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Lekki Shootings: US Reaffirms Visa Ban Policy For Anti-Democratic Forces

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The United States Government may impose a visa restriction on persons found culpable in the shooting of unarmed #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki Toll Plaza in Lagos on Tuesday.

This is just as the judicial panel set up by the Lagos State Government to probe the Lekki killings is set to begin an investigation into the incident on Monday.

Soldiers deployed to quell the protests had opened fire on protesters. While the Defence headquarters has denied deploying soldiers in the Lekki Toll Plaza, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu insisted the military carried out the shooting on the peaceful protesters at the toll plaza.

The governor said, “For clarity, it is imperative to explain that no sitting governor controls the rules of engagement of the military. I have, nonetheless, ordered an investigation into the rules of engagement adopted by men of the Nigerian Army that were deployed to the Lekki tollgate last night.”

Although the casualty figure remains a subject of controversy, a global rights group, Amnesty International, says 12 persons were killed in the incident.

Saturday PUNCH subsequently sent an email inquiry to the US Foreign Mission to Nigeria on whether those found wanting in the shootings would be banned from visiting the US.

The email enquiry read, “With regard to the shootings at the Lekki toll plaza in Lagos and attack on protesters in various parts of the country, will the United States Government be considering a visa ban on persons found wanting in the last few weeks?”

In its response, the embassy stated, “We stand by Secretary Pompeo’s statement of October 8, 2020: Adherence to these democratic norms and to the rule of law allows all citizens to engage in political dialogue and support their choice of candidates, parties, and platforms.

“We will watch closely the actions of individuals who interfere in the democratic process and will not hesitate to consider consequences – including visa restrictions.”

Earlier, senior officials of the United States Government on Thursday met with Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and expressed displeasure over the shootings.

Although the Nigerian Army had denied deploying soldiers to the scene, the US officials demanded that the soldiers behind the shootings be brought to justice.

The spokesperson for the State Department, Morgan Ortagus, said in a statement that the officials were led by the Counsellor of the US State Department, Ulrich Brechbühl.

Others at the meeting include Assistant Secretary Robert Destro and Assistant Secretary Denise Natali.

The officials, according to the statement, raised concerns over the ongoing violence in Nigeria as well as human rights violations and human trafficking.

The statement read in part, “Counsellor T. Ulrich Brechbühl met with Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo today in Abuja, Nigeria as part of a previously scheduled delegation, which included Assistant Secretary Robert Destro and Assistant Secretary Denise Natali, to raise US concerns about the ongoing violence in Nigeria, human rights, religious freedom, and trafficking in persons, and to hear from senior Nigerian government officials how they are addressing those issues.

“The counsellor expressed the US condemnation of the use of excessive force by military forces that fired on unarmed demonstrators in Lagos. He expressed condolences to the victims of these shootings and urged the government of Nigeria to abide by its commitment to hold those responsible accountable under the law.”

According to the statement, Osinbajo, as well as the counsellor, noted that the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression are essential human rights and core democratic principles.

“Counsellor Brechbühl and Vice-President Osinbajo emphasised the importance of US and Nigerian collaboration on common goals of improving security cooperation and strengthening economic partnership to foster mutual prosperity,” the statement read.

The Nigerian Army had on Wednesday denied that soldiers were at the toll plaza despite eyewitnesses’ accounts and video evidence showing soldiers shooting.

International Criminal Court Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, had also acknowledged receipts of complaints over the incident.

She tweeted, “My office has been closely following the events around the current protests in Nigeria and the reaction of Nigeria’s law enforcement and security agencies.

“Any loss of life or injury is concerning. We have received information alleging crimes and are keeping a close eye on developments, in case violence escalates and any indications arise on that Rome Statute crimes may have been committed.”

However, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) made no mention of any investigation or arrest during his national broadcast on Thursday.

 

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Nigerian Government Demands Apology From UK Over Claim That Gowon Looted Central Bank

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The federal government has demanded an apology from the British government over the “unsubstantiated” claim by a member of its parliament that Yakubu Gowon, Nigeria’s former head of state, looted the public treasury.

Ferdinand Nwonye, spokesman of the ministry of foreign affairs, in a statement on Friday, said Nigeria has also demanded that the statement be retracted.

Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the UK parliament foreign affairs committee, had accused Gowon of looting half of Nigeria’s central bank when he left office.

