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2019 Election: US, UK, EU Again Send Tough Warning|The Republican News

■ Defy FG’s warnings; insist on free, fair polls

Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja And Linus Oota, Lafia

 

Despitethe Federal Government’s warnings that the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union should desist from interfering in the nation’s internal issues, the three top players in the international community have maintained their earlier position, saying that their interest is to see free and fair elections conducted across the country next Saturday and on March 2.

They expressed their views in separate interviews with Saturday Sun between Wednesday and Friday. The United States said it supports only free, fair, transparent, credible, and peaceful elections that reflect the will of the Nigerian people. Responding to Saturday Sun inquiry on the forthcoming polls and its earlier statements, the United States, through its Public Affairs Section, Embassy of the United States of America, Abuja, called on every Nigerian citizen, official, political party, and members of the security forces, to support peacefully, the democratic electoral process in accordance with the Nigerian law.

Recall that the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union, drew the ire of the Federal Government in their positions on the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen. The trio had said the timing was wrong and would send a wrong signal as far as the forthcoming polls are concerned.

Earlier, the Governnent of the United States and the United Kindgom, issued a stern warning to would-be election offenders in the forthcoming elections, threatening visa sanctions to offenders and their relatives.

“The United States supports free, fair, transparent, credible, and peaceful elections that reflect the will of the Nigerian people. Our message has not changed.

“The United States does not support any individual candidate or political party.  We support the democratic process and the work of the Independent National Electoral Commission in managing the elections.

“We call on every Nigerian citizen, official, political party, and member of the security forces, to support peacefully, the democratic electoral process in accordance with Nigerian law,” the United States said. It further said it looked forward to the impartial and professional activities of Nigeria’s security forces during the elections. “We welcomed the signing of the Peace Accord by leaders of the aspirant political parties and look forward to seeing that accord honored by all,” the United States further said.

This position was further reinforced on Friday by the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Stuart Symington, who tasked the government and people of Nigeria to ensure a peaceful and credible general elections because “the world is interested and watching”.

Symington stated this in Lafia, after meeting with Mr Labaran Maku, the Nasarawa State governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). Noting that the responsibility of ensuring a peaceful, free, fair and credible polls rested with the government and all citizens, he said that Nigeria gained much credibility after the success of the 2015 general elections. “That election was credible; it lifted the country’s standing internationally. Nigeria must build on that because its citizens are desirous of a peaceful and credible election. All the candidates I have talked to, at all levels, have expressed the desire for a free, fair and credible elections, where all votes will count.”

According to him, peace is not just something you pledge but something that is planted and nurtured to growth using words and actions. “Truly, it’s up to each person to make a decision and take responsibility for doing what is right,” Symington said.

Also responding to Saturday Sun inquiry on its current position on the forthcoming polls, the UK, through its Senior Communications Officer, Press and Public Affairs, British High Commission, Abuja, TinuOluwa Adelegan, said the UK’s work regarding the elections; to support free, fair, credible and peaceful elections is focused on supporting the electoral process and the independent institutions. The UK further said it was working with civil societies to ensure that they are prepared to effectively monitor elections and call out problems when they see them. It added that in its advocacy role, the UK is speaking to all parties, including the two main parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), appealing to their leadership to live up to their obligations and to the peace accord.

The UK also said its appeal to all parties is that they ensure that the vote is conducted fairly and none of their supporters is involved in violence or vote buying, and ensuring that when it (UK) notices such issues, it calls them out. “We have over 100 observation groups covering the six geo political zones as part of our international election observation mission. They will be seeing the process for themselves first hand, and ensuring that all parties are behaving in a responsible way,” the UK further said.

On its part, the European Union Election Observer Mission (EU EOM) to Nigeria, said its recent comments on the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, was carried out in strict adherence to its code of conduct. The EU EOM denied any form of interference in the nation’s internal issues, stating that the EU election observation missions give commentary and analysis, and make recommendations about the electoral process.

In response to Saturday Sun inquiry on its current position on the forthcoming elections and the accusation of interference by the government, EU Deputy Chief Observer, Hannah Roberts said: “We are aware of the comments made, but it’s important to emphasise that the EU only deploys an election observation mission when it is invited to do so by the authorities of a country.

“The EU has been invited to observe all of the general elections in Nigeria since 1999. Thus, this is the sixth time the EU is observing elections in Nigeria, following an invitation from INEC.  EU election observation missions give commentary and analysis, and make recommendations about the electoral process. EU election observation missions are impartial, do not interfere in the electoral process, and operate according to a strict code of conduct.”

