Thursday, December 31, 2015

Minister enjoins chiefs to help fight negative cultural practices


Sandema (U/E), Dec. 31, GNA - Mr James Zuugah Tiigah, the Upper East Regional Minister has enjoined the Paramount Chief of Sandema Traditional Area and his sub-chiefs to support government in the fight against social deviations among the youth of the area.

Mr Tiigah said alcoholism and drug abuse, child betrothal and early marriages were affecting the social fabric of society and urged all to help deal with the social canker.

He said those deviations were potential threats that could derail culture and its positive influence on national integration and development.

The Regional Minister made the call when he addressed chiefs and people of the Bulug Traditional Area in Sandema during the celebration of the Feok Festival, on the theme; 'To enhance our cultural heritage for wealth creation and community development'.

It was also an occasion to give thanks to the ancestors and to commemorate the defeat of slave trade during the invasion of Babatu and Samori.

Mr Tiigah, who was full of praise of the exhibition of the rich culture of the people, said culture was dynamic and required that people continued to stick to only the positive aspects and protect the rich ideals, values and traditions against negative foreign influence.

To this effect, he noted that the government had put in place programmes to harness the rich culture of the people to propel national growth and attract tourism and revenue.

He stated that 'culture has become a rich business because of its inextricable link to tourism and creative arts'.

Mr Tiigah said Government would continue to roll out programmes and policies that would put people first and said in 2016 a total of 100,000 youth will be recruited under the Youth Employment Agency to help in community development aside other programmes meant for youth development such as the Youth Enterprise Support (YES) and Skills Development Fund among others.

Nab Azagzuk Azantillow II, Paramount Chief of Sandema Traditional Area, reiterated the call on the youth to refrain from alcoholism and negative tendencies that impacted on their lives.

He appealed to district and municipal assemblies to cease issuing licenses for sale of Akpeteshi as its consumption did more harm than good to the people, saying 'there are better ways of increasing internally generated funds of assemblies than imposition of Akpeteshi fees'.



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Lawra District is plagued with increasing land tussles


Lawra, (UWR), Dec. 31, GNA - The Lawra District in the Upper West Region, is plagued with increasing land tussles making it difficult for the district assembly to site and execute development projects.

The district is currently battling with four land tussles between Domwini and Boo, Domwini and Baazing and Yikpee and Orbile communities.

The Lawra Senior High School (SHS) and Tuori community are also involved in a similar land tussle, Dr Musheibu Mohammed Alfa, Deputy Regional Minister and Acting Lawra District Chief Executive said in a speech read on his behalf at Lawra District Town Hall Meeting.

He said the Domwini and Boo community land dispute nearly caused the withdrawal of a Community Day SHS allocated to the district while the Domwini and Baazing community land disagreement resulted in the suspension of a Climate Change Adaptation Sub-project under the Ghana Social Opportunities Project.

The Deputy Regional Minister appealed to the Lawra Traditional Council to come up with a comprehensive road map which would address the issue of community land boundaries in the district.

Dr Alfa entreated traditional rulers and assembly members to collaborate with their area councils to earmark land boundaries for development purposes, adding that it would help facilitate the implementation of projects and reduce disputes.

On education, Dr Alfa expressed regret about the decline in the Basic Education Certificate Examination from 28.4 per cent in 2014 to 26.3 per cent in 2015 despite several interventions.

He announced that the assembly in 2015 sponsored 47 females and 86 male students and trainees as part of its human development agenda.

Dr Alfa said the assembly had completed the construction of three Community-Based Health Planning Services compounds while three are under construction in addition to one number three- unit bedroom doctor's bungalow at the Lawra Hospital.

Naa Puowele Karbo II, Paramount Chief of Lawra said although Ghana has an effective decentralised system, the problem is how to implement it to reap the maximum benefits.

He referred to the town hall meeting as one of the effective ways of implementing the decentralisation system as it encourages citizens participation in decision making.

Naa Kaabo stated however that the people need to have access to adequate and accurate information to be able to participate effectively in the development process.

He charged the assembly to be forthcoming with information such that the citizens would become properly informed and contribute effectively to make the decentralisation system meaningful and a reality.



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Assistant Registrar for Parliament as Independent Candidate


Jukwa (C/R), Dec. 31, GNA - The 2016 Parliamentary Election at the Hemang Lower Denkyira Constituency of the Central Region will not be the usual battle between candidates of the two major political parties, as an independent candidate has emerged.

Mr. Kwabena Antwi-Konadu, an Assistant Registrar at the University of Cape Coast (UCC) publicly declared his intention to contest in the election as an independent candidate at a media launch of his political journey at Jukwa, a town in the Constituency on Tuesday.

He has green, red, white, black and blue as his colours, with a bell as his symbol and 'Time Aso oo! Time Aso!', meaning 'It's Time', as his slogan.

The native of Denkyira is optimistic he could match the candidates from the various political parties boot to boot and eventually win the mandate to represent the people.

Mr. Antwi-Konadu, who is also a Senior Broadcast Journalist and Manager of Atlantic (ATL) FM, a UCC-based radio station, said his interaction with the chiefs and people of the area had revealed they needed a visionary and a selfless person to lead in the total development of the Constituency.

'We need people with track record in leadership and service…people with integrity to champion the political, socio-economic transformation of our community,'' he stated, amidst the ringing of bells interspersed with shouts of 'Time Aso oo! Time Aso.

Mr. Antwi-Konadu enumerated some of the key issues he would tackle when given the nod to include both formal and informal education, youth empowerment, women and children's affairs, infrastructure and agriculture especially cocoa, oil palm and other staples.

The part-time Lecturer described himself as trustworthy, resourceful, a lobbyist, a team player, people centered, development oriented and an emotionally sound person, with a demonstrable track record of transformational leadership and pledged to serve as a catalyst for development.

He allayed fears that he would lose as an independent candidate, explaining that election victory was not based on party membership but on sympathizers, and this he said was evident in the fact that no political party in the country could boast of two million registered members.

'Whether you belong to a party or not, you are invited to join this movement because our agenda is the total development of our area. This movement is non-discriminatory in nature. It is about time that we reflected on negative partisan considerations so that our community will be developed.'

Asked if he had defected from any party as being speculated, the Management and communication consultant dared any individual or political party with proof to come out, adding that he had no squabbles with any party.



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Ghana's democracy lacks will to fight corruption


Accra, Dec 31, GNA - Former President Jerry John Rawlings on Thursday said Ghana's democratic dispensation, especially since the year 2000, appears to lack the will, the capacity and the ability to fight corruption.

'It appears that the colour of this democracy is very different from the democracy that we knew from 1982 to 1992; and also very different from the colour of the democracy that we knew from the constitutional period from 1992 to 2000.

'The colour of those revolutions contains the strong elements of justice, simpleness and freedom and the spirit of defiance to contain wrong doing. We should be asking ourselves what happened, especially from the year 2000.'

Former President Rawlings was speaking at a wreath laying ceremony and parade at the Revolutionary Square in Accra to mark the 34th Anniversary of the 31st December Revolution.

He said: 'The colour of this democracy seems to be too different from what we used to know; from the spirit of defiance that could contain the greed, the selfishness that had given rise to so much corruption and pain in this country.

'I keep hammering on this issue and I will continue to do so. I keep reminding ourselves that the colours of the revolution are extremely important, that we do everything possible to recapture that spirit before it becomes too late.

'I keep saying the people of this country are peace loving people; and is important that we do not take the peace loving nature of Ghanaians for granted,' he stated.

He said there is the need to reignite the spirit of the 31 and June 4 revolutions; adding that 'otherwise we may not be able to reach our destination'.

'The time has come for us to start looking at those who profited from the change in colour starting from 2000, and those who are profiting from it now,' he said.

'This ceremony as simple as it is should never be lost on us. The marking of the 31st December Revolution should serve as a reminder of what led to the June 4th 1979 and the 31st December 1981 Revolutions,' he added.

This year, Assistant Commissioner of Police Nuhu Jango, Nima Divisional Police Commander, lit the revolutionary perpetual flame on behalf of the former President.

Nii Laryea Afotey Agbo, Greater Accra Regional Minister, laid a wreath on behalf of the people of Ghana.

The rest were Chief Inspector Courage Datsormor (Rtd), Ms Rejoice Ahiable, Cadre Corps Vice Chair, Nii Doo Naskie, Otublohum Mantse and Acting President of the Ga Traditional Council also laid wreaths on behalf of the security services, the cadres and traditional rulers.

Nii Tettey II, 2015 Greater Accra Regional Best Fisherman and Mr Napoleon Harrison, a farmer, jointly laid one on behalf of farmers and fishermen of Ghana; while Mr Benjamin Laryea, the Vice President of the Tertiary Educational Institutions Network of the National Democratic Congress laid one on behalf of the youth.

The parade was mounted by a contingent of 96 Young Cadres drawn from tertiary and second cycle institutions in the country.

It would be recalled that on December 31, 1981, former President Rawlings overthrew the then democratically elected government of President Hilla Limann's People's National Party (PNP) to form the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) government.



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Nigeria demands MTN pay $3.9 bn telecoms fine as deadline expires


Abuja (AFP) - Nigeria said it was expecting telecoms giant MTN to meet a deadline for paying a record $3.9 billion fine which expires Thursday, despite the South African operator challenging the penalty in court.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the country's telecoms regulator, had in October fined the firm for missing a deadline to disconnect 5.1 million unregistered SIM cards, citing security concerns in a country plagued by frequent kidnappings and an extremist Islamist insurgency Boko Haram.

