Police clash with Pro-Onnoghen protesters at CCT

A group under the auspices of Advocate for Peoples’ Rights and Justice (APRJ) on Monday held a protest at the premises of the Code of Conduct Tribunal in Abuja, asking the government to follow due process in the trial of Walter Onnoghen, Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).

Victor Giwa, coordinator of the group, maintained that the petition should be sent to the National Judicial Commission (NJC), the body constitutionally empowered to discipline and sanction judicial officers.

He noted that if NJC finds him guilty, then disciplinary action would be issued before criminal charges can be instituted against him.

He said the government should do the right thing and “stop violating the law of land”.

However, while they were still addresing journalists, security operatives moved in and asked them to leave the court premises.

SOURCE: Sara Reporters

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Chimps like to copy human visitors to the zoo – Ig Nobel Prize

How good is your best chimpanzee impression? Go to the zoo and you probably wouldn’t be surprised to see people copying chimps in order to grab their attention. But our latest research, which recently won the Ig Nobel Prize for Anthropology, suggests you are just as likely to see chimpanzees imitating the human visitors.

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Established in 1991, the Ig Nobel prizes are granted each autumn to ten unusual scientific discoveries that “first make you laugh, and then make you think.” Our findings unravel a form of imitation as communication that has not been previously reported in non-human apes. We typically think that humans evolved imitation as a way of learning. But our study suggests it can serve several functions, including for other animals.

The research, published in the journal Primates, found that the chimpanzees at Furuvik Zoo in Sweden were just as likely to imitate human visitors as the other way round. We watched a group of five chimpanzees at the zoo and about 10,000 human visitors that stopped by the chimpanzee enclosure. In total, we recorded 1,579 times when a chimpanzee did something directed at a human, and 2,211 human actions aimed at a chimp. About 10% of the actions of each species were imitations.

The actions copied by the humans and chimps were also surprisingly similar, with both favouring hand claps, knocking on the enclosure window, or kissing. This is where things get interesting. Since both species imitated actions they were already highly familiar with, this imitation can’t have been a method of learning but rather appeared to be a way of communicating.

By digging into the data a bit further, we found that interactions that included imitation were longer than those that didn’t. This suggests that imitation was a good way to initiate and maintain social contact between the two species. On several occasions, imitation turned into a game of back-and-forth copying that the chimps seemed to enjoy, making playful facial expressions. This not only shows that the chimpanzees quickly became aware of being imitated by the visitors, but also that they really enjoyed and were interested in the interaction.

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Chimps in the study imitated visitors’ kissing and clapping actions. Photo: Natures Moments/Shutterstock

Scientists have long agreed that imitation is a key mechanism for social learning that lets humans quickly acquire skills and solutions to problems by copying others. Because it enables knowledge and new inventions to spread and pass down generations, imitation is considered fundamental to our species’ complex culture and advanced technology.

Decades of research shows that, in spite of their proverbial aping abilities, nonhuman apes are rather poor at imitating the actions of others. In experiments where they have to learn a new procedure for solving a problem by watching it being demonstrated, apes systematically perform worse than human children. This might be because they lack the “social side” of imitation, meaning they don’t seem motivated to engage with others by sharing goals and experiences.

In contrast, human children show this social motivation by often gazing at the researcher’s face or smiling during such tasks. They also over-imitate, slavishly copying all the actions performed by a demonstrator, regardless of how relevant they are for solving the task. Apes, on the other hand, appear mostly motivated to acquire the food reward that comes with solving a problem, and so don’t show these “social-communicative” behaviours.

Social imitation

But the social side of imitation extends beyond learning tasks. We also see it when we empathise with others. We smile when they smile, we look sad when they are sad, or yawn when they yawn – and we do this pervasively, yet without awareness or intent. Research shows that our species shares this unintentional kind of social imitation with our closest genetic relatives (chimpanzeesbonobos, and orangutans), and even with non-primate species, such as wolves or sheep.

Another – intentional – kind of social imitation is found in toddlers’ interactions with each other and with adults. Before they master language, toddlers often playfully imitate familiar actions as a way to engage and communicate with others. This is similar to the imitation games we saw at the zoo between chimpanzees and human visitors.

