PHOTOS: Stay Out Of Nigeria’s Domestic Affairs, Pro-Buhari Protesters Tell International Community

 

A group in support of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration on Wednesday staged a protest at the United States embassy in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

Members of the group who displayed several placards with inscriptions warned the US government to stay out of Nigeria’s domestic affairs.

They also professed their support for President Buhari, while criticizing opposition politicians.

READ ALSO: Security: Take The Battle To These Criminals, Gbajabiamila Tells Service Chiefs

The group asked the US Ambassador to Nigeria to disregard politicians who criticize the government over the country’s security situation as well as the judicial system.

See Photos Below:

Air Force Takes Over MMIA After Union Clash With Airport Security

File photo of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport

 

Men of the Nigerian Air Force have taken over the access gate of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos following a clash between aviation union officials and the security outfit of the concessionaire.

Union officials had taken over the access gate on Monday, claiming that the concessionaire’s contract had expired a year ago.

The unions believe that more revenue should accrue to the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) than the N68 million the company delivers.

On the other hand, the concessionaire, I-cube admits that the contract had expired in February 2018, but it had been delivering the sum to FAAN since then and awaiting another fresh bid opening from the authority.

PHOTOS: Trucks Conveying Protesting PDP Members Collide In Abuja

Two trucks conveying protesting PDP members collide in Abuja on January 20, 2020. Photo: Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

 

It was a sad experience for some members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) after they were involved in an accident on Monday.

Thousands of PDP faithful had occupied the streets of Abuja and some major cities in the country in what they described as the ‘mother of all protests’.

The protest was against the judgement of the Supreme Court delivered on Tuesday last week in which the court sacked the PDP governorship candidate in Imo State and declared Senator Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of the March 9 poll.

While the protest went smoothly in some cities, it was a sad event for some PDP faithful in the nation’s capital as two trucks conveying protesters collided.

One of the trucks was stationed at the junction of a major road while the other, which was approaching, lost control in apparent stunt and collided with the first vehicle.

A number of protesters are feared to have sustained various degrees of injury while it has yet to be ascertained if anybody died in the incident.

See more photos and video of the accident below:

Two trucks conveying protesting PDP members collide in Abuja on January 20, 2020. Photos: Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

Political Recap: Elections, Impeachments, Protests, Others Dominate 2019

 

The 2019 political year in Nigeria is one that could be simply described as ‘eventful,’ featuring various critical and interesting events in the country.

Highpoints of such events range from elections to court cases, and crisis within political parties, among others.

 

General Elections

In line with the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), political parties, civil society groups, the electorate, and other critical political stakeholders stepped up preparations ahead of what some political actors termed the ‘most important event of the year – the general elections’.

Although the 2019 general elections may have come and gone, the dust they left behind has yet to settle as a result of the mixed reactions that followed. Since the beginning of the year until February 15, Nigerians had prepared and shown their readiness to elect a new set of leaders at various levels until the electoral umpire shifted the date of the elections by one week.

 

This followed a crucial meeting of INEC chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, and the 12 national commissioners of INEC which began on the eve of the initial Election Day and lasted until the early hours of the next day.

Barely five hours to the start of the polls, Professor Yakubu announced at a short press briefing that the Presidential and National Assembly elections had been postponed until February 23, while the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly polls would take place on March 9.

The INEC boss explained that before arriving at the decision, the meeting concluded that going ahead as scheduled was no longer feasible after carefully reviewing the implementation of the logistics and operational plan, as well as the determination to conduct free, fair, and credible elections.

The decision sparked criticism in some quarters while some individuals and groups called for understanding and support for INEC to ensure the process went peacefully. Seven days later, the Presidential and National Assembly elections took place as scheduled.

The presidential election was keenly contested by President Muhammadu Buhari and his major rival and former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, as well as some younger candidates such as Omoyele Sowore, Fela Durotoye, Felix Nicholas, Kingsley Moghalu, and Obadiah Mailafia among several other.

