Zamfara Okays Death Penalty For Bandits, Kidnappers

Zamfara State Governor, Bello Matawalle, briefs State House correspondents in Abuja on January 17, 2022.

 

As part of measures to tackle insecurity, Zamfara State Governor, Bello Matawalle, has okayed the death penalty for bandits, kidnapper among several others.

The governor signed the law on Tuesday in Gusau, shortly after the House of Assembly recommended the death penalty for criminal elements.

After signing the bill for the prosecution of banditry, cattle rustling, cultism, kidnapping and incidental offences into law, Matawalle said the law will serve as an instrument to prosecute offenders of the crimes in the state.

READ ALSO: Insecurity: No Need To Arm Yourselves, Uzodimma Tells Imo Residents

He restated that the conventional security forces are operating in the various theatres, and they are not only overstretched but lack the modern war equipment to prosecute bandits and insurgents.

The governor stated that those who criticise the Zamfara State Government’s decision to support people to bear firearms for self-defence against the ruthless terrorists ought to take into consideration the scale of the problem the people are facing.

This is even as he reiterated his administration’s determination to go to any length within the precincts of the law in order to secure the state and restore peace in the communities and place the Zamfara on a sound trajectory of development.

He emphasised that the executive order number 7, 8, 9 and which he had signed into law last year will provide a legal instrument of operations for the four special committees he inaugurated on Thursday, 27th June 2022 to ensure the security measures put in place.

The law stated that anyone who is guilty of banditry, cattle rustling, cultism, and kidnapping is liable to the death penalty.

It also said that anybody aiding and abetting the crimes is liable to a life sentence or  imprisonment of 10 or 20 years

Russia Demands Ukraine Surrender As NATO Readies For Finland, Sweden Membership

A photograph taken on June 28, 2022 shows the ruins of a school building, partially destroyed by two rockets in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv.
SERGEY BOBOK / AFP

 

Western allies vowed on Tuesday to boost NATO’s defences and to back Ukraine to the end as Moscow demanded Kyiv’s surrender.

As NATO leaders gathered in Madrid for a summit, alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg said Finland and Sweden would be formally invited to join NATO after Turkey lifted its block on their bids.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had stubbornly refused to approve their applications — lodged in response to Russia’s war on Ukraine — despite calls from his NATO allies to clear their path to membership.

But he abandoned his opposition following crunch talks on Tuesday with the leaders of the two Nordic countries in Madrid.

READ ALSO: Russia Adds 43 Canadians To Blacklist, Canada Hits Back

Erdogan’s office said late on Tuesday it had agreed to back their applications, saying Ankara had “got what it wanted”.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed the agreement between Finland, Sweden and Turkey, saying their membership would make the defence alliance “stronger and safer”.

Meanwhile, a senior US official said their membership would be a “powerful shot in the arm” for NATO unity.

NATO’s expansion came as Russian missiles continued to pound Ukrainian cities.

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters arriving with President Joe Biden that Washington will announce “historic” new long-term military deployments in Europe.

The reinforcements will join NATO’s eastern flank, Russia’s nervous neighbours like the Baltic states, and reflect a long-term change “in the strategic reality” elsewhere in Europe.

Ahead of the summit, Stoltenberg said the allies would boost their high-readiness forces from 40,000 to 300,000.

New sanctions

Before travelling to Madrid, Biden and other leaders of the G7 powers — the world’s richest democracies — had held a summit in the German Alps.

Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz boasted afterwards that his country, a laggard in defence spending, would build “the largest conventional army within the NATO framework in Europe”.

Russia’s invasion, he said, had convinced Berlin “that we should spend more… an average of around 70 to 80 billion euros a year on defence over the next few years”.

NATO member Bulgaria announced it would expel 70 staff from Russia’s diplomatic mission accused of working against its interests.

At the G7 summit, the leaders agreed to impose new sanctions targeting Moscow’s defence industry, raising tariffs and banning gold imports from the country.

