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Pope Opens Critical Week for Reform, Family Issues.

Image: Pope Opens Critical Week for Reform, Family IssuesPope Francis celebrates a mass during his visit to the San Tommaso Apostolo parish church on the outskirts of Rome on Feb. 16.

Pope Francis is opening the most critical week of his year-old papacy: Two commissions of inquiry on Vatican finance will report their recommendations for reform and preparations get under way for a summit on family issues that will deal with the widespread rejection by Catholics of church teaching on contraception, divorce and gay unions.

In between, Francis will preside over his first ceremony to formally welcome 19 new cardinals into the elite club of churchmen who will eventually elect his successor. In typical Francis style, the new cardinals hail from some of the poorest places on earth, including Haiti, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast.

The first half of Francis’ busy week will be devoted to the third meeting of his “Group of Eight” advisers, the senior cardinals representing every continent who Francis appointed to help him govern the church and overhaul the antiquated and inefficient Vatican bureaucracy. They are due to hear recommendations from two panels of experts on reforming the troubled Vatican bank and rationalizing the Holy See’s overall financial and administrative structures.

Francis was elected with a mandate to reform the Roman Curia, as the Holy See administration is known, to make it more responsive to the needs of the 21st century Catholic Church. He wants to make the curia more of a support to bishops trying to spread the faith rather than an obstacle. He has made bureaucratic reform his first-year priority, paying special attention to the scandal-marred Vatican bank, long accused by Italian authorities as being an off-shore tax haven for well-connected Italians and, more recently, a place where money could be laundered.

On the eve of the G8 meeting, the head of the Vatican bank pleaded his case to Francis’ hometown newspaper, telling Argentina’s La Nacion daily that his process of reform hadn’t yielded any “systematic violations” of the Vatican’s anti-money laundering laws but just some “black sheep.”

One of those black sheep is Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, an accountant in the Vatican’s finance ministry who is currently on trial for allegedly trying to smuggle 20,000 euro ($26,000) from Switzerland to Italy, and is also accused in another case of using his Vatican bank accounts to launder money. The bank’s top two managers resigned in July after Scarano was arrested.

“We’re in a crucial moment,” the bank president, Ernst Von Freyberg, told La Nacion. “The (bank) commission will hand in its report in the coming days, as will the commission on the economic affairs, and then the Holy Father will decide what to do.”

While Von Freyberg said he didn’t know if outright closure was an option, doing so would certainly deprive Francis of the 50 million euros a year the bank gives the pope for his works of charity.

Von Freyberg, Benedict XVI’s last major appointment before resigning, outsourced his reform to the U.S. consulting firm Promontory Group. The other commission of inquiry, tasked with advising the Holy See on more structural reforms in its overall financial and administrative sphere, also brought in outside experts, tapping McKinsey & Co. to help modernize its communications operations and KPMG to bring its accounting up to international standards.

One of Francis’ top advisers and a member of the G8, Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, cautioned against any quick decisions being made by the pope after the commissions present their recommendations.

“Things of the Lord take time,” Maradiaga told private TGCom24.

On a slightly more accelerated timetable are plans for the October meeting of bishops at the Vatican on family issues. A broader group of cardinals are expected to discuss the summit, or synod, in the second half of the week and then the main planning group gets down to work early next week.

Francis called the synod late last year and took the unusual step of commissioning surveys from ordinary Catholics about how they understand and practice church teaching relating to marriage, sex and other issues related to the family.

The results, at least those reported by bishops in Europe and the United States, have been an eye-opener: The church’s core teachings on sexual morals, birth control, homosexuality, marriage and divorce were rejected as unrealistic and outdated by the vast majority of Catholics, who nevertheless said they were active in parish life and considered their faith vitally important.

Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg, Florida recently summarized the results of his survey, to which some 6,800 people responded. Most were older, married Catholics and regular churchgoers. But even they found church teaching out of synch with today’s world.

“On the matter of artificial contraception the responses might be characterized by the saying, ‘that train left the station long ago,'” he recently wrote. “Catholics have made up their minds and the sensus fidelium (sense of the faithful) suggests the rejection of church teaching on this subject.”
© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

We Will Even Use Spiritual Means To Prevent GMOs Coming To Ghana- Blakk Rasta.

Maverick Ghanaian radio personality and activist Blakk Rasta says Ghanaians will use every trick in the book to prevent genetically modified (GM) foods being introduced into the country’s agricultural system. He says if everything else fails, they will seek spiritual closure to the matter. “We will make a lot of noise; they can’t sleep…if this one fails which I wonder, we will chant them down spiritually. When they start getting cancer, they will think twice”, he said.

The outspoken activist who also doubles as a hit-making reggae artist appeared on Sahara TV’s weekly broadcast with Duke Tagoe, Deputy Director of of the Non-Governmental Organization, Food Sovereignty Ghana where he made these comments.

A couple of weeks ago, 40 journalists who were invited to a seminar to acquaint themselves with knowledge of GMOs to enable them do informed write- ups on the topic sent a petition to parliament asking them to freeze legislation until Ghanaians are well educated and their input sought on the subject. The matter is currently before parliament couched in the Plant Breeders’ Bill and the Bio-Safety Act 2011.