It imposed a thumping $5.2 billion fine, later reduced to $3.9 billion (3.6 billion euros) following an appeal by MTN.

"If MTN fails to meet the deadline today (Thursday), the regulatory body will enforce the fine," Nigerian communications ministry spokesman Victor Oluwadamilare told AFP.

Oluwadamilare said the pending legal proceedings had nothing to do with the payment deadline, saying "the court case is not tantamount to extending the deadline."

Johannesburg-based MTN declined to offer a detailed response on Thursday, but said earlier this month it would launch a legal challenge in the Federal High Court in Lagos against the fine, and expected all parties "to restrain from taking further action" until the case was concluded.

MTN disconnected the millions of unregistered subscribers in Nigeria at the end of August, it reported in its quarterly performance update in October, adding that 3.4 million of those subscribers had since been reconnected.

Nigeria's four major phone companies have routinely been fined in the past for regulatory infractions but none has received as big a punishment as MTN.

The initial fine of $5.2 billion was more than MTN's total sales in Nigeria in 2014 and the equivalent of about 37 percent of the group's total revenue, according to Bloomberg News.

-'Really unusual'-

Analysts fear Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari's decision to fine MTN will deter investors at a time when it is reeling from the plunging price of oil, down more than 60 percent from recent peaks seen in summer 2014.

Nigeria expects its 2016 deficit to double from last year to 2.2 trillion naira ($11 billion) as it triples capital expenditure in a bid to thwart an economic crisis.

"The fine is really unusual, it's far and away bigger than anything we've seen globally and anything we've seen in Nigeria," Amy Cameron, telecoms analyst at BMI Research, a market research firm, told AFP.

"On the surface what this looks like is plugging the government's deficit."

Cameron said it is unclear why the NCC insists on enforcing the fine. "Normally when it goes to arbitration like this, it would make sense that the NCC can't impose the fine until there's a decision from the court," she said, speaking from London.

"I would expect that it's highly unlikely that MTN would pay anything."

Nigeria, Africa's most populous country of 170 million people, is MTN group's largest market with 62.8 million subscribers.

It operates in 22 countries in Africa and the Middle East.

"MTN is committed to Nigeria and it's going to stay there. Nigeria is its most profitable market and it has no intention of leaving," said Cameron.

Africa's largest oil producer has seen its public purse shrivel when the price of crude collapsed as a result of oversupply.



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Total commitment will lead to productivity


The management of Lakeside Estate has underlined ‘total commitment’ as the key to productivity at its End of Year Party to reward hard working staff for their selfless dedication towards the development of the Company.

The Managing Director, Noble Prince-Joseph M.K. Ayiku, speaking on the theme, “Achieving Productivity through Total Commitment,” said there was the need for workers irrespective of being in the public or private sector, to give their time and energy willingly to increase productivity for better returns.

Individually and collectively, we need to take a stand and resolve to be outstanding in order to be productive, and we can do this by maintaining the highest standards in our various field of work.’

He added that it was better to have few committed employees than having many non-committed employees because it was the committed employees that drive the successes of the company.

To buttress his point, Mr. Ayiku quoted a renowned motivational speaker Paul J, Meyer, who once said: “Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning and focused effort.’

"If you fail to plan, you plan to fail, a statement I am sure we are all familiar with, highlights the importance of planning and especially intelligent planning as pointed out by Mr Paul Meyer."

In fact having a bad plan is worse than having no plan at all. It is considered the basic butter for the productivity cake by Laura Stack. Intelligent planning, therefore, entails research work and strategic thinking. It is a continuous process of looking at what is going wrong to fix it and what is going right to continue.

To be productive, requires planning, setting personal and corporate targets, datelines and prompt execution.

He further called for a critical look at the threat of social media to productivity at the workplace. He said according to data compiled by a research team in the United States of America (USA) more than 12.2 billion productive hours were spent on social media network every day in the that country.

He further said that the study discovered that the situation costs the US economy around $650 billion per year and roughly $4,452 to a company per year. He advised them to shun away from social media such as ‘Facebook and Whatsapp’ during working hours since it impedes productivity.

He, however, commended workers for their immense contributions, hard work and energy towards the development of the company.

He said the year was difficult for the business community especially those in the Real Estate Industry due to the severe energy crisis, depreciation of the Cedi, rising inflation and interest rates and the prevailing low international oil prices.

Mr. Ayiku called on the government to find a lasting solution to the energy crisis in the Country. He advised the general public to be at peace with each other and hold fast to the Lord as the country prepares towards 2016 general election. Mr. Ayiku again urged employees to strive to acquire new knowledge and skills in the new trend in real estate to increase productivity in the coming year.

He commended the awardees for working hard and motivated staff to do their best in the upcoming years so that they would also be awarded.

Mr. Ayiku said the challenges of 2016 may not be different from 2015, however, we must not lose hope but rather hold fast to the Lord our God as we have done until now (Joshua 23:8) further imploring them to always pray for the nation for peaceful election 2016.



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What a difference a year makes as Ebola-free zone brings in 2016


Freetown (AFP) - Banned from gathering in public as the death toll crept towards five figures, the people of west Africa's Ebola-hit nations could hardly have had a worse New Year's Eve 2014.

Spool forward 12 months however and Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea are preparing to party as they usher in 2016 hoping to have seen the back of an epidemic which eventually left more than 11,000 dead over two years.

With Guinea declared free of the outbreak this week, Sierra Leone in the clear since November and Liberia going more than a month with no new infections, the region has much reason for New Year optimism.

Sierra Leone's capital Freetown was shaping up Thursday to reclaim its mantle as host of some of the best New Year's Eve beach parties in Africa as revellers scared away by Ebola began flocking back to its palm-fringed white sand shoreline.

The city of 1.2 million was deserted 12 months ago, with public gatherings and even church services banned as people were confined to their homes amid the worst Ebola outbreak in history.

The national electricity board in the power-starved nation has announced its intention to supply the country with a rare 20 unbroken hours of electricity during the festivities.

- 'No more sorrow' -

Franklyn Smith, 35, is among an estimated 1,000 migrants expected to return home for the holidays.

"By this time last year, regular power supply was unheard of as people worried too much about Ebola, so this New Year's Eve I am going to dance and party until the cock crows," he said, swigging beer jubilantly.

"No more sadness, no more sorrow -- Ebola is gone."

Celebrations away from the beaches will be muted, however, as the country remembers its 4,000 victims from 29,000 Ebola cases across the region.

"We were all tormented as to who would be the next Ebola victim so this time we must give thanks and praise to God for saving our lives," said 90-year-old grandmother Sarian Peters.

Liberia celebrates New Year with hopes high it will be declared free of Ebola transmission in mid-January, after discharging its last two patients on December 3.

Francis Karteh, the chief medical officer and head of the Ebola incident management team, said the climate of fear gripping the country 12 months ago was largely absent.

"There will be no specific measures in various places of gathering as it was the case last year," he told AFP.

- 'Au revoir, Ebola' -

Churches in Monrovia, closed last year with the crisis just passing its peak, are expected to be packed in the Christian-majority country.

"I am going to church tonight with my entire family, first to tell God thank you for saving our lives during the Ebola crisis, and to ask God to continue protecting the family from the deadly disease," said Mary Bono, 56.

Alfred Wesseh, 25, told AFP he would also be attending a church service but added that he would find time to celebrate in a less pious way afterwards, with bars that were shuttered last New Year's Eve expecting a roaring trade.

"From church we are going to a club to wait for the new year to show its face. This is just a prelude," he told AFP as he sat drinking with friends at a bar in downtown Monrovia.

Guinea celebrated early with "Bye bye, au revoir Ebola", a concert in the former French colony's capital Conakry on Wednesday bringing together a host of African stars including Senegalese singer-songwriter Youssou N'Dour.



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ADB denies reports MD will quit next month


The Agricultural Development Bank has denied media reports that its MD Stephen Kpordzih s stepping down by January 2016.

The denial follows reports that the MD’s contract has not been renewed by the Board, per a letter handed over to him on December 29, 2015.

But in statement, the bank said “We wish to state emphatically that there has not been any communication from the board to the Managing Director about the non-renewal of his contract”

According to the statement, its last Board meeting was on the 23rd December 2015 and the future status of the Managing Director, Mr. Stephen Kpordzih was not part of the agenda and was never discussed since his contract extension has not expired.

It adds that the Marketing & Communications department of the bank is always available for any clarification on issues and we hope the radio station will explore the cordial relationship that exists.



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Congo to hold early presidential elections on March 20


Brazzaville (AFP) - The Republic of Congo will hold early presidential elections in March, authorities said, after a new constitution removed barriers to President Denis Sassou Nguesso extending his rule.

Elections for a head of state were due to be held in July after the controversial new charter, which removed a 70-year age limit and ban on presidents serving more than two terms, was approved by a public vote.

But 72-year-old Nguesso, who was president from 1979 to 1992 and has since served two consecutive seven-year mandates, said he wanted to bring the election forward to usher in a "new dynamic" after the referendum.

"The council of ministers decided to convene the electorate on Sunday, March 20, 2016, for the first round of elections for the president of the republic," said an account of the meeting on Wednesday.

Congo's constitutional court last month said 94 percent of voters had backed changing the charter in the October referendum, although the opposition has dismissed the vote as "a constitutional coup".



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Ex-military officer arrested in Tamale in recruitment scam


Tamale, Dec. 30, GNA - One John Dramani Sulemana, a 34-year-old ex-military person, has been arrested by the Northern Regional Police Command for allegedly defrauding five persons with the pretext of recruiting them into the police and military services.

