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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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Airtel, UNICEF Launch Partnership to Connect Over 300,000 students to Digital Learning in Nigeria

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By Gloria Ikibah

Airtel is partnering with UNICEF under the Reimagine Education Initiative and will be connecting 620 primary schools in Nigeria to digital learning in the coming three months. This partnership is expected to benefit 300,000 students across the country with access to the internet and devices.

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According to UNICEF, “In the first year of the five-year partnership, Airtel and UNICEF will provide all the resources for digital learning to the 620 identified schools including reliable broadband connectivity and free access to a world class curriculum through the Nigeria Learning Passport (NLP)”.

Naijablitznews.com reports that NLP, developed by the Federal Ministry of Education, UNICEF, and Microsoft, is an e-learning platform with online and offline capability that enables continuous access to quality education.

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Airtel’s support will benefit students with uninterrupted access to quality learning materials. Airtel is also providing free access for any Airtel subscriber to Youth Agency Market Place (YOMA), a UNICEF digital platform for skilling, upskilling and encouraging young people’s engagement. Currently YOMA has 115,000 users in Nigeria. This number is expected to grow with Airtel support, especially for young people living in hard-to-reach areas with no to low access to data or connectivity.

In an MOU signing ceremony to flag-off the initiative today in Lagos, Airtel said “it has completed the process of providing free access to the two digital platforms for the targeted beneficiaries. Airtel has committed US$1.3m worth of complimentary data for the two platforms and data provision for learners in the first year alone”.

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Twenty schools in Lagos and Kano will be connected in December 2022, while the connection of the remaining 600 schools will be concluded before the end of February 2023.

Speaking at the launch, the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Airtel in Nigeria, Surendran Chemmenkotil, said, “Education, especially digital learning, forms a significant part of the company’s sustainability agenda for Nigeria and it will stop at nothing to bridge the huge digital gap that currently exists in mostly rural primary schools across the country.

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“With this programme and partnership, we are providing both world class education and digital inclusion for thousands of underprivileged children and our goal is to connect, empower and transform as many children and young people as possible. Education is power, and connectivity provides the leverage to become unstoppable. At Airtel, we are confident that this investment will not just transform lives but will create a wonderful future for millions of Nigerian children and young people”.

UNICEF Country Representative in Nigeria, Cristian Munduate said, “This is an important milestone and a step closer in reducing the digital divide in Nigeria. Quality digital learning is the fastest route to improving learning and equipping children and young people with the 21st century skills needed to fulfil their potential and to live their dreams. We are delighted that Airtel Nigeria shares UNICEF’s vision and will help in driving the process to scale-up access to digital learning for children and young people across these schools.”

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The Re-imagine education project is a five-year partnership between Airtel and UNICEF to help accelerate the roll-out of digital learning by connecting schools to the internet and ensuring free access to learning platforms across 13 countries. By providing equal access to quality digital learning, particularly for the most vulnerable children, the partnership will help to ensure that every child reaches his/her full potential.

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ECOWAS Ministers Hold 89th Ordinary Session to tackle Challenges Of The Region

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By Gloria Ikibah

The 89th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers have commenced in Abuja on Thursday, to discuss the mirage of issues confronting the sub-regions to come up with recommendations to be presented ECOWAS Heads of States.

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Chair of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers and Guinea Bissau’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Suzi Barbosa, said that the sub-region have been troubled by human and food insecurity, and incessant coup d’états, climate change and other issues.

Naijablitznews.com reports that the session will focus on strengthening governance and political stability in the sub-region, address food insecurity, terrorism and extremism among other challenges.

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The two-day session of the Council of ECOWAS Ministers seeks to come up with viable solutions which would be presented to the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of States and Government.

Barbosa said: “Similar to what has happened in other parts of the globe, the economies of the countries of our regional community have witnessed the regressive effects of the covid19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine-Rissia.

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“Through food crisis and scarcity of other products that constitute essential goods for our populations.

“Furthermore, our sub-region has been troubled by human insecurity and violent extremism, and more recently by new waves of coups d’état, guided by uncertain compromises.

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“Which represents elements of fragility of some Member States in implementing mechanisms that guarantee the sustainability of the values ​​of democracy and good governance.

“As a consequence, we are witnessing increasing situations of human poverty and vulnerabilities such as climate change, irregular rainfall, waves of internal displacement, forced migration, communities kidnapped by armed bandits, among others.