The issue has seen some amount of debate with a few protests organized by Food Sovereignty Ghana to sensitize Ghanaians on the dangers of introducing GMOs to the country’s food chain without proper debate. Other bodies like the Catholic Bishops Conference, the Private University Students Association of Ghana (PUSAG) and the Ghana Export Promotions Council have also added their voice, asking Government to thread cautiously on the issue. Some notables like the Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Dr. Walter Yakubu Alhassan and Convention People’s Party flag-bearer Dr. Abu Sakara Foster – both acclaimed agriculturists – have however surfaced as serious advocates of GMOs.

Blakk Rasta decried the attitude of some Members of Parliament describing it as “unfortunate”. He said when the group forwarded the petition, one of them asked if they had the permission of Ghanaian farmers to speak on their behalf. “Should we have the permission of the Ghanaian farmer before we fight for what is right for them?” he quizzed.

Asked about the phenomenon of GM tomatoes and other food items flooding unchecked into the country from neighboring Burkina Faso, Blakk Rasta said the solution to that lies in Ghana banning all imports from that country.

On his part, Duke Tagoe outlined the horrors Ghana faces if GMOs are introduced into the country. He said GM giants Monsanto and other multi-national agricultural companies are conniving with some devious politicians to sneak GMOs into the country. He said he is however optimistic that Ghanaians are slowly but surely catching up to the scheme and will reject these moves. He threatened a lawsuit if parliament ignores their protests and passes the bill. He also said GM foods are already on the market and cautioned Ghanaians to look out for certain brands like Bokomo Corn Flakes.

He further stated that scientists at the Ghana Center for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) have already come up with high yielding, pest resistant varieties of several crops and wondered why the government would not concentrate on supporting the efforts of these scientists instead of turning to GM foods. “What is so unique about these varieties is that it was done in accordance with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of eliminating extreme hunger and poverty…why are we leaving these particular varieties and we are going to bring in GMO seeds from Monsanto that we don’t control?”, he bemoaned.

The two vowed to continue the fight against the introduction of GM foods into Ghana and to force the hand of government to do what is right by the people.


Nigeria’s Retrogressive Anti-Gay Law By Abiodun Ladepo.

By Abiodun Ladepo

This past Wednesday, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan elevated crassness and primitiveness to the highest level imaginable by signing into law a bill banning homosexuality in Nigeria.  I deliberately crafted the previous sentence so unambiguously.  He did not just ban homosexual marriage; he banned homosexuality as a whole!  Perhaps if the law had only stopped at “persons who enter into a same-sex marriage contract or civil union commit an offence and are each liable on conviction to a term of 14 years in prison,” one might not feel so much outrage.  But it went on to state that “any person who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organizations or directly or indirectly makes public show of same-sex amorous relationship in Nigeria commits an offence and shall each be liable on conviction to a term of 10 years in prison”!  In essence, only heterosexuals are allowed to hold hands in public, sit on each other’s lap, hump each other while dancing in clubs or kiss publicly.  What, in the name of God, just happened to Nigeria?

Let me state upfront that I am a Straight (heterosexual) guy who is happily married to a beautiful woman.  So, this write-up is not about me or my sexual preference.  It is about Nigeria’s lack of originality and lack of creative instincts.  We the people, along with our leaders, fail to do the deep thinking, the due diligence, in many respects that will take our country farther and more quickly than we have hitherto done.  Lethargy is irredeemably ingrained in our psyche.  Otherwise, how does being openly gay draw our country back?  We already have thousands of gay people in our midst!  How does their gayness prevent those of us who are not gay from going about our businesses?

This law assumes that the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community just arrived in Nigeria yesterday.  No, the LGBT has been with us since, at least, when I was a young boy over 50 years ago.  I recall growing up in (yes) Zaria, Kaduna State, of all places, and going to watch evening dances of members of the LGBT.  We used to call them “Dandaudu.”  We, the kids, used to marvel at their public display of amorous acts.  This was in the early 60s.  They were not hidden behind the walls of any clubs in the middle of the night; they danced in open spaces and in early evenings.  I have also personally witnessed “Dandaudus” doing their dances in Bukuru, Jos, Bauchi and Maiduguri in the 70s.  And if you lived in the hostel during your secondary school years, don’t tell me that you did not catch a few of your guy friends “doing it.”  I have heard from some of my secondary school female friends of the sexual trysts that went on in their hostel.  Let’s not even talk about what happens in the dorms of our universities.  So, why are we just now finding out that their presence in our midst is anathema and antithetical to our moral fiber?

Reuben Abati, that formerly celebrated anti-bad government champion, who is now a turncoat and who I now detest with so much passion, defended the law with the pedestrian argument that since 90 percent of Nigerians were opposed to same-sex marriage, “…the law is in line with our cultural and religious beliefs.”   Ninety percent?  First, how did we come up with that percentage?  When did we poll the country to ascertain that 90 percent of our people oppose same-sex marriage?  And even if they do, what right does the majority have to trample on the basic right of the minority – the fundamental human right to freedom of association?  What right does the majority have to deprive the minority of having sex with whomever it wants as long as it is consensual?  The worst that the Nigerian government should have been able to do should have been the denial of official recognition of such a union. But to criminalize it is akin to despotism, especially in a democratic dispensation.

