Tragedy: Super Eagle Defender Dies Shortly After Wedding

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Read Time:1 Minute, 12 Second

Wonders, they say, shall not end. Imagine the tragedy that recently struck the household of former fringe defender of Nigeria’s Super Eagles, Obinna Nnodim, who passed on in Owerri.

Jerry Uche, an ex-teammate to the former Julius Berger football club of Lagos stopper disclosed to newsmen that Nnodim gave up the ghost in a mysterious circumstance shortly after his wedding ceremony with his fiancée.

“Obinna was looking hale and hearty when I saw him few days before his death. He just returned from Thailand for his wedding. We all wined and dined together only to receive the sad news few days ago that he was dead. This is a big shock to me and the rest of us. I just want to believe that there is more to it than meets the eyes. His mother has been ill for so many years and to make matter worse he is the bread winner of the family’’,Uche lamented.

Until his death, Nnodim , 31, featured for Arugo FC of Owerri, Julius Berger, Dolphins and Sharks Football Club of Port Harcourt. The high point of his career was when he helped Julius Berger to reach the final of the African Winners Cup now known as the Confederation Cup in 2003.

Meanwhile, Nnodim’s burial which had been initially slated for Thursday has been suspended indefinitely by the family to enable them get to the root of his untimely demise

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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How my daughter’s fiancé bathed her with acid’

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Read Time:4 Minute, 44 Second

The motive behind the acid bath of 22-year-old Chika Egbo by her estranged lover, David Sulaimon, remains elusive, but one thing is sure, the victim may not remain the same again.

Chika is a student of the Enugu State College of Education.

Last Tuesday, when our correspondent visited her at the Burns Unit of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, Egbo has become a shadow of the beautiful girl she was.

The substance Sulaimon allegedly poured on her had destroyed every visible skin from her chest upwards.

She mumbled to her father, a Taraba State-based businessman, as she could neither see nor speak properly at the time.

When her father, Matthew Egbo, narrated the incident that led to Chika’s state, the story brought tears to his eyes as he lamented that his daughter would never be normal again.

Matthew said, “In March 2011, someone who identified himself as Lekan Sulaimon called me, asking for my daughter’s hand in marriage. We talked a lot and I promised to speak with Chika on the issue.

“My daughter later told me he was the boy she was in love with and said she had resolved to marry him.”

After much discussion, Matthew told Sulaimon to bring his parents for proper introduction, but the suitor said his father was ill and needed to be taken abroad for treatment. He also said his mother was abroad.

Matthew said, “On the June 25 date that we agreed on, Sulaimon brought seven men and four women dressed in Yoruba attire to my hometown, Enugu, where we held the introduction.

“But around November last year, my wife travelled from Taraba to Enugu and Chika told her she was pregnant.”

According to Matthew, Chika told her parents they should not be alarmed since she and Sulaiman had agreed to get married.

Chika was instructed to go to Lagos and tell Sulaiman’s relations about the pregnancy.

But when she got back from Lagos, Chika told her father that she discovered that most of what Sulaiman had told her about his parents were lies.

Matthew explained, “For instance, Chika discovered that Sulaimon’s father was hale and hearty. The father told her he was not aware of any plans by his son to get married.

“She also learnt that the mother was not abroad too. She visited her and she told us the woman received her well and even expressed joy that his son had found someone to marry.

“But after the visit, we heard nothing from neither Sulaimon nor his parents until after my daughter gave birth to a baby girl on May 4.

Our correspondent learnt that Chika had broached the idea of abortion to her parents, as she told them it was apparent that the man she was in love with had lied to her all along.

Matthew forbade her to consider abortion. After the baby was born, Chika was said to have informed Sulaimon, but he gave series of excuses why he could not visit her.

He reportedly told her he was facing some challenges and did not have the wherewithal to take care of the baby at the moment.

After a few months, Chika’s baby girl was weaned and taken to Taraba to live with Matthew and his wife.

The Egbos said they took the decision to take the baby off their daughter’s hands so that she could continue her study.

PUNCH Metro learnt that in November, Sulaimon began to request that he needed to see his baby, but Matthew told him to bring his parents to come and iron things out.

Chika was said to have insisted she did not want to have anything to do with the young man anymore.

But on November 5, Chika travelled to Lagos after Sulaimon had informed her that his mother wanted to see her. The unsuspecting girl left Enugu without informing her parents.

