One person has died after a plane crashed north of the capital, Pretoria, according to a private emergency medical service. The plane crash-landed near Wonderboom Airport in Pretoria on Tuesday evening, as rescue crews rushed to the scene.
Witnesses described seeing a black smoke coming from the engine of a low-flying plane as it attempted to make a landing.
One of our sources has told us that engine failure is the suspected cause of the incident. A photo of the plane shared by AvGeek on Twitter supports this. Shortly after takeoff, the left engine looked to be encountering some serious difficulties.
— AvGeek (@AvGeekSA) July 10, 2018
— ER24 EMS (Pty) Ltd. (@ER24EMS) July 10, 2018
Earlier, reports emerged that 20 people had been injured after a plane, marked Martin’s Air Charter, crashed at the airport.
Images of the deadly crash soon emerged on social media, with users posting pictures of the wreckage at the scene.
[WONDERBOOM] – Aircraft crash leaves approximately 20 injured. https://t.co/L0Bo2UckhD @ewnupdates @eNCA @JacaNews @jour_maine @SABCNewsOnline @_ArriveAlive @FatalMoves @KayaTraffic @ReutersAfrica pic.twitter.com/HVfv7X3Ale
— ER24 EMS (Pty) Ltd. (@ER24EMS) July 10, 2018
Haiti PM Quits Amid Fuel Price Increase Fallout
Jack Guy Lafontant, Haiti’s embattled Prime Minister, announced his resignation following days of violent protests sparked by a now-abandoned plan to raise fuel prices.
“I submitted my resignation to the president of the republic”, who has “accepted my resignation”, Lafontant said on Saturday in the lower house of Haiti’s legislature.
Lafontant had faced a potential vote of no confidence had he not stepped down.
The unrest started after the government unveiled a proposal to eliminate fuel subsidies which in turn would have hiked fuel prices: 38 percent for gasoline, 47 percent for diesel and 51 percent for kerosene.
The announcement sparked mass protests, with streets in the capital, Port-au-Prince, and other cities blocked with barricades of debris and burning tires.
At least seven people were killed and dozens of businesses looted or destroyed during three days of demonstrations.
Lafontant, who took office in February 2017, later announced the plan would not go ahead, but protesters still demanded his resignation.
The parliament had been debating whether to give or not Lafontant a vote of confidence for more than three hours. Following the Prime Minister’s resignation, Haiti was essentially left with no functioning government, according to reports.
Lafontant, a physician, had faced widespread criticism even before the eruption of violence.
Around 60 percent of Haiti’s population lives on less than $2 a day and are extremely vulnerable to increases in the price of goods and services.
In February, the country signed an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in which it committed to carrying out economic and structural reforms to promote growth.
One of those conditions was the elimination of petroleum product subsidies, prompting the doomed price hike proposal. The accord also called on the government to keep inflation under 10 percent.
Since 2015, inflation has been running at 13 to 14 percent annually. The budget blueprint submitted to the legislature in late June still foresaw a rate of 13.6 percent.
On Thursday, the IMF, the US-based global crisis lender, suggested “a more gradual approach” to ending fuel subsidies, paired with “compensatory and mitigating measures to protect the most vulnerable people”.
“We will continue to support Haiti … as they develop a revised reform strategy,” IMF Spokesman Gerry Rice said, noting that ending subsidies would free up funds for other programs like education.
Crafting a revised strategy, as well as divvying up Haiti’s meagre budget resources, will be a delicate task.
The decision to scrap the price hikes means the government will have to find another way to come up with the $300m the move would have generated.
It is not an insignificant amount. The total is more than 11 percent of the 2018-2019 budget presented to parliament in June for debate.
Young Rwandan joins high level UN panel alongside Melinda Gates, Jack Ma
Rwanda’s young ICT advocate and entrepreneur, Akaliza Keza Ntwari, has been selected to join a High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation.
The development was announced Thursday by The United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.
