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AGA wants FG to free Zakzaky

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The All Grassroots Alliance party (AGA), has urged the Federal Government to release Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria popularly called Shiite from prison in the interest of national peace.

The party disclosed this in a resolution signed by the National Chairman Dr Olukayode Oshiariyo and Deputy National Secretary Mr Raphael Oloruntoba at the end of its quarterly National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting on Thursday in Abuja.

It advised the federal government to place him under intensive surveillance instead of keeping him in prison adding that government should adopt a holistic approach towards ending the Shiite crisis.

The party said it had resolved to present candidates for the Nov. 16, governorship election in Bayelsa and Kogi.

“The meeting adopted the resolution of the National Working Committee (NWC) urging the party to withdraw its name from senatorial elections petition tribunal in Niger and Abia.

“NEC approved NWC’s recommendation on the expulsion of the former Organising Secretary of the party, Mr Durojaiye Adewale, over anti party activities.

Foreign

Libya’s UN-backed gov’t reports new advances against rivals

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Forces allied with Libya’s internationally recognised government said they had captured a major city from their rivals on Friday, a day after they regained control of the capital Tripoli.

In recent weeks, forces from the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) based in Tripoli have made swift territorial gains against the rival self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Khalifa Haftar.

The GNA’s military spokesman, Mohammed Gnounou, said on Friday that government forces were in complete control of the city of Tarhouna, about 90 kilometres south-east of Tripoli, and Haftar’s last stronghold in western Libya.

“Our heroic forces have taught Haftar’s terrorist militias an unforgettable lesson,” Gnounou added on Twitter.

Mostafa al-Majai, another GNA military spokesman, said the government forces had entered Tarhouna without any fighting after LNA forces had pulled out of the city into the desert.

“No reprisal acts have taken place inside the city. A large number of residents left the city days ago.

“This has made it easy to establish security there,” he told dpa.

A source in Haftar’s forces confirmed on Friday that LNA forces and their allies had left Tarhouna.

Haftar’s loyalists seized Tarhouna following the start of their campaign in April last year to capture Tripoli from the GNA.

Later on Friday, the GNA military said its forces had also taken full control of al-Urban, a town about 130 kilometres south-west of Tripoli.

GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj has vowed to bring all Libyan territory under his government’s control, according to the official Twitter account of the GNA forces.

“There is no concession in applying justice and law to bring to account everyone involved in perpetrating crimes against Libyans,” he was quoted as saying.

The GNA government has repeatedly accused Haftar and his forces of committing war crimes.

Libya has been in turmoil since a 2011 revolt toppled long-time dictator Muammer Gaddafi.

The oil-wealthy country is divided between two rival factions that are supported by different regional powers.

Turkey, along with Qatar, backs the GNA against Haftar, who is supported by Egypt, Russia, and the United Arab Emirates.

Also on Friday, the UN Security Council extended an arms embargo against Libya for 12 more months in a unanimous vote.

Germany’s deputy UN ambassador Juergen Schulz said strict adherence to the embargo is extremely important, adding that the resolution passed is a meaningful tool to ensure compliance.

The embargo has been in place since 2011, but is largely ineffective, as other countries continue to deliver arms and military equipment or send troops to join the conflict.

The European Union’s Operation Irini began monitoring activities in the Mediterranean Sea to uphold the embargo in May.

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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NOA DG lauds staff for dedication to fight against COVID-19

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Dr Garba Abari, Director-General of the National Orientation Agency (NOA) has lauded the staff of the agency (field officers) for  their dedication to the fight against COVID-19.

Abari particularly commended them raising awareness and advocacy as part of efforts to contain the spread of the virus in the country.

The director general commended the staff in a statement by the agency’s Head of Press Unit, Mr Paul Odenyi.

The NOA chief, who described as exceptional and unprecedented, efforts made so far by the staff to help curb the spread of the virus, also acknowledged  their “selfless dedication” to duty throughout the virus lockdown period.

He added that even in the face of limited resources, staff still did their best in sensitising citizens to the need to  adhere strictly to the safety protocol recommended by the government and the  World Health Organisation.

“I thank NOA staff for their generosity of spirit and for their industry in sourcing partnerships, which have sustained the COVID-19 sensitisation at the community level.

“Management takes note of this ingenuity and sacrifice.