Muhammadu Buhari                                                                                                             Atiku Abubakar

 

Although a total of 73 political parties – including the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – fielded candidates for the election, some later endorsed Buhari of the APC while others formed an alliance with Atiku to kick the incumbent president out of office.


 

Nigeria Decides

This made the election a major battle between Buhari – the man seeking another four years – and Atiku – the man on a mission to realise his dream of becoming president in about three decades. Four days after the poll was conducted, President Buhari was returned elected for a second term in office.

Announcing the results on February 27, Professor Yakubu said the President polled a total of 15,191,847 to defeat his PDP rival who scored 11,262,978. President Buhari won the election with a wide margin of close to four million votes ahead of Atiku, claiming a total of 19 states while the former vice president won in 17 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

Following the declaration, the President and members of the ruling party celebrated their victory while the PDP accused the APC of rigging the election and vowed to challenge the outcome in court.

 

Meanwhile, Nigerians also elected their representatives at the upper and lower chambers of the National Assembly – Senate and House of Representatives. In the build-up to the poll, the APC suffered a big loss as scores of lawmakers in both chambers defected to the PDP – including the then Senate President Bukola Saraki and former Speaker Yakubu Dogara.

However, a majority of the senators who defected to the PDP lost their seats, including Senator Saraki. This led to the emergence of Senator Ahmed Lawan and Mr Femi Gbajabiamila – both of the APC – as the Senate President and Speaker of the 9th National Assembly.

Having completed their two terms as provided by the law, some former governors won their elections to the Senate. These included Kashim Shettima (Borno), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Ibrahim Gaidam (Yobe), and Tanko Al-Makura (Nasarawa).

Former governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State also joined his colleagues in the Senate following a series of court battles after an electoral official said he declared him winner of the election in Imo West senatorial district. On his part, former Oyo State governor, Abiola Ajimobi, lost his bid to become a senator to Senator Kola Balogun of the PDP.


Power Exchange

Two weeks after Nigerians cast their ballots, the electorate returned to their various polling units to elect leaders at the state level – the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly polls.

Unlike the February 23 polls held across the country, the March 9 elections took place only in 29 states, excluding Edo, Osun, Ekiti, Ondo, Bayelsa, Kogi, and Anambra States.

The election recorded wins and losses in various states as the APC unseated PDP in some states while the PDP took over power from the APC elsewhere. As of March 23, INEC had concluded and announced the winners of the governorship elections in 22 states, while the exercise was suspended in Rivers and declared inconclusive for various reasons in six other states. The affected states included Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Plateau, Kano, and Sokoto.

Some electorate wait on the queue to cast their vote in Dass LGA of Bauchi State on March 9, 2019.

 

At the end of the whole process, results and winners were announced for all 29 states where the election took place. A breakdown of the results revealed the APC won in 14 states while the PDP claimed 15 states.

The APC retained power in 12 states but lost five states to the opposition party, including Benue and Sokoto where the governors defected before the elections. On the other hand, the PDP retained power in 10 states but lost Gombe State, as well as Kwara where the third governor defected from the ruling party.

The APC could have won in one more state – Zamfara, but the party ceded all the posts it won in the state to the PDP on the directive of the Supreme Court which held that it did not conduct primaries and therefore, could not have won any election.

Similarly, the party was affected by an internal crisis in Rivers, leading to an order of the apex court which barred the APC from participating in any election in the state.


 

Triumph vs Defeat

While some Governors won their elections into the Senate as members of the 9th National Assembly, former governor of Oyo State, Abiola Ajimobi, was defeated by Senator Kola Balogun of the PDP.

Former governors elected into the Red Chamber comprise new and returning senators. They are Senator Rochas Okorocha (Imo), Senator Tanko Al-Makura, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, Senator Kashim Shettima, and Senator Ibrahim Gaidam, among others.

