniforms, and cooking utensils.

“It gives me great joy to help in feeding the children in Baptist Primary School,” said Omole Imoleayo, who left a career in banking to join the programme. “We receive our payment without delays and I have more time for my family now.”

Sourcing foods locally helps millions of small farmers who produce up to 90 percent of Nigeria’s food but are mired in grinding poverty.

“This has created a well-structured market for the farmers since they now know how much to produce and when it is needed,” said Tinuola Shopeju, Ogun’s programme manager.

Shopeju said the initiative is a “perfect model” for addressing food insecurity and improving local agricultural production in Nigeria, which imports about $20bn worth of food annually.

The menu differs daily and every state adopts its own meal schedule. In Ogun, schoolchildren get rice, stewed fish, and beans but also delicacies such as Ikokore – a dish made from water yam.

Nigeria’s programme also offers health services including deworming children in public primary schools across 17 states. Adesanmi said worms affect the health of schoolchildren, potentially causing anaemia, malnourishment, and the impairment of mental and physical development.

“In the short term, children with worms may be too sick or tired to attend school or to concentrate. Basically, we do not want to feed worms, rather children,” she said.

Teachers in Ogun say the programme is not only helping young students stay in school, but also attracting those from private schools. Ogunkola Adefunke Deborah, headteacher of Baptist Nursery and Primary School, said her pupils now “come to classes regularly” and are “very punctual”.

“We have over 80 new pupils, most of them came from private schools,” she said. “Before you hardly see parents coming here, but now they come to ask us why their kids beg to be brought to school early and why they always return home with their pocket money.”

Deborah shared an anecdote of a boy who refused to go home even when he was sick because he didn’t want to miss a meal.

Rebecca Faronbi, 72, was devastated when her son died and left her with four grandchildren to take care of. Her three-year-old granddaughter now receives the free meals at school.

“Until the feeding programme started I was struggling to feed the children. My granddaughter wakes me up before 7am and tells me she wants to go to school because she will get free food there,” Faronbi said in the Yoruba language, which is widely spoken in southwestern Nigeria.

Rampant malnutrition
Research has shown that 42 percent of schoolchildren in Nigeria suffer malnutrition, and this has caused a high rate of absenteeism.

UNICEF estimates about 2.5 million Nigerian children under the age of five suffer from severe malnutrition each year, with about half a million children dying from it.

With a quality assurance tracking system known as #TrackWithUs, the programme handlers have urged Nigerians to visit nearby schools to check if meals meet the required standards and report any cooks who aren’t serving proper food.

Several cooks were fired in southern Cross River state last November for serving biscuits in lieu of meals.

“The campaign has helped us track activities in schools and strengthened our existing monitoring and supervision mechanism,” Adesanmi said. “Since there is a reward and sanction system in place we have been able to name and shame cooks who do not comply with our standards.”

A major barrier to the programme’s success is the inability of state governments to scale up the meals to senior classes in elementary schools. The federal government caters to pupils from Grades 1 to 3, but with many states struggling to pay salaries, pupils in higher grades are not being fed.

Experts hope the government will not repeat the same mistakes made a decade ago when a combination of inadequate funding, poor logistics, and corruption crippled the scheme.

“We need to promote community participation, community ownership, community implementation, community monitoring, strong institutional arrangements and multi-sector partnerships,” Adesanmi said.

Mischief Makers Open Fake Zahra Buhari Facebook Account

Femi Adesina, the president’s media adviser said the cloned account was the handiwork of mischief makers, who have taken the antics against the First Family to another level.

“Merchants of mischief have taken their antics against the first family further by creating a fake Facebook account in the name of Zahra, President Muhammadu Buhari’s daughter.

The fake account, conspicuously different from the authentic one, was used to post a message on April 17, 2018, at 9.07 a.m.

“A picture of President Buhari, with snowflakes all over him, and being welcomed to a foreign country was used, alongside this message:

“Children of God, here is a 75 years old man walking in the snow without cardigan just to rescue the battered economic status of Nigeria and some of you senseless people feel he travels too much, as if he travels for partying or merry making.

“God bless Nigeria. Please share…”

“The Presidency hereby repudiates the Facebook account, as it does not belong to Zahra. Members of the public are urged to be wary, and see through the intentions of those behind the fakery. They seek to attract odium to the first family, and also do not mean well for our country.”

