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Zuma: Union advises Nigerians to be vigilant as protests engulf South Africa

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Protests in South Africa
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The Nigeria Union South Africa (NUSA), has urged Nigerians living in South Africa to be vigilant and adopt safety and security measures as protests spread over the incarceration of former President Jacob Zuma.

Zuma, 79, was jailed for defying a court order to testify before a state-backed inquiry probing allegations of corruption against him during his term as president from 2009 to 2018.

The President of the union, Mr Adetola Olubajo, gave the advice in a statement emailed to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) from Johannesburg on Monday.

He said five businesses belonging to Nigerians were among those destroyed on Sunday as the country grapple with the violence.

The protests that engulfed Kwa Zulu Natal and Gauteng Province has spread to other parts of the country leading to looting and damaging of property.

Zuma’s bid to be released from the Estcourt Correctional Centre was rejected by a regional court on Friday.

He is set to make another attempt on Monday with the Constitutional Court, the country’s highest court.

The rioting by Zuma’s supporters began in his home region of KwaZulu-Natal province last week and spread during the weekend to Gauteng province, including Johannesburg, South Africa’s largest city.

Olubajo said that the union had undertaken a fact-finding trip and was highly disturbed by the extent of looting, destructions and violence perpetrated by the angry protesters.

“Violent protest erupted in Kwa Zulu Natal province during the weekend after the incarceration of former President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma.

“More than 18 trucks had been set ablaze, businesses looted and properties damaged.

“These violent protests spread on Sunday to some cities in Gauteng, especially Jeppetown, Jules Street, Hillbrow, Alexander, Springfield Park, Vosloorus areas of Johannesburg.

“These violent looting and attacks are spreading rapidly to other areas of Gauteng and Kwa Zulu Natal Province with cars burnt and businesses belonging to both locals and foreign nationals looted and destroyed,’’ he said.

He said that South African Police had confirmed the arrest of over 200 offenders, several injured people, including a police officer killed on Sunday and six others.

Olubajo added that the union was yet to get the identities of those arrested and those who died.

“At this point, the South African police seem overwhelmed by the massive crowd and the situation is getting out of hand.

“We have identified five businesses belonging to Nigerians that were looted and destroyed on Sunday by the angry mob in Johannesburg.

“The looting and destructions of property has continued unabated till today.”

He appealed to Nigerians there to remain calm and law abiding but be very vigilant.

The president said NUSA national secretariat had already issued safety tips to Nigerians, and would continue to give such useful information.

“The union’s emergency management team is monitoring the situation and providing help to Nigerian nationals in areas it can.

“We also urge Nigerians to continue to observe all COVID-19 protocols to avoid contacting the virus.’’ (NAN)

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International

Iranian President, Ebrahim Raisi is dead

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Late Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi
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Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi has died after his helicopter crashed amid heavy fog in northern Iran, state media reported. Raisi was 63.

Rescuers on Monday found the chopper that was carrying the Iranian president, as well as the country’s foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and other senior officials, after it crashed in the mountainous northwest reaches of Iran.

The crash comes as the Middle East remains unsettled by the Israel-Hamas war, during which Raisi, under Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, launched an unprecedented drone-and-missile attack on Israel just last month.

Under Raisi, Iran enriched uranium closer than ever to weapons-grade levels, further escalating tensions with the West as Tehran also supplied bomb-carrying drones to Russia for its war in Ukraine and continued arming proxy groups in the Mideast such as Yemen’s Houthi rebels and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

Raisi was a prominent figure in Iranian politics, known for his alignment with conservative and hardline factions. He had been serving as president for nearly three years and was widely expected to run for re-election next year.

Born in Mashhad, a significant religious center for Shia Muslims in northeastern Iran, Raisi’s journey into politics was deeply rooted in his religious education.

He studied at the renowned seminary in Qom, under the guidance of prominent scholars, including Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the current supreme leader of Iran.

His black turban, a symbol that he was a sayyid, or a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad, held special significance among Twelver Shia Muslims, further cementing his religious and political stature.

Raisi’s career as a prosecutor began in various jurisdictions before he moved to Tehran in 1985. There, he became a part of a controversial committee of judges responsible for the execution of political prisoners, a role that drew significant criticism from human rights organizations.

