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You are a hero, Osinbajo hails 83-year-old Muslim cleric who saved Christians

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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has described the 83-year-old Muslim Cleric, Imam Abdullahi Abubakar, who saved the lives of hundreds of persons fleeing from attacks by suspected bandits in Yelwan Gindi Akwati, Swei and Nghar villages in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau as a hero.

The people were fleeing from attacks by suspected bandits.

Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande,  in a statement on Thursday in Abuja,  said the vice president gave the commendation when he received the cleric at the Presidential Villa.

The vice president received Abubakar; the Village Head, Damafulul Mangai, and other community leaders and a delegation which included diplomats from the US, UK and the European Union.

Abubakar, who is Hausa and the Chief Imam of a mosque in Yelwan Gindi Akwati village, in the Barkin Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau State, alongside his assistant Umar Abdullahi, who is Fulani, saved the lives of over 200 persons when suspected bandits attacked communities in the LGA.

The reported attack took place on June 23, 2018, on Yelwan Gindi Akwati, Swei and Nghar villages in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau State, where scores of persons were killed by suspected bandits.

Abubakar reportedly hid and rescued over 200 persons who fled from nearby communities, inside the mosque and in his personal house, until the attackers left.

Many of those the Muslim Cleric provided shelter for were from the Berom ethnic group which are predominantly Christians.

Reports indicated that Abubakar, on defending “my guests”, insisted that the attackers would have to kill him if they refused his pleas not to attack those he was hiding.

At a point, the Imam was said to be on his knees and then rolling o the floor to appease the attackers.

Describing Abubakar’s act as heroic, the Vice President said that the Imam had done so much more to promote peace by his singular acts than most politicians could do and so deserves all the commendation and high honour.

Osinbajo urged politicians to avoid using religion and tribal sentiment to create division among people, noting that Abubakar had demonstrated to leaders that the way to resolve whatever conflict was not by violence, but a demonstration of love.

“I commend you for your wonderful act.

“Imam Abubakar has demonstrated one of the most courageous acts any man can possibly do, by offering his own life, for those who are not people of his own tribe.

“I have heard a lot of stories in our country, but this is one of the most compelling stories.

“The love an individual can show for others not from their own tribe or religion, especially in a society like ours where tribe and religion often come to play.”

The Vice President urged all Nigerians despite tribe and religion to eschew bitterness and embrace peace and harmonious living.

“It is far easier for people to create religious tensions between Christians or Muslims through their acts or words.

“And in a community where people have lived together in harmony and peace for so long, it shows how much a little of such tension created, in a matter of hours, can destroy harmony and peace built over the years.”

Before the attacks, the community had reportedly lived in peace.

Osinbajo said that most people in Nigeria did not see the differences in tribe or religion, but it was easy to stoke religious tensions and divisions.

According to him,  one must be careful of those who want to play politics and create differences using religion and tribe as no tribe or religion is superior to another.

“When people have been wronged, it is always easier for people to accept that revenge or vengeance is the right approach.

“But as you know, vengeance breeds bitterness and hatred and doesn’t solve the problems created, but causes more deaths and harm.”

The Vice President said it was wrong for anyone to kill in the name of religion, noting that Abubakar’s incredible act of courage in saving others passed a message to both Christians, Muslims and others of different tribes and religion.

He said that Abubakar sent a message to Muslims and Christians alike and other ethnic groups that their own lives were as valuable as his own life.

“This is a very powerful message. Also, by keeping them safe in a mosque, a sacred place; he sent a strong message to Muslims that other religions and lives are equally as important to God.

“The Imam did not preach this by word but by deeds, love, by putting his life on the line to make a point. That clearly demonstrates to all of us that it is un-islamic to maim or kill people in the name of religion.

“Like President Muhammadu Buhari said, anyone who says “Allah Akbar”, and then goes to kill someone either does not know his faith or is insane. It is the same in the Christian faith.

” The gospel of Jesus Christ says we must first love, even our enemies and those that despitefully use us. And anyone who preaches something different is certainly not speaking from the Bible or the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

“President Buhari also said during his meeting with the Catholic Bishops that all through his life as a public servant, he believes that people should be judged by their character and how they behave, and that everyone must have a right to worship God the way they chose.”

The Vice President further said the Federal Government would look at further ways to improve the communities in Barkin Ladi, and others affected by ethnic/religious crisis.

“We will look at how the Plateau State government and the Federal Government can help in the rehabilitation process.

“Government has been doing this in phases, to restore areas devastated by crisis. But we would look at ways to help further,” he said.

Abubakar, as well as his deputy, Abdullahi, were recently honoured by the US Embassy in Nigeria, for the heroic deeds.

Osinbajo said that Abubakar should be celebrated everywhere in the world,, adding that he was  happy that the US Ambassador had honoured him with an award.