The Panel, which also features Nanjira Sambuli, a Kenyan Digital Equality Advocacy Manager, World Wide Web Foundation, comprises 20 members representing a cross-section of expertise from government, private industry, civil society, academia and the technical community.
“The scale, spread and speed of change made possible by digital technologies is unprecedented, but the current means and levels of international cooperation are unequal to the challenge,” Mr. Guterres said.
“Digital technologies make a significant contribution to the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals and they cut uniquely across international boundaries. Therefore, cooperation across domains and across borders is critical to realizing the full social and economic potential of digital technologies as well as mitigating the risks that they pose and curtailing any unintended consequences,” he added.
Akaliza is one of the few young Rwandan women who have made significant strides in changing the face of technology in the country.
She has been active in promoting the field to girls and has been recognised for her activism by awards from the Rwandan government and the International Telecommunication Union.
Prior to her appointment, Ms Akaliza has been described as “one of the few young Rwandan women who have made significant strides in changing the face of technology in the country” and is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Community.
Ms. Melinda Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Mr. Jack Ma, Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group, have been appointed by the UN Secretary-General as Co-Chairs of the Panel.
The Panel was tasked to contribute to the broader public debate on the importance of cooperative and interdisciplinary approaches to ensure a safe and inclusive digital future for all taking into account relevant human rights norms.
The panel is expected to identify policy, research and information gaps, and make proposals to strengthen international cooperation in the digital space.
“Technology is neither good nor bad. It’s just a tool—a very powerful tool—and what matters is how the world uses it. If all people, especially the poorest and most vulnerable, have equal access to digital technology, they will use it to improve life for themselves and their families and raise their voices in conversations about what the future holds. Enabling this widescale empowerment is what this panel is about,” said Melinda Gates.
The Panel will hold its first in-person meeting in late September 2018 and is expected to submit its final report to the Secretary-General within 9 months.
In carrying out its work, the Panel will undertake a wide range of public consultations, including at least two public events and an open process inviting global inputs including through online engagement activities starting in September. It will be supported by a small Secretariat funded by donor resources, and based in New York and Geneva.
“Soon, every industry will be digitized, and this will have a tremendous impact on every aspect of life. In this digital era, data and technology are more broadly available, enabling entrepreneurialism, economic growth, and improved quality of life for those who have the access and training to leverage it. Global, cross-sector collaboration is critical to ensure the benefits of the digital era are possible for all,” said Jack Ma.
Obama’s Mandela lecture comes at an auspicious time for democracy
Former US President Barack Obama will aim high with his Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture in Johanesburg on July 17th. According to his close adviser and former speechwriter Benjamin J. Rhodes, Obama views this as the most important speech he has given since leaving the White House, one that will set the tone for his post-presidency.
Obama must deliver a more ambitious, activist, and forward-looking address than his eloquent remarks at Mandela’s memorial, in December 2013. That’s because much has changed politically in the five years since then. The world is in a much more precarious place.
Authoritative global indices portray dangerous trends of democratic decline. Principles of tolerance, inclusivity and the rule of law, abiding commitments that defined Mandela’s life, are under assault in other nations, from South Africa the US to Poland.
And, as Rhodes notes: ‘…..There’s an enhanced sense of tribalism in the world’.
It is therefore an auspicious time for Obama to speak about the lessons of Mandela’s life and leadership. The centennial anniversary of Mandela’s birth provides the opportunity for someone of Obama’s standing to encourage awareness about Mandela’s enduring relevance in the endless struggle to sustain democracies.
Drawing on Mandela’s legacy, Obama can help the world better understand the nature of the threats to all democratic experiments. This includes correcting and preventing corruption and abuses of power.
A new book on state capture, published by the Johannesburg-based Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa, offers ample evidence of the threats facing countries. It includes country studies of South Africa, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Madagascar, plus chapters on state capture in post-communist European countries and in the US.