And by the way, since when has this government or any past Nigerian government taken a decision in favor of an issue perceived to have received the support of the majority of Nigerians?  Don’t 90 percent of our people support the removal or Stella Oduah as Aviation minister, Diezani Madueke as Petroleum minister and Reuben Abati as adviser?  Don’t 90 percent of our people support the banning of government officials, especially the President, from seeking medical attention abroad until our medical facilities and personnel are of the same standard as those they use when they go abroad?  Don’t 90 percent of our people support the supply of 24/7 uninterrupted electricity to all corners of Nigeria?  Don’t 90 percent of our people support the revamping, rejuvenating and reinvigorating of the EFCC so it can better fight corruption?  Don’t 90 percent of our people support a massive overhaul of our educational infrastructures from elementary all the way to university systems?  Don’t 90 percent of our people oppose the blocking of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway by mega-churches and mega-mosques?  Have our lawmakers crafted any laws that criminalize the failure by government to do the things mentioned above?  No.  But these nosey people are eager to get into the bedrooms of Nigerians.

I find this homophobic inclination that is so rampant in our country as yet another example of religious zealotry and self-righteousness that have been the bane of our society.  Everybody is stampeding and trampling each other today in their quest to out-do one another as they condemn homosexuality.  But we will find out one day – tomorrow maybe –  just as we have found out in Europe and America that even family members of influential government officials can be (and are indeed) gay!  In fact, we will soon find out that membership in the LGBT community cuts across all spectra of our society – from the ranks of elected politicians, to traditional rulers, military officers, police officers, teachers, technocrats, pastors, imams, babalawos, traders and what not.  And what are we going to do when we find out that one of these influential people whom we had thought was heterosexual was indeed bisexual?  Would we throw OBJ or IBB or GEJ or Mama Iyabo or Dame Patience or any of their children into 14 years of prison terms if any of them turns out to be gay? What would we do when we discover that Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye or his wife, Folu do engage in homosexual acts (with other partners, of course)?  What about Sheik Muhammad Yahaya Sanni and his many wives?  Are we going to give them immunity against prosecution?

This is why I stated earlier that our leaders did not subject this law to a rigorous and intellectual discuss before allowing their emotion, religion and communal bandwagon mentality to overtake their sense of reason.  Before the bill was adopted by the Senate in 2011, a few Nigerian members of the LGBT community, supported by some civil rights activists, appeared before the Senate to argue against enacting such a law.  The lawmakers and religious zealots in the chambers of the Senate booed and heckled these gay folks till they cried and left in disgrace.  Among the booing and heckling crowd were men who maintain two, three, four or more wives – wives who are subjugated, mentally and are physically abused.  Among this crowd were women who cheat on their husbands with their pastors and imams to the extent of making babies out-of-wedlock while their husbands thought the babies were theirs.  These people, in my opinion, lack the moral right to tell a gay man or woman whom to love and whom to cavort with in public.

Believe me, gays are the least of Nigeria’s problems.  Graft in high places, greed in high places, hired assassination, kidnapping, murder, armed robbery, neglect of rural areas, neglect of urban areas, lack of functioning basic amenities like electricity, water, hospitals, education, transportation, youth unemployment – all take precedence over what my neighbor is doing in his/her bedroom.  I am ashamed that my leaders do not see this.

And I get it. I get the fact that Nigeria is a deeply religious country.  Even if I wonder how truly religious we are when we watch our religious leaders steal from the religious houses and sexually abuse the laity; even if I sometimes wonder why our religious leaders live in obscene opulence while they watch their followers wallow in abject poverty, I still get the fact that Nigeria is a deeply religious country.  It is the reason why an issue such as gay rights should have been thoroughly debated intellectually.  I hope the passing of this primitive and retrogressive law begins the rigorous discussion of how we allow members of the LGBT to bask in their rightful sense of belonging.  We should lead Namibia, Botswana, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia, Angola, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, South Sudan, Cameroon, Togo, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leon, Guinea, Senegal, Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia out of the comity of nations still wedded to the archaic tradition of segregating their own people on the basis of sexual preferences.

We should join South Africa, Zaire, Congo, Gabon, Central African Republic, Chad, Niger, Mali (yes, Chad, Niger and Mali), Burkina Faso, Benin Republic, Cote D’Ivoire and Guinea Bissau in the comity of nations that embrace the diversity of their people’s sexual preferences and have legislated to protect the rights of their LGBT people.

By Abiodun Ladepo

Los Angeles, California, USA


The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

Pope Names 19 New Cardinals, Focusing on the Poor.

Pope Francis on Sunday named his first batch of cardinals, choosing 19 men from Asia, Africa, and elsewhere, including Haiti and Burkino Faso, to reflect his attention to the poor.

Francis made the announcement as he spoke from his studio window to a crowd in St. Peter’s Square.

Sixteen of the appointees are younger than 80, meaning they are eligible to elect the next pope, which is a cardinal’s most important task. The ceremony to formally install them as cardinals will be held Feb. 22 at the Vatican.

Some appointments were expected, including that of his new secretary of state, the Italian archbishop Pietro Parolin, and the German head of the Vatican’s watchdog office for doctrinal orthodoxy, Gerhard Ludwig Mueller.

But some names were surprising.

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the pope’s selection of churchmen from Haiti and Burkino Faso, which are among the world’s poorest nations, reflects Francis’ attention to the destitute as a core part of the church’s mission.

Also chosen to become a “prince of the church,” as the cardinals are known, was Mario Aurelio Poli, the archbishop of Buenos Aires, a post Francis left when he was elected as the first Latin American pope in March.

His selections also came from Managua, Nicaragua; Santiago, Chile; and Rio de Janeiro. The appointees included churchmen from Seoul, South Korea, and the archbishop of Westminster, in Britain, Vincent Nichols.

