Sex, Nollywood and Nigerian hypocrisy

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Read Time:7 Minute, 52 Second

If you’re one of Nollywood’s millions of fans around the world, you can’t fail to have read one of the sensational headlines in the blogosphere and Nigerian media earlier this year: “Nollywood now producing blue films”, “From Nollywood to Pornllywood”

There were many more: “Nollywood has gone haywire”, “Pornography takes over Nollywood”, etc. What’s going on, you might have wondered? I happened to be chatting with friend and blogger Sugabelly, when one of us mentioned Room 027, so we decided to watch the trailer.

‘Filthy sexual content’
Room 027 is one of the so-called pornographic movies that Nollywood had apparently started releasing. The first thing that struck us was what appeared to be a rape scene. We found this disturbing, as we did the ever-present male gaze: the way the camera lingered over the body of the attractive female actor but not on that of the male actors. The trailer did nothing to pique our interest further, and I promptly forgot about the movie and the entire topic of sexually-explicit Nollywood movies until I came across a trailer for yet another “controversial” movie. And then another. Altogether, I stumbled upon five Nollywood movies that supposedly contained pornographic scenes before deciding to look further into the matter. What I find interesting about these movies is the moral panic around them, the “uncalled for” and “unAfrican” “filthy sexual content” that apparently has no place in Nollywood. Supposedly, the introduction and presence of sexually explicit scenes should now be added to the already long list of problems plaguing Nollywood, such as subpar acting, soundtracks that reveal the entire story, badly titled movies and poor directing.

Is this really porn?
The list of home-grown sexually-explicit movies is surprisingly long for a country suddenly taken aback by sex. There’s Destructive Instinct 3 & 4 by US based Nigerian actress Judith Opara Mazagwu, aka AfroCandy, and Bold 5 Babes, an erotic comedy about women who turn men into BlackBerry phones by having sex with them. Opening with an explicit sex scene between two men was enough to get the film Pregnant Hawkers labelled a “gay porn movie”. There’s The Benjamins, rumoured to have been directed by a teenager, which follows the lives of university students into hip-hop and sex, and of which one commentator concluded “shows too much flesh for the Nigerian context”. The list continues: Bedroom Assassin, Sinful Act 1 & 2, Taboo!, Lesbian, etc. Somebody’s buying this stuff, cos say what you want about Nollywood, it’s not an industry to experiment with content it thinks it might have a hard time selling.

These movies clearly do contain sex scenes, but sex scenes explicit enough to be labelled pornographic? Nigerians have a tendency to exaggerate – it’s not unusual for scene involving a half naked man kissing a woman in lingerie to be labelled a sex scene – but we don’t label Hollywood films with similar amounts of sex pornographic, so why are viewers judging Nollywood films, and actors, by a different standard? One possible answer is that Nollywood has long been seen as a means through which African cultures and mores are celebrated, thus, in the opinion of the morally panicked, sexually explicit scenes are demeaning because they show how the lack of moral values in the West is penetrating the African consciousness.

Some Nollywood fans have noticed this double standard, and the tendency to exaggerate; as one, commenting on this page, asks: “When will Nigeria start [making] blue films [pornography] and stop this nonsense they call sex? Are they shy or what?”. Another writes: “when you think of doing something that has sex, let it convince the viewers not make them furious over nothing”. But these lone voices are drowned out by the much louder voices of people scandalized by nudity and some relatively tame sex scenes. Male actors, producers, but especially female actors involved in such films are routinely called out and shamed, though some of them don’t take the criticism lying down.

A nation of hypocrites?
Collins Onwochei, one of the actors in Room 027, insists he isn’t making porn, and calls Nigerians hypocrites who don’t raise an eyebrow when watching sex scenes in TV shows like Spartacus. Nollywood bad girl Tonto Dike voiced a similar opinion when fans started hyperventilating over her own “porn” movie, labelling her critics “pretenders”. “Why would we enjoy seeing nudity in Hollywood? It’s a fucking profession peeps, grow up. I am all out with my job and fuck you hard if you find otherwise. Rubbish fucking pretenders…”, she said. Benson Okonkwo, who appeared in the “gay porn” movie Pregnant Hawkers, is also quoted as saying “…it’s only a movie and make-believe…We watch movies like that in Hollwyood. Nigerians are hypocrites.”

