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Buhari Arrives Abuja From UNGA Engagements

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President Muhammadu Buhari returned to Abuja after his engagements at the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA74), in New York, USA, on Saturday morning, a day ahead of schedule.

News Agency of Nigeria reports that the president was initially scheduled to return to Abuja on Sunday morning at about 7.

00a.
m.

However, the presidential aircraft carrying the president, his aides and some members of his entourage landed at the presidential wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja early Saturday morning.

NAN gathered that the president’s decision to return home was informed by the fact that he was able to complete all his official engagements in time.

The president, who left Abuja on Sept. 22 for New York, participated actively in the main and High Side Events of the UNGA74.

NAN reports that the first official engagement of Buhari at the UNGA74 was on Monday in New York where he addressed the United Nations Climate Action Summit with the theme, “A Race We Can Win. A Race We Must Win.”

At the event, Buhari announced robust plans and initiatives by his administration to reverse the negative effects of climate change in Nigeria.

While sharing the sentiment expressed by the UN Secretary-General that the world is on the verge of climate catastrophe, President Buhari stated that ”undeniably, Climate Change is a human-induced phenomenon.”

The president had on Sept. 24 presented the country’s National Statement as the fifth speaker on the first day of the General Debate during the UNGA74 where he among other issues alerted the world on attempts by international criminal groups to cheat Nigeria of billions.

While at the UNGA74, the president also participated in high level side events on Water and Sanitation as well as ‘SDG Integration – Bridging the Policy Planning – Budgeting Gap for the Achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.’

On Sept. 26, the president presented an address at the High-Level National Side-Event organised by the African Union Development Agency and New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AUDA-NEPAD).

President Buhari also held several bilateral meetings with world leaders, international organisations, world business gurus and Nigerian Youths Climate Group before departing New York on Friday. (NAN)

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1 killed as Kenyan Anti-government Protests Intensify Again

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At least one person was killed in renewed anti-government protests across Kenya on Tuesday, a Reuters reporter said, as police clashed with demonstrators demanding that President William Ruto step down.

Youth-led nationwide protests that broke out a month ago against proposed tax hikes have continued even after Ruto withdrew the legislation and fired almost all of his cabinet.

Activists say they want Ruto to resign and are calling for systemic changes to clean up corruption and address poor governance.

At least 50 people have been killed in the protests to date, the government-funded Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) said on Tuesday.

In Kitengela, a town on the southern outskirts of the capital Nairobi, police fired repeatedly in the direction of hundreds of protesters, some of whom were throwing rocks, Reuters TV footage showed.

The protesters also burned tyres, waved Kenyan flags and chanted “Ruto must go!”

A Reuters reporter saw the body of one protester lying on the ground with blood oozing from a head wound.

The national police spokesperson declined to comment.

Tuesday’s protests appeared to be some of the biggest since Ruto withdrew the tax increases on June 26.

The Nation newspaper reported demonstrations in at least 23 of Kenya’s 47 counties.

In Nairobi’s city centre, riot police fired tear gas at several dozen protesters. An ambulance service posted footage on X showing its personnel carrying away someone injured there on a stretcher.

Demonstrators in the coastal city of Mombasa waved palm fronds as they marched, while litter burned in the street, images on Kenyan television channels showed.

The protests have created the biggest crisis of Ruto’s two years in power.

With Kenya spending over 30 per cent of its revenues just paying the interest bills on its debt, he has been caught between the demands of lenders to cut deficits and a hard-pressed population reeling from rising living costs.

“Ruto is very incompetent. He has no leadership skills. He just wanted the title of president of this country,” said one protester in Nairobi who did not give his name.

“The guy is a puppet to the IMF. That is it. Whatever he’s doing, he’s doing for the IMF.”

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has been a major target of the ire of young Kenyan protesters, who have accused it of being the driving force behind the proposed tax hikes.

The IMF has said its main goal through its lending programmes with Kenya has been helping the country overcome economic challenges and improve its people’s well-being.

Ruto’s office had announced “multi-sectoral” talks for this week to address grievances raised by the protesters, but there was no sign they had begun.

Most of the leading activists behind the protests have rejected the invitation, instead calling for immediate action on issues like corruption.

Ruto’s spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

The protests began peacefully but later turned violent.

Some demonstrators briefly stormed parliament on June 25, and the police opened fire.

In addition to the 50 deaths, 413 people have been injured, 682 have been arbitrarily detained and 59 have been abducted or are missing in connection with the protests, KNCHR said.

Ruto has promised to investigate accusations of abuse but has broadly defended the conduct of the police and accused criminals of hijacking peaceful protests.

On Monday, he accused the Ford Foundation, an American philanthropic organisation, of sponsoring those who had caused “violence and mayhem” in Kenya, without providing evidence.

The Ford Foundation rejected the allegation, saying it did not fund or sponsor the protests and has a strictly non-partisan policy for its grant-making. (Reuters/NAN)

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Court Nullifies ECOWAS Commission Staff’s Dismissal

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The ECOWAS Court of Justice has nullified the dismissal of Mr Momodu Cham, a former staff of the Commission, saying it breached Article 69 of the ECOWAS staff regulations.

Cham had filed the suit following his dismissal from his position as a Procurement Officer with the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing (GIABA), a specialised ECOWAS agency.

The applicant, a community citizen residing in Banjul, Gambia, had joined the Economic Commission for West African States (ECOWAS) and its President, as first and second Respondents, respectively, in the suit challenging his sack.

