The Big 5: House of Reps throws out Peace Corps Bill, Amnesty International accuses Nigerian Military of rights abuses and other stories

These are the major stories you should be monitoring today:

The House of Representatives on Thursday has aligned itself with President Muhammadu Buhari’s refusal to assent to the Peace Corps establishment bill.

President Buhari had in February declined his assent to the Nigerian Peace Corps Bill passed by the National Assembly in 2017, citing security concerns and financial implications amongst reasons for his decision.

The bill had sought to transform the Peace Corps from a non-governmental organisation, into a government para-military agency.

Amnesty International has in its latest report accused Nigerian security forces and Civilian Joint Task Force of raping thousands of women and girls at the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps in the the North East.

The report released yesterday by the Manager, Amnesty International, Nigeria, Isa Sanusi, revealed how the military and civilian JTF separated women from their husbands and confined them to remote “satellite camps” where they were raped, sometimes in exchange for food.

The report also said that in some cases, the abuse appeared to be part of a pattern of persecution of anyone perceived to have a connection to Boko Haram, adding that women reported being beaten and called “Boko Haram wives” by the security officials when they complained about their treatment.

Nobel Laureate Prof. Wole Soyinka has advised the Federal Government to solicit the support of the international community to combat insecurity in the country.

Soyinka who spoke on Thursday in Makurdi, also alleged that the killings are sponsored by desperate politicians because of their selfish motives, and that the killings were not sporadic but well-coordinated, while calling for the identification and prosecution of those behind the killings .

He said “If the government cannot cope, it should not shy away from asking for international help”, adding: “people are dying, this government cannot cope, please just ask for international help and I know they’re ready and willing to come to our aid.”

The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has opposed the call by the striking health workers under the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) for the removal of Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole.

The NMA on Thursday in a statement by its President, Francis Faduyile, has described the call as an act of “rascality and disregard” for the office of the Health Minister.

The NMA also called for improvement in security in health institutions across Nigeria.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) has inaugurated a 77-man National Campaign Council for the July 14 Ekiti governorship election at its  National Secretariat, in Abuja, on Thursday.

The Deputy National Chairman (North) of the party, Senator Lawal Shuaibu who inaugurated the council on behalf of the National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun disclosed “that the importance of the Ekiti State election to the party is slightly below that of a presidential election.” 

According to Shuaibu, while the Governor of Kebbi State, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, will serve as chairman, a total of 14 serving governors, senators, one minister from each of the six geopolitical zones, and other important personalities, will serve as members of the campaign council.

The governors include those of Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ondo, Kwara, Zamfara, Edo, Kogi, Jigawa, Plateau, Borno, Adamawa states.

And stories from around the world:

Signatories of the Iran nuclear deal would be meeting with the Islamic republic in Vienna on Friday in a bid to save the agreement two weeks after Washington’s dramatic withdrawal.

For the first time since the deal came into force in 2015, China, Russia, France, Britain and Germany will gather at Iran’s request , without the United States, which pulled out on May 8.

Since the U S’s pull out, the other signatories have since embarked on a diplomatic marathon to try to keep the agreement afloat. (AFP)

North Korea on Friday said it was still willing to talk to the United States after President Donald Trump cancelled a summit between the two countries, a decision Pyongyang described as “extremely regrettable”.

“The abrupt announcement of the cancellation of the meeting is unexpected for us and we cannot but find it extremely regrettable,” Kim Kye Gwan, North Korea’s First Vice Foreign Minister, said in a statement carried by the state-run KCNA news agency.

“We again state to the US our willingness to sit face-to-face at any time in any form to resolve the problem,” Kim added. (AFP)

Cuban state-run television announced on Thursday that search teams in Cuba have retrieved the flight data recorder from the passenger plane that crashed last Friday, which  killed all but two of the 113 people on board.

According to the medium, videos of the tragedy taken by passers-by and locals, as well as their testimony had helped investigators locate the second cockpit recorder.

Dutch prosecutors identified a Russian military unit on Thursday as the source of the missile that shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014, killing all 298 people on board.

The airliner flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was hit by a Russian-made “Buk” anti-aircraft missile on July 17, 2014 over territory held by pro-Russian separatists. There were no survivors. Two thirds of those killed were Dutch.

In reaction however, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement, “This is an example of baseless accusations aimed at discrediting our country in the eyes of the international community,”

South Africa’s President, Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that he will be donating half of his salary to charity.

Mr Ramaphosa, one of South Africa’s richest businessman, with a fortune of around $450m, who has been accused by critics of being out of touch with the poor, said the gesture was aimed at encouraging the wealthy to dedicate some of their pay to help build the nation.

The donation of 1.8m rand ($130,000; £100,000) will be managed by the Nelson Mandela Foundation (NMF).


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