Nigerian To Spend 18 Years In Vietnam Jail

A Southern Vietnam court has sentenced a Nigerian to 18 years in prison over a fake customs enforcement scam, state media reported on Friday.

A local media reported that Michael Ikechukwu Leonard, 45, was convicted on Thursday of “deceiving others to steal their assets” in a scam which targeted wealthy Vietnamese women.

The court in Can Tho city determined that Leonard gained his victims’ trust on messaging apps using various alter egos, including a U.S. army officer.

The convict was said to have promised to send his victims valuable presents, including laptops and jewellery from the U.S.

Local accomplices, Huynh Ha Binh, Huynh Ha Uyen and Nguyen Tran Quynh Nhi, would then contact the women claiming to be customs agents and demand fees or fines for the non-existent shipments.

They successfully conned a woman in Can Tho out of 28,500 dollars, leading to their arrest.

It is unclear how many women were duped by the gang in total.

Leonard’s accomplices received sentences ranging from 12 to 15 years.

NAN

Putin, Trump Discuss North Korea In Phone Call

Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump discussed the crisis over North Korea’s nuclear program in a phone call Thursday, in which the US president took the unusual step of thanking his Russian counterpart for praising America’s economy.

The two heads of state discussed “the situation in several crisis zones, with a focus on solving the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula,” the Kremlin said in a statement, without elaborating.

The White House said the two “discussed working together to resolve the very dangerous situation in North Korea.”

But Trump’s thanks to Putin took top billing in the US statement.

“President Trump thanked President Putin for acknowledging America’s strong economic performance in his annual press conference,” it said.

Earlier in the day, Putin told his press conference: “Look at how the markets are reacting, they are growing. This shows confidence in the American economy. With all due respect to (Trump’s) opponents, these are objective facts.”

The pair have lavished praise on each other in the past, with commentators describing their cozy relationship as a “bromance.”

Special counsel Robert Mueller is currently investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow to tilt the White House race in his favor.

Washington this week said it was ready to talk to North Korea — which has launched several intercontinental ballistic missiles in recent months — “without preconditions.”

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that while the Trump administration was still determined to force Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear arsenal, it was willing to “have the first meeting without preconditions.”

Putin, in his annual press conference with hundreds of journalists in Moscow, welcomed the United States’ “awareness of reality” in the crisis.

However, he called on all sides to “stop aggravating the situation” and said Moscow did not recognize North Korea’s status as a nuclear power.

AFP

Buhari Departs Nigeria For Paris

President Muhammadu Buhari will leave for Paris, France on Monday to join 50 other world leaders to participate in the One Planet Summit on Tuesday.

The President, who will be accompanied by the governors of Adamawa, Kano and Ondo States, and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Environment. He will return to Abuja on Thursday.

The summit is jointly organised by the United Nations, the World Bank Group, and the French Government in partnership with non-governmental organisations.

The summit which concerns reversing the negative effects of climate change, will take place at the eco-friendly La Seine Musicale, situated on the picturesque Seguin Island in western Paris.

The theme of the summit is “Climate Change Financing.” .

According to the organisers, the summit will “innovatively pool public and private finance to support and accelerate our common efforts to fight climate change”.

While recognising that all countries are affected by the effects of climate change under “One Planet”, but some are more vulnerable, organisers noted.

The summit seeks for tangible collective action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

A statement by Mr Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President (Media & Publicity), said President Buhari will attend a lunch hosted by President Emmanuel Macron of France for Heads of State and Governments at the Elysee Palace.

President Buhari and other world leaders and participants will make presentations under four sub-themes.

They are Scaling-up Finance for Climate Action; Greening Finance for Sustainable Business; Accelerating Local and Regional Climate Action; and Strengthening Policies for Ecological and Inclusive Transition.

President Buhari signed the Paris Agreement on Climate Change at the side-lines of the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 22, 2016.

He noted then that the country’s signature “demonstrated Nigeria’s commitment to global efforts to reverse the effects of the negative trend”.

He followed that significant step by signing the Instrument of Ratification of the Paris Agreement on March 28, 2017 at the State House, Abuja, making Nigeria the 146th party to the Paris Treaty.

It became binding on the country effective June 15, 2017, one month after the submission of the Ratification instrument to the United Nations on May 16, 2017 by Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Prof. Tijjani Bande.