In a sentimental touch, the three men too old to vote for the next pope include 98-year-old Monsignor Loris Francesco Capovilla, who had served as personal secretary to Pope John XXIII. The late pontiff will be made a saint along with John Paul II at the Vatican in April.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

EFCC Press Release: EFCC Arrests Satellite Broadcast Scammer In Kano.

By Wilson Uwujaren

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Friday August 23, 2013 arrested one Tope Ajayi over his alleged involvement in digital satellite broadcast scam. Ajayi was picked up by operatives of EFCC from his apartment located at 26 Link Bawo Road in Hausawa area of Kano following intelligence report.

Over 100 decoders and other computer gadgets were recovered from his server room by operatives of the Commission during a search on his apartment.
Ajayi who claimed to have worked with Skye Bank Plc is said to be a major digital satellite broadcast scammer. He is alleged to have a server that links up with a server in China and an unknown Internet Service Provider, ISP, somewhere in Europe or the United State of America.

The suspect is also alleged to be engaged in illegal importation, selling and distribution of pirate devices popularly known as Dungle which enables subscribers to have free access to Multichoice satellite signals across West and Central Africa.

According to Mr Frikkie Jonker, Senior Anti-Piracy Manager, Multichoice, Ajayi’s server is considered strong as it controls its counterpart server in China and distributes satellite signals to a host of West African and Central African countries including Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya Uganda and Benin Republic .

It was also revealed that the suspect had been extracting control words from multichoice cards in Nigeria and sending same to a server in China which is connected to an ISP server placed somewhere in Europe or America.

Jonker, who expressed his gratitude to the EFCC for the arrest, described the scam as one of the biggest in recent time.

Ajayi will be arraigned in court when investigation is concluded.

Wilson Uwujaren
Ag. Head, Media & Publicity
27th August, 2013


Re: Lagos Deportation And The Law By Olanrewaju Suraju.

Last week, Mr. Femi Falana SAN intervened in the controversial debate on deportations of beggars and destitute by the Lagos state government. Apart from arguing that internal deportations constitute an infringement of the fundamental rights of the affected citizens Mr Falana provided irrefutable evidence to prove that many other state governments are involved in the illegal practice. In exposing the hypocrisy of the Anambra state government over the matter Mr Falana pointed out that Governor Peter Obi actually deported 29 beggars to their home states of Ebonyi and Akwa Ibom states in December, 2011.

The civil rights lawyer therefore called on the federal and state governments to develop a rehabilitation and resettlement policy for beggars and destitute instead of deporting and dumping them in their states of origin. So far, none of the state governments indicted in the timely article has denied involvement in the illegal deportation of the poor in order to keep the state capitals clean. However, two lawyers attempted but failed woefully to controvert the views expressed by Mr Falana on the dangerous policy .

In his highly contentious article published in the Premium Times last week Mr. Jiti Ogunye challenged the “inappropriateness” of the word ‘deportation’ in describing the forceful removal and expulsion of poor people from Lagos and other urban centres in the country. According to the lawyer “Deportation in the context in which the word has been used is a malapropism … as the affected persons are not transported out of Lagos State and sent into exile by expulsion, as a Country would do to illegal aliens or foreigners.” Is Mr Ogunye really saying that a country can send aliens or foreigners into exile by transportation?

Another lawyer, Mr Idowu Ohiose wrote from Canada through Saharareporters. In reaction to Mr. Falana’s statement that King Jaja Opobo was deported by the British colonial regime in 1885 Mr. Ohiose claimed that “King Jaja was banished; not deported. In fact, he was ‘exiled’ but not ‘deported’. Simply speaking, ‘to banish’ (to exile) isn’t the same as ‘to deport’. While the former means the removal of a person to another part of a country by authoritative decree, the latter refers to lawful expulsion of an unwanted alien to another country. The colonialists banished (exiled) King Jaja to British West Indies on the reasoning that both Opobo and West Indies were part of British territories.”

Although Mr. Falana did not define deportation he referred to the notorious case of Alhaji Shugaba, a Nigerian citizen who was deported to Chad by the Shehu Shagari administration in the second republic. He also quoted various provisions of the relevant laws to argue against internal deportation by the federal and state governments. The definitions of ‘deportation’ provided by both Messers Ogunye and Ohiose was wrongly limited to the expulsion of an alien from a country. In the Collins English Dictionary, ‘deportation’ means the act of expelling an alien from a country or the act of transporting someone from his country; banishment.
Even the Chambers Dictionary referred to by Mr. Ogunye defined ‘deport’ to include ‘transport’ or ‘exile’. In other words, the transportation of a citizen from one part of a country to another or sending a citizen into exile from his country is also known as deportation. According to Wikipedia, “Deportation can also happen within a state, when (for example) an individual or a group of people is forcibly resettled to a different part of the country. If ethnic groups are affected by this, it may also be referred to as population transfer.”

Wikipedia recalled that ” Deportation is an ancient practice: Khosrau I, Sassanid King of Persia, deported 292,000 citizens, slaves, and conquered people to the new city of Ctesiphon in 542 C.E. Britain deported religious objectors and criminals to America in large numbers before 1776, and transported them to Australia between 1788 and 1868.”
With respect to the former Soviet Union it is said that over 6 million people were victims of “deportations of ‘anti-Soviet’ categories of population, often classified as ‘enemies of workers,’ deportations of entire nationalities, labor force transfer, and organized migrations in opposite directions to fill the ethnically cleansed territories.”

