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Channels TV reporter was shot dead during Shiite clash with police in Abuja

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A young ChannelsTV reporter serving out his NYSC with the television station, was caught in the crossfire as police clashed with Shiite protesters in Abuja.

Precious Owolabi, 23, who was interning with ChannelsTV as a reporter, was shot dead as police clashed with members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), otherwise referred to as Shiite, in Abuja, Nigeria’s administrative capital, on Monday, July 22, 2019.

Owolabi was serving out a mandatory one-year National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) program with the television station. He was hit by a stray bullet to his stomach.

“The 23-year-old died of a gunshot wound he sustained while covering the clash between the police and the Shiite protesters on Monday in Abuja”, ChannelsTV reported.

The statement from the broadcast station would add that: “The management and staff of Channels Television are greatly saddened by the untimely and unfortunate death of such a promising journalist.

“We pray that God will grant his family the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss, and avail his soul eternal rest”.

Recent clashes between Shiites and the police have played out in pristine Abuja, the seat of government in Nigeria.

Protesting a leader’s detention

Members of the Shiite sect have been protesting the arrest of their spiritual leader Ibrahim El-Zakzaky who has been in detention since 2015, following a bloody clash between Shiites and officers of the Nigerian Army in Zaria, Kaduna State.

El-Zakzaky has been complaining of a failing health at recent court appearances.

Shiite leader, El-Zakzaky in court

Shiite leader, El-Zakzaky in court

The Islamic sect has clashed with the Police and the Nigerian Army on numerous occasions since 2015. 

40 Shiites were arrested on July 9, 2019 during a protest march to the National Assembly that turned bloody as two officers were shot, although the sect said the officers were shot by other officers who opened fire on the IMN protesters.

Monday’s protest also claimed the life of the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of operations in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), DCP Usman Umar, who was confirmed dead in the hospital after a bullet was lodged in his head. 

Usman served as the Principal Staff Officer (PSO) to former Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, before he was later appointed as the DCP Operations.

Eyewitnesses say policemen had opened fire on the Shiite protesters after attempts to calm and ward them off failed. 

Presidency reacts to claims it is keeping El-Zakzaky in defiance of court order

The federal government has denied that it is flouting court orders with the continuous detention of El-Zakzaky, with President Buhari’s spokesperson, Garba Shehu, stating that the Shiite leader is being kept in custody because he is still being tried by the government of Kaduna State, the jurisdiction where the 2015 clash occurred.

“The presidency appeals to El-Zakzaky-led Shiite members to desist from needless violent street protests and await the decision of the court in Kaduna where their leader is currently being tried.

President Buhari and Kaduna Governor Elrufai. Presidency maintains that El-Zakzaky is being kept by the Kaduna State govt (Punch)

President Buhari and Kaduna Governor Elrufai. Presidency maintains that El-Zakzaky is being kept by the Kaduna State govt (Punch)

“The federal government no more has hands in the matter and to that extent, the government at the center can be said to be clear of any alleged violations of court orders as being trumpeted every day. 

“These rallies and street dances ostensibly to openly insult the president and other leaders, threatening bloodshed will lead nowhere because President Buhari will not ask the country’s judiciary to abandon due process and set a suspect free.

“The Buhari administration has absolutely no hand in the on-going court case and the courts are free to determine the bail request and the final outcome”, the presidency said through Shehu. 

The trial of El-Zakzaky 

Even though a Federal High Court ordered his release in December 2016, the Department of State Security (DSS) continued to detain El-Zakzaky.

In May 2018, El-Zakzaky was eventually arraigned before a Kaduna High Court and charged with unlawful gathering, criminal conspiracy and culpable homicide. The court would deny him bail afterwards.

400 IMN members were arrested by the police for disturbance of public peace and law and order in Abuja on October 30, 2018.

They were alleged to have set a police truck on fire. They were arrested with 31 bottles of petrol bombs and other dangerous weapons.

Nigerian police fired tear gas to disperse Shi’ite Muslim protesters (Sabcnews)

Nigerian police fired tear gas to disperse Shi’ite Muslim protesters (Sabcnews)

On October 27, 2018, the Army accused Shiite protesters of attacking a convoy carrying ammunition.

The clash on the day resulted in the death of three people, with a couple of soldiers also wounded.

The protesters returned on October 29 and got involved in another clash with the Army and the Police.

While the Army reported that three other Shiites were killed on the day, the Shia sect claimed around 50 were killed by troops.

