Pope Calls For Peace In Global Flashpoints

Pope Francis waves from the balcony of St Peter’s basilica during the traditional “Urbi et Orbi” Christmas message to the city and the world, on December 25, 2019 at St Peter’s square in the Vatican. Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP



Christmas was celebrated all around the world on Wednesday, with Pope Francis appealing for peace in many of the world’s hotspots while festivities were muted for Filipinos battered by a typhoon, as well as in strike-bound France.

“May Christ bring his light to the many children suffering from war and conflicts in the Middle East and in various countries of the world,” Francis said in his traditional Christmas message at the Vatican, singling out the crises in Venezuela and Lebanon, as well as armed conflicts ravaging many African countries.

For her part, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II used her Christmas Day message to pay tribute to young environmental campaigners who were inspired to global action by Swedish teen Greta Thunberg.

She also described 2019 as “quite bumpy” after a year of crises in the royal family. The queen attended the annual Christmas Day service in Sandringham without her ailing husband Prince Philip, 98, who was released from hospital after a four-night stay for an unspecified illness.

But she was accompanied by Prince Andrew, her scandal-plagued second son, whose disastrous attempts to distance himself from American convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein’s victims have backfired. The prince gave up his public duties last month.

Earlier Wednesday, Pope Francis and the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby sent wishes of “peace and prosperity” to South Sudan as negotiations faltered between the African country’s government and rebels.

The spiritual leaders of more than 1.3 billion Christians said they were praying “for a renewed commitment to the path of reconciliation and fraternity” in the world’s newest nation.

Typhoon Phanfone meanwhile brought a wet, miserable and terrifying holiday season to the central Philippines, stranding tens of thousands of people.

In France, Christmas was also a gloomy affair as a crippling transport strike against pension reform was set to enter its fourth week, ruining the plans of many to gather with family and friends.

Things were more upbeat in Spain, where nearly 300 people, some in Santa Claus, Darth Vader or clown costumes, dived into the frigid waters of Barcelona’s port for a traditional Christmas swim.

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump and his wife Melania sent their “warmest greetings” to Christmas revellers around the world.

“While the challenges that face our country are great, the bonds that unite us as Americans are much stronger,” the message read. “Together, we must strive to foster a culture of deeper understanding and respect.”

Also in the United States, a bank robber brought some offbeat Christmas joy to stunned passers-by in Colorado, police confirmed Wednesday.

The white-bearded man robbed the bank in Colorado Springs on Monday, then threw the stolen cash in the air for people to grab, US media reported.

“He started throwing money out of the bag and then said, ‘Merry Christmas!’,” witness Dion Pascale told local media. The suspect was later arrested.

In the biblical town of Bethlehem on Tuesday, a few hundred worshippers gathered in the church on the site of Jesus’s birth for midnight mass, attended by Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

This year, celebrations were bolstered by the return of a wooden relic believed to be from Jesus’s manger.

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.

– Hong Kong flashmobs –

Hong Kong’s Christmas celebrations were marred by sporadic clashes between police and pro-democracy activists as the city’s pro-Beijing leader said the festive season was being “ruined” by demonstrators.

Police used pepper spray and tear gas as activists held small flashmob protests in malls and multiple districts across the city.

Tuesday night, Paris’s Notre Dame Cathedral, ravaged by fire in April, was unable to hold its traditional Christmas Eve mass for the first time in more than 200 years, with the faithful gathering at other nearby churches instead.

After another midnight mass in France, 21 worshippers were hospitalised with carbon monoxide poisoning possibly caused by a faulty gas heater.

Emergency personnel were sent to the church in the Oise department in the north of the country after several people complained of headaches during the service.

Resolution Of Conflict Key To Development In Africa – Buhari



President Muhammadu Buhari has declared that the resolution of conflict situations in African countries remains a key component in the overall development of the continent.

