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Quit notice to herders: Ondo state gov’t will not act outside the constitution-Presidency

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The Presidency has been keenly monitoring events occurring in Ondo State and the “orders” by the government of the state, “asking herders to vacate the forests in seven days.”

What is clearly emerging, is a lack of consistency in messaging which in turn leads to various contradictions regarding accuracy and the intent behind the message. There is little to be said other than to call for restraint on both sides and urge the state government and the leadership of the Fulani communities to continue their dialogue for a good understanding that will bring to an urgent end, the nightmarish security challenges facing the state.

Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, a seasoned lawyer, Senior Advocate of Nigeria and indeed, a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, has fought crime in his state with passion and commitment, greater sensitivity and compassion for the four years he has run its affairs and, in our view, will be the least expected to unilaterally oust thousands of herders who have lived all their lives in the state on account of the infiltration of the forests by criminals.

If this were to be the case, rights groups will be right in expressing worries that the action could set off a chain of events which the makers of our constitution foresaw and tried to guard against.

We want to make it clear that kidnapping, banditry and rustling are crimes, no matter the motive or who is involved. But, to define crime from the nameplates, as a number of commentators have erroneously done- which group they belong to, the language they speak, their geographical location or their faith is atavistic and cruel.

We need to delink terrorism and crimes from ethnicity, geographical origins and religion—to isolate the criminals who use this interchange of arguments to hinder law enforcement efforts as the only way to deal effectively with them.

The President, who swore to defend the constitution has spoken against the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in asking citizens of Northern origin to leave; he did not spare the group based in Sokoto, ‘Muslim Solidarity Forum,’ which asked the Bishop of Sokoto to leave and is prepared to do all that the law permits to protect citizens all over the country in their choice of where they wished to reside and are treated as equal citizens.

The government of Ondo, and all the 35 others across the federation must draw clear lines between the criminals and the law abiding citizens who must equally be saved from the infiltrators. Beyond law and order, the fight against crime is also a fight for human values which are fundamental to our country. 


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Saudi prince approved Khashoggi killing – US

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A US intelligence report has found that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved the murder of exiled journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

The declassified report released by the Biden administration says the prince approved a plan to either capture or kill the US-based Saudi exile.

It is the first time America has publicly named the crown prince, who denies ordering the death.

Khashoggi was murdered while visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

He had been known for his criticism of the Saudi authorities.

“We assess that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi,” the report by the office of the US director of national intelligence says.

It lists three reasons for believing that the crown prince must have approved the operation:

  • His control of decision-making in the kingdom since 2017
  • The direct involvement in the operation of one of his advisers as well as members of his protective detail
  • His “support for using violent measures to silence dissidents abroad”

The report goes on to name individuals allegedly complicit in, or responsible for, Khashoggi’s death. But it says “we do not know how far in advance” those involved planned to harm him.

Saudi authorities have blamed the killing on a “rogue operation” by a team of agents sent to return the journalist to the kingdom, and a Saudi court tried and sentenced five individuals to 20 years in prison last September, after initially sentencing them to death.

In 2019, UN special rapporteur Agnes Callamard accused the Saudi state of the “deliberate, premeditated execution” of Khashoggi and dismissed the Saudi trial as an “antithesis of justice”.

What does it mean for US-Saudi relations?

As far back as 2018, the CIA reportedly believed that the crown prince had ordered the murder but the allegation that he was involved has never been made publicly by US officials until now.

US President Joe Biden is expected to take a firmer line than his predecessor Donald Trump on human rights and the rule of law in Saudi Arabia, a key American ally in the Middle East.

In a phone call on Thursday with the crown prince’s father, King Salman, the president “affirmed the importance the United States places on universal human rights and the rule of law”, the White House said.

According to sources quoted by Reuters news agency, the Biden administration is considering the cancellation of arms deals with Saudi Arabia that pose human rights concerns as well as the limiting of future military sales to “defensive” weapons.

How was Khashoggi killed?

The 59-year-old journalist went to the consulate in October 2018 in order to obtain papers allowing him to marry his Turkish fiancée.