When contacted, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, did not respond to the positions maintained by the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union, saying the Federal Government will not want to join issues with them now.           (The Sun)

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Onnoghen: US, UK, EU Supporting Corruption – FG |The Republican News

 

Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja

 

The Federal Government has said that the statements by the United States (US), the United Kingdom (UK) and the European Union Election Observer Mission (EU EOM) on the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, portends tolerance for corrupt acts and the downplaying of the anti-corruption crusade of the Buhari administration.

The government also said the statements signified alignment with the opposition and endorsement of its position that the ruling party, and by extension, the Federal Government of Nigeria, is working on rigging the forthcoming elections.

This is the third time the government is reacting to statements by the US, the UK and the EU, having earlier said that the presidency will not bend rules or allow interference, and that the US, UK and the EU were not properly informed over concerns raised by the suspension of Onnoghen.

In a statement by the spokesperson, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, George Ehidiamen Edokpa, the government stated that the statements were inimical to the wellbeing and development of Nigeria, given their nuisance value of promoting sectional and religious divide in the country, anarchy and retrogression.

“The Federal Government of Nigeria notes with deep concern, statements made by representatives of foreign governments and international organizations resident in Nigeria, notably the Embassy of the United States of America, the High Commission of the United Kingdom, as well as the European Union Election Observer Mission, regarding the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), which demonstrate serious and unacceptable interference in the internal affairs of Nigeria.

“The various statements, especially of those referred to above, appear prejudicial and signify alignment with the opposition and endorsement of its position that the ruling party, and by extension, the Federal Government of Nigeria, is working on rigging the forthcoming elections in Nigeria. These statements also portend tolerance for corrupt acts and downplay the anticorruption crusade of the Buhari administration, knowing fully that the suspended CJN had not denied the charges against him and that probity requires of him to step aside while the case is under scrutiny.

“It is pertinent to underscore the unfortunate fact that statements, as referred above, are inimical to the wellbeing and development of Nigeria, given their nuisance value of promoting sectional and religious divide in the country, anarchy and retrogression. Now, more than any other time, Nigerians and true friends of Nigeria should be working towards repositioning Nigeria to realize her potential and sustainably provide the leadership expected of her.

“His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari had consistently demonstrated respect for the rule of law as a presidential candidate and as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and would engage in nothing to the contrary. He also remains a man of integrity who has severally pledged free and fair elections. It is therefore absurd to presume that the suspension of the CJN is geared towards rigging the forthcoming elections in favour of the ruling party.

“For the avoidance of doubt, be it known that on three occasions that Mr. President went to court as a presidential candidate and lost his case, in 2013, 2011 and 2007, the presiding judges at the Supreme Court were all northerners and Muslims: Justice Muhammad Lawal Uwais, Idris Lebo Kutigi and Dahiru Mustapha respectively. In fact, in one instance, the presiding judge at the Appeal Court was from Katsina State and the President’s former classmate, yet, he lost the case. The minority judgements in his favour were given by two judges, both of them southerners and Christians: Justices George Adesola Oguntade and Sylvanus Nsofor.

“Resident embassies and international organizations invited to observe the forthcoming elections must therefore be wary of being drawn into the camp of the opposition, otherwise their neutrality, which is the hallmark of election observers becomes questionable. It is indeed unfortunate that foreign missions would align with the opposition and seek to negatively interpret actions by the Federal Government, no matter their positive basis and intention. Had the Federal Government been high-handed, would the opposition have been able to express its views even to the point of pouring invectives on Mr. President? How best can the corruption in the judiciary, which has enormously undermined the rights of the common man and made justice available only to the highest bidder, be best tackled than by ensuring that known cases are fundamentally tackled? Where is the rule of law, if justice is applied selectively?” the government queried.

The government further raised pertinent questions which it said, the opposition and their sympathizers must reflect upon.

“Pertinent questions that the opposition and their sympathizers must reflect upon are: How has the action of Mr. President undermined the resolve for free and fair election? In what ways does it undermine the independence of the Judiciary, except in the minds of the opposition and its cohorts? What right has a representative of a foreign government to incense an already volatile situation on the grounds that her government has invested heavily in the elections? It is insulting for any foreign representative to claim the right to interference in Nigeria’s internal affairs, based on the premise that its government has invested heavily in the election,” the government added.

