Russia Expels Eight Japanese Diplomats Over Ukraine

A photo combination of the Japanese and Russian flags.

 

Moscow said Wednesday it was expelling eight Japanese diplomats in a tit-for-tat response to expulsions by Tokyo over the conflict in Ukraine.

Accusing Tokyo of pursuing an “openly hostile anti-Russian course,” the foreign ministry said in a statement that the Japanese diplomats must leave by May 10, in a reciprocal answer to Japan’s expulsion of eight Russian diplomats.

It accused Tokyo of “taking steps that were unprecedented in modern Russian-Japanese relations” and “abandoning friendly, constructive relations with Russia”.

READ ALSORussia Cuts Gas Supplies To Poland, Bulgaria Over Ukraine

Earlier this month Japan expelled the eight Moscow diplomats and announced it will end imports of Russian coal over the military campaign in Ukraine.

Japan has marched in lockstep with Western allies on sanctions against Russia since the start of the conflict on February 24.

Tokyo has complex relations with Moscow, with attempts to sign a post-World War II peace treaty hampered by a long-running dispute over islands that Japan says are “illegally occupied” by Russia.

Russia and the West have imposed a series of tit-for-tat measures over the conflict, including diplomatic expulsions and travel bans.

AFP

El Salvador Dares Maduro, Expels Venezuela Diplomats

 

El Salvador ordered Venezuela’s diplomats to leave the country in a challenge to their president Nicolas Maduro, prompting his government to respond by expelling Salvadoran envoys in Caracas on Sunday.

El Salvador under its new President Nayib Bukele is one of more than 50 countries that have declared Maduro’s government in Venezuela illegitimate.

They have switched their recognition to his lead rival, national assembly speaker Juan Guaido, who has declared himself Venezuela’s acting president.

Bukele said El Salvador had ordered “the diplomatic corps from the regime of Nicolas Maduro” to leave the country within 48 hours, in a statement posted on his Twitter account late Saturday.

In response, the Venezuelan foreign ministry said in a statement on Sunday it had declared each of the Salvadoran diplomatic staff in Caracas “persona non grata” and gave them 48 hours to leave.

Maduro’s leftist government has jailed opposition leaders and is accused of using torture and arbitrary arrests as it struggles to hold on to power amid a collapsing economy.

But his government still has support from Russia and China.

Before his election in June, Bukele said he would maintain a “distant” relationship with Caracas and close ties with the United States, Maduro’s biggest diplomatic foes.

US Ambassador Ronald Johnson reacted warmly to El Salvador’s decision.

“We applaud the government of President Nayib Bukele for ensuring that El Salvador is on the right side of history,” he said on Twitter.

US President Donald Trump was one of the first leaders to recognize Guaido when the opposition leader mounted an unsuccessful bid to oust Maduro in April.

AFP

APC Accuses US Of Bias Against Buhari’s Administration, Double Standards

 

 

The All Progressives Congress (APC) has accused the United States of bias against the Buhari-led Government.

According to a statement by APC spokesman, Festus Keyamo, the party accused the US of double standards.  

In its communique on Monday, the Party said it was concerned about recent statements by the United States’ Ambassador to Nigeria, Ambassador W. Stuart Symington and other Western Diplomats which have been directed towards Nigeria’s upcoming elections.

The APC said while the US and other nation’s interests in the elections are welcome, the recent expressions by Ambassador W. Stuart Symington were notably off- key.

Speaking about recent warnings by the US and other nations regarding electoral malpractice and possible violence that might mar the polls, the APC said, “The continued warnings about ‘flawed elections’ is capable of casting an unwarranted cloud over the process.

“Instead of encouraging our country toward credible elections, such statements undermine public confidence. It would appear that these envoys seem to have discredited the election before it has even taken place

“We truly hope some of the statements attributed to these diplomats are inaccurate.

The APC said that in a recent report, Ambassador W. Stuart Symington threatened to “hold to account” anyone whose speech, no matter the motivation of that speech, engendered hatred.

READ ALSO: Buhari Takes Re-Election Campaign To Ogun

While the Party agreed that any speech willfully intended to trigger violence is condemnable. It, however, noted that in condemning other forms of political speech, the American envoy overstepped his ambassadorial brief.

