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Bandits free one Baptist student, three left in captivity

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After over 150 days in captivity, one of the remaining four students of Bethel Baptist High School, Kaduna has been released by bandits.

Also, the group of bandits which abducted the 66 worshippers at the Emmanuel Baptist Church, Kakau Daji in Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State, are demanding N99m as ransom for the 61 still in custody.

Briefing journalists on Friday, Vice Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the Northern States and Abuja, Rev. John Hayab, confirmed the release of the Bethel Baptist student.

He said additional N5m was paid before the hoodlums could release the student.

Bandits broke into Bethel Baptist High School premises at Damishi along the Kaduna – Kachia highway, Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State on July 5, and whisked away 121 students, who were later released in batches.

Hayab, who is also the chairman of the CAN in Kaduna State, said the released student, who happens to be the Head Boy of the school, was let go on health grounds.

He commended the student for his exemplary behaviour, saying that the Head Boy, concealed his identity and had vowed to be the last to leave the bandits’ den following the release of the students in batches.

According to him, the Head Boy had said that until all his students were released, he will remain in the captivity but he had to be released because he was down and sick.

This, he said, forced the bandits to pressure the church for the release of the Head Boy, adding that they had to gather almost the N5m demanded by the bandits before his release.

The CAN leader said the association would honour the student for his for the sterling leadership quality he displayed in the face of danger.

“Actually, I called you people to let you know that four of our children are still with the bandits. But two days ago, the bandits released one boy out of the four Bethel Baptist High School students that are with them. They actually release the Head Boy.

“The Head Boy has refused to come back in all the releases. That boy is worth celebrating. That boy if at his age he can display that leadership quality, we are impressed. But he has fallen terribly sick because of the long time thru have stayed in the bush.

“So, the bandits had put pressure on us for another money. They insisted that for the four remaining students, we must pay N5m each before they could be release. But we made efforts and almost N5m was given to them. Then, they released the Head Boy who actually was weak and down. He has refused that until every student is release, he can not leave but for his ill-health.

“Nigerians need to know that pur students are still with these bandits. The Bethel Baptist High School students have not come back all; three are still with them since they have release the head boy and that means they are demanding from us additional N5m per head for the remaining three. We have paid them hugh sum of money and look at how they are treating us.”

Hayab, also said the abductors of the 66 worshippers of the Emmanuel Baptist Church, Kakau Daji in Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State, were demanding N99m as ransom to release the 61 remaining people abductees in their custody after killing five of them.

Sixty-six worshippers were kidnapped by bandits who invaded the church on Sunday 31, October, 2021 during service.

Two of abductees were killed on the spot; two others were shot dead later while one was injured and hospitalised.

Hayab wondered the essence of the telecommunication shutdown when in the real sense the government could not use such measure to track down the kidnappers of the worshippers as well as the remaining Bethel Baptist High School students who had spent over 150 days in captivity.

“As I speak with you bandits that took away 66 worshipper at Emmanuel Baptist Church, Kakau Daji on the 31st October, 2021 and on November 6th, they picked five young men between the ages of 15 to 24 as if they were going to release them, not knowing that they had evil intension.

“When they came bear home, they opened fire on all of them. Two died on the spot and one later died. We have buried three and two others who sustained are still being treated but the 61 are with them in the bush and nothing is happening .

“They first asked us to give them food which they refused but later accepted. Then, they are demanding for N99m for those 61 people that are with them. So, where is the security working to fish out these criminals.

“Are there no security anymore? When they kidnapped along the Kaduna – Abuja a few days ago, the police and others(security operatives) quickly went there. So, where have they been that all these things are happening to worshippers?

“From 31st October, 2021, they have spent 26 days in the hands of these bandits and no effort whatsoever. Our children have spent over 150 days in the hands of the bandits and no effort made to rescue them.

“We are paying money. We rejoice that our head boy is back but we are sad because of the other three. And we are sad because of the experience all these children are going through in hand of the bandits throughout this period.

“These made us to ask questions over all this shutting down of telecommunication network. What has happened to it. Have we not used it to track criminals. Have we not used it that these bandits could still be having field days to keep our children to be demanding for such money from us?

“I thought they would have tracked them. So, they came up with an unpopular policy that is just punishing citizens and it’s not bringing any succour to the people. Look at what we are back to now. This is the challenge we face,” he added.

The Cleric also commended the West African Examination Council for allowing the abducted final year students to write the final examination.

He knocked the National Examination Council for its refusal to allow the final year students who had gone through hell in the hands of bandits to write their examination despite plea from the association and well meaning Nigerians.

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Google set to invest $9.5bn in US

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Google has announced plans to invest $9.5bn in its US offices and data centers around the country in 2022, up from more than the $7bn it spent in 2021.