The participation of Nigeria’s delegation at the One Planet Summit will reinforce the country’s commitment to realising the objectives of the Paris Agreement.

Thousands Protest In Jakarta Against Trump’s Jerusalem Move

Thousands of Indonesian Muslims protested Sunday in Jakarta against US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, in the latest global show of solidarity with the Palestinians.

Demonstrators many in white Islamic robes and skullcaps gathered outside the US embassy in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country to vent their anger against the unilateral decision.

Protesters carried Palestinian flags and banners saying “We are with the Palestinians” and “Pray for Palestine”.

The rally in Indonesia’s capital drew a crowd of at least 5,000 people, police said.

Trump’s move on Wednesday to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital upended decades of American diplomacy, causing an overwhelming global diplomatic backlash and sparking Palestinian protests and clashes with Israeli security forces.

The status of Jerusalem is deeply sensitive for Muslims, and protesters have taken to the streets in cities across the world following the policy shift.

Indonesian president Joko Widodo said Thursday he “condemned” Trump’s decision on Jerusalem, and ordered the US ambassador in Jakarta to be summoned over the move.

The Islamist Prosperous Justice Party, or PKS — which organised the Jakarta rally and several others around the country — slammed Trump’s decision as a declaration of “hostility to Muslims throughout the world.”

AFP

Israel Pounds Gaza Strip In Response To Hamas Rockets

Israel launched fresh airstrikes in the Gaza Strip on Saturday in response to rocket fire from the enclave and the Palestinian Islamist Hamas group said two of its gunmen were killed in the bombings.

Militants fired at least three rockets toward Israeli towns from the Hamas-controlled strip on Friday, which was declared a “day of rage” by Palestinian factions protesting U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

“Israeli Air Force aircraft targeted four facilities belonging to the Hamas terror organisation in the Gaza Strip.

“They are two weapons manufacturing sites, a weapons warehouse, a military compound,” the Israeli military said in a statement.

A Hamas source confirmed the two men killed in the strikes belonged to the group which urged Palestinians to keep up confrontation with Israeli forces.

Two more Palestinians were killed in clashes with Israeli troops on the Gaza border on Friday and scores more were wounded there and in the occupied West Bank during the protests.

Across the Arab and Muslim worlds, thousands more protesters took to the streets on the Muslim holy day to express solidarity with the Palestinians and outrage at Trump’s reversal of decades of U.S. policy.

Trump’s announcement on Wednesday has infuriated the Arab world and upset Western allies. The status of Jerusalem has been one of the biggest obstacles to a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians for generations.

Israel considers all of Jerusalem to be its capital.

Palestinians want the eastern part of the city as the capital of a future independent state of their own.

Most countries consider East Jerusalem, which Israel annexed after capturing it in the 1967 Middle East War, to be occupied territory.

It includes the Old City, home to sites considered holy to Muslims, Jews and Christians alike.

For decades, Washington, like most of the rest of the international community, held back from recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, saying its status should be determined as part of the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.

The Trump administration argues that the peace process has become moribund, and outdated, as such policies need to be jettisoned for the sides in the conflict to make progress.

Trump also said he would fulfil his campaign promise and begin the process of moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, where no other country has an embassy.

Reuters

45,000 Pro-Catalan Protest In Brussel

A sea of around 45,000 pro-Catalonia protesters demonstrated in Brussels on Thursday to show support for the region’s deposed president Carles Puigdemont and urge the EU to support its drive for independence from Spain.

Demonstrators chanted “Wake up Europe!” and waved Catalonia’s red, yellow and blue Estelada separatist flag as they marched past the European Union headquarters in the Belgian capital.

“We cannot abandon our president, who is in exile here,” Antoni Llenas, 59, a protester wearing a flag over his shoulders, told AFP. “We are here to continue the struggle for our independence and to ask for the freedom of our political prisoners.”

Belgian police said on Twitter that there were an estimated 45,000 protesters, more than double the 20,000 that organisers said they originally expected. The rally began peacefully, according to AFP reporters on the scene.

Puigdemont and four former ministers fled to Brussels in November, saying they wanted to take their cause to the European level after Spain charged them with sedition and rebellion over Catalonia’s independence referendum in October.