The diversity of case studies points to a common danger: The diversion of public funds for private gain. Dictators can do this at will. Those who are elected democratically face obstacles. They must subvert democratic norms and hollow out state institutions, all the while obscuring their real purposes, often exploiting populist fears and resentments.
Mandela, who survived apartheid to create a legitimate constitutional democracy where no one is above the law, with legal rights enshrined for all, embodies the values that are the only reliable protections against the subversion of the democratic project through state capture.
Democracies under threat
Justice Albie Sachs, one of the country’s first constitutional court judges, comments in the book’s foreward:..’The South African Constitution not only aimed for perfection. It required us to guard against corruption. We needed to guard against ourselves. ‘
As a transitioning democracy, South Africa proved vulnerable to “state capture”. But a more potent combination of a free press and independent constitutionally created institutions, including the Office of Public Prosecutor and Independent Electoral Commission, were effectively vindicated by the Constitutional Court. The electoral commissions’s capacity to ensure free and fair elections in which the ruling party might lose ins majority unless corruption can be credibly curtailed may have been the tipping point.
In Zimbabwe “state capture” became more entrenched and typical of authoritarian electoral states that threaten democratic transitions and consolidation in many post-colonial states. The Zimbabwean Electoral Commission violated electoral law and process with protection provided by the courts and the security sector, which had long ago been corrupted and captured by the ruling oligarchy.
But no democracy is ever secure, even the US. That case study points to historic and current examples of how oligarchs masked as patriots and democrats can exploit the fears and resentments of key constituencies to win elections, disarm democratic protections, and divert public resources to the privileged few.
Co-editors of “State Capture in Africa,” Melanie Meirotti and Grant Masterson, ask if the concept of state capture as it has come to be known in South Africa, the US and post-communist countries, is also useful in the modern African context. They conclude that it is. But sustainable democracy requires constant effort.
Mandela’s service to South Africa exemplifies the same spirit. And I will be surprised if this idea is not at the core of Obama’s address on Tuesday.
New generation of leaders
Obama will use the occasion to motivate a new generation of political leaders. His primary audience will therefore be young people.
The Obama Foundation will convene 200 young African leaders in Johannesburg during the week prior to Obama’s address to study and debate Mandela’s legacy and leadership attributes. Selected from among 10,000 applicants, they are a vital regional component in the foundation’s broader goal to help develop future leaders among Millennials – those aged 24-40. They must be ready to sustain democracies amid growing unrest created by uncontrolled migrations, epidemics, famine, state failures, and climate change.
Recipe for resilience
Obama emphasised in his 2013 memorial remarks:
‘…Mandela taught us the power of action, but he also taught us the power of ideas; the importance of reason and arguments; the need to study not only those who you agree with, but also those you don’t agree with… Mandela [also] demonstrated that action and ideas are not enough. No matter how right, they must be chiselled into law and institutions. He was practical, testing his beliefs against the hard surface of circumstance and history’
We can expect Obama to propose practical ways to achieve this and for sustaining our democracies, ensuring that Mandela will inspire democrats of all ages everywhere.
Diver hails ‘incredibly strong’ Thai cave boys
A foreign diver involved in the mission to save 12 boys and their football coach from a flooded Thai cave has hailed the children as “incredibly strong,” and described their treacherous escape journey as unprecedented.
“They are getting forced to do something that no kid has ever done before. It is not in any way normal for kids to go cave diving at age 11,” Ivan Karadzic, who runs a diving business in Thailand,said in an interview that was published online on Tuesday.
“They are diving in something considered (an) extremely hazardous environment in zero visibility, the only light that is in there is the torch light we bring our self.”
The boys, aged from 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach, ventured into the Tham Luang cave in northern Thailand on June 23 after football practice and became trapped when heavy rains flooded the cave.
Two British divers found them nine days later huddled on a muddy ledge in pitch darkness more than four kilometres inside the cave system.
Authorities then gathered 90 divers, 50 of them foreigners, to help extract the boys out of a claustrophobic tunnel network that in some places was completely filled with water and so narrow that they could only be squeezed through.