Speaking Wednesday during the opening session of the ongoing Aswan Forum for Sustainable Peace and Development in Africa, taking place in the Egyptian town, the President said: “As Africans, it is important to focus on the issues of conflict prevention and resolution. Conflicts have devastating effects on our societies and they militate against our progress. In this regard, the need to silence the guns cannot be overemphasized.”

President Buhari equally emphasized that massive investment in transportation infrastructure was necessary for African economic resurgence as this would facilitate the African Free Trade Area Agreement recently signed on by the continental leaders.

READ ALSO: Aisha Accuses Garba Shehu Of Shifting His Loyalty From Buhari

“Africa should embark on the provision of transport connectivity by enhancing the development of roads, rail, and air links which will ease the free movement of persons, goods and services within the continent. In this regard, we in Nigeria have already commenced an aggressive drive to upgrade our rail transport system and road networks across the country.

“We should furthermore promote free trade within and amongst Africa and Africans especially now that we have launched the African Free Trade Area Agreement,” he said.

In order to realize its Pan-African vision of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena, President Buhari declared: “We in Nigeria have already taken the strategic decision to bring down barriers that have hindered the free movement of our people within the continent by introducing the issuance of visa at the point of entry into Nigeria to all persons holding passports of African countries with effect from January 2020.”

The Nigerian leader also stated that Africa must take its destiny in its own hands by minimizing reliance on donor funding for the execution of its vital peace, security and development agenda. According to him, “Nigeria is not the only host to our sub-regional body ECOWAS but has also been supporting substantially the ECOWAS budget up to about 60 percent.

“Nigeria has been funding by almost a 100 percent the operations of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) fighting Boko Haram Terrorists in the Lake Chad Basin.”

President Buhari also harped on the fight against corruption and inclusive growth: “The menace of corruption undermines our efforts to achieve sustainable development and realize the goals of the AU Agenda 2063. It is also important to attach great priority to the promotion of good and inclusive governance as we equally strive to empower our women and youth.”

The President once again used the opportunity to draw global attention to the recession of the Lake Chad and its attendant economic consequences for the region.

“The issue of climate change should be given the due attention that it deserves. The effects of Climate Change are at the root of some of the conflicts in parts of the continent. This is why we must focus on the issue of the recharging of the Lake Chad which used to provide a livelihood to over forty million people in the region. It is difficult to expect durable stability in the region without restoration of the shrinking lake.

He urged African leaders to see education as a key tool for the transformation and repositioning of our continent, saying, “Africa would need to heavily invest in education and capacity building. Education creates opportunities and holds the key for a better and prosperous future of our people.”

The President added that his administration was, “ pursuing the diversification of our economy through the development of agriculture and mineral resources, the promotion of manufacturing sector and the creation of job opportunities for our teeming youths. By so doing, we will also discourage the irregular migration of our youth out of the Continent through dangerous journeys.”

Abdulsalami Challenges Nigerians To Promote Peace Globally


Former Military Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd), has called on Nigerians to play their roles in ensuring peace in the country and across the world.

He made the call on Saturday while addressing an audience at the second edition of the Second General Abdulsalami Abubakar Foundation Annual Peace Lecture organised to commemorate the International Day of Peace in Minna, the state capital.

Abdulsalami said, “A lot has been said about our role in making peace. It is my prayer that peace reigns not only in Niger State, not only in Nigeria, not only in Africa; but indeed, the world over.

“Each and every one of us here, as it has been said, has a role to play and I hope we will play that role.”

The former Head of State informed the gathering that his greatest dream and hope was to have a peaceful and united Nigeria.

He, therefore, called on the people of the country irrespective of their political and ethnic background to be tolerant of one another and urged the youths to shun violence.


Bad Politicians?

Speaking as the guest lecturer at the event, the state governor, Mr Abubakar Bello, highlighted the importance of dialogue in tackling the security challenges in the country.

Former Military Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd), speaks at the Second General Abdulsalami Abubakar Foundation Annual Peace Lecture in Minna, Niger State on September 21, 2019.


