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Novelist tortured, detained for using Twitter to disturb Uganda’s President Museveni



A prominent Ugandan writer and critic of long-ruling leader Yoweri Museveni has been charged with communications offences related to tweets critical of the president and his son, a charge sheet showed on Tuesday.

Kakwenza Rukirabashaija has been in detention by the military since December 28, when armed men broke into his house and took him away.

Mr Rukirabashaija was charged with “offensive communication,” citing his tweets in December that were critical of Mr Museveni and his son, Muhoozi Kainerubaga, a general and commander of land forces in the military.

His charges also include “willfully and repeatedly using his Twitter handle to disturb the peace of his Mr Museveni with no purpose of legitimate communication.”

His lawyer said Mr Rukirabashaija was tortured and that he was urinating blood at one time.

Police and the military have not responded to the allegations of torture.

He was remanded and is expected to be brought to court again on January 21.

Mr Rukirabashaija, a novelist, has written several books but his most acclaimed is a satirical novel, ‘The Greedy Barbarian’, for which last year he won the PEN Pinter Prize International Writer of Courage award.

The novel tackles themes of corruption and greed and has widely been interpreted in Uganda to refer to the political life of Mr Museveni.

He has previously been arrested and questioned by the military about whether the novel was about Mr Museveni.

His detention and allegations of torture have drawn criticism and pressure to release him from local activists and international diplomats.

Rights defenders, including the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Jim Risch and Eamon Gilmore, EU special representative for human rights, are also fighting for his release.

Mr Gilmore tweeted on January 5 and demanded his release saying, “I’m alarmed by reports of alleged torture and incommunicado detention of author @KakwenzaRukira.”

Days before he was detained, Mr Rukirabashaija posted several critical comments critical of Messrs Museveni and Kainerubaga. He said Mr Kainerubaga was “obese,” assailed his military credentials and denounced the purported plans to have him succeed his father.




Ekiti pensioners weep, kneel to God in prayer over unpaid gratuities



Pensioners and Ekiti Governor Kayode Fayemi

Pensioners in Ekiti were on Tuesday seen weeping and kneeling in supplication to God over the non-payment of their gratuities by the state government.

The pensioners attended an interdenominational prayer session at the secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners, Oke-Bareke in Ado-Ekiti.

Some of the pensioners who were seen crying, prayed that Governor Kayode Fayemi would be moved to pay the arrears of their gratuities and pensions.

Speaking with journalists after the prayers, the NUP Chairman, Ekiti state chapter, Joel Akinola, noted that many pensioners in Ekiti had died without getting their benefits while some are battling with various illnesses due to lack of funds.

According to him, Ekiti government is owing gratuities to the tune of N2 billion and outstanding pensions accumulating to millions of naira.

Mr Ajibola said the pensioners were hoping that the governor would pay a substantial amount of the debt before leaving office.

“Each time there is transition of power, it’s often difficult to agitate or confront the new governor because they will be quick to tell you that they are not the one owing us.

“We have laboured and served our nation and state meritoriously for 35 years, we deserve better than what we have been getting,” he lamented.

The NUP state chairman appealed to the state government to pay them to enable the few ones who are still alive make use of the money for their upkeep.



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Passport Issuance: El-Zakzaky, wife object to NIS motion to join SSS, NIA



El Zakzaky and Wife

Leader of the proscribed Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, and wife, Zeenah, objected to the request by the Nigeria Immigration Service to join the State Security Service and the National Intelligence Agency in a suit.

El-Zakzaky and wife expressed their objection after counsel to the NIS, Jimoh Adamu, served on the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Funmi Falana, a motion to join the SSS and NIA in the suit which came up on Tuesday before Justice Obiora Egwuatu of a Federal High Court, Abuja.

Mr Adamu, who filed the motion earlier in the morning, had said that joining the parties would also help the court in its decision and for the sake of fair hearing.

However, Mrs Falana objected to the motion for joinder on the ground that the reason for filing the suit, she argued, had nothing to do with the SSS or NIA.

She argued that since the Immigration Service was statutorily empowered to issue travel documents, the SSS and NIA had nothing to do with the applicants’ claims.

According to her, the plaintiffs have approached the court to seek an order declaring that the violation of their right to freedom of movement in the denial of the issuance of passports to them to enable them seek medical care abroad is unconstitutional.

She said her clients had applied to seek an enforcement of their fundamental rights as enshrined in the constitution.

Justice Egwuatu then adjourned the matter until February 14 for the argument to be taken, stating that this became necessary on the ground that the motion had not been studied by the court and more time would be needed to go through it.

El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zennah, had in another N4 billion suits before Justice Inyang Ekwo of a sister court, sued the SSS and the Attorney-General of the Federation before the court over allegation bordering on their passports seizure.

Meanwhile, the couple sued the NIS before Justice Egwuatu over the refusal to release their international passports.

The duo, who listed the NIS and its Comptroller General as 1st and 2nd defendants, prayed the court to enforce their fundamental right.

In a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/22/2022 and filed by their lawyer, Femi Falana, on January 11, 2022, El-Zakzaky and wife said they had the right to freedom of movement as guaranteed by the Nigerian constitution and the African Charter of Human and Peoples Right.

They prayed the court to declare that the refusal of the NIS to process their travel documents to enable them travel abroad is illegal, unconstitutional, null and void. 



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South Sudan: UN calls for probe into deadly intercommunal violence



UN Mission in South Sudan UNMISS

The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has called on the authorities to investigate a report of deadly intercommunal violence in the country’s Jonglei State earlier this week.

UNMISS said on Tuesday that the attack reportedly occurred on Sunday when armed youth from the Murle community carried out cattle raids in two villages in Baidit, citing various independent sources, including the Human Rights Commission.

Some 32 people from the Dinka Bor community were killed, according to preliminary information, with the victims including three women killed by gunshots, and three children who reportedly drowned in the river while fleeing.

At least 26 other people were wounded, and at least five houses were burnt and other property looted. Also, some people reportedly fled to nearby bushes, some of whom remain unaccounted for.

UNMISS stated that it strongly condemns any attack on civilians and urged groups and individuals to take immediate action to avoid further escalations that would endanger vulnerable people.

“The Mission further calls on authorities to carry out timely investigations and that the perpetrators be held accountable,” it said.

“Any surge in subnational violence will have a devastating effect on communities that have already been impacted by flooding, the COVID-19 pandemic and recurring conflict,” the Mission stated.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) also responded to the attack, with its South Sudan representative, Hamida Lasseko, saying she was deeply saddened to learn children were among the victims.



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