Global Stock Markets Coast Through Christmas Eve

This file photo shows traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP

 

Global stock markets were mostly flat in quiet Christmas Eve trading on Tuesday, running out of fizz before the festive break, although the Nasdaq hit its ninth straight record close.

US investors have been in a cheery mood most of the fall as the outlook for US-China trade talks improved, reducing uncertainty, and most economic reports have been good.

In the sleepy holiday-shortened sessions, the broad S&P 500 slipped a hair, and the benchmark Dow dipped 0.1 percent, but the Nasdaq, with a 0.1 percent gain, posted another all-time high.

It was a similar picture in other major markets, as London’s benchmark FTSE 100 shares index rose 0.1 percent, while the Paris CAC 40 finished flat.

“In true Christmas tradition, financial markets saw low trading volumes and volatility,” said CMC Markets analyst David Madden.

Frankfurt’s DAX 30 had already shut for Christmas.

Trading volumes are typically light at this stage with many investors away for extended Christmas and New Year holiday celebrations.

But the sleepy session was punctuated by some big developments.

New Boeing revelations

Dow member Boeing fell 1.4 percent after reports the embattled company sent new documents to the congressional committee investigating its response to two deadly crashes.

The documents “appear to point to a very disturbing picture” about Boeing’s response to safety issues regarding the 737 MAX, an aide to the US House Transportation Committee told AFP.

The company sent the documents to the committee late Monday, hours after announcing it had ousted Dennis Muilenburg as chief executive and installed Chairman David Calhoun in the post. Shares had rallied on the leadership change.

Meanwhile, Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick on Tuesday severed his last ties with the ride-hailing giant, announcing he would exit the board of directors at the end of 2019.

Uber shares gained 0.4 percent.

‘Santa Rally’ fades

Investors were pausing for breath after a bumper run over the last two weeks or so.

“Investors must feel as if they were extra good this year,” said CFRA Research Chief Investment Strategist Sam Stovall, who noted that both stocks and bonds rose solidly in 2019.

Global equities have already enjoyed a “Santa Rally” as dealers welcomed news over the US-China trade war and Brexit, having been on a roller-coaster ride for the last 12 months.

Britain’s pro-Brexit Prime Minister Boris Johnson won a landslide election on December 12, boosting investor sentiment.

Last week, Johnson clinched parliamentary approval for the nation to depart from the European Union on January 31, dispelling Brexit uncertainty that had plagued markets for more than three years.

The rally gathered pace at widespread investor relief over the China-US trade pact, with the two economic superpowers set to sign off the deal early next month.

Asian markets were mixed in thin business Tuesday.

Key figures around 1930 GMT

New York – Dow: DOWN 0.1 percent at 28,515.45 (close)

New York – S&P 500: FLAT at 3,223.38 (close)

New York – Nasdaq: UP 0.1 percent at 8,952.88 (close)

London – FTSE 100: UP 0.1 percent at 7,632.24 points (close)

Paris – CAC 40: FLAT at 6,029.55 (close)

Frankfurt – DAX 30: closed for holiday

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.1 percent at 3,774.29

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: FLAT at 23,830.58 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 0.2 percent at 27,864.21 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.7 percent at 2,982.68 (close)

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2958 from $1.2936

Euro/pound: DOWN at 85.52 pence from 85.73 pence

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1085 from $1.1079

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 109.39 yen from 109.44 yen

Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.8 percent at $67.21 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.6 percent at $61.14

AFP

Bethlehem Welcomes Pilgrims For Christmas Celebrations

Tourists and pilgrims visit the Manger Square outside the Church of the Nativity in the biblical West Bank city of Bethlehem on December 24, 2019.  HAZEM BADER / AFP

 

Pilgrims from around the world gathered Tuesday in the biblical city of Bethlehem, revered by Christians as the birthplace of Jesus, ushering in Christmas celebrations across the globe.

Thousands of Palestinians and foreigners converged on the “little town” in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, with Christmas Eve festivities taking place in and around the Church of the Nativity.

Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem and the most senior Roman Catholic official in the Middle East, arrived from the holy city at the head of a procession.

Bethlehem is close to Jerusalem but cut off from it by Israel’s separation barrier.

After crossing through the wall, Pizzaballa said it was a difficult time but there was a reason for “hope”.