The US Treasury said the measures “strike at the heart of Russia’s ability to develop and deploy weapons and technology used for Vladimir Putin’s brutal war of aggression against Ukraine,”

The new set of sanctions target Rostec, Russia’s largest defence conglomerate, as well as military units and officers implicated in human rights abuses in Ukraine, the Treasury said.

Putin’s Kremlin was not fazed by the sanctions, warning that Ukraine’s forces’ only option was to lay down their arms.

“The Ukrainian side can stop everything before the end of today,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

“An order for the nationalist units to lay down their arms is necessary,” he said, adding Kyiv had to fulfil a list of Moscow’s demands.

‘Everything burned’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for the United Nations to visit the site of a missile strike on a shopping mall in the central city of Kremenchuk, as he addressed the UN Security Council on Tuesday.

“I suggest the United Nations send either a special representative, or the secretary-general of the United Nations, or a plenipotentiary commission to the site of this terrorist act… so the UN could independently find out information and see that this indeed was a Russian missile strike,” Zelensky said of the attack on Monday that killed at least 18 people.

“Everything burned, really everything, like a spark to a touchpaper. I heard people screaming. It was horror,” witness Polina Puchintseva told AFP.

All that was left of the mall was charred debris, chunks of blackened walls and lettering from a smashed store front.

Russia claims its missile salvo was aimed at an arms depot — but none of the civilians who talked to AFP knew of any weapons store in the neighbourhood.

And, outside Russia, the latest carnage sparked only Ukrainian fury and western solidarity.

“Indiscriminate attacks on innocent civilians constitute a war crime,” the G7 leaders said in a statement, condemning the “abominable attack”.

Zelensky declared on his social media channels: “Only total insane terrorists, who should have no place on Earth, can strike missiles at civilian objects.

“Russia must be recognised as a state sponsor of terrorism. The world can and therefore must stop Russian terror,” he added.

The G7 leaders did not go so far as to brand Putin a terrorist — but they vowed that Russia, already under tough sanctions, would face more economic pain.

“The G7 stands united in its support for Ukraine,” Scholz told reporters.

“We will continue to keep up and drive up the economic and political costs of this war for President Putin and his regime.”

Oil price cap?

The G7 had announced several new measures to put the squeeze on Putin, including a plan to work towards a price cap on Russian oil.

The group also agreed to impose an import ban on Russian gold. At the same time, the G7 powers heaped financial support on Ukraine, with aid now reaching $29.5 billion.

Meanwhile, with fierce artillery duels continuing in the eastern Donbas region, Ukrainian officials said the central city of Dnipro and several other sites had been hit by more Russian missiles.

Pro-Moscow forces detained Igor Kolykhayev, the elected mayor of the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson.

Russian media said the “nationalist” was an opponent of Moscow’s supposed efforts to “de-Nazify” Ukraine, but Kolykhayev’s aides said he had been “kidnapped” by the city’s illegitimate occupiers.

The UN said 6.2 million people are now estimated to have been displaced within Ukraine, in addition to 5.26 million who have fled abroad.

“Ukraine now faces a brutality which we haven’t seen in Europe since the Second World War,” Stoltenberg said as leaders began to gather in Madrid.

 

AFP

Turkey Supports Finland And Sweden NATO Bid

This handout photograph taken and released on June 28, 2022 in Madrid by Turkish Presidential press office, shows (Back, From L) NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto and Sweden’s Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and (Front, From L) Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto, Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde signing a memorandum during a NATO summit in Madrid. Murat CETIN MUHURDAR / TURKISH PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE / AFP

 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday lifted his opposition to Sweden and Finland joining NATO following crunch talks with the leaders of the two Nordic countries in Madrid.

Erdogan had stubbornly refused to green light the applications from the Nordic pair — lodged in response to Russia’s war on Ukraine — despite calls from his NATO allies to clear the path for them to enter.

Turkey could essentially veto Finland and Sweden from joining NATO since all members must agree to taking on new members.

