Uganda: Abuse of Social Media Forcing Govt to Filter Content, Says ICT Minister

Kabarole — The minister for Information and Communications Technology and National Guidance, Mr Frank Tumwebaze has said the increasing public abuse of social media is forcing the hands of government to regulate the use of the platforms.

Speaking at the 51 celebrations of the World’s Communication Day at Virika Parish, Fort Portal Diocese in Fort Portal Municipality on Sunday, Mr Tumwebaze said there is need to filter social media content that the public posts on Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter.

“In other countries such as UK, everything that goes on air is first filtered but here in Uganda we have not reached that, but we need to be ambassadors of our information,” Mr Tumwebaze said.

He said some people have taken advantage of such platforms to terrorise the country and warned such users to desist and use the new innovations to transform the country.

Mr Tumwebaze who asked the public to be security conscious of cybercrimes, rallied Ugandans to register their SIM cards before August 30 as his ministry and Uganda Communication Commissions will switch off all subscribers who will fail to register or verify their SIM cards.

He warned that there won’t be any more extension after the three month’s grace period allowed for subscribers to register. Fort Portal Dioceses Bishop Robert Muhirwa, expressed concern on misuse of social media platforms to spread pornographic information to the public and asked the government regulate such content.

“Somebody used my name on Facebook and started asking people for money allegedly for helping needy people, and this is wrong. Government should help us” Bishop Muhirwa said.

To mark the World’s Communications Day, Pope Francis asked the media users to be objective and help their nations through spreading good news since bad news disorganises communities.

Why Day is celebrated

World Communications Day was declared by Pope Paul VI in 1967 as an annual celebration that encourages reflection on the opportunities and challenges that the modern means of social communication, including the press, motion pictures, radio, television and the internet, afford the Church to communicate messages of the Gospel.

This year’s World’s Communications Day was celebrated under the theme; “Communicating hope and trust in our time.”

Source : The Monitor(Kampala)

Nigerians Should Desist from Embarking on Negative Prayers Against President Buhari-Cleric

Nigerians have been called upon to desist from embarking on negative prayers against President Muhamadu  Buhari who is presently, recuperating  in a London hospital.

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This call was made by the Chairman, Christian  Association of Nigeria(CAN), Oluyole Local Government, Ibadan, Oyo state Nigeria Chaplain(Evangelist)E.A Babalola, who also doubles as the Commandant General, Royal Chaplain Global  Mission in a chat with Federationews2day in Ibadan, Nigeria.

”So, what Nigerians have to do ow, is to encourage President  Muhammadu Buhari  and to pray for him to have good health, in order for him to fulfill the destiny  God has placed on him  for Nigeria. So, what the President needs now,is not devilish prayers against his life, the prayers he needs now, are prayers to preserve his life, prayers for healing, prayers for good health  and prayers for long life. It is not a matter for religion, but a matter  of service to our fatherland”.

Chaplain(Evangelist) Babalola condemned those on negative prayers against the President, saying ”that is to show how wicked people can be, nobody owns anybody’s life, it is only God that owns life, and nobody can kill, unless God permits it. if it is not ordained for the President to die at this time, no amount of prayers that they will pray against him will come to pass, because there is a purpose why God brought  him in to be President at this particular time and everybody is vulnerable to fall sick,  he is a man and he is of age, the job of  presiding a nation is not a small job, the load of a nation is a very heavy one. So for him to  be thinking of Nigeria is enough for him as an old man”.

Ebola to Piracy: Sustaining U.S.-China Work in Africa

By: Jennifer Staats

U.S. and Chinese leaders have worked with counterparts across Africa to combat a range of security threats on the continent, from Ebola to piracy to instability in Sudan and South Sudan. A recent United Nations Security Council Resolution condemning terrorist attacks and violence in the Lake Chad Basin illustrates that more joint efforts are needed to support Africa’s stability and development. Unfortunately, distrust and skepticism between the United States and China are getting in the way of further progress. But there may be a way to prevent backsliding.

