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UN experts accuse South Sudan officials of overseeing gang rapes, beheadings of victims

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A panel of United Nations rights experts on Tuesday, accused South Sudan officials of overseeing systematic gang rapes and beheading of victims, some as young as nine.

The panel also called for a thorough investigation of government officials to ascertain the level of involvement of the officials.

The UN investigators say sexual abuse has been used as a “weapon by all sides in the country’s civil conflict which erupted in 2013 and triggered Africa’s biggest refugee crisis since the 1994 Rwandan genocide.:

The Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan also said in a statement it had reasonable grounds to believe a county commissioner in the northern State of Unity had orchestrated gang rapes at a military camp.

“The documented abuses also involved beheadings, with rape victims being forced to carry the severed heads, victims being burnt alive, and days of brutal sexual assaults,” the UN experts said in the statement.

Conflict-related rape and sexual violence in Unity State has become so systematic and is a direct result of impunity,” a member of the commission, Barney Afako, told journalists at the presentation of the report.

However, South Sudan’s Information Minister and government spokesman, Michael Makuei, has dismissed the commission’s statement as mere fabrication.

“They come and sit in hotels here in Juba and fabricate these false reports on South Sudan to make a living. I am saying these are false reports fabricated against the government,” Makuei told reporters at a press conference on Wednesday.

Military spokesperson for Vice President Riek Machar’s Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army in Opposition (SPLM/A-IO), Lam Paul Gabriel, also debunked the report, saying the movement had had no hand in the reported crimes.

“This report is misplaced because they do not know who is fighting who in those areas where these accusations are made,” Lam said.

Metro

Zambian opposition party LM demands sack of Agric Minister

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One of Zambia’s opposition parties, Leadership Movement (LM), has called for the immediate dismissal of the country’s Minister of Agriculture, Mtolo Phiri, over alleged incompetence and for misleading President Hakainde Hichilema.

LM Secretary-General, Jairos Ngoma, who addressed a press conference in Lusaka,
said Phiri had been lying to Hichilema over the status of the agriculture sector in the face of climate change.

Ngoma alleged that the minister lied to the president, claiming that farming inputs had been distributed on time countrywide when no such items had been distributed.

Ngoma stated that farmers had been sharing fertilizer distributed to them in various parts of the country and that the commodity was not distributed on time as promised.

“Mr. President, you are a farmer and people in Eastern Province who have been sharing fertilizer voted for you in numbers knowing that you understand them as you a farmer yourself,” Ngoma stated.

He went on to accuse the United Capital Fertiliser claiming that the company was exporting the commodity to Botswana instead of distributing it to farmers in line with an agreement it had with government.

He said as a result, farmers have resorted to sharing the fertilizer in “medas” across the country because what was meant for them was being sold.

“This company is a subsidiary of China; it’s taking fertiliser to Botswana, 15,000 metric tonnes and later it is taking it to Dar es Salaam,” he alleged.

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Metro

Fuel subsidy removal, a blessing to Nigeria, govt insists

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Despite the excruciating hardship and hunger resulting from the unplanned removal of fuel subsidy by President Bola Tinubu as well as other policies, the Nigerian government says the decision is a blessing to the country as it has started yielding dividends.

Government mouthpiece, the Minister of information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, who made the assertion while interacting with journalists in Lagos, said that fuel subsidy removal had started delivering dividends as over $30 billion Foreign Direct Investments (FDI), had been attracted into the country so far.

Idris says though the people are feeling the pangs, the ultimate goal is that the country is reaping the benefits of the “bold reforms” carried out by President Tinubu.

“Because of subsidy removal, Nigeria has attracted over $30billion foreign direct investment in various sectors especially in manufacturing, telecommunications, healthcare, oil and gas among others,” the Minister said.

“These investments are already being realized. From the data provided by the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, the Nigerian economy had grown by 3.46 per cent in the third quarter of 2023 against 2.4 in the preceding quarter. It was a better performance that was actually anticipated.

“There is something happening in the economy, it is gradual and it takes time before tangible results are seen by all.

“Only those who know how the financial system works will be able to see some of these things already happening. In January this year, the Nigeria stock exchange all share index recorded 100.000 point mark,” he said.

The Minister however, berated the Nigerian media over what he calls unbalanced reports, and challenging journalists to always balance their reportage with the positive things that the government had done in order not to scare potential investors, noting the various interventions by the federal government to cushion the effects of subsidy removal.

“To begin with, the monies that were given to the sub-nationals increased significantly. Governors that were earning less, finding it difficult to pay salaries now have more money at their disposal as a result of fuel subsidy removal.

“We are aware of the N35,000 that Labour has been clamouring for, the emphasis would be that by October 1, the President said he is going to give N25,000 wage award to every worker pending the new wage being negotiated with labour,” he added.

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