“For instance, the American Ambassador was reported to have condemned a situation where a candidate says that his opponent’s political and economic policies are abhorrent and dangerous to the greater welfare of the people and calls on the citizens to hate and reject such policies. In our view, this is a correct statement because it is the duty of the candidate to tell the people these truths to protect the nation from subsequent calamity. But Ambassador Symington says his country would punish such necessary political speeches.

“For us, it is significant to note that such strong political speeches are not unlawful in the United States, but Ambassador Symington is seeking to penalize such speeches by Nigerians. He seeks to shrink our ambit of free speech so that we may behave in accordance with their vision of well-behaved Africans, rather than in consonance with our vision of our own democracy, no matter how tumultuous and dramatic we may be. It would appear that his position seeks to prohibit forms of expression integral to our political discourse. These forms of expression have time and time again been adjudged to be constitutionally-protected speeches by the United States Supreme Court.

“However, Ambassador Symington intentionally issued his threats to place a chilling effect on speeches in Nigeria that, if uttered in America, would be constitutionally protected. Unfounded allegations and threats to penalize people for constitutionally-protected free speech is improper interference in our internal affairs. Sadly, what Ambassador Symington and some other western diplomats are doing border on the improper.

“We take the view that the constant statements by Ambassador Symington and the other diplomats are implicit attacks against the government of Nigeria. These statements imply the Nigerian government is inclined to rig the election in favour of President Muhammadu Buhari. This is unfair and unacceptable to us. President Muhammadu Buhari has never been accused of electoral malpractice all his life. However, in contrast, former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar publicly boasted a few months ago that he rigged the 2003 election in the Southwest States. Here, we have an open confession of blatant electoral malfeasance by the PDP candidate. But in all of these, there seem to be no concern by Ambassador Symington and other diplomats about this well-acknowledged proclivity of the main opposition.

“We expected that such open confession to rigging in the past would have drawn condemnation from the United States. Rather what we witnessed recently was the ignoble act of giving such a self-confessed rigger with a decade-old indictment in America for corruption hanging over his head a special status to enter the U.S for a few days. Such is the double standard that America now displays for the whole world to see”.

“The continued reference and praise of the 2015 election by Ambassador Symington clearly shows he needs further briefing about the Nigerian situation. For his information, the 2015 presidential election, at the end of the day, produced the correct outcome, but with flawed figures in many areas. Though they lost, the figures attributed to the PDP were inflated in many places, especially in the South-South, to save the face of the past President and to reduce the margin of his defeat. President Buhari is determined to improve on the 2015 elections and so it cannot even be our benchmark.

“An American ambassador has a great responsibility in representing the strongest economic and military power in the world. His comments carry weight because of the status of his nation. This means his comments should reflect a deep knowledge of the subject. Sadly, Ambassador Symington has not shown the deep knowledge of the Nigerian situation. The impression he creates by constantly harping on suspected government interference with the electoral process is that President Buhari cannot win without tipping the results. He seems to be saying that only a PDP victory will be evidence of a fair election.

“Again, he is in great error. From all of the information at our disposal, President Buhari can and should win a free and fair election. However, it appears to us that Ambassador Symington is substituting his subjective conclusions for the sovereign will of the Nigerian people. In doing so, he has abandoned the impartiality of a true envoy and has trespassed into interfering in our electoral process.

“Instead of encouraging free and fair elections, these judgmental statements and threats only cast an unnecessary pall over the elections and the nation. This is an international disservice and not international diplomacy. The days of unquestioned condescension to Western powers are long gone and we are not prepared at this time in Nigeria to recede to that era.

“Nigerians will define Nigeria’s democracy. We shall hold fair and just elections, not because of scolding by diplomats, but because we have sufficient intelligence and morality to do what is right for ourselves. If Ambassador Symington has familiarized himself with Nigeria’s history from 1999 till date, he would have realized that those in the main opposition are being haunted by their past: they think President Buhari would behave exactly like they did all these years when they consistently rigged elections and denied Nigerians the right to choose their leaders

“If Ambassador Symington truly intends to be impartial, his statements should acknowledge that both Government and Opposition (particularly in States where the opposition have Governors in place) must respect the process and refrain from the rigging. We expect him to counsel both governing party and the Opposition from any form of electoral malpractice. After all, it is not only Governments at the center that rig elections. Elections can also be rigged in opposition-controlled areas.