The conclusion of the general elections paved the way for the kick-off of the 9th National Assembly with the APC reclaiming its leadership from the PDP following the defection of former Senate President Bukola Saraki and erstwhile Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara to the opposition party.

Defection: Saraki, Dogara, 52 Others To Know Fate On May 17
Bukola Saraki                                                                                                                     Yakubu Dogara

 

Saraki and Dogara dumped the APC along with dozens of lawmakers numbering over 45 in the build-up to the general elections, but it wasn’t enough to deny President Buhari a second term in office, as well as the ruling party from retaining the majority in both chambers of the National Assembly.

Rather, Senator Saraki and most of his colleagues in the Senate – except Senator Dino Melaye – and some members of the lower chamber lost their re-election bid in the February 23 poll, although Mr Dogara was returned by members of his constituencies. As a result, Senator Ahmed Lawan and Mr Femi Gbajabiamila were elected as the Senate President and Speaker of the 9th National Assembly respectively.


 

From The Ballot To Court

As it is widely accepted that only the electorate can decide the fate of aspiring leaders through the power of the ballot, that wasn’t the case for some politicians who participated in the election. The people in this category are the aggrieved candidates who proceeded to the Election Petitions Tribunal in various courts to reclaim their mandates purported to have been stolen by the winners in the elections.

Prominent among them are former Vice President Atiku and the PDP, as well as Mr Ambrose Owuru and Hope Democratic Party (HDP) who approached the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal to challenge the re-election of President Buhari in the February 23 poll.

A file photo of proceedings at the Presidential Election Tribunal commences sitting
PHOTOS: Channels TV/Sodiq Adelakun

 

Atiku and the PDP prayed the court to disqualify President Buhari on the grounds that he didn’t possess the requisite academic qualification to contest for the office of the President. They also alleged irregularities, over-voting, use of force, and non-compliance with electoral laws among other claims during the elections.

After months of arguments between the petitioners and defendants, as well as the presentation of witnesses and evidence before the court, the Tribunal dismissed Atiku’s petition on September 11. In a unanimous judgement which lasted almost nine hours, Justice Mohammed Garba who delivered the lead judgement ruled that Buhari was duly elected as President.

He added that the petitioners failed to prove the allegations against the defendants. Other members of the Tribunal agreed with the judgement. They are Justice Peter Olabisi-Ige, Justice Abdul Aboki, Justice Joseph Ikyegh, and Justice Samuel Oseji.

On the other hand, Owuru and HDP claimed that the failure of INEC to conduct the election on February 16 before it was postponed by a week forced his party to conduct a referendum through which Nigerians elected him as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Dismissing the petition in its judgement delivered in July, the Tribunal held that the petition was unknown to the law and lacked constitutional backing, adding that it was an aberration that constituted an abuse of court processes.

Despite the duration of proceedings at the Tribunal, the petitioners in the presidential election were not satisfied with judgement of the court. They, thereafter, took their appeals to the Supreme Court where they challenged the decision of the Tribunal.

Like the lower court, the apex court struck out the suits of Atiku and PDP, as well as Owuru and HDP, and upheld the judgement of the Tribunal affirming President Buhari’s re-election. The Supreme Court’s judgement put an end to issues and disagreements surrounding the 2019 Presidential Election.


 

Mission To Reclaim Mandate

Shortly after elections were concluded, the Governorship and National Assembly Elections Tribunals across the country have been busy attending to litigations triggered by the outcomes of the polls. At the governorship level, the Tribunals affirmed the outcomes of the polls in the states where elections held.

Some of the governorship candidates who lost at the Tribunal further took their cases to the Court of Appeal where they lost again. However, there was a twist in the judgement of the appellate court which sat on the appeal brought by the APC in Oyo State.