Raisi’s untimely death leaves a significant void in Iran’s political landscape. As the nation mourns, questions about his potential successor and the future direction of Iranian politics loom large.

 

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Nigeria’s Senate President Akpabio seeks IPU’s voice in ending conflict in Gaza

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President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio
President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio
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The President of Nigeria’s Senate, Godswill Akpabio, has called on the International Parliamentary Union (IPU) to lend a strong voice to the restoration of lasting peace in war-torn Gaza.

Akpabio made the call while contributing to discussions at the ongoing 148th Session of the International Parliamentary Union Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland.

He said it is time for nations to rise above sentiments and invoke the spirit of humanity, by doing all they can to bring sustainable peace to the region.

Some of the resolutions, according to the Chairman of Nigeria’s National Assembly, should include access to humanitarian aid, the restoration of normal life in Gaza, and meetings on a permanent truce.

His words: ” Madam President, this is a lone voice from Nigeria. We tried our best in Angola, and we failed to lend a collective voice to what is happening in Gaza. Today, the world is very expectant.

“We must drop ego. It has nothing to do with which country brings the proposal. The basic tenets of humanity demand that we leave here with a resolution for the rest of the world, to show that we have human feelings in us.

“The issues are very clear. If you notice the proposal for 12 blocs; they attempted to even marry the proposals from South Africa. Yes! South Africa has a right to be emotional, but we have children who are dying even as we are talking now. We have people who do not have water to drink, even as we are talking now. We have people who are going to suffer infections from gunshots.

“We have to show the world that we are human beings. The cessation of hostilities must be a part of our resolutions. Access to humanitarian aid must be a part of our resolutions.

‘At the same time, the release of hostages and even those who are prisoners of war, because if both sides take steps in releasing the hostages, releasing the prisoners of war, it means that both sides have agreed that the international community can go to the next stage, which is negotiation for sustainable peace.

“If they cannot agree, I would urge that, from here, we have a three-man drafting committee to come up with those resolutions which we must make before we leave here.

‘We can no longer allow a child to die tonight without lending our voice. It doesn’t matter which side. We are all parents. If we come here to look for ego and then try to be emotional, it’s not affecting them.

“There’s nothing affecting Denmark; there’s nothing affecting South Africa. The people affected are over there and nobody will agree to the lone resolution from Israel. It must be all-encompassing so that we stand up from here as human beings. That would be my plea.

“Let them go aside, meet and remove those vexatious items. In the course of their discussions, we can have amendments. We can add items that we should add, but we must discuss the Gaza issue in this 148th IPU Assembly. That is my position.”

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Okonjo-Iweala ‘Less Optimistic’ About World Trade In 2024

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Ngozi Okonjo Iweala
Ngozi Okonjo Iweala
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The World Trade Organization’s chief Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on Wednesday said she was “less optimistic” about world trade in 2024, pointing to tensions in the Red Sea.She said weaker global economic growth, “worsening geopolitical tensions, the new disruptions we see in the Red Sea, on the Suez Canal, the Panama Canal” meant “we are less optimistic”.

Okonjo-Iweala was speaking to journalists at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss resort of Davos where political and economic elites are meeting to discuss global challenges.

Before the massive Hamas attack on Israel in October and the subsequent outbreak of war in Gaza, the WTO had predicted trade would grow by 0.8 per cent in 2023 and projected growth of 3.3 per cent this year.

But Okonjo-Iweala warned the figure for 2024 would now be lower in future forecasts.

“We think there are a lot of downside risks to the forecasts we had made last year of 3.3 percent of growth of merchandise volumes this year. So we expect weaker performance,” she said.

“We will be revising estimates for this year, but they won’t be ready for another month or so,” Okonjo-Iweala added.

A spate of attacks by Yemeni rebels on Red Sea shipping has disrupted the vital trade route while the worst drought in decades to hit the Panama Canal has forced authorities to slow transits.

Yemen’s Huthi rebels say their strikes are in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza.

The attacks have, however, also caused shipping companies to avoid the Suez Canal.

The Hamas attack on October 7 resulted in the death of around 1,140 people in Israel, most of them civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.

More than 24,400 Palestinians, around 70 percent of them women, young children and adolescents, have been killed in the Gaza Strip in Israeli bombardments and ground offensive since October 7, according to the Hamas government’s Ministry of Health.

 

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