He had allegedly received assurances from the crown prince’s brother, Prince Khalid bin Salman, who was ambassador to the US at the time, that it would be safe to visit the consulate. Prince Khalid has denied any communication with the journalist.

According to Saudi prosecutors, Khashoggi was forcibly restrained after a struggle and injected with a large amount of a drug, resulting in an overdose that led to his death. His body was then dismembered and handed over to a local “collaborator” outside the consulate, prosecutors said. The remains were never found.

Details were revealed in transcripts of purported audio recordings of the killing obtained by Turkish intelligence.

Khashoggi had once been an adviser to the Saudi government and close to the royal family but he fell out of favour and went into self-imposed exile in the US in 2017.

From there, he wrote a monthly column in the Washington Post in which he criticised the policies of Prince Mohammed.

(BBC)


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Canada endorses another COVID-19 Vaccine

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Canadian authorities said Friday they have authorized a third Covid-19 vaccine, adding AstraZeneca’s candidate to the approved list alongside the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna shots.

“After completing their rigorous and independent review process, @GovCanHealth has approved AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine,” tweeted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“Canada now has 3 vaccines approved for use in our fight against Covid-19.”

Ottawa has ordered 20 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, developed with Oxford University, and two million shots of the same formula made by the Serum Institute of India.

Officials also said evaluations of Johnson & Johnson’s and Novovax’s Covid vaccines have been completed and decisions on their approvals are expected soon.

The World Health Organization has announced that the AstraZeneca vaccine could be given to people aged 65 and over despite concerns about its efficacy and used in countries where variants of the novel coronavirus have been found.

Canada said it will make it available to people aged over 18.

It has been found to be about 62 per cent effective in preventing infection, compared to more than 90 per cent for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines that are based on different technology.

Already in use in Britain and the European Union, it requires two doses four to 12 weeks apart to offer the best protection, but does not need to be stored in extreme cold temperatures in contrast to the Pfizer vaccine, making its distribution easier.

“Canada is hungry for vaccines,” Health Canada senior advisor Supriya Sharma told a media briefing. “We’re putting more on the buffet table.”

“Having additional vaccines from different manufacturers can help to get more people vaccinated sooner,” she said, adding that the department has concluded “that the benefits outweigh the risks.”

As of Friday, Canada has reported more than 858,000 cases of the coronavirus and 21,865 fatalities.

Ottawa has ordered or reserved more than 400 million doses of vaccine from seven suppliers for a population of 38 million.

(AFP)


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Manchester Utd battle AC Milan as Arsenal face Olympiakos in Europa last 16

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Manchester United will play seven-time Champions League winners AC Milan in the last 16 of the Europa League.

AC Milan, who sit second in Serie A, are yet to win the competition while United’s only triumph was in 2017.

Arsenal, finalists in 2019, face Greek side Olympiakos, who knocked them out in the last-32 stage last year.

Tottenham will play Croatian side Dinamo Zagreb while Rangers have been drawn against Czech side Slavia Prague, who defeated Leicester City this week.

The eight last-16 ties will be played on 11 and 18 March.

Former Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic looks set to return to Old Trafford in the second leg, when the two sides will meet for the 12th time in European competition – all previous meetings having been in the Champions League.

Rangers, who recorded a 9-5 aggregate win over Royal Antwerp on Thursday to reach the last 16 for the second successive season, will take on Slavia Prague for the first time.

Tottenham’s opponents Dinamo Zagreb, who will host the first leg, have lost nine of their last 10 matches against English sides in European competition, winning the other game 2-1 against Arsenal in the Champions League group stage in 2015.

The Gunners last suffered back-to-back eliminations at the hands of the same club in 2014 – against Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

Clubs have until Monday to report any issues surrounding travel to Uefa, after which a decision over confirmed venues will be made.

Europa League last-16 draw

Ajax v BSC Young Boys

Dynamo Kiev v Villarreal

AS Roma v Shakhtar Donetsk

Olympiakos v Arsenal

Dinamo Zagreb v Tottenham

Manchester United v AC Milan

Slavia Prague v Rangers

Granada v Molde

(BBC)


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