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AU calls for comprehensive approach to combat terrorism



…As UN says hunger intensifies in 9 African countries, others***

African Union’s Peace and Security Council has called for a comprehensive approach to combat transnational threat of terrorism in Africa.

The call came as the UN laments biting hunger, due to lack of access to adequate food in nine African countries, amongst others, following growing acts of terrorism.

A statement by Spokesman of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr Tope Elias-Fatile, on Tuesday in Abuja, said that the council made the call in a communiqué at the end of its 749th meeting in Ethiopia.

The meeting was held at the level of Heads of State and Government, on the sidelines of the 30th AU Summit in Addis Ababa.

The council condemned all terrorist acts, methods, practices and incitements, regardless of the pretext under which they were committed.

It reiterated its strong displeasure over violent extremist ideologies and narratives, and recognised the integral role of the phenomena in the execution of terrorist acts.

The council noted with deep concern, the immense threats to peace and security as a result of upsurge of terrorism, violent extremism and radicalisation in Africa.

It also underscored AU’s continued commitment to “inclusive approaches and African ownership within the context of African solutions to the problems plaguing the continent’’.

It underlined Africa’s commitment to international counter-terrorism regime as outlined by relevant OAU/AU treaties and conventions, UN Security Council resolutions and the UN Global Counter-terrorism strategy.

The council encouraged member-states to develop their own comprehensive national counter-terrorism strategies focusing on prevention as well as on timely and swift responses to terrorist acts.

It urged the members to adopt holistic approaches in addressing root causes of terrorism, violent extremism and radicalization, focusing attention to the plight of the youth and marginalized sections of society.

It stressed the importance of coordination and complementary efforts among member-states and all relevant regional and international actors in preventing and countering terrorism, violent extremism and radicalization.

The council also stressed the importance of inter-regional continental and international forums of cooperation in the prevention and combating of terrorism.

It called for constructive engagement of a broad range of actors in the fight against terrorism, violent extremism and radicalization.

It expressed deep concern over the threat posed by the return of Foreign Terrorist Fighters from conflict zones outside the continent.

In this regard, the council requested the AU Commission and partners to sustain assistance to member-states in building and further strengthening national capacities in order to enable them to more effectively deal with threats.

It urged members to take measures to dry up the flow of terrorism financing by cutting the links between terrorist organizations and organized crime, including trafficking, smuggling and illicit trade.

Meanwhile, food insecurity, or lack of access to enough food, continues to worsen in 16 countries, nine of them in Africa are torn by conflict, UN agencies have reported.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) highlighted the extremely critical importance of humanitarian support for affected countries.

The agencies listed the countries monitored to include Burundi, the Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan.

The others are Afghanistan, Haiti, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen.

The countries are classified as most affected by acute hunger.

Conflict is a common factor undermining food security in all 16 countries covered in the report, which formed part of the bi-annual briefings to the UN Security Council on food security.

According to the report, the intensification of conflicts is a key reason behind the recent resurgence of world hunger levels, following decades of steady declines.

Among them, Yemen, South Sudan, Syria, Lebanon, CAR, Ukraine, Afghanistan, and Somalia have a quarter or more of the population facing crisis or emergency levels of hunger.

In Yemen, 60 per cent of the population, or 17 million people, are affected by acute hunger.

These figures are 45 per cent, or 4.8 million, in South Sudan, 33 per cent, or 6.5 million, in Syria, and 33 per cent, or 1.9 million, in Lebanon – a country hosting large numbers of Syrian refugees.

But these are far from being the only countries flagged as cause for concern.

In the DRC, where serious food security concerns have been overshadowed by crises in other parts of Africa, the situation is rapidly deteriorating, the report warns.

There, 11 per cent of the population is now in the crisis phase or above, adding up to 7.7 million people who are coping with acute hunger.

In Sudan, 3.8 million people are in the crisis phase or above, in Iraq, that figure is 3.2 million while in the Lake Chad basin, the number is 2.9 million people.

In Burundi and Haiti, it is 1.8 and 1.3 million, respectively.

According to data, the number of hungry people worldwide rose to 815 million people in 2016, up from 777 million the year before.

The report stated that majority of the hungry, or 489 million people, live in countries wracked by conflict.


Customs Intercepts 414 Sacks Of Donkey Skin, Contraband worth N71.2m



The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Kebbi Command, says it has intercepted a truck loaded with 414 sacks of donkey meat and skins along the Bunza-Kamba axis of the state.

Dr Ben Oramalugo, the Customs Area Controller, made this known while briefing newsmen on the command’s activities, in Birnin Kebbi on Friday.

He said that the seizure of the donkey skin and meat was among the 17 smuggled items intercepted by the command between April 15 and May 15.

“Notably, on Sunday, May 14, following an intelligence report on prohibited items about to be smuggled out of the country through Bunza down to Maje axis, we detailed our officers to increase surveillance along the said routes.

“And through stop-and-search, the officers were able to intercept a truck loaded with 414 sacks of donkey skin and meat along Bunza-Kamba Axis.”

He added that among other items seized were two Toyota Camry 2013 and two Honda Jazz 2005.

Others are, 55 bales of secondhand clothes, 4,925 liters of PMS, 13 bags of foreign parboiled rice, five kegs of vegetable oil, a Volvo truck and one Toyota Corolla used for smuggling items, among others.

“The Duty Paid Value of the seized items is N71.2 million.

“All these successes have been achieved through constant vigilance and intelligence gathering by the officers and men of the command,” he said.

Oramalugo also revealed that the command was able to generate N127.3 million in the month of April.

“This is as a result of the efforts we put in place through routine stakeholders’ engagements and applying advice received from community leaders and indigenous retired and serving security personnel, among others.”