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U.S.-China counter piracy exercise. Photo Courtesy of U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Gary M. Keen/Released
Initial trilateral efforts in Africa have revealed three key lessons for effective cooperation, according to experts in a recent discussion at USIP.  First, successful efforts must be African-led and should work through existing African institutions. Second, leadership matters, and the U.S. and Chinese ambassadors in Africa play a critical role in making collaboration possible. Third, engagement must be sustained, holistic, and long-term, rather than ad hoc.

Although both the United States and China want to see an economically prosperous and secure Africa, there are many barriers to closer cooperation. They include competition, lack of transparency, different definitions of “stability,” and bureaucratic stovepipes.

Three ambassadors and an associate director at the Carter Center in Atlanta considered ways to overcome these hurdles in a March 2017 article in Foreign Affairs.

“The goal should be to transform occasional moments of cooperation—such as the shared efforts of China, the United States, and African governments during the Ebola crisis—into what China expert Kurt Campbell has called “habits of cooperation” on those areas where all parties largely agree.”

Campbell and the four authors addressed the point at the USIP event on April 11, held to discuss progress in a three-year project between the institute and the Carter Center, called the Africa-China-U.S. Consultation for Peace. The program is being conducted in coordination with the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel.

In addition to the authors’ recommendations, experts identified other opportunities for collaboration:

  • Coordinate humanitarian assistance to the Lake Chad Basin to avoid duplication and gaps.
  • Conduct joint research on maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea, including piracy as well as illegal and unreported fishing.
  • Strengthen maritime security structures in West Africa, particularly the Interregional Coordination Center in Yaoundé, Cameroon.
  • Develop African merchant marines to facilitate trade.
  • Address threats to food security and public health.
  • Build the capacity of African peacekeepers and establish a reliable source of funding for African Union peace operations.
  • Invest in civilian security, governance, economic rehabilitation, effective community-police relations, and the judicial and security architecture in the Lake Chad Basin.
  • Align development assistance, infrastructure projects, and economic investment with conflict prevention efforts.

The need for three-way cooperation in Africa remains high.  Where direct collaboration is not possible, one alternative might be to pursue complementary policies that still would allow parties to work in parallel toward the same goals, as long as they maintain some openness and transparency.

The United States and China should commit to adding these issues to the new U.S.-China Consultative Dialogue, to ensure these opportunities get the attention they deserve. The challenges facing Africa cannot be ignored just because leaders in Washington and Beijing cannot overcome their mistrust. Instead, the three parties must find creative ways to pursue complementary efforts that will help everyone realize their shared interests.

Source : United States Institute of Peace

Firm Provides Soft Loans for Workers’ Dependents In South West

A financial services company has commenced the granting of soft loans to spouses and dependents of workers in the South West Geo-Political zone of Nigeria, who are yet to receive their salaries for several months from their various state Governments.

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According  to a statement  by must already be engaged in small or medium scale businesses, with verifiable addresses.

It further stated that ‘’repayment of the loan of N100,000 will be made installmentally on a monthly basis over a period of six (6) months at one  per cent (1 %) interest rate. No guarantors are required’’.

The statement directed prospective loan seekers to pick up the registration forms at Common Good International,  Mile 110, Abeokuta road, beside Nustreams Conference and Cultural centre, Railway line, off Alalubosa Estate,Dugbe/ Odo-Ona/Apata road, Ibadan, Oyo state, Nigeria.

For several months now state Governments in Nigeria have been unable to pay the backlog of salary arrears owed workers. This has   resulted in the inability of the workers to meet their obligations to their spouses and dependents, who depend heavily on them of their sustenance.

 

UK: Whistleblowers and journalists face prison for revealing information that could be obtained under FOI

New proposals by the UK Law Commission to reform the 1989 Official Secrets Act (OSA) could lead to the imprisonment of civil servants and journalists for disclosing information that would be available to anyone asking for it under the Freedom of Information Act, say the Campaign for Freedom of Information (CFOI) and ARTICLE 19.


The Law Commission is proposing to make it easier to secure convictions under the 1989 OSA by weakening the test for proving an offence. But the proposed weaker test would catch information that would have to be disclosed under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, say the CFOI and ARTICLE 19.