Zahra married last year to Muhammed Indimi.

Senate President Urges Nigeria to Guard Democracy

The Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, on Friday urged Nigerians to guard the country’s democracy jealously and shun acts that could truncate it.

He gave the advice in Lagos while speaking at the 4th Anniversary Lecture of The Niche Newspapers.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the theme of the lecture is: “Development Reporting and Hysteria Journalism in Nigeria”.

Represented by Sen. Ben Murray-Bruce, Saraki said democracy was the best form of government and urged citizens to preserve it at all costs.

The Senate President pointed out that though the system was yet to be perfect, democracy was still the best way to realise the country’s development aspirations.

“We must preserve democracy at all costs. It is the duty of everyone, all the citizens of the country.

“No matter the problems we are facing, democracy is still the best form of government to guarantee development “, he said.

Saraki said the media had contributed to the survival of democracy in the country through agenda setting and playing the role of a watchdog.

He urged the media not to relent on its efforts at promoting the country’s development and making Nigeria a better place.

The Senate President described Wednesday’s invasion of the Senate and snatching of the mace by hoodlums as primitive and disgraceful.

He said the incident was an assault on the legislature and a threat to democracy and security.

Saraki, however, thanked the media for rising to the occasion by reporting the incident in real time, saying the intervention helped to highlight the threat.

The Saraki said media had a big role to play in leadership and urged it to always play its role to improve the Democratic process.

In his speech, a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank, Mr Kingsley Moghalu described the media as an essential component of the country’s development.

He, however, expressed the regret that the media had not been sufficiently playing the role of promoting development.

Moghalu said a good number of outlets focused on hysteria journalism which highlighted sensationalism rather than development.

Moghalu, who had a stint at Newswatch Magazine, said most media houses had deviated from development issues for political patronage.

He lamented that investigative journalism was dying in the country, saying that was not good for the country’s development.

“One of the major ways in which the media can play the role of a catalyst in social transformation is through investigative journalism.

“By uncovering evidence of malfeasance and shedding light on social olds, journalists can influence public discourse in a major way.

“There is so much that is wrong with our country today and a vibrant tradition of investigative reporting can help change this “, he said.

He decried the focus of media organisations on sports and entertainment and said there was the need to do more on real news for development.

Moghalu acknowledged that the media was challenged in many ways but still urged it not to abdicate its responsibilities owing to challenges.

In a brief remark, a legal luminary, Prof. Ben Nwabueze, said citizens’ participation was essentially to strengthen democracy.

He, therefore, urged Nigerians to participate actively in the 2019 elections to elect leaders of their choice.

A former presidential aspirant of the KOWA party, Prof. Remi Sonaiya, commended the media for its role in national development.

She, however, said the media was not doing enough in giving balanced coverage for aspirants for elective offices.

She said the media focused more on the candidates of the major parties during the 2015 elections and did not bother about others.

“The media should give everyone equal coverage. That is the only way to present different options to the Nigerian people “.she said.

The President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, Mrs Funke Egbemode said the media industry was facing a lot of crisis at the moment.

She listed the problems of the industry as poor patronage, declining advertising revenues and high operating costs and declining professionalism.

Egbemode said most organisations were just struggling to survive and that that had affected the capacity of the industry to function as efficiently as expected.

“It is bad news that there are even worse days ahead for the industry’ ’she said.

She said the hysteria journalism being practised was as a result of the problems in the society.

The media practitioner said the news people read was a reflection of the society, adding the media should not be blamed for that.

Speaking the Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress in Lagos, Mr Joe Igbokwe said the media was key to the development of the nation.

He, however, urged the media to respond to the trends in the industry in order to remain relevant.

On the looters list released by the APC, he said the action was taken to discourage corruption.

He said those who looted the country were going about with bold faces, saying there was the need to let them know they had a price to pay.

“You can take our money and go about with a bold face. The list is, therefore, to discourage and reduce corruption “, he said.

He urged Nigerians of all regions not to look down on one another, saying reciprocal respect for peoples across region was good for unity.

He said President Muhammadu Buhari has acquitted himself well as leader of the country.

