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Anthonia Nwaorie was on her way to open a medical clinic in Imo State, her place of birth in Nigeria when U.S. customs seized the entire $41,377 she was carrying.

The 59-year-old registered nurse moved to America in 1982 and became a U.S. citizen in 1994. She travels to Nigeria every year since 2014 to provide free basic medical care to people in her hometown.

Not knowing about the U.S federal law that requires travelers to file a report when leaving the country with more than $10,000 in cash, Nwaorie had a little over $37,000 in her carry-on bag and $4,000 in her purse. The money was stowed in separate envelopes, some earmarked to help the sick or aging family members. In addition to the cash, her checked luggage contained medical supplies and over-the-counter medication, which she said were for free basic care and checkups to anyone who needed it.  All together, U.S. customs seized all $41,377 from her.

“It was like I was a criminal,” she said. “I felt so humiliated, so petrified, too. They were talking among themselves, saying how this is how people smuggle money out of the country. ‘This is how they do it.’”

More than six months later, Customs and Border Protection still has not given back her money. They promised to give it back in April if she gives up her right to sue the federal government. Her attorney says this violates Nwaorie’s basic First Amendment rights to petition the government for grievances. Nwaorie didn’t sign to give up that right, she decided to sue instead. 

The U.S. attorney’s office in the Southern District of Texas did not bring a civil asset forfeiture case against her or charge her with any crime. Her infraction was failing to declare the money to Customs before traveling. There is no limit on the amount of money that can be taken out of the country, but if a traveler is carrying more than $10,000 in cash they must fill out a declaration, a rule she said she did not know existed.

Each time she goes to Nigeria, she would set up a pop-up medical clinic in churches or community centers, where she provided basic care and over-the-counter medication such as ibuprofen and Tylenol for basic ailments. Trained as a midwife, she also examined pregnant women and lets them hear their babies’ heartbeats for the first time.

She later decided to build a small clinic, so that patients would have regular access to care with full-time doctors. Her father helped secure her a parcel of land.

“This was my dream, that people cannot be sent away from a clinic or a hospital because they do not have money,” she said. “This is something that I want to do for humanity, myself and my God, so there is nothing I would want to do to go against the law of this land to get it done. If I had known I had to declare the money before traveling, I would have done that.”

Nwaorie ultimately traveled to Nigeria the month after CBP seized her money, paying for her trip on a credit card and setting up another week-long pop-up clinic. And she had to tell some family members that she didn’t have the money set aside for them.

CBP seizes property from people more than 120,000 times per year, according to the federal lawsuit, filed last week in a federal court in Houston. To get the property back, individuals have two options. They can argue for their property using CBP’s administrative process, in which case Alban said a hold-harmless agreement wouldn’t be unusual. Or they can go the route Nwaorie chose, leaving it to federal prosecutors to decide whether to pursue civil asset forfeiture within 90 days.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has returned to Abuja from London, a day ahead of the scheduled return.

Buhari was in London for medical treatment at the request of his doctor, as he stated in his tweet before leaving.
See below:

A tweet from the handle of the Presidency; @NGRPresident said: “ President @MBuhari this evening returned to Abuja”.

Lolade Siyonbola, a graduate student at Yale University was taking a nap while studying for finals inside the common room of her dormitory when a white Ph.D. student who also lives in the building woke her up and called the police on her.

“She came in, turned on the lights and said she’ll call the police on me for sleeping here,” said 34-year-old Siyonbola, who live-streamed her interaction with the student, Sarah Braasch, and the four police officers that showed up on Facebook. The video has since been seen by more than a million viewers.

The first video is her encounter with the white student, 43-year-old Sarah Braasch

In the second video, four police officers engaged Soyinbola on her right to be at that dorm.

The African Union has condemned President Trump’s “shithole” remark, but on Monday, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, the first subsaharan president to visit the white house dismissed the comment as a possible rumor, saying it’s best to keep quiet.

