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ISIS using minors as human shields in Mosul: UNICEF



  • Isis surrenders Iraqi hideout of leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

Around 100,000 minors remain trapped in “extremely dangerous”area of Mosul which is controlled by Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIS) and are being used as human shields and forced to fight on behalf of Islamic State terrorists.

“An estimated 100,000 girls and boys remain in extremely dangerous conditions in the old city and other areas of west Mosul,” Russia Today quoted Peter Hawkins, the United Nations Children`s Fund (UNICEF) Representative in Iraq, as saying.

“We are receiving alarming reports of civilians including several children being killed in west Mosul,” Hawkins said in a statement.

Operations to recapture western Mosul were launched on February 19 after the eastern section of Iraq`s second largest city was liberated in January.

As Iraqi forces make the final push to retake the city, at least 200,000 civilians remain in danger.

Iraqi forces began a push towards the medieval old city in late April.

Their advance has been slow due fierce urban combat and the use of civilians by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) fighters as human shields.

While US-backed Iraqi troops have forced the last of ISIS hardened fighters into three neighborhoods – Zanjili, al-Sihha and al-Shefa – around the old city remain under terrorist control.

“In some cases, the minors have been forced to fight on behalf of Islamic State terrorists,” Hawkins noted, adding that others are “being killed, injured and used as human shields”.

To spare the lives of innocent children and other civilians still trapped under the yoke of IS, UNICEF has called on all involved in the battle to spare hospitals and other civilian infrastructure.

“Many are caught in the crossfire and hospitals and other medical facilities have reportedly come under attack,” Hawkins noted.

“Attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure including hospitals, clinics, schools, homes and water systems should stop immediately.”

Iraqi troops along with coalition forces are backed by US air strikes began the battle for Islamic State`s main stronghold in the country in October 2016.

In the meantime, Islamic State has surrendered the key town of Baaj in north-west Iraq, a known hideout of the terrorist group’s leader which had been under Islamist militants’ control throughout 14 years of war and insurgency.

The few remaining Isis fighters fled the town on Saturday night, allowing Shia militia forces to enter unopposed.

A statement from the Popular Mobilisation Front, an umbrella organisation for pro-government paramilitaries that is dominated by Iran-backed Shia militias, announced the “total liberation” of the Baaj district and declared: “The Iraqi flag has been hoisted above its buildings.”

Throughout Sunday, the Front’s fighters raised Iraqi flags and banners where Isis flags had flown since mid-2014, securing a victory that resonates far beyond the formerly untamed corner of north-west Iraq.

Social media posts hailed the victory as one of the most symbolic of its kind, alongside the successful battles to win back Falluja, Tikrit, Ramadi and most of Mosul.

Isis fighters who remain in western Mosul have barricaded themselves in the old city district and have little chance of escape.

The withdrawal leaves just that pocket of Mosul and the town of Bukamal as the only urban centres in Iraq, or on the Syrian border, with a significant Isis presence. The fight to reclaim lands seized by Isis is now expected to shift focus to Syria, where the next, and potentially final, leg of the campaign to eradicate the group’s presence is intensifying.

A Guardian source who saw Isis’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in Bukamal earlier this year described him as thin and stooped. The source said Baghdadi was travelling with a small security detail in a convoy of four cars and spent only minutes in public before being escorted away.

The crumbling of the Isis caliphate has also renewed focus on finding Baghdadi, who is known to have spent large parts of the past three years in Baaj under the protection of tribes that had been loyal to the cause of Islamic State and its earlier incarnations. Baghdadi has also been sighted in Raqqa, the de facto capital of the Isis caliphate in Syria.

Baaj has become increasingly important to Iranian efforts to influence what emerges from the war against Isis. A statement claiming the capture of the town came from Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a prominent Shia paramilitary leader with extensive ties to Iran.

Last month he, together with the Iranian general Qassem Suleimani, directed Shia paramilitary forces to capture Baaj as a crucial part of a land corridor that Iran has been trying to establish across Iraq and Syria.

Bukamal is expected to be a new focus of both Iranian and US efforts. At the same time, US-backed Kurdish troops are now within sight of Raqqa on three sides of the city. Kurdish groups say the battle to retake the city is likely to start sometime this month.