According to him, military intervention in the nation’s security challenges is not necessary except dialogue fails.

The governor identified population explosion and lack of clear cut grazing routes as catalysts for most of the security challenges in the country, as reflected in the clashes between farmers and herders.

He commended the Abdulsalami Institute for Peace for its efforts in promoting peace in the country and called on other eminent Nigerians to contribute their quota towards Nigeria’s development.

Governor Bello also advocated the engagement of traditional rulers, especially village and district heads in peace-building and conflict resolution process, noting that they are closer to the people.

He decried that situation where many eminent personalities, including those in active public service, have become complacent and doing nothing to proffer solution to the challenges in the country.

The governor described some politicians as bad people who promote violence and unhealthy rivalry and asked them to desist from acts capable of disrupting the peace and progress of the country.

He alluded to the Rwandan genocide and the Civil War in Nigeria as clear examples of what could happen to a nation when eminent citizens channel their efforts in the wrong direction.

Governor Bello, therefore, urged Nigerians to see good in themselves and the nation, stressing that no investor would come to a country where the citizens do not see anything good about themselves.

North Korea’s Latest Missile Test Undermines International Peace Efforts – EU

(FILES) This early August 6, 2019 picture released from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on August 7, 2019, shows the launch of an alleged new-type of tactical guided missiles from an undisclosed western part location of the country. KCNA VIA KNS / AFP


The European Union on Saturday condemned North Korea for the latest in a series of missile launches, saying the tests undermined international efforts to achieve peace on the peninsula.

Defence officials in Seoul said what appeared to be two short-range ballistic missiles were fired at daybreak from near the northeastern city of Hamhung, flying 400 kilometres (250 miles) before splashing down in the sea.

It was the fifth round of launches in two weeks, with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un labelling them a “solemn warning” over the joint US-South Korean military drills.

READ ALSO: US Financier Epstein Commits Suicide In Prison

“With the launching of two short range ballistic missiles today, a fifth such test in recent weeks, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) continues to undermine international work for building trust and establishing lasting peace and security on the Korean Peninsula, free of nuclear weapons,” a spokesperson for the EU said in a statement.

“We expect the DPRK to refrain from any further provocations, abide by its stated commitments, and fully implement its international obligations as determined by multiple United Nations Security Council Resolutions.”

The statement urged Pyongyang to take “concrete and credible” steps towards abandoning its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and called for more talks.


20 Dead As Violence Mars Afghan Election Season Start



Deadly violence marred the start of Afghanistan’s election season on the weekend, after President Ashraf Ghani insisted “peace is coming” to the war-torn nation.

At least 20 people were killed and 50 others wounded on Sunday in an attack targeting the Kabul office of Ghani’s running mate, Amrullah Saleh.

The violence came on the first day of campaigning for the upcoming presidential elections, serving as a grim reminder of Afghanistan’s woeful security situation and the sort of mayhem and murder that have beset previous polls.

The attack began around 4:40 pm (1210 GMT), when a huge blast struck near the office of Green Trend, a youth and reform-focused civil society organisation Saleh heads. He escaped without serious injury, his office said.

The interior ministry said the assault began when a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-packed car at the entrance to the building, then three attackers ran inside.

After about six hours the siege ended with all attackers killed and the rescue of about 150 people who had been trapped in the building, according to the interior ministry, which also provided the toll of 20 dead and 50 wounded.

No group immediately claimed responsibility.

Earlier on Sunday, a buoyant Ghani kicked off his campaign by insisting “peace is coming,” after nearly 18 years of conflict, and that pivotal talks with the Islamist extremist Taliban would take place.

He is hoping to fend off challenges from 17 other candidates to score a second term at twice-postponed presidential elections now slated for September 28.

On Saturday Ghani’s peace minister, Abdul Salam Rahimi, said direct talks would take place with the Taliban within two weeks as part of a larger, US-led push for peace.