“My phone just rang that day and I was told to come to Lagos because a young man had poured acid on my daughter,” Chika’s father said.

Matthew said the message came as a rude shock since he was not aware his daughter went to Lagos. He explained that the police were the ones who got his number from her phone.

He said,“What I learnt was that when she arrived Igando, Lagos, Sulaimon met her and she demanded that he should take her to his mother who wanted to see her.

“What we gathered from the little she could mumble to us was that Sulaimon went behind a house and as they were about to pick an okada to his mother’s house, he brought out a polythene.

“But when they stopped at a point and Chika thought they were going to proceed to his mother’s house, he just opened a container in the polythene he was carrying and emptied its content on her head.

“She told us when she realised that what Sulaimon poured on her had began eating into her skin, she raised the alarm and called for help.”

PUNCH Metro learnt that passersby and sympathisers, who had been alerted to the young woman’s plight, pursued the fleeing Sulaimon. He was caught and taken to Ikotun Police Station.

“Till now, I still don’t know why he did what he did,” Matthew said.

Divisional Police Officer of Ikotun, Mr. Augustin Akika, confirmed the incident, but said the suspect had been transferred to the state Criminal Investigations Department, Yaba.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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EXCLUSIVE! $5,000 Stolen In Chris Oyakhilome’s Vault **Oyakhilome’s Close Ally Fingered

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Read Time:1 Minute, 27 Second

Ugly rumours emanating from the Believers Love World (BLW) popularly known as Christ Embassy headquarters, Oregun, Ikeja, Lagos is more than shocking if it is anything to go by. Impeccable sources exclusively revealed to Enquirer Magazine that the church headquarters, which is the venue of their annual International Conference IPPC, is currently being shaken to its root due to the $5,000 US dollars that was cleverly stolen from the Central Finance Department on Tuesday, November 13, 2012.

One of the staff members who pleaded anonymity said Pastor Chris Oyakhilome, his serving pastors and other key members are still shocked at the disappearance of the money which was supposed to be in the custody of the Finance Department.

“These people will never change ! they keep soiling our image, imagine now that we have international  delegates around is when such terrible thing is happening,” the angry church member lamented.

The source further revealed that the money was mysteriously transferred from the Finance Department without following due process or accounted for and accusing fingers have directed to some of the trusted hands of Pastor Chris as investigations have began.

“The rumour is that the atrocity must have been perpetuated by one of Pastor’s most trusted hands who’s a senior staff of the department and that is why members of the finance department are doing everything possible to keep it under check until the programme ends,” he added.

We also gathered that the Finance department is now being extra careful as this is not the first case of alleged theft since the programme started. We promise to keep you posted on this as efforts to get an official reaction on the story proved abortive as at press time. 

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Ghana: small change, big difference

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Read Time:5 Minute, 11 Second

From a stallholder earning up to £16 profit a day selling fish, to a farmer buying more land, a village finance scheme is giving Ghanaian women the chance to fulfil their ambitions

t’s 4am and the pungent smell of fish permeates the air in the Ghanaian village of Dabala, as Patience Diaba, 36, smokes her produce over an open fire. Six hours later, she carts the tilapia fish to market.

She sets up her fish on a wooden table and, perched on an upturned bucket, starts to sell. It’s 50 pesewa (15p) for a small fish and GH¢1 (30p) for a larger one. The shouting hawkers, together with the dirt, dust and stifling heat, assault every sense, but Diaba will sit and sell until the sun goes down. On a good day she can make GH¢50 (£16) profit, she says.

Diaba is an entrepreneur out of necessity. There is no social safety net for her, no jobseeker’s allowance or benefits. If her family wants to eat, drink and go to school, then she must make money any way she can.

A loan from her Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA) in the Volta region, about two hours drive from Accra, allowed her to buy a box of 250 fish for GH¢100 (£33).

The VSLA is part of the Banking on Change programme that has reached more than 88,000 people in Ghana, teaching those with no access to banks how to save in a self-sustaining group. Saving is hard for the 30% of Ghanaians who live on less than £1 a day. It does not provide relief from hunger, thirst or illness, and it requires discipline.

Patience Diaba sells her smoked fish at the market at Dabala Junction. Photograph: Nyani Quarmyne for the Guardian

The VSLA eases the process. Once a week at 6am, Diaba meets up with 20 other people from her village who save funds from which they can borrow at an interest rate of 10%. The money is locked inside a metal box using three different keys and taken home by the chair of the group.

