Russia on Friday placed the co-chair of independent election monitoring group Golos in pre-trial detention until at least October 17, a court spokesperson told AFP.
Grigory Melkonyants was detained Thursday on suspicion of working with an “undesirable organisation”, as security forces raided the homes of other Golos members.
“By decision of the Basmanny District Court, a measure of restraint in the form of detention until October 17, 2023 was chosen against the accused Grigory Melkonyants,” the court said.
Video footage from the court showed an impassive and handcuffed Melkonyants being led from the courtroom — the hint of a smile on his face.
His lawyer Mikhail Biryukov told reporters he would appeal the decision.
“With this case (the authorities) probably want to intimidate many independent observers, so they give up monitoring (the elections in Russia), or keep silent about what they see during these elections,” Biryukov said.
Since Russia launched full-scale hostilities against Ukraine last year, authorities in the country have intensified their crackdown on critical voices.
Melkonyants’s lawyer said his client’s detention was related to Golos’s work with the European Network of Election Monitoring Organisations, which was declared “undesirable” in Russia in 2021.
The “undesirable” label has been applied to dozens of organisations inside Russia, and puts staff members of targeted groups at risk of prosecution.
The action against Golos comes as Russia gears up for regional elections next month, and as President Vladimir Putin looks set for re-election in 2024.
Attempted Coup Foiled In Burkina Faso
The security and intelligence services in Burkina Faso, says it foiled an attempted coup in the country on Tuesday.
The military government made the announcement in a statement read on national TV by its spokesperson, Rimtalba Jean Emmanuel Ouedraogo.
According to the statement, the junta said an attempt by some army officers to seize power from Capt Ibrahim Traoré and plunge the nation into chaos was thwarted.
It further announced that officers who were allegedly involved in the plot had been arrested.
“The dark intention of attacking the institutions of the Republic and plunging our country in chaos… investigations will help unmask the instigators of this plot.
“Officers and other alleged actors involved in this attempt at destabilisation have been arrested and others are actively sought,” it said.
The military government said it would seek to shed all possible light on this plot, adding that it regretted “that officers whose oath is to defend their homeland have strayed into an undertaking of this nature”.
DAILY POST reports that the interim President of Burkina Faso, Capt Ibrahim Traoré seized power from another military regime in September 2022.
That was the country’s second coup as it grapples with an Islamist insurgency.
Strike: How Labour Veterans Got NLC, TUC To Close Ranks
Leaders of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and their Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, counterparts, Tuesday, September 26, 2023, announced to Nigerians, especially workers, that the two labour centres would jointly prosecute the planned nationwide indefinite strike starting on October 3, 2023.
Until then, the two centres had been in a cold war and worked at cross purposes to the detriment of the suffering masses especially workers, who are bearing the brunt of the removal of subsidy on petrol.
Recall that after the initial joint meeting the NLC and TUC held with the representatives of the Federal Government in June led by the Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila, other meetings with the government were held separately.
Although, the NLC and TUC held a joint nationwide protest on Wednesday August 2, 2023, to protest perceived government insensitivityto the plights of poor Nigerians, the frosty relationship between them came to a boiling point ahead of the two-day warning strike declared by NLC for August 5 and 6, 2023.
Why TUC backed off
Leaders of the TUC after a meeting with the Minister of Labour and Employment, Simon Lalong, were quoted by a section of the media to have said they had backed out of the planned strike.
As expected, leaders of NLC hit back at TUC, dismissing the claims that they were backing out of the planned strike as untrue because TUC did not declare a strike in the first place. In other words, leaders of TUC could not withdraw from a strike they did not call.
The leaders of the TUC also went ahead to give the government two weeks to address their demands, claiming the government still needs more time to address those demands.
On Monday, September 18, after a meeting with the Minister of Labour and Employment, TUC told Nigerians and workers that the government would announce wage awards for workers the following week.
NLC 21-day strike notice
On the other hand, at its meeting with the government, leaders of NLC told the Labour minister and his team that the government had up till Friday when the 21-day ultimatum given to the government by NLC would expire.
Recall that on September 1, while declaring the two-day warning strike, NLC had also given the government 14 days and 21 days notice within which to address its demands or face an indefinite nationwide strike.
