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Sudan war: FG desperate to rescue 5,500 Nigerians by road, seek Egypt’s support

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The Federal Government is making preparations to evacuate about 5,500 stranded Nigerians out of Sudan through the Egyptian town of Luxor, The PUNCH gathered on Sunday.

It was gathered that the Federal Government was seeking Egypt’s support so that the stranded Nigerians could be moved to Luxor.

The Director of Special Duties of the National Emergency Management Agency, who doubles as Chairman of NEMA’s Committee for the Evacuation of the Stranded Nigerians from Sudan, Dr Onimode Bandele, said the Federal Government was meeting with government officials in Egypt on how to move Nigerians out of Sudan through Egypt.

Bandele said this as the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, in an interview with Channels Television on Sunday, said the government had concluded arrangements to evacuate 5,500 Nigerians in Sudan by road.

According to him, Nigeria, for security reasons, will get authorisation from the Sudanese government before the evacuation.

The conflict between the Sudanese armed forces and the paramilitary group, Rapid Support Force, has claimed over 400 lives with thousands of others injured and millions displaced.

The clashes broke out between erstwhile allies, General Abdel al-Burhan who heads the Sudanese Armed Forces and the RSF paramilitary group, led by General Mohamed Dagalo.

Several ceasefires that had seemingly been agreed upon by both sides were ignored, including a three-day pause to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which started on Friday.

The Federal Government had on Friday explained that the tense situation in Sudan was making it difficult for stranded Nigerian citizens to be evacuated from the country.

The Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, said though the Nigerian Mission in Sudan and the NEMA had put in place arrangements to evacuate the citizens, it was impossible for any flight during this period of war as all airports and land borders in Sudan were closed.

However, giving an update on the rescue plan on Sunday, Bandele stated, “Let us make it clear that the situation in Sudan is an internal conflict. It is not Sudan versus another country. It is two factions against themselves. However, we are in touch with our ambassador in Sudan, and in fact, I spoke to him about two hours ago.

“The situation does not allow anybody to go in and pick any of their citizens. It may interest you to know that the governments of Qatar and France tried to move some of their citizens yesterday (Saturday) and they were attacked, so they have to beat a retreat.

“However, as I speak to you, the Director-General of NEMA, Mustapha Ahmed, is already in Cairo, and some 30 minutes ago he had a meeting with Ambassador Nura Rimi, the Nigerian Ambassador to Egypt.”

On measures being explored by the Federal Government, Bandele said though there was a window of moving Nigerians through Addis Ababa, the current option on the ground was to see how Egypt could help bring out some Nigerians in Sudan first.

He noted, “The Nigerian government is exploring a diplomatic pact with Egypt, to see if Egypt can help us make arrangements to get into Sudan and move our people to safety at a town called Luxor in Egypt.

“There is another window too in Addis Ababa, however, that will be explored between Ambassador Rimi and the ambassador in Ethiopia. But the point I want to make here is that nobody who is thinking straight will just go into Sudan to move anybody.

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“Mind you, some of those countries that we say had moved their citizens, some of them have fewer than 50 citizens in Sudan, but for Nigeria, if we do an evacuation today, it will be up to thousands.”

Asked to state the estimated number of Nigerians in Sudan, Bandele replied, “In fact, from the figures we’ve got from our ambassador, 2,000 Nigerians are ready for evacuation, and he said the population of students that we need to move is about 3,000. So we are working with a figure of about 5,000 Nigerians.

“And if we are going to move these 5,000 Nigerians out of Sudan with a 50-seater bus, you’ll be needing 100 buses, and that is too large a convoy for anybody to guarantee. So these are the technicalities that are involved and you need to be careful.

“Also, when you are doing this kind of planning, you don’t just go to social media, because it is a security issue. You don’t know who is reading it, you don’t know who is happy with us.”

This, he said, was why NEMA had decided to leave the evacuation process at the level of high-ranking officers, “because if we say we are going to take Nigerians in segments of a maximum of 10 buses, which will be about 500 persons, this is still very large.”

Bandele added, “So let the modalities be worked out there and once we finalise and we are sure there is going to be security cover for us to move out of Sudan to the safe place in Egypt, we will release another statement and we can now activate the evacuation proper.”