Sulemana who allegedly defrauded his victims of a total of GH₵ 12,970 would be arraigned on January 4, 2016 with the charge of defrauding by false pretext and impersonation.

Assistant Superintendant of Police (ASP) Ebenezer Tetteh, Regional Police Public Relations Officer, told the Ghana News Agency in Tamale on Wednesday that the suspect was arrested last week with charges of attempting to sell a rented vehicle in Tamale.

He said upon the arrest, many people who were allegedly defrauded by the suspect rushed to the police station.

ASP Tetteh said the suspect convinced his prospective clients that he was a colonel in the military service and therefore stood a better chance of getting them recruited.

He explained that a preliminary background checks on the suspect indicated that from 2006-2012, was in the army with the rank of a sergeant stationed at the education unit in Accra but disserted his post was subsequently dismissed.



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Blue Cross Foundation cares for the aged


Akyem Adukrom(E/R), Dec. 30, GNA - The Blue Cross Foundation of Accra, a non-governmental organization that provides healthcare for the aged and the deprived, has organized a health screening exercise for the aged at Akyem Adukrom near Kyebi.

The Foundation also provided medication to those who after the screening need some prescription.

Speaking at the screening programme, Ms Faustina Gyimah, founder and President of the Foundation, said the Foundation targeted 200 aged persons but had to care for over 500 people.

She said the people were screened for malaria, diabetes, cold and high blood pressure.

Ms Gyimah said there are more aged people living in deprived communities who needed good health care and appealed to corporate institutions and individuals to sponsor the Foundation to organize similar programmes for more of such people.

Ms Gyimah expressed her appreciation to those who sponsored the programme including M& G Pharmaceuticals of Accra, Pharmanova , IPMC and Radio One of Bunso Junction.

Mr Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo, former Minister of State, who hails for the village said, he started school at the village and has returned to offer the needed support.

The Chief of Akyem Adukrom, Nana Oppong Ofori II, thanked the Foundation , the medical team and all those who contributed to the success of the programme.



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Former Compaore ally elected head of Burkina Faso national assembly


Ouagadougou (AFP) - Burkina Faso's Salif Diallo, a former right-hand man of ousted president Blaise Compaore, was elected head of the national assembly, the country's second most powerful position.

The 58-year-old was voted in by lawmakers the day after Roch Marc Christian Kabore was sworn in as the west African nation's first new leader in almost 30 years.

The two men were among the founders of the Movement of the People of Progress (MPP) party, which came top in polls last month that were seen as key to ending more than a year of political upheaval.

Both were also former close allies of Compaore, who was ousted in a popular revolt in October 2014 after trying to extend his almost three decades in power.

Diallo, who was backed by 78 out of the assembly's 127 members, called on lawmakers to fight against "the scourge of corruption (and) nepotism" in a speech to parliament.

Once considered among the most loyal of the ex-president's allies, Diallo served in various positions in Burkina Faso's government over the course of some two decades.

But in January 2014 he left to become one of the founding members of the MPP along with Kabore and other political dissidents that have become the leading figures of the opposition.



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Traditional Council shows appreciation to 90-year old retired teacher


Nkawie (Ash), Dec. 30, GNA - A 90-year old retired teacher, Mr. Charles Otoo Odeng, has been honored by the Nkawie Traditional Council for affecting the lives of many through his good works.

He was presented with a plaque and showered with other gifts at a special ceremony held to coincide with his 90th birthday.

On hand to perform to add more glamour to the occasion was the Winneba Youth Choir.

Mr. Odeng, a native of Akwapim-Kubease, was posted to the Nkawie Anglican Middle School in 1959, where he was credited to have brought discipline and tremendous improvement to the academic performance of the pupils.

Celebrated heart surgeon, Professor Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, former Managing Director of the First Atlantic Bank, Dr. Adom Aduamoah, Works and Housing Minister, Dr. Kwaku Agyemang-Mensah, Dr. J. A. Barnie of the AGC Hospital, Obuasi and former Ambassador to the Czech Republic, Madam Veronica Kuffuor, are among the tall list of high profile personalities he taught.

Nana Antwi Agyei IV, the Nkawiehene, eulogized him for his exemplary leadership and sublime qualities of selflessness, discipline and service.

He said his commitment to the job and high sense of professionalism were just singular and admirable.

The chiefs and people would eternally remain grateful for his immeasurable contribution to the quality of education in the area, he added.

Dr. Barnie said it was good to show appreciation and recognize Mr. Odeng whilst he was still alive than to do that posthumously and saluted everybody who supported in diverse ways to make the ceremony a memorable one.

Mr. Odeng in a frail voice said he was overwhelmed and thanked the people for the honor.



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WHO commends Ghanaian for successful leadership in tackling influenza


Accra, Dec. 30, GNA - Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has commended Professor William Kwabena Ampofo, whose term as Chairman of the WHO Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Advisory Group (PIP is coming to an end.

The Ghanaian Head of PIP is an Associate Professor with the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, College of Health Sciences, University of Ghana, Legon.

In a letter to Dr Ampofo, Dr Chan said: 'I wish to take this opportunity to extend my deepest thanks to you for your valuable service to WHO and indeed to global health during this time.'

The PIP framework represents an historic advancement in the global community's work to prepare for future influenza pandemics.

The Framework was designed to ensure a more transparent and equitable system for sharing influenza viruses with pandemic potential, on the other hand, and improving the capacity of the global community to respond to influenza pandemics on the other.

'The work and deliberations of the Advisory Group under your stewardship over the past four years has moved towards these goals that are of great importance to international public health.

'The advice generated by the Advisory Group is critical for resolving issues that arise in connection with implementation of the PIP Framework and strengthening important capacities to allow all Member States to more effectively respond to an influenza pandemic,' she said.



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Ten communities empowered to manage disasters


Yameriga (U/E), Dec. 30, GNA - Ten communities in the Talensi District of the Upper East Region have been trained to identify and develop early warning systems for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR).

The beneficiary communities, noted to be disaster prone areas, include Yameriga, Yamsouk, Sawalga, Gbane and Sheaga ,Namolgo, Sawalga , Wuug, Santeng, Namolgo, Buugg and Yinduri.

Mr Awal Ahmed, the Executive Director of Rural Initiatives for Self-Empowerment-Ghana (RISE-Ghana), a Non-Governmental Organisation, with sponsorship from World Vision Ghana (WVG), speaking at separate functions, said as disaster prone communities, they needed appropriate skills to effectively manage and avert disasters.

He said the training was also aimed at building the existing knowledge and skills of the established Disaster Task Force teams formed by WVG in the District.

Mr Godfred Yao Agbenyeke, Programme Officer of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), who facilitated the training, urged the community members to collaborate to develop vulnerability maps for their various communities.

Mr Richard Ananga, the Acting Manager of WVG in charge of the Talensi Area Development Programme, said the WVG was more concerned with the welfare of children in the area.

'When disasters occur they result in poor household income and food insecurity which greatly affects the nutritional status of children as well as their ability to exercise their right to education', he said

Mr Ananga expressed the hope that the knowledge acquired would help the communities develop and sustain early warning systems to protect life and property and ensure the wellbeing of children.

The five communities were taken through principles of early warning systems and participatory activities which improve their early warning systems.



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US urges Ethiopia to free jailed journalists


Washington (AFP) - The White House demanded that Ethiopia stop using its controversial anti-terror law to jail journalists Wednesday, in an unusually stark rebuke for a key US ally in Africa.

National Security Council spokesman Ned Price did not name the reporters the United States is concerned for, but he spoke amid a harsh Ethiopian crackdown on dissent.

"We are deeply concerned by the recent arrests of other journalists in Ethiopia," Price said.

"We urge the Ethiopian Government to release journalists and all others imprisoned for exercising their right to free expression," he added.

The White House urged Ethiopia "to refrain from using its Anti-Terrorism Proclamation as a mechanism to silence dissent and to protect the rights of journalists, bloggers, and dissidents to write and speak freely as voices of a diverse nation."

On Saturday, Human Rights Watch reported that Ethiopian security forces had killed at least 75 demonstrators with live fire during weeks of regional anti-government protests.

US President Barack Obama visited the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, the seat of the African Union, in July, and Washington is seen as close to the government, headed by Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.

But, while admiring Ethiopia's strong economic growth and welcoming its role in peacekeeping missions, Washington has been cautious not to endorse its rights record.

In October, Washington welcomed the release of a previous group of dissident bloggers and journalists, but on Wednesday the White House warned Ethiopia against new arrests.

"The United States has consistently applauded Ethiopia for being a model and a voice for development in Africa," price said.



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#AfricaCanRise



Africa, our only home! 
Africa,  the hand of God!
Africa! Africa! Africa!

The fold of inflated skin that hangs as twins on her chest has shrink due to infinite sucking by old selfish and greedy stomachs that never get satisfied. Africa has lost her preserved virginity because our leaders have abused her and impregnated her with war,  with corruption and nepotism, because her resources have been misused and her pain increased. 

Africa has dropped her purity because the land has changed it's Godly ways and has embraced "gays"  and "lesbians" as part of our society. But a daughter or  son of a prostitute can still become a parish priest. So we the youth of this generation will rise and rebuild our Africa.  The place we seek, the land whose progress and perfection we seek, the only property we have left, and the only place we can boast of.

I AM A BLACK BOY AND I THINK,  AFRICA CAN RISE!!!!

But it starts within!!!

#africacanrise

--Ishew de poet--

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#instagram
#facebook
#taptrip
#youtube




Kodwo Edjah leads HASCO to achieve academic excellence


Half-Assini, (W/R), Dec. 30,GNA - The President of the Half Assini Senior High School Students Representative Council (SRC), Solomon Adonle Ackah has commended the immediate past Headmaster for leading the school to achieve academic excellence.