Consequently, the September 18 meeting ended in deadlock as the meeting that commenced around 2 pm, ended around 4.23 p.m. without agreement.
On Friday, September 22, NLC summoned an emergency meeting of its National Executive Council, NEC, for Tuesday, September 22, to invariably fix the date to commence an indefinite strike.
Intervention by veterans
While all these were happening between NLC and TUC, Vanguard gathered that concerned elders in the Labour movement and civil society allies became worried that the movement was slipping into the divide-and-rule agenda of the government and that urgent intervention was needed to rescue the movement from the antics of the government.
According to sources, the elders and civil society allies reached out to the presidents and executives of both labour centres on the need to work together as one if they hoped to achieve anything for the masses of the country, especially workers who they are leading.
Following the intervention, the president of NLC and his TUC counterpart reached out to each other and stated talking, it was gathered.
Vanguard learned that following the success of the interface between the presidents of both labour centres, a broader meeting of leaders of NLC and TUC was held on Monday, September 21 at night.
The marathon meeting, it was gathered, lasted for over five hours and leaders of both centres told themselves the truth.
They were told to forget ego, pride and frivolities and face the onerous task of making life and living conditions better for the suffering masses of Nigeria most especially workers.
In fact, before the intervention, one of the leaders of TUC had confided in Vanguard that the leaders of NLC do not see TUC as partners but a labour centre they could always lord things over.
He complained that the NLC took a decision to embark on the August 2 protest alone without bothering to carry the TUC along.
According to the source, the TUC decided to join the protest at the last minute in the interest of the masses and workers.
The TUC source said what broke the camel’s back was NLC’s decision to declare the two-day warning strike without consulting or carrying TUC along.
The source said: “To the chagrin of TUC leaders, we read about the two-day warning strike notice on the pages of the newspapers like other Nigerians. The right thing to have been done was for the two Labour centres to either hold a joint NEC and decide on the warning strike or for NLC to reach out to TUC on its decision before making it public. Both NLC and us (TUC) would then meet and decide on the warning strike and jointly announce it. Alternatively, we could announce the warning strike separately but on same day. This was not done.
“When we looked at the content of the NLC’s communique announcing the warning strike, it appeared to be personal to NLC. The communique talked about the government interference in the leadership and occupation of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, headquarters in Abuja, without talking about Lagos State Government takeover of our affiliate, the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria, RTEAN office and seizure of two TUC buses parked at RTEAN secretariat in Lagos.
“The NLC communique also talked about some state governments’ interference in its state councils. So, essentially, we saw it as NLC’s affairs since we were not carried along and the things that concerned us were not included.”
However, some leaders of NLC while dismissing the TUC’s claims, alleged that leaders of the TUC breached NLC’s trust and confidence from the onset.
One of the NLC leaders told Vanguard: “One of the TUC’s betrayals of trust was on September 4, a day to the two-day warning strike. On that day, the Minister of Labour and Employment invited us and TUC to a meeting. The meeting was supposed to hold around 3 p.m. But before the meeting, the minister held a press conference addressing the issues we were supposed to discuss and so on. We saw no reason to attend the meeting again. But our sister Labour centre attended.
“That was not the first time. There was another example before the ministers were appointed by the President. We had a scheduled meeting with the government team at the Villa. We were not only held back at the gate for quite some time but when we got to the venue, the Chief of Staff to the President, who was supposed to preside over the meeting was nowhere to be found.
“About three low-ranking officials were left to hold the meeting with us. We left after waiting in vain for senior officials of government to turn up including the Chief of Staff to the President. But our sister labour centre stayed. Their utterances and body language before these examples were not convincing to us.”
NLC, TUC leaders meeting
Notwithstanding, sources at the reconciliation meeting informed Vanguard that leaders of NLC and TUC were made to understand that they needed to work together since both NLC and TUC were working for the masses and workers of Nigeria.
One of the sources said: “The leaders of both NLC and TUC were told and in fact, they agreed that both centres are working for the Nigerian masses, especially workers but with different approaches and methods. They were made to see reasons why a united force is a panacea to fighting a formidable enemy.
“They were also made to realize that the more they continue to work at cross purposes, the more the gap between them continues to widen and the more government will take advantage of it to unleash more anti-poor policies. They have also realized that the government will not address any of their demands if they continue to fight independently of each other.”
