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INSECURITY: Panic In Zamfara Communities As ‘Bandits Demand Over N60m As Peace Deal Levy’

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Bandits have reportedly imposed a “compensation levy” of varying amounts on some communities in Zurmi LGA of Zamfara.

Speaking with TheCable on Tuesday, Aliyu Buhari, a resident of Moriki, one of the communities in Zurmi LGA, said the bandits had, through released captives, demanded that they be paid the levy before residents will be allowed access to their farmlands.

Buhari said some communities have paid and agreed on a reconciliation deal with the bandits, adding that residents of Moriki are currently working on raising the levy.

“People living in Moriki ward in Zurmi LGA were asked to pay the sum of N20 million to be able to enjoy some level of peace,” he said.

“Recently, two people were kidnapped from the Dauran community in Zurmi LGA and a ransom was paid for their release, while in Kanwa, over 40 people who are mostly women were abducted during a house-to-house search by the terrorists.

“The bandits are yet to demand any ransom for the release of the abducted persons.

“The bandits had earlier imposed a compensation levy of N20 million on the Kanwa community. The levy is to serve as a peace deal between the terrorists and the community.

“Despite paying the levy, the residents are currently in tension as they believe that the recent mass abduction may lead to another levy.”

‘EACH HOUSEHOLD TO CONTRIBUTE N6,500’

“Currently, people of the Moriki community are processing how to contribute the compensation fee. The fee is to enable them to access their farmlands and live peacefully without any fear of attack,” Buhari continued.

“Many communities have already paid the compensation fee. Most of them yielded during the rainy season when farmers needed to work on their farmlands.

“In Moriki, during the rainy season, people were allowed to farm but they started to threaten our peace when it was time to harvest our farm produce.

“Each household in Moriki has been asked to contribute N6,500 to make up the N20 million levy.

“I understand that the deadline for the payment was last week Saturday, but the community is still working towards sourcing the money.

“Some communities that have been asked to pay compensation levy include Gidan Shaho, Kadamutsa, and Dada.”

‘ABOUT 10 COMMUNITIES LEVIED’

Suleiman Mahmud, a resident of Zurmi who also spoke on the development, said about 10 communities were asked to pay levies of different amounts.

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He added that some have paid, while others are yet to raise the money.

“In the Moriki community, they were asked to pay N20 million. The residents have resolved to pay, but I am not sure if it has been delivered to the terrorists,” he said.

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“They usually inform people of any community they attack about their demands. They either inform a freed captive or deliver the message whenever they attack communities.

“Ever since they agreed on paying a reconciliation levy in July, they have not attacked the people of Moriki and the people have been going about their affairs.

“Last week, two residents were kidnapped from their farmlands, while one person was killed around the Dauran area.

“Some of the communities that have agreed on a peace deal and have paid the compensation levy include Kwagwami, Boko, Jaya, Dunfawa, and Gidan Goga.

“The communities are about 10 in Zurmi LGA. Like Kanwa, they imposed N20 million; Jaya, N17 million; Moriki, N20 million, while Kwagwami, N6.5 million.”

Mahmud also said some residents of Kwagwami were kidnapped recently, adding that the abductees are still in captivity, except the district head who has been freed.

The latest development comes amid attacks on communities in parts of the country, including Zamfara.

Amid several attacks across the state, in July, 20 corpses were reportedly discovered near a stream after bandits invaded Yan-Kukoki and Danbanda communities in Gummi LGA in Zamfara.

In September, 15 worshippers at a mosque in Ruwan Jema in Bukkuyun LGA were said to have been killed by gunmen.

Meanwhile, in January, bandits were said to have imposed a levy of N24 million on nine communities in Bukkuyum LGA.

Efforts to reach Muhammad Shehu, Zamfara police spokesperson, for comments on the “compensation levy” development were unsuccessful as he did not respond to calls and messages.

Also, when contacted, Auwal Bawa, chairman of Zurmi LGA, said he will not “speak on security matters”.

 

Credit: TheCable

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JUST IN: 31-Yr-Old Belgium Star, Eden Hazard Quits International Football

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Belgium star Eden Hazard announced his retirement from international football on Wednesday, days after the team crashed out of the World Cup in the group stage.

The Real Madrid forward, 31, made the announcement on social media, saying “a page turns today”.

“Thank you for your unparalleled support,” he posted on Instagram.

