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Coup attempt in Niger two days to new president’s inauguration

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An attempted coup has been reported in Niger Republic following heavy gunfire close to the presidential palace.

The coup attempt was, however, foiled and a group of soldiers behind the assault has been arrested, AFP reports.

The attack came two days ahead of President-elect Mohamed Bazoum’s inauguration.

It will be the first transfer of power between two democratically elected presidents in Niger since the country became independent in 1960.

There have been increasing attacks by jihadist groups since Bazoum’s election in February, creating political tensions in the country, the BBC’s Lalla Sy reports.

His rival, Mahamane Ousmane, has rejected the result and his supporters were earlier banned from holding a protest on Wednesday in the capital, Niamey.

Former US Sahel envoy J Peter Pham tweeted that both the President-elect and outgoing President Mahamadou Issoufou were safe.

“Reports tonight of gunfire and rumors of mutiny in #Niamey, just a week after terrorists killed 100+ & just days before ��#Niger is to have its first-ever handover from one elected president to another. Alhamdulillah, @IssoufouMhm & @mohamedbazoum are safe & the incident is over,” he tweeted.

The gunfire reportedly started around 03:00 local time (02:00 GMT), with people in the capital saying it lasted between 15 and 30 minutes.

“We heard shots from heavy and light weapons and it lasted 15 minutes before stopping, followed by shots from light weapons,” a resident told the AFP news agency.

A security source told Reuters that it was a unit from a nearby air base that had tried to seize the presidential palace in Niamey.

The assailants were pushed back amid shelling and gunfire by the presidential guard, security sources told both AFP and Reuters.

President Issoufou is stepping down after two five-year terms. His successor, Mr Bazoum, is a former interior minister from the governing party.

But Ousmane, who was elected president 1993 and overthrown in a military coup three years later, had alleged February’s poll was rigged and some violent protests followed.

The US embassy issued a statement following the unrest overnight.

Location: Niger

Event: U.S. Embassy Niamey will be closed on Wednesday, March 31, 2021 due to gunshots heard near our neighborhood. Consular services are suspended until further notice. All personnel are encouraged to stay home until further notice.

The security situation throughout Niger remains fluid in the post-election period with the possibility of unrest and/or intercommunal clashes around the country. There may be a corresponding increase in police presence and traffic delays on major roads. Please exercise caution.

The Embassy will continue to review the security situation and provide additional information, as appropriate.

The armed forces in the coup-prone West African are poorly equipped and trained, and number about 25,000 in a country twice the size of the US state of Texas, AFP reports.

Niger is the world’s poorest nation, according to the UN’s development rankings for 189 countries.

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IPOB: There’ll be one-month lockdown in south-east if FG fails to bring Kanu to court

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The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) says the south-east region will go on a one-month lockdown, if the federal government fails to bring Nnamdi Kanu, its leader, to court on October 21.

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On July 26, Binta Nyako, judge of the federal high court, Abuja, adjourned the trial of Kanu till October 21, owing to the failure of the federal government to produce him in court.

In June, Nnamdi Kanu was arrested and extradited to Nigeria to face trial. He was remanded in the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS) after he was re-arraigned before the judge.

On August 9, the proscribed group announced the enforcement of a lockdown every Monday until Kanu is released but later suspended the directive, a few days later.

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Reacting, IPOB, in a statement, by Emma Powerful, its spokesperson, alleged that the federal government has perfected plans not to bring Kanu to court on the next adjourned date.

The group said its “peaceful resolution” towards the trial of Kanu should not be misconstrued as weakness, while stressing that there will be one month lockdown in the south-east, if the federal government fails to bring Kanu to court.

“The attention of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) ably led by our great prophet and liberator of our time, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, has been drawn to the plot by Nigeria government and DSS in Abuja not to produce our leader Mazi Nnamdi Kanu to court on 21st October 2021, the date he is due to appear in court to start his case,” the statement reads.