In a joint response to the Law Commission proposals, ARTICLE 19 and the CFOI are concerned that:

  • Whistleblowers and journalists could be convicted for revealing information about defence, international relations or law enforcement that is unlikely to cause harm
  • Leaking information that anyone could obtain by making an FOI request could be an offence
  • It would not be a defence to show that the information had already lawfully been made public under the FOI Act or otherwise – unless the information had also been ‘widely disseminated’
  • Someone revealing danger to the public, abuse of power or serious misconduct would not be able to argue that they acted in the public interest
  • Maximum prison sentences on conviction, currently 2 years, would be increased.

CFOI director Maurice Frankel said: “These proposals are not only oppressive but unworkable. It is beyond common sense to make it an Official Secrets offence to leak information which anyone could obtain under FOI. The proposals would deter officials from discussing information that has lawfully been made public. It will set the FOI Act and the Official Secrets Act on a collision course. It is not the Law Commission’s job to make an ass of the law but that’s what its proposals would do.”

ARTICLE 19 Executive Director Thomas Hughes said: “In many countries in the world, secrecy laws are abused to imprison and harass journalists, whistleblowers and civil society, in particular in many Commonwealth countries where these laws are a legacy of British colonial control and oppression. If taken forward, the Commission’s proposals would move the clock backwards, undoing improvements in the UK’s 1989 Official Secrets Acts, and setting a dangerous example of eroding freedom of expression protections, which may be copied by oppressive regimes globally.”

The 1989 Official Secrets Act makes the leaking of information in certain areas, and the publication of those leaks, an offence.  Some offences are committed regardless of whether the information is shown to be harmful. Others require proof that a disclosure is ‘likely’ to damage defence, international relations, or law enforcement, or falls into a ‘class’ of information likely to damage the security services’ work.

The Law Commission says the ‘likely to damage’ test prevents prosecutions being brought, because proving this requires even more damaging information to be revealed in court. The CFOI and ARTICLE 19 point out that sensitive evidence can be given in camera during a trial of OSA offences and say the Commission has not explained why this very considerable safeguard is inadequate.

The Commission wants the harm test to be reduced from ‘likely’ to cause harm to ‘capable’ of causing harm, but the FOI Act only exempts information about defence, international relations and law enforcement if disclosure would be ‘likely’ to harm those interests.* Leaking information which is capable of but very unlikely to harm, say, law enforcement would therefore become an offence – although such information must be disclosed to anyone who asks for it under FOI.  An official would face the threat of imprisonment for making an unauthorised disclosure of information which anyone could obtain on request.

ARTICLE 19 and the CFOI are extremely concerned about the Law Commission’s proposals and the quality of the analysis which supports them. The proposals would substantially and unnecessarily extend the reach of the Official Secrets Act 1989, and threaten journalists and whistleblowers who release information about danger to the public, abuse of power or serious misconduct. The example this sets internationally is further cause for concern.

Kebbi Govt Shuts Down Hotel Hideout of Criminals

The Kebbi state Government has ordered the closure of a hotel alleged to be abode for criminals.

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According to the state Commissioner for Information, Alhaji Musa Kalgo, who made this disclosure in a chat with Reporters, in Birnin Kebbi, the state Governor, Alhaji Atiku Bagudu, ordered the closure.

The Commissioner also disclosed that the Governor also directed that all the occupants should be arrested and interrogated.

“Some nefarious activities have been taking place in the area. It was alleged that the hotel is the hideout of criminals that pose threat to the security of the people in the area.”

“Government has directed immediate closure of the hotel and arrest and interrogation of all its occupants,”

“The attackers were traced to the hotel but the guards in the hotel refused to open the gate until security personnel forced their way into the hotel where two of the suspected attackers were arrested. This is a serious security concern; it is the main reason the hotel was closed,”Alhaji Kalgo concluded.

Indeed, Nigerians have expressed concern over the siting of hotels  and relaxation centres in residential areas. They insist that these hotels serve as launch pad for criminals, who terrorize residents at will.

Land rights in Georgia: the stench of corruption

By Oliko Shermadini, Transparency International Georgia

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When corruption is disguised as a legal procedure, it can often be difficult for ordinary citizens to fight back. But legal procedures can also be used to win the day. This is the story of how Transparency International’s Advocacy and Legal Advice Centre in Georgia helped a group of villagers win a legal battle against local authorities who had essentially stolen their land. 

