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Dickson Seeks International Support For Bayelsa Polls

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Bayelsa State Governor Seriake Dickson
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Bayelsa State Governor, Honourable Henry Seriake Dickson, has called on the United States Mission in Nigeria and the international community to prevail on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), security forces and other key agencies of state on the need for neutrality in the November 16, governorship election in the state.

His Special Adviser on Public Affairs, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, quoted the governor as making the call on Wednesday, while receiving the Deputy Chief of the US Mission in Nigeria, Kathleen Fitzgibbon, at Government House, Yenagoa.

Dickson thanked the United States and friends of Nigeria for their interest in the conduct of elections in the country, especially the electoral process which he said was more important than the out come.

He urged the international  community to pay special attention to the state and not limit their scope to Lagos and Abuja.

Dickson recalled the wanton destruction of lives and property and the unprofessional conduct on the part of INEC and security agencies like the Army during the last general election in the state.

“I know there are some challenges and this is one state that has challenges during election. Challenges of how to restrain the youths, of power, of how to support the institutions and agencies of
state whose neutrality should be as clear as anything else. Killings and all kinds of things take place in the name of elections.

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“We know the importance of your visit. So, we call on your Mission to show more support to the agencies of state, INEC, to the law enforcement agencies, to keep making the point about the need for neutrality, and to also use your very wonderful network and access to raise this concern.

“So I look forward to working with you and your team in the area of information sharing. In the area of letting people know when we see the red flags. Very often those red flags are ignored and the red flags are all there. Your interest is legitimate to me.”

The Bayelsa chief executive also appealed to the Mission to dialogue with the opposition parties in the state to propagate a violence-free governorship election, noting that the poll is about his successor and legacies.

The governor called for understanding and partnership in
peace building and development, stressing that his administration has succeeded in stabilising the state through targeted investment in critical sectors like education, health, infrastructure and human
capacity development among others.

Earlier, the Deputy Chief of US Mission in Nigeria, Kathleen Fitzgibbon, said the delegation is in the state to ascertain the challenges that could hinder the conduct of the November 16 governorship election.

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Fitzgibbon assured that the Mission was focused on engaging the federal government, international community and other critical stakeholders to ensure peaceful, credible, fair and hitch-free election in the state.

The Deputy Chief of Mission, who said she visited Bayelsa 19 years ago, however lauded Governor Dickson for his developmental
strides, which she said has hugely transformed the landscape of the state.


Foreign News

Witnesses challenge Israel’s killing of Palestinian

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An eyewitness to the killing of a Palestinian by Israeli forces has told the BBC he believes the man was shot simply for punching a policeman.

Ammar Mefleh was killed at close range in the occupied West Bank last Friday.

He is the 10th Palestinian shot dead by Israeli troops in the space of a week.

Video of the shooting drew a massive reaction online and sparked a diplomatic rebuke by Israel to a top UN official who said he was “horrified” at the killing.

Israeli officials praised the officer involved saying he responded after the Palestinian stabbed a policeman in the face, and his actions prevented a “mass terror attack”.

Palestinian leaders described it as an execution “in cold blood”.

Mr Mefleh, 22, was killed in the Palestinian town of Huwara, which lies on a main road frequently used by Israeli settlers and has been the scene of growing violence in recent months.

This year in the West Bank more than 150 Palestinians have been killed, nearly all by Israeli forces. The dead include unarmed civilians, militant gunmen and armed attackers.

Meanwhile a series of Palestinian attacks targeting Israelis, as well as militant gunfire at troops during arrest raids, have killed more than 30 people including civilians, police and soldiers. 

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The footage from Friday, shared extensively online, was rare in capturing in detail part of the event that led up to the shooting. The last 13 seconds are caught in a second video from another angle.

In the recording, the Israeli officer is seen holding Mr Mefleh in a headlock as the pair struggle. Two other Palestinians are in the melee at first, but then step back.

After Mr Mefleh struggles out of the headlock, he tries to grab the policeman’s rifle. As they wrestle over the weapon the officer takes a hand off it – first to try to hit the Palestinian, who strikes him back – then to reach for his pistol.

Mr Mefleh for a split second has hold of the rifle but almost instantly throws it down or lets go of it, recoiling as he sees the officer raise his pistol. The policeman shoots him instantly, four times.

Following his killing, a popular Israeli news website reported that the officer had “eliminated the terrorist”. The footage was repeatedly circulated on Palestinian social media with people appalled at the killing.

