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Indian High Commission marks International Yoga Day



Indian High Commission and Indian Cultural Association on Sunday organised a Yoga session to mark fifth International Yoga Day to enhance healthy living.

Mr Sanjay Jain, the President, Indian Cultural Association, said in a statement on Sunday in Abuja that International Yoga Day aims to raise awareness worldwide of the many benefits of practising yoga.

According to Jain, Yoga is an ancient physical, mental and spiritual practice that originated in India.

He said the word ‘Yoga’ is derived from Sanskrit and means to join or to unite, symbolising the union of body and consciousness.

According to him, Yoga is not just about exercise but a way to discover the sense of oneness with you, the world and nature.

“Some of the benefits from practising Yoga include enhancing vitality, focus, memory and productivity.

“It also stabilises the body, mind and emotions, strengthens as well as stabilises the spine,’’ Jain said.

He added that yoga could relieve back pain, stress, anxiety and tension, relieves from chronic ailments and improves overall health.

“Yoga enhances teamwork and communication, imparts a lasting sense of joy, peace and fulfilment.’’

Recognising the importance of Yoga, he said the United Nations proclaimed June 21 as International Yoga Day by passing a resolution.

He said the draft resolution establishing the Day was proposed by India and endorsed by 175 member states.

The resolution further notes the importance of individuals and populations making healthier choices and following lifestyle patterns that foster good health.

“It is in that regard that the World Health Organisation also urged its member states to help their citizens reduce physical inactivity, which is among the top ten leading causes of death worldwide,’’ Jain said.

According to him, inactivity is a key risk factor for non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer and diabetes.

Jain said that celebrating World Yoga Day at the premises of Indian High Commission in the last three years would boost the information and knowledge levels of people.

He said it would further increase awareness on Yoga so that more Nigerians would adopt it in their daily lives.

Edited by Abdulfatah Babatunde



UN must insist on freedom of expression, association – GA president



President of the General Assembly (PGA), Amb. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, says the United Nations must continue to insist on protection of the freedom of expression and association around the world.

Muhammad-Bande stated this at an interactive session with representatives of civil society organisations at the UN headquarters in New York on Monday.

He noted that there could be no democracy and peace if people were not allowed to freely associate and express themselves.

“The United Nations must continue to affirm freedom of association and freedom of expression regardless of location.

“Without these we cannot have a democracy and peace. Therefore, the thing is for the UN to continue to join others in insisting that the rights of individuals be upheld,’’ he said.

In the same breath, the PGA noted that freedom of expression is not absolute, and urged citizens to exercise their rights with a sense of responsibility.

However, he said authorities must subject themselves to judicial process in dealing with individuals who violate the law in the course of exercising their rights.

“That you are a journalist or a teacher does not mean you cannot do wrong.

“But if someone violates the law, let the courts make a determination and let us respect the court.

“There is also judicial process; let all of us submit ourselves to that process and let that process be fair’’, he said.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the PGA was responding to a question that sought his plans on advancement of human rights with focus on freedom of the press.

It came from the Secretary-General of the International Peace Research Association, Mr Mort Myr, who said the association was concerned about the difficulties faced by journalists from authorities.

Myr specifically mentioned the case of Omoyele Sowore, a prominent journalist, being held by the Federal Government on charges of treasonable felony and money laundering.

Sowore, publisher of Sahara Reporters, an online news medium, and presidential candidate in the February 2019 presidential election, was arrested by the Department of State Service (DSS) on Aug. 3.

The arrest came two days before a planned nationwide protest tagged #RevolutionNow, which was to be led by him.

The DSS still has him in custody even after meeting the conditions for a second bail granted him by a federal judge since Oct. 4.

edited by Sadiya Hamza

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UNGA President to pay first official visit to Nigeria



President of the United Nations General Assembly (PGA), Amb. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, will on Wednesday begin a five-day official visit to Nigeria.

His spokesperson, Ms Reem Abaza, said in a statement on Monday that the PGA was travelling to his home country to participate in a meeting of the Stakeholder Group on Ageing Africa (SGA Africa).

SGA Africa is a coalition of civil society organisations on ageing, human right institutes and Institutes on ageing in the continent.

It is a platform for stakeholders to work “on multi-levels as members of the UN ECA African Regional Civil Society Engagement Mechanism group to achieve SDGs Agenda 2030 and AU Agenda 2063’’.

The meeting, according to Abaza, is the region’s expert conference on the human rights situation of older persons for the purpose of strengthening the protection of their rights.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that this would be Muhammad-Bande’s first official visit to Nigeria since assumption of office as President of the 74th Session of the GA on Sept. 17.

During the visit, he is expected to “highlight his priorities for the 74th Session’’, according to the spokesperson.

Muhammad-Bande will also mobilise support for multilateralism and rule-based systems “as the most potent avenues for fostering dialogue and proffering solution to global problems’’.

He also expected to underscore the importance of international cooperation in sensitising national governments on the human rights situation of older persons in Africa.

“The PGA will also seize the opportunity of his visit to thank the government and people of Nigeria for their support prior to and after his election and inauguration as President of the 74th Session of the GA.

“The President will also interact with women’s groups and members of civil society organisations.

“During his visit, Muhammad-Bande will meet with H.E. Muhammadu Buhari, President of Nigeria and other senior government officials including H.E. Geoffrey Onyeama, Minister of Foreign Affairs and H.E. Pauline Talen, Minister of Women Affairs.

“The President of the General Assembly will also visit the recently reconstructed UN house,’’ Abaza said, adding that he will depart Nigeria on Nov. 25.