“We see in this period the weakness of politics, enormous economic problems, unemployment, problems in families,” he said.

“On the other side, when I visit families, parishes, communities, I see a lot of commitment… for the future.

“Christmas is for us to celebrate the hope.”

In the square outside the church, a few thousand people watched in the winter sun as Palestinian scouts paraded in front of a 15-metre Christmas tree.

“The church is beautiful and it puts what we know in the Bible (in) place,” said Laneda, an American tourist visiting the site.

“Everything is just very meaningful.”

As evening fell, crowds thinned as the church closed to tourists ahead of midnight mass, which Pizzaballa was to lead, with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas expected to attend.

Pope Francis was set to address the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics late Tuesday evening.

‘Bumpy year’

The first church was built on the site of Jesus’s birth in the fourth century, though it was replaced after a fire in the sixth century.

This year celebrations were bolstered by the return of a wooden fragment believed to be from the manger of Jesus.

Sent as a gift to Pope Theodore I in 640, the piece had been in Europe for more than 1,300 years before being returned last month, Francesco Patton, chief custodian for the Holy Land, said.

“We venerate the relic because (it) reminds us of the mystery of incarnation, to the fact that the son of God was born of Mary in Bethlehem more than 2,000 years ago,” Patton told AFP at the time.

In the square by the church, Palestinian tourism minister Rula Maayah told AFP it had been a good year, with 3.5 million tourists visiting the city.

But fewer Christians from the Gaza Strip were in attendance than in previous years, as Israel had granted permits to just around 300 of some 900 people who applied, said Wadie Abunassar, an adviser to church leaders in the Holy Land.

The Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza are separated by Israeli territory and crossing between them requires hard-to-get permits.

Around the world, people were getting ready to ring in the Christmas festivities.

In her traditional Christmas Day message, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II was to describe 2019 as “quite bumpy” after a year of crises in the royal family.

In France, travellers were meanwhile facing more woe in the bitter nearly-three week strike by train drivers fighting government pension reform plans.

The walkout has ruined Christmas travel plans for tens of thousands of French ticket holders unable to reach loved ones in time for Christmas Day.

A frantic scramble for gift promotions left a dozen people injured in an Australian mall.

But in Hong Kong chaos broke out in an upscale mall after pro-democracy protesters planned a series of Christmas Ever demonstrations.

And in the central Philippines, where Christmas is widely celebrated among the country’s Catholics, thousands of people were warned to leave their homes as a severe tropical storm approached.

AFP

‘I Wish I Knew How To Relate With Death’, Kunle Afolayan Mourns Alabi Yellow

 

Actor, Kunle Afolayan is among those mourning the late actor, Samuel Akinpelu, aka Alabi Yellow.

In a lengthy post on Instagram, Afolayan said it had always been his dream to work with veterans in the industry.

According to him he had envisioned working with Alabi Yellow on a film titled ‘Dog on a lion’s trail’ over 15 years ago but the project never took off.

He, however, got the opportunity to work with him on the set of his most recent film, Mokalik and it was an experience he really appreciated.

Read Also: Veteran Yoruba Actor, Alabi Yellow Is Dead

Afolayan lamented that he didn’t know how to relate with death and although the actor’s exit was painful, he believes he had fulfilled his purpose on earth.

He also prayed that God grants the family of the deceased the fortitude to bear the loss.

Alabi Yellow is believed to have died in the early hours of Sunday in his home in Ikorodu, Lagos State after having suffered a stroke.

 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

I just wish I knew how to relate with death and human demise but the honest truth is that, I don’t. I have always wanted to work with the veteran Alabi yellow since TK and I discussed having him in a film titled ‘Dog on a lion’s trail’ over 15 years ago. However, the project didn’t take off for some reason. Reconnecting and working with the veterans in the industry is something I am passionate about, hence my featuring the likes of Papalolo, Baba Eda, Baba Gebu, Aderupoko and the late Alabi Yellow in Mokalik. I believe his sojourn in life has fully fulfilled the essence of why he was created. On behalf of the entire Golden Effects team, we hope the Almighty grants his entire family the grace and fortitude to bear this huge loss. Ki Olorun fi orun ke won. Ase

A post shared by Kunle Afolayan (@kunleafo) on

Romanians Pay Tribute To Victims Of 1989 Revolution

People march with baloons reading “Freedom” during the commemoration of the victims of the 1989 Revolution in Bucharest on December 22, 2019. A thousand people commemorated on December 22, 2019 in Bucharest the victims of the Romanian revolution of December 1989 and hoped that the light will be shed on the bloody events which followed the fall of the communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, Daniel MIHAILESCU / AFP

 

Thousands of people marched in the Romanian capital Bucharest on Sunday to remember those who lost their lives in the revolution 30 years ago that ended the communist dictatorship of Nicolae Ceausescu.