One of the several deportations of citizens which took place in the United States which is relevant to our discourse was the Bisbee deportation of about 1,300 striking mine workers, their supporters, and citizen bystanders by 2,000 vigilantes on July 12, 1917. Wikipedia reported it thus, “The workers and others were kidnapped in the U.S. town of Bisbee, Arizona and held at a local baseball park. They were then loaded onto cattle cars and transported 200 miles (320 km) for 16 hours through the desert without food or water. The deportees were unloaded at Hermanas, New Mexico, without money or transportation, and warned not to return to Bisbee.”

No doubt, foreigners and not citizens are now subjected to deportation in civilized nations. Even before aliens are deported their fundamental right to fair hearing is respected. Hence extradition proceedings are conducted before deportation. Today, the Canadian Government cannot legally deport Mr Idowu Ohiose to Nigeria without observing his rights to liberty and fair hearing. But in Nigeria, some citizens who are wanted on suspicion that they have committed criminal offences in the United States are crudely grabbed on the streets or in their homes in any part of the country by our immigration officials and expelled from the country without going through extradition proceedings locally as required by the Extadition Act.

A few years ago, President Kenneth Kaunda was almost deported from Zambia after ruling the country for 27 years when President Frederick Chiluba claimed that the old man’s parents hailed from Malawi and not zambia. If Alassen Quattara (now President of Cote d’Ivoire) had not fled to France he would have been deported to Burkina Faso in 1995 when a court ruled that his mother was a Burkinabe. Before then Nigeria had deported Alhaji Darman Shugaba to Chad on the ground that his parents did not come from any ethnic group indigenous to Nigeria. It is not uncommon these days for poor people to be subjected to mass arrest, detention, deportation and dumping by many state governments due to economic or political reasons. In the process all their fundamental rights are recklessly abused.

Therefore, it is totally misleading on the part of any lawyer to say that it is “inapproprate” to describe the illegal expulsion of beggars and destitute from Lagos to their states of origin as deportation. I will advise both Mr. Ohiose familiarise himself history of deportations around the world for his intervention to add value to the debate. However, let me join Mr. Falana in asking the relevant authorities in Nigeria to develop urban renewal programmes that will rehabilitate and resettle all beggars. If the very poor state of osun can employ 20,000 youths and pay monthly stipends to the elderly on a monthly basis and resettle beggars and the destitute without deporting them to their states of origin other states in Nigeria should reorder their priorities to make provisions for all poor people.

Olanrewaju Suraju


Cyber-Crime In Ghana By Kwesi Atta Sakyi.

By Kwesi Atta Sakyi

It is said that an idle hand will find something to do, good or evil.  Cyber-crime is the crime committed on the internet, whereby people create a spam or fake message and send unsolicited messages to as many email addresses as possible, by scouring and searching through the internet.


These internet criminals or hoodlums engage in identity theft, whereby they send you a message that you have won a huge sum of money through online lottery, or they work in a bank in Benin or Burkina Faso, and they are aware of a dormant huge deposit of money, whose owner was involved in a plane accident many years ago, or that they are the son or daughter of late Colonel Gaddafi, or some eminent personage who left some endowment to be bestowed on you, a named beneficiary. Meanwhile, you, a black person, have no blood familial connections to the said demised white personage.

They ask you for your personal details so that they can send the money direct to your bank account. Others send you messages that will ask you to submit an application so that if you pay them a certain sum of money through your Visacard or Paypal, they will send you an online application or software which you can use to direct a lot of traffic to your online website, or software which you can use to direct a lot of traffic to your online account, and make a lot of money.  

These scammers are young men who are computer savvy and nerds.  They are called Sakawa in Ghana.  Recently, I read online that Ghana is number one in Africa for cyber-crime, and number seven in the world.  If you visit internet cafes in Accra, Winneba, and other places in Ghana, you will find young adults who spend days on end surfing and browsing, doing what they know best.  Some of them even pretend they are ladies who seek friendship with men abroad. Some undiscerning guys abroad bite their carefully-couched words.  Through deceit, these unemployed young men make a living.

It has surfaced that some of these criminals are Nigerian 419s who have relocated to Ghana. It will be better that our forensic department in the police service in Ghana mount a 24- hour surveillance of these criminals, who commit their crimes in cyber space. Perhaps, there is need to deploy some of these young men and train them in some online outsourced work, just as in India, many companies in the West outsource and offshore their customer calls to Indian Companies.
We have a lot of IT talent in Ghana but then these young guys have nothing productive to do other than resorting to cyber-crime. Some of them engage in pornography, while others engage in crimes such as hacking, paedophilia, among others. Now that Ghana has one of the fastest internet connectivity setups in Africa, and internet access is relatively cheaper, there is need to properly equip our internet police surveillance unit in Ghana.

There are now many gadgets which can access the internet via cell phones, i-pads, tablets, among others.  We should check our internet cafes and ensure that they post signs around the cafés, asking users to be ethical in their access of the internet.  There are many other ways we can transform the negative use of the internet into positive advantages in the fields of e-health, e-learning, e-tourism, e-transport, home-working or telecommuting, e-governance, e-tailing, e-marketing, e-agriculture, and for driving SMEs.

Last year June, when I was in Accra, I was very much encouraged when I saw a posse of young school girls who came into the cyber café I was in, around the Main Post Office area in Accra, ostensibly, they had come there to do research or access their emails.

