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President Muhammadu Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, declared during a programme on national television, yesterday, that killer herdsmen are not terrorists.

He described them as “criminal gangs.”

There have been clashes between Fulani herdsmen and farmers across the country. Clashes between herdsmen and local communities, in Benue, Plateau, Taraba, Nasarawa, Ekiti, Ondo, Delta, Edo, Kaduna states, among others.

Ekiti, Benue, Taraba states have enacted anti-grazing laws. In these states, herdsmen have rejected the law and vowed to challenge them in court.

Regardless, Shehu reiterated on Channels, yesterday, that the federal government did not declare herdsmen as terrorists because they are “only criminal gangs” and quickly added that security agencies are dealing with them, according to the law.

“There is a difference between a criminal gang, criminal activity and a terrorist activity; and, I think from the definition we are getting, yes, Fulani herdsmen are a criminal gang and they are being dealt with according to the law of the country.

“But, IPOB, like Boko Haram, has a territory they have carved out for themselves, as a sovereign state of their own. They have shown the willingness to invade neighbouring states. They have raised concerns in neighbouring Kogi and Benue states. They have said they are interested in taking over Bayelsa and Rivers…IPOB is a small group of people running

“That is exactly what Boko Haram has done; with a flag and taxation system. This is not acceptable to the law of this country.”

Last Friday, the Defence Headquarters declared IPOB a “militant terrorist” organisation.

South East governors followed suit and proscribed the group’s activities, after a marathon meeting .

On Wednesday, a Federal High Court, in Abuja, granted government’s prayer and granted an interlocutory injunction to outlaw the group as a terrorist organisation.

Asked whether government knows the IPOB leader’s whereabouts, Shehu replied that the enquiries should be directed, instead, at those who signed his bail in April.

Ifeanyi Ejiofor, Kanu’s counsel, had alleged that this client is missing, after security agents allegedly stormed his home in Umuahia, on September 14, 2017.

“I am surprised someone would ask this question. Look, some people went to court and obtained his freedom, they signed his bail. I believe that a high profile group including a Senator of the Federal Republic signed in a court of law and obtained his freedom.

“So, if you are looking for him, why don’t you ask the people who bailed him? Nobody has informed me that Mr Kanu is in the hands of any institution of government. But, if I were looking for him, I would ask the guy who bailed him because that was the deal he had with the court of the land,” said Garba.

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No Going Back On Social Media Regulation —- FG

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The Federal Government has said there was no going back on its move to regulate social media in the country.

As proof of that, it has contacted the two major social media platforms — Facebook and Google — over the issue.

The government cited recent instances of fake news that made it resolve to go ahead with the plan to ensure that damages were not done to the country through social media.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, made these known at a news conference in Abuja yesterday.

He also explained why the ministry requires $500 million loan from and tendered an apology to air travellers for the diversion of Lagos-bound flights to neighbouring countries, especially Ghana.

Mohammed said: “We are pushing ahead with our plan to sanitize the social media, working with stakeholders. By March 2, 2020, we will inaugurate a stakeholders committee that will deliberate and recommend the way forward.

“We are also planning a major international conference that will bring together the tech companies, media practitioners, policymakers and others as part of efforts to tackle this growing canker-worm

“Last week, I met with representatives of Google and Facebook for the same purpose. The situation is dire, and no nation that values its peace, security and stability will allow an irresponsible use of social media.

“There has been a spike in the dissemination of fake news and the use of disinformation in recent times. This is not accidental: Fake news, disinformation and hate speech have become the weapons of choice to create tension in the polity and destabilise the country.

“And those behind them, the naysayers, are not about to relent. Those behind this campaign of fake news and disinformation have also deployed new tactics, top of which is the recycling old news items and videos.

“For some people, the 2019 elections are not over. They are stuck in the pre-election mode. And they must continue to use these weapons to put Nigeria on edge.”

He described report of plans by the government to float new ‘communication regulations’ aimed at recording all calls, monitoring WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook as “fake.”

Mohammed added: “Another good example is the video of the over 400 young men suspected to be Boko Haram members who were intercepted in Abia State in 2014.

“About two weeks ago, the video came back into circulation, creating panic in the polity. The intention of those behind it is simple: to create tension and panic in the country.’

Other recent instances of fake news, according to the minister, are reports that President Buhari will be travelling to the United Kingdom for 20 days before proceeding to Saudi Arabia and Austria; that the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, was attacked at Rigasa train station in Kaduna and that the Nigerian Air Force killed 250 Boko Haram insurgents.