“Mr. President, did you address Trump’s reported comments from earlier this year, when he reportedly used vulgar language to describe African nations?” asked, Jordan Fabian of the Hill during a joint news conference.

In response, Buhari said “I’m very careful with what the press says about others and myself. I’m not sure about the validity or whether that allegation against the president was true or not. So the best thing for me is to keep quiet,” he added.

Below is the welcome speech video, where Trump asked Buhari about security in Nigeria, boko haram attacks, the kidnapped school girls, and the killings by Herdsmen.


Some youths manhandled Senator Mathew Uroghide and removed his cap at the Benin Airport on Friday for allegedly moving a motion for the impeachment of President Muhammadu Buhari.

The Senator representing Edo South Senatorial District is the Chairman of Senate Committee on Public Accounts promptly denied moving such a motion.

Uroghide denied on Saturday evening in Benin-City that he moved a motion for the impeachment of Buhari, the Sun reported.

He had come under attack from several groups in Edo State since he was reported to have moved the motion.

But speaking to journalists afterwards, the embattled Senator explained that he never moved a motion for the impeachment of the President on account of his anticipated approval of the sum of $496 million for the purchase of Military equipment.

He said that he only called for the invocation section 143 of the Constitution, which according to him requires investigation before impeachment.

‎“I hope you people understand the working of the Senate and the positions you are talking about. I am the Chairman, Senate Committee on Public Accounts.

Every government expenditure falls on my table. If I have to do what I have to do. The President had a good intention of buying those equipment but the procedure was wrong and he has accepted that it was wrong.

“We have sworn to oath that we will uphold the decision of the constitution. A good intention of buying something and a procedure that is wrong. What do we do?

“The only thing that concerned the President office is Section 143. If you check Section 143, it is a long process. The first thing you have to do is investigation and correspondences will be entered into.

“The President has to be written and reply. We have not reached the issue of impeachment. Nobody on the floor of the Senate moved motion that the President should be impeached.

“If the papers said somebody said the President should be impeached, it is out of ignorance with these ignorant youths that are misled by ignorant persons. It is unfortunate.

“I am proud to be a Senator. All revenues fall on my table. They should be proud that this is what it is. The Constitution is above every other person.

“We have not reached the point of impeachment that was why the Senate President said it should be referred to the judiciary so that they will advice on what to do.

“If is said the President should be impeached, then I am ignorant. Section 143 is a very long process. It will take a lot of time and actions to impeach the President. Move a motion for the President to be impeached, then I must be stupid. I only said invoke Section 143 so that processes should be followed”, Sun quoted the senator as saying.

Meanwhile, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that following Friday’s attack on Urhoghide, Edo state police command has beefed up security around his Benin residence.

NAN further reports that two police hill lux vans were stationed outside while heavily armed policemen were seen outside.

Party supporters were at the residence to show solidarity with him

Speaking to newsmen, Urhoghide said he does not have any regret for what he said at the floor of the Senate.

Urhoghide who said that he would seek redress in court, stressed that he would report back to the Senate that he was humiliated for what he said during plenary.

He said it was a shame on Nigeria for a boy to hit a serving senator and representative of the people.

He stated that he expected political practitioners to educate people that he was not talking about impeachment when he moved a motion that Section 143 of the Nigeria Constitution should be invoked.

Urhoghide fingered the Chief of Staff to Gov Godwin Obaseki, Mr Taiwo Akerele, as being responsible for the mobilisation of thugs that attacked him at Benin Airport on Friday.

He said President Buhari should have submitted a supplementary budget for the purchase of the aircraft.

According to him, “They have promised to deal with me. If not for the state Commissioner of Police. I obeyed the Police Commissioner.

“I remained where I was until the Governor came. We were walking side by side talking when a boy hit my head and the Governor walked away.

“Before I left Abuja, I knew what was happening and the person responsible for it. I called him to tell him that it was unnecessary but he didn’t pick his calls.

“It would be cowardice for me to abort the journey. I want to see what will happened and they displayed their thuggery, I am not cowed by it.

