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U.S. Bans Nigerian Anti-Democracy Agents From Obtaining Entry Visas

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The U.S. administration has said it would henceforth deny entry visas to persons it described as “individuals responsible for undermining the Nigerian democratic process”.

Some of those to be denied visas are persons involved in election violence, a spokesperson of the U.S. Department of State, Ms Morgan Ortagus, announced on Tuesday.

According to the spokesman, such persons “operated with impunity at the expense of the Nigerian people and undermined democratic principles and human rights”, in reference to the recently conducted 2019 general elections which claimed at least 39 lives across the country in election-related violence.

Ortgaus said the action, was in fulfillment of the U.S. government’s earlier promise to consider sanctions against anti-democratic forces, including organisers of election-related violence in the country.

“In a Jauary 24 statement, the U.S. government said that we would consider consequences – including visa restrictions – for individuals responsible for undermining the Nigerian democratic process or for organising election-related violence.

“To that end, the Secretary of State is imposing visa restrictions on Nigerians believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining democracy in Nigeria.

“These individuals have operated with impunity at the expense of the Nigerian people and undermined democratic principles and human rights,” she said.

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The spokesperson emphasised that the restrictions targeted at specific individuals and not directed at the Nigerian people or the newly-elected government.

She explained that the decision reflected the Department’s commitment to working with the Nigerian government in its anti-corruption crusade and efforts to strengthen democracy, accountability and respect for human rights.

“The United States is a steadfast supporter of Nigerian democracy.

“We commend all those Nigerians who participated peacefully in the February and March 2019 elections and have worked to strengthen Nigerian democratic institutions and processes.

“As Nigeria marks the 20th anniversary of a return to democratic rule this year, we remain committed to working together to continue to advance democracy and respect for human rights and achieve greater peace and prosperity for both our nations.

“We condemn those whose acts of violence, intimidation, or corruption harmed Nigerians or undermined the democratic process,” the spokesperson added.(NAN)

Foreign News

Israel Extols 30years of Renewed Diplomatic Relations With Nigeria

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Amb. Michael Freeman, Ambassador of Israel to Nigeria, has extolled the maiden nine-day project on “Art of friendship” in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of Israel-Nigeria renewed diplomatic relations.

Freeman said this to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Abuja, on the sidelines  of the ongoing project implementation fixed from Jan.

30, to Feb. 8, 2023.

The envoy said that the project was carried out in patnership with Orisun Art Gallery to mark the 30 years of renewed diplomatic relations between Israel and Nigeria since 1992.

According to him, the project by Ella Amitai Sadovsky, an Israeli Artist and Dr Peju Layiwola, Nigerian Artist, was designed to promote diplomatic ties and friendship between the two countries.

Freeman said, “Israel and Nigeria are marking renewed diplomatic relations of 30 years of renewed friendship; we chose to symbolise this by hosting event with two world renowned artists.

“One artist from Nigeria and one from Israel have come together in Abuja after working for six-months, to produce one unique piece of art.

“In the past, they have been artists that worked together and collaborated to produce their own piece, but this two artists are to produce one unique piece that both will work on.

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“To reflect Nigeria-Israel and the relationship between the two countries, we chose art because it is an expressive form which allows people talk about their desires.

“Art is open to interpretation, possibilities; it reminds us all the time and it lasts for ever; every person sees a different opportunity, potential and ways of seeing piece of art.”

He mentioned that the art-piece would reflect diverse opportuninty, potential and values that showcase Israel/Nigeria agriculture, waterways, economic cooperation and beautiful landscape.

Freeman explained that the collaborative project was organised to commemorate the anniversary, showcase gallery of art for auction to raise funds for charity donation to less privileged in Israeli-NGO and Nigerian-NGO respectively.

In separate interview, Israeli Artist, Amitai Sadovsky, commended the project initiative to be designed for Nigerians to know more about Israel and for Israelis to know about Nigeria.

Amitai Sadovsky said, “It is very important to know not as a tourist but in person, to know not just Nigeria Artist, Dr Peju Layiwola, but many other artists here as well and to share ideas, thoughts and materials.

“The art industry or techniques are not so important, you can learn it; the major thing is to study about the similarity in history that we both have.

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“The Israeli Jewish people were also colonised, for two thousand years, yet in less than75 years we are in Israel after an exile of more than 2000 years.”

For her part, Nigerian Artist, Layiwola described the project as unique, saying it would foster exchange of ideas by people-to-people between both countries.

“I think it is unique in the sense that we are not doing separate pieces of art, we are working on same platform.

“Both of us are creating work on the same platform in a very unique experience, I think it is the first of its kind really, when you think about how artists work.