The court affirmed the victory of Governor Seyi Makinde and the PDP but validated the appeal of Mr Adebayo Adelabu and the APC. It disagreed with the Tribunal on the grounds that documents submitted were not processed properly while the appellants’ evidence were not evaluated adequately.

Seyi Makinde                                                                                                                     Adebayo Adelabu

 

They noted that if not that the 180-day time limit for the Tribunal had been exhausted, it would have ordered a re-trial. It, therefore, ordered that status quo be maintained, retaining PDP’s Makinde as the elected governor of Oyo State.

Some of the governors who also won at the Tribunal are Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Emeka Ihedioha (Imo), and Samuel Ortom (Benue), among others. Meanwhile, some candidates who lost at the appellate court have challenged the judgements at the Supreme Court.


 

Fight Back To Victory

The aftermath of the elections that returned some members of the 8th National Assembly and brought in new members of the 9th Assembly is one that cannot be allowed to pass by without being reviewed.

Shortly after the February 23 polls were conducted, the has been a war of words and exchange of blames among politicians and political parties, especially between the APC and PDP while others were preparing to go to the Tribunal.

Notable among the states where the courts disagreed with the outcome of the polls are Ekiti, Akwa Ibom, Sokoto, and Kogi. In early November, the Court of Appeal in Kaduna nullified the election of former Senate spokesman, Dayo Adeyeye, as the lawmaker representing Ekiti South senatorial district.

Olujimi Steps Down For Adeyeye In Ekiti PDP Primaries
Senator Olujimi                                                                                                                    Dayo Adeyeye

 

The court ordered INEC to issue a Certificate of Return to former Senate Minority Leader, Senator Biodun Olujimi, of the PDP as the winner of the election. Senator Adeyeye, also an erstwhile spokesman of the PDP, defected from the opposition party to vie for the senatorial seat.

In a similar development, Senator Ibrahim Dambaba – one of the lawmakers who defected from the APC to PDP in July 2018 – returned to the Senate on the order of the Court of Appeal in Sokoto. The court set aside the Tribunal ruling and sacked APC’s Abubakar Shehu-Tambuwal as the senator representing Sokoto South district.

In Akwa Ibom, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Goodswill Akpabio, is likely to return to the Senate, provided he wins a rerun. Senator Akpabio’s hopes were rekindled by the Court of Appeal in Calabar which ordered a re-run election in Essien Udim, the local government where the minister who contested on the APC platform lost to Senator Christopher Ekpenyong of the PDP.

Of all these cases, the election in Kogi West district appeared to be the poll that caught Nigerian’s attention the most. Senator Smart Adeyemi of the APC returned to the Senate in December following a rerun election conducted by INEC on the order of the Court of Appeal in Abuja.

Kogi West: Smart Adeyemi Is 'My Political Wife' – Melaye
Dino Melaye                                                                                                                           Smart Adeyemi

 

The Tribunal had sacked Senator Melaye but he went to the appellate court to seek justice. The PDP candidate, however, lost his appeal in October as the court held that he could not prove his allegations and consequently ordered a rerun within 90 days.

In line with the court order, INEC fixed November 16 for the election – the same day the governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa States took place.

Kogi State Governor Yayaha Bello of the APC defeated his PDP rival, Musa Wada, to seal a second term in office while APC’s David Lyon also beat his PDP opponent, Duoye Diri, to win the governorship election in Bayelsa. The PDP candidates have vowed to challenge the results in court.

 

Quest For Power

In the face of the various developments that accompanied the 2019 general elections, the marks left behind have yet to disappear in some states. There have been some power struggles within political parties in some states such as Edo, Kogi, and Taraba among others.

The crisis in the Edo chapter of the APC is one that has continued to linger for months despite the effort of some party leaders. There seems to be a dispute between the APC National leader and his successor – Governor Godwin Obaseki over the proclamation of the Edo State House of Assembly among other issues.

