The Late 5: Uganda could begin enforcing the death penalty again, INEC assures Nigerians that votes will count in 2019 and other top stories

These are the top stories that drove conversation today:

Gabriel Agorye, a prosecution witness in the trial of Raymond Dokpesi has revealed how he withdrew N40 million from his account and handed it over to the former chairman of DAAR Communications Plc.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commissions (EFCC) in 2015 charged Dokpesi to the federal high court, Abuja, over an alleged N2.1bn fraud — funds he reportedly got from the office of the National Security Adviser.

Agorye, who is the 11th prosecution witness, told the court that he was Dokpesi’s personal assistant and ran errands for him.

Five people were feared killed Friday by suspected Boko Haram insurgents in an early morning attack in Kaya village of Madagali in Adamawa, residents and local officials have said.

Kaya is one kilometer drive from Gulak, the administrative headquarters of Madagali.

The attack came two days after a similar incident in Pallam where Boko Haram militants killed three people.

Residents say soldiers and local hunters who chased the insurgents were able to shoot two of them dead.

The Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mahmood Yakubu, says the commission had 74 million voters in its register by the second week of January.

The INEC Director of Voter Education and Publicity, Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, made the fact known in a statement in Abuja on Friday.

Also, Yakubu has assured Nigerians that their votes will determine the outcome of the 2019 general elections and future polls in the country.

According to a report on the commission’s website, the chairman gave the assurance at the 15th edition of the Daily Trust Dialogue on Thursday in Abuja, with the theme: “Nigeria and the challenges of 2019.”

The Governor of Borno, Kashim Shettima, led northern governors to beg the Benue Governor, Samuel Ortom, not to resign from the Nigeria Governors’ Forum over herdsmen killings in the state.

It was the first move from governors in north since Fulani herdsmen killed 73 people in Benue.

The visit came after South- south, South East, South West and Middle Belt stakeholders condoled with Governor Ortom on the tragic incident.

An Oyo State High Court presided over by Justice Olajumoke Aiki on Friday declared the review of the 1957 Olubadan Chieftaincy Declaration and other Related Chieftaincies in Ibadan land by the Justice Akintunde Boade Review Commission, which was set up by the Oyo State Government, as unconstitutional, illegal, null, void and of no effect.

The commission had recommended, among others, the creation of several monarchs in Ibadan which led to the installation of 21 kings by the state Governor Abiola Ajimobi.

And stories from around the world…

Turkey’s defense minister said Friday an onslaught of Turkish military shelling targeting Syrian Kurds in northwest Syria has “de facto” begun, per the AP.

Brazil legend Pele is in hospital after collapsing on Thursday with exhaustion.

The 77-year-old was due to travel to London this weekend for a dinner held in his honour by the Football Writers Association (FWA).

Uganda could begin enforcing the death penalty again, President Yoweri Museveni has said, 13 years after the country’s last execution.

Museveni said his “Christian background” had prevented him from going ahead with executions, but this “leniency” was encouraging criminals.

Human rights groups have warned against the move.

In Uganda, 28 offences merit the death penalty, the highest in East Africa. Some 278 people are on death row.

Pope Francis has accused victims of Chile’s most notorious paedophile of slander – an astonishing end to a visit meant to help heal the wounds of a sex abuse scandal that has cost the Catholic Church its credibility in the country.

Francis said that until he sees proof that Bishop Juan Barros was complicit in covering up the sex crimes of the Reverend Fernando Karadimas, such accusations against Mr Barros are ‘all calumny.’

The pope’s remarks drew shock from Chileans and immediate rebuke from victims and their advocates.

The Pentagon’s new defense strategy calls for aggressive steps to counter Russia and China, directing the military to retrain its attention on great-power competition after nearly two decades of focusing primarily on Islamist militants and “rogue” nations.

The emphasis of the new National Defense Strategy, unveiled Friday by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, contrasts starkly with the last time the Pentagon developed such a blueprint — in 2014, before Russia joined the Syrian civil war and hacked U.S. political organizations.

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