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Hate Speech, Inciting Comments …As Stiffer Penalties For Broadcasting Code’s Violation Take Effect …Jonathan Keeps Mum After Meeting Buhari

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President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the review of the National Broadcasting Code and extant broadcasting laws to reflect stiffer penalties for violators of broadcasting regulations.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who disclosed this, yesterday, in Abuja while inaugurating the National Broadcasting Commission Reform Implementation Committee, said that the President specifically approved the upward review of fines from N500,000 to N5million for breaches relating to hate speeches, inciting comments and indecency.
He said the President also approved that wilful repeat of infractions on three occasions after levying fine on a station should attract suspension of license.
The minister said Buhari also approved the upgrade of breach of political comments relating to hate speeches and divisive comments to “Class A” offence in the Broadcasting Code.
The President has also endorsed the implementation of reforms to end all forms of monopoly detrimental to the actualisation of the immense potential of the broadcast industry.
Other approvals by the President, according to the minister, are “Amendment of the NBC Act to enable NBC license WebTV and radio stations, including foreign broadcasters beam signals into Nigeria.
“Recruitment of more monitoring staff for the NBC. At the moment, there are only about 200 staff monitoring about 1,000 radio and television stations.
“Deployment of adequate monitoring equipment and technologies for the NBC and enhancement of welfare packages of NBC staff to avoid their being compromised in the line of duty”.
The President, according to the minister, said that the reviewed code must also ensure the independence of the NBC from political interference in the exercise of its regulatory powers, particularly with respect to the issuance and withdrawal of broadcasting license.
Mohammed said the decisions were a sequel to the deliberations at the Federal Executive Council meeting of March 27, on the unprofessional and unethical conduct of some broadcast stations, especially before and during the last general election.
“The President directed me to institute an inquiry into the conduct of the stations and report back to the council
“Consequently, I inaugurated a five-member committee on Wednesday, April 10, 2019 with the following terms of reference: ‘To find out to what extent the NBC was able to effectively carry out its regulatory role before and during the 2019 general election.
“Recommend measures that could strengthen NBC’s regulatory role and make it more effective.
“The committee submitted its report on April 24, 2019, with 26 recommendations, and I subsequently forwarded the report to Mr. President, who has since approved them’,” he said.
The minister, therefore, charged the reform implementation committee to carry out a thorough job that will reposition the NBC as a effective and efficient regulator.
The Terms of Reference of the Implementation Committee, as listed by the minister, include to immediately commence work on all statutory, legal and regulatory framework for further legislative action on the review of the NBC Act by the National Assembly; to immediately assess and propose equipment, materials and training needed to make the NBC a modern and well-positioned regulator and to liaise with relevant agencies to ensure the provision of the manpower needs of the commission to enable it function optimally.
He also said the committee is to immediately establish and publicize a new sanctioning, fines and penalty regime that is in line with international best practice, promote professionalism and serve as a deterrent to erring practitioners against misconduct, especially hate speech, violence and spread of fake news.
The committee is also saddled with the responsibility of establishing and publishing a new regulation for the licensing of Web and Internet broadcasters/International broadcasters in Nigeria, in addition to ending all forms of monopoly detrimental to the actualization of the immense potential of the broadcast industry.
The committee is chaired by the Director, Broadcast Monitoring of NBC, Prof. Armstrong Idachaba, while the Chief Press Secretary, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Mr. Joe Mutah, will serve as Secretary.
Other members are Sir Godfrey Ohuabunwa, Acting Chairman of the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON); Mr. J.K. Ehicheoya, Esq, Director, Legal Services, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture; Hajia Binta Adamu Bello, Secretary General, Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON); Mr. Ibrahim Jimoh, Director of Administration, Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria; Hon. Agbo Kingsley Ndubuisi, Board Member, NBC, as members.
Meanwhile, the committee has six weeks to submit its report.
Also, ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, declined to comment on the outcome of his meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The agenda of the meeting between Buhari and Jonathan, which lasted for about 15 minutes, was not made known to newsmen.
The former president, who was escorted to his car by the State Chief of Protocol, Amb Lawal Kazaure, only answered greetings from State House correspondents and other staff.
When journalists tried to find out details of what transpired between him and Buhari, Jonathan simply shunned them, and hoped into his car, and drove off.
It would be recalled that Jonathan and Buhari had met behind closed doors at the Presidential Villa, Abuja to discuss a number of national issues.
The former president arrived the State House at 3.00p.m, and went straight to the President’s office for the meeting.
The former president, who was visiting the Presidential Villa for the fifth time since the swearing-in of the Buhari administration on May 29, 2015, was last seen in the State House in 2016.

