To continue enjoying Building.co.uk, sign up for free guest accessExisting subscriber? LOGIN Get your free guest access SIGN UP TODAY Stay at the forefront of thought leadership with news and analysis from award-winning journalists. Enjoy company features, CEO interviews, architectural reviews, technical project know-how and the latest innovations.Limited access to building.co.ukBreaking industry news as it happensBreaking, daily and weekly e-newsletters Subscribe now for unlimited access Subscribe to Building today and you will benefit from:Unlimited access to all stories including expert analysis and comment from industry leadersOur league tables, cost models and economics dataOur online archive of over 10,000 articlesBuilding magazine digital editionsBuilding magazine print editionsPrinted/digital supplementsSubscribe now for unlimited access.View our subscription options and join our community
More than 2,300 suspected members of the jihadist group Boko Haram were expected to appear in court in Nigeria from Monday in unprecedented mass trials to be held behind closed doors.The defendants have all been picked up and held in detention since the start of the conflict eight years ago, which has left at least 20,000 dead in the country’s remote northeast.To date, just 13 people have been put on trial and only nine convicted for their links to the Islamist insurgency, according to official figures.The most high-profile current case is that of Khalid Al-Barnawi, a leader of the Boko Haram offshoot Ansaru, who is charged with the abduction and murder of 10 foreign nationals.Nigeria’s justice ministry announced the start of the trials at the end of last month, saying four judges had been assigned and that defendants would have legal representation.Some 1,670 detainees at a military base in Kainji, in the central state of Niger, will be tried first followed by 651 others held at the Giwa barracks in the capital of the northeastern state of Borno state, Maiduguri.“It’s the first significant trial of Boko Haram suspects,” said Matthew Page, a former US State Department analyst and a specialist on Nigeria.But he told AFP that while “positive” it was still a “very small step”, as many of the detainees had been held in custody for years, without access to a lawyer or ever having appeared before a judge.– ‘Wrong signal’ –How the long-awaited trials will be held also raises questions, particularly about transparency.A justice ministry source said no media would be allowed on security grounds and that although civilian courts, they would be held in military facilities.Umar Ado, a defence lawyer based in Nigeria’s biggest northern city, Kano, said that was “as good as denying the public the right to know how the trial is carried out”.“It sends the wrong signal that justice is not served or the process is compromised,” he added.There have also been questions about the ability of Nigeria’s justice system to handle so many cases at once and even of simple procedural details such as whether defendants will be tried on their own or together.The justice ministry itself has already highlighted the potential pitfalls facing judges, such as poor investigation techniques, lack of forensic evidence and “over-reliance on confession-based evidence”. – International pressure –To what extent those on trial are connected to the group will likely come under scrutiny.“There are good reasons to believe that large numbers of the detainees have very little or no connection at all to the group,” said Matthew Page.Amnesty International said in a damning June 2015 report that more than 20,000 people had been arbitrarily arrested as part of the fight against Boko Haram.It highlighted appalling conditions at military detention facilities and claimed at least 1,200 people had been summarily killed and 7,000 died in custody since 2011.The group’s spokesman in Nigeria, Isa Sanusi, said: “Nobody knows exactly how many people are detained, if they are still alive and where they are.”President Muhammadu Buhari, who was elected in 2015, has promised to look into repeated accusations of human rights violations, including against high-ranking officers.At least two commissions of inquiry have been established but the army announced in June this year that no action would be taken against top brass accused by Amnesty.Such revelations have made Western countries cautious about responding to repeated Nigerian requests for more military support in the conflict, particularly in terms of weapons and other hardware.The US administration of former president Barack Obama blocked a nearly $600 million deal with Nigeria for 12 fighter planes after a botched air strike that killed more than 100 civilians.The deal finally went through in August.Britain’s foreign minister, Boris Johnson, said on a recent visit that London was considering a Nigerian request for more military hardware.Amnesty’s Sanusi believes the mass trials of Boko Haram suspects were the result of international pressure on the Nigerian government as it “desperately wants to procure arms”.