“People say that artists like their own space and I think that we have come together as one to synergise our ideas and create this artwork, which will be auctioned.

“It is a platform for us to exchange ideas and techniques and products; it is a learning curve, she is learning from me, just as I am learning from her,” Layiwola said. (NAN) 

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UN Deputy Chief, Amina Mohammed Concludes 3-day Trip to Rome

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UN Deputy Secretary-General, Ms Amina Mohammed, on Friday concluded her 3-day trip to Rome where she met with the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Antonio Tajani.

UN Spokesman, Mr Stéphane Dujarric, told newsmen at the UN headquarters in New York that it was at the meeting with Tajani that she informed him about the Food Summit.

“In the meeting, it was announced that Italy would host the UN Food Systems Stocktaking Moment, which will take place in Rome from July 24 to 26.

“The aim of the high-level meeting is to provide opportunities for countries to report on progress made at the national level since the UN Food Systems Summit in 2021, as well as their contributions to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda,’’ he said.

Dujarric said countries would review progress towards transforming food systems worldwide at a three-day meeting in Rome.

The so-called UN Food Systems Stocktaking Moment is the first global follow-up to a 2021 summit convened to change how the world produces, consumes and thinks about food.

The high-level event falls at the halfway point for achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development (SDGs), which provide a blueprint for a more fair, equitable and “green” world.

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“I am looking forward to Italy’s leadership in bringing together stakeholders to create the evidence that food systems transformation is a critical SDGs accelerator,’’ Mohammed quoted as saying.

Mohammed further stressing that “more sustainable, equitable, healthy and resilient food systems directly impact people’s lives and livelihoods as we strive for a better future for people and for the planet.”

During the Stocktaking Moment, countries will share stories of success and early signs of transformation, while maintaining the momentum needed to ensure resilient food systems.

It will take place from July 24 to July 26 at the headquarter of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in the Italian capital.

Italy will host, in collaboration with FAO and two other UN agencies – the international Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) – which are also based in Rome.

The UN Food Systems Coordination Hub, which supports governments in developing and implementing agrifood system transformation, and the wider UN system, are also organisers.

The three-day meeting will provide an opportunity for countries to report on progress made since the UN Food Systems Summit in September 2021, held online, where more than 50,000 people, including 77 world leaders, committed to accelerate action on transformation.

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At the Stocktaking Moment, governments will also assess their contributions to achieving sustainable development despite a current global context that has substantially changed.

The UN reports that the number of people worldwide who cannot afford a healthy diet rose by an additional 112 million between 2019 to 2020, to almost 3.1 billion, reflecting the impacts of rising food prices during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Italy has welcomed its role as host and co-organiser, said Deputy Prime Minister Antonio Tajani, who is also the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

“Italy, with the strategic involvement of its strong and innovative agrifood sector, is committed to play an increasingly active role in supporting the efforts of the international community to promote food security and transformative and innovative solutions for sustainable and efficient food systems throughout the world,” he said.

“As one of the oldest and most influential food cultures of the world, we intend to play our part in addressing one of the key challenges for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.”

The Stocktaking Moment will further highlight the central role of food systems transformations in overall SDG advancement ahead of the Sustainable Development Goals Summit in September.

The UN and Italy urged countries and stakeholders to “prepare and seize the opportunity” to reaffirm global commitment to act with urgency, in line with the promise of the SDGs. (NAN)

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Russia Preparing Massive Missile Attack on Ukraine – Spokesperson

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Russia is preparing a massive new missile attack on targets in Ukraine, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s southern military command said yesterday.

The spokesperson pointed to movements by the Russian Black Sea fleet.

Most of the fleet had returned to their bases, and this suggests a new missile strike, Natalya Humenyuk told Ukrainian television.

Since Russian forces launched a campaign of missile attacks on Ukrainian cities and infrastructure in October, most of the cruise missiles have been fired from naval vessels on the Black Sea.

The fire was from naval vessels on the Black Sea and Caspian Sea or from strategic bombers.

According to Humenyuk, only 10 Russian ships are still at sea.

“They show their muscle for a time at sea, demonstrate their presence and control over the situation and then sail to the bases, where they usually prepare for manoeuvres for a massive missile attack,’’ he Ukrainian military spokesperson has said.

Russian missile attacks have severely impaired Ukraine’s electrical power supply and other utilities.

Millions of people have been left without electricity, heating and water for extended periods during the long winter nights.

The attacks have repeatedly hit residential blocks.

In Dnipro, 45 people were killed and 80 injured on Jan. 14. (dpa/NAN)

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