Breaking News: Military helicopter crashes in Bayelsa

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Read Time:26 Second
A military helicopter has reportedly crashed near Yenegoa in Bayelsa State, Saturday evening.
 
Six important personalities including Governor Patrick Yakowa of Kaduna State, former national security advisers NSA, General Owoye Azazi were said to be in the naval aircraft at the time of the crash.
 
Others in the ill-fatted crash
 

Also a top politician in Kaduna Dudas Tsoho, Azazi’s orderly, and the pilot and his co-pilot were said to be on board the helicopter when it crashed.

 

 

About Post Author

Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

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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Nigeria: 5 siblings burnt to death after mother locked them up inside room

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Read Time:3 Minute, 24 Second

Five children between the ages of four and 12 were killed in an inferno in the Kirikiri area of Lagos State on Thursday.
We learnt that the five children, Emeka 12, Ifeanyi 10, Chinasa eight, Joy six, and Bright four, who are of the same parents, were burnt alive at their home located at 29 Comfort Oboh Street, Kirikiri. The parents of the victims were identified as Ogbonna and Margaret Igwuagwu.
Our correspondent learnt that although over 30 people live in the compound, which was completely consumed by the fire, only the five children died.

Sympathisers were said to have surrounded the premises crying and wailing over the incident, while charred remains of the victims were being evacuated. According to residents, the fire started at about 11.30 pm in the room where the five children were sleeping and later spread to other rooms all made of wood.
The parents of the children were said to have locked them inside the room and lit a candle for them as there was no electricity supply.
Neighbors said it was the usual habit of the parents to lock the children inside the room whenever they were going to their shop in the evening.
It was learnt that the children slept off while the candle fell, thereby spreading the fire to other parts of the room. Woken by the heat, they were said to have shouted for help while the fire raged, but neighbours were too busy saving themselves. Continue after the cut…

One of the neighbours said the eldest son, Emeka, had begged his parents not to lock them in but allow them to spend sometime outside but their mother refused.
“I can vividly remember when Mama Emeka ordered her children to go and sleep, saying that she needed to go back to attend to customers who were waiting for her. Emeka, the eldest, pleaded that they should be allowed to stay outside for a while.
“She insisted that they should go to bed since they were to travel the following day. I believe that it was in a bid to prevent them from running out of the house that she locked them inside and went away with the key,” she said.
Some neighbours told journalists that they heard the wailing of the children when the fire was raging, but could not break through to rescue them due to a hard burglar proof that was used at the entrance of the room.
According to residents who witnessed the incident,  firefighters were informed but could not get to the scene  due to bad roads in Kirirkiri.
A resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said, “The road is not passable and there is always traffic congestion in that area. Men of the Naval Fire Service got here first, but they could not help the situation because the damage had already been done.”
One of the tenants, Udoh Bassey, whose room was also burnt, told journalists that no one could say exactly what caused the fire.
“It started at about 11.30 pm when some of us were still awake. It was the cry from that room that attracted my attention. The entire compound was razed down before help could come our way. I was able to save a few of my property because my room was located far away from the source of the fire.
“The children died because their parents locked them inside the house and went back to their shops close by. We tried but before we could reach them, there was an explosion from one room to the other as all the other rooms were razed down.”
When contacted, spokesperson for the state police command, Ngozi Braide, said the parents of the victims had suffered shock and were rushed to hospital.

At about 11.20pm, police received a call that a house in Kirikiri was on fire. The house was made of wood and corrugated iron sheets and the fire engulfed it. Five children died in the fire,” she said.

About Post Author

Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

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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Video: President Jonathan at RCCG 2012 Holy Ghost Congress

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President Jonathan attended the Redeemed Christian Church of God, (RCCG) Holy Ghost Congress which took place yesterday at the Redemption Camp along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
 

Watch the video after the cut…

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About Post Author

Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

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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BREAKING NEWS: Enugu State Governor, Sullivan Chime dies in India.

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A heavy cloak of mourning falls on the nation once more today as news of Governor Sullivan Chime’s death filters in.

A reliable source who confirmed his death to codewit.com said he gave up the ghost an hour ago in India. (9pm Nigerian Time)

His Excellency, the late Governor Sullivan Chime had battled an undisclosed illness for months. When citizens began questioning his prolonged absence from Enugu, the official story was that he was on a long vacation accrued over a period of 5 years.

Meanwhile, the latest information reaching us was that The PUNCH’s Enugu State correspondent, Ozioma Ubabukoh, was harassed by seven men who claimed to be security agents in front of his apartment in Enugu around 11.45pm on Saturday after the news was first reported.

The men seized Ubabukoh’s phone and his laptop in order to stop him from sending stories to the head office.

As at press time, the men were still in Ubabukoh’s apartment and insisted that they were not leaving until 3am.

Efforts to get across to some commissioners in the state were not successful as their phones were switched off.

May his soul rest in peace.

More details shortly.

 

CONTENT DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author do not necessarily state or represent those of codewit.com. We are also not responsible for the content of comments posted or for anything arising out of use of the comments or other interaction among the users. Please be civil and courteous to others at all times and refrain from using profanity. Entries found to contain obscene or threatening language will be deleted.

About Post Author

Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

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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Overcoming Corruption in Ghana

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Read Time:24 Minute, 14 Second

Corruption, they say, is old as the hills. We should all be angels in heaven if the world were totally free of corruption. Threat to self interest or self preservation makes people stoop low and engage in auto-corruption. Where high morals meet with the reality of self preservation, the latter may take precedence. There are words or terminologies which are associated with bribery and corruption. Some of these include graft, sleaze money, money laundering, fraud, high-powered hot money, extortion, malfeasance, misapplication or malappropriation of funds, theft, grease money, golden handshake, among others. In Africa, where our traditional cultures run deep, giving gifts is normally acceptable.