In his welcome address, the Editor in Chief of the Niche Newspaper, Mr Ikechukwu Ameachi, said the lecture was organised annually to discuss issues that affect the country with a view to proffering solutions.

Research Collaboration: Fountain Varsity VC Visits Duke University



By Nofisat Marindoti

The Vice Chancellor of Fountain University, Prof. Amidu  Sanni, has left the shores of the country to finalise talks on research collaboration between the university and Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.


It would be recalled that the two universities had earlier begun a bilateral talks on research collaboration, transfer of technologies and donation of medical equipment from the Durham, USA based institution.


The Vice Chancellor is also deliver the Duke Islamic Studies Centre Lecture for 2018.


According to the Duke University’s website, the lecture titled Boko Haram in Nigeria: Issues in Ideological and Creedal (Mis)interpretations would be delivered at the Rubeinstein Library Carpenter Conference Room 249.


The lecture would focus on rhetorical tactics and strategies of the dreaded Boko Haram terror group.


The Vice Chancellor since his assumption of office, has initiated different means of boosting the visibility of the University, aiming to make the faith-based ivory towers an institution of first choice in Nigeria and beyond.



{HEALTH MATTERS} Caesarian Section: Physician Counsels Against Attaching Spiritual Attacks



Women who are fearful of undergoing Caesarian Section [CS] to give birth to their babies have been advised to as much as possible do away with any fears associated with the procedure, as it is perfectly normal and due to advances in medical and surgical sciences the risks associated with the procedure have been minimally cut.

Dr. Sunday Ojenuwah, a Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at the LifeLine Specialist Hospital, Ibadan stated this during a telephone interview with this medium recently.

The physician, described CS as a medical procedure through which pregnant women who cannot give birth through the natural process of the baby passing through the birth canal are assisted to deliver through surgical procedure of opening the womb, bringing out the baby and closing up the womb again.

He noted that what professionals encounter in the field has been that when expectant mothers start attending antenatal sessions in the hospital, some issues may arise which propelled that the parents are notified that there was need for a planned birth because the mother may not be able to give birth naturally.

“Many reasons may lead a physician to counsel expectant mothers on the necessity for a CS procedure.

“It may be due to the fact that, the pelvic is too narrow, the baby is too big, the baby is a ‘precious baby’, the mother is too sickly, the mother is anaemic, obesity, as a result of unplanned emergencies, ignorance on the part of the expectant mother and so on.

“The problem here is that we attach too much spirituality to this issue. CS is such a simple procedure now that from conception to birth, the parents of the new baby can plan for the procedure and under one week after the procedure, both mother and child are out of the medical facility for good.

“Parents in our society attach evil attacks and bad luck to this procedure which is supposed to in many ways be an elective procedure, that is parents even willingly plan for it”.

Ojenuwah also revealed that in times past, a woman was counseled to stop all pregnancies after the third CS but advances in the procedure has made it possible to carry out four CS without any complications.

He called on expectant mothers to cast away the fear and ignorance associated with CS and urged them to approach the procedure with optimism as it was one of the advances with which medical science had been able to reduce and defeat maternal and child mortality.

And as per the pain associated with surgery referred to as post operative pains, he advised that once the affected mother take all the pain medication the doctor recommends on schedule, take adequate rest and exercise appropriately, things would be in good shape.

According to him, the exercise should involve walking as soon as possible after the CS as this can prevent blood clot, speed bowel recovery and boost comfort levels.

Senate Working To Grow Digital Financial Technology In Nigeria – Saraki

The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has assured that the Senate is working to ensure the growth of digital Financial Technology (FinTech) popularly known as digital financing in Nigeria.

According to a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Sanni Onogu, in Abuja, he gave the assurance while speaking before the Africa Finance Forum, organized by the Corporate Council on Africa, at this year’s Spring Meeting of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) holding in Washington D.C.

He said the Senate is desirous to see Nigerian banks expand with capacities to create opportunities for financial services penetration as well as support for enterprises, adding that the Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions is engaged in legislative interventions to ensure financial inclusion for all, “especially in the rural areas where a large percentage still remains unbanked by bridging services between the banking and telecommunications sectors.”