“It is not too late for Ambassador Symington to repair the damage of his uninformed statements. He needs to speak as an impartial envoy instead of a person who appears to have prejudged the quality of the process and the outcome. Until he attains that level of informed impartiality, whatever good he seeks is better achieved by his silence than by tendentious utterances”.

The APC said it is unfortunate that most of the countries that sermonize about free and fair elections have ugly histories of denial of the voting right to people because of their colour and are still facing many challenges with their electoral systems till date.

U.S. Orders Venezuelan Diplomats To Leave Country

US President Donald Trump                                                                                     Nicholas Kamm / AFP

 

The United States ordered two top Venezuelan diplomats to leave within 48 hours in a tit for tat response to Caracas’ expulsion order against the top two US diplomats there.

“This action is to reciprocate the Maduro regime’s decision to declare the Charge d’Affaires and Deputy Chief of Mission of the US Embassy in Caracas personae non grata,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement Wednesday.

The Charge d’Affaires of the Venezuelan embassy and the Deputy Consul General of the Venezuelan consulate in Houston had likewise been declared personae non grata and were directed to leave within two days, she said.

Venezuela’s move to expel US diplomats earlier this week followed a US tightening of sanctions over President Nicolas Maduro‘s controversial re-election as president over the weekend.

The Venezuelan president declared US charge d’affaires Todd Robinson and deputy head of mission Brian Naranjo “personae non gratae.”

Caracas has claimed it was the victim of a “political and financial lynching” — accusations Nauert branded “unjustified.”

“Our Embassy officers have carried out their official duties responsibly and consistent with diplomatic practice,” Nauert said.

“We reject any suggestion to the contrary.”

Election ‘sham’ 

Maduro announced the expulsions after being officially proclaimed the winner of Sunday’s election in the South American nation mired in an acute economic crisis and facing growing international isolation.

The vote was boycotted by the main opposition parties and widely condemned by the international community, including the United States, which denounced it as a “sham.”

On Monday, President Donald Trump tightened sanctions against Caracas, making it harder for the Maduro regime to sell off state assets.

“I repudiate all the sanctions that are sought against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela because they harm it, they generate suffering for the people of Venezuela,” Maduro said in response the next day.

Maduro promised to present evidence that both diplomats were engaged in a political, military and economic “conspiracy.”

Robinson, the charge d’affaires, denied the allegations.

Washington and Caracas have not exchanged ambassadors since 2010, and relations between the two countries have been tense since the late leftist President Hugo Chavez, Maduro‘s mentor, assumed power in 1999.

The deeply unpopular Maduro was declared the winner of Sunday’s election with 68 percent of the vote, but with a record abstention rate.

Days before the elections, 11 soldiers were arrested for planning destabilizing actions against Maduro, and they were ordered to prison on Tuesday, the Foro Penal advocacy group said.

Venezuelans are reeling under a deepening crisis, with hyperinflation projected by the IMF to reach 13,800 percent this year and dire shortages of food and medicine.

Hundreds of thousands of people have fled the country to escape the growing deprivation.

Washington has previously slapped sanctions on Maduro and his senior aides and banned US entities from buying any more debt from Caracas or state oil company PDVSA.

The European Union said it was also weighing new sanctions after the election was marred by “irregularities” and failed to meet international standards.

Caracas is facing increasing international isolation, with the United States, the European Union and the 14 countries of the Lima Group — which includes Argentina, Brazil and Canada — refusing to recognize the election result.

AFP

U.S. Diplomat Suffers Brain Injury After ‘Sound’ Incident In China

 

The US embassy in China issued a health alert Wednesday after a US government employee experienced an “abnormal” sound and suffered a mild brain injury — in an incident reminiscent of a mysterious illness that hit diplomats in Cuba.

US and Chinese authorities are investigating the matter after the employee, who was assigned to the southern city of Guangzhou, was diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI), said embassy spokeswoman Jinnie Lee.

In an alert emailed to US citizens in China, the embassy said it does not know what caused the symptoms or of any similar situations in the country.

In Cuba last year, the US disclosed that 24 diplomats and their family members had fallen victim to an unsolved mysterious attack that left them with injuries resembling brain trauma. Ten Canadian diplomats and their relatives also suffered a strange illness.