The marchers observed a minute’s silence in Revolution Square then released hundreds of balloons, which organisers said represented the 1,142 people killed during the uprising.

President Klaus Iohannis and several ministers from his centre-right administration laid commemorative wreaths and lit candles in front of a monument to the victims.

“We want to know the truth about December 1989,” Iohannis said a few hours earlier, as he opened an exhibition on the revolution.

“We want the guilty to be judged and for justice to be done,” he said.

Romania’s former president, Ion Iliescu, is currently on trial accused of crimes against humanity for his alleged role in power during the final days of the revolution.

“It’s thanks to those who died in December 1989 that we live in a free country,” said 52-year-old Veronica Nicolau at the rally.

“I came to express my gratitude to these young innocents who were killed in cold blood,” said Petre Cojan, a 73-year-old pensioner close to tears.

“One day, we will know the truth and then we will finally be able to celebrate the revolution rather than just commemorating it,” he added.

Up until December 22, 1989, it was Ceausescu who gave the order to the army and the security forces to fire on protesters.

But most of the more than 900 victims died after he had been toppled from power and when Iliescu had taken over. His trial started last month.

The 1989 revolution that overthrew the Ceausescu regime began on December 15 in the western city of Timisoara before reaching the capital six days later.

Ceausescu and his wife Elena were arrested on December 22 and shot after a summary trial on Christmas Day.

Sunday’s rally was the latest in a series of events held over the past few days to commemorate the revolution.

I Wasn’t Elected To Fight The Executive But To Collaborate, Says Gbajabiamila

 

 

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has reiterated that contrary to popular opinion, the current National Assembly is not a rubber stamp.

On the other hand, he also stated that he was not elected to fight the Executive but to engage and collaborate with stakeholders to bring dividends of democracy.

The Speaker of the House said this on Sunday at his annual End of the Year Grassroots Empowerment Programme which took place in Surulere, Lagos.

“The fact is that the National Assembly is not a rubber stamp. This is a National Assembly that represents the interests of the people. The people of Surulere did not elect me to fight the Executive but to engage and collaborate with stakeholders to bring dividends of democracy,” he said

“This is a new dispensation. There will be checks and balances. There will be separation of powers. We will agree with the executive if we have to, and we will disagree if we have to. Our watchword is to protect the interests of the Nigerian people. That is the oath I and my colleagues swore to”.

Also addressing other issues such as the recent border closure by the Federal Government, the House Speaker said it is yielding good results as Nigerian farmers are now “smiling to the bank.”

Gbajabiamila said the action by the Federal Government has forced Nigerians to now consume locally farmed products, especially Nigerian rice.

Read the full details of the event below.

Press Statement from the Office of the Speaker, House of Representatives.
December 22, 2019

Border closure yielding good results – Gbajabiamila

…supports constituents to boost businesses
…says Legislature, Executive collaboration best for Nigerians

The Speaker of the House of Representatives Rep Femi Gbajabiamila has said that the current border closure by the Federal Government is yielding good results as Nigerian farmers are “smiling to the bank.”

Gbajabiamila said the action by the Federal Government has forced Nigerians to now consume locally farmed products, especially Nigerian rice.

Gbajabiamila said this in Surulere, Lagos State, on Sunday at his annual End of the Year Grassroots Empowerment Programme.

The Speaker said: “I must say the impact of closing Nigeria’s borders to foreign rice is yielding results. I am sure so many farmers are now smiling to the bank. The volume of Christmas rice sales made by Nigerian farmers speaks to the emerging culture of eating what we grow.”

This is even as the Speaker provided cash grants to some 500 beneficiaries in his Surulere 1 Federal Constituency to help boost their businesses, which is part of his annual End of the Year Grassroots Empowerment Programme.

