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Gunmen kill unspecified number of worshipers at Mosque, abduct 7 others in Niger



Gunmen abduct traditional ruler in Plateau

… As NDLEA trains 143 personnel on counter terrorism in Kaduna***

The Police Command in Niger said gunmen had killed an unspecified number of people while observing early morning prayers at a Mosque at Mazakuka village in Mashegu Local Government Area of the state.

The Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr Monday Kuryas, who disclosed this to the newsmen in Minna on Monday, said the hoodlums also abducted seven other worshipers at the mosque.

Kuryas said the incident occurred on Oct. 25 at about 0530 hours when the gunmen attacked the village.

He said the gunmen later destroyed property worth millions of Naira belonging to one Alhaji Abubakar Maigandus in the village.

He said security personnel, however, shot dead one of the bandits.

The commissioner said that the incident was understood to be a reprisal attack resulting from a long standing communal feud.

He said that already additional armed security personnel had since been deployed to the area to ensure the arrest of the gunmen and all other miscreants undermining the peaceful coexistence among residents.

Also read: Gunmen abduct 13 passengers in Niger

He urged the residents, especially those in the rural areas of the state, to come forward with reliable information that could aid the personnel deployed across the state to ensure the arrest and prosecution of all those involved in criminal acts.

” We are battle-ready to confront any form of criminal elements as long as good residents will volunteer credible information on the movement of dubious characters in their midst,” Kuryas said.

In another development, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), on Monday, completed a two-week training on Counter-Terrorism for 143 personnel at the Nigerian Army School of Infantry (NASI) in Jaji, Kaduna state.

Addressing the graduands, the NDLEA Chairman, (Rtd) Brig.-Gen. Muhammad Marwa, said the choice of the venue was informed by the need to acquaint the trainees with the rudiments and complexities of combating drugs in various terrains across the country.

Marwa who noted that the training was the first of its kind, explained that it would be a valuable addition to the agency, particularly in warfare operations.

“The training is aimed at preparing agents of the NDLEA towards handling more complex challenges which have characterised the contemporary drug world.

“My plan is for the personnel to grow into a formidable force that can operate in forests, swaps, cities and everywhere in the country.

“We have lost much personnel in the last 15 years. We have lost 188 officers in the line of duty and I know that the training here will better prepare us to face challenges ahead

“We will arm and equip them and provide them with all the necessities of work and we will try to always be two steps ahead of drug barons and peddlers,” he said.

Marwa warned drug traffickers and barons to quit the illegal business and engage in other legitimate means of livelihood, adding that if they persist, they would surely be arrested.

“The strike force personnel we have just trained here is just a tip of the spear.

“They are readily prepared to be deployed in forests where hemps are cultivated, the cities, workplaces swaps, drylands and everywhere,” he said.

While commending the Chief of Army Staff for approving the venue, the NDLEA chief urged the graduand to exhibit a high sense of discipline and professionalism in the discharge of their responsibilities.

Earlier the Commandant of NASI, Maj.-Gen. Maude Gadzama said the two-week course involved intensive training in weapon handling and counter-terrorism operations.

Gadzama, who emphasised the relevance of the course, noted that he noted that the activities of the drug barons had continued to threaten global peace and security, adding that “Nigeria is not immuned”.

He assured that the training has exposed the NDLEA personnel to the basic tenets, techniques and requisite skills of dealing with special operations.

“Acts of terrorism and insurgency, as well as the challenges presented by political unrest and a growing trend of criminal elements, are all attributed to the activities of drug peddlers.

“The need to secure the populace and national resources has, therefore, spurred the NDLEA to invest in specialised training in order to effectively deal with the challenges,” he said.

He congratulated the graduands and urged them not to rest on their oars but continue to strive harder in their future endeavours.

The newsmen report that the personnel had been trained in weapon handling, VIP protection, venue security, counter-terrorism, ambush drills, rappelling, house clearing, cordon and search among other special operations.


Health and Safety

650 migrants reach Italy by boat, 190 rescued



650 migrants reach Italy by boat, 190 rescued

 About 650 migrants reached the Italian coast in a fishing boat, the latest in increasing attempts to reach the country.

The boat which was about 30 metres long and overloaded, arrived in the southern town of Roccella Ionica, the Italian news agency ANSA reported on Monday.

The report said the boat departed from Libya and its passengers had been travelling for five days.

The passengers were all men who came from Syria, Pakistan, Egypt and Bangladesh, ANSA said.

They reached the Calabrian town unaided, without the involvement of the coast guard or civilian sea rescuers.

Thousands of people arrived in Italy over the weekend. Dozens of others died in the attempt or went missing because their boats capsized.

Meanwhile, the aid organisation Doctors Without Borders brought 190 Mediterranean migrants ashore to the southern Italian city of Bari.

The group’s Geo Barents vessel reached the port on the Adriatic coast previously assigned by Italian authorities late on Sunday afternoon, it said.

The ship picked up people on Friday from an unseaworthy wooden boat, including several unaccompanied minors.

