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NIGERIAN ARMY ATTACK VILLAGES, KILL DOZENS.

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Nigeria’s air force killed at least 35 people in attacks on villages in the northeastern state of Adamawa in December, Amnesty International said in a report on Tuesday.

Residents of the villages described being fired upon by a fighter jet and military helicopter as they attempted to flee, at the same time as hundreds of herdsmen took part in a revenge attack on the communities for earlier killings, Amnesty said.

“Launching air raids is not a legitimate law enforcement method by anyone’s standard,” said Osai Ojigho, Amnesty’s country director for Nigeria, in Tuesday’s report.

Such reckless use of deadly force is unlawful, outrageous and lays bare the Nigerian military’s shocking disregard for the lives of those it supposedly exists to protect,” she said.

The report is the latest challenge to the military on human rights and the attacks suggest a deadly crisis between herders and farmers is spiralling out of government control.

Reports of abuses and military excesses rarely result in Nigeria’s military meting out public discipline to officers.

Air Force spokesman Olatokunbo Adesanya denied it had bombed any locations in the region or fired shots targeting people, saying it had opened fire to dissuade looters and vandals. Adesanya said he was unaware of any human casualties.

On December 4, air force fighter jets fired rockets at villages to deter communal clashes as a cycle of violence and revenge attacks gripped Adamawa state, Amnesty said.

The region is a flashpoint for violence between Muslim herders and Christian farmers over rights to grazing land and agriculture. This month at least 168 people have died across five states in such clashes, said Amnesty.

“The helicopter and the jet started releasing bombs. Houses started burning. Children started running for their lives,” an unnamed farmer from the village of Shafaron told Amnesty.

The report described the “devastating cumulative effect of the herders and Air Force attacks, with at least eight villages heavily damaged or completely destroyed by fire.”

Burned husks of vehicles and blackened houses reduced in parts to rubble were shown in an accompanying video from Amnesty. Satellite images depicted large swathes of settlements ravaged by fire.

Eighty-six people died, with the Nigerian air force responsible for at least 35 deaths, and some 3,000 homes were destroyed in the five villages visited, said Amnesty.

Nigeria is in the final stages of buying fighter planes from the United States, a deal halted by former president Barack Obama’s administration over concerns about the military’s human rights record.

President Donald Trump’s administration approved the sale. That came after as many as 170 people died last January after Nigeria’s air force bombed a refugee camp.

Nigeria’s military receives regular training from the United States and Britain.

Motherland News

Families Identify Church Collapse Victims in Anguish

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Tears and anguish characterized the atmosphere as the grieving families of 13 worshipers killed in a church collapse arrived at the Richards Bay mortuary to identify the bodies of their loved ones.

The worshipers died when a wall collapsed at the Pentecostal Holiness Church near Empangeni in northern KwaZulu-Natal last Thursday night.

The KwaZulu-Natal Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Department co-ordinated with various departments including health, home affairs and the police, to assist in speeding up the body identification process.

Six worshippers were from Ulundi, four from eSikhawini and three from Maqwakazi in uMlalazi.

Describing the collapse, Phumelele Simelane from eSikhawini said worshippers had just had their evening meal and were preparing to sleep when the wall caved in.

Simelane was with her 6-year-old son, who is recovering in hospital. She said she came to the mortuary to support congregants whose relatives died.

The Mthembu family, who lost grandmother Thembi Mthabela, 54, and Andiswa Mthembu, 10, in the tragedy were overcome with grief.

“Thembi loved going to church and she always took Andiswa with her. Andiswa was doing Grade 3 at Nyathini Primary School. As a family, we are very traumatised and it is hard for us,” said a relative, who did not wanted to be named.

Buhle Mzila, whose sister Samke, 33, died, said the family had lost a breadwinner.

Samke, who worked at the Ulundi Municipality, was with her 9-year-old daughter during the incident.

Buhle said her niece, who was in hospital, was in a state of shock about her mother’s death.

“Samke loved the church, she always made sure she attended every service. She played a big role in terms of assisting the family. We are still going to feel her absence,” said Buhle.

A sobbing Mbongeni Langa said his mother had died in a “place she loved”.

The memorial service will be held tomorrow

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Motherland News

CAF Sidelines Nigerian Centre Referees for 2019 AFCON

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Out of the Twenty-seven centre referees penciled down for the 2019 African Cup of Nations, countries like Burundi, Mali, Zambia and Sudan are represented on the list, but no Nigerian referee was selected for the big occasions.

However, only one assistant referee from Nigeria named Baba Adel was listed among the twenty-nine assistant referees selected by the African Football Governing Body.

The competition will be held from 21 June to 19 July 2019, as per the decision of the CAF Executive Committee on 20 July 2017.

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