When can we draw a fine line between a gift and a bribe? It depends on the context. Most corrupt practices in a country are fanned by political corruption, which emanates from the seat of power. In Ghana, our military leader from 1979 to 2000 tried to stamp out corruption but at long last, he failed because corruption is endemic, systemic and has a deep tap root, so cutting the stump does not get rid of it. Someone has written somewhere that corruption is also like diabetes which can be controlled but cannot be totally eliminated. In countries with high populations and fewer natural resources, corruption is naturally high. Think of countries like India, China, Nigeria, Bangladesh and Pakistan. China ranks 80th and Greece 94th in the world in terms of corruption perception ranking.

Fighting corruption is like using a water hose pipe to douse a petrol tanker which is on fire. Many writers have associated corruption with winding bureaucratic procedures in the civil service. Corruption may also be entrenched by our cultural values, whereby we place emphasis on material acquisitions and ostentatious lavishing of gifts on members of our immediate and extended families. In some societies in West Africa, it is what you have (wealth) that matters, and not what knowledge you have acquired or your moral values or status in society. Think of cultural festivals, paying of heavy dowries, and expensive funerals and weddings, and you have an idea where the celebrants get their money from for the spree binge of lavish spending.

People worship wealth and equate possession of vast material wealth with success. This is where we need to critically examine our social and cultural norms. Sages and people of sapience admonish us to look for enduring values in life, but this seems to fall on deaf ears as people want shortcuts in life and want to be rich without working hard, especially in this age of high consumerism, driven by the internet and spam. In some of our societies, corrupt and criminally-minded people who corruptly obtained filthy lucre, are adored and worshipped in public.

Today, 9th December 2012, marks the anniversary of World Anti-Corruption day. It is also the day Ghanaians are anxiously awaiting the results of polls cast on 7th and 8th December 2012. All the omens point to the fact that a new wind of change is about to sweep over the land. As they said in a song a while ago, ‘scent no ooh ooh, agye beebiara’. The stench of corruption can be smelt everywhere, what with the Woyomegate, STX-Koreagate, Isotofongate and all the judgement debts which the country has been yoked with!

However, Ghanaians hope and pray that if NPP’s Nana Akufo Addo ascends the high seat, he will eschew the ills of the past and the spendthrift syndrome, and that he will be his own man to rid Ghana of all those evil and corrupt elements. It will be indeed a herculean task for the new leader to clean the Aegean stables. Should the incumbent, John Mahama, win, then he will have a headache getting rid of the ‘evil dwarfs’ or ‘greedy bastards’ in his own NDC party. We are tired of corruption at the Castle, corruption at Tema Harbour, corruption in the ministries and immigration, and corruption at the motor vehicle licensing offices, corruption in the boarding schools and universities, corruption in the award of government contracts, and indeed, corruption at Korle Bu Teaching Hospital and all the health institutions in Ghana, corruption at the entry points of Ghana, and corruption at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where passports are issued to cocaine dealers and foreign nationals from Nigeria, Liberia and Togo.

A few days ago, I boarded a taxi in Lusaka and struck a conversation with the taxi driver. I learnt a valuable lesson from him on the issue of corruption. The driver told me that when he was a student, his teacher told him that corruption is like sex, because it takes two people to have sex, and since both parties mutually enjoy it, who is going to report it or work towards eradication of sexual intercourse? Hmmmm, some hard and practical lessons there for you! It reminded of me of twin prime numbers in mathematics which always occur with a difference of 2 i.e (3,5), (11, 13), (17, 19), (29, 31). I shall return to the twin primes in my modeling in my next series. It is said in the Great Book that the oldest profession in the world is prostitution. Seeking sexual pleasures could also be one of the root causes of corruption in Ghana.

Some men want to make money by hook or crook so as to splash on their numerous wives, concubines, paramours and sweethearts, especially with Christmas around the corner. Some men who cannot afford to please their spouses and hangers-on, may deliberately quarrel and sever relations with them, especially during this festive yuletide. In the Great Book, we also learn that the second oldest occupation is spying or intelligence business. These moles or undercover agents were sent out to go and study the lay of the foreign land and come back to report to their principal or leader. As corruption is endemic and rife in Ghana our new leader needs to beef up our CID, BNI and other undercover agents so that these sleuths can catch corruptors red handed and in the act, and hand them over to the law enforcement officers. CHRAJ (Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice), otherwise the equivalent of the Ombudsman or Administrator-General or Public Complaints Commission, can be the right outfit for the public to report malfeasance and maladministration to.

My nephew is a director there so I know what I am talking about. However, the outfit of CHRAJ seems to be poorly resourced and it is thin on the ground. However, after the spies have done their work and handed over the culprits to the police and the courts for prosecution, there could be problems whereby exhibits go missing, the police, lawyers, magistrates and judges work hands in cahoots to corrupt the system by denying justice (miscarriage of justice/travesty of justice/misprision of treason), and accepting hefty bribes to let the culprit off the hook. If the culprit gets sentenced and imprisoned, he may bribe the prison wardens and escape from the jaws of justice.

If imprisoned, he may not serve the full sentence and he may be let off the hook. In the recent past, cocaine exhibits impounded at KIA in Accra have turned into cassava flour in the law courts, just because some of the investigating wings and officers are corrupt. Of course, because of self interest threat and self gratification, corruption may be absent only in heaven. This does not mean that we in Ghana cannot excel and become like one of the leading relatively corrupt-free countries such as Finland, New Zealand, Singapore, Denmark and Japan. Some of our law enforcement officers become corrupt because they have low self esteem or they seek external or extrinsic motivation rather than enduring intrinsic motivation. These corrupt elements in our national fabric lack patriotism or altruism.