“I will represent my constituency and do whatever I want to do. Those who beat the PDP State Youth leader were not arrested but he was arrested

“If this game is not played along the direction that some people want it, then they see you as a deviant.

“That is what you saw yesterday, asking a riffraff, a boy of no consequence to lay his hands on me, an elected representative of the people, a serving Senator, it is a shame on this country.

“They should realised I am a PDP senator. I am in the opposition, I am not a member of the APC.

“I am liberty to say anything against the APC government. I am just being objective.

“They had ample time to bring the requests but they didn’t. We could have said more aircraft should be bought. What they have done is rumble jumble.

“The President has violated the constitution, that is the truth. If anybody is pretending that nothing has been done, the person should go to a mental home. Section 80 has been violated.

“Couldn’t I have spoken? That is what miscreants have misunderstood. I don’t have any regret for what I said. I stand on it.

“Where did I embarrass the President? Because of selfish interest here and they want to show to the President that everybody could be cowed in Edo.

“This is not a war I want to fight on partisan basis. I have immunity on what I said at the floor of the Senate.

“I am being crucified outside for what I said during plenary. I am going to report back to the Senate.

“All the security agencies must see the threat I am subjected to because I performed my duty as a Senator.”

Meanwhile, Chief of Staff to Gov Obaseki, Mr Taiwo Akerele, has denied sponsoring thugs to attack Mr Matthew Urhoghide for moving a motion to impeach President Mohammadu Buhari.

Akerele told Urhoghide to face members of his constituents that protested against his motion.

The Chief of Staff said he could not have concerned himself with what a senator from Edo South said when he hails from Edo North.

He advised Urhoghide to look out for the people of Edo South that did the protest

“It was obvious to the public that the people that protested are from Edo South I am not from Edo South. Am I from Edo South.

“I have nothing to do with him. I have no business with me. He should go and ask him people who protested from Edo South,” he said.

Source: Sun/NAN

Zimbabwe has legalized the production of marijuana for medicinal and scientific purposes, the government has said in a legal notice, making the southern African nation the second country in Africa to legalise cultivation of the plant.

Lesotho last year announced the continent’s first licence to grow cannabis legally.

Until now, it has been illegal to grow, possess or use cannabis in Zimbabwe, with offenders facing up to 12 years in jail.

Health Minister David Parirenyatwa published new regulations, seen by Reuters on Saturday, allowing individuals and companies to be licenced to cultivate marijuana, known locally as mbanje.

The five-year renewable licences will allow growers to possess, transport and sell fresh and dried cannabis as well as cannabis oil.

Applications should include plans of the growing site, quantity to be produced and sold and the production period.

A licence can be refused when information has been received from a “peace officer, a competent authority or the United Nations” that an applicant was involved in the diversion of a controlled substance or precursor to an illicit market or use”, the regulations said.

“The Minister may not oblige if the issuance, renewal or amendment of the licence is likely to create a risk to public health, safety or security.”

Reuters

The Cameroonian military has withdrawn from the north-western town of Belo after it was attacked by anglophone protesters, known as the Ambazonians.

The move follows weeks of military raids in English-speaking parts of Cameroon. Homes have been burned and many people arrested.

On Wednesday, fighters – believed to be Ambazonians – killed the headmaster and teacher of a school and cut off a student’s hand.

A BBC correspondent in Cameroon says the school was attacked because it failed to heed the separatists’ call to shut down in protest against marginalisation by the francophone majority.

BBC

Mass graves that authorities say could contain more than 2,000 bodies have been discovered in Rwanda nearly a quarter-century after the country’s genocide, and further graves are being sought nearby.

The new discovery is being called the most significant in a long time in this East African nation that is still recovering from the 1994 killings of more than 800,000 people.

Some Rwandans are shocked and dismayed that residents of the community outside the capital, Kigali, where the mass graves were found kept quiet about them for so many years.

“Those who participated in the killing of our relatives don’t want to tell us where they buried them. How can you reconcile with such people?” asked a tearful France Mukantagazwa.

