An investigator for the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday urged member states to pressure Saudi Arabia to free women activists before a G20 nations’ summit which Riyadh will be hosting in November.
No fewer than a dozen prominent women’s rights activists were arrested in Saudi Arabia in 2018 as it lifted a ban on women driving cars, a step that many of the detainees had long campaigned for.
The women were rounded up as part of a broader crackdown on dissent that extended to clerics and intellectuals.
In a speech to the council in Geneva, Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said Saudi Arabia should release “prisoners of conscience, women, human rights defenders that are currently in prison for demanding the right to drive”.
However, there was no immediate comment from Saudi Arabia, the current chair of the Group of 20 major economies.
Several of the arrested women have alleged torture and sexual assault in detention.
Report says Saudi officials deny this and said the detainees were suspected of having harmed Saudi interests and offered support to hostile elements abroad.
Some of the activists are now on trial, although few charges have been made public.
Charges against some of the activists relate to contacts with foreign journalists, diplomats and human rights groups.
Their prosecution has drawn global criticism, particularly following the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents inside the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate.
The families of some of the activists, including Loujain al-Hathloul, raised concerns earlier this year when they were unable to contact their detained relatives in prison for several weeks.
Meanwhile, contact was eventually restored.
Callamard, who led a UN investigation into Khashoggi’s killing, also said that “far more needs to be done” internationally regarding accountability for his death.
She welcomed efforts by Turkey, which last week began trying 20 suspects in absentia over Khashoggi’s killing.
Callamard attended those proceedings.
Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye/Muhammad Suleiman Tola (NAN)
COVID-19 Update in Nigeria – NCDC Coronavirus Records
COVID-19: FCT leads with 130 cases, as Nigeria records 386 new infections
August 2, 2020 6:14 am By Abujah Racheal
The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) led the pack on Saturday with 130 Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases as the country recorded 386 new infection in the country.
Data from the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC ) showed that the cases were spread across 18 states and the FCT.
The NCDC said that FCT topped the list for the of states with higher daily cases of COVID-19 for the third time consecutively with 130, while Lagos, the epicentre of the virus, reported 65.
Other states with new cases were Ondo, 37, Osun, 29, Plateau, 23, Rivers, 15, Enugu, 14, Nasarawa, 12, Bayelsa, 11, Ebonyi, 11, Ekiti, 9, Oyo 8, Edo, 8, Abia, 6, Ogun, 3, Katsina, 3, Imo 1 and Adamawa 1.
The health agency said that Nigeria had now successfully treated 20,087 COVID-19 cases following the discharge of 522 additional patients in the last 24 hours.
The health agency noted that four more persons have died from the disease.
According to the NCDC, till date, a total of 43,537 cases of the virus have been confirmed, 20,087 cases discharged and 883 deaths have been recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
The NCDC noted that a multi-sectoral national emergency operations centre (EOC) activated at Level 3 would continue to coordinate the national response activities across the country.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Nigeria conducted 145,454 tests in July and recorded 17,457 positive cases during the same period.
It said compared to June, the figures represented 95 per cent increase in testing numbers and 12 per cent increase in positive cases.
”It is good news that Nigeria significantly stepped up testing in July. The 95 per cent increase in testing in July compared to June only resulted in 12 per cent increase in positive cases.
”June, 74,580 tests, 15,532 positive cases. July, 145,454 tests, 17,457 positive cases. July also recorded one of the lowest monthly test positivity to date.
”July test positivity is 12 per cent . June test positivity is 21 per cent. May test positivity is 17 per cent. July also records 51 per cent of cumulative test in the country,” it said.
The Agency said that states that had made this possible by their daily increase in testing were, Kano, Plateau, Oyo, Lagos, FCT and Rivers States in July. (NAN)
Nigerians in Diaspora wants FG to step-up strategy to combat human trafficking
The Nigerians in the Diaspora Organisation, Qatar Chapter (NIDO-Qatar) on Friday urged the international community and the Federal Government to step-up strategy to combat trafficking in persons.
The President of NIDO-Qatar, Mr Victor Ikoli, gave the advice at the online webinar organised by National Agency for Protection of Trafficking in Persons, (NAPTIP) under the leadership of Mrs Julie Okah-Donli.
The webinar was organised by the NAPTIP to comemorate the 2020 World Day Against Trafficking in Persons celebrated globally on July 30, to promote and protect rights of victims of trafficking in persons.
The theme of this year’s World Day Against Trafficking was focused on first responders to trafficking in persons.
Ikoli said the first responders were those who worked in different fields, such as identifying, supporting, advising and working to provide justice to victims of trafficking.
He said, “We hope that trafficking in persons will end soon, adding, as a result of the coronavirus restriction, victims are still trapped with traffickers.
“We want to partner with the relevant agencies and fight this crime from all fronts.
“We call on government to step up its strategy and be ahead of the traffickers and urge our members to report any case of trafficking, and to put an end to this human exploitation.
“Traffickers target major event destinations and the FIFA 2022 World Cup in Qatar is already a target, hands must be on deck to stop these criminals.
Ikoli commended Okah-Donli’s efforts in the fight against human trafficking in the country.
He said that NAPTIP led by Okah-Donli had achieved a great feat of convicting 428 traffickers since 2013, rescuing 17,000 victims and arresting more than 7,000 perpetrators.
