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Chemical attack: US, UK, France bombard Syria

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The U.S., UK and France jointly launched strikes Friday night targeting the Assad regime’s chemical weapons capabilities after a suspected chemical attack killed dozens outside of Damascus, U.S. President Donald Trump announced.

“Today, the nations of Britain, France and the United States of America have marshaled their righteous power against barbarism and brutality,” Trump said from the Diplomatic Reception Room in the White House in nationally-televised remarks.

Trump said the U.S. is prepared “to sustain” the military assault “until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents”, saying the joint response will also include economic and diplomatic components.

The three countries jointly launched strikes targeting the Assad regime’s chemical weapons research centre near Damascus, a chemical weapons warehouse and a command centre related to chemical weapons located in western Homs, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford said at a joint press conference with Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

Earlier Friday, the U.S. announced it has “very high confidence” that the Assad regime is responsible for a suspected chemical attack last weekend.

The White Helmets, a civil defense agency, blamed the Assad regime for the alleged chemical attack, which it said killed 78 civilians and injured hundreds of others.

In a statement following the attacks, the White House said “a significant body of information” points to the regime’s use of chlorine in the attack, and unspecified other information indicates it also used the nerve agent sarin.

“The evil and the despicable attack left mothers and fathers, infants and children thrashing in pain and gasping for air. These are not the actions of a man; they are crimes of a monster instead,” Trump said.

Addressing Bashar al-Assad’s principal allies, Iran and Russia, the president asked: “What kind of a nation wants to be associated with the mass murder of innocent men, women and children?”

“The nations of the world can be judged by the friends they keep,” Trump said.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has dispatched a fact-finding team to Syria that was expected to begin work Saturday before the strikes took place. If it continues as originally planned, the OPCW’s mission will be focused on determining whether a chemical attack took place but will not work to determine culpability.

Trump’s decision to carry out military action follows through on days of ratcheted tensions after the attack in Douma.

Earlier this week, Trump warned Russia that U.S. missiles “will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!’” in response to the attack.

Friday night’s strikes are the second time Trump has ordered the U.S. military to target Syrian regime positions in response to a chemical attack. Last year, the U.S. targeted the Shayrat Airbase after a chemical attack blamed on the regime struck a town in northern Syria.

Announcing the attacks from Britain, UK Prime Minister Theresa May said the Assad regime’s “persistent pattern of behavior must be stopped – not just to protect innocent people in Syria from the horrific deaths and casualties caused by chemical weapons, but also because we cannot allow the erosion of the international norm that prevents the use of these weapons”.

“We have sought to use every possible diplomatic channel to achieve this, but our efforts have been repeatedly thwarted. Even this week, the Russians vetoed a resolution at the UN Security Council which would have established an independent investigation into the Douma attack,” the prime minister said.

Tuesday’s veto was Russia’s twelfth of council resolutions seeking to hold the Assad regime accountable for rights violations. Six of those resolutions sought to hold the regime accountable for chemical weapons attacks.

Anatoly Antonov, the Russian ambassador to the U.S., lashed out against the attacks, saying in a statement “a pre-designed scenario is being implemented”.

“We warned that such actions will not be left without consequences. All responsibility for them rests with Washington, London and Paris,” Antonov said. “The U.S. – the possessor of the biggest arsenal of chemical weapons – has no moral right to blame other countries.”

•Anadolu Agency.

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Nigerian Navy Releases Cute Abiola From Detention

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Nigerian Navy has freed online Comedian, Abdulgafar Ahmad, aka Cute Abiola, from detention.

Naval spokesperson, Commodore Suleman Dahun, confirmed the development to Punch on Friday.

Cute Abiola was said to have been missing on Monday, November 15, 2021, when his colleague in the comedy industry, Debo Adedayo aka Mr Macaroni, raised the alarm that he was nowhere to be found after reporting at his office in Navy Town, Lagos, that same day.

Two days after the alarm was raised, Dahun had announced that the funnyman wasn’t missing but was detained for contravening the military laws by posting a video of himself in military uniform on social media, an act which is said to be in violation of the armed forces’ social media policy.

Dahun had also added that the comedian failed to show up when called upon to explain himself but only returned after the expiration of his leave on November 15, 2021, and was put behind bars the same day.

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LCCI Predicts Nigeria’s Economy To End 2021 At 2.5% Growth Rate

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Nigeria’s economy will end its current growth rate for the year at 2.5%, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has revealed.

This was disclosed by Mrs Toki Mabogunje, President, LCCI, at the 133rd Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the chamber on Thursday in Lagos, according to the News Agency of Nigeria.

The LCCI chief urged that Nigeria’s fiscal and monetary sides of the economy should promote growth-enhancing and confidence-building policies that would encourage private capital flows to the economy to achieve the growth, and also a medium-term recovery plan anchored on local productivity, ease of business, attracting private investment, and developing physical and soft infrastructure.

