South Korean President Denies Following Cult As Scandal Continues

The South Korean President, Park Geun-hye, has publicly denied falling victim to a religious cult as scandal threatens to engulf her leadership.

Appearing close to tears in a televised address, she apologised for allowing a long-standing friend inappropriate access to government policy-making.

She agreed to be questioned over the scandal but did not offer to resign.

Choi Soon-sil is suspected of using their friendship to solicit donations to a non-profit fund she controlled.

Ms Choi is in detention facing charges of fraud and abuse of power.

 The main opposition party said the president’s apology lacked sincerity and it called on Ms Park to step back from state affairs.

Scuffles broke out between police and demonstrators demanding Ms Park’s resignation in central Seoul on Friday.

Read More: BBC

$620,000 Bribe: Trial Of Farouk Lawan Continues

Hearing commences Tuesday in the trial of the former Chairman, House of Representative Ad-hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy, Farouk Lawan, for allegedly obtaining $620,000 bribe money from Femi Otedola, chairman of Forte Oil.

A reliable close to the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission said Mr Lawan and Boniface Emenalo would stand trial before Justice Angela Otaluka of a Federal Capital Territory High Court, Lugbe, on a seven-count criminal charge bordering on obtaining $620,000 from Mr. Otedola, in order to doctor a report by his then committee in favour of Zenon Oil and Gas Ltd.

The duo were first arraigned before Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi on February 2, 2013, before the judge was elevated to the Court of Appeal.

The case was then reassigned to Justice Adebukola Banjoko, and later to Justice Otaluka.

The duo were alleged to have conspired in April 2012 to demand $3million gratification from Mr. Otedola to remove his firm from the list of oil companies indicted for the fuel subsidy scam.

The prosecution team, led by Adegboyega Awomolo, had argued before the court, that the offence contravened provisions of Section 26 (1) (c) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000, and punishable under Section 8 (1) of the same act.

Mr. Emenalo was separately arraigned on a seven-count charge of receiving $120,000 as gratification from Mr. Otedola for the same purpose, an offence which violates Section 10 (a)(ii) of ICPC Act, 2000 and punishable under Section 10 of the same Act.

Credit: PremiumTimes

Lawmakers Slam 2016 Budget As Debate Continues

For the third day running, federal lawmakers in the Senate and House of Representatives continued the debate on the 2016 Budget.

Unlike previous days, lawmakers set aside party sentiments to dissect and debate the 2016 budget.

There were criticisms and mixed reactions as lawmakers expressed their views on the budget.

Some Senators slammed the budget for not adequately taking into account, development projects in the Ministry of Women Affairs meant to ameliorate the sufferings of women in the country.

Some other Senators who agreed that there was the need to limit the expenditure of monies borrowed to fund capital projects, also stressed the need to diversify the economy, following the dwindling price of oil in the international market.

The lawmakers said that the funds appropriated to the ministries of Agriculture and Solid Minerals does not show government’s seriousness in trying to diversify the economy.

The budget debate was expected to end on Tuesday but was shifted to Wednesday, January 26.

Credit: ChannelsTv

DSS Continues Siege As Dasuki Returns To Court

Operatives of the Department of State Services, DSS, have continued to lay siege to the Abuja residence of former National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki (Rtd) and the former NSA would be in court today (Monday) to enforce his fundamental rights.

Dasuki’s house in Abuja has been under siege, with DSS operatives restricting the movement of the retired military colonel and that of other people coming into the residence.

The operatives are insisting on delivering personally, a letter of invitation for him to appear before a committee set up by the government to probe arms purchase while he (Dasuki) held sway as NSA.

“I told them that if it is just a letter of invite, they can drop it with my domestic staff, but they insisted that I must come out and collect it myself.

“I told them that unless they had a warrant allowing them to arrest me, I do not have to collect the letter from them and I am also not going anywhere without my lawyer,” Dasuki  has said.

Credit: ChannelsTV

With PMB, NYSC Continues

President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday said that the National Youth Service Corps was still relevant for national integration and unity.

To this end, he had pledged his administration’s commitment to take all necessary actions in maintaining the programme. President Buhari gave the assurance after receiving a briefing from officials of the Federal Ministry of Youth Development led by the Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Rabi Jimeta.

The President who affirmed his confidence and trust in the programme said that the objective for which the scheme was established in 1973 was still very relevant for national development. “I firmly believe in NYSC and I think it should remain a national programme to promote integration.

“Whenever I go home to Daura, I look out for Corps members from Lagos, Aba and other parts of the country.

“I am always thrilled to learn that except for the NYSC, some of them have never left their states of origin to visit other cities in the country,” Buhari said.

Read More: vanguardngr


Hong Kong Protest Continues After Fruitless Talks with Government

About 200 Hong Kong protesters marched to the home of the city’s Beijing-backed leader on Wednesday to push their case for greater democracy a day after talks between student leaders and senior officials failed to break the deadlock.

Others continued to occupy main streets in the Chinese-controlled city, where they have camped for nearly a month in protest against a central government plan that would give Hong Kong people the chance to vote for their own leader in 2017 but tightly restrict the candidates to Beijing loyalists.

A wide chasm separates the protesters and the government, which has labelled their actions illegal and repeatedly said their demand for open nominations is impossible under the laws of the former British colony.

“I’m here hoping the government will listen. If they don’t listen we will come out again and again to fight for our basic, grassroots nomination right,” said protester Wing Chan, who took part in the march.

Expectations had been low for a breakthrough in Tuesday’s cordial, televised talks which pitted five of the city’s most senior officials against five tenacious but poised student leaders wearing black T-shirts.

Protesters were unhappy about what they felt was a lack of substantive concessions. Andy Lau, a 19-year-old college student, said now was the time to step things up.

“I think it is time to seriously consider escalating the movement, such as expanding our occupation to many more places to pressure the government to really face and answer our demands,” he said.

Demonstrators marching to the home the city’s leader, Leung Chun-ying, repeated calls for him to step down. Many were angry at remarks he made this week that more representative democracy was unacceptable in part because it would result in poorer people having more say in politics.