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Kenya intensifies war against narcotics in coastal region amid escalating gang violence



Kenyan security personnel have intensified crackdown on narcotics trafficking amid mounting evidence of its link to gang violence that rocked the coastal city of Mombasa recently.

Fred Matiang’i, the cabinet secretary of Kenya’s Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government, announced the war against drugs trade during a tour of Mombasa to quell street violence linked to vicious control of the illicit business.

According to Matiang’i, narcotics trafficking is fueling crime and street violence in the coastal region to the detriment of the tourism sector that is a major source of employment.

“There is a clear nexus between the recent gang violence in Mombasa and fight over control of the drugs business.

“We will launch a ruthless crackdown on the drugs cartels that are sponsoring chaos in the coastal region,” said Matiang’i.

Shortly after Matiang’i visit to Mombasa, a raid on the palatial home of a suspected drug lord and tycoon was conducted by a multi-agency security team though he was said to be out of the country.

Ali Punjani, the narcotics kingpin, has been on the radar of local and foreign detectives since 2010 when he was mentioned in parliament for his alleged involvement in hard drugs by the then internal security minister George Saitoti.

Media reports indicated that more than 20 police officers raided Punjani’s palatial beach home on Monday and spent hours searching for narcotics using sniffer dogs.

Johnston Ipara, Mombasa County police commander, revealed that security officers were already having names of Punjani’s associates whom they were pursuing for arrest and interrogation on the drugs trade in the coast region.

Local media outlets reported that Punjani had been admitted at a hospital in India where he sought treatment for a heart-related condition.

He was in July mentioned at a New York courtroom by Indian national, Vijaygiri Goswami as a rival to renowned Mombasa-based narcotics kingpins, Baktash Akasha and Ibrahim Akasha.

The two Akasha brothers, who inherited a vast narcotics empire from their late father, are awaiting sentencing by a New York court.

Security officers insisted that the drug war will intensify across the country despite resistance from powerful individuals involved in the illicit trade that can attract life sentence.

A senior police officer attached to a station in Lamu Island that is a world heritage site was early this week arrested and detained after facilitating release of a drug peddler and his consignment worth 50,000 Kenyan shillings (500 U.S. dollars).

Muchangi Kioi, Lamu County police commander, said the arrest of the officer who had served at his new post for one and a half years, reaffirmed the government’s commitment to eradicating narcotics trafficking in the country.

Kenyan security officers have already heightened surveillance at ports of entry and major towns in their bid to nab drug traffickers.


(Edited by Emmanuel Yashim)



India’s CBI raids human rights watchdog amnesty international’s offices



The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday raided the premises of Amnesty International in Bengaluru over alleged irregularities in foreign funding.

India’s federal Home Ministry had revoked the watchdog’s license under the Foreign Currency Regulation Act in 2010.

The U.S.-based human rights watchdog, is critical of India’s federal nationalist government for alleged violations of citizens’ rights, has come to the attention of another national probe.

In September, the federal economic intelligence agency, Enforcement Directorate had issued notices to Amnesty for alleged contraventions of the foreign exchange act.

The organisation however denied the charges.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday raided the premises of Amnesty International in Bengaluru over alleged irregularities in foreign funding.

India’s federal Home Ministry had revoked the watchdog’s license under the Foreign Currency Regulation Act in 2010.

The U.S.-based human rights watchdog, is critical of India’s federal nationalist government for alleged violations of citizens’ rights, has come to the attention of another national probe.

In September, the federal economic intelligence agency, Enforcement Directorate had issued notices to Amnesty for alleged contraventions of the foreign exchange act.

The organisation however denied the charges.

Amnesty International has been critical of several policies of the Indian federal government over alleged human rights violations.

Following New Delhi’s decision to strip the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, the non-profit body had alleged that the government detained activists and politicians, without any charge or trial.

The federal Home Ministry has cancelled the licenses of about 1,300 volunteer organisations under the foreign funding regulations.

This included Greenpeace India, the Ford Foundation, several evangelist associations, right-wing charitable organisations, and educational institutes.

