No fewer than 20 traders were confirmed dead and about 41 others seriously injured in a bomb blast that rocked a village market in Borno State on Tuesday, according to eyewitnesses’ accounts.
The explosive which was suspected to have been hidden somewhere within the town went off at about 1:30pm when traders crowded the open commercial area.
“Many people were killed in Sabon Gari market this afternoon when a bomb explosion rocked the market”, Yakubu Kimba, a vigilante official patrolling the Biu-Damboa highway said.
“We heard loud explosions at about 1:35pm; when we got there, people were scattered; it was not a suicide bombing attack; the bomb was planted at the centre of the market.
The bomb had created a wide hole at the spot where it exploded. We counted about 20 dead bodies, while several other human bodies were battered beyond recognition”, he added.
An official of the local Vigilante Group of Nigeria, Abbas Gava, confirmed the attack, saying “our officials in Biu town arrived Sabon-Gari village from Biu town about two hours after the blast and informed us that about 24 persons were confirmed killed, while over 60 others were seriously injured and were being taken to the hospital.”
A hospital source in Biu, 41km away from Sabon-Gari village, who would not want to be named in this report for official reasons, said 41 injured persons were currently receiving treatment, while over 20 bodies “mostly burnt or battered beyond recognition were also brought to the mortuary”.
Court soft-pedals on Nnamdi Kanu’s trial
The authorities of the Federal High Court in Abuja have soft-pedaled on the stringent conditions imposed on the trial of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu.
Against their last month decision, the court authorities have stopped the movement of the trial to the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, at Jabi District of Abuja.
Also, the authorities of the Court have permitted the media to witness the treasonable felony charges brought against the Biafra nation agitator by the Federal Government.
At the time of this report, fully armed operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS), have taken perfect control of the security situations within and outside the court premises.
Journalists, lawyers, litigants, as well as workers are being allowed into the court premises unhindered after formal introduction and presentation of identity cards.
The court had last month issued a Practice Direction which moved the trial to CCT believed to be large and spacious enough to accommodate the crowd that usually surged to witness the trial.
The Practice Direction endorsed by the Chief Judge of the Court, Justice John Tsoho had also prohibited media coverage except where expressly permitted.
However, it was observed that the stringent conditions have been jettisoned.
Although, reasons for deviating from the Practice Direction have not been made known, it was gathered that Jabi Code of Conduct Tribunal was considered too porous for such a sensitive trial, especially from the security points.
Apart from unhindered access being granted to lawyers and media practitioners, roads leading to the court are not blocked, while food vendors are also having their businesses done without molestation.
However, adequate security measures are being observed to prevent security breaches.
Finland and Sweden submit applications to join NATO
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says that Finland and Sweden have officially applied to join the world’s biggest military alliance, a move driven by security concerns over Russia’s war in Ukraine.
“I warmly welcome the requests by Finland and Sweden to join NATO. You are our closest partners,” Stoltenberg told reporters on Wednesday after receiving their application letters from the two Nordic countries’ ambassadors.
“This is a historic moment, which we must seize,” Stoltenberg said at NATO headquarters in Brussels.
Neutral throughout the Cold War, the two countries’ decision to join the alliance is one of the most significant changes in Europe’s security architecture in decades.
The applications must now be weighed by the 30 member countries. That process is expected to take about two weeks, although Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has expressed reservations about Finland and Sweden joining.
If his objections are overcome, and accession talks go as well as expected, the two could become members within a few months. The process usually takes eight to 12 months, but NATO wants to move quickly given the threat from Russia hanging over the Nordic countries’ heads.
Canada, for example, says that it expects to ratify their accession protocol in just a few days.
Several NATO allies, most notably the United Kingdom, have offered security assurances to Finland and Sweden during the application period before they are covered by the alliance’s mutual defence pact.
“Over the past few days, we have seen numerous statements by allies committing to Finland and Sweden’s security. NATO is already vigilant in the Baltic Sea region and NATO and allies’ forces will continue to adapt as necessary,” Stoltenberg said.
Nigerian government puts Facebook under watch over IPOB
Facebook and other social media platforms have been cautioned against yielding their platforms to the members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) to incite violence and instigate ethnic hatred in Nigeria.
The Federal Government gave the instruction through Information, Culture & Tourism Minister Lai Mohammed at a meeting with a team from Facebook.
In a statement signed by his media aide, Mr. Segun Adeyemi, the minister said since IPOB had been proscribed and classified as a terrorist organisation, Facebook has no justification to continue allowing its platform to be used by the organisation to further its campaign of hate and destabilisation of the country.
Mohammed was quoted as saying: “I have called this meeting to enable us to discuss the increasing use of Facebook by separatists and anarchists, especially those of them based outside the country, to instigate violence and ethnic hatred in Nigeria.
“For whatever reason, they seem to have now chosen Facebook as their platform of choice. And their tools include disinformation, incendiary statements and hate speech.
“They use Facebook broadcasts to reach their followers, who are in thousands. They tag those opposed to their violent ways as ‘saboteurs’ who must be attacked, maimed and killed. They use both English and their local language as it suits them.”
He said the actions of the outlawed group have real-life implications, adding: “By purveying hate and inciting violence, people are getting killed while private and public property are being attacked and destroyed. Security agencies and other symbols of government are their choice targets.”
The minister said that despite the numerous complaints to Facebook on the activities of IPOB, nothing has been done by the company to curtail the group’s excesses on the social media platform.
He said: “Our social media people have been monitoring these separatists, anarchists and purveyors of hate, and have been reporting their atrocious actions to Facebook, but all they get are default responses that their complaints have been received and are being looked into.
“Most often than not, nothing has been done about such complaints… The truth is that whatever Facebook is doing to check these people is mere tokenism and is totally ineffective.”
Mohammed said the government would be monitoring Facebook and other platforms closely in the days ahead to ensure compliance with the demand, as it steps up the campaign for the responsible use of social media.
He said: “We have always advocated a responsible use of social media, and consistently called on all stakeholders to join us in achieving this. Some have tagged our efforts as an attempt to stifle social media.
“They are wrong, because we have no intention of preventing Nigerians from using social media responsibly. All we have been advocating is a responsible use of social media,” the minister said.
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