23 people also received cars as part of the Empowerment programme, computer business owners received Power generating sets and photocopying machines while students received laptops.

“My vision and mission is that by the time we are done in four years, Surulere will never be the same again. That is an assurance. At least as of now, no fewer than 70 to 80 people in Surulere have become proud car owners in my time, and we will continue to do more.

“This year’s edition of our grassroots programme focuses on small businesses in our constituency and to better the income of constituents in the year 2020. It focuses on ease of transportation, and it breaks the cycle of poverty. There will be a minimum of over 500 people going away with N100,000 to N200,000 each to enhance their businesses.

“But I have put a caveat: there will be no disbursement until after Christmas and New Year. If you give somebody N200,000 now, he might spend it on Yuletide activities. So, the grant is for you to develop your businesses so that N200,000 will become N2m and then N20m if properly invested.

“We are currently reconstructing Ibezim Obiajulu Street, Esther Dada-Adeniji Link road to Ishaga, Mery Eneli Street, Chief Bereola Street and the wholesome renovation of Elizabeth Fowler Primary School, Surulere,” the Speaker said

While thanking his constituents for their support and the mandate they have been giving to him since 2003, Gbajabiamila said he would continue to work with the Executive arm to bring more developmental projects to them.

He said the notion among some Nigerians that the current National Assembly is a rubber stamp of the Executive arm was wrong, noting that good collaboration between the two arms is always in the best interest of Nigerians.

Gbajabiamila said it was for that reason that the 9th National Assembly ensured that the 2020 budget was passed in record time to return the country to the January to December budget cycle.

“In the interest of the 360 federal constituencies across Nigeria, the National Assembly has returned the budget cycle to January to December.

“This new discipline will increase economic activities and afford the executive to implement the budget containing nationwide projects within the full financial year as against limited implementation scope in the past.

“People, critics and people of other parties have said the 9th Assembly is a rubber stamp to the Executive. They may have told you that too.

“The fact is that the National Assembly is not a rubber stamp. This is a National Assembly that represents the interests of the people. The people of Surulere did not elect me to fight the Executive but to engage and collaborate with stakeholders to bring dividends of democracy.

“This is a new dispensation. There will be checks and balances. There will be separation of powers. We will agree with the executive if we have to, and we will disagree if we have to. Our watchword is to protect the interests of the Nigerian people. That is the oath I and my colleagues swore to.”

Meanwhile,

Signed:

Lanre Lasisi

Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Speaker, House of Representatives, Nigeria.

CAN Praises US For Placing Nigeria On Special Watch List

 

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has welcomed the idea of the United States government placing Nigeria on a special watch list for having “engaged in or tolerated severe violations of religious freedom”.

The Special Assistant (Media &Communications) to the CAN President, Adebayo Oladeji, disclosed this in a statement issued on Sunday.

According to the statement, although the group is not displeased with the fact that Nigeria is being listed for such, it is glad that the global community is not unaware of such realities.

“We are not happy that our country is being listed among the nations where religious intolerance is one of their hallmarks but it gladdens our hearts that, at least, the global community is not unaware of the fact that Nigerian Christians are becoming endangered species in their Fatherland,” the statement read in part.

The list, according to US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, contains countries like Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan.

Read Also: US Adds Nigeria To ‘Special Watch List’ Of Countries Violating Religious Freedom

Mr. Pompeo explained that the protection of religious freedom is a top priority for the Trump administration foreign policy and that it will work diligently to promote religious freedom and combat abuses.

Meanwhile, Boko Haram and eight other terrorists group have been described as ‘Entities of Particular Concern’.

CAN believes that the reasons given by the US for including Nigeria on the list are too glaring to be disputed. Adding, “is it not true that “the Nigerian Federal Government Failed to implement effective strategies to prevent or stop such violence or to hold perpetrators accountable,” as noted by the US government?

Read the full statement below.

RELIGIOUS AND ETHNIC INTOLERANCE: US IS STANDING ON THE SIDE OF TRUTH FOR PLACING NIGERIA ON SPECIAL WATCH LIST

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) welcomes the placing of the country on a special watch list by the US government despite the fact that we were not contacted before the decision was taken. We are not happy that our country is being listed among the nations where religious intolerance is one of their hallmarks but it gladdens our hearts that, at least, the global community is not unaware of the fact that Nigerian Christians are becoming endangered species in their Fatherland.