On his part, the minister stated that the evacuation plan by road became imperative following the attack on the flight of the French rescue team in Sudan.

He said, “We have been given the cost estimate and all the details. They gave us a figure of 5,500 who are ready for evacuation. Obviously, what you need in a situation like this is a place where everybody can congregate before you start moving them out. Because the airports, as you pointed out in your report, are out of commission. The only viable way out is by road. Of course, it’s totally safe. So we want to require the government to provide some security and a safe corridor out.

“Our situation is particularly challenging because the numbers are so great. Some countries like the US and European countries have started evacuating. But what they’ve been evacuating were actually their diplomatic staff. They haven’t been able to start evacuating their citizens there. We can’t evacuate all our diplomatic staff at the moment because they need to also coordinate the evacuation of all those students that we’re talking about.”

Continuing, Onyeama said the ministry was taking a careful step not to endanger the lives of stranded Nigerians by soliciting security protection from the Sudanese authorities.

“So essentially, where we are at the moment is trying to get the authorisation from the Sudanese government to undertake this long journey and for them to provide some security. Now we don’t want to take any risk or risk the lives of any Nigerian. Yesterday, for instance, how the French in trying to evacuate their citizens came under fire. We don’t want to expose our brothers and sisters to that danger as well.

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“We are doing everything we can to get the requisite approval for the Sudanese government at the very highest level. I was in touch today with somebody in the Office of the President and made a formal request to have a safe corridor to evacuate our people. And they confirmed that they had received it and they would be giving us attention.”

Meanwhile, in a statement on Sunday, the Nigerian Embassy in Khartoum, Sudan, warned trapped Nigerians to desist from evacuating themselves towards the borders of Sudan without securing clearance from Sudanese authorities.

The warning came against the backdrop of a notice circulated by the National Association of Nigerian Students in Sudan asking students to converge on the African International University, NANS office and El-Razi University for evacuation or to bring $100 or $200 for evacuation.

A student union executive of the Noble College in Sudan, Idris Wakama, had also told The PUNCH that Nigerian students Madani and Umdurman would converge on Khartoum before travelling to Ethiopia by road.

He said the Nigerian Embassy in Sudan had assured them that they would be evacuated but was waiting for the approval of the Federal Government to allow trapped Nigerians to go by road to Al Qadarif.

He added, “Other students who do not stay in Khartoum have been asked to come to Khartoum. Our fellow students only study in Khartoum, Madani and Omdurman.

“The Embassy of Nigeria, Khartoum said the Federal Government will pick us up from Ethiopia. We will travel from Khartoum to a state called Al Qadarif. But we are facing some difficulties because the transportation expenses from Khartoum to Ethiopia are on the students and some students are out of money. From Khartoum to Al Qadarif is six hours by road and we have told students to hold 60,000-70,000 Sudanese pounds.’’

But the embassy in a statement by the Charge d’affaires, H.Y. Garko urged the students to be calm, while it said the evacuation would commence soon.

It read, “The Embassy of Federal Republic Nigeria, Khartoum, wishes to inform all students in Sudan that they should disregard the notice circulated by the NANS in Sudan, calling students to converge on the three locations namely: African International University, NANS office and El-Razi University, for evacuation or to bring $100 or $200 for evacuation.

“As the embassy had earlier informed students, you are therefore requested to stay calm and remain indoors, while the embassy is working on final approval to commence evacuation.

“It is still dangerous to embark on a journey toward the borders of Sudan without securing clearance and guarantee from Sudanese authorities. The embassy wishes to reassure the Nigerian students that their safety and well-being are of priority concern.”

The Yoruba Students’ Union in Sudan, in a statement on Saturday night, appealed to the South-West governors to collaborate with the Federal Government for the evacuation of the students.

But on Sunday, the President of the union in Sudan, Mubarak Ahmed, in an interview with The PUNCH, expressed hope of evacuation from Khartoum on Tuesday or Wednesday.

According to Ahmed, an evacuation was scheduled for Sunday, but it was cancelled for security reasons.

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He added that there were no alternative means to leave as the Khartoum airport had been destroyed on the first day of the war, leaving a land evacuation to Ethiopia as the only option.