“The net impact of our legislative interventions; through the relevant Committee’s oversight and engagement will be to expand the ability of our banking sector to facilitate digital financing, expand the opportunity for financial services penetration and reach with the SMEs, and for enterprise support.

“We believe that these will give a fillip to the development of innovation and private sector capacity across the country. You will agree with me that innovation is the engine that powers financial inclusion. We are therefore working assiduously to encourage innovation in the FinTech space in Nigeria, and we shall continue to do so,” he said.

The lawmaker noted that challenges militating against the growth of FinTech in Nigeria include (but not limited to) issues about consumer protection, intellectual property, concerns about money laundering and fraudulent activity.

“FinTech growth requires us to pay attention to all of these, and to come up with regulatory frameworks that will safeguard our people.

“Therefore, as we seek to improve the business environment for SMEs and tech entrepreneurs in Nigeria, we are also committed to passing legislation that strikes a balance between facilitating the sector and maintaining a secure financial system.

“We are continuously working to reframe our payment systems, strengthen mechanisms for electronic commerce, reduce non-performing loans and strengthen the credit market for SMEs through a broad range of legislative interventions,” he said.

Mr Saraki announced that the Senate has continued its legislative interventions by passing the Electronic Transactions Act; the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (Repeal and Re-Enactment) Bill; the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission Act.

He said while the Consumer Protection Commission Act creates a Consumer Protection Commission to safeguard consumers from fraud and price manipulation; the Consumer Credit Agency Act allows lenders to better assess the credit worthiness of loan applicants.

“The Credit Reporting Act, which has been signed into law, will enable the market reduce credit delinquencies, serve as a behaviour change and institutional framework that brings sanity into the credit community which will inspire confidence in the Nigerian market by drawing in more participants.

“The Secure Transactions in Movable Assets is the signature bill in our support of SMEs,” Mr Saraki stated. “It frees up capital and creates opportunity for the funding of SME ventures as never seen before in Nigeria.”

“With this law, we have created a new stream of opportunity for SMEs to access capital by using movable goods including small machinery, cell phones and even household items as collateral. The implication of this is enormous in terms of dealing with capital formation and poverty eradication.

“Our work is not exhaustive and will continue to adapt to changes that innovation in technology brings.

“We are confident in the signals we are sending to the world, that Nigeria fully intends to key into the astronomical growth of the FinTech industry – and to harness its full potential for the benefit of the largest economy in Africa; and we welcome any partnerships that ensure that this happens.

He commended the Corporate Council on Africa for convening the event and its inspired focus on the FinTech environment on the African continent, and emphasized that the Senate will continue to encourage innovation in the Financial Technology (FinTech) space in Nigeria.

UPDATE: Witness Testifies To Maryam Sanda Killing Husband

One of the prosecuting witnesses in the case against Maryam Sanda who was accused of stabbing her husband Bilyaminu Bello, son of ex-PDP chairman, Haliru Bello, to death in November last year has revealed to the court how Maryam stabbed the deceased multiple times leading to his death.

While being led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, James Idachaba, Ibrahim Mohammed a businessman and a friend of the deceased, told the court how the incident occurred on the night of November 18, 2017 while he was paying the couple a visit. He said Maryam had on the night of the incident, threatened to cut off the manhood of the deceased unless she was divorced that night.

He said himself and Bilyaminu were smoking ‘Shisha’ and watching TV when Maryam came down to call Bil who answered her call and while they were upstairs, he heard noise from upstairs before Maryam sent Sadiya (the fourth defendant) to call him.

“When I got there, I saw both Maryam and Bilyaminu holding each other’s cloth on the neck. I asked what was happening and pleaded that they stop this.  Maryam told me to tell Bilyaminu to divorce her. I told her they should exercise patience and stop fighting. She said she was not going anywhere until he divorced her.”

Mohammed said Maryam picked a bottle by the side of the door and broke it on the wall.

“She came straight to Bilyaminu to stab him. I held her hands and Bilyaminu went behind her and collected the broken bottle from her hands and went downstairs. I closed the door and continued to advise Maryam that they should stop fighting. She said she would not stop until Bilyaminu divorced her that night; that either he divorced her or she would cut his private part. While pleading with her, Bilyamin entered the bedroom and Maryam followed him, insisting that he should divorce her that night but Bilyamin kept silent.”