The government further said Nigeria had invested enormously over the years in election processes of many African countries and will continue to do so without interfering in their internal affairs.

The government also said interference in Nigeria’s internal affairs under any guise will therefore not be accepted.

“Representatives of foreign governments and organizations are therefore advised to tread with caution and desist from using the utterances and actions of opposition organizations and individuals as a vehicle to interfere in Nigeria’s internal affairs. Embassies and organizations accredited to Nigeria should desist from actions and utterances that can only create political, sectional and religious crises and divides,” the government warned.  (The Sun)

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Buhari Now Jittery After US, UK, EU Warning -Atiku |The Republican News

                                                      Atiku and Buhari

Eniola Akinkuotu, Abuja

 

The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, says President Muhammadu Buhari and the cabal running his government have become jittery following the statements of condemnation issued by the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union over the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen.

In a statement by his Special Assistant on Public Communications, Phrank Shuaibu, the former Vice-President urged Buhari to ensure that next month’s elections are free and fair or face the consequences.

He said, “Buhari’s cabal is unhappy with the statements from the US, the British and the EU because they know that these world powers have agreed to re-route their latest and most technologically sophisticated spy satellites, including the NAOL-47 satellite, to provide comprehensive coverage over Nigeria on February 16.

“The photographs these satellites will deliver cannot only show someone reading a newspaper but also which newspaper they are reading.”

Recall that the Federal Government had, in a statement through Garba Shehu, stated that, “The nation’s security forces will confront any attempt to interfere with the process by elements from outside the country.”

The PDP candidate, however, expressed concerns over the “desperation of the APC to rig the forthcoming elections;” and advised the Independent National Electoral Commission, the military and the Police not to allow themselves to be used by “those interested in turning Nigeria’s democracy on its head.”    (Punch)

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ISIS Smuggling Jihadists Into Nigeria From Syria – Report |RN

ISIS-Jihadists

 

Adelani Adepegba, Leye Aluko with agency report

Leaders of the terrorist group, Islamic State, are sneaking battle-hardened jihadis from Syria into Nigeria to train terrorists for possible attacks in Britain.

Fanatics, including Boko Haram insurgents, were also being sent to the Middle East for training in a chilling “exchange programme,” The UK SUN reported on Monday.

The paper said there were fears that strong links between Nigeria and the UK would make it easier for IS to send its killers to Britain to orchestrate terror attacks, death and destruction.

It noted that more than 150 British troops are conducting counter-terror training with Nigerian forces in an attempt to stem the bloody tide — and stop IS from taking hold in the West African region.

At one training mission in Kaduna, a senior Nigerian Air Force commander revealed how local jihadi groups were learning from IS after swearing allegiance to its black flag.

Group Captain Isaac Subi, 46, who has been fighting terrorism across Africa since 1991, said, “They come and train their fighters here and some of our insurgents too are granted access to their training in Yemen and Syria, acquiring those skills and they come back and teach others.

“They have this exchange programme of fighters.”

The report stated that the poisonous influence of the fighters had already ended in horror attacks on British streets, citing the stabbing to death of Fusilier Lee Rigby in 2013 in London by Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, both of Nigerian descent.

The Nigeria Immigration Service spokesman, Sunday James, said the agency has strengthened border security to ensure that “no foreign entity is allowed by whatever means into the country by land, air or waterways.”

He added in a statement that NIS operatives have been proactive, “going by the several arrests in recent past around the country by the Special Border Patrol Corps operatives of the NIS trained and deployed to carry out reconnaissance patrol.”

James admonished Nigerians to report suspicious individuals or groups to the Immigration Service or other security agencies for necessary action.  (Punch)

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Mobile Phone Use After 10pm Increases Chances Of Depression, Loneliness – Study

a person sitting in a chair talking on a cell phone    © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited  

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It’s no secret that using your phone at before bed isn’t really conducive to a good night’s sleep.

However, now a study of more than 91,000 people has found that scrolling through your Instagram and Twitter feeds from the comfort of your pillow in the wee hours could increase the likelihood of developing a number of psychological problems such as depression, bipolar disorder and neuroticism.

Late night phone-usage is just one of the disruptive behaviours pointed out by the researchers, who attributed the links to the aforementioned symptoms to body clock disturbance.

Previous research has shown the detrimental effects of interruptions to the body’s natural 24-hour cycle of the body – known as the circadian rhythm – as the result of shift work that requires employees to work through the night.

However, this study, published in The Lancet Psychiatry by professors at The University of Glasgow, is the first to monitor body clock disruption on such a large scale.

