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Rights activist calls for national prayers over rising insecurity in Nigeria

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The Chairman of Civil Liberties Organisation in Anambra, Mr Vincent Ezekwueme, has expressed deep worry over the increasing spate of violent crimes in Nigeria.

Speaking in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency on Sunday in Enugu, Ezekwueme called for a national prayer for God’s intervention.

He spoke against the backdrop of increasing cases of kidnap and Thursday’s gruesome murder of a Catholic Priest, Rev.-Fr. Paul Offu, in Enugu state.

According to him, the security situation is become more despicable and scary on a daily basis.

He said: “Nigerians do not need a fortune teller to know that the security situation in the country  has become too pathetic and despicable.

“Concerted and selfless, patriotic and altruistic effort is not only needed but inevitable, if we must surmount the challenge.

“The killing of Rev.-Fr. Offu on Aug. 1 and the abduction of five persons on the Lagos-Ore expressway on Aug. 2 were barbaric, horrendous, inhuman, despicable and detestable.

“It is a complete negation of God’s injunction, which says, ‘touch not my anointed and do my prophet no harm.’’

Ezekwueme also appealed to criminally-minded persons, groups and the perpetrators of insecurity in most parts of the country to change their hearts and denounce criminality.

“I weep and lament for my country that some people take laws into their hands, decide and dictate who should live and who should not live.

“Fortunately, every religion preaches and teaches the sanctity of human life, in tandem with God’s commandment that `Thou shall not kill’.

“Before you become a Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hinduist, Atheist or believer in any other religion, you are first of all human,’’ the rights activist said.

He appealed to Nigerians to be humane, love one another and think about the common good and interest of all.

He warned that the shedding of innocent blood had very severe consequences.

 

 

 

 

Foreign

UN rights chief highlights “deep-seated grievances” in United States protests

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The grievances at the heart of the protests that have erupted in hundreds of U.S. cities need to be heard and addressed, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said on Wednesday.

“The voices calling for an end to the killings of unarmed African Americans need to be heard. The voices calling for an end to police violence need to be heard. And the voices calling for an end to the endemic and structural racism that blights U.S. society need to be heard,” Bachelet said in a press statement.

The UN rights chief believed that there are “credible reports of unnecessary and disproportionate use of force by law enforcement officers,” including indiscriminate and improper use of less-lethal weapons and ammunition.

Tear gas has been used to disperse peaceful demonstrators and rubber bullets and pepper balls have been fired at demonstrators and journalists who did not pose an imminent threat of serious injury, she said.

According to the UN official, there have been at least 200 reported incidents of journalists covering the protests being physically attacked, intimidated or arbitrarily arrested, despite their press credentials being clearly visible.

“What has been happening is an unprecedented assault on journalists. In some cases they have been attacked or even arrested while on air,” Bachelet said.

She also voiced deep concern about statements that have sought to label protesters as terrorists, or to delegitimize the mass outpouring of grief and peaceful protest by pointing to violence or destruction of property that has occurred in many locations.

“The anger we have seen in the United States, erupting as COVID-19 exposes glaring inequalities in society, shows why far-reaching reforms and inclusive dialogue are needed there to break the cycle of impunity for unlawful killings by police and racial bias in policing,” she said.

Repeating her call to protesters to express their demands for justice peacefully, the UN official also urged the police to take the utmost care not to enflame the situation through the use of excessive force.

The protests, which began in response to the death of an African American man, George Floyd, while in police custody on May 25, have continued spreading to more than 300 U.S. cities and towns.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Commentary: Washington should ditch sanctimonious double standards on human rights

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Washington has long been accustomed to lecturing others on human rights, yet the recent mass street protests sweeping across the United States against racial discrimination and police brutality, as well as the raging coronavirus pandemic rocking the country have slapped the self-proclaimed guardian of human rights in the face.

The tragic death of George Floyd is just the tip of the iceberg of human rights violations at home, notably against minority groups.

Over the decades, America‘s human rights record has gone from bad to worse because of persistent racial discrimination, growing law-enforcement abuses, rampant gun violence and a yawning wealth gap.

Across America today, African Americans are facing an ever higher risk of dying at the hands of police due to the color of their skin. According to Mapping Police Violence, a research and advocacy group, Black Americans are 2.5 times as likely as white Americans to be killed by law-enforcement officers.

Across America today, people of color are more likely to die during the deadly COVID-19 outbreak than the white population. Recent data compiled by the non-partisan APM Research Lab revealed that African Americans are dying at a rate of 50.3 per 100,000 people, compared with 20.7 for whites.

And across America today, equal job opportunities are still out of reach for minorities trapped in miscellaneous low-paying jobs. They constitute 58 percent of agricultural workers; 70 percent of maids and housekeepers; and 74 percent of concierges, baggage porters and bellhops, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.