The minister advised Nigerians “to be circumspect in believing or circulating fake news.”

He also clarified that the $500 million loan being sought from China is not for the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) alone.

Mohammed explained that the loan was for three major projects contrary to the “hysteria” created over it in a section of the media.

A section of the media had reported that the minister while defending the loan before the National Assembly, said it was for the upgrade of facilities to enable NTA to compete with the likes of United State’s Cable News Network (CNN).

His words: “In an era of social media, the real news is usually sacrificed on the altar of sensationalism and disinformation.

“That’s how I will describe the hysteria, in a section of the media, over the reportage of the 500 million dollars loan being sought from China.”

The minister said the loan would be used to construct a headquarters complex and transmission network for Integrated Television Services (ITS), the Federal Government-owned signal distributor and a major component of the country’s Digital Switchover (DSO).

He said the loan would also be used to build an ultra-modern media city in Ikorodu to have, indoor/outdoor shooting area, animation production facility and digital media training centre.

Mohammed said other facilities in the city would include world class cinema, a four-star hotel, an amusement park and amphi-theatre.

The minister said the loan would also be used for the acquisition of digital movie production equipment for rental as well as power system

He disclosed that the media city training academy was only the second of its type in, the first being in Egypt.

Mohammed said the facilities would be used to train Nigerian broadcasters and filmmakers in the production of high-quality media content programmes and make Nigeria a hub for digital movie production in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The minister also disclosed that the loan would be used for digitisation of all NTA stations at the headquarters, 12 zonal stations, the 36 states and the FCT as well as 78 community stations.

He said the fund would also be used to upgrade, purchase and install relevant digital TV broadcasting equipment compatible with DSO products and accessories.

Mohammed stressed that the equipment were necessary for the production and broadcast of digital programme contents in addition to the provision of a power system and manpower training.

The Minister, who apologized to Nigerians on the disruption of international flights in Lagos in the last one week, gave insights into technical issues which accounted for the challenges.

He said the two runways at the airport in Lagos have now been calibrated for CAT III ILS and notice sent out to airlines.

The minister said: “Let me apologize to all our citizens and other travellers who have had to endure inconveniences resulting from the diversion of their flights. This is highly regretted.

“I will also like to quickly take us through what caused the problem. In its commitment to passenger safety and security, the Federal Government has recently taken the decision to upgrade the navigational facilities at some major airports across the country.”

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Randy UNILAG Lecturer Sentenced To 21 Years In Jail For Raping 18-Year-Old Admission Seeker

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An Ikeja High Court on Thursday sentenced a former part-time lecturer in the University of Lagos, Akin Baruwa, to 21 years’ imprisonment for raping an 18-year-old admission-seeker.

Justice Josephine Oyefeso while sentencing Baruwa, described his action as heinous.

Oyefeso held that the sentence should serve as a deterrent to others.

She said, “The offense committed against this young lady was a violation of her chastity which would have left huge emotional scars from which I pray and hope she will recover.

“I cannot begin to imagine the physical and mental trauma she has had to endure from the man who she considered her father’s friend, a community leader who should have known better. This is a shame.

“This is a crime that not only offends the survivor, it offends her family, it offends the society at large, it also offends God.

“I find you Baruwa Afeez Akin guilty of a one-count charge of rape contrary to Section 258(1) of the Criminal Law of Lagos, 2011, and I hereby convict you accordingly.

“In line with Section 258 of the Criminal Law of Lagos, 2011, Baruwa Afeez Akin is hereby sentenced to 21 years’ imprisonment.”

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JUST IN: SARS Officers Allegedly Shoot Two Hausa Traders While Chasing Yahoo Boy In Abeokuta

Peter Okunoren

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There was pandemonium on Thursday in the Olomore axis of Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, when operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police Force allegedly shot two Hausa traders.

The SARS operatives were reported to have stormed Olomore Pepper Market while chasing an internet fraudster also known as Yahoo boy, who ran into the market.

Findings showed that stray bullets from the SARS officers’ gunshots hit two pepper sellers in the market during the chase.

An eye witness identified simply as Adamu said one of the victims was shot in the head and the other was shot in the leg.

Adamu said the victims had been rushed to a nearby hospital.

There has been no confirmation that the victim shot in the head died as of the time of filing this report but the other victim it was gathered is being treated at the undisclosed hospital.

The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Abimbola Oyeyemi, had yet to reply a text message sent to his phone and several calls made to his phone were not answered as of the time of filing this report.

Details to follow….

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