She told The Associated Press she lost her father and other relatives in the genocide and believes their bodies are in the newly found graves.

The discovery of the graves in Gasabo district came just days after Rwanda marked 24 years since the mass killings of ethnic Tutsi and moderate ethnic Hutus.

“It is very disturbing that every now and then mass graves are discovered of which the now-free perpetrators never bothered to reveal to bereaved families so that they can get closure,” the daily newspaper The New Times said in an editorial this week.

“Definitely some very cruel people still live in our midst,” it added.

Between 2,000 and 3,000 people are thought to be buried in the graves based on the number of area residents who went missing during the genocide, Rashid Rwigamba, an official with the genocide survivors’ organization Ibuka, told AP.

The information leading to the discovery came from a local landlord who at first refused to answer questions about the suspected mass graves until threatened with arrest, Rwigamba said. The landlord was later arrested, suspected of taking part in the killings and accused of knowing where people were buried all along, he added.

Houses and toilets that had been built on top of the graves have been destroyed to make way for the search. “The exercise is ongoing and we have identified another house we suspect was built on a piece of land where victims were buried,” Rwigamba said.

Bodies found so far include those of babies, based on the clothing that has been found, he said.

At least 207 bodies have been exhumed from one of the graves and 156 have been exhumed from another, said Theogen Kabagambire, an Ibuka official from Gasabo district.

It was not immediately clear what would be done with the bodies or the graves.

During the genocide, a roadblock manned by Hutu militias was established meters away from the sites of the mass graves, survivors told the AP.

Authorities have launched investigations and those found to have participated in the killings will be prosecuted, Kabagambire said.

AP

Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio has sacked all political appointees at the country’s foreign missions including ambassadors and information attachés.

He has also retired all workers in the public service who have attained the age of 60, except those under special employment approved by parliament.

The sackings were contained in an executive order President Maada Bio issued on Wednesday, in which he announced a wide range of measures to reduce financial waste. He also embargoed recruitments in the public service.

Here are the measures announced on Wednesday:

*With immediate effect, purchase of vehicles by all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and public corporations has been banned until a new Fleet Management Policy is put in place.

*Payment for fuel, telephone and internet services to public servants in Ministries, Departments and Agencies for their residences are suspended with immediate effect pending a new benefit policy.

*All commitments by MDAs relating to overseas travel including cost of tickets should be within their approved budgets and must be cleared with the Ministry of Finance to ensure they are cost-effective and within budgetary limits.

*In line with Section 23 of the Bank of Sierra Leone Act 2011, prices for contracts shall be quoted and payable only in the local currency (Leone). All existing contracts already quoted in foreign currency shall therefore be paid in Leones.

*All new contracts by MDAs and public corporations should be cleared by the Ministry of Finance to ensure they do not constitute a financial risk to the national budget.

The executive order came as parliamentarians went into fisticuffs on Wednesday after they were sworn-in.

Members of Sierra Leone’s opposition All People’s Congress walked out of parliament after police escorted at least 15 of their colleagues from the chamber for disrupting proceedings.

The new parliament elected Abass Bundu of the ruling Sierra Leone’s People’s Party as speaker despite the absences.

He received 71 votes, less than half of the 146 members. Local AYV Television said four members of a third party abstained from voting to protest police removing elected officials from parliament.

Julius Maada Bio of the Sierra Leone’s People’s Party was declared president April 4. But the loser is in court to challenge his election.
NAN

The governor of South Sudan’s Gok State Madhang Majok Meen is unable to execute his duties fully as a governor due to the lack of an office.

After President Kiir’s decrees dividing up South Sudan’s states and counties into smaller units, many state and county governments are left without budgets, equipment or sometimes even offices or vehicles for their top executives.

The former Lakes State had been divided into Gok, Western Lakes and Eastern Lakes States in October 2015.

John Madol Panther, information minister in Gok State, told Radio Tamazuj on Wednesday that the state governor is working without an office, pointing out that his boss is now managing his state under a tree.

