British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday urged fellow G7 leaders not to “give up” on Ukraine four months into Russia’s grinding war, as he pledged fresh financial support for Kyiv. “Ukraine can win and it will win. But they need our backing to do so. Now is not the time to give up on
Twenty-year-old sprint sensation, Favour Ashe (third from left) ran a sub 10s in Benin-City on June 25, 2022.
Twenty-year-old sprint sensation, Favour Ashe has won the National 100m title and qualified for the World Athletics Championships, while Grace Nwokwocha dominated the women’s final.
Ashe destroyed a stacked field including Alaba Akintola and multiple national champion Seye Ogunlewe to win with a new personal best time of 9.99s at the Samuel Ogbemudia stadium in Benin City, Edo State.
It was the first legal sub-10 time for the University of Tennessee freshman after running a wind-aided 9.79s on the American Collegiate circuit. He also claimed silver at the NCAA Championships.
Meanwhile, Akintola placed a distant second with a time of 10.06s and Godson Brume third in 10.15s.
Ogunlewe running from lane eight, finished fourth in 10.22s while World under-20 200m champion Udodi Onwuzurike could only manage sixth position with 10.53s.
In the women’s 100m final, Grace Nwokwocha dominated the race to win with a time of 11.03s. Rosemary Chukwuma, Tima Godbless and Joy Udo-Gabriel made up the top four.
Team Nigeria’s attention will now shift to the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon starting on July 15 before heading to Birmingham for the Commonwealth Games from July 28 to August 8.
Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame listens to questions from journalists during the end of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), at the Intare arena conference on June 25, 2022 in Kigali. Simon MAINA / AFP
President Paul Kagame on Saturday fiercely defended Rwanda’s record on human rights and political freedoms as the curtains closed on a Commonwealth summit where his country came under intense scrutiny.
The Commonwealth also welcomed two new members into the fold at its summit in Kigali — the French-speaking West African states of Togo and Gabon that have no historic ties to Britain.
The decision to hold the gathering in Rwanda was heavily criticised by rights watchdogs, which accused Commonwealth leaders of turning a blind eye to repression and the jailing of opponents in the host country.
Kagame, who has been de facto ruler since the end of the genocide in 1994, told reporters Rwanda was proud of its record and would not be lectured by outsiders.
“As far as values are concerned, we don’t need any lessons from BBC or from anyone,” Kagame said in an impassioned statement that lasted nearly 30 minutes.
“I want to assure you there is nobody… who (is) beholding values better than we do here in Rwanda,” he told the summit’s closing press conference.
Ahead of the meeting attended by Prince Charles and around 30 leaders, rights groups warned that Kigali’s sparkling streets had been cleared of the homeless and street kids to maintain a glossy image for visitors.
In an open letter, 23 civil society organisations said there was a “climate of fear” in Rwanda and urged Commonwealth leaders not to risk the body’s integrity by letting Kagame off the hook.
His government had presided over a crackdown on rights of assembly, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention, torture and extrajudicial executions, they said.
Kagame rejected any suggestion his government detained opponents, saying some of his most vocal critics had been freed from prison by presidential pardon.
“There is nobody in Rwanda who is in prison that should not be there, because we have a justice system that is actually functional, and fair,” he said.
Kagame also announced that Gabon and Togo had been admitted into the Commonwealth, the first new members since Rwanda in 2009.
“This is a historic moment! A new important page in the history of Gabon is opening 62 years after its independence,” Gabonese President Ali Bongo said in a statement.
Togo’s Foreign Minister Robert Dussey said membership opened the door to 2.5 billion consumers in the Commonwealth realm, offered new education opportunities, and tapped a “craze” for English among his countrymen.
Francophone states have also sought to join the Commonwealth in recent years to pivot away from former colonial ruler France, analysts said.
The admission of Gabon and Togo takes membership to 56 nations, and is a boon for the Commonwealth at a time of renewed discussion over its future relevance and modern profile.
Republican movements are taking root in a number of Commonwealth nations and some are seeking reparations for colonial-era injustices.
On Friday, Prince Charles told Commonwealth leaders the choice to become a republic or abandon Queen Elizabeth II as head of state was theirs alone and expressed “personal sorrow” at Britain’s legacy of slavery.