What we need to do is to improve their conditions of service and to give them adequate resources to fight corruption. The government should pay proper attention to the work and reports of the Auditor-General and Accountant- General, as these outfits audit both private and public institutions, and submit their reports to the parliament and the Executive. We need proper controls in the disbursement of public funds. There must be adequate reporting lines, checks and balances, due process, due diligence, integrity, probity, transparency and accountability. Our civil and public servants should be constantly educated and sensitised about the evils of bribery and corruption. In the 80s, I arrived in Ghana at night from my sojourn in Nigeria.

I met a Ghana Air Force officer at the Winneba Junction and he wanted to entice me into a deal of smuggling diamonds to Nigeria by using live parrots which are flown. I flatly refused. At another time, at Lome/Aflao Border, I met an elderly person who wanted to entice me into a gold smuggling business, which he said he couriered by inserting the nuggets in his body.

Well, I may not be a risk taker but then the civic lessons I took in school in the early 60s had had the better part of me, especially regarding the qualities and role of a good citizen. Someone has opined that the only man who is not corrupt is a dead man. Hmmm. Another hard lesson there for you. But then, it all depends upon your level of greed, your own value system, your sense of honour and propriety, your home background and level of education, your age, your tribe, your level of exposure, your financial circumstances, peer pressure, your life style and aspirations in life, your religion, among others.

To me, corruption is rife in Ghana because of the high level of unemployment and poverty, on the one hand, and on the other hand political corruption caused by lack of political will on the part of our national leaders to stamp out, root out and uproot the tap root and stump of corruption. Some politicians make friends with corrupt businessmen who sponsor them to power so that they can start engaging in logrolling, horse-trading and the spoils systems. This is where when politicians are voted into power, they circumvent laid down procedures for awarding contracts, or engage in single-sourcing contracts and breaching the tender protocols in government procurement.

They engage in over-invoicing and under-invoicing, off balance sheet accounting and creative accounting. We can only fight the cankerworm of corruption if w elect erect politicians. Lord Acton said that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. This is why we need greater separation of powers and duties in government and offices, and provide adequate safeguards against the overconcentration of powers in a few hands. This is why we need decentralisation and empowerment of local governments, this is why we need a free and responsible media, freedom of information bill, and a viable and a vociferous opposition party to provide adequate checks and balances.

I have suggested it before in this forum and I will repeat it that we must consider funding the political parties in Ghana so that we obviate the need for politicians to seek sponsorship from questionable businessmen and external powers who can mortgage and compromise our national sovereignty. The Melcome Store tragedy might not have occurred if there was no corruption by the landlord, who was linked to a political party. The cost of corruption in that sad incident was the unnecessary loss of life and injuries to many innocent people.

Corruption is therefore a great moral hazard and a gargantuan cog in the wheel of national progress and development. It has the capacity to paralyse a nation as it can compromise national security. Unpatriotic citizens may obtain bribes from saboteurs to cause electricity blackouts or power failure in the country, so that armed robbers may have a field day to unlease mayhem on the public.

This is why we need a very tough political leader in Ghana to put his foot down and stop the rot in public institutions. A no-nonsense leader who will deal ruthlessly and drastically with saboteurs and treasoners. Some people opine that corruption is as old as Adam or the hills. Well, some countries have managed to tame it and bring it down to appreciable levels. In Africa, we have the shining example of Botswana which scored 65% in the Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) for 2012.

Ghana, with Lesotho, scored 45% each and placed 64th in the world, out of 176 countries, surveyed by the World Economic Forum (WEF), Bertelsmann Foundation, World Bank and TI.. Somalia scored the least of 8%, while Angola scored 22%, DRC and Libya, 21% each, Eritrea and Guinea Bissau 25% each, Guinea 24%, Zambia 37%, Zimbabwe 20%, Burundi and Chad 19% each, and Sudan 13%. The high performers in Africa are Botswana 65%, Mauritius 57%, Rwanda 53%, Seychelles 52% and Namibia 48%. Outside Africa, the countries which scored the highest of 90% are New Zealand, Denmark and Finland.

The most corrupt countries in the world are also failed states, where the rule of law and human rights are in dire danger of emasculation and strangulation. There is hardly freedom of speech or media freedom in such countries. They exhibit tendencies of khakistocracy, anarchy, autocracy, oligarchy, mobocracy and totalitarianism. These countries lack pluralism, democracy and transparency. Some of the countries perceived to be very corrupt include Congo DR, Sudan, Iraq, India, Somalia, Afghanistan, Angola, Zimbabwe, North Korea, Nigeria, Greece and Pakistan.

I read somewhere that donor aid is stolen in countries such as Niger, Uganda and Zambia. This means that some donors may withdraw or suspend their aid if they perceive that aid does not get to targeted groups because of fungibility in the aid administration process. Prof Arthur Okun once observed that aid is like a leaking bucket. Of course, giving aid may sometimes be like the case of the biblical prodigal and profligate son, who was given a share of his father’s property but misspent it. As the Chinese proverb goes, it is better to teach one how to fish than to give him a fish all the time.

Granting of aid can create a lot of corruption on the part of both the donor and the recipient, due to the politics of aid, technical glitches and lack of capacity of absorption by aid recipients. These days, donors prefer channeling aid directly to the grassroots NGOs, instead of passing through the hierarchy at the central government level, where the elaborate bureaucracy and tiers of government facilitate theft and graft of aid funds. Donors are now suffering from donor fatigue, while aid recipients need to wean themselves from aid dependency syndrome.

My own personal experience in Ghana is that some of our police personnel are doing a very good job in their duties and they deserve our commendation, support and recognition. So also are some of our officers at our entry points, especially at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA). Compared to about 20 years ago, corruption at KIA has gone down drastically, which is a very welcome relief to travellers and tourists. The turnaround time at KIA has greatly reduced to the delight of travellers. Security at KIA has also improved. I once had a very nice experience with Aviance Security Agency at KIA. The airline I used on my flight to Ghana delayed me, and I was rushed into the plane at the last minute.

