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Obama Takes on Gun Reform in Cable News Town Hall

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..Huge bushfire destroys Australia town

President Barack Obama took on the issue of gun reform again at a town hall meeting on CNN Thursday evening, saying that while he respected the Second Amendment, gun sales need to be regulated to ensure the safety of Americans.

“There’s nothing else in our lives that we can purchase, where we don’t try to make it a little safer if we can,” Obama said Thursday night at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

The president said other industries, including automakers, medicine companies and makers of children’s toys have increased regulations and made improvements to make consumers safer.

“The notion that we would not apply the same basic principles to gun ownership as we do to everything else that we own just to try to make them safer — or the notion that anything we do to try to make them safer is somehow a plot to try to take away guns — that contradicts what we do to create a better life for Americans in every other area of our lives.”

Obama also noted that first lady Michelle Obama told him she herself would want a shotgun or a rifle for protection if she lived in an isolated area. He said: “She was absolutely right.”

But he said that his series of executive actions announced this week were not meant to infringe law-abiding Americans from owning guns. The intent, he said, was instead “to keep guns out of the hands of those who would try to do others harm or try to do themselves harm.”

“I think it’s really important for us not to suggest that if we can’t solve every crime, we shouldn’t try to solve any crimes,” Obama said.

Obama also balked hard at the idea that there was a “secret” long-term goal to take all guns away from Americans.

“The goal here is just to make progress,” he said.

The 8 p.m. ET town hall coincided with the release of an op-ed in The New York Times, just an hour earlier, where the president called gun violence in the United States an “epidemic.”

“The epidemic of gun violence in our country is a crisis,” Obama wrote in the op-ed.

Obama also said he would not endorse any candidate who did not support gun control measures.

“I will not campaign for, vote for or support any candidate, even in my own party, who does not support common-sense gun reform,” he wrote. “And if the 90 percent of Americans who do support common-sense gun reforms join me, we will elect the leadership we deserve.”

In the op-ed, Obama called for ordinary citizens to call on lawmakers to hold the gun industry accountable, and lamented that increased gun reform would not happen during this Congress.

On Tuesday in a powerful 30-minute, and at times, tear-filled address to the nation Obama unveiled a series of executive actions aimed at preventing more mass killings. The actions are designed to slow the flood of firearms sales and keep weapons out of the hands of potential gunmen.

Obama has increasingly felt frustrated and stymied by congressional inaction on gun policy reform after 20 first-graders and six staffers were murdered three years ago by a gunman with an assault rifle at the grade school in Newton, Connecticut.

Meanwhile, about 95 homes have been destroyed after a bushfire ripped through a Western Australian town.

Three people are unaccounted for and one-third of the historic town of Yarloop, south of Perth, has been razed, authorities said.

Wind gusts of up to 60km/h (37 m/ph) overnight fanned the blaze, dubbed the Waroona fire, to heights of 50m.

The fire continues to threaten towns and strong winds today are expected to again make conditions difficult.

Western Australia Fire Commissioner Wayne Gregson told a press conference that the fire in Yarloop was too intense to be tackled head-on.

He said that four firefighters were injured battling the blaze and one fire truck was destroyed.

The fire has now burned through more than 50,000 hectares (500 sq km) and is threatening towns including Harvey and Preston Beach.

Local politician Murray Cowper told the BBC that the loss of property was “significant”.

He said firefighters told him the town’s pub, bowling club and historic timber workshops had been destroyed.

“You’ve got seasoned firefighters who’ve been around for many years saying they’ve never seen anything like it,” Mr Cowper said.

“A big fireball came through and there was no way they were going to stop it.

“This could well be the end of the town.”

Yarloop resident Alex Govanovich to the Australian Broadcasting Corp. that the fire was “crazy – one fireball after another”.

“The wind, it was that frigging strong. It’s devastating.”

A Bureau of Meteorology spokesman said conditions were “very tricky”, with wind gusts of up to 60km/h expected again today.

Thunderstorms and sea breezes could add further unpredictability to the situation if they rapidly pushed the fire in new directions.

Thunderstorm systems could also be generated within the fire itself, the spokesman said.

NBC with additional report from MSN

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Crash: NGX Group Mourns Ogunbanjo, Commiserates With Wigwe Family

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…As EFCC hunts for Emefiele, 3 Others

The Nigerian Exchange Group Plc (NGX Group) has mourned the death of its Group Chairman, Mr Abimbola Ogunbanjo in a helicopter crash in the United States of America.

The firm also commiserated with the family of the Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Access Holdings Plc, Dr Herbert Wigwe, who also died along with his wife and son in the same mishap.

Ogunbanjo, Wigwe, his wife, son, and two others died in a helicopter crash in California, U.S A. on Feb. 9.