Oramalugo commended patriotic citizens, eminent personalities, host communities, and other stakeholders for providing useful information and advice.

“We appreciate our sister agencies for their prompt intervention when we seek reinforcement,” the controller said.

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Guinness World Record: Akande-Sadipe commends chef Baci; Betara lauds Bassey’s Determination



A female House of Representatives member, Tolulope Akande-Sadipe, has commended Hilda Bassey, popularly known as Hilda Baci, a Nigerian chef, who has set her eyes on breaking the Guinness World Record of longest cooking time.

Bassey targets 93 hours cooking marathon after spending over 83 hours showcasing her culinary skills before a live audience.

Akande-Sadipe, a federal lawmaker representing Oluyole Federal Constituency in Oyo State, took to her social media handles to cheer the “foodpreneur“ and actress, describing her as a brave champion.

Akande-Sadipe, showcasing her unwavering support for the brave chef, said her determination and incredible endurance were a testament to the remarkable strength and resilience that women possess.

“You have become a shining example of what women are truly capable of achieving.

“Your dedication to this extraordinary challenge inspires us all and reminds us that there are no limits to what we can accomplish when we set our minds to it.

“Your commitment to pushing boundaries and surpassing expectations is truly commendable”, she said.

Akande-Sadipe urged women to continue cheering Bassey and wish her success.

“I take this moment of Bassey’s determination to encourage every woman out there to celebrate and uplift her pursuit of this world record”.

“Let us join together in recognising her remarkable achievements and the milestones she has already conquered.

“Bassey’s journey is not only about breaking records but also about empowering women across the globe, showcasing our talents, prowess, strength and resilience,’’ Akande-Sadipe said.

She affirmed her support for Bassey, saying she was proud to see a woman making a significant impact in society.

“As a woman myself and in my capacity as a member of parliament and the chairman of the House Committee on Diaspora, I stand firmly behind you.

“I am proud to see a fellow Nigerian woman making such a significant impact. Your determination serves as an inspiration to countless others, demonstrating that with dedication and perseverance, dreams become reality.

“Know that my thoughts and prayers are with you every step of the way as you continue this incredible feat.

“May your spirit remain strong, and may you find renewed energy during your well-deserved six-hour break”, she said.

She expressed hopes that the chef will make more history and achieve her dream of setting a new Guinness record.

Hilda Bassey: Guinness World Record Holder

“Once again, I celebrate you, Bassey. Your journey is a beacon of hope and empowerment for women everywhere. Keep pushing boundaries, inspiring others, and reminding the world of the incredible power we possess”.

In a related development, Rep. Muktar Betara (APC-Borno) also congratulated Nigerian chef, Ms. Hilda Bassey for setting a new Guinness World Record for the longest cooking marathon by an individual.

In a statement on Monday, Betara, a leading aspirant for the Speaker of the 10th Assembly said, Bassey, popularly known as Hilda Baci, demonstrated the Nigerian spirit.

The chef had on Monday, smashed the 87 hours 45 minutes record set by now-former Guinness World Record holder, Ms Lata Tondon.

Betara rejoiced with the new champion for the courage to aspire and to put Nigeria on the global map for the right reasons.

“The true Nigerian spirit is always seen in our passion, determination and quest to be positively outstanding in our fields of endeavors.

“I celebrate Hilda Baci for such courage to pick up the challenge to break the Guinness World Record for the longest cooking marathon by an individual,” he said.

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Prince Harry Joins Royals At King Charles’ Coronation, Without Meghan



Prince Harry, the younger son of King Charles III, attended his father’s coronation in Westminster Abbey on Saturday although he had to settle for a third-row seat behind other members of the royal family.

It had been unclear until early April whether Harry, who now lives in California, would attend the historic occasion following a falling out with his family.

In his book “Spare”, published in January, he criticizes his father, his stepmother Queen Camilla, and his brother Prince William.

Harry, 38, was smiling as he arrived at the abbey dressed in a morning suit and with medals on his chest. The prince is an army veteran who served in Afghanistan.

He nodded to members of the congregation as he joined the heads of state, dignitaries, and representatives of the arts, military, charities, and sport inside the Abbey.

But there was no formal role for him and he sat in the third row behind working members of the royal family, alongside his disgraced uncle Prince Andrew, who was forced to quit royal duties because of his friendship with late U.S. financier Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted sex offender.

Harry, who is the Duke of Sussex, said last month he would attend without his wife Meghan and two young children, who remained in the United States. His eldest child Archie was celebrating his fourth birthday on Saturday.

Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex was part of the congregation as his father King Charles III was crowned at Westminster Abbey.

Harry was once one of the most popular members of the royal family and his wedding to Meghan, a U.S. actor, at Windsor Castle in May 2018 was a grand affair which drew enthusiastic crowds.

But his decision to quit royal duties and the rift with his family has divided public opinion.

Lisa Penny, 53, a supermarket worker from Dorset who was among the crowd in London on Saturday, said: “I think he’s done a fair amount of damage and I think they need a bit of time to get over that. I’m pleased he is here for his father.”

It would be difficult to picture Harry and Meghan on the balcony of Buckingham Palace with King Charles and other members of the royal family, she said.

It was not yet known if he would make a balcony appearance.

“He’ll always be a Prince Harry to many people but for the other royal titles, no (he shouldn’t keep them).

He’s not a royal anymore, he doesn’t do any duties, he doesn’t live in the country,” she said.

Jacqueline Brown, 28, a museum caretaker who had come from Missouri in the United States to witness the events, was still pleased to see him there.

“He’s the king’s son, he should be here to support him. It’s nice he’s doing that despite everything,” she said. 

– Reuters

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