Participants aged 37 to 73 had their activity levels monitored by wrist-work accelerometers, which they wore for a seven day period, enabling researchers to measure the extent at which their circadian rhythmicity was disturbed during this time.

However, there were caveats to the findings, given that participants were only monitored for a week and were exclusively middle-aged and above.

The researchers also conducted cross-sectional examinations to measure participants’ psychological well-being and found that roughly one in 25 had unusual activity habits whereby they weren’t that much more active during the day than the night.

These people were 11 per cent more likely to have bipolar disorder and six per cent more likely to be battling depression, they found.

Plus, they also reported lower happiness levels and greater rates of loneliness.

Such people suffer from “very poor sleep hygiene”, said lead author Daniel Smith of the University of Glasgow and would engage in late night activities such as playing on their mobile phones or making cups of tea.

The figures may seem small, however, Smith added they are no less significant:

“This is important because it seems to be across the board,” he said, “so it is a very consistent finding for these negative mental health and cognitive outcomes.”

While Smith advocated imposing a 10pm limit to phone usage to help combat this, he added that daytime activities have a part to play too, explaining that a healthy sleep pattern is often the result of being active during the day and inactive at night.

“I think this is important as a population health issue because so many of us are living with disrupted circadian rhythms,” he said.

“It’s unlikely that the way society is currently set up is good for your health. So many people are living in city environments flooded with light 24/7.”

(Independent)

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No ‘Absolute Protection’ From Russian Cyber Attack, GCHQ Warns British Public |RN

By Edward Malnick
a screen shot of a computer           © Provided by The Telegraph  

Britain’s spy agencies cannot offer “absolute protection” against Russian cyber attacks and are instead focused on preventing assaults that would “most impact on our way of life”, in the wake of the Salisbury poisoning, GCHQ warns today.

Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, Ciaran Martin, the head of the agency’s cyber defence unit, says it is a matter of “when not if” Britain faces a “serious cyber attack”.

He added that its focus is now on building “resilience” in “the systems we care about the most”, believed to be Britain’s power and water supplies, internet and transport networks, and health service.

This newspaper understands that senior representatives of utility, transport and internet firms and the  NHS, have attended intelligence briefings at the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), on the specific methods – known as “attack vectors” – being used by  Russia  to target Britain’s critical national infrastructure, following the nerve agent attack in Salisbury last month.

a man wearing a suit and tie               © Provided by The Telegraph

Separately, the NCSC is understood to have written to the Government setting out urgent actions that departments and individual officials should take to protect Whitehall from cyber assaults.

These are in response to retaliatory measures against the Kremlin following the attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury with a nerve agent last month.

Today, Mr Martin, the NCSC’s chief executive, publicly confirms that GCHQ is on “heightened alert” for “follow-up activity” following the Salisbury attack – an explicit link the agency fell short of making when it issued an unprecedented joint warning with the FBI last week about cyber attacks by the Russian Government.

“Turning off the lights and the power supply by a cyber attack is harder than Hollywood films sometimes make out,” he writes.

“But, we’ve seen enough malicious cyber attacks across the world, including against UK health services by a North Korean group last year, to know how services can be disrupted.

“Absolute protection is neither possible nor desirable; it’s about having more resilience in the systems we care about the most, those where loss of service would have the most impact on our way of life.

“We have said that it is a matter of when, not if, the UK faces a serious cyber attack. So last week we presented detailed plans to Government departments about the priority areas where the NCSC will work with them, industry and law enforcement to improve the cyber resilience of the most important systems.”

This newspaper understands that in addition to setting out the “priority areas” it will focus on protecting from attacks, the NCSC provided the Government with fresh advice on preventing attacks, based on the latest intelligence about attempted intrusions by Russian hackers.

The advice is believed to have ranged from highly technical measures that should be taken by particular departments, to more basic preventative steps that could be adopted by all civil servants.

Separately, the agency is understood to have called in representatives of organisations involved in the UK’s critical national infrastructure, for a series of briefings on ongoing activity in recent days, with the sessions including information on the warning signs to look out for, and advice on how to guard against the threats.  (The Telegraph)

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UK Submarines Move Within Missile Range Of Syria As Theresa May Convenes ‘War Cabinet’

Iain Burns
British Prime Minister Theresa May. (Photo by MICHAEL CAMPANELLA/Getty Images)© Getty British Prime Minister Theresa May. (Photo by MICHAEL CAMPANELLA/Getty Images)

 

Theresa May was poised last night to defy calls for a Commons vote on military action in Syria

The Prime Minister summoned ministers back to London to seek their support for joining an American-led attack on the Assad regime within days.