While the party chairman and the governor shook hands and laughed together in July apparently to dismiss the report of disagreement between them, an attack on the governor’s convoy in November while visiting his predecessor deepened the crisis, leading to the exchange of blames between both camps.

Oshiomhole And Obaseki Shake Hands, Laugh Together
L-R: Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State; Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari; Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State; and APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole.

 

The dispute took a new twist when a faction of the APC in the state suspended the national chairman while another group asked the party’s national leadership to expel the governor from the party.

While the crisis was ongoing, Governor Obaseki’s PDP rival in the September 2016 election, Osagie Ize-Iyamu, defected to the ruling party. Away from Edo, the Kogi State chapter of the APC also had its share of the piece following a prolonged disagreement between Governor Bello and his former deputy, Mr Simon Achuba.

Achuba was impeached by the State House of Assembly in October following the consideration of a report of the committee set up by the State Chief Judge, Justice Nasir Ajana, to investigate an allegation of gross misconduct against him.

A file photo of former Kogi State Deputy Governor, Simon Achuba.

 

Some lawmakers were also impeached while others resigned in the course of the year. In June, Mr Abel Diah was re-elected as Speaker of the Taraba State House of Assembly but the reign only lasted for a while. His deputy, Mohammed Gwampo, was impeached after in October while Diah resigned barely two months later.

This led to the emergence of Mr Joseph Kunini and Mr Hammanadama Abdullahi as Speaker and Deputy Speaker respectively.

Elsewhere, Mr Isah Idris was impeached as the Speaker of Jigawa State House of Assembly while Ugonna Ozuruigbo resigned as the Deputy Speaker of Imo State House of Assembly, just as members of the Gombe State House of Assembly impeached Shaiubu Haruna as their Deputy Speaker.

 

Revolution Call Misinterpreted?

Having summarised the 365 days of the year in this short piece, the review would be incomplete without the prosecution of the convener of #RevolutionNow movement, Mr Omoyele Sowore, by the Nigerian government.

Trouble started for Sowore on August 3 after he was picked up by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) in Lagos. Sowore was arrested after called for revolution protests across the country. The arrest of the activist was not enough to stop the protests from taking place in Lagos and some parts of the country on August 5 as scheduled.

Convener of #RevolutionNow Protest, Mr Omoyele Sowore, at the Federal High Court in Abuja on September 30, 2019. Photo: Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

However, protesters met a strong resistance from security forces already stationed in the Surulere area of Lagos where the demonstration was billed to take place. Several protesters were arrested in the process, including a journalist with online news platform, Sahara Reporters.

Meanwhile, the DSS accused Sowore – the presidential candidate of the African Action Congress in the February poll – of planning to topple the Muhammadu Buhari government through the protests. But the activist denied the coup allegations, insisting that he only mobilised Nigerians to protest against bad governance and other vices in the country.

In September, the government filed seven counts of conspiracy to commit treasonable felony and money laundering charges against Sowore and his co-defendant, Olawale Bakare, a day before the detention order of the Federal High Court in Abuja permitting the DSS to detain him for 45 days expired on September 21.

Convener of #RevolutionNow Protest, Mr Omoyele Sowore, at the Federal High Court in Abuja on September 30, 2019. Photo: Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

Temple Of Justice Desecrated?

The duo pleaded not guilty to the charges and were later granted bail in the sum of N150 million but not without stringent conditions. Despite two orders of the court directing their release, Sowore and Bakare were held by the DSS until the evening December 5 while the Service insisted that it did not disobey the court.

Barely 24 hours later, a drama played out at the Federal High Court in Abuja as some DSS operatives stormed the court in an attempt to rearrest Sowore and perhaps Bakare.

The move was thwarted by Sowore’s supporters and his lawyer, Mr Femi Falana, who condemned the action in its entirety. After the atmosphere was a bit calm, Falana drove his client to the DSS of in the nation’s capital where he was rearrested and detained.