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“In response to the challenges for better economic cooperation and regional integration, several initiatives have been put into practice at the level of each member state, but also at the level of ECOWAS institutions, coordinated by the Commission.

“I Would you like to highlight the importance of 89th Session of the Council of Ministers, which coincides with an important moment for the implementation of reforms that can guarantee efficient functioning and the effective use of the scarce resources available.

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“In this way, we are invited to look at various projects, through various presentations of reports, and to assume the responsibility of agreeing on them the necessary guidelines in favor of the challenges we face.

“From the financial situation and fulfilment of our obligations through managing our resources and implementing infrastructure projects that catalyze economic growth and consequent human development.

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For Nigeria’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Zubairu Dada, the Ordinary session of the Council of Ministers remains a veritable platform for reviewing the programmes of ECOWAS and brainstorming on, thematic issues of the region.

Dada said that the Session also creates a platform for providing substantive advice to our Heads of State and Government on the best way to advance our collective aspiration of an ECOWAS of the people.

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“Indeed, this year’s agenda is robust, which is a testament to the commitment of ECOWAS Institutions and Member States to the integration and developmental goals of our sub-region.

“At this August gathering, we will consider like we did in the past, several issues affecting critical areas of the Community through reports and memoranda on our agenda.

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“As an assembly of stakeholders with a collective responsibility of deciding on matters relating to integration and development in our region.

“It behoves on us to discuss all items on our agenda with open mind in order to find solutions to the numerous challenges threatening our region,” he asserted.

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President of the ECOWAS Commission, Omar Touray said that the new management of the ECOWAS Commission is committed to delivering institutional reforms, restoring constitutional rule to Mali, Guinea and Burkina-Faso and progrmammes that will impact on West-African Citizens.

“Our management team assumed duty within a context of institutional reforms and important developments in the region and the world.

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“The size of the Commission has been reduced as part of the institutional reforms, but the work of realigning the new structures and improving the processes and procedures of the Organisation is just starting.

“With this also is the task of ensuring that the programmes and projects of ECOWAS are redesigned to ensure higher impact on the lives of the Community citizens and also foster close cooperation among member states and economic integration of the sub region.

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“While working on repositioning our Community institutions, we also have the task of continuing with efforts to restore constitutionalism in Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea and to halt the reversals of democracy in the region through instituting a stronger regime against all forms of anti-constitutional changes of government.

“On the other hand, we have terrorism and violent extremism that persists in our region and threaten to spread from the Sahel to the coastal states.

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“In this regard, ECOWAS is required to pool together different initiatives in the sub region and coordinate the effective implementation of its regional action plan against terrorism,” Touray said.

Naijaitznews.com reports that statutory appointees of ECOWAS Institutions; the new management of the ECOWAS Commission, Heads of ECOWAS institutions also took their oath of office before the Judge of the ECOWAS Court of Justice.

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Kate Middleton, Prince William’s guests turn down invites as race row erupts

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By Doosuur Iwambe

Kate Middleton and Prince William started their US tour with an Earthshot Prize event in Boston on Wednesday, but the two main guests cancelled their attendance last minute as a royal race row erupts back at Buckingham Palace.

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Secretary John Kerry, the presidential climate envoy, and Caroline Kennedy, the current US Ambassador to Australia, reportedly reached out to the Prince and Princess of Wales to confirm their absence just moments before they kicked off the event upon their arrival in Boston on Wednesday evening.

The Daily Mail reported that Kerry informed Prince William and Kate that he would ‘sadly no longer be able to attend’, but did not offer a reason for his decision to pull out.

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Meanwhile, Kennedy cited ‘disrupted travel plans’ due to harsh weather for not being able to make it.

The cancellations came just after Prince William’s godmother, Lady Susan Hussey, resigned from Buckingham Palace after being accused of making racist comments at a recent royal event hosted by Queen Consort Camilla.

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Even as William and Kate arrived in the US, they were swift to offer an official statement condemning Lady Hussey’s comments, with a spokesperson saying: “This is a matter for Buckingham Palace but as the Prince of Wales’. spokesperson, I appreciate you’re all here and understand you’ll want to ask about it. So let me address it head-on.”

“I was really disappointed to hear about the guests experience at Buckingham Palace last night. Obviously, I wasn’t there, but racism has no place in our society.

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The comments were unacceptable, and it is right that the individual has stepped aside with immediate effect.”

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