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China denies report it hacked African Union headquarters

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…As Russian fighter intercepts U.S. reconnaissance plane over Black Sea***

China and the African Union on Monday dismissed a report in French Media which said that Beijing had bugged the regional bloc’s headquarters in the Ethiopian capital.

An article published Friday in Le Monde, quoting anonymous AU sources, reported that data from computers in the Chinese-built building had been transferred nightly to Chinese servers for five years.

After the massive hack was discovered a year ago, the building’s IT system including servers was changed, according to the Media.

During a sweep for bugs after the discovery, microphones hidden in desks and the walls were also detected and removed, the newspaper reported.

The 200 million dollars headquarters was fully funded and built by China and opened to great fanfare in 2012. It was seen as a symbol of Beijing’s thrust for influence in Africa, and access to the continent’s natural resources.

As in the Ethiopian capital, China’s investments in road and rail infrastructure are highly visible across the continent.

At a 2015 summit in South Africa, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged 60 billion dollars in aid and investment to the continent, saying it would continue to build roads, railways and ports.

Chinese and African officials gathered in Addis Ababa for the bloc’s annual summit both denied the Media’s report.

China’s ambassador to the AU, Kuang Weilin, called the article “ridiculous and preposterous” and said its publication was intended to put pressure on relations between Beijing and the continent.

“China-Africa relations have brought about benefits and a lot of opportunities. Africans are happy with it. Others are not.”

Asked who, he said: “People in the West. They are not used to it and they are simply not comfortable with this.”

Asked about the report, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who assumed the African Union chairmanship this year, said he did not know anything about it.

“But, in any case, I don’t think there is anything done here that we would not like people to know,” he told reporters after a meeting of African heads of state.

“I don’t think spying is the speciality of the Chinese. We have spies all over the place in this world,” Kagame said. “But I will not have been worried about being spied on in this building.”

His only concern, he said, was that the AU should have built its own headquarters, instead of China.

“I would only have wished that in Africa we had got our act together earlier on. We should have been able to build our own building.”

In the meantime, a Russian fighter jet intercepted a U.S. reconnaissance plane near the Black Sea on Monday, both countries said, but that was all they agreed on.

The U.S. Navy said its EP-3 Aries plane was flying over the Black Sea in international airspace when it was intercepted by a Russian Sukhov SU-27fighter jet.

Millitary officials said the Russian pilot flew in an “unsafe” manner, tracking the U.S. plane for more than 2½ hours — and at one point coming within 5 feet of the U.S. plane.

The Russian jet crossed “directly through the EP-3’s flight path, causing the EP-3 to fly through the SU-27’s jet wash [wake turbulence],” the Navy alleged.

“The Russian military is within its right to operate within international airspace, but they must behave within international standards set to ensure safety and prevent incidents,” it said.

But the Russian Defense Ministry gave a sharply different account: The U.S. plane was getting close to Russian airspace, it said, and its pilot approached at a safe distance.

“The crew of the fighter followed [the U.S. plane], avoiding the violation of the airspace of the Russian Federation with observance of all necessary security measures,” the Defense Ministry said. “After the spy plane of the U.S. Navy changed the flight path from the airspace of the Russian Federation, the Russian SU-27 fighter returned to the airfield.”

Russia insisted that the interception “took place in strict accordance with international rules of airspace use.”

The EP-3 Aries series of planes, the Navy’s only land-based reconnaissance aircraft, uses a wide range of equipment to detect electronic transmission from deep within targeted territories, allowing it to pick up signals intelligence far inland even when it is flying offshore, according to U.S. Naval Air Systems Command. The nimble Sukhoi SU series is Russia’s advanced twin-engine fighter jet, roughly equivalent to the U.S. F-15 Eagle.

Additional report from NBC

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NPA: Dantsoho Pledges To Reposition For Increased Productivity, Efficiency, And Revenue Generation

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… Assures timely payment of emoluments, compensations, training and capacity development

Groomed through the ranks and thus, better informed, the new Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Dr Abubakar Dantsoho has pledged to reposition the Authority for increased productivity, greater operational efficiency and increased revenue generation.

Dantsoho pledged during the handover ceremony which took place at the conference room Headquarters, Marina Lagos. He has since resumed duty at the Headquarters in Marina.

 “As we match towards this great journey, I wish to state that our main goal is to reposition the Nigerian Ports Authority for increased productivity and greater efficiency for increased revenue generation”, Dr Dantsoho said, expressing his deep appreciation to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, for the opportunity given to him to be the 29th Managing Director of NPA.

The Chief Executive Officer of the nation’s Seaports affirmed his commitment to ensuring that the Nigerian Ports compete favourably with neighbouring ports, especially in areas of Port operations.

 This he stated would be achieved through the robust exhibition of the overall commitment and collaboration to achieving success.

Speaking like an administrator who truly feels the pains of staff neglect, Dantsoho stressed that he is committed to improving the welfare of the workforce through the timely payment of emoluments, compensations, training and capacity development especially for employees who show added value in their areas of deployment.