Muhammed said Maryam thereafter took one of the containers of scent and broke it on the table and approached Bilyamin to stab him but the deceased held her hand and collected the container and they started hitting each other, before Bilyamin pushed her to the bed and went downstairs but Maryam followed him downstairs. While he was sitting in their living room, Maryam entered the kitchen and took a knife, which he said he collected from her hand, adding that she later took up a table knife, which he also collected from her hands.

“She attempted picking the knife for about three or four times,” he added.

Mohammed said he left the couple’s home at about 1am but was later called by Abbah, the brother of the deceased to come to the Hospital.

“Abbah Bello (a brother to the deceased) called me about 1 hour later that I should come to Maitama Hospital because Bilyaminu was dead. I went there and met Bilyaminu lying on a bed in front of the hospital. There was a hole in his chest near the heart, bite on his stomach. There was a cut on his thigh and there was a sign of stitching on him,” he said.

Mohammed said both families of the couple were at the hospital, adding that they left from there to the police station after the corpse was taken to the mortuary. He added that while going to the station, Maryam’s mother and brother (Maimuna Aliyu and Aliyu Sanda) with a policeman in their car diverted to the couple’s house. He added that Usman Aliyu told him that they should follow them to the house to see what was happening there, adding that Maimuna and Aliyu went upstairs, while the policeman was in front of the car.

“Usman Aliyu and I entered the sitting room and observed that everything was normal as we left it. When we looked at where Bilyaminu prayed, there was a pair of slippers and praying mat. On a closer look, we discovered that the window blind had come down.”

Under cross-examination by counsels for the defendants: Joseph Daudu (SAN); Rotimi Ogunesan (SAN); A .T. Kehinde (SAN) and Olusegun Jolaawo, the witness told the court that he left the deceased performing ablution when he was leaving his house that night. When he was asked if Maryam threatened to kill the deceased all through the fights, Mohammed  said she did not state so, adding, however, that, “Maryam said she would cut his private part.”

The trial judge, Justice Yusuf Halilu, adjourned the case to May 15 and 16 for continuation of hearing.


Army Explains Why Benue Community Was Razed


The Nigerian Army has explained what led to the burning down of a Benue community by its troops on Wednesday, saying the attack followed the killing of one soldier by some residents.

The soldier was allegedly buried in a shallow grave a day before, but the apparent reprisal by the army resulted in the death of one elderly citizen who was killed in the blaze.

Pictures of his charred body covered in soot was sent to newsmen.

There were reports of the attack by irate soldiers who stormed Naka, the headquarters of Gwer West Local Government Area, burning down residential buildings and commercial stores. Properties and goods, especially cash crops, estimated in millions were destroyed during the incident.

Francis Ayagah, chairman of the local government, had told journalists on Thursday afternoon that Nigerian soldiers were responsible for the arson.

He acknowledged that a soldier was killed in the community on Wednesday, but said he had been in touch with the commander of the troops, who were stationed near the town to check ongoing killings linked to herdsmen across Benue State.

The soldier was said to have been alone when he was killed in unclear circumstances Wednesday afternoon.

One account said he was roaming on a farmland near the community and was lynched by hoodlums who mistook him for an attack. There have been reports that some killers were sighted in military fatigues in the state over the past week.

Another account said the slain soldier went to buy bread in large quantity in the community and when asked to identity himself by curious residents, he declined to do so and was subsequently assumed to be an attacker and mobbed to death.

Mr Ayagah said five suspects had been arrested based on information received from the Army, expressing his dismay that the soldiers could still embark on a rampage across the town despite his cooperation.

SHOCKING: One Nigerian Dies Every 2 Minutes From Stroke

A shocking discovery has been revealed that at least one person dies every two minutes in Nigeria from stroke.

Nigeria’s first female neurologist, Prof. Njideka Okubadejo, disclosed this at her Inaugural Lecture at the University in Lagos.

The lecture was titled “Strokes of Movement and Trips: Strategic Opportunism as An Approach to Improve Neurological Care in Africa”. According to her, the estimated stroke mortality rate in Nigeria is between 120 and 240 per 100,000 population.

“Extrapolated to our current estimated population of approximately 184 million, according to www.population.gov.ng, this translates to about 281,520 deaths annually,” she said.

