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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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M23 rebels take control of Kitshanga in eastern DR Congo

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The M23 rebels have announced that its fighters have seized control of the strategic town of Kitshanga, in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), after days of intense fighting.

The DRC military authorities also confirmed in a statement late on Friday that its forces have withdrawn from the town in a tactical move to protect civilians in the face of a renewed offensive by the rebel militia.

“We have tactically withdrawn from the city in order to attract these genocidal forces deep into the city and avoid the worst for our people in Kitshanga,” spokesman for the military governor of North Kivu, Lieutenant-Colonel Guillaume Ndjike, said in the statement.

“We are making every effort to dislodge this enemy,” he added.

Videos then emerged on social media showing the M23 fighters celebrating and claiming they had captured the town.

The M23 rebels said it took control of Kitshanga town on Thursday night after capturing several villages on the road linking the town of about 60,000 people to the provincial capital, Goma.

In an earlier statement, M23′s spokesman, Lawrence Kanyuka, has accused government troops of attacking civilians in Kitchanga and elsewhere, and said the rebel group was “obliged to intervene and stop another genocide”.

While condemning the recent development, the UN peacekeeping mission (MONUSCO), said more than 500 people, including women and children, are seeking refuge at its base in the town of Kitshanga.

MONUSCO spokesperson, Ndeye Khady Lo, said civilians fleeing from Kitchanga have been given tents, food, water and first aid.

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Metro

237 African migrants rescued off Libyan coast

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Not less than 237 African migrants were on Friday, rescued after their makeshift boat capsized off the Libyan coast while navigating the dangerous Mediterranean Sea, on their way to Europe.

French medical charity, Doctors Without Borders (MSF), which carried out the rescue mission, said the migrants were rescued by its chartered rescue vessel, Geo Barents, which was sailing in the Mediterranean Sea, north of the country’s capital Tripoli, when it received a distress call.

“The Geo Barents ship encountered other overcrowded rubber dinghies with migrants attempting to reach Europe and took them on board,” the NGO said.

“Following instructions by the maritime rescue coordination centre, the ship then sailed towards the northern Italian port of La Spezia.l,” it added.

The MSF and other NGOs operating rescue vessels off Africa’s northern coast have accused the Italian government of deliberately assigning far away ports to discourage their operations, an accusation the Italian Interior Ministry had denied.

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