The release of a trailer for Destructive Instinct 3 & 4 a couple of months ago got everyone in a tizz again and made the female lead AfroCandy notoriously popular with bloggers and online versions of Nigerian newspapers eager to interview her.

Like Collins Onochei and Tonto Dike, AfroCandy calls out the hypocrisy in the reactions of Nigerian netizens, reminding her critics that Nigerians enjoy watching Big Brother Africa, in which housemates have been known to have sex. She also points out the sexism in the reactions. I must say, judging by the trailers only, her work seems to do a better job of portraying consensual sex.

Schizophrenic
Unless they’re being disingenuous, none of the professionals think what they’re producing is pornographic, but Nigeria’s moral police disagree. Read the comments below articles about these so-called porn movies and if you’re anything like me you will find yourself rolling your eyes in disbelief at the amount of puritanism on display. The furore over sex in Nollywood is partly a reflection of our schizophrenic attitude to sex, one attitude behind closed doors, one when things are out in the open. We are like the conservatives in America, who are the largest consumers of porn but also the loudest voices railing against sex in cinema, and against almost anything to do with sex in general. We know, for instance, that Nigerians rank in the world’s top 5 in Google searches for gay porn, yet we’re among the most vocal in spouting anti-gay sentiments.

Instead of our over the top reactions and hypocrisy, we could be using the issue of sex in cinema to criticise Nollywood’s role in normalising rape culture in Nigeria, or discussing the extremely exploitative ways in which gay people are portrayed in some of these movies. But we would rather claim the moral high ground and pretend that despite being a highly religious country, sex pervades every single aspect of Nigerian society. Thus we are lectured to about the evils of pornography and made to believe that using sex toys means you’re having sex with demonic spouses, while Nigerians frequent strip clubs and support a thriving sex economy. There is a market for porn in Nigeria that has nothing to do with Nollywood. This double consciousness is perfectly illustrated in the fact that AfroCandy saw fit to thank God for the success of her movie, scandalising a few more people in the process.

The Ghanaian connection
It is hard to read about the so-called growth of sexually obscene films in Nollywood without coming across mentions of Ghana. “We [are] extremely shocked at Nigeria’s sudden affiliation to the whole soft porn syndrome. Most Nigerians were insolent to the emerging Ghanaian soft porn movies. Little did we know they were going to take it to the next level” wrote one blogger. Another goes “I wonder what it is with Ghanaians and pornography, maybe it is the only way they can put their movies on the map”. Yet another notes “We have been complaining in Ghana about how some of our movie producers enjoy putting a lot of unnecessary sex scenes in movies, but unfortunately the trend has now been shifted to Nigeria”. Oh, so it’s our Ghanaian brothers who have led us chaste and innocent Nigerians astray? Hmm, I beg to differ. The fact that we eagerly consumed Ghanaian films like Wapipi Jay (which you shouldn’t search for if you reading this at work) shows we’ve long had an appetite for sexually explicit movies. But we like to have our cake and eat it too, watch the films and be titillated so we can speculate about whether the sex was real, and then claim to be scandalized.

With Nollywood expanding and an increasing number of actors willing to show some skin, I expect we’ll be seeing many more films pushing against our conservative threshold, and until such movies really do cross the line, I think we should all just calm down and stop pretending to be such innocent, morally upright pillars.

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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APC Desperately Wants AIT Punished

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Read Time:1 Minute, 41 Second

The presidential campaign organisation of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has asked the Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to investigate Africa Independent ‎Television (AIT) for broadcasting a fake documentary against its presidential candidate, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari.According to ThisDay, the campaign organisation also wrote to the Director General of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) demanding an apology to APC and its presidential candidate.