Such a development could be crucial, as the Taliban — who now control or influence about half of Afghanistan — have so far refused to speak to Ghani’s government. They consider the Kabul administration illegitimate.

– Despondent voters –
War aside, the country faces a host of major issues ahead of the election, including rocketing crime, a lacklustre economy, soaring unemployment, and crumbling infrastructure.

Voters are despondent about the prospects of a fair election. Many worry about a repeat of violent attacks on previous polling stations by the Taliban and other insurgent groups trying to undermine Afghanistan’s fragile democracy.

Ghani insisted this year’s vote would be “clean”, but distrust is rife.

Sayed Jan, a 27-year-old student, said he won’t be voting as he has lost faith since the 2014 election that was mired in allegations of fraud and ballot stuffing.

“We have been betrayed by the candidates in the past. We cannot trust them this time,” he told AFP.

“We need peace in Afghanistan instead of elections. Even if I vote, the election will be fraudulent.”

‘Opportunities for peace’

In Kabul, security forces fanned out across the city as leading candidates held rallies.

Ghani’s top rival is Abdullah Abdullah, who currently serves as the president’s chief executive under an awkward power-sharing arrangement brokered by the US after the 2014 election.

“It is our national and religious duty to take advantage of any opportunities for peace,” Abdullah told a campaign rally.

One crucial issue is that the elections happen at all: they were postponed twice this year and further delays could lead to more distrust.

Despite Ghani’s claim that a summit between his government and the Taliban would take place shortly, the insurgents said they would only talk to Kabul after the US had announced a timeline for a withdrawal of foreign forces — a major part of any deal.

“The Kabul administration will be considered a political side, just like others, and not a government,” Taliban political spokesman Suhail Shaheen wrote in Pashto on Twitter.

Diplomatic sources have told AFP the Afghan-Taliban talks are scheduled to begin in Oslo on August 7.

US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said Saturday that new “intra-Afghan” negotiations would only take place after the US and Taliban had concluded their own agreements.

Washington is hoping for a political agreement with the insurgents ahead of the September presidential election.

Other presidential candidates include Ghani’s former national security advisor Hanif Atmar and former warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, nicknamed the “Butcher of Kabul” for his alleged role in the killing of thousands of people in the capital in the 1990s.


Peace Has Come To Nigerian Football – Sports Minister


The Minister of Youths and Sports Development, Barrister Solomon Dalung, has dismissed speculations that his ministry and the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) are having conflicts.

While stating that there was no such thing, Dalung, however, criticised the NFF for allegedly spending resources on frivolities rather than the welfare of the players.

He insisted that the nation’s football governing body must obey existing rules in the conduct of its operations.

“I think peace has finally come to the Nigerian football with this policy that we are looking at players only. NFF must respect rules” he said Tuesday, on Channels Television’s Sports Tonight.

READ ALSO: Giwa Takes Control Of NFF As Dalung Asks Pinnick To Obey Court Order


Minister of Youths and Sports Development, Barrister Solomon Dalung.

According to him, the decision of the Federal Government to concentrate on players during tournaments would enable the nation’s football body to be innovative.

On the recent crisis that rocked NFF, the Minister explained that the problem would have escalated if he had not handled it properly.

“If I were not a simple and kind person, there would have been more trouble than you are seeing. As a Minister, NFF invited me to attend their Annual General Meeting in Lagos, and when I got to Lagos, they did not provide accommodation for me. And they provided accommodation for even friends that they brought to watch,” he said.

When asked why he was absent at the NFF elections which held in Katsina State in September last year, the Minister blamed his absence on an existing judgment of the Supreme Court.

Being a lawyer himself, he vowed not to disobey the court judgment.

SGF Asks Nigerians To Support FG In Ensuring Peace

Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha


The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, is asking Nigerians to support the Federal Government in ensuring peace in the nation.

Mustapha made this call on Saturday during a breakfast meeting with businessmen in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

“The citizens have a major role to play in securing peace in this nation. Government alone cannot shoulder the responsibility,” he said.