He explained that an office that belonged to the former Gok County Commissioner was given to the state legislative assembly.

“So the governor remained without an office, but the community has contributed money to build an office for the governor. The office is under construction and it will be opened in July,” he said.

“So this is the situation in which we are because Cueibet County had no infrastructure. The budget we receive from the government is for salaries only. There is no budget for development at all,” he explained.

“Even me the minister of information I do not have an office,” he said, even the other ministers do not have offices. We only have very small offices for administrative officers,”

The state official pointed out that the state ministers and advisers are also unable to execute their duties effetely due to the lack of vehicles.

“Now I don’t have a vehicle. We walk on foot to work. Sometimes it is difficult when it rains,” he said.

Radio Tamazuj

A former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, has said he would restructure Nigeria in six months if elected president in the 2019 elections.

Mr Abubakar stated this Wednesday during a question and answer session at the Chatham House in UK after delivering a lecture titled: “The Importance of Strengthening State Economic Management Systems”.

He also said he would offer a matching grant of $250 million each to the 36 states of the federation to challenge them to enhance their Internally Generated Revenue.

He said he was not surprised by President Muhammadu Buhari’s statement that Nigerian youth were lazy because he (Buhari) had never managed a business.

“It is doable. In fact, what I’ve told many Nigerians at home is that if you give me six months, I know I will be able to achieve a fast level of restructuring, otherwise the concurrent list issue.

“It’s very easy to deal with it because there is no state that you will call and say ‘I want to give you this responsibility together with the resources’, and will say ‘no’.”

He said he wants people of every state to be able to hold their leaders accountable because of how the federal Government “is being accused of everything, even when it’s not in its area of responsibility.”

“I want to be able to resolve that so that citizens can hold their local leaders responsible for lapses and maladministration.”

Asked if he would consider running as an independent candidate should he fail to secure the ticket of Peoples Democratic Party, which he recently defected back to, he said, “We’ll wait until that time”.

He added that he would make Nigeria attractive for those living in diaspora to return.

On President Muhammadu Buhari’s description of some Nigerian youth as lazy bunch, Mr Abubakar said the president would not describe Nigerian youth as lazy if he (Buhari) was an employer of labour.

“On the issue of youth, I am an employer of labour and most of that labour is youth-dominated and I make a lot of profits from my businesses.

“I don’t agree with the assumption that the youths are lazy or they are indolent. Certainly, I don’t. But I’m not surprised with the fellow (Buhari) who made that remark because he’s not an employer of labour, he has no business, he has no educational institution so he doesn’t relate with youth in schools so I don’t blame him.”

He criticised the multiple exchange rate in the country, saying it does not encourage foreign investors to put their money in Nigeria.

He said “his federal government” will continue to offer support, despite the $250 million grant for states that rank below the average development index, until such a time as they are able to become self-sufficient and sustaining.

“Beyond institutional and administrative reforms to improve operational efficiency of the revenue agencies, the federating units will be challenged to double their efforts in rebuilding the fiscal-social contract, by enhancing service delivery in key areas such as health, education, water supply and infrastructural development.

“Only this would change the predominant perception that government revenues are diverted to the private bank accounts of politicians and their cronies.”

Mr Abubakar who defected from the ruling All Progressives Congress to the opposition PDP, on whose platform he served as vice president, is seeking the party’s nomination to serve as its presidential flag bearer in upcoming 2019 presidential election.

He criticised senators of his former party, APC, of betrayal following the “shocking and saddening” decision of the Senate not to grant devolution of power to the states during the constitutional amendment last year.

He said the decision by the APC-controlled Senate was “a lost opportunity to honour one of the party’s election promises to bring about change by shifting power closer to the people in the remotest regions of our country”.

Premium Times

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has called on all Christians to embark on a nationwide protest over killings and bloodshed in the country.

