By - Adedoyin Shittu
Major highlight of the 41st week of 2019 was the BBC Africa eye documentary released on Wednesday, October 9, 2019. Academic institutions in West Africa have increasingly been facing allegations of sexual harassment by lecturers and this documentaries caught highly rated lecturers caught in the very act of inappropriate relationship with their female students and prospective students. Also this week was a win for Africa especially for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed as he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for ending two decades of hostility with longtime enemy Eritrea. Aprecon brings you a brief of these and some other major headlines in Africa this week.
Sex for Grades: undercover inside Nigerian and Ghanaian universities
A BBC documentary has detailed a slew of sex-for-grades stories emanating from universities in Nigeria and Ghana through its ‘Africa Eye’ initiative. A student of the University of Lagos (Unilag) can be seen saying: “this thing has been going on for years. And every single year, every single department. Every single student. There’s always a story.”
To get the stories of sexual harassment out, BBC reporter Kiki Mordi and her team went undercover, speaking to lecturers and students in Nigeria and Ghana, while arming themselves with body or spy cameras.
Professor Boniface Igbeneghu, a Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Arts; and a former Sub Dean of the University of Lagos (Unilag), could be seen in the documentary trying to sexually harass a BBC reporter who poses as a 17-year-old, while sharing tales of sex for grades with her. Boniface is also a Pastor of the Foursquare Gospel Church.
The “17-year-old” wanted placement in Unilag and Boniface, strutting around the place with a pot belly, could be seen asking her to be obedient and telling her there will be consequences if she doesn’t continue to see him afterwards. “I can call you to come any day and if you don’t come, I know you are gone,” the Unilag Professor threatens. According to the BBC, students of Unilag have long alleged that Prof Boniface was in the habit of sexually molesting and abusing students, applicants or freshers for grades. “He’ll tell you to come to the office and he’ll lock the door,” one student says of Boniface. Another female student of Unilag laments that “nobody wants to believe victims. Nobody wants to do anything. It is crazy. I know a lot of people have been abused.” One student says of Boniface: “He was preparing for Bible study, he was groping me and writing down scripture…” Unilag has dissociated itself from the alleged behavior of Dr. Boniface and that it has a zero tolerance towards sexual harassment.
Dr Paul Kwame Butakor of the College of Education, University of Ghana, was also seen in the footage, applying to be a female student’s ‘side boy’ or ‘assistant boyfriend’. According to the BBC: “Dr Butakor vehemently denies any amorous behavior with our reporter or any student, saying he follows all university harassment and misconduct rules. He says he had no intention of dating her or circumventing university process to secure placement for her in return for sex.
The University of Ghana says it considers allegations of misconduct leveled against Dr. Butakor to be extremely disturbing. It has a proactive policy on sexual harassment and is committed to rooting out the problem.
Allegations of sexual harassment in Nigerian Universities have been around for decades and almost every graduate of the nation’s institutions has a story to tell on the disturbing subject. There have also been stories in the local press of lecturers sexually harassing students and threatening them with failing grades if they refuse to sleep with them, for years. Given the prevalence of the sex-for-grades syndrome in Nigerian universities, the Nigerian senate passed a bill criminalizing sexual harassment in tertiary institutions in October of 2016. The bill which was put forward by Ovie Omo-Agege prescribed a 5-year jail term for lecturers and educators convicted of sexual harassment of their male or female students. The bill also recommended expulsion or suspension for students whose claims of being serially abused by lecturers or educators are found to be false by any competent court. In the alternative, the bill also proposed a fine of N5million in the event that the accused person is convicted by a competent court of law. The bill is however yet to be consented to by the House of Representatives, a step required before it is sent to the Executive for assent.
Rwanda: Over 120 more refugees arrive in Rwanda from Libya
The second batch of migrants who were being held in detention centres in Libya arrived in Rwanda early on Friday morning, October 11, as part of a resettlement deal. The group is composed of 99 men, 24 women and 59 minors, an official from Rwanda’s ministry of emergency management told reporters. The UN Refugee agency said 106 are from Eritrea, 15 from Somalia, two from Sudan and one from Syria. The resettlement is part of an agreement between the Rwanda government, UNHCR and the African Union, which will benefit 500 migrants being detained in Libya.
Mali: U.N. peacekeeper killed, four wounded in Mali mine attack
A U.N. peacekeeper was killed and four others wounded on Sunday, October 6, when their vehicle hit an explosive device in northern Mali, the U.N. mission (MINUSMA) said. The identity of the attackers was not immediately clear.
