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Nigerian women activists issue 7-day ultimatum to lawmakers over rejected gender bills

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A coalition of Nigerian women activist groups, Womanifesto, has given federal lawmakers a seven-day ultimatum to consider urgently “re-convening, reconsideration, and immediately passing an all-women/gender-related bills by the National Assembly.”

The women group which has been staging a daily protest at the National Assembly in the past 10 days to register their anger over the recent rejection of all gender bills by the Assembly, said if at the expiration of the ultimatum, the legislators still refuse to revisit the bills, they would have no option but to completely occupy the Assembly.

Over the years, Nigerian women, led by Senator Abiodun Olujimi, have continuously clamouerd for more inclusiveness in politics and governance, and recently, have been making demands for the immediate passage of an all women/gender-related bills, including a bill giving women more seats in the State Houses of Assembly and the National Assembly, the Senate and the House of Representatives.

But sadly, the Bill was rejected by the Senate in December of 2021, leading the Senator to with draw it with a vow to represented a reworked version at a later date.

They are also seeking the passage of the Gender and Equal Opportunities (GEOB) Bill, currently before the Senate, and the resuscitation and passage of a bill in support for “Women Participation in Elective and Appointive.”

The women also called for the immediate Domestication of the African Charters Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa,” which Nigeria ratified in 2004, the immediate domestication of the UN Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), ratified by Nigeria since 1985 and demanded to know the voting pattern on sensitive matters of citizen rights.

According to a 2019 report by a research outfit, Brookings, South Africa is the highest ranked African country when it comes to gender equality while Niger Republic ranks the lowest.

The report had also recommended that by 2025, other parts of Africa required an additional $316 billion to its GDP if every country is to improve its gender equality score to match the best performing country on each indicator.

In a statement at a press conference by one of the Coordinators of the protest, Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, the women coalition said:

“We acknowledge the efforts of Nigerian Women in occupying the National Assembly for ten days, the tenacity which they have demonstrated has shown that women can no longer be taken for a ride, and that we have decided to affirm our status as full citizens in this country and that our future cannot just be determined by few people who see us as lesser human beings.

“Our ten days’ occupation is a testament to our strength and our resilience; it is the emergence of a national movement.

“We can categorically say that the events in the last few weeks have played an important role in spotlighting these demands and demonstrated women’s optimism, motivation and resilience in leading positive changes through their dogged insistence.

“We also urge all Nigerians, especially its women, not to give up hope as we shall continue to apply pressure to persuade the NASS to act responsibly. We will continue to engage the media and state assemblies to vote in favour of the gender bill.

“While we await NASS to live up to its billing by reversing itself, we urge all citizens who want to see change to prepare to continue to stand against every form of injustice and contribute to the emergence of laws that will address the fundamental issues affecting all citizens.”

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Two Liberian Maritime officials arrested for alleged rape in South Korea while on seminar

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Two top Liberian Maritime Authorities staff who were in South Korea for a seminar were on Saturday, arrested and detained by the Asian country’s police for allegedly raping two teenage girls.

The suspects identified as Moses Owen Browne and Daniel Tarr, were arrested at a hotel in the southeastern city of Busan after a friend of the victims reported the case to the police, the Busan police said in a statement.

Browne, Liberia’s Permanent Representative to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), and Tarr, a Director of the Department of Marine Environmental Protection at the Liberia Maritime Authority (LiMA), were in South Korea on a government mission to the IMO, which means they were representing the West African country at the programme.

According to a statement on the LiMA website condemning the incident, the officials were in South Korea attending the “International Maritime Organization (IMO) GHG SMART Practical Training and Study Visit” when this alleged incident occurred.

“LiMA unequivocally maintains a zero-tolerance stance on any types of sexual and gender-based offenses, and views these allegations of the conduct of its Officials as most egregious, having no place in any civilized society.

“Liberia Maritime Authority will fully cooperate with the Government of the Republic of South Korea in the investigation of this incident and vows to take appropriate actions, under national and international Law,” the statement read.

The South Korean police said it plans to seek formal arrest warrants for the two men which would allow them to hold the suspects in custody for up to 10 days before charging them to court.

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Interim Malian PM accuses France of stabbing country in the back following withdrawal of troops

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Interim Mali’s Prime Minister, Abdoulaye Idrissa Maïga, has accused its former colonial masters, France, of “stabbing” the West African country in the back following the withdrawal of the European country’s military in August.

Maïga who addressed the 77th Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) holding in New York on Saturday, criticised France for taking a “hasty” decision by withdrawing its troops from the country which is still battling to contain the incursions of jihadist militants and terrorists.

“The world will remember that, after being abandoned in mid-air on 10 June 2021 by France’s unilateral decision to withdraw the Barkhane force from Mali, my country was then stabbed in the back by the French authorities,” Maïga said.

“In view of the seriousness of the acts committed by the French, Mali, in its letter dated 15 August 2022, requested an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council.

“The purpose of this meeting is to allow Mali to present the evidence in its possession, demonstrating that the French army has repeatedly attacked my country.

“I would like to say that the Malian people have decided to take their destiny into their own hands. They fully support the government in rebuilding Mali and in returning to a peaceful and secure constitutional order in March 2024, following free, transparent and credible elections,” the Interim PM added.

France had withdrawn its troops from Mali following several accusations by the Malian government against members of its forces including extrajudicial killings, after its first military intervention in 2013, leading an effort to oust Islamic extremists from taking control of northern Malian towns.

The withdrawal of the French troops ended its nine years presence in the country in a bid to stabilise the country amid repeated attacks by insurgents.

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