While the conflict was getting deadlier, Ahmed said the embassy had assured them that they would make the evacuation possible by Tuesday or Wednesday.

He said, ”It is serious. Here in Khartoum, we have different universities and heads of universities and people from the North here are more than the people from the South. So, people from Oyo, Lagos and Osun states all together formed the Yoruba union.

“Today (Sunday), there was supposed to be an evacuation but the embassy didn’t allow it because of security reasons so we hope by Tuesday/ Wednesday, they will evacuate us from Khartoum.’’

Speaking on an alternate route out of the war-torn country, the union leader said, “No, there are no alternative means to leave Sudan because since the first day of the war, the airport was destroyed in Khartoum and that is the only main airport people use, but another alternative is land evacuation which is by foot from Khartoum to Ethiopia.’’

In an interview with one of our correspondents, the Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, said the state would be willing to assist in the evacuation of the students.

He said, “If we need to do something, we are going to. But at the moment, the Federal Government is doing a lot.’’

Narrating his ordeal in a video shared by Reuters, a student who did not identify himself revealed how scared he was when a bomb went off close to his shelter.

He said this was besides his lack of access to food and water.

Commenting on the delay in the evacuation of Nigerians, the frightened student said, “Is it that we are cursed or something? You see other countries evacuating their nationals, they are eager, and they are showing that they care and that they value their lives.

‘’But for us, our own country is just full of excuses, ‘there is no money, it’s going to cost a lot’. Is it that the money is more valuable than 4,000 lives of Nigerian citizens living in Sudan, for God’s sake? Though we can say that we are from poor backgrounds, all of us are here, but that is not a reason for us to be ignored. We are really pained, we cried to the extent that, you know, tears cannot come out anymore.’’

Meanwhile, several countries have evacuated diplomats and citizens from Sudan’s capital as fierce fighting continues to rage in Khartoum.

The United States and the United Kingdom announced on Sunday they had flown diplomats out of the country.

France, Germany and Italy are among other countries also organising evacuations, starting on Sunday.

US authorities said they had airlifted fewer than 100 people with three Chinook helicopters on Sunday morning in a “fast and clean” operation.

The US embassy in Khartoum is now closed, and a tweet on its official feed says it is not safe enough for the government to evacuate private US citizens.

The UK government managed to airlift British diplomats and their families out of the country in what was described as a “complex and rapid” operation.

 

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‘It is unacceptable’ — Obi faults proposed purchase of presidential aircraft

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Peter Obi introduced two dangerous things into politics – Presidency

Peter Obi, the Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate in the 2023 elections, has faulted the proposal to purchase new presidential aircraft.

Recently, the house of representatives committee on national security and intelligence asked the federal government to purchase new aircraft for President Bola Tinubu and Vice-President Kashim Shettima.

The committee’s recommendation was contained in a report released after it investigated the status of the aircraft in the presidential air fleet.

In May, the house of representatives mandated the committee to conduct a “comprehensive investigation” into the aircraft in the presidential fleet to ascertain their airworthiness and technical status.

Shettima cancelled his trip to the United States due to a fault with his aircraft. The vice-president was to represent Tinubu at the 2024 US-Africa business summit.

Reacting to the development, Obi, in a statement published on Monday on X, said the proposal for a new aircraft “highlights the disconnect between the government and the people”.

“With rising insecurity, poverty, hunger, and homelessness, this decision highlights the disconnect between the government and the people,” Obi wrote.

“It is unacceptable and demands a more compassionate use of resources, prioritizing citizens’ welfare.

“It’s on record that our presidential jets have an average age of 12 years, purchased when most Nigerians could afford basic necessities.

“Now, as our country faces significant challenges, including a high debt profile, our citizens are in even greater need.

“Instead of adding to our luxuries, we should be focused on alleviating their suffering and finding solutions to their problems.

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“For long, our bad leadership has made our priorities, as leaders, to be at variance to the needs of society, which is why we are headed now south as a nation.”

The former Anambra governor also faulted the construction of a N21 billion official residence for Shettima amid economic hardship.