The two letters were written by Mr Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume, the Director of Legal of the APC presidential campaign organisation, the SAN,‎ is also the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Imo State.“I therefore demand your good office to immediately investigate the said hate broadcast with a view to taking appropriate punitive steps against AIT and its comrades in this unholy act, ” the letter stated.APC also asked the DG, NTA, to disclose the real sponsors of the hate documentary and to also meet with APC’s National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, with a view to packaging a remedial broadcast.“Failure on your side to comply immediately with the above demands would certainly force us to take drastic court action against you,” the letter to the DG NTA read.

It also said NTA was encouraged into carefully and intentionally turning its respected television station into a ready tool for hate groups that do not wish Nigeria well.The letter to NBC’s DG calling for AIT’s probe and dated January 26th, 2015 reads:“‎I bring to your attention the fabricated and hate broadcast by AIT against APC and its presidential candidate.“This hate broadcast has been ‎on from Saturday, 24th January 2015 to Sunday 25th January 2015 at at 11pm.“All well meaning Nigerians and persons all over the world are worried that Daar Communication Plc could do this evil to Nigerians’ sensibilities by broadcasting fixed and fabricated lies for hate purposes.“The twisting of facts on the broadcast is unprecedented.”

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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9 Presidential Candidates to Step Down For Jonathan -NUG

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Read Time:1 Minute, 19 Second

The National Unity Group (NUG), an NGO said on Saturday that nine presidential candidates in the February 14 presidential election may step down for President Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).The National Secretary of the group, Dr Cairo Ojougboh, told newsmen in Abuja that it had been meeting with the parties on the need for them to support Jonathan.According to Ojougboh who did not mention the candidates and their parties, though consultations would continue on February 1, the discussions so far had been fruitful.

He said that the PDP presidential campaign was satisfactorily progressing in the northern part of the country. He urged the citizenry not to feel intimidated but to perform their civic responsibility of voting on election days.

”We are counting on all Nigerians, northerners especially, that they should not be intimidated, they should go out and vote massively for Mr President. For this country to remain united and for the progress we are experiencing now to continue, there is the need for all to cooperate with Mr President and vote massively for the PDP,’’ he said.
Sen. Chris Ukpabi, who also spoke said the group, having critically examined President Jonathan`s score cards in all sectors of the economy, was convinced that he was the right president for the country.
He called on all Nigerians to support his re-election bid to enable him continue with his good works.
Also present at the briefing were Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, a former governor of old Anambra, Sen. Oserheimen Osunbor, former governor of Edo, among others.

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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I’m not married –Nkiru Sylvanus

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Read Time:36 Second

The Nollywood divas that have not escaped the controversy hammer in their career.It came as a surprise and shock to many when the news broke late last year that the light-skinned actress was allegedly getting married to Oge Okoye’s former husband.

But in a blackberry messenger chat with Saturday Beats recently, the actress chose to be evasive concerning the news but said, “I am not married.

”When reminded that the news in town was that she was getting married, the actress said, “Every single woman is about to get married.”When asked if she was getting married to Oge Okoye’s ex, Nkiru said, “Call Oge and ask her.”

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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Photos: Another Popular Actor James Uche Down With Kidney Problem,Deserted By Wife

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Read Time:5 Minute, 3 Second

Unknown to many movie fans and fellow Nollywood practitioners, a former Vice President of the Actors Guild of Nigeria and seasoned actor, Prince James Uche, is still struggling to survive a strange illness that has kept him off the screen for eight years ago.To make matters worse, Uche’s landlord has just served him a notice, ordering him to quit his residence at 45, Yetunde Brown Street, Gbagada, Lagos.

The ailing actor, who now spends most of his time in the premises of a Catholic church near his residence, in an interview with our correspondent on Thursday, recounted how he found himself in his present condition.

He said, “All I can remember is that something struck me on the left side of my face about eight years ago, when I was heading for the burial ceremony of Pete Edochie’s mother at Nteje in Anambra State. I had no idea what hit me in the face, but it happened when I arrived at the junction leading to the town.