This was made known in a statement signed by Pastor Adebayo Oladeji, the Special Assistant, (Media and Communications) to the CAN President, Reverend Dr. Samson Ayokunle, on Wednesday.

The call came after the murder of two priests and 17 worshippers at St. Ignatius Catholic Church, in Ayar Mbalom, Gwer East Local Government Area of Benue State early Tuesday by suspected herdsmen.

The Christian body declared Sunday, April 29, 2018, as a National Day of Protest, against what it described as “unending killings in the country.”

“CAN urges Christians in Nigeria to hold a peaceful protest on Sunday, in the premises of their churches asking the Federal Government and security agencies to stop the unending killings and bloodshed in the country. Christians are to carry placards with inscriptions meant to address issues about sustained killings, attacks and destruction of their property in Nigeria”

“Christians are to carry placards with inscriptions meant to address issues about sustained killings, attacks and destruction of their property in Nigeria.

“The inscriptions on placards could read, ‘Enough of bloodshed in Nigeria,’ ‘Enough of unlawful killings in the country’, ‘FG, Release Leah Sharibu from the bondage,’ ‘FG, Stop Herdsmen Killings,’ CAN rejects FG’s poor handling of insecurity.’”

The cleric admonished the government to perform its constitutional responsibility of protecting the citizens, noting that no excuse is tenable for the bloodshed, stressing that the perpetrators must be brought to book.

“CAN seizes this medium to appeal to the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to mount different effective plans aimed towards disarming herdsmen across the northern states and in communities where they have been wreaking havoc across the country in national interest.

“The Association also calls on the heads of the security agencies to wake up to their constitutional role of protecting lives and property across the federation while preventing Nigeria from descending into chaos and lawlessness.

“CAN reminds Christians across the federation the importance of the forthcoming general elections and the need for them to fully participate this time, by trooping to obtain their voter cards with which to play a role in the emergence of new set of political leaders who could guarantee their security and safety,” the Christian body said.

A police officer on Wednesday night shot and killed a commercial motorcyclist along Water Works road in Ebony State for allegedly refusing to give him N50 (about 14 cents) bribe.

Governor David Umahi has ordered for immediate arrest of the policeman attached to the Ebonyi State Anti Kidnap Squad over the death of the motorcycle operator, popularly known as Okada in Abakaliki, Ebonyi state capital.

The Governor who spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Emmanuel Uzor described the incident as barbaric and calous and expressed confidence that justice will be done in the killing of the deceased.

He said the incident has further called for more dedication, commitment and professional training for the country’s security personnel to stop further killings of innocent Nigerians on the line of their duties and assured that he would take up the matter to the Inspector General of Police to ensure that the trigger happy policeman who shot and killed the boy is punished in line with the rule of his engagement.

Umahi warned that his administration will not tolerate any form of killing of innocent citizens or extra judicial killing by the security agencies and ordered the Commissioner of Police in the State, Mr Titus Lamorde to arrest the trigger happy policeman who shot the decaesed and other members of the team to face full weight of the law.

While expressing his sincere condolences to the family of the deceased, Governor Umahi promised to visit the family when full information concerning his family is made available and called on the public to remain calm as the situation was already under control and never to resort to taking laws into their hands.

A Ghanaian lady based in the US has revealed how controversial Prophet Obinim stickers saved her 13-year-old marriage from collapsing.

The lady identified as Nana Ama Morton made the claim on Facebook.

In a video that is making waves on social media, the lady said prior to the use of the “Obinim sticker,” her husband was unable to satisfy her in bed because he does not go beyond 1 minute 30 seconds during sex.

“Funny Face’s was better than my husband. He can last for 2mins but my husband does on 1min: 30secs. Eeiii Jesus Ewurade! Immediately I had the stickers, I called him honey babe, he said; yes hun and I told him honey let’s try this miracle on,” she said.

She added, “I put the sticker on his manhood and one on my private part too. That very moment my husband’s penis erected! Bishop Obinim’s sticker is performing miracles. My husband now goes for second round.”