“We cannot at this time connect it with what happened in Havana but we are investigating all possibilities,” a US embassy official in Beijing told AFP on the condition of anonymity.

The embassy’s health alert says the government employee “recently reported subtle and vague, but abnormal, sensations of sound and pressure”.

“The US government is taking these reports seriously and has informed its official staff in China of this event,” the message says.

“While in China, if you experience any unusual acute auditory or sensory phenomena accompanied by unusual sounds or piercing noises, do not attempt to locate their source. Instead, move to a location where the sounds are not present,” it says, urging people with medical problems to consult a doctor.

Lee said the employee experienced “a variety of physical symptoms” between late 2017 through April 2018. The person was sent to the United States and diagnosed with MTBI on May 18.

“The (State) Department is taking this incident very seriously and is working to determine the cause and impact of the incident,” Lee said.

“The Chinese government has assured us they are also investigating and taking appropriate measures.”

The Chinese foreign ministry could not be immediately reached for comment.

 Cuban case 

In Cuba, the American victims had associated the onset of their symptoms with “unusual sounds or auditory sensations”, a State Department physician told the US Senate in January.

Charles Rosenfarb, a doctor and director of the State Department bureau of medical services, said the symptoms were mixed but consistent with brain trauma.

The victims suffered headaches, hearing loss, disorientation and some loss of cognitive ability.

Initially officials suspected the Americans had been targeted by some sort of acoustic weapon, although in public senior officials were more cautious, speaking of “health attacks”. Media reports have suggested that the FBI has not been able to verify any evidence to support the sonic weapon theory.

The US government has held Cuba responsible, arguing that Raul Castro’s authoritarian state must have either carried out the assaults or at least known who was behind them.

The incident prompted the United States last year to withdraw more than half of its personnel at the embassy in Havana, which reopened in 2015 as the two nations re-established diplomatic relations that had ruptured in 1961.

Canada announced last month that it was bringing home the families of its diplomats in Cuba after a year-long investigation into the illness failed to reveal a cause.

“The cause (of their symptoms) remains unknown but could be human-made,” the Canadian government concluded.

Canadian and US authorities had initially suspected a “sonic attack” or a “mass psychosomatic incident”, but those are “now considered unlikely”, a senior Canadian official said.

The symptoms included dizziness, headaches and a lack of ability to concentrate.

Unlike their American counterparts, however, no Canadian envoy reported hearing any suspicious sound prior to falling ill.

AFP

Russia Expels Diplomats From 23 Countries As Spy Crisis Escalates

 

Putin Orders Alternative Olympic Games For Banned Athletes
Russian President Vladimir                                            Putin Photo: Alexey NIKOLSKY / SPUTNIK / AFP

 

Russia expelled diplomats from 23 countries on Friday in retaliation against the West in a spy row, in the biggest wave of tit-for-tat expulsions in recent memory.

The Russian foreign ministry said it had summoned the heads of missions from 23 countries — almost all of them European Union member states — to tell them that some of their diplomats had to leave.

The diplomats from France, Canada, Germany, Australia and other countries were earlier seen arriving at the Russian foreign ministry in flagged official cars.

Germany and Poland each said that Russia was expelling four of their diplomats. Among the other countries that had similarly been told to pull their envoys were the Netherlands, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Finland and Lithuania.

Thirteen Ukrainian diplomats should also leave Russia.

The moves came in retaliation for the coordinated expulsion of Russian diplomats by Britain and its allies over a nerve agent attack against former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the English city of Salisbury on March 4.

“This is certainly not a surprise,” Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said through a spokeswoman, referring to Moscow’s expulsion of two of the country’s diplomats.

Blok called upon Russia to cooperate with the ongoing investigation into the attack by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

The Russian foreign ministry also gave Britain a month to cut the number of diplomatic staff in Russia to the same number Russia has in Britain.

In Britain, the government called the latest developments “regrettable” but remained adamant that Russia was in the wrong.

“This doesn’t change the facts of the matter: the attempted assassination of two people on British soil, for which there is no alternative conclusion other than that the Russian State was culpable,” a spokeswoman for the Britain’s Foreign Office said.

 ‘Diplomatic war’

Russia also said it reserved the right to respond to the recent expulsion of Russian diplomats by Belgium, Hungary, Georgia and Montenegro.