Mabogunje revealed that Nigeria’s inflation would be sustained at its double-digit level in the short to medium term due to persistent food supply shocks, foreign exchange illiquidity, higher energy cost, potential removal of fuel subsidy, insecurity and social unrest in the Northern region.

“These structural factors will continue to mount pressure on domestic consumer prices,” she said.

She added that despite the non-oil economy growth by 5.4 per cent, insecurity challenges in some parts of the country may cause production to shrink and supply chain to be disrupted.

“Key drivers of the non-oil sector growth were finance and insurance with 23.2 per cent, transport and storage 20.6 per cent, trade with 11.9 per cent, telecommunications 10.9 per cent.

“Others are manufacturing 4.3 per cent, construction 4.1 per cent, real estate 2.3 per cent as well as agriculture 1.2 per cent all year round.

“However, with the worsening security perception about the country, foreign investors are not interested in bringing in Foreign Direct Investments to Nigeria,” Mabogunje said.

On the decision of the Monetary Policy Committee of the Central Bank of Nigeria to retain policy parameters, she said that while the CBN has been keen to extend credit to the real economy as a way of supporting the economy, the fact remains that credit provision in recent times has proved ineffective in boosting output growth and stabilising consumer prices.

“This is given the weak pass-through effect of traditional monetary policy instruments on the broader economy.

“A broad-based combination of fiscal and monetary policies is imperative to achieving the twin objective of economic growth and price stability.

“Looking forward, factors such as oil prices, oil production, output growth, inflation, foreign exchange stability, foreign capital inflows, credit to the private sector are expected to influence monetary policy.

“These decisions are decisions in the short to medium term.

“On the fiscal side, we expect to see clear communications and actions on the proposed fuel subsidy removal and how this will ease government’s revenue and boost investment in infrastructure,” she said

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APC Never Won 2018 In Osun in 2018 – Ex- Dep. Speaker Lasun

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Former Deputy Speaker of House of Representatives, Hon. Lasun Yussuff said the All Progressives Congress (APC) rigged 2018 gubernatorial election that brought Adegboyega Oyetola into office.

He said the party lost the election.

Lasun also revealed that the current Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege, was compensated for his current office because of the role he (Omo-Agege) played in 2018 in Osun state.

Speaking with newsmen at the APC national secretariat Thursday in Abuja, after he picked his nomination forms to contest the party’s governorship ticket, Lasun said, “And let me tell you this, the former governor of Zamfara State (Abdulaziz Yari) was the chairman of that Committee. On the day of primary, Senator Yari did not go to Osun, that is left for you journalists to go and find out, why he did not go.

“But let me give you a glimpse of what actually happened. The man knew I was popular. The man was instructed to go and do a particular thing, but he told them, I have run an investigation and I have discovered that the Deputy Speaker is popular, if you want us to come and achieve this, it might be difficult. That was one of the reasons that the man didn’t come.

“The job was undertaken by the current distinguished Senator, Deputy Senate President (Ovie Omo-Agege). He became the Chairman overnight.

“And I want to say, if he likes, he can controvert this, one of the reasons why he is Deputy Senate President today was that he was compensated for that job.

“Omo-Agege was in my home town for four hours on the day of that primary and he actually conducted three Wards primary out of six Wards of my home town and he signed three results. So, if I had wanted to go to court, what happened in Zamfara would have happened in Osun state. But I never went to school because I wanted to start writing petitions.

“But on Thursday when they met at the party secretariat, I warned them, I said if you rig me out of this election, I can assure you that you are not going to win the governorship. They thought I was a small boy and they thought I was just blabbing or just a mere threat.

“But my friends, you are a witness to what happened when the election eventually held. Did they win? They didn’t because there is no way they can rig.”

Lasun also said he does not believe that the party will conduct a free and fair primaries ahead of the 2022 governorship election, but he warned that “Nobody born of a woman can repeat what they did to me in 2018 because I was rigged out.

“I’m not talking about violence, don’t misunderstand me. People know me, I don’t use thugs in politics, I don’t do violence in Osun, but whoever tries it will have his generation to blame for it.

“There is still a gang up against me. You want to tell me party members have a say in the party? They don’t have to say.

“In 2018, when the opportunity came to run for the governorship election presented itself, I came into the race. Though at that time there was a serious gang up against me at the party level within the state. A serious gang up, well orchestrated, well coordinated. Because of the person I am, I don’t believe in jumping ship.I have had the opportunity to move from APC to another party, but that is not me. I knew the whole thing was tilted against me, but I never bothered.

“If not for my campaign, because I came out very early for my campaign in 2017, APC was dead in Osun. Dead to the extent that it was not possible for APC to win that governorship election unless it was given to someone like me.

“Let me remind Nigerians today that whether it is a direct or indirect primary, the confusion started in Osun state in 2018, with the sole aim of rigging Lasun Yusuff out of the governorship election. I’m that important in APC.”

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