- Vows to Get Compensation for Xenophobic Victims
By Mathew Dadiya, Abuja
Federal Government Thursday said that it was not bothered by the attendance of some Nugerian State governors at the World Economic Forum (WEF) taking place in Cape Town, South Africa after the country withdrew its participation
due to the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other foreign nationals.
Speaking State House correspondents after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama said that Nigerian government would do everything possible to secure compensation for all her citizens affected by the xenophobic attacks in the former apartheid country.
Some of the governors who attended the WEF from Nigeria were Ekiti and Kaduna as well as some members of the business class.
The Federal Government also denied knowledge of the temporary closure of South African High Commission in Nigeria.
The South African Foreign Affairs Minister, Naledi Pandor was reported to have said that the government had temporarily closed its embassy in Nigeria.
She also said South Africa was in constant touch with Nigerian authorities to try to restore calm, adding that there was no provision in local law for compensation for damage caused in the attacks.
But Onyeama said, “We are not aware that the South African government has closed down its High Commission here in Abuja or its consulate in Lagos.”
Fielding question from journalists on whether the participation of some Nigerians including the governors was not an affront on the position of the Federal Government, the Minister of Foreign Affairs explained that the governors may have arrived South Africa before the decision was taken.
Besides, he said that the WEF was not a South African event, rather a global forum but taking place in South Africa.
”The World Economic Forum process has started a number of days ago and the governors who are there had gone there ahead even before this whole issue materialized, they were already engaged in that.
“The first thing you have to realize is that the World Economic Forum is not a South African government initiative. It is a Swiss based mechanism and it takes place in different places
“It is not a question of disobedience because they were actually there already before this decision was taken.”
On the alleged withdrawal of Nigerian High Commissioner in South Africa, Onyeama said, “Yesterday (Wednesday) I did make the comment that we have not taken a decision to withdraw or recall our High Commissioner in South Africa, what I pointed out yesterday is this, Mr. President has sent Special Envoy to South Africa.
“So we are going to wait for the report of the Special Envoy when he comes back in about two days time. And on that basis after we have received the report, it is likely that we must supplement that report by also calling the High Commissioner back for consultation so that Mr. President will be able to get as comprehensive and full a picture of the situation in South Africa.
“So, the High Commissioner will be coming after the Special Envoy has returned for consultations and then once the President has full briefing from all the actors directly engaged, we will be able to make an informed decision on what further steps to take.”
Asked if South African government had reacted to the position taken by Nigeria, he said, “Regarding reaction from South Africa after it was decided that the Vice President should no longer participate in the World Economic Forum meeting there, we have not received any direct reaction.
“But of course that is to be expected since we informed the South African authorities that the Special Envoy of Mr. President is coming to his country.”
On compensation, which the South African Foreign Affairs Minister, Naledi Pandor had said that the country had no provision for such in its laws, the Minister said Nigeria government would do everything possible to ensure that the victims were compensated.
He said,”Our citizens there have suffered lost and it is the responsibility of this government to ensure that they are compensated and we will take measures necessary and do whatever we have to do to ensure that they are compensated.
“I haven’t seen the statement from South African yet, when we see it, we have to look at and study it and we will decide what further measures we need to take.”
Also answering question on the closure of the South African mission offices in Nigeria, Onyeama said that the Federal Government was not aware of such.
Husband of Slain Kenyan Runner Tirop Seeks Plea Bargain
The husband of slain Kenyan distance runner Agnes Tirop is seeking a plea bargain after initially denying a charge of murder, his lawyer said yesterday.
Tirop, a rising star in the world of athletics, was killed last October in her home in Iten, a high-altitude training hub in western Kenya for top runners.
Emmanuel Ibrahim Rotich was arrested after a dramatic late-night chase the day after Tirop’s body was found with stab wounds, and has been in custody ever since.
The 41-year-old denied a charge of murder at a November court appearance.
But in the latest twist in the legal saga, his lawyer Ngigi Mbugua told the Eldoret High Court that Rotich was willing to plead guilty to a lesser charge in the hope of attracting a more lenient sentence.
The prosecution said it was not against the idea of a plea bargain but wanted Tirop’s family to be involved in the process.
A hearing on Rotich’s request will take place on 22 September.