“This is all coming to a head now,” said a senior regional diplomat. “But not in a coordinated way at all. Everyone has their own agenda. There is no common purpose here. And there sure as hell isn’t a strategy.”

Zee with additional report from Guardian

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Security: Agbekoya Deploys 4,000 Security Personnel for S/West Farmers



…Says ‘We have decimated cases of kidnapping and clashes in our towns and farms

The Agbekoya Society of Nigeria, a Yoruba farmers and hunters association, says it has about 4,000 personnel providing security for farmers in the Southwest.

The Aare (President-General) of Agbekoya worldwide, Chief Kamorudeen Okikiola, disclosed this at a news conference to unveil activities for the 85th Anniversary celebration of the society in Lagos on Wednesday.

The Southwest governors, the Oni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, and other Yoruba leaders and farmers, will attend the anniversary scheduled to hold on Nov. 26.

“Today, Agbekoya is still leading as the biggest farmers’ association in Nigeria since 1938 and we will continue to provide security for our farmers.

“Agbekoya has done a lot for farmers and this has helped in feeding the nation. We have tried our best to eradicate anything that can make our farmers run away from farms.

*Chief Kamorudeen Okikiola, the Aare Agbekoya Worldwide (3rd Left) and other leaders of the society at a news conference on Wednesday in Lagos.

“Security in farms is relatively good now. We have done a lot in protecting farmers and their farms. We have put up several measures to ensure security for farmers,” he said.

Okikiola said being an association comprising farmers and hunters, it had its executive council and security wing in all towns in Yoruba land.

The Aare added: “We have decimated cases of kidnapping and clashes in our towns and farms. If you see any, they are very few.

“This is because our security arm swing into action in case of any hitch anywhere. We have about 4000 security personnel for farmers’ protection in southwest alone.”

According to him, the situation that forced many people to vacate farms for city because of insecurity has been decimated.

Okikiola said that Agbekoya had been very useful to conventional security outfits like Police to undertake certain difficult jobs that required going into forests to track down criminals.

“We don’t run away from creation of God. We are ready to challenge any battle that want to confront farmers in the southwest,” he said.

On the society’s achievements, Okikiola said that his leadership had grown Agbekoya membership from 49 members to 4.3 million members.

Commending a former minister of agriculture, Dr Akinwunmi Adesina for his efforts toward rebuilding the agbekoya society, Okikiola said the now President, the African Development Bank, believed in the society to achieve agricultural goals.

According to him, the society has not also relented efforts in training, educating and empowering farmers in partnership with local and foreign agencies and institutions as well as governments.

On the anniversary, Okikiola said the Ooni of Ife would be the Royal Father of the Day; the Olowu of Kuta, Oba Hameed Oyelude (Tegbosun III) Chairman and Chief Folashade Tinubu-Ojo, the Iyaloja General of Nigeria, as Mother of the Day.

He added that Aare Onikoyi of Yorubaland, Otunba Tomori Williams, would be the Chief Launcher with Iyalaje of Oodua, Princess Toyin Kolade among other eminent Yoruba leaders and farmers in attendance.

Okikiola said  the society would be celebrating  85 years of agricultural excellence and his 25 years as its  President-General.

“Since our inception in 1938, Agbekoya society of Nigeria, has stood as a guardian of agricultural interests, ensuring security and prosperity of our farming community.

“The 85th-anniversary celebration is a testament to our enduring commitment to the welfare of farmers and the sustainable development of agriculture,” he said.

Highlighting activities for the event, he said there would be a grand opening ceremony, exhibition/showcase of the evolution of agricultural practices and cutting-edge technologies.

He said there would also be a cultural extravaganza to explore the rich cultural heritage of the  agricultural community as well as performances, displays, and presentations.

Okikiola said pioneers of Agbekoya would be honoured to pay tribute to the visionaries and leaders who played pivotal roles in the success and growth of the society over the past 85 years.

According to him, there will also be an interactive forum which will engage stakeholders in discussions on the future of agriculture, sustainable practices, and the role of security in ensuring a thriving farming community.

He said the anniversary would reinforce the collective strength of agricultural sustainability for the good of the nation.

Okikiola said the society was dedicated to fostering a secure environment for farmers and ensuring the prosperity of agriculture through vigilant protection and advocacy.