U.N. peacekeeping and French forces are stationed in Mali to combat jihadist groups seen as threatening security across Africa’s Sahel region.
The soldiers had been participating in a patrol near the village of Aguelhok when the blast hit, U.N. mission spokesman Olivier Salgado tweeted. Elsewhere on Sunday, peacekeepers in Mali’s central region of Mopti exchanged fire with members of an unidentified armed group after they came under attack, he said.
Rwanda: Rwanda kills 19 assailants after deadly national park attack
Rwandan police forces have killed 19 attackers who were part of a group that carried out a deadly attack killing at least 14 people over the weekend in a tourist hub in the north of the country on Friday,Ocober 4, and others are still on the run, a police spokesman said. The assailants, who mostly carried traditional weapons like knives, attacked the Kinigi sector in Musanze district, where the Volcanoes National Park offers tourists the chance to view endangered mountain gorillas.
National police spokesman John Bosco Kabera said in a statement late Sunday, October 6, that five other attackers have been arrested after the assault on Friday in Musanze district near the Congo border.
Rwanda has in the past seen attacks by fighters from the rebel FDLR force from their bases in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Dozens of rebel groups are also active in mineral-rich eastern Congo, and the Rwandan district has been attacked repeatedly in the past. The FDLR is composed of former Rwandan soldiers and Hutu militias who fled after taking part in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.
Rwanda: Rwanda deports US pastor whose radio station had been banned
Police in Rwanda have arrested a controversial American pastor as he was about to conduct a press conference in the capital Kigali. Greeg Schoof had been arrested for holding an “illegal meeting with journalists in a public space,” police spokesman John Bosco Kabera told reporters. Pastor Schoof owned a Christian radio station, Amazing Grace Radio FM, which was banned last year after it was accused of promoting division in the country. The radio station had caused widespread anger last year after a local pastor said on-air that women were “dangerous creatures of evil, going against God’s plans”.
Pastor Schoof said he had been denied access to a venue he had booked to give a press conference before he left Rwanda. As he stood outside complaining to journalists, police arrived and arrested him.
In a press release entitled Before I leave, Pastor Schoof said the Rwandan government “has taken a stand against God with its heathen practices”. “Christian radio illegally closed, 7,000 churches illegally closed, condoms are promoted to children in schools which promotes filth.” his statement reads. Gregg Schoof was deported late that evening directly to the United States.
Mali: Al Qaeda affiliate claims deadly attack on Malian army
Al Qaeda’s West Africa affiliate on Tuesday, October 8, claimed responsibility for coordinated, deadly attacks last week on two army bases in central Mali. Thirty-eight soldiers were killed and dozens others went missing during attacks on bases in Boulkessi and Mondoro, in some of the worst violence seen against the army this year. From their stronghold in Mali, groups with al Qaeda and Islamic State links have been able to fan out across the Sahel, destabilizing parts of Niger and Burkina Faso.
Zimbabwe: Another fuel and energy price hike
There appears to be no end in sight for hard pressed Zimbabwean consumers as they now have to pay 26% more for fuel and 300% more for energy starting this Sunday.
Fuel prices in the southern African country have been going up every week, but this week’s hike is the biggest jump to date. According to a notice published by energy regulator Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) on Saturday, prices for diesel and petrol are up by 26% and 27% to $15.64 and $14.97, respectively.
Ethiopia: Ethiopian police teargas protesters in Amhara: local party official
Police tear gassed hundreds of protesters outside a court in Ethiopia’s northern city of Bahir Dar on Tuesday, October 8, a local party official and an eyewitness said, reflecting public tensions over high profile violence that left dozens dead there in June. The man, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisals, told reporters that the protesters were chanting demands that the government reveal “the truth” over the killings described by the government as a regional coup attempt.
The June violence flared up after a rogue state militia leader killed the region’s state president and other top level officials, sparking a shootout in Bahir Dar, the capital of Amhara. Desalegn Chane, president of the new National Movement of Amhara (NAMA) party, confirmed police fired tear gas at protesters. “Youth protested, police fired tear gas and dispersed them,” he told reporters, adding that there were no casualties.
The regional spokesman declined to comment. The region’s top police official did not respond to a request for comment. Amhara is a northern region in Ethiopia and is home to Ethiopia’s second largest ethnic group which bears the same name.