According to Master Ackah, Mr Kodwo Ekyenye Edjah was the only headmaster that led the school to record aggregates 7A ones and 6A ones in West Africa Senior Secondary Schools Certificate Examination in 2013 and 2014.

The subjects include Mathematics, English and Science.

He said the best aggregate for the school that was established in 1960 was 4A ones.

The President made this known at a sending-off party organised for Mr Edjah who retires from active service after thirty-nine years in the Ghana Education Service.

Master Ackah was speaking on the achievements of the former Headmaster during his nine years administration of the school at a send-off party.

It was organised by both teaching and non-teaching staff, students and Parents Teacher Association of the school

Mr Edjah was presented with Kente Cloth and a citation.

According to the SRC President, it was during the former headmaster's regime that the Science Resources Centre, Boys Dormitory, classroom blocks were renovated.

He said Mr Edjah also set up a new library and information communication technology centre, two Internet cafés.

Master Ackah stated a classroom block and a new assembly hall complex are under construction.

He said the former Headmaster has transformed and redeemed the school from its impoverished infrastructural facilities to its present status.

The Chairperson of the School's Board of Governors and former Western Regional Education Director, Ms Rebecca Afibah Dadzie, urged those appointed to position of trust to endeavour to perform creditably despite limited resources.

Mr Edjah attributed his achievements at the school to efforts of the staff.

He commended both the former and current boards, past and present students of the school and Jomoro District Assembly for their cooperation.

The new Headmaster, Mr Gershon Kweku Tsikata, said his predecessor has successfully accomplished his profession in teaching.

He said though retired, Mr Edjah needs to continue his services to the school.

The District Education Director, Mr Peter Blay Ackah Quayson, who chaired the ceremony said during the administration of Mr Edjah school enrolment increased from 500 in 2006 to 1,013 to date.



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President Mahama announces logistics package for fire service


Accra, Dec. 30, GNA - President John Dramani Mahama on Wednesday announced a logistics package for the staff and management of the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) to enhance fire fighting performance in the coming years.

He said apart from procuring 232 fire tenders for the service, government is also considering hydraulic ladders that would reached out to high rise buildings that are springing up in the country.

President Mahama announced this when he joined the management and staff of the GNFS at the 2015 end of year get-together in Accra.

The programme attracted officers of the service within and outside the capital and other patrons from the security services in the country.

President Mahama said the current hydraulic ladders the service could not go beyond six floors and it is therefore expedient to acquire the higher ones to make the GNFS well prepared for any eventuality, particularly now that there are buildings beyond 20 floors.

He said 24 more fire tenders are expected in the coming days, giving the assurance that all political districts would be equipped with fire tenders to become the best in West Africa.

The President said the service has identified fire prone areas in the country and would therefore provide more cover to ensure fire-free in those areas in the coming days.

He appealed to the leadership of the service to educate the public on their performance to avoid unnecessary negative criticisms they receive during fire outbreak.

Mr James Agalga, Deputy Minister of the Interior urged the staff and management to use the opportunity to review their performance and improve on areas they fell short in the performance of their duties.

He commended the service for their performance on June 3 floods and fire disasters that claimed more than 150 lives.

He said although there are financial allocation challenges, the service managed to perform its duties creditably to the admiration of Ghanaians.

Dr Albert Brown Gaise, Chief Fire Officer commended President Mahama for providing the necessary logistics to fight fires and other disasters within an average of 10 minutes unlike the past average of 30 minutes.

He said 824 fire safety systems have been installed at gas filling stations throughout the country, while other measures are underway to improve fire fighting.

He said a total of 638 personnel of the service in 2015 received training programmes to upgrade and build their capacity in fire fighting and other preventive measures.

Dr Gaisie however complained about inadequate water centres for the service to face the fire outbreaks at various locations.

Awards were given to past chief fire officers and other senior officers.



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Kufuor calls for peaceful elections


Accra, Dec. 30, GNA - Former President John Agyekum Kufuor has called for peaceful elections in 2016.

A statement signed by Mr Frank Agyekum, the Spokesperson/Special Aide to the former President and copied to the Ghana News Agency on Wednesday said 'Fellow Ghanaians, it gives me great pleasure to greet you on this New Year's Eve.

'My wish for our nation and all of us into the coming year, is a reprieve from the many and seemingly endless challenges that have beset us through the just ending year, 2015,' it said.

The statement said scandals and perceived corruption in governance and the society generally, socio-economic hardships such as unstable currency, unstable power supplies - undermining both industrial and domestic ventures.

It also mentioned executive bureaucratic delays in the public sector, especially at the ports, many industrial actions, protest demonstrations throughout the economy, sudden and high tariff increases for utilities, and ever-bloating national debt stock, have hall-marked the out-going year.

It said the incoming year, 2016, must be a year of decision for the nation to arrest this dangerous slump of the society and economy.

The statement said people must decide for good, efficient and accountable governance at all levels of government.

It said civil society organizations, traditional leaders and religious groups must assume responsible guidance within their remits to ensure that the entire citizenry of the nation live up to the spirit and letter of the national constitution which enshrines inclusive democracy as the way of life for all of us.

It said 2016 is significant because it is the year of Election for both the Presidency and the Legislature.

'The people must show through their conduct and choices that they understand the uses of the vote.

'Sustained transformation of society will not come through short-sighted and short-term inducements.

'We must examine critically the track records and manifestoes of the contending parties before we make our choices in the election,' it said.

It said the Electoral Commission must be resolute in its independence and impartiality as enjoined by the national constitution, in officiating the elections.

The statement said the security agencies of the nation must uphold the integrity and security of the national constitution and the state which are above all institutions, parties and individuals of the land.

'We must all resolve to enter and live through this New Year with this determination so that the outcome of the elections will ensure us with the government we can all accept and work with in good faith and in peace.

'This is how to give our nation and its citizenry the sustained peace and direction to real development and dignity that we must have,' it said.



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Stanbic Bank to make cashless transactions easier


Accra, Dec. 30, GNA - The world of payment is ever evolving with mobile technology currently spurring the payment revolution.

Consumption of goods in Africa rose to more than $1 trillion in 2012, from $364 million in 2000, an annual rate of growth of 10.7 percent, according to a McKinsey report.

With 50 per cent of the continent expected to have access to the internet by 2025, online shopping could account for 10 per cent of retail sales, or $75 billion.

The internet and mobile technologies are driving consumer behaviours that favour instant gratification which translates into instant access to banking facilities and self-service capabilities.

According to statistics from Bank of Ghana, mobile money transfer transactions have grown from 30 million in 2012 to over 110 million this year. The emerging sector employs about 20,000 people nationwide.

This cashless revolution is said to have started with credit cards, which enables both convenient and instant payment for goods and services.

Supporters of cashless payments say, aside saving cost and time, paying by card provides consumers with the ability to budget and manage their finances by tracking their spending.

Stanbic Bank has taken the drive towards a cashless society a notch further by rolling out the Visa Platinum Debit Card and two other packages - the Priority Pass and Lifestyle Benefits - to complement the banking and lifestyle needs of their Private Banking customers.

The Platinum card, which is a premium card in the Visa range of cards, comes with exclusive privileges to enhance the travel, shopping, dining and lifestyle needs of clients on their travels abroad.

'Non-cash payments have already overtaken cash payments and in a few years, e-payment will be commonplace and cash will be rarely used,' said Ben Mensah, Head of Personal Market adding that 'this card offers unparalleled convenience to our clients.'

The Priority Pass helps customers escape travel stress by providing exclusive access to 850 plush lounges at airports the world over.

'There is also the Lifestyle Benefits, which allows clients to enjoy special recognition at restaurants and other service centres in Ghana,' said Mr Mensah adding that 'clients would also enjoy shopping rewards that include a myriad of chic offers, discounts and privileges.'

Although traditional crime is reduced when economies go cashless, the risk of fraud online still looms large and security is still a concern for many.

Thus the Platinum cards have strong in-built security systems that monitor accounts 24 hours a day to help prevent, detect and resolve fraud on the cards.

Over the years, Stanbic Bank has come up with innovative products aimed at giving customers an unrivalled banking experience.

Other Stanbic Bank cashless products include Nbol, Slydepay, Moneywallet Multi Currency Card, Mobile and Internet Banking.

In the end, the Bank seeks to enable commerce to be more connected than ever, creating more value and benefits for businesses and consumers alike.



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Ghana needs bank for housing to improve sector


Accra, Dec. 30, GNA - Mr Sammy Amegayibor, the Executive Director of the Ghana Real Estate Developers Association (GREDA), has advocated the reestablishment of a real estate bank to improve the sector.

Mr Amegayibor said the bank is imperative due to the lack of access to affordable capital, adding that such an institution would help bridge the housing deficit.

A statement issued by Mr Fidel Amoah, the Content Manager of Lamudi Ghana and copied to the Ghana News Agency on Wednesday said the defunct Bank for Housing and Construction (BHC), which was established in the early 1990s, provided funding at affordable rates for real estate projects.

It said GREDA was then one of the main beneficiaries of the bank, ensuring that borrowing costs were minimised.

It noted that the Bank was however, liquidated in 2000 due to a downward spiral in financial fortunes, depriving the real estate sector of accessible funds.

Mr Amegayibor highlighted the importance of reestablishing such an institution, adding that the real estate industry needs a combination of accessible funds as well as mortgages to thrive.

'The Bank for Housing and Construction enabled GREDA members to borrow money at a very affordable rate to build houses,' he stressed.

