Written by Emmanuel Ogbeche

US Embassy commemorates 75 years of exchanges

The U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. James Entwistle, will Tuesday, host a special reception to celebrate the impact of the 75th anniversary of cultural, educational, and professional exchanges that the United States has enjoyed with the rest of the world. 

Over the years, more than 10,000 Nigerians have participated in U.S. government-funded exchanges, such as the Fulbright, Humphrey, International Visitor Leadership, Mandela Washington Fellowship, and Eisenhower programs.

On the margins of the annual U.S.-Nigeria Fulbright Conference, 11 American Fulbright scholars currently in Nigeria alongside some 70 Nigerian alumni of U.S. government exchange programs will gather to observe the occasion. 

 

…Supports Nigeria’s anti-corruption war

To commemorate the International Anti-Corruption Day, the U.S. Embassy will host a roundtable discussion with various stakeholders.

U.S. Ambassador Mr. James Entwistle and Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami are expected to grace the occasion to be held at the embassy complex, Abuja.

Also, the panel will be moderated by Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission.

The 2015 International Anti-Corruption Day marks the 12th anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Convention against Corruption.

 

San Bernardino attackers' family 'in complete shock'

Lawyers representing the family of the two San Bernardino attackers have said relatives are "in complete shock" over the shooting.

They said the family had no idea Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, were capable of such an attack.

The lawyers warned against jumping to conclusions after the FBI said earlier the attack was being investigated as an "act of terrorism".

Wednesday's mass shooting left 14 people dead and 21 injured.

Tashfeen Malik, 27, and her husband Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, died in a shootout with police after the killings in the southern Californian city, east of Los Angeles.

Lawyers David Chesley and Mohamed Abuershaid said there was no evidence that the couple had extremist views or were members of a militant group.

Syed Rizwan Farook's sister, Saira Khan, told CBS News: "I can never imagine my brother or my sister-in-law doing something like this, especially because they were happily married, they had a beautiful six-month-old daughter,"

Farook is said to have been an isolated individual with few friends and Malik has been described by family as a "caring, soft-spoken" housewife.

Mr Chesley said Malik was very conservative. She did not drive or interact with male family members and wore a burka, he said.

The family was aware that Farook owned two handguns and said co-workers had recently made fun of his beard, the attorneys said.

 

China pledges $60bn to develop Africa

China has announced $60bn (£40bn) of assistance and loans for Africa to help with the development of the continent.

President Xi Jinping said the package would include zero-interest loans as well as scholarships and training for thousands of Africans.

The Chinese leader made the announcement at a major summit between China and Africa in Johannesburg.

The momentum of rapid growth in Africa was "unstoppable", Mr Xi told more than 35 African heads of state.

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma, who is joint host at the summit, welcomed Africa and China's deepening partnership.

"China has become Africa's largest trade partner, and Africa is now one of China's major import sources and fourth largest investment destination. This partnership can only yield further positive results for Africa's development," Mr Zuma said.

The two-day Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (Focac) is the second time China has brought together African leaders since the forum was launched in Beijing in 2000.

According to China's official Xinhua news agency, the assistance over three years will focus on 10 areas, including industrialisation, the modernisation of agricultural, financial services, green development and peace and security.

Mr Xi said this was his seventh visit to Africa and his second as Chinese president and on each trip he saw progress and change.

"The late Nelson Mandela of South Africa once said: 'We stand at the dawn of an African century, a century where Africa will take its rightful place among the nations of the world.'

"I couldn't agree more with this statement and I am convinced that African countries and people are embracing a new era that is truly theirs," the Chinese leader said.

 

Terrorism: EU to share passenger details

The EU has agreed on a system to share airline passenger details in a bid to improve counter-terrorism efforts.

The Passenger Name Record (PNR) system will allow access to passenger information including names, contact details and credit cards.

Details would be collected from European carrier flights entering or leaving the EU - as well as from those between member countries.

Security concerns were raised following the 13 November attacks in Paris.

The system would be "indispensable in the fight against terrorism", French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said.

Luxembourg Interior Minister Etienne Scheider said: "The compromise agreed today will enable the EU to set up an effective PNR system which fully respects fundamental rights and freedoms.

"After so many years of debate, we have finally reached a deal."

The PNR system was first proposed in 2007, but lawmakers struggled to pass it because of privacy concerns.

A new sense of urgency was brought to the negotiations in the wake of the Paris attacks.

 

Pakistan blocks 30 migrants deported from Greece

Pakistan has refused entry to 30 migrants deported from Greece, saying their identities could not be verified.

They were among a group flown from Athens to Islamabad on Thursday.

Nineteen verified migrants were allowed to disembark while the rest were flown back to Athens, officials said.

Pakistan is one of the top countries of origin of illegal migrants to Europe, according to statistical institute Eurostat.

Islamabad had suspended its agreement with the European Union to accept repatriation of illegal Pakistani migrants, citing misuse.

However, the dispute was settled last week after meetings with the EU Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos.

The EU's representative office in Pakistan said all those on board had travel documents issued by Pakistani embassies.

But Pakistan's interior ministry said those sent back to Greece had lacked Pakistan-issued identification cards and thus their nationalities could not be verified.

"Despite having settled all issues with the European Commissioner, Pakistani laws have been violated, which absolutely cannot be allowed," said Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan.

Greece has been facing pressure from EU partners to directly deport migrants arriving from Turkey instead of allowing them to move to elsewhere in Europe.

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