Diaba can borrow three times the amount she has saved and only has to save what she can afford. The minimum investment is GH¢1 (30p) and she can use that to buy a share of the savings pot. At the end of the year, the savings are shared proportionally, according to the number of shares members own. Interest from the loans is added to the dividend.

Diaba has never before had access to a bank, and she is not alone – according to the World Bank, more than 2.5 billion adults in the developing world have no access to bank accounts, savings or credit. She has no formal address or identification, and most banks are located far from her village.

The VSLA teaches people how to overcome these problems. Every member is from the same community, and the group makes collective decisions about who is allowed to save and how much interest to charge. Microsaving does not require the same external support as formal banking; it allows the group to be self-sustainable.

“I used to struggle with money,” says Diaba, “but now I have control over my finances.”

According to a survey by Plan UK, more than half of Ghanaian women say they don’t have the skills to save, yet 90% believe it is a priority. The groups will carry on meeting each week now that they have the knowhow to save, even though the formal training ended in September.

Eighty-one per cent of those involved in the Banking on Change programme are women. They use the VSLA to enhance household income and access education and healthcare.

“Women in Ghana have the ability to lift themselves, their families and their communities out of poverty,” says Marie Staunton, chief executive of Plan UK. “They have incredible ambition – they just need the tools to help them realise it.”

The three-year programme, which started in 2009, was pioneered by Barclays, Plan and CARE International UK and rolled out to 11 developing countries, reaching 488,000 people. In Ghana alone, the groups have saved more than £1m and made loans totalling £750,000.

“I was sceptical of the programme after having bad experiences with local moneylenders and microfinance organisations, where they ran off with my money,” says Diaba, “but together we decided to give it a try and I’m glad I did.”

At meetings, each member will contribute a small amount to the social fund, to provide a form of insurance that can assist in emergencies.

“Women in Ghana have proved that saving a little, regularly, can help achieve a more resilient future,” says Catharine French, Barclays retail and business banking director of corporate affairs.

Diaba is one of 9 million Ghanaians working in the informal sector, fuelling a cash-driven economy. Like many, she invests in a small business in which she has seen others making a profit, and hopes to do the same. She cannot afford the risks that large-scale entrepreneurship entails; she cannot access large loans from the VSLA.

“In this area, job opportunities are not here, so if you have something to do then you have to put all your best in it. It is not as lucrative as I would like it to be but I am managing it. I enjoy doing it,” says Diaba.

In Ghana, change is happening from the bottom up. Trust, transparency and perseverance are key to the VSLA’s success and to development across Africa. The programme cannot solve all the problems that hinder progress – the VSLA cannot eradicate corruption, upgrade infrastructure, provide clean piped water or improve sanitation. But it is facilitating small changes in people’s daily lives that are making a big difference.

“The VSLA has changed my life,” says Diaba, pointing to her half-built storeroom and the new tin roof on her house. She has been able to expand her business, pay her children’s school fees and employ her cousin to help her twice a week when she goes to market.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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I will make Ghana a better place – Akufo Addo

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Read Time:2 Minute, 9 Second

Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), has said that he would make Ghana a better place when voted into power in the December polls.

He said the situation where majority of Ghanaians continued to wallow in abject poverty even though Ghana abounds with rich natural resources, was unacceptable.

Nana Akufo-Addo therefore appealed to the electorate to vote massively for the NPP to take over from the ruling Nation Democratic Congress (NDC).

The NPP presidential candidate was addressing a rally at Nsawam last Thursday as part of his campaign tour of the Eastern Region.

The tour took him to constituencies such as Nsawam-Adoagyiri, Nkawkaw, Kade, and Swedru where he introduced the parliamentary candidates who were elected after the creation of the new constituencies to the party’s supporters.

He was accompanied on the tour by Mr. Abu Jinapor, member of the campaign team, Mr. Yaw Osafo-Maafo, former Member of Parliament (MP) for Akyem Oda, Mr. Felix Owusu Agyepong, former MP for Akyem Swedru, some MPs and regional executives of the party.

Addressing the crowd at the Nsawam Post Office Park, Nana Akufo-Addo, told the people that he came to announce his readiness and determination to work hard to recapture power in 2012 from the NDC to implement his free Senior High School policy.

He appealed to them to vote for the NPP in December to continue the good works of former President John Agyekum Kufour.

Nana Akufo Addo said the NDC government has been insensitive to the plight of Ghanaians and appealed to them not to make a mistake by retaining it in power.

