Korea: Official maximum working age now 65

South Korea’s top court, on Thursday, raised the maximum working age in the country from 60 years to 65 years, citing changed life expectancy and economic situations as factors.

The local media reported that ceiling of working age, which indicated a maximum age of people capable of labouring and earning income, was set at 65 years by the country’s 13-Judge Supreme Court. It was the first change in 30 years since the court extended the maximum working age from 55 years to 60 years in 1989. The ruling was forecast to influence the insurance premium and indemnity as the maximum working age is a basis to calculate the indemnity. 

China, United States reach tentative deals on trade

The United States and China have started to outline commitments in principle on the stickiest issues in their trade dispute, marking the most significant progress yet toward ending a seven-month trade war, Reuters has reported.

The world’s two largest economies have slapped tit-for-tat tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of goods, slowing global economic growth, skewing supply chains and disrupting manufacturing.

As officials hold high level talks on Thursday and Friday in Washington, they remain far apart on demands made by U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration for structural changes to China’s economy.

But the broad outline of what could make up a deal is beginning to emerge from the talks, the sources said, as the two sides push for an agreement by March 1. That marks the end of a 90-day truce that Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to when they met in Argentina late last year.

Negotiators are drawing up six memorandums of understanding on structural issues: forced technology transfer and cyber theft, intellectual property rights, services, currency, agriculture and non-tariff barriers to trade, according to two sources familiar with the progress of the talks.

At meetings between U.S. and Chinese officials last week in Beijing the two sides traded texts and worked on outlining obligations on paper, according to one of the sources.

The process has become a real trade negotiation, the source said, so much so that at the end of the week the participants considered staying in Beijing to keep working. Instead they agreed to take a few days off and reconvene in Washington.

The sources requested anonymity to speak candidly about the talks.

The MOUs cover the most complex issues affecting the trading relationship between the two countries and are meant, from the U.S. perspective, to end the practices that led Trump to start levying duties on Chinese imports in the first place.

One source cautioned that the talks could still end in failure. But the work on the MOUs was a significant step in getting China to sign up both to broad principles and to specific commitments on key issues, he said.

The United States has accused Beijing of forcing U.S. companies doing business in China to share their technology with local partners and hand over intellectual property secrets. China denies it engages in such practices.

Trump administration officials also object to non-tariff barriers in China, including industrial subsidies, regulations, business licensing procedures, product standards reviews and other practices that they say keep U.S. goods out of China or give an unfair advantage to domestic firms.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has pushed for China to open its financial services markets to more foreign firms, including credit card giants Visa and MasterCard, which have waited years for China to make good on promises to allow them to operate there.

On currency, U.S. officials including Mnuchin have warned China against devaluing its yuan to gain a competitive advantage after the Chinese currency weakened significantly against the dollar last year, partly counteracting Trump’s tariffs.

The two sides were discussing an enforcement mechanism for the deal, the source said. Reuters reported last month that the United States was pushing for regular reviews of China’s progress on pledged trade reforms and could reinstate tariffs if it deems Beijing has violated the agreement.

The parties also were looking at a 10-item list of ways that China could reduce its trade surplus with the United States, including by buying agricultural produce, energy and goods such as semiconductors, according to two other sources familiar with the talks.

Time is running short ahead of the March 1 deadline to resolve the dispute or see U.S. tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods rise from 10 percent to 25 percent. Trump said on Tuesday he thought China had an incentive to move swiftly.

“I think they’re trying to move fast so that doesn’t happen,” he told reporters in the Oval Office, while not ruling out the possibility of extending the deadline.

Lower-level officials held a round of talks in Washington on Tuesday and Wednesday. They will be joined on Thursday by the top level negotiators, led by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He.

Egypt executes nine persons for killing Barakat, the attorney-general

Egyptian authorities have executed nine men convicted over the 2015 killing of the country’s attorney-general, Hisham Barakat, the Egyptian newspaper, El Watan reported Wednesday.

The men were among a group of 28 who were sentenced to death in the case in 2017. Barakat was killed in a car bomb attack on his convoy in the capital, Cairo.

Egypt blamed the Muslim Brotherhood and Gaza-based Hamas militants for the operation. Both groups denied having a role.

Rights group Amnesty International had appealed on Tuesday for authorities to halt the executions, citing testimony by the defendants that they had been secretly detained and tortured into confessing.

Since 2013, the year that then-army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi military ousted President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egyptian criminal courts have issued hundreds of death sentences.

Only a small proportion have been carried out, though the rate of executions has risen since 2015, rights activists say.

El Watan newspaper said the executions were carried out on Wednesday morning. The newspapers gave the names of the executed as Ahmad Taha, Abu Alqasim Ahmed, Ahmed Jamal Hijazi, Mahmoud Al Ahmadi, Abu Bakr Al Sayed, Abdul Rahman Sulaiman, Ahmed Mohammed, Ahmed Mahrous Sayed and Islam Mohammed.