It is true that those problems are very hard nuts to crack for a variety of reasons including the country’s increasingly polarized politics. Yet politicians of both parties seem to have lost the motivation, the wisdom and the ability to reach across the partisan divide and make a difference for the better. More troubling is that this White House has made things far worse.

As angry protesters continue to chant “Black Lives Matter” and “I Can’t Breathe” in more than 40 cities in the United States, the current administration has chosen not to communicate with demonstrators but put on a strongman show with incendiary threats.

The irony is that these Washington politicians who vow to be tough are the same ones who once loudly accused Hong Kong police of violating human rights for doing their job to stop masked rioters from blocking roads and vandalizing public and private property in the Chinese city.

Furthermore, this White House‘s pandemic response has been a human rights catastrophe. The United State is now tragically leading the world both in infections and fatalities.

The human right record of the United States is not only notorious at home but appalling aboard.

The United States has committed one human rights disaster after another across the globe in recent years. It overturned a government in Iraq and bombed civilians in Syria under the pretext of promoting so-called freedom and democracy. It has deported immigrant parents and caged their children. It has refused to lift its unilateral sanctions on Cuba and Iran, suffocating their fight against the pandemic.

The world‘s largest human rights abuser is no doubt the United States.

Still, some politicians in Washington, in their cold-blooded pursuit of American global dominance, have continued to use human rights as a political tool to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, introducing further chaos and instability in a world of growing crises and challenges.

George Washington, the first president of the United States, once wrote that “the bosom of America is open to receive not only the Opulent and respectable Stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations and Religions.”

If Washington were alive today, he would be deeply distressed that his country, instead of looking after the oppressed and persecuted, has become a bully against its own people and around the world. The current U.S. administration and those to follow should revisit the teachings of America’s founding fathers. They might learn a thing or two.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

UN rights chief highlights disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on racial, ethnic minorities

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United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said Tuesday that the alarming inequalities exposed by the COVID-19 outbreak are fueling the widespread protests affecting hundreds of cities across the United States.

“This virus is exposing endemic inequalities that have too long been ignored. In the United States, protests triggered by the killing of George Floyd are highlighting not only police violence against people of colour, but also inequalities in health, education, employment and endemic racial discrimination,” the UN human rights chief said in a press release issued Tuesday.

“It is a tragedy that it took COVID-19 to expose what should have been obvious, that unequal access to healthcare, overcrowded housing and pervasive discrimination make our societies less stable, secure and prosperous,” she added.

According to the UN official, the impact from COVID-19 on people of African descent as well as ethnic minorities in some countries seemed to be worse.

In the United States, she said, the COVID-19 death rate for African Americans is reported to be more than double that of other racial groups.

People from racial and ethnic minorities are also found in higher numbers in some jobs that carry increased risk, including in the transport, health and cleaning sectors, she said.

“The fight against this pandemic cannot be won if Governments refuse to acknowledge the blatant inequalities that the virus is bringing to the fore,” she said, adding that the efforts to tackle COVID-19 and to begin the recovery process will only be successful when “everyone’s rights to life and health are protected without discrimination”.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Minnesota governor announces civil rights probe into Minneapolis Police Department

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Minnesota Governor Tim Walz said Tuesday that his state is launching a civil rights probe into the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD), of which four police officers were involved in the brutal killing of unarmed black man George Floyd last week.

Walz said the Minnesota Department of Human Rights has filed the civil rights charge against the MPD and will investigate its “policies, procedures, and practices over the past 10 years to determine if they engaged in systemic discriminatory practices.”

“My administration will use every tool at our disposal to deconstruct generations of systemic racism in Minnesota,” the governor said on Twitter following a news conference. “This effort is one of many steps to come in our effort to restore trust with communities that have been unseen and unheard for far too long.”

Floyd died on May 25 after being pinned to the ground by four MPD police officers, who arrested him for allegedly using a fake 20-dollar note to buy cigarettes. All of the officers have been fired, and Derek Chauvin, the one who kept his knee down on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes even as Floyd pleaded desperately for his life, has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.

“This is not about holding people personally criminally liable,” said Minnesota Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero, who will lead the just-announced investigation. “This is about systems change.”

Floyd’s death instigated nationwide protests against police brutality and racism that have persisted for a week now.

As demonstrations escalated into violent unrests in some parts of the country, United States President Donald Trump on Monday threatened the use of the military to clamp down on the protesters, a response that drew immediate condemnation from his political opponents, including former Vice President Joe Biden, whom Trump is all but certain to face off in the general election later this year.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Turkey vows to protect rights, interests in Mediterranean

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Turkey will uncompromisingly continue to protect its rights and interests in the Mediterranean, the country’s National Security Council said on Tuesday.