“Thank you for all this happiness shared since 2008. I have decided to put an end to my international career.

“The succession is ready. I will miss you.”

Hazard was the standard-bearer of Belgium’s much-vaunted “golden generation”, which reached the semi-finals at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

The ageing team failed to make it past the first round in Qatar, finishing third in Group F behind Morocco and Croatia.

 

Credit: AFP

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Post-COVID Protest: China Loosens Strict Restrictions 2-Yrs After Pandemic

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China announced Wednesday a nationwide loosening of Covid restrictions following protests against the hardline strategy that grew into calls for greater political freedoms.

Anger over China’s zero-Covid policy, which involved mass lockdowns, constant testing and quarantines even for people who are not infected, stoked unrest not seen since the 1989 pro-democracy protests.

Under the new guidelines announced by the National Health Commission, the frequency and scope of PCR testing — long a tedious mainstay of life in zero-Covid China — will be reduced.

Lockdowns will also be scaled down and people with non-severe Covid cases can isolate at home instead of centralised government facilities.

And people will no longer be required to show a green health code on their phone to enter public buildings and spaces, except for “nursing homes, medical institutions, kindergartens, middle and high schools.”

The new rules scrap the forced quarantines for people with no symptoms or with mild cases.

“Asymptomatic infected persons and mild cases who are eligible for home isolation are generally isolated at home, or they can voluntarily choose centralised isolation for treatment,” the new rules read.

“Mass PCR testing only carried out in schools, hospitals, nursing homes and high-risk work units; scope and frequency of PCR testing to be further reduced,” they added.

“People travelling across provinces do not need to provide a 48h test result and do not need to test upon arrival.”

China will also accelerate the vaccination of the elderly, the NHC said, long seen as a major obstacle to the relaxation of Beijing’s no-tolerance approach to Covid.

Rare demonstrations against the ruling Communist Party’s zero-Covid strategy broke out across China late last month.

They expanded into calls for more political freedoms, with some even calling for President Xi Jinping to resign.

Authorities cracked down on subsequent efforts to protest while easing a number of restrictions, with some Chinese cities tentatively rolling back mass testing and curbs on movement.

The capital Beijing, where many businesses have fully reopened, said this week that commuters were no longer required to show a negative virus test taken within 48 hours to use public transport.

Financial hub Shanghai, which underwent a brutal two-month lockdown this year, announced the same rules, with residents able to enter outdoor venues such as parks and tourist attractions without a recent test.

And once dominated by doom and gloom coverage of the dangers of the virus and scenes of pandemic chaos abroad, China’s tightly controlled media dramatically shifted tone to support a tentative moving away from zero-Covid.

The prevalent Omicron strain is “not at all like last year’s Delta variant,” Guangzhou-based medicine professor Chong Yutian said in an article published by the Communist Party-run China Youth Daily.

“After infection with the Omicron variant, the vast majority will have no or light symptoms, and very few will go on to have severe symptoms, this is already widely known,” he assured readers.

But analysts at Japanese firm Nomura on Monday calculated that 53 cities — home to nearly a third of China’s population — still had some restrictions in place.

Wednesday’s announcement came hours after the government released further data showing the crippling economic impacts of zero-Covid.

Imports and exports plunged in November to levels not seen since early 2020.

Imports in November fell 10.6 percent year-on-year, the biggest drop since May 2020, according to the General Administration of Customs. Exports fell 8.7 percent over the same period.

 

Credit: AFP

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19-Yr-Old Endurance Arrested After Defrauding A British Lady Of £450K And Using The Money To Buy Cars, Gold Chains, Others

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A 19-year-old  man, Iredia Endurance has been arrested by the operatives of Benin Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for alleged fraud.

According to a statement released by Wilson Uwujaren, spokesperson of the anti-graft agencym says Endurance was recently arrested by the Commission following a petition by one Chrstine Brown, a British citizen, alleging that the suspect defrauded her of £450,000.00.

“Upon arrest, the suspect confessed he received £250,000.00 from the complainant in Bitcoin, FedEx and gift cards. On what he did with the money, the suspect averred that they were expanded on cars, gold chains, and landed properties, among others.

Some of the items recovered from the suspect include mobile  phones, laptops, sim cards and landed property.” He added that the suspect will be charged to court as soon as investigations are concluded.

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