Nana Akufo-Addo also reiterated his commitment to ensure free and quality secondary education at all levels and urged the people not to listen to those saying he could not do it.

He said the NPP government led by the former President Kufour introduced a lot of social interventions such as the National Health Insurance, Capitation Grant, School Feeding Programme, Livelihood against Poverty and many others.

Nana Akufo Addo said the NDC government had failed to fulfill all the campaign promises it made to the electorate in 2008, including the one-term health insurance premium and urged the electorate not to make a mistake to renew the mandate of the party.

The parliamentary candidate for Nsawam-Adoagyiri, Mr Frank Annor Dompreh, said it was during the NPP’s term in government that the area experienced massive development including the construction of town roads, and appealed to the people to come out in their numbers and vote massively for the party.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Canada’s new exiles

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Read Time:3 Minute, 33 Second

Just days ago, Canada decided to deport Saeed Jama to Somalia. He was convicted of possession of crack for purposes of trafficking and possession of stolen goods. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney remarked that Jama “should not have chosen a life of violent crime.” For the record, Jama was not convicted of any crime of violence. He finished serving his sentence more than three years ago and has not re-offended.

This past March, with much less media attention, Canada deported another young man, Jama Warsame, who shares a remarkably similar story to Saeed Jama.

Both men were born in Saudi Arabia to Somali refugees, arrived in Canada as children, have never set foot in Somalia, and can’t speak a Somali language. Saudi Arabia does not grant citizenship on the basis of birth on Saudi soil, so neither are Saudi citizens. They are Somali citizens because they were born to Somali citizens. Their parents never applied to obtain Canadian citizenship on their behalf. Both men accumulated criminal convictions. It is not uncommon for immigrants and refugees who arrive as children to assume they are citizens, or never put their minds to the question until the government moves to deport them.

Canada proceeded with Warsame’s deportation to Somalia in March 2012, despite the fact that doing so violated Canada’s legal obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In 2011, the UN Human Rights Committee unanimously found that Canada’s proposed deportation of Warsame would violate his right to life and right to freedom from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

In relation to the right to life, the UN accepted that, as a Canadian kid, dropped in the middle of Somalia, with no language skills, and limited clan or family support, Warsame would be a sitting duck for forced recruitment by armed groups such as Al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam and even the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and their allied forces. In short, he faced a real risk of real harm.

A majority of the UN Human Rights Committee also found that the deportation would breach Warsame’s right to family life, as well as his right to enter and remain in his “own country.” One might wonder how Canada can be Warsame’s own country when he isn’t a Canadian citizen. The majority of the Human Rights Committee reasoned that in all functional respects, he belongs to Canada: he was brought here as a child and his formative years were spent in Canada.

Metaphors can be risky, but here we might analogize the situation to adoption: who is Warsame’s or Jama’s national parent — the country from which he has a blood connection, but has never seen, or the country that raised him since childhood? The Human Rights Committee sensibly chose the latter.

At present, Canadian law effectively permits the automatic deportation of non-citizens convicted and sentenced to two years imprisonment or more, with no consideration of the personal circumstances of the individual or compelling reasons not to deport. Under proposed legislation (Bill C-43), the government will reduce that interval to six months. To give one an idea of the kind of offences that can lead to six month sentences, consider that under the recent omnibus crime bill, possessing six marijuana plants now carries a mandatory minimum six month sentence.

If Bill C-43 passes, it will not matter whether the individual arrived last year or 30 years ago, as an infant or as an adult, or whether the person ever set foot in their country of nationality — six months and you’re out. Canada should not be deporting long term permanent residents without independent consideration of not only the offence, but also to the individual’s connection to Canada and the real impact of deportation.

Governments around the world have abandoned the barbaric practice of exiling citizens. Whatever one thinks about Jama and Warsame, they are products of Canada, and sending them to a country they have never set foot in, a country so dangerous that Canadians are advised not to enter, is vindictive and inhumane. It is not deportation; it is exile.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Bartering may boost food supply for rural Kenyans

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Read Time:42 Second

Nyeri, Kenya

It may be dismissed by Kenya’s middle classes and elites as primitive, but farmer Leah Wambu, is convinced that bartering promises a new way of protecting rural food supplies as climate change takes hold.

Swapping one type of goods for another instead of for cash is an age-old practice. For a growing number of people like 69-year-old Wambui, from Nyeri, it is gaining new appeal as a way to combat increasing food scarcity in rural areas such as hers in central Kenya.