Clearing the way for action, she declared the use of chemical weapons could not go unchallenged and said ‘all the indications’ suggested that Bashar Assad’s forces were responsible for Saturday’s atrocity near Damascus.

Military chiefs are said to have ordered British submarines armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles to move within range of Syria.

a small boat in a body of water: General Sir Richard Barrons, a former commander of Joint Forces Command, said Russia's warnings that launch platforms could be targeted in response to air strikes meant 'they are going to try and sink ships, sink submarines and shoot aircraft out of the sky - that's war'© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited General Sir Richard Barrons, a former commander of Joint Forces Command, said Russia’s warnings that launch platforms could be targeted in response to air strikes… 

Despite fears of a military confrontation with Russia, no preparations are being made to recall MPs from their Easter recess. It is understood No 10 believes it can launch a one-off, punitive strike without consulting Parliament.

Donald Trump dramatically escalated the crisis yesterday by telling Russia to ‘get ready’ because ‘nice and new and smart’ cruise missiles would be coming.

He warned Vladimir Putin not to stand by President Assad, who he described as a ‘gas killing animal’.

a close up of a newspaper            © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited 

Russia’s ambassador to Lebanon had said his country was ready to target US planes and ships if they fired at Syrian regime forces. That would effectively lead to a state of war, according to Sir Richard Barrons, a senior former military commander.

And Julian Lewis, who chairs the Commons defence committee, was among MPs to warn of the risks of intervention. ‘Embroiling ourselves in a military clash with Russia in the context of a civil war between an inhumane government and opposition-controlled by jihadi fanatics is not a sensible one, to put it mildly,’ he said.

In other developments:

British officials were said to be in talks with their counterparts in France and the US about which military assets should be deployed for military action.

a group of people standing around a table: Mrs May has said Britain will co-ordinate its response to the incident in the rebel-held town of Douma - where at least 40 people are reported to have been killed - with the US and France© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Mrs May has said Britain will coordinate its response to the incident in the rebel-held town of Douma – where at least 40 people are reported to have been killed -… 

‘We are committed to deter and prevent the use of chemical weapons,’ said a government source.

‘We now have to establish the best way of getting there, and those conversations are carrying on, officials are speaking to their counterparts in France and America right now. In terms of precisely what happens next, that is still to be confirmed.’

The PM will hold a Cabinet meeting this afternoon. Ministers were understood to be privately urging her to act, although is not clear whether the British public would support an expansion of military action in Syria.

Brexit Secretary David Davis voted against military action against the Assad regime in 2013.

Speaking on a visit to Birmingham yesterday, Mrs May said: ‘The continued use of chemical weapons cannot go unchallenged.’

Asked whether she was concerned about Mr Trump’s tweet, she replied: ‘We are working with our allies, we have been working to get an understanding of what happened on the ground. We are rapidly reaching that understanding. All the indications are that the Syrian regime was responsible.

‘We will be working with our closest allies on how we can ensure that those who are responsible are held to account and how we can prevent and deter the humanitarian catastrophe that comes from the use of chemical weapons in the future.’

Tory MP Mr Lewis insisted there should be a vote before the UK took action. ‘There is a real danger that what starts out as justified punishment for the use of chemical weapons ends up with the Royal Air Force serving as the air arm of the jihadi extremist rebels in Syria,’ he said.

The U.S. has maintained its threat of rocket attacks in response to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad's sickening chemical attack on the rebel-held town of Douma on Saturday© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The U.S. has maintained its threat of rocket attacks in response to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s sickening chemical attack on the rebel-held town of Douma…

‘It sends a very bad signal to the country that they don’t submit themselves to parliamentary scrutiny before involving in taking military action by choice in the context of a civil war where both sides equally atrocious.’

Tory colleague Bob Seely said: ‘Trump is declaring war on Twitter. Both Trump and Putin need to remember what the stakes are.

‘This crisis could escalate very quickly into a shooting war in Syria. If Russians are injured, the Kremlin will hit back. The most important thing our generation can achieve is to avoid actual conflict with Russia.

‘If we are reckless or thoughtless in our actions, it will make conflict now or in future more likely to happen.’

