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Uganda’s speaker, army commander, ministers get US travel ban

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The US sanctioned five public officials in Uganda, including the Speaker of Parliament and the immediate past Deputy Chief of Defence Forces. This action increases pressure on Kampala to take action regarding the officers’ integrity and human rights record.

Only one month has passed since the UK imposed comparable sanctions on the head of the national assembly and two former ministers.

In a statement dated May 30, 2024, the US State Department declared that Speaker Anita Among was subject to sanctions because of her substantial involvement in corruption connected to her position as head of the Ugandan Parliament.

According to the statement, the Speaker is also fighting against sanctions against her for corruption that the UK imposed at the end of April. As a result, her financial holdings and real estate in London have been frozen.

The Speaker, Yoweri Museveni, has been tasked by President Yoweri Museveni to explain her purported property and financial holdings in the UK and whether or not Ms. Among declared them as required by the Leadership Code Act. The UK sanctions have sparked investigations.

The US also imposed sanctions on Amos Lugolobi, the Minister of State for Finance, Mary Goretti Kitutu, the former minister of Karamoja affairs, and her deputy, Agnes Nandutu, for their roles in serious corruption involving the misappropriation of public funds and the diversion of supplies from Uganda’s most impoverished communities.

“All four officials abused their public positions for their benefit at the expense of Ugandans,” says the statement issued by Matthew Miller, Department of State spokesperson.

However, Washington disregarded the UK and went after President Museveni’s most dependable state institution—the military—by penalizing Lt-Gen Peter Elwelu, the deputy CDF of the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) until two months ago. He faces consequences due to his involvement in egregious human rights breaches.

“Specifically, Peter Elwelu was involved, while commanding UPDF forces, in extrajudicial killings that members of the UPDF committed.  As a result of these actions, the designated Ugandan officials are generally ineligible for entry into the United States,” the statement reads.

In 2016, while he was Commander of UPDF’s Second Division, Elwelu led the attack on the palace of the Rwenzururu King Charles Wesley Mumbere, resulting in a massacre that left a chilling air all over the area’s main town Kasese, with over 100 people killed, including children and more than 180 others arrested and detained.

Despite wide condemnation of the raid on the palace by politicians, religious leaders, and local and international human rights groups, Elwelu, then a Brigadier-General, was not held accountable for the killings. Still, instead, he was promoted and appointed Chief of Land Forces. Currently, Elwelu is a Member of Parliament, representing the army in the national assembly.

Politics

Economic reform won’t stop despite hardship— Nigeria’s Bola Tinubu

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Despite mounting difficulties that have stoked popular unrest, Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu declared on Wednesday that economic reforms would go forward and pledged to quickly submit an executive bill to parliament establishing a new minimum wage.

After devaluing the currency and eliminating a long-standing gasoline subsidy, Tinubu, who took office a year ago, sent inflation skyrocketing to 33.69% in April—the highest level in over three decades—while also reducing earnings.

Tinubu acknowledged the difficulties brought about by the reforms—which also include higher lending rates and the partial elimination of electricity subsidies—during a televised broadcast on Democracy Day, but he insisted that these measures would strengthen the groundwork for future prosperity.

“Our economy has been in desperate need of reform for decades. It has been unbalanced because it was built on the flawed foundation of over-reliance on revenues from the exploitation of oil,” Tinubu said.

“As we continue to reform the economy, I shall always listen to the people and will never turn my back on you.”

Nigeria is experiencing its worst cost of living crisis in decades, and labour unions called off a walkout last week to put pressure on the government to set a new minimum wage of Naira a month.

In response to labour demands of 250,000 naira per month, the government has proposed to double the minimum salary to 62,000 nairas ($41.89) per month. Tinubu claimed his government had negotiated in good faith. In 2019, a new minimum wage was established.

“We shall soon send an executive bill to the National Assembly to enshrine what has been agreed upon as part of our law for the next five years or less,” Tinubu said.
He did not say whether the bill would contain the government minimum wage proposal or a new figure.

Before making any decisions, labour union officials have stated that they would like to hear back from Tinubu.

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Amnesty Int’l accuses Nigerian Army of unlawful detention of female terror escapees

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Rights organization, Amnesty International, has accused the Nigerian army of unlawfully holding young women and children who had escaped from Boko Haram’s captivity because the military thought they were affiliated with the Islamist militant group.

The human rights group claimed that the charges, which the military refuted in a statement, were based on 126 interviews conducted with female former hostages between 2019 and 2024.

According to research by Amnesty International, 31 people claimed that between 2015 and mid-2023, they were forcibly detained in military barracks for a few days to nearly four years, mostly due to their actual or suspected ties to Boko Haram.

The United Nations claims that Boko Haram’s armed insurgency in northeastern Nigeria has claimed the lives of over 35,000 people. The group has a nasty reputation and has been charged with rape, forced marriage, torture, and kidnapping. The most well-known incidence occurred in 2014 when 300 girls were abducted from Chibok.

More girls have been kidnapped since then, and many of them have lived with Boko Haram fighters for years. A few have managed to get away.

“The Nigerian government has failed to uphold their human rights obligations to protect and adequately support these girls and young women,” said Samira Daoud, Amnesty International’s regional director for West and Central Africa, in the report.

According to Major General Edward Buba, the defence spokesperson, the military adheres to humanitarian law and protects human rights. According to a statement from the spokesperson, Nigeria’s military “operates within the ambit of international law of armed conflict.”

The Nigerian military has counterattacked the Islamist organization, drawing condemnation for its harsh tactics. The military conducted a covert mass abortion program as part of its fight against Boko Haram, according to a Reuters report from the previous year.

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