The council said in a statement that it held a face-to-face meeting for the first time in four months to evaluate the “negative approach of these actors towards the legitimate and legal steps” of Ankara in the Mediterranean.

Chaired by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, chiefs of the Turkish security apparatus and relevant ministers discussed domestic and international security issues faced by the country, the statement said.

The council said that the protection of Turkey’s rights, interests in land, sea, and air in the Mediterranean “will continue without compromise.”

“Turkey will also continue military support to the Libyan government in Tripoli,” read the statement.

“The military consultancy services provided by our country will be maintained for the efforts of the legitimate government, which is recognized by the UN, to ensure peace and tranquility throughout the country (Libya),” it said.

Turkey called on the international society to take a “principled stance” against those who target the legitimate Libyan government in Tripoli, said the statement, referring to General Khalifa Haftar who fights the rival UN-backed government.

In 2019, Turkey signed a memorandum of understanding for maritime delimitation with Libya’s UN-backed government of national accord, and planned to launch drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean upon the deal.

The agreement fueled tensions in Turkey’s dispute with Greece, Cyprus and Egypt over the oil and gas drilling rights in the area.

After sealing a military cooperation deal with the government in Tripoli, Turkey also sent security officials to Libya to support the UN-backed government led by Fayez al-Sarraj.

(XINHUA)

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Economy

UPDC lists N16bn rights issue on NSE

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UACN Property Development Company (UPDC) Plc on Tuesday, listed N16 billion rights issue of 15.96 billion ordinary shares at N1 per share on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).

With the listing, the company became yet another beneficiary of the Exchange’s  commitment to providing continued access to capital even in the face of COVID-19.

Mr Oscar Onyema, NSE’s Chief Executive Officer, speaking at the virtual Closing Gong ceremony to commemorate the listing, commended the company for the successful completion of the rights issue.

“We congratulate the management and team at UACN Property Development Company, as well as the professional parties to the issue for the successful completion of the transaction.

At the NSE, we prioritise our responsibility to support the development of issuers, dealing member firms and the investing public, and we continue to work assiduously to respond to the needs of our stakeholders at every time.

“We are, therefore, pleased to provide support to UPDC on this successful capital raise, and we remain committed to providing opportunities for trading activities across multiple asset classes – equities, bonds, ETFs,” Onyema said.

He said the Exchange would remain focused on leveraging technology and business innovation to sustain full operations during this pandemic.

Commenting on the transaction, Mr Folasope Aiyesimoji, UPDC Group Managing Director, lauded the NSE for embracing technology.

“I am deeply honoured to virtually sound the Closing Gong at the NSE today.

“The innovation and forward thinking displayed by the Exchange in harnessing technology to make this possible is truly commendable.

We at UPDC are excited about the milestone we have achieved today, and we are confident that the funds raised will further strengthen our capital structure and position us for growth.

“We count ourselves fortunate to be listed on the NSE which exposes us to a wide pool of investors and funding options.

“We must also commend the NSE for its efforts in building investor confidence, which has made it possible for us to access this capital.

“We are grateful for the trust reposed in us by investors and we are keen to get on with the invaluable projects this capital will support,” Aiyesimoji said.


Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Salif Atojoko (NAN)

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General news

Ibadan businessman petitions new Oyo CP over alleged rights infringement

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An Ibadan-based businessman, Mr Peter Asa, has petitioned the new Commissioner of Police in Oyo State, Nwachukwu Enwonwu, over alleged infringement on his fundamental rights by the police.
Asa, in his petition, entitled: ‘Save My Soul’, and made available to newsmen on Tuesday in Ibadan, said that his rights had been grossly infringed upon.
He alleged that some police officers were being used to silence him over a certain property sold to him by a company, UAC, in 2020 for N26 million.
Asa, popularly known as King Zion, named a certain man as the brain behind his recent detention for three days at the Iyaganku police station.
The businessman said that the inaugural speech of the new police boss, where he pledged never to tolerate any infringement on the fundamental human rights of any member of the public by his officers and men, motivated his distress call.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Enwonwu, who took over from Mr Shina Olukolu, who had been transferred to the Force Criminal Investigation Department in Lagos State, assumed duty on June 1.
Asa, while alleging that the man in question had sponsored several attacks on him, using security agents, implored the police commissioner to carry out an investigation on the case.
“Two officers from Iyaganku, on a recent Thursday afternoon, around 2 pm., at the premises of a bank in Dugbe, arrested and treated me like a common criminal.
“I was taken to Iyaganku police station and kept in detention with criminally-minded suspects for three days.
“The officers arrested me and said my attention was needed at Iyaganku.
“There
is no iota of truth in what I was alleged of. They said I was responsible for the fire incident at the said property, which I duly paid for over 18 years ago.
“The ownership right on the matter is still in court and I will not want to go there. But as a pastor, I know truth will prevail at the end, as I have faith in God that I will get justice, no matter what,” he said.
Asa said that the fire incident happened in broad daylight on April 15 and that he was arrested on May 14, allegedly on a trumped up charge that he was responsible for the inferno.
He said that his arrest came after the officials of Oyo State government had fingered a welder working in one of the shops in the complex as the brain behind the inferno.