Okubadejo said “a stroke is a medical emergency in which the flow of blood to a portion of the brain stops suddenly.

“Brain cells are dependent on oxygen within the blood and without this, start to die after a few minutes, hence the maxim, ‘Time is Brain.

“Stroke symptoms reflect the area of the brain that has been injured and although recovery is possible, particularly with early intervention.

“Strokes can result in lasting brain damage, long-term disability or even death,’’ she said.

She explained that there were two types of strokes; the Ischaemic, which the blood flow is blocked, and the Haemorrhagic, which the blood vessel breaks open or ruptures, leaking blood and damaging brain cells, due to pressure effect.

The neurologist explained on the sidelines of the lecture that addressing risk factors that cause stroke was the best way of preventing it.

“The important thing to note is that some strokes will not give you the opportunity to get to the hospital.

“But addressing the risk factors, particularly the strongest factor, hypertension, will reduce the number of people that die from stroke everyday.

“If you have hypertension, pay attention to ensuring that your hypertension is treated and that your blood pressure is well controlled,” she advised.

The don said that other factors that causes stroke included diabetes mellitus, heart disease and social factors like smoking, drug abuse and heavy alcohol consumption.


Liberia’s Jungle Jabbah Sentenced To 30 Years In Prison

51 year-old Mohammed Jabbateh who is popularly known as “Jungle Jabbah” has been sentenced to 30 years in prison by a U.S. court.

The Liberian Warlord was sentence for gaining U.S. asylum by lying about his role in the civil war in his homeland and atrocities he committed, prosecutors said on Friday. He lived in East Lansdowne, Pennsylvania, since the late 1990s, was found guilty
in October on two counts of fraud in immigration documents and two counts of perjury.

During the height of Liberia’s first civil war from 1992 to 1995, Jabbateh, while serving as commander of a warring group, either personally committed or ordered acts such as rapes, ritual cannibalism, mutilation, murder and the use of child soldiers, according to prosecutors.

An attorney for Jabbateh, Greg Pagano of Philadelphia, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Prosecutors said while applying for asylum in December 1998, Jabbateh was not truthful about his membership in the group known as the United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy (ULIMO), and later ULIMO-K, rebel groups that battled for control of Liberia.

Two dozen witnesses, including 17 Liberian victims, testified in the trial.

According to testimony, in one instance Jabbateh ordered that the heart of a captive be cooked and fed to his fighters. In another, fighters under his command murdered a villager, removed his heart and ordered the town chief’s wife to cook it.

Jabbateh later had the town chief himself murdered and ordered his widow to cook her husband’s heart.

During Jabbateh’s trial Pagano said Jabbateh had been framed by accusers who were desperate to blame anyone they could for atrocities committed during the civil war.

“These are tall tales of enemies settling old scores – not because they had personal experiences with him but because of what group he’s identified with,” Pagano said at the trial, according to a posting on his website.

“There is no greater motive than revenge.”

The case was investigated by special agents of Homeland Security Investigations, an arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.


Ramaphosa Cuts UK Visit Short Over Protests

The President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa has cut short his Britain visit due to crises arising in his country’s North West province.

According to reports there has been protest in the North West province over jobs, better housing, roads and hospitals. Protesters have also frequently clashed with security operatives.

This would be the first crises Ramaphosa’a will experience since he took power in February in a country faced with weak economic growth and near-record unemployment.

The latest protests erupted on Wednesday with residents demanding that the province’s Premier Supra Mahumapelo, a member of Ramaphosa’s ruling African National Congress party, step down.

Ramaphosa called for calm, ordered police to exercise maximum restraint and urged the aggrieved parties to express their grievances without resorting to violence.

He was due to return to South Africa on Friday from London, where he is leading a delegation to a Commonwealth summit.

“The president will return to Pretoria,” the president’s office said in a statement.

South African media reported that a bus was set alight, vehicles stoned and roads blockaded by protesters calling for Mahumapelo to quit because of a failure to adequately deliver services.

Police fired teargas to disperse the crowds.

Botswana’s government said on Thursday it had closed exit points to South Africa’s North West province, where the two countries share a border.

The troubled province lies 300 km west of South Africa’s commercial hub Johannesburg.