Our study shows that chimpanzees and humans were equally likely to use imitation as a way to interact with each other. Given that we know chimps aren’t as good as humans at learning through imitation, this challenges traditional theories and suggests imitation may have evolved primarily for social reasons rather than as a means of learning. The images evoked by our study of chimps and humans imitating each other at the zoo might make people smile. But the scientific implications reach all the way back to the common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees, and the role imitation may have played for that mysterious species.

South Africa removes tax on sanitary pads

South Africa’s newly appointed Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has promised additional funds to ensure female students have access to sanitary pads.

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There have been growing calls for this amid complaints that girls – especially those in poor, rural communities – have been missing out on school because of the high cost of the pads.

In some provinces they are already free for all female students.

To cheers in parliament, he also announced that from next April the 15% tax on sanitary pads would be scrapped.

Bread flour and cake flour were also now going to be exempt from VAT, he said, explaining that he had asked people on social media for their tips ahead of the speech:

Quote Message: I received 3,299 tweets in total. One of them is from Tintsi Ngwenya in Johannesburg, who said: ‘Sanitary pads should be tax free – after considerable debate and consultation, as of the 1 April 2019, government will zero-rate the following items: One, sanitary pads. Two, bread flour Three, cake flour.’”

Mr Mboweni, who has only been in his job for two weeks, also gave a frank assessment of South Africa’s economy in the mid-term budget speech.

He said the country could not afford to continue borrowing at its current rate and must reduce its national debt, now expected to reach 60% of GDP in the next five years.

He said that the public sector wage bill exceeded its budget by 30bn rand ($2bn, £1,6bn).

Mr Mboweni repeatedly spoke about the cancer of corruption and said that those who were found guilty “must be locked up” in jail.

The speech was free of financial jargon – and he quoted from the Bible and Charles Dickens:

Quote Message: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity… we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way.

Quote Message: So too is the present time. As a country, we stand at a crossroads. We can choose a path of hope; or a path of despair. We can go directly to heaven, or as Dickens so politely puts it, we can go the other way.”

Quote Message: “So too is the present time – we can choose the path of hope or the path of despair.”

Sudanese refugee nominated for rights prize

A Sudanese refugee is one of three people nominated for a prestigious human rights prizes.

Abdul Aziz Muhamat is from Darfur and left Sudan in 2013

The annual Martin Ennals Award recognises the work of human rights defenders at risk of persecution.

Abdul Aziz Muhamat, 26, has been held on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island for five years and the award organisers say he has been “a compelling and tireless advocate for refugee rights”.

According to the Martin Ennals Award, he was granted refugee status in early 2015, but remains on Manus Island, along with several hundred other men who were transferred there after arriving in Australian territory by boat and seeking asylum.

Since 2013, Australia has detained all asylum seekers who arrive by boat on Manus Island and Nauru, a small Pacific nation.

The award jury said Mr Muhamat had documented the allegations of abuse and cruelty they suffer in detention centres.

Quote Message: Aziz is one of the primary public voices among the men held on Manus Island and regularly speaks out on international news media. For two years, he sent over 4,000 thousand voice messages to report on his experience in detention for the multi award-winning podcast, The Messenger.” from Martin Ennals Award

Martin Ennals Award

The jury also tweeted this film about why they had nominated him for the prize:

The AFP news agency also quotes the awards organisers as saying: “He has paid a price for this as he is seen as a ‘ring leader.’” Mr Muhumat, whose profile on Twitter says “detained by Australian government for five years, stolen my dreams”, tweeted his thanks to the jury for their recognition:

The Martin Ennals Award is named after the late British lawyer who became the first head of the human rights organisation, Amnesty International.

The award ceremony will take place in Geneva on 13 February 2019.


Cover photo: Abdul Aziz Muhamat is from Darfur and left Sudan in 2013

Angola ‘to close unregistered churches’

Angola is planning to close down “illegal” churches starting November, nearly a month after the state made public legislation to regulate religious activity, online newspaper Jornal de Angola has reported.

