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Cameroonian traditional ruler released by Ambazonia separatists after 18 months

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A prominent Cameroonian traditional ruler who was kidnapped by Amazonian separatists in the country’s restive Northwest region has been released after spending 18 months in captivity, government officials said in a statement on Saturday.

The statement said the traditional ruler, Fon Kevin Shumitang, who is also the president of the Northwest region’s House of Chiefs and vice President of the Northwest Regional Assembly, was reportedly rescued by the military during a clash with the rebels during the week.

The statement stated that the military freed Shumitang from a separatist camp in Bui, in the Northwest region on Thursday morning while several fighters were killed in the encounter.

The Governor of the region, Deben Tchoffo, who confirmed the rescue of Shumitang in a statement on Saturday, said the traditional leader’s release showed that authorities were gradually restoring order after years of separatist unrest.

“I would like to congratulate military men that carried out the operation,” said Tchoffo.

“They have been able to take back the Fon of Bambalang. Indeed, it is coming to confirm that things are coming back bit by bit normally in almost all the major parts on the Northwest region,” he added.

According to Tchoffo, the traditional ruler was abducted from his palace in the town of Bambalang by the Amazonian fighters led by one of its commanders, General No Pity, on December 7, 2021.

However, one of the leaders of the Ambazonia Peoples Rights Advocacy Platform, Capo Daniel, in a separate statement, said Shumitang was not rescued by the military but was released by the group after months of negotiations.

“The Cameroon government arrested 15 family members of No Pity and transferred them to Yaounde,” Capo Daniel said.

“Both of them were used to pressurize No Pity to come to a compromise to release the Fon of Bambalang.

“That is exactly what happened. There was no military operation. The Fon was released and then handed over to the Cameroon authorities. We expect officials to release No Pity’s family members in the days ahead as agreed during negotiations.”

Metro

Zambian Police bar political party leaders from attending church services

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The political crisis in Zambia took a new disturbing dimension on Sunday when heavily armed Police Officers stopped Presidents of political parties under the United Kwacha Alliance (UKA) coalition from attending various church services in the Copperbelt region.

Those affected, according to Zambian Monitor, include ex-president, Edgar Lungu, and New Heritage Party (NHP) president, Chishala Kateka, who were blocked from attending a designated church service where they had been initially invited but later managed to sneak into a Catholic Church.

Others affected by the police action were Presidents of Christian Democratic Party, Dan Pule, and National Congress Party leader, Peter Chanda, who were scheduled to worship at Christ the King Church in Kitwe but were turned away by police officers who escorted them out of Kitwe.

However, the UKA Chairperson, Sakwiba Sikota, and Zambia Republican Party leader, Wright Musoma, managed to escape the police dragnet and worshiped at Disciples Fellowship Ministries International (DFMI) in Ndola.

Citizens First President, Harry Kalaba, was in Chingola at St Peters and Paul’s Parish when alleged armed UPND cadres surrounded the parish.

Kalaba was later seen in a social media video being whisked away through the backdoor of the church, leaving behind his vehicles, and went to BIGOCA in Lulamba where the UPND cadres followed him again.

Speaking on the situation, Kalaba told journalists:

“In President Hakainde Hichilema’s regime, the Police have been summoning and arresting clergy critical of his government including disrupting meetings between priests and opposition political figures.”

UKA Chairperson for Communications, Jackson Silavwe, said it was worth noting that President Hichilema had never attended and officiated at the National Day of Prayer and Fasting with his UPND senior officials and members calling it a “useless” day when in the opposition.

“It is therefore, not surprising that the Zambia Police under President Hichilema’s government are showing the same gross contempt towards the clergy and churches who associate with critical voices,” he said.

Silavwe alleged that the heavy handedness by the Zambia Police of this magnitude towards clergy and the church had never been seen before in the history of Zambia, claiming Hichilema had once again scored another ‘first’ under his administration.

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Metro

Nigerian govt insists on N62,000 minimum wage despite Labour’s stance

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The lingering feud between the Nigerian government and organized labour on the minimum wage saga may not have an end soon as the government has insisted that it will not pay a dime above the N62,000 it had proposed despite labour pegging its demand at N250,000.

A statement from the Presidency on Sunday stated in clear terms that the N250,000 minimum wage clamour by Organised Labour was unsustainable, warning that the Federal Government could not channel all its resources to meet such a demand.

The position of the Nigerian government is coming after the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) also raised concerns over the amount being proposed by the FG in the face of escalating inflation and high cost of living.

ALGON, had, in a statement, said if approved, the wage may put a strain on the councils’ financial burden.

Several rounds of talks between government and labour leaders have stalled as the Tripartite Committee set up to negotiate on behalf of government has failed to reach a compromise with labour.

The labour unions have described the proposal as an insult to the intelligence of the average Nigerian worker, whom they say deserve far better than what the government offered.

Special Adviser to President Bola Tinubu on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga, in an interview, disclosed that unless the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress were selfish, they should consider that the resources meant for the entire Nigerians could not be channeled to only the benefit of their members who are not more than 10 per cent of the entire population.

“That is why we keep telling labour to be realistic because the government cannot use all its resources to pay workers. They have other things to do. The workers we are even talking about are not up to 10 per cent of the population.

“Many people are self-employed or engaged in the private sector, who are not members of Labour, and are not affected by this demand.

“This is even more reason why labour has to reconsider their decision critically instead of always striving to shut down the system. What the FG did was in consultation with the private sector and others.

“Only Labour, which appears to be in the minority, kept saying they won’t accept N62,000. They are not even employers but employees.

“Let us wait and hear what they are going to say after their return from the ILO conference. But they have to be realistic,” Onanuga reiterated.

Onanuga added that the Federal Government might not meet the Labour leaders again unless something cogent turned up.

“I am not sure whether the FG is meeting with them or whether its position on the minimum wage has changed. Don’t forget the current amount on the table was arrived at by the committee that also has the private sector where the NECA and NACIMMA were also represented.

“That was the figure the FG delegation, sub-nationals, employers, NECA and other sectors agreed on. So, the FG cannot just decide on any other amount of money on its own without carrying these people along.

“And the government cannot just decide anything without ensuring that the state and local governments are able to pay,” he said.

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