Ghanaians started the ‘Obinim sticker’ challenge after followers of the controversial ‘miracle performer’, Bishop Daniel Obinim revealed that the stickers were performing miracles.

Members of the International Godsway Church (IGWC) testify that the Obinim stickers possess supernatural powers that solve almost every impossible problem they face.

These testimonies prompted the challenge which makes mockery of the claims of ‘Angel’ Obinim by claiming the inherent powers of the stickers could solve every spiritual and ridiculous situation they face.

Former President John Dramani Mahama also recommended the Obinim sticker to President Nana Akufo-Addo to enable the latter cure his ‘super-incompetence’ and be able to perform.

The former UK High Commissioner to Ghana, Jon Benjamin has also joined in the ‘Obinim Sticker’ craze.

The former diplomat who claims he is at the Emirates Stadium to watch a game between Arsenal and West Ham United says even though he is uncertain about the outcome of the match, he hopes for a favourable outcome as he is in an Obinim sticker underpant.

Ghanaweb

The US Supreme Court appeared closely divided Wednesday over whether President Donald Trump had the power to block travelers from six mostly Muslim countries, in the biggest legal test of the administration’s contentious travel ban.

Five of the nine justices appeared convinced that Trump had not overshot his authority over immigration matters in the most recent version of the ban, which the administration claims is justified by national security concerns.

Both Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy — who often casts a swing vote — asked skeptical questions of those challenging the ban.

The court’s four liberal-leaning justices honed in on the policy’s focus on Muslim countries and Trump’s record of anti-Muslim statements during the 2016 election.

A series of lower court rulings last year highlighted those concerns and branded the measure unconstitutional, dealing what were then stunning setbacks to the new administration.

But the adjusted, so-called Version 3.0 of the travel ban issued in September that includes North Korea and Venezuela with six Muslim countries appeared to pass muster with most justices. A first measure was issued in January 2017.

“If you look at what was done, it does not look at all like a Muslim ban,” said Justice Samuel Alito.

– Campaign promise –

The hearing was the culmination of a 15-month battle over a policy that quickly became a hallmark of the Trump era.

It has triggered protests, including one outside the court that saw activists carrying signs that read “Proud American Muslim” and “No Bigotry, No Hate.”

Just one week into his presidency on January 27, 2017, Trump followed through with a campaign promise and announced a 90-day ban on travelers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Prepared in secret, the sudden order created chaos as hundreds of travelers were blocked at airports.

Tens of thousands of legal visas were canceled and protesters took to the streets saying the president was banning Muslims in violation of the constitution’s religious freedom protections.

Courts in several states found the measure was illegal, and did so again in March 2017 after the Trump administration slightly amended the original order, with Iraq dropped from the list.

A furious Trump bashed the courts and his own Justice Department, but was forced to recast the ban again.

Issued in September, the latest version was open-ended, dropped Sudan, and added Chad, North Korea and a selection of Venezuelan officials.

Rights groups said those changes were cosmetic to mask the anti-Muslim nature of the policy.

Lower courts accepted their arguments and again froze the ban. But the Trump administration appealed to the Supreme Court, which allowed the policy to go into effect in October ahead of the hearing.

The result is an almost complete cutoff of travelers from the named countries.

– Ban ‘within president’s powers’ –

Neal Katyal, the attorney representing Hawaii, where the first challenge to the latest ban arose, said Trump had exceeded his authority.

“It’s a power no president in 100 years has exercised,” Katyal told the justices.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, from the court’s liberal wing, echoed the point.

“Where does the president get the authority to do more than what the Congress has set?” she asked.

Solicitor General Noel Francisco, representing the Trump administration, defended the ban as justified on national security grounds.

“The exclusion of aliens is a political act,” he said. “It does fall well within the power of the president,” he told the court.

Francisco argued that Trump’s attacks on Muslims during 2016 were statements of “a private citizen,” and not Trump as leader or policymaker.

“This is not a so-called Muslim ban… It’s an order based on a multi-agency review.”