The SGF alleged that some politicians desperate to win elections were arming groups ahead of the 2019 general elections.

Despite that, the SGF explained that the current administration has done well to improve the electoral process.

“Things are changing with the improvement in the electoral processes. But in the past, early in the morning, somebody will just come out with one rifle and shoot a gun in the air (so) everybody takes cover and then he packs all the electoral materials. There are constituencies where you never voted. It is a collective responsibility,” he added.

Jerusalem: U.S. Is Committed To Reaching Lasting Peace – Trump

Trump Says High Oil Prices 'Will Not Be Accepted'
US President Donald Trump addresses the nation                                              Mandel NGAN / AFP


The United States President, Donald Trump has reiterated his administration’s commitment to ensuring a lasting peace.

Trump gave the assurance on Monday during a video addressing to officially declare open his country’s new embassy in Jerusalem.

Details later…

Pope Offers Peace Token In Meeting With Erdogan

This handout photo taken on February 5, 2018 and released by the Vatican press office, Osservatore Romano shows Pope Francis (R) receiving the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan for a private audience at the Vatican.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met Pope Francis on Monday while police enforced a protest ban in central Rome as feelings run high over Turkey’s offensive against Kurdish militia inside Syria.

During the 50-minute audience, Pope Francis gave Erdogan a medallion embossed with an angel strangling a “demon of war” — a symbol of peace and justice.

For the first visit by a Turkish leader for 59 years, the Italian authorities have imposed a 24-hour ban on demonstrations which covers Erdogan’s arrival from late Sunday to his departure on Monday evening.

Erdogan’s convoy arrived at a deserted Saint Peter’s Square, which was under heavy security as a total of 3,500 police have been deployed for the visit.

Nevertheless a small sit-in protest by some 30 people, organised by a Kurdish association in Italy, took place on Monday not far from the Vatican.

Turkey on January 20 launched its “Olive Branch” operation against Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia which Ankara sees as a terror group and a threat to Turkish territory.

The Turkish army and allied Ankara-backed Syrian rebel forces are seeking to oust the YPG from its western border stronghold of Afrin but the operation has faced fierce resistance.

“In Afrin, a new crime against humanity is under way,” the Kurdish association said.

 ‘Angel of peace’ 

The fighters and civilians killed in the Turkish assault on the region included female combatant Barin Kobani whose mutilated body appeared in a shocking video, prompting accusations by her family and Kurdish officials that she was “defiled” by Turkish-backed rebels.

The YPG, while considered a “terrorist” group by Ankara, is allied to the United States in its battle against Islamic State group jihadists.

The pope, who has railed against the horrors of war and weapons of mass destruction, gave Erdogan the gift of a medallion with “an angel of peace strangling the demon of war”.

“It’s a symbol of a world based on peace and justice,” the pontiff said, according to two journalists present during the meeting.

Erdogan for his part was expected to thank the pope for opposing the decision by US President Donald Trump to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

“We are both in favour of the status quo and we have the will to protect it,” Erdogan said in an interview published Sunday.

Armenian ‘genocide’ spat 

Erdogan’s flying visit to Italy was also set to include a meeting with his Italian counterpart Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, with illegal immigration, defence and EU membership likely on the agenda.

Pope Francis, a strong proponent of inter-faith dialogue, visited Turkey in November 2014, holding talks with Erdogan, a devout Muslim.

While in Istanbul the pope acknowledged that current global crises had made Muslims vulnerable to being stigmatised.

Francis denounced those who said “all Muslims are terrorists”.

Relations were not so cordial in June 2016 when the pope, during a visit to Armenia, referred to the 1915-17 mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman forces as “genocide”.

The Vatican was then forced to refute claims from Turkey that Pope Francis had showed a “mentality of the Crusades” over his use of the term.

Turkey — the Ottoman Empire’s successor state — argues that it was a collective tragedy in which both Turks and Armenians died.