And British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the interest from new members proved the organisation was alive and well.
But the admission of Gabon and Togo could raise questions about the Commonwealth’s espoused commitment to good governance, respect of rights and democracy as fundamental values of its charter.
Both countries have been ruled by single families for over half a century, and elections have been marred by irregularities and violence.
“We are much better together than we ever will be apart,” said Patricia Scotland, who was re-elected in Kigali for another two years as Commonwealth secretary-general after a bruising and divisive campaign.
Delegates at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) addressed issues including climate change, violence against women, mental health, vaccine equity, and urbanisation — to name a few.
A much-criticised deal to deport asylum-seekers from the UK to Rwanda dogged the meeting, however, with Johnson vigorously defending his policy.
Ahead of the summit it was reported that Charles — who takes over the Commonwealth when he becomes king — strongly opposed the migrant scheme.
The first transfer of asylum seekers scheduled this month was blocked in a European court, but Johnson insists the deal is not unlawful and he will pursue it.
Born out of the British Empire, the Commonwealth represents one-third of humanity in nations across Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas.
The next Commonwealth meet will be in Samoa in 2024.
A picture taken on June 21, 2022 from the town of Lysychansk, shows a large plume of smoke rising on the horizon, behind the town of Severodonetsk, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Anatolii Stepanov / AFP
Russia’s army has “fully occupied” the key Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk after weeks of fighting, its mayor said Saturday, as Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow would be able to send nuclear-capable missiles to Belarus within months.
The capture of the industrial hub of Severodonetsk is an important strategic win for Moscow as it seeks to gain full control over the east of the country.
It has been the scene of weeks of running battles, but the Ukrainian army said Friday that its outgunned forces would withdraw to better defend the neighbouring city of Lysychansk.
“The city has been fully occupied by the Russians,” mayor Oleksandr Striuk said on Saturday.
A few hours earlier, pro-Moscow separatists said Russian troops and their allies had entered Lysychansk, which faces Severodonetsk across the river.
“Street fighting is currently taking place,” a representative of the separatists, Andrei Marochko, said on Telegram, in a claim that could not be independently verified.
In Saint Petersburg, Putin said Saturday that Russia would deliver Iskander-M missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads to Belarus in the coming months, as he received Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko.
He also offered to upgrade Belarus’ warplanes to make them capable of carrying nuclear weapons, in comments broadcast on Russia television.
Putin has several times referred to nuclear weapons since his country launched a military operation in Ukraine on February 24, in what the West has seen as a warning to the West not to intervene.
Pull in Belarus
Ukraine said it had come under “massive bombardment” early on Saturday morning from neighbouring Belarus which, although a Russian ally, is not officially involved in the conflict.
Twenty rockets “fired from the territory of Belarus and from the air” targeted the village of Desna in the northern Chernigiv region, Ukraine’s northern military command said.
It said infrastructure was hit, but no casualties had yet been reported.
Belarus has provided logistic support to Moscow since the February 24 invasion, particularly in the first few weeks, and like Russia has been targeted by Western sanctions — but is officially not involved in the conflict.
“Today’s strike is directly linked to Kremlin efforts to pull Belarus as a co-belligerent into the war in Ukraine,” the Ukrainian intelligence service said.
‘Ukraine can win’
Four months after Russian forces invaded Ukraine, they have focused on the eastern Donbas region, gradually making gains despite fierce resistance.
Also capturing Lysychansk would allow Russia to focus its attention on Kramatorsk and Slovyansk further west in its attempt to conquer the Donbas, Ukraine’s industrial heartland.
The Russian breakthrough came on the eve of a week of feverish Western diplomacy, as US President Joe Biden flew in to Europe for a G7 summit starting Sunday, and NATO talks later in the week.
“Ukraine can win and it will win,” said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a statement on the eve of the summit. But they need our backing to do so.
“Now is not the time to give up on Ukraine,” he added.
The Western allies will take stock of the effectiveness of sanctions imposed so far against Moscow, consider possible new aid for Ukraine, and begin turning their eye to longer-term reconstruction plans.
The European Union offered a strong show of support on Thursday when it granted Ukraine candidate status, although the path to membership is long.