But late on Tuesday, Erdogan’s office said it had agreed to back their drives to join, saying Ankara had “got what it wanted”.

READ ALSO: Russia Demands Ukraine Surrender As NATO Readies For Finland, Sweden Membership

“Turkey has made significant gains in the fight against terrorist organisations,” the office said ahead of a NATO summit in Madrid.

Ankara had accused Finland and especially Sweden of offering a safe haven to Kurdish militants who have been waging decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state.

The two Nordic countries also agreed to lift their embargoes on weapons deliveries to Turkey, which were imposed in response to Ankara’s 2019 military incursion into Syria.

Turkey signed a memorandum with Finland and Sweden on Tuesday supporting the invitation for the Nordic countries to become members of NATO, the Finnish presidency said.

NATO allies including Britain hailed the agreement.

‘Addresses Turkey’s concerns’

The move comes after NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg mediated talks in Madrid between Erdogan and the leaders of Sweden and Finland.

“I’m pleased to announce that we now have an agreement that paves the way for Finland and Sweden to join NATO,” he said.

The agreement “addresses Turkey’s concerns, including around arms exports, and the fight against terrorism,” he added.

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson on Tuesday hailed a “very good agreement” with Turkey but insisted Sweden had not made too many concessions to Erdogan.

“Taking the next step toward a full NATO membership is of course important for Sweden and Finland. But it’s also a very important step for NATO, because our countries will be security providers within NATO,” Andersson told AFP in an interview.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also welcomed the agreement.

“Sweden and Finland’s membership will make our brilliant alliance stronger and safer,” Johnson wrote on Twitter.

Sweden and Finland went into the NATO meeting open to the possibility that Turkey might only lift its objections after the summit concludes on Thursday.

US hails Turkey’s decision

A US official insisted on Tuesday that no concessions were given to Turkey to secure its green light.

“There was no request from the Turkish side for the Americans to make a particular concession,” a senior administration official told reporters.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official called Turkey’s decision a “powerful shot in the arm” for NATO unity.

Erdogan is expected to meet with US President Joe Biden on Wednesday on the sidelines of the gathering focused on responding to the Kremlin’s invasion of its pro-Western neighbour.

Erdogan and Biden have had a chilly relationship since Biden’s election because of US concerns about human rights under Erdogan.

Biden and Erdogan last met briefly in October on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Rome.

Fighter jet talks

Erdogan’s ability to maintain a close working relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin while supporting Ukraine’s war effort has made him an important player in the conflict.

But those ties have also complicated his relations with Biden and NATO.

Washington has sanctioned Ankara for taking delivery of an advanced Russian missile defence system in 2019.

The purchase saw the United States drop Turkey from the F-35 joint strike fighter programme and impose trade restrictions on its military procurement agency.

But Washington has signalled it may be willing to move past the dispute.

Biden’s administration has dangled the possibility of supplying Ankara with older-generation F-16 jets that could replenish Turkey’s ageing air force fleet.

“The most important issue is the F-16 issue. It is still on the table,” Erdogan said of his upcoming talks with Biden.

 

AFP

Epstein’s Associate Ghislaine Maxwell Sentenced To 20 Years For Sex Crimes

This combination of pictures created on July 2, 2020 shows Ghislaine Maxwell (L) during an event on September 20, 2013 in New York City and an undated handout photo obtained on July 11, 2019 courtesy of the New York State Sex Offender Registry of Jeffrey Epstein (R). Handout, Laura Cavanaugh / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / New York State Sex Offender Registry / AFP

 

Ghislaine Maxwell was sentenced to 20 years in prison Tuesday for helping late financier Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse girls, capping the former socialite’s sordid fall from grace.

The Oxford-educated daughter of the late British press baron Robert Maxwell appeared not to react as New York Judge Alison Nathan handed down the term in a packed Manhattan federal court.