Delivering judgment, Justice Dupe Atoki, the Judge Rapporteur, held that the cessation of Cham’s salary by the Commission before the exhaustion of the appeal process was arbitrary, unlawful, null, and void.

According to Justice Atoki, the action of the Commission is contrary to Article 73(b) of the ECOWAS Staff Regulations.

The Court, therefore, ordered the Respondents to pay Cham his salary arrears and other entitlements from January 2021 to June 2021, as compensation.

It further ordered the Commission to pay Mr Cham’s salaries and emoluments from July to December 2021 as compensation for the unlawful dismissal.

“Requesting an on-the-spot response to charges without prior notice or an opportunity to prepare a defense violates procedural safeguards outlined in the ECOWAS Staff Regulations.

“The regulations are designed to ensure an Applicant’s rights are fully maintained until the Council’s final decision.

“Consequently, the summary dismissal of the Applicant by the 2nd Respondent breached Article 69 of the regulation.

“Therefore, the cessation of the Applicant’s salary and other emoluments after invoking the right of appeal is a violation of Article 73(b) of the ECOWAS Staff Regulations,” Justice Atoki held.

The Court, however, declined to grant any orders for mandatory injunctions against the Commission and reinstatement of the applicant .

The Applicant had contended at the trial that he was suspended on July 11, 2019, following a forensic audit report by Ernst and Young UK, which implicated him in irregularities related to the purchase of IT equipment for GIABA.

He said that on Jan. 26, 2021, he was summarily dismissed, and his salaries and emoluments were withheld in violation of the ECOWAS Staff Regulations.

Cham had prayed the court to grant him several reliefs, including a declaration that his dismissal was arbitrary, null, and void.

He also sought an order setting aside his dismissal and the immediate payment of his salary arrears and other entitlements from January 2021.

The applicant had also prayed for his reinstatement to his position as a Procurement Officer and compensation for costs incurred in prosecuting the suit.

The Respondents, in their defense, had however, maintained that the applicant was properly suspended and later dismissed following a forensic audit report and a subsequent query.

They had also argued that the dismissal was appropriate due to the allegations of gross misconduct, embezzlement, theft, fraud, and abuse of trust.

The three-member panel also had Justices Gberi-bè Ouattara, presiding, and  Sengu Mohamed Koroma, as a member.(NAN)

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UN Warns Against Israeli Evacuation Orders in Gaza

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UN humanitarians on Wednesday warned against Israeli evacuation orders in Gaza City, noting that it will only fuel mass further suffering for Palestinians.

The directive, issued by the Israeli military, follows evacuation orders affecting several parts of the city in recent days.

“These civilians must be protected – and their essential needs must be met, whether they flee or stay,” UN reliet coordinator office (OCHA) said in a statement.

“This is what we mean when we say that all parties must respect international humanitarian law, at all times.

The situation is unfolding as a new round of negotiations towards a ceasefire in Gaza resumed in Doha, Qatar, on Wednesday.

OCHA noted, however that the evacuation orders “are also forcing the humanitarian community to reset their aid operations over and over again.”

“Aid workers are responding, but what they can deliver falls far short of needs,” UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Muhannad Hadi, said on Wednesday in a post  on the social media platform X, formerly Twitter.

He stressed that “more funding is urgently needed – as is a safe, enabling environment inside Gaza.”

Mr. Hadi visited Deir Al-Balah on Tuesday, where he witnessed firsthand the consequences of the breakdown in public order and safety as he entered and exited the Kerem Shalom crossing, OCHA reported.

“He saw groups of men with sticks waiting for trucks to leave the Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza. All trucks he passed were badly damaged, with broken windshields, mirrors and hoods,” the agency added.

The Humanitarian Coordinator also observed bags of fortified flour from the World Food Programme (WFP) and UN agency assisting Palestine refugees (UNRWA) scattered alongside the road coming out of Kerem Shalom.

The top official “also saw that the city of Khan Younis has largely been reduced to sand and rubble, without a single structure left untouched.”

While in Gaza, Hadi met with women’s groups who told him about the harrowing conditions at sites for displaced people.

Many women have cut off their hair due to lice, difficulties in accessing shampoo and other personal hygiene products, and the lack of privacy, for example.

Others voiced despair over the inability to provide for their families, especially for relatives living with disabilities and those who are sick.

Women also reported on how extreme overcrowding in displacement sites can lead to tensions within communities.

They also said that overcrowding, despair and the breakdown in public order and safety are fueling an increase in sexual and gender-based violence.

Hadi also visited the IMC Field Hospital in Deir Al-Balah, together with the Regional Director of the World Health Organiwation (WHO), Hanan Balkhy.

Hadi said he was humbled to see how doctors and nurses provided trauma care for hundreds of patients with severe wounds, despite nearly impossible operational conditions, including the inability to get basic medical supplies such as gauze,” the agency said.

OCHA also reported on Wednesday that it had documented more than 1,000 Israeli settler attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank since October, leading to casualties and damage to property, trees, and saplings.

Nearly 1,400 people, including 660 children, in more than two dozen Bedouin and herding communities have been displaced during the same period due to settler violence and access restrictions.

OCHA added that Israeli forces in the West Bank killed 14 Palestinians between July 2 and 8, the vast majority during two operations in the Jenin and Tulkarm cities and their adjacent refugee camps. (NAN)

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