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Afghanistan orders ban of WhatsApp

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Afghanistan has sparked an outcry after it moved to block WhatsApp and Telegram messaging services.

Journalists, media groups and users of social media have accused the government of censorship after the move.

But government figure said the decision posed no threat to Afghans’ freedom of expression.

It is believed calls for a ban may have been initiated to stop the Taliban and other insurgent groups from communicating via the encrypted messaging apps.

WhatsApp and Telegram are often used by militant groups to avoid government surveillance.

Earlier in the week officials at the body which regulates telecommunications in Afghanistan confirmed they had written to service providers to ask for a temporary, 20-day ban for security reasons.

But acting Telecommunications Minister Shahzad Aryobee also posted a message on Facebook saying the regulator had been asked to enforce a gradual block on messaging services to solve technical problems after several complaints.

Complaints about audibility and signal strength are common in Afghanistan.

Aryobee wrote: “The government is committed to freedom of speech and knows that it is a basic civil right for our people.”

The ban is yet to have been enforced.

Prominent newspaper editor Parwiz Kawa said the move was a retrograde step and would not be tolerated.

Mobile services have rapidly expanded in Afghanistan since the US-led invasion of the country in 2001.

WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, have refused to comment.

Crime

Nigeria Football Federation boss Amaju Pinnick under fresh corruption probe

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Several properties belonging to top officials of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), including its president Amaju Pinnick, have been seized in a fresh corruption probe.

The latest investigation and seizures are being carried out by the country’s Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission’s (ICPC).

The ICPC has published a newspaper advertisement about the properties seized – half of which belong to Pinnick.

According to the statement published in the Nigerian papers one of Pinnick’s properties is in London.

It comes amidst wide-ranging claims over how money meant for football development allegedly disappeared.

“We can’t go into further details beyond the fact that many officials of the NFF are under investigation,” ICPC spokesperson, Rasheedat Okoduwa said.

“It’s basically because what they have is in excess of what they have earned.”

The ICPC has also taken control of properties belonging to the NFF second vice-president Shehu Dikko and the general secretary Muhamed Sanusi among others.

Source: BBC

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24 Hours Across Africa

Rwanda ban Burundi,s music star ahead of annual festival

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Burundian musician Jean Pierre Nimbona, popularly known as Kidum, has told the BBC he is confused by Rwanda’s decision to ban him from playing at the upcoming Kigali Jazz Fusion festival.

Kidum is one of Burundi’s biggest music stars and has performed in Rwanda for the past 16 years.

But a police official phoned the musician’s manager to warn that he would only be allowed to make private visits to Rwanda.

“[My manager was told] Kidum is not supposed to perform, tell him to leave. If he comes for private visits fine, but no performances,” the musician told BBC’s Focus on Africa radio programme.

The mayor of Rwanda’s capital said that in this instance permission had not been sought from the authorities for him to perform at the festival in Kigali.

Kidum was a leading peace activist during Burundi’s civil war between 1993 and 2003 and used his songs to call for reconciliation.

The 44-year-old musician said he had never had problems with Rwandan authorities until recently when three of his shows were cancelled at the last minute – including one in December 2018.

That month Burundi had banned Meddy, a musician who is half-Burundian, half-Rwandan, from performing in the main city of Bujumbura.

Kidum said he was unsure if the diplomatic tensions between Burundi and Rwanda had influenced his ban.

“I don’t know, I don’t have any evidence about that. And if there was politics, I’m not a player in politics, I’m just a freelance musician based in Nairobi,” he said.

He said he would not challenge the ban: “There’s nothing I can do, I just wait until maybe the decision is changed some day.

“It’s similar to a family house and you are denied entry… so you just have to wait maybe until the head of the family decides otherwise.”

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