“If I need a chicken, I take a basketful of maize to the market and look for someone interested in my goods,” says the cheerful grandmother. “If we agree the goods meet each others’ worth, then I will trade my grain for the chicken.”

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Boris Johnson warns that UK is losing foreign students

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Read Time:3 Minute, 49 Second

Tighter visa restrictions are sending the “wrong signal” to foreign students and many are being lost to others parts of the world, Boris Johnson has warned.

Speaking in India, the mayor of London said the UK should strongly welcome foreign students, not deter them.

Rules preventing them staying after graduating unless they get a £20,000 job were putting many off, he added.

Ministers say they are committed to reducing net migration levels and students cannot be exempted from this.

There are about 300,000 students from outside the European Union enrolled at courses at UK institutions and numbers rose 6% in 2010-11 – the last year for which official figures are available.

On the second day of a visit to India in which he is seeking to boost economic and cultural links, Mr Johnson said new rules for student visas were having a negative impact.

The new rules mean higher standards of English are needed for students and they can only remain in the UK after graduating if they have a skilled job with a graduate-level salary from an accredited employer.

The London mayor said the number of Indians applying for degrees in the UK was down 9% this year and was set to fall further in 2013.

“Start Quote

I am saying to government ‘don’t do things that are going to cause unnecessary alarm and prejudice against the UK”

Boris Johnson Mayor of London

He said he had written to the home secretary Theresa May to express his concerns and to press for the government to set up a commission to look at whether the UK was losing prospective foreign undergraduates to countries with different visa requirements.

“The policy on visas is, in my view, sending the wrong signal. There are so many stipulations that we are starting to lose business to Australia, America and Canada,” he said.

“The extra stipulations, such as the need to have a salary of up to a certain amount before you are allowed to stay on mean we need to be very careful that we are not doing stuff that actively deters foreign students and at the moment the policy seems to put people off.”

‘Unnecessary alarm’

Mr Johnson said the UK had a “strong” reputation for attracting students from around the world and the £2.5bn in fees they paid every year helped universities pay for places for UK students.

NON-EU OVERSEAS STUDENT NUMBERS AT UK INSTITUTIONS

  • China: 67,325
  • India: 39,090
  • Nigeria: 17,585
  • United States: 15,555
  • Malaysia: 13,900
  • Hong Kong: 10,440
  • Saudi Arabia: 10,270
  • Pakistan: 10,185
  • Total: 298,110

Source: Higher Education Statistics Agency (2010-11)

“It is a great idea to have a London that is open to that kind of business. I am saying to government ‘don’t do things that are going to cause unnecessary alarm and prejudice against the UK.”

According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency, there were 39,090 Indian students on UK courses in 2010-11, 13% of the total non-EU student population and second only to China.

In what Mr Johnson said was an “exciting” development, the Amity University of Delhi announced on Monday that it wants to open a campus for 15,000 foreign students in London.

Mayoral sources suggested that the Greater London Authority would seek to work with the private university to establish whether any of the land it holds would be suitable for the site.

‘Brightest and best’

Some MPs are worried about the impact that the government’s crackdown on bogus colleges and university visa procedures is having on foreign students’ perceptions of the UK as a place to study.

The government has said it still wants to attract the “brightest and the best” to come to the UK but is focused on reducing net migration levels from more than 200,000 now to the tens of thousands.

Speaking at the Conservative Party conference in September, the home secretary said the government would take on “powerful vested interests” which opposed its policy and the higher education sector could not be treated differently because of its value to the economy.

“I agree that we need to support our best colleges and universities and encourage the best students to come here,” she said.

“But to say importing more and more immigrants is our best export product is nothing but the counsel of despair.”

Mr Johnson and other MPs are urging ministers to remove student visa statistics from the government’s overall net migration target.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Kenyans stranded in Saudi Arabia return home

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Read Time:1 Minute, 9 Second

NAIROBI; KENYA: The last batch of Kenyan women, who were stranded in Saudi Arabia for months where they had gone to seek employment as domestic workers, have arrived back home.

The group of 29 women returned on Monday after being stranded in Riyadh for months. It brought to 72 the number of women who have so far arrived back in Nairobi since September following intervention by Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, who visited Riyadh in August.

 

The women arrived aboard Air Arabia after the Saudi Government paid their tickets.

“This is the third group of the girls to arrive home. It has been difficult for us here,” said an official at the Kenyans embassy in Riyadh.

