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Trump Moves Against Venezuela’s Maduro, Freezes Country’s Assets 

 

US President, Donald Trump, has ordered the immediate frozen of assets of the Venezuelan government due to the “continued usurpation of power” by the country’s leader, Nicolas Maduro.

Trump, in an Executive signed in Washington on Monday said the sanctions took effect immediately and present the latest bid by US to force out of office Maduro who claimed his country’s top kob last year in a hotly disputed ballot.

The U.S. has already used sanctions to target Venezuelan government officials, the central bank and its state-run oil and gas sector, from which the country derives the vast majority of its export earnings.

The Venezuelan economy has collapsed under Maduro, with inflation reaching 130,060 per cent last year and shortages of food and medicines driving millions of people abroad.

The leader of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, Juan Guaido, declared himself interim president in January but despite immediately winning the support of dozens of countries has failed to dislodge Maduro.

On Monday however, Trump accused Maduro’s government of “human rights abuses, arbitrary arrest and detention of Venezuelan citizens, curtailment of free press, and ongoing attempts to undermine Interim President Juan Guaido of Venezuela and the democratically-elected Venezuelan National Assembly.”

The announcement came a day ahead of the International Conference for Democracy in Venezuela in the Peruvian capital Lima, a meeting of representatives from than 50 countries seeking to find a peaceful solution to the crisis in Venezuela.

Trump’s hawkish National Security Advisor John Bolton is to represent the U.S. at the meeting.

In a tweet published around the same time as the executive order, Bolton said he was looking forward to a “productive day”. (dpa/NAN)

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Nigeria’s Trade Surplus with ECOWAS Rises 216% to N1.14trn

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Nigeria’s trade surplus with countries in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) rose by 216 per cent, Year-on-Year, YoY to N1.14 trillion in the first quarter of 2024, Q1’24.

Analysis of foreign trade data for Q1’24 released by the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS showed that Nigeria’s export to ECOWAS countries rose YoY by 213 per cent to N1.

25 trillion in Q1’24 from N399.
19 billion in Q1’23.

On the other hand Nigeria’s import from ECOWAS countries rose by YoY by 167 per cent to N113.04 billion in Q1’24 from N42.296 billion in Q1’23.

Data from the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS showed that Nigeria’s main trading export partners within the ECOWAS region in the quarter are Ivory Coast (N744.

59 billion), Senegal (N361.29 billion), Benin (N55.67 billion), Togo (N38.01 billion) and Ghana (N33.75 billion) altogether representing 98.61 percent of total export to ECOWAS countries.

Nigeria’s major import trade partner within ECOWAS in the period under review was the Ivory Coast (N51.41 billion) followed by Togo (N40.86 billion), Ghana (N13.61 billion), Liberia (N3.96 billion) and Benin Republic (N1.04 billion) representing 98.10 percent of total imports from the ECOWAS region.

NBS stated: “Exports to ECOWAS member states totaled N1,250.71 billion, while imports amounted to N113.04 billion.  The main commodities exported to ECOWAS countries in the first quarter of 2024 are Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals worth N1,074.70 billion (85.93 percent of total exports to ECOWAS), Electrical energy (optional heading) (N58.65 billion or 4.69 percent), Urea, whether or not in aqueous solution (N29.45 billion or 2.35 percent), Flours and meals of soya beans (N9.20 billion or 0.74 percent)) and Other excluding White cement (N6.66 billion or 0.53percent). The top five exported products represent 94.24percent of the total exports to the ECOWAS region.”

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Nusuk Card didn’t Stop Illegal Migrants from Accessing Hajj Camp- NAHCON

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The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) says the Nusuk card introduced by Saudi authorities to prevent illegal migrants from gaining access to pilgrims’ tents at the sites of hajj rituals didn’t achieve its essence totally.

Dr Aliyu Tanko, the Chairman, Committee on Movement of Pilgrims, said this in an interview with newsmen on Tuesday at Mina in Makkah, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Reports says that Nusuk card is a crucial document introduced by Saudi authorities for identification of pilgrims to enable them again access to sites of hajj rituals.

The introduction of the card became necessary due to the increased incidence of fake pilgrims and illegal migrants during the core hajj rites period in the past.

Tanko said, “Unfortunately, even before the arrival of Nigerian pilgrims at the ritual sites, illegal migrants have already gained access to the area.

” To be frank with you, even before we left Makkah to Mina with our pilgrims, illegal migrants have gained access to the area, in spite of the introduction of the NUSUK card for easy identification of real pilgrims.

” And that has clearly shown that the NUSUK card introduced by the Saudi authority to prevent illegal people from gaining access to tents in Mina, Arafat and Muzzalifah has failed.

” Therefore, the essence of the card has not been achieved, even though it has worked to some extent but the objective of stopping fake pilgrims and illegal migrants has not been totally achieved.”

Tanko, however, said that with the support of the Saudi authorities, the commission was able to overcome most of the challenges anticipated during the hajj.

He said, ” To Allah be the glory, we have come to the end of the 2024 Hajj rites in Mina and the pilgrims have returned to Makkah, which signaled the conclusion of the exercise.

” The 2024 Hajj came with a lot of things and we have overcome all the challenges we anticipated.

” Therefore, we have recorded tremendous successes.”

Reports says the NAHCON officials on Monday intercepted two illegal migrants of Nigerian descent, Muhammed Umar and Nazifi Tasi’u GARBA,. over infiltration of the pilgrims’ tents amidst concerns regarding overstretched accommodation and petty theft.

Consequently, the suspects were handed over to the Saudi Police, where their biometrics were obtained and a fine of 10,000 Saudi Riyals was imposed on each of them to be paid whenever they were leaving the country. (NAN)

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China Slams NATO’s Stoltenberg for Comments on Role in Ukraine War

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 The Chinese Foreign Ministry expressed sharp criticism on Tuesday of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s statement that allies in the alliance should impose a cost on China for its support of Russia in the war in Ukraine.

NATO should engage in self-reflection, rather than smear China, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lin Jian said in Beijing.

During a visit to the United States, Stoltenberg said China was ostensibly keeping out of the conflict, while in reality fuelling the largest armed conflict in Europe since World War II.

“And at the same time, it wants to maintain good relations with the West. Well, Beijing cannot have it both ways.

“At some point – and unless China changes course – allies need to impose a cost,” Stoltenberg said.

Lin responded that China was not party to the Ukraine crisis and was committed to promoting peace talks.

Beijing is seen in the West as Russia’s staunchest ally, offering support on the international stage while remaining ostensibly neutral.

The U.S. has imposed sanctions on a number of Chinese companies for supplying Russia with technology for manufacturing arms.

Lin called on the “relevant parties” to stop deflecting the blame and fuelling the flames and to take concrete actions to promote the political settlement of the crisis. (dpa/NAN)

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