According to CNN, the big bet on office space was coming at a point Google was embracing a hybrid work model. The Alphabet-owned company has called for many of its employees to work in an office three days a week after two years of being fully remote.

The Chief Executive Officer of Alphabet and Google, Sundar Pichai, said, “It might seem counterintuitive to step up our investment in physical offices even as we embrace more flexibility in how we work.

“Yet we believe it’s more important than ever to invest in our campuses and that doing so will make for better products, a greater quality of life for our employees, and stronger communities.”
Google said it would open an office in Atlanta this year and continue to develop and expand office space in Austin and New York. It added that it planned to continue investing in data centers in Iowa, Nebraska, and Tennessee, among other states.

As part of the announcement, Google said it expected to create at least 12,000 new full-time jobs at the company this year.

Google and other tech companies were among the first businesses to shift to remote work when the pandemic hit in early 2020. But that shift always appeared to be temporary. Like others in Silicon Valley, Google had previously invested billions in expansive campuses and lavish office benefits for workers.

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European markets pull back amid doubts over latest Russian pledges over Ukraine

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European stocks retreated on Wednesday following the latest round of talks between Russia and Ukraine, aimed at finding a solution to the conflict.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 fell 0.8% in early trade, with autos shedding 1.9% to lead losses, while oil and gas stocks gained 1.7%.

In terms of individual share price movement, Finland’s Nokian Tyres fell 6.6%, while Sweden’s Lundin Energy added 4.7%.

Investor sentiment was boosted on Tuesday following negotiations between Russian and Ukrainian officials in Turkey, at which Russia’s deputy defense minister claimed Moscow had decided to “drastically” cut back its military activity near Ukraine’s capital.

Alexander Fomin, who spoke following the talks in Istanbul, said Russia would slow its military operations near Kyiv and Chernihiv in order for peace talks to progress. Russia previously claimed that it would reduce military operations in other parts of Ukraine but then continued its advance.

Growing hope for a cease-fire appeared to boost investor sentiment Tuesday, as Dow Jones Industrial Average futures rose 200 points, or 0.6%. S&P 500 futures also climbed 0.6%, while Nasdaq 100 futures climbed 0.7%. Meanwhile, the price of U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude oil, which spiked on the heels of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, fell more than 4% to $100 per barrel.

Doubts have set in over the pledge, however, and while the Russian military has begun moving some of its troops in Ukraine away from areas around Kyiv to positions elsewhere in Ukraine, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby warned the troop movements do not amount to a retreat.

Shares in Asia-Pacific were mixed in Wednesday trade as investors watch for developments surrounding the war in Ukraine. Stateside, traders are keeping tabs on a slew of key economic reports, while also monitoring the Federal Reserve’s planned interest rate hikes.

The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey on Tuesday showed 11.3 million job openings, higher than the 11.1 million expected. The ADP will also release its private payrolls data ahead of the closely watched monthly jobs report, on Friday.

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Lagos Assembly kicks against harassment of residents by police

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Lagos State House of Assembly Speaker, Mudashiru Obasa, yesterday, cautioned police in the state against harassment, intimidation and extortion of residents.

Obasa said this on the floor of the House when lawmakers honoured outgoing Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hakeem Odumosu, who has been promoted to Assistant Inspector-General, and is due to retire in January 2022.

Obasa said Odumosu was honoured as the first Commissioner of Police in the state to stand before the lawmakers and address Lagosians on his experience policing the state.

The Speaker thanked Odumosu for his openness and responsiveness to issues affecting the peace of the state.

“It is important to call on those behind you to know that the relationship between the police and the people need to be constantly improved upon,” Obasa said, adding that men of the Nigeria Police Force need to build more trust among the people.

“Everybody must be treated with respect, dignity and honour. And that is how we can earn respect. Policing should not be about harassment and extortion but building trust among the people and making them comfortable,” Obasa said.

The Commissioner of Police, who led a team of officers to the House, thanked the lawmakers for their support. According to him, nothing could have been achieved in terms of security and peace in the state without assistance of the House.

He said he would remain grateful to Lagosians for making it possible for him and his team to effectively manage the security of the state.

Odumosu, who described Lagos as ‘mini-Nigeria’, said proactivity of the Assembly led to the creation of laws that helped the police remain successful in the state.

He said the Cultism Prohibition Law also helped to reduce illegal associations in tertiary institutions in the state and enlightened property owners and residents.

“We promise to continue to excel in providing watertight security for people of the state,” he told the lawmakers. He also promised he would encourage his successor to sustain the relationship between the police and the House, while urging the lawmakers to extend their support to his successor.

“Policing Lagos is not a tea party. Without the laws in Lagos, it would have been difficult to police the state. Don’t get tired, don’t relent in making laws that would make Lagos maintain its place as the most peaceful state in Nigeria,” he said.

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