Conditions were so dangerous that a retired Thai Navy SEAL died on Friday while trying to lay out oxygen tanks underwater in a tunnel, and the rescue chief at one point dubbed the operation “Mission Impossible.”
Adding to the dangers, most of the boys could not swim, and none had scuba diving experience.
However, the divers escorted all the boys out on Sunday and Monday and Tuesday.
“We were obviously very afraid of any kind of panic from the divers,” he said, adding he was in awe of the boys’ ability to stay calm.
“I cannot understand how cool these small kids are, you know? Thinking about how they’ve been kept in a small cave for two weeks, they haven’t seen their mums. Incredibly strong kids. Unbelievable almost.”
Celebrations will be tinged with sadness over the loss of a former Thai navy diver who died last Friday while on a re-supply mission inside the cave in support of the rescue.
The last five were brought out of the cave on stretchers, one by one over the course of Tuesday, and taken by helicopter to hospital.
Three members of the SEAL unit and an army doctor, who has stayed with the boys since they were found, were the last people due to come out of the cave, the unit said.
Officials have not been commenting on the rescue mission as it has been taking place, so it was not clear what condition those brought out on Tuesday were in.
The eight boys brought out on Sunday and Monday were in good health overall and some asked for chocolate bread for breakfast, officials said earlier.
Two of the boys had suspected lung infections but the four boys from the first group rescued were all walking around in hospital.
Authorities have not confirmed the identity of the rescued boys and some of their parents said they had not been told who had been brought out. They were not allowed to visit the hospital where the boys were taken.
The rescued boys had not been identified out of respect for the families whose sons were still trapped, officials had said.
The boys were still being quarantined from their parents because of the risk of infection and would likely be kept in hospital for a week to undergo tests, officials said earlier on Tuesday.
Cardinal who announced Pope Francis’s election dies aged 75
ardinal Jean-Louis Tauran led interreligious dialogue between the Church and Muslim communities
French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, an experienced diplomat and head of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, has died at the age of 75 in Hartford, Connecticut, where he was receiving medical treatment.
The cardinal, who had been living with Parkinson’s disease, led a Vatican delegation to Saudi Arabia in April.
But it was his role as “proto-deacon” or top-ranking cardinal deacon in 2013, that put him more squarely in the spotlight, appearing at the basilica balcony to announce to the world, “Habemus papam,” “We have a Pope.”
In a telegram to the cardinal’s sister, Pope Francis extended his condolences and praised the cardinal’s “sense of service and his love for the Church.”
Cardinal Tauran left a deep and lasting mark on the Church, the Pope said, noting the great trust and esteem in which he was held, particularly by Muslims.
“I have fond memories of this man of profound faith who courageously served the church of Christ to the end, despite the weight of disease,” he wrote.
Born in Bordeaux, France, April 5, 1943, the cardinal was ordained to the priesthood in 1969 and entered the Vatican’s diplomatic service in 1975. He worked in apostolic nunciatures in the Dominican Republic and Lebanon from 1975 to 1983. He was a representative to the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe from 1983 to 1988, pressing the Vatican’s position on human rights at a time when the Soviet-bloc regimes of Eastern Europe were weakening.
He was called to work in the Secretariat of State, first named undersecretary for relations with states in 1988, then secretary of the department in 1990. For the next 13 years, he was St John Paul II’s “foreign minister,” the official who dealt with all aspects of the Vatican’s foreign policy.
Most of his work has been behind the scenes, with daily unpublicized meetings with diplomats accredited to the Holy See and with visiting dignitaries. But sometimes he was called upon to express Vatican positions more openly – on war and peace, on the Holy Land or on the rights of minority Catholic communities.
St John Paul ordained him an archbishop in January 1991 and elevated him to the College of Cardinals in 2003, soon after making him head of the Vatican Library and the Vatican Secret Archives.