He also commended the recent joint operation which brought about safe return of 158 Nigerian migrants from Niger Republic.
Ikoli said that she had made NAPTIP a force to reckon with globally in the fight against trafficking in persons.
He said that the UN defined reasons people were trafficked to be for exploitation, forced marriage, begging, labour, sexual exploitation, organs removal, selling children and child soldiers.
Edited By: Chidinma Agu/Isaac Aregbesola (NAN)
COVID-19 Response: FG receives 2nd Batch Medical Supplies of UN Basket Fund
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, has joined other stakeholders to receive 2nd Batch Medical Supplies purchased with UN Basket Fund for COVID-19 Response on behalf of the Federal Government.
Mr Olujimi Oyetomi, Director, Information, Media and Public Relations, Federal Ministry of Health, said this in a statement issued on Friday in Abuja.
Oyetomi said Ehanire joined the National Coordinator, Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Dr. Sani Aliyu at the Cargo Section of Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja to receive medical supplies from EU contributions worth N26 Billion.
Ehanire said this 2nd Batch of medical supplies would allay the fears of the health workers, especially the frontline health workers, who thought that Nigeria might be running short of supplies and were threatening strike.
The minister said there was arrangement in place through institutions and international friends like the EU and the UN to have replenishment.
He assured the EU and the UN of judicious distribution of the medical supplies to needed areas.
The Charge d’Affaires a.i. of the European Union Delegation to Nigeria, Mr. Alexander Borges – Gomes, coordinated the handing over of the Medical Supplies.
Borges-Gomes disclosed that the items were procured through the One United Nations COVID-19 Basket Fund from a significant contribution from the European Union of €50 Million (N26 Billion).
The medical supplies include 500,000 face shields; 200,000 goggles; 100 oro-pharyngeal airways; 10,000 bio-hazard bags; and 14,000 safety boxes.
Borges-Gomes disclosed further that these were the 2nd Batch of the Medical Supplies by Team Europe – the EU and its MSs after the arrival of the 1st batch in mid-June, adding “Team Europe operates globally and here is the effort on behalf of Nigeria.”
He expressed hope that the equipment would boost the Nigerian Government’s response efforts as a whole but in particular, they would protect the heroic frontline health workers.
Edited By: Felix Ajide (NAN)
Newcastle United back to square one after Saudi take-over bid fails
Newcastle United head into the short English Premier League (EPL) close season surrounded by uncertainty.
This has come after the collapse of the proposed Saudi take-over ——-with an owner who wants to sell the club but with no viable purchaser in place.
Club owner Mike Ashley was ready to sell the club to the investment group in a deal worth more than 305 million pounds.
But the take-over bid, announced in April, never emerged from the Premier League’s owners and directors test and on Thursday the consortium pulled out.
Fans, who had dreamt of big money signings and competing for European places, now face a more mundane reality for a team which finished 13th in the Premier League last season.
While there have been some reports of possible interest from potential purchasers in the US, no actual proposal has appeared.
Sources close to the Saudi consortium said they never had to deal with any rival bid.
Staveley has however suggested there may yet be some way to get the deal done.
Newcastle United managing director Lee Charnley offered similar hope by saying Ashley, founder of retail firm Frasers Group, remains committed to the Saudi deal.
“We acknowledge yesterday’s statement. Never say never, but to be clear Mike Ashley is 100 percent committed to this deal.
“However our current focus must now be on supporting (manager) Steve Bruce in the transfer market and on the preparations for the new season,” he said.
Ashley has not taken the club off the market but his chances of finding a new buyer may be hampered by the economic uncertainty following the pandemic.
“It is genuinely unlikely at the moment. Premier League buyouts either need very deep pockets (sovereign funds, et cetera) or a high degree of borrowing,” said football finance expert Rob Wilson of Sheffield Hallam University.
“This risk associated with the latter in an unsteady market looks unlikely. Hence, with no Saudi acquisition, it looks difficult,” he added.
Newcastle United have not featured in the UEFA Champions League since 2004.
They have not even won the English title since 1927 or the FA Cup since 1955, in spite of claiming one of the country’s largest fan bases.
One of the key problems for the bid was the continued conflict over Saudi Arabia’s response to cases of unauthorised broadcasting of Premier League games in the country.
This is part of a long-running dispute between the kingdom and neighbouring Qatar.
A source close to the bid said that PIF had offered to put together a Saudi consortium to buy the rights to broadcast the games in Saudi Arabia.
This is in view of the fact that Qatari company BeIN Sports, who owns the rights, has had its licence to broadcast in the kingdom removed.
Another source close to the deal put the blame for its collapse firmly on the Premier League.
“The problem with the deal was the intransigence of the Premier League. Everyone else was happy to proceed,” the source said.
The Premier League, who last year hired legal counsel to deal with the broadcast issues in Saudi, has declined to comment.
Former Newcastle United and England forward Alan Shearer said on Friday that disappointed fans were hoping that a new owner would yet emerge.
“There’s a lot of anger, understandably so, and a massive amount of disappointment,” he said.
“We can only hope and pray that new owners come in at some stage and take the club back to where it belongs because that’s what the fans of Newcastle United deserve.”
Edited By: Olawale Alabi) (NAN)