Moscow dismissed the EU decision as a move to “contain Russia” geopolitically.
Evacuating the Azot plant
As in the southern port of city of Mariupol before it, the battle for Severodonetsk has devastated the city.
On Saturday, Severodonetsk mayor Striuk said civilians had started to evacuate the Azot chemical plant, where several hundred people had been hiding from Russian shelling.
“These people have spent almost three months of their lives in basements, shelters,” he said. “That’s tough emotionally and physically.”
They would now need medical and psychological support, he added.
Pro-Moscow separatists said Russian forces and their allies had taken control of the Azot factory and “evacuated” more than 800 civilians sheltering there.
The mainly Russian-speaking Donbas has long been a focus of Russia.
Since 2014, it has been partially under the control of pro-Moscow separatists, who set up self-declared breakaway republics in Lugansk and Donetsk.
Millions of Ukrainians have fled their homes and their country since the invasion, most to neighbouring Poland. Some foreigners have gone the other way to fight.
Russia said Saturday its troops had killed up to 80 Polish fighters in strikes on a factory in Konstantinovka in the Donetsk region, a claim that could not be verified.
Russia has also intensified its offensive in the northern city of Kharkiv in recent days.
An AFP team on Saturday saw a 10-storey administrative building in the city-centre hit by missiles overnight, causing a fire but no casualties.
It had already been bombed, prompting one soldier on the scene to note: “The Russians are finishing what they started.”
On Friday, the same reporters found a stray dog eating human remains in the town of Chuguiv, southeast of Kharkiv, where an attack earlier this week killed six people.
The former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, Yekini Nabena, on Saturday knocked trolls and critics of the APC presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, over the controversy surrounding his primary and secondary school certificates. The certificates scandal trended on social media from Friday night to the early hours of Saturday morning. Tinubu had
No fewer than three governorship aspirants of the All Progressives Congress in the recent gubernatorial primary of the party have so far defected to the Peoples Democratic Party in the state. Among those who have so far defected from the APC to the PDP include a member of the Federal House of Representatives, Hon Abdullahi
Edo State is a state in Southern Nigeria.
A medical doctor, one Dr Ogbonnanya Chiamaka of Irrua Teaching Specialist Hospital in Esan Central local government area of Edo state has been arrested for child abuse, the police said on Saturday.
“The victim, one Miss Comfort Nmeson “F” who is 13 years old came to school , ‘Emando Secondary school’ in Ekpoma on 22/6/2022 with her belongings, looking frail,” a statement signed by police spokesperson Jennifer Iwegbu, said.
“Upon interrogation by the teachers of the school, the child said she does not want to live with her guardian anymore and requested to be returned to her biological mother as her guardian has been physically abusing her using stick to reprimand her all the time.
“Consequently, the teacher reported the abuse to the appropriate authorities for necessary action.
“The said guardian, one Dr Ogbonnaya Chiamaka “F” who is 41-years-old was arrested by the police .
“Dr Ogbonnaya Chiamaka would be arraigned in court after the completion of investigation.
“Meanwhile, the Commissioner of police CP Abutu Yaro fdc has reinstated his commitment in serving the good people of Edo state as he urged the citizenry not to relent in availing the command with prompt and useful information that will help curb the menace of criminal elements in Edo state.”
Wales captain Gareth Bale is set to join Los Angeles FC following his departure from Real Madrid, reports in Britain and the US said on Saturday. The Los Angeles Times, citing a Major League Soccer source with knowledge of the deal said the 32-year-old star will be eligible to play for LAFC from July 1.
Gabon and Togo joined the Commonwealth on Saturday, becoming the latest nations with no historic ties to Britain to enter the English-speaking club headed by Queen Elizabeth II. The 54-nation group of mostly former British colonies accepted Togo and Gabon’s application for membership on the final day of its leadership summit in Rwanda. “We have
The Center for Reforms and Public Advocacy on Saturday disclosed that the new Electoral Act 2022 prevents political parties from withdrawing running mates. The admonition comes in the wake of some political parties submitting the names of surrogates to the Independent National Electoral Commission while shopping for sellable candidates. While the All Progressives Congress opted
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