The reasons given by the United States are too glaring to be disputed. The US, like every other country, has an embassy here that monitors and reports back what the country is going through and the approach being adopted by the government to addressing the situation. Is it not true that “The Nigerian federal government failed to implement effective strategies to prevent or stop such violence or to hold perpetrators accountable,” as noted by the US government?

The leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has made this known to President Muhammadu Buhari in all our meetings with him to see the whole country as his constituency and to avoid nepotism as much as possible; but instead of correcting the imbalance, one of his aides is fond of abusing and insulting the Association using every unprintable words.

The Chief Justice of Nigeria, few days ago, called for amendment to the Constitution with a view to adding more Sharia contents. Since the Chief Justice has not denied the story and the government has failed to call him to order, it is crystal clear that the US government has more facts than the government thinks. If the government is sensitive to our yearnings and aspirations, how come no Christian is heading any of the three arms of government in the present dispensation? This is unprecedented in the history of this country since Independence. Is that one of the reasons why no Christian worthy of occupying any of those sensitive positions?

Another slap on our face is the composition of the National Security Council of the country. We learnt that 98 per cent of its members come from one part of the country and people of same faith. Let the government unmask its members including their religions and states of origin. The government is telling us that Christians are not worthy for those key appointments but to play the second fiddle.

So, another thing that could be responsible for the action of the US government is the lopsided appointments in the polity which confirms popular fear and perception that the government is against the Christians. We have made it abundantly clear to President Muhammadu Buhari repeatedly that the lopsided appointments of his government in favour of one religion and a section of the country is unconstitutional, violates Nigeria’s Federal Character Principle and so it is unacceptable. But the action of the President is strong enough to convince us that he is not ready to correct the imbalance of his appointments forgetting that the country belongs to all Nigerians irrespective of their religious, tribal and political beliefs. The recent appointments in the Police is a good evidence to the critical posture of CAN.

There are enough evidences to prove that the subtle Islamisation agenda and nepotism are real. All the key appointments that are being made since the second term of the President began follow same blueprint. These are facts and they are violations of some portions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended). These include but not limited to Sections 10, 13 (3-4), 15 (2) (d) and (4).

It is widely believed that no country survives two civil wars. We, therefore, call on the government to correct the imbalances and not to be insensitive to the new development but instead address all the factors that are responsible. The government can deny all these facts to the governed but the US government cannot act on mere make-up stories. Of the three arms of the government, none is being headed by a Christian? Why?

Is the US government not aware of the untold hardship Christians are going through in the country, especially in states such as Kaduna, Benue, Plateau, Adamawa and Taraba where Christians are being slaughtered like rams by the Boko Haram terrorists and killer herdsmen while the security agencies appear powerless, complacent and it seems as if the government of the day lacks political will to deal with the criminals? Although we are not unaware of the fact that some Muslims living in those states are also affected but since these states are predominantly Christian, the primary targets of violence, barbaric killings and destruction of properties are Christians.

It is a fact that not fewer than 95 per cent of those who are being detained by the terrorists are Christians and the government has been paying lips service towards securing their freedoms. Leah Sharibu is a case study and the only reason why the government that secured the release of her colleagues has not freed her is because of her religion. We wonder why the government has not done the needful to liberate this innocent girl who happens to be a daughter of a Police officer.

It is disheartening and disappointing to note that even the ongoing anti-graft war of the government is not an exemption. While CAN is not encouraging corrupt practices but we are against selective approach to the fight against corruption. From the position of this government, it is only few Christians holding key appointments in this dispensation that are corrupt. This is a fallacious position.

CAN urges the Federal Government to let its policies be implemented according to the dictates of the Constitution. The bitter truth is Christians are yet to be given any sense of belonging since this government came on board. Our prayers include wisdom and the courage for President Muhammadu Buhari to give all citizens a sense of belonging, irrespective of their religious, tribal and political affiliations. He should govern the country as the Father of the nation. We commend the United States for standing on the side of the oppressed and the truth.

Pastor Adebayo Oladeji, Special Assistant (Media &Communications) to the CAN President, His Eminence, Rev Dr Samson Ayokunle.