The newspaper also published the confessions of the men about their involvement in the assassination of Barakat by bombing.

Their execution followed six others carried out earlier this month. Three of those were convicted over the killing of a police office in September 2013, and three over the killing of a judge’s son the following year.

In both cases the defendants or their lawyers had said torture was used to extract confessions, according to Amnesty International.

Sisi, who was elected president in 2014 and re-elected last year, says he is working to bring stability and security to Egypt following the turmoil of the 2011 uprising.

Elections: Buratai reads riot act, directs commanders

The Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Tukur Buratai, has directed commanders to deal decisively with anyone caught doing anything that will be inimical to the success of the election.

At a meeting with principal officers and commanders of the Nigerian Army in Abuja on Wednesday, he said the army was taking a proactive approach to stop election crimes such as ballot box snatching and violence.

He also directed the commanders to ensure the restrictions of movement within their commands and also carry out a stop and search, anyone found culpable should be handed over to the police.

He said that there would be no military escorts for politicians especially retired military during the general elections.

Buratai warned that should any officer have any doubt as to his or her loyalty to the Nigerian state such a person has until February 22, 2019, to resign.

President Muhammadu Buhari had earlier ordered security operatives to “deal ruthlessly” with anyone who attempts to snatch ballot box during the rescheduled general elections on Saturday, February 23, 2019.

The President said he had ordered security agencies to prepare to crack down on potential trouble makers during the rescheduled elections.

He said that he had briefed the law enforcement agencies and the military, who have identified the hot spots and flashpoints.

Magazine demands payment of N5m debt from Shehu Sani

A Nigerian newsmagazine has demanded from Senator Shehu Sani, who represents Kaduna Central, the redemption of a N5 million advertisement debt owed since March 2018.

TheNEWS in a press statement said it decided to go public after many fruitless efforts to make the Senator to honour his promise as a gentleman, a much acclaimed human rights activist, social critic and a highly respected national legislator.

According to Independent Communications Network, publisher of the magazine, the company explored personal contacts to persuade Sani to pay. He did not.

“TheNEWS wrote a letter dated 29 November 2018, to the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, to intervene. Nothing happened”, the magazine’s editor, Ademola Adegbamigbe said.

As the last resort, the magazine’s lawyer, Barrister Umudjoro, of Umudjoro & Co, wrote a letter to Senator Sani, dated 7 February 2019, threatening legal action over the debt.

“Take notice that we shall not hesitate to seek legal remedies in a court of competent jurisdiction if you refuse/neglect to accede to our client’s demand within two weeks of the receipt of this letter. Pay up and avoid the negative publicity usually associated with litigations of this nature”, Umudjoro wrote the Senator.

The lawyer recalled how Sani, in company of his media aide, Comrade Abubakar Ahmed, walked into the magazine’s office in Ikeja, Lagos last year March and asked for the publication of 10-page advertorial at a cost of N5million.

The publication involved deployment of staff to Kaduna state to report on the Senator’s constituency projects.

“In addition to the publication highlighting the constituency projects, the magazine published an extensive interview you granted to its editors which turned out to be very explosive, nationally and internationally. Need we say, you had full coverage as you had desired and wished for”

“Unfortunately, eleven months down the line, you have neglected or refused to pay the debt of Five Million Naira (N5,000,000.00) accrued from the publication and all efforts made by our clients to persuade you to liquidate the debt, have yielded no fruit”, Umudjoro said.

Elections: Our role is to provide security only – Army

The Nigerian Army has restated that its role in the rescheduled general elections starts and ends with the provision of a secured environment for the exercise.

It said that none of its personnel would  be involved in political campaigns or escort Very Important Personalities on political missions.

The army’s  spokesman, Col. Sagir Musa, said this in a statement on Tuesday.

Musa said that the Nigerian army’s rules of engagement and code of conduct did not assign any political role to its personnel.

He was reacting to the alleged involvement of an officer in politics in Rivers.

The army spokesman described the insinuation as “baseless’’ and urged the public to disregard it.

He said the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai,  had consistently charged officers and men to uphold  professionalism and  be guided by the rules of engagement and the constitution.

“Therefore, any insinuation or assertion against this open declaration is not only mischievous but politically motivated with the intent to tarnish the reputation of the army which has been built on discipline and obedience to civil authorities.

“Members of the public are therefore urged to always ignore information attributed to the Nigerian army that is contrary to its core value of professionalism,’’ he said.

Meanwhile, the army has vowed to deal decisively with anyone planning to disrupt the rescheduled Presidential and National Assembly elections, no matter how highly placed.

The spokesman of the 6 Division, Port Harcourt, Col. Aminu Iliyasu,  gave the warning in a statement on Tuesday.

