FG, Labour Leaders Meet Two Days To Minimum Wage Implementation Deadline

Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, presides over the meeting between government representatives and labour leaders in Abuja on October 14, 2019.

 

 

Representatives of the Federal Government on Monday met with the leadership of organised labour movement on the implementation of the new N30,000 minimum wage and the consequential adjustment of salaries for civil servants.

The meeting, which began shortly after the arrival of members of the union at the Ministry of Labour and Employment in Abuja, came two days to the deadline issued by the labour leaders.

In his remarks, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, who presided over the meeting, described it as an information-sharing one which flows from the previous meeting between the government and the labour leaders.

READ ALSOBorder Closure: Customs Save N1.4bn, Arrest Over 460 Smugglers And Migrants

The minister assured the union leaders that he would remain neutral in the whole negotiation.

He, however, appealed to members of the union to show some understanding.

Ngige announced that there would be another meeting with heads of government agencies and parastatals, where their books would be opened for scrutiny to see what amount can actually be paid to workers.

The meeting, according to him, will hold on Tuesday.

Journalists were initially barred from covering the meeting which held behind closed doors but they were later granted access by the minister.

 

Implement Before Deadline

Almost six months since President Muhammadu Buhari assented to the Minimum Wage Repeal and Re-Enactment Act, 2019, Nigerian workers have yet to feel its impact.

This is as a result of the delay in the implementation of the law which pegs the minimum wage for workers in the country at N30,000.

While some states such as Kaduna and Ekiti have announced plans to commence payment of the new minimum wage, the Federal Government has held a series of meetings with members of the organised labour on the same issue.

On July 16, the Presidency said President Buhari has approved the immediate implementation of the new minimum wage for workers earning below N30,000.

It, however, said the commencement of the approved payment would be determined by the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation.

Following a meeting between leaders of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the government, the organised labour issued a two-week ultimatum for the government to meet its demands.

The union said it has demonstrated a great deal of restraint, consideration and patience with the government but it offers were not encouraging.

It, therefore, warned that it cannot guarantee industrial peace and harmony in the country if its demands were not met at the close of work on October 16.

The Minimum Wage Repeal and Re-Enactment Act signed by the President in mid-April makes it compulsory for all employers of labour in Nigeria to pay N30,000 to their workers.

This excludes persons who are employing less than 25 workers and those who work in a ship which sails out of the jurisdiction and other persons who are in other kinds of regulated employment which are accepted by the Act.

It also gives workers the right if compelled by any circumstance to accept salary that is less than N30,000 to sue their employer to recover the balance.

Air Force Bombs Boko Haram ‘Meeting Venue’ In Borno

A file photo of NAF helicopter.

 

 

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) says it has decimated a location being used by Boko Haram terrorists as a meeting venue at Boboshe area on the fringes of the Sambisa Forest in Borno State.

NAF’s Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, disclosed this in a statement on Monday.

According to him, the Air Task Force (ATF) of Operation Lafiya Dole conducted the attack on Sunday, following successive days of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions, coupled with human intelligence reports.

READ ALSO: Border Closure: Customs Save N1.4bn, Arrest Over 460 Smugglers And Migrants

Daramola explained that the reports established that a building within the settlement was being used as a rendezvous by the insurgents, where their commanders assemble to take instructions before launching attacks against military troops and innocent civilians.

“Accordingly, the ATF detailed its fighter aircraft to attack the hideout, scoring accurate hits within the designated area leading to the decimation of the target structure.

“Several BHTs were also killed as a result of the strikes,” the statement said.

NAF vowed to sustain its efforts while working with surface forces to completely destroy all remnants of the terrorists in the north-east region of the country.

We Have Saved N1.4bn, Arrested Over 460 Smugglers, Migrants Since Border Closure – Customs CG

A file photo of Customs operatives.

 

 

The Nigeria Customs Service says Nigeria has saved N1.4 billion naira since the partial closure of the nation’s borders.

Comptroller General of Customs, Colonel Hameed Ali (rtd), announced this while addressing a news conference on Monday in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

According to him, a total of 317 suspected smugglers and 146 illegal migrants were also arrested during the period.