Rwanda: Rwanda launches first ‘Made in Africa’ smartphones
Rwanda’s Mara Group launched two smartphones on Monday, describing them as the first “Made in Africa” models and giving a boost to the country’s ambitions to become a regional technology hub. The Mara X and Mara Z will use Google’s Android operating system and cost 175,750 Rwandan francs ($190) and 120,250 Rwandan francs ($130) respectively. “This is the first smartphone manufacturer in Africa,” Thakkar told Reuters after touring the company alongside Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame.
South Africa: South Africa’s Zuma to face corruption trial
South Africa’s scandal-plagued former president Jacob Zuma will face a corruption trial, a court ruled on Friday,October 11, in one of multiple alleged graft cases over his long political career.
The country’s High Court unanimously dismissed Zuma’s bid for a permanent stay of prosecution over 16 counts of fraud, racketeering and money laundering relating to a multi-billion-dollar arms deal dating back to before he took office in 2009. He maintained the case was politically-motivated and years of delay would result in an unfair trial. The judge agreed with the prosecution that parts of Zuma’s arguments to have the case thrown out were “scandalous and or vexatious”. The National Prosecuting Authority’s spokeswoman Natasha Kara told reporters that “the matter has been set down for trial from the 15th to the 18th of October”.
Both Zuma and Thales have denied any wrongdoing, and the former president could still appeal the ruling, experts have suggested. But if it goes ahead, it would be the first time the former leader has stood trial on corruption charges, despite a series of graft allegations.
The court’s ruling on Friday came just a day after the US Treasury slapped sanctions on the three Indian-born Gupta brothers, calling them a “significant corruption network” that dispersed bribes and misappropriated millions in state funds. Zuma also appeared before a judicial inquiry in July that is probing allegations he organised a systematic plunder of government coffers in a scandal known as “state capture”. A few days later he pulled out of the inquiry saying that he had been “treated as someone who was accused”. But he later agreed to return at a future date.
DRC: Tshisekedi’s staff feared dead after plane crash in eastern DRC
Search and Rescue teams in the Democratic Republic of Congo are yet to find any bodies, after a cargo plane carrying presidential staff crashed in the eastern part of the country. All eight passengers and crew are feared dead, a presidential adviser told reporters on Friday, October 11. The plane, carrying President Felix Tshisekedi’s driver, a logistics manager and some soldiers, was headed from Goma to the capital Kinshasa and went off radar on Thursday afternoon, an hour after departing, a statement from the civil aviation authority said. Debris of the plane has been found but the passengers are still missing, said adviser Vidiye Tshimanga. He had told reporters earlier on Friday that eight bodies had been found but said that information was incorrect. The cause of the accident was not yet clear.
Sudan: Sudan’s Ruling Council Appoints 1st Woman Chief Justice in Africa
Sudan’s Nemat Abdullah Khair on Thursday, October 10, became one of a small number of female judiciary heads on the African content, following her appointment to the position by the ruling Transitional Sovereignty Council. This is the first time the Arab Muslim nation will have a female leading the judiciary, which has in the past been accused of enabling former president omar al-Bashir’s regime to suppress dissent and lock up opposition figures. The Supreme Court Judge was nominated by the judges’ professional association, which was part of a protest movement that helped oust Bashir in April.
Ethiopia: Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed awarded Nobel Peace Prize
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize yesterday for his peacemaking efforts which ended two decades of hostility with longtime enemy Eritrea. Though Africa’s youngest leader still faces big challenges, he has, in under two years in power, begun political and economic reforms that promise a better life for many in impoverished Ethiopia and restored ties with Eritrea that had been frozen since a 1998-2000 border war. “We are proud as a nation,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement, hailing a “collective win for all Ethiopians, and a call to strengthen our resolve in making Ethiopia – the new horizon of hope – a prosperous nation for all”.
South Sudan: U.S. imposes sanctions on two South Sudanese businessmen for fraud, bribery
The United States on Friday imposed sanctions on two South Sudanese businessmen, Ashraf Seed Ahmed Al-Cardinal and Kur Ajing Ater, for their involvement in bribery, kickbacks and procurement fraud with senior government officials, the Treasury Department said on Friday. After the U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Benjamin Bol Mel, a key adviser to the South Sudanese president, in 2017, Mel used an account in the name of the companies of Al-Cardinal to evade sanctions and store personal funds, the Treasury Department said in a statement.
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