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One dead, hundreds injured as riots sweep New Caledonia

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By Francesca Hangeior

One person was killed, hundreds more were injured, shops were looted and public buildings torched during a second night of rioting in New Caledonia, authorities said Wednesday, as anger over constitutional reforms from Paris boiled over.

What began as pro-independence demonstrations have spiralled into three days of the worst violence seen on the French Pacific archipelago since the 1980s.

Despite heavily armed security forces fanning out across the capital Noumea and the ordering of a nighttime curfew, rioting continued overnight Tuesday virtually unabated.

Hundreds of people including “around 100” police and gendarmes have been injured in the unrest, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on Wednesday in Paris.

One person had been shot dead overnight but authorities were yet to establish the circumstances that led to the incident, Darmanin said, adding that dozens of homes and businesses had been torched.

In Noumea and the commune of Paita there were reports of several exchanges of fire between civil defence groups and rioters.

On Wednesday, streets in the capital were pocked by the shells of burned-out cars and buildings, including a sports store and a large concrete climbing wall.

“Numerous arsons and pillaging of shops, infrastructure and public buildings — including primary and secondary schools — were carried out,” said the High Commission, which represents Paris in the islands.

Security forces had managed to regain control of Noumea’s penitentiary, which holds about 50 inmates, after an uprising and escape attempt by prisoners, it said in a statement.

Police have arrested more than 130 people since the riots broke out Monday night, with dozens placed in detention to face court hearings, the commission said.

The territory’s La Tontouta International Airport remained closed to commercial flights and people were urged to restrict any travel during the day, the high commission said.

As rioters took to the streets, France’s lower house of parliament 17,000 kilometres (10,600 miles) awayvoted in favour of a constitutional change bitterly opposed by indigenous Kanaks.

The reform — which must still be approved by a joint sitting of both houses of the French parliament — would give a vote to people who have lived in New Caledonia for 10 years.

Pro-independence forces say it would dilute the share of the vote held by Kanaks, the Indigenous group that makes up about 41 percent of the population and the major force in the pro-independence movement.

French President Emmanuel Macron urged calm in a letter to the territory’s representatives, calling on them to “unambiguously condemn” the “disgraceful and unacceptable” violence.

Macron said French lawmakers would vote to definitively adopt the constitutional change by the end of June unless New Caledonia’s opposing sides agree on a new text that “takes into account the progress made and everyone’s aspirations”.

The French leader has been seeking to reassert his country’s importance in the Pacific region, where China and the United States are vying for influence.

Lying between Australia and Fiji, New Caledonia is one of several French territories spanning the globe from the Caribbean and Indian Ocean to the Pacific in the post-colonial era.

In the Noumea Accord of 1998, France vowed to gradually give more political power to the Pacific island territory of nearly 300,000 people.

As part of the agreement, New Caledonia has held three referendums over its ties with France, all rejecting independence.

But the independence movement retains support, particularly among the Indigenous Kanak people.

The Noumea Accord has also meant that New Caledonia’s voter lists have not been updated since 1998 — depriving island residents who arrived from mainland France or elsewhere since then of a vote in provincial polls.

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ARISE NEWS MANAGING EDITOR’S DAUGHTER BAGS MASTERS FROM HARVARD UNIVERSITY

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By Kayode Sanni-Arewa

The daughter of Arise News Managing Editor, Christian Ogodo, was among graduands who bagged various degrees from the prestigious Havard University in the United States.

Oghenetega Steffi Eberechukwu Ogodo, was conferred with a masters degree in Urban Planning of the Graduate School of Design of Harvard University on 23rd May, 2024.

Tega was also a Bloemberg Leadership Fellow, who did her industrial training with the Rochester City Council in New York, while her field work had the theme: “People must feed,” postulating that there must be decent and nutritious food even for the downtrodden people in society.

Tega is a graduate of the University of Lagos with a Second Class Honours [Upper Division] from the Faculty of Environmental Sciences, majoring in Urban and Regional Planning.

She is the daughter of Nigeria’s foremost News Anchor on Arise News on WEEKEND NEWSNIGHT, Christian Ogodo, who is the Managing Editor of Arise News Media Group.

She is currently working with an engineering consulting firm in Chicago that specialises in logistics.

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National Anthem: Nigeria switches from fatherland to motherland

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By Francesca Hangeior

The Federal Republic of Nigeria, today, officially reverted to the National Anthem that heralded its independence as a sovereign Nation.

President Bola Tinubu, after he met a joint session of the National Assembly, signed into law, the adoption of the old National Anthem, “Nigeria, We Hail Thee.”

“Nigeria, We Hail Thee” was adopted as Nigeria’s first national anthem on October 1, 1960.

The anthem’s lyrics were written by Lillian Jean Williams, a British expatriate who lived in Nigeria when it achieved independence.

Frances Berda composed the music for “Nigeria, We Hail Thee.”

However, the second national anthem, “Arise, O Compatriots,” was adopted in 1978.

The lyrics of the now jettisoned anthem were a combination of words and phrases taken from five of the best entries in a national contest.

The words were put to music by the Nigerian Police Band under the directorship of Benedict P. Odiase (1934–2013).

The Nigerian national anthem lyrics were created by five people: P. O. Aderibigbe, John A. Ilechukwu, Dr. Sota Omoigui, Eme tim Akpan and B.A. Ogunnaike.

With the return to the old anthem, Nigeria officially switched from a ‘Fatherland’ to a ‘Motherland’.

Hereunder are the Three Stanzas of the old but now new National Anthem:

1. Nigeria we hail thee,
Our own dear native land,
Though tribe and tongue may differ,
In brotherhood we stand,
Nigerians all, and proud to serve
Our sovereign Motherland.

2. Our flag shall be a symbol
That truth and justice reign,
In peace or battle honour’d,
And this we count as gain,
To hand on to our children
A banner without stain.

3. O God of all creation,
Grant this our one request,
Help us to build a nation
Where no man is oppressed,
And so with peace and plenty
Nigeria may be blessed.

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BREAKING! Tinubu extends Abuja free train ride for six months

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President Bola Tinubu has approved the extension of free train rides on the Abuja Rail Mass Transit, also called the Metro Rail, for the next six months until the end of the year.

The FCT Minister, Nyesom Wike, had announced free train rides for two months, to ease the burden of commuting for residents of the FCT.

Tinubu gave the approval during his address at the inauguration of the commencement of operations of the Abuja metro rail in Abuja on Wednesday, May 29.

The president appealed for the extension to offer hope to the people of the FCT and give them reasons to celebrate.

“Our dear landlord and his team, I heard you saying two months free ride. I appeal to you to make it till the end of the year. Since today you’re not going to charge me, that will give the people hope and reasons to celebrate,” Tinubu said.

Details shortly…

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