In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI then named him President of Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, the office overseeing the Vatican’s dialogue efforts with representatives of other faiths, including Islam. The Pope had placed the interreligious council under the wing of the Pontifical Council for Culture in 2006 but, with Cardinal Tauran’s appointment, he returned the office to its previous autonomy and high profile.
Addressing a conference on Muslim-Christian dialogue in Qatar in 2004, Cardinal Tauran told participants that political leaders have nothing to fear from true religious believers.
“Believers who are recognised and respected for who they are will be more inclined to work together for a society of which they are full members,” he said.
He once told diplomats that the reason then-Pope John Paul made so many pronouncements against world conflicts and wars was not in an attempt to get involved in politics, “but to show men and women the correct path, to revive their consciences, to highlight rights and the commitments made to them, and to repeat with new words the Gospel beatitude: ‘Blessed are the peacemakers.’”
His death leaves the College of Cardinals with 225 members, 124 of whom are under 80 and therefore eligible to vote in a conclave.
Philippine bishops call for three days fasting after president calls God ‘stupid’
In a thinly veiled attack on President Duterte, the bishops condemned ‘those who have blasphemed God’s Holy Name’
Catholic bishops in the Philippines, concerned about an increase in violence and police reaction to crime, announced a day of prayer and penance on July 16 and three days of fasting, prayer and penance on July 17-19.
The bishops said they wanted to “invoke God’s mercy and justice on those who have blasphemed God’s Holy Name, those who slander and bear false witness, and those who commit murder or justify murder as a means for fighting criminality in our country.”
In a pastoral letter, the bishops discussed “the cost of witnessing to Christ” and “the sufferings of the poor” as part of the motivation for fasting, prayer and penance.
Among the sufferings they listed were “the cry of poor slum-dwellers being jailed for ‘loitering’ … the sufferings of drug addicts who are labelled as nonhumans,” people “packed like sardines in extremely congested jails,” and “communities forced to leave their homes.”
The bishops also discussed the suffering that comes with being a Christian, saying that divisions, ridicule, persecution and even martyrdom have not been unknown throughout the Church’s history.
“What is new about priests being murdered for witnessing to Christ? What is new about modern prophets being silenced by the treacherous bullets of assassins?” the exhortation asked.
On June 10, gunmen shot Fr Richmond Villaflor Nilo as he was about to celebrate Mass in a village chapel. He was the third priest shot in the Philippines within six months.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte made anti-Christian remarks while speaking June 22, saying “Adam ate (the apple), then malice was born. Who is this stupid God? This son of a bitch is stupid if that’s the case.”
Several bishops individually condemned these comments afterwards. Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon said Duterte’s statements and actions are “intolerable to normal, well-minded people,” and Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga said the remarks crossed a “red line.”
In their July letter, the bishops addressed “those who accuse us of getting involved in political moves to destabilise the government.” The bishops said their concern is not earthly governments, which “come and go.” They said, “We work only for God’s kingdom, which is beyond this world.”
“When we speak out on certain issues, it is always from the perspective of faith and morals, especially the principles of social justice, never with any political or ideological agenda in mind.”
“We do not fight our battles with guns and bullets … the battles that we fight are spiritual,” they added.
The bishops chose July 16 because it is the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, “the mountain associated with the bold challenge of the prophet Elijah in defence of God.”
They urged Filipinos to pray to Mary.
“And when we lose heart in the face of persecution, may we stand by you at the foot of the cross and regain our strength from the blood and water that flowed from the wounded side of your beloved Son, our Lord and saviour, Jesus Christ,” they said.
Nigerian embassy in South Africa angry as gunman kills another Igbo
The Nigeria Mission in South Africa has condemned the killing of another Nigerian, Mr Ozumba Tochukwu-Lawrence, by a gunman in South Africa.
Consul-General of Nigeria in South Africa made this known in a statement by the Vice Consul Information and Culture, David Abraham, on Sunday in Abuja.
Abraham said the Consul General received with pain the unfortunate news of the assassination of Tochukwu-Lawrence by a yet to be identified assailant.