The sentence was much less than prosecutors sought but still means the 60-year-old friend to royalty and former US presidents is likely to spend much of the rest of her life in jail.

Nathan called Maxwell’s crimes “heinous and predatory” as she went with the amount of time recommended by the US probation office, rejecting Maxwell’s claims that she was pursued by prosecutors only because Epstein escaped trial by killing himself in prison.

READ ALSO: 12-Man Jury Finds Maxwell Guilty Of Helping Epstein Abuse Girls

“It is important to emphasize that although Epstein was central to this criminal scheme, Ms Maxwell is not being punished in place of Epstein or as a proxy for Epstein,” said the judge.

Maxwell was convicted late last year on five of six counts, the most serious for sex trafficking minors following a month-long high-profile trial in New York.

The charges stemmed from crimes committed between 1994 and 2004.

Prosecutors successfully proved that she was “the key” to Epstein’s scheme of enticing young girls to give him massages, during which he would sexually abuse them.

Two of Epstein’s victims, identified as “Jane” and “Carolyn,” testified that they were as young as 14 when Maxwell began grooming them.

Maxwell expressed sympathy for the victims during a statement in court Tuesday, saying she was “sorry for the pain that you experienced” but blamed Epstein.

“I believe that Jeffrey Epstein was a manipulative, cunning and controlling man who lived a profoundly compartmentalized life and fooled all of those in his orbit,” she said.

Prosecutors had called for Maxwell to receive between 30 and 55 years in jail, saying she “was an adult who made her own choices.”

In a statement, Damian Williams, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York, said the 20-year term “sends a strong message that no one is above the law and it is never too late for justice.”

“Today’s sentence holds Ghislaine Maxwell accountable for perpetrating heinous crimes against children,” he said.

Appeal

Maxwell has already been held in detention for some two years following her arrest in New Hampshire in the summer of 2020, meaning she will likely be released in her late 70s.

“Ghislaine must die in prison,” Maxwell and Epstein accuser Sarah Ransome told reporters outside court before the sentence was read out.

Maxwell’s sentencing completes a dramatic fall for the former international jetsetter who grew up in wealth and privilege as a friend to royalty.

Her circle included Britain’s Prince Andrew, former US president and real estate baron Donald Trump and the Clinton family.

In February, Prince Andrew settled a sexual abuse lawsuit with Virginia Giuffre, who said she had been trafficked to the royal by Epstein and Maxwell.

Maxwell’s lawyers asked Nathan to show leniency and sentence their client to no more than five years.

They said she had suffered “a difficult, traumatic childhood with an overbearing, narcissistic, and demanding father.”

“It made her vulnerable to Epstein, whom she met right after her father’s death,” they wrote in submissions this month, adding that Maxwell “cannot and should not bear all the punishment for which Epstein should have been held responsible.”

Money manager Epstein hanged himself in jail in 2019 aged 66 while awaiting his own sex crimes trial in New York.

Maxwell’s lead attorney Bobbi Sternheim told reporters that she would appeal the sentence.

In April, Nathan rejected a request by Maxwell for a new trial.

She unsuccessfully argued that a juror, who had boasted of helping convince fellow panelists to convict Maxwell by recalling his own experiences as a sex abuse victim, had biased the jury.

AFP

Nigeria Not A Producing Country, Suffering From Bad Leadership – Peter Obi

Peter Obi, speaks during an interview on Channels TV’s Newsnight on March 1, 2021.

 

The presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, on Tuesday, said Nigeria is suffering from bad leadership as she is not a producing country.

Obi stated this during a visit to the leadership of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

He stated that the citizens are not receiving the best from the ruling class, calling for a change from the sharing formula to the production formula.

READ ALSO: 2023: Peter Obi Meets Leadership Of The Nigeria Labour Congress

While noting that young Nigerians in their productive ages are idle, the ex-Anambra governor warned that a crisis will brew if the situation persists.

To avert the pending disaster, the Labour Party candidate called on organised labour to collaborate with the party in determining the future of Africa’s most populous nation.