The Group Chairman of NGX Group, Alhaji Umaru Kwairanga, in a statement, expressed condolences to the families of the departed souls, describing their death as untimely.

*The late Abimbola Ogunbanjo

Kwairanga said the late Ogunbanjo’s leadership had left an indelible mark on the company and the broader Nigerian financial community, noting that his legacy would continue to inspire the group.

The NGX group chairman stated that the late Wigwe also left an unblemished footprint in the group’s private sector.

“NGX Group is deeply saddened to acknowledge the tragic passing of our former chairman, Access Holdings Group CEO, Dr Wigwe, along with his wife and son, in a helicopter accident in the United States of America.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with their families during this difficult time. May their souls rest in peace and may the Almighty comfort their families,” he said.

Also, the NGX Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Mr Temi Popoola, described the passing of Ogunbanjo as a profound loss to the group and the entire Nigerian private sector.

Popoola said that the late Ogunbanjo played a crucial role in shaping the conglomerate.
According to him, while the late NGX Group chairman will be sorely missed, his visionary leadership and impact will never be forgotten.

*The late Dr. Herbert Wigwe

He also described the death of Wigwe, his wife, and his son in the helicopter accident as heartbreaking.

Popoola said that the contributions of the two respected leaders to the financial markets and the overall private sector would continue to be remembered.

“We are committed to preserving their legacies by upholding the principles of leadership, innovation and dedication that they exemplified,” he said.

According to the statement, the late Ogunbanjo, a visionary leader and luminary in Nigeria’s corporate legal and capital market spheres, served as President of the National Council of Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) from 2017 to 2021.

As the first Group Chairman of NGX Group from 2021 to 2022, following the demutualization of the Exchange, the late Ogunbanjo’s strategic acumen and dedication were instrumental in shaping the group’s transformative journey.

Beyond his role at NGX Group, the late former group chairman was a distinguished legal practitioner, serving as Managing Partner of Chris Ogunbanjo LP (Solicitors).

He served on the boards of several multinational corporations and non-profit organisations, including Beta Glass Plc and the Advisory Board of the University of Buckingham Centre for Extractive Studies.

He also served on the board of GTL Registrars Ltd., AIICO Insurance Plc, and ConocoPhillips Ltd., amongst others.

“Ogunbanjo’s contributions to the legal profession and corporate governance were exemplary, earning him widespread respect and admiration,” the statement added.

In another development, the EFCC has declared Mrs Margaret Emefiele, wife of the former governor of the CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele wanted for alleged money laundering.

EFCC’s spokesman, Mr Dele Oyewale, stated in Abuja that three other persons had been declared wanted alongside Margaret in the same office.

He went on to publish the photographs of the suspects and some of their details on the EFCC website and its “X’’ handle.

The three other persons declared wanted alongside Margaret were Mr Eric Odoh, Mrs Anita Omoile, and Mr. Jonathan Omoile.

Oyewale stated that the quartet allegedly colluded with the former CBN governor to divert “huge sums of money’’ from the Federal Government coffers.

“The charges include obtaining money by false pretences, theft, and contravention of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State.

“Individuals with information regarding the whereabouts of Margaret Emefiele, Eric Odoh, Anita Omoile, and Jonathan Omoile are urged to contact any EFCC office or call 08093322644,’’ Oyewale stated

It would be recalled that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Saturday confirmed the crash of a helicopter carrying six passengers in a Southern California desert near Las Vegas.

All the passengers on board are reported to have died.

Mr Herbert Wigwe, the Chief Executive Officer of Access Holdings, who died in the helicopter was reportedly on board with five others believed to be his wife, son and Mr Abimbola Ogunbanjo, the Group Chairman of Nigerian Exchange Group Plc.

According to FAA, the crash occurred on Friday around 10 p.m. local time near Nipton, California.

However, the FAA did not make available the list of the passengers involved in the accident at the time of filing their report.

The family members of some Nigerians suspected to have been involved in the crash did not respond to calls.

But Mr Tunde Moshood, the Specialist, Asset and Communications to the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, described Wigwe as a leader with an unwavering dedication to his nation and his indomitable spirit serves as an inspiration to us all.

“Though he may have left this world prematurely, his vision and values will continue to guide us as we strive for a brighter future.

“Adieu, Herbert Wigwe. Your presence will be sorely missed, but your legacy will endure as a beacon of hope and progress,” he said.

Born on Aug. 15, 1966, in Isiokpo, Port Harcourt, Herbert Wigwe has carved a niche for himself in the world of finance.

He obtained a degree in accountancy from the University of Nigeria and further education in Banking and Finance, Financial Economics, and an executive programme from Harvard Business School.

Wigwe’s impact was not limited to banking. His passion for philanthropy led him to establish the Herbert Wigwe Foundation, fostering education and entrepreneurship in Nigeria.