We need to empower our school kids with IT knowledge and e-books. I can bet that there are many people in Ghana out there, who know little about how to use the computer, or who do not have access to a computer. We should encourage our school kids to have e-books, e-libraries and state-of-the-art IT laboratories, because if they do not get up to speed with global trends, they will be left behind by the rest of the world in the global village, with its gulf of global divide.

I remember in the 60s, I used to visit the library at Sufflet House in Winneba to borrow books to read. Now we have e-libraries online, which have e-books, some of which are free. Children can access them anytime anywhere, wherever there is electricity. This is where we need to increase our sources of power, by resorting to the use of alternate sources, such as solar, wind, tidal, biomass, biofuel, gas, geothermal and thermal energy sources.

In conclusion, the law on cyber-crime should be beefed up to avoid having cyber criminals who tarnish our image at home and abroad. Besides, we should equip our forensic department in the police to intensify surveillance of online activities, under the ambit of the Freedom of Information Law. This should not be misconstrued as intrusion and invasion into our privacy.

However, this is a dilemma facing governments the world over, whereby there is need on the one hand, to preserve and balance confidentiality and privacy of an individual’s communication, and on the other hand, secure the safety and well-being of the state against terrorists, saboteurs and criminals.

The author is a Senior Lecturer at ZCAS, Lusaka, Zambia


The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

Do Not Force-Feed Nigerians With GMOs By Nnimmo Bassey.


By Nnimmo Bassey

It is with shock and extreme disappointment that we note the position of two ministers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that the country should import and consume genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The reports quote the ministers of Agriculture , Dr Akinwumi Adesina, and that of Science and Technology, Professor Ita EWa as both happily endorsing the steps. We are disappointed because these ministries and the government of Nigeria ought to protect the interests of the citizens of Nigeria and not pander to the desires of the makers of genetically engineered products.

We are surprised that the government would take such a stand without a backing Biosafety Law in place in Nigeria and without consideration of the profound impact that such an open door to the products would have on the Nigerian agriculture, environment and the people.

The Nigerian government has of late treated the concerns of the people with palpable contempt. For instance, field trials of genetically engineered cassava has been carried out without public consultation and without public information as to whether that variety of cassava has been introduced into our farms and whether we are already consuming such. In fact some Nigerians think that the cassava bread the Minister of Agriculture advertises may actually be made of GMO varieties. Nigerians need to know.

As stated in The Daily Trust (26/06/2013) the Minister of Agriculture said at a media briefing “that Nigeria could not afford to be alone among African countries in accepting and consuming GM products. He noted that South Africa, Egypt, Burkina Faso and Sudan were already doing the same.” We should state here that Sudan was arm-twisted by donor nations to accept whole grain GMOs in food aid following the food crisis of 2004. The same tactics were applied on Angola. When it was earlier tried on Zambia in 2002 that country resisted the pressure, was denied food aid, and weathered the storm through self-reliance and protection of their agriculture and food systems. Zambia still refuses to accept today.

Contrary to the claims of the minister, Burkina Faso has not introduced GMOs into their food. That country planted genetically engineered cotton otherwise called Bt Cotton. The first harvest of that cotton last year was a big disappointment as the farmers got short fibre cotton rather than the long fibres they harvested from the conventional cotton they were used to planting.

South Africa is the most problematic on the continent when it comes to the regulation and introduction of GMOs. Public resistance have been strong, but the historical political context must also be considered in understanding the path the nation began to toe and the difficulties in ensuring a transition from certain routes. Studies by the African Centre for Biosafety has revealed that corn products supplied by Tiger Brand in South Africa to companies including to Dangote Foods, a Nigerian conglomerate, has high GMO corn contents. This revelation ought to drive the Nigerian government to order an investigation into the importation of unwholesome foods and food products into Nigeria rather than making announcement of backdoor moves to ambush Nigerians into eating GMOs without their consent.

We recall here that in 2006/7 when an unauthorised (Liberty Link Rice 601) GMO rice was known to have been introduced into the market, Friends of the Earth Africa in efforts coordinated by Nigeria’s Environmental Rights Action conducted tests on rice samples obtained from markets in Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. It was like searching for a pin a densely covered forest floor, but the illegal rice was found in food aid in Sierra Leone and in commercially imported varieties in Ghana and Nigeria. Following the issuance of the report the variety varnished from the Sierra Leonean markets but persisted in Ghana and Nigeria. Reports forwarded to Nigerian authorities and agencies including NAFDAC where neither acknowledged nor acted upon.

The propensity of Nigeria’s government officials to push the biotech industry advertisement spin with regard to GMOs is condemnable.

The trumpeted advantages of GMOs over natural varieties have been shown to be nothing other than industry-generated myths. The same can be said of the manipulative narratives of hunger and malnutrition on the African continent. Once it was said that Africans are starved, today we are told that perhaps we may not be starving, but that we are malnourished. While we do not deny that some persons go to bed hungry and that some are malnourished (this is true of any nation or continent) the politics of hunger has been so hyped and jaundiced that even the G8 has now formed an alliance on malnutrition in Africa. The Nigerian Minister of Agriculture was among the first to jump on the bandwagon of praise singers for the so-called initiative that is nothing but a foot in the door for the biotech industry that have fought with little success to open up Africa for their Frankenstein seeds and foods.