“I got to the venue of the ceremony and stayed in the town for two days. On the third day, I suddenly found that I could no longer move my body freely. Although I barely managed to get up on my feet, I could not climb up the staircase.

“I had to wait till the following Sunday before deciding to leave for Lagos. But my friend, Edoche, persuaded me to follow him to Enugu where he lived at the time. I slept in Enugu on that day. In the morning I went for treatment in a hospital.

“After the doctor had finished examining me, he stared at me with his mouth half open in shock for a long time. When I asked what was wrong, he said I should have been dead. He took my pulse again and then, sweating, said my blood pressure was abnormally high. He said it had risen up to 300 and it was a miracle that I was still alive.”

The doctor also told the actor that, judging by his blood pressure, he should have been dead or paralysed. That was how Uche initially discovered that he had a heart problem.

Although the doctor in the Enugu hospital prescribed a certain drug for his illness and instructed to take it for the rest of his life, Uche had thought it was nothing to worry about and he hoped to recover quickly.

Unfortunately, eight years after, the actor, whose career has been seriously affected by the ailment, is still battling for his life. Apart from spending all his life savings on hospital bills and drugs, the illness has cost him his marriage. It was gathered that at a point, Uche’s wife was forced to leave their matrimonial home because she could no longer cope with the burden of taking care of him and their three children.

Uche’s case has progressively declined over the past years. Apart from suffering an undefined heart disease, he is gradually losing his memory and sight (he could barely glimpse our correspondent).

Also, to compound the actor’s problem, his kidneys no longer function properly. With financial assistance from members of his church – Our Lady the Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Gbagada, Lagos – he was able to undergo five dialyses in 2013. Yet, it is feared that the kidneys may pack up due to inadequate medical attention.

Apart from looking quite emaciated, Uche’s speech is slurred and most of the time, incoherent. Some members of the Society of St. Vincent of Paul in his church were moved by his plight to care for him three years after his wife left with their three sons.

A female member of the Society said that other relatives of the ailing actor had virtually abandoned him to his fate.

She said, “James Uche’s family has not helped his situation at all. Maybe, if they had been around him, his health would not have deteriorated this bad. When his wife took the children and left, he was all alone in their residence. Nobody visited him. None of his relations, colleagues or friends visited him or volunteered to give him his drugs until members of the Society of St. Vincent the Paul decided to care for him.”

Describing his present condition, she confirmed that the actor’s blood pressure had been consistently high, noting that at a point, some kind-hearted people picked him up and took him to the General Hospital, Gbagada where he was admitted in the intensive unit for some time and made to undergo a number of medical tests.

The lady continued, “The bottom line is that other things came up. His kidney was seriously affected and he had to undergo five dialyses in March, 2014. From what we have seen, he is also afflicted with diabetes. This is why he has been placed under a strict diet. He doesn’t just eat anything. His eyes are so impaired now that he could barely see objects. We have even taken him to St. Mary’s Hospital in Ago Iwoye, Ogun State. As it is, everything is related to high blood pressure. The ailment has seriously affected the organs in his body, especially the kidneys.”

It was also learnt that members of the Society made an effort to contact the Abia State Government, through the representative of the Item Constituency in the House of Assembly, for assistance to the actor. But they said the person did not get back to them.

  Sometime last year, word reached the Actors Guild of Nigeria that Uche was still seriously ill. A delegation was sent to visit him in his home. He was subsequently taken another hospital in the Gbagada area of Lagos for treatment and placed on health insurance, which gave him access to free drugs. Ever since, the AGN has done anything else to assist him.
  

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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Ukraine death toll mounts after truce hopes dashed

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Read Time:1 Minute, 31 Second

At least 19 soldiers and civilians were killed in clashes across east Ukraine as fierce fighting raged Sunday between government forces and pro-Russian rebels following the collapse of ceasefire talks.

Ukraine’s military said that 13 soldiers had died and 20 were wounded over the past 24 hours, pushing the military death toll over the past two days to 28.

Six civilians also died in fighting across the rebels’ self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic and in Kiev-controlled towns in Lugansk region, government officials and separatists said.