The NPA Boss promised to continue with the digital transformation of the Authority and the Port Community system which are key to blocking leakages and corruption while promising to explore ways of further improving Port infrastructural renewal. 

‘’In particular, we shall drive port rehabilitation and modernisation. We shall pay attention to logistics that surround the arrival of cargo to the port corridor, loading of ships and other things that surround berthing of cargos,’’ he said, assuring that he would further tap into the benefits of the Deep Seaport corridor as well as promote the ideals of Transparency for Ease of Doing Business. 

In the area of collaboration with sister agencies, Dr. Abubakar stated that he would maintain an open door for communication and collaboration with sister agencies and all relevant stakeholders.

He equally congratulated the former Managing Director, Mohammed Bello Koko and his team, for their invaluable contributions to the industry. 

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Echoes from CGC Adeniyi Reactivates CMAA With US Customs & Border Protection

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Bilateral Boost: CGC Adeniyi Reactivates CMAA With US Customs & Border Protection

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Bilateral Boost: CGC Adeniyi Reactivates CMAA With US Customs & Border Protection

…To effectively enhance national security, Better Service Delivery through Global Partnerships

The Comptroller-General of Customs (CGC) Bashir Adewale Adeniyi, On Thursday, July 18, 2024, took a significant step in strengthening global partnerships by participating in a bilateral meeting with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in Washington, D.C. 

Determined to revive the over-a-decade-old Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement (CMAA) and subsequently enhance national security service delivery through global collaborations and data-driven decision-making, the Comptroller General of Customs CGC, Adewale Adeniyi last week participated in a bilateral meeting with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in Washington, D.C. 

The gains of the meeting which was held Thursday, July 18, 2024, aside from offering a significant step in strengthening global partnerships, will also help Nigeria address the challenges of cross-border crimes, particularly drug trafficking, arms smuggling, and money laundering, each of which dovetails on boosting national security. 

“Reviving the CMAA will bolster the Nigeria Customs Service’s capacity to protect the nation’s borders and enhance service delivery, paving the way for a more secure and prosperous future for all Nigerians”, the CGC, Adeniyi emphasized, highlighting the successful interception of illegal items, which includes drugs and weapons, at major ports and airports in Nigeria. 

Also Read: Echoes from CGC Adeniyi Reactivates CMAA With US Customs & Border Protection

He then stressed the need for increased capacity building to tackle Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) enforcement and opiate issues. 

“Our efforts at the ports and airports have yielded significant results, but there is still much to be done in capacity building and enforcement,” the highly informed Customs Arrowhead said.

Adeniyi underscored the importance of a  Center for Advanced Cargo and Passenger Data Analysis to mitigate risks; and the need for such a centre to enhance cargo and passenger security, while pointing out the success of prosecuting wildlife criminals.  

Additionally, he advocated for an advanced Command and Control Centre (3C) to address security concerns.

 “A dedicated targeting data fusion centre will significantly improve our ability to manage risks and enhance security measures,” Adeniyi explained, adding: 

 

“By customising our approaches and collaborating globally, we can address the complexities of air cargo security more effectively,” he remarked.

The meeting diligently covered the challenges of commercial air cargo security and potential partnerships with U.S. government agencies.

Adeniyi highlighted the importance of future operations, including CBP’s global targeting advisory directors and their capabilities in information sharing on cargo and passenger sides.

In his reaction, James Collins, Assistant Commissioner of the Office of International Affairs at U.S. Customs and Border Protection, emphasised data integration, partnerships, and targeted efforts to address transnational criminal groups exploiting seams and boundaries. 

“Integration of data and international cooperation is crucial in countering transnational threats”, James Collins stated and highlighted the importance of collaboration and information sharing in border security and intelligence gathering. 

He stressed the need for investing in capacity building, train-the-trainer programs, and targeted training to address gaps in border security.

 Collins stressed the need for secure channels for sharing intelligence and building partnerships with international organisations to sustain efforts in combating illicit trade and traffic. 

“Continuous training and secure intelligence sharing are vital to our success in maintaining border security,” Collins also noted.

Key action items identified include establishing specific channels for continued intelligence sharing between Nigeria Customs and CBP, exploring operational partnerships between Nigeria Customs units and networks like CBP to coordinate cross-border responses, leveraging INTERPOL programs and collaborating with other West and Central African countries on transnational crimes.

The meeting concluded with a presentation on Artificial Intelligence by Sunil Madhugri from the Office of Information and Technology, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, highlighting the future of technology in enhancing customs operations and security.

 “Artificial intelligence will play a pivotal role in our strategy to modernise and secure our borders,” Madhugri said.

In a related event, CGC Bashir Adewale Adeniyi visited the Nigerian Embassy in the USA, where he was received by Mr. Rabiu Lawal, Charge d’Affaires a.i, and his team.

 The CGC appreciated them for their warm reception and their tireless efforts for all the Nigerians in the diaspora.

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