In the Kremlin, President Vladimir Putin presided over a meeting of the country’s Security Council which discussed the most recent retaliatory steps against Britain and its allies.

The Kremlin insisted it was not Russia that had started the diplomatic war with the West.

“Russia did not unleash any diplomatic war,” Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. “Russia never initiated any exchange of sanctions.”

On Thursday, Moscow had announced that it would expel 60 US diplomats and close the US consulate in Saint Petersburg after the expulsion of its own diplomats and the closure of one of its US consulates.

In all, more than 150 Russian diplomats have been ordered out of the US, EU members, NATO countries and other nations which are accusing Russia of being involved in the Skripal poisoning.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said Moscow would respond with “tit-for-tat” measures, but they might “not only” be symmetrical.

‘Get out of here’

On the streets in Saint Petersburg, passersby said they welcomed the decision to shut down the US consulate general in the city.

“This is great news,” said Viktor Glushko, 60.

“It is about time. Relations will not get worse because they were never good and we will get by without them.”

Another man shouted: “Get out of here!” as he passed by the US consulate where staff were seen loading plastic sacks into vehicles Friday.

In Washington, the State Department said Thursday there was no justification for the Russian move and that the United States “reserves the right to respond”.

“It’s clear from the list provided to us that the Russian Federation is not interested in a dialogue on issues that matter to our two countries,” spokeswoman Heather Nauert said of the expelled diplomats.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Russia’s expulsion of US diplomats marked a “further deterioration” in relations.

Yulia ‘improving rapidly’

The hospital where Skripal and his daughter are being treated said Thursday that Yulia, 33, was “improving rapidly and is no longer in a critical condition”, while 66-year-old Sergei remained in a critical but stable condition.

Britain has said it is “highly likely” that Russia was responsible for the attack using the Novichok nerve agent developed in the Soviet Union, but Russia has angrily denied any involvement.

Russia said 58 diplomats from the US embassy in Moscow and two from the consulate in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg have to leave Russia by next Thursday.

The US consulate general in Saint Petersburg will have to be vacated by Saturday.

Moscow warned that it could take further measures in response if Washington “continued hostile actions” against the Russian embassy and consulates.

After the poisoning, Britain reacted by announcing it would expel 23 Russian diplomats, suspend high-level diplomatic contact with Moscow and not send any members of the royal family to the 2018 football World Cup hosted by Russia.

Russia then responded by closing a British consulate in Saint Petersburg and the British Council educational and cultural organisation.

AFP

Russia Gives Britain One Month To Reduce Diplomats

The Russian foreign ministry on Friday gave Britain one month to cut the number of its diplomats stationed in Russia to the same level as Russia has in Britain.

This is part of the measures imposed following the poisoning of ex-double agent Sergei Skripal.

“The ambassador was informed that as a retaliatory measure, the British side must within a month through reductions bring the total of staff at the British embassy in Moscow and at consulates in Russia into accordance with the number of Russian diplomats and administrative and technical staff who are on lengthy work trips to Britain,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.

Buhari, Others Laud Ooni’s Leadership Style

adeyeye-enitan-ogunwusiThe Ooni of Ile-Ife, His Imperial Majesty, Ooni Adeyeye Ogunwusi, Ojaja the second, on Saturday received a plethora of accolades from President Muhammadu Buhari, governors, prominent Nigerians and traditional rulers.

Ooni Ogunwusi got the accolades during the final stage of events marking his 1st year coronation anniversary held at Ile-Oodua White House Palace.

Represented by the Minister for Solid Minerals, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, President Buhari described the Ooni as a ‘wound-healer’ and a progressively-ordained personality.

“Kabiyesi Ooni has healed the wound in our country land by bringing together everybody. We know that a lot has gone into this. It is not a matter of age but the fact that you are blessed by the Almighty God to do so.

“We hope that in your many years on the throne, we will witness more advancement of the entire Yorubaland, Nigeria and everywhere we have Yorubas around the world. Many are celebrating you in Cuba , Brazil, America and all over places where you have your children around. We appreciate your contribution to our development and we will continue to adore your Majesty,” the president’s representative said.

Beyond Imagination

The Governor of Ondo State, Olusegun Mimiko, remarked that the Ooni had performed beyond imagination within his one year on the throne.