“In spite of the paucity of funds, they ensured that the people remain well-informed to stay safe.

“This conduct is a clear reflection of the fact that NOA staff are genuine practitioners of the patriotism which they preach,” Abari said.

NOA boss, however, called on staff of the agency to remain vigilant and resolute in advocacy for hygienic practices as well as compliance with protocols and advisories from government and health workers, especially now that community transmission appeared to be on the increase

“This is not the time to relax. The number of infected people from community transmission has far outnumbered those who got infected from outside the country.

“This means that as community mobilisation officers and state directorates, you must add more efforts to reach the innermost parts of our communities,” he added

He further urged the staff to remain undeterred by the difficulties of the circumstances in which they work, and  to continue to justify the setting up of the institution more than thirty years ago.

“We must remain focused and zealous in the days ahead until COVID-19 is eradicated in Nigeria,” said.


Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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United States protests against police brutality met with excessive police force

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#PoliceBrutality, #PoliceViolence and #PoliceBrutalityProtests, have, among others, become trending hastags on United States social media as protests triggered by the death of George Floyd in police custody witnessed more incidents of excessive police force.

Two police officers of Buffalo, New York, were suspended without pay on Thursday after a viral video showed them pushing an old man to the ground at a protest over Floyd’s death.

“When I saw the video from Buffalo, it made me sick to my stomach. Where was the threat? How can you walk by a person when there’s blood coming out of his head? It’s fundamentally inhumane & frightening,” tweeted New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Friday.

The local police department first claimed the man tripped and fell, but the video told a different story. The 75-year-old man is in stable but serious condition in hospital, city leaders said.

In Atlanta, Georgia, six police officers have been fired with five of the facing charges of excessive force against two college students during a protest Saturday.

Body camera footage shows the two students, who were on their way home from picking up food when they got caught in traffic downtown caused by the protest, were hit with tasers by officers before being pulled out of their car.

A Philadelphia police commander has been charged with aggravated assault for allegedly beating a student from Temple University with a baton during a protest Tuesday in Center City district, the city’s district attorney said Friday night.

The cop is seen in a cell phone video attacking the student, then jumping on the student and making an arrest.

A police officer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, has been relieved of duty and placed on administrative leave after a viral video showed him knocking over a protester who was kneeling with her hands up.

The shaky footage shows the officer walked away from a crowd of demonstrators before shoving the protester who was kneeling behind him.

“Hi. You’re probably seeing this pinned tweet because cops are rioting nationwide and I’m trying to keep track,” wrote T. Greg Doucette, an attorney in North Carolina, who has compiled 323 clips of videotaped incidents by Friday evening at his Twitter account @greg_doucette.

“The use of force by police can’t pacify protests responding to the use of force by police,” commented David A. Graham in his story published in The Atlantic on May 31.

“The demonstrations around the country take as their starting point that police are brutalizing citizens of color. Law-enforcement officers and agencies have two ways to respond: They can affirm that complaint with aggressive policing and overwhelming force, or they can work to show they are on the same side, against brutality … but the aggressive strategy clearly doesn’t,” he said.

(XINHUA)

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New Zealand aims to eliminate COVID-19 against winter odds: ministry

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New Zealand is aiming to eliminate the COVID-19 virus despite challenges posed by the winter season, New Zealand Ministry of Health said Friday.

“The government is aiming for elimination of the COVID-19 virus or as close as possible to elimination, which will be backed up by intense surveillance to detect re-emergence of the virus, and prompt a public health response if new cases are found,” said a spokesperson from the ministry.

New Zealand has not reported any new case of COVID-19 in 14 consecutive days, promoting hope that the country could be one of the first nations in the world to eliminate the virus.

However, as the country enters the winter season from June, looking out for COVID-19 cases while seeing an increasing number of the usual respiratory viruses in winter will be a challenge.

“This is one of the reasons for the strong measures that have been taken,” said the spokesperson. “There is an ongoing possibility of putting alert levels back up again over the coming months if COVID-19 re-emerges and cannot be rapidly contained.”

Most illnesses caused by respiratory viruses are more common in the winter months. Influenza shows a very seasonal pattern, with increased illness, hospitalizations and deaths reaching a peak in the winter months in New Zealand.

