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Lead contaminated water kills children in Nigeria

Lead poisoning has taken the lives of at least 163 individuals in the northern Nigerian state of Zamfara in recent weeks. Sometime during March residents of remote villages began illegally mining gold in areas of high lead concentration. There have been a total of 355 reported cases, setting the fatality rate at 46%.

According to Henry Akpan, chief epidemiologist at Nigeria’s Ministry of Health, 111 of the 163 recorded deaths have been children, many only several years old. Akpan further said that officials had seen young children playing in contaminated water located near the mining sites.

The government had found through their yearly immunization program that there were almost no children living in the villages of Zamfara. Adults from the area reported that the children had died of malaria. However, after an investigation, health officials concluded that there was an abnormally large amount of lead circulating in the villagers’ bodies. Read More…

Nigeria swears in new president

Goodluck Jonathan, the acting president of Nigeria, was formally sworn in today, several hours after president Umaru Yar’Adua died.

Goodluck Ebele Jonathan

The oath of office was administered in the capital Abjua. According to the constitution, Jonathan will be the country’s leader until next elections next April; he is also to nominate a vice president, who must be approved by the senate.

Jonathan already has been running the country when he became acting president since February, when Yar’Adua was hospitalised in Saudi Arabia for medical treatment.

After being sworn in, Jonathan made an address. “While this is a major burden on me, and indeed the entire nation, we must – in the midst of such great adversity – continue to gain our collective efforts towards upholding the values which our departed leader represented […] One of the true tests will be that all votes count, and are counted, in our upcoming presidential election,” he said.

Yar’Adua, aged 58, was buried earlier in the Katsina state; the government has declared a week of mourning.

Nigerian President Yar’Adua has died

Presidential aides and state television announced yesterday that the Nigerian president, Umaru Yar’Adua, died.

Umaru Yar'Adua

Yar’Adua ascended to the presidency in 2007, but was later taken ill, and had not been publicly seen for the last few months.

He was hospitalised in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to get inflammated tissue around his heart treated; it was later diagnosed as acute pericarditis.

According to the BBC, Nigerian reports indicated the president died between 21.00 and 22.00 local time (20.00 to 21.00 UTC) in Abuja, the capital.

Goodluck Jonathan, the vice-president, became the acting president this February; under the constitution, he is to now be sworn in formally and will appoint a new vice-president.

The Nigerian Television Authority broadcast the news, saying: “The president and commander-in-chief of the armed forces, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, died a few hours ago at the presidential villa. Security aides notified the national security adviser, General Anou Bissou, who immediately called the acting president. The late president has been ill for some time.” Read More…

Several killed in Nigeria riots

Fresh violence has broken out in the central Nigerian city of Jos earlier today, killing at least five people, according to witness reports.

The clashes began when the body of a seventeen year old Muslim teenager, supposedly strangled, was thrown onto a main street in the town in a sack, prompting riots. The Agence France-Presse (AFP) news service reports the dead body was that of a seventeen-year-old student.

The area has seen repeated conflicts between Christians and Muslims in the past. Read More…

Nuclear Security Summit

President Barack Obama open the 47-nation Nuclear Security Summit in Washington.  The president says he wants new commitments to secure weapons-grade plutonium and uranium to prevent nuclear terrorism.

With concerns about the nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea a major backdrop to the conference, this is the biggest U.S.-sponsored gathering of world leaders in more than 60 years.

The New START treaty was signed on April 8, 2010 in Prague by U.S. President Obama and Russian President Medvedev and Iran will hold the Tehran International Conference on Disarmament and Non- Proliferation, 2010, announced on April 4, 2010 and to be held April 17–18, 2010.

The Summit is the largest gathering of heads of state called by a United States president since the 1945 United Nations Conference on International Organization. Delegations from forty-six governments plus the United States are attending, thirty-eight of which are represented by heads of state or government. Read More…

Nigeria’s cabinet dissolved

Nigeria’s acting president, Goodluck Jonathan, has announced the dissolution of the country’s cabinet.

In a statement after a cabinet meeting, Nigeria’s information minister, Dora Akunyili, said that “the acting president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, dissolved the Federal Executive Council [cabinet].” In the same statement, Akunyili said that Jonathan had provided no reason for the move, although analysts said that it was due to the impediment of the cabinet to Jonathan’s efforts to put his own mark on the office.

According to Akunyili, the move would not lead to a power vacuum, as the permanent secretaries will step up to take the positions vacated. Jonathan had taken over the role of acting president in February after President Umaru Yar’Adua temporarily stepped down due to sickness, and the cabinet had been entirely appointed by Yar’Adua. Read More…

Gaddafi encourages Nigeria to split into two nations

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has said that Nigeria should be divided into two separate nations to avoid further violence between Muslims and Christians. He was quoted saying that the spilt “would stop the bloodshed and burning of places of worship”.

During his speech to students, Gaddafi spoke about the partition in India and Pakistan. He called the division of India a “historic, radical solution” which saved the lives of “millions of Hindus and Muslims” despite reports that one million people were killed. Read More…