My hand luggage containing a substantial amount of money given me by friends as remittances to their relatives was in the hand luggage. One of the airline officials whisked the hand luggage from me, saying I would get it on arrival in Accra. I checked several occasions on arrival for the hand luggage. About the fourth time, I was directed to go to the Aviance office located inside the airport. I got my luggage and when I checked the contents, the money was intact, despite the bag not having a padlock.

What a great sigh of relief I heaved! I thanked the officers and praised them so much. A narrow escape indeed! I doff off my hat to Aviance Security Agency at KIA. Why do people become corrupt? Poverty, lack of integrity, lack of professionalism, greed and love of ostentatious living. Some people in Ghana want goods of snob appeal or conspicuous consumption. They do not live within their means because of inordinate materialism. I wish we would start reading novels like Ayi Kwei Armah’s The Beautiful Ones are not yet born or Fragments or other philosophers such as Plato, Descartes, Aristotle, Confucious, among others. Why do we have to be corrupt to be able to sustain our inordinate and unsustainable lifestyles? I think we need to take our religions seriously, whatever we believe in because even an atheist believes in something!

First, if you say you believe in nothing, at least you believe yourself that you believe in nothing, which means you believe in something. Since you are human and it will pain you to be robbed or denied natural rights flowing out of natural justice, then you would believe that certain things should not be done to you, or you should not do those things you dislike to others. So whether you are a rililist, atheist, Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Zoroastrian, Jain, Judaist or whatever, you believe in something.

In Ghana today, if a young and beautiful girl goes to look for a job, she may be lucky to be offered the job without being asked for sexual favours or ending up in bed with the potential male employer. At the boarding Secondary Schools, Universities and other tertiary institutions, some male lecturers are bartering sex for inflated grades to female students. This is part of the glass ceiling and gender harassment or Gender Based Violence (GBV) at places of work, which require strong condemnation and affirmative action. Our ladies have to be strong, resolute, assertive and principled to overcome such moral turpitude and corruption.

If you are a young male prospective job applicant, you may need to use your father’s old boy or political networks to get a job or be prepared to pay a hefty bribe before being offered the job. Note, the giver and receiver of bribe are all guilty of the law. It is said that if you cannot beat them, join them. Today, in some instances, if you want your daughter or son to get into a prestigious senior high school such as Achimota, Wesley Girls High School or Mfantsipim, be prepared in some cases to pay a bribe.

I think the government should make some scapegoats of some corrupt headmistresses and headmasters who indulge in this institutional and endemic corruption. I think corruption is intrusive and should be eschewed by all who are advantaged to be serving the nation in various capacities. Corruption corrupts the morals of our up and coming young adults, and it stifles meritocracy, and extols mediocrity. It sets backwards the clock of innovation, achievement, growth, recognition and self esteem.

We need, first and foremost, transparency in our national governance so that the shining example by our national leaders will trickle down to the grassroots. To fight corruption in Ghana, our media should be actively involved in disseminating the message and sensitising our people. We need to elect erect and elect people to positions of power. We should encourage our people to whistleblow or reveal corrupt elements in our midst. We need to beef up our anti-corruption institutions such as CHRAJ, Serious Crimes Office (SCO) and Bureau of National Investigations (BNI).

We will need resources, training and support from overseas outfits such as USAID, DFID, SNV, NORAD, FINNIDA, DANIDA, CIDA, SIDA, AfDB, ECA, WB, UNDP, EU, IrishAid, GTZ, among others. We will welcome job transfers, job rotation and other measures to shake up our institutions so that bad eggs are exposed. We need to set high performance targets for our employees to achieve certain quality assurance standards. Of special significance to eradicate corruption, will be much needed reforms in our Judiciary, Ministries, Internal Revenue Services (IRS), Customs and Immigration, and Motor Vehicle Licensing offices across the country.

The Passports Office should be closely monitored. There is a worrying situation at the motor vehicle licensing office in Accra, where clients cannot deal directly with officers because the officers have employed dubious Alhajis as go-betweens, who fleece clients of their money and they give them a run-around when obtaining licences. They have hatched a labyrinth and nest of procedures, which can finish all your money.

This was my experience in 2003. We need to copy the Singapore model whereby law enforcement and regulatory bodies are well remunerated and resourced so much so that they can hardly fall prey to corruption. You should try to go to our harbour at Tema to try to clear a car from the freight agents, or go to the cargo section at KIA, or go to Korle Bu Hospital for referral, or to obtain a passport from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, or go for a visa from some of our embassies abroad, and you will appreciate the tardiness and ugly face of corruption. All those who are not prepared to work, should be purged or sacked, like the Apollo 569 purge under Busia in 1970.

In the USA, the Enron and WorldCom scandals culminated in the enactment of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, to regulate public limited companies or listed companies, which are regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). In the UK, the equivalent is the Company Act of 2006 and the Combined Code which derived from several commissions of enquiry. Under the UK Corporate Governance Guidelines, listed companies or PLCs are properly regulated, though under a principles-based approach.

These ensure that public or listed companies are properly directed, controlled and supervised to maximize the public interest and protect shareholder value. We also have the OECD and EU Guidelines. We need the same stringent measures in Ghana to avoid corporate failure, especially in the banks where corrupt acts of top bank officials can lead to bankruptcy and insolvency. We need stringent measures of proper oversight and gatekeeping in our public and private institutions to nip corruption in the bud. These call for adequate internal controls to check fraud, malfeasance, theft and corruption. These days, some bank workers engage in electronic fraud by using the electronic devices to steal depositors’ money. They form cartels and syndicates, constituting vertical and horizontal corruption.