“How the virus causing COVID-19 responds to colder temperatures is yet to be known, but it is assumed that any respiratory virus including COVID-19 will spread more easily in winter months because people are spending more time indoors and being closer to each other,” said the spokesperson.

“While this doesn’t mean the disease is more severe, but there could be more risks of spreading,” added the spokesperson.

According the ministry, to date, more than 1.744 million flu vaccines have been distributed nationwide to general practices, pharmacies, occupational health providers, district health boards and other vaccinators this year. Over 800,000 eligible people have been vaccinated so far this year, compared with just over 700,000 in 2019.

June, July and August are the winter months in New Zealand. Average temperatures in the winter months range from 1.5-15.5 degrees Celsius from south to north in the country.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Egypt, IMF reach 5.2-bln-USD credit deal to help Egypt against COVID-19 consequences

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Egypt and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reached a deal to provide the Egyptian government with a 12-month credit agreement worth 5.2 billion United States dollars to help the North African country deal with economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, Egyptian finance ministry announced Friday.

This agreement would be presented to the IMF Executive Board for final approval on the requested financing amount, the ministry said in a statement.

The agreement proves the continued confidence of international institutions, especially the IMF, in Egypt‘s economic, monetary and financial policies as well as the country’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, the ministry added.

It will help preserve the gains Egypt has achieved in recent years by implementing the economic reform program, according to the finance ministry.

On May 11, the IMF Executive Board approved Egypt‘s request for emergency financial assistance of 2.772 billion dollars over the COVID-19 outbreak.

Prior to the COVID-19 shock, Egypt carried out a successful economic reform supported by the IMF’s Extended Fund Facility to correct large external and domestic imbalances.

Egypt announced its first confirmed COVID-19 case on Feb. 14 and the first death from the highly infectious virus on March 8, both foreigners.

Until Friday night, Egypt‘s total coronavirus cases reached 31,115, including 1,166 deaths and 8,158 recoveries.

In mid-March, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi allocated 100 billion Egyptian pounds (6.35 billion United States dollars) to finance an anti-coronavirus plan.

Since March 25, the Egyptian government has been imposing a nighttime curfew, which varied between nine and 13 hours, to curb the spread of the virus.

The current nine-hour curfew will continue until mid-June, when the government will consider easing restrictions amid a coexistence plan to maintain anti-coronavirus precautionary measures while resuming economic activities.

(XINHUA)

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COVID-19: Oyo CAN cautions Christians against flouting govt. directives

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The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Oyo State Chapter, has called on Christians in the state  to comply with the all the directives of government including the lockdown of religious centres.

Pastor Benjamin Akanmu, the State Chairman, made the call on Friday while addressing newsmen in Ibadan.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the state government is yet to ease the lockdown on religious centres ocassioned by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Akanmu said that it was important to make official statement to guide the leadership of various churches and fellowship centres, amidst misleading information which had rented the air.

“In a situation like this, it is pertinent that the CAN leadership in the state clear the air on misleading information circulating around to save followers from falling victims of fake news or misinformation.

“This, if not addressed, may eventually subject followers to severe punishment, as we all know that ignorance is not an excuse in the court of law,” Akanmu said.

He said that the Federal Government has done the appropriate thing by relaxing the measures to allow each state make decisions based on the current situation and report on COVID-19 pandemic in a particular state.

“As at today, the decision of Oyo government is to retain the restrictions earlier imposed on lockdown of religious centres, curfew from 8pm to 6am and on social gathering.

“As residents of the state, we all should adhere strictly to the state directives. As Christians, we must honour and obey government regardless of the motive behind the decision, order or policy — either in good or bad faith.

“Even in a situation where government deliberately work against the church, God did not permit us to disobey or involve in violence,” he warned.

The CAN chairman said that the best way to chase away COVID-19 pandemic was for people to humble themselves before God,  confess their sins, turn away from evil and ask for the mercy of God.

“If we sincerely call for God’s intervention at this point, He will surely answer and set our nation free from the bondage of lockdown brought on us by the pandemic.

“Anything that is not of God, CAN will never support it. After all, it is the building that is lockdown, the spirit of Christ that dwell in us can not be silent,” he said.

Akanmu said that everything happens for good for those who trust in God, saying this was a period for the people to develop themselves spiritually.

That’s why as Christian leaders we train followers of Christ to be adequately equipped with the words of God, prayer and walk in the righteous path.