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52 Soldiers, 1,000 Jihadists Die In Offensive, Army Confirms …As Nigeria, Chad Agree To Sustain Tempo Over Boko Haram’s Defeat

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The Chadian Army said, yesterday, that it had wound up an offensive against Boko Haram jihadists in the Lake Chad border region in which 52 troops and 1,000 jihadists were killed.
The Army spokesman, Colonel Azem Bermendoa Agouna told newsmen that the operation, launched after nearly 100 soldiers were killed last month, ended last Wednesday after the Nigerian jihadists were forced out of the country.
“A thousand terrorists have been killed, 50 motorised canoes have been destroyed,” he said, referring to a large boat also called a pirogue.
It is the first official snapshot of the outcome of Operation Bohoma Anger, launched after Chad’s armed forces suffered their biggest one-day loss in their history.
Lake Chad is a vast, marshy body of water where the borders of Niger, Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon meet.
The western shores of the lake have been hit by jihadists crossing from Nigeria’s North-East, where Boko Haram launched a bloody campaign of violence in 2009.
On March 23, jihadists mounted a deadly seven-hour assault on a Chadian Army base at Bohoma, killing at least 98 troops, according to an official toll.
Chad declared departments near the lake “a war zone” in order to give the military free rein for the offensive.
The four countries bordering the lake, had in 2015 set up a formation called the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), also including Benin, to fight Boko Haram.
But Chad, whose forces have a relatively high standing in the Sahel, has shown frustration with the MNJTF following the Bohoma losses.
“Chad is alone in shouldering all the burden of the war against Boko Haram,” President Idriss Deby Itno complained last weekend.
“I met the commander of the MNJTF and asked him to take over.”
Boko Haram’s 11-year-old campaign has claimed tens of thousands of lives in Nigeria’s North-East, and driven nearly two million people from their homes.
Separately, in Niger, the Defence Ministry in Niamey said its armed forces, in a joint operation with Chad, had inflicted “heavy losses” on Boko Haram in the Lake Chad region.
“Arms caches, logistical points and several boats were destroyed” and islands used as rear bases in the lake’s marshland were “bombarded from the air,” it said.
Landlocked and poor, Niger is facing jihadist attacks in opposite ends of the country — an insurgency that has spilled over from neighbouring Mali, and raids in the Lake Chad region by Boko Haram fighters.
However, in Burkina Faso, five soldiers were killed and three were wounded, yesterday, when their unit came under attack from jihadists in Solle, in the northern province of Loroum, an Army official said.
Around 4,000 people lost their lives last year in jihadist or community-related violence in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, according to UN figures.
Meanwhile, Nigeria and the Republic of Chad, yesterday, agreed to sustain the tempo to the defeat suffered by Boko Haram where five bases of the terror group in both countries were destroyed.
The Minister of Defence, Maj.-Gen. Bashir Magashi (rtd) said this at the bilateral meeting of ministers of defence of the two countries in Abuja.
He said it was imperative to sustain the tempo of the current operation in order to retain the gain recorded by the Multinational Joint Task Force by destroying Boko Haram’s bases.
He said the creation of the Multinational Joint Task Force by the two countries had unleashed deadly blow on the insurgency, adding that there was need to sustain the tempo.
“We need to seek ways to end Boko Haram and the meeting will come up with acceptable ways of ending the insurgency.
“We need new strategy to fast track the rooting out of Boko Haram, if we want our region to be free of terrorists,” he said.
It would be recalled that Boko Haram had in 2009 launched a bloody insurgency in North-East Nigeria but later spread its atrocities to neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, which prompted a military response.
The minister said that in spite of the successes recorded in the fight against Boko Haram, Nigeria was concerned about the heightening activities of the terrorists group as suggested by recent attacks on military locations.
He also raised the alarm over the spate of kidnapping, banditry and other heinous activities in the country.
He added that the Nigerian armed forces had not relented in its efforts to fight all terrorist group’s operation in the sub-region, while commending the success recorded in individual countries through the MJTF.
Magashi said that the current security challenges ravaging the entire world over COVID-19 with far reaching socio-economic consequences and the current security development on the restriction of movement also necessitated the meeting.
“I must also add that the meeting holding at this auspicious time and the premium our governments placed on our nation, we respectively commend the two Presidents for their determination,” he said.
The Chadian Minister of Defence, Mahamat Aba-Ali Soilah, however, promised its support for the fight, adding that the government of Chad would sustain the tempo.