The action followed the failure of these organisations to file annual returns as mandated by law. (Sputnik/NAN)

Edited by Hadiza Mohammed/Ali Baba-Inuwa

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Ousted ambassador says she felt threatened by Trump



Ousted U.S ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testifies to Congress that she felt threatened by President, Donald Trump’s disparaging comments about her in a July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

She also describes how she was recalled from Kiev in  the middle of the night after being told by U.S officials they were no longer able to protect me, apparently under directions from the White House.

“It was terrible, it was not the way I wanted my career to end,’’ she says.

When asked if she felt threatened by Trump telling Zelensky that  she’s going to go through some things,’’ she says clearly: `I did.’

Asked for further reaction, she says she was shocked, appalled, devastated that the president of the U.S would talk about any ambassador like that to a foreign head of state.

“And it was me. I couldn’t believe it.’’

Edited by Halima Sheji

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Explosion at ammunition depot in Ukraine kills two sappers – General Staff



The spokesman for the Ukrainian General Staff Bogdan Senik on Friday confirmed that two sappers were killed in an explosion at an ammunition depot in Ukraine.

Senik said several people were injured in the explosion which happened during the liquidation of an ammunition depot in the city of Balakliya in eastern Ukraine.

“As a result of an explosion, four people, two servicemen and two armed forces’ employees have received injuries.’’

According to him, the injured received burns to soft body parts, and one of them has suffered a bone fracture. The victims have been hospitalised.

The General Staff reported earlier that about 20 explosions had occurred at the depot in the city of Balakliya during the liquidation of the ammunition. (Sputnik/NAN)

Edited by Hadiza Mohammed

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5 Saudi officials handed prison terms for corruption, bribery



Five Saudi officials have been sentenced to jail after they were convicted of bribery, wasting public funds, misusing power and acquiring illicit wealth, a statement said on Friday.

The five received sentences adding up to a total of up to 32 years.

The public prosecutors had gathered more than 300 pieces of evidence against the defendants and presented them to the court, the statement, published by the Saudi Press Agency, said.

They were also ordered to pay fines of more than nine million riyals (around 2.4 million dollars). The court also ordered the confiscation of funds in their personal bank accounts.

Among those convicted is an official who was arrested while taking a bribe to approve some irregular measures, besides participating in the falsification of documents.

He was sentenced to 12 years in jail and ordered to pay a fine of one million Royal.

Some commercial entities were also fined and banned from making deals with any public body for a certain period, the statement said.

In recent years, Saudi Arabia has vowed to crack down on corruption, as the kingdom’s powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman seeks to diversify the country’s economy and make it less dependant on oil.

Mohammed was seen as spearheading what Riyadh described as an anti-corruption drive in 2017 to 2018, when dozens of high-profile royals and former state officials were detained for three months.

Many reached financial settlements with the authorities, which the kingdom said were worth more than 100 billion dollars.

Edited by Halima Sheji/Maharazu Ahmed

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UN agency says extreme poverty, inequality remain Africa’s top challenges



The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) said on Friday that Eradicating extreme poverty and reducing existing inequality have remained the African continent’s biggest challenges.

Thokozile Ruzvidzo, Director of Gender, Poverty and Social Policy Division at the ECA made this known while addressing a high-level continental meeting of the committee on gender, poverty and social policy, in Addis Ababa.

“Eradicating extreme poverty and reducing inequality remain some of Africa’s biggest challenges,  which the ECA is trying to help member States tackle through various policy recommendations and actions,” Ruzvidzo told the meeting.

The policy which aimed at looking into the core role of the ECA’s newly-formed Gender, Poverty and Social Policy Division that was reformulated to address gender, poverty and social policy as key African priorities.

“Inspite of  strides the continent has made in reducing the incidence of poverty, under the current trajectory, it is unlikely that extreme poverty will be eradicated by 2030,’’ the ECA director said.

“Global extreme poverty is predominantly concentrated in Africa, and is declining much slower in the region compared to the rest of the world,’’ she added.