“Jesus did not call the pastors alone, he called everyone. He says, go ye into the world and preach the gospel. In other words, lockdown shouldn’t be an excuse to be far from God.

“For no reason should any Christian go against the law and order of the government. I believe that the Lord will return all our losses during the COVID-19 period in multiple folds in Jesus name,” he said. 


Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Oluwole Sogunle (NAN)

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Environment

World Environment Day: Oyetola warns Osun residents against environmental degradation

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Gov. Gboyega Oyetola of Osun has called on the people of the state to refrain from acts capable of undermining environmental sustainability.
Oyetola gave the warning at a tree planting programme, organised to commemorate this year’s World Environment Day, on Friday in Osogbo.
The
governor said that his administration would take proactive steps against those in the habit of encroaching into government’s forests for unlawful activities.
“We are prepared to invoke the full weight of the law on anyone caught engaging in illegal land clearing for farming, uncontrolled logging, gathering of firewood and deforestation,” he said.
The governor also said that anyone caught engaging in indiscriminate or ill-planned bush burning, high population rate, degradation of the environment occasioned by illegal mining and illegal hunting for bush meat would be dealt with.
Speaking on the theme of this year’s celebration, “Biodiversity”, Oyetola said that biodiversity was essential to human development, because “it is the foundation that supports all the lives on land and below the waters.”
The governor, who decried the poor environmental management culture, noted that on a global scale, biodiversity was being lost at higher rate than that of natural extinction.
He said that illegal land clearing for farming, uncontrolled logging, deforestation, bush burning and high population rate were among the factors affecting biodiversity conservation in the state.
Oyetola expressed his administration’s commitment to tree planting in order to reverse the situation.
Earlier in his address, the state Commissioner for Environment and Sanitation, Mr Sola Oladepo, said that nonchalant attitude towards biodiversity conservation in the past had culminated in massive degradation of forest reserves in the state.
Oladepo said that the state government was ready to plant one million trees across the state.


Edited By: Tayo Ikujuni and (NAN)‘Wale Sadeeq

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General news

Osun Govt mobilising available resources against COVID-19- Deputy Governor

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Osun Government says it is mobilising all available human and material resources to tackle the ravaging Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the state.

The State Deputy Governor, Mr Benedict Alabi, who also doubles as the Chairman, Osun COVID-19 Task Force, said that the state government was satisfied with efforts made so far to curb the spread of the virus in the state.

Alabi, while briefing newsmen on Friday in Osogbo, commended Gov. Gboyega Oyetola, for being proactive and his laudable level of commitment to activities of the task force to flatten the curve of the pandemic.

“I will like to commend Oyetola for providing leadership and for giving the needed support to fight this battle against the ravaging pandemic in Osun.

“With the level of preparedness of our governor, we were able to rise up to the occasion on time in curbing the spread of the pandemic, which helps to keep the figures relatively minimal,” he said.

The deputy governor said that Osun had more than 350 beds in its isolation centres, aside the ICU facility put in place.

He said the state government had also trained more than four thousand medical personnel to combat the virus.

Alabi, however, reiterated the resolve of the task force not to rest on its oars at ensuring that the spread of COVID-19 was contained.

He added that sample testing of suspected cases and enforcement of precautionary measures remained effective in the state.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the state has 47 confirmed cases.

It also has 35 treated and discharged, eight currently receiving treatment at isolation centre and four deaths recorded.


Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/ (NAN)
Olagoke Olatoye

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Foreign

Turks protest in Istanbul against police killing of unarmed United States black man

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Turkish people on Friday staged a protest in Istanbul against the killing of an unarmed black man in the United States last week.

The crowd gathered in front of the Trump Towers in the Sisli district of the European side of the largest Turkish city, chanting slogans against the killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 25.

Protesters carried banners, which read: “Long live international solidarity,” “Black lives matter,” and “Justice for George Floyd.”

In a press release, they expressed solidarity with the people in the United States, demanding justice for the murder.

The killing of George Floyd is not an isolated incident. On the contrary, it is the result of institutional racism in the United States,” the release said.

Several protesters wrote Floyd’s last words “I can’t breathe” over their facial masks.

On Thursday, a group of people had held a demonstration in front of the United States Consulate in Istanbul.

(XINHUA)

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