The latest casualty reports came as Ukraine’s two warring sides looked further than ever from agreeing a peace deal after the collapse of truce talks Saturday.

Mediators and Ukrainian representatives accused the separatists of scuppering an agreement despite growing international pressure to defuse a bloody upsurge in fighting that has left scores dead in recent days.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which is involved in the talks along with Russia, said that rebel negotiators in Minsk “were not even prepared to discuss implementation of a ceasefire and withdrawal of heavy weapons.”

Instead the insurgent representatives called for a total revision of an earlier Kremlin-backed peace plan signed in September that has formed the basis for all negotiations, the OSCE said in a statement.

The rebels say they now want to redraw the demarcation line between the two sides to include gains they have made since ripping up a shaky truce and pushing into Ukrainian territory.

Kiev has rebuffed this demand and said the rebels’ position has thrown any future peace talks into doubt.

“Unfortunately the peace process is now under threat,” Valeriy Chaly, the deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential administration wrote on his Facebook page.

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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Boko Haram new assault on Maiduguri ‘contained

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Read Time:3 Minute, 29 Second

An assault by Boko Haram on Sunday aimed at taking over the key northeastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri has been repelled, the military said, roughly 12 hours after fighting began.

“The terrorists’ attack on Maiduguri in the early hours of Sunday was quickly contained. The terrorists incurred massive casualty,” defence spokesman Chris Olukolade said in a text message. “The situation is calm as mopping up operation in the affected area is ongoing.”

Boko Haram fighters on Sunday launched a fresh attempt to take over the strategically crucial northeastern city of Maiduguri, a brazen attack on a state capital just two weeks before national elections.

Four residents told AFP that Sunday’s fighting began at roughly 3:00 am (0200 GMT) with loud explosions and gunfire, as the Islamists tried to enter the city from the south.

After heavy fighting in the Mulai area just three kilometres south of the city, troops backed by vigilantes repelled the attack, but the militants then began a separate assault to the east and gun battles were ongoing, multiple witnesses said.

“The gunmen were initially subdued in Mulai, but now they have changed strategy and are attacking through the Damboa road (to the east),” said local Bukar Mungono, in an account supported by two others. “Fighting is still going on.”

The Islamist rebels tried to capture Maiduguri just a week ago, but were repelled by troops.

The military was not immediately available to comment on the latest raid.

“The whole city is in fear,” said resident Adam Krenuwa. “People are afraid of what will happen if Boko Haram defeats the security forces.”

Losing control of Maiduguri, capital of Borno state, would be an enormous defeat for the security forces, whose handling of the six-year Islamist uprising has been fiercely criticised.

The city’s fall would also likely spark a humanitarian disaster.

Maiduguri’s population is believed to have swelled above two million in recent weeks as residents from other parts of Borno have been forced to flee to the city to seek refuge from Boko Haram violence.

Resident Fannami Dalwaye said people from the Mulai area ran towards the city-centre as the violence raged earlier on Sunday.

“Some of us are in mosques praying, just waiting to hear the outcome of what happens,” Krenuwa told AFP.

– Opposition stronghold –

Nigeria’s National Security Advisor Sambo Dasuki last month called for elections to be postponed.

He cited difficulties in distributing voter identity cards, but experts have questioned how Nigeria can hold legitimate national elections when significant parts of the country are controlled by Islamist rebels.

Boko Haram is believed to control at least half of Borno state, as well as several areas in neighbouring Adamawa and Yobe.

The northeast is an opposition stronghold and there are fears that the credibility of the polls could be challenged if millions of voters are disenfranchised, especially if the final tally is close.

The opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) has rejected any postponement of the vote, describing it as a stalling tactic by the ruling party which is fearing defeat after 16 years in power.

But even before the latest assault on Maiduguri, election officials conceded that voting would be impossible across much of the northeast.

Foreign observers have said that they will not even attempt to monitor polling in the region because of the unrest.

President Goodluck Jonathan, who is facing a tough challenge from former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, has repeatedly sought to assure Nigerians that Boko Haram could be contained.