 

The action of the security operatives was described as ‘desecration of the temple of justice’ by some Nigerians, including prominent legal practitioners in the country, although the DSS denied invasion of the court by its personnel.

Reacting to the incident, the Presidency, the Senate, as well as the House of Representatives said they had commenced an investigation into the court invasion but the outcomes have yet to be made public.

These, among many other happenings such as the budget presentation by the President, the first commemoration of June 12 as Democracy Day, the criticism of President Buhari’s media aide – Garba Shehu – by Mrs Aisha Buhari, the Social Media Bill, the Finance Bill, and the controversy surrounding the purported third term agenda of the President, are the major events in the 2019 political year.

PHOTOS: Doctors Protest, Condemn Assault On Female Colleague In Abuja

Members of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) protest in Abuja on January 16, 2020. Photo: Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

 

Members of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) in Abuja have protested the harassment of one of their members by a patient’s relative.

The protesters took to the streets of the nation’s capital on Thursday one week after a female doctor was assaulted at the Maitama District Hospital.

The doctor was reportedly stripped naked by one of the relatives of a patient following the death of their mother from a chronic medical condition.

The protesters marched in numbers to the Federal Capital Development Authority to express their grievance over the incident.

Some of them carried different placards with various inscriptions, while others called for justice and more secured working environment for members of the association.

The NMA Chairman (FCT chapter), Ekpe Phillips, condemned the incident during an interview with reporters in the nation’s capital.

He said, “There should be an undertaking by patients that their relatives will not show any act of violence to any doctor or healthcare worker, as doctors are scared to come to work due to the violent act of some patients.”

Phillips, therefore, called on the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Muhammad Bello, to deploy appropriate security measures to protect the lives of residents, especially health workers.

See photos below:

Members of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) protest in Abuja on January 16, 2020. Photo: Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

Algeria Plans To Ban ‘Hate Speech’

Algerians chant slogans as they take part in an anti-government demonstration in the center of the capital Algiers on January 10, 2020.
RYAD KRAMDI / AFP

 

The president of protest-hit Algeria, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, plans to outlaw “hate speech” that has proliferated on social networks in recent months, his office said Monday.

Tebboune asked Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad to draft a bill “criminalising all forms of racism … and hate speech in the country,” according to a statement published by the official APS press agency.

The new initiative follows “an upsurge in hate speech and incitement,” the presidential statement said.

Algerian social networks have become a battleground for rival political camps after they gave rise to the popular “Hirak” protest movement that in April ended the 20-year reign of president Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

The tone became more aggressive in the run-up to a December 12 presidential election, held in the face of strong opposition from the protest movement which saw the polls as an attempt by the establishment to consolidate its power.

All five candidates who ran in the poll had links to Bouteflika, with Tebboune having served as one of his prime ministers. Official turnout was less than 40 percent.

The law would allow authorities “to confront those who exploit the freedom and peaceful nature of Hirak” by brandishing “slogans that undermine national cohesion,” the statement said.

The initiative has sparked fierce debate on social media between those who back it and those who see it as an unneccessary measure, with some wary that it could give wide scope to crack down on legitimate protest.

The planned law stipulates that “everyone is called upon to comply with the Constitution and laws of the Republic, in particular respect for… the Nation state and its values… as well as the symbols of the state.”

Nearly a year after the launch of the popular movement, its activists continue to demand an end to the governing system in place since the country’s independence from France in 1962.

 

AFP

Downed Plane: Britain’s Envoy In Iran Denies Attending Protest Before Arrest

Iranians students demonstrate following a tribute for the victims of Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737 in front of the Amirkabir University in the capital Tehran, on January 11, 2020. AFP

 

Britain’s ambassador to Tehran denied Sunday that he took part in a demonstration that broke out at a memorial for the 176 people killed when a plane was shot down.

Students held a gathering at Tehran’s Amir Kabir University on Saturday evening to honour those killed hours after Iran admitted the Ukrainian airliner was downed by mistake.