22 December 2019.

Lazio Defeat Juventus To Win Super Cup

Lazio’s Italian forward Ciro Immobile runs after the ball during the Supercoppa Italiana final football match between Juventus and Lazio at the King Saud University Stadium in the Saudi capital Riyadh on December 22, 2019.
GIUSEPPE CACACE / AFP

 

Lazio won the Italian Super Cup for a fifth time on Sunday, defeating Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus 3-1 in a game played in the Saudi Arabia capital of Riyadh.

Lazio, the only team to have defeated Juve in Serie A this season, were in front through Luis Alberto after just 16 minutes.

Paulo Dybala levelled just before the break but Bosnian international Senad Lulic restored Lazio’s advantage in the 73rd minute.

Danilo Cataldi added a third in the fourth minute of stoppage time from a free kick after Juve’s Uruguayan midfielder Rodrigo Bentancur had been sent off.

Veteran Yoruba Actor, Alabi Yellow Is Dead

 

Veteran actor and author, Samuel Akinpelu, popularly known as Alabi Yellow, has died.

He is believed to have died in the early hours of Sunday in his home in Ikorodu, Lagos State.

Prior to his death, he had suffered a stroke in March shortly after the demise of his wife.

However, a popular philanthropist, Reverend Esther Ajayi, was said to have offered him a sum of N10m to take care of his health.

Read Also: ‘I Wish I Knew How To Relate With Death’, Kunle Afolayan Mourns Alabi Yellow

Alabi Yellow has appeared in several Yoruba movies and also wrote a book titled, ‘A ba Oko Ku’.

Tributes have been pouring in for the late actor including that of Kunle Afolayan who recently worked with him on the set of the critically acclaimed movie Mokalik.

Eight Feared Killed In Fresh Attack On Niger Community

niger-state-yuletide

 

 

Eight persons are feared killed by bandits in an attack on Kaure community, of Kwaki Ward in Shiroro Local Government Area, Niger State.

The attack which occurred in the early hours of Saturday, reportedly left several persons critically injured and many displaced from their homes.

The Councillor representing the ward, Jafaru Kwaki confirmed this to Channels Television, saying the information only got to him on Sunday as the affected community is a remote one.

“I received the sad report on Sunday that armed men dressed in black, stormed Kaure community in Kwaki, that’s under my ward, as early as 7:00 am. They were on motorbikes, as it is their style, and began to shoot sporadically,” he said.

“Eight persons have lost their lives in the attack. As for the injured persons, we cannot ascertain the number of people injured in the attack yet, because many escaped into the bushes with bullet wounds, but we were able to move 15 who sustained various degrees of injuries to health centres”.

According to him, the attackers also rustled cows, dispossessed locals of their cash and foodstuff at gunpoint.

“They burnt two vehicles, five machines and some houses in the attack. At the moment, many of our people are also missing. We have, however, dispatched search parties made up of vigilantes to comb the bush for them, while we try to move displaced persons to safe locations,” Kwaki further explained.

This is the third time in December alone that armed men have attacked communities in Shiroro local government area.

Earlier in the month, at least 13 persons were killed in attacks by bandits in eight communities across Rafi and Shiroro local government areas.

Meanwhile, the district head of Madaka, Alhaji Zakari Yau, his wife, the village head of Kukoki and four others, including the Secretary of the district council and a retired soldier were also kidnapped.

Similarly, some expatriates working around the area were reportedly abducted by bandits.

The Police in the state has, however, remained silent on the attacks.

While the Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Abubakar Dan-Innah, has declined to speak to journalists on the basis that he is on leave, Channels Television made efforts to speak to the Police Commissioner, Adamu Usman, but he is yet to take his call or respond to messages sent to him.

The Acting Public Relations Officer, ASP Uthman Umar, responding to the several missed calls from Channels Television’s correspondent, said the command is not aware of such attacks, but that he believes that if there is any such incident; the command would get a report by Monday.

He promised to keep our reporter abreast of any development on the matter.

But the locals have accused security operatives of compromise, alleging that the security agencies in the state have knowledge of the attacks.

Meanwhile, the Senator representing Niger East Senatorial District, Senator Mohammed Sani Musa has condemned the attack on Kaure.

He has called on the Federal Government, to as a matter of urgency, dispatch security personnel to tackle “the renewed spate of attacks” in Rafi and Shiroro local government areas.

He has also tasked security agencies in the state to up their ante in the fight against bandits.

