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A crackdown in Zimbabwe exposes the instability of the Mnangagwa regime

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Who ordered this? IN THE early hours of August 5th four men broke into a house in eastern Zimbabwe known to be home to activists for the MDC Alliance, the country’s main opposition bloc. They dragged the husband and wife outside before beating them with sticks on their back and buttocks. Two of the assailants took turns raping the wife; the other two raped the husband. All the while the children of the couple watched. After holding peaceful elections on July 30th Zimbabwe has again descended into violence. At least six people were killed on the streets of the capital two days after the vote. Since then human-rights groups have recorded more than 150 alleged cases of abuse against opposition supporters (including that of the husband and wife above), most seemingly at the hands of soldier

Is the Western Wall falling down?

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Between a rock and a holy place EVER since the Roman army tried to topple it in the 1st century, knocking a few slabs from the top, the Western Wall in Jerusalem has remained largely intact. A relic of the second Jewish temple, most of which the Romans did destroy, the wall attracts thousands of Jewish worshippers each day. One called Daniella Goldberg was standing in front of it when a big slab of the wall came crashing down next to her on July 23rd. Ms Goldberg was unharmed, but engineers were left wondering if worse is to come. Several explanations have been put forward as to why the slab broke off. Rainwater erosion and recent seismic activity may have loosened the wall’s stones. A study done in 2014 found that some parts of the wall were eroding much faster than others. Vegetation

Saudi Arabia picks a pointless fight with Canada

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QUEBEC’S proudly Francophone separatists may want to learn some Arabic. On August 5th, as Canadians enjoyed a long weekend, Saudi Arabia abruptly expelled their ambassador and froze bilateral trade and investment. Its state-run funds have reportedly been ordered to dump their Canadian assets, no matter how much it costs to do so. The kingdom is angry about tweets from Canada’s foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, criticising the arrests of Saudi human-rights activists. For Saudi Arabia, this was unacceptable “foreign interference”. If anyone is qualified to opine on meddling abroad, it is the Saudis. Since 2011 they have helped quash an uprising in Bahrain, backed a coup in Egypt and detained Lebanon’s prime minister. If Canada keeps up its criticism, “we are allowed to interfere in Can

Joseph Kabila says he will not run again in Congo

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THE Democratic Republic of Congo has never had a peaceful transition of power. Mobutu Sese Seko, the president from 1965 to 1997, fled his jungle palace shortly before it was ransacked by looting soldiers; his successor, Laurent Kabila, was shot by one of his bodyguards. So the country has been on edge as an election, scheduled for December 23rd, draws closer. It is already grappling with an outbreak of Ebola and armed conflicts in ten of its provinces. The big question was whether Joseph Kabila, the unpopular president (pictured), would run again. Mr Kabila inherited the job from his father, Laurent, in 2001. He is accused of corruption, incompetence and human-rights abuses. The constitution required him to step down when his second term ended in 2016, but he stayed on, citing a clause...

American sanctions bring more agony to Iran’s dysfunctional economy

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IT TOOK two years to negotiate a nuclear deal with Iran—and a few strokes of a pen to undo it. On August 6th President Donald Trump signed an executive order restoring sanctions aimed at Iran’s car industry, its trade in gold and its access to dollars, among other things. It makes good on the president’s promise to withdraw from the deal, signed in 2015, which gave Iran sanctions relief in exchange for limits on its nuclear programme. The sanctions will hurt. Whether they will accomplish anything else is up for debate. Contrary to his campaign promise, Mr Trump cannot unilaterally “tear up” the deal. It has five other signatories: Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China. All say it is working, an assessment backed by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which certifies Iran’s comp

A bubbling Islamist insurgency in Mozambique could grow deadlier

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RESIDENTS of Naunde village were woken by gunshots at around 2am on June 5th. Two of the attackers carried guns. The other three, armed with machetes, set houses on fire. Then they chased down a local chief and hacked off his head in front of horrified neighbours. They also killed six others, including an Islamic leader whom they beheaded in a mosque. The attack, documented by Human Rights Watch, a pressure group, is one of several dozen carried out by jihadists in Cabo Delgado—a mostly Muslim, coastal province in Mozambique’s far north—since October 2017. Recently many have followed a similar pattern: hit-and-run raids during which attackers torch houses, steal supplies and behead victims. In May terrorists decapitated ten people, including children. Officials have tried to brush off

Why Hamas jails people who can’t pay their debts

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In the red? Free bed ZIAD AL-ZAYYAN traded his home for his freedom. For years he ran a profitable business importing ceramic tiles to Gaza. In 2016 he took out a loan to pay for an order worth 80,000 shekels ($20,830). But in a besieged territory with 43% unemployment, fewer and fewer people can afford to fix up their homes. Mr Zayyan could not find any customers for his last order. Desperate to pay off his creditors, he sold his flat in Nuseirat, a refugee camp south of Gaza City. He got $17,000 for it, 23% less than what he paid three years earlier. “All of that money went to cover the loan,” he says. His alternative was jail. Most countries have abolished debtors’ prisons. Palestine should have, too. It signed a UN treaty that forbids them. But they still exist in Gaza, which has be