Iran’s Mehr news agency said the ambassador, Rob Macaire, was arrested for his alleged “involvement in provoking suspicious acts” at the gathering in front of the university.

On Sunday, Iran confirmed his arrest as a foreigner at “an illegal gathering”, but said he was released soon after being identified.

“Can confirm I wasn’t taking part in any demonstrations! Went to an event advertised as a vigil for victims of #PS752 tragedy,” Macaire said on Twitter, adding he had been detained half an hour after leaving the area.

“Normal to want to pay respects — some of victims were British. I left after 5 mins, when some started chanting,” he said.

“Arresting diplomats is of course illegal, in all countries,” he added.

Iran’s deputy foreign minister on Sunday confirmed Macaire had been arrested but said he was freed soon after being identified.

“He wasn’t detained, but arrested as unknown foreigner in an illegal gathering,” Seyed Abbas Araghchi tweeted, adding Macaire was released 15 minutes after he called the British diplomat to confirm his identity.

The British government said Macaire was arrested and detained briefly in the Iranian capital in what it called a “flagrant violation of international law”.

Iran’s armed forces said on Saturday the Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737 was mistakenly shot down, after denying for days Western claims it was brought down by a missile.

Police dispersed students who chanted “radical” and “destructive” slogans when the tribute to those killed in the air disaster turned into an angry demonstration, Fars news agency reported.

AFP

Angry Bayelsa Youths Protest Alleged Shooting Of Corps Members, Others

An ATM belonging to a new generation bank vandalised by angry Bayelsa youths following the alleged killing of a corps members and two others in the state on January 6, 2020.

 

Angry youths in Bayelsa State have protested the alleged shooting of a serving National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) member and two others in the Ekeki area of Yenagoa, the state capital.

The incident occurred on Monday evening after a policeman attached to a new generation bank in the area allegedly shot at close range and killed them.

READ ALSO: Angry Borno Governor Slams Soldiers, Policemen For ‘Extorting’ Travellers

According to eyewitnesses, one of the victims was the driver of a 14-seater bus.

He had conveyed some passengers who were returning from the yuletide celebration and tried to disembark close to the bank premises.

But a minor disagreement ensued between the driver and the policeman after he had asked him not to drop the passengers there.

Thereafter, the policeman opened fire on the occupants killing the driver and two other passengers including a serving corps member.

Visibly angered by the developments, the youths went on a rampage, destroying the bank’s Automated Teller Machine (ATM).

Meanwhile, three police vans and mobile policemen have been drafted to the scene of the incident located close to the Central Motor Park, in Ekeki, the state capital.

Reacting to the development, the State Police Command said the officer, accused of extra-judicial killing, has been arrested.

According to a statement issued by the spokesman of the Command, SP Asinim Butswat, the Commissioner of Police, CP Uche Anozia, has now ordered that he be remanded in custody.

“The authorities of Bayelsa Police Command have arrested and taken into custody one Police Mobile Force (PMF) personnel for suspicion of Discreditable Conduct and Unlawful Use of his Firearm.

“The suspect, a male NCO, who was arrested on the orders of the State Commissioner of Police, CP Uche Anozia is currently in detention at the State Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department, Yenagoa,” Butswat said.

The Police, however, claimed that no lives were lost. Rather, the victims were rushed to the hospital where “they are currently responding to treatment.”

They have also vowed to investigate the case and ensure that all indicted persons are brought to justice.

Iraq’s Pro-Iran Hashed Orders Pullback From US Embassy

 

Supporters of Iraq’s Hashed al-Shaabi force began dismantling their sit-in outside the US embassy in Baghdad on Wednesday, but hardliners insisted they would stay put.

The Hashed, a powerful paramilitary network integrated into Iraq’s state security forces, ordered its backers to end their protest outside the US mission.

“You delivered your message,” it said in a statement.