Russia’s ambassador to Lebanon, Alexander Zasypkin, said any US missiles fired at Syria would be shot down along with the ships or planes that fired them.

He told Hezbollah’s Al Manar TV: ‘If there is a strike by the Americans then … the missiles will be downed and even the sources from which the missiles were fired.’

Then, in the early hours of yesterday morning, Mr Trump responded on Twitter, saying: ‘Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and smart! You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it.’

In a further tweet 40 minutes later, he said: ‘Our relationship with Russia is worse now that it has ever been, and that includes the Cold War.

‘There is no reason for this. Russia needs us to help with their economy.’

Russia’s foreign ministry spokesman responded by saying ‘smart missiles should fly towards terrorists, not lawful government’.

General Barrons, who led the UK’s joint forces command until 2016, said of the Russian ambassador’s warning: ‘He is saying not only are they going to shoot down the missiles in flight, but by saying launch sites, he is saying they are going to try and sink ships, sink submarines and shoot aircraft out of the sky. That’s war.’

Charles Crawford, former British Ambassador to Bosnia, warned the range of options for dealing with the crisis varied between ‘terrible and catastrophic’.

Don’t attack without a vote, MPs from all parties urge May 

MPs from across Parliament last night urged Theresa May to change her mind as she prepared to launch military action against Bashar al-Assad without a Commons vote.

Cabinet sources said there was now a ‘broad view’ in Downing Street that the Prime Minister does not need to seek the approval of MPs before launching strikes.

Some senior Tories yesterday joined Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the SNP in demanding MPs are given a say, as they warned of the dangers of how the crisis could escalate.Since the Iraq War a precedent has been set that all military action abroad is first approved by Parliament, but sources last night told the Mail that no preparations have been made for MPs to return to Westminster before Monday when their Easter recess ends.

When asked if she would recall parliament yesterday, Mrs May declined to answer the question directly. Tory MP Sir David Amess said the Prime Minister needed to come to the Commons before retaliating against Assad following the chemical weapons attack in Syria.

He said: ‘I think we have to look at this situation very, very carefully because since I have been in Parliament we have been involved in conflicts in Iraq and in Afghanistan. Neither with terribly good outcomes.’

a circuit board              © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited 

All three of the main opposition parties – Labour, the SNP and Liberal Democrats – yesterday called on Mrs May to hold a Commons vote before embarking on the action.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: ‘Parliament should always be given a say on military action. That’s a case that I’ve made going back many, many years in parliament.

‘Listen, what happened last weekend was terrible.

‘What we don’t want is bombardment which leads to escalation and leads to a hot war between Russia and America over the skies of Syria,’ he added.

 Jeremy Corbyn’s brother has claimed the chemical weapons attack in Syria was a hoax. Piers Corbyn retweeted a fake news video from a US conspiracy theory website and tagged his brother in the tweet.

Piers Corbyn tweeted: ‘Video of Syria chemical attack is fake news. Some actors masked, others not in danger zone. Slosh water on children to cry. That’s it!’

The video, on the Infowars website, suggests the attack on Douma was not carried out by the Assad regime and was the work of actors.

Daily Mail

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British Export Agency To Accept Nigerian Currency For Trade Settlements |RN

nairadollars

The struggling Nigeria’s national currency may soon rebound against other world currencies as the UK Export Finance Agency says it would soon add the naira to its list of “pre-approved currencies” for trade transactions.

It was reported at the weekend that naira would soon become one of the three West African currencies that UK Export Finance Agency has pre-approved for its programme of funding transactions to promote trade with Britain.

Although the other two national currencies were not disclosed, finance experts say that when added, Nigerians and others in the UK wishing to use the naira to make payments or provide financing for business transactions denominated in the local currency would be able to do so without hindrance.

The only exception, the statement said, would be in the area of loans taken in local currency, which must equally be repaid in local currency.

In 2016, a referendum to decide its continued membership of the European Union (EU) resulted in a vote for Britain to exit the Union.

Since then, there has been extensive consultations by the UK government with the EU and other trade partners on the need to review the terms of its trade ties with the rest of the world.

Since December 2017, the UK government and the EU have agreed to discuss ways to improve future trade ties with member countries.

Nigeria has for long remained one of UK government’s biggest trade partners and allies, particularly in the West African sub-region.

“This is a clear indication of how much value the UK places on its relationship with Nigeria. It will provide a firm foundation for a significant increase in trade and investment between both countries,” the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright, was quoted to have said in a UK’s credit agency statement on Friday.