“Looking back, it is almost unbelievable that you are just one year on the throne. You have impacted on the Ile-Ife city and the whole Nigeria. You have brought uncommon energy and creativity to the throne. ‎You did not only preach peace but have also acted unity at both state and national levels. You have demonstrated how to use position as a leverage for youths empowerment.

“Everything you have done shows that you are well equipped to come to the throne to impact on lives. You have made us proud. You have fired our imagination on your one year on throne and we are ready to support you,” Governor Mimiko told the Ooni.

Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano, commended the Ooni for extending partnership to the Igbos and urged him to intensify the unity between Yorubas and Igbos.

“Since Ooni emerged, I have enjoyed great support from the Yorubas and I pray that his reign will be the longest on the throne. I commend what you did to the youth by supporting them to be entrepreneurs.

‎”I am here to consolidate and deepen the Igbo-Yoruba unity. I am happy that the Yorubas living in Anambra are very happy with us. I believe in Nigeria’s unity and we should all work hard to make it work. I want our relationship to blossom.” Governor Obiano said.

While emphasising the importance of traditional rulers in the administration of any state, Governor Obiano also recommended cutting of taxes as a way to mitigate the effect of recession on investors.

“The traditional rulers are very important in the administration of the state. They are very important in settling disputes,” he added.

Source Of Inspiration

The Chief of Defence Staff,General Abayomi Olonisakin, urged the Ooni to sensitise indigenes of Ile-ife on the importance of security.

“Enlightening them to be security conscious will enhance the sustenance of your good legacies,” he said.

On his  part, the Deji of Akure, Aladetoyinbo Aladelusi, said the Ooni had served as a source of inspiration for him and other progressive minded traditional rulers in Yoruba land, describing him as the indistinguishable father of all Yoruba people in Nigeria and globally.

“The unity of traditional rulers as emphasised by Ooni is important. We need it and we are always inspired by his style of leadership. He has indeed lived up to the expectations as our spiritual leader, nobody can take this away from you no matter what they do,” Deji of Akure stressed.

The Etsu of Nupe, Yahaya Abubakar, in his own speech expressed delight over the “progressive moves” Ooni Ogunwusi had made.

“Your Imperial Majesty, we in the North are so proud of your leadership and bridge-building moves in the last one year. It’s been so progressive,” he observed.

Osile of Okeona, Egbaland, Oba Adedapo Tejuoso, asked the Ooni not to relent on his progressive agenda, saying, “his one year is just like a thousand. “Kabiyesi, please, don’t relent on this progressive agenda that you have been enviably executing in the last one year which is just like a thousand years. The rate of advancement and progress recorded since you ascended this sacred throne of Oduduwa is marvellous”.

Also, the Obi of Onitsha, Nnaemeka Achebe, appealed to all traditional rulers in Nigeria to cooperate with the Ooni in ensuring unity.

“Your Majesty, I bring you goodwill from across the Niger from all Igbos. We have seen how you bring real change and solve challenges that seem impossible in a year. Your feet shows that when God puts the crown on you, no human being can take it away. Collectively, with a person like you, we will achieve the real change that we have been looking for,” Obi of Onitsha emphasised.

Reacting to the commendations, the Ooni commended the dignitaries that attended the coronation and urged traditional rulers and all well-meaning Nigerians to take the development of Nigeria as their core responsibility.

He said: “We should collaborate with government and stop the blame-game. We are closer to our people. Let’s work towards youth emancipation. It is very important to know our roles as traditional rulers and focus more on how to appreciate things that come out from this country.

“We should be able to help others with the money that God has provided for us. Let us help one another in our little ways. We should give the less-privileged hope. We should all come together, love ourselves and impact on the lives of others”.

The Ooni is known for his promotion of made-in-Nigeria goods patronage and empowerment of Nigerian youths.

One of the great feats he has achieved within his one year in office is a one-billion-Naira loan from the Bank of Industry for small business owners in Osun to empower young persons that are unemployed.

Among other dignitaries that attended the coronation is Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun; Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Saliu Adetunji, Osemawe of Ondo, Oba Dr. Kiladejo, Afenifere leader, Mr Ayo Adebanjo, Mr Yinka Odumakin, Diplomats, OAU’s Acting Vice Chancellor, Professor Anthony Elujoba, Polo Boss, Chief Obayuwana, Iyalaje of Apapa, Mr and Mrs Toyin Kolade, religious leaders and visually-impaired children.