“To elucidate further, despite dropping down to the fourth-largest economy in Africa, with a GDP of $252 billion and a per capita income of $1,080, with huge debt burdens and borrowing to service debts, yet we are spending $15 million for our Vice President’s residence, while the USA, the world’s largest economy with a GDP of $25 trillion, about 100 times our GDP, and a per capita income of $80,000, about 80 times ours, still houses their Vice President in Number 1 Observatory Circle, a house built over 100 years ago and whose value is obviously less than the $15 million we are spending on our VP’s residence.”

Obi said it is time for the political class to stop “recklessness” and focus on the needs of the people.

“It’s, therefore, time to stop this impunity, insensitivity, and shamelessness and refocus on the needs of our people. We must prioritize education, healthcare, and lifting our citizens out of poverty,” the former Anambra governor added.

“Let us work together to build a nation that truly serves its people, not just the interests of a few. Let’s rise to the challenge and build this new Nigeria, which is now more possible than ever before.”

Source: The Cable

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Abayomi: Cholera strain in Lagos highly contagious — but cases now declining

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Abayomi: Cholera strain in Lagos highly contagious — but cases

On Sunday, Akin Abayomi, the commissioner for health, said Lagos has recorded 17 confirmed cases of cholera and 15 fatalities so far.

He said laboratory investigation has confirmed the strain to be cholera sub-type O-1, adding that the subtype is associated with more severe diseases.

On Monday, in a post on X, Abayomi said the identified strain is “highly aggressive and contagious, with potential for widespread dissemination”.

Abayomi said through community-based case finding and contact tracing, the government observed that the number of cases “has peaked and is now significantly declining”.

“The geographical distribution of suspected cases by Local Government Area showed that Lagos Island is the epicentre of the outbreak with 106 cases, followed by Kosofe with 49; Eti-Osa with 38; Lagos Mainland with 30; Ojo with 17; Ikorodu with 16; Shomolu with 11; Surulere with nine; Apapa with eight; Mushin with eight; Ifako Ijaiye with eight; Alimosho with four; Ajeromi-Ifelodun with four; Oshodi-Isolo with three; Ikeja with three; Ibeju Lekki with two; Badagry with two; and Amuwo-Odofin with one,” the post reads.

“We are receiving support from the NCDC and International partners, including the WHO Nigeria and UNICEF Nigeria.

“Local Non-Governmental organizations are actively involved in raising awareness and conducting community-based surveillance efforts.”

Source: The Cable

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NDLEA recovers 230,900 Tramadol pills, uncovers skuchies coy in Ogun

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The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has recovered a total of 230,600 pills of 200mg and 225mg of Tramadol, a prohibited substance in Gadar Tamburawa area of Kano, Kano State.

NDLEA ‘s Director, Media and Advocacy, Mr Femi Babafemi, said this in a statement on Sunday in Abuja.

Babafemi said that the NDLEA operatives arrested the duo of Yasir Rabi’u, 23, and Abubakar Ado, 30, who were major distributors of the illicit drugs in Kano and Jigawa states respectively.

He said that the suspected drug peddlers were arrested on Monday.

Babafemi said, “In the same vein, another suspect, Hassan Abdullahi-Ali, 25, was nabbed with 150 bottles of codeine syrup at Kofar Nassarawa area of Kano on Tuesday.

“Also, In Ogun, NDLEA operatives on Monday seized 390kg of cannabis and arrested the three in connection with the illicit drugs.”

He said that Muhammad Sani, Nura Mohammad and Samaila Rabe were arrested during an early morning raid at Ibese area of the state.

Meanwhile, Babafemi said that officers on Wednesday busted a skuchies making factory at Sabo area of Sagamu town where seven suspects were arrested.

“They include: Kareem Jamiu; Oriyimi Ayo; Bamidele Wasiu; Rasheed Olarewanju; Ramota Lawal; Amudalat Olarewaju; and Adeniyi Omotosho.

“Exhibits recovered from them include: 387 litres of skuchies; 70 litres of industrial codeine; 25kg cannabis and different quantities of Tramadol, Rohypnol, Diazepam.

“Also, there were various equipment used in the production of the new psychoactive substance and all were intercepted, “ he said.