According to him, nobody can emerge as Nigeria’s President without agreeing with organised labour and other organisations.

“Nigeria is not a producing country. The cumulative effect of what we are suffering today is bad leadership,” Obi said.

“It is a leadership that concentrates on sharing. We have to move from sharing formula to production formula. All our young people in their productive age are not doing anything, so we are going to have a crisis.”

Also speaking, NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, said the Congress was solidly behind the Labour Party candidate and would fully mobilise to ensure the victory of the party come 2023 general elections.

He also recalled that workers’ unions have realised that strikes and protests alone cannot change the narratives in Nigeria, which informed the full venture into politics, to support candidates whose mantra will make life better for their members and Nigerians at large.

Osun: Adeleke’s ex-running mate, PDP factional chair, others join APC

Running mate to Senator Ademola Adeleke in the 2018 Osun State governorship election, Mr. Albert Adeogun, and the factional state chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party in the state, Wale Ojo, on Tuesday, led other defectors to the All Progressives Congress. Also among the defectors were; Mr. Ayodele Asalu, a House of Representatives aspirant in

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Reps to budget N35bn for NAF’s debt to construction firm

The House of Representatives, on Tuesday, mandated its Committee on Appropriations to allocate the sum of N35.403bn in the 2023 budget to offset the liability of the Federal Government, on behalf of Nigerian Air Force Properties Limited, to Blue Boulevard Nigeria Limited for the construction of a shopping mall at NAF Base Port Harcourt, Rivers

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Eight-year-old boy shoots dead baby girl with father’s gun in US

An eight-year-old boy shot dead a baby and injured her toddler sister while playing with his father’s gun in Florida last weekend, police said. The father, 45-year-old Roderick Randall, was arrested and charged with culpable negligence, unlawful possession of a firearm and concealment of evidence, Escambia County Sheriff Chip Simmons said. The tragedy, all too

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Rep Accused Of Promoting Cultism Gets N20m Bail

A file photo of Mr Farah Dagogo.

 

A lawmaker representing the Degema/Bonny federal constituency in the House of Representatives, Farah Dagogo, has gotten N20 million bail.

Justice Chiwendu Nworgu of the Rivers State High Court granted Mr Dagogo the bail or the option of a surety in like sum with a landed property worth the same amount.

The lawmaker, also a governorship aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is being prosecuted by the Rivers State Government for allegedly promoting cultism in the state.

He was arrested on April 28 at the South-South zonal office of the PDP in Port Harcourt, the venue of the screening exercise for governorship aspirants from the zone.

His arrest was effected about four days after Governor Nyesom Wike declared him wanted for allegedly hiring cultists to disrupt a screening exercise for state and National Assembly aspirants at the state party secretariat, an accusation he had denied.

The past 62 days of his arrest and subsequent trial had been both dramatic and pathetic.

On one occasion, the federal lawmaker was brought into the courtroom at the state high court being hand-lifted by security personnel following his excuse that he was sick.

This was after the state high court insisted that Mr. Dagogo be remanded, despite a Federal High Court order which granted him bail.

Court Fixes July 15 To Rule On Welfare Of Judges

A file photo of a court gavel.

 

The National Industrial Court has fixed July 15 to determine the fate of the suit seeking an upward review of salaries and allowances of judicial officers in the country.

Justice Osatohanmeen Obaseki-Osaghae fixed the date for judgment after the parties in the matter argued and adopted their final written addresses.

The suit was filed by Mr Sebastine Hon.

READ ALSO: Rep Accused Of Promoting Cultism Gets N20m Bail

It listed, as defendants, the National Assembly, the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice and the National Judicial Council.

Counsel to the claimant, Mr Adegboyega Awomolo in his final address insisted that the salaries and allowances of judicial officers remain unchanged since 2008.

He said there is an urgent need for an upward review in order to avoid litigants and lawyers appearing before judges who are highly underpaid.