This is where we need to conduct due diligence or background status checks before recruiting people to work in sensitive institutions such as the banks. To fight corruption in Ghana, we need high profile public campaigns by our political leaders, who must come out strongly and boldly to condemn corruption. They must strengthen the laws on corrupt practices and encourage concerted efforts by all the arms of government to stamp it out. We will need to sensitise our people to be vigilant, through our media outlets, and conspicuous posters and billboards in all public places.

We must continuously seek to improve the conditions of service of our workers and provide more poverty interventions for the poor, such as transfer payments, youth employment funds and unemployment benefits. These could mitigate the tendency for corruption. The SSSS (Single Spine Salary Scale) has come and gone in Ghana and many workers are left dazed as the whole exercise seemed like a political gimmick to pull wool over the eyes of workers, or dangle a political carrot before them or throw dust in their eyes.

To me, it was just a flash in the pan, a nine days’ wonder or an exercise in futility. Workers, after the SSSS exercise, are left worse off than before, especially with inflation escalating near to 10%. There is no Pareto optimality. Workers need improved fringe benefits and other perks in order to motivate them to become less prone to corruption. Some of our leaders should refrain from facilitating crooks who smuggle cocaine outside so that they can gain financially from the booty if those nefarious and clandestine operations are successful. When these are caught, they do heavily dent our image abroad. The law should descend heavily on such corrupt practices, as high powered hot money distorts our economy.

Our state institutions, for the sake of transparency and accountability, should be tasked to publish their social charters to commit them to live up to high ideals. We should encourage them to publish annual social audits as well as annual league tables, showing their performance in service delivery to the public. We should encourage many of our workers to join professional bodies or associations so that they can be properly guided by professional ethics and high moral behaviour which befits their professions.

Professional bodies perform gatekeeping and oversight roles. We will need to task the doctors, accountants, auditors, lawyers, engineers, marketers and other professionals to take the issue of ethics seriously with their members. The civil and public servants should be weaned of their grinding bureaucracies, which create fertile grounds for corrupt practices. We have to intensify our in-service training programmes and our reforms. We should undertake change management in our public sector. Justice delayed is justice denied.

Also the law should not be a respecter of persons, as all people should be treated equally before it. Our lawyers, magistrates and judges in the bar and bench should avoid unnecessary delays in dispensing justice, as deliberate delays may lead to connivance, collusion and miscarriage of justice. Even though all cases should be judged beyond all reasonable doubt in open courts, we will need to speed up some prima facie cases of crime in fast track courts. Our court or judiciary procedures need to be reformed, streamlined and made simple, efficient, transparent and efficacious as the symbol of law is a blind woman with scales in one hand, and a sword in the other hand, meaning the law is blind to the use of undue influence or leverage.

The process of legal dispensation should be fair, balanced, unswayed and unswerved by status or halo effect. The law should act like a hot stove treatment. Recruitment into the civil and public services should be based on merit and not on the basis of tribe or political affiliation or on the basis of network.

Our tender and procurement procedures should be made transparent and competitive, so that only competent contractors are engaged to work on government contracts. We should not condone a situation where a contract is awarded to a contractor who does shoddy work and endangers the lives of our citizens, as we witnessed in the tragic Melcome Store disaster on Wednesday, 7th November 2012. Also, corruption occurs where we need to raise money to look after our extended family. Why do we not have to cut our coat according to our cloth? Promotion and remuneration at work should be based on productivity improvement agreements, profitability, loyalty, contribution, results and qualifications.

Those MNCs or Transnational Corporations (TNCs) which engage in transfer pricing and off balance sheet accounting, should be blacklisted when caught, because by their illicit acts, they rob the nation of tax revenue, which is needed for development. We should institute annual integrity awards to be given to our companies and institutions which excel, so that they strive to stay straight. If we minimise corruption in Ghana, we stand to gain as a nation by attracting more donor aid, more tourists and more Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

Our corruption perception to the outside world matters a lot, in that, if we are perceived to be less corrupt, we will be seen as a worthy country to do business with, and we shall be in the good books of our trading partners and financiers. Corruption widens the income gap between the rich and poor, it reduces the effectiveness and efficacy of government institutions, and it entrenches poverty. It also demotivates workers who are hardworking but not corrupt.

Finally, our political leaders should be made to declare their assets before they take public office. Our political leaders should stridently declare their zero tolerance for corruption. We should ponder also over Gender Based Corruption (GBC), as more men are prone to corruption than women, so we should try to appoint more women to control sensitive positions in government and business.

As a nation and as individuals, we should consider our reputation risks as our international image is at stake. Readers should refer to my earlier article on corruption published on Ghanaweb on 20th July, 2011, entitled, The Genesis and Effects of Corruption in Ghana. Our heads of state in Africa should submit themselves periodically to the African Peer Review Commission (APRC) for performance appraisal. They should also give good stewardship of their tenure so that when they leave office, they may be considered for the Mo Ibrahim Award or the Nobel Peace Prize. Madiba Mandela has already shown the way.

About Post Author

Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

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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IPhone 5 hits China as Apple shares slide further

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Read Time:3 Minute, 4 Second

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – The highly anticipated release of the iPhone 5 in China, Apple Inc’s second-biggest market, failed to stop the recent share slide of the world’s most valuable technology company on Friday, and analysts said Apple’s longer-term China hopes may hinge on a partnership with the country’s top telecoms carrier.

Apple’s latest iPhone, sporting a larger 4-inch screen and 4G capability, was launched in the United States and 30 other countries in September, when the company sold more than 5 million of the devices in the first three days.