The Customs boss insisted that the partial border closure was yielding the desired results as the nation’s consumption of petroleum products has dropped by 10.2 million litres.

READ ALSO: FG, Labour Leaders Meet Over Implementation Of N30,000 Minimum Wage

Thousands were said to have been left stranded as reports of the closure of the nation’s borders emerged in late August.

In its reaction, the Nigerian government denied closure of the borders but explained that it was carrying out a joint operation at various locations involving Customs operatives and that of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) among others.

The Comptroller-General of NIS, Mr Muhammad Babandede, in an earlier interview with Channels Television, said, “There is no border closure but there was a border drill and there was an announcement from the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA).”

On August 28, President Muhammadu Buhari met with his counterpart from Benin Republic Patrice Talon, in Japan where he confirmed that there was a partial closure of Nigeria’s borders with his country.

He attributed the development to the massive smuggling activities that have taken place on that corridor.

The President said Nigeria has saved huge sums of money which would otherwise have been expended on importing rice using the nation’s scarce foreign reserves.

The development was welcomed by the Senate which commended President Buhari for his decision to temporarily close all land borders to address smuggling and its impact on the Nigerian economy.

Members of the lawmaker, during a plenary in September, urged the Customs and other security agencies to intensify efforts at tackling smuggling across the borders.

Some senators had, however, called on the government to be more mindful of the effects of border closure on Nigerians, especially as it relates to the price of food.

Without A New Constitution, Nigeria Will Be Burning In Five Years, Says Clarke

Mr Robert Clarke

 

 

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr Robert Clarke, says there is an urgent need for a total overhaul of the nation’s Constitution.

He stated this during his appearance on Channels Television’s weekend political show, Sunday Politics, where he warned that there might be consequences if the issue was not taken seriously.

The senior lawyer decried the level of poverty and unemployment which he said could set the nation on fire in the next few years if nothing was done.

He stressed that the crop of political elites in the country has no other option than to support a new Constitution.

“They (the elites) have no alternative and (President Muhammadu) Buhari is there, and God will give him that will.

“I am praying because, in five years’ time, I am not joking, Nigeria is going to be burning. Poverty is too much and we are not creating opportunities,” Clarke said.

He believes having a new Constitution is the right thing for the nation if it must tackle the numerous challenges facing it.

 

Change The Constitution

On the anti-corruption war of the Federal Government, he noted that the Buhari administration has made some progress but more needed to be done.

READ ALSO: Buhari Is Handicapped By The Nature Of Administration He Is Leading – Clarke

According to the senior advocate, the present administration has been able to close the tunnel of corruption but a new Constitution is significant to tackle the menace headlong.

He disagreed with the notion that the nation’s laws were encouraging corruption, stressing that Nigeria has a faulty Constitution.

“Restructure Nigeria, change the Constitution.  Let us change the Constitution and restructure because governance in Nigeria is taking 80 per cent, that’s what the new budget has told us.

“Why should we be spending 80 per cent of our revenue on government expenses?” Clarke questioned.

“It is not the laws, the laws are made to regulate. The Constitution is the cankerworm that is eating us up in corruption.

“The Constitution we are operating upon is a corrupt Constitution; is a rotten egg,” he added while insisting that it must be “terminated”.

 

Slash Political Appointments

The SAN noted that former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan made efforts to review the Constitution by organising conferences while in office.

He, however, stated that both leaders never laid a foundation for any legal basis upon which the recommendations of the conferences would be implemented.

Clarke advised President Buhari not to “make the same mistake” but send a bill to the National Assembly, informing them about his intention to set up a parliament to look into restructuring and review the Constitution.

He added that the President should urge the lawmakers to pass a bill which he would assent to that whatever decision the panel arrives at would be sent to Nigerians and if approved, it would be brought back to the National Assembly for proper legislation.

The senior advocate also recommended that President Buhari should cut the cost of governance by reducing political appointments, as well as Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) in the country.

US Boxer Hospitalised After ‘Brutal Knockout’, In Critical Condition

Patrick Day (L) and Charles Conwell exchange punches in the seventh round of their Super-Welterweight bout at Wintrust Arena on October 12, 2019, in Chicago, Illinois. Dylan Buell / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

 

American boxer Patrick Day was fighting for his life in critical condition in hospital on Sunday night after lapsing into a coma following a vicious knockout by Charles Conwell the night before.