The UN’s envoy to the region, Tor Wennesland, tweeted that he was “horrified by today’s killing of a Palestinian man, Ammar Mefleh, during a scuffle with an Israeli soldier,” calling for those responsible to be held accountable.

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A spokesman for the Israeli foreign ministry, Emmanuel Nahshon, tweeted in response that Mr Wennesland’s reaction was a “total distortion of reality”.

“The incident is a terror attack, in which an Israeli policeman was stabbed in his face and the life of another officer was threatened and consequently he shot his assailant,” Mr Nahshon added.

“This is NOT a ‘scuffle’ – this is a terror attack”.

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Foreign News

Latvia Axes Exiled Russian Broadcaster TV Rain

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Russia’s last independent television channel, TV Rain, has been shut down in Latvia after less than five months on air.

The channel, which is known as Dozhd in Russian, has been accused of showing content that supports Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

TV Rain has called the allegations “unfair and absurd” in a post on social media.

It has been ordered to stop broadcasting on 8 December.

TV Rain says it will obey the order but will remain on YouTube, which is where most of its audience watches its content. However, it will no longer be able to broadcast on cable television inside Latvia, which has a large Russian speaking population.

The National Electronic Media Council (NEPLP), Latvia’s media regulator, said the decision to revoke the licence was taken “in connection with threats to national security and public order”.

Earlier this month, the regulator fined the channel €10,000 (£8,613; $10,488) for displaying a map in which occupied Crimea was shown as part of Russia’s territory.

It was also censured for calling the Russian army “our army” in a piece about how to provide recruits with supplies. One of the broadcaster’s hosts, Alexei Korostelyov, was fired as a result.

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The decision has been criticised by many opposition figures in Russia, who argue that TV Rain is an important source of independent information for Russian speakers about the war.

“There is Putin, who started the war. There is TV Rain, which tells the truth about Putin and about the war. Stripping TV Rain of its licence only helps Putin,” said Kira Yarmysh, press-secretary to jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

The charity Reporters Without Borders called the move a “serious blow to freedom of information”.

The channel, which has long been critical of Vladimir Putin and the Russian government, was blocked in Russia in early March, just days after Moscow invaded Ukraine.

Many employees then fled Russia, and later started work on rebuilding Dozhd abroad. It is one of several independent media outlets to have moved its operations out of Russia or suspended them since the invasion.

The State Security Service (VDD) has been investigating the incident and said it has repeatedly warned about the “various risks emanating from Russia’s so-called independent media relocating their activity to Latvia”.

The VDD said these risks include the possible connections of media representatives to Russian intelligence and security services, as well as the danger posed if Moscow seeks to target Latvia as part of measures to influence public opinion online and elsewhere.

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Commenting on its decision to revoke TV Rain’s broadcasting licence, NEPLP added that it “was convinced that the management of TV Rain did not understand the nature and gravity of each individual infringement, nor of any set of infringements”.

Meanwhile, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters that “some always think that there is a place better than home, that there is always more freedom than at home. This is one of the clearest examples that shows that these are the wrong illusions”.

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Foreign News

Iran abolishes morality police, plans to review hijab laws

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The Islamic Republic of Iran disbanded its morality police following the widespread protests that erupted in the country from the death of a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini in their custody, according to AFP.

Amini was arrested and detained by the morality police for breaching the hijab women’s dress code on September 13 and she died on September 16, which triggered demonstrations the following day.

Iran’s Attorney General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri said the country’s parliament and judiciary are reviewing the mandatory hijab law, according to pro-reform outlet Entekhab.

Montazeri was also quoted as saying morality police had been “abolished” but the media has not been given attention to make comments, saying the interior ministry supervises the force, not the judiciary.

On the hijab law, Montazeri said, “We know you feel anguished when you witness [women] without a hijab in cities, do you think the officials are silent about it? As someone who is in the field of this issue, I say that both the parliament and the judiciary are working, for example, just yesterday we had a meeting with the cultural commission of the parliament, and you will see the results within the next week or two.

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Reacting to a reporter who asked if the country’s morality police were being disbanded, Montazeri said, “Morality police have nothing to do with the judiciary. It was abolished from the same place it was launched. Of course, the judiciary will continue to monitor society’s behaviour.”

The country has been protesting and the majority of the women have been actively involved, despite the crackdown by the security agents. Two prominent Iranian actresses – Hengameh Ghaziani and Katayoun Riahi were arrested for colluding with protesters.

Iranians, in their continued agitation, celebrated the country’s loss to the USA at the World Cup tournament in Qatar on Tuesday. The incident led to the killing of Mehran Samak shot by the police.(vanguard)

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