On Sunday, Erdogan also insisted in a newspaper interview that Turkey wants “full membership of Europe” and did not rule out joint Italian-Turkish action in Libya.


Adamawa Govt Commends Military For Restoring Peace

Jibrilla Returns To Yola After Court Judgement
Adamawa Governor, Bindo Jibrilla

The Adamawa State Government has praised the military’s efforts in restoring peace, less than 24 hours after suspected Boko Haram opened a renewed attack in the state yesterday.

It was reported that Gulak, a town in Madagali Local Government Area reignited fresh fears among the people owing to the insurgency to that engaged the troops and militants.

The Commissioner of Information, Mr Ahmad Sajoh, made this known during a telephone interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily.

“Nigerian military and other voluntary organisations that supported them have done a very good job as the insurgents have been repelled,” he said on Tuesday.

The state’s mouthpiece however said the sect members were feeling the heat of the military onslaught against them, hence the occurrence of the unfortunate incident.

He added, “We are suspecting that they are Boko Haram commanders that have been cut off completely from the main stream that have been degraded by the military.

“So we see the attack more as a criminal activity trying to get resources, trying to get food, trying to steal animals and instill fear by the people, but they have been overpowered by the military.”

On the casualty recorded, Mr Sajoh admitted the state government had yet to receive any official number.

He added, “We are yet to get any report of casualties from the military but the Governor (Mr Bindo Jibrilla) is sending high powered delegation very early this morning to go and access the situation and see those that require assistance, so we can support them.

“As I am talking to you, last night we did not sleep. We were up at the Command Center set up by His Excellency.”

Channels Television had on Monday reported that the military and the insurgents were engaged in a fierce battle with residents fleeing for their lives.
Sources say that many scared residents were forced to flee the town and take comfort in the bushes, mountains, and hills.

The Chairman of Madagali local government area, Alhaji Mohammed Yusuf, had while confirming the attack to our correspondent in Yola, described it as very heavy and likely to result in the loss of lives.

According to Yusuf, the incidence comes a day after two male suicide bombers entered the home of a family in Tsilah village near Madagali and held a woman and her daughter hostage.

Thereafter, they detonated the explosives strapped to their bodies killing both of them, the woman and her baby in the process.

Ondo NUJ Suspends Members Over Alleged Breach Of Peace

The Ondo state chapter of the Nigerian Union of Journalists has suspended three of its members indefinitely.

The suspended members: David Akinadewo of Owena Press Chapel, Sina Adeyeye of State Information Chapel and Sunday Tonibor of the Ondo State Radiovision Corporation chapel were alleged to have breached the peace of the council.

A letter signed by the NUJ’s chairman, Mr. James Sowole said the affected members were involved in an action capable of causing breach of peace.

The letter read in part, “For participating in an action capable of causing breach of peace and disaffection in the union, three members of the union are hereby suspended indefinitely and with immediate effect.

“The suspended members today committed infractions to the Union’s constitution by illegally constituted themselves as Chairman, Secretary and member of the Council Interim Management Committee.

“The illegal action of the people has been reported to security agents for appropriate action. The Union hereby enjoins our members to remain calm and not to sign illegal documents being taken round to back their illegal action.”

2019 Elections: NOA Sensitises Youths On Peaceful Conduct


Ahead of the political party activities to general elections in the country, the National Orientation Agency has urged youths in the country to embrace peace.

The Director-General of the National orientation agency, Mr. Garba Abari made this known on Thursday in Owerri, the Imo state capital during a one-day youth workshop.

Speaking on the theme, “Building a people of peace, inspiring patriotism and dignity of Labour among Nigerians,” he advised youths to and shun all actions and activities that could cause chaos in the country.

According to the Imo state Director of NOA, Mr. Vitus Ekeocha, the workshop is aimed at providing a platform for discussion with Youths in the state of the importance to collaborate with the government to achieve peace and political stability.