In his remarks, Abubakar, who spoke through an interpreter, thanked the Vice President, noting that he did not want it  publicised.

He said however, that he felt that God chose him to do what he did to be used as an example.

The Imam said he told the attackers at some point that they had to kill him first before harming his ‘guests’–that statement dissuaded them.

“I pleaded with the attackers in the mud and rain not to harm my guests.

“By God’s grace, no one was hurt. God created mankind differently but he wants us to live together in peace and harmony, and not harm each other. Such incident (the attack) is rare in my community, but I hope such does not happen in my village again,” he said.

The visit of the delegation at the instance of the U.S. deputy Chief of Mission, comprised of the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington; Deputy Chief of Mission, U.S. Embassy in Nigeria, David Young.

Others are the U.S. Embassy official, Kathleen Fitzgibbon; and the German Ambassador to Nigeria, Bernhard Schlagheck.

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Exams postponed in Ekiti University after students protest

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A protest by students of Ekiti State University, (EKSU), Ado Ekiti, has forced management to postpone the first semester examinations which were originally scheduled to begin on Monday, June 17.

In a news release issued on Sunday night and signed by the Registrar of the institution, Akin Arogundade, the new date for the examinations is now Monday, July 1.

The postponement according to the statement is to ensure security of lives and property on campus and its environs.

It failed to dwell on the effect of an earlier protest by students as a possible cause of the shift.

“Consequently, all academic activities on campus has been postponed until Monday, July 1, 2019, while students are expected back on campus on Sunday, June 30, 2019,” the statement said.

It directed all students preparing for exams to ensure payment of all necessary fees, as evidence of payment would be used for clearance and examination permit.

“The University community, parents, and guardians are assured of adequate security on campus as well as the safety of staff and students,” it said.

NAN recalls that the students held a peaceful protest early on Sunday to criticise the sudden fixing of the examinations without adequate lectures.

The protesters were also worried that many students might be denied participation as the data system had yet to capture all who had cleared their tuition. (NAN)

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Presidency reacts to EU report on Nigeria’s 2019 elections

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The presidency has welcomed the report of the European Union (EU) on the 2019 general elections in Nigeria, promising to analyse it fully and act on the recommendations in the best interest of the country.

Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, made this position known in a statement in Abuja on Saturday.

Mr Shehu noted that the EU observers were invited to the country by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and welcomed by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari.

He stated that this action was a clear indication of the administration’s good intentions, commitment to a purely democratic process and desire to improve on the next elections.

The EU noted in their report that there were marked improvements from previous elections, although stating that more work needed to be done.

”The administration of President Buhari will work with all Nigerian citizens, state institutions, parties, civil society, the media and other experts to make sure that the improvements recommended by the EU are implemented, and that these areas of concern are addressed.

”It is noteworthy that INEC is in receipt of a number of recommendations that form a part of the EU report.

”The Presidency assures that the Commission is in safe hands and happy that they are currently engaged in root and branch reviews of the 2019 general elections and will input lessons learned into its recommendations for electoral and constitutional reforms.

”We believe that the commission conducted a good election and will continue to improve on its processes and procedures,” he said.

While it is regretted that the elections in a few parts of the country witnessed some violence, among other shortcomings highlighted by the EU, Mr Shehu said none of these hitches affected the overall outcome of the elections.

He said: ”Thankfully, EU did not question the results of the presidential election.

”For instance, on page 3 in its Executive Summary, the EU said: ‘positively, the elections were competitive, parties were overall able to campaign and civil society enhanced accountability’.’’

He said that the report also acknowledged that INEC made a number of improvements, including making electoral participation more accessible through simplified voting procedures.

According to the report, INEC made efforts to strengthen electoral integrity by issuing regulations making smart card readers mandatory.

Mr Shehu observed that on page 4 of the report, the EU noted that the elections were competitive with a large number of candidates for all seats although the competition was primarily between the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party.

He said the report further noted that ”parties and candidates were overall able to campaign, with freedoms of assembly, expression and movement broadly respected.

”On Page 5, the report noted that the EU EOM media monitoring over 46 days showed federal government-owned media’s commitment to balanced election coverage.

”It said that positively in almost all observations party agents received copies of the results forms, adding that the National Collation Centre for the presidential election was open to party agents and observers, and was continuously televised.

”Again on page 37, the report said the national collation centre for the presidential results was open to party agents, observers and the media with each state’s results projected on a large screen.”

The presidential aide added that the report acknowledged that there was continuous live television coverage and the media published the results as announced by INEC, thereby increasing access to results information.