The 27-year-old Day suffered a “traumatic injury” and underwent emergency brain surgery Saturday night after being knocked out by Conwell in a super welterweight bout on the card at Chicago’s Winstrust Arena.

“Patrick is in a coma caused by the injury and is in extremely critical condition,” said fight promoter Lou DiBella. “We appreciate the outpouring of support, prayers, and offers of assistance from all corners of the boxing community.”

READ ALSO: US Boxer Patrick Day Hospitalised After ‘Brutal’ Knockout

Day is in intensive care at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. No specific details of Day’s injuries were provided by the promoter.

Conwell asked his social media followers to pray for Day’s recovery. “Keep him in your prayers!! #prayforpatrickday,” he wrote on his Twitter page.

“Pat Day makes any room he is in a better place. Never saw him greet someone without a big smile,” DiBella wrote on Twitter. “Life doesn’t seem fair sometimes. Please keep Pat in your prayers, thoughts, and hearts.”

Day was unconscious when he was taken from the ring in a stretcher and loaded onto a waiting ambulance. He suffered a seizure in the ambulance and needed a breathing tube once he arrived at the hospital.

Conwell, a 2016 American Olympian, was dominating the fight dropping Day in the fourth and eighth rounds and then landing a right hand in the 10th which caused Day to stumble.

Seconds later he rocked Day with a massive left hook that resulted in Day falling backward and his head bouncing off the canvas. Referee Celestino Ruiz called off the fight at one minute, 46 seconds of the round.

Day lay on the canvas for several minutes while receiving medical treatment before being removed from the ring.

Day was coming off a loss in June to Carlos Adames in New York. He has 17 wins and four losses and one draw in his pro career which began in 2013.

Day was fighting on the undercard of Russian Dmitry Bivol’s successful World Boxing Association light-heavyweight world title defence over Lenin Castillo.

Catalan Leaders Jailed Up To 13 Years For Sedition

People protest holding a banner reading “I accuse” in Barcelona on October 14, 2019, after Spain’s Supreme Court sentenced nine Catalan leaders to prison terms for their role in a failed 2017 independence bid. LLUIS GENE / AFP

 

 

Spain’s Supreme Court on Monday sentenced nine Catalan leaders to prison terms of between nine and 13 years for sedition for their role in a failed 2017 independence bid. 

The long-awaited verdicts were less than those demanded by the prosecution which had sought up to 25 years behind bars for former Catalan Vice President Oriol Junqueras on grounds of rebellion.

Spain has been bracing for weeks for the court’s ruling, with tension mounting steadily and police sending reinforcements to Catalonia where separatists have pledged a mass response of civil disobedience.

Former Catalan regional Carles Puigdemont called the sentences an “outrage.”

“100 years in all. An outrage. Now more than ever, by your side and those of your families. It is time to react as never before,” tweeted Puigdemont, who fled to Belgium to avoid prosecution.

The 12 defendants, most of them members of the former Catalan government, were put on trial in February for their role in the banned October 1, 2017  referendum and the short-lived independence declaration that followed it.

“The Supreme Court condemns Oriel Junqueras to 13 years of prison… on grounds of sedition and the misuse of public funds,” the ruling said, handing 12 years to three other former regional ministers.

Former parliamentary speaker Carme Forcadell was handed 11 years and six months in jail, while two influential Catalan civic leaders, Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart, were sentenced to nine years prison.

Only three of the 12 leaders, who faced lesser charges, escaped jail time and were handed a fine.

Junqueras served as the main defendant after his boss, Puigdemont, fled to Belgium.

The government is hoping the long-awaited ruling will allow it to turn the page on the crisis in the wealthy northeastern region where support for independence has been gaining momentum over the past decade.

But the separatist movement is hoping for just the opposite: that the anticipated guilty verdicts will unite their divided ranks and bring supporters onto the streets.

– Activists gear up to protest –

Activists from the region’s two biggest grassroots pro-independence groups, the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Omnium Cultural, have urged followers to rally on the evening of the verdict.

In the coming days, demonstrators will march from five towns towards Barcelona where they will congregate on Friday, when a general strike has been called.