On a piece of land about the size of 18 football pitches on the edge of the small village of Didi Lilo just outside Georgia’s capital Tblisi aggressive scavenger birds swoop down on piles of stinking refuse. Parents keep their children indoors because the birds are so dangerous and the smell so noxious.

For generations a group of 17 local tenant farmers grew wheat on this land. It helped them through bad economic times, when food was scarce following the collapse of the Soviet Union and during the civil unrest. “We milled the wheat into flour and baked bread for our family and we used the grain to feed our chickens and livestock,” said Marine Tsopurishvili, one of the villagers (pictured). “It helped us survive as there was no other work around.”

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Marine Tsopurishvili (second from left) stands with villagers in front of landfill.  

When the rights to the land came up for auction in 2006, the 17 villagers joined forces to buy it. Four years later when they tried to register the land on a new electronic cadastral map they found they couldn’t: it was listed as state property.

It was during a fallow year, when the land was left uncultivated that the fences went up and the garbage started pouring in. That’s also when the villagers started their fight to get the land back. They wrote letters and produced ownership evidence but were continually stonewalled. During the court proceedings, representatives from the Public Registry, Tbilisi City Hall, the ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development and the group that operates the landfill all argued that because the property was not registered as belonging to the villagers on the electronic map it was state land.

Transparency International Georgia operates an Advocacy and Legal Advice Centre for citizens who find themselves beaten back by a system they cannot understand. When one of the Didi Lilo villagers showed us their file, we realized that the authorities, for whatever reason, were acting in bad faith.

Corruption is the defined by Transparency International as the misuse of entrusted power for personal gain. We did not try to argue that this was a case of corruption because it was clear that we could win on procedural arguments.

During court proceedings, representatives of the state claimed that at the time of registering their ownership of the land, the villagers had not registered an electronic cadastral map, and that the paper version of this document did not show any overlap between the landfill area and the land owned by the citizens.

According to Georgian legislation, however, property rights may not be restricted on the grounds that the cadastral map has been registered as a paper document. The majority of land registered before 2010 had been registered this way.

In land dispute cases, the Public Register is obligated to take into account all the data available. The villagers had done everything by the book: they had registered the land, provided a privatization plan and relevant cadastral information that clearly shows its location.

The state claimed that the plot overlapped with state land but refused to provide the 2010 maps to prove this. In court we argued that that state bodies had acted in agreement to intentionally, illegally and without compensation seize a piece of land from the rightful owners. The state was happy to take the villagers’ money in 2006; and just as happy to doctor the system and seize it back in 2010.

In 2014, the Georgian Public Defender had also recommended the Public Registry reconsider its decision, but to no avail. We used the Public Defender’s report as evidence in court.

The dispute lasted for 3 years but ended on March 22, 2017, when Tbilisi City Court (court of first instance) granted our claim and recognised the ownership rights of the villagers. The court decision granted our clients’ requests for registration.

The next step is to get compensation. The land is now unfit for agriculture. According to a private audit estimate, the disputed piece of land had a market value of GEL 1.3 million (US$536,103) prior to its seizure. We plan to demand compensation for damages, which will include the above market value as well as compensation for damage incurred as a result of a 10 year property rights violation period.

The state can of course appeal the decision but we will be ready to continue the fight. The villagers of Didi Lilo may not have agricultural land anymore but they are clearly entitled to compensation for the illegal seizure.

Oliko Shermadini started working at Transparency International Georgia as an intern in 2012. Since then she has been involved in different TI Georgia projects, including working at the Advocacy and Legal Advice Center. 

Source-Transparency International

Ndigbo in Oyo state Pass Vote of Confidence in Eze Dr. Anozie

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Igbos in in Oyo state have  passed a vote of confidence in their head, Eze Dr. Alex Anozie.

The community, comprising all the people from the states  in the South East Geo-Political zone of Nigeria, hinged their decision on the forthright and purposeful leadership of Eze       Dr. Anozie.

