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French president celebrates ‘Christmas’ with troops in Niger

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French President Emmanuel Macron visited and dined with soldiers stationed in Niger who are fighting against extremism in the Sahel, reassuring them that France would not abandon the region to extremists.

“The Sahel is a priority. It’s that which plays a part in the future of the African continent, but equally and without doubt, a part of our future. We must not leave the Sahel in the hands of terrorists,” he said late Friday amid 500 soldiers with Operation Barkhane at Niger’s airport in Niamey, the capital.

In a show of support for French troops based in Niger and in the festive spirit of Christmas, Macron brought with him the chef from the Elysee presidential palace, who oversaw a meal for the French troops in addition to American, Canadian and German forces.

Macron supported the newly formed G-5 Sahel force that will work alongside the operation and is made up of African soldiers from Chad, Niger, Nigeria, Mali and Burkina Faso.

Macron, during his visit, is expected to discuss the implementation, by mid-2018, of this force of 5,000 men, composed of soldiers from the five countries involved, who recently conducted a first operation in the zone of the “three borders” between Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso.

Macron thanked the soldiers for their dedication and paid tribute to those who have fallen.

Macron is also expected to hold bilateral talks with President Mahamadou Issoufou to discus migrant trafficking and development projects among other things.

Paris has pledged 400 million euros for the development of Niger over the 2018-2021 period, some of which in the form of projects led by the French Development Agency (FDA). Some of them aim to support the will of President Issoufou to send more girls to school.

Niger is at the forefront of migratory routes in the Sahel, particularly in the region of Agadez in the north.

In August this year, France agreed to “identify” from Niger and Chad nationals “who are entitled to the asylum “to” put them in safety as quickly as possible “, during a mini summit in Paris between Africans and Europeans on the migration crisis.

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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