Activists from the radical CDR (Committees for the Defence of the Republic), have also promised “surprises”. On Sunday they briefly occupied the main train station in Barcelona before cutting traffic on a main avenue of the city.

Anti-riot police have been discreetly deployed to Catalonia but the interior ministry has refused to give numbers.

For many, the situation has brought back memories of tensions in the street in the run-up to the October 1, 2017 referendum which was marred by police violence, and ahead of the short-lived independence declaration of October 27.

In recent weeks, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has made it clear that his government will not tolerate any violence, warning he will not hesitate to renew a suspension of Catalan autonomy, as happened two years ago.

The situation is worrying the main Catalan business lobby which said although the verdict would have a “significant emotional impact”, it was important the response avoided disrupting “business activity or social cohesion”.

– Sedition not rebellion –

By definition, the most serious charge of rebellion is “rising up in a violent and public manner” to, among other things, “declare independence for part of the (Spanish) territory”.

Sedition, however, is “rising up publicly and in turbulent fashion” to “prevent by force or in an illegal way” the law from being applied, or the application of an administrative or legal decision.

The trial comes just weeks before Spain heads to the polls for its fourth election in as many years, putting the Catalan question once more at the centre of the political debate.

Although Sanchez’s government is hoping the trial’s end might give fresh impetus to dialogue, Junqueras’ leftwing ERC party has said it would not be possible without an “amnesty” for “political prisoners and those in exile”.

UK Fixes Date For First Post-Brexit Budget

The flags of Britain (R) and the European Union flutter in front of the Chancellery in Berlin, where the British Prime Minister was expected on April 9, 2019. MICHELE TANTUSSI / AFP

 

 

Britain’s government is planning a first post-Brexit budget for November 6, one week after it expects the country to have left the European Union, finance minister Sajid Javid announced Monday.

“This will be the first budget after leaving the EU,” Chancellor of the Exchequer Javid said in a statement.

“I will be setting out our plan to shape the economy for the future and triggering the start of our infrastructure revolution. This is the right and responsible thing to do — we must get on with governing,” he added.

Britain and the EU are currently locked in last-ditch talks to secure a divorce deal ahead of a crunch two-day summit for European leaders in Brussels starting Thursday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson insists that Britain will leave the bloc on October 31 as scheduled, even without an agreement.

But British MPs last month passed a law requiring him to request a Brexit extension if no deal has been finalised by the end of the summit.

It remains unclear how Johnson intends to proceed in such a situation.

Meanwhile, the budget, Javid’s first as chancellor, was expected to build on proposals he set out last month for infrastructure, including hospitals and railways.

However, Jon Trickett, the Labour Party’s Cabinet Office spokesman, was sceptical the budget would be delivered as planned, with opposition parties threatening to topple Johnson’s government and the prime minister himself pushing for a snap election.

“I would be surprised if there is a budget at that time because they’ve no idea whether they’re going to get this Brexit proposal through the House (of Commons) or not,” he told BBC Radio.

Kurds Seal Deal With Damascus As Turkey Pushes Deep Into Syria

Turkish troops and Turkish-backed Syrian rebels gather outside the border town of Ras al-Ain on October 12, 2019, during their assault on Kurdish-held border towns in northeastern Syria. Nazeer Al-khatib / AFP

 

 

Syria’s Kurds have announced a groundbreaking deal with Damascus on a Syrian troop deployment near the border with Turkey, as Ankara presses a deadly cross-border offensive that has sparked an international outcry.

The announcement on Sunday came as the United States ordered the withdrawal of almost its entire ground force in Syria.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the move to withdraw 1,000 US troops came after Washington learned that Turkey was pressing further into Syria than expected.

Turkey’s relentless assault, which has seen airstrikes, shelling and a ground incursion manned mainly by Syrian proxy fighters, has killed scores of civilians and fighters since its launch on Wednesday.

The Kurds feel they have been betrayed by the United States, their once formidable ally in the fight against the Islamic State jihadist group, and left to fend for themselves in the battle against Turkish forces.

The massively outgunned Kurds described their deal with the Syrian government as a necessary step to stop the assault.