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Source: The Nation

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Minimum Wage: Consider economic realities, Tripartite Committee tells Organised Labour

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Meeting on the ongoing negotiations on new minimum wage has been adjourned till Wednesday after the organised labour

The Tripartite Committee on National Minimum Wage said at the weekend that organised labour should reconsider the amount it was demanding as national minimum wage, based on current realities.

Chairman of the committee, Goni Aji, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that labour should exercise more flexibility in its negotiation, based on current economic considerations and non-monetary incentives, which the federal government had so far provided for workers.

However, a chieftain of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Sunny Onuesoke, berated labour, claiming Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) have been selfish in their negotiation for minimum wage for workers.

Onuesoke said at the weekend in Asaba that the labour unions had ignored the effect of their wage demand on private sector workers and people in the informal sector, who he said formed the largest workforce in the country.

Aji listed government’s recent incentives for workers to include N35,000 wage award for all treasury-paid federal workers, N100 billion for the procurement of gas-fuelled busses, and conversion to gas kits.

He stated that the others were N125 billion conditional grant, financial inclusion to small and medium scale enterprises, and N25,000 each to be shared to 15 million households for three months.

According to him, the N185 billion palliative loans to states to cushion the effects of fuel subsidy removal and the N200 billion to support the cultivation of hectares of land to boost food production, should also be taken into consideration by organised labour.

READ ALSO  Minimum Wage: Consider economic realities, Tripartite Committee tells Organised Labour

The tripartite committee chairman said there was another N75 billion to strengthen the manufacturing sector and N1 trillion student loans for higher education. He also cited the release of 42,000 metric tonnes of grains from strategic reserves and the purchase and distribution of 60,000 metric tonnes of rice to the millers’ association.

Aji urged organised labour to consider the recent salary increase of 25 per cent and 35 per cent on all consolidated salary structures for federal workers and the 90 per cent subsidy on health costs for federal civil servants registered on the health insurance programme and accept the N62,000 being offered by the federal government.

He maintained that the light rail commissioned in Abuja was to relieve transportation costs until the end of the year, stating that it is a landmark achievement that would cushion the effect of the removal of fuel subsidy.

Aji said in addition to “the freedom of civil servants to engage in agriculture, the federal government has approved the inclusion of ICT services for alternate sources of income”.

He said the committee agreed that where major and small businesses were closing down with the consequent loss of jobs, the outcome of a new minimum wage should be such that it would not trigger further massive job losses.

He further said linking the strike due to electricity hikes with the wage determination was not fair to the negotiating parties.

Organised labour had demanded N250,000 as minimum wage per month. However, the federal government and Organised Private Sector (OPS) offered N62,000 per month.

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Labour also faulted a recent statement by President Bola Tinubu during a meeting with some governors and members of the National Assembly on the occasion of the country’s 25th Democracy Day anniversary. Tinubu had said the government would only be able to pay its workers what the country could afford.

The president said, “Senate President, Deputy Senate President, you will get a notice from me if I have changed my mind on minimum wage. We are going to do it — what Nigeria can afford, what you can afford, what I can afford. They ask you to cut your coat according to your size if you have size at all.”

Organised labour began the minimum wage negotiation with a demand for over N615,000, which it later slashed to N250,000. But the federal government initially said it could only pay N48,000, an amount that was increased to N62,000, and now awaiting presidential decision.

Onuesoke accused labour of selfishness in their negotiation for minimum wage for workers.

The former Delta State governorship aspirant told journalists that organised labour had engaged in reckless agitation by trying to force the federal government to succumb to their terms.

He alleged that organised labour acted like politicians, stressing that their obnoxious demand would hurt the common man, who does not earn a salary or wage, and those in the private sector, including traders, artisans, and those in the rural areas, which constitute the largest labour force in the country.

Onuesoke stated that labour should review their demand by considering the plight of the larger percentage of Nigerians who were not on the payroll of government. He said this percentage constituted the largest population of the workforce in Nigeria compared to those working for the government, who were less than one per cent of the entire Nigerian population.

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The PDP chieftain stated that organised labour should have focused their agitation on how the federal government could reduce inflation and the prices of goods and services.

Onuesoke stated, “TUC and NLC are selfish. They are the same thing with the political leadership. They are agitating for the increment of their wage. What happens to the private sector, the traders, artisans and even the unemployed Nigerians roaming our streets? Who is going to increase their wages? They forget that once there is wage increase there will be hyperinflation.