'Together with HFC, whose original mandate then was to provide mortgages for house hunters, they created an enabling environment for the housing sector.

'This is because HFC provided a ready market for developers while paying the lump sum on behalf of homeowners.

'Concurrently, developers would have the requisite funds to pay back the loans obtained from BHC while BHC would be reimbursed to ensure the cycle continues,' he added.

Describing it as a 'perfect scheme', Mr Amegayibor said its resuscitation could expand the country's housing stock.

He added that the housing deficit would be reduced as a result.

Mr Amegayibor spoke against the practice of awarding public housing contracts to multinational companies.

He stated that it has yielded little dividends for the housing sector while having a negative effect on the country's local currency and economy.

'Awarding contracts to multinational companies is not the solution to Ghana's housing deficit. On short term bases, it may add a few houses on the market.

'However, housing is a long term investment and the current status quo is not sustainable for the sector.

'This is why we have to explore establishing housing facility institutions that can provide funding to developers to ensure more houses are built,' he said.

The Managing Director of Lamudi Ghana, Akua Nyame-Mensah said: 'The government needs to work closer with GREDA to ensure more affordable houses are built. A financial institution for housing may not be the ultimate solution to the country's housing deficit but could prove crucial.'

'The country's land tenure system also needs to be better streamlined to facilitate the process towards more affordable housing,' she added.

Launched in 2013, Lamudi is a global property portal focusing exclusively on emerging markets.

The fast-growing platform is currently available in 34 countries in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America, with more than 800,000 real estate listings across its global network.

The leading real estate marketplace offers sellers, buyers, landlords and renters a secure and easy-to-use platform to find or list properties online.



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Sydney's biggest show kicks off global party despite terror fears


Sydney (AFP) - Sydney will kick-start the global New Year's Eve party with its biggest fireworks display ever, but fear of jihadist attacks has cast a pall with Brussels scrapping celebrations and many cities tightening security.

The show from the Harbour Bridge and Opera House in Australia's largest city is traditionally the world's first major event to ring in the New Year.

Despite safety concerns, organisers are expecting a one million plus crowd before the chimes of midnight move across Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and finally the Americas.

"It just keeps getting better every year," said Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore, "with 2,400 more fireworks on the bridge than ever before and a host of exciting new effects lined up".

The 2016 theme is "City of Colour" and seven tonnes of fireworks will go up in smoke, including 11,000 shells, 25,000 shooting comets and 100,000 individual "pyrotechnics effects".

Hong Kong, Beijing, Singapore and other Asian cities may rival Sydney's pyrotechnic splash, but Brunei offers a sober evening after banning Christmas in a shift to hardline Islamic law.

Jakarta remains on high alert after anti-terror police foiled detailed plans for an alleged New Year suicide attack in the Indonesian capital.

- High security in Europe -

At the heart of Europe, annual festivities and fireworks in Brussels have been cancelled as the Belgian capital -- home to NATO and the European Union -- remains on high alert.

"It's better not to take any risks," mayor Yvan Mayeur said Wednesday after police arrested two people suspected of plotting to launch attacks during the festivities at Brussels landmarks.

The French capital, still reeling from the November 13 slaughter of 130 people, has also cancelled its fireworks display.

But authorities agreed France's biggest public gathering since the attacks can go ahead on the Champs Elysees avenue, with bolstered security.

"The people of Paris and France need this symbolic passage into the New Year," said Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo.

"After what our city has lived through, we have to send a signal to the world," she told the weekly Journal du Dimanche.

In Turkey, police have detained two Islamic State suspects allegedly planning to stage attacks in the centre of Ankara which is expected to be packed on New Year's Eve.

Meanwhile, in Moscow police will for the first time close off Red Square where tens of thousands of revellers traditionally gather.

"It's no secret that Moscow is one of the choice targets for terrorists," Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin said recently.

In Madrid, thousands of people will flock to Puerta del Sol square, however police will limit the number allowed in to just 25,000.

London is also trying to control the crowds by again charging for access to central riverside areas to see the fireworks, with more than 113,000 10-pound (US$15) tickets already sold.

Berliners will do better with about a million expected at the Brandenburg Gate for a free mega-street party.

- Party at the pyramids -

Cairo meanwhile is trying desperately to attract tourists to bolster the economy.

The government is staging celebrations in front of the pyramids near the Egyptian capital, with ambassadors, artists and intellectuals all invited.

Egypt has been in turmoil since the 2011 uprising but was further hit by the October 31 crash of a Russian airliner over the Sinai killing 224 people.

On the nearby Gaza Strip, the Islamist group Hamas has banned public New Year's Eve parties.

Police spokesman Ayman al-Batinji told AFP such celebrations were "incompatible with our customs, traditions, values and the teachings of our religion".

In stark contrast, Sierra Leone's capital Freetown is hoping to reclaim its mantle as host of the best beach parties in Africa after Ebola scared people away.

The city of 1.2 million was deserted 12 months ago during the worst Ebola outbreak ever recorded.

"This New Year's Eve I am going to dance and party until the cock crows," said 35-year-old Franklyn Smith.

Celebrations away from the palm-fringed beaches will be muted, however, as people remember almost 4,000 victims of the epidemic.

In New York, despite a pledge of tight security for Times Square, another million people are expected to turn out to see the ball descend.



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Fireworks to kick off global New Year party despite terror fears


Sydney (AFP) - Sydney will kick-start the global New Year's Eve party with its biggest fireworks display ever, but fear of jihadist attacks has cast a pall with Brussels scrapping celebrations and many cities tightening security.

The show from the Harbour Bridge and Opera House in Australia's largest city is traditionally the world's first major event to ring in the New Year.

Despite safety concerns, organisers are expecting a one million plus crowd before the chimes of midnight move across Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and finally the Americas.

"It just keeps getting better every year," Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said of the Aus$7 million (US$5.1 million), 12-minute fireworks extravaganza.

The 2016 theme is "City of Colour" and seven tonnes of fireworks will go up in smoke, including 11,000 shells, 25,000 shooting comets and 100,000 individual "pyrotechnics effects" under forecasts of a fine summer night sky.

Acknowledging Australia's Aboriginal culture, a "welcome to country" indigenous ceremony will also be marked through images projected on the bridge's pylons.

Hong Kong, Beijing, Singapore and other Asian cities may rival Sydney's pyrotechnic splash, but Brunei offers a sober evening after banning Christmas in a shift to hardline Islamic law.

Jakarta remains on high alert after anti-terror police foiled detailed plans for an alleged New Year suicide attack in the Indonesian capital.

- High security in Europe -

At the heart of Europe, annual festivities and fireworks in Brussels have been cancelled as the Belgian capital -- home to NATO and the European Union -- remains on high alert.

"It's better not to take any risks," mayor Yvan Mayeur said Wednesday after police arrested two people suspected of plotting to launch attacks during the festivities at Brussels landmarks.

The French capital, still reeling from the November 13 slaughter of 130 people, has also cancelled its fireworks display.

But authorities agreed France's biggest public gathering since the attacks can go ahead on the Champs Elysees avenue, with bolstered security.

"The people of Paris and France need this symbolic passage into the New Year," said Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo.

"After what our city has lived through, we have to send a signal to the world," she told the weekly Journal du Dimanche.

In Turkey, police have detained two Islamic State suspects allegedly planning to stage attacks in the centre of Ankara which is expected to be packed on New Year's Eve.

Meanwhile, in Moscow police will for the first time close off Red Square where tens of thousands of revellers traditionally gather.

"It's no secret that Moscow is one of the choice targets for terrorists," Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin said recently.

In Madrid, thousands of people will flock to Puerta del Sol square, however police will limit the number allowed in to just 25,000.

London is also trying to control the crowds by again charging for access to central riverside areas to see the fireworks, with more than 113,000 10-pound (US$15) tickets already sold.

Berliners will do better with about a million expected at the Brandenburg Gate for a free mega-street party.

- Party at the pyramids -

Cairo meanwhile is trying desperately to attract tourists to bolster the economy.

The government is staging celebrations in front of the pyramids near the Egyptian capital, with ambassadors, artists and intellectuals all invited.

Egypt has been in turmoil since the 2011 uprising but was further hit by the October 31 crash of a Russian airliner over the Sinai killing 224 people.

On the nearby Gaza Strip, the Islamist group Hamas has banned public New Year's Eve parties.

Police spokesman Ayman al-Batinji told AFP such celebrations were "incompatible with our customs, traditions, values and the teachings of our religion".

In stark contrast, Sierra Leone's capital Freetown is hoping to reclaim its mantle as host of the best beach parties in Africa after Ebola scared people away.

The city of 1.2 million was deserted 12 months ago during the worst Ebola outbreak ever recorded.

"This New Year's Eve I am going to dance and party until the cock crows," said 35-year-old Franklyn Smith.

Celebrations away from the palm-fringed beaches will be muted, however, as people remember almost 4,000 victims of the epidemic.

In the Philippines, stray bullets and exploding firecrackers have killed one person and injured almost 200 others as the country plunged into its annual chaotic revelry.

In New York, despite a pledge of tight security for Times Square, another million people are expected to turn out to see the ball descend.



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Pay greater attention to unit committees, MMDAs urged


Accra, Dec. 30, GNA - A local government expert has called on Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to motivate Zonal and Unit Committees to enable them to strengthen Ghana's decentralization process.

Mr Frederick Agyarko Oduro, Assistant Head of Department - Local Government Administration at the Institute of Local Government Studies, said this when he addressed members of the Social Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability (SPEFA) group at Adentan during their first quarter forum last Wednesday.

He expressed worry that these committees, which constituted important components of local government administration, were not receiving the necessary support and motivation to function effectively.