The Senator particularly urged the Commissioner of Police and other security chiefs to come up with strategies that would nip the challenges in the bud once and for all.

In a statement he personally signed, he said his people cannot be left to die in the hands of bandits, adding that he would continue to make a case for them at the National Assembly until something is done to arrest the ugly situation.

As at the time of filing this report, the State Emergency Management Agency said it had activated an emergency response mechanism to deal with the situation in Kaure.

Director-General of the agency, Alhaji Ibrahim Ahmed Inga, said his office is, however, yet to receive a report on the number of casualties.

Gunmen Kidnap Five Persons, Injure Four Policemen In Adamawa

25 Feared Killed As Boko Haram Attacks Adamawa Village

 

Gunmen have kidnapped two nursing mothers and three children in Ganye, the administrative headquarters of Ganye Local Government Area of Adamawa State.

According to sources, the kidnappers invaded the home of one Hussain Ahmadu at about 1:00 am on Tuesday and kidnapped the victims.

On receiving the information, the Divisional Police Office quickly mobilised his men to the scene but were ambushed by heavily armed men who engaged them in a gun battle.

Consequently, four policemen sustained gunshot wounds.

The Police Public Relations Officer in the state command, DSP Suleiman Nguroje, who confirmed the incident to Channels Television, said the Command has mobilised the anti-kidnapping Unit and the State Operation Farauta security outfit to the area.

Also, he stated that the IGP Rapid Response Unit led by the Assistant Commissioner of Police, Karewa, has been directed to relocate to Ganye to apprehend the kidnappers and free the victims from their abductors.

Pakistan Military Condemns Death Sentence Of Former Chief Musharraf

In this file photo taken on April 20, 2013, former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf (C) is escorted by soldiers as he salutes on his arrival at an anti-terrorism court in Islamabad.
Aamir QURESHI / AFP

 

Exiled former Pakistani military leader Pervez Musharraf was sentenced to death Tuesday after being found guilty of treason, a verdict swiftly condemned by the armed forces which have ruled the country for almost half its 72-year history.

The court’s decision marks the first time a former leader of the armed forces has been convicted of treason and sentenced to death in Pakistan, where the military maintains strong influence and senior officers are often considered immune from prosecution.

Musharraf has been in self-imposed exile ever since a travel ban was lifted in 2016, allowing him to seek medical treatment abroad.

The 76-year-old has lately spent most of his time between Dubai and London.

Several Pakistani media sources reported the verdict and sentence handed down by a three-member special court, while a senior judicial official confirmed the rulings to AFP.

Pakistan’s military denounced the special court’s ruling, saying in a statement that the armed forces were in “pain and anguish” over the decision.

“An ex-Army Chief, Chairman Joint Chief of Staff Committee and President of Pakistan, who has served the country for over 40 years, fought wars for the defense of the country, can surely never be a traitor,” the military said in a statement.

It added that the legal process “seems to have been ignored”.

The trial began in 2013 and is one of several involving Musharraf. It centered on his decision to suspend the constitution and impose emergency rule in 2007, according to his lawyer Akhtar Shah.

The move sparked widespread protests against Musharraf, ultimately leading to his resignation in the face of impeachment proceedings.

Musharraf’s lawyer said the former general was currently ill and remained in Dubai. He said no decision had been made on whether to appeal.

The nation’s current top prosecutor, Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan, said the judgement was “against the constitution”.

“If the person who is accused is not getting justice this government will stand against that injustice,” he said.

The court ruling came more than a week after Musharraf dismissed the treason case against him in a video message showing the former general in a hospital bed appearing ill while complaining of dizziness and blackouts.

“I think this case is baseless. They are not listening to me and they are not listening to my lawyer… It is a big injustice,” Musharraf said.

Retired general Talat Masood, now a security analyst, called the court’s decision “extraordinary” and “bold”.

‘Revenge’

Musharraf was born in India’s capital Delhi in 1943 but moved with his family to Pakistan after partition.

He took power after ousting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a bloodless 1999 coup.

A cigar-smoking, whisky-drinking moderate, the general became a major US ally in the “war on terror” after the September 11 attacks on the United States.

He escaped at least three Al-Qaeda assassination attempts during his nine years in office.

His rule faced no serious challenges until he tried to sack the chief justice in March 2007, sparking nationwide protests and months of turmoil that led to the imposition of a state of emergency.

