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ECOWAS Seek To Mediate In Mali Crisis

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Envoys from Mali’s neighbours led by former President Goodluck Jonathan were scheduled to arrive in Bamako on Wednesday in a bid to mediate in an escalating political crisis ahead of new high-risk protests.

Representatives from the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are having to bridge apparently irreconcilable differences between President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and a protest movement that is demanding his resignation.

Fresh protests have been set for Friday, a week after demonstrations that ignited three days of clashes with the security forces, leaving 11 dead and 158 injured, according to an official tally — Mali’s bloodiest toll from political unrest in years.

The so-called June 5 Movement, an alliance of political, social and civil-society leaders gathered around a powerful imam named Mahmoud Dicko, is tapping into deep-seated anger.

Malians are worried and frustrated by an eight-year-old jihadist insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives and driven hundreds of thousands from their homes and swept into Niger and Burkina Faso.

Many are also incensed at perceived government corruption and the outcome of long-delayed parliamentary elections in March and April that handed victory to Keita’s party.

A rally on Friday will be a “ceremony of sacrifice and of prayer” for protest victims, opposition leader Mountaga Tall told reporters on Tuesday after opposition figures were released after several days in detention.

“He who asked for us to get killed is no longer our president,” he said.

“We are convinced that President IBK has neither the intellectual nor the physical capacity to lead the country,” he said, referring to the head of state by his initials.

Several barricades were set up in the capital Bamako after he spoke, and some tyres were burned, but otherwise the city was calm on Wednesday.

Keita’s office said that the ECOWAS delegation would include constitutional experts.

One of the potential solutions being explored by the authorities is to appoint new judges to the Constitutional Court, a tribunal that is a major target of protest anger.

The court tossed out about 30 results of the legislative elections in a move that handed seats to members of Keita’s party.

An ECOWAS mission to Mali last month concluded that the court’s decision was “at the root of the tension” and called on the government to review the contested results or stage new elections as soon as possible.

It also called for a “consensus government of national union.”

These recommendations have found a broad echo in the international community.

Keita, for his part, has made several gestures toward the June 5 Movement, including the dissolution of the Constitutional Court to enable a U-turn on the contested seats.

However, the dissolution creates legal as well as political complications, which the expected constitutional experts may be able to resolve.

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Bandits Lay Siege To Armed Forces Command And Staff College, Jaji

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Some criminals, suspected to be bandits, are currently laying siege around the premises of Armed Forces Command and Staff College (AFCSC) located in Jaji, Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State.

Their mission, according to some locals in the community who spoke to our correspondent during a telephone conversation, was to abduct some staff of the college and the communities around the area.

This is coming in less than two months after bandits stormed the Federal College of Forestry Mechanization, Afaka, Mando, also in Kaduna and kidnapped no fewer than 39 students.

AFCSC is a training facility for the Nigerian Armed Forces, including the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Air Force and Nigerian Navy.

A resident of the area, who simply identified himself as Adamu, told Daily Trust via telephone that the bandits have always surrounded the institution while terrorising the communities around the college.

“It is only Allah that has been saving us. They (bandits) have always rustled cows in our communities. Military operatives do engage them in gun battle anytime they come around, that is why we don’t have major casualties yet,” Adamu said.

The Commandant of the college, Air Marshal Olayinka Alade, confirmed this on Wednesday in Abuja when he visited the Army Headquarters to brief Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Attahiru Ibrahim, on the development and other issues in the institution.

Alade said the institution has decided to launch impromptu searching and clearance operations in some communities where the bandits are operating around the college having informed General Officer Commanding 1 Division.

“There are some communities around the school that have developed and because it is like part of the college, maybe they are hiding under that cover, so some bandits are there. Because of that, there is collaboration with other institution’s heads in the college. Constantly, we try to conduct an impromptu searching. We conduct search and patrol from time to time.

“What we discovered now is that, not too far ahead, some communities… it is like all these bandits have made all that place their aim, so I discussed with GOC 1 Div. From time to time, we need to carry out clearance operations,” the AFCSC Commandant said.

The Commandant further disclosed that the bandits rustled some cows behind the college on Tuesday, April 13 – a development that led to gun duel between them and the military operatives.