Mr Oduro, who spoke on the Local government System, with particular emphasis on decentralization, said empowering Unit Committees in particular would enable them to participate in the prioritization, implementation and monitoring of government programmes and projects.

The local government system, Act 462, he noted, was made up of Regional Coordinating Councils and four-tier metropolitan and three-tier Municipal/District Assemblies, Urban/Town and Area/Zonal Councils and Unit Committees.

Touching on the structures and roles of these bodies, Mr Oduro drew attention to service delivery standards that specified the minimum level of expected services in terms of quality, process, time and cost to be delivered to its clients.

These standards, he said, were based on unique circumstances of a district or community, including the description and benefits clients were entitled to receive, and specific delivery targets for key aspects of service, among many others.

Mr Oduro said there was the need for members of unit and zonal committees and larger society to be bold to approach assembly members who are representatives of their electoral areas mandated to interact with their constituencies at regular intervals.

He asked members of communities to talk to the client service units of metropolitan and Municipal Assemblies which receive complaints and address them.

They must again organize and attend town hall meetings which are open to everyone in a town or community where they can express their opinions, present ideas and ask questions for duty beaters, elected officials and political candidates to respond to them.

Responding to issues of poor sanitation, illegal structures, poor service delivery and education, Mr Oduro stressed the need for all members of society to seek redress through laid down mechanisms.

'You need to monitor the work of the assembly and to see to it that it delivers services efficiently,' he stressed, adding that the assembly is expected to offer certain minimum standards, especially with regard to projects, procurement of building permits, birth and death certificates.

During discussion, the SPEFA members asked questions bordering on over-politicization of the district assemblies, near demise of the Unit Committee system, use of drain water to cultivate vegetables, lack of enforcement of laws or by-laws, youth unemployment, and erection of illegal structures.

'You have a responsibility to report issues to the appropriate authorities. If somebody makes too much noise in your vicinity, you must report them. We must start complaining on issues that bother us all; we should all help our local government system,' Mr Oduro said.

'Please, don't stop complaining; we as a people fear to go to court but if the assembly is adamant, we should go to court. Let us use the complaint and court system to halt all unhealthy practices. You must go to the Presiding Officer's office and complain; even if you can't write, someone will do it for you,' he said.

Madam Nora Ollennu, Chief Executive Officer of Intervention Forum (IF), and focal person for the Adentan District Citizens Monitoring Committee (DCMC), in her First Quarter SPEFA report, dwelt on the need to build a learning community.

She also called for the need to attend SPEFA forums and town hall meetings to acquaint themselves with the local government system and service delivery standards.

Madam Ollennu , who is also the focal person for the Adentan DCMC, dwelt on growth and change which she said was something that must reflect in the lives of the people.

She referred to SPEFA theme of Knowledge, Wisdom and Money, saying they all spurred growth, adding that, without one of these, the three could not make any meaningful impact.

SPEFA, she said, sought to strengthen local government accountability mechanisms to ensure information flow between citizens and public officials, and raise awareness of the public on their rights to be involved in the development process as well as to establish an empowered body of citizens able to make justifiable choices and demands and forward same to the right doorsteps.

She also spoke at length on the good indicators of a good SPEFA forum and urged for full citizen participation to be able to fully meet the needs of the communities.

'We empower you to know your rights. We have the tools to empower you to move; we are giving you the information; we are showing you the way and we offer you the platform.'

Madam Ollennu said SPEFA, through its forums and town hall meetings, imparted knowledge to its members but expressed regret that information did not seep to the groups constituting SPEFA, and called for attitudinal change to make progress.



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Ghanas Reputation Hinges On 2016 Elections Akufo-Addo


Nana Akufo-Addo

Ghana's opposition leader has warned the media to be circumspect with their reportage in 2016 because the reputation of the country "hinges on the general elections."

Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said all eyes will be on the young oil-producing West African country as it holds its seventh presidential and parliamentary polls under the Fourth Republic.

He will be competing with incumbent John Dramani Mahama for the second time, having lost the 2012 elections.

Speaking at a cocktail party with the media to wrap up the year 2015, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) flagbearer noted the media has a crucial role to play to "ensure a free and fair election."

"We are about to enter our seventh election," the former Foreign Affairs minister told the gathering. "Ideally, this one should be the best election of all. Our whole reputation and image and profile in the world - peace and stability - hinges very much on how we are going to approach next year's elections."

He added: "Let us all involve ourselves in making sure that we have a free and fair election in Ghana next year. With that we guarantee ourselves a continuation of the peace and stability of our country."

Nana Addo said his government will focus on deepening Ghana's democracy, develop local power and authority and "I'm counting and relying on you to get our words to the people and not too much of a spin on them."

"I'm hoping that the next time we meet here, you'll be speaking to the president [of Ghana]."

The former attorney general admonished the media to be bold, focused and resolute because "you are defending those who can not speak and who constitute the majority. The year ahead of us is going to see a very vibrant cooperation among us.".

Source: Starrfmonline

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Why you should never upload a photo of your boarding pass to Facebook




Posting a picture of a boarding pass to Facebook can seem smug, especially when no one else is going on holiday - but it could come back to bite you in a completely different way.

Brian Krebs, an author and blogger specialising in investigative stories on cybercrime and computer security, explained just how much information an airplane boarding pass contains in its barcode.

He wrote about a reader of his blog, Krebs On Securit, who became curious about the information he could glean from a friend's boarding pass uploaded to Facebook.

After taking a screenshot of the Lufthansa flight boarding pass, he quickly found a website "that could decode the data and instantly had lots of info about his trip".

The information included the passenger's name, frequent flyer number and other "personally identifiable information".

The reader, known as Cory, was able to obtain the "record key" for the Lufthansa flight the passenger was taking that day.

The reader continues to the airline's website and used the passenger's last name, which was encoded in the barcode, and the record key enabled him "to access his entire account".

"Not only could I see this one flight, but I could see ANY future flights that were booked to his frequent flyer number from the Star Alliance," said Cory.

Mr Krebs said the access granted by Lufthansa also allowed Cory to view "all future flights tied to that frequent flyer account", change seats for the ticketed passenger, and even cancel any future flights.

Travel news blog The Winglet suggests blurring out sensitive information if you must upload a photo of your boarding pass to social media.

This includes the airline ticket number, record locator and barcode, as well as "any other identifiable information".

Once your flight is over and you no longer have a need for the boarding pass, Mr Krebs suggests putting it in the shredder rather than simply throwing it away as the data stored in it can still be accessed.

Click here to see for yourself how much information you can get from your boarding pass barcode.

More information on airplane boarding passes and barcode standards can be found in this document by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

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Korle Bu senior staff protest; insist CEO must go




Some members of the Korle Bu Senior Staff Association have embarked on a demonstration to protest what they claim to be attempts by the Board and management of the hospital to intimidate the leadership.

The threats follow a demand by the staff who want the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital CEO, Dr. Gilbert Buckle sacked.

Joy News' Michaela Anderson reported that members of the association marched to the hospital's administration block in solidarity with their members being intimidated.

They reiterated their call for the CEO's removal claiming that he has been a failure.

Members of the Association who say the chief executive is repeating the mistakes of his predecessors passed a vote of no confidence in him early this month.


korle bu staff

They cited various reasons including the lack of medicines at the hospital's pharmacy.

The president of the Association Charles Ofei-Palm told Joy News: "Things are not going well in Korle Bu...from so many points of view. Shortages all over the places....Why are we not being able to provide supplies? All the equipment have broken down. Things are running out of hand.

A week later nurses and midwives at the facility joined calls for Mr. Buckle to be dismissed, enumerating similar concerns as the senior staff.

The agitated nurses and midwives wrote a letter to the Health Ministry and copied the presidency demanding the dismissal of the Korle Bu CEO.

However, Board Chairman of Korle Bu Anthony Mawuli Sallah told Joy News last week "all the allegations have no foundation. They are baseless and are untrue."

Management also held a press conference to dispute the allegations by the senior staff as well as the nurses and midwives.

The leadership of the Senior Staff Association were subsequently queried. And today's demonstration was to show solidarity with the leadership and to stress on the demand for the CEO to be sacked.

Source: Myjoyonline

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Okyenhene Cautions Politicians Over Indecent Campaign




The Okyenhene,   Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin, who doubles as the President of the Eastern Regional House of Chiefs, has appealed to politicians to conduct decent campaigns and avoid politics of insults in the run-up to the 2016 general election.  

The Okyenhene advised, "Political leaders should also talk to their supporters not to do anything that would rock the boat and push the citizenry back in their efforts to build an egalitarian society deeply rooted on a robust foundation of freedom and justice."

The Okyenhene, who gave the admonition when addressing a gathering of chiefs and politicians at the end-of-year meeting of the Regional House of Chiefs in Koforidua, also reminded the traditional rulers to play cardinal roles to ensure that there is absolute peace in Ghana before, during and after the elections.

Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin called on the media to be guided by the greater national interest and not sectarian or commercial considerations, to avoid sensationalism or anything likely to fan the embers of conflict.

He said the stiffest challenge and threat posed to the chieftaincy institution in the region had been the rampant disputes, adding that these conflicts continue to impact negatively on the development and progress of the region.  

The traditional ruler said the problem is multifaceted and requires that stakeholders, particularly government and the security agencies, do more to address the issue.

Regional Minister's Intervention
The Eastern Regional Minister, Antwi-Boasiako Sekyere, said it is unfortunate to note that the region is gradually and steadily becoming one of the major flash points for chieftaincy and land disputes.