However, many people repeatedly try to reach Lampedusa, Malta, Sicily or the Italian mainland by boats from Tunisia and Libya, crossing the central Mediterranean Sea in a potentially deadly journey.

According to official figures, Italy has already registered more than 21,000 boat migrants since the beginning of January, or more than three times the number of migrants seen in each of the two previous years, when about 6,000 per year arrived.

– dpa

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Health and Safety

African migrants stuck in Tunisia say racism persists, following weeks of crackdown



African migrants stuck in Tunisia say racism persists, following weeks of crackdown

African Migrants in Tunisia have urged their government to evacuate them, saying the country is no longer safe as racism still persists.

Outside the United Nations refugee agency in Tunis, dozens of African migrants stood protesting this week in the temporary camp where they have lived, including with children, since authorities urged landlords to force them from their homes.

Weeks after a violent crackdown on migrants in Tunisia that triggered a perilous rush to leave by smuggler boats for Italy, many African nationals are still homeless and jobless and some say they still face racist attacks.

“We need evacuation. Tunisia is not safe. No one has a future here when you have this colour. It is a crime to have this colour,” said Josephus Thomas, pointing to the skin on his forearm.

In announcing the crackdown on Feb. 21, President Kais Saied said illegal immigration was a criminal conspiracy to change Tunisia’s demography, language the African Union described as “racialised hate speech”.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Barbara Leaf told Reuters on Thursday that Saied’s comments had unleashed “attacks and a tidal wave of racist rhetoric”, with rights groups saying hundreds of migrants reported being attacked or insulted.

Saied and Tunisia’s foreign minister have rejected accusations that he or the government is racist and they announced steps to ease visa regulations for Africans and reminded police of anti-racism laws.

While the official crackdown appeared to end weeks ago, migrants say they still face abuse.

“People told me ‘since you are in our country after the president’s speech, don’t you have any dignity?’ I kept silent and they told me I am dirt,” said Awadhya Hasan Amine, a Sudanese refugee outside the UNHCR headquarters in Tunis.

Amine has lived in Tunis for five years after fleeing Sudan and then Libya with her husband. Now 30, she has been living on the street outside the UNHCR headquarters since local people pelted her house in the capital’s Road district with rocks.

“We want to live in a place of safety, stability and peace. We don’t want problems in Tunisia,” she said.

Although some West African countries evacuated hundreds of their citizens earlier this month, many remain stuck in Tunisia, unable to support themselves let alone afford passage home or pay smugglers hundreds of dollars to ferry them to Europe.

“Tunisia is an African country. Why do they do racist things to us?” said Moumin Sou, from Mali, who was sacked from his job working behind a bar after the president’s speech and was beaten up the next day by a man in the street who stole his money.

Sou wants to return home, he said, but many others are determined to travel on to Europe.

In the wake of the crackdown, in which police detained hundreds of undocumented migrants and authorities urged employers to lay them off and landlords to evict them, smuggler crossings to Italy have surged.

Tunisian National Guard official Houssem Jbeli said on Wednesday that the coast guard had stopped 30 boats carrying more than 2,000 people. On the same day and the following day four boats sank, with five people drowned. 

– Reuters

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Health and Safety

NAFDAC urges journalists to join in fight against circulation, use of bleaching creams 



NAFDAC urges journalists to join in fight against circulation, use of bleaching creams 

 The National Agency For Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has urged journalists to collaborate with the agency in the fight against the circulation and use of bleaching creams in the country.

Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, Director-General (D-G), NAFDAC, made the call while sensitising journalists in the North Central States on the dangers of bleaching creams.

She made the call at a North Central Zonal Media Sensitisation Workshop on the dangers of bleaching creams and regulatory controls which was organised for the Association of Nigeria Health Journalists on Friday in Jos.

Adeyeye said the workshop was aimed at educating and challenging health journalists in Nigeria to play frontline role in the agency’s effort to eradicate the menace of bleaching creams.

The D-G was represented by Dr. Leonard Omokpariola, Director, Chemical Evaluation and Research of the Agency.

 “Bleaching creams damage vital organs in the body, cause skin irritation, allergy, skin burn, rashes, wrinkles and prolong the healing of wounds.

“Black is beautiful, we don’t need to change our color.

“NAFDAC will constantly engage the mass media as we strive to bring down to the grass root levels positive impact of our regulatory activities,” she said.

On his part, Dr. Abubakar Jimoh, Director,  Public Affairs of the Agency, said: “The workshop was meant to educate the mass media with the right information and campaign against the use of bleaching creams in Nigeria.

“Public ignorance is not an excuse before the law. The role of the mass media in the promotion of public health is very important not only for cosmetics and all other NAFDAC regulatory products”. 

In a remark, Mr. Hassan Zaggi, President, Association of Nigeria Health Journalists, said: “Skin bleaching cream is a serious concern among the citizens in the country.

“Why would somebody use his hard-earned money to buy a cream that will endanger his skin?.

“As journalists, we have a responsibility to educate people on the dangers and as well shape the opinion of the people,” Zaggi said.

He appealed to the journalists to pay attention to the workshop for onward circulation of learning outcomes to members of the public. 

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