The myths of GMOs include that they are higher yielding, are more nutritious and require less herbicides and pesticides. Another myth that is often peddled is that they are climate-smart and can flourish in adverse weather conditions. Scientists independent from the biotech industry have shown through careful research that GMOs are not higher yielding than natural and conventional varieties. They are not more nutritious but may actually be injurious to human health. They do not reduce the use of chemicals in agriculture either. It has been seen that although the crops are often engineered to withstand herbicides produced by the same companies that produce the seeds, the weeds grow to resist the herbicides and farmers are forced to keep raising the concentration of the herbicides, thus compounding the resulting harm to biodiversity of the areas affected. The ones engineered to kill pests have ended up sometimes killing unintended organisms.

We should also mention here that GMOs work best with large-scale commercial agriculture. But the widespread dependence on chemical inputs have led to the death of pollinators like bees and saddled the world with silent farms and forests without insects and other beneficial species. Certainly Nigeria does not want to join the ranks of nations that hire or buy bees to pollinate their farms. We are not sure also that Nigerians want to toe a path that may lead to farmers pollinating their crops by hand.

Africa’s soil is acclaimed as among of the best for crop cultivation. This, coupled with the myopia of some of our leaders, have led to massive land grabs on the continent and the permission of unregulated farming practices in those colonial enclaves.

Finally, we call on the Nigerian government to consider the fact that the nation is yet to have a Biosafety Law with which the environment and our biodiversity can be protected and defended. The government should also consider the fact that Nigeria is a signatory to the Cartagena Protocol that has the cardinal Precautionary Principle. We cannot be force-fed by a savage biotech industry that seeks to colonise African seeds and food systems. The fact that GMOs will not feed the world is well studied and documented. See the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) report, for example.

GMOs will enslave the world through the intellectual property rights that allows the biotech industry to patent their seeds, debars farmers from sharing or saving seeds and forces them to buy seeds every planting season. It seeks to overturn age long sustainable practices.

Nigeria should be a leader in the defence of the African environment, not a Slavic follower of the dictates of the biotech industry or by others who are offering thirty filthy pieces.

Director, Health of Mother Earth Foundation,


10 Lessons From Nigeria’s Victory At AFCON 2013 By Malcolm Fabiyi.


Malcolm Fabiyi

Malcolm Fabiyi

The applause has died off. The 2013 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) Nigeria team have played themselves into the annals of history. However, there are timeless lessons to be gleaned from the performance and attitudes of the Super Eagles coach and players. Here are ten of the most pertinent lessons.

1.    Stand your ground. When Keshi submitted his list of players, he was roundly lampooned for the list of players he came up with. The big name, perennial stalwarts were absent. Six of the players he selected played in the lackluster local league.  Keshi and his team were written off even before the games began. It is easier to swim in the direction in which a stream flows – but sometimes, true progress can only come by taking a stand that goes against the common grain. Stand your ground, when you believe your reasoning is sound, and your cause is right.

2.    Focus on your weakness. Your strengths are already solid. It is your weakness that makes victory elusive. Nigeria’s problem at the nation’s cup has never been a lack of individual skills. It has been the inability to forge team unity and cohesion, and the lack of a genuine hunger for greatness. Keshi’s team had cohesion in abundance, and it is not accidental that this is the first Nigerian team in decades that did not implode with infighting and conflict at AFCON. It probably helped that the team was written off before the games even began, which forced them to bond ever more tightly. It also helped that players with outsized egos were not called up.  The scorned team’s desire to prove themselves spurred them on to greatness.

3.    Stay the course. At the start of the tournament, the Nigerian team conceded a last minute goal to Burkina Faso, struggled against Zambia, and needed penalties to overcome Ethiopia. By the fourth game against Cote D’Ivoire, it all started to come together. They started to click at just the right time.  It was not accidental. The errors of the early games were important learning opportunities for the later games.   The pre-tournament training in Portugal had helped bring the team together. Being written off gave them a hunger to succeed. It took some time for all the elements to come together. Heated metal in a blacksmith’s forge first appears to be untouched by the searing flames – and then suddenly, it yields, and starts to flow. Stay the course. Don’t give up before your situation yields – like metal in the forge.

4.    Have a Plan, but be ready to modify it as needed. Nigeria played free flowing, attacking football throughout the tournament. That basic strategy never changed. Against Mali, there was a slight modification. Keshi asked the team to speed the game up further. Why? Because the Mali defenders lacked pace.  The plan had worked up to that game, but to succeed, even good plans might need to be changed or modified. Plans are not developed in a vacuum, and he best plans are adaptable, taking cues from the field of play, and responding to them.

5.    Solutions lie around us. The Yoruba often say that “what you are looking for in Sokoto (a City) is in your Sokoto (your pants)”. Mba, Oboabona, Uzoenyi, Gabriel, Agbim and Egwueke play in the Nigerian league. Fittingly, it was Mba’s goal that won the trophy for Nigeria. Look around you. What you need to succeed might be closer than you think.

6.    Adversity can be turned to strength. Adversity can break you or make you. The choice for how to respond to adversity is entirely yours. In 2002, Victor Moses was an 11 year old boy mourning the killing of his parents in religious riots in Kaduna. In 2013, he was helping his native country win a trophy that had been elusive for 19 years. The experience of seeing one’s parents murdered will break even the strongest amongst us. The idea that the boy so grieved would ever agree to lace up boots for the nation that failed him, is incredible. Moses believes his parents “look down on him” when he plays. Moses has turned his personal tragedy into great strength. He can play anywhere in the world, and be sure that he has loved ones looking on, applauding his every move. Has your personal tragedy or failing kept you down? Look for the silver lining in your cloud!