The regional minister added that traditional authorities had been sited rightly or wrongly in cases of multiple land sales, illegal leasing of land for mining, lumbering and installation of rivalry chiefs in some of their communities.

He reminded the chiefs of their rights and responsibilities, adding that they should not engage themselves in wrongdoing.

FROM Daniel Bampoe, Koforidua
[email  protected]

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Woman Stabbed To Death In A Fight Over A Man




A woman believed to be in her thirties, Amina Moro, has been stabbed to death at Bibiani in the Western Region by a married woman believed to be her close friend.

The suspect, Mercy Nyamekye, 40 years, who's on the run, lived in the same house with the deceased, who is a branch executive of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) at Bibiani Zongo.

Confirming the incident to Citi News, the Bibiani Ahwiaso-Bekwai District Police Commander, Superintendent Nana Kumi, said the deceased played a vital role in reuniting the suspect with her husband, after they had divorced shortly after their wedding.

Superintendent Nana Kumi said in what appears to be a fight over another man, Mercy Nyamekye, who was supposed to be staying happily with her husband who's the Landlord, started picking quarrels with Amina about a new tenant in the house, whose name was only given as Moses.

He said confusion broke out some two months ago between the two after the suspect, accused Amina Moro of having an affair with Moses, something which did not go down well with her since she also appeared interested in Moses.

The constant misunderstanding according to the Police Commander, compelled Moses to move out of the house.

Superintendent Kumi further explained that on December 28, Amina and Moses who still had a close relationship, decided to visit Mercy's husband, who is the Landlord.

"Between 9 and 10pm, Moses saw Amina on the streets and decided that they should go and wish the Landlord Joseph Nyanu and his wife Mercy Nyamkye a merry Christmas. On their way, Mercy Nyamekye hurriedly bypassed them and got to the house before the two arrived. When the two arrived, a scuffle ensued between Amina and Mercy again that required the intervention of the Mercy's husband."

The Police Commander said Mercy Nyamekye continued her scuffle with Amina but was stopped by her husband Joseph Nyanu, who locked her [Mercy] in the room, to prevent her from fighting Amina.

Unknown to Mr. Joseph Nyaunu, his wife jumped out of the room through the window, and stormed Amina's room, where she stabbed her in the chest with a pair of scissors and a knife.

She absconded after the incident. Amina Moro died whiles she was being taken to the Bibiani Government Hospital.

Superintendent Kumi told Citi News the police are on the lookout for Mercy Nyamekye. The body of Amina, a Muslim, is undergoing Islamic rituals for burial.

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2 Killed In MPs Convoy




Two persons died when a convoy of Salisu Bamba, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Ejura/Sekyeredumase in the Ashanti Region, got involved in an accident Sunday evening.

The deceased included a close associate of the MP (name not known), who was said to be in-charge of the developmental projects of the MP in the constituency.

He died alongside an electrician (whose name is also not known) when a Toyota Land Cruiser they were traveling on veered off the road and somersaulted.

Mr Bamba, who expressed sadness about the horrific occurrence, told DAILY GUIDE that the accident occurred on the outskirts of Anyinasu, a town in his constituency.

According to him, about four people, who were also on board the Land Cruiser, sustained various body injuries but they have since been treated and discharged.

The distraught MP flatly denied rumours that he was seated in the same vehicle that was involved in the gory, saying "I was seated in a different vehicle when the accident occurred."

Mr Bamba, who found it extremely difficult recounting what happened, said he and his people - including his close associate and the electrician - went to Anyinasu for a project.

He explained that he engaged the services of the said electrician to provide lights at Anyiasu, which had hitherto been plunged into total darkness.

He said after the completion of the electrification project, he and his group also watched a Christmas football gala that he had organized for the nine communities in the constituency.

He said pathetically that whilst they were returning to their base, the Land Cruiser on which the electrician and his close associate were travelling got involved in a gory accident.

Mr Bamba said his vehicle was following the Land Cruiser "so we rushed to the accident scene to offer a helping hand to the victims."

He said the injured people were initially rushed to the Sekeyeredumase Health Centre and were later referred to the Ejura Hospital for treatment.

According to him, the victims were again referred to the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in Kumasi where the electrician and the other person gave up the ghost.

FROM I.F. Joe Awuah Jnr., Kumasi

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Fishermen call for deregulation of premix fuel.




Fishermen in communities around some landing beaches in the country want government to deregulate sale of premix fuel.

Users of the fuel in the Greater Accra, Central and western Regions say they have had to contend with frequent shortage of the commodity at the expense of their business.

They cite a situation in November where they received no supplies for over one month, grounding to a halt other economic activities which rely on fishing to thrive.

Though government is supposed to supply premix fuel to fishing communities at a subsidized price to facilitate the work of the fisher folk, supply has not been regular.

A visit to Dixcove in the Ahanta West District of the Western Region, for instance, revealed frustrated fishermen want the product to be sold on the open market.

The premix is not coming, and it is really affecting us. Without premix, how do we work, do you want us to steal? A fisherwoman, Joana Koomson quizzed.

A very vociferous woman in her thirties, she sounded so worried and bitter about the situation because it is the only work she does to take care of her family.

Apparently, that is the only source of livelihood for many people along the coast; hHhHv usbands, wives and even children, are all involved in fishing one way or the other.

"A week ago, we heard the premix people were going round but we haven't heard anything again". Madam Koomson lamented.

But the Assembly member for Lower-Dixcove, Emmanuel Bentum has a dissenting view to calls to sell premix fuel openly on the market. Instead, he wants the commodity distributed to fishermen.

"They should continue bringing it (premix fuel) to the fishermen because when they get the premix as they want it, I don't think they will ask for it to be sold on the open market". Mr Bentum insisted.

Premix fuel is often distributed, through the chief fisherman, by the National Premix Fuel Committee Secretariat in the various fishing communities.

The chief fisherman presides over the committee set up by government.

According to officials, a portion of proceeds from the sale of premix fuel is given to fishing communities as a contribution to community development.

Mr. Bentum, believes fishing communities will lose such funds, factored into the premix pricing, if it is sold in the open market.

"I don't think it is a laudable idea to open up for people to sell premix. Imagine if this is allowed, how these communities can get this money for the little development," he questioned.

Some fishermen have often asked if indeed such money really goes to fishing communities for the intended development.

Such concerns and speculation about underhand dealings led to the dissolution of the previous National Premix fuel Committee in March, 2015.

Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Sherry Ayittey, had explained "there was a proliferation of premix fuel sale points owned by individuals rather than fishers", resulting in rampant diversion of the product.

The original idea for setting up a premix fuel committee, according to her, had been diluted.

Mrs. Ayittey acknowledged frequent shortage of premix fuel disadvantaged fishers, resulting in dissatisfaction, particularly, at the mode of sale of the product.

Six months after the dissolution of the committee, amid controversy, the Ministry inaugurated a new 10-man National Premix Fuel Committee to oversee allocation, distribution and sale of the commodity.

The Minister revealed that new guidelines developed to regulate activities of the committee would help check corruption and other issues that bedeviled the previous committee.

Months after reconstitution of the committee, fishers remain unhappy because of what some see as a repeat of events.

For Madam Joana Koomson and the entire fisher folk, there's no solution in sight, at least for now.

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Power Ministry announces end of load shedding programme


Accra, Dec. 30, GNA - The Ministry of Power on Wednesday has announced to the public the end of the load shedding programme in respect of electricity supply.

Mr Kweku Sersah-Johnson, Head-Public Affairs of the Ministry, said this in a statement copied to the Ghana News Agency in Accra.

The Ministry took the opportunity to express its profound gratitude and appreciation to the entire citizenry and residents for their forbearance and understanding during the period of power outages.

'The Ministry and its Agencies wish to assure the public that it shall continue to pursue policies and programmes to consolidate the gains made so far in the generation and transmission of electricity for the country,' the statement said.



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Kumasi Zongo chiefs congratulate President Erdogan


Accra, Dec. 30, GNA - The President of the Council of Zongo Chiefs in Kumasi, Naba Musah Akambonga has, on behalf of the Council members and the entire Zongo community, extended a congratulatory message to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey on his recent election victory.

'We here in Ghana wish to identify with you and to share with you this honour done you by the people of Turkey', a statement signed by Naba Akambonga and copied to the Ghana News Agency said.

The statement continued: 'We hope that under your leadership the relationship between your country and Ghana, and in particular with the Council of Zongo Chiefs in Kumasi, will continue to grow from strength to strength.'

It said members of the Council would continue to pray that 'the Almighty Allah, the Most Merciful, will grant His Excellency President Recep Tayyip Erdogan good health and wisdom to discharge his duties to the people of Turkey'.



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Bishop advises Ghanaians to appreciate God


Sunyani, Dec. 30, GNA - The Right Reverend Dr Festus Yeboah-Asuamah, Anglican Bishop of the Sunyani Diocese, has implored Ghanaians to appreciate and glorify God for national peace and stability.

He observed that God has spared the nation of the deadly Ebola disease and external attacks, stressing that the only way Ghanaians could appreciate God was to serve Him in holiness and righteousness.

Rt Rev Dr Yeboah-Asuamah gave the advice in his Christmas message made available to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Sunyani on Wednesday.

'God has supplied us with enough food, although we have difficulties in electricity supply,' he said.

The Anglican Bishop emphasized that as the second coming of Jesus Christ was imminent, the economic situation was not going to be easy in coming years, but affirmed that 'with Jesus Christ in our boat, we can smile at the storms'.

Rt Rev Yeboah-Asuamah called for love and social cohesion among all Ghanaians irrespective of one's religious, political and ethnic background to strengthen national peace and security.