“In order to prevent and confront this aggression, an agreement has been reached with the Syrian government… so that the Syrian army can deploy along the Syrian-Turkish border to assist the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF),” the Kurdish administration said in a statement.

It came after Syria’s state news agency SANA said the army was sending troops to the north to “confront the Turkish aggression”.

In an editorial published in Foreign Policy magazine, SDF chief Mazlum Abdi wrote: “If we have to choose between compromises and the genocide of our people, we will surely choose life for our people.”

Kurdish authorities and foreign powers have warned of a major humanitarian crisis, which has already forced tens of thousands to flee their homes.

They have also warned repeatedly that the hostilities could undermine the fight against IS and allow jihadists to break out of captivity.

– More civilian casualties –

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the aim of Operation Peace Spring was to establish a “security zone” that would extend 30 to 35 kilometres (20 to 25 miles) into Syria and run between Kobane to Hasakeh, a stretch of 440 kilometres.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said at least 26 civilians were killed on Sunday.

Among them was Kurdish news agency ANHA’s correspondent, Saad Ahmad. He died in a Turkish airstrike on a convoy of vehicles transporting civilians and journalists.

At least 60 civilians have now died on the Syrian side of the border, with Turkish reports putting the number of civilians dead from Kurdish shelling inside Turkey at 18.

Aid groups have warned of another humanitarian disaster in Syria’s eight-year-old war if the offensive is not halted.

The UN humanitarian agency OCHA said the exodus sparked by the fighting had grown to 130,000 people and it was preparing for that figure to more than triple.

France’s President Emmanuel Macron said the Turkish offensive — over which France has suspended arms exports to Ankara — risked creating an “unbearable humanitarian situation”.

Macron told reporters that he and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel had spoken separately with Trump and Erdogan to deliver a single, clear message: “Our common wish is that the offensive must cease”.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte of Italy, one of Ankara’s main arms suppliers, said he would press for an EU ban on arms sales to Turkey.

– Camp ‘without guards’ –

On the ground, the Kurdish administration in northern Syria said that the Turkish bombardment near a camp for the displaced led to nearly 800 relatives of IS members fleeing.

Some 12,000 IS fighters — Syrians, Iraqis as well as foreigners from 54 countries — are detained in Kurdish prisons, according to official Kurdish statistics.

Trump tweeted on Sunday that “the U.S. has the worst of the ISIS prisoners,” using an acronym for IS, but added: “Turkey and the Kurds must not let them escape.”

Displacement camps host some 12,000 foreigners — 8,000 children and 4,000 women.

“The brutal military assault led by Turkey and its mercenaries is now taking place near a camp in Ain Issa, where there are thousands (of people) from families of IS,” a Kurdish administration statement said.

“Some were able to escape after bombardments that targeted” the camp, it said, adding that guards were attacked and the gates of the camp flung open.

Ain Issa camp is “now without guards” and 785 relatives of IS jihadists have fled, it said.

According to the Observatory, at least 104 SDF fighters have been killed since the start of the Turkish offensive.

Turkish forces and their proxies captured Tal Abyad on Friday afternoon, which left Ras al-Ain, further east, as the last major target in the offensive.

AFP

Trump Orders Withdrawal Of About 1,000 US Troops From Northern Syria

(FILE) US President Donald Trump speaks during an executive order signing regarding federal regulations in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on October 9, 2019, in Washington, DC.
Brendan Smialowski / AFP

 

 

President Donald Trump has ordered the withdrawal of up to 1,000 troops from northern Syria — almost the entire ground force in the war-torn country — amid an intensifying Turkish assault on Kurdish forces, the Pentagon said Sunday.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the move came after the US learned that Turkey was pressing further into Syria than expected.

The Kurds — with whom the US partnered to combat the Islamic State (IS) group — later announced they had reached a deal with the regime in Damascus to deploy Syrian troops near the border to confront the Turkish offensive.

“We have American forces likely caught between two opposing advancing armies and it’s a very untenable situation,” Esper told CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

“So I spoke with the president last night after discussions with the rest of the national security team and he directed that we begin a deliberate withdrawal of forces from northern Syria.”

Esper said he was unable to provide a timeline because of the changing situation on the ground, but added that the withdrawal would be carried out in a “very safe, deliberate manner.”