Apple’s shares, however – once among the most desirable of portfolio holdings – have headed steadily lower since September on growing uncertainty about the company’s ability to fend off unprecedented competition. This year saw a surge in sales of Amazon.com Inc’s cheaper Kindle Fire and Microsoft Corp’s first foray into the tablet market with its Surface.

Unlike the crowds that the iPhone 5 debut drew in many cities around the world since September, just one person was waiting at the Apple store in Shanghai’s financial district when its doors opened at 9 a.m. on Friday.

“Some of our Chinese sources do not expect the iPhone 5 to do as well as the iPhone 4S,” UBS analyst Steven Milunovich wrote in a note to clients.

China is Apple’s fastest-growing market, bringing in about 15 percent of total revenue.

“In absolute terms, this (iPhone 5) launch will certainly result in strong sales for Apple in China. However, in relative terms, I don’t believe it will move the needle enough in market share,” said Shiv Putcha, a Mumbai-based analyst at Ovum, a global technology consultant.

Apple shares were down 3.6 percent at $510.55 on the Nasdaq on Friday afternoon. The stock has lost a quarter of its value since hitting a high of $705.07 on September 21, as it faces increasing competition from phones using Google Inc’s Android operating system.

CUTTING FORECASTS

In addition, analysts cut their forecasts for shipments of the iPhone.

Jefferies analyst Peter Misek trimmed his iPhone shipment estimates for the January-March quarter, saying that the technology company had started cutting orders to suppliers to balance excess inventory.

Misek cut his first-quarter iPhone sales estimate to 48 million from 52 million and gross margin expectations for the company by 2 percentage points to 40 percent.

UBS Investment Research cut its price target on Apple stock to $700 from $780 on lower expected iPhone and iPad shipments for the March quarter.

The brokerage said it was modeling more conservative growth for Apple after making supply chain checks that revealed that fewer iPhones were being built.

The iPhone is currently sold through Apple’s seven stores, resellers and through China Unicom and China Telecom – which together have fewer than half the mobile subscribers of bigger rival China Mobile.

“Apple’s market share declined because of the transition between the iPhone 4S and 5. Their market share will recover (with the iPhone 5), but if you don’t have China Mobile, the significant market share gains will be very difficult,” said Huang Leping, an analyst at Nomura in Hong Kong.

Apple has been in talks about a tie-up with China Mobile for four years.

A deal with China’s biggest carrier is seen as crucial to improve Apple’s distribution in a market of 290 million users – which is forecast to double this year. But the company’s failure to strike a deal with China Mobile means it is missing out on a large number of phone users.

As the China pie grows, Apple’s sales increase, but without China Mobile, it is losing ground at a faster rate compared with other brands.

About Post Author

Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

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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China lets foreign sovereigns, central banks exceed $1 billion investment limit

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Read Time:1 Minute, 59 Second

(Reuters) – China’s foreign exchange regulator has removed the $1 billion limit for foreign sovereign wealth funds, central banks and monetary authorities buying Chinese assets through the Qualified Institutional Investor Programme (QFII).

The new regulations, published on the website of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE), did not specify a new top limit, merely that the funds can apply to invest over $1 billion.

The policy is aimed at sovereign wealth funds like Qatar Holdings and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, both of which have already been approved to invest up to $1 billion each through QFII.

SAFE will retain the right to approve or deny individual applications on a case-by-base basis.

Chinese regulators have said in the past that facilitating increased foreign investment in Chinese assets will help restore confidence in China’s stock markets, which have declined by over 60 percent since November 2007.

But the total amount of foreign money allowed to enter the domestic stock market remains small, and the new rules do not increase it.

Combined foreign investment in China’s stock market accounts for only 1 percent of total market capitalization.

The overall net quota for the QFII programme remains at its current $80 billion, of which SAFE has only allocated $36 billion for use by QFII funds as of November 30.

Foreign appetite for Chinese equities has shown some signs of increase in recent months, especially in Hong Kong, but the weak performance of stock-focused QFII funds – and complaints about high fee structures – has dampened appetite. (GRAPHIC: Comparison of QFII fund performances in China link.reuters.com/xun34t)

To drum up additional interest, Chinese regulators, including officials from the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges, went on an overseas tour in September to advocate for Chinese equities and QFII in particular.

The new regulations also relax restrictions on the ability of funds to remit principal and income from investments, but made no further clarifications as to how China will tax QFII profits, an area of enduring uncertainty for QFII investors.

Chinese stock markets on Friday had their biggest single-day jump since 2009, which some analysts attributed to expectations of further relaxation of rules on foreign investment in stocks.

Others, however, offered alternative explanations for the unusual jump, such as behind-the-scenes share buybacks by state-owned entities trying to engineer a rebound for the end of the year.

About Post Author

Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

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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Saving Tanzania’s Poorest Children

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Read Time:4 Minute, 33 Second

Anuary Saidi, who suffers from viral diarrhoea, with his mother Mariam. Credit: Kristin Palitza/IPS

DAR ES SALAAM, Dec 13 2012 (IPS) – Half asleep, Anuary lies exhausted on his bed in Amana Hospital in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s capital. His mother, Mariam Saidi, sits on the edge of his mattress, staring blankly out of the window. Every now and then, she turns to wipe her 18-month-old son’s forehead.

When she brought Anuary to the hospital the day before, he had a high fever, was suffering from viral diarrhoea, was severely dehydrated and had lost consciousness by the time he was admitted. The doctors saved his life, but he faces a slow discovery.

“Viral diarrhoea and respiratory infections are very common in children here,” hospital director Dr. Meshack Schimwela tells IPS. “Both illnesses are leading causes of death of children under the age of five in Tanzania.”

Anuary’s hospitalisation puts Saidi, a single mother who works as a hairdresser in the slum of Buguruni on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam, under severe economic strain. Each day that she spends next to her son’s bed is a day that she does not earn any money.