The statement said the UK government would provide up to 85 per cent of funding for projects containing a minimum of 20 per cent British content. “The naira financing will follow the same structure as someone buying in pound sterling, except that Nigerian firms taking out a loan in local currency can benefit from a UK government-backed.    (The Sun)

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Man Who Attacked Muslim Worshippers With Car In Finsbury Park Jailed For Life

Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Darren Osborne in the witness box with Defence barrister Lisa Wilding QC (right) at Woolwich Crown Court in London© PA Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Darren Osborne in the witness box with Defence barrister Lisa Wilding QC (right) at Woolwich Crown Court in London

 

The daughter of a man killed in the Finsbury Park terror attack said her heart had been shattered by a “narrow-minded, heartless being” as he was jailed for a minimum of 43 years.

Darren Osborne, 48, was yesterday found guilty of deliberately mowing down worshippers near two mosques on June 19 last year, killing Makram Ali, 51, and injuring 12 others. He was handed a life sentence this afternoon.

Handout still from CCTV dated 19/06/2017 issued by the Metropolitan Police showing Darren Osborne driving at worshippers in Seven Sisters.© PA Handout still from CCTV dated 19/06/2017 issued by the Metropolitan Police showing Darren Osborne driving at worshippers in Seven Sisters.

 

In a statement, one of Mr Ali’s six children, Ruzina Akhtar, said the image of her dead father would stay with her. She said: “My heart was shattered when I saw my father lying in the morgue.”

Osborne, a father of four from Cardiff, rented a van and drove to London looking for Muslims to kill after becoming radicalised in weeks.

Killed in the attack: Makram Ali             © PA Killed in the attack: Makram Ali

Today Woolwich crown court heard how he had a criminal record spanning 30 years, from 1984 to 2014, and had appeared in court 33 times for 102 offences.

Prosecutor Jonathan Rees QC said the alcoholic had a history of drugs, theft, fraud, burglary and “kindred offences”, as well as nine offences “against the person”, including assault.

Handout still from CCTV dated 17/6/2017 issued by the Metropolitan Police of Darren Osborne at a bar of a public house on the outskirts of Cardiff.© PA Handout still from CCTV dated 17/6/2017 issued by the Metropolitan Police of Darren Osborne at a bar of a public house on the outskirts of Cardiff.

He first appeared in court aged 15 and in 2006, aged 36, was sentenced to 24 months in prison for wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. Most recently, in 2014, aged 44, he was convicted of theft, attempted theft and shoplifting in South Wales.

In her statement to court, Ms Akhtar said her mother feared being targeted because of her religion. She said: “My mum is scared to go out by herself in case she is attacked because she is visibly a Muslim who wears a headscarf.”

File photo dated 19/06/17 of local people observing prayers at Finsbury Park in north London.© PA File photo dated 19/06/17 of local people observing prayers at Finsbury Park in north London.

Mr Ali’s two sons are 13 and 14 years old, the court heard. Ms Akhtar said: “They will now grow up without the help and support of their father. Without his guidance and assistance.”

She said her father would “never be forgotten”, adding: “His laugh will echo the walls of our home and his smile will be reflected in our eyes. His memory will be in our conversation.”

File photo dated 19/06/17 of a forensic tent next to a van in Finsbury Park, north London.© PA File photo dated 19/06/17 of a forensic tent next to a van in Finsbury Park, north London.

He “lived without any enemies” and never hurt or upset anyone, she said.

She added: “His life was taken in a cruel way by a very narrow-minded, heartless being.”

File photo dated 19/06/17 of a police officer at Seven Sisters Road at Finsbury Park in north London.© PA File photo dated 19/06/17 of a police officer at Seven Sisters Road at Finsbury Park in north London.

Mr Rees said Osborne’s victims had suffered “flashbacks, fear of going out onto the street” and had lost confidence since the attack. The prosecutor put forward two people to be publicly commended — Detective Sergeant Kevin Martin and the imam of Muslim Welfare House, Mohammed Mahmoud, who saved Osborne from being attacked.

The killer became obsessed with Muslims after watching the BBC drama Three Girls, about the Rochdale grooming scandal, in May last year and was angered by what he deemed as inaction after a series of UK terror attacks.

The scene after the attack in Finsbury Park last June          © PA The scene after the attack in Finsbury Park last June

He immersed himself in far-Right propaganda, reading posts by English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson and Britain First’s deputy leader Jayda Fransen, before carrying out the attack.