On Monday, the Spanish government dropped a European arrest warrant for the five, but Puigdemont said he would stay put for now as they still face arrest in Spain if they return for regional polls in Catalonia that Madrid has called for December 21.

Protesters arrived in a stream of coaches and camper vans with Spanish registration plates, and gathered in the Cinquantenaire Park in the city’s European quarter before the start of the march at 1030 GMT.

Children and families were among those who began the march in high spirits despite the cold and rain.

Their route is taking them past the headquarters of the European Commission and they will end up in a square between the European Council and European Parliament.

The EU has strongly backed the Spanish government over the Catalan issue, saying that it is an internal matter for Madrid.

AFP

BBC Features #ENDSARS

This year’s most trending issues #ENDSARS campaign which has been branded ‘politically motivated’ by the police who claim criminals are behind the campaign has been featured on BBC.

Read the report below:

An online campaign against police brutality has gone viral in Nigeria. The hashtag #EndSARS started trending over the weekend after a post claiming a young man was shot by the police’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad, known as Sars.

On Saturday, a user with the handle @YabaKid claimed to have seen officers from the Special Anti-Robbery Squad shoot a boy in the head in front of him.

The user had been tweeting with the hashtag #EndSARS for many months but in the past few days thousands of others have responded with their own stories of police brutality. Many claimed to have been held at gunpoint, arrested without charge, forced to pay bribes and even shot by officers from the unit.

Well-known musician Simi claimed she and a group of friends were held at gunpoint by Sars officers for – as she put it – “laughing”. Thousands of Twitter users are now calling for the unit to be disbanded.

In response to the campaign, the inspector general of police said he had ordered a complete re-organisation of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad. He also called for an “instant investigation” into all the allegations and complaints levelled against the unit.

 

President Donald Trump Recognize Jerusalem As Israel’s Capital

Senior U.S officials have said President Donald Trump on Wednesday will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and set in motion the relocation of the U.S. Embassy to the ancient city.

The decision would upend decades of U.S. policy and risks fueling violence in the Middle East.

Facing an outcry of opposition from Arab capitals, Trump, in a landmark speech, will announce he has ordered the State Department to begin developing a plan to move the embassy from Tel Aviv in what is expected to be a process that takes three to four years, the officials said.

He will not set a timetable for the move.

Trump will sign a national security waiver that authorizes him to delay the embassy relocation for now since the U.S. diplomats do not yet have a building in Jerusalem to move into, security arrangements or housing for diplomats, the officials said.

Still, Trump’s endorsement of Israel’s claim to all of Jerusalem as its capital would reverse long-standing U.S. policy that the city’s status must be decided in negotiations with the Palestinians.

The Palestinian wants East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

The international community does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the entire city, home to sites holy to the Muslim, Jewish and Christian religions.

The officials, who briefed reporters ahead of Trump’s speech at 1 p.m. EST (1800 GMT) on Wednesday, insisted that Trump’s decision, intended to fulfill a key campaign promise.

The officials said it was not meant to pre-judge the outcome of eventual talks on the final status of Jerusalem or other major disputes between the two sides.

Instead, one of the officials contended that Trump’s announcements reflected the “historic reality” of Jerusalem as the centre of Jewish faith and the “modern reality” that it is the seat of the Israeli government.

Such arguments are not likely to sway the Palestinians and the broader Arab world.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Jordan’s King Abdullah, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, all received telephone calls from Trump on Tuesday.

They, however, joined a mounting chorus of voices warning that unilateral U.S. steps on Jerusalem would derail a fledgeling U.S.-led peace effort that has stymied previous U.S. administrations and unleash turmoil in the region.

The White House said Trump had also spoken with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a close U.S. ally and longtime proponent of a U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem.

Netanyahu was the only leader whose office did not release a statement following the call.

A senior Israeli minister welcomed Trump’s decision while vowing that Israel would be prepared for any outbreak of violence.

Trump appears intent on satisfying the pro-Israel, right-wing base, including evangelical Christians, that helped him win the presidency but was disappointed when he delayed the embassy move in June.

No other country has its embassy in Jerusalem.

Israel captured Arab East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war and later annexed it, an action not recognized internationally.

But Trump’s decision could also upset the peace effort led by his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, in pursuit of what the U.S. president has called the “ultimate deal”.

Still, internal deliberations over the status of Jerusalem were tense.