Edited By: Bayo Sekoni and (NAN)‘Wale Sadeeq

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Health

Declare state of emergency on sexual violence, Rights activist urges FG

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A Human rights activist, Ms Dorothy Njemanze, on Tuesday urged the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency on the high rate of sexual violence in Nigeria.

Njemanze made the call while reacting to the circumstances that led to the death of Miss Uwaila Omozuwa, a 100-level student of the Department of Microbiology, University of Benin (UNIBEN), Ikpoba Hill axis.

Omozuwa was allegedly raped after her head was smashed with a fire extinguisher, which consequently led to her death at a place of worship in Benin.

“The outrage that followed the rape and killing of a 22-year-old student, Uwavera Omozuwa, in a place of worship in Edo, had led to a call for a state of emergency on sexual violence.

“Declaring a state of emergency will ensure that a stricter model that involves a comprehensive investigation and prosecution of offenders is adopted to curb the menace,” she said.

Njemanze decried the poor handling of many rape cases by the police, urging them to be more proactive and bring the perpetrators of the heinous act to justice.

“By now, we expect the police to have arrested all those who took to social media to confess to rape as the hashtag justice for Uwa trended.

“As you may know, hashtag justice for Uwa stirred conversations about rape in Nigeria. It quickly turned sour when several confession tweets by rapists emerged.

“But, it is unfortunate that nothing is done about those social media confessions,” she said.

Also, Ms Ummi Bukar, a gender rights activist, blamed the rising cases of rape in the country on poor parenting.

“Poor parenting means that so many young people do not have a proper orientation about these issues.

“But beyond parental roles, we are advocating a cultural shift that will truly abolish gender roles in our society,” she said.


Edited By: Folorunso Poroye/Olagoke Olatoye (NAN)

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Foreign

Immigration rights activists call United States routine deportations amid pandemic “outrageous”

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Immigration rights activists in Mexico have been outraged by the U.S. government’s routine deportations of undocumented migrants amid the COVID-19 pandemic without taking any health precautions.

It’s “outrageous,” said Ana Laura Lopez, founder of advocacy group “Deportees United in the Struggle.”

The group has aided deportees who complained of a general lack of adequate health and sanitary measures at U.S. detention centers, and throughout deportation proceedings, Lopez told Xinhua.

In addition, deportees found it hard to process needed documents or even buy basic necessities amid the COVID-19 lockdown, which ordered many government offices and non-essential businesses to close or curtail operations.

“We know what the posture of (United States President Donald) Trump‘s administration is: inhumane. If it was already inhumane before, it’s worse now — it is horribly evident,” said Lopez.

Migrant shelters along Mexico’s northern border with the United States, including the Catholic Church-run Nazareth Migrant Shelter in Nuevo Laredo, in the northeast state of Tamaulipas, have been wary of COVID-19 outbreaks sparked by the ongoing deportations.

In April, 15 migrants at the shelter, which borders the U.S. state of Texas, tested positive for the virus, piling more woes atop the residents’ existing concerns, recalled Father Marvin Ajic, a priest.

Six of the migrants were Honduran, four Mexican, three Cuban, and one from Guatemala and one Cameroon. Among them were minors aged 10, 13 and 16.

Being isolated “was painful for each of them,” said Ajic, adding that “it is important to take into consideration mental and psychological health.”

Since 2019, the United States‘ so-called Migrant Protection Protocols have allowed it to deport undocumented migrants seeking asylum in Mexico, where they await the outcomes of applications.

A COVID-19 outbreak at the shelter “was inevitable,” given that “a large percentage of those arriving had been in prisons” in the United States, which have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, warned Ajic.

Other Latin American countries such as Guatemala, Colombia, Haiti and Jamaica have also reported cases of deportees infected with COVID-19.

Some 986 migrants at more than 40 U.S. detention centers have tested positive for the virus, figures from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency show.

To prevent the spread of the outbreak, Mexican authorities have geared up to monitor deportees via temperature checks and other measures, as many of them return to their communities and rejoin families and friends, said Brenda Cardenas, head of the state-run Tamaulipas Migrant Institute.

(XINHUA)

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