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Easter: Wike Relaxes Restrictions For Religious Gatherings

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The Rivers State Government has temporarily relaxed the restrictions on large religious gatherings to enable Christians carry out their religious obligations during the Easter period.
In a state broadcast, yesterday, Governor Nyesom Wike said the directive also permits the Muslim community to observe their Jumaat prayers within the period.
He said: “In the Spirit of Easter, therefore, and after a careful review of the state of COVID-19 situation in our state, we have decided to temporarily relax the restriction on large religious gathering, as follows.
“Friday, April 10, 2020 – all Moslem faithful should observe Juma’at prayers in their mosques or prayer grounds throughout the state and pray for the peace, forgiveness and the blessings of Allah upon the state.
“Sunday, April 12, 2020 – all Christians should have Easter church services with their full congregation and pray to God to forgive us of our sins, continue to intervene in our affairs and protect the state and our people from the Coronavirus.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the relaxation on mass religious gathering is limited only to the afore-mentioned respective dates.”
Wike stated that all other restrictions remain.
“All other restrictions, including the closure of markets, night-clubs, cinemas, beer parlours, public burials, weddings, parks as well as the closure of our air, land, and sea routes into the state, shall remain in force until further notice.
“Once again, thank you for your support and cooperation as we work collectively to keep our dear Rivers State safe and secure from Coronavirus and other afflictions”, he said.
“I wish you all a happy Easter celebration, while trusting on your prayers for God to heal our land and see us through.”
Wike said all the measures implemented by the Rivers State Government since March 24, 2020 to check the spread of Coronavirus have yielded results.
He said: Most of these measures, including the restrictions on religious assemblies above fifty persons, were targeted at avoiding comingling, maintaining social distancing and ensuring that the state and its citizens are free from COVID-19. From all assessments, it is going well with our state and we are grateful to God for His mercies and protection.
“We are also grateful for the strong public support and I just want to say thank you for your kind understanding in the midst of the troubles you are made to endure at these trying times.”
The Rivers State governor added that all measures have implemented with no harm intended for any group.
He said: “As a government, our conscience is clear and we intended no harm whatsoever to anybody. All the measures we have taken so far, and all that we have done are in the best interest of our state and for the general good of our people.
“We have no other choice but to fight this mass killer virus with all of our might and every weapon and resource at our disposal, less we all perish, for our inactions and indiscretions.
“Let me appeal to you to continue to hold on to our hopes and prayers; as we are at the moment the envy of many other states for the way God has helped us to keep COVID-19 away from our state.”

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Inter’s Barcelona Target Open To Madrid Move

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Lautaro Martinez has never ruled out a switch to Real Madrid, says his agent, Beto Yaque, but a player generating intense speculation regarding a move to Barcelona is expected to honour a long-term contract at Inter.
Having settled quickly on a European stage following his arrival at San Siro from Racing, the Argentina international has emerged as a top target for leading sides across the continent.
Reigning La Liga champions Barca are said to head that queue, with the Catalan giants willing to spend big on bringing in a fellow countryman to sit alongside club captain Lionel Messi.
Those at Santiago Bernabeu would also be expected to be in the mix were Lautaro to become available on the open market, given their penchant for snapping up ‘Galacticos’.
There have been suggestions that Martinez has no interest in linking up with the Blancos, having snubbed their advances in the past, but his representative insists that is not the case.
Beto Yaque told Tidesports source, “He never said that he does not like Madrid, only that he wanted to succeed in Racing.”
Lautaro is expected to make another big-money move at some point, with Messi having already talked up his qualities amid the ongoing talk of interest from Camp Nou.
“Surely for Lauty it is a great compliment to be spoken about by the best in the world,” Yaque added.
“I think that is very nice and comforting for him.”
The rumours regarding his future could be considered something of a distraction for Lautaro, with the likes of Manchester City also said to be in the mix, but Yaque insists that is not the case.
He said: “He treats it as if it is nothing, because he is only focused on his club. But surely there is great satisfaction knowing that he is doing things well.”
Inter have made it clear that they have no intention of sanctioning a sale any time soon, with Lautaro a key figure in their long-term plans.
Yaque expects the 22-year-old to stay put for the foreseeable future, with there no need for him to consider a new challenge at this stage.
He added: “Lautaro has a five-year contract with Inter and the news that comes out is exclusively generated by the press.”
Prior to competitive football shutting down during the coronavirus crisis, Martinez had netted 16 times through 31 appearances for Inter in the 2019-20.

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