Everton are interested in Sean Dyche becoming their new manager, according to Sky sources.Another source has told Sky Sports News that an approach is not imminent, with caretaker boss David Unsworth expected to be in charge for the upcoming matches against Lyon and Watford.Ronald Koeman was dismissed from his post last Monday after Everton fell to a 5-2 defeat to Arsenal, leaving them in the Premier League relegation zone.Following last week’s sacking, Everton U23 manager Unsworth has taken the reigns at Goodison Park on an interim basis and has expressed his interest in taking over from Koeman.Other managers including former England manager Sam Allardyce have also shown interest in the Everton job.When asked about the vacant managerial role at Goodison Park after his side’s 1-0 victory over Newcastle on Monday night Dyche remained tight-lipped on his future.“I just keep getting on with my job, simple as that,” Dyche told Sky Sports, when asked what he would do if a call came in from Everton.“We just keep getting on with it. That’s my focus and my team’s focus. We have to do planning of course, but generally we take each game as it comes, we work on that, then we process the information, debrief it and we move forward again and keep that clarity of thought. That’s how we keep going.”Since joining Burnley in 2012, Dyche has experienced great success at Turf Moor, helping guide the club to two Premier League promotions – he is currently the third longest serving manager in the division behind Arsene Wenger and Eddie Howe.He is currently enjoying his best season with the Clarets – after 10 games they have 16 points and sit in seventh in the Premier League after a string of impressive results, including an away win against last year’s champions Chelsea on the opening day of the season.
KRASNODAR, Russia (AP) – With only two days to go before Spain’s opening match at the World Cup, Julen Lopetegui was fired as national team coach after accepting a job to lead Real Madrid next season. Spanish football federation president Luis Rubiales, who made the announcement on Wednesday in Krasnodar, later said Fernando Hierro would replace Lopetegui as coach for Spain’s match against Portugal in Sochi on Friday. The 50-year-old Hierro, a former national team player and Real Madrid captain, will be taking on his first major coaching job. He had been acting as the federation’s sports director and was already in Russia with the national team. Rubiales said firing Lopetegui wasn’t the best solution but it was needed after the federation was caught by surprise by Madrid’s announcement. “The federation cannot be left out of a negotiation by one of its workers and be informed five minutes before the press release,” Rubiales said. “We have been compelled to act.” Rubiales, who took over as president last month, said Lopetegui disrespected the federation’s values and it was the only decision he could make. “It’s a difficult situation, but we are not the ones who determined the action that had to be taken. The federation has its values and it has to maintain them,” Rubiales said. “It may look like a weakness now, but with time this will make us stronger.” Rubiales said he tried to keep the Madrid announcement from being made public but it wasn’t possible. He said he had to make the decision — which was supported by the federation’s board of directors — to “send a clear message” that things have to be done properly. There were reports that players tried to persuade Rubiales to change his mind and keep Lopetegui on the job. “We are the national team. We represent this emblem, these colours, our fans, a country,” Spain captain Sergio Ramos wrote on Twitter. “Our responsibility and commitment is to you. Yesterday, today and tomorrow, together.” Because he was fired, Madrid won’t have to pay the US$2.3 million of the termination clause on Lopetegui’s contract. Rubiales said that although the federation’s financial situation was not ideal, money was “not the most important thing in a moment like this.” Lopetegui did not attend the news conference but was expected to speak to the media after returning to Spain. Hierro was expected to lead his players for the first time in a practice session later Wednesday. The former defender spent most of his career with Real Madrid but finished his playing days with English club Bolton in 2005. He played in four World Cups with Spain, from 1990 to 2002, and in two European Championships, 1996 and 2000. Hierro was Carlo Ancelotti’s assistant at Real Madrid after Zinedine Zidane left the post in 2014. He coached second-division club Real Oviedo two seasons ago and was Malaga’s general manager after leaving his sports director position with the Spanish federation in 2011. After Madrid’s announcement that it hired Lopetegui, critics immediately began questioning some of the coach’s decisions with the national team, including his choice to leave some Barcelona players such as Sergi Roberto out of the World Cup squad. There were also questions about how Lopetegui would be able to fully focus on the national team while also having to discuss off-season signings for his new club. There are six Madrid players in Spain’s team for the World Cup. Lopetegui’s name had not been mentioned by Spanish media among the probable candidates for the Madrid job, which opened up after Zidane unexpectedly quit. Last month, Lopetegui agreed to extend his contract with the national team through 2020. “I admire and respect Lopetegui a lot. He is a top coach, and that made it harder to make this decision,” Rubiales said. “Winning is important, but above that, we need to know how things have to be handled.” It was a difficult departure for the 51-year-old Lopetegui, who took over from Vicente del Bosque after the 2016 European Championship and had been credited with reviving a team that was on the decline after winning Euro 2008, the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012. By successfully blending talented youngsters and veterans from its golden generation, Lopetegui kept Spain unbeaten through 20 matches in charge, comfortably leading the team to the World Cup from a qualifying group that included Italy.