After the December 2007 assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, the national mood soured even further. He was left isolated by the crushing losses suffered by his allies in February 2008 elections.

Musharraf finally resigned in August 2008 in the face of impeachment proceedings by the new governing coalition and went into exile.

When Musharraf returned in 2013, aiming to contest elections, he was barred from taking part and from leaving the country. A barrage of legal cases mounted.

The treason case was first launched against Musharraf by his old foe Sharif in 2013. The case went on for years, repeatedly delayed, until Tuesday’s surprise announcement.

The treason ruling is the latest case to target Musharraf since he has been in exile.

In 2017, a Pakistani court pronounced him a fugitive in the murder trial of Bhutto — the first woman to be prime minister of a Muslim country.

The anti-terrorism court also branded Musharraf an absconder and ordered the confiscation of his property.

Musharraf is alleged to have been part of a broad conspiracy to have his rival Bhutto killed before elections. He has denied all charges.

Following the court’s decision Tuesday, Bhutto’s son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari tweeted: “Democracy is the best revenge”.

Brazilian Grandmother Turned Lingerie Model Shines Light On Older Women

 

Wearing nothing but a lacy bra and matching panties, Brazilian grandmother Helena Schargel strikes a seductive pose during a photoshoot featuring her latest lingerie designs for women over 60.

“Wonderful, marvelous,” the photographer gushes as Schargel, 79, stares confidently into the camera in a converted warehouse in Sao Paulo.

After decades working for a fabric company, the lithe and energetic Schargel emerged from retirement more than two years ago on a mission to drag older women out of obscurity.

Her tactic? Sexy fashion designed especially for them — and modelled by her.

“This project has a clear goal: to make women visible,” Schargel told AFP at her elegantly furnished apartment in Brazil’s biggest city.

Schargel has launched several underwear collections with Brazil’s Recco Lingerie. An activewear line with the company Alto Giro was unveiled this year and more are in the works, she says.

Schargel, who helps with the designs, says Brazilian women over 60 have long been overlooked by fashion companies, society — and even themselves.

 

She shares words of encouragement on her Instagram account, where she has nearly 18,000 mainly women followers, of all ages.

Messages such as “take a risk” and “you can do anything” pepper her feed, which receive hundreds, sometimes thousands, of likes and comments.

“I never thought about how old I was, never — this never worried me,” says Schargel, describing the popularity of plastic surgery in Brazil as “madness.”

“It was only a few years ago that I realized I was no longer 33.”

No Gym Trips

The daughter of Polish immigrants, Schargel began making clothes as a teenager and selling them in her parents’ store.

It was the beginning of a lifelong career in fashion.

Along the way, she got married twice and had two children. She now has five grandchildren, some of whom wear her designs.

Retirement did not suit the soon-to-be octogenarian, who moves with the ease of someone decades younger.

“I thank God that I don’t need to go to the gym,” she says, lolling in a lounge chair in black and white leggings and matching loose-fitting top and sneakers.

“I do pilates three times a week, which is good for me and my spirit.”

‘Absurdly Comfortable’

Schargel’s decision to model lingerie was daring in a macho country where older women are treated as if they “are not alive anymore,” says Vogue Brazil editor-in-chief Paula Merlo.

“She reminds you that there is a life after 60, 70 and it can be sexy, it can be fun and it can also be profitable.”

After some initial butterflies, Schargel says she feels comfortable stripping to her underwear in public.

Determined to appear as natural as possible, she insists on no photoshopping.

“I always say, ‘Please, leave all my little wrinkles just as they are’,” she says.

“They are very important. They show that I have arrived here.”

At the hours-long photo shoot, a barefoot Schargel drifts between the dressing room and photo studio, showing off lingerie and pieces from her new bed-to-street line.

She moves easily in front of the camera as fashion photographer Pablo Saborido clicks away.

“I really like working with people outside… the model profile,” says Saborido, 39.

Schargel says her lingerie is “absurdly comfortable.” Some pieces even “help lift the butt,” she adds cheekily.

As the global population ages, Schargel says the world needs to get ready for an explosion in elderly women in the coming decades.

“Twenty, 30 years from now, there will be many more grannies than young people,” she says.

“We need to prepare for this — companies need to prepare for this.”