But those promises have consistently proved hollow, with the violence having escalated each year under his watch.

The conflict has killed an estimated 13,000 people since 2009, while Boko Haram has been blamed for the kidnap of hundreds of children.

Buhari, a former army general who briefly led the country as a military dictator in the mid-1980s, has told voters that he will be able to curb the bloodshed but has so far not released a specific plan to deal with Boko Haram that he would implement if elected.

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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US recalls two million cars again over airbag defect

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Read Time:3 Minute, 33 Second

A US defence contractor said Sunday that two of its American employees came under fire in the latest attack against Westerners in Saudi Arabia.

It was the second time in recent months that staff of the contractor Vinnell Arabia have been targeted.

“We can confirm that two Vinnell Arabia employees were involved in an incident on Friday, in which they were shot at by assailants in the al-Ahsa province of Saudi Arabia,” the company said in a statement issued through a public relations firm.

“Both employees were injured but are in stable condition at a local hospital,” it added.

Saudi police said earlier that one American had been wounded in a shooting in the eastern region which is the source of most of the kingdom’s oil wealth.

Vinnell Arabia provides training for the Saudi National Guard, a parallel army.

A source close to the incident told AFP that several rounds were fired at the Vinnell vehicle from a white car.

The Vinnell driver was hit several times, the source said, adding he was not aware of injuries to the second employee who was able to drive his wounded colleague to hospital.

The incident occurred just east of a National Guard base near Hofuf city.

On Friday, a resident of al-Ahsa told AFP that police had blocked off the area around a National Guard facility.

Asked about a possible motive for the shooting, interior ministry spokesman General Mansour al-Turki said: “We’re still waiting for the results of the investigation.”

The attack is the fourth against Westerners in the kingdom since October. It comes as Saudi Arabia participates in United States-led air strikes against the Islamic State jihadist group in Syria, raising concerns about possible retaliation.

In October, one Vinnell employee was shot dead and another wounded at a petrol garage in the capital Riyadh.

The interior ministry identified the suspected shooter as a US-born Saudi who had been fired from Vinnell Arabia.

“It was not a terrorist-related incident,” Turki said.

Vinnell’s Facebook page says it is “dedicated to providing the best in military training, logistics and support” to the Saudi National Guard, using expertise from former US military and government personnel.

The Guard has around 200,000 men whose duties include combating “terrorism”.

It has infantry, mechanised and special forces wings, and is reportedly to acquire Black Hawk and Apache helicopters from the US this year.

Formed from tribes traditionally loyal to the ruling al-Saud dynasty, it operates in parallel, and as a palace-directed counterbalance, to the regular armed forces.

– Dane shot –
The October shooting was the first deadly attack on Westerners in Saudi Arabia since several were killed in a wave of Al-Qaeda violence between 2003 and 2007.

Among the targets at that time was a compound housing Vinnell staff.

The latest attack on Vinnell recalls the wounding of a Dane in November. He was driving away from his workplace when he was fired on from another car.

Last month, security officers arrested three Saudis on suspicion of involvement in that attack, saying the suspects acted “in support of” the Islamic State group.

A week after the Dane’s shooting, someone stabbed and wounded a Canadian at a mall on Saudi Arabia’s Gulf coast.

Police arrested a Saudi suspect but Turki said the incident was not “terrorist”-related.

Saudi Arabia blamed IS-linked suspects for the November killing of seven members of the minority Shiite community in Eastern Province.

IS has seized swathes of Iraq and Syria, where it has been accused of widespread atrocities.

Late on Saturday, the group claimed in a video that it had beheaded 47-year-old journalist Kenji Goto, the second Japanese hostage it had killed in a week.

The Pentagon announced in January that nearly 1,000 American troops will soon be sent to Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar to train moderate Syrian rebel forces as part of a long-planned effort to take on IS.

US officials have declined to give a breakdown of exactly how many trainers and support troops will go to each country.