Iliyasu said that the Division had uncover credible intelligence of “an unholy plan by some political actors within its Area of Responsibility (AOR) to arm and sponsor miscreants.’’

The Division oversees Rivers, Delta, Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom states.

Iliyasu also said  intelligence indicated that the political actors planned to use military-like fatigue dress for deception to cause pandemonium at polling stations for their political gain.

He, however, said efforts were ongoing to track the source of the weapons and agents involved, warning that anyone found culpable would be dealt with in accordance with the law. BENBENRO NEWS

Appeal court in Ilorin affirms Oshiomole’s backed kwara APC’s exco as authentic

Appeal Court, sitting in Ilorin, on Tuesday upturned the ruling of the Kwara State High Court which pronounced Ishola Balogun-Fulani as the authentic APC party chairman in the state.

The Ibrahim Saulawa led three-man panel said the high court ruling was built on nothing as the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the Balogun-Fulani’s case challenging his dismissal as the APC chairman in the state.

Having last week ruled in an interlocutory appeal that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear Balogun-Fulani’s case, the appeal court allowed the APC’s main appeal but dismissed the ‘sister appeal’ by Bolarinwa because it amounted to a “mere academic exercise”.

The court said it would amount to a waste of time ruling on the Bashiru Bolarinwa appeal since the issues in it were similar to the ones in the main appeal filed by the Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee of the APC.

Bolarinwa is a co-applicant in the appeal filed by the APC NWC.

However, the appeal court struck out all the orders earlier granted by the lower court because the court lacked the jurisdiction to issue such reliefs.

The appeal court held that the court below lacked jurisdiction to hear the matter because various conditions precedent were not met, saying the court had acted in error to hear it at all.

The appeal court position effectively affirmed Bashiru Bolarinwa as the authentic chairman of the party in the state, upholding the position of the APC National Working Committee (NWC) which had expelled Balogun-Fulani and members of his state executive committee from the party.

This judgment came exactly one week after the appeal court — in an interlocutory appeal — upheld the nomination of AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq as the APC governorship candidate in Kwara.

The court had contended in the judgment that the state executive committee of a party is only an appendage of its national headquarters and is not imbued with the powers to conduct primaries for national elections. BENGBENRO NEWS

Man City must win Champions League to be among elite — Gundogan

Manchester City must win the Champions League to be considered one of Europe’s elite clubs, midfielder Ilkay Gundogan has said.

City have won the Premier League three times since the Abu Dhabi United Group bought them in 2008, but have never gone past the semi-final stage of Europe’s premier club competition.

“If you want to be in the international elite … you need to clinch this trophy,” Gundogan told UEFA.com ahead of Wednesday’s last 16 tie at Schalke.

“I think that, if we were to win it someday, the club would enter a new era, the same level as Real (Madrid), Barca, Bayern or Juventus, clubs that are maybe a step above us.

“Maybe not in the way they play football, but as a club at least.”

City were knocked out in the last 16 three times in the last five seasons, while their only semi-final appearance came in 2016, when they were knocked out by Real Madrid 1-0 on aggregate.

“We’ve experienced a lot in the Champions League in recent years, not all of it positive, of course. We should’ve won it at least once,” Gundogan added.

“The biggest low was probably being knocked out by Liverpool last season. For that reason, the motivation to go far in this competition is huge and I think we have the quality required.” BENGBENRO SPORT.

Atiku did not offer Adamawa REC $1m bribe, Says INEC

The Independent National Electoral Commission has reacted to the allegation that the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, offered the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Adamawa State, Kashim Gaidam, $1m and a house in Dubai.

INEC condemned the allegation in a tweet on Monday.

The tweet was in reaction to a social media post which alleged that the former vice president had compromised the elections in Adamawa, his home state.

It read, “Breaking News: I rejected Atiku’s $1m bribe plus a house in Dubai- Adamawa REC”.

But INEC condemned the post, saying, “The Adamawa INEC REC completely dissociates himself from the allegation that he had an offer of $1m and a house in Dubai as no offer whatsoever was ever made to him by anyone.” BENGBENRO NEWS

JUST IN: Buhari in crucial meeting with service chiefs, others

President Muhammadu Buhari is in a crucial meeting with the Service Chiefs including the National Security Adviser, NSA, and the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu at the State House, Abuja.

The meeting also has the Minister of Defence, Dan Mansur-Ali, Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau, the Director General of Department of State Service (DSS) Yusuf Bichi and some other security heads in attendance.

The State Governors at the meeting who are mostly from the north include the Borno State, Kashim Shettina, Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, and Adamawa State, Jubrila Bindow.

Also present is the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha.

The agenda of the meeting was yet unknown but it may not be unconnected with the alleged killing in a Kaduna community at the eve of the botched Presidential and National Assembly elections and the perhaps the forthcoming elections. BENGBENRO NEWS.