He advised the youth to avoid excessive alcoholism, drug abuse and immorality.

He entreated drivers, especially commercial drivers to guard against drunk-driving and strictly observe road signs and regulations.

Rt Rev Dr Yeboah-Asuamah stated that road accidents decreased during the Christmas festivities and cautioned drivers against behaviour that could erode the gains.



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'For every baby born, plant a tree'


Sandema (U/E), Dec. 30, GNA - Nab Azagsuk Azantillow II, Paramount Chief of Builsa Traditional area has asked that for every child that is born a tree be planted in efforts to reduce depletion of the vegetative cover area.

Nab Azantillow said negative practices on the environment were reducing the duration of the rainy season and consequently decreasing agricultural productivity.

He noted that 'We stand in danger of rapidly depleting our shea trees that provide income to us especially our hardworking mothers and sisters'.

The Chief made the call during this year's Feok Festival in Sandema, where he addressed chiefs and people of Buluk gathered on the theme: 'enhancing our cultural heritage for wealth creation and community development'.

The people of Sandema celebrate the annual Feok festival to thank the ancestors for their protection and supporting them to defeat slave masters in the past.

He said the solution to environmental degradation was not far-fetched if all would contribute by planting and growing trees as was practiced by the late over lord, Nab Dr Ayieta Azantilow, who created afforestation projects as his contribution to conserving nature.

To this end, he indicated that the traditional council had also directed that every developer in the District plants at least two trees as a condition for granting lease on land in the area.

He said the traditional area had also instituted the tree growing award named 'The Azantillow Tree growing prize' to commemorate the late Nab Dr Ayieta Azantillow.

Mr Bonaventure Adangabey, the Builsa District Chief Executive (DCE), expressed worry over bush burning perpetuated by recalcitrant people in the district.

He emphasized that the Assembly's by-laws frowned on that and anyone caught in such acts would be made to face the law.



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Bill Cosby Appears In Court To Face Sex Assault Charges




Bill Cosby arrived to court smiling and carrying a cane to be arraigned on charges of sexual assault without his wife Camille by his side.

Cosby is accused of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his mansion in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania in January 2004.

The 78-year-old comedian previously said under oath that he had consensual sexual contact with Constand, the former director of operations for Temple's women's basketball team.

The actor was released on $1million bail and was forced to hand over his passport but did not enter a plea on Wednesday afternoon, appearing in court for just five minutes. A preliminary hearing has been set for January 14.

He was also advised by Judge Elizabeth McHugh to avoid any contact with Constand.

Montgomery County First Assistant District Attorney Kevin Steele announced the charge against Cosby at a press conference earlier that day, saying; 'The evidence is strong and sufficient to proceed at this point.'

The criminal complaint alleges that on the night in question Cosby told Constand to take three blue pills that left her feeling weak and then led her to a sofa where the assault took place.

When she woke up the next morning he gave her a muffin and sent her home.

The charge against him is punishable by five to 10 years behind bars and a $25,000 fine.


Bill Cosby

Arriving alone: Bill Cosby arrived at court smiling on Wednesday set to face sex assault charges stemming from a 2004 incident with Andrea Constand with his lawyer  Monique Pressley (right)

Steele said at the press conference on Wednesday that Cosby made two failed sexual advances towards Constand before the incident now in question.

The affidavit of probable cause describes both incidents, as well as the night of the alleged assault.

Constand claims that the first time Cosby made an advance at her was after the two shared a meal at his house and were sitting on his sofa having a discussion.

That is when 'without warning, Cosby reached over and touched her pants, her waist, and her inner thigh,' according to the affidavit of probable cause.

She claims she then excused herself, went to the bathroom, gathered her things and left.

The next time he made an advance at her also occurred at his home in Elkins Park, and this time he  'unbuttoned her pants and began touching her,' according to the affidavit of probable cause.

Once again Constand claims she left soon after.
Then, sometime between mid-January and mid-February 2004, the alleged sexual assault occurred.

Constand claims she arrived at Cosby's home and was greeted by the actor, who was wearing a sweatsuit.

The two spoke about Constand's future, and she told Cosby she was feeling 'drained' and 'emotionally occupied.'

That is when Cosby allegedly went upstairs and returned with three blue pills. telling Constand; 'These will make you feel good. The blue things will take the edge off.'

Constand claims she then asked if the pills were herbal, to which Cosby replied; 'Yes. Down them. Put 'em down. Put them in your mouth.'

According to the  affidavit of probable cause, Cosby then told Constand to have some wine, and soon after she began to have trouble speaking and seeing.

Cosby then allegedly told her to lie down on the couch, and soon after, according to the affidavit of probable hearing, was 'fondling her breasts, put his hands into her pants, and penetrated her vagina with his fingers.'

He also allegedly took her hand and placed it on his erect penis.

Constand claims she woke up hours later around 4am and realized her bra was undone and above her breasts and that her sweater was bunched up.

As she made her way to the door she claims Cosby was standing there in a robe and holding a muffin, which he handed to her as she left while saying; 'Alright.'

An attorney for Constand said in a statement about the charges; 'We have the utmost confidence in Mr. Steele, Ms. Feden and their team, who have impressed us with their professionalism.  

'In that this matter is now being pursued in the criminal justice system, we will not comment further.'

Constand meanwhile was seen out walking her dogs in Toronto on Wednesday with a giant smile shortly after the charge was announced against Cosby.


2FB011D500000578-3378951-Documents_The_criminal_complaint_against_Cosby_that_was_filed_on

Documents: The criminal complaint against Cosby that was filed on Wednesday (above)


Constand

Allegations:  Constand (above playing basketball in college and high school) claims Cosby gave her three blue pills with wine one night at his mansion and then sexually molested her

Constand later returned to her native Canada, where she reported the incident to police in January 2005.

Authorities in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, followed up with an investigation after she reported the assault, but in February 2005 they declined to press criminal charges due to a lack of evidence.

The affidavit of probable cause also details an interview authorities had with Cosby about the alleged assault on January 26, 2005.

Cosby said at that time he had given Constand Benadryl and then, according to the affidavit, 'they began to pet  (touching and kissing) and then he touched her bare breast and private parts.'

Cosby claims that Constand did not ask him to stop at any point.

He then admitted to giving her a blueberry muffin and some tea when she awoke early the next morning.

He also said the two had 'petted and kissed' several times in the past, and that he 'liked the petting and touching.'

When asked if he had ever had sexual intercourse with Constand he said 'never asleep or awake.'

Constand then launched her civil suit against Cosby, a man she called her 'mentor,' in March 2005, after no criminal charges were filed against the actor.

Cosby settled that suit for undisclosed terms in 2006.

Parts of Cosby's deposition from that lawsuit were unsealed earlier this year also, and reveal that thge actor admitted to obtaining Quaaludes to give to women.

Cosby testified in 2005 that in the 1970s he had obtained seven prescriptions for Quaaludes, the brand name for a sedative and muscle relaxant that was widely abused as a recreational drug in the 1970s - and which featured heavily in the movie, the Wolf of Wall Street

'When you got the Quaaludes, was it in your mind that you were going to use these Quaaludes for young women that you wanted to have sex with?' Cosby was asked in the 2005 deposition.

'Yes,' he replied.
Asked whether he ever gave them to young women, his lawyers raised a lengthy series of objections.

It was because these depositions were unsealed that prosecutors were able to reopen a case against Cosby.

Constand was re-interviewed after the case was opened and recalled a conversation she had with Cosby after the incident in which she claims to have told him 'you are a very sick man,' to which he agreed and repeatedly apologized.

More than 50 women have come forward in the past year claiming they were drugged and sexually assaulted by Cosby, but this is the first criminal charge against the actor.

Steele urged those women, and others, to come forward with their stories or any information they may have during Wednesday's press conference.

In addition to denying the allegations of these women, Cosby has also recently come out and filed lawsuits against some of them for defamation, including model Beverly Johnson.

Judd Apatow, one of Cosby's most vocal opponents over the past year, responded to the news that Cosby was being charged on Twitter just a few hours after Wednesday's press conference.

'Bill Cosby has spent his life attempting to silence the women he has assaulted with threats, lawsuits and money,' wrote Apatow.

'Hopefully now many of these women will get to tell their stories in a court of law and the people who supported him will get deposed.'

Steele, who will become the top prosecutor in January, said at the press conference; 'Reopening this case was not a question. Rather, reopening this case was our duty as law enforcement officers.'

Cosby and his lawyers have yet to comment on the charge.

Meanwhile, the charges against the actor will not see the closing of the art exhibit he funded and provided most of the art for at a Smithsonian museum.

Eddie Burke, a spokesman for the Smithsonian's National Museum of African Art, said Wednesday that the exhibit will close as scheduled on January 24 and not any sooner, though he did add that the museum does not condone Cosby's alleged behavior.

About a third of the works on display in the exhibit come from Cosby and his wife Camille's private collection, and he also contributed a $716,000 gift.

The actor married Camille - who has stood by him throughout these allegations - in 1964, and the couple have three children; Erinn, Evin and Erica.

Their oldest son, Ennis, was shot dead while changing a tire in 1997 at the age of 27.

These allegations have had a major impact on Cosby's work over the past, with Netflix postponing the airing of his new comedy special, Bill Cosby 77, which was due to air the day after Thanksgiving last year, and NBC pulling the plug on a comedy project they were developing with the Cosby Show star.

TV Land also announced they will no longer air reruns of The Cosby Show on the network.

He still continued to tour doing stand-up shows for some time, but has since stopped and spends his time in seclusion at his estate in Massachusetts.

-dailymail

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