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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Mugabe seeks financial independence for African Union

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Read Time:2 Minute, 56 Second

African leaders have agreed in principle to impose a flurry of taxes in a bid to finance their pan-African bloc, set up to push the continent’s diplomatic agenda but dependent on foreign handouts.

After a two-day summit held in the African Union’s Chinese-built headquarters in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, heads of state proposed new taxes on airline tickets, hotel stays and text messages.

The AU was once heavily bankrolled by toppled Libyan strongman Moamer Kadhafi, who championed the institution as a means to challenge Western hegemony. Now, however, 72 percent of the AU’s operational budget comes from international donors led by the United States and European Union.

“Over 70 percent of our budget is foreign funded. This is

not sustainable,” said Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who during the summit was appointed to the AU’s rotating chair — certain to raise eyebrows among key donors who have sanctioned him for political violence and intimidation.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who has also been embroiled in a stand-off with the West after being charged by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, also said the dependence on foreign financing was a “profound handicap and an impediment to the continent’s momentum”.

“Depending on external funding for the union’s budget is simply unacceptable,” he said during Friday and Saturday’s summit, calling for Africa to assert “its independence and sovereignty more robustly”.

At present, the 54-member bloc sources only 28 percent of its half-billion dollar operational budget from its own members. In addition it has to source an additional $750 million for peacekeeping operations — with the funding gap filled mostly by the European Union, United States, World Bank, China and Turkey.

– Donor conditions –

The bloc is now proposing a $10 tax on flight tickets to and from African destinations, plus a $2 dollar tax on each night spent in a hotel. It is estimated that the levies will pull in $730 million dollars a year.

An additional half-a-cent tax on SMS exchanges would bring in $1.6 billion, according to AU officials, who are hoping to see the bloc able to fund its operations and projects to the tune of 65 percent by 2016.

The anticipated windfall would shake off institutional aid dependency and ease pressure on key donors Libya and Egypt, which cannot afford to contribute at the same levels as before.

“We should be able to take our decisions freely,” said Francine Muyumba, head of the Pan-African Youth Union (PYU).

“In case of emergencies like Ebola, we need to have the means to intervene quickly and without having to wait for foreign money. Money from donors always comes with strings attached.”

Whether the plan takes off, however, remains to be seen — even as AU members will additionally have to respect a new, higher threshold for contributions calculated on the basis of their GDPs.

While African heads of state agreed in principle to the proposals, the application of the taxes will be initially on a voluntary basis — leaving each member state with the choice of slapping the new taxes on their citizens and visitors.

The proposals, drawn up by former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo in May 2013, have been criticised by many member states as punishing for their tourism sectors and unduly sparing of the oil and mineral sectors.

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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EFCC records 126 convictions

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Read Time:1 Minute, 24 Second

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has disclosed that it recorded a total of 126 convictions in 2014 on corruption cases pending in courts.

The agency said the figure was higher that the 117 convictions it secured the previous year.

Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, Head, Media and Publicity of the EFCC, who addressed the media at the commission’s zonal office in Enugu, described it as “a feat in the light of the shenanigans that goes on in the Nigerian judicial system.

“This, to all intent and purposes is a healthy progression that should be applauded. Obviously, there is something that the EFCC under Lamorde has gotten right with investigation and prosecution of cases, and the commission is poised to sustain this momentum with a view to recording more convictions this year”, he said.

On its current efforts, he said the commission remained committed to see that cases pending in court were disposed of as quickly as possible.

“God willing, and if the strike by the judicial workers permits, the commission is expecting judgement in the N25 billion money laundering case instituted against Michael Igbinedion, younger brother to former Edo State Governor Lucky Igbinedion and one Eboigbodin, on Friday January 30”, the EFCC spokesman said.

“In the same vein, a Federal High Court in Abuja is expected to rule in the extradition proceeding initiated against Emmanuel Okoyomon, a former Managing Director of the Nigerian Security Minting and Printing Company”.

While noting that the challenges of finance, frivolous applications by defence counsel were hampering the activities of the anti-graft agency, Uwujaren disclosed that the Commission was benefiting from global partnership against corruption.

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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