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“Religious denominations that are illegal in Angola will be closed starting in November, the national director for religious issues at the Ministry of Culture, Francisco de Castro Maria, said,” the website reported.

The move is expected to impact foreign-led churches in Angola, as “Mr Castro Maria affirmed that 50% of the churches in the country are established by foreigners from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Brazil, Nigeria and Senegal”.

Defending the plan, Culture Minister Carolina Cerqueira said that while the government was neutral, it was forced to act against unregistered bodies which “exercise commercial activities or which are a threat to human rights and against the principals of urban life and positive coexistence”.

More than 1,000 churches are waiting to pass the legal process, with the government giving unregistered denominations a month after the 4 October publication to regularise their status.

However, the discussion has been in the pipeline since as early as 28 August, when the council of ministers passed proposed legislation on freedom of religion, faith and worship to establish more rigorous conditions for the legalisation of religious activities in the country.

Angola ‘expels 180,000 migrants’

At least 180,000 Congolese citizens have crossed the border with Angola since 1 October – most heading to the city of Kamako where they are living in precarious informal camps, local officials have confirmed.

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The numbers are likely to be much higher as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola share more than 300km (186 miles) of border.

Many migrants are saying they were kicked out despite having documentation to live in Angola and there are unconfirmed reports that a number of them have been brutalized and even killed by Angolan forces.

The reason for the crackdown is unclear.

For many years, Congolese migrants have been in Angola, where they dig for diamonds on artisanal mines.

It could be linked to an attempt by the new Angolan government to take control over its mining industry.


Cover photo: Migrants expelled from Angola cross a river on the road to DR Congo. Photo: Reuters

Everything about Jacque Maribe’s police statement

Citizen TV anchor Jacque Maribe has admitted to police that her fiancé Joseph Irungu shot himself in her house in an incident investigators believe was a suicide attempt.

According to Ms Maribe, Jowie, as her fiancé is known, shot himself in his chest following a “serious” disagreement between them in her house in Lang’ata on the night of September 20.

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Jowie later claimed in a police statement that he had been shot by three thugs after dropping off Ms Maribe at her house. Police have since questioned the narrative.

Ms Maribe and Jowie are being detained in separate police stations in Nairobi over the gruesome murder of Monica Kimani, whose body was found at her Kilimani apartment.

Jowie is the prime suspect in the murder.

The fresh details of the quarrel that led to Jowie shooting himself is contained in an affidavit sworn by the lead investigator. “That according to the statement from the Respondent (Jacqueline Maribe), the said Joseph Irungu alias Jowie on the night of 20/21st September 2018 at around 1am attempted to commit suicide by shooting himself on [sic] the left chest following serious disagreement between the two,” the investigator stated in his affidavit.

Police are yet to provide a link between Jowie’s stated suicide attempt and Ms Kimani’s murder.

They have also not expounded on the reason of the quarrel between Ms Maribe and her fiance.

On Monday, Ms Maribe and a third suspect Brian Kassaine were arraigned in Kiambu and the court ordered their detention for a further 10 days to allow for investigations.

The police have also announced they will extract DNA samples from Ms Maribe, information that will help in investigations.


Cover photo: Citizen TV journalist Jacque Maribe talking to her lawyer, Katwa Kigen, at the Kiambu Law Courts on October 1, 2018. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Your Independence Day food is shrimp curry sauce

As the country celebrate its 58 years of freedom from their colonial masters, a lot of activities which we have been following have been going on, and we have been publishing couple of things to do today to enjoy the holidays, from movies to watch, to places to visit, now here is a special meal to relax at home with.

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Ingredients
  • 20-25 shrimps (peeled, devined and cleaned)
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder (more as needed)
  • 1 can (400ml) Coconut milk (Thai brand is my favorite)
  • 1-2 maggi cubes
  • Salt – to taste

Food 1

Directions
  1. Place a skillet on medium high heat. Add in the oil. Stir in minced onion. Stir fry until the onion is wilted but not brown. Add in curry powder and turmeric. Stir fry for another minute.
  2. Add in coconut milk. Season with maggi and salt. Stir well.
  3. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Add in shrimps. Simmer for another 2 minutes.