His dedication earned him the Order of the Niger (CON) and admiration from peers and the public.

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OVERSPEEDING: Lone Accident Claims 4 Lives On Sagamu-Benin Expressway

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Niger auto crash: 4 persons die, 6 injured – FRSC

No fewer than four persons were confirmed dead on Friday in a lone accident involving a Toyota Camry car at Area J3 on the Sagamu-Benin Expressway.

Mrs Florence Okpe, the Spokesperson of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) in Ogun confirmed the incident to newsmen in Abeokuta.

Okpe explained that the accident occurred at 11:40 am and was caused by excessive speed on the part of the driver which led to loss of control.

She said that the vehicle marked BDG 184 FY veered off the road and somersaulted into a swamp.

“A total of four persons, three men and one woman were involved and they all died from the lone crash.

“The suspected cause of the lone crash was excessive speed which led to loss of control and the vehicle veered off the road and somersaulted into a swamp,” she said.

Okpe explained that the deceased were deposited at the Ijebu-Ode General Hospital morgue.

The Sector Commander, Anthony Uga, advised motorists taking long journeys to always have 15 minutes rest after a four-hour drive to avoid fatigue while driving and also go within the stipulated speed limit.

He sympathised with the family of the victims, enjoining them to contact FRSC Ogbere for more information about the crash.

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Explosion Rocks Ibadan, 2 Dead, over 100 Injured

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Makinde Explains Delay In Emergence of New Aalafin, Soun, Swears In New CJ

…Illegal mining activities suspected!

A deafening explosion rocked the elitist Bodija area of Ibadan Tuesday night, instantly collapsing buildings, and seriously blowing off several buildings’ rooftops, in addition to shattering glass windows of houses, 500 metres away. 

Two persons were pulled out of the rubble, dead, while over 100 persons were injured, some of them, very seriously.

The explosion occurred around 7.43 pm on January 16, 2024, at Dejo Oyelese Street at the Adeyi Estate, affecting about 20 buildings, aside from shaking the ground like a mild earth tremor. it also emitted observable light waves, and heavy smoke, thereby creating genuine panic and fear.

A man praying in the nearby mosque was among the first casualty as he was rushed to a nearby Christian Hospital, in an emergency.

There were palpable fears that the explosion was caused either by illegal mining or, some activities not unconnected with mining. However, this may not be confirmed until a proper investigation is undertaken.

An eye witness told the Maritime First that a building with a heavy presence of foreigners, and a football-field size empty backyard, had plenty of dynamites used for mining was suddenly engulfed by fire, a fire which finally touched the inflamable dynamite, resulting in a bomb-like explosion, which was easily heard, miles away.

*One of the casualties

The source said while it could not be ascertained if the illegal mining was taking place within the estate or not, it could however not be argued that dynamites usually utilised for mining was involved.

The Christian hospital lived up to expectations, as it had the solution for those rushed there in emergency. From the hospital gate, however, a staff was heard, requesting additional hands from their other branches. One lady was placed on oxygen.

The Oyo State Governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde cancelled every other state matter and rushed to the scene, following which he deployed first responders and all relevant agencies within Oyo State to carry out comprehensive search and rescue operations.

“We have already deployed first responders and all relevant agencies within Oyo State to carry out comprehensive search and rescue operations. These operations will continue throughout the night”, the Governor stressed.

Consequently, earth-moving equipment, ambulances, emergency lights, and security were deployed to the scene of the incident, even as ambulances plied to and from the area.

“The wounded and injured are being treated and moved to public and private hospitals within Ibadan. Medical personnel are on standby at these hospitals to provide all needed assistance to the injured. We have visited UCH to see some of those injured during the incident. 

“In total, we have 77 injured victims so far, most of whom were treated and discharged and 2 fatalities. May their souls rest in peace and may God give their loved ones the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss”, the Governor indicated further.

By 10. 26pm a crowd of onlookers, some of them miscreants had built up in front of the ACE Mall. But they were overwhelmed by the presence of a pronounced presence of Amotekun Corps, which was joined at 9.58 pm by OYRTHMA operatives, in four vehicles, one of them, a towing van.

By 10.29 pm, some officers of the military arrived at the ACE Mall, ordered the Gate of the Christian Hospital shut, and sent the crowd of miscreants packing!

Reacting to the development, a resident who spoke on condition of anonymity urged the Authorities to scratch beyond the surface, saying he believes the explosion could have a lot to do with illegal mining activities.

“Why do they call that place ‘the Dungeon’? What kind of explosives do they use there that is capable of blowing a car off its tyres, into the air?” he asked.

He described mining as a heavy capital investment which is currently, silently run like Mafia stuff. 

“Killing is constantly involved, either by design or circumstances. And that in many instances, people call them in the North, herdsmen or kidnappers, whereas they are just illegal miners or miners’ extension.

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