He, however, did not disclose whether there was any casualty, noting that he came to brief the COAS so as not to be surprised if he hears anything subsequently.

According to him, “In fact, yesterday (Tuesday), I was told that some bandits came to come and rustle some cows just behind us. There was an exercise that was carried out by the NACI. They actually encountered these bandits, they had to exchange fire during the exercise.

“Those are the things we’re trying to ensure that we are not surprised if they have come that close, then, we need to sit tight and ensure we clear that place.”

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Deputy Nigeria Ambassador to Jordan, Ibrahim Mohammed,(1st left) the Managing Director Ministry of Tourism and Antiquiies, Abed Al Razzaq Arabiyat, (middle) Executive Secretary NCPC, Yakubu Pam (right) during a courtesy visit paid to the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities in Jordan recently

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Coalition Warns Anti-Vaxxers, Urges Nigerians To Disregard Fake News Of COVID-19 Vaccine Side Effects

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The National Vanguard on Covid-19 Administration and Advocacy has urged Nigerians to treat reports of side effects from the AstraZeneca jab as fake news, noting that some elements are out to frustrate the ongoing vaccination exercise.

This follows the claim of blood vomit by a woman in Kaduna after allegedly being administered the vaccine.

While the state government has vowed to investigate the report, the National Vanguard on Covid-19 Administration and Advocacy said the assertion is the handiwork of anti-vaxxers.

In a statement signed by its Director of Public Enlightenment, Samson Abu, on Saturday, the group, though, admitted potential side effects from the jab, added that some persons are out to sow fear in the minds of Nigerians.

Abu, therefore, appealed to Nigerians to disregard all fake news pertaining to the safety, efficacy and effects of the COVID-19 vaccine.

According to him, the supposed victim is an isolated case yet to be proven by any expert.

The group, however, urged Nigerians to continue to take the vaccine for their good and the safety of their loved ones around them

Read the full statement below:

The National Vanguard on Covid-19 Administration and Advocacy is appalled by the deployment of fake news by anti-vaccine elements in Nigeria in their bid to scare and discourage people from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine that is meant to protect against the Corona Virus and save lives.

The fake news, published with the headline “Woman vomits blood after taking COVID-19 vaccine” is a disingenuous attempt at creating a deepfake given the effort that was made to create the impression that one Hannatu Tanko was rushed to Gwamna Awan General Hospital in Kaduna State because she started vomiting blood after receiving the vaccine.

Interestingly, the same script was published by several blogs and a few undiscerning news sites without the publishers carrying out the necessary checks and without speaking with experts on what could have led to the woman’s condition.

The fake news also created the impression that there is coercion in the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine whereas people are voluntarily accepting the jab owing to their knowledge of how it protects one from catching the deadly virus. Such a desperate act could have only resulted from people that are keen on seeing the pandemic decimate humanity.

With more than half a million so far vaccinated, even if the account of the woman experiencing reactions to the vaccine were correct, the case would be an isolated one and the fact that sources claimed the woman is recovering confirms that the vaccine is safe while any unintended effect would be at worst temporary. We, therefore, find it unacceptable that the isolated and unproven instance is now being used by purveyors of fake news and anti-Vaxxers to discourage Nigerians from taking the vaccine. This is a huge disservice and unacceptable.

For the avoidance of doubts, experts’ views are required to confirm that what a person experiences after taking the jab is related to the vaccine. To do this, the experts would have ruled out that the symptoms exhibited by such are not caused by other underlying factors that coincidentally flared up at about the same time the person took their vaccine.

The National Vanguard on Covid-19 Vaccine Administration and Advocacy consequently warn detractors and anti-vaxxers in Nigeria that they have a responsibility to society to desist from sowing fear in the mind of the people especially when it is apparent that the fake news they are spreading has all the potential to hurt more people than save them.

We appeal to Nigerians to disregard all fake news about the safety, efficacy and effects of the COVID-19 vaccine and only based their decision to accept the jab or not on sound science, which would make them appreciate the benefits it offers. Nigerians, who truly value their wellbeing as the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the world, should make it a personal responsibility to take the vaccine for their good and the safety of their loved ones around them.

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