He said that the ugly incident was said to have occurred at 10 Koppe, Middleburg, Mpumalanga, South Africa, on July 6.
“An eye witness account has it that an unknown man made a way into the compound of Mr Ozumba Tochukwu-Lawrence and requested to see him.
“On being told about his guest, he came out to meet him, and the man opened fire on him and shot him six times, resulting in his death before he could reach the hospital.
“The reason behind the sad incident is yet to be established, but this is very unfortunate and condemnable,” he said.
He said that the Consulate commiserated with the deceased’s family and indeed, the entire Nigerian community in South Africa.
The Consulate, he said, was also calling on the South African relevant authorities to unravel the mystery behind this dastardly act.
“Efforts should be made by the Police and other relevant agencies to apprehend the assailant and bring him to justice.
“We also call on our nationals to cooperate with the police and judicial officers in their investigation and prosecution.
“The Nigerian Consulate will continue to advance the welfare and security of Nigerians in South Africa.
“We also call on our citizens to remain calm and eschew violence, as we seek to obtain justice for the deceased and members of his family,” he said.
The killing of Nigerians in South Africa had been on the increase in recent times.
Before the latest one, there was the assassination of ThankGod Okoro, who was reportedly shot dead in Hamburg, Florida West Rand, in Johannesburg on April 9, 2018 by the South African Police Flying Squad.
There was also the killing of Clement Nwaogu in April, a father of two, who was burnt to death by his assailant.
These wanton killings of Nigerians in South Africa had sparked a number of protests.
Also for demanding justice on behalf of their fallen compatriots, 14 of the protesters were taken into custody and branded drug peddlers.
India : Nigerian killed in Haryana police raid
Gurugram: A Nigerian national was killed and a Ghana citizen was arrested in a joint operation by Haryana’s Crime Branch of Gurugram and Faridabad, police said on Friday, adding that cocaine and a pistol was seized from them.
Police said Gurugram’s Crime Branch unit 17 chief Narendra Chauhan and his team was following the Nigerian, a suspected drug peddler, early on Friday.
The foreigners were in an Ola taxi on the Gurugram-Ghata-Faridabad road.
The police stopped the taxi and tried to catch the men but one of them opened fire, a police officer said. During a scuffle, the Nigerian was killed by a bullet fired from his own pistol, the officer said.
The deceased was identified as Michael Charles, who lives in the Faridabad’s Green Field Colony in a rental accommodation.
The arrested Ghana citizen was identified as Inchiku Ehanacho.
Police spokesperson Sube Singh said the body had been sent to the Badshah Khan Hospital in Faridabad and the Nigerian embassy had been informed.
A pistol and white and brown powder (which prima facie seems to be cocaine) were recovered from them.
Tanzanian politician arrested for ‘insulting’ president
A senior leader of a Tanzanian opposition party has been arrested for insulting President John Magufuli.
He’s the latest in a line of several citizens and politicians who have been detained on similar charges.
Posting a question “Who is the President, really?” on his Facebook page was enough to get Julius Mtatiro arrested.
Police detained him as they found this phrase offensive to the president. They went on to search Mr Mtatiro’s home for the device used to post on social media.
Mr Mtatiro had reposted in solidarity with a young man in North Western Tanzania, who originally raised the question on his Facebook page and himself got arrested three days ago.
Rights activists have been criticising the Tanzanian authorities for suppressing free speech.
But the government says unlimited freedom of expression may result into a breach of peace.
Challenge to Swaziland name change
A pro-democracy activist in Swaziland has challenged the king’s decision to change the country’s name.
In April, King Mswati III, one of the world’s last-remaining absolute monarchs, unexpectedly announced he was changing the country’s official name to the Kingdom of eSwatini.
The activist, Thulani Maseko, argued in papers submitted to the High Court that the decision was invalid because there had been no prior public consultation.
He said the decision was whimsical and a waste of money in a country with serious health problems.
The government has not yet responded to the challenge.
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