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France says its army killed al Qaeda North Africa chief, Droukdel

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France said on Friday its military forces had killed al Qaeda’s North Africa chief Abdelmalek Droukdel, a key Islamist fighter that its forces had been hunting for more than seven years, during an operation in Mali.

“On June 3, French army forces, with the support of their local partners, killed the Emir of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Abdelmalek Droukdel, and several of his closest collaborators, during an operation in northern Mali,” French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly wrote on Twitter.

The announcement of the death of Droukdel comes almost six months after former colonial power France and regional states combined their military forces under one command structure to focus on fighting Islamic State-linked militants in the border regions of Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso.

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Droukdel was among North Africa’s most experienced militants.

He took part in an Islamist militant takeover of northern Mali before a French military intervention in 2013 drove them back and scattered fighters across the Sahel region.

Droukdel was believed to be hiding in the mountains of northern Algeria. Al Qaeda North Africa was the dominant jihadist force in the region, staging several high-profile deadly attacks until 2013 when it fractured as many militants flocked to the more extremist Islamic State as it seized territory in Iraq, Syria, and Libya.

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It remained active in North Africa’s largest desert and often scarcely governed the Sahel region.

In Mali, it focussed its activities on the north in Libya and Tunisia. As Islamic State waned, it has sought to lure new talent from among IS veterans.

Parly said that French forces, which number about 5,100 in the region, had also on May 19 captured Mohamed el Mrabat, a fighter she identified as a veteran militant in the region and member of Islamic State in the Greater Sahara.

“Our forces, in cooperation with their local partners… will continue to track these (people) down without respite,” Parly said.

Critics in the region have increasingly scorned Paris for failing to restore stability.

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Anti-French sentiment has grown as militants have strengthened their foothold, making large swathes of territory ungovernable and stoking ethnic violence.

Parly said earlier this week that about 100 special forces from other European countries would be deployed to the region to support French and regional troops.

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Photos of US village housing Americans practising Yoruba culture

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Africans in South Carolina have found a means to preserve one of Nigeria’s oldest and most popular culture, that of the Yoruba.

This is Oyotunji village in South Carolina.

The community was founded by a black American named Walter Eugene King who was born on October 5, 1928, in Detroit, Michigan, USA.

Eugene went to the Cass Technical High School and got fascinated by the African culture.

He also got exposed to the Katherine Dunham Dance Troupe at the age of 20 which increased his love for the African culture, particularly that of the Yorubas.

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On August 26, 1959, Eugene became the first African born in America to become fully initiated into the Orisa-Vodun African priesthood by African Cubans in Matanzas, Cuba. This marked the beginning of the spread of Yoruba religion and culture among African Americans.

With a few followers, and after the dissolution of the Order of Damballah Hwedo, Eugene founded the Sango Temple in New York and incorporated the African Theological Arch Ministry in 1960.

MORE READING!  Photos of US village housing Americans practising Yoruba culture

The Sango Temple was relocated and renamed the Yoruba Temple the same year.

In the fall of 1970, Eugene founded the Yoruba Village of Oyotunji in Beaufort County South Carolina and began the careful reorganization of the Orisa-Vodu Priesthood along traditional Nigerian lines. He was initiated to the Ifa priesthood by the Oluwa of Ijeun at Abeokuta, Nigeria, in August of 1972.

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He was named king of Oyotunji community in 1972 with the designation, His Royal Highness Oba (King) Ofuntola Oseijeman Adelabu Adefunmi I, born Baba Adefunmi.

He later died and his son, Adefunmi Adejuyigbe took over as king.

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UPDATE: Hushpuppi denied bail, to remain in prison

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HushPuppy

Suspected Nigerian fraudster and Instagram celebrity, Hushpuppi has been denied bail in the United States where he was extradited to on charges of cyber fraud.

Ramon Abbas bail application failed in spite of his lawyer, Gal Pissetzky insisting that his job as an Instagram celebrity paid for the $10,000 monthly rent on his luxury Dubai flat.

His lawyer, Gal Pissetzky, had applied for bail and requested that he is given an ankle monitor while he lives with the uncle of a woman he has a baby with, but US prosecutors opposed the bail application.

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US prosecutors said that he poses a flight risk and could commit a crime with just a smartphone and an internet connection.

On reaction, Pissetzky stated that Hushpuppi has much to lose if he flees after bail, he told a judge in Chicago by videolink;

“He is loved and respected. He is a celebrity.

“I don’t see the reason why he would want to ruin his credibility in the world and his status rather than stay here and face this allegation.

“Anywhere he goes, people will know. Having grown up very poor in Nigeria, Mr Abbas is now paid to pose with high-priced items such as Louis Vuitton bags that people would buy after seeing his posts on Instagram.

“He is an influencer. That’s a job today, as much as it is hard to imagine. That’s a full-time job.”

Judge Jeffrey Gilbert who watched the proceedings from a prison video link, denied Hushpuppi bail on grounds of him being a flight risk. Gilbert ordered that the suspected Nigerian fraudster be remanded in custody until he is taken to a court in California.

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EFCC presents witnesses against Mompha’s alleged accomplices

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has presented witnesses against Mompha’s alleged accomplices, Kayode Phillips and Hamza Koudeih before Justice Muslim S. Hassan of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos.

Philips and Koudeih are alleged to be high-valued targets in Organized Cyber Syndicate Network (OCSN). They were arraigned on November 28, 2019, on 25-count charges bordering on conspiracy and money laundering.

One of the charges read;

“That you, Kayode Phillips (a.k.a Voice of the King) and Hamza Koudeih (a.k.a. HK), sometime in May 2019 within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, conspired among yourselves to commit an offence to wit conversion of the aggregate sum of $7, 069, 000 (Seven Million, Sixty-nine Thousand United States Dollars), £1, 000, 000 (One Million Pounds) and €80,000 (Eighty Thousand Euro) which sums you reasonably ought to have known form part of the proceeds of fraud and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Sections 18 (a), 15 (2)(d) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2015 and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.”

Buhari, a forensic expert with the EFCC, gave a detailed account of the findings he made on the computer hard disk and two mobile phones recovered from Philips, the first defendant.

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He disclosed that these included the lead document and transfer instructions to some people.

“My lord, I also found in the phones, chats between the first defendant and some other people, where he was discussing how to market each lead document to them,” he said.

They, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges, thus setting off their trial.

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Justice Hassan subsequently adjourned the matter till July 20 and 21, 2020 for ruling and continuation of trial.

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