Edited by Wale Ojetimi

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Jumia suspends its e-commerce business in Cameroon



Online retailer Jumia Technologies, often called “the Amazon of Africa”, said it had suspended its e-commerce platform activities in Cameroon on Monday because it was not suitable for the country.

Its shares have tumbled from its Wall Street initial public offering price of 14.50 dollars in April, hitting a record low of 5.10 dollars on Monday after third-quarter results missed revenue estimates for the second time in three quarters.

“Based on our review, we came to the conclusion that our transaction portal as it is run today is not suitable to the current context in Cameroon,” the company said in a statement.

The company added that its e-commerce operations there had been suspended.

Founded in 2012 by two French former McKinsey consultants, Jumia has grown quickly to become Africa’s leading e-commerce firm, operating in more than a dozen countries across Africa.

With an e-commerce business similar to Amazon and a classified portal like Alibaba, it sells from its own stock and takes a cut of third-party transactions on its website.

Jumia said it would continue supporting buyers and vendors in Cameroon using its classified portal, known as Jumia Deals.

Edited by Fatima Sule/Felix Ajide

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ADB, India sign $91m loan for irrigation farming project



The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of India on Monday signed a 91 million dollars loan to modernise an irrigation system in the country, official sources said.

The loan would help t in southern state of Karnataka in preparing river basin management plans in the ‘Krishna River Basin’.

The project will help improve irrigation water use efficiency and contribute to improving sustainable water security in Karnataka.

After the signing, a top official in Ministry of Finance Sameer Khare said that the investment programme would help the state government in strengthening its institutions involved in integrated water resource management.

Khare said that modernising the irrigation system infrastructure would improve water use efficiency in the state.

ADB’s Country Director Kenichi Yokoyama said that the project loan would continue to strengthen state and basin institutions for the “Integrated and Sustainable Water Resources Management Investment Programme (IWRM).”

This will also finance the modernisation of Vijayanagara Channels by upgrading headworks and about 442 kilometers of main, distributaries and minor canals.

The project interventions are also tackling inefficient water use in agriculture that accounts for over 84 per cent of the state’s total water use.

This will improve water availability to meet the rising demand from other users in the state.

About 30 water user cooperative societies will also be established and strengthened for improving their farmer irrigation canals under the second project. (Xinhua/NAN)

Edited by Fatima Sule/Emmanuel Yashim

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23 arrested in Europe-wide operation against smuggling of artefacts



A large-scale operation against smugglers in Europe has led to the arrest of 23 people and the seizure of some 10,000 archaeological artefacts, Europol and Eurojust said in a statement on Monday.

According to Europol and Eurojust, as part of the operation conducted by the European Union’s (EU) police and justice agencies, 103 searches were conducted, with the same number of seizures made.

The artefacts came from the southern Italian region of Calabria.

Two Calabrians from Crotone province were in charge of the criminal network, with middlemen in France, Germany, Britain, and Serbia.

Police forces from all countries involved helped to bust the ring, Italy’s Cultural Ministry said.

Culture Minister Dario Franceschini thanked everyone, who had helped take part in the investigations.

In the southern German city of Munich, historical coins had been confiscated during the action after the apartment and workspace of a 31-year-old Italian woman and her 37-year-old brother were searched.

(Edited by Fatima Sule/Emmanuel Yashim)

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S. Africa’s parliament warns against attempt to sabotage national carrier



South Africa’s Parliament on Monday warned against any “restless” attempt to satotage South African Airways (SAA) being gripped by a strike.

Recent reports in the public domain urging South Africans not to fly with SAA “are restless” and would sabotage the national carrier, said Khaya Magaxa, chairperson of Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises.

Magaxa said that parliament noted with concern the utterances made by trade unions currently engaged in the SAA strike.

The South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), which organised the strike, had urged South Africans to avoid SAA as its flights would be operated by short-term contracted personnel without the requisite experience.

The unions made the appeal after SAA announced on Sunday that its international flights would be resumed from Sunday night after being suspended since Friday when SAA employees began an indefinite strike.

The airline said in a statement that it had taken the decision to reinstate international service on its route network after assessment of its personnel numbers who are available and willing to operate the flights.

The airline said that while some employees are on strike and have elected to do so in exercising their rights, the airline has a duty to render services to its customers where it has employees who have elected to report for work.

Magaxa said his committee acknowledges the challenges facing SAA, which are a direct result of malfeasance and corruption.

“Workers are not responsible for the situation at the national carrier,” said Magaxa.

He urged SAA management and unions to negotiate to find a solution to resolve the strike, as it has serious ramifications for SAA’s financial situation and other unintended consequences in the economy and the tourism sector.

“The committee would like to appeal to workers not to damage and destroy SAA’s credibility.

“If the employees continue down the path of destruction, this will lead to the destruction of jobs that we seek to protect and increase,” Magaxa said.

According to him, the SAA brand is important in ensuring improvement and profitability.

The work stoppage came after the national flag carrier rejected demands for an eight-percent wage increase and planned to go ahead with its retrenchment of 944 jobs — almost a fifth of its employees, as part of its turnaround strategy.

Cash-strapped SAA has relied on government bailouts for continued operation mainly due to poor management.

Over the past 13 years, the flag carrier has incurred over 28 billion rand (about 1.9 billion U.S. dollars) in cumulative losses.

This loss in revenue is compounded by the fact that the airline is already technically insolvent, without sufficient capital to fund its daily operations. (Xinhua/NAN)


(Edited by Emmanuel Yashim)

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