Vice President Mike Pence and David Friedman, U.S. ambassador to Israel, pushed hard for both recognition and embassy relocation.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis opposed the move from Tel Aviv, according to other U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

An impatient Trump finally weighed in, telling aides last week he wanted to keep his campaign promise.

 

US Supreme Court Back Trump’s Travel Ban

The US Supreme Court said Monday that the government could fully enforce a revised ban on travelers from six mainly Muslim countries pending appeal, backing President Donald Trump in the year-long battle over the controversial measure.

The court stayed October rulings from two lower courts that had blocked implementation of the ban on visitors from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen while legal challenges to it continued.

The third version of Trump’s travel ban, unveiled in September, drew immediate challenges in federal appeals courts in Richmond, Virginia and San Francisco, California.

Plaintiffs argued that the measure targets Muslims in violation of the US Constitution and did not advance security goals as the government claimed.

The challengers convinced the lower courts to put implementation on hold while they and government lawyers fight out the legality of the policy.

But the Trump administration, which says the ban is crucial to protect US national security and deter terror attacks, secured strong support from the Supreme Court in a 7-2 vote to let the government move ahead while the appeals continue.

“We are not surprised by today’s Supreme Court decision permitting immediate enforcement of the President’s proclamation limiting travel from countries presenting heightened risks of terrorism,” the White House said.

“The proclamation is lawful and essential to protecting our homeland. We look forward to presenting a fuller defense of the proclamation as the pending cases work their way through the courts,” it added.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, criticized the ruling.

“This decision ignores the very real human consequences to American citizens and their families abroad imposed by President Trump’s Muslim Ban 3.0,” said CAIR National Litigation Director Lena Masri.

The Supreme Court justices said they expect the lower appeals courts to expedite their decisions, leaving open the possibility that the policy could return to the Supreme Court in yet another legal challenge to the White House.

The San Francisco court will hear the case on Wednesday and the Richmond court on Friday.

– Open-ended ban –

The ban also covers people from North Korea and a selection of senior officials from Venezuela, but its main focus is travelers from the six mainly Muslim countries.

Trump has battled to implement a travel ban since just after he became president on January 20, after having repeatedly promised during last year’s election campaign to ban all Muslims from entering the United States.

Those promises have undermined the administration’s argument in a series of court challenges that its policy is not Muslim-focused but rather based on security needs.

After Monday’s court ruling the Department of Homeland Security said: “the administration’s common sense travel restrictions on countries that do not meet basic security standards and do not share critical information with us about terrorists and criminals are designed to defend the homeland and keep Americans safe.”

The initial ban was to be for 90 days, ostensibly to give the US and the targeted countries time to implement tougher and more thorough vetting procedures for visitors.

After rolling court battles, the 90 day ban was finally allowed in June. Meanwhile, vetting for US-bound travelers from every country has intensified.

But when the six-country ban expired in September, the administration sought to replace it with an open-ended ban, with Chad added to the list while Sudan was removed, and North Korea and Venezuela appended as well.

Immigration and civil rights activists maintain it still essentially targets Muslims, which would violate the US Constitution’s guarantees of religious rights.

When Trump last week retweeted three video clips from an extremist British group that vilified Muslims, his critics said it supported the idea that his immigration policies were anti-Muslim.

“President Trump’s anti-Muslim prejudice is no secret — he has repeatedly confirmed it, including just last week on Twitter,” said Omar Jadwat, director of the Immigrants’ Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union.

“It’s unfortunate that the full ban can move forward for now, but this order does not address the merits of our claims. We continue to stand for freedom, equality, and for those who are unfairly being separated from their loved ones.”

AFP

A Letter To My Fresher Self: Surviving Cambridge As A Black Girl

By Ore Ogunbiyi

When you walk into your first supervision, you will probably be the only black girl in the room. Get used to it, because it won’t get much better. But don’t let that scare you and, more importantly, don’t let anyone make you feel small or misplaced. Don’t be silent in attempts to assuage your white peers and supervisors. You’ve earned your place there, so make your presence known. Don’t ever feel the need to make yourself palatable, or bitesize. Instead, fill the room with examples of Nkrumah and Mobutu that your supervisor thinks are ‘adventurous’, and enjoy unpacking the racism in the works of Kant that your degree so glorifies. Their discomfort is not your problem.