At the end of the meeting held at a hotel in Utako area of Abuja, Vanguard gathered that both NLC and TUC with over five representatives from each centre resolved to work as one to challenge the anti-poor policies of the government that have worsened poverty, unemployment, insecurity and other situations across Nigeria.
A source at the meeting said “They agreed that government has failed, that both NLC and TUC are the same family with common interests and must not allow the government to divide them.
“There was also the understanding that the NLC and TUC are the only hopes of Nigerian people and that they must do everything possible not to betray the Nigerian masses.
“There was equally an understanding that issues affecting them (NLC and TUC) should be discussed and addressed within them without allowing such issues to degenerate into wrangling or disputes, and so on.”
The product of the September 21 night meeting was the joint communique of Tuesday, September 22, by leaders of NLC and TUC declaration of an indefinite nationwide strike starting from October 3, 2023.
Biden Appoints Two Nigerians, Imasogie, Ogwumike As Advisers
The President of the United States, Joe Biden, has appointed two Nigerians, Osagie Imasogie and Chineye Ogwumike, to the 12-member advisory council on African Diaspora Engagement in the US.
Imasogie and Ogwumike were part of the 12 members of the President’s Advisory Council according to a statement released by the State House on Wednesday.
Other members of the council the members include Silvester Scott Beaman who will chair the council, Mimi E. Alemayehou, Rosalind Brewer, Viola Davis, Helene D. Gayle, Patrick Hubert Gaspard, C.D. Glin, Osagie Imasogie, Almaz Negash, Chinenye Joy Ogwumike, Ham K. Serunjogi, and Kevin Young.
Reacting to the development, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman/CEO, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) congratulated the duo on their nomination, according to a statement by the Commission’s Head of Media and Public Relations, Abdur-Rahman Balogun.
Dabiri-Erewa she said the nomination of the two great Nigerians into the advisory council is a welcome development, adding that their recognition and appointment into the 12-member advisory council is a motivation for other Nigerians and Africans in general.
Chinenye Ogwumike is a two-time WNBA All-Star for the Los Angeles Sparks and a full-time, multi-platform ESPN commentator and NBA analyst.
She is one of the only full-time professional athletes to also currently hold a full-time regular national sports media broadcast position.
Chineye Ogwumike was the 2014 WNBA Rookie of the Year and is a 2-Time WNBA All-Star (2014, 2018). She is proudly Nigerian-American and graduated from Stanford University with an International Relations degree under the mentorship of Dr. Condoleezza Rice. In August 2020, she became the first Black woman to host a national, daily sports-talk radio show.
The 2021 Forbes 30 under 30 honoree also holds the title of Executive Producer, producing an ESPN Films documentary “144” on the 2020 WNBA season.
Osagie Imasogie on the other hand is the Chairman of the Investment Bank and SEC/FINRA registered Broker-Dealer, Quoin Capital and Quoin Advisors.
In addition, Osagie is a co-founder of PIPV Capital, a private equity firm that is focused on the life sciences vertical and has invested over $1 billion into that industry.
Prior to co-founding PIPV Capital, he established GlaxoSmithKline Ventures and was its founding Vice President.
Osagie has held senior commercial and R&D positions within pharmaceutical companies such as GSK, SmithKline Beecham, and DuPont Merck. He has also been a Price Waterhouse Corporate Finance Partner as well as a practicing attorney with leading U.S. law firm, Schnader, Harrison, Segal & Lewis.
Osagie is a serial entrepreneur and investor who serves on the board of a number of financial institutions such as FS-KKR Capital Corp and Haverford Trust, institutions that cumulatively manage over $28 billion. He is an adviser to Brown Advisory, a firm that manages in excess of $140 billion. Osagie is the Vice-Chair of the Executive Committee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and a member of the Executive Committee and Chair of the Nominating & Governance Committee of the Philadelphia Orchestra and Kimmel Center.
In addition, Osagie is a Trustee of the University of Pennsylvania, a member of the Executive Committee of the University, and is also the Chairman of the Board of the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, where he is an Adjunct Professor of Intellectual Property. Osagie holds LLM degrees from the London School of Economics and the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, and is a member of the New York State Bar in addition to being admitted to practice in other jurisdictions
Almaz Negash, Member.
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