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Explosion at illegal refineries kills scores in Rivers, Imo states Nigeria

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An overnight explosion at an illegal oil refining depot on the border of Nigeria’s Rivers and Imo states has killed more than 100 people.

The site was in the Ohaji-Egbema local government area of Imo state in the Abaezi forest that straddles the border of the two states.

The state commissioner for petroleum resources, Goodluck Opiah, said “The fire outbreak occurred at an illegal bunkering site and it affected over 100 people who were burnt beyond recognition.”

Former president of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (Mosop), Ledum Mitee while speaking on the accident said “the Rivers state governor has made a push recently to stamp out illegal refining in Rivers so it has to move to the fringes and neighboring states. In the last month or two, there were several raids, and some security agents involved were tackled.”

Operations of illegal refineries are common in the oil-rich Niger Delta region. In January, troops of Operation Delta Safe discovered and immobilized a total of 39 illegal refining sites and a total of 637,500 liters of illegally refined Automotive Gas Oil; and 950,000 liters of Stolen Crude oil were recovered in the course of the operations.

Although Nigeria is one of the largest oil producers in the world, the West African country does not refine crude oil locally. State-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has four refineries, two in Port Harcourt (PHRC), and one each in Kaduna (KRPC) and Warri (WRPC) but none has worked to capacity for years despite several investments to succinate the refineries.

Metro

Rwandan President, Kagame sacks over 200 military personnel in major shake-up

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Rwandan President, Paul Kagame has sacked over 200 soldiers including top military brass and commanders from the Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) in a massive shake-up.

The dismissed officers include the former Commander of the Reserve Forces, Maj. Gen. Aloys Muganga, and Brig. Gen. Francis Mutiganda, a former Head of External Security in the National Intelligence Services, as well as 14 senior officers.

The announcement of the sacking of the officers which was contained in a statement released by the RDF on Wednesday, did not give reason for the sackings, but the move come a day after the president reshuffled the top echelon of the country’s military, which saw the firing of the Defence Minister and an Army Chief.

The sacking of the soldiers has further heightened tension between Rwanda and neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo, with each side accusing the other of working with rebels to topple one another’s governments, according to reports in local media.

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UN war crimes court declares Rwandan genocide suspect, Felicien Kabuga unfit to stand trial

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An 88-year-old Rwandan genocide suspect, Felicien Kabuga has been declared unfit to stand trial by judges at a United Nations War Crimes Court in The Hague.

In a decision published by the court on Wednesday, the judges acknowledged that Kabuga was no longer able to actively participate in his trial, and rather proposed an alternative process that aims to resemble a trial but does not allow for a conviction instead of stopping the proceedings completely.

“The trial chamber finds Mr. Kabuga is no longer capable of meaningful participation in his trial,” the publication said.

“The International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, therefore, finds that Mr. Kabuga is not fit for trial and is very unlikely to regain fitness in the future.

“It is therefore agreed to adopt an alternative finding procedure that resembles a trial as closely as possible, but without the possibility of a conviction,” it added.

Kabuga who was arrested in Paris where he had been in hiding under a false identity for several years, was one of the most wanted suspects of the Rwandan genocide, and was charged at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda with genocide and crimes against humanity.

At his initial arraignment in September last year, the ICC heard that Kabuga was alleged to have been the main financier of the ethnic Hutu militias who slaughtered over 800,000 minority Tutsis as well as political opponents during the genocide in 1994.

According to the UN, Kabuga, a wealthy businessman from the Hutu ethnic group, had established and financed an infamous media outfit, Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM), which was notorious for inciting violence and promoting the targeting and elimination of individuals from the Tutsi ethnic group who were referred to as “Cockroaches”.

Kabuga was arrested in Paris in 2020 after decades on the run and sent for trial in The Hague where he pleaded not guilty to charges of sponsoring the infamous Hutu radical radio station urging people to kill Tutsi “cockroaches”.

He also denied supplying machetes and supporting the murderous Interahamwe Hutu militia.

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