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At last, FG declares bandits as terrorists

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After weeks of foot-dragging, the Federal Government has declared bandits as terrorists.

The declaration titled, ‘Terrorism (Prevention) Proscription Order Notice, 2021 is contained in Volume 108 of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Official Gazette.

The statement by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice’s media aide, Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, reads in part: “Notice is hereby given that by the Order of the Federal High Court Abuja, in suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/1370/2021 dated November 25, 2021 as per the schedule to this notice, the activities of Yan Bindiga (Hausa word for gunmen) group, Yan Ta’adda (Hausa word for terrorists) group and other similar groups in Nigeria are declared to be terrorism and illegal in any part of Nigeria, especially in the Northwest and North-Central regions and are proscribed, pursuant to sections 1 and 2 of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011.

“Consequently, the general public is hereby warned that any person or group of persons participating in any manner whatsoever in any form of activities involving or concerning the prosecution of the collective intentions or otherwise of the groups referred to in paragraph 1 of this Notice will be violating the provisions of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011 and liable to prosecution.”

This comes more than a month after a Federal High Court in Abuja declared bandits as terrorists following an ex parte motion the Federal Government filed before it through the Ministry of Justice.

The government had approached the court to declare bandits as terrorists in October after repeated calls from across Nigeria for them to be so designated to enable security operatives to better combat them.

The Federal Government, in its ex parte motion, told the Federal High Court that intelligence reports showed that bandit groups masterminded several killings, abductions, rapes, kidnappings and related acts of criminality in the Northeast, North-Central, and other parts of the country.

It added that the groups engaged in incessant kidnappings for ransom, kidnapping for marriage, mass abductions of school children and other citizens, cattle rustling, enslavement, imprisonment, severe deprivation of physical liberty, torture, rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, other forms of sexual violence, attacks and killings in communities.

Ruling on the motion in November, Justice Taiwo Taiwo declared bandits as terrorists. He specifically held that activities of Yan Bindiga and Yan Ta’adda bandit groups constitute acts of terrorism.

Justice Taiwo further ordered the FG to publish the proscription order in the official gazette as well as in two national dailies.

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WHO issues fresh COVID-19 alert

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned countries that COVID-19 is not over.

Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO said the reports of the decline in cases and deaths do not mean the end of the pandemic

Ghebreyesus spoke on Sunday in Geneva at the opening of the World Health Assembly.

The Assembly, the decision-making body of the WHO, has 194 member-countries.

At the meeting, the first in-person since 2019, Ghebreyesus advised health ministers not to relax.

“Is COVID-19 over? No. I know that’s not the message you want to hear, and it’s definitely not the message I want to deliver,” he said.

The DG expressed concern about increasing cases in nearly 70 countries in all regions with testing rates reduced.

Ghebreyesus added that reported deaths are also rising in Africa, the continent with the lowest vaccination coverage.

“It’s not over anywhere until it’s over everywhere. Only 57 countries have vaccinated 70 per cent of their population, almost all of them high-income countries,” he noted.

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Nnamdi Kanu’s US lawyer, Bruce Fein challenges Buhari’s minister to public debate

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Bruce Fein, a United States, US, lawyer of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), has challenged the Nigerian Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami to a debate.

Fein challenged Malami to a debate on a national television over the legal right of the South-East to agitate for Biafra.

In a series of tweets, the US attorney said Malami would have accepted defeat if he turned down the challenge.

According to Fein: “I challenge Attorney General Malami or his designee to debate me on Nigerian television. Topic: The legal right of Biafrans to self-determination.

“My opponent can use two words to every one of mine. Malami concedes defeat if he scampers away from my challenge.”

Kanu is being held in the custody of the Department of State Services, DSS.

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2023: Buhari may meet Osinbajo, Tinubu, Amaechi, others

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President Muhammadu Buhari would this week meet with all the preidential aspirants of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

The meeting was called with a view to reducing the number of presidential hopefuls and also ensuring that all of them pledge to accept the outcome of the primary as was done during the APC presidential primary in 2014.

“The President will meet with the aspirants a few days to the primary with a view to ensuring that there is unity and harmony. He will also meet with the governors separately. The date is not fixed yet, but it should be this week if INEC doesn’t extend the deadline for the primary as we are all hoping,” said an APC chieftain who wished to remain anonymous.

“The President has a candidate. How to present the idea to the likes of Tinubu will be the challenge,” he added.

Buhari’s most senior spokesman, Mr Femi Adesina, had said last week that the President indeed had a preferred candidate.

He stated, “In a previous interview when the President was asked whether he had a favourite candidate, he answered yes; but he will not mention him because mischief may happen to that person.

“That shows you that the President himself is interested in the process and he has a preferred candidate; but whether he will impose his candidate is what you cannot determine at the moment.”

When contacted on the telephone, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said he was not aware of any meeting the President would be having with the aspirants.

“I am not aware of any meeting as of now,” he said.

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