“It’s a very terrible situation over there, a situation caused by the Turks… Despite our opposition they decided to make this incursion into Syria,” Esper told CBS.

“And at this point in time in the last 24 hours we learned that they likely intend to expand their attack further south than originally planned and to the west.”

– Bipartisan firestorm –

Esper also pointed to a possible deal — confirmed later Sunday by the Kurdish administration in northern Syria — on a Syrian troop deployment near the border with Turkey to help the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) confront Ankara’s offensive.

The US withdrawal announcement came after its troops came under artillery fire Friday which the Pentagon said was from Turkish positions.

Asked if troops would be leaving the country altogether, Esper clarified that the withdrawal was just from northern Syria, “which is where most of our forces are.”

Fighting raged Sunday along the border on the fifth day of an offensive that has provoked an international outcry and left dozens of civilians and fighters dead.

Ankara launched the long-threatened offensive against the SDF, which it considers “terrorists” linked to insurgents inside Turkey, after Trump ordered special forces serving as a trip wire against Turkish action to pull back from the border.

The withdrawal provoked a bipartisan firestorm of criticism in the US and accusations that Trump was abandoning a loyal ally in the fight against IS militants.

– ‘Derelict in his duty’ –

“The president is simply derelict in his duty as president. He is making Americans much less safe, he is undoing years of work to curb (IS),” top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer said in a statement on Sunday.

“He is making America more susceptible to terrorism by his actions.”

Trump hit back, describing the US withdrawal as “very smart.”

“The Kurds and Turkey have been fighting for many years… Others may want to come in and fight for one side or the other. Let them! We are monitoring the situation closely. Endless Wars!” he said.

Hundreds of relatives of foreign jihadists have escaped from a displacement camp in northern Syria, Kurdish authorities said Sunday, as the number of people fleeing the Turkish assault soared to 130,000.

Ankara’s offensive sparked fears that thousands of IS fighters held by Syrian Kurdish forces could break free.

Trump tweeted on Sunday that “the U.S. has the worst of the ISIS prisoners,” using an acronym for IS, but added: “Turkey and the Kurds must not let them escape.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced Friday that Trump had authorized — but not yet activated — new sanctions to dissuade Turkey from further offensive military action.

“We can shut down all US dollar transactions with the entire government of Turkey,” Mnuchin told ABC on Sunday.

“It’s something we may do. There’s full authority and something at a moment’s notice the president can tell me to do.”

Ecuador Govt, Protesters Agree To End Violent Protests

An Ecuadorean native waves a national flag during the 10th day of a protest over a fuel price hike ordered by the government to secure an IMF loan, in the surroundings of the National Assembly in Quito on October 12, 2019. Martin BERNETTI / AFP

 

 

Ecuador’s president and indigenous leaders reached an agreement Sunday to end nearly two weeks of violent protests against austerity measures adopted to obtain a multi-billion-dollar loan from the IMF.

The demonstrations have left seven people dead and were sparked when President Lenin Moreno scrapped fuel subsidies to obtain a $4.2 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund, causing prices to double.

Moreno met with Jaime Vargas, the head of the indigenous umbrella grouping CONAIE, for four hours of talks in the capital Quito broadcast live on state television.

“With this agreement, the mobilizations… across Ecuador are terminated and we commit ourselves to restoring peace in the country,” said a joint statement, adding the government had withdrawn an order that removed fuel subsidies.

Thousands flooded into the streets of Quito shortly after the announcement, waving the national flag, honking horns and setting off fireworks in celebration.

The statement was read by an official from the United Nations, which mediated the talks along with the Catholic Church.

“The measures applied in all our territories are lifted,” confirmed Vargas, referring to roads and oil facilities in the Amazon blocked by protesters for almost two weeks. Those actions suspended the distribution of almost 70 percent of the country’s crude oil.

Indigenous groups make up a quarter of Ecuador’s 17.3 million people. Thousands who had traveled from disadvantaged communities across the Amazon and the Andes to spearhead the protests in Quito started to head home after the deal was announced.

“Indigenous brothers, I have always treated you with respect and affection,” Moreno said as the talks opened. “It was never my intention to affect the poorest sectors.”

