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Somali court acquits journalist charged with circulating false news

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A Somali court has discharged and acquitted a freelance journalist who had been detained in Somalia for 56 days for allegedly “circulating false” news that exposed corruption among government officials.

The journalist, Mohamed Bulbul was also cleared of all charges by the Banadir Regional Court on Friday after it found him not guilty of all charges against him.

According to the Somali Journalists Syndicate where Bulbul also works as information and human rights secretary, the court said Bulbul’s detention was unlawful.

His arrest and detention had caused public outrage, with Amnesty International saying he was accused of “bringing the State into contempt” and for “circulating false and tendentious news.”

Bulbul was first arrested on August 17 following an investigative report he wrote alleging corruption by Somali police in a training programme funded by the European Union.

The Secretary General of the Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS), Abdalle Mumin, who commended the court for releasing the journalist, said his arrest and detention were illegal in the first place.

Mumin said Bubul was arrested illegally with no warrant, then tortured and held without communication for 56 days because he exposed corruption by police officials who had participated in the training funded by the EU which provides training to the Somali Police Force and the Somali National Army under the auspices of the European Union Capacity Building Mission in Somalia (EUCAP Somalia).

According to SJS, Bulbul was not allowed access to family and counsel and was also physically abused. The group added that Bulbul had been taken to the hospital for the physical abuse he suffered in detention.

Bulbul, who spoke to his colleagues upon his release, said he was picked up by security officials following the release of a report that alleged police corruption in an EU-funded training programme.

He said his report revealed that funds intended for the police were misappropriated by senior police officers undergoing training in Mogadishu.

Metro

Zambia signs creditor agreement deal with China, India to resolve debt crisis

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President Hakainde Hichilema of Zambia has announced the signing of an official creditor agreement with China and India that will help resolve the country’s debt crisis.

Hichilema, who made the announcement on Saturday, said the agreement would also help pave the way for the country to negotiate with private creditors.

Before signing the agreement, Zambia had struggled to revive its debt restructuring process after a deal to rework $3 billion Eurobonds was rejected by its official creditors, with international media reporting that China and other creditors did not believe that it offered comparable debt relief to that of bondholders.

Earlier on Friday, Minister of Finance, Situmbeko Musokotwane, had assured that the government was trying to clarify the meaning of a “comparable treatment” with bondholders.

However, while addressing a gathering during the Nc’wala ceremony of the Ngoni speaking people of Eastern Province, President Hichilema confirmed the signing of the agreement with the two Asian nations.

“On the official creditors’ side, the last two countries that had not signed, China and India, have now signed,” Hichilema said.

The President added that Zambia was now turning to the private creditors in a bid to address the debt issue because the had defaulted on its foreign debts in November 2020 and that its restructuring had been beset by delays.

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Metro

Four of 10 Nigerians indebted to loan sharks— Report

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A report from a research carried out by Nigerian fintech platform, Piggy Vest, has revealed that four out of 10 Nigerians are indebted to online loan sharks and are finding it difficult to come out of such debts.

The report noted that 26 per cent of average Nigerians were indebted to different loan apps spread across the country which is as a result of the harsh economic challenges brought about by different unfavourable government policies.

The report which was discussed at a Finance Roundtable in Lagos on Saturday by co-founder and COO of PiggyVest, Odun Eweniyi, lamented the widening wealth divide among Nigerians, saying it was inimical to economic growth as a vast majority of Nigerians live below the poverty line.

According to Eweniyi, the report ‘captures the attitude of different demographics in the country viz- a-viz their savings and spending habits, debt management, and future financial plans.’

As a panacea to solving the problems of indebtedness, Eweniyi advocated ‘savings before spending in order to avoid running into debt,’ adding that the option of savings was still elusive to Nigerians who live below the poverty line of $2 per day dollars per day.

“We must also know that while innovation is key, it cannot go far without social interventions for the people.”

She urged the government to focus on Nigerians at the bottom of the pyramid in its conversation as well as simplify access to public credit facilities to improve income status of average Nigerians.

“This is why government must as much as possible explore collaboration with private sector to improve the living conditions of Nigerians and also drive financial literacy and inclusion,” Eweniyi emphasized.

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