7.    No vision, No progress. You must want it to have it. Those who have outstanding success have the ability to picture exactly what they hope for, and to hold on to that vision – even if no one else believes in their dream. Here are Keshi’s words: “I told the Togolese people we would qualify for the World Cup and they didn’t believe. I told my captain (Joseph Yobo) that we were coming to South Africa to win the cup, but he also didn’t believe.” Everything starts with the vision. When your goal is to win, it makes you get the right players in place, it makes you emphasize training and hard work. Have you determined what success looks like to you?   It doesn’t matter whether others buy into it at first.

8.    Acknowledge God’s Grace. Yes the Nigerian team practiced hard, but so did many others before them who failed. Yes, the team was full of talent. But there have been more talented teams that failed to win the ultimate prize. Ultimately, there is an element of God’s grace and providence in every triumph. That knowledge keeps us grounded, and stops us from getting swollen headed.

9.    Meritocracy pays dividends. Once upon a time, the composition of the Nigerian football team could be predicted a full year in advance.  The players that were called up  – the big boys, as they were called – felt entitled. It didn’t matter if they had sat on the bench all season at their clubs. The result of that approach speaks for itself – 19 years of failure at the continental level. In Nigeria’s political life, ethnic balancing and strident nepotism has eroded a once stellar culture of achievement. Where merit is not allowed to reign, failure inevitably follows. Allowing merit to prevail might mean every player comes from the same village. It might mean having 6 local players in the team. It might mean dropping some “big-boys”. One thing is certain – failure is a stranger where merit reigns.

10.    Don’t change your friends too quickly. Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan. When you are successful, the whole world suddenly wants a piece of you. Always remember though, that those who now hail and acclaim you as a “Super Eagle” in your moment of success will be the same ones who will rail at you and call you “Super Chicken” when failure comes knocking. Appreciate those who stood by you when the going was tough.  They are your true friends.


Mali war aims to crush rebels: African commander.

BAMAKO (Reuters) – French and African forces aim to hunt down and eradicate Islamist rebels in northern Mali, not contain them, the African contingent commander said on Thursday.

The African military force (AFISMA) drawn mainly from Mali’s neighbors is accelerating deployment in support of around 4,000 French soldiers already on the ground in the Sahel nation, said its commander Nigerian Major General Shehu Abdul-Kadir.

“This is not a containment mission, this is an eradication mission,” Abdul-Kadir told Reuters in an interview in Bamako.

With the Malian army, the French are battling al Qaeda-allied insurgents who have withdrawn from northern towns.

Some 70 percent of the African troops, expected to number more than 8,000 at full strength, have deployed to Mali, according to figures provided by the force. But African units mostly remain in the south, meaning French and Malian troops are bearing the brunt of responsibility for security in the north.

Paris hopes to start pulling some of its forces next month.

As the Nigerian general spoke, French-backed Malian forces were trying to flush out rebel infiltrators fighting a rearguard guerrilla action in the northern town of Gao.

Abdul-Kadir said this showed the kind of asymmetrical war that Mali and its French and African allies were facing.

“You know how the terrorists operate … they are with us, they are around us and they are far away from us,” the general said, wearing light desert camouflage.

He added the French and Malians, and AFISMA, were employing counter-insurgency tactics such as gathering information from the local population, setting up checkpoints to block access to roads and towns, and cordon-and-search operations.

Abdul-Kadir said France’s military intervention since January 11, which has involved hundreds of air strikes, special forces parachute drops and fast-moving advances by armored columns, had “depleted” the rebels.


“You can see that by the way they operate. They operate in pockets, and that tells you that their center of gravity is hit and hit badly and that’s why they’ve retired to the mountains and the forest,” he said.

“If they surrender, they’re welcome, but if they don’t, we’ll hunt them,” Abdul-Kadir added, saying French operations in Mali’s remote northeast desert and mountains were aimed at showing the Islamists they could be reached “wherever they are”.

Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Chad and Niger are among the most important troop contributors to the African force.

The general’s nation, Nigeria, is fighting an insurgency in its own north against Islamist sect Boko Haram, which intelligence officials say has links with jihadists in Mali.

The AFISMA commander said that despite the damage and casualties the Islamist insurgents were thought to have suffered, he believed they still retained some heavy weapons capabilities, such as possibly some multiple rocket-launch vehicles, cannon, and even perhaps surface to air missiles.

Abdul-Kadir said a suspect linked to insurgent groups had recently been arrested in Mauritania with equipment related to surface to air missile “capabilities”. He did not elaborate.

One strategic consideration was the need to make progress before the onset in March/April of the annual season of dust-storms and rains, the general added. But he did not see the weather as a major impediment.

AFISMA was also waging an information campaign in Malian media to appeal to the public to denounce rebel suspects, reveal arms caches, and in general welcome the foreign troops.

The idea was “to get the Malians to understand that we’re part of the peaceful process, we’re not here to add to the problem, we’re here to reduce the problem,” the general said.

The African contingent has had airlift and logistics support from Europe and the United States. Washington has also assisted the French-led campaign with intelligence and surveillance.

Abdul-Kadir said the African force still needed strike helicopters and medical evacuation helicopters.

“The international cooperation is good, but, like Oliver Twist, we wouldn’t say no to more!” he added with a smile.

(Editing by Jason Webb)


By Pascal Fletcher | Reuters

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