Moreno had previously declared a curfew and placed Quito under military control to quell the unrest.

On Sunday, violent clashes continued before the talks began as police fought to disperse protesters who tried to put up a barricade of debris from Saturday’s unrest.

Authorities said 1,349 people had been injured and 1,152 detained in the demonstrations.

The violence forced Moreno to relocate his government to Ecuador’s second city, Guayaquil, and hit the oil industry hard with the energy ministry suspending more than two-thirds of its distribution of crude.

– Buildings ransacked –

CONAIE had previously rejected an offer of dialogue but reversed course Saturday.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres earlier called on all groups “to commit to inclusive and meaningful talks, and to work in good faith towards a peaceful solution.”

Demonstrators on Saturday ransacked and set fire to the building housing the comptroller general’s office, which was shrouded in thick smoke after being attacked with firebombs.

The prosecutor’s office said 34 people were arrested.

Protesters on Saturday also targeted a television station and a newspaper.

The Teleamazonas TV channel interrupted its regular broadcast to air images of broken windows, a burned vehicle and heavy police presence on the scene.

The station evacuated 25 employees, none of them hurt.

Nearby, protesters built barricades in front of the National Assembly building as police fired tear gas at them.

“We have nothing to do with the events at the comptroller’s office and Teleamazonas,” said CONAIE.

El Comercio newspaper reported on Twitter that its offices were attacked by a “group of unknowns.”

Protesters did not immediately heed the curfew that went into effect on Saturday, with security forces struggling to impose order in some parts of the city.

“Where are the mothers and fathers of the police? Why do they let them kill us?” cried Nancy Quinyupani, an indigenous woman.

The restrictions in Quito, a city of 2.7 million, came on top of a state of emergency Moreno had declared on October 3, deploying some 75,000 military and police and imposing a nighttime curfew in the vicinity of government buildings.

Moreno is struggling with an economic crisis that he blames on waste and corruption by Correa’s administration.

AFP

Adesokan, Opeyori Retain National Badminton Championship Titles

Photo: Badminton Federation of Nigeria

 

 

Nigeria’s top-rated players, Dorcas Adesokan and Anuoluwapo Opeyori, have retained their titles at the third National Badminton Championship in Lagos.

In the women’s singles event, the reigning queen of African Badminton, Adesokan from Ogun State defeated Ruth Ibere of Katsina State to retain the gold medal she won last year.

She has not been beaten at the tournament.

The men’s singles event final was also a repeat of last year’s action where Nigeria’s number one player, Anuoluwapo Opeyori defeated his fiercest rival, fellow Lagos State player and national number two, Godwin Olufua 2-0 to also keep his title.

Meanwhile, the women’s doubles event produced new winners.

Kwara State’s combination of Zainab Alabi and Sofiyat Obanishola outclassed Ogun State’s pair of Adesokan and Asisat Ogunkanbi to take home the gold medal.

The mixed doubles event further confirmed the ratings of current Nigeria’s top-ranked pair of Eneojo Abah and his lovely wife, Peace where they pipped FCT’s pair of Yunusa Momoh and Ramatu Yakubu 2-0 to add to continue their dominance in the event.

The men’s doubles finals saw Opeyori and Olofua of Lagos State win 2-1 over Eneojo Abah (Rivers) and Isaac Minaphee (Taraba) to retain the gold won last year in the category.

Next up for some of the winners is a ranking badminton tournament this month in Egypt, where they are expected to seal places for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Over 13,000 People To Attend World Bank, IMF Meeting In US

 

No fewer than 13,000 people are expected at this year’s meeting of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

The annual event, which opens on Tuesday, will take place in Washington D.C., the United States.

It will bring together governors of various central banks, ministers of finance and development, private sector executives, civil society, and academics.

Participants are expected to discuss issues of global concern including the world economic outlook, global financial stability, poverty eradication, jobs and growth, economic development, and aid effectiveness among others.

Top government officials from Nigeria are also expected at the meeting and would possibly share experiences on what the Federal Government has been doing to address income inequalities, job creation, and improve the nation’s human resources.

The meeting is also expected to offer an opportunity for civil society organisations to share their views and interact with policymakers in a global setting.