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Tinubu’s Administration on Track to Address Humanitarian Crises – UN Envoy

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United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Matthias Schmale says President Bola Tinubu-led administration is on track in addressing humanitarian crises in Nigeria.

Schmale said this while answering questions from the UN correspondent in New York on his experience working with the Nigerian Government.

Schmale, who was at UN headquarters in New York to attend Resident Coordinators retreat commended the efforts of the Government of Nigeria on addressing humanitarian crises.

“I think that the Tinubu’s administration is on a good track; the President recently launched Presidential Humanitarian Trust Fund and he is asked at this trust to address humanitarian crises.

“He’s asked that this trust fund is resourced two thirds from within Nigeria, private sector and government, each and a third international community solidarity.

“So, we think that’s the right way to go in Nigeria, despite some desperate indicators around poverty and so on as a middle income country.

“We welcome that the government under President Tinubu sees it as their responsibility to drive preparedness and response to humanitarian concerns,’’ he said,

The Federal Executive Council had on October 24 approved the creation of a Humanitarian and Poverty Trust Fund to raise at least a sum of five billion dollars annually.

The goal of the trust fund is to enable the Federal Government to respond promptly to humanitarian situations in the country.

The funds will be sourced from the Federal Government, private and international organisations as well as well-meaning individuals.

According to him, development Agenda is very high for the government and some people will argue you can prevent the fertile ground from combat for violent extremism growing if you invest into development.

“You will have heard from our leadership, the UN Secretary General and the Deputy Secretary General and around rescuing the Sustainable Development Goals  (SDGs) agenda.

“The new government is very much up for that. We are urging the international community to take up the request for partnership to rescue the SDG agenda and help them accelerate development.’’

Answering questions on the security situation in the Northeast, he said that the Nigerian military had achieved what they call kinetic success in fighting the Boko Haram.

“So, Boko Haram, again, as a summary term is weaker than it used to be.

“Our assessment would be that they cannot sustain the kinds of military campaigns against the military but instead, what they are doing is inflicting violence on civilians, you know their violence has become more unpredictable.’’

The UN envoy said the organisation had been seeing rising numbers of civilians being killed and tortured because they do random attacks all over the places, which also means it’s become less safe for civilians, but also humanitarian, so that hasn’t changed.

In addition, he expressed concern over the instability in Niger that Islamic violent extremist groups from the country might also spread to the northeast Nigeria.

“So right now, North Nigeria I think is relatively safe and protected from those influences as much as it can be but the region itself is not.

“For the UN, I think it’s fair to say the influence of violent extremist groups remains of grave concern,’’ Schmale said.

NAN reports that Schmale, also visited  Washington, DC, where he discussed humanitarian, development and peacebuilding challenges and opportunities with interlocutors from the United States.

He met with officials from the U.S. State Department, USAID, the U.S. Institute of Peace, civil society and the media  as well as senior staffers from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee.

He highlighted the troubling humanitarian situation in northeastern Nigeria and the importance of international support and strengthened partnerships to address humanitarian needs, accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, and combat violent extremism.

In Nigeria’s northeast, where some 700,000 children are suffering from life-threatening severe acute malnutrition, UN colleagues – working in support of the Nigerian Government – have managed to reach 3.5 million people with critical aid – in the areas of food, healthcare and shelter. (NAN)

Foreign News

World Leaders React to Biden’s Withdrawal From U.S. Presidential Race

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President Joe Biden’s decision on Sunday to end his campaign to seek reelection in November is generating reactions from foreign leaders.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he had known President Biden for years and that “He’s a great man.

“Everything he does is guided by his love for his country.

As President, he is a partner to Canadians — and a true friend.

“To President Biden and the First Lady: thank you.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in his reaction on X, said, “Joe Biden has achieved a great deal – for his country, for Europe, for the world,

“Thanks to him, transatlantic cooperation is close, NATO is strong, and the U.

S. is a good and reliable partner for us.

“His decision not to run again deserves recognition.”

Reacting in a statement, new British Prime Minister Keir Starmer said, “I respect President Biden’s decision and I look forward to us working together during the remainder of his presidency.”

He added: “I know that, as he has done throughout his remarkable career, President Biden will have made his decision based on what he believes is in the best interests of the American people.”

Israeli defense minister Yoav Gallant on his part thanked Biden for his unwavering support of Israel over the years.

“Your steadfast backing, especially during the war, has been invaluable.

“We are grateful for your leadership and friendship,” he added.

SPANISH PRIME MINISTER PEDRO SANCHEZ ON X:

Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez in his comments on X said he admired “the brave and dignified decision of president @JoeBiden.

“Thanks to his determination and leadership.

“The U.S. overcame the economic crisis after the pandemic and the serious assault on the Capitol and has been exemplary in its support for Ukraine in the face of Putin’s Russian aggression.

“A great gesture from a great president who has always fought for democracy and freedom.”

Irish prime minister Simon Harris said in a statement: “On behalf of the people and government of Ireland. I … would like to thank you Mr President for your global leadership and your friendship as you make your announcement that you will not stand in the 2024 U.S. Presidential election.”

Harris who reacted in a statement added:

“Joe Biden, in all the offices he has held, has always been an unwavering voice and passionate worker for peace on the island of Ireland and our country owes him a great debt for this.”

Some of the other world leaders who reacted to Biden’s withdrawal are: Kremlin spokesperson Dmitri Peskov who in an interview with shot News outlet, said: “The elections are still four months away.

”And that is a long period of time in which a lot can change.

”We need to be patient and carefully monitor what happens.”

”The priority for us is the special military operation,” Peskov added, referring to the war in Ukraine.

Norwegian prime minister Jonas Stoere, his Polish and Czech counterparts Donald Tusk and Petr Fiala respectively reacted to Biden’s withdrawal from the U.S. presidential race. (Reuters/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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