Already, she struggles to make ends meet with her meagre salary of four dollars a day, which, she says, affords her only one meal a day. “God knows how we will cope,” the 21-year-old tells IPS. “It’s very difficult.”

Anuary’s illness could have been easily prevented had he been immunised against the Rotavirus, which causes severe diarrhoea, commonly known as “stomach flu”. But the vaccine is currently not available through the public health system in this East African nation.

The situation is similar in many other countries on the continent. About 20 percent of Africa’s children – or every fifth child – are not immunised, according to the international children’s charity Save the Children.

“It’s always the poorest children who don’t get access to vaccination services,” says Kirsten Mathieson, health policy and research officer at Save the Children. “Much more needs to be done to reach the ‘fifth child’.”

In Tanzania, at least, this may soon change. Through co-financing from the GAVI Alliance – a global public-private partnership for vaccines and immunisation that negotiates lower vaccine prices for the world’s poorest countries – the government will be able to integrate Rotavirus as well as pneumococcal vaccines into its routine public immunisation programme from January 2013.

“Children in developing countries have an 18 percent higher chance of dying before their fifth birthday (than those living in developed countries). Vaccination could make a big difference,” GAVI deputy chief executive officer Helen Evans tells IPS.

Dr. Mtagi Kibatala, acting chief paediatrician at Amana Hospital, agrees: “A lot of the children in our paediatric wards would not be here had they access to Rotavirus and pneumococcal vaccines.”

Vaccinating all of the children in this country of over 885,000 square kilometres, almost four times the size of the United Kingdom, will take time. Reaching nomadic families and those living in remote rural areas or on small islands will be especially tough, Kibatala tells IPS. She expects it will take “at least a year” to see an improvement in child health and a decrease in mortality rates.

Another hurdle is Tanzania’s severe health worker shortage. About 40 percent of positions in the country’s public health facilities are vacant, according to the Ministry of Health. Without sufficient personnel, it will be difficult to provide health care to every child, Schimwela says.

The impact vaccines can have on children’s health “is very clear”, explains Schimwela. Tanzania has seen a steady decline in child mortality since it started offering vaccines through its public health system that protect against polio, tetanus, tuberculosis and diphtheria.

As a result, mortality of children under the age of five decreased from 155 per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 76 per 1,000 live births in 2010, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund.

Although the introduction of the Rotavirus vaccine will come too late for Anuary – children have to be younger than 15 weeks for it to be effective – thousands of Tanzania’s children will not only be able to lead healthier, but also happier, lives.

One of those children will be six-week-old Rosemary Julius.

Her mother, Janet Julius, patiently sits on a blue plastic chair in front of the Buguruni health clinic, fanning herself against the stifling December heat, Rosemary snug on her lap.

Rosemary is one of seven infants who were chosen by the clinic staff to receive dual Rotavirus and pneumococcal immunisation. Although the vaccines will officially only be available from next month, the health department decided to immunise a small group of babies in celebration of the launch of the new vaccines.

Julius, a 22-year-old housewife who was told about this opportunity during a post-natal check-up, says she is extremely happy that Rosemary will now be protected against pneumonia and viral diarrhoea. She tells IPS: “I have seen babies get very sick and die. The vaccine will help my child to grow up well.”

About Post Author

Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

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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Lynas chief confident rare earth project will overcome obstacles

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Read Time:3 Minute, 11 Second

MELBOURNE, Dec 15 — Lynas chief Nick Curtis is confident the Kuantan rare earth plant will overcome obstacles it now faces, saying his “stubborn nature had kept him focused as the hurdles keep rising”. 

In an interview with finance journalist Sarah-Jane Tasker of The Australian newspaper, Curtis said: “There is only one way forward and that’s forward.”

Curtis (picture), the Lynas executive chairman, said he first set his sights on building a processing plant in China to receive rare earth material from the company’s Mount Weld mine in Western Australia, but a move by the country to enforce quotas on exporting the product led him to search for a new site. 

Abu Dhabi and Malaysia made it to the shortlist in the 2006 search and it was Kuantan that Curtis believed to be the best location. 

“They (Malaysia) have a stable government and clear regulatory environment. We perceived there was less political risk in Malaysia than other places.

“We talked to the government and regulators and they welcomed us with open arms to the point where we got a 12-year tax holiday,” Curtis said.

While the attention on Lynas over the past 18 months has focused on the vocal opposition to the processing plant in Gebeng, it hasn’t been the only battle the company has had to fight, since he took over the reins 12 years ago. 

The company almost went under after the global financial crisis and the Chinese swooped in with a lifeline in 2009 that would have seen China Nonferrous Metals take control of Lynas. 

But Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board stopped that and Lynas had to turn to the market to raise about A$285 million (RM960 million) for its project. 

Curtis said when he decided on Kuantan, he did not foresee the series of problems, especially from a noisy opposition and environmentalists, but is confident Lynas can address the concerns of Malaysians. 

He said the Malaysian community’s fears about radiation from rare earths went back to 1992 and a Mitsubishi project called Asian Rare Earth in Bukit Merah, Perak. 

He told the newspaper the material from Lynas is completely different to what was processed at the Mitsubishi plant, which had used waste from tin mining as its raw material. 

That material contained high levels of thorium, a source of high levels of radiation, which ultimately led to that plant’s closure. 

“There is a mythology about rare earths as being damaging because of that Bukit Merah plant. Today, the regulations in Malaysia and anywhere in the world would not allow that plant to be built,” he said.  

He said he was also aware of the fallout from the Mitsubishi project but regulations were tightened in Malaysia following the controversy in the early 1990s, and an Atomic Energy Licensing Board was created. 

Lynas went through the regulatory process and its plant was permitted. 

Although there was what Curtis described as “noise” in 2007-2008 when the company was going through the approvals process, it subsequently quietened. But then, Japan’s tsunami last year caused the nuclear disaster at Fukushima, and “the noise reignited”. 

