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Gambia lawmakers back recommendations to outlaw FGM

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In anticipation of a vote later this month on whether to decriminalise the practice, the Gambian parliament endorsed recommendations on Monday to keep the country’s ban on female genital mutilation in place.

Although female genital mutilation (FGM) is illegal in the Gambia as of 2015, the deeply ingrained cultural practice is nonetheless common there, and the first convictions of FGM last year stoked opposition to the legislation.

The joint health and gender committee’s report’s recommendations were approved by the entire house on Monday following a contentious debate. Thirty-five MPs voted in favour of the report’s adoption, seventeen opposed, and two abstained.

The bill’s final vote on decriminalizing FGM is scheduled for July 24. The Gambia will be the first nation to lift its ban on female genital mutilation if the parliament allows it. Just five of the 53 legislators who were in favour of it voted against it, and one abstained, as it passed its second reading in March.

Following the second reading, the joint committee conducted a nationwide public consultation that included, among other people, victims, doctors, religious and traditional leaders, civil society organizations, and circumcisers. All kinds of FGM were referred to be a “traumatic form of torture” and “discrimination against women” in the report’s conclusions, which were released on Monday.

“Repealing the law would be a significant setback for the Gambia,” said Amadou Camara, the lawmaker who read out the report.

Outrage erupted after the first FGM conviction in August of last year when three mothers were convicted guilty of cutting eight baby girls. This led independent lawmaker Almaneh Gibba to introduce the repeal measure in March.

The right of residents to practice their culture and religion in the nation with a majority of Muslims is allegedly violated by the prohibition, according to Gibba and his supporters, which include powerful religious figures. Several Islamic academics contest this claim.

According to the World Health Organization, female genital mutilation has no health benefits and can result in severe bleeding, shock, mental health issues, and even death.

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Metro

Statistics reveal over 600k Nigerians sought asylum abroad under ex-President Buhari

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A new report released by Statisense, a data collection organisation, has revealed that well over 600,000 Nigerians filed for asylum in other countries between 2016 and 2023, during the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari.

According to the report released on Wednesday, a total of 664,384 Nigerians sought asylum in eight years, with 355,792 persons applying for asylum in foreign countries between 2016 and 2019, while 308,592 sought asylum between 2020 and 2023.

“On a year-by-year basis, 66,862 sought asylum in 2016, 91,924 in 2017, 84,624 (2018), 112,382 (2019), 73,233 (2020), 83,105 (2021), 83,402 (2022), and 68,852 in 2023,” the report said.

“The figures indicate a surge from the past years, as Statisense noted that within 12 years – 2004 to 2015 – only 204,791 Nigerians filed for asylum in other countries.

“In total, 869,175 Nigerians filed for asylum in the last 20 years, notably from 2004 to 2023,” the report stated, citing the United Nations Refugee Agency.

“The organisation also stated that the Republic of Niger topped countries with the most Nigerian refugees in 2023 with about 200,497 Nigerians and a total of 1,268,464 Nigerian refugees between 2015 and 2023.

“Niger, a border country, shares proximity with Nigeria’s north, where residents battle a spate of insecurity in the region ranging from banditry, terrorism and herdsmen-farmers crisis,” it said.

“Nigerians topped the list of African countries who sought asylum in Canada in 2023 with about 10,111 asylum seekers followed by Kenya with 1,345.

“1,345 Nigerians however sought asylum in the United Kingdom and 5,136 in the United States of America,” the report added.

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Zambia’s Anti-Corruption Commission DG resigns amid public outcry over corrupt practices

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The Director-General of the Zambian Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), Thom Shamakamba, has resigned from his position following public outcry over the state of corruption and corrupt officials in the country.

Chief Communications Specialist at the State House,
Clayson Hamasaka, who confirmed Shamakamba’s resignation in a statement issued in Lusaka on Tuesday, said President Hakainde Hichilema has accepted the resignation of the former D-G while wishing him well in his future endeavours.

“President Hakainde Hichilema has accepted the resignation of Mr. Thom Trevor Shamakamba from his office as Director-General of the Anti-Corruption Commission,” Hamasaka said.

“The President thanked Shamakamba for his service to the government and wished him well in his future endeavors,” he added.

Local media reports that an ACC Board Member and a lecturer at the University of Zambia (UNZA), Dr. Obrien Kaaba, had exposed deep-seated looting of the National Treasury involving State Chambers and allegedly facilitated by the ACC.

“State Chambers are at the forefront of looting the Treasury and are strong allies of corruption,” Dr. Kaaba had stated in a petition.

The lecturer also claimed that the ACC had been captured and unable to fight corruption in its current state.

“Judges are identified outside Lusaka to sign off corrupt settlements. The ACC DG threatened to sort me out and finish me for exposing corruption,” Kaaba alleged.

He noted that the strong anti-corruption fight Hichilema launched when he ascended to office had ebbed off and lost traction while “institutions charged with fighting corruption were merely massaging, bandaging and covering up corruption.”

The Executive Director of an advocacy group, Alliance for Community Action (ACA), Laura Miti, had also supported Dr. Kaaba’s observations and called for the sanitization of the ACC.

Miti urged the President to act on reports of Treasury looting involving state chambers with the support of the ACC.

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