US Beach Returned to Black Owners after 98 Years
A prime beachfront resort seized from its black owners nearly 100 years ago has been returned to their descendants by officials in Los Angeles.
Bruce’s Beach was purchased in 1912 to create a beach resort for black people at a time of racial segregation in southern California.
Located in the desirable city of Manhattan Beach, it was forcibly taken by the local council in 1924.
But on Tuesday, Los Angeles officials voted to return the land to the family.
Willa and Charles Bruce bought the two lots of land for $1,225 in 1912. The beach is now worth an estimated $20m (£16.45m).
Willa told a reporter at the time: “Wherever we have tried to buy land for a beach resort, we have been refused, but I own this land and I am going to keep it.”
Over the next decade, Bruce’s Beach became a “citadel for African Americans coming there for leisure from all over the rest of southern California,” family spokesman Chief Duane “Yellow Feather” Shepard told the BBC last year.
But the local police department put up signs limiting parking to 10 minutes, and another local landowner put up no trespassing signs, forcing people to walk half a mile to reach the water, he said.
When those measures failed to deter visitors, the local authorities seized the land under eminent domain laws – designed to let the government forcibly buy land needed for roads and other public buildings.
Officials claimed they planned to build a park. That did not happen until many decades later, and the area remained vacant in the interim.
On Tuesday, the motion to return the land acknowledged, “it is well documented that this move was a racially motivated attempt to drive out the successful black business and its patrons”.
NATO to Agree on Biggest Defence Policy Changes since End of Cold War
NATO leaders are expected to sign off on a major reinforcement of the alliance’s Eastern European members on Wednesday when they meet in Madrid to project a united stance amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The decision is a fundamental shift of deterrence and defence in the alliance, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said as the three-day summit began on Tuesday.
Stoltenberg was echoing previous comments ahead of the summit that described the move as “the biggest overhaul of (NATO’s) collective deterrence and defence since the Cold War.”
The war in Ukraine has breathed new purpose into the Western alliance after years of internal discord as tensions grew between Europe and the U.S. under former U.S president Donald Trump.
French President Emmanuel Macron even remarked in 2019 that NATO was experiencing brain death as doubts grew about the alliance’s direction over trans-Atlantic tensions.
The chaotic end to the U.S. and NATO’s 20-year intervention in Afghanistan helped little until the Ukraine war underlined the alliance’s central aim: collective defence.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has made even clearer how important NATO is for the future, Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said at the start of the summit.
As well as new confidence, NATO is also attracting new members with Sweden and Finland deciding to abandon neutrality and pursue membership in view of the Russian invasion.
In an early boost to proceedings, Turkey agreed on Tuesday to drop its veto of Sweden and Finland’s entry to the alliance after significant pledges from both countries to combat terrorism.
Ankara had opposed both countries’ entry for weeks, charging both nations with supporting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the YPG.
A Kurdish militia based in Syria, both of which Ankara classified as terrorist groups. Sweden and Finland refuted this.
On Wednesday the trans-Atlantic alliance is set to agree to position more equipment near Russia, including heavy weaponry; to boost troop numbers in multinational NATO battlegroups in Eastern Europe.
It will also expand rapid reaction forces from 40,000 to 300,000 soldiers.
The NATO Response Force (NRF) is usually under national command but can be requested for deployment to another ally by NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR).
NATO allies are still finalising details of the exact composition of the expanded battle groups in Eastern Europe, with some alliance members seeking to avoid costly permanent bases.
The Baltics, especially Estonia, have pushed NATO hard to shift tactics in light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and move to the fully-fledged defence of alliance territory in Eastern Europe.
This would replace a model to relinquish and later recapture lost ground.
The 30-strong Western defensive alliance was to also agree on a new strategic concept outlining NATO’s security tasks and missions, the first update since 2010.
The alliance’s security blueprint for the next 10 years is expected to categorise Russia as the most direct threat to NATO as well as address China for the first time.
NATO partner countries in the Indo-Pacific region Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea were also taking part, a sign that the war in Ukraine has not completely occupied the alliance’s attention.
NATO members also planned to commit to providing Ukraine with long-term support including more equipment, supplies, training and help to transition away from Soviet-era military equipment.
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