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NNPP Heads To Supreme Court Over Appeal Court’s Sacking Of Kano Governor 



NAGAFF @23: Our Mission is Liberation of Industry Operators- Aniebonam

The New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) says it plans to appeal the judgment of the Court of Appeal which upturned the victory of Gov. Kabir Yusuf of Kano State at the Supreme Court.

Alhaji Abba Ali, the NNPP acting National Chairman, said this at a news conference on Saturday in Abuja.

Ali said that the judgment was a miscarriage of justice saying that Yusuf was given a popular mandate by the people of Kano State.

He said the party had already briefed its lawyers on the issue.

“Believing in the credibility of the judiciary and its ability to correct any error of judgment by the lower court, our party approached the Court of Appeal and prayed the appellate court to set aside the unjust ruling of the lower court.

“To our greatest shock and consternation, the Court of Appeal on Friday, Nov. 17 delivered a convoluted judgment that was anchored around their erroneous belief that Yusuf was not a member of the NNPP,” he said.

NAGAFF @23: Our Mission is Liberation of Industry Operators- Aniebonam
The NNPP Founder, Dr. Boniface Aniebonam

Ali said that to claim that Yusuf was not a member of the NNPP at the time of the 2023 general election, was mischief.
He wondered how Yusuf could have been successfully nominated on the INEC portal if his name was not submitted with the NNPP membership card.

“For our party, and we are sure for INEC as well, the issue of membership of candidates is a non-issue since the system of nomination is designed by INEC in such a way that only registered members can be nominated and uploaded onto the portal.

“It is therefore unbelievable that the Appeal Court would refuse to look at the merit of our party’s appeal and cling to the erroneous issue of membership that has already been settled severally by both the Appeal and Supreme Courts.

“We are therefore informing all members of the NNPP and indeed all Nigerians that our party has already briefed our lawyers to appeal this injustice at the Supreme Court.

“We believe that the Supreme Court will correct the errors of the tribunal and the Appeal Court and restore the mandate of the good people of Kano State by re-affirming Alhaji Yusuf as the duly elected Governor of Kano State,” he said.

Ali called on the judiciary to live up to its calling as the temple of justice and the last hope of the common man.


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Benue In N359bn Debt – Gov. Alia



Gov. Hyacinth Alia of Benue on Sunday disclosed that his administration inherited the sum of N359 billion as debt from the past administration in the state.

Alia disclosed this at an interdenominational church service to commemorate Nigeria’s 63rd independence anniversary.

The church service was organised by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Benue State Chapter, at the Methodist Cathedral, South Bank, Makurdi.

The governor,  who is a Catholic priest, said that in spite of the debt burden, he was determined to reposition the state by providing an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.

“God has accomplished his work,  and it is now left for us to make our state and nation to work. I am here to make things work.

“What we inherited was nothing to be proud of, but we will do what will make us all proud. I inherited over N359bn debt,” he said.

*Gov. Hyacinth Alia

He regretted that the state lost billions of Naira worth of agricultural produce and other property to herders’ attacks on farmers.

He said that the farmers must be supported to do their job well.

Alia said that the condition of rural dwellers following incessant herders’ attacks and fuel subsidy removal had become worrisome.

He said that his administration would find ways to support farmers by providing seedlings, fertilisers and other forms of support to enable them to work effectively in the coming farming season.

“My colleagues call me the governor of the richest state in Nigeria and I agree with them because we have numerous mineral deposits, we have the best yams and soya beans, among others.

“We will create billionaires in the state through our farms. We have everything it takes to do it.”

Alia ordered an immediate end to illegal mining in the state.

“The foreigners illegally mining gold in Kwande, Logo, Konshisha LGAs and other places in the state should desist from it immediately. This is an order,” he said.

He said that God blessed the state and the entire Nigeria abundantly and it was left for the leaders to make things work.

He decried the spate of kidnapping and other criminal activities in the state, pledging to tackle them.

The governor said that the future of the state lay in the hands of the youth, adding that his administration was training 10,000 youths in information technology for improved digital knowledge.

Alia gave the assurance that his administration would not accommodate corruption and nepotism.

The governor appealed to Benue’s sons and daughters to support the state in any way they could.

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