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“The federal government of Nigeria has again perfected plans not to bringing him to court on that day. Their wicked plan is to perpetually keep him behind bars without trial to see if they can demoralise him and Biafrans but they are late.

“If the federal government refuses to bring him to court in his next court appearance on October 21, 2021, the entire Biafra land will be on total lock down for one month. The federal government will know that they cannot take us for granted any more. Our peaceful disposition as a people should not be misconstrued as weakness.

“Their plan is to suppress agitation and force everyone into submission but Biafrans won’t succumb to their intimidation.”

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Reps summon Sunday Dare over athletes’ disqualification at Tokyo Olympics

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The house of representatives has summoned Sunday Dare, minister of youth and sports development, over the disqualification of 10 athletes at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

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The lower chamber passed the resolution during plenary session on Wednesday following the adoption of a motion sponsored by Lawrence Ayeni, lawmaker from Osun state.

The minister is to brief the lawmakers on the level of Nigeria’s compliance with extant regulations set by the International Association of
Athletics Federations (IAAF) and Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU).

TheCable had reported how the AIU disqualified 10 Nigerian track and field athletes for failing to comply with the out-of-competition testing (OCT) requirement.

AIU said Nigeria is among countries deemed to have the highest doping risk, and the athletes were expected to undergo “at least three no-notice out-of-competition tests (urine and blood) conducted no less than 3 weeks apart in the 10 months leading up to a major event”.

Leading the debate on the motion on Wednesday, Ayeni said Nigeria was disqualified despite the “huge funds” available to the sports ministry and preparation made by the athletes.

“Nigeria delegation to the Olympic Games fared well in terms of performance, thereby raising the country’s rating the comity of nations,” he said.

“Concerned that despite the huge funds being made available yearly for the regulatory agencies in the sports sector, adequate efforts have not been made to get Nigeria into the category where they would be deemed to have made significant improvements in anti-doping tests.”

The motion was unanimously adopted after it was put to a voice vote by Femi Gbajabiamila, speaker of the house.

While mandating its committee on sports to investigate the cause of the “failed doping test to forestall future occurrence,” the green chamber asked the ministry of sports to put measures in place to “ensure compliance with extant regulations at both local and international competitions”.

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Senate passes MTEF, retains $57 per barrel as oil benchmark

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The senate on Wednesday passed the medium term expenditure framework (MTEF), retaining the oil benchmark for the 2022 budget at $57 per barrel.

The upper legislative chamber also put the daily crude oil production at 1.88 million barrels per day and the exchange rate of N410 to a dollar.

The aforementioned assumptions, which the 2022 budget will be predicated on, were proposed by the federal executive council (FEC).

The upper legislative chamber did not make any adjustments to the assumptions of FEC chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Before the senators passed the document, Solomon Olamilekan, chairman of the finance committee, while presenting a report, said there should be a continuous review of the Fiscal Responsibility Act to ensure that all revenues are remitted to the federation account.

The Lagos west senator said this would curtail “frivolous” deductions and diversion of funds by miniseries, departments and agencies (MDA).

“That the daily crude oil production of 1.88mbpd, 2.23mbpd, and 2.22mbpd for 2022, 2023 and 2024 respectively, be approved, in view of average 1.93mbpd over the past three years and the fact that a very conservative oil output benchmark has been adopted for the medium term in order to ensure greater budget realism,” he said.

“That the benchmark oil price of $57 per barrel should be approved because of the clear evidence of wide consultations with key stakeholders. and the age long fiscal strategy of addressing the oil price shocks by the adoption of a higher than forecast oil price benchmark for fiscal projections over the medium term.

“That the exchange rate of N410.15 to a dollar proposed by the executive for 2022-2024 be approved.”

The senate also approved the projected gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate of 4.20 percent and projected inflation rate of 13 percent.

At the international market, Brent oil price climbed by 1.4 percent to $75.44 a barrel while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose 1.6 percent to $71.65 a barrel over tight supply as demand improves.

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