On January 20, 2012, Enenche Akogwu, a cameraman with ChannelsTV, was shot three times in the chest and three times in the stomach by Boko Haram terrorists on a Kano street, as the insurgents blew up the northern city with bombs.

Akogwu was 31 years of age.

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24 Hours Across Africa

Thailand: Thanathorn call for protest against possible ban

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Thai opposition party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit called for a peaceful protest on Saturday after asking supporters to mobilize in the face of a possible banon his Future Forward party.

Thanathorn, 41, has emerged as the most outspoken opponent of the government headed by former junta chief Prayuth Chan-ocha, 65, since elections in March that the opposition said were manipulated to favor the army.

“We reject all of violence, be it from the demonstrators or be it from government officials”.

“We believe that it’s time for the people who will not tolerate any more the NCPO regime to show themselves, to show their willingness to participate in politics,” he said, referring to the name of the former junta, The National Council for Peace and Order.

The call by Thanathorn for supporters to mobilize has revived memories of the spasms of protest in Bangkok over the past two decades of turbulent politics that were interrupted by coups in 2006 and 2014.

Thanathorn said he did not want to revive those disturbances or to call protests like those that have rocked Hong Kong this year.

Police in the Bangkok district to which Thanathorn has called his followers to gather said they had not received a request for a gathering in line with a law on public meetings, but have not said they would try to block it.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha told reporters it was inappropriate to organize a demonstration towards the end of the year.

Thailand’s election panel has asked the Constitutional Court to dissolve the Future Forward Party, accusing it of infringing laws governing political parties by accepting multi-million dollar loans from its leader Thanathorn.

Last month, the Constitutional Court found Thanathorn guilty of holding shares in a media company on the date his candidacy was registered for the election, disqualifying him as a member of parliament. Thanathorn disputed the ruling.

On Saturday, Thanathorn signed an agreement with six parties in an opposition alliance to push for changes to the constitution that was drawn up by the junta before the elections.

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24 Hours Across Africa

Boris Johnson vows to repay electorate after historic election win

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Boris Johnson has promised to work “night and day” to repay the trust of voters after he led the Conservatives to an “historic” general election win.

With just one seat left to declare, the Tories have a Commons majority of 76.

Speaking in London, the PM said he had a mandate to take the UK out of the EU next month “no ifs, no buts”.

Jeremy Corbyn has said he will not fight another election as Labour leader after the party was swept aside in its traditional heartlands.

With just one constituency – the Cornish seat of St Ives – left to declare, the Conservatives have 364 MPs, Labour 203, the SNP 48, Liberal Democrats 11 and the DUP eight.

Sinn Fein has seven MPs, Plaid Cymru four and the SDLP has two. The Green Party and Alliance Party have one each.

The Brexit Party – which triumphed in the summer’s European Parliament elections – failed to win any Westminster seats.

The Conservative Party’s Commons majority is its largest since Margaret Thatcher won a third term in 1987.

In his victory speech, Mr Johnson told activists it was a “new dawn” for the country, echoing comments Labour’s Tony Blair made when he won the general election of 1997.

He thanked Labour voters, many of whom, he said, had backed the Conservatives for the first time, vowing to lead a “people’s government” and fulfil the “sacred trust” placed in him.

“You may intend to return to Labour next time round, and if that is the case, I am humbled that you have put your trust in me, and I will never take your support for granted,” he said.

“I will make it my mission to work night and day, flat out to prove that you were right in voting for me this time, and to earn your support in the future.”

Mr Johnson said the electorate’s “voice” had “been heard”, adding: “The people want change… We cannot and we must not let them down.”

Labour has suffered its worst defeat since 1935, losing seats across northern England, the Midlands and Wales in areas which backed Brexit in the 2016 referendutm.

Mr Johnson said the Tories’ thumping victory had “smashed the roadblock” in Parliament over Brexit and put an end to the “miserable threats” of another referendum on Europe.

He said: “We will get Brexit done on time by 31 January – no ifs, no buts, not maybe.”

Mr Johnson will go to Buckingham Palace later this morning to ask the Queen’s permission to form a government.

Speaking after he was re-elected as MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, he said there had been a “political earthquake”.

During the six-week campaign, Mr Johnson – who became prime minister in July after a Tory leadership contest – focused relentlessly on a single message, to “get Brexit done”.

Labour primarily campaigned on a promise to end austerity by increasing spending on public services.

Source BBC

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