Apparently signaling where he stood, Alito noted that the policy was hardly a blanket ban on Muslims, affecting just some eight percent of the world’s Muslim population.

Justice Elena Kagan asked Francisco to consider what it would be like if a president ordered a ban on Israeli travelers after making anti-Semitic statements.

“If his cabinet were to actually come to him and say, Mr President, there is honestly a national security risk here and you have to act, I think then that the president would be allowed to follow that advice, even if in his private heart of hearts he also harbored animus,” Francisco answered.

The court is expected to review the case over the next two months before ruling in late June.

AFP

A federal court in Lagos on Wednesday remanded Peter Nwaoboshi, a Peoples Democratic Party senator representing Delta North, in Ikoyi prison.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, arraigned the lawmaker before Justice Muhammed Idris of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, on a two-count charge bordering on money laundering and fraud to the tune of N805million.

He is charged alongside two companies namely: Golden Touch Construction Project Limited and Suiming Electrical Limited.

One of the counts reads: “That you, Peter Nwaoboshi and Golden Touch Construction Projects Limited, between May and June, 2014, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, did acquire a property described as Guinea House, Marine Road, Apala, Lagos, for the sum of N805million, when you reasonably ought to have known that the sum of N322 million out of the purchase price transferred to the vendors by order of Suinming Electricals Limited formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful activity of fraud and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15(2) (d) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act of 2011 (as amended) and punishable under Section (15)(3) of the same Act.”

The defendant, who represents Delta North in the National Assembly, pleaded not guilty when the charge was read to him.

In view of his plea, the prosecution counsel, M. S. Abubakar, asked the court for a trial date and remand the defendant in prison custody.

However, counsel to the first defendant, Dr. V. J. O. Azinge, pleaded with the court to grant her client bail in liberal terms.

Azinge, who said the defendant did not jump the administrative bail granted him by the Commission, further told the court that his client had a health challenge.
In his response, the prosecution counsel urged the court not to hear the application on the grounds that the Commission was served with the application only on Tuesday, April 24, 2018.

“The prosecution is currently filling its process at the Registry of the Court,” he added.

When counsel to the first defendant told the court that the Commission was served on Monday, April 23 and that it refused service, Abubakar countered, saying ” such service, from the details of the charge, should have been served at the Abuja office of the Commission and not Lagos.”

The prosecution counsel, who said he was ready to proceed with the trial, further told the court that ” My Lord, even if the service was properly done, it is still not ripe for hearing because the rules provide for two clear days.”

The prosecution counsel, therefore, pleaded with the court to stand down the case.

Consequently, Justice Idris stood down the case for some hours to hear the bail application.

When the case was later called up, Justice ordered the defendant to be remanded in Ikoyi prisons and adjourned the case to Friday, April 27, 2018 for ruling on bail application.

Several thousand protestors marched through Johannesburg Wednesday to demonstrate against a proposed minimum wage, a new test for President Cyril Ramaphosa who took office in February.

South Africa, which is suffering record unemployment, is due to introduce the 20 rand ($1.60) hourly minimum wage, but it has been widely criticised as too low.

“It is a disgrace,” said Martin Kgaladi, a car industry worker wearing a T-shirt denouncing the pay level as “a salary of slaves”.

He accused Ramaphosa, a former trade union leader who supports the minimum wage, of being “captured by the capitalists and oppressing the workers he once defended.”

Ramaphosa has vowed to boost economic growth and tackle unemployment by attracting foreign investment and cracking down on government corruption.

He took over from scandal-tainted Jacob Zuma after nine years of weak growth, ballooning national debt and falling investor confidence.

SAFTU, the second biggest trade union, also held protests in Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth, but the strike was not backed by COSATU, the biggest union group, which is a government ally.

Employment has hit a high of 28 percent in South Africa, with the youth unemployment levels often peaking at over 50 percent in some areas.

Last week, Ramaphosa left a summit in London early to hold talks over violent riots against alleged government corruption and poor public services.