Speaking at the parliament’s recent debate on the #EndSARS crisis, Tugendhat said: “Some people will remember when General Gowon left Nigeria with half of the Central Bank, so it is said, and moved to London.”

However, the MP did not provide any evidence or source to support his claim.

Nwonye said the ministry, upon learning of the claim, “immediately sought an apology and retraction of the unsubstantiated allegation from the British Government”.

He said the federal government also consulted with Charlotte Pierre, head of Africa Department of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, who “expressed strong reservations on the comment of the Parliamentarian”.

The statement quoted Pierre as saying “the said comment of the MP does not reflect the views of Her Majesty’s Government and the British Government has no mechanism for controlling the actions and speeches of members of the Parliament.”

It added that she urged Nigeria to “discountenance the said comment of the MP, as Her Majesty’s Government has nothing to do with it”.

Gowon had “described the MP’s claim as “rubbish”.

He had told the BBC: “What the MP said was just mere ridicule and I don’t know as to where he cooked up such statement. I served Nigeria as much as I could and my achievements during those years are available to everyone.”

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JUST IN: Amotekun Rescue Wife Of Akeredolu’s Chief Of Staff

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Barely two days after her abduction, the wife of the Chief of Staff to the Ondo State governor, Olugbenga Ale, has regained her freedom.

We had earlier reported that Mrs Sade Ale, alongside one other person, were kidnapped on Thursday evening along the Ondo-Akure Expressway while travelling from Lagos to Akure.

It was, however, gathered that the victims were rescued on Saturday morning by men of the Ondo State Security Network also known as Amotekun Corps in collaboration with local hunters and vigilantes in the area.

The Commander of the Amotekun Corps, Adetunji Adeleye, who confirmed the release of Mrs Ale to newsmen, said it was too early to disclose details of the rescue operation.

He said, “We thank God for the achievement, it was not easy. But we are able to arrest some persons in connection with the matter.”

Adeleye also said some suspects have been arrested in connection with the murder of the Olufon of Ifon, Oba Israel Adeusi, who was killed by some gunmen on Thursday.

“We are closing in on the hoodlums. We also arrested some persons at Elegbeka in connection with the killing of the monarch. But they are under interrogation and they are helping us with useful information,” Adeleye said.

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City People Magazine Honours Akogun Lanre Alfred

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A goldfish never has a hiding place and when one is exceedingly good at what he does, he will always be fished out for honours that will spur to him to greater heights and exploits.

Perhaps, it’s recognition time for cerebral and prolific top-notch society and lifestyle writer and author of five books, Akogun Lanre Alfred, as adorns the garb of ‘Lifestyle King’- (Highlife and Society Reportage) at the 2nd City People Magazine Online Fashion and Beauty Award courtesy top of the range soft-sell tabloid, City People Magazine.

The prestigious honorary award comes up this Sunday 29, November 2020, and it will be attended by the cream of the society as sensational singer SBLive will be on the bandstand, while Lanre’s friends in the business world will be in attendance.

The ‘African Prince’, as he is fondly called by his friends, is the head honcho of Seafrills Energy International, The OldEnglish Bakery with branches in Lagos.

Akogun Lanre Alfred, who is also Executive Consultant to Governor Dapo Abiodun on Reputation Management, has been on the scene for over two-decades and very meticulous in his unique and uncommon style of society and lifestyle journalism, with a couple of aptly concise books on highlife styles of top society players.

Interestingly, there is no gainsaying Alfred possesses admirable poise and panache; a man of venerable taste in fashion, he effortlessly depicts style as an outward and inward sign of grace and character. He has got the money habit, and an enduring flair for the modish and timeless, in repute and colossal proportions.

Unlike several dudes of his ilk, he is neither tormented nor overwhelmed by his love for the classy and urbane. Such habit and love are practicable at a steep price and he rises to the measure and monetary worth of his taste for high fashion and art.

Many rich, privileged men stumble into vogue but it takes a discerning man of class and élan to mirror the girth and depth of burgeoning trends to the world.

Lanre Alfred without doubt epitomizes such an exclusive breed of manhood; among other traits, he flaunts immaculate flair and charisma to often lead and set the pace in whatever social circuit he inhabits. He effortlessly characterizes the essence and refinement, exemplary of intensely constituted men of style.

Little wonder he cuts a perfect portrait of a man fully at home and at peace with his inner grandeur.

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