Thousands had massed outside the embassy in anger at deadly weekend US air strikes on pro-Iran Hashed faction, Kataeb Hezbollah.

Iraq’s caretaker prime minister Adel Abdel Mahdi had called on the Hashed supporters to leave the embassy on Tuesday but most spent the night in dozens of tents pitched outside the perimeter wall.

On Wednesday, the Hashed called on supporters to regroup outside the high-security Green Zone where the mission is located.

An AFP photographer saw some protesters beginning to dismantle their tents.

But a leading Kataeb Hezbollah commander told AFP they would stay outside the embassy.

“We in Kataeb Hezbollah won’t withdraw even if the others do,” said the commander, who was among those outside.

Iran Summons Envoy Over US ‘Warmongering’

 

 

Tehran summoned an official from the Swiss embassy, which represents US interests in Iran, to complain about American “warmongering” in neighbouring Iraq, the foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

“The Swiss charge d’affaires was summoned to the foreign ministry… over stances of American officials with regards to developments in Iraq,” a ministry statement said.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran conveyed its strong protest… over warmongering remarks made by American officials which are in violation of the United Nations Charter,” it added.

President Donald Trump and other US officials have blamed Iran for rocket fire that killed an American civilian contractor in northern Iraq on Friday.

They have also accused Iran of being behind the storming of the US embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday by protesters angry over retaliatory US airstrikes in western Iraq that killed 25 militants.

In its statement, the Iranian foreign ministry said it had asked the Swiss charge d’affaires to inform the United States that “Iraq is an independent country”.

“The American army has martyred at least 25 young Iraqis and has wounded countless more without presenting the slightest evidence of them being at fault,” it said.

“Naturally the people of Iraq react to the country that has occupied their country and kills their young people.”

Tehran and Washington have not had direct diplomatic relations since Iranian students stormed the US embassy in 1980 and held staff hostage for 444 days.

 

Iraq’s Pro-Iran Hashed Orders Pullback From US Embassy

In this collage, American soldiers take their position as Iraq’s Hashed al-Shaabi military etwork attempt to break into the US embassy in the capital Baghdad. US EMBASSY IN IRAQ / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE / AFP

 

 

Iraq’s Hashed al-Shaabi military force Wednesday ordered its supporters to end their sit-in at the US embassy compound in Baghdad, but hardliners pledged to stay put outside the mission.

“You delivered your message,” the Hashed said in a statement addressed to the crowds encircling the embassy since Tuesday in outrage over deadly American airstrikes on a pro-Iran Hashed faction at the weekend.

It called on supporters to regroup outside the high-security Green Zone where the mission is located, but a leading commander in Kataeb Hezbollah, the group targeted in the US raids, told AFP they would “remain” at the embassy.

Trump Says He Does Not Expect War With Iran

 

US President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he does not foresee a war with Tehran, after pro-Iranian demonstrators stormed the US embassy in Iraq.

“I don’t see that happening,” Trump said at his holiday retreat in Florida when a reporter asked about the possibility of war with the Islamic republic.

“I like peace,” the president said before heading into New Year’s celebrations.

The president spoke after Defense Secretary Mark Esper said that around 750 troops from a rapid response unit of the 82nd Airborne Division are prepared to deploy over the next several days to the Middle East.

READ ALSO: Pentagon Says Sending 750 Troops To Mideast After Embassy Attack In Iraq

The US had already flown a rapid response team of Marines into Baghdad to reinforce its embassy after the attack Tuesday, which left smoke and flames rising from the compound’s entrance and further heightened tension between Tehran and Washington.

US officials said there were no plans to evacuate the mission, and no US personnel were reported injured.

The US reinforcements “got in there very quickly,” Trump said.

“I think it’s been handled very well.”

He added that “this will not be a Benghazi,” a reference to an attack in 2012 by radical Islamists on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Four Americans were killed inside the smoke-clogged building including the ambassador, Chris Stevens.