“Why are they agitating for themselves salary increment, like the way our lawmakers are agitating for their own salaries and allowances increase? How many salary increases did they agitate for traders, private sector, artisans and the unemployed among others?

“I expected them to agitate on how the federal government can reduce inflation or how the prices of goods and services should be reduced, instead of agitating for wage increment for themselves alone at the expense of the larger population of Nigerians.”

Source: This Day

 

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On Father’s day, Tinubu, Obaseki hail Fathers for their resilience, sacrifice

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Tinubu wants direct elections into ECOWAS parliament

President Bola Tinubu and Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State have congratulated fathers, including all paternal figures for their contributions in shaping Nigeria’s destiny by their sacrifice, forbearance, provision, protection, presence, and guidance of the young ones to the noble and true path.

Tinubu, in a statement issued yesterday on the occasion of this year’s Father’s Day by his Media Adviser, Ajuri Ngelale, stressed that Father’s Day was significant for its purpose as a day set apart to honour all fathers – living, deceased, and paternal figures.

Tinubu traced the history of this special day to the Middle Ages, and official roots in West Virginia, the United States, where an event was held in 1908 to celebrate 362 men who died in an explosion at a coal mining company.

He affirmed that society is in better stead with fathers who rise to the great demand of responsibility, guiding the children through the vagaries of existence and preparing them for the future, as well as bequeathing to them pristine values that money or material comfort cannot provide, but only by personal example of discipline, integrity, service, respect, love and allegiance to the nation.

The president saluted all fathers, the sung and the unsung, who brave the toil of the day and the soreness of the night to provide for their families.

Tinubu urged fathers to stay true to their commitment to positively shape the destinies of those to whom the future belongs.

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Meanwhile, Obaseki, has also commended fathers for their enormous responsibilities in holding the society and contributing to societal growth.

The governor, in a statement to commemorate Father’s Day, said: “I celebrate fathers for their immense contributions to societal development, holding the family unit together amid the hardship occasioned by the prevailing economic realities.”
Obaseki noted: “Despite the economic difficulties, fathers have remained strong pillars of support in the family, toiling daily to make ends meet while juggling roles such as mentor, leader, protector, provider, and breadwinner. They deserve to be celebrated.

“On this auspicious day set aside to acknowledge their gallantry, sacrifice, love, and resilience, we celebrate our fathers and assure them of our continued support to deliver on their duties on the home front with dignity, including the State’s civil and service reforms and increase in the minimum wage to N70, 000, the highest in the country.”

“While we urge them, as the family’s reflective mirrors to imbue in their children the right values and character so as to ensure peace, stability, and harmony in our society, especially amid the electioneering campaigns, we will not relent at ongoing reforms to open up the economy so that our fathers would be actively engaged and are productive. Happy Fathers’ Day!” he added.

Source: THIS DAY

 

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No #EndSARS protesters in custody, police reply Shehu Sani

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No #EndSARS protesters in custody, police reply Shehu Sani

The Nigeria Police Force on Sunday said there are no #EndSARS protesters in any of its detention facilities.

At a dinner organised to mark 2024 Democracy Day on June 12, a former senator who represented Kaduna Central, Shehu Sani, urged President Bola Tinubu to pardon the #EndSARS protesters still in detention.

Responding to Sani’s comment in a statement on Sunday, the Force spokesperson, Muyiwa Adejobi, said, “Nobody is being wrongly persecuted for participating in the #EndSARS protest.

“The Nigeria Police Force categorically denies the recent allegations made by Senator Shehu Sani at the 2024 Democracy Day Dinner on June 12, 2024, at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, where the former senator falsely claimed that some young people have been detained since the 2020 #EndSARS protest.

“For emphasis, no one anywhere in Nigeria is under police detention or being wrongly persecuted for participating in the #EndSARS protest.

“The issues surrounding the protest have been debated, researched, and documented, and lessons have been learnt. We have forgiven ourselves and moved on.

“We urge the public to disregard this claim and remain assured of our commitment to upholding justice, the rule of law, and human rights.

“We encourage verifying information before making public statements to avoid harm and incitement.”

Source: The Punch

 

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