The epoch making event also witnessed the presentation of cheques of millions of Naira to the representatives of the hundreds of youths who are the beneficiaries of Ooni Ogunwusi’s Agric-empowerment programme in partnership with Bank of Industry (BOI) represented by its Managing Director, Mr Waheed Olagunju, and Bank of Agriculture (BOA) represented by its Deputy MD, Mr Adebayo Jemileyin.

Kidnapping: IGP Deploys Special Forces To Abuja-Kaduna Highway

kidnapping, igp, special forcesThe acting Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, has deployed Special Forces to help curb activities of kidnappers, armed robbers, cattle rustlers and other criminal elements along the highway and surrounding states.

This is in response to the rampant cases of kidnapping along the Kaduna-Abuja highway.

Inaugurating the special strike force on Friday, the IG who was represented by the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) in charge of operations, Joshak Habila, said that the operatives would be dispatched to various locations in Kaduna, Niger and the Federal Capital Territory to protect lives and property of road users and residents of the areas.

The IGP assured citizens living around the area that the arrival of the special strike force, together with operatives of the Kaduna State Police Command would bring activities of kidnappers and other criminal elements to an end.

He appealed to members of the public to cooperate with men of the strike force and the command by providing useful information that would enable them track down the criminals that have been terrorising the state.

Meanwhile, the Assistant Inspector General of Police in charge of Zone 7, Alkali Usman, also joined the DIG in warning the officers and men of the squad not to exhibit acts capable of truncating the operation.

He also assured them that their welfare would be adequately taking care of.

Kaduna has recently gained notoriety as a hotbed for the kidnapping, with past victims including diplomats, judges, government officials and political figures.

For a smooth operation, operational patrol vans with communication gadgets have been procured for the troops.

As they move into their various units to commence operation, it is hoped that they will bring the activities of armed bandits to an end.

Diplomats Seek To End Bloodshed Between Israel And Palestines

Palestinian medic inspects a damaged room at Al-Aqsa hospital, which witnesses said was damaged in Israeli shelling on Monday, in Deir El-Balah in the central Gaza Strip Israeli forces pounded multiple sites across the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, including the enclave’s sole power plant, and said it was meeting stiff resistance from Hamas Islamists, as diplomats sought to end the bloodshed.

In a blow to Israel’s economy, U.S. and European air carriers halted flights in and out of Tel Aviv citing security worries after a militant rocket from Gaza hit a house near the airport. Israel urged a re-think, saying its airspace was safe.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was in Egypt and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in Israel, spearheading international efforts to secure a ceasefire. Hamas ally Qatar was also working in the background to seek a solution.

Israel launched its offensive on July 8 to halt missile salvoes by Hamas Islamists, which was angered by a crackdown on its supporters in the nearby occupied West Bank and suffering economic hardship because of an Israeli-Egyptian blockade.

After failing to halt the militant barrage through days of aerial bombardment, Israel sent ground troops into Gaza last Thursday, looking to knock out Hamas’s missile stores and destroy a vast, underground network of tunnels.

Some 630 Palestinians, many of them children and civilians have died in the conflagration, including a seven-year-old hit by a shell in southern Gaza early on Wednesday, a medic said.

Some 29 Israeli soldiers have been killed, including a tank officer who was shot by a Palestinian sniper overnight. Two civilians have been slain by rocket fire. The military says one of its soldiers is also missing and believes he might be dead. Hamas says it has seized him, but has not released his picture.

Clouds of black smoke hung over the densely populated Mediterranean enclave, with the regular thud of artillery and tank shells filling the air.

“We are meeting resistance around the tunnels … they are constantly trying to attack us around and in the tunnels. That is the trend,” said Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner.

He said 30 militant gunmen had been killed overnight, bringing the total to 210 since the offensive started.

Hamas’s armed wing, the Izz el-Deen Al-Qassam, said its fighters had detonated an anti-personnel bomb as an Israeli army patrol passed, killing several troops. There was no immediate confirmation from Israel.

There was also violence in the occupied West Bank, where a Palestinian was shot dead by Israeli troops near Bethlehem. The army said soldiers fired a rubber bullet at him during clashes with Palestinians hurling rocks and Molotov cocktails.