You will have supervisors who will call you defensive and angry, and who will project their own prejudiced stereotypes onto you as you walk into the room. Cry in private, write a killer essay, and prove them wrong. You will also have supervisors who will understand and appreciate your need to veil your work in your own experiences, who will recognise its value and reward you for it. So, bathe every essay in black girl magic and write in resistance to the Eurocentrism of academia that did not see you coming.

It’s not always easy, though. The Black Jacobins you really want to read probably won’t be on your reading lists, you won’t find the support you need when you want to write your dissertation on Nigeria, and trying to go the extra mile to show your supervisors what a decolonised curriculum could look like will exhaust you. But where you can, do it anyway.

Don’t be surprised when your lecture on industrialisation makes no mention of slavery, or when your white friends don’t understand why that’s a problem. Don’t be afraid to ask the unnerving questions at the end of the lecture and leave them shook.

You will arrive and feel a pressure to be someone else. You won’t realise as you subconsciously try to play up to what you think a typical Cambridge student does. You’ll change your accent, go to events you know you don’t enjoy, and try to befriend people that aren’t like you in attempts to conform – but you’ll only be able to keep this up for so long. When the real you resurfaces and you find the courage to admit to your new friends, and to yourself, that you actually hate Wednesday Cindies and VKs, you’ll be okay.

When you come back next term with braids, don’t let your housemates smell and touch your hair. It may take you a while to muster up the courage to tell people to stop, and to remind people that you are not some exotic creature to be caressed – but when you find the strength, do it anyway.

Oh. Boys? Don’t bother. Tell every aunty that is telling you that you are going to Cambridge to find yourself a husband, that much to their disappointment, it’s not going to happen. You’ll learn quickly that desirability is racialised and that not everyone loves your dark skin as much as you do, that society’s beauty standards don’t include people that look like you. So, when someone hits you with “you’re fit for a black girl”, tell them that’s not a compliment. You are beautiful, and to the people who don’t see that, even your own, let it be their loss. Find the beauty in your blackness in spite of the people who can’t.

Don’t forget that, regardless, you belong here. You’ll have people who think you are here to tick a ‘diversity’ box. You will also be asked time and time again whether or not you go to the other university in Cambridge because people will have a tough time conceptualising the fact that you could possibly have earned your place here. You won’t find people who look like you memorialised on the walls and that won’t make it any easier – but don’t forget that you belong.

You will stand out and be made conscious of your difference for your whole time here and not everyone will get it. Not everyone will get what it is about existing in Cambridge as a black girl that makes it difficult or why. You will meet a lot of people who proclaim they are ‘not racist’ but don’t recognise how their inaction makes them complicit, why you value safe spaces, or even why your experience of Cambridge is necessarily different. Remember that it isn’t your duty to lecture and to explain because the emotional labour will take its toll. You are not the appointed spokesperson for black people, and don’t feel the pressure to be.

Remember that you are not alone. Black women may be few and far between here, but find them, build a sisterhood and strengthen each other. Find shoulders to cry on because you will need them. Find support systems that work for you, and take solace in them. Communities like the African Caribbean Society will be there to make you feel at home again. Take time to look after yourself. Bake and cook jollof even amid the stress that tries to break you.

It will get better. I don’t know if that’s because you will become immune to the blows, or because you will get stronger – but it will get better. You’ll find ways to make Cambridge work for you and you will be fine. In fact, you’ll be more than fine. You’ll make friends for life, you’ll leave your mark and eventually, you’ll enjoy it.

Culled from Varsity Newspaper (Cambridge University)

Breaking: FG Provides Emergency Numbers For Nigerians In Libya

Following the jarring report by CNN about how Africans were being sold as slaves in Libya, The Federal Government has provided emergency numbers and email addresses for distressed Nigerians in Libya who may wish to contact the nation’s mission in Tripoli for assistance.

This is in addition to the evacuation service rendered to Nigerians who were stranded in the troubled state, a major gateway to Europe.

The spokesperson, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Tope Elias-Fatile, in a statement on Sunday in Abuja, explained that the numbers are available 24 hours to render assistance to any Nigerian in need.
The numbers are, +218910144487, +218925099384 and +218917953365. The email addresses for contacting the Embassy or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abuja are: [email protected] and [email protected]