They expressed concern over the unbecoming activities of some  individuals, geared towards sowing the seed of discord among the people, while advising Igbos in the state to be wary of such individuals.

They reiterated their resolve to continue to stand by the communiqué issued on 28 June, 2014 and signed by the state President of Ohaneze and Igbo leaders from Saki, Oyo, Iseyin, Eruwa and Ogbomosho.

The communiqué had stated ‘’We the various Igbo communities, Trade unions and Traders associations residing in Ibadan and Oyo state, under the umbrella of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Oyo state, do hereby  raise and endorse this communiqué  today, 28th of June, 2014, confirming our total support  and solidarity for Eze Dr. Alex Anozie, as the only Ezendigbo, Onyendundigbo nala Ibadan and Oyo state, sequel to his been democratically elected and sworn in as same since the year 1997 by Ndigbo. This is in addition to the High court judgment of 28 February 2014, which favours only him (Anozie)as the person in  that position with such titles’’.

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Similarly, the Ohaneze Ndigbo has made a passionate appeal to media organizations in the country-print and electronics- to resist all attempts by some personalities who  have been bought over and sponsored by ‘’those who lost out in the leadership struggle’’, to use these channels to disseminate wrong or  false information to the public, on the ‘’EzeNdigbo’’ title issue.

”Our Igbo title, Ezendigbo,  is not the title of any other ethnic group and can never be. The interpretation of Ezendigbo is purely ”the leader or head of Igbos”, no more, no less. Anybody that is giving it any other interpretation outside the above is on his own. We also know that there are Oba Yorubas in Abuja, Kano, Kaduna, Abakaliki, Owerri, Jos, Togo and many other places in the world nobody is raising eyebrows. If Ezendigbo means King,  then Oba Yoruba in all the above mentioned areas outside Yorubaland means King as well ”.

”We go further to buttress our point by calling public attention to an NTA Network Programme which was aired on Friday the 12th of May, 2017 between 6.30am and 7.00am. The topic was the Peace and Unity of Nigeria. During the course of the programme, the Oba Yoruba of Kano was clearly shown on air, Ezendigbo, Kano was clearly shown on air, with their ethnic titles boldly inscribed on the screen”

”So we now begin to wonder why such should be possible in Kano and other parts of  Nigeria and even in foreign countries, only to become impossible in Ibadan and South West as the individuals are making people to believe”, the Socio-cultural organization concluded.

Minimum Wage-Govt. Is Deceiving Workers-Oyo Labour Union Leader

Nigerians at home an abroad  are presently confronted with how to make ends meet. In both the public and private sectors, employers of labour are not ready to review remuneration and working conditions of their  employees, even though the hardships brought about by the economic recession are not abating.

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In the light of this Nigerians are speaking out, Comrade Andrew Emlieze is the immediate past Chairman of the Trade Union Congress(TUC)in Oyo state and also the current Chairman of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria in the state. In this interview with Federationews2day, Comrade Emelieze speaks on the national minimum wage. Excerpts

Do you think Government is  ready to review the N18,000 minimum wage ?

It is  horrible, it is pathetic, it is equally regrettable, that over the years there have been negotiations, there have been agreements, that five years after, there will be a review of the national minimum wage. Currently what an average Nigerian worker, whether you are a manipulative or a managerial staff is N18,000 minimum wage and we can see what the economy is saying, despite that, there has not been any attempt by Government to see what they can do, to help the workers come out of this  their  horrible plight. The last time a review was done was in  2007. Regrettably, the recent pronouncement by Government, coming out of the Minister of Labour, that Government cannot pay N56,000, that has been demanded by the central labour unions in Nigeria, that is the Nigeria Labour Congress(NLC) and the Trade Union Congress(TUC), They have said that they cannot pay it, we don’t expect such a reckless statement from the Nigerian Government, they said it, it is quite unfortunate, it is regrettable and it is such that they are challenging the sensibilities of not just the Labour centres and the Industrial  unions, but the sensibilities of the Nigerian worker

Of course, what is more annoying, is that , if Government is saying that they cannot pay N56,000 minmimum wage, if that Government is sincere, they should be able to tell us this is what we can pay, if they’ve not made such pronouncement, that means the Government is deceiving us.