He further noted that Page 41 under section ‘RESULTS AND STAKEHOLDER REACTION’, EU said: ‘‘YIAGA Africa announced that the results were consistent with its parallel vote tabulation that INDEPENDENTLY projected the results based on a sample of 1,515 polling units.

”The two leading parties won 96.8% of the valid votes between them.’’

According to him, this is further proof that the polls reflected the overall will of Nigerians, and that the world is solidly behind the election of President Buhari for a second term.

The European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) in Nigeria had on Saturday briefed newsmen on the EU EOM’s report.

The Deputy Chief Observer for the EU, Hannah Roberts, addressed the news conference in Abuja, while Maria Arena, EU Chief Observer had earlier presented a final report with recommendations for electoral reforms.

The EU report prioritised seven recommendations of the 30, one of which was that Nigeria should Strengthen INEC procedures for the collation of results to improve integrity and confidence in electoral outcomes.

Another recommendation was that electoral tribunals cover pre-election cases in order to improve access to remedy and to avoid petitions being taken to different courts at the same time.

During the news conference, Hannah Roberts had said the EU EOM knew nothing about the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) server that was allegedly used to transmit results of the 2019 general elections.

The main opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), had claimed that an INEC server was used to transmit results of the election.

(NAN)

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Suicide: NAFDAC announces plan to further regulate Sniper

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The Nigerian government may direct a change in the package of ‘Sniper’, an agro-chemical that has increasingly become a choice killer for persons contemplating suicide, an official said.

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) said it is partnering with other relevant bodies on this as part of plans to discourage the use of Sniper as a tool for suicide.

This is in response to calls for a check on the proliferation and ease of access to Sniper in markets and streets across the nation.

According to Vanguard Newspaper, the Director General of NAFDAC, Christiana Adeyeye, said Sniper containers “could now be made very difficult to open, or may be turned into a spray rather than the liquid contents it is known for.”

The suicide rate has increased in Nigeria with Sniper among the agents popularly used.

Notable among the reported incidents is that of a 400-level student of the Department of English and Literary Studies, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Chukwuemeka Akachi.

There was another case of a pastor in a popular Pentecostal church who recently committed suicide after consuming the deadly substance.

That was before Ayomide and Ajani Damilola of the University of Lagos were reported to have killed themselves using the insecticide following the accusations that they stole clothes in their hostel.

Another 32-year-old banker and mother of two, identified as Peace, of Ughelli, Delta State, committed suicide over her husband’s alleged infidelity. She also took Sniper.

Sniper: An easy killer?

The ease of access to Sniper despite its wrong use has become a worry for many Nigerians.

Bottles of Sniper can be picked up easily on the streets as they are sold openly in the market.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that the method used for 20 per cent of global suicides was through pesticide self-poisoning and they mostly occur in developing countries.

Suicide victims appear to find gulping the liquid content of the agro-chemical inside a white container an easier route out.

But experts argue that it is easier to die by a bullet on the forehead than to face the agony that follows after drinking sniper.

NAFDAC’s warning

Mrs Adeyeye also discouraged the use of Sniper and other agro-chemicals for the preservation of food as they contain substances harmful to the human body.

“We also decry poor handling of foods in Nigeria by producers and sellers, because the populace and consumers are being exposed unduly to health risks from contaminants.

“The use of unapproved insecticides such as Sniper for the preservation of grains by unauthorised persons, the use of containers contaminated with hazardous chemicals such as fertilizer bags for grains or chemical drums and jerry cans for food storage are classic examples of a common practice among the market men and women due to ignorance,” the NAFDAC chief said.

Why Nigerians use Sniper indoors

Sniper is a DDVP, 2,2-Dichlorovinyl dimethyl phosphate compound, marketed in Nigeria by Swiss-Nigerian Chemical Company, as a synthetic organophosphorus. Many Nigerians have, however, converted it to an indoor insecticide.

Sniper is predominantly used as an insecticide because of its effectiveness in killing insects better than well-established brands of insecticide.

The demand is also fuelled by its affordability. A 100ml of sniper goes for between N200 and N300 while its competitors cost as much as N750 for 100ml.

“However, Nigerians may be paying a heavier price with their health in the long term, if the trend is left unchecked”, a microbiologist, Fatima Ahmed, explained.

“The instruction on Sniper says apply diluted portions to crops and there’s a ‘withdrawal’ time in which the crop should not be consumed so the active ingredient degrades to minimal level before consumption. Now compare this minute concentration to drinking from the original sniper bottle,” she noted in the report.

According to her, health experts have raised concerns over the indiscriminate use of Sniper pesticide in the control of mosquitoes, cockroaches and other household insects.

“They warned on its dangerous effects, especially to respiratory organs and even carcinogenic risks. A person may be exposed to the associated risk of Sniper through inhalation, absorption via the skin, ingestion, and eye contact.”

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