More than 80 Kenyans had been staying at a transitional detention camp in Riyadh.
The group left Kenya with hopes of securing employment in the Middle East, but later got stranded and called on the Government to rescue them.

Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Thuita Mwangi said in August a container where the victims were held was set up after the number of distressed Kenyan workers in Saudi Arabia skyrocketed.

He said between January and April this year, more than 200 Kenyans had sought help from the embassy after falling out with their employers.

The PS explained that it was impractical to accommodate such high numbers at the official residence of Kenya’s ambassador.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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UK Floods: Government Insists Talks With Insurers Ongoing

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Read Time:4 Minute, 7 Second

Environment secretary Owen Paterson has derided reports that the government was struggling to secure a new deal with flood insurers for vulnerable homes as "complete nonsense".

It was claimed on Monday that hundreds of thousands of homes may be left without flood cover due to a row between ministers and the insurance industry over how future flooding bills would be covered.

The floods have caused three deaths huge amounts of damage throughout England

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) had claimed that talks about a "safety net" deal to ensure those in flood-risk areas can continue to afford their policies were at "crisis point".

But on Monday evening, Mr Paterson said talks were ongoing – and that ministers were committed to securing a good deal for both householders and the taxpayer.

The environment secretary was speaking as he updated MPs on a flooding crisis which has hit homes in regions across England and Wales, leaving three dead and more than 900 homes evacuated.

Speaking in the Commons, he added that more heavy rain was expected and it was too soon to quantify the full scale of the damage.

Pressed to comment on the row with insurers by his Labour shadow Mary Creagh, Mr Paterson said: "Today's story is complete nonsense. The very first meeting I had outside my office after taking office was with the ABI, we have had most constructive and detailed discussions with them since.

"There was a senior level meeting as recently as the end of last week. I'm looking forward to receiving the ABI's latest suggestions.

The environment secretary insisted that talks with insurers had not stalled

"We are determined to arrive at a replacement for the statement of principles which provides universality, which is affordable and does not provide a major burden on the taxpayer."

Mr Paterson said it was Labour who left office in 2010 without laying any groundwork for a replacement to the statement of principles – an agreement between the government and insurers to ensure householders at flood risk can get insurance.

Ms Creagh told MPs that if chancellor George Osborne could not announce a deal in next month's Autumn Statement, householders would find it impossible to get insurance for their homes.

Insurers want to top-slice all insurance premiums to create a new funding pot to cover flooding claims.

But while that is being built up, they want the government to step in to provide a temporary overdraft to cover any shortfall during intense periods of flooding.

Downing Street said it had put forward a proposal to the industry last week, which was being considered – a claim that was dismissed by the ABI.

Over the weekend, a 21-year-old woman was killed and two people were seriously injured in Western Way, Exeter, when they were crushed by a tree as wild winds whipped southern England, and a 50-year-old man died after falling into a canal in Watford.

It followed the death on Thursday of a man who was killed when his car became wedged under a bridge near a ford in Rectory Fields, Chew Stoke, Somerset.

In his statement to MPs, Mr Paterson offered condolences to the family and friends of those killed.

He said: "The whole House would wish to express its profound sympathy to the families and friends of those who lost loved ones at this time."

Households have been left to count the costs of the latest flooding

Mr Paterson said the Environment Agency currently had 197 flood warnings and 291 flood alerts in place across the country.

Forecasters warned of more trouble ahead as a band of persistent rain moves across northern England and North Wales, with County Durham, Teesside, North Yorkshire and the Conwy area of North Wales likely to be worst affected.

Heavy showers are also forecast in Wiltshire, Dorset and central southern England, while gale-force winds are likely to hit the northern coast of Cornwall, the north east coast of England and parts of Wales.

The Environment Agency is predicting river levels to swell overnight with the River Severn being of particular concern.

The A417 at Maisemore has already flooded, is closed and will not be open in the morning so drivers will need to find an alternative route for travelling.

The River Severn at Tewkesbury is expected to peak at 4.8m – a metre less than the 2007 peak – overnight or early Tuesday morning.

Mr Paterson said more than 900 properties had been flooded, including up to 500 in the South West alone. He said evacuations may increase given the forecast.

He said road and rail networks had also been affected, including particularly train lines in the South West.

The environment secretary offered his thanks to emergency service staff, local authorities, the Environment Agency and volunteers for their response to the floods.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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