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Queen’s funeral underway at Westminster Abbey

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By Gloria Ikibah

The funeral service to remember Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, has commenced at Westminster Abbey.

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Among the guests are world leaders including US President Biden and hundreds of other foreign dignitaries.

The Dean of Westminster, who is leading the service, expressed gratitude for the Queen’s “life-long sense of duty”.

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King Charles III led a sombre procession behind his mother’s coffin from Westminster Hall to the abbey.

The Dean, the Very Rev David Hoyle, began the service by speaking of the Queen’s “life-long selfless service”.

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“With gratitude we remember her unswerving commitment to a high calling over so many years as Queen and Head of the Commonwealth. With admiration we recall her life-long sense of duty and dedication to her people,” he said.

The service will be filled with traditional church music and readings from the Bible.

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Towards the end, the Last Post will be played before there will be a two-minute national silence.

The Queen’s coffin was conveyed – in the first of three processions throughout the day – through Parliament Square, a distance of about 820ft (250m).

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The Prince of Wales and the Duke of Sussex walked side-by-side behind their father, the King. The King walked alongside his siblings, the Queen’s four children.

The procession from the abbey saw the State Gun Carriage carry the coffin, drawn by 142 sailors. A guard of honour stood in the square made up of all three military services.

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As they walked to the abbey the royals were accompanied by the Massed Pipes and Drums of Scottish and Irish Regiments, the Brigade of Gurkhas, and the Royal Air Force and the tolling of the abbey bell.

US President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are among the world leaders who have arrived at the abbey, while six former British prime ministers are also present.

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Some 2,000 mourners are bidding farewell to the Queen at the state funeral, including 500 dignitaries – with presidents, prime ministers and foreign royalty among the guests.

There are also members of many European royal families, including Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and Denmark, as well as the Emperor and Empress of Japan.

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Former prime ministers Theresa May, Tony Blair, David Cameron, Gordon Brown, John Major and Boris Johnson are at the historic abbey.

Guests filling Westminster Abbey for Queen’s final farewell

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About 200 people who were recognised in the Queen’s birthday honours also received invitations.

Knife crime campaigner Natalie Queiroz told BBC Breakfast she was “totally speechless” when she was asked to attend.

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Barbara Crellin, a volunteer emergency responder, said she “just cried and cried” when she was invited and described herself as “so humbled and privileged to be here”.

The event is expected to be watched by millions of people across the country, and most workplaces are closed for a bank holiday.

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It is also expected to be watched by millions around the world, with the Queen the head of state for 14 realms throughout the Commonwealth.

For those not invited big screens have been put up in cities across the country, while some cinemas, pubs and other venues are also showing the once-in-a-generation event.

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Elderly Woman Falls On Her Knees To Pray For Peter Obi In Jos Rally

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As political campaigns for the 2023 general elections commenced on Wednesday, a elderly woman has been captured praying for the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, during a solidarity rally held in Jos, Plateau State.

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The Director-General of the Obi-Datti Campaign organization, Doyin Okupe, in a tweet on Wednesday disclosed that the LP candidate and his vice, Datti Baba Ahmed, will attend the Jos rally although the party is yet to commence campaigns officially.

”Today in Jos, HE Peter Obi & his running mate Datti-Ahmed, will honour an invitation from the Middle Belt forum to attend a solidarity rally. We are yet to commence our own campaigns.

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To comfort our students, We urge the FG to quickly resolve the lingering ASSU Crisis,” the tweet read.

Amongst persons seen at the venue to welcome the LP flag bearer was an elderly woman on her knees in the midst of other supporters praying for Peter Obi at the Rwang Pam Stadium Jos, Plateau state.

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UNIBEN releases post-UTME, DE screenings date

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The University of Benin has fixed dates for its Post Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination and Direct Entry screenings for 2022/2023 session.

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The university in a notice by its Registrar, Ademola Bobola on Wednesday in Benin, said the exercise would hold between Nov. 14 and 25.

Bobola said the screening would be conducted in designated centres at the Ugbowo main campus of the institution, using the Computer Based Test mode.

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“Only candidates who applied through JAMB for the 2022/2023 UTME and Direct Entry admission and chose the University of Benin as First Choice and scoring 200 and above for UTME candidates are eligible for this screening exercise,” the registrar said.

Bobola, however, referred admission seekers to the institution to the university’s official website.

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Presidency denies authorising Katsina security outfit to carry arms

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The Presidency has denied that any state has been issued authorisation to procure automatic weapons for its security outfit.

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Last week, Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu had accused the Federal Government of bias in refusing to allow the Western Nigeria Security Network Agency, also known as Amotekun Corps, to carry sophisticated firearms, while allegedly granting approval to the Katsina State security outfit to carry sophisticated firearms.

That was as the Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba said that quasi-security outfits established by state governments have no legal basis to function during the 2023 general elections.

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In a statement on Tuesday, the Presidency said the possession of automatic weapons and AK-47 remains illegal in the country.

“The Presidency wishes to strongly assert that there is no state, not Katsina, not any other state in the federation, that has been authorized to procure automatic weapons for their security outfits,” the statement reads.

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“Under this administration, the President has repeatedly made it clear that nobody is allowed to illegally carry AK-47 or any other automatic weapons and that they must surrender them”.

The Presidency however said neither Katsina nor Ondo is allowed to purchase automatic weapons for security outfits.

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“Under the existing regulations, only the Office of the National Security Adviser can issue such authorization, upon proper clearance by the President and Commander-in-Chief and as it is at this moment, no such approvals have been issued to any state government.

“In the specific Katsina State often cited, the Governor, Aminu Bello Masari wrote to explain that the administration invited the Provost of the Civil Defence Training College in Katsina to train their vigilantes for a five-day period….

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“in the handling and operations of Pump Action Rifles,” emphasising that “the vigilantes were not trained to take over the responsibilities of the security agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria but to assist them”.

The Presidency added that it “appreciates the active involvement of states with security matters. As they continue to expand their capabilities as well as their active collaboration with law enforcement agencies of the federation, the joint efforts continue to yield good results, thwarting attempts of terrorists to wreak havoc and destruction on communities”.

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President Muhammadu Buhari was quoted as saying he has received reports “of acts of utmost bravery and professionalism” by operatives of state security outfits.

“He thanked them for their alertness that is helping to defeat nefarious plots against targets at grassroots levels”, the statement added.

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Furthermore, the Presidency called on leaders at various levels “to exercise restraint in their speech, even as we are in a political season”.

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