“When Fukushima happened, the opposition in Kuantan, seeking political advantage, took out the Bukit Merah story, revived it and said this is what rare earths can do, and created intense fear in the community. 

“That took off like wildfire, particularly through the social media, which is hard to contain,” Curtis said. 

He said the company has since gone above and beyond to ensure the local population was well informed of the project and that it was safe. — Bernama

About Post Author

Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

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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Tanzania’s Mtabila Camp Finally Closed

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Read Time:5 Minute, 33 Second

For the international community and the government of Tanzania, closing Mtabila Camp and emptying it of refugees might make it look like the problem has been solved, but in reality it has only displaced or dispersed it to Burundi and elsewhere in the region

The residents of Tanzania’s Mtabila refugee camp are currently being returned to Burundi against their will. This population, most of whom fled to Tanzania in the 1990s, has been facing increasing pressure to return to Burundi for several years in something of a battle of the wills: on the one side has been the government of Tanzania which has been increasingly withdrawing services, banning planting of crops and offering incentives to leave the camp, and on the other has been a group of refugees who have dug their heels in and refused to move.[1]

REFUGEE CESSATION

Yet it has been a battle of unequals with most of the power on one side. And finally those with power – and, they would argue, the law – on their side, have won through the invocation of refugee cessation. Cessation is one of the mechanisms in refugee law through which refugee status can be withdrawn in certain circumstances. In August 2012, after an individual status review that examined whether or not there were continuing valid claims to protection, cessation was applied to the majority of the group in Mtabila: the government of Tanzania, with the support of UNHCR, finally had the legal, if not moral, approval to return the refugees.

Consequently, on 31 October 2012 this group of Burundians finally ran out of options. With the assistance of the Tanzanian army, they started being loaded onto trucks and taken to ‘receiving centres’ in southern Burundi. Phone conversations the next day with those still in Mtabila suggested that there was confusion and a degree of coercion on the first day, with allegations of violence. These allegations were supported by a conversation that one of the authors had in person in Burundi with a returnee on the night of the night of the 31st, with a woman who had a swollen leg. She said she had been beaten by army elements as they forced her into the truck without any of her personal belongings. She only had the clothes she was standing up in.

By the second day, the refugees had apparently been cowed into submission – no doubt for the pragmatic reason that not resisting allowed them to collect the few belongings allowed within the UNHCR transportation allocation – and further violence was avoided. Since then, 16,500 have apparently left the camp and are now back in Burundi. Some have reportedly fled elsewhere in the region.

BURUNDI WELCOMES REFUGEES

On the Burundi side, a real effort has been made to receive the returnees appropriately. According to eyewitness accounts, returnees in this forced process were subjected to the regular procedures that are applied to any voluntary returnee, and were quickly moved to communal centres. Staff in the reception centres worked hard to process people, staying up until one or two in the morning to do so. In addition, Burundi’s Minister of Home Affairs and the Minister of National Solidarity, Human Rights and Gender came and offered words of welcome and comfort to those who had returned. However, as more refugees return and increasing pressure is put on services that were already stretched, there is considerable concern that they may reach a breaking point and the long-term viability of the process may be undermined.

YET DANGERS IN RETURNING HOME

Of course, closing the camp allows UNHCR and the international community to draw a tidy line underneath the humanitarian operation and move elsewhere. But returning ‘home’ for these refugees is not as easy as it sounds. Some feel that it is dangerous for them because they are identified with the wrong political group, and Burundi of late has been accused of showing intolerance towards those who do not share the ruling party’s political views. While these claims should, in theory, have been considered in the cessation screening process and anyone with a genuine fear given permission to stay, the procedural problems with the process including a lack of clarity about its purpose and lack of assistance to refugees in making their cases (outlined in a previous IRRI briefing paper) [2] have raised fears that not all in this category might have been identified.

For others, it means having little, if any, access to livelihoods in a country that is almost exclusively dependent on subsistence farming and yet is chronically short of land. As refugees in the camp are all too well aware, many of those who have returned to Burundi in the past few years still have no access to their land and have been forced to live in ‘Peace Villages’ which, as previous research has shown, are deeply unpopular. (See, for example, the report “Two people can’t wear the same pair of shoes”). It means relocating their family into a situation that may be economically precarious, with no guarantee that their children will be able to eat let alone go to school.

CHOICE ABSENT FOR REFUGEES

At the end of the day, therefore, no amount of legal or humanitarian language can mask the fact that these refugees did not want to repatriate and had expressed this vehemently for many years. Choice has been completely absent for this group of refugees and it remains to be seen how they will fair in Burundi, and whether or not they will be forced to flee again.

For the international community and the government of Tanzania, closing Mtabila camp and emptying it of refugees might make it look like the problem has been solved, but in reality it has only displaced or dispersed it to Burundi and elsewhere in the region. In many ways the assumptions surrounding the tidy categories of refugee humanitarian response continue to fail refugees. For as long as policy makers continue to see physically ‘returning home’ across the border as the lens for understanding the optimal end to exile – and, therefore, to push for it regardless of the cost – the problems that create displacement are not going to go away.

ENDNOTES:

1. See, the International Refugee Rights Initiative and the Rema Ministries, Resisting Repatriation: Burundian Refugees Struggling to Stay in Tanzania, September 2011, and the Centre for the Study of Forced Migration and the International Refugee Rights Initiative, ‘I Don’t Know Where to Go: Burundian Refugees in Tanzania under Pressure to Leave,’ September 2009.

2. International Refugee Rights Initiative and Rema Ministries, ‘An urgent briefing on the situation of Burundian refugees in Mtabila camp in Tanzania,’ 10 August 2012.

About Post Author

Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

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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