“In Africa, this megatrend has largely not been translated into diversification of the economy, structural transformation, and the creation of productive jobs away from substance agriculture, in manufacturing and modern services,’’ she said.

Figures from the ECA show that more than 50 per cent of urban residents in Africa live informally, increasing by 4.5 million annually and an estimated 210 million live under conditions of poverty in urban slums, excluding North Africa, a figure which is projected to rise to 256.4 million in 2020.

In half of African countries, less than 35 per cent of the population has access to improved sanitation facilities, less than 76 per cent has access to potable water, and the urban housing deficit stands at 20 billion U.S. dollars to 25 billion U.S. dollars, according to the ECA.

“These figures suggest that extreme poverty in Africa is moving from rural to urban areas,’’ the ECA said in a statement issued on the margins of the meeting, adding the situation is equally challenging in terms of inequality in the region.

“The interaction between poverty and inequality requires urgent attention in order to resolve human ill-being, fulfill everyone’s human rights, and achieve collective peace, prosperity, and genuine democracy,’’ Ruzvidzo said.

“Poverty and inequality do not only mean human deprivation, they often lead to social unrest and uprisings, growing radicalisation, worsening of polarisation within countries and communities, risks, and sometimes actual conflicts and wars,’’ she added.

According to the ECA, particularly relevant to the new priorities of the newly-formed Gender, Poverty and Social Policy Division is urbanisation.

The reformulated division is said to be home to sub-programs that seek to address emerging issues impacting the lives of African women and girls, promote and support African countries in their work to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment.

It also envisaged contributing to Africa achieving inclusive and equitable sustainable human and social development, it was noted.

“The principal rationale for its recent reform was to re-affirm that the Commission was re-oriented to effectively implement its mandate, including effectively supporting the implementation of, and follow-up to, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Union’s Agenda 2063,’’ Ruzvidzo said.

The ECA noting existing “uncertain and volatile global environment, slower growth in the region, and rising inequality, had to embark on reforms to ensure it remained in touch with Africa’s development efforts,’’ Ruzvidzo said.

The ECA’s new strategic direction, which focuses particularly on 23 African countries, aspires to increase its ability to make impactful interventions and remain forward-looking, it was noted.

Experts in the fields of urbanisation, planning, social policy and gender, research institutes, UN specialised agencies and civil society are attending the two-day meeting to evaluate the core role of the ECA’s newly-formed division.

Which envisaged addressing gender, poverty and social policy as key African priorities.(Xinhua/NAN)

Edited by Halima Sheji/ Sadiya Hamza

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AU refutes report of China spying on its headquarters



A senior official of the African Union (AU) on Friday rejected media reports that China has been spying on its headquarters and transferring data from servers in the building.

Victor Harison, the AU commissioner for economic affairs, said he had respect for the response of the chairperson of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, who refuted a report the French newspaper Le Monde.

The French paper had earlier claimed that China had bugged the AU conference centre it had built and gifted to the AU in 2012.

Harison said, “I think the chairperson of the African Union has responded in this issue. I respect the response of my hierarchy chairperson.’’

Mahamat told the press in China that they were totally false allegations, reiterating that ties between China and the AU are unwavering, and such reports could not damage their relations.

According to a recent report by Reuters, U.S. Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios has criticised countries that open their arms to Chinese 5G networks and artificial intelligence technologies.

Citing the Le Monde report in 2018 that Beijing had transferred data from the AU headquarters to China for five years using Huawei IT equipment.

Reuters also recalled that the AU had previously rejected claims that Huawei was involved in any cyber security breach.

Harison said that the AU and China are enjoying fruitful cooperation, with the AU office complex and conference centre a tangible example in this regard.

“This building is the fruit of collaboration between AU and China,’’ he said.

Refuting the rumour, Liu Yuxi, head of the Chinese Mission to the AU, told reporters on his part that the relationship between China and the AU is based on mutual respect and benefits. (Xinhua/NAN)

(Edited by Hadiza Mohammed/Emmanuel Yashim)

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