In court he spoke of his desire to kill Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Mayor Sadiq Khan. Osborne denied murder, claiming another man called “Dave” had been driving the van in what prosecutors said was an “absurd” defence. The jury agreed, and took less than an hour to find him guilty of murder and attempted murder.

Metropolitan Police undated handout photo of Darren Osborne, 48, of Glyn Rhosyn in Cardiff© PA Metropolitan Police undated handout photo of Darren Osborne, 48, of Glyn Rhosyn in Cardiff

Lisa Wilding QC, in mitigation, said: “This defendant appears to have become radicalised in a short period of time. The hateful rhetoric espoused by this defendant in the summer of last year appears to have become suddenly upon him.”

As she sentenced Osborne to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 43 years, Mrs Justice Bobbie Cheema-Grubb said he had been “convicted after overwhelming evidence by a jury who saw through your pathetic last-ditch attempt to deceive them.”

File photo dated 19/06/17 of a police officers near Seven Sisters Road at Finsbury Park in north London.© PA File photo dated 19/06/17 of a police officers near Seven Sisters Road at Finsbury Park in north London.

She added: “This was a terror attack. This was a murder done for the purpose of advancing a political, racial or ideological cause.”

No 10 said Theresa May wanted internet companies to go “further and faster” to remove extremist or terrorist content.

File photo of The Prince of Wales during a visit to Muslim Welfare House to meet members of the local community after the terror attack at Finsbury Park© PA File photo of The Prince of Wales during a visit to Muslim Welfare House to meet members of the local community after the terror attack at Finsbury Park

Writing in the Standard today, Home Secretary Amber Rudd warned aspiring far-Right terrorists that they would “face the full force of the law” as she promised stronger action to protect Muslims and others.  (Evening Standard)

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Trump ‘Barred From Greenwich’ After Council Votes To Block President’s Visit Over Far-Right Tweet

Patrick Grafton-Green
The Royal Borough of Greenwich said Donald Trump 'is not welcome'   © Reuters The Royal Borough of Greenwich said Donald Trump ‘is not welcome’

 

The Royal Borough of Greenwich has “barred” Donald Trump after councillors called for his visit to the UK to be abandoned.

Earlier this week, America’s ambassador in London signalled that Mr Trump is due to visit early next year – sparking fresh calls for mass demonstrations against the president.

And at a meeting on Tuesday night, the Labour council added its voice to the protests by calling on the Government to abandon the plans.

Greenwich Council said it adopted a motion calling for a state visit to be abandoned, while also declaring that “should a state visit go ahead, President Trump would not be welcome in the Borough”.

Greenwich Council has added its voice to those protesting Donald Trump's UK visit© Getty Greenwich Council has added its voice to those protesting Donald Trump’s UK visit

The council expressed “alarm at the decision of President Trump to retweet Islamophobic Propaganda” and “sadness at the President’s bigoted attitude towards women and ethnic minorities”.

It comes after Mr Trump sparked a global backlash last month after retweeting a string of unverified anti-Islamic videos posted by far-right group Britain First’s deputy leader.

He also blasted London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s response to the London Bridge terror attack earlier this year, branding it “pathetic”.

Just hours after the attack, he tweeted: “At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is “no reason to be alarmed!”

 

Councillor Denise Hyland, leader of the council said: “On a daily basis we work hand in hand with residents from all communities to ensure this borough is a peaceful and welcoming place that celebrates difference and diversity, but in the case of President Trump we are willing to make an exception.

“We are one of 32 London boroughs, all different, all individual but all home to people from across the world.

“This diversity strengthens our borough. It enriches our lives on a daily basis. And it reminds us all that we have so much more in common than divides us.

“As one of the most multi-cultural London boroughs, we are a place that has worked tirelessly to break down barriers. We have no time for people who want to build walls, when we have done so much to break them down.”

Cllr Chris Kirby, who presented the motion said: “President Trump has regularly expressed abhorrent and aggressive views and in doing so has enabled the spread of division and hatred.“

We have worked incredibly hard in this borough to build strong community ties across all faiths and backgrounds – President Trump’s views, attitude and policies are totally incompatible with that work.”

He went on to say that: “As a council we hold responsibility for more than 270,000 residents. We took the view that we could not stand by and watch the level of public debate be poisoned by the rhetoric that the President and others like him have continued to use.

“We have stood up and made our position clear: there is no place for aggressive, bigoted and hateful rhetoric in the Royal Borough of Greenwich.”   (Evening Standard)

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